Producer Daniel on BTC book and benies
Hey Adam I love your show no agenda and really appreciate what you offer along with John. I feel horrible about not donating although I smack people in the mouth as much as possible until I can. Anyways my financial situation blinded my critical thinking cortex (that is always strengthened by no agenda) led me to believe Bitcoin was a savior. I rolled my eyes at the beanie baby jokes and kept on just researching away on Bitcoin with belief and optimism. Then I found this book and it sobered me up from all the Bitcoin hype and I just want to thank you before I got a job and and put more blind faith in the hype. You guys got me to do more research and no agendas analysis is spot on. The book is "attack of the 50 foot blockchain" and these two pages are nearly identical to the Deconstruction on your show except with an entire book to go with it. Thanks again, don't worry I'll be donating! (I have a shameless plug I need to promote once I do anyways ha) keep up the amazing work.
Ethereum: how to build your own cryptocurrency without coding
Thu, 03 Aug 2017 22:12
Posted by Alex Van de Sande on December 3rd, 2015. A lot of things have happened in the past few weeks in the Ethereum ecosystem, so many that it might be hard for a casual observer to understand where we are and what's available out there. So I would like to use my first post here to give you an overview of the tools we've built and how you can use them to build interesting things right now.
But first a short introduction: I am Alex Van de Sande and I am the lead designer on the Ethereum foundation. At DevconOne I gave a talk entitled ''The Blockchain Versus The Average User'' where I went into more details on the challenges to bringing the Ethereum ecosystem to the aforementioned ''Average User'', one of which is the difficulty of defining what that term even means. When personal computers were introduced they were advertised as being ''to the rest of us'', but the ''rest of us'' public they targeted was actually a very narrow audience interested in word processing, spreadsheets and desktop publishing. Today, those would be considered among the top tier geeks, just below the kinds of people that still fight over the merits of Vim versus emacs. I truly believe that one day your Candy-crush-playing grandma/grandpa will use the blockchain, just like today he/she uses databases and https connections without realising it (maybe when they convert blue diamonds won on one game into cows in another game by some other publisher). But right now, what I'm working on is bringing it to that next tier of users, the ones that can download an office suite and figure out how to use a spreadsheet but don't feel comfortable around command lines.
So if you consider yourself in that group, then welcome we'll guide you to some basic activities you can do in a few minutes in ethereum: Build your own cryptocurrency, building your own democracy and creating a central bank in the blockchain. We skipped the ''Hello World'' tutorial this time, but you'll do fine.
Download the Ethereum Wallet
Download the latest version of the Wallet
But enough talking, let's get our hands dirty with Ethereum! I might be biased but I'd say the best place to start is the Ethereum Wallet, a multi platform app that will enable you to send ether and ethereum based currencies, create and execute contracts.
The first thing you have to do on it is create an ethereum account. All you need for it is a strong password and you'll get it. In order to do anything you'll need to put in some ether: but don't worry you don't need much. Most of the contracts here will cost less than a tenth of a US penny. If you are just testing it, we recommend you switch to the testnet: go in the menu develop > network > testnet (morden) and then on develop > start mining. After a few minutes you'll probably have enough ether to test anything, so you can turn it off and save your computer resources.
The wallet only allows basic mining on the testnet, but if you want to try your luck on the real net, then you need a more advanced tool. This used to be a cumbersome process but now there are better easier tools: and we have new tools that will make that process much easier.
The AlethOne miner is a straightforward tool with two buttons: press one to start mining in your GPU and press the other to deposit your rewards in a wallet. Download it from the Turbo Suite, a set of power tools created by the C++ team to develop ethereum applications.
If you want to create smart contracts on the live network and can't mine you'll need some ethers. You can have a friend sent to you or you can exchange it for bitcoins on a cryptoexchange. If you are a bitcoin fan we suggest you keep on eye on the btcrelay project, a fraud-proof sidechain that will launch soon and allow quick exchanges between ether and bitcoin without a third party.
Create a tokenThe first contract we are going to create is a token. Tokens in the ethereum ecosystem can represent any fungible tradable good: coins, loyalty points, gold certificates, IOUs, in game items, etc. Since all tokens implement some basic features in a standard way, this also means that your token will be instantly compatible with the ethereum wallet and any other client or contract that uses the same standards.
Go to the contracts page and then click ''deploy new contract''.
Now get the token code from here and paste it into the ''Solidity source field''. If the code compiles without any error, you should see a ''pick a contract'' drop down on the left. Get it and select the ''MyToken'' contract. On the right column you'll see all the parameters you need to personalize your own token. You can tweak them as you please, but for the purpose of this tutorial we recommend you to pick these parameters: 10,000 as the supply, any name you want, ''%'' for a symbol and 2 decimal places. Your app should be looking like this:
Scroll to the end of the page and you'll see an estimate of the computation cost of that contract and you can select a fee on how much ether you are willing to pay for it. Any excess ether you don't spend will be returned to you so you can leave the default settings if you wish. Press ''deploy'', type your account password and wait a few seconds for your transaction to be picked up.
You'll be redirected to the front page where you can see your transaction waiting for confirmations. Click the account named ''Etherbase'' (your main account) and after no more than a minute you should see that your account will show that you have 100% of the shares you just created. To send some to a few friends: select ''send'', and then choose which currency you want to send (ether or your newly created share), paste your friend's address on the ''to'' field and press ''send''.
If you send it to a friend, they will not see anything in their wallet yet. This is because the wallet only tracks tokens it knows about, and you have to add these manually. Now go to the ''Contracts'' tab and you should see a link for your newly created contract. Click on it to go to it's page. Since this is a very simple contract page there isn't much to do here, just click ''copy address'' and paste the contract address on a text editor, you'll need it shortly.
To add a token to watch, go to the contracts page and then click ''Watch Token''. A popup will appear and you only need to paste the contract address. The token name, symbol and decimal number should be automatically filled but if it's not you can put anything you want (it will only affect how it displays on your wallet). Once you do this, you'll automatically be shown any balance you have of that token and you'll be able to send it to anyone else.
And now you have your own crypto token! Tokens by themselves can be useful as value exchange on local communities, ways to keep track of worked hours or other loyalty programs. But can we make a currency have an intrinsic value by making it useful? Tomorrow we'll show how tokens can be used as voting system in order to make collective decisions on the use of funds by creating a Democratic Autonomous Organization.
Alex Van de SandeAlex Van de Sande is an UX designer at the Ethereum Foundation and lead of the Mist team.
Briton who stopped WannaCry attack arrested over separate malware claims | Technology | The Guardian
Fri, 04 Aug 2017 10:40
Marcus Hutchins at his workstation in Ilfracombe, England. He was arrested in Las Vegas after attending an annual hacking conference. Photograph: Frank Augstein/AP
Marcus Hutchins, the 23-year-old British security researcher who was credited with stopping the WannaCry outbreak in its tracks by discovering a hidden ''kill switch'' for the malware, has been arrested by the FBI over his alleged involvement in another malicious software targeting bank accounts.
According to an indictment released by the US Department of Justice on Thursday, Hutchins is accused of having helped to create, spread and maintain the banking trojan Kronos between 2014 and 2015.
The Kronos malware was spread through emails with malicious attachments such as compromised Microsoft word documents, and hijacked credentials such as internet banking passwords to let its user steal money with ease.
Hutchins, who is indicted with another unnamed co-defendant, stands accused of six counts of hacking-related crimes as a result of his alleged involvement with Kronos. ''Defendant Marcus Hutchins created the Kronos malware,'' the indictment, filed on behalf of the eastern district court of Wisconsin, alleges.
He was arraigned in Las Vegas late Thursday afternoon and made no statement in court beyond mumbling one-word answers in response to a few basic questions from the judge.
A public defender noted that Hutchins has no criminal history and has cooperated with federal authorities in the past. The court-appointed attorney said Hutchins needed more time to hire a private attorney. Hutchins, who asserted his fifth amendment right to remain silent, was ordered to remain detained until another hearing on Friday.
His mother, Janet Hutchins, told the Press Association it was ''hugely unlikely'' that her son was involved because he has spent ''enormous amounts of time'' combating such attacks. She said she was ''outraged'' by the charges and has been ''frantically calling America'' trying to reach her son.
At the courthouse, a friend of Hutchins who declined to give his name, said he was shocked to hear about the arrest.
''There's probably a million difference scenarios that could have played out to where he's not guilty,'' he said. ''I'm definitely worried about him.''
Special agent in charge Justin Tolomeo said: ''Cybercriminals cost our economy billions in loses each year. The FBI will continue to work with our partners, both domestic and international, to bring offenders to justice.''
Hutchins' co-defendant advertised the malware for sale on AlphaBay, a darknet marketplace, the indictment alleges, and sold it two months later. The encrypted website operated like an extralegal eBay for drugs and malware, with independent sellers offering their products in exchange for payment in a number of cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin. It was not clear from the indictment if the malware was actually sold through AlphaBay.
The marketplace was shut down on 20 July, following a seizure of its servers by US and European police including the FBI and the Dutch national police. FBI acting director Andrew McCabe said AlphaBay was 10 times as large as the notorious Silk Road marketplace at its peak.
When the site was taken down, its servers were seized, giving authorities a window into activity on the site. The operation included the arrest on 5 July of of suspected AlphaBay founder Alexandre Cazes, a Canadian citizen detained on behalf of the US in Thailand. Cazes, 25, died a week later while in Thai custody.
22-year-old who halted global cyber-attack: 'I'm no hero' '' videoSecurity researcher Ryan Kalember, from Proofpoint, says that the Kronos malware was notable for being a particularly slick, and expensive, offering. ''It had nice remote administration, with a dashboard panel, and it was quite good at evading attention by antivirus products,'' he said. It was sold on malware forums for prices of up to $7,000 (£5,330), according to Kalember; the indictment against Hutchins lists prices of $2,000 (£1,523) and $3,000 (£2,284).
New Kronos infections continued as late as 2016, when the malware was repurposed into a form used to attack small retailers, infecting point-of-sale systems and harvesting customers' credit card information.
''A lot of us thought of Kronos as crimeware-as-a-service,'' Kalember said, since a Kronos buyer would also be getting ''free updates and support'' and that ''implied there's a large group behind it''.
This could very easily be the FBI mistaking legitimate research activity with being in control of Kronos infrastructure
Ryan Kalember, security researcherHe also warned that the actions of a researcher examining the malware can look very similar to those of a criminal in charge of it. ''This could very easily be the FBI mistaking legitimate research activity with being in control of Kronos infrastructure. Lots of researchers like to log in to crimeware tools and interfaces and play around.''
On top of that, for a researcher looking into the world of banking hacks, ''sometimes you have to at least pretend to be selling something interesting to get people to trust you'', he said. ''It's not an uncommon thing for researchers to do and I don't know if the FBI could tell the difference.''
On June 13, a video demonstrating the Kronos malware was posted to YouTube, allegedly by Hutchins' co-defendant (the video was taken down shortly after Hutchins' arrest). That same day, Hutchins tweeted asking for a sample of the malware to analyse.
Hutchins, better known online by his handle MalwareTech, had been in Las Vegas for the annual Def Con hacking conference, the largest of its kind in the world. He was at the airport preparing to leave the country when he was arrested, after more than a week in the the city without incident.
The security researcher became an accidental hero in May when he registered a website, which he had found deep in the code of the ransomware outbreak that was wreaking havoc around the world, including disrupting operations at more than a third of NHS trusts and bodies.
The site, it turned out, acted as a kill switch for the malware, which stopped infecting new computers if it saw that the URL had been registered.
