986: Fruit Machine

Adam Curry & John C. Dvorak

2h 43m
November 30th, 2017
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Executive Producers: Sir Truman, Timothy Pierce, Kevin Thomas, Nick Seal, Black Pete White knight of Cambridge

Associate Executive Producers: Baronet Patrick of the Pugner order

Cover Artist: Illuminadia

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#MeToo
DEMOCRAT NEWS NETWORK: CNN Fails To Report These 24 Democrat Sex Scandals | Daily Wire
Sat, 25 Nov 2017 13:31
As sexual misconduct allegations continue to rock liberal Hollywood, the mainstream media establishment, and politicians of both political parties, at least the Democrats can count on CNN to eschew reporting about dozens of sexual allegations on members of their party.
To be fair, it is worth noting that CNN has reported on a couple of the big Democrat sex scandals currently receiving major media attention on other news networks, specifically the scandals involving Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) and Rep. John Conyers (D-MI).
When CNN is not busy giving President Donald Trump 93% negative coverage, covering for Islamicterrorists, botching gun reports, or being sued by over 200 African-Americans for racial discrimination, they are busy covering for Democrats across the United States by not reporting on scandals.
Below are 24 recent Democratic sex scandals that CNN has failed to report on their website (documentation showing CNN did not cover the scandals is provided at the bottom of this report).
1. Four new women accuse Bill Clinton of sexual assault. (11/20/2017)
2. Congresswoman accuses Democrat Bob Filner of sexually assaulting her. (11/21/2017)
3. Democrat Raul Bocanegra resigns leadership position and won't seek re-election over sexual allegations. (11/20/2017)
The Los Angeles Times reports:
Assemblyman Raul Bocanegra announced he will not seek reelection Monday, citing ''persistent rumors and speculation'' regarding sexual harassment claims.
''I spent my life advocating for the Northeast Valley, fighting for a fair share for our communities and residents,'' Bocanegra (D-Pacoima) said in a statement. ''It is because of my deep commitment to you, residents of the 39th Assembly District, that I have made the decision to resign from the State Assembly, effective September 1, 2018, and immediately resign my leadership position. I am also suspending my campaign and will not run for re-election.''
The statement came as The Times was preparing a story reporting that six women had accused him of sexual harassment.
4. Democrat congressional candidate David Alcon is arrested for stalking in New Mexico. (11/13/2017)
The Washington Free Beacon reports:
A Democrat running for Congress in New Mexico's second district was found and arrested at an apartment complex in Albuquerque on Friday, nearly two weeks after an arrest warrant was issued for him.
David Alcon is now behind bars after a woman accused him of stalking her, according to local station KRQE News 13.
The woman, who attended a Halloween party at a hotel in Santa Fe on Oct. 28, said she started receiving persistent text messages from Alcon'--one with a picture of his genitals, some suggesting that he was watching her, and others professing his love for her.
5. 10 women accuse Colorado Democratic lawmaker Steve Lebsock of sexual harassment. (11/10/2017)
CBS Denver reports:
A former Democratic legislative aide is now the tenth woman to accuse Rep. Steve Lebsock, a Democrat representing Thornton, of sexual harassment.
On Friday, public radio station KUNC published a blistering report in which nine women, including Rep. Faith Winter, a Democrat representing Westminter, accused Lebsock of sexual harassment.
Winter says Lebsock became aggressively lewd at a bar on the last day of the 2016 legislative session when he found out that Winter's husband was out of town.
6. Colorado Democratic House SpeakerCrisanta Duran accused of 'covering up' sexual allegations against Democrat Steve Lebsock. (11/14/2017)
The Denver Post reports:
Colorado's top Democratic lawmaker is under fire for how she handled a colleague's sexual harassment complaint against a member of their party and now faces calls for an independent investigation.
House Speaker Crisanta Duran appointed Rep. Steve Lebsock, D-Thornton, as chairman of the Local Government Committee for the 2017-18 legislative session despite knowing that the fellow lawmaker made the allegation against him seven months earlier. The accusation became public Friday and was followed by harassment complaints from two other women.
Republican legislative leaders are demanding an investigation from the attorney general's office to address what one GOP lawmaker called a ''coverup.'' Others are calling for the speaker's resignation.
7. Minnesota Democratic lawmaker Dan Schoen resigns over sexual harassment allegations. (11/21/2017)
The MINNPOST reports:
DFL Sen. Dan Schoen's attorney, Paul Rogosheske, said the senator will resign in a Wednesday afternoon news conference. Schoen was facing mounting pressure to step down from top leaders in his own party, including Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk and DFL Gov. Mark Dayton.
On Nov. 8, MinnPost reported allegations from two women that Schoen, 42, had sexually harassed them. One of the women, Lindsey Port, a former DFL candidate for the House, said in 2015 Schoen came up from behind her at a campaign event and grabbed her buttocks, telling her she had a "good door-knocking ass." Schoen, a first-term senator, was serving his second term in the House at that time.
8. Third woman accuses California Democrat Sen. Tony Mendoza of sexual harassment. (11/16/2017)
The Sacramento Bee reports:
A third woman is alleging that Sen. Tony Mendoza behaved inappropriately toward her when she worked in his Capitol office seven years ago.
Haley Myers said she told the Assembly in 2010 that Mendoza engaged in behavior that she considers sexual harassment when she worked as a legislative aide for him in Sacramento.
9. Sexual harassment controversy threatens to ensnare California Democratic Senate leader Kevin de Le"n. (11/11/2017)
The Mercury News reports:
The controversy surrounding sexual harassment in the state Capitol deepened on Friday and threatened to ensnare one of the Legislature's leading Democrats, Kevin de Le"n, as questions swirled over when the Senate leader became aware of complaints against his weekday roommate.
The plot thickened after a lawyer for a fired Senate staffer told Capital Public Radio that her client and two other employees were handed termination letters in the same meeting in which they detailed inappropriate behavior by their boss, Sen. Tony Mendoza, toward a young female intern.
The attorney's account contradicted the timeline provided Thursday by De Le"n's office, raising questions about what the Senate leader, who is challenging U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, knew about the harassment allegations.
10. Democrat Randor commissioners president Philip Ahr charged on multiple counts of child pornography. (10/11/2017)
The Inquirer reports:
Philip Ahr has resigned as Radnor Township Board of Commissioners president for ''personal reasons,'' but will continue to serve as a commissioner, according to a resignation letter released Monday, nearly two weeks after he was charged with distributing and receiving child pornography.
Ahr, 66, of Bryn Mawr, was arrested and charged on Oct. 11 with numerous felony counts. Authorities said that since at least 2013, Ahr sent and received hundreds of images of child sexual abuse '-- some involving infants and toddlers, others depicting sadomasochistic abuse and abuse involving children and animals.
11. Woman claims New York Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo ignored her pleas to investigate one of his staffers who was allegedly sexually harassing her. (11/20/2017)
The Buffalo News reports:
What began as a ''flirty'' relationship between a state worker and a powerful official now threatens to ensnare the governor of New York.
Andrew M. Cuomo is named in a federal lawsuit that Lisa M. Cater, of Buffalo, filed after she heard some of Cuomo's top lieutenants praising Sam Hoyt upon his resignation last month as a gubernatorial confidante, even as probes into the former economic development official's alleged sexual harassment continued.
She alleges that Cuomo ignored her pleas to investigate her sexual harassment complaints against Hoyt, while Buffalo Republicans renewed their questions.
12. Democrat Rep. Calvin Smyre accused of sexual misconduct. (11/13/2017)
The Ledger-Enquirer reports:
A Fox News contributor and national Democratic party activist has alleged via social media that Columbus legislator Calvin Smyre sexually assaulted her in 1996 in Chicago.
Smyre, in a statement released on Sunday, strongly denies the accusation.
In a nine Tweet string on Friday, Jehmu Greene, who ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic National Committee chairperson earlier this year, accused Smyre, the dean of the Georgia General Assembly, of the crime during the national convention 21 years ago.
13. Florida Democratic Party President Sally Boynton Brown resigns amidst sexual harassment controversy. (11/20/2017)
Sunshine State News reports:
Florida Democratic Party president Sally Boynton Brown has resigned amidst a flurry of controversy when two former party staffers said she ''enabled'' FDP chairman Stephen Bittel's ''creepy'' and ''inappropriate'' behavior towards female staffers.
Boynton Brown made the announcement late Monday afternoon.
''After much prayerful consideration I tendered my resignation to Chairman Bittel and Vice-Chair Mount this afternoon,'' Boynton Brown wrote in an email to party leaders.
14. New Mexico Democratic legislator Sen. Michael Padilla accused of sexual harassment. (11/18/2017)
The Albuquerque Journal reports:
New Mexico state Sen. Michael Padilla says he is seeking advice from friends, family and advisers on whether to continue his campaign for lieutenant governor, amid calls for him to drop out due to decade-old sexual harassment allegations.
Padilla was accused in two federal lawsuits of harassing women while helping the city of Albuquerque overhaul a problem-plagued emergency call center in 2006. The city ended up settling ''sexually hostile work environment'' claims stemming from Padilla's six-week tenure as a supervisor.
He has denied accusations that he asked women on dates despite repeated rejections and made inappropriate comments, including saying that, in his home, ''Women stay home, make tortillas and have babies.''
15. Colorado Democratic Rep. Paul Rosenthal accused of sexual harassment and groping. (11/17/2017)
The Denver Post reports:
Eight months ago, toward the end of the legislative session, a Democratic policy aide reported concerns about harassment from Colorado state Rep. Paul Rosenthal to the House speaker's office.
The issue never rose to a formal complaint, but the Denver Democratic lawmaker later apologized and received materials counseling him about the General Assembly's workplace harassment policy.
The new details, described in interviews and confirmed by another Democratic lawmaker, raise more questions about Rosenthal's behavior amid a legislative investigation of a separate incident, one in which he allegedly groped and made unwanted advances toward another gay man at a 2012 political event when he was a candidate.
16. Illinois Democratic Sen.Ira Silverstein accused of sexual harassment. (10/31/2017)
CBS Chicago reports:
A political activist has accused Illinois State Sen. Ira Silverstein (D-Chicago) of sexually harassing her while the two were working on legislation to help crime victims last year.
During a House committee hearing about sexual harassment by lawmakers, lobbyists, and staffers in Springfield, Mothers on a Mission to Stop Violence founder Denise Rotheimer detailed a pattern of harassment by Silverstein, accusing him of invading her privacy.
''He would Facebook me at midnight, call me at midnight,'' she said. ''You have no idea the torment.''
17. Missouri Democratic Rep. Josh Peters accused of sexual harassment. (01/25/2017)
The Kansas City Star reports:
A Democratic state senator from University City is accusing a legislative colleague of touching her inappropriately shortly after the annual State of the Judiciary address Tuesday morning in the Missouri House.
Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal discussed the allegations during Senate debate of a right to work bill, saying Democratic state Rep. Josh Peters grabbed her by the arms, called her ''boo,'' and later called her a ''bitch.'' The Senate speech followed a tweet earlier in the day in which she said, ''Rep. Josh Peters, you do not have a right to touch me, nor call me 'Boo.' We don't have a relationship where you get to put your hands on me.''
18. Nevada Democratic Sen. Mark Manendo resigns amid numerous sexual harassment allegations. (07/18/2017)
KTNV reports:
State Sen. Mark Manendo, D-Las Vegas, has resigned following an independent investigation into sexual harassment allegations.
Senate Majority Leader Aaron D. Ford ordered the investigation during the 2017 legislative session after complaints against Senator Manendo were brought to his attention on April 27. On May 1, the law firm of Van Dermyden Maddux began its investigation. The same week, Manendo denied the accusations.
The firm concluded its investigation on July 13 after completing interviews with 58 individuals, including Manendo.
19. Oklahoma Democratic lawmakerWill Fourkiller accused of sexual harassment. (01/10/2017)
NewsOK reports:
A second state representative will be investigated by the special House committee that is looking into sexual harassment complaints made against current members, the committee's chairman revealed Tuesday.
The complaint against Will Fourkiller, D-Stilwell, was made in April 2015 and involved a high school page, The Oklahoman has learned. Fourkiller, 44, confirmed Tuesday afternoon he had been told about it in 2015.
20. Oregon Democratic lawmakerDavid Gomberg accused of inappropriately touching women. (10/30/2017)
Oregon Lives reports:
State Rep. David Gomberg said in a newsletter released Sunday that he is sorry for offending two women who years ago accused him of violating their personal boundaries and that he is humiliated the news went public.
Gomberg told The Oregonian/OregonLive the complaints against him involved "inappropriate humor or inappropriate touching," invasion of "personal space" and hugging.
21. Former Washington Democratic lawmakerBrendan Williams accused of sexual harassment. (11/01/2017)
The Seattle Times reports:
Three women have accused a former Washington state lawmaker of sexual harassment and assault during his time in the Legislature.
Two allegations against former Democratic Rep. Brendan Williams came in Facebook posts written by women following a story Tuesday by the Northwest News Network and The News Tribune/Olympian about allegations of sexual harassment at the Capitol. A third woman said she was a House intern when Williams made an unwelcome sexual advance.
A fourth woman, Olympia City Councilmember Jessica Bateman, said Wednesday that Williams kissed her against her wishes after a political meeting in 2015, after he had left the Legislature.
22. Connecticut Democratic councilmanScott Chamberlainresigns after 'furry' profile revealed. (09/08/2017)
The New York Daily News reports:
Democrat Scott Chamberlain has been on the New Milford town council since his election in 2015, though will leave the position by Monday after screenshots of his sofurry.com page circulated online.
The website hosts profiles for members of the furry fandom, a group of people who create anthropomorphic animal avatars for themselves and occasionally dress up as the characters to meet in person.
Many furries also have a sexual fetish involving the costumes, though Chamberlain insisted to the Danbury News Times his own participation in the fandom had ''nothing to do with sex; it's an interest in cartoon animals.''
23. Florida Democratic Sen. Jeff Clemens resigns over sexual misconduct. (10/27/2017)
Politico reports:
The incoming Florida Senate Democratic leader abruptly resigned Friday and acknowledged he's been in therapy after admitting to an extramarital affair with a lobbyist.
State Sen. Jeff Clemens' decision to quit office came less than a day after Politico Florida first reported his tryst, prompting Republicans to accuse him of abusing his position of power while calls poured in from fellow Democrats who said it wasn't an isolated incident.
As pressure mounted, Clemens took down his social media accounts on Twitter and Facebook and then called it quits at 5 p.m. Friday.
24. Ohio Democrat governor candidate Justice William O'Neill brags about his sexual history on Facebook. (11/18/2017)
The Washington Post reports:
An Ohio Supreme Court justice who recently declared his intention to run for governor faced widespread condemnation '-- and even some calls to resign '-- after he boasted about his sexual history while defending ''heterosexual males.''
Justice William O'Neill posted a statement Friday morning on Facebook about what he described as the ''national feeding frenzy about sexual indiscretions,'' and in doing so disclosed details about his sexual history.
''As a candidate for Governor let me save my opponents some research time,'' O'Neill wrote. ''In the last fifty years I was sexually intimate with approximately 50 very attractive females. It ranged from a gorgeous blonde who was my first true love and we made passionate love in the hayloft of her parents barn and ended with a drop dead gorgeous red head from Cleveland.
Below are the archived searches on cnn.com for the different Democrat sex scandals showing that the network did not cover the specific story.
BTC
How the scam works-MARGIN!
Adam,
Wish to remain anonymous.
You were right - I didn't take your ramblings about Bitcoin seriously calling it a scam, but this week all the pieces of the puzzle came together, it is a mountain of fraud.
Please take a moment to check out this guy (not me) on Medium and Twitter for an extremely thorough analysis of this scam. This doesn't just affect Bitcoin - it's all the shitcoins.
https://medium.com/@bitfinexed/
https://twitter.com/Bitfinexed
tl;dr - 3 individuals have fraudulently moved the price of bitcoin from ~$1000 to nearly $9000 this year alone - Giancarlo Devasini, Bitfinex Chief Financial Officer (convicted fraudster), Phil Potter, Chief Strategy Officer of Bitfinex (ex Wall Street), and Jean Louis van der Velde (CEO).
My summary below to save you pouring through all the articles, though I highly recommend you do. Reply to this email if you want further details over the phone.
Bitfinex - the world's largest cryptocurrency exchange, lost their banking license with Wells Fargo in April. Instead of dealing with customers money in USD, they have been using "Tether" - another cryptocurrency "tethered" to the USD, claimed to be backed 1:1 by US dollars, ticker symbol USDT (very crafty choice of name mind you).
In April, when Bitfinex lost their banking license, there was ~$10m of Tether in circulation. 6 months later, as of writing this email, there is $680m of Tether on issue. They have not had a banking license during this time. Where did this extra $670m come from? You guessed it, printed out of thin air. Tether has never been audited - there is zero evidence they have any currency in reserve.
Ready for the kicker? The same parent company, directed by the same 3 guys, owns Bitfinex (the exchange), and Tether (the fake money), and Blockstream (the developers of the Bitcoin protocol)
It gets better.
Every time Bitcoin starts to tank, they mint tens of millions of dollars of new Tether, then open margin long positions (i.e. with leverage), on their own exchange, and skyrocket the price of Bitcoin. Hundreds of millions of fake money, combined with leverage, creates billions of dollars of upward pressure on the market. Shills will tell you "but Bitcoin market cap is hundreds of billiions of dollars, $700m won't do anything". Anyone with ANY trading experience can tell you that a small amount of liquidity is able to move prices in a large way. If they can print currency, then leverage it, they can set the price to whatever they want.
But wait, there's more!
People say there's so much adoption, new investor interest, "institutional money" coming in, and point to the volume of trading on exchanges. Bitfinex have been caught wash trading - literally swapping money back and forth with themselves to create fake volume on the exchange.
Not even done yet.
They've also been caught importing the order book from other exchanges to their own to inflate the credibility. When someone executes even a tiny market sell order (in normal terms "I'll take what you've got at whatever price") it burns through the order book and causes a flash crash of the price. They also know this and can tank the price at any time they want, because they print the currency.
How does this all come crumbling down?
When people finally call bullshit on Tether, no one wants to be caught with a worthless hot potato. There is literally no way to exchange Tether for real USD - it's in plain english in their terms of service, Tethers are as worthless as carwash tokens, there is no way to redeem them for real money.
So if you're stuck with Tether, and can't trade for USD, what's the only way to get rid of them? Buy more Bitcoin, then shift the Bitcoin to another exchange that has real USD to cash out. What happens? Bitcoin prices goes up even more wildly.
As of writing this email, Bitcoin is edging on $9000. The real traders are already out, it's only the amateurs left over. Real traders will not deal with an asset this volatile that they can't hedge against. There is probably only days left in it. Their latest stalling tactic is taking the exchange down "for maintenance".
This is exactly how Mt Gox collapsed in 2014.
Keep up the show.
High-Speed Traders In Search of New Markets Jump Into Bitcoin
Sat, 25 Nov 2017 13:52
Electronic-trading firms that have already transformed markets from stocks to foreign exchange to futures are diving into bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.
Five of the biggest electronic traders in the world are already trading bitcoin. Jump Trading LLC, Tower Research Capital LLC and Hudson River Trading are in the market, according to people familiar with the matter, along with Susquehanna International Group LLP. DRW Holdings LLC has been trading digital currencies since 2014, giving it a head start on competitors.
High-speed firms have remade virtually every other electronic market, turning transactions over to algorithms and measuring market moves in milliseconds. But low volatility and trading volumes have eroded profits, pushing them to look for new opportunities. Bitcoin, which has huge price swings, rose to a new high above $8,000 on Monday. And with CME Group Inc. and Cboe Global Markets Inc. poised to offer bitcoin futures contracts, it will get easier for pros to place bets, either on gains or losses.
''What's surprising me is how polarizing bitcoin is,'' said Bobby Cho, head of over-the-counter trading at Cumberland, a division of DRW. ''Everyone has a viewpoint on bitcoin, whereas with other asset classes you either care or you don't care.''
They're The Fastest Traders, So Why Aren't They Thriving?
Cumberland mainly trades bitcoin and ethereum, but also transacts in zcash, bitcoin cash, ethereum classic and monero. Cumberland specializes in over-the-counter trading, helping institutions and individuals buy or sell large amounts of cryptocurrencies with a minimum trade size of $100,000. It also does algorithmic and electronic trading on digital-currency exchanges.
The crypto arm of Chicago-based DRW is extending its reach. Cumberland has counterparties in more than 35 different countries. It opened a desk in Singapore this week, adding to its locations in Chicago and London. Cumberland has about 15 employees in total, with more hiring on the way. Cho declined to comment on the division's financials.
Jump has a team of more than 10 people focused on bitcoin trading, according to a person familiar with the matter. Susquehanna called itself an ''active participant'' in spot bitcoin trading, in a letter to regulators advocating an exchange-traded fund based on bitcoin, the Winklevoss Bitcoin Trust, which was rejected in March.
DV Trading LLC, a Chicago-based proprietary firm, trades about a dozen cryptocurrencies on exchanges, and trades bitcoin and monero over-the-counter. About 10 people work in the one-year-old division, known as DV Chain.
GTS Securities LLC, Virtu Financial Inc. and HC Technologies are among the electronic traders sizing up opportunities, without jumping into the market just yet, according to people familiar with the matter.
Virtu is considering making markets in bitcoin futures on CME and Cboe, according to a person familiar with the firm's plans.
Representatives for those three firms, as well as Jump and Hudson River Trading, declined to comment. Tower didn't respond to requests for comment.
Still, there are reasons to be careful and some firms are moving slowly. Lack of regulation and a nascent market infrastructure are among their reasons for caution. Data feeds from cryptocurrency exchanges are often unreliable, unlike the streams of information that official stock exchanges including the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq Stock Market sell to traders.
Reliability of technology is also a potential issue. One of the exchanges that CME wants to use to price bitcoin futures contracts, San Francisco-based Kraken, experienced an outage last week, for instance. Sometimes exchanges become inaccessible when traffic is too high.
''It is certainly a challenge to connect to a lot of these exchanges that are really no more than websites written by web developers,'' said Garrett See, chief executive officer of DV Chain.
The cryptocurrency field requires a new playbook. Certain strategies that are commonplace in financial markets don't work when trading cryptocurrencies. In futures and equities, for instance, traders try to locate their systems near an exchange's servers to get the fastest possible access to the market. For digital currency exchanges that exist mainly online, however, that's not as doable.
And then there's the reputation-related hang-up: for all its sparkle, bitcoin is used for payment of illicit activities including drug dealing, money laundering and human trafficking, said Roberto Rigobon, professor of applied economics at the MIT Sloan School of Management, and a Bloomberg View contributor.
''Given bitcoin is the unit of account of many illegal activities, there could be a reputational cost'' to any firms that hold it as part of their business, Rigobon said. ''I understand the opportunities are there. But I think these organizations are not paying attention to the risk.''
Hedge funds are looking at cryptocurrency trading too, albeit with some trepidation. Man Group said it will add bitcoin to its ''investment universe'' once CME offers futures. John Burbank's Passport Capital has client money invested in cryptocurrencies and is looking to expand, assessing various trading strategies, according to a person familiar with the matter. A representative for Passport Capital declined to comment.
This openness to explore so far stands in contrast to some major financial institutions like JPMorgan Chase & Co., whose Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon called bitcoin ''a fraud,'' and Credit Suisse Group AG CEO Tidjane Thiam, who called it ''the very definition of a bubble.''
Still, for high-speed traders, it may be impossible to ignore.
''This is a place where sophisticated players can come in and get a return adding liquidity,'' said Chad Cascarilla, CEO of Paxos. ''There aren't a lot of those places any more.''
'-- With assistance by Hema Parmar, Brian Louis, and Matthew Leising
(Corrects 18th paragraph to show Man Group said it will add bitcoin to its ''investment universe''. )
Net Neutrality
Investigation of fake net neutrality foes has been stymied by the FCC, New York AG Eric Scheiderman says - The Washington Post
Sat, 25 Nov 2017 13:43
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai. (Aaron P. Bernstein/Reuters)
The reports started trickling out in May, in the weeks after the Federal Communications Commission had begun soliciting public comments on a proposal to repeal net neutrality rules that govern the flow of information on the Internet.
A large number of messages lambasting the Obama-era regulation began appearing on the FCC's public forum with the same text. While it is not unusual for commenters to use form letters provided by activist groups, people began complaining they hadn't submitted the comments that carried their names and identifying information.
They were being impersonated.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman started to investigate after noticing many of these comments involved people in New York. There was an unexpected roadblock along the way: the FCC declined to cooperate with his office's investigation, he said, rebuffing requests for logs and other records associated with the comments.
The disclosure the FCC had denied Schneiderman's request was made in an open letter he wrote to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai this week.
Schneiderman wrote that the FCC's public comment process for the regulation change, which is required by law, ''has been corrupted by the fraudulent use of Americans' identities.''
The FCC has unveiled a plan to repeal net neutrality, or the idea that Internet service providers can't block or favor websites. See what this means for you. (Jhaan Elker,Brian Fung/The Washington Post)
''Such conduct likely violates state law '-- yet the FCC has refused multiple requests for crucial evidence in its sole possession that is vital to permit that law enforcement investigation to proceed,'' he wrote. ''In doing so, the perpetrator or perpetrators attacked what is supposed to be an open public process by attempting to drown out and negate the views of the real people, businesses, and others who honestly commented on this important issue.''
The letter has brought renewed scrutiny to what Schneiderman, as well as other researchers, believe may be hundreds of thousands of fake comments supporting the FCC's proposed rule change. The accusations have raised questions about the integrity of another public forum, this one run by the federal government, in a moment of growing national concern for the ways in which social media can be exploited for political purposes.
The generic text of the comment in question '-- ''The unprecedented regulatory power the Obama Administration imposed,'' it begins '-- appears in some 800,000 of the 22 million comments filed with the FCC. It is unknown how many are fraudulent. The attorney general's office said there were some indications some of the names appeared to overlap with names released in past data breaches.
Schneiderman said he had made at least nine requests for records from the FCC between June and November that have gone unanswered. A freelance reporter, Jason Prechtel, says he has been similarly stymied; he has filed a lawsuit against the FCC after it has not fulfilled a Freedom of Information request he filed requesting data about the commenters.
[FCC net neutrality process 'corrupted' by fake comments and vanishing consumer complaints, officials say]
Two members of Congress, Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) and Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.), have called for an investigation into what the FCC said was a cyber-hack that brought down its commenting site in May after a flood of commenters were prompted by HBO host John Oliver to visit the site.
In a statement on Wednesday, the FCC dismissed Schneiderman's assertions as ''inaccurate,'' but did not give specifics.
''This so-called investigation is nothing more than a transparent attempt by a partisan supporter of the Obama Administration's heavy-handed Internet regulations to gain publicity for himself,'' spokesman Mark Wigfield said in a statement.
The FCC said the majority of suspicious activity on its comment process were from those supporting the Obama-era rules, including 7.5 million copies of another form message it said came from a fake email generator and 400,000 comments in support of net neutrality came from one address in Russia. A conservative group, the National Legal and Policy Center, found 1.3 million came from addresses in France, Russia and Germany and suspicious Internet domains after it analyzed the public comments, according to Fortune.
Schneiderman and other critics of the fraudulent public comments emphasized their critiques had less to do with the messages' political content than the process itself: fraudulent comments muddied the debate no matter where they fell on the political spectrum.
''We've been very clear '-- they should have addressed fraudulent comments on either side. They're creating confusion,'' said Evan Greer, campaign director of Fight for the Future, a nonprofit that opposes changing the net neutrality rule. ''The issue is about the integrity of the process. They weren't even trying to maintain the integrity of the process and that's why there's all these questions.''
The FCC said it did not purge form letters because it did not have the resources to investigate the comments that were filed.
Reporters started noticing the series of identical comments that were critical of the Obama-era regulation just days after the public comment process opened.
While it is normal for activist groups to create petitions to allow people to easily endorse generic statements on government forums, people began finding their own names or those of relatives that were deceased on comments they hadn't endorsed, Greer said. A couple dozen people signed a letter saying their names and addresses were used to submit fake comments without their permission; others have come out in news reports saying their names were wrongfully used. Fight for the Future set up a site to help people easily search for their name in the FCC's comments.
[Lawmaker: Russian trolls trying to sow discord in NFL kneeling debate]
The text of the form comment appears to originate from a campaign organized by a conservative group called the Center For Individual Freedom.
''The unprecedented regulatory power the Obama Administration imposed on the Internet is smothering innovation, damaging the American economy and obstructing job creation,'' the text reads. ''I urge the Federal Communications Commission to end the bureaucratic regulatory overreach of the Internet known as Title II and restore the bipartisan light-touch regulatory consensus that enabled the Internet to flourish for more than 20 years.''
The group, which did not respond to an immediate request for comment, has said it does not know who filed the comments under other people's names without their knowledge, according to Ars Technica.
The FCC's plan to repeal so-called the net neutrality regulation, a draft of which was revealed this week, has raised concerns from some activist and consumer groups. The new rules would give broadband providers a greater degree of control over Internet content, as well as the speed at which the content can be transmitted to customers, as long as the companies adhere to new transparency guidelines.
Under the 2015 regulation, Internet service providers are prohibited from selectively blocking or slowing websites and rewarding others with preferential download speeds.
A study funded by the telecom industry lobbying group Broadband for America found 60 percent of the comments on the FCC's site were against the repeal of net neutrality rules. The number of ''unique comments'' '-- those that are not form notes '-- were overwhelmingly against repealing net neutrality regulations by a ratio of more than 73 to one.
Correction, Nov. 23, 2017: An earlier version of this article misidentified John Oliver as Comedy Central host. He is a host on HBO. The story has since been updated.
Read more:
FCC plan would give Internet providers power to choose the sites customers see and use
It's not just net neutrality: The FCC could also relax one of broadcast media's biggest rules
Poppie$
An F-22 Just Blew Up a Drug Lab During Its First Combat Mission in Afghanistan
Sat, 25 Nov 2017 13:33
U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Alex Fox Echols III
The F-22 Raptor, possibly the most advanced fighter plane in the world, just bombed a drug lab in Afghanistan. The incident marked the first time that the F-22 has dropped bombs in anger. But a larger question overshadows the airstrike: Is it really necessary to use a plane that costs nearly $70,000 per hour to bomb an undefended drug factory?
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The bombing was part of Operation Jagged Edge, a campaign to attack Taliban drug production. Heroin is one of the main moneymakers for the Taliban, who use it to fund their guerrilla war against the Afghan government and its American backers. Most of this heroin is funneled to Europe and Canada, with only a small amount reaching the United States. According to U.S. Forces Afghanistan Gen. John Nicholson, there are between 400 and 500 drug production sites in country at any one time.
Here's video from the bombing:
The military has wanted to go after these facilities for some time, but the rules of engagement say air power can only be used only to defend Afghan troops. These rules were recently expanded to allow U.S. forces greater latitude in target planning, hence Jagged Knife. According to Defense News, the operation destroyed 10 drug facilities in one night.
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The use of a F-22 Raptor to bomb a drug site was reportedly driven by several factors. One, the targets were in an area with civilians nearby, and that required a precision weapon with a small explosive payload. The Small Diameter Bomb, a 250-lb. precision-guided bomb that can fly more than 45 miles to strike targets, was the obvious and perhaps only choice for the task. Here's video of the SDB loaded on a F-22.
The problem with the Small Diameter Bomb is that only two aircraft, the F-22 and F-15 Strike Eagle, are cleared to use it. In time the Air Force will fit the SDB to all of its tactical aircraft, but for now it's just these two, and USAF says the F-15E wasn't available at the time.
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If you follow the Air Force, all of this more or less makes sense. But stepping back a bit, one has to wonder: Given that the Air Force has been in Afghanistan for 16 years fighting an enemy without advanced air defenses and fighter cover, why doesn't it have a smaller, cheaper fighter that can deliver the bombs? Wasn't there a better way to do this?
The F-22 Raptor costs $68,362 an hour to fly. A trip from the United Arab Emirates where the F-22 was based to Helmand Province where the bombing happened is at least a four-hour round trip. Add in the cost of tanker support and the total cost to bomb undefended two buildings could have approached $400,000, weapons cost not included. At that rate, bombing 500 drug labs would cost the United States $200 million. While nobody is talking about making the F-22 America's #1 drug fighter, that number is illustrative of what kind of costs we're talking about when we fly advanced jets and how they can quickly spiral out of control.
Embraer/Sierra Nevada A-29 Super Tucano releasing a laser-guided bomb during the U.S. Air Force's OA-X competition.U.S. Air Force Photo by Ethan D. Wagner
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Is there a smarter way to deal with these drug labs? Among the aircraft taking part in Jagged Knife were Afghan Air Force A-29 Super Tucano light attack aircraft. Prop-driven and capable of carrying precision bomb loads, the A-29 is perfect for low-end conflicts like Afghanistan. It costs just $1,000 an hour to fly, or about one and a half percent the cost of the F-22. The U.S. Air Force has nothing even remotely like them...for now.
A new combat aircraft evaluation program will change that. Observation Attack Experimental program, or OA-X, is currently evaluating four light attack jets and will likely buy 300 of them for Air Force, boosting its ability to fight low-intensity wars. The A-29 is just one of the candidates for the OA-X program, and it will carry the Small Diameter Bomb.
The Air Force is caught in an existential dilemma. Air power is one of America's most powerful and credible conventional deterrents, made convincing by the large number of highly advanced fighters and bombers in the arsenal. Aircraft such as the A-29 aren't frightening to countries such as Russia or North Korea, but they are needed in places like Syria and Afghanistan.
Without an inexhaustible budget and the inability to see the future, the Air Force has chosen to maintain a force of high-end aircraft and accept they will be used in low-end fights. The result: occasionally questionable uses of airpower, such as bombing drug factories with F-22 Raptors. However, like many of the armed services, it is dawning on the USAF that America's run of small wars likely isn't ending anytime soon, and it would be wise to have a cheaper, more sustainable solution in the service's quiver.
Read more at Defense News.
STORIES
The Gathering Storm in the Western Pacific | Power Line
Thu, 30 Nov 2017 15:21
The South China Morning Post, one of the favorite go-to sources for my old professor of grand strategy Harold Rood, had an interesting article about China and North Korea a couple days ago'--and notice how even the Post headline editors aren't buying the official story:
Main link between China and North Korea to be cut when Friendship Bridge closes 'for repairs'
The closure of the Sino-North Korean Friendship Bridge in Dandong, Liaoning province will only be ''temporary'' as the North Korean side carries out maintenance, foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a press conference on Friday.
Traffic will resume after the repairs are finished, Geng said.
The 944-metre-long bridge linking North Korea's light industrial centre Sinuiju to Dandong over the Yalu River has both road and rail lines. It is the route of 80 per cent of trade and a large amount of personal travel between the neighbours.
Geng did not give the date for the closure or an estimate for how long it last, nor did he specify whether it would affect road or rail travel or both. . .
Pyongyang has begun to pull back thousands of its nationals working in China, well ahead of Beijing's deadline to close all North Korean businesses or joint venture by January 8 next year.
This is just the kind of thing, Prof. Rood used to point out, that should be watched closely, as a possible step toward ''something happening.'' You'd almost think that China might want to prevent a flood of refugees from North Korea surging across their border.
Then there's this:
U.S., South Korea Plan Joint Military Exercises Next Month
Vigilant Ace 18 drills, to be held Dec. 4 to Dec. 8, will involve thousands of troops, 230 aircraft
SEOUL'--Military exercises involving hundreds of U.S. and South Korean aircraft will take place on the Korean Peninsula next month, the U.S. military said, in the latest show of force aimed at deterring North Korea.
The Vigilant Ace 18 drills, to be held Dec. 4 to Dec. 8, will involve a total of 12,000 U.S. personnel from the Air Force, Marines and Navy, and 230 U.S. and South Korean aircraft, Air Force spokeswoman Lt. Col. Michal Kloeffler-Howard said Friday.
Lt. Col. Kloeffler-Howard played down suggestions that the exercises were part of a stronger-than-usual military-pressure campaign against the North, characterizing them as ''annual'' and ''regular.''
''Annual'' and ''regular'' are just what you'd say before exercises became ''irregular.'' And why might we be out of ''strategic patience'' with the Norks? Well maybe this:
Newly Declassified Documents Reveal Failed N. Korea Strategy
By Daniel DePetris
The situation with North Korea was getting critical. The lights, to use the worn-out phrase, were blinking red.
The State Department, the Defense Department and the White House were increasingly concerned either that the North Korean regime was hiding components of its plutonium program from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), or that it would exploit any negotiating track to stall the international community while improving its nuclear capacity. The motives of the Chinese, Pyongyang's biggest trading partner and bankroller by far, were unclear'--adding more complication to a problem that was already far too complicated.
The years in question: 1991 and 1992, when the George H. W. Bush administration was desperately searching for a policy to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula and place Pyongyang under the IAEA's supervision. Thanks to the National Security Archive, last week's declassification of over a dozen Bush-era documents on the North Korean nuclear issue demonstrates the extent to which administration officials in Washington were frantically trying to come to a consensus policy on preventing Pyongyang from becoming a nuclear power.
The documents also show, however, how little the North Korea discussion within the U.S. government has changed over the last twenty-five to thirty years. The talking points, policy proposals and memos that circulated throughout the interagency are composed of positions that are virtually identical to the Trump administration's position today. Indeed, if one were to replace the names of North Korean, South Korean and American officials found in the documents with the officials who are now running things, you would find very little that is different.
Perhaps the Trump Administration and our Asian allies'--and maybe even China'--have come to the conclusion that this Groundhog Day policy needs to be abandoned, before the Norks are able to make us start looking for holes in the ground.
'Financial pressure will lead more women into prostitution over Christmas period' - expert - Independent.ie
Thu, 30 Nov 2017 15:18
Some women will turn to selling sex to help pay for Christmas (Stock photo)'Financial pressure will lead more women into prostitution over Christmas period' - expert
Independent.ie
Financial pressure will lead more women into prostitution over Christmas, an expert body has said.
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/news/financial-pressure-will-lead-more-women-into-prostitution-over-christmas-period-expert-36329185.html
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/politics/article36329179.ece/33a2c/AUTOCROP/h342/2015-09-27_iri_13180192_I1.JPG
Email Financial pressure will lead more women into prostitution over Christmas, an expert body has said.
There is expected to be a "surge" in women who will feel compelled to sell sex in the coming weeks to cope with the financial demands of the festive season, according to the agency.
Ruhama is a Dublin-based non-governmental organisation which supports around 300 women annually who have been affected by prostitution.
The majority of the women are involved in the so-called "indoor sex trade", and are in brothels, massage parlors, apartments and hotels, while one-third are involved in the on-street sex industry.
While it is difficult to know the amount of women involved in off-street prostitution, they said that typically more women will take to the streets to help fund financially-demanding occasions like Christmas and Holy Communions.
Ruth Breslin, Policy and Communications Manager with Ruhama, told Independent.ie: "The majority of Irish women who are involved in prostitution would be those who are on the street and some of them would be involved on and off in street prostitution for years so they might be known to us for a long time.
"If you look online there are hundreds of women advertised, so there are smaller numbers on the streets, those who are involved in street prostitution.
"Definitely over the years we would have noticed a surge at Christmas for women who might not consistently be involved in prostitution, they will go back onto the street at Christmas because they need a bit of extra cash.
"You would often see that there might be surges at other times, like Holy Communions, when women might just need extra money, they're not really seeing it as their job but as a way to get money.
"The profile the women we meet on the street is typically that they might have a lot of issues, such as addiction, mental health issues or debt problems.
"These are women who are in quite dire circumstances, they are probably quite marginalised and impoverished."
She also said that as it is a demand-driven industry, perhaps more men pay for sex at Christmas.
She said: "We have to bear in mind that there are buyers, it's a lucrative industry, if there's more women on the streets does that mean there's more buyers who are just hoping to treat themselves at Christmas?
"Most men don't buy sex but there are some who see it as the same as paying for any other service, they are very much treating the women as products."
Ms Breslin also spoke about the harrowing circumstances that see many women enter into the sex industry.
She said: "It's a very difficult issue, our position is that all of the women we support have been really exploited, many have been abused and experienced violence.
"Many come from marginalised backgrounds, others have been trafficked into it or pimped, so they didn't choose it as a job or a career path.
"There are a small number of women who would describe themselves as sex workers who see it as their job and how they want to make money but the women we support have been pushed into this."
She continued to say: "About a third or the women we are women we work with have been trafficked, usually from a poorer country than Ireland.
"People would have a good sense of what trafficking is but we still meet so many people who don't think it happens in Ireland.
"A lot of the women we support come from countries that are impoverished or where they faced violence and they relied on someone who promised to arrange a job for them in western Europe, working in restaurants or minding kids.
"Lots of them think it's a great opportunity for a better life and they take a chance but when they arrive here they are told by the person that in exchange for arranging things like their travel and documentation (which might be forged) they owe a vastly inflated sum.
"They may then be told that they have to pay this money back by working in a brothel."
Ms Breslin has spoken candidly about the horrific abuse and threats that many women involved in the sex trade here face.
She said: "The vast majority of women we have worked with have told us that at some point they have experienced violence - physical, emotional and/or sexual.
"They might experience violence or threats of violence from a pimp.
"Similarly, women who have been trafficked are often told that their trafficker has pictures of their family and knows where they live and if they go against them that their children and parents will pay the price.
"Women have been told if they try to escape then their kids will be kidnapped."
New legislation introduced in March decriminalises selling sex but made it illegal to pay for it, something Ruhama hopes will help women report attacks to the gardai.
Ms Breslin said: "Women on the street have told us that if they see a guard on the street they're no longer afraid because they know they won't be trying to arrest them, they're more comfortable and this will help them to report attacks and violence to the gardai.
"Tentatively, we feel there's more confidence in the gardai and this new law will help them to go after those who organise and control prostitution and those who buy it and not to criminalise individual women who work in the industry."
For more information about Ruhama, please visit hereOnline Editors
Chinese investors sue McAuliffe, Rodham over green-car investments - POLITICO
Thu, 30 Nov 2017 14:19
The suit is yet another headache for Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe as he mulls a potential presidential bid in 2020. | Cliff Owen/AP
The suit is the latest headache for the Virginia governor as he mulls a presidential bid.
By JOSH GERSTEIN
11/28/2017 01:22 PM EST
Updated 11/28/2017 03:01 PM EST
2017-11-28T03:01-0500 Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe and former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's brother Anthony Rodham are facing a $17 million fraud lawsuit from Chinese investors in Greentech Automotive, an electric car company that appears to be struggling to survive.
A group of 32 Chinese citizens filed the suit last week in Fairfax County, Virginia court, claiming that they were swindled out of about $560,000 apiece as a result of misrepresentations made by McAuliffe and Rodham'--two of the most prominent and politically connected proponents of the venture aimed at manufacturing electric cars in the U.S.
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The suit is yet another headache for McAuliffe as he mulls a potential presidential bid in 2020, buoyed in part by Democrats' strong showing in the state in the election earlier this month. McAuliffe confirmed last year that his business dealings with foreign nationals were under investigation by the FBI and federal prosecutors. It's unclear whether that probe involved Greentech or whether the inquiry is still ongoing.
The Chinese investors plowed their money into Greentech with the promise of winning permanent residency in the U.S. under a program that awards green cards to foreign-funded ventures that generate U.S. jobs. However, the suit contends that the investors now face the threat of deportation from the U.S. because the Department of Homeland Security has determined that Greentech did not generate the number of jobs required to sustain the number of visas issued through the so-called EB-5 program.
"Plaintiffs now face the prospect of having to uproot their families once again, with the expense and stress of deportation to China looming before them," the suit says, accusing McAuliffe, Rodham, Greentech founder Charles Xiaolin Wang and others of running a "scam."
McAuliffe and Rodham did several tours through China to seek investments in the electric car startup, the suit says. As brother-in-law of President Bill Clinton and as brother of the then-secretary of state'--Rodham appeared to serve as a means of attracting Chinese interest in the project. The suit contends that Rodham's involvement conveyed that the electric-car firm was politically-connected and likely to prosper.
"Defendants milked these connections in marketing materials," the suit says. "Defendants exploited those relationships to assure investors of both the success of the company and their ability to obtain U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services ("USCIS") approval of the visa applications."
A spokeswoman for McAuliffe, Crystal Carson, disputed the claims and noted that the governor gave up his role in the firm years ago.
"We strongly reject this baseless suit which has no merit whatsoever. The claims, which regurgitate old political attacks regarding a company that Governor McAuliffe left five years ago, were brought by a lawyer with conservative ties," Carson said. "We are confident it will be dismissed."
One of the attorneys who drafted the suit, Scott Abeles of Los Angeles-based Gerard Fox law, disputed any political motivation.
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"I represented the Chamber of Commerce once or twice...I'm not a conservative dude," he said in an interview Tuesday.
As McAuliffe prepared to run for Virginia governor, Greentech was a bright spot on his resume, combining entrepreneurial spirit with environmentalism and an effort to bring jobs to an impoverished area of Mississippi. A 2012 ribbon-cutting for the Mississippi factory drew former President Bill Clinton and Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour generated glowing press coverage.
However, the firm soon ran into trouble finding its footing. Production was repeatedly delayed. Hiring for the assembly line fell well short of the 350 jobs promised.
McAuliffe was once the largest individual investor in the company but stepped down as chairman in 2012 and sold his shares as he prepared to be sworn in as governor in 2014.
Once McAuliffe took office, bad publicity for the firm kept coming. It emerged that the Securities and Exchange Commission had an investigation into the company, although no charges were ever brought.
A Department of Homeland Security inspector general report issued in 2015 said USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas created "an appearance of favoritism and special access'' by responding to entreaties from McAuliffe and Rodham to speed up action on applications related to the project. The report did not accuse McAuliffe or Rodham of wrongdoing.
The Mississippi factory apparently closed in January. In July, the state's auditor said Greentech's employment in the state peaked at 143 and the firm now owes the state $6.4 million for failing to live up to promises it made to get a $5 million financing package from the government there.
Earlier this month Attorney General Jim Hood (D-Miss.) filed a lawsuit against the firm seeking about $3 million in damages, plus forfeiture of land used for the factory in Tunica.
Abeles said the Chinese involved in his suit approached his firm as a group, although the group grew somewhat before the case was filed.
"We had done one or two of these EB-5 cases out there in California," he said. "This group came to us."
A key challenge for the investors' suit will be proving that McAuliffe, Rodham or Wang should be individually liable for any losses. Typically, use of a corporation to solicit investments makes it difficult to recover against the people involved, but Abeles said the companies are little more than paper structures.
"As we see it, these people invested in Terry McAuliffe. They invested in Anthony Rodham. They invested in Charlie Wang," Abeles said. "More than the typical case, the individuals drove the bus here."
Greentech did not respond to messages seeking comment for this story. Wang and Rodham could not be reached for comment.
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'Jack-of-all-trades, master of none': Why Mashable flamed out - Digiday
Thu, 30 Nov 2017 14:17
Few images better capture the unfettered optimism and indignity of digital media than 2014 at South by Southwest, where a line of hoodie-wearing attendees snaked around the block at Mashable House, a pop-up lounge run by the tech news site, to get their picture taken with Grumpy Cat. Nearby, AOL ''digital prophet'' Shingy swung on a Mashable-branded wrecking ball.
It was also a good time to be at Mashable, when it was still true to its founding in 2005 by a 19-year-old Scot named Pete Cashmore as a blog about social media but showing big ambitions. Traffic was on the upswing. The company wasn't making fistfuls of profits, but it wasn't losing money, either. It had just closed its first round of funding, $13.3 million led by Updata Partners. Former New York Times assistant managing editor Jim Roberts had joined the company to lead a more ambitious editorial agenda.
Success in digital media requires doing a million things right, though, and Mashable seems to have fumbled a number of them. Former employees and observers cite a loss of editorial focus and unique identity, lack of financial controls, an ill-executed shift to video content and hesitance to diversify revenue away from the fickle ad market. Mashable wouldn't make executives available for this story.
BuzzFeed envy
All this time, people at Mashable were closely watching BuzzFeed, which like Mashable, started with a focus on light, sharable content, but had hired Ben Smith from Politico to build a serious newsgathering operation. The meme coverage that built Mashable was becoming commoditized. So Mashable used its new capital to hire Roberts and other pedigreed journalists.
Soon, there were stories on terrorism and Ukraine leading the homepage, a big change for a site better known for covering social media and internet memes. Whether it was the increased editorial resources, Facebook's generosity or both, Mashable's traffic soared to over 27 million monthly uniques in December 2015, according to comScore.
The shift was debated internally, though, and caused friction between Roberts' new hires and pre-existing staffers.
''It came from Pete on down '-- 'What's going to be our version of Ben Smith?''' a former insider said. '''They got Ben Smith, so we need someone,''' said another, describing the philosophy. '''They started BuzzFeed Studios; let's start Mashable Studios.' I'm surprised they didn't call it 'MashFeed' at some point.'' But as an ex-editorial staffer said, the pivot to general news made Mashable a ''jack-of-all-trades, master of none. Everyone was aware BuzzFeed was beating us on stuff, and the tech pubs didn't take us seriously.''
Doug Rozen, chief digital and innovation officer at OMD, said he sees small or midsize publishers run into trouble when they change their editorial mandate. Ambition is a good thing until it becomes a cover for trying to be everything to everyone. Mashable was serving a need as a go-to resource as social media marketing took off. But was it serving a need being yet another publication covering general news?
''It's good if it extends beyond the core, but it's hard when you keep changing the core,'' he said. ''One thing publishers need to do is work with their sales team to say they were going beyond their editorial core. Too often, publishers take for granted that if they created the news, the audience and the buyers would follow.''
Runaway expenses
In the early days, Mashable was like any scrappy startup, crammed in a small office, but with a camaraderie and sense of fun. People brought their dogs to the office. There was a Twitter feed devoted to a mouse that ran around the office. People applauded snarkily when someone left early. Still, the company was breaking even.
The company took a long time to take outside money, but once it did, everything changed. In 2014, armed with its first round of funding, Mashable started spending it. The thing about venture capital is, investors don't give it to companies to sit on it for a rainy day; they want it deployed '-- and fast.
Mashable moved into swank offices on Fifth Avenue near New York City's Union Square befitting a well-funded startup. The fully stocked kitchen had a cereal bar, snacks, fresh cheeses, beer on tap and a wine fridge. Like a lot of media companies, Mashable also opened an office in Los Angeles, where its video studio was housed. There was a living plant wall, with its own attendant. At its peak, the company had more than 300 people and was in seven countries, including the U.K., India and Australia.
''You had all this venture capital money flowing in, so media companies were acting like tech startups,'' said someone familiar with the company. Mashable was hawking its own tech platform, Velocity, which it used to figure out what topics were going viral. The idea was it would get brands and agencies to license Velocity. (VCs love recurring software licensing fees.)
Like many publishers, Mashable rose with Facebook and felt the pain when Facebook started sending it less traffic. In 2015, there was a Facebook correction. By June 2017, Mashable's traffic had declined to 13 million, less than half its peak. Mashable signaled its pivot to video in 2015 as the easy traffic from Facebook was starting to end and the display market was buckling under the weight of the Facebook-Google duopoly. But even here, insiders point to BuzzFeed as the impetus, with executives laser-focused on the success of Tasty, BuzzFeed's food video offshoot.
But Mashable soon ran into execution challenges. There were three groups creating video, all competing for attention in Facebook's news feed. The newsroom was making serious news videos, as a part of the general news mandate, but they weren't audience- and advertising-friendly. The company also would drop 30-second pre-roll ads in front of videos, which didn't help viewership, an ex-staffer said. But with video, as with text, much bigger competitors dwarfed Mashable. For example, in the 90 days that ended on Sept. 21, Mashable had 339 million video views on Facebook to BuzzFeed's 11.9 billion and HuffPost's 771 million, according to Tubular Labs.
Return to roots
Mashable's general news experiment ended in 2016 as it replaced Roberts and cut an estimated 30 staffers while reverting to its core coverage of subjects like tech, web culture and social media. The company was fresh from raising $15 million led by Turner, its third round, and had a deal to develop video for Turner.
Like most digital media, Mashable was all but entirely reliant on advertising revenue. It finally got into commerce content earlier this year, long after other publishers made the move. By the time it moved into general news, BuzzFeed had a three-year head start. That hesitation and earlier missteps cost Mashable. In addition to Roberts, a string of top executives left in the past couple years, including CRO Seth Rogin, chief strategy officer Adam Ostrow and CMO Stacy Martinet, which doesn't help a company's ability to hone its message. It grew revenue 36 percent to $42 million in 2016, but not enough to offset $10 million in losses, according to The Wall Street Journal. It made progress across several areas, including vertical video formats that mimicked Snapchat, winning a 2017 Digiday Award as ''most innovative publisher'' as voted by industry judges.
But the numbers didn't work. Last week, the Journal reported that Mashable would be sold to Ziff Davis for $50 million, one-fifth of its one-time value and below what CNN was believed to have offered for it in 2012.
