942: Force Multiplier

Adam Curry & John C. Dvorak

2h 46m
June 29th, 2017
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Executive Producers: Sir Husky Bottoms of the Hardwoods, Sir Onymous, Larry Pelham, Sir Craig Cuttner, Ron Driggs

Associate Executive Producers: Pnonymous, Sir CrashEMT, Robert Johnson, Austin Wilson, Andy Burghardt,

Cover Artist: Uncle Cave Bear


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The Banana Republic of Illinois - Stephen Moore
Thu, 29 Jun 2017 00:09
Posted: Jun 27, 2017 12:01 AM
The media has hyperobsessed over the Kansas tax hike this year and sold it as a repudiation of supply-side economics. But the real story in the states has been the catastrophic effects of tax-and-spend fiscal policy in Illinois.
Last week, Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan endorsed a $5 billion annual income tax hike. This would be the largest tax increase of any state in years. Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner has blocked new taxes for three years but is now under intense pressure from the Springfield political machine to agree to the revenue heist.
Anyone who thinks this soak-the-rich scheme will solve Illinois' long-term budget crisis should have their head examined. Illinois already ranks in the top three among the 50 states in state-local tax burden, so if raising taxes were any kind of solution here, the Land of Lincoln would be a Garden of Eden.
Instead, the state has been a financial basket case for years.
This is a state that is now $14.5 billion in arrears whose bonds have been downgraded to near-junk bond status, and that is losing its most valuable resource: its businesses and citizens. Small business contractors have to wait six months or more to get paid.
Back in 2013, then-Gov. Pat Quinn, a Democrat, followed the advice of economists like Paul Krugman of The New York Times and raised taxes on the very wealthiest residents of the state. He argued that the superrich in Illinois could easily afford to pay a bigger share of the tax load and no one would leave.
The more Quinn raised taxes, the deeper the budget hole got. Whole resort towns in Florida and Arizona have become high-income refugee camps of former affluent residents of Chicagoland.
In 2014 the voters dumped Quinn and his tax-and-spend economics and opted for businessman Bruce Rauner, a Republican. Rauner tried to fight the empire in Springfield but was stymied every step of the way. Democrats laughed away his call for a constitutional spending cap, reforms to a pension system that is $200 billion in the red, a property tax cap and so on. Their mantra sounded a lot like the giant plant in the film "Little Shop of Horrors" -- "feed me."
If there is any state that desperately needs term limits, it is this one.
The tax increase is a punt in dealing with the massive unfunded liabilities in its government pension system. According to the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability, Illinois' pension payments are the major contributor to spending growth. Following the recent credit downgrade, Moody's Investors Service cited the state's overwhelming pension debt level as a contributor to the poor credit rating and negative outlook. In November, the state reported having $130 billion in unfunded pension liabilities, but Moody's calculates that level of pension debt as twice as high, or $251 billion. A recent Hoover Institution analysis estimates Illinois' pension funding ratio to be 29 percent, the lowest level in the United States.
According to Donna Arduin, a former budget advisor to Gov. Rauner, if the pensions aren't curtailed, as much as 1 in 4 tax dollars in the state will soon not go to schools, roads, health care, or police and fire but to pension payments to retired employees -- many of whom no longer live in the state.
With a financial outlook like this, is it any wonder that some half-million more Americans left Illinois than moved there over the last decade? Only two states -- California and New York, two other liberal pantheons -- have lost more residents to other states than Illinois.
The recent actions in Springfield bring to mind the words of former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels who once joked that being a neighbor to Illinois is "like living next door to the Simpsons."
So what is the lesson for the rest of America? Soak-the-rich economics almost never works. As tax receipts keep sinking in Illinois, the safety net is tattered; the roads are in disrepair; crime is out of control in Chicago; and the state is home to some of the worst schools in the nation.
When you try to soak the rich, they leave; the state goes bankrupt; and it's the middle class that gets all wet. How's that for tax fairness?
Why is the national media ignoring this story?
Nikki Haley Responds to Question of U.S. 'Diminished Global Standing': U.N. Knows the U.S. Is 'Leading Again'
ITM, Adamus,
The term you seek meaning "hypertrophy" or enlargement of the amygdala is "amygdalomegaly," pronounced "uh-Mig-duh-lo-MEG-uh-lee." The suffix "-megaly" means "unusual growth or overgrowth of."
Scott M. Hamilton, MD
Conservatives Big on Fear, Brain Study Finds | Psychology Today
Mon, 26 Jun 2017 13:08
I'll take a stab at it..
I can address the specific argument you've posed by giving you a similar argument you can see through.
If you're very drunk and driving through the mountains at 120mph, I can tell you with a very high level of certainty that you'll crash. I can't tell you Exactly where you will crash, just like a meteorologist has trouble telling you what the weather will be in 11 days at a specific point on the planet.
The fact that you can't stay in your lane on a curvy road that you're traversing at well past what could possibly be a safe speed shows a clear pattern though.. you skid around the corners but eventually, you'll skid just a bit too far and you'll be embedded in the mountain or flying off the edge of the road.
Weather is chaotic. No one denies this. Just like no one knows exactly where the drunk will end up the next time they turn the wheel, it's difficult to predict Exactly what will happen in the next instant in a chaotic system.
It's not call Global Weather Change though.. is it?
It's called Global CLIMATE change.
Weather is not Climate. It's vitally important that you understand this so I'll harp on this a bit. Bear with me please.
Last Winter, it was brutally cold over most of North America. Conservatives predictably proclaimed Global Warming debunked because it was 15 below in the mid-west. But what about the other side of the planet? At the same time it was 15 below in North America, it was 60 degrees F at the same Latitude in Russia.
From the limited perspective of looking out a mid-west window, it sure looked like the climate was getting colder last winter but all you had to do to understand how faulty the perspective was to turn on the TV and watch people walking around in Shorts at the Winter Olympics.
We have a solid record of GLOBAL temperatures. We know that the planet has begun to warm precipitously since the start of the Industrial Revolution. It doesn't go up every year, sometimes the average temperature of the planet recedes for a year or two but the overall progress over decades.. over a century and a half.. has been upward.
Here's what we know...
* The average global temperature Has been going up since we started releasing large amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere in the mid-1800s.
* several of the hottest average years on record have been in the past decade.
* Urban heat islands.. we've understood the phenomenon for almost a century.. we adjust for that in the data.
* C02.. Physicists have understood why it's Greenhouse gas and how it works as such for nearly Two hundred years. Seriously. The science is that settled.
You can prove it for yourself with a couple bottles, thermometers, a heat lamp and some bi-carbonate antacid tabs if you really wanted to.. the science is really that simple.
* It's OUR CO2 in the upper atmosphere. We know there's more Co2 in the upper atmosphere, we know how it affects the climate, and we know we put it there because it's isotope ratios match that of the carbon that was formerly locked away in fossil fuels.
* It's not the sun.
.. I could go on and on.
There's literally hundreds of years of solid evidence for Climate change. More than you can imagine. The science behind it is solid.
Further, to hold your position you have to argue that tens of thousands of Climate Scientists who have spent their lives becoming experts in this field have all successfully conspired to carry on an elaborate hoax without anyone giving up the secret. Have you ever known 10 people to keep a secret? Tens of thousands of Climate Scientists have though? For Decades?
Of course, you can ignore all the science and just believe that God wouldn't allow such a thing.
Let me re-cast your argument for you though.
"Not only has God taken great care of us and the planet that we live on".. he'd never allow plagues to happen that wipe out half of the population of a content, nor would he allow huge swaths of Australia burn year after year as it suffers through heat-induced droughts. He'd never allow a lake as large Erie to become so polluted that it's tributaries would catch on fire. He'd never allow for nuclear melt-downs that de-populated hundreds of square miles in Russia.. because he takes great care of us and the planet. Right? World Wars? Cataclysms like volcanos? Nope.. they don't happen because God takes care of us and the planet.
Maybe there's a god, maybe there isn't. If there is a Christian god though.. you should re-read your scriptures to see what he's capable of allowing. Not only did he give us free-will, he's demanded genocide of his followers in the past. We've proven we have the ability to destroy our environment over and over. That's undeniable. He hasn't stopped us before, he's not stopping us now.
Clinton and Narcan
Hey Adam,
First time writing you. I love your show (and John too). I did a little follow up on Adapt Pharma and found the following (maybe you've already seen it). Interesting (and quite scary when you read below) that there is a Clinton Foundation connection -- especially with the point you made about the agenda behind the Narcan and John's note about how it's being promoted extensively and "scammish". There is a partnership with state departments of education. :-/
The following is an excerpt from an Adapt Pharma press release from February 2016. http://adaptpharma.com/news-events/press-kit/
On January 25, 2016, Adapt Pharma announced a partnership with the Clinton Health Matters Initiative, an initiative of the Clinton Foundation, as part of its work to scale naloxone access efforts nationally. Through this partnership and in close collaboration with state departments of education, Adapt Pharma will offer a free carton of NARCAN® Nasal Spray to all high schools in the United States.
NARCAN® Nasal Spray is available for public interest pricing through U.S. Communities Cooperative Purchasing Program, an organization providing products at a discounted price to local and state government agencies, school districts (K-12), higher education institutions, and nonprofits. Through this cooperative, NARCAN® Nasal Spray is available at $75 per dual-pack ($37.50 per dose).1
Pier Stith
Narcan doesn't help Drug Abusers
Hi Adam,
My name is Jim and I’m a Ex-hardcore drug user. And a former pharmacy technician (a brilliant vocational choice BTW).
I have not shot heroin in over 10 years. I have had one misadventure with orally taking a relatively low dose (for me) of prescription opioids. I may have been clinically dead, I never got a straight answer about that.I don’t even remember ingesting the pills but I recall the horror of waking up in a hospital with a rubber tube in my penis as I saw Obama getting sworn in on TV. Suffice to say I stick to Kratom now (THEY WANNA BAN KRATOM BAD, but I digress.)
I never had NARCAN spray. I did have precipitated withdrawls (INSTANT DETOX) from simply taking a Suboxone while I still had oxycodone in my system. The wave of sickness that incapacitated was so nasty that I wouldn’t wish that rapid detox or the slow detox I had in jail on anyone. To suggest that Narcan will promote new heroin use is flawed logic. Here’s why:
-Junkies like me typically don’t care about consequences much anyway
-Junkies simultaneously want to avoid police and arrest.
-Junkies never want to be dope-sick.
If my buddy had Narcan onhand and said “Don’t worry if it you do too much, I’ll spray your nose if you O.D. I got you covered” , that wouldn’t give me much comfort, personally. Then again, I rarely used needles. Very rarely. Narcan costs money that is going to help keep BigPharma rich. Junkies aren’t going to waste their money on it. Death from Over-Dose is sometimes desirable to the slow suicide of being a smackhead.
I would never put my safety or health in the life in the hands of a police officer.
Narcan would cause a physically dependent Heroin addict to survive yet be really fucking pissed off that they were alive, as they would feel AWFUL. If you know any doctors who spent time in a E.R., you can hear of angry junkies who are angry that their high was stolen from them and that they are still alive. We are a very grumpy bunch in that state of mind.
So I have to disagree with your hidden-agenda thesis. The agenda is money money money. If an addict dies, there will always be another to take his or her or zer/zheir place. A cousin of a friend turned purple and blue in front of her by the time she heard there was an emergency next door. Paramedics had already been dispatched. If I was still around a lot of addicts I’d feel morally or ethically liable to have Narcan onhand, even at $50 a pop or whatever the current obscene OTC price is. Which is what my East Coast friend immediately did after that close call.
As for why I overdosed and nearly died: REHAB! I got clean in rehab because I had no choice at the time. When the opportunity to get high again presented itself via large amounts of oxycodone tablets and methadone tablets presented itself, I took my “usual” dose 11 months after the last time I needed monster quantities to feel good. This means of accidental overdose is very common. Rehab kills. I’m serious. Look up the success rates.
You enlarged my amygdala with that rhetoric about Narcan. The crime is in the cost of the stuff, and the cost of Suboxone, even after going generic.
The other crime is the FDA/DEA attempt to ban Kratom. Kratom is by far the safest source of psychoactive chemicals I have ever had. It’s actually heart healthy and it regulates blood sugar. And the buzz is mild and not a Dragon I have to chase. It is my only source of pain relief for a bad back and Sciatica that would make a reasonable person consider putting a bullet in their head. My doctors don’t even know my past and I still can’t get narcotic painkillers. It does not cause respiratory depression or death even at insane doses that would fill my stomach. The LD50 is as high as Cannabis…roughly in that ballpark. If the plant gets banned Federally, more people will switch to Heroin because Heroin does not require a script or insurance to obtain.
I am of the mind to promote Harm Reduction, and needle exchanges (A means to curb the spreading of Hep C and HIV) and Narcan are 2 reasonable means of Harm-Reduction. But I DO believe that all the news stories about the Opioid Epidemic are native advertising for Heroin.
Jim P.
Naloxone in NYC
Thu, 29 Jun 2017 11:38
[Espa±ol]Find NaloxoneNaloxone is a medication that reverses overdoses from opioids such as heroin and prescription painkillers. New Yorkers can get this life-saving medication without prescription at certain community-based organizations and participating pharmacies including Duane Reade, Walgreens, Rite Aid and CVS.
Use the NYC Health Map to find a participating pharmacy near you, or download a list (PDF).
To access free naloxone, contact any of these community-based programs (PDF).
Naloxone is available to anyone who is at risk of opioid overdose '-- or knows someone who is. Opioids include prescription painkillers and heroin. Both can put people at risk of overdose. Learn more about how to prevent overdose.
Naloxone Quick FactsSafe medication that reverses opioid overdoseHas no effects on alcohol or other drugsTakes 2-5 minutes to start workingMay require more than one doseStays in the system for 30-90 minutesMay cause withdrawal (e.g., chills, nausea, vomiting, agitation, muscle aches) until the naloxone wears offHow to use NaloxoneNaloxone can be given as a nasal spray or as an intramuscular injection. There are currently two products available for each method:
Make sure you know how to use your naloxone product so that you are prepared to respond during an overdose event. Watch Prevent an Overdose [Espa±ol] [Русский], a helpful video on how to administer intranasal and intramuscular naloxone.
IMPORTANT: Tell others where your naloxone is stored and how to use it.
Naloxone Campaign ResourcesEach day in NYC, about 3 people die from a drug overdose. "I saved my..." (PDF) [Le Salv(C) la vida a mi...] is the citywide campaign to show New Yorkers that they can help save lives by learning about overdose prevention, and by carrying and using naloxone.
New York City also has a mobile app, Stop OD NYC, which shows you how to recognize and prevent opioid overdoses, and where to find naloxone near you.
Additional Resources
As Cost Of Opioid Epidemic Rises, One City May Consider Not Reviving Addicts Who Repeatedly Overdose '' Consumerist
Tue, 27 Jun 2017 12:53
With opioid painkiller and heroin use exploding to the point where police officers, firefighters, and even librarians are carrying (and using) Narcan, an emergency treatment that can revive someone who has overdosed. While the drug is saving lives, it's not free, and one Ohio city is being asked to consider whether it has to use Narcan on people who repeatedly overdose.
The city of Middletown, OH, located between Cincinnati and Dayton, says it will likely spend $100,000 this year for Narcan. That's ten times what it had originally budgeted for the drug. The number of overdoses in Middletown during the first half of 2017 has already surpassed the total from all of 2016, notes WLWT-TV.
The Journal-News of Dayton reports that one city council member wants to know if city emergency responders have a legal requirement to use Narcan to revive every person who overdoses.
The councilman has proposed that the city consider taking a three strikes approach to treating overdose patients; that people who OD more than a few times no longer receive Narcan.
''If the dispatcher determines that the person who's overdosed is someone who's been part of the program for two previous overdoses and has not completed the community service and has not cooperated in the program, then we wouldn't dispatch,'' the councilman explained to WLWT.
''I want to send a message to the world that you don't want to come to Middletown to overdose because someone might not come with Narcan and save your life,'' he told the Journal-New. ''We need to put a fear about overdosing in Middletown.''
He explained, according to the paper, that EMTs don't provide cancer patients with chemotherapy or perform heart transplants on people dying of a heart attack. Of course, those aren't apples to apples comparisons. They're more like comparing apples to turkey.
Of course an EMT wouldn't provide chemotherapy, as it's not an emergency treatment. But if a cancer patient were to experience seizures or some other related medical emergency, an EMT would step in. Similarly, no EMT is going to replace your failing heart, but they will try to keep it beating until you get to a hospital.
The head of the Middletown Fire Department says his people will continue to respond to calls and provide treatment as they have sworn to do. He also expressed concern that picking and choosing who merits treatment could open up the city to liability.
The city manager says he believes that emergency responders are required to treat whatever conditions they encounter when arriving at the scene. The only way to avoid this obligation for the city would be to privatize or eliminate EMT services.
Fire At CIA Headquarters Ruled Accidental
Thu, 29 Jun 2017 00:07
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A fire at CIA headquarters that prompted the evacuation of the building where the spy agency's top officials have offices was accidental and caused about $100,000 worth of damage, a fire department spokesman said on Wednesday. "The fire was ruled accidental,'' said Lt. Lorenzo Thrower, spokesman for the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department in Virginia. The fire, detected about 5:45 p.m. EDT on Tuesday, was contained in about 30 minutes, authorities said. It started when hot material from a torch that workers were using to do repairs on the top floor of the building fell through the ventilation system into a small utility closet where combustible wooden shelves caught on fire, Thrower said. "There were enough flames where it created an enormous amount of smoke throughout the building,'' especially because it traveled through the ventilation system, he said. Twelve CIA employees were treated at the scene for smoke inhalation, Thrower said. Two others and one firefighter were taken to the hospital for treatment, he said. CIA Director George Tenet was not inside the building at the time of the fire. The CIA's 24-hour operations center, which keeps in touch with the agency's overseas offices and gathers information on developments around the globe of national security concern, was operating from a temporary site on the sprawling CIA compound in suburban Langley, Virginia, CIA spokesman Mark Mansfield said. The President's Daily Brief, which the CIA delivers early in the morning to the president and a small group of high-level government officials, was dispatched as usual, he said. Only "essential'' employees were required to come to work on Wednesday, but everyone was expected to be back at work on Thursday, Mansfield said.
Fire damages CIA headquarters and reveals a gigantic drug lab '' World News Daily Report
Thu, 29 Jun 2017 00:05
Langley, Virginia | A major explosion occurred last night at the headquarters of the Central Intelligence Agency, igniting a fire which almost completely destroyed an annex of the building and led to the discovery of a suspected drug lab.The detonation took place around 11:30 pm last night. The powerful blast was heard for miles around the complex and sent plumes of black smoke into the air.
The firefighters of the Langley City Fire-Rescue were rapidly mobilized on the site, where they fought the fire for almost six hours before they were finally able to extinguish the flames.
While inspecting the building to secure the area, they found large quantities of chemicals and over-the-counter medications that are used to make meth and fentanyl.
The firefighters transmitted the information to the Fairfax County Sheriff's Office (FCSO), which dispatched dozens of deputies and investigators on the scene.
After conducting a search of the western wing of the George Bush Center for Intelligence, they found more than 2 tons of pure pseudoephedrine, as well as large quantities of acetone, iodine crystals, battery acid, drain cleaner, lantern fuel and antifreeze.
''The various chemicals found on the scene are either used to produce methamphetamine or fentanyl, and we also found a lot of drugs,'' said FCSO spokesman, Jared Matters. ''We also found large quantities of these two drugs in a nearby storage room that was spared by the fire.''The Fairfax County Sheriff's Office confirmed it had opened an investigation to determine if the site was an illegal drug lab and if the fire was caused by an illegal activity.
More than 5 tons of drugs and 45 tons of chemicals were seized in the building which some deputies have described as an ''industrial-scale drug lab''.
This is not the first time that the CIA is accused of manufacturing and trafficking illegal drugs.
While the CIA was sponsoring a Secret War in Laos from 1961 to 1975, it was accused of trafficking in opium. The CIA made its own internal inquiries of its staff and clients in Laos concerning the drug trade and admitted that small amounts of opium had been smuggled via their contract aircraft.
Several local, state, and federal investigations have also taken place concerning the alleged use of the Mena Intermountain Municipal Airport as a CIA drop point in large scale cocaine trafficking beginning in the early 1980s.
This is the first time, however, that drugs are seized on an official CIA installation, and the incident could have some very serious consequences for the organization which is already at odds with the new American President.
Neither the White House or the CIA, have officially reacted yet, but many analysts expect Donald Trump to use this investigation as a pretext to cut the agency's funding.
I'm Glad the Dyke March Banned Jewish Stars - The New York Times
Thu, 29 Jun 2017 12:21
Intersectionality is the big idea of today's progressive left. In theory, it's the benign notion that every form of social oppression is linked to every other social oppression. This observation '-- coined in 1989 by Kimberl(C) Williams Crenshaw '-- sounds like just another way of rephrasing a slogan from a poster I had in college: My liberation is bound up with yours. That is, the fight for women's rights is tied up with the fight for gay rights and civil rights and so forth. Who would dissent from the seductive notion of a global sisterhood?
Well, in practice, intersectionality functions as kind of caste system, in which people are judged according to how much their particular caste has suffered throughout history. Victimhood, in the intersectional way of seeing the world, is akin to sainthood; power and privilege are profane.
By that hierarchy, you might imagine that the Jewish people '-- enduring yet another wave of anti-Semitism here and abroad '-- should be registered as victims. Not quite.
Why? Largely because of Israel, the Jewish state, which today's progressives see only as a vehicle for oppression of the Palestinians '-- no matter that Israel has repeatedly sought to meet Palestinian claims with peaceful compromise, and no matter that progressives hold no other country to the same standard. China may brutalize Buddhists in Tibet and Muslims in Xinjiang, while denying basic rights to the rest of its 1.3 billion citizens, but ''woke'' activists pushing intersectionality keep mum on all that.
One of the women who was asked to leave the Dyke March, Eleanor Shoshany Anderson, couldn't understand why she was kicked out of an event that billed itself as intersectional. ''The Dyke March is supposed to be intersectional,'' she said. ''I don't know why my identity is excluded from that. I felt that, as a Jew, I am not welcome here.''
She isn't. Because though intersectionality cloaks itself in the garb of humanism, it takes a Manichaean view of life in which there can only be oppressors and oppressed. To be a Jewish dyke, let alone one who deigns to support Israel, is a categorical impossibility, oppressor and oppressed in the same person.
That's why the march organizers and their sympathizers are now trying to smear Ms. Grauer as some sort of right-wing provocateur. Their evidence: She works at an organization called A Wider Bridge, which connects the L.G.B.T.Q. Jewish community in America with the L.G.B.T.Q. community in Israel. The organizers are also making the spurious claim that the Jewish star is necessarily a symbol of Zionist oppression '-- a breathtaking claim to anyone who has ever seen a picture of a Jew forced to wear a yellow one under the Nazis.
No, the truth is that it was no more and no less than anti-Semitism. Just read Ms. Shoshany Anderson's account of her experience, which she posted on Facebook after being kicked out of the march.
''I wanted to be in public as a gay Jew of Persian and German heritage. Nothing more, nothing less. So I made a shirt that said 'Proud Jewish Dyke' and hoisted a big Jewish Pride flag '-- a rainbow flag with a Star of David in the center, the centuries-old symbol of the Jewish people,'' she wrote. ''During the picnic in the park, organizers in their official t-shirts began whispering and pointing at me and soon, a delegation came over, announcing they'd been sent by the organizers. They told me my choices were to roll up my Jewish Pride flag or leave. The Star of David makes it look too much like the Israeli flag, they said, and it triggers people and makes them feel unsafe. This was their complaint.''
She tried to explain that the star is the ''ubiquitous symbol of Judaism,'' and that she simply wanted ''to be Jewish in public.'' Then, she ''tried using their language,'' explaining ''this is my intersection. I'm supposed to be able to celebrate it here.''
It didn't work. Ms. Shoshany Anderson left sobbing. ''I was thrown out of Dyke March for being Jewish,'' she said. Just so.
For progressive American Jews, intersectionality forces a choice: Which side of your identity do you keep, and which side do you discard and revile? Do you side with the oppressed or with the oppressor?
That kind of choice would have been familiar to previous generations of left-wing Jews, particularly those in Europe, who felt the tug between their ethnic heritage and their ''internationalist'' ideological sympathies. But this is the United States. Here, progressives are supposed to be comfortable with the idea of hyphenated identities and overlapping ethnic, sexual and political affinities. Since when did a politics that celebrates choice '-- and choices '-- devolve into a requirement of being forced to choose?
Jews on the left, particularly in recent years, have attempted to square this growing discomfort by becoming more anti-Israel. But if history has taught the Jews anything it's that this kind of contortion never ends well.
It may be wrong to read too much into an ugly incident at a single march, but Jews should take what happened in Chicago as a lesson that they might not be as welcome among progressives as they might imagine. That's a warning for which to be grateful, even as it is a reminder that anti-Semitism remains as much a problem on the far-left as it is on the alt-right.
Continue reading the main story
Female Democratic senators ignore 2 women activists at hearing on Islamism, pose questions only to male witness '' Women in the World in Association with The New York Times '' WITW
Sun, 25 Jun 2017 21:54
On Wednesday, Democratic senators appeared to ignore Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Asra Nomani after they gave brief testimonies on the ideology of Islamism at a U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs hearing, sparking a social media outcry.
It was the first time a Senate hearing was devoted to discussing the ideas motivating both violent and nonviolent Islamist movements around the world, but, through a strategy of deflection and demonization, the Democratic senators '-- mostly women '-- ignored the scholarly and lived expertise of Hirsi Ali and Nomani.
Viewers in the Twittersphere took immediate notice as they watched the live stream on C-SPAN.
The hearing came on the heels of brutal attacks in London, Manchester, Kabul and Tehran by Muslim extremists.
Tensions were high even before the hearing began. A Muslim man wearing a prayer cap attempted to disrupt the event by yelling at Hirsi Ali, an ex-Muslim and Somali-born human rights activist, a witness who was in the room said.
