955: Outrage Addition

Adam Curry & John C. Dvorak

2h 54m
August 13th, 2017
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Podcast Awards - The People's Choice
Sun, 13 Aug 2017 13:01
12th Podcast AwardsJuly 2017The 12th Annual People's Choice Podcast Awards Slate is Now Online
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Charlottesville
From SpookyR
Charlottesville is just plain crazy. The place gets trashed regularly... It's either protests or parties as UVA is a -big- party school. There's also a very quiet war still going on between the North and the South in the Shenandoah Valley ever since it was burned and reconstructed (it's still being reconstructed to this day).
White Nationalists March on University of Virginia - The New York Times
Sat, 12 Aug 2017 15:26
Photo White nationalists rallied at a statue of Thomas Jefferson on the grounds of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville on Friday. Student protesters resisting the rally stood with a banner at the foot of the statue. Credit Alejandro Alvarez/News2Share, via Reuters CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. '-- A month after a Ku Klux Klan rally here ended with the police using tear gas on protesters, Charlottesville is bracing for a weekend of white nationalist demonstrations and counterprotests, and suddenly this tranquil college town feels like a city under siege.
Thousands of people '-- many from out of town '-- are expected to descend on the city to either protest or participate in a ''Unite the Right'' rally on Saturday convened by white nationalists who oppose a plan to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee, the Confederate general, from a city park.
''People are angry, they're scared, they're hurt, they're confused,'' said the Rev. Seth Wispelwey of the local United Church of Christ. ''White supremacists rallying in our town is an act of violence.''
Late Friday night, several hundred torch-bearing men and women marched on the main quadrangle of the University of Virginia's grounds, shouting, ''You will not replace us,'' and ''Jew will not replace us.'' They walked around the Rotunda, the university's signature building, and to a statue of Thomas Jefferson, where a group of counterprotesters were gathered, and a brawl ensued. At least one person was led away in handcuffs by the police.
In a Facebook post, Charlottesville's mayor, Mike Signer, called it a ''cowardly parade of hatred, bigotry, racism, and intolerance.''
''I am beyond disgusted by this unsanctioned and despicable display of visual intimidation on a college campus,'' he added.
City officials and the police said they were prepared for possible unrest; the Virginia National Guard put out a statement saying it would ''closely monitor the situation.'' Mayor Mike Signer said in an interview on Friday that he had been consulting with fellow mayors, seeking advice on how to ''be prepared to make sure people can assemble and express themselves freely.''
Photo A statue of Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville, Va., a Southern city struggling to reconcile its past. Credit Matt Eich Religious leaders who are planning counterdemonstrations '-- including a sunrise prayer service featuring Cornel West, the Harvard professor and political activist '-- have been training in nonviolent protest.
The University of Virginia Medical Center has canceled all elective surgery '-- standard procedure in preparation for events that could lead to mass casualties. Around town, some businesses plan to close.
''This whole thing feels like the prep to a Wild West shootout where the businesses shutter and the women shoo their children upstairs,'' said Phillip Fassieux, 36, as he munched on an egg bagel at Bodo's, a few blocks from the Lee statue. ''This isn't the wild, wild West. This is modern-day Charlottesville, where we're supposed to be better suited to engage with each other.''
With the university, founded by Jefferson in 1819, as its centerpiece, Charlottesville is a politically progressive city; nearly 80 percent of voters here cast their ballots for Hillary Clinton in last year's presidential race.
But it is also a city steeped in Southern history, one that still wrestles with the legacy of slavery. According to Jalane Schmidt, a professor of religious studies at the university, 52 percent of the residents of Charlottesville and surrounding Albemarle County '-- 14,000 people in all '-- were enslaved during the Civil War. Jefferson, still revered here, was himself a slave owner.
Today, African-Americans make up 19 percent of the city's population, and gentrification is pushing many of them out, Ms. Schmidt said. The fight over the Lee statue '-- in a downtown park that was called Lee Park until it was recently renamed Emancipation Park '-- has opened up old wounds and brought simmering tensions over race to the fore.
Eugene Williams, 89, a former head of the local N.A.A.C.P., served sweet tea on the front porch of his house on Ridge Street one day this week and recalled the days when he was not allowed to dine at local restaurants. He favors keeping the Lee statue because he wants people to remember the Jim Crow era.
''This statue has a lesson to teach us,'' he said.
The debate over the statue began about a year and a half ago, when an African-American high school student here started a petition to have it removed. Wes Bellamy, the city's vice mayor and the only black member of the City Council, took up the cause, and the Council set up a commission. After public hearings, it recommended either that the statue be relocated to another park or that the city add historical context so that the monument could ''transform in place.''
Photo Members of the Ku Klux Klan were escorted out of a planned rally last month in Charlottesville. Credit Chet Strange/Getty Images Instead, City Council members voted 3 to 2 in April to sell the statue. The next month, a judge issued an injunction, keeping the statue in place for six months.
''Charlottesville kind of made itself a target by deciding they wanted to remove this statue, and by stringing the whole thing out,'' said Douglas Laycock, a University of Virginia law professor who is planning to give a talk on free speech Saturday as part of a ''day of reflective conversation'' organized by the university.
Mr. Bellamy, 30, has himself become a target; he said in an interview that he has been receiving death threats. ''When you have a black, young African-American vice mayor, in their eyes, who was getting too big for his breeches, they want to send a message,'' he said. ''They call me every kind of N-word you can think of.''
The conflict drew the attention of two white nationalists '-- Richard B. Spencer and Jason Kessler, both University of Virginia graduates. In May, Mr. Spencer, who gained national notoriety after the election of President Trump, led a gathering of torch-wielding protesters to the statue, which depicts Lee on horseback. At a Ku Klux Klan rally on July 8, the state police used pepper spray to disperse protesters, officials said.
Mr. Kessler, who organized the event on Saturday and calls himself a ''white advocate,'' said in an interview that his goal was to ''de-stigmatize white advocacy so that white people can stand up for their interests just like any other identity group.''
In the run-up to Saturday, there has been confusion over where, precisely, the Unite the Right rally will take place. City officials denied Mr. Kessler's request to hold it in Emancipation Park, and instead granted a permit for a bigger park. On Thursday, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit on behalf of Mr. Kessler, seeking to keep the demonstration at Emancipation Park.
On Friday, a judge ruled in Mr. Kessler's favor.
But if the city seems seized with anxiety, there is also a sense of determination.
''Charlottesville is mobilizing,'' said Mimi Arbeit, a community activist who is helping to organize counterdemonstrations. ''We cannot allow the rise of white supremacy. Ignoring the Klan in the 1920s is precisely what allowed them to terrorize and murder black people in Charlottesville. We cannot allow that history to be repeated.''
Hawes Spencer reported from Charlottesville, and Sheryl Gay Stolberg from Washington.
Follow Sheryl Gay Stolberg on Twitter @SherylNYT.
A version of this article appears in print on August 12, 2017, on Page A12 of the New York edition with the headline: Virginia Town Is on Edge Over Confederate Statue.
Continue reading the main story
Trains Good, Planes Bad (Whoo Hoo)
Al Qaeda eyes trains and subways as new targets | New York Post
Sat, 12 Aug 2017 13:14
Al Qaeda wants to exploit the relatively lax security procedures protecting America's railroads and attack trains and subways, a new report said Friday.
The latest issue of the terrorist group's magazine, Inspire, is headlined ''Train Derail Operations,'' and describes ways to attack trains, which have far fewer security protections than airline travel, the Washington Times reported.
The new threat would put pressure on the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI as well as state and local law enforcement agencies.
The Middle East Media Research Institute put out a report Friday saying al Qaeda had teased the Inspire articles with a trailer appearing on Telegram app channels operated by its fans, the paper reported.
''The trailer highlights that derailments are simple to design using easily available materials, that such a planned attack can be hard to detect, and that the outcome can substantially damage a country's transportation sector and the Western economy in general,'' the institute said.
The US has more than 100,000 miles of railway lines, but the trailer focuses only on a subway train.
It shows cars barreling through urban tunnels, though it's unclear which city is depicted.
It also quotes from US Government Accountability Office reports on how rail lines are vulnerable to sabotage.
In the Big Apple, for example, people can board a train at Grand Central or Penn Station or get on any subway line without any screenings of themselves or their bags except for periodic random inspections by law enforcement.
The trailer then shows how to make devices that can be clamped onto a line to cause derailments.
''Simple to design. Made from readily available materials. Hard to be detached. Cause great destruction to the Western economy and transportation sector,'' it says, the Times reported.
Inspire Media Productions: Video Trailer for Inspire Magazine #17 Anticipation "Train Derail Operations" - 11 August 2017 | Chatter Control | TRAC
Sat, 12 Aug 2017 14:54
TRAC AnalysisVideo Trailer to Announce Magazine's ReleaseOn 11 August 2017, Inspire Media Productions: Video Trailer for Inspire Magazine #17 Anticipation "Train Derail Operations". Though this is not the first video Inspire Media Productions has created, it is the first video produced to announce the new issue of Inspire Magazine.
Almost a Year Since Last Inspire Magazine ReleaseThere has not been a new issue of Inspire Magazine since November 2016. Instead, Inspire has produced little mini flyers praising certain attacks and encouraging more. Instructional full-length Inspire Magazines have been recirculating old issues on Telegram, demonstrating that supporters miss the content.
Derailing Trains Advice Not GivenThe video trailer uses a CGI mock up to demonstrate how to derail a train, but only teases the actual how-to Presumably the actual advice will be explained in the print edition. Clearly the intent of releasing the video was to garner attention and generate enthusiasm as AQ strives to make a come back in the Jihadi on-line world.
Poster & Video
F-Russia
Why Some U.S. Ex-Spies Don't Buy the Russia Story - Bloomberg
Sat, 12 Aug 2017 13:20
In 2003, when a number of former intelligence professionals formed a group to protest the way intelligence was bent to accuse Iraq of producing weapons of mass destruction, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof wrote a sympathetic column quoting the group's members. In 2017, you won't read about this same group's latest campaign in the big U.S. newspapers.
The Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) have been investigating the now conventional wisdom that last year's leaks of Democratic National Committee files were the result of Russian hacks. What they found instead is evidence to the contrary.
Unlike the "current and former intelligence officials" anonymously quoted in stories about the Trump-Russia scandal, VIPS members actually have names. But their findings and doubts are only being aired by non-mainstream publications that are easy to accuse of being channels for Russian disinformation. The Nation, Consortium News, ZeroHedge and other outlets have pointed to their findings that at least some of the DNC files were taken by an insider rather than by hackers, Russian or otherwise.
The January assessment of the U.S. intelligence community, which serves as the basis for accusations that Russia hacked the election said, among other things: "We assess with high confidence that Russian military intelligence (General Staff Main Intelligence Directorate or GRU) used the Guccifer 2.0 persona and DCLeaks.com to release U.S. victim data obtained in cyber operations publicly and in exclusives to media outlets and relayed material to WikiLeaks."
VIPS instead surmises that, after WikiLeaks' Julian Assange announced on June 12, 2016 his intention to publish Hillary Clinton-related emails, the DNC rushed to fabricate evidence that it had been hacked by Russia to defuse any potential WikiLeaks disclosures. To this end, the theory goes, the DNC used the Guccifer 2.0 online persona to release mostly harmless DNC data. Guccifer 2.0 was later loosely linked to Russia because of Russian metadata in his files and his use of a Russia-based virtual private network.
The VIPS theory relies on forensic findings by independent researchers who go by the pseudonyms "Forensicator" and "Adam Carter." The former found that 1,976 MB of Guccifer's files were copied from a DNC server on July 5 in just 87 seconds, implying a transfer rate of 22.6 megabytes per second -- or, converted to a measure most people use, about 180 megabits per second, a speed not commonly available from U.S. internet providers. Downloading such files this quickly over the internet, especially over a VPN (most hackers would use one), would have been all but impossible because the network infrastructure through which the traffic would have to pass would further slow the traffic. However, as Forensicator has pointed out, the files could have been copied to a thumb drive -- something only an insider could have done -- at about that speed.
Adam Carter, the pseudonym for the other analyst, showed that the content of the Guccifer files was at some point cut and pasted into Microsoft Word templates that used the Russian language. Carter laid out all the available evidence and his answers to numerous critics in a long post earlier this month.
VIPS includes former National Security Agency staffers with considerable technical expertise, such as William Binney, the agency's former technical director for world geopolitical and military analysis, and Edward Loomis Jr., former technical director for the office of signals processing, as well as other ex-intelligence officers with impressive credentials. That doesn't, of course, mean the group is right when it finds the expert analysis by Forensicator and Carter persuasive. Another former intelligence professional who has examined it, Scott Ritter, has pointed out that these findings don't necessarily refutes that Guccifer's material constitute the spoils of a hack.
VIPS's record of unruly activism might have devalued its theories and conclusions in the eyes of mainstream journalists. Ray McGovern, a VIPS founder who used to prepare and deliver White House briefings at the Central Intelligence Agency, has been removed from Hillary Clinton's events for protesting her policies. While the group was right about Iraq in 2003, that doesn't mean it's right about Russia in 2017, with some of its members' intelligence work now long in the past.
And yet these aren't good reasons to avoid the discussion of what actually happened at the DNC last year, especially since no intelligence agency actually examined the Democrats' servers and CrowdStrike, the firm whose conclusions informed much of the intelligence community's assessment, had obvious conflicts of interest -- from being paid by the DNC to co-founder Dmitri Alperovitch's affiliation with the Atlantic Council, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank that has generally viewed Russia as a hostile power.
One hopes that the numerous investigations into Trump-Russia are based on hard evidence, not easy assumptions. But since these investigations are not transparent at this point, the only way to make sure their attention is still focused on the technical aspects of the suspected Russian hacks and leaks is to present the available evidence, along with any arguments undermining it, to the public.
Many Americans' certainty about Russian involvement, which has led to increased hostility toward Russia, is partly Russian President Vladimir Putin's fault. Putin has earned a reputation for prevarication with the pointless denials of Russian involvement in Ukraine and with dogged attempts to falsify evidence in the shooting down of a passenger airliner over eastern Ukraine in 2014. But it's also the result of an unabashedly partisan media battle.
Having been burned so badly on the Iraq intelligence claims in 2003, you would think major U.S. media would apply more journalistic skepticism and rigor here, even if, to the broader public, Russia is a faraway power to which it's easy to ascribe pretty much any nefarious activity. Instead, these outlets seem more intent on noting Putin's bare-chested physique and accusing him of further meddling on social networks. The alt-right may not need Russia's help in using Twitter bots to run its social media campaigns, but it gets less scrutiny for them than Russia.
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The U.S. public didn't quite buy Clinton's "the Russians did it" line last year, and she lost the election. By now, though, many Americans are sold on it. That may be an Iraq-sized mistake, leading to a dangerous failure to recognize that Donald Trump's victory was an American phenomenon, not a Russian-made one. Authoritarian regimes such as Putin's routinely use external enemies to gloss over domestic divisions and distract the public from problems at home. In a functioning democracy, such tactics should not succeed.
(Corrects volume of data transferred in sixth paragraph. )
This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.
To contact the author of this story:
Leonid Bershidsky at lbershidsky@bloomberg.net
To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Therese Raphael at traphael4@bloomberg.net
NYT, AP Retract Claim That 17 US Intel Agencies Agree Russia Hacked US Elections
Thu, 10 Aug 2017 21:46
A claim that all of the U.S.' major intelligence agencies had agreed that Russia interfered in last year's election has been proven false. The claim has been the centerpiece of news coverage of ''Russiagate,'' indicating that much of what has been reported about the scandal has been flawed.
NEW YORK''For nearly a year, the news media in the United States has been completely and utterly dominated by one story above all the rest '' Russia's alleged interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, also known as ''Russiagate.'' The firestorm first began when Hillary Clinton '' darling of the U.S. intelligence community, the mainstream press, and Wall Street '' failed to win the electoral contests that the media had been convinced was her for the taking.
The story has mushroomed in the weeks since, melding with anti-Russian propaganda and accusations against President Donald Trump regarding his campaign's alleged collusion with the Russian government. However, the first accusations began to emerge when Clinton's campaign became derailed by the leaked emails of the Democratic National Committee and subsequently her campaign chair John Podesta. The Russian government was blamed for the leaks, even though substantial evidence pointed to a DNC insider as the real source of the leaks.
Once the Russian hacker narrative became established, the media began working overtime to connect Trump and his campaign to Russia '' creating the illusion of a ''bromance'' between Trump and Putin despite the fact that the two had never met. Much of the evidence for the so-called ''bromance'' centered around Trump stating during the campaign that he wanted to improve U.S.-Russia ties, which drastically deteriorated under the Obama administration, and wanted to work with the Russians to defeat Daesh (ISIS).
The bromance and the campaign collusion narrative have been continuously and intensely pushed by several high-ranking politicians of the Democratic Party. In fact, the push has been so intense that it has now backfired for Democrats.
As a result, it has since become a ''crime'' in the eyes of the mainstream media for any U.S. politician to interact or to have previously interacted with any Russian official. It has also meant that defending Russia's government or its actions could quickly turn you into the laughingstock of the mainstream press .
But some of the most prestigious news organizations in the country have been forced to retract a major claim that has stood at the center of the Russia hacking media frenzy: namely that ''all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies have agreed that Russia tried to influence the 2016 election to benefit Donald Trump.'' Last week, both the New York Times and The Associated Press were forced to retract the claim from several of their articles, as the oft-repeated statement has been proven to be false.
The New York Times was first, adding a correction to a June 25th article which stated:
''A White House Memo article on Monday about President Trump's deflections and denials about Russia referred incorrectly to the source of an intelligence assessment that said Russia orchestrated hacking attacks during last year's presidential election. The assessment was made by four intelligence agencies '-- the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Security Agency. The assessment was not approved by all 17 organizations in the American intelligence community.''
The Associated Press followed a few days later in a ''clarification'' stating:
''In stories published April 6, June 2, June 26 and June 29, The Associated Press reported that all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies have agreed that Russia tried to influence the 2016 election to benefit Donald Trump. That assessment was based on information collected by three agencies '-- the FBI, CIA and National Security Agency '-- and published by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which represents all U.S. intelligence agencies. Not all 17 intelligence agencies were involved in reaching the assessment.''
The allegation originated from a statement given by former Director of National Intelligence (DNI) James Clapper who asserted that Russia had interfered in the U.S. election based on information from ''hand-picked'' analysts working for just three U.S. intelligence agencies '' the CIA, the FBI and the NSA. The DNI nominally represents all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies, and his statement was incorrectly assumed to represent the consensus among the entire U.S. intelligence community.
There are plenty of reasons to doubt Clapper, as well as the three agencies involved in proving Russian interference. For instance, Clapper committed perjury in 2013 when he lied under oath to Congress regarding the bulk collection of civilian data by the NSA. In addition, Clapper more recently made his personal bias against Russia known when he stated during an interview on ''Meet the Press'' that Russians are ''typically, almost genetically driven to co-opt, penetrate, gain favor, whatever.'' Yet, given the Russophobic media climate in the U.S., Clapper's assertion that an entire ethnicity can't be trusted on the basis of genetics was largely ignored.
In addition, the three agencies that provided Clapper information for the claim regarding Russia's role in the 2016 election are arguably the least trustworthy in the entire U.S. intelligence community. The CIA, for instance, has interfered in numerous elections throughout the world since its founding and, more recently, created tools to disguise hacks they commit as having been carried out by ''foreign actors.'' In other words, the CIA created a tool to frame other nations for hacks they themselves committed. Aside from the CIA, the FBI is known for manufacturing the very terror plots it so frequently busts, while the NSA is well known for illegally gathering the electronic data of every American and lying about it .
While much of this information was available at the time the false claim was initially made, publications like the New York Times and The Associated Press seemed more eager to propagate the politically-motivated narrative then they were to provide objective facts in their reporting.
It is worth noting that both the Times and The Associated Press colluded with the Clinton campaign on several occasions prior to the 2016 election, suggesting their editors' eagerness to embrace Clinton's chosen excuse for her loss in the November election. In addition, the New York Times has been known to collude with U.S. intelligence agencies in the past, particularly the CIA.
However, they are now feeling the consequences of their missteps '' an ironic twist of fate for publications so intimately involved in exposing so-called ''fake news'' on the Internet and on social media.
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A New Report Raises Big Questions About Last Year's DNC Hack | The Nation
Sat, 12 Aug 2017 18:57
The Democratic National Committee headquarters, October 27, 2016. (Sipa via AP Images)
I t is now a year since the Democratic National Committee's mail system was compromised'--a year since events in the spring and early summer of 2016 were identified as remote hacks and, in short order, attributed to Russians acting in behalf of Donald Trump. A great edifice has been erected during this time. President Trump, members of his family, and numerous people around him stand accused of various corruptions and extensive collusion with Russians. Half a dozen simultaneous investigations proceed into these matters. Last week news broke that Special Counsel Robert Mueller had convened a grand jury, which issued its first subpoenas on August 3. Allegations of treason are common; prominent political figures and many media cultivate a case for impeachment.
The president's ability to conduct foreign policy, notably but not only with regard to Russia, is now crippled. Forced into a corner and having no choice, Trump just signed legislation imposing severe new sanctions on Russia and European companies working with it on pipeline projects vital to Russia's energy sector. Striking this close to the core of another nation's economy is customarily considered an act of war, we must not forget. In retaliation, Moscow has announced that the United States must cut its embassy staff by roughly two-thirds. All sides agree that relations between the United States and Russia are now as fragile as they were during some of the Cold War's worst moments. To suggest that military conflict between two nuclear powers inches ever closer can no longer be dismissed as hyperbole.
All this was set in motion when the DNC's mail server was first violated in the spring of 2016 and by subsequent assertions that Russians were behind that ''hack'' and another such operation, also described as a Russian hack, on July 5. These are the foundation stones of the edifice just outlined. The evolution of public discourse in the year since is worthy of scholarly study: Possibilities became allegations, and these became probabilities. Then the probabilities turned into certainties, and these evolved into what are now taken to be established truths. By my reckoning, it required a few days to a few weeks to advance from each of these stages to the next. This was accomplished via the indefensibly corrupt manipulations of language repeated incessantly in our leading media.
Lost in a year that often appeared to veer into our peculiarly American kind of hysteria is the absence of any credible evidence of what happened last year and who was responsible for it. It is tiresome to note, but none has been made available. Instead, we are urged to accept the word of institutions and senior officials with long records of deception. These officials profess ''high confidence'' in their ''assessment'' as to what happened in the spring and summer of last year'--this standing as their authoritative judgment. Few have noticed since these evasive terms first appeared that an assessment is an opinion, nothing more, and to express high confidence is an upside-down way of admitting the absence of certain knowledge. This is how officials avoid putting their names on the assertions we are so strongly urged to accept'--as the record shows many of them have done.
Most PopularWe come now to a moment of great gravity.
There has been a long effort to counter the official narrative we now call ''Russiagate.'' This effort has so far focused on the key events noted above, leaving numerous others still to be addressed. Until recently, researchers undertaking this work faced critical shortcomings, and these are to be explained. But they have achieved significant new momentum in the past several weeks, and what they have done now yields very consequential fruit. Forensic investigators, intelligence analysts, system designers, program architects, and computer scientists of long experience and strongly credentialed are now producing evidence disproving the official version of key events last year. Their work is intricate and continues at a kinetic pace as we speak. But its certain results so far are two, simply stated, and freighted with implications:
There was no hack of the Democratic National Committee's system on July 5 last year'--not by the Russians, not by anyone else. Hard science now demonstrates it was a leak'--a download executed locally with a memory key or a similarly portable data-storage device. In short, it was an inside job by someone with access to the DNC's system. This casts serious doubt on the initial ''hack,'' as alleged, that led to the very consequential publication of a large store of documents on WikiLeaks last summer.Forensic investigations of documents made public two weeks prior to the July 5 leak by the person or entity known as Guccifer 2.0 show that they were fraudulent: Before Guccifer posted them they were adulterated by cutting and pasting them into a blank template that had Russian as its default language. Guccifer took responsibility on June 15 for an intrusion the DNC reported on June 14 and professed to be a WikiLeaks source'--claims essential to the official narrative implicating Russia in what was soon cast as an extensive hacking operation. To put the point simply, forensic science now devastates this narrative.This article is based on an examination of the documents these forensic experts and intelligence analysts have produced, notably the key papers written over the past several weeks, as well as detailed interviews with many of those conducting investigations and now drawing conclusions from them. Before proceeding into this material, several points bear noting.
Current IssueOne, there are many other allegations implicating Russians in the 2016 political process. The work I will now report upon does not purport to prove or disprove any of them. Who delivered documents to WikiLeaks? Who was responsible for the ''phishing'' operation penetrating John Podesta's e-mail in March 2016? We do not know the answers to such questions. It is entirely possible, indeed, that the answers we deserve and must demand could turn out to be multiple: One thing happened in one case, another thing in another. The new work done on the mid-June and July 5 events bears upon all else in only one respect. We are now on notice: Given that we now stand face to face with very considerable cases of duplicity, it is imperative that all official accounts of these many events be subject to rigorously skeptical questioning. Do we even know that John Podesta's e-mail address was in fact ''phished''? What evidence of this has been produced? Such rock-bottom questions as these must now be posed in all other cases.
Two, houses built on sand and made of cards are bound to collapse, and there can be no surprise that the one resting atop the ''hack theory,'' as we can call the prevailing wisdom on the DNC events, appears to be in the process of doing so. Neither is there anything far-fetched in a reversal of the truth of this magnitude. American history is replete with similar cases. The Spanish sank the Maine in Havana harbor in February 1898. Iran's Mossadegh was a Communist. Guatemala's rbenz represented a Communist threat to the United States. Vietnam's Ho Chi Minh was a Soviet puppet. The Sandinistas were Communists. The truth of the Maine, a war and a revolution in between, took a century to find the light of day, whereupon the official story disintegrated. We can do better now. It is an odd sensation to live through one of these episodes, especially one as big as Russiagate. But its place atop a long line of precedents can no longer be disputed.
Forensic investigators, prominent among them people with decades' experience at high levels in our national-security institutions, have put a body of evidence on a table previously left empty.
Three, regardless of what one may think about the investigations and conclusions I will now outline'--and, as noted, these investigations continue'--there is a bottom line attaching to them. We can even call it a red line. Under no circumstance can it be acceptable that the relevant authorities'--the National Security Agency, the Justice Department (via the Federal Bureau of Investigation), and the Central Intelligence Agency'--leave these new findings without reply. Not credibly, in any case. Forensic investigators, prominent among them people with decades' experience at high levels in these very institutions, have put a body of evidence on a table previously left empty. Silence now, should it ensue, cannot be written down as an admission of duplicity, but it will come very close to one.
It requires no elaboration to apply the above point to the corporate media, which have been flaccidly satisfied with official explanations of the DNC matter from the start.
Q ualified experts working independently of one another began to examine the DNC case immediately after the July 2016 events. Prominent among these is a group comprising former intelligence officers, almost all of whom previously occupied senior positions. Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS), founded in 2003, now has 30 members, including a few associates with backgrounds in national-security fields other than intelligence. The chief researchers active on the DNC case are four: William Binney, formerly the NSA's technical director for world geopolitical and military analysis and designer of many agency programs now in use; Kirk Wiebe, formerly a senior analyst at the NSA's SIGINT Automation Research Center; Edward Loomis, formerly technical director in the NSA's Office of Signal Processing; and Ray McGovern, an intelligence analyst for nearly three decades and formerly chief of the CIA's Soviet Foreign Policy Branch. Most of these men have decades of experience in matters concerning Russian intelligence and the related technologies. This article reflects numerous interviews with all of them conducted in person, via Skype, or by telephone.
The customary VIPS format is an open letter, typically addressed to the president. The group has written three such letters on the DNC incident, all of which were first published by Robert Parry at www.consortiumnews.com. Here is the latest, dated July 24; it blueprints the forensic work this article explores in detail. They have all argued that the hack theory is wrong and that a locally executed leak is the far more likely explanation. In a letter to Barack Obama dated January 17, three days before he left office, the group explained that the NSA's known programs are fully capable of capturing all electronic transfers of data. ''We strongly suggest that you ask NSA for any evidence it may have indicating that the results of Russian hacking were given to WikiLeaks,'' the letter said. ''If NSA cannot produce such evidence'--and quickly'--this would probably mean it does not have any.''
The day after Parry published this letter, Obama gave his last press conference as president, at which he delivered one of the great gems among the official statements on the DNC e-mail question. ''The conclusions of the intelligence community with respect to the Russian hacking,'' the legacy-minded Obama said, ''were not conclusive.'' There is little to suggest the VIPS letter prompted this remark, but it is typical of the linguistic tap-dancing many officials connected to the case have indulged so as to avoid putting their names on the hack theory and all that derives from it.
Until recently there was a serious hindrance to the VIPS's work, and I have just suggested it. The group lacked access to positive data. It had no lump of cyber-material to place on its lab table and analyze, because no official agency had provided any.
Donald Rumsfeld famously argued with regard to the WMD question in Iraq, ''The absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.'' In essence, Binney and others at VIPS say this logic turns upside down in the DNC case: Based on the knowledge of former officials such as Binney, the group knew that (1) if there was a hack and (2) if Russia was responsible for it, the NSA would have to have evidence of both. Binney and others surmised that the agency and associated institutions were hiding the absence of evidence behind the claim that they had to maintain secrecy to protect NSA programs. ''Everything that they say must remain classified is already well-known,'' Binney said in an interview. ''They're playing the Wizard of Oz game.''
New findings indicate this is perfectly true, but until recently the VIPS experts could produce only ''negative evidence,'' as they put it: The absence of evidence supporting the hack theory demonstrates that it cannot be so. That is all VIPS had. They could allege and assert, but they could not conclude: They were stuck demanding evidence they did not have'--if only to prove there was none.
Research into the DNC case took a fateful turn in early July, when forensic investigators who had been working independently began to share findings and form loose collaborations.
R esearch into the DNC case took a fateful turn in early July, when forensic investigators who had been working independently began to share findings and form loose collaborations wherein each could build on the work of others. In this a small, new website called www.disobedientmedia.com proved an important catalyst. Two independent researchers selected it, Snowden-like, as the medium through which to disclose their findings. One of these is known as Forensicator and the other as Adam Carter. On July 9, Adam Carter sent Elizabeth Vos, a co-founder of Disobedient Media, a paper by the Forensicator that split the DNC case open like a coconut.
By this time Binney and the other technical-side people at VIPS had begun working with a man named Skip Folden. Folden was an IT executive at IBM for 33 years, serving 25 years as the IT program manager in the United States. He has also consulted for Pentagon officials, the FBI, and the Justice Department. Folden is effectively the VIPS group's liaison to Forensicator, Adam Carter, and other investigators, but neither Folden nor anyone else knows the identity of either Forensicator or Adam Carter. This bears brief explanation.
The Forensicator's July 9 document indicates he lives in the Pacific Time Zone, which puts him on the West Coast. His notes describing his investigative procedures support this. But little else is known of him. Adam Carter, in turn, is located in England, but the name is a coy pseudonym: It derives from a character in a BBC espionage series called Spooks. It is protocol in this community, Elizabeth Vos told me in a telephone conversation this week, to respect this degree of anonymity. Kirk Wiebe, the former SIGINT analyst at the NSA, thinks Forensicator could be ''someone very good with the FBI,'' but there is no certainty. Unanimously, however, all the analysts and forensics investigators interviewed for this column say Forensicator's advanced expertise, evident in the work he has done, is unassailable. They hold a similarly high opinion of Adam Carter's work.
Forensicator is working with the documents published by Guccifer 2.0, focusing for now on the July 5 intrusion into the DNC server. The contents of Guccifer's files are known'--they were published last September'--and are not Forensicator's concern. His work is with the metadata on those files. These data did not come to him via any clandestine means. Forensicator simply has access to them that others did not have. It is this access that prompts Kirk Wiebe and others to suggest that Forensicator may be someone with exceptional talent and training inside an agency such as the FBI. ''Forensicator unlocked and then analyzed what had been the locked files Guccifer supposedly took from the DNC server,'' Skip Folden explained in an interview. ''To do this he would have to have 'access privilege,' meaning a key.''
What has Forensicator proven since he turned his key? How? What has work done atop Forensicator's findings proven? How?
Forensicator's first decisive findings, made public on July 9, concerned the volume of the supposedly hacked material and what is called the transfer rate.
F orensicator's first decisive findings, made public in the paper dated July 9, concerned the volume of the supposedly hacked material and what is called the transfer rate'--the time a remote hack would require. The metadata established several facts in this regard with granular precision: On the evening of July 5, 2016, 1,976 megabytes of data were downloaded from the DNC's server. The operation took 87 seconds. This yields a transfer rate of 22.7 megabytes per second.
These statistics are matters of record and essential to disproving the hack theory. No Internet service provider, such as a hacker would have had to use in mid-2016, was capable of downloading data at this speed. Compounding this contradiction, Guccifer claimed to have run his hack from Romania, which, for numerous reasons technically called delivery overheads, would slow down the speed of a hack even further from maximum achievable speeds.
Time stamps in the metadata indicate the download occurred somewhere on the East Coast of the United States'--not Russia, Romania, or anywhere else outside the EDT zone.
What is the maximum achievable speed? Forensicator recently ran a test download of a comparable data volume (and using a server speed not available in 2016) 40 miles from his computer via a server 20 miles away and came up with a speed of 11.8 megabytes per second'--half what the DNC operation would need were it a hack. Other investigators have built on this finding. Folden and Edward Loomis say a survey published August 3, 2016, by www.speedtest.net/reports is highly reliable and use it as their thumbnail index. It indicated that the highest average ISP speeds of first-half 2016 were achieved by Xfinity and Cox Communications. These speeds averaged 15.6 megabytes per second and 14.7 megabytes per second, respectively. Peak speeds at higher rates were recorded intermittently but still did not reach the required 22.7 megabytes per second.
