996: Rats on a Plane

Adam Curry & John C. Dvorak

2h 58m
January 4th, 2018
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Executive Producers: Anonymous CPA, Sir Black Balls of TWiT, Baron of Logan Square, Timothy Gross, Anonymous, Viscount Sir Nils Bonacker

Associate Executive Producers: Sir JW, Knight of the Social Media, Dennis Price

Cover Artist: Mark G


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Magnitude 4.5 earthquake rocks San Francisco Bay area
Thu, 04 Jan 2018 15:22
Jerry Trudell | Getty Images
Downtown Oakland, California.
A preliminary magnitude 4.5 earthquake shook San Francisco Bay Area residents out of their slumber early Thursday.
The U.S. Geological Survey says the quake's epicenter was 2 miles (3 kilometers) from Berkeley, California. The earthquake had a preliminary depth of 8 miles (13 kilometers).
No damage or injuries was immediately recorded.
The USGS website says people reported feeling the quake 40 miles (64 kilometers) south in San Jose.
Why most computers are about to get slower - NZ Herald
Thu, 04 Jan 2018 12:49
Tech company Intel has confirmed a report saying that its chips contain a feature that makes them vulnerable to hacking.
But the company disputed that its products contain a "bug" or a "flaw," as reported by the technology website The Register on Tuesday.
Software giants are moving quickly on a fix but industry experts have warned it could potentially slow down all devices running the chips by up to 30 per cent, reports the Telegraph.
Intel's microprocessors are the fundamental building block of the internet, corporate networks and PCs. The company has added to its designs over the years trying to make computers less vulnerable to attack, arguing that hardware security is typically tougher to crack than software.
"Intel and other technology companies have been made aware of new security research describing software analysis methods that, when used for malicious purposes, have the potential to improperly gather sensitive data from computing devices that are operating as designed," Intel said in a statement. "Intel believes these exploits do not have the potential to corrupt, modify or delete data."
Companies including Advanced Micro Devices Inc. and ARM Holdings are working with Intel and operating system makers to develop an industry-wide approach to resolving the issue, according to the statement. Intel said it's begun providing software to help mitigate the potential exploits. Impacts on performance depend on the task the computer is performing and for the average user "should not be significant and will be mitigated over time."
Kernel-memory-leaking Intel processor design flaw forces Linux, Windows redesign ' The Register
Thu, 04 Jan 2018 14:01
Final update A fundamental design flaw in Intel's processor chips has forced a significant redesign of the Linux and Windows kernels to defang the chip-level security bug.
Programmers are scrambling to overhaul the open-source Linux kernel's virtual memory system. Meanwhile, Microsoft is expected to publicly introduce the necessary changes to its Windows operating system in an upcoming Patch Tuesday: these changes were seeded to beta testers running fast-ring Windows Insider builds in November and December.
Crucially, these updates to both Linux and Windows will incur a performance hit on Intel products. The effects are still being benchmarked, however we're looking at a ballpark figure of five to 30 per cent slow down, depending on the task and the processor model. More recent Intel chips have features '' such as PCID '' to reduce the performance hit. Your mileage may vary.
Similar operating systems, such as Apple's 64-bit macOS, will also need to be updated '' the flaw is in the Intel x86-64 hardware, and it appears a microcode update can't address it. It has to be fixed in software at the OS level, or go buy a new processor without the design blunder.
Details of the vulnerability within Intel's silicon are under wraps: an embargo on the specifics is due to lift early this month, perhaps in time for Microsoft's Patch Tuesday next week. Indeed, patches for the Linux kernel are available for all to see but comments in the source code have been redacted to obfuscate the issue.
However, some details of the flaw have surfaced, and so this is what we know.
Impact It is understood the bug is present in modern Intel processors produced in the past decade. It allows normal user programs '' from database applications to JavaScript in web browsers '' to discern to some extent the layout or contents of protected kernel memory areas.
The fix is to separate the kernel's memory completely from user processes using what's called Kernel Page Table Isolation, or KPTI. At one point, Forcefully Unmap Complete Kernel With Interrupt Trampolines, aka FUCKWIT, was mulled by the Linux kernel team, giving you an idea of how annoying this has been for the developers.