Perhaps one of the lessons is, some media companies aren't meant to become huge in the first place. Cashmore is given credit for having a great idea in Mashable, but even fans acknowledge he was an inexperienced founder, described as quiet and focused on the product side, in contrast to the more public-facing digital media CEOs like Jonah Peretti of BuzzFeed and Jim Bankoff of Vox Media. Once it took funding, Mashable faced big expectations to return profits for investors, but struggled to figure out what it was.
In fairness, Mashable wasn't alone in chasing funding on unrealistic growth promises. And it likely will not be alone in facing the music when the metric for success is no longer the ability to raise another venture round but the mastery of finding a sustainable business model. With Facebook handing out referral traffic to publishers left and right, an insider said, ''It really seemed like there was this moment when Mashable, Vox and Mic were going to become the next New York Times.''
The rise and decline have left current and former employees angry, sad and frustrated about a former media darling they believe helped define digital publishing.
''It gets me in the door,'' said Josh Catone, who was executive director of editorial projects at Mashable until 2014. ''I think people associate it with, 'They know digital media.' I don't know how long that lasts, though.''
This post was updated to include Mashable winning a 2017 Digiday Award.
Facebook's Training A.I. to Spot ISIS, al Qaeda Posts'--Nazis Come Next - WSJ
Thu, 30 Nov 2017 14:16
Assailed for not doing enough to combat online misinformation and extremism, Facebook Inc. says it is making big strides in one area: removing propaganda posts and accounts from Islamic State and al Qaeda.
The social media company said Tuesday that it has in recent months focused on training artificial intelligence software to identify extremist content specifically from those two terrorist groups to hone its automated technology. Facebook says that has boosted the speed with which it removes posts and accounts from the groups...
Surrender Your Guns, Police Tell Hawaiian Medical Marijuana Patients | Leafly
Thu, 30 Nov 2017 14:15
The Honolulu Police Department has sent letters to local medical marijuana patients ordering them to ''voluntarily surrender'' their firearms because of their MMJ status.
This may be the first time a law enforcement agency has sought out state-registered medical marijuana patients and ordered them to surrender their guns.
The letters, signed by Honolulu Police Chief Susan Ballard, inform patients that they have 30 days upon receipt of the letter to transfer ownership or turn in their firearms and ammunition to the Honolulu Police.
The existence of the notices, first reported early today by Russ Belville at The Marijuana Agenda podcast, was confirmed to Leafly News this afternoon by the Honolulu Police Department.
The startling order comes just three months after the state's first medical marijuana dispensary opened in Hawaii's capital city.
Here is the full text of one of the letters:
Medical marijuana patients who are also registered firearm owners are receiving these letters from the Honolulu police. (Courtesy of Russ Belville, The Marijuana Agenda)The clash between state marijuana laws and federal firearms law'--which prohibits all cannabis patients and consumers from purchasing firearms'--is a growing point of legal contention in the 29 states with medical marijuana laws.
The Honolulu letters, however, may represent the first time a law enforcement agency has proactively sought out state-registered medical marijuana patients and ordered them to surrender their guns.
RELATED STORY
First Medical Cannabis Dispensary Opening in Hawaii
Federal law clearly prohibits anyone who consumes cannabis'--for any reason, and regardless of state legality'--from purchasing a firearm. On the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) Form 1140-0020, which must be completed by firearm purchasers, applicants are asked if they are ''an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance.''
In case it's unclear to the applicant, the ATF includes this warning in bold type:
Warning: The use or possession of marijuana remains unlawful under Federal law regardless of whether it has been legalized or decriminalized for medicinal or recreational purposes in the state where you reside.
RELATED STORY
Can Medical Marijuana Patients Legally Own Guns?
Federal Court Upheld the BanMany state laws allow patients to medicate with cannabis, but the federal prohibition on cannabis consumption crosses that legality when it comes to firearms. The supremacy of federal law on this point was upheld last year by the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals.
''It may be argued that medical marijuana users are less likely to commit violent crimes, as they often suffer from debilitating illnesses, for which marijuana may be an effective palliative,'' the federal ruling stated. ''But those hypotheses are not sufficient to overcome Congress's reasonable conclusion that the use of such drugs raises the risk of irrational or unpredictable behavior with which gun use should not be associated.''
RELATED STORY
Guns or Cannabis: Which Is More Strictly Regulated?
State Law AppliesThe Honolulu Police Department cites state law, not federal law, as the basis for the order. ''Under the provisions of the Hawaii Revised Statutes, Section 134-7(a), you are disqualified from firearms ownership,'' says the letter.
Curiously, HRS 134-7(a) makes no specific mention of a person's medical marijuana status. It's a blanket statement about federal law:
134-7(a) No person who is a fugitive from justice or is a person prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition under federal law shall own, possess, or control any firearm or ammunition therefor.
Until now, the clash between firearm ownership and patient status has been largely avoided through a de facto ''don't ask, don't tell'' policy. Firearms purchasers are forced to either lie on the ATF form (a federal offense), or tell themselves they're technically honest'--the ATF form asks, ''Are you an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana,'' and those who quit cannabis yesterday technically were but no longer are unlawful users of marijuana.
RELATED STORY
Do Medical Marijuana Patients Give Up Their Right to Bear Arms?
A number of states issue medical cannabis patient cards or authorizations but do not keep a searchable database of patient names. In some medical cannabis states, like Arizona, firearm purchasers are not required to register with the state.
Hawaii, though, maintains an electronic database of both firearm purchasers, who must complete both the federal ATF and a state permit application, and medical marijuana patients. That allowed the Honolulu police to cross-check and compile a list of MMJ patients in the state's firearms registry.
Charlie Rose was a thorn in writer's side | Page Six
Thu, 30 Nov 2017 14:14
Rebecca Johnson, who wrote a 1999 profile on ex- ''CBS This Morning'' host Charlie Rose for the New York Times Magazine, said Rose was an ''unmitigated douchebag'' while she was writing the article.
Johnson posted on Facebook this week: ''We spent several days together, and I really came to dislike him.'' She continued, ''I had just signed a contract with Vogue and he asked me if I liked [then-Vogue editor-in-chief] Anna Wintour. I replied that I didn't 'like' her or not. It wasn't that kind of relationship. When he sensed my increasing coldness, he SO weirdly called me up and threatened to tell Anna I said I didn't like her.''
The writer, who still works for the fashion monthly, added, ''I was stunned at how puerile he was and told him to do whatever he needed to do. The next day, Anna called! She seemed as irritated by him as I was, but she had promised to make the call. Most awkward phone conversation ever. Charlie Rose. Unmitigated douchebag. Now and forever.''
Reached for comment, Rose '-- who was let go by the network Tuesday after a string of sexual harassment claims '-- tells us Johnson's account is ''absolutely false.''
The Internet Is Dying. Repealing Net Neutrality Hastens That Death. - The New York Times
Thu, 30 Nov 2017 14:09
The five most valuable American companies '-- Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft '-- control much of the online infrastructure, from app stores to operating systems to cloud storage to nearly all of the online ad business. A handful of broadband companies '-- AT&T, Charter, Comcast and Verizon, many of which are also aiming to become content companies, because why not '-- provide virtually all the internet connections to American homes and smartphones.
Together these giants have carved the internet into a historically profitable system of fiefs. They have turned a network whose very promise was endless innovation into one stuck in mud, where every start-up is at the tender mercy of some of the largest corporations on the planet.
Many companies feel this shift. In a letter to Ajit Pai, the F.C.C. chairman, who drafted the net neutrality repeal order, more than 200 start-ups argued this week that the order ''would put small and medium-sized businesses at a disadvantage and prevent innovative new ones from even getting off the ground.'' This, they said, was ''the opposite of the open market, with a few powerful cable and phone companies picking winners and losers instead of consumers.''
This was not the way the internet was supposed to go. At its deepest technical level, the internet was designed to avoid the central points of control that now command it. The technical scheme arose from an even deeper philosophy. The designers of the internet understood that communications networks gain new powers through their end nodes '-- that is, through the new devices and services that plug into the network, rather than the computers that manage traffic on the network. This is known as the ''end-to-end'' principle of network design, and it basically explains why the internet led to so many more innovations than the centralized networks that came before it, such as the old telephone network.
The internet's singular power, in its early gold-rush days, was its flexibility. People could imagine a dazzling array of new uses for the network, and as quick as that, they could build and deploy them '-- a site that sold you books, a site that cataloged the world's information, an application that let you ''borrow'' other people's music, a social network that could connect you to anyone.
You didn't need permission for any of this stuff; some of these innovations ruined traditional industries, some fundamentally altered society, and many were legally dubious. But the internet meant you could just put it up, and if it worked, the rest of the world would quickly adopt it.
But if flexibility was the early internet's promise, it was soon imperiled. In 2003, Tim Wu, a law professor now at Columbia Law School (he's also a contributor to The New York Times), saw signs of impending corporate control over the growing internet. Broadband companies that were investing great sums to roll out faster and faster internet service to Americans were becoming wary of running an anything-goes network.
Some of the new uses of the internet threatened their bottom line. People were using online services as an alternative to paying for cable TV or long-distance phone service. They were connecting devices like Wi-Fi routers, which allowed them to share their connections with multiple devices. At the time, there were persistent reports of broadband companies seeking to block or otherwise frustrate these new services; in a few years, some broadband providers would begin blocking new services outright.
To Mr. Wu, the broadband monopolies looked like a threat to the end-to-end idea that had powered the internet. In a legal journal, he outlined an idea for regulation to preserve the internet's equal-opportunity design '-- and hence was born ''net neutrality.''
Though it has been through a barrage of legal challenges and resurrections, some form of net neutrality has been the governing regime on the internet since 2005. The new F.C.C. order would undo the idea completely; companies would be allowed to block or demand payment for certain traffic as they liked, as long as they disclosed the arrangements.
Video What Is Net Neutrality?The F.C.C. is set to dismantle net neutrality rules that require internet providers to give consumers equal access to all content online. Here's how net neutrality works.
By AARON BYRD and NATALIA V. OSIPOVA on Publish Date November 21, 2017. Photo by Michael Bocchieri/Getty Images. Watch in Times Video >>At the moment, broadband companies are promising not to act unfairly, and they argue that undoing the rules would give them further incentive to invest in their broadband capacity, ultimately improving the internet.
Brian Hart, an F.C.C. spokesman, said broadband companies would still be covered by antitrust laws and other rules meant to prevent anticompetitive behavior. He noted that Mr. Pai's proposals would simply return the network to an earlier, pre-network-neutrality regulatory era.
''The internet flourished under this framework before, and it will again,'' he said.
Broadband companies are taking a similar line. When I pointed out to a Comcast spokeswoman that the company's promises were only voluntary '-- that nothing will prevent Comcast from one day creating special tiers of internet service with bundled content, much like the way it now sells cable TV '-- she suggested I was jumping the gun.
After all, people have been predicting the end of the internet for years. In 2003, Michael Copps, a Democratically appointed commissioner on the F.C.C. who was alarmed by the central choke points then taking command of the internet, argued that ''we could be witnessing the beginning of the end of the internet as we know it.''
It's been a recurrent theme among worriers ever since. In 2014, the last time it looked like net neutrality would get gutted, Nilay Patel, editor of the Verge, declared the internet dead (he used another word for ''dead''). And he did it again this year, anticipating Mr. Pai's proposal.
But look, you might say: Despite the hand-wringing, the internet has kept on trucking. Start-ups are still getting funded and going public. Crazy new things still sometimes get invented and defy all expectations; Bitcoin, which is as Wild West as they come, just hit $10,000 on some exchanges.
Well, O.K. But a vibrant network doesn't die all at once. It takes time and neglect; it grows weaker by the day, but imperceptibly, so that one day we are living in a digital world controlled by giants and we come to regard the whole thing as normal.
It's not normal. It wasn't always this way. The internet doesn't have to be a corporate playground. That's just the path we've chosen.
Email: farhad.manjoo@nytimes.com; Twitter: @fmanjoo.
A version of this article appears in print on November 30, 2017, on Page B1 of the New York edition with the headline: Without Neutrality, Say So Long to the Internet.
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NBC Receives at Least 2 New Complaints About Matt Lauer - The New York Times
Thu, 30 Nov 2017 14:07
On Thursday, Mr. Lauer issued an apology, expressing ''sorrow and regret for the pain I have caused.''
News of Mr. Lauer's sudden downfall shook the television world, where he had established himself as one of the most powerful men in his industry. Even President Trump '-- who himself has denied multiple allegations of sexual misconduct '-- weighed in, seizing on Mr. Lauer's firing to denounce NBC News's coverage and call for other senior figures at NBC News to be ousted.
Mr. Lauer, 59, joins an ignominious group of media figures felled by the recent spate of harassment claims, including the studio mogul Harvey Weinstein, the comedian Louis C.K., the CBS host Charlie Rose and the political journalist Mark Halperin. Journalists at several news outlets had recently conducted interviews with former and current NBC employees about Mr. Lauer's behavior, alerting the network to potential articles about him. But it was the formal complaint on Monday that prompted NBC to take action.
Video Lauer, O'Reilly and Rose: The Fall of Male Media StarsIs this the long-awaited reckoning that the corporate news media needs? Our media columnist, Jim Rutenberg, explains.
By BARBARA MARCOLINI and JIM RUTENBERG on Publish Date November 29, 2017. Photo by From left: Theo Wargo/Getty; Jenn Ackerman for The NYT; Richard Drew/AP. Watch in Times Video >>In an editorial meeting on Wednesday, Mr. Lack said that Mr. Lauer's involvement with the woman who made the complaint began while they were in Sochi, Russia, to cover the Winter Olympics in 2014, and that their involvement continued after they returned to New York, according to two people briefed on the meeting.
Other ''Today'' hosts learned of Mr. Lauer's termination around 4 a.m. on Wednesday; staff members were told just minutes before the show went on the air at 7 a.m. Savannah Guthrie, Mr. Lauer's co-anchor, was visibly shaken when she delivered the news to viewers, describing Mr. Lauer as ''a dear, dear friend'' and adding that she was ''heartbroken for the brave colleague who came forward to tell her story.''
Soon after announcing the dismissal, Ms. Guthrie gripped the hand of Hoda Kotb, who was rushed in as an emergency substitute host. The network did not name a replacement for Mr. Lauer.
Ari Wilkenfeld, a civil rights lawyer with the firm Wilkenfeld, Herendeen & Atkinson in Washington, said on Wednesday that he represented the woman who had made the initial complaint to NBC, but declined to identify her. In a statement provided to The Times, he praised the courage of his client and said:
''My client and I met with representatives from NBC's human resources and legal departments at 6 p.m. on Monday for an interview that lasted several hours. Our impression at this point is that NBC acted quickly, as all companies should, when confronted with credible allegations of sexual misconduct in the workplace.''
The woman met with reporters from The Times on Monday, but said she was not ready to discuss it publicly.
Besides his ''Today'' perch, Mr. Lauer was a genial co-host of events like the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade and the Winter and Summer Olympics, and he conducted countless interviews with celebrities. He also contributed to NBC News's political coverage, although he was widely panned after a debate last year in which he appeared to go easy on Mr. Trump while asking aggressive questions of Hillary Clinton.
The ''Today'' show caters to '-- and relies on '-- an overwhelmingly female audience, and Mr. Lauer is part of a cast that presents itself as a tight-knit family. Behind the scenes, however, the on-set environment could sometimes resemble a boys' club, particularly in the years before Comcast completed its acquisition of NBCUniversal in 2013, according to interviews with more than half a dozen former staff members.
Jokes about women's appearances were routine, the former employees said. One former producer recalled a director saying he ''wanted some milk'' in reference to one woman's chest and making inappropriate comments about women over an audio feed with multiple people listening. Two former employees recalled colleagues playing a crude game in which they chose which female guests or staff members they would prefer to marry, kill or have sex with.
The former employees spoke anonymously because they feared their career prospects in the industry could be harmed.
Other current and former staff members, however, described a more professional work culture, and said they did not witness harassment. An NBC spokeswoman declined on Wednesday to comment on the ''boys' club'' characterization, but pointed out that 13 of 19 senior-level female producers at ''Today'' had been promoted since 2015.
The woman who described the encounter in 2001 with Mr. Lauer in his office told The Times that the anchor had made inappropriate comments to her shortly after she started as a ''Today'' producer in the late 1990s.
While traveling with Mr. Lauer for a story, she said, he asked her inappropriate questions over dinner, like whether she had ever cheated on her husband. On the way to the airport, she said, Mr. Lauer sat uncomfortably close to her in the car; she recalled that when she moved away, he said, ''You're no fun.''
In 2001, the woman said, Mr. Lauer, who is married, asked her to his office to discuss a story during a workday. When she sat down, she said, he locked the door, which he could do by pressing a button while sitting at his desk. (People who worked at NBC said the button was a regular security measure installed for high-profile employees.)
The woman said Mr. Lauer asked her to unbutton her blouse, which she did. She said the anchor then stepped out from behind his desk, pulled down her pants, bent her over a chair and had intercourse with her. At some point, she said, she passed out with her pants pulled halfway down. She woke up on the floor of his office, and Mr. Lauer had his assistant take her to a nurse.
The woman told The Times that Mr. Lauer never made an advance toward her again and never mentioned what occurred in his office. She said she did not report the episode to NBC at the time because she believed she should have done more to stop Mr. Lauer. She left the network about a year later.
On Wednesday, the episode in Mr. Lauer's office was reported to NBC News after the woman told her then-supervisor, who still works at the network. The woman said an NBC human resources representative had since contacted her.
The woman, who was in her early 40s at the time, told her then-husband about the encounter, which The Times confirmed with him in a phone call. The couple was separated at the time, and later divorced. She also described it to a friend five years ago, which the friend confirmed to The Times.
NBC News has suffered other black eyes, as well. Last year, the network reviewed 2005 footage from the NBC-owned show ''Access Hollywood'' that revealed Mr. Trump bragging about grabbing women's genitalia. But the footage was released first by a competitor, The Washington Post, embarrassing the NBC news division.
In recent weeks, NBC News was criticized for passing on an expos(C) of Mr. Weinstein by an MSNBC contributor, Ronan Farrow. Mr. Farrow's reporting later appeared in The New Yorker, and helped set off the current wave of revelations about abuses by powerful men in media and entertainment.
John Koblin contributed reporting.
A version of this article appears in print on November 30, 2017, on Page A1 of the New York edition with the headline: Longtime Face of NBC's 'Today' Is Fired as Complaints Multiply.
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UC Berkeley Launches 'Cry Map' To Catalogue Where Students Have Wept On Campus | Daily Wire
Thu, 30 Nov 2017 14:07
The University of California Berkeley's student newspaper, The Daily Californian, has launched a new project to catalogue all the places on campus that students weep for their future.
The "Where We Cry" map appeared this week as part of an effort to collect stories about students and alumni being emotional, crying in dorm rooms, classrooms, libraries, and outbuildings, over everything from tough tests to triggerings. So far, the map has more than 360 entries.
Thanks to Google Maps technology, you can even pinpoint every place a student at Berkeley has gotten in touch with their emotions. Some stories are legitimate: there are lots of breakups, makeups, missing family, sleep deprivation, failed exams, and feeling overwhelmed '-- things that come as part of nearly every college experience.
But, of course, it wouldn't be Berkeley if some of the entries weren't about feeling oppressed, targeted, triggered, and at the mercy of the Patriarchy.
For example:
Trump won.
And:
walking to class the day after the election
And:
I had just come out of Asian American Studies R2A, which I was taking over summer. The class was the first time I had dealt with so many issues regarding my identity, specifically coming to terms with my non-heterosexualness. One day, discussion was open to reflecting upon our identities. It was the first time I had talked about my sexuality in such a serious manner, and I bawled my eyes out.
And:
Existential crisis about where I fit into the world and this intense political culture we are currently in. Right before I took a midterms of course.
Another student cried during a "trauma poem." Several students were triggered into "PTSD" by readings, assignments, professors, and misogyny. Unsurprisingly, students at Berkeley have pretty much cried everywhere on campus.
Warlord who killed himself 'easily' smuggled in poison
Thu, 30 Nov 2017 13:56
By Chris Pleasance and Kelly Mclaughlin and Sara Malm for MailOnline and Afp 11:15 29 Nov 2017, updated 13:53 30 Nov 2017
Slobodan Praljak appeared at The Hague to appeal 20-year war crime sentenceAs judge upheld the punishment, he pulled a vial of dark liquid from his pocketPraljak shouted 'I am not a war criminal!' before downing the mystery substanceA prominent lawyer said it would be 'easy' to smuggle liquid through securityIt's still unclear how Praljak obtained the poison while he was incarceratedThe Bosnian-Croat war chief who killed himself with poison during his his war crimes trial at The Hague was 'easily' able to smuggle the deadly liquid into the building, a prominent lawyer says.
It's still not clear, however, how Slobodan Praljak, 72, obtained the poison while in custody, as he was serving his 20-year sentence in an undisclosed UN prison cell and was driven each day to the court in a secure van for his appeal hearing.
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Praljak yelled, 'I am not a war criminal!' and drank a dark liquid from a small bottle seconds after losing his appeal against a 20-year prison sentence at the International Criminal Tribunal in the Netherlands on Wednesday.
'I just drank poison,' he added. 'I am not a war criminal. I oppose this conviction.'
...
Protest: Fellow convicts Bruno Stojic and Milivoj Petkovic, sitting on either side of the Croat politician, look on in shock and surprise as he downs the contents of the bottleA lawyer who has frequently defended suspects at the war crimes court told The Associated Press it would be easy to bring poison into the court.
Prominent Serbian lawyer Toma Fila said security for lawyers and other court staff 'is just like at an airport'.
Security officers inspect metal objects and confiscate cellphones, but 'pills and small quantities of liquids' would not be registered, Fila said.
Praljak was one of six Croatian politicians sentenced to jail for their involvement in a campaign to drive Muslims out of a would-be Bosnian Croat mini-state in Bosnia in the early 1990s.
His lawyer shouted out 'my client has taken poison' before judge Carmel Agius suspended the hearing and the courtroom was closed.
Moments after Praljak drank the liquid, ambulance crews arrived at the scene and a helicopter began hovering overhead.
Several emergency rescue workers, some of them wearing helmets and with oxygen tanks on their backs, rushed into the building while court officials called for calm.
A spokesman for the tribunal confirmed he died after 'he drank a liquid while in court and quickly fell ill'.
Nenad Golcevski added: 'One of the six defendants... passed away today in the HMC hospital in The Hague' despite efforts to save him in hospital.
Croatia's state-run TV service said he died in hospital in the Netherlands, a statement which was later confirmed by Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, who offered condolences to his family.
Praljak appeared to drink the poison seconds after losing his appeal at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, in The Hague, NetherlandsHe was found guilty of crimes that included murder, persecution and inhumane treatment as part of the plan to drive Muslims out of a would-be Bosnian Croat territory in BosniaPraljak's lawyer shouted out 'my client has taken poison' before the courtroom was closed and medical teams rushed to the sceneSeveral medical vehicles were seen outside the court while a helicopter hovered overhead, but Croatian state TV reported medics were unable to save PraljakMr Plenkovic said at a press conference that 'we have all unfortunately witnessed his act by which he took his own life'.
'His act mostly speaks about a deep moral injustice towards six Croats from Bosnia and the Croatian people ... We voice dissatisfaction and regret about the verdict.'
Judge Agius declared the courtroom to be a crime scene as he restarted the hearing, though gave no further details.
Dutch police also said an investigation had been launched.
Praljak was sentenced to 20 years in jail along with his co-conspirators back in 2013, though it is not clear if he began serving that sentence before his appeal.
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Bosnian Croats and Muslims were allies against the Serbs but fought each other for 11 months from 1993-1994.
Praljak, a Croatian politician and general in the the Croatian Army, also commanded Bosnian Croat forces known as the HVO from July to November 1993.
During this time, Praljak and his allies were trying to establish the 'Croatian Republic of Herzeg-Bosnia' - an ethnically Croatian enclave, with the city of Mostar as it's 'capital'.
...
Slobodan Praljak, center, enters the Yugoslav War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands, Wednesday, to hear the verdict in the appeals caseThe Herzeg-Bosnia republic was declared by the Bosnian Croats in 1993, but as part of the peace agreement in 1994, it merged with the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina that we know today.
Mostar saw the worst of the Croat-Muslim clashes, with nearly 80 per cent of the city's east destroyed in the fighting.
Praljak was specifically charged with ordering the destruction of Mostar's 16th-century bridge in November 1993, which judges in the first trial had said 'caused disproportionate damage to the Muslim civilian population'.
A symbol of Bosnia's devastation in the war, the Ottoman-era bridge was later rebuilt.
But in their ruling, the judges in fact allowed part of Praljak's appeal, saying the bridge had been a legitimate military target during the conflict.
'It's just an old bridge,' Praljak said in 1993, showing no regard for the emotional effect the destruction had on ordinary Bosnians of all ethnic backgrounds.
Praljak was a Bosnian Croat writer and film and theater director turned wartime general. His indictment said he also worked as a professor of philosophy and sociology.
He was found guilty of crimes that included murder, persecution and inhumane treatment as part of the plan to drive Muslims out of a would-be Bosnian Croat territory in Bosnia.
In the past, two Serbs have taken their lives while in the tribunal's custody.
Praljak was a Bosnian Croat writer and film and theater director turned wartime generalHis indictment said he also worked as a professor of philosophy and sociologyPraljak and his allies were trying to establish the 'Croatian Republic of Herzeg-Bosnia' - an ethnically Croatian enclave, with the city of Mostar as it's 'capital', during the Bosnian WarIn July 1998, Slavko Dokmanovic, a Croatian Serb charged with in the deaths of over 200 Croat prisoners of war, was found dead in his prison cell in The Hague.
Milan Babic, a wartime Serbian leader who was closely cooperating with prosecutors, took his life in a prison tribunal cell in March 2006.
Wednesday's hearing was the final case at the groundbreaking tribunal before it closes its doors next month.
The tribunal, which last week convicted former Bosnian Serb military chief Gen. Ratko Mladic of genocide and other crimes, was set up in 1993, while fighting still raged in the former Yugoslavia. It indicted 161 suspects and convicted 90 of them.
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The appeals judges upheld a key finding that Croatia's late President Franjo Tudjman was a member of the plot to create a Croat mini-state in Bosnia.
The finding angered Croatian leaders, but was largely overshadowed by Praljak.
The original trial began in April 2006 and provided a reminder of the complex web of ethnic tensions that fueled fighting in Bosnia and underlies frictions in the country even today.
Croatian Prime Minister Plenkovic said that his country's leadership during the Bosnian war could 'in no way be connected with the facts and interpretations' in the appeals judgment
WAR CRIMINAL: THE BOSNIAN-BORN CROAT WHO WANTED AND 'ETHNICALLY PURE' REPUBLICGuilty: Slobodan Praljak was one of the leaders of plot to create a Croatian republic in Bosnia-HerzegovinaSlobodan Praljak, 72, was born in Capljina, a small town in Bosnia-Herzegovina close to the Croatian border.
After working as a film and TV producer as well as a lecturer in Zagreb, he joined the Croatian army in 1991 advancing to major general.
In March 1992 he became Croatian Deputy Minister of Defence and was later assigned to Croatia's State Commission for relations with the United Nations Protection Force ('UNPROFOR').
He had been brought before the Yugoslav War Crimes Tribunal accused of establishing and participating in creating an 'ethnically pure' Croatian republic within modern Bosnia-Herzegovina between 1991 to 1994.
The UN tribunal found him guilty of the above as well as participating 'in the ethnic cleansing of the town and municipality of Prozor, of the municipality of Gorjni Vakif, of the towns of Sovici and Doljani, and of the municipality of Mostar, notably by attacking Bosnian Muslims, by the pillage and theft of their property, by massive arrests and by inflicting upon them cruel treatment, sexual violence, killings and other forms of persecution.'
As head of the Bosnian Croat forces known as the HVO, he was responsible for several prison camps where Bosniak Muslims were detained and abused, some of which was so severe that inmates died in the camps.
Slobodan Praljak voluntarily surrendered to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) on 5 April 2004.
He was charged with nine counts of grave breaches of the Geneva conventions - including wilful killing; inhuman treatment (sexual assault); unlawful deportation and confinements of civilians - nine counts of violations of the laws or customs of war - including cruel treatment unlawful attack on civilians and unlawful infliction of terror on civilians - and eight counts of crimes against humanity - including persecutions on political, racial and religious grounds; murder; rape; deportation; inhumane acts and imprisonment.
Source: trialinternational.org
NZ probes sacked US TV host Matt Lauer's Queenstown estate - NZ Herald
Thu, 30 Nov 2017 12:56
New Zealand authorities want more information about sexual harassment claims against US television host Matt Lauer, who owns a $13 million lakefront property near Queenstown.
The Overseas Investment Office "is aware that allegations have been made in relation to Matt Lauer and that he is no longer working for NBC News," the OIO's Lisa Barrett said in a statement to Bloomberg.
"We are discussing this with his representative and are seeking further information."
It was revealed in March that Lauer had bought the largest lake front property in New Zealand - the 6468ha Hunter Valley Station which extends from Lake Wanaka around the shore of Lake Hawea and up the Hunter River.
Overseas buyers of sensitive land are required to "continue to be of good character" and Bloomberg says that this condition was listed in the February notice of the OIO's decision in Lauer's case.
Lauer was this week fired by NBC from his role as co-host on the Today show after an accusation of sexual misconduct, Bloomberg reports.
NBC said it was informed about inappropriate sexual behaviour by Lauer, 59, after a colleague complained.
Lauer and his wife Annette said earlier this year that they were looking forward to making a home in the Upper Clutha and to being good stewards of Hunter Valley Station.
"Annette and I have been coming to New Zealand for several years, and every time we visit, we feel lucky to be in a place of such endless beauty, inspiration and adventure," Lauer said at the time.
The couple's purchase of the 6468ha pastoral lease from Taff and Penny Cochrane had attracted criticism because of what some groups say is a lack of guaranteed access through the station into the Hawea Conservation Park and into the Hunter Valley itself.
Alex DeLarge Forced To Step Down As Leader Of Droogs Amidst Allegations Of Sexual Misconduct
Thu, 30 Nov 2017 12:54
LONDON'--Pushed out of power as the damning charges mounted, Alex DeLarge was forced to step down Wednesday as leader of the Droogs amidst allegations of sexual misconduct. ''In an unfortunate development, we have been forced to remove Mr. DeLarge from his post due to the startling accusations of sexual impropriety that have come to light,'' said Droog member Georgie, explaining that although the group had systems in place to swiftly address such allegations, it clearly did not adequately follow those procedures. ''Even though these acts took place decades ago, it does not excuse Alex's heinous and unforgivable actions. This is not at all what the Droogs stand for.'' At press time, DeLarge had offered to undergo two weeks of rigorous aversion therapy to rehabilitate himself.
American Airlines working to fix glitch that left thousands of holiday flights without pilots | American Airlines | Dallas News
Thu, 30 Nov 2017 12:50
American Airlines is rushing to ensure that thousands of December flights aren't affected by a scheduling error that left the nation's largest carrier without enough pilots assigned to work during the busy holiday season.
As many as 15,000 flights between Dec. 17 and the end of the year could be affected by the issue, according to the Allied Pilots Association, the union representing more than 15,000 American pilots. American did not confirm the number put forward by the union or issue its own estimate on the number of affected flights.
''We are working diligently to address the issue and expect to avoid cancellations this holiday season,'' the Fort Worth-based company said in a statement. ''We will work with the APA to take care of our pilots and ensure we get our customers to where they need to go over the holidays.''
American said it has reserve pilots to help cover the affected flights and the company is offering to pay pilots 150 percent of their hourly rate to pick up certain open trips.
The issue arose from a glitch in American's scheduling system that allowed pilots to take time off by dropping assigned flights, even when there wasn't another crew member available to cover for them. Typically, those requests would be denied if adequate staffing isn't available.
The airline didn't specify the cause of the glitch, but described it as an isolated incident.
''This is a potential crisis that we see well in advance,'' Capt. Dennis Tajer, a spokesman for the union, told The Associated Press. ''This is very unusual.''
The pilots' union has filed a grievance over American's proposed solution, the news agency reported, alleging that it violates the employees' labor contract by not including union input and improperly restricting premium pay.
The issue affects flights at about a dozen airports, including DFW International Airport as well as airports in Boston, Miami, Charlotte, Philadelphia, New York and Salt Lake City. The carrier operates about 6,700 flights per day.
The news caught travelers' attention on social media Wednesday afternoon, prompting concerns about how their holiday plans would be affected.
''Everyone's already freaking out,'' said Brett Snyder, author of the airline industry blog Cranky Flier and president of air travel assistance company Cranky Concierge. ''There are a lot of things to worry about and stress you out over the holidays. I wouldn't let this be one of them.''
Snyder said American will be motivated to prevent the scheduling issues from disrupting any flights, especially after stating publicly Wednesday that it expects to avoid cancellations.
''This kind of thing can happen. They caught it and they've stopped it. Now they just have to fill in the blanks" in the schedule, he said. ''We'll be watching closely, but at this point I'm just not that concerned.''
AP FACT CHECK: Anti-Muslim videos misrepresent what happened
Thu, 30 Nov 2017 12:43
WASHINGTON (AP) '-- Like much other propaganda, the anti-Muslim videos spread around by President Donald Trump mix grains of truth, fakery and shades in between, overlaid with a message meant to be a blunt hammer blow for a cause.
Trump's penchant for sharing doctored images and making false statements on Twitter means that content tweeted or retweeted by the president should be viewed skeptically. His spokeswoman, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, suggested the veracity of the videos wasn't a high priority amid concern over national security and strong borders, saying: "Whether it's a real video, the threat is real and that is what the president is talking about."
Here's a look at known facts behind the videos tweeted by a far-right British fringe group and retweeted by President Trump:
FALSE
One video shows a young man attacking another who is on crutches, near a river bank. It was originally posted to a Dutch viral video site in May and picked up by Dutch media. In her tweet, Jayda Fransen, the deputy leader of Britain First, wrote: "VIDEO: Muslim migrant beats up Dutch boy on crutches!" But the victim was not attacked by a Muslim migrant.
"Facts do matter," the Dutch Embassy in Washington said in a tweet directed at Trump. "The perpetrator of the violent act in this video was born and raised in the Netherlands. He received and completed his sentence under Dutch law."
___
APPARENTLY TRUE
One video shows a man, said to be a supporter of Syria's al-Qaida affiliate then known as the Nusra Front, smashing a statue of the Virgin Mary. The Middle East Media Research Institute identified the man as Sheikk Omar Raghba. In the video, he declares that "idols" will no longer be worshipped in the Levant before he smashes the statue, half his size, in the Yakubiya village in northwestern Syria.
The circumstances are not verified, but the images ring true. It's well known that Islamic extremists target people and objects of other faiths '-- Christians, Jews, Muslims of other sects and movements '-- as well as indiscriminate populations. Also well known: Anti-Muslim extremists in the U.S. and other countries of the West have torched mosques. The video appeared online in 2013.
___
MISSING PIECES
One video, blurry and shaky, shows someone falling from the roof of an apparent elevator shaft, then at least one man punching the victim. "Islamist mob pushes a teenage boy off roof and beats him to death!" says the tweet introducing it.
The video was filmed days after the overthrow of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi by Egypt's military. In the video, a supporter of Morsi is seen roaming the roof of a building in the coastal city of Alexandria, raising a black flag often used by militants. Little else is obvious from the video except that a confrontation was unfolding on the roof. Perpetrators of the roof violence were sentenced to death for killing a boy and a man.
The wider context of those killings was ignored '-- the fact that both sides had blood on their hands. It was a time of violent protests by pro-Morsi protesters and a violent military crackdown. More than 1,000 people died in the military's dispersal of Islamic protests.
___
Find AP Fact Checks at https://apnews.com/tag/APFactCheck
Glitch Leaves American Scrambling for Pilots on 15,000 Holiday Flights - WSJ
Thu, 30 Nov 2017 12:41
American Airlines Group Inc. was scrambling on Wednesday to entice pilots to cover for a computer glitch that left the carrier short of aviators for 15,000 flights during the coming Christmas travel period.
The Allied Pilots Association union said the airline's computer system mistakenly granted extra time off to an unusual number of pilots in late December. American said it would pay pilots who pick up the unassigned flights 150% of their standard hourly wage, the top rate allowed in the union contract.
...
Coinbase ordered to report 14,355 users to the IRS - The Verge
Thu, 30 Nov 2017 07:38
Today, Coinbase suffered a major defeat at the hands of the Internal Revenue Service, nearly a year after the case was initially filed. A California federal court has ordered Coinbase to turn over identifying records for all users who have bought, sold, sent, or received more than $20,000 through their accounts in a single year between 2013 and 2015. Coinbase estimates that 14,355 users meet the government's requirements. The full order is embedded below.
For each account, the company has been asked to provide the IRS with the user's name, birth date, address, and taxpayer ID, along with records of all account activity and any associated account statements. The result is both a definitive link to the user's identity and a comprehensive record of everything they've done with their Coinbase account, including other accounts to which they've sent money.
''a bad precedent for financial privacy''
The order is significantly narrower than the IRS's initial request, which asked for records on every single Coinbase user over the same period. That request would also have required all communications between Coinbase and the user, a measure the judge ultimately found unnecessarily comprehensive.
The government made no claim of suspicion against individual users, but instead argued that the order was justified based on the discrepancy between Coinbase users and US citizens reporting Bitcoin gains to the IRS. Coinbase boasts nearly 6 million customers, but according to a government filing, fewer than 1,000 US citizens have reported cryptocurrency holdings on their taxes.
The ruling has already proven controversial in the Bitcoin world. ''We remain deeply unsatisfied with the lack of justification provided by the IRS,'' Coin Center's Peter Van Valkenburgh told The Verge. ''Without better rationale for why these specific transactions were suspect, a similarly sweeping request could be made for customer data from any financial institution. It sets a bad precedent for financial privacy.''
Coinbase had vigorously opposed the order on similar grounds. ''We were proud to appear in court today... to continue to fight against what we believe to be government overreach,'' Coinbase's David Farmer wrote after a hearing earlier this month. ''In the future we hope to work with the IRS to establish a reasonable tax reporting method that makes sense for virtual currency service providers and consumers alike.''
Coinbase did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Bitcoin Recovers From Sudden Selloff as Large Swings Persist
Thu, 30 Nov 2017 07:26
Bitcoin rallied as much as 20 percent from its Wednesday low, easing concern that an abrupt selloff in the cryptocurrency might spiral into something deeper.
The digital currency climbed as high as $10,787.99 in Asian trading hours Thursday, after touching a nadir of $9,009.15, according to prices compiled by Bloomberg. The 21 percent slump on Wednesday, triggered in part by intermittent outages at cryptocurrency exchanges, came just hours after bitcoin had soared to a record.
Price swings in the world's most popular digital currency are increasing as an 11-fold gain this year captivates everyone from mom-and-pop investors to high-frequency traders and Wall Street banks. While the frenzy has prompted bubble warnings from observers including Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz, interest among traders shows few signs of abating.
Coinbase, one of the largest bitcoin exchanges, tweeted on Wednesday that traffic on its platform reached an all-time high, even as some users reported service interruptions and delays.
Click the links below for more bitcoin coverage:
Bitcoin Mania Interrupted, for Now, as Outage Triggers Selloff
What Bitcoin Watchers Are Saying After the Surge Past $10,000
Bitcoin 'Ought to Be Outlawed,' Nobel Winner Stiglitz Says
Calling a Bitcoin Top? Options to Sell Short Are Risky, Pricey
Bitcoin Is Still Sucking Up All the Crypto Oxygen: Gadfly
jeff zucker - Google Search
Thu, 30 Nov 2017 03:12
220 — 285 - en.wikipedia.org
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1600 — 900 - cnn.com
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1160 — 629 - politico.com
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1200 — 629 - nymag.com
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446 — 299 - deadline.com
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1190 — 595 - businessinsider.com
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640 — 480 - breitbart.com
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652 — 367 - adweek.com
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640 — 360 - cnn.com
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640 — 480 - breitbart.com
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960 — 724 - washingtonpost.com
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750 — 1129 - nydailynews.com
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640 — 480 - progressive.network
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2000 — 1000 - huffingtonpost.com
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1296 — 730 - hollywoodreporter.com
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1024 — 576 - money.cnn.com
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700 — 1050 - variety.com
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1187 — 890 - businessinsider.com
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559 — 384 - mediaite.com
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529 — 529 - vulture.com
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Matt Lauer's History at 'Today': Two Decades of Highs and Lows
Thu, 30 Nov 2017 03:10
What followed became a viral video hit before the days of YouTube and Twitter. ''Just knowing people who are on Ritalin isn't enough,'' Mr. Cruise told him, pointing a finger, before engaging in an attack on psychiatry. ''You should be a little bit more responsible '--''
''I'm not prescribing Ritalin, Tom,'' Mr. Lauer fired back.
Tom Cruise's Heated Interview With Matt Lauer | Archives | TODAY Video by TODAY In 2012, a tense goodbye to Ann Curry.During Mr. Lauer's years on the show, he remained one of the few steady parts in a revolving door of new reporters and anchors. But no transition turned more tense and awkward '-- or filled more New York tabloid pages with rumors of infighting on the show '-- than the promotion of Ann Curry in 2011 as co-anchor alongside Mr. Lauer.
Her stint as an anchor was very brief, lasting only a year before she was pushed out in June 2012, after ABC's ''Good Morning America'' gained ground in the ratings. Ms. Curry signed off in a tearful goodbye as her co-hosts looked on.
Ann Curry Crying At Saying Goodbye At NBC TODAY Show Video by zidyboby A few months after her departure, The New York Times interviewed Ms. Curry about what unfolded during her brief time next to Mr. Lauer:
Many executives at the network never grasped how profoundly hurt and humiliated Curry remained '-- not just by her televised dismissal but by all the backstage machinations that led to that fateful morning. Curry felt that the boys' club atmosphere behind the scenes at ''Today'' undermined her from the start, and she told friends that her final months were a form of professional torture. The growing indifference of Matt Lauer, her co-host, had hurt the most, but there was also just a general meanness on set.
In 2012, he was slammed for an Anne Hathaway interview.The actress Anne Hathaway was interviewed in December 2012 to discuss her new movie, ''Les Miserables,'' for which she later won an Oscar for best supporting actress. The day before her interview, some celebrity gossip sites had published an upskirt photo of Ms. Hathaway exiting a car.
''Seen a lot of you lately,'' Mr. Lauer said as he began the interview.
He continued, ''Let's just get it out of the way. You had a little bit of a wardrobe malfunction the other night.'' Ms. Hathaway was praised for her response.
Anne Hathaway Owns Creepy Matt Lauer Video by The Majority Report with Sam Seder In 2016, he grilled, and interrupted, Hillary Clinton.Mr. Lauer was the host of one of the major presidential forums in 2016 between Donald J. Trump and Hillary Clinton. During the one-hour debate, Mr. Lauer interviewed the candidates separately, and he was criticized for asking Mr. Trump softer questions while he spent considerable time pressing Ms. Clinton about her use of a private email server, and interrupting her repeatedly.
''Mr. Lauer found himself besieged on Wednesday evening by critics of all political stripes, who accused the anchor of unfairness, sloppiness and even sexism in his handling of the event,'' The Times wrote afterward.
Matt Lauer Mercilessly Grills Hillary Clinton Over EmailGate Video by The PolitiStick In 2017, he was fired.Mr. Lauer's latest co-host, Savannah Guthrie, began the show on Wednesday appearing to be fighting back tears. Next to her behind the anchor desk was not Mr. Lauer but Hoda Kotb.
''This is a sad morning here at 'Today' and NBC News,'' Ms. Guthrie said in the opening.
Matt Lauer Has Been Fired From NBC News | TODAY Video by TODAY Continue reading the main story
NBC - Wikipedia
Thu, 30 Nov 2017 02:34
The Comcast Building in New York City (or the GE Building, originally the RCA Building) serves as the headquarters of NBC.Radio Edit Earliest stations: WEAF and WJZ Edit During a period of early broadcast business consolidation, radio manufacturer Radio Corporation of America (RCA) acquired New York City radio station WEAF from American Telephone & Telegraph (AT&T). Westinghouse, a shareholder in RCA, had a competing outlet in Newark, New Jersey pioneer station WJZ (no relation to the radio and television station in Baltimore currently using those call letters), which also served as the flagship for a loosely structured network. This station was transferred from Westinghouse to RCA in 1923, and moved to New York City.[3]
WEAF acted as a laboratory for AT&T's manufacturing and supply outlet Western Electric, whose products included transmitters and antennas. The Bell System, AT&T's telephone utility, was developing technologies to transmit voice- and music-grade audio over short and long distances, using both wireless and wired methods. The 1922 creation of WEAF offered a research-and-development center for those activities. WEAF maintained a regular schedule of radio programs, including some of the first commercially sponsored programs, and was an immediate success. In an early example of "chain" or "networking" broadcasting, the station linked with Outlet Company-owned WJAR in Providence, Rhode Island; and with AT&T's station in Washington, D.C., WCAP.
New parent RCA saw an advantage in sharing programming, and after getting a license for radio station WRC in Washington, D.C., in 1923, attempted to transmit audio between cities via low-quality telegraph lines. AT&T refused outside companies access to its high-quality phone lines. The early effort fared poorly, since the uninsulated telegraph lines were susceptible to atmospheric and other electrical interference.
In 1925, AT&T decided that WEAF and its embryonic network were incompatible with the company's primary goal of providing a telephone service. AT&T offered to sell the station to RCA in a deal that included the right to lease AT&T's phone lines for network transmission.[4]
Red and Blue Networks Edit RCA spent $1 million to purchase WEAF and Washington sister station WCAP, shut down the latter station, and merged its facilities with surviving station WRC; in late 1926, it subsequently announced the creation of a new division known as the National Broadcasting Company.[5] The division's ownership was split among RCA (a majority partner at 50%), its founding corporate parent General Electric (which owned 30%) and Westinghouse (which owned the remaining 20%). NBC officially started broadcasting on November 15, 1926.
WEAF and WJZ, the flagships of the two earlier networks, were operated side-by-side for about a year as part of the new NBC. On January 1, 1927, NBC formally divided their respective marketing strategies: the "Red Network" offered commercially sponsored entertainment and music programming; the "Blue Network" mostly carried sustaining '' or non-sponsored '' broadcasts, especially news and cultural programs. Various histories of NBC suggest the color designations for the two networks came from the color of the pushpins NBC engineers used to designate affiliate stations of WEAF (red) and WJZ (blue), or from the use of double-ended red and blue colored pencils.
On April 5, 1927, NBC expanded to the West Coast with the launch of the NBC Orange Network, also known as the Pacific Coast Network. This was followed by the debut of the NBC Gold Network, also known as the Pacific Gold Network, on October 18, 1931. The Orange Network carried Red Network programming, and the Gold Network carried programming from the Blue Network. Initially, the Orange Network recreated Eastern Red Network programming for West Coast stations at KPO in San Francisco. In 1936, the Orange Network affiliate stations became part of the Red Network, and at the same time the Gold Network became part of the Blue Network.
In the 1930s, NBC also developed a network for shortwave radio stations, called the NBC White Network.
In 1927, NBC moved its operations to 711 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, occupying the upper floors of a building designed by architect Floyd Brown.[6] The space that NBC occupied was designed by Raymond Hood, who based the appearance of its multiple studio facilities on "a Gothic church, the Roman forum, a Louis XIV room and, in a space devoted to jazz, something 'wildly futuristic, with plenty of color in bizarre designs.'"[6] NBC outgrew the Fifth Avenue facilities in 1933.[6]
In 1930, General Electric was charged with antitrust violations, resulting in the company's decision to divest itself of RCA. The newly separate company signed leases to move its corporate headquarters into the new Rockefeller Center in 1931. John D. Rockefeller, Jr., founder and financier of Rockefeller Center, arranged the deal with GE chairman Owen D. Young and RCA president David Sarnoff. When it moved into the complex in 1933, RCA became the lead tenant at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, known as the "RCA Building" (later the GE Building, now the Comcast Building), which housed NBC's production studios as well as theaters for RCA-owned RKO Pictures.[7]
Chimes Edit
Entrance at the GE Building.The iconic three-note NBC chimes came about after several years of development. The three-note sequence, G-E'-C', was first heard over Red Network affiliate WSB in Atlanta,[8] with a second inversionC Major triad as its outline. An executive at NBC's New York headquarters heard the WSB version of the notes during the networked broadcast of a Georgia Tech football game and asked permission to use it on the national network. NBC started to use the chimes sequence in 1931, and it eventually became the first audio trademark to be accepted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.[9][10]
A variant sequence with an additional note, G-E'-C'-G, known as "the fourth chime", was used during significant events of extreme urgency (including during World War II, especially in the wake of the December 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor; on D-Day and during disasters). The NBC chimes were mechanized in 1932 by Rangertone founder Richard H. Ranger; their purpose was to send a low-level signal of constant amplitude that would be heard by the various switching stations manned by NBC and AT&T engineers, and to be used as a system cue for switching individual stations between the Red and Blue network feeds. Contrary to popular legend, the G-E'-C' notes were not originally intended to reference to the General Electric Company (an early shareholder in NBC's founding parent RCA and whose Schenectady, New York radio station, WGY, was an early affiliate of NBC Red). The three-note sequence remains in use by the NBC television network, most notably incorporated into the John Williams-composed theme music used by NBC News, "The Mission" (first composed in 1986 for NBC Nightly News).
New beginnings: The Blue Network becomes ABC Edit In 1934, the Mutual Broadcasting System filed a complaint to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), following the government agency's creation, claiming it ran into difficulties trying to establish new radio stations in a market largely controlled by NBC and the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS). In 1938, the FCC began a series of investigations into the monopolistic effects of network broadcasting. A report published by the Commission in 1939 found that NBC's two networks and its owned-and-operated stations dominated audiences, affiliates and advertising in American radio; this led the Commission to file an order to RCA to divest itself of either NBC Red or NBC Blue.
After Mutual's appeals were rejected by the FCC, RCA filed its own appeal to overturn the divestiture order. However, in 1941, the company decided to sell NBC Blue in the event its appeal was denied. The Blue Network was formally named NBC Blue Network, Inc. and NBC Red became NBC Red Network, Inc. for corporate purposes. Both networks formally divorced their operations on January 8, 1942,[11] with the Blue Network being referred to on-air as either "Blue" or "Blue Network", and Blue Network Company, Inc. serving as its official corporate name. NBC Red, meanwhile, became known on-air as simply "NBC".[12] Investment firm Dillon, Read & Co. placed a $7.5 million bid for NBC Blue, an offer that was rejected by NBC executive Mark Woods and RCA president David Sarnoff.
After losing on final appeal before the U.S. Supreme Court in May 1943, RCA sold Blue Network Company, Inc., for $8 million to the American Broadcasting System, a recently founded company owned by Life Savers magnate Edward J. Noble. After the sale was completed on October 12, 1943,[13] Noble acquired the rights to the Blue Network name, leases on landlines, the New York studios, two-and-a-half radio stations (WJZ in Newark/New York City; KGO in San Francisco and WENR in Chicago, which shared a frequency with Prairie Farmer station WLS); contracts with actors; and agreements with around 60 affiliates. In turn, to comply with FCC radio station ownership limits of the time, Noble sold off his existing New York City radio station WMCA. Noble, who wanted a better name for the network, acquired the branding rights to the "American Broadcasting Company" name from George B. Storer in 1944. The Blue Network became ABC officially on June 15, 1945, after the sale was completed.[4][14][15]
Defining radio's golden age Edit
The front entrance of the NBC Tower at 454 N. Columbus Drive in Chicago.NBC became home to many of the most popular performers and programs on the air. Bing Crosby, Al Jolson, Jack Benny, Edgar Bergen, Bob Hope, Fred Allen, and Burns and Allen called NBC home, as did Arturo Toscanini's NBC Symphony Orchestra, which the network helped him create. Other programs featured on the network included Vic and Sade, Fibber McGee and Molly, The Great Gildersleeve (arguably broadcasting's first spin-off program, from Fibber McGee), One Man's Family, Ma Perkins and Death Valley Days. NBC stations were often the most powerful, and some occupied unique clear-channel national frequencies, reaching hundreds or thousands of miles at night.
In the late 1940s, rival CBS gained ground by allowing radio stars to use their own production companies to produce programs, which became a profitable move for much of its talent. In the early years of radio, stars and programs commonly hopped between networks when their short-term contracts expired. During 1948 and 1949, beginning with the nation's top radio star, Jack Benny, many NBC performers '' including Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy, Burns and Allen and Frank Sinatra '' jumped to CBS.
In addition, NBC stars began migrating to television, including comedian Milton Berle, whose Texaco Star Theater on the network became television's first major hit. Conductor Arturo Toscanini conducted the NBC Symphony Orchestra in ten television concerts on NBC between 1948 and 1952. The concerts were broadcast on both television and radio, in what perhaps was the first such instance of simulcasting. Two of the concerts were historic firsts '' the first complete telecast of Beethoven's Symphony No. 9, and the first complete telecast of Verdi's Aida (starring Herva Nelli and Richard Tucker), performed in concert rather than with scenery and costumes.