''A speed of 22.7 megabytes is simply unobtainable, especially if we are talking about a transoceanic data transfer,'' Folden said. ''Based on the data we now have, what we've been calling a hack is impossible.'' Last week Forensicator reported on a speed test he conducted more recently. It tightens the case considerably. ''Transfer rates of 23 MB/s (Mega Bytes per second) are not just highly unlikely, but effectively impossible to accomplish when communicating over the Internet at any significant distance,'' he wrote. ''Further, local copy speeds are measured, demonstrating that 23 MB/s is a typical transfer rate when using a USB''2 flash device (thumb drive).''
Time stamps in the metadata provide further evidence of what happened on July 5. The stamps recording the download indicate that it occurred in the Eastern Daylight Time Zone at approximately 6:45 pm . This confirms that the person entering the DNC system was working somewhere on the East Coast of the United States. In theory the operation could have been conducted from Bangor or Miami or anywhere in between'--but not Russia, Romania, or anywhere else outside the EDT zone. Combined with Forensicator's findings on the transfer rate, the time stamps constitute more evidence that the download was conducted locally, since delivery overheads'--conversion of data into packets, addressing, sequencing times, error checks, and the like'--degrade all data transfers conducted via the Internet, more or less according to the distance involved.
''It's clear,'' another forensics investigator wrote, ''that metadata was deliberately altered and documents were deliberately pasted into a Russianified [W]ord document with Russian language settings and style headings.''
In addition, there is the adulteration of the documents Guccifer 2.0 posted on June 15, when he made his first appearance. This came to light when researchers penetrated what Folden calls Guccifer's top layer of metadata and analyzed what was in the layers beneath. They found that the first five files Guccifer made public had each been run, via ordinary cut-and-paste, through a single template that effectively immersed them in what could plausibly be cast as Russian fingerprints. They were not: The Russian markings were artificially inserted prior to posting. ''It's clear,'' another forensics investigator self-identified as HET, wrote in a report on this question, ''that metadata was deliberately altered and documents were deliberately pasted into a Russianified [W]ord document with Russian language settings and style headings.''
To be noted in this connection: The list of the CIA's cyber-tools WikiLeaks began to release in March and labeled Vault 7 includes one called Marble that is capable of obfuscating the origin of documents in false-flag operations and leaving markings that point to whatever the CIA wants to point to. (The tool can also ''de-obfuscate'' what it has obfuscated.) It is not known whether this tool was deployed in the Guccifer case, but it is there for such a use.
It is not yet clear whether documents now shown to have been leaked locally on July 5 were tainted to suggest Russian hacking in the same way the June 15 Guccifer release was. This is among several outstanding questions awaiting answers, and the forensic scientists active on the DNC case are now investigating it. In a note Adam Carter sent to Folden and McGovern last week and copied to me, he reconfirmed the corruption of the June 15 documents, while indicating that his initial work on the July 5 documents'--of which much more is to be done'--had not yet turned up evidence of doctoring.
In the meantime, VIPS has assembled a chronology that imposes a persuasive logic on the complex succession of events just reviewed. It is this:
On June 12 last year, Julian Assange announced that WikiLeaks had and would publish documents pertinent to Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign.On June 14, CrowdStrike, a cyber-security firm hired by the DNC, announced, without providing evidence, that it had found malware on DNC servers and had evidence that Russians were responsible for planting it.On June 15, Guccifer 2.0 first appeared, took responsibility for the ''hack'' reported on June 14 and claimed to be a WikiLeaks source. It then posted the adulterated documents just described.On July 5, Guccifer again claimed he had remotely hacked DNC servers, and the operation was instantly described as another intrusion attributable to Russia. Virtually no media questioned this account.It does not require too much thought to read into this sequence. With his June 12 announcement, Assange effectively put the DNC on notice that it had a little time, probably not much, to act preemptively against the imminent publication of damaging documents. Did the DNC quickly conjure Guccifer from thin air to create a cyber-saboteur whose fingers point to Russia? There is no evidence of this one way or the other, but emphatically it is legitimate to pose the question in the context of the VIPS chronology. WikiLeaks began publishing on July 22. By that time, the case alleging Russian interference in the 2016 elections process was taking firm root. In short order Assange would be written down as a ''Russian agent.''
B y any balanced reckoning, the official case purporting to assign a systematic hacking effort to Russia, the events of mid-June and July 5 last year being the foundation of this case, is shabby to the point taxpayers should ask for their money back. The Intelligence Community Assessment, the supposedly definitive report featuring the ''high confidence'' dodge, was greeted as farcically flimsy when issued January 6. Ray McGovern calls it a disgrace to the intelligence profession. It is spotlessly free of evidence, front to back, pertaining to any events in which Russia is implicated. James Clapper, the former director of national intelligence, admitted in May that ''hand-picked'' analysts from three agencies (not the 17 previously reported) drafted the ICA. There is a way to understand ''hand-picked'' that is less obvious than meets the eye: The report was sequestered from rigorous agency-wide reviews. This is the way these people have spoken to us for the past year.
Behind the ICA lie other indefensible realities. The FBI has never examined the DNC's computer servers'--an omission that is beyond preposterous. It has instead relied on the reports produced by Crowdstrike, a firm that drips with conflicting interests well beyond the fact that it is in the DNC's employ. Dmitri Alperovitch, its co-founder and chief technology officer, is on the record as vigorously anti-Russian. He is a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, which suffers the same prejudice. Problems such as this are many.
''We continue to stand by our report,'' CrowdStrike said, upon seeing the VIPS blueprint of the investigation. CrowdStrike argues that by July 5 all malware had been removed from the DNC's computers. But the presence or absence of malware by that time is entirely immaterial, because the event of July 5 is proven to have been a leak and not a hack. Given that malware has nothing to do with leaks, CrowdStrike's logic appears to be circular.
In effect, the new forensic evidence considered here lands in a vacuum. We now enter a period when an official reply should be forthcoming. What the forensic people are now producing constitutes evidence, however one may view it, and it is the first scientifically derived evidence we have into any of the events in which Russia has been implicated. The investigators deserve a response, the betrayed professionals who formed VIPS as the WMD scandal unfolded in 2003 deserve it, and so do the rest of us. The cost of duplicity has rarely been so high.
I concluded each of the interviews conducted for this column by asking for a degree of confidence in the new findings. These are careful, exacting people as a matter of professional training and standards, and I got careful, exacting replies.
All those interviewed came in between 90 percent and 100 percent certain that the forensics prove out. I have already quoted Skip Folden's answer: impossible based on the data. ''The laws of physics don't lie,'' Ray McGovern volunteered at one point. ''It's QED, theorem demonstrated,'' William Binney said in response to my question. ''There's no evidence out there to get me to change my mind.'' When I asked Edward Loomis, a 90 percent man, about the 10 percent he held out, he replied, ''I've looked at the work and it shows there was no Russian hack. But I didn't do the work. That's the 10 percent. I'm a scientist.''
Editor's note: In its chronology, VIPS mistakenly gave the wrong date for CrowdStrike's announcement of its claim to have found malware on DNC servers. It said June 15, when it should have said June 14. VIPS has acknowledged the error, and we have made the correction.
Editor's note: After publication, the Democratic National Committee contacted The Nation with a response, writing, ''U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded the Russian government hacked the DNC in an attempt to interfere in the election. Any suggestion otherwise is false and is just another conspiracy theory like those pushed by Trump and his administration. It's unfortunate that The Nation has decided to join the conspiracy theorists to push this narrative.''
Guccifer 2.0: Game Over - Six Months In
Sat, 12 Aug 2017 13:23
Guccifer 2.0: Game Over - Six Months InBy Adam Carter --- August 4th, 2017IntroductionFor those who are unaware of the research I've carried out and reported on over the last six months, please check this site's homepage out before proceeding (FAQs at the bottom and the information available in the additional articles are all worth considering too).
Likewise, if you haven't heard of the Forensicator and his analysis, please check out Disobedient Media's article on his work and check out the Forensicator's blog(it's worth checking out the comments there as well as he directly answers a lot of questions from those challenging his conclusions).
Contents1. Status Update
2. Forensicator & VIPS Memo
3. Common Logical Fallacy Attacks
4. Technobabble & Debunking Delusions
5. Meta Manipulation
6. Seth/Awan/G2 Conflation
(1) Status UpdateOver the last six months we have explored Guccifer 2.0's behavior, statements and actions to establish his intent and purpose through a number of factors considered in aggregate.
We've seen that Guccifer 2.0:
Tried to take credit for being WikiLeaks' source from the day he appeared - repeating the claim in emails to press, repeating this assertion publicly on July 22nd 2016(when Wikileaks started publishing its DNC leaks) and also again in October when he destroyed his own credibility(by posting files that were supposed to be from a Clinton Foundation hack but clearly weren't) as well as on other, less significant dates.Tried to claim that DCLeaks was a sub-project of Wikileaks when there's nothing actually suggesting that (besides Guccifer 2.0's assertion).Only leaked documents that were of minimal impact. Most were old/outdated and never harmed DNC leaders or impacted negatively on Hillary Clinton's campaign; the main people harmed were those whose personal details were leaked (approx. 50,000 Democratic party donors).Appeared the day after Shawn Henry (of CrowdStrike) announced that Trump Opposition Research had been targeted (via an article published in the Washington Post on June 14th 2016) and started immediately luring the press in with a deliberately tainted version of the file mentioned the previous day.Deliberately placed "Russian fingerprints" in a sequential manner in two sweeps on multiple files that he released on June 15th 2016 (starting off with a pre-tainted template using a Russian language stylesheet and then writing Russian language metadata when opening and copying in content from original documents in separate sessions apparently only ~30 minutes after the files were created. The date/author/etc metadata could also be stripped out completely and we would still have indicators showing how the files were constructed from a pre-tainted template using just RSID data alone. There is absolutely no way the files could have ended up like this through accidental mishandling of original documents.Created the initial pre-tainted template documents using a copy of MS-Word apparently registered to Warren Flood under the GSA license (suggesting it was installed when he worked at a Federal facility - and the only record of such circumstances existing seem to be from when he was working in Vice-President Joe Biden's office during 2010-2011. This could suggest several things:Had both of his DNC breach claims discredited by ThreatConnect, making it clear he acquired his files through other means that were never actually disclosed/verified.Didn't really have demonstrable access to DCLeaks beyond the level of a contributor and even engaged in a pitiful theatrical performance with multimedia props in an effort to convince a reporter Guccifer 2.0 and BadVolf had root access to DCLeaks (when asked to demonstrate control over the domain they couldn't and started to make excuses).
Released files that were not consistent with the content or format of the data released by WikiLeaks and never exposed any revelations he should have known about (if he was really the source) ahead of WikiLeaks publishing anything, which suggests he was not the source for what WikiLeaks published.Lacked traits typical for Russians who learn English as a second languge (eg. syntactical, choice of words, etc). Didn't struggle with prepositions, (in)definite article use, tell/told/say/said and more that suggest a fluent English speaker.Used inconsistent and low-effort attempts to mask this and try to appear, stylistically, like a Russian (using a Russian smiley in 2-3 instances, the first being on the day he appeared) and referring to hacks as 'deals' in one isolated interview, along with mangling sentences in a way that does not suggest he was Russian. (The only language expert willing to be cited without being anonymous was professor M.J. Connolly from Boston College and he stated that Guccifer 2.0 lacked any traits he would expect to see from a Russian communicating in English!)May have had the means of authenticating himself as "the hacker" set up intentionally by Shawn Henry via the Washington Post article on June 14th(based on the specious claims made about the "Trump Opposition Research" being targeted, the lack of evidence cited to support this assertion and the lack of evidence regarding hackers still being on the network as late as 11th to 12th June at a time the CrowdStrike-installed Falcon program should have been defending the network).Appears to have been moving some files around on July 5th and again on September 1st using a USB stick (determined by observing the limited timestamp resolutions on files), apparently with both incidents occurring within the EDT timezone. (While timezones can, of course, be manipulated, why would Guccifer 2.0 manipulate them to show a timezone inconsistent with his claims to be a Romanian?)Actually did more to generate negative headlines about leaks and leaking than anything else and was already generating multiple negative headlines about WikiLeaks even before its DNC Leaks were released. - Examples before Wikileaks had even published, included:"DNC Hacker Dumps Trove of Clinton Documents""'Guccifer 2.0' Claims Responsibility for DNC Hack""Hillary Clinton 'dossier' released by hacker Guccifer 2.0""Contrary to DNC Claim, Hacked Data Contains a Ton of Personal Donor Information""Will Hillary Survive Barrage of Email Leaks From Russia and WikiLeaks?"Immediately upon publishing the leaks, we then saw examples such as "Russia (via Wikileaks) Releases 20,000 Hacked DNC Emails Just in Time For the Convention" (that particular example coming from Gabrielle Bluestone, writing for Gawker)Had the expertise to fool many big names in the cyber-security industry, suggesting the operation was run by those with cyber-security and counter-intelligence skills.Was accessing a publicly available VPN IP address belonging to a Russian VPN service provider (rather than one exclusive to Russians, as was originally suggested by ThreatConnect).Overall, it seems fair to suggest that this looks a lot like it was initially an operation intended to undermine WikiLeaks and pre-emptively taint its reputation (and the reputation of the upcoming leaks Assange first raised awareness of on June 12th 2016) by introducing a "Russian hacker" persona and having it forge a perceived association between itself and WikiLeaks (and, in DMs to Robbin Young, apparently with Seth Rich, posthumously, too) as a way to "poison the well" so that, even if Seth Rich was demonstrated to be the leaker, he could be discredited due to a supposed connection to a Russian hacker and doubt could be raised on the veracity of the documents he released).
From assessing Guccifer 2.0's actions, behavior, stated intent and contradictions therein, along with capabilities demonstrated, the false claims that were exposed and more, it's not too difficult to find a pool of individuals in two groups that had a motive aligning with this (or that were hired by those that had such motives around that time).
Of those, two people from a firm hired by the DNC seems likely to have had the skill-set demonstrated by the Guccifer 2.0 operation (in terms of misdirection, setting up the masquerade, cyber security experience, etc), and those two are CrowdStrike's Shawn Henry and Dmitri Alperovitch.
Even without attributing names to the subterfuge, we have enough to argue that there is considerable reasonable doubt about Guccifer 2.0's identity and we can show there are ample reasons to suspect that attributions that an embarrassing number of high-profile cyber-security firms made in relation to this are likely to be significantly flawed, especially those that express confidence in Guccifer 2.0 being a Russian and/or working for/with GRU/FSB/etc based on what we've now shown was a masquerade.
I do have a plan to test my interim attribution conclusions further (and will report on the experiment and results, regardless of what it shows, as soon as it has been completed).
(2) Forensicator & VIPS MemoThe Forensicator Emerges
On July 9th someone operating under the pseudonym "The Forensicator" went live with a blog detailing analysis they had carried out on the NGP-VAN archive and later that day Disobedient Media went live with an article by Elizabeth Lea Vos detailing the analysis, explaining what it meant and the implications of it.
The Forensicator's efforts and the detail in his work soon caught the attention of intelligence veterans and, as many of you will have seen, there have been headlines in independent media regarding VIPS members taking an interest in this lately.
VIPS Memos & Interest
For those who don't know, VIPS stands for Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, a group that includes former officers of the US Intelligence Community and that protested against the use of faulty intelligence and called out flaws in the intelligence used to justify the Iraq War (in a memo sent to the President before the invasion had started), advice that should, in retrospect, have been followed.
It has been a relief to know that Forensicator's (and subsequently a little of my own) research has been noticed by intelligence veterans.
For me personally, just having more experts examine the work and judge it on its merits is half the battle won (as I personally feel that both Forensicator and I can do a good job of defending our conclusions and finding ways to improve confidence and clarity further).
There are some important points I want to make clear regarding the VIPS memo(s), etc:
VIPS are NOT giving anyone any formal endorsement here.The VIPS memos are effectively just requests for conclusions to be verified.Not all VIPS members signed on and there is still on-going debate.Scott Ritter wrote an article explaining why he didn't sign.We intend to provide further test results and information for review.Hopefully, the above clarifies exactly what VIPS' position is, doesn't promote any nonsense perceptions, and openly shares with you a dissenting opinion from a respected intelligence community expert.
(It may be the case that a misstatement or miscommunication resulted in one of the points in the memo not being strictly true or that something may have been stated as absolute rather than indicated as most probable. Either way, we're transparent about it and don't feel the need to hide away from legitimate criticism. We will attempt to provide more information to add clarity and strengthen the basis of conclusions in response to this dissenting view.)
4Chan Concerns Regarding Forensicator
Recently I've noticed some concern being expressed about Forensicator being an effort to derail my research. I appreciate the concern but this shouldn't be a problem.
Forensicator and I are both well aware of how strawman arguments can be used and that is one of the reasons Forensicator opted for publishing via a separate blog - it was a conscious decision to make sure both our efforts would be insulated from one another, meaning instead of someone being able to discredit one to discredit all the research, they now have to discredit both on their individual merits in order to argue that Guccifer 2.0 was, beyond reasonable doubt, associated with the Kremlin or Russian intelligence agencies.
The only group that's really likely to be weakened by Forensicator's work being added under these circumstances are those that are trying to prop up the false narrative.
Really, right now, the biggest threat to my efforts comes from people trying to conflate Guccifer 2.0 with entities we have no indication of him having any connection with (eg. the Awans, Seth Rich, etc), as such conflations will be used by the MSM to try to make out that anyone investigating any of these subjects individually must inherently believe in all conspiracy theories, etc.
(3) Common Logical Fallacy AttacksOne of the various disingenuous ways in which people try to undermine our research and/or analysis is to use logical fallacies. This list is far from exhaustive but gives a quick overview of what some of these attacks look like (and how to handle them if you need to do more than just call out the tactic):
Strawman - Misrepresenting someone's argument to make it easier to attack
"They think it's impossible to get 23MB/s over the Internet so they think a USB stick must have been used!"In reality, the conclusions are simply stated as being the most probable explanation for those speeds and it's also consistent with the overall observations made (eg. many alternate theories are discredited simply because the would-be debunker fails to consider that their theory introduces unexplained anomalies (eg. timestamp resolution suggesting use of a USB at an early stage; timestamps suggesting an EDT timezone; timestamps being sequential and interleaved across some directories; the apparent timezone being inconsistent with the premise Guccifer 2.0 pushed regarding Romanian nationality, etc - making it an odd manipulation to opt for).
"Meta data can be faked so obviously everything about the fingerprints is meaningless!"In some cases, such as the effort to frame Russian hackers for the leaks, we can disregard the metadata completely and still demonstrate a methodical process just by using RSID data alone.
"Other things are possible so this is all just speculation!"Quite often we hear this when someone thinks they have a viable theory that is close to having a similar likelihood of being true as the conclusions stated. In most cases, though, the theory presented introduces anomalies or struggles to explain factors that hadn't been fully considered when they came up with the theory.
False Cause - Presuming that a real or perceived relationship between things means that one is the cause of the other
We see this being used to prop up the mainstream narrative repeatedly and have even seen it used to try to insert a leak-discovery date assumption that is likely to be false.
eg. Donald Trump Jr's meeting with a Russian lawyer happening only 6 days before Guccifer 2.0 released his first files.(Sam Biddle of The Intercept wrote a very puzzled piece trying to squeeze this event-date into a unified 'Guccifer 2.0 as Russian hacker' theory. Unfortunately, Guccifer 2.0's early email outreach to various journalists was very successful in setting up these journalists with pre-conceived notions they later find hard to shake off.)
eg. Matt Tait's references to GOP opposition researcher Peter Smith occurring days prior to the DNC Leaks first being published. (Matt seemed to want to let everyone know that Smith's deep-web contact *might* be Russian, because he suspects he might have been, despite lacking any indication of it. It's a good thing Ben Wittes' Lawfare blog gave Matt a platform to get such a bombshell assumption out to the masses!)
eg. George Webb's assertion that a data transfer to the Clinton Foundation was a sign that they were aware of the leaks.(This was an example of false cause. There's more to suggest DNC/CrowdStrike awareness came about between June 12th and June 14th 2016.)
Appeal to Emotion - Manipulating an emotional response in place of a valid or compelling argument
suspicion ("What's your agenda?")Accepting what evidence shows and sharing it is not the sign of a suspect agenda.
paranoia ("The site's probably infected")Easy to discredit:
moral outrage ("You're just doing this to distract from [This week's RussiaGate story]")Just point out that it wouldn't matter which week information was published during the past six months, it would still end up conflicting with one of the many RussiaGate-themed nothing-burger stories the MSM have fixated on relentlessly, and all predictably without leading to anything.
Slippery Slope - Asserting that if we allow A to happen, then Z will consequently happen too, therefore A should not happen
"If we investigate this, it only serves to weaken public confidence in democracy, which, obviously, would just be helping Putin!"Bandwagon - Appealing to popularity or the fact that many people do something as an attempted form of validation
"Multiple respected cyber-security agencies have concluded that it's Russia so it must be Russia."Which doesn't matter much when they were led astray by the firm the DNC hired to investigate and that almost all third-party research accepted at face value (some even apparently assuming IOCs were all related to the exfiltration of emails/files and that X-Tunnel and PAS tools were specifically indicators of Russian hacking when it doesn't seem like there was actually evidence produced to support these assumptions or justify these attributions) while the FBI's help was declined.
"Are you saying everyone in the MSM is wrong but a site nobody's heard of has got it right? That's ridiculous!"If the MSM could have easily discredited this site, they would have done so long ago, instead they've avoided it, stubbornly resisted giving new discoveries any attention, and repeatedly cited the discredited JAR report assessments, which were discredited within approx 45 days of being published (which, at the time of writing this, makes them discredited for 5+ months so far!)
Appeal to Authority - Saying that because an authority thinks something, it must therefore be true
"What makes your research better than 17 intelligence agencies?"It incorporates exculpatory evidence that discredits assessments relating to Guccifer 2.0 that were given by three intelligence agencies and that were published in the JAR report that ODNI/DHS released on December 29th 2016.
"I think I'll stick to believing our intelligence agencies while you promote GRU/FSB propaganda!"Verifiable evidence isn't propaganda. The assertions made, at least regarding the fingerprint fabrications, can be checked and verified.
Genetic - Judging something good or bad on the basis of where it comes from, or from whom it comes
"Kim Dotcom tweeted about it but he hasn't come forward with the Seth evidence yet, so this is obviously fake!""[source] is a [right-wing/bernie-bro/etc] news site, it's obviously lying about the Democratic Party""That looks like a no-name blog run by a nobody, it's not even worth looking at!""Oh, look at the URL, who recognizes that TLD? - I wouldn't bother with it!"Black-or-White - Where two alternative states are presented as the only possibilities, when in fact more possibilities exist
"You either believe our intelligence agencies or you believe Putin! PICK ONE!"Anecdotal - Using personal experience or an isolated example instead of a valid argument, especially to dismiss statistics
"I work in infosec and nobody I know would ever take this seriously!"I don't think VIPS would have given it any consideration if the research appeared to be driven by partisanship, contained specious or misleading claims, or was as difficult to take seriously as some of the anonymous self-proclaimed infosec experts on social media like to assert!
(4) Technobabble & Debunking DelusionsSelf-Proclaimed Experts That Present No Technical Challenges
Let's start with one of those self-described security experts who doesn't tackle a single claim or demonstrate technical expertise. In this instance, we have someone that insisted both u/tvor_22 and I were clueless and don't know how to interpret data, because we're not experts - like he obviously is.
Unsurprisingly, Wyn never did return to actually share his expert opinions.
Plausible-Sounding Lies That Require Technical Knowledge To Debunk
Of course, attacks aren't always this blatant and easy to spot, some are trickier to detect and use technobabble to push misconceptions and degrade an argument by appearing to debunk something (when they're actually debunking nothing).
Here is one example specifically relating to the deliberate placement of fingerprints and RSIDs, the highlighted assertions are false:
Ad-Hominems, Pretending To Be Obtuse, Debunking Delusions
@trickfreee aka "Patrick" probably deserves credit here...
His latest debunking effort consisted of asserting that one of Guccifer 2.0's first three documents could have been opened as an original and then been tainted through mishandling and so he considers, with that being an apparent possibility, it means I'm debunked.
Of course, this debunking attempt suffers from the same flaw many others do, in that it presents an alternate theory that makes things anomalous or introduces anomalies.
The RSID correlations would still mean that the first document would need to be saved, closed, re-opened, then have content copied/pasted in from a different original document, be saved as a new document, be closed, then one of the two docs made so far would need to be re-opened and another copy+paste from a third original document would be carried out, with the result being saved as a new, third file. So, it STILL is clearly not compliant with accidental mishandling and sloppiness of a supposed Russian hacker AND Flood's name being on all three documents (none of which Flood originally authored) then becomes an inexplicable anomaly.
Here's another example where Patrick @trickfreee 'debunks' me on Twitter. It's ridiculous:
http://archive.is/jpVPj
This is very similar to the following person trying to do the same thing relating to stylesheet RSIDs ("Controls Freak" is actually quoting a 3rd party who had, thankfully, checked and verified things for themselves and could call him out on this -full thread is here)
The problem here is that he pretends to debunk something (which he doesn't, he just tries to dismiss it with a seemingly plausible deception) and then asks the person to provide another example (which, if given, he would repeat the process with).
Thankfully, the person he tried this on was someone that had checked and verified what was claimed about the files and had enough knowledge to be wise to this, but many would be caught off guard by it and believe the discovery had been legitimately discredited.
(5) Meta ManipulationOf course, as we all know, timestamps and metadata can be manipulated.
However, this doesn't inherently make timestamps and metadata entirely worthless for analysis.
While it's true that many simply gauge metadata validity based on whether it is being used to attack or support their predetermined conclusions or partisan bias, Forensicator and myself have both looked for ways to assess timestamp integrity and have checked inconsistency in timezones, timestamp resolution, noted any apparent anomalies, etc., and sought to find other ways to corroborate/support our conclusions.
For the deliberate fingerprint fabrications the RSIDs helped us to make sense of what looked, at first, to be anomalous timestamps. In the first batch of RTF files there was ultimately no indication of any direct tampering of the raw data and supporting RSID data helped to corroborate them.
For the July 5th file transfers, the difference between timestamps, the fact that timestamps on some files are interleaved between multiple folders, the consistency of timestamps throughout all archives and consideration being given to what timezone Guccifer 2.0 would use if he was going to manipulate these files (considering he claimed to be Romanian) were all looked at and the conclusion, again, is that there were no signs of arbitrary modification or time manipulation (if this had been the case, it would have been counterproductive to creating a perception of Romanian origins!)
We do typically disclose all these additional details but sometimes it's necessary to check comments, FAQs, additional articles, etc on each of our respective sites.
(6) Seth/Awan/G2 ConflationIn the past six months, I have NOT seen any direct indication that Guccifer 2.0 had any connection to the Awan Brothers.
In the past six months, I have NOT seen any direct indication that Seth Rich had any connection to the Awan Brothers.
The only reference connecting Guccifer 2.0 to Seth Rich was a specious claim that Guccifer 2.0 made when trying to associate himself with Seth during a conversation he had with Robbin Young.
The date of these unsoliticited remarks, coming immediately after news reports had pushed a potential association between Seth Rich and Wikileaks, and Guccifer 2.0's linking of Julian Assange as "connected to the Russians" in the same conversation, can also be interpreted as a pre-emptive "poison the well" attempt, ready to be deployed at a later date should the association between Seth and Wikileaks gain any more traction.
I'm also unaware of any solid Seth-Awan connections. Matt Couch and the America First Media team (who are actually investigating Seth's murder thoroughly) have recently debunked a claim relating to this - a baseless claim that Seth and one of the Awans went out the night before his death.
It is now the case that both those carrying out the most thorough investigation into Seth Rich's murder and several of us investigating things in relation to Guccifer 2.0 are all saying the same thing - trying to warn people to NOT unduly conflate separate entities.
If you're convinced Guccifer 2.0, Seth Rich and the Awan family are linked despite all of this, and you're getting the information from anyone other than Webb/Goodman/Negron, please tweet or DM me with the details of the source/reasoning.
Thank You
Thank you to anyone still reading this far down the page for caring about this topic enough to have the perserverance to get this far. It's a complex topic and one that's difficult to fully get to grips with if only parts of it are known. I know it takes a fair bit of effort to read through and fully take on all the information but when you've got it all understood things do become clearer. You'll recognize that you're on the right path when all the pieces of the puzzle start clicking together and you see how and why I've come to the conclusions I have.
Thanks goes out to Forensicator, u/tvor_22, strontiumdog, "Clever Librarians" and MANY other people (too many to name here without this being a massive list of names but I'll figure something out so everyone who would like credit has a way of claiming it for acknowledgement in the near future) for all their contributions, ideas and support.
Thanks also to Disobedient Media, H.A Goodman and Tim Black, ZeroHedge, Tracy Beanz, Rick Amato, Hard Bastard, BullTruth Magazine, Sane Progressive, "Clever Librarians" (again) and many more (same thing as mentioned above regarding credit) for helping to get the word out to their followers, viewers, readers or subscribers AND for trying to take care to get that information out without mixing things up or conflating/spinning/etc.
...and yes, I will get to articles on broader topics for publishing elsewhere (which some of you know about) soon, I promise... I just had to get this update out to get some clarifications out, make sure people are armed with rebuttals to deal with the objections, smears, lies and spin that we've seen, which I anticipate will escalate going forward and will persist if people don't know how to recognize its various forms and quickly disarm it.
Guccifer 2.0: Game Over - Six Months InBy Adam Carter --- August 4th, 2017IntroductionFor those who are unaware of the research I've carried out and reported on over the last six months, please check this site's homepage out before proceeding (FAQs at the bottom and the information available in the additional articles are all worth considering too).
Likewise, if you haven't heard of the Forensicator and his analysis, please check out Disobedient Media's article on his work and check out the Forensicator's blog(it's worth checking out the comments there as well as he directly answers a lot of questions from those challenging his conclusions).
Contents1. Status Update
2. Forensicator & VIPS Memo
3. Common Logical Fallacy Attacks
4. Technobabble & Debunking Delusions
5. Meta Manipulation
6. Seth/Awan/G2 Conflation
(1) Status UpdateOver the last six months we have explored Guccifer 2.0's behavior, statements and actions to establish his intent and purpose through a number of factors considered in aggregate.
We've seen that Guccifer 2.0:
Tried to take credit for being WikiLeaks' source from the day he appeared - repeating the claim in emails to press, repeating this assertion publicly on July 22nd 2016(when Wikileaks started publishing its DNC leaks) and also again in October when he destroyed his own credibility(by posting files that were supposed to be from a Clinton Foundation hack but clearly weren't) as well as on other, less significant dates.Tried to claim that DCLeaks was a sub-project of Wikileaks when there's nothing actually suggesting that (besides Guccifer 2.0's assertion).Only leaked documents that were of minimal impact. Most were old/outdated and never harmed DNC leaders or impacted negatively on Hillary Clinton's campaign; the main people harmed were those whose personal details were leaked (approx. 50,000 Democratic party donors).Appeared the day after Shawn Henry (of CrowdStrike) announced that Trump Opposition Research had been targeted (via an article published in the Washington Post on June 14th 2016) and started immediately luring the press in with a deliberately tainted version of the file mentioned the previous day.Deliberately placed "Russian fingerprints" in a sequential manner in two sweeps on multiple files that he released on June 15th 2016 (starting off with a pre-tainted template using a Russian language stylesheet and then writing Russian language metadata when opening and copying in content from original documents in separate sessions apparently only ~30 minutes after the files were created. The date/author/etc metadata could also be stripped out completely and we would still have indicators showing how the files were constructed from a pre-tainted template using just RSID data alone. There is absolutely no way the files could have ended up like this through accidental mishandling of original documents.Created the initial pre-tainted template documents using a copy of MS-Word apparently registered to Warren Flood under the GSA license (suggesting it was installed when he worked at a Federal facility - and the only record of such circumstances existing seem to be from when he was working in Vice-President Joe Biden's office during 2010-2011. This could suggest several things:Had both of his DNC breach claims discredited by ThreatConnect, making it clear he acquired his files through other means that were never actually disclosed/verified.Didn't really have demonstrable access to DCLeaks beyond the level of a contributor and even engaged in a pitiful theatrical performance with multimedia props in an effort to convince a reporter Guccifer 2.0 and BadVolf had root access to DCLeaks (when asked to demonstrate control over the domain they couldn't and started to make excuses).