Whenever a running program needs to do anything useful '' such as write to a file or open a network connection '' it has to temporarily hand control of the processor to the kernel to carry out the job. To make the transition from user mode to kernel mode and back to user mode as fast and efficient as possible, the kernel is present in all processes' virtual memory address spaces, although it is invisible to these programs. When the kernel is needed, the program makes a system call, the processor switches to kernel mode and enters the kernel. When it is done, the CPU is told to switch back to user mode, and reenter the process. While in user mode, the kernel's code and data remains out of sight but present in the process's page tables.
Think of the kernel as God sitting on a cloud, looking down on Earth. It's there, and no normal being can see it, yet they can pray to it.
These KPTI patches move the kernel into a completely separate address space, so it's not just invisible to a running process, it's not even there at all. Really, this shouldn't be needed, but clearly there is a flaw in Intel's silicon that allows kernel access protections to be bypassed in some way.
The downside to this separation is that it is relatively expensive, time wise, to keep switching between two separate address spaces for every system call and for every interrupt from the hardware. These context switches do not happen instantly, and they force the processor to dump cached data and reload information from memory. This increases the kernel's overhead, and slows down the computer.
Your Intel-powered machine will run slower as a result.
How can this security hole be abused? At best, the vulnerability could be leveraged by malware and hackers to more easily exploit other security bugs.
At worst, the hole could be abused by programs and logged-in users to read the contents of the kernel's memory. Suffice to say, this is not great. The kernel's memory space is hidden from user processes and programs because it may contain all sorts of secrets, such as passwords, login keys, files cached from disk, and so on. Imagine a piece of JavaScript running in a browser, or malicious software running on a shared public cloud server, able to sniff sensitive kernel-protected data.
Specifically, in terms of the best-case scenario, it is possible the bug could be abused to defeat KASLR: kernel address space layout randomization. This is a defense mechanism used by various operating systems to place components of the kernel in randomized locations in virtual memory. This mechanism can thwart attempts to abuse other bugs within the kernel: typically, exploit code '' particularly return-oriented programming exploits '' relies on reusing computer instructions in known locations in memory.
If you randomize the placing of the kernel's code in memory, exploits can't find the internal gadgets they need to fully compromise a system. The processor flaw could be potentially exploited to figure out where in memory the kernel has positioned its data and code, hence the flurry of software patching.
However, it may be that the vulnerability in Intel's chips is worse than the above mitigation bypass. In an email to the Linux kernel mailing list over Christmas, AMD said it is not affected. The wording of that message, though, rather gives the game away as to what the underlying cockup is:
A key word here is "speculative." Modern processors, like Intel's, perform speculative execution. In order to keep their internal pipelines primed with instructions to obey, the CPU cores try their best to guess what code is going to be run next, fetch it, and execute it.
It appears, from what AMD software engineer Tom Lendacky was suggesting above, that Intel's CPUs speculatively execute code potentially without performing security checks. It seems it may be possible to craft software in such a way that the processor starts executing an instruction that would normally be blocked '' such as reading kernel memory from user mode '' and completes that instruction before the privilege level check occurs.
That would allow ring-3-level user code to read ring-0-level kernel data. And that is not good.
The specifics of the vulnerability have yet to be confirmed, but consider this: the changes to Linux and Windows are significant and are being pushed out at high speed. That suggests it's more serious than a KASLR bypass.
Also, the updates to separate kernel and user address spaces on Linux are based on a set of fixes dubbed the KAISER patches, which were created by eggheads at Graz University of Technology in Austria. These boffins discovered [PDF] it was possible to defeat KASLR by extracting memory layout information from the kernel in a side-channel attack on the CPU's virtual memory system. The team proposed splitting kernel and user spaces to prevent this information leak, and their research sparked this round of patching.
Their work was reviewed by Anders Fogh, who wrote this interesting blog post in July. That article described his attempts to read kernel memory from user mode by abusing speculative execution. Although Fogh was unable to come up with any working proof-of-concept code, he noted:
It appears the KAISER work is related to Fogh's research, and as well as developing a practical means to break KASLR by abusing virtual memory layouts, the team may have somehow proved Fogh right '' that speculative execution on Intel x86 chips can be exploited to access kernel memory.
Shared systems The bug will impact big-name cloud computing environments including Amazon EC2, Microsoft Azure, and Google Compute Engine, said a software developer blogging as Python Sweetness in this heavily shared and tweeted article on Monday:
Microsoft's Azure cloud '' which runs a lot of Linux as well as Windows '' will undergo maintenance and reboots on January 10, presumably to roll out the above fixes.
