958: The Talking Stick!

Adam Curry & John C. Dvorak

3h 5m
August 24th, 2017
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Executive Producers: Neville Bareham, Harrison Travis, Oyster Berge, Sir Rodger Boots

Associate Executive Producers: James O'Brien, Dennis Cruise, Russell T Harper, Sir Henry Baron of Outpost West, Ron Pepper

Cover Artist: Gastón García


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Gitmo List by Brendan Kidwell
Houston, Tx Meetup - No Agenda (Austin, TX) | Meetup
Sun, 20 Aug 2017 14:34
Welcome human resources of Gitmo Nation, wherever in Gitmo Nation you might live. This is the place to to connect with other human resources, producers, Knights and Dames of the No Agenda Show from around the world. These meetups are for the producers of the show and unless noted otherwise John and Adam aren't attending these meetups.
If you want to host a meetup on your area contact an organizer to get your meetup posted.
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18 U.S. Code § 249 - Hate crime acts | US Law | LII / Legal Information Institute
Tue, 22 Aug 2017 15:52
Severability Pub. L. 111''84, div. E, §'¯4709, Oct. 28, 2009 , 123 Stat. 2841, provided that:
''If any provision of this division [enacting this section and section 1389 of this title and sections 3716 and 3716a of Title 42, The Public Health and Welfare, amending this section, enacting provisions set out as notes under this section and section 3716 of Title 42, and amending provisions set out as a note under section 534 and provisions listed in a table relating to sentencing guidelines set out under section 994 of Title 28, Judiciary and Judicial Procedure], an amendment made by this division, or the application of such provision or amendment to any person or circumstance is held to be unconstitutional, the remainder of this division, the amendments made by this division, and the application of the provisions of such to any person or circumstance shall not be affected thereby.''Rule of Construction Pub. L. 111''84, div. E, §'¯4710, Oct. 28, 2009 , 123 Stat. 2841, provided that:
''For purposes of construing this division [see Severability note above] and the amendments made by this division the following shall apply: ''(1) In general.'-- Nothing in this division shall be construed to allow a court, in any criminal trial for an offense described under this division or an amendment made by this division, in the absence of a stipulation by the parties, to admit evidence of speech, beliefs, association, group membership, or expressive conduct unless that evidence is relevant and admissible under the Federal Rules of Evidence. Nothing in this division is intended to affect the existing rules of evidence.
''(2) Violent acts.'-- This division applies to violent acts motivated by actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability of a victim.
''(3) Construction and application.'-- Nothing in this division, or an amendment made by this division, shall be construed or applied in a manner that infringes any rights under the first amendment to the Constitution of the United States. Nor shall anything in this division, or an amendment made by this division, be construed or applied in a manner that substantially burdens a person's exercise of religion (regardless of whether compelled by, or central to, a system of religious belief), speech, expression, or association, unless the Government demonstrates that application of the burden to the person is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest and is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest, if such exercise of religion, speech, expression, or association was not intended to'-- ''(A) plan or prepare for an act of physical violence; or
''(B) incite an imminent act of physical violence against another.
''(4) Free expression.'-- Nothing in this division shall be construed to allow prosecution based solely upon an individual's expression of racial, religious, political, or other beliefs or solely upon an individual's membership in a group advocating or espousing such beliefs.
''(5) First amendment.'-- Nothing in this division, or an amendment made by this division, shall be construed to diminish any rights under the first amendment to the Constitution of the United States.
''(6) Constitutional protections.'-- Nothing in this division shall be construed to prohibit any constitutionally protected speech, expressive conduct or activities (regardless of whether compelled by, or central to, a system of religious belief), including the exercise of religion protected by the first amendment to the Constitution of the United States and peaceful picketing or demonstration. The Constitution of the United States does not protect speech, conduct or activities consisting of planning for, conspiring to commit, or committing an act of violence.''
Findings Pub. L. 111''84, div. E, §'¯4702, Oct. 28, 2009 , 123 Stat. 2835, provided that:
''Congress makes the following findings: ''(1) The incidence of violence motivated by the actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability of the victim poses a serious national problem.
''(2) Such violence disrupts the tranquility and safety of communities and is deeply divisive.
''(3) State and local authorities are now and will continue to be responsible for prosecuting the overwhelming majority of violent crimes in the United States, including violent crimes motivated by bias. These authorities can carry out their responsibilities more effectively with greater Federal assistance.
''(4) Existing Federal law is inadequate to address this problem.
''(5) A prominent characteristic of a violent crime motivated by bias is that it devastates not just the actual victim and the family and friends of the victim, but frequently savages the community sharing the traits that caused the victim to be selected.
''(6) Such violence substantially affects interstate commerce in many ways, including the following: ''(A) The movement of members of targeted groups is impeded, and members of such groups are forced to move across State lines to escape the incidence or risk of such violence.
''(B) Members of targeted groups are prevented from purchasing goods and services, obtaining or sustaining employment, or participating in other commercial activity.
''(C) Perpetrators cross State lines to commit such violence.
''(D) Channels, facilities, and instrumentalities of interstate commerce are used to facilitate the commission of such violence.
''(E) Such violence is committed using articles that have traveled in interstate commerce.
''(7) For generations, the institutions of slavery and involuntary servitude were defined by the race, color, and ancestry of those held in bondage. Slavery and involuntary servitude were enforced, both prior to and after the adoption of the 13th amendment to the Constitution of the United States, through widespread public and private violence directed at persons because of their race, color, or ancestry, or perceived race, color, or ancestry. Accordingly, eliminating racially motivated violence is an important means of eliminating, to the extent possible, the badges, incidents, and relics of slavery and involuntary servitude.
''(8) Both at the time when the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments to the Constitution of the United States were adopted, and continuing to date, members of certain religious and national origin groups were and are perceived to be distinct 'races'. Thus, in order to eliminate, to the extent possible, the badges, incidents, and relics of slavery, it is necessary to prohibit assaults on the basis of real or perceived religions or national origins, at least to the extent such religions or national origins were regarded as races at the time of the adoption of the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments to the Constitution of the United States.
''(9) Federal jurisdiction over certain violent crimes motivated by bias enables Federal, State, and local authorities to work together as partners in the investigation and prosecution of such crimes.
''(10) The problem of crimes motivated by bias is sufficiently serious, widespread, and interstate in nature as to warrant Federal assistance to States, local jurisdictions, and Indian tribes.''
[For definitions of ''State'' and ''local'' used in section 4702 of Pub. L. 111''84, set out above, see section 4703(b) of Pub. L. 111''84, set out as a note under section 3716 of Title 42, The Public Health and Welfare.]
Toppling statues? Here's why Nelson's column should be next | Afua Hirsch | Opinion | The Guardian
Thu, 24 Aug 2017 11:30
T he area I grew up in, leafy Wimbledon in south-west London, is bordered by memorials to two towering historical figures. One side dedicates its streets and walls to the legacy of the abolitionist William Wilberforce: the remnants of a house where he lounged with his friends, and the mounting block he used to get on his horse to ride to the Houses of Parliament, still stand.
The other side is devoted to Admiral Horatio Nelson, who having defeated the French navy bought a romantic estate where he stayed with his lover, Emma Hamilton. So many streets, pubs, shops and other local businesses recall this history that local estate agents refer to the area as The Battles.
Related: Confederate statues removed across southern US states '' in pictures
These two contemporaneous, though contrasting, histories are symbolic of the problems Britain faces in confronting its past. Wilberforce, unquestionably a force for good, helped end, in 1807, Britain's official involvement in the transatlantic slave trade. But he was not alone. The enormous contribution of black people in Britain at the time '' especially activists and writers who were slaves themselves '' has no equivalent site of glory, in London or anywhere in the country.
One of the obstacles all these abolitionists had to overcome was the influence of Nelson, who was what you would now call, without hesitation, a white supremacist. While many around him were denouncing slavery, Nelson was vigorously defending it. Britain's best known naval hero '' so idealised that after his death in 1805 he was compared to no less than ''the God who made him'' '' used his seat in the House of Lords and his position of huge influence to perpetuate the tyranny, serial rape and exploitation organised by West Indian planters, some of whom he counted among his closest friends.
It is figures like Nelson who immediately spring to mind when I hear the latest news of confederate statues being pulled down in the US. These memorials '' more than 700 of which still stand in states including Virginia, Georgia and Texas '' have always been the subject of offence and trauma for many African Americans, who rightly see them as glorifying the slavery and then segregation of their not so distant past. But when these statues begin to fulfil their intended purpose of energising white supremacist groups, the issue periodically attracts more mainstream interest.
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Battle over Confederate statuesDespite student protests, Oxford University's statue of imperialist Cecil Rhodes has not been taken down
The reaction in Britain has been, as in the rest of the world, almost entirely condemnatory of neo-Nazis in the US and of its president for failing to denounce them. But when it comes to our own statues, things get a little awkward. The colonial and pro-slavery titans of British history are still memorialised: despite student protests, Oxford University's statue of imperialist Cecil Rhodes has not been taken down; and Bristol still celebrates its notorious slaver Edward Colston. When I tweeted this weekend that it's time we in Britain look again at our own landscape, the reaction was hostile.
''I don't want that nonsense spreading here from America. Past is past, we have moved on,'' one person said. Another accused me of being a ''#ClosetRacist'' for even raising the question. But the most common sentiment was summed up in this tweet: ''Its History '' we cant & shouldn't re-write it '' we learn from it. Removing statues would make us no different to terrorists at Palmyra.'' Therein lies the point. Britain has committed unquantifiable acts of cultural terrorism '' tearing down statues and palaces, and erasing the historical memory of other great civilisations during an imperial era whose supposed greatness we are now, so ironically, very precious about preserving intact.
And we knew what we were doing at the time. One detail that has always struck me is how, when the British destroyed the centuries-old Summer Palace in Beijing in 1860 and gave a little dog they'd stolen as a gift to Queen Victoria, she humorously named it ''Looty''. This is one of the long list of things we are content to forget while sucking on the opium of ''historical integrity'' we claim our colonial statues represent.
We have ''moved on'' from this era no more than the US has from its slavery and segregationist past. The difference is that America is now in the midst of frenzied debate on what to do about it, whereas Britain '' in our inertia, arrogance and intellectual laziness '' is not.
The statues that remain are not being ''put in their historical context'', as is often claimed. Take Nelson's column. Yes, it does include the figure of a black sailor, cast in bronze in the bas-relief. He was probably one of the thousands of slaves promised freedom if they fought for the British military, only to be later left destitute, begging and homeless, on London's streets when the war was over.
Related: The storm around America's statues isn't about history. It's about whiteness | Eddie S Glaude, Jr
But nothing about this ''context'' is accessible to the people who crane their necks in awe of Nelson. The black slaves whose brutalisation made Britain the global power it then was remain invisible, erased and unseen.
The people so energetically defending statues of Britain's white supremacists remain entirely unconcerned about righting this persistent wrong. They are content to leave the other side of the story where it is now '' in Nelson's case, among the dust and the pigeons, 52 metres below the admiral's feet. The message seems to be that is the only place where the memory of the black contribution to Britain's past belongs.
' Afua Hirsch is a writer and broadcaster
'Deadpool 2' Crew Warned Producers Before Stuntwoman's Death
Thu, 24 Aug 2017 11:55
As Canada's WorkSafeBC continues to investigate the death of Joi ''SJ'' Harris, a stuntwoman who was killed in a motorcycle accident when a stunt went wrong on the Vancouver set of Deadpool 2 last week, new information suggests that Hollywood's lack of diversity might have indirectly contributed to her death. Sources tell TheHollywood Reporter that crew members alerted producers that Harris was too inexperienced to safely pull off the stunt, noting her previous crashes on practice runs, but were ignored because producers felt an African-American woman needed to perform the stunt for accurate representation. (Harris was standing in for Atlanta's Zazie Beetz, who plays Domino, in the scene.) Though Harris was a licensed racer, Deadpool 2 was her first film and the accident occurred during her first live take.
''I cringed every time she went out. Like, when is she going to crash?'' a stuntperson who trained with Harris tells THR, saying they left the film after producers failed to listen to concerns. ''They were warned, yes!'' According to the crew, Harris was the second choice for the stunt because the first hire struggled on the motorcycle in rehearsals.
One stunt coordinator who spoke with Deadpool 2 crew members says that producers risked Harris's life by wanting Beetz to have a racially correct double: ''The producers put pressure to have somebody of the same sex and ethnicity in a position she wasn't qualified to be in. The stunt coordinators caved to the pressure. All the stunt people could do was take it to their higher-ups. They're going to follow their chain of command.'' THR's sources believe that producers having few options for an experienced black female stuntwoman is endemic of Hollywood's whiteness across all fields. In 2014, the issue made headlines when Gothamattempted to use a white stuntwoman in blackface as a stand-in for a black actress despite union opposition to such practices; the show eventually cast a black stuntwoman and said it ''made a mistake.''
On Deadpool 2, ''if the movie's producers had to go outside of the normal stunt community to find someone who was both qualified and resembles the actress, that speaks to a problem of lack of diversity of stunt performers,'' a contributor to the annual ''Hollywood Diversity Report'' tells THR.
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''The producers put pressure to have somebody of the same sex and ethnicity in a position she wasn't qualified to be in.''
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Trump isn't the first president to skip the glitzy ceremony, but he's the first to do it to avoid ''political distraction.''
Netflix Edits Old 'Bill Nye' Episode To Hide Segment Saying Chromosomes Determine Gender | Daily Wire
Thu, 24 Aug 2017 12:28
When confronted with politically incorrect language which exposes a leftist hero as a self-contradicting sellout, the only solution is some modern day book burning!
In an original version of a 1996 Bill Nye the Science Guy episode, called "Probability," a young girl explains that it's your chromosomes that determine your sex and gender, which there are two of, not 97. This segment has now been removed entirely from the Netflix version of the episode. The Ministry of Truth has made sure that Nye has always believed gender is fluid.
"I'm a girl. Could have just as easily been a boy, though, because the probability of becoming a girl is always 1 in 2," says the young girl in the original episode.
"See, inside each of our cells are these things called chromosomes, and they control whether we become a boy or a girl," she continues. "See, there are only two possibilities: XX, a girl, or XY, a boy."
Of course, such basic scientific truth flies in the face of the liberal and Bill Nye-supported narrative that chromosomes have nothing to do with gender, which is totally detached from your sex (though the left turns around and conflates the two when convenient); it's feelings that actually change your biology and determine if you're male or female.
So, naturally, such blasphemy had to be scrubbed from existence, which is not fascistic at all and super science-y.
Since the days of Nye videos filling up time in your middle school science class, the Not a Scientist Guy has completely sold out to the progressive ideological agenda. Nye's new series on Netflix, Bill Nye Saves the World, is filled with some of the most anti-science Left-wing propaganda available. Not only does Nye claim sex and gender are on a "spectrum" (they aren't), he even suggests, bizarrely using animated ice cream, that monogamous heterosexuality is immoral.
Again with all the science.
As noted by The Washington Free Beacon, "It is not clear whether the 1996 segment was cut when it was first uploaded, or whether the edit was in reaction to recent controversies over Bill Nye's stance on gender identity."
As the Left scrubs scientific realities they dislike from past media without so much as a disclaimer, it's important to remember that the "Religious Right" is our greatest threat to fascism. Or something.
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Armed forces will patrol streets in armoured vehicles | Daily Mail Online
Sun, 20 Aug 2017 21:06
Security sources disclosed last night that elite troops will mingle with revellersMale and female personnel will remain incognito unless they are called upon List of locations thought to be the most likely targets for IS is being finalisedBy Mark Nicol Defence Correspondent For The Mail On Sunday
Published: 19:39 EDT, 19 August 2017 | Updated: 09:26 EDT, 20 August 2017
Heavily-armed Special Forces soldiers driving specially adapted and armoured civilian vehicles will patrol Britain's streets in a bid to thwart an Islamic State atrocity over the Bank Holiday Weekend.
Security sources disclosed last night that elite troops will mingle with revellers and tourists at sites considered most at risk of a terrorist attack. But the male and female personnel will remain incognito unless called upon to intercept any jihadis.