The contentious atmosphere carried on to the committee members themselves as Democratic committee leader, Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri, expressed her disagreement with the premise of the hearing, called by Republican Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin.
''Anyone who twists or distorts religion to a place of evil is an exception to the rule,'' she said. ''We should not focus on religion.'' McCaskill proceeded to lecture the panelists on ''freedom of religion'' in the United States.
''No evil should ever be allowed to distort these premises,'' she continued. ''I'm worried, honestly, that this hearing will underline that.''
Hirsi Ali, who was the first witness to speak, stated clearly that her testimony and evidence was focused solely on the threat of Islamism as a social-political totalitarian ideology.
''The part [of Islam] that is a political doctrine consists of a worldview, a system of laws, and a moral code that is totally incompatible with our constitution, our laws, and our way of life,'' she testified.
Nomani, a former Wall Street Journal reporter and Women in the World contributor, echoed Hirsi Ali. ''The ideology of Islamism contradicts the constitutional values of this country,'' she said. ''The elements of Islamism are very clear.''
However, Michael Leiter, the former director of the U.S. Counterterrorism Center, rejected the core of Hirsi Ali and Nomani's testimonies. ''Muslims honoring of sharia is not inherently in tangent with living in constitutional democracies anymore than it would be for Christians or Jews who also seek to honor their religious traditions while still complying with civil authority,'' he said.
Leiter was invited to testify by the committee's Senate Democrats.
''Muslims are not synonymous with terrorism or repression or misogyny,'' Hirsi Ali later emphasized. ''What we're dealing with is this other group who are taking out of context the historical and civilizational Islam, and accentuating the political and military [dimensions].''
Hirsi Ali indirectly responded to McCaskill's statement that the hearing was a threat to religious freedom.
''We haven't paid as much attention to those people who get into the hearts and minds of vulnerable people and turn them toward the idea that it's OK to run your car over people, to kill homosexuals, to kill apostates,'' Hirsi Ali said. ''I came and accepted [Ron Johnson's] invitation to only talk about that group, not to vilify or stigmatize those Muslims who accentuate their spirituality.''
Hirsi Ali emphasized that the fight against Islamism must involve dismantling the networks of da'wa, or Islamist proselytism, in the United States and abroad.
''We must stop not only the violent entities like ISIS, al-Qaeda, Boko Haram and others,'' she warned. ''Above all, we must challenge the principles of sharia.''
Nomani later shared a narrative of how she and Hirsi Ali have been personally affected by violent Islamism.
''Our hearts are indeed gripped with the horror of this morning's shooting,'' Nomani said, referring to the targeted shooting of Republican lawmakers in a Washington, D.C., suburb a few hours earlier.
''This day takes me back to a day 15 years ago when I felt the same gripping of my heart,'' she said. ''I learned that day that my colleague and friend Danny Pearl had been kidnapped.''
Pearl was a journalist with the Wall Street Journal who was kidnapped and beheaded by jihadist militants in Pakistan shortly after leaving Nomani's rented home in 2002.
''Ayaan lost a friend, I lost a friend,'' Nomani said. In 2004, filmmaker Theo Van Gogh was shot and killed by a violent Islamist on the streets of Amsterdam after directing a short film with Hirsi Ali that was critical of women's rights in Islam.
''There was one value that connected the 27 men involved in Danny's kidnapping and murder,'' Nomani testified. ''They had all absorbed the da'wa, the evangelism, of an ideological interpretation of Islam.''
In the days and hours before the hearing, both Nomani and Hirsi Ali were targeted in social media campaigns and news articles that attacked their character.
Jordan Denari Duffner, a researcher at the Bridge Initiative, a project of the Saudi-funded Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University, criticized the ''anti-Muslim voices'' that have ''co-opted'' Islamic terms.
''We also face a network I call the 'honor brigade' that wants to silence this conversation,'' Nomani said. ''Ayaan and I are under attack constantly. Between us, I don't know how many death threats we have faced.''
When the witnesses completed their brief testimonies, Democratic Senate committee members, including four women senators '-- McCaskill, Senator Kamala Harris, Senator Maggie Hassan and Senator Heidi Heitkamp '-- ignored Hirsi Ali and Nomani during the question-and-answer session, never once directing a question to them '-- about half the duration of the entire hearing.
Most questions were about terrorism and security, not Islamist ideology, directed at Leiter for most of the hearing by Senate Democrats. Leiter recommended Islamic education programs done in conjunction with Muslim organizations for state and local officials as a counter-extremism strategy.
At one point, when Nomani shared examples of violent preachings on ''women beating'' she had received through Amazon, McCaskill turned the conversation to book banning.
Democratic Senator Gary Peters later criticized the ''anti-Islamic sentiment'' in some of the written testimonies.
''I became concerned about a recurrent theme of anti-Islamic sentiment,'' Peters stated. ''The perpetuation of anti-Islamic attitudes undermine our collective values and it contributes to the undercurrent of xenophobia.''
Senator Johnson pushed back on his colleague's accusation.
''I think the witnesses were very careful to distinguish between Muslims who practice their faith peacefully as opposed to political Islamists,'' Johnson said. ''They are bending over backwards to make that distinction.''
Viewers also responded, one of them referring to the fact that Hirsi Ali is a victim of female genital mutilation.
The hearing was adjourned after almost two hours. Video of the hearing as well as the written testimonies can be accessed at the U.S. Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee website. Because of the strategy of deflection by Democratic senators, Hirsi Ali and Nomani spoke for about 15 minutes combined.
Andy Ngo is a graduate student in political science at Portland State University, specializing in Islamist political movements and their intersection with women's issues. Follow him on Twitter here.
What the fatwa? 2 women activists testify on Capitol Hill about the extremist ideology 'within the House of Islam'
Ayaan Hirsi Ali says controversial Women's March organizer is a 'fake feminist'
Asra Nomani explores a hostile phenomenon she calls 'hijab shaming'
They Brushed Off Kamala Harris. Then She Brushed Us Off. - NYTimes.com
Sun, 25 Jun 2017 21:53
Last week, Senator Kamala Harris, a Democrat from California, made headlines when Republican senators interrupted her at a hearing of the Senate Intelligence Committee while she interrogated Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The clip of the exchange went viral; journalists, politicians and everyday Americans debated what the shushing signified about our still sexist culture.
The very next day, Senator Harris took her seat in front of us as a member of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. We were there to testify about the ideology of political Islam, or Islamism.
Both of us were on edge. Earlier that day, across the Potomac River, a man had shot a Republican lawmaker and others on a baseball diamond in Alexandria, Va. And just moments before the hearing began, a man wearing a Muslim prayer cap had stood up and heckled us, putting Capitol police officers on high alert. We were girding ourselves for tough questions.
But they never came. The Democrats on the panel, including Senator Harris and three other Democratic female senators '-- North Dakota's Heidi Heitkamp, New Hampshire's Maggie Hassan and Missouri's Claire McCaskill '-- did not ask either of us a single question.
This wasn't a case of benign neglect. At one point, Senator McCaskill said that she took issue with the theme of the hearing itself. ''Anyone who twists or distorts religion to a place of evil is an exception to the rule,'' she said. ''We should not focus on religion,'' she said, adding that she was ''worried'' that the hearing, organized by Senator Ron Johnson, a Republican from Wisconsin, would ''underline that.'' In the end, the only questions asked of us about Islamist ideologies came from Senator Johnson and his Republican colleague, Senator Steve Daines from Montana.
Just as we are invisible to the mullahs at the mosque, we were invisible to the Democratic women in the Senate.
How to explain this experience? Perhaps Senators Heitkamp, Harris, Hassan and McCaskill are simply uninterested in sexism and misogyny. But obviously, given their outspoken support of critical women's issues, such as the kidnapping of girls in Nigeria and campus sexual assault, that's far from the case.
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No, what happened that day was emblematic of a deeply troubling trend among progressives when it comes to confronting the brutal reality of Islamist extremism and what it means for women in many Muslim communities here at home and around the world. When it comes to the pay gap, abortion access and workplace discrimination, progressives have much to say. But we're still waiting for a march against honor killings, child marriages, polygamy, sex slavery or female genital mutilation.
Sitting before the senators that day were two women of color: Ayaan is from Somalia; Asra is from India. Both of us were born into deeply conservative Muslim families. Ayaan is a survivor of female genital mutilation and forced marriage. Asra defied Shariah by having a baby while unmarried. And we have both been threatened with death by jihadists for things we have said and done. Ayaan cannot appear in public without armed guards.
In other words, when we speak about Islamist oppression, we bring personal experience to the table in addition to our scholarly expertise. Yet the feminist mantra so popular when it comes to victims of sexual assault '-- believe women first '-- isn't extended to us. Neither is the notion that the personal is political. Our political conclusions are dismissed as personal; our personal experiences dismissed as political.
That's because in the rubric of identity politics, our status as women of color is canceled out by our ideas, which are labeled ''conservative'' '-- as if opposition to violent jihad, sex slavery, genital mutilation or child marriage were a matter of left or right. This not only silences us, it also puts beyond the pale of liberalism a basic concern for human rights and the individual rights of women abused in the name of Islam.
There is a real discomfort among progressives on the left with calling out Islamic extremism. Partly they fear offending members of a ''minority'' religion and being labeled racist, bigoted or Islamophobic. There is also the idea, which has tremendous strength on the left, that non-Western women don't need ''saving'' '-- and that the suggestion that they do is patronizing at best. After all, the thinking goes, if women in America still earn less than men for equivalent work, who are we to criticize other cultures?
This is extreme moral relativism disguised as cultural sensitivity. And it leads good people to make excuses for the inexcusable. The silence of the Democratic senators is a reflection of contemporary cultural pressures. Call it identity politics, moral relativism or political correctness '-- it is shortsighted, dangerous and, ultimately, a betrayal of liberal values.
The hard truth is that there are fundamental conflicts between universal human rights and the principle of Shariah, or Islamic law, which holds that a woman's testimony is worth half that of a man's; between freedom of religion and the Islamist idea that artists, writers, poets and bloggers should be subject to blasphemy laws; between secular governance and the Islamist goal of a caliphate; between United States law and Islamist promotion of polygamy, child marriage and marital rape; and between freedom of thought and the methods of indoctrination, or dawa, with which Islamists propagate their ideas.
Defending universal principles against Islamist ideology, not denying that these conflicts exist, is surely the first step in a fight whose natural leaders in Washington should be women like Kamala Harris and Claire McCaskill '-- both outspoken advocates for American women.
We believe feminism is for everyone. Our goals '-- not least the equality of the sexes '-- are deeply liberal. We know these are values that the Democratic senators at our hearing share. Will they find their voices and join us in opposing Islamist extremism and its war on women?
California bans state travel to Texas, Alabama, Kentucky | The Sacramento Bee
Mon, 26 Jun 2017 04:07
California is restricting publicly funded travel to four more states because of recent laws that leaders here view as discriminatory against gay and transgender people.
All totaled, California now bans most state-funded travel to eight states.
The new additions to California's restricted travel list are Texas, Alabama, Kentucky and South Dakota.
They join Kansas, Mississippi, North Carolina and Tennessee as states already subjected to the ban.
California Attorney Xavier Becerra announced the new states at a Thursday press conference, where he was joined by representatives from ACLU Northern California and Equality California.
''We will not spend taxpayer dollars in states that discriminate,'' Becerra said.
California's Legislature last year voted to restrict state-funded travel to states with laws that allow businesses to deny services to gay and transgender people.
California's law gained attention after North Carolina enacted its so-called ''bathroom bill,'' which prevented local governments from adopting anti-discrimination ordinances and required that people using bathrooms in public buildings choose the restroom that corresponds to their gender at birth.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott this month signed a law that allows child welfare providers to deny services because of ''sincerely held religious beliefs,'' a provision that critics interpreted as permitting adoption agencies to deny services to gay families.
Alabama and South Dakota were added to California's listed of banned states because of similar adoption-related laws. The California Department of Justice said Kentucky's Senate Bill 17 allows student-run organizations in schools to discriminate against classmates.
The California law includes exemptions for law enforcement officers, tax auditors and training events that are required for grants. California's tax-collecting Board of Equalization has an office in Houston.
Obama's National Security Advisor Susan Rice Says GOP Is Targeting Her Because She's Black And A Woman | Daily Wire
Thu, 29 Jun 2017 00:04
Former National Security Advisor Susan Rice says Republicans criticize her harshly because she's black and female.
Rice famously went on five Sunday talk shows and blamed the September 11, 2012, terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya '-- which left four Americans including the U.S. ambassador dead '-- on a YouTube video. Of course, top administration officials knew almost immediately that the attack was terrorism, but with the presidential election just two months in the future, then-president Barack Obama led a campaign of disinformation (read: lies) to distract from the scandal.
The fact that Rice wonders why President Trump and Republicans are targeting her is mind-boggling. As NSA advisor, Rice also reportedly sought names of Trump-transition officials who had come up in surveillance of foreign agents.
But to her, it must be racism and sexism.
''I've spent a lot of time thinking about this. What do you think? ... I do not leap to the simple explanation that it's only about race and gender. I'm trying to keep my theories to myself until I'm ready to come out with them. It's not because I don't have any.''
So it's not "only" about her race and sex, but that's at least part of it, she says. And she's not ready to "come out" with the rest of her theories yet, but she did just want to throw that racism and sexism thing out there.
Rice also wishes other people instead of her were the targets of Republican ire.
''Why me? Why not Jay Carney, for example, who was then our press secretary, who stood up more?'' she asked.
Um, because he was a mouthpiece for the administration, a lackey paid to spout the White House line; Rice was a fully vested player, making real decisions (and, sometimes, in the case of Benghazi, lying about them).
Rice's quotes were part of a praise-filled profile in New York Magazine in which Rice implies that Trump's decision to roll back the Obama administration's huge policy "successes" '-- the pointless Paris Climate Accord, the easing of sanctions against communist Cuba, the horrible Iranian nuclear deal '-- are all intended as personal attacks on her (humble much?).
The racism and sexism charges fit with the talking points from the Left. In April, MSNBC host Chris Matthews and Mother Jones editor David Corn said all the hubbub is because she's black and female.
''Did she do something wrong? There is no information indicating that," Corn said. "So they are making her, you know, basically they're defaming her without any reason to do so because she's a woman. Maybe because she's a black woman. Maybe because they didn't like her during Benghazi."
Said Matthews: ''Notice it's always a female? Just a thought."
But at least Rice is enjoying the good life, reports Axios. Rice had been "vacationing in the Maldives for two and a half weeks, playing lots of tennis, doing some writing and speaking," the D.C. website said.
Follow @JosephCurl on Twitter. Email [email protected]
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Seattle's Minimum-Wage Rise May Have Pushed Down Workers' Hours, Study Finds - Real Time Economics - WSJ
Thu, 29 Jun 2017 00:19
A study commissioned by the city of Seattle finds recent increases in the metro area's minimum wage may have backfired, reducing the pay of workers because their hours were cut by employers in response to the requirement their hourly pay rise. The Seattle Minimum Wage Study, funded in part by the city and conducted by ['...]
War on Weed
Producer at CBC
ITM - (please do not use my name should you share this story)
The comedic irony of the clip from Sunday’s show where you guys had us cracking up about the CBC looking to “reached out to those people” that had used marijuana, is FANTASTIC!
I worked at CBC for just over 3 years and there wasn’t a week that passed where you’d get on an elevator and someone in there would REEK OF WEED!
Apparently the tech guys had a secret place on the roof where they’d blaze up. As a result this would mean they’d be first in the elevator coming down from the top of the building. So by the time the elevator had filled up with people down to the ground floor the thing was a virtual 2nd-hand hotbox with everyone smelling like they’d just left Snoop’s basement.
The further amazing-ness was with the union being such as it is at the CBC, NO ONE WOULD SAY A WORD. Manager/execs knew that there was no point calling out an employee on their obvious toking as the union would fight tooth and nail and there would be no ramifications for getting high on the job.
Adam’s quote of “look to your neighbor in the next cubicle” COULDN’T BE CLOSER TO THE TRUTH.
GOP Healthcare Bill Will Lead To Deaths Of 216,900 Americans By 2026, According To Study | IFLScience
Tue, 27 Jun 2017 12:23
The Republican-authored Senate version of the American Health Care Act (AHCA) is out, and it's received even more backlash than the original. As wheelchair-bound protestors were removed from outside Mitch McConnell's office, Democrats, a large swath of the public, and the country's top medical professionals made their protestations clear.
Already, before any detailed analysis of the Senate's Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA) has been done, it's clear that it's more severe than the House's original, and millions of people will lose their health insurance. Consequently, people will die '' it's now a grim question of how many.
According to a brand-new assessment by the Center for American Progress (CAP), a progressive public policy research organization, it is 216,900. These fatalities will be a direct result of 23 million people losing their health coverage by 2026.
Two caveats: firstly, this value is based off an independent Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analysis of the AHCA, not the BCRA; secondly, these values may be a slight overestimate '' the CAP is a fact-driven but left-leaning agency. Nevertheless, the BCRA is looking to be even harsher than the AHCA, and previous estimates of AHCA-linked mortality seem to back up this truly disgraceful statistic.
Back in 2009 when the Affordable Care Act (ACA) '' better known as Obamacare '' was proposed, a powerful lie was spread by some of its most high-profile Republican opponents: that it would result in the formation of ''death panels'', where bureaucrats would decide whether people who were sick or disabled should be worthy of healthcare.
There's no truth to it whatsoever, as was made clear by the hundreds of hearings and debates about the ACA, along with the hundreds of independent assessments of the bill. Politifact deemed the ''death panel'' notion the Lie of the Year 2009.
Fast-forward to 2017, where the BCRA has emerged all of a sudden without a single public hearing or debate about it. There has been no consultation, no reaching across the aisle. It's due to be voted on at the start of July, meaning that there's no chance it will get a proper reading beforehand.
However, even just a quick read through reveals that it's nothing short of cruel. Our summary of the bill can be read here, but in short, it gives billions to the wealthy, and robs the poor, sick, disabled, young, and elderly of their healthcare. These people all rely on the ACA not just to keep healthy, but to literally stay alive.
So if the CAP's estimates are correct, or even close to being correct, then it seems that there are death panels after all. In this instance, they're the GOP Senators that are signing off on the BCRA.
Syria: Trump's Red Line - WELT
Sun, 25 Jun 2017 21:51
Von Seymour M. Hersh | Stand: 12:41 Uhr | Lesedauer: 24 Minuten
President Donald Trump ignored important intelligence reports when he decided to attack Syria after he saw pictures of dying children. Seymour M. Hersh investigated the case of the alleged Sarin gas attack.
O n April 6, United States President Donald Trump authorized an early morning Tomahawk missile strike on Shayrat Air Base in central Syria in retaliation for what he said was a deadly nerve agent attack carried out by the Syrian government two days earlier in the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun. Trump issued the order despite having been warned by the U.S. intelligence community that it had found no evidence that the Syrians had used a chemical weapon.
The available intelligence made clear that the Syrians had targeted a jihadist meeting site on April 4 using a Russian-supplied guided bomb equipped with conventional explosives. Details of the attack, including information on its so-called high-value targets, had been provided by the Russians days in advance to American and allied military officials in Doha, whose mission is to coordinate all U.S., allied, Syrian and Russian Air Force operations in the region.
Some American military and intelligence officials were especially distressed by the president's determination to ignore the evidence. "None of this makes any sense," one officer told colleagues upon learning of the decision to bomb. "We KNOW that there was no chemical attack ... the Russians are furious. Claiming we have the real intel and know the truth ... I guess it didn't matter whether we elected Clinton or Trump.''
Within hours of the April 4 bombing, the world's media was saturated with photographs and videos from Khan Sheikhoun. Pictures of dead and dying victims, allegedly suffering from the symptoms of nerve gas poisoning, were uploaded to social media by local activists, including the White Helmets, a first responder group known for its close association with the Syrian opposition.
Seymour M. Hersh exposed the My Lai Massacre in Vietnam 1968. He uncovered the abuses at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and many other stories about war and politics
Quelle: Getty Images/Getty Images North America
The provenance of the photos was not clear and no international observers have yet inspected the site, but the immediate popular assumption worldwide was that this was a deliberate use of the nerve agent sarin, authorized by President Bashar Assad of Syria. Trump endorsed that assumption by issuing a statement within hours of the attack, describing Assad's "heinous actions" as being a consequence of the Obama administration's "weakness and irresolution" in addressing what he said was Syria's past use of chemical weapons.
To the dismay of many senior members of his national security team, Trump could not be swayed over the next 48 hours of intense briefings and decision-making. In a series of interviews, I learned of the total disconnect between the president and many of his military advisers and intelligence officials, as well as officers on the ground in the region who had an entirely different understanding of the nature of Syria's attack on Khan Sheikhoun. I was provided with evidence of that disconnect, in the form of transcripts of real-time communications, immediately following the Syrian attack on April 4. In an important pre-strike process known as deconfliction, U.S. and Russian officers routinely supply one another with advance details of planned flight paths and target coordinates, to ensure that there is no risk of collision or accidental encounter (the Russians speak on behalf of the Syrian military). This information is supplied daily to the American AWACS surveillance planes that monitor the flights once airborne. Deconfliction's success and importance can be measured by the fact that there has yet to be one collision, or even a near miss, among the high-powered supersonic American, Allied, Russian and Syrian fighter bombers.
Russian and Syrian Air Force officers gave details of the carefully planned flight path to and from Khan Shiekhoun on April 4 directly, in English, to the deconfliction monitors aboard the AWACS plane, which was on patrol near the Turkish border, 60 miles or more to the north.
The Syrian target at Khan Sheikhoun, as shared with the Americans at Doha, was depicted as a two-story cinder-block building in the northern part of town. Russian intelligence, which is shared when necessary with Syria and the U.S. as part of their joint fight against jihadist groups, had established that a high-level meeting of jihadist leaders was to take place in the building, including representatives of Ahrar al-Sham and the al-Qaida-affiliated group formerly known as Jabhat al-Nusra. The two groups had recently joined forces, and controlled the town and surrounding area. Russian intelligence depicted the cinder-block building as a command and control center that housed a grocery and other commercial premises on its ground floor with other essential shops nearby, including a fabric shop and an electronics store.
"The rebels control the population by controlling the distribution of goods that people need to live '' food, water, cooking oil, propane gas, fertilizers for growing their crops, and insecticides to protect the crops," a senior adviser to the American intelligence community, who has served in senior positions in the Defense Department and Central Intelligence Agency, told me. The basement was used as storage for rockets, weapons and ammunition, as well as products that could be distributed for free to the community, among them medicines and chlorine-based decontaminants for cleansing the bodies of the dead before burial. The meeting place '' a regional headquarters '' was on the floor above. ''It was an established meeting place,'' the senior adviser said. ''A long-time facility that would have had security, weapons, communications, files and a map center.'' The Russians were intent on confirming their intelligence and deployed a drone for days above the site to monitor communications and develop what is known in the intelligence community as a POL '' a pattern of life. The goal was to take note of those going in and out of the building, and to track weapons being moved back and forth, including rockets and ammunition.
One reason for the Russian message to Washington about the intended target was to ensure that any CIA asset or informant who had managed to work his way into the jihadist leadership was forewarned not to attend the meeting. I was told that the Russians passed the warning directly to the CIA. ''They were playing the game right,'' the senior adviser said. The Russian guidance noted that the jihadist meeting was coming at a time of acute pressure for the insurgents: Presumably Jabhat al-Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham were desperately seeking a path forward in the new political climate. In the last few days of March, Trump and two of his key national security aides '' Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and UN Ambassador Nikki Haley '' had made statements acknowledging that, as the New York Times put it, the White House ''has abandoned the goal'' of pressuring Assad "to leave power, marking a sharp departure from the Middle East policy that guided the Obama administration for more than five years.'' White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told a press briefing on March 31 that ''there is a political reality that we have to accept,'' implying that Assad was there to stay.
Russian and Syrian intelligence officials, who coordinate operations closely with the American command posts, made it clear that the planned strike on Khan Sheikhoun was special because of the high-value target. ''It was a red-hot change. The mission was out of the ordinary '' scrub the sked,'' the senior adviser told me. ''Every operations officer in the region" '' in the Army, Marine Corps, Air Force, CIA and NSA '' ''had to know there was something going on. The Russians gave the Syrian Air Force a guided bomb and that was a rarity. They're skimpy with their guided bombs and rarely share them with the Syrian Air Force. And the Syrians assigned their best pilot to the mission, with the best wingman.'' The advance intelligence on the target, as supplied by the Russians, was given the highest possible score inside the American community.
The Execute Order governing U.S. military operations in theater, which was issued by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, provide instructions that demarcate the relationship between the American and Russian forces operating in Syria. ''It's like an ops order '' 'Here's what you are authorized to do,''' the adviser said. ''We do not share operational control with the Russians. We don't do combined operations with them, or activities directly in support of one of their operations. But coordination is permitted. We keep each other apprised of what's happening and within this package is the mutual exchange of intelligence. If we get a hot tip that could help the Russians do their mission, that's coordination; and the Russians do the same for us. When we get a hot tip about a command and control facility,'' the adviser added, referring to the target in Khan Sheikhoun, ''we do what we can to help them act on it." ''This was not a chemical weapons strike,'' the adviser said. ''That's a fairy tale. If so, everyone involved in transferring, loading and arming the weapon '' you've got to make it appear like a regular 500-pound conventional bomb '' would be wearing Hazmat protective clothing in case of a leak. There would be very little chance of survival without such gear. Military grade sarin includes additives designed to increase toxicity and lethality. Every batch that comes out is maximized for death. That is why it is made. It is odorless and invisible and death can come within a minute. No cloud. Why produce a weapon that people can run away from?''