Amazon Web Services also warned customers via email to expect a major security update to land on Friday this week, without going into details.
There were rumors of a severe hypervisor bug '' possibly in Xen '' doing the rounds at the end of 2017. It may be that this hardware flaw is that rumored bug: that hypervisors can be attacked via this kernel memory access cockup, and thus need to be patched, forcing a mass restart of guest virtual machines.
A spokesperson for Intel was not available for comment. ®
Updated to add The Intel processor flaw is real. A PhD student at the systems and network security group at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam has developed a proof-of-concept program that exploits the Chipzilla flaw to read kernel memory from user mode:
The Register has also seen proof-of-concept exploit code that leaks a tiny amount of kernel memory to user processes.
Finally, macOS has been patched to counter the chip design blunder since version 10.13.2, according to operating system kernel expert Alex Ionescu. And it appears 64-bit ARM Linux kernels will also get a set of KAISER patches, completely splitting the kernel and user spaces, to block attempts to defeat KASLR. We'll be following up this week.
Final update Check out our summary of the processor bug, here, now that full details are known. Bear in mind there are two flaws at play here: one called Meltdown that mostly affects Intel, and what the above article is all about, and another one called Spectre that affects Intel, AMD, and Arm cores.
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A Battle for the Future of Iran - The Atlantic
Mon, 01 Jan 2018 10:53
Protest movements in the Middle East face enormous repressive hurdles and rarely have happy endings. Even when protesters ''succeed'' in toppling an autocrat, they've rarely succeeded in ending autocracy.
In Iran, the obstacles to success are daunting. Whereas most Middle Eastern countries are ruled by secular autocrats focused on repressing primarily Islamist opposition, Iran is an Islamist autocracy focused on repressing secular opposition. This dynamic'--unarmed, unorganized, leaderless citizens seeking economic dignity and pluralism, versus a heavily armed, organized, rapacious ruling theocracy that espouses martyrdom'--is not a recipe for success.
And yet, against this inauspicious backdrop, Iran's mushrooming anti-government protests'--although so far much smaller in scale than the country's 2009 uprising'--have been unprecedented in their geographic scope and intensity. They began December 28 in Mashhad, a Shiite pilgrimage city often considered a regime stronghold, with protesters chanting slogans like ''leave Syria alone, think about us.'' They soon spread to Qom, Iran's holiest city, where protesters expressed nostalgia for Reza Shah, the 20th-century modernizing autocrat who ruthlessly repressed the clergy. They continued in provincial towns, with thousands chanting, ''we don't want an Islamic Republic'' in Najafabad, ''death to the revolutionary guards'' in Rasht, and ''death to the dictator'' in Khoramabad. They've since spread to Tehran, and hundreds have been arrested, the BBC reported, citing Iranian officials.
What triggered these protests is a subject of debate'--some evidence suggests they were initially encouraged by hardline forces to embarrass President Hassan Rouhani'--but what has fueled them have been the same grievances that power anti-government protests everywhere: rising living costs, endemic corruption, fraud, mismanagement. In Iran, add to that bitter cocktail both political and social repression, all conducted from the moral pedestal of Islamist theocracy.
While these grievances have been festering for years and indeed decades, among the dozens of factors that distinguish today's protests from 2009 is the smartphone. In 2009'--when an estimated 2 million to 3 million Iranians protested silently in Tehran'--fewer than 1 million Iranians owned such a device, and few outside Tehran. Today, an astonishing 48 million Iranians are thought to have smartphones, all of them equipped with social media and communication apps. The app Telegram alone is thought to have 40 million users, elusive from government control, but not immune to a communications shutdown if Tehran tries to throttle the internet.
But while Iranians have a much better understanding how elsewhere is living, the rest of the world has had a less clear idea of how Iranians are living given Tehran's effective distortion of Western media coverage. Since 2009 and even before, the dogged professional journalists covering Iran'--including The Wall Street Journal's Farnaz Fassihi, The New York Times's Nazila Fathi, Newsweek's Maziar Bahar, Reuters's Parisa Hafezi and Babak Dehghanpisheh, and dozens more'--have been intimidated, expelled, and in some cases imprisoned. The few journalists remaining in Iran rightfully worry about their personal safety. Many of the best Iranian writers, scholars, and artists of their generation have been similarly banished from Iran.