A security source told The Mail on Sunday last night: 'They will be casually dressed with their weapons hidden beneath their clothes. They won't be in traditional military vehicles either.
A girl has her photo taken with Armed Police at V Festival in Weston Park, Staffordshire
'Recently, a company of Special Forces Support Group troops completed a live firing exercise using Civilian Armoured Vehicles and they will be called upon.
'These are regular cars but with special adaptations such as armour-plated doors and reinforced bullet-proof windows to assist them in an urban close quarter battle scenario,' the source added.
'The other troops who have been called up for the Bank Holiday Weekend include personnel from the Special Reconnaissance Regiment, who are experts in undercover operations.'
It is understood a list of locations in London and around the UK thought to be the most likely targets for IS is being finalised. This is likely to include airports and major sports stadiums.
'The terrorists are also thought to be planning a 'triple tap' attack '' three incidents either simultaneously or shortly afterwards but in the same vicinity,' added the source.
The Ministry of Defence declined to comment last night.
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Angela Merkel: US, UK Are Enemies Of Germany Once Again
Mon, 21 Aug 2017 18:16
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has warned citizens that the U.S. and UK are both enemies of the Germans once again, in a speech reminiscent of Nazi Germany.
Speaking at an election rally in Munich on Sunday, Merkel said that the European Union, headed by Germany, should no longer count on the United States and Britain as being its ''allies'', warning the EU that they ''must take its fate into its own hands.''
Germany tried to take over the world once and nearly succeeded during World War I. They tried again a few years later during World War II; almost wiping out an entire race of people. It seems they are building to try for a third time.
''The times in which we could completely depend on others are on the way out. I've experienced that in the last few days,'' Merkel told the German crowd.
Presstv.com reports: She said Germany and France, as the two dominant forces in the EU, have to seek broader relations to compensate for the lack of commitment shown by the US and Britain.
''We Europeans truly have to take our fate into our own hands,'' Merkel said, adding, ''we have to fight for our own destiny''.
The comments came a day after Merkel expressed frustration at the way Trump handled a debate on climate change in the G7 summit. All other six members of the group said they would stick to the terms of a landmark climate deal reached in Paris in 2015 but Trump said he would announce his position on the issue next week. Merkel said after the meeting that the ''discussion on the topic of climate was very difficult, not to say very unsatisfactory.''
During his presidential campaign, Trump had vowed to revise US commitments under the Paris Agreement, saying the deal, which he had branded as a Chinese hoax, would seriously harm jobs inside the United States while it hugely benefits countries like China.
Trump and European governments have clashed on other issues, including Trump's criticism that NATO allies have repeatedly failed to meet the defensive alliance's military spending commitment of 2.0 percent of GDP.
Latest posts by Sean Adl-Tabatabai (see all) Previous Exclusive: President Trump Dumps 'Phoney' Paris Climate Agreement
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'There are more terrorists in Europe than we suspect' '' Westmonster
Mon, 21 Aug 2017 19:34
Masoud Aqil, a journalist who was taken prisoner by the Islamic State, has warned that there are a lot more terrorists in Europe than we're being led to believe.
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The 24-year-old has written an explosive new book, entitled ''In the middle of us'' all about his time in captivity and his subsequent work tracking down terrorists who have fled to Europe.
He told Austrian magazine Krone: ''I can assure you that more Islamic terrorists are in Europe than we know about. For someone like me who was in an ISIS p rison, it was always clear that in 2015 hundreds of dangerous radicals and terrorists were disguised as refugees in Europe. I have heard how these people are talking about how they threaten Europe.
''These people have not chosen Bulgaria, Croatia or Hungary, but rather, safe, safe countries like Germany, Austria, Sweden, England, France and now Spain,'' he added.
''They can do most damage there. They just wait for an opportunity. Once they are there, they will use them.''
Aquil also makes shocking claims about countries like Turkey, saying it ''has not opened the borders for humanitarian reasons at the time, but above all to trigger a crisis in Europe.''
He also claims that it would be easy for ISIS to be defeated if the appetite were there to do so, but he strongly believes that Middle Eastern countries benefit from the Islamic State: ''The truth is, the Syrian regime is just as much behind ISIS as the government in Baghdad and Iran. All the dictators in the Middle East benefit from ISIS, even Qatar and also Saudi Arabia. All these countries benefit, so Turkey has supported ISIS openly. During my detention, we saw hundreds Toyota Hilux pick- up trucks, brand new! Where do they come from?''
Westmonster wonders if Aquil will be invited onto mainstream news shows to discuss the dangers he talks about? It's time we took our head out of the sand and began listening to those who have seen the warnings first hand'...
Sebastian Kurz: –sterreich warnt vor t¼rkischem und saudischem Einfluss auf dem Balkan - WELT
Tue, 22 Aug 2017 10:35
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'žDas Gewicht der EU auf dem Balkan schwindet''
Quelle: N24
–sterreichs Verteidigungsminister Doskozil fordert von Deutschland mehr Engagement in den Balkan-L¤ndern. 'žWir sehen auf dem Balkan eine schleichende Islamisierung'', warnte er bereits im Juni - AuŸeminister Kurz springt ihm nun bei.
Quelle: N24
–sterreichs AuŸenminister richtet scharfe Vorw¼rfe gegen Saudi-Arabien und die T¼rkei. In Sarajevo oder Pristina etwa w¼rden 'žFrauen daf¼r bezahlt, voll verschleiert auf die StraŸe zu gehen, um das StraŸenbild zu ¤ndern''.
– sterreichs AuŸenminister Sebastian Kurz hat vor einem wachsenden Einfluss der T¼rkei und Saudi-Arabiens auf dem Westbalkan gewarnt. In Sarajevo oder Pristina etwa w¼rden 'žFrauen daf¼r bezahlt, voll verschleiert auf die StraŸe zu gehen, um das StraŸenbild zu ¤ndern'', sagte Kurz dem 'žHandelsblatt''. 'žHier d¼rfen wir nicht tatenlos zusehen'', forderte er.
Der AuŸenminister forderte vor diesem Hintergrund eine Beschleunigung des Ann¤herungsprozesses des Westbalkans an die EU. Zwar stehe die EU derzeit vor Herausforderungen wie dem Brexit, der Fl¼chtlingskrise oder dem islamistischen Terrorismus, dennoch d¼rfe der Westbalkan nicht aus dem Blick geraten.
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–sterreichs AuŸenminister Kurz
Es handele sich um eine Region mit jungen Staaten, in denen Spannungen untereinander oder zwischen verschiedenen Ethnien zuletzt wieder zugenommen h¤tten. 'žWir m¼ssen daher weiterhin eine aktive Rolle in dieser f¼r die EU so wichtigen Region spielen, Reformen und den Kampf gegen Radikalisierung unterst¼tzen sowie eine glaubhafte EU-Perspektive bieten'', sagte Kurz dem Blatt.
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Salafismus auf dem Balkan
Bereits im Mai hatte die deutsche Bundesregierung erkl¤rt, sie beobachte islamistische Einflussnahme im Westbalkan durch Saudi-Arabien und andere Golfstaaten. 'žSaudi-arabische Missionierungsorganisationen sind auch im Kosovo aktiv und verbreiten hier die von Saudi-Arabien vertretene wahhabitische Interpretation des Islam, etwa durch die Entsendung von Predigern'', antwortete sie auf eine Anfrage der Linken-Bundestagsfraktion.
Dar¼ber hinaus sei der Bundesregierung nach 'žein kontinuierliches Engagement arabischer Geldgeber '' Einzelpersonen, Nichtregierungsorganisationen sowie staatliche und halb staatliche Institutionen '' in der Islamischen Gemeinde Kosovos (BIK) feststellbar''.
Inzwischen wurden viele saudi-arabischen Stiftungen verboten. Doch dadurch sind die Finanzfl¼sse intransparenter geworden. Welche Gelder in den Kosovo flieŸen und an wen, ist nicht nachpr¼fbar.
(C) WeltN24 GmbH. Alle Rechte vorbehalten.
Pope says migrants' rights should override national security concerns
Mon, 21 Aug 2017 17:02
VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Francis urged political leaders on Monday to defend migrants, saying their safety should take precedence over national security concerns and that they should not be subjected to collective deportations.
His challenge to politicians, made in a comprehensive position paper on migrants and refugees, again appeared to put him at odds with the restrictive policies of a number of governments dealing with growing popular anti-immigrant sentiment.
"Solidarity must be concretely expressed at every stage of the migratory experience '' from departure through journey to arrival and return," he said in a message ahead of the Roman Catholic Church's World Day of Migrants and Refugees.
Calling for "broader options for migrants and refugees to enter destination countries safely and legally," he said the human rights and dignity of all migrants had to be respected regardless of their legal status.
"The principle of the centrality of the human person ... obliges us to always prioritize personal safety over national security," he said.
This appeared to be a reference to fears voiced in many European countries that refugees inflows could lead to security problems in their host countries. He said it was necessary "to ensure that agents in charge of border control are properly trained."
He called for "alternative solutions to detention" for illegal immigrants and said "collective and arbitrary expulsions of migrants and refugees are not suitable solutions".
Pope Francis make his speech during his Sunday Angelus prayer in Saint Peter's square at the Vatican, August 20, 2017. Alessandro Bianchi Francis said migrants should be seen as "a true resource for the communities that welcome them" and be given freedom of movement, access to means of communication, access to justice and everyday rights such as opening a bank account.
Francis, an Argentine who has made defense of migrants a major plank of his papacy, has criticized anti-immigrant stands by national leaders including U.S. President Donald Trump. Last year, Francis condemned then-candidate Trump's intention to build a wall on the border with Mexico.
Security cameras are seen in front of Pope Francis as he leads a Sunday Angelus prayer in Saint Peter's square at the Vatican, August 20, 2017. Alessandro Bianchi Migrant children deserved particular protection, the pope said. They "must be spared any form of detention related to migratory status," guaranteed access to primary and secondary education and have the right to remain when they come of age.
Francis's message immediately drew the ire of the right-wing Northern League party in Italy because it implicitly supported a controversial law proposal that would grant citizenship to children who are born in Italy of immigrant parents.
"The universal right to a nationality should be recognized and duly certified for all children at birth," the pope said.
Northern League leader Matteo Salvini responded: "If he wants to apply it in his state, the Vatican, he can go right ahead."
World leaders are due to commit their countries to two global compacts, one on refugees and the other on migrants, by the end of 2018 under the auspices of the United Nations.
Reporting By Philip Pullella; Editing by Richard Balmforth
Portugal, the country that can't get enough refugees | Middle East Eye
Thu, 24 Aug 2017 11:29
Portuguese rally in Lisbon for refugees in 2015. Two years later, hardly any have arrived (AFP)
Lisbon ­'' Mohamad Abou Ras has a cellphone full of questions. Five to six drop into his WhatsApp every day from migrants in Turkey and Greece, and others already in more western parts of Europe.
"I've been accepted to Portugal '' what's the situation there?" is a common query. Others are more specific - on healthcare, housing and Portuguese language classes.
Abou Ras answers them all, sharing his own experience as a refugee and referring them to official sources where possible. After only eight months in the country, the 27-year-old has become a guide to others looking to settle here. "I didn't know anything!" he said. "I didn't know Portugal was in the European Union. I just knew Cristiano Ronaldo."
Despite volunteers such as Abou Ras and a community willing to help, a generous state offering safety and security, and a favourable climate and relaxed culture, Portugal is finding it hard to attract refugees in any significant numbers, let alone keep those who arrive.
So far, Portugal has received roughly half of the 2,951 asylum seekers it is legally required to take in from camps in Greece and Italy under the EU emergency relocation scheme, the vast majority coming from the Middle East.
At the same time, more than 40 percent of those who have arrived have left within 18 months, according to May figures cited in Portuguese media.
Portuguese hold a banner saying 'borders kill' during a rally in Lisbon in 2015 (AFP)
Open arms, open bordersAt a time when EU members are closing their borders or grudgingly taking their "share" of migrants, Portugal has adopted a "come on down" attitude. The prime minister, Antonio Costa, in 2015 said his country could support 10,000 refugees when asked to take in 1,600 through the emergency relocation scheme.
While there has not been too much talk of the 10,000 figure since then, the country has formally pledged to take close to 4,600, far more than its obligation.
Portuguese families and churches offer homes, clothing and language exchanges. Syrian babies born in Portugal are celebrated in the media. There is little of the right-wing rhetoric, seen in countries such as the UK, focused on the "burden" of migrants.
The state offers 18 months of free housing, a monthly stipend of 150 euros ($177) each migrant, and access to language classes to integrate new arrivals into Portuguese society.
Why then, does Portugal struggle to fill its quotas? The reasons are myriad.
There are no family or friend networks that support the arrival of other refugees
- Cristina Santinho, Lisbon University Institute
First, there is the lack of established ethnic communities. Portugal simply does not have a history of immigration comparable to Germany, France and Britain, particularly from Arabic-speaking countries.
"The number of refugees and asylum seekers is still very, very small in comparison with other countries," said Cristina Santinho, a researcher specialised in refugees and human rights at the Lisbon University Institute (ISCTE-IUL), where she also hosts an integration course for new arrivals.
"So there are no family networks and no friend networks that support the arrival of other refugees."
Second, the state's generous welcoming package is hampered by poor management and a patchwork of competing systems, meaning some of what is promised is poorly delivered.
Third is jobs. While Portugal's economy has been recovering since the financial crisis, it is heavy on service and tourism-based jobs that require good language skills. Most arrivals speak neither English nor Portuguese.
And lastly is location: some refugees find themselves placed not in the bustling cities of Porto and Lisbon but in rural areas where the cultural isolation and language shocks are more pronounced.
'I didn't know Portugal was in the European Union': Mohamad Abou Ras looks over a mural showing events from Portuguese history (MEE/Kim-Jenna Jurriaans)
Refugees step inThese are problems Abou Ras wants to help migrants overcome through an association he recently founded with a handful of other asylum seekers, called "Families of Refugees". But it's a hard nut to crack.
Part of the puzzle is better connecting the newcomers with the various institutions that offer support, he said.
The idea is simple: when newcomers need help applying for their social security number or have trouble figuring out the bus system, someone with experience would lend a hand '' think of an expat-help bureau but for asylum seekers.
"We are refugees and we know what refugees need," said Abou Ras. "We can help."
They also hope Families of Refugees can eventually partner on cultural events and employment projects with the main institutions responsible for refugees here.
Those institutions recognise the need for interlocutors that build bridges like these.
"It's actually become kind of a running gag with our colleagues in other organisations that refugees are more in touch with each other than their social workers and case workers are," said Luis Bernardo, a project officer with the Portuguese Refugee Council, known as CPR in Portuguese.
As the implementing partner in Portugal of UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, it provides housing and legal aid to new arrivals, among other services.
Refugees are more in touch with each other than their social workers
- Luis Bernardo, Portuguese Refugee Council
"It becomes hilarious talking to clients because they know more about the operations of other organisations than we do."
While Portugal's all-hands-on-deck response to the refugee crisis shows genuine solidarity, he said, it has also made for a patchwork system. "There is no judgment on my part, it was a political decision and I have to respects it, but the state entirely relied on civil society organisations to provide capacity."
In practice, this means that asylum seekers are placed on arrival with different support organisations and may have also access to different services.
Time running outThe al-Hasan al-Khedeirs, a family of seven from Aleppo, Syria, now live in Marvila, a plush area not far from Lisbon's airport. In Syria, Yusef, 44, worked as an accountant at a factory. His wife, Mona, 39, sold clothes.
When Aleppo became unlivable, they headed for Turkey, found steady work there, and over three years built a new life among family and friends.
"We had no plan of coming to Europe," Mona said over tea and homemade pastries in the family's Lisbon living room.
But their middle son, 15-year-old Lawrence, had an eye condition that required a special operation, and they were advised to seek treatment in Portugal, she said. They applied for a special medical status and were allowed to come.
A year later, Lawrence has yet to be seen by a specialist '' his appointment is in October '' and the family is fast approaching the end of their free housing and financial support.
Time is running out for Mona al-Hasan al-Khedeir and her family (MEE/Kim-Jenna Jurriaans)
Yusef and Mona have had a hard time finding work, meaning they will soon rely on social security and council housing '' yet another bureaucracy to master in a language they do not speak.