Aiming to keep classic radio alive as television matured, and to challenge CBS's Sunday night radio lineup, which featured much of the programs and talent that had moved to that network following the defection of Jack Benny to CBS, NBC launched The Big Show in November 1950. This 90-minute variety show updated radio's earliest musical variety style with sophisticated comedy and dramatic presentations. Featuring stage legend Tallulah Bankhead as hostess, it lured prestigious entertainers, including Fred Allen, Groucho Marx, Lauritz Melchior, Ethel Barrymore, Louis Armstrong, Ethel Merman, Bob Hope, Danny Thomas, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. and Ella Fitzgerald. However, The Big Show' s initial success did not last despite critical praise, as most of its potential listeners were increasingly becoming television viewers. The show lasted two years, with NBC losing around $1 million on the project (the network was only able to sell advertising time during the middle half-hour of the program each week).
NBC's last major radio programming push, beginning on June 12, 1955, was Monitor, a creation of NBC President Sylvester "Pat" Weaver, who also created the innovative programs Today, The Tonight Show and Home for the companion television network. Monitor was a continuous all-weekend mixture of music, news, interviews and features, with a variety of hosts including well-known television personalities Dave Garroway, Hugh Downs, Ed McMahon, Joe Garagiola and Gene Rayburn. The potpourri show tried to keep vintage radio alive by featuring segments from Jim and Marian Jordan (in character as Fibber McGee and Molly); Peg Lynch's dialog comedy Ethel and Albert (with Alan Bunce); and iconoclastic satirist Henry Morgan. Monitor was a success for a number of years, but after the mid-1960s, local stations, especially those in larger markets, were reluctant to break from their established formats to run non-conforming network programming. One exception was Toscanini: The Man Behind the Legend, a weekly series commemorating the great conductor's NBC broadcasts and recordings which ran for several years beginning in 1963.[16] After Monitor ended its 20-year run on January 26, 1975, little remained of NBC network radio beyond hourly newscasts and news features, and Sunday morning religious program The Eternal Light.
Decline Edit On June 18, 1975, NBC launched the NBC News and Information Service (NIS), which provided up to 55 minutes of news per hour around the clock to local stations that wanted to adopt an all-news radio format. NBC carried the service on WRC in Washington, and on its owned-and-operated FM stations in New York City, Chicago and San Francisco. NIS attracted several dozen subscribing stations, but by the fall of 1976, NBC determined that it could not project that the service would ever become profitable and gave its affiliates six months' notice that it would be discontinued. NIS ended operations on May 29, 1977. In 1979, NBC launched The Source, a modestly successful secondary network providing news and short features to FMrock stations.[4]
The NBC Radio Network also pioneered personal advice call-in national talk radio with a satellite-distributed evening talk show, TalkNet; the program featured Bruce Williams (providing personal financial advice), Bernard Meltzer (personal and financial advice) and Sally Jessy Raphael (personal and romantic advice). While never much of a ratings success, TalkNet nonetheless helped further the national talk radio format. For affiliates, many of them struggling AM stations, TalkNet helped fill evening time slots with free programming, allowing the stations to sell local advertising in a dynamic format without the cost associated with producing local programming. Some in the industry feared this trend would lead to increasing control of radio content by networks and syndicators.
General Electric acquired RCA in 1986, and with it NBC, signaling the beginning of the end of NBC Radio. Three factors led to the radio division's demise: GE decided that radio did not fit its strategy, while the radio division had not been profitable for many years. In addition, FCC ownership rules at the time prevented companies acquiring broadcast properties from owning both a radio and television division. In the summer of 1987, GE sold NBC Radio's network operations to Westwood One, and sold off the NBC-owned stations to various buyers. By 1990, the NBC Radio Network as an independent programming service was pretty much dissolved, becoming a brand name for content produced by Westwood One, and ultimately by, ironically, CBS Radio. The Mutual Broadcasting System, which Westwood One had acquired two years earlier, met the same fate, and essentially merged with NBC Radio.
GE's divestiture of NBC's entire radio division was the first cannon shot of what would play out in the national broadcast media, as each of the Big Three broadcast networks were soon acquired by other corporate entities. NBC was a particularly noteworthy case in that it was the first to be acquired '' and was bought by a conglomerate outside the broadcast industry as GE otherwise primarily served as a manufacturing company. Prior to the GE acquisition, NBC operated its radio division partly out of tradition, and partly to meet its then-FCC-mandated requirement to distribute programming for the public good (the broadcast airwaves are owned by the public; as that broadcast spectrum is limited and only so many broadcast stations existed, this served as the basis for government regulation requiring broadcasters to provide certain content that meets the needs of the public). Syndicators such as Westwood One were not subject to such rules as they did not own any stations. GE's divestiture of NBC Radio '' known as "America's First Network" '' in many ways marked the "beginning of the end" of the old era of regulated broadcasting and the ushering in of the new, largely unregulated industry that is present today.
By the late 1990s, Westwood One was producing NBC Radio-branded newscasts on weekday mornings. These were discontinued in 1999 (along with Mutual branded newscasts), and the few remaining NBC Radio Network affiliates became affiliates of CNN Radio, carrying the Westwood-owned service's hourly newscasts 24 hours a day. In 2003, Westwood One began distributing NBC News Radio, a new service featuring minute-long news updates read by television anchors and reporters from NBC News and MSNBC, with content written by Westwood One employees.
Restoration Edit On March 1, 2012, Dial Global announced that it would discontinue CNN Radio, and replace it with an expansion of NBC News Radio on April 1, 2012. This marked the first time since Westwood One's purchase of NBC Radio and its properties that NBC would have a 24-hour presence on radio. A previous program, First Light, placed new emphasis on the NBC brand after diminishing it over the years. With the change, NBC News Radio expanded its offerings from 60-second news updates airing only on weekdays to feature two hourly full-length newscasts 24 hours a day. Subsequently, on September 4, 2012, Dial Global launched a sports-talk radio service, NBC Sports Radio.
NBC News Radio has been distributed by iHeartMedia and its TTWN Networks since July 2016. It is provided to the network's 24/7 News Source affiliates and includes a top of the hour newscast along with other audio content which is heard on over 1000 radio stations.[17]
Television Edit
High frequency tubes in the tube room. They were used for the NBC television transmitter, 1936. NBC kept 220 tubes in reserve for their transmitter.For many years, NBC was closely identified with David Sarnoff, who used it as a vehicle to sell consumer electronics. RCA and Sarnoff had captured the spotlight by introducing all-electronic television to the public at the 1939''40 New York World's Fair, simultaneously initiating a regular schedule of programs on the NBC-RCA television station in New York City. President Franklin D. Roosevelt appeared at the fair before the NBC camera, becoming the first U.S. president to appear on television on April 30, 1939 (an actual, off-the-monitor photograph of the FDR telecast is available at the David Sarnoff Library). The broadcast was transmitted by NBC's New York television station W2XBSChannel 1 (later WNBC-TV; now WNBC, channel 4) and was seen by about 1,000 viewers within the station's roughly 40-mile (64 km) coverage area from its transmitter at the Empire State Building.
The following day (May 1), four models of RCA television sets went on sale to the general public in various department stores around New York City, which were promoted in a series of splashy newspaper ads.[18]DuMont Laboratories (and others) had actually offered the first home sets in 1938 in anticipation of NBC's announced April 1939 television launch. Later in 1939, NBC took its cameras to professional football and baseball games in the New York City area, establishing many "firsts" in television broadcasting.
Reportedly, the first NBC Television "network" program was broadcast on January 12, 1940, when a play titled Meet The Wife was originated at the W2XBS studios at Rockefeller Center and rebroadcast by W2XB/W2XAF (now WRGB) in Schenectady, which received the New York station directly off-air from a tower atop a mountain and relayed the live signal to the Capital District. About this time, occasional special events were also broadcast in Philadelphia (over W3XE, later called WPTZ, now known as KYW-TV) as well as Schenectady. The most ambitious NBC television "network" program of the pre-war era was the telecast of the Republican National Convention held in Philadelphia in the summer of 1940, which was fed live to the New York City and Schenectady stations.[19] However, despite major promotion by RCA, television sales in New York during 1939 and 1940 were disappointing, primarily due to the high cost of the sets, and the lack of compelling regularly scheduled programming. Most sets were sold to bars, hotels and other public places, where the general public viewed special sports and news events. One special event was Franklin D. Roosevelt's second and final appearance on live television, when his speech at Madison Square Garden on October 28, 1940, was telecast over W2XBS to receivers in the New York City area.[20]
30 Rockefeller Center, also known as the GE Building, is the world headquarters of NBC.Television's experimental period ended, as the FCC allowed full-fledged commercial television broadcasts to begin on July 1, 1941. NBC station W2XBS in New York City received the first commercial license, adopting the call letters WNBT. The first official, paid television advertisement broadcast by any U.S. station was for watch manufacturer Bulova, which aired that day, just before the start of a Brooklyn Dodgers baseball telecast on WNBT. The ad consisted of test pattern, featuring the newly assigned WNBT call letters, which was modified to resemble a clock '' complete with functioning hands '' with the Bulova logo (featuring the phrase "Bulova Watch Time") in the lower right-hand quadrant of the test pattern (a photograph of the NBC camera setting up the test pattern-advertisement for that ad can be seen at this page). Among the programs that aired during the first week of WNBT's new, commercial schedule was The Sunoco News, a simulcast of the Sun Oil-sponsored NBC Radio program anchored by Lowell Thomas; amateur boxing at Jamaica Arena; the Eastern Clay Courts tennis championships; programming from the USO; the spelling bee-type game show Words on the Wing; a few feature films; and a one-time-only, test broadcast of the game show Truth or Consequences, sponsored by Lever Brothers.[21]
Prior to the first commercial television broadcasts and paid advertisements on WNBT, non-paid television advertising existed on an experimental basis dating back to 1930. NBC's earliest non-paid television commercials may have been those seen during the first Major League Baseball game ever telecast, between the Brooklyn Dodgers and Cincinnati Reds, on August 26, 1939 over W2XBS. In order to secure the rights to televise the game, NBC allowed each of the Dodgers' regular radio sponsors at the time to have one commercial during the telecast. The ads were conducted by Dodgers announcer Red Barber: for Ivory Soap, he held up a bar of the product; for Mobilgas he put on a filling station attendant's cap while giving his spiel; and for Wheaties he poured a bowl of the product, added milk and bananas, and took a big spoonful.[22] Limited, commercial programming continued until the U.S. entered World War II. Telecasts were curtailed in the early years of the war, then expanded as NBC began to prepare for full-time service upon the end of the war. Even before the war concluded, a few programs were sent from New York City to affiliated stations in Philadelphia (WPTZ) and Albany/Schenectady (WRGB) on a regular weekly schedule beginning in 1944, the first of which is generally considered to be the pioneering special interest/documentary show The Voice of Firestone Televues, a television offshoot of The Voice of Firestone, a mainstay on NBC radio since 1928, which was transmitted from New York City to Philadelphia and Schenectady on a regular, weekly basis beginning on April 10, 1944.[23] The series is considered to be the NBC television network's first regularly scheduled program.
Grace Brandt and Eddie Albert in an early NBC television program The Honeymooners-Grace and Eddie Show.On V-E Day, May 8, 1945, WNBT broadcast several hours of news coverage, and remotes from around New York City. This event was promoted in advance by NBC with a direct-mail card sent to television set owners in the New York area.[24] At one point, a WNBT camera placed atop the marquee of the Hotel Astor panned the crowd below celebrating the end of the war in Europe.[25] The vivid coverage was a prelude to television's rapid growth after the war ended.
The NBC television network grew from its initial post-war lineup of four stations. The 1947 World Series featured two New York City area teams (the Yankees and the Dodgers), and television sales boomed locally, since the games were being telecast in the New York market. Additional stations along the East Coast and in the Midwest were connected by coaxial cable through the late 1940s, and in September 1951 the first transcontinental telecasts took place.
The post-war 1940s and early 1950s brought success for NBC in the new medium. Television's first major star, Milton Berle, whose Texaco Star Theatre began in June 1948, drew the first large audiences to NBC Television. Under its innovative president, Sylvester "Pat" Weaver, the network launched Today and The Tonight Show, which would bookend the broadcast day for over 50 years, and which still lead their competitors. Weaver, who also launched the genre of periodic 90-minute network "spectaculars", network-produced motion pictures and the live 90-minute Sunday afternoon series Wide Wide World, left the network in 1955 in a dispute with its chairman David Sarnoff, who subsequently named his son Robert Sarnoff as president.
In 1951, NBC commissioned Italian-American composer Gian Carlo Menotti to compose the first opera ever written for television; Menotti came up with Amahl and the Night Visitors, a 45-minute work for which he wrote both music and libretto, about a disabled shepherd boy who meets the Three Wise Men and is miraculously cured when he offers his crutch to the newborn Christ Child. It was such a stunning success that it was repeated every year on NBC from 1951 to 1966, when a dispute between Menotti and NBC ended the broadcasts. However, by 1978, Menotti and NBC had patched things up, and an all-new production of the opera, filmed partly on location in the Middle East, was telecast that year.
Color television Edit
Title card used by NBC in the 1950s, promoting their color broadcasts.While rival CBS broadcast the first color television programs in the United States, their system was incompatible with the millions of black and white sets in use at the time. After a series of limited, incompatible color broadcasts (mostly scheduled during the day), CBS abandoned the system and broadcasts. This opened the door for the RCA compatible color system to be adopted as the U.S. standard. RCA convinced the FCC to approve its color system in December 1953. NBC was ready with color programming within days of the Commission's decision. NBC began the transition with a few shows in 1954, and broadcast its first program to air all episodes in color beginning that summer, The Marriage.
In 1955, NBC broadcast a live production in color of Peter Pan, a new Broadway musical adaptation of J. M. Barrie's beloved play, on the Producers' Showcase anthology series, The first such telecast of its kind, the broadcast starred the musical's entire original cast, led by Mary Martin as Peter and Cyril Ritchard in a dual role as Mr. Darling and Captain Hook. The broadcast drew the highest ratings for a television program for that period. It was so successful that NBC restaged it as a live broadcast a mere ten months later; in 1960, long after Producers' Showcase had ended its run, Peter Pan, with most of the 1955 cast, was restaged again, this time as a standalone special, and was videotaped so that it would no longer have to be performed live on television.
In 1956, NBC started a subsidiary, California National Productions (CNP), for merchandising, syndication and NBC opera company operations with the production of Silent Services.[26] By 1957, NBC planned to remove the opera company from CNP and[26] CNP was in discussion with MGM Television about handling syndication distribution for MGM series.[26]
During a National Association of Broadcasters meeting in Chicago in 1956, NBC announced that its owned-and-operated station in that market, WNBQ (now WMAQ-TV), had become the first television station in the country to broadcast its programming in color (airing at least six hours of color broadcasts each day). In 1959, NBC premiered a televised version of the radio program The Bell Telephone Hour, which aired in color from its debut; the program would continue on the NBC television network for nine more years until it ended in 1968.
In 1961, NBC approached Walt Disney about acquiring the rights to his anthology series, offering to produce the program in color. Disney was in the midst of negotiating a new contract to keep the program (then known as Walt Disney Presents) on ABC, however ABC president Leonard Goldenson said that it could not counter the offer, as the network did not have the technical and financial resources to carry the program in color. Disney subsequently struck a deal with NBC, which began airing the anthology series in the format in September 1961 (as Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color). As many of the Disney programs that aired in black-and-white on ABC were actually filmed in color, they could easily be re-aired in the format on the NBC broadcasts. In January 1962, NBC's telecast of the Rose Bowl became the first college football game ever to be telecast in color.
By 1963, much of NBC's prime time schedule was presented in color, although some popular series (such as The Man from U.N.C.L.E., which premiered in late 1964) were broadcast in black-and-white for their entire first season. In the fall of 1965, NBC was broadcasting 95% of its prime time schedule in color (with the exceptions of I Dream of Jeannie and Convoy), and began billing itself as "The Full Color Network." Without television sets to sell, rival networks followed more slowly, finally committing to an all-color lineup in prime time in the 1966''67 season. Days of Our Lives became the first soap opera to premiere in color, when it debuted in November 1965.
NBC contracted with Universal Studios in 1964 to produce the first feature-length film produced for television, See How They Run, which first aired on October 17, 1964; its second television movie, The Hanged Man, aired six weeks later on November 28. Even while the presentations performed well in the ratings, NBC did not broadcast another made-for-TV film for two years.[27]
In 1967, NBC reached a deal with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) to acquire the broadcast rights to the classic 1939 film The Wizard of Oz. CBS, which had televised the film annually since 1956, refused to meet MGM's increased fee to renew its television rights. Oz had been, up to then, one of the few programs that CBS had telecast in color. However, by 1967, color broadcasts had become standard on television, and the film simply became another title in the list of specials that NBC telecast in the format. The film's showings on NBC were distinctive as it televised The Wizard of Oz without a hosted introduction, as CBS had long done; it was also slightly edited for time in order to make room to air more commercials. Despite the cuts, however, it continued to score excellent television ratings in those pre-VCR days, as audiences were generally unable to see the film any other way at that time. NBC aired The Wizard of Oz each year from 1968 to 1976, when CBS, realizing that they may have committed a colossal blunder by letting a huge ratings success like Oz go to another network, agreed to pay MGM more money to re-acquire the rights to show the film.
The late 1960s brought big changes in the programming practices of the major television networks. As baby boomers reached adulthood, NBC, CBS and ABC began to realize that much of their existing programming had not only been running for years, but had audiences that skewed older. In order to attract the large youth population that was highly attractive to advertisers, the networks moved to clean house of a number of veteran shows. In NBC's case, this included programs like The Bell Telephone Hour and Sing Along With Mitch, which both had an average viewer age of 50. During this period, the networks came to define adults between the ages of 18 and 49 as their main target audience, although depending on the show, this could be subdivided into other age demos: 35''45, 18''25 or 18''35. Regardless of the exact target demographic, the general idea was to appeal to viewers who were not close to retirement age and to modernize television programming, which the networks felt overall was stuck in a 1950s mentality, to closely resemble contemporary American society.
1970s doldrums Edit The 1970s started strongly for NBC thanks to hits like Adam-12, Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In, Ironside, The Dean Martin Show and The Flip Wilson Show. However, despite the success of such new shows as the NBC Mystery Movie, Sanford and Son, Chico and the Man, Little House on the Prairie, The Midnight Special, The Rockford Files, Police Woman and Emergency!, as well as continued success from veterans like The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson and The Wonderful World of Disney, the network entered a slump in the middle of the decade. Disney, in particular, saw its ratings nosedive once CBS put 60 Minutes up against the program in the Sunday 7:00 p.m. time slot in the 1975''76 season.
In 1974, under new president Herb Schlosser, the network tried to attract younger viewers with a series of costly movies, miniseries and specials. This failed to attract the desirable 18''34 demographic, and simultaneously alienated older viewers.[28] None of the new prime-time shows that NBC introduced in the fall of 1975 earned a second season renewal, all failing in the face of established competition. The network's lone breakout success that season was the groundbreaking late-night comedy/variety show, NBC's Saturday Night '' which would be renamed Saturday Night Live in 1976, after the cancellation of a Howard Cosell-hosted program of the same title on ABC '' which replaced reruns of The Tonight Show that previously aired in its Saturday time slot.
In 1978, Schlosser was promoted to executive vice president at RCA,[29] and a desperate NBC lured Fred Silverman away from top-rated ABC to turn its fortunes around. With the notable exceptions of CHiPs, Diff'rent Strokes and its spin-off The Facts of Life, Real People and the miniseries Shōgun, Silverman was unable to pull out a hit. Failures accumulated rapidly under his watch (such as Hello, Larry, Supertrain, Pink Lady and Jeff, The Krofft Superstar Hour and The Waverly Wonders). Ironically, many of them were beaten in the ratings by shows that Silverman had greenlit during his previous tenures at CBS and ABC.
During this time, several longtime affiliates also defected from NBC in markets such as Atlanta (WSB-TV), Baltimore (WBAL-TV), Baton Rouge (WBRZ-TV), Charlotte (WSOC-TV), Dayton (WDTN), Indianapolis (WRTV), Jacksonville (WTLV), Minneapolis-St. Paul (KSTP-TV), San Diego (KGTV), Schenectady (WRGB) and Wheeling (WTRF-TV). Most were wooed away by ABC, which had lifted out of last place to become the #1 network during the late 1970s and early 1980s, while WBAL-TV, WRGB and WTRF-TV went to CBS; WBAL-TV was originally to go to ABC, but the station decided against it because ABC's evening newscasts had attracted ratings too dismal for them to consider doing so.[30][31] In the case of WSB-TV and WSOC-TV, which have both since become ABC affiliates, both stations were (and remain) under common ownership with Cox Enterprises, with its other NBC affiliate at the time, WIIC-TV in Pittsburgh (which would become WPXI in 1981 and also remains owned by Cox), only staying with the network because WIIC-TV itself was a distant third to CBS-affiliated powerhouse KDKA-TV and ABC affiliate WTAE-TV (KDKA-TV, owned at the time by Group W and now owned by CBS, infamously passed up affiliating with NBC after Westinghouse bought the station from DuMont in 1954, leading to an acrimonious relationship between NBC and Westinghouse that lasted for years afterward). In markets such as San Diego, Charlotte and Jacksonville, NBC had little choice but to affiliate with a UHF station, with the San Diego station (KNSD) eventually becoming an NBC O&O. In Wheeling, NBC ultimately upgraded its affiliation when it partnered with WTOV-TV in nearby Steubenville, Ohio, overtaking former affiliate WTRF-TV in the ratings by a large margin. Other smaller television markets like Yuma, Arizona waited many years to get another local NBC affiliate (first with KIVA, and later KYMA). The stations in Baltimore, Dayton and Jacksonville, however, have since rejoined the network.
After President Jimmy Carter pulled the U.S. team out of the 1980 Summer Olympics, NBC canceled a planned 150 hours of coverage (which had cost $87 million for the broadcast rights), placing the network's future in doubt. It had been counting on the broadcasts to help promote its new fall shows, and had been estimated to pull in $170 million in advertising revenue.[32]
The press was merciless towards Silverman, but the two most savage attacks on his leadership came from within the network. The company that composed the promotional theme for NBC's "Proud as a Peacock" image campaign created a parody song called "Loud as a Peacock," which was broadcast on Don Imus' program on WNBC radio in New York. Its lyrics blamed Silverman for the network's problems ("The Peacock's dead, so thank you, Fred"). An angered Silverman ordered all remaining copies of the spoof destroyed, although some copies remain in circulation. Saturday Night Live writer and occasional performer Al Franken satirized Silverman in a sketch on the program titled "A Limo For A Lame-O", where he presented a chart with the top-10 rated programs for that season and commented that there was "not one N" on the list. Silverman later admitted he "never liked Al Franken to begin with", and the sketch ruined Franken's chance of succeeding Lorne Michaels as executive producer of SNL following his 1980 departure (with the position going to Jean Doumanian, who was fired after one season following declining ratings and negative critical reviews. Michaels would later return to the show in 1986).[33]
Tartikoff's turnaround Edit Fred Silverman resigned as entertainment president in the summer of 1981. Grant Tinker, a highly regarded producer who co-founded MTM Enterprises with then-wife Mary Tyler Moore, became president of the network and Brandon Tartikoff became president of the entertainment division. Tartikoff inherited a schedule full of aging dramas and very few sitcoms, but showed patience with promising programs. One such show was the critically acclaimed Hill Street Blues, which suffered from poor ratings during its first season. Rather than canceling the show, he moved the Emmy Award-winning police drama from Steven Bochco to Thursdays, where its ratings improved dramatically. He used the same tactics with St. Elsewhere and Cheers. Shows like these were able to get the same ad revenue as their higher-rated competition because of their desirable demographics, upscale adults ages 18''34.[34] While the network claimed moderate successes with Gimme a Break!, Silver Spoons, Knight Rider and Remington Steele, its biggest hit during this period was The A-Team, which, at 10th place, was the network's only program to rank in the Nielsen Top-20 for the 1982''83 season, and ascended to fourth place the following year. These shows helped NBC through the disastrous 1983''84 season, which saw none of its nine new fall shows gaining a second year.[35]
In February 1982, NBC canceled Tom Snyder's The Tomorrow Show and gave the 12:35 a.m. time slot to 34-year-old comedian David Letterman. Though Letterman was unsuccessful with his weekday morning talk show effort for the network (which debuted on June 23, 1980), Late Night with David Letterman proved much more successful, lasting for 11 years and serving as the launching pad for another late-night talk franchise that continues to this day.
In 1984, the huge success of The Cosby Show led to a renewed interest in sitcoms, while Family Ties and Cheers, both of which premiered in 1982 to mediocre ratings (the latter ranking at near dead last among all network shows during the 1982''83 season), saw their viewership increase from having Cosby as a lead-in. The network rose from third place to second in the ratings during the 1984''85 season and reached first place in 1986''86, with hits The Golden Girls, Miami Vice, 227, Night Court, Highway to Heaven and Hunter. The network's upswing continued late into the decade with ALF, Amen, Matlock, L.A. Law, The Hogan Family, A Different World, Empty Nest, Unsolved Mysteries and In the Heat of the Night. In 1986, Bob Wright was appointed as chairman of NBC.
In the fall of 1987, NBC conceived a syndication package for its owned-and-operated stations, under the brand "Prime Time Begins at 7:30", consisting of five sitcoms that each aired once a week, and were produced by various production companies contracted by NBC. The series included Marblehead Manor (from Paramount Television, airing Mondays), centering on a mansion owner and the people who live with him;[36]She's the Sheriff (from Lorimar-Telepictures and airing Tuesdays), a comeback vehicle for Suzanne Somers which cast her as a widowed county sheriff;[36] a series adapted from the George S. Kaufman play You Can't Take It with You (airing Wednesdays), starring Harry Morgan; Out of This World (from MCA Television and airing Thursdays), which starred Maureen Flannigan as a teenager born to an alien father and human mother that develops supernatural abilities on her 15th birthday;[37] and a revival of the short-lived 1983 NBC series We Got It Made (produced by Fred Silverman for MGM Television and closing out the week on Fridays), as part of an ongoing trend at the time in which former network series were revived in first-run syndication.[37]
The package was aimed at attracting viewers to NBC stations in the half-hour preceding prime time (8:00 p.m. in the Eastern and Pacific Time Zone, 7:00 p.m. elsewhere),[37][38] and was conceived as a result of the FCC's loosening of the Prime Time Access Rule, legislation passed in 1971 that required networks to turn over the 7:30 p.m. (Eastern) time slot to local stations to program local or syndicated content; and the relaxation of the Financial Interest and Syndication Rules, which had prevented networks from producing content from their own syndication units to fill the void.[38] The shows that were part of the package were regularly outrated in many markets by such syndicated game shows as Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy! and Hollywood Squares. Marblehead Manor, We Got It Made and You Can't Take It With You were cancelled at the end of the 1987''88 season, with She's the Sheriff lasting one more season in weekend syndication before its cancellation. Out of This World ran for three additional seasons, airing mainly on weekends, and was the most successful of the five series.
NBC aired the first of eight consecutive Summer Olympic Games broadcasts when it covered the 1988 Games in Seoul, South Korea. The 1988''89 season saw NBC have an astonishing 18 series in Nielsen's year-end Top 30 most-watched network programs; it also ranked at first place in the weekly ratings for more than 12 months, an unprecedented achievement that has not been duplicated since. The network continued its hot streak into the early 1990s with new hits such as The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Blossom and Law & Order.
"Must See TV" Edit In 1991, Tartikoff left his role as NBC's President of Entertainment to take an executive position at Paramount Pictures. In the course of a decade, he had taken control of a network with no shows in the Nielsen Top 10 and left it with five. Tartikoff was succeeded by Warren Littlefield, whose first years as entertainment president proved shaky as a result of most of the Tartikoff-era hits ending their runs. Some blamed Littlefield for losing David Letterman to CBS after naming Jay Leno as the successor to Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show, following the latter's retirement as host in May 1992. Things turned around with the launches of new hit series such as Mad About You, Wings, Sisters, Frasier, Friends, ER and Will & Grace.
One of Tartikoff's late acquisitions, Seinfeld initially struggled from its debut in 1989 as a summer series, but grew to become one of NBC's top-rated shows after it was moved to Thursdays in the time slot following Cheers. Seinfeld ended its run in 1998, becoming the latest overall television program in the U.S. to end its final season as the leader in the Nielsen ratings for a single television season. Consequently, Friends emerged as NBC's biggest television show after the 1998 Seinfeld final broadcast. It dominated the ratings, never leaving the top five watched shows of the year from its second through tenth seasons and landing on the number-one spot during season eight in the 2001''02 season as the latest sitcom in the U.S. to lead the annual Nielsen primetime television ratings. Cheers spinoff Frasier became a critical and commercial success, usually landing in the Nielsen Top 20 '' although its ratings were overshadowed to a minor extent by Friends '' and went on to win numerous Emmy Awards (eventually setting a record for a sitcom that lasted until it was overtaken by Modern Family in 2014). In 1994, the network began branding its strong Thursday night lineup, mainly in reference to the comedies airing in the first two hours, under the "Must See TV" tagline (which during the mid- and late 1990s, was also applied to NBC's comedy blocks on other nights, particularly on Tuesdays).
By the mid-1990s, NBC's sports division, headed by Dick Ebersol, had rights to three of the four major professional sports leagues (the NFL, Major League Baseball and the NBA), the Olympics, and the national powerhouse Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team. The NBA on NBC enjoyed great success in the 1990s due in large part to the Chicago Bulls' run of six championships at the hands of superstar Michael Jordan. However, NBC Sports would suffer a major blow in 1998, when it lost the rights to the American Football Conference (AFC) to CBS, which itself had lost rights to the National Football Conference (NFC) to Fox four years earlier;[39] the deal stripped NBC of National Football League (NFL) game telecasts after 59 years and AFC games after 36 years (dating back to its existence as the American Football League prior to its 1970 merger with the NFL).
Littlefield left NBC in 1998 to pursue a career as a television and film producer,[40] with the network subsequently going through three entertainment presidents in three years. Littlefield was replaced as president of NBC Entertainment by Scott Sassa, who oversaw the development of such shows as The West Wing, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and Fear Factor. After Sassa was reassigned to NBC's West Coast Division, Garth Ancier was named as his replacement in 1999.[41]Jeff Zucker then succeeded Ancier as president of NBC Entertainment in 2000.[42]
New century, new problems Edit At the start of the 2000s, NBC's fortunes started to take a rapid turn for the worse. That year, NBC's longstanding ratings lead ended as CBS (which had languished in the ratings after losing the NFL) overtook it for first place. In 2001, CBS chose to move its hit reality series Survivor to serve as the anchor of its Thursday night lineup. Its success was taken as a suggestion that NBC's nearly two decades of dominance on Thursday nights could be broken; even so, the strength of Friends, Will & Grace, ER and Just Shoot Me! (the latter of which saw its highest viewership following its move to that night in the 2000''01 season) helped the network continue to lead the Thursday ratings. Overall, NBC retook its first place lead that year, and spent much of the next four years (with the exception of the 2002''03 season, when it was briefly jumped again by CBS for first) in the top spot.
On the other hand, NBC was stripped of the broadcast rights to two other major sports leagues: it lost Major League Baseball to Fox after the 2000 season (by that point, NBC only had alternating rights to the All-Star Game, League Championship Series and World Series), and, later, the NBA to ABC after the 2001''02 season. After losing the NBA rights, NBC's major sports offerings were reduced to the Olympics (which in 2002, expanded to include rights to the Winter Olympics, as part of a contract that gave it the U.S. television rights to both the Summer and Winter Olympics through 2012), PGA Tour golf events and a floundering Notre Dame football program (however, it would eventually acquire the rights to the National Hockey League in May 2004).
In October 2001, NBC acquired Spanish-language network Telemundo from Liberty Media and Sony Pictures Entertainment for $2.7 billion, beating out other bidders including CBS/Viacom. The deal was finalized in 2002.[43][44]
In 2003, French entertainment conglomerate Vivendi Universal (renamed Vivendi in 2006) sold 80% of its film and television subsidiary Vivendi Universal Entertainment to NBC's parent company General Electric, integrating the company with Vivendi's various film, television and amusement properties (including Universal Pictures), under the integrated NBC Universal. NBC Universal was then owned 80% by General Electric and 20% by Vivendi. In 2004, Zucker was promoted to the newly created position of president of NBC Universal Television Group. Kevin Reilly became the new president of NBC Entertainment.[45]
In 2004, NBC experienced a Three on a match scenario (Friends and Frasier ended their runs; Jerry Orbach, who had played one of the most popular characters of its hit Law & Order, died suddenly later that year), and shortly afterward was left with several moderately rated shows and few true hits.[46] In particular, Friends spin-off Joey, despite a relatively strong start, started to falter in the ratings during its second season. The 2004''05 season saw NBC become the first major network to air select dramas in letterbox over its analog broadcast feed; the move was done in the hopes of attracting new viewers, although the network saw only a slight boost.
In December 2005, NBC began its first week-long primetime game show event, Deal or No Deal; the series garnered high ratings, and returning as a weekly series in March 2006. Otherwise, the 2005''06 season was one of the worst for NBC in three decades, with only one fall series, the sitcom My Name Is Earl, surviving for a second season; the sole remaining anchor of the "Must See TV" lineup, Will & Grace also saw its ratings decline. That season, NBC's ratings freefalled to fourth place, behind a resurgent ABC, Fox (which would eventually become the most-watched U.S. broadcast network in the 2007''08 season) and top-rated CBS (which led for much of the remainder of the decade). During this time, all of the networks faced audience erosion from increased competition by cable television, home video, video games and the Internet, with NBC being the hardest hit.
The 2006''07 season was a mixed bag for the network, with Deal or No Deal remaining strong and Heroes becoming a surprise hit on Monday nights, while the highly touted Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip (from West Wing creator Aaron Sorkin) lost a third of its premiere-night viewers by Week 6 and was eventually cancelled; two critically acclaimed sitcoms, The Office and 30 Rock, also pulled in modest successes and went on to win the Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Series for four consecutive years. The network also regained the rights to the NFL after eight years that season when it acquired the Sunday Night Football package from ESPN (as part of a deal that also saw Monday Night Football move to ESPN from ABC). However, despite this, NBC remained at a very distant fourth place, barely ranking ahead of The CW.
However, NBC did experience success with its summer schedule, despite its declining ratings during the main broadcast season. America's Got Talent, a reality talent competition series that premiered in 2006, earned a 4.6 rating in the 18-49 demographic, higher than that earned by the 2002 premiere of Fox's American Idol. Got Talent (which is the flagship of an international talent competition franchise) would continue to garner unusually high ratings throughout its summer run. However, NBC decided not to place it in the spring season, and instead use it as a platform to promote their upcoming fall shows. Originally hosted by Regis Philbin, as of 2013[update] the series is currently hosted by Nick Cannon, and continues to garner strong ratings throughout its summer seasons. In March 2007, NBC announced that it would begin offering full-length episodes of its prime time series for streaming on mobile devices, becoming the first U.S. broadcast network to offer on-demand mobile episode content, as the market began shifting away from traditional television.[47]
Following the unexpected termination of Kevin Reilly, in 2007, Ben Silverman was appointed president of NBC Entertainment,[48] while Jeff Zucker was promoted to succeed Bob Wright as CEO of NBC. The network failed to generate any new primetime hits during the 2008''09 season (despite the rare good fortune of having the rights to both the Super Bowl and the Summer Olympics in which to promote their new programming slate), the sitcom Parks and Recreation survived for a second season after a six-episode first season, while Heroes and Deal or No Deal both collapsed in the ratings and were later cancelled (with a revamped Deal or No Deal being revived for one additional season in syndication). In a March 2009 interview, Zucker had stated that he no longer believed it would be possible for NBC to become #1 in prime time.[49] Ben Silverman left the network in 2009, with Jeff Gaspin replacing him as president of NBC Entertainment.
Comcast era (2011''present) Edit On December 3, 2009, Comcast announced they would purchase a 51% controlling stake in NBC Universal from General Electric (which would retain the remaining 49%) for $6.5 billion in cash and $9.1 billion in raised debt.[50] GE used $5.8 billion from the deal to buy out Vivendi's 20% interest in NBC Universal.[50]
NBC's broadcast of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, in February of that year, generated a ratings increase of 21% over its broadcast of the 2006 Winter Games in Torino. The network was criticized for repeatedly showing footage of a crash occurring during practice for an Olympic luge competition that killed Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili. NBC News president Steve Capus ordered the footage not to be shown without his permission and Olympics prime time host Bob Costas promised on-air that the video would not be shown again during the Games.[51][52] NBC Universal was on track to lose $250 million in advertising revenue on that year's Winter Olympics, failing to make up the $820 million it paid for the U.S. television rights.[53] Even so, with its continuing position in fourth place (although it virtually tied with ABC in many demographics on the strength of NBC's sports broadcasts that year[54]), the 2009''10 season ended with only two scripted shows '' Community and Parenthood, as well as three unscripted shows '' The Marriage Ref, Who Do You Think You Are? and Minute to Win It '' being renewed for second seasons, while other series such as Heroes and veteran crime drama Law & Order (the latter of which ended after 20 seasons, tying it with Gunsmoke as the longest-running prime time drama in U.S. television history) were cancelled.
Supporters of Conan O'Brien's hosting duties at The Tonight Show stage a protest outside Universal Studios in Los Angeles.After Conan O'Brien succeeded Jay Leno as host of The Tonight Show in 2009, the network gave Leno a new prime time talk show, committing to air it every weeknight at 10:00 p.m. Eastern and Pacific as an inexpensive comedic alternative to the police procedurals and other hour-long dramas typically aired in that time slot.[55] In doing so, NBC became the first major U.S. broadcast network in decades,[56] if ever,[57] to broadcast the same program in a weekdaily prime time strip. Its executives called the decision "a transformational moment in the history of broadcasting" and "in effect, launching five shows."[56] Conversely, industry executives criticized the network for abandoning a history of airing quality dramas in the 10:00 hour, and expressed concern that it would hurt NBC by undermining a reputation built on successful scripted series.[58] Citing complaints from many affiliates, which saw their late-evening newscasts drop significantly in the local ratings during The Jay Leno Show' s run, NBC announced on January 10, 2010 that it would drop Leno's show from the 10:00 p.m. slot ''[59] with Zucker announcing plans to shift the program (which would have been reduced to a half-hour) into the 11:35 p.m. slot and shift its existing late night lineup (including The Tonight Show) by 30 minutes. The removal of The Jay Leno Show from its prime time schedule had almost no impact on the network's ratings. The increases NBC experienced in the 2010''11 season compared to 2009''10 were almost entirely attributable to the rising viewership of NBC Sunday Night Football.[60] By 2012, the shows that occupied the 10:00 p.m. time slot drew lower numbers than The Jay Leno Show did when it aired in that hour two years before.[61] In the spring of 2010, cable provider and multimedia firm Comcast announced it would acquire a majority interest in NBC Universal from General Electric, which would retain a minority stake in the company in the interim.
On September 24, 2010, Jeff Zucker announced that he would step down as NBC Universal's CEO once the company's merger with Comcast was completed at the end of the year.[62][63] After the deal was finalized, Steve Burke was named CEO of NBCUniversal[64] and Robert Greenblatt replaced Jeff Gaspin as chairman of NBC Entertainment.[65] In 2011, NBC was finally able to find a breakout hit in the midseason reality singing competition series The Voice. Otherwise, NBC had another tough season, with every single new fall program getting cancelled by season's end - the third time this has happened to the network after the fall of 1975, and the fall of 1983 - and the midseason legal drama Harry's Law being its only freshman scripted series to be renewed for the 2011''12 season. The network nearly completed its full conversion to an all-HD schedule (outside of the Saturday morning time slot leased by the Qubo consortium, which NBCUniversal would rescind its stake in the following year) on September 20, 2011, when Last Call with Carson Daly converted to the format with the premiere of its 11th season.
The 2011''12 season was another tough season for NBC. On the upside, the network's broadcast of Super Bowl XLVI was the most-watched program in U.S. television history at the time, and the network's Monday night midseason lineup of The Voice and musical-drama Smash was very successful. The network managed to lift itself into third place in the 18-49 demographic in the 2011''12 season, primarily on the strength of those three programs (SNF, The Voice, and Smash), breaking the network's eight-year streak in fourth place. Four shows survived for a second season, but three of them were cancelled in the following year, none were unqualified ratings successes, and the network remained a distant fourth place in total viewership.
In the fall of 2012, NBC greatly expanded its sitcom roster, with eight comedy series airing on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights. NBC bounced back to first place network in adults 18-49 that fall, boosted by the new season of The Voice, the initial success of freshman drama Revolution and sitcom Go On, and the continued strength of Sunday Night Football. However, withholding the new season of The Voice and benching Revolution until late March, the network's midseason ratings suffered, falling to fifth place behind Spanish-language network Univision during the February sweeps period.[66] The 2012''13 season ended with NBC finishing in third place overall,[67][68] albeit by a narrow margin, with only three new shows, all dramas, surviving for a second season (Revolution, Chicago Fire and Hannibal).
In 2013, NBC Sports migrated its business and production operations (including NBCSN) to new facilities in Stamford, Connecticut.[69] Production of the network's NFL pre-game showFootball Night in America remained at the NBC Studios at Rockefeller Center (with production operations based in Studio 8G, while the program itself was broadcast in Studio 8H, the longtime home of Saturday Night Live), until it migrated to the Stamford facility in September 2014. Despite the failure of another highly advertised game show event, The Million Second Quiz, the 2013''14 season was mostly successful for NBC due to the continued success of The Voice, Chicago Fire, Revolution, Sunday Night Football and Grimm. Along with new hits including The Blacklist, Hannibal and Chicago PD and a significant ratings boost from its broadcast of the 2014 Winter Olympics, NBC became the #1 network in the coveted 18-49 demographic that season for the first time since 2003''04, when Friends ended. NBC also improved considerably in total viewership, finishing behind long-dominant CBS in second place for the season.[70]
The 2014''15 season was something of a mixed bag for NBC, but still successful. NBC launched eight new series that year, with only one, comedy-drama police procedural The Mysteries of Laura, being renewed for a second season. Nevertheless, the network continued to experience success with most of its returning series, especially The Blacklist (despite a modest decline in viewership following its move to Thursdays midway through the season, due partly to an initial weak lead-in from miniseries The Slap). Combined with the record number of viewers tuning in to Super Bowl XLIX, NBC again finished #1 in the 18-49 demographic and in second place overall.[71]
The 2015''16 season was successful for NBC, with the successful launch of the new drama Blindspot premiering after The Voice, then subsequently being renewed for a second season in November 2015.[72] NBC also continued with the success with the Chicago franchise with launching its second spin-off Chicago Med, which also received an early second season pick up in February 2016.[73] Thursday nights continues to be a struggle for NBC, with continued success with the third season of The Blacklist brought the failed launch of Heroes Reborn which was cancelled in January 2016,[74] and thriller The Player, however NBC found success with police procedural Shades of Blue which improved the 10pm time slot and was renewed for a second season in February 2016.[75] On the comedy side, NBC surprisingly found success in the new workplace sitcom Superstore which premiered as a "preview" after The Voice in November 2015, and officially launched in January 2016 which brought decent ratings for a new comedy without The Voice as a lead-in and which was subsequently renewed for a second season in February 2016.[76]
The 2016''17 season brought more success for NBC with new Comedy-drama This Is Us which was well received by critics and ratings and was renewed for two additional seasons in January 2017.[77]The Blacklist continued to bring in modest ratings however, it brought the failed launch of its spinoff The Blacklist: Redemption. NBC continued to grow the Chicago franchise with a third spinoff titled Chicago Justice. On the comedy side, workplace sitcom Superstore continued success in its second season. The network launched new fantasy sitcom The Good Place following The Voice and brought in modest ratings and was renewed for a second season in January 2017.[78]
As of 2013[update], NBC provides 87 hours of regularly scheduled network programming each week. The network provides 22 hours of prime time programming to affiliated stations Monday through Saturdays from 8:00''11:00 p.m. (7:00''10:00 p.m. in all other U.S. time zones) and Sundays from 7:00''11:00 p.m. Eastern and Pacific Time (6:00''10:00 p.m. in all other time zones).
Daytime programming is also provided weekdays between 12:00 and 3:00 p.m. in the form of the one-hour weekday soap opera Days of Our Lives (the scheduling of the program varies depending on the station, although it is initially fed to affiliates at 1:00 p.m. Eastern). NBC News programming includes the morning news/interview program Today from 7:00''11:00 a.m. weekdays, 7:00''9:00 on Saturdays and 7:00''8:00 on Sundays; nightly editions of NBC Nightly News (whose weekend editions are occasionally subject to abbreviation or preemption due to sports telecasts overrunning into the program's time slot), the Sunday political talk showMeet the Press, weekday early-morning news program Early Today and newsmagazine Dateline NBC. Late nights feature the weeknight talk shows The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Late Night with Seth Meyers and Last Call with Carson Daly, weeknight replays of the fourth hour of Today and CNBC program Mad Money, and the sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live, and the LXTV-produced 1st Look and Open House NYC on Saturdays (replays of the previous week's 1st Look also air on Friday late nights on most stations).
The network's Saturday morning children's programming time slot is programmed by Litton Entertainment under a time-lease agreement. The three-hour block of programming designed for 14-16 year-old teenage viewers is under the umbrella branding of The More You Know, based on the network's long-time strand of internally-produced public service announcements of the same name. It premiered on October 8, 2016, giving Litton control of all but Fox's Saturday morning E/I programming among the five major broadcast networks.
Sports programming is also provided weekend afternoons at any time between 12:00 and 6:00 p.m. (9:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m., or tape-delayed in the Pacific Time Zone). Due to the unpredictable length of sporting events, NBC will occasionally pre-empt scheduled programs (more common with the weekend editions of NBC Nightly News, and local and syndicated programs carried by its owned-and-operated stations and affiliates). NBC has also held the American broadcasting rights to the Summer Olympic Games since the 1988 games and the rights to the Winter Olympic Games since the 2002 games. Coverage of the Olympics on NBC have included pre-empting regularly scheduled programs during daytime, primetime, and late night.
NBC News Edit News coverage has long been an important part of NBC's operations and public image, dating to the network's radio days. Notable NBC News productions past and present include Today, NBC Nightly News (and its immediate predecessor, the Huntley-Brinkley Report), Meet the Press (which has the distinction of the longest continuously running program in the history of American television), Dateline NBC, Early Today, NBC News at Sunrise, NBC Nightside and Rock Center with Brian Williams.
In 1989, the news division began its expansion to cable with the launch of business news channel CNBC. The company eventually formed other cable news services including MSNBC (created in 1996 originally as a joint venture with Microsoft, which now features a mix of general news and political discussion programs with a liberal stance),[79][80] and the 2008 acquisition of The Weather Channel in conjunction with Blackstone Group and Bain Capital. In addition, NBCSN (operated as part of the NBC Sports Group, and which became an NBC property through Comcast's acquisition of NBCUniversal) carries sports news content alongside sports event telecasts. Key anchors from NBC News are also used during NBC Sports coverage of the Olympic Games.
Daytime programming Edit NBC is currently the home to only one daytime program, the hour-long soap opera Days of Our Lives, which has been broadcast on the network since 1965. Since NBC turned back an hour of its then two-hour daytime schedule to its affiliates as a result of the September 2007 expansion of Today to four hours, the network currently ties with The CW for the fewest daytime programming hours of any major broadcast television network.
Long-running daytime dramas seen on NBC in the past include The Doctors (1963''1982), Another World (1964''1999), Santa Barbara (1984''1993), and Passions (1999''2007, later moving to The 101). NBC also aired the final 4½ years of Search for Tomorrow (1982''1986) after that series was initially cancelled by CBS, although many NBC affiliates did not clear the show during its tenure on the network. NBC has also aired numerous short-lived soap operas, including Generations (1989''1991), Sunset Beach (1997''1999), and the two Another World spin-offs, Somerset (1970''1976) and Texas (1980''1982).
Notable daytime game shows that once aired on NBC include The Price Is Right (1956''1963), Concentration (1958''1973 and 1987''1991 as Classic Concentration), The Match Game (1962''1969), Let's Make a Deal (1963''1968 and 1990''1991, as well as a short-lived primetime revival in 2002), Jeopardy! (1964''1975 and 1978''1979), The Hollywood Squares (1966''1980), Wheel of Fortune (1975''1989 and 1991), Password Plus/Super Password (1979''1982 and 1984''1989), Sale of the Century (1969''1973 and 1983''1989) and Scrabble (1984''1990 and 1993). The last game show ever to air as part of NBC's daytime schedule was the short-lived Caesars Challenge, which ended in January 1994.
Notable past daytime talk shows that have aired on NBC have included Home (1954''1957), The Ernie Kovacs Show (1955''1956), The Merv Griffin Show (1962''1963), Leeza (1994''1999) and Later Today (1999''2000).
Children's programming Edit Children's programming has played a part in NBC's programming since its initial roots in television. NBC's first major children's series, Howdy Doody, debuted in 1947 and was one of the era's first breakthrough television shows. From the mid-1960s until 1992, the bulk of NBC's children's programming was composed of mainly animated programming including classic Looney Tunes and Woody Woodpecker shorts; reruns of primetime animated sitcoms such as The Flintstones and The Jetsons; foreign acquisitions like Astro Boy and Kimba the White Lion; animated adaptions of Punky Brewster, ALF and Star Trek as well as animated vehicles for Gary Coleman and Mr. T; live-action programs like The Banana Splits, The Bugaloos and H.R. Pufnstuf; and the original broadcasts of Gumby, The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show, Underdog, The Smurfs, Alvin and the Chipmunks and Disney's Adventures of the Gummi Bears. From 1984 to 1989, the network aired a series of public service announcements called One to Grow On, which aired after the end credits of every program or every other children's program.[81]
In 1989, NBC premiered Saved by the Bell, a live-action teen sitcom which originated on The Disney Channel the previous year as Good Morning, Miss Bliss (which served as a starring vehicle for Hayley Mills; fourcast membersfromthat show were cast in the NBC series as the characters they originally played on Miss Bliss). Saved by the Bell, despite being given bad reviews from television critics, would become one of the most popular teen series in television history as well as the top-rated series on Saturday mornings, dethroning ABC's The Bugs Bunny and Tweety Show in its first season.
The success of Saved by the Bell led NBC to remove animated series from its Saturday morning lineup in August 1992 in favor of additional live-action series as part of a new block called TNBC, along with the debut of a Saturday edition of Today. Most of the series featured on the TNBC lineup were executive produced by Peter Engel (such as City Guys, Hang Time, California Dreams, One World and the Saved by the Bell spinoff, Saved by the Bell: The New Class), with the lineup being designed from the start to meet the earliest form of the FCC's educational programming guidelines under the Children's Television Act.[82]NBA Inside Stuff, an analysis and interview program aimed at teens that was hosted for most of its run by Ahmad Rashād, was also a part of the TNBC lineup during the NBA season until 2002 (when the program moved to ABC as a result of that network taking the NBA rights from NBC).
In 2002, NBC entered into an agreement with Discovery Communications to carry educational children's programs from the Discovery Kids cable channel.[82] Debuting that September, the Discovery Kids on NBC block originally consisted exclusively of live-action series, including reality series Trading Spaces: Boys vs. Girls (a kid-themed version of the TLC series Trading Spaces); the Emmy-nominated reality game show Endurance, hosted and produced by J. D. Roth (whose production company, 3-Ball Productions, would also produce reality series The Biggest Loser for NBC beginning in 2003); and scripted series such as Strange Days at Blake Holsey High and Scout's Safari. The block later expanded to include some animated series such as Kenny the Shark, Tutenstein and Time Warp Trio.
In May 2006, NBC announced plans to launch a new Saturday morning children's block under the Qubo brand in September 2006.[83] An endeavor originally operated as a joint venture between NBC Universal, Ion Media Networks, Scholastic Press, Classic Media and Corus Entertainment's Nelvana unit (Ion acquired the other partners' shares in 2013), the Qubo venture also encompassed weekly blocks on Telemundo and Ion Television, a 24-hour digital multicast network on Ion's owned-and-operated and affiliated stations, as well as video on demand services and a branded website. Qubo launched on NBC on September 9, 2006 with six programs (VeggieTales, Dragon, VeggieTales Presents: 3-2-1 Penguins!, Babar, Jane and the Dragon and Jacob Two-Two).
On March 28, 2012, it was announced that NBC would launch a new Saturday morning preschool block programmed by Sprout (originally jointly owned by NBCUniversal, PBS, Sesame Workshop and Apax Partners, with the former acquiring the other's interests later that year). The block, NBC Kids, premiered on July 7, 2012, replacing the "Qubo on NBC" block.[84][85][86][87]
Specials Edit NBC holds the broadcast rights to several annual specials and award show telecasts including the Golden Globe Awards and the Emmy Awards (which is rotated across all four major networks each year). Since 1952, NBC has served as the official U.S. broadcaster of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. CBS also carries unauthorized coverage of the Macy's parade as part of The Thanksgiving Day Parade on CBS; However, as NBC holds rights to the parade, it has exclusivity over the broadcast of Broadway and music performances appearing in the parade (CBS airs live performances separate from those seen in the parade as a result), and Macy's chose to reroute the parade in 2012 out of the view of CBS' cameras, although it continues to cover the parade. NBC began airing a same-day rebroadcast of the parade telecast in 2009 (replacing its annual Thanksgiving afternoon airing of Miracle on 34th Street). In 2007, NBC acquired the rights to the National Dog Show, which airs following the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade each year.
