939: Bigdala

Adam Curry & John C. Dvorak

3h 0m
June 18th, 2017
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Executive Producers: Sir Francis Baron of Roberts Bay

Associate Executive Producers: Sir Misner, Gordon Freeman, Rich Ballard, Ramon Kuczera, Linda Soffer

Cover Artist: Nick the Rat

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Rachel Maddow: The Rolling Stone Interview - Rolling Stone
Sun, 18 Jun 2017 14:01
Rachel Maddow sprints onto the set of The Rachel Maddow Show, brain on fire, and slides into her chair. It's two minutes before airtime at MSNBC's cavernous New York studio in Rockefeller Center and Maddow, dressed in her standard on-air black blazer and black tank top, Levi's and blue suede Adidas Gazelles stealthily hidden by her giant desk, hunches over her keyboard, pounding out last-minute revisions to her script with the speed of a court reporter. On the agenda this Friday evening in May: the ever-evolving Trump-Russia scandal and the controversial termination of FBI director James Comey, a story that might as well have been concocted to suit Maddow's brand of scathing, methodical deconstruction. She begins the hour on a note of quietly seething moral outrage, opening her monologue with a breakdown of the Comey firing, before moving through all the players in the Trump saga: Michael Flynn, Jeff Sessions, Russian oligarchs, New York's former U.S. attorney Preet Bharara '' and ending with a note about a series of investigations taking place in various inspectors-general offices regarding the Trump-Russia matter. They could have a devastating impact on the administration '' provided the president lets them continue, Maddow notes: "He's already fired the FBI director. He's already fired Preet Bharara and the other U.S. attorneys. He fired the deputy attorney general. Who do you think he's going to fire next?"
Launched nearly a decade ago, The Rachel Maddow Show, hosted by an openly-gay Rhodes scholar who came to TV news by way of progressive Air America Radio, is now the number-one prime-time news program on cable television. It's a significant though not totally improbable achievement for a show whose mantra, "Increase the amount of useful information in the world," has taken on new resonance in the Trump era, when a single presidential tweet can receive breathless coverage by the mainstream press, and journalism itself is denounced as "fake news." Though Trump's so-far chaotic presidency has helped boost cable ratings across the board, no program has benefited as much as Maddow's, whose audience has almost tripled, from 849,000 nightly viewers in 2014 to more than 2.3 million today, and growing. In mid-May, The Rachel Maddow Show was second only to the NBA playoffs as the most-watched program on cable, period.
In person, Maddow is taller than she appears on TV '' a lanky five feet eleven '' and also less feminine, her contact lenses replaced by chunky black glasses, mascara wiped off. Maddow's one concession to the female norms of TV news is agreeing to wear makeup, which she does for precisely one hour and 15 minutes per day. Off camera, she dresses in grungy attire, which on an afternoon before Memorial Day means Levi's, a beige T-shirt, a hole-ridden thrift-shop denim shirt, and camouflage Adidas Shell Toes. "They're invisible," she says about her sneakers, though she could be talking about herself. At 44, Maddow is naturally, neutrally pretty, which is a positive if one's aim is to let the words, not the image, make the point. "I have no visual-presentation goals for myself," she says in her office at 30 Rock. A long rack of near-identical dark suit jackets hangs on one wall. "It's on purpose. You line me up with Lawrence O'Donnell and Chris Hayes and Brian Williams, and we've all got a very similar shade of the same haircut."
As is true for many journalists, Maddow's office is sort of a mess, with manila file folders stacked on the floor, and printouts of various stories she's keeping track of piled on her desk and along the windowsill. "This is how I'm going to die one day '' crushed under a pile of paper," she says, giving me a quickie tour of her various tchotchkes: the Trout of North America wall calendar that she quickly flips to May (it was still on March); her Vladimir Putin nesting dolls; a G.I. Joe, still in its box; a metal Tabasco tub housing her Emmy, which is lying sideways, a tiny bit of gold orb emerging from the top. On the whiteboard behind Maddow's desk is a running, if haphazardly diagrammed, list of the stories she's thinking about, with the most important circled in blue marker. Perpetual favorites like Flynn and Trump's ex-campaign manager Paul Manafort hold a prominent place. Another name floating in its own blue circle: Viktor Medvedchuk, "a superclose-to-Putin oligarch" whose name recently turned up in intercepts for having had contact with the Trump campaign. "But we haven't talked about the fact that he was [also] one of the first individuals sanctioned by the U.S. government after the Crimea thing," says Maddow. "And so what is that guy doing talking to the Trump campaign during the campaign when he is one of the sanctioned individuals?"
Maddow goes on like this, describing the other stories she finds fascinating, or more specifically, pinpointing the most under-reported, yet possibly important, facet of the stories that interest her, and then drilling down, which can be riveting, as well as exhausting. But that's just how Maddow's brain works. "What's remarkable about Rachel is that she actually is that brilliant," says her senior producer Laura Conaway, who has worked for Maddow since 2009. "The thing about this show is it starts with digesting an enormous amount of information every day, and then basically throwing it all out and saying, 'OK, that's what everybody already knows.' It requires attention, and Rachel is supremely gifted at paying attention."
Maddow's friend and fellow MSNBC host Chris Hayes, who considers her a mentor, compares her to LeBron James. "No one can do what she does," he says. "She is a master of the medium in a way that is just unparalleled '' she can figure out how to tell a story and do things she cares about in ways that grab people's attention, without just going to where the attention is. And she does that every night. To produce what she produces every day is kind of incomprehensible to me, actually."
Maddow came to journalism almost by accident. Raised east of San Francisco in suburban Castro Valley, she learned to read using the newspaper '' her parents, an attorney and a school administrator, have said she was reading before kindergarten '' but grew up in the Bay Area as more of a participant than an observer, playing high school sports and, by her teens, becoming heavily involved in AIDS activism. At Stanford, where Maddow enrolled in 1990, she studied public policy, and then went on to earn her doctorate in politics at the University of Oxford in England. After returning from England in 1998, Maddow moved to western Massachusetts to work on her dissertation, crashing with friends and working any odd job she could find: bucket washer at a local coffee-roasting factory, delivery girl, yard worker, minimum-wage news reader at the local Holyoke radio station. The station held a contest to find a new sidekick for the host of its morning show. Maddow, who'd never worked in media, entered and won. "I stumbled into that job, but it just really clicked," Maddow says. "I liked being in charge of the news. I found I really liked explaining things."
TRMS is nothing if not a lengthy explanation of the news that Maddow is most interested in, particularly the opening segment, or "A Block," which she usually writes herself, sometimes with help from Conaway or other producers. The show's format of deep-dive analysis and investigative reporting is not easy to produce, and a typical day can last anywhere from 12 to 14 hours. Maddow, who lives with her longtime partner, photographer Susan Mikula, in western Massachusetts, maintains an apartment in Manhattan where she lives during the week, making the three-hour-plus drive back and forth to Massachusetts every weekend. Her workday begins at around 11 a.m., when she arrives at her office, reads through every bit of news she can get her hands on, and then spends a few hours researching or reporting what interests her the most. At around 2 p.m., Maddow convenes her staff in the newsroom to plan the evening's show, though, given the volatility of the current news cycle, what seems relevant at 3 p.m. might be sidelined by six.
One afternoon, I sit in on a production meeting with Maddow and about 20 staffers. The news of the day pertains to the president's latest pre-dawn tweet storm, in which Trump mused about canceling White House press briefings, and later hinted that he "might" have secretly recorded his meetings with Comey. Maddow, wearing a brown hoodie, stands in front of a large whiteboard, marker in hand, studying a long list of potential story ideas. She considers the taping issue, which White House spokesman Sean Spicer refuses to comment on: "If Trump says there are tapes and there actually is a taping system, then it's relevant that Spicer has no comment." She looks at her staff. "Who thinks he has a taping system?" Everyone raises a hand.
Maddow's high school senior picture. Seth Poppel Why Trump would admit to this is puzzling. Quite possibly, he's just being Trump; on the other hand, as Maddow points out, with the potential obstruction-of-justice issues that secretly taping your FBI director might raise, his comments are worrisome. "It does seem like the president is melting down, like there's something'‰.'‰.'‰.'‰degenerating in his statements," she says. "But it's not our business."
"When is it our business?" asks Maddow's executive producer, Cory Gnazzo.
"When they invoke the 25th Amendment," says Conaway.
A short debate ensues over when, if ever, the show could broach the president's mental fitness. Maddow quickly dismisses it. "Trump has mastered the political media by causing you to lose focus and then re-center on whatever it is he's just said," she tells me later. "But I'm not interested in what the president has to say."
What's your rule about how to cover this administration?
We have a mantra when it comes to this administration: "Don't pay attention to what they say, focus on what they do." And that is very helpful, because it's easier to cover a fast-moving story when you're not distracted by whatever the White House denials are. It's fascinating that H.R. McMaster and Dina Powell and Rex Tillerson, these very impressive people, all came out and denied that the president gave the Russians secret intelligence in the Oval Office. But, then, the next morning the president was like, "Yeah, I did tell the Russians!" So that's a sign to not get too hung up on what the White House is saying at any moment, because even their most credible people are being put forward to lie, bluntly, regularly'‰.'‰.'‰.'‰and it's OK!
Do you marvel at the degree to which the administration just blatantly lies?
I think it's more helpful to take that information, the fact that the White House is putting out nonfactual information on a regular basis, and internalize it. What it means is there is a whole area of information coming from "White House sources" that has no meaningful impact on what I understand to be true about the world. For me, that's helpful in an organizational way.
How do you decide what to cover?
First, you need to be able to synthesize a lot of information, and then exclude from your field of consideration the stuff that isn't important so you can find the salient, new thing. And that is very rarely something overt.
Let's talk about the Russia story. You got on that very early, and stuck with it.
Well, I mean, I'm not keeping it alive for its own sake. There's a lot of scandal associated with this new administration. Some of it is like normal political scandal '' like Tom Price trading health stocks while he was in a public position to regulate those stocks. That's a bad scandal, but it's kind of normal political corruption. It's almost quaint. Then, there are Trump-specific scandals, like we now have a ruling family where there's a crowned prince who's an adviser without remit, and we've got unqualified nepotistic appointments and conflicts of interest and Trump not disclosing his taxes. And then there is this third scandal, which is about the existence of this presidency. That's an existential scandal. If this presidency is knowingly the product of a foreign-intelligence operation, that's not Tom Price trading stocks that he was also affecting the price of as a public official, you know? That is a full-stop national crisis. Does that mean Russia makes the air every day, even if nothing appears new? No. But when there is something to say about it, I'm going to report it insistently. And I'm willing to do that even if it bothers people.
Maddow her partner, the photographer Susan Mikula, in San Francisco. Alamy Do you care if you have haters? Sean Hannity called you one of the "worst examples" of the "propaganda press."
Sean Hannity said that? That's nice. I don't play requests. I get to decide what we cover. From the very beginning, I've had a deal with MSNBC that they don't tell me what to cover, what not to cover or how to cover what I cover. I'm not trying to make people happy. I'm trying to do an excellent job telling the stories that I think are important. That's all I can do.
Does it matter to you to be first on a story?
No. I want to matter. When something important is happening, I want people to feel like they should come to me. Sometimes news will break during our hour, and whether or not we're first, we've got to absorb it, figure out that it's important, fact-check it, turn it around, present it to the viewers, and we nail it, and that can be a real source of pride.
Do you think it's possible the Trump campaign had no knowledge of the Russian hacking?
I absolutely believe it's possible. I mean, Russia clearly did this attack, and there's lots of circumstantial evidence that points at lots of unexplained and surreptitious contact between Trump people and Russian people at the time that was happening. But circumstantial evidence is circumstantial evidence. This is a serious thing that needs to be chased down to the end.
It's hard to chase Trump down '' he's like an escaped electron.
Exactly '' irradiating everything he bumps into. That's a pretty good analogy.
How did you manage the shock of election night?
It's funny '' if you look at right-wing social media there's this whole thing about how I had a meltdown on election night and cried. And they found tape of me talking about a totally unrelated story months earlier and said that that was me on election night. But I was actually pretty calm that night, and the reason I was pretty calm is because there's a lot to do. I'm not a good ad-libber, and anchoring election night is five, six, seven, eight hours of ad-libbing, which for me is like juggling seven tennis balls while merging onto the freeway at night in the rain with no wipers and no lights. So, no, I had no feelings on election night.
What about the morning after?
I had the same shock as everybody, but we had to get back on the air. And that's a very constructive place to be, because my job is to explain what's going on, what's important and whether there are factual and historically analogous things that might help you connect and understand the import of what's happening. If I'm waylaid by being upset or angry, that doesn't help me explain what's happening.
Do you have to work hard to contain those emotions?
I'm not having an emotional reaction to the news. I'm really not. It's like if you're a surgeon who's removing brain tumors. While you're doing the surgery, do you feel sad for the person having gotten the tumor? No, you're working on taking care of the tumor and fixing it.
Because tumors can be deadly if you don't get rid of them, which is not unlike how some people see the state of our country right now.'‰.'‰.'‰
People feel overwhelmed when they feel like they can't do anything about it. I can do something about it! While we're having this incredibly scandalous presidency, and the result of this foreign attack that had this big effect on our country, I get to come to work every day and make sense of it and explain it and find out new information about it, and put that out in the world. I feel like I'm doing work that's needed. That feels good.
How collaborative is your process?
It takes a village. I mean, there are individual segments, and particularly A Blocks, that I will just go into the silo and produce on my own, but you can't do that for the whole show. You can't write 8,000 words a day on your own. There are definitely segments that are almost wholly born from producers, and I really count on them.
Do you see yourself as the captain of the ship?
Oh, I'm not a captain '' I mean, if I was a parent, the children would starve, you know? Like, I can't really deal with hirings and firings and vacations and birthdays and keeping people happy. I'm blessed with producers who are really good with humans.'‰.'‰.'‰.'‰I'm not great at that. I focus entirely on editorial content.
Do you ever find it frustrating that Trump's supporters just don't seem to care about any of these scandals?
I don't think much about how the news is received, or whether or not it is moving people. The news is the news, whether or not people are feeling it. The scandals of the Trump administration, I'd argue, are the most serious scandals that any president has ever faced, not even just since Nixon.
In the early days of Watergate, about half the country didn't pay much attention '' it was only when people started going to jail that it resonated.
If the Trump scandals prove to be as bad as they might be and what the FBI is investigating turns out to be worst-case scenario '' guilty, did it '' then I think the American people as a whole will respond to that appropriately, by recognizing this as an unprecedented, and remarkably successful, foreign attack on the foundations of our country. Will there be outliers? Yes. But I think, in general, if this thing proves out '' and it might not '' the country will react the way you would hope we would.
That is a very optimistic way to look at the seemingly intractable partisan divisions in our country.
The American people are more patriotic than partisan when it gets to the end of the day. It's true that we're tribal and partisan and petty and all of those things, but there is also a pride and awareness of what it means to be the kind of country we are, which is unlike any other country on Earth, and I think that will bear out.
I was surprised to hear you don't see yourself as partisan when a lot of people would disagree. How do you defend that?
Oh, I'm a liberal for sure. I'm just not a candidate person. And I'm not a huge fan of the Democratic Party. I'm also less interested in the Democratic Party as a topic '' the Republican Party is more fascinating to me.
What about the Republican Party fascinates you?
I'm like a sociological student of the Republican Party '' even absent Trump. There is a robust, well-funded, decades-old, superorganized, focused, competent conservative movement that exists outside the Republican Party that yanks the party's chain whenever they want to. The Republican Party is like an old burned-out husk of a Ford Pinto that blew up 'cause its gas tank was in the wrong place, but it's attached to a giant jet engine. The Democratic Party is like a Honda Civic. It putters through the world in a predictable way, and you like it or not depending on if you find small, unpowerful things cute. But the Republican Party has this incredible propulsion and no way to steer it.
"I had no feelings on election night," says Maddow, shown here hosting election coverage with Brian Williams. Heidi Gutman/MSNBC/NBCU/Getty You had a collegial relationship with Roger Ailes, who helped create this toxic political environment we're in. What made you seek him out?
I wasn't seeking help from him on how to "create a toxic political environment," I was looking for help on my camera angles! But I don't want to talk about the technical advice he gave me, because I consider it to be both a gift and also proprietary '' like, I use it, I don't want anybody else to use it. It was a nice thing that he did for me, and it's been very valuable '' it helped me get an advantage over my competitors.
Was it hard for you to reconcile the Ailes you knew with the Ailes who was accused of serial sexual harassment?
It was just never my experience of him. I knew him in a very specific context. I've never been in his office. I've never seen him interact with his staff. I only ever saw him in public. We'd meet and have breakfast. I'm horrified by the allegations against him, and I am appreciative of how serious Fox must have found them to be in order to fire him. But I didn't know anything about it. I was never in touch with Roger after those allegations became public.
Did you ever try?
It's funny, the last time that we had any communication was within 48 hours of that story breaking with the allegations. I'd sent him a note saying that I wanted to see him. Nothing urgent, just let's put a date on the calendar. After the story broke, I remember thinking, "I wonder if he'll ask me to vouch for him or something." But I never heard from him again.
Your not having any idea is a bit hard to swallow, when there were stories for years about how he dealt with women. Unless he treated you more like a guy?
Yeah, I'm not that female. I've been an out lesbian since I was a teenager. I look like a dude. I'm totally comfortable with that. I am not trying to be on TV because I like the way I look on TV or because I love the glamour.
Though I vaguely remember seeing you on Tucker Carlson's show with longer hair and a pink jacket.
That wasn't me, dude. That was them. When I first started at MSNBC, they had this poor person whose job it was to dress the talent, and she tried to turn me into a person who looks the way they're supposed to look on television. Can you imagine?
Still, I'm curious if being a woman in this business resonates for you.
Look, this business is very, very, very male. It's great that one outcome of the Fox turmoil is that they've apparently got a woman who's taken [some part of] Bill Shine's job '' the top executive job there. You don't see that here. You don't see that at CNN.