Attendees at the Def Con 2017 hacker convention in Las Vegas in July. Photograph: Steve Marcus/ReutersWhen WannaCry first appeared, in early May, it spread rapidly, infecting hundreds of thousands of computers worldwide in less than a day, encrypting their hard drives and asking for a ransom of $300 in bitcoin to receive the decryption key. It moved particularly quickly through corporate networks thanks to its reuse of security exploit, called EternalBlue, first discovered by the NSA before being stolen and leaked by an allegedly Russian-linked hacking group called The Shadow Brokers.
Both US and UK intelligence agencies later linked the malware outbreak to North Korean state actors, who have become bolder in recent years at using cyberattacks to raise revenue for the sanction-laden state.
Hutchins was recently given a special recognition award at cybersecurity celebration SC Awards Europe for halting the WannaCry malware. The malware ended up affecting more than 1m computers, but without Hutchins' apparent intervention, experts estimate that it could have infected 10-15m.
Hutchins' employer, cybersecurity firm Kryptos Logic, had been working closely with the US authorities to help them investigate the WannaCry malware. Hutchins handed over information on the kill switch to the FBI the day after he discovered it, and the chief executive of the firm, Salim Neino, testified in from of the US House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space & Technology the following month.
''The largest success, though incomplete, was the ability for the FBI and NCSC of the United Kingdom to aggregate and disseminate the information Kryptos Logic provided so that affected organizations could respond,'' Neino told the committee.
Hours after Hutchins was arrested by the FBI, more than $130,000 (£100,000) of the bitcoin ransom taken by the creators of WannaCry was moved within the bitcoin network for the first time since the outbreak. There is nothing to suggest the withdrawal, which appears to have moved the coins into a ''mixer'', a digital money-laundering system, is connected to the arrest of Hutchins.
Dan Hernandez contributed reporting.
ICOs may be a boon to money laundering, regulators are watching bitcoin, ethereum and other cryptocurrencies
Sat, 05 Aug 2017 13:52
Cryptocurrencies have exploded in popularity in recent years that has led to a red-hot fundraising trend where start-ups bring in millions of dollars in capital by issuing virtual tokens to investors in exchange for money.
Initial coin offerings (ICOs) have become a primary means of fundraising for projects built on blockchain technology. Companies create and issue digital tokens that can be used to pay for goods and services on their platform or stashed away as an investment. They put out whitepapers describing the platform, software or product they're trying to build, and then people buy those tokens using widely-accepted cryptocurrencies (like bitcoin and ethereum) or fiat currencies like the U.S. dollar.
All of that is done without any regulatory oversight, and that has regulators '-- and members of the financial industry '-- worried about the potential of widespread money laundering and fraud.
All told, start-ups have raised more than a billion dollars this year in coin sales and in recent months, just four crypto projects have raised over $660 million combined, according to Smith + Crown, a blockchain research and consulting group.
Digital currencies are pseudonymous, decentralized and encrypted, making it harder to track each of the transactions made, and the individuals behind them. Theoretically, anyone with an internet connection and a digital wallet can be part of a coin sale event. That, many worry, leaves plenty of room for people to launder money or finance terrorism activities and engage in other fraudulent behaviors '-- especially in countries where corruption is rampant.
Breeding fraud and money launderingRegulators in the United States and Singapore have in recent weeks highlighted the risks of money laundering and fraud that investors face when buying into a digital token sale.
On August 1, Singapore's financial regulatory body and central bank, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), said in a missive that ICOs are "vulnerable to money laundering and terrorist financing risks due to the anonymous nature of the transactions, and the ease with which large sums of monies may be raise in a short period of time."
Meanwhile, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) provides guidelines on its website for investors to consider before participating in token sales. Some of the key points the SEC asks potential buyers to consider are ways to identify fraudulent investment schemes.
While terrorism financing is not as prevalent in Asia Pacific as compared to the Middle East or North Africa, experts told CNBC that money laundering through cryptocurrencies is a major concern among authorities.
"It is an anonymous platform and you can get involved, get engaged, transfer value ... you can do all those sorts of things without ever having to identify yourself," Tim Phillipps, APAC leader for Deloitte's Financial Crime Strategy and Response Center, told CNBC.
Traditional anti-money laundering framework requires fund-raising companies to do their due diligence in areas like knowing the customer, validation of their identity and tracking their sources of wealth, according to Phillipps, who previously worked with regulator Australian Securities and Investments Commission.
The regulatory framework also requires companies to structure their products '-- a process that can sometimes be expensive.
Phillipps said ICOs and cryptocurrencies are just new avenues for an age-old problem: "People would endlessly look for ways to avoid having to go through all the regulatory efforts, the compliance and so on."
How money laundering can happen through ICOsAlthough regulators may be expressing concern about money laundering, a frequent refrain from bitcoin enthusiasts and cryptocurrency stakeholders is that the blockchain system is actually inconvenient for would-be launderers.
That is, every transaction of a blockchain-based token is permanently recorded on a publicly view-able digital ledger. Although the parties associated with each exchange are hidden behind pseudonymous IDs, it is possible for investigators to track down who has done what if their activities go through a cooperating exchange.
The concern, experts told CNBC, is that the massive influx of ICOs has meant there are now hundreds of blockchains on which criminals could transact. Concurrently, there's been a proliferation of exchanges that may be less inclined to cooperate with authorities.
Now, experts in the field said, a new ICO could serve as the perfect vehicle for launderers, and here's roughly how it could work:
Innocent Bob buys into an ICO of Token$$$ because he hopes it will appreciateBob could either sell his supply of Token$$$ on a major exchange (which is spending money to record customers' information to be compliant for regulators), or he could go to a fly-by-night exchange where the prices are betterThe prices are better on that second exchange because would-be money launderers are willing to pay a premium to wash their fundsDirty Harry, who is looking to make his dirty money appear clean, buys Token$$$ from BobBob makes more money than he would have at a more regulator-friendly exchange, and Harry now has Token$$$ that isn't tied to a criminal enterpriseHarry can then go to any exchange and sell his Token$$$ for common digital or fiat currenciesAlternately, criminals could just buy into an ICO themselves, hoping that the fledgling technology does not have robust know-your-customer practices.
Although it is feasible that investigators could end up tracking these connections down, the cryptocurrency environment is beneficial to criminals because transactions are incredibly fast-moving compared to the traditional financial system. Furthermore, new companies and exchanges are popping up (and shutting down) faster than governments can track.
Having rules can protect buyersTo prevent money laundering and protect investors from fraud, many argue that cryptocurrencies need some form of regulation '-- particularly digital coins that sometimes act like securities but are not subjected to any of the stringent mainstream regulations.
Late last month, the Securities and Exchange Commission released an investigative report in which it said companies that planned to use distributed ledger or blockchain-enabled ways to raise capital must take appropriate steps to comply with the U.S. federal securities laws.
Singapore's MAS also clarified this week that it will regulate the sale of digital tokens in the city-state if they constitute products regulated under Singapore's securities and futures regulation.
Having regulatory oversight for ICOs will see net benefits, multiple sources told CNBC. Most agreed that having proper rules in place can protect investors in the same manner they are safeguarded in the securities market.
"Regulators are there to protect investors at the end of the day," Zennon Kapron, founder and director at consultancy firm Kapronasia, told CNBC. "The reason we have regulations around initial public offerings or any kind of securities in any market is to ensure that the process and the operation of (these offerings) are run in an organized and stable fashion."
Having the proper regulation in place is particularly important as this form of fundraising is expected to gain more traction, especially among retail investors. Smith + Crown data showed that in the first half of 2017, there were more token sales than there were in all of 2016, with fundraising amounts increasing month to month since March. Token Data, another website that tracks upcoming token sales, listed dozens of ICOs in the coming months.
Manuel Romano | NurPhoto | Getty Images
A view of Bitcoin token.
Kapron explained that, currently, in order to invest into ICOs, people need to have a certain amount of technical understanding and interest in the space. It's needed to buy ethereum or bitcoin and then invest into a coin sale. While the current environment is limited to a subset of investors, he said regulations will come in handy when it becomes easier to invest in ICOs and thus more people will become involved without necessarily being aware of the risk or challenges behind some of the platforms.
A common criticism leveled at token sales is that many of the start-ups doing it lack either experience or a proper, viable business model. In other words, there's a greater likelihood of the business failing and investors being unable to recover their money. By contrast, in venture capital fundraising rounds, investors scrutinize the viability of a start-up's business plan an its executive strategies before backing them. VC-backed founders are obligated to answer to their investors.
"Tokens are non-dilutive, (usually) possess no voting power, and have very little, if any, rights attached to them. They are neither debt, which enjoys mandatory repayment in the event of a default, nor are they equity, which grants the holder some preferential rights vis-a-vis ordinary shareholders," Justin Hall, principal at early-stage venture capital firm Golden Gate Ventures, told CNBC.
Regulations may undermine cryptocurrenciesSome may argue that regulation could reduce or remove layers of privacy, going against one of the central tenets of crytocurrencies, according to Hall.
"In their mind, fiat currency is corrupted by the heavy-handed intervention of central governments and banks. Cryptocurrencies are anonymous (to a certain extent) and decentralized, meaning decisions affecting the currency are not centrally dictated," he said. "In fiat, trust is enforced by a third-party."
On the other hand, critics would call back to investor protection to argue in favor of regulations, he said, adding it may be difficult to reconcile the two sides. Moreover, Hall said, given how new the technology is, many regulators still "do not fully understand this emerging industry."
Implementing poorly planned policies may do more harm than good, he said.
To be sure, both the SEC and the MAS have extensively studied cryptocurrencies. MAS had issued a notice as early as March 2014 that said virtual currencies were not per se regulated, but intermediaries in virtual currencies would be regulated for money laundering and terrorism financing risks.
"Even though participating in an ICO might be forbidden to Americans or Singaporeans, there is nothing stopping them from purchasing those tokens on a public exchange '-- and doing so with a fair amount of anonymity to boot." -Justin Hall, Principal at Golden Gate Ventures
There's also a general misconception among investors and companies that ICOs are not regulated already, according to David Tee, chief financial officer at Hong Kong-based fintech firm ANX International. As a result, he said, many of the ICO campaigns are being done with little or no professional or technical guidance. That likely results in misleading information and unfair sales processes, inappropriately designed token features and poorly written smart contracts that are vulnerable to hacking.
That all, of course, raises the question of why someone would be interested in buying into a poorly-considered ICO in the first place. For most, the answer is simple: They think there's money to be made.
Tee, who is a banking industry veteran, explained to CNBC that digital tokens are a "representation of contractual rights in the form of an easily transferable medium." He said those rights could allow for a variety of things, "or they may be rights to exchange the token for another asset, to receive future payments, or to share in revenues or profits of a venture."
If the rights associated with the tokens fall in the latter category, most jurisdictions would consider them a security, "irrespective of whether that right is in the form of a digital token, a written contract or a formal security such as a share or debt instrument," Tee said.
Currently, to get around regulatory scrutiny, many ICOs prevent residents from the United States and Singapore to participate in their token sales '-- either by blocking internet protocol addresses from those locations or by relying on self-declarations from the participants. But experts told CNBC that people are easily able to get around it by either using a virtual private network connection to mask their location or by simply asking a third party in a different place to participate on their behalf.
"Even though participating in an ICO might be forbidden to Americans or Singaporeans, there is nothing stopping them from purchasing those tokens on a public exchange '-- and doing so with a fair amount of anonymity to boot," said Golden Gate Ventures' Hall.
Regulation may be the key to more legitimacy While regulation can sometimes be expensive for companies, it could also bring in benefits.
Currently, token sales are restricted mostly to retail investors who are not bogged down by the compliance rules faced by institutional investors. A regulated ICO market, with proper checks in place, could draw in professional investors, Syed Musheer Ahmed, a senior financial technology consultant and a member of the board at the FinTech Association of Hong Kong, told CNBC.