This photograph by the Syrian opposition (Edlib Media Center) shows the aftermath of a strike against the town of Khan Sheikhoun. A large building was hit, but it's unclear were th ... e strike took place exactly
Quelle: picture alliance / ZUMAPRESS.com/Shalan Stewart
The target was struck at 6:55 a.m. on April 4, just before midnight in Washington. A Bomb Damage Assessment (BDA) by the U.S. military later determined that the heat and force of the 500-pound Syrian bomb triggered a series of secondary explosions that could have generated a huge toxic cloud that began to spread over the town, formed by the release of the fertilizers, disinfectants and other goods stored in the basement, its effect magnified by the dense morning air, which trapped the fumes close to the ground. According to intelligence estimates, the senior adviser said, the strike itself killed up to four jihadist leaders, and an unknown number of drivers and security aides. There is no confirmed count of the number of civilians killed by the poisonous gases that were released by the secondary explosions, although opposition activists reported that there were more than 80 dead, and outlets such as CNN have put the figure as high as 92. A team from M(C)decins Sans Fronti¨res, treating victims from Khan Sheikhoun at a clinic 60 miles to the north, reported that ''eight patients showed symptoms '' including constricted pupils, muscle spasms and involuntary defecation '' which are consistent with exposure to a neurotoxic agent such as sarin gas or similar compounds.'' MSF also visited other hospitals that had received victims and found that patients there ''smelled of bleach, suggesting that they had been exposed to chlorine.'' In other words, evidence suggested that there was more than one chemical responsible for the symptoms observed, which would not have been the case if the Syrian Air Force '' as opposition activists insisted '' had dropped a sarin bomb, which has no percussive or ignition power to trigger secondary explosions. The range of symptoms is, however, consistent with the release of a mixture of chemicals, including chlorine and the organophosphates used in many fertilizers, which can cause neurotoxic effects similar to those of sarin.
The internet swung into action within hours, and gruesome photographs of the victims flooded television networks and YouTube. U.S. intelligence was tasked with establishing what had happened. Among the pieces of information received was an intercept of Syrian communications collected before the attack by an allied nation. The intercept, which had a particularly strong effect on some of Trump's aides, did not mention nerve gas or sarin, but it did quote a Syrian general discussing a ''special'' weapon and the need for a highly skilled pilot to man the attack plane. The reference, as those in the American intelligence community understood, and many of the inexperienced aides and family members close to Trump may not have, was to a Russian-supplied bomb with its built-in guidance system. ''If you've already decided it was a gas attack, you will then inevitably read the talk about a special weapon as involving a sarin bomb,'' the adviser said. ''Did the Syrians plan the attack on Khan Sheikhoun? Absolutely. Do we have intercepts to prove it? Absolutely. Did they plan to use sarin? No. But the president did not say: 'We have a problem and let's look into it.' He wanted to bomb the shit out of Syria.''
At the UN the next day, Ambassador Haley created a media sensation when she displayed photographs of the dead and accused Russia of being complicit. ''How many more children have to die before Russia cares?'' she asked. NBC News, in a typical report that day, quoted American officials as confirming that nerve gas had been used and Haley tied the attack directly to Syrian President Assad. "We know that yesterday's attack was a new low even for the barbaric Assad regime,'' she said. There was irony in America's rush to blame Syria and criticize Russia for its support of Syria's denial of any use of gas in Khan Sheikhoun, as Ambassador Haley and others in Washington did. "What doesn't occur to most Americans" the adviser said, "is if there had been a Syrian nerve gas attack authorized by Bashar, the Russians would be 10 times as upset as anyone in the West. Russia's strategy against ISIS, which involves getting American cooperation, would have been destroyed and Bashar would be responsible for pissing off Russia, with unknown consequences for him. Bashar would do that? When he's on the verge of winning the war? Are you kidding me?''
Trump, a constant watcher of television news, said, while King Abdullah of Jordan was sitting next to him in the Oval Office, that what had happened was ''horrible, horrible'' and a ''terrible affront to humanity.'' Asked if his administration would change its policy toward the Assad government, he said: ''You will see.'' He gave a hint of the response to come at the subsequent news conference with King Abdullah: ''When you kill innocent children, innocent babies '' babies, little babies '' with a chemical gas that is so lethal ... that crosses many, many lines, beyond a red line . ... That attack on children yesterday had a big impact on me. Big impact ... It's very, very possible ... that my attitude toward Syria and Assad has changed very much.''
Within hours of viewing the photos, the adviser said, Trump instructed the national defense apparatus to plan for retaliation against Syria. ''He did this before he talked to anybody about it. The planners then asked the CIA and DIA if there was any evidence that Syria had sarin stored at a nearby airport or somewhere in the area. Their military had to have it somewhere in the area in order to bomb with it.'' ''The answer was, 'We have no evidence that Syria had sarin or used it,''' the adviser said. ''The CIA also told them that there was no residual delivery for sarin at Sheyrat [the airfield from which the Syrian SU-24 bombers had taken off on April 4] and Assad had no motive to commit political suicide.'' Everyone involved, except perhaps the president, also understood that a highly skilled United Nations team had spent more than a year in the aftermath of an alleged sarin attack in 2013 by Syria, removing what was said to be all chemical weapons from a dozen Syrian chemical weapons depots.
At this point, the adviser said, the president's national security planners were more than a little rattled: ''No one knew the provenance of the photographs. We didn't know who the children were or how they got hurt. Sarin actually is very easy to detect because it penetrates paint, and all one would have to do is get a paint sample. We knew there was a cloud and we knew it hurt people. But you cannot jump from there to certainty that Assad had hidden sarin from the UN because he wanted to use it in Khan Sheikhoun.'' The intelligence made clear that a Syrian Air Force SU-24 fighter bomber had used a conventional weapon to hit its target: There had been no chemical warhead. And yet it was impossible for the experts to persuade the president of this once he had made up his mind. ''The president saw the photographs of poisoned little girls and said it was an Assad atrocity,'' the senior adviser said. ''It's typical of human nature. You jump to the conclusion you want. Intelligence analysts do not argue with a president. They're not going to tell the president, 'if you interpret the data this way, I quit.'''
President Donald J. Trump with some of his closest advisors at Mar-a-Lago on April 6, 2017 at a top secret briefing on the results of the missile strike on Shayat Air Base
Quelle: picture alliance/ASSOCIATED PRESS/AP Content
The national security advisers understood their dilemma: Trump wanted to respond to the affront to humanity committed by Syria and he did not want to be dissuaded. They were dealing with a man they considered to be not unkind and not stupid, but his limitations when it came to national security decisions were severe. "Everyone close to him knows his proclivity for acting precipitously when he does not know the facts," the adviser said. "He doesn't read anything and has no real historical knowledge. He wants verbal briefings and photographs. He's a risk-taker. He can accept the consequences of a bad decision in the business world; he will just lose money. But in our world, lives will be lost and there will be long-term damage to our national security if he guesses wrong. He was told we did not have evidence of Syrian involvement and yet Trump says: 'Do it.'''
On April 6, Trump convened a meeting of national security officials at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. The meeting was not to decide what to do, but how best to do it '' or, as some wanted, how to do the least and keep Trump happy. ''The boss knew before the meeting that they didn't have the intelligence, but that was not the issue,'' the adviser said. ''The meeting was about, 'Here's what I'm going to do,' and then he gets the options.''
The available intelligence was not relevant. The most experienced man at the table was Secretary of Defense James Mattis, a retired Marine Corps general who had the president's respect and understood, perhaps, how quickly that could evaporate. Mike Pompeo, the CIA director whose agency had consistently reported that it had no evidence of a Syrian chemical bomb, was not present. Secretary of State Tillerson was admired on the inside for his willingness to work long hours and his avid reading of diplomatic cables and reports, but he knew little about waging war and the management of a bombing raid. Those present were in a bind, the adviser said. ''The president was emotionally energized by the disaster and he wanted options.'' He got four of them, in order of extremity. Option one was to do nothing. All involved, the adviser said, understood that was a non-starter. Option two was a slap on the wrist: to bomb an airfield in Syria, but only after alerting the Russians and, through them, the Syrians, to avoid too many casualties. A few of the planners called this the ''gorilla option'': America would glower and beat its chest to provoke fear and demonstrate resolve, but cause little significant damage. The third option was to adopt the strike package that had been presented to Obama in 2013, and which he ultimately chose not to pursue. The plan called for the massive bombing of the main Syrian airfields and command and control centers using B1 and B52 aircraft launched from their bases in the U.S. Option four was ''decapitation'': to remove Assad by bombing his palace in Damascus, as well as his command and control network and all of the underground bunkers he could possibly retreat to in a crisis.
''Trump ruled out option one off the bat,'' the senior adviser said, and the assassination of Assad was never considered. ''But he said, in essence: 'You're the military and I want military action.''' The president was also initially opposed to the idea of giving the Russians advance warning before the strike, but reluctantly accepted it. ''We gave him the Goldilocks option '' not too hot, not too cold, but just right.'' The discussion had its bizarre moments. Tillerson wondered at the Mar-a-Lago meeting why the president could not simply call in the B52 bombers and pulverize the air base. He was told that B52s were very vulnerable to surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) in the area and using such planes would require suppression fire that could kill some Russian defenders. ''What is that?'' Tillerson asked. Well, sir, he was told, that means we would have to destroy the upgraded SAM sites along the B52 flight path, and those are manned by Russians, and we possibly would be confronted with a much more difficult situation. ''The lesson here was: Thank God for the military men at the meeting,'' the adviser said. "They did the best they could when confronted with a decision that had already been made."
Fifty-nine Tomahawk missiles were fired from two U.S. Navy destroyers on duty in the Mediterranean, the Ross and the Porter, at Shayrat Air Base near the government-controlled city of Homs. The strike was as successful as hoped, in terms of doing minimal damage. The missiles have a light payload '' roughly 220 pounds of HBX, the military's modern version of TNT. The airfield's gasoline storage tanks, a primary target, were pulverized, the senior adviser said, triggering a huge fire and clouds of smoke that interfered with the guidance system of following missiles. As many as 24 missiles missed their targets and only a few of the Tomahawks actually penetrated into hangars, destroying nine Syrian aircraft, many fewer than claimed by the Trump administration. I was told that none of the nine was operational: such damaged aircraft are what the Air Force calls hangar queens. ''They were sacrificial lambs,'' the senior adviser said. Most of the important personnel and operational fighter planes had been flown to nearby bases hours before the raid began. The two runways and parking places for aircraft, which had also been targeted, were repaired and back in operation within eight hours or so. All in all, it was little more than an expensive fireworks display.
''It was a totally Trump show from beginning to end,'' the senior adviser said. ''A few of the president's senior national security advisers viewed the mission as a minimized bad presidential decision, and one that they had an obligation to carry out. But I don't think our national security people are going to allow themselves to be hustled into a bad decision again. If Trump had gone for option three, there might have been some immediate resignations.''
After the meeting, with the Tomahawks on their way, Trump spoke to the nation from Mar-a-Lago, and accused Assad of using nerve gas to choke out ''the lives of helpless men, women and children. It was a slow and brutal death for so many ... No child of God should ever suffer such horror.'' The next few days were his most successful as president. America rallied around its commander in chief, as it always does in times of war. Trump, who had campaigned as someone who advocated making peace with Assad, was bombing Syria 11 weeks after taking office, and was hailed for doing so by Republicans, Democrats and the media alike. One prominent TV anchorman, Brian Williams of MSNBC, used the word ''beautiful'' to describe the images of the Tomahawks being launched at sea. Speaking on CNN, Fareed Zakaria said: ''I think Donald Trump became president of the United States.'' A review of the top 100 American newspapers showed that 39 of them published editorials supporting the bombing in its aftermath, including the New York Times, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal.
The Tomahawk missiles only did little damage to the Syrian air base
Quelle: AP Photo/HM BH
Five days later, the Trump administration gathered the national media for a background briefing on the Syrian operation that was conducted by a senior White House official who was not to be identified. The gist of the briefing was that Russia's heated and persistent denial of any sarin use in the Khan Sheikhoun bombing was a lie because President Trump had said sarin had been used. That assertion, which was not challenged or disputed by any of the reporters present, became the basis for a series of further criticisms:
- The continued lying by the Trump administration about Syria's use of sarin led to widespread belief in the American media and public that Russia had chosen to be involved in a corrupt disinformation and cover-up campaign on the part of Syria.
- Russia's military forces had been co-located with Syria's at the Shayrat airfield (as they are throughout Syria), raising the possibility that Russia had advance notice of Syria's determination to use sarin at Khan Sheikhoun and did nothing to stop it.
- Syria's use of sarin and Russia's defense of that use strongly suggested that Syria withheld stocks of the nerve agent from the UN disarmament team that spent much of 2014 inspecting and removing all declared chemical warfare agents from 12 Syrian chemical weapons depots, pursuant to the agreement worked out by the Obama administration and Russia after Syria's alleged, but still unproven, use of sarin the year before against a rebel redoubt in a suburb of Damascus.
The briefer, to his credit, was careful to use the words ''think,'' ''suggest'' and ''believe'' at least 10 times during the 30-minute event. But he also said that his briefing was based on data that had been declassified by ''our colleagues in the intelligence community.'' What the briefer did not say, and may not have known, was that much of the classified information in the community made the point that Syria had not used sarin in the April 4 bombing attack.
The mainstream press responded the way the White House had hoped it would: Stories attacking Russia's alleged cover-up of Syria's sarin use dominated the news and many media outlets ignored the briefer's myriad caveats. There was a sense of renewed Cold War. The New York Times, for example '' America's leading newspaper '' put the following headline on its account: ''White House Accuses Russia of Cover-Up in Syria Chemical Attack.'' The Times' account did note a Russian denial, but what was described by the briefer as ''declassified information'' suddenly became a ''declassified intelligence report.'' Yet there was no formal intelligence report stating that Syria had used sarin, merely a "summary based on declassified information about the attacks," as the briefer referred to it.
The crisis slid into the background by the end of April, as Russia, Syria and the United States remained focused on annihilating ISIS and the militias of al-Qaida. Some of those who had worked through the crisis, however, were left with lingering concerns. ''The Salafists and jihadists got everything they wanted out of their hyped-up Syrian nerve gas ploy,'' the senior adviser to the U.S. intelligence community told me, referring to the flare up of tensions between Syria, Russia and America. ''The issue is, what if there's another false flag sarin attack credited to hated Syria? Trump has upped the ante and painted himself into a corner with his decision to bomb. And do not think these guys are not planning the next faked attack. Trump will have no choice but to bomb again, and harder. He's incapable of saying he made a mistake.''
The White House did not answer specific questions about the bombing of Khan Sheikhoun and the airport of Shayrat. These questions were send via e-mail to the White House on June 15 and never answered.
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'ISIS suicide bomber kills 12 comrades wishing him luck'
Tue, 27 Jun 2017 15:14
The terrorists were giving their comrade a send-off to martyrdom in Diyala, IraqAs they said their goodbyes at the ISIS 'blood party', the deadly bomb detonated Comes as Islamic State (ISIS) lost more ground in its last major stronghold in IraqThought to be just hundreds of ISIS fighters left in Mosul confined to 1km squareAn ISIS suicide bomber accidentally killed 12 comrades when his belt exploded while they wished him good luck ahead of a planned attack in Iraq, is has been reported.
The terrorists were giving their comrade a send-off in Diyala when his explosives detonated prematurely, according to a top police official.
It happened at what ISIS call a blood party, where suicide bombers are given a final farewell before martyrdom.
Displaced children fleeing from deadly clashes as Iraqi Counter Terrorism Services (CTS) guide them to safety in the old city of Mosul, IraqDyliala police chief Jassem al-Saadi told Iraqi News in a statement the 12 militants had been killed in the Mekheisa region, northeast of Baqubah near Baghdad.
Jsut yesterday, ISIS commanders were killed after one of the group's suicide bombers blew himself up at a meeting following the terrorists' collapse in Mosul.
The jihadi detonated explosives during a meeting in Qaim District in the west of the Anbar Province and the blast killed a number of leaders as well as himself.
The double botched bombings came as Islamic State lost more ground in their last major stronghold in Iraq with the terror group's numbers depleted and confined to an area of about a square kilometre in the Old City.
An Iraqi man collapses after fleeing the Islamic State controlled Old City of west Mosul where heavy fighting continues on June 23 Two Cubs of the Caliphate shoot dead two prisoners. The branch was set up to recruit children to act as suicide bombers for ISISLieutenant Colonel Salam al-Obeidi said that he believes only 'a few hundred Daesh fighters', an Arabic acronym for Islamic State group jihadists, are left in the Old City.
Three years after overrunning Mosul and making it the de facto Iraqi capital of the 'caliphate' they proclaimed, the jihadists now only control about a square kilometre in the city, commanders said.
There have been 80 suicide bombings by ISIS in the past four days, according to the BBC, and with the terror group facing extinction in Mosul, it appears their motive has now turned to taking as many casualties as they can with them.
Lieutenant Colonel Mohammed al-Tamim said: 'Daesh members don't turn themselves in.
ISIS burns one of its kid jihadis for refusing to kill his familyISIS terrorists burned one of its own child jihadis after he refused to kill his family.
The boy, who was part of the Cubs of the Caliphate, was killed in the area of Mutaibaija near Tikrit.
A local source in Salahuddin Province told Alsumaria News the desperate jihadis had taken to attacking their own families if they did not approve of ISIS' radical ideologies.
The Cubs of the Caliphate was formed to recruit children to be used as suicide bombers.
'And if they don't get killed, their last option is to blow themselves up and commit suicide.'
The most recent attack, which targeted the terror group's own hierarchy, happened near the Iraqi-Syrian border, according to Iraqi News.
Anbar Province, where the jihadi blew himself up, is still under ISIS control, but a huge offensive is underway to liberate the area.
ISIS fighters have tried repeatedly to slow down the advance of Iraqi forces with suicide attacks.
Rubble from what used to be roofs or facades damaged in the fierce fighting litters the narrow streets, sometimes piled several metres (feet) high.
A soldier who took part in the battle to retake Faruq says air strikes were an important factor because armoured vehicles were unable to be squeezed into the alleyways.
'We advance and determine where enemies are, then we call for air strikes to eliminate them, (and) then we advance, cautiously,' said a soldier who did not wish to be identified.
'We see lots of dead bodies. We're searching for the others' who are still alive, he said of the ISIS fighters.'
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The Blackwater of Jihad | Foreign Policy
Tue, 27 Jun 2017 15:13
Heavily armed and expertly kitted with body armor and ballistic helmets, the men can be seen defending bunkers, storming buildings, and even posing by whiteboards giving tactical lessons. Though the titles of these YouTube videos are written in Russian Cyrillic, their background music is an a cappella Islamic chant known as a nasheed, which is often used by extremist groups in propaganda films. But the men are no ordinary jihadis. They are members of Malhama Tactical, the world's first jihadi private military contractor (PMC) and consulting firm.
Malhama Tactical isn't an enormous military conglomerate like the infamous Blackwater (now named Academi). It consists of 10 well-trained fighters from Uzbekistan and the restive Muslim-majority republics of the Russian Caucasus. But size isn't everything in military consulting, especially in the era of social media. Malhama promotes its battles across online platforms, and the relentless marketing has paid off: The outfit's fighting prowess and training programs are renowned among jihadis in Syria and their admirers elsewhere. It helps that until now the group has specialized its services, focusing on overthrowing Bashar al-Assad's regime and replacing it with a strict Islamic government.
The group's leader is a 24-year-old from Uzbekistan who goes by the name Abu Rofiq (an Arabic pseudonym that means father of Rofiq). Little is known about him other than that he cycles through personal social media accounts rapidly, using fake names and false information to throw off surveillance efforts. In virtually every video and photo posted online, he wears a scarf or balaclava to cover his face from the nose down, leaving visible only his narrow dark eyes and long, somewhat tangled, pitch-black hair. He speaks fluent Russian, but with a slight Uzbek accent.
READ MORETrump's Syria strategy would be a disaster.
The women who could save Mosul
Since launching in May 2016, Malhama has grown to do brisk business in Syria, having been contracted to fight, and provide training and other battlefield consulting, alongside groups like the al Qaeda-affiliated Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (formerly known as the Nusra Front) and the Turkistan Islamic Party, a Uighur extremist group from China's restive Xinjiang province. And despite recent rebel setbacks in Syria, including the loss of Aleppo, demand for Malhama Tactical's services in the country is as strong as ever, Abu Rofiq told Foreign Policy in an interview conducted over the messaging app Telegram.
But he is also beginning to think about expanding elsewhere. His group is willing to take work, Abu Rofiq says, wherever Sunni Muslims are oppressed. He cites China and Myanmar as places that would benefit from jihad. He also suggests that Malhama Tactical might go back to its roots, returning to fight in the North Caucasus against the Russian government.
In November, the group placed job ads on Facebook looking for instructors with combat experience to join the group. The ad described the outfit as a ''fun and friendly team'' looking for recruits who are willing to ''constantly engage, develop, and learn'' and work with Jabhat Fateh al-Sham. It even specified that instructors were privy to benefits like vacation time and one day off a week from jihad. The wording was more befitting of a Fortune 500 company than a group of extremists fighting in a brutal and bloody war. Jihad went global long before Malhama Tactical, but rarely with so entrepreneurial a spirit.
Left: An undated image of Abu Rofiq performing military drills in Syria. (Photo by Malhama Tactical/ Vkontakte) Right: Abu Rofiq and two other members of Malhama Tactical pose for a selfie. (Photo by Malhama Tactical/ Vkontakte)
Although Malhama Tactical is the first PMC to work exclusively for extremist groups, it's hardly the first foreign PMC to enter the Syrian battlefield. The Syrian war has now lasted for nearly six years and cost the lives of more than 400,000 men, women, and children. And amid the chaos of groups like the Islamic State, the left-wing Kurdish People's Protection Units, and Jabhat Fateh al-Sham vying for territory and influence, the Syrian front has also been a boon for military contractors, who have found work fighting on both sides of the war.
The first iteration of PMCs in Syria was the Slavonic Corps, an ill-fated, Hong Kong-registered company comprising ex-Russian military that briefly worked alongside government forces in 2013, according to a report by the Interpreter magazine. But it quickly became clear that they did not have the full support of the Syrian government. First, the Syrian army stole their vehicles, then their paychecks never arrived, and finally a Syrian air force helicopter crashed into the Slavonic Corps convoy after flying too low and running into power lines, injuring one mercenary. The Slavonic Corps' misadventures came to an end when the group disbanded after a defeat by rebels in the desert near the city of Sukhnah in southern Syria in October 2013. The mercenaries returned home to Moscow and were promptly arrested by the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) for their unsanctioned Syrian intervention.
Following the Kremlin's own intervention in Syria in September 2015, nearly 1,500 Russian mercenaries arrived from the ''Wagner'' group, an infamous and secretive Russian PMC that previously fought alongside Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine, according to an investigation by Sky News. Their mission was to assist the Assad regime, and unlike the Slavonic Corps, Wagner enjoys extensive support from the Russian government. Dmitry Utkin, a former special forces brigade commander of Russia's military intelligence service, allegedly leads the group. Although little is known about Wagner, it's believed that it mimics Academi's model by operating as an elite infantry unit and relies on the Russian government for support, even flying into Syria on board official military aircraft and training at a Russian special forces base in Molkino in southwestern Russia. Wagner remains in Syria to this day.
READ MOREThe meeting that led to the creation of ISIS.
The greatest divorce in the Jihadi world
At the same time, a litany of Russian-speaking fighters have fought alongside jihadi groups waging war against the Syrian government. According to the Soufan Group, there are at least 4,700 foreign fighters from the former Soviet Union in Syria, the majority of whom come from the Russian republics of Chechnya and Dagestan. These fighters typically arrive in Syria better equipped and trained than local militants and with years of experience fighting the Russian government in the mountains of Chechnya and Dagestan during the 1990s and 2000s.
These battle-hardened fighters quickly earned respect from local militants, who noticed the Russian speakers took on a much higher death rate than local fighters. They came to populate the ranks of both the Islamic State and Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, as well as various smaller groups, where locals refer to them as inghimasi, a term used among jihadis to refer to fighters who plunge into enemy front lines to inflict the maximum amount of casualties with no plan of returning alive. The archetypal inghimasi fights until he runs out of ammunition before detonating his suicide vest as his position is overrun.
But while many of their compatriots have become front-line shock troops, the former Soviet fighters of Malhama Tactical go a different way, carving out their own distinct niche between the worlds of professional PMCs and jihadi groups operating in Syria. They function as consultants, arms dealers, and, on occasion, elite warriors.
Malhama's elite status makes sense against the background of Abu Rofiq's own military career. Abu Rofiq told FP that he had moved as a young man from Uzbekistan to Russia, where, in addition to starting a family, he joined one of the Russian government's most elite military units, a group of airborne troops known as the VDV. In 2013, Abu Rofiq left Russia for Syria, where rather than joining one faction, like most foreign fighters do, he remained independent and moved between them, before founding Malhama in 2016.
Throughout 2016, Malhama Tactical's units trained the hard-line Islamist rebel group Ahrar al-Sham and Jabhat Fateh al-Sham in urban combat to help their fight against the Syrian regime in Aleppo. In one video, trainees practice firing multiple rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) rounds and work as squads to assault a building. In another, a two-man team clears rooms and eliminates targets using grenades and gunfire, all under the watchful eye of Malhama instructors.
This type of training isn't cheap '-- the RPG rounds Malhama uses in its practice sessions are estimated to cost around $800 each on the black market '-- which is why military training for most rebel and jihadi groups in Syria has tended to consist of little more than marching, acrobatics, and basic marksmanship. But for jihadi groups that can afford it, Malhama Tactical's infantry training is worth the expense. One European military contractor who spoke on the condition of anonymity acknowledged that the group's tactical skills would provide it, and whomever it trains, a distinct advantage on the Syrian battlefield.
