990: Skin Folk

Adam Curry & John C. Dvorak

2h 56m
December 14th, 2017
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Executive Producers: James Lawler, Michael Zimmermann, Genewitch, Chris Johnson, Anonymous

Associate Executive Producers: Laura Wilson, Jacquie P Harvey

Cover Artist: Comic Strip Blogger


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Net Neutrality
Google blocks Microsoft's new YouTube Windows Phone app - The Verge
Tue, 12 Dec 2017 13:42
Microsoft's recently released YouTube application for Windows Phone is being blocked by Google. In a statement issued to The Verge, Google confirms that the application has been blocked for violating the terms of use. Despite the two companies collaborating on an app based on HTML5, Microsoft's app is still breaking YouTube's terms of use. "Microsoft has not made the browser upgrades necessary to enable a fully-featured YouTube experience, and has instead re-released a YouTube app that violates our Terms of Service," says a Google spokesperson. "It has been disabled. We value our broad developer community and therefore ask everyone to adhere to the same guidelines."
The application was released earlier this week and was working for Windows Phone users before errors started to display. The Verge understands that Google simply revoked the API key Microsoft was attempting to use as the software giant had reverse-engineered YouTube's ad code. Microsoft's re-released app appears to have taken Google by surprise, despite the promise of a collaborative effort to build a Windows Phone YouTube application.
The Verge has reached out to Microsoft for comment, and we'll update you accordingly.
Update: Microsoft says it's working on resolving the issue with its updated YouTube app. "Google is blocking our updated YouTube app for Windows Phone," says a Microsoft spokesperson. "We are working with them to resolve the issue."
In Defense Of Net Neutrality, Internet Pioneers Accuse FCC Of Not Understanding Tech
Thu, 14 Dec 2017 10:11
On Thursday, the FCC will vote to eliminate regulations that prohibit internet service providers from blocking, slowing, or speeding up the delivery of data based on business relationships they have with the content providers. Having failed to sway the agency to change course, opponents are making a last-ditch effort to save neutrality by asking Congress to intervene'--at least delaying the vote until a few outstanding matters, like potentially a million fraudulent public comments, can be sorted out.
One group of petitioners is making an especially strong case to Congress: We know the FCC is wrong about the internet, because we created it. Today 21 tech giants'--including web inventor Tim Berners-Lee, TCP/IP co-creator Vint Cerf, public-key cryptography inventor Whitfield Diffie, and Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak'--sent an open letter to legislators.
Addressing the senior Republican and Democrat on the Senate and House committees overseeing the FCC, the letter includes some of the familiar concerns about the value of a free internet. But it also trashes Ajit Pai's plan on technical grounds, pointing to a 43-page paper close to 200 experts had submitted during the public comment period for his plan. ''It is important to understand that the FCC's proposed Order is based on a flawed and factually inaccurate understanding of Internet technology,'' reads the letter.
It all has to do with how you describe exactly what an ISP does.
In 2015, the Democratic-controlled FCC changed the game on net neutrality by labeling ISPs a ''telecommunications service.'' That allowed the FCC to tightly regulate them under a piece of U.S. law called Title II of the Communications Act of 1934. Until then, ISPs had been called an ''information service,'' which emphasized not that they moved data but that they provided enhanced features. That description worked in the 1990s to describe services like AOL, CompuServe, and Prodigy, says the experts' report. Those ISPs didn't just pass on information like a phone connection, they also provided services like email, chat rooms, and bulletin board systems.
High profile lawsuits brought by Comcast in 2010 and Verizon in 2013 prevented the FCC from regulating net neutrality if it continued to classify ISPs as information services. Hence the 2015 decision to call them telecommunication services'--glorified phone companies.
To undo net neutrality regulations, Pai's plan spends the first 52 of its 210 pages making the case that ISPs should return to the information service category. The gist is that ISPs still provide extra, enhanced services that go beyond passing information from one end of the wire to another, that they aren't just dumb pipes. With things like CompuServe bulletin boards and Verizon app stores in the dustbin of history, Pai had to reach pretty deep to find enhanced services that ISPs provide.
One he settled on is DNS. When you type ''google.com,'' for instance, a domain name server has to translate that to the numerical address in order to connect you with Google's servers. It's like a telephone operator for your computer''although that analogy wouldn't bolster the FCC's case. Consumers may not see DNS (if they even know it exists) as an added service on par with providing email or streaming video. It's a bit of plumbing in the dumb pipes; and not just the ISP's pipes, say the experts. Lots of services beyond the ISP provide DNS.
Another example cited by Pai is caching: Content like web pages may be stored on servers around the world to have copies closer to people. But this really isn't a job for ISPs anymore. Caching is handled increasingly by content delivery networks from dedicated services like Akamai or Cloudflare. Big media providers like Netflix run their own content delivery networks.
The engineers didn't spare the snark in their original report. ''Saying that ISPs provide an information service to their customers because they offer caching and webmail in addition to internet connectivity is like saying that airlines are in the business of providing an entertainment service because they offer in-flight movies in addition to transportation,'' they write.
With Ajit Pai having promised back in April that overturning net neutrality regulations is a ''fight that we are going to win,'' it's unlikely that a last-minute letter from a bunch of eggheads will force him to reconsider. But it will likely go on the pile of documents that Pai's opponents include in the inevitable lawsuits to follow this week's vote.
About the authorSean Captain is a technology journalist and editor. Follow him on Twitter @seancaptain.
New York Public Libraries: the proposal to kill net neutrality is 'appalling' - The Verge
Thu, 14 Dec 2017 11:14
This Thursday, the FCC is set to vote onameasure that would repeal net neutralityand transform the openness of the internet. The effort to repeal the Obama-era initiative has been mired with protests, a deeply flawed commenting period, and calls to halt the vote even from within the commission. Apollreleased just this week found that 83 percent of Americans do not approve of the move to kill net neutrality. EvenRepublican lawmakers arebreakingfrom their party tocallfor legislation that keeps net neutrality in place.
Regardless, Ajit Pai's FCC is expected to move forward with the vote tomorrow, and that has almost everyone who uses the internet concerned. Below is a letter from Anthony Marx,president and CEO ofthe New York Public Library;Linda Johnson,president and CEOof theBrooklyn Public Library;and Dennis Walcott,president and CEOof theQueens Library outlining how they feel the move to strip net neutrality could negatively impact the New York-area public library systems.
83 percent of Americans do not approve of the move to kill net neutrality
Since their inception, public libraries have fought to ensure that all people '-- regardless of their background or beliefs '-- have access to knowledge, education, and opportunity. That noble mission hasn't changed, even as technology has. In addition to books and other materials, public libraries in every community in our great country are providing access to the computer and the internet, technology training classes, tablets, laptops, and more, offering everyone the tools they need to improve their lives, strengthen their communities, and succeed. Libraries are at the foundation of the American dream. The recent proposal by the Federal Communications Commission to abandon current net neutrality rules stands in direct opposition to this vital work. The proposal essentially gives broadband providers financial incentive to govern the openness of the internet, paving the way for models in which consumers pay for priority access, and those who can't pay are limited to a ''slow lane.''
Without the current protections, the already yawning digital divide will be widened. We know in New York City, millions of families cannot afford broadband access at home. These families are in our branches, borrowing Wi-Fi hot spots, or using our public computers to do homework, pay bills, apply for jobs, or communicate with relatives. For these New Yorkers, the 216 library branches across the city are their only option for access to technology. For the FCC to place internet access '-- something that in today's world is a necessity, not a luxury '-- even further out of reach is appalling.
As strong advocates for and guardians of the right for people to seek and receive information from all points of view without restriction, New York City libraries cannot possibly support such a measure.
For us, though, it's more than just principle. We, too, would potentially need to pay broadband providers extra so our content can be delivered on the same terms as commercial content providers. For public libraries '-- most of which are government agencies or nonprofits '-- this could be a serious burden, as we deliver large amounts of video to our patrons, have users remotely accessing collections at home, we offer hundreds of expensive databases to the public for free. As libraries will increasingly collect digital assets, these costs will increase.
To see who will be affected, simply walk into any New York City library branch
In other words, this proposal directly impacts the public's ability to access library collections and materials '-- the very tools that have helped even the playing field for so many in this country for centuries.
To see who will be affected, simply walk into any New York City library branch. See the students who literally cannot do their homework without our computers. See the parents and caregivers who are learning English and applying for jobs online to improve their circumstances. See the higher education students, independent researchers, and scholars who need our databases and online collections to further scholarship. Imagine how frustrated they will be, how demoralized, that they can no longer access what they need.
Critics of net neutrality are quick to point out that it could stifle innovation. Why, for example, would a cable company invest in having the highest speed data network if it could not reap the financial rewards of selling premium access to that higher speed data? These critics say the new proposal values private investment and innovation over government intervention.
Those are weak arguments. In reality, far more technology companies are financially incentivized to spur innovation around high-speed internet than just the telecom and cable companies who own the infrastructure. The consumer demand to deliver uninterrupted streaming of the hottest new Netflix show or multi-player access to the latest PlayStation game will keep internet speeds humming with or without net neutrality.
Pioneers for Net Neutrality
Thu, 14 Dec 2017 10:01
The Honorable Roger Wicker
Chair, Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet
The Honorable Brian Schatz,
Ranking Member, Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet
The Honorable Marsha Blackburn,
Chair, House Energy Subcommittee on Communications and Technology
The Honorable Michael F. Doyle,
Ranking Member, House Energy Subcommittee on Communications and Technology
Senator Wicker:
Senator Schatz:
Representative Blackburn:
Representative Doyle:
We are the pioneers and technologists who created and now operate the Internet, and some of the innovators and business people who, like many others, depend on it for our livelihood. We are writing to respectfully urge you to call on FCC Chairman Ajit Pai to cancel the December 14 vote on the FCC's proposed Restoring Internet Freedom Order (WC Docket No. 17-108 ).
This proposed Order would repeal key network neutrality protections that prevent Internet access providers from blocking content, websites and applications, slowing or speeding up services or classes of service, and charging online services for access or fast lanes to Internet access providers' customers. The proposed Order would also repeal oversight over other unreasonable discrimination and unreasonable practices, and over interconnection with last-mile Internet access providers. The proposed Order removes long-standing FCC oversight over Internet access providers without an adequate replacement to protect consumers, free markets and online innovation.
It is important to understand that the FCC's proposed Order is based on a flawed and factually inaccurate understanding of Internet technology. These flaws and inaccuracies were documented in detail in a 43-page-long joint comment signed by over 200 of the most prominent Internet pioneers and engineers and submitted to the FCC on July 17, 2017.
Despite this comment, the FCC did not correct its misunderstandings, but instead premised the proposed Order on the very technical flaws the comment explained. The technically-incorrect proposed Order dismantles 15 years of targeted oversight from both Republican and Democratic FCC chairs, who understood the threats that Internet access providers could pose to open markets on the Internet.
The experts' comment was not the only one the FCC ignored. Over 23 million comments have been submitted by a public that is clearly passionate about protecting the Internet. The FCC could not possibly have considered these adequately.
Indeed, breaking with established practice, the FCC has not held a single open public meeting to hear from citizens and experts about the proposed Order.
Furthermore, the FCC's online comment system has been plagued by major problems that the FCC has not had time to investigate. These include bot-generated comments that impersonated Americans, including dead people, and an unexplained outage of the FCC's on-line comment system that occurred at the very moment TV host John Oliver was encouraging Americans to submit comments to the system.
Compounding our concern, the FCC has failed to respond to Freedom of Information Act requests about these incidents and failed to provide information to a New York State Attorney General's investigation of them.
We therefore call on you to urge FCC Chairman Pai to cancel the FCC's vote. The FCC's rushed and technically incorrect proposed Order to abolish net neutrality protections without any replacement is an imminent threat to the Internet we worked so hard to create. It should be stopped.
Frederick J. Baker, IETF Chair 1996-2001, ISOC Board Chair 2002-2006
Mitchell Baker, Executive Chairwoman, Mozilla Foundation
Steven M. Bellovin, Internet pioneer, FTC Chief Technologist, 2012-2013
Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web & professor, MIT
John Borthwick, CEO, Betaworks
Scott O. Bradner, Internet pioneer
Vinton G. Cerf, Internet pioneer
Stephen D. Crocker, Internet pioneer
Whitfield Diffie, inventor of public-key cryptography
David J. Farber, Internet pioneer, FCC Chief Technologist 1999-2000
Dewayne Hendricks, CEO Tetherless Access
Martin E. Hellman, Internet security pioneer
Brewster Kahle, Internet pioneer, founder, Internet Archive
Susan Landau, cybersecurity expert & professor, Tufts University
Theodor Holm Nelson, hypertext pioneer
David P. Reed, Internet pioneer
Jennifer Rexford, Chair of Computer Science, Princeton University
Ronald L. Rivest, co-inventor of RSA public-key encryption algorithm
Paul Vixie, Internet pioneer
Stephen Wolff, Internet pioneer
Steve Wozniak, co-founder, Apple Computer
Members of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet
Members of the House Energy Subcommittee on Communications and Technology
Federal Communications Commissioners
Considering what Pence said about not being in a room alone with another woman, maybe this is his long game?
Tourrettes-Public University: Whistling May Qualify as Sexual Harassment - Judicial Watch
Thu, 14 Dec 2017 10:53
The sexual harassment scandals involving prominent Hollywood figures, media personalities and politicians has brought heightened awareness to the issue, but one public college appears to be taking things too far. At Tennessee State University in Nashville, ''whistling in a suggestive manner'' may qualify as sexual harassment and can get students expelled or employees fired. Those caught making ''suggestive or insulting sounds'' or making ''suggestive or obscene gestures'' also face similar consequences as well as students or staff who joke about sex on campus.
The rules are outlined in the university's discrimination and harassment policy, which was obtained by a conservative journalism nonprofit dedicated to the principles of a free society. The group published an article on its website that reveals Tennessee State University has been blasted by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) for several policies that allow free speech to be punished as harassment. With an undergraduate enrollment of about 7,000, the school's policy lists nearly two dozen ''offenses'' that can constitute sexual harassment among students and employees. Cases are determined individually and the ''totality of the circumstances'' will be considered before deciding if sexual harassment has been committed.
The attorney who serves as vice president of FIRE's policy research points out in the article that Tennessee State University's policy doesn't pass legal muster because it's too ambiguous. Her name is Samantha Harris and she has degrees from two Ivy League universities, Princeton and the University of Pennsylvania Law School. ''Very broad categories of speech are banned as harassment, simply because someone might find them suggestively offensive and that's something that courts have repeatedly held violates the first amendment,'' Harris says in the story. Prohibitions on jokes and humor are dangerous because they could be abused to suppress unpopular speech involving political and social issues, Harris added. She also said that the school's policy of banning any kind of demonstration during university events restricts students' rights to protest and get their message across. Tennessee State also requires gatherings involving dissent to be registered with the vice president of student affairs to ensure the event is held at an acceptable time and appropriate site. That creates prior restraint on speech, according to FIRE's legal expert.
Taxpayer-funded schools and colleges have taken an extreme leftist turn on several issues over the years and Judicial Watch has reported or taken legal action in several of the cases. This includes exposing a Mexican separatist school that pushes Marxism and Anti-Americanism in Los Angeles, pervasive corruption in Chicago public schools and an after school Satan club in Washington State that received speedy tax-exempt approval from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Judicial Watch is currently embroiled in a legal battle with the Berkeley Unified School District in California to obtain the records of a middle school teacher who is a national organizer for a radical leftist group. The teacher, Yvette Felarca, works at Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School and is a prominent figure in By Any Means Necessary (BAMN), an organized militant group founded by the Marxist Revolutionary Workers League that uses raucous militant tactics to protest conservative speaking engagements. Over the summer Felarca was arrested and charged with several crimes, including felony assault, for inciting a riot in Sacramento. Judicial Watch wants records about the controversial teacher's violent Antifa activism, which reportedly includes illegally recruiting students.
Judicial Watch has also sued to stop illegal immigrants from receiving taxpayer-funded discounted tuition at public universities and colleges and reported extensively on the issue. Last year Judicial Watch wrote about professors at a public university in south Florida that demanded the school protect illegal aliens by creating a ''sanctuary campus.'' The professors compared immigration enforcement to ''fugitive slave laws.'' At the time students at colleges around the nation requested their undocumented classmates be protected, but the Florida professors blazed the trail as the first faculty members of an American taxpayer-funded establishment to officially call for campus-wide sanctuary in the aftermath of Donald Trump's election.
Morgan Spurlock Admits He's Part of Sexual Harassment Problem, Cites Past Rape Allegation | TMZ.com
Thu, 14 Dec 2017 14:19
Morgan Spurlock is coming clean about his history ... regarding sexual harassment, sexual abuse, and even an accusation of rape.
The famed documentary filmmaker posted a shocking list of confessions Wednesday, including a detailed description of a sexual encounter with a woman he had in college that led to him being accused of rape.
Spurlock also admits to paying off a former female assistant who he often called "hot pants" or "sex pants" about 8 years ago to settle a sexual harassment claim and keep it quiet.
The "Super Size Me" star says he's not been an innocent bystander amid the wave of sexual misconduct allegations in Hollywood and beyond, and has wondered ... "When will they come for me?"
He adds ... "If I'm going to truly represent myself as someone who has built a career on finding the truth, then it's time for me to be truthful as well."
Spurlock drops another bombshell too -- he says he was sexually abused as a boy -- before vowing to be part of the solution from now on.
Check out his full statement above.
Harvey Weinstein Is My Monster Too - The New York Times
Thu, 14 Dec 2017 00:08
Harvey Weinstein was a passionate cinephile, a risk taker, a patron of talent in film, a loving father and a monster.
For years, he was my monster.
This fall, I was approached by reporters, through different sources, including my dear friend Ashley Judd, to speak about an episode in my life that, although painful, I thought I had made peace with.
I had brainwashed myself into thinking that it was over and that I had survived; I hid from the responsibility to speak out with the excuse that enough people were already involved in shining a light on my monster. I didn't consider my voice important, nor did I think it would make a difference.
In reality, I was trying to save myself the challenge of explaining several things to my loved ones: Why, when I had casually mentioned that I had been bullied like many others by Harvey, I had excluded a couple of details. And why, for so many years, we have been cordial to a man who hurt me so deeply. I had been proud of my capacity for forgiveness, but the mere fact that I was ashamed to describe the details of what I had forgiven made me wonder if that chapter of my life had really been resolved.
When so many women came forward to describe what Harvey had done to them, I had to confront my cowardice and humbly accept that my story, as important as it was to me, was nothing but a drop in an ocean of sorrow and confusion. I felt that by now nobody would care about my pain '-- maybe this was an effect of the many times I was told, especially by Harvey, that I was nobody.
We are finally becoming conscious of a vice that has been socially accepted and has insulted and humiliated millions of girls like me, for in every woman there is a girl. I am inspired by those who had the courage to speak out, especially in a society that elected a president who has been accused of sexual harassment and assault by more than a dozen women and whom we have all heard make a statement about how a man in power can do anything he wants to women.
Well, not anymore.
In the 14 years that I stumbled from schoolgirl to Mexican soap star to an extra in a few American films to catching a couple of lucky breaks in ''Desperado'' and ''Fools Rush In,'' Harvey Weinstein had become the wizard of a new wave of cinema that took original content into the mainstream. At the same time, it was unimaginable for a Mexican actress to aspire to a place in Hollywood. And even though I had proven them wrong, I was still a nobody.
One of the forces that gave me the determination to pursue my career was the story of Frida Kahlo, who in the golden age of the Mexican muralists would do small intimate paintings that everybody looked down on. She had the courage to express herself while disregarding skepticism. My greatest ambition was to tell her story. It became my mission to portray the life of this extraordinary artist and to show my native Mexico in a way that combated stereotypes.
The Weinstein empire, which was then Miramax, had become synonymous with quality, sophistication and risk taking '-- a haven for artists who were complex and defiant. It was everything that Frida was to me and everything I aspired to be.
I had started a journey to produce the film with a different company, but I fought to get it back to take it to Harvey.
I knew him a little bit through my relationship with the director Robert Rodriguez and the producer Elizabeth Avellan, who was then his wife, with whom I had done several films and who had taken me under their wing. All I knew of Harvey at the time was that he had a remarkable intellect, he was a loyal friend and a family man.
Knowing what I know now, I wonder if it wasn't my friendship with them '-- and Quentin Tarantino and George Clooney '-- that saved me from being raped.
The deal we made initially was that Harvey would pay for the rights of work I had already developed. As an actress, I would be paid the minimum Screen Actors Guild scale plus 10 percent. As a producer, I would receive a credit that would not yet be defined, but no payment, which was not that rare for a female producer in the '90s. He also demanded a signed deal for me to do several other films with Miramax, which I thought would cement my status as a leading lady.
I did not care about the money; I was so excited to work with him and that company. In my na¯vet(C), I thought my dream had come true. He had validated the last 14 years of my life. He had taken a chance on me '-- a nobody. He had said yes.
Little did I know it would become my turn to say no.
No to opening the door to him at all hours of the night, hotel after hotel, location after location, where he would show up unexpectedly, including one location where I was doing a movie he wasn't even involved with.
No to me taking a shower with him.
No to letting him watch me take a shower.
No to letting him give me a massage.
No to letting a naked friend of his give me a massage.
No to letting him give me oral sex.
No to my getting naked with another woman.
No, no, no, no, no '...
And with every refusal came Harvey's Machiavellian rage.
I don't think he hated anything more than the word ''no.'' The absurdity of his demands went from getting a furious call in the middle of the night asking me to fire my agent for a fight he was having with him about a different movie with a different client to physically dragging me out of the opening gala of the Venice Film Festival, which was in honor of ''Frida,'' so I could hang out at his private party with him and some women I thought were models but I was told later were high-priced prostitutes.
The range of his persuasion tactics went from sweet-talking me to that one time when, in an attack of fury, he said the terrifying words, ''I will kill you, don't think I can't.''
When he was finally convinced that I was not going to earn the movie the way he had expected, he told me he had offered my role and my script with my years of research to another actress.
In his eyes, I was not an artist. I wasn't even a person. I was a thing: not a nobody, but a body.
At that point, I had to resort to using lawyers, not by pursuing a sexual harassment case, but by claiming ''bad faith,'' as I had worked so hard on a movie that he was not intending to make or sell back to me. I tried to get it out of his company.
He claimed that my name as an actress was not big enough and that I was incompetent as a producer, but to clear himself legally, as I understood it, he gave me a list of impossible tasks with a tight deadline:
1. Get a rewrite of the script, with no additional payment.
2. Raise $10 million to finance the film.
3. Attach an A-list director.
4. Cast four of the smaller roles with prominent actors.
Much to everyone's amazement, not least my own, I delivered, thanks to a phalanx of angels who came to my rescue, including Edward Norton, who beautifully rewrote the script several times and appallingly never got credit, and my friend Margaret Perenchio, a first-time producer, who put up the money. The brilliant Julie Taymor agreed to direct, and from then on she became my rock. For the other roles, I recruited my friends Antonio Banderas, Edward Norton and my dear Ashley Judd. To this day, I don't know how I convinced Geoffrey Rush, whom I barely knew at the time.
Now Harvey Weinstein was not only rejected but also about to do a movie he did not want to do.
Ironically, once we started filming, the sexual harassment stopped but the rage escalated. We paid the price for standing up to him nearly every day of shooting. Once, in an interview he said Julie and I were the biggest ball busters he had ever encountered, which we took as a compliment.
Halfway through shooting, Harvey turned up on set and complained about Frida's ''unibrow.'' He insisted that I eliminate the limp and berated my performance. Then he asked everyone in the room to step out except for me. He told me that the only thing I had going for me was my sex appeal and that there was none of that in this movie. So he told me he was going to shut down the film because no one would want to see me in that role.
It was soul crushing because, I confess, lost in the fog of a sort of Stockholm syndrome, I wanted him to see me as an artist: not only as a capable actress but also as somebody who could identify a compelling story and had the vision to tell it in an original way.
I was hoping he would acknowledge me as a producer, who on top of delivering his list of demands shepherded the script and obtained the permits to use the paintings. I had negotiated with the Mexican government, and with whomever I had to, to get locations that had never been given to anyone in the past '-- including Frida Kahlo's houses and the murals of Kahlo's husband, Diego Rivera, among others.
But all of this seemed to have no value. The only thing he noticed was that I was not sexy in the movie. He made me doubt if I was any good as an actress, but he never succeeded in making me think that the film was not worth making.
He offered me one option to continue. He would let me finish the film if I agreed to do a sex scene with another woman. And he demanded full-frontal nudity.
He had been constantly asking for more skin, for more sex. Once before, Julie Taymor got him to settle for a tango ending in a kiss instead of the lovemaking scene he wanted us to shoot between the character Tina Modotti, played by Ashley Judd, and Frida.
But this time, it was clear to me he would never let me finish this movie without him having his fantasy one way or another. There was no room for negotiation.
I had to say yes. By now so many years of my life had gone into this film. We were about five weeks into shooting, and I had convinced so many talented people to participate. How could I let their magnificent work go to waste?
I had asked for so many favors, I felt an immense pressure to deliver and a deep sense of gratitude for all those who did believe in me and followed me into this madness. So I agreed to do the senseless scene.
I arrived on the set the day we were to shoot the scene that I believed would save the movie. And for the first and last time in my career, I had a nervous breakdown: My body began to shake uncontrollably, my breath was short and I began to cry and cry, unable to stop, as if I were throwing up tears.
Since those around me had no knowledge of my history of Harvey, they were very surprised by my struggle that morning. It was not because I would be naked with another woman. It was because I would be naked with her for Harvey Weinstein. But I could not tell them then.
My mind understood that I had to do it, but my body wouldn't stop crying and convulsing. At that point, I started throwing up while a set frozen still waited to shoot. I had to take a tranquilizer, which eventually stopped the crying but made the vomiting worse. As you can imagine, this was not sexy, but it was the only way I could get through the scene.
By the time the filming of the movie was over, I was so emotionally distraught that I had to distance myself during the postproduction.
When Harvey saw the cut film, he said it was not good enough for a theatrical release and that he would send it straight to video.
This time Julie had to fight him without me and got him to agree to release the film in one movie theater in New York if we tested it to an audience and we scored at least an 80.
Less than 10 percent of films achieve that score on a first screening.
I didn't go to the test. I anxiously awaited to receive the news. The film scored 85.
And again, I heard Harvey raged. In the lobby of a theater after the screening, he screamed at Julie. He balled up one of the scorecards and threw it at her. It bounced off her nose. Her partner, the film's composer Elliot Goldenthal, stepped in, and Harvey physically threatened him.
Once he calmed down, I found the strength to call Harvey to ask him also to open the movie in a theater in Los Angeles, which made a total of two theaters. And without much ado, he gave me that. I have to say sometimes he was kind, fun and witty '-- and that was part of the problem: You just never knew which Harvey you were going to get.
Months later, in October 2002, this film, about my hero and inspiration '-- this Mexican artist who never truly got acknowledged in her time with her limp and her unibrow, this film that Harvey never wanted to do, gave him a box office success that no one could have predicted, and despite his lack of support, added six Academy Award nominations to his collection, including best actress.
Even though ''Frida'' eventually won him two Oscars, I still didn't see any joy. He never offered me a starring role in a movie again. The films that I was obliged to do under my original deal with Miramax were all minor supporting roles.
Years later, when I ran into him at an event, he pulled me aside and told me he had stopped smoking and he had had a heart attack. He said he'd fallen in love and married Georgina Chapman, and that he was a changed man. Finally, he said to me: ''You did well with 'Frida'; we did a beautiful movie.''
I believed him. Harvey would never know how much those words meant to me. He also would never know how much he hurt me. I never showed Harvey how terrified I was of him. When I saw him socially, I'd smile and try to remember the good things about him, telling myself that I went to war and I won.
But why do so many of us, as female artists, have to go to war to tell our stories when we have so much to offer? Why do we have to fight tooth and nail to maintain our dignity?
I think it is because we, as women, have been devalued artistically to an indecent state, to the point where the film industry stopped making an effort to find out what female audiences wanted to see and what stories we wanted to tell.
According to a recent study, between 2007 and 2016, only 4 percent of directors were female and 80 percent of those got the chance to make only one film. In 2016, another study found, only 27 percent of words spoken in the biggest movies were spoken by women. And people wonder why you didn't hear our voices sooner. I think the statistics are self-explanatory '-- our voices are not welcome.
Until there is equality in our industry, with men and women having the same value in every aspect of it, our community will continue to be a fertile ground for predators.
I am grateful for everyone who is listening to our experiences. I hope that adding my voice to the chorus of those who are finally speaking out will shed light on why it is so difficult, and why so many of us have waited so long. Men sexually harassed because they could. Women are talking today because, in this new era, we finally can.
Judge Who Struck Down Trump's Muslim Travel Ban Just BUSTED In Sleazy Sexual Scandal With Disturbing Twist
Mon, 11 Dec 2017 05:13
Isn't it grand seeing the Swamp drain its self?
This new movement that is sweeping the nation taking aim at holding powerful men accountable for sexual harassment, misconduct, and assault has now named a prominent Liberal jurist as a serial harasser. It's now being reported that six former far left liberal Ninth Circuit clerks and externs are now saying that the liberal Judge Alex Kozinski subjected them to sexual comments and unwelcome situations.
One of the former Kozinski clerks, Heidi Bond, who was his clerk between 2006 and 2007 has gone on the record with allegations that on multiple occasions the judge summoned her alone to his chambers in order to show her pornography which was unrelated to any case before the judge. He then asked if the images turned her on. Bond recounts at least three different instances of being shown porn by her boss and says the experiences were shocking. She has also written an extremely disturbing first-person account of her experiences of clerking for Judge Kozinski where she also details Kozinski isolating her from her co-clerks to discuss his sexual history.
The Washington Post Reports:
Prominent appeals court Judge Alex Kozinski accused of sexual misconduct
Judge Alex Kozinski of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, pictured in 2003. Six women '-- all former clerks or externs in the 9th Circuit '-- alleged to The Washington Post in recent weeks that Kozinski, now 67, subjected them to a range of inappropriate sexual conduct or comments.
A former clerk for Judge Alex Kozinski said the powerful and well-known jurist, who for many years served as chief judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, called her into his office several times and pulled up pornography on his computer, asking if she thought it was photoshopped or if it aroused her sexually.
Heidi Bond, who clerked for Kozinski from 2006 to 2007, said the porn was not related to any case. One set of images she remembered was of college-age students at a party where ''some people were inexplicably naked while everyone else was clothed.'' Another was a sort of digital flip book that allowed users to mix and match heads, torsos and legs to create an image of a naked woman.
Bond is one of six women '-- all former clerks or more junior staffers known as externs in the 9th Circuit '-- who alleged to The Washington Post in recent weeks that Kozinski, now 67 and still serving as a judge on the court, subjected them to a range of inappropriate sexual conduct or comments. She is one of two former clerks who said Kozinski asked them to view porn in his chambers.
In a statement, Kozinski said: ''I have been a judge for 35 years and during that time have had over 500 employees in my chambers. I treat all of my employees as family and work very closely with most of them. I would never intentionally do anything to offend anyone and it is regrettable that a handful have been offended by something I may have said or done.''
Kozinski provided the statement after The Post called and emailed a spokesman with a detailed list of the allegations this story would include. After the story posted online, the judge told the Los Angeles Times, ''I don't remember ever showing pornographic material to my clerks'' and, ''If this is all they are able to dredge up after 35 years, I am not too worried.''
After the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke, more women and men have come forward against a growing list of well-known male figures. (Erin Patrick O'Connor, Nicki DeMarco/The Washington Post)
When Bond was clerking, Kozinski was on the precipice of becoming chief judge for the 9th Circuit '-- the largest federal appeals court circuit in the country, handling cases for a large swath of the western United States as well as Hawaii and Alaska. The other people who alleged that Kozinski behaved inappropriately toward them worked in the 9th Circuit both before and after her, up to 2012.
Bond said she knew that she was to come to the judge's office when her phone beeped twice. She said she tried to answer Kozinski's inquiries as succinctly and matter-of-factly as possible. Bond was then in her early 30s and is now 41.
If the question was about photoshopping, Bond said, she would focus on minor details of the images. If Kozinski asked whether the images aroused her, Bond said, she would respond: ''No, this kind of stuff doesn't do anything for me. Is there anything else you need?'' She said she recalled three instances when the judge showed her porn in his office.
''I was in a state of emotional shock, and what I really wanted to do was be as small as possible and make as few movements as possible and to say as little as possible to get out,'' Bond said.
Bond, who went on to clerk for the Supreme Court and now works as a romance novelist writing under the name Courtney Milan, and another clerk, Emily Murphy, who worked for a different judge on the 9th Circuit and is now a law professor, described their experiences in on-the-record interviews. The other four women spoke on the condition that their names and some other identifying information not be published, out of fear that they might face retaliation from Kozinski or others.
Kozinski, who served as the chief judge on the 9th Circuit from 2007 to 2014, remains a prominent judge, well known in the legal community for his colorful written opinions. His clerks often win prestigious clerkships at the Supreme Court.
Murphy, who clerked for Judge Richard Paez, said Kozinski approached her when she was talking with a group of other clerks at a reception at a San Francisco hotel in September 2012. The group had been discussing training regimens, and Murphy said she commented that the gym in the 9th Circuit courthouse was nice because other people were seldom there.
Kozinski, according to Murphy and two others present at the time who spoke to The Post, said that if that were the case, she should work out naked. Those in the group tried to change the subject, Murphy and the others present said, but the judge kept steering the conversation toward the idea of Murphy exercising without clothes.
''It wasn't just clear that he was imagining me naked, he was trying to invite other people '-- my professional colleagues '-- to do so as well,'' Murphy said. ''That was what was humiliating about it.''
Murphy, who was 30 at the time of the incident and is now 36, provided The Post with a 2012 email showing that she told a mentor about what had happened at the time. Two of Murphy's friends who were present at the time of the encounter, speaking on the condition of anonymity, also confirmed her account.
Bond, similarly, provided emails showing that she told a friend what had happened at least as of 2008. The friend, fellow romance novelist Eve Ortega, provided the same emails. She confirmed that Bond had told her years ago that Kozinski made inappropriate sexual comments and showed her porn.
Kozinski has previously been embroiled in controversies related to sexually explicit material.
In 2008, the Los Angeles Times revealed that the judge had maintained an email list that he used to distribute crude jokes, some of them sexually themed, and that he had a publicly accessible website that contained pornographic images.
A judicial investigation ultimately found that Kozinski did not intend to allow the public to see the material and that, instead, the judge and his son were careless in protecting a private server from being accessible on the Internet.
Anthony J. Scirica, then the chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit, wrote at the time that Kozinski's ''conduct exhibiting poor judgment with respect to this material created a public controversy that can reasonably be seen as having resulted in embarrassment to the institution of the federal judiciary.''
According to Scirica's report, Kozinski said that he used the server to keep a variety of items he received by email, including TV commercials, video clips, cartoons, games and song parodies.
Of the sexually explicit files, Kozinski testified: ''Some I thought were odd or funny or bizarre, but mostly I don't have a very good reason for holding onto them. I certainly did not send them to anyone else or ask anyone to send me similar files,'' according to Scirica's report.
Kozinski also testified that he ''does not visit and has no interest in pornographic websites,'' according to Scirica's report. He separately apologized for any embarrassment he had caused in maintaining the email list and said he had stopped sending the jokes.
Bond said the images Kozinski showed her seemed to come from his private server, because he pulled them from a site containing the term ''kozinski.com.''
The other Kozinski clerk who said the judge showed her porn declined to provide specifics out of fear that Kozinski would be able to identify her. Bond said the judge also showed her a chart he claimed he and his friends from college had made to list the women with whom they had had sexual relations.
Bond said that either Kozinski or his administrative assistant reached out to her around the time of the news reporting on his private server, asking whether she would be willing to defend his character. She wrote to Ortega about the inquiry in 2008, according to emails the women shared with The Post, and Ortega responded that it ''sounds like a very bad idea to me.''
''I know he brought you into his office to show you porn, I know he made sexual innuendos to you. I know this because you told me so in DC, and you even used the words sexual harassment,'' Ortega wrote. ''You said you would warn off other women thinking of clerking for him. And if there's a woman out there he harassed worse than you, do you really want to be pitted against her? Because that's what it would be. I'm worried that this is what he's asking you to do '-- to be the female, intelligent face of his defense and make whoever it is accusing him look like a stupid slut, and then he hopefully never has to actually address those allegations.''
Kozinski was born in Romania to Holocaust survivors in 1950, and the family fled the communist state when he was a boy. Decades ago, long before he was a federal judge, he appeared on the television show ''The Dating Game,'' planting a kiss on a surprised young woman who selected him for a date. He is married and has three sons.
Kozinski was appointed to the 9th Circuit by President Ronald Reagan in 1985. He is an atypical federal appeals court judge '-- authoring irreverent opinions and not shying, as many of his colleagues do, from media appearances.
He styled one opinion in 2012 not as a traditional concurrence or dissent, but instead as ''disagreeing with everyone.'' He famously wrote during a trademark dispute between the toy company Mattel and the record company that produced the 1997 song ''Barbie Girl'': ''The parties are advised to chill.''
In more recent years, Kozinski wrote that using lethal injections to impose the death penalty was ''a misguided effort to mask the brutality of executions by making them look serene and beautiful '-- like something any one of us might experience in our final moments,'' and he told the Los Angeles Times, ''I personally think we should go to the guillotine, but shooting is probably the right way to go.''
The Post reached out to dozens of Kozinski's former clerks and externs for this report. Many of those who returned messages said that they experienced no harassment of any kind and that their experience '-- which entailed grueling work into the wee hours of the morning every day '-- was a rewarding one. They noted Kozinski's wry sense of humor.
Those who talked to The Post about negative experiences said that they thought his behavior went beyond bad jokes or that they felt personally targeted.
A former Kozinski extern said the judge once made a comment about her hair and looked her body up and down ''in a less-than-professional way.'' That extern said Kozinski also once talked with her about a female judge stripping.
''I didn't want to be alone with him,'' the former extern said.
A different former extern said she, similarly, had at least two conversations ''that had sexual overtones directed at me,'' and she told friends about them at the time. One of the friends, also a former extern, confirmed that the woman had told her about the remarks '-- though both declined to detail them for fear of being identified.
One former 9th Circuit clerk said she was at a dinner in Seattle, seated next to Kozinski, when he ''kind of picked the tablecloth up so that he could see the bottom half of me, my legs.'' She said Kozinski remarked, ''I wanted to see if you were wearing pants because it's cold out.'' The former clerk said she was wearing pants at the time. The incident, she said, occurred in late 2011 or early 2012.
''It made me uncomfortable, and it didn't seem appropriate,'' said the former clerk, who worked for a different judge.
All of the women The Post interviewed said they did not file formal complaints at the time. Bond said Kozinski had so vigorously stressed the idea of judicial confidentiality '-- that what is discussed in chambers cannot be revealed to the outside '-- that she questioned even years later whether she could share what had happened with a therapist, even though she had already talked with Ortega about it.
Bond said Kozinski worked his clerks so hard that ''there was no thought that I could see him as anything other than in complete control,'' and she feared that not leaving with a good recommendation from him might jeopardize her career.
''I did think about walking away and concluded I just didn't know what I would do if I did,'' Bond said.
The other former Kozinski clerk who said the judge asked her to watch porn in his chambers said she both feared what he might do and knew that a complaint was unlikely to strip him of his influence.
''I was afraid,'' the former clerk said. ''I mean, who would I tell? Who do you even tell? Who do you go to?''
Murphy said she discussed what had happened with the judge for whom she was clerking, and he was supportive of her filing a complaint. But because the complaint would first go to Kozinski himself, then be referred elsewhere, Murphy said she chose not to proceed. The judge, Paez, declined to comment for this report through a representative.
As a judge, Kozinski has addressed the topic of sexual harassment in important ways. In 1991, he joined an opinion that decided such cases should be judged from the perspective of the victims, using what was then called the ''reasonable woman'' standard. The opinion, written by then-Judge Robert R. Beezer, noted pointedly, ''Conduct that many men consider unobjectionable may offend many women.''
Beezer died in 2012. Kozinski himself wrote about sexual harassment in 1992, commenting on how legal remedies could come with unforeseen consequences.
He wrote that men ''must be aware of the boundaries of propriety and learn to stay well within them,'' while women ''must be vigilant of their rights, but must also have some forgiveness for human foibles: misplaced humor, misunderstanding, or just plain stupidity.''
He acknowledged, though, that the problem of harassment was a real one.
''But who knew, who understood, that it was quite so pervasive,'' Kozinski wrote. ''Apparently most women did, while most men did not. It was the best-kept secret of modern times.''
Now that's sick, but then again, what else can we expect from a judge from the infamous 9th circuit court who is known for its radical far left agenda leanings. No wonder the 9th circuit wants Muslims Refugees in this nation, they act the same way their judges act.
It seems that for every right-wing leaning man who is accused of sexual misconduct there are at least 100 liberal men accused of the same, or worse. This whole time all these institutions where being run as brothels and not one person in the outside world even knew. They tell us how to think and what is and isn't moral while at the same time their stench of immorality is off the charts.
Please share if you agree this Judge needs to be in prison'....
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Why the #MeToo Movement Should Be Ready for a Backlash - POLITICO Magazine
Mon, 11 Dec 2017 05:40
In the final five years of his presidency, Barack Obama's administration undertook a worthy and bold challenge: the elimination of sexual assault on campuses. In fact, Obama's team had a much more ambitious goal in mind. Vice President Joe Biden, the point person for the campus initiative, said at the end of his term that the administration was seeking ''to fundamentally change the culture around sexual assault'''--everywhere. New rules of sexual engagement between college students were written at the directive of the administration, but top Obama officials said they wanted these to be applied in the workplace and beyond. ''You're going to change the workplaces you work in,'' Tina Tchen, director of the White House Council on Women and Girls, said at a 2016 event honoring campus sexual assault activists. ''You're going to raise your sons and daughters differently.''
They expected this transformation to take years. But with the daily toppling of powerful men who have committed sexual violations in Hollywood, the media, Congress and more, these changes have become seismic. The silenced have been given voice, and their testimony has resulted in the swift professional demise of perpetrators. Shocking descriptions of the behavior of powerful men have shown that it's not universally understood that it's unacceptable to display one's genitals at work or to sexually abuse colleagues.
Story Continued Below
We now have an opportunity for profound reform, for women and men to join together to treat each other with dignity and respect. But as this unexpected revolution unfolds, we should also keep in mind the dangers of creating new injustices in the service of correcting old ones.
For that, it's useful to look at how reforms played out on campus, where, unfortunately, many of the Obama administration's good intentions went awry. Among the principles and polices that have become entrenched at schools'--and are now spilling out into the wider world'--are the beliefs that accusers are virtually always telling the truth; that the urgency to take action is more important than fair procedures; that we shouldn't make distinctions between criminal acts and boorishness; and that predatory male behavior is ubiquitous. These beliefs have resulted in many campus cases in which the accused was treated with fundamental unfairness, spawning a legal subspecialty of suing schools on behalf of these young men. Examining what happened on campuses shows where the politics and social rules of interaction between the sexes might be headed'--and how to avoid making the same mistakes on a larger scale.
Much of the Obama administration's policy was at the initiative of Biden, for whom the issue of violence against women was career-defining. In 1994, as a senator, he oversaw the passage of the Violence Against Women Act, what he calls his ''proudest legislative accomplishment.'' When he became vice president, a new position was created under his aegis, White House adviser on violence against women, and he appointed Lynn Rosenthal, a national leader on domestic abuse, to fill it. The administration then decided to focus its efforts on what it said was an epidemic of sexual violence against female students by their male classmates. In 2011, the Department of Education sent a bombshell letter with the bland greeting, ''Dear Colleague'' to the country's 4,600 institutions of higher education laying out new rules for how campuses were to root out and punish sexual assault.
It was the beginning of a concerted effort that radically remade how students could interact sexually, with severe penalties for violating increasingly stringent codes of conduct. Title IX is the federal law that prohibits discrimination in education on the basis of sex. Under the Obama pronouncements, college Title IX offices became vast bureaucracies, and students were encouraged to report any perceived violation. The Dear Colleague letter forbade ''unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal, nonverbal, or physical conduct of a sexual nature.'' To stay on the right side of federal regulators, many school codes expanded to turn even unwanted flirtation or sexual jokes between students into actionable offenses. New rules known as ''affirmative consent'' were put in place on many campuses, requiring that partners engaging in any sexual contact get explicit permission, preferably verbal, for each touch, each time. (Affirmative consent on campus has become law in California, Connecticut and New York.)
Rosenthal later explained why the administration put such focus on the sexual encounters of college students: ''We felt it was a problem we could identify, evaluate, study and develop targeted interventions for,'' she said at a seminar on sexual assault in January 2015, a few days after leaving the administration. ''We also believed that what happens on our college campuses affects our nation. If we get this right on college campuses, we can influence an entire generation.''
Now, it's not just an entire generation'--it's the entire nation. No matter whether an accusation is made about violations on campus, in the workplace or on the streets, it is essential that the accounts be taken seriously and the accusers be treated respectfully. But in the debate over campus sexual assault, believing accusers, especially female ones, has become a virtual article of faith. Many Democratic politicians have expressed an opinion similar to the one recently tweeted by California Senator Kamala Harris, regarding college campuses: ''Survivors of sexual assault deserve to be believed, not blamed.'' As Harvard Law professor Jeannie Suk Gersen wrote in the New Yorker, wanting to examine the evidence before coming to a conclusion has come to mean being perceived on campus as being ''biased in favor of perpetrators.''
In this national ''just believe'' the accuser moment, it's important to remember that part of the power of the recent accusations against movie producer Harvey Weinstein and so many others is that they are backed up by meticulous reporting that has provided contemporaneous corroboration and other evidence. Presented with these revelations, the accused themselves in many cases have provided confirmation by acknowledging at least some of their violations. A failed attempt by the right-wing group Project Veritas to persuade the Washington Post to publish the account of a fake accuser of U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore demonstrated the power of verifying before believing.
The complications of ''just believe'' are illustrated by the saga of Al Franken, who, on Thursday announced his upcoming resignation as a Democratic U.S. senator from Minnesota. In the past few weeks, he has been accused by several women of unwanted attempted kissing, or touching them on the buttocks or breast while having photographs taken with them. Franken started by issuing a series of tortured apologies, which neither acknowledged that he did the touching, nor categorically denied it. In responding to Leeann Tweeden, a fellow performer who says Franken aggressively kissed her during a rehearsal for a United Service Organizations show more than a decade ago, he said, ''While I don't remember the rehearsal for the skit as Leeann does, I understand why we need to listen to and believe women's experiences.'' He added, ''And the truth is, what people think of me in light of this is far less important than what people think of women who continue to come forward to tell their stories. They deserve to be heard, and believed.''
This made it sound as if either Franken knew he had done inappropriate things and wouldn't admit it, or he believed he hadn't but couldn't say so'--proclaiming his innocence would mean casting aspersions on his accusers' truthfulness. Franken sounded as if he had taken last year's mandatory Title IX training for freshman at the University of Southern California, where the first piece of advice given to USC students accused of sexual assault is to acknowledge the likelihood that they are guilty, as documented in an article in the conservative outlet Campus Reform: ''Admit to yourself that even if you don't remember the event, or don't believe yourself capable of hurting someone, that it's possible that you may have crossed a boundary.''
In the announcement of his resignation, Franken took a more defiant tone, backing off the admonition to believe his accusers' version of events. He said he had ''wanted to be respectful of that broader conversation, because all women deserve to be heard and their experiences taken seriously,'' but that his statements ''gave some people the false impression that I was admitting to doing things that in fact I haven't done. Some of the allegations against me are simply not true. Others I remember very differently.'' So we are left knowing Franken was forced out by his Democratic colleagues, but not knowing exactly what to believe about the charges against him.
Ironically, Franken has been an ardent supporter of the Obama-era policies on campus sexual assault, policies that have required the creation of an industry to train, adjudicate and litigate Title IX matters. In August, four feminist Harvard Law professors'--Gersen, Elizabeth Bartholet, Nancy Gertner and Janet Halley'--released a paper, titled ''Fairness for All,'' writing that the procedures on campus today ''are frequently so unfair as to be truly shocking.'' For example, ''some colleges and universities fail even to give students the complaint against them, or notice of the factual basis of the charges, the evidence gathered, or the identities of witnesses.''
The Obama administration Dear Colleague letter also required that ''interim measures'' be taken against the accused, before any adjudication. These can be harshly punitive, resulting in students being removed from certain classes, their movements on campus limited; sometimes they are even banned from school. The case of veteran New York public radio host Leonard Lopate illustrates what such ''interim measures'' look like in the workplace. On Wednesday, just before he was about to go on the air, Lopate was told he was being suspended because an investigation of ''many'' sexual harassment complaints against him was underway. He told the New York Times that he was ''shocked'' and ''baffled'' and that WNYC ''didn't even give me a clue'' about the nature of the allegations. He added, ''I am sure any honest investigation will completely clear me.'' Indeed, both Lopate and the public are entitled to hear the results of a fair investigation. But surely before being publicly shamed, Lopate was entitled to know what the accusations against him were.
Statistics on the scale of the sexual assault problem on campuses nationally are controversial. And there are no good numbers about the breadth and nature of schools' responses. But we do know that since the Dear Colleague letter was issued in 2011, more than 200 civil lawsuits have been filed by the accused, almost all males, against their universities, according to one advocacy group that tracks such suits. And these plaintiffs are getting an increasingly positive response from judges, who often express astonishment at the campus procedures that have been promulgated. In a scathing rebuke of today's investigation and adjudication processes on campus, the National Center for Higher Education Risk Management, a leading Title IX consulting firm, released a white paper in April accusing many Title IX officers of ''victim-favoring'' and putting students' ''sexual decisions under a microscope.'' The paper warned that unless campus processes were reformed, a backlash could ''set back the entire consent movement.''
Democratic politicians in particular have acted with disdain for the rights of accused male students, and with disregard for ending their education and professional prospects. At a 2015 congressional hearing on campus sexual assault, Representative Jared Polis of Colorado suggested that anyone accused of sexual misconduct should be dismissed without any fact-finding at all. ''If there are 10 people who have been accused, and under a reasonable likelihood standard maybe one or two did it, it seems better to get rid of all 10 people,'' he said. ''We're not talking about depriving them of life or liberty. We're talking about them being transferred to another university, for crying out loud.'' (Polis was heavily criticized and walked back his remarks.)
Now, Franken and his colleagues seem to have absorbed at least some of that thinking. In his forced farewell, he noted that he was now forgoing his once-promised Senate Ethics Committee investigation: ''I said at the outset that the ethics committee was the right venue for these allegations to be heard and investigated and evaluated on their merits. That I was prepared to cooperate fully and that I was confident in the outcome.'' Senators had praised the idea of a proceeding that would provide, in the words of Senator Dick Durbin at the end of November, ''due process. '' But last week, Durbin called for Franken's resignation, along with 31 other Democratic senators. Now the public, and Franken's soon-to-be former constituents, are left to draw their own conclusions.
In the past few weeks, a number of accused men have disappeared Soviet-style from public life, with the work of some'--Louis C.K. and Garrison Keillor, for example'--withdrawn from distribution. There has been discussion about whether everyone accused deserves a professional death penalty, or whether there should be a scale of punishment. After all, the violations run the gamut from multiple allegations of rape to unwanted touching. But in a statement on Facebook calling for Franken's resignation, New York Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand came out against making such distinctions. ''While it's true that his behavior is not the same as the criminal conduct alleged against [Alabama Senate candidate] Roy Moore, or Harvey Weinstein, or President Trump, it is still unquestionably wrong,'' she wrote. ''We should not have to be explaining the gradations between sexual assault, harassment and unwelcome groping.''
In a New York Timesop-ed, actress Amber Tamblyn wrote that making distinctions will mean the cultural change that is happening will stall and bad behavior will win out. So, she wrote, ''The punishment for harassment is you disappear. The punishment for rape is you disappear. The punishment for masturbation in front of us is you disappear. The punishment for coercion is you disappear.'' (She conceded that some men may be allowed to come back professionally after a period of contrition.)
This erasing of distinctions between the criminal and the loutish was a central feature of the campus initiatives of the Obama administration and led to many unjustified punishments. ''Definitions of sexual wrongdoing on college campuses are now seriously overbroad,'' the feminist Harvard Law professors wrote. ''They are so broad as to put students engaged in behavior that is overwhelmingly common in the context of romantic relationships to be accused of sexual misconduct.''
What is considered a reportable offense on campus should give pause to those concerned about free speech and about the possibility of campus rules taking over the workplace. In his book, Twisting Title IX, Robert Shibley, executive director of the civil liberties group the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), writes about a 2014 case at the University of Oregon. A female sophomore called out a raunchy remark'--''I hit it first!'''--to a male and female couple who were outside her dorm room window making out. The couple didn't appreciate her joke'--the female yelled, ''F--k you, bitch!'' Then the couple came into the dorm to find the sophomore. She immediately apologized, but they reported her to the school's Title IX office. The school investigated, and the sophomore faced potential suspension or expulsion. She contacted FIRE, which issued a news release about the case, and soon after the university dropped the proceedings. Do we really want to create workplace policies where any perceived wrong of a sexual nature leads to possibly career-ending sanctions?
President Donald Trump has boasted on tape that he sexually violated women and stands accused by more than a dozen of them of unwanted touching and kissing. So it seemed unlikely that his administration would want to draw attention to the issue of sexual assault at all. But Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced this fall that she was rescinding much of the Obama-era guidance on sexual assault, declaring that what her predecessors created was a ''failed system'' that brought justice to neither accuser nor accused and significantly deprived young men of their civil rights. The interim guidance she issued on campus investigations and tribunals called for investigations to be fair, impartial and free of bias; demanded that campus Title IX officials avoid sex stereotypes; and required that interim actions against male students and final punishments be proportionate and weigh depriving someone of an education. DeVos received rare and unexpected support from both mainstream and left-leaning outlets like the Washington Post, Slate, the New Yorker, the Chronicle of Higher Education and the Economist.