The network also broadcasts several live-action and animated specials during the Christmas holiday season, including the 2014 debuts How Murray Saved Christmas (an animated musical adaptation of the children's book of the same name) and Elf: Buddy's Musical Christmas (a stop-motion animated special based on the 2003 live-action film Elf).
Since 2013, the network has aired live musical adaptations with major stars in lead roles. Originally dismissed as a gimmick, they have proven to be ratings successes, as well as a nostalgic tribute to the early days of television. Past adaptations include:
Scheduled live musical broadcasts include:
From 2003 to 2014, NBC also held rights to two of the three pageants organized by the Miss Universe Organization: the Miss Universe and Miss USA pageants (NBC also held rights to the Miss Teen USA pageant from 2003, when NBC also assumed rights to the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants as part of a deal brokered by Miss Universe Organization owner Donald Trump that gave the network half-ownership of the pageants,[88] until 2007, when NBC declined to renew its contract to carry Miss Teen USA, effectively discontinuing televised broadcasts of that event). NBCUniversal relinquished the rights to Miss Universe and Miss USA on June 29, 2015, as part of its decision to cut business ties with Donald Trump and the Miss Universe Organization (which was half-owned by corporate parent NBCUniversal) in response to controversial remarks about Mexican immigrants made by Trump during the launch of his 2016 campaign for the Republican Presidential nomination.[89][90]
Programming library Edit Through the years, NBC has produced many in-house programs, in addition to airing content from other producers such as Revue Studios and its successor Universal Television. Notable in-house productions by NBC have included Get Smart, Bonanza, Little House on the Prairie, Las Vegas and Crossing Jordan.
NBC sold the distribution rights to programs it produced prior to that year to National Telefilm Associates in 1973; those rights are currently owned by CBS Television Distribution, although NBC still owns the copyrights to the episodes. As a result, NBC, in a way, now owns several other series aired on the network prior to 1973, such as Wagon Train. NBC continues to own its entire library of programs produced after 1973, through corporate sister NBCUniversal Television Group (the successor to Universal Television).
dumpert.nl - Boosmakertje du jour
Wed, 29 Nov 2017 22:07
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We weten ook niet hoe het hier terecht is gekomen, vermoedelijk heeft iemand zijn auto­radio­hand­leid­ing hier laten slingeren. Excuses voor het ongemak, maar scroll vooral even door.
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Hieronder staat het, nog even doorscrollen.
Wat doen cookies?Let op dan leggen we het uit. LET OP DAN! Bezoekers van websites krijgen te maken met cookies. Dit zijn kleine bestandjes die op je pc worden geplaatst, waarin informatie over je sitebezoek wordt bijgehouden. Ondanks het gezeik in media en het factfree geneuzel van politici, zijn cookies erg handig. Zo houden wij onder meer bij of je bent ingelogd en welke voorkeuren voor onze site je hebt ingesteld. Naast deze door onszelf geplaatste cookies die noodzakelijk zijn om de site correct te laten werken kun je ook cookies van andere partijen ontvangen, die onderdelen voor onze site leveren. Cookies kunnen bijvoorbeeld gebruikt worden om een bepaalde advertentie maar ƒ(C)ƒ(C)n keer te tonen.
Bij het bezoeken van NewsMedia sites kun je de volgende soorten cookies verwachten:Functionele cookies aka supermegahandige cookiesCookies die noodzakelijk zijn voor het gebruik van GeenStijl, Dumpert, DasKapital, Autobahn, bijvoorbeeld om in te kunnen loggen om een reactie te plaatsen of om sites te beschermen. Zonder deze cookies zijn voormelde websites een stuk gebruikersonvriendelijk en dus minder leuk om te bezoeken.
Zo plaatst het NewsMedia Netwerk cookies (voor de in de vorige paragraaf beschreven doeleinden) met je userid, je sessie, instellingen voor bepaalde trackers en weergaveopties (wil een bezoeker een '‚¬Å'NSFW'‚¬' item zien?), een 'token' die gebruikt wordt om je reaguurdersnaam te onthouden. Tevens een Cloudflare (Content Delivery Netwerk) cookie om webinhoud snel en efficiƒnt af te leveren bij eindgebruikers. Superhandig toch? Dat zeiden we dus al.
Cookies van Advertentiebedrijven aka de schoorsteencookiesAdvertentiebedrijven meten het succes van hun campagnes, de mogelijke interesses van de bezoeker en eventuele voorkeuren (heb je de reclameuiting al eerder gezien of moet hij worden weergegeven etc) door cookies uit te lezen. Heeft een advertentiebedrijf banners op meerdere websites dan kunnen de gegevens van deze websites worden gecombineerd om een beter profiel op te stellen. Zo kunnen adverteerders hun cookies op meerdere sites plaatsen en zo een gedetailleerd beeld krijgen van de interesses van de gebruiker. Hiermee kunnen gerichter en relevantere advertenties worden weergegeven. Zo kun je na het bezoeken van een webwinkel op andere sites banners krijgen met juist de door jezelf bekeken producten of soortgelijke producten. De websitehouder kan die cookies overigens‚ niet‚ inzien.
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Je hoeft niet bang te zijn voor deze bedrijven. Ze zijn best lief. Soms.
Cookies voor Website-analyse aka de Kenneth-Perez-cookiesMeten is weten. En leren is leuk. Om onze bezoekersstatistieken bij te houden maken we gebruik van Google Analytics. Dit systeem houdt bij welke pagina's onze bezoekers bekijken, waar zij vandaan komen en op klikken, welke browser en schermresolutie ze gebruiken en nog veel meer. Deze informatie gebruiken we om een beter beeld te krijgen van onze bezoekers en om onze site hierop te optimaliseren. Zo worden onze websites nog veel superduper leuker om aan te klikken dan voorheen. Google, die deze dienst levert, gebruikt de informatie om een relevant, anoniem advertentieprofiel op te bouwen waarmee men gerichter advertenties kan aanbieden.
het NewsMedia Netwerk maakt (voor de in de vorige paragraaf beschreven doeleinden) gebruik van Google Analytics.
Cookies van overige externe partijen aka de restNaast bovenstaande zijn er meer onderdelen die een cookie kunnen opleveren. Veelal worden deze gebruikt door de content-partners om te analyseren op welke sites hun gebruikers actief zijn en hoe hun diensten presteren. Denk hierbij aan filmpjes van bijvoorbeeld YouTube, foto's van diensten als Imgur, Tumblr of picasa, en 'like' knoppen van sociale mediasites als Twitter en Facebook
Op het NewsMedia Netwerk gebruiken we onderdelen (en dus cookies) van onder andere Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Vimeo, Flickr, Tumblr, Imgur etc. Deze websites schijnen best wel een beetje populair te zijn dus we dachten: laten we maar een paar van deze diensten faciliteren. Graag gedaan hoor. Geen dank.
Wil je nou echt nog meer weten? Kijk dan hier.
Four More Women Accuse Harry Knowles of Sexual Assault and Harassment | IndieWire
Wed, 29 Nov 2017 19:14
Four more women have spoken out with allegations of sexual assault or harassment against Ain't It Cool News founder Harry Knowles. After IndieWire posted a story last week in which an Austin-area woman came forward with stories of sexual assault in the early-aughts, other women took to social media to share similar allegations. IndieWire spoke with three of the accusers. Here are their stories.
IndieWire has reached out to Knowles for comment, and will update accordingly.
Read More:Harry Knowles Allegedly Sexually Assaulted Austin Woman Two Decades Ago, and Drafthouse Owners Didn't Take ActionGloria Walker, 29, is an Austin resident and member of the local film scene. In the wake of Baker's allegations, she wrote on Twitter: ''On more than one occasion HK has grabbed my ass and other parts of me. I just learned to not go within grabbing distance of him.''
While Walker is not a film professional, she is an avid film lover and has long been a member of Austin's close-knit film community. It was through that community that she first came to know Knowles. ''The people that were working in the film industry let me know he's kind of gatekeeper, kind of a big deal,'' she explained. Despite moving in the same circles, Walker says she does not and has never considered him a friend.
In 2011, hoping to see ''Captain America'' at an AICN-sponsored screening at the South Lamar Alamo Drafthouse, she reached out to Knowles about getting her name on the list, which was reportedly full at the time. Per Walker, ''He responded that I could get in if I gave him a kiss.'' Walker did not comply, but was put on the list and attended the screening. When she saw Knowles at the event, she hugged him, because she felt ''obligated to at least be face to face with him, after he put me on the list.''
Later, Walker attended one of Knowles' Halloween parties, and when she walked past him, she alleges ''he touched my ass, my thighs'... a little grab, as I was walking by.'' Walker said that by the time she was able to react, Knowles was ''already looking away, or he was kind of laughing, acting like nothing happened.'' Walker said that Knowles touched her without her consent on two or three different occasions before she began avoiding him.
Walker said that she had been warned about Knowles' behavior by the time of the incidents; her sense it was something most people tolerated and were reticent to address. ''What I got is, 'That's Harry! That's just what he does! Adjust your proximity to him and deal with it,''' she said.
When Walker saw Baker's story on a Fantastic Fest fan page, ''The first thing I said was, 'I 100% believe this person,''' she said. ''It's something that a lot of people know about, it's not a secret.'' Walker felt it was time to bring her allegations to the light. ''I just felt like if Jasmine was brave enough to come forward first, then I should at least be as brave to come second,'' she said. ''I started thinking about all my friends who came after me, that maybe it happened to me, but then later it happened to them, and I started thinking, 'If people don't say something, it's going to keep happening.'''
Read More:Ain't It Cool News Writers Quint and Capone Quit Site After Harry Knowles' Sexual Assault AllegationsWalker said that believes that change is coming now that more allegations are coming to light. ''It's not just the women that say this is wrong, it's the majority of people saying this is wrong. It really makes you feel safer coming out about it.'' She added, ''People need to talk.''
Austin film writer and ScreenCrush associate editor Britt Hayes, 32, has a similar story. Like Walker, Hayes went public with her allegations on Twitter in the wake of the Baker story, posting that ''Harry sexually harassed me. he has sexually harassed other women in this community for years. this wasn't an anomaly. he is a predator.''
In 2011, Hayes attended Knowles' annual Butt-Numb-a-Thon event, a 24-hour movie marathon thrown to celebrate his birthday, touting secret screenings of old and unreleased films, often accompanied by famous guests. The next year, Hayes was unsure if she wanted to participate again, a thought she put on Twitter. She said Knowles soon reached out, asking if she wanted to know ''the real way'' to get into BNAT (thousands of people jockey for limited spots). Curious, Hayes asked. His response: ''Show me your tits.''
Hayes said she subsequently unfollowed Knowles on Twitter and, when presented with him in person, avoided him. ''For a while, it was uncomfortable to be in a place where he was, because I just didn't want to be around him,'' Hayes said. ''I didn't feel unsafe, but I didn't want to be around him. I didn't want to associate with him at all.'' She said Knowles occasionally hosted and introduced screenings that she attended as part of her work, events she could not refuse to attend.
At the time, Hayes was a fledgling writer. ''There was a hesitance on my part to really talk about it publicly, because at the time, I thought, 'This could really hurt my career,''' she said. ''There's just something really, deeply unsettling about him and the way that he enjoys the attention that he gets, and the way that he leverages his power for attention.''
Hayes said Knowles' writing compounded her discomfort. ''You'll often find misogynist perspectives in them that are very blatant, not like coded language, very blatant comments that are really repulsive. It's sort of astonishing to me that people still '-- or, I guess, hopefully not as many now '-- respect him.'' In the wake of the Baker allegations, a number of examples have been pointed out online, including his ''Blade 2'' review and a review of the television series ''Heroes.''
Like Walker, Hayes said stories about Knowles' behavior are ''prevalent'' in Austin, though she's seen an uptick in conversation over the past five years. ''I think there's something that made us feel like there's nothing that could or would be done about it, because it was such an accepted behavior, socially,'' she said. That, she thinks, is rapidly changing.
Read More:Harry Knowles Booted from Austin Film Critics Association In Wake of Sexual Assault Allegations '-- ExclusiveHayes is eager for her experiences, and those of other women who stepped forward, to push the conversation toward growth and change, though she's clear that there is a long process ahead. ''There is no one real answer,'' she said. ''There's no one real answer to any of this, from any side, that's going to please everyone. But I think the intention and what you do with this information, that's what important.''
Hayes believes that such intentions are already on display with the Alamo Drafthouse and its leadership, including Tim League and other members of the company, particularly on the Fantastic Fest side. ''The best thing that you can hope for is that this really changes, and that women are not sexually harassed or assaulted anymore,'' she said. ''I think we still have a really long way to go, but this is a very good first step'... Even the people with the best intentions make mistakes, all of us have blind spots.''
This article continues on the next page.
'Blowback': Clinton campaign planned to fire me over email probe, Obama intel watchdog says | Fox News
Wed, 29 Nov 2017 12:00
A government watchdog who played a central role in the Hillary Clinton email investigation during the Obama administration told Fox News that he, his family and his staffers faced an intense backlash at the time from Clinton allies '' and that the campaign even put out word that it planned to fire him if the Democratic presidential nominee won the 2016 election.
''There was personal blowback. Personal blowback to me, to my family, to my office,'' former Intelligence Community Inspector General Charles McCullough III said.
The Obama appointee discussed his role in the Clinton email probe for the first time on television, during an exclusive interview with Fox News aired on "Tucker Carlson Tonight." McCullough '' who came to the inspector general position with more than two decades of experience at the FBI, Treasury and intelligence community '' shed light on how quickly the probe was politicized and his office was marginalized by Democrats.
In January 2016, after McCullough told the Republican leadership on the Senate intelligence and foreign affairs committees that emails beyond the ''Top Secret'' level passed through the former secretary of state's unsecured personal server, the backlash intensified.
Former Intelligence Community Inspector General Charles McCullough III.
''All of a sudden I became a shill of the right,'' McCullough recalled. ''And I was told by members of Congress, 'Be careful. You're losing your credibility. You need to be careful. There are people out to get you.'''
But the former inspector general, with responsibility for the 17 intelligence agencies, said the executive who recommended him to the Obama administration for the job '' then-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper '' was also disturbed by the independent Clinton email findings.
''[Clapper] said, 'This is extremely reckless.' And he mentioned something about -- the campaign '... will have heartburn about that,'' McCullough said.
He said Clapper's Clinton email comments came during an in-person meeting about a year before the presidential election '' in late December 2015 or early 2016. ''[Clapper] was as off-put as the rest of us were.''
After the Clapper meeting, McCullough said his team was marginalized. ''I was told by senior officials to keep [Clapper] out of it,'' he said, while acknowledging he tried to keep his boss in the loop.
As one of the few people who viewed the 22 top secret Clinton emails deemed too classified to release under any circumstances, the former IG said, ''There was a very good reason to withhold those emails ... there would have been harm to national security.'' McCullough went further, telling Fox News that ''sources and methods, lives and operations'' could be put at risk.
Some of those email exchanges contained Special Access Program (SAP) information characterized by intel experts as ''above top secret.''
''I was told by members of Congress, 'Be careful. You're losing your credibility. You need to be careful. There are people out to get you.'''
- Former Intelligence Community Inspector General Charles McCullough III WikiLeaks documents show the campaign was formulating talking points as the review of 30,000 Clinton emails was ongoing.
The campaign team wrote in August 2015 that ''Clinton only used her account for unclassified email. When information is reviewed for public release, it is common for information previously unclassified to be upgraded to classified.''
McCullough was critical of the campaign's response, as the classified review had barely begun. ''There was an effort '... certainly on the part of the campaign, to mislead people into thinking that there was nothing to see here,'' McCullough said.
In March 2016, seven senior Democrats sent a letter to McCullough and his State Department counterpart, saying they had serious questions about the impartiality of the Clinton email review. However, McCullough was not making the decisions on what material in Clinton's emails was classified -- he was passing along the findings of the individual agencies who got the intelligence and have final say on classification.
''I think there was certainly a coordinated strategy,'' McCullough said.
McCullough described one confrontation with Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein's office just six weeks before the election, amid pressure to respond to the letter '' which Feinstein had co-signed.
''I thought that any response to that letter would just hyper-politicize the situation,'' McCullough said. ''I recall even offering to resign, to the staff director. I said, 'Tell [Feinstein] I'll resign tonight. I'd be happy to go. I'm not going to respond to that letter. It's just that simple.''
As Election Day approached, McCullough said the threats went further, singling out him and another senior government investigator on the email case.
''It was told in no uncertain terms, by a source directly from the campaign, that we would be the first two to be fired -- with [Clinton's] administration. That that was definitely going to happen,'' he said.
McCullough said he was just trying to do his job, which requires independence. "I was, in this context, a whistleblower. I was explaining to Congress -- I was doing exactly what they had expected me to do. Exactly what I promised them I would do during my confirmation hearing,'' he said. ''... This was a political matter, and all of a sudden I was the enemy."
He said pressures also increased early on from Clinton's former team at the State Department, especially top official Patrick Kennedy.
"State Department management didn't want us there,'' McCullough said. ''We knew we had had a security problem at this point. We had a possible compromise."
Speaking about the case more than a year after the FBI probe concluded, McCullough in his interview also addressed the possibility that a more cooperative State Department and Clinton campaign might have precluded the FBI's involvement from the start.
''Had they come in with the server willingly, without having us to refer this to the bureau '... maybe we could have worked with the State Department,'' he said.
More than 2,100 classified emails passed through Clinton's personal server, which was used exclusively for government business. No one has been charged.
Asked what would have happened to him if he had done such a thing, McCullough said: ''I'd be sitting in Leavenworth right now.''
Fox News asked a Clinton campaign spokesman, Feinstein's office and Clapper for comment. There was no immediate response.
Catherine Herridge is an award-winning Chief Intelligence correspondent for FOX News Channel (FNC) based in Washington, D.C. She covers intelligence, the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security. Herridge joined FNC in 1996 as a London-based correspondent.
Pamela K. Browne is Senior Executive Producer at the FOX News Channel (FNC) and is Director of Long-Form Series and Specials. Her journalism has been recognized with several awards. Browne first joined FOX in 1997 to launch the news magazine ''Fox Files'' and later, ''War Stories.''
Cyd Upson is a Senior Producer at FOX News.
VIDEO - MEN AND TAMPONS... IN A PERFECT WORLD! - YouTube
Tue, 28 Nov 2017 05:01
At Yale, we conducted an experiment to turn conservatives into liberals. The results say a lot about our political divisions.
Tue, 28 Nov 2017 04:59
Inspired Life
By John Bargh
November 22, 2017 at 5:00 AM
When my daughter was growing up, she often wanted to rush off to do fun things with her friends '-- get into the water at the beach, ride off on her bike '-- without taking the proper safety precautions first. I'd have to stop her in her tracks to first put on the sunscreen, or her bike helmet and knee pads, with her standing there impatiently. ''Safety first, fun second,'' was my mantra.
Keeping ourselves and our loved ones safe from harm is perhaps our strongest human motivation, deeply embedded in our very DNA. It is so deep and important that it influences much of what we think and do, maybe more than we might expect. For example, over a decade now of research in political psychology consistently shows that how physically threatened or fearful a person feels is a key factor '-- although clearly not the only one '-- in whether he or she holds conservative or liberal attitudes.
[A political scientist has discovered a surprising way to increase voter turnout. It starts in childhood.]
Conservatives, it turns out, react more strongly to physical threat than liberals do. In fact, their greater concern with physical safety seems to be determined early in life: In one University of California study, the more fear a 4-year-old showed in a laboratory situation, the more conservative his or her political attitudes were found to be 20 years later. Brain imaging studies have even shown that the fear center of the brain, the amygdala, is actually larger in conservatives than in liberals. And many other laboratory studies have found that when adult liberals experienced physical threat, their political and social attitudes became more conservative (temporarily, of course). But no one had ever turned conservatives into liberals.
Until we did.
In a new study to appear in a forthcoming issue of the European Journal of Social Psychology, my colleagues Jaime Napier, Julie Huang and Andy Vonasch and I asked 300 U.S. residents in an online survey their opinions on several contemporary issues such as gay rights, abortion, feminism and immigration, as well as social change in general. The group was two-thirds female, about three-quarters white, with an average age of 35. Thirty-percent of the participants self-identified as Republican, and the rest as Democrat.
But before they answered the survey questions, we had them engage in an intense imagination exercise. They were asked to close their eyes and richly imagine being visited by a genie who granted them a superpower. For half of our participants, this superpower was to be able to fly, under one's own power. For the other half, it was to be completely physically safe, invulnerable to any harm.
If they had just imagined being able to fly, their responses to the social attitude survey showed the usual clear difference between Republicans and Democrats '-- the former endorsed more conservative positions on social issues and were also more resistant to social change in general.
[Stanford researchers: The secret to overcoming the opioid crisis may lie partly in the mind]
But if they had instead just imagined being completely physically safe, the Republicans became significantly more liberal '-- their positions on social attitudes were much more like the Democratic respondents. And on the issue of social change in general, the Republicans' attitudes were now indistinguishable from the Democrats. Imagining being completely safe from physical harm had done what no experiment had done before '-- it had turned conservatives into liberals.
In both instances, we had manipulated a deeper underlying reason for political attitudes, the strength of the basic motivation of safety and survival. The boiling water of our social and political attitudes, it seems, can be turned up or down by changing how physically safe we feel.
This is why it makes sense that liberal politicians intuitively portray danger as manageable '-- recall FDR's famous Great Depression era reassurance of ''nothing to fear but fear itself,'' echoed decades later in Barack Obama's final State of the Union address '-- and why President Trump and other Republican politicians are instead likely to emphasize the dangers of terrorism and immigration, relying on fear as a motivator to gain votes.
In fact, anti-immigration attitudes are also linked directly to the underlying basic drive for physical safety. For centuries, arch-conservative leaders have often referred to scapegoated minority groups as ''germs'' or ''bacteria'' that seek to invade and destroy their country from within. President Trump is an acknowledged germaphobe, and he has a penchant for describing people '-- not only immigrants but political opponents and former Miss Universe contestants '-- as ''disgusting.''
''Immigrants are like viruses'' is a powerful metaphor, because in comparing immigrants entering a country to germs entering a human body, it speaks directly to our powerful innate motivation to avoid contamination and disease. Until very recently in human history, not only did we not have antibiotics, we did not even know how infections occurred or diseases transmitted, and cuts and open wounds were quite dangerous. (In the American Civil War, for example, 60 out of every 1,000 soldiers died not by bullets or bayonets, but by infections.)
Therefore, we reasoned, making people feel safer about a dangerous flu virus should serve to calm their fears about immigrants '-- and making them feel more threatened by the flu virus should cause them to be more against immigration than they were before. In a 2011 study, my colleagues and I showed just that. First, we reminded our nationwide sample of liberals and conservatives about the threat of the flu virus (during the H1N1 epidemic), and then measured their attitudes toward immigration. Afterward we simply asked them if they'd already gotten their flu shot or not. It turned out that those who had not gotten a flu shot (feeling threatened) expressed more negative attitudes toward immigration, while those who had received the vaccination (feeling safe) had more positive attitudes about immigration.
In another study, using hand sanitizer after being warned about the flu virus had the same effect on immigration attitudes as had being vaccinated. A simple squirt of Purell after we had raised the threat of the flu had changed their minds. It made them feel safe from the dangerous virus, and this made them feel socially safe from immigrants as well.
Our study findings may have a silver lining. Here's how:
All of us believe that our social and political attitudes are based on good reasons and reflect our important values. But we also need to recognize how much they can be influenced subconsciously by our most basic, powerful motivations for safety and survival. Politicians on both sides of the aisle know this already and attempt to manipulate our votes and party allegiances by appealing to these potent feelings of fear and of safety.
Instead of allowing our strings to be pulled so easily by others, we can become more conscious of what drives us and work harder to base our opinions on factual knowledge about the issues, including information from outside our media echo chambers. Yes, our views can harden given the right environment, but our work shows that they are actually easier to change than we might think.
John Bargh is a professor of social psychology at Yale University and the author of ''Before You Know It: The Unconscious Reasons We Do What We Do''
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EU settles dispute over major weedkiller glyphosate - BBC News
Tue, 28 Nov 2017 04:49
Image copyright AFP
Image caption Crop-spraying in Meteren, northern France: glyphosate can have a big impact on biodiversity EU countries have voted to renew the licence of glyphosate, a widely used weedkiller at the centre of environmental concerns.
The proposal at the EU Commission's Appeal Committee got 18 votes in favour and nine against, with one abstention, ending months of deadlock.
The Commission says the new five-year licence will be ready before the current one expires on 15 December.
However, France plans to ban the use of glyphosate within three years.
In a tweet, French President Emmanuel Macron said he had ordered a ban on the use of glyphosate in France "as soon as alternatives are found, and within three years at the latest".
Glyphosate is marketed as Roundup by the US agrochemical giant Monsanto.
One UN study called the chemical "probably carcinogenic", but other scientists said it was safe to use.
The UK was among the states in favour of glyphosate renewal. Germany and Poland were also among them - though they had previously abstained.
France and Belgium were among the states that voted against. Portugal abstained.
The EU Commission says the current proposal on the weedkiller "enjoys the broadest possible support by the member states while ensuring a high level of protection of human health and the environment".
Glyphosate was introduced by Monsanto in 1974, but its patent expired in 2000, and now the chemical is sold by various manufacturers.
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) says glyphosate is unlikely to cause cancer in humans.
Image copyright AFP
Image caption Monsanto's Roundup, based on glyphosate, has been sold worldwide Critics say widespread use of glyphosate reduces biodiversity, by killing plants that are essential for many insects and other animals.
Some countries and regions have banned glyphosate use in public parks and gardens. Its effect on plants is non-selective, meaning it will kill most of them when applied.
Read more on farm chemicals:
How does glyphosate work?It is usually mixed with other chemicals that help it get into plants, where it blocks a key enzyme pathway. The disruption prevents plants from making certain proteins needed for their growth.
The "shikimate pathway" involves seven enzymes, which enable the plant to form amino acids, the building blocks of proteins. The pathway is not found in animals.
Some crops, such as soybean, have been genetically modified to resist glyphosate.
Farmers spray it on fields before their crops emerge in spring, so the crops do not have to compete with weeds.
Some also use it as a pre-harvest treatment to dry out crops and make them easier to harvest. The UK Soil Association says such use is risky , as it can increase glyphosate residues in food.
How widespread is it?It is described as the world's most popular weedkiller. In the US, more than 750 products contain it.
Glyphosate use worldwide has risen almost 15-fold since 1996, when so-called "Roundup Ready" crops, genetically engineered to resist glyphosate, were introduced.
A 2016 study by Environmental Sciences Europe notes growing concern about intensive glyphosate use, because some plants have developed resistance to it - meaning that farmers tend to use even more of the herbicide.
Sri Lanka banned use of glyphosate in 2015 - though the tea industry opposes the ban. In 2015 too Colombia stopped aerial spraying of glyphosate - even though it had been used widely to kill illegal coca plants.
What is the effect on humans?Glyphosate's toxicity is reckoned to be low, in the concentrations used by farmers, although the UN International Agency for Research on Cancer called it "probably carcinogenic".
The European Commission says that besides EFSA, the European Chemicals Agency and other scientific bodies found no link to cancer in humans.
The Soil Association says glyphosate traces are regularly found in bread.
According to the US National Pesticide Information Center, the chemical mostly passes through the body quickly in urine and faeces.
More on this storyUK 'will support' neonicotinoid pesticide ban09 November 2017
Large-scale study 'shows neonic pesticides harm bees'29 June 2017
The villagers who fear herbicides22 August 2016
EU allows sale of more GM food crops for livestock24 April 2015
Folha de S.Paulo - Internacional - En - Business - China Wants to Build Railway that Runs Through Brazil - 27/11/2017
Tue, 28 Nov 2017 04:47
11/27/2017 - 11h45
JULIO WIZIACK
FROM BRASLIA
The China Railway Construction Corporation (CRCC), which is one of the biggest railway companies in the world, is considering the possibility of heading a consortium that would build the East-West Integration Railway (Fiol), connecting it to the port of Ilh(C)us (Bahia). Only a short stretch of the railway is currently operating.
China's intentions are clear: it wants to direct soybeans - which, of the products it imports from Brazil, is only behind iron ore - from the midwest of Brazil to the port in Bahia.
But there are geopolitical factors at play as well. China would like to establish alternatives to the Panama Canal, which was financed by the US in the 20th century, and is perceived by the Asian country as being controlled by the United States.
Fiol, which would be one alternative to the canal, would consist of 1,500 kilometers and would cross paths with the North-South Railway (FNS).
Soybeans are currently transported via truck to the port in Santos (S£o Paulo), or to one of the North-South Railway junctions, en route to the port of Itaqui, in the state of Maranh£o. However, there are several issues concerning passage in the stretch that is controlled by mining company Vale. The stretch in question is the only one that grants access to the port in the northeast of Brazil.
China is also considering a second railway that would part from the North-South Railway, passing through the cities of Campinorte (Gois), Lucas do Rio Verde (Mato Grosso), and then on to Porto Velho (Rond´nia). The railway would then continue on to Peru, to a port on the Pacific coast.
The CRCC presented the project to representatives of the Brazilian government during president Michel Temer's state visit to China, back in late August.
Marcelo Justo/FolhapressChina's intentions are clear: it wants to direct soybeans - which, of the products it imports from Brazil, is only behind iron ore - from the midwest of Brazil to the port in BahiaTranslated by THOMAS MATHEWSON
Read the article in the original language
Rep. Green issues unprompted statement on 'settled' allegations - POLITICO
Tue, 28 Nov 2017 04:41
"This matter has been resolved without payment of any money or transfer of any consideration of any kind by either of us to the other," Rep. Al Green said Monday in a joint statement with former staffer Lucinda Daniels. | Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Rep. Al Green (D-Texas) issued an unprompted joint statement with a female former staffer who years ago made and later dropped allegations of sexual assault, with the two on Monday calling the matter "absolutely resolved."
Green and Lucinda Daniels said that due to the current political "climate" they wished to "jointly quiet any curious minds about our former and present relationship with one another."
Story Continued Below
"This matter has been resolved without payment of any money or transfer of any consideration of any kind by either of us to the other," Green and Daniels said Monday. "As friends, we have both agreed that we see no need to make further statements regarding this absolutely resolved matters."
Green and Daniels added that they both "regret our former claims" and have "maintained a respectful relationship."
In the initial incident, Daniels had said the congressman assaulted her in 2007. Green in 2008 filed a lawsuit against Daniels in which he asked a federal judge to find he had never discriminated against her in the workplace, then withdrew it after Daniels signed a statement dropping her own allegations.
A daily play-by-play of congressional news in your inbox.
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"Congressman Alexander Green and Lucinda Daniels have both resolved and settled their respective disputes without payment, promise or receipt of any money. They regret any circumstances that created this dispute. They do not wish to pursue any litigation against each other. And, they wish each other well," the pair wrote in a joint statement in 2008, according to the Houston Chronicle.
The abrupt remarks on Monday arose as numerous public officials on Capitol Hill and beyond have been hit with allegations of sexual misconduct.
This article tagged under:Missing out on the latest scoops? Sign up for POLITICO Playbook and get the latest news, every morning '-- in your inbox.
Club suisse de la presse '' Geneva Press Club | ''They don't care about us''. White Helmets true agenda
Tue, 28 Nov 2017 04:34
Vanessa BeeleyIndependent investigative journalist and photographer from Great Britain specializing in the Middle East. Associate editor at 21st Century Wire.
Richard Lab(C)vi¨reFrench journalist specializing in the Middle East and international terrorism, editor of the internet portal ''Proche et Moyen Orient''
Prof. Marcello Ferrada De NoliChairman of the NGO Swedish Doctors for Human Rights, editor of the online magazine The Indicter
'American mercenaries' are torturing Saudi princes | Daily Mail Online
Sun, 26 Nov 2017 20:00
Saudi princes and billionaire businessmen arrested in a power grab earlier this month are being strung up by their feet and beaten by American private security contractors, a source in the country tells DailyMail.com.
The group of the country's most powerful figures were arrested in a crackdown ordered by Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman three weeks ago as he ordered the detention of at least 11 fellow princes and hundreds of businessmen and government officials over claims of corruption.
Just last month, the Crown Prince vowed to restore 'moderate, open Islam' in the kingdom and relaxed a number of its ultra-conservative rules, including lifting a ban on women driving.
DailyMail.com can disclose that the arrests have been followed by 'interrogations' which a source said were being carried out by 'American mercenaries' brought in to work for the 32-year-old crown prince, who is now the kingdom's most powerful figure.
'They are beating them, torturing them, slapping them, insulting them. They want to break them down,' the source told DailyMail.com.
'Blackwater' has been named by DailyMail.com's source as the firm involved, and the claim of its presence in Saudi Arabia has also been made on Arabic social media, and by Lebanon's president.
The firm's successor, Academi, strongly denies even being in Saudi Arabia and says it does not engage in torture, which it is illegal for any U.S. citizen to commit anywhere in the world.
The Saudi crown prince, according to the source, has also confiscated more than $194 billion from the bank accounts and seized assets of those arrested.
Highest profile prisoner: Prince Alwaleed bin Talal was hung upside to 'send a message' after being lured to a meeting with the crown prince. He is worth at least $7 billion
Round-up: Dozens of princes, senior officials and businessmen, including cabinet ministers and billionaires, have been detained in a function room of the Ritz Carlton. Now a source says they are being subjected to torture by American mercenaries
Strongman: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, seen as he attended a glittering investment conference in the hotel now being used as a prison, ordered in the mercenaries, the source claimed, and takes part in interrogations personally
The source said that in the febrile atmosphere in the kingdom, Prince Mohammed has bypassed the normal security forces in keeping the princes and other billionaires at the Ritz Carlton hotel in Riyadh.
'All the guards in charge are private security because MBS (Mohammed Bin Salman) doesn't want Saudi officers there who have been saluting those detainees all their lives,' said the source, who asked to remain anonymous.
'Outside the hotels where they are being detained you see the armored vehicles of the Saudi special forces. But inside, it's a private security company.
'They've transferred all the guys from Abu Dhabi. Now they are in charge of everything,' said the source.
The source said that Salman, often referred to by his initials MBS, is conducting some of the interrogations himself.
'When it's something big he asks them questions,' the source said.
'He speaks to them very nicely in the interrogation, and then he leaves the room, and the mercenaries go in. The prisoners are slapped, insulted, hung up, tortured.'
The source says the crown prince is desperate to assert his authority through fear and wants to uncover an alleged network of foreign officials who have taken bribes from Saudi princes.
The source said that the name 'Blackwater' is being circulated as providing the mercenaries.
The controversial private security company, however, no longer exists under that name and is now Academi.
A spokesperson for Constellis, Academi's parent company, denied the claims.
The spokesperson told DailyMail.com that it has no presence in Saudi Arabia and does not carry out interrogations.
'Constellis through Academi does not now or have we ever provided interrogative services,' they said.
'We do not provide security services in KSA (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia), we have no contact or connection with any government official or private party regarding this allegation.'
When asked if Academi workers were involved in any kind of violence during these interrogations, the spokesperson said: 'No. Academi has no presence in KSA. We do not have interrogators, nor do we provide any interrogators, advisors or other similar services.'
They added: 'Academi does not participate in interrogative services for any government or private customer. Academi has a zero tolerance policy for violence. We operate legally, morally, ethically and in compliance with local and US laws.'
The name Blackwater, however, has previously surfaced in the Middle East in the wake of the round-up.
Presence: The Ritz Carlton in Riyadh is said to be guarded by Saudi special forces but inside, the interrogations are said to be carried out by American contractors. Blackwater's successor firm, Academi, denies any involvement
Lebanese link: Saad Hariri, who quit as Lebanon's prime minister, was said to be being held in Saudi Arabia by 'Blackwater' guards by his country's president - but he deleted the tweet
Endorsement: The 32-year-old crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, has received backing from President Trump
Harsh treatment: Trump hinted at the interrogations when he tweeted his support for the arrests
The Lebanese President tweeted that the country's former prime minister Saad Hariri was being detained in Riyadh by Blackwater guards, but later deleted the tweet.
'Lebanese authorities have unconfirmed information that the Blackwater firm is guarding Hariri and his family - not official Saudi security forces,' Michel Aoun, the President of Lebanon, tweeted last Wednesday.
A high-profile Saudi twitter account, @ Ahdjadid, which posts what is said to be inside information, also claimed Salman has brought in at least 150 'Blackwater' guards.
Saudi whistleblower Ahdjadid tweeted: 'The first group of Blackwater mercenaries arrived in Saudi Arabia a week after the toppling of bin Nayef [Salman's predecessor as crown prince].
'They were around 150 fighters. Bin Salman sent some of them to secure bin Nayef's place of detention and the rest he used for his own protection.'
The abuse claims were also raised recently in an article in the New York Times.
A doctor at a hospital in Riyadh and a US official told the Times that as many as 17 detainees had needed medical treatment.
But Fatimah Baeshen, spokeswoman for the Saudi Embassy in Washington, told the newspaper that the arrests were for 'white collar' crimes and that the country's public prosecutor was ensuring that the arrests are 'complying with the relevant laws and regulations'.
In his name: The arrests carry the authority of King Salman, but have made his son Prince Mohammed unquestionably the most powerful man in the kingdom
Among those arrested on allegations of corruption is Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal, the Saudi King's nephew who is worth more than $17bn according to Forbes, and owns stakes in Twitter, Lyft and Citigroup.
DailyMail.com's source claims the crown prince lulled Alwaleed into a false sense of security, inviting him to a meeting at his Al Yamamah palace, then sent officers to arrest him the night before the meeting.
'Suddenly at 2.45am all his guards were disarmed, the royal guards of MBS storm in,' said the source.
'He's dragged from his own bedroom in his pajamas, handcuffed, put in the back of an SUV, and interrogated like a criminal.
'They hung them upside down, just to send a message.
'They told them that "we've made your charges public, the world knows that you've been arrested on these charges."'
After the arrests, a picture was given to DailyMail.com of the Saudi royals sleeping on thin mattresses in the ballroom of the five star Ritz Carlton Hotel in Riyadh.
A US State Department source told the New York Times Salman was 'behaving recklessly without sufficient consideration to the likely consequences of his behavior, and that has the potential to damage US interests.'
However, the arrests drew praise from President Donald Trump, who tweeted that he had 'great confidence in King Salman and the crown prince of Saudi Arabia' after the corruption crackdown earlier this month.
Torture by a US citizen abroad has only been prosecuted in America once.
In 2008 the Boston-born son of former Liberian President Charles Taylor was found guilty by a US court of horrific torture.
The jury in Miami found Charles 'Chuckie' Taylor Jr. guilty on all eight counts brought against him, including allegations he and his cohorts tortured victims in Liberia by applying electric shocks to their genitals, burning them with hot irons and melting plastic and rubbing salt in their open wounds.
At the time Sigal Mandelker, the then deputy assistant attorney general with the crime division of the U.S. Department of Justice, said: 'It sends a very powerful message to human rights violators worldwide that they are not welcome here.'
Taylor was arrested at Miami International Airport in 2006 and pleaded guilty to a charge of lying about his father's identity on a passport application.
He was later indicted for torturing victims when he was the commander of a paramilitary security force called the Antiterrorist Unit - known as the 'Demon Forces' - that protected the elder Taylor while he was president of Liberia.
Why Is Gratitude So Difficult, Yet Outrage So Easy?
Sun, 26 Nov 2017 19:45
Our brains are at odds with the concept of Thanksgiving. Gratitude should be the order of the day (and every day if you subscribe to the notion that giving thanks daily can make you happier ), yet we are much more likely to be outraged by traffic delays, rude people, and a barrage of headlines blaring the latest bad news.
''Part of the reason we are so quick to be outraged, yet slow to offer gratitude at work and in life, more broadly, is because of the widespread finding that human beings possess a negativity bias,'' says Christian Thoroughgood, assistant professor of psychology at Villanova University. He says that even when they're of equal intensity, negative events and experiences have a much more potent effect on our thoughts, emotions, and behavior than do neutral or positive events and experiences.
''Being yelled at by your supervisor is likely to cause you to become much more angry and upset,'' he says, ''than a client reaching out to express their gratitude to you would make you feel happy and joyful.'' In fact, Thoroughgood says, research on employees' daily work experiences finds that daily frustrations and upsets are five times more impactful on employees' emotions than daily uplifts.
The reason lies deep within our brain and hasn't evolved much past the point when we were hunter-gatherers. Back then, humans were fine-tuned to sniff out a simple shift in the wind that could signal a serious situation. Most of the time the threat wasn't there, but the high alert meant the difference between survival or death. Although that's no longer the case, the amygdala, our little caution center in the brain, is still hard at work sifting through all available information to surface danger.
Related: The Surprising Benefits Of Gratitude
But now there's much more information to process on a daily basis than there was when our eyes scanned the horizon for potential threats like a predator, fire, or storm. However, that firehose of information still gets funneled through the amygdala.
Is it any wonder then that with our daily work/life stress combined with the constant onslaught of horrific headlines of mass shootings and sexual assault, outrage dominates our consciousness?
As Thoroughgood observes, ''We don't think to be grateful because we're often too preoccupied thinking about what has recently gone wrong.''
Obviously centuries of brain conditioning is tough to overcome, but some professionals are actively trying to combat it.
Anthony Stephan, a principal at Deloitte Consulting LLP, believes in digging to find the source of the outrage first. ''Do I experience less than desirable conversations at work and in our communities? Sure,'' he says. The way Stephan sees it, outrage, or even emotional outbursts and intense levels of engagement, are often brought on when fears driven by insecurities and unresolved questions of self-worth and value are coupled with the expectations we have about situations and people's behaviors.
Stephan says he focuses on trying to be empathetic . ''It is essential that we give grace to others, operate with faith in the human spirit, and remain patient as others sometimes allow their inner voices to play out in a public arena.''
He also believes that self-awareness is the most critical aspect that will help us make the shift from outrage to gratitude. ''We can build self-awareness through reflection,'' he contends, adding that he's made it a daily habit. ''Some of our greatest growth comes from the ability to sit and reflect, with vulnerability and courage, to lean into and learn from our experiences,'' says Stephan.
Related: The Science Of Gratitude And Why It's Important In Your Workplace
Many companies have long valued the development approach that focuses on the things we need to get better at versus focusing on our strengths, says Autumn Manning, cofounder and CEO of the employee engagement platform, YouEarnedIt. But, she notes, not enough companies have a good process in place to easily distribute positive feedback about people and teams. Fixing it can be fairly simple by starting to make a habit of highlighting the strengths of others early and often.
''Executives can even take it a step further by emphasizing within their company how positive reinforcement leads to positive business outcomes,'' says Manning, with no criticism allowed. ''Make sure you are clearly highlighting the good behaviors much more often than the bad to help reinforce that habit,'' she advises, by scheduling weekly or monthly check-ins with teams or employees to tell them how much they've helped the business and how their work reflects your core values and positive business outcomes. Save the constructive feedback for one-on-one meetings, Manning underscores.
In anticipation of the holidays, the managers at Lucidchart, a diagramming software company, decided that instead of distributing a ''thank you for your work'' gift, they would make individual flowcharts to thank each employee. Last year, Lucidchart's senior brand messaging specialist Libby Thomas remembered how the creative team spent hundreds of hours writing, designing, and promoting a marketing campaign of pop culture flowcharts. ''We lived and breathed those charts for months,'' she recalls. Then, in December, the manager handed each member of the team an identical package. Yet inside the package, there was a completely unique personalized flowchart featuring inside jokes and compliments specific to each employee. ''It was honestly one of the most thoughtful and fun gifts I've ever received,'' Thomas says, ''and it came from my boss.''
Libby Thomas [Photo: courtesy of Libby Thomas]Karl Sun, Lucid Software's CEO and cofounder, maintains it's about teamwork over ego. ''Our emphasis on being a team has actually empowered individuals throughout the organization to create a sense of appreciation and gratitude in the office not through words, but through actions,'' Sun says. He explains that the company has a special budget set aside so that teams can get together for fun outside of the office.
''Our thinking is that if you get to know your coworkers and care about them,'' Sun maintains, ''you work harder to help your friends and are more grateful for the work they've done for you.'' He says this is also demonstrated in grand gestures, like when one engineer rallied the company to raise money for one of her coworkers (and friend), whose family had been affected by Hurricane Harvey. ''I'm willing to go the extra mile on projects,'' says Thomas, ''because my coworkers are also my genuine friends.''
And as Manning notes, gratitude is also good for retention. ''Employees who feel appreciated stick around longer, and actively engage in their work,'' she says. ''You've highlighted the behaviors and people who are doing the things that actually drive the business forward.''
This begets a virtuous cycle. Says Manning: ''They keep the appreciation flowing to their fellow employees through a culture of positive recognition.''
About the authorLydia Dishman is a reporter writing about the intersection of tech, leadership, and innovation. She is a regular contributor to Fast Company and has written for CBS Moneywatch, Fortune, The Guardian, Popular Science, and the New York Times, among others.
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California college students are turning to food stamps
Sun, 26 Nov 2017 19:42
For an increasing number of students at prestigious California universities and others around the country, food is becoming an expense too tough to pay for out of pocket.
As a result, some are turning to food stamps for help, according to a report in the SFGate.
The publication reported that over 500 University of California at Berkeley students have applied to receive food stamps since January, an increase from just 111 applications for the entirety of 2016. In 2015, only 41 students applied for the service, also known as CalFresh, which can provide as much as $192 per month for food at grocery stores.
In an interview with SFGate, Berkeley student Esteban Vasquez summed up just how much food stamps have eased the strain on his wallet. "It's a huge sigh of relief knowing I can walk into a grocery store," he told the publication, "and purchase the items I need."
The publication reported that there is an acceptance rate of approximately 73 percent to obtain food stamps as part of the CalFresh program, an increase from 62 percent in 2015.
But U.C. Berkeley students aren't the only ones in need of assistance to afford food. The SFGate article noted the following:
A University of California survey of 9,000 students across all 10 campuses shed light on the need in 2015: Nearly 1 in 5 students, 19 percent, said they had too little to eat "due to limited resources." Another 23 percent routinely ate substandard food with little variation.
According to a document for CalFresh on UC Berkeley's website, students must meet a number of requirements in order to be eligible for food stamps. These include meeting a maximum monthly income, being a U.S. citizen, being enrolled as a student (at least half-time) and working a minimum of 80 hours per month.
The Alameda County Social Services Agency listed $1,980 as the monthly maximum gross income for an individual to be eligible for the benefit.
Homeless people defecating on LA streets fuels horror hepatitis outbreak '' InvestmentWatch
Sun, 26 Nov 2017 17:52
by DCG
Great job demorats!
From Fox News: An outbreak of hepatitis A is spreading through Los Angeles County after leaping from a large homeless contingent in San Diego, threatening thousands of people and fueling criticism that local officials have not done enough to contain the deadly liver disease.
Hundreds of cases have turned up in southern California as well as Michigan '-- but conditions in Los Angeles, where roughly 50,000 people live on the streets, have prompted deeper concerns.
Reports compiled by volunteer organizations have faulted city officials for not providing enough accessible toilets as the homeless population sharply increased by 23 percent this year.
Article Continues Below
In a prescient warning, a June 2017 report by a collection of nonprofits called the LA Central Providers Collaborative sounded the alarm about crowding and living conditions on Skid Row, citing the city's own predictions about the increased risk for hepatitis A and other diseases.
''One would think that Los Angeles, one of the greatest cities in the world, would exceed these minimal standards. However, this Audit finds that in Skid Row, Los Angeles fails to meet even the standards for a refugee camp,'' the report said. ''During overnight hours, there are only nine public toilets available for 1,777 unsheltered homeless people on Skid Row, and these toilets are largely inaccessible.''
The report noted that United Nations' refugee camp standards are one toilet for every 20 people.
Fast-forward to September, and the county declared an outbreak affecting homeless people and illicit drug users. The disease also is rising among gay and bisexual men, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health noted in a Nov. 2 advisory.
Los Angeles currently has 31 hepatitis cases '' 15 among the homeless and 16 gay men.
Toilet access is a chief concern, as the disease can be contracted by ingesting or touching anything contaminated with infected feces. Homeless individuals without bathroom access defecating on the streets spreads the disease.
Seventeen miles away is the community of Venice, a trendy beachside haven made famous by a young Arnold Schwarzenegger who once lifted weights in a makeshift gym set up along a boardwalk. The homeless liked the area, too, and the population has grown to about 1,000. The area has nine toilet stalls, none which are open at night.
Los Angeles County, meanwhile, has 42,828 homeless living on the streets, which swells to more than 50,000 during the day when many leave overnight shelters. Most are within the city of Los Angeles, which has a total of 2,800 toilets and 800 urinals located in parks that are open during daylight hours.
Read the rest of the story here.
DCG
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CLASH: Chaos Breaks Out Across Pakistan... - GOV'T SLAVES
Sun, 26 Nov 2017 17:48
Pakistani police using tear gas and water canon fought running battles with stone-throwing Islamist activists, as they moved to clear a sit-in by the religious hard-liners who have blocked the main routes into the capital of Islamabad for more than two weeks.
The protests have spread to other main cities, including Karachi, Lahore, Rawalpindi and Peshawar.
The clashes began Saturday when police launched an operation involving about 4,000 officers to disperse around 1,000 activists from Tehreek-e-Labaik, a new hard-line Islamist political party, and break up their camp, police official Saood Tirmizi told Reuters.
Dozens of protesters were arrested, Tirmizi said, and hospitals reported dozens of people were being treated for injuries.
Religious right's strength
The mass protest, plus the recent gains of two new Islamist parties in Pakistan, demonstrated the religious right's gathering strength ahead of what are expected to be tumultuous elections next year.
Television footage showed a police vehicle on fire, heavy curtains of smoke and fires burning in the streets as officers in heavy riot gear advanced. Protesters, some wearing gas masks, fought back in scattered battles across empty highways and surrounding neighborhoods.
''We are in our thousands. We will not leave. We will fight until end,'' Tehreek-e-Labaik party spokesman Ejaz Ashrafi told Reuters by telephone from the scene.
By midday, TV coverage had been cut off and private channels were off the air by orders of the official media regulator.
Daily life shut down
The protesters have paralyzed daily life in the capital, and have defied court orders to disband, demanding the firing of the minister of law.
Tehreek-e-Labaik blames the minister, Zahid Hamid, for changes to an electoral oath that it says amounts to blasphemy.
The government puts the issue down to a clerical error.
If just a handful of our 600,000 monthly readers donated one dollar, I could easily crush my modest yearly fundraising goal of $10,000 by January 31 2018. If you value the information on this site and have the means, please consider making a donation below. Your support will help us expand, keep ads off the site and buy out any remaining advertising contracts we have with vendors. No contribution is too small and will undoubtedly go towards the many expenses this site incurs. If would like to learn more about our mission, please visit our manifesto here. Thank you so much for your support, Thomas Dishaw Editor @ Gov't Slaves
$930.00 of $10,000.00 raised
Ireland will block Brexit talks unless border issue agreed
Sun, 26 Nov 2017 17:44
Kate Green | Anadolu Agency | Getty Image
Thousands of people take to the streets in a series of 'March for Europe' rallies in protest against the referendum vote to leave the EU
Ireland's EU commissioner said Dublin would "continue to play tough" over its threat to veto talks about trade after Brexit unless Britain provided guarantees over the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic.
Phil Hogan, the EU's agricultural commissioner, said that Britain, or Northern Ireland at least, should remain in the single market and the customs union to avoid a hard border dividing the island.
"If the UK or Northern Ireland remained in the EU customs union, or better still the single market, there would be no border issue," he told The Observer newspaper on Sunday.
British Prime Minister Theresa May has said Britain will leave the single market and the customs unions after Brexit.
Dublin wants a written guarantee that there will be no hard border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.
The European Union has said "sufficient progress" needs to be made on the Irish border, along with two other key issues, before EU leaders can approve the opening of trade talks in the new year at a summit on Dec. 14-15.
Dublin and EU officials say the best way to avoid a "hard border" - which could include passport and customs controls - is to keep regulations the same north and south, but the Northern Irish party that is propping up May's government will oppose any deal that sees the province operate under different regulations to the rest of the United kingdom.
"We will not support any arrangements that create barriers to trade between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom or any suggestion that Northern Ireland, unlike the rest of the UK, will have to mirror European regulations," the Democratic Unionist leader Arlene Foster said on Saturday.
Ruth Davidson, leader of the Conservatives in Scotland, said on Sunday that the Irish border was "one of the really difficult bits" of the negotiations.