Left: A Malhama Tactical member explains how to take apart and assemble an M16 assault rifle in an instructional video. (Photo by Malhama Tactical/ YouTube) Right: A Malhama Tactical member tests the group's manufactured grips for the PKM machine gun. (Photo by Malhama Tactical/ YouTube)
Malhama Tactical's operators have, on occasion, also acted as special forces for different jihadi groups. In September 2016, they embedded with the Turkistan Islamic Party to help it repulse an Assad regime attack in southern Aleppo, according to a rebel activist source familiar with the group. However, Abu Rofiq says his outfit's primary goal is to train other rebel and jihadi groups in combat, rather than fight on the front lines. Abu Rofiq admitted that Malhama also produces equipment for other jihadi groups as needed. Malhama, for example, manufactures accessories for the PKM, an extremely popular Russian-made 7.62 mm machine gun. The vests and grips, widely used in Aleppo during the intense fighting there, have become especially sought after among jihadis.
Malhama Tactical also takes its social media presence very seriously. The group advertises its services through Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and the Russian social media site VKontakte, although the group's account has been suspended. Its Instagram feed has the feel of something produced by a major corporate gun manufacturer. It features artsy, filtered photos of weapons and fighters taken from multiple angles, interspersed between various high-quality Malhama logo designs. With more than 208,160 views on YouTube, Malhama has a large reach, especially for its size. By comparison, the Free Syrian Army al-Moutasem Brigade, which is 50 times larger and half a year older, has just over 110,000 YouTube views. Everyone from rebels in Syria to Ukrainian soldiers and Russian separatists in Donetsk has commented on the group's posts.
READ MORECentral Asia's autocrats welcome the age of Trump.
How to stop a martyr
Malhama's YouTube and Facebook pages also showcase free online guides for jihadis, covering improvised grenade construction, weapon cleaning, room clearing, and urban combat, among other skills. The group's instructors organize online training sessions '-- on subjects including battlefield first aid; the use of weapons, such as RPG-7s; hand signal systems for urban combat; and introductions on how to conduct ambushes '-- when in-person assistance and consulting is not possible.
Although Malhama Tactical charges for its services, Abu Rofiq insists he isn't a mercenary. He says his group's motivation transcends money. ''Our goal is different; we are fighting for an idea,'' he said '-- namely, jihad against Assad.
''We'll see a lot more of this activity going forward in the decades to come,'' said Sean McFate, an associate professor at the National Defense University and author of The Modern Mercenary, a book about private armies. For McFate, the growth of Malhama Tactical is a natural offshoot of the prolonged Syrian war, but the outfit's mixture of extremist ideology with the privatization of war is a unique and troubling trend. ''A jihadi group doing this is a new level because if you're talking about hardcore idealists paying for [military training], then that's a milestone of modern warfare,'' McFate said.
Abu Rofiq's leadership has also brought him unwanted attention from the Russian government, which views him as a major terrorism threat. On Feb. 7, Russian airstrikes flattened Abu Rofiq's apartment in Idlib, killing his wife, infant son, and several other civilians. Despite initial reports to the contrary, a local source confirmed that the airstrikes missed Abu Rofiq entirely. He had exited his apartment just moments before to help casualties from another nearby bombing.
In either case, Abu Rofiq's jihadi PMC model has already had a significant effect on battles in northern Syria and could soon inspire copycat organizations outside the Middle East. Even if Abu Rofiq is killed and Malhama Tactical is destroyed, he's already shaken up the war against Assad '-- and maybe even the future of the global military-industrial complex.
Neil Hauer,lead analyst for the SecDev Group in Ottawa, Canada, and Subkhan Khuriev contributed to this report.
Top Image Credit: Malhama Tactical Vkontakte page/Foreign Policy illustration
Rao Komar is a Middle East/Eurasia analyst and an Arabic Flagship Scholar at the University of Texas at Austin. @RaoKomar747 on Twitter.
Christian Borys is a Canadian journalist based in Eastern Europe who has covered the war in Ukraine and worked with the BBC, Al Jazeera, VICE and others. Follow him on Twitter: @ItsBorys
Eric Woods is a contributor at the investigative journalism outlet Bellingcat and a researcher focusing on non-state actors and weapons proliferation. Follow him on Twitter: @AnotherWarBlog
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Agenda 2020
There is a new island along North Carolina's coast and people are going crazy
Thu, 29 Jun 2017 00:08
WBTV : There is a new island along North Carolina's coast and people are going crazy"
There is a new island along North Carolina's coast and people are going crazy
Chris Dyches
Posted: 06/27/2017 1:02 PM
MANTEO, NC (WBTV) - A new island has popped up along the North Carolina coast, seemingly overnight, and people are going crazy over it.
The new stretch of land has been nicknamed "Shelly Island" by visitors who say it is the perfect spot to collect seashells.
According to CNN, the island was spotted by visitors and has been photographed by Chad Koczera and his drone. Shelly Island has reportedly grown from a tiny isle to a large land mass.
California invested heavily in solar power. Now there's so much that other states are sometimes paid to take it - Los Angeles Times
Mon, 26 Jun 2017 03:59
O n 14 days during March, Arizona utilities got a gift from California: free solar power.
Well, actually better than free. California produced so much solar power on those days that it paid Arizona to take excess electricity its residents weren't using to avoid overloading its own power lines.
It happened on eight days in January and nine in February as well. All told, those transactions helped save Arizona electricity customers millions of dollars this year, though grid operators declined to say exactly how much. And California also has paid other states to take power.
The number of days that California dumped its unused solar electricity would have been even higher if the state hadn't ordered some solar plants to reduce production '-- even as natural gas power plants, which contribute to greenhouse gas emissions, continued generating electricity.
Solar and wind power production was curtailed a relatively small amount '-- about 3% in the first quarter of 2017 '-- but that's more than double the same period last year. And the surge in solar power could push the number even higher in the future.
Why doesn't California, a champion of renewable energy, use all the solar power it can generate?
The answer, in part, is that the state has achieved dramatic success in increasing renewable energy production in recent years. But it also reflects sharp conflicts among major energy players in the state over the best way to weave these new electricity sources into a system still dominated by fossil-fuel-generated power.
In Western Kern County, solar panels on almost two square miles of land form the Beacon Solar Project, owned by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. (Mel Melcon/Los Angels Times) City officials and builders in Redondo Beach want a mixed-use development to replace the current natural gas facility. They say there is no need to overhaul the power plant when there is an abundance of clean alternatives. (Rick Loomis/Los Angeles Times)No single entity is in charge of energy policy in California. This has led to a two-track approach that has created an ever-increasing glut of power and is proving costly for electricity users. Rates have risen faster here than in the rest of the U.S., and Californians now pay about 50% more than the national average.
Perhaps the most glaring example: The California Legislature has mandated that one-half of the state's electricity come from renewable sources by 2030; today it's about one-fourth. That goal once was considered wildly optimistic. But solar panels have become much more efficient and less expensive. So solar power is now often the same price or cheaper than most other types of electricity, and production has soared so much that the target now looks laughably easy to achieve.
At the same time, however, state regulators '-- who act independently of the Legislature '-- until recently have continued to greenlight utility company proposals to build more natural gas power plants.
State Senate Leader Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles) wants Calilfornia to produce 100% of its electricity from clean energy sources such as solar and wind by 2045. (Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times)These conflicting energy agendas have frustrated state Senate Leader Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles), who opposes more fossil fuel plants. He has introduced legislation that would require the state to meet its goal of 50% of its electricity from renewable sources five years earlier, by 2025. Even more ambitiously, he recently proposed legislation to require 100% of the state's power to come from renewable energy sources by 2045.
''I want to make sure we don't have two different pathways,'' de Leon said. Expanding clean energy production and also building natural gas plants, he added, is ''a bad investment.''
Environmental groups are even more critical. They contend that building more fossil fuel plants at the same time that solar production is being curtailed shows that utilities '-- with the support of regulators '-- are putting higher profits ahead of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
''California and others have just been getting it wrong,'' said Leia Guccione, an expert in renewable energy at the Rocky Mountain Institute in Colorado, a clean power advocate. ''The way [utilities] earn revenue is building stuff. When they see a need, they are perversely [incentivized] to come up with a solution like a gas plant.''
California and others have just been getting it wrong.
'-- Leia Guccione, renewable energy expert at the Rocky Mountain Institute
Regulators and utility officials dispute this view. They assert that the transition from fossil fuel power to renewable energy is complicated and that overlap is unavoidable.
They note that electricity demand fluctuates '-- it is higher in summer in California, because of air conditioning, and lower in the winter '-- so some production capacity inevitably will be underused in the winter. Moreover, the solar power supply fluctuates as well. It peaks at midday, when the sunlight is strongest. Even then it isn't totally reliable.
Because no one can be sure when clouds might block sunshine during the day, fossil fuel electricity is needed to fill the gaps. Utility officials note that solar production is often cut back first because starting and stopping natural gas plants is costlier and more difficult than shutting down solar panels.
Eventually, unnecessary redundancy of electricity from renewables and fossil fuel will disappear, regulators, utilities and operators of the electric grid say.
''The gas-fired generation overall will show decline,'' said Neil Millar, executive director of infrastructure at CAISO, the California Independent System Operator, which runs the electric grid and shares responsibility for preventing blackouts and brownouts. ''Right now, as the new generation is coming online and the older generation hasn't left yet, there is a bit of overlap.''
Utility critics acknowledge these complexities. But they counter that utilities and regulators have been slow to grasp how rapidly technology is transforming the business. A building slowdown is long overdue, they argue.
Despite a growing glut of power, however, authorities only recently agreed to put on hold proposals for some of the new natural gas power plants that utilities want to build to reconsider whether they are needed.
A key question in the debate is when California will be able to rely on renewable power for most or all of its needs and safely phase out fossil fuel plants, which regulators are studying.
The answer depends in large part on how fast battery storage improves, so it is cheaper and can store power closer to customers for use when the sun isn't shining. Solar proponents say the technology is advancing rapidly, making reliance on renewables possible far sooner than previously predicted, perhaps two decades or even less from now '-- which means little need for new power plants with a life span of 30 to 40 years.
Calibrating this correctly is crucial to controlling electricity costs.
''It's not the renewables that's the problem. It's the state's renewable policy that's the problem,'' said Gary Ackerman, president of the Western Power Trading Forum, an association of independent power producers. ''We're curtailing renewable energy in the summertime months. In the spring, we have to give people money to take it off our hands.''
Not long ago, solar was barely a rounding error for California's energy producers.
In 2010, power plants in the state generated just over 15% of their electricity production from renewable sources. But that was mostly wind and geothermal power, with only a scant 0.5% from solar. Now that overall amount has grown to 27%, with solar power accounting for 10%, or most of the increase. The solar figure doesn't include the hundreds of thousands of rooftop solar systems that produce an additional 4 percentage points, a share that is ever growing.
Pointer rule: 1.5 pt., 100k Graphic highlight labels and pointers: Benton Gothic Bold, 38/42 pt. Graphic copy text: Benton Gothic Reg 32/36 pt. #58595 Bold lead in: Benton Gothic Bold 32/36 pt. Chart regular text: Benton Gothic Reg 34/42 pt. Chart highlight label text: Benton Gothic Bold 34/42 pt. Chart measure key text: Benton Gothic Reg 32/34 pt. File name: la-Section: Run date: XX-XX-14Artist: Name Here X77192 Size: Reporter approved: Editor approved: P2P slug: (C) Los Angeles Times @latimesgraphics Source: Energy Information Administration California's solar boom The share of the state's power generated by solar utilities and rooftop panels has skyrocketed in recent years. 0 5 10 15% Rooftop solar Utility solar '16 '15 '14 '13 '12 '11 '10 '09 '08 '07 '06 '05 '04 '03 '02 '01 % generated by solar utilities % generated by rooftop panels Note: Rooftop panels were not tracked by the federal government prior to 2014. 2016Solar utilities: 9.6%Rooftop panels: 4.2%Behind the rapid expansion of solar power: its plummeting price, which makes it highly competitive with other electricity sources. In part that stems from subsidies, but much of the decline comes from the sharp drop in the cost of making solar panels and their increased efficiency in converting sunlight into electricity.
The average cost of solar power for residential, commercial and utility-scale projects declined 73% between 2010 and 2016. Solar electricity now costs 5 to 6 cents per kilowatt-hour '-- the amount needed to light a 100-watt bulb for 10 hours '-- to produce, or about the same as electricity produced by a natural gas plant and half the cost of a nuclear facility, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
Fly over the Carrizo Plain in California's Central Valley near San Luis Obispo and you'll see that what was once barren land is now a sprawling solar farm, with panels covering more than seven square miles '-- one of the world's largest clean-energy projects. When the sun shines over the Topaz Solar Farm, the shimmering panels produce enough electricity to power all of the residential homes in a city the size of Long Beach, population 475,000.
A construction crew installs rails to support some of the 9 million solar panels at the Topaz Solar Farm near San Luis Obispo. (Joe Johnston / San Luis Obispo Tribune) The Topaz Solar Farm, one of the world's largest solar plants, blankets the Carrizo Plain in the Central Valley. It supplies electricity to Pacific Gas & Electric Co. (NASA)Other large-scale solar operations blanket swaths of the Mojave Desert, which has increasingly become a sun-soaking energy hub. The Beacon solar project covers nearly two square miles and the Ivanpah plant covers about five and a half square miles.
The state's three big shareholder-owned utilities now count themselves among the biggest solar power producers. Southern California Edison produces or buys more than 7% of its electricity from solar generators, Pacific Gas & Electric 13% and San Diego Gas & Electric 22%.
Similarly, fly over any sizable city and you'll see warehouses, businesses and parking lots with rooftop solar installations, and many homes as well.
With a glut of solar power at times, CAISO has two main options to avoid a system overload: order some solar and wind farms to temporarily halt operations or divert the excess power to other states.
That's because too much electricity can overload the transmission system and result in power outages, just as too little can. Complicating matters is that even when CAISO requires large-scale solar plants to shut off panels, it can't control solar rooftop installations that are churning out electricity.
CAISO is being forced to juggle this surplus more and more.
In 2015, solar and wind production were curtailed about 15% of the time on average during a 24-hour period. That rose to 21% in 2016 and 31% in the first few months of this year. The surge in solar production accounts for most of this, though heavy rainfall has increased hydroelectric power production in the state this year, adding to the surplus of renewables.
Source info is Benton Gothic Reg. 28/34pt. your name / @latimesgraphics Head: Benton Gothic Bold 52 pt Intro: Benton Gothic Reg. 32/42 pt. #58595b. Keep it short, please. It really helps. In fact, avoid chatter if possible. July '14 Jan. '15 July Jan. '16 July Jan. '17 0 30K 60K 90K 0 30,000 60,000 Volume of power curtailments (in megawatt-hours) Data: abcdefg hijkl mnop qrstu vwxyz 1234 56789 P. Krishnakumar / @latimesgraphics Source: Cal-ISO March '1782,083megawatt-hours Pulling the plug California's clean energy supply is growing so fast that solar and wind producers are increasingly being ordered to halt production.Even when solar production is curtailed, the state can produce more than it uses, because it is difficult to calibrate supply and demand precisely. As more homeowners install rooftop solar, for example, their panels can send more electricity to the grid than anticipated on some days, while the state's overall power usage might fall below what was expected.
This means that CAISO increasingly has excess solar and wind power it can send to Arizona, Nevada and other states.
When those states need more electricity than they are producing, they pay California for the power. But California has excess power on a growing number of days when neighboring states don't need it, so California has to pay them to take it. CAISO calls that ''negative pricing.''
Why does California have to pay rather than simply give the power away free?
When there isn't demand for all the power the state is producing, CAISO needs to quickly sell the excess to avoid overloading the electricity grid, which can cause blackouts. Basic economics kick in. Oversupply causes prices to fall, even below zero. That's because Arizona has to curtail its own sources of electricity to take California's power when it doesn't really need it, which can cost money. So Arizona will use power from California at times like this only if it has an economic incentive '-- which means being paid.
In the first two months of this year, CAISO paid to send excess power to other states seven times more often than same period in 2014. ''Negative pricing'' happened in an average of 18% of all sales, versus about 2.5% in the same period in 2014.
Most ''negative pricing'' typically has occurred for relatively short periods at midday, when solar production is highest.
But what happened in March shows how the growing supply of solar power could have a much greater impact in the future. The periods of ''negative pricing'' lasted longer than in the past '-- often for six hours at a time, and once for eight hours, according to a CAISO report.
The excess power problem will ease somewhat in the summer, when electricity usage is about 50% higher in California than in the winter.
But CAISO concedes that curtailments and ''negative pricing'' is likely to happen even more often in the future as solar power production continues to grow, unless action is taken to better manage the excess electricity.
The sprawling Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, owned by NRG Energy and BrightSource Energy, occupies 5.5 square miles in the Mojave Desert. The plant can supply electricity to 180,000 Pacific Gas & Electric and Southern California Edison customers. (Mark Boster/Los Angeles Times)Arizona's largest utility, Arizona Public Service, is one of the biggest beneficiaries of California's largesse because it is next door and the power can easily be sent there on transmission lines.
On days that Arizona is paid to take California's excess solar power, Arizona Public Service says it has cut its own solar generation rather than fossil fuel power. So California's excess solar isn't reducing greenhouse gases when that happens.
CAISO says it does not calculate how much it has paid others so far this year to take excess electricity. But its recent oversupply report indicated that it frequently paid buyers as much as $25 per megawatt-hour to get them to take excess power, according to the Energy Information Administration.
That's a good deal for Arizona, which uses what it is paid by California to reduce its own customers' electricity bills. Utility buyers typically pay an average of $14 to $45 per megawatt-hour for electricity when there isn't a surplus from high solar power production.
With solar power surging so much that it is sometimes curtailed, does California need to spend $6 billion to $8 billion to build or refurbish eight natural gas power plants that have received preliminary approval from regulators, especially as legislative leaders want to accelerate the move away from fossil fuel energy?
The answer depends on whom you ask.
Utilities have repeatedly said yes. State regulators have agreed until now, approving almost all proposals for new power plants. But this month, citing the growing electricity surplus, regulators announced plans to put on hold the earlier approvals of four of the eight plants to determine if they really are needed.
Big utilities continue to push for all of the plants, maintaining that building natural gas plants doesn't conflict with expanding solar power. They say both paths are necessary to ensure that California has reliable sources of power '-- wherever and whenever it is needed.
The biggest industrial solar power plants, they note, produce electricity in the desert, in some cases hundreds of miles from population centers where most power is used.
At times of peak demand, transmission lines can get congested, like Los Angeles highways. That's why CAISO, utilities and regulators argue that new natural gas plants are needed closer to big cities. In addition, they say, the state needs ample electricity sources when the sun isn't shining and the wind isn't blowing enough.
Utility critics agree that some redundancy is needed to guarantee reliability, but they contend that the state already has more than enough.
California has so much surplus electricity that existing power plants run, on average, at slightly less than one-third of capacity. And some plants are being closed decades earlier than planned.
As for congestion, critics note that the state already is crisscrossed with an extensive network of transmission lines. Building more plants and transmission lines wouldn't make the power system much more reliable, but would mean higher profits for utilities, critics say.
That is what the debate is about, said Jaleh Firooz, a power industry consultant who previously worked as an engineer for San Diego Gas & Electric for 24 years and helped in the formation of CAISO.
''They have the lopsided incentive of building more,'' she said.
Jaleh Firooz, who worked 24 years as an engineer for San Diego Gas & Electric Co., says utilities seeking higher profits ''have the lopsided incentive of building more'' power plants and transmission lines. (Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times)The reason: Once state regulators approve new plants or transmission lines, the cost is now built into the amount that the utility can charge electricity users '-- no matter how much or how little it is used.
Given that technology is rapidly tilting the competitive advantage toward solar power, there are less expensive and cleaner ways to make the transition toward renewable energy, she said.
To buttress her argument, Firooz pointed to a battle in recent years over a natural gas plant in Redondo Beach.
Independent power producer AES Southland in 2012 proposed replacing an aging facility there with a new one. The estimated cost: $250 million to $275 million, an amount that customers would pay off with higher electricity bills.
CAISO and Southern California Edison, which was going to buy power from the new plant, supported it as necessary to protect against potential power interruptions. Though solar and wind power production was increasing, they said those sources couldn't be counted on because their production is variable, not constant.
The California Public Utilities Commission approved the project, agreeing that it was needed to meet the long-term electricity needs in the L.A. area.
But the California Coastal Conservancy, a conservation group opposed to the plant, commissioned an analysis by Firooz to determine how vital it was. Her conclusion: not at all.
Firooz calculated that the L.A. region already had excess power production capacity '-- even without the new plant '-- at least through 2020.
Along with the cushion, her report found, a combination of improved energy efficiency, local solar production, storage and other planning strategies would be more than sufficient to handle the area's power needs even as the population grew.
She questioned utility arguments.
''In their assumptions, the amount of capacity they give to the solar is way, way undercut because they have to say, 'What if it's cloudy? What if the wind is not blowing?' '' Firooz explained. ''That's how the game is played. You build these scenarios so that it basically justifies what you want.''
In their assumptions, the amount of capacity they give to the solar is way, way undercut because they have to say, 'What if it's cloudy?'
'-- Jaleh Firooz, power-industry consultant
Undeterred, AES Southland pressed forward with its proposal. In 2013, Firooz updated her analysis at the request of the city of Redondo Beach, which was skeptical that a new plant was needed. Her findings remained the same.
Nonetheless, the state Public Utilities Commission approved the project in March 2014 on the grounds that it was needed. But the California Energy Commission, another regulatory agency whose approval for new plants is required along with the PUC's, sided with the critics. In November 2015 it suspended the project, effectively killing it.
Asked about the plant, AES said it followed the appropriate processes in seeking approval. It declined to say whether it still thinks that a new plant is needed.
The existing facility is expected to close in 2020.
A March 2017 state report showed why critics are confident that the area will be fine without a new plant: The need for power from Redondo Beach's existing four natural gas units has been so low, the state found, that the units have operated at less than 5% of their capacity during the last four years.
Contact the reporter. For more coverage follow @ivanlpenn
Credits: Times data editor Ben Welsh and staff writer Ryan Menezes contributed to this report. Illustrations by Eben McCue. Graphics by Priya Krishnakumar and Thomas Suh Lauder. Produced by Sean Greene
Just 96 months to save world, says Prince Charles | The Independent
Thu, 29 Jun 2017 12:18
Capitalism and consumerism have brought the world to the brink of economic and environmental collapse, the Prince of Wales has warned in a grandstand speech which set out his concerns for the future of the planet.
The heir to the throne told an audience of industrialists and environmentalists at St James's Palace last night that he had calculated that we have just 96 months left to save the world.
And in a searing indictment on capitalist society, Charles said we can no longer afford consumerism and that the "age of convenience" was over.
The Prince, who has spoken passionately about the environment before, said that if the world failed to heed his warnings then we all faced the "nightmare that for so many of us now looms on the horizon".
Charles's speech was described as his first attempt to present a coherent philosophy in which he placed the threat to the environment in the context of a failing economic system.
The Prince, who is advised by the leading environmentalists Jonathon Porritt and Tony Juniper, said that even the economist Adam Smith, father of modern capitalism, had been aware of the short-comings of unfettered materialism.
Delivering the annual Richard Dimbleby lecture, Charles said that without "coherent financial incentives and disincentives" we have just 96 months to avert "irretrievable climate and ecosystem collapse, and all that goes with it."
Charles has recently courted controversy by intervening in planning disputes, most notably the battle over the Chelsea Barracks design in London. It is also known that he writes privately to ministers when he wishes to put his concerns on record.
Now, he seems more willing to embrace much wider political issues in a much more public forum.
He confided last night: "We face the dual challenges of a world view and an economic system that seem to have enormous shortcomings, together with an environmental crisis '' including that of climate change '' which threatens to engulf us all."
Despite his attack on the materialism of the modern age, the Prince has been criticised for his own indulgences, including dozens of staff to run his homes and hundreds of thousands of pounds spent travelling around the world. While his private estates on the Duchy of Cornwall generate record profits his tax bill was lower than the year before.
Last night the Prince said: "But for all its achievements, our consumerist society comes at an enormous cost to the Earth and we must face up to the fact that the Earth cannot afford to support it. Just as our banking sector is struggling with its debts '' and paradoxically also facing calls for a return to so-called 'old-fashioned', traditional banking '' so Nature's life-support systems are failing to cope with the debts we have built up there too.
"If we don't face up to this, then Nature, the biggest bank of all, could go bust. And no amount of quantitative easing will revive it."
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President Barack Obama Knew Russia Hacked Election 2016 to Elect Donald Trump
Tue, 27 Jun 2017 02:18
It so happens that Friday is an official Ratfcking Holiday, and a very important one. It's June 23 or, as we who celebrate it like to call it, Smoking Gun Day. It was 45 years ago to the day that H.R. Haldeman stopped by the Oval Office and, with a tape recorder whirring merrily away in a drawer, he and Richard Nixon discussed how to get the CIA to turn off the FBI's investigation of Watergate because that investigation was moving into "some productive areas." They talked about ripping scabs open, and "that whole Bay of Pigs thing," and having Walters tell Gray not to go into this thing any further, period. "All I can conclude," Patrick Buchanan reportedly said when this tape finally came to light, "is that the old man has been shitting us."
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So, in honor of the day, The Washington Post comes up with an amazing tale of the way ratfcking is done in the modern era. It begins with a top-secret communique delivered to President Barack Obama last August.
Inside was an intelligence bombshell, a report drawn from sourcing deep inside the Russian government that detailed Russian President Vladi­mir Putin's direct involvement in a cyber campaign to disrupt and discredit the U.S. presidential race. But it went further. The intelligence captured Putin's specific instructions on the operation's audacious objectives '-- defeat or at least damage the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, and help elect her opponent, Donald Trump.
The dynamite, she go boom.
At that point, the outlines of the Russian assault on the U.S. election were increasingly apparent. Hackers with ties to Russian intelligence services had been rummaging through Democratic Party computer networks, as well as some Republican systems, for more than a year. In July, the FBI had opened an investigation of contacts between Russian officials and Trump associates. And on July 22, nearly 20,000 emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee were dumped online by WikiLeaks.
I seem to remember this remarkable coincidence.