"We found a volunteer who would teach us Portuguese, but they lived far away," Yusef said. In an effort to save money, the family went about on foot.
"We would walk for an hour and a half to have an hour-long Portuguese class. And then we'd walk an hour and a half back," he said. "And sometimes the teacher would not show up, so we had walked three hours for nothing."
We would walk for an hour and a half to have an hour-long Portuguese class. And then we'd walk an hour and a half back
- Yusef al-Hasan al-Khedeir
Their school-aged children, meanwhile, have been sitting at home entertaining each other, equally isolated by their lack of language and community. They will attend school for the first time this autumn.
"We speak in the language of food now," said Mona, who started a small catering enterprise to subsidise their income, cooking Syrian food for a handful of people she knows in the larger refugee support community in Lisbon.
Yusef, who has had two heart attacks since arriving in Portugal, started importing Syrian products '' coffee, sweets, fruit tobacco '' and selling them to Middle Eastern restaurants through a Facebook page he set up.
"We do what we can," he said.
Meanwhile, Mona's sister, who was relocated to Sweden around the same time the al-Hasan al-Khedeirs arrived in Portugal, has found steady work there, bought a car and just went on her first vacation.
Do they regret coming here? "Yes," said Mona. But now that they're here, they're going to try to make it work. "We have no other choice."
In support of integrationExperiences like theirs are not uncommon, Bernardo knows. It is part of the reason why some of the more lofty ideas behind Portugal's openness to refugees '' the idea that they could fix Portugal's demographic decline and provide an economic pick-me-up to sleepy rural areas '' are too simplistic, he said.
"The problem is not so much that [these ideas] don't make sense. It's that they overlook and underestimate structural problems that we really need to face," he said. "Does the country provide the necessary structures for short-term integration?"
Less than two years into accepting the first Syrian asylum seekers, organizations like CPR are learning from their experiences. And faced with many voluntary departures, they're re-assessing their course of action.
Placing individual families in remote corners of Portugal where there are limited services, for example, hasn't helped them integrate or build a sense of belonging here.
Both Bernardo and Santinho agree that there's a serious skill shortage in cultural mediation and intercultural communication that needs to be solved with future arrivals.
Yusef and Mona al-Hasan al-Khedeir and their children (MEE/Kim-Jenna Jurriaans)
Leaving Portugal behindMahmoud Zamzom, 29, is one of them. Speaking via Skype from an asylum centre in Berlin, the Homs native and his family of three left Portugal after being relocated here under the emergency scheme.
Back in Greece, Zamzom had already had his sights set on Germany, but when his family was accepted by Portugal, he wanted to at least check it out, he said. Like others before him, he had heard mixed stories through the worldwide web of refugees, WhatsApp.
"But I wanted to see it with my won eyes," he said.
Right on arrival the family was placed in a small village near Porto. The house lacked heating, and they felt isolated.
He asked the organisation responsible for them if they could be placed in Lisbon or a larger city, but he was told it would be their home for the next year and a half. Five days after arriving, he and his family were on their way to Germany.
Now his asylum request in Germany has been rejected, and under the EU's Dublin agreement covering responsibility for refugees his family will need to return to Portugal. Zamzom is set on fighting the decision.
"We have family here, and I know I can find a job easily," he said of Berlin.
It is but one example of why the Dublin agreement simply doesn't work, according to Bernardo.
You will have a very large number of people being forced back to Portugal when they really don't want to be here
- Luis Bernardo, Portuguese Refugee Council
"In the foreseeable future what you will have is a very large number of people being forced back to Portugal when they really don't want to be here," he said.
"It puts a toll on workers like me and my colleagues because we want to support people. And what we see is we will never provide people with what they need, which is their families and their friends."
These short stays are not a new phenomenon, though, Santinho stressed. Historically, refugees have always treated Portugal as more of a place to catch their breath and travel on, she said.
"Portugal is a poor country without expectations of getting a job easily. It's not an attractive country to stay."
But it is important to remember, she said, that many of the problems refugees face are similar to those that poor Portuguese people struggle with.
Abou Ras watches a tram in the Alfama area of Lisbon (MEE/Kim-Jenna Jurriaans)
Making it workAbou Ras, meanwhile, is determined to make it work here '' for himself and for others.
He is working on a website for his association and setting up regular food events in Lisbon to bring Syrians and locals together. Proceeds will go to the chefs and their families. Mona will be one of them.
It is a bit of balm to soothe the growing pains of a system adjusting to new demands in a time of emergency, but in a community as small as the Middle Eastern refugee population here it could make a difference.
In the autumn, Abou Ras will start classes at one of Lisbon's universities in human resources management, a move he hopes will make finding a job easier.
Classes will be all in Portuguese, and he's been studying hard.
"Portugal is still the best place for refugees," he said, as he watched a tram trundle through the Moorish Alfama district of Lisbon.
"People here are nice, they want to help - elsewhere they hate us."
Border crossers task force to meet, review next steps in coping with asylum seekers
Tue, 22 Aug 2017 20:33
Immigration minister deploying more staff to Montreal to cope with influx of asylum seekersThe Canadian Press
23 Minutes Ago
Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen says additional members of his department are being deployed in Montreal to allow initial claims for asylum to be assessed faster. (Fred Chartrand/Canadian Press)The federal-provincial task force charged with managing an unprecedented flow of asylum seekers over the Canada-U.S.. border will meet Wednesday in Montreal to review next steps in handling the surge.
While officials said this week that the number of those crossing into Quebec has declined to about 140 a day from 250 a day last week, the federal government continues to ramp up its ability to process their claims for refugee status '-- and to be ready for a potential new spike in arrivals.
More than 6,000 people have crossed illegally into Quebec from New York since July, the vast majority Haitians. They're believed to be fleeing an announcement by the U.S. government that it is considering lifting temporary protected status for Haitian nationals, meaning thousands could end up deported back to Haiti.
But they're not the only group facing that policy change: temporary protected status for citizens from nine other countries is set to expire in the coming months and there's no guarantee the U.S. will renew it.
Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen says he's aware citizens from those countries could very well be seeking to tread the same rocky paths over the Canada-U.S. border as Haitians continue to do.
Canada doesn't know if protected status will be lifted, Hussen said in an interview Tuesday.
"Every country has a sovereign right to decide who comes into their country, who stays, who gets removed and the United States is no exception," he said.
"But we will be vigorous, we will be proactive."
Battling misinformationThe federal Liberals have been accused by the Opposition Conservatives of being anything but proactive in their response to the increased numbers of asylum seekers coming into Canada since the start of the year.
While the change in U.S. policy is likely the root cause of the Haitians migration, they've been spurred as well by false information circulating since the spring on social media and elsewhere. The information has suggested that Canada will give them special status because of their temporary protected position in the U.S.
Hussen said it was not fair to suggest the government hasn't been doing enough outreach.
He noted that he and others have been stressing for months that those crossing illegally into Canada have no guarantee of asylum and have also repeatedly pointed out that all security screening procedures are being followed.
It was, however, was only last week that Canadian consulates in the U.S. were drafted into efforts to clear up misconceptions about Canada's system.
Mobile immigration teamOn Wednesday, Liberal MP Emmanuel Dubourg will travel to Miami for direct contact with the Haitian diaspora there, using his status as a member of Canada's Haitian community and fluent Creole skills to try and manage the issue.
Dubourg is also a member of the task force that will be meeting in Montreal on Wednesday.
He said in an interview with The Canadian Press this week that, for now, he's unaware of any efforts being made to directly reach out to groups from other countries who could be looking to come to Canada.
Hussen said the efforts underway in Canada to deal with the current flow will stand the government in good stead should there be another wave.
Among the measures to be discussed Wednesday include progress in increasing the number of immigration officers available in both Montreal and Cornwall, Ont., '-- where hundreds of asylum seekers are being temporarily housed '-- in order to process claims faster.
Eventually, the goal is to build a mobile team of immigration officials who could process claims on site '-- a group that could be deployed should another surge materialize.'‹
Trudeau must dispel the myth there's 'always a place' for refugees in Canada: Robyn Urback
Thu, 24 Aug 2017 11:27
Opinion Opinion
PM should speak to Haitians and reveal low rate of acceptance for claimsRobyn Urback - CBC News
August 23, 2017
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tells reporters in Maxville, Ont., that Quebec has enough resources to cope with the recent surge in asylum seekers crossing the border into Canada illegally from the U.S. (CBC)What can Canada do about the thousands of asylum seekers now pouring over the Quebec border from the United States every month?
The solution is very simple, according to some:
Send them back.
But alas, it is not so simple: Canada is bound by the Safe Third Country Agreement, which mandates that refugees must claim asylum in the first safe country on which they land. Asylum seekers who first landed in the U.S. must be sent back there if they attempt to enter Canada through an official point of entry '-- except these asylum-seekers are crossing into Canada illegally, meaning the Safe Third Country Agreement does not apply.
So fix the agreement.
Ah, but this would require the United States to agree to amend the 13-year-old law, which until relatively recently, has been working out all right. Plus, it's likely that President Donald Trump is rather pleased to see Haitians who have been in the U.S. under temporary protected status '-- and who have been told that they will have to leave the country in the next six months '-- exit on their own accord, even if it is just to Canada. It spares the U.S. from having to deal with that messy deportation business.
Because of a 1985 Supreme Court of Canada ruling, refugee claimants have to be processed, interviewed and given a hearing. (Christinne Muschi/Reuters)So Canada should arrest them and send them back to their countries of origin.
The Singh vs. Canada ruling of 1985 means any refugee claimant who has stepped foot in Canada has the right to a hearing. Under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, he or she cannot be charged with a criminal offence for illegally entering Canada. These refugees have to be processed, interviewed and given a hearing.
So change the law(s).
There are political, legal and potentially international human rights implications to doing so. But sure: have at it. Meanwhile, winter is coming and the flow of refugees into Canada has only slightly slowed.
So I repeat: what can Canada do about the thousands of asylum seekers pouring over the Quebec border?
The answer: very little.
As I see it, the only thing this government can actually change, immediately, which might have even the smallest effect on the flow of irregular border crossers is its messaging.
Forget about the anemic Twitter thread that Transport Minister Marc Garneau, an unknown figure on the international stage, posted last week about measures to tackle what the Immigration and Refugee Board has called "clearly unsustainable."
Forget, too, about the deployment of Haitian-Canadian MP Emmanuel Dubourg to Miami to try to relay the challenges of actually immigrating to Canada to diaspora communities.
The message needs to come from the top, using a forum that would-be asylum seekers might actually follow. Granted, it could ruin Trudeau's heartthrob progressive world leader cred, but it's just about the only immediate measure that could stymie the flow of migrants. Put it on Facebook, on Twitter, in a Snapchat story: You are not guaranteed a spot in Canada. Don't cross the border illegally.
Wrong audience, but solid effortLast week, Trudeau told a group of reporters (wrong audience, but solid effort) that illegal entry into Canada doesn't confer any special benefits.
"If I could directly speak to people seeking asylum, I'd like to remind them there's no advantage," Trudeau said. "Our rules, our principles and our laws apply to everyone."
The prime minister might've forgotten that he can speak directly to people seeking asylum, something he did in January, when he tweeted: "To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength #WelcomeToCanada"
The official @CanadianPM Twitter account followed up a couple of months later, tweeting: "Regardless of who you are or where you come from, there's always a place for you in Canada."
It would be naive and overly simplistic to assume that the approximately 3,800 people who crossed into Quebec in the first two weeks of August, for example, did so based on a couple of months-old tweets from the prime minister.
Surely anti-immigrant rhetoric from Donald Trump, the promise of deportation from the Department of Homeland Security, and the enduring struggle to rebuild parts of Haiti seven years on from that massive earthquake that displaced these refugees in the first place have all contributed to the decision by these asylum seekers to cross into Canada.
But the prime minister's tweets are part and parcel of the narrative this government has been working hard to build globally about Canada as a haven of inclusivity and welcome.
We are peacekeepers, not fighters; we will take in tens of thousands of Syrian refugees, even as the U.S. closes its doors; we encourage immigration, instead of blaming it for our problems. If you were a Haitian refugee facing deportation from the U.S., why would you not try your luck with Canada?
The RCMP have set up a temporary processing centre to handle asylum seekers crossing the border illegally in Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle near Hemmingford, Que. About 65 per cent of the refugee claims from Haitian applicants that have been processed so far were rejected in the first three months of 2017. (Lisa Laventure/CBC)While anecdotal, many interviews with refugees suggest Canada's reputation for inclusiveness has been a deciding factor in the decision to cross the border. In practice, however, most applicants won't land a permanent spot in Canada. Indeed, around 65 per cent of refugee claims from Haitian applicants that have already been decided were rejected in the first three months of 2017.
A much harsher realityFor some, those odds will still be good enough to take a gamble. But the reality of the situation is nevertheless much harsher than Canada's carefully crafted open-door narrative would suggest.
Crossing into Canada does not mean a brand new life: it means possible detention, living in a tent, waiting months for a hearing and, more likely than not, a rejected asylum claim.
Practically speaking, there's not much Canada can do that will instantly fix the border crisis. But at an absolute minimum, our prime minister can dispel the myth that there's "always a place" for refugees in Canada. That's simply not true.
Don't tell a room of reporters. Tell the people who are banking on a new life in Canada.
This column is part of CBC's Opinion section. For more information about this section, please read this editor's blog and our FAQ.
ABOUT THE AUTHORRobyn Urback is an opinion columnist with CBC News and a producer with the CBC's Opinion section. She previously worked as a columnist and editorial board member at the National Post. Follow her on Twitter at:
IT staffers may have compromised sensitive data to foreign intelligence | New York Post
Mon, 21 Aug 2017 19:54
Federal authorities are investigating whether sensitive data was stolen from congressional offices by several Pakistani-American tech staffers and sold to Pakistani or Russian intelligence, knowledgeable sources say.
What started out 16 months ago as a scandal involving the alleged theft of computer equipment from Congress has turned into a national security investigation involving FBI surveillance of the suspects.
Investigators now suspect that sensitive US government data '-- possibly including classified information '-- could have been compromised and may have been sold to hostile foreign governments that could use it to blackmail members of Congress or even put their lives at risk.
''This is a massive, massive scandal,'' a senior US official familiar with the widening probe told The Post.
Alarm bells went off in April 2016 when computer security officials in the House reported ''irregularities'' in computer equipment purchasing. An internal investigation revealed the theft of hundreds of thousands of dollars in government property, and evidence pointed to five IT staffers and the Democratic Congress members' offices that employed them.
The evidence was turned over to the House inspector general, who found so much ''smoke'' that she recommended a criminal probe, sources say. The case was turned over to Capitol Police in October.
When the suspected IT workers couldn't produce the missing invoiced equipment, sources say, they were removed from working on the computer network in early February.
During the probe, investigators found valuable government data that is believed to have been taken from the network and placed on offsite servers, setting off more alarms. Some 80 offices were potentially compromised.
Most lawmakers fired the alleged ''ringleader'' '-- longtime IT staffer Imran Awan '-- in February. But Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the former Democratic National Committee chief, kept Awan on her payroll until his arrest last month on seemingly unrelated charges of defrauding the congressional credit union.
For more than a decade, Awan, his wife, two relatives and a friend worked for 30 House Democrats. They included New York City pols Gregory Meeks, Joseph Crowley and Yvette Clarke and members of the sensitive Intelligence and Foreign Relations committees.
The Democrats who hired the five suspects apparently did a poor job vetting them. Awan's brother Abid had a rap sheet with multiple offenses, including a conviction for DWI a month before he was hired, and filed for bankruptcy in 2012.
Most had relatively little IT experience. Yet they hauled in a combined $4 million-plus over the past decade. One, a former McDonald's worker, was suddenly making as much as a chief of staff.
''These lawmakers allowed an insider threat to come into the House,'' the official charged. ''Computer equipment was stolen, taxpayers were robbed of hundreds of thousands of dollars, and sensitive data was compromised and possibly sold overseas.''
On Thursday, a federal grand jury indicted Imran Awan on four seemingly unrelated felony counts including bank fraud, conspiracy and making false statements. They also indicted his wife, Hina Alvi. FBI agents seized hard drives and other evidence from their Virginia home.
