Cover for No Agenda Show 966: Master Algo
September 21st, 2017 • 3h 5m

966: Master Algo


Every new episode of No Agenda is accompanied by a comprehensive list of shownotes curated by Adam while preparing for the show. Clips played by the hosts during the show can also be found here.

I'm hoping you'll be kind enough to give a PR mention on the show for the release of Red Cell, the latest No Agenda novel, which I've just released in paperback and Kindle form.
The book is based on a clip you played in episode 532 (I think) way back in 2013. It took two years to come up with the right plot and then two more years to write and edit this sucker. It's full of No Agenda memes and subjects you've discussed on the show, including terrorist attacks on malls, roller coasters, the Super Bowl and killer selfie-sticks.
John, with a bit of luck your copy should have arrived at your PO box by now.
Adam, if you could give me your new address I'll send you a copy.
Thank you for your courage
Scott McKenzie
Jason Stockley Verdict: More Riots in St Louis as U2 and Ed Sheeran Concerts Cancelled
Thu, 21 Sep 2017 03:57
There was more rioting in St. Louis, Missouri, Saturday night when a peaceful march against the acquittal of a white police officer accused of murdering a young black man turned violent.
Demonstrators had earlier marched through a shopping center in the Des Peres suburb, blocking a major road. After dark "the unruly crowd became a mob," according to police, and protesters threw bricks, rocks and projectiles as officers tried to disperse crowds.
A protester stands with his hands in the air as police officers dressed in riot gear watch as demonstrators protest the day after the not guilty verdict in the murder trial of Jason Stockley, a former St. Louis police officer, charged with the 2011 shooting of Anthony Lamar Smith, who was black, in St. Louis, Missouri, U.S., September 16, 2017. Reuters
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Police arrested nine people during the protests Saturday night.
Earlier rock group U2 cancelled a gig in the city in light of the protests. The concert's organizers say they took the decision after police informed them that they were "not in a position to provide the standard protection for our audience."
Friday's protest had largely been peaceful, though violence broke out after midnight and police declared the gathering an unlawful assembly. Eleven officers were injured.
Why are the protesters demonstrating?
Protests broke out Friday following the acquittal of Jason Stockley, a former police officer charged with first-degree murder after shooting dead Anthony Lamar Smith in 2011.
People march the day after the not guilty verdict in the murder trial of Jason Stockley, a former St. Louis police officer, charged with the 2011 shooting of Anthony Lamar Smith, who was black, in St. Louis, Missouri, U.S., September 16, 2017. Reuters
Stockley and his partner said they believed they saw Smith dealing drugs outside a restaurant, and pursued Smith in a high-speed three-minute car chase.
Stockley was recorded saying "Gonna kill this motherfucker, don't you know it" while in a car chasing Smith, and told his partner, who was driving, to ram Smith's car.
When it had stopped, Stockley ran to the window of Smith's car and fired five shots.
Stockley claimed he saw Smith holding a gun but prosecutors said the officer planted a gun in Smith's car after the shooting.
Smith was a new father and engaged to be married when he was killed on December 20, 2011.
According to a CNN report, many protesters on Saturday expressed anger over the Stockley verdict, and called for city leaders to step down.
What next?
More protests are planned for Sunday in the center of St. Louis, and a Sunday gig by singer Ed Sheeran has been cancelled.
Enrollment drops at schools known for 'social justice warfare' - Washington Times
Mon, 18 Sep 2017 12:19
Universities known for being hotbeds of campus protest and liberal activism are struggling with declining enrollments and budget shortfalls, and higher education analysts say that's no coincidence.
Take Oberlin College. According to a document leaked to The Oberlin Review, the school's student newspaper, the small liberal arts college famous for social justice hoaxes has had trouble attracting and retaining students, missing this year's enrollment mark by 80 and racking up a $5 million budget deficit in the process.
William A. Jacobson, a professor at Cornell Law School who runs the Legal Insurrection blog, said the ''most obvious culprit'' in Oberlin's dwindling admissions is ''relentless social justice warfare.''
''Social justice warfare at Oberlin has been more intense and sustained over a longer period of time than at most schools, and has come to define Oberlin in the media,'' Mr. Jacobson said. ''The resulting mockery and derision, even in liberal publications, has damaged the Oberlin brand.''
Surveys support the notion that, in the era of Trump, conservatives have become more skeptical about the value of a college degree.
The polarizing presidential election was felt in the dip in applicants at some top-tier colleges such as Ohio's Kenyon College.
QUIZ: Are you worthy of 'Seinfeld?'
''This is a year in which you were vulnerable if you were a small liberal arts college in a rural red state and you attract a significant portion of your student body from the East Coast or West Coast, which would certainly be the case with Kenyon,'' Diane Anci, Kenyon's vice president of enrollment and dean of admissions and financial aid, told the Ohio school's Kenyon Collegian newspaper.
A study published by the Washington-based Pew Research Center in July found that just 36 percent of Republicans believe colleges and universities have a positive effect on the country, down from 54 percent two years ago.
Gallup released a poll in August that found just 33 percent of Republican and Republican-leaning respondents had a ''great deal or quite a lot of confidence in higher education.'' Sixty-seven percent said they have ''some or very little'' confidence in academia.
High school counselors report that, in the past few years, parents have been more likely to express concern about sending their children to schools with progressive reputations.
''Many won't consider Oberlin or Wesleyan, and Brown is completely off the table,'' one counselor told Inside Higher Education in June.
The problem may be especially pronounced among the nation's heartland. Inside Higher Education reports that several prestigious, small liberal arts colleges in the Midwest have missed their enrollment marks this year.
Some college administrators have taken notice. According to Inside Higher Education's annual survey, 52 percent of admissions directors from public colleges and 28 percent from private ones said they were stepping up their recruitment of students from rural areas in the wake of the presidential race.
Declining enrollments have previously been observed at colleges and universities that became notorious for chaotic campus activism, including the University of Missouri and Evergreen State College.
By some estimates, enrollment at the former is down 35 percent since fall 2015, when student protests helped launch the Black Lives Matter movement.
Meanwhile, Evergreen faces a $2.1 million budget shortfall this year since students took over the campus last spring, barricading themselves in the library, berating administrators on a regular basis and forcing one dissenting professor to teach off campus out of fear for his safety.
A spokesperson for Oberlin College did not respond to a request for comment from The Washington Times.
The school's problems cannot be traced to a single incident but to several.
In February 2013, mass hysteria ensued after racist and anti-Semitic flyers and graffiti began to appear all over campus. Classes were canceled, meetings were held and students began to see racism around every corner, including when someone reported seeing a member of the Ku Klux Klan on campus. It turned out to be a woman walking around wrapped in a blanket to keep warm.
Not only that, the perpetrators behind the racist paraphernalia turned out to be two progressive students, one of whom was confirmed to be an Obama supporter, trying to get a reaction out of their classmates and the administration.
Rather than admit the whole thing was a hoax and move on, the Oberlin administration doubled down on a social justice agenda, including the implementation of a privilege and oppression ''reorientation'' for first-year students.
In the ensuing years, Oberlin students would go on to make frequent demands of the university, ranging from the end of culturally appropriated meals at the dining hall, such as General Tso's chicken and sushi, to the elimination of grades below a C.
In 2015, after the University of Missouri protests, the Oberlin Black Student Union issued a 14-page letter making 50 demands of the administration. They included exclusive ''safe spaces'' for black students and the elimination of graduation requirements for classes in Western civilization.
Last November, Oberlin students targeted Gibson's Bakery, a beloved store in Oberlin, Ohio, after an employee called police when he saw someone attempting to shoplift by concealing two bottles of wine under his jacket. The accused shoplifter turned out to be a black Oberlin student.
The Black Student Union, Oberlin Student Senate and College Democrats spearheaded a boycott of the bakery and organized protests outside of the store. Even the Oberlin administration, responding to calls from Black Lives Matter supporters on campus, stopped purchasing goods from the bakery.
Three students involved in the incident ended up pleading guilty to attempted theft and aggravated trespassing. As part of a plea deal, the students acknowledged that the bakery's actions were ''not racially motivated'' and that the store was ''merely trying to prevent an underage sale.''
Most of the enrollment deficit at Oberlin came from a smaller-than-expected freshman class, which totaled 742 instead of a projected 805.
Peter Wood, president of the National Association of Scholars, said that drop-off is more serious than it may appear.
''That doesn't sound like an astonishing number of people not coming, but weighed on a percentage basis, that's a huge drop in just one year,'' Mr. Wood said. ''And Oberlin has for some time been struggling to make its classes. This wasn't just some negligence: 'Oh, we didn't realize that we had to try harder to get students.' They've been trying really hard to get students, and students just aren't coming.''
He said Oberlin can easily recoup the $5 million deficit by cutting the ''apparatus of political correctness'' that has swelled in the past several years. When that happens, he said, it will be a sign that the school is serious about reform.
''The signal that I would look for is when they begin to divest from the large number of personnel who are employed wholly because of their political orientations,'' he said. ''When that happens, I think we will have seen a college that has decided to reposition itself in the market. Until then, it's all just show.''
Sorority probed after singing n-word lyric in Kanye West song | New York Post
Thu, 21 Sep 2017 14:51
Some sorority sisters at the University of New Hampshire are being investigated after a video showing them singing along to a Kanye West song containing the n-word was posted on social media.
The Snapchat video shows the members of Alpha Phi Sorority dancing at a party and singing the n-word as part of the lyrics to the song. It prompted other students to condemn the sorority's ''ignorant and insensitive'' behavior.
The critique was posted Tuesday on an anti-racism student Facebook group called ''All Eyes on UNH.''
''A member of Alpha Phi Sorority put up this video of girls singing along to 'Gold Digger' by Kanye West on her Instagram story,'' the post reads. ''The girls sing the N-word without thinking of the implications.''
''This is a showcase of ignorance and that the Panhellenic Council should do better in combating racism. The first step is addressing willful ignorance.''
Social media users rushed to criticize the sorority, claiming it perpetuates racism.
''If you know the lyrics so well, then you should know when the word is coming up and literally shut your mouth,'' UNH student Sofia Ford commented under the video on Facebook.
''Not a word for us (white people) to use under any circumstances. It's ignorant and insensitive. Literally, the N-word should never leave your mouth. If you are white and think this is OK, then you have some serious growing up to do. Buy a dictionary and look up the term 'institutionalized racism,' and then come and defend this behavior.''
''Hey white people, literally just don't broadcast you and your clan of Beckys saying the N-word and you'll be fine,'' seconded Maggie Lowe. ''Don't give any 'it's expression crap' because white people will never ever ever be able to tell me what it's like to be an 'n-word.'''
Other students, however, defended the sorority members, suggesting they meant no harm and were just singing along with a popular song played at a party.
UNH student Gabby Razz said: ''These girls clearly were not intentionally trying to degrade people of color because of one word sung. They're college girls having fun celebrating their new members of the sorority.''
''Maybe these girls are just being normal people singing along to a song. These girls aren't racist and people up in arms over this are authoritarian p'---s who hate free speech,'' seconded self-described ''UNH alumni'' Eric Hadley.
A UNH spokeswoman told NH1 Wednesday that the college was investigating the video and the sorority.
''No disciplinary action has yet been taken by the university. The incident is under review,'' spokeswoman Erika Mantz told the outlet.
''We believe strongly in the right to free speech as recognized by the First Amendment, and we also believe in the right of every member of our community to feel safe and respected.
''We continue to work to improve our campus culture through education, awareness and action.''
Woman's post about Hobby Lobby's decor goes viral |
Tue, 19 Sep 2017 22:19
Destiny Johnson, WUSA 8:13 PM. CDT September 18, 2017
Last week, Daniell Rider posted a picture of a fake raw cotton plant on Facebook urging the craft store giant Hobby Lobby to take down its decor calling for 'a little sensitivity.'
Rider takes issue with raw cotton, a commodity gained largely at the expense of black slaves, being used as a decoration.
The post has over 15,000 shares and more than 166,000 comments. As expected, a debate has broken out in the comments as to whether this decoration is insensitive and unnecessary or whether its pleasing aesthetic has nothing to do race and the past at all.
Regardless this plastic plant has gotten people talking.
(C) 2017 WTLV-TV
Our View: Justice was - and wasn't - served in Jason Stockley verdict
Thu, 21 Sep 2017 04:01
Editorial board, The Republic | Published 6:10 a.m. MT Sept. 19, 2017 | Updated 6:22 a.m. MT Sept. 19, 2017
Police expect more protests Sunday in St. Louis after two nights of violence sparked by the acquittal of a white former police officer in the fatal shooting of a black man.
Editorial: The protests in St. Louis reveal understandable anger over police shootings. But the justice system worked as intended.
Demonstrators protest the acquittal of former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley on Sept. 17, 2017 in St. Louis. (Photo: Scott Olson, Getty Images)
The anger remains raw and the reaction turned violent when yet another white police officer was acquitted after shooting a black suspect.
It is as important to understand the anger that rocked St. Louis this weekend as it is to acknowledge the value of the high burden of proof the law requires for a first-degree murder conviction.
The shooting took place Dec. 11, 2011, but the state did not file charges until 2016.
Justice delayed?
Ex-officer Jason Stockley had, during a high-speed chase, made the comment that ''we're killing this (expletive) you know.'' He did subsequently shoot Anthony Lamar Smith.
Justice denied?
Protesters have a legitimate point Protesters near St. Louis thought so after the ruling Friday and again Saturday. They recoiled at what was seen as yet another example of unequal treatment of minority suspects by police.
It's a legitimate point backed up by a list of dead black men and a gnawing rage among those who hold police to a high standard.
But not all the protests were peaceful.
On Friday, dozens of people were arrested and 11 police officers were injured, including five officers who were taken to hospitals, according to the Associated Press. Businesses were damaged and red paint was spattered on the home of St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson.
After a day of peaceful protests on Saturday, violence once again broke out after a small group refused to disperse and wound up breaking windows at dozens of businesses and throwing things at police, who massed in riot gear to make arrests.
Anger runs deep for broken justice system This is a deep anger that America has seen before following other high-profile cases of white officers who shoot black suspects '' some unarmed '' and suffer no consequences. These protests were reminiscent of the months of angry and occasionally violent protests over the 2014 police shooting of Michael Brown in nearby Ferguson.