The Constitution Simply Was Not Built for This
The piece is too long, too well reported, and too detailed to summarize in block quotes, but what it makes sadly clear is that the culture of secrecy within the intelligence community worked invariably to empower the ratfcking, rather than to hinder it.
Over that five-month interval, the Obama administration secretly debated dozens of options for deterring or punishing Russia, including cyberattacks on Russian infrastructure, the release of CIA-gathered material that might embarrass Putin and sanctions that officials said could "crater" the Russian economy.
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All well and good. Go get 'em, tiger.
However, like so many things about the Obama administration, the response to what the Russians did was measured and allegedly proportional. ("I feel like we choked," one official told the Post.) But, you may ask, what about the election that was going on at the same time the Obama administration was retaliating for Russian interference in its process?
They were concerned that any pre-election response could provoke an escalation from Putin. Moscow's meddling to that point was seen as deeply concerning but unlikely to materially affect the outcome of the election. Far more worrisome to the Obama team was the prospect of a cyber-assault on voting systems before and on Election Day. They also worried that any action they took would be perceived as political interference in an already volatile campaign. By August, Trump was predicting that the election would be rigged. Obama officials feared providing fuel to such claims, playing into Russia's efforts to discredit the outcome and potentially contaminating the expected Clinton triumph.
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Ministry of Truth
MTV News Reorganizes, Targets Younger Audience With Video Shift | Variety
Thu, 29 Jun 2017 11:43
MTV News is being restructured with an eye toward creating more video and short-form content for a younger audience, Variety has learned.
The move comes seven months after Chris McCarthy was named president of MTV, and on the heels of a reorganization of the network's linear-programming department. The transition will see resources shift from long-form journalism to the development of short-form video pieces.
Among the most significant changes '-- MTV has reached an agreement with the Writers Guild of America East to represent MTV News staff members. As part of that agreement, MTV News is parting ways with fewer than a dozen staffers and several freelancers. The news division is in the process of hiring additional personnel to focus on video and short-form content.
Plans to reorganize the news division had been in the works prior to February, when the WGA East notified MTV that it would seek a contract on behalf of MTV News employees. MTV alerted the WGA East prior to beginning negotiations that it had already initiated plans to reorganize the news division. Severance for the departing staff members was negotiated by the WGA East.
MTV News had, since late 2015 and the addition of several writers and editors who had previously worked at the website Grantland, pursued a strategy designed to age up its digital audience. That strategy focused on the sort of long-form journalism that had drawn Grantland a devoted following and praise in media circles, with many article ranging from 4,000 to 6,000 words long.
Former editorial chief Dan Fierman, who had been editorial director at Grantland, departed MTV News in April.
Since 2015, according to network insiders, overall traffic for MTV News' digital content has declined. According to Omniture, average number of unique views for MTV News editorial content was down 64% for the period of October 2016 to June 2017 versus the period of October 2014 to June 2017 '-- fiscal 2015, prior to Fierman's hire, versus the current fiscal year. By the same measure, time spent was down 59%. Traffic for editorial video streams was down 97%.
According to Comscore, engagement time on MTV.com had been on the uptick, from an average 3.6 minutes in November to 4 minutes in February. That number measure all MTV.com content, including but not limited to news.
MTV is one of six ''flagship'' brands identified in February by Viacom CEO Bob Bakish as the focus of an overhaul of the company's cable division. McCarthy has worked quickly since adding MTV to a portfolio that already included VH1 and Logo to revamp the channel's executive team in linear programming and marketing. The rehab effort has included a move away from scripted programming with the cancellation of low-rated series such as ''Sweet/Vicious,'' ''Mary and Jane,'' and ''Loosely Exactly Nicole'' '-- the latter set to be revived by Facebook as its first original television-style series. MTV has pivoted toward the sort of unscripted shows that had long been staples for the channel with new series ''Promposal'' and reboots of ''My Super Sweet 16'' and ''Fear Factor.''
In average viewers 18-34, MTV is up 3% in June from the same month last year, according to Nielsen live-plus-same day numbers '-- the first time the network has experienced year-over-year gains in its target demo since 2011. ''Promposal'' and ''My Super Sweet 16'' have significantly outperformed MTV original-series averages among women 18-24 as the network attempt to grow its audience in younger demos.
The Washington Post's New Social Media Policy Forbids Disparaging Advertisers | Washingtonian
Thu, 29 Jun 2017 12:15
You can be fired if your social-media activity "adversely affects The Post's customers, advertisers, subscribers, vendors, suppliers or partners."
Photograph by Evy Mages.
A new social-media policy at the Washington Post prohibits conduct on social media that ''adversely affects The Post's customers, advertisers, subscribers, vendors, suppliers or partners.'' In such cases, Post management reserves the right to take disciplinary action ''up to and including termination of employment.''
The Post's Guild sent out a bulletin Sunday night protesting the policy. ''If you're like most of us, you probably acknowledged its receipt without reading it,'' says the note, which was written by Guild co-chair Fredrick Kunkle. ''But what you don't know could hurt you.''
The guild wants to jettison other parts of the policy, which the Post confirms to Washingtonian went into effect on May 1 and applies to the entire company:
A provision that prohibits employees from ''Disparaging the products and services of The Post's advertisers, subscribers, competitors, business partners or vendors.''A demand that employees ''Refrain from using social media while on your work time, unless using Social Media is an authorized part of your job.''A clause that encourages employees to snitch on one another: ''If you have any reason to believe that an employee may be in violation of The Post's Social Media Policy '... you should contact the Post's Human Resources Department.''The Post ''assures us that no one would get in trouble for such social media activity,'' Kunkle writes in the update, which is titled ''The Post's Social Media Mayhem.'' He continues: ''But that's the way the policy is written.'' The Post declined to comment on the policy to Washingtonian.
On May 30, perhaps not coincidentally just after a Denver Post journalist was fired after sending a racist tweet, Post employees received an email from deputy managing editor Tracy Grant that took ''an opportunity to remind people of their obligations under the newsroom's social media policy.'' The policy with which many in the newsroom are familiar dates back to September 2011 and looks it'--journalists are warned not to ''place tokens, badges or virtual gifts from political or partisan causes on pages or sites,'' for instance.
It is, in other words, a guideline. That's the form news organizations' social media policies often take''''Don't write or post anything that would embarrass the LAT or compromise your ability to do your job'' reads a vintage Los Angeles Times policy. The New York Times' policy is likewise guideline-y: Remember that what you do is public, and that ''your online behavior should be appropriate for a Times journalist,'' Philip B.Corbett, the paper's associate managing editor for standards put it in 2012. (In an email, Corbett writes those are ''still the operative principles.'' Neither policy mentions advertisers or consequences for people who stray from the rules.)
In fact, for a once-internet-agnostic organization that has since become a pageview powerhouse, the Post's insistence on separating social media activity from the rest of employee conduct feels oddly fuddy-duddyish. (I thought it might be instructive to see what the social media policy is like at Amazon, which like the Post is owned by Jeff Bezos. The retailer has yet to respond to an request to read any such policy if it exists.)
The Guild says it became aware of the new policy on April 25 and is trying to remove these provisions from the policy as it pursues a new labor agreement with Post management, Kunkle tells Washingtonian. The Guild's current agreement with the Post expired on June 10, and Kunkle says they've had about five meetings so far.
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President Trump's Lies, the Definitive List - The New York Times
Tue, 27 Jun 2017 12:29
Many Americans have become accustomed to President Trump's lies. But as regular as they have become, the country should not allow itself to become numb to them. So we have catalogued nearly every outright lie he has told publicly since taking the oath of office.
Jan. 21 ''I wasn't a fan of Iraq. I didn't want to go into Iraq.'' (He was for an invasion before he was against it.) Jan. 21 ''A reporter for Time magazine '-- and I have been on their cover 14 or 15 times. I think we have the all-time record in the history of Time magazine.'' (Trump was on the cover 11 times and Nixon appeared 55 times.) Jan. 23 ''Between 3 million and 5 million illegal votes caused me to lose the popular vote.'' (There's no evidence of illegal voting.) Jan. 25 ''Now, the audience was the biggest ever. But this crowd was massive. Look how far back it goes. This crowd was massive.'' (Official aerial photos show Obama's 2009 inauguration was much more heavily attended.) Jan. 25 ''Take a look at the Pew reports (which show voter fraud.)'' (The report never mentioned voter fraud.) Jan. 25 ''You had millions of people that now aren't insured anymore.'' (The real number is less than 1 million, according to the Urban Institute.) Jan. 25 ''So, look, when President Obama was there two weeks ago making a speech, very nice speech. Two people were shot and killed during his speech. You can't have that.'' (There were no gun homicide victims in Chicago that day.) Jan. 26 ''We've taken in tens of thousands of people. We know nothing about them. They can say they vet them. They didn't vet them. They have no papers. How can you vet somebody when you don't know anything about them and you have no papers? How do you vet them? You can't.'' (Vetting lasts up to two years.) Jan. 26 ''I cut off hundreds of millions of dollars off one particular plane, hundreds of millions of dollars in a short period of time. It wasn't like I spent, like, weeks, hours, less than hours, and many, many hundreds of millions of dollars. And the plane's going to be better.'' (Most of the cuts were already planned.) Jan. 28 ''The coverage about me in the @nytimes and the @washingtonpost has been so false and angry that the Times actually apologized to its dwindling subscribers and readers.'' (It never apologized.) Jan. 29 ''The Cuban-Americans, I got 84 percent of that vote.'' (There is no support for this.) Jan. 30 ''Only 109 people out of 325,000 were detained and held for questioning. Big problems at airports were caused by Delta computer outage.'' (At least 746 people were detained and processed, and the Delta outage happened two days later.) Feb. 3 ''Professional anarchists, thugs and paid protesters are proving the point of the millions of people who voted to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!'' (There is no evidence of paid protesters.) Feb. 4 ''After being forced to apologize for its bad and inaccurate coverage of me after winning the election, the FAKE NEWS @nytimes is still lost!'' (It never apologized.) Feb. 5 ''We had 109 people out of hundreds of thousands of travelers and all we did was vet those people very, very carefully.'' (About 60,000 people were affected.) Feb. 6 ''I have already saved more than $700 million when I got involved in the negotiation on the F-35.'' (Much of the price drop was projected before Trump took office.) Feb. 6 ''It's gotten to a point where it is not even being reported. And in many cases, the very, very dishonest press doesn't want to report it.'' (Terrorism has been reported on, often in detail.) Feb. 6 ''The failing @nytimes was forced to apologize to its subscribers for the poor reporting it did on my election win. Now they are worse!'' (It didn't apologize.) Feb. 6 ''And the previous administration allowed it to happen because we shouldn't have been in Iraq, but we shouldn't have gotten out the way we got out. It created a vacuum, ISIS was formed.'' (The group's origins date to 2004.) Feb. 7 ''And yet the murder rate in our country is the highest it's been in 47 years, right? Did you know that? Forty-seven years.'' (It was higher in the 1980s and '90s.) Feb. 7 ''I saved more than $600 million. I got involved in negotiation on a fighter jet, the F-35.'' (The Defense Department projected this price drop before Trump took office.) Feb. 9 ''Chris Cuomo, in his interview with Sen. Blumenthal, never asked him about his long-term lie about his brave 'service' in Vietnam. FAKE NEWS!'' (It was part of Cuomo's first question.) Feb. 9 Sen. Richard Blumenthal ''now misrepresents what Judge Gorsuch told him?'' (The Gorsuch comments were later corroborated.) Feb. 10 ''I don't know about it. I haven't seen it. What report is that?'' (Trump knew about Flynn's actions for weeks.) Feb. 12 ''Just leaving Florida. Big crowds of enthusiastic supporters lining the road that the FAKE NEWS media refuses to mention. Very dishonest!'' (The media did cover it.) Feb. 16 ''We got 306 because people came out and voted like they've never seen before so that's the way it goes. I guess it was the biggest Electoral College win since Ronald Reagan.'' (George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama all won bigger margins in the Electoral College.) Feb. 16 ''That's the other thing that was wrong with the travel ban. You had Delta with a massive problem with their computer system at the airports.'' (Delta's problems happened two days later.) Feb. 16 ''Walmart announced it will create 10,000 jobs in the United States just this year because of our various plans and initiatives.'' (The jobs are a result of its investment plans announced in October 2016.) Feb. 16 ''When WikiLeaks, which I had nothing to do with, comes out and happens to give, they're not giving classified information.'' (Not always. They have released classified information in the past.) Feb. 16 ''We had a very smooth rollout of the travel ban. But we had a bad court. Got a bad decision.'' (The rollout was chaotic.) Feb. 16 ''They're giving stuff '-- what was said at an office about Hillary cheating on the debates. Which, by the way, nobody mentions. Nobody mentions that Hillary received the questions to the debates.'' (It was widely covered.) Feb. 18 ''And there was no way to vet those people. There was no documentation. There was no nothing.'' (Refugees receive multiple background checks, taking up to two years.) Feb. 18 ''You look at what's happening in Germany, you look at what's happening last night in Sweden. Sweden, who would believe this?'' (Trump implied there was a terror attack in Sweden, but there was no such attack.) Feb. 24 ''By the way, you folks are in here '-- this place is packed, there are lines that go back six blocks.'' (There was no evidence of long lines.) Feb. 24 ''ICE came and endorsed me.'' (Only its union did.) Feb. 24 ''Obamacare covers very few people '-- and remember, deduct from the number all of the people that had great health care that they loved that was taken away from them '-- it was taken away from them.'' (Obamacare increased coverage by a net of about 20 million.) Feb. 27 ''Since Obamacare went into effect, nearly half of the insurers are stopped and have stopped from participating in the Obamacare exchanges.'' (Many fewer pulled out.) Feb. 27 ''On one plane, on a small order of one plane, I saved $725 million. And I would say I devoted about, if I added it up, all those calls, probably about an hour. So I think that might be my highest and best use.'' (Much of the price cut was already projected.) Feb. 28 ''And now, based on our very strong and frank discussions, they are beginning to do just that.'' (NATO countries agreed to meet defense spending requirements in 2014.) Feb. 28 ''The E.P.A.'s regulators were putting people out of jobs by the hundreds of thousands.'' (There's no evidence that the Waters of the United States rule caused severe job losses.) Feb. 28 ''We have begun to drain the swamp of government corruption by imposing a five-year ban on lobbying by executive branch officials.'' (They can't lobby their former agency but can still become lobbyists.) March 3 ''It is so pathetic that the Dems have still not approved my full Cabinet.'' (Paperwork for the last two candidates was still not submitted to the Senate.) March 4 ''Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my 'wires tapped' in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!'' (There's no evidence of a wiretap.) March 4 ''How low has President Obama gone to tap my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!'' (There's no evidence of a wiretap.) March 7 ''122 vicious prisoners, released by the Obama Administration from Gitmo, have returned to the battlefield. Just another terrible decision!'' (113 of them were released by President George W. Bush.) March 13 ''I saved a lot of money on those jets, didn't I? Did I do a good job? More than $725 million on them.'' (Much of the cost cuts were planned before Trump.) March 13 ''First of all, it covers very few people.'' (About 20 million people gained insurance under Obamacare.) March 15 ''On the airplanes, I saved $725 million. Probably took me a half an hour if you added up all of the times.'' (Much of the cost cuts were planned before Trump.) March 17 ''I was in Tennessee '-- I was just telling the folks '-- and half of the state has no insurance company, and the other half is going to lose the insurance company.'' (There's at least one insurer in every Tennessee county.) March 20 ''With just one negotiation on one set of airplanes, I saved the taxpayers of our country over $700 million.'' (Much of the cost cuts were planned before Trump.) March 21 ''To save taxpayer dollars, I've already begun negotiating better contracts for the federal government '-- saving over $700 million on just one set of airplanes of which there are many sets.'' (Much of the cost cuts were planned before Trump.) March 22 ''I make the statement, everyone goes crazy. The next day they have a massive riot, and death, and problems.'' (Riots in Sweden broke out two days later and there were no deaths.) March 22 ''NATO, obsolete, because it doesn't cover terrorism. They fixed that.'' (It has fought terrorism since the 1980s.) March 22 ''Well, now, if you take a look at the votes, when I say that, I mean mostly they register wrong '-- in other words, for the votes, they register incorrectly and/or illegally. And they then vote. You have tremendous numbers of people.'' (There's no evidence of widespread voter fraud.) March 29 ''Remember when the failing @nytimes apologized to its subscribers, right after the election, because their coverage was so wrong. Now worse!'' (It didn't apologize.) March 31 ''We have a lot of plants going up now in Michigan that were never going to be there if I '-- if I didn't win this election, those plants would never even think about going back. They were gone.'' (These investments were already planned.) April 2 ''And I was totally opposed to the war in the Middle East which I think finally has been proven, people tried very hard to say I wasn't but you've seen that it is now improving.'' (He was for an invasion before he was against it.) April 2 ''Now, my last tweet '-- you know, the one that you are talking about, perhaps '-- was the one about being, in quotes, wiretapped, meaning surveilled. Guess what, it is turning out to be true.'' (There is still no evidence.) April 5 ''You have many states coming up where they're going to have no insurance company. O.K.? It's already happened in Tennessee. It's happening in Kentucky. Tennessee only has half coverage. Half the state is gone. They left.'' (Every marketplace region in Tennessee had at least one insurer.) April 6 ''If you look at the kind of cost-cutting we've been able to achieve with the military and at the same time ordering vast amounts of equipment '-- saved hundreds of millions of dollars on airplanes, and really billions, because if you take that out over a period of years it's many billions of dollars '-- I think we've had a tremendous success.'' (Much of the price cuts were already projected.) April 11 ''I like Steve, but you have to remember he was not involved in my campaign until very late. I had already beaten all the senators and all the governors, and I didn't know Steve.'' (He knew Steve Bannon since 2011.) April 12 ''You can't do it faster, because they're obstructing. They're obstructionists. So I have people '-- hundreds of people that we're trying to get through. I mean you have '-- you see the backlog. We can't get them through.'' (At this point, he had not nominated anyone for hundreds of positions.) April 12 ''The New York Times said the word wiretapped in the headline of the first edition. Then they took it out of there fast when they realized.'' (There were separate headlines for print and web, but neither were altered.) April 12 ''The secretary general and I had a productive discussion about what more NATO can do in the fight against terrorism. I complained about that a long time ago and they made a change, and now they do fight terrorism.'' (NATO has been engaged in counterterrorism efforts since the 1980s.) April 12 ''Mosul was supposed to last for a week and now they've been fighting it for many months and so many more people died.'' (The campaign was expected to take months.) April 16 ''Someone should look into who paid for the small organized rallies yesterday. The election is over!'' (There's no evidence of paid protesters.) April 18 ''The fake media goes, 'Donald Trump changed his stance on China.' I haven't changed my stance.'' (He did.) April 21 ''On 90 planes I saved $725 million. It's actually a little bit more than that, but it's $725 million.'' (Much of the price cuts were already projected.) April 21 ''When WikiLeaks came out '... never heard of WikiLeaks, never heard of it.'' (He criticized it as early as 2010.) April 27 ''I want to help our miners while the Democrats are blocking their healthcare.'' (The bill to extend health benefits for certain coal miners was introduced by a Democrat and was co-sponsored by mostly Democrats.) April 28 ''The trade deficit with Mexico is close to $70 billion, even with Canada it's $17 billion trade deficit with Canada.'' (The U.S. had an $8.1 billion trade surplus, not deficit, with Canada in 2016.) April 28 ''She's running against someone who's going to raise your taxes to the sky, destroy your health care, and he's for open borders '-- lots of crime.'' (Those are not Jon Ossoff's positions.) April 28 ''The F-35 fighter jet program '-- it was way over budget. I've saved $725 million plus, just by getting involved in the negotiation.'' (Much of the price cuts were planned before Trump.) April 29 ''They're incompetent, dishonest people who after an election had to apologize because they covered it, us, me, but all of us, they covered it so badly that they felt they were forced to apologize because their predictions were so bad.'' (The Times did not apologize.) April 29 ''As you know, I've been a big critic of China, and I've been talking about currency manipulation for a long time. But I have to tell you that during the election, number one, they stopped.'' (China stopped years ago.) April 29 ''I've already saved more than $725 million on a simple order of F-35 planes. I got involved in the negotiation.'' (Much of the price cuts were planned before Trump.) April 29 ''We're also getting NATO countries to finally step up and contribute their fair share. They've begun to increase their contributions by billions of dollars, but we are not going to be satisfied until everyone pays what they owe.'' (The deal was struck in 2014.) April 29 ''When they talk about currency manipulation, and I did say I would call China, if they were, a currency manipulator, early in my tenure. And then I get there. Number one, they '-- as soon as I got elected, they stopped.'' (China stopped in 2014.) April 29 ''I was negotiating to reduce the price of the big fighter jet contract, the F-35, which was totally out of control. I will save billions and billions and billions of dollars.'' (Most of the cuts were planned before Trump.) April 29 ''I think our side's been proven very strongly. And everybody's talking about it.'' (There's still no evidence Trump's phones were tapped.) May 1 ''Well, we are protecting pre-existing conditions. And it'll be every good '-- bit as good on pre-existing conditions as Obamacare.'' (The bill weakens protections for people with pre-existing conditions.) May 1 ''The F-35 fighter jet '-- I saved '-- I got involved in the negotiation. It's 2,500 jets. I negotiated for 90 planes, lot 10. I got $725 million off the price.'' (Much of the price cuts were planned before Trump.) May 1 ''First of all, since I started running, they haven't increased their '-- you know, they have not manipulated their currency. I think that was out of respect to me and the campaign.'' (China stopped years ago.) May 2 ''I love buying those planes at a reduced price. I have been really '-- I have cut billions '-- I have to tell you this, and they can check, right, Martha? I have cut billions and billions of dollars off plane contracts sitting here.'' (Much of the cost cuts were planned before Trump.) May 4 ''Number two, they're actually not a currency [manipulator]. You know, since I've been talking about currency manipulation with respect to them and other countries, they stopped.'' (China stopped years ago.) May 4 ''We're the highest-taxed nation in the world.'' (We're not.) May 4 ''Nobody cares about my tax return except for the reporters.'' (Polls show most Americans do care.) May 8 ''You know we've gotten billions of dollars more in NATO than we're getting. All because of me.'' (The deal was struck in 2014.) May 8 ''But when I did his show, which by the way was very highly rated. It was high '-- highest rating. The highest rating he's ever had.'' (Colbert's ''Late Show'' debut had nearly two million more viewers.) May 8 ''Director Clapper reiterated what everybody, including the fake media already knows '-- there is 'no evidence' of collusion w/ Russia and Trump.'' (Clapper only said he wasn't aware of an investigation.) May 12 ''Again, the story that there was collusion between the Russians & Trump campaign was fabricated by Dems as an excuse for losing the election.'' (The F.B.I. was investigating before the election.) May 12 ''When James Clapper himself, and virtually everyone else with knowledge of the witch hunt, says there is no collusion, when does it end?'' (Clapper said he wouldn't have been told of an investigation into collusion.) May 13 ''I'm cutting the price of airplanes with Lockheed.'' (The cost cuts were planned before he became president.) May 26 ''Just arrived in Italy for the G7. Trip has been very successful. We made and saved the USA many billions of dollars and millions of jobs.'' (He's referencing an arms deal that's not enacted and other apparent deals that weren't announced on the trip.) June 1 ''China will be allowed to build hundreds of additional coal plants. So, we can't build the plants, but they can, according to this agreement. India will be allowed to double its coal production by 2020.'' (The agreement doesn't allow or disallow building coal plants.) June 1 ''I've just returned from a trip overseas where we concluded nearly $350 billion of military and economic development for the United States, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs.'' (Trump's figures are inflated and premature.) June 4 ''At least 7 dead and 48 wounded in terror attack and Mayor of London says there is 'no reason to be alarmed!''' (The mayor was specifically talking about the enlarged police presence on the streets.) June 5 ''The Justice Dept. should have stayed with the original Travel Ban, not the watered down, politically correct version they submitted to S.C.'' (Trump signed this version of the travel ban, not the Justice Department.) June 21 ''They all say it's 'nonbinding.' Like hell it's nonbinding.'' (The Paris climate agreement is nonbinding '-- and Trump said so in his speech announcing the withdrawal.) June 21 ''Right now, we are one of the highest-taxed nations in the world.'' (We're not.) All the President's Lies
President Trump's political rise was built on a lie (about Barack Obama's birthplace). His lack of truthfulness has also become central to the Russia investigation, with James Comey, the former director of the F.B.I., testifying under oath about Trump's ''lies, plain and simple.''
There is simply no precedent for an American president to spend so much time telling untruths. Every president has shaded the truth or told occasional whoppers. No other president '-- of either party '-- has behaved as Trump is behaving. He is trying to create an atmosphere in which reality is irrelevant.
We have set a conservative standard here, leaving out many dubious statements (like the claim that his travel ban is ''similar'' to Obama administration policy). Some people may still take issue with this standard, arguing that the president wasn't speaking literally. But we believe his long pattern of using untruths to serve his purposes, as a businessman and politician, means that his statements are not simply careless errors.
We are using the word ''lie'' deliberately. Not every falsehood is deliberate on Trump's part. But it would be the height of na¯vet(C) to imagine he is merely making honest mistakes. He is lying.
Trump Told Public Lies or Falsehoods Every Day for His First 40 Days
The list above uses the conservative standard of demonstrably false statements. By that standard, Trump told a public lie on at least 20 of his first 40 days as president. But based on a broader standard '-- one that includes his many misleading statements (like exaggerating military spending in the Middle East) '-- Trump achieved something remarkable: He said something untrue, in public, every day for the first 40 days of his presidency. The streak didn't end until March 1.
Didn't tell a public lie or falsehood
First day without
a public lie
or falsehood
Visited a Trump property
and told no public
lie or falsehood
Didn't tell a public lie or falsehood
First day without
a public lie
or falsehood
Visited a Trump
property and told no
public lie or falsehood
Since then, he has said something untrue on at least 74 of 113 days. On days without an untrue statement, he is often absent from Twitter, vacationing at Mar-a-Lago in Florida, or busy golfing.