The indictment says the couple wired close to $300,000 in fraudulently obtained funds to Pakistan in January, as the Capitol Police investigation heated up.
FBI agents last month collared Awan, 37, at the Dulles International Airport as he tried to board a flight to Pakistan. Alvi, 33, fled to Pakistan in March.
Now that prosecutors have Awan hung up on the fraud charges, they will try to squeeze him harder in the larger cyberespionage investigation, according to the US official, who expects additional charges and arrests in the case.
Awan's lawyer, Christopher Gowen, who has worked for Hillary Clinton's campaigns as well as the Clinton Foundation, maintained that his client was only indicted ''for working while Muslim.''
The investigation has touched Democratic leaders including Wasserman Schultz, who has been accused of protecting Awan. She stuck by her close aide, despite being briefed several months ago by House administrators and security officials about his ''suspicious activities'' on the Hill, sources say.
Wasserman Schultz attempted to downplay his alleged conduct, saying he was ''transferring data outside the secure network, which I think amounted to use of apps that the House didn't find compliant with our security requirements.'' Such transfers, though, could be a serious, potentially illegal violation.
The US Attorney's Office in Washington has taken possession of a laptop issued to Awan from Wasserman Schultz's office, according to the sources, and she has reportedly retained counsel.
Earlier this year, she badgered the Capitol Police chief to return the laptop to her, even threatening him with ''consequences.''
The congresswoman could not be reached for comment, but she recently told a local paper that scrutiny of her Muslim aide was motivated by ''racial and ethnic profiling.''
Awan had access to Wasserman Schultz's emails at both Congress and the DNC, where he had been given the password to her iPad. After DNC emails and research files were stolen during the presidential election, Wasserman Schultz reportedly refused to turn over the server to the FBI and instead called in a private firm to investigate and ID the hackers. The firm blamed the Russian government, while admitting, ''We don't have hard evidence.'' The corrupted DNC server, held in storage, still has not been examined by the FBI.
Wasserman Schultz denies the DNC turned down the FBI's assistance or that her congressional or DNC emails were compromised by Awan.
''This whole investigation pivots off Debbie Wasserman Schultz,'' the official said.
''It's clear that large bytes of data were moved off the secure network,'' said another source close to the investigation, adding that Awan and the other four staffers under investigation had ''full and complete access'' to lawmakers' emails, calendars, schedules, hearing notes, meeting notes and memos and other sensitive information.
Investigators are trying to determine if any classified information was compromised. Although the network that was breached is an unclassified system, it's possible that members or staff cleared to handle classified information inadvertently sent such information in emails after getting classified briefings, sources believe.
''Logic dictates that sensitive data was compromised,'' the senior official speculated. ''An accused criminal with close ties to Pakistan had full and complete control over data that went out over the network.''
Paul Sperry is a former Hoover Institution media fellow and author of ''Infiltration: How Muslim Spies and Subversives Have Penetrated Washington.''
Trump shown photo of Afghan women in miniskirts: report | TheHill
Tue, 22 Aug 2017 21:07
National security adviser H.R. McMaster showed President Trump a black-and-white photo of Afghan women in miniskirts from 1972 in an effort to convince him to keep U.S. forces in Afghanistan, according to The Washington Post.
The photo was meant to show that Western culture had once flourished in the country and that they could once again with new U.S. efforts against the Taliban, the Post reported.
To convince Trump that Afghanistan was not lost cause, McMaster showed him 1972 photo of Afghan women in miniskirts. https://t.co/wRpwYoawjApic.twitter.com/rX7S2jEJfA
'-- Jim Roberts (@nycjim) August 22, 2017 ADVERTISEMENT
The black-and-white photo was just one element in the effort that McMaster and other members of the national security team made to convince Trump to keep U.S. forces in Afghanistan, despite his campaign promises to remove them.Trump announced Monday evening that he would not be pulling U.S. troops from Afghanistan as part of a new strategy he insisted would win the longest military conflict in U.S. history.
Trump's decision was seen as a victory for McMaster and Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisTrump to tackle Afghanistan strategy at Camp DavidFour members of Joint Chiefs denounce racismUS, Japan conduct air drills after North Korea issues Guam warningMORE , who warned Trump that Afghanistan could revert to a breeding ground for terrorism if U.S. forces were pulled from the country.
Trump did not give details on how many troops would be added or any timetables on when they would be deployed, though it is expected between 3,000 and 5,000 new troops will be added to the 8,400 now in the country under the strategy outlined on Monday night.
"The American people are weary of war without victory. I share the American people's frustration," Trump said. ''In the end, we will fight and we will win.''
Ministry of Truth
L.A. Times Masthead Massacre Capped a Month of Newsroom Turmoil | Variety
Wed, 23 Aug 2017 03:29
The ouster of four top editors at the L.A. Times on Monday was the result of a month of newsroom turmoil following the publication of an investigation into the former dean of the USC medical school.
Sources familiar with the situation tell Variety that the paper's top investigative reporter, Paul Pringle, filed complaints with the human resources department about top editors, alleging that the story was being delayed due to cozy relations between the editors and USC officials. Tronc, the paper's parent company, responded with an internal investigation. The probe did not find any substantiation for the complaint, but did open the floodgates to additional newsroom grievances against the paper's leadership, culminating with the dismissal of Davan Maharaj, the editor and publisher, managing editor Marc Duvoisin, and two other top lieutenants.
The Times published its blockbuster report on Dr. Carmen Puliafito on July 17, finding that the dean was a methamphetamine user who partied with drug dealers and was present when a 21-year-old escort overdosed in a hotel room. The report was a major coup for the Times, and knocked USC officials back on their heels. But it also kicked up underlying resentment and bitterness within the paper, according to several newsroom sources who spoke to Variety on the condition of anonymity.
The Times was first tipped off to the Puliafito story more than a year ago. Initial drafts were not deemed fit for publication, according to several newsroom sources. As reporting went on over the course of several months, Pringle began to complain that Maharaj and Duvoisin were dragging their feet and trying to quash the story, say these sources.
Pringle, who declined to comment for this story, had filed his complaint earlier this year alleging that Maharaj and Duvoisin were going easy on the university due to the paper's partnership with USC to put on the Festival of Books. Tronc began to investigate those claims.
The story was published, and widely hailed. USC was forced to launch its own inquiry, and acknowledged that the situation was poorly handled. But the success of the story did not end the hard feelings within the paper. Pringle filed a new complaint with HR alleging that Maharaj and Duvoisin caused an improper delay in publication.
A couple of weeks later, reporters got wind that California editor Shelby Grad was about to be transferred to a new assignment. Pringle and his supporters on the Metro staff interpreted the move as retaliation for Grad's staunch support for the USC story. Several newsroom sources said that Grad had encouraged the reporters to pursue the story in the face of skepticism from Maharaj and Duvoisin. Grad and Maharaj declined to comment for this story.
In an email to Tim Ryan, the president of publishing at Tronc, a group of 15 reporters expressed concern that Grad's transfer ''shortly after fighting for publication of the USC story'' raised concerns about potential ''conflicts,'' and ''possible ethical lapses that could damage the reputation of the Los Angeles Times.'' Pringle was not among the 15 who signed the letter.
The email, obtained by Variety, touched off another HR investigation at Tronc. Newsroom sources say that many people have been interviewed in recent weeks. The investigators began to hear many other complaints against Maharaj and his team. For some time, several Metro staffers have grumbled about low pay and the lack of raises in recent years, and talked about organizing a union.
By last Friday, it became clear that the HR investigation posed a serious threat to the top editors. That morning, several editors wrote to Tronc CEO Justin Dearborn and chairman Michael Ferro, requesting an immediate meeting.
''We ask you to meet with us today, as a group, to discuss a Human Resources investigation that has disrupted our workplace for more than a month,'' the editors wrote. ''We are concerned about the repercussions for the news organization.''
On Monday, those repercussions became clear. Maharaj and Duvoisin were out, along with investigations editor Matt Doig, and digital editor Megan Garvey. Jill Leovy, the founder of ''The Homicide Report'' blog and author of ''Ghettoside,'' was also fired. She is Duvoisin's wife. Ana Mata, Maharaj's administrative assistant, was also let go.
Tronc concluded there were no improprieties in the handling of the USC story, according to a published report by the Los Angeles Times. The four were not let go for cause, and Tronc referred to the personnel moves as a ''restructuring.''
While the newsroom rebellion may have been the catalyst that undid Maharaj and his team, it appears that Tronc's leadership was already contemplating a change at the top.
Veteran media executive Ross Levinsohn was appointed the new publisher, and Jim Kirk, former editor and publisher of the Chicago Sun-Times, was named interim editor.
In an interview with the Times, Dearborn praised Levinsohn as an ''avid reader'' and someone who is ''passionate about journalism.''
''What we need right now is someone who has broader global vision and someone who can execute on that,'' Dearborn told the paper.
At an all-hands meeting at 3 p.m. on Monday at the Times' community room, Levinsohn and Kirk declined to discuss the firings. Instead, they vowed to ''invest in the brand.''
Staffing cuts are a perennial source of anxiety at a newsroom that has seen wave after wave of buyouts. According to sources in the meeting, Levinsohn and Kirk offered assurances that they did not come to the paper to make further cutbacks. However, Times staffers have heard such promises before from new leadership.
WaPo quietly settles age, race discrimination lawsuit | New York Post
Wed, 23 Aug 2017 12:43
The Washington Post quietly settled an age and race discrimination suit filed by former advertising executive David DeJesus, who is black and who claimed that discrimination was the reason he was terminated by his white boss in 2011 after an 18-year career.
The Washington Post said he was fired for ''willful neglect of duty and insubordination.'' A three-judge appeals court last year cleared the way for a jury to hear the case after reversing a ruling by the lower court that initially tossed the suit.
''A jury could properly conclude that the Washington Post's proffered reason [for the termination of DeJesus] is so unreasonable that it provokes suspicion of pretext,'' the appeals court said.
The settlement was first reported by Observer.com.
Morris Fischer, a Washington, DC, employment lawyer not involved in the case, said it is likely that the defendant made a substantial settlement offer to avoid a trial.
A spokeswoman for the Washington Post, Kris Coratti, said she could not comment on the case. Neither DeJesus nor his lawyer, Cherie Morganroth, returned calls.
25 for 45
It's time to talk about Trump's mental health - The Washington Post
Tue, 22 Aug 2017 11:43
How unstable and divorced from reality is President Trump? We've reached the point where the nation has the right and the need to know.
We're not accustomed to asking such questions about our presidents. We don't know how to even begin inquiring into a president's mental health, so we rationalize aberrant behavior as being part of some subtle strategy. We say that Trump is cleverly playing to his base, or employing the ''madman theory'' of foreign relations, or simply being unpredictable to gain an advantage by keeping everyone off balance.
But if Trump were really playing three-dimensional chess, presumably he'd be getting things done. His approval ratings would be rising rather than falling. Allies in Congress would be expressing admiration rather than increasing dismay.
Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) hit a nerve Thursday when he said that Trump ''has not yet been able to demonstrate the stability nor some of the competence'' needed in a president. That indictment was significant because Corker, who chairs the Foreign Relations Committee, is a respected Capitol Hill veteran who chooses his words carefully '-- and who thus far has been willing to give Trump a chance. Corker said he feared that ''our nation is going to go through great peril'' and called for ''radical change'' at the White House.
Democrats have been slightly more plain-spoken. Rep. Adam B. Schiff told CNN on Sunday that ''I certainly think that there's an issue with the president's capability.'' And fellow California Rep. Jackie Speier tweeted last week that Trump ''is showing signs of erratic behavior and mental instability that place the country in grave danger.''
After President Trump's most recent rhetoric about Charlottesville inflamed even more criticism, a handful of GOP lawmakers, including Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), are criticizing Trump directly, while others stay silent. (Jenny Starrs/The Washington Post)
Speier went so far as to call for action under the 25th Amendment, which allows the vice president and the Cabinet to relieve the president of his ''powers and duties'' if he is unable to discharge them.
Trump's performance last week following the Charlottesville incident was indeed alarming, the problem being not just what he said but how he said it. After initially blaming the violence '-- which led to the death of 32-year-old Heather Heyer '-- on ''many sides,'' Trump reversed course and specifically condemned neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan '-- but looked like the reluctant star of a hostage video. Then the next day, Trump went back to blaming ''both sides'' in what can only be called an angry, red-faced rant.
We should assume that the ugliness we heard from Trump about Charlottesville reflects his true feelings. And we can conclude that he failed to grasp how jarring those sentiments would sound to most Americans' ears.
Anyone can have a bad day. But according to many published reports, Trump often erupts into rage '-- especially when he sees something he doesn't like on the cable news shows he is said to watch compulsively.
In his Twitter postings, he increasingly lashes out in ways that are counterproductive. I can see some method behind his incessant ranting about ''fake news,'' which may actually help him with his political base. But why attack Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) whose help the president needs if he is to get legislation passed or nominees approved? Why campaign against Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), who has been a frequent critic but ended up supporting Trump on health care? Is Trump unable to imagine how other GOP senators '-- whose votes he needs if he is to get anything done '-- are going to react?
I have spoken with people who have known Trump for decades and who say he has changed. He exhibits less self-awareness, these longtime acquaintances say, and less capacity for sustained focus. Indeed, it is instructive to compare television interviews of Trump recorded years ago with those conducted now. To this layman's eyes and ears, there seems to have been deterioration.
I am not professionally qualified to assess the president's mental health; psychiatrists and psychologists who have the proper credentials and experience to do so are silenced by ethical rules. The stakes are so high, however, that the officials who work alongside Trump and observe him closely bear a tremendous responsibility. There is a huge difference between sounding as unhinged as North Korea's Kim Jong Un and actually being that unstable.
It is of some comfort that Trump is surrounded by levelheaded military men '-- Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, national security adviser H.R. McMaster and Chief of Staff John Kelly '-- who are unlikely to do anything rash. But no one elected them.
It is uncomfortable to talk about the president's mental health. But at this point it is irresponsible not to.
Read more from Eugene Robinson's archive, follow him on Twitter or subscribe to his updates on Facebook. You can also join him Tuesdays at 1 p.m. for a live Q&A.
Inside the Cell: The Dark Side of Forensic DNA: Erin E. Murphy: 9781568584690: Amazon.com: Books
Tue, 22 Aug 2017 11:37
Current criminal justice policies have emboldened a system of mass incarceration, characterized by assembly-line justice, abuse of official power, racial and socioeconomic inequality, and unacceptable rates of wrongful conviction. Inside the Cell probes the scientific, statistical, legal, and ethical challenges presented by forensic DNA testing and explains how:
- DNA analysis is highly subjective, given the poor quality of many crime scene samples
- Crime labs operate with less oversight than your local nail salon
- DNA statistics can mislead jurors about the probability of a match
- Traces of DNA appear in places that a person never touched or visited
- Stop and spit might be the new stop and frisk
- Police use tricks to sneak DNA samples from discarded items
- DNA databases are racially skewed, and current policies only aggravate that inequality
- DNA tests uncover genetic traits beyond just useless junk
- Police maintain rogue databases unregulated by law
What? Neil deGrasse Tyson tries to tie eclipse to global warming -
Thu, 24 Aug 2017 12:29
Source: Twitter
Neil deGrasse Tyson used to be an astrophysicist. Now he's a TV celebrity, trying to appease the Hollywood left to keep the offers and money rolling in.
That's why he's doing utterly unscientific things, like trying to tie ''climate science'' theories to the 2,500-year-old practice of using math to predict solar eclipses.
''Odd. No one is in denial of America's Aug 21 total solar eclipse. Like Climate Change, methods & tools of science predict it,'' he claimed on Twitter.
That is false. Eclipses are predicted by mathematics, not science.
The Earth and moon travel on fixed orbits, at fixed speeds. That is why people with no background in science have been able to predict eclipses with 100 percent accuracy for 2,500 years.
If Tyson's comment were true, weather and climate forecasts would be accurate and predictable to an infinite point, because predicting temperatures, precipitation, etc. would simply be a matter of arithmetic.