Related StoriesAt the same time, the regime has provided visas and access to those whom they know will provide friendlier coverage. Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has been especially effective at manipulating Western journalists, analysts, and officials. This has created an opening for a new breed of opinion journalists and analysts'--some of whom are simultaneously seeking and promoting business opportunities in Iran'--pulling punches in order to preserve their access.
What happens now?The Iranian government has the highest per capita execution rate in the world, treats women as second class citizens, persecutes gays and religious minorities, and stifles free speech. While there is a natural inclination among decent people everywhere to want a peaceful civil rights movement to succeed in Iran, there are ample reasons to believe it will not. The regime's coercive apparatus'--the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and the Bassij milita'--are organized, armed, and abundant, and well-practiced in the brutal science of repression. Opponents of the government, in contrast, are unarmed, leaderless, and rudderless. In addition, Iran has at its disposal tens of thousands of Shia militiamen'--including Lebanese Hezbollah'--it has been cultivating for years and in some cases decades. For these battle-hardened forces, crushing unarmed Iranian protesters is a much easier task than fighting Syrian rebels or Sunni jihadists.
While some have expressed hope these protests might compel the Iranian government to try and address popular grievances, history shows us the opposite is more likely true. In the weeks and months to come, expect the regime to grow ever more repressive. Iran's security forces thrive when there is insecurity. Some Iranians even fear the IRGC has allowed the protests to fester as a pretext for expanding their authority in the name of national security.
What can the United States do?It is only natural that popular agitations against a regime whose official slogan is ''Death to America'' will elicit strong support from U.S. politicians. The question, as always, is what is the most constructive way for Washington to ''support'' such protests? In the aftermath of the 1991 Gulf war, President George H.W. Bush infamously encouraged Iraqi Shiites to rise up against Saddam Hussein. When they did so and were slaughtered by Saddam, international outrage was directed at Bush more than Saddam. In 2009 the Obama administration offered only tepid support to the Green Movement uprisings in Iran, something Hillary Clinton later described as her biggest regret as Secretary of State.
What should American leaders do, then? While carefully crafted expressions of solidarity with the people, but not incitement, are good for posterity, given Washington's meager leverage over Tehran such statements likely have only limited impact (In contrast to official statements about authoritarian regimes over whom the U.S. has had actual leverage, like Mubarak's Egypt). What's more important than public statements are U.S. policies that can inhibit the regime's coercive capacity and their ability to blackout communications.
One concrete suggestion it to make clear that companies and countries around the world complicit in Iran's repressive apparatus'--including those providing censorship technology'--will face censure from the United States. The United States should also mobilize global partners that do have working relations with Iran'--including Europe, Japan, South Korea, and India'--to add their voices of concern and condemnation to Tehran's repression. EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini has been noticeably silent.
Given the opacity of the Iranian system and its inaccessibility to independent investigation, the days and weeks ahead are eminently unpredictable. Khamenei and his IRGC backers appear firmly entrenched from thousands of miles away, but we also know from history that authoritarian stability can be a chimera. In August 1978, the CIA confidently assessed that the Pahlavi monarchy in Iran ''is not in a revolutionary or even a pre-revolutionary situation.'' Three months later the Shah'--stricken with advanced cancer unbeknownst even to his family'--left never to come back. Khamenei's health has been the source of wide speculation for years, but tightly held as a national security secret.
''I'm a pessimist because of intelligence,'' the Italian philosopher Antonio Gramsci apparently liked to say, ''but an optimist because of will.'' Two-thousand-five-hundred years of Persian civilization and a centennial-long quest for democracy offer hope about the irrepressible Iranian will for change. But the Islamic Republic's four-decade history of brutality suggest that change will not come easily, or peacefully, or soon.
CIA Creates New Mission Center to Turn Up Heat on Iran - WSJ
Thu, 04 Jan 2018 13:10
Central Intelligence Agency Director Mike Pompeo speaking at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington in April. Photo: eric thayer/Reuters
. June 2, 2017 1:57 p.m. ETWASHINGTON'--The Central Intelligence Agency has established a new organization focused exclusively on gathering and analyzing intelligence about Iran, reflecting the Trump administration's decision to make that country a higher priority target for American spies, according to U.S. officials.