These measures would seem consistent with basic Democratic principles, such as defending the rights of the accused. But Democrats, including many with presidential ambitions, have taken the stance that they will vehemently resist any and all of DeVos' efforts. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo tweeted, ''What Betsy DeVos just did is repulsive.'' Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania said, ''The Department of Education's reckless action will make it harder for schools to hold violent perpetrators accountable.'' Thirty-two Democratic senators, including Franken, wrote a letter to DeVos, rebuking her actions and asking for the reinstatement of the Obama guidance.
For years now, Democrats have described our nation's campuses as places of overwhelming danger, where female students are at the mercy of predatory male classmates and callous administrators. Senator Patty Murray of Washington said in 2015, ''Across our country right now, on some campuses there are some basic human rights being violated.'' Last spring, in an interview in Teen Vogue, Biden said that after parents drop their daughters off at college, they aren't talking about how they hope her academic or social life will go. He said, ''The conversation that's going on is, is she going to be safe?''
I have been reporting about campus sexual assault for several years; in September, the Atlantic published my series on the systematic deprivation of the rights of the accused and how this undermines the legitimacy of the very necessary fight against sexual assault. There is no good evidence that sociopathic predators beset campuses (a single study that made this assertion has beenthoroughlydebunked) or that callous administrators routinely abet such offenders. Nearly all of the many dozens of people I've interviewed'--campus administrators, higher education experts, Department of Education civil rights investigators, professors, attorneys'--describe the vast majority of cases as involving two students, usually in their first or second year, who are inexperienced at sex, and who frequently have been drinking, beginning an encounter that both parties often agree began consensually, and about which recollections later diverge.
But the descriptions of campuses as places of fear are moving into the workplace. Slate intern Lila Thulin recently wrote that as a student at Stanford, she had an experience largely free of the abuse Democrats describe. But now it seemed inevitable to her that something terrible was going to happen at the office: ''I began to feel vulnerable, as if a clock somewhere was counting down the time until I, too, would be sexually harassed.'' If young women come to presume that male colleagues who take an interest in their work actually have a malign motive, or if male bosses wanting to give opportunities to female subordinates worry about inviting them on work trips, everyone loses.
The movement to stop sexual harassment in the workplace will eventually move past this moment of shocking allegations against famous men, and should soon focus on the many nonfamous people in quotidian circumstances. But top news organizations are not likely to provide as much due diligence about those cases. No doubt many disputes will more resemble those on campus, in that the charges will be about ambiguous situations for which there is little evidence. This amazing moment has a chance to be truly transformative. But it could also go off track if all accusations are taken on faith, if due process is seen as an impediment rather than a requirement and an underpinning of justice, and if men and women grow wary of each other in the workplace. As Laura Kipnis, a feminist professor at Northwestern, writes in her book, Unwanted Advances, ''I can think of no better way to subjugate women than to convince us that assault is around every corner.''
Emily Yoffe is a contributing editor at the Atlantic.
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CAA agent accused of offering sex in exchange for access to directors and a Hollywood star - LA Times
Mon, 11 Dec 2017 12:20
As more talent agencies find themselves drawn into the wave of Hollywood sex scandals, a prominent agent at Creative Artists Agency is facing accusations that he offered an actor sex in exchange for access to directors and a movie star.
The agent, Cade Hudson, made the offers in 2013, according to text messages reviewed by The Times, as well as interviews with the recipient of the messages, actor Sean Rose. The texts show that Hudson offered to perform oral sex on Rose and solicited the actor for as much as $1,000, even though he was told the actor was heterosexual.
Rose said he declined the offers and was ''embarrassed and humiliated.''
But he said he felt powerless to speak out and feared that doing so would result in professional reprisals. ''Because he knew so many people in the industry, I felt there wasn't anything I could do about it,'' the actor said.
At the time of the incident, Hudson was a publicist at Full Picture, a marketing and brand management firm that has clients in fashion, entertainment and other fields. About a year later, he moved to CAA, where he is an agent for commercial endorsements. He has developed close relationships with numerous celebrities '-- including pop singer Britney Spears, one of the agency's most valued clients '-- and has served as CAA's public face at red-carpet and charity events.
In a statement released by his attorney, Hudson, 30, didn't directly address the text messages but said he is gay and was single at the time. He said he met Rose at his tailor several years ago and not as a result of his employment in the entertainment industry.
''After being my friend on social media for seven years, and liking my posts, Sean is now accusing me of soliciting a sex act from him,'' he stated. ''My recollection is that he laughed it off and remained my friend on social media.''
He added: ''I have the utmost sympathy for victims of harassment and abuse, but this is no such case.''
CAA said in a statement: ''Cade was not employed at CAA at the time, and this is the first we are hearing of these accusations. We take allegations of misconduct seriously, and investigate them as appropriate.''
Jed Ferdinand, an attorney for Full Picture, confirmed that Hudson worked for Full Picture for about five years and left in January 2014. The attorney said Full Picture has no comment about the accusations.
The claims against Hudson come amid a barrage of sex-related scandals that have overtaken the entertainment industry. William Morris Endeavor recently demoted and suspended Adam Venit, the head of its motion picture group, after former NFL player and actor Terry Crews accused the agent of groping his genitals.
Tyler Grasham, who worked for the Agency for the Performing Arts, was fired in October. He has been accused by multiple men of sexual harassment and assault.
Agents wield tremendous power by serving as the primary gatekeepers for Hollywood talent. But the Harvey Weinstein scandal has raised questions about whether they did enough to prevent sexual harassment in the industry.
The New York Times reported Tuesday that several CAA agents knew about Weinstein's misconduct but still sent actresses to meet him. The agency '-- which represents many of Hollywood's biggest stars '-- issued a statement saying, ''we apologize to any person the agency let down for not meeting the high expectations we place on ourselves, as individuals and as a company.''
Sexual misconduct allegations usually pit one party's word against the other's, but the accusations against CAA's Hudson revolve almost entirely around text messages that have been saved by Rose.
Rose said he agreed to come forward as it may help others speak out. He said he is adamant that artists need to be protected and that ''enough is enough.''
Rose said the incident occurred in April 2013 when he was invited to Hudson's house near West Hollywood past midnight to hang out. The actor said he agreed to meet only because he wanted to build his professional network in hopes of finding more acting work.
He said they had briefly met twice before in public '-- first when Hudson introduced himself as a publicist at a parking lot in Los Angeles a few years before. Later, they crossed paths at a hotel in Bel-Air, where Rose was working.
Rose said that Hudson mentioned several times his friends in the industry and at one point told the actor in a text that he should pursue modeling because ''u have the look.''
The actor said he brought a friend with him to Hudson's house that night. The friend has corroborated that he accompanied Rose and that Rose told him about the text messages after the meeting was over.
During the visit, Rose said Hudson spilled a drink on his pants. According to Rose, Hudson proceeded to wipe Rose's pants and put his hand on his inner thigh. Rose said he pushed Hudson's hand away.
Hudson said he has no recollection of spilling the drink on his lap. ''If it happened, it was accidental. I did not and would not have touched Mr. Rose without his consent,'' he said in the statement.
Hudson later went into another room to fetch a pair of sweatpants and then began texting Rose, the actor said.
''I pay u 500 to have ur friend bounce,'' Hudson wrote, according text messages reviewed by The Times. The Times verified that the phone number associated with the text messages belongs to the agent.
''LOL I g2g [got to go] soon,'' the actor texted back.
Hudson offered more money. ''1k stay,'' he texted, later adding, ''I know ur straight Getting [oral sex] isn't gay. U. Know. That.'' He also texted: ''All u gotta do is sick [sit] back relax...''
His texts became more aggressive. ''If BJ happens tn [tonight] ill make sure u meet her tomorrow.''
Rose said that Hudson was referring to actress Amanda Seyfried, who is a friend of the agent.
Hudson later texted: ''Ill have u meet with any director this week that I can''
Rose tried to get out of the awkward situation. ''Dude friends, '' he texted back to Hudson. ''I'm not that desperate to make it.''
The actor and his friend eventually left Hudson's house without further incident. A few days later, they exchanged more text messages, with Hudson asking if Rose would be interested in three-way sex. Rose said he wasn't interested and that he only has sex with women, according to a text.
During his short time at CAA, Hudson has built an impressive roster of celebrity clients and friends. As a commercials agent, he is responsible for finding clients lucrative endorsement deals and has represented Spears and stars including Sean Penn, Amber Valletta, Demi Lovato and Zac Efron.
This year, his 30th birthday bash was covered by celebrity publications including TMZ, and was attended by many of his A-list clients. The TMZ headline described him as ''Hollywood's most popular agent.''
At CAA, Hudson is known for his ties to celebrities and has been photographed hanging out with Paris Hilton. In April, he served as an honorary co-chair of the World of Children Hero Awards, a celebrity gala event benefiting the children's charity that was co-sponsored by CAA.
Rose said he recently spoke with Hudson by phone and text in light of all of the sexual harassment scandals in Hollywood.
''I said I wasn't comfortable with what happened years ago,'' Rose said. ''He said he was drunk and that he's sober now.''
Rose said he wanted to meet in person and Hudson suggested the Polo Lounge. The actor suggested another location and they agreed. But he said Hudson ultimately canceled.
The actor said he was then surprised to receive an email letter from the agent's attorney in late November.
Twitter: @DavidNgLAT
Bryan Singer rape accuser says fear of being outed kept him from going to police in 2003
Director Bryan Singer faces lawsuit over alleged rape of teen in 2003
Cory Booker Calls On Donald Trump To Resign Over Sexual Misconduct Allegations
Mon, 11 Dec 2017 17:57
Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) is calling on President Donald Trump to resign over the more than a dozen sexual misconduct allegations against him.
Booker made the comments Saturday during a campaign event in Alabama to support Doug Jones, the state's Democratic candidate for Senate. Jones is engaged in a tight race against embattled Republican candidate Roy Moore, whose campaign has been dogged by sexual misconduct accusations.
Booker told VICE News that the sexual harassment allegations against Trump are ''far more damning'' than the claims against Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), who on Thursday announced his resignation from office after multiple women accused him of groping them.
''I just watched Al Franken do the honorable thing and resign,'' Booker said. ''My question is '-- why isn't Donald Trump doing the same thing? Who has more serious allegations against him, with more women who have come forward.''
(Joe Raedle via Getty Images)
More While Trump has been quick to call out other high-profile men accused of sexual misconduct in recent weeks, including Franken and Matt Lauer, who was fired from NBC's ''Today'' show over sexual assault allegations, he's refrained from applying the same level of scrutiny to his own behavior.
At least 19 women have accused Trump of sexual misconduct, including forcible kissing and groping, since the 1980s. He even bragged about grabbing women ''by the pussy'' in 2005 on the now-infamous ''Access Hollywood'' tape.
Trump denied the allegations throughout his 2016 presidential campaign and dismissed the ''Access Hollywood'' recording as merely ''locker room talk.'' In October, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders suggested all the women accusing Trump of sexual harassment were lying.
Booker's comments follow a call by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) that Trump should resign.
''The president should resign because he certainly has a track record with more than 17 women of horrific conduct,'' Merkley said on Thursday.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) tweeted on Thursday that Trump should ''think about resigning,'' a point he reiterated on Sunday during NBC's ''Meet The Press.''
As lawmakers push for Trump's record of alleged sexual misconduct to be re-examined, the president is working to get Moore elected in the Alabama Senate race. Despite his swift condemnation of Franken, Trump has endorsed Moore, a man accused of making sexual advances toward teenagers when he was in his 30s decades ago.
''We cannot afford, this country, the future of this country, cannot afford to lose a seat in the very, very close United States Senate,'' Trump told a crowd Friday at a rally in Florida near the Alabama border. ''Get out and vote for Roy Moore!''
This article originally appeared on HuffPost.
Veteran Anchor Steve Edwards Out at 'Good Day L.A.' '' Variety
Tue, 12 Dec 2017 04:46
Steve Edwards, who has served as the anchor of Fox 11's ''Good Day L.A.'' for more than two decades and has been a fixture in L.A.-area TV since the '70s, is out at the morning news show. A spokesperson said Edwards is ''no longer employed by KTTV,'' the station that hosts the Los Angeles-based Fox ['...]
''CLICK'': CNN Contributing Host Ryan Lizza Fired from New Yorker'...
Tue, 12 Dec 2017 05:03
Why Do Some Men (Louis C.K.) Need to Masturbate In Front of Women? [''An explanation is not an excuse.'' That's a good thing to remember.]
Tue, 12 Dec 2017 05:07
Source: Juno Gemini DeiantArt Licensed for non-commercial use Google Images
Among the weirdest peccadilloes to emerge in the recent flood of stories of sexual harassment are those situations in which a man invites or coerces a woman to watch him masturbate. Analyzing the psychology of such a man can potentially help us understand the various forms of toxic masculinity currently filling the headlines. As a therapist, I've seen a few men who have done this kind of thing and most are driven by intolerable anxiety. The exhibitionistic fantasy'--that's what this is'--originates in the man's need to reassure himself that his penis, his manhood, is not bad, defective, or insignificant. A key part of the imagined scenario is that the woman is fascinated and excited by the display, which affirms the man's positive sense of masculinity and momentarily relieves his anxiety. This dynamic is usually unconscious.
Of course, the actual woman complaining about this behavior invariably feels controlled, degraded, or ashamed. But her experience of humiliation does not necessarily imply that the exhibitionist's main goal is to humiliate her. He needs to set up a situation, over and over, in which he can escape anxiety; he's not primarily out to make women suffer. He uses women as a kind of mirror that, in his mind, reflects back admiration and excitement, not horror or disappointment; the women just feel used.
Normal masculinity in our culture is shot through with anxiety. For reasons that can only be discerned on an analyst's couch, the normal stresses of growing up male become so extreme to some men, and their particular life circumstances make women so ''available,'' that sexual exhibitionism becomes a compelling fantasy to enact. When these ingredients are present, you get someone like Louis C.K.
In what ways is masculinity riddled with anxiety? First, for boys, the challenge of separating and individuating from a (usually female) caretaker becomes intertwined with the formation of masculinity. Boys not only have to become separate from their mothers, but to become masculine at the same time. The problem is that masculinity becomes defined as something that is not feminine. Further, our patriarchal culture leads the boy to devalue femininity in order to reinforce this separation process. The resulting personality structure in boys and, later, men, therefore tends to be rigid, competitive, intolerant of dependency and vulnerability, and guilty about rejecting or otherwise hurting women. This type of personality is inherently threatened by intimacy and tormented by fears of fraudulence, of being revealed as insufficiently masculine. Doubts about one's masculinity abound.
Freud called this anxiety castration anxiety; most people know it as male insecurity. It drives a man to overcompensate with narcissistic displays of ego and with competitive aggression, especially with women, in order to reassure himself that he is powerful and important, masculine, rather than weak and vulnerable, that is, feminine. One only has to read the daily news coming out of the Trump White House to see this dynamic in action.
When a man's anxiety is high enough, the masturbatory sexual fantasy becomes a compulsion and blots out any genuine empathy he might feel. High levels of anxiety cause such men, desperate for anything that will bring them relief, to become especially self-centered. In the search for relief, empathy falls by the wayside. In fact, a man's inability to grasp the effect of his exposure on others is a good measure of his psychological disturbance. It's impossible to say why anxiety that is commonly seen in most men might lead one of them, Louis C.K., for example, to sexually act out with women when another man deals with it by, say, showing off in competitive sports. That's for his therapist to figure out.
This internal struggle does not excuse C.K. for abusing his power. But from a psychological point of view, power is a crucial part of the picture as men like Louis C.K. have the social, economic, and professional means to put their fantasies into practice'--to coerce their sexual objects to behave in ways that fit their fantasies. For the powerful, their wishes become the world's command.
To understand these men, we need to understand how sexual fantasies function to reduce or mitigate anxiety. In addition to being a private daydream, a fantasy is usually embedded and expressed in a person's sexual preferences: the particular scenarios, positions, body types, and storylines that turn them on. The job of the fantasy in a person's psychology is to counteract, usually unconsciously, the inhibiting effects of guilt, shame, worry, helplessness, or inferiority. These feelings threaten to evoke anxiety, which always dampens arousal. When the fantasy lifts the roadblock to pleasure, the result is excitement. All fantasies work this way, regardless of how emotionally healthy the person is.
For example, some people especially enjoy being playfully dominated in bed. The fantasy and, if they can get it, the act help such people momentarily transcend their guilt and anxiety about hurting or overwhelming a partner. The sexual scenario of being overpowered ''works'' because the partner's apparent strength counteracts the inhibiting effects of worry and guilt. Unconsciously speaking, it reduces anxiety.
In a similar way, when a man masturbates in front of a captive audience and can believe she is enjoying the sight, it ''works'' for him because it offers reassurance that his penis, the symbol of his masculinity, is desirable, not noxious. There is nothing inherently pathological about exhibitionistic scenarios if they are part of consensual erotic play.
With Louis C.K., however, as with other men who are compulsively drawn to this type of situation, the underlying anxiety is likely so intense that their judgment becomes grossly impaired. Swept away are all other considerations, like the woman's feelings and the possibility of getting caught.
An explanation is not an excuse. Men like Louis C.K. have a responsibility to deal with their neuroses in ways that do not harm other people. That is what therapists are for. But if we want to understand why such a man is aroused by masturbating in front of women, the answer lies not in the power he is exercising but in the anxiety he is attempting to assuage. Such anxiety makes him unable to understand and respect women as people but instead drives him to use women as a means to a psychological and erotic end.
Brave New Films c3 - GuideStar Profile
Tue, 12 Dec 2017 13:01
Our programsWhat are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Justice, Income Inequality, Immigration Reform, Gun Safety
Brave New Fellowship - diversity training program
Brave New Educators - free films and discussion guides to schools
Campaigns - various social justice issues explored in short video form from Criminal Justice to Immigration Reform to Income Inequality
The Real NRA - gun safety film about the hundreds of millions gun manufacturers make
Population(s) Served
Ethnic/Racial Minorities -- General
General Public/Unspecified
About - Brave New Films
Tue, 12 Dec 2017 12:59
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Our mission is to champion social justice issues by using a model of media, education, and grassroots volunteer involvement that inspires, empowers, motivates and teaches civic participation and makes a difference.
Robert Greenwald and Brave New Films are creating a better America, and we want you to join us. Using media, films, volunteers and internet video campaigns, Brave New Films has created a quick-strike capability that informs the public, challenges mainstream media with the truth, and motivates people to take action on social issues nationwide.
From exposing the private prison crisis to helping middle class and poor workers to understanding where your tax dollars are going, our groundbreaking social media campaigns have revolutionized activism. We are reaching millions through YouTube, bloggers, networking sites, and strategic partnerships '-- and we're getting results.
You are critical to advancing these hard-hitting campaigns. We can't create a socially conscious nation alone.
Please consider donating today to help us create and distribute cutting-edge films that get results. All donations are tax deductible.
Brave New Films is a non-partisan, non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization that carries out the Brave New Films mission by creating and distributing educational films. Brave New Films Action Fund is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization that conducts legislative activity necessary to carry out the mission of the Brave New Films family. Neither of the Brave New Films organizations makes contributions to or expressly advocates for the election or defeat of candidates for public office.
Awards2014 Media for a just society award for Our Turn to Dream2014 LA Webfest outstanding reality/documentary series for Prison Profiteers2014 LA Webfest outstanding writing in reality/documentary series for Prison Profiteers2013 Media for a just society award for Law and Disorder2009 Bronze Telly for This Brave Nation2008 Laurel AwardsFoundationsWe would like to thank the gracious foundations and individuals who have made our work possible.
The Schooner FoundationThe Leif Nissen FoundationAnnual ReportsBrave New Films is dedicated to making an impact with each film and short we produce. Our annual reports are available for download below.
2016 Annual Report
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Some of Our Partners
Staff - Brave New Films
Tue, 12 Dec 2017 12:57
Click on each staff member's photo to learn more!
Robert GreenwaldPresidentRobert Greenwald is the founder and president of Brave New Films, a nonprofit film and campaigns organization whose work is distributed for free in concert with nonprofit partners and movements in order to educate and mobilize for progressive causes. The work of Brave New Films has been screened over seven continents and viewed over tens of millions of times and counting.
His most recent full-length feature documentary, illustrates the connection between gun industry profits and...
Jim MillerExecutive Director Jim Miller is the Executive Director of Brave New Films, a position he has held for the past 11 years. Most recently he produced the documentary 'Making A Killing: Guns, Greed, and the NRA. In addition, he produced the docs 'Koch Brothers Exposed', 'War on Whistleblowers' and 'Unmanned: America's Drone Wars'. Jim is responsible for helping to form our partner coalitions to help spread our videos throughout the world. His film experience began over 25 years ago working on the film...
Devin SmithVice President of Operations Devin Smith is the Vice President of Operations at Brave New Films, overseeing the operations, business, and legal affairs of the company. Previously, he was a producer at Robert Greenwald Productions where he produced the critically acclaimed documentaries "Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism" and "Uncovered: The War on Iraq". At Brave New Films, Devin has produced "Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price" and " Iraq For Sale: The War Profiteers ". He was also a producer on two documentary television...
Kimber KisselDevelopment Associate Kimber grew up in Encinitas, CA and got her B.A. in Political Science & Sociology at the University of California Santa Barbara, go Gauchos- Ole. In July of 2014 Kimber joined Brave New Films as the Development Associate and still wakes up every morning delighted to go to work! When she is not fighting for social justice and helping make an impact you can find Kimber running on the beach, surfing in the ocean and sharing her exceptional wit...
Marc FuscoSupervising Producer Marc Fusco is the Production Supervisor at Brave New Films, with over 14 years of experience in film & video production. He has produced everything from Studio, TV, Independent Features, Mini-Docs, commercials, and marketing material for all of the above. Marc has worked all around the world including Italy, England, Japan, South Korea, Canada, Puerto Rico, and across Central America. He has received numerous awards for his accomplishments in Film, most notably an honorary induction into the Art, Literature &...
Angel MortelFellowship Coordinator Angel Mortel is the Fellowship Coordinator at Brave New Films. She spent over 15 years in Brazil where she was involved in organizing community health volunteers, coordinating an income generation project for women and fundraising for prison ministry. Her passion for social justice grew out of her experiences in Brazil, but also from living and teaching in inner city Washington, DC and working with Bread for the World and Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns. She has a BA in English and...
Shira LevineAssociate Producer Shira Levine is storyteller. A journalist by trade, she makes the transition from print and digital editorial to motion pictures as a producer at Brave New Films. A recent New York transplant, Shira worked for the United Nations agency, UNFPA on issues around human rights and sustainability. She created and facilitated media trainings for women working throughout the Global South for the Women's Learning Partnership. As a journalist, Shira has journeyed around the world travel writing. She spent...
Amy KorngiebelDistribution Coordinator Amy comes to BNF with a background in both production and international development. She has over a decade of experience in television production and has produced documentaries, reality, and late-night talk shows for a variety of networks, including ABC, Fox Television, Discovery, National Geographic, and OWN. In addition to her work in production, she holds a graduate degree in international development from The New School. Her graduate work focused on community-led development, environmental conservation and food security. She's...
S. Rae PeoplesProgram Director S. Rae Peoples is a dedicated mother, education administrator, and social activist. Her work is deeply rooted in the belief that the narratives and experiences of people from traditionally silenced and oppressed communities have the power to create and execute strategies to effect change in their communities. With a B.A. in Spanish and Political Science, and an M.A. in College Student Personnel, she has served as a student affairs practitioner in postsecondary education for over 20...
Emilia LarsenGraphic Designer Melissa UgsOperations Coordinator Melissa joined Brave New Films in 2015. She's an advocate for human rights, environmental justice, and immigrant rights. Born and raised in Torrance, CA to Peruvian immigrants and raised by a single mother in a household of bold and independent women. She has been traveling the globe since the age of one and is an advocate for solo-traveling. While in college studying anthropology and global studies at UCLA, she began researching sociocultural norms and the many faces of capitalism in...
Mitchelle JangaraFellow Mitchelle Jangara is a passionate filmmaker from Nairobi, Kenya. She enjoys the directing and editing processes in filmmaking, being chiefly self-taught. Mitchelle has work experience in film, taking up different roles such as Editor in Art is the Weapon and Street Art Graffiti, Line Producer in Ririkana, and Assistant Director in Let's Play Pretend among many others. She has a growing interest in making social justice films, immersing herself in stories that she would normally never have known about, discovering...
Miguel GutierrezFellow Originally from Chicago, Illinois, Miguel Gutierrez Jr. is a multimedia producer and visual journalist living in Austin, Texas. His work has appeared in Mitº, The New York Times, and Public Radio International. He is a first-generation college graduate, and in 2015 earned a dual M.A. in Latin American Studies and Journalism from the University of Texas at Austin. While in Chicago, he was involved with the immigrant rights movement, and upon moving to Texas, initiated a research project that sought...
Mehak AnwarFellow Mehak Anwar was born in Karachi, Pakistan, raised in the Pacific Northwest, and completed her undergraduate degree in Boston, Massachusetts where she studied journalism and feminist theory. She has published writing on intersectional feminism, LGBTQIA rights, food insecurity, gun control, institutionalized racism, and media representation of marginalized communities. Outside of her formal studies and published work, Mehak has spent time researching climate change and environmental justice, indigenous rights, mass incarceration, and public housing. In her free time, she can be...
Jessica Estelle HugginsFellow Jessica Estelle Huggins, a Boston Native, has been a resident of the city of Chicago since 2008. Immersed in the Columbia College Chicago artistic culture, Jessica dove into film exploring her many talents in writing, directing, editing and casting. Her true passion is creative producing. She has a variety of creative material under her belt as she's served in many different roles as producer, director, writer for several short films, music videos, web-series and a feature film in both Boston...
Claudia RamirezFellow Claudia Ramirez is a queer woman raised in MacArthur Park (Los Angeles). The early years of immigrant rights activism have shaped much of Claudia's commitment to social justice. As a queer woman, Claudia understands the importance of intersectional organizing as an integral part of movement building. Throughout the years, she has worked with several community organizations to advocate for more opportunities for all undocumented communities. Claudia currently lives in the city of Long Beach where she enjoys tending to her...
Brave new pets
Board - Brave New Films
Tue, 12 Dec 2017 12:57
DAVID BRYANMr. Bryan was born in New York City. He attended the State University of New York at Stony Brook (BA, Social Science Interdisciplinary, 1974), the University of California at Los Angeles (MS, Kinesiology, 1978), and the State University of New York at Buffalo (JD, Law, 1982; Ph.D., Communication, 1985). In 1990 he moved to Los Angeles, where he taught briefly in the LA Unified public school district, and then for six years at Crossroads School for Arts & Science where he taught and and served as the Dean of Human Development. In 1995 he became the President, founding Head of School, and a teacher at New Roads School, a position he held until July 2013. Under his leadership New Roads grew from a small independent middle school in Santa Monica to include grades Kindergarten through 12 on four campuses in Los Angeles and Santa Monica, CA. Mr. Bryan is currently a Lecturer in the Economics Department at UC Santa Cruz, an education consultant to Digital Horizons, an educational start up, and the Treasurer and a member of the Executive Board of a local Democratic Club.
SHEPARD FAIREYShepard Fairey was born in Charleston, S.C. He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Illustration at the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, R.I. While at R.I.S.D. he created the ''Andre the Giant has a Posse'' sticker that transformed into the OBEY GIANT art campaign, with imagery that has changed the way people see art and the urban landscape. His work has evolved into an acclaimed body of art, which includes the 2008 "Hope" portrait of Barack Obama, which can be found in the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery.
Fairey created the first of his iconic works in 1990, making 2014 the 25 year mark of his career. In addition to his guerrilla street art presence, the artist has executed more than 43 large-scale painted public murals around the world as of 2015. His works are in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery, the Boston Institute of Contemporary Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and many others.
ROBERT GREENWALDMr. Greenwald is an award-winning producer and director of more than 60 features, television movies and miniseries. His work has garnered awards from organizations including the ACLU and Physicians for Social Responsibility, in addition to an Office of the Americas Activist in the Trenches award, a Liberty Hill Upton Sinclair Award, the Robert Wood Johnson Award, and a Peacemaker Award from The Los Angeles Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild.
ROGER LOWENSTEINRoger Lowenstein was a prominent criminal defense attorney in New Jersey before moving out to Los Angeles to write for television (L.A. Law, any show with a lawyer or cop). In 2001, he founded the Los Angeles Leadership Academy, a K-12 public charter school in Lincoln Heights serving some of the poorest families in California. He also servers on the Board of the ACLU of Southern California, The Center for the Study of Political Graphics, and is a Trustee of Southwestern Law School.
IRENE ROMEROIrene Romero heads the Board for DreamCatchers. She is a veteran banker with over twenty years experience servicing the financial and banking needs of the entertainment industry. She has managed the Entertainment Divisions for Wells Fargo Bank, City National Bank, Mercantile National Bank and Republic Bank California. In addition she serves on the board of LA Leadership Academy (charter school) and in actively involved in Turning Point Temporary Housing Programs.
Ms. vanden Heuvel has been editor of The Nation since 1995. She is an accomplished author and the recipient of numerous awards for public service from numerous groups, including The Liberty Hill Foundation, The Correctional Association and The Association for American-Russian Women.
Axel Caballero is Director of Corporate Social Responsibility for HBO and Former Executive Director and current board chair of the National Association of Latino Independent Producers.
For well over a decade, Axel has been active on diverse media and campaign projects from Latino media fairness and equality to immigration to human rights with a particular emphasis on the development of short films, visual and documentary film efforts. He is also the producer of Cu(C)ntame, and founder and executive producer of Latino Lens , Goodness Films and the Spanish language opinion site Metfora Pol­tica .
Conservative MP's chief of staff 'raped woman' | Daily Mail Online
Tue, 12 Dec 2017 18:13
Samuel Armstrong, pictured, allegedly raped a woman in Parliament after drinks at the Sports and Social Bar
A Conservative MP's chief of staff raped a woman in his boss's office after calling her a 'b***h' when she rebuffed his advances, a court has heard.
Samuel Armstrong, 24, is alleged to have attacked the woman, who also worked in Parliament, after drinking with her in the Sports and Social Bar.
Armstrong, an aide for South Thanet MP Craig Mackinlay, is said to have taken advantage of his victim, who is in her 20s, when they were alone in his boss's office.
A court heard she 'felt like a hostage during the attack' then 'fled through the corridors in a distressed state, shaking and crying'.
She eventually found a cleaner, who contacted police, and a jury heard she told officers she was amazed there were 'no police anywhere in one of Britain's most important buildings'.
Southwark Crown Court heard he played jazz music, then began kissing and touching the woman before asking her back to his flat in Clapham.
But when she told him 'no' several times, Armstrong repeatedly called her a 'b***h' before taking off her clothes and assaulting her, jurors were told.
The court heard she 'froze' as he became 'physical', taking off her clothes and assaulting her. Prosecutor Mark Heywood QC said the woman asked: 'What are you doing?'
Armstrong allegedly told her: 'This is what you want.'
Mr Heywood added: 'In saying that he was not, of course, genuinely speaking for her or reflecting any truth of the situation. He was imposing himself on her.'
The alleged rape took place in room G27 of the Norman Shaw North building in the early hours of October 14 last year.
The building was formerly New Scotland Yard but was refurbished in the 1970s and became part of the Palace of Westminster, with 128 MP's offices installed while a walkway between the building and Portcullis House was created in 2000.
Mr Heywood said: 'His reaction was telling: it was one full of entitlement. He was not prepared to accept any refusal.
'Instead, he became insistent, determined perhaps. As he knew perfectly well, he had her at a very distinct disadvantage.'
Armstrong then got on top of the woman, gripping her elbows as she lay back, and raped her as she tried to push him off, it is said.
'She did not ask him to do so or otherwise give him any indication: he simply did it.
'She said to him: 'What are you doing?',' said Mr Heywood.
'His answer speaks volumes: 'This is what you want!'
'In saying that he was not, of course, speaking for her or reflecting any truth of the situation. He was imposing himself on her.
Armstrong works for Conservative South Thanet MP Craig Mackinlay, pictured, and the attack allegedly took place in his office
'This even extended, at one point, to him pulling her round on top of him, while he then sat on the sofa.'
Armstrong 'kept trying' to have sex with her but after a time 'grabbed the woman by the hair and forced her head down as he raped her a second time' in an 'unpleasant attack'.
Mr Heywood added: 'Afterwards, he left her. She got herself dressed and went straight from his office, leaving that place and him there.'
Jurors heard Armstrong used another exit before sending her a number of text messages, one of which showed concern asking if she had 'any issues'.
In the first message at 2.11am he wrote 'Have you got out OK?', which was followed by another message, which said: 'At this time of night you won't be able to use the usual exits'.
In a third message at 2.16am he wrote: 'I'm concerned. If you have any issues then text me'.
The alleged victim was captured on CCTV running through the corridors of Westminster, leaving through Portcullis House at about 2.05am.
She asked a cleaner to call police when he saw her 'shaking and crying' near the closed Sports and Social bar, jurors heard.
The court heard she suffered a number of bruises and abrasions to her genitals, arms and mouth which were consistent with but do not prove the allegations.
The court heard Armstrong told the woman 'you want this' and 'raped her repeatedly' on the sofa of the office in the Norman Shaw North building (pictured left). The building was previously part of New Scotland Yard but became part of Parliament in the 1970s and has a walkway to Portcullis House to enable MPs to reach votes more quickly
Sarah Forshaw QC, defending, suggested the complainant had not wanted to hand her medical records to police because they would have revealed she suffered from mental health issues in the past.
Giving evidence in court from behind a screen, the woman denied experiencing 'extreme swings of mood', but said she was suffering from mild depression and anxiety at the time of the alleged attack.
She also admitted to having previously made a bullying claim against a female university professor.
Cross-examining the witness, Ms Forshaw suggested the complainant had invented claims Armstrong called her a 'bitch' after hearing him using the phrase 'bitch, please' as part of a running joke with his colleagues.
The barrister said: 'You picked up on that when you decided to make an untrue suggestion that you were unwilling to have sex, when you told police "he called me bitch a lot", didn't you?'
'No,' the complainant replied.
Ms Forshaw suggested the alleged victim, "inhibited by drink", found Armstrong attractive and willingly had sex with him after he gave her a tour of Parliament.
The barrister said: 'It wasn't until after you and he had had consensual sex and he let you go on your own that you found you couldn't find your way out of the House of Commons, that's what happened, and you had a sort of panic attack, anxiety ... and you couldn't find your way out?'
The woman denied the claims and replied: 'I couldn't find my way out and I was crying because a man had forced himself upon me.'
A court heard Armstrong, pictured with former prime minister David Cameron, had drinks with the woman and then 'abused his position' to take her to the office where he allegedly attacked her
The complainant told police she 'felt like a hostage' during the attack, which began after she nodded off on the sofa in Mr Mackinlay's office.
'I fell asleep and the next thing I remember was him (Armstrong) with his hand on my left breast, and him kissing my mouth and my neck,' she said during an hour-long police video interview played to the jury.
'He kept saying come back to his flat, and I kept mumbling 'no', and he kept saying it,' she said. He called me a 'b***h' a few times.'
The woman continued: 'I remember my body just freezing and I had no clue what was going on, as ridiculous as that sounds.'
She said Armstrong undressed her and himself and continued the attack as she thought 'I need to escape', and asked him: 'What are you doing?'
'He said 'This is what you want',' she told police during the November 22 interview.
NORMAN SHAW NORTH BUILDING Constructed between 1887 and 1906 and was the headquarters of the Met Police until 1967.
In the 1970s it was refurbished, with 128 offices built for MPs along with television studios, a library and a print room at a cost of £3.25million.
In 2000, a walkway was created between the building and Portcullis House to make it easier for MPs to reach votes.
It is due to undergo another refurbishment as part of a major project at Parliament, with works set to be completed in the early 2020s.
The complainant said she felt 'very vulnerable' and 'incredibly alone' as Armstrong raped her, adding: 'I felt like a hostage. I didn't know what to do. I couldn't control my body.'
Once the alleged attack was over, the complainant said she dressed and left as soon as possible, first walking, then running through Westminster until she found a cleaner, who alerted police.
'It 's one of the most important buildings in Britain. It has no police anywhere,' she said.
The court heard Armstrong has a 'clear interest in politics' and had previously worked as a volunteer activist for the Conservative Party while still at university.
He was recommended to Mr Mackinlay as 'a hard worker' and, following some part-time interning, was employed as the MP's Chief of Staff in April 2016.
His role involved running Mr Mackinlay's office, organising his media campaigns and also having oversight over more junior members of staff.
Jurors were told Mr Mackinlay's office was located in the Norman Shaw building, which is security controlled with access limited to those authorised by the Parliamentary authorities.
Armstrong had a pass along with an electronic key to access his boss' room.
The pair were drinking in the Sports and Social Bar, pictured, earlier in the night before Armstrong 'took advantage of the woman'
His alleged victim, who is in her 20s, had been at home earlier on the day of the incident and was greeted by Armstrong at the entrance to the Palace at around 8pm.
Having escorted her through security the pair, described in court as 'quite good friends', joined Armstrong's friends and colleagues at the Sports and Social Bar.
'The atmosphere was very friendly, very relaxed,' said Mr Heywood adding there was 'nothing of any concern to anyone'.
Shortly after 9.30pm he took the woman to the roof garden terrace, usually off limits to visitors, to see Big Ben chime on the hour before heading back to the bar.
'The mood was light-hearted '' she put it herself, very jolly,' said Mr Heywood.
'Playful is how she described it.'
The prosecutor told jurors the woman recalled having 'had four or five drinks' and rated herself 'a half' on a ten-point scale.
As the bar closed up and the guests dwindled away, the pair were spotted on CCTV cameras making their way back to his boss' office.
'There was physical contact from time to time,' the prosecutor continued.
'For example, she took and held his arm as they walked along. It is clear, as she says, they had already become good friends.'
Mr Heywood added: 'The prosecution suggests there is no apparent difficulty at all and entirely in accordance with a view that they are together, friendly with occasional physical contact at that point - nothing more or less.'
Once inside the office, the pair sat at a three-seater sofa as jazz music played through a laptop computer before the woman fell asleep.
'At this time we have now reached, ladies and gentlemen, is where it began to go wrong, in the early hours,' said Mr Heywood.
'The prosecution case is that the defendant took advantage of that situation.
'She was being obviously open and friendly towards him.
'The next she was aware of, she was leaning back on the sofa and he had his hand on her, moving towards her left breast.
'He was leaning over her, pulling her bottom lip and kissing her on her mouth neck.
'These attentions had not been the subject of any indication between them or any discussion beforehand.
The court heard the pair had seemed 'good friends' and had 'playful' exchanges at the bar, pictured, earlier in the evening
'He had said nothing before this about any such intention and she had said nothing directly to invite it.
'This was the defendant pressing his own attentions onto her and in doing so he made his intentions perfectly clear by saying 'Come back to my flat'.'
Armstrong, from Danbury in Essex, is standing trial at London's Southwark Crown Court, where he denies two counts of rape, one of sexual assault and one of assault by penetration on October 14, 2016.
He was arrested at 5.39am and later gave a prepared statement to police which said: 'I deny the allegation of rape and wish to say that any contact between (the complainant) and I was at all times consensual.
'I do not wish to say anything further at this point.'
Armstrong appeared in the dock on Tuesday wearing a dark suit, as the prosecutor outlined the case against him.
Mr Heywood said: 'On a night in the autumn of last year this defendant abused his position.'
He told a jury of seven women and five men 'after an evening of drinking at his workplace', Armstrong 'took advantage of' his alleged victim after hours when they were alone in Mr Mackinlay's office.
Jurors were told Armstrong claims what happened took place with 'full consent'.
The trial, which is expected to last for two weeks, continues.
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Schumer calls cops after forged sex scandal charge - Axios
Wed, 13 Dec 2017 11:28
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Netflix Fires Exec Who Told Danny Masterson Accuser "We Don't Believe" Rape Claims | Hollywood Reporter
Thu, 14 Dec 2017 00:22
5:40 PM PST 12/12/2017 by Natalie Jarvey
Netflix has fired the executive who told one of Danny Masterson's alleged sexual assault victims that he did not believe the claims against the former Ranch star, sources tell The Hollywood Reporter.
Andy Yeatman, director of global kids content at Netflix, was let go from Netflix on Monday over his early December comments, made on the sidelines of a children's soccer game. The Netflix exec is said to have not known that he was speaking to one of the accusers.
"Mr. Yeatman is no longer employed at Netflix," a Netflix spokeswoman confirmed Tuesday in a statement.
Yeatman responded on Wednesday morning with a statement that reads in part, "I am proud of Netflix's values and I condemn sexual violence in the strongest possible terms. I have always believed the victims voices should be heard and that every victim should get the justice they deserve. My heart goes out to anyone who has been sexually assaulted or harmed in any way."
On Dec. 4, HuffPost published the account of an anonymous Masterson accuser '-- referred to as ''Victim B" '-- who says that she met Yeatman at a soccer game in Los Angeles. When Victim B discovered that Yeatman worked for Netflix, she confronted him and asked why the streamer had not taken action against Masterson. According to HuffPost's retelling of the exchange, based on accounts from Victim B and other witnesses, Yeatman said that Netflix takes misconduct allegations seriously but ''we don't believe'' Masterson's accusers.
At the time, Netflix confirmed that Yeatman had made the comments, saying that ''Mr. Yeatman's comments were careless, uninformed and do not represent the views of the company. Further, he would have no insights into decision making on The Ranch. We are aware of the allegations against Danny Masterson and we are following the current investigation, and will respond if developments occur."
The day after the HuffPost piece was published, Netflix announced that it had fired Masterson from The Ranch. ''As a result of ongoing discussions, Netflix and the producers have written Danny Masterson out of The Ranch. [Monday] was his last day on the show, and production will resume in early 2018 without him,'' the company said in a Dec. 5 statement. Masterson will appear in the second half of season two, which debuts Friday, and could also appear in parts of season three.
Before Netflix cut ties with Masterson, the streaming giant drew criticism for continuing its relationship with the actor, who also served as co-executive producer of The Ranch. A Los Angeles Police Department investigation into allegations of sexual assault by multiple women in the early 2000s against Masterson became public in March. In July, several months after the LAPD investigation first came to light, Netflix renewed the scripted comedy, one of its most-watched series during the first 24 hours after release, for a third 20-episode season.
One of Masterson's accusers, Chrissie Carnell Bixler, spoke out against the streamer in November after it took quick action to suspend production of House of Cards following sexual assault allegations against star Kevin Spacey. ''I will NOT shut my mouth when Netflix tries to make us feel like we don't matter,'' she toldThe Daily Beast. ''We DO matter. We ARE important. We will see justice for what was done to us, and is continuing to be done to us ... and for all those who knew/know and are either actively helping this serial rapist or are choosing to stay silent ... YOU don't matter.''
An online petition demanding that Netflix fire the star followed, garnering more than 38,000 signatures.
Masterson has denied the allegations. ''I am obviously very disappointed in Netflix's decision to write my character off of The Ranch,'' he said in a statement responding to his firing. ''From day one, I have denied the outrageous allegations against me. Law enforcement investigated these claims more than 15 years ago and determined them to be without merit. I have never been charged with a crime, let alone convicted of one.''
Yeatman's full statement reads, "While I was coaching one of my daughter's soccer games, I was approached by a stranger who asked if I worked at Netflix. She went on to question why we were not canceling a show in which one of the actors was accused of sexual assault. To try and end the conversation and refocus on the soccer game I made a careless and uniformed comment. I did not know that the woman was one of the victims and I deeply regret that I did not have the opportunity to focus on the conversation.
"I am proud of Netflix's values and I condemn sexual violence in the strongest possible terms. I have always believed that victims voices should be heard and that every victim should get the justice they deserve. My heart goes out to anyone who has been sexually assaulted or harmed in any way.
"I am truly grateful to all the friends, colleagues and members of my community who know me and my family and have reached out to support us during this difficult time. For those who don't know me and only read the headlines, think about yourself in this situation and how a 30-second conversation on a Sunday morning could change the course of your life."
Dec. 13, 11:46 a.m. Updated to include Yeatman's statement.
'Tavis Smiley' Talk Show Suspended After PBS Investigation Into Sexual Misconduct Claims Against Host '' Deadline
Thu, 14 Dec 2017 00:30
PBS has suspended its longtime late-night talker Tavis Smiley after looking into allegations of sexual conduct against its host.
The pubcaster said that an inquiry into Tavis Smiley, who has fronted the LA-produced show for nearly 14 years, ''uncovered multiple, credible allegations of conduct that is inconsistent with the values and standards of PBS.''
''Effective today, PBS has indefinitely suspended distribution of Tavis Smiley, produced by TS Media, an independent production company,'' a PBS spokesperson said in a statement. ''PBS engaged an outside law firm to conduct an investigation immediately after learning of troubling allegations regarding Mr. Smiley. This investigation included interviews with witnesses as well as with Mr. Smiley. The inquiry uncovered multiple, credible allegations of conduct that is inconsistent with the values and standards of PBS, and the totality of this information led to today's decision.''
There were no details provided about the alleged misconduct, but our sister site Variety cites sources as saying a lawyer at the firm hired to conduct the investigation took reports from 10 witnesses, a mix of men and women of different races and employment levels in Smiley's organization. Most of them are former staffers.
In October 2015, Warner Bros TV signed an exclusive multi-year development and production pod deal with Smiley '-- who's also a broadcaster, author and producer '-- to develop scripted TV series for broadcast and cable.
The suspension comes three weeks after PBS canceled Charlie Rose amid numerous sexual misconduct allegations against that show's host.
Our sister site Variety first reported the Smiley news.
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How New York Times Broke the Harvey Weinstein Story '' Variety
Thu, 14 Dec 2017 11:13
Want proof that journalism matters? Look no further than Harvey Weinstein. Were it not for The New York Times and The New Yorker, the indie mogul would still be hobnobbing at Oscar parties, attending movie premieres and, if allegations are to be believed, routinely abusing and harassing women.
Instead, Weinstein is facing multiple criminal investigations and possible jail time. He's been fired from the Weinstein Co. and drummed out of Hollywood. And he's got company. Since the Times published its first story on Weinstein's abuses, a slew of big-name media and entertainment personalities have been exposed as serial harassers or abusers. Charlie Rose, Matt Lauer, Brett Ratner and Kevin Spacey are just a few of the figures who are being forced to face the music, as other news organizations pick up where the Times and The New Yorker left off.
CREDIT: Jake Chessum for Variety
New York Times investigative reporters Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor deserve a lot of credit for helping to spark this industry-wide reckoning. Their tenacity helped them break the initial Weinstein story and, along with The New Yorker's Ronan Farrow, they've painted a portrait of a serial predator who was able to use his power to prey on female employees and actresses in a methodical fashion. By meticulously chronicling Weinstein's abuses, these reporters have inspired other people to speak out and go public about the cultures of harassment in the workplace.
''This was a story that only got bigger and deeper as we kept going,'' Kantor says.
On a recent Friday afternoon at the Times' midtown Manhattan offices, Kantor and Twohey took a break from reporting on a blockbuster expos(C) about the institutions and power brokers who enabled Weinstein's bad behavior to reflect on the fallout from their stories. They also discussed the substantive change they hope the wave of harassment allegations will inspire.
What prompted your investigation into Harvey Weinstein?
Kantor: The Times has made a huge commitment to sexual harassment reporting. Our colleagues Emily Steel and Mike Schmidt broke the Bill O'Reilly story, and our colleague Katie Benner wrote about female entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley who are pressured by venture capitalists for sexual favors. I know it seems like those were many sexual harassment stories ago, but at the time, they were really a light-bulb moment for the paper because they made us realize there may be a lot more buried truths here.
Donald Trump was accused of multiple instances of sexual harassment and was caught on tape bragging about grabbing a woman's private parts. Yet he was still elected president. Did that motivate women to come forward about Weinstein?
Twohey: Emily Steel says that some of the women in the O'Reilly stories decided to speak out after Trump's election. There was a flare-up of public discussion around sexual assault and sexual harassment during the campaign with the ''Access Hollywood'' tape. Even though Trump went on to be elected, some of the women that she reported on still felt angered and empowered to come forward.
Kantor: It cut both ways. Some women felt that this is what I can contribute now to this moment in American history. Other people were very discouraged by it because they felt there was a lack of accountability. They'd note that Trump was elected anyway. Another thing that was discouraging for people was that [Bill] Cosby hasn't faced criminal consequences for his alleged rapes. They would say, ''Cosby got off.''
Were you able to point to the O'Reilly story as evidence that going public about Weinstein could have an impact?
Kantor: Absolutely. The Bill O'Reilly and Silicon Valley stories meant a lot, because we could show successful examples of allegations being documented and people going on the record without apparent negative consequences. They showed that there could be accountability and impact. In those cases, it was not the world just shrugging and saying, ''I don't believe these women and I don't care.''
CREDIT: Jake Chessum for Variety
You said that Weinstein's behavior was an ''open secret.'' Did anyone know the full extent of his alleged misdeeds?
Kantor: Almost nobody knew thefull extent of what was going on. I have sources who knew a fair amount and have still been shocked by what's come out. My sense is that a lot of people had more of a vague awareness.
Were there people who you spoke to who had upsetting experiences with Weinstein that they weren't sure rose to the level of harassment?
Kantor: We lack a common definition of sexual harassment. You take Weinstein, for example: One of the revelations is that the casting couch is a form of sexual harassment. For a long time people in Hollywood didn't think of it that way. They wrote it off. They accepted it as part of the culture.
Twohey: Sometimes you'd talk to a person who said they had this odd experience with Harvey Weinstein 20 years ago where he asked them to give him a massage. You hear one story like that, and it does not make for an investigative expos(C). But that woman doesn't know she's part of a larger pattern. A request for a massage might look innocent but is actually part of a pattern of predatory behavior that can range from inappropriate comments and touching to, in the case of Weinstein, allegations of rape.
A lot of the people that you spoke to had signed nondisclosure agreements that could have prevented them from sharing information about their time working for Weinstein. Were those agreements a hurdle in breaking this story?
Kantor: Sure, but it's not specific to this story. The world has gotten much more NDA'd up. It's almost a routine conversation now that we have sources. We regularly make the case that NDAs are meant to protect proprietary company information. They are mostly threats and means of intimidation. While we can never predict any kind of legal path, it's very rare that somebody gets sued over an NDA. Harvey Weinstein is not going to want to open up a discovery process.
''A request for a massage might look innocent but is actually part of a pattern of predatory behavior that can range from inappropriate comments and touching to, in the case of Weinstein, allegations of rape.''
Megan Twohey
Twohey: If you put the NDAs aside, there were these fears that to speak out against Weinstein in any way could have negative repercussions for people's career paths. Just because people had left the Weinstein Co. or Miramax didn't mean that they felt that they were clear of Harvey Weinstein. This was a man whose tentacles extended to basically all areas of the entertainment industry.
Weinstein and others in the industry acted as gatekeepers. Getting on their good side could help people break into the business, but they could also close down access to jobs on a whim. Did that power allow them to engage in sexual predation?
Twohey: ''Gatekeeper'' is a great way to describe the role that Harvey played in the industry. Young assistants who worked for him were told if you pay your dues and go through this intense boot camp, in which you may have to suffer abuse, you will be rewarded. A letter of recommendation from Harvey Weinstein will open doors to get you the jobs that you dream of getting some day. By the same token, if you speak out, those pathways will close down.
Where does the Harvey Weinstein story go from here?
Twohey: You're not just going to see coverage of the individual predators but of the institutions behind them. Who knew what, when, are really important questions. The next layer of significant reporting, not just in the case of Harvey Weinstein but in all of the cases of sexual harassment and misconduct that are emerging, is who else is responsible? Who was aware of this predatory behavior, and what did they do? What did Disney know about Weinstein when they owned Miramax? What did the talent agencies know when they were sending women repeatedly into hotel rooms for meetings with him?
At what point did Harvey Weinstein become aware of your reporting?
Kantor: We heard from a widening circle of lawyers and PR people and crisis managers from nearly the beginning. By the end, he was trying to exert overwhelming force on the Times. He threatened to sue us. He had a large team coming at us. We were getting phone calls constantly. And that was only the stuff that was overt. There were a lot of behind-the-scenes attempts at suppressing the story.
What kind of behind-the-scenes attempts?
Twohey: We can't get into too much of it. One thing that surprised us was the eleventh hour emergence of Charles Harder, the lawyer who was notoriously involved in suing Gawker out of existence, as part of Weinstein's team. That was a pretty calculated move.
Was the reaction from Weinstein more intense than from other figures or companies you've published tough stories about?
Kantor: This was the desperate last stand of a man who knew that his secret was going to get out. It was very personal to him, clearly. It wasn't like dealing with a big corporation. When a big company doesn't want you to know its secrets, it's personal for them on some level, but it's still a job. With Weinstein, his whole legacy was on the line.
CREDIT: Jake Chessum for Variety
Did you have any idea that the Weinstein reporting would open the floodgates on other stories of powerful media figures engaging in sexual abuse?
Kantor: It's counterintuitive. One of our editors said to us, ''You know he's not that famous.'' It was true, because Weinstein was Hollywood famous, but he wasn't a household name. One of our editors, Matt Purdy, has an interesting theory, which is that this was the rare situation in which the accusers were more famous than the accused.
I'm of two minds about the potency of fame in making this story impactful. On one hand, I kind of resist and resent it, because I believe every woman's story counts. Harvey Weinstein appears to have done the same thing to a lot of women regardless of their stature in the industry. As a journalist and as a human being, I don't like the idea of weighting the more famous women's stories more heavily than the lesser-known women's stories. That said, I have to concede that the impact of big stars like Ashley Judd, Angelina Jolie and Gwyneth Paltrow going on the record was enormous, in part because they were saying it's not shameful to tell your story. I ask myself would it have played out the same way if the really famous women had not come forward? I'm not sure it would have.
The New Yorker's Ronan Farrow has published several bombshell pieces on Weinstein's alleged sexual misconduct and attempts to intimidate journalists and accusers. Have you talked with him?
Kantor: Barely. We exchanged an email or two. We formally invite him for a drink some time.
Twohey: We just want to tip our hat to Ronan Farrow. We'd like to acknowledge the impressive and important work that he did.