Released files that were not consistent with the content or format of the data released by WikiLeaks and never exposed any revelations he should have known about (if he was really the source) ahead of WikiLeaks publishing anything, which suggests he was not the source for what WikiLeaks published.Lacked traits typical for Russians who learn English as a second languge (eg. syntactical, choice of words, etc). Didn't struggle with prepositions, (in)definite article use, tell/told/say/said and more that suggest a fluent English speaker.Used inconsistent and low-effort attempts to mask this and try to appear, stylistically, like a Russian (using a Russian smiley in 2-3 instances, the first being on the day he appeared) and referring to hacks as 'deals' in one isolated interview, along with mangling sentences in a way that does not suggest he was Russian. (The only language expert willing to be cited without being anonymous was professor M.J. Connolly from Boston College and he stated that Guccifer 2.0 lacked any traits he would expect to see from a Russian communicating in English!)May have had the means of authenticating himself as "the hacker" set up intentionally by Shawn Henry via the Washington Post article on June 14th(based on the specious claims made about the "Trump Opposition Research" being targeted, the lack of evidence cited to support this assertion and the lack of evidence regarding hackers still being on the network as late as 11th to 12th June at a time the CrowdStrike-installed Falcon program should have been defending the network).Appears to have been moving some files around on July 5th and again on September 1st using a USB stick (determined by observing the limited timestamp resolutions on files), apparently with both incidents occurring within the EDT timezone. (While timezones can, of course, be manipulated, why would Guccifer 2.0 manipulate them to show a timezone inconsistent with his claims to be a Romanian?)Actually did more to generate negative headlines about leaks and leaking than anything else and was already generating multiple negative headlines about WikiLeaks even before its DNC Leaks were released. - Examples before Wikileaks had even published, included:"DNC Hacker Dumps Trove of Clinton Documents""'Guccifer 2.0' Claims Responsibility for DNC Hack""Hillary Clinton 'dossier' released by hacker Guccifer 2.0""Contrary to DNC Claim, Hacked Data Contains a Ton of Personal Donor Information""Will Hillary Survive Barrage of Email Leaks From Russia and WikiLeaks?"Immediately upon publishing the leaks, we then saw examples such as "Russia (via Wikileaks) Releases 20,000 Hacked DNC Emails Just in Time For the Convention" (that particular example coming from Gabrielle Bluestone, writing for Gawker)Had the expertise to fool many big names in the cyber-security industry, suggesting the operation was run by those with cyber-security and counter-intelligence skills.Was accessing a publicly available VPN IP address belonging to a Russian VPN service provider (rather than one exclusive to Russians, as was originally suggested by ThreatConnect).Overall, it seems fair to suggest that this looks a lot like it was initially an operation intended to undermine WikiLeaks and pre-emptively taint its reputation (and the reputation of the upcoming leaks Assange first raised awareness of on June 12th 2016) by introducing a "Russian hacker" persona and having it forge a perceived association between itself and WikiLeaks (and, in DMs to Robbin Young, apparently with Seth Rich, posthumously, too) as a way to "poison the well" so that, even if Seth Rich was demonstrated to be the leaker, he could be discredited due to a supposed connection to a Russian hacker and doubt could be raised on the veracity of the documents he released).
From assessing Guccifer 2.0's actions, behavior, stated intent and contradictions therein, along with capabilities demonstrated, the false claims that were exposed and more, it's not too difficult to find a pool of individuals in two groups that had a motive aligning with this (or that were hired by those that had such motives around that time).
Of those, two people from a firm hired by the DNC seems likely to have had the skill-set demonstrated by the Guccifer 2.0 operation (in terms of misdirection, setting up the masquerade, cyber security experience, etc), and those two are CrowdStrike's Shawn Henry and Dmitri Alperovitch.
Even without attributing names to the subterfuge, we have enough to argue that there is considerable reasonable doubt about Guccifer 2.0's identity and we can show there are ample reasons to suspect that attributions that an embarrassing number of high-profile cyber-security firms made in relation to this are likely to be significantly flawed, especially those that express confidence in Guccifer 2.0 being a Russian and/or working for/with GRU/FSB/etc based on what we've now shown was a masquerade.
I do have a plan to test my interim attribution conclusions further (and will report on the experiment and results, regardless of what it shows, as soon as it has been completed).
(2) Forensicator & VIPS MemoThe Forensicator Emerges
On July 9th someone operating under the pseudonym "The Forensicator" went live with a blog detailing analysis they had carried out on the NGP-VAN archive and later that day Disobedient Media went live with an article by Elizabeth Lea Vos detailing the analysis, explaining what it meant and the implications of it.
The Forensicator's efforts and the detail in his work soon caught the attention of intelligence veterans and, as many of you will have seen, there have been headlines in independent media regarding VIPS members taking an interest in this lately.
VIPS Memos & Interest
For those who don't know, VIPS stands for Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, a group that includes former officers of the US Intelligence Community and that protested against the use of faulty intelligence and called out flaws in the intelligence used to justify the Iraq War (in a memo sent to the President before the invasion had started), advice that should, in retrospect, have been followed.
It has been a relief to know that Forensicator's (and subsequently a little of my own) research has been noticed by intelligence veterans.
For me personally, just having more experts examine the work and judge it on its merits is half the battle won (as I personally feel that both Forensicator and I can do a good job of defending our conclusions and finding ways to improve confidence and clarity further).
There are some important points I want to make clear regarding the VIPS memo(s), etc:
VIPS are NOT giving anyone any formal endorsement here.The VIPS memos are effectively just requests for conclusions to be verified.Not all VIPS members signed on and there is still on-going debate.Scott Ritter wrote an article explaining why he didn't sign.We intend to provide further test results and information for review.Hopefully, the above clarifies exactly what VIPS' position is, doesn't promote any nonsense perceptions, and openly shares with you a dissenting opinion from a respected intelligence community expert.
(It may be the case that a misstatement or miscommunication resulted in one of the points in the memo not being strictly true or that something may have been stated as absolute rather than indicated as most probable. Either way, we're transparent about it and don't feel the need to hide away from legitimate criticism. We will attempt to provide more information to add clarity and strengthen the basis of conclusions in response to this dissenting view.)
4Chan Concerns Regarding Forensicator
Recently I've noticed some concern being expressed about Forensicator being an effort to derail my research. I appreciate the concern but this shouldn't be a problem.
Forensicator and I are both well aware of how strawman arguments can be used and that is one of the reasons Forensicator opted for publishing via a separate blog - it was a conscious decision to make sure both our efforts would be insulated from one another, meaning instead of someone being able to discredit one to discredit all the research, they now have to discredit both on their individual merits in order to argue that Guccifer 2.0 was, beyond reasonable doubt, associated with the Kremlin or Russian intelligence agencies.
The only group that's really likely to be weakened by Forensicator's work being added under these circumstances are those that are trying to prop up the false narrative.
Really, right now, the biggest threat to my efforts comes from people trying to conflate Guccifer 2.0 with entities we have no indication of him having any connection with (eg. the Awans, Seth Rich, etc), as such conflations will be used by the MSM to try to make out that anyone investigating any of these subjects individually must inherently believe in all conspiracy theories, etc.
(3) Common Logical Fallacy AttacksOne of the various disingenuous ways in which people try to undermine our research and/or analysis is to use logical fallacies. This list is far from exhaustive but gives a quick overview of what some of these attacks look like (and how to handle them if you need to do more than just call out the tactic):
Strawman - Misrepresenting someone's argument to make it easier to attack
"They think it's impossible to get 23MB/s over the Internet so they think a USB stick must have been used!"In reality, the conclusions are simply stated as being the most probable explanation for those speeds and it's also consistent with the overall observations made (eg. many alternate theories are discredited simply because the would-be debunker fails to consider that their theory introduces unexplained anomalies (eg. timestamp resolution suggesting use of a USB at an early stage; timestamps suggesting an EDT timezone; timestamps being sequential and interleaved across some directories; the apparent timezone being inconsistent with the premise Guccifer 2.0 pushed regarding Romanian nationality, etc - making it an odd manipulation to opt for).
"Meta data can be faked so obviously everything about the fingerprints is meaningless!"In some cases, such as the effort to frame Russian hackers for the leaks, we can disregard the metadata completely and still demonstrate a methodical process just by using RSID data alone.
"Other things are possible so this is all just speculation!"Quite often we hear this when someone thinks they have a viable theory that is close to having a similar likelihood of being true as the conclusions stated. In most cases, though, the theory presented introduces anomalies or struggles to explain factors that hadn't been fully considered when they came up with the theory.
False Cause - Presuming that a real or perceived relationship between things means that one is the cause of the other
We see this being used to prop up the mainstream narrative repeatedly and have even seen it used to try to insert a leak-discovery date assumption that is likely to be false.
eg. Donald Trump Jr's meeting with a Russian lawyer happening only 6 days before Guccifer 2.0 released his first files.(Sam Biddle of The Intercept wrote a very puzzled piece trying to squeeze this event-date into a unified 'Guccifer 2.0 as Russian hacker' theory. Unfortunately, Guccifer 2.0's early email outreach to various journalists was very successful in setting up these journalists with pre-conceived notions they later find hard to shake off.)
eg. Matt Tait's references to GOP opposition researcher Peter Smith occurring days prior to the DNC Leaks first being published. (Matt seemed to want to let everyone know that Smith's deep-web contact *might* be Russian, because he suspects he might have been, despite lacking any indication of it. It's a good thing Ben Wittes' Lawfare blog gave Matt a platform to get such a bombshell assumption out to the masses!)
eg. George Webb's assertion that a data transfer to the Clinton Foundation was a sign that they were aware of the leaks.(This was an example of false cause. There's more to suggest DNC/CrowdStrike awareness came about between June 12th and June 14th 2016.)
Appeal to Emotion - Manipulating an emotional response in place of a valid or compelling argument
suspicion ("What's your agenda?")Accepting what evidence shows and sharing it is not the sign of a suspect agenda.
paranoia ("The site's probably infected")Easy to discredit:
moral outrage ("You're just doing this to distract from [This week's RussiaGate story]")Just point out that it wouldn't matter which week information was published during the past six months, it would still end up conflicting with one of the many RussiaGate-themed nothing-burger stories the MSM have fixated on relentlessly, and all predictably without leading to anything.
Slippery Slope - Asserting that if we allow A to happen, then Z will consequently happen too, therefore A should not happen
"If we investigate this, it only serves to weaken public confidence in democracy, which, obviously, would just be helping Putin!"Bandwagon - Appealing to popularity or the fact that many people do something as an attempted form of validation
"Multiple respected cyber-security agencies have concluded that it's Russia so it must be Russia."Which doesn't matter much when they were led astray by the firm the DNC hired to investigate and that almost all third-party research accepted at face value (some even apparently assuming IOCs were all related to the exfiltration of emails/files and that X-Tunnel and PAS tools were specifically indicators of Russian hacking when it doesn't seem like there was actually evidence produced to support these assumptions or justify these attributions) while the FBI's help was declined.
"Are you saying everyone in the MSM is wrong but a site nobody's heard of has got it right? That's ridiculous!"If the MSM could have easily discredited this site, they would have done so long ago, instead they've avoided it, stubbornly resisted giving new discoveries any attention, and repeatedly cited the discredited JAR report assessments, which were discredited within approx 45 days of being published (which, at the time of writing this, makes them discredited for 5+ months so far!)
Appeal to Authority - Saying that because an authority thinks something, it must therefore be true
"What makes your research better than 17 intelligence agencies?"It incorporates exculpatory evidence that discredits assessments relating to Guccifer 2.0 that were given by three intelligence agencies and that were published in the JAR report that ODNI/DHS released on December 29th 2016.
"I think I'll stick to believing our intelligence agencies while you promote GRU/FSB propaganda!"Verifiable evidence isn't propaganda. The assertions made, at least regarding the fingerprint fabrications, can be checked and verified.
Genetic - Judging something good or bad on the basis of where it comes from, or from whom it comes
"Kim Dotcom tweeted about it but he hasn't come forward with the Seth evidence yet, so this is obviously fake!""[source] is a [right-wing/bernie-bro/etc] news site, it's obviously lying about the Democratic Party""That looks like a no-name blog run by a nobody, it's not even worth looking at!""Oh, look at the URL, who recognizes that TLD? - I wouldn't bother with it!"Black-or-White - Where two alternative states are presented as the only possibilities, when in fact more possibilities exist
"You either believe our intelligence agencies or you believe Putin! PICK ONE!"Anecdotal - Using personal experience or an isolated example instead of a valid argument, especially to dismiss statistics
"I work in infosec and nobody I know would ever take this seriously!"I don't think VIPS would have given it any consideration if the research appeared to be driven by partisanship, contained specious or misleading claims, or was as difficult to take seriously as some of the anonymous self-proclaimed infosec experts on social media like to assert!
(4) Technobabble & Debunking DelusionsSelf-Proclaimed Experts That Present No Technical Challenges
Let's start with one of those self-described security experts who doesn't tackle a single claim or demonstrate technical expertise. In this instance, we have someone that insisted both u/tvor_22 and I were clueless and don't know how to interpret data, because we're not experts - like he obviously is.
Unsurprisingly, Wyn never did return to actually share his expert opinions.
Plausible-Sounding Lies That Require Technical Knowledge To Debunk
Of course, attacks aren't always this blatant and easy to spot, some are trickier to detect and use technobabble to push misconceptions and degrade an argument by appearing to debunk something (when they're actually debunking nothing).
Here is one example specifically relating to the deliberate placement of fingerprints and RSIDs, the highlighted assertions are false:
Ad-Hominems, Pretending To Be Obtuse, Debunking Delusions
@trickfreee aka "Patrick" probably deserves credit here...
His latest debunking effort consisted of asserting that one of Guccifer 2.0's first three documents could have been opened as an original and then been tainted through mishandling and so he considers, with that being an apparent possibility, it means I'm debunked.
Of course, this debunking attempt suffers from the same flaw many others do, in that it presents an alternate theory that makes things anomalous or introduces anomalies.
The RSID correlations would still mean that the first document would need to be saved, closed, re-opened, then have content copied/pasted in from a different original document, be saved as a new document, be closed, then one of the two docs made so far would need to be re-opened and another copy+paste from a third original document would be carried out, with the result being saved as a new, third file. So, it STILL is clearly not compliant with accidental mishandling and sloppiness of a supposed Russian hacker AND Flood's name being on all three documents (none of which Flood originally authored) then becomes an inexplicable anomaly.
Here's another example where Patrick @trickfreee 'debunks' me on Twitter. It's ridiculous:
http://archive.is/jpVPj
This is very similar to the following person trying to do the same thing relating to stylesheet RSIDs ("Controls Freak" is actually quoting a 3rd party who had, thankfully, checked and verified things for themselves and could call him out on this -full thread is here)
The problem here is that he pretends to debunk something (which he doesn't, he just tries to dismiss it with a seemingly plausible deception) and then asks the person to provide another example (which, if given, he would repeat the process with).
Thankfully, the person he tried this on was someone that had checked and verified what was claimed about the files and had enough knowledge to be wise to this, but many would be caught off guard by it and believe the discovery had been legitimately discredited.
(5) Meta ManipulationOf course, as we all know, timestamps and metadata can be manipulated.
However, this doesn't inherently make timestamps and metadata entirely worthless for analysis.
While it's true that many simply gauge metadata validity based on whether it is being used to attack or support their predetermined conclusions or partisan bias, Forensicator and myself have both looked for ways to assess timestamp integrity and have checked inconsistency in timezones, timestamp resolution, noted any apparent anomalies, etc., and sought to find other ways to corroborate/support our conclusions.
For the deliberate fingerprint fabrications the RSIDs helped us to make sense of what looked, at first, to be anomalous timestamps. In the first batch of RTF files there was ultimately no indication of any direct tampering of the raw data and supporting RSID data helped to corroborate them.
For the July 5th file transfers, the difference between timestamps, the fact that timestamps on some files are interleaved between multiple folders, the consistency of timestamps throughout all archives and consideration being given to what timezone Guccifer 2.0 would use if he was going to manipulate these files (considering he claimed to be Romanian) were all looked at and the conclusion, again, is that there were no signs of arbitrary modification or time manipulation (if this had been the case, it would have been counterproductive to creating a perception of Romanian origins!)
We do typically disclose all these additional details but sometimes it's necessary to check comments, FAQs, additional articles, etc on each of our respective sites.
(6) Seth/Awan/G2 ConflationIn the past six months, I have NOT seen any direct indication that Guccifer 2.0 had any connection to the Awan Brothers.
In the past six months, I have NOT seen any direct indication that Seth Rich had any connection to the Awan Brothers.
The only reference connecting Guccifer 2.0 to Seth Rich was a specious claim that Guccifer 2.0 made when trying to associate himself with Seth during a conversation he had with Robbin Young.
The date of these unsoliticited remarks, coming immediately after news reports had pushed a potential association between Seth Rich and Wikileaks, and Guccifer 2.0's linking of Julian Assange as "connected to the Russians" in the same conversation, can also be interpreted as a pre-emptive "poison the well" attempt, ready to be deployed at a later date should the association between Seth and Wikileaks gain any more traction.
I'm also unaware of any solid Seth-Awan connections. Matt Couch and the America First Media team (who are actually investigating Seth's murder thoroughly) have recently debunked a claim relating to this - a baseless claim that Seth and one of the Awans went out the night before his death.
It is now the case that both those carrying out the most thorough investigation into Seth Rich's murder and several of us investigating things in relation to Guccifer 2.0 are all saying the same thing - trying to warn people to NOT unduly conflate separate entities.
If you're convinced Guccifer 2.0, Seth Rich and the Awan family are linked despite all of this, and you're getting the information from anyone other than Webb/Goodman/Negron, please tweet or DM me with the details of the source/reasoning.
Thank You
Thank you to anyone still reading this far down the page for caring about this topic enough to have the perserverance to get this far. It's a complex topic and one that's difficult to fully get to grips with if only parts of it are known. I know it takes a fair bit of effort to read through and fully take on all the information but when you've got it all understood things do become clearer. You'll recognize that you're on the right path when all the pieces of the puzzle start clicking together and you see how and why I've come to the conclusions I have.
Thanks goes out to Forensicator, u/tvor_22, strontiumdog, "Clever Librarians" and MANY other people (too many to name here without this being a massive list of names but I'll figure something out so everyone who would like credit has a way of claiming it for acknowledgement in the near future) for all their contributions, ideas and support.
Thanks also to Disobedient Media, H.A Goodman and Tim Black, ZeroHedge, Tracy Beanz, Rick Amato, Hard Bastard, BullTruth Magazine, Sane Progressive, "Clever Librarians" (again) and many more (same thing as mentioned above regarding credit) for helping to get the word out to their followers, viewers, readers or subscribers AND for trying to take care to get that information out without mixing things up or conflating/spinning/etc.
...and yes, I will get to articles on broader topics for publishing elsewhere (which some of you know about) soon, I promise... I just had to get this update out to get some clarifications out, make sure people are armed with rebuttals to deal with the objections, smears, lies and spin that we've seen, which I anticipate will escalate going forward and will persist if people don't know how to recognize its various forms and quickly disarm it.
Russia To Investigate Apollo Moon Landings - Your News Wire
Sun, 13 Aug 2017 12:38
President John F. Kennedy's dream to put an American on the Moon before the Russians may have been compromised by the people who assassinated him six years earlier.
On July 20, 1969, Apollo 11 mission commander Neil Armstrong and pilot Edwin ''Buzz'' Aldrin landed the Lunar Module Eagle on the moon as the world was transfixed to their TV sets watching the event.
As a result America became superior in all aspects military and scientific, beating the likes of Russia who were endeavoring to find their own path to the moon.
In 1972 the Apollo Project came to an end just when the world was expecting otherwise.
It appears the facade of keeping up appearances was too much for the U.S. to bear, because the moon landings were faked and shot in studios.
Why has no one else been to the moon ever since remains a mystery.
But the biggest mysteries surrounding the U.S. moon landings are:
How did the astronauts survive the Van Allen radiation belt on their way to the moon and back?Why do astronauts who have been to the moon have long faces when giving interviews, if any?Why stop going to the moon after claiming victory in the space race?Why didn't the Russians follow the Americans to the moon?Why is it hard to believe Buzz, even though he looks as honest as apple pie?Where have all the films shot by astronauts on the Moon disappeared to?Where is 400 kg of lunar soil hidden?Where is the rest of the universe when watching pictures from the moon?Is there another sun or two that scientists are not aware off that light up the lunar surface?What lies on the dark side of the moon (in case of double bluff)?There are many conspiracy theories surrounding the Apollo moon landings that have been documented online.
Astronaut Admits Kubrick Filmed Apollo 11 Footage In Hollywood
Now the Russians are launching a probe into U.S. moon landings between 1969 and 1972.
It follows FBI's large-scale corruption probe targeting nine FIFA officials that has sparked a debate about Russia's role as 2018 World Cup host, upsetting some truth seekers.
Vladimir Markin, a spokesman for Russia's Investigative Committee, has called for an international investigation into the validity of U.S. missions to the moon, to provide 'new insights' into man's greatest achievement.
The Moscow Times reports:
Vladimir Markin penned a column for the Izvestia newspaper arguing that U.S. authorities had crossed a line by launching a large-scale corruption probe targeting nine FIFA officials. The scandal surrounding the case prompted the June 2 resignation of longtime FIFA president Sepp Blatter, and sparked a heated debate about Russia's role as host of the 2018 World Cup.
Venting his frustration with what he viewed as ''U.S. prosecutors having declared themselves the supreme arbiters of international football affairs,'' Markin proposed that international investigators could likewise examine some of the murkier elements of America's past.
An international investigation could help solve the mystery of the disappearance of film footage from the original moon landing in 1969, or explain where the nearly 400 kilograms of lunar rock reportedly obtained during several such missions between 1969 and 1972 have been spirited away to, Markin suggested.
''We are not contending that they did not fly [to the moon], and simply made a film about it. But all of these scientific '-- or perhaps cultural '-- artifacts are part of the legacy of humanity, and their disappearance without a trace is our common loss. An investigation will reveal what happened,'' Markin wrote.
U.S. space agency NASA admitted in 2009 that the original recordings of the first moon landing had been erased, but said they had managed to remaster the original television broadcast of the landing, Reuters reported at the time.
Of the approximately 380 kilograms of moon rock said to have been obtained during manned U.S. moon landings, the bulk is stored in the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center in Texas, though samples can be seen on display in various museums around the world.
Stanley Kubrick Confesses To Faking The Moon Landings
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DPRK
US has been conducting back-channel talks with North Korea for months - ABC News
Fri, 11 Aug 2017 22:25
Despite the bombastic rhetoric exchanged between North Korean and American leaders this week, the Trump administration has been quietly engaged in back-channel diplomacy with North Korea for several months, according to a source familiar with the negotiations.
The ongoing talks, which were first reported by The Associated Press, included discussions about U.S.-North Korean relations and Americans imprisoned in North Korea, the source said.
The case of American student Otto Warmbier, who died following his release from North Korea, was included in those talks.
The U.S. State Department did not comment on the AP report.
Despite White House condemnations after Warmbier's death, those contacts have continued and include discussions about the remaining Americans held there, the source said.
According to the source, the talks are being held between Ambassador Joseph Yun, the U.S. special representative for North Korea policy, and Pak Song Il, a senior North Korean diplomat at the country's U.N. mission, using what's known as the ''New York channel,'' which has been an avenue of communication between the U.S. and North Korea throughout the years.
The talks ramped up after President Donald Trump's inauguration, according to the source familiar with the negotiations, with the U.S. side aiming to secure the release of Warmbier and the other Americans held in North Korea.
A number of Trump administration officials, including the president himself, have publicly commented on the recent threats made by North Korea, including a proposed strike on the waters off Guam, a U.S. territory in the western Pacific.
Trump and Secretary of Defense James Mattis have both used strong language pertaining to North Korea's threats. But Mattis said Thursday that the American effort was "diplomatically led."
"What I would say here ladies and gentleman, my portfolio, my mission, my responsibility is to have military options should they be needed," he said.
"However, right now Secretary [of State Rex] Tillerson and [United Nations] Ambassador [Nikki] Haley, you can see the American effort is diplomatically led, it has diplomatic traction it is gaining diplomatic results, and I want to stay right here, right now. The tragedy of war is well known. It would be catastrophic."
Earlier this week, Trump said that North Korea would be met with "fire and fury" if it made further threats against the U.S., and then on Thursday, he suggested that those words may not have been "tough enough" after the threats from North Korea continued.
China Says Countdown For War With India Has Begun
Sat, 12 Aug 2017 14:34
The relationship between India and China seemed to worsen Wednesday when the Chinese Foreign Ministry said that 53 people and an Indian bulldozer was in China's territory and advised India to pull them back. This followed a warning Tuesday when an editorial in the state-run China Daily said that the "countdown to a clash between the two forces has begun."
"India should withdraw its troops and equipment. Regardless of how many Indian troops have trespassed into and stayed in Chinese territory, they have gravely infringed on China's sovereignty," the ministry said, the Global Times reported.
The China Daily editorial said the clock was ticking and that it seemed like a clash would be ''an inevitable conclusion'' between the two prominent Asian countries if India did pull back its troops from the disputed Doklam region.
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The article referred to a border standoff between the two countries that has continued for over two months. The controversy began when India opposed China's plan to extend a border road through a disputed plateau which Bhutan says is its Doklam region and China claims as part of its Donglang region.
India and Bhutan have historically maintained strong relations. The Indian Army is involved in training the Royal Bhutan Army, while Bhutan cooperates closely with India in determining its foreign policy. India has expressed concern that the road, if completed, would make it easier for China to access India's northeastern states. In the event of a conflict, India fears this would help China cut off its northeast from the rest of the country, the BBC reported.
The editorial on Tuesday said that while Beijing had tried time and again to avoid conflict and warned India on several occasions, India has refrained from pulling back its troops. "Anyone with eyes to see and ears to hear will have got the message. Yet New Delhi refuses to come to its senses and pull its troops back to its own side of the border," it stated.
According to the newspaper, a spokesman for China's Ministry of Defense warned India not to underestimate the Chinese army and that there was a ''bottom line'' to the restraint that China had shown. It added that ''India's audacity'' to challenge China might have come from the fact that India was suffering from a sense of insecurity and inferiority faced with China's increasing prominence in the region.
While China has warned India about consequences of not pulling back its army, India does not look like it is backing down. Speaking in India's parliament on Wednesday, Defense Minister Arun Jaitley said the country was ready to meet any challenge. Referring to the war that took place in 1962 between the two countries, which India lost, Jaitley said the country had learned many lessons from it.
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"Some people are targeting our country's sovereignty and integrity. But I am fully confident that our brave soldiers have capability to keep our country secure, may it be challenges on the eastern border or the western border," he said, according to reports.
China and India share a border that extends 2,174 miles. Following the war in 1962, disputes in areas like Aksai Chin, Depsang Plains and some areas in the northeast Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, have remained unresolved.
Tibet's spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, who resides in India, has also been a sticking point between the two countries. Speaking on the issue the Dalai Lama on Wednesday emphasized that talks are the only solution. "I do not think it is very serious. India and China have to live side by side." He said, according to reports
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North Korea factories humming with 'Made in China' clothes, traders say
Sun, 13 Aug 2017 12:29
DANDONG, China (Reuters) - Chinese textile firms are increasingly using North Korean factories to take advantage of cheaper labor across the border, traders and businesses in the border city of Dandong told Reuters.
The clothes made in North Korea are labeled "Made in China" and exported across the world, they said.
Using North Korea to produce cheap clothes for sale around the globe shows that for every door that is closed by ever-tightening U.N. sanctions another one may open. The UN sanctions, introduced to punish North Korea for its missile and nuclear programs, do not include any bans on textile exports.
"We take orders from all over the world," said one Korean-Chinese businessman in Dandong, the Chinese border city where the majority of North Korea trade passes through. Like many people Reuters interviewed for this story, he spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.
Dozens of clothing agents operate in Dandong, acting as go-betweens for Chinese clothing suppliers and buyers from the United States, Europe, Japan, South Korea, Canada and Russia, the businessman said.
"We will ask the Chinese suppliers who work with us if they plan on being open with their client -- sometimes the final buyer won't realize their clothes are being made in North Korea. It's extremely sensitive," he said.
Textiles were North Korea's second-biggest export after coal and other minerals in 2016, totaling $752 million, according to data from the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA). Total exports from North Korea in 2016 rose 4.6 percent to $2.82 billion.
The latest U.N. sanctions, agreed earlier this month, have completely banned coal exports now.
Its flourishing textiles industry shows how impoverished North Korea has adapted, with a limited embrace of market reforms, to sanctions since 2006 when it first tested a nuclear device. The industry also shows the extent to which North Korea relies on China as an economic lifeline, even as U.S. President Donald Trump piles pressure on Beijing to do more to rein in its neighbor's weapons programmes.
Chinese exports to North Korea rose almost 30 percent to $1.67 billion in the first half of the year, largely driven by textile materials and other traditional labour-intensive goods not included on the United Nations embargo list, Chinese customs spokesman Huang Songping told reporters.
Chinese suppliers send fabrics and other raw materials required for manufacturing clothing to North Korean factories across the border where garments are assembled and exported.
Factories HummingAustralian sportswear brand Rip Curl publicly apologized last year when it was discovered that some of its ski gear, labeled "Made in China", had been made in one of North Korea's garment factories. Rip Curl blamed a rogue supplier for outsourcing to "an unauthorized subcontractor".
But traders and agents in Dandong say it's a widespread practice.
Manufacturers can save up to 75 percent by making their clothes in North Korea, said a Chinese trader who has lived in Pyongyang.
Some of the North Korean factories are located in Siniuju city just across the border from Dandong. Other factories are located outside Pyongyang. Finished clothing is often directly shipped from North Korea to Chinese ports before being sent onto the rest of the world, the Chinese traders and businesses said.
North Korea has about 15 large garment exporting enterprises, each operating several factories spread around the country, and dozens of medium sized companies, according to GPI Consultancy of the Netherlands, which helps foreign companies do business in North Korea.
File photo: North Korean workers make soccer shoes inside a temporary factory at a rural village on the edge of Dandong October 24, 2012. Aly Song All factories in North Korea are state-owned. And the textile ones appear to be humming, traders and agents say.
"We've been trying to get some of our clothes made in North Korea but the factories are fully booked at the moment," said a Korean-Chinese businesswoman at a factory in Dalian, a Chinese port city two hours away from Dandong by train.
"North Korean workers can produce 30 percent more clothes each day than a Chinese worker," said the Korean-Chinese businessman.
"In North Korea, factory workers can't just go to the toilet whenever they feel like, otherwise they think it slows down the whole assembly line."
"They aren't like Chinese factory workers who just work for the money. North Koreans have a different attitude -- they believe they are working for their country, for their leader."
And they are paid wages significantly below many other Asian countries. North Korean workers at the now shuttered Kaesong industrial zone just across the border from South Korea received wages ranging from a minimum of around $75 a month to an average of around $160, compared to average factory wages of $450-$750 a month in China. Kaesong was run jointly with South Korea and the wage structure - much higher than in the rest of North Korea - was negotiated with Seoul.
FILE PHOTO - A North Korean waitress cleans the floor of a North Korean restaurant in Dandong, Liaoning province, China, September 12, 2016. Thomas Peter/File Photo Workers in ChinaChinese clothing manufacturers have been increasingly using North Korean textile factories even as they relocate their own factories offshore, including to Bangladesh, Vietnam and Cambodia.
"Wages are too high in China now. It's no wonder so many orders are being sent to North Korea," said a Korean-Chinese businesswoman who works in the textiles industry in Dandong.
Chinese textile companies are also employing thousands of cheaper North Korean workers in China.
North Korea relies on overseas workers to earn hard currency, especially since U.N. sanctions have choked off some other sources of export earnings. Much of their wages are remitted back to the state and help fund Pyongyang's ambitious nuclear and missile programmes, the U.N. says.
The new U.N. sanctions imposed on North Korea this month ban countries from increasing the current numbers of North Korean laborers working abroad.
China does not disclose official figures for the number of North Koreans working in factories and restaurants in China, although numbers are down from a peak period two to three years ago, according to Cheng Xiaohe, a North Korea specialist at Beijing's Renmin University.
"It's a hassle to hire North Korean workers though," the Korean-Chinese businesswoman from Dalian said. "You need to have the right set-up. Their living space has to be completely closed off, you have to provide a classroom where they can take classes every day. They bring their own doctor, nurse, cook and teachers who teach them North Korean ideology every day."
One clothing factory that Reuters visited in Dandong employs 40 North Korean workers. They fill smaller orders for clients who are more stringent about their supply chains and expressly request no production inside North Korea.
North Korean factory workers in China earn about 2,000 yuan ($300.25), about half of the average for Chinese workers, the factory owner said.
They are allowed to keep around a third of their wages, with the rest going to their North Korean government handlers, he said. A typical shift at the factory runs from 7:30 a.m. to around 10 p.m.
The workers - all women dressed in pink and black uniforms - sat close together behind four rows of sewing machines, working on a consignment of dark-colored winter jackets. The Chinese characters for "clean" and "tidy" were emblazoned in bold blue lettering above their heads and the main factory floor was silent but for the tapping and whirring of sewing machines.
Reporting by Sue-Lin Wong and Philip Wen; Additional reporting by Lusha Zhang and the Beijing newsroom; Editing by Bill Tarrant
SSRI's
Doctor Erin reports in:
I have a master's degree in clinical psychology and I am a practicing counselor. My practicum was on the "behavioral health" (the newer term for mental health) wing of a major hospital.
I have worked with clients on a variety of SSRI and SNRI drugs. These are the two most common antidepressant classes. They are also prescribed for anxiety disorders such as generalized anxiety, phobia and panic disorders, eating disorders, and obsessive compulsive disorder. SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) and SNRI (serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor) drugs act slightly differently on the brain. Prozac and the older generation are SSRIs, while Wellbutrin, effexor, and celexa are SNRIs: the newer generation of drugs.
The SNRI drugs can add aggression as a side effect, and this is particularly a problem for teenagers.
These drugs can mess you up and are very difficult to quit, as you mentioned. If you're severely depressed, you'll try pretty much any prescription you're given, and a few snake oils as well.
All of these drugs affect the sex drive and ability to reach orgasm. This is probably the most common complaint I've heard. Birth control pills do the same for a lot of women, so many women are used to it.
These drugs also negatively affect creative ability. This is the second most common complaint I hear. Writers, artists, musicians, etc., find that they no longer have the impetus nor the facility to create like they once did. They often cite the change in behavior by saying that they can't work anymore.
My personal favorite hustle by these drug companies is the add-on drugs for depression like Abilify. These drugs are supposed to help with the 40% of patients who don't receive relief from a single antidepressant. The add-on drugs are, if anything, worse. Patients of mine have complained of serious memory issues with these. They intensify the side effects of the original antidepressant drug, too.