She said Britain's unique future position as the only country that had left the European Union meant its did not need an "off-the-shelf" solution, although she did not specify how the issue should be resolved.
She said any delay in moving onto trade talks would have serious repercussions for businesses.
"I think that it is really important that we get the transitional deal nailed down; that's not for government, that's for businesses so they know what they are doing next year and they are able to plan," she said.
"If we don't make it through in the next two weeks to move onto that next phase, then we are rapidly going to run out of time in terms of getting us to a good position at the time that transitional deal is supposed to take place."
At Yale, we conducted an experiment to turn conservatives into liberals. The results say a lot about our political divisions. - The Washington Post
Sun, 26 Nov 2017 16:01
(Getty Images)
When my daughter was growing up, she often wanted to rush off to do fun things with her friends '-- get into the water at the beach, ride off on her bike '-- without taking the proper safety precautions first. I'd have to stop her in her tracks to first put on the sunscreen, or her bike helmet and knee pads, with her standing there impatiently. ''Safety first, fun second,'' was my mantra.
Keeping ourselves and our loved ones safe from harm is perhaps our strongest human motivation, deeply embedded in our very DNA. It is so deep and important that it influences much of what we think and do, maybe more than we might expect. For example, over a decade now of research in political psychology consistently shows that how physically threatened or fearful a person feels is a key factor '-- although clearly not the only one '-- in whether he or she holds conservative or liberal attitudes.
[A political scientist has discovered a surprising way to increase voter turnout. It starts in childhood.]
Conservatives, it turns out, react more strongly to physical threat than liberals do. In fact, their greater concern with physical safety seems to be determined early in life: In one University of California study, the more fear a 4-year-old showed in a laboratory situation, the more conservative his or her political attitudes were found to be 20 years later. Brain imaging studies have even shown that the fear center of the brain, the amygdala, is actually larger in conservatives than in liberals. And many other laboratory studies have found that when adult liberals experienced physical threat, their political and social attitudes became more conservative (temporarily, of course). But no one had ever turned conservatives into liberals.
Until we did.
In a new study to appear in a forthcoming issue of the European Journal of Social Psychology, my colleagues Jaime Napier, Julie Huang and Andy Vonasch and I asked 300 U.S. residents in an online survey their opinions on several contemporary issues such as gay rights, abortion, feminism and immigration, as well as social change in general. The group was two-thirds female, about three-quarters white, with an average age of 35. Thirty-percent of the participants self-identified as Republican, and the rest as Democrat.
But before they answered the survey questions, we had them engage in an intense imagination exercise. They were asked to close their eyes and richly imagine being visited by a genie who granted them a superpower. For half of our participants, this superpower was to be able to fly, under one's own power. For the other half, it was to be completely physically safe, invulnerable to any harm.
If they had just imagined being able to fly, their responses to the social attitude survey showed the usual clear difference between Republicans and Democrats '-- the former endorsed more conservative positions on social issues and were also more resistant to social change in general.
[Stanford researchers: The secret to overcoming the opioid crisis may lie partly in the mind]
But if they had instead just imagined being completely physically safe, the Republicans became significantly more liberal '-- their positions on social attitudes were much more like the Democratic respondents. And on the issue of social change in general, the Republicans' attitudes were now indistinguishable from the Democrats. Imagining being completely safe from physical harm had done what no experiment had done before '-- it had turned conservatives into liberals.
In both instances, we had manipulated a deeper underlying reason for political attitudes, the strength of the basic motivation of safety and survival. The boiling water of our social and political attitudes, it seems, can be turned up or down by changing how physically safe we feel.
This is why it makes sense that liberal politicians intuitively portray danger as manageable '-- recall FDR's famous Great Depression era reassurance of ''nothing to fear but fear itself,'' echoed decades later in Barack Obama's final State of the Union address '-- and why President Trump and other Republican politicians are instead likely to emphasize the dangers of terrorism and immigration, relying on fear as a motivator to gain votes.
In fact, anti-immigration attitudes are also linked directly to the underlying basic drive for physical safety. For centuries, arch-conservative leaders have often referred to scapegoated minority groups as ''germs'' or ''bacteria'' that seek to invade and destroy their country from within. President Trump is an acknowledged germaphobe, and he has a penchant for describing people '-- not only immigrants but political opponents and former Miss Universe contestants '-- as ''disgusting.''
''Immigrants are like viruses'' is a powerful metaphor, because in comparing immigrants entering a country to germs entering a human body, it speaks directly to our powerful innate motivation to avoid contamination and disease. Until very recently in human history, not only did we not have antibiotics, we did not even know how infections occurred or diseases transmitted, and cuts and open wounds were quite dangerous. (In the American Civil War, for example, 60 out of every 1,000 soldiers died not by bullets or bayonets, but by infections.)
Therefore, we reasoned, making people feel safer about a dangerous flu virus should serve to calm their fears about immigrants '-- and making them feel more threatened by the flu virus should cause them to be more against immigration than they were before. In a 2011 study, my colleagues and I showed just that. First, we reminded our nationwide sample of liberals and conservatives about the threat of the flu virus (during the H1N1 epidemic), and then measured their attitudes toward immigration. Afterward we simply asked them if they'd already gotten their flu shot or not. It turned out that those who had not gotten a flu shot (feeling threatened) expressed more negative attitudes toward immigration, while those who had received the vaccination (feeling safe) had more positive attitudes about immigration.
In another study, using hand sanitizer after being warned about the flu virus had the same effect on immigration attitudes as had being vaccinated. A simple squirt of Purell after we had raised the threat of the flu had changed their minds. It made them feel safe from the dangerous virus, and this made them feel socially safe from immigrants as well.
Our study findings may have a silver lining. Here's how:
All of us believe that our social and political attitudes are based on good reasons and reflect our important values. But we also need to recognize how much they can be influenced subconsciously by our most basic, powerful motivations for safety and survival. Politicians on both sides of the aisle know this already and attempt to manipulate our votes and party allegiances by appealing to these potent feelings of fear and of safety.
Instead of allowing our strings to be pulled so easily by others, we can become more conscious of what drives us and work harder to base our opinions on factual knowledge about the issues, including information from outside our media echo chambers. Yes, our views can harden given the right environment, but our work shows that they are actually easier to change than we might think.
John Bargh is a professor of social psychology at Yale University and the author of ''Before You Know It: The Unconscious Reasons We Do What We Do''
Predatory comments prompt YouTube ad suspension - BBC News
Sun, 26 Nov 2017 15:52
Image copyright Reuters Image caption Videos uploaded by young children were targeted by predators found news organisations Mars, Lidl, Adidas and others have pulled all advertisements from YouTube after some were found next to clips used by predators to target children.
Investigations by the BBC and the Times found tens of thousands of "predatory" accounts have been used to leave explicit comments on children's videos.
Problems with the video-sharing site's reporting system have been blamed for letting the accounts persist.
YouTube said it was "working urgently" to clean up the site.
A Mars spokesman told the Guardian: "We are shocked and appalled to see that our adverts have appeared alongside such exploitative and inappropriate content."
It said it had immediately suspended advertising globally on YouTube and Google. Adverts would not return until it was sure YouTube had put safeguards in place, it added.
Lidl, Deutsche Bank and Cadbury and many other big brands are also believed to have suspended advertising campaigns while the video-sharing site acts.
A YouTube spokesman said: "There shouldn't be any ads running on this content and we are working urgently to fix this."
The investigations found that clips posted innocently by young children on YouTube had attracted attention from predatory adults who left obscene comments and made sexually explicit requests.
The BBC was alerted to the scale of the problem by volunteer members of YouTube's Trusted Flagger programme who alert the site to potential violations of its guidelines.
Image copyright Oli Scarff Image caption M&S paused its ads on Google in June after they were found next to extremist content Trusted Flaggers who talked to the BBC said there could be up to 100,000 active predatory accounts on the site, all of which were able to survive because the system to report them did not work well.
YouTube has responded to the twin investigations by shutting accounts used to make predatory comments and by turning off comments on thousands of videos.
The ad suspensions come only days after YouTube unveiled new measures that were supposed to limit the spread of sexualised and violent content.
It promised to be tougher about applying its guidelines on what was appropriate, block inappropriate comments on videos featuring children and expunge adverts that target families with material that is offensive.
This is after YouTube was criticised about accounts that targeted children with videos that feature popular characters, such as Peppa Pig, in strange or disturbing situations.
Also, in June this year, YouTube was forced to act after major brands pulled adverts when they found their content was being linked to videos featuring hate speech and extremism.
France is in panic and close to an Islamic explosion says journalist
Sun, 26 Nov 2017 15:38
In an opinion piece, Italian journalist Giulio Meotti says France's discussion about Islam and Islamisation shows the country's panic about the subject.
He reacts to the advice French professor Christian de Moliner gave to split up France in two territories: A part with French law for non-Muslims, and a part with Shariah law for Muslims who choose for it.
Meotti says the situation looks like the moment when France was losing the war in Algeria and suggested to split up the country into a part for whites and a part for Muslim Algerians. He adds that the ''War over France'' is hardly at its beginnings:
''Many murderous Islamist attacks have taken place and large territories are already outside the control of the French secular Republic. Even if the conflict is still in its infancy, the notion of 'partition' or secession is advancing in public opinion'', he says.
Professor Molinor's idea to split up the country tells you that Paris is in panic. While president Emmanuel Macron praised Islam in Abu Dhabi, Muslim extremists control French no-go zones, with Jews leaving their historic areas, and magazine ''Charlie Hebdo'' suffering a new wave of death threats. With ISIS fighters returning to France after their defeat in Syria, France is ready for a future Islamist explosion, Meotti concludes.
Why 'Net Neutrality' Drives the Left Crazy - WSJ
Sun, 26 Nov 2017 13:47
Washington
Protesters from the far-left group Popular Resistance have swarmed the Arlington, Va., street where Ajit Pai lives, placing pamphlets with his face on his neighbors' front doors. ''Have you seen this man?'' the flyers ask, stating that Mr. Pai'--''Age 44 / Height 6'1" / Weight 200'''--is ''trying to destroy net neutrality.'' Mr. Pai is chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, and the activists, not without perverse...
Stop Loss Orders - Why They Don't Always Work - Tradingsim
Sun, 26 Nov 2017 06:05
23 January 2014 , adminNext Lesson in this Course: Previous Next 0 Flares 0 Facebook 0 Google+ 0 0 Flares — Stop Loss Orders
How do Stop Loss Orders Work?If I had to define a stop loss order, it's just that, a protective order which stops you from losing more money than you would like. In a nutshell these are orders that are placed a certain distance from your entry price and if reached your position is closed. This does not mean 50% of your position is closed, but an entire liquidation.
When you think of a stop loss order, you should get a visual of a defeated soldier waving a white flag on the battle field. It is a complete concession that your original plan was wrong.
As we probe deeper into the topic you will receive a compelling argument on both sides. One point of view that stop loss orders are a good idea, the other that if used incorrectly, this capital preservation technique could have the exact opposite effect on your equity curve.
Stop Loss vs Stop Limit OrdersThere are a number of stop loss order types, so without confusing you or myself, let's slowly ease into this one. Stop loss orders can be placed on both sides of the market: long or short. In addition, the orders can be placed as limit or market orders.
Buy Stop Market OrderA buy stop loss market order is an order to buy a specific number of shares at the market or ask price. The buy stop market order is used to close short positions and is placed above your entry price. For example, if you are short Google at $1,000 and place a buy market order at $1,250, then your short position will be liquidated as a market order to buy back all of the shares on a price breach of $1,250.
Buy Stop Limit OrderA buy stop loss limit order is an order to buy a specific number of shares at a limit price. The buy stop limit order is used to close short positions above your entry price. As an example, if you are short Apple at $500 and place a buy stop limit order at $525, then your position will be liquidated at the set price of $525. This may seem in theory that you have more control over where you exit the position versus a market order; however, if your sell price of $525 is jumped by the bulls, you could be stuck holding your position.
Sell Stop Market OrderDo you really want me to explain? It's the exact opposite of the buy stop loss market order, but used to prevent further losses from a long position.
Sell Stop Limit OrderAgain, not trying to put you to sleep, it's the exact opposite as the buy stop limit order, but is used to prevent further losses from a long position.
If you want more in terms of definitions of various stop loss orders, please visit the following link to an article on Tradersedgeindia.com. They've done a pretty good job of explaining the basics.
How to place a stop loss orderYou place your stop loss orders like any other order through your trading application. For short positions, you will want to place a buy stop loss order and for long positions you will want to place a sell stop loss order.
It's a bit confusing because when I first started trading I expected to see an order type called 'stop loss'. In actuality, stop loss is just the term used to signify you are attempting to close a losing position.
You will want to place your stop loss order some distance from your entry price, which signifies to you that the position has gone against you and it's time to take the loss.
That sounds easy enough right? Wrong! Knowing where to place your stop loss order is more magic than science. As you read further along in this article you will see why.
How to use stop-loss ordersMost traders will look at key levels of support or resistance as obvious points to place their stop loss orders. This can come in the form of a recent swing in an up or down trend, or the breach of a key top or bottom in a horizontal pattern like a head and shoulders bottom.
This sounds so simple enough, but it's far too complicated to see on first glance.
It makes logical sense right, close your position when a key level is breached. Clearly, something is wrong and you must protect your capital.
Yes and no. The more you trade, the more you will realize the market is filled with more head fakes than the best bobble head at your local dollar store.
Why stop loss orders can cause you to lose more money than you would otherwise
The first reason stop loss orders can lose you money is you don't know what you are doing. That sounds harsh, I know. But if you have been trading for a few months you are probably having enough time trying to figure out what's going on, let alone have any idea of when you are wrong.
Your lack of understanding of the inner workings of the market will cause you to place stop loss orders at what will later be the turning point for the stock. The level of frustration you will face as your position is closed right before the stock takes off will feel like your 8th grade girlfriend dumping you right before the dance.
I go into detail of how was recently burned below'.....
Stop loss orders and how marker makers will gun for youWhile the activity of market makers is completely legal, we have all cursed them at one point or another in our trading careers. The market makers will often see a number of orders clustered around a specific price and these orders act as a magnet for how these makers will bid the price of the stock. This is why you will notice that your order when triggered, will often lead to a bounce in the opposite direction.
This is because the market maker can use yours and other stop loss orders from newbie traders to provide the sell orders large enough for a big buy for the smart money.
Think I'm making this up? Notice how stocks will have these quick moves through support only to rally so hard that you don't have the courage to jump on the trade.
How to use Trailing Stop Loss OrdersOne method of stop loss orders we have not covered to this point is trailing stops. This is where you have booked profit in a trade and you trail or move up your stop loss order as the stock continues to move in your favor. The great thing about trailing stop loss orders is that you will lock in profit at as the stock rises, thus lowering your risk profile and increasing your paper profits. It's a great method for new traders who are learning the art of letting their winners run.
Stop loss orders and volatility don't mixIf you are trading a volatile stock, using stop loss orders is a difficult proposition. Think about it, the really volatile stocks can swing between high and low points wildly. It's tough enough to time the swings, let alone know exactly where to place your stop loss order.
Trading tightly with a volatile stock is contradictory at best. Take a look at stocks like CHTP, NIHD, and VNDA. Pick any timeframe or day of the week; where do you place your stop? Notice how levels are breached with no regard, only to rally as if there is no resistance at all.
For these highly volatile stocks, you have to truly accept the risk. If you are long, you are long. If you are short, you are short. You need to wait until your profit target is reached and be prepared to lose money if it doesn't. If you are not prepared for that reality, don't get involved with the high flyers.
Let me tell you a secret, I don't use stop loss ordersSecret
Before I go any further, I am not advocating you do the same. Only you can decide what trading strategy works best for you.
Over the years for me I've noticed that stop loss orders cause me more pain the help. In the past, I had so much fear of the market. While it's always good to have a healthy level of respect for how the market can take your money, you should never be afraid.
My fear was causing me to place my stops at ridiculously tight levels from my entry price. This would work if my strategy called for tight stops and I used the same approach every single time. This however was not the case for me.
In my mind placing the trade and then establishing a stop loss order was proof to me that I was accepting the risk of the trade. This couldn't have been the furthest thing from the truth.
I was just going through the motions of what I thought it meant to trade with a set of rules. Does this sound familiar?
In the end, when I decided to no longer use stop loss orders, I knew I needed another method for protecting myself against runaway losses.
So, if I am long, I will place an alert at a key support level. If that level is breached, I will be alerted of the price action. Instead of just panic selling, I will see the volume and price action at the key support level.
At this point I will make a call of either closing out the position, or moving my mental stop lower. Over time I have noticed that these breaches are just classic head fakes that the experts use to squeeze out the little guy before the big move.
If you look back over your trades and you notice that the ensuing move starts right after you are closed out, placing a mental stop and then evaluating the price action may be what you need to turn a sharp corner in your trading journey.
A real-life example of using Stop Loss OrdersWhile thus far we have discussed stop loss orders in theory, there is nothing like the real world smacking you in the face. In the next few paragraphs I will cover an actual trade where I was squeezed out right before the big move.
The trade was in a stock that we all know and love named Tesla. Now Tesla had made a quite miraculous move up to a high of $194.50. After which the stock began a nasty correction back down to the $120 - $117 range.
I managed to avoid this blood bath, which looking back on it was a pretty good call. I entered the trade at $123 which was a little early, but I got in on 11/18/2013, where the stock had a $15 dollar range.
After entering the trade, Tesla began to move sideways for a number of days. There was a clean base which formed and as the stock dragged lower, there were three successive moves down which pushed the stock lower. You can see these swing points in the below 30-minute chart.
After the stock took out the previous day's high, in my mind the move had started, so I placed my stop loss order directly below the last swing low as illustrated.
Everything about this to me even as I write this makes perfect sense. The only problem is the market of course went after that low, because odds are there were hundreds or maybe even thousands of other traders that did the same thing as I did on that day '' place a tight stop.
As you can see, TSLA spiked down to hit a new intra-day low of $116.10 only to begin the sharp move up. As of the writing of this article (1/23/2014) TSLA hit a high of $182.38. Even with my awful entry price of $123, this still represents a profit of ~ 50%.
Now you could say, well the trade didn't work out, but you were trying to protect your capital so it's still a good trade. In my humble opinion, I say no. First off, at the peak of my paper loss I was only down 6% and on a volatile swing trade like Tesla, that's less than a scratch.
The bottom line is that I was unwilling to take the risk. From what I remember on the trade, I was more concerned with the possibility of Tesla breaking down below $97, and that was all I could see. Makes perfect sense now why the move to $116 rattled my cage.
Has something like this happened to you in one of your past trades?
SummaryStop loss orders can be a great mechanism for you to place controls around the anarchy that is the market. This is especially helpful for when you are starting out in your trading career. As you begin to understand how you react to the market (emotions, fears, greed, etc.) you will begin to see that these hard fast rules can hurt as much as help.
If you are struggling with where to place your stops or just looking to improve your trade management, please check out the cutting edge trading simulator at Tradingsim. We are helping traders like yourself make more money without risking their shirt.
Photos
Dice Photo by Incalido
Market Maker Photo by Wikipedia
Secret Photo by Jeremy Atkinson
ALL LESSONS IN THE COURSE: Types of Trades
fcc fact sheet on net neutrality - Google Search
Sun, 26 Nov 2017 02:34
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[PDF] Fact Sheet - Federal Communications Commissionhttps://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DOC-331869A1.pdfFact Sheet: Chairman Wheeler Proposes New Rules ... strengthen and supplement FCC rules struck down by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of. Searches related to fcc fact sheet on net neutrality
Science news: DARPA funding human test of 'mood changing brain implant' | Daily Star
Sun, 26 Nov 2017 02:12
SCIENTISTS have begun human testing on electronic brain implants designed to change peoples moods controlled by computers.
GETTY
META HUMANS: Could implants in the brain transform mankind into something more? Devices plugged into people's skulls are being developed by boffins funded by the US military's research division DARPA.
These implants will use electronic pulses to alter the chemicals in people's brains in a process called ''deep brain stimulation''.
This will then change people's moods and is believed to be able to treat mental illness and provide therapy.
Artificial intelligence in implants will detect and study the brain to know what pulses to send '' described by scientists as a "window on the brain".
DARPA has handed the cash to teams form the University of California and Massachusetts General Hospital.
The EXPERIMENTAL superweapons for Trump's futuristic army As Donald Trump has promised to start an arms race, we take a look at the futuristic weapons being developed for the US military.
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Lockheed Martin The Lockheed Martin HULC is an exoskeleton that allows soldiers to carry loads of up to 200lbs for long distances
''For the first time we're going to have a window on the brain ''
Edward ChangTesting suggestions the mood implants can be used to treat disorders such as Parkinson's.
Experiments have been also carried out on people with depression '' but the the results are inconclusive so far.
DARPA is funding the project with the long-term goal of being able treat traumatised soldiers.
The current work '' which includes human testing '' was presented at the Society of Neuroscience in Washington, reports Nature.
GETTY
HUMAN BRAIN: Scientists are trying to develop technology meddled with the mind GETTY
DEEP BRAIN STIMULATION: Implants could alter moods if scientists perfect the technology Neuroscientist Edward Chang said: ''The exciting thing about these technologies is that for the first time we're going to have a window on the brain where we know what's happening in the brain when someone relapses.''
He added: ''We've learned a lot about the limitations of our current technology,''
Chang also denied the technology will be able to ready people's minds, explaining they will simply ''have access to activity that encodes their feelings''.
Could this be the MEANING OF LIFE? As humans become more and more intertwined with technology, boffins have hit upon a remarkable theory which could unlock the key to the meaning of life
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Getty Images Humans have been searching for the meaning of life since the beginning of the species
Scientists hope the new implant will allow doctors and scientists are window into people's minds.
This will also personalised treatments for people to better treat illnesses and regulate feelings.
Dementia and Alzheimer's are also hoped to be treated using the implants.
GETTY
DARPA: The Pentagon '' the US military's top dogs '' are funding the research Postcards that PREDICTED the future 100 years ago German chocolate company Hildebrand commissioned postcards imagining life in the year 2000. The results are AMAZING
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https://publicdomainreview.org Man-icures: Meet The New Fangled Barber
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However, the technology could still be a long way off as scientists continue development.
''You have to do a lot of tuning to get it right,'' said psychiatrist Wayne Goodman.
This week, doctors announced a cancer cure breakthrough as medical science continues to advance.
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Award-winning author and professor accused of harassment
Sun, 26 Nov 2017 02:06
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) '-- Former students at the University of Virginia have accused a creative writing professor and National Book Award winner of sexual harassment.
The Daily Progress in Charlottesville reported Friday that two former graduate students recently filed complaints with the school against author John Casey. He won the National Book Award in 1989 for his novel "Spartina."
Former student Emma Eisenberg says Casey repeatedly touched her and others and made vulgar remarks about women.
Eisenberg, who earned her degree in 2014, said Casey's behavior was an "open secret." She said she came forward after women nationwide began speaking out against sexual harassment.
UVA spokesman Anthony de Bruyn said the school is investigating. Casey told the newspaper and The Associated Press that it's too early to comment because "the case is ongoing."
___
Information from: The Daily Progress, http://www.dailyprogress.com
Las Vegas massacre survivor killed in hit-and-run | Fox News
Sun, 26 Nov 2017 02:03
Roy McClellan was killed in a hit-and-run accident Nov. 17 in southern Nevada (Facebook/Denise McClellan)
A man who survived the Oct. 1 mass shooting at a country music festival in Las Vegas was killed last week in a hit-and-run in southern Nevada.
Roy McClellan died Nov. 17 while hitchhiking on State Route 160 in Pahrump, about 50 miles west of Las Vegas.
"I don't understand why he wasn't taken at the shooting, but a month later he was taken this way," McClellan's wife, Denise, told KSNV. "I hope my husband found peace and he's safe now."
The McClellans were attending the Route 91 Harvest Festival on the Las Vegas Strip when Stephen Paddock began shooting from his 32nd-floor suite at the nearby Mandalay Bay hotel-casino. In all, 58 people were killed and more than 500 were injured in the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.
Denise McClellan told KSNV that the shooting "was really messing with [Roy's] head and he was going to therapy."
On Friday, Denise posted on Facebook that Roy had "stormed off" after a fight with a friend the night before he died.
KSNV reported that investigators had located the car believed to be involved in the accident and charges were pending.
A GoFundMe to support McClellan's family had raised $1,640 as of Saturday evening.
Click for more from News3LV.com.
I'm A Celeb's Jack Maynard apologises after tweets | Daily Mail Online
Sun, 26 Nov 2017 01:32
He is a successful vlogger who has recently secured his biggest career coup to date with his appearance on the latest series of I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here!.
But Jack Maynard has come under fire after it was revealed he had repeatedly used the n-word and homophobic slurs in tweets posted between 2011-2013 - after which his representatives insisted he was 'ashamed'.
The tweets, obtained by The Sun, show the 22-year-old star casually using the racist term 'n*****', as well as calling fellow social media users by the homophobic slur 'f*****' and 'retarded'.
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Shame: I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here star Jack Maynard has come under fire after it was revealed he had repeatedly used the n-word and homophobic slurs in tweets posted between 2011-2013, reports The Sun
The Sun alleges that Jack posted photos of people with facial deformities with comments such as 'in his prime' and 'Ahahahaha! Sooo funny!'
Jack told MailOnline the reality star was apologetic and ashamed of his actions.
The statement read: 'Jack is ashamed of what he said in these tweets, many of which were deleted a long time ago and were sent in response to a neighbour who was bullying him.
'Jack was a lot younger when he posted them in 2012 but realises that age is no defence.
Apology: The tweets show the 22-year-old star casually using the racist term n*****, as well as calling fellow social media users by the homophobic slur f***** and 'retarded'
'Ashamed': A spokeswoman for Jack told MailOnline the reality star was apologetic and ashamed of his actions, saying: 'Jack is ashamed of what he said in these tweets, many of which were deleted a long time ago and were sent in response to a neighbour who was bullying him
'He would never use that language now and realises that, as someone who was bullied himself, this kind of retaliatory, inflammatory, insulting language is completely unacceptable.'
An ITV spokeswoman told the website: 'Jack has issued a full apology and has deleted the tweets that he sent.'
Boasting a whopping 1,195,687 subscribers, Jack is the first vlogger to enter the celebrity jungle.
Delete: An ITV spokeswoman told the website: 'Jack has issued a full apology and has deleted the tweets that he sent'
I'm A Celebrity fans saw Jack and Georgia Toffolo take on the terrifying Walk the Plank task on the launch show - with the blonde shrieking with terror from the offset.
However, while the MIC star moved swiftly to the end, Jack froze halfway - with Toff encouraging: 'Come on darling, I'm waiting for you, if I can do it you can do it!'
The pair were then told they hit their buttons at exactly the same time, while the light was green - leading them to cheer with delight.
Siblings: Jack is the younger brother of singer Conor Maynard (seen above in 2016)
RW ONLINE:The CIA Agents Who Moved the Coke
Sat, 25 Nov 2017 21:15
RW ONLINE:The CIA Agents Who Moved the CokeThe CIA Agents Who Moved the CokeRevolutionary Worker #885, December 8, 1996
Everyone is talking about how the U.S. government ran cheap cocaine into the U.S. In the early 1980s, just as the so-called "crack explosion" hit the streets, cargo planes hired by U.S. government and protected by the CIA were flying tons of cocaine into major U.S. airports and military bases. From there it was distributed throughout the U.S.--in particular into the Black communities. Large amounts of money raised by this traffic went towards financing the secret CIA war by the contras against Nicaragua.
For ten years, government leaders have blamed ghetto youth for a "drug epidemic." They sent armies of cops to brutalize the people. They have crowded the prisons with a whole generation of youth. And now it leaks out that they were behind the "crack explosion" all along! Recent articles by Gary Webb in the San Jose Mercury kicked off the current controversy by exposing a contra drug ring in Los Angeles.
The CIA denies its agents were involved in the drug trade. And major newspapers claim that there is no proof that CIA agents were involved. Under attack, the chief editor of the San Jose Mercury has pointed out what the Webb series documented and what it did not: "We got to the door of the CIA. We did not get inside the CIA."
In this article, let's get past the door of the CIA--and look at the CIA agents involved in the drug trafficking. Three levels of CIA agents are discussed in this article: First, there are those who were top CIA officials--men like William Casey, Duane Clarridge, Donald Gregg and George Bush. Second, there are CIA officers or operatives--people who attended specialized CIA training schools and who must, by law, be U.S. citizens. Such officers are usually well hidden and act through their field agents. Third, there are CIA field agents, contract agents or assets--these are people paid to conduct espionage or covert activities under the direction of CIA case officers.
It is hard to dig up the truth about CIA operations. CIA agents routinely use elaborate cover stories that portray them as civilians, private mercenaries or "retired" agents. In addition, the 1982 Intelligence Identities Protection Act was passed as the CIA was starting its contra war. This law made it a crime to expose CIA agents. The government first threatens to imprison anyone who exposes what CIA agents are doing--then they accuse their critics of not offering enough "hard proof" of CIA involvement!
The following article is based on materials that have been published elsewhere--most of it testimony given at trials and congressional hearings. It is fragmentary but revealing. We hope it will help readers decide for themselves whether the CIA and its employees were involved in the drug trade.
*****WILLIAM CASEY,Director of Central Intelligence
DUANE CLARRIDGE,
Division Chief for Latin America,
CIA Directorate of Operations
In 1981, Ronald Reagan appointed William Casey to be the head of the CIA. Over the next years, the Agency greatly expanded its covert activities. One of them was a whole secret war. Former officers of the hated National Guard of Nicaragua's deposed dictator Somoza were hired by the CIA to attack Nicaragua. These were the so-called contras (short for counter-revolutionaries).
In 1982, Casey authorized "Black Eagle"--a secret operation to fund and supply the contras. Casey's plan was to develop a "private" network large enough to secretly arm, finance, and command a whole war--without openly involving official U.S. military forces or intelligence agencies. They called it "The Enterprise"--and it was riddled with "former" CIA officers and agents.
To fund the Enterprise, Casey and his representatives contacted governments closely tied to U.S. imperialism, including the Israelis, Argentinians, the Sultan of Brunei, the Saudi monarchy, and the various CIA-dominated militaries of Central America. In exchange for all kinds of favors, these governments contributed arms, money, and trainers to the Enterprise. This whole operation was exposed during the Iran-contra scandal. But what was covered up during the Iran-contra hearings was that the Enterprise also relied heavily on drug-smuggling operations. The CIA offered large-scale drug smugglers a simple deal: It would prevent U.S. drug and customs agencies from disrupting their cocaine traffic, if these traffickers would airlift and finance the flow of arms to the contras. It was "an offer you can't refuse" from the big godfathers in Washington--the CIA calls such deals "ticket punching."[1]
Clarridge and theHonduran Connection
Casey appointed the high-ranking CIA official Duane Clarridge to be the de facto commander-in-chief of the contra war. In August 1981 before the contra war even started, Clarridge flew down to Honduras, the country just north of Nicaragua, which had been selected as the base area for the CIA's contra war. Clarridge met with Honduran President Policarpo Paz Garc­a, military intelligence boss Col. Leonides Torres, and national police chief, Col. Gustavo Alvarez Mart­nez. These three men were already deeply involved in cocaine traffic. And they were connected to Honduras' main cocaine trafficker, Juan Ram"n Matta Ballesteros.[1] "We don't know the extent of the Honduran military's involvement in drugs," a State Department official would later say. "But our educated guess is that all of the senior officials have knowledge, many are involved...and they are all reaping the profits."[2]
Though Matta himself was in prison much of this time, the 1989 report of the Senate's Kerry subcommittee documents that Matta's airline SETCO became the main air carrier for contra supply, "carrying at least a million rounds of ammunition, food, uniforms and other military supplies" between 1983 and 1986. On the return route, the planes often carried cocaine.
In 1983, as SETCO supply runs started, Vice President George Bush put the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) operations under the control of the "national security" apparatus. In June 1983, the DEA office in Honduras was shut down, one month after the local DEA agent started investigating SETCO. Also in 1983, planes of Southern Air Transport (SAT--the CIA's newly "privatized" airline) were seen being loaded with cocaine in Barranquilla, Colombia (Washington Post, Jan. 20, 1987). SETCO and SAT were part of a larger air support network directed by "retired Air Force General" Richard Secord, a military logistics expert who is sometimes described as a CIA official.
1984--The Enterprise Goes Deeper Under CoverSections of the U.S. ruling class complained that the contras were "ineffective" and were making little progress in overthrowing Nicaragua's Sandinista government. Contra commanders were accused of accumulating wealth instead of fighting. In 1984, Congress passed a law forbidding the U.S. government from directly arming the contras. In response, the CIA moved the day-to-day command of the contra supply away from its Langley offices.
After 1984, the contra operation was overseen by Donald Gregg, a long-time CIA official who was reassigned to be top aide of Vice President George Bush. And within the Reagan White House, Lt. Col. Oliver North of the National Security Council staff (NSC) directed contra supply--under the guidance of William Casey himself. The CIA had kept the operation firmly in tested CIA hands. And at the top, George Bush was given overall command of three key government policy areas: "crisis management," "counterterrorism" and "narcotics policy."
The Enterprise continued to grow. By 1986, the CIA had at least 300 agents operating in Honduras.[3] In 1984, SETCO started receiving funds directly from the U.S. State Department. State Department testimony before congress said that the CIA approved giving funds to Matta's organization. In addition, it was reported that North gave SETCO other money from secret accounts.[1] According to Newsweek, by 1986, Matta's organization was supplying "perhaps one third of all the cocaine consumed in the United States."
When scandal erupted over Enterprise dealings with Iran, Oliver North said, "Casey told me to clean out the files. I shredded documents and altered others." (Time, July 27, 1987) Casey died of a brain tumor in the middle of the Iran-contra scandal.
MANUEL NORIEGAMilitary Dictator, Drug Smuggler, CIA Agent
"I never saw any intelligence suggesting General Noriega's involvement in the drug trade. In fact, we always held up Panama as the model in terms of cooperation with the United States in the war on drugs."
Admiral Daniel Murphy, top drug aide
of Vice President George Bush,
September 1988
"A Costa Rican legislative commission concluded in 1989 that Noriega helped install in that country at least seven pilots who ran guns to the contras and drugs to North America. `More serious still,' it added, `is the obvious infiltration of international gangs into Costa Rica that made use of the [contra] organization. These requests for Contra help were initiated by Colonel North to General Noriega. They opened a gate so their henchmen utilized the national territory for trafficking in arms and drugs.' "
Peter Dale Scott and Jonathan Marshall[4]
Panama's General Noriega was at the heart of operations funding and supplying contras in Costa Rica. Noriega was first recruited as an agent by the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency in 1959, while still a teenage military cadet studying in Peru. He went on the CIA's payroll in 1967. The following year, a U.S.-instigated military coup in Panama installed him as head of Panama's military intelligence and secret police.[1] Soon he seized overall power in Panama.
Later, in 1991 trial testimony, the CIA and U.S. Army admitted paying Noriega $322,336 since 1955. This is a very low estimate. Others report that then-CIA director George Bush started paying Noriega $100,000 a year in 1976.[4] During the '80s, Noriega deposited at least $33 million at the Panama City branch of the BCCI bank. Some of these funds were being laundered for the contras, others were Noriega's payoffs for the operations passing through his territory.
To earn his pay, Noriega carried out all kinds of dirty activities for his U.S. masters. He supplied pilots, bases and funds to the contra supply operations.[1] Noriega's close confidant Floyd Carlton Caceres negotiated personally with the top Colombian cocaine smugglers Pablo Escobar and Gustavo Gaviria for the use of Panamanian air bases. Noriega's fees for such services were $200,000 per trip. Floyd Carlton later testified in a U.S. courtroom that their operation flew U.S. guns to the contras in Nicaragua and brought cocaine into the United States on the return flight.[1]
The CIA protected these operations. When the DEA boss in Panama City suggested an investigation into the billions of dollars of drug money passing through Panama, the local CIA station chief insisted that such as investigation must be forbidden to touch Panamanian government officials.
In 1984, the Enterprise was reorganized, and Noriega's contra-drug operations shifted northward from Panama to Costa Rica, Honduras and El Salvador. Between October 1984 and June 1986, the gun-for-drugs operation run by Floyd Carlton alone moved at least four tons of cocaine through northern Costa Rica.[1]
In 1986, the CIA's Duane Clarridge and Oliver North met with Noriega to discuss how to stop the U.S. media from exposing Noriega's operations. North hired a new public relations firm for Noriega. From this evidence it is clear that the top CIA official Clarridge remained deeply involved in these operations.[1]
JOHN HULLRancher, Drug Smuggler, CIA Agent
"I'm not in the arms business. I'm not in the explosives business. I'm not in the drug business...This is a Communist disinformation campaign to try to smear the reputation of the CIA, to try to smear the reputation of our own government."
John Hull [5]
"According to eyewitness testimony, weapons destined for the contras were flown in small planes to the [Hull] ranch. The planes were then refueled and returned to the United States with cargoes of cocaine. On at least two occasions, according to the testimony, Hull was present while bags of cocaine were transferred to the planes. The report describes successful efforts by United States Embassy officials in Costa Rica to frustrate an investigation by the U.S. attorney in Miami into Hull's activities."
Kerry subcommittee report
The gun-for-drugs operations increasingly used the airstrip on the 1,500-acre Costa Rican ranch of an American named John Hull. Hull lived the life of a feudal Latin America patr"n. The CIA's station chief in Costa Rica openly said that Hull was an agent, working on "military supply and other operations on behalf of the Contras." Hull himself told the Washington Times (Jan. 17, 1989) that from 1982 to 1986 he served as the CIA's chief liaison with the Nicaraguan rebels in Costa Rica.[1]
In 1983, Hull traveled to Miami and Washington. In Washington, he was taken to meet Oliver North by Robert Owen. Owen was officially an aide of then-Senator Dan Quayle. However a report written by CIA officer Glenn Robinette described Owen as a "young CIA officer." After this meeting Hull started receiving a $10,000 monthly retainer from Oliver North. On the Miami leg of his trip, Hull met with drug smugglers George Morales and Frank Castro. Morales and his pilot Gary Betzner began flying drugs and guns for the contra supply operation--using Hull's ranch, Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport, and Ilopango Air Force Base in El Salvador. These operations expanded greatly after 1984.[1]
The Kerry subcommittee "found no fewer than five witnesses who testified to Hull's involvement in the narcotics traffic." One witness, Gary Wayne Betzner, testified that he piloted two plane-loads of contra weapons for Morales to John Hulls' ranch in Costa Rica. On both occasions, he said, about 500 kilograms of cocaine were transferred to his plane under Hull's supervision for the return flight to the United States.[6]
In May 1990, Colombian drug kingpin Carlos Lehder told ABC News that Hull was "pumping about 30 tons of cocaine into the United States" every year.[6] Oliver North received reports about the drug financing of the Costa Rican contras from his representative Robert Owen.
Here is a smoking gun in the CIA-cocaine controversy: Hull was a known CIA agent seen supervising the loading of cocaine, and he was protected from investigation by orders from the U.S. embassy.
OCTAVIANO CESARContra, CIA Agent and Recruiter for Drug Smuggling
George Morales testified to the Kerry subcommittee, that his drug-smuggling operation was recruited into the guns-for-drugs operations by Octaviano C(C)sar in 1983. C(C)sar, then a top aide of contra leader Eden Pastora, said he spoke for the CIA and would have the drug charges against Morales dropped. Journalist Leslie Cockburn says eight sources, including high-level Washington officials, have confirmed that C(C)sar was a CIA agent.[5] One of Morales' pilots, Fabio Carrasco, testified at a trial that he delivered millions of dollars of cocaine earnings to Octaviano C(C)sar and another contra leader. He also said that, with CIA approval, he personally supervised flights of cocaine from Costa Rica to Fort Lauderdale.
FELIX RODRIGUEZCIA Officer and HMIC
In 1984, as this contra supply operation was tightened up, Felix Rodr­guez appeared heading up the operation at El Salvador's Ilopango Air Force Base. Rodr­guez's career reads like a history lesson in CIA crimes. In 1961, Rodr­guez participated in the CIA's failed Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba. In 1967, he was the CIA agent on the scene in Bolivia when the guerrilla leader Ch(C) Guevara was captured. In his autobiography, Rodr­guez claims he personally gave the command to execute Che. Rodr­guez liked to show off Che's wristwatch as a memento of this crime.
In Vietnam Rodr­guez worked under CIA big-shot Donald Gregg during the murderous death-squad campaign known as "Operation Phoenix"--where CIA agents systematically executed thousands of Vietnamese civilians suspected of supporting revolutionary forces. Rodr­guez commanded an elite intelligence unit that threw captives out of helicopters.
Though Cuban-born, Rodr­guez became a naturalized U.S. citizen, allowing him to become a full CIA officer. Officially he "retired" from the CIA after 15 years--and in the early 1980s he worked with the Salvadoran military, organizing counterinsurgency against guerrillas.
In 1986, George Bush and Donald Gregg personally assigned Rodr­guez to the contra supply effort. Rodr­guez (using the name "Max G"mez") emerged as a commander of the contra supply effort at Ilopango Air Force Base. Officially, he had been "hired" by the Salvadoran Air Force. One military intelligence agent, Terry Reed, described Max G"mez as "HMIC"--the Head Motherfucker in Charge--who liked to brag that he had been personally chosen by the White House for the job. His work was supervised at the top by Oliver North and Donald Gregg.
And, under Rodr­guez, the drug trade flourished at Ilopango. Celerino Castillo, the DEA's agent in El Salvador, reported on the huge drug-for-arms smuggling operation run out of Ilopango by the CIA. Castillo wrote, "my reports contained not only the names of traffickers, but their destinations, flight paths, tail numbers, and the date and time of each flight. Hundreds of flights each week delivered cocaine to the buyers and returned money headed for the great isthmus laundering machine in Panama." Castillo said the operation was run out of one hangar owned by the CIA and another hangar run by the NSC.[7]
Milian Rodr­guez, a drug money launderer, told the Kerry subcommittee that Felix Rodr­guez had him launder millions of dollars from dozens of Miami companies tied to cocaine smugglers. For one company alone, he moved about $200,000 a month to the contras in cash by courier. Milian Rodr­guez said "Felix would call me with instructions on where to send the money." One of the people who got this money was Adolfo Calero, the civilian head of the contras and a known CIA agent. Felix Rodr­guez acknowledged that Milian Rodr­guez was an old friend, but denied asking him for drug money.[2]
Richard Brenneke, an Oregon-based arms dealer and former CIA agent, claims he tried to tell Donald Gregg that he was being asked to fly drugs into Texas. Brenneke says Gregg told him, "You do what you were assigned to do. Don't question the decision of your betters." Gregg denies ever speaking with Brenneke.
ENRIQUE BERMUDEZand ADOLFO CALERO
Contra Leaders, CIA Agents
In 1981, just as the contra war was starting, two Nicaraguan contras, Danielo Bland"n and Norwin Meneses, met with Col. Enrique Bermºdez in Honduras. Bermºdez was a top Nicaraguan CIA agent in charge of forming the Fuerza Democrtica Nicaraguense (FDN), the main contra force. Bland"n was a businessman from a family of wealthy Nicaraguan slumlords who had worked for Nicaragua's pro-U.S. Somoza dictatorship. Meneses was Nicaragua's biggest drug smuggler.
It is not known what was said at this meeting. However after Bland"n and Meneses had been brought together by Bermºdez, they set up a large cocaine distribution ring in California. Meneses organized the operation from San Francisco, while Bland"n was told to find buyers in the Black communities of Compton and South Central. According to Bland"n, his operation sold almost a ton of cocaine in its first year--$54 million worth at wholesale prices.
A 1984 photograph documents that, at the height of these drug operations, Meneses was meeting with Adolfo Calero, who was then the leader of the contras and who was himself a known CIA agent. These relationships were documented by Gary Webb in his recent and now-famous series in the San Jose Mercury.
Since Webb's series was published this summer, more evidence has surfaced. Adolfo Calero now admits that he met Meneses four times in California, and that he met with both Meneses and Bland"n once in Honduras. [8]
Webb's research reveals that the contra networks were involved in the distribution of cocaine. And it reveals that this contra-cocaine network deliberately chose to target Black communities with their drugs.
Webb's research has come under some intense attack. The New York Times, for example, wrote: "...while there are indications in American intelligence files and elsewhere that Mr. Meneses and Mr. Bland"n may indeed have provided modest support for the rebels, including perhaps some weapons, there is no evidence that either man was a rebel official or had anything to do with the CIA. Nor is there proof that the relatively small amounts of cocaine they sometimes claimed to have brokered on behalf of the insurgents had a remotely significant role in the explosion of crack that began around the same time."[9]
In an example of double-think, the New York Times writes: "Although Mr. Bermºdez, like other contra leaders, was often paid by the CIA, he was not a CIA agent." Usually, the New York Times (and everyone else) considers anyone receiving a CIA paycheck to be a CIA agent![8]
What the Webb series revealed is that CIA agents holding leading posts in the contra movement, Bermºdez and Calero, had working relationships with cocaine distributors within the U.S. Webb shows that these relationships started in the very earliest days of that contra war.
Were the cocaine sales of the Bland"n-Meneses ring "relatively small"? They were large, involving tons of cocaine. And, at the same time, compared to the larger flood of cocaine entering the United States, they may have been relatively small. However, as we have shown in this article, the key transportation routes for much of that larger flow of cocaine were also set up and protected by the CIA and its agents.
*****
In Part 1 of this series (RW #883) we documented CIA's secret network of cargo planes flying drugs into the U.S.
In Part 2, (RW #884) we explored who knew about this drug trafficking in the highest offices of the U.S. government.
This week, in Part 3, we examined the known activities of men closely "linked" to the CIA.
In the next article, Part 4, we will examine related questions: Did cocaine from CIA networks play a significant role in the creation of a crack epidemic? And did it play a significant role in financing the CIA's secret war?
This whole series will be available on RW Online at:
http://www.mcs.net/~rwor
Sources:[1] Cocaine Politics--Drugs, Armies and the CIA in Central America, Peter Dale Scott and Jonathan Marshall, University of California Press, 1991
[2] Washington's War on Nicaragua, Holly Sklar, South End Press, 1988
[3] The Central America Fact Book, Tom Barry and Deb Preusch, Grove Press 1986
[4] "Noriega: Our Man in Panama," Peter Dale Scott and Jonathan Marshall, Convergence, publication of the Christic Institute, Fall 1991
[5] Out of Control, Leslie Cockburn, Atlantic Monthly Press, 1987
[6] "The Contra-Cocaine Connection," Amy Lang Convergence, publication of the Christic Institute, Fall 1991
[7] "CIA and Drug Trafficking by Contra Supporters," Affidavit by Peter Dale Scott, Ph.D., September 30, 1996
[8] "Pivotal Figures of Newspaper Series May be Only Bit Players," New York Times, October 21, 1996
[9] "Tale of CIA and Drugs Has Life of Its Own," New York Times, October 21, 1996
RW ONLINE:The CIA Agents Who Moved the CokeThe CIA Agents Who Moved the CokeRevolutionary Worker #885, December 8, 1996
Everyone is talking about how the U.S. government ran cheap cocaine into the U.S. In the early 1980s, just as the so-called "crack explosion" hit the streets, cargo planes hired by U.S. government and protected by the CIA were flying tons of cocaine into major U.S. airports and military bases. From there it was distributed throughout the U.S.--in particular into the Black communities. Large amounts of money raised by this traffic went towards financing the secret CIA war by the contras against Nicaragua.
For ten years, government leaders have blamed ghetto youth for a "drug epidemic." They sent armies of cops to brutalize the people. They have crowded the prisons with a whole generation of youth. And now it leaks out that they were behind the "crack explosion" all along! Recent articles by Gary Webb in the San Jose Mercury kicked off the current controversy by exposing a contra drug ring in Los Angeles.
The CIA denies its agents were involved in the drug trade. And major newspapers claim that there is no proof that CIA agents were involved. Under attack, the chief editor of the San Jose Mercury has pointed out what the Webb series documented and what it did not: "We got to the door of the CIA. We did not get inside the CIA."
In this article, let's get past the door of the CIA--and look at the CIA agents involved in the drug trafficking. Three levels of CIA agents are discussed in this article: First, there are those who were top CIA officials--men like William Casey, Duane Clarridge, Donald Gregg and George Bush. Second, there are CIA officers or operatives--people who attended specialized CIA training schools and who must, by law, be U.S. citizens. Such officers are usually well hidden and act through their field agents. Third, there are CIA field agents, contract agents or assets--these are people paid to conduct espionage or covert activities under the direction of CIA case officers.
It is hard to dig up the truth about CIA operations. CIA agents routinely use elaborate cover stories that portray them as civilians, private mercenaries or "retired" agents. In addition, the 1982 Intelligence Identities Protection Act was passed as the CIA was starting its contra war. This law made it a crime to expose CIA agents. The government first threatens to imprison anyone who exposes what CIA agents are doing--then they accuse their critics of not offering enough "hard proof" of CIA involvement!
The following article is based on materials that have been published elsewhere--most of it testimony given at trials and congressional hearings. It is fragmentary but revealing. We hope it will help readers decide for themselves whether the CIA and its employees were involved in the drug trade.
*****WILLIAM CASEY,Director of Central Intelligence
DUANE CLARRIDGE,
Division Chief for Latin America,
CIA Directorate of Operations
In 1981, Ronald Reagan appointed William Casey to be the head of the CIA. Over the next years, the Agency greatly expanded its covert activities. One of them was a whole secret war. Former officers of the hated National Guard of Nicaragua's deposed dictator Somoza were hired by the CIA to attack Nicaragua. These were the so-called contras (short for counter-revolutionaries).
In 1982, Casey authorized "Black Eagle"--a secret operation to fund and supply the contras. Casey's plan was to develop a "private" network large enough to secretly arm, finance, and command a whole war--without openly involving official U.S. military forces or intelligence agencies. They called it "The Enterprise"--and it was riddled with "former" CIA officers and agents.
To fund the Enterprise, Casey and his representatives contacted governments closely tied to U.S. imperialism, including the Israelis, Argentinians, the Sultan of Brunei, the Saudi monarchy, and the various CIA-dominated militaries of Central America. In exchange for all kinds of favors, these governments contributed arms, money, and trainers to the Enterprise. This whole operation was exposed during the Iran-contra scandal. But what was covered up during the Iran-contra hearings was that the Enterprise also relied heavily on drug-smuggling operations. The CIA offered large-scale drug smugglers a simple deal: It would prevent U.S. drug and customs agencies from disrupting their cocaine traffic, if these traffickers would airlift and finance the flow of arms to the contras. It was "an offer you can't refuse" from the big godfathers in Washington--the CIA calls such deals "ticket punching."[1]
Clarridge and theHonduran Connection
Casey appointed the high-ranking CIA official Duane Clarridge to be the de facto commander-in-chief of the contra war. In August 1981 before the contra war even started, Clarridge flew down to Honduras, the country just north of Nicaragua, which had been selected as the base area for the CIA's contra war. Clarridge met with Honduran President Policarpo Paz Garc­a, military intelligence boss Col. Leonides Torres, and national police chief, Col. Gustavo Alvarez Mart­nez. These three men were already deeply involved in cocaine traffic. And they were connected to Honduras' main cocaine trafficker, Juan Ram"n Matta Ballesteros.[1] "We don't know the extent of the Honduran military's involvement in drugs," a State Department official would later say. "But our educated guess is that all of the senior officials have knowledge, many are involved...and they are all reaping the profits."[2]
Though Matta himself was in prison much of this time, the 1989 report of the Senate's Kerry subcommittee documents that Matta's airline SETCO became the main air carrier for contra supply, "carrying at least a million rounds of ammunition, food, uniforms and other military supplies" between 1983 and 1986. On the return route, the planes often carried cocaine.
In 1983, as SETCO supply runs started, Vice President George Bush put the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) operations under the control of the "national security" apparatus. In June 1983, the DEA office in Honduras was shut down, one month after the local DEA agent started investigating SETCO. Also in 1983, planes of Southern Air Transport (SAT--the CIA's newly "privatized" airline) were seen being loaded with cocaine in Barranquilla, Colombia (Washington Post, Jan. 20, 1987). SETCO and SAT were part of a larger air support network directed by "retired Air Force General" Richard Secord, a military logistics expert who is sometimes described as a CIA official.
1984--The Enterprise Goes Deeper Under CoverSections of the U.S. ruling class complained that the contras were "ineffective" and were making little progress in overthrowing Nicaragua's Sandinista government. Contra commanders were accused of accumulating wealth instead of fighting. In 1984, Congress passed a law forbidding the U.S. government from directly arming the contras. In response, the CIA moved the day-to-day command of the contra supply away from its Langley offices.
After 1984, the contra operation was overseen by Donald Gregg, a long-time CIA official who was reassigned to be top aide of Vice President George Bush. And within the Reagan White House, Lt. Col. Oliver North of the National Security Council staff (NSC) directed contra supply--under the guidance of William Casey himself. The CIA had kept the operation firmly in tested CIA hands. And at the top, George Bush was given overall command of three key government policy areas: "crisis management," "counterterrorism" and "narcotics policy."