Jodi, after the Weinstein story broke, you were interviewed on ''CBS This Morning'' by Charlie Rose. Now he's lost that job because of harassment allegations. What is it like to look back on that interview?
Kantor: I guess I'd just like to know what Charlie was thinking as we were talking.
This harassment scandal has grown to the point where a Times colleague, Glenn Thrush, now faces accusations. Is it discomfiting to report on a story that eventually lands so close to home?
Kantor: These allegations are hitting close to home for so many people. This is personal for almost everybody, whether you're a woman who has been harassed or if you know somebody in your office who has dealt with something like this. I wonder how many of your readers know somebody whose life has been affected in some way by this or who works for an organization that's dealing with similar allegations. It adds to the feeling that this is kind of a collective experience.
Twohey: The New York Times is investigating [the Thrush] allegations, and we're completely removed from that investigation.
More and more outlets are chasing stories of harassment. Is the competition changing things?
Twohey: There are stories that news organizations want to horde and keep to themselves. This is not one of them. As journalists who care about the issue of sexual harassment and assault, we're thrilled to see so many other news organizations take up these stories. It's helping to expose the issue in a way that a single news organization can't do on its own.
''Sometimes it has felt as though we're standing in a river of pain, and I don't want to diminish that, but there have also been moments of recognition and hope and connection. The question now is whether or not private pain can be turned into collective strength.''
Jodi Kantor
We can only speak for what we do here at the Times. It's been two months since the first Weinstein story, and the standards that we apply to doing this type of reporting and publishing stories hasn't changed just because there's competition. We are very determined to get women on the record. We are looking for documents that corroborate allegations. Are things moving at a faster pace? Are Jodi and I working around the clock as we try to nail the next story? Yes, but are we altering the standards that we use? No.
Some outlets are now publishing stories about alleged harassers without any sources going on the record. That goes to issues of power and repercussions. Do you think it's right that historically the accuser always had to go public if they wanted justice?
Kantor: It's a fair question, and there are women who have said to us, ''Why is it women's work to do this? I didn't do anything to get harassed. I was just showing up to work every day, so why is this my problem to solve?'' We take that question seriously. We look for varieties of evidence. You could argue that on-the-record statements from women are the essential ingredient, but there are other forms of evidence too. There are internal documents. There are emails. There are human resources records. There's the settlement trail. We emphasize those other ingredients because we do want to take the burden off the women as much as possible.
Bari Weiss recently published an opinion piece in the Times in which she argued that news outlets can't just take accusers at their word. She believes that someone is going to publish a false accusation, and there will be a backlash that's similar to what happened when Rolling Stone published a discredited story on campus rape. What's your reaction to that?
Twohey: We certainly haven't seen anything like the colossal mistake that was the Rolling Stone article. One of the more interesting stories to come out was that there was a false allegation that was brought to The Washington Post involving [Alabama U.S. Senate candidate] Roy Moore. When the paper started to investigate it, they found out it had been fabricated. They did a story about the effort to lie to them about Moore. That's evidence that news organizations are doing the due diligence.
What do you make of the #MeToo movement that has sprung up in the wake of the harassment scandal?
Twohey: Jodi and I have been so immersed in the reporting process that there have been these rare moments where you kind of catch a breath and it's 10 o'clock at night and you're saying, ''OK, I'm not going to do anymore work today, and I'm going to take a break.'' There was a night where we'd been in such a bubble for so long, and I went on to Facebook, and it was the first time that I had seen the #MeToo stories popping up on my feed from friends and relatives. It was an emotional experience for me. It brought tears to my eyes.
The stories that are coming out about these predators are so depressing. Has it taken a toll?
Kantor: It's an honor to do this work.
We always say to people that we can't change what happened to them in the past, but we need to be able to put what happened to them to some constructive purpose. Sometimes it has felt as though we're standing in a river of pain, and I don't want to diminish that, but there have also been moments of recognition and hope and connection. The question now is whether or not private pain can be turned into collective strength.
Correction: An earlier version of this article misspelled Emily Steel's last name. We regret the error.
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Deep State
Peter Strzok = Andrew McCabe
Peter Strzok (pronounced stroke) Strokes his Peter. That, my friends, is a fake name. Like Petraeus and "betray us" only this time its much more blatant.
"Strzok" is gibberish and is two letters away from "stroke." By replacing the "E" with a "Z", the DO"J" fools millions of people with a fake name that, one might say, is just "two: E,Z" (too easy) to fool you with. All under the guise of "national security" as per https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smith–Mundt_Act
McCabe and "Strzok" have the EXACT same counter-intelligence backgrounds. They gave the same "dog and pony" interviews to clinton mills and abedin which were unprecedented. Who gives suspects of the same investigation the SAME non-taped interview? A clintonite put-up maybe? Strzok is starting to sound like McCabe.
They both deliberately used fake intelligence to sabotage a sitting president by providing "intel" from chris steele for a FISA warrant. Or at leat, we're "suspicious" of it. So is congress.
They were both on the mueller witch hunt. They both are "next in line" counter intelligence agents They were both recently demoted
Strzok changed Hillary's report from "grossly negligent" (the statute) to "extremely careless." Those are synonymous. Which begs the question why change it? Is counter-intelligence a euphemism for espionage in the DO"J"? Yes.
Strzok was sending thousands of texts (exchanging intelligence) with "Lisa Page," FBI lawyer part of Mueller's team. Lisa Page (Lease a Page (lease a dossier?)) gets intel from Mueller investigation, then texts "Strzok" (McCabe) who gets FISA warrant, then the intel from FISA surveillance goes back to Mueller.
But "Strzok" will never respond to the congressional subpoenas because he doesn't exist. It's Mccabe. It's definitely McCabe on paper. If you were attempting espionage via the DOJ, why would you give house oversight the opportunity to subpoena you? You wouldn't.
If you were the FBI you would make up a fake name with a wink (I Stroke my Peter EZ) and attach McCabe's credentials to corroborate the bias narrative. Then, since no one has ever heard of him, you release a stock photo of someone in a tie with an american flag to the mockingbird media. And say "this is him."
That way, if youre a co-conspiritor in espionage (McCabe) you can discredit the russia investigation and therefore stop Flynn's (house/military/mossad intel) testimony by leaking a political bias. At the same time, you throw off congressional subpoenas with the fake name and picture all over the "news."
Otherwise you get caught before you impeach Trump.
If you get caught committing espionage (with FusionGPS) and you killed people in the process, you are an ENEMY COMBATANT OF THE STATE and will be treated as such by the military and military intel. Like pence and flynn. Betsy DeVos's brother knows where MANY bodies are buried.. That's why you sabotage flynns testimony.
4000+ sealed indictments across country.. Mueller would never publicly indict himself and his friends unless he was forced to.. Until then it's "sealed" from view He'd rather impeach trump for "obstruction" of "justice."
TL;DR Strzok is a fake name. It's the FBI (McCabe) hiding from congressional oversight and sabotaging Flynn's testimony against them. Otherwise they get caught for espionage. If Trump can prove the DOJ was paid to conspire against him, then that opens a can of hellfire for the clintonites.
Trump helped take down bigger money than the Clintons in his ally Prince Salman's power struggle against Al Waleed bin Talal. Don't you think he'd return the favor? Or was the takedown part of the favor?.. No more clinton slush fund funnel from SA.. No more money means the rats turn on eachother.
Former CIA Director Admits ''Thoughtful'' Intelligence Operation Against Candidate Trump, Now Regrets'... | The Last Refuge
Tue, 12 Dec 2017 05:01
In an otherwise well-buried interview between former interim CIA Director Mike Morell, (the temp director following Petraeus ouster used during initial Benghazi cover), there's an admission by Morell about the politicized Deep State Intelligence leadership targeting candidate Donald Trump.
What this interview tells CTH is that the Intelligence Community, writ large, is on the precipice of massive institutional change -perhaps high level firings of remaining mid level operators and management- and those who participated in the historic politicization are now attempting to shape an explanation.
[Via Politico] QUESTION: Was that a mistake?
Mike Morell: So, I don't think it was a mistake. I think there were downsides to it that I didn't think about at the time. I was concerned about what is the impact it would have on the agency, right? Very concerned about that, thought that through. But I don't think I fully thought through the implications.
And one of the ways I've thought about that, Susan, is'--okay, how did Donald Trump see this? Right? And from'--it's very important'--one of the things we do as intelligence analysts is make sure that our guy'--the president'--understands the other guy. Right?
So, let's put ourselves here in Donald Trump's shoes. So, what does he see? Right? He sees a former director of CIA and a former director of NSA, Mike Hayden, who I have the greatest respect for, criticizing him and his policies. Right? And he could rightfully have said, ''Huh, what's going on with these intelligence guys?'' Right?
Beyond all else what Morell is doing here is an admission. Mike Morell is admitting to the politicization of the intelligence community.
Morell is also admitting that every concern expressed by candidate, president-elect and President Trump was -and is- correct. However, Morell is simultaneously trying to explain, justify and excuse it; as well as cover his ass.
['...] And then he sees a former acting director and deputy director of CIA criticizing him and endorsing his opponent. And then he gets his first intelligence briefing, after becoming the Republican nominee, and within 24 to 48 hours, there are leaks out of that that are critical of him and his then-national security advisor, Mike Flynn.
And so, this stuff starts to build, right? And he must have said to himself, ''What is it with these intelligence guys? Are they political?'' The current director at the time, John Brennan, during the campaign occasionally would push back on things that Donald Trump had said.
So, when Trump talked about the Iran nuclear deal being the worst deal in the history of American diplomacy, and he was going to tear it up on the first day'--John Brennan came out publicly and said, ''That would be an act of folly.'' So, he sees current sitting director pushing back on him. Right?
Then he becomes president, and he's supposed to be getting a daily brief from the moment he becomes the president-elect. Right? And he doesn't. And within a few days, there's leaks about how he's not taking his briefing. So, he must have thought'--right?'--that, ''Who are these guys? Are these guys out to get me? Is this a political organization? Can I think about them as a political organization when I become president?''
So, I think there was a significant downside to those of us who became political in that moment. So, if I could have thought of that, would I have ended up in a different place? I don't know. But it's something I didn't think about. (read more)
The entire interview with Mike Morell is an exercise in ass-covering as the larger institutional Intelligence Community (IC) begins to see what's coming into focus on the horizon. James Clapper and John Brennan previously tried this approach.
It is not coincidental the origin of all 'vast-Russian-conspiracy' stories seem to start with a discussion of intelligence gathering beginning in July of 2016. The GOP convention to nominate Donald Trump was July 18-21st of 2016.
Surrounding the nomination that stunned the geo-political world almost every foreign government was trying to figure out who and what Donald J Trump was all about; and more specifically: how would his run for the presidency impact their specific interests.
WASHINGTON NYT '-- American spies collected information last summer revealing that senior Russian intelligence and political officials were discussing how to exert influence over Donald J. Trump through his advisers, according to three current and former American officials familiar with the intelligence.
[Paragraph #5] The information collected last summer was considered credible enough for intelligence agencies to pass to the F.B.I., which during that period opened a counterintelligence investigation that is continuing. It is unclear, however, whether Russian officials actually tried to directly influence Mr. Manafort and Mr. Flynn. Both have denied any collusion with the Russian government on the campaign to disrupt the election. (link)
The New York Times should win a Pulitzer for undermining their own 'Russian Conspiracy' headline narrative within the fifth paragraph. [It's a current trend] I digress.
Obviously Russia would be asking these questions along with China, France, England, the larger EU and every nation in every continent. It would be silly to claim otherwise.
Ergo a diplomatic mission by Russian governmental officials surrounding the GOP convention to understand the Trump orbit is no different than a Chinese, European or Arab-Asian effort for the same reason.
However, what the international interest did necessarily initiate was a bunch of foreign officials making contact with anyone and everyone who would be associated with Trump-world regardless of concentric circle distance from the epicenter.
That intellectually honest understanding highlights how the origin of the July 2016 raw intelligence gathering began so easily. The CIA monitoring chatter amid foreign diplomats, their customary job, turns into raw data provided to the FBI which in turn becomes FISA warrants to explore the U.S. contacts on the other side of that chatter.
The FISA warrants turn into intelligence reports and that begins the entire process now known as ''unmasking'' etc. Nothing within this process so far is even in question. This is the accurate backdrop for the origin of intelligence reports used as political weapons. CIA Director John Brennan testified to this exact process before congress.
However, what is not reported by any media outline is John Brennan, understanding the potential legal risk looming on the horizon, also completely backed toward the exit and threw FBI Director James Comey in front of the rapidly approaching sunlight.
Former CIA Director John Brennan gave very specific testimony to congress where he noted he provided the raw intelligence to FBI Director Comey '' FULLSTOP.
Where ''fullstop'' directly and immediately indicates Brennan's throwing the responsibility for all that came next upon FBI Director James Comey. John Brennan did the 'outta-here-like-a-fat-kid-playing-dodge-ball routine' with great specificity:
''Again, in consultation with the White House, I PERSONALLY briefed the full details of our understanding of Russian attempts to interfere in the election to congressional leadership; specifically: Senators Harry Reid, Mitch McConnell, Dianne Feinstein and Richard Burr; and to representatives Paul Ryan, Nancy Pelosi, Devin Nunes and Adam Schiff between 11th August and 6th September [2016], I provided the same briefing to each of the gang of eight members.''
''Given the highly sensitive nature of what was an active counter-intelligence case [that means the FBI], involving an ongoing Russian effort, to interfere in our presidential election, the full details of what we knew at the time were shared only with those members of congress; each of whom was accompanied by one senior staff member.'''... (link)
Shorter version: don't try pinning this Russian investigation, FISA warrants and the illegal leaks, on me; I just provided the raw intelligence.
It is important to emphasize here the possibly illegal ''unmasking'', and the certainly illegal ''leaking'', were all based on intelligence reports generated from raw intelligence, and not the raw intelligence itself. It was the FBI (Comey) and ODNI (Clapper) generating the intel reports, including the Presidents' Daily Briefing (PDB).
The CIA provided raw intel, and the NSA generated the raw monitoring intelligence from the characters identified by the CIA and approved by FBI FISA warrant submissions.
It would be EXPLOSIVE if it turned out the October 2016 FISA warrant was gained by deception, misleading/manipulated information, or fraud as a result of the Russian Dossier; and exponentially more explosive if the dossier was -in part- organized by the wife of an investigative member of the DOJ who was applying for the FISA warrant; the same warrant that led to the wiretapping and surveillance of the Trump campaign and General Flynn, and was authorized by FISA Court Judge Contreras '' who was, until recently, the judge in Flynn's case.
The FBI were running the counter-intelligence operation and generating the actual reports that were eventually shared with the White House, Susan Rice and the Dept of Justice. Those reports, and interpretations of the report content, were eventually leaked to the media.
During the time James Comey's FBI was generating the intelligence reports, Comey admitted he intentionally never informed congressional oversight: ''because of the sensitivity of the matter''.
John Brennan effectively (and intentionally) took himself out of the picture from the perspective of the illegal acts within the entire process. James Clapper while rubbing his face and scratching his head had taken the same route earlier.
That leaves James Comey.
How will 'ber-political James Comey play his hand?
The answer to that question explains why Comey changed his mind on testifying to congress before talking to newly appointed special counsel Robert Mueller.
Former FBI Director James Comey is not stupid and is intensely political. Comey understands the legal risks he is facing within the faux ''Russian conspiracy story'' and the ''subsequent leaking'' of his political FBI reports.
James Clapper (DNI) and John Brennan (CIA) have essentially left Comey holding the bag of nothing-burgers while standing on the hot coals of possibly: A) illegal leaking; and B.) unethical unmasking; and C.) illegal use of investigative resources for political objectives '' All three stemming from activity within his FBI counter-intelligence investigation.
If the entire fiasco blows up, does Comey anticipate the Trump DOJ taking legal action against him? If yes, can Comey leverage/mold the nothing-burgers into plausible claims of investigative interference by President Trump in order to generate a get-out-of-jail card for himself?'.... Now we understand the current narrative status.
Beside the media, who will help Comey in that regard?
Decisions'... decisions'....
Miles Beyond Sketchy '' Wife of Demoted DOJ Official Worked For Fusion GPS on Russian Dossier Against Trump'....
Tue, 12 Dec 2017 05:03
Things are beyond brutally obvious in this entire 'muh Russian conspiracy' narrative. Last week it was revealed DOJ Assoc. Deputy Attorney General Bruce G Ohrwas demoted because he had working relationships with dossier author Christopher Steele and Fusion GPS, and did not reveal his October 2016 contacts with current officials.
Today, the ongoing saga gets more sketchy as it is revealed Bruce G Ohr's wife, Nellie H. Ohr, actually worked for Fusion GPS and likely helped guide/script the Russian Dossier.
JAMES ROSEN'' A senior Justice Department official demoted last week for concealing his meetings with the men behind the anti-Trump ''dossier'' had even closer ties to Fusion GPS, the firm responsible for the incendiary document, than have been disclosed, Fox News has confirmed: The official's wife worked for Fusion GPS during the 2016 election.
Contacted by Fox News, investigators for the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) confirmed that Nellie H. Ohr, wife of the demoted official, Bruce G. Ohr, worked for the opposition research firm last year. The precise nature of Mrs. Ohr's duties '' including whether she worked on the dossier '' remains unclear but a review of her published works available online reveals Mrs. Ohr has written extensively on Russia-related subjects. HPSCI staff confirmed to Fox News that she was paid by Fusion GPS through the summer and fall of 2016.
Fusion GPS has attracted scrutiny because Republican lawmakers have spent the better part of this year investigating whether the dossier, which was funded by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee, served as the basis for the Justice Department and the FBI to obtain FISA surveillance last year on a Trump campaign adviser named Carter Page.
''The House Intelligence Committee,'' Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., told Fox News in a statement on Monday, ''is looking into all facets of the connections between the Department of Justice and Fusion GPS, including Mr. Ohr.''
Until Dec. 6, when Fox News began making inquiries about him, Bruce Ohr held two titles at DOJ. He was, and remains, director of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force; but his other job was far more senior. Mr. Ohr held the rank of associate deputy attorney general, a post that gave him an office four doors down from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
The day before Fox News reported that Mr. Ohr held his secret meetings last year with the founder of Fusion GPS, Glenn Simpson, and with Christopher Steele, the former British spy who compiled the dossier, the Justice Department stripped Ohr of his deputy title and ousted him from his fourth floor office at the building that DOJ insiders call ''Main Justice.'' (read more)
In October 2016, the month where a FISA Judge granted the warrant for wiretapping and surveillance, the FBI (via Agent Strzok), and DOJ (via Deputy AG Bruce Ohr), were both in contact with Russian Dossier author Christopher Steele and Fusion GPS.
Nellie H. Ohr is working for Fusion GPS with expertise in Russian affairs at the time.
October 2016 is EXACTLY when The Obama administration submits a new, narrow request to the FISA court, now focused on a computer server in Trump Tower suspected of links to Russian banks. As Andrew McCarthy pointed out months ago: ''No evidence is found '-- but the wiretaps continue, ostensibly for national security reasons. The Obama administration is now monitoring an opposing presidential campaign using the high-tech surveillance powers of the federal intelligence services.'' (link)
Are you seeing how the dots connect?
June/July 2016 a FISA request is denied. This is simultaneous to FBI agent Strzok initial contact with Christopher Steele and the preliminary draft of the dossier.
October 2016 a FISA request approved. This is simultaneous to agent Strzok and Assoc. Deputy AG Bruce G Ohr in contact with Christopher Steele and the full dossier.
It would be EXPLOSIVE if it turned out the October 2016 FISA warrant was gained by deception, misleading/manipulated information, or fraud as a result of the Russian Dossier; and exponentially more explosive if the dossier was -in part- organized by the wife of an investigative member of the DOJ who was applying for the FISA warrant; the same warrant that led to the wiretapping and surveillance of the Trump campaign and General Flynn, and was authorized by FISA Court Judge Contreras '' who was, until recently, the judge in Flynn's case.
Glenn Simpson's Fusion GPS used Jeffrey Epstein in Donald Trump smear campaign - Washington Times
Tue, 12 Dec 2017 18:10
Fusion GPS, the opposition research firm whose Democrat-financed Russia dossier fueled an FBI investigation into Donald Trump, pitched other stories about the Republican presidential candidate to Washington reporters, including an attempt to tie him to a convicted pedophile who was once buddies with former President Bill Clinton.
Journalist sources told The Washington Times that Fusion founder Glenn Simpson pushed the idea of a close relationship between Mr. Trump and Jeffrey Epstein, who pleaded guilty in 2008 to soliciting sex from an underage girl.
The Trump-Epstein link appears purely social, far short of Mr. Clinton's 20-plus plane rides on Epstein's ''Lolita Express'' private jet around the globe in the early 2000s.
SEE ALSO: Democrats desperate to prove debunked Russian dossier's sex charge against Trump
Ken Silverstein, the reporter who ultimately wrote an Epstein-Trump report, confirmed to The Times that Fusion had sourced the story. Mr. Silverstein, founder and editor of WashingtonBabylon.com who wrote the story for Vice.com, defended Mr. Simpson as a solid source of information that must first be confirmed.
For years, Fusion GPS has been an influential hidden hand in Washington, with entree into the city's most powerful news bureaus.
Behind the scenes, the private intelligence firm run by former Wall Street Journal reporters was particularly active last year working to defeat Mr. Trump. Fusion leader Mr. Simpson, who railed against sleazy opposition research as a reporter, harbored a strong desire to bring down the builder of hotels with, well, opposition research.
Fusion representatives met with New York Times reporters during the Democratic National Convention in July 2016.
Ironically, it appears The Times was the first to out Fusion on Jan. 11 as the source of the scandalous dossier that BuzzFeed posted the previous day. BuzzFeed did the posting without identifying Fusion or dossier writer Christopher Steele, a former British spy.
''The New York Times, I know they work with Fusion,'' said Mr. Silverstein, an investigative reporter who skewers the left and right. ''Fusion works with a lot of big media organizations. That would give them influence in Washington.''
''I have worked with them,'' he said. ''I have gotten tips from them and stories from them. And every time I do, I go out and re-report '... because I assume it is for a client and it is not 100 percent accurate. And I've never gotten anything from them that was 100 percent accurate. Not because they were slanting or lying or twisting. Every time I've gotten something from them, 'This is a report. You've got to check it out.' I have a great relationship with those guys.''
During summer 2016, Fusion's juicy tidbits enticed a number of elite journalists to heed Mr. Simpson's call to meet Mr. Steele in person.
By then, Fusion had amassed a deep database on Mr. Trump, his contacts, his holdings and his deals.
''Fusion has filed a ton of [Freedom of Information Act] requests on Trump, especially in New York,'' said the journalist source who asked not to be named and has had contact with the firm.
A Washington Times inquiry found that Mr. Simpson and crew were dishing out other supposed dirt on Mr. Trump and friends not contained in the 35-page dossier. Some of those tips have proved to be as shaky as Mr. Steele's election collusion charges.
Besides the Jeffrey Epstein dump, Fusion pushed the story that a special email server existed between Trump Tower and Moscow's Alfa bank, the journalist source said. The report has failed to catch on. Internet sleuths traced the IP address to a marketing spam server located outside Philadelphia.
Pre-dossier, readers rarely had seen Fusion's hand in sourcing stories even though it may have instigated and framed scores of them over the years.
Fusion unmasked
Today, Fusion's cover has been blown. It feels the sting of unwanted publicity in both the liberal and conservative press and intense scrutiny from Republicans on Capitol Hill. Senate and House committees demanded that Fusion produce representatives for hours of closed-door testimony.
Devin Nunes, California Republican and chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, signed subpoenas forcing Fusion to disclose who pays it and whom it pays. His probe unmasked the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic Party as dossier financiers.
Why such intense intrusion into a secretive opposition research firm?
The unmasking agent was Fusion's own product: Mr. Steele's dossier. It has proved to be so unfounded on its core collusion charges yet so influential in prompting investigations of the president that Republicans demanded to know its roots.
Those roots are: After Democrats paid Fusion through a middleman law firm, Mr. Simpson in June 2016 hired Mr. Steele with Clinton campaign cash. Mr. Steele in turn handed out money to unidentified Kremlin operatives who sullied Mr. Trump and associates.
As Mr. Steele churned out dossier chapters during the summer campaign, Mr. Simpson peddled them to Washington's mightiest journalists.
Mr. Steele wrote in July, the month he briefed the FBI and it began its probe, of an ''extensive conspiracy between Trump's campaign team and the Kremlin.''
After the BuzzFeed posting, The New York Times outed the dossier duo of Fusion and Mr. Steele.
Democrats began to cite the dossier's unconfirmed Trump charges at hearings and on TV.
As the charges remained unconfirmed into the spring, Republicans started focusing attention on a firm whose livelihood relies on a cloak of confidentiality.
Republicans, including Mr. Nunes and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa have been conducting investigations into how the dossier influenced the FBI to start one of the most important criminal investigations in U.S. history.
As Fusion fends off pursuers and gets ensnared in libel lawsuits against Mr. Steele and BuzzFeed, its costs are mounting.
Three Russian businessmen-bankers are suing Fusion for libel, creating a second legal front. Fusion is paying at least two law firms to fend off Mr. Nunes' incursion in U.S. District Court.
''They're under the weather because of their legal bills,'' the journalist source said.
Part of Fusion's defense is that it enjoys First Amendment rights just like its founders' days at The Wall Street Journal.
Fusion jealously guards the list of its journalistic recipients and, in turn, is treated as a confidential source to the point that there are rarely Simpson fingerprints on its investigative products.
But the dossier's disclosure broke the code of silence. In one of three libel lawsuits, Mr. Steele has been forced to explain how he and Fusion worked together.
In a court filing in London, he named names: In Washington in September, Mr. Steele met with The New York Times, The Washington Post, Yahoo News, The New Yorker and CNN '-- a who's who of America's liberal media establishment.
The next month, Mr. Steele said, he delivered a second briefing to The New York Times, The Washington Post and Yahoo News.
Before Mr. Steele's D.C. visit, Fusion turned to old colleagues at The Wall Street Journal. In July, a reporter contacted Carter Page, a Trump campaign volunteer. Mr. Steele had spun a web of deceit and lawbreaking by Mr. Page on a trip he took to Moscow to deliver a public speech at a university.
The call blindsided Mr. Page, a New York energy investor who had no idea a dossier time bomb lay ready to destroy his life. The call also showed that Fusion can summon the top of Washington's journalism food chain to run down its tips.
The Wall Street Journal did not run a story at that time. Mr. Page, who lived in Moscow in the 2000s and knows scores of Russians, said the dossier sections on him are fabrications.
Mr. Steele said he warned journalists that they must confirm his intelligence before reporting. Mr. Steele ''understood that the information provided might be used for the purpose of further research, but would not be published or attributed,'' his attorneys said.
Two journalists did write stories.
Yahoo News' Michael Isikoff wrote of the charges against Mr. Page, attributing them not to the dossier but to a Western intelligence source. The story blazed across the internet and became red meat for Clinton campaign surrogates.
Mr. Page has filed a libel lawsuit against Yahoo News.
On Oct. 31, 2016, a second dossier story appeared, this one by David Corn in the left-leaning magazine Mother Jones. He is also a co-author with Mr. Isikoff of ''Hubris,'' a book on the Iraq War that is critical of former President George W. Bush.
Mr. Corn conducted perhaps the only published interview with Mr. Steele during the election campaign, though he hid the ex-spy's identity as a ''former senior intelligence officer.'' The story refers to Fusion but not by name.
Mr. Steele's quotes conveyed an energized source as he bragged about his ability to get the FBI to accept his memos beginning in early July and then starting an investigation into the Trump campaign.
The FBI has refused to publicly answer dossier questions. The Mother Jones story is among the best-known evidence that the bureau began investigating the Trump campaign based on a Democratic Party-financed scandal sheet that remains unconfirmed.
In January 2016, as candidate Trump scrambled to stitch together a presidential campaign against 16 Republican opponents, Vice.com ran a story on his ties to Epstein, the billionaire sex offender who owns a Caribbean island called Little St. James.
Reporters have confirmed Mr. Clinton's visits to the island aboard Epstein's ''Lolita Expres,'' based on court records.
Mr. Trump's ties to the fellow Florida billionaire appear to be more social '-- some dinner parties, two plane trips, and hanging out at Mr. Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida.
A woman filed a lawsuit saying Mr. Trump raped her when she was a teenage acquaintance of Epstein's. ''Jane Doe'' dropped her lawsuit a few days before the election. Mr. Trump's people vigorously denied the whole scenario.
Mr. Silverstein, who wrote the Vice.Com story, was asked by The Washington Times if Fusion pushed the Epstein-Trump story.
''Since you asked, yes, they helped me with that,'' Mr. Silverstein said. ''But as you can see, I could not make a strong case for Trump being super close to Epstein, so they could hardly have been thrilled with that story. [In my humble opinion], that was the best story written about Trump's ties to Epstein, but I failed to nail him. Trump's ties were mild compared to Bill Clinton's.
''I said Fusion could not have been happy with the Epstein story,'' he added. ''What I mean is that I never proved a really sleazy connection, so frankly I was disappointed too, I thought there was more (and still wonder). But Fusion never pressured me to write anything untrue, and they never told me anything about ties between DT and JE that was false. That's important. Their work has been solid if not 100 percent accurate in their reports, just as I periodically make mistakes. I have never seen malice or anything less than the best effort to be accurate.''
The fact-checking system also applies to the dossier.
''I don't think anyone really nailed them because I don't think they did anything wrong,'' Mr. Silverstein said. ''I think they were chasing money like all these firms do. Maybe they were chasing too hard. But I haven't seen them breaking the law. '... The reporters have to vet it and verify it. '... A private intelligence firm working for a private client, you can't assume you are getting something that is 100 percent accurate.''
Mr. Silverstein takes delight in taking the left and right to task.
In a Dec. 8 story in WashingtonBablyon.com, he wrote of the latest CNN goof: ''Well, well, well. A central 'fact' of the whole Russia-Trump collusion story turns out to be fake news. The original 'fact' was reported by CNN, President Donald Trump's favorite Fake News Network, so Trump is going to be popping corks on champagne bottles this weekend. Nice job, CNN!''
Romney and VanderSloot
Until the dossier's splash, Fusion's secrecy tradecraft was nearly watertight. Its sparse web home page is mostly white space around a two-paragraph mission statement and an ''info'' email address.
But a few leaks have happened, such as its investigations '-- some would say hit jobs '-- of big donors to Republican Mitt Romney in his 2012 bid to unseat President Obama.
The Obama campaign listed eight megadonors as bad people. One of them, Idaho businessman Frank VanderSloot, donated $1 million to a pro-Romney PAC.
The Wall Street Journal editorial page reported during the election that someone was rummaging through Mr. VanderSloot's divorce files. The paper traced the operative to Fusion GPS. Mr. Simpson defended the dirt-gathering on grounds that Mr. VanderSloot's wife contributed to a campaign against same-sex marriage.
Then there is Fusion's own Russia connection. While Fusion is exposing supposed collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, its operatives have been working for Russians to dishonor Bill Browder, a prominent opponent of President Vladimir Putin.
The web of connections is complex: Russian money is funding Fusion to destroy the reputation of Mr. Browder, a U.S.-British banker, for his work to persuade Congress to enact the 2012 Magnitsky Act. The act is a sanctions law against Moscow, and the Putin regime wants it repealed. Mr. Browder told the Senate Judiciary Committee that Fusion received Russian money via the law firm BakerHostetler to launch ''a smear campaign against me.''
In another case, Fusion allowed Planned Parenthood to identify it as the firm that analyzed hours of secret video taken by the pro-life group Center for Medical Progress. The group said it captured Planned Parenthood leaders talking about selling fetal body parts.
Fusion issued a report saying the videos were not accurate. The pro-life group's own analysis showed no manipulation.
The irony in all this is that Mr. Simpson once condemned smutty opposition research as a scourge on the body politic.
He co-wrote a 1996 book, ''Dirty Little Secrets: The Persistence of Corruption in American Politics,'' with celebrity University of Virginia politics professor Larry J. Sabato.
''Most opposition researchers claim to pay attention mostly to legislative votes and floor statements to see if their opponent's words jibe with his or her record,'' Mr. Simpson and Mr. Sabato said in quotes unearthed by RealClear Investigations. ''Without question, many abide strictly by this unwritten code. Yet many of their brethren also examine highly personal information, with the result that issues often surface that are only marginally related, or even completely unrelated, to the office being contested.''
In an interview with C-SPAN's Brian Lamb, Mr. Simpson bemoaned the use of ''push polls'' to spread unfounded rumors about candidates.
The ''highly personal information'' Mr. Simpson condemned 21 years ago certainly can be found in the salacious Trump dossier or his promotion of a Trump-Epstein alliance.
Mr. Simpson and Fusion did not reply to messages.
In a sense, the dossier was a failure in that Mr. Simpson could not persuade a large number of reporters to spread its smut during the election campaign. The dossier's 35 pages ultimately subjected Fusion to an unwanted limelight, a congressional investigation and steep legal fees.
In January, The New York Times described the failure to confirm the dossier's charges before Nov. 8.
''Fusion GPS and Mr. Steele shared the memos first with their clients, and later with the FBI and multiple journalists at The New York Times and elsewhere. '... Many reporters from multiple news organizations tried to verify the claims in the memos but were unsuccessful.''
But in another sense, the dossier '-- with all its unproven and far-fetched tales '-- has been a political success for Trump haters.
It influenced the FBI to launch a counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign that has grown into a full-blown special counsel inquiry with nearly 20 prosecutors and scores of FBI agents.
The dossier created thousands of social media devotees who are convinced its felony charges against the president and his aides are true.
Back in London, Mr. Steele can take pleasure in a special counsel investigation that could dog the Trump White House, the president, and current and former aides for months, maybe years.
Wife of DOJ Deputy Was Fusion GPS Employee, CIA Research Aid, and Applied for HAM Radio License Month After Contracting MI6 Agent Christopher Steele'... | The Last Refuge
Tue, 12 Dec 2017 17:36
Department of Justice Assoc. Deputy Attorney General Bruce G Ohrwas demoted because he had working relationships with dossier author Christopher Steele and Fusion GPS; and -more importantly or perhaps 'conveniently'- according to James Rosen, Bruce Ohr did not reveal his October 2016 contacts with MI6 agent Steele or Glenn Simpson (Fusion-GPS) to DOJ leadership. (LINK)
(L-R) Nellie H. Ohr (Fusion GPS) and Bruce G Ohr (DOJ)
However, the ongoing Dossier story gets far more intriguing as it is now discovered that Bruce G Ohr's wife, Nellie H. Ohr, actually worked for Fusion GPS and likely helped guide/script the Russian Dossier. (Link)
Contacted by Fox News, investigators for the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) confirmed that Nellie H. Ohr, wife of the demoted official, Bruce G. Ohr, worked for the opposition research firm last year. The precise nature of Mrs. Ohr's duties '' including whether she worked on the dossier '' remains unclear but a review of her published works available online reveals Mrs. Ohr has written extensively on Russia-related subjects. HPSCI staff confirmed to Fox News that she was paid by Fusion GPS through the summer and fall of 2016.
But wait, it doesn't stop there'... Mrs. Nellie Ohr was not only a Fusion GPS contracted employee, but she was also part of the CIA's Open Source Works, in Washington DC (link)
Both Mr. and Mrs Ohr worked on a collaborative group project surrounding International Organized Crime. (pdf here) Page #30 Screen Shot Below
But wait, it gets even better.
A month after Hillary Clinton hired Fusion GPS (April 2016) to sub-contract retired British MI6 agent Christopher Steele to write the opposition research report ''the Trump Russia Dossier'', Fusion GPS employee Nellie Ohr applied for a HAM radio license (May 23rd 2016); a communication tool that would allow Nellie Ohr and Christopher Steele the ability to communicate outside the normal risk of communication intercepts.
Keeping in mind, both Bruce and Nellie Ohr's subject matter skill-set within the DOJ would provide them with a comprehensive understanding of how to network and communicate with international actors outside the traditional risk of communication intercepts. In short, Mrs. Nelli Ohr would know that using HAM radio frequencies would be a way to avoid the risk of U.S. intelligence intercepts on her communications.
The Clinton Campaign hired Fusion GPS in April 2016. Fusion GPS then sub-contracted retired British Intel MI6 agent Christopher Steele to write the Russian Dossier. A month later, May 23rd 2016, Fusion GPS employee Nellie Ohr gets HAM radio license.
So are we to believe it's COINCIDENTAL? All of a sudden, a 60(ish)-year-old woman decides to use a HAM radio the month after contracting with Christopher Steele for a Russian opposition research dossier on Donald Trump?
The more plausible scenario is MI6 Agent Christopher Steele and Mrs. Nellie Ohr knew any communication with foreign sources/actors could be easily monitored; and this need for communication was, most likely, going to lead to an organized operation where an FBI counterintelligence operation would exist -per Agent Peter Strzok- and, due to the subject matter being constructed, confidential communication would be required.
One way to ensure secure communications with parties external to the U.S. would be the use of HAM radio operations. You simply establish the frequency to use, and the time of the conversation, and presto. That's it. ''Red-Dog-One to Red-Dog-Two, come in?'' etc.
Fortunately, this FCC license application now becomes evidence of an intent to subvert traditional communications intercepts'... which, when combined with the other growing trails of evidence showing Fusion GPS schemes around the manufacturing of the Dossier, gets more interesting.
Mrs. Nellie Ohr, a Fusion GPS contracted employee, gets HAM radio license May 2016.
Following along the timeline:
In June/July 2016 an initial DOJ FISA request is denied. This is simultaneous to FBI agent Strzok direct contact with Christopher Steele and the preliminary draft of the Russian dossier.
Then in August 2016, Christopher Steele goes to Sir Andrew Wood to ask him to act as a go-between to reach Senator John McCain. [Trying to give his dossier credibility]
Meanwhile throughout July, August and Sept 2016 Fusion GPS is paying journalists (NYT, ABC, NBC, Washington Post and Mother Jones, etc.) to listen to Christopher Steele and simultaneously shopping the dossier to them.
Soon thereafter, October 2016 '' The Obama administration, through FBI Agent Peter Strzok and DOJ Deputy Bruce Ohr, submits a new, more narrow application to the FISA court, now focused on a computer server in Trump Tower suspected of links to Russian banks. The second FISA application is accepted and a surveillance warrant is granted.
Note the date of this tweet:
Simultaneously in October 2016 '' Through the media in the past week we discover '' Associate DOJ Deputy AG Bruce G Ohr, Nellie's husband, is in direct contact with Christopher Steele, and the full dossier, along with secret meetings with Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson.
Again, Timeline Recap:
'...April '16 Clinton hires Fusion GPS
'...April '16 Fusion GPS hires Christopher Steele
'...May '16 Nellie Ohr gets HAM radio license.
'...June/July '16 FBI Agent Strzok meets w/ Steele
'...June '16 DOJ FISA request denied.
'...July '16 FBI counterintelligence operation begins
'...Oct. '16 Peter Strzok and Bruce Ohr meet w/ Christopher Steele
'...Oct. '16 FISA request granted.
Last week U.S. District Court Judge Rudolph Contreras, the judge that appears to have granted Oct '16 FISA request, is mysteriously recused *AFTER* accepting Mike Flynn plea in the first hearing.
No explanation is given for the recusal or why Judge Contreras waited until after the initial plea hearing.
It would be EXPLOSIVE if it turned out the October 2016 FISA warrant was gained by deception, misleading/manipulated information, or fraud as a result of the Russian Dossier; and exponentially more explosive if the dossier was -in part- organized by the wife of an investigative member of the DOJ who was applying for the FISA warrant; the same warrant that led to the wiretapping and surveillance of the Trump campaign and General Flynn, and was authorized by FISA Court Judge Contreras.
Representative Jim Jordan establishes ''The Predicate'':
Representative Jim Jordan is ''convinced the Steele Dossier was the underlying evidence for the October 2016 FISA warrant''. Part II:
CTH absolutely concurs with Jim Jordan's outline and subsequent belief. All evidence points in only one direction. No evidence goes in any other direction.
The Steele dossier is a product aided by Nellie Ohr that underpinned the FISA application. The FISA application was a product constructed by FBI agent Strzok and DOJ Deputy Bruce Ohr under the authority granted to them by senior FBI and DOJ leadership.
Remember, as Director Chris Wray stated this past week, the FBI Director would be personally responsible for signing off on the October 2016 FISA application. In October 2016 that FBI Director was James Comey.
Twitter Thread for those who share via Twitter is also HERE.
ULS License Archive - Amateur License - KM4UDZ - Ohr, Nellie H
Tue, 12 Dec 2017 17:33
ULS License Archive Amateur License - KM4UDZ - Ohr, Nellie H
New Search Printable Page Reference Copy Call SignKM4UDZ Radio ServiceHA - AmateurStatusActive Auth TypeRegular VersionCurrent DatesGrant05/23/2016 Expiration05/23/2026 Effective05/23/2016 Cancellation Last Action05/23/2016 Licensee InformationFRN0025607250 TypeIndividual Licensee IDL02028239SGIN000Licensee NameOhr, Nellie H6435 Tucker Ave
Mc Lean, VA 22101
Amateur DataOperator ClassTechnician Prev. Op. Class GroupD Prev. Call Sign Eligibility Code Trustee/Custodian (for Non-Individuals Only)Name Call Sign Basic QualificationsHas the applicant or any party to this application, or any party directly or indirectly controlling the applicant, ever been convicted of a felony by any state or federal court?
Fusion GPS dossier cabal was using spy tradecraft to evade leaving electronic footprints for NSA surveillance
Thu, 14 Dec 2017 12:12
I suspect that we are in the process of uncovering the worst political scandal in American history, in which the most fearsome tool of federal government spying was turned against the Trump campaign. A cabal manipulated events behind the scenes to subvert the legal safeguards that are supposed to prevent such an abuse.
The National Security Agency (NSA) picks up and records almost all electronic communications, thereby effectively wiretapping telephone conversations, email, and practically everything else we send out electronically. When a FISA court permits "unmasking" of American citizens, that universal wiretapping capability can be used to spy on their conversations. It now appears that an elaborate plot was crafted to generate phony accusations of dirty ties to Russia that would be used to get a FISA court warrant to "unmask" members of the Trump campaign, and thereby enable spying on that campaign. We do not know how many members of that campaign were "unmasked" (i.e., spied on), but there are suggestions that the list ended up quite long.
Bit by bit, evidence is leaking out connecting the members of that cabal at senior levels of the Department of Justice and the FBI with shadowy operatives in the private sector.
Merely keeping track of everyone so far compromised is a challenge that casual news-consumers will not bother with with the necessary focus. The rest of us '' those who care deeply about preserving the Republic bequeathed to us by the Founders '' can catch up by reading Victor Davis Hanson's up-to-date account of the web of backdoor relationships in the Mueller probe.
The latest revelation, uncovered by James Rosen of Fox News and largely ignored elsewhere in the media, is particularly damning.
A senior Justice Department official demoted last week for concealing his meetings with the men behind the anti-Trump "dossier" had even closer ties to Fusion GPS, the firm responsible for the incendiary document, than have been disclosed, Fox News has confirmed: The official's wife worked for Fusion GPS during the 2016 election.
Contacted by Fox News, investigators for the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) confirmed that Nellie H. Ohr, wife of the demoted official, Bruce G. Ohr, worked for the opposition research firm last year. The precise nature of Mrs. Ohr's duties '' including whether she worked on the dossier '' remains unclear but a review of her published works available online reveals Mrs. Ohr has written extensively on Russia-related subjects. HPSCI staff confirmed to Fox News that she was paid by Fusion GPS through the summer and fall of 2016.
Mrs. and Mr. Ohr.
The words "conspiracy theory" frequently are used to denounce those who see covert organized activity, so the task of gaining media attention and public understanding is all the more challenging, especially given the level of ridicule that is certain to be launched by the rest of the media seeking to protect the legacy of the Obama administration and prevent a triumph for supporters of Trump.
Drawing lines and boxes on a chart is all well and good, and necessary to untangle the hidden ties that have been uncovered among the players in this cabal. But to really get the public to focus, we need vivid symbols that have resonance, that show evil intent. Richard Nixon knew this when he seized upon a detail uncovered in the Alger Hiss communist conspiracy in the upper ranks of the State Department '' an investigation that launched his political career into national prominence.
Nixon dramatized and publicized the name "Pumpkin Papers" for secret State Department documents and
... rolls of 35 mm film [that] were found wrapped in waxed paper inside a hollowed-out pumpkin on Whittaker Chambers's Maryland farm. In response to a HUAC subpoena, Chambers on the evening of December 2, 1948 dramatically led two HUAC investigators to the patch, where the film had been placed by Chambers only the previous day.
The catchy, alliterative trademark of "the Pumpkin Papers" became the handle by which the entire conspiracy could be understood by the broader public. They stood as proof that something nefarious was underway, something that caused people to hide from discovery.
Chambers was a repentant conspirator who turned over state's evidence. So far, no member of the cabal has been turned, but with leak investigations underway and felony charges possible, we may yet see a cooperating witness or witnesses. Former FBI and DOJ folks don't tend to do very well among members of the prison population, after all.
What we do have now is a fact, a resonant symbol, that catches the attention of casual news consumers '' something that obviously indicates secrecy was necessary to cover up nefarious activities.
I leave it to Sundance and Conservative Treehouse, those incredible sleuths of publicly available information, to present the stunning little detail so compelling that even the fertile mind of spy novelist John Le Carr(C) could not top it.
Mrs. Nellie Ohr was not only a Fusion GPS contracted employee, but she was also part of the CIA's Open Source Works, in Washington DC (link)
Both Mr. and Mrs Ohr worked on a collaborative group project surrounding International Organized Crime. (pdf here) Page #30 Screen Shot Below
But wait, it gets even better.
A month after Hillary Clinton hired Fusion GPS (April 2016) to sub-contract retired British MI6 agent Christopher Steele to write the opposition research report "the Trump Russia Dossier", Fusion GPS employee Nellie Ohr applied for a HAM radio license (May 23rd 2016); a communication tool that would allow Nellie Ohr and Christopher Steele the ability to communicate outside the normal risk of communication intercepts.
Keeping in mind, both Bruce and Nellie Ohr's subject matter skill-set within the DOJ would provide them with a comprehensive understanding of how to network and communicate with international actors outside the traditional risk of communication intercepts. In short, Mrs. Nelli Ohr would know that using HAM radio frequencies would be a way to avoid the risk of U.S. intelligence intercepts on her communications.
The Clinton Campaign hired Fusion GPS in April 2016. Fusion GPS then sub-contracted retired British Intel MI6 agent Christopher Steele to write the Russian Dossier. A month later, May 23rd 2016, Fusion GPS employee Nellie Ohr gets HAM radio license.
So are we to believe it's COINCIDENTAL? All of a sudden, a 60(ish)-year-old woman decides to use a HAM radio the month after contracting with Christopher Steele for a Russian opposition research dossier on Donald Trump?
So this shadowy spook who has been spying most recently on international organized crime syndicates, and who is helping use the NSA surveillance capabilities against the Trump campaign, resorts to an obsolete technology dating from a century ago to communicate and not be captured by the very surveillance system they are subverting.
That is evidence of intent. Unless Mrs. Ohr can point to a history of fascination with ham radio '' maybe she built a Heathkit rig in the 1960s or '70s? '' this resort to radio looks like tradecraft '' the stuff of spies.
The ham radio license could be the pumpkin papers of our time. I want pictures of her broadcast facility.
I suspect that we are in the process of uncovering the worst political scandal in American history, in which the most fearsome tool of federal government spying was turned against the Trump campaign. A cabal manipulated events behind the scenes to subvert the legal safeguards that are supposed to prevent such an abuse.
The National Security Agency (NSA) picks up and records almost all electronic communications, thereby effectively wiretapping telephone conversations, email, and practically everything else we send out electronically. When a FISA court permits "unmasking" of American citizens, that universal wiretapping capability can be used to spy on their conversations. It now appears that an elaborate plot was crafted to generate phony accusations of dirty ties to Russia that would be used to get a FISA court warrant to "unmask" members of the Trump campaign, and thereby enable spying on that campaign. We do not know how many members of that campaign were "unmasked" (i.e., spied on), but there are suggestions that the list ended up quite long.
Bit by bit, evidence is leaking out connecting the members of that cabal at senior levels of the Department of Justice and the FBI with shadowy operatives in the private sector.
Merely keeping track of everyone so far compromised is a challenge that casual news-consumers will not bother with with the necessary focus. The rest of us '' those who care deeply about preserving the Republic bequeathed to us by the Founders '' can catch up by reading Victor Davis Hanson's up-to-date account of the web of backdoor relationships in the Mueller probe.
The latest revelation, uncovered by James Rosen of Fox News and largely ignored elsewhere in the media, is particularly damning.
A senior Justice Department official demoted last week for concealing his meetings with the men behind the anti-Trump "dossier" had even closer ties to Fusion GPS, the firm responsible for the incendiary document, than have been disclosed, Fox News has confirmed: The official's wife worked for Fusion GPS during the 2016 election.
Contacted by Fox News, investigators for the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) confirmed that Nellie H. Ohr, wife of the demoted official, Bruce G. Ohr, worked for the opposition research firm last year. The precise nature of Mrs. Ohr's duties '' including whether she worked on the dossier '' remains unclear but a review of her published works available online reveals Mrs. Ohr has written extensively on Russia-related subjects. HPSCI staff confirmed to Fox News that she was paid by Fusion GPS through the summer and fall of 2016.
Mrs. and Mr. Ohr.
The words "conspiracy theory" frequently are used to denounce those who see covert organized activity, so the task of gaining media attention and public understanding is all the more challenging, especially given the level of ridicule that is certain to be launched by the rest of the media seeking to protect the legacy of the Obama administration and prevent a triumph for supporters of Trump.
Drawing lines and boxes on a chart is all well and good, and necessary to untangle the hidden ties that have been uncovered among the players in this cabal. But to really get the public to focus, we need vivid symbols that have resonance, that show evil intent. Richard Nixon knew this when he seized upon a detail uncovered in the Alger Hiss communist conspiracy in the upper ranks of the State Department '' an investigation that launched his political career into national prominence.
Nixon dramatized and publicized the name "Pumpkin Papers" for secret State Department documents and
... rolls of 35 mm film [that] were found wrapped in waxed paper inside a hollowed-out pumpkin on Whittaker Chambers's Maryland farm. In response to a HUAC subpoena, Chambers on the evening of December 2, 1948 dramatically led two HUAC investigators to the patch, where the film had been placed by Chambers only the previous day.
The catchy, alliterative trademark of "the Pumpkin Papers" became the handle by which the entire conspiracy could be understood by the broader public. They stood as proof that something nefarious was underway, something that caused people to hide from discovery.
Chambers was a repentant conspirator who turned over state's evidence. So far, no member of the cabal has been turned, but with leak investigations underway and felony charges possible, we may yet see a cooperating witness or witnesses. Former FBI and DOJ folks don't tend to do very well among members of the prison population, after all.
What we do have now is a fact, a resonant symbol, that catches the attention of casual news consumers '' something that obviously indicates secrecy was necessary to cover up nefarious activities.
I leave it to Sundance and Conservative Treehouse, those incredible sleuths of publicly available information, to present the stunning little detail so compelling that even the fertile mind of spy novelist John Le Carr(C) could not top it.
Mrs. Nellie Ohr was not only a Fusion GPS contracted employee, but she was also part of the CIA's Open Source Works, in Washington DC (link)
Both Mr. and Mrs Ohr worked on a collaborative group project surrounding International Organized Crime. (pdf here) Page #30 Screen Shot Below
But wait, it gets even better.
A month after Hillary Clinton hired Fusion GPS (April 2016) to sub-contract retired British MI6 agent Christopher Steele to write the opposition research report "the Trump Russia Dossier", Fusion GPS employee Nellie Ohr applied for a HAM radio license (May 23rd 2016); a communication tool that would allow Nellie Ohr and Christopher Steele the ability to communicate outside the normal risk of communication intercepts.
Keeping in mind, both Bruce and Nellie Ohr's subject matter skill-set within the DOJ would provide them with a comprehensive understanding of how to network and communicate with international actors outside the traditional risk of communication intercepts. In short, Mrs. Nelli Ohr would know that using HAM radio frequencies would be a way to avoid the risk of U.S. intelligence intercepts on her communications.
The Clinton Campaign hired Fusion GPS in April 2016. Fusion GPS then sub-contracted retired British Intel MI6 agent Christopher Steele to write the Russian Dossier. A month later, May 23rd 2016, Fusion GPS employee Nellie Ohr gets HAM radio license.
So are we to believe it's COINCIDENTAL? All of a sudden, a 60(ish)-year-old woman decides to use a HAM radio the month after contracting with Christopher Steele for a Russian opposition research dossier on Donald Trump?
So this shadowy spook who has been spying most recently on international organized crime syndicates, and who is helping use the NSA surveillance capabilities against the Trump campaign, resorts to an obsolete technology dating from a century ago to communicate and not be captured by the very surveillance system they are subverting.
That is evidence of intent. Unless Mrs. Ohr can point to a history of fascination with ham radio '' maybe she built a Heathkit rig in the 1960s or '70s? '' this resort to radio looks like tradecraft '' the stuff of spies.
The ham radio license could be the pumpkin papers of our time. I want pictures of her broadcast facility.
Hate Trumps Love
USA Today editorial slams Trump: 'Unfit to clean toilets'
Thu, 14 Dec 2017 11:35
USA Today's editorial board blasted President Donald Trump on Wednesday, writing that his "uniquely awful" character makes him "unfit to clean toilets" in President Barack Obama's presidential library.
The fiery editorial followed a pugnacious tweet from the president on Tuesday attacking Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., as "a total flunky for Chuck Schumer and someone who would come to my office "begging" for campaign contributions not so long ago (and would do anything for them)." A day earlier, Gillibrand had called on Trump to resign over multiple allegations of sexual assault.
The editorial board called the tweet sexist, arguing that it was "clearly implying that a United States senator would trade sexual favors for campaign cash."
"A president who would all but call Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand a whore is not fit to clean the toilets in the Barack Obama Presidential Library or to shine the shoes of George W. Bush," the editorial said.