One of the most problematic part of the antidepressant class of drugs is that, for people who are suicidal, they can intensify the risk for suicide. This doesn't happen often, but for some people who have been depressed, the only thing keeping them alive is that they don't have the motivation to complete suicide. Once they have started on antidepressants, they experience a bump in energy and motivation, and they may decide to complete suicide.
Thanks,
Erin
SJW BLM LGBBTQQIAAP
Google Firing Shows How Outrage Addiction Is Making Us Stupid
Sat, 12 Aug 2017 05:35
When James Damore wrote his ten-page memo criticizing Google's ''ideological echo chamber,'' he didn't argue that every woman's uterus makes her incapable of chairing board of directors meetings or writing code. He argued that, in general, women prefer to avoid high-stress jobs and solitary positions. In other words, he argued that the reason Google doesn't have an even male-female split in leadership and tech jobs is because, by and large, women don't want those jobs.
After Gizmodo leaked Damore's memo, numerous voices in the media began twisting his words. ''He said women may be genetically unsuited for tech jobs,'' barked the Washington Post. ''That guy didn't want any women near a computer,'' proclaimed CNN. When Google CEO Sundar Pichai finally addressed the controversy, he stated, ''to suggest a group of our colleagues have traits that make them less biologically suited to that work is offensive and not okay.'' Quite simply, Google fired Damore not for what he said, but for what the media claimed he said.
The distinction between ''all women are incapable of holding these jobs'' and ''most women aren't interested in these jobs'' is not a difficult one to grasp. Why, then, were the media and Google so quick to dice Damore into Soylent Green and can him? The answer is quite simple. We are now a bunch of outrage addicts so desperate for our daily anger fix that we've turned ourselves imbecilic trying to get it.
Internet Outrage Is an AddictionJust like gambling or sex, outrage can become a process addiction'--a form of behavior that our bodies come to rely on to feel good. The mechanics of anger addiction are simple. When we erupt in anger, our brains get a hit of dopamine, which yields a sense of euphoria. Just as drug users will quickly become dependent on their substance of choice to get that euphoria, those who overindulge in outrage will often end up relying on that behavior to release the desired dopamine.
It's easy to see how this addiction plays out online, Twitter perhaps being the best example. Man A wakes up in the morning, immediately reaches for his smartphone and finds, via those he follows for this sort of stuff, an article about Today's Sinner, the one who must be shamed and ridiculed for being a woman hater or minority hater or cop hater or animal hater. Man A then begins spewing insults and vitriol at this person, then repeats the cycle the next day.
In other words, Man A wakes up in the morning, feeling miserable and wanting a dopamine release. So he goes to his dealer, who offers him something to be angry about'--the newer and better fix-du-jour. Man A then explodes in anger at someone he very well may never have heard of before and will likely forget all about in a few days. He enjoys the dopamine hit for a moment, then finds a new target and repeats the cycle as soon as the high wears off.
Furthermore, like those who are hooked on other substances or processes, outrage addicts often serve their addiction above all else. In their sober moments, they may pursue knowledge and truth. But amidst the throes of addiction, the only thing they seek is anger. They don't want to be informed. They want to be mad.
This is why, probably more often than not, those vomiting venom at someone on social media haven't even read the article they're sharing. Why risk discovering some detail in the source material that might change your mind or take your ''I Can't Even'' meter from an eleven to a three? To extract as much outrage from the hide of Today's Sinner, the outrage addict embraces brain rot and remains in deliberate ignorance.
You Never Said That? We Don't CareLikewise, when outrage addicts do manage to read the article, their desire to get stoned on anger often renders them either unwilling or unable to understand very important but very simple distinctions. For example, back in June, Inez Feltscher wrote an article for The Federalist suggesting that, because men are more visual creatures than women, staying fit is a nice gift a woman can give her husband. Many responded to her like this:
''Women should try to make their husbands happy'' and ''women should be their husbands' sex slaves'' are not identical statements, and any person of reasonable intelligence should be able to tell the difference between them. But anger addicts don't want to be fair. They want to be furious, and they will gladly slaughter their ability to employ both reason and reading comprehension skills to extract anger from their target by accusing her of saying something she never said. To feed their addiction, outrage addicts have embraced the following idiotic syllogism: ''I am mad at people who say X. I am mad at you. Therefore you said X.''
From this perspective, the reaction from both the media and Google itself over Damore's memo makes much more sense. Damore articulated ten methods for improving Google's approach to the diversity ''problem,'' so it's stupid to describe his memo as ''anti-diversity,'' yet that's exactly what journalists from The Sun and Time did. Damore never argued that women were, by virtue of their biology, slaves to neurosis and hysteria, so it's idiotic to castigate him as a misogynistic future alt-right poster boy, yet that's precisely what Owen Jones of The Guardian did.
When a man's words are right in front of you, it would be idiotic to fire him for what people accused him of saying instead of what he actually said, but that's precisely what Google did. It takes some measure of intelligence to write an article or run a corporation. These are not stupid people. Why, then, have they approached this issue in such a foolish fashion? There are two options. Either they desire to feed their own outrage addiction or they want to profit off others' addiction. Either way, everyone involved gets dumber.
The Truth Is, We Want to Be AngryOutrage addiction, of course, knows no political boundaries. It's not just progressives who have suppressed their critical thinking skills in an attempt to release dopamine through their anger. During President Trump's campaign, many conservatives rejoiced to hear him rail against Mexico and China for causing job losses in the manufacturing sector while failing to recognize the primary cause. Why didn't they know that automation was killing more of those jobs than ''bad'' trade deals? For many, the answer is that they just wanted someone to be mad at, so they quit researching the issue once they found an anger source in foreigners.
Likewise, many conservatives, including me, excoriated Rev. Jeremiah Wright over his two-second ''God damn America'' soundbite that Fox News ran on a loop in March 2008. However, as the full context of his statement shows, Wright wasn't saying ''We should hate this country.'' He was saying that, when earthly governments defy God's law, in this case by dehumanizing black citizens, God will bring those nations to an end.
There was plenty to criticize in the statements Wright made leading up to his point, but with regard to the point itself, this is the same theological principle that conservative Christian hero Franklin Graham referenced when he said that God will judge America for defying the Bible's teachings concerning abortion and same-sex marriage. It shouldn't have been hard for moderately intelligent conservatives to see this, but we didn't want to analyze theological statements. We just wanted to be angry'--more so at Barack Obama than at his pastor'--so why should we have used our brains to understand what Wright was actually saying when ''God damn America,'' isolated from its context, had already yielded the outrage we wanted?
The solution to the problem of outrage addiction, therefore, is not for us to change our politics but for God to change our hearts. Few of us would admit that we believe a man is only worthy of respect and fairness if he shares our politics. But that's precisely the diseased doctrine that drives our actions when we curse a man for his words before reading them, when we condemn him for something he never said, and when we ensure that his reputation is bound to our toxic spin on his statements.
It's Time for Some HumilityWhat we ought to believe, then, is what God proclaims in the scriptures'--that a man is owed our honor and love not because he's earned it from us, but because Christ earned it for him when he laid down his life for all mankind at Calvary. As Saint John put it, ''in this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.''
Our criticisms should only come after we've given someone a fair hearing.
Likewise, with regard to anger, Saint James gives us these words: ''Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.'' In other words, you can't make yourself holy by hating your neighbor, but Christ has made you both holy by being hated in your place, so treat your fellow man the way Jesus does.
Of course, this doesn't mean that we must praise those who disagree with us or even refrain from criticizing them when necessary. But it does mean that our criticisms should only come after we've given someone a fair hearing, something that we're rather unlikely to do when our primary goal is huffing anger rather than pursuing truth.
I am preaching to myself as much as anyone else here: Like all other sins, the cure for being hooked on anger is repentance and forgiveness. So the next time we find ourselves furiously retweeting an article before reading it or eviscerating someone for supposedly speaking the words we shoved in his mouth, we ought to remember that this is not the behavior of the righteously indignant but of the outrage addicts.
Then immediately after recognizing that we have a problem, we ought to put down our smartphones, walk into a sanctuary, and pray that God would have mercy on us, forgive us, and teach us to know the love of Christ so that we can truly love one another. This will do wonders for our souls.
It'll also make us all a little less stupid.
Why Americans Are So Angry About Everything
Sat, 12 Aug 2017 05:54
Americans are angry. They are angry about school shootings and taxes and mistreatment and undeserved privilege and discrimination and government. There are differences between groups, but as a recent Esquire/NBC survey finds, the overall presence of rage is clear. The November survey of more than 3,000 American adults found that about half are angrier today than they were a year ago.
Why are Americans so angry? All of us, of whatever group, live some version of the ''Whig interpretation of history,'' a theory identified and criticized by the historian Herbert Butterfield almost a century ago that sees history as an ever-increasing march to enlightenment. If you believe that things should get better and better, then it is infuriating when they do not. In many ways, modern life is indeed better than it has ever been in the past. Report after report reaffirms this improvement.
But the ''Whig school'' mentality carries its own dangers. First of all, the improvement in world health may not mean that much to me if my own health care is less comprehensive than it was 10 years ago. Because we know so much more about disease, we are relentless in our discussion of wellness, diet and the pursuit of longevity. We have instant access to every catastrophe in the world, and so we obsess over creating perfect security. Extravagant lifestyles are paraded through our living rooms each night, so it becomes difficult to be satisfied with our ample, but still comparatively modest, means. Much of our frustration arises in an age of unlimited expectation when atrocities and injustice are constantly paraded before our eyes.
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Particularly galling is our understanding of unfairness. From childhood the sense that someone has received more than we have arouses anger. This is a danger whenever goods are unevenly distributed, as they are in every society that has ever existed. In modern capitalist economies, the resentment is exacerbated by vast wealth and everyone's easy glimpses into the worlds of the ''haves.''
Some anger has uses. Without a push to do better, we would not have gotten to the pinnacle of living we have reached, where diseases have been subdued, literacy spread and hunger severely reduced. The restless drive to betterment has made unimaginable luxuries, such as having access to all human knowledge in your pocket, a commonplace even for many of the poor. Angry protests have often resulted in improved conditions. But when dissatisfaction becomes anger, it is less likely to be useful than polarizing and injurious. One question the survey did not ask, but which answers itself is this: is the country better for being so angry?
Angry people are poor communicators and even worse listeners. Their empathy is foreshortened, and they have trouble imagining the other's point of view. It makes people less healthy, and when both parties are angry, fewer are likely to find middle ground. If the only way people feel they will be heard is when they are angry, then our public discourse will be an arena for shouting past one another. Now that a sanctified modern method, a poll, has shown we're angry, perhaps we can have a reasoned public discussion about how to calm the rage and begin the work. You can be principled even when you speak in a soft voice.
The Google Memo: Four Scientists Respond - Quillette
Sat, 12 Aug 2017 14:47
Lee JussimProfessor Lee Jussim
Lee Jussim is a professor of social psychology at Rutgers University and was a Fellow and Consulting Scholar at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University (2013-15). He has served as chair of the Psychology Department at Rutgers University and has received the Gordon Allport Intergroup Relations Prize, and the APA Early Career Award for Distinguished Contributions to Psychology. He has published numerous articles and chapters and edited several books on social perception, accuracy, self-fulfilling prophecies, and stereotypes. His most recent book, Social Perception and Social Reality: Why Accuracy Dominates Bias and Self-Fulfilling Prophecy, ties that work together to demonstrate that people are far more reasonable and rational, and their judgments are typically far more accurate than social psychological conventional wisdom usually acknowledges. You can follow the twitter account: @PsychRabble for updates from his lab.
The author of the Google essay on issues related to diversity gets nearly all of the science and its implications exactly right. Its main points are that: 1. Neither the left nor the right gets diversity completely right; 2. The social science evidence on implicit and explicit bias has been wildly oversold and is far weaker than most people seem to realize; 3. Google has, perhaps unintentionally, created an authoritarian atmosphere that has stifled discussion of these issues by stigmatizing anyone who disagrees as a bigot and instituted authoritarian policies of reverse discrimination; 4. The policies and atmosphere systematically ignore biological, cognitive, educational, and social science research on the nature and sources of individual and group differences. I cannot speak to the atmosphere at Google, but: 1. Give that the author gets everything else right, I am pretty confident he is right about that too; 2. It is a painfully familiar atmosphere, one that is a lot like academia.
Here, I mainly focus on the reactions to the essay on the Gizmodo site, which indirectly and ironically validate much of the author's analysis. Very few of the comments actually engage the arguments; they just fling insults and slurs. Yes, slurs. In 1960, the most common slurs were insulting labels for demographic groups. In 2017, the most common slurs involve labelling anyone who you disagree with on issues such as affirmative action, diversity, gaps, and inequality as a racist, sexist, homophobe, or bigot.
This starts with the title of the Gizmodo post, which labels the article as a ''screed,'' which dictionary.com defines as a ''rant.''
This essay may not get everything 100% right, but it is certainly not a rant. And it stands in sharp contrast to most of the comments, which are little more than snarky modern slurs. The arrogance of most of the comments reflects exactly the type of smug self-appointed superiority that has led to widespread resentment of the left among reasonable people. To the extent that such views correspond to those at Google, they vindicate the essayist's claims about the authoritarian and repressive atmosphere there. Even the response by Google's new VP in charge of diversity simply ignores all of the author's arguments, and vacuously affirms Google's commitment to diversity. The essay is vastly more thoughtful, linked to the science, and well-reasoned than nearly all of the comments. If I had one recommendation, it would be this: That, before commenting on these issues, Google executives read two books: John Stuart Mill's On Liberty and Jonathan Haidt's The Righteous Mind.
Mill: '''...unmeasured vituperation employed on the side of the prevailing opinion, really does deter people from professing contrary opinions, and from listening to those who profess them.''
Haidt: ''If you think that moral reasoning is something we do to figure out the truth, you'll be constantly frustrated by how foolish, biased, and illogical people become when they disagree with you.''
Lee Jussim's recommended reading list on this topic can be found below.
David P SchmittProfessor David P Schmitt
Since earning his bachelor's degree and Ph.D. in personality psychology from the University of Michigan David P. Schmitt has authored or co-authored more than 50 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters. He is founder and director of the International Sexuality Description Project (ISDP). The ISDP is among the largest-ever cross-cultural research teams, involving over 200 psychologists from nearly 60 countries around the world whose collaborative studies investigate how culture, personality, and gender combine to influence sexual attitudes and behaviors.served two terms as Chair of the Psychology Department at Bradley University from 2005-2010. He blogs at Psychology Today and you can follow him on Twitter @PsychoSchmitt
A Google employee recently shared a memo that referenced some of my scholarly research on psychological sex differences (e.g., personality traits, mate preferences, status-seeking). Alongside other evidence, the employee argued, in part, that this research indicates affirmative action policies based on biological sex are misguided. Maybe, maybe not. Let me explain.
I think it's really important to discuss this topic scientifically, keeping an open mind and using informed skepticism when evaluating claims about evidence. In the case of personality traits, evidence that men and women may have different average levels of certain traits is rather strong. For instance, sex differences in negative emotionality are universal across cultures; developmentally emerge across all cultures at exactly the same time; are linked to diagnosed (not just self-reported) mental health issues; appear rooted in sex differences in neurology, gene activation, and hormones; are larger in more gender egalitarian nations; and so forth (for a short review of this evidence, see here.)
But it is not clear to me how such sex differences are relevant to the Google workplace. And even if sex differences in negative emotionality were relevant to occupational performance (e.g., not being able to handle stressful assignments), the size of these negative emotion sex differences is not very large (typically, ranging between ''small'' to ''moderate'' in statistical effect size terminology; accounting for less than 10% of the variance). So, using someone's biological sex to essentialize an entire group of people's personality would be like operating with an axe. Not precise enough to do much good, probably will cause a lot of harm. Moreover, men are more emotional than women in certain ways, too. Sex differences in emotion depend on the type of emotion, how it is measured, where it is expressed, when it is expressed, and lots of other contextual factors.
As to sex differences in mate preferences and status-seeking, these topics also have been heavily researched across cultures (for a review, see here). Again, though, most of these sex differences are moderate in size and in my view are unlikely to be all that relevant to the Google workplace (accounting for, perhaps, a few percentage points of the variability between men's and women's performances). Sex differences in occupational interests, personal values, and certain cognitive abilities are a bit larger in size (see here), but most psychological sex differences are only small to moderate in size, and rather than grouping men and women into dichotomous groups, I think sex and sex differences are best thought of scientifically as multidimensional dials, anyway (see here.)
Now, treating people as dichotomous sexes is exactly what many affirmative action policies do. As this is not my area of expertise, I can only offer my non-expert opinion on this issue, which is this: There have been (and likely will continue to be) many socio-structural barriers to women working in technological jobs. These include culturally-embedded gender stereotypes, biased socialization practices, in some cultures explicit employment discrimination, and a certain degree of masculinization of technological workplaces. Within this sea of gender bias, should Google use various practices (affirmative action is not just one thing) to especially encourage capable women of joining (and enjoying) the Google workplace? I vote yes. At the same time, should we be able to openly discuss and be informed by some of the real psychological sex differences that might account for variation in men's and women's workplace performance? In the right context, I vote yes to that, too.
Geoffrey MillerAssociate Professor Geoffrey Miller
Geoffrey Miller is an evolutionary psychology professor at University of New Mexico. He is the author ofThe Mating Mind, Mating Intelligence,Spent, andWhat Women Want. His research has focused on sexual selection, mate choice, human sexuality, intelligence, humor, creativity, personality traits, evolutionary psychopathology, behavior genetics, consumer behavior, evolutionary aesthetics, research ethics, virtue signaling, and Effective Altruism. He did a podcast calledThe Mating Grounds; you can follow him on Twitter @primalpoly.
An anonymous male software engineer recently distributed a memo titled 'Google's Ideological Echo Chamber'. Within hours, this memo unleashed a firestorm of negative commentary, most of which ignored the memo's evidence-based arguments. Among commentators who claim the memo's empirical facts are wrong, I haven't read a single one who understand sexual selection theory, animal behavior, and sex differences research.
When the memo went viral, thousands of journalists and bloggers transformed themselves overnight from not understanding evolutionary psychology at all to claiming enough expertise to criticize the whole scientific literature on biological sex differences.
It was like watching Trinity downloading the pilot program for flying the B-212 helicopter in The Matrix. Such fast learners! (Even Google's new 'VP of Diversity', Danielle Brown, criticized the memo because it 'advanced incorrect assumptions about gender'; I was impressed to see that her Michigan State B.A. in Business and her U. Michigan M.B.A. qualify her to judge the scientific research.)
For what it's worth, I think that almost all of the Google memo's empirical claims are scientifically accurate. Moreover, they are stated quite carefully and dispassionately. Its key claims about sex differences are especially well-supported by large volumes of research across species, cultures, and history. I know a little about sex differences research. On the topic of evolution and human sexuality, I've taught for 28 years, written 4 books and over 100 academic publications, given 190 talks, reviewed papers for over 50 journals, and mentored 11 Ph.D. students. Whoever the memo's author is, he has obviously read a fair amount about these topics. Graded fairly, his memo would get at least an A- in any masters' level psychology course. It is consistent with the scientific state of the art on sex differences. (Blank slate gender feminism is advocacy rather than science: no gender feminist I've met has ever been able to give a coherent answer to the question 'What empirical findings would convince you that psychological sex differences evolved?')
Here, I just want to take a step back from the memo controversy, to highlight a paradox at the heart of the 'equality and diversity' dogma that dominates American corporate life. The memo didn't address this paradox directly, but I think it's implicit in the author's critique of Google's diversity programs. This dogma relies on two core assumptions:
The human sexes and races have exactly the same minds, with precisely identical distributions of traits, aptitudes, interests, and motivations; therefore, any inequalities of outcome in hiring and promotion must be due to systemic sexism and racism;The human sexes and races have such radically different minds, backgrounds, perspectives, and insights, that companies must increase their demographic diversity in order to be competitive; any lack of demographic diversity must be due to short-sighted management that favors groupthink.The obvious problem is that these two core assumptions are diametrically opposed.
Let me explain. If different groups have minds that are precisely equivalent in every respect, then those minds are functionally interchangeable, and diversity would be irrelevant to corporate competitiveness. For example, take sex differences. The usual rationale for gender diversity in corporate teams is that a balanced, 50/50 sex ratio will keep a team from being dominated by either masculine or feminine styles of thinking, feeling, and communicating. Each sex will counter-balance the other's quirks. (That makes sense to me, by the way, and is one reason why evolutionary psychologists often value gender diversity in research teams.) But if there are no sex differences in these psychological quirks, counter-balancing would be irrelevant. A 100% female team would function exactly the same as a 50/50 team, which would function the same as a 100% male team. If men are no different from women, then the sex ratio in a team doesn't matter at any rational business level, and there is no reason to promote gender diversity as a competitive advantage.
Likewise, if the races are no different from each other, then the racial mix of a company can't rationally matter to the company's bottom line. The only reasons to value diversity would be at the levels of legal compliance with government regulations, public relations virtue-signalling, and deontological morality '' not practical effectiveness. Legal, PR, and moral reasons can be good reasons for companies to do things. But corporate diversity was never justified to shareholders as a way to avoid lawsuits, PR blowback, or moral shame; it was justified as a competitive business necessity.
So, if the sexes and races don't differ at all, and if psychological interchangeability is true, then there's no practical business case for diversity.
On the other hand, if demographic diversity gives a company any competitive advantages, it must be because there are important sex differences and race differences in how human minds work and interact. For example, psychological variety must promote better decision-making within teams, projects, and divisions. Yet if minds differ across sexes and races enough to justify diversity as an instrumental business goal, then they must differ enough in some specific skills, interests, and motivations that hiring and promotion will sometimes produce unequal outcomes in some company roles. In other words, if demographic diversity yields any competitive advantages due to psychological differences between groups, then demographic equality of outcome cannot be achieved in all jobs and all levels within a company. At least, not without discriminatory practices such as affirmative action or demographic quotas.
So, psychological interchangeability makes diversity meaningless. But psychological differences make equal outcomes impossible. Equality or diversity. You can't have both.
Weirdly, the same people who advocate for equality of outcome in every aspect of corporate life, also tend to advocate for diversity in every aspect of corporate life. They don't even see the fundamentally irreconcilable assumptions behind this 'equality and diversity' dogma.
Why didn't the thousands of people working to promote equality and diversity in corporate America acknowledge this paradox? Why did it take a male software engineer at Google who's read a bunch of evolutionary psychology? I suspect that it's a problem of that old tradeoff between empathizing and systematizing that I wrote about in this Quillette article on neurodiversity and free speech. The high empathizers in HR and the diversity industry prioritize caring for women and minorities over developing internally coherent, evidence-based models of human nature and society. High systematizers, such as this memo's author, prioritize the opposite. Indeed, he explicitly calls for 'de-emphasizing empathy' and 'de-moralizing diversity', arguing that 'being emotionally unengaged helps us better reason about the facts'. He is right.
His most important suggestion though is apparently the most contentious: 'Be open about the science of human nature'. He writes 'Once we acknowledge that not all differences are socially constructed or due to discrimination, we open our eyes to a more accurate view of the human condition which is necessary if we actually want to solve problems.' This is also correct. If American businesses want to remain competitive in a global market, they must open their eyes to the research, and ground their policies in the known facts about the genetic evolution of sex differences, rather than blank slate delusions about the 'social construction of gender'.
American businesses also have to face the fact that the demographic differences that make diversity useful will not lead to equality of outcome in every hire or promotion. Equality or diversity: choose one. In my opinion, given that sex differences are so well-established, and the sexes have such intricately complementary quirks, it may often be sensible, in purely practical business terms, to aim for more equal sex ratios in many corporate teams, projects, and divisions.
The evolutionary psychology research on sex differences is one of the best reasons to promote sexual diversity in the workplace '' and one of the best reasons to expect that there may still be some inequalities of outcome in particular jobs, companies, and industries.
Debra W SohDebra W Soh PhD
Debra W Soh is a Toronto based science writer who has a PhD in sexual neuroscience from the University of York. Her dissertation used four types of neuroimaging, including structural and functional MRI, to investigate brain differences associated with sexual orientation, paraphilias (or unusual sexual interests), and hypersexuality. You can find her columns inThe Globe and Mail,Playboy,LA Timesand elsewhere. You can also follow her on Twitter @DrDebraSoh
As a woman who's worked in academia and within STEM, I didn't find the memo offensive or sexist in the least. I found it to be a well thought out document, asking for greater tolerance for differences in opinion, and treating people as individuals instead of based on group membership.
Within the field of neuroscience, sex differences between women and men'--when it comes to brain structure and function and associated differences in personality and occupational preferences'--are understood to be true, because the evidence for them (thousands of studies) is strong. This is not information that's considered controversial or up for debate; if you tried to argue otherwise, or for purely social influences, you'd be laughed at.
Sex researchers recognize that these differences are not inherently supportive of sexism or stratifying opportunities based on sex. It is only because a group of individuals have chosen to interpret them that way, and to subsequently deny the science around them, that we have to have this conversation at a public level. Some of these ideas have been published in neuroscientific journals'--despite having faulty study methodology'--because they've been deemed socially pleasing and ''progressive.'' As a result, there's so much misinformation out there now that people genuinely don't know what to believe.
No matter how controversial it is or how great the pushback, I believe it's important to speak out, because if we can't discuss scientific truths, where does that leave us?
***
Lee Jussim's Recommended Reading
Haidt & Jussim, May 16, 2016, Hard Truths about Race on Campus. Wall Street Journal.
Jussim, L. (2017). Why to Girls Tend to Prefer Non-STEM Careers?Psychology Today.
Jussim, L. (2017). Gender Bias in STEM or Biased Claims of Gender Bias?Psychology Today.
Ceci & Williams (2011). Understanding current causes of women's underrepresentation in science. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 108, 3157-3162.
Duarte et al (2015). Political diversity will improve social psychological science. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, doi:10.1017/S0140525X14000430, e130
Pinker, S. (2002). The Blank Slate. New York: Penguin Books
Wang et al (2013). Not lack of ability but more choice: Individual and gender differences in choice in careers in science, technology, engineering and math. Psychological Science, 24, 770-775.
Williams & Ceci (2015). National hiring experiments reveal 2:1 faculty preference for women on STEM tenure track.Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 112, 5360-5365.
Why I Was Fired by Google - WSJ
Sat, 12 Aug 2017 01:24
I was fired by Google this past Monday for a document that I wrote and circulated internally raising questions about cultural taboos and how they cloud our thinking about gender diversity at the company and in the wider tech sector. I suggested that at least some of the male-female disparity in tech could be attributed to biological differences (and, yes, I said that bias against women was a factor too). Google Chief Executive Sundar Pichai declared that portions of my statement violated the company's code of conduct and ''cross...
Omarosa Tells NABJ Convention She 'Fights On Front Lines Every Day' To Laughs, Groans | HuffPost
Sun, 13 Aug 2017 12:53
Omarosa Manigault-Newman, the reality TV star who has become an aide to President Donald Trump, received a chilly reception Friday at this year's National Association of Black Journalists convention in New Orleans.
As prominent black journalists and public relations professionals watched, Manigault-Newman, on a panel about police violence, was asked about her role in the Trump administration, and what she has done for the black community.
''I fight on the front lines every day,'' Manigault-Newman said, provoking laughter and groans from the audience. Some in the crowd, including journalist Jamilah Lemieux and activist Britanny Packnett, reportedly turned their backs in protest as Manigault-Newman spoke.
Panel moderator Ed Gordon, host of BET's ''Weekly,'' asked Manigault-Newman how Trump's recent comments supporting police brutality fit with police violence in the black community, including the police killing of Freddie Gray in Baltimore.
Manigault-Newman, a former star on ''The Apprentice'' who's now director of communications for the White House Office of Public Liaison, said she disagreed with Trump's comments. ''I don't think a black boy should be treated the way Freddie Gray was,'' she added.
''First of all,'' began fellow panelist Arthur Reed, an author, ''Freddie Gray was a black man, not a boy. You see that type of mentality, and that's what's wrong with this whole situation right now '• too many of y'all looking at us as boys. We grown-ass men. And when you see this type of thing, you have to stand up and let them know, like I understand perfectly that there's just some black people that's just not black. I understand that.''
''Is she engaged in policy-level discussions, not just with President Trump, but with Jeff Sessions?'' panelist Joel Anderson of BuzzFeed asked. ''Because that's where a lot of directives come from, where a lot of law enforcement ... That's where the tone is set across the country.''
Instead of answering, Manigault-Newman urged the audience to get out their phones.
''Google 'Omarosa and Eric Garner,''' she said. ''You'll see my recent work with the Department of Justice.''
''Well you're right here, why don't you tell us?'' Gordon shot back.
Garner was placed in a fatal chokehold by a New York City police officer for selling individual cigarettes. Video shows him gasping ''I can't breathe,'' 11 times. The Google search brought up a reference to a meeting Manigault-Newman had with Garner's mother, Gwen Carr, in March.
Relatives of other people victimized by police violence '• the mother of Philando Castile, and the aunt of Alton Sterling '• had spoken on the stage in a separate panel just before Manigault-Newman arrived.
Manigault-Newman got out of her seat and paced the stage at one point, engaging in repeated back-and-forths with other panelists. Finally, Gordon seemed to have had enough.
''We have reached the point of diminished returns,'' the moderator announced.
Minutes later, when NABJ President Sarah Glover tried to explain why Manigault-Newman had been invited in the first place, the reality show star appeared to blow a kiss to someone in the audience. Then she got up and left the stage without saying anything further.
''It would be foolhardy to assume that anyone would come here or that any journalist worth his salt or her salt would sit here and not ask certain questions,'' Gordon told the audience.
New York Times journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones had been scheduled to host the panel. But she and a fellow panelist, The New Yorker's Jelani Cobb, pulled out after Manigault-Newman was added.
Cobb told Page Six his reason for backing out ''wasn't simply the addition of Omarosa. It was that she was added at the 11th hour and it was unclear whether we would be able to discuss substantive issues regarding the administration and its policing policies. Also, the panel was very disorganized, and basic things like format were not clear.''
Cobb and journalists in attendance tweeted about Manigault-Newman's participation.
Manigault-Newman responded to the Twitter controversy the panel generated with a tweet of her on Saturday afternoon, posting a series of hashtags saying she was ''set up'' from the start.
Chiner$
China earthquake: Sichuan tremor leaves least 19 dead - BBC News
Thu, 10 Aug 2017 22:29
Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media caption Rescue workers are digging through debris to try and find survivors A 7.0-magnitude earthquake has killed at least 19 people and injured 247 in China's south-western province of Sichuan.
Six tourists are thought to be among the dead, with up to 45,000 people evacuated from the area.
A separate 6.6-magnitude tremor struck the remote area of XinJiang, injuring 32 people.
More than 87,000 people were killed in an earthquake in Sichuan province in 2008.
The quake struck at about 21:20 (13:20 GMT) on Tuesday about 300km (180 miles) north of the provincial capital Chengdu, and was 10km deep.
China's Earthquake Administration (CEA) said more than 1,000 aftershocks had been detected, with the most powerful reaching 4.8 magnitude on Wednesday.
Image copyright Reuters Image caption More than 1,250 soldiers have been deployed to the area to help local rescue efforts Photos showed damage to buildings including a hotel in Jiuzhaigou, home to one of China's most famous nature reserves and a Unesco World Heritage site.
Many tourists visiting the area remained outside overnight while waiting for evacuation on Wednesday.
A restaurant owner in the town said this quake felt stronger than the 7.9 tremor in 2008, though there is no suggestion that the death toll could reach anywhere near the levels caused by that disaster.
Image copyright Reuters Image caption Passengers were left stranded at Jiuzhaigou airport on Wednesday Tang Sesheng told the AFP news agency that many people were taking refuge in the main square.
"People didn't dare grab anything like money or clothes - we just all ran outside right away," she said.
President Xi Jinping called for "all-out efforts to rapidly organise relief work and rescue the injured people", state news agency Xinhua reports, and fire officers and soldiers have been deployed from nearby areas.
Shaking was felt in Chengdu and in Xian, some 700km (430 miles) away.
Gwendolyn Pang of the Red Cross Society of China said it would take time to learn the extent of the damage and number of casualties.
"Communications lines and electricity are disrupted and people are no doubt shocked and scared," she said.
China's National Commission for Disaster Reduction, quoted by AFP, said as many as 100 people might have been killed and 130,000 homes damaged.
Emergency response operations have been activated by transport agencies and local airports to aid evacuations and allow rescue vehicles into the area.
FaceBag is Bad
Facebook usage on smartphones and gray matter volume of the nucleus accumbens - ScienceDirect
Sun, 13 Aug 2017 12:25
A recent study has implicated the nucleus accumbens of the ventral striatum in explaining why online-users spend time on the social network platform Facebook. Here, higher activity of the nucleus accumbens was associated with gaining reputation on social media. In the present study, we touched a related research field. We recorded the actual Facebook usage of N = 62 participants on their smartphones over the course of five weeks and correlated summary measures of Facebook use with gray matter volume of the nucleus accumbens. It appeared, that in particular higher daily frequency of checking Facebook on the smartphone was robustly linked with smaller gray matter volumes of the nucleus accumbens. The present study gives additional support for the rewarding aspects of Facebook usage. Moreover, it shows the feasibility to include real life behavior variables in human neuroscientific research.
The dangerous thing using Facebook is doing to your brain | indy100
Sun, 13 Aug 2017 12:25
You never saw Poirot checking his news feed.
And for good reason (other than that it didn't exist).
A new study has found a link between using the social network Facebook, and the famed 'little grey cells' in your brain.
A study published in Behavioural Brain Research in April 2017 has found that people who frequently check Facebook on their smart phone have less 'grey matter' in the part of the brain's 'nucleus accumbens', thought to be its reward centre.
The reward centre is believed to play a big role in addiction.
They found that there were smaller grey matter volumes in the reward centre when a participant used Facebook frequently.
Participants were recruited from the University of Bonn, and were therefore mainly students.