Violence is not the way to achieve positive change. It undermines, rather than reinforces, the message of the protesters.
But the violence needs to be seen, never condoned, in the context of a deep distrust for the U.S. justice system. A deep belief that the justice system serves the dominant population, but treats minorities like second-class citizens.
Our justice system is broken, Sam Thomas told the Associated Press while helping clean up the broken glass at his friend's business, which had been hit by protesters.
''I'm not saying this is the right way to fix it,'' he told the news service regarding the damage. ''The window isn't murdered. Nobody is going to have a funeral for the window. We can replace it.''
A life cannot be replaced. What's more, our justice system cannot survive if it lacks the confidence of entire segments of our population.
In this case, even the judge struggled.
A lot of the evidence looked bad A judge ruled former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley not guilty in the 2011 death of Anthony Lamar Smith. Here is a timeline of events leading up to the ruling. (Sept. 15) AP
St. Louis Circuit Judge Timothy Wilson said he ''agonizingly '... poured over the evidence'' against Stockley. Much of it looked bad, such as the comment about killing the suspect.
After a high-speed chase that began with Smith ramming the police vehicle, Stockley approached the car with his gun holstered. Stockley's partner had warned Stockley the suspect had a gun, and Stockley testified that he saw a gun before the chase began. But no gun was seen as Stockley approached the car.
MORE:Verdict shows how rare officer convictions are
According to testimony, Stockley drew his weapon after Smith refused an order to show his hands. The officer fired five times and killed Smith. One of the bullets entered at an angle consistent with Smith reaching for something in the car, which Stockley said he thought was a weapon.
Yet the prosecution said Stockley returned to his own car and retrieved a weapon, which he then planted in the car. The judge found that argument was not supported by evidence.
A quantity of heroin was also found in the car. The judge noted that in his 30 years on the bench, it would be an ''anomaly'' for an urban heroin dealer not to be in possession of a gun.
Ruling holds a glimmer of hope Judge Wilson struggled to find proof of guilt in the evidence. He wrote that he is bound by a code of conduct that says ''a judge shall not be swayed by partisan interests, public clamor or fear of criticism.''
The judge wrote: ''No one is promised a rose garden, and this is surely not one.'' It was like a mine field, yet the judge's fidelity to the rule of law holds hope '' even for those who disagree with the verdict.
''This court, in conscience, cannot say that the state has proven every element of murder beyond a reasonable doubt,'' he wrote, ''or that the state has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that defendant did not act in self-defense.''
That high standard for a guilty verdict in a murder case protects all suspects. It is a hallmark of a justice system that strives for equality.
The ruling may leave many feeling that a rogue cop got away with murder in this case, but requiring the prosecution to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt can be, in itself, evidence of a robust judicial system.
That's of small comfort to African-Americans and many others who perceive injustice in this case.
If the evidence was disturbing enough to make the presiding judge agonize, you can hardly blame African-Americans if they looked upon the same facts and saw a system rigged against them.
We want to hear from you! Send us a letter to the editor to respond to this editorial. Also be sure to sign up for our free, emailed opinion newsletter.
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Trump will sign resolution condemning white supremacists | TheHill
Mon, 18 Sep 2017 12:21
President Trump will sign a congressional resolution condemning white supremacists that Congress intended to use to urge him to speak out against hate groups, according to the White House on Wednesday.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump will ''absolutely'' approve the bipartisan measure, which the House passed Tuesday.
The resolution is the first formal response from Congress to the violence that broke out at a white supremacist rally last month in Charlottesville, Va.
While Trump was expected to sign the resolution, some questioned whether he would given that it singles out his administration.
The measure condemns ''the racist violence and domestic terrorist attack'' in Charlottesville, where a suspected white supremacist was accused of driving a car into a crowd of counterprotesters, killing one and injuring 19.It also rejects ''white nationalism, white supremacy, and neo-Nazism as hateful expressions of intolerance that are contradictory to the values that define the people of the United States.''
A group of four bipartisan senators introduced the resolution amid concern about Trump's equivocating response to the violence in Charlottesville, which he said occurred ''on many sides.''
Lawmakers urged Trump and his administration to speak out forcefully against white supremacist groups and ''use all resources available'' to improve data collection of hate crimes and ''address the growing prevalence of those hate groups in the United States.''
'-- Cristina Marcos contributed.
The 25th for 45
Mueller briefly did work for Flynn-tied firm - CNNPolitics
Mon, 18 Sep 2017 12:24
A spokesman for Mueller told CNN that Mueller did litigation work last year for the entity, called IronBridge, while Mueller was a partner at the WilmerHale law firm. He said the IronBridge work wasn't listed in Mueller's ethics disclosure form released last month by the Justice Department because it didn't meet the threshold for which disclosure is required. Mueller's filing listed multiple major legal clients including Facebook, Apple, Sony Pictures and the National Football League.
"The reporting requirement for public financial disclosure reports requires that you report any source that paid more than $5,000 for your personal services in any calendar year," said Peter Carr, a spokesman for the Special Counsel. "In June 2016 while at Wilmer Hale, Mr. Mueller spent less than half an hour on an IronBridge litigation matter that was handled by another partner. That amount did not meet the reporting requirement."
An attorney for Flynn declined to comment.
IronBridge was one of several consulting companies that were working on the proposed business deal, partnering with the Saudi government and Rosatom, Russia's government-run nuclear energy agency, to build nuclear energy plants in Saudi Arabia.
An attorney representing IronBridge CEO Michael Hewitt didn't immediately respond to a request seeking to clarify whether Mueller's work for IronBridge was connected to the Middle East energy project.
Democrats in Congress this week sent a letter to Mueller accusing Flynn of failing to disclose a trip he took to push the project, which they alleged would be a legal violation. Mueller has not responded and it is not clear whether the nuclear plants are part of the special counsel investigation.Hewitt's attorney sent a letter to Democratic lawmakers in July, saying "our clients are not aware of any monetary payments made by IronBridge Group, Inc. or IP3 Corporation to Lieutenant General Michael Flynn."
IronBridge was formed in June 2016, according to Hewitt's attorney, around the time that Mueller did the IronBridge litigation work.
It's not clear whether the legal work for IronBridge would constitute a conflict for Mueller's handling of the Flynn investigation.
The Justice Department has said it reviewed Mueller's past work at WilmerHale and didn't find any conflicts related to his appointment as special counsel. It's not clear whether the IronBridge work was part of that review.
Flynn, a retired Army lieutenant general, was fired weeks into the new administration after providing misleading information to Vice President Mike Pence and others in the White House about his communications with the former Russian ambassador in Washington. But Mueller's focus on Flynn largely centers on work he did for entities connected to the Turkish government and that he didn't disclose. He retroactively registered as a foreign agent for the Turkish work.
The Middle East plan that IronBridge was proposing involved the Saudis selling energy from the nuclear plants to eight other Sunni Arab countries, including Egypt and Jordan. As part of the deal, the countries would also buy military hardware from Russia.
The Treasury Department sanctioned the Russian state-run company in September 2015 for violating US laws prohibiting weapons sales to Iran, Syria and North Korea.
War on Chicken
About those Arabic Chicken Joints
I have heard you tell your Saudi Arabian chicken restaurant story multiple times on the show, I think the name of the chain is Al Tazaj.
I was visiting my wife’s family in Amman, Jordan over the summer and was surprised when I found out there was a chain in Amman. I told my wife about hearing you on the show talk about how good the chicken was and told her we needed to try it. She gave me a weird look and told me Al Tazaj is like the middle eastern version of KFC and refused to take me. It would be like telling a foreigner that KFC has the best chicken in the U.S.
She proceeded to make fun of me in front of her family and friends for the rest of the trip about how the stupid conspiracy theory podcast I listen to gives bad recommendations on fast food chicken restaurants. Although I did find out Al Tazaj is very popular in the “Gulf Countries” and in your defense my brother-in-law, who is from Oman, says the chicken is good. Unfortunately I did not get to try it for myself.
Keep up the good work.
Jay Codichini
EQ Machine
DRILL-Mexico Earthquake: More Than 200 Dead as Buildings Collapse - NBC News
Thu, 21 Sep 2017 15:08
Rescuers frantically searched through the rubble of collapsed schools, homes and apartment buildings early Wednesday after Mexico's deadliest earthquake since 1985 killed at least 217 people.
The quake struck at about 2:15 p.m. ET on Tuesday and had a magnitude of 7.1, the U.S. Geological Survey said. Its epicenter was in the state of Puebla, about 80 miles southeast of Mexico City.
It came less than two weeks after a magnitude-8.1 quake hit the country and killed nearly 100.
Mexico's National Civil Defense agency put the death toll at 248 early Wednesday, but later reduced the number to 217. The reasons for this discrepancy were not immediately clear.
Dozens of buildings tumbled into mounds of rubble or were severely damaged in densely populated parts of Mexico City. Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera said buildings fell at 44 places in the capital alone as high-rises across the city swayed sickeningly.
Damaged hospitals evacuated patients.
The federal Education Department reported late Tuesday night that 25 bodies had been recovered from the wreckage of a school in southern Mexico City, where a wing of the three-story building collapsed into a massive pancake of concrete floor slabs. It was not clear whether the deaths were included in the overall toll reported by the federal civil defense agency.
In the Mexico City neighborhood of Roma, rescue workers cheered after finding a woman alive under rubble, according to the AP. They then quieted down to listen for calls from other survivors.
Mexico's Secretariat of National Defense said 3,400 soldiers were deployed.
Robert W. Bouman was in Mexico City visiting family when the quake struck '-- the second he had experienced in Mexico in less than two weeks."It's an incredibly terrifying and scary experience," Bouman, 31, told NBC News. "This time, the quake was much more violent. We had trouble standing and walking. It was impossible to maintain your balance."
Videos on social media showed tables and light fixtures shaking in restaurants and street signs and traffic lights quivering outside.
Mancera, the mayor, said 50 to 60 people were rescued alive by emergency workers and others.
President Enrique Pe±a Nieto was on a flight to Oaxaca when the quake struck and said in a tweet that he was immediately returning to Mexico City to assess the situation.
He later issued a video message urging calm. "The priority at this moment is to keep rescuing people who are still trapped and to give medical attention to the injured people," Pe±a Nieto added.
NBC News
President Donald Trump, who has clashed with Pe±a Nieto over his repeated calls for a border wall between their countries, sent his support in a tweet.
"God bless the people of Mexico City. We are with you and will be there for you," he wrote.
Powerful Earthquake Shakes Mexico CityTexas Gov. Greg Abbott offered "the thoughts and prayers of Texans" to Mexico and said the state would "continue to offer any support to aid Mexico in their time of need."
A spokesman for Ant"nio Guterres, the secretary-general of the United Nations, said that he extended his condolences and that "the United Nations stands ready to assist."
Earthquake expert Lucy Jones, who spent 33 years at the USGS, told NBC News that the earthquake was "quite an unusual occasion" because of where it occurred.
First responders ask for silence as they search for survivors in Mexico City on Tuesday. Gustavo Martinez Contreras / AP
"It's a place that doesn't usually have earthquakes, but it can. It's sort of like having a magnitude-7 in Nevada '-- they aren't as common as in California, but they definitely have happened," Jones said.
Earlier on Tuesday, buildings across Mexico City held earthquake drills to mark the anniversary of the massive Sept. 19, 1985, earthquake that killed at least 9,500 people, the AP said.
Valerie Perez, 23, a student from Venezuela, ran from her fourth-floor apartment in Mexico City just in time to see the building in front of it collapse.
"A drill at 11 a.m. and an earthquake at 1 p.m.," she said. "This is the most powerful thing I have ever seen in my life."
Manafort offered to give Russian billionaire 'private briefings' on 2016 campaign - The Washington Post
Thu, 21 Sep 2017 01:16
Less than two weeks before Donald Trump accepted the Republican presidential nomination, his campaign chairman offered to provide briefings on the race to a Russian billionaire closely aligned with the Kremlin, according to people familiar with the discussions.
Paul Manafort made the offer in an email to an overseas intermediary, asking that a message be sent to Oleg Deripaska, an aluminum magnate with whom Manafort had done business in the past, these people said.
''If he needs private briefings we can accommodate,'' Manafort wrote in the July 7, 2016, email, portions of which were read to The Washington Post along with other Manafort correspondence from that time.
The emails are among tens of thousands of documents that have been turned over to congressional investigators and special counsel Robert S. Mueller III's team as they probe whether Trump associates coordinated with Russia as part of Moscow's efforts to interfere in the 2016 U.S. election.
There is no evidence in the documents showing that Deripaska received Manafort's offer or that any briefings took place. And a spokeswoman for Deripaska dismissed the email ex­changes as scheming by ''consultants in the notorious 'beltway bandit' industry.''
FBI agents raided the home of President Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort without warning on July 26 with a search warrant, and seized documents and other records, say people familiar with the special counsel investigation. (The Washington Post)
Nonetheless, investigators believe that the exchanges, which reflect Manafort's willingness to profit from his prominent role alongside Trump, created a potential opening for Russian interests at the highest level of a U.S. presidential campaign, according to people familiar with the probe. Those people, like others interviewed for this story, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss matters under investigation.
Several of the ex­changes, which took place between Manafort and a Kiev-based employee of his international political consulting practice, focused on money that Manafort believed he was owed by Eastern European clients.
The notes appear to be written in deliberately vague terms, with Manafort and his longtime employee, Konstantin Kilimnik, never explicitly mentioning Deripaska by name. But investigators believe that key passages refer to Deripaska, who is referenced in some places by his initials, ''OVD,'' according to people familiar with the emails. One email uses ''black caviar,'' a Russian delicacy, in what investigators believe is a veiled reference to payments Manafort hoped to receive from former clients.
In one April exchange days after Trump named Manafort as a campaign strategist, Manafort referred to his positive press and growing reputation and asked, ''How do we use to get whole?''
Manafort spokesman Jason Maloni said Wednesday that the email ex­changes reflected an ''innocuous'' effort to collect past debts.
''It's no secret Mr. Manafort was owed money by past clients,'' Maloni said.
Maloni said that no briefings with Deripaska ever took place but that, in his email, Manafort was offering what would have been a ''routine'' briefing on the state of the campaign.