"He pours the gasoline of sexist language and lights the match gleefully knowing how it will burst into flame in a country reeling from the #MeToo moment."
National Park lovers should applaud Trump's monument decision | Fox News
Mon, 11 Dec 2017 12:29
President Trump's decision to reduce the size of the Bears Ears and Staircase-Escalante National Monuments in Utah, announced Monday on his visit to the state, is a good one and an example of his policies that will benefit every American who enjoys national parks and monuments.
We should all thank the president for his administration's efforts to look at the facts, listen to the people, and act to roll back restrictive and unnecessary national monument designations that provide few advantages to the American people.
While such designations may sound good on the surface, in reality they have strained land management budgets and limited public access to beautiful places.
The Trump administration has been on the ground listening to those who bear the burden of these decisions '' unlike the Clinton and Obama administrations, which showed little interest in talking to local people before locking up millions of acres of land around them.
The Trump administration has seen firsthand what I saw when I represented some of these areas in Congress '' that the consequences of locking down the West have been severe.
Overly expansive monument designations '' like the two multimillion-acre monuments in Utah '' could have been spent on existing park treasures.
I applaud the president for having the courtesy to do what his predecessors never did '' visiting Utah personally to deliver the news that will positively impact those who love and care for these lands. His attention is a far cry from President Clinton making his Grand Staircase-Escalante Monument announcement from another state and President Obama issuing a press release with the wrong photo of Bears Ears.
The notion that our only option for managing public land is a restrictive monument designation is false. In truth, we can build bathrooms and fire pits, and accommodate hunting, fishing, grazing, and permit accessibility without destroying the land. In places where restrictive conservation rules are less justified, we can even authorize responsible resource extraction.
Each time the federal government levies new land designations, that new designation and management plan competes with existing parks and monuments for funding.
The National Park Service suffers from a $12 billion maintenance backlog '' meaning crumbling buildings, roads, and bridges cannot be repaired or replaced. Overly expansive monument designations '' like the two multimillion-acre monuments in Utah '' could have been spent on existing park treasures.
In the case of Bears Ears National Monument, all of that land was already federal land mostly managed for conservation use. With President Obama's monument designation, the maintenance fell to the already-strapped National Park Service. Many of these lands were once managed successfully by other agencies '' like the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service '' and can be again.
But freeing up more money for national parks isn't the only advantage of Monday's decision. Access to these places will be expanded, not restricted, as required in large-scale national monuments.
By lifting restrictions on motorized access, President Trump makes these lands available to more than just the able-bodied. With expanded access, the elderly, disabled and even wounded veterans can utilize bikes or off-highway vehicles to access spectacular places.
Furthermore, those who wish to use the land for other purposes '' such as hunting, fishing, camping, and outdoor recreation '' will now also have access.
For Utah Native Americans, this improved access is important. For centuries, they have used the land around the Bears Ears National Monument to hunt, gather, and worship. Many would come on foot while others would utilize off-highway vehicles to collect firewood, gather medicinal herbs or meet in specific locations for religious ceremonies.
The federal government could preclude these uses under a restrictive monument designation '' as it has in Arizona's Canyon de Chelly, Wupatki and even Utah's Natural Bridges.
Monument designations '' particularly the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument '' have been routinely abused in an effort to lock down resource-rich areas that do not meet objective criteria for preservation.
By unlocking these otherwise unremarkable areas, President Trump enables high-paying resource extraction jobs to return to rural communities '' a process that not only helps local economic development, but reduces U.S. dependence on foreign imports.
Protecting our most beautiful places is important. But we don't have to lock people out to do it. We don't have to put further strain on federal land management budgets. We certainly don't need to decimate rural economies. President Trump has done the right thing. All of us will be the beneficiaries of this decision.
Jason Chaffetz currently serves as a contributor for both FOX News Channel (FNC) and FOX Business Network (FBN.) He is based in Utah and joined the network in July 2017 after resigning from his position in Congress after nine years.
Bombers passport (again!) with a note
Hate Trumps Love
Don's Dentures
From your dental knight…
First impressions after looking closely at Trump’s smile
is no to a full denture. He probably has
a partial most likely to fill in the upper left area. He could also be wearing something on the
lower but the slurs in speech are usually associated with an upper plate or
partial getting loose.
If we want to be really crackpot it was a transitional
partial in place after the implant containing tracking device, microphone and
cyanide capsule were placed.
Merry Christmas
Gregory Birch DDS
Colleges Offer 'Therapy Llamas' to Coddle Special Snowflake Students - DANGEROUS
Wed, 13 Dec 2017 23:12
Posted on December 12, 2017
Several colleges, including UC Berkeley, are offering llamas as a form of stress reduction on campus for students unable to cope with their finals.
The effort to coddle students with cute animals follows other childish trends involving coloring books, ball pits, and rice krispies treats.
UC Berkeley, the University of South Florida, and Radford University are among several colleges to bring the pack animals onto campus to help students deal with the stress of completing their finals.
Campus Reform reports that students at the University of South Florida welcomed the wooly animals during a ''Paws & Relax'' event sponsored by the school's Center for Student Well-Being, which is described as a ''collaborative effort of six health and wellness departments on campus.''
The center's website says the event happens every semester, when they bring dogs and other furry animals to the campus to help students dealing with stress.
Students who visited the animals shared their messages of gratitude to the llamas on social media, while those who did not have the chance to do so said they were upset that they couldn't see the animals.
Many others expressed skepticism over the event.
At the University of California, Berkeley, the school's Twitter account announced the visitation of the llamas, which they claim helped ''ease #finals drama.''
''Pet a llama at @UCBerkeley's Memorial Glade, here until 4 [email protected]_Union,'' the official account tweeted.
However, not everyone at the liberal college was receptive to the endeavor. In the college's student newspaper, the Daily Californian, a student writer posed the question: ''Do animals help reduce stress? The llamas may not save your GPA.''
The article argues that ''de-stress'' events involving ''therapy dogs'' and other furry creatures may not actually yield a positive effect on stressed-out students. It cites Yale doctoral candidate Molly Crossman's 2015 study, ''Effects of Interactions With Animals on Human Psychological Distress,'' which showed the limited efficacy of stress reduction from the activity.
Other students, as noted by Campus Reform, told the student newspaper that the event did nothing to help them.
''The bottom line is that I think there's too much attention on animals,'' said student Daniel Shepard, a campus senior and business administration major ''People are paying attention to the animals to the point that they're ignoring humans.''
''The only positive effect is that it did give me something to giggle about afterward,'' he said.
Following graduation, there aren't going to be any llamas for the students to hug when real life comes knocking.
Source: DANGEROUS, Fox News, Campus Reform, the Daily Californian.
Photograph courtesy of Getty Images.
Mimi O'Donnell Reflects on the Loss of Philip Seymour Hoffman and the Devastation of Addiction - Vogue
Thu, 14 Dec 2017 00:21
The first time I met Phil, there was instant chemistry between us. It was the spring of 1999, and he was interviewing me to be the costume designer for a play he was directing'--his first'--for the Labyrinth Theater Company, In Arabia We'd All Be Kings. Even though I'd spent the five years since moving to New York designing costumes for Off-Broadway plays and had just been hired by Saturday Night Live, I was nervous, because I was in awe of his talent. I'd seen him in Boogie Nights and Happiness, and he blew me out of the water with his willingness to make himself so vulnerable and to play fucked-up characters with such honesty and heart.
I remember walking into the interview and anxiously handing Phil my r(C)sum(C). He studied it for a few moments, then looked up at me and, with complete sincerity and admiration, said, ''You have more credits than I do.'' I felt myself relax. He wanted to put me at ease and let me know that we would be working together as equals. After the meeting, I called my sister on one of those hilariously giant cell phones of the time, and after I had raved about Phil, she announced, ''You're going to marry him.''
Working with Phil felt seamless'--our instincts were so similar, and we always seemed to be in sync. Though there was clearly a personal attraction, both of us were involved with other people, so we fell in love artistically first. Over the next two years, we continued to work together'--I designed the costumes for everything he directed'--and, along the way, I was invited to become a company member of Labyrinth, of which Phil was the artistic director. As an ensemble, we produced Jesus Hopped the 'A' Train, which put us on the map. Then, seven years to the day since I'd moved to the city, 9/11 happened. It was disorienting to be finding our place as the world seemed to be collapsing around us.
When Phil and I weren't collaborating, we would see each other at meetings, readings, rehearsals, or any number of the endless parties the company threw. It was a fertile, exciting time'--we were all young, at our best and healthiest, and we were all in love with theater and with one another. Before every event, I'd think, Oh, God, I hope Phil's there. And if he wasn't, I was disappointed. It wasn't so much that I wanted to date him. It was that I thought, You're so attractive on every level that I want to be near you as much as I can.
In the late fall of 2001, we both found ourselves single, and I heard that Phil had been asking around about whether I had a boyfriend. He invited me to dinner at a little Italian restaurant in the East Village, and afterward we went to a tiny gallery nearby and looked at photographs taken on 9/11. I think what was going on in both our heads was: Do we feel this way outside work? And it instantly became clear that we did. But we were cautious. It felt all-encompassing. I loved working with Phil, and I was falling in love with him, and I didn't want to lose the experience of being his collaborator if we broke up.
After our second or third date, I said to Phil, ''I don't want to just see you casually and see other people. I want to be with you.'' He immediately said, ''Yeah, I'm all in.'' One afternoon not long after that, we were walking in the West Village and ran into a couple we knew. As we stood talking, their four-year-old son started riding his scooter off the curb toward the traffic. Without missing a beat, Phil reached out and with his big, beautiful hands guided him back onto the sidewalk, patted him on the head, and said, ''You're good, buddy.'' It was gentle, it was firm, it was kind. At that moment I thought, I'm having children with this man. It was a done deal.
From the beginning, Phil was very frank about his addictions. He told me about his period of heavy drinking and experimenting with heroin in his early 20s, and his first rehab at 22. He was in therapy and AA, and most of his friends were in the program. Being sober and a recovering addict was, along with acting and directing, very much the focus of his life. But he was aware that just because he was clean didn't mean the addiction had gone away. He was being honest for me'--This is who I am'--but also to protect himself. He told me that, as much as he loved me, if I used drugs it would be a deal breaker. That wasn't an issue for me, and I was happy not to drink, either. Phil was so open about it all that I wasn't worried.
A New Year's Eve date made things feel official. Phil was looking for a new apartment and asked me to come along. One day in the spring, I told him that I wasn't going to renew my birth control prescription, and he simply said, ''Good. Don't.'' I was 34, which felt old at the time, and I told Phil that it would probably take a while to get pregnant because of my age. As it turned out, it happened almost instantly. I remember calling my mother and telling her, ''Hi, Mom, I'm pregnant and, oh yeah, I have this new boyfriend.'' Her response was ''When do we get to meet him?''
Phil and I were both thrilled, and, soon after, we moved into an apartment in the West Village together. Early one morning in March 2003, I went into labor, which went on for 40 hours before I was finally given a C-section, delivering our son, Cooper. I remember the doctor cutting the umbilical cord and handing the baby to Phil. We hugged and kissed and cried'--he was the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen'--and Phil beamed with uncontainable joy. Then, wearing scrubs, he started to carry Cooper toward the door to take him to our families in the waiting room. The midwife had to stop him and explain that he couldn't just walk out of the O.R. with a newborn in his arms. He was so proud and over the moon that he couldn't wait to show his son to the world.
My memories of Phil are overwhelmingly of a sweet and gentle and loving man, which is not to say that he didn't have a temper, as anyone who knew him well will tell you. He was a sensitive person, and he was incapable of masking his anger. He would never sit and stew, or leave an argument unresolved. One night, when Cooper was five months old, I left him alone with Phil for the first time to join a friend who had invited me to a Marc Jacobs show. When I returned, Cooper was crying'--he wouldn't take the bottle and had been bawling the entire time. Phil yelled, ''You are never leaving the apartment again. I don't have breasts! I can't feed him!'' Then he handed me Cooper and stormed out onto our balcony for a smoke. A few minutes later, he slunk back in, and we both started laughing.
The growth of our family coincided with the rise of Phil's career. I was pregnant with Cooper during the filming of Along Came Polly and Cold Mountain, and when he was born, Phil was rehearsing for Long Day's Journey into Night on Broadway. While he was wrestling with his identity as an actor and whether he could carry entire movies, Capote came along. Phil overcame his hesitancy about portraying a man whom he physically couldn't resemble less. That film, in which he transformed himself so astonishingly, was the game changer. He won every major award, including the Oscar, while I was pregnant with our second child, Tallulah. She was born in 2006. Willa arrived two years after that.
Our loose rule was to never spend more than two weeks apart as a family, and Phil insisted on it with a kind of urgency. We had babysitters, but Phil refused to hire a full-time au pair. More than once, I found myself asking, ''You want to bring the baby to what?'' Or ''You want us to come to Winnipeg in the winter while you're shooting?'' And he'd say, ''Just bring him. We all need to be together.'' As our family grew, he remained adamant about it. ''Can't we leave the little ones home, and you and I and Cooper'--'--?''
''No. We're all doing it together.''
When I look back at how close we all were, I wonder whether Phil somehow knew that he was going to die young. He never said those words, but he lived his life as if time was precious. Maybe he just knew what was important to him and where he wanted to invest his love. I always felt there was plenty of time, but he never lived that way. I now thank God he made us take those trips. In some ways, our short time together was almost like an entire lifetime.
The exceptional leading man Philip Seymour Hoffman, whose death in 2014 dealt a heartbreaking blow to American cultural life. Photographed by Anton Corbijn, 2012
If I were to take a snapshot of how things were before they changed, it would look like this: We were living in the West Village. We had three healthy kids. Phil's career was skyrocketing. He and I were still collaborating on theater and films, and I had started directing plays. We had wonderful friends. We had money. We were both so aware, since we came from middle-class backgrounds, of how much we had. His mantra was: We have it to give. And he did. Phil was endlessly generous with his time and energy and money, whether it involved something as serious as paying for a friend to go to rehab or just having coffee with an intern, meeting a writer struggling with a play at midnight, or showing up for a babysitter's non-Equity showcase. He knew that it meant something because of who he was. He was never comfortable with celebrity, but he knew how to use his fame so that something good could come of it. Labyrinth, of course, got the bulk of his time, but he would do a benefit reading for almost anyone who asked. He became a fixture in our neighborhood, a familiar figure strolling the sidewalks smoking a cigarette, walking the kids to school, or sitting with us eating ice cream outside our favorite coffee shop. I couldn't have imagined a better life.
Twelve-step literature describes addiction as ''cunning, baffling, and powerful.'' It is all three. I hesitate to ascribe Phil's relapse after two decades to any one thing, or even to a series of things, because the stressors'--or, in the parlance, triggers'--that preceded it didn't cause him to start using again, any more than being a child of divorce did. Lots of people go through difficult life events. Only addicts start taking drugs to blunt the pain of them. And Phil was an addict, though at the time I didn't fully understand that addiction is always lurking just below the surface, looking for a moment of weakness to come roaring back to life.
Some of what Phil was going through was common to men in their 40s, such as the pangs of finding yourself middle-aged and feeling as though you're losing your sexual currency (something many women experience at a much younger age), or seeing your friends' marriages fall apart in the wake of infidelities. Other things were more specific: His longtime therapist died of cancer, which was devastating, and he had a falling out with a bunch of his AA friends. Phil had a love/hate relationship with acting. The thing he hated most was the loss of anonymity. He was making film after film'--we had a big family and had bought a bigger apartment'--and AA started to get short shrift. He'd been sober for so long that nobody seemed to notice. But something was brewing.
The first tangible sign came when, out of nowhere, Phil said to me, ''I've been thinking I want to try to have a drink again. What do you think?'' I thought it was a terrible idea, and I said so. Sobriety had been the center of Phil's life for over 20 years, so this was definitely a red flag. He started having a drink or two without it seeming a big deal, but the moment drugs came into play, I confronted Phil, who admitted that he'd gotten ahold of some prescription opioids. He told me that it was just this one time, and that it wouldn't happen again. It scared him enough that, for a while, he kept his word.
Phil went into rehearsal for Mike Nichols's production of Death of a Salesman, and he threw himself into it with his usual intensity. Willy Loman is one of the great tragic roles of twentieth-century theater, and Phil gave one of the rawest and most honest performances of his career. It asked a lot of him and it exhausted him, but it had nothing to do with his relapse. If anything, doing seven shows a week kept him from using, because it would have been impossible to do that on drugs. Though he continued to drink after evening shows, he was otherwise clean, and as the days left in the show's limited run wound down, I began to dread what would happen when it was over.
After the show closed, Phil didn't have any work lined up for a while, so he had a lot of time on his own, and he very quickly started using again. It was all prescription stuff, though I don't know where he was getting it. Again, I realized instantly, or at least I suspected.
''Are you taking pills?''
''No, I don't do that.''
''Well, you're dozing off.''
''I'm tired. I'm not sleeping well.''
As soon as Phil started using heroin again, I sensed it, terrified. I told him, ''You're going to die. That's what happens with heroin.'' Every day was filled with worry. Every night, when he went out, I wondered: Will I see him again?
I was getting all kinds of advice'--everybody was fumbling in the dark. Some people told me to get the kids away from him. The urban historian Lewis Mumford once said, ''In the city, time becomes visible.'' When Phil started using, Freedom Tower was almost finished'--a new building in the footprint of the World Trade Center. I remember walking along the Hudson looking at it, and realizing that our whole relationship spanned the fall of the twin towers on 9/11 to the rise of the new tower in its place. I thought, I'll make a decision once the building is finished. I felt like I was drowning, and it gave me something to hold on to.
Phil tried to stop on his own, but detoxing caused him agonizing physical pain, so I took him to rehab. In some of the conversations that we had while he was there, Phil was so open and vulnerable that they remain among the most intimate moments of our time together. Within a day or two of returning, he started using again. At home, he was behaving differently, and it was making the kids anxious. We both felt that some boundaries would be helpful, and tearfully decided that Phil should move into an apartment around the corner. It helped us maintain a little distance but allowed us all to be together as much as possible'--he still walked the kids to school, and we still had family dinners.
In the fall, Phil finally said, ''I can't do this anymore,'' and he went back to rehab. We decided I would bring the kids, then five, seven, and ten, to see him for a family visit. We sat in a common room, and they asked him questions, which he answered with his usual honesty. He never came out and said, ''I'm shooting up heroin,'' but he told them enough so that they could get it, and they were just so happy to see him. It was hard when we left, because they all wanted to know why he couldn't come home with us. But it felt healthy for us to deal with it together, as a family.
When Phil came back in November, he wanted so badly to stay sober, and for the next three months he did. But it was a struggle, heartbreaking to watch. For the first time I realized that his addiction was bigger than either of us. I bowed my head and thought, I can't fix this. It was the moment that I let go. I told him, ''I can't monitor you all the time. I love you, I'm here for you, and I'll always be here for you. But I can't save you.''
I guess that was also the moment I made the decision I had deferred while looking up at Freedom Tower back when Phil had first started using. It's difficult to stay in a relationship with an active addict. It feels like being boiled in oil. But I couldn't abandon him. I just had to figure out: How do I live with him? And how do I do it without caregiving or enabling, and in a way that protects the kids and me?
Some time in January, Phil started isolating himself. He was in Atlanta filming The Hunger Games. I called and texted him and said, ''I'm here to talk.'' At that point, we had started to shift things over to me financially, because Phil knew that when he was using he wasn't responsible. We began making plans to set up another rehab as soon as the movie wrapped, but I knew we had a difficult path ahead of us.
It happened so quickly. Phil came home from Atlanta, and I called a few people and said that we needed to keep an eye on him. Then he started using again, and three days later he was dead.
The circumstances of Phil's death were so public'--people around the world knew he was dead an hour after I did'--and every detail, from the days leading up to his overdose to his funeral, were, and remain, all over the Internet. And so I need to keep the rest of that awful time private. I had been expecting him to die since the day he started using again, but when it finally happened it hit me with brutal force. I wasn't prepared. There was no sense of peace or relief, just ferocious pain and overwhelming loss. The most difficult'--the impossible'--thing was thinking, How do I tell my kids that their dad just died? What are the words?
A loving swarm of friends and family carried me through those early days, but even so they felt miles away. They can't be there with you. There were a few people I knew who had gone through something similar. We would get together, and I wanted to say, Please don't go, because you get it. From others, I received a lot of well-meaning advice, such as ''Just get out more'' or'--I kid you not'--''Craft.'' Literally two weeks after Phil died, some fellow parents asked me to show up on a Friday morning to man the stall where they sold school paraphernalia. And after the fifth person suggested I should start running, I lost it. ''I don't want to fucking run,'' I said. ''I want to jump in the river and kill myself.''
When I finally did decide to run, it was always at night by the Hudson. The darker and rainier it was, the more violent the water, the better. I couldn't get enough. Something about the extremity of it, the closeness to death, was weirdly comforting. If I wanted to jump, it was there.
What got me out of bed every morning and kept me alive, of course, were my kids. I had no choice: They needed me, and I loved them more than anything in the world. I would hit moments when I felt, I'm done. I'm so done, but then I'd see their faces, and right away it would become, OK. I can do this today. They were keenly aware that I was now their only parent, and Willa, my youngest, obsessed about it, asking, ''If you die, how are people going to know how to find us?'' It was almost a year before I could go out at night without the kids' going into a panic. When I forced myself to make a few tentative forays into the world, within an hour there would be a phone call and I'd be on my way back home.
Even as I started getting out more, I couldn't bring myself to go to the theater. Phil had been my favorite person to go with. He was so enthusiastic and open and generous'--he was floored by actors all the time'--and at the end of any play, I would look over and he'd be crying. So, for a long time, theater was out of the question. I knew that, whoever was sitting in it, the seat next to mine would feel empty.
It's been almost four years since Phil died, and the kids and I are still in a place where that fact is there every day. We talk about him constantly, only now we can talk about him without instantly crying. That's the small difference, the little bit of progress that we've made. We can talk about him in a way that feels as though there's a remembrance of what happened to him, but that also honors him. We talk about his bad sides and his good sides, what he did that was funny and what he did that was crazy, and what he did that was loving and tender and sweet. We open up, and it brings us together and keeps his spirit alive.
This fall, after a long campaign by my kids, I agreed that we could get a family dog. They had their hearts set on a French bulldog, and after some research we found a breeder and picked out a puppy, a girl, whose picture was so cute it was almost insane (and I'm not a dog person). The moment we made the decision, Cooper said, ''She's going to die. Dogs don't live very long, so we're going to see her die.'' In her birth and in her coming to us, we were also mourning her death. Something about that felt right, knowing that everything you meet or love is going to die. I was in awe of my kids that they were able to hold both things in their heads at the same time. That's who they are now. And it hasn't stopped them from loving this little creature (her name is Puddles) scampering around our apartment. None of them wants to hold back. They've given their hearts to her, without hesitation or reservation.
They're all in.
In this story:
Sittings Editor: Andrew Mukamal.
Hair: Ilker Akyol; Makeup: Cyndle Komarovski.
Fentanyl considered for execution cocktail by two US states | New Scientist
Thu, 14 Dec 2017 11:33
Joe Amon/The Denver Post via Getty
TWO US states are considering using the synthetic painkiller fentanyl as part of the cocktail of drugs used to execute prisoners on death row.
Many pharmaceutical firms have stopped supplying prisons with the drugs used in lethal injections. Nevada and Nebraska are both proposing to add fentanyl to the mix to get around this, as it is much easier to access.
The opioid drug is used clinically to treat severe pain, such as that of advanced cancer. It works in the same way as heroin, but is 50 to 100 times more potent '' making it very easy to accidentally take a fatal dose. The drug has been blamed for tens of thousands of opioid overdose deaths in the US in recent years.
But it hasn't been used in executions before, and critics warn that fentanyl-assisted executions are essentially an experiment. The first execution could happen in Nevada as soon as
Trafficking of pills used by suicide bombers soars in Sahel - BBC News
Tue, 12 Dec 2017 18:56
Image copyright AFP Image caption Boko Haram has carried out a wave of bombings in Nigeria The UN has warned of a rise in trafficking of the synthetic opioid tramadol across West Africa, as one official revealed it is being found in the pockets of suicide bombers.
Seizures of the drug have skyrocketed since 2013, from 300kg (660lb) to more than three tonnes a year, the UN's Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said.
In September, three million pills in UN-logoed boxes were found in Niger.
The opioid is known to be popular with Islamist militants Boko Haram.
The pills - which can be legally prescribed as painkillers - are thought to be used to calm the would-be attackers, with the Guardian previously reporting the terrorist group stuff it into dates which they then feed to children before sending them to their deaths.
Some 600,000 pills bound for the group were seized on the Nigeria-Cameroon border in August.
Pierre Lapaque, the UNODC's West and Central Africa representative, warned the situation could not be allowed to "get any further out of control", as it continues to undermine global security.
"Tramadol is regularly found in the pockets of suspects arrested for terrorism in the Sahel, or who have committed suicidal attack," Mr Lapaque said.
"This raises the question of who provides the tablets to fighters from Boko Haram and al-Qaeda, including young boys and girls, preparing to commit suicide bombings."
The UNODC says the abuse of the drug - usually smuggled from Asia through the Gulf by criminal gangs - is escalating into a major health crisis in the Sahel, particularly in northern Mali and Niger, with sub-Saharan Africa's young population potentially providing traffickers with an even larger market.
One woman in northern Mali told the agency she regularly saw children little older than 10 walking around "after taking or being given pills in their tea in order to help reduce their feeling of hunger".
People taking the drug illegally are thought use a dose up to five times higher than usual medical prescriptions, the UNODC added.
Nevada and Nebraska executioners are turning to fentanyl - NBC News
Thu, 14 Dec 2017 11:33
Scott Dozier appears in court on Sept. 11, 2017, at the Regional Justice Center in Las Vegas. George Romero / KSNV
''Everything happens for a reason,'' Sandoval wrote in a letter to the paper.
The combination of drugs that Nevada hopes to use on Dozier, who was convicted of killing and dismembering a drug associate in 2002, does not include potassium chloride.
''If the first two drugs don't work as planned, or if they are administered incorrectly, which has already happened in so many cases '... you would be awake and conscious, desperate to breathe and terrified but unable to move at all,'' Dr. Mark Heath, an assistant professor of anesthesiology at Columbia University, told
The Washington Post.''It would be an agonizing way to die," he said, "but the people witnessing wouldn't know anything had gone wrong because you wouldn't be able to move.''
Addiction, mental illness complicate help for the homeless
Thu, 14 Dec 2017 11:43
EVERETT, Wash. (AP) '-- This is the lesson that the working-class city of Everett has learned: It takes a community to rescue the hardcore homeless.
It takes teams of outreach workers '-- building relationships with men and women struggling with addiction or untreated mental illness, prodding them to get help. It takes police and other agencies, working together to provide for their needs.
And it takes a prosecutor who was tired of managing the unending cycle of homelessness '-- jail-street-jail-street-jail. Hil Kaman left his job prosecuting the homeless and took up the challenge of finding solutions. For starters, he helped put together a team that would track the 25 most costly and vulnerable cases, and hover over each one individually until he or she was in treatment or housing.
"It was when everything else seems to have failed," said Kaman, who became the city's public health and safety director 17 months ago.
"They'll bring someone to jail several hundred times, bring someone to the emergency department dozens of times '-- the (people) resistant to treatment and other alternatives. It was a call to say, 'Isn't there anything else that we could do?'"
In two years, Everett's specialized team has found some form of housing for 14 chronically homeless people on its by-name list. The city's newly formed community outreach enforcement team has gotten more than two dozen people into long-term treatment, primarily using beds paid through a partnership with a nonprofit that helps officers deal with the opioid crisis. The city also set up a flex fund that accepts private donations to help pay for motel rooms, bus tickets and other costs.
It's among an array of strategies the city has tried. There is still much work to do: Everett, a city of 110,000 north of Seattle hard-hit by the opioid epidemic, and surrounding Snohomish County saw a 65 percent jump in people living outside between 2015 and 2017 '-- one of the largest increases on the West Coast in that period, according to a one-night count earlier this year.
The number of unsheltered chronically homeless '-- those who have been homeless for longer than a year while struggling with a serious mental illness, substance use disorder or physical disability '-- has grown steadily in the Everett region, more than doubling since 2015. That's even as the city and county added more supportive housing.
Kaman and others say a combination of the opioid epidemic, poverty, lack of unskilled jobs, rising rents, and a shortage of affordable housing have made it even harder for those who fall into homelessness to get out.
The problem is not limited to Everett; up and down the West Coast, the high cost of housing has forced thousands of people to live on the streets, a trend that opioids have exacerbated.
"These are expensive places to live. It's expensive for everybody. But the burden falls the hardest on people with the biggest problems," said Steve Berg, vice president for programs and policy with the National Alliance to End Homelessness.
In 2011, roughly one in every five opioid-related deaths in Washington state took place in this county. That was the peak, but heroin deaths remain high and deaths from synthetic opioids such as fentanyl are climbing. Last month, county officials partially activated its emergency coordination center, typically used for natural disasters, to respond to the opioid crisis. So far this year, health officials have collected 2 million discarded needles.
In this former lumber town on scenic Puget Sound, where thousands of workers assemble the newest Boeing airplanes, the crisis had become so dire that this year Everett city officials became among the first to sue the manufacturer of the painkiller OxyContin. The city blames Purdue Pharma for an addiction crisis that has overwhelmed city resources and deepened its homelessness problem.
Kaman joined the city's mayor, police chief, city council members and others who drove to Seattle in September for the city's successful argument that a federal judge allow its lawsuit against the drug manufacturer to proceed.
While that case works through the court, social workers and police officers are fanning out to find people camping under the freeway or living in RVs or the woods and try to connect them to services. Many of them initially deflect treatment, or are too ill to even know they need aid.
James McGee, a heroin addict who was living in his minivan on the streets, was among those who got help.
The 27-year-old started popping OxyContin prescription pills after a shoulder surgery. When the drug manufacturer changed its formula, he switched to cheaper heroin. He first told himself he would never shoot up. Then he did.
"You draw that line, tell yourself you're not going to pass that, and the next thing, you do," McGee said. "Then you keep going and going. Before I know it, I'm sticking needles in my body, doing heroin and meth every day."
He eventually lost his job at Costco and his apartment. Shortly after overdosing in the parking lot this summer '-- and being revived by someone who had overdose-reversal spray at hand '-- McGee walked into a police station and pleaded for help. Kaitlyn Dowd, a social worker embedded with Everett police, helped connect him to treatment about 100 miles away.
Now he's living in sober housing, more than 90 days clean, working a construction job and attending as many recovery meetings as possible. "I never thought I would taste recovery like this," he said. "Everyone deserves a second chance."
For every person who finds a treatment bed or permanent supportive housing, many more wait. Until this summer, when a second facility opened, the county had only 16 publicly funded detox beds for its 785,000 residents. Many must go out of the county, or even state, to find beds.
Experts say lack of on-demand treatment and a shortage of appropriate housing to meet specific needs are among the biggest barriers to helping people off the streets. Without permanent housing, advocates and city officials say the homeless will end up back on the street after completing their treatment, repeating the cycle.
Kaman said the city has been moving the chronically homeless into private rental units using vouchers, but the region's low vacancy rate makes that much more challenging.
That's part of the reason Everett is pushing ahead with a low-barrier permanent supportive housing project on city land. The project with Catholic Housing Services will house 65 chronically homeless people without first requiring they be addiction-free or deal with other issues. Residents will have access to mental health, recovery and other services and around-the-clock on-site staff.
Studies have found that such housing can save taxpayer money when compared to the costs of serving chronically homeless in emergency rooms, shelters and jails.
But so many chronically homeless people in the Everett region are on the waitlist for housing that those units will fill up when it opens in 2019.
"Housing is as, if not more, important than any medication" or other services, said Tom Sebastian, CEO of Compass Health, Snohomish County's largest behavioral health provider.
His agency is developing an 84-unit housing project for mentally ill and addicted homeless on a vacant lot in downtown Everett.
Compass Health doesn't typically develop housing, but "because there's that shortage, we feel a driving sense to step into that breach to do something to help solve that problem," Sebastian said.
For those who can get housing and services, stability can be a lifeline.
Garrick Heller, 35, who was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, said he would be on the streets otherwise.
Several years ago, he was involuntary civilly committed because he posed a danger to himself or others. He spent time on the streets, in shelters and eventually at a locked psychiatric facility run by Compass Health. Over time, he gradually moved into more independent living situations run by Compass Health.
Now he lives in a small studio apartment, where he sleeps on an air mattress. He gets mental health counseling and other services within blocks of his home. A service helps him pay his bills and rent, which is one-third of the $735 he gets in monthly disability payment.
Heller said he regularly takes his medication and works hard each day to stick to his treatment plan. He plans on looking for a job soon and wants to pass his GED.
"Getting myself back to normal '-- that took a long time," he said. "I'm determined to get better."
Finding solutions to homelessness is expensive. Voters in the city and county of Los Angeles since last year have passed a pair of ballot initiatives that will raise about $4.7 billion over the next decade to pay for thousands of affordable housing units and homeless services.
In May, a nonprofit pledged $100 million to help San Francisco cut its number of chronically homeless in half in five years by creating more permanent housing and increasing mental health services.
In Sacramento, where the number of people living on the streets has soared 116 percent over the past two years, the city and county last month agreed to spend tens of millions of dollars to coordinate services for those with mental illness and substance abuse problems. Steering them toward permanent housing is a cornerstone of the new effort.
And last month, King County, which includes Seattle, partnered with the Ballmer Group and others in a new program that will pay incentives to agencies that provide outpatient treatment on demand.
The hardcore homeless represent a major financial burden on Everett, putting pressure on the jail, emergency room and other services. In one extreme example, officials estimated one person used about $500,000 in such resources in one year. Another homeless man spent 800 nights in jail over eight years for trespassing and other nuisance crimes.
Hard cases resist easy solutions, but Everett's team persists.
Teams try to serve people where they are '-- in streets, in the woods or under freeways. Volunteers with The Hand Up Project '-- many of whom are recently homeless and recovering addicts '-- have been hitting familiar haunts to find others who might be ready for recovery.
One rainy day, they found 34-year-old Robart Blocher living high up in the trees in a two-story fort he built out of discarded materials. He is addicted to meth, he said, and suffers from social anxiety disorder and other mental health issues, making it hard for him to go to places and seek help.
He used to make $14.50 an hour as a chef until his addiction, a series of bad choices and medical issues forced him to find shelter in the woods. He had been living in a basement apartment, but got kicked out when his roommate died. Then he moved into a trailer and couch surfed. He eventually lost his job.
A recent report found there is nowhere nearby where someone working a full-time minimum-wage job could afford an apartment that was not subsidized or shared with others, and that's Blocher's experience: "Nowadays, no way," he said.
When the outreach team approached Blocher, offering to help him into treatment, he seemed receptive. He said he needed a mental health evaluation '-- but he had to deal with other stuff first.
The volunteers back off, for now. They will return.
In the past, Hil Kaman had prosecuted 38-year-old Joshua Rape. For years, his life has been a revolving door of jail stints, shelters and couches, and street-wanderings.
A specialized team of mental health professionals, housing and recovery experts, social workers, jail staff and officers worked to build a relationship with him. There were times when he'd tell them he wanted to get better but then he would disappear: "I was pretty evasive and elusive," Rape recalled.
Opioid outreach specialist Amy Austin kept after him.
"She was all over me," he said, recalling how she went searching for him a year ago when he missed an appointment after relapsing.
"I just wanted him to know that he could always come and find me," she said.
When he decided in jail this fall that he was ready for treatment, the team got him into a motel until a slot opened up. They took turns checking in daily as he waited more than a week for a treatment bed. In October, they drove him to catch a bus to the recovery center 200 miles away.
"We've all been counting down the days until he's been ready. We've tried so hard to get him engaged," said Dowd, the social worker. "We've known him for a long time. We all want to see him being successful."
Now he's back in Everett, having wrapped up 30 days of inpatient treatment. He goes to outpatient treatment and recovery meetings several times a week.
For the first time, the man who has been homeless for six years will have his own place '-- a one-bedroom apartment that he'll move into this month, using a housing voucher.
"I had to make multiple attempts at doing this," he said. "But it's working out. It can be done. You have to work for it."
This story has been corrected to show Everett was among the first cities to sue OxyContin's maker.
Associated Press writer Geoff Mulvihill in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, contributed to this report.
Netherlands tops new ranking of countries that make the world a better place | Inquirer Lifestyle
Wed, 13 Dec 2017 11:31
The Netherlands has emerged as the world leader in a new index that aims to distinguish itself by measuring a country not by its own prosperity, but by its contribution to the ''common good of humanity.''
A look at the top 10 countries on the latest edition of the Good Country Index, which started in 2014, suggests that overall, European countries make the world a better place, particularly Nordic and Scandinavian countries.
Because along with the Netherlands, the top 10 spots are occupied by countries in Europe, including Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Norway.
The top-ranked country outside of Europe is Canada, which makes an appearance in 14th position, followed by Singapore in 15th spot. The United States is ranked 25th.
Spearheaded by influential policy advisor Simon Anholt, the ranking is compiled using 35 datasets from the United Nations and NGOs.
Information is categorized in seven broad themes: science and technology; culture; international peace and security; world order; planet and climate; prosperity and equality; health and well-being.
While other country lists may shed light on the places in the world where inhabitants are happiest and most prosperous, the aim of The Good Country Index is to show which countries are ''a net creditor to mankind, a burden on the planet, and something in between,'' reads the report.
''Because the biggest challenges facing humanity today are global and borderless: climate change, economic crisis, terrorism, drug trafficking, slavery, pandemics, poverty and inequality, population growth, food and water shortages, energy, species loss, human rights, migration '... the list goes on. All of these problems stretch across national borders, so the only way they can be properly tackled is through international efforts,'' reads an explainer of the list's raison d'etre.
''The trouble is, most countries carry on behaving as if they were islands, focusing on developing domestic solutions to domestic problems. We'll never get anywhere unless we start to change this habit.''
The Netherlands scores top marks in categories like culture, world order and prosperity and equality.
Here are the top 10 countries:
1. The Netherlands
2. Switzerland
3. Denmark
4. Finland
5. Germany
6. Sweden
7. Ireland
8. United Kingdom
9. Austria
10. Norway
United Nations launches manual on tourist etiquette
What's the Good Country? - The Good Country
Wed, 13 Dec 2017 11:33
Problems like climate change, pandemics, migration, human trafficking, terrorism and economic chaos are multiplying because of globalisation.
Technology like the internet and aeroplanes connect everyone and everything, so all the good stuff spreads, but so does the bad stuff:
one person with a cold can cause a pandemic one geek with a laptop can shut down the power grid one bad bank can bring the global financial system to its knees.These problems are too big and connected for any one country to fix them. America can't fix climate change. Italy can't fix migration. Mexico can't fix drug trafficking. Greece can't fix the economic crisis. We need to co-operate and collaborate much more closely if we're going to make the world work.
But, most of the time, we don't. Why not?
Because the seven billion people who created all these problems are organised in two hundred tribes called nations. Each one is run by a government that's totally focused on the national interest: what will make us richer, happier, safer, stronger? They don't worry too much if that makes others poorer, unhappier, more vulnerable, weaker because, well, they're foreigners. And foreigners can't vote.
Can this ever change? Yes it can. It will change when we, the people who keep those governments in power, wake them up and tell them the world has changed, and their jobs have changed with it.
That foreigners aren't aliens, they're humans just like us, and we care about them.
That countries aren't islands, unconnected to the rest of the world: they're all part of one system. If it fails, we all fail.
There won't be winners and losers, only losers. And the evidence of that simple truth is accumulating all around us, every day.
That's why Simon Anholt started the Good Country: to change how our leaders run our countries. To help them understand they're not just responsible for their own citizens, but for every man, woman, child and animal on the planet. To tell them they're not just responsible for their own little slice of territory, but for the whole of the earth's surface and the atmosphere above it. And to help them act like they mean it.
The Good Country isn't an organisation, an NGO, a charity or a company. It's an idea: an idea that needs to spread.
Some of the tools to help the idea spread have already been launched on this site: the Good Country Index and the Global Vote. We'll keep coming up with new ways of spreading the idea but most of all we'd like to hear yours. Anybody can launch a Good Country project, start a Good Country Party, teach a Good Country course, write a Good Country book, make a Good Country speech, start a Good University, a Good School, a Good Company, a Good Village or even a Good Family.
Please sign up here for updates, and contact Simon directly if you have a Good Country idea of your own.
From Sir Brian in London
Adam & John (though I fully expect this email will bounce and not reach
in Israel the 3 days of rage has been a total wash. A few rocks thrown,
hundreds of Arabs hospitalised (mostly for tear gas inhalation) and little or
no disruption of anybody’s lives. We have a far bigger problem right now with
orthodox Jews and disabled people blocking roads (separately) to protest local
financial stuff. My dad (a No Agenda Knight no less) was stuck turning a 15 min
drive home from his golf range to over an hour by people in wheelchairs
blocking the highway. That’s a far bigger issue than the world recognising
Jerusalem for most Israelis.
drove in and out of Jerusalem on Sunday night with a friend who gave her talk
about surviving a machete Jihad attack to some students at the University,
completely calm, nothing going on. On Friday they’d tried to have a riot on the
main Arab shopping street in Jerusalem (Salah Hadin - named after Saladin, the
Kurd who conquered Jerusalem). Poor turn out had Ramallah criticising their own
people in Jerusalem. Quite funny.
have been some rocket alarms in the south but most of their rockets failed and
fell inside Gaza. Iron dome successfully took out one. The alarms are a bitch
for those living in the area. And there was one stabbing of a
security guard in Jerusalem but looks like he’ll live. The terrorist
was taken alive by a civilian bystander who chased him and punched him a bit.
Gaza over the weekend they had a nice looking Technology Expo but remind me
again how that place is a concentration camp (though this twitter person did say
"great to see how innovative people and companies are although their
abilities are limited due to the lack of material they need because of the
suffocating siege imposed on Gaza."
looked at Dude named Mohammed’s Jerusalem note. Producer Erez is obviously
closer to reality.
won’t get into a long Jew said Muslim said but one note about the map Mohammed
used, when MSNBC used that map after a knife attack, they had to thoroughly
walk it back a few days later. Full story:
the MSNBC on air apology for using the map:
the past I’ve criticised (heavily) Paul Joseph Watson for a badly sourced and
slanted video he made in 2014 during the last Gaza war. His video on Jerusalem
this time, however, was absolutely spot on.
one other point of note: Bethlehem was supposed to be given exactly the same
“international" status as Jerusalem in 1947 however today it is 100%
controlled by the “Palestinian Authority” and I’m not allowed to go in there
(had to sneak through an unmanned checkpoint in an Arab taxi to go walk around
a “refugee camp” last November.
doubt anybody in Israel really wants control of Bethlehem back though the
massive decline in the number of Christians there since 1993 when the
Palestinian Authority took over would suggest they’d be better off under Jews
than Muslims.
you for your courage (you can put this in the show notes if you like).
Swedish Synagogue Firebombed After Anti-Israeli Protests - Sputnik International
Mon, 11 Dec 2017 05:19
The incident took place in the wake of protests against US recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Police are investigating the attack.
Three people have reportedly been arrested in the firebomb attack on a Swedish mosque.
Over a dozen masked men threw firebombs at a synagogue in the southern Swedish city of Gothenburg. No one was hurt in the attack, local media reported.
Several people were inside the building during the attack and they went to the basement floor for safety until the police arrived, a witness told the Expressen daily.
"A burning object has been thrown" outside the synagogue building, Lars Tunefjord, local police commanding officer, told Sveriges Radio. He added that the police were at the scene conducting a "technical investigation and searching for the perpetrators."
According to other witnesses, a fire started in the yard of the synagogue after protesters demonstrating against US President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital threw firebombs at the building. The fire was extinguished soon after the attack.
The president of the Jewish Assembly of Sweden, Allan Stutzinsky, who was at the site during the incident, claimed that a dozen pro-Palestinian supporters were involved in the attack.
"About ten youngsters outside the gates of the synagogue ignited objects, burning objects that were later thrown over the gates into the synagogue," Stutzinsky told the radio station.
READ MORE: Hundreds Protest in Paris Against Netanyahu's Upcoming Visit to France (PHOTOS)
Hours before the attack, several hundred people marched through the city's center, protesting against the US President's Wednesday decision.
Jewish Agency for Israel spokesperson Avi Mayer has expressed his concern over the recent anti-Semitic attack and rally that took place in Sweden.
"Just last night, protesters shouted "we're going to shoot the Jews" in Malm¶, Sweden's third-largest city. I cannot imagine what it feels like to be a Swedish Jew today," he wrote on Twitter.
Earlier on Saturday, hundreds of pro-Palestinian protesters staged a demonstration in the Swedish city of Malmo, shouting anti-Jewish and anti-American slogans.
Washington's decision to declare Jerusalem as the capital of Israel has sparked backlash among Muslims and Arabs across the world. Austria and France also witnessed protest marches on Saturday.
Swedish Politicians Propose Deploying Military in No-Go Zones
Wed, 13 Dec 2017 05:28
Moderate Party politician Mikael Cederbratt made the proposal this week saying: ''The situation in our areas of exclusion has deteriorated. The gangs have taken over and the police have had to retreat. Swedish law no longer applies there.''
Cederbratt was backed up by 19 other Moderate party members who signed a motion to deploy members of the Swedish armed forces in the heavily migrant populated Stockholm suburbs of Hallunda-Norsborg, Tensta, Rinkeby, and Husby Botkyrka Directreports.
''It is absolutely necessary to do something, because these gangs are like cancerous tumours in our country, and it is urgent. My absolute belief is that we, the nation of Sweden, must declare war on criminal gangs,'' Cederbratt said.
''It is the responsibility of the state to maintain the law, especially the police. But the police today do not have the numerical ability to maintain public order,'' he added.
In certain no-go zones, police have been brutally attacked, some of which has even been caught on video. In Rinkeby, police have been trying to build a new, more secure police station for months but have been unable to find building contractors due to the danger of working in the area.
Cederbratt said that the military could take on police functions in the areas. ''For example, a police bus and a night in Norsborg could be manned by four to five soldiers led by a police inspector,'' he said.
''Military police are perfect. We also have a group of UN military unions who have learned this kind of work in very difficult situations abroad. If they receive supplementary education, they can work very well under the guidance of a police officer in Sweden.''
The situation for Swedish police has become dire with Swedish National Police Commissioner Dan Eliasson begging for help from the government earlier this year.
The threats to the police have also begun to increase after a police station was bombed earlier this week in Helsingborg with authorities refusing to rule out potential terrorist links.
Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)breitbart.com
AfD politician: Germany needs a higher birthrate instead of replacing our own people by migrants
Tue, 12 Dec 2017 16:27
Gottfried Curio, a member of Germany's AfD anti-immigration party, said his country is not solving its demographic problem by admitting more migrants into the country.
According to him the ''flood with the lowest qualified and their families'' will not lead to stabilisation of Germany's job market, but instead leads to more unemployment. He adds:
''What would be more decisive would be an increasing birthrate, a proactive family policy, as it would be expected of us, not before, instead of replacing our own people.''
"Eurosion": Muslim Majority in Thirty Years?
Tue, 12 Dec 2017 14:04
One of the most debated arguments about Muslims in Europe is the "Eurabia" claim: that high birth rates and immigration will make Muslims the majority on the continent within a few decades. For years, most of the media and analysts dismissed the claim as alarmist and racist. "Dispelling the myth of Eurabia", sniffed a major Newsweek cover.
Not many had the courage to sound an alarm. The great Arabist scholar, Bernard Lewis, sent out a warning more than a decade ago that Europe would turn Muslim by the end of this century, and dissolve into "part of the Arab West, the Maghreb". The late scholar Fouad Ajami also cautioned that "Europe is host to a war between order and its enemies, fueled by demography"; and the Italian writer Oriana Fallaci imagined a continent with "the minarets in place of the bell-towers, with the burka in place of the mini-skirt". Mark Steyn explained that "the future belongs to Islam" with an "enfeebled" West in a "semi Islamified Europe".
Ten years later, since Europe opened its borders to a massive wave of migrants from North Africa and the Middle East, the demographers reviewed their assessments.
New projections by the Washington-based Pew Research Center should be on the table of every European official and politician. The projections foretell that if the current wave of immigrants persists, in thirty years Europe's Muslim population will triple. If high migration continues, the Muslim share of Germany's population, could grow from 6.1% in 2016 to 19.7% by 2050. Even if all current 28 EU members, plus Norway and Switzerland, closed their borders to migrants, the Islamic population will continue to exponentiate. According to Pew's data, Muslims made up 4.9% of Europe's population in 2016, with 25.8 million people across 30 countries, up from 19.5 million people in 2010. Today it is an increase of six million in seven years. And tomorrow?
Pew's researchers looked at three scenarios: "zero migration" between 2016 and 2050; "medium migration", in which the flow of refugees stops but people continue to migrate for other reasons; and "high migration", in which the flow of migrants between 2014 and 2016 continues with the same religious composition.
In the medium migration scenario '' considered by Pew "the most likely" - Sweden would have the biggest share of the new population at 20.5%. The UK's share would rise from 6.3% in 2016 to 16.7%. There will be similar percentages everywhere, from Belgium (15%) to France (17.4%). If high migration continues until 2050, Sweden's Muslim share will grow to 30.6%, Finland's to 15%, Norway's to 17%, France's to 18%, Belgium's to 18.2% and Austria's to 19.9%.
Pew's dramatic scenarios do not tell the whole story, however. What will happen in major European cities, where the Muslim communities are currently based? Will London, Marseille, Stockholm, Brussels, Amsterdam, Berlin and Birmingham all have Muslim majorities?
What will happen in major European cities, where the Muslim communities are currently based? Will London, Marseille, Stockholm, Brussels, Amsterdam, Berlin and Birmingham all have Muslim majorities? (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images)
The French demographer Jean-Claude Chesnais in his book "Le Cr(C)puscule de l'Occident" predicted an opulent but sterile continent, one in which population is characterized by death, not birth. According to the national statistics agency Istat, fewer than 474,000 births were registered in Italy last year, down 12,000 from the year before, with an even bigger drop from the 577,000 born in 2008. Italy has "lost" 100.000 births in ten years. The loss has been called "the great Eurosion". The old continent is "frailing".
Moreover, the fastest-breeding demographic group in Europe is also the most resistant to the pieties of a secularized liberal European democracy, which is seen as a sign of moral abdication from the true "path" or "way".
Under the "medium" and "high" projections in Pew's scenarios, how can Europe preserve all its most precious gifts: freedom of expression, separation of church and state, freedom of conscience, rule of law and equality between men and women?
According to the French author Eric Zemmour:
"If tomorrow there were 20, 30 million French Muslims determined to veil their wives and to apply the laws of Sharia, we could only preserve the minimal rules of secularism by dictatorship. That's what Atat¼rk, Bourguiba or even Nasser understood in their day".
Will Europe retreat into a non-democratic regime to preserve its own freedoms or will it lose these freedoms under the rise of this large Islamic communities? Considering what Europe witnessed in the last couple of years under terrorism and multiculturalism, what will happen in the next thirty years?
Jean-Claude Chesnais rightly called this shift a "cr(C)puscule", a twilight. We are living through the self-extinction of the European societies of the Enlightenment. It has shaped the humanitarian age we live in '' but may not any more.
Giulio Meotti, Cultural Editor for Il Foglio, is an Italian journalist and author.
(C) 2017 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.
Laanen's Luim >> Blog Archive >> Stiekempjes jaagt Trump o.a. Nederlandse kenniswerkers het land uit
Mon, 11 Dec 2017 12:24
En nog steeds geen *piep* van onze wakkere pers! 9 oktober gebruikte ik mijn lunchafspraak in Silicon Valley met een jonge Nederlandse kenniswerker (mensen met een H-1B visum) voor een update van de stand van zaken. Toen kwam mij ter ore dat het regende aan opzeggingen van mensen die hun visum wilden verlengen en vervolgens schriftelijk de mededeling kregen dat zulks geweigerd werd en dat ze binnen 60 dagen de V.S. moesten verlaten.
De aangescherpte regels voor dergelijke visa hebben er voor gezorgd dat onder de radar vele duizenden, zeker voor Silicon Valley benodigde werkers, het land worden uitgejaagd. Het inreisverbod en dit soort visa maatregelen zorgen er voor dat de Verenigde Staten zich langzaam aan het isoleren zijn van kennis die ze zo broodnodig hebben. En; hoe zijn de Verenigde Staten ook alweer opgebouwd? Juist, door immigranten! Je vraagt je wel af hoe immigranten als Trump (Drumpf oorspronkelijk) hun kapitaal vergaard hebben. Ik neem aan dat deze apfel niet ver van de boom valt.
Neemt niet weg dat, om met Cruyff te spreken, elk nadeel z'n voordeel heeft. Want, toen ik dat bekend maakte tijdens mijn lezing van 29 november j.l. in Eindhoven, verklaarde men zich spontaan bereid, wegens hun eigen tekort aan techneuten, deze arme zielen op te vangen! Het weer niet meegerekend een goede propositie. Tijdens mijn lezingen haal ik altijd het onderstaande boekje aan, zij het met een praktijkvoorbeeld.
Met name de woorden die wij Nederlanders verzinnen wanneer we de vertaling niet kennen. Het bovenstaande mag duidelijk zijn. Met onze Amerikaanse vrienden bezochten we vorige week een echte degelijke molen in Loenen aan de Vecht, waar mijn sportmakker Christiaan vrijwilliger is. De rondleiding liet hij over aan de meest geschikte man in ''dienstjaren'' die zich verontschuldigde voor zijn Engels, doch wiens enthousiasme alle goed maakte. Onze vrienden waren onder de indruk van de ingenieuze constructie maar raakten duidelijk in verwarring toen onze gids monter vertelde dat na het sorteren van ''the grain'' (=graan), ''the meelman'' voorbij kwam. Zij verstonden zoiets van dat na sortering van het graan de postbode er bij betrokken werd. Lacherig konden wij melden dat de molenaar bedoeld werd. Geweldige middag, dat wel. Ook Gouda aangedaan. Wel 20 jaar niet geweest en echt genoten van het stadshart. Jammer dat mijn haar, eigenlijk het ontbreken daarvan, geen aanleiding gaf tot het bezoeken van wat zeker mijn favoriete kapper zou zijn:
Amsterdam was eivol en eigenlijk niet leuk meer, behalve dan de lichttoer op het water, altijd een betoverend schouwspel. Inmiddels waren onze Californische vrienden dermate koud geworden dat een ingelaste pitsstop (lees bar) noodzakelijk werd. En die zijn dan weer plenty te vinden! En dan nu het volgende:
Kandidaten Wijdemeren (incl. Loosdrecht):
Peter Laanen
Geen angst, ik ben slechts lijstduwer, maar vond wel dat ik kleur moest bekennen. Zoals te doen gebruikelijk een staartje Singh, omdat het niet aan de aandacht mag ontsnappen.