Their Facebook use was described 'not excessive' by the study.
Using MRI brain scans of 46 men and 39 women, scientists from the Universities of Ulm, Bonn, and Chendu monitored the participant's use of social media over five weeks.
Christian Montag, a researcher at Ulm University, and the corresponding author for the study, told PsyPost:
We were able to demonstrate that the nucleus accumbens, a central region of the SEEKING system '-- others call it the reward system '-- plays an important role in understanding Facebook usage on smartphones,
In short, the lower the grey matter volume in this area, the higher Facebook usage/frequency could be observed.
Checking Facebook was compared to other reward seeking activities, meaning we log on looking for a buzz.
The study, which is being presented for peer review, does not conclude if high Facebook use causes there to be less grey matter, or less grey matter prompts higher Facebook use.
Before linking Facebook use to addictive behaviour, the authors recommended a further study into people who use Facebook an excessive amount.
HT PsyPost
More: Crisps are as addictive as hard drugs, according to science
Ministry of Truthiness
YouTube Stars Who Met With Feds to 'Grow' Trump-Themed Business Were Paid by Trump Campaign
Thu, 10 Aug 2017 21:18
Screenshot: YouTubeA pair of familiar faces from the 2016 campaign trail randomly popped up on the US Commerce Department's Twitter account Monday afternoon. But by Tuesday morning they were gone.
YouTube stars Lynnette Hardaway and Rochelle Richardson'--better known as ''Diamond'' and ''Silk,'' respectively'--were invited to the Commerce Department's headquarters this week, apparently to discuss ways in which they could expand their business. The pair runs a political blog aimed at promoting President Trump and denigrating his critics.
The Commerce Department revealed Diamond and Silk's visit in a photo posted on the department's official Twitter account, which said the duo had met with the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) to ''discuss how to grow their business and build their brand.''
The tweet was deleted hours later.
Wayback MachineA Commerce spokesperson told Gizmodo the tweet was deleted ''out of an abundance of caution'' as the department was not clear it had received permission to post the photo. ''Diamond and Silk were here to talk about minority business development,'' the spokesperson said. ''They reached out to the Acting National Director of MBDA, [whom] they had met previously, to discuss how best to help the minority business community.''
The spokesperson declined to elaborate on how the Commerce Department was helping Diamond and Silk ''build their brand.'' At present, they offer only two products in their online store, both Trump-branded pins.
diamondandsilkinc.comMonday's meeting was arranged by Chris Garcia, a former Trump campaign advisor whom the president appointed acting head of the MBDA this year. The meeting would seem perfectly innocent, were it not for the fact that Diamond and Silk were paid Trump campaign consultants.
The Trump campaign denied paying Diamond and Silk for their regular on-stage appearances at political rallies. But an amendment to the campaign's 2016 FEC report, released in May 2017, reveals the YouTube stars were in fact cut a check shortly after the election: a meager $1,274.94 for their ''field consulting'' work.
Questions had been raised by reporters last summer over what Trump aides brushed off as coincidence: Ace Specialties, a company the Trump campaign reportedly paid more than $2 million for campaign swag, also supplied the pro-Trump merchandise sold on Diamond and Silk's website.
A campaign spokesperson told ABC News in April 2016 that Diamond and Silk ''have never been paid by the campaign, which you can verify in our FEC reports. There is no connection with Ace. We very much appreciate the unwavering support and enthusiasm, from Diamond and Silk.''
Daniel Scavino, a Trump campaign advisor who now serves as the director of White House social media and assistant to the president, first invited the bloggers to attend a Republican debate in November 2015, Politico reports. Two months later, Trump introduced Diamond and Silk at an event in Iowa by noting, ''They've become very famous and very rich.'' Later asked by a Politico reporter what Trump meant when he said they'd grown ''very rich,'' Diamond replied: ''Ask Donald.''
The pair went on to ''stump for Trump'' in Mississippi, South Carolina, and Iowa, drawing energetic responses from crowds of 10,000 supporters or more. Days before the Nov. 8 election, they appeared on stage alongside Lara Trump, the president's daughter-in-law, at a North Carolina event, where they accused then-candidate Hillary Clinton of considering herself a ''slave master.''
While their ties to Trump are often portrayed as a mere chance encounter, the pair now frequently rub elbows with the conservative elite. They've landed repeat appearances on Sean Hannity's Fox News program as well as his radio show. In April, they attended the wedding of White House political aide Omarosa Manigault, a quiet affair at the Trump International Hotel in Washington.
Now after having been declared paid Trump campaign consultants, a former Trump campaign staffer is ushering the YouTube celebrities into a federal office building, allegedly to help expand their Trump-themed business'--the very existence of which remains curious, given Trump's propensity for suing people who try to profit off his name, even when their name also happens to be Trump.
Investigative reporter. FOIA enthusiast. Send tips: dell@gizmodo.com
PGP Fingerprint: EB53 EA4F 3049 C3B5| PGP Key
CNN severs ties with Jeffrey Lord
Thu, 10 Aug 2017 23:17
"Nazi salutes are indefensible," a CNN spokesperson said in a statement. "Jeffrey Lord is no longer with the network."
Lord said his tweet was misunderstood. He said he was mocking fascists, not acting like one.
"I love CNN, but I feel they are caving to bullies here," he said in a telephone interview shortly after the network's decision was announced.
Lord said his contract was set to expire at the end of the year. He said he greatly respected CNN management despite disagreeing with the decision.
This is not the first time CNN has cut ties with a prominent personality on the network due to an offensive tweet.
Earlier this year CNN cancelled Reza Aslan's documentary series "Believer" after he posted profane anti-Trump tweets.
Lord, a former Reagan administration staffer, had been one of CNN's best-known commentators. He was the first explicitly pro-Donald Trump commentator to join the network, back in August 2015, two months after Trump entered the GOP primary race. At the time Lord was a counterweight to CNN's other conservative commentators, who were all dismissive of Trump's candidacy.
Other pro-Trump voices joined the network later. But Lord always stood out from the pack -- for his interpretations of history and his intense exchanges with commentators like Van Jones on "Anderson Cooper 360" and other programs.
Lord, a columnist for The American Spectator, has been harshly critical of the activist he tweeted at, Angelo Carusone, and the liberal group of which Carusone is president, Media Matters for America.
Lord and Carusone have had many sharp disagreements. Media Matters has repeatedly condemned Lord and criticized CNN for employing him as a commentator.
Earlier this week the two men got into another entanglement on Twitter, specifically over Media Matters' past financial support from George Soros.
Carusone told Lord that one of his columns was "full of lies" and said "Soros gave us one donation one time...in 2010."
Lord wrote a follow-up column for The American Spectator on Thursday morning, calling Carusone's group the "Media Matters Fascists," casting them as "anti-free speech bigots who, in typical fascist style, make it their mission to shut down speech they don't like."
Media Matters has been promoting an ad boycott against Fox News host Sean Hannity, a friend of Lord's.
Lord said Carusone was playing a "fascist game" by targeting Hannity's sponsors, and said Media Matters has been doing it for years against other conservatives.
"This is America, Angelo. Not Fascist Italy, Nazi Germany or Communist Russia," he wrote.
Lord tweeted the column at Carusone, who responded, "Your headline has a mistake in it." Carusone asked, "Why do you expect anyone to take you seriously when you don't take yourself seriously."
Lord's response was "Sieg Heil!"
The tweet caused a Twitter storm. There was renewed criticism both of Lord, personally, and of CNN for having him on the payroll.
Carusone tweeted on Thursday afternoon and said "CNN does not seem to hold Jeffrey Lord to any kind of standard."
Under withering criticism from others on social media, Lord did not backtrack from the Nazi reference.
He repeatedly told commenters that he was "mocking Nazis and Fascists."
He asked, "Why would I delete something that mocks the Fascists at Media Matters Fascists?"
Later, in a telephone interview with CNN, Lord said, "I think these people are very dangerous."
"They run around bullying people, bullying advertisers to take people off the air," he added.
Of the offensive tweet, he said, "I'm mocking people who are posing a serious threat to the American free press. That's what I'm mocking."
Another Trump-supporting conservative commentator, Kayleigh McEnany, recently left CNN under unrelated circumstances.
McEnany asked to be let out of her CNN contract to become the spokeswoman for the RNC.
CNN has about a dozen other conservative commentators who tend to support the president's agenda.
CNNMoney (New York) First published August 10, 2017: 4:52 PM ET
Migrants
Boat carrying African migrants arrives on Spanish beach | Daily Mail Online
Thu, 10 Aug 2017 23:22
A boat carrying dozens of African migrants landed on a Spanish beach in front of shocked holidaymakers.
Footage shows the migrants leaping out of a black inflatable dinghy and dashing across the sand on beaches at Cadiz in southern Spain, after crossing the Strait of Gibraltar.
The group managed to leave from the beach before the authorities arrived some time after.
The incident took place on Wednesday afternoon, with footage showing the boat coming up behind a man and a child taking a dip in the sea.
As the boat pulls into shallow water, those on board leap out and run up the beach.
One onlooker asks in an astonished voice, 'What's going on?'
Carlos Sanz, who shot the video while on vacation in Cadiz, said the group quickly vanished and police only arrived some time later.
Spanish officials couldn't immediately be reached after office hours.
The incident comes as the International Organization for Migration warned on Thursday that Spain could overtake Greece this year in the number of migrants arriving by sea, using boats and even jet-skis.
According to the IOM's latest figures, until August 6, close to 8,200 migrants had arrived in Spain so far this year.
That is more than triple the number who reached Spain at the same time last year, according to Joel Millman, a senior IOM spokesman, and already more than the total arrivals in 2016.
New arrivals: A video filmed by a witness show the dinghy pulling into shallow water at Cadiz
Embarking: Some two dozen people, reportedly African migrants, jump off the boat and run onto the beach in front of surprised sunbathers and tourists
While the figure pales in comparison with arrivals in Italy - where more than 96,400 have landed so far this year - Spain is catching up with Greece where 11,713 have arrived by sea in the same timeframe.
'It's possible that Spain will outperform Greece this year,' Millman told AFP.
'If so, that's a big change.'
He said many people taking the long route towards Italy via the Sahara and Libya were from west Africa.
But with the dangers faced, some may be deciding to go up along the coast instead.
'We assume that some of the change is due to the fact that the route is considered a safe route up to the coast through Morocco,' Millman said.
He added that the boats crossing the short but choppy sea to Spain were much smaller than those launching from Libya to Italy.
In Libya there 'appears to be a very deliberate strategy to put people out there, in overloaded boats that begin to take on water almost immediately and then it's a race to see how quickly the people on the boat can summon aid,' he said.
'Whereas in Spain, the strategy is smaller craft hoping to come in undetected, and undoubtedly some do.'
Unexpected: The incident took place on Wednesday afternoon, with the migrants reportedly leaving the beach before Spanish authorities arrived
The boat came ashore in Cadiz, however it is not known from where the group had travelled
Disembarkations by migrants on Spanish beaches are not common but have happened before, especially at Spain's north African enclave cities Melilla and Ceuta, which border Morocco.
Ceuta and Melilla have the EU's only land borders with Africa, and as a result, they are entry points for people desperate to get to Europe.
Migrants regularly try to climb the high double border fences, swim along the coast or hide in vehicles crossing the frontier.
In recent days, migrants have repeatedly stormed the border with Ceuta by either attempting to cut through the wire fencing or running through the border post.
Once on Spanish soil in Ceuta, they are taken to migrant reception centres where they can apply for asylum.
But many are desperate to get to mainland Spain, believing that the process in Ceuta is slow or fearing that they will be returned to neighbouring Morocco, and try to hide in lorries boarding ferries.
On Tuesday, Spanish police found 30 Moroccan and Algerian migrants, ten of them minors, hidden in fairground vehicles in the enclave city.
The group had hidden in bumper cars and the ghost train loaded on lorries which were due to leave Ceuta for mainland Spain a after an annual festival.
Agents used heartbeat detectors and dogs to locate the migrants while the vehicles waited to board ferries to the mainland, the Guardia Civil police force said.
'They try to use attractions that are only half covered up to jump in and hide inside,' a spokesman said.
Spanish police push back 700 migrants as they attempt to storm a 20-foot border fence in Ceuta
Hundreds of migrants have attempted to storm the border between Spain's North African Ceuta territory and Morocco.
The Interior Ministry's office in the small enclave said the migrants tried to scale the 20-foot high barbed-wire fences around Ceuta after a crossing attempt at the Tarajal post failed.
All of the migrants - about 700 - were repelled by the Moroccan and Spanish authorities.
Spain and Morocco agreed yesterday to close the Tarajal post to freight traffic for a week because of recent migrant crossing attempts.
More than 180 migrants also stormed the border on Monday. Over 700 were repelled today
Footage showed migrants from Africa sprinting over the border from the Moroccan side while it was still dark on Monday
Pedestrian and passenger vehicles were still allowed.
Every year, thousands of sub-Saharan African migrants living illegally in Morocco try to scale the border fences surrounding Ceuta and Melilla, Spain's other North African enclave, in a bid to enter Europe.
On January 1 more than 1,000 migrants from sub-Saharan Africa tried to scale the fence at Ceuta during a violent assault in which one officer lost an eye.
At about 5am on Monday, 186 migrants stormed the border and reached European Union soil.
Once there, they celebrated, raising their hands in joy as they ran through the streets - with one man kneeling on the floor.
The migrants were eventually rounded up and taken to a reception centre, where they can apply for asylum in Spain.
Pictured: Spain's North African enclave of Ceuta. Hundreds of migrants attempted to storm the border today
Montreal's Olympic Stadium used to house surge in asylum seekers crossing from U.S. - Montreal - CBC News
Sun, 13 Aug 2017 12:02
A temporary welcome centre has been opened at the Olympic Stadium in Montreal to house a new wave of asylum seekers coming from the United States to Quebec, many of them Haitians.
"We've never seen this before," said Francine Dupuis, who oversees PRAIDA, the provincial government organization that helps claimants in their first months.
"It's really quite a bit more intense than what we're used to."
On Wednesday, asylum seekers were taken to the Olympic Stadium by bus. Among them were children and pregnant women.
In the past, PRAIDA has worked with a Montreal YMCA to temporarily provide newcomers with housing and support, but the recent surge of Haitians crossing the border from the United States has strained PRAIDA's existing resources and forced it to open several new centres, including one at the Olympic Stadium.
'We've never seen this before. It's really quite a bit more intense than what we're used to.' - Francine Dupuis , PRAIDA
Between 100 and 450 cots have been set up in the Olympic Stadium. The asylum seekers will be housed in the area with concession stands just on the border of the actual arena. It's a windowless, concrete hallway.
Watch as a group of asylum seekers are brought to Montreal's Olympic Stadium0:53
A spokesperson for Olympic Park said the request to use the stadium came on Friday.
"We were quick to say, 'OK, how much space do we need?'" C(C)dric Essminimy said. "And in 24 hours, everything was set."
The Olympic Stadium is one of Montreal's most well-known landmarks. It was built in the early 1970s as a venue for the 1976 Summer Olympics. Known locally as the Big O, it was home to the Montreal Expos until the team left the city in 2004.
Dozens of other asylum seekers who crossed illegally into Quebec are still being held by the Canada Border Services Agency at the St-Bernard-de-Lacolle border crossing south of Montreal.
More than 100 beds have been set up for asylum seekers in Montreal's Olympic Stadium. (Ryan Hicks/CBC)
A number of tents and temporary shelters have been set up there to accommodate the asylum seekers.
Though official numbers have not been released by the federal government, Dupuis estimates 1,174 asylum seekers crossed into Quebec in July. In comparison, PRAIDA helped 180 people in July 2016.
Fear of deportation from U.S.In May, U.S. President Donald Trump threatened to withdraw the protective status of Haitians who took refuge in the country following the 2010 earthquake.
Up to 58,000 people could face deportation back to Haiti in January 2018.
A woman interviewed Wednesday at Roxham Road, a key point of entry for asylum seekers crossing illegally into Quebec, said she left the U.S. because she was scared.
"We didn't know what was going to happen," she said.
"So we checked online and we saw that Canada was going to welcome Haitians, and that's why we come here."
One man who spoke to reporters from the Olympic Stadium identified himself as Haitian and said he arrived in Canada about a week ago.
"It feels really good to be in Canada because it's so calm," he said in French.
'‹PRAIDA's Dupuis said Montreal's large Haitian community is a reason why many Haitians are crossing the border into Quebec.
"Obviously, there is a stronger attraction to coming to Quebec for Haitians than in other provinces," she said.
"They have the help of their community to get settled."
Record numbers of asylum seekers cross into Canada through Roxham Road0:43
Marjorie Villefranche, director general of the Maison d'Haiti, a hub for the Haitian community in Montreal, said the group has been hearing from families living in the U.S. hoping to come to Canada.
In the last three weeks especially, a larger number of Haitians have been crossing the border asking for refugee status, she said. Villefranche said the Maison d'Haiti helps asylum seekers fill out paperwork to be able to stay in Canada.
She said word of how to cross into Canada has spread quickly on Haitian social networks, encouraging more people to come to Quebec.
However, it's unclear if they'll be able to stay. Asylum seekers originally from Haiti who have crossed the Canada-U.S. border could be deported back to Haiti if their application is refused, because Canadian authorities deem Haiti as a sufficiently safe country.
Mayor welcomes asylum seekers Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre took to social media to welcome the Haitian asylum seekers.
"You can count on our full co-operation," he wrote.
Quebec Immigration Minister Kathleen Weil confirmed Wednesday afternoon that Haitians make up around 70 per cent of recent asylum seekers.
She said the influx is not unprecedented and Quebec is working "hand in glove" with the federal government to process the asylum seekers in a timely manner.
"We can handle it. There is not one ministry that is concerned about that '-- the federal government is not concerned about it. We have seen volumes like this in the past," she said.
Resources strainedThe asylum seekers are usually housed for a couple of weeks, Dupuis said. PRAIDA also uses the centres to help them get their paperwork in order and find permanent housing.
An RCMP officer directs new arrivals at Roxham Road, one of the points where thousands of asylum seekers have entered Quebec illegally from the United States since January. (CBC)
Dupuis said the organization is in daily contact with the provincial government and is working to deal with demand as it comes, but they cannot predict whether the number of asylum seekers will stabilize, increase or diminish.
In first six months of 2017, there have been 4,345 illegal border crossings by asylum seekers in Canada. Border crossings into Quebec represent the vast majority '-- 3,350 of the 4,345.
Under Canada's Safe Third Country Agreement with the United States, most asylum claims made at official land border crossings with the U.S. are denied on the spot.
The agreement deems both Canada and the U.S. safe for asylum seekers and requires them to make a refugee claim in the first country they arrive in.
However, by entering Canada illegally and claiming refugee status, asylum seekers are generally allowed to stay while their refugee applications are processed.
Elite$
Queen Elizabeth Names Prince William and Kate Middleton King and Queen - Closer Weekly
Thu, 10 Aug 2017 21:39
What a royal family shake-up! Queen Elizabeth has officially named her beloved grandson Prince William and his wife, Kate Middleton, the next King and Queen of England, according to Life & Style magazine. Unfortunately, this means the Queen's eldest son, Prince Charles, has officially been skipped over in the British monarchy's line of succession.
MORE: Kate Middleton Jokes That Prince William "Would Be out the Door" If She Got Pregnant Again
"Her Majesty realized that William and Kate are the future. She has spent 65 years making sure that the House of Windsor survives, and she sees William and Kate as having the energy and star quality to do the job in a modern world. Queen Elizabeth will always do what is best for the long-term health of the monarchy," a palace insider recently told the entertainment news magazine.
"With all the drama that has surrounded the royal family over recent decades, Elizabeth realizes the monarchy no longer has the respect and power it once had," another source said. "In her eyes, William and Kate are the two people who can turn that around."
MORE: Kate Middleton Will Spend 2017 Preparing to Become Queen '-- Get the Exciting Details! (EXCLUSIVE)
Sadly, the 91-year-old Queen's decision to pass the crown on to William, 35, instead of Charles, 68, has influenced Will's relationship with his dad. "Things have been a bit strained between William and his father since the Queen's decision. But they are slowly getting used to it," the royal insider revealed. Interestingly, Charles' wife of 12 years, Camilla Parker Bowles, isn't upset by her mother-in-law's big news. "She's secretly thrilled about the Queen's decision. At 70, she's had enough drama to last her a lifetime. [But], it's hard on Charles. He has been unlucky as the man with the longest wait for a job ever," royal author Duncan Larcombe told Life & Style .
So, now that William and Kate, also 35, will become King and Queen, how will their new roles affect their two young children, Prince George, 4, and Princess Charlotte, 2? "Kate had wanted to keep a low profile for a few more years. She's desperate to remain a hands-on mom and worries about being in the spotlight more. She's concerned about the added pressure on her kids," the palace insider confessed.
MORE: Kate Middleton and Prince William Only Dress Son Prince George in Shorts '-- Find out Why!
Luckily, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge likely have some time before they take over the British throne. "It's well-known that the Queen will never abdicate the throne, and at 91, she is in great health. She intends to live to at least 100!" the royal source added.
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Can Prince Charles be skipped in the line of succession? '' Royal Central
Fri, 11 Aug 2017 18:23
Recent polls have shown that support for the Prince of Wales becoming king is constantly on the increase and at the moment is riding higher than support for the Duke of Cambridge succeeding after Her Majesty. It is an interesting point of discussion for constitutionalists, royalists and many others alike as to whether 'skipping' Prince Charles would be conceivable or indeed possible.
To start with it's worth noting that Monarchy isn't a popularity contest. The fact that there is a fixed line of succession is what makes it a Monarchy and to deviate from that, regardless of intention, would undoubtably cause questioning over the succession altogether. Why have a Monarchy if you're going to choose the heir?
Next we have the problem of whether it can actually be done. The answer to this is in fact a surprising yes. It is a well established fact that Parliament controls the succession to the crown and that Parliament can legislate for anything under a doctrine known as Parliamentary supremacy. It is, therefore, not The Queen who determines who succeeds her but Parliament.
However, it is not just constitutional points which would create problems in a move to pass over the Prince of Wales. There is also the issue of whether Prince William is ready to succeed to the throne. The general consensus is that William, and his wife, needs more time. Currently, they don't have any experience of being a full time working royal and limited experience of state affairs, which his eventual time as heir to the throne will give him the chance to learn about. The Prince of Wales, on the other hand, has been training for the role for over 60 years and has a deep understanding of the affairs of state.
Being king is a no mean feat, despite what republicans would say of the role of the Monarch. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will surely be thankful for the extra time they'll have together before taking the reigns eventually.
If Prince William succeeded The Queen we'd also then have the problem of an infant heir. That is to say, if anything did happen to the Duke, it would be Prince George who succeeded and an infant King is never good for any Monarchy as history shows and doubtless, even less good in Monarchy in the 21st century.
Whilst opinion on Prince Charles can often vary year on year there is no doubt about his commitment. Despite what people say, he genuinely cares about the country he lives in (and will one day reign over) '' he doesn't just sit idly back whilst the world moves around him, he involves himself heavily in charity work and his passion for the environment and other important causes mean he's using his position for good '' there are many of his predecessors of whom that could not be said.
In conclusion, it's fair to say whilst popularity may swing in favour of Prince William becoming king, the number of problems likely to be encountered in such a move outweigh possible benefits for Monarchy by a long shot.
photo credit (composite): chego-chego and Jason Simpson via photopincc
Could, Would, Should Prince Charles Let Will and Kate Take the British Throne? - Vogue
Fri, 11 Aug 2017 21:46
Early on Thursday, the Internet was in a tizzy, thanks to a post on Yahoo.com that said Prince William, rather than Prince Charles, was taking over the British throne from Queen Elizabeth. It was dubious at best'--Yahoo.com, which eventually deleted the post, picked it up from SheKnows, which linked to Closer Weekly, which got it from Life & Style.
But this claim wasn't a one-off. Rumors have run rampant for years about whether or not Prince Charles will be king. It was even the basis for the West End play turned made-for-BBC-movie King Charles III.
Which begs the question: What exactly will happen to Charles'--the longest-serving heir apparent in British history'--when the throne is finally his to take? Could he pass it on? Should he pass it on? Would he pass it on?
Let's start with could. The 1701 Act of Settlement states that the British monarch must be the direct Protestant descendent of the ruler, thus crowning Sophia of Hanover at the time. (Quick side note on the religious stuff: It's because the monarch is also the head of the Church of England. Also, if you are wondering who in God's name Sophia is, here's a brief explainer.) Since Prince William is Prince Charles's son and therefore the next direct Protestant descendent, there's no real legal standing forbidding him from taking over, if his father wants to step aside. And after King Edward VIII abdicated the throne in 1936, there is a precedent for an heir to refuse the throne. So, yes, it is possible.
Now, for the would. This, too, ties back to abdication. It's said that Queen Elizabeth refuses to step down, despite her advanced age, because of the dark memories that evokes: The abdication ''affected her deeply, and she is well aware how much damage an abdication can cause to the brand of the royal family,'' Gordon Rayner, former royal correspondent for the Daily Telegraph, told NBC. ''The queen made a promise to the people of the Commonwealth before she even became queen that she would devote her whole life, whether it be long or short, to the duty that she would be taking on. For her, it is a duty you carry for your whole life, and to her that means literally,'' he said.
With the queen firmly against succession drama, it seems likely that she views Charles as her rightful heir, not William. It sounds like Charles holds this view, too: Tabloids report that he's ramped up his royal responsibilities over the past few years. Just a few weeks ago, Buckingham Palace announced that he will represent the queen at the Commonwealth Games next year.
Is it possible, however, that he might give the throne to William, asks Ephraim Hardcastle, resident pundit for the Daily Mail, ''as a means of expressing regret that he had to wait so long?''
And, finally, should he? That's a whole other thing entirely. His popularity never quite recovered after many controversies involving Princess Diana'--in 1998, a year after her death, his approval rating was an abysmal 39 percent. He rebounded to 60 percent by 2016, but that's significantly lower than Prince William's approval rating (79 percent) and the queen's (81 percent). The press routinely calls him a ''prat'' and a ''twit,'' and, thanks to a slew of Diana documentaries rehashing his divorce and affair with Camilla, even more negative press is being mucked around in 2017. Another nail in the coffin: A second poll said 54 percent of people want William to take over for the queen. TL, DR: People just don't like him that much.
Plus, at age 68, Charles will be the oldest king ever to take the throne. With the monarchy routinely facing claims that it shouldn't even exist, some think a modern, well-liked monarch is a better choice. (And others think the monarchy will die out with Queen Elizabeth: ''I think, no one is saying whilst the queen is alive the monarchy should be abolished. Everybody, given her constancy and given her selflessness, thinks she's a pretty amazing woman,'' historian Dr. Anna Whitelock said. But, after the queen's death, ''the monarchy would potentially be on its last legs.''
Yet if Charles has one thing going for him, it's the wonder of tradition'--the very reason Brits tolerate paying taxes for such a posh institution. And if going by tradition, Charles is next in line and next on the throne.
Put an Egg on it!
Dutch knew about poison eggs in November - but kept quiet while exporting 700,000 to the UK
Sat, 12 Aug 2017 14:16
P oisoned eggs may have been coming to Britain for months, it has emerged, as the Netherlands was accused of keeping the scandal quiet.
It has emerged that the Dutch authorities knew about the scandal in November but did not inform the EU until nearly 8 months later on July 20.
Belgium also knew about the mass contamination in June but kept it secret for nearly two months because of a criminal investigation.
It comes after Asda, Morrisons, Sainsbury's and Waitrose were forced to urgently withdrew fresh salads, sandwiches and fillers from shelves, after it emerged they contained eggs implicated in the scandal. Around 700,000 potentially infected eggs have been distributed from the Netherlands to Britain, with the number expected to soar into the millions in the coming days.
T oday the European Commission announced it will host an international conference on the tainted eggs scandal to discuss the scandal, which has now spread to 15 countries all over the world.
In an ironic twist the meeting could be held in a building that looks like a giant egg.
The EU's Europa building has been nicknamed the ''Space Egg'' thanks to a glass lantern shaped structure inside it that resembles an egg and can be seen from the outside.
A spokesman in Brussels said the situation was ''evolving by the day'', as criminal investigators continued to hold two men arrested on Thursday for fraud following a series of raids in Belgium and the Netherlands.
The infected eggs were produced under illegal conditions where an insecticide called fipronil was being used. In large quantities it is considered to be "moderately hazardous" according to the World Health Organisation, and can have dangerous affects on people's kidneys, liver and thyroid glands.
Earlier this week major supermarkets were forced to withdraw sandwiches, salads and sandwich fillers which were feared to contain the contaminated eggs.
T hey were criticised over "double standards" for using cheap imported eggs despite only stocking British lion shelled eggs. Despite the controversy they will continue to import eggs from abroad, they said last night. Initially the Food Standards Agency claimed that 21,000 contaminated eggs had hit the UK, but this has now been established to have been a major underestimate.
The FSA now says the figure is more like 700,000, with experts predicting the figure will rise into the millions as the situation unfolds. The FSA insisted there was ''unlikely'' to be a risk to public health but admitted it was still investigating the distribution of the eggs. Stephen Kershaw, a forensic scientist at Manchester Metropolitan university said consumers would need to eat 20,000 poisoned eggs in one sitting to become ill as a result.
T his is based on a report from the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment, which said that the highest measured result for the concentration of fipronil in eggs in Belgium tested was 1.2 milligrams per kilogram.
War on Men
In the tech industry, sexism is in the water - LA Times
Thu, 10 Aug 2017 23:07
It's been a very bad summer for Silicon Valley bros.
James Damore, the Google engineer and author of the now-infamous memo on gender, ''Google's Ideological Echo Chamber,'' was fired Monday, just as Uber co-founder Garrett Camp announced that Travis Kalanick, among the bro-iest of tech bros, would not be returning as CEO of the company after he was revealed to have fostered a work culture of sexual harassment and discrimination.
This week's news follows a series of New York Times reports chronicling widespread sexual harassment of women in tech. As a result of one story, Chris Sacca of Lowercase Capital, Dave McClure of 500 Startups and the start-up advisor Marc Canter all issued mea culpas. In a clunky and tone-deaf statement, Canter acknowledged that his behavior was ''endemic of the bro culture'' that permeates the tech industry.
It will take more than a handful of PR crises and firings to change the culture in Silicon Valley, of course. But we can consider it progress that tech companies and their leaders are being forced to commit publicly to better practices, as Google CEO Sundar Pichai did Tuesday when he said in a statement that Damore's memo is ''contrary to the company's basic values and code of conduct.'' Let's hope that the summer of 2017 is the first of several stormy seasons.
Even the most successful of the senior women did not get what they wanted. They were allowed to gather crumbs, but they were not given a seat at the table. When I worked at Google as an assistant five years ago, it was not easy for employees to discern what the company's basic values were. I never heard anyone refer to an official code of conduct. We talked a lot about ''Googliness,'' which the company described as ''a mashup of passion and drive that's hard to define but easy to spot.''
The unofficial code of conduct was communicated in other ways. Though the Silicon Valley bros who fell from grace this summer had objectified or demeaned women in flagrant ways, when I worked at Google, it wasn't sexual infractions that caused many women in my department to bristle. Rather, we were aggravated by structural inequities that our male managers probably didn't even notice.
Here's the wide-angle picture. Five men helmed the office as directors, while several very capable and intelligent women shared their responsibilities but not their titles. Generally, the more senior women succeeded in so-called female realms, such as PR, human resources and administration '-- departments that were positioned to assist the directors rather than collaborate with them '-- and were rarely allowed meaningful access to the corridors of male power.
Most of the directors had a wife who worked primarily inside the home. The senior women who orbited them had husbands who did not. The directors all had assistants and, in emergencies, access to a team of additional assistants. The senior women had no assistants and were responsible for organizing their own professional and personal lives.
Ageism and sexism went hand in hand. Younger women often rose faster and were given more interesting roles than older women, perhaps because the younger women were viewed as unsaddled with family responsibilities or unlikely to present a threat. Or maybe the directors, all of whom had daughters, respected the ambitions of younger women more than the experience of the older ones.
I worked at Google for only a year, and I was not shy in my exit survey: I left because I had watched women fight to endear themselves to men who had haphazard and unresponsive management styles. Even the most successful of the senior women did not get what they wanted. They were allowed to gather crumbs, but they were not given a seat at the table.
I never met a James Damore, a Travis Kalanick, a Chris Sacca, a Dave McClure or a Marc Canter at Google. The men I knew '-- and still know '-- had no particular animus toward women. I doubt any of them knew how the women in our department, especially the more senior ones, struggled.
To address the cumulative sexism I witnessed, Google would have to invest time and resources into figuring out how the individuals in our 60-person group related to one another. For this to happen, women would need to be able to tell the truth without risking their jobs. Alphabet, Google's parent company, has more than 60,000 employees. Examining the structure of each department to this degree would be a tall order.
The worst bros are the easiest to make cases out of, and I'm glad some of them have had a very bad summer. Their downfalls will move the needle forward. But casual, everyday sexism is in the water in Silicon Valley.
Melissa Batchelor Warnke is a contributing writer to Opinion. Follow her@velvetmelvison Twitter.
War on Ca$h
Lange rijen en betaalproblemen door grote pinstoring | NOS
Thu, 10 Aug 2017 22:34
Een grote pinstoring heeft aan het begin van de avond problemen veroorzaakt. Pinautomaten en -apparaten verspreid door het hele land weigerden dienst.
De storing duurde ongeveer een kwartier. In supermarkten en restaurants konden klanten korte tijd niet afrekenen, bij sommige geldautomaten kon geen geld worden opgenomen. Daardoor ontstonden soms lange rijen.
Volgens Betaalvereniging Nederland, de organisatie die het betalingsverkeer continu in de gaten houdt, is zo'n storing zeldzaam. Hoewel er geen sprake was van een landelijke storing, waren er wel problemen verspreid door heel het land.