If the industry opens up to professional investors, who have more capital to invest, companies can raise more money, he said.
"Regulatory clarity would result in token sales being conducted in a more professional manner and better disclosure and transparency for the entire process," said Tee. He added that regulation would also "reinforce the need for sellers to have appropriate anti-money laundering and terrorist financing policies in place as part of the overall campaign."
Meanwhile, Justin Bailey, CEO of crowdfunded video games publisher Fig, added that regulators like the SEC need to "come to town and bring legitimacy to this technology."
"Digital tokens are certainly having their Wild West moment and the uncertainty of the cryptocurrency market has invited a number of early adopters who are bad actors ... (regulation) will create needed stability and let real innovators further develop tokens and blockchain technology to the benefit of consumers," he said.
Bailey's company has developed an SEC-qualified security, Fig Game Shares, that allows non-accredited investors to financially support video game development and publishing. Each series of Fig Game Shares generates returns from the sales of an individual video game title.
'--CNBC's Everett Rosenfeld and Ari Levy contributed to this report.
SJW LGBBTQQIAAP BLM ETC
Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation? - The Atlantic
Sun, 06 Aug 2017 08:58
One day last summer, around noon, I called Athena, a 13-year-old who lives in Houston, Texas. She answered her phone'--she's had an iPhone since she was 11'--sounding as if she'd just woken up. We chatted about her favorite songs and TV shows, and I asked her what she likes to do with her friends. ''We go to the mall,'' she said. ''Do your parents drop you off?,'' I asked, recalling my own middle-school days, in the 1980s, when I'd enjoy a few parent-free hours shopping with my friends. ''No'--I go with my family,'' she replied. ''We'll go with my mom and brothers and walk a little behind them. I just have to tell my mom where we're going. I have to check in every hour or every 30 minutes.''
Those mall trips are infrequent'--about once a month. More often, Athena and her friends spend time together on their phones, unchaperoned. Unlike the teens of my generation, who might have spent an evening tying up the family landline with gossip, they talk on Snapchat, the smartphone app that allows users to send pictures and videos that quickly disappear. They make sure to keep up their Snapstreaks, which show how many days in a row they have Snapchatted with each other. Sometimes they save screenshots of particularly ridiculous pictures of friends. ''It's good blackmail,'' Athena said. (Because she's a minor, I'm not using her real name.) She told me she'd spent most of the summer hanging out alone in her room with her phone. That's just the way her generation is, she said. ''We didn't have a choice to know any life without iPads or iPhones. I think we like our phones more than we like actual people.''
Related StoryYour Smartphone Reduces Your Brainpower, Even If It's Just Sitting There
I've been researching generational differences for 25 years, starting when I was a 22-year-old doctoral student in psychology. Typically, the characteristics that come to define a generation appear gradually, and along a continuum. Beliefs and behaviors that were already rising simply continue to do so. Millennials, for instance, are a highly individualistic generation, but individualism had been increasing since the Baby Boomers turned on, tuned in, and dropped out. I had grown accustomed to line graphs of trends that looked like modest hills and valleys. Then I began studying Athena's generation.
Around 2012, I noticed abrupt shifts in teen behaviors and emotional states. The gentle slopes of the line graphs became steep mountains and sheer cliffs, and many of the distinctive characteristics of the Millennial generation began to disappear. In all my analyses of generational data'--some reaching back to the 1930s'--I had never seen anything like it.
The allure of independence, so powerful to previous generations, holds less sway over today's teens.At first I presumed these might be blips, but the trends persisted, across several years and a series of national surveys. The changes weren't just in degree, but in kind. The biggest difference between the Millennials and their predecessors was in how they viewed the world; teens today differ from the Millennials not just in their views but in how they spend their time. The experiences they have every day are radically different from those of the generation that came of age just a few years before them.
What happened in 2012 to cause such dramatic shifts in behavior? It was after the Great Recession, which officially lasted from 2007 to 2009 and had a starker effect on Millennials trying to find a place in a sputtering economy. But it was exactly the moment when the proportion of Americans who owned a smartphone surpassed 50 percent.
The more I pored over yearly surveys of teen attitudes and behaviors, and the more I talked with young people like Athena, the clearer it became that theirs is a generation shaped by the smartphone and by the concomitant rise of social media. I call them iGen. Born between 1995 and 2012, members of this generation are growing up with smartphones, have an Instagram account before they start high school, and do not remember a time before the internet. The Millennials grew up with the web as well, but it wasn't ever-present in their lives, at hand at all times, day and night. iGen's oldest members were early adolescents when the iPhone was introduced, in 2007, and high-school students when the iPad entered the scene, in 2010. A 2017 survey of more than 5,000 American teens found that three out of four owned an iPhone.
The advent of the smartphone and its cousin the tablet was followed quickly by hand-wringing about the deleterious effects of ''screen time.'' But the impact of these devices has not been fully appreciated, and goes far beyond the usual concerns about curtailed attention spans. The arrival of the smartphone has radically changed every aspect of teenagers' lives, from the nature of their social interactions to their mental health. These changes have affected young people in every corner of the nation and in every type of household. The trends appear among teens poor and rich; of every ethnic background; in cities, suburbs, and small towns. Where there are cell towers, there are teens living their lives on their smartphone.
To those of us who fondly recall a more analog adolescence, this may seem foreign and troubling. The aim of generational study, however, is not to succumb to nostalgia for the way things used to be; it's to understand how they are now. Some generational changes are positive, some are negative, and many are both. More comfortable in their bedrooms than in a car or at a party, today's teens are physically safer than teens have ever been. They're markedly less likely to get into a car accident and, having less of a taste for alcohol than their predecessors, are less susceptible to drinking's attendant ills.
Psychologically, however, they are more vulnerable than Millennials were: Rates of teen depression and suicide have skyrocketed since 2011. It's not an exaggeration to describe iGen as being on the brink of the worst mental-health crisis in decades. Much of this deterioration can be traced to their phones.
Even when a seismic event'--a war, a technological leap, a free concert in the mud'--plays an outsize role in shaping a group of young people, no single factor ever defines a generation. Parenting styles continue to change, as do school curricula and culture, and these things matter. But the twin rise of the smartphone and social media has caused an earthquake of a magnitude we've not seen in a very long time, if ever. There is compelling evidence that the devices we've placed in young people's hands are having profound effects on their lives'--and making them seriously unhappy.
In the early 1970s, the photographer Bill Yates shot a series of portraits at the Sweetheart Roller Skating Rink in Tampa, Florida. In one, a shirtless teen stands with a large bottle of peppermint schnapps stuck in the waistband of his jeans. In another, a boy who looks no older than 12 poses with a cigarette in his mouth. The rink was a place where kids could get away from their parents and inhabit a world of their own, a world where they could drink, smoke, and make out in the backs of their cars. In stark black-and-white, the adolescent Boomers gaze at Yates's camera with the self-confidence born of making your own choices'--even if, perhaps especially if, your parents wouldn't think they were the right ones.
Fifteen years later, during my own teenage years as a member of Generation X, smoking had lost some of its romance, but independence was definitely still in. My friends and I plotted to get our driver's license as soon as we could, making DMV appointments for the day we turned 16 and using our newfound freedom to escape the confines of our suburban neighborhood. Asked by our parents, ''When will you be home?,'' we replied, ''When do I have to be?''
But the allure of independence, so powerful to previous generations, holds less sway over today's teens, who are less likely to leave the house without their parents. The shift is stunning: 12th-graders in 2015 were going out less often than eighth-graders did as recently as 2009.
Today's teens are also less likely to date. The initial stage of courtship, which Gen Xers called ''liking'' (as in ''Ooh, he likes you!''), kids now call ''talking'''--an ironic choice for a generation that prefers texting to actual conversation. After two teens have ''talked'' for a while, they might start dating. But only about 56 percent of high-school seniors in 2015 went out on dates; for Boomers and Gen Xers, the number was about 85 percent.
The decline in dating tracks with a decline in sexual activity. The drop is the sharpest for ninth-graders, among whom the number of sexually active teens has been cut by almost 40 percent since 1991. The average teen now has had sex for the first time by the spring of 11th grade, a full year later than the average Gen Xer. Fewer teens having sex has contributed to what many see as one of the most positive youth trends in recent years: The teen birth rate hit an all-time low in 2016, down 67 percent since its modern peak, in 1991.
Even driving, a symbol of adolescent freedom inscribed in American popular culture, from Rebel Without a Cause to Ferris Bueller's Day Off, has lost its appeal for today's teens. Nearly all Boomer high-school students had their driver's license by the spring of their senior year; more than one in four teens today still lack one at the end of high school. For some, Mom and Dad are such good chauffeurs that there's no urgent need to drive. ''My parents drove me everywhere and never complained, so I always had rides,'' a 21-year-old student in San Diego told me. ''I didn't get my license until my mom told me I had to because she could not keep driving me to school.'' She finally got her license six months after her 18th birthday. In conversation after conversation, teens described getting their license as something to be nagged into by their parents'--a notion that would have been unthinkable to previous generations.
Independence isn't free'--you need some money in your pocket to pay for gas, or for that bottle of schnapps. In earlier eras, kids worked in great numbers, eager to finance their freedom or prodded by their parents to learn the value of a dollar. But iGen teens aren't working (or managing their own money) as much. In the late 1970s, 77 percent of high-school seniors worked for pay during the school year; by the mid-2010s, only 55 percent did. The number of eighth-graders who work for pay has been cut in half. These declines accelerated during the Great Recession, but teen employment has not bounced back, even though job availability has.
Of course, putting off the responsibilities of adulthood is not an iGen innovation. Gen Xers, in the 1990s, were the first to postpone the traditional markers of adulthood. Young Gen Xers were just about as likely to drive, drink alcohol, and date as young Boomers had been, and more likely to have sex and get pregnant as teens. But as they left their teenage years behind, Gen Xers married and started careers later than their Boomer predecessors had.
Gen X managed to stretch adolescence beyond all previous limits: Its members started becoming adults earlier and finished becoming adults later. Beginning with Millennials and continuing with iGen, adolescence is contracting again'--but only because its onset is being delayed. Across a range of behaviors'--drinking, dating, spending time unsupervised'-- 18-year-olds now act more like 15-year-olds used to, and 15-year-olds more like 13-year-olds. Childhood now stretches well into high school.
Why are today's teens waiting longer to take on both the responsibilities and the pleasures of adulthood? Shifts in the economy, and parenting, certainly play a role. In an information economy that rewards higher education more than early work history, parents may be inclined to encourage their kids to stay home and study rather than to get a part-time job. Teens, in turn, seem to be content with this homebody arrangement'--not because they're so studious, but because their social life is lived on their phone. They don't need to leave home to spend time with their friends.
If today's teens were a generation of grinds, we'd see that in the data. But eighth-, 10th-, and 12th-graders in the 2010s actually spend less time on homework than Gen X teens did in the early 1990s. (High-school seniors headed for four-year colleges spend about the same amount of time on homework as their predecessors did.) The time that seniors spend on activities such as student clubs and sports and exercise has changed little in recent years. Combined with the decline in working for pay, this means iGen teens have more leisure time than Gen X teens did, not less.
So what are they doing with all that time? They are on their phone, in their room, alone and often distressed.
Jasu HuOne of the ironies of iGen life is that despite spending far more time under the same roof as their parents, today's teens can hardly be said to be closer to their mothers and fathers than their predecessors were. ''I've seen my friends with their families'--they don't talk to them,'' Athena told me. ''They just say 'Okay, okay, whatever' while they're on their phones. They don't pay attention to their family.'' Like her peers, Athena is an expert at tuning out her parents so she can focus on her phone. She spent much of her summer keeping up with friends, but nearly all of it was over text or Snapchat. ''I've been on my phone more than I've been with actual people,'' she said. ''My bed has, like, an imprint of my body.''