Why do you think some Americans hate and distrust the media so much?
It's a convenient foil. I don't really care. I am a cheerleader for the American media and I feel like the free press is going to be what saves us from the political crisis that we are in. We just need to keep doing what we're doing.
What do you think we could do better?
I think the media needs to be protective in terms of its business model. There needs to be a remunerative vocation, which is called reporter, which is called editor, which is called publisher.... We need to do what we can to make sure that we defend people that are attacked for doing that work, and [also] that there are journalism jobs that pay above minimum wage so we get good people doing this work.
Amen.
Right? I mean, news doesn't just happen '' people need to appreciate that news comes from people digging it up and that journalism is a noble thing, and we've got to cheer for it when it succeeds.
A lot of people criticized the way you reported on Trump's tax return [summary pages of which were first uncovered by David Cay Johnston of DCReport.org]. Do you think that's fair?
I had two pages of Donald Trump's tax returns from 2005. For me, it was very important that I made sure they were real and I wasn't getting punked, and then that I put them out there in the world in a way that I felt explained their importance. That's what I do with the news every day. I find something, figure out if it's true, figure out what I think is important about it and then explain what I think is important about it. And I try to be accurate and insightful.
But what people latched onto was that it was promoted on Twitter in a way that led people to believe it was going to be a bigger deal than it was.
There were two tweets. I can't even quote it directly, but it's like, "Breaking: We have Trump tax returns. Seriously." Then I followed that up with, "We have the 1040 form from 2005." And then I got on the air and said, "We've got these two pages. This is the 1040 form from 2005. This is how we got them. This is why we believe they are real. I've got the reporter here who got them and here's why it's important that the first-ever known authenticated Donald Trump federal tax returns are now in the public domain."
"I'm rarely satisfied '' I mostly would grade myself below a C for any particular show," says Maddow, whose show often ranks number one for nightly cable news. MSNBC Do you feel like you oversold it, though?
I felt like I did exactly what I wanted to do. You can't really do any worthwhile work if you're hoping for a specific response from people. This is what I do and some people like it and some people don't, and some days you're up and some days you're down in terms of whether people think you're a good person or a bad person.
Are you generally happy with your performance?
Oh, I'm rarely satisfied '' I mostly would grade myself below a C for any particular show, as our average.
Below a C?
Well, I mean, we have technical failures. Sometimes we have boring guests. Sometimes I do a lousy job in an interview. Just sloppiness, in writing, bad editing, typos sometimes screw shit up. But occasionally, we do shows that I think are really good '' I'm not blind to when we do a good job.
What's your metric for doing a good job?
Whether I got it right and whether or not I've advanced the story. And every once in a while you see your influence in the world. You see people grasp a story that you've broken or a point that you have been able to introduce into the dialogue around something. But again, you can't aim at it. All you can try to do is get the work right.
What would you say is your biggest deficit on TV?
I don't think I'm a very good interviewer. In general, that's not my skill. Sometimes we've brought on a person because they really have a thing to add, and then I just don't ask them the thing that elucidates the thing that we brought them on the air for. That makes me crazy.
Who do you see as a great interviewer?
You know who I think is amazing? Chris Matthews. And I know that sounds weird, because he's famous for interrupting people. But he interrupts people because he's listening so hard to them. He knows where people are going and he jumps in to get more out of them. The times I've seen Chris interview Trump were the most illuminating interviews with him I've ever seen, because he was able to draw more stuff out of Trump than anyone else.
I don't see you as someone who is even interested in that method '' people come on your show to have a conversation.
Right! I have a tacit contract with my viewers that if I invite somebody onto my show it's because I believe they have something you ought to hear. But that genteel kind of kid-glove handling of my guests isn't as extractive as it could be. I'm glad there are a lot of different types of people who do this job. The way I do it is not for everybody.
Have you found the whole fake-news and "alternative facts" stuff to be a distraction?
I mean, who cares? It's like sticks and stones. I am interested in the president denigrating the press '' and the judiciary and the intelligence community and law enforcement '' because that is important in terms of his behavior as an increasingly authoritarian-style leader, the type of which we have never had before at this level of American politics, period. I am not interested in it because it offends me. When speech becomes behavior, then it is relevant. I don't watch the press briefing. I don't read the president's tweets. In general, "The president has tweeted X" is an overblown story.
What was the thing that surprised you most about working in TV?
Just how much smoke-blowing there is '' a lot of people saying, "Wow! That was so awesome," when you're like, "Are you sure?"
You also get a lot of people who believe that they're great, when they kind of suck.
I'm always aware of all the ways that failure can creep into everything I'm doing. I'm constantly battling in order to achieve something that I'm not embarrassed by, which people think is self-deprecating, but it's fucking motivating.
And also tiring?
It's really tiring. I have the best staff in news, but it's hard to keep people for the long haul. Our work tempo is so exhausting. It's just hard.
Can you ever unplug?
I threw my back out, so I unplug less than I used to. There are three things I do to stay sane: I exercise, I sleep '' I'm a good sleeper '' and I fish. I cannot do any of those things with this back injury.
There are three things I do to stay sane," says Maddow. "I exercise, I sleep and I fish." Courtesy of Maddowblog Even fishing?
I mean, like, I can '' I went out last weekend with a friend of mine who blew out her knee the day after I hurt my back. Usually, we're, like, out there in the river and rappelling down gorges and doing crazy stuff. Now, there's the two of us in folding chairs, fishing for shad in the Connecticut River. It was so sad.
Aside from your passion for fishing, is there a side to you that we don't see on TV?
What do you think?
I think you're essentially a private person who prefers to reveal a part of yourself.
Yeah. I'm not pretending to be somebody that I'm not on television. But there's a slice of me that I put on television.
How big of a slice?
Do any of us know the extent of who we are?
Onscreen, you seem pretty authentic.
I try to at least give some cue that I'm giving you my own personal take on this now. But I don't yell. I'm not gonna pound the table and wave my fist in the air. That's not going to help.
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A Spanish youth coach is sacked after his team wins 25-0 - BBC Sport
Sun, 18 Jun 2017 15:03
Many Spanish youth clubs are said to stop counting once the scoreline reaches double digitsThe coach of a Spanish youth team has been sacked after a 25-0 win - because the club's management decided the margin of victory went against the spirit of the game.
After defeating fellow Valencia side Benicalap C on 3 June, Serranos B's under-11 manager was removed from his position.
"We believe in encouraging respect for your opponents. After the result, we decided that the manager should leave," Pablo Alcaide, who helps run the side, told El Pais.
However, the Spanish newspaper also published comments from the manager's lawyer, who insisted his client had not pushed players to score as many as they could.
The manager instead instructed his side "to pressure only in their own half" in the eight-a-side game, but Benicalap C "continued to attack and left spaces in behind", the lawyer said.
The game was Benicalap C's final match of the season. They finished bottom of the league with zero points and 247 goals conceded from their 30 matches.
El Pais reports that such one-sided scores are not infrequent in Spanish youth football, but many clubs stop counting once they have scored more than 10 goals.
The English FA's latest guidance to youth coaches, published in 2012, is designed to "challenge the win-at-all-costs mentality that is stifling development and enjoyment for young people".
"Head Stuck in a Cycle I Look Off and I Stare" A personal letter from Gaga - Born This Way Foundation
Sat, 17 Jun 2017 19:47
At Born This Way Foundation, we believe in telling your story '' good or bad, challenging or triumphant. Deciding to speak openly can be hard, but it can also be a gateway to healing and a comfort to others who thought they were alone.
There has been a tremendous response to our co-founder Lady Gaga's brave admission that she has been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Below is an open letter she wrote sharing her story. We hope it will be an inspiration to others to do the same and to seek the help and support they need to recover.
I have wrestled for some time about when, how and if I should reveal my diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). After five years of searching for the answers to my chronic pain and the change I have felt in my brain, I am finally well enough to tell you. There is a lot of shame attached to mental illness, but it's important that you know that there is hope and a chance for recovery.
It is a daily effort for me, even during this album cycle, to regulate my nervous system so that I don't panic over circumstances that to many would seem like normal life situations. Examples are leaving the house or being touched by strangers who simply want to share their enthusiasm for my music.
I also struggle with triggers from the memories I carry from my feelings of past years on tour when my needs and requests for balance were being ignored. I was overworked and not taken seriously when I shared my pain and concern that something was wrong. I ultimately ended up injured on the Born This Way Ball. That moment and the memory of it has changed my life forever. The experience of performing night after night in mental and physical pain ingrained in me a trauma that I relive when I see or hear things that remind me of those days.
I also experience something called dissociation which means that my mind doesn't want to relive the pain so ''I look off and I stare'' in a glazed over state. As my doctors have taught me, I cannot express my feelings because my pre-frontal cortex (the part of the brain that controls logical, orderly thought) is overridden by the amygdala (which stores emotional memory) and sends me into a fight or flight response. My body is in one place and my mind in another. It's like the panic accelerator in my mind gets stuck and I am paralyzed with fear.
When this happens I can't talk. When this happens repeatedly, it makes me have a common PTSD reaction which is that I feel depressed and unable to function like I used to. It's harder to do my job. It's harder to do simple things like take a shower. Everything has become harder. Additionally, when I am unable to regulate my anxiety, it can result in somatization, which is pain in the body caused by an inability to express my emotional pain in words.
But I am a strong and powerful woman who is aware of the love I have around me from my team, my family and friends, my doctors and from my incredible fans who I know will never give up on me. I will never give up on my dreams of art and music. I am continuing to learn how to transcend this because I know I can. If you relate to what I am sharing, please know that you can too.
Traditionally, many associate PTSD as a condition faced by brave men and women that serve countries all over the world. While this is true, I seek to raise awareness that this mental illness affects all kinds of people, including our youth. I pledge not only to help our youth not feel ashamed of their own conditions, but also to lend support to those servicemen and women who suffer from PTSD. No one's invisible pain should go unnoticed.
I am doing various modalities of psychotherapy and am on medicine prescribed by my psychiatrist. However, I believe that the most inexpensive and perhaps the best medicine in the world is words. Kind words'...positive words'...words that help people who feel ashamed of an invisible illness to overcome their shame and feel free. This is how I and we can begin to heal. I am starting today, because secrets keep you sick. And I don't want to keep this secret anymore.
A note from my psychologist, drnancy;
If you think you might have PTSD, please seek professional help. There is so much hope for recovery. Many people think that the event that stimulated PTSD needs to be the focus. Yet often, people will experience the same event and have completely different reactions to it. It is my opinion that trauma occurs in an environment where your feelings and emotional experience are not valued, heard and understood. The specific event is not the cause of traumatic experience. This lack of a ''relational home'' for feelings is the true cause of traumatic experience. Finding support is key.
Click here or visit the National Institute for Mental Health for more information on PTSD in all its forms and where to find help. If you are in crisis now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8225).
SUPER WOKE: New 'Call of Duty' Lets You Play as Black Lady Nazis | Heat Street
Sun, 18 Jun 2017 12:32
The upcoming Call of Duty: World War II has brought up a pressing question in the debate over intersectionality in video games.
Can a game get so politically correct it becomes viscerally offensive?
Apparently those bastards at Sledgehammer Games managed to pull it off by letting you play as black women Nazis in multiplayer mode. This was noticed by gamers and journalists at E3'--the world's largest gaming expo'--where the game was available to play.
The developer wanted to add diversity, by allowing players to customize the character they play in multiplayer. This means, you can change the race and gender of your soldier avatar. When playing, the game randomly places you on a different team, usually Americans or Nazis, so sometimes, you're gonna get some pretty ahistorical looking Nazis.
This might be why the multiplayer was scrubbed of all Swastikas, on army uniforms and in maps of Berlin.
''We didn't feel like it was appropriate there,'' said Michael Condrey of Sledgehammer Games in a livestream interview. ''It's a dark symbol and we have to be really respectful and mindful of customs and regulations of different territories and we wanted the whole community to play it together. You'll see it in the campaign in a historical and accurate way but not in multiplayer and zombies.''
So in the mind of Sledgehammer Games, black Nazis are not offensive if you remove all the swastikas. Flawless logic.
Follow me on Twitter @William__Hicks
Slave Scanner$
TSA Testing New CT Scanner That Could Eventually Ease Restrictions On Liquids, Electronics '' Consumerist
Sun, 18 Jun 2017 11:43
Imagine a future where you can bring a large bottle of water and your laptop or tablet with you into the cabin of a commercial flight. The Transportation Security Administration is testing one of its new computerized tomography (CT) scanning machines for carry-on bags in Phoenix, and will soon launch a test in Boston. The use of these machines in the future could mean fewer restrictions on carry-on items, and faster security screening.
The TSA uses CT scanners on checked baggage, but hasn't yet introduced them for carry-ons because of the machines' size and cost, the Associated Press reports. Now, though, the technology holds promise for getting more people through airports faster, and smaller machines have been developed that are an appropriate size for the passenger security checkpoint.
TSA
''Small'' is a relative term, and the checkpoint-size machines still probably wouldn't fit in your kitchen. However, the use of high-tech imaging instead of plain X-Rays means that the density of items inside a bag can be calculated, making it easier to detect items that could be explosives. The three-dimensional image can be rotated and manipulated without opening up the bag.
''We already use this type of technology for checked baggage, and we expect these smaller checkpoint-sized machines will provide the same high level of security,'' TSA Acting Administrator Huban Gowadia said in a statement.
After authorities became aware of possible terrorist plots involving bombs disguised as consumer electronics, the Department of Homeland Security banned laptops and tablets on flights to the United States from select airports in Africa and the Middle East, and considered a similar ban for flights originating in Europe.
While a laptop restriction could still happen in the future, it won't for now. Letting passengers bring liquids on board, though, would save a lot of time at check-in and decrease passenger stress over what foods and liquids, like medication and pumped breast milk, they're able to bring on board a plane.
New Airport Scanners Could End Bans on Laptops and Liquids - Bloomberg
Sun, 18 Jun 2017 11:45
Manufacturers of airport security equipment have a message for travelers who fear they will have to give up laptops and tablet computers on international flights: They have a solution.
At least four of the largest companies making screening devices say they are developing scanners so much better at detecting explosives than existing X-ray machines that passengers could leave laptops, other electronics and even liquids in their bags, vastly simplifying airport security.
''It's a no brainer,'' said Joseph Paresi, chief executive officer of Integrated Defense & Security Solutions Inc., which has developed one of the new scanning machines that has passed initial U.S. government testing. ''It's not if. It's when it's going to happen.''
But the speed with which U.S., European and other security agencies can put them into widespread use remains an open question. After being burned by attempts to roll out new screening equipment in the past -- such as having to warehouse hundreds of so-called puffer machines designed to detect explosives because they didn't perform well in real-world conditions a decade ago -- the Transportation Security Administration has instituted multiple layers of performance tests.
And Congress hasn't appropriated funds for large purchases of the machines. Adding the devices, which list for several hundred thousand dollars each, at thousands of airport security lines in just the U.S. could cost $1 billion or more.
Previously: U.S. Said to Call Terror Risk Critical in Laptop-Ban Meeting
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The U.S. Department of Homeland Security in March banned electronic devices larger than a mobile phone from airliner cabins on flights from 10 Middle East and North Africa airports to the U.S., citing concerns that terrorists had created ways to conceal explosives in them. Since then, the agency has been considering expanding the ban to Europe -- over the objections of the European Commission and air carriers.
At the same time, TSA is conducting tests of closer screening procedures for electronics at 10 U.S. airports with an eye toward expanding them nationwide.
Groups representing airlines and airports say they are hopeful that new technology could ease the need for the new security measures.
''The ban on large personal electronic devices in the cabin has certainly highlighted the importance of governments stepping up their support for more capable checkpoint screening technology to respond to emerging threats,'' Perry Flint, spokesman for the International Air Transport Association trade group, said in an interview. IATA represents 265 airlines around the world.
The Laptop Ban and What It Means for Air Travel: QuickTake Q&A
There is optimism over the ability of these machines -- which borrow computed tomography or CT scan technology from the medical world to create a high-definition, three-dimension view inside a bag -- to address the new threats.
The TSA has tested two of the devices and plans to place one of each in airports later this year to study how they operate in the trying environment of airport security lanes. The devices are built by IDSS and L3 Technologies Inc.
''CT technology has the potential to significantly improve security as well as the checkpoint experience for travelers,'' TSA spokesman Michael England said in an emailed statement. ''However, while this technology has shown promise, more testing is needed before it can be rolled out nationwide.''
The current X-ray machines at airports shoot two views of a bag or bin, providing TSA screeners a color view of the interior. While superior to earlier generations of X-ray machines, they have their limitations. In tests by government agents, screeners frequently miss weapons and simulated bombs.
Is the Laptop Ban About Terrorism or Protectionism? (Video)
CT machines provide a far more detailed picture of a bag's contents. A spinning X-ray camera can capture more than 1,000 images of a piece of luggage from different angles, allowing a computer to create a high-definition, three-dimensional view. By calculating the densities of material, even small amounts of explosives can be automatically detected.
The same CT technology is used in machines installed at airports after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks to detect explosives in checked bags.
In promotional material, L3's Security & Detection Systems division said its CT checkpoint scanner could streamline airport screening. The device has a lower false-alarm rate than current X-ray systems, which decreases the need for time-consuming, hand searches of bags, the company said.
Because passengers could leave laptops and other devices in bags, it reduces the number of bins that must be scanned, which also improves efficiency, according to the company.
Smiths Detection Inc., the Smiths Group Plc division that makes security screening devices, is making a CT scanner that it will submit to TSA for testing, company President Dan Gelston said in an emailed statement. The company uses CT technology in its checked-bag screening machines.
More PowerAnalogic Corp., a Massachusetts-based company making medical and security equipment, has also developed a CT scanner for airports, according to the company's website.
While there may be logistical issues installing the new machines, which are heavier than traditional X-ray devices and require more power, airports would welcome an upgrade, said Christopher Bidwell, vice president of security at Airports Council International-North America.