The end of May was another period of relative public veracity '-- or at least public quiet '-- for the president. He seems to have been otherwise occupied, dealing with internal discussions about the Russia investigation and then embarking on a trip through the Middle East and Europe.
Visited a Trump
property and told
no public lies
or falsehoods
Washington Post reports Trump shared highly classified intelligence with Russians
New York Times reports Trump hoped Comey would ''let this go,'' referring to the Flynn investigation
Special counsel appointed in investigation of Russia's ties to the Trump campaign
Visited a Trump
property and told
no public lies
or falsehoods
Washington Post reports Trump shared highly classified intelligence with Russians
Special counsel appointed in investigation of Russia's ties to the Trump campaign
New York Times reports Trump hoped Comey would ''let this go,'' referring to the Flynn investigation
Trump's Public Lies Sometimes Changed With Repetition
Sometimes, Trump can't even keep his untruths straight. After he reversed a campaign pledge and declined to label China a currency manipulator, he kept changing his description of when China had stopped the bad behavior. Initially, he said it stopped once he took office. He then changed the turning point to the election, then to since he started talking about it, and then to some uncertain point in the distant past.
When Trump said China stopped manipulating its currency
April 21
''from the time I took office''
April 29
''during the election''
April 30
''as soon as I got elected''
May 1
''since I started running''
''since I've been talking about
currency manipulation''
The Public's Mistrust of Trump Grows
Trump has retained the support of most of his voters as well as the Republican leadership in Congress. But he has still paid some price for his lies. Nearly 60 percent of Americans say the president is not honest, polls show, up from about 53 percent when he took office.
Would you say Donald Trump is honest?
Would you say Donald Trump is honest?
A Guide to Arguing With a Snopes-Denier | Houston Press
Tue, 27 Jun 2017 12:43
Wednesday, April 2, 2014 at 6 a.m.
It happens all the time online. You see a piece of misinformation in your Facebook newsfeeds, and helpfully point out that no, Snopes has already debunked it as a myth, hoax, lie or misinterpretation of actual facts. Everyone walks away better informed, right?
"Snopes lol. Don't you have a real source?"
Responses like this are why half the keys in the center of my laptop stick after repeated meet-and-greets with my face. It's becoming an unfortunately more common response to attempts at educating people away from harmful propaganda and pseudoscience, and it's very hard to combat such willful ignorance. Hard, but not impossible.
First, let's get this out of the way. Snopes has been a respected debunker of lies and hoaxes online for almost two decades. No matter what WorldTruthTV or the like tell you, David and Barbara Mikkelson have consistently been interviewed and questioned over the course of their career and have passed every significant litmus test on their credibility, objectivity and trustworthiness. Are they totally unbiased beings of pure logic? No, those are Vulcans you're thinking of. They are, however, as reasonably nonpartisan as you could want.
That said, they are also an easy target for disdain and quotes about the "liberal media" or other accusations because no one likes being told that closely held illusions are in fact just that. Far easier to just set up the straw man, put on your Don Quixote costumes and scream "They might be giants" than examine why you're so keen on believing horrific stories about FEMA coffins or the bad behavior of Hurricane Katrina survivors.
Still. Not. FEMA Coffins.
The first thing to do with a Snopes denier is... nothing. Do not continue the initial conversation. You have already lost your stand, and can do nothing more here. Ultimately, you are having a different interaction from the one you think you are. You thought you were helpfully informing, but they think you're part of a misled general populace that just can't see the monsters in the shadows.
Just walk away and make a mental note of the person for next time.
The next time you come across a debunked chain mail or post, it's important for you to go look up the Snopes (Or Politifact or FactCheck) and read the article carefully. Pretend that you're going to give a presentation on the information for school or something like that. Remember, you can't lead someone to the link because he or she will simply deny the validity of the source. You, however, they presumably like at least a little bit, so if the argument comes from your mouth, then it will have more weight even though you are probably not an expert.
Keep your information short. Three sentences should be the absolute maximum. A reality-based world view is a bitter pill to swallow sometimes, and you're always better off taking it slow. Don't give them a wall of text to nitpick tiny tangents from at will. You are the rapier, not the warhammer.
I also find it helpful to be extremely self-deprecating. Indicate that you're not entirely sure about the whole thing (who is, after all) and always make it personal. This is what I read. This is what I think. It's very simple to wave away the words of faceless media, big corporations and politicians. They aren't real people, anyway, to the closed mind. It's harder to do so to someone you know.
Eventually, of course, you will need to cite your sources because that's the nature of the Internet. When this happens, the most important thing is to still not link to Snopes, etc. Instead, explore the article for the sources it drew upon. Most of the time these are plainly listed for all the big fact-checking sites (And conspicuously not for the quack ones). Link to local coverage, raw unedited videos, texts of laws, and reliable, non-partisan government agencies like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. You will get way more mileage out of these than you will from the God-Mammon of Snopes, even though it is the exact same information.
You have to remember that the sort of person who readily subscribes to conspiracy theories already fears that there are vast, powerful forces maliciously allied against the areas of life that mean the most to them. Any denial of the threat increases the power of the threat by virtue of its being allowed to operate undetected. That the threat is no more real than the pile of clothes on the chair is a misshapen creature in the dark is immaterial. Who has ever successfully convinced a child that there isn't a monster under the bed on the first try?
No, it only comes about when night after night you show them evidence and they slowly come to believe it. With dedication and patience, you can also enlighten the Snopes-deniers by removing the object of their scorn. Stick with the facts, instead of relying on the presenter of the facts no matter how solid they have proven to be. In the process you become a teacher, and God knows the world needs more of them now than ever.
Jef has a new story, a tale of headless strippers and The Rolling Stones, available now in Broken Mirrors, Fractured Minds. You can also connect with him on Facebook.
Three CNN journalists resign over retracted Trump-Russia story - LA Times
Tue, 27 Jun 2017 12:37
Three journalists from CNN's investigative unit are leaving the network after the retraction of their June 22 story connecting an ally of President Trump to a Russian investment fund.
The story, citing an anonymous source, said Senate investigators were examining a meeting between Wall Street financier Anthony Scaramucci and an executive for the Russian Direct Investment Fund. The $10-billion fund makes direct investments in Russian companies.
Scaramucci, who founded hedge fund specialist SkyBridge Capital, served on Trump's transition team.
The retracted story appeared on CNN's website and did not air on television.
CNN removed the story and all connecting links to it late Friday, saying the story did not meet its editorial standards. CNN also issued an apology to Scaramucci, who accepted it with a tweet on Saturday. ''Everyone makes mistakes,'' he wrote. ''Moving on.''
Scaramucci had said on Friday that the story is not true.
Thomas Frank, who wrote the piece, Eric Lichtblau, an editor in the investigative unit, and Lex Haris, an editor at CNN since 2001 who oversaw the unit, are all departing following a management review of the story.
"In the aftermath of the retraction of a story published on CNN.com, CNN has accepted the resignations of the employees involved in the story's publication," a spokesman said Monday evening.
The swift investigation and departure of the three journalists is probably a sign that CNN wants to protect itself against allegations of ''fake news'' from Trump and his supporters.
CNN's website reported that an internal review by the company's management found that some ''standard editorial processes were not followed when the article was published.''
The site added that although the facts in the story were ''not solid'' enough for publication, CNN has not said the story is false.
All three of the exiting journalists are seasoned veterans.
Frank is a longtime Washington political reporter, who joined CNN's investigative unit after stints at Newsday and USA Today. Lichtblau, who joined CNN in April, was recently hired away from the New York Times. He had been a key player in the newspaper's reporting on the relationship between the Trump campaign and Russia.
"On Friday, CNN retracted a story published by my team. As executive editor of that team, I have resigned," Haris said in a statement. "I've been with CNN since 2001, and am sure about one thing: This is a news organization that prizes accuracy and fairness above all else. I am leaving, but will carry those principles wherever I go."
CNN has beefed up its staffing in recent years to do more investigative reporting. The network's aggressive journalism, particularly on the campaign's alleged Russian ties, has led Trump to harshly criticize the network.
CNN is the only major U.S. TV news organization that has not had a sit-down interview with the president since he was elected.
BuzzFeed reported Sunday that CNN is imposing tighter restrictions on the online publication of stories about Russia in response to how the Scaramucci piece was handled.
Twitter: @SteveBattaglio
Sergey Kislyak, D.C.'s most famous '-- or infamous '-- ambassador, on his way out
Trumpscores a partial win for his travel ban. What comes next?
Senatehealthcare overhaul hits trouble as Republicans hesitant to proceed to vote
Jeff Zucker: Viewers trust CNN 'more than ever' | Page Six
Tue, 27 Jun 2017 16:19
CANNES '-- CNN boss Jeff Zucker says despite Donald Trump's war on the network and what the president says is ''fake news,'' he is certain that CNN maintains the trust of its viewers, as it extends into digital brands to attract a younger audience.
Speaking at Cannes Lions, he said, ''CNN has been around for 37 years, our trustworthiness today is the same as it was a year ago, before people in high offices started questioning it. We know that through our own brand research. Just because somebody says you are not trustworthy, that doesn't mean it is so '... CNN's brand equity is built over 37 years doing hard work in very dangerous places '... those who rely on CNN trust CNN more than ever.''
He appeared on a panel with YouTube star Casey Neistat, who attracts nearly 6 million viewers a day and who just signed a deal to produce an original video brand and a daily news show for CNN. The network, which acquired Neistat's mobile video sharing app Beme for a reported $25 million earlier this year, is banking on Neistat's appeal to entice millennials to tune in.
Zucker said, ''The world has changed '-- we can all get news 24/7 from any device, any outlet '... but we want to tell different stories in different ways, and add to the news. We are not going to attract new viewers by just feeding CNN onto different platforms.
''Everybody has an iPhone, everyone can be a reporter now. Everybody can tell a story from every part of the world. Why places like CNN matter is that it is still important to bring them together, put context around it and explain it.''
He added that CNN and other media organizations need personalities like Neistat: ''The way that CNN would traditionally tell a story is so different from the way Casey and Beme would tell a story, both are incredibly valuable, both will find their audiences, and that is what I think the new CNN is about, being a multi-platform company that reaches many different audience members on many different platforms.''
Talking about Neistat's appeal to CNN, he noted, ''He does great work, he has a huge following and he can reach a different market that CNN never could.
''We have hundreds and hundreds of reporters and people who can tell video stories and stand there with a microphone and a trench coat and tell a story, but we don't have Casey.
''I think that's what is missing, not just from CNN, but all the legacy television news broadcasters who think it's enough to take a video report and put it on a platform where young people go. It just doesn't work.''
Sarah Palin Suing New York Times For Defamati | The Daily Caller
Thu, 29 Jun 2017 10:39
Sarah Palin is suing The New York Times for defamation, according to documents filed in federal court Tuesday that were obtained by The Daily Caller.
The lawsuit has to do with an editorial the NYT ran on June 14 that falsely smeared Palin as inciting the 2011 shooting of Democratic Rep. Gabby Giffords by a mentally ill man. There is no evidence to support the NYT's implication that Palin played a role in inciting the Giffords shooting. (RELATED: NYT Uses GOP Shooting To Falsely Attack Sarah Palin With Debunked Conspiracy Theory)
''Mrs. Palin brings this action to hold The Times accountable for defaming her by publishing a statement about her that it knew to be false: that Mrs. Palin was responsible for inciting a mass shooting at a political event in January 2011,'' Palin's suit states.
''Specifically, on June 14, 2017, The Times Editorial Board, which represents the 'voice' of The Times, falsely stated as a matter of fact to millions of people that Mrs. Palin incited Jared Loughner's January 8, 2011, shooting rampage at a political event in Tucson, Arizona, during which he shot nineteen people, severely wounding United States Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, and killing six, including Chief U.S. District Court Judge John Roll and a nine-year-old girl.''
The lawsuit states that the paper ''published and promoted its Editorial Board's column despite knowing that the linchpin of its 'sickening pattern' of politically-incited shootings was the false assertion that Mrs. Palin incited Loughner to murder six people, among them a child and federal judge, and seriously wound numerous others.'' (RELATED: NYT Has Been Pushing Palin-Giffords Falsehood For Years)
It goes on to state: ''As the public backlash over The Times' malicious column mounted, it responded by making edits and 'corrections' to its fabricated story, along with half-hearted Twitter apologies''none of which sufficiently corrected the falsehoods that the paper published. In fact, none mentioned Mrs. Palin or acknowledged that Mrs. Palin did not incite a deranged man to commit murder.''
Palin claims the editorial ''exceeded the bounds of legality, decency and civility by publishing the false and defamatory column.'' She is seeking a minimum of $75,000 in damages.
The full lawsuit can be seen below.
Sarah Palin sues the New York Times for defamation by Peter Hasson on Scribd
In the NYT's editorial, which has since been updated, the editors claimed there was a ''clear'' link to incitement between Jared Loughner's attempted assassination of Giffords, and a map Palin had created that placed crosshairs over districts that Republicans needed to flip in the 2012 election. No such link exists.
CNN's Jake Tapper pointed out in response to the NYT editorial that ''even way back in Jan 2011 we knew that Loughlin's obsession began 3 years before the Palin map.'' Tapper made that same exact point back in 2011 when he worked for ABC.
After harsh criticism in the media, the NYT finally added a correction that read: ''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.''
The NYT editorial followed the attempted mass assassination of Republican lawmakers by a left-wing Bernie Sanders supporter, who espoused anti-Republican rhetoric on his Facebook page and belonged to several anti-GOP groups on Facebook, including one titled, ''Terminate The Republican Party.''
The Daily Caller is awaiting comment from the NYT.
This article has been updated with additional information.
Shut Up Slave!
Could selfies be your passport to healthier insurance? | Zurich Australia
Thu, 29 Jun 2017 15:08
Social media is awash with selfies. They have '' quite literally '' become the face of a generation, with ''Selfie'' even being named the 'word of 2013' by the Oxford English dictionary.
Up to this point, selfies have just become part of our modern culture that we all engage in without any real thought, because, well, everyone else is. But what if they could do so much more? What if they were about to become one of the most powerful predictors of your future health and wealth?
This is no longer the realm of science fiction. Thanks to a new program called 'Chronos', your facial lines and contours, droops and dark spots could indicate how well you're aging, and, when paired with other data, could someday help underwriters qualify people for valuable life insurance.
Your face tells your own unique story
Two people of the same chronological age rarely experience the same rate of biological ageing. You know this intuitively just by attending your high school reunion.
Chronos claims that by analysing an image of someone's face (aka a selfie) they can return the most precise, reliable and individualised lifespan estimates attainable. This is achieved by measuring their rate of biological ageing '' rather than simply how old they are '' through facial analytics, which is what accounts for individual differences.
For example, it remains a fact that some people smoke and live to be 100 while some non-smokers die of lung cancer at an early age. With facial recognition technology, it is now possible to identify smokers who are likely to live longer.
How would it work?
Chronos combines three aspects:
Patented facial analytics.Biodemographic information in the form of a questionnaire about things like family history.Analysis of life event data by a team of experts.A customer would upload a selfie to an online database and answer industry standard questions around health, lifestyle and other decision factors.
The facial analytics technology would scan hundreds of points on their face and extract certain information, including body mass index, physiological age (i.e. how old you look) and whether they're aging faster or slower than your actual age.
According to reports, the program can detect makeup, but not plastic surgery, and verifies a customer's identity by comparing the photo to the one on their driver's license or other form of government-issued ID.
The pros and cons
While this technology is still subject to regulatory approval and will likely not be available for use for many years to some, the potential benefits are already becoming apparent.
For the life insurance customers of the future, facial recognition may be able to be used to minimise the number of medical tests required, while still keeping underwriting accurate, and could also potentially reduce the waiting time on a typical application and provide much more tailored policies and premiums.
On the other side, what happens when someone thinks they're healthy but facial analysis tells a different story? And of course from a privacy perspective, what about those people who may not be comfortable providing such photos? (Interestingly this doesn't seem to be an issue for the younger generations these days, who seem far more comfortable sharing personal data online).
Another crucial factor in the uptake of this technology is its validity. Does this really work in 100% of cases? Inaccurate predictions of health are no good for either the customer or the insurer, so rigorous testing and time will stand to tell which new approaches prove effective.
In other words, it could be some time before you can rely on such an approach.
Travel Ban
What Happens to Trump's Travel Ban Now? - Bloomberg
Tue, 27 Jun 2017 12:36
President Donald Trump scored something close to a win when the U.S. Supreme Court approved implementation of a narrowed version of his travel ban, which aims to bar all refugees from entering the U.S. for 120 days and nationals from six Muslim-majority countries for 90 days. But even as the president took to Twitter to celebrate, immigration attorneys, law professors and refugees' advocates questioned the direction and meaning of the ruling. Since January, when American airports were thrust into chaos by Trump's initial executive order, two federal appeals courts have upheld blocks on a revised version of the ban. One court said the policy was ''steeped in animus'' toward Muslims and probably unconstitutional, while the other said Trump exceeded his powers under federal immigration laws. The Supreme Court says it will hear the administration's appeal in its next nine-month session starting in October. It allowed the ban to be enforced in the meantime, with the provision that it doesn't apply to foreigners with a "bona fide" relationship with the U.S.
1. What's a 'bona fide' relationship with the U.S.?According to the Supreme Court's June 26 order, it includes having family in the country that's ''formal, documented'' and not formed for the purpose of evading the president's edict, admission to a university, an accepted job offer, and an invitation to lecture. It explicitly excludes refugee applicants approached by nonprofit groups for the purpose of providing legal aid for immigration. The definition leaves plenty of room for questions and interpretation. How close does the family connection have to be? What about a child whose parents were connected to the U.S. but died in civil war? The list of possible scenarios is long.
2. Who gets to decide?Attorneys, professors and refugee advocates are calling for the Justice Department and Department of Homeland Security to offer a more detailed definition of ''bona fide relationship.'' The concern is that if the government leaves the term vague, its interpretation will be left up to individual customs officers. The Department of Homeland Security says it will impose Trump's order ''professionally, with clear and sufficient public notice, particularly to potentially affected travelers, and in coordination with partners in the travel industry.'' The issue of public notice raises the question of whether the narrower ban approved by the Supreme Court will be implemented within 72 hours of the court's decision, as Trump had announced earlier in June, or whether the government will slow the pace of enforcement to avoid confusion.
3. Can decisions be appealed?Yes. Lower courts may get a chance to weigh in if applicants for admission to the U.S. and third parties sue as they ''struggle to determine what exactly constitutes a bona fide relationship,'' wrote Justice Clarence Thomas in a dissenting opinion. Thomas was one of three justices who said Trump's order should be reinstated without compromise. Litigation could be triggered when a visa applicant from one of the six targeted countries -- Iran, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Sudan and Somalia -- is denied an entry permit. U.S. states may sue as well, claiming that they have been harmed by a lack of diversity because people from these countries are being denied entry. Such were the claims made by the district attorneys of Washington and Hawaii in suing to halt enforcement of the president's bans.
4. What happens after the 60- and 90-day bans expire?There are a few scenarios that could play out. Trump could simply extend them with another order. He could declare victory when the time is up, and say he succeeded in ensuring national security by instituting the bans while visa-entry procedures for those countries were reviewed. He could make the travel ban a more permanent policy by requiring the six countries to share more information about visa applicants before the order against their nationals is rescinded, likely triggering further litigation.
5. How will the ban's opponents change their legal approach?The Supreme Court ruled in its order that the government is likely to suffer irreparable harm if the travel ban is not imposed -- meaning the U.S. could be attacked by a national from one of the six countries, making a ban justifiable. Attorneys challenging the order are likely to refute this claim by arguing that visitors from these countries are no more of a threat than any others. In the meantime, plaintiffs won't shy away from their claim that the president's policy was founded on discriminatory intent against Muslims, citing comments he made during his presidential campaign.
6. Did Trump really win this round?Get the latest on global politics in your inbox, every day.
Get our newsletter daily.
Both sides are claiming victory. Trump took to Twitter to praise the Supreme Court for its decision, exclaiming, ''We must keep America SAFE.'' Meanwhile, the American Civil Liberties Union, attorneys general from multiple states and President Barack Obama's former solicitor general, who's arguing the case for Hawaii, say they are happy with the court's decision to continue suspension of the executive order for those with connections to the U.S.
The Reference ShelfThe Supreme Court's June 26 decision to hear the travel ban appeal and allowing the ban to go forward blocking the entry of travelers without a connection to the U.S.The text of Trump's revised and original executive order, and the Ninth Circuit's ruling.A White House Q&A about the second order.A QuickTake explainer on refugees and political asylum.Trump's ban is an attack on religious liberty, writes Bloomberg View columnist Noah Feldman.A profile of the first judge to block Trump's order.
Michael Jackson feared he would be murdered in notes written just weeks before his death
Thu, 29 Jun 2017 11:58
In other letters, the superstar said he was 'scared about his life' and the 'the system wanted to kill him for his catalogue'
NOTES written by Michael Jackson revealing his fears that he would be murdered are today pictured for the first time by The Sun.
The King of Pop wrote just weeks before his death saying: ''They are trying to murder me.''
Getty Images - FilmMagic
Michael Jackson feared for his life in the weeks leading up to his death, notes revealIn other notes, the superstar said he was ''scared about my life'' and that ''the system wants to kill me for my catalogue''.
They are among a collection of letters passed to German businessman Michael Jacobshagen, 34, who had a two-decade friendship with Jackson.
In an upcoming interview with broadcaster Daphne Barak, he will tell how a tearful Jacko called him from Las Vegas in 2009.
The late singer claimed 'the system wanted to kill him for his catalogue'
Another note reveals he felt pressure from concert promoters AEG
The singer was also scared he would be murdered in another letterJacobshagen, who befriended the star aged 11, then flew to the US to see him and was handed the letters.
It is unclear who they were initially intended for.
In one, written in black ink on plain white paper, Jackson refers to the promoter of his sell-out shows at the O2 in London.
He said: ''AEG makes so much pressure to me. I have a bad feeling. I'm scared about my life. Call Joseph tomorrow.''
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The letter refers to concert promoters AEG, which was organising his performances in London, while Joseph is believed to be his dad Joe Jackson.
A third note expressed fear that he was being killed for his music catalogue.
Jackson died aged 50 on June 25, 2009.
Getty Images - WireImage
The King of Pop in his heydayThe official cause of death was an overdose of the sedative propofol.
His doctor Conrad Murray served half of a four-year jail term for involuntary manslaughter.
But several members of Jackson's family '-- including daughter Paris '-- have claimed he was murdered.
Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department
Jacko's doctor Conrad Murray is serving a four-year jail term for involuntary manslaughterThe chat with Jacobshagen by Barak, who has also previously interviewed Jackson along with Nelson Mandela, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, will air worldwide.
Ms Barak said: ''Jacobshagen approached me earlier this year. He was eager to talk about the Michael Jackson he had known.
''He insisted to meet with me because of my previous interviews with Jackson and his parents.
The letters were passed to German businessman Michael Jacobshagen who had a two-decade friendship with Jackson
Michael Jacobshagen will reveal he was called by Jackson in 2009 in an interview with broadcaster Daphne Barak''I had published audios of Jackson, showing his heavy addictions and that he was abused by enablers around him. It sent a clear message to people who still tried to benefit from him after his death.
''Jacobshagen kept writing to us and said that he had handwritten notes of the late star, never seen before. Some were written in 2009, before his tragic death.
''So we agreed to meet with Jacobshagen, film his account and look at the notes.''
Michael Jackson: Best Moonwalk
Deep State
64 Years Later, CIA Finally Releases Details of Iranian Coup | Foreign Policy
Tue, 27 Jun 2017 12:56
Declassified documents released last week shed light on the Central Intelligence Agency's central role in the 1953 coup that brought down Iranian Prime Minister Muhammad Mossadegh, fueling a surge of nationalism which culminated in the 1979 Iranian Revolution and poisoning U.S.-Iran relations into the 21st century.
The approximately 1,000 pages of documents also reveal for the first time the details of how the CIA attempted to call off the failing coup '-- only to be salvaged at the last minute by an insubordinate spy on the ground.
Known as Operation Ajax, the CIA plot was ultimately about oil. Western firms had for decades controlled the region's oil wealth, whether Arabian-American Oil Company in Saudi Arabia, or the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company in Iran. When the U.S. firm in Saudi Arabia bowed to pressure in late 1950 and agreed to share oil revenues evenly with Riyadh, the British concession in Iran came under intense pressure to follow suit. But London adamantly refused.
So in early 1951, amid great popular acclaim, Mossadegh nationalized Iran's oil industry. A fuming United Kingdom began conspiring with U.S. intelligence services to overthrow Mossadegh and restore the monarchy under the shah. (Though some in the U.S. State Department, the newly released cables show, blamed British intransigence for the tensions and sought to work with Mossadegh.)
The coup attempt began on August 15 but was swiftly thwarted. Mossadegh made dozens of arrests. Gen. Fazlollah Zahedi, a top conspirator, went into hiding, and the shah fled the country.
The CIA, believing the coup to have failed, called it off.
''Operation has been tried and failed and we should not participate in any operation against Mossadegh which could be traced back to US,'' CIA headquarters wrote to its station chief in Iran in a newly declassified cable sent on Aug. 18, 1953. ''Operations against Mossadegh should be discontinued.''
That is the cable which Kermit Roosevelt, top CIA officer in Iran, purportedly and famously ignored, according to Malcolm Byrne, who directs the U.S.-Iran Relations Project at the National Security Archive at George Washington University.
At least ''one guy was in the room with Kermit Roosevelt when he got this cable,'' Byrne told Foreign Policy . ''[Roosevelt] said no '-- we're not done here.'' It was already known that Roosevelt had not carried out an order from Langley to cease and desist. But the cable itself and its contents were not previously published.