Aan deze kant van Vacaville Prison wil ik Singh volgend jaar zien! Glimlachend, met de hand van de goegemeente op zijn schouder ter ondersteuning. Daarom ook blijf ik de roep om geld herhalen omdat het venijn altijd in de staart zit, waar wellicht geld dan de ontbrekende factor is. Laat je hart spreken wanneer je bedenkt waar Jaitsen Singh in zijn 34e jaar van gevangenschap de kerst doorbrengt: https://www.geef.nl/nl/actie/maak-het-verschil-voor-jaitsen-singh/donateurs
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German government tries to scare migrants away
Wed, 13 Dec 2017 11:11
Having spent the better part of the last three years welcoming migrants from the Middle East and Africa to their country, the German government is now attempting to stem the tide.
The foreign ministry has created a website to dissuade would-be migrants from traveling to Germany.
The website, titled ''Rumours about Germany: Facts for Migrants,'' features ''some of the most common false promises made by traffickers.''
Here are the seven ''big lies'':
The ship for the crossing is very big, and it even has a pool and cinemaGermany has reserved 800,000 slots for Afghan refugees aloneHuman traffickers have 25 years of experience, and transport to Europe is 100 percent legal and achievableBig German corporations constantly need a new workforce, so Germany takes 5,000 migrants dailyEvery refugee receives a welcome payment of 2,000 eurosGermany grants every refugee a houseRefugees who doesn't like it in Germany will be given a visa for CanadaThe foreign ministry, instead, paints a dismal picture of refugee life in Germany.
America is headed down a suicidal path, contends Leo Hohmann in ''Stealth Invasion: Muslim Conquest Through Immigration and Resettlement Jihad,'' available now in hard copy or e-book at the WND Superstore.
''Those entering Germany illegally will not be able to get a job. Also note that the German government does not provide refugees with jobs. '... Contrary to rumours and misinformation deliberately spread by human traffickers, Germany does not provide a welcome payment. Nobody will be given his own house. In fact, finding a place to live has become more and more difficult in Germany, especially in the big cities. Also note that you cannot choose freely where to live while you seek asylum and may have to stay in remote places where no one understands your language.''
The foreign ministry claimed in a press release that the website was a continuation of an information campaign that started in the fall of 2015.
But as Germany-based author and journalist Stefan Frank wrote at the Gatestone Institute, no major newspaper reported any such campaign at the time.
Frank also questions why any migrant would go to the ''Rumours about Germany'' website, and if they do go, why they would believe the foreign ministry's claim that many asylum seekers see their applications rejected and have to return home with no money.
''Every German knows that hardly any asylum seekers whose applications are rejected are forced to leave Germany,'' Frank wrote. ''If their application is rejected and they decide to return to their home country, they are rewarded with an allowance of between '‚¬1000 ($1,200) and '‚¬3000 ($3,600). Thus, contrary to what 'Rumours about Germany' claims, making the journey to Germany still appears as a win-win proposition.''
What's more, in 2014, the German government's Agency for Migration and Refugees produced a 17-minute video depicting the welcoming arrival of a fictional refugee from Iraq.
As Frank pointed out, there were no mentions of any obstacles or difficulties in the entire film.
The video showed the fictional refugee encountering smiling officials who had been awaiting his arrival. And the refugee shelter was shown as a comfortable place with only two other residents, who both appeared to be friendly.
America is headed down a suicidal path, contends Leo Hohmann in ''Stealth Invasion: Muslim Conquest Through Immigration and Resettlement Jihad,'' available now in hard copy or e-book at the WND Superstore.
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Danish school cancels traditional Christmas service 'because of Muslim students'
Thu, 14 Dec 2017 00:32
Ten parents have complained about a primary school in Eastern Denmark that cancelled its traditional Christmas service.
The ''Gribskolen'' school made its decision because of the presence of students with immigrant backgrounds. The head of the school in Graested, Marianne Vederso says about it:
''We made the decision because we have children who are not Protestant '... and it must be left to the individual families whether they want to privately attend a service.''
Danish politicians criticised the school after its decision to cancel the events. The complaints of the parents were also picked up by Danish media. They speculated that the cancellation is related to the sensitivities of the schools' Muslim students.
Last year Danish Children of the school did participate in a week long Syria event about Middle Eastern culture. There were even lessons given by immigrant children to them.
One parent with two daughters at the school says:
''I don't see why our tradition has to be taken away from us, just because someone else at the school believes in something else '... I come from a small community, where the church is important, and these traditions are beautiful. I remember enjoying them myself as a child, and they are a fundamental part of Christmas.''
The Los Angeles fire that destroyed Bel-Air homes began at a homeless camp, officials say
Wed, 13 Dec 2017 23:12
Post Nation
By Marwa Eltagouri
December 12, 2017 at 10:53 PM
Flames climb along a steep canyon wall and threaten homes as the Skirball Fire swept through the Bel-Air district of Los Angeles on Dec. 6. Fire officials said Tuesday that the blaze was started by a cooking fire at a homeless encampment. (Reed Saxon/AP)The blaze that destroyed six homes and damaged a dozen more last week in the Bel-Air neighborhood of Los Angeles '-- one of the country's most affluent communities '-- was sparked by a cooking fire at a homeless encampment, fire officials said Tuesday.
Homeless people for several years have lived in a small canyon east of the 405 freeway near Sepulveda Boulevard in Bel-Air, said Peter Sanders, a spokesman for the Los Angeles Fire Department. Arson investigators visited the encampment the morning of Dec. 6 and found evidence that people had been cooking and sleeping in the brush area, but did not find anyone at the encampment. Much of it was destroyed by the fire.
Fire officials said that before the fire, they were unaware of the encampment's existence and had not answered any calls in that location.
The fire, dubbed the Skirball Fire, is among blazes that have ravaged Southern California for more than a week, fanned by high-speed winds and dry conditions. The damage caused by the Skirball Fire was small compared with the Thomas Fire, which remains the largest active wildfire, having burned through nearly 150,000 acres and taking with it more than 500 buildings and at least one life as of Sunday. Officials over the weekend began lifting evacuation orders in Ventura, leaving them to deal with the aftermath of the historic fire. Residents in Carpinteria and Santa Barbara were still under threat Sunday as the fire raged.
Firefighters inside a destroyed home in Bel-Air. (John Cetrino/European Pressphoto Agency/REX/Shutterstock/)After it broke early Wednesday, the Skirball Fire blackened chaparral-covered hillsides along the freeway and shut down part of the 405 during that morning's rush hour. It destroyed more than 400 acres in Bel-Air and damaged homes on Moraga Drive, Casiano Road and Linda Flora Drive, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The fire tore through the hills over UCLA, where classes were canceled, according to the L.A. Times. Faculty and staff living off-campus were urged to stay away and the university, along with more than 800 Department of Water and Power customers, lost power.
It forced the Getty Center to close, though officials said the flames did not immediately endanger the museum's art, according to the L.A. Times. And about a hundred nuns at a nursing home in the fire's path were evacuated and taken into the homes of maintenance workers, nurses, administrators and drivers.
The fire also led Los Angeles Lakers player Brook Lopez to use a car service to evacuate his cat from his Bel-Air home, according to the L.A. Times.
By Tuesday, the fire was 85 percent contained, with 69 firefighters still working to fully extinguish it. As of Tuesday afternoon, the Thomas Fire was 25 percent contained, while the other fires were either mostly contained or fully extinguished.
The investigators examining the homeless encampment ruled out arson as a cause of the fire based on where the flames ignited and what was left there. Sanders said there are no suspects in connection to the fire.
About 55,000 homeless people were living in Los Angeles County in 2017 '-- about 13,000 people more than in 2016, according to the Associated Press. Most homeless people there are considered unsheltered, meaning tens of thousands of people can't access shelters and are forced to sleep in streets or parks. In New York City, just 5 percent of homeless people are considered unsheltered because of a system that gets people into shelters immediately.
About 90 percent of wildfires in the United States are caused by humans. Some result from campfires left unattended or negligently discarded cigarettes, according to the National Park Service. The other 10 percent of fires are caused by lightening or lava.
Read more:
Apocalyptic images show the devastation caused by raging Southern California fires
California fires rage into second week as massive blazes are 'expected to spread'
Marwa Eltagouri is a general assignment reporter for The Washington Post. She previously worked as a reporter for the Chicago Tribune, where she covered crime, immigration and neighborhood change. Contact her at marwa.eltagouri@washpost.com.
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Los Angeles Wants To Put Its Shelter Animals On An All-Vegan Diet | Daily Wire
Thu, 14 Dec 2017 10:55
A group of activists, led by electronic music star-turned-professional environmentalist Moby, are trying to convince the Los Angeles City Board of Animal Services Commissioners to turn all of their shelter dogs vegan, replacing their regular dog kibble '-- which contains turkey, chicken, and lamb '-- with a "plant-based" formula.
The idea is the brainchild of Commissioner Roger Wolfson, who claims that he's "researched" vegan diets for animals and that restricting dogs and cats to consuming only plant-based material "eliminates" certain behavioral and digestive issues. He also claims that the city of Los Angeles, in order to be truly considered progressive, needs to rethink the ""the ethics of feeding animals to animals," The Washington Post reports.
''If we adopt this, it's one more thing that proves to the world that Los Angeles really is the progressive capital,'' Moby testified at a recent meeting of the Board of Animal Services.
''We have to embrace the fact that the raising and killing of animals for food purposes must only be done if we have absolutely no other choice,'' Wolfson added. ''This is about the long-term survival of every man, woman and child in this room, and all of the people in our lives.''
Lisa Bloom, the notorious "feminist" attorney who disappeared from the public eye after defending alleged serial rapist Harvey Weinstein, and reportedly suggesting that Weinstein smear his accusers in the media to delegitimize their stories, is also a supporter of the measure.
According to PetMD, and veterinarians consulted for the Post's article, the idea of feeding dogs only plants is less "progressive" and more "harmful and insane." Although some privately owned dogs can thrive on vegan diets, Dr. Jeremy Prupas said in his report to the commission that shelter dogs are often injured, undernourished and have special needs, and require their food to contain enough protein, calcium and other vitamins and minerals to help them heal and thrive.
PetMD is more blunt, claiming that it is "inappropriate" to feed a pet a diet that ultimately forces them "to eat something that it isn't designed to handle." Dogs and cats can't manufacture some of their own nutrients like humans can. Denying them meat can lead to everything from cardiomyopathy to fatty liver disease.
But it's more important to people like Moby that L.A. be "progressive" than that homeless shelter dogs be given proper nutrition, apparently.
Thankfully, the Los Angeles shelters have other issues to contend with, specifically the cost of food that would make moving to an all-vegan shelter difficult. But "pro-vegan voices" are reportedly prevailing at shelter commission meetings, so perhaps it might be time to adopt some sweet animals from L.A. shelters before they're all forced to go meatless.
Security robots are being used to ward off San Francisco's homeless population | TechCrunch
Thu, 14 Dec 2017 11:01
Is it worse if a robot instead of a human is used to deter the homeless from setting up camp outside places of business?
One such bot cop recently took over the outside of the San Francisco SPCA, an animal advocacy and pet adoption clinic in the city's Mission district, to deter homeless people from hanging out there '-- causing some people to get very upset.
Silicon Valley game developer and Congressional candidate Brianna Wu tweeted yesterday her dismay at the move, saying, ''I'm sorry for being so frank but this absolutely disgusts me as someone that experienced homelessness.''
The homelessness issue in S.F. is thorny and complicated. One could get whiplash at seeing the excess of wealth and privilege juxtaposed with the dire circumstances just steps outside Twitter headquarters on Market Street.
However, the city's homeless are also associated with higher rates of crime, violence and sometimes episodes of psychosis, leading to safety issues that many feel San Francisco has not had an adequate handle on.
The S.F. SPCA rolled out the use of a robot unit dubbed K9 from security startup Knightscope a month ago, citing these same safety concerns.
''Over the summer our shelter was broken into twice. The inside was vandalized and property and cash donations were stolen,'' S.F. SPCA spokesperson Krista Maloney told TechCrunch. ''Furthermore, many staff members and volunteers have filed complaints about damage to cars and harassment they experienced in our parking lot when leaving work after dark. We currently employ security guards, but we have a large campus and they can only be in one area at a time.
The K9 units are also cheaper than humans. One robot costs $6 an hour to use vs. paying a security guard the average $16 an hour.
''Unfortunately, in the last year we've been forced to spend a significant amount of money to ensure the security and safety of the people on our campus as well as the animals in our care,'' Maloney said.
And, according to both the S.F. SPCA and Knightscope, crime dropped after deploying the bot.
However, the K9 unit was patrolling several areas around the shop, including the sidewalk where humans walk, drawing the ire of pedestrians and advocacy group Walk SF, which previously introduced a bill to ban food delivery robots throughout the city.
''We're seeing more types of robots on sidewalks and want to see the city getting ahead of this,'' said Cathy DeLuca, Walk SF policy and program director, who also mentioned S.F. district 7 supervisor Norman Yee would be introducing legislation around sidewalk use permits for robots in the beginning of 2018.
Last week the city ordered the S.F. SPCA to stop using these security robots altogether or face a fine of $1,000 per day for operating in a public right of way without a permit.
The S.F. SPCA says it has since removed the robot and is working through a permitting process. It has already seen ''two acts of vandalism'' since the robot's removal.
But putting permits and public use of sidewalks aside, it seems the robot could do more than just discourage homeless camps. It could keep an eye on the surrounding area and report crimes, yes, but it could also possibly be used to alert police and social workers to areas where homelessness seems to have increased or look for anyone who may be facing violence or a psychotic episode and in need of intervention.
The Knightscope bots are equipped with four cameras able to read more than 300 license plates per minute. They can move about and keep tabs on an area, noting anyone on a list of those who shouldn't be there.
Already the S.F. SPCA said it has experienced a drop in crime when using the bot cop. The same might be said if it had increased the use of human security guards but humans, as mentioned above, cost more. They also can't monitor 24/7 or immediately upload what they see to the cloud.
Further, robots aren't going away. While it isn't clear what solution San Francisco's city council will come up with to handle the increase of these types of bots on our sidewalks in the future, it's inevitable we're going to see more of them.
It's an age-old human vs. machine argument. But machines usually win.
Norway becomes first country to switch off FM radio - The Local
Thu, 14 Dec 2017 11:17
The FM broadcaster at the Tryvannst¥rnet radio tower near Oslo prior to being switched off. Photo: Heiko Junge / NTB scanpix
Norway on Wednesday completed its transition to digital radio, becoming the first country in the world to shut down national broadcasts of its FM radio network despite some grumblings.
As scheduled, the country's most northern regions and the Svalbard archipelago in the Arctic switched to Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) in the late morning, said Digitalradio Norge (DRN) which groups Norway's public and commercial radio.
The transition, which began on January 11th, allows for better sound quality, a greater number of channels and more functions, all at a cost eight times lower than FM radio, according to authorities.
The move has however been met with some criticism linked to technical incidents and claims that there is not sufficient DAB coverage across the country.
In addition, radio users have complained about the cost of having to buy new receivers or adapters, usually priced around 100 to 200 euros.
Currently, fewer than half of motorists (49 percent) are able to listen to DAB in their cars, according to DRN figures.
According to a study cited by local media, the share of Norwegians who listen to the radio on a daily basis has dropped by 10 percent in one year, and public broadcaster NRK has lost 21 percent of its audience.
"It's a big change and we have to give listeners time to adapt to digital radio," the head of DRN, Ole J¸rgen Torvmark, said in a statement.
"After each shutdown (in a region), we noticed that the audience first dropped but then rose again," he added.
The transition concerns only national radio channels. Most local stations continue to broadcast in FM.
Other countries like Switzerland, Britain and Denmark are due to follow suit in the coming years.
READ ALSO: Norway prepares for controversial FM radio shutdown
Pentagon Unleashes 2,400 Auditors for Unprecedented Financial Review - Defense One
Tue, 12 Dec 2017 05:37
After decades of false starts, the Defense Department aims to issue its first audit report in November 2018.
The Defense Department is finally beginning an audit of its finances, following years of calls for greater transparency and failed attempts to make its accounts fully reviewable.
Defense Comptroller David Norquist made the announcement Thursday, saying the department's inspector general would begin the audit in December. Starting in 2018, Norquist said, the IG will issue reports on the Pentagon's finances annually. The first audit will be released in November of next year.
Congress has pushed for Defense to make itself audit-ready for decades, but the Pentagon has repeatedly missed deadlines for investigators to fully dive into the minutiae of its $600 billion in annual spending. For the last several years, department officials and lawmakers of all ideological backgrounds have targeted 2017 as the year to finally get Defense ready for its financial review. The Pentagon was statutorily required to be audit-ready by September, and Norquist pledged in his May confirmation hearing to release a full financial review in 2018 whether the department was ready or not.
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The department will deploy 2,400 auditors to examine every corner of its finances. The IG has hired independent public accounting firms to help it analyze each military service and to produce an overarching, department-wide report.
'' It is important that the Congress and the American people have confidence in DOD 's management of every taxpayer dollar,'' Norquist said. ''With consistent feedback from auditors, we can focus on improving the processes of our day-to-day work.''
He added the annual audits also would ensure the military receives adequate supplies and equipment.
''It demonstrates our commitment to fiscal responsibility and maximizing the value of every taxpayer dollar that is entrusted to us,'' said Dana White, a Pentagon spokeswoman, on Thursday.
The Government Accountability Office first put the Pentagon's lack of audit-readiness on its ''high-risk list'' in 1995. Disparate systems among the department's various branches and components, coupled with a dramatic increase in the use of contracts in recent years, have inhibited the efforts to boost oversight. Obama administration officials acknowledged their failure to make Defense audit-ready hindered officials' ability to track the smallest of expenses and created a public confidence issue.
''The taxpayer will never be convinced if we can't do what every public company does'' and achieve full auditability, then-Defense Comptroller Robert Hale toldGovernment Executive in 2014.
Rep. Mike Conway, R-Texas, who chairs the House Armed Services Committee's panel on oversight and investigations, commended department leadership.
''Today's announcement is a major turning point for Department of Defense auditability,'' Conway said. ''The commitment to perform a full, annual audit of the DoD will provide the taxpayers the accountability they deserve, as well as present opportunities for increased efficiency within the department.''
Poland has sticker shock over 'unacceptable' price tag for Patriot buy
Tue, 12 Dec 2017 18:47
WASHINGTON '-- Poland has been pushing toward a purchase of a medium-range air-and-missile defense system for many years, settling on an unprecedented configuration of the Patriot system, but was surprised by the high price tag presented when the U.S. State Department cleared the sale of half of the Patriots Poland plans to buy.
According to the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, when it notified Congress last month of the potential sale, the deal could cost the country $10.5 billion for four systems '-- that is roughly 37 billion zloties '-- which already exceeds by 7 billion zloties what Poland has said it would spend on the entire program.
The DSCA announcement only marks the progress in the first phase of the acquisition. Poland would like to see a second round of Patriot systems with a 360-degree detection capability and the first four retrofitted with the new radar in a subsequent deal.
''The high cost came as a surprise for us,'' Bartosz Kownacki, secretary of state in Poland's Ministry of National Defense, told Defense News in a Dec. 5 interview in Washington.
''The price is indeed unacceptable for us even in the view of the significant financial assets that we allocated for the technical modernization of the Polish Armed Forces,'' he said through a translator. ''We cannot simply afford to spend that much money on the procurement of two batteries and [Patriot Advanced Capability]-3 missiles for such an amount of money.''
The offer from the U.S. included 16 missile launchers, four sector radars and 208 PAC-3 Missile Segment Enhancement (MSE) missiles.
The possible sale is a long time coming with Poland and the U.S. struggling through complicated negotiations over the past several years.
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Poland began its ''Wisla'' competition to procure a medium-range air-and-missile defense system many years ago, ultimately choosing Patriot in 2014 but, instead of simply buying what Raytheon had at the ready, the country decided it wanted a command-and-control system for Patriot that is still in development by the U.S. Army and Northrop Grumman called the Integrated Battle Command System (IBCS) along with a new radar down the road.
Instead of opting for a simple foreign military sale like Romania did recently when purchasing Patriot, Poland is, in a sense, creating its own integrated air-and-missile defense program.
Poland has also been adamant about creating quality defense work for its industrial base and has demanded certain offsets to ensure growth in its defense industry.
''We will be doing thorough analyses of the draft Letter of Agreement once it is sent to us,'' Kownacki said. Looking at his watch, he said he expected the draft LOA could be sent at anytime and could even be delivered during the interview.
The cost estimate for the Patriot deal was the topic of discussions held this week during Kownacki's trip to Washington. ''We simply cannot accept such financial conditions, we will be working hard on reducing it, we will be conducting a line-by-line review,'' he said. ''We understand to reduce it more than one meeting will be required, maybe two or three meetings will be required to negotiate an acceptable, reasonable price.''
Kownacki added that there are other elements of the deal that came as a surprise as well. ''For instance, the price of offset,'' he said. While some companies involved with the deal gave reasonable prices for offset, ''there is one company which presented an unacceptable offset for us and conditions we cannot accept,'' he said.
And even with the companies that offered reasonable deals, Kownacki said, there will still be an effort to negotiate the price down further.
Kownacki added it's possible that over the course of the negotiations it will turn out that some of the high prices were presented to the country due to a misunderstanding of its offset regulations. Poland changed its offset regulations and there are a number of elements that may not be understood, he said.
While the price tag for the first round of Patriots should be higher because of some up-front costs that cover the program as a whole, it should still be proportionately smaller than what Poland plans to spend over the entire life-cycle of the program, Kownacki said.
''Of course we can't foresee by how much we will manage to lower the price, nonetheless, the U.S. Administration as well as the companies are aware that we need to reduce this price,'' he added. ''I am confident that we will manage to reach our goal, our objective, and we are currently finalizing the project so we are in the last stage of negotiations.''
Some analysts in Poland are more than skeptical that the price tag can be reduced enough so the country doesn't exceed the 30 billion zloties for which its has budgeted to cover the entire program.
The U.S. cost estimate already exceeds the limit set by Poland by 20 percent, Marek Swierczynski, of Poland's Polityka Insight, points out in a recent report. ''So it will be good if the first phase negotiations will end at 30 billion zloties,'' he writes.
He calculates that if the second phase of the program reflects the first phase in numbers, the costs could be ''colossal.'' For example, the price of one Lockheed Martin-manufactured PAC-3 MSE for the U.S. Army is $5.7 million and, with the offset Poland wants, the cost could rise to $8 million, Swierczynski notes. The PAC-3 order is already reduced to a minimum so there is little wiggle room for price there. And he also writes the low-cost SkyCeptor missile that Poland wants to manufacture as part of the program is currently a wild card, falling in the second phase of the procurement.
Swierczynski suggests that if Poland wants to get the cost down significantly ''it has to say goodbye to the prospect of technological leaps in radar or rockets. And that was the most important thing in the industrial part of the Wisla program.''
The future 360-degree radar's cost is also an unknown because Poland won't know what it is buying for some time.
And adding IBCS to the Patriot system is an additional cost, yet it doesn't appear to be the reason for the enormous cost of the first phase of the program. Northrop Grumman confirmed to Defense News that IBCS actually makes up less than 15 percent of the total acquisition cost for the Wisla FMS acquisition.
3 Belts No Roads
One dead after Austrian gas hub explosion
Tue, 12 Dec 2017 13:45
Getty Images | TOMAS HULIK | AFP
Austria's main gas pipeline hub at Baumgarten, Eastern Vienna, where an explosion rocked the site on Tuesday 12 December.
An explosion at Austria's main gas hub Tuesday has left one person dead and several injured, according to a report.
Gas Connect Austria, which operates the Baumgarten site on the Austrian border with Slovakia, said that the cause of the blast was not yet known.
According to Reuters, deliveries to Italy might be most affected. Shortly after the news, Italy's wholesale gas price rose 87 percent to 44.50 euros per megawatt hour.
Italian industry minister Carlo Calenda warned of a "serious" energy supply problem and said the country would need to declare a state of emergency.
However SNAM, an Italian natural gas infrastructure company, said supplies to the country were currently guaranteed by storage levels and Russian gas imports could resume as early as today.
Following the blast, the Austrian Press Agency (APA) is reporting one person dead and 18 injured. The APA also said the plant was now shut down and the fire contained.
On Twitter, Austrian police reported that the explosion's origin was "technical". The force later added that the fire was under control and that emergency services were tending to the injured.
Russia's Gazprom, which feeds gas to the hub for delivery around Europe, said it had been forced to reroute supplies to customers.
British gas prices also affected by a U.K. pipeline outage, lifted to their highest level since 2013.
Baku-Tbilisi-Kars Railway to Become Central Asia's Gateway to Europe
Mon, 11 Dec 2017 16:18
By Fuad Shahbazov
December 7, 2017, the CACI Analyst
On October 30, 2017, Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev, along with Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Georgia's Prime-minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili, Kazakhstan's Prime Minister Bakytzhan Sagintayev, and Uzbekistan's Prime Minister Abdulla Aripov attended the opening ceremony of the long-delayed Baku-Tbilisi-Kars (BTK) railway. ''The opening of the railway is of historic and strategic significance,'' Aliyev said at the ceremony in the Caspian port city of Alat, south of Baku, to mark the departure of the first trains. In fact, the opening of the new railway provides an alternative route to existing rail services carrying goods from Asia to Europe.
BACKGROUND: The BTK railway, totaling 826 kilometers in length, is intended to complete a transport corridor linking Azerbaijan to Turkey (and thereby linking Central Asia and China to Europe) by rail. The railway is constructed on the basis of a Georgian-Azerbaijani-Turkish intergovernmental agreement. At the initial stage, it will have a capacity of one million passengers and 6.5 million tons of cargo per year, projected to reach 17 million tons of cargo per year by 2023. Starting in Baku, the trains will stop in Tbilisi, pass through gauge-changing facilities in Akhalkalaki, and terminate in north-east Turkey.
Given the importance of the BTK project, most Central Asian countries including Kazakhstan, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan have expressed an interest in becoming connected to BTK, which is the shortest route linking the landlocked region with Europe. Kazakhstan, for example, appears eager to join the route to its strategic Khorgos Gateway on the border with China. The initiators of the project forecast the development of a new railway junction between Central Asia and Europe, after Kazakhstan's Aktau port and Turkmenistan's Turkmenbashi are connected to the BTK route. The region's connection with Europe through the Caspian Sea would indeed provide a shorter route for transportation of local goods. Besides stimulating local manufacturing operations, the BTK route will also provide the countries it passes through with additional new sources of revenue, such as transit fees.
IMPLICATIONS: The Central Asian region, confined by its geography, seeks economic diversification through promoting various ambitious projects such as the China-led One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative. In general, the regional states see the BTK route as a logical continuation of the multi-billion dollar OBOR project, which intends to link the region with Europe.
The BTK rail line physically connects the central portions of Eurasia, the singular landmass stretching from China's east coast to Europe's west coast, containing 70 percent of the world's population, 75 percent of its energy resources, and 70 percent of its GDP. The overland journey between China and Europe via the BTK rail line will take around 15 days, which is more than twice as fast as sea transport at less than half the price of air travel. Trains can depart from a variety of cities in China, cross into Kazakhstan at the Khorgos Gateway, be easily transported by ferry across the Caspian Sea to the New Port of Baku, and then be loaded directly onto the BTK and head on to Europe '-- and vice versa in the opposite direction.
In this context, analysts in Kazakhstan have raised the possibility of reviving the Trans-Caspian Transportation Corridor. However, this project requires significant increases in trade turnover and Chinese exports to European markets. These options were discussed during recent the EXPO-2017 held in Astana. On November 5, 2017, the first train cargo carrying 600 tons of wheat from Kazakhstan arrived in the Turkish port of Mersin via the BTK route. The train completed the 1258-km journey from Kars to Mersin in about 30 hours. The first successful transit of goods was received with optimism in Kazakhstan regarding the future benefits of the BTK railway. According to Beybit Isayev, Kazakhstan's ambassador to Azerbaijan, the BTK railway project is in Kazakhstan's perspective the most valuable part of the transportation corridors from China through the Central Asian region and the Caspian basin, opening new prospects for delivering Kazakh goods to European markets.
Uzbekistan is eager to join the BTK route for the same reasons. The first high-level consultations regarding Uzbekistan's participation in the BTK project were held in Tashkent on October 17, 2016, during a meeting between Azerbaijan's Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov and his Uzbek counterpart Abdulaziz Kamilov. On March 18 this year, a trilateral meeting of Azerbaijan's, Georgia's, and Uzbekistan's railway departments was organized in Tashkent. Uzbekistan is known for its multi-sphere export, including coal and cotton, which has attracted foreign investments and gradually improved the production level. Increased trade turnover through this railway will increase Uzbekistan's GDP, enabling the country to facilitate and diversify its export of cotton and other agricultural products to the world markets.
The South Korean Black and Caspian Sea Export Company has expressed a willingness to invest in transit projects that pass through Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. The company intends to export Polypropylene and Polyethylene from these countries. The BTK railway is seemingly the most relevant option for the company to deliver goods to Europe via Turkey. According to the company's director Lee Dong, the Georgia-based Caucasus-Trans Express Company will be its logistical partner.
Turkmenistan also eyes the possibility of connecting to the BTK railway project, as indicated during President Gurbanguly Berdimuhammedov's recent visit to Baku. Possessing substantial natural resources deposits, including enormous hydrocarbon reserves, Turkmenistan also seeks alternative routes to Europe. In Baku, Berdimuhammedov emphasized the importance of improving transport connections between the South Caucasus and Central Asia, which would ease mutual trade operations of all these countries. In this regard, the BTK railway may serve as a suitable platform, which will provide access for Turkmen goods to European markets.
Unlike Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan's and Turkmenistan's participation in the BTK project nevertheless remains problematic due to limitations in existing infrastructure. Their participation in the BTK project depends on the successful launch of the Navoi '' Turkmenbashi railway route, which will connect to the BTK railway, as well as Baku's Alat International Seaport, and further increase the effectiveness of rail links between Azerbaijan and Central Asia. It remains a precondition for the westward export of Uzbek, Turkmen and Afghan goods via the BTK railway. Early talks regarding the Navoi '' Turkmenbashi transport corridor were held in Ashgabat in 2012, when Uzbekistan's former President Islam Karimov visited Turkmenistan.
CONCLUSIONS: The Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway project is set to reinvigorate regional economic growth, and to serve as a suitable gateway to Europe for the landlocked Central Asian countries. Hence, beyond its economic value, the BTK will improve connectivity across Eurasia. With its geographic location, Central Asia has the potential to become the core of all main transport projects that pass through this region. Undoubtedly, the Central Asian countries' participation in the BTK railway project will be beneficial not only for regional but also for European actors.
AUTHOR'S BIO: Fuad Shahbazov is an Expert-Advisor of the Foreign Policy Analysis Department of the Centre for Strategic Studies under the President of Republic of Azerbaijan.
Image source: By Giorgi Balakhadze CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons accessed on 12.07. 2017
The $10 Trillion Investment Plan To Integrate The Eurasian Supercontinent | Zero Hedge
Sun, 10 Dec 2017 21:47
Authored by Federico Pieraccini of Strategic Culture
The Chinese Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), by lending out money using an alternative currency to the dollar, opens up huge spaces for investment and the strategic transformation of the region.
The overland integration of the BRI, led by China and Russia, aims to create different transit routes for goods as well as different areas of economic development along the new Chinese Silk Road. A great opportunity is thereby opened up for Chinese banks and for private investors interested in creating infrastructure or developing potential industrial poles in the countries involved in this grand Chinese initiative.
Hong Qi, president of China Minsheng Bank, recently said during an economic forum held in Beijing regarding investments in the BRI that there is potentially about $10 trillion worth of investments in infrastructure in the countries that make up the BRI, such as in railways, urban development, logistics and cross-border e-commerce.
At this point, more than $10 billion has already been committed in investments, thanks to companies already present in over thirty countries and regions along the BRI, with the ongoing intention of financing these loans through China's public and private sectors. According to data from the China Banking Regulatory Commission, a total of nine Chinese banks are involved in the financing of projects, with 62 branches having been opened in 26 countries. A further $10 billion could come from European countries as a result of investments stemming from the China-CEEC forum.
Despite a delay in investment, and especially in the development of such projects, analysts believe that the BRI is the ideal ground for making regional cooperation agreements based on trust and win-win prospects for future integration of the region. Thus, not only are public and private banks involved in investments but the Asian Investment Infrastructure Bank (AIIB) and the Silk Road Fund are also part of the financial package that should lay the foundation for the accelerated development of the Chinese BRI. Confirming a new approach to the development of the BRI, Chinese investors during the first ten months of 2017 proposed projects totalling $11 billion in the 53 countries involved.
The effort is mainly focused on the development of railway networks, hospitals, and power plants. Such basic infrastructure will lay the groundwork for further development in countries involved in the BRI that otherwise have little capacity to invest in such projects themselves. According to Zhang Zansheng, an accredited researcher at the China Center for International Economic Exchanges, the first marker is set for 2020, the year that "further tangible progress" should be made in the development of the BRI, mainly referring to railway links between different Asian regions and the Mediterranean. Reflecting how things are already changing, dozens of trains leave monthly from European countries to reach China, the latest being one from Italy, leaving from the province of Pavia, a few kilometers from Milan.
Robin Xing, Chief China Economist for Morgan Stanley, echoed many analysts in predicting that 2018 and 2019 will be the two key years where tangible implementation of the Belt and Road Initiative will start to become apparent. These projects and investments will increase global trade with the countries involved in the BRI, which could see a 10% increase in their exports to China over the next 10 years, the practical results of the investments in ports, railways and industrial centers.
The People's Republic of China continues to treat investments and risks with a pragmatic and realistic attitude. Accordingly, the main investors in the BRI comprise state-controlled industries and banks, which allows for sufficient control by the central authority in the event of major problems. With investments amounting to at least $60 billion per year, involving more than 1,676 projects, and representing about 0.5% of Chinese nominal GDP, for the moment Beijing wants to have full control over the whole project, a strategic interest that is perfectly understandable.
The BRI is generating many innovations, including a possible new sea route through the Arctic. Although the project is yet to be fully developed, China is beginning to invest in cooperation projects with Russia to exploit this new route. The Russian Federation is the only country to have nuclear-powered icebreakers. Beijing intends to follow its Russian partner in this project in order to pave the way for its freight containers. Cost savings in terms of transport from China to Europe would be in the region of 30-40%. The Northeast Passage can only be crossed during about four months of the year, due to thick ice and unfavorable weather conditions that otherwise exist. Experts forecast that this route will be increasingly free of ice in coming years, and therefore will become more passable. Given the enormous shipping times to be saved, China and Russia have already started cooperating in order to be ready to develop and exploit this new and strategic route.
Considering the great importance of shipping routes, the ability to reach the Mediterranean is of fundamental importance. As things stand now, China is hampered by several strategic vulnerabilities, such as the Strait of Malacca or the passage through the Suez Canal, two choke points that are susceptible to a naval blockade by the US in the unlikely event of war between these major powers. This is not to mention the Panama Canal, which guarantees transit from the Pacific to the Atlantic, and Gibraltar, which controls access to the Mediterranean Sea. Certainly with an Arctic route, passage would be much faster, as well as be free from the possibility of blockade.
At the moment, the land route to Europe represents a viable solution, but one that also brings with it continuous challenges and several possibilities. One involves transporting goods from the north through the countries of the Eurasian Economic Union. The second involves going through the south, with a passage through Turkey to arrive either at the Greek port of Piraeus or in Venice. Some sort of competition is bound to occur in the future within the European Union, with countries jostling to become the main transit hub between Europe and China. The link between China and the European Union represents a critical issue for the BRI, with a traffic of goods in the order of tens, if not hundreds, of billions of dollars. At the moment, all the parties involved are aware of a much wider problem for the BRI. Freight trains from Europe to China are often empty, without major exports to the People's Republic of China, a problem that makes overland transport routes unprofitable. In this regard, the European Union must accelerate its economic recovery by aiming to exploit new trade routes that offer benefits for all countries involved. As usual, obstacles lie ahead, especially in the geopolitical arena, with the BRI representing a strategic challenge to American hegemony in Asia and Europe.
With this in mind, there is a need to move away from the dollar when it comes to loans and investments made to finance BRI infrastructure projects. This does not prevent the development of new projects for the time being. But China and other countries involved should pay more attention to this vulnerability that hangs over the whole project. Beijing should therefore accelerate use of an alternative currency in this grand project.
The economic power of the United States depends on the continued need for the rest of the world to have dollars available. This Chinese project aims to integrate countries such that Washington is denied it hegemony over Asia, Europe and the Middle East. For such reasons, it is fundamental that Beijing arms itself with every weapon available in its arsenal to defend itself from the sabotage that Washington will inevitably visit on the project. Avoiding a currency that the United States controls would be a good starting point.
The China-Russia-Canada-America Train / Tunnel Link?
Tue, 12 Dec 2017 18:48
One of the great American sagas was the pioneering and building of railroads to connect the country from the east coast to the west coast, with branched lines covering points north and south. The population and industry of America blossomed in those regions touched by King Rail, and the many junction points along the lines.
A similar story took place in Russia at about the same time along the vast trans-Siberia line and its many branches between Vladivostok to St. Petersburg. Today the story is repeating with the One Belt, One road effort to interconnect Eurasia that I wrote about last week.
Today, we are chugging along blithely through what can only be called politically schizophrenic times. The loud accusatory bluster and proxy threats we use are serving us as well as shooting ourselves in the foot. With all the conflicting noise, it has become hard to see into the economic crystal ball, and the once cherished dreams for unencumbered trade between nations. Hope and visions for future opportunities may be among the first casualties, and one I want to touch on through this story.
It is about a project that has risen several times, and been quashed for political rather than economic reasons. It is the rail link connecting Alaska and Russia through the Bering Strait. It would be a globally defining infrastructure investment, probably much more productive than any overseas bases, QE, sanctioning or other uses of the taxpayer's largesse. Simply put, this project would be an economic generator allowing for the creation of directly productive employment and expanding development opportunities throughout several countries.
On maps, the Bering Strait is used as a convenient place to 'split' the world. Some maps show Alaska and Russia's Chukchi Peninsula as if they were distant to each other. In reality, they are only separated by 51 miles with islands in-between. Currently, with advanced engineering, similar projects have already been done, and while challenging, it is fully within our competence to achieve. The map divide also manages to include the International Date Line cutting through the center of the strait where the Russian side is 21 hours ahead of the Alaskan side. Because of this, the islands are sometimes called Tomorrow Island (Big Diomede) and Yesterday Island (Little Diomede) yet they are only about 2.5 kilometers apart.
The Bering Strait became known to the western world in 1648 when Russian explorer Semyon Dezhnev reached the strait and reported on the local peoples and conditions. In 1728, Virus Bering, a Danish navigator, took a Russian expedition to the strait. This expedition gave names to both the strait and the Diomede Islands '' named in honor of the Russian Orthodox St. Diomede.
The entire area, originally claimed by Russia (with competing claims by Britain and Spain), was largely ignored politically for a further century while the region got on with business. Then In 1867, during the post-US Civil War era, US President Andrew Johnson's Secretary of State, William Seward, negotiated a US$7.2 million deal with the Russian Empire to buy Alaska. During World War II, the Bering Strait became a crucial artery for goods traveling by sea and air over Alaska from the United States to the Soviet Union.
At the beginning of friendly relations between Gorbachev and Reagan, it seemed that the Bering Strait might be a concrete symbol of common economic interests between the United States and Russia. It was then that the Bering Strait bridge/tunnel was first proposed as a link, reuniting Asia and the Americas. This, after thousands of years of separation since the ice age that allowed chilly but unhindered movement of people and mammoths between the continents. This refreshing cordiality was welcome as the ''cold war'' was supposedly settled '' yesterday's news. There were expectations by all to finally have a ''peace dividend'' to allow investing in projects for a positive economic future, like the land-bridge/tunnel.
As it turns out, the ever-increasing accusatory rhetoric tweeting between nations has re-invented yet another ice age with increasingly accusatory petulance and undiplomatically frosty cold war-ish attitudes from the US towards Russia and increasingly towards China.
Not too long ago, the Chinese reviewed the idea of the Bering Strait as a land bridge to be incorporated into the One Belt, One Road initiative. They propose to build a high-speed rail line connecting China to the United States via Russia and Canada. As recently as May 2016 the rail expert Wang Mengshu, of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, spoke of plans to build a high-speed rail line nicknamed the China-Russia-Canada-America line which Russia had also been thinking about and working on for years.
China needs and buys coal. China's purchase of Alaskan coal would offset construction costs and that itself could quite possibly pay for the entire railroad and the Strait tunnel, not to mention boosting job creation in both Alaska and Canada. From a Canadian perspective, China could conceivably import up to 3 million barrels of oil per day from Alberta, Canada, which by itself is enough to justify building the rail connection. It has been estimated that a high-speed rail project from Beijing or Moscow to Washington DC would cost at least $2 trillion. The Bering Strait tunnel, which is the keystone that will allow such routes, would cost approximately $35 billion, a small fraction of the total. The returns would be both large and long-term for all the nations involved '' it is a world-changing project with global reach.
The collateral damage of this ''cold war'' attitude is the loss of opportunity for the United States, Canada, Mexico and perhaps even Central America to upgrade and join their rail-freight networks, becoming part of the ongoing Eurasian land link boom. The real economic benefits are apparent to each participating sovereign nation. After all, Russia, China, and a host of countries throughout Eurasia have already agreed and are proceeding quickly to integrate and build advanced land trade routes to include Europe, the Middle East and Africa. It really is high time to re-evaluate, look in the mirror and have a reality check on who is the source of the problems restricting progress, and who offers solutions.
# roads No Belt-Blast at Austrian Import Hub Chokes European Natural Gas Supply - WSJ
Thu, 14 Dec 2017 11:52
An explosion Tuesday at Austria's largest import hub for natural gas left one dead, a state of emergency in Italy and the highest gas prices in 3 years in the U.K. just as the cold winter months set in.
Local police blamed the explosion at the Baumgarten an der March site on a technical defect at the gas artery some 50 kilometers (30 miles) from the capital Vienna. Despite a complete shutdown of the hub, which is critical to Italy's supply, and a fire that scorched 2.5 acres of land, there was no immediate environmental impact...
Google and Amazon are punishing their own customers in a bitter feud - The Verge
Wed, 13 Dec 2017 06:46
Amazon has just responded to Google's decision to remove YouTube from all Fire TV products and the Echo Show. ''Google is setting a disappointing precedent by selectively blocking customer access to an open website,'' a spokesperson told The Verge by email. ''We hope to resolve this with Google as soon as possible.'' YouTube is being pulled from the Show effective immediately, and Fire TV owners will lose out on the popular, essential video streaming app on January 1st.
Google says it's taking this extreme step because of Amazon's recent delisting of new Nest products (like Nest Secure and the E Thermostat) and the company's long-running refusal to sell Chromecast or support Google Cast in any capacity.
But regardless of the public stance each company takes over the next few days, it's their mutual customers who are unfairly getting jerked around. YouTube is a cornerstone of any living room streaming device, and for Google to suddenly decide to strip it from millions of existing Fire TV owners '-- assuming no agreement is reached by January 1st '-- is shameful. YouTube is video on the internet. Period. It's also home to beloved creators, and Google's decision will soon rob them of viewers.
Losing YouTube will almost certainly have a negative impact on Fire TV sales
Kicking the Echo Show to the curb doesn't impact nearly as many people, but it still stings since watching cooking videos from YouTube on the Alexa screen in your kitchen seemed like one of the perfect uses for the thing! But since Google is being pedantic and needlessly obsessive over every detail of how the app functions on Amazon's device, that's no longer possible. This is the second time YouTube has disappeared from the Show. Google said the first iteration had a ''broken user experience,'' which resulted in a revised version that was basically the full-blown desktop website. That's not exactly ideal from a usability standpoint.
''Echo Show and Fire TV now display a standard web view of YouTube.com and point customers directly to YouTube's existing website,'' the Amazon spokesperson said. But sources familiar with Google's position say the company takes issue with Amazon overlaying its own voice controls on top of YouTube. That violates section 4b of YouTube's terms of service, which reads ''you agree not to alter or modify any part of the service.''
Google is dealing Amazon's devices real damage by withdrawing YouTube, and you could reasonably argue it has the upper hand here. There are people who simply won't buy a Fire TV as a result of this move, and many existing owners will be displeased come January. Actually, they're already rather upset since YouTube is displaying a cold, matter-of-fact warning about the cutoff starting today '-- and gently pushing users towards other devices. If you follow that link, there's no explanation given as to why a device you paid money for will suddenly be made worse when the calendar hits 2018.
Amazon isn't without fault either. The company dragged its feet for years in releasing a proper Prime Video app for Android in the Google Play Store. That only happened earlier this year. Previously, you had to install Amazon's own, separate app store and only then could you install Prime Video. It was a sad, convoluted attempt at luring users to the Amazon Appstore. Even now, Prime Video still doesn't support Chromecast, as Google points out.
Google's complaints about Amazon are all valid
And that's directly tied to Chromecast's absence on Amazon.com. Since there's no easy way of watching Prime Video, Amazon won't sell it. But it's Amazon's own fault that Prime Video doesn't work with Chromecast. Amazon has the power to make it happen. What's Google supposed to do in this scenario?
Even to casual observers, Amazon's decision to remove popular, well-liked products from its store over this spat '-- or never sell them to begin with '-- is an ugly example of the company throwing its weight and power around. No one should be surprised that Google is crying foul. Is the company under any obligation to sell Google Home '-- the chief rival to its own Echo? Of course not. Them's the breaks. But the Chromecast situation is troubling, and Amazon's recent halting of sales for certain Nest hardware (with no real explanation) seems juvenile. Prime shipping is still a very powerful incentive, and Amazon is well aware of that.
What frustrates me most is that neither of these companies have bothered to apologize to customers over their squabbling. There's no ''we're sorry to everyone affected.'' On YouTube's end, it's just an abrupt, indifferent ''Hey, you're losing YouTube!'' message to Fire TV owners. Google says ''we hope we can reach an agreement to resolve these issues soon.'' Business terms take priority and customers come second. There's no other way of looking at this or framing it. No one's fighting for some greater good.
We're witnessing the worst kind of petty bickering from two tech giants, and consumers are taking the brunt of this escalating feud. If that's not embarassing enough, the companies are already being mocked by industry groups in favor of dismantling net neutrality. USTelecom wasted little time in piling on. ''Broadband ISPs are committed to providing an open internet for their customers, including protections like no content blocking or throttling,'' CEO Jonathan Spalter said. ''Seems like some of the biggest internet companies can't say the same. Ironic, isn't it?'' This stubborn conflict is turning into fodder for FCC chairman Ajit Pai's supporters.
It should never have come to this. Amazon and Google, your options are to make this right, take your grievances to the FTC, or go to court. But don't take it out on people who just want to enjoy their gadgets. Let people have their YouTube. 2017 has been hard enough to endure already.
EU states are planning underwater pipeline with Israel
Mon, 11 Dec 2017 14:21
SNL Friend
"The Al Franken situation is heartbreaking . I haven’t written on this
because Al is someone I’ve known personally since 1981 and truly admire and
respect . I would even call him a friend though I was closer with his dearly
missed ex comedy partner Tom Davis -
As many have said the Al that we saw at SNL was incredibly respectful of mostly
everyone and in regards to his relationship with women I will always remember
the times that he insisted on women writers be present when auditions were held
for films that parodied models or beach bunnies or whatever to keep sexual tension
out of the room. And as with many grown men who have continued to find college
frat boy humor funny - many in their 60’s still love fart jokes - others gross
sexual situations often acting like cavemen, Al did have a bit of that in him .
Anyway I do find his behavior that has led to the current situation is really
ugly & fucked up - if indeed it is true . There would be no excuse and some
sort of action to be taken .... again if it is accurate .
but here goes , if this had been happening during a different type of
administration like our also dearly missed Barack Obama who’s people had
integrity , good intensions , views that showed that they were real human
beings & one that made us feel safe that we were led by people that had our
well being at heart , I might have thought that maybe Al should resign - maybe
... But in a time where someone as obviously unqualified like Betsy DeVous gets
approved and what is happening with immigration , taxes , our national
landscapes and parks and an administration full of sexual predators and
countless other things , we need people like Al Franken to stay in the senate .
He is fighting the good fight ! And on OUR side - you know which side that is .
Sorry but there must be other ways to deal with this alleged awful personal
behavior - treatment (which would not help Weinstein & Spacey who’s acts
are unspeakable and evil on another level ) would actually help , have the
victims who who were affected by this confront him directly in meetings - maybe
there will be some healing there. OR the hell with it - bring back flogging and
lash the fucker . The philosophy of “let’s take our licks and let a new breed
come forth “ is naive horseshit . If ya’ll think I’m wrong I’ll take this down
but as of this moment , as Stan Laurel says “that’s my story and I’m stuck with
it “! It’s just seeing one of the great people I’ve been lucky enough to know
get unfairly taken down like this without even a hearing is shattering ."
War on Guns
Fact check: Have firearm homicides and suicides dropped since Port Arthur as a result of John Howard's reforms? - Fact Check - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
Wed, 13 Dec 2017 23:14
Updated April 29, 2016 09:47:34
The claimCrowds are expected to gather on April 28, 2016, to mark the 20th anniversary of the Port Arthur massacre.
A service will be held at the historical penal colony site to remember the 35 people killed and others injured by Martin Bryant using a semi-automatic rifle in 1996.
The tragedy prompted extensive reforms to gun regulations by federal, state and territory governments.
In an interview on American television network CBS on March 13, 2016, the prime minister who drove the reforms, John Howard, said: "It is incontestable that gun-related homicides have fallen quite significantly in Australia, incontestable."
Asked to respond to critics who say changes in gun deaths are not a result of his reforms, Mr Howard said there has been a "74 per cent fall in the gun-related suicide rates, isn't that evidence?"
Have gun-related homicides fallen significantly since Mr Howard's reforms, with gun-related suicide rates dropping by 74 per cent? And is that evidence of the effect of the reforms? ABC Fact Check investigates.
The verdictMr Howard's claim is not cut and dried.
Data from the Australian Institute of Criminology shows the rate of homicide victims dying from a gunshot wound has dropped since the reforms came into force, but not consistently in every year.
ABS data indicates the rate of assault by firearm causing death has also declined since the reforms, but not in every year.
Data from the ABS also indicates the rate of suicide by firearm fell by 67 per cent from 2.1 deaths per 100,000 of the population in 1996 to 0.7 deaths in 2014.
However, experts consulted by Fact Check said the impact of Mr Howard's reforms on those declines is debatable.
Some research argues the reforms did not significantly influence firearm homicide rates or already falling rates of firearm suicide.
Other research argues the reforms accelerated the rates of decline, with one study suggesting firearm suicides dropped by 74 per cent from the 1990-95 average following the buyback scheme.
While it is accurate for Mr Howard to assert that gun-related homicides and suicides have dropped since his reforms were implemented, there is more to it.
Studies on the impacts of his reforms have come to varied conclusions and experts contacted by Fact Check said other factors would have influenced the drops, even though the reforms are likely to form part of the story.
The National Firearms AgreementIn response to the Port Arthur massacre in 1996, the Howard government brokered a National Firearms Agreement with the states and territories.
A 2012 report by the Australian Institute of Criminology report summarised the reforms:
The agreement resulted in restricted legal possession of automatic and semi-automatic firearms and further restricted the legal importation of non-military centrefire self-loading firearms to those with a maximum magazine capacity of five rounds. The agreement further committed all states and territories to a firearms registration scheme and licensing of persons in order to legally possess and use firearms. Previously, only handguns needed to be registered; obligations around long-arm registration varied between jurisdictions. In addition was the introduction of laws that were designed to minimise the legal acquisition of firearms by unsuitable persons.
The agreement was implemented by the states and territories in stages in the years after 1996, including a 12-month national amnesty and buyback scheme allowing gun owners to sell newly banned firearms to the federal government.
The federal legislation relating to Commonwealth funding for the reforms came into force on September 4, 1996.
Federal, state and territory governments began a review of the reforms in 2015.
Data sourcesAn Australian Institute of Criminology report on sources of homicide data said "there are three main data collection systems that produce largely independent sets of statistics on homicide" in Australia.
They are: the National Homicide Monitoring Program (NHMP) managed by the institute, and the Causes of Death and Recorded Crime collections managed by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).
The NHMP uses data derived from police offence reports and data is recorded on a financial year basis.
Data in the Causes of Death collection is recorded on a calendar year basis and compiled from information on death certificates, provided to the ABS by state and territory registrars of births, deaths and marriages.
This collection also includes data on suicides by firearm.
The ABS Recorded Crime collection uses data from police offence reports, recorded on a calendar year basis.
Relevant figures from this collection are not publicly available.
Suzanna Fay-Ramirez, a criminologist in the School of Social Science at the University of Queensland, said that would not affect the assessment of Mr Howard's claim, as the relevant data from police reports would be reflected in data from the NHMP.
She added that the Causes of Death collection is "the most comprehensive" source of data on suicides by firearm.
Samantha Bricknell, research manager, violence and exploitation, at the Australian Institute of Criminology, said: "The Causes of Death data and the NHMP data should be sufficient."
Rick Sarre, a professor of law and criminal justice at the University of South Australia, had a similar view.
National Homicide Monitoring Program dataThe most recent NHMP report, published in 2015, said the term "homicide" refers to a person killed unlawfully, resulting in a charge of murder or manslaughter, with the exception of most driver-related fatalities.