The Iran Mission Center will bring together analysts, operations personnel and specialists from across the CIA to work collectively on Iran and bring to bear the range of the agency's capabilities, including covert action. In that respect it is similar to a new Korea Mission Center that the CIA announced last month to address North Korea's efforts to develop long-range nuclear missiles.
The CIA didn't publicly announce the new Iran organization. The agency declined to comment.
CIA Director Mike Pompeo is a longtime Iran hawk, and the U.S. officials said his emphasis on the threat the country poses to U.S. national-security interests is reflected in the establishment of the new center.
In April, in his first public remarks since taking the helm at the spy agency, Mr. Pompeo warned that Iran was ''on the march.''
''Whether its enormous increased capacity to deliver missile systems into Israel from Hezbollah, their increased strength in and around Mosul with the Shia militias, the work that they've done to support the Houthis to fire missiles against the Saudis'--the list of Iranian transgressions has increased dramatically since the date that the JCPOA was signed,'' Mr. Pompeo said then, referring the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the 2015 agreement that Iran struck with the U.S. and other world powers to limit its nuclear program.
Both Mr. Pompeo and President Donald Trump have criticized that deal'--the director has called the agreement a ''mistake'' for U.S. national security'--and have vowed to hold Iran accountable to its terms.
''We're actively engaged in a lot of work to assist the president, making sure he has an understanding of where the Iranians are complying and where they might not be,'' Mr. Pompeo said at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington in April.
The CIA previously had brought analysts and operational personnel under one roof to address Iran, as part of the Iran Operations Division, internally known as Persia House. It was later subsumed into a broader regional division.
But breaking the Iran Mission Center out into a new, stand-alone entity is a sign that the CIA and the White House are elevating the country's importance as an intelligence target and making it a priority alongside other countries such as Russia and North Korea, current and former officials said.
To lead the new group, Mr. Pompeo tapped a veteran intelligence officer, Michael D'Andrea, who had recently overseen the agency's program of lethal drone strikes and has been credited by many of his peers for successes against al Qaeda in the U.S.'s long campaign against the terrorist group.
Mr. D'Andrea is widely known among peers as a demanding but effective manager, and a convert to Islam who works long hours. Some U.S. officials have expressed concern over what they perceive as his aggressive stance toward Iran.
Attempts to reach Mr. D'Andrea were unsuccessful, and the CIA doesn't comment on personnel matters.
Mr. Trump, who during the presidential campaign pledged to dismantle the nuclear agreement Iran struck with the U.S. and five other nations, has publicly turned on the heat on leaders in Tehran.
In his first presidential trip to Israel last month, Mr. Trump said Iran must ''never be allowed to possess a nuclear weapon'--never, ever'--and must cease its deadly funding, training and equipping of terrorists and militias, and it must cease immediately.''
Beware of the MEK | The National Interest
Thu, 04 Jan 2018 14:26
The enemy of my enemy is my friend. Based on news reports, a number of U.S. officials and former officials have adopted this motto in recent months. They seem to believe the prospect of the nuclear issue being solved and rapprochement with Tehran so threatening that they have rushed to Iran's great foe: the People's Mojahdein Organization (MEK).
The MEK is a cult-like dissident group, based outside of Iran, primarily in Iraq and France for much of the past three decades. It was considered a terrorist group by the United States until 2012 and by the European Union until 2009, when it was removed from the list of terrorist organizations and became increasingly viewed as an alternative to Iran's current regime. This shows that the MEK's campaign to galvanize support in the West has been relatively successful.
A more careful examination of the MEK provides evidence of the group's problematic nature.
First, the MEK has no viable chance of seizing power in Iran. If the current government is not Iranians' first choice for a government, the MEK is not even their last'--and for good reason. The MEK supported Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq War. The people's discontent with the Iranian government at that time did not translate into their supporting an external enemy that was firing Scuds into Tehran, using chemical weapons and killing hundreds of thousands of Iranians, including many civilians. Today, the MEK is viewed negatively by most Iranians, who would prefer to maintain the status quo than rush to the arms of what they consider a corrupt, criminal cult.