In this, too, she is typical. The number of teens who get together with their friends nearly every day dropped by more than 40 percent from 2000 to 2015; the decline has been especially steep recently. It's not only a matter of fewer kids partying; fewer kids are spending time simply hanging out. That's something most teens used to do: nerds and jocks, poor kids and rich kids, C students and A students. The roller rink, the basketball court, the town pool, the local necking spot'--they've all been replaced by virtual spaces accessed through apps and the web.
You might expect that teens spend so much time in these new spaces because it makes them happy, but most data suggest that it does not. The Monitoring the Future survey, funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and designed to be nationally representative, has asked 12th-graders more than 1,000 questions every year since 1975 and queried eighth- and 10th-graders since 1991. The survey asks teens how happy they are and also how much of their leisure time they spend on various activities, including nonscreen activities such as in-person social interaction and exercise, and, in recent years, screen activities such as using social media, texting, and browsing the web. The results could not be clearer: Teens who spend more time than average on screen activities are more likely to be unhappy, and those who spend more time than average on nonscreen activities are more likely to be happy.
There's not a single exception. All screen activities are linked to less happiness, and all nonscreen activities are linked to more happiness. Eighth-graders who spend 10 or more hours a week on social media are 56 percent more likely to say they're unhappy than those who devote less time to social media. Admittedly, 10 hours a week is a lot. But those who spend six to nine hours a week on social media are still 47 percent more likely to say they are unhappy than those who use social media even less. The opposite is true of in-person interactions. Those who spend an above-average amount of time with their friends in person are 20 percent less likely to say they're unhappy than those who hang out for a below-average amount of time.
The more time teens spend looking at screens, the more likely they are to report symptoms of depression.If you were going to give advice for a happy adolescence based on this survey, it would be straightforward: Put down the phone, turn off the laptop, and do something'--anything'--that does not involve a screen. Of course, these analyses don't unequivocally prove that screen time causes unhappiness; it's possible that unhappy teens spend more time online. But recent research suggests that screen time, in particular social-media use, does indeed cause unhappiness. One study asked college students with a Facebook page to complete short surveys on their phone over the course of two weeks. They'd get a text message with a link five times a day, and report on their mood and how much they'd used Facebook. The more they'd used Facebook, the unhappier they felt, but feeling unhappy did not subsequently lead to more Facebook use.
Social-networking sites like Facebook promise to connect us to friends. But the portrait of iGen teens emerging from the data is one of a lonely, dislocated generation. Teens who visit social-networking sites every day but see their friends in person less frequently are the most likely to agree with the statements ''A lot of times I feel lonely,'' ''I often feel left out of things,'' and ''I often wish I had more good friends.'' Teens' feelings of loneliness spiked in 2013 and have remained high since.
This doesn't always mean that, on an individual level, kids who spend more time online are lonelier than kids who spend less time online. Teens who spend more time on social media also spend more time with their friends in person, on average'--highly social teens are more social in both venues, and less social teens are less so. But at the generational level, when teens spend more time on smartphones and less time on in-person social interactions, loneliness is more common.
So is depression. Once again, the effect of screen activities is unmistakable: The more time teens spend looking at screens, the more likely they are to report symptoms of depression. Eighth-graders who are heavy users of social media increase their risk of depression by 27 percent, while those who play sports, go to religious services, or even do homework more than the average teen cut their risk significantly.
Teens who spend three hours a day or more on electronic devices are 35 percent more likely to have a risk factor for suicide, such as making a suicide plan. (That's much more than the risk related to, say, watching TV.) One piece of data that indirectly but stunningly captures kids' growing isolation, for good and for bad: Since 2007, the homicide rate among teens has declined, but the suicide rate has increased. As teens have started spending less time together, they have become less likely to kill one another, and more likely to kill themselves. In 2011, for the first time in 24 years, the teen suicide rate was higher than the teen homicide rate.
Depression and suicide have many causes; too much technology is clearly not the only one. And the teen suicide rate was even higher in the 1990s, long before smartphones existed. Then again, about four times as many Americans now take antidepressants, which are often effective in treating severe depression, the type most strongly linked to suicide.
What's the connection between smartphones and the apparent psychological distress this generation is experiencing? For all their power to link kids day and night, social media also exacerbate the age-old teen concern about being left out. Today's teens may go to fewer parties and spend less time together in person, but when they do congregate, they document their hangouts relentlessly'--on Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook. Those not invited to come along are keenly aware of it. Accordingly, the number of teens who feel left out has reached all-time highs across age groups. Like the increase in loneliness, the upswing in feeling left out has been swift and significant.
This trend has been especially steep among girls. Forty-eight percent more girls said they often felt left out in 2015 than in 2010, compared with 27 percent more boys. Girls use social media more often, giving them additional opportunities to feel excluded and lonely when they see their friends or classmates getting together without them. Social media levy a psychic tax on the teen doing the posting as well, as she anxiously awaits the affirmation of comments and likes. When Athena posts pictures to Instagram, she told me, ''I'm nervous about what people think and are going to say. It sometimes bugs me when I don't get a certain amount of likes on a picture.''
Girls have also borne the brunt of the rise in depressive symptoms among today's teens. Boys' depressive symptoms increased by 21 percent from 2012 to 2015, while girls' increased by 50 percent'--more than twice as much. The rise in suicide, too, is more pronounced among girls. Although the rate increased for both sexes, three times as many 12-to-14-year-old girls killed themselves in 2015 as in 2007, compared with twice as many boys. The suicide rate is still higher for boys, in part because they use more-lethal methods, but girls are beginning to close the gap.
These more dire consequences for teenage girls could also be rooted in the fact that they're more likely to experience cyberbullying. Boys tend to bully one another physically, while girls are more likely to do so by undermining a victim's social status or relationships. Social media give middle- and high-school girls a platform on which to carry out the style of aggression they favor, ostracizing and excluding other girls around the clock.
Social-media companies are of course aware of these problems, and to one degree or another have endeavored to prevent cyberbullying. But their various motivations are, to say the least, complex. A recently leaked Facebook document indicated that the company had been touting to advertisers its ability to determine teens' emotional state based on their on-site behavior, and even to pinpoint ''moments when young people need a confidence boost.'' Facebook acknowledged that the document was real, but denied that it offers ''tools to target people based on their emotional state.''
In July 2014, a 13-year-old girl in North Texas woke to the smell of something burning. Her phone had overheated and melted into the sheets. National news outlets picked up the story, stoking readers' fears that their cellphone might spontaneously combust. To me, however, the flaming cellphone wasn't the only surprising aspect of the story. Why, I wondered, would anyone sleep with her phone beside her in bed? It's not as though you can surf the web while you're sleeping. And who could slumber deeply inches from a buzzing phone?
Curious, I asked my undergraduate students at San Diego State University what they do with their phone while they sleep. Their answers were a profile in obsession. Nearly all slept with their phone, putting it under their pillow, on the mattress, or at the very least within arm's reach of the bed. They checked social media right before they went to sleep, and reached for their phone as soon as they woke up in the morning (they had to'--all of them used it as their alarm clock). Their phone was the last thing they saw before they went to sleep and the first thing they saw when they woke up. If they woke in the middle of the night, they often ended up looking at their phone. Some used the language of addiction. ''I know I shouldn't, but I just can't help it,'' one said about looking at her phone while in bed. Others saw their phone as an extension of their body'--or even like a lover: ''Having my phone closer to me while I'm sleeping is a comfort.''
It may be a comfort, but the smartphone is cutting into teens' sleep: Many now sleep less than seven hours most nights. Sleep experts say that teens should get about nine hours of sleep a night; a teen who is getting less than seven hours a night is significantly sleep deprived. Fifty-seven percent more teens were sleep deprived in 2015 than in 1991. In just the four years from 2012 to 2015, 22 percent more teens failed to get seven hours of sleep.
The increase is suspiciously timed, once again starting around when most teens got a smartphone. Two national surveys show that teens who spend three or more hours a day on electronic devices are 28 percent more likely to get less than seven hours of sleep than those who spend fewer than three hours, and teens who visit social-media sites every day are 19 percent more likely to be sleep deprived. A meta-analysis of studies on electronic-device use among children found similar results: Children who use a media device right before bed are more likely to sleep less than they should, more likely to sleep poorly, and more than twice as likely to be sleepy during the day.
I've observed my toddler, barely old enough to walk, confidently swiping her way through an iPad.Electronic devices and social media seem to have an especially strong ability to disrupt sleep. Teens who read books and magazines more often than the average are actually slightly less likely to be sleep deprived'--either reading lulls them to sleep, or they can put the book down at bedtime. Watching TV for several hours a day is only weakly linked to sleeping less. But the allure of the smartphone is often too much to resist.
Sleep deprivation is linked to myriad issues, including compromised thinking and reasoning, susceptibility to illness, weight gain, and high blood pressure. It also affects mood: People who don't sleep enough are prone to depression and anxiety. Again, it's difficult to trace the precise paths of causation. Smartphones could be causing lack of sleep, which leads to depression, or the phones could be causing depression, which leads to lack of sleep. Or some other factor could be causing both depression and sleep deprivation to rise. But the smartphone, its blue light glowing in the dark, is likely playing a nefarious role.
The correlations between depression and smartphone use are strong enough to suggest that more parents should be telling their kids to put down their phone. As the technology writer Nick Bilton has reported, it's a policy some Silicon Valley executives follow. Even Steve Jobs limited his kids' use of the devices he brought into the world.
What's at stake isn't just how kids experience adolescence. The constant presence of smartphones is likely to affect them well into adulthood. Among people who suffer an episode of depression, at least half become depressed again later in life. Adolescence is a key time for developing social skills; as teens spend less time with their friends face-to-face, they have fewer opportunities to practice them. In the next decade, we may see more adults who know just the right emoji for a situation, but not the right facial expression.
I realize that restricting technology might be an unrealistic demand to impose on a generation of kids so accustomed to being wired at all times. My three daughters were born in 2006, 2009, and 2012. They're not yet old enough to display the traits of iGen teens, but I have already witnessed firsthand just how ingrained new media are in their young lives. I've observed my toddler, barely old enough to walk, confidently swiping her way through an iPad. I've experienced my 6-year-old asking for her own cellphone. I've overheard my 9-year-old discussing the latest app to sweep the fourth grade. Prying the phone out of our kids' hands will be difficult, even more so than the quixotic efforts of my parents' generation to get their kids to turn off MTV and get some fresh air. But more seems to be at stake in urging teens to use their phone responsibly, and there are benefits to be gained even if all we instill in our children is the importance of moderation. Significant effects on both mental health and sleep time appear after two or more hours a day on electronic devices. The average teen spends about two and a half hours a day on electronic devices. Some mild boundary-setting could keep kids from falling into harmful habits.
In my conversations with teens, I saw hopeful signs that kids themselves are beginning to link some of their troubles to their ever-present phone. Athena told me that when she does spend time with her friends in person, they are often looking at their device instead of at her. ''I'm trying to talk to them about something, and they don't actually look at my face,'' she said. ''They're looking at their phone, or they're looking at their Apple Watch.'' ''What does that feel like, when you're trying to talk to somebody face-to-face and they're not looking at you?,'' I asked. ''It kind of hurts,'' she said. ''It hurts. I know my parents' generation didn't do that. I could be talking about something super important to me, and they wouldn't even be listening.''
Once, she told me, she was hanging out with a friend who was texting her boyfriend. ''I was trying to talk to her about my family, and what was going on, and she was like, 'Uh-huh, yeah, whatever.' So I took her phone out of her hands and I threw it at my wall.''