The Australian Institute of Criminology provided Fact Check with NHMP data on homicide victims whose cause of death was a gunshot wound for each financial year from 1990-90 to 2011-12.
Fact Check has graphed the data below.
The graph shows the rate was falling until 1992-93, when it increased to 0.56 deaths per 100,000 of the population from 0.43 deaths in 1991-92.
The figure dropped to 0.38 deaths in 1993-94 and rose to 0.50 deaths the following year.
It peaked at 0.61 deaths in 1995-96 - the financial year of the Port Arthur massacre and the year before the reforms began.
The rate has fallen since then, but not consistently in every year.
ABS homicide dataThe explanatory notes for the ABS Causes of Death collection said deaths recorded as "assault" are, in other words, murder or manslaughter.
The ABS provided Fact Check with data derived from this collection on the rates of assault by firearm causing death in each year from 1990 to 2014.
The graph shows the rate was steady at 0.5 deaths per 100,000 of the population in 1991 and 1992, rising to 0.6 deaths in 1992.
The figure dropped to 0.4 deaths in 1993 and remained constant until 1996 - the year the reforms began - when it peaked at 0.6 deaths.
The rate fell to 0.4 deaths in 1997 and 0.3 deaths in 1998, remaining constant until 2000.
It dropped to 0.2 deaths in 2001, remaining constant in 2002, then rising to 0.3 deaths in 2003.
The rate fell to 0.1 deaths in 2004 and has remained fairly steady at 0.1 or 0.2 deaths per 100,000 of the population in every year since.
ABS suicide dataThe ABS provided Fact Check with data derived from the Causes of Death Collection on the rate of suicides by firearm in each year from 1990 to 2014.
Fact Check has graphed the data below.
The graph shows the rate was declining fairly steadily from 1991 until 1996 '-- the year Mr Howard's reforms came into force.
The rate dropped more sharply until 1998, before increasing slightly in 1999, dropping slightly in 2000 and rising by a similar scale in 2001.
The figure fell at a fairly steady rate until 2005 and then increased slightly in 2006.
The rate has been fairly steady since 2006, despite a slight lull in 2011.
The data indicates the rate fell by 67 per cent from 2.1 deaths per 100,000 of the population in 1996 to 0.7 deaths in 2014.
Cause and effectExperts contacted by Fact Check said the impact of Mr Howard's reforms on the decline in firearm homicides and suicides is subject to debate.
Professor Sarre said: "It is incontestable that gun-related homicides and suicides have fallen since 1996, what is contestable is how much you can attribute that to [the reforms]."
Dr Fay-Ramirez said: "What we determine as significant and not significant is probably the part that's more up for debate, rather than the actual declines in and of themselves."
Dr Bricknell said: "There is a debate and the different analyses that have been done have demonstrated that either there was a significant decrease post reforms or there wasn't."
A spokesman for Mr Howard referred Fact Check via email to two studies in support of his claim.
The first was a study by Simon Chapman, an emeritus professor in the School of Public Health at the University of Sydney, Philip Alpers, an associate professor in the same school and university, Kingsley Agho, a senior lecturer in biostatistics in the School of Science and Health at Western Sydney University, and Mike Jones, associate dean (research) in the Faculty of Human Sciences and deputy head of the Psychology Department at Macquarie University.
The study, published in the peer-reviewed journal Injury Prevention in 2006 and republished in the same journal in 2015, examined whether the 1996 gun law reforms were associated with changes in rates of firearm homicides and suicides.
"The rates per 100,000 of total firearm deaths, firearm homicides and firearm suicides all at least doubled their existing rates of decline after the revised gun laws," the study said.
The authors concluded that the 1996 gun law reforms were followed by "accelerated declines in firearms deaths, particularly suicides".
The second was a 2010 study by Christine Neill, an associate professor of economics at Wilfrid Laurier University in Canada, and Andrew Leigh, then a professor of economics at the Australian National University and now federal Labor's Shadow Assistant Treasurer.
The study, published in the peer-reviewed journal The American Law and Economics Review in 2010, tested whether the reduced stock of firearms resulting from the buyback affected firearm homicide and suicide rates.
It said the reduction in firearm suicides following the buyback "represents a 74 per cent decline from the 1990-95 average".
The authors found "the buyback led to a drop in the firearm suicide rates of almost 80 per cent" and "the estimated effect on firearm homicides is of similar magnitude, but is less precise".
Contradictory researchDr Bricknell co-authored a study with Frederic Lemieux, a professor in the Department of Sociology at the George Washington University in the US, and Tim Prenzler, a professor of criminology and justice at the University of the Sunshine Coast, published in 2015 in the peer-reviewed Journal of Criminological Research, Policy and Practice.
The study discussed the debate over the impacts of Mr Howard's reforms on firearm homicides and suicides.
It said one side of the debate, including the studies Mr Howard's spokesman referred to, argues the rates of decrease in firearm homicides and suicides '-- "particularly suicides" '-- were "more pronounced" after the reforms than before.
On the other side, it referred to studies concluding that "there was little evidence that firearm reforms (including the gun buyback) produced any significant effect on firearm homicide or firearm suicide," largely written by Samara McPhedran, a senior research fellow in the violence research and prevention program at Griffith University and chair of the International Coalition for Women in Shooting and Hunting, and Jeanine Baker, research co-ordinator at the International Coalition for Women in Shooting and Hunting.
Dr Bricknell and her colleagues said the research on both sides of the debate had limitations, including "the small number of incidents (particularly homicide), the variable nature of the data, the absence of control groups and the consequent, apparent 'fragility' of some/all of the tests applied".
Some of the authors of the studies under review acknowledged that "at best, associations might be inferred from these data, even if specific effects cannot be agreed upon," they said.
One of the studies reviewed, written by Dr McPhedran and Dr Baker, was published by the peer-reviewed British Journal of Criminology in 2006.
It concluded that "the only category of sudden death that may have been influenced by the introduction of the NFA was firearm suicide", adding that "societal factors could also have influenced observed changes".
"It is probable that other factors affecting suicide, such as increased funding for suicide prevention programmes in various jurisdictions, would have contributed to the social factors that influence suicide by all methods, given that such programs focus on general intervention techniques rather than specific suicide methods," the study said.
"Homicide patterns (firearm and non-firearm) were not influenced by the NFA, the conclusion being that the gun buyback and restrictive legislative changes had no influence on firearm homicide in Australia."
A more recent study by the same authors, published in the peer-reviewed journal Health Policy in 2008, examined whether the rate of decline in national suicide trends differed for males and females.
"Given that declines in non-firearm suicide occurred post-1996, it is unclear whether the accelerated rate of decline in firearm suicide after the introduction of strict legislation can be attributed to legal reform. It is possible that the accelerated rate of decline was simply in keeping with the more general patterns of decline that began to emerge in the late 1990s," the study said.
Dr McPhedran authored a systematic review of five studies '-- including the two referred to Fact Check by Mr Howard's spokesman '-- to examine the impacts of legislative reform on firearm homicide in Australia.
The review, published by the peer-reviewed journal Aggression and Violent Behaviour in 2016, said none of the studies examined "found evidence for a statistically significant impact of Australia's 1996 legislative changes on firearm homicide rates".
The review also highlighted "the general absence of studies which undertake detailed consideration of whether specific elements of legislative change '-- rather than legislative change overall '-- may have had effects that were not apparent from the overall firearm homicide trends".
What the experts sayDr Fay-Ramirez said: "These studies perhaps have different results, not because of data quality or difference, but because of the approach they take to understanding the crime drop".
"The Neill and Leigh paper has focused on the effect of the gun buyback on gun-related deaths and they did indeed find some unexpected effects. However, gun reform is much more than just the buyback scheme. It is also the constant effort of enforcement by state firearms registries over a sustained period of time '-- something very difficult to measure and account for in studies like these," she said.
"Very little academic research has focused on the more intricate and complex nature of gun law compliance and enforcement."
She said increases in social support or government investment in social welfare are common factors that help depress crime rates and could be linked to the drop in firearm homicides and suicides.
"In light of the broader societal factors that may be influencing the crime rate, Australia's gun reforms are likely part of the reason we have seen a sustained decrease," she said.
"Even where there are debates on the effect of Australia's gun reform, generally speaking almost all of them that I've seen accept that there has been at least some minimal benefit of that gun reform."
Professor Sarre said suggesting Mr Howard's reforms "caused" the declines is "a very difficult assertion to make", but "you can make a broad assertion to say we're better off in terms of gun suicides and gun homicides".
"Whether you can say we're 20 per cent better off, 80 per cent better off, is subject to debate... But the bottom line is, if [the reforms] had the effect of reducing the number of guns that are available to Australians, it is strongly correlated with the gun homicide and suicide deaths on the wane."
He said the reforms were "a strongly and highly influential contributing factor", but other factors would have come into play, such as "the way in which we treat guns - we don't revere guns".
Dr Bricknell, who could only speak to the homicide claim, said Mr Howard is "not incorrect" as "we have had a significant decrease in firearm homicides since the reforms".
"Whether that decrease is so significantly different to the drop prior to [the reforms] is debatable and is still yet to be resolved because we've had all these different analyses done that have come up with quite different responses," she said.
If you or anyone you know needs help, call Lifeline on 13 11 14.
SourcesJohn Howard, Sunday Morning, CBS, March 13, 2016Australian Institute of Criminology, Firearm trafficking and serious organised crime gangs, June 2012Australian Institute of Criminology, Australian homicide rates: A comparison of three data sources, July 2003Australian Institute of Criminology, Homicide in Australia: 2010-11 to 2011-12: National Homicide Monitoring Program report, 2015ABS, Causes of Death Australia, Explanatory notes, 2014S Chapman, P Alpers, K Agho and M Jones, Australia's 1996 gun law reforms: Faster falls in firearm deaths, firearm suicides, and a decade without mass shootings, Injury Prevention, November 6, 2006Andrew Leigh and Christine Neill, Do gun buybacks save lives? Evidence from panel data, American Law and Economics Review, August 20, 2010Samantha Bricknell, Frederic Lemieux and Tim Prenzler, Mass shootings in Australia and the United States, 1981-2013, Journal of Criminological Research, Policy and Practice, May 26, 2015Jeanine Baker and Samara McPhedran, Did the Australian firearms legislation of 1996 make a difference? British Journal of Criminology, October 18, 2006Jeanine Baker and Samara McPhedran, Recent Australian suicide trends for males and females at the national level: Has the rate of decline differed? Health Policy, 2008Topics:law-crime-and-justice, crime, suicide, murder-and-manslaughter, howard-john-winston, australia
First posted April 28, 2016 06:50:52
NATO's Little Noticed but Important New Aggressive Stance on Cyber Weapons '' Foreign Policy
Sun, 10 Dec 2017 21:44
Leaders hold a meeting on Afghanistan during the NATO 2014 summit in Newport, South Wales, on Sep. 4, 2014. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)
By Col. Rizwan Ali, USAF (Ret.)
Best Defense office of cyber deterrence
Not many people noticed it, but last month, NATO made a dramatic change in its cyber policy announced by the NATO Secretary General that arguably was the alliance's biggest overall policy shift in decades. Having led the policy discussions in several NATO committees for the past four years on the use of cyber capabilities and cyber weapons, I can tell you this was the most hotly debated and contentious decision during my tenure at NATO.
In short, NATO embraced the use of cyber weaponry in NATO operations. This is a marked departure from NATO's historical stance of using cyber only defensively, mainly to ward off incursions against its own networks. The more aggressive approach was intended as a strong message, primarily to Russia, that NATO intends to use the cyber capabilities of its members to deter attacks in the same way it uses land, sea, and air weaponry.
Russia's provocative actions during the U.S. Presidential elections, its attempts to influence the French and German elections, and its blatantly aggressive, and on-going cyberwar against Ukraine were likely key determining factors which led the NATO defense ministers to adopt a more assertive stance.
On the surface, NATO's cyber policy shifts might seem to be little more than incremental changes to its existing policy. However, the fact the alliance is standing up a cyber operations center to integrate cyber capabilities from alliance members sends a message to the world, especially Russia, that alliance members both possess and have the will to use their cyber capabilities and weaponry during military operations.
This is not the first time NATO has tried to assert itself in cyberspace. In 2008, NATO's first cyber defense policy was adopted and NATO's Cooperative Cyber Defense Center of Excellence in Estonia was established, following the devastating cyberattacks on Estonia by Russia. Unfortunately, this policy was purely about the defense of NATO's own networks. Plus, the establishment of the center in Estonia did little to dissuade Russia's aggressive actions in cyberspace.
Implementing this new cyber policy will be an uphill battle for NATO. In an interesting wrinkle, the cyber effects (a.k.a. cyber weaponry) will be provided by the alliance members and will be fully controlled by the ally which provided the specific capability. This is a striking departure from the way NATO handles the command and control of other capabilities and forces provided by its members. If a member nation provides a squadron of airplanes, those airplanes and its crew come under the full operational control of the assigned NATO military commander. In the case of cyber, the nation providing the cyber capabilities will retain all command and control of its cyber weaponry and cyber forces. None of these will be brought under the traditional operational control of the NATO commander.
This 'black box' approach to military operations is one which military leaders rarely employ, because it is fraught with problems. When executing operations, military commanders want to know the details about the capabilities available to them, to include the limitations. They also want to know the potential conflicts that capability may present with other ongoing operations and the legal implications on the use of that capability. In the path laid forward by the defense ministers, these details may not be available to the NATO commanders. The commanders will request an effect using cyber weaponry during an operation and one of the allies will provide that effect without any further information. This is far from ideal but something NATO's military commanders will have to solve through revamped procedures.
In addition to the opaque nature of NATO's employment of cyber weapons, NATO's commanders will have to overcome two additional challenges. First, they will have to find a way to share more intelligence with each other for the cyber domain. Nations control cyber intelligence more tightly than most other type of intelligence. This is because of the highly clandestine nature of how the intelligence was obtained. Such intelligence is not even shared internally within the nation's government, let alone with allies.
Second, a cyber weapon is fundamentally different than a traditional weapon. The fact that an adversary knows about a traditional weapon, such as an F-22, does not negate its effect and the F-22 can be used many times against the same adversary. However, with cyber weapons, once that weapon is used, the adversary knows about the cyber techniques employed and an adversary can readily build cyber defenses to prevent future attacks using that cyber weapon. Essentially, cyber weapons are one-use weapons. This makes it likely that Allies will be reluctant to share and use their cyber weapons with NATO unless their own national survival is at stake.
Despite these challenges, NATO's adoption of this significantly more aggressive cyber policy, one which allows the use of cyber weapons in operations, is a big step forward to establishing a credible deterrence capability for NATO in cyberspace. Several alliance members have openly declared they possess cyber weapons. The fact that these allies agreed to make their sophisticated cyber weaponry available for use during NATO operations should give potential adversaries considerable pause.
Col. Rizwan Ali,USAF (Ret.) led the team that wrote and implemented NATO's new cyber policy and NATO's military cyber strategy. He is a cybersecurity policy fellow atNew Americaand the author ofCyber: NATO's Newest Domain.
Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com.
Hotly anticipated bitcoin futures surge 21 percent on debut
Mon, 11 Dec 2017 05:11
NEW YORK/SYDNEY (Reuters) - Bitcoin futures jumped more than 20 percent in their eagerly anticipated U.S. debut, which backers hope will encourage wider use and legitimacy for the world's largest cryptocurrency even as critics warn of the risk of a bubble and price collapse.
Virtual currency Bitcoin tokens are seen in this illustration picture, December 8, 2017. Picture taken December 8. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration The launch on Sunday night may have caused an early outage of the Chicago-based CBOE Global Markets' (CBOE.O ) website. The exchange said that due to heavy traffic on the CBOE Global Markets website, the site ''may be temporarily unavailable.''
The one-month bitcoin contract opened trade at 6 pm (6.00 p.m. ET) at $15,460, dipped briefly and then rose to a high of $18,700.
As of 0430 GMT, it was up 16 percent from the open at $17,940, with 2,211 contracts traded.
On the Luxembourg-based Bitstamp BTC=BTSP, bitcoin prices surged 7 percent to $15,720. It is up more than 1,400 percent so far in 2017, and its gains in the past month have been rapid.
Experts had worried that the risks associated with the currency's Wild West-like nature could overshadow the futures debut, but so far the price action has been unlike the wild swings seen in the past few weeks. Bitcoin tumbled 20 percent in 10 hours on Friday.
''Even if there is an institution or institutional-sized trader out there, they are going to want to make sure that the mechanics work first, just for the futures,'' said Ophir Gottlieb, chief executive officer of Los Angeles-based Capital Market Laboratories.
''I think the excitement will come when the futures market is established. That can take a few days,'' Gottlieb added.
The futures are cash-settled contracts based on the auction price of bitcoin in U.S. dollars on the Gemini Exchange, which is owned and operated by virtual currency entrepreneurs and brothers Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss.
Market participants said the launch of the futures contract wouldn't necessarily reduce volatility in the cryptocurrency.
''There are no ways to arbitrage between the market and other exchanges, CBOE cannot settle Bitcoin as far as I know,'' said Leonhard Weese, president of the Bitcoin Association of Hong Kong.
''Regular bitcoin traders don't have access to it, and the trading desks that use the futures market don't have access to bitcoin.''
CRYPTIC CURRENCYWhile bitcoin's price rise mystifies many, its origins have been the subject of much speculation.
It was set up in 2008 by someone or some group calling themselves Satoshi Nakamoto, and was the first digital currency to successfully use cryptography to keep transactions secure and hidden, making traditional financial regulation difficult if not impossible.
Central bankers and critics of the cryptocurrency have been ringing the alarm bells over the surge in the price and other risks such as whether the opaque market can be used for money laundering.
Sparks glow from broken Bitcoin (virtual currency) coins in this illustration picture, December 8, 2017. Picture taken December 8. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration ''It looks remarkably like a bubble forming to me,'' the Reserve Bank of New Zealand's Acting Governor Grant Spencer said on a television program run on Sunday.
''We've seen them in the past. Over the centuries we've seen bubbles and this appears to be a bit of a classic case,'' he said.
Many investors have stood on the sidelines watching its price rocket. However, it is possible to buy bitcoin without having to spend the full price of one coin. Bitcoin's smallest unit is a Satoshi, named after the elusive creator of the cryptocurrency.
Somebody who invested $1,000 in bitcoin at the start of 2013 and had never sold any of it would now be sitting on around $1.2 million.
Heightened excitement ahead of the launch of the futures has given an extra kick to the cryptocurrency's scorching run this year.
The CME Group (CME.O ) is expected to launch its futures contract on Dec. 17.
CONTROVERSIAL MOVEBitcoin fans appear excited about the prospect of an exchange-listed and regulated product and the ability to bet on its price swings without having to sign up for a digital wallet.
Others, however, caution that risks remain for investors and possibly even the clearing organizations underpinning the trades.
''You are going to open up the market to a whole lot of people who aren't currently in bitcoin,'' said Randy Frederick, vice president of trading and derivatives for Charles Schwab in Austin, Texas.
The launch has so far received a mixed reception from big U.S. banks and brokerages, though.
Several online brokerages, including Charles Schwab Corp (SCHW.N ) and TD Ameritrade Holding Corp (AMTD.O ), did not allow trading of the new futures immediately.
The Financial Times reported on Friday that JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N ), Citigroup Inc (C.N ) would not immediately clear bitcoin trades for clients.
Goldman Sachs Group Inc (GS.N ) said on Thursday it was planning to clear such trades for certain clients.
Bitcoin's manic run-up this year has boosted volatility far in excess of other asset classes. The futures trading may help dampen some of the sharp moves, analysts said.
''Hypothetically, volatility over the long run should drop after institutions get involved,'' Gottlieb said. ''But there may not be an immediate impact, say in the first month.''
Additional reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak and John McCrank in NEW YORK; Michelle Chen in HONG KONG; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn, Will Dunham and Kim Coghill
Coinbase halts ether and litecoin trading
Tue, 12 Dec 2017 22:28
Coinbase, the popular cryptocurrency trading platform, blocked users Tuesday from buying red-hot litecoin and ether. Investors poured into the two red-hot digital currencies Tuesday morning, pushing them both to new heights.Litecoin hit a record of $312 on Tuesday, while ether soared over to more than $600 for the first time.The cryptocurrency market is gunning for $500 billion.
Cryptomania has propelled two lesser-known cryptocurrencies to record highs Tuesday, forcing one exchange to halt trading.
Coinbase on Tuesday halted trading of red-hot litecoin and ether, according to cryptocurrency watcher CoinDesk. The publication tweeted a photo showing Coinbase "temporarily disabled" trades of the two digital coins on its platform.
Coinbase's status page showed ethereum and litecoin were experiencing major outages.
Both litecoin and ether hit all-time highs Tuesday morning.
Ether hit $600 a token, while litecoin gained more than 40% to $312.
Across the market for digital coins, new investors are pouring in. The 10 largest cryptocurrencies were all trading in the green Tuesday, according to data provider CoinMarketCap.
At the time of print, the entire market nearly reached $500 billion. Cryptocurrencies volumes approached record highs above $35 billion.
The launch of bitcoin futures by Cboe Global Markets, the Chicago exchange group, further pushed bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies into the spotlight. The new futures market, which went live Sunday, could pave the way for a bitcoin-linked exchange-traded fund and dampen bitcoin's spine-tingling volatility. Of course, the 1,000% plus returns across the market has also piqued the interest of Wall Street and Main Street investors.
Enthusiasts think the new found interest in the crypto-world will intensify in 2018.
"2018 will be the year of mass public awareness for bitcoin and cryptocurrency," Perry Woodin, CEO of Node40, said in preparded remarks sent to Business Insider. "It is going to be the year when every friend and relative will want to know how much you have and how to purchase it."
Still, many market watchers see a massive bubble in the crypto-market. Even Mike Novogratz, a famed hedge fund manager turned crypto-investor, called it "the biggest bubble of our lifetimes."
Litecoin's founder also chimed in on the frenzy. The former director of engineering at crypto exchange Coinbase tweeted a dire warning for potential litecoin holders Monday night:
"Sorry to spoil the party, but I need to reign in the excitement a bit'...," he wrote. "Buying LTC is extremely risky. I expect us to have a multi-year bear market like the one we just had where LTC dropped 90% in value ($48 to $4). So if you can't handle LTC dropping to $20, don't buy!"
A spokeswoman for Coinbase told Business Insider, "The site is seeing high traffic volume at the moment and some users may be experiencing intermittent service outages."
blog.curry.com: BitCoin. Good as Gold?
Wed, 13 Dec 2017 23:06
If you've listened to my podcasts, dating back to late 2007, you know that I'm a true believer in gold. Physical gold that is, not the digital equivalent that is traded through Wall street exchanges. I purchased multiple ounces back then at about $850 an ounce and have kept it in my posession ever since. Genrally speaking, throughout hundreds of years, this metal has kept it's value and in fact has increased in value against so called 'fiat currencies' like the dollar. Any currency that has a central bank is by almost definition prone to inflation by those who control the central banking authorities and can 'print' money, by creating debt or by other means. I don't intend to have a philisophical conversation about these currencies versus gold metal, but I have become quite interested in BitCoin, as it releates to the aforementioned. BitCoin is being heralded by some very smart people as a true virtual currency, that has safeguards against all the pitfalls of money. I've listened to the experts, done my research and it appears to be very real. Pretty crazy for a gold nut like myself to be saying this, but I'm open to giving it a try. So I've set up my machines in the hopes they will create some coin for me, and hereby solicit my readers to 'send me some BTC's' so I can try it out. You see, the downside to this new 'money' is that I can't acquire any with my dollars at the moment, at least not easily, like by initiating a paypal transaction. I hope to eventually acquire enough of it so that I can disprove my doubts and buy some food or pay my rent with BitCoins. Granted I can't walk into a store and slap down an ounce of gold either, but at least there is an active market that I can access to exchange it for paper. The idea of having something I can soend digitally in it's original form is interesting and in many ways appealing. Holding onto my gold in the meantime, just in case :-) My BitCoin address is :1K9zgjrjWq17LD7uSMvziTjtnHQ6Un69av I must add here that analogous to the early gold prospectors, BitCoins can be 'created' or 'mined'. Long story, but the bottom line is that I know a lot of my readers and listeners have access to extremely big iron processing and probably can do a better job at creating BTC's than my MacBook :-) A great use of 'your' resources to support No Agenda! Fuck you Ben Bernanke! (postscript) I'll up the ante here. Upon a total receipt of 100 BTC's, I will do a new episode of the Daily Source Code podcast. Value for value! 5/10/11; 1:15:30 AM by AC Update: I've received about 35 BTC so far, and to complete the loop I've placed a few orders for 'real world' products that will be delivered to my home. Bath soap and coffee. Payments worked as easily, if not easier than paypal or a credit card. Virtual goods and services is probably a better way to bootstrap this. My podcast, The Daily Source Code is a 3 hour show. It's quite intense for me to produce it and takes real time and effort. Receiving BTC for this is ok with me, since there appear to be enough online services I can use BTC to pay for. ideally I'd like to use it to pay for a Windows 2003 Server instance and bandwidth. I use other vendors like push.io for my Big App Show pushes that would also be cool to use the BTC's for. I'd consider it a real confirmation of the system working if I could use the value I put into crerating my virtual product to pay for other virtual products I use. TIme will tell, but so far... promising! 5/10/11; 1:06:26 PM by AC So far the experiment has stalled. I *know* that there is an audience that will pay for me to produce a show. They have funded $500 for an episode previously through kickstarter. Incoming BTCs has stalled out at 35 BTC, so only 33% (!) of the value needed to get my ass into the studio. What's the problem? Assuming the audience does want me to produce a show I can only conclude that there aren't enough BTC's to go around. Not enough value in the chain. Yet. 5/10/11; 1:11:36 PM by AC Update: As I posted this, another 10 BTC came in. 5/10/11; 1:33:34 PM by AC Another possible roadblock: The first and only order I made with BTC's yesterday still shows as being 'processed'. If I can't buy real-world goods reliably, what value does BTC have for me? 5/11/11; 4:52:07 PM by AC OK, time to circle back. As of today, I have received a total of 109.46 BTC in 'value for value' support for me to produce a new episode of the Daily Source Code Podcast. SO clearly there's enough BTC out among the audience to use this currency for a product they want, I in tunr got a confirmation that my coffe and bathsoap payment has been confirmed and products shipped. Conclusion: BitCoin works! Now to figure out what I will spend my remaining 107 BTC's on :-) View the forum thread.
War on Cash
A New Stealth Attack in EU's ''War on Cash''
Mon, 11 Dec 2017 17:35
The EU's Orwellian-dubbed Civil Liberties and Economic Affairs committee has approved tough new rules on cash that travelers might bring into or take out of the bloc. It's also broadened the definition of cash to include precious stones and metals and prepaid credit cards.For the moment the new definition does not include Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, for one simple reason: ''customs authorities lack the resources to monitor them.''
Most importantly, the draft law will enable authorities to impound ''cash'' below the traditional '‚¬10,000 threshold, if criminal activity is suspected. The new rules would repeal the First Cash Control Regulation (CCR) from 2005, which requires individuals to declare sums over '‚¬10,000 when leaving or entering the EU.
The draft law still needs to be approved by the European Parliament. Then the legislation needs to be negotiated with EU governments. If the law is passed, anyone acting suspiciously carrying any amount of cash, whether in notes, precious stones, precious metals or prepaid credit cards, could face having their ''money'' impounded.
''Large sums of cash, be it banknotes or gold bullion, are often used for criminal activities such as money laundering or terrorist financing,'' said Mady Delvaux, the Committee's co-rapporteur. ''With this legislation, we give our authorities the tools they need to improve their fight against those crimes.''
It could be argued that any legislation aimed at disrupting criminal financial networks is, de facto, a welcome move, but that would ignore the fact that many forms of modern-day tax evasion, avoidance and money laundering are conducted without cash through shell corporations located across multiple jurisdictions, including Luxembourg.
But the EU's anti-cash measures are not aimed at the giant corporations and well-heeled individuals and families, including those that, thanks to their armies of professional lawyers and accountants, get to exploit the loopholes built into the system to stash their wealth far from the prying eyes of European tax authorities. No, the measures are aimed at average Joes and ordinary Janes, and the main objective is to further dampen their ability or willingness to use or carry cash.
This has long been a cherished goal of the EU, which began 2017 by announcing its intention to ''explore the relevance of potential upper limits to cash payments,'' with a view to implementing cross-regional measures in 2018. Any attempt by the European Commission to set a mandatory continent-wide limit is likely to be met with fierce resistance '-- at least in countries where cash is still revered, like Germany and Austria. Others are already so far down the path toward a cashless society that they'll barely notice the difference.
Besides fighting crime and tax evasion, there are myriad other reasons why the EU and the ECB, along with banks, fin tech firms, credit card companies, national governments and UN agencies, want to pull the plug on physical currency:
Cash has no middleman. One party pays the other party in mutually accepted currency and not a single intermediary (i.e. bank, fin tech firm or credit card company) gets to wet its beak.Increased technocratic control. In a world where every transaction must be electronic (i.e. traceable) and where biometric authentication systems have become the norm, the power of banks, corporations, tech firms, and governments over people's every-day lives would be virtually unlimited.The death of financial privacy. Fyodor Dostoyevsky wrote in 19th century-Russia that ''money is coined freedom.'' Today, it is one of the last remaining things that gives people a small semblance of privacy, anonymity, and personal freedom in their increasingly controlled and surveyed lives. However, according to the European Commission's own rulings, privacy and anonymity do not constitute ''fundamental'' human rights.Cash sets a limit on central banks' monetary experimentation. During this age of out-of-control financial repression, as long as cash exists, there's no way of preventing depositors from doing the logical thing '' i.e. yanking their money out of the bank and parking it where the erosive effects of NIRP can't reach it. If cash were abolished, just about any fiscal or monetary policy would be enforceable, at least in the short run.At the same time, the EU hopes to pass a law that will effectively render the act of carrying reasonably large sums of cash '-- say, anything above '‚¬1,000 '-- across borders enough to get it confiscated. The writing is on the wall, and it's written in bright, bold letters. By Don Quijones.
War on Cash bogs down, despite best efforts of government, banks, and credit card companies. Read'... Spain's Third Biggest Bank Just Made it Harder to Get Cash
Cross-border cash movements: tightening up anti-terror and crime checks | News | European Parliament
Mon, 11 Dec 2017 17:36
Tougher checks on cash entering or leaving the EU were backed by the Civil Liberties and Economic Affairs committees on Monday.
The new rules repeal the First Cash Control Regulation (CCR) from 2005, which requires individuals to declare sums over '‚¬10,000 when leaving or entering the EU. MEPs want to close loopholes exploited by criminals, such as divergent penalties in different member states, travelling with sums just below the declaration threshold or using means of transferring value that are not covered by current rules.
To prevent the proceeds of crime from re-entering the economy or money being used to finance illegal activities, MEPs agreed to:
widen the definition of ''cash'' to include gold, precious stones and metals, as well as anonymous prepaid electronic cash cards,
enable the authorities to impound cash below the '‚¬10,000 threshold temporarily, if criminal activity is suspected, and
make it mandatory to disclose ''unaccompanied'' cash sent by cargo.
MEPs also asked the EU Commission to draft legislation to bring about a convergence of cash control penalties in the member states and study the possibility of establishing a Union Financial Intelligence Unit by 2019.
The draft law was adopted Monday evening by 55 votes to 3, with 4 abstentions.
Mady Delvaux (S&D, LU), co-rapporteur, said: ''Large sums of cash, be it banknotes or gold bullion, are often used for criminal activities such as money laundering or terrorist financing. With this legislation, we give our authorities the tools they need to improve their fight against those crimes. The central point is their fast access to all the information they need for their investigations. We therefore ask their systems for data exchange to be interconnected and we repeat our call for an EU Financial Intelligence Unit.''
Co-rapporteur Juan Fernando L"pez Aguilar (S&D, ES) said: ''We have tried to strike the right balance between this instrument, which aims to strengthen, on the basis of internal market, the control of the cross-border cash passing through the external borders of the European Union, and protecting legitimate interests. So, making it proportional."
Next steps
The text still needs to be approved by the Parliament as a whole, before MEPs can start negotiating the legislation with EU governments.
Quick Facts
Currently, approximately 100,000 cash control declarations are made per year, which amounts to '‚¬60 to '‚¬70 billion. However, during the same period, about 11,000 infringements are detected, amounting to '‚¬300 million.
Member states report that ISIS terrorists frequently transport cash amounts below the '‚¬10.000 threshold (around '‚¬7.000) to avoid detection.
Despite the high risk posed by virtual currencies, such as Bitcoin, these are not included in the definition of ''cash''. This is because customs authorities lack the resources to monitor them.
Dennis Rodman asks Trump for formal role as North Korea envoy | World news | The Guardian
Thu, 14 Dec 2017 12:32
Dennis Rodman, centre, in Pyongyang, North Korea, during his last visit, in June. Photograph: Kim Kwang Hyon/AP
Dennis Rodman, the American basketball star turned freelance diplomat , has urged Donald Trump to sign him up as a peace envoy to North Korea after his latest foray into Kim Jong-un's hermit kingdom was scuppered by a travel ban preventing US citizens from visiting.
During an interview in Beijing, from where Rodman had hoped to fly to Pyongyang for his sixth trip there, the former NBA star said US officials had discouraged him from doing so amid continuing tensions between the countries. ''Basically they said it's not a good time right now,'' he said.
A state department ban on US passport holders visiting North Korea came into force on 1 September after the death of Otto Warmbier, an American student who was detained in Pyongyang for more than a year. On 29 November, North Korea celebrated its latest intercontinental ballistic missile test, claiming it could now strike anywhere on the US mainland.
However, Rodman, who first visited North Korea in 2013 and calls Kim his friend, claimed that now was the perfect time '' and he was the perfect man '' to press for peace.
''If I can go back over there '... you'll see me talking to him, and sitting down and having dinner, a glass of wine, laughing and doing my thing. I guess things will settle down a bit and everybody can rest at ease.''
Rodman, 56, added: ''I think a lot of people around the world '... want me to go just to see if I can do something.''
The 6ft 7in former sportsman, who calls the North Korean dictator ''the Marshal'', said it was far-fetched to imagine Kim and Trump one day sitting down for a beer, but ''a 30-second conversation'' was feasible.
Rodman said he had been seeking Trump's ear on North Korea for months. ''I've been trying to tell Donald since day one: 'Come talk to me, man '... I'll tell you what the Marshal wants more than anything '... It's not even that much.'''
However, when the Guardian inquired as to what the Marshal wanted, Rodman was tight-lipped: ''I ain't telling you '... I will tell him [Trump] when I see him.''
Despite claiming that Kim is a ''friend for life'', there is little evidence Rodman has the North Korean leader's ear when it comes to affairs of state. Kim appears to view the retired athlete as a benign outsider, someone to whom he can present a gentler image of himself as a lover of basketball and horses, safe in the knowledge that this is the image that will circulate around the world as soon as Rodman returns home.
On Monday, Rodman painted Kim as a Frank Sinatra fan and said Kim had asked him to write a book about Kim's life. Rodman said he was considering calling it The Middleman (''That's me'').
The pair appear to have formed an unlikely bond during skiing trips and karaoke sessions, but on some of Rodman's five previous visits the pair have not met, including on his most recent, in June this year.
Rodman admits that he has shied away from sensitive political subjects, to the anger of rights groups that accuse him of lending credibility to one of the world's cruellest dictatorships. ''I don't even try to think about [the bad things],'' he said.
Trump has not commented on Rodman's North Korean travels but in 2013 hailed his visit that year as ''smart''. ''The world is blowing up around us. Maybe Dennis is a lot better than what we have,'' he said.
White House Ready to Accept Assad's Rule in Syria - Reports - Sputnik International
Tue, 12 Dec 2017 19:18
Middle East10:32 12.12.2017(updated 12:42 12.12.2017) Get short URL
Recent Daesh's defeat in Syria, as well as the government forces gaining control over the majority of territories previously seized by opposition or militants, has reportedly prompted the US change in attitude toward Assad.
MOSCOW (Sputnik) '' Donald Trump's administration is prepared to accept the continuation of Syrian President Bashar Assad's rule until the country's next presidential election, set for 2021, The New Yorker newspaper reported, citing unnamed US and EU officials, explaining that depending on the results of the next US presidential election in 2020, he might still be in power, when the incumbent US president leaves office.
This stance contradicts Washington's previous statements, which have supported the Syrian opposition, urging Assad to step down as part of the crisis settlement. However, due to the latest developments in the region, the defeat of the Daesh terror group (banned in Russia) in Arab Republic, has again sparked intense discussions on the country's future, as well as the political settlement.
After over six years of the conflict, Damascus has regained control over the majority of territories previously seized by the rebels or militants and the opposition, quite the opposite, has reportedly itself themselves in a weaker position, as it has split into various factions with no new leadership emerging since 2011.
According to the media outlet, in the peace process, the United States had been largely sidelined by Russia, Iran, and Turkey, which have also initiated the Syrian settlement negotiations held in Astana, thus driving Washington to change its course.
Taking into consideration political and military realities, US officials have reportedly decided that transition of political power in Syria will depend on elections in the country, held under the auspices of the UN. Nevertheless, in Syria, devastated by the civil war, holding such a vote would be a challenge, according to diplomats, cited by the outlet, which added that new and credible opposition would need time to emerge.
Syrian Civil War: Geneva and Astana Talks
While the eighth round of the talks in Geneva resumed on Monday, the Syrian government delegation returned to the negotiations' table after refusing to participate in last week's talks due to the opposition's call for Assad to leave.
READ MORE: Syrian Opposition Favor Farouk Sharaa as Future Transitional Government Head
The principal stumbling block for all the Syrian sides to settle the conflict is the formation of a transitional governing body in Syria, because the opposing powers have polar opposite views on the potential role of current President Bashar Assad in it. The opposition insists Assad "must go" at the very beginning of the transitional period, while the government cannot accept this and calls it a precondition for direct talks.
The civil war has been raging in Syria since 2011, with government forces fighting numerous opposition factions and terrorist groups. The international community has taken a number of steps aimed at settling the crisis, including through intra-Syrian talks in Geneva and reconciliation negotiations in Astana.
US Surgeon, Who Exposed Clinton Foundation Haiti Corruption, Found Dead
Wed, 13 Dec 2017 21:13
Dr. Dean Lorich, an orthopedic surgeon who volunteered in Haiti and exposed Clinton Foundation corruption and malpractice on the island, has been found dead in New York. He was 54.
Dr. Lorich was found by his 11-year-old daughter on the bathroom floor of his tony Upper East Side apartment with a knife in his chest at around 1pm on Monday.
The knife missed the surgeon's heart, leaving him to bleed out and be found by his daughter. Despite the fact police were called to the property regarding an ''assault'', they instantly registered the death as ''suicide'' and closed the case.
One of the United States' leading surgeons, Dr. Lorich was part of the relief effort sent by the U.S. to assist the relief effort led by the Clinton Foundation in Haiti after the devastating 2010 earthquake. However Dr. Lorich was disgusted by the ''shameful'' Clinton Foundation operation, and voiced his concerns to Hillary Clinton directly.
Unsatisfied with her response, he went public, writing an article published by CNN, accusing the Clinton Foundation of widespread corruption and malpractice in Haiti that cost the lives of thousands of children.
CNN article co-authored by Dr. Lorich exposing the extent of Clinton Foundation malpractice and corruption in Haiti.Billions of dollars were raised by the Clinton Foundation to help the Haitians, but the vast bulk of this money was funneled to Clinton friends and associates, according to Dr. Lorich, who described in harrowing detail what this meant for the children of Haiti.
Dr. Lorich argued that, in essence, Clinton greed left Haitian children to die painful deaths:
''We expected many amputations. But we thought we could save limbs that were salvageable, particularly those of children. We recognized that in an underdeveloped country, a limb amputation may be a death sentence. It does not have to be so.''
Considering billions of dollars had been donated to the Clinton Foundation with the express purpose of helping the Haitians, Dr Lorich and his team expected to have full support when their plane touched down.
Instead, Dr. Lorich described the situation on the ground as ''shameful'' and he witnessed Clinton Foundation corruption in action. The Haitians were receiving no help whatsoever.
According to Dr. Lorich, a paltry 0.6% of donations granted by international donors to the Clinton Foundation with the express purpose of directly assisting Haitians actually ended up helping citizens of Haiti. 9.6% ended up with the Haitian government. The remaining 89.8% '' or $5.4 billion '' was funneled to non-Haitian organizations.
Dr. Lorich's WikiLeaks emails
Unable to perform his duties '' and disgusted by the rampant corruption '' Dr. Lorich sent an email to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's Chief of Staff Cheryl D. Mills to report what he had seen. The email was then forwarded to Hillary Clinton which meant it eventually found its way into WikiLeaks' possession and can be read here.
Dr. Dean Lorich on the ground in Haiti where he was disgusted to witness Clinton Foundation corruption first hand.Unsatisfied with the lack of response from Hillary Clinton, Dr. Lorich went public, co-authored the CNN article that exposed the Clinton Foundation's corruption and malpractice in Haiti:
''We found scores of patients with pus dripping out of open extremity fractures and crush injuries,'' reported Dr. Lorich.
''Some wounds were already ridden with maggots.''
''About a third of these victims were children.''
''The entire hospital smelled of infected, rotting limbs and death.''
''Later on, we would judge our surgical progress by the diminishment of the stench.''
''As we got up and running and organized the patients for surgery, we told our contacts in the United States [the Clintons] what we needed.''
Unfortunately the Clinton Foundation did not provide that help, despite pocketing billions of dollars from donors with the express purpose of providing medical support to desperate Haitians.
''We left feeling as if we abandoned these patients, the country, and its people, and we feel terrible,'' Dr. Lorich wrote, adding: ''Our flight of critical medical equipment and personnel had been canceled.''
The father of three girls, Dr. Lorich was the associate director of the Orthopedic Trauma Service at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City, as well as the Chief of the Orthopedic Trauma Service at New York Presbyterian Hospital.
Baxter DmitryBaxter Dmitry is a writer at Your News Wire. He covers politics, business and entertainment. Speaking truth to power since he learned to talk, Baxter has travelled in over 80 countries and won arguments in every single one. Live without fear.Email: baxter@yournewswire.com
Follow: @baxter_dmitry
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VIDEO - PotCoin: Dennis Rodman's North Korea trip is backed by digital currency for weed - Jun. 13, 2017
Thu, 14 Dec 2017 12:37
The former NBA star teamed up with online betting firm Paddy Power for a series of trips to the isolated nation in 2013. This time around, he's gone in with the backing of PotCoin, a digital currency for the cannabis industry.
"Headed back to North Korea. Thank you PotCoin.com for sponsoring my mission," Rodman tweeted Tuesday before taking a flight from Beijing to Pyongyang, the North Korean capital.
It's not clear exactly what Rodman is hoping to achieve with his latest visit to one of the world's most repressive regimes. For PotCoin, the goal appears to be publicity.
It posted a statement on its website touting its association with the "historic trip," saying Rodman is in "the very rare position to be able to claim long-time friendships" with both North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and President Trump. (Rodman was a contestant on "Celebrity Apprentice.")
But PotCoin didn't say what the trip has to to do with a bitcoin-like digital currency aimed at transactions between legal marijuana users and merchants.
The company's statement quoted Rodman as saying that "the folks at PotCoin ... realized the importance of this trip and made it all possible for me." The flamboyant Hall of Famer wore a t-shirt emblazoned with the PotCoin logo during his flight to Pyongyang.
In a response to emailed questions, PotCoin spokesperson Shawn Perez said its primary reason for financing the trip is "because we believe in Dennis Rodman's mission to bring peace to the world."
Dennis Rodman at Beijing airport on Tuesday before departing for Norh Korea.The digital currency was launched in early 2014 in an effort to provide the legal cannabis industry, which was being shunned by banks, with a secure way to make and receive payments.
One of its founders told the HuffPost at the time that it aimed to gain acceptance "from growers and dispensaries in Colorado or Vancouver, to cafes in Amsterdam."
The Rodman link appears to have already sent PotCoin soaring: the currency's value has jumped more than 60% since Monday to around 17 U.S. cents, according to industry website CoinMarketCap.com.
Related: Dennis Rodman hopes to do 'something pretty positive' in North Korea
The controversy surrounding Rodman's past trips to North Korea eventually became too hot to handle for Paddy Power, his previous sponsor.
The Irish betting website ended its relationship with him in December 2013 as criticism mounted, saying it was responding to "the worldwide scrutiny and condemnation of the North Korean regime in recent weeks." That included the news that the regime, which has been widely criticized for its human rights abuses, had executed Kim's own uncle.
Related: U.S. lawmakers want to ban American tourists from North Korea
"We reviewed the project and, with the benefit of hindsight, recognized that we got this one wrong," Paddy Power said at the time.
Rodman's next visit after that, in January 2014, included the surreal sight of him singing "Happy Birthday" to Kim at a basketball game and a bizarre interview on CNN.
He checked into rehab soon after his return.
CNNMoney (Hong Kong) First published June 13, 2017: 5:43 AM ET
VIDEO - Shortage of overdose drug Narcan hits Nashville - WSMV News 4
Thu, 14 Dec 2017 12:14
NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - Chad Judkins, a father of two, died in Cheatham County after overdosing on heroin laced with fentanyl.
Since News 4 reported Judkins' death two weeks ago, at least seven more people have overdosed in Cheatham County alone.
"It breaks my heart," said Dewayne Holman, the executive director of the Nashville Prevention Partnership.
Holman received a grant to supply the lifesaving drug Narcan to agencies who need it in Davidson County, but that was months ago. There's now a supply and demand issue.
"Our whole nation is experiencing this epidemic at the same time, and so getting our hands on it has been difficult," Holman said.
After three months, Holman finally received 808 doses of Narcan which he's distributed to places like Belmont, Lipscomb, TSU, Fisk, Goodlettsville and Berry Hill.
Holman isn't done. He said shelters, halfway houses and veterans organizations all need Narcan on hand.
"We've had some inquiries from the public library here because they see that at some of the branches," Holman said.
The drug is now available as a prescription, meaning people can buy it at drug stores.
Police in Coopertown recently had an unusual case where they arrested a drug addict who carried her own Narcan.
"It's not uncommon to see drug addicts or people who are in close proximity to drug addicts, maybe their family, maybe their peers, because they know the risk," Holman said.
Holman is hoping to get 500 to 800 more doses distributed throughout Nashville over the next few weeks.
He said time is of the essence, and if you think this opioid crisis doesn't affect you, Holman would argue you're wrong.
"We as taxpayers, we definitely do bear the burden of this. Someone has to pay for the Narcan, the treatment, and things like that. So right now the taxpayers are on the hook for this while the corporations have made a lot of money, billions of dollars," Holman said.
Despite the shortage, Holman wants any group or agency interested in obtaining Narcan to reach out. Click here for more information on how to contact Nashville Prevention Partnership.
Copyright 2017 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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VIDEO - Bill O'Reilly: Woman offered $200K to accuse Trump of sexual misconduct - on tape - YouTube
Thu, 14 Dec 2017 11:36
VIDEO - 'F TRUMP': Texts between ex-Mueller team members emerge, calling Trump 'loathsome human,' 'an idiot' | Fox News
Thu, 14 Dec 2017 11:27
Text messages between FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page in 2016 that were obtained by Fox News on Tuesday refer to then-candidate Donald Trump as a "loathsome human" and "an idiot."
More than 10,000 texts between Strzok and Page were being reviewed by the Justice Department after Strzok was removed from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe after it was revealed that some of them contained anti-Trump content.
The messages were sent during the 2016 campaign and contain discussions about various candidates. On March 2, Strzok texted Page that someone "asked me who I'd vote for, guessed [Ohio Gov. John] Kasich."
"Seriously?! Would you not [vote] D[emocrat]?" Page responded.
"I don't know," Strzok answered. "I suppose Hillary [Clinton]."
"I would [vote] D," Page affirmed.
Two days later, Page texted Strzok, "God, Trump is a loathsome human."
"Yet he many[sic] win," Strzok responded. "Good for Hillary."
Later the same day, Strzok texted Page, "Omg [Trump's] an idiot."
"He's awful," Page answered.
"America will get what the voting public deserves," said Strzok, to which Page responded. "That's what I'm afraid of."
Later that same day, Strzok texted Page, "Ok I may vote for Trump."
"What?" answered Page. "Poor Kasich. He's the only sensible man up there."
"He was pretty much calling for death for [NSA leaker] Edward Snowden," Strzok said. "I'm a single-issue voter. ;) Espionage Machine Party."
Strzok later told Page, "Exacty [sic] re Kasich. And he has ZERO appeal."
Twelve days later, after Trump took a commanding lead in the Republican delegate race with victories in key "Super Tuesday" primaries, Page texted Strzok, "I can not believe Donald Trump is likely to be an actual, serious candidate for president."
Four months later, Strzok and Page exchanged messages mocking Trump and his family at the Republican National Convention.
"Oooh, TURN IT ON, TURN IT ON!!! THE DO*CHEBAGS ARE ABOUT TO COME OUT," Strzok texted Page on July 19. "You can tell by the excitable clapping."
Later, Strzok reached out to Page again, saying, "Omg. You listening to npr? Apparently Melania's speech had passages lifted from Michelle Obama's'...Unbelievable."
"NO WAY!" Page answered, adding "God, it's just a two-bit organization. I do so hope his disorganization comes to bite him hard in November."
On Aug. 6, Page texted Strzok a New York Times article about Muslim lawyer Khzir Khan, who became embroiled in a war of words with Trump after Khan spoke at the Democratic National Convention.
"Jesus. You should read this. And Trump should go f himself," Page wrote in a message attached to the article.
"God that's a great article," Strzok answered. "Thanks for sharing. And F TRUMP."
Strzok, who was an FBI counterintelligence agent, was reassigned to the FBI's human resources division after the discovery of the exchanges with Page, with whom he was having an affair. Page was briefly on Mueller's team, but has since returned to the FBI.
House Intelligence Committee investigators have long regarded Strzok as a key figure in the chain of events that began when the bureau, in 2016, received the infamous anti-Trump "dossier" and launched a counterintelligence investigation into Russian meddling in the election that ultimately came to encompass FISA surveillance of a Trump campaign associate.
Strzok briefed the committee on Dec. 5, 2016, sources said. But within months of that session House Intelligence Committee investigators were contacted by an informant suggesting that there was ''documentary evidence'' that Strzok was purportedly obstructing the House probe into the dossier.
Strzok also oversaw the bureau's interviews with ousted National Security Adviser Michael Flynn '' who pleaded guilty to lying to FBI investigators in the Russia probe.
He also was present during the FBI's July 2016 interview with Hillary Clinton at the close of the email investigation, shortly before then-FBI director James Comey called her actions "extremely careless" without recommending criminal charges.
Fox News' Jake Gibson contributed to this report.
VIDEO - Kentucky State Rep. Dan Johnson dies of 'probable suicide' in Mt - WDRB 41 Louisville News
Thu, 14 Dec 2017 10:41
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Kentucky State Rep. Dan Johnson, who was under investigation for alleged sexual molestation, died of a "probable suicide," the Bullitt County coroner said.
Bullitt County Sheriff Donnie Tinnell said Johnson drove onto the bridge over the Salt River on Greenwell Ford Road in Mt. Washington, parked on the north side of it and shot himself in front of his car. His body was found on the bank of the river, just past the bridge.
Just before 5 p.m. Wednesday, Johnson posted the following message on his Facebook page:
The accusations from NPR are false GOD and only GOD knows the truth, nothing is the way they make it out to be. AMERICA will not survive this type of judge and jury fake news . Conservatives take a stand. I LOVE GOD and I LOVE MY WIFE, who is the best WIFE in the world,My Love Forever ! My Mom and Dad my FAMILY and all five of my kids and Nine grandchildren two in tummies and many more to come each of you or a total gift from GOD stay strong, REBECCA needs YOU . 9-11-2001 NYC/WTC, PTSD 24/7 16 years is a sickness that will take my life, I cannot handle it any longer. IT Has Won This Life . BUT HEAVEN IS MY HOME. ''PLEASE LISTEN CLOSELY, Only Three things I ask of you to do,if you love me is (1)blame no person,Satan is the accuser, so blame the Devil himself. (2) Forgive and Love everyone especially yourself .(3)most importantly LOVE GOD. P.S. I LOVE MY FRIENDS YOU ARE FAMILY ! GOD LOVES ALL PEOPLE NO MATTER WHAT !
The coroner said police were alerted after someone saw that Facebook post by Johnson. Officers then pinged Johnson's phone and found his body.
On Tuesday, Johnson held a press conference at his church on Bardstown Road, where he denied the molestation allegations. According to court documents obtained by the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting, the alleged molestation took place on New Year's Eve in 2012. The alleged victim, who was 17 at the time, told authorities that she was staying in a living area of the Heart of Fire City Church where Johnson was pastor, when Johnson, who had been drinking a lot, approached her, kissed her and fondled her under her clothes.
Michael Skoler, the president of Louisville Public Media, which owns the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting, released a statement after Johnson's death:
"All of us at Louisville Public Media are deeply sad to hear that State Representative Dan Johnson has died, apparently of suicide. We grieve for his family, friends, church community and constituents.
Our Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting released a report on Johnson this week. Our aim, as always, is to provide the public with fact-based, unbiased reporting and hold public officials accountable for their actions.
As part of our process, we reached out to Representative Johnson numerous times over the course of a seven-month investigation. He declined requests to talk about our findings."
Johnson was never criminally charged.
Gov. Matt Bevin tweeted a statement Wednesday night, saying his "heart breaks for (Johnson's) family."
Jeff Hoover, the former Kentucky Speaker of the House who resigned after sexual assault allegations, also tweeted a statement Wednesday night:
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Copyright 2017 WDRB Media. All rights reserved.