Second, what Iranians understand, but the American MEK supporters choose to ignore, is the MEK's track record of human-rights abuses. The MEK controls every aspect of its members' lives and tortures them. Some of these human-rights abuses include: mass, compulsory divorces, beatings and torture, costing some members their lives, and solitary confinements so extreme that some members preferred to take their lives than be subjected to them.
Third, to understand the origins of anti-Americanism in pre-revolutionary Iran, look no further. The MEK was responsible for the assassination and failed attempts to kidnap and assassinate Americans in Iran in the 1970s. It was also the MEK that pressured the Islamic revolutionaries to take a stronger stance against the United States. The MEK further supported the 1979 U.S. embassy hostage crisis in Tehran.
Fourth, on the surface, the MEK has evolved since the '70s into a democratic alternative to the Islamic Republic and a potential ally for the West and Israel. However, the organization is merely manipulating the West, hoping it will rush to it for fear of the greater enemy: the Islamic Republic. To do so, the MEK has teamed up with Israel, while it is as anti-Israeli as the Iranian regime, criticizing the Shah's support for Jerusalem as much as the Islamic revolutionaries. This is not a real ideological shift, but rather a smart, tactical move by the MEK.
Fifth, the MEK may appear as a modern organization on the surface, but it is, in fact, a crypto-Shiite Communist group. In effect, it is the product of the Leninist-style party and the eleventh-century Ismaili order, the Assassins: a religious, Communist cult based around the myth of an invisible leader, Massoud Rajavi, who has not been seen for years (and who is said to be dead or hiding).
Sixth, the MEK claims that it would dismantle Iran's nuclear program, which has led some in the United States to believe its empowerment to be a viable solution to the Iranian nuclear crisis. Even if the MEK had a real chance of coming to power in Iran, which it does not, it would most likely not dismantle the nuclear program. In fact, it would have even more incentive to pursue nuclear weapons and would be less likely to engage with the international community. The MEK is a far less accountable organization than the Islamic Republic is, as, unlike the latter, it is a cult-like organization, rather than an established government that has certain checks and balances. As such, sanctions and deterrence would be less effective on the MEK than on the current government.
The voices supporting the MEK are ignoring the lessons of some of the most catastrophic U.S. foreign-policy mistakes in the past few decades, urging Washington to repeat history. Overhyping the threat of an adversary and blindly supporting groups opposing it led to the creation of Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. Supporting the MEK is neither in accordance with American values, nor beneficial to U.S. interests. Instead, the United States should pursue the diplomatic track, which is what most Americans favor. Diplomacy will not only promote U.S. interests in the Middle East, but also help empower Iranians to improve their lives by normalizing the Iranian political climate.
U.S. drops Iranian MEK dissident group from terrorism list
Thu, 04 Jan 2018 14:26
NEW YORK (Reuters) - The U.S. State Department on Friday formally removed the Iranian dissident group Mujahadin-e Khalq from its official list of terrorist organizations, but underscored serious concerns about the group which is seeking to recast itself as an Iranian opposition force.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton took the decision, effective on Friday, in view of the MEK's public renunciation of violence, the absence of confirmed acts of terrorism by the MEK for more than a decade, and their cooperation in the peaceful closure of their paramilitary base in Iraq, the State Department said in a statement.
''With today's actions, the Department does not overlook or forget the MEK's past acts of terrorism, including its involvement in the killing of U.S. citizens in Iran in the 1970s and an attack on U.S. soil in 1992,'' the statement said.
''The Department also has serious concerns about the MEK as an organization, particularly with regard to allegations of abuse committed against its own members.''
Clinton was in New York this week for a meeting of the U.N. General Assembly. Iran on Thursday blamed the MEK, which it called ''a terrorist sect,'' for accosting a senior Iranian diplomat in New York and condemned the U.S. decision remove the group from the terrorism list.
The MEK's Paris-based leader Maryam Rajavi, who has sought to rebrand the group as a potential opposition force in Iran, welcomed the decision.
''This designation was a gift to the mullahs' (clerical) regime, and removing it is a major blow because they understand better than anyone else the potential of the movement to operate and flourish in Iran,'' she told Reuters in an interview.
''This decision should put an end to a policy of appeasement which has existed for the past 15 years, and it has once again proven that wherever there is a fraction of freedom and justice our resistance will be the victorious one.''
But a senior U.S. official, briefing reporters after Clinton's decision was announced, said Washington did not see the group as viable opposition or democratic movement.