I couldn't help laughing. ''You play volleyball,'' I said. ''Do you have a pretty good arm?'' ''Yep,'' she replied.
This article has been adapted from Jean M. Twenge's forthcoming book, iGen: Why Today's Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy'--and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood'--and What That Means for the Rest of Us.
TimsLaw.com >> Missouri Senate Bill 43 Discrimination Enabling Law- Tim's Missouri Employment Law Info Site
Fri, 04 Aug 2017 00:24
Missouri Legislature Makes Discrimination Easier
On June 30, 2017, the Governor of Missouri signed Senate Bill 43 into law, making it easier to discriminate against you, a Missouri employee. The 2017 Missouri Republican business-friendly legislature is not disappointing its big-business enablers. The new law makes Plaintiffs prove that discrimination was the ''motivating'' factor in some adverse employment action, rather than a ''contributing'' factor. Missouri Senate Bill 43 is the latest plan to make it more difficult to hold employers liable for discrimination.
REAL WORLD SCENARIO
John Smith is a boss who wants to get rid of Employee ''A'' because of employee's gender. But of course boss isn't going to just call ''A'' into the office and say he doesn't want any of ''A's'' gender working for him. So he has to look for other reasons to terminate ''A.'' Over the course of the next month several employees are late for work, including Employee ''A''. Boss doesn't discipline any other employee for being late except for Employee ''A''. He fires ''A'' on the spot.
Boss knows that Employee ''A'' has to prove that employee's gender was a ''motivating'' factor in the termination, rather than just a ''contributing factor'' (partially motivated) in the determination. Its a tougher case to make.
THIS IS NOT BUSINESS FRIENDLY, IT ENABLES DISCRIMINATION
The Governor stated in his signing that he is trying to make it easier for businesses to operate in Missouri. It is a sad day when Missouri has to lure businesses to its state by making it easier to discriminate against its own working citizens!
Check out the bill for yourself below
Founded by Tim Willoughby, Esq. (1959-2013)
Phil is a Missouri employment lawyer who is licensed to practice in Kansas and Missouri, and primarily takes cases in Saint Louis and Kansas City. He is a member of the Missouri Bar Association and Kansas Bar Association. Additionally, he has practiced in the United States Federal Courts of Missouri in St. Louis and Kansas City. He has also practiced in the Kansas Federal District Court in Kansas City, Kansas.
GUNN, SHANK & STOVER, P.C.
St. Louis, MO Office:
"THE CHOICE OF AN ATTORNEY IS AN IMPORTANT DECISION AND SHOULD NOT BE SOLELY BASED ON ADVERTISING.
SB43 - Modifies the law relating to unlawful discrimination
Fri, 04 Aug 2017 00:23
SS#2/SCS/SB 43 - This act modifies and creates new provisions relating to unlawful discriminatory practices.
MOTIVATING FACTOR STANDARD
Currently, under the Missouri Human Rights Act (MHRA), a practice is unlawful when the protected classification is a contributing factor in the decision to discriminate. This act changes that standard to the motivating factor. The motivating factor is defined to mean that the employee's protected classification actually played a role in the adverse action or decision and had a determinative influence on the adverse decision or action. The person must further prove that such action was the direct proximate cause of the claimed damages.
EMPLOYERS AND EMPLOYMENT AGENCIES UNDER MHRA
Currently, persons acting in the interest of employers are considered employers under the MHRA and are each liable for discriminatory practices. This act modifies the definition of employer to exclude such individuals. The act similarly excludes the following from the definition of employment:
' The United States government;
' Corporations owned by the United States;
' Individuals employed by employers;
' Indian tribes;
' Certain departments or agencies of the District of Columbia;
' Private membership clubs; and
' Corporations and associations owned or operated by religious or sectarian organizations.
Under current law, any person acting in the interest of a person or agency that regularly undertakes to procure employees for an employer or to procure for employees opportunities to work for an employer is considered to be an employment agency. This act repeals that provision.
UNLAWFUL DISCRIMINATORY PRACTICES
This act provides that the entities subject to prohibitions on certain unlawful discriminatory practices are limited to employers, employment agencies, labor organizations, or places of public accommodations.
The act provides that the MHRA, the Workers' Compensation chapter, and the general employment law chapter shall be the exclusive remedy for any and all claims for injury or damages arising out of the employment relationship.
FILING OF COMPLAINTS WITH THE COMMISSION
Current law provides that any person claiming to be aggrieved by an unlawful discriminatory practice may make, sign, and file with the Missouri Human Rights Commission a verified complaint in writing. This act stipulates that such persons are required to file such a complaint as a precedent to filing a civil action under the MHRA. Furthermore, the failure to timely file a complaint with the Commission shall deprive the commission of jurisdiction to investigate the complaint. Complainants shall file such complaint with the Commission within 180 days of the alleged act of discrimination. Failure to timely file may be raised as a complete defense by a respondent or defendant at any time.
Current law provides that the Commission shall issue to aggrieved persons a "right to sue" letter in the following circumstances:
' If the person has filed a complaint with the Commission and the person requests such a letter in writing; or
' If after 180 days from filing a complaint with the Commission, the Commission has not completed its administrative process and the person has requested such a letter in writing.
This act stipulates that the Commission may not at any other time or for any other reason issue a letter indicating a complainant's right to bring a civil action.
The act abrogates McBryde v. Ritenour School District. Furthermore, it shall be a presumption that for a fair presentation of a case, a jury shall be given an instruction expressing the "business judgment rule."
The act recommends the use of the burden shifting analysis used by the U.S. Supreme Court in McDonnell-Douglas Corp. v. Green when it is not a case involving direct evidence of discrimination.
The act expressly abrogates all existing Missouri approved jury instructions concerning the MHRA.
RELIEF AVAILABLE UNDER MHRA CASES
Parties to a discrimination case under the MHRA have a right to a jury trial.
Damages awarded for employment cases under the MHRA shall not exceed back pay and interest on back pay and:
' $50,000 for employers with between 5 and 100 employees;
' $100,000 for employers with between 100 and 200 employees;
' $200,000 for employers with between 200 and 500 employees; or
' $500,000 for employers with more than 500 employees.
WHISTLEBLOWER'S PROTECTION ACT
The act creates the "Whistleblower's Protection Act." Employers are barred from discharging the following persons:
' an employee of an employer who reports an unlawful act of the employer;
' an employee of an employer who reports to an employer serious misconduct of the employer that violates a clear mandate of public policy as articulated in a constitutional provision, statute, or regulation promulgated under statute;
' an employee of an employer who refuses to carry out a directive issued by an employer that, if completed, would be a violation of the law; or
' an employee of an employer who engages in conduct otherwise protected by statute or regulation where the statute or regulation does not provide for a private right of action.
RELIEF AVAILABLE UNDER WHISTLEBLOWER CASES
Employees have a private right of action for actual but not punitive damages under the act unless another private right of action for damages exists under another state or federal law. Parties to an action under this provision may demand a jury trial. Remedies allowed are backpay, reimbursement of medical bills incurred in treatment of mental anguish, and double those amounts as liquidated damages if it is proven by clear and convincing evidence that the employer's conduct was outrageous because of the employer's evil motive or reckless indifference to the rights of others. The liquidated damages shall be treated as punitive damages and backpay and reimbursement shall be treated as compensatory damages in a bifurcated trial if requested by a party. Attorney's fees may be recovered upon a showing that the case was without foundation.
This act contains a severability clause.
This act is similar to HB 550 (2017), HB 552 (2017), SB 745 (2016), SCS/HCS/HB 1019 (2015), SB 36 (2015), SB 490 (2014), SB 703 (2014), HB 319 (2013), SB 353 (2013), HCS/HB 320 (2013) SS/SCS/SB 592 (2012), HB 1219 (2012), HB 2015 (2011), SB 188 (2011) that was vetoed by the Governor, HB 1488 (2010), SS/SB 852 (2010), HB 1488 (2010), HB 799 (2009), HB 227 (2009), SB 374 (2009), SB 1046 (2008), SB 168 (2007), and SCS/HCS/HB 1456 (2006).
Local NAACP pushes back against Missouri travel advisory
Fri, 04 Aug 2017 00:18
By Associated Press By Associated Press August 3 at 7:14 PM
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. '-- A St. Louis-area branch of the NAACP is pushing back against an advisory supported by state and national NAACP members that urges caution while traveling in Missouri.
St. Louis County NAACP President Esther Haywood said in a statement Thursday that the advisory could end up hurting workers in the state's hospitality industry.
The Missouri NAACP issued the advisory in June to warn travelers to be careful because of what it called a danger that civil rights won't be respected, and national delegates also voted in favor of it. The advisory cites a new law to make it more difficult to sue for housing or employment discrimination, among other things.
Haywood says the local branch doesn't approve of the legislation but cautioned the travel advisory could harm NAACP members.
Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
NAACP | Travel Advisory for the State of Missouri
Fri, 04 Aug 2017 00:16
BALTIMORE '' The NAACP Travel Advisory for the state of Missouri, effective through August 28th, 2017, calls for African American travelers, visitors and Missourians to pay special attention and exercise extreme caution when traveling throughout the state given the series of questionable, race-based incidents occurring statewide recently, and noted therein.
''The NAACP is a membership-based advocacy organization that has worked for generations to protect the hard-fought freedoms of all American citizens'--freedoms which are guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution'--and one of the most basic of those freedoms is the ability to freely travel from state-to-state without fear of threat, violence or harm,'' said Derrick Johnson, interim president and CEO. ''The numerous racist incidents, and the statistics cited by the Missouri Attorney General in the advisory, namely the fact that African Americans in Missouri are 75 percent more likely to be stopped and searched by law enforcement officers than Caucasians, are unconscionable, and are simply unacceptable in a progressive society.
''We share the alarm and concern that black individuals enjoying the highways, roads and points of interest there may not be safe, and the national office will also be closely monitoring the progress of Governor Greitien's review of Bill SB 43,'' Johnson adds.
SB 43, advanced by Senator Gary Romine, hearkens back to the Jim Crow-era. The Bill legalizes individual discrimination and harassment within the State of Missouri, and ''would prevent individuals from protecting themselves from discrimination, harassment and retaliation in Missouri,'' the advisory reads.
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About the NAACP
Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation's oldest and largest nonpartisan civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities. You can read more about the NAACP's work, and our six'¯''Game Changer'' issue areas'¯here.
We Need to Talk About Digital Blackface in Reaction GIFs | Teen Vogue
Sun, 06 Aug 2017 15:12
In this op-ed, Lauren Michele Jackson tackles the recurring use of black people as reaction GIFs and its implications in terms of broader ''digital blackface.''
Adore or despise them, GIFs are integral to the social experience of the Internet. Thanks to a range of buttons, apps, and keyboards, saying ''it me'' without words is easier than ever. But even a casual observer of GIFing would notice that, as with much of online culture, black people appear at the center of it all. Or images of black people, at least. The Real Housewives of Atlanta,Oprah, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, NBA players, Tiffany Pollard, Kid Fury, and many, many other known and anonymous black likenesses dominate day-to-day feeds, even outside online black communities. Similar to the idea that ''Black Vine is simply Vine,'' as Jeff Ihaza determined in The Awl, black reaction GIFs have become so widespread that they've practically become synonymous with just reaction GIFs.
If you've never heard of the term before, ''digital blackface'' is used to describe various types of minstrel performance that become available in cyberspace. Blackface minstrelsy is a theatrical tradition dating back to the early 19th century, in which performers ''blacken'' themselves up with costume and behaviors to act as black caricatures. The performances put society's most racist sensibilities on display and in turn fed them back to audiences to intensify these feelings and disperse them across culture. Many of our most beloved entertainment genres owe at least part of themselves to the minstrel stage, including vaudeville, film, and cartoons. While often associated with Jim Crow''era racism, the tenets of minstrel performance remain alive today in television, movies, music and, in its most advanced iteration, on the Internet.