The consequences of his decision were momentous. The next day, on August 19, 1953, with the aid of ''rented'' crowds widely believed to have been arranged with CIA assistance, the coup succeeded. Iran's nationalist hero was jailed, the monarchy restored under the Western-friendly shah, and Anglo-Iranian oil '-- renamed British Petroleum '-- tried to get its fields back. (But didn't really: Despite the coup, nationalist pushback against a return to foreign control of oil was too much, leaving BP and other majors to share Iran's oil wealth with Tehran.)
Operation Ajax has long been a bogeyman for conservatives in Iran '-- but also for liberals. The coup fanned the flames of anti-Western sentiment, which reached a crescendo in 1979 with the U.S. hostage crisis, the final overthrow of the shah, and the creation of the Islamic Republic to counter the ''Great Satan.''
The coup alienated liberals in Iran as well. Mossadegh is widely considered to be the closest thing Iran has ever had to a democratic leader. He openly championed democratic values and hoped to establish a democracy in Iran. The elected parliament selected him as prime minister, a position he used to reduce the power of the shah, thus bringing Iran closer in line with the political traditions that had developed in Europe. But any further democratic development was stymied on Aug. 19.
The U.S government long denied involvement in the coup. The State Department first released coup-related documents in 1989, but edited out any reference to CIA involvement. Public outrage coaxed a government promise to release a more complete edition, and some material came out in 2013. Two years later, the full installment of declassified material was scheduled '-- but might have interfered with Iran nuclear talks and were delayed again, Byrne said. They were finally released last week, though numerous original CIA telegrams from that period are known to have disappeared or been destroyed long ago.
Byrne said that the long delay is due to several factors. Intelligence services are always concerned about protecting ''sources and methods,'' said Byrne, meaning the secret spycraft that enables them to operate on the ground. The CIA also needed to protect its relationship with British intelligence, which may have wished some of the material remain safeguarded.
Beyond final proof of CIA involvement, there's another very interesting takeaway in the documents, said Abbas Milani, a professor of Iranian studies at Stanford University: New details on the true political leanings of Ayatollah Abol-Ghasem Kashani, a cleric and leading political figure in the 1950s.
In the Islamic Republic, clerics are always the good guys. Kashani has long been seen as one of the heroes of nationalism during that period. As recently as January of this year, Iran's supreme leader praised Kashani's role in the nationalization of oil.
Kashani's eventual split from Mossadegh is widely known. Religious leaders in the country feared the growing power of the communist Tudeh Party, and believed that Mossadegh was too weak to save the country from the socialist threat.
But the newly released documents show that Kashani wasn't just opposed to Mossadegh '-- he was also in close communication with the Americans throughout the period leading up to the coup, and he actually appears to have requested financial assistance from the United States, though there is no record of him receiving any money. His request was not previously known.
On the make-or-break day of Aug. 19, ''Kashani was critical,'' said Milani. ''On that day Kashani's forces were out in full force to defeat Mossadegh.''
Clarification, June 21, 2017: This piece has been clarified to state that at least one person was in the room when Roosevelt received the August 18 cable, and that the cable was unpublished until now.
Photo credit: AFP/Getty Images
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Rape Kits
Austin police rape kits: Mold found in containers, memo says
Thu, 29 Jun 2017 12:13
Hundreds of sexual assault kits in Austin police storage have been determined to have mold growing on the outside of them, prompting officials to seek guidance from state and national experts about how to properly preserve the evidence and raising questions about whether forensic samples may have been compromised.
So far, officials said they have no indication that the mold will prevent analysts from obtaining DNA samples and that, because the kits had never been tested, evidence from them has never been used to build a case against or convict a defendant.
An Austin company recently hired to help test the kits reported to Austin police last week that ''there were no observable issues with any of the samples they processed with the case reported to have mold,'' Assistant Police Chief Troy Gay wrote in a memo Friday. Lab staff successfully obtained a DNA profile from the first kit found to have mold, officials said.
The situation still raised alarms among some in the criminal justice community, which has been working to restore confidence in how the department has handled forensic evidence after officials abruptly closed its DNA lab amid a state audit criticizing some of its procedures and staff training.
Part of the concern focused on the degree to which Austin police properly consulted with experts concerning the mold and questions about why police officials did not immediately notify other criminal justice leaders, including those in the Travis County District Attorney's Office.
It also has prompted the department to spend thousands in new equipment to resolve the issue.
''We've been doing everything we need to do since we've been made aware,'' Interim Police Chief Brian Manley said.
An audit found that of 1,629 cases stored in the refrigerator, 849 showed some signs of mold on the outside.
With its lab closed for months, police and city officials have been working since last year to examine thousands of untested rape kits, some of which are decades old. The department received additional funding from the city last year to hire outside labs to help clear the backlog.
According to a lengthy memo, Gay said the issue was brought in April to the department's attention by workers at Signature Science, an Austin company hired by the city to help with the effort.
In the next two days, police employees inspected a refrigerator where the kits were being stored and found mold on the boxes near the back of the refrigerator on cases from the 1990s. They consulted with a Texas Department of Public Safety expert, who advised using a ''bleach solution'' to wipe down the boxes.
In early May, workers for a commercial refrigeration company sealed all the seams to help prevent moisture from getting inside, and officials also spent $20,000 on new equipment that included a dehumidifier and drying cabinet to be used one the boxes were cleaned with bleach.
Last week, the issue became a focus of discussions at a monthly meeting of prosecutors, city and county officials.
Because of concerns that were raised at the meeting, police employees were directed to stop using the bleach solution ''pending further research on remediating the mold issues.''
''Although we believe the guidance provided to our lab on how to address the situation was sound, we do want to ensure this is the best practice and have formally reached out to the forensic community for assistance,'' Gay said in his memo.
Vatican cardinal denounces sex assault charges against him
Thu, 29 Jun 2017 15:03
Australian police charged a top Vatican cardinal on Thursday with multiple counts of "historical" sexual assault offenses, a stunning decision certain to rock the highest levels of the Holy See.
Cardinal George Pell, Pope Francis' chief financial adviser and Australia's most senior Catholic, said in an early morning appearance at the Vatican that he would take a leave of absence as the Vatican's finance czar and would return to Australia to fight the charges. He denied the accusations and denounced what he called a "relentless character assassination" in the media.
Pell is the highest-ranking Vatican official to ever be charged in the church's long-running sexual abuse scandal.
Police Deputy Commissioner Shane Patton in Australia's Victoria state said police have summonsed Pell to appear in court to face multiple charges of "historical sexual assault offenses," meaning offenses that generally occurred some time ago. Patton said there are multiple complainants against Pell, but gave no other details on the allegations against the cardinal. Pell was ordered to appear in Melbourne Magistrates Court on July 18.
For years, Pell, 76, has faced allegations that he mishandled cases of clergy abuse when he was archbishop of Melbourne and, later, Sydney. But more recently, Pell himself became the focus of a clergy sex abuse investigation, with Victoria detectives flying to the Vatican last year to interview the cardinal. It is unclear what allegations the charges announced Thursday relate to, but two men, now in their 40s, have said that Pell touched them inappropriately at a swimming pool in the late 1970s, when Pell was a senior priest in Melbourne.
Patton told reporters in Melbourne that none of the allegations against Pell had been tested in any court, adding: "Cardinal Pell, like any other defendant, has a right to due process."
The charges are a new and serious blow to Pope Francis, who has already suffered several credibility setbacks in his promised "zero tolerance" policy about sex abuse. The charges will also further complicate Francis' financial reform efforts at the Vatican, which were already strained by Pell's repeated clashes with the Italian-dominated bureaucracy. Just last week, one of Pell's top allies, the Vatican's auditor general, resigned without explanation two years into a five-year term, immediately raising questions about whether the reform effort was doomed.
Vatican spokesman Greg Burke said Pope Francis had learned with "regret" of the charges and had granted Pell a leave of absence to defend himself. He said the Vatican's financial reforms would continue in his absence.
Pell's actions as archbishop came under intense scrutiny in recent years by a government-authorized investigation into how the Catholic Church and other institutions have responded to the sexual abuse of children. Australia's Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse '-- the nation's highest form of inquiry '-- has found shocking levels of abuse in Australia's Catholic Church, revealing earlier this year that 7 percent of Catholic priests were accused of sexually abusing children over the past several decades.
Last year, Pell acknowledged during his testimony to the commission that the Catholic Church had made "enormous mistakes" in allowing thousands of children to be raped and molested by priests over centuries. He conceded that he, too, had erred by often believing the priests over victims who alleged abuse. And he vowed to help end a rash of suicides that has plagued church abuse victims in his Australian hometown of Ballarat.
Australia has no extradition treaty with the Vatican. But in a statement from the Sydney Archdiocese, Pell said he would return to Australia "as soon as possible," following advice and approval by his doctors. Last year, Pell declined to return to Australia to testify for the third time before the Royal Commission, saying he was too ill to fly. He instead testified via video conference from Rome.
The Blue Knot Foundation, an Australian support group for adult survivors of childhood abuse, said the decision to charge Pell sent a powerful message to both abuse survivors and society as a whole.
"It upholds that no one is above the law, no matter how high their office, qualifications, or standing," the group's head of research, Pam Stavropoulos, said in a statement.
The charges put the pope in a thorny position. In 2014, Francis won cautious praise from victims' advocacy groups when he created a commission of outside experts to advise him and the broader church about "best practices" to fight abuse and protect children.
But the commission has since lost much of its credibility after its two members who were survivors of abuse left. Francis also scrapped the commission's signature proposal '-- a tribunal section to hear cases of bishops who covered up for abuse '-- after Vatican officials objected.
In addition, Francis drew heated criticism for his 2015 appointment of a Chilean bishop accused by victims of helping cover up for Chile's most notorious pedophile. The pope was later caught on videotape labeling the parishioners who opposed the nomination of being "leftists" and "stupid."
Francis appointed Pell in 2014 to a five-year term to head the Vatican's new economy secretariat, giving him broad rein to control all economic, administrative, personnel and procurement functions of the Holy See. The mandate has since been restricted to performing more of an oversight role.
Sun, 25 Jun 2017 20:43
VIDEO -CSPAN on Clinton press access
Thu, 29 Jun 2017 12:38
VIDEO - Project Veritas|American Pravda: CNN
Thu, 29 Jun 2017 12:33
White House: Everyone Should Watch This VideoCNN Responds: Bonifield Just a "Health Producer"(NEW YORK) -- Project Veritas' American Pravda: CNN continues today with a video of left-leaning political commentator Van Jones caught on camera plainly stating that "the Russia thing is just a big nothing burger."
This follows the release of a video of CNN Producer John Bonifield, who was caught touting the Russia narrative as "bullsh*t."
According to Brian Stelter on Twitter, CNN released a statement stating that Bonifield is just a "Health Producer" and "isn't involved in Russia or Trump coverage."
Paul Fahri of the Washington Post also weighed in on the Veritas video and Bonifield's position at CNN:
"[I]t never mentions that Bonifield is a producer of health and medical stories, raising questions about how relevant his views are, and how informed he is, about CNN's political coverage."
Jones is one of CNN's most prominent political commentators, and has appeared on CNN in the past attacking President Trump for his "Putin relationship."
On December 18, 2016 Jones said: "Other Presidents tried to say nice things about the Russians -- not in the face of an active attack on the country!"
"I mean, it's mostly bullshit right now," Bonifield says in the first video. "Like, we don't have any giant proof."
CNN's Public Relations team eventually was forced by the overwhelming coverage of our video (with no help from them, of course) to give a statement:
"CNN stands by our medical producer John Bonifield. Diversity of personal opinion is what makes CNN strong, we welcome it and embrace it."
CNN is receiving heavy criticism from the President of the United States, and the video was mentioned by the Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders:
"There is a video circulating now. Whether it is accurate or not, I don't know, but I would encourage everybody in this room, and frankly, everybody across the country to take a look at it. I think if it is accurate, I think it's a disgrace to all of media, to all of journalism -- we've been going on this Russia-Trump hoax for the better part of a year now with no evidence of anything."
"Last year, we had to circumvent the mainstream media," said James O'Keefe. "At a Trump inaugural event, I put the mainstream media on notice. If you are in the media and are using deception or malfeasant tactics, you may want to sleep with one eye open."
VIDEO - American Airlines invests $6 million for new 3D scanners at airports
Thu, 29 Jun 2017 11:44
The future of airport security will be a lot safer with the introduction of new 3D scanning machines.
Produced by Analogic Corporation, these machines use Computed Tomography (CT) technology to provide a 360-degree view of baggage going through the scanner. American Airlines (AAL) invested $6 million to purchase multiple units of the Analogic ConneCT system which the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will test at airports around the US.
Currently, CT machines are being piloted at Phoenix Sky Harbor International (PHX) and Logan International in Boston (BOS). Passengers transiting through Terminal 4 at Phoenix and Terminal E at Boston may be asked to volunteer for screening using this technology.
When a bag goes through security today, TSA officials are met with a two-dimensional picture offering limited views. With the Analogic machines, security officials will be able to rotate the image and zoom in to get a better view.
Courtesy of Analogic
More ''We believe strongly in risk-based, intelligence-driven security protocols, which enable the aviation industry to identify, manage and mitigate risk,'' said Kerry Philipovitch, senior vice president for customer service at American Airlines. ''Our partnerships with the TSA and Analogic will transform aviation security by bringing state-of-the-art CT technology to the security checkpoint.''
This enhanced level of detection could allow passengers to leave liquids, gels, and aerosols in their bags. The TSA will also be able to see concealed weapons and explosives, even those hidden within personal electronic devices like laptops.
In recent months, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has expressed concern with the growing threat of explosives hidden in laptop computers. There are currently 10 airports under an electronic laptop ban, which prohibits items larger than a smartphone from being placed in a carry-on. Instead, passengers have to place these items in their checked bags. The Trump administration has considered extending the ban to flights coming to the US from European cities, but says it will hold off if overseas airports step up security.
CT technology could become a tool for security officials to properly screen and detect harmful items without forcing passengers to remove electronics from carry-on bags.
''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,'' said TSA Acting Administrator Huban Gowadia.
Brittany is a reporter at Yahoo Finance.
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VIDEO - Can a gyroscope tell if Earth is a spinning ball? '' SAVAGE PLANE
Thu, 29 Jun 2017 11:10
Can a gyroscope tell if Earth is a spinning ball?
Well, Yes it can, according the Foucault in 1852, who conducted an experiment that is nonchalantly breezed over in Media and science books
Jean Bernard L(C)on Foucault was a French physicist best known for his demonstration of the Foucault pendulum, a device I will cover in detail in a later post. His gyroscope is on the right (below)
I thought this would be an excellent experiment to recreate with modern high precision technology and electric motors (on the left, above). So I did'...
The premise is that if the Earth were moving, as we are taught, then a Gyroscope
spun up & 'rigid in space' on earth, would reflect this
movement by rotating 15 degrees per hour over a 3/6/12 hr
This video is not intended to provide proof of anything to
the viewer, It is provided as evidence in order for the viewer
to conduct their own experiments and build on this
knowledge base.
For any naysayers thinking the attached motor was some how to blame for the lack of precession, here's an example from Rob Durham of a similar experiment but without the motor'...
'...And if you think the friction in the gimbal bearing would stop it rotating, check out my bearing friction experiment demonstrating it's capabilities to register the alleged slow spin of earth (Cracking music by B.o.B too)
How and why is this important? Well let Bob from Globebusters, a pilot for 35 years, HAM Radio licence holder and electrical engineer, explain why the humble gyroscope is the number one proof that we live on a stationary plane
Here a time stamped clip of Bob discussing the gyroscope from a pilots point of view and the upcoming experiments they have planned it in the Flat Earth Fleet of planes at their disposal. He also bad mouths Leon Foucault which is always welcome on this blog, see here, here & here
GLOBEBUSTERS Gyro Update [Flat Earth]
Sadly I've not found any documentation to suggest that Airy ever performed the experiment himself, but his propensity to call experiments, that show no spin of the earth, a ''failure'' (see Airy's Failure) speaks volumes about his confirmation bias.
However, that aside, the 7th Astronomer Royal does state that ''By this device the action of gravity is eliminated'' This is a fundamental property of a spinning gyroscope and even mainstream modern science has to admit it.
When I say that modern science agrees that gravity does not affect the gyroscope, I mean they say this in veiled ways but rarely outright. Terms like ''Rigidity in Space'' & ''Torque free movement'' are referred to and, of course we were all taught that 'gravity' exerts a torque.
When they refer to gravity with regards the gyroscope, they are describing the laws of density and buoyancy, which they insist on calling gravity.
They will include little g and big G in there equations, then cancel them out in the footnotes.
When in reality the real equations don't include gravity at all
This removal of gravity is the reason why a gyroscope is perfect to demonstrate the stationary plane, being as the go-to answer to all heliocentric paradoxes is the 'magick' of gravity (RIP gravity)
Test it yourself, and let me know
@SwearyG on Twitter
To see the riveting unedited RAW 6hrs of my gyroscope video, go here
or the much more palatable 3min summery here: Watch my latest experiment proving the bearing in the gimbal setup on my gyroscope is more than capable of registering the supposed turn of the Earth
Watch Globebusters Analyse My Bearing Friction Test LIVE
Here's is a great follow-up on Foucault's Gyroscope experiment by Rob Durham, along with conclusive proof from an aviation gyrocompass that the Earth is not moving
VIDEO - Trump Interrupts Call to Compliment Female Reporter's 'Nice Smile' - NYTimes.com
Thu, 29 Jun 2017 03:16
President Trump was at his desk in the Oval Office and on the phone with the new prime minister of Ireland on Tuesday when a journalist for an Irish news organization caught his eye.
''Well, we have a lot of your Irish press watching us,'' Mr. Trump said to the prime minister, Leo Varadkar, as several reporters looked on.
Then, interrupting his conversation with Mr. Varadkar, Mr. Trump pointed at the journalist, Caitriona Perry, and gestured for her to come to him.
''And where are you from?'' he said. ''Go ahead. Come here, come here. Where are you from? We have all of this beautiful Irish press.''
After she introduced herself, Mr. Trump told Mr. Varadkar, ''She has a nice smile on her face so I bet she treats you well.''
The exchange, which was captured on video and widely shared on social media, drew criticism about how Mr. Trump treats women and the message it sent about the attitude toward women as professionals in their fields.
Elisa Lees Mu±oz, executive director of the International Women's Media Foundation, said on Wednesday that she had heard about the episode in passing.
After a transcript of the exchange was read to her over the phone, she said: ''Oh, Lord. I wish I could say this is a surprise.''
She said such occurrences were not limited to Mr. Trump, adding that female journalists are frequently called out for their appearance, their hair and the way they dress.
Comments like the president's detract from a woman's value as a professional, she said.
''We absolutely do not see that happening with male reporters,'' she said. ''I don't know what the solution to this is. It does need to be called out. It does need to stop.''
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Kris Macomber, an assistant professor of sociology at Meredith College in Raleigh, N.C., said in an email that Mr. Trump's comments reflect ''textbook paternalistic sexism,'' which is often couched in a '' 'playful' tone, as if she should feel flattered.''
''Donald Trump's track record for sexist remarks is well documented, and this particular case fits right in line with his previous remarks,'' she wrote. ''He didn't say those things for Perry's sake; rather he said those things to show all the people in the room (and the cameras) that he's the kind of man who flirts with women he considers attractive.''
Most notably, a month before the election, a 2005 recording surfaced of Mr. Trump talking to the television personality Billy Bush of ''Access Hollywood'' and speaking in extraordinarily vulgar terms about women.
In 2013, President Obama apologized to Kamala Harris, who was then the attorney general of California and is now one of its senators, after telling a group of wealthy donors that she was ''the best-looking attorney general in the country.'' The comment drew accusations of sexism, which the White House at the time quickly sought to quiet.
Ms. Perry, the Washington correspondent for Raidi" Teilif­s ‰ireann, could not be reached to comment on Wednesday. On Twitter, she posted a video of the exchange and described it as a ''bizarre moment.''
RTE hadan article on its webpage under the entertainment category with the headline ''Trump call! RT‰'s Caitr­ona has Presidential moment.''
Ms. Perry told RTE she expected to shoot footage from outside the window of the White House during the president's call but that reporters were invited inside.
''One minute we were outside the window and the next minute I'm meeting the president of the United States,'' she said. ''When we went in he was already on the phone but I must have caught his eye and he called me over.''
The White House did not respond to an email requesting comment.
On Twitter, some users reacted with revulsion.
Deb Curry wrote: ''Please, don't judge us by this man. My husband would never treat you like this in a workplace. So inappropriate.''
Others defended the president and said he was complimenting Ms. Perry.
Twitter user Mike Boyd wrote: ''Our generation calls what POTUS did a simple act of dignity and kindness. When kindness is mistaken for being bizarre, it's a sad commentary.''
VIDEO - Watch: Chuck Schumer Hammered on Senate Floor for Lying About Trump Being Under Investigation
Thu, 29 Jun 2017 03:14
Repeat a lying enough times, it becomes truth.
Chuck Schumer tried to pull that move claiming Trump was under FBI investigation, but his plan didn't to turn that fib into fact didn't go very far.
Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles Grassley made damn sure about that!
In order to destroy a lie and a liar, you've got to tell the truth, so Grassley started his statement with the real facts:
The FBI was not investigating President Trump in the Russia probe. So the media was wrong; so the Democrats were wrong; so the wild speculation and conspiracy theories ended up harming our country.
They played right into Russia's hands. And how did we all learn about this truth? In President Trump's letter removing Mr. Comey from office.
At first most didn't believe it; the media scoffed when they wrote what the president said in that letter. They insisted that Mr. Comey would never tell the president he was not under investigation.
Well, we learned earlier this month from Mr. Comey himself that he had done exactly that. It wasn't a surprise to me because Mr. Comey had told me the same thing.
Then the Senate Judiciary Chairman turned his raging hot fury on to Schumer, the lying Senate Minority Leader weasel:
Grassley: I have to note something else here; Mr. Comey didn't just tell the president, Senator Feinstein and me that the president was not under investigation; he had also told the ''Gang of Eight.'' Of course, the ''Gang of Eight'' includes Senate Minority Leader Senator Schumer.
But even after Mr. Comey told the gang of eight that the president was not under investigation, the minority leader told the media that the president was under investigation and of course that further helped feed media storm hysteria.
He didn't stop there.
Hammering Schumer for his antagonistic attitude in March when he stated on the Senate floor, ''You can bet that if the shoe was on the other foot '-- and a Democratic president was under investigation by the FBI '-- that Republicans would be howling at the moon about filling a Supreme Court seat in such circumstances. After all, they stopped a president who wasn't under investigation from filling a seat with nearly a year left in his presidency.''
Grassley stated, ''The Minority Leader even tried to say that the Senate shouldn't vote on the Supreme Court nomination because the president was under investigation and the whole time he knew it wasn't true. So media hysteria and baseless political attacks filled the vacuum left by Mr. Comey's failure to inform the public, to be transparent, to be accountable.''
Every politician needs to be kept in line.
No more getting away with lies and empty promises.
VIDEO - CNN Anchor: Trump Putting Journalists In Danger; "Declaration Of War On Media" Has "Emboldened" War Zones | Video | RealClearPolitics
Thu, 29 Jun 2017 00:20
CNN's Clarissa Ward, a foreign correspondent, served as guest co-host on Wednesday's broadcast of CNN's News Day. Ward fretted "people" in war zones have been "emboldened" by President Trump's "declaration of war on the media." Ward, expressing concern for members of the media in dangerous areas of the world, said to guest Chris Cillizza, 'I can only imagine what a person like you is dealing with. At what point does this become reckless or irresponsible?'
It should be noted Chris Cillizza is a Washington-based political correspondent and commentator.
RELATED: CNN's Cuomo: This Whole Fake News Thing Needs To End, And It Needs To End Right Now
Playboy White House correspondent Brian Karem, who has received new-found fame after his exchange with White House deputy spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders at Tuesday's press briefing, said Ward is "absolutely right" and talked about the trial and tribulations of reporters who have been jailed and even killed.
"Our newspapers after Donald Trump's election, we've gotten threats from both the far left and the far right," Karem said. "They are emboldened, it is dangerous, and the fact of the matter is, it is insulting to the memory of the people who have given their lives for the cause for providing information to the public to then be told you are fake media, you do not matter, and what you're doing is false."
Karem went as far to predict "we are going to see a reporter face physical harm because" of Trump.
"And quite frankly, every one of us should stand up against that because it is undermining the First Amendment. It is dangerous, making it dangerous for reporters. You're absolutely right, there is going to come a time, and it's not going to be too far off I surmise when we're going to see a reporter is going to face physical harm because of this," he said.
Transcript, via CNN:
CLARISSA WARD, CNN HOST: Chris, at what point does this become dangerous? And I'm not just talking about dangerous in terms of tearing at the social fabric, I'm talking about dangerous as in a journalist gets hurt, because I can tell you working overseas in war zones, people are emboldened by the actions of this administration, emboldened by the all-out declaration of war on the media. If I'm getting it in the neck, Chris, I can only imagine what a person like you is dealing with. At what point does this become reckless or irresponsible, Chris?
CHRIS CILLIZZA, EDITOR AT LARGE, CNN POLITICS: I don't want to say we're past that point.
CILLIZZA: I think it is already dangerous what the Trump administration is doing, which is Brian's point. They are trying to taken an honest mistake, or not even a mistake, and turn it into the norm as opposed -- the rule opposed to the exception, which is a very dangerous thing because that's willfully misleading, frankly.
The idea that Dave Farenthold, who was my colleague for a very long time and doesn't toot his own horn enough, the idea he was attacked for doing what he did had nothing to do with the quality of the journalism he was doing. It was 100 percent about it was a bad story for Donald Trump. In Donald Trump's world the media is judged by you are good if you write things that are good for Donald Trump. You are objectively bad if you criticize Donald Trump. It is not our job to be liked by Donald Trump. It is not our job to report the news -- as Sean Spicer said and Sarah said it yesterday, you guys ignore the news that's important. You know, I do think the Russian hacking of an election is important news.
CUOMO: Right.