As a lobbyist and political consultant in the 1980s, Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort worked with international clients that included two dictators who were then allied with the United States. (Bastien Inzaurralde/The Washington Post)
Vera Kurochkina, a spokeswoman for Rusal, the company led by Deripaska, on Wednesday derided inquiries from The Post that she said ''veer into manufactured questions so grossly false and insinuating that I am concerned even responding to these fake connotations provides them the patina of reality.''
Collectively, the thousands of emails present a complex picture. For example, an email exchange from May shows Manafort rejecting a proposal from an unpaid campaign adviser that Trump travel abroad to meet with top Russian leaders. ''We need someone to communicate that DT is not doing these trips,'' Manafort wrote, according to an email read to The Post.
The email exchanges with Kilimnik add to an already perilous legal situation for Manafort, whose real estate dealings and overseas bank accounts are of intense interest for Mueller and congressional investigators as part of their examination of Russia's 2016 efforts. People close to Manafort believe Mueller's goal is to force the former campaign chairman to flip on his former Trump associates and provide information.
In August, Mueller's office executed a search warrant during an early-morning raid of Manafort's Alexandria, Va., condominium, an unusually aggressive step in a white-collar criminal matter.
Mueller has also summoned Maloni, the Manafort spokesman, and Manafort's former lawyer to answer questions in front of a grand jury. Last month, Mueller's team told Manafort and his attorneys that they believed they could pursue criminal charges against him and urged him to cooperate in the probe by providing information about other members of the campaign. The New York Times reported this week that prosecutors had threatened Manafort with indictment.
The emails now under review by investigators and described to The Post could provide prosecutors with additional leverage.
Kilimnik did not respond to requests for comment. A spokesman for Mueller declined to comment.
Deripaska, one of Russia's richest men, is widely seen as an important ally of President Vladi­mir Putin. A U.S. diplomatic cable from 2006, published by WikiLeaks, referred to Deripaska as ''among the 2-3 oligarchs Putin turns to on a regular basis.''
The billionaire has struggled to get visas to travel to the United States because of concerns he might have ties to organized crime in Russia, according to the Wall Street Journal. He has vigorously denied any criminal ties.
Russian officials have frequently raised the visa matter over the years with U.S. diplomats, according to former U.S. officials familiar with the appeals.
In 2008, one of Manafort's business partners, Rick Davis, arranged for Deripaska to meet then-presidential candidate John McCain at an international economic conference in Switzerland.
At the time, Davis was on leave from Manafort's firm and was serving as McCain's campaign manager. The meeting caused a stir, given McCain's longtime criticism of Putin's leadership.
The Post reported in 2008 that Deripaska jointly emailed Davis and Manafort after the meeting to thank them for setting it up. Davis did not respond Wednesday to a request for comment.
At the time of the McCain meeting, Manafort was working in Ukraine, advising a Russia-friendly political party. He ultimately helped to elect Viktor Yanukovych as president in 2010. In 2014, Yanukovych was ousted from office during street protests and fled to Moscow.
Manafort and Deripaska have both confirmed that they had a business relationship in which Manafort was paid as an investment consultant. In 2014, Deripaska accused Manafort in a Cayman Islands court of taking nearly $19 million intended for investments and then failing to account for the funds, return them or respond to numerous inquiries about exactly how the money was used. There are no signs in court documents that the case has been closed.
The emails under review by investigators also show that Manafort waved off questions within the campaign about his international dealings, according to people familiar with the correspondence.
Manafort wrote in an April 2016 email to Trump press aide Hope Hicks that she should disregard a list of questions from The Post about his relationships with Deripaska and a Ukrainian businessman, according to people familiar with the email.
When another news organization asked questions in June, Manafort wrote Hicks that he never had any ties to the Russian government, according to people familiar with the email.
Hicks, now the White House communications director, declined to comment.
Former campaign officials said that Manafort frequently told his campaign colleagues that assertions made about him by the press were specious. They also privately shared concerns about whether Manafort was always putting the candidate's interests first.
The emails turned over to investigators show that Manafort remained in regular contact with Kilimnik, his longtime employee in Kiev, throughout his five-month tenure at the Trump campaign.
Kilimnik, a Soviet army veteran, had worked for Manafort in his Kiev political consulting operation since 2005. Kilimnik began as an office manager and translator and attained a larger role with Manafort, working as a liaison to Deripaska and others, people familiar with his work have said.
People close to Manafort told The Post that he and Kilimnik used coded language as a precaution because they were transmitting sensitive information internationally.
In late July, eight days after Trump delivered his GOP nomination acceptance speech in Cleveland, Kilimnik wrote Manafort with an update, according to people familiar with the email exchange.
Kilimnik wrote in the July 29 email that he had met that day with the person ''who gave you the biggest black caviar jar several years ago,'' according to the people familiar with the exchange. Kilimnik said it would take some time to discuss the ''long caviar story,'' and the two agreed to meet in New York.
Investigators believe that the reference to the pricey Russian luxury item may have been a reference to Manafort's past lucrative relationship with Deripaska, according to people familiar with the probe. Others familiar with the exchange say it may be a reference to Ukrainian business titans with whom Manafort had done business.
Kilimnik and Manafort have previously confirmed that they were in contact during the campaign, including meeting twice in person '-- once in May 2016, as Manafort's role in Trump's campaign was expanding, and again in August, about two weeks before Manafort resigned amid questions about his work in Ukraine.
The August meeting is the one the two men arranged during the emails now under examination by investigators.
That encounter took place at the Grand Havana Club, an upscale cigar bar in Manhattan. Kilimnik has said the two discussed ''unpaid bills'' and ''current news.'' But he said the sessions were ''private visits'' that were ''in no way related to politics or the presidential campaign in the U.S.''
Advisory Board | Committee to Investigate Russia
Thu, 21 Sep 2017 15:14
Max Boot Military Historian and Foreign Policy Analyst
James Clapper Former Director of National Intelligence
Norman Ornstein American Enterprise Institute Resident Scholar
Rob Reiner Director, Actor, and Activist
Charles Sykes Conservative Commentator
Fellow Americans,
On January 6, 2017, America's intelligence agencies shared a declassified report concluding Russia had attacked our nation with the express goal of disrupting the presidential election and ultimately weakening our democracy. To this day, that destabilizing effort continues.
Historically, when the United States has come under attack, Americans of all stripes have united in our country's defense. Today, however, too many Americans and too many of our elected officials are ignoring or not understanding Russia's attacks against our country.
If we are to preserve the democracy our founding fathers envisioned and for which so many Americans fought and died, we must be vigilant and we must act. That requires information about and comprehension of the threats we face.
To that end, we pledge our support as Advisory Board members of the Committee to Investigate Russia, a non-partisan, non-profit effort designed to help Americans understand and recognize the scope and scale of Russia's continuing attacks on our democracy.
Germany: AfD Accuses Google of Sabotaging Campaign - SPIEGEL ONLINE
Tue, 19 Sep 2017 21:33
September 19, 2017 05:59 PM With less than a week to go before the German federal election, things are heating up on the campaign trail. For the right-wing populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, social media has become critical: By placing ads on Facebook, Twitter, Google and YouTube, the party is able to reach its supporters directly, enabling it to bypass a critical news media. The troubles already started with the signs by campaign manager Thor Kunkel with slogans like: "Burqas? We prefer bikinis."
As part of its digital campaign strategy, AfD has even brought on American consultants with the Harris Media advertising agency. The Texas consulting firm specializes in customers with "controversial" messages who range from Donald Trump and the gun lobby to France's far-right Front National. Their task is to adapt Kunkel's print campaign for the digital world. Two Harris employees have also embedded themselves in the digital "war room" inside the AfD's national headquarters in Berlin.
But it appears that the American pros are running into hurdles -- with one of the most important advertising platforms around. Officials with AfD have complained that Google is blocking large parts of its advertising campaign. "We aren't having difficulties with any other platform," said campaign manager Kunkel. He said that Facebook and Twitter are treating AfD like a normal customer. "But Google is sabotaging us, creating a disadvantage for us relative to our political competition."
Dividing the Pie Between Google, Facebook and Twitter
The dispute shines a spotlight on the role the U.S. Internet giants are playing in the current German election. For the first time, the criteria used by major American internet platforms to decide on what paid political content can be disseminated to their users -- and what cannot -- is playing a central role in a German election.
imago/ M¼ller-Stauffenberg
An AfD sign: "Burqas? We prefer bikinis."
Political advertising is a lucrative industry and in addition to the free services they have on offer, they have also been trying to market their paid advertising formats to the parties in recent months. With some success: This is the first German national election campaign in which online political marketing has played such a large role.
Practically all the political parties in Germany are paying to place ads with Google and other platforms. AfD campaign manager Kunkel said his party had been splitting its digital budget in equal parts between Google, Facebook and Twitter -- at least until the problems began with the search-engine giant. To advertise an anti-Angela Merkel website alone, the party had planned to spend a sum in the mid-five-figure euro range, Kunkel said.
An Anti-Merkel Website
The website in question, developed by Harris Media in accordance with Kunkel's guidelines, is at the heart of the AfD's digital strategy. The only indication that the site belongs to the AfD is buried on the imprint page, and the site's message is as ugly as it is tough -- and it is dedicated entirely to incumbent Chancellor Merkel, the AfD's favorite nemesis.
The site villifies Merkel as a "perjurer" and essentially as an accomplice to murder. The AfD strategists have created a montage and a spooky flickering black and white portrait of Merkel with the square around Berlin's Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church in the background, where an Islamic State-linked terrorist killed 12 people with a semi-truck in December 2016 and injured many more.
The right-wing party now wants to massively promote the website, which it launched on Sept. 11, on social media. But both Google and its subsidiary YouTube have objected to the site. A lengthy email exchange between Harris Media and Google's AdWords Team, which has been obtained by DER SPIEGEL, indicates that the dispute has been swelling for weeks.
AdWords' procedures enable companies or political parties to participate in an auction to place ads on certain search terms. As soon as their target group uses those search terms, the winning bidder's ads are then displayed for those users prominently in the form of either links or banner ads. These paid results in the results list are small and labeled with the term "ad."
Shifting Justifications
The Harris Media documents indicate that the AfD has large sums of money at its disposal in order to place its anti-Merkel content on Google advertising channels as prominently as possible during the last stretch of the campaign. The plans include purchasing search terms, placing ad banners and running YouTube campaign spots. It also bought the rights to search terms on Google including "Angela Merkel" and "Kanzlerin Merkel," using the German word for "chancellor."
But for the last week -- an eternity as the election enters into the homestretch -- the right-wing populists have failed to drive the desired traffic to the anti-Merkel site. Instead, Google has sent a series of emails with "problem reports" or subject lines like "ad rejected." The party claims that the reasons provided constantly change, as do the contacts sending the messages, which are coming from higher and higher ranks in the company.
Most recently, the ad sales team wrote that the anti-Merkel site wasn't working correctly, a claim that employees at Harris Media were quickly able to disprove. Then they were told that statements made in the ad and on the website were inappropriate because they could "hoax the customer."
Finally, a further mail sent several days later stated that the text ad would now be unblocked for Google search results, but that the video ad and banner ad were still under review because they were believed to contain "dangerous and degrading" content that violate company police.
'Inadmissible Interference'?
The AfD website is indeed quite degrading to Merkel, but in the past Harris Media has always been able to iron out similar problems its customers are having with placements on the Internet advertising platforms. The marketing company has a reputation for the aggressive messages and methods it uses on social media.
In the United States, the company has always been able to rectify similar situations within 24 hours, Kunkel said. He said the experienced Harris employees who were sent to Germany had already spent millions on advertising with Google and had "never before experienced" a dispute lasting more than a week, like the one between the AfD and the internet giant.
The AfD campaign chief believes that Google is conducting "inadmissible interference in the formation of political opinions here in Germany." He also said that Google did not agree to a meeting with the AfD in the run-up to the campaign, even though Facebook sent high-level representatives to meet with the party.
Contacted on Monday night, Google confirmed that the text ads have since been approved but that the video spot still hadn't been authorized. At the time this story posted online, the anti-Merkel site was indeed provided as the first paid search result for users who typed in the chancellor's name on Google in Germany.
Google says that its fundamental policy is that "any party certified in Germany can place ads on Google within the scope of our advertising regulations." But those regulations further state that all political ads placed on Google and destinations they link to must comply with the local campaign and election laws for any area the ads target.
AfD Plans Google Boycott
Party officials at the AfD assume they are the subject of a politically motivated boycott and intend to respond with one of their own. The party is now planning on taking the money it had earmarked for ads on Google and instead spend it with Facebook. The AfD also plans to follow up its anti-Merkel campaign with online ads aimed at mobilizing voters in the final days of the election.
Campaign manager Kunkel is planning to expand the party's "Germans, Dare To Do It" campaign in the form of an online map of Germany upon which AfD supporters can drop pins. "It will show our potential voters that they are in no way alone in their immediate surroundings," Kunkel said.
Ultimately, the beneficiary of the dispute between the AfD and Google might be Facebook -- the same company that generated negative headlines in recent weeks for allowing ads to be placed for users interested in terms like "Jew haters." Just a few days before that, the company had been forced to admit that a company with ties to the Kremlin had succeeded in placing Facebook ads totaling around $100,000 during the U.S. election focusing on divisive domestic policy issues.
In response to a question about the company's meeting with AfD officials and its handling of the party's controversial ads, a spokesperson for Facebook said, "Facebook is a politically neutral platform and is available as a contact for all parties that are campaigning in Germany."
Editor's Note:After we posted this article online, Google also provided the following additional statement:
"There is absolutely no basis to the accusation of a political bias. All political parties that are certified in Germany can place ads on Google as long as they adhere to our regulations. We are rigorous in the application of these guidelines. All ads undergo an automated review process. The review of borderline cases can take longer."
Three boats for additional police arrive in Catalonia
Thu, 21 Sep 2017 15:05
Three cruise-size boats have docked in Barcelona and Tarragona, commissioned by the Spanish government, there to accommodate more police reinforcements.
The three ships arrived this morning. The first, located at the Lepant Dock in Barcelona, is called Rhapsody with capacity of more than 2,000 people. The second, called GNV Azzurro, is currently in the Tarragona Andalusia Dock, has space for 800 people. The third, which arrived last and is now stationed at the Barcelona Prince of Spain Dock, is Italian like the two other vessels and is named Moby Dada. The latter has capacity for 1,000 passengers.