The Enterprise continued to grow. By 1986, the CIA had at least 300 agents operating in Honduras.[3] In 1984, SETCO started receiving funds directly from the U.S. State Department. State Department testimony before congress said that the CIA approved giving funds to Matta's organization. In addition, it was reported that North gave SETCO other money from secret accounts.[1] According to Newsweek, by 1986, Matta's organization was supplying "perhaps one third of all the cocaine consumed in the United States."
When scandal erupted over Enterprise dealings with Iran, Oliver North said, "Casey told me to clean out the files. I shredded documents and altered others." (Time, July 27, 1987) Casey died of a brain tumor in the middle of the Iran-contra scandal.
MANUEL NORIEGAMilitary Dictator, Drug Smuggler, CIA Agent
"I never saw any intelligence suggesting General Noriega's involvement in the drug trade. In fact, we always held up Panama as the model in terms of cooperation with the United States in the war on drugs."
Admiral Daniel Murphy, top drug aide
of Vice President George Bush,
September 1988
"A Costa Rican legislative commission concluded in 1989 that Noriega helped install in that country at least seven pilots who ran guns to the contras and drugs to North America. `More serious still,' it added, `is the obvious infiltration of international gangs into Costa Rica that made use of the [contra] organization. These requests for Contra help were initiated by Colonel North to General Noriega. They opened a gate so their henchmen utilized the national territory for trafficking in arms and drugs.' "
Peter Dale Scott and Jonathan Marshall[4]
Panama's General Noriega was at the heart of operations funding and supplying contras in Costa Rica. Noriega was first recruited as an agent by the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency in 1959, while still a teenage military cadet studying in Peru. He went on the CIA's payroll in 1967. The following year, a U.S.-instigated military coup in Panama installed him as head of Panama's military intelligence and secret police.[1] Soon he seized overall power in Panama.
Later, in 1991 trial testimony, the CIA and U.S. Army admitted paying Noriega $322,336 since 1955. This is a very low estimate. Others report that then-CIA director George Bush started paying Noriega $100,000 a year in 1976.[4] During the '80s, Noriega deposited at least $33 million at the Panama City branch of the BCCI bank. Some of these funds were being laundered for the contras, others were Noriega's payoffs for the operations passing through his territory.
To earn his pay, Noriega carried out all kinds of dirty activities for his U.S. masters. He supplied pilots, bases and funds to the contra supply operations.[1] Noriega's close confidant Floyd Carlton Caceres negotiated personally with the top Colombian cocaine smugglers Pablo Escobar and Gustavo Gaviria for the use of Panamanian air bases. Noriega's fees for such services were $200,000 per trip. Floyd Carlton later testified in a U.S. courtroom that their operation flew U.S. guns to the contras in Nicaragua and brought cocaine into the United States on the return flight.[1]
The CIA protected these operations. When the DEA boss in Panama City suggested an investigation into the billions of dollars of drug money passing through Panama, the local CIA station chief insisted that such as investigation must be forbidden to touch Panamanian government officials.
In 1984, the Enterprise was reorganized, and Noriega's contra-drug operations shifted northward from Panama to Costa Rica, Honduras and El Salvador. Between October 1984 and June 1986, the gun-for-drugs operation run by Floyd Carlton alone moved at least four tons of cocaine through northern Costa Rica.[1]
In 1986, the CIA's Duane Clarridge and Oliver North met with Noriega to discuss how to stop the U.S. media from exposing Noriega's operations. North hired a new public relations firm for Noriega. From this evidence it is clear that the top CIA official Clarridge remained deeply involved in these operations.[1]
JOHN HULLRancher, Drug Smuggler, CIA Agent
"I'm not in the arms business. I'm not in the explosives business. I'm not in the drug business...This is a Communist disinformation campaign to try to smear the reputation of the CIA, to try to smear the reputation of our own government."
John Hull [5]
"According to eyewitness testimony, weapons destined for the contras were flown in small planes to the [Hull] ranch. The planes were then refueled and returned to the United States with cargoes of cocaine. On at least two occasions, according to the testimony, Hull was present while bags of cocaine were transferred to the planes. The report describes successful efforts by United States Embassy officials in Costa Rica to frustrate an investigation by the U.S. attorney in Miami into Hull's activities."
Kerry subcommittee report
The gun-for-drugs operations increasingly used the airstrip on the 1,500-acre Costa Rican ranch of an American named John Hull. Hull lived the life of a feudal Latin America patr"n. The CIA's station chief in Costa Rica openly said that Hull was an agent, working on "military supply and other operations on behalf of the Contras." Hull himself told the Washington Times (Jan. 17, 1989) that from 1982 to 1986 he served as the CIA's chief liaison with the Nicaraguan rebels in Costa Rica.[1]
In 1983, Hull traveled to Miami and Washington. In Washington, he was taken to meet Oliver North by Robert Owen. Owen was officially an aide of then-Senator Dan Quayle. However a report written by CIA officer Glenn Robinette described Owen as a "young CIA officer." After this meeting Hull started receiving a $10,000 monthly retainer from Oliver North. On the Miami leg of his trip, Hull met with drug smugglers George Morales and Frank Castro. Morales and his pilot Gary Betzner began flying drugs and guns for the contra supply operation--using Hull's ranch, Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport, and Ilopango Air Force Base in El Salvador. These operations expanded greatly after 1984.[1]
The Kerry subcommittee "found no fewer than five witnesses who testified to Hull's involvement in the narcotics traffic." One witness, Gary Wayne Betzner, testified that he piloted two plane-loads of contra weapons for Morales to John Hulls' ranch in Costa Rica. On both occasions, he said, about 500 kilograms of cocaine were transferred to his plane under Hull's supervision for the return flight to the United States.[6]
In May 1990, Colombian drug kingpin Carlos Lehder told ABC News that Hull was "pumping about 30 tons of cocaine into the United States" every year.[6] Oliver North received reports about the drug financing of the Costa Rican contras from his representative Robert Owen.
Here is a smoking gun in the CIA-cocaine controversy: Hull was a known CIA agent seen supervising the loading of cocaine, and he was protected from investigation by orders from the U.S. embassy.
OCTAVIANO CESARContra, CIA Agent and Recruiter for Drug Smuggling
George Morales testified to the Kerry subcommittee, that his drug-smuggling operation was recruited into the guns-for-drugs operations by Octaviano C(C)sar in 1983. C(C)sar, then a top aide of contra leader Eden Pastora, said he spoke for the CIA and would have the drug charges against Morales dropped. Journalist Leslie Cockburn says eight sources, including high-level Washington officials, have confirmed that C(C)sar was a CIA agent.[5] One of Morales' pilots, Fabio Carrasco, testified at a trial that he delivered millions of dollars of cocaine earnings to Octaviano C(C)sar and another contra leader. He also said that, with CIA approval, he personally supervised flights of cocaine from Costa Rica to Fort Lauderdale.
FELIX RODRIGUEZCIA Officer and HMIC
In 1984, as this contra supply operation was tightened up, Felix Rodr­guez appeared heading up the operation at El Salvador's Ilopango Air Force Base. Rodr­guez's career reads like a history lesson in CIA crimes. In 1961, Rodr­guez participated in the CIA's failed Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba. In 1967, he was the CIA agent on the scene in Bolivia when the guerrilla leader Ch(C) Guevara was captured. In his autobiography, Rodr­guez claims he personally gave the command to execute Che. Rodr­guez liked to show off Che's wristwatch as a memento of this crime.
In Vietnam Rodr­guez worked under CIA big-shot Donald Gregg during the murderous death-squad campaign known as "Operation Phoenix"--where CIA agents systematically executed thousands of Vietnamese civilians suspected of supporting revolutionary forces. Rodr­guez commanded an elite intelligence unit that threw captives out of helicopters.
Though Cuban-born, Rodr­guez became a naturalized U.S. citizen, allowing him to become a full CIA officer. Officially he "retired" from the CIA after 15 years--and in the early 1980s he worked with the Salvadoran military, organizing counterinsurgency against guerrillas.
In 1986, George Bush and Donald Gregg personally assigned Rodr­guez to the contra supply effort. Rodr­guez (using the name "Max G"mez") emerged as a commander of the contra supply effort at Ilopango Air Force Base. Officially, he had been "hired" by the Salvadoran Air Force. One military intelligence agent, Terry Reed, described Max G"mez as "HMIC"--the Head Motherfucker in Charge--who liked to brag that he had been personally chosen by the White House for the job. His work was supervised at the top by Oliver North and Donald Gregg.
And, under Rodr­guez, the drug trade flourished at Ilopango. Celerino Castillo, the DEA's agent in El Salvador, reported on the huge drug-for-arms smuggling operation run out of Ilopango by the CIA. Castillo wrote, "my reports contained not only the names of traffickers, but their destinations, flight paths, tail numbers, and the date and time of each flight. Hundreds of flights each week delivered cocaine to the buyers and returned money headed for the great isthmus laundering machine in Panama." Castillo said the operation was run out of one hangar owned by the CIA and another hangar run by the NSC.[7]
Milian Rodr­guez, a drug money launderer, told the Kerry subcommittee that Felix Rodr­guez had him launder millions of dollars from dozens of Miami companies tied to cocaine smugglers. For one company alone, he moved about $200,000 a month to the contras in cash by courier. Milian Rodr­guez said "Felix would call me with instructions on where to send the money." One of the people who got this money was Adolfo Calero, the civilian head of the contras and a known CIA agent. Felix Rodr­guez acknowledged that Milian Rodr­guez was an old friend, but denied asking him for drug money.[2]
Richard Brenneke, an Oregon-based arms dealer and former CIA agent, claims he tried to tell Donald Gregg that he was being asked to fly drugs into Texas. Brenneke says Gregg told him, "You do what you were assigned to do. Don't question the decision of your betters." Gregg denies ever speaking with Brenneke.
ENRIQUE BERMUDEZand ADOLFO CALERO
Contra Leaders, CIA Agents
In 1981, just as the contra war was starting, two Nicaraguan contras, Danielo Bland"n and Norwin Meneses, met with Col. Enrique Bermºdez in Honduras. Bermºdez was a top Nicaraguan CIA agent in charge of forming the Fuerza Democrtica Nicaraguense (FDN), the main contra force. Bland"n was a businessman from a family of wealthy Nicaraguan slumlords who had worked for Nicaragua's pro-U.S. Somoza dictatorship. Meneses was Nicaragua's biggest drug smuggler.
It is not known what was said at this meeting. However after Bland"n and Meneses had been brought together by Bermºdez, they set up a large cocaine distribution ring in California. Meneses organized the operation from San Francisco, while Bland"n was told to find buyers in the Black communities of Compton and South Central. According to Bland"n, his operation sold almost a ton of cocaine in its first year--$54 million worth at wholesale prices.
A 1984 photograph documents that, at the height of these drug operations, Meneses was meeting with Adolfo Calero, who was then the leader of the contras and who was himself a known CIA agent. These relationships were documented by Gary Webb in his recent and now-famous series in the San Jose Mercury.
Since Webb's series was published this summer, more evidence has surfaced. Adolfo Calero now admits that he met Meneses four times in California, and that he met with both Meneses and Bland"n once in Honduras. [8]
Webb's research reveals that the contra networks were involved in the distribution of cocaine. And it reveals that this contra-cocaine network deliberately chose to target Black communities with their drugs.
Webb's research has come under some intense attack. The New York Times, for example, wrote: "...while there are indications in American intelligence files and elsewhere that Mr. Meneses and Mr. Bland"n may indeed have provided modest support for the rebels, including perhaps some weapons, there is no evidence that either man was a rebel official or had anything to do with the CIA. Nor is there proof that the relatively small amounts of cocaine they sometimes claimed to have brokered on behalf of the insurgents had a remotely significant role in the explosion of crack that began around the same time."[9]
In an example of double-think, the New York Times writes: "Although Mr. Bermºdez, like other contra leaders, was often paid by the CIA, he was not a CIA agent." Usually, the New York Times (and everyone else) considers anyone receiving a CIA paycheck to be a CIA agent![8]
What the Webb series revealed is that CIA agents holding leading posts in the contra movement, Bermºdez and Calero, had working relationships with cocaine distributors within the U.S. Webb shows that these relationships started in the very earliest days of that contra war.
Were the cocaine sales of the Bland"n-Meneses ring "relatively small"? They were large, involving tons of cocaine. And, at the same time, compared to the larger flood of cocaine entering the United States, they may have been relatively small. However, as we have shown in this article, the key transportation routes for much of that larger flow of cocaine were also set up and protected by the CIA and its agents.
*****
In Part 1 of this series (RW #883) we documented CIA's secret network of cargo planes flying drugs into the U.S.
In Part 2, (RW #884) we explored who knew about this drug trafficking in the highest offices of the U.S. government.
This week, in Part 3, we examined the known activities of men closely "linked" to the CIA.
In the next article, Part 4, we will examine related questions: Did cocaine from CIA networks play a significant role in the creation of a crack epidemic? And did it play a significant role in financing the CIA's secret war?
This whole series will be available on RW Online at:
http://www.mcs.net/~rwor
Sources:[1] Cocaine Politics--Drugs, Armies and the CIA in Central America, Peter Dale Scott and Jonathan Marshall, University of California Press, 1991
[2] Washington's War on Nicaragua, Holly Sklar, South End Press, 1988
[3] The Central America Fact Book, Tom Barry and Deb Preusch, Grove Press 1986
[4] "Noriega: Our Man in Panama," Peter Dale Scott and Jonathan Marshall, Convergence, publication of the Christic Institute, Fall 1991
[5] Out of Control, Leslie Cockburn, Atlantic Monthly Press, 1987
[6] "The Contra-Cocaine Connection," Amy Lang Convergence, publication of the Christic Institute, Fall 1991
[7] "CIA and Drug Trafficking by Contra Supporters," Affidavit by Peter Dale Scott, Ph.D., September 30, 1996
[8] "Pivotal Figures of Newspaper Series May be Only Bit Players," New York Times, October 21, 1996
[9] "Tale of CIA and Drugs Has Life of Its Own," New York Times, October 21, 1996
Collusion | Definition of Collusion by Merriam-Webster
Sat, 25 Nov 2017 20:19
For example, let's assume that there are four major cable providers in the U.S. The four companies meet secretly and agree not to compete with one another for customers in certain geographic areas of the country. To accomplish this, they agree on which of the four providers will "get" each territory by offering the best price or service in that territory. The other three firms agree to not offer a lower price in that territory. In return, each of the three other firms get their own territory with the same agreement. By doing this, the four providers ensure that no other competitors will enter the markets, thereby preserving their profits and territories as a whole.
In the stockmarket, traders with inside information might collude on trades in order to benefit from the inside information.
The Power of Focus (How your brain's Reticular Activating System function...
Sat, 25 Nov 2017 19:37
Prefer audio? See Episode #71: "The Power of Focusing on What You Want", below. Rather read ? Scroll past the podcast player to continue reading.
Imagine if you could have anything you wanted...
Literally -- imagine it.
Because if you do, then you'll be putting your brain's Reticular Activating System into function -- and that can be the difference between achieving your dreams, or living a life of quiet desperation.
In his book, "Getting Things Done", David Allen talks about how this works:
"When you focus on something--the vacation you're going to take, the meeting you're about to go into, the project you want to launch--that focus instantly creates ideas and thought patterns you wouldn't have had otherwise. Even your physiology will respond to an image in your head as if it were reality."
Did you catch that last line?
Even your physiology will respond to an image in your head as if it were reality.
Let's talk a little more about that, shall we?
The Reticular Activating SystemBack in May 1957, Scientific American published an article describing the discovery of the "reticular formation" at the base of the brain ... this is basically the gateway to your conscious awareness. In other words: it acts as a "switch" of sorts, to turn on your perceptions of ideas and data, the things that keeps you asleep even when music is playing but wakes you up if a special little baby cries in another room.
As David Allen notes in "Getting Things Done":
"Just like a computer, your brain has a search function--but it's even more phenomenal than a computer's. It seems to be programmed by what we focus on and, more primarily, what we identify with. It's the seat of what many people have referred to as the paradigms we maintain.
[...]
"We notice only what matches our internal belief systems and identified contexts. If you're an optometrist, for example, you'll tend to notice people wearing eyeglasses across a crowded room; if you're building contractor, you may notice the room's physical details,"
[...]
"If you focus on the color red right now and then just glance around your environment, if there is any red at all, you'll see even the tiniest bits of it."
Reticular formation - Wikipedia
Sat, 25 Nov 2017 19:36
The reticular formation is a set of interconnected nuclei that are located throughout the brainstem. The reticular formation is not anatomically well defined because it includes neurons located in diverse parts of the brain. The neurons of the reticular formation make up a complex set of networks in the core of the brainstem that stretches from the upper part of the midbrain to the lower part of the medulla oblongata.[1] The reticular formation includes ascending pathways to the cortex in the ascending reticular activating system (ARAS) and descending pathways to the spinal cord via the reticulospinal tracts of the descending reticular formation.[2][3][4][5]
Neurons of the reticular formation, particularly those of the ascending reticular activating system, play a crucial role in maintaining behavioral arousal and consciousness. The functions of the reticular formation are modulatory and premotor. The modulatory functions are primarily found in the rostral sector of the reticular formation and the premotor functions are localized in the neurons in more caudal regions.
The reticular formation is divided into three columns: raphe nuclei (median), gigantocellular reticular nuclei (medial zone), and parvocellular reticular nuclei (lateral zone). The raphe nuclei are the place of synthesis of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which plays an important role in mood regulation. The gigantocellular nuclei are involved in motor coordination. The parvocellular nuclei regulate exhalation.[6]
The reticular formation is essential for governing some of the basic functions of higher organisms and is one of the phylogenetically oldest portions of the brain.
General structure [ edit] This section needs expansion with: content from these[2][3] references. You can help by adding to it.(September 2017)A cross section of the lower part of the pons showing the pontine reticular formation labeled as #9The human reticular formation is composed of almost 100 brain nuclei and contains many projections into the forebrain, brainstem, and cerebellum, among other regions.[2] It includes the reticular nuclei, reticulothalamic projection fibers, diffuse thalamo-cortical projections, ascending cholinergic projections, descending non-cholinergic projections, and descending reticulospinal projections.[3] The reticular formation also contains two major neural subsystems, the ascending reticular activating system and descending reticulospinal tracts, which mediate distinct cognitive and physiological proceses.[2][3] It has been functionally cleaved both sagittally and coronally.
Traditionally the reticular nuclei are divided into three columns:
In the median column '' the raphe nucleiIn the medial column '' gigantocellular nuclei (because of larger size of the cells)In the lateral column '' parvocellular nuclei (because of smaller size of the cells)The original functional differentiation was a division of caudal and rostral. This was based upon the observation that the lesioning of the rostral reticular formation induces a hypersomnia in the cat brain. In contrast, lesioning of the more caudal portion of the reticular formation produces insomnia in cats. This study has led to the idea that the caudal portion inhibits the rostral portion of the reticular formation.
Sagittal division reveals more morphological distinctions. The raphe nuclei form a ridge in the middle of the reticular formation, and, directly to its periphery, there is a division called the medial reticular formation. The medial RF is large and has long ascending and descending fibers, and is surrounded by the lateral reticular formation. The lateral RF is close to the motor nuclei of the cranial nerves, and mostly mediates their function.
Medial and lateral reticular formation [ edit] The medial reticular formation and lateral reticular formation are two columns of neuronal nuclei with ill-defined boundaries that send projections through the medulla and into the mesencephalon (midbrain). The nuclei can be differentiated by function, cell type, and projections of efferent or afferent nerves. Moving caudally from the rostral midbrain, at the site of the rostral pons and the midbrain, the medial RF becomes less prominent, and the lateral RF becomes more prominent.[7]
Existing on the sides of the medial reticular formation is its lateral cousin, which is particularly pronounced in the rostral medulla and caudal pons. Out from this area spring the cranial nerves, including the very important vagus nerve. The Lateral RF is known for its ganglions and areas of interneurons around the cranial nerves, which serve to mediate their characteristic reflexes and functions.
General functions [ edit] The reticular formation consists of more than 100 small neural networks, with varied functions including the following:
Somatic motor control '' Some motor neurons send their axons to the reticular formation nuclei, giving rise to the reticulospinal tracts of the spinal cord. These tracts function in maintaining tone, balance, and posture'--especially during body movements. The reticular formation also relays eye and ear signals to the cerebellum so that the cerebellum can integrate visual, auditory, and vestibular stimuli in motor coordination. Other motor nuclei include gaze centers, which enable the eyes to track and fixate objects, and central pattern generators, which produce rhythmic signals to the muscles of breathing and swallowing.Cardiovascular control '' The reticular formation includes the cardiac and vasomotor centers of the medulla oblongata.Pain modulation '' The reticular formation is one means by which pain signals from the lower body reach the cerebral cortex. It is also the origin of the descending analgesic pathways. The nerve fibers in these pathways act in the spinal cord to block the transmission of some pain signals to the brain.Sleep and consciousness '' The reticular formation has projections to the thalamus and cerebral cortex that allow it to exert some control over which sensory signals reach the cerebrum and come to our conscious attention. It plays a central role in states of consciousness like alertness and sleep. Injury to the reticular formation can result in irreversible coma.Habituation '' This is a process in which the brain learns to ignore repetitive, meaningless stimuli while remaining sensitive to others. A good example of this is a person who can sleep through loud traffic in a large city, but is awakened promptly due to the sound of an alarm or crying baby. Reticular formation nuclei that modulate activity of the cerebral cortex are part of the ascending reticular activating system.[8][9]Major subsystems [ edit] Ascending reticular activating system [ edit] Ascending reticular activating system. Reticular formation labeled near center.The ascending reticular activating system (ARAS), also known as the extrathalamic control modulatory system or simply the reticular activating system (RAS), is a set of connected nuclei in the brains of vertebrates that is responsible for regulating wakefulness and sleep-wake transitions. The ARAS is a part of the reticular formation and is mostly composed of various nuclei in the thalamus and a number of dopaminergic, noradrenergic, serotonergic, histaminergic, and cholinergic brain nuclei.[2][10]
Structure of the ARAS [ edit] The ARAS is composed of several neuronal circuits connecting the dorsal part of the posterior midbrain and anterior pons to the cerebral cortex via distinct pathways that project through the thalamus and hypothalamus.[11] The ARAS is a collection of different nuclei '' more than 20 on each side in the upper brainstem, the pons, medulla, and posterior hypothalamus. The nuclei have their own cytoarchitecture and neurochemical identity and act as neuromodulators. The neurotransmitters that these neurons release include acetylcholine, dopamine, norepinephrine, serotonin, and histamine, and glutamate.[12] They exert cortical influence through direct axonal projections and indirect projections through thalamic relays.[13] The thalamic pathway consists primarily of cholinergic neurons in the pontine tegmentum, whereas the hypothalamic pathway is composed primarily of neurons that release monoamine neurotransmitters, namely dopamine, norepinephrine, serotonin, and histamine.[2][10] The orexin neurons of the lateral hypothalamus innervate every component of the ascending reticular activating system and coordinate activity within the entire system.[14][15] The most significant components of the ARAS include:[2][10][16]
The ARAS consists of evolutionarily ancient areas of the brain, which are crucial to survival and protected during adverse periods. As a result, the ARAS still functions during inhibitory periods of hypnosis.[17]
The ascending reticular activating system which sends neuromodulatory projections to the cortex - mainly connects to the prefrontal cortex.[18] There is seen to be low connectivity to the motor areas of the cortex.[18]
Functions of the ARAS [ edit] Consciousness [ edit] The ascending reticular activating sytem is an important enabling factor for the state of consciousness.[19] The ascending system is seen to contribute to wakefulness as characterised by cortical and behavioural arousal.[5]
Regulating sleep-wake transitions [ edit] The main function of the ARAS is to modify and potentiate thalamic and cortical function such that electroencephalogram (EEG) desynchronization ensues.[20][21] There are distinct differences in the brain's electrical activity during periods of wakefulness and sleep: Low voltage fast burst brain waves (EEG desynchronization) are associated with wakefulness and REM sleep (which are electrophysiologically similar); high voltage slow waves are found during non-REM sleep. Generally speaking, when thalamic relay neurons are in burst mode the EEG is synchronized and when they are in tonic mode it is desynchronized.[21] Stimulation of the ARAS produces EEG desynchronization by suppressing slow cortical waves (0.3''1 Hz), delta waves (1''4 Hz), and spindle wave oscillations (11''14 Hz) and by promoting gamma band (20 '' 40 Hz) oscillations.[14]
The physiological change from a state of deep sleep to wakefulness is reversible and mediated by the ARAS.[22] Inhibitory influence from the brain is active at sleep onset, likely coming from the preoptic area (POA) of the hypothalamus. During sleep, neurons in the ARAS will have a much lower firing rate; conversely, they will have a higher activity level during the waking state.[23] Therefore, low frequency inputs (during sleep) from the ARAS to the POA neurons result in an excitatory influence and higher activity levels (awake) will have inhibitory influence. In order that the brain may sleep, there must be a reduction in ascending afferent activity reaching the cortex by suppression of the ARAS.[22]
Attention [ edit] The ARAS also helps mediate transitions from relaxed wakefulness to periods of high attention.[16] There is increased regional blood flow (presumably indicating an increased measure of neuronal activity) in the midbrain reticular formation (MRF) and thalamic intralaminar nuclei during tasks requiring increased alertness and attention.
Clinical significance of the ARAS [ edit] Mass lesions in brainstem ARAS nuclei can cause severe alterations in level of consciousness (e.g., coma).[24] Bilateral damage to the reticular formation of the midbrain may lead to coma or death.[25]
Direct electrical stimulation of the ARAS produces pain responses in cats and educes verbal reports of pain in humans.[citation needed ] Additionally, ascending reticular activation in cats can produce mydriasis,[citation needed ] which can result from prolonged pain. These results suggest some relationship between ARAS circuits and physiological pain pathways.[26]
Pathologies [ edit] Given the importance of the ARAS for modulating cortical changes, disorders of the ARAS should result in alterations of sleep-wake cycles and disturbances in arousal.[27] Some pathologies of the ARAS may be attributed to age, as there appears to be a general decline in reactivity of the ARAS with advancing years.[28] Changes in electrical coupling have been suggested to account for some changes in ARAS activity: If coupling were down-regulated, there would be a corresponding decrease in higher-frequency synchronization (gamma band). Conversely, up-regulated electrical coupling would increase synchronization of fast rhythms that could lead to increased arousal and REM sleep drive.[29] Specifically, disruption of the ARAS has been implicated in the following disorders:
Narcolepsy: Lesions along the PPT/LDT nuclei are associated with narcolepsy.[30] There is a significant down-regulation of PPN output and a loss of orexin peptides, promoting the excessive daytime sleepiness that is characteristic of this disorder.[14]Schizophrenia: Intractable schizophrenic patients have a significant increase (> 60%) in the number of PPN neurons[27] and dysfunction of NO signaling involved in modulating cholinergic output of the ARAS.[31]Post-traumatic stress disorder, Parkinson's disease, REM behavior disorder: Patients with these syndromes exhibit a significant (>50%) decrease in the number of locus coeruleus (LC) neurons, resulting is increased disinhibition of the PPN.[27]Progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP): Dysfunction of NO signaling has been implicated in the development of PSP.[31]Depression, autism, Alzheimer's disease, attention deficit disorder: The exact role of the ARAS in each of these disorders has not yet been identified. However, it is expected that in any neurological or psychiatric disease that manifests disturbances in arousal and sleep-wake cycle regulation, there will be a corresponding dysregulation of some elements of the ARAS.[27]Parkinson's disease: REM sleep disturbances are common in Parkinson's. It is mainly a dopaminergic disease, but cholinergic nuclei are depleted as well. Degeneration in the ARAS begins early in the disease process.[30]Developmental influences [ edit] There are several potential factors that may adversely influence the development of the ascending reticular activating system:
Preterm birth:[32] Regardless of birth weight or weeks of gestation, premature birth induces persistent deleterious effects on pre-attentional (arousal and sleep-wake abnormalities), attentional (reaction time and sensory gating), and cortical mechanisms throughout development.Smoking during pregnancy:[33]Prenatal exposure to cigarette smoke is known to produce lasting arousal, attentional and cognitive deficits in humans. This exposure can induce up-regulation of nicotinic receptors on α4b2 subunit on Pedunculopontine nucleus (PPN) cells, resulting in increased tonic activity, resting membrane potential, and hyperpolarization-activated cation current. These major disturbances of the intrinsic membrane properties of PPN neurons result in increased levels of arousal and sensory gating deficits (demonstrated by a diminished amount of habituation to repeated auditory stimuli). It is hypothesized that these physiological changes may intensify attentional dysregulation later in life.Descending reticulospinal tracts [ edit] Spinal cord tracts - reticulospinal tract labeled in red, near-center at left in figure.The reticulospinal tracts, also known as the descending or anterior reticulospinal tracts, are extrapyramidal motor tracts that descend from the reticular formation[34] in two tracts to act on the motor neurons supplying the trunk and proximal limb flexors and extensors. The reticulospinal tracts are involved mainly in locomotion and postural control, although they do have other functions as well.[35] The descending reticulospinal tracts are one of four major cortical pathways to the spinal cord for musculoskeletal activity. The reticulospinal tracts works with the other three pathways to give a coordinated control of movement, including delicate manipulations.[36] The four pathways can be grouped into two main system pathways '' a medial system and a lateral system. The medial system includes the reticulospinal pathway and the vestibulospinal pathway, and this system provides control of posture. The corticospinal and the rubrospinal tract pathways belong to the lateral system which provides fine control of movement.[37]
Components of the reticulospinal tracts [ edit] The tract is divided into two parts, the medial (or pontine) and lateral (or medullary) reticulospinal tracts (MRST and LRST).
The MRST is responsible for exciting anti-gravity, extensor muscles. The fibers of this tract arise from the caudal pontine reticular nucleus and the oral pontine reticular nucleus and project to the lamina VII and lamina VIII of the spinal cord (BrainInfo)The LRST is responsible for inhibiting excitatory axial extensor muscles of movement. The fibers of this tract arise from the medullary reticular formation, mostly from the gigantocellular nucleus, and descend the length of the spinal cord in the anterior part of the lateral column. The tract terminates in lamina VII mostly with some fibers terminating in lamina IX of the spinal cord.The ascending sensory tract conveying information in the opposite direction is known as the spinoreticular tract.
Functions of the reticulospinal tracts [ edit] Integrates information from the motor systems to coordinate automatic movements of locomotion and postureFacilitates and inhibits voluntary movement; influences muscle toneMediates autonomic functionsModulates pain impulsesInfluences blood flow to lateral geniculate nucleus of the thalamus.Clinical significance of the reticulospinal tracts [ edit] The reticulospinal tracts are mostly inhibited by the corticospinal tract; if damage occurs at the level of or below the red nucleus (e.g. to the superior colliculus), it is called decerebration, and causes decerebrate rigidity: an unopposed extension of the head and limbs.[citation needed ] The reticulospinal tracts also provide a pathway by which the hypothalamus can control sympathetic thoracolumbar outflow and parasympathetic sacral outflow.[citation needed ]
History [ edit] The term "reticular formation" was coined in the late 19th century by Otto Deiters, coinciding with Ramon y Cajal's neuron doctrine. Allan Hobson states in his book The Reticular Formation Revisited that the name is an etymological vestige from the fallen era of the aggregate field theory in the neural sciences. The term "reticulum" means "netlike structure," which is what the reticular formation resembles at first glance. It has been described as being either too complex to study or an undifferentiated part of the brain with no organization at all. Eric Kandel describes the reticular formation as being organized in a similar manner to the intermediate gray matter of the spinal cord. This chaotic, loose, and intricate form of organization is what has turned off many researchers from looking farther into this particular area of the brain.[citation needed ] The cells lack clear ganglionic boundaries, but do have clear functional organizations and distinct cell types. The term "reticular formation" is seldom used anymore except to speak in generalities. Modern scientists usually refer to the individual nuclei that comprise the reticular formation.[citation needed ]
Moruzzi and Magoun first investigated the neural components regulating the brain's sleep-wake mechanisms in 1949. Physiologists had proposed that some structure deep within the brain controlled mental wakefulness and alertness.[20] It had been thought that wakefulness depended only on the direct reception of afferent (sensory) stimuli at the cerebral cortex.
The direct electrical stimulation of the brain could simulate electrocortical relays. Magoun used this principle to demonstrate, on two separate areas of the brainstem of a cat, how to produce wakefulness from sleep. First the ascending somatic and auditory paths; second, a series of ''ascending relays from the reticular formation of the lower brain stem through the midbrain tegmentum, subthalamus and hypothalamus to the internal capsule.''[38] The latter was of particular interest, as this series of relays did not correspond to any known anatomical pathways for the wakefulness signal transduction and was coined the ascending reticular activating system (ARAS).
Next, the significance of this newly identified relay system was evaluated by placing lesions in the medial and lateral portions of the front of the midbrain. Cats with mesancephalic interruptions to the ARAS entered into a deep sleep and displayed corresponding brain waves. In alternative fashion, cats with similarly placed interruptions to ascending auditory and somatic pathways exhibited normal sleeping and wakefulness, and could be awakened with somatic stimuli. Because these external stimuli would be blocked by the interruptions, this indicated that the ascending transmission must travel through the newly discovered ARAS.
Finally, Magoun recorded potentials within the medial portion of the brain stem and discovered that auditory stimuli directly fired portions of the reticular activating system. Furthermore, single-shock stimulation of the sciatic nerve also activated the medial reticular formation, hypothalamus, and thalamus. Excitation of the ARAS did not depend on further signal propagation through the cerebellar circuits, as the same results were obtained following decerebellation and decortication. The researchers proposed that a column of cells surrounding the midbrain reticular formation received input from all the ascending tracts of the brain stem and relayed these afferents to the cortex and therefore regulated wakefulness.[38][22]
See also [ edit] References [ edit] ^ Purves, Dale (2011). Neuroscience (5. ed.). Sunderland, Mass.: Sinauer. pp. 390''395. ISBN 978-0-87893-695-3. ^ abcdefg IwaÅczuk W, Guźniczak P (2015). "Neurophysiological foundations of sleep, arousal, awareness and consciousness phenomena. Part 1". Anaesthesiol Intensive Ther. 47 (2): 162''167. doi:10.5603/AIT.2015.0015. PMID 25940332. The ascending reticular activating system (ARAS) is responsible for a sustained wakefulness state. It receives information from sensory receptors of various modalities, transmitted through spinoreticular pathways and cranial nerves (trigeminal nerve '-- polymodal pathways, olfactory nerve, optic nerve and vestibulocochlear nerve '-- monomodal pathways). These pathways reach the thalamus directly or indirectly via the medial column of reticular formation nuclei (magnocellular nuclei and reticular nuclei of pontine tegmentum). The reticular activating system begins in the dorsal part of the posterior midbrain and anterior pons, continues into the diencephalon, and then divides into two parts reaching the thalamus and hypothalamus, which then project into the cerebral cortex (Fig. 1). The thalamic projection is dominated by cholinergic neurons originating from the pedunculopontine tegmental nucleus of pons and midbrain (PPT) and laterodorsal tegmental nucleus of pons and midbrain (LDT) nuclei [17, 18]. The hypothalamic projection involves noradrenergic neurons of the locus coeruleus (LC) and serotoninergic neurons of the dorsal and median raphe nuclei (DR), which pass through the lateral hypothalamus and reach axons of the histaminergic tubero-mamillary nucleus (TMN), together forming a pathway extending into the forebrain, cortex and hippocampus. Cortical arousal also takes advantage of dopaminergic neurons of the substantia nigra (SN), ventral tegmenti area (VTA) and the periaqueductal grey area (PAG). Fewer cholinergic neurons of the pons and midbrain send projections to the forebrain along the ventral pathway, bypassing the thalamus [19, 20]. ^ abcd Augustine JR (2016). "Chapter 9: The Reticular Formation". Human Neuroanatomy (2nd ed.). John Wiley & Sons. pp. 141''153. ISBN 9781119073994. Retrieved 4 September 2017 . ^ "the definition of reticular activating system". Dictionary.com. ^ ab Jones, BE (2008). "Modulation of cortical activation and behavioral arousal by cholinergic and orexinergic systems". Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. 1129: 26''34. Bibcode:2008NYASA1129...26J. doi:10.1196/annals.1417.026. PMID 18591466. ^ "The Brain From Top To Bottom". Thebrain.mcgill.ca. Retrieved 2016-04-28 . ^ "The Benefits of Midbrain Activation". 2014-09-15. Retrieved 2017-07-05 . ^ "Anatomy of the Brain - Reticular Formation". Biology.about.com. 2015-07-07. Retrieved 2016-04-28 . ^ Saladin, Kenneth S. Anatomy & Physiology the Unity of Form and Function. Dubuque: McGraw-Hill, 2009. Print. ^ abc Malenka RC, Nestler EJ, Hyman SE (2009). "Chapter 12: Sleep and Arousal". In Sydor A, Brown RY. Molecular Neuropharmacology: A Foundation for Clinical Neuroscience (2nd ed.). New York, USA: McGraw-Hill Medical. p. 295. ISBN 9780071481274. The RAS is a complex structure consisting of several different circuits including the four monoaminergic pathways ... The norepinephrine pathway originates from the locus ceruleus (LC) and related brainstem nuclei; the serotonergic neurons originate from the raphe nuclei within the brainstem as well; the dopaminergic neurons originate in ventral tegmental area (VTA); and the histaminergic pathway originates from neurons in the tuberomammillary nucleus (TMN) of the posterior hypothalamus. As discussed in Chapter 6, these neurons project widely throughout the brain from restricted collections of cell bodies. Norepinephrine, serotonin, dopamine, and histamine have complex modulatory functions and, in general, promote wakefulness. The PT in the brain stem is also an important component of the ARAS. Activity of PT cholinergic neurons (REM-on cells) promotes REM sleep. During waking, REM-on cells are inhibited by a subset of ARAS norepinephrine and serotonin neurons called REM-off cells. ^ Steriade, M (1995). "NEUROMODULATORY SYSTEMS OF THALAMUS AND NEOCORTEX". Seminars in the Neurosciences. 7 (5): 361''370. doi:10.1006/smns.1995.0039. ^ Boutrel B, Koob GF (September 2004). "What keeps us awake: the neuropharmacology of stimulants and wakefulness-promoting medications". Sleep. 27 (6): 1181''1194. PMID 15532213. The waking executive network is composed of two pathways, both originating from the midbrain reticular formation and mainly composed of glutamatergic neurons, the electrophysiologic activity of which depends on cholinergic and monoaminergic tone. ^ Squire L (2013). Fundamental neuroscience (4th ed.). Amsterdam: Elsevier/Academic Press. p. 1095. ISBN 978-0-12-385-870-2. ^ abc Burlet, S., Tyler, C. J., & Leonard, C. S. (2002). "Direct and indirect excitation of laterodorsal tegmental neurons by hypocretin/orexin peptides: Implications for wakefulness and narcolepsy". Journal of Neuroscience. 22 (7): 2862''2872. PMID 11923451. ^ Malenka RC, Nestler EJ, Hyman SE (2009). "Chapter 12: Sleep and Arousal". In Sydor A, Brown RY. Molecular Neuropharmacology: A Foundation for Clinical Neuroscience (2nd ed.). New York, USA: McGraw-Hill Medical. p. 295. ISBN 9780071481274. Orexin neurons are located in the lateral hypothalamus. They are organized in a widely projecting manner, much like the monoamines (Chapter 6), and innervate all of the components of the ARAS. They excite the REM-off monoaminergic neurons during wakefulness and the PT cholinergic neurons during REM sleep. They are inhibited by the VLPO neurons during NREM sleep. ^ ab Kinomura, S., Larsson, J., Gulyas, B., & Roland, P. E. (1996). "Activation by attention of the human reticular formation and thalamic intralaminar nuclei". Science. 271 (5248): 512''515. Bibcode:1996Sci...271..512K. doi:10.1126/science.271.5248.512. PMID 8560267. ^ Svorad, D. (1957). "RETICULAR ACTIVATING SYSTEM OF BRAIN STEM AND ANIMAL HYPNOSIS". Science. 125 (3239): 156''156. Bibcode:1957Sci...125..156S. doi:10.1126/science.125.3239.156. PMID 13390978. ^ ab Jang, SH; Kwon, HG (8 October 2015). "The direct pathway from the brainstem reticular formation to the cerebral cortex in the ascending reticular activating system: A diffusion tensor imaging study". Neuroscience Letters. 606: 200''3. doi:10.1016/j.neulet.2015.09.004. PMID 26363340. ^ Squire, Larry Squire (2013). Fundamental neuroscience (4th ed.). Amsterdam: Elsevier/Academic Press. p. 1095. ISBN 978-0-12-385-870-2. ^ ab Steriade, M. (1996). "Arousal: Revisiting the reticular activating system". Science. 272 (5259): 225''226. Bibcode:1996Sci...272..225S. doi:10.1126/science.272.5259.225. PMID 8602506. ^ ab Reiner, P. B. (1995). "Are mesopontine cholinergic neurons either necessary or sufficient components of the ascending reticular activating system?". Seminars in the Neurosciences. 7 (5): 355''359. doi:10.1006/smns.1995.0038. ^ abc Evans, B.M. (2003). "Sleep, consciousness and the spontaneous and evoked electrical activity of the brain. Is there a cortical integrating mechanism?". Neurophysiologie clinique. 33 (1): 1''10. doi:10.1016/s0987-7053(03)00002-9. PMID 12711127. ^ Kumar, V. M., Mallick, B. N., Chhina, G. S., & Singh, B. (1984). "INFLUENCE OF ASCENDING RETICULAR ACTIVATING SYSTEM ON PREOPTIC NEURONAL-ACTIVITY". Experimental Neurology. 86 (1): 40''52. doi:10.1016/0014-4886(84)90065-7. PMID 6479280. ^ Tindall SC (1990). "Chapter 57: Level of Consciousness". In Walker HK, Hall WD, Hurst JW. Clinical Methods: The History, Physical, and Laboratory Examinations. Butterworth Publishers. Retrieved 2008-07-04 . ^ The Human Brain: An Introduction to its Functional Anatomy 5th ed by J Nolte chpt 11 pp. 262''290 ^ Ruth, R. E., & Rosenfeld, J. P. (1977). "TONIC RETICULAR ACTIVATING SYSTEM - RELATIONSHIP TO AVERSIVE BRAIN-STIMULATION EFFECTS". Experimental Neurology. 57 (1): 41''56. doi:10.1016/0014-4886(77)90043-7. PMID 196879. ^ abcd GarciaRill, E. (1997). "Disorders of the reticular activating system". Medical Hypotheses. 49 (5): 379''387. doi:10.1016/S0306-9877(97)90083-9. PMID 9421802. ^ Robinson, D. (1999). "The technical, neurological and psychological significance of `alpha', `delta' and `theta' waves confounded in EEG evoked potentials: a study of peak latencies". Clinical Neurophysiology. 110 (8): 1427''1434. doi:10.1016/S1388-2457(99)00078-4. PMID 10454278. ^ Garcia-Rill E, Heister DS, Ye M, Charlesworth A, Hayar A (2007). "Electrical coupling: novel mechanism for sleep-wake control". Sleep. 30 (11): 1405''1414. PMC 2082101'¯ . PMID 18041475. ^ ab Schwartz JR, Roth T (December 2008). "Neurophysiology of sleep and wakefulness: basic science and clinical implications". Curr Neuropharmacol. 6 (4): 367''78. doi:10.2174/157015908787386050. PMC 2701283'¯ . PMID 19587857. ^ ab Vincent, S. R. (2000). "The ascending reticular activating system - from aminergic neurons to nitric oxide". Journal of Chemical Neuroanatomy. 18 (1''2): 23''30. doi:10.1016/S0891-0618(99)00048-4. PMID 10708916. ^ Hall, R. W., Huitt, T. W., Thapa, R., Williams, D., K., Anand, K.J.S., Garcia-Rill, E. (2008). "Long-term deficits of preterm birth: Evidence for arousal and attentional disturbances". Clinical Neurophysiology. 119 (6): 1281''1291. doi:10.1016/j.clinph.2007.12.021. PMC 2670248'¯ . PMID 18372212. ^ Garcia-Rill, E., Buchanan, R., McKeon, K., Skinner, R.R., Wallace, T. (2007). "Smoking during pregnancy: Postnatal effects on arousal and attentional brain systems". NeuroToxicology. 28 (5): 915''923. doi:10.1016/j.neuro.2007.01.007. PMC 3320145'¯ . PMID 17368773. ^ Squire L (2013). Fundamental neuroscience (4th ed.). Amsterdam: Elsevier/Academic Press. pp. 631''632. ISBN 978-0-12-385-870-2. ^ FITGERALD, M J Turlough (2012). Clinical Neuroanatomy and Neuroscience. Philadelphia: Saunders Elsevier. p. 192. ISBN 978-0-7020-3738-2. ^ Squire, Larry Squire (2013). Fundamental neuroscience (4th ed.). Amsterdam: Elsevier/Academic Press. p. 631. ISBN 978-0-12-385-870-2. ^ Squire, Larry (2013). Fundamental neuroscience (4th ed.). Amsterdam: Elsevier/Academic Press. p. 631. ISBN 978-0-12-385-870-2. ^ ab Magoun, H. W. (1952). "AN ASCENDING RETICULAR ACTIVATING SYSTEM IN THE BRAIN STEM". Ama Archives of Neurology and Psychiatry. 67 (2): 145''154. doi:10.1001/archneurpsyc.1952.02320140013002. PMID 14893989. External links [ edit]
ECall - European Commission
Sat, 25 Nov 2017 19:20
What is eCall?eCall is a system that provides an automated message to the emergency services following a road crash which includes the precise crash location. The in-vehicle eCall is an emergency call (an E112 wireless call) generated either manually by the vehicle occupants by pushing a button or automatically via activation of in-vehicle sensors after a crash. When activated, the in-vehicle eCall device will establish an emergency call carrying both voice and data directly to the nearest emergency services (normally the nearest 112 Public Safety Answering Point, PSAP). The voice call enables vehicle occupants to communicate with the trained eCall operator. At the same time, a minimum set of data will be sent to the eCall operator receiving the voice call. The minimum set of data contains information about the incident including time, precise location, vehicle identification, eCall status (as a minimum, indication if eCall has been manually or automatically triggered) and information about a possible service provider (CEC, 2005).
What road safety problem does eCall systems address?These systems aim to reduce the time between when the crash occurs and when medical services are provided. The aim is to reduce the consequences of injury to prevent death and disability. A Swedish study into survivability in fatal road traffic crashes concluded that 48% of those who died sustained non-survivable injuries. Out of the group who sustained survivable injuries, 5% were not located in time to prevent death, 12% could have survived had they been transported more quickly to hospital and a further 32% could have survived if they had been transported quickly to an advanced trauma centre [27]. Additionally many emergency service providers may receive several calls for each incident, for which they may have to respond several times and it is anticipated eCall may enable them to manage responses more effectively.
How effective?A prospective Finnish study has estimated that such a system might reduce between 4-8% of road deaths and 5-10% of motor vehicle occupant deaths in Finland [54]. The study assumed that all vehicles were equipped with the eCall terminal and that each terminal would function properly. The study was unable to evaluate the impact of the precise location information given by eCall on the swifter arrival of rescue units at the accident site in the evaluation of decrease in road traffic deaths. The overall impact of the system which involves additional players has not been evaluated.
The Finnish study noted that through "the comparison of the 4-8% decrease in traffic accident fatalities arrived at in this study with the figures of other European studies one can see that the results are similar to the German (5%) and Dutch (7%) estimations. The estimations in Sweden (2-4%) and Great Britain (2%) are smaller and the estimate for the whole 25 member state EU area (5-15%) greater than the estimate in this study. The American estimation for the decrease in traffic accident fatalities based on field studies was smaller (2-3%) than in this study. The estimate made by the doctors was, however, greater (9-11%)".
The European Commission believes that a pan-European eCall is estimated to have the potential to save up to 2500 fatalities annually in EU-25 when fully deployed (COM(2005) 431 of 14.9.2005: Bringing eCall to Citizens [6]. The eMERGE project study estimated that eCall will allow for a reduction of crash response time of about 50% in rural areas and up to 40% in urban areas. When medical care for the severely injured is available earlier after the accident, the death rate and severity of trauma can be significantly reduced.
Benefits to cost?The benefits to cost ratio (BCR) of eCall in Finland have been found to be in the range of 0.5 (minimum estimate) to 2:3 (maximum estimate). A UK benefit to cost analysis concluded that universal fitment of eCall would result in more costs than benefits [36].
Next steps for implementation?Various manufacturers supply eCall systems on demand e.g. Volvo and BMW. Various eCall systems have been tested in the EU-supported eMERGE project in Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and the UK. The implementation of a pan-European emergency eCall system for road vehicles requires standardisation activities related to: (1) the communication protocol by which the minimum set of data (MSD) will be sent via the mobile telecommunication network (e.g. GSM) to the public service answering point (PSAP) (expected to be ready by mid 2008), and (2) the content and format of the MSD. A new WG15 eSafety has been formed within CEN to cover these and other eSafety initiatives emanating by the Commission or CEN members countries.
eCall implementation is a high priority of the European Commission - See eSafety Support. According to a recent Eurobarometer study over 70% of the respondents say that they would like to have eCall in their next car. eCall deployment is supported by the industry, European Parliament, user organisations and by some Member States.
A Driving Group on eCall is one of the Working Groups established by the European Commission under the eSafety Forum. The eCall Driving Group released a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in August 2004 that called for stakeholders to actively investigate feasible and sustainable eCall solutions and potential business cases. The MoU's key message is that eCall should work in any EU Member State and that eCall should be based on the single pan-European emergency call number 112. The MoU lists the necessary arrangements for implementation of the eCall action plan and sets out the measures to be taken by the European Commission, Member States, automotive industry, telecoms and insurance industries. A road map for eCall deployment has been established and agreed by the eSafety Forum. eSafety partners (European Commission, industry, public authorities and other stakeholders) have agreed to introduce eCall as standard equipment in all vehicles entering the market after September 2010 (i.e. models of the year 2011). The road maps call for:
All key stakeholders to sign the MoU to ensure progress by end of 2006Full specification of the eCall system and start of development by mid-2007Full-scale field tests should be performed from the beginning of 2008Member States should be ready with the upgrade of the PSAPs by September 2009Introduction of eCall as standard option in all vehicles type-approved from 1st September 2010 onwardHowever, the progress planned has not yet been realized.
Several Commission Communications have led to the development of this road map:
Information and Communications Technologies for Safe and Intelligent Vehicles" COM (2003)542 Final, 15.9.2003 focussed on 3 priorities: eCall (Pan-European eCall); RTTI (Real-Time Traffic & Travel Information) and HMI (Human-Machine Interaction).
Bringing eCall to Citizens COM (2005)431 Final 14.9.2005 The Commission invites Member States to promote the EU-wide emergency number 112 and the handling of location information for mobile calls, E112, as pre-requisite for eCall. The aim is to equip all new vehicles with eCall terminals from 2010.
Bringing eCall back on track - Action Plan COM (2006) 723 final Two parallel lines of actions are proposed: Commitment of the Member States by mid-2007, and a negotiated agreement with the industry by the end of 2007. In addition the Commission will carry out a set of actions to facilitate the eCall deployment. The Communication notes that due to delays in various Member States, an additional year's implementation time to the dates cited in the road map would be needed. Actions for the Member States were outlined.
As at September 2007, 12 Member States (Austria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Greece, Italy, Lithuania, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden), Switzerland and Norway have already signed the MoU. Finland has been active in the EU in promoting the eCall system. A consortium commissioned by the Ministry of Transport and Communications produced a national eCall pilot programme and implementation plan in June 2004. Finland was the first state to sign the eCall Memorandum of Understanding and realised the eCall terminal transmission test bench taken into production use in the summer of 2005. The on-going renewal of Finnish emergency centres and their data systems are ensuring the swift and widespread implementation of the eCall system [54].
Netflix's Disturbing Sexual-Assault Hypocrisy
Sat, 25 Nov 2017 18:43
Four years ago, Netflix broke into the highly competitive world of content creation. House of Cards, which premiered in February 2013, was the very first in what would become a long line of Netflix originals. In September 2016, The Hollywood Reporter's research showed that Netflix's original content was up 3,050 percent in just four years, explaining, ''There was just a quartet of shows in 2012, and now Netflix has more than any one network or cable channel in existence.''
Now, five seasons later, House of Cards has met a unique fate befitting its singular creation. The series that ushered in Netflix's golden age of content glut is ending because of a deluge of sexual-assault and harassment allegations against its star, Kevin Spacey.