CILLIZZA: We can debate collusion. They're right, there's no evidence of that. But this is about the broader hacking of an election. In Dave's case it was about a charitable organization that didn't give to charity for the man who was running to be the president of the United States. It doesn't have to do with the fact Donald Trump is a Republican. I guarantee you a million times over, because I know Dave personally, if it was the Hillary Clinton Foundation doing the same thing, he would have done the same reporting. That's what's maddening when you're watching this.
VIDEO - The Progressive Liberal is the wrestler fans love to hate
Thu, 29 Jun 2017 00:17
If you're not familiar with professional wrestling terminology, you may not know the terms ''face'' and ''heel.'' The former basically means hero '-- the person fans come to cheer on '-- and the latter is more or less the villain '-- the guy the fans love to hate. Faces might get all the adoration, but as in all storytelling, a good heel usually makes for a far more interesting character. Sometimes heels even develop such a following they turn into faces. But something tells me that's not going to be the case with one of the latest wrestlers to step in the ring in the Kentucky-based Appalachian Mountain Wrestling organization.
When it's fight time, Dan Richards becomes the ''Progressive Liberal,'' and if you thought a character with a name like that would be hard-pressed to win over a bunch of Appalachian Kentuckians, you'd be right. In the Progressive Liberal's promos, he's often seen wearing ''Not My President'' T-shirts, or one with thousands of pictures of Hillary Clinton on it.
It's not so much that the Kentucky audience is completely conservative '-- in one of the promo videos below, the crowd starts chanting ''feel the Bern'' when Richards steps up to the mic '-- it's that the Progressive Liberal perfectly embodies the smug elitism Democrats on the coasts are stereotyped with. His interviews pretty much consist of him correcting people's pronunciation and grammar, or questioning the intelligence of the ''hill-jacks'' who showed up to watch the match. He insults country music, saying fans only like it because it's ''slow and simple'... just like you are.''
Like any good heel, he's completely full of himself, but he complains he can't get a fair shake because nobody would let ''a blue-blooded Democrat like him win'' '-- and if there's one venn diagram circle where conservatives and wrestling fans definitely overlap, it's a shared distaste for people whining about things being unfair.
You can tell Richards is a great heel because after listening to him talk for one minute, you want to punch him in the face. And that's exactly what he's going for. He's not the first wrestler to imbue politics into his character, either. In the early '80s, the Iron Sheik capitalized off the Iranian hostage crisis to become one of the greatest heels of all time. More recently, Sam Adonis joined the Mexican Lucha Libre wrestling circuit and adopted the persona of a flag-waving Donald Trump fan. He's one of the most popular characters in the league, and according to one sports writer, ''might be the most hated man in Mexico.''
[screen shot: Appalachian Mountain Wrestling]
VIDEO - Fed's Yellen expects no new financial crisis in 'our lifetimes' - YouTube
Thu, 29 Jun 2017 00:16
VIDEO - Middletown considers 3 strike policy on responding to overdoses
Tue, 27 Jun 2017 12:53
MIDDLETOWN, Ohio '--A controversial proposal has been made in Middletown to deal with heroin overdoses.
Middletown is considering whether people with addiction should only be given two strikes before they're out of chances at Narcan.
Middletown is struggling to deal with the heroin problem.
''We are faced with stress on our services, particularly the EMS services where we can do six to eight opioid overdose runs a day,'' said Paul Lolli, fire chief of Middletown.
The number of overdoses jumped this year. Last year, there were 532 overdoses. So far, only halfway through 2017, there are already 577.
Also last year, the department spent more than $11,000 on Narcan. This year, $30,000 has been spent on it.
This is a result of more overdoses and the increasing strength of the drugs addicts are using, officials said.
The number of deaths from overdoses is on track to increase, as well. Last year, there were 74 deaths. So far this year, there are 51.
Leaders are frustrated trying to find a solution.
City council member Dan Picard is proposing a three strikes system. After the first two overdose rescues, the person would perform community service for the equivalent amount of money used on the lifesaving response.
The third strike is a bit more controversial.
"If the dispatcher determines that the person who's overdosed is someone who's been part of the program for two previous overdoses and has not completed the community service and has not cooperated in the program, then we wouldn't dispatch,'' said Dan Picard, Middletown city council member.
The fire department said they are required by law to provide Narcan if they do respond to an overdose.
Picard said this plan is not aiming to solve the drug problem; it's an attempt to save the city's finances.
"We've got to do what we've got to do to maintain our financial security and this is just costing us too much money,'' Picard said.
Until legal advisers look at the plan proposed by Picard, the fire department is applying for grants and accepting donations to fund more Narcan.
VIDEO - North Fulton man given Narcan, dodges DUI charge
Tue, 27 Jun 2017 12:39
North Fulton man given Narcan, dodges DUI chargeOR
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Posted: 8:59 p.m. Monday, June 26, 2017
The driver nearly overdosed in the car.
Police gave the man Narcan, but were unable to draw blood to test for a possible DUI.
Roswell police said once they gave a driver Narcan to avoid a possible overdose, he could no longer be charged with DUI, even after witnesses say he hit several cars and forced at least one driver off the road.
''My first thought was he was impaired or having some type of emergency that he probably shouldn't be driving,'' Michael Willis told Channel 2 Action News. ''I saw him start driving up on the sidewalk and he was driving on the wrong side of a narrow, two-lane road.''
But any evidence of drugs or alcohol in the driver's system was wiped out once he received medical treatment, according to a police report.
MORE:GBI says deadly counterfeit pills contain two synthetic opioids
MORE: Another overdose in Georgia related to fake Percocet pills
MORE: Overdose death toll mounts in Middle Georgia
Police got calls about a reckless driver along Ga. 92 westbound near Mountain Park Road on June 9, the report stated. Witnesses, including Willis, tried to warn other drivers and attempted to box the car in before it pulled into a school parking lot.
Officers arrived to the scene to find an ''extremely lethargic'' and ''in and out of consciousness'' driver. The man is not identified in the police report. His wife, police said, was also in the car and was nearly unconscious, but told police she was fine.
MORE: Parents charged with murder after toddler dies from opioid in DeKalb
MORE:Cobb police warn of accidental opioid exposure
''It became pretty apparent the driver was under the influence of some type of narcotics where they had to administer Narcan to the driver to revive him,'' Roswell police Officer Lisa Holland told Channel 2.
The driver's condition and the emergency treatment prohibited any blood from being drawn, according to the report. Police noted in the report that the wife had signs of an overdose, but they did not administer Narcan. The driver was given two citations for hit-and-run, according to the report.
The couple was taken to the hospital for treatment.
''I think it's upsetting that they can't be charged,'' Willis said. '''...they were endangering a lot of people.''
VIDEO - Google Gets Record $2.7 Billion EU Fine for Skewing Searches - Bloomberg
Tue, 27 Jun 2017 12:33
Google lost its biggest regulatory battle yet, getting a record 2.4 billion-euro ($2.7 billion) fine from European Union enforcers who say the search-engine giant skewed results to thwart smaller shopping search services.
Alphabet Inc.'s Google has 90 days to "stop its illegal conduct" and give equal treatment to rival price-comparison services, according to a binding order from the European Commission on Tuesday. It's up to Google to choose how it does this and inform the EU of its plans within 60 days. Failure to comply brings a risk of fines of up to 5 percent of its daily revenue.
"Google has abused its market dominance," EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager told reporters in Brussels.
Source: Bloomberg
"The more consumers click on comparison shopping results, the more money Google makes," said Margrethe Vestager, the EU's antitrust chief. "This decision requires Google to change the way it operates and to face the consequence of its actions."
Shares of Mountain View, California-based Google fell 1.5 percent in pre-market trading in New York. They've risen 23 percent so far this year.
Vestager's decision marks the end of a seven-year probe fueled by complaints from small shopping websites as well as bigger names, including News Corp., Axel Springer SE and Microsoft Corp. European politicians have called on the EU to sanction Google or even break it up while U.S. critics claim regulators are targeting successful American firms.
Read more: Google's Seven Years of Antitrust Tribulation in Europe
Google's lawyer Kent Walker said the company respectfully disagrees with the EU's conclusions and will consider a court appeal, according to a blog post.
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"When you shop online, you want to find the products you're looking for quickly and easily,'' Walker said. ''And advertisers want to promote those same products. That's why Google shows shopping ads, connecting our users with thousands of advertisers, large and small, in ways that are useful for both. We think our current shopping results are useful and are a much-improved version of the text-only ads we showed a decade ago."
Years AheadVestager said the case is likely to stay on her desk "for quite some time" as regulators monitor how Google deals with the order "for a number of years." Regulators haven't talked to Google about how it might meet the EU's expectations. Vestager said "it is very important for Google to find their way of complying" with the EU order.
Google has been pushing its own comparison-shopping service since 2008, systematically giving it prominent placement when people search for an item, the EU said. Rival comparison sites usually only appear on page four of search results, effectively denying them a massive audience as the first page attracts 95 percent of all clicks.
"As a result of Google's illegal practices, traffic to Google's comparison-shopping service increased significantly, whilst rivals have suffered very substantial losses of traffic on a lasting basis," the EU said, citing figures of a 45 percent increase in traffic for Google's service.
Vestager said the EU might also need to take a closer look at Google's behavior concerning maps, travel and restaurant reviews.
Proposed EU fine leaves Google with plenty of cash
Why the EU Will Slap Google Over Product Searches: QuickTake Q&A
Tuesday's fines could just be the first in a series of EU antitrust penalties for Google, which is fighting on at least two other fronts, including its Android mobile-phone software and the AdSense online advertising service. The decision follows Russia's $7.8 million antitrust fine and penalties from Italian, German and French privacy authorities. Europe has proved a tough jurisdiction for Google, which fell foul of the region's top court, losing a high-profile right-to-be-forgotten case three years ago.
"Vestager is proving she means business," said Thomas Vinje, a lawyer who represents FairSearch, a group of companies that complained to the EU. "This decision will mean that consumers receive comparison-shopping results that offer genuinely the best purchasing options."
While the penalty is a record, it will do little to faze a company whose parent has more than $90 billion in cash. Of graver concern is the way regulators called on Google to change the way it handles online shopping searches, one of its biggest sources of sales growth and strongest weapons against rivals Facebook Inc. and Amazon.com Inc.
Read more: Follow our TOPLive blog on the EU Google fine
The EU says that Google doesn't subject its own service to its algorithm, which ranks search results on quality and relevance to the user. It said it gathered huge amounts of data, including 5.2 terabytes of search results from Google, based on 1.7 billion search queries.
"It would take me 17,000 years to read them all out to you," Vestager told reporters.
Photographer: Jasper Juinen/Bloomberg
The EU's allegations strike at the heart of a type of online advertising known as product listing ads, or PLAs, that is growing at almost three times the rate of traditional text-based search ads, according to digital marketing firm Merkle Inc. The format lets a marketer place an ad for an item with large images and price information in the prime digital real estate at the top of search results.
Vestager doesn't fear big numbers when trying to convince companies to step back in line.
She has ordered Apple Inc. to repay some 13 billion euros in tax advantages and hit truck makers with a record cartel fine of nearly 3 billion euros. The Google fine tops a 1.06 billion-euro penalty eight years ago for Intel Corp., which is still waiting for the final outcome of a court appeal.
Her move against Google risks attracting further criticism that she's unfairly singled out U.S. companies. While she's said American firms are "under no specific fire because of their nationality," transatlantic tensions are already on the rise after President Donald Trump's decision to pull out of the Paris climate accord, adding to concerns over global trade.
Even so, any backlash against the Google decision from American industry is likely to be reduced. U.S. companies played a big part in lobbying the EU to take action after U.S. regulators ended their investigation into Google search.
VIDEO - Gold Plunges After 1.8 Million Ounces Were Traded in One Minute - Bloomberg
Tue, 27 Jun 2017 12:10
Gold traders shaken awake by Monday's rapid price plunge said the move probably won't mean an end to the sleepy pace that's characterized the market in recent months.
Bullion sank at 9 a.m. in London on Monday after a huge spike in volume in New York futures that traders said may have been the result of a ''fat finger,'' or erroneous order. Trading jumped to 1.8 million ounces of gold in just a minute, an amount that's bigger than the gold reserves of Finland.
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The episode is unlikely to upend the broader trend in gold, where volatility has languished, analysts including George Gero at RBC Wealth Management said. A measure of price swings in the metal fell in April to the lowest in records going back to 2007. It's since held near that level, even amid political discord in Europe, rising U.S. interest rates and mounting tensions between the U.S. and North Korea.
''You haven't seen volatility when volatility was warranted,'' said Gero, a New York-based managing director at RBC. ''You've got a host of important matters that could have moved gold much more than they did. Whenever there's an event-driven rally, it doesn't seem to last.''
Some 18,149 lots were traded on Comex in just a minute on Monday, before falling back to 2,334 lots an hour later.
Gold futures fell as much as 1.6 percent to $1,236.50 an ounce on the Comex, the lowest for a most-active contract since May 17. The metal for August delivery traded at $1,245.90 an ounce at 1:05 p.m. in Singapore on Tuesday.
''No one has a clue, apart from the unfortunate individual that pressed the wrong button,'' David Govett, head of precious metals trading at Marex Spectron Group in London, said of the spike in volume. Thin activity and automated trading may exacerbate such moves, he said.
Others said a trader may have made a larger order than intended, or underestimated the market's ability to absorb so much gold.
''This bears the hallmarks of a fat-finger 'Muppet' -- a trade of 18,149 ounces would be a very typical trade, but a trade of 18,149 lots of a futures contract (which is 100 times bigger) would not be,'' Ross Norman, chief executive officer of Sharps Pixley Ltd., a London-based precious-metals dealer, said in a note.
''It leaves us wondering if a junior had got confused between 'ounces' and 'lots,''' Norman said.
Rising use of computer-driven algorithmic trading has often been blamed for extraordinary movements in financial markets, known as flash crashes, in recent years.
For a QuickTake on why machine learning often fails, click here
''These moves are going to become more widespread with the way things are going,'' Govett said by email. "The more they happen, the worse they will become as people back away from holding positions."
While speculation mounted on what triggered Monday's move, analysts said the effect was compounded by thin trading amid holidays in countries including Singapore and Malaysia.
Brad Yates, head of trading for U.S. gold refiner Elemetal, said the low volatility seen in gold and other markets including equities will probably linger for a little while longer.
''We expect to see volatility in gold along with other assets pick up some time in the fourth quarter,'' said Yates. ''From a bigger perspective, gold's suppressed volatility is symptomatic of everything else in the macro market. In the meantime, we are subject to short-lived shocks, followed by extended periods of quiet.''
VIDEO - Project Veritas on Anedot
Tue, 27 Jun 2017 12:05
CNN is actively plotting a fake news campaign, aimed squarely at Trump--and Project Veritas just caught them red-handed.
For obvious reasons, we expect the mainstream media to do everything they can to bury coverage of this scandal. If we're going to get this video seen by the American people, we need to reach them ourselves--and we can't do that without your immediate help.
Please help Project Veritas expose the truth about CNN to the maximum number of people possible by making your most-generous, tax-deductible donation of:
VIDEO - American Pravda: CNN Part 1, Russia narrative is all about ''ratings'' | Project Veritas
Tue, 27 Jun 2017 11:15
CNN Producer: ''Our ratings are incredible right now,'' President Trump ''good for business''John BonifieldSays Russia Narrative''Mostly bullshit right now'' ''Get back to Russia,'' Says CEO Jeff ZuckerPresident Trump is Right About Witch Hunt, ''No real proof''Comes in Wake of CNN's Russia-Gate Retraction & New Rules on Russia Coverage
(New York) Project Veritas has released a video of CNN Producer John Bonifield who was caught on hidden-camera admitting that there is no proof to CNN's Russia narrative.
''I mean, it's mostly bullshit right now,'' Bonifield says. ''Like, we don't have any giant proof.''
He confirms that the driving factor at CNN is ratings:
''It's a business, people are like the media has an ethical phssssss'...All the nice cutesy little ethics that used to get talked about in journalism school you're just like, that's adorable. That's adorable. This is a business.''
According to the CNN Producer, business is booming. ''Trump is good for business right now,'' he concluded.
Bonifield further goes on to explain that the instructions come straight from the top, citing the CEO, Jeff Zucker:
''Just to give you some context, President Trump pulled out of the climate accords and for a day and a half we covered the climate accords. And the CEO of CNN (Jeff Zucker) said in our internal meeting, he said good job everybody covering the climate accords, but we're done with that, let's get back to Russia.''
Bonifield also acknowledged: ''I haven't seen any good enough evidence to show that the President committed a crime.'' He continues:
''I just feel like they don't really have it but they want to keep digging. And so I think the President is probably right to say, like, look you are witch hunting me. You have no smoking gun, you have no real proof.''
''To report not on facts, but instead on narratives that yield high ratings, is exactly the definition of fake news,'' said James O'Keefe. ''We said we are going after the media, and there is a lot more to come.''
VIDEO - GPF's Jacob L. Shapiro interviews Theodore Karasik on future of Middle East - YouTube
Mon, 26 Jun 2017 14:48
VIDEO - DNC leader Keith Ellison: CAP president 'kills, slays, fights' Republicans every day - The American MirrorThe American Mirror
Mon, 26 Jun 2017 14:44
DNC leader Keith Ellison: CAP president 'kills, slays, fights' Republicans every day - The American MirrorThe American MirrorNot even the attempted assassination of Republican members of Congress by a raging leftist will get Democrats to stop using violent rhetoric against their political opponents.
During a Facebook live event with Center for American Progress president Neera Tanden on Wednesday, DNC vice chair and Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison complimented Tanden by telling the audience, ''She kills, slays, fights 'em every single day,'' referring to Republicans.
''I'm proud of you Neera,'' he added.
(C) The American Mirror 2017
VIDEO - Press Briefing with Press Secretary Sean Spicer and Secretary of Energy Rick Perry - YouTube
Thu, 29 Jun 2017 15:25
VIDEO - New island appears off North Carolina coast - CNN.com | CNN Travel
Thu, 29 Jun 2017 15:19
(CNN) '--North Carolina's Cape Hatteras National Seashore has always been stunning, but now there's a new wonder for visitors to explore: A new island has appeared in the ocean almost overnight. Spotted by eagle-eyed locals on the ground -- and photographed by Chad Koczera -- the sandbank has grown from tiny isle to large land mass. Now visitors are braving the waters to explore this new addition to the shoreline. 'Shelly island'
Chad Koczera captured these shots of the island via drone.
Some have nicknamed the isle "Shelly island," visitor Janice Regan told The Virginian Pilot. Apparently, it's the perfect spot to collect seashells. Koczera, vacationing in the area with his fiancee, was also on the hunt for shells went he spotted the island.
"We originally headed that way to collect shells after a storm," Koczera tells CNN Travel.
The photographer spotted the mysterious island, but realized he couldn't access it by foot.
"So I sent my drone up to check it out," he says. Koczera was rewarded with spectacular photos of this sandy island.
Island exploring
Cape Hatteras is famous for its surf and beach community.
The island is roughly one mile long and located in surfing hotspot Cape Point.
But officials have warned that people should not attempt to swim to the island. Waters are deep, and the current is strong.
"Travel to the sandbar is best accomplished by experienced kayakers or paddleboarders that are using appropriate floatation and mindful of the strong currents in the area," Dave Hallac, superintendent of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, told CNN Travel:
Hallac also told The Virginian Pilot that Cape Point's shoreline is constantly changing.
The island could disappear as quickly as it arrived.
But in the meantime, locals and visitors alike can enjoy the ever-changing Cape coastline, as long as they take the necessary precautions.
VIDEO - CBS Repeatedly Frets That Pelosi Isn't Up to the Job of Stopping Trump | MRCTV
Thu, 29 Jun 2017 14:42
[See NewsBusters for more.] Are the long, liberal knives of journalists out for Nancy Pelosi? The Democratic Minority Leader on Monday appeared on CBS This Morning and endured repeated questions about whether she is up to the job of facing down Donald Trump and the Republicans. After playing a montage of anti-Pelosi Democrats, Charlie Rose reminded, ''You've been losing special elections, four of them, and people say it's because they says the Democrat Party, which you're a leader, has no message. Your only message is anti-Trump.'' The Minority Leader provided the typical spin that Democrats lost only by a little in each of the special elections. A worried Rose underlined, ''But they lost.'' Co-host Gayle King chided, ''Why don't you think you should step aside?''
VIDEO - Sen. Graham Can't Get an Answer: Did Intel Community Monitor His Conversations With Foreign Leaders? | MRCTV
Thu, 29 Jun 2017 14:34
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 - 'You're Inflaming Everybody,' Local Reporter Attacks Deputy WH Press Sec At Briefing' | MRCTV
Thu, 29 Jun 2017 14:29
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 - The View Defends Media as Protecting America From a 'Dictatorship' | MRCTV
Thu, 29 Jun 2017 14:20
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 - CNN: 'We're Not Complaining' About Press Briefings, 'Just Pointing it Out' | MRCTV
Thu, 29 Jun 2017 14:06
***To read the full blog, please check out the complete post on NewsBusters***
In one of the most ridiculous segments on CNN Wednesday, host Don Lemon claimed that he and other personalities of the organization weren't complaining about the Trump White House's press briefings. ''But this is just more about pointing out the hypocrisy in all this. Listen, we're not complaining here. We're just pointing it out to you, everyone,'' he managed to say with a straight face on CNN Tonight. That assertion came after CNN had spent the first half of the week shouting from the rooftops about how the White House wasn't allowing video coverage of the daily White House press briefings.
And un-ironically, Lemon's declaration of intent came after he and his liberal journalist guests spent the first 10 minutes of the show discussing the press briefings. ''Yesterday's press briefing was on camera. A good portion of it was to attack the press. And unfairly do it.Is this about the president needing an enemy,'' he asked David Chalian.
VIDEO - Criticism of Trump Shifts From 'Collusion' to 'Inaction': 'Dereliction' of His Duty to Defend the Country | MRCTV
Thu, 29 Jun 2017 14:01
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.
Thu, 29 Jun 2017 12:38
VIDEO - Project Veritas|American Pravda: CNN
Thu, 29 Jun 2017 12:33
White House: Everyone Should Watch This VideoCNN Responds: Bonifield Just a "Health Producer"(NEW YORK) -- Project Veritas' American Pravda: CNN continues today with a video of left-leaning political commentator Van Jones caught on camera plainly stating that "the Russia thing is just a big nothing burger."
This follows the release of a video of CNN Producer John Bonifield, who was caught touting the Russia narrative as "bullsh*t."
According to Brian Stelter on Twitter, CNN released a statement stating that Bonifield is just a "Health Producer" and "isn't involved in Russia or Trump coverage."
Paul Fahri of the Washington Post also weighed in on the Veritas video and Bonifield's position at CNN:
"[I]t never mentions that Bonifield is a producer of health and medical stories, raising questions about how relevant his views are, and how informed he is, about CNN's political coverage."
Jones is one of CNN's most prominent political commentators, and has appeared on CNN in the past attacking President Trump for his "Putin relationship."
On December 18, 2016 Jones said: "Other Presidents tried to say nice things about the Russians -- not in the face of an active attack on the country!"
"I mean, it's mostly bullshit right now," Bonifield says in the first video. "Like, we don't have any giant proof."
CNN's Public Relations team eventually was forced by the overwhelming coverage of our video (with no help from them, of course) to give a statement:
"CNN stands by our medical producer John Bonifield. Diversity of personal opinion is what makes CNN strong, we welcome it and embrace it."
CNN is receiving heavy criticism from the President of the United States, and the video was mentioned by the Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders:
"There is a video circulating now. Whether it is accurate or not, I don't know, but I would encourage everybody in this room, and frankly, everybody across the country to take a look at it. I think if it is accurate, I think it's a disgrace to all of media, to all of journalism -- we've been going on this Russia-Trump hoax for the better part of a year now with no evidence of anything."
"Last year, we had to circumvent the mainstream media," said James O'Keefe. "At a Trump inaugural event, I put the mainstream media on notice. If you are in the media and are using deception or malfeasant tactics, you may want to sleep with one eye open."
VIDEO - American Airlines invests $6 million for new 3D scanners at airports
Thu, 29 Jun 2017 11:44
The future of airport security will be a lot safer with the introduction of new 3D scanning machines.
Produced by Analogic Corporation, these machines use Computed Tomography (CT) technology to provide a 360-degree view of baggage going through the scanner. American Airlines (AAL) invested $6 million to purchase multiple units of the Analogic ConneCT system which the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will test at airports around the US.
Currently, CT machines are being piloted at Phoenix Sky Harbor International (PHX) and Logan International in Boston (BOS). Passengers transiting through Terminal 4 at Phoenix and Terminal E at Boston may be asked to volunteer for screening using this technology.
When a bag goes through security today, TSA officials are met with a two-dimensional picture offering limited views. With the Analogic machines, security officials will be able to rotate the image and zoom in to get a better view.
Courtesy of Analogic
More ''We believe strongly in risk-based, intelligence-driven security protocols, which enable the aviation industry to identify, manage and mitigate risk,'' said Kerry Philipovitch, senior vice president for customer service at American Airlines. ''Our partnerships with the TSA and Analogic will transform aviation security by bringing state-of-the-art CT technology to the security checkpoint.''
This enhanced level of detection could allow passengers to leave liquids, gels, and aerosols in their bags. The TSA will also be able to see concealed weapons and explosives, even those hidden within personal electronic devices like laptops.
In recent months, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has expressed concern with the growing threat of explosives hidden in laptop computers. There are currently 10 airports under an electronic laptop ban, which prohibits items larger than a smartphone from being placed in a carry-on. Instead, passengers have to place these items in their checked bags. The Trump administration has considered extending the ban to flights coming to the US from European cities, but says it will hold off if overseas airports step up security.
CT technology could become a tool for security officials to properly screen and detect harmful items without forcing passengers to remove electronics from carry-on bags.
''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,'' said TSA Acting Administrator Huban Gowadia.
Brittany is a reporter at Yahoo Finance.
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