"In een van de landelijke knooppunten is korte tijd een storing geweest", zegt een woordvoerder. "Dat betekent dat niet alle automaten daar last van hebben, maar dat het probleem zich wel voordoet op verschillende plekken in het hele land."
Australian Government May Intensify War on Cash | BTCMANAGER
Sat, 12 Aug 2017 14:09
Australia's Black Economy Taskforce (BET) has called for a war on cash and has revealed 35 different methods of eliminating cash. The taskforce placed the blame on the consumers for encouraging the use of cash, which is being manipulated and utilized by criminals to fund large-scale fraudulent organizations.
In an interview with News.com.au, the Australian federal government's Black Economy Taskforce (BET) chair Michael Andrew explained that consumers are part of the problem and that the government will punish those that purchase products or services with cash:
''We intend to examine the merits of consumer-focused sanctions, including the loss of consumer protections, warranties and legal rights for people who make cash payments without obtaining a valid receipt. This is not simply of matter of imposing new penalties, but part of a wider cultural change agenda.''
In addition to drug traffickers and money launderers, the BET intends to regulate and crackdown on people that operate outside the tax and regulatory system of Australia. In order for the government to properly regulate the country's financial system, Andrew noted that it needs to enforce strict rules on spending habits and usage of cash.
However, analysts and experts including Consumer Action Law Centre senior policy officer Katherine Temple criticized the submission of BET, stating that the enforcement of such policies are unrealistic and completely unfair toward consumers.
''Broadly we support efforts to combat the black economy because vulnerable or disadvantaged people are often victims, but we think punishing everyday Australians for businesses not complying with their obligations is completely unfair. Consumers can't make rational payment decisions based on keeping rights that they aren't aware exist. [Policy] that is based on the notion that a consumer will make payment decisions based on rational concepts sets an unrealistically high bar which most consumers should not be expected to reach,'' Temple explained.
Analysts also criticized some of the inefficient methods proposed by the financial regulation arm of the federal government to integrate nanochips on A$50 and A$100 notes and establish short-term expiry dates on each banknote, as it would lead to a drastic increase in expenses and confusion for general consumers. Even though it is far from reality, such a consideration reinforces the attractiveness of bitcoin as a store of value and we are reminded of the demonetization in India, which led to an explosion in the use of the cryptocurrency.
Still, the federal government and BET intend to focus on the implementation of necessary policies to restrict and regulate the usage of cash. BET estimated the size of Australia's black economy to be worth up to A$50 billion ($39.45 billion). Additionally, the government revealed that tax avoidance through cash costs the government over A$10 billion ($7.89 billion) annually.
In May, the Australian government announced the elimination of a tax on bitcoin and officially recognized bitcoin as money as a part of a larger initiative to encourage the development of bitcoin, the blockchain, and fintech.
''The Government will make it easier for new innovative digital currency businesses to operate in Australia. From 1 July 2017, purchases of digital currency will no longer be subject to the GST, allowing digital currencies to be treated just like money for GST purposes,'' the Australian government wrote in its 2017/2018 budget for ''Backing Innovation and Fintech.''
More to that, the government stated that it would protect bitcoin and blockchain-related businesses, with the aim of evolving Australia into a leading global fintech hub:
''Innovation will drive productivity growth in Australia. That is why the Government's A$1.1 billion ($0.868 billion) National Innovation and Science Agenda (NISA) is designed to enable Australia to take full advantage of new economic opportunities. The Government is committed to establishing Australia as a leading global financial technology (fintech) hub and is announcing a new package that aims to position our local fintech industry as a world leader.''
It is an interesting period for the Australian finance industry, as the federal government is trying to restrict the use of cash and move its economy toward fintech and bitcoin. In the upcoming months, regulation on cash may tighten significantly as demand for bitcoin continues to increase.
Babies in Cows
Infection Linked With Placenta Consumption | Complementary and Alternative Medicine | JAMA | The JAMA Network
Thu, 10 Aug 2017 23:16
A CDC report has warned health care professionals and new mothers about infection risks associated with placenta consumption'--a rare but reportedly growing practice in the United States.
Megan May/AP Images
The caution stems from a case in Oregon in which a newborn with signs of respiratory distress was diagnosed as having penicillin-sensitive, clindamycin-intermediate group B Streptococcus agalactiae (GBS). Maternal GBS screening test results were negative; the infant was discharged after an 11-day course of ampicillin.
Five days later, the infant became irritable and was admitted to a second hospital. A blood culture again showed penicillin-sensitive, clindamycin-intermediate GBS. The mother's breast milk was GBS negative and further testing did not reveal a source of the infant's infection.
However, a physician at the hospital where the woman gave birth notified her treating physician at the second hospital that she had asked to keep her placenta when the infant was born. Placenta consumption has been promoted as a mood or energy booster and postpartum depression preventive but the report's authors said evidence to support those claims is lacking.
The mother told her physician that she had registered with a company that processes placentas into capsules that can be taken like vitamins. She was taking 2 capsules 3 times a day. A sample sent for testing showed the capsules contained penicillin-sensitive, clindamycin-intermediate GBS that was indistinguishable from the GBS cultured from the infant's blood. The report's authors attributed the baby's infection to ''high maternal colonization secondary to consumption of GBS-infected placental tissue.''
They advised that clinicians ''inquire about a history of placenta ingestion in cases of late-onset GBS infection'' and educate mothers about the potential risks.
Gene Editing Spurs Hope for Transplanting Pig Organs Into Humans - NYTimes.com
Fri, 11 Aug 2017 14:10
In a striking advance that helps open the door to organ transplants from animals, researchers have created gene-edited piglets cleansed of viruses that might cause disease in humans.
The experiments, reported on Thursday in the journal Science, may make it possible one day to transplant livers, hearts and other organs from pigs into humans, a hope that experts had all but given up.
If pig organs were shown to be safe and effective, ''they could be a real game changer,'' said Dr. David Klassen, chief medical officer at the United Network for Organ Sharing, a private, nonprofit organization that manages the nation's transplant system.
There were 33,600 organ transplants last year, and 116,800 patients on waiting lists, according to Dr. Klassen, who was not involved in the new study. ''There's a big gap between organ supply and organ demand,'' he said.
Dr. George Church, a geneticist at Harvard who led the experiments, said the first pig-to-human transplants could occur within two years.
The new research combines two great achievements in recent years '-- gene editing and cloning '-- and is unfolding quickly. But the work is novel and its course unpredictable, Dr. Klassen noted.
It may be years before enough is known about the safety of pig organ transplants to allow them to be used widely.
The idea of using pigs as organ factories has tantalized investigators for decades. Porcine organs can be the right size for human transplantation, and in theory, similar enough to function in patients.
But the prospect also raises thorny questions about animal exploitation and welfare. Already an estimated 100 million pigs are killed in the United States each year for food.
Scientists pursuing this goal argue that the few thousand pigs grown for their organs would represent just a small fraction of that total, and that they would be used to save human lives. The animals would be anesthetized and killed humanely.
Major religious groups have already weighed in, generally concluding that pig organs are acceptable for lifesaving transplants, noted Dr. Jay Fishman, co-director of the transplant program at Massachusetts General Hospital. Pig heart valves already are routinely transplanted into patients.
(Some leaders in the Jewish and Muslim communities, though, do not endorse pig kidneys for transplant, reasoning that patients with kidney failure can survive with dialysis.)
Scientists began pursuing the idea of pig organs for transplant in the 1990s. But in 1998, Dr. Fishman and his colleagues discovered that hidden in pig DNA were genes for viruses that resembled those causing leukemia in monkeys.
When researchers grew pig cells next to human embryonic kidney cells in the laboratory, these viruses '-- known as retroviruses '-- spread to the human cells. Once infected, the human cells were able to infect other human cells.
Fears that pig organs would infect humans with bizarre retroviruses brought the research to a halt. But it was never clear how great this threat really was, and as years have gone by, many experts, including Dr. Fishman, have become less concerned.
Some patients with diabetes have received pig pancreas cells, hidden in a sort of sheath so the immune system will not reject them. And burn patients sometimes get grafts made of pig skin. The pig skin is eventually rejected by the body, but it was never meant to be permanent anyway.
Interactive Feature | Can Gene Editing Actually Do That? A new technique known as Crispr has revolutionized humans' ability to edit DNA. See if you can identify whether a given development has already happened, could eventually happen or is pure fiction.
There is no evidence that any of these patients were infected with porcine retroviruses. In any event, said Dr. A. Joseph Tector, a transplant surgeon at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, pig retroviruses are very sensitive to the drugs used to treat H.I.V.
''We don't know that if we transplant pig organs with the viruses that they will transmit infections, and we don't know that the infections are dangerous,'' Dr. Fishman said. ''I think the risk to society is very low.''
Dr. Church and his colleagues thought the retrovirus question could be resolved with Crispr, the new gene-editing technology. They took cells from pigs and snipped the viral DNA from their genomes. Then the scientists cloned the edited cells.
Each pig cell was brought back to its earliest developmental stage and then slipped into an egg, giving it the genetic material to allow the egg to develop into an embryo. The embryos were implanted in sows and grew into piglets that were genetically identical to the pig that supplied the initial cell.
Cloning often fails; most of the embryos and fetuses died before birth, and some piglets died soon after they were born. But Dr. Church and his colleagues ended up with 15 living piglets, the oldest now 4 months old. None have the retroviruses.
Dr. Church founded a company, eGenesis, in hopes of selling the genetically altered pig organs. Eventually, Dr. Church says, the company wants to engineer pigs with organs so compatible with humans that patients will not need to take anti-rejection drugs.
Dr. David Sachs, a professor of surgery at Columbia University, was skeptical that it would be straightforward to make pigs with such compatible organs.
''I am afraid that he may find these goals more difficult to achieve than he expects, but I would be happy to be mistaken,'' said Dr. Sachs, who is also studying ways to create pigs suitable for organ donation.
Part of the organ rejection problem is already being solved with gene editing and cloning. It is an issue that emerged in the early 1980s when surgeons put a pig heart into a baboon. To their shock, the baboon died in minutes.
Researchers soon discovered that pig organs are covered with carbohydrate molecules that mark the organs for immediate destruction by human antibodies.
Dr. David Cooper, at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and his colleagues, including Dr. Tector, have used gene editing and cloning to make pigs without the carbohydrates on the surfaces of their organs.
They successfully transplanted hearts and kidneys from those pigs into monkeys and baboons. So far, the animals have lived more than a year with no problems, Dr. Tector said.
They also gave insulin-producing islet cells from a pig to diabetic monkeys, and the monkeys lived for a year without requiring insulin. In partnership with United Therapeutics, the group has already built a farm for gene-edited pigs.
Dr. Church says he, too, is making pigs whose organs lack the carbohydrates, and he wants to combine the two advances so the organs also do not have retroviruses. The Alabama group, though, does not think pig retroviruses are a major concern.
Surgeons are used to evaluating the risks of infection from transplanted organs, Dr. Tector said. The advantage of the transplant to the desperately ill recipient often outweighs that risk.
To some, the idea of growing pigs to create organs is distasteful. Many patients may prefer a human organ, Dr. Cooper acknowledged, but that is not always possible.
''About 22 people a day die waiting for a transplant,'' he said. ''If you could help them with a pig organ, wouldn't that be wonderful?''
Venezuela
The Battle for Venezuela and Its Oil
Sat, 12 Aug 2017 17:01
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Extended transcript:
Jeremy Scahill: Eva Golinger, welcome to Intercepted.
Eva Golinger: Thanks for having me, Jeremy.
JS: Now there's a lot I want to get into with you. I want to talk about some of the critique of Maduro coming from the left, not just in Venezuela, but elsewhere in the world. But I want to begin by asking your response to what increasingly feels like a kind of war-posturing from the Trump Administration. Statements came from his national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, they've now designated Maduro. The New York Times is saying that he belongs in a camp intellectually or personally of people like Kim Jong-un and Bashar al-Assad. Your response to what's coming out of this administration and from the New York Times about the situation in Venezuela.
EG: There's been an ongoing escalation coming out of the United States government against the Venezuelan government, since Hugo Chavez was in power. And we've seen an increase over the years as the Venezuelan government has sort of dug in deeper with their ideological model, leaning more towards this anti-imperialist alliance internationally, the more they've opened themselves up to countries like Russia and China and Iran as their trade partners. And then overall, I mean, taking a position that is adversarial to the U.S.
So it's nothing new, it's just that it's '-- it's more direct now. I think that a lot of the interaction before in the posturing of the United States was done more in a lower profile way.
I mean, it was President Obama who declared Venezuela an unusual and extraordinary threat to the United States and put the first sort of sanctions on Venezuela officially. And that was just a couple years ago. And those were renewed this year before Trump really had a full understanding of what was taking place. So it's really just been an ongoing escalation.
From the time Chavez first was elected in '98 and those initial years when he didn't comply with what the U.S. was looking for and always had in Venezuela as a client state that's when the U.S. backed a coup against Chavez in 2002. And subsequently that sort of aggression just began increasing over the years.
So, I mean, now we're just seeing sort of the culmination of it and the fact that they're buckling down more. But, in the end, the relationship between the two countries remains generally the same. Venezuela is one of the principal suppliers of oil to the U.S. I mean, it's a commercial relationship. They are interdependent. And in the end, there's a lot of rhetoric back and forth. And, yes, there's definitely an escalation of it now under Trump because the people sort of '-- that are pushing this this particular escalation, right now, that have Trump's ear '-- are the more reactionary sectors of the Republican Party. Marco Rubio for example.
I mean, that's what they've been looking for. They've been looking for a way to push regime change in Venezuela. But it really has nothing to do with a change in policy. It's been a sort of a state policy of the United States towards Venezuela since the Chavez government.
JS: What did you make of Jeremy Corbyn's statement this week, where he said he condemns violence on all sides?
EG: Well I mean that's a giant piece of the narrative that's been missing on what's been taking place in Venezuela. You see a lot, I mean particularly here in the U.S. '-- in the New York Times, in The Washington Post, in the Wall Street Journal, other media CNN, NBC '-- you hear a lot about these opposition protests being repressed by the government but you're not getting a full picture.
Because while there is a state reaction taking place, there is repression with tear gas and rubber bullets, you're not seeing the other side of it, which is that those are not exactly peaceful democratic protests. There are smaller factions. I mean, there are parts of the opposition in Venezuela that act within a democratic framework, but there is a very violent faction that's gotten out of control. It's anarchical. I mean, they where they're using Molotov cocktails, homemade bombs and weapons, and they're using them against the state security forces.
So I mean, I always think about it is, if this were happening in Washington D.C. or even here in the in the streets of New York where I am, I mean, it wouldn't last more than an hour. I mean, if we had that where they're burning buildings, they're burning buses, they're burning people '-- a lot of times innocent people. So far at least, what's been so far investigated by state officials, being the public prosecutor's office that's been critical against the Maduro government recently is that it's really an equal number of deaths on both sides can be attributed to the violent opposition protesters '-- in some case inflicting the injuries upon themselves or against innocent bystanders, or against police or national guard forces, and then those on the side of the government. It's not to justify it in any way; it's just to show a more accurate picture of what's going on.
There's been violence by both sides and overall, I mean, the opposition leadership '-- the anti-government leadership in Venezuela '-- have been reluctant to come out and fully condemn those types of violent protests. In fact, they've been encouraging them. Because they've seen it as sort of this way to heat up the streets to pressure the government to '-- I mean, overall what they've been looking for is for Maduro to resign, for regime change, which they've been unsuccessful.
JS: I want to just ask you directly if you believe that this recent voting for a national constituent assembly '-- do you believe that that was a legitimate, free, fair vote and that the tallies announced by the government are accurate?
EG: There's a lot of indication that it wasn't a free and fair vote '-- that the tallies are not accurate. But there's another piece of that that also is always missing from any sort of conversation around that. Which is that in the end, it didn't matter because they pushed forward with this election of delegates to a constituent assembly to rewrite a constitution that was already one of the most lauded constitutions in the world that had been done and written by a very participatory open process that was led, in fact, by Hugo Chavez in 1999. So there was a lot of questioning, including from myself, as to why would this be the answer to Venezuela's problems now when we already had a constitution there that seemed so all-encompassing of what was necessary to move forward in that country in terms of human rights.
JS: So why did they do it?
EG: Well that's one of the biggest questions. So I mean, in the end, that vote was just about choosing the slates of people that had already been nominated by the government's party to participate in rewriting a constitution. It didn't matter, in the end, how many votes they got. The fact that the numbers may have been fudged by the government is an absolutely absurd move on their part because they were just trying to posture in front of the opposition who had conducted also an unverified and unofficial plebiscite weeks earlier where they say they got over seven million votes saying that they didn't want this process to happen.
So it was really just sort of a back and forth showoff between both sides, in terms of the numbers. But it wouldn't have mattered had the government gotten four million votes in the past election on July 30th, it still would have gone forward. So it doesn't matter. I mean, they were doing it anyway.
JS: Well, it matters because people who play with votes '-- that is an inherently sort of authoritarian move to fabricate vote tallies. You know, Saddam Hussein used to win by 101 percent of the vote. Now people '-- my guess would be that he, because of the nature of the repression in Iraq, that he would have probably won anyway in some kind of an election. But the idea that you would tamper with it at all completely undermines the idea that your forces are the pro-democratic forces. No?
EG: Absolutely. Absolutely. But, and there's no question, I mean, it seems as though the numbers were fudged by more than a million votes, so it put them over the threshold of what the opposition alleges they got in their unofficial plebiscite. So it was just to say, ''we have more than you do so then therefore we have a legitimate mandate.''
And for me, it's extremely disturbing because Venezuela since 2004 has had one of the most bulletproof election systems, with electronic elections machines that are backed up with a paper ballot and multiple sort of steps along the way to prevent fraud such as: fingerprints, indelible ink, signing a notebook '-- you know, where you sign in, you show your ID card, it's checked against the information in the notebook. And I mean, you go through all these steps. In this particular election, almost all of those were eliminated. They had no notebooks. They had no indelible ink. There weren't consistent fingerprint machines throughout. So, there is a lot of evidence to show that the vote '-- definitely the number could have been. And that's unfortunate because it was a highly credible election system and now it's been put into doubt.
And the thing about it though, Jeremy, is that on every election that the opposition has lost against this Bolivarian revolution or Chavez movement and now Maduro government, they've always cried fraud. It didn't matter how bulletproof the system was. So now, saying fraud, and it may in fact be fraud, it just seems like such a loss on the government side. They should have accepted whatever numbers they had, and said, ''Look, in the midst of all this violence and this economic crisis, we were still able to garner around 6.6 million votes.'' I mean, that that should be a showing of force.
But unfortunately they took this path and now there's a constituent assembly in place that is a supra, supreme power that has now declared that they will be in power a minimum '-- or maybe a maximum '-- of two years, which is 1999, after Chavez ran on a party platform in 1998 to rewrite the constitution. He was elected by a majority based on that as being one of the primary actions he would take. Then it was put to a vote after he was elected, to whether or not people actually wanted to proceed. More than 70 percent of those participating said yes. Then they elected the members. Then it was done in this extremely open, transparent way. You know, there were drafts of the constitution passed around and discussed in communities. And then it was put to another vote to actually ratify it by the people on a national level.
So I mean, we're missing almost all of those steps this time around and it lasted four months, it had a mandate of four months. And it wasn't all-supreme, that it could be a legislator and an executor and an enforcer, which is what we're seeing now. So that's why there's a lot of concern coming from people like myself where I'm saying, ''Wait a minute, what happened to our democratic framework that has been so upheld throughout this time period, despite a lot of cracks in the system along the way?'' Now we're seeing a major rupture.
JS: Well '-- and I don't know anything about Maduro's family members and their qualifications, but just the idea that you had his son and his wife now part of this constituent assembly, combined with what seems to be pretty clear case of manipulating the numbers, albeit perhaps unnecessarily as you say. I mean, the aesthetic there is really bad for Maduro.
EG: Of course. The optics are terrible. But you have to understand that corruption and nepotism are parts of Venezuelan society. I mean it's a major oil producing country. It's ironic, because when Hugo Chavez won in 1998, his two principal sort of promises in addition to the constitution were eradicating poverty and corruption. So, I mean, it's not that corruption disappeared under Chavez. Some would say it proliferated. But having myself been on the inside, I could say that Chavez was sort of a controlling force. He was someone who he himself wasn't corrupt, although many of those around him were. But the governments that were in place before he was elected were extremely corrupt. I mean, that's why people were so disgusted with the sort of two-party system that was in place in Venezuela since the fall of the last dictatorship in 1958, and they wanted to break free with it.
When I first went to Venezuela in 1993, the country was in complete collapse. There was an economic crisis, the currency was devalued and the inflation was increasing. But I mean, many of the things that are happening now, which is why it's so ironic. And then there was a suspension of constitutional rights. There was a national curfew. There was a forced military draft. I mean, their poverty had grown to around 80 percent, you know? There was an elite control over the country's oil wealth and the oil industry despite the fact that it was nationalized in 1976.
So when people voted for Hugo Chavez and this idea of a Bolivarian revolution, they wanted to break free of a corrupt system. So the fact that now it's sort of coming full cycle and we're seeing the nepotism reemerging, the corruption proliferating, the exclusionary tactics taking place, the sort of suppression of dissent, the poverty increasing, the inflation, the economy falling. Again, I mean, when one looks at it and says, ''Well, is this just the destiny of a country that has the bittersweet curse of oil?''
A customer shops for groceries at a supermarket with scarce supply in Caracas, Venezuela, on July 25, 2017.
Photo: Carlos Becerra/Bloomberg News/Getty Images
JS: Well, and I wanted to ask you about that. One of the critiques that both Naomi Klein and Noam Chomsky '-- again, these are North American voices '-- but one of their critiques has been that there's been this massive overreliance on oil revenue and that that's part of what has fueled the anti-democratic realities that we're seeing unfold in parts of the situation in Venezuela.
EG: Absolutely. But I mean, again, it's nothing new. It's how the country has been functioning for decades. It's just that before, most of that oil wealth was going into the pockets of an elite. And under these governments, Chavez, Maduro '-- Maduro has essentially tried to continue, ineffectively, the social policies that made Chavez so popular. But Chavez, also when he came to power, oil was at $7 a barrel. So I mean, it's not as though they always had this $100-a-barrel to thrive off of in the country. The oil prices went up gradually over the years due to the the wars that the, you know, U.S. was engaged in the Middle East, as well as the role that Chavez, Venezuela and other countries played in sort of rejuvenating OPEC, of which Venezuela was a founding member. And they started to get the price of oil up and more focused on the oil producing countries rather than the oil consuming countries.
But certainly, when oil was reaching $60, $70 a barrel, Venezuela was spending lavishly not just on social programs, but on infrastructure, on all kinds of international agreements and buying things. And I mean, one of the '-- Chavez himself had, and I mean, I recall being in, like, a situational room in the presidential palace where he had a huge map about how his vision for the country was to invest those natural resources and strategic resources. It's not just oil, it's gas, it's all kinds of minerals, heavy metals, to use those instead of just export them. To be able to have the technology inside the country, to use them to build up the infrastructure in other domestic industries to reduce dependency on oil. You know, something that never happened. I mean, they nationalized all these state industries and the people that were charged with it were incredibly corrupt and inept and incompetent. And so they ran them into the ground.
And none of it ever worked. But, I mean, the idea was there and now Maduro talks about it, too, even though there seems to be a complete disconnect between the discourse and the reality. And so, the dependency continues. And certainly, I mean, it's a huge cause of the crisis the country is facing today is that over dependence and reliance on oil. Not just on the part of the government, but also by the people, who have become dependent on it in terms of expecting their piece of it '-- you know, the sort of overall entitlement that that people feel when they live in a system like that where the state is all-encompassing and provides so many of their basic services.
JS: It does seem that there is a trend under Maduro that I think echoes some of what we've seen in other governments in the region where all of the crises and all of the problems are essentially blamed on the United States or U.S. intervention. Now, of course, you wrote an entire book detailing U.S. dirty tricks and intervention in Venezuela, ''The Chavez Code,'' where you examined all of this in detail. Clearly the United States is constantly interfering in the affairs of countries around the world, but certainly throughout Central and South America. But it seems that that becomes a little bit too convenient to just constantly say, ''Oh, well this is because the United States. This is because of U.S.-backed groups. This is all a U.S.-created opposition.'' I mean, am I wrong? I mean, it seems like that that is sort of answer number one from the pro-Maduro camp.
EG: Well, I mean, it's a little more complex. It's not a simple yes or no answer. I mean certainly, I think there's a culture, maybe a worldwide phenomenon of particularly leaders refusing to take responsibility for their actions. But I mean again, I keep going back to Chavez because, I mean, the Maduro government uses Chavez to justify everything they're doing. So, I keep looking back and sort of studying and recalling his particular behavior in similar situations, or when he was facing a crisis. And one of the things that made Chavez so popular initially was when he engaged in a military rebellion or a coup against this corrupt President in 1992 and it failed. And he was the only one '-- Hugo Chavez, this young lieutenant colonel, came out in front of the cameras and took responsibility for the failure. And for Venezuelans, it was like a shock and awe moment. I mean, here we have someone in a position of leadership who's actually saying: ''I failed and I take responsibility.'' And, you know, there will be more, to be continued. The story will be continued, which it most certainly was.
But, I mean, that was that was sort of a change, a shift that was very attractive to a lot of people in a country where so many had just blamed others for their mistakes or just turned their back on it. And now we're seeing that again. I mean, that's been one of my criticisms. Yes, there's no question. Is the US funding the opposition in Venezuela? Absolutely. They've been doing it for years, you know? I mean, I've thoroughly documented it by using the Freedom of Information Act and uncovering the U.S.' own documents where they show that they're funding the opposition.
Are they backing and pushing for regime change? Totally. I mean, Mike Pompeo said it the other day in a public forum that they're doing everything they can to seek regime change. I mean, we've heard it from Rex Tillerson the other day, the State Department, straight out, saying it. Maduro has to decide whether or not he wants a future, otherwise '-- I mean, now I'm paraphrasing '-- will decide it for him, something to that effect.
So, are they doing that? Yes. Is there some forms of economic warfare, of propaganda war? Yes there is. But are there mistakes and responsibilities on the part of the government? Absolutely. And I mean, there's been widespread mismanagement. They've made horrific economic decisions in terms of the currency and these extreme currency controls that have skyrocketed the inflation in a parallel black market for the dollar. I mean '-- and then at the same time, the contracts that the government has engaged with companies to supply food products and all kinds of other consumer products to the countries, they've been rife with corruption. There's been commissions skimmed off the top. I mean, there's over $300 billion dollars that have been embezzled out of the country over probably the past, like, four or five years that have been unaccounted for.
So I mean, the government can't just say, ''Well we have no role in this.'' Or the fact that so many of these nationalized industries, not the oil as much, but even so '-- I mean, that they're not functioning to capacity. Some has to do with external sabotage, refusal to supply parts that are needed, to fix things, stuff like that, but other others have to do with the government's own decision.
So I mean, it's not always the boogeyman's fault. But the U.S. certainly has a role '-- an open, notorious role in not only backing an anti-government, undemocratic in many ways, opposition in Venezuela and promoting regime change.
I mean '-- and that's the other factor in this, is that the government of course is in power, the Maduro government, so they bear always a larger responsibility for what's happening in the country than those outside of it. But there's no question that the opposition represents sort of the old school wealthy elite that control the private enterprises that have run Venezuela for decades. And, they've played a role in hoarding products and just overall sort of sabotage to try to use that concept that that was applied in Chile against Salvador Allende in the early 1970s make the economy scream.
JS: But you're of course talking about some of these groups that have received an enormous amount of support and money and consultants, et cetera, from the United States and other powers that have intervened. But certainly, you also have a significant swath of Venezuelan society that also is opposed to Maduro that is not on the U.S. payroll.
EG: Absolutely. I mean, it would be outrageous to say that they're all on a payroll, or they're paid protesters. That reminds me of Donald Trump saying that about anyone who protests against him. It's ridiculous. No. I mean the thing is that now '-- Chavez was in office from essentially 1999 until he passed away in early 2013, and now Maduro's been in office ever since.
So, we're looking over nearly 18 years, basically. I mean, there's a generation, a complete generation that has grown up only knowing this government. And so, of course, I mean it, that they blame this government for the problems that they are experiencing in the country '-- rightfully so. They have no reference of how it was before. I mean, a lot of times this government likes to say this government in Venezuela, ''Oh they have no idea how it was before, when things were repressive, when there was real persecution, when there was torture and when there was no distribution of the oil wealth and when the poverty rates were so high.''
I mean, that for many people today is an unknown past. They only care about what's happening now. So there's a percentage of the population that sticks by this government because they don't want what they see as the old guard to get back into power because they fear that things will return to how they were before. They fear that they'll become invisible again and marginalized and excluded and persecuted. And they're probably right, in a lot of that. Especially because when these same opposition sort of leaders that are today facing off with Maduro, were the ones who executed the coup in 2002 against Chavez. And when they took over for a brief 48-hour period, that's exactly what they did. They dissolved the constitution, all the powers. They persecuted and killed people in the streets that were identified with Chavez, with Chavismo, you know? They started to roll back everything they possibly could and wanted to privatize everything.
So I mean, there's a reference for the fact that people stick by this government. What they say essentially is: ''Yeah, we know they're corrupt. Yeah, we know things aren't great, but the alternative is worse.'' And then you have on the opposition side, those saying: ''No way. This is a terrible government. Things are terrible for us, we just want a change.'' And they don't really care.
I mean, Venezuela's a crisis of leadership because the opposition is not offering any kind of alternative leadership that really gives people something that they can look at in a positive way for the future. It's either sort of the older guard or the current guard, you know? And both have shown that they haven't governed in a way that's been favorable to the people. At least in terms of the Maduro government now and those in the opposition leadership in the past.
JS: Right. And I most certainly agree with your history there about the outside forces that supported that coup and then what the coup masters wanted to do. What I find more interesting when someone like you and someone like me is discussing this is sort of how the left views this situation. And I've been reading various statements from groups of people '-- some of them people that served as foreign ministers, academics, political figures under Hugo Chavez, others that are from broader coalitions within Latin America '-- and, on the one hand, you have certain people within Venezuela and in the region who believe that defending the Venezuelan state, even with its flaws, is necessary because it's an anti-imperialist and popular government. And then you have other groups that are recognizing everything you're saying about the nature of some of the opposition groups, but are calling Maduro's government increasingly delegitimize and authoritarian.
And I wanted to ask you, given that you knew Hugo Chavez well, that you wrote this book exposing U.S. interference in Venezuela, based on the United States government's own documents: Do you believe that what Maduro and his allies are doing right now betrays the legacy of Hugo Chavez?
EG: I think in some ways it's on that path, certainly. I think that there's a lot of '-- there certainly isn't a conscientious effort to betray Chavez's legacy, but one of my main issues '--
JS: I think it's a pretty conscientious effort when you cook the books on a referendum.
EG: Well, right, that type of behavior to me is completely unacceptable and obviously betrays that legacy and not just the legacy of Chavez, but of the whole Venezuelan democratic structure that's been reinforced, one was hoping, in this sort of more participatory democracy over the past '-- or at least up until about 2012, when before things started to completely fall apart.
But yeah, I mean, I think, it's difficult because these are the people that were charged with sort of leading the movement forward, but at the same time there's a circle of people in there '-- in power now in Venezuela '-- who were notoriously corrupt. Actually some of them, Chavez himself removed from government, wasn't forceful enough in terms of imposing or having them go through a justice system, due process, but remove them for corruption. And now they're back in.
So, in those ways to me that's a betrayal of the fact that there's a much more '-- an elitist structure in place. That even though the rhetoric, a lot of the rhetoric, remains the same, and even though there is still '-- and I mean that's a main part of the narrative that's missing. We can criticize the actions of the Maduro government, and we can say some of them are betraying Chavez's legacy, but they're not the only ones who matter here.
And we can also come out against any kind of U.S. intervention or efforts to impose regime change, as would be the same in any country around the world '-- violating the sovereignty of another nation is unacceptable. But, at the same time, there still are millions of people in grassroots movements who are fighting for their democracy, and they have their issues as well with the people who are in power. But they're not willing to let go and give up and cede their space to those on the far right wing who would take power were this present government to lose power.
I mean, Venezuela doesn't have any middle ground at this time, you know? So that's why I think there's a lot on the people on the outside, on the left, who are saying let's just criticize and speak up against foreign intervention in Venezuela, and say nothing about Maduro. There are those who are saying, ''No, no, we need to talk about the increasing authoritarian characteristics of this government. The betrayal, maybe, of aspects of Chavez's legacy and all that was achieved under a Bolivarian Revolution that we're now seeing come unraveled.'' And there are those saying, ''No, we need to stick by Maduro and just back him and keep our mouths shut.''
And I think it all is so nuanced. I mean, all of that debate needs to be had. At the same time, you have to look at, well, what is the role of people who are not directly involved in that movement, and which are the voices and the people who really matter who are in that movement. Is it Maduro himself, and the people right around him in the structure of power at the top, or is it the grassroots, the social movements, the workers, the community organizers, the people who are actually the ones trying, struggling to hold on to anything that's left of this movement that they have been building and empowering themselves with now over the past fifteen years or so?
I mean, I think that's the conversation that needs to be had. Those people are missing from the narrative. We hear from the opposition and the U.S. media all the time, we hear from all the critics, but we never hear from people. I'm not saying people who come out and say, ''Oh, I love Maduro. I support Maduro.'' But people in communities, the poorer people and the working class. I mean, that's the majority of people really who comprise the Chavez movement in Venezuela. It's this elite power structure that's corrupted at the top.
JS: Who are the most powerful opposition figures in Venezuela right now?