VIDEO - Study after Study Confirms Global Cooling - Do Not Deny this Science! - YouTube
Thu, 14 Dec 2017 09:43
VIDEO - Trey Gowdy "WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON?" Gowdy GRILLS Rod Rosenstein, Clinton Email, Russia Probe - YouTube
Thu, 14 Dec 2017 09:39
VIDEO: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Calls for Federal Decriminalization of Marijuana | Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard
Thu, 14 Dec 2017 09:32
Washington, DC'--Continuing her commitment to common sense criminal justice reform, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) spoke on the House floor today urging Congress to pass bipartisan legislation to federally decriminalize marijuana. If passed, the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act (H.R.1227) would take marijuana off the federal controlled substances list'--joining other industries such as alcohol and tobacco. Gabbard introduced the legislation with Rep. Tom Garrett (VA-05), an Army veteran and former prosecutor.
Full video of Rep. Tulsi Gabbard's speech on the House floor is available here
Fulltranscriptof Rep. Tulsi Gabbard's speech is available here
''Our outdated policies on marijuana are having devastating ripple effects on individuals and communities across the country. They have turned everyday Americans into criminals, torn apart families, and wasted huge amounts of taxpayer dollars to arrest, prosecute, and incarcerate people for non-violent marijuana charges,'' said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard. ''Differences in state and federal law have also created confusion and uncertainty for our local businesses, who face contradictory regulations that affect their bottom line and ability to operate. I urge our colleagues to support our bipartisan legislation which would decriminalize marijuana, bringing about long overdue and common sense reform."
''There is growing consensus acknowledging that the effects of marijuana are less harmful than its criminal prohibition, which has increased incarceration rates, divided families, and burdened state governments with the high cost of enforcement, prison and probation. It's clear that there are more vital needs that we as a society need to allocate our precious resources towards, such as education, mental health, and homelessness. Decriminalization is a step forward in making needed criminal justice reforms, which should also include more diversion to substance abuse treatment,'' said Karen Umemoto, Department of Urban and Regional Planning at the University of HawaiÊ>>i at Mānoa and juvenile justice researcher.
''As long as marijuana is federally illegal, FDIC regulations make it impossible for banks to provide any services to the eight HawaiÊ>>i Medical Marijuana Dispensary licensees. Federal decriminalization will enable professional dispensaries to provide much needed patient access and cost savings,'' said Richard Ha, CEO of Lau Ola, a medical marijuana dispensary on HawaiÊ>>i Island.
''Descheduling cannabis will benefit HawaiÊ>>i patients by allowing for more rapid research to identify the best medical marijuana strains and dosages for individual medical conditions. Also, eliminating the barriers to banking will make it easier and safer for HawaiÊ>>i patients to purchase the medicine they need and eliminate unnecessary expense and complexity for dispensaries,'' saidBrian Goldstein, Founder and CEO of Mānoa Botanicals, a licensed medical marijuana dispensary on OÊ>>ahu.
Background: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard supports the full legalization of marijuana on the federal level as part of her overall effort toward criminal justice reform. Last month, she visited correctional facilities throughout the state, and met with inmates, criminal justice advocates and experts, health professionals, educators and others to discuss reducing recidivism and her continued efforts to pass federal criminal justice reform legislation like the SAFE Justice Act and the Sentencing Reform Act.
The congresswoman has also supported legislation like the Industrial Hemp Farming Act to support the cultivation of industrial hemp in HawaiÊ>>i and nationwide.
VIDEO - Omarosa Out of the White House - American Urban Radio Networks
Thu, 14 Dec 2017 00:35
White House Director of communications for the Office of Public Liaison Omarosa Manigault, right, walks past President Donald Trump during a meeting on healthcare in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, Monday, March 13, 2017. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
April Ryan has the exclusive on the exit of Omarosa Manigault Newman from the White House.
VIDEO - (2) "BYE, GIRL!" Angela Rye gloats over Omarosa's humiliating dismissal - YouTube
Wed, 13 Dec 2017 23:03
VIDEO - David Petraeus Would Still Work for Trump, Under 'Certain Conditions' - POLITICO Magazine
Wed, 13 Dec 2017 22:45
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NEW YORK'--David Petraeus had a rule when he was in command in Afghanistan and Iraq: ''Be first with the truth.''
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Recalling that was Petraeus' cautious way of answering a question about whether President Donald Trump is right to say that America is winning the war against the Islamic State. Later, the retired four-star general and former CIA director told me in an interview for POLITICO's Off Message podcast, ''There are other presidents who have also made some declarations that they undoubtedly wished that they hadn't made.''
But that's about as critical as Petraeus is willing to be of Trump, a president who could hardly be more different than the warrior-intellectual whose pronouncements on the progress of America's wars were once treated like thunder from Mt. Olympus. Today, he doesn't quite hold the same grip on the public esteem, but he was strikingly bullish on a president who's been compared to a ''wrecking ball'' liable to start World War III'--and that's just the criticism from Republicans.
Like a soldier walking through a minefield, Petraeus stepped gingerly through his answers. Though he repeated that he's ruled out ever running for office, Petraeus confirmed he has spoken with the Trump administration about being secretary of state and national security adviser and says he'd still be interested about going in, ''but it would have to be a specific set of circumstances or be, frankly, certain conditions.'' He wouldn't say what those were, but noted they were part of the conversation he had with Trump a year ago when Rex Tillerson was offered Foggy Bottom instead.
Which is not to say that Petraeus has nothing better to do: Five years after resigning from Langley following the revelation that he'd had an affair with his biographer, had shared classified material with her and then misled the FBI about what he'd done, Petraeus is living a flush life, and a pretty public one.
Sitting in a conference room at the investment firm KKR, overlooking Central Park, he was wearing a 101st Airborne Screaming Eagles tie clip and Great Seal of the United States cuff links, talking about how he'd been in 22 countries just this year, in between gigs like his one-week residency at the University of Southern California and a weekend of seminars at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library earlier in the month. Petraeus serves on the board of a dozen veterans groups, conducting interviews of his own at the 92nd Street Y with the likes of Ron Chernow and J.D. Vance.
Ask him about Michael Flynn, and Petraeus will gush about how talented and critical he was in intelligence operations, and how tragic his downfall since has been. Ask him about his own history of not being fully forthright with the FBI, and he bristles. There's no comparison between the two situations, Petraeus insists: ''I'm not going to compare or contrast at all, so just move on.''
Petraeus still talks to top members of Trump's national security team. Defense Secretary James Mattis was a fellow division commander in Iraq and collaborator on the Counterinsurgency Field Manual. National security adviser H.R. McMaster was his mentee and remains a friend. He's watching from a perch that's informed but at a distance, more open to Trump than many and still saying nothing that might foreclose a job offer'--though he notes that saying during the campaign that Hillary Clinton would have been a ''tremendous president'' didn't keep him from having an interview in Trump Tower.
A famously prolific and fast emailer, Petraeus is not on Twitter, but people send him the president's tweets'--which he argues aren't really the most reliable guide to the president's foreign policy. ''What you should follow more is the troops, the money and the substance of policies, which we can overlook if we get too mesmerized by reading tweets,'' he says.
What he sees, in addition to moves he applauds, like Trump's transfer of more authority to generals in the field, is that for all the president's inflammatory rhetoric, his foreign policy has been ''more continuity than you might have expected.''
Petraeus does worry about Trump's ''occasional ambivalence about what does 'America First' mean relative to the traditional role of the United States in the post-World War II era and, particularly, in the post-Cold War era,'' and there has not been the same kind of very aggressive promotion of the virtues of democracy, free-market economics.
''American foreign policy does swing between so-called realism and idealism. But recent presidents certainly have been very active and vocal in, again, promoting those aspects, believing that, again, the more democracy in the world, the better for the United States, the more these values and freedoms and so forth are embraced, and the better for our country as well,'' he said, acknowledging that attacks on journalists aren't in keeping with the democratic spirit.
''It cannot be dismissed,'' he said.
Keeping faith with his own rule about pushing out information on the battlefield, Petraeus said, wasn't easy. Insurgents would rush out information'--claims of soldiers killed or atrocities they said troops had committed or victories achieved'-- and people all over the world would start running with it. Sometimes there'd be doctored videos, or partial information. News alerts would go out. Headlines would appear.
There's what Petraeus sees as the appropriate approach'--move quickly, because command of information is important, but ''you have to be very measured and very careful and stay sort of brutally honest with yourself as well as with the American public,'' he said'--and the larger, ultimately self-defeating risk of tilting toward propaganda and twisted information: ''You can't cede that ground to the extremists or the insurgents.''
''You are in a competitive endeavor, but you cannot put lipstick on pigs. If it's a disaster, if it's a tragic event, you've just got to go out and acknowledge it and not try to, again, cover it in any kind of cosmetic thing,'' he said.
That was Petraeus' approach to his own downfall, a humiliating event for a proud and accomplished man. In those first days after resigning, he did his own personal after-action report. If he'd written a book about that experience, he says in a line he likes to use, he'd have titled it Relentless: Leadership Lessons Learned '... Some the Hard Way.
Lessons are only really learned, he says, when they change behavior going forward.
How does that apply to the relationship with Russia?
''Collectively, the United States has learned that Vladimir Putin, again, wants to undermine the most basic freedoms and liberties and the entire system that many of us have fought to protect and preserve as the democratic system,'' Petraeus said.
In the White House, in Congress?
''Congress certainly has,'' he said, pointing to the sanctions bill that was passed over Trump's objections.
Has the White House. The president?
''I suspect the White House has,'' was all he would say. ''Again, I don't know.''
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VIDEO - Will Trump's lows ever hit rock bottom?
Wed, 13 Dec 2017 11:39
CLOSESen. Kirsten Gillibrand says President Donald Trump's latest tweet about her was a 'sexist smear' aimed at silencing her voice. The New York Democrat says she won't be silenced on the issue of sexual harassment. (Dec. 12) AP
President Trump viewed through a lens in Pensacola, Fla., on Dec. 8, 2017. (Photo: Gregg Pachkowski, Pensacola (Fla.) News Journal)
With his latest tweet, clearly implying that a United States senator would trade sexual favors for campaign cash, President Trump has shown he is not fit for office. Rock bottom is no impediment for a president who can always find room for a new low.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Tuesday dismissed the president's smear as a misunderstanding because he used similar language about men. Of course, words used about men and women are different. When candidate Trump said a journalist was bleeding from her "wherever," he didn't mean her nose.
And as is the case with all of Trump's digital provocations, the president's words were deliberate. He pours the gasoline of sexist language and lights the match gleefully knowing how it will burst into flame in a country reeling from the #MeToo moment.
RNC:Democrats' response is laughable
A president who would all but call Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand a whore is not fit to clean the toilets in the Barack Obama Presidential Library or to shine the shoes of George W. Bush.
This isn't about the policy differences we have with all presidents or our disappointment in some of their decisions. Obama and Bush both failed in many ways. They broke promises and told untruths, but the basic decency of each man was never in doubt.
Donald Trump, the man, on the other hand, is uniquely awful. His sickening behavior is corrosive to the enterprise of a shared governance based on common values and the consent of the governed.
It should surprise no one how low he went with Gillibrand. When accused during the campaign of sexually harassing or molesting women in the past, Trump's response was to belittle the looks of his accusers. Last October, Trump suggested that he never would have groped Jessica Leeds on an airplane decades ago: ''Believe me, she would not be my first choice, that I can tell you.'' Trump mocked another accuser, former People reporter Natasha Stoynoff, ''Check out her Facebook, you'll understand.'' Other celebrities and politicians have denied accusations, but none has stooped as low as suggesting that their accusers weren't attractive enough to be honored with their gropes.
If recent history is any guide, the unique awfulness of the Trump era in U.S. politics is only going to get worse. Trump's utter lack of morality, ethics and simple humanity has been underscored during his 11 months in office. Let us count the ways:
He is enthusiastically supporting Alabama's Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore, who has been accused of pursuing '-- and in one case molesting and in another assaulting '-- teenagers as young as 14 when Moore was a county prosecutor in his 30s. On Tuesday, Trump summed up his willingness to support a man accused of criminal conduct: ''Roy Moore will always vote with us.'' Trump apparently is going for some sort of record for lying while in office. As of mid-November, he had made 1,628 misleading or false statements in 298 days in office. That's 5.5 false claims per day, according to a count kept by The Washington Post's fact-checkers.Trump takes advantage of any occasion '-- even Monday's failed terrorist attack in New York '-- to stir racial, religious or ethnic strife. Congress ''must end chain migration,'' he said Monday, because the terror suspect ''entered our country through extended-family chain migration, which is incompatible with national security.'' So because one man '-- 27-year-old Akayed Ullah, a lawful permanent resident of the U.S. who came from Bangladesh on a family immigrant visa in 2011 '-- is accused of attacking America, all immigrants brought to this country by family are suspect? Trump might have some credibility if his criticism of immigrants was solely about terrorists. It isn't. It makes no difference to him if an immigrant is a terrorist or a federal judge. He once smeared an Indiana-born judge whose parents emigrated from Mexico. It's all the same to this president.A man who clearly wants to put his stamp on the government, Trump hasn't even done his job when it comes to filling key government positions that require Senate confirmation. As of last week, Trump had failed to nominate anyone for 60% of 1,200 key positions he can fill to keep the government running smoothly. Trump has shown contempt for ethical strictures that have bound every president in recent memory. He has refused to release his tax returns, with the absurd excuse that it's because he is under audit. He has refused to put his multibillion dollar business interests in a blind trust and peddles the fiction that putting them in the hands of his sons does the same thing. Not to mention calling white supremacists "very fine people," pardoning a lawless sheriff, firing a respected FBI director, and pushing the Justice Department to investigate his political foes.
It is a shock that only six Democratic senators are calling for our unstable president to resign.
The nation doesn't seek nor expect perfect presidents, and some have certainly been deeply flawed. But a president who shows such disrespect for the truth, for ethics, for the basic duties of the job and for decency toward others fails at the very essence of what has always made America great.
USA TODAY's editorial opinions are decided by its Editorial Board, separate from the news staff. Most editorials are coupled with an opposing view '-- a unique USA TODAY feature.
To read more editorials, go to the Opinion front page or sign up for the daily Opinion email newsletter. To respond to this editorial, submit a comment to letters@usatoday.com.
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VIDEO - USA Today editorial board bashes Trump
Wed, 13 Dec 2017 11:37
(CNN) USA Today isn't known for its blistering opinion pieces. Which makes the one the paper's editorial board just published on President Donald Trump all the more savage.
"With his latest tweet, clearly implying that a United States senator would trade sexual favors for campaign cash, President Trump has shown he is not fit for office," reads the editorial. "Rock bottom is no impediment for a president who can always find room for a new low."
The reference here is Trump's tweet Tuesday morning in which he said that Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York was "begging" him for campaign contributions not long ago "and would do anything for them."
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders insisted Tuesday that only people with their minds "in the gutter" could possibly conclude that there was sexual innuendo in that tweet language.
The USA Today editorial didn't buy that explanation.
"A president who would all but call Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand a whore is not fit to clean the toilets in the Barack Obama Presidential Library or to shine the shoes of George W. Bush," reads the piece."This isn't about the policy differences we have with all presidents or our disappointment in some of their decisions. Obama and Bush both failed in many ways. They broke promises and told untruths, but the basic decency of each man was never in doubt."
This is not the first time that the editorial board at USA Today has made its views on Trump's fitness for office known.
In September 2016, the editorial board broke with its long-standing tradition of not endorsing a candidate in presidential elections by penning an editorial entitled "Trump is 'unfit for the presidency." It wasn't so much an endorsement of Hillary Clinton as it was an anti-endorsement of Trump.
"This year, the choice isn't between two capable major party nominees who happen to have significant ideological differences," read the piece. "This year, one of the candidates -- Republican nominee Donald Trump -- is, by unanimous consensus of the Editorial Board, unfit for the presidency."
Trump -- and his allies -- will undoubtedly cite that history as a way to lump USA Today's editorial board in with the biased liberal news media who hate the President so much that they are blind to the everyday realities of the average American.
And, for a chunk of Republicans loyal to Trump, that rhetoric will work. But USA Today is far from a reactionary leftist operation. And the disdain dripping from every word of the editorial board's condemnation of the president is truly searing.
These words, which end the editorial, are particularly striking: "A president who shows such disrespect for the truth, for ethics, for the basic duties of the job and for decency toward others fails at the very essence of what has always made America great."
VIDEO - ... Bitcoin Will Outperform Everything Including Warren Buffett, Every Bank In America And The USD: Max Keiser - ValueWalk
Wed, 13 Dec 2017 06:58
Presented without comment '... Bitcoin Will Outperform Everything Including Warren Buffett Says Max Keiser Max Keiser of the Keiser Reports Talks the Real Deal on Bitcoin '' Which he says is going to crush the U.S. dollar and ''blow the roof'' off of every bank in America.
Ex-Bridgewater Analysts : Quantitative Model Points To Bitcoin As Once In Century Bubble And A Historic Moment To Learn
Get the entire 10-part series on Warren Buffett in PDF. Save it to your desktop, read it on your tablet, or email to your colleagues
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KITCO NEWS - Ron Paul 'Surprised' With His Followers Resounding Pick of Bitcoin Over Gold Former Republican Congressman Ron Paul said he was "surprised,' when the majority of his devout gold followers, chose bitcoin over the yellow metal as their investment choice. Earlier this week, Paul, the ambassador for the firm Gold Co took to Twitter to ask his followers how they would invest a $10,000 gift '-- but he offered this catch: "You must keep the gift in the form that you choose, and you can't touch it for 10 years," Paul said in a tweet Tuesday. The libertarian's followers were provided with four options: U.S. dollars, gold, U.S. ten-year Treasury bonds and bitcoin. Their answer? Bitcoin '' 54% of respondents chose the cryptocurrency over gold at 36%. In an interview Thursday, Paul said he was not surprised however, that only 2% would store away Federal Reserve notes. Paul, a well-known critic of the Federal Reserve, and an advocate of holding gold, had previously campaigned to audit the central bank and return to a gold standard. ''It was information for me to tell me what my viewers are thinking'...[And I] was surprised that many people would stash away [in bitcoin],'' Paul said. After trading above $16,100 midday Thursday, bitcoin pared gains slightly, still higher 16.18% for the day to $15,971.05 Thursday afternoon.
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Stacy Herbert"Shine On" Max Keiser by @ptah Flickr (CC BY 2.0)
VIDEO - Sarah Silverman recalls being 'scared,' 'shaken' when boyfriend flew U.S. flag: 'I was freaking out' - Washington Times
Wed, 13 Dec 2017 04:54
Comedian Sarah Silverman addressed the topic of American nationalism during a monologue on her Hulu talk show Thursday night, describing the ''visceral reaction'' and fear she felt when an old boyfriend of hers hoisted an American flag on his own property.
''I had a boyfriend many years ago, he was my first boyfriend who had his own house, and one day I went outside to see what he was doing, and he was hoisting an American flag up the flagpole in his front yard,'' Ms. Silverman said. ''And I instantly felt very weird. It didn't make sense, but I felt '... scared.''
The talk-show host said she immediately questioned her boyfriend's motives, to which he responded, ''Um, because I love America?''
''I was like, 'Right, right, of course,' but inside I was shaken,'' Ms. Silverman recalled.
''I had no idea why I was freaking out,'' she said, so she called her sister, a rabbi in Israel, to try to understand her feelings better.
''[My sister] was like, 'Dude, nationalism is innately terrifying for Jews. Think about it: flags, marching, blind allegiance '-- these things tend to ring a bell for us,''' she said. ''Right. Of course. Duh. It made sense. And it made me realize that the things that terrify some people are the same things that give other people great comfort. It's like the way the sight of a police car might give some people comfort, for instance, white people.''
Ms. Silverman went on to criticize President Trump's ''nationalist'' slogans like ''Make America Great Again'' and ''America First'' as problematic because they ''exploit patriotism'' and indicate that America is ''No. 1'' without acknowledging the need for change.
''As patriots, I think we should strive to see ourselves in each other, whereas I feel that the nationalist view is to see yourself and then others,'' she said. ''There's a willing blindness in saying, 'We're No. 1.'''
''I fear that 'We're No. 1' nationalism is really like an old bed buddy of racism and xenophobia,'' she added.
She later said that while she ''can get behind the flag,'' she can't accept the ''We're No. 1'' vibe as genuine patriotism.
''It's tacky,'' she said.
VIDEO - Broaddrick: Being Excluded from TIME's
Tue, 12 Dec 2017 19:42
VIDEO - Acosta yells out question to Trump after being told he could be banned from pool sprays if he did
Tue, 12 Dec 2017 19:37
VIDEO - Climate change: Trump will bring US back into Paris deal - Macron - BBC News
Tue, 12 Dec 2017 18:54
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Media caption Macron: "Extremely aggressive" of the US to leaveFrench President Emmanuel Macron has said he believes President Donald Trump will bring the US back into the Paris deal on combating climate change.
But Mr Macron says he will not agree to the president's demand that America's terms should be negotiated.
He made his comments in a CBS interview on the eve of a summit on climate he has arranged on Tuesday in Paris.
Mr Macron condemned the manner in which the US had signed an international deal, then withdrawn from it.
"The US did sign the Paris Agreement. It's extremely aggressive to decide on its own just to leave, and no way to push the others to renegotiate because one decided to leave the floor. I'm sorry to say that. It doesn't fly."
Image copyright AFP/Getty Images Image caption About 50 senior ministers and prime ministers are attending the climate summit in Paris President Macron aspires to lead the world in fulfilling the ambition of the Paris climate accord to hold global temperature rise to well under 2C .
He told CBS he was not willing to be accused by future generations of understanding the extent of the climate problem but doing too little to solve it.
Scientists are waiting now to see whether Tuesday's summit of 50 senior ministers and prime ministers in Paris will achieve its aim of giving a boost to the current sluggish progress on cutting emissions.
There are potentially important announcements to be made on key financial issues:
Raising cash to give poor countries clean energyStopping development banks lending for new coal plants Insisting that firms disclose any fossil fuel assets that might be devalued if governments clamp down on emissions.There is also a potentially important announcement that could bind the shipping industry into climate targets - so far shipping has mostly evaded new rules on emissions because of the multinational nature of the industry.
In a significant move overnight, the oil giant Exxon announced it would assess the impact of climate change on its business.
Investors controlling about 62% of shares backed a proposal led by the New York state employees' retirement fund calling for an annual assessment of the impact of technological change and climate policy on the company's operations.
We won't know until later whether the Paris meeting has really made progress with other new initiatives.
Follow Roger on Twitter @rharrabin
VIDEO - Meet the Miss USA Contestant Accusing Trump of Sexual Misconduct as Senators Call for Him to Resign | Democracy Now!
Tue, 12 Dec 2017 18:48
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
JUAN GONZLEZ: Five senators are now calling on President Trump to resign over allegations that he sexually harassed or assaulted women. This is New York's Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand speaking Monday on CNN .
SEN . KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND : President Trump should resign. These allegations are credible; they are numerous. I've heard these women's testimony, and many of them are heartbreaking.
JUAN GONZLEZ: Senator Gillibrand joins Senators Cory Booker, Bernie Sanders, Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden in calling on President Trump to step down. Meanwhile, 56 House lawmakers with the Democratic Women's Working Group are also calling for a congressional investigation into the allegations against Trump.
AMY GOODMAN : This comes as three of the 16 women who have publicly accused President Trump of sexual harassment held a news conference in New York on Monday, demanding Congress take action. The women shared accounts in which they said Trump groped, fondled and forcibly kissed them. Monday's news conference was held by Brave New Films, which released the documentary 16 Women and Donald Trump in November.
JILL HARTH : He groped me. He absolutely groped me. And he just slipped his hand there, touching my private parts.
TEMPLE TAGGART : He turned to me and embraced me and gave me a kiss on the lips. And I remember being shocked and'--because I would have just thought to shake somebody's hand. But that was his first response with me.
JESSICA LEEDS : It was a real shock when all of the sudden his hands were all over me. But it's when he started putting his hand up my skirt, and that was it. That was it.
KRISTIN ANDERSON : The person on my right, who, unbeknownst to me at that time, was Donald Trump, put their hand up my skirt. He did touch my vagina through my underwear.
LISA BOYNE : As the women walked across the table, Donald Trump would look up under their skirt and, you know, comment on whether they had underwear or didn't have underwear. I didn't want to have to walk across the table. I wanted to get out of there.
KARENA VIRGINIA : Then his hand touched the right inside of my breast. I felt intimidated, and I felt powerless.
MINDY McGILLIVRAY: Melania was standing right next to him when he touched my butt.
JESSICA DRAKE : When we entered the room, he grabbed each of us tightly in a hug and kissed each one of us without asking permission. After that, I received another call from either Donald or a male calling on his behalf, offering me $10,000. His actions are a huge testament to his character, that of uncontrollable misogyny, entitlement and being a sexual assault apologist.
SAMANTHA HOLVEY : I'm, you know, sitting there in my robe and having, you know, my makeup and hair done and everything, and he comes walking in. And I was just like, ''Oh, my goodness!'' Like what is he doing back here? I saw him walk into the dressing room.
TASHA DIXON : He just came strolling right in. There was no second to put a robe on or any sort of clothing or anything. Some girls were topless. Other girls were naked. Waltzing in, when we're naked or half-naked, in a very physically vulnerable position.
SUMMER ZERVOS : And he came to me and started kissing me open-mouthed as he was pulling me towards him. He then grabbed my shoulder, and he began kissing me again very aggressively and placed his hand on my breast. And I said, ''Come on, man. Get real.'' He repeated my words back to me'--''Get reeeeeal'''--as he began thrusting his genitals.
AMY GOODMAN : That's an excerpt from the documentary 16 Women and Donald Trump. The women are now calling for a congressional investigation into sexual misconduct by President Trump. Last year, several Republican lawmakers distanced themselves from Donald Trump's presidential campaign following the release of the 2005 videotape showing Trump boasting about sexually assaulting women.
Trump responded this morning on Twitter to the allegations, writing, quote, ''Despite thousands of hours wasted and many millions of dollars spent, the Democrats have been unable to show any collusion with Russia'--so now they are moving on to the false accusations and fabricated stories of women who I don't know and/or have never met. FAKE NEWS !'' he tweeted.
Well, for more, we're joined by Samantha Holvey, former Miss North Carolina. She was a U.S.'--Miss USA contestant in the pageant that Trump owned. She's one of the 16 women who has accused President Trump of sexual misconduct, and she spoke out at the news conference on Monday.
Welcome, Samantha, to Democracy Now!
AMY GOODMAN : So, you just'--we just played the video, of which you're a part. Can you talk about your experience of Donald Trump and then what he's saying'--''I don't know them, I never met them''?
SAMANTHA HOLVEY : So, the first time I met Donald Trump, we were in New York City doing a media tour, all 51 of the Miss USA contestants. And we were at Trump Tower. They lined us all up, and so he could meet all of us. And I'm thinking this is going to be a meet and greet, you know, lots of eye contact. That was not the case at all. He walks by, and by every one of us, or at the very least me. He just looked me up and down like I was a piece of meat. There was no ''Hi. How are you doing? Are you excited to be here?'' None of that. I was just a piece of meat that was his property. And I thought, ''Oh, goodness. I hope I never have to deal with him again. I don't want to be around him.''
And then finals night rolls around. And I'm, you know, in hair and makeup. I've got curlers in my hair, nothing but a robe on. I'm just 20 years old. And he comes waltzing in to hair and makeup and is just looking around, not talking to us, asking us how we're doing. And by the way, you know, Miss USA was not my first pageant. I've been'--I've competed in other pageants. And the directors, no men were ever backstage. So this is not something that happens.
So, I see him walk in to hair and makeup, and he's looking us all over. And then he waltzed right into the dressing room, where we have two big security guards making sure that nobody but female contestants and chaperones are allowed in there. But he walks right on in.
And to hear him talking about he's never met any of us'--you know, this is what happens every year. It wasn't just 2006. He bragged about this on Howard Stern. And silly me, I should have been watching Howard Stern, because he bragged about it the year before I competed at Miss USA . So this was a known thing that he did. And so, it's just amazing to call me a liar, when I'm just verifying his own words.
JUAN GONZLEZ: Well, White House spokesperson Sarah Sanders responded to the allegations against Trump during Monday's press briefing. This is what she said.
PRESS SECRETARY SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS : As the president said himself, he thinks it's a good thing that women are coming forward. But he also feels strongly that a mere allegation shouldn't determine the course. And in this case, the president has denied any of these allegations, as have eyewitnesses. And several reports have shown those eyewitnesses also back up the president's claim in this process. And again, the American people knew this and voted for the president, and we feel like we're ready to move forward in that process.
JUAN GONZLEZ: Well, Samantha, your response to Sarah Huckabee Sanders' statement? Also, you initially raised these allegations, as did many of the women, last year during the campaign. What's the change now, the decision now to come to this press conference yesterday?
SAMANTHA HOLVEY : You know, it was a tough decision to come back out, because I did get a lot of backlash last year when I spoke out, and so I wasn't sure if I wanted to go through all of that again. But when the'--the idea was that all of us would come together, that all 16 women would come together, and seeing us as a group, seeing us there supporting each other, as well as telling our stories, there's power in numbers. And that's what I was just hoping, that maybe this year it would be different, since the climate is different.
AMY GOODMAN : Yesterday, I went to the news conference, Samantha. You were there, along with Jessica Leeds, a woman who says Donald Trump attacked her, sitting next to her in first class in a plane, groping her, until she got up and left. And this is Rachel Crooks, who also spoke at the news conference with you, who said Trump forcibly kissed her, against her will, in 2005.
RACHEL CROOKS : About 12 years ago, as a young receptionist in Trump Tower, I was forcibly kissed by Mr. Trump during our first introduction. Mr. Trump repeatedly kissed my cheeks, and ultimately my lips, in an encounter that has since impacted my life well beyond the initial occurrence, in feelings of self-doubt and insignificance I had.
Unfortunately, given Mr. Trump's notoriety and the fact that he was a partner of my employers, not to mention the owner of the building, I felt there was nothing I could do. Given this hostile work environment, my only solution at the time was to simply avoid additional encounters with him.
I do realize that, in the grand scheme of things, there are far worse cases of sexual harassment, misconduct and assault. But make no mistake: There is no acceptable level of such behavior.
That some men think they can use their power, position or notoriety to demean and attack women speaks to their character, not ours, which, believe me, is a tough lesson learned. In my case, I only felt the redemption of knowing it was not my own flaws to blame, when I read the account of Temple Taggart, whose story had so mirrored my own that I finally felt absolved of the guilt that I had somehow projected an image that made me an easy target. Instead, this was serial misconduct and perversion on the part of Mr. Trump.
AMY GOODMAN : Rachel Crooks. Now, Donald Trump has just fired back this morning on tweet. Five senators have called for him to resign. He fired back at New York Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, after she joined the four other senators and at least 56 lawmakers in the House who have called for a congressional investigation into the sexual misconduct accusations against him. This morning, Trump tweeted, ''Lightweight Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a total flunky for Chuck Schumer and someone who would come to my office 'begging' for campaign contributions not so long ago (and would do anything for them), is now in the ring fighting against Trump. Very disloyal to Bill & Crooked-USED !''
I want to bring'--I want to bring Cecile Richards into this conversation, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, CEO of the organization, as well. As you listen to Samantha and Rachel, some of the 16 women who have accused Donald Trump, and then see what he is tweeting today, attacking the senators, particularly the female senator, of the five'--
AMY GOODMAN : '--who are calling for him to resign, with sexual innuendo in his tweet, your thoughts?
CECILE RICHARDS : Well, first, I just think Samantha is extraordinarily brave, and the other 15 women, because you can see now why women don't come forward. I think, obviously, it's time for an investigation of Donald Trump. And the fact that he is in fact going after women, I think, is going to embolden women. I mean, you know, as difficult as this is to experience, the outpouring of women now supporting each other and telling their stories is like nothing I've ever seen in my lifetime, including women that we see at Planned Parenthood.
JUAN GONZLEZ: And the impacts across the spectrum in terms of Washington itself, in terms of lawmakers now, as more and more calls for investigations of individual lawmakers are occurring.
CECILE RICHARDS : Right. Well, I think this is'--I mean, the story that Amy refers to this morning of now women in Congress finally saying, who have been'--you know, have basically suffered this kind of treatment for their entire careers, are now saying it's time to investigate this, and holding people to a standard, is incredibly important. I don't think any of us saw this happening. And ironically, I believe the president is actually encouraging more women to now stand up and come forward, particularly'--and I'm sorry that he said this about Samantha'--the fact that he's actually saying that he doesn't even know who these women are, trying to essentially erase them in every way. And it's because women are saying ''Enough'' and standing with each other that I think we're going to see change.
VIDEO - Chamath Palihapitiya: Social media confuses truth and popularity
Tue, 12 Dec 2017 14:11
Ex-Facebook executive Chamath Palihapitiya told CNBC on Tuesday that social media is creating a society that confuses "popularity" with "truth."
"The tools that we have created today are starting to erode the social fabric of how society works," he said in a "Squawk Box" interview, in response to questions about similar comments he made that went viral. At a recent Stanford Graduate School of Business event, Palihapitiya said social media is tearing society apart.
On CNBC, he explained what he meant. "Today we live in a world now where it is easy to confuse truth and popularity. And you can use money to amplify whatever you believe and get people to believe what is popular is now truthful. And what is not popular may not be truthful."
"The reality is, I can take money and I can use that through all the social media systems that exist to hundreds of millions of people," said Palihapitiya, founder and CEO venture capital powerhouse Social Capital, which has $2.6 billion in assets under management.
"We can do that about vaccines, we can do that about gay rights, we can do that about bathroom laws, we can do that about Roy Moore," he said.
Palihapitiya, also co-owner of the NBA's Golden State Warriors, said social media exploits "our own natural tendencies in human beings to get and want feedback." He said the question people must ask is: "How do we live in a world where that is now possible?"
"That feedback, chemically speaking, is the release of dopamine in your brain," Palihapitiya said. The "feedback loops" get people to react, he added. "I think if you get to desensitized and you need it over and over and over again, then you become actually detached from the world in which you live."
Despite being a tech leader, Palihapitiya said he keeps his children away from social media by giving them "no screen time whatsoever." He said they don't get to use any devices.
Palihapitiya said his comments and actions were not direct attacks at Facebook. "I owe those guys everything," he said. "They made me."
Over his four-year tenure at Facebook, which started in 2007, Palihapitiya served in various management roles, including vice president of user growth.
VIDEO - Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand Calls On Trump To Resign Over Sexual Assault Allegations | HuffPost
Tue, 12 Dec 2017 12:55
POLITICS 12/11/2017 03:59 pm ET Updated 14 hours ago
If you've been wondering why politicians from both parties are resigning over accusations of sexually harassing women, yet President Donald Trump is apparently getting a free pass, you're not alone.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) also thinks it's a head-scratcher. And on Monday, she told CNN's Christiane Amanpour she thinks Trump should resign.
Sixteen women have accused the president of sexual misconduct. Their allegations include encounters with him involving forcible kissing, groping and rape. The White House says all of the women are lying.
''President Trump should resign,'' Gillibrand told Amanpour. ''These allegations are credible; they are numerous. I've heard these women's testimony, and many of them are heartbreaking.
''This is a very powerful moment in America's history,'' she continued, alluding to what's become a national reckoning that's toppled prominent men in Hollywood, the media and Washington.
''Not only should women be heard, they should be believed. When you have these allegations coming forward, they should be investigated, just like you'd investigate any other allegation of fraud or any other crime committed.''
''I think President Trump should be held accountable.''
Gillibrand isn't alone in her call for Trump's resignation. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) made a similar appeal after Al Franken (D) resigned his Senate seat over sexual misconduct allegations:
Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) have also called for the president's resignation in the past week.
This post has been updated to note other senators calling for Trump's resignation.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand Calls On Trump To Resign Over Sexual Assault Allegations
VIDEO - Spotlight back on Trump harassment accusations | TheHill
Tue, 12 Dec 2017 12:54
Sexual harassment allegations against President TrumpDonald John TrumpHouse Democrat slams Donald Trump Jr. for 'serious case of amnesia' after testimonySkier Lindsey Vonn: I don't want to represent Trump at OlympicsPoll: 4 in 10 Republicans think senior Trump advisers had improper dealings with RussiaMORE were thrust back into the spotlight Monday after three of his accusers banded together for a media tour.
Jessica Leeds, Samantha Holvey and Rachel Crooks recounted alleged harassment by Trump, stories they first shared during the 2016 presidential campaign, and demanded that Congress open an investigation.
''I ask that Congress put aside their party affiliations and investigate Mr. Trump's history of sexual misconduct,'' Crooks said at a joint news conference.
She said Trump ''has escaped his past unscathed but over a dozen women have come forward about his sexual misconduct, and we have the video proof of him promoting such behavior,'' referring to the 2005 ''Access Hollywood'' tape, in which Trump can be heard boasting about groping women.Hours later, the Democratic Women's Working Group (DWWG) announced that 56 female lawmakers were officially requesting the House Oversight Committee probe the allegations against Trump.
The White House vehemently reiterated its denials, accusing the women of having political motives and arguing the matter was settled during the election.
''The president has denied any of these allegations,'' said White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. ''And again, the American people knew this and voted for the president and we feel like we are ready to move forward.''
Sanders said there are eyewitness accounts that dispute the women's claims, and after her daily briefing, the White House circulated two news clippings to back her up.
In one story, a British man denied Leeds's accusation that Trump groped and kissed her during a commercial flight in the 1980s. The October 2016 interview was arranged by the Trump campaign.
In another story from 2016, the winner of the 2006 Miss Teen USA pageant said that Trump never came backstage to ogle contestants, as Holvey alleged he did during the standard Miss USA pageant that year.
The White House did not provide an eyewitness to rebut Crooks, who accused the president of forcibly kissing her 12 years ago at Trump Tower, where she worked as a young receptionist.
In their letter to Oversight Committee Chairman Trey GowdyHarold (Trey) Watson GowdyTop intel Dem: Trump Jr. refused to answer questions about Trump Tower discussions with fatherOvernight Cybersecurity: Panel pushes agencies on dropping Kaspersky software | NC county won't pay ransom to hackers | Lawmakers sound alarm over ISIS 'cyber caliphate'Flynn told associate Russia sanctions would be 'ripped up' early in Trump presidencyMORE (R-S.C.) and ranking member Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsTop intel Dem: Trump Jr. refused to answer questions about Trump Tower discussions with fatherOvernight Cybersecurity: Panel pushes agencies on dropping Kaspersky software | NC county won't pay ransom to hackers | Lawmakers sound alarm over ISIS 'cyber caliphate'Flynn told associate Russia sanctions would be 'ripped up' early in Trump presidencyMORE (D-Md.), the DWWG wrote that "The American people deserve a full inquiry into the truth of these allegations."
''We cannot ignore the multitude of women who have come forward with accusations against Mr. Trump,'' the letter reads. ''With that said, the President should be allowed to present evidence in his own defense.''
Sixteen women have publicly accused the president of sexual harassment or misconduct.
The accusers' stories were eventually pushed out of the news during the frantic final days of the 2016 campaign.
But now, the women are hoping they have a better chance of holding Trump to account.
They are speaking up following movie mogul Harvey Weinstein's downfall, which triggered a cultural reckoning over sexual misconduct allegations against powerful men in entertainment, media, business and politics.
During an appearance on NBC's ''Megyn Kelly Today,'' Holvey described the pain she felt after Trump's election last year.
''We are private citizens and for us to put ourselves out there, to try to show America who this man is, and especially how he views women, for them to say 'Meh, we don't care,' it hurt,'' Holvey said.
''Now it's just like, alright, let's try round two. The environment is different, let's try again.''
In a sign of how much the ground has shifted, Trump's own United Nations
ambassador, Nikki HaleyNimrata (Nikki) HaleyHaley: 'Open question' if US athletes will attend Olympics amid North Korea tensionsHaley: Trump isn't deciding who controls east JerusalemEmergency UN Security Council meeting called after Trump's Jerusalem announcement: reportMORE , said Sunday the women who accused the president of groping or kissing them without their consent ''should be heard.''
Haley's comments on CBS's ''Face the Nation'' were a surprising break from the White House's official stance that all of Trump's accusers are lying.
Sanders insisted Haley did not contradict the president, saying that Trump ''thinks it's a good thing that women are coming forward, but he also feels strongly that a mere allegation shouldn't determine the course.''
The landscape has rapidly changed on Capitol Hill, too, where three lawmakers resigned over allegations of sexual misconduct over the course of one week.
Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandDemocrats turn on Al FrankenReport: Franken will resign ThursdayMinnesota's largest newspaper calls on Franken to resignMORE (D-N.Y.) on Monday joined several of her Senate colleagues who are calling on Trump to resign from office.
''These allegations are credible; they are numerous,'' Gillibrand told CNN. ''I've heard these women's testimony, and many of them are heartbreaking.''
The New York senator, who is seen as a possible Trump challenger in 2020, said Congress should investigate Trump if he refuses to step down.
The renewed focus on harassment allegations could become a significant political problem for Trump, who is already grappling with the special counsel investigation into Russia's election interference, as well as sagging approval ratings.
Trump's accusers are speaking out after he went all-in for Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore, who is facing accusations he initiated a sexual encounter with a 14-year-old girl and courted other teenagers while he was in his 30s.
Trump's accusers voiced disgust that the president is backing Moore, who has denied the allegations.
''It's really horrifying and it's confusing,'' Leeds said at the press conference. ''You would think that the good people of Alabama could see through this, but we've gotten so polarized with the politics they want to keep a Republican seat even though it's a pedophile.''
There are potential legal pitfalls for Trump, too.
A state court judge in New York is considering whether to dismiss a defamation lawsuit brought against Trump by a former contestant on ''The Apprentice'' who says Trump kissed her and groped her breasts without her consent.
If the lawsuit is not thrown out, Trump could be compelled to testify under oath about the allegations against him.
'--Updated at 9:19 p.m.
VIDEO - Arrested For Calling Someone A MAN In The U.K - YouTube
Tue, 12 Dec 2017 06:21
VIDEO - 7 Enraging and Heartbreaking New Revelations from Trump's Accusers | Alternet
Tue, 12 Dec 2017 05:54
Three women spoke out today in the hopes America finally will listen.
Photo Credit: NBC / Today Show video
On Monday morning, three women who have accused Donald Trump of sexual abuse appeared on Megyn Kelly's NBC Morning Show and took part in a press conference led by Brave New Films to demand a congressional investigation into the charges against the president.
Jessica Leeds says Trump groped her repeatedly on a plane three decades ago. Rachel Crooks, a former receptionist for a real estate development company with an office in Trump Tower, has alleged that Trump tried to kiss her several times in 2005. Samantha Holvey, who represented the state of North Carolina in the 2006 Miss USA pageant, says Trump would appear backstage to leer at her and other contestants. At least 16 other women have accused Trump of sexually inappropriate behavior.
Here are seven of the most disturbing allegations to emerge from their interviews.
1. Trump verbally insulted one of the women years later.
Leeds says that three years after he assaulted her on a plane, she ran into Trump at a gala.
''I recognized him, immediately,'' she said. ''He's the guy on the airplane. But he stands there, as I'm handing him this table assignment, and he says, 'I remember you. You were that...woman from the airplane. He called me the worst name ever."
''You don't want to say it out loud. Does it begin with a C?'' Kelly asked.
''Yes,'' Leeds responded.
2. They were disappointed by the majority of white women voting for Trump.
Kelly asked what the women made of the fact that 53 percent of white women voted for Trump, despite at least a dozen women having accused him of sexual assault and/or harassment, and the emergence of a 2005 video in which Trump boasted about grabbing women by the genitals.
''That's what hurt the most,'' Holvey responded. ''That women, who have lived through this'--everybody has their own story of a man touching them inappropriately...This is not an incident that only happens once in a blue moon. This is a daily thing for women. And for [white women who voted for Trump] not to say, 'You know what? That's wrong. I don't support that. I'm not voting for that. I don't want that person to be leading my country.' And that was so painful.''
3. They were attacked by Trump supporters for telling their stories.
Kelly asked the group about the ''blowback from [Trump's] Twitter army'' they'd received for coming forward. Crooks recounted how she had been accused of lying by a woman who claimed to know her family, but whom she'd never actually met. ''Of course,'' she said. ''Definitely. Social media is harsh.''
Kelly pointed out that Leeds' detractors tried to pick apart her story by focusing on tiny details, such as her recollection that the armrest between her seat and Trump's had been removed at the time of the incident. She said subsequent reports noted that in the 1970s, armrests in first-class seats on that type of plane were, indeed, removable.
4. They questioned why some politicians seem to get away with serial abuse and assault.
Leeds suggested partisanship among Republicans was at the root of Trump's ''Teflon'' ability to remain unscathed by the mountain of sexual assault and harassment allegations.
''I really wanted people to know who he is and what he is,'' she said of going public with her accusations. ''And I think his core supporters do know...but he's their dog, so they're going to stick with their dog.''
''Because he's got the right team jersey on,'' Kelly said.
At another point in the conversation, after a brief mention of the resignations of senators Al Franken and John Conyers, Crooks questioned the difference. ''Why is the president immune to that?'' she asked, later noting, ''Politicians of a certain background seem to not be held accountable. And I think that's sad.''
5. One victim described not being believed, and Trump's election, as 'heartbreaking.'
''We're private citizens,'' Holvey stated. ''And for us to put ourselves out there to try to show America who this man is and especially how he views women and for them to say 'Meh, we don't care,' it hurt. And so, you know, now, it's just like, all right, let's try round two. The environment's different. Let's try again."
6. They're calling for a long overdue congressional investigation into the charges against Trump.
''We're at the position now where in some areas of our society, people are being held accountable for unwanted behavior,'' Leeds stated before a group of assembled press. "But we are not holding our president accountable for what he is and who he is.''
''They've investigated other Congress members, so I think it only stands fair that he be investigated as well,'' Holvey added. ''And I think a nonpartisan investigation is very important...This isn't a partisan issue. This how women are treated every day.''
7. All of them wish they didn't have to be in the spotlight.
''None of us want this attention,'' Leeds said,during the press conference. ''None of us are comfortable with it. If we had been comfortable with being a star, we would have done something else with our lives. But this is important. So when asked, we speak out.''
Kali Holloway is a senior writer and the associate editor of media and culture at AlterNet.
VIDEO - Eddie Fisher's ex wife claims Larry King groped her twice | Daily Mail Online
Tue, 12 Dec 2017 05:35
Terry Richard, an ex-wife of singer Eddie Fisher, claims that former CNN talk show host Larry King groped her at a public event on two separate occasions, she told DailyMailTV in an exclusive interview.
Richard says the groping incidents took place in 2005 and again in 2006, both at a baseball awards dinner at Universal Studios, in Los Angeles.
The 63-year-old Richard said in the first incident, while posing together for a photo, King slid his hand down her backless dress and rested his fingers in between her butt cheeks.
The photo, during which King allegedly groped Richard for the first time, was featured in a local newspaper and the clipping was obtained by DailyMailTV.
Richard claims the second time was also while they were taking a photo together, and King, now 84, squeezed her butt so hard that it left a large bruise.
Speaking from her home in Los Angeles, Richard said: 'Larry King is a groper. He groped me twice. He gets a thrill doing this in front of the camera, knowing I couldn't do anything.'
Responding to a comment request from DailyMailTV, King's lawyer said Richard's assertion is false. 'Mr. King did no such thing then or ever.'
Scroll down for video
Terry Richard, an ex-wife of singer Eddie Fisher, claims Larry King groped her on two occasions, once in 2005 and again in 2006, both while they were taking a photo together. Richard said King first slid his hand down her backless dress in 2005 at the RBI Dinner (pictured)
The 63-year-old said in the first incident, King slid his hand down her backless dress and put his fingers in between her butt cheeks. Richard said: 'Larry groped me in front of everyone where I couldn't say anything. He gets a thrill doing this in front of the camera, knowing I couldn't do anything'
Richard said she had met King briefly in 2004 when her and her son had taken a photo with the talk-show legend.
She said: 'At that time I told Larry I was Eddie Fisher's fourth wife and he responded in a curmudgeonly manner stomping his foot with his hands on his hips as he said to me, "how did you get away." Then he added, "when are you coming on my TV show?" I responded, not until my book is ready.
'The first time Larry groped me was early in 2005. I was working as a correspondent for my local Los Angeles newspaper the Tolucan Times and I was covering a baseball awards dinner at Universal Studios.'
Richard was working the red carpet at the event, interviewing and getting her picture taken with several prominent baseball players, such as former LA Dodgers Ron Cey, former manager Tommy Lasorda, Major League Baseball commissioner at the time Bud Selig, and former LA County Sheriff Lee Baca, saying they were all gentlemen.
She then went inside the gala and saw Jamie McCourt, the former owner of the LA Dodgers, and she was talking to Larry King. Richard said she went up to Larry, who recognized her from their previous introduction months prior.
Richard said her photographer wanted to get a picture of both of them together for the Tolucan Times.
The photo during which King first allegedly groped Richard was featured in a local newspaper that Richard worked for at the time and a clipping of the paper was obtained by DailyMailTV. Pictured: Richard and King at the RBI Dinner in 2005
King, here with former LA Dodgers owner Frank McCourt on the night of the first alleged groping. Richard said: 'Larry slid his hand down from the middle of my back to putting his hand inside of my dress and it ended up with about three or four of his fingers in the crack of my a**, resting in the crack of my a**'
She said: 'We stood there to pose for a photo, I was wearing a very low cut backless Versace black dress.
'Larry put his hand behind me on my back and as the photographer was taking our picture Larry slid his hand down from the middle of my back to putting his hand inside of my dress and it ended up with about three or four of his fingers in the crack of my a**, resting in the crack of my a**.
'He just stuck it in'... I don't know how he got [his hand] in there, but he did.
'I couldn't believe it. I was so shocked. I froze. I let out a "squelch."
'Jamie McCourt was standing to the left of us but didn't see anything, she looked at me after she heard my "squelch" but didn't say anything.
'I just smiled there real big, I didn't know what to do.'
Richard says King left his fingers in the crack of her ass for 'about eight to ten seconds.'
She added: 'He had a big smile on his face. I didn't say anything, I didn't want to cause a scene in front of everyone.
'My reaction was to slap him in his face but he was the guest speaker. It was awful.
'What really got me was '' I'm a wife, my child was at the event, I'm working and I was over 50. So, there's no age limit.'
The following year in 2006, Richard attended another baseball awards event. She says she saw King earlier in the evening and attempted to avoid him the entire event, but toward the end of the night 'somehow he was right in front of my face.'
'My photographer asked us to take a picture together, this time I was wearing a low-cut front Giorgio Armani dress.'
The second time Richard claims she was groped by King was in 2006. They were again posing for a photo and she said King grabbed her butt cheek with his fingers and squeezed it so tight that she developed a huge bruise on her butt cheek. Pictured: King seen the night he first allegedly groped Richard
Richard said: 'Because of what happened to me, every time I take a picture with a man that I don't really know, in the back of my mind, for a split second I wonder if I'm going to be groped'
Richard continued: 'I thought since I wasn't wearing a backless dress this time I didn't think it was going to happen again so I posed with him for another picture.
'I thought, surely, he's not going to do anything this time, and the old dog did.'
This time, Richard claims that King grabbed her butt cheek with his fingers and squeezed it so tight that later that night when she got home she realized she had a huge bruise, which didn't go away for a week.
She added: 'When he grabbed me I let out an audible sound, and Larry scurried off.
'He ran off with his wife down the red carpet towards the limousines. And I just stood there shocked, thinking this must be a thing for Larry.
'I mean, am I the only one he's ever done this to? I don't think so. It's obvious Larry King has been getting away with this for a long time.'
Even after 12 years Richard hasn't forgotten what he did.
She said: 'Because of what happened to me, every time I take a picture with a man that I don't really know, in the back of my mind, for a split second I wonder if I'm going to be groped.'
Richard says that she would like to have an apology from King.
'I haven't seen Larry since the last time he groped me, but if I had the chance to talk to him I would tell him, shame on you! It was inappropriate.
'Shame on Larry, he has been a bad little boy and he needs to be disciplined. I don't want his money, but an apology would be nice.
'How would he feel if someone did that to his wife or his daughter? Larry has two young sons that I hope wouldn't do what he did.
'Larry groped me in front of everyone where I couldn't say anything. He gets a thrill doing this in front of the camera, knowing I couldn't do anything,' continued Richard.
Richard was the fourth wife of singer Eddie Fisher (pictured together in 1975)
Richard said she finally came forward because of the other women who have been brave enough to come forward with their stories.
She said: 'When Taylor Swift testified and took the DJ who groped her to court and won, it started a movement among women to say this is now way to treat a women. We need to teach our young daughters and sons this behavior is not acceptable.
'It needs to stop. I have son and I've taught him how to be respectful toward women.'
Richard says she's not even sure King will remember the groping incident and isn't holding her breath for an apology. 'It would be cool if he did apologize for his actions. Larry needs to take responsibility for his actions. '
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VIDEO - Ex-Spy Chief: Russia's Election Hacking Was An 'Intelligence Failure' - POLITICO Magazine
Tue, 12 Dec 2017 05:01
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The politics of spying in America has never been more intense. President Trump has taken to publicly bashing his intelligence agencies and continues, a full year later, to question their conclusion that Russia intervened in the 2016 U.S. election on his behalf. For their part, an array of career spooks have come out of the shadows where they spent their careers to challenge the commander-in-chief in once unthinkably public terms.
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Michael Morell is one of the career types who's broken with decades of practice to confront Trump. A veteran of nearly three decades in the CIA, Morell rose from within the ranks to become the agency's longtime deputy director, twice serving as its acting leader before retiring during President Barack Obama's second term. In the summer of 2016, he broke with tradition to endorse Hillary Clinton over Trump, and he has continued to sound the alarm ever since.
But in a revealingly self-critical and at times surprising interview for this week's Global POLITICO, Morell acknowledges that he and other spy-world critics of the president failed to fully ''think through'' the negative backlash generated by their going political. ''There was a significant downside,'' Morell said in the interview.
Morell, who grew up as a superstar CIA analyst and eventually graduated to become President George W. Bush's personal daily intelligence briefer during the momentous events before and after the terrorist attack of Sept. 11, 2001, was also reflective about the costs of the massive shift in emphasis toward counterterrorism after that attack '' in particular, a failure to focus on the threat posed by a resurgent Russia under President Vladimir Putin until it was arguably too late.