Mobilization of troops to increase
The Spanish police have reinforced the number of officers to be stationed in Catalonia leading up to the referendum. Already last week, the law enforcement entity foresaw that the mobilization of troops would go 'in crescendo.' The officers are anticipated to come mostly from investigation units. Beyond the stated purpose of housing additional police forces to be stationed in Barcelona, no further details have been provided about what is planned for the boats.
All boats have clearance to stay at the port until October 5.
Obligated authorization
The Moby Dada originally requested access to the Port of Palam"s this morning but was subsequently denied. However, Port of Barcelona sources have stated that, because the ships are considered Spanish government vessels, the port is obligated to give them authorization. While the Port Authorities sometimes receive unjustified orders from Madrid such as this, a cruiser-sized ship '' with scarce details '' is still an uncommon occurrence.
Spanish police raid Catalan government to halt banned referendum
Thu, 21 Sep 2017 14:52
MADRID/BARCELONA (Reuters) - Spanish police raided Catalan government offices and arrested officials on Wednesday to halt a banned referendum on independence, an action the regional president said meant Madrid had effectively taken over his administration.
Tens of thousands of protesters gathered outside the regional government offices in the center of Barcelona's tourist district as well as in several Catalan cities, waving the red-and-yellow Catalan flag and chanting ''Occupying forces out'' and ''Where is Europe?''.
''The Spanish state has by all rights intervened in Catalonia's government and has established emergency rule,'' Catalan President Carles Puigdemont said in a televised address.
''We condemn and reject the anti-democratic and totalitarian actions of the Spanish state,'' he said, adding Catalans should turn out in force to vote in the Oct. 1 referendum on a split from Spain that Madrid has declared illegal.
State police arrested Catalonia's junior economy minister Josep Maria Jove on Wednesday in their first raid of government offices in the region, Catalan government sources said. The raid targeted several regional government departments.
A dozen high-ranking local officials were arrested, La Vanguardia newspaper said. Police confirmed they were carrying out raids connected with the banned referendum, but did not give details. The Catalan government sources could not confirm the other arrests.
In several Barcelona districts, people banged on balconies railings and dumpsters while passing cars hooted noisily.
Among the protesters outside the government office in Barcelona, was Carlos, a 47-year-old taxi driver.
''We're here so they know they can't do whatever they want,'' he said, as protesters bore banners reading ''Democracy'' and ''Vote to be free''.
The FC Barcelona soccer club said in a statement: ''FC Barcelona, in remaining faithful to its historic commitment to the defense of the nation, to democracy, to freedom of speech, and to self-determination, condemns any act that may impede the free exercise of these rights.''
Police efforts to stop the referendum have intensified in recent days as the wealthy northeastern region shows no signs of halting it.
Acting under court orders, police have raided printers, newspaper offices and private delivery companies in a search for campaign literature, instruction manuals for manning voting stations and ballot boxes.
Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy leaves the stage after making a statement at the Moncloa Palace in Madrid, Spain, September 20, 2017. REUTERS/Sergio Perez The Civil Guard, a national police force, on Wednesday seized 10 million ballot papers, polling station displays as well as documents and forms to run the vote, including a list of voters under the headline ''2017 Catalonia self-determination referendum''.
(For a graphic on Catalonia secession click
STOCK MARKET FALLSIt had on Tuesday seized more than 45,000 envelopes packed in cardboard boxes that the Catalan government was ready to send to notify people about the referendum, while the first of hundreds of Catalan mayors appeared before the state prosecutor after they said they would back the referendum.
Spain's finance ministry has taken over the region's finances to prevent the use of public money to organize the vote.
But the central government must tread a fine line in enforcing the law in the region without seeming heavy-handed. Polls show a minority of Catalans, albeit more than 40 percent, support independence although a majority want a referendum on the issue.
Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said on Wednesday the operations in Catalonia were the result of legal rulings and were to ensure the rule of law.
He later called on Catalan leaders to cancel the vote.
''Don't go ahead, you don't have any legitimacy to do it. Go back to the law and democracy (...) This referendum is a chimera,'' he said in a televised speech. Any action that broke the law would be met with a proportionate response, he added.
The Constitutional Court has suspended the vote after the central government challenged its legality. Spain's central government says the referendum goes against the 1978 constitution which states Spain is indivisible.
Under Article 155 of the constitution, Madrid has the power to suspend the regional government's authority to rule. It has yet to exercise this option as it seeks to block the vote through the courts.
Although markets have so far shrugged off the increasing tension, Spain's top stock index underperformed regional European stock peers on Wednesday.
The IBEX fell more than 1 percent by late afternoon trading with financials the biggest drags. Euro zone stocks were off about 0.2 percent.
Additional reporting by Paul Day and Michael Cartine in London; Writing by Sonya Dowsett; Editing by Julien Toyer, Janet Lawrence and Andrew Heavens
Agenda 2030
Canada now investigates 'climate denial' | GOLDSTEIN | Columnists | Opinion | To
Mon, 18 Sep 2017 12:16
It's like something out of George Orwell's 1984.
Canada's Competition Bureau, an arm's length agency funded by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government to the tune of almost $50 million annually, investigated three organizations accused of denying mainstream climate science for over a year, following a complaint from an environmental group.
The bureau discontinued its 14-month probe in June, citing ''available evidence, the assessment of the facts in this case, and to ensure the effective allocation of limited resources'', according to Josephine A.L. Palumbo, Deputy Commissioner of Competition, Deceptive Marketing Practices Directorate.
But it will re-open its investigation should it receive relevant new information from the public.
The complaint was filed by Ecojustice on behalf of six ''prominent'' Canadians, including former Ontario NDP leader and UN ambassador Stephen Lewis.
It accused three groups, Friends of Science, the International Climate Science Coalition, and the Heartland Institute of making false and misleading claims about climate change, including that the sun is the main driver of climate change, not carbon dioxide, and that carbon dioxide is not a pollutant.
When it launched its complaint in December, 2015, Ecojustice told the National Observer it would press the Commissioner of Competition to refer the matter to the Attorney-General of Canada for ''criminal charges against the denier groups''.
In response to the Competition Bureau discontinuing its probe, Calgary-based Friends of Science said on its blog that: ''The Competition Bureau is a very important enforcement agency. We regret that any of their time had to be wasted on this matter. We are not a commercial entity, we do not have federal lobbyists, we are not tax-subsidized as environmental charities are, we do not represent any industry. We only present the professional insights and expertise of our core team and represent the views of our individual members (not corporations). The typical process for Competition Bureau inquiries is confidential; Ecojustice appeared to use this call for inquiry to grandstand.''
In May, 2015, Advertising Standards Canada, a voluntary industry group that does not enforce its decisions other than through public suasion ruled, following 96 public complaints, that two Friends of Science billboards in Montreal stating: ''The Sun is the Main Driver of Climate Change. Not You. Not CO2'' contained, ''categorical and unequivocal claims ... (that) could not be supported by the preponderance of current evidence on the matters in dispute ... (and) omitted relevant information, namely that a number of factors have led to climate change, of which the sun is just one.''
As someone who has written extensively on climate change for a decade, my view is that all of this is madness. We are entering into dangerous territory, a fundamental attack on free speech.
If we're going to use agencies of the federal government to investigate and even prosecute ''climate deniers'', for making ''false and misleading claims'' then let's damn well do the same for ''climate alarmists'', who do the same thing all the time.
I read and hear politicians making ''false and misleading claims'' about climate change almost daily, particularly with regard to what federal and provincial carbon pricing schemes will actually accomplish, as opposed to what our governments are claiming they will accomplish.
But the way to decide these issues is through public debate, not running to an agency of the federal government to shut up people we disagree with, particularly a government that itself makes false and misleading claims about man-made climate change all the time.
Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation Awards $20 Million in Eco-Grants
Wed, 20 Sep 2017 19:37
From lion recovery and mangrove restoration to the defense of indigenous rights and better access to affordable solar energy, the actor announced the grants ahead of his appearance at a climate change conference at Yale University. He planned to use the appearance to urge more immediate steps to reduce the world's reliance on fossil fuels in favor of renewable energy sources.
''Our challenge is to find new ways to power our lives, employ millions of people and turn every individual into an advocate for clean air and drinkable water,'' DiCaprio said in a statement. ''We must demand that politicians accept climate science and make bold commitments before it is too late.''
The money increases the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation's giving to $80 million since 1998, the organization said in a statement.
Among nearly $3.6 million in new climate grants, for instance, is support of community organizations in the United States fighting for 100 percent renewable energy, money for mitigating climate change through mangrove re-planting in Somalia and a project that backs legal action holding major corporations in the fossil fuel industry liable for the effects of pollution.
The foundation also granted about $6.4 million for wildlife and land conservation projects. That work includes lion and elephant restoration and protection, conservation research in the Brazilian Amazon and a partnership with the local Maasai community in Kenya to conserve critical wildlife and wilderness there.
California Waterkeepers, a group that helps protect the state's coastal waters, and Ocean 5, which establishes marine reserves and combats illegal fishing in all five oceans around the globe, are among other recipients.
[USC07] 47 USC 230: Protection for private blocking and screening of offensive material
Tue, 19 Sep 2017 19:54
§230. Protection for private blocking and screening of offensive material(a) FindingsThe Congress finds the following:
(1) The rapidly developing array of Internet and other interactive computer services available to individual Americans represent an extraordinary advance in the availability of educational and informational resources to our citizens.
(2) These services offer users a great degree of control over the information that they receive, as well as the potential for even greater control in the future as technology develops.
(3) The Internet and other interactive computer services offer a forum for a true diversity of political discourse, unique opportunities for cultural development, and myriad avenues for intellectual activity.
(4) The Internet and other interactive computer services have flourished, to the benefit of all Americans, with a minimum of government regulation.
(5) Increasingly Americans are relying on interactive media for a variety of political, educational, cultural, and entertainment services.
(b) PolicyIt is the policy of the United States-
(1) to promote the continued development of the Internet and other interactive computer services and other interactive media;
(2) to preserve the vibrant and competitive free market that presently exists for the Internet and other interactive computer services, unfettered by Federal or State regulation;
(3) to encourage the development of technologies which maximize user control over what information is received by individuals, families, and schools who use the Internet and other interactive computer services;
(4) to remove disincentives for the development and utilization of blocking and filtering technologies that empower parents to restrict their children's access to objectionable or inappropriate online material; and
(5) to ensure vigorous enforcement of Federal criminal laws to deter and punish trafficking in obscenity, stalking, and harassment by means of computer.
(c) Protection for "Good Samaritan" blocking and screening of offensive material(1) Treatment of publisher or speakerNo provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.
(2) Civil liabilityNo provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be held liable on account of-
(A) any action voluntarily taken in good faith to restrict access to or availability of material that the provider or user considers to be obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable, whether or not such material is constitutionally protected; or
(B) any action taken to enable or make available to information content providers or others the technical means to restrict access to material described in paragraph (1).1
(d) Obligations of interactive computer serviceA provider of interactive computer service shall, at the time of entering an agreement with a customer for the provision of interactive computer service and in a manner deemed appropriate by the provider, notify such customer that parental control protections (such as computer hardware, software, or filtering services) are commercially available that may assist the customer in limiting access to material that is harmful to minors. Such notice shall identify, or provide the customer with access to information identifying, current providers of such protections.
(e) Effect on other laws(1) No effect on criminal lawNothing in this section shall be construed to impair the enforcement of section 223 or 231 of this title , chapter 71 (relating to obscenity) or 110 (relating to sexual exploitation of children) of title 18, or any other Federal criminal statute.
(2) No effect on intellectual property lawNothing in this section shall be construed to limit or expand any law pertaining to intellectual property.
(3) State lawNothing in this section shall be construed to prevent any State from enforcing any State law that is consistent with this section. No cause of action may be brought and no liability may be imposed under any State or local law that is inconsistent with this section.
(4) No effect on communications privacy lawNothing in this section shall be construed to limit the application of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 or any of the amendments made by such Act, or any similar State law.
(f) DefinitionsAs used in this section:
(1) InternetThe term "Internet" means the international computer network of both Federal and non-Federal interoperable packet switched data networks.
(2) Interactive computer serviceThe term "interactive computer service" means any information service, system, or access software provider that provides or enables computer access by multiple users to a computer server, including specifically a service or system that provides access to the Internet and such systems operated or services offered by libraries or educational institutions.
(3) Information content providerThe term "information content provider" means any person or entity that is responsible, in whole or in part, for the creation or development of information provided through the Internet or any other interactive computer service.
(4) Access software providerThe term "access software provider" means a provider of software (including client or server software), or enabling tools that do any one or more of the following:
(A) filter, screen, allow, or disallow content;
(B) pick, choose, analyze, or digest content; or
(C) transmit, receive, display, forward, cache, search, subset, organize, reorganize, or translate content.
(June 19, 1934, ch. 652, title II, §230, as added Pub. L. 104''104, title V, §509, Feb. 8, 1996, 110 Stat. 137 ; amended Pub. L. 105''277, div. C, title XIV, §1404(a), Oct. 21, 1998, 112 Stat. 2681''739 .)
References in TextThe Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986, referred to in subsec. (e)(4), is Pub. L. 99''508, Oct. 21, 1986, 100 Stat. 1848 , as amended. For complete classification of this Act to the Code, see Short Title of 1986 Amendment note set out under section 2510 of Title 18 , Crimes and Criminal Procedure, and Tables.
CodificationSection 509 of Pub. L. 104''104, which directed amendment of title II of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 201 et seq. ) by adding section 230 at end, was executed by adding the section at end of part I of title II of the Act to reflect the probable intent of Congress and amendments by sections 101(a), (b), and 151(a) of Pub. L. 104''104 designating §§201 to 229 as part I and adding parts II (§251 et seq.) and III (§271 et seq.) to title II of the Act.
Amendments1998-Subsec. (d). Pub. L. 105''277, §1404(a)(3), added subsec. (d). Former subsec. (d) redesignated (e).
Subsec. (d)(1). Pub. L. 105''277, §1404(a)(1), inserted "or 231" after "section 223".
Subsecs. (e), (f). Pub. L. 105''277, §1404(a)(2), redesignated subsecs. (d) and (e) as (e) and (f), respectively.
Effective Date of 1998 AmendmentAmendment by Pub. L. 105''277 effective 30 days after Oct. 21, 1998, see section 1406 of Pub. L. 105''277, set out as a note under section 223 of this title .