EG: You have these sort of family, wealthy family legacies like Leopoldo Lopez, who's in the headlines as a political prisoner. He comes from one of the wealthiest families in the nation, big business owners and old wealth. Henrique Capriles Radonski, who was the candidate who lost against Maduro and had previously lost against Chavez in presidential runs. They come from different parts '-- the opposition is comprised of over a dozen different parties.
Then you have, like '-- and Henry Ramos Allup, who was a leader of the older AD party, Democratic Action, or he's in an adeco, as they say. And other parties have sort of fallen apart and regrouped a lot of that with funding from the National Endowment for Democracy and USAID. But still there are, there's a group of different parties. You have far right reactionaries like Maria Corina Machado, another one who comes from the old guard, wealthy elite, family wealth in Venezuela who ran the country before.
So I mean, what you don't have on the opposition side are leaders who have come from the grassroots like you have on the government side, you see? Because Maduro himself '-- we can say all kinds of things about him today, but he's from the working class '-- he was a bus driver, he was a union organizer just as Chavez was, from a poor working-class family from the plains of Venezuela.
And a lot of the people around Maduro are not people who came from wealth or people who are from the working class. So, I mean, that's part of it, is that the opposition has a complete disconnect with the majority of Venezuelans. Yes, they connect with the upper-middle classes, which are the voices you see and you hear in most international media, particularly in the U.S., because they're well educated. They speak English. A lot of them live here, you know? They are involved in the groups of power and circles of power in Washington and here in New York financial circles. And so, they're the ones that you hear the most. But that's not '-- their voices are valid. I would never say that they're not valid and that they don't have a significant representation in the country today. But certainly there's a huge piece that's missing, which is the vast majority of Venezuelans that are only there not necessarily looking for an ideological component in their government, they're looking for a government that's going to meet their needs. That's going to help the country move forward.
And that's why Chavez initially connected with that large percentage of people in the country '-- because that was his promise and he identified with them. And they identified with him. And so that sort of propelled his leadership forward. And initially he was successful with those policies that catered to that majority and provided for them.
And so now that the economy has hit rock bottom and the country doesn't have the same type of economic situation that it had just a few years ago, those people's needs aren't being met in the same way. And so they're looking for change. But the change isn't necessarily ideological for a lot of people in Venezuela. They just want leaders that are going to be sincere and honest, and who are going to govern in favor of the majority of people in the country. And not looking to get wealthy off of the oil, which is what the opposition did before and which seems to be what some of the people in power are doing today.
JS: Eva, describe what your book, ''The Chavez Code,'' investigated, and just give a kind of brief thumbnail sketch of your research that went into that book and what the conclusions were.
EG: So, ''The Chavez Code,'' which was my first book '-- I've written several since then '-- but ''The Chavez Code'' was the result of an investigation I did using the Freedom of Information Act to declassify U.S. government documents. And initially the idea was to do it in real time, because the coup against Chavez had just happened in 2002 and it was an unknown whether or not the U.S. government would release any documents just a year after, which is when the investigation began and I began doing the FOIA requests.
And that must have been, either Venezuela wasn't a priority or they weren't thinking about any kind of impact on releasing those documents. But I literally got thousands of documents from different U.S. agencies, including some top-secret CIA briefs around the days of the coup that clearly indicated the U.S. not only was funding the opposition before and after, but also had the who, what, where, when and why of everything about the coup. And there was military involvement. There were all kinds of different aspects that came out in those documents.
So, that that book in particular, ''The Chavez Code,'' really focused on what the documents the U.S. government documents themselves revealed about a U.S. role in the coup against Chavez and sort of what was behind that, what were they looking to do.
I also had a lot of documents since then that date back into the 90s, which is interesting just to mention. I did a book on some of these documents that showed'-- and I know that WikiLeaks has recently published also, as well some older documents from the U.S. government about Venezuela, which just shows what the priority was. And even State Department cables from back in the early '90s talked about how important Venezuela was to U.S. interests, not just because of the oil, but because of its geopolitical positioning in the region as the port of South America and the fact that they needed Venezuela to be the example of democracy for the region '-- as you know, a democracy that was clearly subordinate to U.S. agenda so that other countries would replicate that model.
Again, we saw that completely turned around when Chavez won office and then began a model that became replicated throughout the region, in terms, some have called it the pink tide, but we saw leftist governments winning in Bolivia and Ecuador and Argentina and Brazil and things sort of '-- the tables turned. And now we're seeing them turn back again as the right wing and U.S.-favorable governments have risen again in Latin America.
JS: Now with the exception of designating Maduro, the Trump Administration seems to be essentially continuing, albeit with its own sort of spin, the basic U.S. policy toward Venezuela, at least publicly. What does this mean that Maduro has been designated and that assets have been frozen?
EG: Well it doesn't mean much inside Venezuela. In fact, it's seen as a badge of honor. Every time someone has been singled out by the U.S. government in recent years and given one of these sanctions, they have been awarded by Maduro himself recently, this sword of Bolivar, which is a replica of Simon Bolivar's sword, the founding father of Venezuela and other countries in South America. And it's seen as one of the highest honors.
And actually they were running a hash tag sort of campaign a few days ago saying #iwantmysanction. So it seems to kind of backfire because it really rallies the people and the troops around the government in the face of an external threat.
I know that the U.S. thinks that this is a strategy that they will turn Maduro himself into a pariah president or dictator, but, in the end, I mean, the Western world can come out against Venezuela. First of all, they're not cutting off the oil supply. Were they to do that, they would harm more U.S. interests probably than in Venezuela practically, since it's 30 percent of the oil supply to the United States and they have six refineries here in the United States. And Venezuela owns the Citgo gas chain, which has thousands of gas stations throughout the country.
But, as long as Venezuela maintains their commercial ties and their strategic alliance with countries like Russia and China, they're not going to back down in the face of an external threat. They're just going to get stronger in terms of doubling down. And, I mean, I think that's something that it seems that to me that the U.S. government, or those who have the ear of whoever's conducting that particular foreign policy fail to understand. And they underestimate the impact of it.
JS: Right, but I also want to point out, I mean, it's also fascinating that in the New York Times editorial '-- not an op-ed, but an actual unsigned editorial from the New York Times editorial board '-- they caution against sanctions by the United States. And I just want to read you this sentence: ''Any sanctions by the United States, aside from the dubious moral authority of the Trump Administration, feed Mr. Maduro's claims of an imperial America seeking to crush Venezuela.'' It's interesting that that's what they identify as the downside of sanctions, without mentioning the fact that they have the refineries in America, that they own the Citgo gas chain, that they're a major supplier to the United States. It's just, well, this would feed Maduro's ego and his claim to be standing up to the imperialist Yankee.
EG: Right. And I mean, it goes beyond that. Well, first of all, there was an extreme lobbying effort that's been going on over the past few weeks in Washington by U.S. oil companies and other supply companies against any kind of broader sanctions against Venezuela's oil industry. So obviously that's been successful so far.
But, it goes beyond just the fact that the U.S. needs the oil. They also don't want to just hand all of it over to Russia and China and open the whole door to their return into this hemisphere. So there's that geopolitical importance as well, as somehow maintaining that sort of bizarre tie with Venezuela, despite the rhetoric on both sides coming out of Venezuela as well. I mean, one day you have Maduro saying, ''I aspire to shake Trump's hand.'' And the next day you have him saying, ''Trump, Yankee go home.'' You know? I mean, so it's the same. It's like this schizophrenic discourse on both sides because they can't get away from that dependency that both countries have.
And at the same time, I mean, I '-- having known personally Nicolas Maduro '-- I know that he strives for that type of legitimacy. He was elected with less than two points. He's undergone severe crises since he's been in office. He never aspired to be president. It's not something he dreamed of or worked for his whole life. And now he's in this position where he's become this international pariah in the Western world and he's striving for legitimacy, not just amongst his own people, but also internationally. And that, unfortunately, starts with the United States.
So they've been making all kinds of overtures to the Trump Administration since late last year '-- lobbying efforts '-- and they even gave over a half a billion dollars to Trump's inauguration fund. I mean, it's amazing the efforts people undergo to try to get on the good side of a government that's clearly hostile as the U.S. has been to Venezuela.
But certainly I think that the sanctions '-- I don't think the U.S. really has many options at this stage there. They've been trying to work regionally to promote regime change. Those efforts have failed. Even though right wing governments have come back in a lot of Latin America, it's not uniform and there are many of those governments still would refuse to endorse any kind of intervention into Venezuela. That would just set a precedent that would be very bad for the whole region. It could work against them as well.
JS: Well, and if Venezuela was producing vegetable oil instead of black gold, I think we'd see a very different situation. Eva, as we as we wrap up, I want to ask you: Given that you know personally so many of the players in this government in Venezuela, but also in broader Venezuela society '-- that you talk to people from a lot of different factions and perspectives '-- what do you think would be the most effective path forward given now that the United States has publicly taken this very hostile position toward Maduro, and that you have an increasing chorus of voices including people that are certainly not on the U.S. payroll, basically saying, ''Look, Maduro, you're tilting toward authoritarianism here.'' What should happen going forward in order to resolve this?
EG: I wish that they hadn't moved forward with this rewriting of the constitution and creating this sort of supra government, because it does make it more difficult to find a solution to the crisis. But I do believe, and I would continue to push for a dialogue between all the different factions in the country and to look for more reasonable elements as well within them as '-- and then of course holding elections. The problem with the elections '-- they're supposed to be regional elections. They were supposed to have been last year for governors and mayors and then presidential elections next year. The problem now is that because of the fact that the electoral system may have been compromised '-- most likely was in this past election '-- because of the fact that, now there's a supra government body in place that could decide whether or not elections take place. Or even if those elections take place, they'll still have power above whoever wins office. So, it seems as though there needs to be some negotiating going on in terms of setting clear lines and a structure for how things are going to evolve. There has to be an electoral way out. There cannot be a regime change, not a coup, not any kind of anarchical, violent protests in the streets to push the country further to a civil war.
Venezuela is a country with a lot of guns and it's grown increasingly violent over the years. People have become more and more sort of radicalized in their positions, and it is bordering that type of a situation. And I think all efforts, internationally, as well as those internally '-- the different power factions '-- should be looking for a negotiated way out that would have to include some kind of truth and justice commission, amnesty for those who have been involved in all the events and developments over the past couple years. Because you can't find a way out of the situation if people feel as though they're going to be persecuted once they're out of power.
On both sides there have been crimes and it's just an unfortunate reality. So, if we want to move Venezuela forward to a more peaceful resolution and away from a civil war, which is what it could become, then there needs to be some kind of a truth and justice commission, similar to what we've seen in neighboring Colombia, which is obviously a much different situation, where you have a broader amnesty for those who have been involved in the political developments over the past couple years. So that way at least, you know, there will be a feeling that people can move on and pass this without persecution.
JS: Should the U.S. players who interfered in Venezuela be part of that?
EG: I don't think the U.S. should be a part of it at all.
JS: But I meant more about having accountability from some sort of a truth commission.
EG: Since when has the U.S. ever been held accountable for their actions in another country? I mean, we could denounce U.S. intervention and strategies and tactics of aggression against Venezuela until we're blue in the face and still wouldn't get anywhere. I think at this stage, what's most important is that regionally, Latin America support a process in Venezuela. And I know there have been offerings. The French president, Emmanuel Macron has made an offer to participate in that process. The Pope, as well as others that play a more neutral role '-- which is what Venezuela needs. They don't need any antagonistic players involved in a solution to the country's current crisis.
JS: Alright. Eva Golinger, we're going to leave it there. Thank you very much for joining us on intercepted.
EG: Thanks, Jeremy.
JS: Eva Golinger is an attorney and author of several books. Among them, ''The Chavez Code.''
Top photo: Opposition activists protest against President Nicolas Maduro in Caracas on May 8, 2017.
Agenda 2030
pilot explains what it means when there's turbulence during a flight
Sat, 12 Aug 2017 19:18
Boeing 777 at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. Flickr/Maarten Visser
Turbulence is generally harmless.It also feels much worse than it actually is. Pilots try to avoid turbulence to give passengers a smoother ride.But turbulence can be unpredictable.Turbulence seems to be getting worse due to climate change. Editor's note: Patrick Smith is a commercial airline pilot who currently flies Boeing 757 and 767 aircraft. Smith also runs the blog AskThePilot.com and is the author of the book "Cockpit Confidential."
Turbulence: Spiller of coffee, jostler of luggage, filler of barf bags, rattler of nerves. But is it a crasher of planes?
Judging by the reactions of many airline passengers, one would assume so; turbulence is far and away the number one concern of anxious flyers. Intuitively, this makes sense. Everybody who steps on a plane is uneasy on some level, and there's no more poignant reminder of flying's innate precariousness than a good walloping at 37,000 feet. It's easy to picture the airplane as a helpless dinghy in a stormy sea. Boats are occasionally swamped, capsized, or dashed into reefs by swells, so the same must hold true for airplanes. So much about it seems dangerous.
Except that, in all but the rarest circumstances, it's not. For all intents and purposes, a plane cannot be flipped upside-down, thrown into a tailspin, or otherwise flung from the sky by even the mightiest gust or air pocket.
Conditions might be annoying and uncomfortable, but the plane is not going to crash. Turbulence is an aggravating nuisance for everybody, including the crew, but it's also, for lack of a better term, normal. From a pilot's perspective, it is ordinarily seen as a convenience issue, not a safety issue. When a flight changes altitude in search of smoother conditions, this is by and large in the interest of comfort.
The pilots aren't worried about the wings falling off; they're trying to keep their customers relaxed and everybody's coffee where it belongs. Planes themselves are engineered to take a remarkable amount of punishment, and they have to meet stress limits for both positive and negative G-loads. They can withstand an extreme amount of stress, and the level of turbulence required to dislodge an engine or cause structural damage is something even the most frequent flyer '-- or pilot for that matter '-- won't experience in a lifetime of traveling. Over the whole history of modern commercial aviation, the number of jetliner crashes directly caused by turbulence can be counted on one hand.
United Airlines pilots in a Boeing 777 cockpit. AP
Altitude, bank, and pitch will change only slightly during turbulence '-- in the cockpit, we see just a twitch on the altimeter '-- and inherent in the design of airliners is a trait known to pilots as ''positive stability.'' Should the aircraft be shoved from its position in space, its nature is to return there, on its own. Passengers might feel the plane ''plummeting'' or ''diving'' '-- words the media can't get enough of '-- when in fact it's hardly moving.
I remember one night, headed to Europe, hitting some unusually rough air about halfway across the Atlantic. It was the kind of turbulence people tell their friends about. Fewer than forty feet of altitude change, either way, is what I saw. Ten or twenty feet, if that, most of the time. Any change in heading'--the direction our nose was pointed'--was all but undetectable. I imagine some passengers saw it differently, overestimating the roughness by orders of magnitude. ''We dropped like 3,000 feet!''
At times like this, pilots will slow to a designated ''turbulence penetration speed'' to ensure high-speed buffet protection (don't ask) and prevent damage to the airframe. We can also request higher or lower altitudes, or ask for a revised routing. If you feel the plane climbing or descending mid-flight , good chance it's because of a report from fellow pilots up ahead.
In the worst of it, you probably imagine the pilots in a sweaty lather: the captain barking orders, hands tight on the wheel as the ship lists from one side to another. Nothing could be further from the truth. The crew is not wrestling with the beast so much as merely riding things out. Indeed, one of the worst things a pilot could do during strong turbulence is to try to fight it. Some autopilots have a special mode for these situations. Rather than increasing the number of corrective inputs, it does the opposite, desensitizing the system.
Up front, you can imagine a conversation going like this:
Pilot 1: ''Well, why don't we slow it down?''
Pilot 2: ''Ah, man, this is spilling my orange juice all down inside this cup holder.''
Pilot 1: ''Let's see if we can get any new reports from those guys up ahead.''
Pilot 2: ''Do you have any napkins over there?''
Boeing
Avoiding turbulence is a combination of art and science. We take our cues from weather charts, radar returns, and those real-time reports from other aircraft. Larger carriers have their own meteorology departments, and we get periodic updates from the ground.
Often, though, it's as simple as looking out the window. Some indicators are unmistakable and relatively easy to avoid. For example, those burbling, cotton-ball cumulus clouds'--particularly the anvil-topped variety that occur in conjunction with thunderstorms'--are always a lumpy encounter. Flights over mountain ranges and through certain frontal boundaries will also get the cabin bells dinging , as will transiting a jet stream boundary.
But the weather is always changing, and predicting where, when, and how much of turbulence can sometimes be a guessing game. Every now and then it's totally unforeseen. When we hit those bumps on the way to Europe that night, what info we had told us not to expect anything worse than mild chop. Later, in an area where stronger turbulence had been forecast, it was smooth. You just never know.
When we pass on reports to other crews, turbulence is graded from ''light'' to ''extreme.'' The worst encounters entail a post-flight inspection by maintenance staff. There are definitions for each degree, but in practice , the grades are awarded subjectively. I've never been through an "extreme," but I've had my share of "moderates" and a sprinkling of "severe."
An Airbus A380, the world's largest jetliner, generates vortex during a flying display at the 51st Paris Air Show at Le Bourget airport near Paris Thomson Reuters
One of those severe instances took place in July 1992 when I was the captain on a fifteen-passenger turboprop. It was, of all flights, a twenty-five-minute run from Boston to Portland, Maine.
It had been a hot day, and by early evening, a forest of tightly packed cumulus towers stretched across eastern New England. The formations were short'--about 8,000 feet at the tops, and deceptively pretty to look at. As the sun fell, it became one of the most picturesque skyscapes I've ever seen, with build-ups in every direction forming a horizon-wide garden of pink coral columns. They were beautiful and, it turned out, quite violent '-- little volcanoes spewing out invisible updrafts.
The pummeling came on with a vengeance until it felt like being stuck in an upside-down avalanche. Even with my shoulder harness pulled snug, I remember holding up a hand to brace myself, afraid my head might hit the ceiling. Minutes later, we landed safely in Portland. No damage, no injuries.
Now, it would be unwise of me to sugar coat this too much, and I concede that powerful turbulence has, on occasion, resulted in damage to aircraft and injury to their occupants. Each year worldwide, about a hundred people, half of them flight attendants, are hurt by turbulence seriously enough to require medical attention '-- head, neck, shoulder and ankle injuries being the most common. That works out to about fifty passengers. Fifty out of the two billion or so who fly each year. And a majority of them are people who fall or are thrown about because they aren't belted in when they should be.
The bad news is, that number will probably be going up. If it feels like you've been seeing more and more news stories about dramatic turbulence encounters, that's because you have. This is partly the result of the media's obsession with anything related to flying, the ease with which scary-looking videos can be shared and spread online, and the fact there are more airplanes flying than ever before.
But it's also true that the skies themselves are getting bumpier. Evidence shows that turbulence is becoming stronger and more prevalent as a byproduct of climate change. Turbulence is a symptom of the weather from which it spawns, and it stands to reason that as global warming destabilizes weather patterns and intensifies storms, experiences like the one I had over Maine, and the ones that keep popping up in the news, will become more common.
Because turbulence can be unpredictable, I am known to provide annoying, noncommittal answers when asked how best to avoid it:
"Is it better to fly at night than during the day?" Sometimes.
"Should I avoid routes that traverse the Rockies or the Alps?" Hard to say.
"Are small planes more susceptible than larger ones?" It depends.
"They're calling for gusty winds tomorrow. Will it be rough?" Probably, but who knows.
"Where should I sit, in the front of the plane or in the back?"
Delta Premium cabin. Delta
Ah, now that one I can work with. While it doesn't make a whole lot of difference, the smoothest place to sit is over the wings, nearest to the plane's centers of lift and gravity. The roughest spot is usually the far aft. In the rearmost rows, closest to the tail, the knocking and swaying is more pronounced.
As many travelers already know, flight crews in the United States tend to be more twitchy with the seat belt sign than those in other countries. We keep the sign on longer after takeoff, even when the air is smooth, and will switch it on again at the slightest jolt or burble. In some respects, this is another example of American over-protectiveness, but there are legitimate liability concerns. The last thing a captain wants is the FAA breathing down his neck for not having the sign on when somebody breaks an ankle and sues. Unfortunately, there's a cry-wolf aspect to this; people get so accustomed to the sign dinging on and off, seemingly without reason, that they ignore it altogether.
There's also something known as ''wake turbulence.'' This is a different phenomenon'...
If you can picture the cleaved roil of water that trails behind a boat or ship, you've got the right idea. With aircraft, this effect is exacerbated by a pair of vortices that spin from the wingtips. At the wings' outermost extremities, the higher-pressure air beneath is drawn toward the lower pressure air on top, resulting in a tight, circular flow that trails behind the aircraft like a pronged pair of sideways tornadoes.
The vortices are most pronounced when a plane is slow and the wings are working hardest to produce lift. Thus, prime time for an encountering them is during approach or departure. As they rotate'--at speeds that can top 300 feet per second'--they begin to diverge and sink. If you live near an airport, stake out a spot close to a runway and listen carefully as the planes pass overhead; you can often hear the vortices' whip-like percussions as they drift toward the ground.
As a rule, bigger planes brew up bigger, most virulent wakes, and smaller planes are more vulnerable should they run into one. The worst offender is the Boeing 757. A mid-sized jet, the 757 isn't nearly the size of a 747 or 777, but thanks to a nasty aerodynamic quirk it produces an outsized wake that, according to one study, is the most powerful of any airplane.
To avoid wake upsets, air traffic controllers are required to put extra spacing between large and small planes. For pilots, one technique is to slightly alter the approach or climb gradient, remaining above any vortices as they sink. Another trick is to use the wind. Gusts and choppy air will break up vortices or otherwise move them to one side.
Winglets '-- those upturned fins at the end of the wings '-- also are a factor. One of the ways these devices increase aerodynamic efficiency is by mitigating the severity of wingtip vortices. Thus, a winglet-equipped plane tends to produce a more docile wake than a similarly sized plane without them.
Despite all the safeguards, at one time or another, every pilot has had a run-in with a wake, be it the short bump-and-roll of a dying vortex or a full-force wrestling match. Such an encounter might last only a few seconds, but they can be memorable. For me, it happened in Philadelphia in 1994.
American Airlines Boeing 757-200. American Airlines
Ours was a long, lazy, straight-in approach to runway 27R from the east, our nineteen-seater packed to the gills. Traffic was light, the radio mostly quiet. At five miles out, we were cleared to land. The traffic we'd been following, a 757, had already cleared the runway and was taxiing toward the terminal. We'd been given our extra ATC spacing buffer, and just to be safe, we were keeping a tad high on the glide path. Our checklists were complete and everything was normal.
At around 200 feet, only seconds from touchdown, with the approach light stanchions below and the fat white stripes of the threshold just ahead, came a quick and unusual nudge'--as if we'd struck a pothole. Then, less than a second later, came the rest of it. Almost instantaneously, our 16,000-pound aircraft was up on one wing, in a 45-degree right bank.
It was the first officer's leg to fly, but suddenly there were four hands on the yokes, turning to the left as hard as we could. Even with full opposite aileron'--something never used in normal commercial flying'--the ship kept rolling to the right. There we were, hanging sideways in the sky; everything in our power was telling the plane to go one way, and it insisted on going the other. A feeling of helplessness, of lack of control, is part and parcel of nervous flyer psychology. It's an especially bad day when the pilots are experiencing the same uncertainty.
Then, as suddenly as it started, the madness stopped. In less than five seconds, before either of us could utter so much as an expletive, the plane came to its senses and rolled level.
Boeing
If you're interested, it's possible to stake out a spot near an airport and actually hear wingtip vortices as they drift toward the ground:
You need to be very close to a runway '-- preferably within a half-mile of the end. The strongest vortices are produced on take off, but ideally, you want to be on the landing side, as the plane will be nearer (i.e. lower) at an equivalent position from the threshold. A calm day is ideal, as the wind will dissipate a vortex before it reaches the ground. About 30 seconds after the jet passes overhead you'll begin to hear a whooshing, crackling and thundering. It's a menacing sound, unlike anything you've heard before. See '-- or hear '-- for yourself in this footage captured on my iPhone.
It was taken at the Belle Isle Marsh Reservation, a popular birdwatching spot about a half-mile north of runway 22R at Boston's Logan International Airport. The plane is a 757. Excuse the atrocious video quality, but the sound is acceptable and that's the important thing. You begin to hear the vortices at time 0:45, and they continue pretty much to the end. Note the incredible gunshot-like noises at 0:58.
Play loud!
Hail Apple!
AirDropping penis pics is the latest horrifying subway trend | New York Post
Sun, 13 Aug 2017 05:10
There's a new iPhone craze on the subway, and it's not the latest Candy Crush update.
New York women have discovered that creepy men are using the iPhone AirDrop app to send them photos of their privates while on the same train.
Since more straphangers using the MTA are carrying advanced iPhones and awareness of the AirDrop app has increased, local straphangers have started noticing a troubling trend first reported in London in 2015.
Britta Carlson, 28, was riding the uptown 6 train to a concert on July 27 when a mysterious message popped up on her smartphone.
''iPhone 1 would like to share a note with you,'' read the note sent at 6:51 p.m. She hit ''Accept'' and was horrified by what she saw. ''It was just a huge close-up picture of a disgusting penis,'' said Carlson, of Bushwick, Brooklyn. The message was titled ''Straw'' and was sent by an anonymous stranger.
''It really felt like someone had actually just flashed me.''
Carlson clutched the phone to her chest and frantically scanned the subway car for the pervert but couldn't place him.
In order for pervs to send lewd photos, iPhone owners must have their AirDrop setting on ''Everyone,'' instead of ''Contacts Only'' or ''Receiving Off.''
The app, which was released for iPhones in 2013, uses ''Contacts Only'' as the default setting and doesn't work with Androids or Windows phones. The victim must also be within Bluetooth range, which is approximately 328 feet.
People often forget to switch the setting off from ''Everyone,'' or don't realize they have turned it on.
Carlson had her AirDrop switched to ''Everyone'' because she used it to send photos at work.
''It never even crossed my mind that someone may use it to send stuff like that,'' she admitted.
Frankie Navisch, 35, had just gotten off a train at Penn Station when an invitation to open ''Eduardo's picture'' '-- with a preview photo of a man's junk '-- popped up on his screen.
''I wanted to punch him in the mouth for carelessly buckshotting genitalia to phones that could potentially be owned by children,'' seethed Navisch, of Harlem.
''Was he looking for interaction, or is all he wanted was someone to look at his mini-monstrosity?''
Serial exhibitionists are likely attracted to using AirDrop to trap victims because of the anonymity.
''In the past, flashers would have to go out in public in a trench coat and risk getting arrested,'' said Brad Salzman, a sex-addiction therapist. ''Now . . . their minds can run wild.''
Apple declined to comment.
NA-Tech News
The man who came up with those password rules we all hate admits he was wrong - TechSpot
Sun, 13 Aug 2017 15:07
We have all seen the message. You know, the one that says, ''Your password is about to expire. Please create a new password.''
Then there are the subsequent messages that follow after we inevitably make an entry that the checker does not like: ''Your password must be at least eight characters in length and contain at least one of each of the following: capital letter, lower case letter, number, and special character.'' For me, it happens every three months on my office computer.
It's annoying, but as an IT professional I have always accepted it as part and parcel of computer security. After all, the rules were published by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Surely they knew what was best when creating strong and secure passwords, right?
As it turns out, they apparently didn't know much more than the rest of us when the rules were written in 2003. The guidelines were published in a NIST document titled, ''Special Publication 800-63. Appendix A.'' Now the man who wrote them says he was mostly wrong.
Bill Burr, who worked as a midlevel manager at the NIST, authored the rules and recently told the Wall Street Journal, ''Much of what I did I now regret.''
He had wanted to base his guidelines on real world data, but there just wasn't much available at the time. He even tried to get IT administrators at NIST to allow him to look at the passwords on the network, but they scoffed at him citing security concerns.
With nowhere else to turn Burr ended up relying heavily on a white paper written in the 1980s. The document was written well before the public had access to the internet. It was a time when cybercrime barely even existed, at least not as we know it today. Despite most of the advice in Special Publication 800-63 being off-base or outright wrong, the password rules within its pages became IT canon and remained so for almost 15 years.
A widely shared comic strip (above) by Randall Munroe demonstrates the fallacy of Burr's guidelines. It shows that a password using NIST's rules can be cracked by a computer in 3 days, and is hard for us to remember. On the contrary, a simple passphrase of only four easy to remember words like "correct horse battery staple," would take 550 years to crack using the same brute force method.
''In the end, it was probably too complicated for a lot of folks to understand very well, and the truth is, it was barking up the wrong tree,'' said the now retired 72-years-old Burr.
To that, the NIST has responded by rewriting the rules with today's usage and users in mind. Paul Grassi headed up the re-write last June and said that many of the worst password commandments were eliminated. They initially thought it would be a quick edit, but they ended up starting over from scratch.
The new guidelines are only just beginning to trickle into the IT world, but some of the changes will have users and admins rejoicing.
''Drop the password-expiration advice and the requirement for special characters,'' Grassi said. They did little for security and ''actually had a negative impact on usability.''
Instead of a string of eight to 16 random characters, which never end up being random, we are told to use long, easy-to-remember phrases with the spaces removed (correcthorsebatterystaple). Grassi also says, ''Users should be forced to change passwords only if there is a sign they may have been stolen.''
Sure, there are those that are going to hold on to the old guidelines because they hate change. Or those that like their password because they think "!'m@H4X0R" is cool. Or those that just don't care because they have a password manager that logs them in anyway. I'm just thankful that I can look forward to not having to get nagged to change my password every 90 days.
CLIPS AND DOCS
VIDEO - Merkel slams German auto execs during election rally | Euronews
Sun, 13 Aug 2017 14:08
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VIDEO - WHITE SUPREMACIST Not 'Many Sides' CNN Ana Navarro EXPLODES at President Trump, CLASHES Ben Ferguson - YouTube
Sun, 13 Aug 2017 13:51
VIDEO - Trump Thanks Putin for Firing Embassy Workers - YouTube
Sun, 13 Aug 2017 13:45
VIDEO - (1) DNC files leaked from inside, not hacked - YouTube
Sun, 13 Aug 2017 13:33
VIDEO - 'Gotta go, gotta go!': Black pastor bolts Joy Reid live interview as white nationalists attack fellow pastors
Sun, 13 Aug 2017 12:50
WATCH: White nationalists chant 'Jews will not replace us' as they march with torches in Virginia
'Trite, infantile and meaningless': Ex-Bush speechwriter trashes Trump's 'babbling' Charlottesville response
Suspect identified in Charlottesville vehicle rampage that killed protester
WHOA! Republican pundit loses his sh*t when ex-Obama adviser says Trump aides are 'actual Nazis'
Massive caves in southern Brazil are actually ancient ground sloth burrows
Trump touts employment numbers in Charlottesville violence address '-- then flees questions about white nationalists
'No, you dumb, racist f*ck '-- you condemn it!': Internet outraged by Trump's 'Charlottesville sad' tweet
'Gotta go, gotta go!': Black pastor bolts Joy Reid live interview as white nationalists attack fellow pastors
'That's just not reality': Sociologist says liberals and conservatives are far from 'equally violent'
Charlottesville violence tests Trump's presidential mettle
VIDEO - CNN Panelist, Phil Mudd, Says Deep State 'Will Kill' Trump - YouTube
Sun, 13 Aug 2017 11:42
VIDEO - Organizer Of Charlottesville Rally Jason Kessler Speaks On The Aftermath | Virginia Protests - YouTube
Sun, 13 Aug 2017 11:25
VIDEO - Guns or medical marijuana? Patients may have to choose
Sat, 12 Aug 2017 19:34
Posted: Wed 6:42 PM, Aug 09, 2017
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CAPITOL NEWS SERVICE) - Every gun buyer fills out the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosive's form 4473. It asks nine questions about your life like if you're under indictment, have been convicted of stalking, a fugitive from justice, or mentally defective?
Question 11E asks if you are an unlawful user of, or addicted to marijuana. It comes with this warning: Marijuana is still illegal under Federal law, no matter what your state has done.
Gun dealers say a person legally prescribed marijuana and telling the truth would not be sold a gun.
"If you check box 11E, basically it rejects my form, and I don't allow you to purchase a gun," said Jaime Chamberlain, a gun dealer.
It's not a problem gun dealer Mark Folmar has had to deal with since the warning was added last October.
"I'm sure it's going to come up sometime, but so far it hasn't come up," said Folmar.
ATF confirms what the gun dealers are telling us, is correct.
Medical Marijuana Guru John Morgan told us the Federal law is stopping real progress, predicting the NRA would become pro-medical marijuana at the federal level.
Marijuana Advocate Taylor Biehl says patients shouldn't have to give up their rights.
"If they legally are accessing medicine to treat their debilitating diseases, they now could possibly forfeit their right to bear arms," said Biehl.
The names of marijuana patients in Florida is confidential. We've asked the Department of Law Enforcement if they plan to check that database against gun purchase applications. They've yet to get back with us.
VIDEO - Hillary Clinton's Black Accent "I don't feel no ways tired" - 2007 Selma, AL - YouTube
Sat, 12 Aug 2017 19:21
VIDEO: White nationalists march through UVA with torches - NY Daily News
Sat, 12 Aug 2017 17:27
Dozens of white nationalists marched through the University of Virginia campus on Friday night carrying torches as they chanted ''You will not replace us.''
The demonstrators, who also yelled "blood and soil" '-- a phrase tied to Nazi ideology '-- made their way through the Charlottesville campus before encircling a group of counter-protesters gathered around a statue of Thomas Jefferson.
A fight broke out, and some of the white nationalists swung their tiki torches at people, according to the Daily Progress.