"Computed tomography systems have real potential and should be tested," he said.
Paresi, who founded IDSS to make this new generation of airport scanners and talks with a preacher's fervor about their potential, acknowledges that many technical and political hurdles remain before they become commonplace at airports. But he believes an expanding ban of laptops and tablet readers in airline cabins could be a catalyst to speed adoption.
''If you have technology to solve the problem, wouldn't it make sense to deploy that equipment?" he said.
New Baggage Scanners May Someday Let You Bring Liquids Through Airport Security '' Consumerist
Sun, 18 Jun 2017 11:44
The Transportation Security Administration may be testing new ways to get travelers through security checkpoints more quickly and efficiently by having them remove additional items from their carry-on bags, but the companies that make these devices have developed technology that could eventually save you from having to take out your laptop at the checkpoint or guzzle that bottle of water before you're forced to throw it out.
Bloomberg reports that at least four companies that make machines used to screen bags at airports are working on new technology that would be able to better detect explosives and ease new security measures such the international laptop ban.
The machines, one of which has passed initial testing in the U.S., differ from the baggage scanners commonly used at airports in that it utilizes computed tomography '-- or CT '-- scan technology to create high-definition, three-dimensional views of luggage.
This technology can provide a clearer look into a bag, calculating the densities of objects. This, Bloomberg notes, can allow even small amounts of explosives to be uncovered. Similar machines are already at work in airports, used for the screening of checked luggage.
''CT technology has the potential to significantly improve security as well as the checkpoint experience for travelers,'' TSA spokesman Michael England tells Bloomberg. ''However, while this technology has shown promise, more testing is needed before it can be rolled out nationwide.''
To do that testing, TSA plans to place two machines at different airports this year to see how they function in actual security lines.
But even if the machines work, they likely won't be showing up in your local airport anytime soon. With a price tag of hundreds of thousands of dollars per unit, the government would have to spend billions of dollars to place the machines at all U.S. airports, Bloomberg reports.
Still, when the new machines are placed in airports, the manufacturers believe they will enable passengers to keep liquids and electronics inside bags. This would reduce the time spent in security lines as customers wouldn't have to dig through belongings to remove the items for individual scans.
Homeland Security Won't Expand Laptop Ban To Flights From Europe (For Now) '' Consumerist
Sun, 18 Jun 2017 11:44
The Department of Homeland Security has confirmed to Consumerist that it will not be expanding a ban on laptops in the cabins of U.S.-bound aircraft to cover flights coming from Europe. At the same time, DHS cautions that this restriction still remains a possibility in the future.
A spokesman for the DHS told Consumerist that Secretary John Kelly spoke on the phone with European Home Affairs Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos and Violeta Bulc, the EU's Transport Commissioner, on Tuesday to discuss aviation security.
While on the call, the three ''agreed on the need to raise the bar for aviation security globally, including through a range of potential seen and unseen enhancements,'' and committed to working together to ''secure global aviation,'' while keeping the lines of communication and cooperation clear.
''Finally, while a much-discussed expansion of the ban on large electronic devices in the cabin on flights to the United States was not announced today, the Secretary made it clear that an expansion is still on the table,'' the spokesperson said in a statement.
Secretary Kelly said he would do whatever it takes to secure passenger flights heading to the U.S. '-- ''including prohibiting large electronic devices from the passenger cabin '' if the intelligence and threat level warrant it.''
''Over the last few months DHS has continuously reached out to global aviation partners regarding serious and evolving threats to aviation, and the Department will continue to do so,'' the spokesperson told Consumerist.
Professor Ted
Revealed: Facebook exposed identities of moderators to suspected terrorists | Technology | The Guardian
Sat, 17 Jun 2017 15:49
'I can't walk anywhere without looking back': a moderator describes psychological damage after his personal details were leaked to suspected terrorists he removed from the platform. Photograph: Dado Ruvic/Reuters
Facebook put the safety of its content moderators at risk after inadvertently exposing their personal details to suspected terrorist users of the social network, the Guardian has learned.
The security lapse affected more than 1,000 workers across 22 departments at Facebook who used the company's moderation software to review and remove inappropriate content from the platform, including sexual material, hate speech and terrorist propaganda.
A bug in the software, discovered late last year, resulted in the personal profiles of content moderators automatically appearing as notifications in the activity log of the Facebook groups, whose administrators were removed from the platform for breaching the terms of service. The personal details of Facebook moderators were then viewable to the remaining admins of the group.
Of the 1,000 affected workers, around 40 worked in a counter-terrorism unit based at Facebook's European headquarters in Dublin, Ireland. Six of those were assessed to be ''high priority'' victims of the mistake after Facebook concluded their personal profiles were likely viewed by potential terrorists.
The Guardian spoke to one of the six, who did not wish to be named out of concern for his and his family's safety. The Iraqi-born Irish citizen, who is in his early twenties, fled Ireland and went into hiding after discovering that seven individuals associated with a suspected terrorist group he banned from Facebook '' an Egypt-based group that backed Hamas and, he said, had members who were Islamic State sympathizers '' had viewed his personal profile.
Facebook confirmed the security breach in a statement and said it had made technical changes to ''better detect and prevent these types of issues from occurring''.
''We care deeply about keeping everyone who works for Facebook safe,'' a spokesman said. ''As soon as we learned about the issue, we fixed it and began a thorough investigation to learn as much as possible about what happened.''
The moderator who went into hiding was among hundreds of ''community operations analysts'' contracted by global outsourcing company Cpl Recruitment. Community operations analysts are typically low-paid contractors tasked with policing Facebook for content that breaches its community standards.
Overwhelmed with fear that he could face retaliation, the moderator, who first came to Ireland as an asylum seeker when he was a child, quit his job and moved to eastern Europe for five months.
The punishment from Isis for working in counter-terrorism is beheading. All they'd need to do is tell someone
''It was getting too dangerous to stay in Dublin,'' he said, explaining that his family had already experienced the horrifying impact of terrorism: his father had been kidnapped and beaten and his uncle executed in Iraq.
''The only reason we're in Ireland was to escape terrorism and threats,'' he said.
The moderator said that others within the high-risk six had their personal profiles viewed by accounts with ties to Isis, Hezbollah and the Kurdistan Workers Party. Facebook complies with the US state department's designation of terrorist groups.
''When you come from a war zone and you have people like that knowing your family name you know that people get butchered for that,'' he said. ''The punishment from Isis for working in counter-terrorism is beheading. All they'd need to do is tell someone who is radical here.''
Facebook moderators like him first suspected there was a problem when they started receiving friend requests from people affiliated with the terrorist organizations they were scrutinizing.
An urgent investigation by Facebook's security team established that personal profiles belonging to content moderators had been exposed. As soon as the leak was identified in November 2016, Facebook convened a ''task force of data scientists, community operations and security investigators'', according to internal emails seen by the Guardian, and warned all the employees and contracted staff it believed were affected. The company also set-up an email address, nameleak@fb.com, to field queries from those affected.
Facebook then discovered that the personal Facebook profiles of its moderators had been automatically appearing in the activity logs of the groups they were shutting down.
Craig D'Souza, Facebook's head of global investigations, liaised directly with some of the affected contractors, talking to the six individuals considered to be at the highest risk over video conference, email and Facebook Messenger.
In one exchange, before the Facebook investigation was complete, D'Souza sought to reassure the moderators that there was ''a good chance'' any suspected terrorists notified about their identity would fail to connect the dots.
''Keep in mind that when the person sees your name on the list, it was in their activity log, which contains a lot of information,'' D'Souza wrote, ''there is a good chance that they associate you with another admin of the group or a hacker ...''
''I understand Craig,'' replied the moderator who ended up fleeing Ireland, ''but this is taking chances. I'm not waiting for a pipe bomb to be mailed to my address until Facebook does something about it.''
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg delivers a keynote address. Six moderators were assessed as 'high priority' victims of a mistake that shared their personal details with extremist groups. Photograph: Justin Sullivan/Getty ImagesThe bug in the software was not fixed for another two weeks, on 16 November 2016. By that point the glitch had been active for a month. However, the bug was also retroactively exposing the personal profiles of moderators who had censored accounts as far back as August 2016.
Facebook offered to install a home alarm monitoring system and provide transport to and from work to those in the high risk group. The company also offered counseling through Facebook's employee assistance program, over and above counseling offered by the contractor, Cpl.
The moderator who fled Ireland was unsatisfied with the security assurances received from Facebook. In an email to D'Souza, he wrote that the high-risk six had spent weeks ''in a state of panic and emergency'' and that Facebook needed to do more to ''address our pressing concerns for our safety and our families''.
He told the Guardian that the five months he spent in eastern Europe felt like ''exile''. He kept a low profile, relying on savings to support himself. He spent his time keeping fit and liaising with his lawyer and the Dublin police, who checked up on his family while he was away. He returned to Ireland last month after running out of money, although he still lives in fear.
''I don't have a job, I have anxiety and I'm on antidepressants,'' he said. ''I can't walk anywhere without looking back.''
This month he filed a legal claim against Facebook and Cpl with the Injuries Board in Dublin. He is seeking compensation for the psychological damage caused by the leak.
Cpl did not respond to a request to comment. The statement provided by Facebook said its investigation sought to determine ''exactly which names were possibly viewed and by whom, as well as an assessment of the risk to the affected person''.
The social media giant played down the threat posed to the affected moderators, but said that it contacted each of them individually ''to offer support, answer their questions, and take meaningful steps to ensure their safety''.
''Our investigation found that only a small fraction of the names were likely viewed, and we never had evidence of any threat to the people impacted or their families as a result of this matter,'' the spokesman said.
Details of Facebook's security blunder will once again put a spotlight on the grueling and controversial work carried out by an army of thousands of low-paid staff, including in countries like the Philippines and India.
The Facebook Files: sex, violence and hate speechThe Guardian recently revealed the secret rules and guidelines Facebook uses to train moderators to police its vast network of almost two billion users, including 100 internal training manuals, spreadsheets and flowcharts.
The moderator who fled Ireland worked for a 40-strong specialist team tasked with investigating reports of terrorist activity on Facebook. He was hired because he spoke Arabic, he said.
They should have let us use fake profiles. They never warned us that something like '‹'‹this could happen
He felt that contracted staff were not treated as equals to Facebook employees but ''second-class citizens''. He was paid just '‚¬13 ($15) per hour for a role that required him to develop specialist knowledge of global terror networks and scour through often highly-disturbing material.
''You come in every morning and just look at beheadings, people getting butchered, stoned, executed,'' he said.
Facebook's policies allow users to post extremely violent images provided they don't promote or celebrate terrorism. This means moderators may be repeatedly exposed to the same haunting pictures to determine whether the people sharing them were condemning or celebrating the depicted acts.
The moderator said that when he started, he was given just two weeks training and was required to use his personal Facebook account to log into the social media giant's moderation system.
''They should have let us use fake profiles,'' he said, adding: ''They never warned us that something like this could happen.''
Facebook told the Guardian that as a result of the leak it is testing the use of administrative accounts that are not linked to personal profiles.
Moderation teams were continually scored for the accuracy and speed of their decisions, he said, as well as other factors such as their ability to stay updated training materials. If a moderator's score dropped below 90% they would receive a formal warning.
In an attempt to boost morale among agency staff, Facebook launched a monthly award ceremony to celebrate the top quality performers. The prize was a Facebook-branded mug. ''The mug that all Facebook employees get,'' he noted.
Contact the author: olivia.solon@theguardian.com
NOT 17!
1. the numbers of dead are not being reported properly. 150 or more.. not 16. https://www.facebook.com/RTUKnews/videos/1785771515046057/ people are protesting now outside kensington council chanting ‘NOT 17’ referring to deaths.. people getting angry..
2. locals are speaking up about the misreporting
3. UK building regulations are 15 years out of date and permit the use of combustible cladding
4. some suspect that the circumstances of this repair combined with the combustible cladding were a perfect storm, but worked out very convenient for the people who wanted to “regenerate” the area. Meaning bulldoze it and start over.
5. a Labour MP says that PVC windows caught fire
6. The fireman gave bad advice days before the fire. They were called over because of electrical fires and told tenants to stay inside.
7. the response on the day was much more shambolic than it is being reported. slow response. Not enough equipment. No access to the building.
1.
A policy of withholding the total number of dead people until their identity has been confirmed.
Lily Allen questions John Snow about why the high death toll has not been reported. MSM say 16 dead but she says police told her 150. many of them children.
John Snow says that the reason the numbers are being withheld is because they cannot disclose the body count until the body has been identified. Lily Allen responds by saying but you won’t have identification because the other members of the family are also dead. To which he has no reply.
https://www.channel4.com/news/lily-allen-the-government-is-trying-to-micromanage-grief
Lily Allen: ‘The government is trying to micromanage grief’
2.
there are locals who are speaking up about the misreporting of the incident by news channels.
https://youtu.be/qcJPlkqOYX0
Ishmael Blagrove is a regular attendee at speakers Corner and subscribes to the idea of white supremacy. But at least he speaks up about the dodgy mainstream media and the way in which the truth has not been reported.
3.
UK building regulations are 15 years out of date and permit use of combustible cladding, So they didn’t do anything wrong in terms of building regulations. But because so many high-rises have burnt down in Saudi Arabia and Melbourne as a result of the combustible cladding, it’s suspicious that a cladding specialist like Harley (who did the cladding) would be unaware of this, and would have gone ahead. Also a civil servant will have signed off on this and they ought to know about this high-rise difficulty which goes back to 2013 with Melbourne.
4.
Because there were plans to regenerate the area (Meaning bulldoze it and turn it into a glorified gentrified shopping arcade) and locals have been fighting back, some people are saying that they think that this was a convenient way to demolish the tower block, By making the fire conditions unsafe, and then putting very dangerous cladding on it and waiting for the inevitable to occur.
King’s Cross in London has undergone a massive regeneration, and in these cases it is always easier just to demolish everything, but they were having difficulties doing that With this tower because the people who live there didn’t want the whole thing bulldozed.
5.
Frank is a labour MP on fb and he says that the PVC windows caught fire after the cladding caught fire https://www.facebook.com/frank.belgrove?fref=nf&pnref=story
Frank Belgrove Just saw a report from an eye witness who had a good knowledge of construction:The space behind the cladding was the chimney to the windows, and the cladding was a perfect firelighter material. The uPVC windows then became incendiary devices for every room in the building.
Frank Belgrove I saw an article where the difference was just £5000 for the whole building if it is done at the time of fitting. The panels are just one aspect of all this......one stairwell......no sprinklers.....terrible safety advice......poor access for fire engines….
Frank Belgrove Yes Sarah.....the current building regs. allow combustible material to be fitted ....just so wrong on a tower block.
Frank Belgrove Report concludes that if panels are fitted.....: Nightmare scenarios include multiple-fatality building-engulfing fires as in China, or given the proximity of towers in some districts, the ignition of neighbouring buildings’ cladding from an external cladding fire, or disintegrated burning panels igniting the roofs of lower buildings adjacent.
Fire Risks From External Cladding Panels – A Perspective From The UK
http://www.probyn-miers.com/perspective/2016/02/fire-risks-from-external-cladding-panels-perspective-from-the-uk/
6.
tenants were advised by firemen to stay in their homes the Saturday before the fire took place. Firemen were called to the block because of a series of electrical fires throughout the block.
the advice failed to take into account the combustibility of the panels and how this might burn down the whole block and not just be confined to one flat. If there was no combustible cladding, then it would be much harder for the fire to spread so quickly, And there might be a case for staying in your own flat and waiting for the one flat that is burning to stop burning.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rZOUFH3e9CI
Footage from inside the Grenfell Tower fire (uploaded via Facebook Live)
7.
The response was shambolic and is not being reported properly either. The fire engines had nowhere to park near to the building and it took them ages to position themselves. One of the witnesses say that they didn’t get sorted until 4:25 AM. residents that were outside at the time of the fire couldn’t get back into the building to try and save families, and were held back by a policeman on the basis that the fireman would sort out the water quickly, which they didn’t. There weren’t enough mattresses for people to jump out of windows onto. Witnesses said that there would have been plenty of time to go in and try and rescue people before the fire spread. The use of electronic key fob is to gain access to the building was a huge problem in getting people out. There are lots of electronic fob closed doors between the flats and the exit, Which prevented the fireman from getting in and helping people.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rl4YzT_VHCw
London tower fire. Fire brigades took 2 hours not 15 minutes
ADA
From a dude named canon
Hey Adam and John,
First if you use this Sunday don't use my name since it will get me fired. However, I doubt anyone on my campus listens to NA. But that's a different email!
Second sorry this is a little long. I'm listening to today's show and had to stop when you said descriptions.
Holy shit! Audio Descriptions, or AD))), that's the symbol like CC for closed captions, is a giant pain in the ass and a total fear of mine.
I'm the lead videographer of a decent sized research university here in the Midwest. We also have one of the leading accessibility centers in the country because of our research status. Stanford and Berkeley are two others who are at the top of the list.
It hasn't been mandated yet but the request has been asked of our team that we start ADing our videos. I can tell you it's an impossible task. We have 4 people on staff. Three of us are one man bands, shoot, write and edit. The other is our manager. (((NOT FOR AIR but also a smoking hot milf. And my wife.))) The manager and I come from TV news so we're used to crazy expectations but when we were asked what it would take to start adding this to our videos we kind of shrugged. We told the accessibility department it would take a full-time position because it's not something any of us shooting could add. We also explained that the majority of our videos would be impossible to add AD to. All of our videos are interview heavy so the mix of the original voice track and an AD would get messy and really wouldn't work. You can't pay attention to both tracks at the same time. Their response was, ok you better find someone to do it. To which we replied they would have to hire someone who would be better equipped to handle the regulations.
It's only a matter of time before it's mandated but for right now YouTube doesn't support it but they're working on it... so we're safe for now.
The worst part about this, I had to do A LOT of research on this for us, is no one but Hollywood is doing this. I've spoken with several universities and marketing companies who said they fear the day when they're asked to do this because there isn't a good way to handle this at a low cost.