SESTA-Text - S.1693 - 115th Congress (2017-2018): Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act of 2017 | | Library of Congress
Tue, 19 Sep 2017 19:03
S. 1693
To amend the Communications Act of 1934 to clarify that section 230 of that Act does not prohibit the enforcement against providers and users of interactive computer services of Federal and State criminal and civil law relating to sex trafficking.
Mr. Portman (for himself, Mr. Blumenthal , Mr. McCain , Mrs. McCaskill , Mr. Cornyn , Ms. Heitkamp , Mr. Blunt , Mrs. Capito , Mr. Casey , Ms. Collins , Mr. Corker , Mr. Cruz , Mr. Flake , Mr. Graham , Mr. Isakson , Ms. Klobuchar , Mr. Lankford , Mr. Lee , Mr. Nelson , Mr. Rubio , Mr. Brown , Ms. Murkowski , Mrs. Shaheen , Mr. Hoeven , and Mr. Cochran ) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation
To amend the Communications Act of 1934 to clarify that section 230 of that Act does not prohibit the enforcement against providers and users of interactive computer services of Federal and State criminal and civil law relating to sex trafficking.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,SECTION 1. Short title .
This Act may be cited as the ''Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act of 2017''.
SEC. 2. Findings .
Congress finds the following:
(1) Section 230 of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 230) (as added by title V of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 (Public Law 104''104; 110 Stat. 133) (commonly known as the ''Communications Decency Act of 1996'')) was never intended to provide legal protection to websites that facilitate traffickers in advertising the sale of unlawful sex acts with sex trafficking victims.
(2) Clarification of section 230 of the Communications Act of 1934 is warranted to ensure that that section does not provide such protection to such websites.
SEC. 3. Ensuring ability to enforce Federal and State criminal and civil law relating to sex trafficking .
(a) In general .'--Section 230 of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 230) is amended'--
(1) in subsection (b)'--
(A) in paragraph (4), by striking ''and'' at the end;
(B) in paragraph (5), by striking the period at the end and inserting ''; and''; and
(C) by adding at the end the following:
''(6) to ensure vigorous enforcement of Federal criminal and civil law relating to sex trafficking.''; and
(2) in subsection (e)'--
(A) in paragraph (1)'--
(i) by inserting ''section 1591 (relating to sex trafficking) of that title,'' after ''title 18, United States Code,'';
(ii) by striking ''impair the enforcement'' and inserting the following: ''impair'--
''(A) the enforcement''; and
(iii) by striking ''statute.'' and inserting the following: ''statute; or
''(B) any State criminal prosecution or civil enforcement action targeting conduct that violates a Federal criminal law prohibiting'--
''(i) sex trafficking of children; or
''(ii) sex trafficking by force, threats of force, fraud, or coercion.''; and
(B) by adding at the end the following:
''(5) N O EFFECT ON CIVIL LAW RELATING TO SEX TRAFFICKING .'--Nothing in this section shall be construed to impair the enforcement or limit the application of section 1595 of title 18, United States Code.''.
(b) Effective date .'--The amendments made by this section shall take effect on the date of enactment of this Act, and the amendment made by subsection (a)(2)(B) shall apply regardless of whether the conduct alleged occurred, or is alleged to have occurred, before, on, or after such date of enactment.
SEC. 4. Ensuring Federal liability for publishing information designed to facilitate sex trafficking or otherwise facilitating sex trafficking .
Section 1591(e) of title 18, United States Code, is amended'--
(1) by redesignating paragraphs (4) and (5) as paragraphs (5) and (6), respectively; and
(2) by inserting after paragraph (3) the following:
''(4) The term 'participation in a venture' means knowing conduct by an individual or entity, by any means, that assists, supports, or facilitates a violation of subsection (a)(1).''.
Fluoride in my Cup
Fluoride exposure in utero linked to lower IQ in kids, study says - CNN
Tue, 19 Sep 2017 22:14
The study, published Tuesday in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, evaluated nearly 300 sets of mothers and children in Mexico and tested the children twice for cognitive development over the course of 12 years. Fluoride is not added to public water supplies in Mexico, but people are exposed through naturally occurring fluoride in water and fluoridated salt and supplements.The study found a drop in scores on intelligence tests for every 0.5 milligram-per-liter increase in fluoride exposure beyond 0.8 milligrams per liter found in urine. However, although the researchers found a potential connection to a child's exposure to fluoride in utero, they found no significant influence from fluoride exposure on brain development once a child was born.
"Childhood exposure to fluoride is safer than prenatal. There is pretty good science now to support the fact that the fetal system tends to be more sensitive to environmental toxicants than once the child is born," said the study's lead author, Howard Hu, founding dean of the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto.The authors measured fluoride exposure for the Mexican mothers and their children by looking at the chemical content in their urine. "Since we're using an integrated biological marker, it will give you a fairly standardized measure," Hu explained. Previous studies measured fluoride exposure by analyzing it in the environment, such as in water.
On average, the researchers found that the mothers had 0.90 milligrams per liter of fluoride in their urine. Currently, there have been no such measurements for pregnant American women. There are similar measurements from a study in Poland that found healthy pregnant women to have fluoride levels just less than what was found in the Mexican women.
"The levels in this population that were measured in urine were high, but not crazy high," said Linda Birnbaum, director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. Birnbaum was not involved in the study.Most Americans get fluoride from public water
About 75% of Americans are exposed to fluoride through public water, the main route of exposure aside from toothpaste and mouth rinses. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has called water fluoridation one of the 10 greatest public health achievements of the past century. Since fluoride was introduced into community water over 70 years ago, the CDC says, there has been a 25% reduction in cavities in children and adults.Fluoride is commonly added to drinking water in the United States in order to improve dental health, though a number of communities including Portland, Oregon, and Tuscon, Arizona, have rejected water fluoridation.
What the new research means for pregnant women in the United States is up in the air. Hu cautioned that this was just one study. "It needs to be reproduced in other populations by other scientists," he said.Because the study evaluated samples that had been collected for other studies, researchers weren't able to determine specific levels of fluoride exposure.
"That's a big unknown. We don't have the whole picture," said Dr. Angeles Martinez-Mier of the Indiana University School of Dentistry, another researcher involved with the study.However, despite these limitations, this is one of the most rigorous studies to look at fluoride and neurodevelopment, Hu said. It is the largest and longest study to evaluate fluoride exposure and its impact on the developing brain.
Fluoride as a neurotoxin
Birnbaum agreed that some caution should be taken when evaluating the significance of this study. But she also pointed out that it raised significant questions.
"There have been similar findings related to exposure to fluoride and IQ from children in China. So this observation or association has been reported before," said Birnbaum.
Previous studies have found fluoride to be a potential neurotoxin at extremely high levels. Many of these studies have been conducted in China, where fluoride levels in water can be as high as 30 milligrams per liter.The US Public Health Service recommends an optimal level of fluoride concentration of 0.7 milligrams per liter. The Environmental Protection Agency has set a limit of 4 milligrams per liter.Chronic excessive intake of fluoride can lead to discoloration of teeth and skeletal fluorosis, a condition that results in extreme joint and skeletal pain.Many of the Chinese studies were unable to control for other potential neurotoxins such as lead or mercury. The new Mexican study controlled for those two neurotoxins, along with socioeconomic status and education.
'A single piece in a very large puzzle'
"This new study is a welcome addition to the overall body of scientific literature pertaining to fluoride," said Matt Jacob of the nonprofit Children's Dental Health Project. "Every new study is like a single piece in a very large puzzle. It is helpful, but the degree to which it is helpful depends on several elements, including the study's design and how well it controlled for other factors."The American Dental Association said the study's findings "are not applicable to the U.S. The ADA continues to endorse fluoridation of public water as the most effective public health measure to prevent tooth decay."
Both Jacob and the ADA pointed out a study done in New Zealand, a country that has community water fluoridation similar to the United States, found no connection between fluoridated water and IQ. However, the New Zealand study did not look at levels of fluoride in utero.And while Birnbaum agreed that the study provided no concrete answers, she said it "is raising the issue and that we should pay attention to this."
See the latest news and share your comments with CNN Health on Facebook and Twitter.
Scientists agree that extreme fluoride levels, like those sometimes found in China, can have neurodevelopmental risks. But as the study also points out, fluoridation also "substantially reduces the prevalence and incidence of dental caries."
What is the right amount? As Martinez-Mier said, "we know that fluoride is all about dose, giving the right amount in the right moment."
Trying to determine what that dose needs to be is what scientists are trying to zero in on.
APNewsBreak: US nixes proposal to let Turkey guards buy guns - The Washington Post
Tue, 19 Sep 2017 01:09
In this Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017 photo made available Monday, Sept 18, 2017, Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, right, acknowledges supporters as he arrives at his hotel in New York. Erdogan is in New York for the United Nations General Assembly. (Presidency Press Service, Pool Photo via AP) (Associated Press)
By Josh Lederman'‰|'‰AP By Josh Lederman'‰|'‰AP September 18 at 5:58 PM
NEW YORK '-- The Trump administration has withdrawn a proposal to let Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's security guards buy $1.2 million in U.S.-made weapons, a congressional official said Monday, following violence against protesters during Erdogan's visit to Washington this spring.
Earlier this year, the administration told Congress that it planned to allow New Hampshire gunmaker Sig Sauer to sell the weapons, which include hundreds of semi-automatic handguns and ammunition. The notification triggered a period in which Congress could review the deal before final approval is granted. The weapons would have gone to an intermediary in Turkey for use by Erdogan's presidential security forces.
But U.S. lawmakers began expressing strong opposition to the sale after a violent incident on May 16, which was caught-on-camera outside the home of the Turkish ambassador to Washington as Erdogan was visiting. Nineteen people including 15 identified as Turkish security officials have been indicted by a U.S. grand jury for attacking peaceful protesters.
The incident was one of several during visits by top Turkish officials to the U.S. that have raised serious questions about the behavior of Turkish security forces on American soil.
In June, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce, R-Calif., wrote Secretary of State Rex Tillerson urging him to reject the deal and calling the conduct of the Turkish guards ''unprofessional and brutal.'' A Senate panel has also approved a measure that would block the sale.
Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., said the move to cancel the deal ''was a little late'' but welcome nonetheless. ''It should never have been something that we were considering,'' Van Hollen said. He and Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., succeeded earlier this month in adding a provision to a State Department spending bill that would have blocked the sale.
In a joint statement, Van Hollen and Leahy added, ''We should also stop selling weapons to units of the Turkish National Police that have been arbitrarily arresting and abusing Turkish citizens who peacefully criticize the government.''
The State Department, in informing Congress that it was formally withdrawing the planned sale, said it was at the request of Sig Sauer, a firearms manufacturer, which had requested the license from the U.S. government that's needed to export weapons outside the U.S.
But the U.S. had already quietly put the sale on hold after the violence, and the Trump administration had informed the Turkish government that the sale wouldn't be allowed to take place. Sig Sauer appeared to have pulled its request for a license from the U.S. government after hearing from the Turks that it no longer expected to purchase the weapons.
A spokesman for Sig Sauer did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Rep. Dave Trott, R-Mich., hailed the decision to withdraw. He said going ahead with the deal ''would have been nothing short of an endorsement'' of the attack by the Turkish security guards. Pulling out, Trott said, amounts to finally pointing ''a finger in Erdogan's chest'' and telling him that Turkey is not above the law.
Word of the withdrawn sale came as President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson were in New York for the annual U.N. General Assembly gathering. Erdogan arrived in New York on Monday for the meetings.
Lawmakers of both parties have asked the State Department to take extra precautions to ensure there's not another violent incident this week by Turkish personnel during the U.N. gathering.
Associated Press writer Richard Lardner in Washington contributed.
Reach Josh Lederman on Twitter at
Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Service Animals
Guest Brings In Pet Snake As Service Animal At Walt Disney World '' Viral Disney
Wed, 20 Sep 2017 11:32
Disney Parks from around the world are known for bringing in service dogs to help guests with their special needs.
Today at Walt Disney World a guest tried to bring in their pet snake as a service animal but was turned away by security before reaching the TTC monorail station. Disney only recognizes dogs and miniature horses as service animals permitted in the parks.
Below is a picture of the guest holding her pet snake.
Photo credit: Kathy Nguyen
'Emotional support dogs' on planes are more scam than therapy '' Orange County Register
Wed, 20 Sep 2017 19:40
More and more people are passing off their pets as therapy animals and taking them on airplanes for free.Tom Tackett with the Patriotic Service Dog Foundation says this harms those who legitimately need the dogs to survive. Photo illustration location courtesy of ACI Jet. (Photo Illustration by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)
There's not much that scares former Army Delta Force operator Josh Collins: not seven combat tours in in Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan, not getting seriously wounded.
But when it comes to the increasing numbers of so-called ''emotional support'' dogs on planes, Collins '-- along with more and more airline passengers and workers '-- gets worried.
''It doesn't matter how good a dog is at home,'' warns Collins, who suffers from PTSD and has a service dog named Big Charlie who meets strict Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines. ''It only matters how reliable a dog is.
''If a dog lunges at my dog, I don't want Big Charlie to get bit or hurt.''
Unlike Big Charlie, a Labradoodle, emotional support dogs needn't be trained to do much more than make their owners feel good.
''That makes every dog an 'emotional support dog,' '' says Collins, a wounded warrior with brain injuries who also served as a Green Beret and Army Ranger. ''That's why they are called 'man's best friend.' ''
The culprit for the escalating numbers of dogs on planes is a 2015 Department of Transportation act that trumps the ADA. The DOT regulation allows ''emotional support'' pooches '-- most any animal for that matter '-- to fly free.
Service dogs are highly trained for specific tasks and are considered ''working dogs'' by the ADA, which does not recognize any other type of dog. Transportation department regulations, however, have a larger fence and cover service dogs, emotional support dogs '-- also called ''comfort animals'' '-- and ''therapy dogs.''
The definition of therapy dogs, however, is especially murky. Most dog accessory vendors and many dog owners often don't differentiate between emotional support and therapy dogs. But most canine and institutional professionals usually do differentiate and require weeks-long courses for therapy dogs that will visit hospitals and schools.
Passengers need only tell the airline they have something like, say, a sleep disorder, anxiety or stress and that they need their dog for emotional support.