Netflix's decision to call House of Cards after its upcoming sixth season was seen as a relatively swift response to the disturbing allegations'--the cancellation was announced less than 24 hours after actor Anthony Rapp came forward. ''Media Rights Capital and Netflix are deeply troubled by last night's news concerning Kevin Spacey,'' the companies said in a joint statement. ''In response to last night's revelations, executives from both of our companies arrived in Baltimore this afternoon to meet with our cast and crew to ensure that they continue to feel safe and supported. As previously scheduled, Kevin Spacey is not working on set at this time.'' A day later, another joint statement was issued from Netflix and MRC, declaring, ''MRC and Netflix have decided to suspend production on House of Cards season six, until further notice, to give us time to review the current situation and to address any concerns of our cast and crew.''
Less than a week after that first allegation, a Netflix spokesperson announced that, ''Netflix will not be involved with any further production of House of Cards that includes Kevin Spacey'...We will continue to work with MRC during this hiatus time to evaluate our path forward as it relates to the show.'' Netflix also decided not to release Gore, an upcoming film that starred Spacey as writer Gore Vidal.
''Netflix's refusal to suspend or halt production on 'The Ranch' is perhaps the most glaring example of a double standard.''
But while Netflix appeared to follow the ''oops we've been employing a predator'' playbook to the letter, promptly addressing the allegations and ostensibly severing their relationship with Spacey, reports of the ''toxic'' work environment that Spacey was allowed to foster raised serious questions about how an alleged serial abuser was allowed to flourish for so many years. CNN spoke with eight former and current House of Cards employees and painted a damning picture. One former production assistant claimed that Spacey sexually-assaulted him. He explained that the alleged assault occurred just months after he had reported Spacey's sexual harassment to a supervisor. According to the production assistant, ''The supervisor's solution was to never let the production assistant be alone with Spacey while they were on set.''
CNN also quoted a former camera assistant who claimed that ''everybody saw'' Spacey touching young men inappropriately. ''All the crew members commented on his behavior,'' the former camera assistant said. ''What gets me is we have to sign sexual harassment paperwork before the start of the show and apparently [Kevin Spacey] doesn't have to do anything and he gets away scott-free with this behavior.''
In response to these allegations of on-set harassment and assault, Netflix claimed that, ''Netflix was just made aware of one incident, five years ago, that we were informed was resolved swiftly'... Netflix is not aware of any other incidents involving Kevin Spacey on-set. We continue to collaborate with MRC and other production partners to maintain a safe and respectful working environment.''
When House of Cards creator Beau Willimon insisted that, ''I neither witnessed nor was aware of any inappropriate behavior on set or off,'' several crew members pushed back. ''They all knew what was going on,'' a source told BuzzFeed. ''The PA who got assaulted? Everyone knew. That's what upset me so much is seeing Beau and all these other people deny it.''
''I saw that Beau said he had no idea, which I know is completely false,'' said a different crewmember. ''They had production meetings about Spacey's flirtatious behavior toward crew and cast, and it never made it any further than that. It was like a joke.''
In many ways, Netflix is a progressive medium. Driven by subscriber growth as opposed to advertising, the subscription streaming service ostensibly has more leeway. And with this freedom has come radically representative content like Orange Is the New Black and Master of None'--shows that reflect back a world that is not as straight or as white as standard network fare supposes.
Unfortunately, Netflix's hypocrisy in light of recent allegations reveals a company that is only superficially committed to setting a progressive precedent. Just take Netflix's masterful tweet in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations against Louis C.K. Joining a slew of collaborators ending their working relationships with the comic, the company offered this terse update: ''Based on Louis CK's behavior, we are not making his second stand up special.'' It was straightforward and to the point, suggesting that, in the case of an egregious abuse of power, the only conceivable answer is to cut all ties.
But this show of decisiveness'--not to mention moral fiber'--struck a false chord. Reporter Yashar Ali, who has reported extensively on the sexual-assault allegations against actor Danny Masterson, responded to the tweet, '''ª@dannymasterson has been accused of violently raping four women. The LA District Attorney has been actively investigating for months. The evidence against Masterson, some of which I have reviewed, is overwhelming. Netflix won't even put his show on hold pending an outcome.'' In another tweet, Ali emphasized how difficult it was to get Netflix to acknowledge the allegations against Masterson, who currently stars in and produces the Netflix original The Ranch, claiming that he emailed the company 15 times before he received a response.
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Chrissie Carnell Bixler, one of four women who's accused Masterson of sexual-assault, told The Daily Beast that, ''I was sick when I read Netflix's statement on continuing with The Ranch and continuing their working relationship with a man who has violently raped and abused so many women.'' She concluded, ''Victims are taking back the power that was stolen from us, and things are going to change. Netflix should write that down.''
So far, neither Bixler's testimony nor the circulation of an online petition has convinced Netflix to revisit its stance and pause production on The Ranch. Their current statement stands: ''We are aware of the allegations and the subsequent investigation, and will respond if developments occur.'' (Masterson has denied the allegations.)
By boldly and assertively severing ties with certain abusers'--the highest-profile abusers'--Netflix is banking on the fact that their decisive actions will be seen as an enlightened ethos, an assertion of survivor-first values. In actuality, these statements achieve the opposite effect, underlining the fact that not all victims will be treated equally, and that only one or two accused men will ultimately be held accountable. Netflix's refusal to suspend or halt production on The Ranch is perhaps the most glaring example of a double standard. While no two situations are the same and every allegation deserves to be assessed and reckoned with independently, it's safe to say that four separate accusations of sexual-assault merit serious investigation, not a wait and see policy.
Adding to this moral murk is the sizable amount of content that Netflix seems reticent to pull.
After multiple women came forward with accusations against actor Ed Westwick, the BBC issued a statement on the state of two Westwick projects: Ordeal by Innocence, a three-part Christmas special, and the series White Gold. ''The BBC is not making any judgment but, until these matters are resolved, we will not include Ordeal by Innocence in the schedules,'' the corporation announced. ''The independent production company making White Gold has informed us that Ed Westwick has paused from filming while he deals with these allegations.'' Meanwhile, Netflix, which released the hit UK comedy internationally, is still streaming White Gold. The same goes for five Louis C.K. stand-up specials and four Kevin Spacey projects, including House of Cards. When asked for comment by The Daily Beast on the allegations against Westwick, Netflix did not respond. As Indiewire noted, this is in contrast to networks like FX and HBO, who have seemingly scrubbed their websites and on demand services of Louis C.K.'s work.
Netflix also gave a ''no comment'' to The Daily Beast on the status of Arrested Development season five, which is currently shooting and slated to drop in 2018. Arrested Development star Jeffrey Tambor recently announced that he was leaving his starring role in Amazon's Transparent after being accused of sexual harassment by two women, including one of his co-stars.
While the recent slew of accusations has put a spotlight on how industries and individual corporations handle allegations and abusers, Netflix was missing the mark on these issues even before the sexual misconduct conversation went mainstream.
Last summer, Netflix became the streaming home of Chris Brown: Welcome to My Life, a documentary in which the abusive singer seemingly pleaded for redemption. As Jezebel's Rich Juzwiak wrote, ''Here's a guy with extensively documented, rarely denied transgressions under his belt approaching viewers with a long-form appeal for another chance.'' He continued, ''It is propaganda, a desperate and inept attempt to reframe Brown's narrative in his own words'--an excruciatingly detailed section on his 2009 beating of his then-girlfriend Rihanna serves mostly to explore what it was like for Brown to withstand the ensuing public backlash.'' And the film actually worked, according to article headlines like ''Chris Brown Fans Think People Should Forgive Him After Watching His Netflix Documentary.'' Deciding to give an artist or an individual a second chance is one thing'--providing them with a platform and centering the needs and regrets of an abuser over the stories of their victims is quite another.
Amidst the current cycle of accusations and oustings, it's become increasingly obvious that institutions will change as little as possible, provided they can get away it. When public backlash demands a denunciation, Netflix will tweet definitively. But when it's one reporter repeatedly pressing for comment on a number of sexual-assault allegations, they will issue a non-statement highlighting their own inaction. Moving forward, we should ask not just what we require of powerful men, but what we expect from the institutions and companies that employ them. Will we revert back to the outdated model of unlimited second chances, or will we demand that our ''progressive'' platforms actually take a stand?
FOK.nl / Nieuws / 'Kick Out Zwarte Piet en de Grauwe Eeuw mogelijk terreurgevaar'
Sat, 25 Nov 2017 18:42
Op de site van de Rijksoverheid is een Rapport verschenen over extremisme en terreurdreiging in Nederland. Naast de gebruikelijke namen als Islamitische Staat, Pegida en andere extremistische groeperingen zijn ook Kick Out Zwarte Piet en de Grauwe Eeuw benoemd.
"Incidenteel vinden in Nederland confrontaties plaats tussen links- en rechtsextremisten. Hierbij wordt soms door enkele links-extremisten dreigende taal geuit en in sommige gevallen wordt vuurwerk gegooid naar de tegenpartij.Daarnaast was er in deze DTN-periode veel media-aandacht voor de bekladding van de voordeur van de fractievoorzitter van Forum voor Democratie (FvD). Deze actie is op internet geclaimd onder de gelegenheidsnaam Radicaal Anarchistisch Feministisch Front. Het risico op omvangrijke gewelddadige openbare ordeproblemen zoals in de VS en in Duitsland is in Nederland klein, mede dankzij actief politieoptreden, maar toch zijn deze niet helemaal uit te sluiten. Enkele relatief nieuwe extreemlinkse antiracistische actiegroepen bestaan voornamelijk uit actievoerders met een migrantenachtergrond. Zij strijden tegen (in hun ogen) racistische en koloniale symbolen in de Nederlandse maatschappij, zoals Zwarte Piet, de VOC, straatnamen en standbeelden. De bekendste actiegroepen hiervan zijn Kick Out Zwarte Piet en De Grauwe Eeuw."
Naast links- en rechtsextremistische organisaties wordt ook gewaarschuwd voor toenemend Salafisme onder bijvoorbeeld de Turkse gemeenschap in Nederland en - uiteraard - Jihadisme.
Het huidige dreigingsniveau in Nederland is niveau 4, wat inhoudt dat de dreiging 'substantieel' is.
Dreigingsbeeld Terrorisme
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Sweden: Fire brigade now need a SWAT team to enter migrant suburb
Sat, 25 Nov 2017 15:37
After a fire alarm went off in a garage with fifty cars in Uppsala, the fire brigade was nowhere to be seen.
According to a witness, people in the suburb of Gottsunda had to wait (for almost) an hour before the emergency services arrived.
At 9:34 am the emergency services arrived much too late at the place. Lisa Sannervik, a police spokeswoman, said ''the delay was because of safety measures''.
Earlier there were attacks on responding teams and helmet and weapon reinforcements were needed to safely escort the fire brigade in the suburb.
That probably had to do with the police and housing companies conducting searches in the area in a fight against organised crime. It could not be ruled out that the garage fire in Gottsunda was retaliation for the work that was performed earlier that week.
''Of course, it is regrettable for residents in the area. But we need to put security for our staff in first place'' said Lisa Sannervik.
By Jim G.
Washington Post reporter caught plotting liberal agenda with billionaire George Soros | Fox News
Sat, 25 Nov 2017 15:32
Allegedly unbiased Washington Post reporter Janell Ross spoke at a top-secret meeting of liberal movers and shakers last week, where Democratic donors including billionaire George Soros outlined the future of their progressive agenda.
A Post spokesperson told the Washington Free Beacon that Ross took part of the California event ''without notifying her superiors that she would be attending.''
The Democracy Alliance, which hosted the event, bills itself as ''the largest network of donors dedicated to building the progressive movement in the United States'' on the group's official website. The liberal group also claims to ''play a leading role in fostering the infrastructure necessary to advance a progressive agenda'' in the United States.
The group intended to keep ''the identities of its members and guests confidential,'' according to the Beacon, but the paper obtained a ''detailed conference agenda that lists both events and featured guests.'' Once the Beacon revealed the attendees, the group reportedly beefed up security and asked participants to keep details off social media.
One of the surprising guests was Ross, who used to pass as a somewhat impartial reporter for the prestigious Post. While the paper's slogan is, ''Democracy Dies in Darkness,'' she apparently wanted to keep her bosses in the dark about attending the liberal planning session and hanging out with prominent Democratic donors such as Soros.
Billionaire George Soros. (The Associated Press)
According to the agenda published by the Beacon, Ross' panel aimed to help the liberal attendees get ''the economic narrative right" and was immediately followed by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) speaking about on Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Media Research Center Vice President Dan Gainor called it a ''classic example'' of journalism ''openly coordinating with the alt-left'' to take down conservatives.
''Someone should introduce reporter Janell Ross and her boss Marty Baron to the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics. It appears they haven't read it, or any other text on journalistic ethics."
- Media Research Center Vice President Dan Gainor ''Someone should introduce reporter Janell Ross and her boss Marty Baron to the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics. It appears they haven't read it, or any other text on journalistic ethics. Funny, the movie 'Spotlight' portrays Baron as a big advocate of legitimate journalism,'' Gainor told Fox News. ''Can't wait for the sequel that shows the Post for what it really is, the research and reporting arm of the left.''
While it's surprising that a reporter from the Post would appear at such a partisan event, a quick glance at Ross' archive page on the paper's website reveals her agenda. One headline lumps President Trump into the same category as O.J. Simpson, while others touch on issues of race and gender discrimination. She covered the 2016 presidential election closely, but the majority of her stories appear to be anti-Trump in retrospect.
Members of the secretive liberal group who attended the shady presentation each promised to donate at least $20,000 to advance its left-wing agenda. The session was part of a three-day conference at the luxurious La Costa Resort located in Carlsbad, Calif., last week, where the group plotted their 2018 "resistance" and game plan, according to the Beacon. Soros was introduced by a video message from Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and House Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, according to the paper.
"We've only now learned about her participation in this event," a Washington Post spokesperson told the Beacon when asked about Ross' involvement, adding that she has been "reminded" that the paper "discourages" participation in events that may be "perceived as partisan."
Ross did not comment when reached by the Beacon.
The Washington Post did not respond to questions from Fox News on whether or not Ross will be disciplined for attending the event. Ross did not respond to our request for comment either.
The Democracy Alliance did not respond to a question about who funded Ross' trip to the ritzy resort where the event was held.
The Guardian view on Taylor Swift: an envoy for Trump's values? | Editorial | Opinion | The Guardian
Sat, 25 Nov 2017 15:29
Taylor Swift. 'Ms Swift's songs echo Mr Trump's obsession with petty score-settling.' Photograph: Mario Anzuoni/Reuters
I n the year since Donald Trump was elected, the entertainment world has been largely united in its disdain for his presidency. But a notable voice has been missing from the chorus: that of Taylor Swift, the world's biggest pop star. Her silence is striking, highlighting the parallels between the singer and the president: their adept use of social media to foster a diehard support base; their solipsism; their laser focus on the bottom line; their support among the ''alt-right''.
Related: Taylor Swift: Reputation review '' superb songcraft meets extreme drama
Swift's songs echo Mr Trump's obsession with petty score-settling in their repeated references to her celebrity feuds, or report in painstaking detail on her failed romantic relationships (often, there is crossover). The message is quintessentially Trumpian: everyone is out to get me '' but I win anyway. Seeded with clues to the identities of her famous associates, her lyrics reel in and solidify a hardcore fanbase '' usually young, female followers known as ''Swifties'' '' who passionately defend her honour on social media by attacking her detractors.
Mr Trump realised it was more effective to target a core group than attempt blanket appeal in his campaign '' but Swift worked it out first. For years, she has directed her extraordinary self-promotional skills towards cultivating a dedicated and emotional army of followers, handpicking particularly loyal fans for private listening parties and, on her latest tour, allowing members of the public to buy tickets only once they have proved their allegiance through their purchasing history. Her new album, Reputation, is not available on Spotify '' anyone wishing to hear it must buy it.
To some that makes her an artist wresting control, and a strong woman asserting and celebrating herself. The articulation of her inner life might be labelled introspection or splendid, swaggering confidence if it issued from a boy with a guitar. She calls herself a feminist. In August, she won a court case against a DJ who had groped her in 2013, taking a clear stand against the kind of sexual harassment that has long been trivialised in society, and foreshadowing the Harvey Weinstein allegations and the #MeToo campaign. She has been a target of the kind of misogyny that Mr Trump espouses.
Yet notably her much-publicised ''squad'' of female models, actors and musicians is largely thin, white and wealthy. In a well-publicised Twitter exchange with rapper Nicki Minaj, she treated the discussion of structural racism as not only incomprehensible, but a way to disempower white people such as herself '' though her lawyers have taken action over articles that associate her with the far right, and have taken issue with claims that she has not sufficiently denounced white supremacy.
By focusing only on her own, extremely profitable, business, Swift appears at first glance to be an apolitical pop star, keen to attract people of all leanings. She began her career in country, a genre whose fans have historically identified as Republican (early on, she wrote that ''Republicans do it better'', though after Barack Obama's victory she said she was ''so glad this was my first election''). But these days, even heartland country singers are mocking the president. Her silence seems to be more wilful: a product of her inward gaze, perhaps, or her pettiness and refusal to concede to critics. Swift seems not simply a product of the age of Trump, but a musical envoy for the president's values.
Real-life Stranger Things base 'uses creepy mass mind control to trigger shootings across the world', conspiracy theorist claims
Sat, 25 Nov 2017 15:24
Chris Garetano claims he has evidence sinister mind-control experiments are continuing at Camp Hero in Montauk, New York
A US military base that inspired hit drama Stranger Things is using secret mind control experiments to trigger deadly shootings by a worldwide army of brainwashed assassins, a filmmaker claims.
Chris Garetano, who grew up close to Camp Hero, claims he has uncovered eerie goings-on over decades including child abductions and even time travel.
The Camp Hero base in Montauk, New York, was allegedly the home of a sinister projectThe former Cold War radar station in Montauk, New York state, has been the subject of rumours and conspiracy theories since it shut in the 1980s.
Locals have heard talk of government scientists conducting experiments on snatched foster kids and making contact with aliens.
Crucially, it is claimed the base's Sage radar tower broadcast the frequency needed to affect human consciousness.
One former worker has also described operating the Montauk Chair '' a mind-reading device '' and said once the computer accidentally summoned up a monster from a subject's imagination, which then went on a rampage through the air base.
Camp Hero was a secretive Cold War radar station on the coast on Long IslandThe old military installation remain sealed off and guardedPreston Nichols also told The Sun there were time-travel portals that sucked people to a different place and time.
It was these stories that inspired the creators of the hit Netflix sci-fi series Stranger Things, which was originally titled Montauk.
Most of the base is now a state park filled with picnickers but some parts near the old military installations and concrete bunkers remain sealed and guarded.
Now Chris has taken a fresh look at the creepy site amid claims some of the sinister activities could still be happening today.
The base was the inspiration for hit Netflix series Stranger ThingsFilmmaker Chris Garetano has been obsessed with theories about Camp Hero since he was a childHe told the Daily Mirror: ''The more you find out it's a little heartbreaking, as it's terrifying.
''I wouldn't be surprised if this site and these experiments are connected to mind control. The worst thing I can imagine is they were developing a mass mind control situation.
''There's new random shootings happening increasingly across the world now.
''And each time people say 'I didn't expect that person to do this.'
''It's very strange and it's happening far too much now.''
Stranger Things features abducted children being used for sinister tests at a government labPreston Nicholas claims tests were made on locals to alter their behaviour½Netflix / Supplied by LMK
Preston said they were able to create portals in time, like the one Eleven enters in the sci-fi hit showChris said government operatives could have set out to cause mayhem ''to get the public to see things in a certain way, to persuade them or scare them.''
Assassins could have been programmed at the site and years later are prompted by subliminal messages.
He said: ''If this is true, that is terrifying. I don't want to believe it.''
After the Second World War it is claimed the US government experiment on its own citizens including the Tuskegee Airmen, who are said to have been deliberately infected with syphilis and left untreated.
Others claim the CIA ran a mind control programme called MKUltra in the 1950s and 1970s. It allegedly involved testing how drugs like LSD could be used to extract information or erase memories.
And some point to Project Stargate, a CIA mission to see if psychic phenomena such as clairvoyancy could be used by spies. Spoon bender Uri Geller was on of the psychic who took part.
In recent years, many people have come forward and said they were snatched and put through mind-control experimentsPictures of the underground chambers taken by Brian MinnickAnother theory claims thousands of vulnerable children were kidnapped from the local area and subjected to mind control techniques to create an army of sleeper cell soldiers called the Montauk Boys.
Stewart Sweadlow claimed that, in 1970 when he was 13, he was regularly abducted for the Montauk Project.
He said: ''They used derelicts, foster children and drug addicts and then ultimately they decided that people with certain genetics, people with certain backgrounds were conducive to the more advanced experiments and that's when I was taken in.
''With all of these children their memories were wiped, their genetics were altered and they couldn't always remember what happened. It would be in the form of nightmares or flashbacks.
''But with me, they could not erase my memory. I became an anomaly for them.
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''I witnessed children being beaten, murdered, injured in horrible ways. I was also the subject of some of these horrible things.
''It was a continuation on the experiments that the Nazi's carried out in concentration camps.
''The ultimate goal was for global mind control and programme, to have a robotic borg-type population who does what they want to.''
The creators of Stranger things decided to switch the action to the fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana, but have not revealed why.
For more on Stranger Things 2, click here.
THE MONTAUK PROJECT
OCEAN WAVES: Scientists allegedly used radio waves to make a WW2 destroyer invisible. Some say it moved into a different time dimension.RADIO WAVES: Frequencies were broadcast to change consciousness and alter human behaviour.CRIME WAVES: Two-hour sprees, mobs of youths induced to congregateMIND READING: Computer produced physical items '' and monsters '' from people's subconsciousMIND BENDING: Starved, beaten, fed LSD, subjects were left with ''fractured minds''We pay for your stories! Do you have a story for The Sun Online news team? Email us at tips@the-sun.co.uk or call 0207 782 4368 . We pay for videos too. Click here to upload yours.
Exclusive: Brexit Referendum 'May Need to Be Redone' '' patribotics
Sat, 25 Nov 2017 15:22
Multiple sources with links to UK intelligence report that Russian corruption of the Brexit vote is far worse than previously thought. The referendum on remaining part of the EU received so much illegal foreign money and influence from Russia, these sources say, that UK intelligence is minded to recommend to Theresa May's government that the Brexit vote be redone, as it is not thought that the vote was 'free and fair'. This term is often used in Great Britain to describe a legitimate election process.
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It is illegal under UK electoral law for foreign nationals and entities to spend sums of money influencing domestic votes. The Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act, sources said, was quite clear on the illegality of such donations.
This reporter broke the story, last year, that the same Russian entities that were pushing botnets for Trump were pushing them for Brexit, and for Marine le Pen and Viktor Orban. The level of money and the reach of the fake bots and targeted data funded by Russia, using Cambridge Analytica, sources said, was so great that MI5 and MI6, the UK's versions of the FBI and CIA, did not believe that the Brexit referendum could have been said to have been 'free and fair'.
Sources cautioned, however, that an absolute decision had not yet been made and that the Prime Minister and her government opposed a revote. Reasons for this included both the public reaction, and the fact that it is thought that any second vote is likely to have the same final result as the first one. Sources with links to both UK and US intelligence also believed, however, that there was major anxiety within the British government '' among all major parties '' of politicians' links to the Russian state being exposed.
The resulting scandal could be worse than the 'MPs' expenses' scandal of 2009, which caught hundreds of MPs up in a corruption probe over petty larceny paid for by taxpayers, where British politicans charged personal items as 'expenses' necessary for their work to the public purse.
Sources were aware that Russian money had flowed into more UK electoral processes than just the Brexit vote. Russia piled into the Scottish independence referendum on behalf of the SNP; the former SNP leader, Alex Salmond, has just accepted a chat show on the UK version of Russia Today, Putin's state propaganda channel. In America, Russia Today have been forced to register as foreign agents under FARA (the foreign agents' registration act).
Russia has also backed Jeremy Corbyn, in an apparent fit of anger towards Theresa May for the UK's assistance to the US intelligence community; and UKIP, the party led by Nigel Farage. UKIP's leaders are under an active USIC investigation for colluding with Russia in the matter of Donald Trump's election campaign. We plan a further report on Nigel Farage shortly. Sources speculated, without certainty, that any re-do of a corrupted Brexit vote might be announced after the arrest of Nigel Farage, which, separate sources assert, is a certainty.
Several sources with knowledge of the matter indicated that the intelligence community was not likely to be swayed by political considerations from making its recommendation. Analysis was not merely based on logging the amount of money and the number of social media profiles affected, they said, but on SIGINT, or signals intelligence '' that is, recordings and other legal interceptions of politicians, Russian agents and assets, and of tracking laundered money, including by tracking the use of bitcoin, that flowed from Vladimir Putin into the Brexit referendum.
GCHQ, as we have previously reported, recorded Steve Mnuchin, Donald Trump and others at Trump Turnberry on June 24th, 2016, the day after Brexit. All attending that event and the weekend with Mr. Trump that followed it were under constant surveillance, sources said. At that weekend, the deal outlined at Trump Tower on June 9th, 2016, was finalized '' Trump would alter policy in America, on both sanctions and Ukraine, in exchange for Russia's help in hacking the election. Brexit and Cambridge Analytica were crucial to 'proving' to Trump that Putin and his assets could hand an election victory, against the odds, to the GOP's candidate. Steve Bannon and Robert Mercer were crucial links in Putin's twin assaults on the UK and US electoral systems; they were heavily involved with UKIP, Cambridge Analytica, Brexit and then the Trump campaign.
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Why The Mattel/Hasbro Merger Will In All Likelihood Not Happen - has | Seeking Alpha
Sat, 25 Nov 2017 15:05
There are a number of factors arguing for the economic benefits of this merger - cost synergies, supply chain economics, enhanced market position, better negotiating leverage, greater license opportunities - but it appears that the forces arrayed against it are too powerful to let it go through. These anti-merger forces are, in short, the top Mattel (NASDAQ:MAT) executives themselves, the Mattel shareholders, Disney (NYSE:DIS), the European Union and the national buyers of the leading retailers.
Mattel ExecutivesWith the exception of Richard Dickson [the COO] and Peter Gibbons [EVP and Chief Supply Officer] all other top executives have two things in common. One is that they do not know toys from a bar of soap and the second is that they have just been hired and are complete greenhorns as far as their new employer is concerned. This includes the entire top floor - starting with Margo Georgiadis, the CEO, who came on board from Google in February and who in turn hired the CFO, the CTO, the Chief HR person and the Chief Communications Officer in the last few months. They all know that they are toast if taken over since they have nothing to offer which Hasbro does not already have in abundance.
As a result, they will fight tooth and nail to thwart this merger.
Shareholder OppositionWhilst you would assume that the owners of Mattel shares should be overjoyed to have Hasbro buying the company, this is a fallacy. Yes, they would be happy if the price offered would be somewhere close to what the company's share price was only a year ago. If it is not, you can expect very aggressive pushback from shareholders. To quote a much more knowledgeable person than I - "Both companies would benefit from a merger, but Mattel stockholders might oppose a deal that values the company on its depressed stock price," said Erik Gordon, a professor at the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business.
To put numbers to this issue - on October 30, 2017, when the rumors first surfaced, the share price stood at $13.12 and this compares to the $30.46 a year earlier. It is unlikely that Hasbro will in fact be able to even get close to this number since there are three significant factors not yet included in the most recent Mattel Balance Sheet. One is the ToysRUs bankruptcy where Mattel's pre-chapter receivables stand at $135 million. People at ToysRUs have mentioned that they do not see a settlement of pre-DIP receivables at much more than 25 cents in the Dollar. If accurate, and if Mattel had no insurance to cover this loss, they could be hit to the tune of $100 million.
The second factor is the MGA Entertainment lawsuit against Mattel. The jury trial in connection with the Trade Secret Misappropriation case is scheduled for next year and, given the recent history of the case, there is a good chance that MGA will win again. Given the fact that MGA's claim is for about $ 1billion this could materially affect next year's earnings.
You have two mandates colliding. Mattel shareholders will expect a very high price per share because this is what the company is inherently worth given its brands, its retailer reach worldwide, its supply chain skills, its sales expertise, and its many pretty undervalued other assets. On the other hand, Hasbro shareholders will expect a price that takes into account real earnings and real cash flow over the next twelve to twenty-four months and this means a very low number.
In short, expectations and reality may just not be compatible in this particular case.
Opposition from the side of DisneyDisney has consistently opposed any move from the side of Hasbro that could reduce its leverage over its main licensee. This has been shown very clearly on two occasions. One was Hasbro's attempt to buy DreamWorks Animation. This was at the same time the negotiations regarding the transfer of the Princess license were ongoing. Disney made it very clear that this transfer was not going to happen if Hasbro persisted in its efforts to buy DreamWorks. Not so surprisingly, Hasbro stopped them and thus got the Princess license. The second time this happened was this year when Hasbro was thinking of buying Lions Gate. Lions Gate is the largest and most successful film studio in North America and its acquisition would have given Hasbro access to film making and hence film licenses independent of Disney. Disney also vetoed this particular deal.
A merger with Mattel would give Hasbro access to major Warner IPs now held by Mattel - Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, DC Super Hero Girls, Justice League, Fantastic Beasts - and hence would again represent an alternative to Disney's movie brands. It is very likely, therefore, that Disney would also in this instance do everything in their power to stop this merger.
Antitrust OppositionThere is the possibility that the Federal Trade Commission would, under the current Administration, oppose the merger but I rate this as somewhat unlikely given their ongoing crusade against regulations affecting business activities. .
No, the real veto lies with the European Union and the possible merger of Hasbro and Mattel would clearly be in the province of the EU Competition Directorate headed by Margrethe Vestager. The criterion is that any merger between two companies in a horizontal or vertical competitive relationship, with sales worldwide exceeding Euro 5 billion worldwide or an EU wide turnover of each of the two firms of Euro 250 million or higher, would be investigated by the EU Commission rather than the Monopolies Commission of a member State.
There has been a recent example for what can happen, albeit on a much smaller scale and hence restricted to the Authority of a member State - the United Kingdom - in the case of the Leapfrog/VTech merger. Firstly, the U.K. Competition and Markets Authority ordered that any activity designed to merge the two companies had to cease and be reversed until a final finding had been issued. This put a total and worldwide stop to the merger. Finally, the same Authority allowed the merger to proceed after an investigation that lasted for nine months.
You can assume that the EU Competition Authority will, too, force a complete halt to any activity designed to put the two companies under one hat and this worldwide. Secondly, you can assume that their deliberations would take as long as, if not longer than what happened in the case of Leapfrog. Finally, according to my sources, the odds are that the final verdict will be negative unless the two companies divest major parts of their business in the Fashion Doll and the Action Figure spaces. In other words, the Competition Directorate will likely prohibit the merger if no adequate remedies to the competition concerns have been proposed by the merging parties. Such a decision could of course be appealed to the Luxembourg-based European Court of Justice. However, this court in most cases tends to side with the Commission rather than the litigant companies.
In all this, we must not underrate the influence of European toy companies in this issue. Lego, Simba and Geobra/Playmobil are totally opposed to a merger between Hasbro and Mattel as they see this as an existential threat to their business. They will do whatever it takes to stop this merger from happening.
Whatever the final outcome may be, the time frame for an appeal to the European Court of Justice is measured in years rather than months and the current Hasbro management is likely to reach retirement age well before they see the end result.
Buyer OppositionNational buyers at the large toy retailers - Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT), Target (NYSE:TGT), ToysRUs, Carrefour and others - dislike monopolies of any kind. The reason is that a monopoly by a vendor lessens the leverage the retailer has in terms of pricing power, promotional allowances, payment terms and so forth. The most recent example of what can happen is in the case of the Leapfrog/VTech merger.
Up to that point, the Learning aisle was completely taken by the two companies and the retailers had no problem with this because they saw two competitors vying for their favor and an advantage in terms of shelf position and shelf space. Once it became clear that this merger was going to happen and the two competitors were combining forces, the retailers - presumably independently of each other - began to try to level the playing field again. They did so by luring major toy manufacturers into the Preschool space - Mattel, Spin Master, Melissa & Doug and others - inviting them to bring appropriate products into the Learning aisle.
The two companies announced on February 5, 2016, that they had entered into the agreement that VTech would acquire Leapfrog. And this is what happened in terms of shelf space at Wal-Mart, Target and ToysRUs before and after this announcement:
Source: Klosters Retailer Panel
And this is how things looked in detail on 11/25/2017:
Source: Klosters Retailer Panel
What would be the choices the retailers have in the case of a Hasbro/Mattel merger? For one, they could give Lego and Playmobil shelf space in the Action Figure aisle. Secondly, they could invite Simba - whose Steffi Love range is phenomenally successful in Europe - to enter the Fashion Doll space in the U.S. Whatever the retailers finally would choose to do, they would definitely not allow the Hasbro/Mattel combo to monopolize the key toy spaces in their stores.
In summary, I believe that the odds are stacked against this merger going through anytime soon.
Disclosure: I/we have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.
I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.
EU anti-propaganda unit gets '‚¬1m a year to counter Russian fake news | World news | The Guardian
Sat, 25 Nov 2017 14:31
Donald Tusk, the European council president, warned that one of Europe's real problems was 'cyber-attacks, fake news, hybrid war'. Photograph: Pareg/ZUMA Wire/REX/Shutterstock
The EU is stepping up its campaign to counter disinformation and fake news from Russia by spending more than '‚¬1m a year on its specialist anti-propaganda unit.
For the first time since the team was set up in 2015, the East Stratcom taskforce will have money from the EU budget, rather than relying on contributions from EU member states or squeezing other budget lines. The unit has been granted '‚¬1.1m (£980,000) a year from the EU budget for 2018-20, according to a source familiar with the team's work.
The new funding emerged after the European council president, Donald Tusk, warned that one of Europe's real problems was ''cyber-attacks, fake news, hybrid war'', following a summit with EU leaders and their counterparts in eastern Europe and the Caucasus on Friday. ''We have to keep very cautious, vigilant and also honest. If we want to protect ourselves, if we want to help our partners, we have to be very aware about the threat inside the EU,'' Tusk said.
Tusk referred to Theresa May's recent speech, where the prime minister accused Russia of meddling in elections and planting fake stories in the media in an attempt to ''weaponise information'' and sow discord in the west.
But Tusk appeared to go further than May by linking ''hostile'' Russian activities to the EU referendum, while May did not mention any UK elections or referendums in her Mansion House speech.
The decision to dedicate EU money to the counter-propaganda unit for the first time follows a rise in misinformation in Russian and Spanish about the Catalan independence referendum. As media attention shifts, EU sources have seen that flow of stories dry up, with the target shifting to misinformation about the latest summit with eastern countries. For instance, officials have picked up claims in Georgian media that the EU restricts Georgian products, although the country has been granted zero tariffs on all products, apart from garlic.
The UK has also become a focus for Russian state TV, following May's speech. Dmitry Kiselyov, the anchor of Vesti Nedeli, Russia's flagship news programme, recently made personal jibes about May's appearance and told viewers she would soon join the ranks of Femen activists, the topless feminist protest group.
The East Stratcom unit was set up in 2015 to rebut false and misleading stories about the EU, following Russia's hybrid war campaign in Ukraine. Based in Brussels, the unit has 14 staff. Politicians and civil society activists in eastern Europe have long argued that it lacks the resources to tackle the problem: last year, EU leaders rejected a proposal from the European parliament to increase the budget by '‚¬800,000.
The taskforce is drawing up plans on how to spend the unprecedented cash injection, with the aim of scaling up the EU monitoring of Russian media and undertaking data analysis to provide more detailed understanding of the scale of misinformation. Beyond its core staff in Brussels, the unit draws on volunteers and experts to monitor Russian media for the site the EU vs disinformation.
At the summit on Friday, May told leaders that the UK was unconditionally committed to Europe's security: ''This summit highlights the crucial importance of the European countries working together to protect our shared values and ideals.''
Fusion GPS, Russian dossier firm, paid journalists for work - Washington Times
Sat, 25 Nov 2017 14:10
Fusion GPS, the liberal research firm that funded and distributed the anti-Trump dossier, has paid three journalists for work related to Congress' Russia probe, according to court filings.
Lawyers representing the House Intelligence Committee made the assertion in a bid to force Fusion to turn over additional bank transactions involving reporters, law firms and a media company.
''The committee seeks transactions related to three individual journalists,'' stated the House general counsel court filing, ''each of whom have reported on and/or been quoted in articles regarding topics related to the committee's investigation.''
The journalists' names are blacked out. Documents list 10 House-demanded bank transactions from Fusion, or its conduits, to journalists.
Fusion's two law firms, Cunningham Levy Muse and Zuckerman Spaeder and Cunningham, are asking a U.S. District Court judge to block access.
The court battle unfolded this way.
Congressional committees are conducting broad probes into Russia's 2016 election interference and whether President Trump and his associates colluded.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, California Republican, signed a subpoena for Fusion's bank records. He wanted to determine who bankrolled a partisan unproven dossier that has become such a large part of the FBI's, Congress' and journalists' investigations.
The Nunes subpoena forced the law firm Perkins Coie to admit that the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign paid the bills. The money went from Democrats to Perkins Coie to Fusion to ex-British spy Christopher Steele. He then paid Kremlin sources for dirt on Mr. Trump. None of Mr. Steele's core charges of collusion has been publicly confirmed.
Fusion and the House at first worked out a deal for relevant banks records. But House lawyers say they learned that Fusion withheld 112 transactions pertinent to the Russia probe.
The suspect transactions, House lawyers say, deal with two Russia issues. One is the dossier. The other is Fusion's payments from another law firm, BakerHostetler. That money came from the Russian firm Prevezon Holdings which is lobbying Washington to repeal a law that brought stiff economic sanctions on President Vladimir Putin's regime.
In that vein, the House committee wants copies of Fusion bank transfers with other law firms in addition to Perkins Coie and Hostetler.
''Fusion has established a pattern and practice of using law firms as intermediaries to mask the true beneficiaries of its research,'' the House filing says.
In addition, the committee wants transactions related to the Washington Free Beacon, a conservative news site funded by GOP-mega-donor Paul Singer. The Beacon first hired Fusion in 2015 to investigate then-candidate Donald Trump, an anathema to many D.C. establishment Republicans.
The Free Beacon says the payments stopped in April 2016. Fusion then sought funds from the Democrats. After the Democratic National Committee announced on June 22, 2016 that Russia had hacked its computer network, Fusion hired Mr. Steele to prove there was a Trump-Putin conspiracy.
The House filings stated, ''The committee has a clear investigative interest in scrutinizing Beacon's public claims regarding its relationship with Fusion GPS.''
Fusion's attorneys did not hide their disapproval of what they called Mr. Nunes' ''fishing expedition'' and ''McCarthy-like'' tactics.
If they had not filed suit, the said, ''the committee would have happily prowled through all of [Fusion's] banking records and used them for no purpose other than to inflict harm '.... We respectfully submit that [committee Republicans are] using these overbroad demands to punish [Fusion] for having investigated Mr. Trump.''
The attorneys asserted that Fusion enjoys ''a First Amendment right to associate freely with clients and contractors on political and other matters and a First Amendment right to engage in those client activities when they further political and commercial speech.''
House attorneys argued Fusion has no such rights.
''It is instead a profit-maximizing hired gun, selling it investigative services to the highest bidder,'' they said. ''[Fusion's] goal''''to be highly compensated for its work''''is not protected associational interest.''
Fusion co-founder Glenn Simpson, a former Wall Street Journal reporter, had Mr. Steele brief a number of liberal press sites in Washington during the election.
The House court filings mentioned two who wrote stories on dossier dirt''''Yahoo News and Mother Jones.
''Fusion's specialty is seeding its opposition research into news stories, a modus operandi highlighted by a 2011 interview with co-founder Peter Fritsch,'' the House attorneys said. Mr. Fritsch is also a former Wall Street Journal reporter.
BuzzFeed posted the entire 35-page dossier in January 2017. House Intelligence Committee Democrats have used the document to recite unverified allegations against Mr. Trump and his team.
Charlie Rose's Walter Cronkite Award Revoked by Journalism School '' Variety
Sat, 25 Nov 2017 14:01
Patrick Lewis/Starpix/REX/Shutterstock
Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication is taking back the award it gave to Charlie Rose in 2015, the school's dean Christopher Callahan said in a statement Friday.
TV journalist and talk show host Rose has been accused of sexually harassing several women and was fired by CBS. He apologized for '' inappropriate behavior'' but said ''I do not believe that all of these allegations are accurate.''
''The Cronkite School is rescinding the Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Journalism given to Charlie Rose in 2015,'' the statement read.
''This unprecedented action is taken with the utmost seriousness and deliberation. We are not in the business of trying to rewrite history.
''When new information about a recipient surfaces, the question we ask is not whether the award would be given again with a new set of facts, but whether the transgressions are so egregious that they demand nothing less than a reversal of history.''
''I believe Mr. Rose's actions of sexual misconduct reported by The Washington Post and other media outlets, which are largely unrefuted, rise to that level,'' Callahan wrote.
Though the statement acknowledged that rescinding the 2-year old award would be largely symbolic, the school felt it was especially important since the young women Rose victimized were ''much like those who make up the overwhelming majority of Cronkite students.''
''We hope to send an unequivocal message that what Mr. Rose did is unacceptable, and that such behavior '' far too common in not just media companies but many organizations '' must stop.''
After the current wave of sexual harassment and assault allegations began to come to light, Harvey Weinstein was expelled from the Motion Picture Academy and the TV Academy. Several other institutions have responded similarly to the scandals causing upheaval among media and entertainment companies.
Irish Government On Verge Of Collapse, Could Impact Brexit | Zero Hedge
Sat, 25 Nov 2017 13:58
The Irish government was on the verge of collapse as it faced a vote of no confidence in the deputy prime minister by a party whose votes are critical for Prime Minister Leo Varadkar to pass laws (the government is a minority administration). As Reuters reported late on Thursday, the opposition Fianna Fail party threatened it would put a motion of no confidence in Deputy Prime Minister Frances Fitzgerald on Tuesday - a move sparked by Fitzgerald's handling of a legal case involving a police whistleblower - and which would breach the "confidence and supply" agreement that allowed Taoiseach Leo Varadkar's Fine Gael party to form a minority government 18 months ago.
And, as UBS notes, if the government were to lose such a vote, it would have implications within Europe over the Brexit process.
Ireland's Prime minister Leo Varadkar arrives for an EU Social Summit
Fianna Fail indicated it might withdraw the motion if Fitzgerald resigned, but Foreign Minister Simon Coveney told state broadcaster RTE that Fitzgerald would not resign. Additionally, as Bloomberg reports, Prime Minister Leo Varadkar won't ''abandon'' deputy Frances Fitzgerald, Coveney also told RTE. Fitzgerald faces a ''trumped up charge,'' Varadkar told his party lawmakers late on Thursday.
As Politico adds, Fine Gael MPs passed a unanimous motion of support in Fitzgerald at an emergency meeting convened Thursday evening. An unnamed ''senior Fianna Fil'' source told Reuters the country was heading ''straight toward'' a new election after the motion was passed, and added the party would hold a meeting Friday on the matter.
While Varadkar said he didn't want an election, without support from Fianna Fail, the minority government could fall. Fine Gael is preparing for an election in January, the Irish Times reported, as the opposition readies to submit a no-confidence motion on Friday in Dublin. It will be debated on Tuesday. ''We don't have confidence in her ability, '' Fianna Fail spokesman Dara Calleary said in a RTE radio interview on Friday, suggesting Fitzgerald's exit would defuse the issue as it prepares for more talks with the government. ''There's a long way to go until Tuesday.''
The crisis comes at an awkward time for the UK's Brexit process, just weeks ahead of a European Union summit in which the Irish government has an effective veto on whether Britain's talks on leaving the bloc progress as it determines if EU concerns about the future of the Irish border have been met. More from Bloomberg:
The affair comes at a delicate time for the government, as it moves toward a decision on the Brexit process. The Irish border is one of three key issues that have been identified, along with citizens' rights and money owed by the U.K., that require ''sufficient progress'' toward a resolution before the EU will allow talks to move on to Britain's future trade relationship with the bloc.
''The timing is an issue when considering the crucial December meeting of the European Council, where Ireland will require a strong leader to deal with possible political pressure regarding the progress of Brexit talks,'' said Ryan McGrath, head of fixed-income strategy at Cantor Fitzgerald LP. ''Having Varadkar attend as a lame duck could potentially be very disadvantageous for Ireland.''
Varadkar has pledged to stand firm in the face of any pressure to move talks on without enough progress on the border question.
It's the biggest political crisis to hit Varadkar since he took over as premier from Enda Kenny in June, according to Bloomberg. Last year, Kenny's coalition drew about 35 percent of votes, slumping from 55 percent five years earlier. That result left him at the mercy of his main rival, Fianna Fail, which agreed not to block him.
''If there is no confidence and supply agreement in place, I don't see how we can have a government that can function,'' said Coveney. ''That is why the actions that Fianna Fail are taking today are so reckless at a time when the country does not need an election.''
While the market reaction to the report has been contained, the Irish 10y yield has moved higher by 4bps to 0.62%, with fresh elections now seen as a potential risk according to traders.
CLIPS & DOCS
VIDEO - Homeless people defecating on LA streets fuels horror hepatitis outbreak, as city faulted | Fox News
Thu, 30 Nov 2017 15:02
Hepatitis A: How is it spread?Hepatitis A is a liver infection that is highly contagious. Find out how to prevent contracting it and what can be done if you're exposed
An outbreak of hepatitis A is spreading through Los Angeles County after leaping from a large homeless contingent in San Diego, threatening thousands of people and fueling criticism that local officials have not done enough to contain the deadly liver disease.
Hundreds of cases have turned up in southern California as well as Michigan -- but conditions in Los Angeles, where roughly 50,000 people live on the streets, have prompted deeper concerns.
Reports compiled by volunteer organizations have faulted city officials for not providing enough accessible toilets as the homeless population sharply increased by 23 percent this year.
In a prescient warning, a June 2017 report by a collection of nonprofits called the LA Central Providers Collaborative sounded the alarm about crowding and living conditions on Skid Row, citing the city's own predictions about the increased risk for hepatitis A and other diseases.
''One would think that Los Angeles, one of the greatest cities in the world, would exceed these minimal standards. However, this Audit finds that in Skid Row, Los Angeles fails to meet even the standards for a refugee camp,'' the report said. ''During overnight hours, there are only nine public toilets available for 1,777 unsheltered homeless people on Skid Row, and these toilets are largely inaccessible.''
The report noted that United Nations' refugee camp standards are one toilet for every 20 people.
Fast-forward to September, and the county declared an outbreak affecting homeless people and illicit drug users. The disease also is rising among gay and bisexual men, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health noted in a Nov. 2 advisory.
Los Angeles currently has 31 hepatitis cases '' 15 among the homeless and 16 gay men.
Toilet access is a chief concern, as the disease can be contracted by ingesting or touching anything contaminated with infected feces. Homeless individuals without bathroom access defecating on the streets spreads the disease.
STATE OF EMERGENCY CLEARS WAY TO PURCHASE HEPATITIS A VACCINES
Seventeen miles away is the community of Venice, a trendy beachside haven made famous by a young Arnold Schwarzenegger who once lifted weights in a makeshift gym set up along a boardwalk. The homeless liked the area, too, and the population has grown to about 1,000.
The area has nine toilet stalls, none which are open at night.
In this Sept. 25, 2017 photo, a worker sprays a bleach solution on a sidewalk in downtown San Diego as part of an effort to control a deadly hepatitis A outbreak. (AP)
Los Angeles County, meanwhile, has 42,828 homeless living on the streets, which swells to more than 50,000 during the day when many leave overnight shelters. Most are within the city of Los Angeles, which has a total of 2,800 toilets and 800 urinals located in parks that are open during daylight hours.
In the past, county and city officials have not made a push for increasing the number of toilets; rather, preferring to use their budgeted resources for housing, job training, medical services and cash benefits.
The county is moving to add more restrooms in a bid to alleviate the situation, which should be open within a few months.
But so far, Los Angeles has tried to tackle the homelessness conditions by turning to a familiar California tactic: tax hikes.
Within the past year, two different elections were held where voters enacted two measures '' a quarter-cent tax increase to fund homeless programs and a $1.2-billion bond to build housing for the homeless. Critics say it's just another excuse for elected officials to siphon off money for other pet projects '' some say money spent on illegal immigrant programs could be going toward fixing this problem.
''You have all these government programs going to illegals, they should be using existing funds [for the homeless],'' said former Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich. ''We don't need new taxes, it's already at a breaking point.''
High-profile Los Angeles radio host John Kobylt has been criticizing lawmakers for years over what he says is a do-nothing attitude toward the homeless.
''Most of the local politicians are a bunch of phonies, they're not interested in helping the homeless or they would've done it by now,'' he said. '''... They use the homeless to get more money for tax programs.''
This year, the city spent $3 million to fund an Office of Immigrant Affairs to provide legal services for residents facing deportation. Over the past two years, the county spent $1.3 billion in illegal immigrant welfare payments.
City officials, however, say they have been working hard to combat homelessness and deal with the filth problem and have dedicated millions of dollars every year on programs and housing. New methods of dealing with the fecal and disease issue are underway.
For example, the streets in Venice are power-washed with bleach every few days while a new hygiene center will open soon on Skid Row. When fully completed, the center will include 14 restrooms with several hand-washing stations and showers. It will be open 12 hours daily and staffed by outreach workers and security. Additional mobile restrooms with attendants to service large encampments are on the horizon.
"Mayor Garcetti is committed to improving health and safety for Angelenos affected by the homelessness crisis, and the City is dedicating new resources to expanding access to restroom and shower facilities, as well as keeping our streets and sidewalks clean,'' Eric Garcetti's Press Secretary Alex Comisar said in a statement.
''This year's budget included $1.4 million for the maintenance and expansion of toilets on Skid Row, and the City is working to create new facilities in other areas of Los Angeles -- because no one should be forced to live in unhealthy, dangerous, or unclean conditions while they are waiting to move into new permanent supportive housing,'' Comisar added.
Even the state is on high alert.
After the county declared a hepatitis outbreak, California Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown in October declared a state of emergency because nearly 600 people had the disease statewide and 18 had died.
Now, the California Department of Public Health is reporting 649 cases statewide with 546 of those coming from San Diego. Of the 649, 417 required hospitalization and 21 resulted in death.
San Diego has had the majority of the deaths and has been taking aggressive steps to quell the spread of disease. Downtown sidewalks are hosed off with bleach and an effort is underway to vaccinate all food service workers and first responders within the city.
The battle for adequate restrooms has been going on for years. Back In 2012, the Los Angeles Community Action Network predicted that Skid Row was ripe for disease in a report similar to the one earlier this year. Then, just as now, restrooms often lacked soap, water, toilet paper and trash cans.
''The City of Los Angeles has failed miserably when it comes to providing accessible and clean public restrooms, thereby creating and maintaining the human rights violations cited in this report and others,'' the report said. ''It is an obvious fact that human beings simply must relieve themselves regularly. All residents face the need for public restrooms, it's just that homeless residents are entirely reliant on public options.''
VIDEO - Columbia Sportswear may close Portland office over death threats, public defecation by homeless people | Fox News
Thu, 30 Nov 2017 15:00
Columbia Sportswear may be the next business to flee downtown Portland after a series of frightening encounters with the city's homeless population, including car break-ins, human waste dumped by the office's front door and threats to its employees.
In an op-ed piece published earlier this month by The Oregonian, Columbia Sportswear President and CEO Tim Boyle said he is concerned he made a mistake when he opened a headquarters for the company's Sorel footwear brand downtown, calling the situation "outrageous and unacceptable."
"In fact, I am so concerned about the safety of our employees at the Sorel headquarters that we are taking the next 90 days to re-evaluate our location decision," Boyle wrote.
Since moving the 50 employees downtown, workers immediately reported being harassed and threatened by homeless individuals near the new offices.
Small businesses in downtown Portland say they are being forced to close as the increasing homeless population drives away customers. (FOX12)
"A few days ago, one of our employees had to run into traffic when a stranger outside our office followed her and threatened to kill her," he wrote. "On other occasions our employees have arrived at work only to be menaced by individuals camping in the doorway."
Besides face-to-face encounters, employees have also been the target of so many car break-ins the company has started to refer to parking downtown as its "laptop donor program," according to Boyle.
"Given these experiences, it is a relief when the only thing we are dealing with is the garbage and human waste by our front door. Think about that for a minute."
- Columbia Sportswear CEO Tim Boyle "Given these experiences, it is a relief when the only thing we are dealing with is the garbage and human waste by our front door. Think about that for a minute," he wrote.
For some small business owners in the City of Roses, the increasing homeless population has already proved to be too much to handle.
Judith Arnell told FOX12 Oregon earlier this month the decision to close her business, Judith Arnell Jewelers, came from a mix of panhandling and concerns over the safety of her employees and clients.
Businesses in Portland are beginning to consider pulling out of the city due to the homeless population. (FOX12)
''It's very difficult to do business here right now. Our customers are afraid to come in,'' she said.
HOMELESS PEOPLE DEFECATING ON LA STREETS FUELS HORROR HEPATITIS OUTBREAK, AS CITY FAULTED
Arnell has been doing business in Portland for more than 20 years, but the dramatic decrease in sales as the homeless population has grown has sent her packing. A few months ago, the store's surveillance cameras caught a man defecating right in front of their doors.