White supremacists marched through the University of Virginia Friday night(Courtesy Andrew Shurtleff/The Daily Progress) Members of both sides were reportedly hit with pepper spray, and several people were treated at the scene for minor injuries.
Counter-protesters drown out KKK rally for Confederate statue
Protesters wielding torches march through campus and chant "You will not replace us."(Courtesy Andrew Shurtleff/The Daily Progress) Police arrived on campus, declared it an unlawful assembly, and ordered the crowds to disperse. At least one person was arrested.
The event was a precursor to the Unite the Right rally scheduled for Saturday, when a number of far-right groups are expected to make a show of force in response to the city's decision to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from Emancipation Park.
Sharing a photo of the torch-bearing march on Friday, Unite the Right organizer Jason Kessler wrote on Twitter, "Incredible moment for white people who've had it up to here & aren't going to take it anymore. Tomorrow we #UnitetheRight #Charlottesville."
25 photos view gallery
White supremacists and protesters clash following two-day rally in Charlottesville, Virginia Prominent white nationalist Richard Spencer, who led a similar march in Charlottesville in May, was also at the rally on Friday night.
Neo-Nazi website launches Spanish-language edition
Mayor Mike Signer released a statement denouncing the march.
"When I think of torches, I want to think of the Statue of Liberty," he wrote.
The demonstraters encircle a group of counter-protesters who had gathered around a statue of Thomas Jefferson.(Alejandro Alvarez/News2Share via Reuters) "When I think of candlelight, I want to think of prayer vigils. Today, in 2017, we are instead seeing a cowardly parade of hatred, bigotry, racism and intolerance march down the lawns of the architect of our Bill of Rights.
"I am beyond disgusted by this unsanctioned and despicable display of visual intimidation on a college campus."
Torch-wielding protesters rally at Confederate statue in Virginia
Richard Spencer attended the rally, and the Unite the Right organizer Jason Kessler (not pictured) called Friday's march a "incredible moment for white people".(Richard Spencer via Twitter) The Unite the Right rally, which is expected to draw 2,000 to 6,000 people, could be the "largest white supremacist gathering in a decade," according to the Anti-Defamation League.
Gov. Terry McAuliffe warned people to stay away from the event on Saturday, noting that Virginia State Police and the Virginia National Guard will be monitoring the situation.
"I am beyond disgusted by this unsanctioned and despicable display of visual intimidation on a college campus," said Charlottesville Mayor Mike Signer.(Courtesy Andrew Shurtleff/The Daily Progress) Kessler's attorneys filed a lawsuit against Charlottesville on Thursday, claiming their attempts to relocate Saturday's event to McIntire Park, due to safety considerations, violates his right to free speech.
He is represented by the Rutherford Institute and the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia.
The counter-protesters were outnumbered before a fight broke out(Courtesy Andrew Shurtleff/The Daily Progress) Tags:virginiauniversity of virginiaracial injusticenazisterry mcauliffelawsuitsSend a Letter to the EditorJoin the Conversation:facebookTweet
VIDEO - TRUMP JUST WON: HIS LAYWER JUST LEAKED LORETTA LYNCH'S WORST NIGHTMARE ON LIVE TV - YouTube
Sat, 12 Aug 2017 14:48
VIDEO - Microchip: You will get chipped '-- eventually
Sat, 12 Aug 2017 14:31
After a Wisconsin firm embedded microchips in its employees, social media wants to know--is my company next? Jefferson Graham has the answer, on #TalkingTech.
Implanting a microchip at Three Square Market in River Falls, Wis. (Photo: Jeff Baenen, AP)
LOS ANGELES '-- You will get chipped. It's just a matter of time.
In the aftermath of a Wisconsin firm embedding microchips in employees last week to ditch company badges and corporate logons, the Internet has entered into full-throated debate.
Religious activists are so appalled, they've been penning nasty 1-star reviews of the company, Three Square Market, on Google, Glassdoor and social media.
On the flip side, seemingly everyone else wants to know: Is this what real life is going to be like soon at work? Will I be chipped?
''It will happen to everybody,'' says Noelle Chesley, 49, associate professor of sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. ''But not this year, and not in 2018. Maybe not my generation, but certainly that of my kids.''
Gene Munster, an investor and analyst at Loup Ventures, is an advocate for augmented reality, virtual reality and other new technologies. He thinks embedded chips in human bodies is 50 years away. ''In 10 years, Facebook, Google, Apple and Tesla will not have their employees chipped,'' he says. ''You'll see some extreme forward-looking tech people adopting it, but not large companies.''
The idea of being chipped has too ''much negative connotation'' today, but by 2067 ''we will have been desensitized by the social stigma,'' Munster says.
A microchip is shown compared with a dime Tuesday, Aug. 1, 2017, at Three Square Market in River Falls, Wis., (Photo: Jeff Baenen, AP)
For now, Three Square Market, or 32M, hasn't offered concrete benefits for getting chipped beyond badge and log-on stats. Munster says it was a ''PR stunt'' for the company to get attention to its product and it certainly succeeded, getting the small start-up air play on CBS, NBC and ABC, and generating headlines worldwide. The company, which sells corporate cafeteria kiosks designed to replace vending machines, would like the kiosks to handle cashless transactions.
This would go beyond paying with your smartphone. Instead, chipped customers would simply wave their hands in lieu of Apple Pay and other mobile-payment systems.
The benefits don't stop there. In the future, consumers could zip through airport scanners sans passport or drivers license; open doors; start cars; and operate home automation systems. All of it, if the technology pans out, with the simple wave of a hand.
Not a GPS tracker
The embedded chip is not a GPS tracker, which is what many critics initially feared. However, analysts believe future chips will track our every move.
For example, pets for years have been embedded with chips to store their name and owner contact. Indeed, 32M isn't the first company to embed chips in employees. In 2001, Applied Digital Solutions installed the ''VeriChip'' to access medical records but the company eventually changed hands and stopped selling the chip in 2010.
In Sweden, BioHax says nearly 3,000 customers have had its chip embedded to do many things, including ride the national rail system without having to show the conductor a ticket.
In the U.S., Dangerous Things, a Seattle-based firm, says it has sold ''tens of thousands'' of chips to consumers via its website. The chip and installation cost about $200.
After years of being a subculture, ''the time is now'' for chips to be more commonly used, says Amal Graafstra, founder of Dangerous Things. ''We're going to start to see chip implants get the same realm of acceptance as piercings and tattoos do now.''
In other words, they'll be more visible, but not mainstream yet.
''It becomes part of you the way a cellphone does,'' Graafstra says. ''You can never forget it, and you can't lose it. And you have the capability to communicate with machines in a way you couldn't before.''
But after what we saw in Wisconsin last week, what's next for the U.S. workforce? A nation of workers chipping into their pods at Federal Express, General Electric, IBM, Microsoft and other top corporations?
Experts contend consumers will latch onto chips before companies do.
Chesley says corporations are slower to respond to massive change and that there will be an age issue. Younger employees will be more open to it, while older workers will balk. ''Most employers who have inter-generational workforces might phase it in slowly,'' she says. ''I can't imagine people my age and older being enthusiastic about having devices put into their bodies.''
Adds Alec Levenson, a researcher at University of Southern California's Center for Effective Organizations, ''The vast majority of people will not put up with this.''
Three Square Market said the chips are voluntary, but Chesley says that if a company announces a plan to be chipped, the expectation is that you will get chipped '-- or risk losing out on advancement, raises and being a team player.
''That's what we're worried about,'' says Bryan Allen, chief of staff for state Rep. Tina Davis (D), who is introducing a bill in Pennsylvania to outlaw mandatory chip embedding. ''If the tech is out there, what's to stop an employer from saying either you do this, or you can't work here anymore.''
Several states have passed similar laws, while one state recently saw a similar bill die in committee. "I see this as a worker's rights issue," says Nevada state Sen. Becky Harris (R), who isn't giving up. "This is the wrong place to be moving," she says.
Should future corporations dive in to chipping their employees, they will have huge issues of ''trust'' to contend with, says Kent Grayson, a professor of marketing at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.
''You've got to have a lot of trust to put one of those in your body,'' Grayson says. Workers will need assurances the chip is healthy, can't be hacked, and its information is private, he says.
Meanwhile, religious advocates have taken to social media to express their displeasure about chipping, flooding 32M's Facebook page with comments like ''boycott,'' ''completely unnecessary'' and ''deplorable.'' On 32M's Google page, Amy Cosari a minister in Hager City, Wisc., urges employees to remove the chip.
''When Jesus was raised, he was raised body and soul, and it was him, not zombie, not a ghost and we are raised up in the same way,'' Cosari wrote. ''Employees of 32Market, you are not a walking debit card.''
Get used to it, counsels Chesley.
Ten years ago, employees didn't look at corporate e-mail over the weekend. Now they we do, ''whether we like it or not,'' he says.
Be it wearable technology or an embedded chip, the always on-always connected chip is going to be part of our lives, she says.
Contributing: Madeline Purdue in San Francisco.
If you haven't subscribed to the new #TalkingTech newsletter yet, what are you waiting for? Just click this link and sign up: usat.ly/2qaIVVQ. We also invite you to subscribe to the #TalkingTech podcast on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Tunein and wherever else you like to hear great online audio, and please follow me on Twitter and on Facebook.
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VIDEO - India-China standoff in Doklam - YouTube
Fri, 11 Aug 2017 12:49
VIDEO - iPhone Photo Academy | iPhone Photography Online Course
Fri, 11 Aug 2017 01:29
I shot and edited these photos with my iPhone'... And you too could be taking photos like this with your iPhone not too long from now!
I Think I'm A Lot Like You'...I wasn't always the guy teaching thousands of people how to take incredible photos with their iPhone'...
And frankly, not too long ago I didn't know how to take interesting photos myself.
The truth is that I was never much of an artist'... I couldn't draw, I couldn't write poetry, so the traditional art forms were always out of my reach. But I wanted to express myself and develop the creative side of my personality, and that's why photography has always appealed to me.
It's so rewarding when a photo you take '' a photo that didn't exist just a moment ago '' shows other people the unique and beautiful things that you see in the world around you. It could be the amazing places you visit while traveling, the great times you have with your family, or the unique moments that nobody else would be able to enjoy without you taking a photo.
And it gets even more rewarding when you can look back at these moments years later when the memories are long gone'... And with photos you can experience these memories again.
You see, I always loved photography. But things didn't really work out as I wish they did'...
My Camera Was Never There When I Needed It The MostIf you've been taking photos for a while now, you've probably had times when you wish you had your big camera with you, and you've probably missed a lot of great photos. And often when that moment is gone, it's gone forever, and there's nothing you can do to recreate it.
This is a problem I was facing all the time. There were often beautiful things or unique moments that I wanted to capture, and it seemed like my camera was never there when I needed it the most. And that's probably true, because my camera didn't leave the shelf on most days'...
I wanted to do more photography, but it just wasn't practical to carry a camera around with me at all times. And that's not to mention the lenses, tripods and all the other heavy equipment'...
The Best Camera Is The One That's Always In Your PocketWhen I got my first iPhone three years ago, I quickly recognized that one of the most essential features of the device was its camera, because for the first time ever, I had a camera that was always in my pocket. Gone were the days when I wished I had my big camera with me.
Well, sort of'...
I knew that the iPhone could take great photos'... In fact, I saw it every day when I was looking at the photos other people were sharing on Instagram (back then the average photo quality on Instagram was higher because it attracted more serious iPhone photographers).
But that didn't change the harsh reality: the photos that I was taking with my iPhone didn't live up to my expectations. They were never as good as the photos that my favorite photographers were sharing. They just didn't look right to me, and I didn't know what I was doing wrong.
Of course, I knew that the iPhone wasn't as good as high-end DSLRs.
But that's besides the point, because'...
The iPhone, Just Like Any Other Camera, Is A ToolAnd it's a tool that can be used to take both poor and amazing photos.
There were people out there who were taking better photos with their iPhone than I could ever take with my DSLR. Their photos always made me speechless'...
It was so hard to believe that these photos were taken with the iPhone! In fact, I couldn't even understand how anyone could take such incredible photos using any camera!
And to be frank, it's not that using the iPhone made their photos that much better. These people simply preferred to use the iPhone because it was the camera they always had with them.
They could take incredible photos with ANY camera they wanted to use, because'...
The Content Of Your Photos Is More Important Than The Camera You UseLet me put this another way'... If you were writing a novel, would getting a new pen make you a better writer? Or should you spend your time improving the content of your novel?
The photography industry makes BILLIONS by making you believe that you need the latest and greatest photography gear to take stunning photos, while nothing could be further from the truth'...
And while I knew all of that, I was still struggling to take interesting photos with my iPhone. They just never turned out the way I wanted them to look. I couldn't look back at them proudly.
I knew I was doing something wrong, and I desperately wanted to fix that.
So I went on a learning spree'...
I Spent The Next Three Years Of My Life Learning Everything There Is To Know About iPhone PhotographyI read every iPhone photography book, but most of them were out of date the moment they hit the printing press. That's because the iPhone camera and the software behind it goes through dramatic changes every year, and the books just can't keep up with the technology.
I bought every iPhone photography course, and unfortunately the same was true for them. Even though Apple has now released iOS 10, you'd be lucky to find a course that's updated for iOS 8 which came out more than two years ago featuring radically different camera controls.
With no other options, I turned to general photography advice, and while some of the concepts covered there were useful, a lot of it was not directly applicable to iPhone photography.
Finally, I realized that the only way to get as good as my favorite iPhone photographers was to learn from them directly and to understand what it is that makes their photos so special'...
So I Interviewed Dozens Of My Favorite iPhone Photographers And Reviewed 22,000 Incredible iPhone PhotosWait, how could I do something like that?
I decided to leverage a small iPhone photography blog that I had, and I started to approach my favorite iPhone photographers asking if they would be interested in doing an interview'...
You may have heard of this blog'... Today it's read by 1,193,413 people per month.
While interviewing some of the best iPhone photographers in the world was definitely fun, they weren't always open about sharing the techniques that made their photos so powerful'...
Or they simply didn't know what they were doing because they were taking photos intuitively.
So I also created a photo contest where between 200 and 500 excellent iPhone photos would be submitted every week. My job was to carefully review these photos to select the winners.
And that's when I finally started to figure it out'...
The Best iPhone Photographers Look At The World DifferentlyThey don't just look for scenes that look great in real life, because they know that even the most beautiful views can result in poor photos unless they're photographed correctly.
They take photos from unique angles that most people would never even consider, and when other people see these photos, they don't understand how it's possible to take such photos.
They don't just take pretty photos because they look good. Instead they take photos that tell powerful stories and express emotion. Photos they're proud to look at years later.
They don't take any chances with the camera settings. Instead they take full control of the camera of their iPhone, which allows them to predictably take high-quality photos.
They don't just take a whole bunch of photos hoping that some will turn out great. They already know whether the photo is going to work (and why) before they pick up their iPhone.
They see great photo opportunities wherever they go, because they know what to look for.
And you too could be an excellent iPhone photographer not too long from now. Even if you think you've tried everything, you can experience huge improvements in next to no time because'...
There Are Specific Techniques That All Great iPhone Photographers UseAnd anyone can become an excellent iPhone photographer by applying these techniques.
I know this because after I discovered the exact techniques that the pros are using and started applying them to my own photos, my iPhone photography was never the same again.
Taking photos with my iPhone is no longer frustrating. Now it's fun and rewarding, and the photos that I take with my iPhone are better than the ones I used to take with my DSLR!
But there were also some consequences that I wouldn't have predicted'...
Thousands of people started following me on Instagram (@iPhonePS), and I started getting compliments for the quality of my iPhone photos'... which had never happened before!
Some People No Longer Even Believe That My Photos Were Taken With The iPhone!Now, you might be thinking that this won't happen to you because you're not talented'...
And honestly, I'm not surprised to hear that'... because that's exactly how I felt!
I used to think that the best iPhone photographers are naturally talented, and that I would never become a great photographer since I didn't have this kind of talent. And indeed, some people are born with an eye for taking great photos, but unfortunately I wasn't one of them.
But the truth is that'...
You Don't Need Talent For Taking Incredible iPhone PhotosWhen I started applying the techniques that the pros were using in their photos, people on social media starting telling me that I was a talented photographer, which is something I had never heard before. You don't have to be talented '' you just have to know what you're doing!
Now, you're probably wondering how you too could start taking outstanding iPhone photos'...
And for a long time, I didn't have an easy answer for people like you.
You could read boring books, buy outdated iPhone photography courses, interview your favorite iPhone photographers and carefully analyze tens of thousands of photos, and if you can put all the pieces together, your iPhone photos are going to improve over the next three years.
That's what I did, and it worked for me. But it definitely wasn't easy'...
In fact, it was so hard that I wanted to create an easier option for people like you who want to greatly improve the quality of their iPhone photos in a fraction of time that I had to spend.
And that's why I created something absolutely unique'...
Introducing iPhone Photo AcademyiPhone Photo Academy is an in-depth online course that will show you how to take incredible iPhone photos that everyone adores and that you'll be proud to look at years later.
Most iPhone photography courses focus on showing you which buttons to press, and iPhone Photo Academy does that too'... While ALSO showing you how to see the world through the eyes of an experienced photographer (which is something most other courses ignore).
Now, if you're like most people, you probably never leave home without your iPhone, but that still doesn't mean you're not going to miss that perfect shot. In fact'...
You Will Still Miss Your Best Photos If You Don't Know How To Use Your iPhone CorrectlyYou see, having the iPhone with you is only half of the equation. The other half is knowing how to use it to take outstanding photos.
Some people think that buying expensive gear will make them better photographers, and that's what camera manufacturers want you to think. But even the most expensive camera won't make you a better photographer, just like buying an expensive pen won't make you a better writer.
And just like any other camera, your iPhone is just a tool, and it's a tool that can be used to take both poor and amazing photos'...
But with the right knowledge the iPhone can be used to take photos that are so good that most people would never even believe that they were taken with a phone!
And that's what you're going to learn inside iPhone Photo Academy.
Yes, you're going to learn all the techniques and apps, but more importantly'...
You're Going To Love iPhone PhotographyYou're going to take photos that are so good you'll be surprised not that they were taken with the iPhone'... but that it was YOU who took these photos.
You're never going to run out of interesting things to take photos of, because you'll know how to recognize amazing photo opportunities wherever you go.
And you're going to have confidence in your iPhone photography.
You'll be taking photos with the iPhone not because you forgot your big camera at home, but because you'll know how to use your iPhone to predictably get high-quality photos every time you press the shutter.
I know these are big promises, but I also know I can deliver '...
Because 8514 happy students have already completed iPhone Photo Academy and forever changed the way they take photos with their iPhone!
iPhone photo by Remigijus Stirbys, an iPhone Photo Academy graduate from Dublin, Ireland
Now, as you can see from the depth of the contents of this course...
A Similar College Course Would Cost You Thousands Of DollarsAnd that's assuming you could find a college course teaching iPhone photography.
Now, if you were to hire a photography teacher, that would cost you about $100 an hour...
There are 10 hours of excellent video lessons in iPhone Photo Academy, so those lessons alone would cost you at least $1000 (and that's excluding $965 worth of free bonuses).
The good news is that you won't have to pay $1000 to join this course'...
So if you want to take incredible photos with your iPhone, now is the time to take action.
Just a few short weeks from now you could be taking photos that are so good that nobody will even believe they were taken with the iPhone...
Or you can keep doing what you're doing now.
The choice is yours.
iPhone Photo Academy Comes With A
30 Day Money-Back Guarantee!
Special Offer Expires In:
Normally $497
Lowest Price Offered Before: $97
Today Only $97 (Or 3 Payments Of $35 )
If you're not happy with iPhone Photo Academy for any reason, just let me know and I'll refund your payment. All you have to do is send an email to emil@iPhonePhotographySchool.com and you'll get all your money back. So you don't have to make the final decision right now. Just sign up to reserve your spot, see if you like the course, and then make your final decision.
Free Bonus Module: Mastering The New Camera Features Of iPhone 7 PlusThe iPhone 7 Plus features the most radical camera improvements in years. There are now two separate cameras at the back of the iPhone, allowing you to easily switch between wide angle and telephoto lenses. This is a complete game changer for iPhone photography.
So in this bonus module you're going to discover all of the following'...
How to switch between the two lenses and when to use each of themWhy you should only use one of the lenses for most of your iPhone photosHow to use the telephoto lens to greatly improve your portrait and street photosUsing the ''Portrait'' mode for taking beautiful photos with a shallow depth of fieldTips for using dedicated camera apps to get full control over the two camerasNow, if you don't plan to upgrade to iPhone 7 Plus any time soon, that's totally fine. You don't need the latest iPhone to participate in this course and take excellent iPhone photos.
But if you are upgrading this year'... You're going to absolutely love this bonus module!
Value: $97
Yours: FREE
Free Bonus Module: Telling Powerful Stories With Live PhotosLive Photos is an exciting new camera feature that Apple introduced with iPhone 6S. When you take a regular photo with Live Photos enabled, the iPhone also records a short video just before and after the shot, which means you can bring your photos to life in a really powerful way.
So in this bonus module you're going to discover all of the following'...
How to use Live Photos for capturing the most beautiful moments in your lifeWhen you should and should NOT have Live Photos enabled (Hint: if you use it all the time, it's going to reduce battery life, take up storage and even slow down your iPhone)Step-by-step method for making sure your Live Photos always turn out amazingHow to correctly share your Live Photos with Windows or Android usersOnce again, you don't need the latest iPhone to participate in the course and take excellent iPhone photos. But if you have iPhone 6S or newer, then you're going to love this module!
Value: $67
Yours: FREE
Free Bonus Module: How To Manage, Share And Print Your iPhone PhotosWhen you enroll in the course and your iPhone photography turns into a fulfilling hobby, you're probably going to experience certain challenges related to managing, sharing and printing your best iPhone photos.
If you value your iPhone photography (and your memories), it's absolutely essential that all your photos are backed up. If you're not backing up your photos, you could lose your entire photo library and a lifetime of memories tomorrow. This happens more often than you think.
And if you don't preserve the full resolution of your iPhone photos (or if you don't know how to do that), you won't be able to print and exhibit your best iPhone photography in the future.
That's why I created a free bonus module covering all of these topics:
The best way to automatically back up your iPhone photos while you're sleepingHow to sync all your photos across all your Apple devices so that you can always find the photo you're looking for '' without the need to ever transfer your photos using a cableHow to make sure you always keep the full-resolution versions of all your iPhone photosThe optimal process for easily organizing a large photo library and always finding the photos you needHow to easily move your photos between different iOS devices without quality loss (HINT: you shouldn't be using Photo Stream '' it reduces the resolution of your photos)How to print your iPhone photos'... and how to make sure the results always look greatThe exact techniques I used to quickly build a huge audience on Instagram (@iPhonePS)Value: $97
Yours: FREE
Free Bonus: Video Analysis Of 459 iPhone PhotosWhen you're taking photos with your iPhone, you're sometimes going to make mistakes.
Everyone does.
Of course, you have the opportunity to learn from your mistakes (if you know how to recognize them) and your iPhone photos will slowly get better once you learn to avoid these mistakes.
But what if you could take a MASSIVE shortcut and instead of making all the mistakes yourself you could simply learn from the mistakes of others?
That way you wouldn't be ruining your own photos...
Well, I have great news for you!
I've recorded an in-depth video analysis of 459 iPhone photos where I point out the mistakes these photos make... and how you can improve your own photos by not making these mistakes.
These videos will save you hours upon hours of practice... and thousands of ruined photos that you might never have a chance to take again.
The best part?
You'll get the in-depth video analysis of these 459 photos for free when you join iPhone Photo Academy today. This bonus alone has 10 hours of video content that will save you hundreds of hours of practice as you learn from the mistakes made by other photographers.
Value: $197
Yours: FREE
Free Bonus: Lifetime Membership In Our Private Online CommunityAll my students are invited to participate in a private Facebook community where they share their best photos, provide feedback and talk about all things related to iPhone photography.
While still being small and cozy, this community is extremely active. On most days dozens of photos and hundreds of comments are posted in this group '' all by your fellow students.
Unlike other online photography communities, this group is friendly and encouraging, allowing iPhone photographers of all levels to share their best work and get invaluable feedback.
Many great friendships have been formed through this community, both online and in real life!
If you don't use Facebook, that's totally fine. You don't need Facebook to take my course.
But if you give it a try, you're going to absolutely love this online community!
Value: $360/year ($30/month)
Yours: FREE for life
Free Bonus: Lifetime iPhone Photo Academy UpdatesWith technology changing faster and faster, it's not always easy to keep up, especially if you're out there on your own. The iPhone in particular goes through huge changes every year.
So if you've bought any books or online courses about iPhone photography, the chances are that they're already out of date. But iPhone Photo Academy is going to be different.
In fact, it's the only iPhone photography course that will NEVER go out of date!
Because when you join iPhone Photo Academy today, you're going to get free updates to the course for as long as Apple keeps making the iPhone.
And that's regardless of any price increases the Academy is going to have in the future.
Now, if that sounds too good to be true...
You might consider that 8514 past iPhone Photo Academy students just received the iPhone 7 Plus bonus module (as well as other major updates) absolutely for free.
iPhone Photo Academy is my flagship course, and the revenue from this course supports the entire iPhone Photography School, which is why I'm going to keep this course up to date'...
And you're always going to get these updates for free! So by joining iPhone Photo Academy today you're making an investment in your photography for years to come.
Value: $147/year
Yours: FREE for life
Total Bonus Value: $965FREE when you join iPhone Photo Academy today!If you're not happy with iPhone Photo Academy for any reason, just let me know and I'll refund your payment. All you have to do is send an email to emil@iPhonePhotographySchool.com and you'll get all your money back. So you don't have to make the final decision right now. Just sign up to reserve your spot, see if you like the course, and then make your final decision.
iPhone photo by Ardys Zoellner, an iPhone Photo Academy graduate from Alice Springs, Northern Australia
Frequently Asked QuestionsWhat is the format of the course?There are 6 modules in the course (excluding the free bonus modules). Each module contains between 30 and 90 minutes of video lessons that you can watch at any time that's convenient for you. Most lessons are between 10 and 15 minutes long, and they're all available online.
Where relevant, the videos feature a live recording of the screen of my iPhone so that you know exactly what I'm doing to create specific effects, which buttons I'm pressing, and how you can do the same on your iPhone. So there will be absolutely no guesswork for you.
And in case you ever get stuck, you can ask any questions under each lecture, which will be promptly answered by one of my team members. There are already 12,531 comments!
Do I have to show up at a particular place or a particular time?No, the entire course happens online, and you can take it from any place where you have an internet connection. All lectures are prerecorded so you can watch them at any time that works for you.
Of course, you can also enjoy all the lectures on your iPhone and tablet.
How much time do I need in order to take this course?You can spend as much or as little time as you want, and you get lifetime access to all course materials, so there is no reason to complete the course within a certain time period.
You can follow the course at your own pace and always come back to the videos later when you want to revisit the material or work on improving certain aspects of your iPhone photography.
What happens after the course ends?You keep lifetime access to all course content, as well as free lifetime updates.
That means you can always review the material in the future, and you'll have plenty of time to catch up in case you fall behind.
What if I'm not good with technology?The majority of iPhone Photo Academy students are not good with technology, and even if you feel like you know nothing about technology, you won't feel left out.
All technical concepts are described in simple terms while avoiding unnecessary jargon, which allows people from all age groups to successfully participate in iPhone Photo Academy.
And just in case you get stuck, you can always ask any questions under each lecture, which will be promptly answered by one of my team members. There are already 12,531 comments!
Technology should not stand in the way of your creativity!
What if I'm not a good photographer?You don't need any previous photography experience to join iPhone Photo Academy. All the lectures start from the very beginning while gradually progressing into advanced topics.
There are no prerequisites and anyone can learn to take great photos with the iPhone.
Even if you think you have no talent or artistic ability, you'll be able to take outstanding photos by applying the specific techniques that you're going to discover in iPhone Photo Academy.
What if I'm an experienced DSLR photographer?If you're an experienced DSLR photographer, iPhone Photo Academy is exactly what you need to transition into the world of iPhone photography '' and start leaving your DSLR at home!
While DSLRs are technically superior to the iPhone, it is now possible to get an unprecedented level of control with your iPhone camera, allowing for a DSLR-like shooting experience, which is why experienced photographers are starting to leave their DSLRs at home more often.
Please don't blame me if you end up selling your DSLR!
What if I'm already an experienced iPhone photographer?If you've been actively studying iPhone photography for several years, you're probably going to be familiar with some of the ideas and techniques that are discussed in this course.
With that said, even experienced iPhone photographers love the course, because there are so many techniques and ideas that they can apply to make their photos even more interesting.
If you're worried that you might already know everything I teach, I encourage you to sign up, go through the first few modules, and ask for a refund if you're not learning new things.
No matter how much experience you already have, there are always more things to learn!
What if I have an older iPhone?Anyone with iPhone 4S or newer will feel at home in iPhone Photo Academy.
In fact, many of the photos that you can see on this page were actually shot and edited with iPhone 4S. No, you don't need to have the latest iPhone to take outstanding photos!
What if I don't have an iPhone?While iPhone Photo Academy was designed specifically for iPhone users, a number of students have completed the course using other devices, including iPads and Android smartphones.
The principles of great mobile photography are the same on all platforms.
How does the money back guarantee work?If you want to request a refund, send an email to emil@iPhonePhotographySchool.com within 30 days of your purchase and you'll get 100% of your money back, no questions asked.
So you don't have to make the final decision about staying in the course right now. Just sign up to reserve your spot, see if you like the course, and then make your final decision.
Of course, I can only afford this guarantee because I know people love my course.
Is it safe to pay by credit card online?We use industry-standard encryption to protect your credit card details throughout the checkout process. Your information is never shared with anyone, and we can't even see your credit card details ourselves. That's because we take your online security extremely seriously.
If you don't like paying by credit card online, you can also pay with your PayPal account.
And of course, you're also protected by my generous 30-Day Money Back Guarantee.
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VIDEO - Dr. Steve Pieczenik: Bin Laden, The Oswald Like Patsy Died 10 Years Ago! 1/7 - YouTube
Fri, 11 Aug 2017 01:21
VIDEO - illuminati song - Anonymous (Lyrics on screen) - YouTube
Fri, 11 Aug 2017 01:17
VIDEO - Brian Williams: It's 'Our Job' 'To Scare People to Death' on North Korea So Talk About Military Strikes Isn't 'As Free' - Breitbart
Thu, 10 Aug 2017 23:14
During a panel discussion of North Korea on Tuesday's broadcast of MSNBC's ''The 11th Hour,'' host Brian Williams stated that part of their job is to terrify people to death on the subject of North Korea so people don't talk about military strikes so freely.
Williams told MSNBC analyst Malcolm Nance, ''Malcolm, our job tonight actually is to scare people to death on this subject so the talk isn't as free as it is about a preemptive or surgical military strike. You know that part of the world. The population centers'...South Korea, the Japanese, and so on and so on.''
(h/t Mediaite)
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VIDEO - Deranged: Dowd Compares Trump to Kim Jong-un, Speculates Europe Fears Trump More | MRCTV
Sun, 13 Aug 2017 15:30
See more in the cross-post on the NewsBusters blog.
ABC political analyst and faux Republican Matthew Dowd spent Wednesday afternoon with fellow liberal Republican Nicolle Wallace's Deadline White House, serenading MSNBC viewers with the claim that Trump's ''fire and fury'' statement could easily be said by North Korea dictator Kim Jong-un.
Receiving zero pushback, Dowd also speculated that Europe is more scared of Trump than a murderous communist like Kim Jong-un, so there's that for what passes as acceptable political rhetoric. Surely the reaction would different if someone stated it about Barack Obama.
VIDEO - Friedman: US Should Offer Peace Treaty, Full Relations to North Korea | MRCTV
Sun, 13 Aug 2017 15:25
The mission of the Media Research Center is to create a media culture in America where truth and liberty flourish. The MRC is a research and education organization operating under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, and contributions to the MRC are tax-deductible. Copyright (C) 2005-2017, Media Research Center. All Rights Reserved.
VIDEO - Univ. Pres.: 'Ideological Fascists' Rule U.S. Campuses From Their 'Ivory Tower' | MRCTV
Sun, 13 Aug 2017 15:17
The mission of the Media Research Center is to create a media culture in America where truth and liberty flourish. The MRC is a research and education organization operating under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, and contributions to the MRC are tax-deductible. Copyright (C) 2005-2017, Media Research Center. All Rights Reserved.
VIDEO - NBC Lashes Out at President Trump After Charlottesville Attack | MRCTV
Sun, 13 Aug 2017 15:10
***To read the full blog, please check out the complete post on NewsBusters***
Saturday was marked by bloodshed in Charlottesville, Virginia after an apparent white nationalist plowed into a crowd of counter-protesters in a blatant attack. And on the morning after, NBC's Sunday Today put President Trump in their sights as they unloaded on him while appearing to pin the blame for the attack on him. At one point even claiming he ''enjoys'' the support he gets from the bigots who were rallying in Virginia.
''President Trump condemned the violence there on Saturday but he did not specifically speak to the white nationalism that was on display,'' complained Anchor Willie Geist as he was getting ready to hand the report off to Correspondent Kelly O'Donnell. ''The President also did not respond to questions, including one about the political support he enjoys among some white supremacists,'' she chided.
One of Geist's guests was Michael Signer, the mayor of Charlottesville. Geist was very interested in hearing how Signer would slam the President. ''Mr. Mayor, you did thank the President of the United States for condemning the violence broadly. But you have been critical of him beforehand,'' he hyped. ''You say, quote, 'I place the blame for a lot of what's happening in America, a lot of what you're seeing, at the doorstep of the White House.''' Feigning curiosity, Geist asked what he meant by that.
...
VIDEO - Merkel slams German auto execs during election rally | Euronews
Sun, 13 Aug 2017 14:08
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