We've asked him to provide us with the mathematical formula that has allowed to use accurately predict weather and climate for 2,500 years, as is done with eclipses.
He has not responded.
Agenda 2030
Gruber Fraudulent Billing Probe | The Daily Caller
Mon, 21 Aug 2017 12:44
Vermont's Attorney General has settled the state's claims of fraud against Jonathan Gruber, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor who served as a technical consultant for President Barack Obama and as one of the chief architects of Obamacare.
Under the terms of the settlement, Gruber will no longer work as a taxpayer-funded economic consultant for the state's health care system and he won't seek to be paid any money he might be owed, reports the Rutland Herald, a Vermont newspaper.
For its part under the agreement, the Vermont's attorney general will not pursue legal action under the Vermont Civil False Claims Act.
Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan announced the settlement on Friday after state investigators wrapped up an inquiry into Gruber's billing practices.
Officials in Vermont had hired Gruber as an economic consultant to assess, examine and provide economic models for a now-abandoned plan to roll out a single-payer health care system across the tiny state.
The single-payer health care scheme, called Green Mountain Care, was the brainchild of former Gov. Pete Shumlin.
Eventually, Shumlin, a Democrat, decided government-funded health care would be too costly for Vermont's 625,000 citizens.
State Auditor Doug Hoffer, also a Democrat, originally referred allegations of Gruber's overbilling to the attorney general.
Donovan, the attorney general and still another Democrat, said his office determined that Gruber did, in fact, violate the Vermont Civil False Claims Act, according to the Herald.
Specifically, investigators concluded that Gruber sent two invoices '-- and possibly more '-- falsely charging the state and its taxpayers for work which was never actually completed by Gruber or any of his underlings.
The dollar amounts sought by Gruber in the two invoices are not clear.
Under the terms of Gruber's consulting contract, he was supposed to receive up to $400,000 for his policy advice concerning single-payer health care in Vermont.
Gruber denies committing any fraud.
Gruber became a household name in 2014, as Obamacare went into effect, after videos surfaced of him speaking candidly about how the Obama administration intentionally misled the American public about certain aspects of the bill.
''Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. And basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really, really critical for the thing to pass,'' he said during one health care conference.
At another event, Gruber admitted that the Obama administration pushed through the so-called Cadillac tax '-- a tax on certain premium health care plans '-- ''by mislabeling it, calling it a tax on insurance plans rather than a tax on people, when we know it's a tax on people who hold these insurance plans.'' (RELATED: Jonathan Gruber Blames Obamacare Failures On Donald Trump)
Premiums under Obamacare went up 24 percent in 2016. The average number of insurers in each marketplace fell from 5.9 to 3.9.
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The Bloom is off the Ruse: Germany's Angela Merkel Quietly Retreating From Paris Climate Treaty'...
Tue, 22 Aug 2017 12:48
Angela Merkel is essentially the de-facto global head of modern political liberalism. The central tenet, almost religious-based in its importance, is the lunacy within ''climate change''. However, as most reasonable people have concluded, the 'climate discussions' are more about controlled global economics than any actual concerns about planetary climatology. Bottom line, it's the economics that really matter beyond all else.
Backdrop '' The day after President Trump announced his decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Treaty, the German auto-sector immediately responded with a statement. We see the immediate admission that 'climate' is simply a tool to shape global economics within that reactionary auto industry statement (emphasis mine):
(Via Reuters) ['...] ''The regrettable announcement by the USA makes it inevitable that Europe must facilitate a cost efficient and economically feasible climate policy to remain internationally competitive,'' Matthias Wissmann, president of the German auto industry lobby group VDA, said in a statement on Friday.
''The preservation of our competitive position is the precondition for successful climate protection. This correlation is often underestimated,'' Wissmann said, adding that the decision by the Unites States was disappointing. (link)
As clearly stated, when push comes to shove German sensibilities are connected more to their economics than to any do-gooder need to save the planet. This reality, in combination with upcoming German elections, sets the stage for Angela Merkel's statement today, three months later:
BERLIN (Reuters) '' German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned on Sunday against a swift abandonment of diesel cars after a series of emissions scandals, saying the fuel is still needed if climate change targets are to be met.
Speaking at a pre-election town hall event on RTL television on Sunday, Merkel called on German carmakers, all of which have been caught using workarounds to cheat nitrogen emissions tests, to work to re-establish public trust in diesel.
''We need diesel if we are to achieve our climate protection goals,'' she said. Diesel cars '... emit the nitrogen dioxide that can cause breathing problems in high concentrations.
She told one car owner that the more modest compensation received by German car owners compared with their U.S. counterparts was the result of very different legal systems in the two countries.
Nonetheless, Germany's carmakers needed to compensate owners whose cars were less valuable as a result of the scandal as best as possible, she said, otherwise ''the German car industry, which is admired the world over, could suffer substantial harm''.
The future of the auto sector, Germany's biggest exporter and provider of 800,000 jobs, has become a hot election issue as politicians blame executives and each other for the sector's battered reputation after Volkswagen's (VOWG_p.DE ) admission almost two years ago that it had cheated U.S. emissions tests. (read more)
Germany will be the primary EU country responsible for filling the financial void from the U.K. leaving the EU (Brexit). That financial hole is approximately '‚¬15 billion per year. Additionally, unless they abandon the religion of climate change, Germany will be faced with having to renegotiate trade deals with the U.S. while they remain encumbered with the regulatory burden of the Paris treaty.
Chancellor Merkel is not a stupid woman, she knows the long-term ramifications to multicultural feel-goodisms and how they can undermine national economics. The fact that Merkel would be attempting to spin Diesel fuel as an Eco-friendly fuel source is beyond laughable. Germany is reliant on diesel fuel which is created from heavy-grade oil; not refined light sweet crude. The majority of the heavy oil used within Europe comes from Libya and North Africa energy development contracts.
You won't see this in the MSM '' but Merkel's statement today, albeit against the backdrop of political survival, is another stark admission that Germany is retreating from the Paris Climate Treaty.
The treaty was/is only viable as each western economy agreed to jointly jump into an economic abyss, while filling the coffers of the multinational banks who underwrite the entire premise behind the geopolitical wealth distribution. Thanks to President Trump the U.S. is no longer willing to commit economic suicide; Turkey has also pulled away:
['...] The U.S. decision to pull out of the Paris climate agreement means Turkey is less inclined to ratify the deal because the U.S. move jeopardizes compensation promised to developing countries, President Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday. ['...] Erdogan said that when Turkey signed the accord France had promised that Turkey would be eligible for compensation for some of the financial costs of compliance. (link)
Germany is the tip of the climate spear. Chancellor Merkel can't openly retreat, yet Germany has to abandon the cult if they are to remain economically competitive. The statement from Mrs Merkel today is a quiet, albeit visible, move toward the exits.
The Eclipse Is Racist Suggests The Atlantic | The Daily Caller
Mon, 21 Aug 2017 18:13
The Atlantic, a once-great magazine, has determined that the total eclipse of the sun due to occur on Monday will fail to affect enough black people.
The Atlantic's very lengthy essay on the failure of the eclipse to occur where a sufficient number of black people reside is entitled ''American Blackout.'' It clocks in at a remarkable 4,544 words and does not appear to be satire.
Concerning ''the Great American Eclipse,'' Brooklyn Law School professor Alice Ristroph writes in the rapidly deteriorating magazine, ''there live almost no black people'' ''along most of its path.''
The Atlantic's longwinded law professor assures readers that ''implicit bias of the solar system'' is ''presumably'' not the cause of eclipse's failure to affect enough black people.
''Still, an eclipse chaser is always tempted to believe that the skies are relaying a message.''
Oregon, where the eclipse will first appear in the continental United States, ''is almost entirely white.'' ''There are very few black Oregonians, and this is not an accident.'' It's totally on purpose in 2017, The Atlantic claims, because the Pacific Northwest state had a ''racial exclusion'' clause in its original 1857 constitution.
The Atlantic notes that the eclipse will then move toward Wyoming and Idaho, which also have very low populations of black people. (RELATED: Now America's National Parks Are Racist)
After an extensive discourse criticizing the U.S. Census, The Atlantic tells readers that the eclipse will travel through Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa and Missouri. In this section of its essay, The Atlantic manages to drop the names of Bruce Springsteen, Jesse James, Eminem, Chelsea Manning, Michael Brown and Howard Zinn (a shallow socialist writer panned even by most serious socialists).
''There are too many damn facts,'' The Atlantic also complains.
After considerable whining about the Electoral College and the way Congress is organized, The Atlantic moves on to southern Illinois, Kentucky and Tennessee. There's substantial discussion of the Ku Klux Klan in this section '-- and, of course, slavery. (RELATED: New York Is Named After A Horrendous Slave Trader)
Here, The Atlantic criticizes Abraham Lincoln for being too cautious with the Emancipation Proclamation.
Next, The Atlantic traces the path of the eclipse to ''overwhelmingly white rural areas'' in the Deep South. There's much discussion of the Civil War and much talk about ''the glib view'' America's commoners have concerning Civil War history. Dylann Roof, who murdered nine people in the name of white supremacy, rates a mention.
In its final paragraph, The Atlantic concludes that the United States is ''still segregated'' and has ''debts that no honest man can pay.'' Cryptically, the magazine suggests, ''the strange path of the eclipse suggests a need for reorganization'' of the entire American political system.
The Atlantic classifies its article about the path of the eclipse in the category of ''science'' even though nothing remotely approaching science appears in any of the 4,544 words.
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Strategy '' Will President Trump Break Norms and Arrange Meeting With Kim Jong-un? Indications Point Toward Yes'...
Tue, 22 Aug 2017 12:47
An interesting article in the Washington Times poses a possibility of President Trump holding a deconfliction summit with North Korea ''SEE HERE'' And that begs a question of whether or not it's actually plausible. I would state unequivocally yes, and here's why.
If you have followed the foreign policy pattern of President Trump you immediately recognize he does not restrain himself to DC political customs or DC political norms. Indeed as Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi optimistically noted, President Trump can accomplish many things because he brings a unique perspective to the world of policy and diplomatic engagement. Later repeating: ''He Can Do The Impossible''.
Additionally since we originally outlined the likely scenario for a restart of the 'six party talks' (China, South Korea, Russia, Japan and the U.S.), on August 13th, there has been some visible activity providing further evidence toward that end.
'Japan (Shinzo Abe) has stated they have ''great confidence'' in President Trump's Asian national security approach. 'South Korea (President Moon Jae-in) has stated they are ''confident there will not be war again on the Korean peninsular''; 'and they are willing to send a special envoy to North Korea to begin talks. 'In addition, China has quietly removed the 71-year-old veteran diplomat, Wu Dawei, from the position of negotiator toward the DPRK, and replaced him with 58-year-old Kong Xuanyou. Kong is a long time Chinese diplomat in charge of Asian affairs and he speaks Korean.
All of this generally under-reported diplomatic activity has taken place within the past week while the American media was busy pushing Charlottesville narratives. But more importantly this activity took place while President Trump directed USTR Lighthizer to begin a section 301 trade investigation into China. POTUS Trump is ramping up the pressure on Chinese President Xi Jinping, but more specifically this action targets Beijing's communist old guard who control both their economy and the DPRK behavior.
Additionally, into this uniquely Asian geopolitical dynamic we have India, and Prime Minister Modi, apparently finding some new energy to push back against their neighboring nemesis China. Literal ''pushing back'', heck they got into a fist fight.
Now, between Trump's China trade action, and Modi's regional geographic action, there appears to be a traditional squeeze play working out. It would be intellectually dishonest not to recognize the appearance of some coordination, especially given the plans for Ivanka Trump to travel to India next month. [*nudge, nudge* *wink, wink* say-no-more]
Here's where it gets interesting.
When you understand that Beijing is really the support structure for Kim Jong-Un, in that China uses the DPRK to keep the Western (mostly U.S.) economic threats out of Asia, you realize it's against Beijing's interest for President Trump and Kim Jong-un to deconflict.
If diplomacy prevails in the Korean Peninsular, the historic economic arrow is gone from China's quiver. Indeed, many would argue there's no greater threat to China's overall 'One-Road/One-Belt' economic program. With peace comes viable economic relationships. The ability of China to use the DPRK as a sweatshop for their economy would potentially and realistically collapse.
So Beijing would want to impede diplomatic efforts. It's in their sneaky-self best interests; it's also just how they roll. However, even though China controls much of the Washington DC swamp via purchased lobby activity, they can't control Trump; and they certainly can't control Trump's diplomatic approach toward engaging a foreign government.
Therefore China's default position would be for China to 'control' any meeting between the U.S., South Korea, and/or Japan, with Kim Jong-un. When you recognize this, you recognize what that provides '' MORE TRUMP LEVERAGE.
See how that works?
POTUS Trump knows it would be against Beijing's interests for Kim Jong-un to meet a reasonable and non-political deal maker like President Trump. That knowledge only fuels the probability of such a meeting taking place.
In an effort to control such a possibility, China will have to move fast to cut off any back channel discussion between Godzilla Trump, T-Rex and Dennis Rodman's BFF Kim Jong-un. Hence, we discover the motive for Beijing working to quickly get Kong Xuanyou, the new emissary, into place. China is simply trying a better play for control by putting 'six party talks' back on the table.
Don't be surprised to hear of those ''six party talks'' within days or weeks. And don't be surprised to hear of the potential for direct talks and direct engagement with North Korea either by South Korea or Japan, or by'.... wait for it, yup Godzilla Trump via T-Rex.
President Trump isn't constrained to DC political customs and diplomatic outlooks of non-engagement with North Korea. Don't be surprised if he doesn't make a move within the next 30 days toward those ends.
After all, almost every bit of recent activity in Asia dovetails nicely with the position as it appeared only a little more than a week ago: August 13th:
As we have outlined extensively, President Trump holds all of the cards in this economic and trade standoff. The U.S. is China's customer and there's a $350 billion trade deficit.
However, President Trump cannot be completely open with the strategy because part of the long-term plan is to allow China to save face by giving up North Korea's nuclear ambitions.
It would be against Trump's interests if the entire global and geopolitical community understood what was happening.
So the question becomes, how will we know when President Trump has won in the economic and national security challenge? Well, first let's look at the geopolitical landscape and the known and identified calendar to view the goal timeline:
'...We know President Trump is planning to attend an ASEAN meeting in November.
'...We also know that President Trump is planning to visit China later this year. Most likely that trip will be part of the ASEAN engagement.
So it makes sense that President Trump would like to conclude the outline of the economic diplomacy by the time of the ASEAN and China visit '' such that: A.) President Trump can outline the agreement and stroke the panda's ego on his turf; and B.) President Xi Jinping can announce his magnanimous victory on behalf of great Panda's incredible achievement in providing great security to the world.
Meanwhile, just prior to the ASEAN/China meetup, President Trump's secret weapon, Ivanka, who happens to be the most beloved American in China, is deployed to India to capture the world's attention with Narendra Modi hugs.
President Modi is the ''Trump Card'' in the geopolitical economic gamesmanship. China is currently at odds with India's rise to economic power; Ballywood is very hot in the U.S. right now; and a warm Modi '' Trump economic relationship is a foil against China's heavy-handed extortion of their economic partners.
Whoopsie sounds like the makings of a fork in China's One Road/One Belt plan.
::::still smiling::::
Again, President Trump holds all the economic cards. Just look at what he did to neuter Russia's economy when everyone was paying attention to the bouncing laser dot on the wall. The American and Western media missed it, but President Trump moved the entire geopolitical world via a strategic energy platform.
Sip this next paragraph slowly to enjoy the strategery:
From OPEC (Saudi Summit) to the EU and Baltic States (Poland Pre-G20); to North African energy development via President Macron (Libya and Mali); to walking away from the Paris Climate agreement; to discussions with Theresa May on a bilateral trade deal; to massive shipments of coal to U.K. and France; to closing a deal to deliver Ireland massive amounts of Texas LNG; to our own internal U.S. energy production policy with pipelines, Oil, Coal and Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) etc.
President Trump used all of those ''allied'' relationships to lower global energy prices.
The bigger part of the 'big-missed-picture' was how that energy strategy impacted adversaries like Russia, Iran etc. and simultaneously supported the larger America-First economic and geopolitical space.