Anyways thank you both for your work and happy Father's Day!
You can just call me Dude Named Canon? I donno.
If you want to see our videos we're at...
Civil War
NYT issues correction to Giffords editorial | TheHill
Thu, 15 Jun 2017 20:35
The New York Times has issued a correction to a Thursday editorial that linked the 2011 shooting of then-Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-Ariz.) to a map circulated by former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) that put 20 Democratic districts in cross hairs.The original editorial in the Times, centered on the shootings Wednesday of Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) and three others at a baseball practice, noted the Palin map in arguing that the link was clear between political incitement and the deadly Giffords shooting, which killed six people and left the congresswoman gravely wounded.
The Times corrected the editorial on Thursday morning.
''An earlier version of this editorial incorrectly stated that a link existed between political incitement and the 2011 shooting of Representative Gabby Giffords. In fact, no such link was established,'' it reads.
The Times came under heavy criticism over the wording of its initial editorial.
Conservatives, including Palin, blasted the Times given the fact that there was no evidence that the shooter, Jared Loughner, was even aware of the Palin map. Liberal voices also joined the criticism.
''With this sickening NYT's editorial, the media is doing exactly what I said yesterday should not be done,'' Palin wrote on Facebook.
''As I said yesterday, I'd hoped the media had collectively matured since the last attack on a representative when media coverage spewed blatant lies about who was to blame. There's been no improvement. The NYT has gotten worse,'' Palin said.
Twitter also had no shortage of criticism on the editorial.
The NYT is disgusting. Apparently it takes more than six years for the esteemed Gray Lady to understand the facts of a breaking news story.
'-- Mary Katharine Ham (@mkhammer) June 15, 2017And not just any paper. This wasn't some diarist on Daily Kos. This was the editorial board of the New York Times. https://t.co/NgoEacaLHZ
'-- David French (@DavidAFrench) June 15, 2017Let me chime here to say: yeah, that's nuts.
'-- Christopher Hayes (@chrislhayes) June 15, 2017The New York Times editorial from TODAY takes time to blame Palin for Giffords. Jesus Christ. https://t.co/bk3iFN8Mf4
'-- Charles C. W. Cooke (@charlescwcooke) June 15, 2017This paragraph in today's NYT editorial on Alexandria shootings is offensively, quasi-Stalinistically wrong: https://t.co/nWhhcHfMsopic.twitter.com/LkJFifUh73
'-- Jeff B/DDHQ (@EsotericCD) June 15, 2017The New York Times is well aware that any link between Palin and the Giffords shooting were long debunked, but they're going for it anyway. pic.twitter.com/BgzaQFQMz6
'-- Josh Jordan (@NumbersMuncher) June 15, 2017The Times eliminated its public editor position last month and said it will depend on an expanded commenting platform in the public editor's place.
''We are dramatically expanding our commenting platform,'' Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger wrote. ''Currently, we open only 10 percent of our articles to reader comments. Soon, we will open up most of our articles to reader comments."
Sulzberger also says the Times is open to hearing ''thoughtful criticism'' from other news outlets.
Hate Trumps Love
Impeachment Is No Longer Enough; Donald Trump Must Face Justice
Fri, 16 Jun 2017 03:22
Donald Trump has been President of the United States for just shy of six months now. I think that most of us among the electorate knew that his presidency would be a relative disaster, but I am not sure how many among us expected the catastrophe our nation now faces.
The sad thing is that I don't even have to run through a laundry list of his wrongdoings and cite a litany of sources. Any quick Internet search or flip of the TV to a credible news source will run down the most recent scandal before the next commercial break. In just these short few months, Donald Trump has managed to gut environmental protections; sign two executive orders attempting to implement a travel ban on Muslim-majority countries; fire the former head of the FBI specifically for investigating the Trump campaign ties to Russia; isolate the United States from much of the rest of the world; and submit a budget which would eviscerate social programs designed to help the worst off among us. And these are just the things I can think of off the top of my head, without even conducting a search.
There is very little doubt left that Trump and his team colluded with members of the Russian government to try and rig the election in his favor, even if the Russians did not outright hack the voting process itself; while we may not yet have 100% incontrovertible proof of their collusion, the administration's attempts to hide previous contacts with the Russians, their willingness to blatantly lie about their communications, and the contents of Trump's meetings with former FBI director Comey are all incriminating on their own. And Trump's decision to fire Comey specifically to hamper that investigation is obstruction of justice, no matter what spin he or anyone else puts upon it.
And the interference of the Russian government to circumvent our democratic procedures for electing the President of the United States is an act of war. There is no other way to chcaracterize it; this was an all-out attack by the government of Russia on our democratic process, the very foundation of our country. This elevates Trump's simple obstruction of justice to high treason under the Constitution.
We can also argue that Trump's continued insistence on a travel ban'Š'--'Šhe's not even disguising his intent anymore, based on his recent tweets'Š'--'Šserves the purpose of assisting ISIS, which is arguably the nation's biggest enemy right now. Trump's campaign rhetoric and subsequent travel ban orders against the Muslim population serve as a valuable recruitment tool for the Islamic State by giving them credibility. ISIS' whole narrative is that Western powers seek to destroy Islam; Trump's willingness to wage what amounts to a constitutional jihad against all of Islam makes their entire case for them:
''It can play into their propaganda, to make it clear for anyone who could be in doubt, that it's a war on Islam and all Muslims,'' Abdullah told CNN over a messaging service. The names of the now-defected foreign fighters in this story have been changed to protect their identities.
Another former jihadi said the wedge being driven between Muslims living in the West and their governments is exactly what ISIS wants.
''[Trump's] helped ISIS a lot, he's basically being a tool for them in a way,'' Abu Obaida, a British former Jabhat al-Nusra fighter in Syria, told CNN via direct message. ''On social media right now there's a lot of people quoting Anwar al-Awlaki (the late spokesperson for al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula) and his last speech when he said that America will turn on the Muslims.''
That Trump fails to recognize how much he is assisting ISIS with his rhetoric'Š'--'Šor simply does not care'Š'--'Šis a subject for debate, but it is a fact which he cannot dispute. By choosing to ignore this fact, he is aiding the greatest foreign adversary in the modern world and therefore committing another act of treason.
This same argument also applies to top-ranking White House and Republican aides, including'Š'--'Šbut likely not limited to'Š'--'ŠSteve Bannon, Kellyanne Conway, Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, and Vice President Pence. While they may not be participating quite as directly as Trump himself, the fact that they support his agenda and are helping to protect him means that they are accessories and are thus also committing acts of treason. All must face justice.
Much has been made of the possibility of impeaching Trump, but this will not happen as long as Republicans maintain control of Congress. However, Trump's impeachment and removal from office are no longer enough. The administration's crimes against this nation fall under Article 3, Section 3 of the Constitution, which outlines the offense of treason:
Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.
Trump's firing of James Comey to impede the investigation into an act of war against our nation, and his assistance to ISIS in the form of providing them with propaganda for recruitment, both provide ''Aid and Comfort'' to enemies of the United States. It would be difficult to find a more grave offense among those Trump and his team have already committed against this nation and its people. But all involved must face justice.
And that's why the impeachment and removal of Donald Trump from the Oval Office are merely the first steps in what must be a long-term policy to redeem the United States in the eyes of the world. They are certainly important steps in restoring the credibility of our government, our standing in the eyes of the world, and our very democracy. But they must not be the only steps, lest we still be left with Mike Pence as the acting president after Trump's removal. No, to quote our new fuhrer, we must ''drain the swamp.''
Draining the swamp means not only ejecting Trump from the presidency, but also bringing himself and everyone assisting in his agenda up on charges of treason. They must be convicted (there is little room to doubt their guilt). And then'Š'--'Šupon receiving guilty verdicts'Š'--'Šthey must all be executed under the law. Anything less than capital punishment'Š'--'Šor at least life imprisonment without parole in a maximum security detention facility'Š'--'Šwould send yet another message to the world that America has lost its moral compass. In order for America's morality and leadership to be restored, it must rebuke Donald Trump, his entire administration, and his legislative agenda in the strongest manner possible. And nothing would do more than to convict them of the highest offense defined by our Constitution, and then to deliver the ultimate punishment. Donald Trump deserves nothing less. Mitch McConnell, Steve Bannon, and Paul Ryan should also share Donald Trump's fate, for they have done more than practically anyone to protect him and to throw our country under the proverbial bus. In order to survive, we as a nation must deliver the ultimate punishment under the law to all involved in its current destruction.
SNOWDEN!
Wikileaks Documentary Makers Accuse Assange of Censorship
Sun, 18 Jun 2017 11:36
We are the producers of Risk , a documentary film about Julian Assange and WikiLeaks.
We unequivocally defend WikiLeaks' journalistic right to publish true and newsworthy information.
The Trump administration's threats against WikiLeaks and attacks on press freedom are chilling. As Margaret Sullivan recently argued in the Washington Post, prosecuting WikiLeaks under the Espionage Act would set a dangerous precedent for all journalists.
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We were disturbed, however, to learn that Julian Assange and WikiLeaks sent cease and desist letters to our distributors demanding they stop the release of Risk: ''We therefore demand that you immediately cease the use and distribution of all images of the Named Participants and that you desist from this or any other infringement of the rights of the Named Participants in the future.''
RELATED:Wikileaks Attorneys Blast Citizenfour Maker PoitrasIn WikiLeaks' efforts to prevent the distribution of Risk , they are using the very tactics often used against them '' legal threats, false security claims, underhanded personal attacks, misdirection '' and with the same intentions: to suppress information and silence speech.
Since 2016, Assange and his lawyers have repeatedly demanded that we remove scenes from the film in which Assange speaks about the two women who made sexual assault allegations against him in 2010 and Sweden's investigation which has since been discontinued.
In response to our refusal to remove these scenes, Assange and his lawyers are now claiming that Risk threatens the safety of the staff who consented to being filmed, and furthermore, that we are being sexist by including Assange's own comments about women in the film.
These arguments are not only false, they are a deliberate effort at misdirection.
Risk was filmed over the course of many years, beginning in 2011. Assange and WikiLeaks freely consented to participating in the film, knowing we were making an independent documentary. Neither WikiLeaks nor Assange have any editorial control of Risk. There were individuals who requested from the beginning not to appear in the film, and those requests were respected.
Wikileaks and their lawyers were shown the film before each public screening, most recently inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London on April 1, 2017. Each time, we invited their responses.
WikiLeaks' comments have consistently been about image management, including: demands to remove scenes from the film where Assange discusses sexual assault allegations against him; requests to remove images of alcohol bottles in the embassy because Ecuador is a Catholic country and it looks bad; requests to include mentions of WikiLeaks in the 2016 U.S. presidential debates; and, requests to add more scenes with attorney Amal Clooney because she makes WikiLeaks look good.
RELATED:Documentary Goes Inside Julian Assange's Paranoid WorldIt is only after we declined to make the changes they tried to impose that WikiLeaks raised objections to Risk . Their attempts to censor the content of the film are an effort to prevent reporting on Assange's own words. They also constitute a saddening break with WikiLeaks' own ideals.
Last month, WikiLeaks' lawyers published an op-ed saying they object to our editing in the United States. However, Assange has known since 2015 that we were editing in the U.S. In 2016, he signed an agreement to license WikiLeaks' own footage to us and raised no objection to mailing a hard drive with footage directly to our editing room in New York City.
WikiLeaks has also repeatedly publicized their participation in Risk , most recently re-tweeting a link to the film's trailer on April 10, 2017 (a tweet that has since been deleted), without raising any concerns.
In their cease and desist letter, lawyers for WikiLeaks and Assange state: ''The unauthorized release of the Film has caused our clients to suffer ongoing irreparable harm, and exponentially increasing damages every time a new viewer sees the Film.''
All the participants in Risk agreed for years to be in the film. We have no obligation to seek WikiLeaks' or Assange's authorization to release the film. In fact, our rights under the First Amendment are protected precisely because we are engaging in independent journalism. Assange himself has criticized the media for seeking permission from public figures before releasing stories.
Like WikiLeaks, our journalism has been the target of U.S. government investigation, secret grand jury, and threats by elected officials. We fully understand and empathize with the dangers WikiLeaks is facing, and we stand in solidarity with all journalists and publishers around the world currently under attack.
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LGBTI
Gay Teacher Of The Year Fans LGBTQ Pride In Viral Photo With Donald Trump | HuffPost
Sun, 18 Jun 2017 13:52
Gay teacher Nikos Giannopoulos' displayed his LGBTQ pride as he sported a rainbow pin and clutched a lacy fan in an official photo with President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump. And now the Rhode Island teacher of the year's bold stand for LGBTQ rights has gotten global attention after the image went viral on Facebook.
Giannopoulos, who teaches 11th and 12th graders at Beacon Charter High School for the Arts in Woonsocket, visited the White House with other teacher of the year winners in April. He received the photo of his moment with Trump this week and immediately posted it to Facebook.
Trump has previously pledged to protect LGBTQ citizens, but members of the community have expressed concern that his administration is rolling back their civil rights in areas such as education.
Giannopoulos said he wore the pin ''to represent my gratitude for the LGBTQ community that has taught me to be proud, bold, and empowered by my identity '-- even when circumstances make that difficult.'' He brought the fan that day to ''celebrate the joy and freedom of gender nonconformity.''
''When I met the president as Rhode Island's state teacher of the year, I did not know what to expect,'' he wrote in the Facebook post. ''After a lengthy security process, we were welcomed into the Roosevelt Room where we each met Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. Shortly thereafter, we walked into the Oval Office. The man seated at the desk read prepared remarks from a sheet of paper and made some comments about CEOs and which states he 'loved,' based on electoral votes that he had secured. He did not rise from his seat to present the national teacher of the year with her much-deserved award, nor did he allow her to speak.''
He wanted to speak to the president, but none of the teachers got the chance.
The teacher had wanted to tell Trump that ''queer lives matter and anti-LGBTQ policies have a body count.'' He also wanted to tell the president how the LGBTQ community is hurt by ''politicians callously attacking our right to love or merely exist,'' Giannopoulos added.
But he revealed to NPR that Trump was happy for him to pose with the fan for the official photo. ''Absolutely go for it,'' he recalled the president saying. Trump said that he looked ''very stylish'' with his fan as the teachers gathered around the president, Giannopoulos told Yahoo.
Giannopoulos said when he thinks of the day he met the president, he ''will not remember the person seated at the desk.'' He'll remember the students he has taught and the other teachers with him that day, Giannopoulos added '•including one who presented Trump with letters from her refugee student, ''pleading with him to hear their voices.''
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article suggested incorrectly that Trump was unaware the teacher wanted to pose with the fan.
Oregon is the 1st state to offer a new gender option on state IDs: X - CNN.com
Sun, 18 Jun 2017 14:28
Oregon is now the first state to offer a third gender option, an X for "not specified," on state IDs. It's for people who don't want to choose male or female.
"It's exciting to see Oregon's Department of Motor Vehicles adopt this change," Nancy Haque, co-executive director of Basic Rights Oregon, said in a statement. "We know gender is a spectrum and some people don't identify as male or female. Our lives are so gendered, which is why it's important that driver licenses and other forms of IDs recognize people who are non-binary. Removing barriers for people is critical to helping all of us live healthy, productive lives."The process of adding the X option was kicked off last summer by a court order from the Multnomah County Circuit Court after a judge ruled that Army veteran Jamie Shupe could legally change genders from female to non-binary."For the first time that we know, a court ordered a name change to something other than male or female, and at the time we couldn't do that, so we went to study our statutes and checked to see whether we could do it by a rule change or if it (had) to go through legislation," said David House, spokesman for the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT). "They found they could do that through the rule change."
As part of the rule-making process, the department's Driver and Motor Vehicles division held public hearings, and comments were "overwhelmingly positive," said Tom McClellan, the division's administrator.
"Of the 83 comments, both written and oral, only 12 were opposed to the ruling. Most of the 12 opposing comments were things like, 'This is ridiculous,' 'insanity,' and 'political correctness gone haywire,'" McClellan said at a hearing Thursday before the Oregon Transportation Commission.
Supportive comments included that the DMV was "being careful and considerate," McClellan said, adding that one letter of support read, "Thank you for making it easy for me. Little along my transition has been easy."
The Oregon Transportation Commission approved the rule change unanimously, and it will go into effect on July 3.
Camille Paglia: On Trump, Democrats, Transgenderism, and Islamist Terror | The Weekly Standard
Thu, 15 Jun 2017 20:36
Camille Paglia is one America's smartest and most fearless writers. Like Elvis, she's the kind of superstar who really needs no introduction'--though it is worth pointing out that Pantheon has just published a collection of her essays on sex, gender, and feminism, titled Free Women, Free Men. It's fantastic and if you love her work, it's must-reading. (And there's another collection due out in the Fall of 2018, which is more good news.)
Last week I sat down with Paglia over email to talk about Donald Trump, Islamist terrorism, and the transgender crusade. Here's a transcript of our conversation:
JVL: Donald Trump has recently feuded with Jim Comey, Bob Mueller, Sadiq Kahn, Emmanuel Macron, Angela Merkel, NATO'--we'll stop the list there. You were one of a very small number of people who understood Trump's populist appeal early on. Looking at his presidency so far, do think he's continuing to deliver on that appeal? What is he doing right? What is he doing wrong?
Camille Paglia: Some background is necessary. First of all, I must make my political affiliations crystal clear. I am a registered Democrat who voted for Bernie Sanders in the 2016 primary and for Jill Stein in the general election. Since last Fall, I've had my eye on Kamala Harris, the new senator from California, and I hope to vote for her in the next presidential primary.
Like many others, I initially did not take Donald Trump's candidacy seriously. I dismissed him as a "carnival barker" in my Salon column and assumed his entire political operation was a publicity stunt that he would soon tire of. However, Trump steadily gained momentum because of the startling incompetence and mediocrity of his GOP opponents. What seems forgotten is that everyone, including the Hillary Clinton campaign, thought that Marco Rubio would be the Republican nominee. The moment was ideal for a Latino candidate with national appeal who could challenge the Democratic hold on Florida.