For backup, the Transportation Department advises '-- and some airlines require '-- that passengers with dogs arrive with what is an astonishingly easily obtainable certificate. Yes, you can get one from ''a health professional'' if needed.
I went online, registered my childhood dog, Pal, added my column photo instead of Pal's '-- yes, a picture of a human being '-- and, presto, my long-deceased dog looking exactly like David Whiting became officially registered as an emotional support dog with the ''official ESA Registration of America.''While free flights for Fido are a boon to doggie accessory merchants as well as passengers who want to avoid flight fees for their animals, the downside includes people who suffer from allergies, fearful passengers and incidents with larger dogs.
''It is literally becoming a dog and pony show onboard,'' says Bob Ross, president of the Association of Professional Flight Attendants. ''In some cases the passenger's comfort animals are making the passengers around them uncomfortable.''
Just last week, Collins, who recently paddle-boarded his way from Corpus Christi, Texas, to New York, a distance of 3,600 miles, flew from LAX to his home in Miami with Big Charlie.
After 18 months of training, the flight marked graduation for Collins and Big Charlie from Tom Tackett Service Dogs school in Murrieta, an outfit that Tackett has overseen first in Orange County and now Riverside County for four decades.
Tackett says the lax rule covering emotional support dogs ''is absolutely absurd, and it's a serious problem for the entire service dog industry.''
''We have to abide by DOT regulations,'' American Airlines spokesman Ross Feinstein explains, and that means allowing support animals onboard. He says there even have been therapy pigs and therapy turkeys.
The charade gets worse.
As if airline gatekeepers are dog whisperers, the Transportation Department states that officials can determine if the dog is a true emotional support animal by observing its behavior.
But a dog in an airline lounge can be very different than an animal at 30,000 feet with food going up and down the aisle, strangers heading to restrooms, cabin pressure changes.
Incredibly, the Department of Transportation Act goes so far as to state that dogs on planes '-- emotional support dogs or otherwise '-- don't have to be on leashes. Even the ADA requires service dogs to be on leashes.
Oh, yes, if you want Fifi to fly free it also helps '-- and I am not making this up '-- to have one of those ubiquitous therapy vests for your dog that sell for as little as $21.99.
The Department of Transportation actually advises flight officials who doubt a dog's temperament to look ''for physical indicators on the animal (e.g., harnesses, vests).''
But wait! Why stop with just the vest? Online stores advise customers to get ''deluxe kits for only $199!''
Two hundred dollars buys you an online and paper certificate, two ID cards, two emotional support dog tags, and an ''official'' leash, collar and vest.
At least pitches like that make the mockery of the system transparent.
''It has become clear that the current system provides the potential for abuse,'' says Ross, of the flight attendants association. ''We feel that there needs to be better and stricter oversight.
''That may include some pre-screening and certification process, a size restriction, a list of approved species, or maybe a combination of several approaches.''
In August, Diedre Hughes, a Fullerton College professor, and her 13-year-old daughter, Frances, were boarding a flight out of Chicago when Frances started having difficulty breathing.
With a daughter diagnosed with allergies and asthma, Hughes discovered there were four emotional support dogs on the plane. One dog was a Doberman with spikes on the collar, another was a cocker spaniel.
''My daughter,'' Hughes told flight officials, ''is really allergic. I'm nervous about this.''
''Well,'' Hughes says she was told, ''if your daughter's allergic to pet dander then she can't be on this flight.''
Hughes recalls the ordeal as hurried and hectic. ''They basically wouldn't let me on the plane.''
Professor and daughter ended up being put up in a hotel courtesy of American Airlines, were given meal vouchers, a $200 airline voucher and flew out the next morning. Still, Hughes missed an important conference presentation.
Hughes says she and her daughter have no problem with the occasional service dog and reports that attendants always find faraway seats. But, she says, the influx of emotional support dogs is different.
''Where's the priority?''
Now repairing his boat in Miami after Hurricane Irma, Collins has never met Hughes and doesn't know about her daughter's predicament. Still, he happens to agree about their rights on airlines.
''If I was allergic to animals and someone had an emotional support animal and they had this fuzzy dog,'' Collins says, ''well, that's not fair to the other passengers.''
I wonder if my official emotional support dog registry photo ID guarantees me free flights? Woof.
View more on Orange County Register
After tough Trump speech, Pakistan scrambles to answer U.S. demands in Afghanistan - LA Times
Tue, 19 Sep 2017 21:31
Pakistan, facing growing pressure internally and from the United States about the relationship between the two countries, is weighing how to respond to U.S. demands that it do more to help stop the fighting in Afghanistan.
U.S. envoys have renewed calls on Pakistan to crack down on the Haqqani militant network that has attacked U.S. forces in Afghanistan, pressure Taliban insurgents to begin peace talks and hand over a doctor jailed for helping the CIA track Osama bin Laden at his hideaway outside the Pakistani capital.
The long-standing U.S. demands have taken on fresh urgency since President Trumpdeclared last month that Pakistan must ''change immediately'' its policy of harboring the Taliban and other militant groups challenging the U.S.-backed government in neighboring Afghanistan.
Trump's comments, along with his support for Pakistan's rival India to play a greater role in Afghanistan, have spooked Pakistani officials. Some are wondering whether their years-long, multibillion-dollar alliance with the United States will survive the new U.S. administration.
Pakistani officials have lashed out publicly at the U.S., saying Trump's plan to bolster the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan will fail and that they are ''reassessing'' ties with Washington. Defense Minister Khurram Dastgir Khan said Pakistan would explain its position to U.S. officials but that ''it's not for us to satisfy them.''
Privately, however, officials in Pakistan's powerful army acknowledged in a series of interviews that they risk being isolated in the region unless they find ways to placate the United States.
''A U.S.-India-Afghan nexus is dangerous for Pakistan,'' said one senior official, who requested anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. ''We don't want to be competing against the U.S. in Afghanistan and we want a normal working relationship with the U.S.''
Pakistani officials have also watched with concern as ally China has offered less than full-throated support. While Beijing initially defended Pakistan from Trump's criticism, it later signed a declaration condemning Pakistan-based militant groups such as the Haqqani network, a move seen as putting pressure on Pakistan's security establishment, which maintains ties to such groups.
China is investing tens of billions of dollars in infrastructure projects in Pakistan, but lacks the close ties to top Pakistani military officials that the United States has built over nearly two decades. The U.S. supplies Pakistan with hundreds of millions of dollars in military assistance every year and conducts training programs with senior Pakistani army officials.
''America needs Pakistan, and they know without Pakistan there is no way forward in Afghanistan,'' said Hamayoun Khan, a professor of strategic studies at National Defense University in Islamabad.
''On the other hand, Pakistan knows the U.S. is the most important factor to bring stability in Afghanistan'.... It is imperative that they will cooperate. They cannot afford discontinuing engagement.''
Trump is preparing to send thousands more troops to Afghanistan, to add to the 11,000 already deployed there in the 17th year of the U.S. war effort. Many analysts said he recognized that peace could not be achieved without getting tougher on Pakistan, which has long nurtured militant groups to defend its strategic interests in India and Afghanistan.
Leaders of both the Taliban and Haqqani network are believed to be based in Pakistan, but the government has shown little ability to control or influence the groups.
Pakistan has been unable, for example, to goad Taliban commanders into engaging in peace talks with the Afghan government. That prospect seems ever more distant now that Kabul controls only 60% of the country's 407 districts, according to the latest U.S. assessment.
In meetings this month in Pakistan and Afghanistan, U.S. officials have emphasized they want to maintain the close relationship but urged Pakistan to resolve a series of old problems.
The U.S. wants to see more progress toward peace talks in Afghanistan and an end to the Haqqani network's haven in Pakistan, the officials said. They also asked that Pakistan release Shakil Afridi, a doctor who has been jailed for six years for his role in helping the CIA track Osama bin Laden, the Al Qaeda leader who was in hiding at a safe house in the Pakistani garrison town of Abbottabad.
During his presidential campaign, Trump boasted that he could free Afridi ''in two minutes'... because we give a lot of aid to Pakistan.''
But U.S. officials have long hesitated to enact punitive measures against the Pakistani army, which guards the country's nuclear arsenal and also controls access to Afghanistan via land routes used by NATO supply vehicles.
Pakistani news media have reported that if the U.S. enacts sanctions, Islamabad would respond with the ''toughest'' diplomatic policies, including reducing cooperation in Afghanistan and banning NATO vehicles from entering Afghanistan via Pakistan.
Frustration is high in both capitals, with some in Washington saying Trump's speech wasn't tough enough, and Islamabad furious that he encouraged a greater role for India.
Officials from the two sides are expected to meet again this week at the United Nations General Assembly in New York. Although unlikely, for the first time in years some experts say they can envision a U.S.-Pakistani breakup.
''I've almost felt a sense of relief among Pakistani officials, that they've been in a bad marriage for too long, and they were never going to ask for a divorce, but now the other side has said, 'I'm going to leave you,' so you don't look bad in front of the kids,'' said Moeed Yusuf, an expert on U.S.-Pakistan relations at the United States Institute of Peace.
''In private moments, both sides say they don't want a rupture, and they understand they need each other,'' Yusuf said. ''But these extreme positions make it impossible to engage, and the naysayers on both sides, their hands get strengthened.''
Special correspondent Sahi reported from Islamabad and Times staff writer Bengali from Mumbai, India.
Sunrise Or Sunset? The Future Of Section 702 Of The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act | Hoover Institution
Mon, 18 Sep 2017 15:54
The Hoover Institution hosted "Sunrise or Sunset? The Future of Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act " on Thursday, June 1, 2017 from 12:00pm - 5:30pm EST.
On December 31, 2017, Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) will sunset unless Congress renews it. Two classified programs which are part of Section702, codenamed PRISM and UPSTREAM, were exposed during the Snowden revelations. Members of Congress and senior intelligence officials have openly stated these programs are a vital counterterrorism tool and necessary to protect the U.S. from attacks. Unlike Section 215, which collected bulk American phone records, 702 targets the internet traffic of non-U.S. persons located outside of the United States. Yet, numerous prominent civil liberty organizations such as the ACLU, Human Rights Watch, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, have expressed grave concern about the surveillance program. Leaders in the tech community also are concerned their organizations are being used as a vehicle for U.S. spying.
Stanford University's Hoover Institution seeks to explore these vexing policy challenges.
12:00 p.m.
Introduction to Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act
12:45 p.m. - Lunch
1:15 p.m.
National Security View on Renewing Section 702
Matt Olsen, Former Director of the National Counterterriorism Center, in conversation with Benjamin Wittes, Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution
2:15 p.m. - Break
2:30 p.m.
The Law and Civil Liberties
James Baker, General Counsel, Federal Bureau of Investigation Alex Abdo, Senior Staff Attorney, Knight First Amendment Institute, Columbia University Moderated by: Shane Harris, Senior Correspondent, Wall Street Journal
3:45 p.m. - Break
4:00 p.m.
Keynote on Privacy and Surveillance Related to Section 702
Brennan Center for Justice
5:00 p.m - Rooftop Cocktail Reception
The video of the event is on C-SPAN.
Theresa May Takes Her Darkest, Most Desperate Turn Yet | Vanity Fair
Mon, 18 Sep 2017 23:55
Theresa May prepares to speak to the media outside 10 Downing Street, in central London, April 18, 2017.
By Stefan Wermuth/Reuters.
It is one of the great ironies of Brexit that the United Kingdom's messy divorce from Europe, sold as an effort to reclaim parliamentary sovereignty, has instead delivered its opposite. Last Monday, the House of Commons voted in the early stages of the European Union Withdrawal Bill to give the government sweeping powers to make laws without parliamentary scrutiny. These powers are named after Henry VIII, England's most authoritarian monarch, but they in fact bear a greater resemblance to Hitler's Enabling Act of 1933, which allowed the Fuhrer to bypass the Reichstag and govern by proclamation.
Allusions to Nazi Germany are generally overwrought, but this is no exaggeration: Prime Minister Theresa Maydoes not have an absolute majority in the British Parliament, just as Hitler didn't in the Reichstag in 1933, which is why she has been forced to resort to his strategy. If the withdrawal bill is passed as it stands, May will be able to make laws by decree and reverse and adapt primary legislation without consulting Parliament. It is the greatest attack on the British constitution in at least a century. Parliamentary sovereignty'--the very thing that Brexiteers said they were voting for in leaving the E.U.'--may be about to be vastly reduced by a cabal of right-wing Conservatives who say they are obeying the people's will. Such power grabs, of course, are always done in the name of the people. The full title of the 1933 Enabling Act was ''The law to remedy the distress of the people and the state.''
The derangement of Theresa May's minority government in the United Kingdom is something to behold, and it is also more than a little frightening. Even in the America of Donald Trump, there has not yet been any real attempt, save a few controversial executive orders, to strip Congress of its powers. But in Britain'--the Mother of Parliaments, according to the Victorian reformer John Bright'--we stand idly by as May attempts to neutralize our elected representatives. It seems incredible to me that I am reporting on this, but even more alarming is that there is so little concern expressed by the majority of the press and the generally acquiescent BBC. The point is that after the referendum last year, and despite the poor result in the General Election, the right-wing of the Conservative Party has continued traveling in an increasingly undemocratic direction and has, so far, swept all before it. The normally rather sober Hansard Society, an organization dedicated to promoting and strengthening democracy, has called the ''broad scope of the powers in the Bill, the inadequate constraints placed on them, and the shortcoming in the proposed parliamentary control of them'' a ''toxic mix'' that will undermine Parliament's ability to hold May to account or to meliorate the most damaging policies arising from Brexit.
MPs are so caught up in the madness of Brexit that, for the most part, they cannot see the power grab for what it is. Fears are expressed and noble speeches given but in the dead of night on Monday, MPs voted by 326 to 290, giving May an effective majority of 36. This included seven members of the Labor opposition, who astonishingly defied their party, which has just begun to soften its line on Brexit so as to accommodate increasing worries about the economy, employment and workers' rights. These seven Labor members'--Ronnie Campbell (age 74), Frank Field (75), Kate Hoey (71), Kelvin Hopkins (76), John Mann (57), Dennis Skinner (85) and Graham Stringer (67) have an average age of 72, which underlines a truth about the Brexit vote and the lurch to the right in Britain. They are the product of something profound going on among an older generation, even among some left-wingers. These people yearn for a past that does not exist and they do not give one solitary damn for the future of young people who will be forced to inherit the economic mess.