Unlike other physical executions of blackface (such as by Robert Downey Jr. in Tropic Thunder, Sarah Silverman on her own show, Rachel Dolezal, or the authors of AB to Jay-Z) that require physical alternations and usually a change in demeanor (like Iggy Azalea's ''blaccent''), digital blackface is in some ways a more seamless transformation. Digital blackface uses the relative anonymity of online identity to embody blackness. In the case of Mandi Harrington, a white woman who masqueraded as the fictional ''LaQueeta Jones,'' digital blackface became a means for her to defend musician Ani DiFranco's decision to host a retreat at a slave plantation. Digital minstrels often operate under stolen profile pictures and butchered AAVE. Quite often it comes in the form of an excessive use of reaction GIFs with images of black people.
After all, the emotional range these GIFs cover is quite large. Reaction GIFs are generally reserved for oddly specific yet also universal situations that we all can relate to: grabbing a snack to watch some drama unfold with MJ; witnessing an awkward encounter with Hov; walking into a garbage fire with Donald Glover; walking away from one with Angela Bassett; sipping with Wendy, Prince, or Bey; or delivering the shadiest side-eye imaginable with Viola Davis, Rihanna, James Harden, Tamar, Naomi Campbell, and truly too many other folks to name. The so-called ''greatest meme of 2016,'' at least according to BuzzFeed, featured rapper Conceited in the now-iconic GIF where he purses his lips and turns toward the camera with a red solo cup in hand.
Outside these cherry-picked, celeb-studded examples are countless reaction images of small sensations like Tanisha from Bad Girls Club and Ms. Foxy from Beyond Scared Straight, or relative unknowns, pulled from news coverage, YouTube, and Vines. These are the kind of GIFs liable to come up with a generic search like ''funny black kid gif'' or ''black lady gif.'' For the latter search, Giphy offers several additional suggestions, such as ''Sassy Black Lady,'' ''Angry Black Lady,'' and ''Black Fat Lady'' to assist users in narrowing down their search. While on Giphy, for one, none of these keywords turns up exclusively black women in the results, the pairings offer a peek into user expectations. For while reaction GIFs can and do every feeling under the sun, white and nonblack users seem to especially prefer GIFs with black people when it comes to emitting their most exaggerated emotions. Extreme joy, annoyance, anger and occasions for drama and gossip are a magnet for images of black people, especially black femmes.
Now, I'm not suggesting that white and nonblack people refrain from ever circulating a black person's image for amusement or otherwise (except maybe lynching photos, Emmett Till's casket, and videos of cops killing us, y'all can stop cycling those, thanks). There's no prescriptive or proscriptive step-by-step rulebook to follow, nobody's coming to take GIFs away. But no digital behavior exists in a deracialized vacuum. We all need to be cognizant of what we share, how we share, and to what extent that sharing dramatizes preexisting racial formulas inherited from ''real life.'' The Internet isn't a fantasy '-- it's real life.
After all, our culture frequently associates black people with excessive behaviors, regardless of the behavior at hand. Black women will often be accused of yelling when we haven't so much as raised our voice. Officer Darren Wilson perceived a teenage Michael Brown as a hulking ''demon'' and a young black girl who remained still was flipped and dragged across a classroom by deputy Ben Fields. It's an implication that points toward a strange way of thinking: When we do nothing, we're doing something, and when we do anything, our behavior is considered "extreme." This includes displays of emotion stereotyped as excessive: so happy, so sassy, so ghetto, so loud. In television and film, our dial is on 10 all the time '-- rarely are black characters afforded subtle traits or feelings. Scholar Sianne Ngai uses the word ''animatedness'' to describe our cultural propensity see black people as walking hyperbole.
If there's one thing the Internet thrives on, it's hyperbole and the overrepresentation of black people in GIFing everyone's daily crises plays up enduring perceptions and stereotypes about black expression. And when nonblack users flock to these images, they are playacting within those stereotypes in a manner reminiscent of an unsavory American tradition. Reaction GIFs are mostly frivolous and fun. But when black people are the go-to choice for nonblack users to act out their most hyperbolic emotions, do reaction GIFs become ''digital blackface''?
"It's an implication that points toward a strange way of thinking: When we do nothing, we're doing something, and when we do anything, our behavior is considered 'extreme.'"
Then comes the more sinister side of this. Similar cases happen all over the comments section virtually anywhere, with or without a photo, often prefaced with statements like ''as a black man'...'' before proceeding to sound like anything but. In other instances, digital blackface is an orchestrated attempt by white supremacists to disrupt black organizing. Writer Shafiqah Hudson started the hashtag #yourslipisshowing to document instances of digital blackface in real time, joined by other black women writers and theorists such as I'Nasah Crockett, Sydette Harry, Mikki Kendall, Trudy, and Feminista Jones. As the name of the tag suggests, online minstrels are no more believable than their in-person counterparts to anyone who knows black culture and black people, rather than a series of types. Unfortunately, digital blackface often goes unchecked unless a black person does the work to point out the discrepancies in someone's profile.
But while these examples are particularly noteworthy for their malicious intent, digital blackface has softer counterparts, just like offline blackface. Digital blackface does not describe intent, but an act '-- the act of inhabiting a black persona. Employing digital technology to co-opt a perceived cache or black cool, too, involves playacting blackness in a minstrel-like tradition. This can be as elaborate as anon accounts like @ItsLaQueefa or as inadvertent as recruiting images of black queer men to throw shade at one's enemies. No matter how brief the performance or playful the intent, summoning black images to play types means pirouetting on over 150 years of American blackface tradition.
Images of black people, more than anyone else, are primed to go viral and circulate widely online '-- in trauma, in death, and in memes. Reaction GIFs are an uneasy reminder of the way our presence is extra visible in life, every day, in ways that get us profiled, harassed, mocked, beaten, and killed. Long before the Internet or television, merry racist characters like pickaninnies and coons circulated the same social space as lynching postcards. Being on display has always been a precarious experience for black folks. Scholars such as Tina Campt and artists like Martine Syms consider what it means for black images to be reproduced as stock visuals in history and culture. ''Representation is a sort of surveillance,'' Syms recently told The New Yorker. Reaction GIFing looks less innocuous with the consideration of how overrepresented images of black people have become within the practice.
''[T]o be looped in a GIF, to be put on display as 'animated' at the behest of audiences,'' as Monica Torres describes for Real Life, is an act with racial history and meaning. These GIFs often enact fantasies of black women as ''sassy'' and extravagant, allowing nonblack users to harness and inhabit these images as an extension of themselves. GIFs with transcripts become an opportunity for those not fluent in black vernacular to safely use the language, such as in the many ''hell to the no,'' ''girl, bye,'' and ''bitch, please'' memes passed around. Ultimately, black people and black images are thus relied upon to perform a huge amount of emotional labor online on behalf of nonblack users. We are your sass, your nonchalance, your fury, your delight, your annoyance, your happy dance, your diva, your shade, your ''yaas'' moments. The weight of reaction GIFing, period, rests on our shoulders. Intertwine this proliferation of our images with the other ones we're as likely to see '-- death, looped over and over '-- and the Internet becomes an exhausting experience.
If you find yourself always reaching for a black face to release your inner sass monster, maybe consider going the extra country mile and pick this nice Taylor SwiftGIF instead.
Related:Netflix's Dear White People Is a Refreshing Reminder That Black Identity Doesn't Exist in a Vacuum
Professor Bret Weinstein Files $3.8 Million Claim Against Evergreen State College - Hit & Run : Reason.com
Sat, 05 Aug 2017 04:34
The Evergreen State College Among the many student-led inquisitions that have swept America's college campuses recently, this one from Evergreen State College stands out as especially egregious and ridiculous. The standard elements of these now-typical incidents were all there: outrage over microaggressions, demands for safe spaces, and some students behaving like cartoonish caricatures of social justice activists.
Now Bret Weinstein, the professor at the center of this episode, is filing a $3.8 million tort claim against the school on behalf his wife and himself, saying in part that The Evergreen State College (TESC) "consistently has failed to set and enforce necessary boundaries in the workplace on campus, selectively has chosen not to enforce its student Code of Conduct, and sent the unmistakable message that the school will tolerate (and even endorse) egregious violations (and even crimes) purportedly to advance racial social goals, diminishing the collegiate experience for all, and fostering a racially hostile and retaliatory work environment for faculty and staff."
If that sounds overblown or exaggerated, it's worth remembering that the local police chief told Weinstein to leave campus because it was not safe for him to remain there. The video evidence of the student mob speaks for itself.
I first covered Evergreen for Reason back in early June as the school was still reeling from student protests. Nearly two months later, the school's graduation came and went (albeit off-campus for safety reasons) and the administration is grappling with how to move forward and salvage the school's reputation.
The shift in tone from the school's leaders over the course of these two months has been remarkable. Evergereen State President George Bridges initially said that he was "grateful to the courageous students who voiced their concerns."' (If by "voiced their concerns"' he meant "angrily shouted and took over the school," then that statement might be appropriate). Now Bridges says he is "immensely disappointed"' with the student demonstrators and that some may face disciplinary action.
This complete reversal almost certainly stems from the massive backlash the school received over its handling of the protests. A Washington state lawmaker proposed defunding the school, and the university's Board of Trustees condemned the behavior of the student mob.
It remains to be seen what the long-term effects of the protests or Weinstein's impending lawsuit will have on Evergreen, but the future does not look bright. Even if Weinstein doesn't get the money he's asking for, the school will still endure the cost of all the bad PR. The University of Missouri experienced massive protests in 2015 that ended in the resignation of both the campus chancellor and the university system president over accusations of administrative indifference to racism on campus. Since then, freshman enrollment has fallen by 35 percent and budget cuts have resulted in the elimination of around 400 positions.
As I said before in my original article, the Evergreen students who wanted nothing to do with this nonsense in the first place are the ones who truly suffer. For their sake, let's hope the administration can get its act together before the school's reputation as a "Social Justice Warrior PC Indoctrination Compound" is complete.
Decolonising Syria's so-called 'queer liberation'
Sun, 06 Aug 2017 08:40
On July 24, the IRPGF announced the formation of a new queer subgroup within its ranks [IRPGF]
Razan Ghazzawi is a Syrian Palestinian scholar and activist.
On July 24 the International Revolutionary People's Guerrilla Forces (IRPGF), a group of international fighters and volunteers fighting alongside the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), announced on their Twitter page the creation of a " subgroup comprised of LGBTQI comrades and others who seek to smash the gender binary".
The group, called TQILA, was to join the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Syria . The Twitter announcement was soon picked up by a few Western media outlets amid gleeful reactions by leftists, progressives and gay celebrities on their social media accounts.
On July 25, Mustafa Bali, the media relations director of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF - which includes YPG in its ranks), denied the "formation of such a battalion within the framework" of SDF. The following day, the IRPGF spokesperson, Heval Rojhilat, told Newsweek that SDF did not know the announcement was coming and that IRPGF does not need SDF's "permission for that since it is within our own autonomous organization".
Responses and reactions to this announcement varied; some questioned the group's authenticity and asked whether the story was just another orientalist exotica concocted by the Western media. Others questioned the group's efficiency as "proper" fighters. Some even wondered whether this was a clever attempt by the YPG to gain favourable coverage in the Western media. And many among the Western leftists and progressives celebrated the news as "queer vengeance against ISIL".
What has so far been missing in the debate, however, is how this announcement, its discourse and the logic behind it, situate "violence" and "war on terror" as a "revolutionary" method in achieving universal social justice on the Syrian front lines.