Thus Rubio's primary-run flame-out was a spectacular embarrassment. Under TV's unsparing camera eye, he looked like a shallow, dithery adolescent, utterly unprepared to be commander-in-chief in an era of terrorism. Trump's frankly arrogant self-confidence spooked and crushed Rubio'--it was a total fiasco. Ben Carson, meanwhile, with his professorial deep-think and spiritualistic eye-closing, often seemed to be beaming himself to another galaxy. With every debate, Ted Cruz, despite his avid national following, accumulated more and more detractors, repelled by his brittle self-dramatizations and lugubrious megalomania.
There were two genial, moderate Mid-Western governors who could have wrested the nomination from Trump and performed strongly versus Hillary in the general'--Ohio's John Kasich and Wisconsin's Scott Walker. But they blew it because of their personal limitations: On television, Kasich came across as a clumsy, lumbering blowhard while Walker shrank into a nervous, timid mouse with a frozen Pee-wee Herman smile.
The point here is that Donald Trump won the nomination fair and square against a host of serious, experienced opponents who simply failed to connect with a majority of GOP primary voters. However, there were too many unknowns about Trump, who had never held elective office and whose randy history in the shadowy demimonde of casinos and beauty pageants laid him open to a cascade of feverish accusations and innuendos from the ever-churning gnomes of the cash-propelled Clinton propaganda machine. In actuality, the sexism allegations about Trump were relatively few and minor, compared to the long list of lurid claims about the predatory Bill Clinton.
My position continues to be that Hillary, with her supercilious, Marie Antoinette-style entitlement, was a disastrously wrong candidate for 2016 and that she secured the nomination only through overt chicanery by the Democratic National Committee, assisted by a corrupt national media who, for over a year, imposed a virtual blackout on potential primary rivals. Bernie Sanders had the populist passion, economic message, government record, and personal warmth to counter Trump. It was Sanders, for example, who addressed the crisis of crippling student debt, an issue that other candidates (including Hillary) then took up. Despite his history of embarrassing gaffes, the affable, plain-spoken Joe Biden, in my view, could also have defeated Trump, but he was blocked from running at literally the last moment by President Barack Obama, for reasons that the major media refused to explore.
After Trump's victory (for which there were abundant signs in the preceding months), both the Democratic party and the big-city media urgently needed to do a scathingly honest self-analysis, because the election results plainly demonstrated that Trump was speaking to vital concerns (jobs, immigration, and terrorism among them) for which the Democrats had few concrete solutions. Indeed, throughout the campaign, too many leading Democratic politicians were preoccupied with domestic issues and acted strangely uninterested in international affairs. Among the electorate, the most fervid Hillary acolytes (especially young and middle-aged women and assorted show biz celebs) seemed obtusely indifferent to her tepid performance as Secretary of State, during which she doggedly piled up air miles while accomplishing virtually nothing except the destabilization of North Africa.
Had Hillary won, everyone would have expected disappointed Trump voters to show a modicum of respect for the electoral results as well as for the historic ceremony of the inauguration, during which former combatants momentarily unite to pay homage to the peaceful transition of power in our democracy. But that was not the reaction of a vast cadre of Democrats shocked by Trump's win. In an abject failure of leadership that may be one of the most disgraceful episodes in the history of the modern Democratic party, Chuck Schumer, who had risen to become the Senate Democratic leader after the retirement of Harry Reid, asserted absolutely no moral authority as the party spun out of control in a nationwide orgy of rage and spite. Nor were there statesmanlike words of caution and restraint from two seasoned politicians whom I have admired for decades and believe should have run for president long ago'--Senator Dianne Feinstein and Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi. How do Democrats imagine they can ever expand their electoral support if they go on and on in this self-destructive way, impugning half the nation as vile racists and homophobes?
All of which brings us to the issue of Trump's performance to date. The initial conundrum was: could he shift from being the slashing, caustic ex-reality show star of the campaign to a more measured, presidential persona? Perhaps to the dismay of his diehard critics, Trump did indeed make that transition at the Capitol on inauguration morning, when he appeared grave and focused, palpably conveying a sense of the awesome burdens of the highest office. As for his particular actions as president, I am no fan of executive orders, which usurp congressional prerogatives and which I was already denouncing when Obama was constantly signing them (with very little protest, one might add, from the mainstream media).
Trump's "travel ban" executive order in late January was obviously bungled'--issued way too fast and with woefully insufficient research (pertaining, for example, to green-card holders, who should have been exempted from the start). The administration bears full responsibility for fanning the flames of an already aroused "Resistance." However, I fail to see the "chaos" in the White House that the mainstream media (as well as conservative Never Trumpers) keep harping on'--or rather, I see no more chaos than was abundantly present during the first six months of both the Clinton and Obama administrations. Trump seems to be methodically trying to fulfill his campaign promises, notably regarding the economy and deregulation'--the approaches to which will always be contested in our two-party system. His progress has thus far been in stops and starts, partly because of the passivity, and sometimes petulance, of the mundane GOP leadership.
There seems to be a huge conceptual gap between Trump and his most implacable critics on the left. Many highly educated, upper-middle-class Democrats regard themselves as exemplars of "compassion" (which they have elevated into a supreme political principle) and yet they routinely assail Trump voters as ignorant, callous hate-mongers. These elite Democrats occupy an amorphous meta-realm of subjective emotion, theoretical abstractions, and refined language. But Trump is by trade a builder who deals in the tangible, obdurate, objective world of physical materials, geometry, and construction projects, where communication often reverts to the brusque, coarse, high-impact level of pre-modern working-class life, whose daily locus was the barnyard. It's no accident that bourgeois Victorians of the industrial era tried to purge "barnyard language" out of English.
Last week, that conceptual gap was on prominent display, as the media, consumed with their preposterous Russian fantasies, were fixated on former FBI director James Comey's maudlin testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee. (Comey is an effete charlatan who should have been fired within 48 hours of either Hillary or Trump taking office.) Meanwhile, Trump was going about his business. The following morning, he made remarks at the Department of Transportation about "regulatory relief," excerpts of which I happened to hear on my car radio that afternoon. His words about iron, aluminum, and steel seemed to cut like a knife through the airwaves. I later found the entire text on the White House website. Some key passages:
We are here today to focus on solving one of the biggest obstacles to creating this new and desperately needed infrastructure, and that is the painfully slow, costly, and time-consuming process of getting permits and approvals to build. And I also knew that from the private sector. It is a long, slow, unnecessarily burdensome process. My administration is committed to ending these terrible delays once and for all. The excruciating wait time for permitting has inflicted enormous financial pain to cities and states all throughout our nation and has blocked many important projects from ever getting off the ground'...
For too long, America has poured trillions and trillions of dollars into rebuilding foreign countries while allowing our own country'--the country that we love'--and its infrastructure to fall into a state of total disrepair. We have structurally deficient bridges, clogged roads, crumbling dams and locks. Our rivers are in trouble. Our railways are aging. And chronic traffic that slows commerce and diminishes our citizens' quality of life. Other than that, we're doing very well. Instead of rebuilding our country, Washington has spent decades building a dense thicket of rules, regulations and red tape. It took only four years to build the Golden Gate Bridge and five years to build the Hoover Dam and less than one year to build the Empire State Building. People don't believe that. It took less than one year. But today, it can take 10 years and far more than that just to get the approvals and permits needed to build a major infrastructure project.
These charts beside me are actually a simplified version of our highway permitting process. It includes 16 different approvals involving 10 different federal agencies being governed by 26 different statutes. As one example'--and this happened just 30 minutes ago'--I was sitting with a great group of people responsible for their state's economic development and roadways. All of you are in the room now. And one gentleman from Maryland was talking about an 18-mile road. And he brought with him some of the approvals that they've gotten and paid for. They spent $29 million for an environmental report, weighing 70 pounds and costing $24,000 per page'...
I was not elected to continue a failed system. I was elected to change it. All of us in government service were elected to solve the problems that have plagued our nation. We are here to think big, to act boldly, and to rise above the petty partisan squabbling of Washington D.C. We are here to take action. It's time to start building in our country, with American workers and with American iron and aluminum and steel. It's time to put up soaring new infrastructure that inspires pride in our people and our towns.
No longer can we allow these rules and regulations to tie down our economy, chain up our prosperity, and sap our great American spirit. That is why we will lift these restrictions and unleash the full potential of the United States of America. We will get rid of the redundancy and duplication that wastes your time and your money. Our goal is to give you one point of contact to deliver one decision'--yes or no'--for the entire federal government, and to deliver that decision quickly, whether it's a road, whether it's a highway, a bridge, a dam.
To do this, we are setting up a new council to help project managers navigate the bureaucratic maze. This council will also improve transparency by creating a new online dashboard allowing everyone to easily track major projects through every stage of the approval process. This council will make sure that every federal agency that is consistently delaying projects by missing deadlines will face tough, new penalties'...
Together, we will build projects to inspire our youth, employ our workers, and create true prosperity for our people. We will pour new concrete, lay new brick, and watch new sparks light our factories as we forge metal from the furnaces of our Rust Belt and our beloved heartland'--which has been forgotten. It's not forgotten anymore.
We will put new American steel into the spine of our country. American workers will construct gleaming new lanes of commerce across our landscape. They will build these monuments from coast to coast, and from city to city. And with these new roads, bridges, airports and seaports, we will embark on a wonderful new journey into a bright and glorious future. We will build again. We will grow again. We will thrive again. And we will make America great again.
Of course this rousing speech (with its can-do World War Two spirit) got scant coverage in the mainstream media. Drunk with words, spin, and snark, middle-class journalists can't be bothered to notice the complex physical constructions that make modern civilization possible. The laborers who build and maintain these marvels are recognized only if they can be shoehorned into victim status. But if they dare to think for themselves and vote differently from their liberal overlords, they are branded as rubes and pariahs.
In summary: to have any hope of retaking the White House, Democrats must get off their high horse, lose the rabid rhetoric, and reorient themselves toward practical reality and the free country they are damned lucky to live in.
JVL: One of the other big news stories for the last few weeks has been terrorism in Great Britain. Everyone goes to great pains to say that this isn't "Islamic" terrorism, but rather "Islamist" ("Islam-ish?") terrorism. Does nomenclature matter here? Does the fact that Western liberalism gets so wrapped up in knots over how to talk about its antagonists mean anything?
CP: You've nailed it about Western liberalism's obsession with language, to the exclusion of wide-ranging study of world history or systematic observation of present social conditions. Liberalism of the 1950s and '60s exalted civil liberties, individualism, and dissident thought and speech. "Question authority" was our generational rubric when I was in college. But today's liberalism has become grotesquely mechanistic and authoritarian: It's all about reducing individuals to a group identity, defining that group in permanent victim terms, and denying others their democratic right to challenge that group and its ideology. Political correctness represents the fossilized institutionalization of once-vital revolutionary ideas, which have become mere rote formulas. It is repressively Stalinist, dependent on a labyrinthine, parasitic bureaucracy to enforce its empty dictates.
The reluctance or inability of Western liberals to candidly confront jihadism has been catastrophically counterproductive insofar as it has inspired an ongoing upsurge in right-wing politics in Europe and the United States. Citizens have an absolute right to demand basic security from their government. The contortions to which so many liberals resort to avoid connecting bombings, massacres, persecutions, and cultural vandalism to Islamic jihadism is remarkable, given their usual animosity to religion, above all Christianity. Some commentators have suggested a link to racial preconceptions: that is, Islam remains beyond criticism because it is largely a religion of non-whites whose two holy cities occupy territory once oppressed by Western imperialism.
For a quarter century, I have been calling for comparative religion to be made the core curriculum of higher education. (I am speaking as an atheist.) Knowledge of the great world religions'--Hinduism, Buddhism, Judeo-Christianity, Islam'--is the true multiculturalism. Everyone should have a general familiarity with the beliefs, texts, rituals, art, and shrines of all the major religions. Only via a direct encounter with the Qu'ran and Hadith, for example, can anyone know what they say about jihad and how those strikingly numerous passages have been interpreted in different ways over time.
Right now, too many secular Western liberals treat Islam with paternalistic condescension'--waving at it vaguely from a benevolent distance but making no effort to engage with its intricate mixed messages, which can inspire toward good or spur acts of devastating impact on the international stage.
JVL:I keep waiting for the showdown between feminism and transgenderism, but it always keeps slipping beneath the horizon. I've been looking at how the La Leche League'--which stood at the crossroads of feminism once upon a time'--has in the last couple years bowed completely to the transgender project. Their central text is (for now)The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding,but they've officially changed their stance to include men and fathers who breastfeed. The actual wording of theirpolicyis wonderful: "It is now recognized that some men are able to breastfeed." Left unsaid is the corollary that some women are biologically unable to breastfeed. Though this would go against the League's founding principles, one supposes. What does one make of all of this?
CP: Feminists have clashed with transgender activists much more publicly in the United Kingdom than here. For example, two years ago there was an acrimonious organized campaign, including a petition with 3,000 claimed signatures, to cancel a lecture by Germaine Greer at Cardiff University because of her "offensive" views of transgenderism. Greer, a literary scholar who was one of the great pioneers of second-wave feminism, has always denied that men who have undergone sex-reassignment surgery are actually "women." Her Cardiff lecture (on "Women and Power" in the twentieth century) eventually went forward, under heavy security.
And in 2014, Gender Hurts, a book by radical Australian feminist Sheila Jeffreys, created a heated controversy in the United Kingdom. Jeffreys identifies transsexualism with misogyny and describes it as a form of "mutilation." She and her feminist allies encountered prolonged difficulties in securing a London speaking venue because of threats and agitation by transgender activists. Finally, Conway Hall was made available: Jeffrey's forceful, detailed lecture there in July of last year is fully available on YouTube. In it she argues among other things, that the pharmaceutical industry, having lost income when routine estrogen therapy for menopausal women was abandoned because of its health risks, has been promoting the relatively new idea of transgenderism in order to create a permanent class of customers who will need to take prescribed hormones for life.
Although I describe myself as transgender (I was donning flamboyant male costumes from early childhood on), I am highly skeptical about the current transgender wave, which I think has been produced by far more complicated psychological and sociological factors than current gender discourse allows. Furthermore, I condemn the escalating prescription of puberty blockers (whose long-term effects are unknown) for children. I regard this practice as a criminal violation of human rights.
It is certainly ironic how liberals who posture as defenders of science when it comes to global warming (a sentimental myth unsupported by evidence) flee all reference to biology when it comes to gender. Biology has been programmatically excluded from women's studies and gender studies programs for almost 50 years now. Thus very few current gender studies professors and theorists, here and abroad, are intellectually or scientifically prepared to teach their subjects.
The cold biological truth is that sex changes are impossible. Every single cell of the human body remains coded with one's birth gender for life. Intersex ambiguities can occur, but they are developmental anomalies that represent a tiny proportion of all human births.
In a democracy, everyone, no matter how nonconformist or eccentric, should be free from harassment and abuse. But at the same time, no one deserves special rights, protections, or privileges on the basis of their eccentricity. The categories "trans-man" and "trans-woman" are highly accurate and deserving of respect. But like Germaine Greer and Sheila Jeffreys, I reject state-sponsored coercion to call someone a "woman" or a "man" simply on the basis of his or her subjective feeling about it. We may well take the path of good will and defer to courtesy on such occasions, but it is our choice alone.
As for the La Leche League, they are hardly prepared to take up the cudgels in the bruising culture wars. Awash with the milk of human kindness, they are probably stuck in nurturance mode. Naturally, they snap to attention at the sound of squalling babies, no matter what their age. It's up to literature professors and writers to defend the integrity of English, which like all languages changes slowly and organically over time. But with so many humanities departments swallowed up in the poststructuralist tar pit, the glorious medium of English may have to fight the gender commissars on its own.
Ministry of Truth
MintPress Meets The Father Of Iconic Aleppo Boy, Who Says Media Lied About His Son
Sun, 18 Jun 2017 14:37
MintPress sat down with the father of the now-infamous Aleppo boy, Omran Daqneesh. Omran's father, Mohammad Daqneesh, says his son was exploited by Syrian rebels and the media for political gain.
Mohammad Daqneesh displays a photo of his 11-year-old son, Mohammad Ali, who died due to injuries sustained the same day that Omran, known as the Aleppo boy, was mildly wounded, a fact the much of the media missed. Aleppo, Syria, June 6, 2017 (Photo: Danny Makki/MintPress News)
H OMS, SYRIA '--On the evening of Aug. 17, 2016, an event that has yet to be adequately explained occurred in the Qaterji District of the Syrian city of Aleppo. Four-year-old Omran Daqneesh, as well as his siblings and parents, were injured in media alleged was an attack by the Russians '' or the Syrian military, depending on what source one chose to believe. People in Aleppo suggested it could have been a strike by the US-led coalition. The reality is not yet known. The attack also claimed the life of Omran's 11-year-old brother, Mohammad Ali Daqneesh.
Overnight, the world was introduced to Omran, who became the poster child of suffering in Syria due to extensive coverage by Western corporate media . The al-Qaeda-affiliated White Helmets , and subsequently the media, made the child's injuries out to seem far more serious than they actually were.
CNN anchor Kate Bolduan ''broke down'' over a photo of the boy that was likely taken and propagated precisely to elicit such emotion. Video footage of Omran showed him seated in an ambulance, blank-faced and barefoot with blood drying on his face. The world was collectively heartbroken at seeing Omran '' but was also misled about his story.
Most Western media blamed the Russians for Omran's injuries '' but some media outlets, including The Guardian , claimed that he'd been hit by a Syrian airstrike .
For its part, the Russian Defense Ministry denied allegations regarding Russia's involvement in the incident. As Tim Anderson wrote at the time , ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said the Russian Air Force ''never work[s] on targets within residential areas '... [especially not in] al-Qaterji, mentioned by the Western media, as it is adjacent to the exit corridors for locals which were opened in the framework of the Russian humanitarian mission .''