The nostalgic, selfish gene exists on both the right and left in British politics, which is what makes a hard Brexit much more likely, and also, incidentally, politics more difficult to read. Naturally, there are older politicians on both sides of the House who warn about the dangers to democracy contained in the bill, one being the veteran Conservative Kenneth Clark, but at base the great divide in Britain is between generations. The question is how much damage the older generation does before being replaced by younger people who are generally more accepting of immigration, do not revere Britain's ''heroic'' past, and are part of a connected world that views national borders as less and less important. Withdrawing from Europe in the way proposed by the Brexit project is destructive to the economy and damaging to democracy but it is also simply unrealistic, as perhaps Theresa May (60) and her chief Brexit minister David Davis (68) will one day come to realize.
Still, the situation in Parliament is very serious. MPs mutter about waiting for the right moment to oppose the government, but the truth is that the energy is all with the anti-democratic side, the one that keeps citing the People's will but wants to remove power from the People's representatives. The whole of the Executive is now focused on diminishing the role of MPs and taking the country out of the European Union, come what may, in 18 months' time. There is literally nothing else of note being debated in Parliament. Brexit sits like a massive weather system over the United Kingdom, draining energy from its national life and politics.
Some take hope from the leader of the Labor party's new position, which is to suggest that Britain might retain access to the European Single Market, but this is absurd, if not totally incoherent. Keeping access to the market of half a billion people means that Britain would have to respect its regulations without having any influence on making them. The U.K. would place itself at a disadvantage without any gain. And on immigration there would be no benefit. Britain already has control of its borders, while the myths about Britain being overrun by foreigners are slowly being exposed by leaks. Two weeks ago, a leaked report showed that the vast majority of students (97 percent) and those who visit Britain on work and visitor visas return home when their time is up. It is shameful that this was not published before the referendum and probably gives as good a reading of May's true political instincts as anything else. Her government is sitting on 50 separate Brexit impact studies, which it refuses to allow the public to see before Britain leaves the E.U.
All the government's efforts are devoted to closing down debate and ramming laws through parliament without scrutiny. Over the fall, as this dangerous bill progresses, we will see whether Parliamentarians on both sides of the house have the mettle to fight for the independence of one of the oldest democratic systems in the world.
Phrase from the Chaise
59 More Slang Phrases From The 1920s We Should Start Using Again | Thought Catalog
Tue, 19 Sep 2017 10:19
I learned a couple things from the response to my article on slang phrases from the 1920s. Number first: The Roaring Twenties really did have the coolest vernacular ever. However, I also found out that the internet loves the 1920s as much as I do '-- except for the overt racism, ban on alcohol and regressive gender politics, of course.
In terms of vocab, the 20s got all of us beat. For all you 20s junkies, here are 59 more great slang phrases from the decade that keeps on giving. Let's bring this shit back.
You should like Thought Catalog on Facebook here.ky_olsen1. Absent Treatment: dancing with a shy person, inexperienced dancer or awkward partner.
2. Air Tight: extremely desirable or attractive. (Note: A ''sheik'' is an attractive male.)
3. Ameche: a phone. (Also use for telephone: ''blower.'')
4. Baby Vamp: a very popular young woman or an attractive girl. (Note: ''Vamp'' on its own refers to a flirt.)
5. ''Banana oil!'': ''That's doubtful!''
Seattle Municipal Archives6. Bangtail '' a race horse.
7. Barneymugging: sexual intercourse.
8. Beat Session: a gossip session between two males, consisting of idle chatter.
9. Bindle Punk: a nomad or someone prone to wandering, like laborers, lumberjacks, construction workers or Jack Kerouac types.
10. Blind Pig: a speakeasy or other establishment where illicit alcohol was served.
derrypubliclibrary11. Blue Serge: a real sweetheart.
12. Bluenose: someone who is prudish, puritanical or morally uptight.
13. Bronx Cheer: the sound of raspberries you make to indicate disapproval.
14. Bug-Eyed Betty: used to refer to an undesirable, ugly woman.
15. Bunny: someone who seems lost, but endearingly so.
Infrogmation16. Burning with a Blue Flame: drunk. (Also used for drunk: ''blotto,'' ''boiled as an owl,'' ''half-shot,'' ''half-screwed,'' ''lit up like the commonwealth,'' ''loaded to the muzzle,'' ''over the bay,'' ''pie-eyed,'' ''polluted.'')
17. ''Cash or Check?'': ''Will you kiss me now or do we wait until later?'' Note: ''Check'' on its own means to take a raincheck on kissing or save the kiss for another time.
18. Cast a Kitten: to throw a temper tantrum. (Also use for ''temper tantrum'': ''ing bing.'')
19. Cellar Smeller: a guy who only comes around when there's free booze.
20. Coffin Varnish: homemade liquor.
ky_olsen21. Creep Joint: a brothel.
22. Dead Hoofer: a terrible dancer, someone with two left feet.
23. Dead Soldier: an empty container of alcohol. Example: After draining your beer, you might proclaim that soldier dead.
24. Declaration of Independence: a divorce. (Also use: ''dropping the pilot.'')
25. ''Di Mi!'': ''My goodness!'' or ''Holy shit!''
Cushing Memorial Library and Archives, Texas A&M26. Eel's Hips: a phrase similar to ''The Cat's Meow'' or ''The Monkey's Eyebrows.''
27. Electric Cure: electrocution or electric shock.
28. Face Stretcher: an older lady still trying to look young (and usually failing).
29. Fakeloo Artist: a con man.
30. Fire Extinguisher: the escort or chaperone for a social event. (Also use for ''chaperone'': an ''alarm clock.'')
fotologic31. Flat Tire: used to indicate that one's date did not meet expectations. Example: ''She seemed so interesting, but she was nothing but a flat tire!''
32. Forty-Niner: a male gold digger.
33. Frolic Pad: a dance club or nightclub (Note: If it's a really swanky place with rich patrons, that's called a ''clip joint.'')
34. Ground Grippers: shoes or sneakers. (Also use: ''kicks,'' ''stompers.'')
35. Hen Coop: a beauty salon.
hartman04536. Hit on All Sixes: to perform at full-capacity or nail it one-hundred percent.
37. Hope Chest: your trusty pack of cigarettes.
38. Indian Hop: a code name for reefer.
39. Insured: to be engaged to marry.
40. ''Ish Kabibble!'': ''Who cares?'', ''No worries!''
Shutterstock41. Jack: another name for money. (Other words for money: ''rubes,'' ''kale,'' ''mazuma.'')
42. Johnson Brother: a criminal.
43. Kick the Gong Around: to smoke opium.
44. Knee-Duster: a skirt.
45. Lalapazaza: a good sport.
46. Lens Louise: the person who steamrolls the conversation.
47. Meat Wagon: an ambulance.
48. Middle Aisle: to get married. Example: ''I'm going down the middle aisle.''
49. Mustard Plaster: someone who isn't wanted but won't leave.
50. ''Nerts!'': ''That's awesome!''
Shutterstock51. Ofay: term used by black folks to refer to white people.
52. Off-Time Jive: To be inappropriate, impolite; to have bad manners.
53. Quiff: a sexually active female.
54. Rock of Ages: a middle-aged woman, usually over 30.
55. Screaming Meemies: the shakes.
56. Streeted: to be tossed out of a party.
57. Ten Cent Box: a cab. (Note: a ''dim box jaunt'' means a ride in a taxi.)
58. Togged to the Bricks: dressed to the nines.
59. Torpedo: a thug or hitman.
Want more fascinating information? Check out this incredible collection on Amazon here.
More from Thought Catalog
NA-Tech News
The Silicon Valley Backlash Is Heating Up - Bloomberg
Mon, 18 Sep 2017 12:27
Big tech is falling out of political favor. This week, BuzzFeed's Ben Smith convincingly argued that the tides are turning against Google, Facebook and Amazon. The article, ''There's Blood in the Water in Silicon Valley,'' is worth a read. As Ben points out, Steve Bannon is leading the charge from the right, calling for Google and Facebook to be regulated like public utilities. Bernie Sanders is helping to push the anti-tech charge from the left. Populists on both wings want to kneecap big tech.
Unfortunately (or fortunately) for the technology giants, there isn't a coherent, unified critique of their behavior. The grievances come in many forms and from many camps. They include:
Simmering 99 percenters angry over tech's growing powerMounting antitrust concernsAnimus from ad-dependent media companiesBias charges from right-wingers without a seat at the table in Silicon ValleyComplaints, especially from Democrats, about Russian interference in the election, particularly via social mediaAn effort to reckon with gender discrimination and harassment at male dominated engineering companiesAccusations of fake news and clickbait all around.The situation keeps getting worse.
This week two major problems broke open for Facebook. ProPublica revealed that the social-media company took people's money in exchange for helping them run anti-Semitic ads:
Until this week, when we asked Facebook about it, the world's largest social network enabled advertisers to direct their pitches to the news feeds of almost 2,300 people who expressed interest in the topics of ''Jew hater,'' ''How to burn jews,'' or, ''History of 'why jews ruin the world.'''
Pierre Omidyar, eBay's founder, facetiously tweeted: '' Let's build a comprehensive database of highly personal targeting info and sell secret ads with zero public scrutiny. What could go wrong?''
Facebook said it had ''more work to do.'' That's for sure.
At the same time, Facebook is being implicated in the Russian effort to attack the election. Last week, we learned that fake accounts that were probably run from Russia spent about $100,000 on ads to drum up political divisions in the U.S. This week, the situation worsened. ''Mueller Probe Has 'Red-Hot' Focus on Social Media, Officials Say.'' That headline from Bloomberg News on Thursday can't be reassuring to the policy folks over at Facebook. The social-media giant of more than 2 billion users is at the center of the special counsel's investigation.
If you want a taste for the political reaction, here's Josh Marshall writing in Talking Points Memo:
I think the political juice of the Russia story is pushing Facebook toward a bruising encounter with the reality that it's not God, not a government, not the law. It's just a website. It can't happen soon enough.
That's just Facebook. On Thursday, former Google employees filed a class action against the company, arguing that it pays women less for similar work.
Google probably faces the biggest antitrust backlash. The search provider lost a $2.7 billion ruling from the European Union in June. Yelp, which has been on a multiyear crusade against Google's behavior, feels like its messaging is finally breaking through. Yelp's policy chief Luther Lowe told Ben Smith, ''Antitrust is back, baby.''
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Alphabet, Google's parent, is looking to invest $1 billion in Lyft. Although Alphabet is also an Uber shareholder through its GV venture arm, an investment would signal strong support for its competitor. Alphabet's self-driving car business, Waymo, has been embroiled in an ugly lawsuit with Uber. Lyft has gained market share this year as Uber has bent under a series of self-inflicted scandals.
Jack Ma is ambitious, to say the least: now he's talking about taking Alibaba deeper into brick-and-mortar retail. The founder of the Chinese e-commerce giant spoke in an interview about his ambitions of breaking into shopping malls, moving away from its asset-light approach to grab a bigger share of global trade.
Apple may seal its biggest deal yet in an unlikely place with a not-so-flashy company: Toshiba. Apple is in talks to invest about $3 billion in Toshiba's memory chips business as part of a consortium led by Bain Capital, people familiar with the matter said. The deal could give the iPhone maker an equity stake of about 16 percent.
China's bitcoin enthusiasts are ditching WeChat. The country's crackdown on bitcoin and the messaging platform is sending them to Telegram and other secure messaging apps to communicate.
Google Critic Ousted From Think Tank Funded by the Tech Giant -
Mon, 18 Sep 2017 12:29
WASHINGTON '-- In the hours after European antitrust regulators levied a record $2.7 billion fine against Google in late June, an influential Washington think tank learned what can happen when a wealthy tech giant is criticized.
The New America Foundation has received more than $21 million from Google; its parent company's executive chairman, Eric Schmidt; and his family's foundation since the think tank's founding in 1999. That money helped to establish New America as an elite voice in policy debates on the American left and helped Google shape those debates.
But not long after one of New America's scholars posted a statement on the think tank's website praising the European Union's penalty against Google, Mr. Schmidt, who had been chairman of New America until 2016, communicated his displeasure with the statement to the group's president, Anne-Marie Slaughter, according to the scholar.
The Run-UpThe podcast that makes sense of the most delirious stretch of the 2016 campaign. The statement disappeared from New America's website, only to be reposted without explanation a few hours later. But word of Mr. Schmidt's displeasure rippled through New America, which employs more than 200 people, including dozens of researchers, writers and scholars, most of whom work in sleek Washington offices where the main conference room is called the ''Eric Schmidt Ideas Lab.'' The episode left some people concerned that Google intended to discontinue funding, while others worried whether the think tank could truly be independent if it had to worry about offending its donors.
Those worries seemed to be substantiated a couple of days later, when Ms. Slaughter summoned the scholar who wrote the critical statement, Barry Lynn, to her office. He ran a New America initiative called Open Markets that has led a growing chorus of liberal criticism of the market dominance of telecom and tech giants, including Google, which is now part of a larger corporate entity known as Alphabet, for which Mr. Schmidt serves as executive chairman.
Ms. Slaughter told Mr. Lynn that ''the time has come for Open Markets and New America to part ways,'' according to an email from Ms. Slaughter to Mr. Lynn. The email suggested that the entire Open Markets team '-- nearly 10 full-time employees and unpaid fellows '-- would be exiled from New America.
While she asserted in the email, which was reviewed by The New York Times, that the decision was ''in no way based on the content of your work,'' Ms. Slaughter accused Mr. Lynn of ''imperiling the institution as a whole.''
Mr. Lynn, in an interview, charged that Ms. Slaughter caved to pressure from Mr. Schmidt and Google, and, in so doing, set the desires of a donor over the think tank's intellectual integrity.
''Google is very aggressive in throwing its money around Washington and Brussels, and then pulling the strings,'' Mr. Lynn said. ''People are so afraid of Google now.''
Google rejected any suggestion that it played a role in New America's split with Open Markets. Riva Sciuto, a Google spokeswoman, pointed out that the company supports a wide range of think tanks and other nonprofits focused on information access and internet regulation. ''We don't agree with every group 100 percent of the time, and while we sometimes respectfully disagree, we respect each group's independence, personnel decisions and policy perspectives.''