We learn, from the founding statements of TQILA and its umbrella group, IRPGF, that their causes of "anarchism", "smashing gender binary", and "sexual revolution" are all connected to the most selling hegemonic narrative of the 21st century: the "war on terror".
Queer liberators or imperial queers? Much decolonial and queer feminist literature has been written on the imperial project of the "war on terror" and its whiteness, its propagation of "rescue narratives" towards Muslim women, its destruction of the homes and resources of local communities in the global south and its "civilising mission" to bring "democracy" and "human rights" to these communities - and now "smash gender binary" and "queerphobia" for them.
Grassroots activists and community organisers from the Middle East know very well how the "war on terror" narrative is not a tool exclusive to the white Western state. It has also become the tool of self-identified anti-imperialist states, resistance bodies and authoritarian regimes in their crackdown on dissidents, popular uprisings and minority rights. Under the guise of participating in the so-called "war on terror", these regimes and groups invade, bomb, torture, incarcerate and evacuate local civilian communities amid the cheerful endorsement of the international progressive left.
In this regard, Syrian queer academic-activist Fadi Saleh told me:
"[Why] 'anarchists' go to a country devastated by war and chaos for years now and say they want to spread anarchism is a bit beyond me. It is not only ridiculous, but also unethical and quite arrogant, because in a country that has been fighting for some sense of stability, peace, and belonging for years, their mission is nothing short of abhorrent.
This global obsession with Daesh [ISIL] and the gays is another exhausted trope that this and other groups need to stop using and building their entire political agendas upon. Daesh has invariably and indiscriminately targeted all kinds of populations, that is first. Second, reducing sexual and gender-based violence to Daesh does not only wash all the violence the other parties committed and continue to commit against sexual and gender minorities as irrelevant, but also confers a twisted sense of legitimacy upon TQILA: if you oppose Daesh, your politics and entire being as a unit becomes unquestionable, ultimately good and probably beyond criticism. I still want to know who these people are if they continue to speak in my name. I want to be able to hold them accountable if they make mistakes."
TQILA tells us that it was formed to fight "authority, patriarchy and oppressive heteronomativity, queer/homophobia and transphobia" and explains how "the images of gay men being thrown off roofs and stoned to death" by ISIL was something they "could not idly watch". Their umbrella group, IRPGF, tells us that their role is "to be an armed force capable of defending liberatory social revolutions around the world while simultaneously being a force capable of insurrection and struggle against all kyriarchal forms of power wherever they exist '... [and] to fight alongside other armed groups in solidarity with those who are oppressed, exploited and facing annihilation ."
INTERACTIVE: Who and where are the Kurds?
This romantic sketching of a revolutionary path to utopia i n a conflict that has been termed the "worst man-made disaster since World War II", where almost half a million were killed and half of the population is displaced, render other perpetrators of the suffering of the Syrian people invisible.
By positioning the "war on terror" as context for such a "laboratory" and "emancipating" narrative, the IRPGF and TQILA end up providing a glossing template for the erasure of local communities' inclusive struggles, including the ones they claim to rescue.
Ethno-orientalist constructions of Rojava The Rojava administration in northern Syria, which was founded by the Democratic Union Party (PYD) - YPG's political arm - in 2013, has been portrayed as a success story of the "struggle against borders and for autonomy" by the international media and self-identified leftists and progressives.
Others applaud "the Kurds" - a common synonym used by leftists to refer to PYD - as " the best hope for left politics in the region ". PYD is also presented as a big champion for " gender equality" as a result of its inclusion of women in its armed forces.
Nevertheless, the PYD, like the rest of the conflicting parties in the region, commitshuman rights violations, targets its dissidents, including peaceful protestersand forcibly evacuatesArab and Turkman civilians - and some Kurds - from their villages .
To suggest that 'gender and sexual revolutions' are being accomplished by joining an authoritarian party participating in the imperial 'war on terror' not only functions as an erasure of other struggles, but also as a colonial rewriting of what the struggle is in Syria.
As a result of the Western leftist ethno-orientalist fascination with Kurdish Rojava's "feminist" militarisation model which supposedly leads to "women's emancipation", feminism and broader social justice movements replace and silence local communities' struggles, including women's and queers'.
Indeed, the PYD has been repeatedly criticised by Syrian Kurds living under the Rojava administration, including activists, members of the political opposition, journalists, civil society groups, women and queers.
For example, a Syrian Kurdish queer transwoman, Ziya Gorani, who lived under the Rojava administration, has a different perception of Rojava than the international left and TQILA. She told me:
"I am angry about the image PYD is trying to sell to the outside world. They say they're 'anarchists' adopting feminism and now they are being celebrated for their inclusion of LGBTQ individuals. But at the same time, they do nothing to provide protection to marginalised groups. Just because there are no laws against LGBTQ in Rojava, this doesn't mean there are rights. There have been cases of discrimination against LGTBQ people, and the PYD watched and did nothing about it, because they don't care - it is not one of their priorities. As a LGBTQ person in Rojava you are faced with two options: Either you choose to come out and [be] killed, or live your life afraid of being outed.
I was attacked for these views and accused of supporting rival groups. As a queer woman, I know for a fact that I cannot go back to Rojava without being attacked, and I know there is no protection for me there. So I am most certainly not defending anyone in this war. As a Kurdish Syrian queer woman, I have the right to criticise the PYD without being accused of defending other sides. The world has to stop seeing Rojava as a utopia.
We do not know who are the members of this subgroup [TQILA], we do not know if they're Kurds themselves, or Syrian. They're a bunch of international fighters with YPG, trying to sell an image that LGTBQ people can wander the streets of Rojava without being discriminated against - that's a lie. That's not how things are in Rojava."
None of what Gorani said has been echoed among the international left celebrating the formation of TQILA.
The militarised liberation mission of this group of international self-identified anarchists to save Syrian queers from "religiously motivated hatred and attacks" is not only reminiscent of imperial and colonial legacies in the region, but also in the Syrian context, it obscures the ways in which the "war on terror" has provided the authoritarian Syrian state a legal platform to systematically eliminate the 2011 popular uprising by simply constructing itself as a "secular", "anti-imperialist" and "pan-Arabist" state, with support of the global left.
Because of the "war on terror" narrative, "secular" and "sovereign" Bashar al-Assad legally killed peaceful protesters, media and aid workers, besieged civilian populations and built "extermination camps".
Predominance of oppositional dichotomies such as "terrorists" versus "seculars", or "Kurds" versus "Sunni Arabs", "queer anarchists" versus "Islamist terrorists" and "international leftists" versus "international terrorists" in the narratives about Syria's six-year-old war expose how the war on local communities in Syria has been perpetuated by claims of modernity and civilisational superiority.
To suggest that "gender and sexual revolutions" are being accomplished by joining an authoritarian party participating in the imperial "war on terror" not only functions as an erasure of other struggles, but also as a colonial rewriting of what the struggle is in Syria. The struggle is, and has always been, according to these international fighters and their leftist supporters: a war on ISIL. The populations in Syria, however, have been saying that their struggle is for self-determination, and they can only achieve this goal by ousting Assad, takfiris and warlords by strengthening grassroots community organising.
Razan Ghazzawi is a Syrian Palestinian scholar and activist. She was a protestor and a grassroots activist in the 2011 uprising. She was detained twice by the Syrian State and was forced to get smuggled out of the country under threats of a third detention. In 2013 Ghazzawi returned to Syria to live in Kafranbel, a town in the north of Syria which was not under the control of the regime. She is currently a first year PhD candidate at the University of Sussex. Her thesis focuses on the intersections of sexuality, exceptional violence and sovereignty of the Syrian state.
The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera's editorial policy.
CLIPS AND DOCS
VIDEO - Maxine Waters: Democrats Need To Educate The Public Not Look At Their Policies | NTK Network
Sun, 06 Aug 2017 09:24
Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) proclaimed that Wall Street was now in the White House during an interview on MSNBC's Morning Joe Monday. Democrats need to educate the public about their policies, not reform them, she said.
''Wall Street is now in the White House rolling by Dodd-Frank,'' Waters told MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski. ''I want to tell you, Dodd-Frank was the answer, the reform that we needed based on the recession that was caused [by] Wall Street when Lehman Brothers failed, and it caused all of the other banks to be, you know, in trouble.''
Waters took particular issue with President Trump's proposal to roll back some Dodd-Frank regulations and with Jared Cohen and Steve Bannon serving in the Trump administration because of their ties to Wall Street.
Brzezinski asked Waters what political options the Democrats had to stop Trump's Dodd-Frank rollback proposal.
''Our challenge is to educate the public,'' Waters told Brzezinski.
The strategy to ''educate the public'' was one employed by Hillary Clinton's campaign, which fell short in winning over enough voters in key battleground states to defeat Trump in November.
VIDEO - SIRE - laat jij jouw jongen genoeg jongen zijn? - YouTube
Sun, 06 Aug 2017 08:37
VIDEO - Democrat Strategist Robert Patillo-Maxine Waters Will Be House Speaker in 2018! (VIDEO)
Sun, 06 Aug 2017 03:49
In an appearance on FOX News Channel's America's News HQ Saturday morning, lawyer and Democrat strategist Robert Patillo told host Leland Vittert that Rep. Maxine Waters will be Speaker of the House in 2018. Leland Vittert: ''Robert, why do you think, or do you agree with the fact that the Democrats have seemed to have decided that it is much better to resit Trump, than it is to try to do what you were talking about, and work together and have some type of compromise?''
Robert Patillo: ''Well, I think when Trump was elected, he tried to court the Republican establishment. That's why he brought in Reince Priebus into the Oval Office. The appointment of Jeff Sessions. He tried to become the establishment Republican. Now that he's seen that's not working, Democrats looking at a President hovering around 30 percent approval ratings, have no reason to run into a burning building and try to put it out. Instead, they are waiting until 2018, when we'll have Speaker of the House Maxine Waters and Senate Leader Chuck Schumer and then they'll be able to control the government that way. As long as Trump is hovering around 30 percent approval ratings, and Republicans appear to be in chaos, there's no reason to reach across the line.''
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VIDEO - Wasserman Schultz Says Laptop Was Awan's | The Daily Caller
Fri, 04 Aug 2017 20:30
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz never actually saw the computer she fought to block the Capitol Police from examining as evidence in a criminal case against her IT aide by saying it was hers, she told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel Thursday.
She threatened ''consequences'' on May 18 for the chief of the Capitol Police unless the laptop was returned '-- despite police contending it was needed to help determine whether a staffer may have violated the House's cybersecurity.
''This was not my laptop. I have never seen that laptop. I don't know what's on the laptop,'' she said Thursday. She said it was Imran's laptop but purchased using taxpayer funds from her office.
After the exchange with Capitol Police Chief Matthew Verderosa, Wasserman Schultz fought to block access to the laptop so vehemently that she hired an outside law firm to argue constitutional issues, an exceedingly rare step.
In the May hearing on the Capitol Police's budget, she repeatedly posed hypotheticals about if a member loses their laptop and it is found by police. The police chief, clearly aware of the situation to which she is referring, says if the laptop belongs to a criminal suspect, it may be seized as evidence.
''If a Member loses equipment and it is found by your staff and identified as that member's equipment and the member is not associated with any case, it is supposed to be returned. Yes or no?'... My understanding is the the Capitol Police is not able to confiscate Members' equipment when the Member is not under investigation,'' she said.
She opened her questioning of Verderosa by saying ''I'd like to know how Capitol Police handle equipment that belongs to a member or staffer that's been lost in the Capitol complex and found or recovered by one of your officers. What happens?''
But after Verdosa said ''if it's part of an ongoing case, then there are additional things that need to be done,'' she repeatedly characterized the hypothetical laptop as that of a member.