Related: Hell Cannons '' The Homegrown Horror of Syria's Terrorist Invaders
Both Western and Gulf media would rehash the story of his injury in the coming weeks and months, but also omit some key facts in the process.
The source of the video footage showing Omran being put in the ambulance was the Aleppo Media Centre ( AMC ), which is funded by the Wes t and promotes the ''rebel opposition'' narrative in Syria, relying on al-Qaeda sources. The journalists who took the video and photos are embedded in al-Qaeda-controlled areas.
Watch the AMC footage of Omran being loaded into a waiting ambulance:Mahmoud Raslan, the photographer responsible for the viral photo of Omran , is known to be close to terrorists of the Nour al-Din al-Zenki faction, who are most widely known for their methodic beheading of Palestinian child Abdullah Issa in July 2016. After Issa's slaughter, photos emerged of a grinning Raslan taking a selfie with some of the al-Zenki murderers .
Father speaks out '' Omran is happy and healthyOmran's father, Mohammad Kheir Daqneesh, had six children, including Omran and the late Mohammad Ali. In the year following the attack that injured Omran and his family, Mr. Daqneesh became sick of the way Gulf and Western media used the image of his son as propaganda to garner public support for further intervention in Syria.
He chose to speak out on June 5, 2017, giving interviews to Syrian media in which he gave his side of Omran's story. He pointed out the ways in which Omran had been made into an icon without his knowledge or his family's consent, as well as the false premises under which this was done.
Mohammad Daqneesh recalled scrambling to find Omran and his other children in the dark, moving them to safety before rescuing the rest of his family. At one point, Omran was taken to an ambulance by a White Helmets ''volunteer,'' with the iconic photo to be taken shortly thereafter while Daqneesh was still inside his home.
Mr. Daqneesh denied any knowledge of a Russian or Syrian airstrike, saying that he had not heard any airplanes at the time. He added that his son's injury was mild, but had been exaggerated in the news, adding that Omran was at ease and had since returned to normalcy in his home in Aleppo.
Omran Daqneesh, dubbed Aleppo Boy by the media, and his father Mohammad, in their Aleppo home, June 6, 2017. (Photo: Eva Bartlett,MintPress News)
On June 6, I met with Omran and Mr. Daqneesh at their Aleppo home to inquire about the incident. In a small sitting room outside their apartment, Mohammad Daqneesh was able to provide some more answers.
On the August evening of the attack, Mohammad Daqneesh and his family were inside the first-floor apartment they had been renting since fleeing their original Aleppo neighborhood when ''rebels'' came into their district. Daqneesh described their area of Qaterji as having been calm, with ''nothing happening'' for most of the three years they'd been there.
''We were at our home in the Qaterji neighborhood when the strike happened. What caused it, I don't know '' we didn't hear any sound[s] of airplanes or bombing. Suddenly everything went dark. Thank God, [Omran's] injury was a light injury, very light. But they exaggerated and made a big deal out of it. I was also lightly injured on my head and arm, but [they were] very mild injuries,'' Daqneesh said.
''My son Mohammad Ali was taking the trash out when suddenly the incident occurred and he was hit by rubble. His hands were injured and he suffered internal bleeding,'' he said.
Ali ended up at the same hospital as Omran, where he stayed for three days before passing away. ''I went there to find them and take them out of there. I needed some stitches, but I didn't get it done there, I didn't trust them. I asked a nurse elsewhere to do it,'' Daqneesh said.
But the hospital in question had a dark side to it. Pierre Le Corf, a French citizen who has lived in Aleppo for over a year, looked into the hospital after eastern Aleppo was secured.
''The [hospital] was held and managed by [al-]Nusra and the Tahrir Party. It was funded and supported by SAMS (Syrian-American Medical Society), and there were SAMS posters all over the hospital. Doctors there were more like interns, not actual doctors but they received intensive training for a period,'' Le Corf told me in Aleppo.
As the White Helmets are lauded with having had a widely-loved presence in eastern Aleppo (and other al-Qaeda occupied regions of Syria), I asked Omran's father whether he had had any interactions with them prior to the August 2016 evening. He replied that he hadn't and added:
''I saw nothing of them, but I heard a lot from other people. Some said they do help people and others said they steal their money, mobiles, etc from those they help.''
Related: John Pilger: The White Helmets Are A ''Complete Propaganda Construct''
British journalist Vanessa Beeley, in her investigations into the White Helmets, heard far more sordid first-hand accounts when she visited the Jibreen reception center for displaced Syrians from eastern Aleppo areas in December 2016.
In the corporate media frenzy which followed that August 2016 night, Mahmoud Raslan'--the star photographer of Omran in the ambulance'--at one point described crying for Omran. I asked Mohammad Daqneesh about this, knowing of Raslan's close affiliation with al-Zenki.
A young boy rides his bike through the destruction of the Jalloum neighborhood in the eastern Aleppo, Syria after it was liberated from Syrian rebels, Jan. 20, 2017. (AP/Hassan Ammar)
''If he cried and felt sorry for my child, that's up to him. But if he cried to manipulate others feelings, that's a different story. We see a lot of cases on the television which we cry for. But not like this slight injury,'' Daqneesh said, touching Omran's forehead.
To my question of whether the militants had attempted to intimidate or otherwise coerce Daqneesh into corroborating the narrative around Omran, he said:
''They tried to pressure us to say that the Russian and the Syrian air forces hit us, but I can't be a witness to something I didn't see. They offered me money, travel out of Syria, residency, citizenship, employment, health insurance, and things like that. And they offered us their protection on the way out of Syria because the road, the Ramouseh road, was very dangerous. They wanted to put us inside an armored vehicle which would take us to the Turkish borders, through Bab Salame, with the help of the armed men.''
Assuming that Daqneesh is being ''held under house arrest'' as pro- ''rebels'' media have claimed, why then would he refuse this offer? I asked why he hadn't left with them and what he thought of claims he was being forced to speak as he has done.
''Firstly, I am a Syrian citizen and my children have every right to live in this country. Also, it was simple (injury), why would I leave? I've gone back to my work. Some media have said that I live in Turkey now and my family and I left Omran alone. That's all a lie.
I didn't ask them to put us in the media and to trade with our blood. I didn't ask them to take photos and write stories about us. They imposed themselves on us and did all that. Now they are saying that I'm a traitor, that I betrayed the country and that I'm sitting with a criminal.
I stay only where I am convinced is right for me, and I recommend that they return to their senses. Enough damaging this country, they came here and caused us all this damage and harm, I am asking them to back off and to leave this country and people alone. Enough is enough.''
''Rescuers'' Traded Blood for Photo OpThe now infamous photo of Omran Daqneesh as he sits in an ambulance in Aleppo, Syria.
Syrian journalist Khaled Iskef is largely responsible for bringing the true story of Omran Daqneesh to light. Through months of dialogue with Mohammad Daqneesh, Iskef's urging him to talk to the media, eventuated on June 5th.
In meetings with Iskef in Aleppo, he told me about something even more disturbing than the exploitation of Omran Daqneesh: according to Iskef's investigations through talking with Daqneesh and his friends, the White Helmets ''rescuers'' first grabbed one child for their ''rescue'' photo op, but when they saw undeniably adorable Omran, they took him instead, leaving the first child aside. Trading blood, as Daqneesh said.
Iskef spoke of why Daqneesh changed his mind about speaking to press.
''He refused any media because of what's happened with his child. When you think of how Western media treated the child, his reaction to any media was to refuse. I kept telling him you must talk to the media.''
Watch CNN reporter Kate Bolduan sheds tears for Omran Daqneesh:Mahmoud Raslan, the photographer of that famous photo, is now in Idlib, after having left in December 2016 with the terrorists occupying eastern Aleppo districts when the Syrian army and allies liberated Aleppo.
According to Iskef, Raslan recently bragged anew about photographing Omran. ''This made his father crazy.'' Daqneesh never gave permission to Raslan or anyone to photograph his son, and ensured no one would do so after the initial photograph was used as war propaganda. ''This is what made him open up and talk, he was so angry.''
In his article for al-Mayadeen, in Arabic, Khaled Iskef wrote (on-line translated):
''According to Omran's father, some journalists close to the Nusra Front told him that 26 million Muslims depended on him '...and said they were waiting for his statement that the bombing was the Syrian regime.''
The foreign journalists he referred to, he told me, included Bilal Abdul Kareem, who is perhaps known to some readers for having been embedded with al-Qaeda, praising the White Helmets, and fawningly interviewing Saudi terrorist, Sheikh Abdullah Muhaysini .
Iskef also tweeted about the attempts to bribe Daqneesh, writing:
In our conversations and in a series of recent tweets, Iskef mentioned that Daqneesh is being threatened for having spoken out against the media lies and manipulations. One such tweet read:
''Threats that now reach me, and my family's because I have exposed the lies of the gunmen who were controlling eastern parts of #Aleppo.''
Aleppo, Former al-Qaeda Hot-Bed: From Occupied to LiberatedWhile the entire details of the August 17 2,016 evening are not yet clear, what is clear is that the White Helmets, the AMC, and the corporate media lied and exploited Omran Daqneesh and his family in their concerted war propaganda efforts to demonize the Syrian and Russian governments.
Khaled Iskef raised a good, if not basic, point: ''Can they prove it was a Syrian or Russian airstrike?''
In our June 6th interview, Mohammad Daqneesh likewise said: ''We asked the journalists to bring out the pieces of the weapon we were hit by, to see it. They refused, they refused.''
After hearing what Mohammad Daqneesh had to say that afternoon, I chatted with one of his neighbors in the same area. The neighbor mentioned a day in 2014, two days prior to the Presidential elections, in which he said ''96 gas bombs on Sulimaniyeh and Midan. My house was destroyed to rubble. The government didn't retaliate because where the terrorists were and fired from there were civilians.''
Member of the Free Syrian Army ready a homemade weapon known as a 'hell cannon' in the ruins of the city of Aleppo.
Indeed, in a September 2014 article on mortar and rocket terrorism, I wrote about the bombings prior to the Presidential elections in the Damascus region alone. These bombings hit government-secured cities throughout Syria:
''According to political analyst and Damascus resident Mazen al-Akhras, in the three-month period of April, May and June 2014, terrorist-insurgents fired 994 mortars on Damascus and environs, 426 of which were fired in June (see a list of locations hit and a number of mortars below). On June 3, Election Day in Syria, the terrorist-insurgents fired 151 shells on Damascus, killing 5 and maiming 33 Syrians, Akhras said.''
In December, 2016, all of Aleppo city was liberated of the Nusra, Zenki, and other terrorist factions which had occupied eastern areas (and formerly northern) for years. Syrian and friendly media showed the celebrations which lasted well beyond Christmas, which was celebrated for the first time in years in the overwhelmingly Sunni Muslim city, with Muslims celebrating with their Christian friends and neighbors.
After the liberation of Aleppo, Western and Gulf media, and most of the many concerned human rights groups went silent on Aleppo'--as they had been utterly silent on the near-daily murders of civilians and bombings of hospitals on the government side of Aleppo by militants they dubbed 'rebels'. The number of civilians who died as a result of terrorist snipings, explosive bullets, Hell-Cannon-fired gas cylinder bombs, Grad missiles and other powerful munitions, was nearly 11,000, according to the head of Forensics in Aleppo by late 2016 . The media shifted their attention to other areas occupied by al-Qaeda where atrocities could be claimed and White Helmets could perform for their payments.
Western and Gulf media have propagated relentlessly against the Syrian army, and Syria's allies, distorting realities on numerous occasions, and completely fabricating allegations on numerous others, all with the sole intent of demonizing those who have actually fought terrorism in Syria since this began in 2011. Unsurprisingly, the same Western media which distorted, exploited and lied about Omran Daqneesh is striving to discredit the words of his father, Mohammad.
Mohammad Daqneesh, an unwilling party to the war propaganda, had the following to say about Syria and its army:
''Syria comes before anything. I don't belong to any side. Syria comes first. The Syrian Army protects the country and the people. I served in the Syrian army. The army is the people, and the people are the army.''
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Assault Pistol
Joint Base implements new firearms policy : Hookele '' Pearl Harbor '' Hickam News
Sun, 18 Jun 2017 14:55
Anna General
Managing Editor, Ho'okele
Navy Region Hawaii Public Affairs
To promulgate procedures for the stowage, registration and possession of privately-owned firearms and dangerous weapons, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam (JBPHH) implemented a new firearms instruction policy, May 31.
''Due to recent violations that involved unregistered weapons entering our base, it was time to inform the community that this was against base policy and regulations,'' said Lt. Cmdr. Clarence Bradley, JBPHH deputy security officer.
This new policy, JBPHHINST 5530.1A, applies to all personnel within JBPHH, including active duty personnel, Reservists, Department of Defense (DoD) civilians, contractors, retirees, family members and their guests.
All residents living in public-private venture (PPV) housing within JBPHH, to include Hospital Point, Marine Barracks, Hale Alii, Earhart Village, Onizuka Village, Hale Na Koa Village and Officer Field are required to follow the new policy.
This also includes residents living at JBPHH annexes such as Makalapa Compound, Ford Island, West Loch, Wahiawa, McGrew Point, Pearl City Peninsula and Lualualei.
Prohibited firearms on JBPHH:' Assault rifles
' Assault pistols
' Automatic firearms
' Rifles with barrel lengths less than 16 inches
' Shotguns with barrel lengths less than 18 inches
' Mufflers, silencers or devices for deadening or muffling the sound of discharged firearms
' Cannons, hand grenades, dynamite, blasting caps, bombs or bombshells, or other explosives
' Any type of ammunition designed to penetrate metal or pierce protective armor
' Any type of ammunition designed/intended to explode/segment upon impact with its target
''We are looking to inform the community most of all of the requirements and time they have to register their weapons with the state and Joint Base Security,'' Bradley said.
According to the policy, all personnel must register firearms with the State of Hawaii at the Honolulu Police Department within five calendar days of taking possession of their weapons when they arrive on island. After registering with the state, they have three days from that date to register with Joint Base Security.
''The most notable changes to this policy are the limitations of weapons and ammunition that are allowed on the base,'' Bradley said.
Each household is allowed no more than five weapons and no more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition. The instruction also states that there are waivers and options for additional weapons in place for these limitations that can be approved by the Joint Base Commander.
''The most important thing to learn about this new weapons policy is that violation of this policy can lead to the individual being barred from the base and a possible eviction from base housing. We strongly recommend that weapons owners take the time to register their weapons within the required timelines and take advantage of the waiver or storage options available if needed.''
For more information, contact Lt. Cmdr. Clarence Bradley at Clarence. bradley@navy.mil.
Pedobear
Victims pull out of Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse - BBC News
Sun, 18 Jun 2017 12:14
Image copyright PA Image caption Prof Alexis Jay was appointed in 2016 and is the fourth person to chair the inquiry Sex abuse victims have been "utterly marginalised" by an inquiry set up to help them, one of the victims claimed.
The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) is examining the extent to which religious groups and local authorities failed children.
Earlier this week a latest victims group - Survivors of Organised and Institutional Abuse (SOIA) - withdrew from the process.
The IICSA said it had "taken on board" a number of issues raised by SOIA.
SOIA said the group had taken the decision to withdraw "with regret" but said the inquiry was "not fit for purpose".
Set up in 2014, the inquiry has been beset by controversy, with three chairwomen stepping down, lawyers quitting and victims losing faith in the process.
'Darkest episodes'One of the victims, Dr Phil Frampton, who grew up in Cornwall, said instead of being at the heart of the inquiry, survivors have been "utterly marginalised".
"This inquiry is not fit for purpose and has never been fit for purpose - we engaged to try to help it be fit for purpose, but it's actually going backwards," Mr Frampton said.
He said the Home Office had a "conflict of interest" and had failed to deal with abuse that had taken place, including in children's homes and approved schools it was responsible for prior to 1970.
"This is one of the darkest episodes in the country's history and if you've got people with conflicts of interest, they're never going to shine a torch into those dark places, for fear they'll see themselves," he said.
Dr Frampton has waived his right to anonymity.
More than 200 victims and survivors are involved in the inquiry, which was launched in 2014 by the then Home Secretary, Theresa May.
SOIA is the second victims' group to withdraw from the inquiry. Last September the Shirley Oaks Survivors Association announced it would be pulling out, having lost faith in an inquiry it believed was not independent.
Decision 'regretted'"The heart of the inquiry is the big institutions who are using taxpayers' money to defend their institutions," Dr Frampton said.
"It is a callous and cold process the inquiry is inflicting on survivors."
The inquiry, chaired by Professor Alexis Jay, involves 13 initial investigations into allegations against local authorities, religious organisations, the armed forces, public and private institutions and people in the public eye.
In a statement, IICSA said it regretted SOIA's decision to withdraw and would welcome the group or individual members back,
It said it had "taken on board" a number of issues raised by SOIA, adding that the "important work" of the inquiry would continue.
Poppie$
Candanavia Horse
Hi Adam. Figured since you and John are covering the topic, the fentanyl pandemic has penetrated Canada as well. My cousin, a first responder, informed me they are now armed to the gills with narcan to combat this stuff. I also just lost my brother to the drug.
Hi Adam. Figured since you and John are covering the topic, the fentanyl pandemic has penetrated Canada as well. My cousin, a first responder, informed me they are now armed to the gills with narcan to combat this stuff. I also just lost my brother to the drug.
Thanks and stay woke.
Kyle
Thanks and stay woke.
2TTH
Kohl Dead
Helmut Kohl died YESTERDAY,
note: he was the one who sat with Ronald Reagan near Berlin-wall,
in divided (then) Berlin
which inspired Ronald Reagan to say:
“Mr Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”
note: as far as I understand: France forced Germany (Kohl) to
create euro currency as price to pay for agreement on reunification of Germany
Kohl is known in German as German-reunification chancellor
his personal life was rather tragic: his wife committed su*cide but he got new wife
but was accused of some financial BS
note also: Kohl helped Poland to join NATO and EU. Kohl understood
that Poland loves USA so being in NATO is bliss for Poland.