President Trump thinks seriously long-term, and really BIG picture.
President Trump thinks so far out in front of his detractors they genuinely cannot fathom the sequential logic behind the day-to-day granular activity.
Yes, in large part this is what makes President Trump so enjoyable to watch politically. Just like the American media, our international adversaries and competitors have no reference point for a U.S. President that is entirely independent from influence.
::::Yup, smiling::::
So we can safely predict that sometime in late fall, most likely before the ASEAN visit timeline in November, President Trump and Rex Tillerson will be engaged in a new round of Six Party Talks, initiated by request of the increasingly desperate China.
China will structure the DPRK talking points to set up the meetings. This is a part of how China is allowed to save face and sets up the magnanimous Panda narrative.
The six party talks will be essentially a Marshal Plan of sorts for North Korea. Japan, South Korea, The United States, China, Russia and North Korea will enter into a set of negotiations publicly sold as engaging in diplomacy and reducing tension.
President Trump (or T-Rex) will sit on the patio complimenting Xi Jinping (or deputy), and Russian, Japanese and South Korean emissaries.
Meanwhile, in the conference room, Secretary Wilbur Ross, USTR Robert Lighthizer and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin will play the role of Willy Wonka handing out the golden economic tickets to the representatives who all line up with their requests.
President Trump's golf partner Shinzo Abe will already have his ticket, but he'll play along. The only real negotiations will be between the U.S. Russia and China. Russia will be negotiating for higher regional energy prices to get their GDP growing again, and China negotiating to retain as much of the $500 billion trade surplus as possible.
The end result will be Kim Jong-un giving up his nuclear ambitions for good; the U.N. enters under carefully negotiated terms, and Big Panda promises to the world to be the magnanimous insurance policy therein. Everything between now and that outcome is optically chaff and countermeasures.
That's essentially the way the bright economic and national security future looks today.
Then again, it might get brighter '' gilded even.
After all, this is President Donald Trump we're talking about.
Reporter Who Exposed BBC Pedophilia Cover Up Found Dead
Mon, 21 Aug 2017 12:48
Liz MacKean, the former British investigative reporter who exposed Jimmy Savile and the culture of pedophile protection at the BBC, has been found dead. She was 52.
MacKean worked at the BBC until she quit in 2013 after executives decided to ban her groundbreaking and brave investigation into predatory pedophile Jimmy Savile in order to protect him and other pedophiles.
Dismissed by the establishment as mad and dangerous, MacKean was finally vindicated when the truth about Savile's pedophilia eventually came out in 2012, a full year after MacKean first tried to bring his notorious crimes to light.
The BBC, who blocked her groundbreaking investigation from airing and spent the next few years attempting to destroy her reputation, are reporting that she died of ''complications from a stroke.''
Acknowledging her life was under threat during the time she was investigating Savile and BBC elites, MacKean said her conscience left her no option but to pursue the truth and expose the culture of pedophila. The mother of two children believed it was her duty.
When it became public that BBC News blocked her investigation from airing, she admitted on Panorama: ''I was very unhappy the story didn't run because I felt we'd spoken to people who collectively deserved to be heard. And they weren't heard.
''I thought that that was a failure'... I felt we had a responsibility towards them. We got them to talk to us, but above all, we did believe them. And so then, for their stories not to be heard, I felt very bad about that. I felt, very much, that I'd let them down.''
Big name stars
Liz MacKean is the second high profile BBC journalist to die in suspicious circumstances after attempting to expose the truth about the pedophile ring operating in the upper reaches of the establishment. Jill Dando, former Crimewatch host, also tried to alert her bosses to the pedophile ring at the BBC, warning that ''big name'' stars were implicated.
Jill Dando, who was 37, was shot dead on April 26, 1999 on the doorstep of her West London home in a crime that still remains unsolved.
Before she died, Dando had passed a file to senior management in the mid-1990s, proving that big name BBC stars, including Savile, were involved in a pedophile ring, but senior management chose to cover up the child abuse rather than organize and investigation.
''No one wanted to know'' when Dando raised concerns about the alleged ring and other sexual abuse claims at the BBC, according to a former colleague and friend.
''I don't recall the names of all the stars now and don't want to implicate anyone, but Jill said they were surprisingly big names.
''I think she was quite shocked when told about images of children and that information on how to join this horrible paedophile ring was freely available.
''Jill said others had complained to her about sexual matters and that some female workmates also claimed they had been groped or assaulted.
''Nothing had been done and there seemed to be a policy of turning a blind eye.''
The former colleague said female BBC staff confided in Jill, one of the best-known TV faces of the day after fronting primetime shows including Holiday and the Six O'Clock News as well as Crimewatch.'
The source said: ''I think it was in the mid-1990s. She was seen as the face of the BBC and a magnet for women with problems.''
Baxter DmitryBaxter Dmitry is a writer at Your News Wire. He covers politics, business and entertainment. Speaking truth to power since he learned to talk, Baxter has travelled in over 80 countries and won arguments in every single one. Live without fear.Email: baxter@yournewswire.com
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New Volkswagen Microbus - VW to Build New Electric Bus
Tue, 22 Aug 2017 21:30
For years, Volkswagen has teased retro microbus concepts with no intent to put them into production. That changes today. VW just announced that it's actually, really, seriously going to put an all-electric microbus, the I.D. Buzz, into production in 2022. We know. We can't really believe it either.
We saw the I.D. Buzz in concept form (pictured above) earlier this year at the Detroit Auto Show, but we never expected it to go into production. Then media reports suggested that VW brand chief Herbert Diess was actually pushing to get the I.D. Buzz into production. Apparently, Diess got his way.
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The I.D. Buzz will ride on Volkswagen's new modular electric-car platform (dubbed MEB), that made its debut at CES in January 2016. This platform, which is set to make its production-car debut in the I.D. hatchback in 2020, integrates its battery in the floorpan, just like a Tesla. The I.D. Buzz will also get optional all-wheel drive, with electric motors at the front and rear axles.
It's this clever packaging that allows the Buzz to exist at all. With all of its drivetrain components mounted low in the chassis, VW is free to make a vehicle with very short overhangs and an incredibly spacious interior, just like the original. And unlike the original, this one will meet modern crash safety standards'--something VW couldn't do with a modern, internal-combustion powered Bus.
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VW says the Buzz has the exterior dimensions of a compact cargo van on the outside while offering the interior space of a large SUV. And speaking of cargo, VW will make delivery van version of the I.D. Buzz.
When the I.D. Buzz reaches production, it should feature reconfigurable seating like the concept we saw earlier this year and it will offer Level 3 autonomous driving. That's not full autonomy as it requires the human behind the driver's seat to pay attention, but the I.D. Buzz will handling steering, braking, and acceleration on its own in certain scenarios.
Expect to see the I.D. Buzz in US dealers sometime in 2022, shortly after the I.D. hatchback hits the market.
SEC Is Studying Spotify's Plan to Bypass IPO in NYSE Listing - Bloomberg
Mon, 21 Aug 2017 18:25
Spotify Ltd. executives have met with U.S. regulators scrutinizing the music company's plan to skip a traditional share sale and list directly on the New York Stock Exchange, according to people with knowledge of the matter.
Senior Spotify executives met with U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission officials last month, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing private meetings. Regulators asked for the meeting to get details on the plan by the world's largest paid music streaming service to do an end-run around an initial public offering -- the conventional route to listing shares. The company has remained in touch with SEC officials since the meeting, the people said.
Spotify aims to list late this year or early next on the New York Stock Exchange. With a stream of cash from its more than 60 million paying subscribers and awareness among investors, the company isn't seeking to raise money or make itself known to potential stockholders -- key IPO objectives. A direct listing also avoids underwriting fees and restrictions on stock sales by current owners, and doesn't dilute the holdings of executives and investors.
It also introduces uncertainty, since underwriters in a typical IPO set a price based on investor feedback and have buyers lined up. Even then, some new issues crater. Just a handful of companies have done direct listings over the past decade on the Nasdaq Stock Market. Spotify would be the biggest, and the first for the New York Stock Exchange.
While standard share sales can move quickly through approval, it's common for SEC staff to spend more time examining offerings that involve new types of structures or products. It's possible regulators simply want a better understanding of how Spotify's listing will work. The agency declined to comment.
The company's plan poses an early test for how far SEC Chairman Jay Clayton is willing to go to boost new U.S. listings.
The agency has been weighing a proposed rule change at the New York Stock Exchange that would allow the listing to go forward. Clayton, a former Wall Street deals lawyer who took over the agency in May, has for months decried a two-decade decline in the number of public companies as ''a serious issue for our markets and the country.''
While he hasn't yet laid out a comprehensive policy agenda, he's widely expected to craft rules that would encourage more companies to go public and do so sooner.
Spotify has hiredGoldman Sachs Group Inc., Morgan Stanley and Allen & Co. to assess its options. The company has already raised more than $1 billion in equity and obtained a $1 billion convertible loan from investors led by TPG in March 2016.
The conversion was tied to a public offering, with the terms growing more favorable to TPG the longer that takes. By choosing a direct listing instead, Spotify will have to reach a new agreement with the private-equity company.
Spotify's equity was valued at $8.5 billion two years ago when it raised $526 million. The company would be one of the largest consumer technology providers to go public in recent years.
The music-streaming company's unusual approach to going public is reminiscent of Google's 2004 IPO, when the tech giant chose a rarely used Dutch-auction format. That approach, which also let Google pay its underwriters less, also drew SEC scrutiny. The complicated share sale suffered from a series of missteps.
Among online music companies, Spotify has thrived while Pandora Media Inc. and SoundCloud Ltd. have struggled. Pandora has had four chief executive officers in the past two years and is raising money by selling a large minority stake to satellite radio company Sirius XM Holdings Inc. SoundCloud just fired 40 percent of its workforce and sold a majority stake to a pair of financial firms. Even Apple Inc., Spotify's biggest competitive threat, is a distant second in paid streaming.
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Spotify has grown from 20 million subscribers in two years and had more than 140 million people using the service between the free and paid options as of July. The company reported sales of 2.93 billion euros ($3.45 billion) in 2016, up 52 percent from a year earlier, and its growth has lifted the entire music industry. Record sales have grown two years in a row for the first time since the late 1990s.
Spotify will still have to convince investors that streaming music is a good business. The company lost 539 million euros last year despite its growth. It pays out more than 80 percent of revenue in royalties to music rights holders and streaming-delivery costs, leaving little margin for investments in technology and new staff.
The company has dabbled in podcasting and video, content that could bring in new customers and advertisers while reducing the share of sales that go to the music industry, but hasn't made a commitment to those areas.
Before going public, Spotify must also sign a long-term licensing agreement with Warner Music Group, the smallest of the three major record labels. Vivendi SA's Universal Music Group and Sony Corp.'s music division signed new deals with Spotify earlier this year.
'-- With assistance by Benjamin Bain, and Annie Massa
Bionic workforce alarms Pa. lawmaker, who offers bill to prevent microchip implants - The Morning Call
Thu, 24 Aug 2017 12:36
The cyborgs are coming.
And a Bucks County lawmaker is arming the state for a battle she foresees between flesh-and-bones workers and corporate bionics.
Democratic Rep. Tina Davis recently introduced a bill that would prohibit private employers and government entities in Pennsylvania from requiring employees to have microchips implanted in their bodies as a condition of their employment.
Davis floated her bill in response to news stories of a Wisconsin vending machine company asking its employees to voluntarily have an encrypted microchip inserted in their hand to log in to computers, use copiers, open office doors and operate snack machines while at work.
Davis' proposed Employee Subdermal-Microchip Protection Act would allow surgically implanted microchips only if workers made their own decision. It would require the state Department of Labor & Industry to investigate workers' claims that they were victims of retaliation for refusing to get a chip. It also would impose fines for companies that violate the would-be law.
''My legislation will require that any employer that offers a microchip, or any kind of subdermal device to be implanted for use during the employee's work, must make it a voluntary decision,'' Davis wrote in a July 28 memo to the House of Representatives.
''An employee's body is their own and they should have the final say as to what will be added to it. My bill will protect employees from being punished or retaliated against for choosing not to have the subdermal microchip or other technological device implanted. As technology advances, we need to make sure we provide employee protections that keep up with these advances and do not allow employers to have control over their employees' bodies.''
The Wisconsin company, Three Square Market '-- or 32M '-- made international news late last month when it announced it was asking employees to get the chips '-- and a bunch of them did it. The chips are inserted via a needle like Martin Short's character in the 1980s movie ''Inner Space.''
Company officials could not be reached. Published reports show 41 of 32M's 85 employees agreed to get the chips.
According to 32M's website, the chips use radio frequency identification or RFID technology that the Food and Drug Administration approved for use in 2004. The technology works like a surgically implanted serial number, but the chips don't use GPS to track workers' movement.
But could the chips record how long it took a worker to get Snickers from a vending machine and then log back into his work computer, and then use that information to gauge the worker's effectiveness and weaken his rights?
Five states '-- California, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma and Wisconsin '-- already have enacted employee microchip protection laws, said Bryan Allen, Davis' chief of staff. A bill in Nevada failed, he said.
''The technology is out there and already being implemented so, if anything, Pennsylvania is playing catch-up,'' Allen said. ''It is definitely a workers' rights issue.''
Gene Barr, president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry, said he doesn't know the Wisconsin company's rationale for asking employees to use the chips. But technology is moving so fast and companies need to stay abreast of it for their protection and that of their employees, he said.
The Wisconsin company has raised a lot of corporate ethics questions, said James A. Craft, a professor emeritus of business administration at the University of Pittsburgh's Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business.
The ethical questions don't just center on the possibility of tracking workers, he said. There also is a dilemma of workers feeling pressure to sign up for a ''voluntary'' chip, he said.
If a worker likes her job or needs her job, she may feel obligated to get a chip if the employer asks her for fear she could lose her job down the road, he said. So if Davis' bill becomes law, Craft said, it may not protect workers.
''You may not get an immediate discharge'' for refusing a chip, Craft said. ''But how is it going to affect you in the future? So there is concern that you agree to the chip but are not willing to get it.''
A question of choice is a long-standing policy issue, said John Budd, a professor at the University of Minnesota's Carlson School of Management. For example, he said the Fair Labor Standards Act makes it illegal for private employers to give workers the option of comp time or overtime pay for working extra hours.
Now, the Wisconsin company's voluntary chips have led to more ethical questions for workers who may think they are only making their lives easier by waving their hand to opening a door rather than rummaging for a swipe card, and the corporate manager who can track them now or in the future, he said.
''What's truly free choice?'' Budd asked. ''The sci-fi nature of [chips] has magnified the ethical concerns.''
Employee Subdermal-Microchip Protection Act was introduced by state Rep.Tina Davis, D-Bucks County.Allows surgically implanted microchip only if a worker decides on his or her own to accept one.Requires state Department of Labor & Industry to investigate workers' claims that they were victims of retaliation for refusing to get a chip.Imposes fines for companies that violate the would-be law.steve.esack@mcall.com
Twitter @sesack
Mnuchin's Fort Knox Quip: 'I Assume the Gold Is Still There' - Bloomberg
Tue, 22 Aug 2017 13:26
The United States Bullion Depository at Ft. Knox, Kentucky.
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U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin paid a rare official visit to Fort Knox to check out the nation's gold stash on Monday -- while keeping an open mind for future film projects.
''I assume the gold is still there,'' the former Hollywood producer quipped to an audience in Louisville, Kentucky, 40 miles (64 km) north of the U.S. Bullion Depository. ''It would really be quite a movie if we walked in and there was no gold.'' After the visit, he playfully reassured Americans the treasure was still secure.
''Glad gold is safe!'' he wrote in a post on Twitter.
Fort Knox has been seared into the public imagination since the 1964 James Bond movie ''Goldfinger,'' in which the British spy, played by Sean Connery, foiled a plot to contaminate the nation's bullion.
Mnuchin, whose action-film credits include ''Mad Max: Fury Road,'' ''The Lego Batman Movie'' and ''Suicide Squad,'' said that he would be only the third secretary of the Treasury to go inside the vault since it was created in 1936 by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
''We have approximately $200 billion of gold at Fort Knox,'' said Mnuchin. ''The last time anybody went in to see the gold, other than the Fort Knox people, was in 1974 when there was a congressional visit. And the last time it was counted was actually in 1953.''