New America's executive vice president, Tyra Mariani, said it was ''a mutual decision for Barry to spin out his Open Markets program,'' and that the move was not in any way influenced by Google or Mr. Schmidt.
''New America financial supporters have no influence or control over the research design, methodology, analysis or findings of New America research projects, nor do they have influence or control over the content of educational programs and communications efforts,'' Ms. Mariani said. She added that Mr. Lynn's statement praising the European Union's sanctions against Google had been temporarily removed from New America's website because of ''an unintentional internal issue'' unrelated to Google or Mr. Schmidt.
Ms. Mariani and Ms. Sciuto said Google is continuing to fund New America.
Hours after this article was published online Wednesday morning, Ms. Slaughter announced that the think tank had fired Mr. Lynn on Wednesday for ''his repeated refusal to adhere to New America's standards of openness and institutional collegiality.''
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Ms. Slaughter also wrote on Twitter that the article was ''false,'' but was unable tocite any errors. New America would not make Ms. Slaughter available for an interview.
It is difficult to overstate Mr. Lynn's influence in raising concerns about the market dominance of Google, as well as of other tech companies such as Amazon and Facebook. His Open Markets initiative organized a 2016 conference at which a range of influential figures '-- including Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts '-- warned of damaging effects from market consolidation in tech.
In the run-up to that conference, Ms. Slaughter and New America's lead fund-raiser in emails to Mr. Lynn indicated that Google was concerned that its positions were not going to be represented, and that it was not given advanced notice of the event.
''We are in the process of trying to expand our relationship with Google on some absolutely key points,'' Ms. Slaughter wrote in an email to Mr. Lynn, urging him to ''just THINK about how you are imperiling funding for others.''
Mr. Lynn is now starting a stand-alone nonprofit with the same team to continue Open Markets' work. The new group, which does not yet have a name, has funding commitments, though clearly is not expecting money from Google. It has launched a website called Citizens Against Monopoly that accuses Google of ''trying to censor journalists and researchers who fight dangerous monopolies.'' The site vows, ''We are going to make sure Google doesn't get away with this.''
After initially eschewing Washington public policy debates, which were seen in Silicon Valley as pay-to-play politics, Google has developed an influence operation that is arguably more muscular and sophisticated than that of any other American company. It spent $9.5 million on lobbying through the first half of this year '-- more than almost any other company. It helped organize conferences at which key regulators overseeing investigations into the company were presented with pro-Google arguments, sometimes without disclosure of Google's role.
Among the most effective '-- if little examined '-- tools in Google's public policy toolbox has been its funding of nonprofit groups from across the political spectrum. This year, it has donated to 170 such groups, according to Google's voluntary disclosures on its website. While Google does not indicate how much cash was donated, the number of beneficiaries has grown exponentially since it started disclosing its donations in 2010, when it gave to 45 groups.
Some tech lobbyists, think tank officials and scholars argue that the efforts help explain why Google has mostly avoided damaging regulatory and enforcement decisions in the United States of the sort levied by the European Union in late June.
But Google's Washington alliances could be tested in the coming months. Google emerged as a flash point in the latest skirmish of the culture wars this month after one of its male engineers posted a critique of the company's efforts to diversify. And its data collection continues fueling questions about its commitment to privacy.
Then there are the mounting concerns about the market dominance of Google, which handles an overwhelming majority of all internet searches globally and dominates internet advertising. Its alleged tilting of search results to favor its services over those offered by competitors led to the European Union's $2.7 billion antitrust penalty in June.
The Open Markets' statement that drew Mr. Schmidt's ire praised the fine, and called on United States regulators to more aggressively enforce antitrust rules against Google, Amazon and ''other dominant platform monopolists.''
Last month, Democratic congressional leaders rolled out a policy platform that included a pledge to dismantle monopolies, including in cable and internet service, which some read as a challenge to Google in particular. That sentiment '-- which appears to have some support from populist elements of President Trump's base '-- diverges sharply from the approach that had been taken by most Democrats until recently.
Google's willingness to spread cash around the think tanks and advocacy groups focused on internet and telecommunications policy has effectively muted, if not silenced, criticism of the company over the past several years, said Marc Rotenberg, the president of the Electronic Privacy Information Center. His group, which does not accept corporate funding, has played a leading role in calling out Google and other tech companies for alleged privacy violations. But Mr. Rotenberg said it is become increasingly difficult to find partners in that effort as more groups accept Google funding.
''There are simply fewer groups that are available to speak up about Google's activities that threaten online privacy,'' Mr. Rotenberg said. ''The groups that should be speaking up aren't.''
Real News
Couple hospitalized after man gets his head stuck in his wife's vagina
Mon, 18 Sep 2017 12:02
Tom and Janis Morrison, a young couple from the small town of Greensboro in Alabama, called 911 around 10:00 pm last night to ask for an ambulance.
Samantha Irving, the operator who took the call, says she thought it as a joke when he explained the situation.
''The woman told me that her husband had fallen and that his head was now stuck in her vaginal cavity. I really thought that it was a group of teenagers making a prank call.'' Despite Ms. Irving's doubts, she sent an ambulance on the site and the paramedics rapidly realized that the situation was in fact very serious.
Bill Austin, one of the paramedics who transported the couple, claims they were lying naked on their bed and partially covered in blood.
''The woman kept screaming out in pain whenever the guy moved, but he had half of his face buried in there and he looked like he was going through Hell!'' The couple was transported to the nearby Hale County Hospital, where doctors were able to separate the couple.
Ms. Morrison suffered from severe internal bleeding but is now stable, while her husband has suffered only a few scratches and bruises.
According to doctors, both could also suffer from post-traumatic stress syndrome.
Dr. Frank Olson, who treated the couple upon their arrival at the hospital, says that such extreme sexual practices are extremely dangerous and recommends to completely avoid them.
Incidents like this one are, indeed, quite unusual, but hundreds of couples are admitted to the hospital every year in the U.S. after getting stuck together during sexual intercourse.
According to data collected by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 3,213 couples were hospitalized for such problems across the country in 2015 and 3,789 in 2016.
According to the same data, the Morrisons are the first couple to be hospitalized for a head stuck inside a vaginal cavity since October 2007.
London developer to allow rental tenants to pay deposits in bitcoin | Money | The Guardian
Wed, 20 Sep 2017 20:30
The Collective's Old Oak co-living scheme in London's Willesden Junction is to accept bitcoin for deposits. Photograph: Sarah Lee for the Guardian
A London property developer is to allow its tenants to pay their deposits in bitcoin '' the first time the virtual currency has been used in the UK residential homes market.
Co-living pioneer The Collective has announced that prospective tenants can pay deposits from Monday in bitcoin. By the end of this year it will also accept rent payments in the cryptocurrency. This is the first time in the UK a major property developer has enabled bitcoin payments. The Collective said it was in response to demand predominantly from international customers.
The price of bitcoin hit a record high of $4,700 (£3,627) last week, having risen by 350% since the beginning of the year. Bitcoin is the world's first decentralised currency and is not controlled by any government or bank. While increased global recognition is leading to mainstream adoption, critics warn that '' as a vehicle popular with speculators looking to make a quick buck '' it is volatile, risky and potentially dangerous.
However, from Monday The Collective's online booking form for its Old Oak co-living scheme '' the world's largest co-living development,with 550 rooms, which launched last May and where rent starts from £178 a week for a 10 sq m space '' will accept bitcoin deposits. The standard deposit is £500 '' for all unit types and sizes '' and The Collective has pledged ''spot conversion'', which means it will bear any financial risk while holding the deposit, returning it at the original value when the tenancy finishes.
Tenants will have the ability to pay their rent using bitcoin from this autumn.
The Collective is like a student halls of residence but for people starting their career in London''The rise and adoption of cryptocurrency globally, particularly bitcoin, is a fascinating development in how people store value and transact for goods and services worldwide,'' said The Collective's chief executive and founder, Reza Merchant. ''With many savers and investors now choosing and becoming more comfortable with cryptocurrency, people will expect to be able to use it to pay for life's essentials, including housing deposits and rent.''
However, the Association of Residential Letting Agents (Arla) expressed reservations. ''There may be niche parts of the market that would be willing to accept bitcoin in exchange for traditional rental income,'' said David Cox, chief executive of Arla Propertymark, but I think the bitcoin and electronic currency market is still in its infancy and the market will need to develop more before it becomes a mainstream payment method for rent.''
The Collective's head of technology, Jon Taylor, said: ''One of the biggest barriers to the popularity of bitcoin is making it more consumer-friendly, and we believe this will become established as an easy and convenient way to pay deposits.''
The Collective's model is to give tenants a hassle-free life similar to that in a student hall of residence, but for people starting out on their career. Its expanding facilities offer a 21st-century alternative to flat-sharing, the traditional rite of passage for twentysomethings arriving in the capital. Tenancy levels are typically 97.7% and the first Collective baby was born in August, although the family has since had to move out as children and pets are not allowed to live in the building.
The company recently announced that the London Legacy Development Corporation was set to grant the world's first ''co-living'' planning permission for its latest building, a 250-room, 19-storey development in Stratford, east London, which will open in late 2018 or early 2019. It has also acquired a third major site in London's Canary Wharf.
VIDEO - Rob Reiner Helps Launch Committee to Investigate Russia - YouTube
Thu, 21 Sep 2017 15:13
VIDEO - The Nazis Were Socialists, Not Right-Wingers - YouTube
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VIDEO - Maxine Waters pushes Trump impeachment -- during eulogy! - YouTube
Wed, 20 Sep 2017 16:32
VIDEO - Police Search For 'Mad Pooper' Who Dumps And Runs CBS Denver
Wed, 20 Sep 2017 12:24
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (CBS4) '' Police are searching for a woman who has been seen repeatedly defecating in a neighborhood while out running.
Cathy Budde says her kids saw the woman mid-squat and came running back in the house to tell her.
''They are like, 'There's a lady taking a poop!' So I come outside, and I'm like '... 'are you serious?''' Budde said to the runner. '''Are you really taking a poop right here in front of my kids?!' She's like, 'Yeah, sorry!'''
(credit: Budde family)
Budde says the runner is doing it in her neighborhood at least once a week for the last seven weeks, so they nicknamed her ''The Mad Pooper.''
''Two other times we've caught her '' caught her yesterday '' she changed up her time a little bit because she knew I was watching.''
Now the Colorado Springs Police Department is involved, and say the runner could face charges of indecent exposure and public defecation.
''It's abnormal, it's not something I've seen in my career,'' Sgt. Johnathan Sharketti said. ''For someone to repeatedly do such a thing '... it's uncharted territory for me.''
According to the Budde family, there are plenty of restrooms less than a block away from where the woman is running, and so believe ''this is intentional.''
If you can identify the runner, please call the Colorado Springs Police Department at 719-444-7240.
VIDEO - Clinton Won't Rule Out Questioning Election, But Says No Clear Means To Do So : NPR
Wed, 20 Sep 2017 01:10
Clinton Won't Rule Out Questioning Election, But Says No Clear Means To Do So : NPRClinton Won't Rule Out Questioning Election, But Says No Clear Means To Do SoHillary Clinton tells Fresh Air the mechanism for such a challenge does not exist in the U.S. "and usually we don't need it." She also says she is "optimistic about our country, but I am not naive."
VIDEO - Potentially deadly bomb ingredients are 'frequently bought together' on Amazon '' Channel 4 News
Tue, 19 Sep 2017 21:58
A Channel 4 News investigation can reveal how Amazon's algorithm can guide users to the chemical combinations for producing explosives.
Channel 4 News has discovered that Amazon's algorithm guides users to the necessary chemical combinations for producing explosives and incendiary devices. Ingredients which are innocent on their own are suggested for purchase together as ''Frequently bought together'' products, as it does with all other goods.
Ingredients for black powder and thermite are grouped together under a ''Frequently bought together'' section on listings for specific chemicals.
Steel ball bearings often used as shrapnel in explosive devices, ignition systems and remote detonators are also readily available; some promoted by the website on the same page as these chemicals as products that ''Customers who bought this item also bought''.
Users searching for a common chemical compound used in food production '-- which Channel 4 News has decided not to name '-- are offered the ingredients to produce explosive black powder.
Channel 4 News was able to create a ''shopping basket'' on Amazon with up to 45kg of ingredients for black powder. Under current legislation an individual may only produce 100g of black powder for private use without storage. The transaction was not completed.
Users searching the website for another widely available chemical are offered the other ingredients for thermite in a ''Frequently bought together'' section. These three chemicals when ignited create a hazardous reaction used in incendiary bombs and for cutting through steel.
On listings for some of these chemical components, Amazon's ''Customers who bought this item also bought'' section also offers:
Steel ball bearingsPush button switchesBattery connectors and cablesElsewhere, Amazon offers igniter cord for sale, used to ignite explosive devices and pyrotechnics. This is listed alongside an electronic ignition system that allows for remote detonations.
While many of these ingredients are not illegal to buy or sell in the UK, there have been successful prosecutions where people have bought multiple chemicals and electronic components necessary to produce explosives.
One chemical for sale is listed as a ''Regulated substance'' by the Home Office, making it illegal to possess it without a licence, and illegal to supply to a person without checking that the purchaser has a licence.
Yvette Cooper: Amazon findings 'very disturbing'
Yvette Cooper, chair of Parliament's home affairs committee, said the findings were ''very disturbing''.
Amazon said that all products must adhere to their selling guidelines and all UK laws. They also say they will work closely with police and law enforcement agencies should they need to assist investigations.
Channel 4 News has withheld the specific names of the chemicals, though their authenticity has been verified by experts.
VIDEO - Senate Committee Considers Sex Trafficking Crime Bill, Sep 19 2017 |
Tue, 19 Sep 2017 21:43
Sex Trafficking The Senate Commerce Committee held a hearing examining legislation to combat sex trafficking, specifically a section of the bill that would allow victims to sue internet companies that facilitated these crimes. One of the witnesses, Yvonne Ambrose, gave a heartfelt testimony about her daughter who was a sex trafficking victim recruited online and later brutally murdered. Other witnesses included the general counsels from both the Internet Association and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and Xavier Becerra, the California attorney general and a former Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives. close
VIDEO - Pelosi to Protesters: "Just Stop It" - YouTube
Mon, 18 Sep 2017 23:50

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