Even if one of her staffers is under investigation, a laptop that belongs to her should not be viewable as evidence unless she herself is under investigation, she said.
''I mean in a specific sense. If the member loses the equipment, says they lose the equipment, and it is found by the Capitol Police, it is supposed to be returned.''
The chief responded, ''if ownership has been established, it will be returned. If it's subject to an ongoing investigation, there are additional things,''
She concluded: ''I think you're violating the rules when you conduct your business that way and you should expect that there will be consequences.''
In the Thursday interview, she said Imran misplaced his laptop in a Capitol office building.
Wasserman Schultz acknowledged to the Sun-Sentinel that Imran is suspected by House authorities of transferring data from the House network, in addition to theft. She refused to fire him until he was arrested by the FBI trying to fly to Pakistan, saying because she wanted police to share evidence with her but they would not.
In explaining the heated exchange with the police chief, she told the paper ''I was trying to get more information, I wanted to make sure [police] were following the rules.''
She told the paper she has now allowed police to examine the laptop; on July 19th Fox News reported that she had been blocking the review for months due to ''speech and debate clause'' issues but was now open to ''negotiating'' over access.
Wasserman Schultz spokesman David Damron did not immediately respond to questions from The Daily Caller News Foundation, including whether there were any restrictions imposed on the access she granted.
He also did not say how the speech and debate clause would have applied to the laptop of an IT technician who worked part-time for several members. It is intended to give immunity for statements members make in the carrying out of their direct legislative duties, such as preparation for committee hearings.
Her local paper called her ''defiant'' in the interview, saying she kept Imran '-- who had access to all of her congressional emails as well as her personal iPad password '-- on staff even after police told her he was the target of a criminal investigation into cybersecurity issues because ''you have to stand up for what's right.''
''I would do it again,'' she said, saying she had ''racial and ethnic profiling concerns.'' (Imran and his brother have repeatedly been accused of fraud by other Muslims in civil court cases, and an ongoing civil case alleging life insurance fraud, their stepmother says Imran said he was ''very powerful'' and would have people kidnapped if she called police on him. She said he wiretapped her and wanted her to help him access money in Pakistan.)
Wasserman Schultz also said it was ''absurd'' to say that Imran was fleeing the country. Both he and his wife Hina Alvi '-- also employed by Wasserman Schultz as an IT person '-- bought round-trip flights, but also wired hundreds of thousands of dollars to Pakistan and listed one house for sale and accepted a buyer for another on the day Imran left for the airport.
The FBI says it believes Hina has no intention of returning to the US, and it arrested Imran July 24 as he tried to board a flight to Pakistan. Damron has previously declined to tell TheDCNF what Hina told the office about her trip, if anything, but it removed her from its payroll two days after she left.
Wasserman Schultz said Imran requested unpaid leave from her office for a trip. ''When you're trying to flee, you don't fill out a form with your employer and go on unpaid leave.''
But tenants who rented houses from Imran told TheDCNF he has routinely left the country for long periods of time. No gaps corresponding with unpaid absences are visible in Wasserman Schultz's salary records in recent years.
The Sun-Sentinel said she has refused to speak personally about the issue until now, and quoted her as saying ''I've been on vacation,'' she said. ''I'm not hiding, and I have no reason to hide.''
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VIDEO - USA TODAY - Watch the Bruce Willis 'Death Wish' that Twitter calls 'alt-right'
Fri, 04 Aug 2017 12:33
Bruce Willis' status as an action hero is unshakable. USA TODAY
Fans of Eli Roth, Bruce Willis, the 1974 action thriller Death Wish and/or movies with lots of guns will likely be thrilled by a new trailer. Many internet commentators, however, are not.
The trailer for Roth's Death Wish remake arrived Thursday, featuring Willis playing Dr. Paul Kersey, a Chicago surgeon-turned-vigilante who, after criminals assault his wife and daughter, decides to brutally hunt them down himself.
While some fans celebrated the trailer's release, many Twitter commenters condemned the violence of the trailer, calling its tone a poor fit for America's fraught political climate.
"Fair or not, I can't think of a more tone-deaf idea in this political/social environment than white filmmakers remaking #DEATHWISH," tweeted Forbes critic Scott Mendelson.
"Pretty sure the NRA just found their next ad," wrote one Twitter user, with another calling the trailer "a grim, grave, corrosive urban horror picture."
The backlash to the backlash has already started, with voices on the rightcalling out the "Democratic meltdown over Death Wish."
See what critics are saying below. Death Wish lands in theaters on Nov. 22.
Read or Share this story: https://usat.ly/2wpyjFn
VIDEO - Tony's Kansas City: SHAME!!! SHOW-ME NAACP WARNING DRIVERS ABOUT MISSOURI RACISM!!!
Fri, 04 Aug 2017 00:21
A national disgrace, a move that HORRIBLY impacts biz and tarnishes the reputation of the Show-Me State throughout the nation.
Reactionaries might not care or might like the backward image . . . The smarter denizens of our blog community realize that THE ONLY COLOR THAT MATTERS IS GREEN and this bit of public shaming has the potential to impact the pocketbook of local biz.
RiverFront Times: NAACP Warns Travelers About Missouri: 'Know Before You Go'
Fox4: "The advisory cites data indicating higher traffic stop rates for black drivers, it also notes a number of actions taken by Missouri lawmakers that could have adverse affects on minorities filing for discrimination suits."
KCTV5: "The NAACP is moving forward with a travel advisory warning people to be careful while in Missouri because of a danger that civil rights won't be respected."
You decide . . .
VIDEO - Missouri NAACP issues travel warning after new bill
Fri, 04 Aug 2017 00:18
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VIDEO - Missouri NAACP President explains travel advisory issued against the state
Fri, 04 Aug 2017 00:17
Posted: Mon 10:34 PM, Jun 26, 2017
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. Missouri's chapter of the NAACP issued a travel advisory against the state Monday.
According to the chapter's president, Rod Chapel, it's about civil rights.
"There's not a walk in Missouri life that will not be affected by this law," he says.
Missouri legislature passed a law that many say will make it more difficult to sue for discrimination.
"Across the nation, when I bring this up to people on local and state leadership, they just don't understand how Missouri has taken this step," explains Chapel.
Chapel says the group has a responsibility to protect the rights of others.
"The reason we did it is because we felt like we had to warn people before they get into the state and frankly, some of the people who are hear now that may not know what's happening," he says.
The group argues that state leaders aren't working towards Missouri's future.
"Missouri ought to be trying to attract businesses and people who are interested in healthy, well-educated, and ready to work people. That's who you want in our work force. Instead we seem to be walking in the wrong direction to figure out how many civil rights we can take away from people, how many opportunities for proper discourse and conduct within society can we eliminate," he says.
Chapel explains that it's not a race issue but a human rights issue.
"Be careful if you are coming here or if you're already here because your civil rights may not be respected as they are now or as they will be in the future and you actually have important rights that you could lose," he says. "If you are in you're in your work place, if you're looking for a home, if you're seeking education or health care or simply just a meal that you are at real risk."
If rights are violated he says there's very little that can be done about it.
"We can't complain. We can't hold people that are accountable to task, that seems simply un-American," says Chapel.
He says he's talked with Governor Eric Greitens about the group's concerns.
"It is my hope that he will offer the veto. He did not tell me explicitly that he would but that he was considering it," he says.
The Missouri NAACP is holding a rally Tuesday at the capitol building in Jefferson City.
Governor Eric Greitens has until mid-July to make his decision on vetoing the bill.
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Thu, 03 Aug 2017 22:06
VIDEO - Robert F. Kennedy Jr Drops Vaccine Truth Bomb Live On TV - Your News Wire
Thu, 03 Aug 2017 21:36
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. dropped a truth bomb live on TV this week, defying Big Pharma and corrupt mainstream media by sharing real facts about vaccine safety.
Explaining to Tucker Carlson that this was only the second time he had ever been allowed to talk about vaccine safety on TV, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. launched into a powerful attack on the vaccine industry, comparing it to a lawless mafia state.
''The pharmaceutical industry is so powerful,'' he explained. ''They give $5.4 billion a year to the media. They've gotten rid of the lawyers, so there is no legal interest in those cases. They have really been able to control the debate and silence people like me.''
Asked how things could get this bad, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. explained that Congress granted Big Pharma ''blanket legal immunity'' when it comes to vaccines.
Big Pharma became a law unto themselves. They can put toxic ingredients in your vaccines, they can seriously injure your child '' but you cannot sue them.
''What you have to understand is that the vaccine regimen changed dramatically around 1989. The reason it changed, Tucker, is that Congress, drowning in pharmaceutical industry money, did something they have never done for any other industry '' they gave blanket legal immunity to all the vaccine companies.
''So that no matter how sloppy the line protocols, no matter how absent the quality control, no matter how toxic the ingredients, or egregious the injury to your child, you cannot sue them.
''So there's no depositions, there's no discovery, there's no class action suits. All of a sudden vaccines became enormously profitable.''
The enormous profits in the unregulated industry meant Big Pharma companies raced each other to produce new and unnecessary vaccines to pump into newborn children '' often dozens at a time.
''It became a gold rush for the pharmaceutical industry to add new vaccines to the spectrum.''
But at what cost? The vaccine industry, operating under their own rules '' or rather, complete absence of rules '' is making it impossible for us to find out the facts. President Trump has long called for an independent inquiry into vaccine safety. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is calling for the same.
''I got three vaccines and I was fully compliant. I'm 63 years old. My children got 69 doses of 16 vaccines to be compliant. And a lot of these vaccines aren't even for communicable diseases. Like Hepatitis B, which comes from unprotected sex, or using or sharing needles '' why do we give that to a child on the first day of their life? And it was loaded with mercury.''
Tucker asked, ''We do give that to children?''
''We continue to give it to them. The mercury has been taken out of three vaccines, but it remains in the flu vaccine, and it is still in vaccines all over the world. And it is the most potent neurotoxin known to man that is not radioactive.''
''How can we inject that into a child?''
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. tried to put the outrageous situation into context.
''If you take that vaccine vial and break it, you have to dispose of that as hazardous waste. You have to evacuate the building. Why would you take that and inject it into a child?''
But he wasn't finished there. RJK Jr. also took aim at Bill Gates, who recently admitted that he told President Trump ''there is no need'' for an independent inquiry into the safety of vaccines because he has ''looked at it'' and they are ''completely safe.''
Citing a new independent study, funded by the Danish government, which examined the safety of the Tdap vaccine when given to African children, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. left jaws on the floor when he revealed that the vaccine, pushed on African children by Gates, kills more people than the diseases it is supposed to protect against.
''Virtually every kid in Africa gets it. What they found'...they did a vaccinated versus non-vaccinated study, which has never been done'...what they concluded was'...they said that vaccine is killing more people than Diphtheria, Pertussis, and Tetanus combined (for which the Tdap vaccinated).''
The kids who got the vaccine were ''ten times more likely to die from the vaccine'' in the two months following the vaccination, than those children who did not receive the vaccine.
''So we need to do these cost/benefit analyses on every vaccine.''
Tucker then asked the question that gave RFK Jr. the opportunity to explain how Big Pharma has marginalized anybody who dares raise questions about anything that could impact their massive profits:
''So why has the point that you are making, that doesn't seem crazy, been so discredited?''
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. replied: ''I'm called anti-vax all the time because the pharmaceutical industry is so powerful. They give $5.4 billion a year to the media. They've gotten rid of the lawyers, so there is no legal interest in those cases. They have really been able to control the debate and silence people like me. So I'm really grateful to you, for having the courage to allow me on the show to talk about this. This is the second show in 10 years that has allowed me to talk about this.
''We ought to be having a responsible debate. A debate that is real, that is based on science.''
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