Germany's central bank just shifted 50,000 gold bars held overseas due to Cold War fears
Thu, 24 Aug 2017 12:39
The lot of 53,780 bars, each weighing 27.5lbs and worth $519,000, will now reside in vaults beneath the bank's headquarters.
When contacted by CNBC the Bundesbank would not provide any details on the means of transfer for security reasons.
However, the central bank praised the success of the operation.
It said each of the bars had been "thoroughly and exhaustively" tested on arrival in Frankfurt and "no irregularities came to light with regard to the authenticity."
Germany is one of the biggest gold holders in the world. Following the transfers, just over 50 percent of its reserves are stored in Frankfurt. The remainder is split between the U.S. and Britain, with 36.6 percent at the Federal Reserve and 12.8 percent at the Bank of England in London. Should Germany face an economic emergency, the gold can be converted into pounds or dollars.
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Sonic Weapons
Those Mysterious Sonic Weapon Attacks In Cuba Just Got A Whole Lot Stranger | IFLScience
Wed, 23 Aug 2017 15:05
As reported a couple of weeks back, sonic weapons appear to have been used on both American and Canadian diplomats in Cuba. Although precisely who is using them '' and what the devices consist of '' remain unclear at present, the symptoms of the diplomats are always the same: extreme headaches, hearing loss, and nausea.
At the time, it appeared that just a handful of diplomats had been affected, but as reported by CNN, over 10 American envoys and family members are receiving medical treatment after months of sonic attacks. Several anonymous government sources have also told the network that two diplomats have long-term injuries and are unable to return to Havana; others have opted to leave their assignments early.
At the same time, five Canadian envoys and their own family members have also fallen ill. At the time of writing, there is no diagnosis of any sort of disease, and the idea of a sonic weapon '' which is real, by the way, not just hypothesized '' keeps coming up.
Details remain scant, but it appears that the devices are being used exclusively within Cuban government-owned properties, and that the attacks have been going on for longer than previously acknowledged. Intriguingly, it also appears that there have been at least two types of sonic weapon deployed in the Cuban capital city.
Even the precise weapons being used remains a bit of a mystery. Delpixel/ShutterstockAs we explained in a previous article, the first type appears to be silent '' at least to human hearing. This could mean that the weapon being used employs microwaves, which, at certain frequencies, rapidly heats brain tissue and generates a ''shockwave'', which ends up vibrating the inner ear at dangerous levels.
Alternatively, infrasound could be used. This low-frequency noise '' again beyond the range of human hearing '' causes fatigue, apathy, hearing loss, confusion, disorientation, and nausea, according to the US National Institutes of Health (NIH).
CNN also reports that some of the attacks are accompanied by an audible noise, a ''deafeningly loud sound similar to the buzzing created by insects or metal scraping across a floor.''
As before, the origin point of the noise remained elusive, but it's been noted that these attacks have been known to occur at night when the diplomats were sleeping.
At present, much remains a mystery, at least to the general public. The US and Cuban diplomatic services have been discussing the issue both publically and privately, the FBI and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police are in Havana to investigate, and a few Cuban diplomats have been expelled from Washington DC during the furor '' but other than that, what's actually going on is anyone's guess.
Phrase from the Chaise
When "Blowing Smoke Up Your Ass" Was Much More Than Just A Saying
Tue, 22 Aug 2017 21:57
Today I Found Out/YouTube
''Oh, you're just blowing smoke up my ass,'' is something you might hear someone say when they think you're just telling them what they want to hear. But in 18th-century England, blowing smoke up one's ass was an actual medical procedure, and no, we aren't kidding.
According to Gizmodo, one of the earliest reports of such a practice took place in England in 1746, when a woman was left unconscious after nearly drowning.
Her husband allegedly took the suggestion of administering a tobacco enema to revive her, a practice that was rising in popularity at the time as a possible answer to the frequent, local instances of drowning.
Left with little choice, the man took a tobacco-filled pipe, inserted the stem into his wife's rectum, and, well, blew a bunch of smoke up there. As strange as it may sound today, it reportedly worked, the hot embers of the tobacco leaf jolting the wife back into consciousness, and the practice grew quickly from there.
But where did the idea to use tobacco as a form of medicine come from? Indigenous Americans, who used the plant to treat various ailments, invented what we refer to as the tobacco enema. English Botanist, physician, and astrologer Nicholas Culpeper borrowed from these practices to treat pain in his native England with methods including enemas to treat inflammation as a result of colic or a hernia.
Today I Found Out/YouTube
Years later, English physician Richard Mead would be among the earliest proponents of using the herbal enema as a recognized practice, and helped bring its use, however short-lived, into mainstream culture.
By the late 1700s, the method had become a regularly applied medical procedure, mostly used to revive people thought to be nearly deceased, usually drowning victims. The process was so common, in fact, that several major waterways kept the instrument, consisting of a bellows and flexible tube, nearby in case of such emergencies.
The tobacco smoke was believed to increase the heart rate of the victim and encourage respiratory functions, as well as ''dry out'' the insides of the waterlogged individual, making this method of delivery more preferred than breathing air directly into the lungs via the mouth.
Wikimedia Commons Textbook drawing of a tobacco smoke enema device. 1776.
Before the implementation of an official instrument, tobacco enemas were typically administered with a standard smoking pipe.
This proved to be an impractical solution as the stem of a pipe was much shorter than the tube of the instrument that would come later, making both the spread of diseases such as cholera, and the accidental inhalation of the contents of the patient's anal cavity, an unfortunate yet common possibility.
With the tobacco enema's rise in popularity in full swing, London doctors William Hawes and Thomas Cogan together formed The Institution For Affording Immediate Relief To Persons Apparently Dead From Drowning in 1774.
The group was later named the much simpler Royal Humane Society, a charitable organization that ''grants awards for acts of bravery in the saving of human life and, also, for the restoration of life by resuscitation.'' It is still in operation today and is now sponsored by the Queen of England.
Wikimedia Commons Thomas Cogan
The practice of awarding life-saving citizens has been a hallmark of the society since its inception. Back then, anyone known to revive a drowning victim was awarded four guineas, equal to around $160 today.
The procedure, of course, is no longer in use today. However, the tobacco enema had a good run during the 18th century, and its usage even spread to treat additional ailments such as typhoid, headache, and stomach cramping.
But with the 1811 discovery that tobacco is actually toxic to the cardiac system, however, the popularity of the practice dwindled quickly from there.
For more medical marvels and curiosities, check out the most painful medical procedures of medieval times and the hydro-electric belt, which used self-electrocution as a cure for everything from depression to constipation.
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VIDEO - George and Amal Clooney give $1 million to combat U.S. hate groups
Thu, 24 Aug 2017 12:42
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Actor George Clooney and his humanitarian lawyer wife, Amal Clooney, have donated $1 million to the Southern Poverty Law Center, a U.S. non-profit that monitors extremists and domestic hate groups, in response to protests in Charlottesville, Virginia earlier this month.
An Aug. 12 rally in the town organized by neo-Nazis and other white supremacists led to counter-protests and the death of a woman when a car plowed into the crowd. The street battles triggered a political crisis for President Donald Trump, who praised "very fine people" on both sides of the fight.
"What happened in Charlottesville, and what is happening in communities across our country, demands our collective engagement to stand up to hate," the Clooneys said in a joint statement.
The donation comes from the Clooney Foundation for Justice, which the couple established in 2016 to promote justice in classrooms and courtrooms around the world.
Southern Poverty Law Center President Richard Cohen thanked the Clooneys for "standing with us at this critical moment in our country's fight against hate."
Reporting by Jill Serjeant; editing by Steve Orlofsky
VIDEO - Donny Deutsch: Trump A Sociopath? [VIDEO] | The Daily Caller
Thu, 24 Aug 2017 12:21
MSNBC's Donny Deutsch guessed that President Donald Trump could be a sociopath thanks to a quick google search on sociopathic tendencies.
''I did some homework,'' Deutsch said, ''and there's nothing glib about this. I just need 40 seconds, how to determine if someone's a sociopath.''
Deutsch then proceeded to read off a long list of sociopathic behavior from a piece of paper.
''What a sociopath is''a condition that prevents people from adopting to ethical behavioral standards of a community,'' he read. ''Sociopaths are usually extremely charming and charismatic. Sociopaths oftentimes feel entitled to certain positions, people, and things.''
A Wikihow article is listed as the top search result when googling the exact phrases that Deutsch read.
''They believe their own beliefs and opinions are the absolute authority and disregard others,'' Deutsch continued. ''They're rarely shy, insecure, and lost for words and have trouble suppressing emotional responses like anger, impatience, and annoyance.''
At one point, Deutsch had to flip the page so he could continue reading the long list. The entire diatribe took nearly a full minute.
''I'm not being glib here,'' Deutsch repeated. ''We're trying to analyze this intelligently or rationally or the left-brain and I think there is none. And then you start to say, coming off of Clapper, coming off of Corker, what is'...wrong with this man?''
''So many traits of a sociopath this man has displayed.''
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VIDEO - He was a witness in Charlottesville. Then the death threats and conspiracy theories began. - YouTube
Thu, 24 Aug 2017 12:09
VIDEO - Free Keene Squad - Robin Hooders - YouTube
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VIDEO - Auntie Maxine Waters Did Not Come to Play! ''If You Come For Me, I'm Coming For You'' | Black Girls Rock | Season 2017
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VIDEO - He's considered Canada's founding father, but many Ontario teachers want his name stripped from public schools
Thu, 24 Aug 2017 11:36
Teachers' union votes to urge school boards to remove John A. Macdonald's name from public schoolsShanifa Nasser - CBC News
11 Hours Ago
The Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario has voted to urge school boards to remove John A. Macdonald's name from public schools, such as this one in Waterloo, Ont. (Google Maps)As U.S. legislators mull the removal of statues seen by many as painful reminders of the darker moments in American history, a similar debate is playing out in Ontario over whether public schools should bear the names of Canadian figures associated with this country's legacy around the treatment of Indigenous communities.
That debate hit the floor of a meeting by the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario days ago, ending with a resolution to urge school boards across the province to consider removing the name of Canada's first prime minister '-- Sir John A. Macdonald '-- from public schools.
Felipe Pareja, a French teacher in Peel region just west of Toronto, is behind the motion.
Pareja says the decision was by no means unanimous, but that it passed by a substantial margin.
No opportunity for asterisksWidely lauded as the father of Confederation, Macdonald is credited with having joined the eastern and western parts of Canada together through the creation of a transcontinental railway.
Pareja says he acknowledges Macdonald's foundational role in the country's Confederation, but that having public schools bearing his name leaves out his role in the starvation of Indigenous people along the railway to facilitate its construction '-- along with Macdonald's "central role as the architect of, really, what was genocide of Indigenous peoples on Turtle Island."
"At no point when it came time to learn about the Confederation of Canada, the Fathers of Confederation, was any of this part our history," he said, recalling his own time in the elementary school system.
David Mastin, president of the ETFO's Durham local, agrees.
"When you name a school after someone, there's an honour that's bestowed," Mastin told CBC News. "If there was a full opportunity to have alongside the name of Sir John A. Macdonald a little asterisk that said, 'Oh yes, he did so and so...' But that doesn't happen."
Tori Cress, an activist with Idle No More, sees the vote as a positive step.
Tori Cress is an activist with Idle No More. (Stephanie Matteis)"I like to see school teachers and educators following this kind of move to being inclusive with their students and be proud to be Canadian in a way that's not honouring people that destroyed other races," Cress said.
"There is a place for these people '-- maybe not in monuments or statues and school place names, but the history books, museums."
Union 'needs a lesson on how to teach history'But the move isn't without pushback.
Former foreign affairs minister John Baird called the move "political correctness on steroids."
"It's one the most crazy and ridiculous things I've ever heard '-- just simply trying to erase Canadian history in the guise of an extreme and radical political correctness. I can't believe the average teacher in Ontario would support this type of ridiculous idea," said Baird, who was also a supporter of renaming the Ottawa River Parkway the Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway.
Baird says he also didn't support Justin Trudeau's recent decision to rename the Langevin Block, the building that houses the Prime Minister's Office and was named after Hector-Louis Langevin, a strong proponent of the residential school system.
The federal government renamed the Langevin Block building, which sits across from Parliament Hill, out of respect for Indigenous people. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)"In Ottawa, we honour our former leaders, whether it's John A. Macdonald or Wilfrid Laurier '-- great Canadians who helped build a fantastic and prosperous country," he said.
Baird says he sees no parallel behind the debate in this country with the one swirling around the removal of Confederate statues in the United States.
For his part, Conservative MP Erin O'Toole, who represents Durham, called the decision "embarrassing."
But Pareja responded that it's precisely because teachers are cognizant of Canada's history that they voted in favour of the motion. "It's the furthest thing from embarrassing."
Asked if a similar decision should apply to Sir Wilfrid Laurier, associated with boosting the Chinese head tax, Pareja said he wasn't sure.
"This is a part of a broader conversation about what kinds of things we can do as a society to truly reconcile ourselves as settlers to this land with the Indigenous peoples of Turtle Island."
The teachers union has no power to remove Macdonald's name from the schools, but says it hopes school boards will be open to the idea.
"It's a long road that we need to travel, but it's one that we need to travel," said Pareja. "I would hope that school boards would join us along this path."
Ontario teacher explains why he wants John A. MacDonald's name removed from schools '-- 7:12
With files from As it Happens, Power and Politics, CBC Ottawa
VIDEO - Frans Timmermans compares nationalists to alcoholics | Daily Mail Online
Thu, 24 Aug 2017 11:35
The first vice president of the European Commission has attacked nationalism, saying the ideology makes countries weaker, poorer, and morally insecure.
Frans Timmermans compared the ideology and what he called its 'Siamese twin' of protectionism to alcohol dependency, saying they create 'a short period of exaltation followed by a long period of headaches.'
While striding through war graves in Europe, Mr Timmermans argued that nationalists cannot be true patriots because they undermine their home countries.
Frans Timmermans, the first vice president of the European Commission, launched a scathing attacking on nationalism, saying it makes countries 'weak'
Mr Timmermans released the video to commemorate Black Ribbon Day, which remembers the victims of totalitarian regimes in Europe.
He posted the video message to Facebook, along with the caption: 'European cooperation, patriotism and our values make us who we are.
'Let's reject extreme nationalism which weakens member states individually and collectively.
'Nationalists are un-patriotic. A true patriot is proud of his nation, needs unity, openness, cooperation with others, the strength found in compromise and debate.
Mr Timmermans, who was commemorating European victims of totalitarian regimes, said nationalists could never be true patriots
'Today, on the European Day of remembrance for victims of all totalitarian and authoritarian regimes, I want to send a clear message that to be a patriot is to be European, to be European is to be a patriot.'
A spokesman for the commission later had to clarify that Mr Timmermans had not been talking directly about Brexit.
Earlier in the day it was revealed that European courts could have jurisdiction over the UK for three years under a transitional arrangement following Britain's departure from the EU.
The deal was exposed despite Prime Minister Theresa May championing the Conservative pledge to take back control of British law after Brexit.
The proposal was contained in a paper laying out possible options for Britain's future legal relationship with the European Union after March 2019.
VIDEO - Former CIA agent wants to buy Twitter to kick Trump off
Thu, 24 Aug 2017 11:12
Former undercover CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson is looking to crowdfund enough money to buy Twitter so President Donald Trump can't use it.
Wilson launched the fundraiser last week, tweeting: "If @Twitter executives won't shut down Trump's violence and hate, then it's up to us. #BuyTwitter #BanTrump." The GoFundMe page for the fundraiser says Trump's tweets "damage the country and put people in harm's way."
As of Wednesday morning, she had raised less than $6,000 of the billion-dollar goal.
In an emailed statement, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the low total shows that the American people like the president's use of Twitter.
"Her ridiculous attempt to shut down his first amendment is the only clear violation and expression of hate and intolerance in this equation," the statement read.