(not to mention the fact that 98% of Poland are catholic like Kohl)
greetings from Viertes Reich
--
yo!, CSB.
Ottomania
Turkey builds 700 kilometer long wall on Syrian border - LOCAL
Sat, 17 Jun 2017 13:07
Nuray Babacan '' ANKARA
Turkey has finished the construction of a 700-kilometer wall along its border with Syria to block terrorist infiltration into the country, with Defense Minister Fikri Işık saying a similar wall would be built on the border with Iran in the country's east.Speaking in parliament, Işık said most of the wall construction had been completed along the 828-kilometer border, Turkey's longest.
The minister said an ''integrated protection'' system would be installed along Turkey's borders as part of security precautions.
As part of the ''integrated security'' system, lighting, a sensor system and cameras will be installed along the border, the defense minister said, adding that security would also be enhanced by the use of drones and broader surveillance.
Noting that the security system would be put in practice at all borders in time, Işık said wall construction efforts had been started on the Iranian border by the Interior Ministry and that authorities had been considering a variety of options for the Iraqi border.
Turkey's border with Syria is largely flat, although the mountainous terrain along the Iranian border could create more challenges in the construction of further walls for the ostensible purpose of halting the infiltration of terrorists.
''While the physical border security systems are being built, we are also switching to a multiple system. It will be a system that integrates wall, road, lightening system, fiberoptic censors, cameras, balloons and drones,'' Işık said, adding that the pilot implementation of the system would soon be implemented.
''The efforts for it were concluded and the pilot practice will be carried out soon. We can't tell you the place yet. The second stage will be implemented in accordance with a certain schedule on all of our borders after the construction of the walls end,'' he also said.
Turkey launched efforts to increase border security to prevent militants from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) from infiltrating the country.
Both groups have staged deadly bomb attacks that have claimed the lives of hundreds of people.
During his speech, Işık said the system would facilitate precautions when a threat approaches the border.
''This system is not a struggle like watching if someone jumped over a wall, but it features taking precautions when a threat approaches the border. The precautions will be able to be taken from far. The first practice is starting as a pilot. We will then develop the system on the Iranian and Iraqi borders,'' he added.
Işık also said the decision on the style of the precautions on the Iraqi border had yet to be taken.
''The decision on whether the practice on the Iraqi border will be with a wall or an integrated system alone hasn't been taken yet. We are laying emphasis on different alternatives. The system we call wideband observation determines the slightest movement, detects it and raises an alarm. We are now at the stage of making a decision for the Iraqi border,'' he said.
The minister said the remaining part of the wall on the Syrian border would be completed by the end of July.
''The terrorist group PKK is planting mines to delay the building of a wall and weakening security precautions. There are short-term delays for that reason, but we are at the last stage. The terrorist organization is planting home-made explosives on the spots that will be covered with a border. We have cleared over a thousand home-made explosives and between 4,000 and 5,000 mines. That's why it was stalled off a little but, otherwise it would have been over by now,'' he added.
June/15/2017
PHOTO GALLERY
CLIPS AND DOCS
VIDEO - Father of North Korean Hostage Criticizes Obama, MSNBC Says He's Not 'Politically Sophisticated' | MRCTV
Sun, 18 Jun 2017 13:25
More in the cross-post on the MRC's NewsBusters blog.
During a 10 a.m. press conference on Thursday, Fred Warmbier, the father of freed North Korean hostage Otto Warmbier, thanked the Trump administration for aiding in the release of his son while not being shy about voicing his displease with the Obama administration's handling of the situation. In the coverage on MSNBC that followed, Warmbier's comments were dismissed as ''rhetoric'' from ''someone who isn't necessarily politically sophisticated.''
VIDEO - Trump Signs Executive Order Expanding Apprenticeship Opportunities | MRCTV
Sun, 18 Jun 2017 13:13
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VIDEO - The View Bemoans 'Sexist' Treatment of Kamala Harris | MRCTV
Sun, 18 Jun 2017 12:58
The mission of the Media Research Center is to create a media culture in America where truth and liberty flourish. The MRC is a research and education organization operating under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, and contributions to the MRC are tax-deductible. Copyright (C) 2005-2017, Media Research Center. All Rights Reserved.
Federal employees and military personnel can donate to the Media Research Center through the Combined Federal Campaign or CFC. To donate to the MRC, use CFC #12489. Visit the CFC website for more information about giving opportunities in your workplace.
VIDEO - Seriously? PBS Shares Blame for Shooting With Gingrich, Trump | MRCTV
Sun, 18 Jun 2017 12:55
The mission of the Media Research Center is to create a media culture in America where truth and liberty flourish. The MRC is a research and education organization operating under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, and contributions to the MRC are tax-deductible. Copyright (C) 2005-2017, Media Research Center. All Rights Reserved.
Federal employees and military personnel can donate to the Media Research Center through the Combined Federal Campaign or CFC. To donate to the MRC, use CFC #12489. Visit the CFC website for more information about giving opportunities in your workplace.
VIDEO - MSNBC's Reid Frets 'We've Been Forced to Ignore' Scalise History on Race | MRCTV
Sun, 18 Jun 2017 12:38
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VIDEO - Some People Think Skittles' All-White Pride Candies Are Racist
Sun, 18 Jun 2017 11:39
With their rainbow colors, Skittles are often adopted as an unofficial symbol of LGBTQ inclusion. But some say the popular candy's formal Pride campaign leaves behind a sour taste.
In March, the Wrigley-owned brand unveiled an all-white version of the candy in an effort to allow ''Pride's rainbow to take center stage.'' The revamped Skittles are currently being sold in black-and-white bags in both the United Kingdom and Germany, and will appear on store shelves through September.
Wrigley
''This campaign allows us to have great fun with our brand while also raising awareness of an important issue,'' a Wrigley spokesperson tells HuffPost. ''As a major advertiser we believe we have a responsibility to use our voice and the power of our brands to do good,'' a Wrigley spokesperson told HuffPost in an email. ''This campaign allows us to have great fun with our brand while also raising awareness of an important issue.''
Previously, the candy went colorless in June 2016 in conjunction with London Pride's #OneRainbow campaign. This year, however, some are interpreting the gesture literally. By going all-white, they say, Skittles fail to reflect racial diversity within the queer community.
Others seemed a bit more open to the idea, and suggested the controversy was a bit overblown.
The criticism comes just days after Philadelphia added two new stripes '• black and brown '• to its rainbow flag to acknowledge queer people of color in its 2017 Pride festivities. The stripes, which were added as part of Philly's More Color More Pride campaign, angered some who felt that drawing attention to race went against the original mission of rainbow flag creator Gilbert Baker, who died in March.
In an email to HuffPost, the Wrigley spokesperson shrugged off the controversy, and stressed that ''diversity and inclusion are also key values for us.''
Pointing to the mostly ''positive response'' the campaign had received, the spokesperson added, ''Happiness, fun and inclusion are at the heart of who we are ... Any suggestion that this support for Pride is in any way racist is clearly wrong.''
Find more ways to celebrate Pride by subscribing to the Queer Voices newsletter.
VIDEO - Lily Allen just accused the media of covering up the Grenfell Tower death toll, live on Channel 4 [VIDEO] | The Canary
Sat, 17 Jun 2017 12:40
Singer Lily Allen has accused the mainstream media and government of covering up the Grenfell Tower fire death toll, live on Channel 4 News. Anchor Jon Snow was interviewing the singer when she said:
I feel like the government are trying to micromanage people's grieving here'... I've never in my entire life seen an event like this, where the death count has been downplayed by the mainstream media. 17? I'm sorry, but I'm hearing from people that the figure is much closer to 150, and that many of those people are children.
The mainstream media has so far been reporting the death toll at 17.
Allen clarified:
Those are off the record numbers that I've been given from policemen and from firemen.
The Channel 4 News host said he had also heard the same ballpark figure as Allen. He responded:
The difficulty is that they have to identify bodies. And there can be very little left in this building.
Allen also told Channel 4 News:
I appreciate that. But these are families. And when'... you identify a body, you report it to the next of kin. There are no next of kin.
Conservative cuts to emergency services have come under intense scrutiny since the Grenfell Tower fire. Tory cuts in London resulted in ten fire stations closing, three of which were in the area of Grenfell Tower. In the UK as a whole, 10,000 firefighters '' one in six '' have been cut since the Conservatives came to power in 2010. The Conservative-Liberal Democrat Coalition cut fire and rescue funding by 30%. And at the Grenfell Tower fire, some firefighters have said cuts have taken a serious toll on operations.
Allen said on Channel 4:
If people's hope turns to anger, they've got a real problem on their hands.
She claims the media and government are downplaying the Grenfell fire death toll. And there could well be a reckoning in the pipeline for a Conservative deregulatory agenda that appears to trample over the safety of working class residents. Earlier on 15 June, for example, Labour MP David Lammy branded the fire ''corporate manslaughter''.
And there are clearly many questions that need answering. Urgently.
Get Involved
'' If you are concerned about anyone from Grenfell Tower, call the Casualty Bureau on 0800 0961 233 or 0207 158 0197.
'' If you're a lawyer and you're willing to help, contact the North Kensington Law Centre on 020 8969 7473.
'' Donate to the Grenfell Tower Appeal.
'' If you're in London, go to the Grenfell Tower Benefit. The line-up features Jeremy Hardy, Josie Long, Heydon Prowse, Mark Thomas and Imran Yusuf.
'' Join Justice for Grenfell outside the Department for Communities and Local Government at 6pm on 16 June.
'' See more from The Canary on the Grenfell Tower fire here. Also read more articles on Britain's housing crisis.
Featured image via screenshot
James Wright
James writes for change (spare or otherwise). In Star Wars they can destroy entire planets with lasers but still have slaves on Tattoine. The US military is developing laser sound to startle enemies but has the highest inequality rate in the world.This is a mindless direction to go in. A huge portion of GDP should be dedicated to public technological research and development. The aim would be a sustainable technological revolution where human necessity is automated. This would facilitate economic and creative activity like never before. No longer would ordinary people be forced to work for pennies just to survive. True freedom could be unleashed. The economic systems of the past have handed us all the tools we need. It's time to move on.
VIDEO - Andrew Bolt interviews Cassie Jaye |After 'Hostile' Australian Media| Red Pill 2017|#redpill #auspol - YouTube
Fri, 16 Jun 2017 03:17
VIDEO - THIS is WHY the Deep State is Targeting Trump -- Liz Crokin - YouTube
Fri, 16 Jun 2017 03:16
VIDEO - Senator Elizabeth Warren Tells Us Her Favorite Curse Word And Its Cringe-worthy AF - Funny Video
Fri, 16 Jun 2017 03:15
Featured 18 hours ago in Funny Elizabeth Warren has a bit of a potty mouth and she couldn't look happier when saying her favorite curse word.
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VIDEO - PUTIIIIIIIIIN - Google Drive
Thu, 15 Jun 2017 21:45
Update your browser to use Google Drive - Google Drive HelpHTTP/1.1 302 Moved Temporarily Content-Type: text/html; charset=UTF-8 X-Robots-Tag: noindex, nofollow, nosnippet Cache-Control: no-cache, no-store, max-age=0, must-revalidate Pragma: no-cache Expires: Mon, 01 Jan 1990 00:00:00 GMT Date: Thu, 15 Jun 2017 21:45:19 GMT Location: https://support.google.com/drive/?p=unsupported_browser Content-Encoding: gzip X-Content-Type-Options: nosniff X-Frame-Options: SAMEORIGIN X-XSS-Protection: 1; mode=block Server: GSE Alt-Svc: quic=":443"; ma=2592000; v="38,37,36,35" Transfer-Encoding: chunked HTTP/1.1 302 Found Location: https://support.google.com/drive/answer/6286662?p=unsupported_browser&visit_id=0-636331599193029616-2555975635&rd=1 Cache-Control: private, max-age=0 Date: Thu, 15 Jun 2017 21:45:19 GMT Expires: Thu, 15 Jun 2017 21:45:19 GMT Content-Type: text/html; charset=UTF-8 X-Content-Type-Options: nosniff Server: support-content-ui Content-Length: 320 X-XSS-Protection: 1; mode=block X-Frame-Options: SAMEORIGIN Alt-Svc: quic=":443"; ma=2592000; v="38,37,36,35" HTTP/1.1 200 OK Strict-Transport-Security: max-age=31536000; includeSubdomains Content-Type: text/html; charset=UTF-8 Date: Thu, 15 Jun 2017 21:45:19 GMT Expires: Thu, 15 Jun 2017 21:45:19 GMT Cache-Control: private, max-age=0 X-Content-Type-Options: nosniff Content-Encoding: gzip Server: support-content-ui X-XSS-Protection: 1; mode=block X-Frame-Options: SAMEORIGIN Alt-Svc: quic=":443"; ma=2592000; v="38,37,36,35" Transfer-Encoding: chunked
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VIDEO - Booz Allen stock plummets on word of federal government probe
Sun, 18 Jun 2017 15:06
Shares of Booz Allen Hamilton sank as much as 13 percent in after-hours trading after the government services firm revealed in a regulatory filing it was the subject of a federal civil and criminal probe in connection with its finances.
Last year, the company derived 97 percent of its revenue from U.S. government business. One of its major customers is the Pentagon, including all four branches of the military, as well as national intelligence agencies. The IRS also is a customer of Booz Allen.
In its Securities and Exchange Commission filing late Thursday, Booz Allen said it was informed June 7 by the U.S. Department of Justice that it was the subject of a probe "relating to certain elements of the company's cost accounting and indirect cost charging practices with the U.S. government."
According to the company's 8-K filing, "To date, our internal and external audit processes have not identified any significant deficiencies or material weaknesses, or identified any significant erroneous cost charging."
Booz Allen added that it was "cooperating with the government in these matters and expects to bring them to an appropriate resolution."
The company declined to comment beyond the filing.
Booz Allen's work with intelligence agencies has sometimes been the source of unwanted attention. There have been at least two cases of security lapses since 2013 involving employees of Booz Allen, including Edward Snowden, who was hired by the firm and leaked National Security Agency documents.
It's unclear exactly what led to the investigation over cost accounting and charging practices, but the ramifications are serious if anything is found given strict government rules that govern contractors.
One federal government rule allows the Pentagon to withhold a portion of payments if deficiencies in contractor or subcontractor accounting or certain other irregularities are found. There also are strict accounting requirements that involve reimbursement of expenses.
Indeed, Booz Allen's 10-K annual document filed last month touches on some of the regulations, laws and unique accounting rules it operates under as a major contractor of the U.S. government.
"Our contracts, performance, and administrative processes and systems are subject to audits, reviews, investigations, and cost adjustments by the U.S. government, which could reduce our revenue, disrupt our business, or otherwise materially adversely affect our results of operations," the company said in the 10-K. "We are also subject to audit by Inspectors General of other U.S. government agencies.
VIDEO - Brexit news EU: Frans Timmerssman says Brexit CAN be reversed anytime up until 2019 | World | News | Express.co.uk
Sun, 18 Jun 2017 14:50
European Commission First President Frans Timmermans said the Brussels club would be happy to see the UK change its mind and stay in the bloc.
The Dutch eurocrat Mr Timmermans said: ''By all means; we didn't ask the UK to leave.''
Mr Timmermans echoed the remarks of French president Emmanuel Macron, who on Wednesday dealt a blow to 'hard' Brexit by suggesting the process can be reversed if the UK wished to do so.
He added that Britain would be welcomed back into the EU fold if it changed its mind up until the moment of Brexit in 2019
GETTY
Frans Timmermans said the door is always open to Britain Related articles Miracle from the 20th floor as sisters, 6 and 8, found ALIVE NHS forced to deny ANOTHER cyber attack after Twitter claims GETTY
May and Macron met in Paris earlier this week Sat, May 27, 2017 Getty Images
1 of 48
Police officers detain a man outside an election campaign event being held by Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May on May 22
German finance minister Wolfgang Schauble also issued the same remarks, suggesting European politicians are attempting to use the uncertainty in British politics to thwart Brexit.
Brexit negotiatior Guy Verhofstadt has also waded in to the debate, by bashing the Tory party for its ''internal catfighting'' and spoke of the growing ''impatience'' within the bloc over citizens' rights.
The politician said the General Election result, which saw Theresa May lose her majority, was a rejection of Conservative Party's ''hard'' Brexit.
GETTY
Guy Verhofstadt said the EU are impatient over Brexit talks Brexit secretary David Davis and EU's negotiator Michel Barnier confirmed Brexit talks will begin on Monday, June 19.
Although the agenda for negotiations are yet to be finalised, it is scheduled to run from 11am to 6pm.
GETTY
Brexit talks are set to start on Monday A source said: ''Brussels time of course.''
Mr Barnier will speak English, but wants the option of switching to French, so a translator will be provided.
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VIDEO - AI assault on stock market: IBM's Watson is getting into ETF business
Sun, 18 Jun 2017 14:42
As the robot war on Wall Street stock pickers heats up, there's a new line of attack from the algorithmic set: IBM's Watson supercomputer has been hired to help run an ETF and pick stocks than can achieve better performance than the broad U.S. stock market index.
The ETF, called the Equbot with Watson AI Total US ETF, has been filed for by ETF Managers Group, which works with a number of ETF subadvisers to bring new investing ideas into the market, and already has launched big data, cybersecurity, drone and immunotherapy funds, among others.
The Watson ETF's approach to picking stocks is described in the filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission as "actively managed" and "based on the results of a proprietary, quantitative model (the "Equbot Model") developed by Equbot LLC ("Equbot") with Watson."
Getty Images
IBM's Watson computing system.
Equbot, the Fund's sub-advisor, is a technology-based company focused on applying artificial intelligence to investment analyses. It is part of the IBM Global Entrepreneurs start-up roster. IBM already has a Watson effort for financial services more broadly, which includes a Watson analytical tool for wealth advisors and wealth management groups, and Watson applications for financial markets analysis.