The Russian 2016 hacking, Morell told me, was in fact a U.S. ''intelligence failure'' in multiple ways. It was, he argued, at the least ''a failure of imagination that's not dissimilar to the failure of imagination that we had for 9/11,'' with America's spy agencies apparently unable to have conceived of social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter and electronic hacking of Gmail being used to attack the country's election.
But it was another kind of failure, too, Morell argued, of shifting money away from Russia and elsewhere in the name of fighting terrorism. ''As we were trying to protect the country from terrorists,'' he said, ''we became more blind to what was going on in the rest of the world, both from a collection perspective and from an analytic perspective. And that was a cost'.... When you make choices, you leave significant risk on the table.''
You can read the rest of our provocative conversation, which ranges from the internal debate over when Putin turned from frenemy to foe to whether Morell thinks Trump will ultimately be caught up in special prosecutor Robert Mueller's net, below.
Glasser: I'm Susan Glasser, and welcome back to The Global POLITICO. I'm delighted to tell you that our guest this week is Michael Morell, who has not once, but twice, been the acting director of the CIA and has emerged out of the shadows of the deep state, if you will, to become not only a very vocal public advocate for the intelligence community in these embattled times, but also something of a journalist and a creator of podcasts, as we'll talk about, I'm sure.
But, of course, intelligence matters'--which I believe is the name of your podcast'--
Morell: It is the name of the podcast, yes.
Glasser: And is also really the subject of this conversation, as of most of your conversations, because it's very rare that you have somebody who's emerging'--or at least, it would have been, until Donald Trump'--to have somebody like you, who's emerging from a three-decade-long career inside the intelligence community, to play such vocal and public role. Was there any particular sort of tipping point for you that made you think, ''Well, I'm going to go public with this''?
Morell: So, there were really two moments here, right, for me. One was when I first left government, I did a 60 Minutes interview about my life inside CIA, and it's something the agency thought that was a good thing to do, and I taped most of it before I left the agency. And I really liked it. And I, soon after that, joined CBS News as an on-air commentator on national security issues, and it resonated with me because I saw it in very similar terms to what I used to do for presidents. And I used to help--
Glasser: And you were the guy who literally gave the presidential daily briefing to George W. Bush, before and after 9/11?
Morell: Correct. For the entire year of 2001. And then, I had been involved in the publication of the president's daily brief before that and after that. And of course, I briefed President Obama a lot when I was deputy director.
So, my fundamental job at the agency, as an analyst and then running the place, was to help the president think about the challenges we face in the world, right? And so, I saw my role on CBS, then, as helping the American people understand these incredibly complex challenges that we face. So, that was the first kind of public stepping out.
The second was in August of 2016, when I became political, when I endorsed Hillary Clinton with an op-ed in The New York Times, and that was a very difficult decision for me, because I had never been political before. I worked at this nonpolitical agency, bright red line between intelligence and policy, and intelligence and politics. So, I had never played that role before.
But I was so deeply concerned about what a Trump presidency might look like from a national security perspective, and believed that there was such a gap between Secretary Clinton and Donald Trump with regard to how well they would protect the country, that I thought it extremely important to come out and say that.
Glasser: Okay, so, flash-forward a year. Was that a mistake?
Morell: So, I don't think it was a mistake. I think there were downsides to it that I didn't think about at the time. I was concerned about what is the impact it would have on the agency, right? Very concerned about that, thought that through. But I don't think I fully thought through the implications.
And one of the ways I've thought about that, Susan, is'--okay, how did Donald Trump see this? Right? And from'--it's very important'--one of the things we do as intelligence analysts is make sure that our guy'--the president'--understands the other guy. Right?
So, let's put ourselves here in Donald Trump's shoes. So, what does he see? Right? He sees a former director of CIA and a former director of NSA, Mike Hayden, who I have the greatest respect for, criticizing him and his policies. Right? And he could rightfully have said, ''Huh, what's going on with these intelligence guys?'' Right?
Glasser: It embroiders his narrative.
Morell: Exactly. And then he sees a former acting director and deputy director of CIA criticizing him and endorsing his opponent. And then he gets his first intelligence briefing, after becoming the Republican nominee, and within 24 to 48 hours, there are leaks out of that that are critical of him and his then-national security advisor, Mike Flynn.
And so, this stuff starts to build, right? And he must have said to himself, ''What is it with these intelligence guys? Are they political?'' The current director at the time, John Brennan, during the campaign occasionally would push back on things that Donald Trump had said.
So, when Trump talked about the Iran nuclear deal being the worst deal in the history of American diplomacy, and he was going to tear it up on the first day'--John Brennan came out publicly and said, ''That would be an act of folly.'' So, he sees current sitting director pushing back on him. Right?
Then he becomes president, and he's supposed to be getting a daily brief from the moment he becomes the president-elect. Right? And he doesn't. And within a few days, there's leaks about how he's not taking his briefing. So, he must have thought'--right?'--that, ''Who are these guys? Are these guys out to get me? Is this a political organization? Can I think about them as a political organization when I become president?''
So, I think there was a significant downside to those of us who became political in that moment. So, if I could have thought of that, would I have ended up in a different place? I don't know. But it's something I didn't think about.
Glasser: Well, it's very interesting, because of course, there are so many things you don't know at that moment in time, including, of course, I'm sure you assumed, along with everybody else, that Hillary Clinton was likely to be elected, and you saw this as contributing to that in some way. But it's certainly relevant in the context of the situation we find ourselves in a year later. And, if it tends to embolden Trump in his critique of your former colleagues who are still serving in the intelligence agencies, and not only has this been a theme that he has struck repeatedly to criticize'--but also to politicize this.
And inadvertently, perhaps, you or others who spoke out and have continued to speak out actually tend to underscore his feeling that there's a political divide, and now you and others are on one side of it, and potentially all your former colleagues, and then he's on the other side of it.
That was really underscored for me on his recent trip to Asia, when Donald Trump once again seemed to take Vladimir Putin's side on the issue of Russian intervention in the election over the conclusions of the U.S. intelligence agencies. But it was so revealing when they tried to fix it'--right?'--and he sort of said, ''Well, I'm in favor of the current intelligence agencies, but not the former ones.''
Morell: Yeah, and you can't pick and choose like that. And when people in the intelligence community'--particularly people in CIA, because for every other part of the intelligence community except CIA, you're working for a cabinet member. At CIA, you are working for the president of the United States. That is your customer. Right?
00:08:03 So, when you see your customer questioning what it is that you are providing to him or her, and that person seems to be cherry-picking what they accept and what they don't accept, it's demoralizing. And when it's demoralizing, people take actions, right? So, I live pretty close to the agency, and there's a coffee shop between me and the agency, and I've met a number of agency officers in that coffee shop who have said to me, ''I'm thinking about leaving.''
And my pushback to them is, ''Your country needs you now more than ever. Don't leave.'' Right? But it does lead people to question whether or not what they're doing is of value. And'--look'--working there is really hard. The problems are hard. They're complex. They're not easy to solve. Some of these targets where we're trying to collect intelligence are extraordinarily difficult. People operate in very dangerous places. The hours are long. The pressure on families is really tough.
And so, if you think what you're doing doesn't matter, because the president of the United States is selectively listening, it has impact.
Glasser: So, tell me about your views of the current director of the CIA, Mike Pompeo. It's been reported that he's a leading candidate to potentially become secretary of state when Rex Tillerson leaves, which is the subject, of course, of a big Washington parlor game.
But Pompeo has personally been undertaking the presidential daily brief, by all accounts, as much as six days a week, he's leveraged that time with the president into a close relationship with the president. So, is that a normal role for the director of the CIA to be playing? Do you think that he has politicized the agency further by doing so?
Morell: I think that the relationship that Mike Pompeo has developed with the president is a very good thing. One of the most important things a director does is develop a relationship with the president that allows you to get your best information and your best analysis in front of the president. So, I actually believe that it's Mike's relationship with the president that has gotten the intelligence community and the CIA in the room almost every day of the week, and is getting them time, which gives the intelligence community'--Susan'--and the CIA the opportunity to tell the president what they think.
And I think without that relationship that the two of them have'--which is why he's the leading candidate to replace Secretary Tillerson'--we might not be in the room at all. So, I think that is a very good thing. And one of the things that folks at CIA feel really good about is the fact that their director is getting them in the room every day.
Glasser: Do you think the director is presenting objective, unbiased analysis of situations like the Russia situation or the Iran situation to the president?
Morell: So, I'm not in the room.
Glasser: No, I know.
Morell: Obviously, I'm not in the room, but there's really three people in the room. There's the director, Mike Pompeo, and there's the DNI, Dan Coats, and then there's the briefer, somebody like me, right? What I did for George Bush, there's a senior analyst who's doing that for President Trump. He's the one who actually does the briefing, and Mike Pompeo and Dan Coats, I would bet, do the color commentary, right? That's the way it worked with me and George Tenet. I was the play-by-play guy and George Tenet was the color commentator.
I'm absolutely certain'--because I know the person who's briefing'--I mean, I grew up with that person, worked with that person, have a hundred percent confidence that that person is presenting the intelligence in a nonpolitical, nonpartisan, nonpolicy manner. What Mike Pompeo might say, or Dan Coats might say is'--no idea.
But I believe the views of the intelligence community are getting across. Whether the president is accepting them or not is really hard to say.
Glasser: Well, his public statements indicate that he's not accepting them, at least in certain critical areas.
Morell: On certain cases, yes. Russia, for example.
Glasser: Russia. Okay. So, let's talk about Russia. Dana Priest'--a terrific journalist whom you know'--just wrote a very critical and very interesting piece in The New Yorker, and she said Russia was an intelligence failure, the Russian intervention in our elections. That's not really the widely accepted narrative, but I thought it was a powerful piece. Do you agree with that?
Morell: So, she had a couple of different themes, right? And I'd say charges, right? One was the intelligence failure. One was you didn't brief Congress soon enough, right?
Glasser: Right.
Morell: On what you did know.
Glasser: And then there's the question of the social media piece, and basically'--
Morell: Right. So, let's deal with just the intelligence failure piece. I think this is a legitimate question to ask. And I look at it from two perspectives. One, in the intelligence business, we think about warning in two ways: strategic warning'--Al Qaeda wants to attack us in the United States, right? And tactical warning: they're going to attack us next week using this method, right? Those are two different kinds of warning.
So, I have little doubt that we, the intelligence community, didn't see from a strategic sense this particular'--and I'm talking about social media here, the weaponization of social media'--that we did see that coming. Susan, I went back and looked at all of the unclassified versions of the worldwide threat testimony that the DNI and the director of the agency and the director of DIA give every year, and I read all of those.
I reread all of those. There's a cyber section in every one, right? And the warnings are about'--
Glasser: I remember Panetta, right? ''The danger of a cyber Pearl Harbor.''
Morell: Right. ''Cyber Pearl Harbor,'' right. Attack on our infrastructure. I didn't see anywhere in there'--and this was criticism of myself, right, because I was deputy director of the CIA until August of 2013'--I didn't see anywhere in those worldwide threat testimonies a warning about the possible use of social media to attack us. So, I think it's a legitimate question.
And on the tactical question, my question is, when'--and I don't know the answer this'--my question is, when did the intelligence community see the Russians messing around with social media in the election?
And my question's there because you remember the DNI'--the Director of National Intelligence'--and the Secretary of Homeland Security put out a public statement'--
Glasser: On October 7.
Morell: Exactly. And it said two things. Right? The Russians used cyber to steal stuff from the Democratic National Committee and from John Podesta'--Hillary Clinton's campaign manager'--and gave the embarrassing stuff to WikiLeaks, right? Which then used it against the secretary.
And then, two, tried to get into voting systems in the states. It didn't mention anything about the use of social media to spread and amplify fake news. And so, I wonder, did they know about it at that point? Or did they not know about it at that point?
Glasser: Well, you know, it's very interesting you raise this, because I think they didn't. Because I did a very interesting interview of The Global POLITICO with Jim Clapper, who was the DNI at the time, who was the signatory, or was the issuer of that statement, along with Jeh Johnson'--who I also interviewed on The Global POLITICO'--I asked Clapper'--this was quite recently, this fall'--''What have you learned that you didn't know before the election?'' What have you learned from the disclosures that are coming out publicly, or in testimony and the like as this Russiagate investigation unfolds?
That was what he spotlighted for me, in our conversation. Just this fall he said, I learned the extent to which they were active on these platforms like Facebook and Twitter, which was not something I really was aware of. And I thought, ''Wow, that's pretty amazing. He was the Director of National Intelligence.''
Morrell: You know what's interesting is, if that's true'--and it certainly sounds like it is, based on your conversation with Jim, who is a wonderful man and is the best DNI that we've ever had, in my view'--if that's true, then it's a failure of imagination that's not dissimilar to the failure of imagination that we had for 9/11. Right?
Glasser: That's right. And, by the way, another part of Dana's critique is relevant here, which is the blind spot, or the failure of imagination at a time when we've invested literally billions of dollars'--you know far better than I do'--since 9/11, in our collection capabilities, in actually operationalizing the CIA, turning them into a fighting force; giving them capabilities you could have only dreamed of.
Are we too busy, basically, looking at satellite images of tanks when Facebook is the new Fulda Gap?
Morell: Let me say two things. One is, there's a little bit of a danger in'--and I'm correcting myself here a little bit'--a little bit of a danger in overemphasizing the failure of imagination, which is an analytic thing. Right?
Glasser: Correct.
Morell: So, it's a useful critique of analysts. But the other important players here are intelligence collectors, right? So, the failure to see this coming, and the failure to take some time before you actually see what's happening is also a collection failure. It means you haven't penetrated the right places with the right assets'--CIA and NSA are the two big ones here'--to tell you exactly what the Russians are doing. So, it's a couple of important failures there.
The other way to answer your question, Susan, is that post-9/11, there was a huge flow of resources to counterterrorism. Not surprising. I mean, we moved hundreds of people internally. The collection resources were focused on counterterrorism. CIA got back into the paramilitary business in a way that it hadn't been since the Office of Strategic Services days during World War II.
All understandable, but with the implication that we moved resources that were focused on the rest of the world, to include places like Russia. So, as we were trying to protect the country from terrorists, we became more blind to what was going on in the rest of the world, both from a collection perspective and from an analytic perspective. And that was a cost.
One of the things I'd like to point out is that'--the CIA's a large place and the total number of employees there is classified, but to put it into perspective for you, in 1991 we had x employees. By 2001'--10 years later'--we had .75x, so a 25 percent decline. When I walked out the door in 2013, even with a significant ramp-up in resources post-9/11, we only had 1.1x. So, essentially the same number of employees in 2013 as we had in 1991, in a world that was much, much more complex, with many, many more issues.
How do you cover all of that in the way you have to to protect the country? And the answer is, you can't. Right? You've got to make choices. And when you make choices, you leave significant risk on the table.
Glasser: So, do you think that in making choices, we underestimated Russia and its return under Vladimir Putin?
Morell: I think yes. Right? I think in the early Putin days as president, and then certainly when Medvedev was president and Putin was prime minister, Russia was not what it is today. We were interacting with them in a much more normal way'--we being the United States and Europe. It was only when Putin came back the second time as president, that the behavior started to turn, and turned significantly back towards what was essentially Russian behavior during the Cold War, which is challenge the United States everywhere you can in the world, and do whatever you can to undermine what they're trying to accomplish. Do whatever you can to weaken them.
They're being extraordinarily aggressive with regard to that. And that was a change. That wasn't Vladimir Putin from day one.
Glasser: Well, that's very interesting you make that argument. My husband and I were stationed in Moscow during Putin's first term in office, and then back here for the second term of Bush's presidency on forward. And there's a real debate, I would say, among Russia hands about that argument that you just made. That's very interesting to me, because Russia did invade Georgia in 2008, before Putin returned officially to the presidency.
And I think the Obama White House arguably staked its Russia policy on the view that you are expounding, that somehow Russia was more amenable to us, and then with Putin's return to power, that it changed in some marked way.
I'm not sure that I agree with that, but it's interesting that you take a definitive position on it.
Morell: I think there's a debate, but I feel pretty comfortable with the position I've taken. I think Georgia was a turning point. I think Georgia was a really important moment, and maybe that should have been the wakeup call, you know, that moment where he was willing to invade a neighbor.
Glasser: And also, what lessons he took or didn't take from that Western response to that.
Morell: Or lack of Western response to that, right?
Glasser: Yes.
Morell: Absolutely.
Glasser: I think so. To me, that's a very key moment.
Morell: And, the two things we just talked about go in parallel, right? And are reinforcing to each other. So, he takes an aggressive step and he doesn't get any pushback; he doesn't get anything to deter him. Right? And that's been the history of this relationship, in my view, since Georgia. Right? Is, he does something that is damaging to our interests or the interests of our allies, and there's not a response, and so he keeps going, and he keeps going, and he keeps going.
Glasser: So, this is endlessly interesting to me to talk about Putin, but I want to cast it into the present a little bit more. So, he keeps going; he's not only invading Ukraine, but much more aggressive in intervening in the elections, for example, of other countries on the periphery of Russia and Eastern and Central Europe, aggressive measures against neighbors in the Baltics, for example, in Estonia.
00 And so, that's where you get this argument from many of my Russia-hand friends that, of course, this wasn't something new, to intervene in the United States, and it's exactly what he did in Poland, or in other countries. So that's one bullet point on the question of our intelligence.
The other question is, did we do things to kind of unilaterally disarm from an intelligence point of view, on Russia?
Morell: Well, I think Russia was one of the places that suffered from the loss of resources as they flowed to counterterrorism'--no doubt in my mind. There were things with regard to Georgia, for example, that I can't talk about specifically, but things we could not tell the president about what was happening in Georgia at the particular time that they were doing what they were doing because we had turned off systems that used to be turned on, because now they were focused on other parts of the world. Right?
Glasser: The eye had turned.
Morell: So, absolutely, that suffered. I think'--and there were also things that we were doing as a country that he was misreading'--Putin was misreading. So, I talked earlier about the importance of an intelligence officer being able to tell the president, ''Here's the other guy's view.'' Well, what's Putin's view of us? Right?
Putin's view of us is that we want to undermine him, and that we are actively working to do so. Right? He really believes that. And he points to things that are absolutely true. The State Department pushing for democracy in Russia openly. And then he points to things that aren't true, like the CIA was behind the street protests in Kiev that led to all the problems in Ukraine. Right?
That's his worldview, is that we are trying to undermine him, and that we want him to go away, right? And so, when you think about it in those terms, what he's doing against us'--right? It's kind of interesting, right? It doesn't justify what he's doing, but it certainly puts it in perspective.
Glasser: No, I think that's a great point to make, and I think it's so important. So, Russiagate? Or whatever we want to call it. I don't know if you have a better name for it than that. Based on your intelligence analyst hat, looking at the dots that are out there'--how do we construct a narrative around them that makes sense? Is there enough information to construct a narrative? What do you make of the evidence that's public, recognizing that it's a very small amount of the evidence, presumably?
Morell: The best place to start is with a caveat, is I have no insight into the FBI investigation or the two investigations being done by the Intelligence Committees in the House and Senate. So, this is really me being an analyst, looking at everything that's available, right?
The first thing I'd say is that there may be a benign explanation for all of this. What might that be? The benign explanation is that Vladimir Putin, understanding who Donald Trump was as a person, understanding how narcissistic he is, played to Donald Trump by saying he was a great guy'--right? Had the potential to be a great leader, et cetera, et cetera.
And Trump responded exactly the way Putin wanted him to by reciprocating, right? Great leader, et cetera, et cetera. Right? Maybe what he did in Ukraine and Crimea was all right. Who are we to say? You know, Putin's killed all these people, but so do we. You know, try to put this in perspective. Right? All of these things that Trump said could have been simply in response to Putin playing him, and playing his personality.
You know, when all that happened, of course, the media and the Clinton campaign jumped all over Donald Trump, right?'--and said, ''Boy, look at what this guy's saying,'' right? ''This is inconsistent with the world in which we live in.'' It is possible at that moment, that Steve Bannon and Steve Miller and Sebastian Gorka walked into Trump's office in Trump Tower and said, ''You know, you're being criticized for what you said about Putin and Russia, but, boss, you're right. Right? You're absolutely right, and let us give you the intellectual context in which to think about this. And the intellectual context in which to think about it is, we actually need Russia as a partner, to push back against the two biggest threats that we see.''
Glasser: Right. China, yes.
Morell: Bannon, Miller and Gorka. China and Islamic extremism. And, Russia, a white, Christian country, fits'--
Glasser: Their worldview.
Morell: Their worldview. Right? So, Putin might have played him, and then Bannon gives him an intellectual framework to say, ''You're right. Keep talking about this.'' So, that is the totally benign view.
Am I open to the possibility that there is a malign view? Absolutely. I don't discard that. I've been criticized by some people on the left for saying I don't see any evidence here of a crime. I still don't see any evidence of a crime. It doesn't mean there is any. I just don't see it.
Glasser: Including evidence of obstruction of justice?
Morell: So, let's talk about what I think the possibilities are, going forward. So, I would not be surprised if Bob Mueller concludes that the Trump campaign did not violate the law with regard to its interactions with the Russians. I'm really open to that possibility. Why? Because, as you know, The New York Times, The Washington Post, every media outlet that is worth its salt has reporters digging into this, and they haven't found anything.
And I think that, had there been something there, they would have found something. And I think Bob Mueller would have found it already and it would have leaked.
So, I'm really open to the possibility that there's no there there on a crime being committed by the campaign and the Russians. Right? That interaction leading to criminal charges.
The second point I'd make is that I wouldn't be surprised if there were single individuals who were associated with the campaign who violated the law with respect to their interactions with the Russians on the election. Paul Manafort comes to mind. I think he has little to no integrity. There's no way you spend that much time with the old Ukrainian government and not bump up against Russian intelligence officers a lot.
I wouldn't be surprised if there were single individuals who faced criminal charges here with regard to their interactions with the Russians, and Paul Manafort's a possibility. But that's different than a conspiracy by the campaign, right?
The third thing I'd say is, every FBI investigation that I've ever had visibility into or been involved in, the people who they're looking at actually don't end up getting charged with the crime they were being investigated for. They get charged with something else. Right? And that something else in this case could be the laundering of Russian organized crime funds. And if that was done by the Trump organization'--if that was done knowingly'--it's a criminal violation.
If it was done unwittingly, because you didn't do the due diligence that's required under U.S. law for where the money is coming from, from overseas'--it's a civil penalty. And the Trump organization gets fined. What the politics of all that is, I have no idea. That's the third thing I'd say.
The fourth thing I'd say is, the obstruction of justice issue. In my view, when I read the statute, boy, it looks'--you know, it looks like you could make a case. Now, the hard part is intent. Right? You have to intend to violate the statute. You have to intend to obstruct justice. That's the difficult piece to prove here.
You need something on paper, or you need somebody who heard the president say something about what he was trying to do here, or you need him to tell you that. Right? Well, he's not going to do that. And so, while it looks like it to all of us, that that's what he was trying to do'--you've got to get to that intent part, and that's what's hard from a criminal perspective.
Glasser: So, well, it goes to Donald Trump's state of mind, which is the other question I would ask you, with your intelligence analyst hat on. If you were the presidential daily briefer for Emmanuel Macron, or Vladimir Putin, for that matter'--what would you tell that president about our president?
Morell: What I would say is'--you know, I worked for 33 years at CIA. I watched a lot of foreign leaders. There's a spectrum of narcissism among human beings. Right?
Glasser: Foreign leaders often'--leaders have a lot of it.
Morell: Leaders of any country, right? They have a lot of it. Right? They are one or two standard deviations to the right of the mean. President Trump is no different from that, and in fact, he might be three or four standard deviations out. Right?
So, what I would say is, ''Play to his narcissism. Play to his narcissism.'' I think some leaders have done that exceptionally well. I think Prime Minister Abe of Japan has done it. I think Xi Jinping has done it. I think Macron has done it. There are some leaders who simply can't bring themselves to do it, like Angela Merkel. She just'--bless her heart'--she can't bring herself to do it.
But, play to his narcissism. Tell him he's great. Tell him you want to help him. And then leave the details of the policy to your ministers. Right? So, from ministers to U.S. Cabinet officials, leave the details. Don't talk about details with the president, just'--
Glasser: Pretend you agree. Well, is it narcissism? Is it something more than that, though? Do you believe there's some sort of an impairment?
Morell: I don't know. I think narcissism itself is an impairment. Right?
Glasser: Speaking of'--by the way, the mental state of people'--there's been a little bit of a controversy this year about Kim Jong Un and whether the United States government assesses him to be crazy in some way, or a rational actor. And there was an interesting testimony at an open conference by a CIA analyst, who said he is a rational actor.
Morell: Yes.
Glasser: But Donald Trump disagrees. What do you think?
Morell: He is. He is most definitely a rational actor. Within his worldview, right?
Glasser: Right.
Morell: And his worldview is not that different from Putin's. His worldview is that the United States wants to overthrow him.
Glasser: Is out to get him, yeah, which is not wrong.
Morell: No. No, it is wrong. It is wrong. The United States of America doesn't care whether there's a North Korea. Right? The United States wants Kim Jong Un to stop his behavior that is threatening to us. If he does that, he is welcome to stay up there and run North Korea for as long as he wants. That is our view.
We are not trying to reunite the peninsula on the South's terms. We are not trying to drive him from power. Right? We're not.
Glasser: But, as a matter of policy, though, I believe it is our policy that we are very sorry for the people of North Korea that they live in such a totalitarian dictatorship.
Morell: Absolutely, but our'--
Glasser: And we would prefer for their sake that they not live under it, but we're not pursuing a policy of active regime change. That's the difference.
Morell: Correct. Correct.
Glasser: I do believe it is our policy, actually, to oppose the North Korean regime, not just on nuclear weapons, but'--
Morell: But across the board, right. But the most important stuff'--
Glasser: Fair enough. I just wanted to clarify that we do actually care about the people of North Korea.
Morell: Yes, we do. Yes, we do. But the most important thing here, right'--I mean, we care about human rights'--the most important thing here is protecting U.S. cities from nuclear attack.
Glasser: Yes. We can definitely all agree on that.
Morell: Yes.
Glasser: Definitely. Well, I'm glad you clarified that point, though, on Kim Jong Un, because you do see that recur over and over again as an issue. I know we're running out of time here.
So, we've talked Russia; we've talked Russiagate. Are there things that worry you, or that keep you up at night, that you think we are not paying attention to because we're so obsessed with things like Donald Trump's Twitter feed, and whether we're going to have a nuclear war with North Korea, and Russia?
Morell: I'm smiling because'--so, when I was deputy director, and I would do public events, or go to college campuses and talk to people and so forth and so on, I would always get asked what's the one thing that keeps you up at night? Right? And I felt when I was in the job of deputy or acting director that I needed to answer it with a national security answer. So my answer was always terrorists with nuclear weapons. Right? That's what keeps me up at night. And it still does. I still worry about that. Both Al Qaeda and Isis and other groups have said, ''We'd like to get our hands on weapons of mass destruction, and we would use them.''
But the thing, Susan, that really keeps me up at night is that, at the end of the day the most important determinant of a country's national security is the health of its economy and its society. Right? So, the thing that really keeps me up at night is the dysfunction in Washington that makes it impossible for people to come together and to compromise and make decisions that move our economy and our society forward. That is the most dangerous thing that we face.
I think Senator Corker essentially said that a couple weeks ago. Right? The biggest threat to the United States is us.
Glasser: Is ourselves. Do you think Donald Trump has been as bad as you feared?
Morell: I think that his instincts have been as bad as I feared. I think that we are very lucky to have people like Jim Mattis, and people like H.R. McMaster, and people like Dan Coats and others, who are able to pull him back from where his instincts are.
In some cases, they haven't succeeded, like on Paris. In other cases, they pulled him halfway back, like on Iran. I think his initial instinct was rip up the deal. I think they pulled him back. I think on issues like Afghanistan, they've pulled him all the way back to'--I think his initial instinct on Afghanistan was to get out, and they pulled him all the way back to a long-term commitment.
So, I think that his instincts are what I feared. We're very lucky to have people who are willing to take on his instincts and to debate and question him to the point where he is willing to change his mind.
Glasser: Well, the question is also, if he's going to change his mind, or do it only for a short amount of time. Jerusalem is another example of something where maybe people thought he'd changed his mind because he didn't do it right at the opening strokes of January 20th, as he initially planned to do. But then you see, ten months later, that he is not really deterred from what was his'--
Morell: Right. And I would probably'--I mean, I don't know what the internal debates were, but I would bet his national security team was undoubtedly unified in not thinking this was a good idea.
Glasser: Well, that's right. And that's the other thing we've learned that we didn't know a year ago. Which was that, Trump placed great faith, on one hand, in all these big, brawny, military officers, current and former, but on the other hand, we've learned in a year that he's willing to disregard their professional advice.
Morell: And I think there's examples on both sides, right? I think that in some cases'--look, it's difficult over time to fight every day, to struggle every day with your boss. And it can wear you down. Right? And I hope that people like Jim Mattis and H.R. McMaster and John Kelly aren't getting worn down.
Glasser: Well, you know, it's interesting. While we were sitting here in this conversation, I just got an email saying that Dina Powell, the president's deputy national security sdvisor, and by all accounts played a key early role. She was a Bush administration veteran, has been someone who has been helpful in translating General McMaster to Trump and his circle, is leaving. And so, another interesting data point.
Morell: We don't know why she's leaving, right, but that would be an example of getting worn down to the point where you lose somebody of Dina's talent, worldview, perspective, that is consistent with, in my view, the right worldview, that the U.S. has to play a leadership role in the world'--that maybe she's gotten worn down.
Glasser: Well, not to mention the fact, I have to say, every time I look at a picture of a Trump meeting with a major foreign leader, especially like in the Middle East, Dina's the only woman at the table. Always. Always. And so, who knows what that would be?
So, a final thought as we leave this really stimulating and interesting conversation. We've been pretty Russia-focused today, but I do love that you've jumped on over to the side of the fence and after three decades in the most secretive and closed organization in the United States, you are now a host of your own podcast. You're a public commentator. You're a journalist. What's it like to be on the other side of the First Amendment?
Morell: I believe deeply in the role of the media. I just finished watching Ken Burns' The Vietnam War.
Glasser: The Vietnam series'--I'm halfway through.
Morell: I think it should be required watching for every American. Right? And what you see when you watch that is multiple presidents not only making the wrong decision, but actually lying to the American people. And the role of the media in making transparent the decisions the government is making and why they're making them is extraordinarily important to our democracy. And it is very, very important that that Fourth Estate be vibrant and strong, very, very important.
And I'm worried about that a little bit. My college son a few months ago sent me an email and said, ''Dad, you need to read this book on Hugo Chavez.'' And he said, ''You need to read it because the parallels between Chavez and Trump are striking.'' So I got the book and I read it. And there's some parallels, and there's some similarities, and there's as many differences, I thought. But there was something that really struck me, and it has to do with the media business.
And what struck me was that, when Hugo Chavez first got elected there was no political opposition. It had faded away. There was no opposition leader to stand up and paint a different future for Venezuela, one that challenged Chavez's future. And, as a result of there being no political opposition, the Venezuelan media became the political opposition. And in becoming the political opposition, it lost all of its credibility with the Venezuelan people. Sound familiar?
Glasser: Yes.
Morell: So, I think that as important as the media's role is here'--and it's probably more important today than it ever has been, given where we are'--the media has to absolutely make certain that they are playing this straight. Right? And that they aren't taking sides in any way.
Glasser: You know, I'm so glad you brought this up, and I think this is a very powerful point. And really, this has been one of my favorite episodes, I think, of The Global POLITICO. I'm really grateful to you for spending the time with us.
Our guest this week at The Global POLITICO, Michael Morrell, former director of the CIA, and all-around smart guy.
Morell: Susan, great to be with you. Thank you.
Glasser: Thank you to our listeners, as well. You can listen to us at The Global POLITICO on your favorite podcast platform, iTunes or anything else. You can email me any time'--and I do love to hear from you. I've heard from a lot listeners over time. sglasser@politico.com. I think we're well over the 2 million listeners downloaded mark. I hope you can pass on the word about The Global POLITICO and keep listening to us well into 2018, and beyond. Thank you.
Susan Glasser is POLITICO's chief international affairs columnist and host of its new weekly podcast, The Global Politico.
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VIDEO - Nancy Pelosi says the tax bill is the "end of the world" - YouTube
Mon, 11 Dec 2017 18:12
VIDEO - Celebrity chef Mario Batali accused of sexual harassment by multiple women - AOL Entertainment
Mon, 11 Dec 2017 17:52
Movie producer Harvey Weinstein is accused of sexually assaulting or harassing dozens of women, including a number of well-known celebrities, over the past several decades.
(REUTERS/Gus Ruelas)
Matt Lauer was fired from 'Today' after multiple women accused him of sexual misconduct that allegedly included giving a co-worker a sex toy and dropping his pants in front of a female employee in his office.
(REUTERS/Mike Segar)
Actor Jeffrey Tambor has been accused of sexual assault by two women from the Amazon series, "Transparent."
(REUTERS/Danny Moloshok)
Sen. Al Franken is accused of kissing a groping a woman without her consent during a United Service Organizations (USO) tour in 2006.
(Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Eleven women have come forward accusing President Donald Trump of unwanted touching or kissing. Trump has called the sexual harassment claims 'fake news.'
(Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
Rep. Ruben Kihuen, (D) Nevada, was accused of making repeated, unwanted propositions for dates and sex to a woman that once worked on his campaign.
(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Hundreds of women accused longtime Hollywood writer and director James Toback of sexual harassment.
Comedian Louis C.K. has been accused of forcing women to watch him masturbate, according to the New York Times.
(Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images)
Director Bret Ratner has been accused of sexual harassment by several women, including actresses Olivia Munn and Natasha Henstridge.
(Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
Actor Anthony Rapp accused Kevin Spacey of making a sexual advance towards him when he was 14 years old.
(REUTERS/Danny Moloshok)
Roger Ailes, the former president of Fox News Channel, was accused of sexually harassing former anchor Gretchen Carlson and several other women from the network.
(Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images)
Several women accused TV host Charlie Rose of sexual misconduct, including groping and lewd phone calls.
(Photo by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images)
Bill Cosby has faced sexual assault allegations from about 60 women, including several women who claim he drugged them.
(Photo by Gilbert Carrasquillo/Getty Images)
Mark Schwahn, the former "One Tree Hill" showrunner, was accused of sexual harassment by a large number of the show's cast and crew.
(Photo by JB Lacroix/WireImage)
Roy Moore faced multiple allegations of sexual misconduct with underaged girls.
(REUTERS/Marvin Gentry)
Bill Clinton faced numerous allegations of sexual assault and misconduct while he was president of the United States, with accusers including Juanita Broaddrick, who accused him of rape, Kathleen Willey who said he groped her and Paula Jones who said he exposed himself to her without consent.
(Photo by Dirck Halstead/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)
Actor Casey Affleck settled lawsuits out of court wth two women who accused him of sexual harassment.
(Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Film Independent)
Bill O'Reilly has reportedly made numerous settlements with women who accused him of sexual harassment.
(Photo by: Nathan Congleton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
Anthony Weiner, a former Democratic congressman was sentenced to 21 months in prison in September 2017 after pleading guilty to sexting a teenage girl.
Veteran journalist Mark Halperin has been accused of sexually harassing women while he worked at ABC News.
(Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
Singer R. Kelly is accused of holding women against their will in houses in Illinois and Georgia in a reported 'sex cult.'
(Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images)
Former Fox Host Eric Bolling was accused of sending unsolicited lewd text messages to female colleagues.
(Photo by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images)
Director Roman Polanski fled the US after pleading guilty to unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor. Several other women have also come forward to accuse him of sexual assault.
(REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann)
Chef John Besh stepped down from the company he founded after female employees reported facing sexual harassment there.
(Photo by Mireya Acierto/Getty Images for NYCWFF)
Photographer Terry Richardson was labeled the 'Harvey Weinstein of Fashion' by the Sunday Times amid widespread accusations of sexual harassment by models.
(Photo by Eugene Gologursky/WireImage)
Singer Kesha accused Lukasz Gottwald aka Dr. Luke of drugging and sexually assaulting her on multiple occasions.
(Photo by Tommaso Boddi/WireImage)
Former champion boxer Mike Tyson was convicted of raping a Miss Black America contestant in 1992.
(REUTERS/Michael Clevenger/POOL)
Former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar has been accused of sexual abuse by dozens of his former patients and athletes.
Music mogul L.A. Reid left his position as Epic Records CEO/Chairman in 2017 amid harassment claims by a female assistant.
(Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images)
Amazon Studios chief Roy Price resigned following reports that he harassed a producer and ignored an actress' allegation of sexual assault by Harvey Weinstein.
(Photo by Paul Zimmerman/WireImage)
Several women have accused former President George H.W. Bush of groping them during photo ops.
(REUTERS/Adrees Latif)
Chris Savino (right), creator of 'The Loud House' was suspended by Nickelodeon after being accused of making unwanted advances toward multiple women.
(Photo by Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for SCAD)
Actor Steven Seagal was accused of sexual misconduct by Inside Edition's chief investigative correspondent Lisa Guerrero.
(Photo by Paul Archuleta/Getty Images,)
Michael Oreskes, senior vice president of news and editorial director of National Public Radio, was accused of inappropriate conduct with two women in 1990s.
(REUTERS/Fadi Al-Assaad)
Dustin Hoffman was accused of sexually harassing a production assistant when he was 48 and she was a high school senior.
(REUTERS/Stephane Mahe)
Jeremy Piven was accused by actress Ariane Bellamar of groping her on two separate occasions. Piven 'unequivocally' denied the allegations.
(REUTERS/Mike Blake)
Ben Affleck apologized for acting 'inappropriately' towards Hilarie Burton during an appearance on MTV's "Total Request Live" in 2003.
(REUTER/Dylan Martinez
Andy Dick was accused of sexual harassment and misconduct on set, including groping people's genitals, unwanted kissing/licking and sexual propositions.
(Photo by Earl Gibson III/Getty Images)
Four women, including several that were also fellow Scientologists, have accused actor Danny Masterson of sexual assault, according to HuffPost.
(Photo by Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic)
Actor Ed Westwick was accused by actress Kristina Cohen of raping her in his home.
(REUTERS/Danny Moloshok)
David Guillod, producer of 'Atomic Blonde,' is accused of drugging and sexually assaulting several woman.
(Photo by Jennifer Lourie/Getty Images)
Andrew Kreisberg, the showrunner for "Supergirl," was suspended in November 2017 amid numerous sexual harassment allegations by members of his staff.
(Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
Actor Tom Sizemore was reportedly told to leave a film set in 2003 after an 11-year-old actress told her mother that he had touched her genitals.
(REUTERS/Phil McCarten)
Steve Jurvetson left his own venture capital firm after allegations of sexual harassment(Photo by Steve Jennings/Getty Images for TechCrunch)
A former model accused George Takei of sexually assaulting him 36 years ago.
(Photo by Tara Ziemba/FilmMagic)
Olympic gold medalist Hope Solo accused former FIFA president Sepp Blatter of sexually assaulted her at an award ceremony in 2013.
(REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann)
A former writer for 'Mad Men' said the show's creator Matthew Weiner told her that she owed it to him to let him see her naked.
(REUTERS/Danny Moloshok)
Ron Jeremy has been accused of sexually assaulting more than a dozen women and the allegations span more than 30 years.
(Photo by Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic)
Multiple women accused producer Adam Fields of touching them inappropriately and sexually propositioning them.
(Photo by Taylor Hill/WireImage)
Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) has been accused of unwanted sexual advances by former staffers.
(Jonathan Ernst / Reuters)
John Lasseter, the head of Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios, was accused of crossing the line with employees, including unwanted hugs.
(Photo by Gregg DeGuire/WireImage)
Singer Nick Carter was accused of rape by a former member of the all-girl teen band Dream, Melissa Schuman.
(Photo by Ray Tamarra/GC Images)
A singer accused billionaire Richard Branson of sexual assault during an event as his Necker Island in the Caribbean. Branson says he has no recollection of the matter.
(REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson)
Talent agent Adam Venit is accused of grabbing actor Terry Crews' genitals.
(Photo by Amanda Edwards/Getty Images)
Jeordie White (aka Twiggy Ramirez), Marilyn Manson former longtime bassist, was accused of rape by singer Jessicka Addams.
(Photo by Chris Weeks/WireImage for Bragman Nyman Cafarelli)
Lockhart Steele, Vox Media's editorial director was fired after a former employee accused him of sexual harassment.
(Photo by Hal Horowitz/WireImage for Haute Magazine)
Producer Bob Weinstein, Harvey Weinstein's brother, has also been accused of sexual harassment.
(Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images for The Weinstein Company)
Jesse Lacey of the band, Brand New, was accused of sexual misconduct, including soliciting nude photos from a teen girl in the past.
(Photo by Daniel Boczarski/Redferns)
Senior Correspondent for E! News Ken Baker California was accused of sexual harassment by two women.
(Photo by Leon Bennett/Getty Images)
American film director Oliver Stone was accused of groping model and actress Carrie Stevens in the 1990s.
(Photo by Valery Sharifulin\TASS via Getty Images)
Reporter Glenn Thrush was suspended by the New York Times after several women accused him of acting inappropriately when they were young journalists.
(Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images for SiriusXM)
Veteran radio host Garrison Keillor was fired by Minnesota Public Radio following claim of improper behavior.
(Photo by Al Pereira/WireImage)
CNN producer Teddy Davis was fired after multiple accusations of harassment.(Photo via Twitter)
Producer Russell Simmons stepped down from his companies following sexual assault and harassment accusations from two women.
(REUTERS/Carlo Allegri)
Longtime conductor James Levine was suspended by New York's Metropolitan Opera after sexual abuse claims.
(Photo by Hiroyuki Ito/Getty Images)
Dylan Howard, editor in chief of the National Enquirer, was accused of sexual misconduct by several former employees, including forcing them to watch porn and openly discussing his sexual partners.
(REUTERS/Lucas Jackson)
"X-Men" director Bryan Singer was accused of raping a 17-year-old boy on a yacht in a lawsuit filed in December.
(REUTERS/Hannah McKay)
Harold Ford, Jr., managing director at Morgan Stanley, speaks during the SkyBridge Alternatives (SALT) Asia conference in Singapore, on Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2013. The SALT Asia conference, organized by SkyBridge Capital II LLC, runs until Sept. 27. Photographer: Munshi Ahmed/Bloomberg via Getty Images
VIDEO - 'All of our team was in tears': Video shows polar bear starving in the North - Home | As It Happens | CBC Radio
Mon, 11 Dec 2017 17:51
Friday December 08, 2017
more stories from this episodeRead Story Transcript
A video shows disturbing images of a starving polar bear, and the conservation group that filmed it believes climate change may be to blame.
In the clip, the emaciated animal, bones visible through its yellowing fur, struggles to walk as it searches for food in an abandoned fishing camp.
The July video was captured by SeaLegacy filmmakers on Somerset Island, near Baffin Island in Nunavut, where they were shooting a documentary about the effects of climate change.
"When the animal first got up and we could see that he was actually in the late stages of starvation. It was incredibly shocking," SeaLegacy co-founder Cristina Mittermeier told As It Happens guest host Jim Brown.
She said she suspects the animal's condition is linked to climate change, but says she can't be certain.
"It is impossible to tell why he was in this state. Maybe it could've been because of an injury or disease," Mittermeier said.
In the video, the bear makes its way to a trash bin and pulls out its meal.
"It looked like a piece of the seat from a snowmobile," she said. "That's what it was eating '-- this foam that was burned and charred and absolutely not edible."
The scene was emotional for the photographers and crew.
"All of our team was in tears and feeling completely helpless to do anything about it except to roll our cameras and share it with the world."
More summer, less ice Polar bears rely on sea ice to access their main food sources: seal and walrus. In many parts of the Arctic, where the SeaLegacy team filmed for several weeks, the mammals are thriving.
But in this part of the Arctic, winters are shrinking, causing sea ice to melt before the bears can gather enough food to last them through hibernation.
Conservation group SeaLegacy has released video of an emaciated polar bear near the Baffin Islands. They say climate change has led the animal to starvation. (SeaLegacy/Caters News)
"We hear from scientists that in the next 100 to 150 years, we're going to lose polar bears," Mittermeier said.
"We wanted the world to see what starvation of a majestic animal like this looks like."
Nothing they could do The video left many worried. Some wondered why the crew and photographers didn't intervene.
Mittermeier said that while the scene was difficult for her and her team to witness, there was nothing they could do.
"People need to understand that polar bears can eat several hundreds of pounds of seal meat in a matter of days," Mittermeier said.
Paul Nicklen, SeaLegacy co-founder and photographer, told National Geographic: "It's not like I walk around with a tranquilizer gun or 400 pounds of seal meat."
Even if they had enough food to feed the animal, it's not only dangerous, but illegal to approach a polar bear in the wild.
Mittermeier said she also believes that the bear had only days left to live, so any action would have prolonged its suffering.
Not everything is at it seems Though it's possible that climate change is responsible for the bear's sickly appearance, some caution that it may be premature to jump to that conclusion based on a video.
A similar photo surfaced on social media in 2015.
German Arctic nature guide Kerstin Langenberger posted a widely shared Facebook post of a similarly emaciated bear, this one on a floe.
"A mere skeleton, hurt on her front leg, possibly by a desperate attempt to hunt a walrus while she was stuck on land," Langenberger wrote.
The state of this bear was linked to climate change in a post by photographer Kerstin Langenberger on her Facebook page. The photo has been shared more than 52,000 times. (Kerstin Langenberger/Facebook)
She continued, arguing that human-made climate change led the bear to starve.
But Ian Stirling from the University of Alberta told the U.K.'s Metro News that a bear like this could be sick or simply old.
"A difficulty hunting could be involved. I don't think you can tie that one to starvation because of lack of sea ice," he continued.
While Mittermeier said the bear had no obvious injuries and she believes it was too young to die of old age, she contends that's irrelevant.
"The point is that it was starving, and ... as we lose sea ice in the Arctic, polar bears will starve."
Biologist Nick Lunn takes measurements and samples from a tranquilized polar bear near Churchill, Man. (Amy Johnson/Churchill Northern Studies Centre)
Moving forward According to recent research by biologist Nick Lunn, polar bear populations in northern Manitoba are down by a third since the 1980s. They're also spending, on average, 30 days longer per year on land.
"That is cause for concern, but it's also a warning bell," he told CBC News last month.
He believes that polar bears could disappear from that area in 20 to 40 years unless the planet cools.
That's why Mittermeier hopes that this video will spark a broader conversation around conservation efforts.
"There are solutions in place to slow down the emissions of fossil fuels and draw down carbon from the atmosphere," she says.
"There's things that are already in place that we can all be participating in and demanding that our governments do on our behalf."
VIDEO - Former Facebook exec says social media is ripping apart society - The Verge
Mon, 11 Dec 2017 17:41
Another former Facebook executive has spoken out about the harm the social network is doing to civil society around the world. Chamath Palihapitiya, who joined Facebook in 2007 and became its vice president for user growth, said he feels ''tremendous guilt'' about the company he helped make. ''I think we have created tools that are ripping apart the social fabric of how society works,'' he told an audience at Stanford Graduate School of Business, before recommending people take a ''hard break'' from social media.
Palihapitiya's criticisms were aimed not only at Facebook, but the wider online ecosystem. ''The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops we've created are destroying how society works,'' he said, referring to online interactions driven by ''hearts, likes, thumbs-up.'' ''No civil discourse, no cooperation; misinformation, mistruth. And it's not an American problem '-- this is not about Russians ads. This is a global problem.''
He went on to describe an incident in India where hoax messages about kidnappings shared on WhatsApp led to the lynching of seven innocent people. ''That's what we're dealing with,'' said Palihapitiya. ''And imagine taking that to the extreme, where bad actors can now manipulate large swathes of people to do anything you want. It's just a really, really bad state of affairs.'' He says he tries to use Facebook as little as possible, and that his children ''aren't allowed to use that shit.'' He later adds, though, that he believes the company ''overwhelmingly does good in the world.''
Palihapitiya's remarks follow similar statements of contrition from others who helped build Facebook into the powerful corporation it is today. In November, early investor Sean Parker said he has become a ''conscientious objector'' to social media, and that Facebook and others had succeeded by ''exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology.'' A former product manager at the company, Antonio Garcia-Martinez, has said Facebook lies about its ability to influence individuals based on the data it collects on them, and wrote a book, Chaos Monkeys, about his work at the firm.
These former employees have all spoken out at a time when worry about Facebook's power is reaching fever pitch. In the past year, concerns about the company's role in the US election and its capacity to amplify fake news have grown, while other reports have focused on how the social media site has been implicated in atrocities like the ''ethnic cleansing'' of Myanmar's Rohingya ethnic group.
In his talk, Palihapitiya criticized not only Facebook, but Silicon Valley's entire system of venture capital funding. He said that investors pump money into ''shitty, useless, idiotic companies,'' rather than addressing real problems like climate change and disease. Palihapitiya currently runs his own VC firm, Social Capital, which focuses on funding companies in sectors like healthcare and education.
Palihapitiya also notes that although tech investors seem almighty, they've achieved their power more through luck than skill. ''Everybody's bullshitting,'' he said. ''If you're in a seat, and you have good deal flow, and you have precious capital, and there's a massive tailwind of technological change ... Over time you get one of the 20 [companies that become successful] and you look like a genius. And nobody wants to admit that but that's the fucking truth.''
VIDEO - Your Comments On The Masterpiece Cakeshop Case | On Point
Mon, 11 Dec 2017 17:40
In this March 10, 2014 photo, Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips decorates a cake inside his store, in Lakewood, Colo. Phillips is appealing a recent ruling against him in a legal complaint filed with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission by a gay couple he refused to make a wedding cake for, based on his religious beliefs. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)Our show Wednesday on the Masterpiece Cakeshop case at the Supreme Court drew flood of comments from our listeners on the issue that will affect gay rights and freedom of religion.
Here are some of the highlights, from our callers and our Twitter, Facebook and email accounts on the discussion about whether a Christian baker should be able to refuse to make a cake for a gay wedding.
We got a bunch via email, too.
Sean in North Carolina says:
There are literally thousands of occupations which involve some degree of artistry. If artistry enables discrimination, every restaurant in the nation can go back to Jim Crow.
David in Sewanee, Tennessee, says:
Isn't photography an expressive art? Isn't cooking a meal? Isn't making a cup of espresso?
Where do we draw the line? If this case is decided in favor of the baker, what happens to any public accommodations law designed to protect Civil Rights?
And on Facebook '-- well, there was quite a lot there, too. Here's our post on the subject, where you'll find a spirited debate.
Tom from Detroit called in with a simple message: What would Jesus do? He said Jesus would bake the cake. As an African American, Tom said he was concerned that the logic of this case could mean black people would also be denied service.
Related audio
This segment aired on December 6, 2017.
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VIDEO - The Inconvenient Truth About Polar Bears : NPR
Mon, 11 Dec 2017 17:37
The Inconvenient Truth About Polar Bears : NPRThe Inconvenient Truth About Polar BearsZac Unger moved to Churchill, Manitoba, to cover the decline of the polar bear. It was 2008, and the adorable predators had become symbols in the battle over climate change. But the story he ended up writing in his new book was more complicated than he expected.
Bill O'Reilly: Secret Tape Exists Of Woman Offered $200K To File Sexual Harassment Charges Against Trump (AUDIO) | Zero Hedge
Thu, 14 Dec 2017 11:35
Content originally published at iBankCoin.com
Hours after several of Donald Trump's accusers assembled for a Monday press conference to call on congress to launch an investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct lodged against the President, Bill O'Reilly appeared on Glenn Beck's radio show to discuss what he claims is the existence of a tape showing a woman being offered $200,000 to accuse Donald Trump of 'untoward behavior.'
O'Reilly told Beck that his lawyer listened to the tape and that there are at least three crimes contained on it:
O'Reilly: There is a tape, Beck, an audio tape of an anti-Trump person offering $200,000 to a woman to accuse Donald Trump of untoward behavior.
Beck: Is this tape going to be released?
O'Reilly: I may have to go to the US Attorney myself. I don't wanna have to do that and inject myself into the story, but I had my lawyer listen to the tape. He's listened to it. There are at least three crimes on the tape. So as a citizen, I may have to do this.
Beck: I will tell you Bill, the first thing that you say - well I'm trying to get it, I'm trying to get it so it can be released. You weren't talking about getting it for YOU to release it, but it had to be out there. And I think the first time I said to you, I mean, if they don't - you've gotta bring it to the US Attorney.
O'Reilly: Again, it's in the hands of someone who knows the seriousness of the situation.
Beck: What is their hesitancy?
O'Reilly: You know, I can't really get into that at this point. But I can tell you that Donald Trump knows about the tape. And I'm, for the life of me, sitting here going "Why on earth are you allowing a movement to try to smear you when you have a powerful - and I mean it's powerful - piece of evidence that shows that this is an industry. That there are false charges and money changing hands." It's so frustrating but I wanted your listeners to know it, it's there, it's amazing, and it will change the whole discussion if it ever gets out.
Watch below:
O'Reilly first divulged the existence of the tape six weeks ago in a largely unnoticed interview with Newsmax:
O'Reilly told Newsmax on Monday that investigators working for him had uncovered an audio recording of "an anti-Trump attorney" offering an unidentified woman $200,000 to file sexual harassment charges against then-presidential candidate Donald J. Trump.
"It exists," O'Reilly said. "We have urged the person who has the tape to hand it over to the U.S. attorney, because my investigative team believes there are three separate crimes on the audio tape."
O'Reilly tells Newsmax his attorneys have listened to the tape. O'Reilly stated he is not in possession of the recording, but the conversation is believed to have taken place before last year's presidential election.
"It's related to my situation," O'Reilly insists, "and when the tape emerges, you will see why. I can't say any more than that, but it is related to my situation."
With the 'Russiagate' witch hunt fizzling out amid revelations that Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe is stacked with several anti-Trump team investigators, O'Reilly warns that there's going to be a huge push to rehash sexual misconduct allegations against the President. While several of these claims have been debunked or refuted, and Trump even threatening to sue the NYT at one point, it will come as a surprise to exactly nobody if and when 'Russiagate' shifts into 'Gropegate' in 2018.
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