Wilson wrote on the fundraiser's GoFundMe page that she hopes to raise enough money to buy a controlling interest of Twitter stock. If she doesn't have enough to purchase a majority of shares, she said that she will explore options to buy "a significant stake" and champion the proposal at Twitter's annual shareholder meeting.
If Plame were to hit her billion-dollar goal, she'd still fall far short of gaining a controlling interest in the company. As of Wednesday, a majority stake would cost roughly $6 billion. But a billion-dollar stake would make her Twitter's largest shareholder and give her a very strong position to exert influence on the company.
Twitter didn't immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday.
Wilson's identity as a CIA operative was leaked by an official in former President George W. Bush's administration in 2003 in an effort to discredit her husband, Joe Wilson, a former diplomat who criticized Bush's decision to invade Iraq. She left the agency in 2005.
WATCH: Trump's tweets can cost a company billions of dollars. Here's how...
VIDEO - Trump's Phoenix speech ''downright scary and disturbing,'' says Clapper '' VICE News
Thu, 24 Aug 2017 04:18
''How much longer does the country have to '-- to borrow a phrase '-- endure this nightmare?''
That's how former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper described the Trump presidency on CNN Wednesday morning following the president's 77-minute primal scream of a speech in Phoenix, where he ran down a long list of grievances, especially with the media. Trump held the campaign-style event against the wishes of Phoenix's mayor.
Clapper's assessment went further, much further, suggesting Trump is not mentally sound and fretted that there aren't enough guardrails to limit the president when it comes to the nuclear codes.
''I really question his ability to be '-- his fitness to be '-- in this office,'' said Clapper, who's served in several past administrations. The former DNI director said the speech was ''downright scary and disturbing,'' and worried aloud about how Trump's temperament could thrust the United States into a nuclear war. ''In a fit of pique, he decides to do something about Kim Jong Un, there's actually very little to stop him,'' Clapper said. ''The whole system is built to ensure rapid response if necessary. So there's very little in the way of controls over exercising a nuclear option, which is pretty damn scary.''
While Democrats have publicly questioned or snickered at Trump's mental health since the campaign, Clapper's comments come as some Republicans have also raised the specter of the president's steadiness. '' The president has not yet been able to demonstrate the stability nor some of the competence that he needs to demonstrate in order to be successful,'' Republican Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee said last week.
Clapper, who served in the military and the intelligence community since the 1960s before retiring in January, has become an increasingly outspoken critic of the president, an unusual move for someone who's been in the chain of command most of his life.
He said in July that Trump's cozy relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin and frequent disparagement of the U.S. intelligence community (Trump compared them to the Nazis back in January) is ''making Russia great again.'' In June, he said that the ongoing investigation into potential collusion between the Trump campaign in Russia was much bigger than Watergate. ''I think you compare the two, that Watergate pales, really, in my view, compared to what we're confronting now,'' he said.
And in May following Trump's abrupt firing of FBI Director James Comey, Clapper said that America's democratic institutions are ''under assault'' by the commander in chief.
VIDEO - August 9, 2017 -Podcast Extra-Col. John Antal Talks North Korea - The Wells Report (podcast) 7 mins in
Wed, 23 Aug 2017 17:57
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Col. John Antal talks North Korea
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VIDEO - Issue Spotlight Opioid Epidemic, Aug 17 2017 | Video | C-SPAN.org
Wed, 23 Aug 2017 16:18
2017-08-17T20:00:00-04:00 https://images.c-span.org/Files/27f/20170817211208001_hd.jpg C-SPAN presented an in-depth look at the opioid epidemic. The program included remarks from governors, President Trump, and health officials. Telephone lines were also open for viewer comments on the issue. C-SPAN presented an in-depth look at the opioid epidemic. The program included remarks from governors, President Trump, and health officials. Telephone lines were also open for viewer comments on the issue.
VIDEO - Robert Lee: ESPN under fire for taking announcer off UVA game - Aug. 23, 2017
Wed, 23 Aug 2017 15:07
On Tuesday night, the network confirmed that its management moved an Asian-American announcer, Robert Lee, off the University of Virginia's home opener football game "simply because of the coincidence of his name."
Earlier Tuesday, a source had told CNN that Lee was abruptly switched to the Youngstown versus Pitt game. He had recently been promoted by ESPN, so the switch was a sensitive matter.
News of the decision follows the violence that broke out earlier this month at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, protesting plans to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. The night before the deadly violence, white nationalists marched across the UVA campus, carrying torches and chanting racist slogans.
Now, UVA is preparing for the start of a new school year. The opening home game -- against William and Mary -- is on September 2, the same day as Youngstown versus Pitt.
Both games are slated to be live-streamed on ESPN's digital networks, not on television. But if ESPN thought this was a minor change, it was quickly proven wrong when word leaked out on Tuesday.
The website Outkick the Coverage broke the story -- with a headline invoking a popular conservative nickname for ESPN, "MSESPN," which derides the network as the sports equivalent of the liberal talk shows on MSNBC.
The headline said, "MSESPN Pulls Asian Announcer Named Robert Lee Off UVa Game To Avoid Offending Idiots." The story was so popular that the site's servers were overloaded on Tuesday evening.
ESPN subsequently said in a statement that its executives "collectively made the decision with Robert to switch games as the tragic events in Charlottesville were unfolding."
"In that moment it felt right to all parties," the network said. "It's a shame that this is even a topic of conversation and we regret that who calls play-by-play for a football game has become an issue."
From ESPN's perspective, the executives were trying to guard against Lee becoming a punchline, given that he shares a name with a Confederate general.
They foresaw memes and headlines "Robert Lee marches into Charlottesville." Moving Lee to a different game was seen as a way to support him.
But many commenters on social media said ESPN overreacted. The story lit up Twitter and Facebook on Tuesday. Two of the prime time shows on Fox News mocked ESPN for the decision. A banner on screen called it "pathetic."
"ESPN did this out of fear of the yowling mob. And is part of it now," John Podhoretz, the editor of Commentary, wrote on Twitter.
Well-known ESPN anchor Bob Ley also weighed in and made light of his last name: "Rather worried my employee ID/pass may not admit me in the AM. Life, as scripted by @OnionSports."
The criticism didn't let up on Wednesday morning. Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee shared a series of tweets mocking ESPN's trigger-happy decision-making.
"ESPN will not broadcast games of any kind from Jackson, MS for fear it might honor Stonewall or Andrew Jackson and trigger someone," he wrote.
And: "ESPN will no longer air football games on TV as referees are dressed in black and white and that could be viewed as binary racism."
ESPN has been strongly criticized -- primarily in conservative circles -- for injecting political issues into sports coverage and for allegedly taking sides in various controversies.
The network recently commissioned a study that found political polarization has not had a big effect on viewership.
CNNMoney (New York) First published August 23, 2017: 3:26 AM ET
VIDEO - No Free Rides As Metro Cracks Down On Gum Chewing, 'Manspreading' CBS Los Angeles
Wed, 23 Aug 2017 12:45
PASADENA (CBSLA.com) '-- Metro riders beware: your bad manners could cost you big bucks.
Transit officials are cracking down on how riders behave on Metro's fleet of 2,200 clean air buses and six rail lines, with a particular focus on getting riders to be mindful of seat-hogging, blocking the aisles and eating or drinking.
The latest ''Metro Manners'' campaign comes on the heels of a month-long enforcement surge earlier this year on the Blue Line, where more than 3,200 riders were issued warnings and over 2,000 were ejected for various infractions, including taking up excessive space and people eating and drinking on trains.
Riders who are found doing any of the following are subject to a fine of $75 per offense and could be escorted off the train or bus:
Eating, drinking, smoking, vaping;Playing loud music;Disturbing others;Disorderly, lewd conduct;Placing chewing gum on seats;Loitering;Fare evasion;Occupying more than one seat or blocking a door; orRiding a bicycle or skateboard in a station.Riders who commit third, fourth and fifth offenses could face being banned for 30 to 90 days, officials said.
It's not the first time Metro has tried to teach better social etiquette to its riders: in 2003, the agency had ''Metro Manners'' trading cards designed for presentations to schools in LA County.
Some of the campaign's characters included the Snacker, whose food and drinks were a messy nuisance to others; Edgy Eddie, named for his habit of standing dangerously close to the edges of sidewalk curbs and train platforms; and the Blab Sisters, who predictably do far too much blabbing on Metro rides.
VIDEO - Washington Journal News Headlines Viewer Calls, Aug 22 2017 | C-SPAN.org
Tue, 22 Aug 2017 16:27
2017-08-22T09:02:56-04:00 https://images.c-span.org/Files/986/20170822090744001_hd.jpg Telephone lines were open for viewer calls and social media comments on President Trump's address on his administration's strategy for Afghanistan. Telephone lines were open for viewer calls and social media comments on President Trump's address on his administration's strategy for Afghanistan.
VIDEO - Washington Journal AC Thompson Documenting Hate Project | C-SPAN.org
Tue, 22 Aug 2017 15:52
2017-08-22T09:32:24-04:00 https://images.c-span.org/Files/0ed/20170822093402001_hd.jpg A.C. Thompson talked about the ''Documenting Hate'' project, which was created to provide one central source that tracks hate crimes across the country. A.C. Thompson talked about the ''Documenting Hate'' project, which was created to provide one central source that tracks hate crimes across the country.
VIDEO - Company with crowds for hire sees opportunity in politics - CBS News
Tue, 22 Aug 2017 14:41
As the race for the White House heats up with the first Republican debate set for Thursday, there appears to be a growing number of supporters showing up at campaign speeches and appearances. The increasing pressure to gain an edge has some candidates paying actors to be faces in the crowd, CBS News' Carter Evans reports.
When Donald Trump entered the presidential race, spurred on by an energetic crowd, apparently not all were true believers. According to an email obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, actors were offered $50 to wear T-shirts, carry signs and cheer.
Trump denies paying supporters, but if he did, he is hardly alone.
Adam Swart is CEO of Crowds on Demand. His initial clients were minor celebrities looking to get create a buzz. He hired actors to play paparazzi and fans. It wasn't long before politicians came calling.
"You want the world to think that it's really a genuine crowd, and that's what we do," Swart said.
Swart said party affiliation doesn't matter. You want a crowd, he'll give you a crowd to cheer or go negative. He'll even provide protesters for an event.
"We don't trick people," Swart said. "We engage them."
"Obviously what we really want are authentic politicians," University of Southern California public policy professor Elizabeth Currid-Halkett said. "But they know the game, and they know how to get more people to follow is to at least create the illusion that everyone's very interested."
The practice is now so common there is a word for it in the dictionary: astroturfing. Webster's dictionary says astroturfing is the practice of disguising an orchestrated campaign as a spontaneous upwelling of public opinion.
"It's all semantics," Swart said. "What we do is we build grassroots movements."
"I do think that it crosses the line when you are actually swaying public opinion," Currid-Halkett said.
Swart said the only thing he won't do is work with hate groups. Anyone else is fair game. Swart takes pride in creating buzz for an issue that otherwise wouldn't exist.
"I think we want to believe the buzz," Currid-Halkett said. "To be honest with you, if we're rolling into the election so cynical that we don't believe anything that comes out of a politician's mouth and any of the crowd and energy around them, then what's to be excited about? So I think we have to suspend our disbelief until something like a crazy email comes out and we find out that in fact the crowd was rented."
"If we told people it was fake, it would be hard to engage them in the first place," Swart said. "I think having it seem genuine is really critical. If they find out it's fake several years down the line, well fine."
Proving that in politics things aren't always what they seem.
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VIDEO - Mesmerized CBS reporter goes quiet as total eclipse happens in Wyoming
Tue, 22 Aug 2017 12:38
VIDEO - Investigation Puts Ancestry DNA Kits To The Test Among Sets Of Triplets - YouTube
Tue, 22 Aug 2017 11:44
VIDEO - NASA Is Sending Bacteria Into The Sky During The Total Solar Eclipse - Newsy Story
Mon, 21 Aug 2017 23:32
NASA and Montana State University are ready to send loads of bacteria into the stratosphere. But don't worry; it's all for science.
Teams across the U.S. will release about 100 balloons during the Aug. 21 total solar eclipse. They'll float around 85,000 feet in the air, and each balloon will have cameras for video and photos, as well as a tracker.
Some of those balloons will also carry samples of a highly resistant bacteria. NASA scientists want to see how it reacts to Mars-like conditions.
The upper part of Earth's stratosphere has conditions very similar to Mars' atmosphere at the surface. There, the air is thin, and the environment is cold and full of radiation. During the eclipse, Earth's atmospheric conditions will become even more like Mars.
The experiment aims to test the limits of living things on Earth.
SEE MORE: You Could Be NASA's New Planetary Protection Officer
Eventually, the balloons will pop, and devices will send the data and bacteria down to the ground. NASA will compare the stratosphere bacteria with samples left on Earth to see what changed.
Researchers say they hope to learn a lot from the balloon experiment. And here's a bonus: The onboard cameras will livestream the eclipse on the internet for millions to watch.
Trending stories at Newsy.com
Mon, 21 Aug 2017 18:32
VIDEO - UT-Austin removes Confederate statues
Mon, 21 Aug 2017 16:31
AUSTIN - With no warning, the remaining Confederate statues were removed from the University of Texas at Austin campus Sunday night.
The removal of the statues depicting Robert E. Lee, Albert Sidney Johnston, John Reagan and James Stephen Hogg began just before midnight.
RELATED: Councilmen request new location for Confederate monument in downtown SA parkThis is not the first time debate about the statues was considered.
In 2015, after the mass shooting in Charleston, South Carolina, the university removed the statue of Jefferson Davis was removed from the main mall near the UT Tower.
"After considering the original task force report and with the events of the past week and my discussions with the campus community in mind, I have decided to relocate the remaining four statues," UT President Gregory Fenves said in a statement.
RELATED: San Antonio residents hold vigil for victims of Charlottesville violenceBelow is the statement from UT President Gregory Fenves:
Dear UT Community, Last week, the horrific displays of hatred at the University of Virginia and in Charlottesville shocked and saddened the nation. These events make it clear, now more than ever, that Confederate monuments have become symbols of modern white supremacy and neo-Nazism.
After the Charleston, South Carolina, church shooting in June 2015, and with the urging of students, I formed a task force of faculty, students, alumni and university leaders to evaluate six statues on UT's Main Mall that included depictions of four military and political leaders of the Confederacy.
The task force presented five options, ranging from the installation of contextual materials to the removal of some or all of the statues. At that time, I decided to move the statues of Jefferson Davis and U.S. President Woodrow Wilson. The Davis statue has since been restored and presented at UT's Dolph Briscoe Center for American History in a scholarly exhibition about the Littlefield Fountain and the six Main Mall statues.
During the past several days, I have talked with student leaders, students, faculty members, staff members and alumni to listen to their views after the revelatory events in Charlottesville. I also revisited the very thorough 2015 task force report.
After considering the original task force report and with the events of the past week and my discussions with the campus community in mind, I have decided to relocate the remaining four statues. The statues depicting Robert E. Lee, Albert Sidney Johnston, John Reagan and James Stephen Hogg are now being removed from the Main Mall. The Lee, Johnston and Reagan statues will be added to the collection of the Briscoe Center for scholarly study. The statue of James Hogg, governor of Texas (1891-1895), will be considered for re-installation at another campus site.
The University of Texas at Austin is a public educational and research institution, first and foremost. The historical and cultural significance of the Confederate statues on our campus '-- and the connections that individuals have with them '-- are severely compromised by what they symbolize. Erected during the period of Jim Crow laws and segregation, the statues represent the subjugation of African Americans. That remains true today for white supremacists who use them to symbolize hatred and bigotry.
The University of Texas at Austin has a duty to preserve and study history. But our duty also compels us to acknowledge that those parts of our history that run counter to the university's core values, the values of our state and the enduring values of our nation do not belong on pedestals in the heart of the Forty Acres.
We do not choose our history, but we choose what we honor and celebrate on our campus. As UT students return in the coming week, I look forward to welcoming them here for a new academic year with a recommitment to an open, positive and inclusive learning environment for all.
Copyright 2017 by KSAT - All rights reserved.
VIDEO - John McAfee To Google_I'm Coming For You - YouTube
Mon, 21 Aug 2017 12:59
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