The filing says Equbot will use IBM's Watson AI to perform a fundamental analysis of U.S.-listed stocks and real estate investment trusts based on up to 10 years of historical data and then apply that analysis to recent economic and news data.
"Each day, the Equbot Model ranks each company based on the probability of the company benefiting from current economic conditions, trends and world events and identifies approximately 30 to 70 companies with the greatest potential for appreciation and their corresponding weights, while maintaining volatility comparable to the broader U.S. equity market."
More from ETF Strategist:
Don't wait for the bubble to pop when tech stocks sell-off
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A smart investment plan for every decade of life
One of the most successful examples of algorithmic stock-picking in the history of Wall Street is hedge fund titan Robert Mercer, co-CEO of Renaissance Technologies, one of the most profitable hedge funds in the world. Mercer came to Renaissance in 1993 from IBM, where the computer engineer did pioneering work on using computers to review massive amounts of text and then use predictive analytics to translate between languages, an algorithm that laid the groundwork for Google Translate and Apple's Siri.
"The trend with ETF product development is toward quantitative efforts following predetermined rules to ensure consistency. It seems logical that more efforts will involve computer programming going forward using back-tested tools," said Todd Rosenbluth, director of mutual fund and ETF research at CFRA.
Neena Mishra, director of ETF research at Zacks Investment Research, said she likes the idea, but while AI can be used to process and analyze vast amount of data much quicker than humans, sometimes the challenge lies in deciding the importance of each piece of information in the investment decision. "An investment process involving a human analyst/team of analysts, supported by strong data analytics, certainly makes sense," she said.
She also noted that the ETF's expense ratio has not been disclosed, and since it's actively managed, it could be high. "That's the main reason why I don't like most actively managed funds. Active managers' performance has been underwhelming in general and does not justify high management fees charged by them."
BlackRock, the world's largest money manager, with more than $5 trillion in assets '-- and owner of the iShares family of ETFs '-- recently decided to turn over management on many of its actively managed funds to algorithms.
In many markets, BlackRock's automated trading products have beaten indexes more consistently than human fund managers, but they suffered a hiccup in 2016. BlackRock CEO Larry Fink told CNBC in April that the professionals who had been expected to be cut would be shifted to other jobs that make more use of analytics.
In the past, BlackRock has explained that there are some tasks only a computer can do when it comes to analyzing large sets of data to make stock calls. That includes monitoring satellite data of big-box store parking lots and analyzing internet searches for consumer products to predict sales volume or even national economic growth.
VIDEO - Dream Hoarders | Brookings Institution
Sun, 18 Jun 2017 14:28
Dream Hoarders | Brookings InstitutionSearchThe Brookings InstitutionThe Brookings InstitutionSearchMenuDownloadPDF FilePDF FileThe Brookings InstitutionFacebookTwitterYouTubePodcastBrowse NewslettersRSSThe Brookings InstitutionCloseCloseSkip to main content
America is becoming a class-based society.
It's now conventional wisdom to focus on the excesses of the top 1% '-- especially the top 0.01% '-- and how the ultra-rich are hoarding income and wealth while incomes for most other Americans are stagnant. But the more important, and widening, gap in American society is between the upper middle class and everyone else.
Reeves defines the upper middle class as those whose incomes are in the top 20 percent of American society. Income isn't the only way to measure a society, but in a market economy it is crucial because access to money generally determines who gets the best quality education, housing, health care, and other necessary goods and services.
As Reeves shows, the growing separation between the upper middle class and everyone else can be seen in family structure, neighborhoods, attitudes, and lifestyle. Those at the top of the income ladder are becoming more effective at passing on their status to their children, reducing overall social mobility. The result is a fracturing of American society along class lines, not just an economic divide. Upper-middle-class children become upper-middle-class adults.
These trends matter because the separation and perpetuation of the upper middle class corrode prospects for more progressive approaches to policy. Various forms of ''opportunity hoarding'' among the upper middle class make it harder for others to rise up to the top rung. Examples include zoning laws and schooling, occupational licensing, college application procedures, and the allocation of internships. Upper middle class opportunity hoarding, Reeves argues, results in a less competitive economy as well as a less open society.
Inequality is inevitable and can even be good, within limits. But Reeves argues that society can take effective action to reduce opportunity hoarding and thus promote broader opportunity. This fascinating book shows how American society has become the very class-defined society that earlier Americans rebelled against '-- and what can be done to restore a more equitable society.
240 PagesBrookings Institution Press, May 23, 2017Hardcover ISBN: 9780815729129Ebook ISBN: 9780815729136Richard V. ReevesRichard V. Reeves is a senior fellow in Economic Studies, co-director of the Center on Children and Families, and editor-in-chief of the Social Mobility Memos blog. His research focuses on social mobility, inequality, and family change. Prior to joining Brookings, he was director of strategy to the UK's Deputy Prime Minister.
See full bioPraise for Dream HoardersAn important new perspective on equality and mobility from one of America's best-informed and most articulate commentators on that topic. Reeves provocatively turns the current policy debate upside down'--not ''how do we increase upward mobility?'' but ''how do we increase downward mobility?'' Certain to enliven dinner party conversations among America's upper-middle class elite'--so if you are in that group, this book is a must-read.
'--Robert D. Putnam, Harvard University, and author of Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis
We have met the enemy, and he is us: we who were smart enough to pick the right parents and now occupy the high ground in post-industrial America. Richard Reeves and I differ on specifics, but Dream Hoarders rightly gets to the heart of things: if we treasure America's traditional civic culture and want to see it preserved for future generations, the upper middle class has to recognize how much responsibility it bears for the culture's plight and act accordingly. He makes that case brilliantly and'--a tough act to pull off'--engagingly.
'--Charles Murray, American Enterprise Institute
Richard Reeves has long been one of the most authoritative, insightful, and sage voices on the big questions gripping modern societies. Here he tackles one of the most urgent'--inequality and how to solve it'--and comes up with serious answers.
'--Jonathan Freedland, The Guardian
Reading Richard Reeves on social mobility is like going for a good walk: he is bracing, head clearing, and ultimately inspiring. With rigor and wit, his new book shows how millions of successful, hard-working Americans, often with the best of intentions, have helped build a society where birth matters more than brilliance. Impassioned, data-driven, and focused on practical solutions, Dream Hoarders is a fine cure for an age of stale, cynical politics.
'--David Rennie, The Economist
Recently, scholars and social activists have set off alarm bells about the rising concentration of income among the top 1 percent. Richard Reeves urges us to turn our attention to a wider slice of affluent Americans'--the top fifth'--and the result is a devastating empirical portrait of damage done to ''the bottom eighty.'' Reeves implores well-off Americans to press for institutional and policy reforms that would reduce segregation by class and increase intergenerational mobility. This captivating and stirring book is likely to make many of its readers uncomfortable.
'--Janet C. Gornick, Professor of Political Science and Sociology, Graduate Center, City University of New York, and Director, Stone Center on Socio-Economic Inequality
Many of us bemoan the damaging effects of economic inequality. But Richard Reeves has done the hard work of identifying how we recreate inequality from generation to generation. Warning: Reeves's book will challenge some of your assumptions, no matter what your views are. And he shows how innocent or even admirable actions in particular spheres can reinforce existing hierarchies. Dream Hoarders will shake you up, teach you a lot, and make you think much harder.
'--E.J. Dionne Jr., author of Why the Right Went Wrong and Our Divided Political Heart
Dream Hoarders | Brookings InstitutionSearchThe Brookings InstitutionThe Brookings InstitutionSearchMenuDownloadPDF FilePDF FileThe Brookings InstitutionFacebookTwitterYouTubePodcastBrowse NewslettersRSSThe Brookings InstitutionCloseCloseSkip to main content
America is becoming a class-based society.
It's now conventional wisdom to focus on the excesses of the top 1% '-- especially the top 0.01% '-- and how the ultra-rich are hoarding income and wealth while incomes for most other Americans are stagnant. But the more important, and widening, gap in American society is between the upper middle class and everyone else.
Reeves defines the upper middle class as those whose incomes are in the top 20 percent of American society. Income isn't the only way to measure a society, but in a market economy it is crucial because access to money generally determines who gets the best quality education, housing, health care, and other necessary goods and services.
As Reeves shows, the growing separation between the upper middle class and everyone else can be seen in family structure, neighborhoods, attitudes, and lifestyle. Those at the top of the income ladder are becoming more effective at passing on their status to their children, reducing overall social mobility. The result is a fracturing of American society along class lines, not just an economic divide. Upper-middle-class children become upper-middle-class adults.
These trends matter because the separation and perpetuation of the upper middle class corrode prospects for more progressive approaches to policy. Various forms of ''opportunity hoarding'' among the upper middle class make it harder for others to rise up to the top rung. Examples include zoning laws and schooling, occupational licensing, college application procedures, and the allocation of internships. Upper middle class opportunity hoarding, Reeves argues, results in a less competitive economy as well as a less open society.
Inequality is inevitable and can even be good, within limits. But Reeves argues that society can take effective action to reduce opportunity hoarding and thus promote broader opportunity. This fascinating book shows how American society has become the very class-defined society that earlier Americans rebelled against '-- and what can be done to restore a more equitable society.
240 PagesBrookings Institution Press, May 23, 2017Hardcover ISBN: 9780815729129Ebook ISBN: 9780815729136Richard V. ReevesRichard V. Reeves is a senior fellow in Economic Studies, co-director of the Center on Children and Families, and editor-in-chief of the Social Mobility Memos blog. His research focuses on social mobility, inequality, and family change. Prior to joining Brookings, he was director of strategy to the UK's Deputy Prime Minister.
See full bioPraise for Dream HoardersAn important new perspective on equality and mobility from one of America's best-informed and most articulate commentators on that topic. Reeves provocatively turns the current policy debate upside down'--not ''how do we increase upward mobility?'' but ''how do we increase downward mobility?'' Certain to enliven dinner party conversations among America's upper-middle class elite'--so if you are in that group, this book is a must-read.
'--Robert D. Putnam, Harvard University, and author of Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis
We have met the enemy, and he is us: we who were smart enough to pick the right parents and now occupy the high ground in post-industrial America. Richard Reeves and I differ on specifics, but Dream Hoarders rightly gets to the heart of things: if we treasure America's traditional civic culture and want to see it preserved for future generations, the upper middle class has to recognize how much responsibility it bears for the culture's plight and act accordingly. He makes that case brilliantly and'--a tough act to pull off'--engagingly.
'--Charles Murray, American Enterprise Institute
Richard Reeves has long been one of the most authoritative, insightful, and sage voices on the big questions gripping modern societies. Here he tackles one of the most urgent'--inequality and how to solve it'--and comes up with serious answers.
'--Jonathan Freedland, The Guardian
Reading Richard Reeves on social mobility is like going for a good walk: he is bracing, head clearing, and ultimately inspiring. With rigor and wit, his new book shows how millions of successful, hard-working Americans, often with the best of intentions, have helped build a society where birth matters more than brilliance. Impassioned, data-driven, and focused on practical solutions, Dream Hoarders is a fine cure for an age of stale, cynical politics.
'--David Rennie, The Economist
Recently, scholars and social activists have set off alarm bells about the rising concentration of income among the top 1 percent. Richard Reeves urges us to turn our attention to a wider slice of affluent Americans'--the top fifth'--and the result is a devastating empirical portrait of damage done to ''the bottom eighty.'' Reeves implores well-off Americans to press for institutional and policy reforms that would reduce segregation by class and increase intergenerational mobility. This captivating and stirring book is likely to make many of its readers uncomfortable.
'--Janet C. Gornick, Professor of Political Science and Sociology, Graduate Center, City University of New York, and Director, Stone Center on Socio-Economic Inequality
Many of us bemoan the damaging effects of economic inequality. But Richard Reeves has done the hard work of identifying how we recreate inequality from generation to generation. Warning: Reeves's book will challenge some of your assumptions, no matter what your views are. And he shows how innocent or even admirable actions in particular spheres can reinforce existing hierarchies. Dream Hoarders will shake you up, teach you a lot, and make you think much harder.
'--E.J. Dionne Jr., author of Why the Right Went Wrong and Our Divided Political Heart
VIDEO - Fact Check: Is Left-Wing Violence Rising? : NPR
Sun, 18 Jun 2017 14:00
Right-wing protesters were met by a large number of masked, black-clad counterprotesters at The Evergreen State College Thursday night. Martin Kaste/NPRhide caption
toggle captionMartin Kaste/NPR Right-wing protesters were met by a large number of masked, black-clad counterprotesters at The Evergreen State College Thursday night.
Martin Kaste/NPR Some conservatives have seized on Wednesday's shooting of Republican Rep. Steve Scalise and three others as the latest example of what they see as rising political violence from the left. Fox News' Sean Hannity accused Democrats of "dehumanizing" Republicans, and the right-leaning Washington Times ran an editorial by a Tea Party activist that called leftist protests "the first skirmishes of the second American civil war."
But those who track extremism say that while there are a few far-left groups that raise red flags, their numbers remain small.
Much of the conservatives' anger has been aimed at "Antifa" '-- short for "anti-fascists." Antifa are loosely affiliated groups of mostly young people, mainly on the West Coast but spreading around the country.
They dress in black and wear masks when they confront right-wing groups; in the past few months there have been clashes or confrontations in Berkeley, Calif.; Portland, Ore.; and, just this week, on the campus of Evergreen State College, in Olympia, Wash.
Portland police officers show a steel crowbar and pipes '-- weapons they seized from the Antifa-controlled zone during counterprotests in Portland, Ore., earlier this month. Martin Kaste/NPRhide caption
toggle captionMartin Kaste/NPR "The moment we got here, they started throwing rocks," says Joe Allen, one of the right-wing protesters who descended on the college Thursday to challenge what they see as its leftist ideology. They were met by a large number of the masked, black-clad counterprotesters. Allen says the Antifa have been harassing Trump supporters since Election Day.
"That night we went to downtown Portland to see what everything was like, and we got stuck on the bridge because [the Antifa were] stopping all traffic, hitting cars, jumping on cars, asking people, 'Who did you vote for?' "
A heavy presence of police in riot gear kept the confrontation at Evergreen State from escalating. The leader of the conservative protesters and the "Patriot Prayer" movement, Joey Gibson, was slightly injured '-- he said someone threw a can at his head. He later found his tires slashed. Witnesses say masked counterprotesters did it.
Antifa rarely talk to reporters and rarely give their names, at least not while wearing masks. But in online discussions they say the far-right activists are being disingenuous. They point to what they regard as the racism and white supremacist ideology of the other side. They say groups such as Gibson's only pretend to be interested in peaceful political protest and would attack minorities or leftists, given the chance.
"People are desperate," says one masked counterprotester, a student at Evergreen State who gave his name as Felix. "They see the government turning back to regressive Reaganomics and racist undertones and rhetoric, so once they start kicking 25 million people off health care, then you're going to start seeing riots."
The idea that some on the far left are openly condoning violence is a red flag for extremist group monitors.
"This is a dangerous game; people are going to die. No one's died yet, but it's just a matter of time," says J.J. McNabb, an expert on political extremism at George Washington University.
McNabb says white supremacists and neo-Nazis are widely condemned '-- and deservedly '-- for their violent tendencies. But she says the Antifa shouldn't get a pass on their violence just because they oppose white supremacists.
"These guys are odious, [but] attack them with words. Don't come in with sticks and nails in them," she says.
Antifa are not new. They're a latter-day version of the anarchists and "black bloc" groups who, over the years, have often challenged police and broken windows during May Day protests in Seattle and Portland. Their membership is hard to track, but it appears to be expanding beyond the West Coast. They are also embracing other leftist causes beyond just fighting white supremacists.
Still, their numbers are tiny in relation to the mainstream political left. And, say experts, it's misleading for right-wing groups to suggest that the Antifa are more violent than right-wing extremists.
"The far left is very active in the United States, but it hasn't been particularly violent for some time," says Mark Pitcavage, a senior research fellow at the Anti-Defamation League's Center on Extremism.
He says the numbers between the groups don't compare.
"In the past 10 years when you look at murders committed by domestic extremists in the United States of all types, right-wing extremists are responsible for about 74 percent of those murders," Pitcavage says.
You have to go back to the 1970s to find the last big cycle of far-left extremism in the U.S. Both Pitcavage and McNabb say we have been in a predominantly far-right extremist cycle since the 1990s '-- the abortion clinic bombings and Oklahoma City, for example. And, more recently, racially motivated attacks such as the one at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin, the mass shooting at a black church in Charleston, S.C., and last month's stabbings on a commuter train in Portland.
Still, Pitcavage says Wednesday's shooting attack on Republican members of Congress is a warning sign. He is especially concerned because the shooter apparently was not particularly extreme in his political ideas; his views were seemingly in the mainstream left.
"One act does not a trend make," Pitcavage wrote after the shooting attack. "But I am concerned that, in this highly polarized and divided society, more people who have stances that fall within the mainstream, on the left and right alike, may consider political violence an attractive option."
Domestic terrorism experts say that concern is only heightened by the fact that the line between what's considered mainstream and what's considered fringe is becoming increasingly blurred.
VIDEO - Father of North Korean Hostage Criticizes Obama, MSNBC Says He's Not 'Politically Sophisticated' | MRCTV
Sun, 18 Jun 2017 13:25
More in the cross-post on the MRC's NewsBusters blog.
During a 10 a.m. press conference on Thursday, Fred Warmbier, the father of freed North Korean hostage Otto Warmbier, thanked the Trump administration for aiding in the release of his son while not being shy about voicing his displease with the Obama administration's handling of the situation. In the coverage on MSNBC that followed, Warmbier's comments were dismissed as ''rhetoric'' from ''someone who isn't necessarily politically sophisticated.''

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MSNBC's Joy Reid Frets 'We've Been Forced to Ignore' Scalise History on Race.mp3
NPR-FACT CHECK- Is Left-Wing Violence Rising?.mp3
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