''The biggest problem is that the customers feel unsafe, so I can't afford to save this,'' she told FOX 12.
Another owner of a boutique in the Pearl District near downtown said a man threatened her life when she confronted him as he stole items from a clothing rack outside.
''Everybody saw it,'' Anne Bocci, the owner of Anne Bocci Boutique, told FOX12. ''Everybody saw it and everybody called the police.''
Portland Police are increasing patrols in shopping areas to deter crime this holiday season. (FOX12)
Bocci said the man came back later and threatened her life once more.
''It's just really hard for businesses,'' she said. ''It's just really hard for everybody.''
Boyle told The Oregonian he met with Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler to discuss his concerns and, while he is a "big fan" of the mayor, the decision on whether the Sorel office will stay or go is about the "well-being of our employees."
"If we can't be assured we're moving in the right direction, we're going to have to make a move," he told the newspaper.
Increasing police patrols is one way Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler is trying to stem the tide of thefts. (FOX 12)
A representative from the mayor's office told FOX12 he is ''dedicated to improving public safety'' in the area.
''As we prepare for the holiday shopping season, the Mayor is dedicated to improving public safety in the downtown business district," the statement said. "People from around the region and beyond come Downtown for a great retail, culinary, and cultural experience. We are working with our partners in the business community to provide visitors a great experience this holiday season.''
On Saturday, officials with Portland Police told FOX12 they were increasing patrols in shopping areas in all three precincts in an effort to deter crime during the holiday season. Officers are also working to educate shoppers on keeping their vehicles ''showroom clean'' to deter would-be thieves, according to FOX12.
VIDEO - Dalhousie offers 'emergency hijab kits' for women facing violence on campus - Nova Scotia - CBC News
Thu, 30 Nov 2017 14:22
Dalhousie University is now offering "emergency hijab kits" to women who need a replacement, amid reports of Muslim students being attacked for their religion and having their headdresses yanked off.
The president of the Dalhousie Student Union said she knows a number of women on campus who have told her they were victims of such violence, although few decide to tell school officials.
"This is a proactive measure, but it's not unfounded," Amina Abawajy said.
Anyone who quickly needs a new hijab can call Dalhousie security services, which will deliver a kit to them anywhere on campus. The kits include a piece of fabric, pins, a small guide on how to wrap the hijab and important numbers for reporting such crimes.
The Dalhousie Student Union and Nova Scotia Public Interest Research Group are behind the project, which was launched after many students said they were concerned for their safety following the shooting earlier this year at a Quebec City mosque.
"We were hearing a lot of concerns, specifically from Muslim women wearing the hijab, so we responded by creating this emergency hijab kit," Abawajy said.
The kit was introduced about a week ago and includes tips for bystanders who witness a woman having her hijab pulled off. No incidents of violence have been reported to the university.
Abawajy said she previously was told of cases on campus and off.
"I don't know if they have been necessarily reported, but just by being a member of the Muslim community, people have come to me and let me know."
The emergency hijab kits include a piece of fabric, pins, a small guide on how to wrap the hijab and important numbers for reporting crimes. (Steve Lawrence/CBC)
Another aim of the kits is to help people become more aware of violence faced by women who wear hijabs, according to Clark MacIntosh, a co-ordinator with the Nova Scotia Public Interest Research Group.
"Our hope is that by having these replacement head coverings available, students might feel more comfortable reporting crimes against them," MacIntosh said.
Abawajy started wearing a hijab when she was in Grade 9 and said she has experienced Islamophobia growing up in Halifax.
"Walking down the streets, I have people telling me not to bomb them and to go home," she said.
She also said she still has people who welcome her to Canada, even though she was born in this country.
"It seems innocent and welcoming, but what that says is that you don't look like you could be Canadian."
The kits are available at the Nova Scotia Public Interest Research Group office, Dalhousie Student Union information desk and 24/7 through Dal Security.
"I already heard a lot of positive feedback from the community, and personally I do feel safe knowing that these are in places such as security," Abawajy said.
There has also been demand for the kits from various faculties at the university that have asked they be available in their buildings.
"We are excited that communities are stepping up and ensuring that Muslims are feeling safe," Abawajy said.
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Thu, 30 Nov 2017 13:48
VIDEO - 'Black Pete' appearance cancelled over backlash, Dutch shop says - Ottawa - CBC News
Thu, 30 Nov 2017 13:45
Customers of a Dutch grocery store are fuming that a controversial holiday character will not make an appearance at an annual party amid an uproar from others that call the tradition racist.
Ottawa's Dutch Groceries and Giftware on Clyde Avenue said in a Facebook post on Wednesday they are dropping St. Nicholas' sidekick Zwarte Piet, also referred to as "Black Pete," from the party on Saturday.
According to Dutch tradition, Zwarte Piet, is often represented by white people in blackface and frizzy wigs.
Many people with roots in the Netherlands say Black Pete is a harmless children's character, but others say it's a racist caricature of black people.
'It's not racist': Dutch store customers react to uproar over 'Black Pete'0:45
The grocery store said this is the first year they have been asked to change their event after complaints from the public.
"For more than 60 years the Dutch Groceries store has brought this great tradition to Ottawa by welcoming Sint Nicolaas and Zwarte Piet in the store," its owners Henk and Jos(C) van Zijl wrote Tuesday in a Facebook post.
"Children, parents and grandparents get the chance to meet the bishop and his assistant and to enjoy gifts and candy. More than 100 children usually come to the store on the first Saturday in December."
"The Ottawa protesters have threatened us with actions which would make this fun event impossible," they wrote on Facebook, without elaborating on what these threats were.
'‹CBC News has reached out to the van Zijls for comment.
C(C)sar Nd(C)ma-Moussa, president of the Caribbean Union of Canada, helped to start a petition against the event, which prompted the cancellation of Zwarte Piete.
"[He's] a slave-era representation of the discrimination and racism against blacks '... with the usual stereotypes of blackface, big lips and a clumsy character," said Nd(C)ma-Moussa.
C(C)sar Nd(C)ma-Moussa, right, president of the Caribbean Union of Canada, says Black Pete is racist and goes against Canadian values. (Patrick Louiseize/CBC)
The van Zijls said they would revisit the issue next year, but Nd(C)ma-Moussa said he hopes Black Pete is gone for good, and that Dutch stores across Canada stop selling Black Pete merchandise.
"It's being sold to children as a normal thing with the narrative of a helper who got a black face because he went down the chimney," he said.
"These are just failed attempts to mask racism because it sells, because people are buying into it, and this is why we have to stand up to it."
'A very nice tradition'But some customers who were at the store Wednesday were shocked to hear Black Peter's appearance had been cancelled.
"I'm very upset that they will disturb this children's tradition.... It's unbelievable," said customer Jenny Van Oosteen outside the shop.
"It's a very nice tradition for little children.... And if I can remember when I was a child and they would have said there's no more Sinterklaas and Zwarte Piet, I would have cried my heart out."
"I'm very upset. We will still carry on that tradition with my family and my grandchildren," said Anna Russell.
Black Pete school appearance also cancelledThe petition, launched by the Caribbean Union and anti-racism group Solidarity Ottawa, took aim at another weekend event.
It said the Ottawa Dutch School has an annual party with Black Pete in December.
The school is part of the Ottawa Catholic School Board's international languages program.
A school board spokesperson said Wednesday afternoon that Black Pete will not make an appearance at that party, either.
"Out of respect for diversity and heritages of all our students and their families, our International Languages Program event this weekend will not involve Black Peter from the Dutch Christmas tradition," wrote Jonathan Juane in an email.
Juane did not confirm whether the character has been part of past parties at the school.
VIDEO - Uzbekistan incident raises suspicions of Russian involvement in Cuba attacks - CBS News
Thu, 30 Nov 2017 12:44
Last Updated Nov 28, 2017 4:27 PM EST
Updated with response from State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert.
A newly revealed incident reported by a USAID officer who is based at the American embassy in Uzbekistan is raising suspicions Russia may have been involved and could have had a hand in bizarre attacks targeting U.S. diplomats in Cuba , according to American sources.
In September, the officer and his wife reported, according to one source familiar with the incident, what may have been at least one acoustic attack similar to those experienced by the diplomats in Havana.
The first Cuba attacks began in November 2016, and the last report of an attack was in August 2017. Victims of the attacks in Cuba describe hearing a loud, high-pitched sound often described like a hiss of cicadas or crickets in unusual places'--often in their homes.
The State Department declined to describe in detail the incident in Tashkent.
"We aren't going to discuss 'Ževery case individually," a spokesperson said.
Victims of the attacks in Cuba were diagnosed with hearing loss, brain injuries, cognitive issues and other conditions.
The source says the two suffered similar effects and were flown out of Tashkent by the State Department to be evaluated. It is unclear what further diagnosis or care they have had following their departure from Uzbekistan.
'Ž"We take seriously the health concerns of USG personnel anywhere in the world," the State Department spokesperson told CBS News. "We ensure our personnel are examined and receive appropriate treatment."
On Tuesday afternoon, State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said, "We can confirm that there was no incident in Uzbekistan."
USAID, a U.S. government agency that provides foreign assistance in more than 100 countries, maintains its Uzbekistan headquarters office at the American embassy in Tashkent. Its work focuses mainly on agriculture and trade. It referred CBS News inquiries on the incident to the State Department. Although USAID is an independent agency, it works closely with the State Department.
USAID's Country Director in Tashkent Gary Robbins, referred CBS News to an embassy spokesman who offered no more details. Messages to USAID's Deputy Country Director were not returned.
The Central Asian country was once part of the USSR. It declared independence in 1991 during the collapse of the Soviet Union. However, it maintains strong ties with Russia. The two countries held joint military drills in October, their first together in 12 years. Uzbekistan is also considering re-joining the Russian-led military bloc Collective Security Treaty Organization, from which it withdrew in 2012 under long-time President Islom Karimov who died in 2016.
Russia has sought to capitalize on relations with Karimov's successor, President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, at the expense of the U.S.
Now, two U.S. security sources say the September incident in Tashkent raises concerns Russia may be involved, and could have had a hand in the attacks targeting U.S. government personnel in Cuba-another country where Russia has also exerted growing influence.
"The Russians have been rebuilding their relationship'--it deteriorated dramatically after the end of the Cold War," according to William Leogrande, a foreign policy professor at American University who focuses on Cuba. Now, "They have a strong presence in Cuba and an historic relationship with Cuban intelligence that might give them the kind of freedom to operate that would provide an opportunity."
Russia has denied any role in the attacks.
Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova called suggestions about Russia's involvement "absurd" at a press briefing in Moscow August 31, and said "this does not help the normalization of the bilateral relations" between the U.S. and Russia.
"We are ready to help the Cuban side investigate the matter and determine the facts," she said.
The State Department refused to publicly comment on whether it would welcome Russia's involvement in the investigation into the Cuba attacks.
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Rep. Kildee: "Appropriate" for Conyers to...
Congressman John Conyers has stepped down from his powerful perch as Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee. His colleague in the House, Representative Dan Kildee, reacts to this development live.
MSNBC Live with Alex Witt
11/26/17
Duration: 4:10
VIDEO - President Donald Trump makes statement on North Korea missile launch, tax reform: Special Report - YouTube
Wed, 29 Nov 2017 02:03
VIDEO - Richard Branson responds to claim that he sexually assaulted Joss Stone's backing singer - NME
Wed, 29 Nov 2017 01:40
Richard Branson has responded to accusations of sexual assault made by Joss Stone's backing singer, saying that he has ''no recollection'' of the alleged incident but apologises if he made anyone feel ''uncomfortable''.
Backing singer Antonia Jenae, 44, has accused Virgin founder and billionaire Branson of inappropriate behaviour at a party held on Necker Island, an island privately owned by Branson in the British Virgin Islands, in 2010. Jenae claims to have attended the party with Stone after the pair played the Go Green festival on the nearby island of Tortola.
Jenae accuses Branson of ''motorboating'' her breasts and begging her to take her top off. ''It was surreal, totally out of the blue,'' Jenae told The Sun. ''Joss and I were like, 'What the hell was that?!' Everyone was wondering why I wasn't angry because I'm usually a firebrand. But I was just too shocked.''
''His behaviour was disgusting. I feel like it was sexual assault,'' Jenae added. ''This needs to stop. I want everyone else to know what Richard Branson did. I don't want him to do this to anyone else. He is a man in a powerful position.''
A spokesperson for Branson has said: ''Joss Stone, members of her family and band were invited to Necker in June 2010. Everyone appeared to enjoy their time. Richard has no recollection of this matter. Neither do his family and friends who were with him at the time. There would never have been any intention to offend or make anyone feel uncomfortable. Richard apologises if anyone felt that way.''
Stone hasn't addressed the claims but the Virgin spokesperson released an additional statement from the singer's father Richard Stoker, who was also among the guests. Stoker said: ''Joss and the group had a wonderful afternoon. Everybody entered into the party spirit. It was wonderful getting to know Richard and his family.''
VIDEO - Ex-Clinton Foundation Official Tied To Chinese Kindergarten Embroiled In Bizarre Sexual Abuse Scandal | Zero Hedge
Sun, 26 Nov 2017 15:54
Content originally published at iBankCoin.com
A former Clinton Foundation official who is now an independent director at a company which operates private schools in China has found himself embroiled in a bizarre child abuse scandal involving needles, pills, ''brown syrup,'' nudity, and sexual molestation, according to parents.
The head of a Beijing kindergarten has been fired after China launched a nationwide investigation into a chain of private schools operated by RYB Education Inc. ($RYB) following claims of abuse at multiple locations. Parents report at least 8 toddlers with mysterious needle marks, while others said their children were forced to take white pills that were supposed to be ''a little secret'' between the children and teachers, along with some sort of ''brown syrup'' given to the students. Children were also allegedly stripped naked and forced to stand, or locked in a dark room, one parent said.
An unidentified mother who made a viral video about the abuse told reporters Thursday that her son was was injected with a brown liquid by a teacher and made to strip along with other students before being ''examined'' by a naked adult male stranger, describing it as an "action like sexual intercourse." When the mother pressed the principal to allow her to review closed circuit footage from the school, she was denied.
Medeical examination of eight children confirmed that the injuries were in fact caused by needles, Guanzhuang police report.
Furious parents gathered in front of RYB Education New World Kindergarten on Friday demanding answers, while China's Xinhua news agency reports that children were also sexually molested.
The Beijing kindergarten at the heart of the controversy is located next to a large military base, sparking rumors that military officials had been sexually abusing the children. Notably, the husband of the kindergarten's director was previously an official at the base, however Fun Junfeng, the base's political commissioner told PLA daily that there was ''no evidence'' that military personnel are involved in the abuse.
Mail Online reports:
Li Jing, mother of a three-year-old girl, told AFP her daughter had not been abused but said other children had explained how they were coerced into taking pills.
''Other kids were saying it's not to be called taking a pill, but a reward. And the pill is not to be called a pill, but a jelly bean, and is a little secret between the child and the teacher,'' Li said.
''I asked my child after I heard what other parents said and my child said that they had taken two white pills after lunch, and slept after eating the pills,'' one father told CCTV outside the school on Thursday.
These latest allegations are not the first involving RYB schools. In April, the head of a different RYB kindergarten in Beijing was suspended after admitting that teachers had made ''severe mistakes'' when videos emerged of children being thrown and kicked in the back. In October, 2016 two teachers from an RYB kindergarten in the northeast Julin province were sentenced to 34 months in prison after jabbing children in the buttocks, head, and insides of their mouths with sewing needles.
Link to the Clinton Foundation
RYB Education operates 80 kindergartens and has another 175 franchised locations across 130 cities in China, according to filings. All of it's directors are all Chinese, with the exception of former Clinton Foundation executive and associate dean at Yale, Joel Getz, 52, who is listed as an Independent Director.
Mr. Joel A. Getz is Independent Director of the Company. Prior to that, Mr. Getz served as Director of Development for the William J. Clinton Foundation in New York and was President of the Mayor's Fund to Advance New York City.
The RYB Investor Relations page lists Getz as a member of the Audit Committee and the Compensation Committee.
Bill Bishop of the Sinocism China Newsletter and Axios contributor points out that it's a bit odd that an Associate Dean at Yale would be on the board of directors of a Chinese kindergarten chain, suggesting that perhaps Getz thought it would be ''easy money.''
Shares of RYB plummeted on Friday after the investigation was announced, falling over 42% in early trade only to recover slightly, ending the day down 38.41%.
VIDEO - Growing number of politicians inside Merkel's CDU party calling for resignation amid chaos | World | News | Express.co.uk
Sun, 26 Nov 2017 01:55
The shock revelation comes just as Angela Merkel sets her sights on Martin Schulz's Social Democrat Party to save her from enduring another election.
Mrs Merkel's previous attempt at forming a government collapsed last week when coalition talks failed to reach an agreement.
Stefanie Bolzen, who reports for German paper Die Welt, told the BBC that those inside her own CDU party calling for her to resign were becoming more vocal.
BBC
The people inside her own CDU party calling for her to resign are getting louder She explained that Germany had not faced a political crisis like this for decades and "anything could now happen".
Despite assumptions that Mrs Merkel, who continues to lead the country as interim Chancellor, will eventually form a new government, Bolzen said this was increasingly in doubt.
She told BBC's Dateline programme: "Even if Schulz goes into talks with Merkel, current polling shows a majority of members SPD do not want this, and they will need to vote on this.
"This means even if the elite and leadership want it, another grand coalition is unlikely.
"At the moment, Merkel is watching the other parties collapsing, but she has to be careful because there are voices growing every day in the CDU calling for new leadership."
German election: Photos from the election Mon, September 25, 2017 REUTERS
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Demonstrators scuffle with police during the protest against the anti-immigration party Alternative for Deutschland AfD, after German general election (Bundestagswahl) in Berlin
There are growing voices every day in the CDU calling for new leadership
Stefanie Bolzen
This follows remarks earlier today when Chancellor Merkel set out her latest path to forming a stable government.
Merkel's fourth term was cast into doubt when the pro-business Free Democrats walked out of talks with her conservative bloc and the Greens last Sunday, causing a political crisis in Europe's biggest economy.
This morning, she told party officials: "Europe needs a strong Germany, it is desirable to get a government in place quickly.
"Asking voters to go to the polls again would, I think, be totally wrong."
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See today's front and back pages, download the newspaper, order back issues and use the historic Daily Express newspaper archive.
VIDEO - This family bet it all on bitcoin
Sun, 26 Nov 2017 01:44
Didi Taihuttu, his wife, three kids and their cat bet all they have on bitcoin. The Dutch family of five is in the process of selling pretty much everything they own '-- from their 2,500-square-foot house, to their shoes '' and trading it in for the popular cryptocurrency. They have moved to a campsite in the Netherlands, where they're waiting for bitcoin to really take off.
It's only been a few months, but the 39-year-old father of three says he doesn't regret a thing. "We were just like '' sell it, sell it, what can we lose? Yeah, we can lose all the material stuff. Yeah, we can lose all our money. Yeah, we don't have three cars anymore. We don't have the motorcycle anymore. But in the end, I think we, as a family, will still be happy and just enjoying life."
He once mined for bitcoin, but now only trades it, along with other cryptocurrencies like ether, ripple, neo, dogecoin and XLM. The family is still in the process of liquidating assets and investing the proceeds in cryptocurrencies as they go. The income from trading is enough for food and necessities, which the family says is all it needs right now.
VIDEO - Hillary: I Wish the Government's Servers Were As Secure As Mine Was (VIDEO) | True Pundit
Sun, 26 Nov 2017 01:29
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On Wednesday's ''Hugh Hewitt Show,'' former Democratic presidential nominee and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated she wished the government ''had had as high a level of security as there was on the server I used.''
Hewitt asked Clinton about her private email server being compromised by a foreign intelligence service. She responded that there is ''no evidence'' that this ever happened.
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VIDEO - CRACKS IN THE EU: The eight favourites to follow Britain in leaving the bloc | World | News | Express.co.uk
Sat, 25 Nov 2017 19:33
Amid growing unease about the federalist project, speculation has arisen that countries like Hungary or Poland could be next to leave the bloc, HTIC reports.
Bookmakers William Hill have brought out a series of odds on which country could be next to bow out of the EU.
There's the option of making some pretty dicey bets on countries that seem secure in the EU - like Luxembourg at 150/1, Latvia at 100/1, or Belgium at 66/1.
But if you want a safer bet, these eight countries are considered the most likely to leave the EU next.
Related articles 'ABSURD' Liam Fox rages at Brussels and accuses EU of acting like gang British MEP says divorce bill shows how UK is not ready for trade 8 - Denmark
Like Britain in the EU, Denmark has constantly demanded exceptions from EU law.
It uses its own currency, the krone, after opting out of the Eurozone in a decisive referendum.
Then-Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt also managed to negotiate a budgetary rebate for Denmark in October 2012.
And it has been warned by the EU for breaching the Schengen treaty - a move that shows a lot more independent-mindedness than the EU typically appreciates.
William Hill gives 16/1 odds on Denmark being next to quit.
Getty
Brexit could tear the EU apart with other countries more likely to depart than ever, too 7 - Czech Republic
Czech elections in October were characterised by the rise of the far-right, anti-European Freedom and Direct Democracy party, who won 22 seats, entering parliament for the first time.
And Eurosceptic ODS became the country's second-largest party, meaning there's significant representation for anti-EU politicians in Czech Republic's parliament.
The bookmaker gives 16/1 odds on Czech Republic being next to quit.
Getty
An odd couple - Czech president Andrej Babis with EU's Verhofstadt 6 - Ireland
Britain's Europhile neighbour might not seem like the most likely candidate to quit the EU immediately.
After Taoiseach Leo Varadkar threatened to stall Brexit negotiations without guarantees on a hard border, Ireland seems pretty committed to the bloc.
However, as the impacts of Brexit on the EU become clearer, it's likely Ireland will be one of the hardest-hit countries.
If its economy is sunk by Britain leaving the trading bloc, Ireland could be the first country to follow us out of the Union.
William Hill gives 12/1 odds on Ireland being next to quit.
Getty
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar could be the first to lead his country out of the EU after Theresa May 5 - Hungary
61 percent of Hungarians have a favourable view of the EU, according to a 2016 poll by the Pew Research Centre which asked 10,491 EU citizens for their views on the bloc.
However, the same cannot be said of the country's leader, Viktor Orbn, or its ruling party, Fidesz.
Mr Orbn's virulently anti-immigration party is no fan of European freedom of movement, and has clashed with the EU leadership more than once.
He is set to win re-election later this year - which could give him a mandate to retreat from Europe.
William Hill gives 12/1 odds on Hungary being next to quit.
Getty
Hungary's anti-EU leader Viktor Orban could cause problems 4 - France
As Emmanuel Macron steps into the spotlight as the new figurehead of the EU, France might seem like the epitome of a Europhile country.
But his prominence in the EU masks widespread dissent with the federalist project across France, as well as concerns about free movement.
The Pew Research Centre poll in 2016 showed that 61 percent of French have a negative view of the EU.
And Marine Le Pen's success with voters in the presidential election shows plenty are tempted by anti-EU, anti-globalisation views.
William Hill gives 10/1 odds on France being next to quit.
Getty
Emmanuel Macron may be the poster boy for federalism but France is not convinced 3 - Sweden
The rise of Euroscepticism in Sweden is tipping the balance to an overall unfavourable view of the EU, the Pew survey shows.
In 2016, 44 percent of Swedes had an unfavourable view of the EU, while 54 percent looked on the block favourably.
William Hill gives 10/1 odds on Sweden being next to quit.
Nations putting the EU in danger Mon, October 23, 2017 AFP/Getty Images
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Austria: The hard-Right Freedom Party (FPO) has previously been accused of xenophobia and racism
2 - Italy
A total of 59 per cent of Italians have a positive view of the EU, while 39 per cent see it in a negative light.
That might seem pretty Europhile, but the growth of the country's Five Star Movement (MS5) would suggest there are some deeper issues.
Polls suggest MS5 could become the largest party in the next election - dramatically raising the odds of 'Quitaly'.
William Hill gives 5/2 odds on Italy being next to quit.
Getty
Beppe Grillo's Five Star Movement could become the largest party 1 - Greece
Unsurprisingly, given its well-documented Euro woes, Greece tops the list of countries likely to be next to quit the EU.
Greece has already contemplated leaving the European single currency, back in 2015, when a summer of dissent resulted in bank closures and economic downturn.
The official position is that there's no leaving the Euro without leaving the EU.
However that may not bother most Greeks, as 71 per cent said they had an unfavourable view of the EU in the Pew Research poll.
William Hill gives 2/1 odds on Greece being next to quit.
All odds were correct as of November 25, 2017.
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VIDEO - UK facing longest fall in living standards for over 60 years, finds think tank
Sat, 25 Nov 2017 14:12
The UK is on course for the longest period of falling living standards since records began, according to a leading think tank.
The Resolution Foundation said data released in the Budget showed British are families suffering the biggest squeeze in their finances since the 1950s.
It explained in a report published this morning that the UK economy will be £42bn smaller in 2022 than we thought it would be in March after official data indicated dismal growth forecasts in coming years.
The data was released by the Office for Budget Responsibility alongside Chancellor Philip Hammond's Budget statement in the Commons, which saw him announce £25bn in extra spending to prop up the economy.
Director of the Resolution Foundation Torsten Bell, said: ''Following years of incremental changes, yesterday the OBR handed down the mother of all economic downgrades pushing up borrowing for the Treasury.
''While Philip Hammond chose to take a relaxed approach to additional borrowing, families are unlikely to do so when it comes to the deeply troubling outlook for their living standards that the Budget numbers set out.
''Families are now projected to be in the early stages of the longest period of continuous falls in disposable incomes in over 60 years '' longer even than that following the financial crisis.''
23 November 2017Shoppers pass a promotional sign for 'Black Friday' sales discounts on Oxford Street AFP/Getty Images
22 November 2017Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Phillip Hammond poses with the budget box at 11 Downing Street EPA
21 November 2017Protestors hold up a banner during a protest held in solidarity with the University of London cleaners' strike Petros Elia
20 November 2017British Prime Minister Theresa May greets Ghana's President Nana Akufo-Addo outside number 10 Downing Street Getty
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19 November 2017Grigor Dimitrov reacts to winning the Men's Singles Final with the trophy, during day eight of the NITTO ATP World Tour Finals at the O2 Arena in London PA
18 November 2017Central Scotland MSP Richard Leonard is congratulated by Glasgow MSP Anas Sarwar at the Glasgow Science Centre after he was announced as the new leader of Scottish Labour Jane Barlow/PA
17 November 2017British Military Working Dog Mali poses for a photograph with his handler, Cpl. Daniel Hatley, after receiving the PDSA Dickin Medal, the animal equivalent of the Victoria Cross, for his heroic action in Afghanistan Reuters
16 November 2017Theresa May chats with resident Val Lay during a visit to a housing estate in London AFP/Getty
15 November 2017Richard Radcliffe leaves the Foreign Office with his local MP Tulip Siddiq, following a meeting with Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson Marc Ward/REX
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14 November 2017Four-time Olympic champion Sir Mo Farah after being awarded a Knighthood by Queen Elizabeth II PA
13 November 2017Restoration work continues on the Palace of Westminster Photographs by Reuters/Getty/iStock
12 November 2017A veteran takes his hat off during the Remembrance Sunday Cenotaph wreathe laying ceremony REUTERS
11 November 2017Members of the Western Front Association during a service at the Cenotaph to mark the Armistice Day EPA
10 November 2017David Davis and Michel Barnier REUTERS
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9 November 2017Britain's newly appointed Secretary of State for International Development, Penny Mordaunt, leaves Downing Street AP
8 November 2017Priti Patel leaves number 10 Downing street through the back entrance EPA
7 November 2017School children and their teacher from Thomas Tallis School look at pictures on display at the Red Star Over Russia exhibition at the Tate Modern in London Philip Toscano/PA
6 November 2017A cast of The Wrestlers, two men taking part in the Greek sport pankration, is lowered into place at Natural Trust's Stowe Landscape Garden near Buckingham PA
5 November 2017Protesters in Trafalgar Square, London, during the Million Mask March bonfire night protest PA
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4 November 2017Protestors take part in the 'Justice Now: Make it Right for Palestine' march, organised by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, in central London PA
3 November 2017People queue outside an Apple store in London to purchase the new iPhone X upon its release in the U.K. The iPhone X is positioned as a high-end, model intended to showcase advanced technologies such as wireless charging, OLED display, dual cameras and a face recognition unlock system Getty
2 November 2017British Prime Minister Theresa May greets Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu outside 10 Downing Street in London. The pair are today celebrating the centenary of a British declaration that ultimately led to the foundation of the state of Israel Getty
1 November 2017Mammatus clouds over St Mary's Lighthouse in Whitley Bay, Northumberland Owen Humphreys/PA
31 October 2017Women protest outside Downing Street as they join a demonstration demanding rights for working mothers Getty Images
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30 October 2017England's under 17's pose with the World Cup trophy as they arrive back to the UK PA
29 October 2017Leicester City remembrance day fixture between between Leicester City and Everton at King Power Stadium Plumb Images/Leicester City FC via Getty Images
27 October 2017Spiderman steals a seat on the Iron Throne from Game of Thrones at MCM London Comic Con's opening day Rex Features
26 October 2017British fashion designer Vivienne Westwood holds up a paper against the governments policy on fracking outside Downing Street in London AFP/Getty
24 October 2017Members of a delegation of indigenous and rural community leaders from 14 countries in Latin America and Indonesia, The Guardians of the Forest campaign, demonstrate against deforestation in London during a stop on their way to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties 23 (COP 23) in Bonn, Germany Tolga Akmen/AFP/Getty
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23 October 2017Gemma Davis, 23, cleans the dolls' house during it's annual clean at the National Trust's Calke Abbey property, in Ticknall, Derbyshire. The dolls' house was used by the family's various generations of children between 1860 and the Second World War in their school room PA
18 October 2017Prince William and Kate chat with West Ham player Mark Noble and manager Slaven Bilic during the Coach Core graduation ceremony Getty Images
17 October 2017Jellyfish washed up on Sidmouth beach after storm Ophelia hit the UK Getty Images
16 October 2017A red sun appears in Mid-Wales before storm Ophelia hits Paul Williams / Alamy Live News
15 October 2017The Duchess of Cambridge dances with Paddington Bear as they attend a charities forum event at Paddington train station in London on October 16, 2017. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry joined children from the charities they support on board Belmond British Pullman train at Paddington Station. The event was hosted by STUDIOCANAL, with support from BAFTA through its BAFTA Kids programme, and before embarking Their Royal Highnesses met the cast and crew from the forthcoming film Paddington 2 AFP/Getty Images
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15 October 2017Large waves crash along sea defences and the harbour as storm Ophelia approaches Porthleven in Cornwall, south west Britain REUTERS
14 October 2017Hillary Clinton gives a speech as she is presented with a Honorary Doctorate of Law at Swansea University in Swansea, Wales. The former US secretary of state and 2016 American presidential candidate is also visiting the UK to promote her new book, 'What Happened' Matthew Horwood/Getty
13 October 2017A lone protestor demonstrates outside Workmen Cuadrilla's shale gas fracking drilling rig near Westby in Blackpool. Engineers have begun to build the new rig at the site off Preston New Road in preparation for extracting gas. The site will be the first in the UK to extract shale gas since 2011 Getty
11 October 2017Photographs of missing Syrians are displayed as people, including a group of Syrian women, stand atop a double-decker bus during a demonstration by 'Families for Freedom' in Parliament Square in London Getty
9 October 2017Workmen erect scaffolding around the Elizabeth Tower, commonly known called Big Ben, during ongoing renovations to the Tower and the Houses of Parliament AFP/Getty
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6 October 2017An order of service is carried ahead of the funeral service for Coronation Street actress Liz Dawn, real name Sylvia Ann Ibbetson, outside Salford Cathedral. A former Woolworths shop girl from Leeds, who first set foot on Weatherfield's famous cobbles in 1974, Dawn, who had four children, died peacefully last week at home with her family around her. PA
5 October 2017Melanie Kramers of Oxfam poses while wearing a mask of Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, with assorted props used in political campaigns, in the store room at Oxfam's headquarters in London. The props have all been used in the charity's campaigns over the years to raise awareness of issues affecting people in poverty. Today marks 75 years since Oxfam's founding in the middle of the Second World War Getty
4 October 2017A visitor poses in front of an art work by Czech Repblic artist Anna Hulacova entitled 'Ascension Mark I' during a photocall for the Frieze Art Fair in London AFP/Getty
2 October 2017Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond arrives to speak at the Conservative Party's conference in Manchester Reuters/Hannah McKay
1 October 2017Protesters holding flags and placards demonstrate along Oxford Street during the annual Ashura march in London. Thousands of protesters march through London today to mark Ashura and celebrate the defeat of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Ashura is a Muslim festival of remembrance that falls on the tenth day of Muharram in the Islamic calendar Jack Taylor/Getty
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30 September 2017Protesters hold up placards during the London March for Choice, calling for the legalising of abortion in Ireland after the referendum announcement, outside the Embassy of Ireland in central London Chris J Ratcliffe/AFP
29 September 2017Former UKIP leader Paul Nuttall (C) speaks with delegates at the UKIP annual conference being held at the The Riviera International Centre in Torquay Matt Cardy/Getty
27 September 2017England and West Indies fans enjoy themselves during the 4th Royal London One Day International between England and West Indies at The Kia Oval in London Mike Hewitt/Getty
26 September 2017Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn takes photographs during Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Rebecca Long-Bailey's speech in the main hall, on day three of the annual Labour Party Conference in Brighton Dan Kitwood/Getty Images
24 September 2017Naked bathers enter the water as they take part in the North East Skinny Dip at Druridge bay in Druridge, England. The popular annual event takes place around the autumn equinox at Druridge Bay as the sun rises. Participant registration fees have been pledged to the mental health charity MIND. Getty
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23 September 2017Rollo Maughfling, Archdruid of Stonehenge and Britain (R) conducts a ceremony as druids, pagans and revellers gather in the centre at Stonehenge, hoping to see the sun rise, as they take part in a autumn equinox celebrations at the ancient neolithic monument of Stonehenge near Amesbury in Wiltshire, England. Several hundred people gathered at sunrise ar the famous historic stone circle, a UNESCO listed ancient monument, to celebrate the equinox which is a specific moment in time that occurs twice a year when the Earth tilts neither towards (summer) or away (winter) from the sun in either the northern or southern hemisphere. Although yesterday marked the actual meteorological calendar change from summer to autumn, for druids, the following dawn is when they celebrate 'the dawning of the new season' following the day of equal night, which it is named after. Getty
22 September 2017Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May delivers her Brexit speech at the Complesso Santa Maria Novella in Florence, Italy. British Prime Minister Theresa May will seek to unlock Brexit talks on September 22, after Brussels demanded more clarity on the crunch issues of budget payments and EU citizens' rights AFP
21 September 2017People protest against the actions of the Spanish government in front of the Spanish consulate in Edinburgh. Spanish police stormed ministries and buildings belonging to Catalonia's regional government yesterday, in an attempt to try and put a stop to the region's independence referendum Pep Masip/Alamy
20 September 2017One of the final 55m turbine blades is manoeuvred into position. The last of 116 wind turbines have been installed at the Rampion Offshore Wind Farm 13 kms off the Brighton Coast. It will provide enough electricity to supply the equivalent of half the homes in Sussex Mike Hewitt/Getty Images
16 September 2017An armed police officer patrols in Horse Guards Parade in London. An 18-year-old man has been arrested in Dover in connection with yesterday's terror attack on Parsons Green station in which 30 people were injured. The UK terror threat level has been raised to 'critical' Jack Taylor/Getty Images
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13 September 2017Demonstrators hold banners during a protest to lobby MPs to guarantee the rights of EU citizens living in the UK, after Brexit, outside the Houses of Parliament Tolga Akmen/AFP
24 November 2017Ex-England footballer Michael Owen prior to riding in a charity race at Ascot racecourse Rex
The Foundation said that the current income squeeze is set to be longer, albeit shallower, than the post-crash squeeze, with real household disposable incomes set to fall for an unprecedented 19 successive quarters between 2015 and 2020.
It went on to say that despite the Chancellor's small changes to improve universal credit, tax and benefit policies announced since 2015 will push living standards down and increase inequality.
It added that the poorest third of households are set for an average loss of £715 a year by the end of the parliament, while the richest third gain an average of £185.
Mr Bell added: "Faced with a grim economic backdrop the Chancellor will see this Budget as a political success. But that would be cold comfort for Britain's families given the bleak outlook it paints for their living standards.
"Hopefully the OBR's forecasts will prove to be wrong because, while the first sentence of the Budget document reads 'the United Kingdom has a bright future', the brutal truth is: not on these forecasts it doesn't."
The Foundation also took a dim view of the Chancellor's plan to offer a stamp duty cut to young people trying to get on the housing ladder, which he argued could help a million people save on average more than a thousand pounds when buying a home.
The OBR said on Wednesday that it believed the number helped by the scheme would be closer to 3,500, and that it may have an upwards pressure on house prices, meaning the real beneficiaries of the policy would be existing homeowners.
The Resolution Foundation branded the move which was met with loud cheers in the Commons, "a very poor way to boost home ownership".
It said said the cumulative £3bn cost of the abolition of stamp duty for first time buyers could instead have supported the building of 40,000 social rented properties or around 140,000 homes through the government's own Housing Infrastructure Fund.
Mr Hammond hailed some £15bn in money for new housing, which as well as the stamp duty cut, included a fund to free up land for development, investment in council housebuilding, ''right to buy'' for housing association tenants and allowing local authorities to apply a 100 per cent council tax premium on empty properties.
The Chancellor also addressed criticism that benefit claimants were suffering hardship waiting for the new universal credit payment, by reducing the wait to five weeks, costing £1.5bn.
He also announced £2.5bn of investment to kickstart the UK's lacklustre productivity and invest over £500m in a range of initiatives from artificial intelligence, to 5G and full-fibre broadband.
VIDEO - Self-driving cars programmed to decide who dies in a crash
Sat, 25 Nov 2017 14:08
Todd Spangler, Detroit Free Press
7 seconds ago
WASHINGTON '-- Consider this hypothetical:
A Waymo minivan outfitted with self-driving sensors brakes suddenly for a black car that has backed out of a driveway without looking. The test was conducted at Waymo's testing facility in central California.
Waymo
It's a bright, sunny day and you're alone in your spanking new self-driving vehicle, sprinting along the two-lane Tunnel of Trees on M-119 high above Lake Michigan north of Harbor Springs. You're sitting back, enjoying the view. You're looking out through the trees, trying to get a glimpse of the crystal blue water below you, moving along at the 45-mile-an-hour speed limit.
As you approach a rise in the road, heading south, a school bus appears, driving north, one driven by a human, and it veers sharply toward you. There is no time to stop safely, and no time for you to take control of the car.
Does the car:
A. Swerve sharply into the trees, possibly killing you but possibly saving the bus and its occupants?
B. Perform a sharp evasive maneuver around the bus and into the oncoming lane, possibly saving you, but sending the bus and its driver swerving into the trees, killing her and some of the children on board?
C. Hit the bus, possibly killing you as well as the driver and kids on the bus?
In everyday driving, such no-win choices are may be exceedingly rare but, when they happen, what should a self-driving car '-- programmed in advance '-- do? Or in any situation '-- even a less dire one '-- where a moral snap judgment must be made?
It's not just a theoretical question anymore, with predictions that in a few years, tens of thousands of semi-autonomous vehicles may be on the roads. About $80 billion has been invested in the field. Tech companies are working feverishly on them, with Google-affiliated Waymo among those testing cars in Michigan, and mobility companies like Uber and Tesla racing to beat them. Automakers are placing a big bet on them. A testing facility to hurry along research is being built at Willow Run in Ypsilanti.
There's every reason for excitement: Self-driving vehicles will ease commutes, returning lost time to workers; enhance mobility for seniors and those with physical challenges, and sharply reduce the more than 35,000 deaths on U.S. highways each year.
But there are also a host of nagging questions to be sorted out as well, from what happens to cab drivers to whether such vehicles will create sprawl.
And there is an existential question:
Who dies when the car is forced into a no-win situation?
''There will be crashes,'' said Van Lindberg, an attorney in the Dykema law firm's San Antonio office who specializes in autonomous vehicle issues. ''Unusual things will happen. Trees will fall. Animals, kids will dart out.'' Even as self-driving cars save thousands of lives, he said, ''anyone who gets the short end of that stick is going to be pretty unhappy about it.''
Few people seem to be in a hurry to take on these questions, at least publicly.
It's unaddressed, for example, in legislation moving through Congress that could result in tens of thousands of autonomous vehicles being put on the roads. In new guidance for automakers by the U.S. Department of Transportation, it is consigned to a footnote that says only that ethical considerations are "important" and links to a brief acknowledgement that "no consensus around acceptable ethical decision-making" has been reached.
Whether the technology in self-driving cars is superhuman or not, there is evidence that people are worried about the choices self-driving cars will be programmed to take.
Last year, for instance, a Daimler executive set off a wave of criticism when he was quoted as saying its autonomous vehicles would prioritize the lives of its passengers over anyone outside the car. The company later insisted he'd been misquoted, since it would be illegal ''to make a decision in favor of one person and against another.''
Last month, Sebastian Thrun, who founded Google's self-driving car initiative, told Bloomberg that the cars will be designed to avoid accidents, but that ''If it happens where there is a situation where a car couldn't escape, it'll go for the smaller thing.''
But what if the smaller thing is a child?
How that question gets answered may be important to the development and acceptance of self-driving cars.
Azim Shariff, an assistant professor of psychology and social behavior at the University of California, Irvine, co-authored a study last year that found that while respondents generally agreed that a car should, in the case of an inevitable crash, kill the fewest number of people possible regardless of whether they were passengers or people outside of the car, they were less likely to buy any car ''in which they and their family member would be sacrificed for the greater good.''
Self-driving cars could save tens of thousands of lives each year, Shariff said. But individual fears could slow down acceptance, leaving traditional cars and their human drivers on the road longer to battle it out with autonomous or semi-autonomous cars. Already, the American Automobile Association says three-quarters of U.S. drivers are suspicious of self-driving vehicles.
''These ethical problems are not just theoretical,'' said Patrick Lin, director of the Ethics and Emerging Sciences Group at California Polytechnic State University, who has worked with Ford, Tesla and other autonomous vehicle makers on just such issues.
While he can't talk about specific discussions, Lin says some automakers ''simply deny that ethics is a real problem, without realizing that they're making ethical judgment calls all the time'' in their development, determining what objects the car will "see," how it will predict what those objects will do next and what the car's reaction should be.
Does the computer always follow the law? Does it slow down whenever it "sees" a child? Is it programmed to generate a random "human" response? Do you make millions of computer simulations, simply telling the car to avoid killing anyone, ever, and program that in? Is that even an option?
''You can see what a thorny mess it becomes pretty quickly,'' said Lindberg. ''Who bears that responsibility? '... There are half a dozen ways you could answer that question leading to different outcomes.''
The trolley problemAutomakers and suppliers largely downplay the risks of what in philosophical circles is known as ''the trolley problem'' '-- named for a no-win hypothetical situation in which, in the original format, a person witnessing a runaway trolley could allow it to hit several people or, by pulling a lever, divert it, killing someone else.
In the circumstance of the self-driving car, it's often boiled down to a hypothetical vehicle hurtling toward a crowded crosswalk with malfunctioning brakes: A certain number of occupants will die if the car swerves; a number of pedestrians will die if it continues. The car must be programmed to do one or the other.
Philosophical considerations, aside, automakers argue it's all but bunk '-- it's so contrived.
''I don't remember when I took my driver's license test that this was one of the questions,'' said Manuela Papadopol, director of business development and communications for Elektrobit, a leading automotive software maker and a subsidiary of German auto supplier Continental AG.
If anything, self-driving cars could almost eliminate such an occurrence. They will sense such a problem long before it would become apparent to a human driver and slow down or stop. Redundancies '-- for brakes, for sensors '-- will detect danger and react more appropriately.
''The cars will be smart '-- I don't think there's a problem there. There are just solutions," Papadopol said.
Alan Hall, Ford's spokesman for autonomous vehicles, described the self-driving car's capabilities '-- being able to detect objects with 360-degree sensory data in daylight or at night '-- as ''superhuman.''
''The car sees you and is preparing different scenarios for how to respond,'' he said.
Lin said that, in general, many self-driving automakers believe the simple act of braking, of slowing to a stop, solves the trolley problem. But it doesn't, such as in a theoretical case where you're being tailgated by a speeding fuel tanker.
Should government decide?Some experts and analysts believe solving the trolley problem could be a simple matter of regulators or legislators deciding in advance what actions a self-driving car should take in a no-win situation. But others doubt that any set of rules can capture and adequately react to every such scenario.
The question doesn't need to be as dramatic as asking who dies in a crash either. It could be as simple as deciding what to do about jaywalkers or where a car places itself in a lane next to a large vehicle to make its passengers feel secure or whether to run over a squirrel that darts into a road.
Chris Gerdes, who as director of the Center for Automotive Research at Stanford University has been working with Ford, Daimler and others on the issue, said the question is ultimately not about deciding who dies. It's about how to keep no-win situations from happening in the first place and, when they do occur, setting up a system for deciding who is responsible.
For instance, he noted California law requires vehicles to yield the crosswalk to pedestrians but also says pedestrians have a duty not to suddenly enter a crosswalk against the light. Michigan and many other states have similar statutes.
Presumably, then, there could be a circumstance in which the responsibility for someone darting into the path of an autonomous vehicle at the last minute rests with that person '-- just as it does under California law.
But that ''forks off into some really interesting questions," Gerdes said, such as whether the vehicle could potentially be programmed to react differently, say, for a child. "Shouldn't we treat everyone the same way?'' he asked. "Ultimately, it's a societal decision,'' meaning it may have to be settled by legislators, courts and regulators.
That could result in a patchwork of conflicting rules and regulations across the U.S. ''States would continue to have that ability to regulate how they operate on the road,'' said U.S. Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., one of the authors of federal legislation under consideration that would allow for tens of thousands of autonomous vehicles to be tested on U.S. highways in theyears to come. He says that while design and safety standards will rest with federal regulators, states will continue to impose traffic rules.
Peters acknowledged that it would be ''an impossible standard'' to eliminate all crashes. But he argued that people need to remember that autonomous vehicles will save tens of thousands of lives a year. In 2015, the consulting firm McKinsey & Co. said research indicated self-driving cars could reduce traffic fatalities by 90% once fully deployed. More than 37,000 people died in U.S. roads in 2016 -- the vast majority because of human error.
But researchers, automakers, academics and others understand something else about self-driving cars and the risks they may still pose, namely, that for all their promise to reduce accidents, they can't eliminate them.
''It comes back to whether you want to find ways to program in specifics or program in desired outcomes,'' said Gerdes. ''At the end of the day, you're still required to come up with what you want the desired outcomes to be and the desired outcome cannot be to avoid any accidents all the time.
''It becomes a little uncomfortable sometimes to look at that."
The hard questionsWhile some people in the industry, like Tesla's Elon Musk, believe fully autonomous vehicles could be on U.S. roads within a few years, others say it could be a decade or more '-- and even longer before the full promise of self-driving cars and trucks is realized.
The trolley problem is just one that has to be cracked before then.
There are others, like those faced by Daryn Nakhuda, CEO of Mighty AI, which is in the business of breaking down into data for self-driving cars all the objects they are going to need to ''see'' in order to predict and react. A bird flying at the window. A thrown ball. A mail truck parked so there is not enough space in the car's lane to pass without crossing the center line.
Automakers will have to decide what the car ''sees'' and what it doesn't. Seeing everything around it '-- and processing it '-- could be a waste of limited processing power. Which means another set of ethical and moral questions.
Then there is the question of how self-driving cars could be taught to learn and respond to the tasks they are given '-- the stuff of science fiction that seems about to come true.
While self-driving cars can be programmed '-- told what to do when that school bus comes hurtling toward them '--- there are other options. Through millions of computer simulations and data from real self-driving cars being tested, the cars themselves can begin to learn the "best" way to respond to a given situation.
For example, Waymo '-- Google's self-driving car arm '-- in a recent government filing said through trial and error in simulations, it's teaching its cars how to navigate a tricky left turn against a flashing yellow arrow at a real intersection in Mesa, Ariz. The simulations '-- not the programmers '-- determine when it's best to inch into the intersection and when it's best to accelerate through it. And the cars learn how to mimic real driving.
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Ultimately, through such testing, the cars themselves could potentially learn how best to get from Point A to Point B, just by having programmed them to discern what "best" means '-- say the fastest, safest, most direct route. Through simulation and data shared with real world conditions, the cars would "learn" and execute the request.
Here's where the science fiction comes in, however.
Playing 'Go'A computer programmed to ''learn'' how to play the ancient Chinese game of Go by just such a means is not only now beating grandmasters for the first time in history '-- and long after computers were beating grandmasters in chess '-- it is making moves that seem counterintuitive and inexplicable to expert human players.
What might that look like with cars?
At the American Center for Mobility in Ypsilanti, Mich., where a testing ground is being completed for self-driving cars, CEO John Maddox said vehicles will be able to put to the test what he calls ''edge'' cases that vehicles will have to deal with regularly '--such as not confusing the darkness of a tunnel with a wall or accurately predicting whether a person is about to step off a curb or not.
The facility will also play a role, through that testing, of getting the public used to the idea of what self-driving cars can do, how they will operate, how they can be far safer than vehicles operated by humans, even if some questions remain about their functioning.
''Education is critical,'' Maddox said. ''We have to be able to demonstration and illustrate how AVs work and how they don't work.''
As for the trolley problem, most automakers and experts expect some sort of standard to emerge '-- even if it's not entirely clear what it will be.
At SAE International '-- what was known as the Society of Automotive Engineers, a global standard-making group '-- Chief Product Officer Frank Menchaca said reaching a perfect standard is a daunting, if not impossible, task, with so many fluid factors involved in any accident: Speed. Situation. Weather conditions. Mechanical performance.
Even with that standard, there may be no good answer to the question of who dies in a no-win situation, he said. Especially if it's to be judged by a human.
''As human beings, we have hundreds of thousands of years of moral, ethical, religious and social behaviors programmed inside of us,'' he added. ''It's very hard to replicate that.''
VIDEO - Hillary Clinton says America is 'totally unprepared' for the impact of AI - The Verge
Sat, 25 Nov 2017 13:44
Hillary Clinton has warned that the US is ''totally unprepared'' for the economic and societal effects of artificial intelligence. Speaking to radio host Hugh Hewitt this week in an interview promoting her recent book, the former Secretary of State said the world was ''racing headfirst into a new era of artificial intelligence'' that would affect ''how we live, how we think, [and] how we relate to each other.''
In a short segment near the end of the interview, Clinton told Hewitt: ''A lot of really smart people, you know, Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Stephen Hawking, a lot of really smart people are sounding an alarm that we're not hearing. And their alarm is artificial intelligence is not our friend.'' Clinton then mentioned two specific areas of impact: digital surveillance (when ''everything we know and everything we say and everything we write is, you know, recorded somewhere'') and job automation.
''what do we do with the millions of people who will no longer have a job?''
''What are we going to do when we get driverless cars?'' she asked. ''It sounds like a great idea. And how many millions of people, truck drivers and parcel delivery people and cab drivers and even Uber drivers, what do we do with the millions of people who will no longer have a job? We are totally unprepared for that.''
A little confusingly, Clinton's remarks conflated a few separate focuses of AI anxiety. For example, although Musk and Hawking have sounded the alarm bells about artificial intelligence, they're primarily worried about the hypothetical threat from super-intelligent computers, not the near-term effects of automation. And while it's true that AI is being used increase the effectiveness of digital surveillance, this trend was established well before the contemporary machine learning boom. See, for example, the use of intrusive surveillance programs such as PRISM by the US government.
On the economic impact of AI, though, Clinton is right to be worried. For years, economists and academics have been warning that advances in machine learning and robotics are going to have a dramatic effect on job markets. The threat, they say, is not only to skilled and unskilled manual labor, but also white-collar professions like law and accounting. Although experts disagree on exactly how serious or long-lasting the effects will be, it's clear this is a problem that needs more attention. One recent study suggested that for every new industrial robot installed in a given commuting area, between 3 and 5.6 jobs are permanently lost.
And in the competition for AI supremacy with China '-- another area of concern for the US '-- experts are unanimous that the US is in danger of falling behind. This is a particular concern because of the Trump administration's determination to cut funding for basic scientific research. One expert described the proposed Republican budget plans as ''alarming and counterproductive,'' while Alphabet chairman Eric Schmidt said earlier this month the US government needs to ''get [its] act together'' before China overtakes for good.
In her interview, Clinton didn't discuss any details of specific policies she would like to see enacted, but said the government needed to act quickly. ''One thing I wanted to do if I had been president was to have a kind of blue ribbon commission with people from all kinds of expertise coming together to say what should America's policy on artificial intelligence be?'' She added: ''We can't put the genie back in the bottle.''
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