''We have no evidence and we have no confidence that the MEK is an organization that can promote democratic values that we would like to see in Iran,'' the official said. ''They are not part of our picture in terms of the future of Iran.''
INTENSE LOBBYINGOfficials said last week that Clinton had decided to remove the MEK from the terrorism list, but the formal announcement was made only after appropriate notification of Congress.
The U.S. decision comes after years of intense lobbying by the MEK, which had seen many of its members stranded in Iraq as the group fell out of Baghdad's favor after Saddam Hussein's downfall in 2003.
The group marshaled the support of dozens of members of Congress as well as political, government and media notables.
Public figures who have endorsed the MEK's campaign included former CIA directors R. James Woolsey and Porter Goss, former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, former FBI Director Louis Freeh, and Mitchell Reiss, a former State Department official who is a top foreign policy adviser to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
Prominent Democratic Party figures who have supported the MEK have included former Pennsylvania and Vermont Governors Ed Rendell and Howard Dean. People familiar with its activities said that the MEK had paid generous fees to some of those who made speeches in support of its de-listing.
A senior U.S. official dismissed suggestions that the lobbying campaign had played a role in the group's rehabilitation.
''These decisions are made on the merit and not made to appease any group of lobbyists no matter how famous they are,'' the official told reporters.
''The United States government is not going to take anyone off the list if it genuinely believes that they pose an imminent threats, that they are going to commit terrorist acts, or that they are somehow wedded to violence.''
LEAVING CAMP ASHRAFThe United States had repeatedly said its decision on the MEK's terrorist designation hinged partly on the group's remaining members leaving Camp Ashraf, an Iraqi base where they had lived for decades, and moving to a former U.S. military base in Baghdad from which they were expected to be resettled overseas.
Officials said this month that the final large group of dissidents had moved from Camp Ashraf to the new location, ending a long standoff with Iraqi authorities.
The group, also known as the People's Mujahideen Organization of Iran, calls for the overthrow of Iran's clerical leaders and fought alongside Saddam's forces in the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s. It also led a guerrilla campaign against the U.S.-backed Shah of Iran during the 1970s, including attacks on American targets.
Removal from the list means Washington will no longer block the group's property and interests in property in the United States and that U.S. entities may engage in transactions with the MEK without obtaining a license.
Additional reporting by Nicholas Vinocur in Paris; editing by Mohammad Zargham
Our Men in Iran? | The New Yorker
Thu, 04 Jan 2018 14:25
From the air, the terrain of the Department of Energy's Nevada National Security Site, with its arid high plains and remote mountain peaks, has the look of northwest Iran. The site, some sixty-five miles northwest of Las Vegas, was once used for nuclear testing, and now includes a counterintelligence training facility and a private airport capable of handling Boeing 737 aircraft. It's a restricted area, and inhospitable'--in certain sections, the curious are warned that the site's security personnel are authorized to use deadly force, if necessary, against intruders.
It was here that the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) conducted training, beginning in 2005, for members of the Mujahideen-e-Khalq, a dissident Iranian opposition group known in the West as the M.E.K. The M.E.K. had its beginnings as a Marxist-Islamist student-led group and, in the nineteen-seventies, it was linked to the assassination of six American citizens. It was initially part of the broad-based revolution that led to the 1979 overthrow of the Shah of Iran. But, within a few years, the group was waging a bloody internal war with the ruling clerics, and, in 1997, it was listed as a foreign terrorist organization by the State Department. In 2002, the M.E.K. earned some international credibility by publicly revealing'--accurately'--that Iran had begun enriching uranium at a secret underground location. Mohamed ElBaradei, who at the time was the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations' nuclear monitoring agency, told me later that he had been informed that the information was supplied by the Mossad. The M.E.K.'s ties with Western intelligence deepened after the fall of the Iraqi regime in 2003, and JSOC began operating inside Iran in an effort to substantiate the Bush Administration's fears that Iran was building the bomb at one or more secret underground locations. Funds were covertly passed to a number of dissident organizations, for intelligence collection and, ultimately, for anti-regime terrorist activities. Directly, or indirectly, the M.E.K. ended up with resources like arms and intelligence. Some American-supported covert operations continue in Iran today, according to past and present intelligence officials and military consultants.
Despite the growing ties, and a much-intensified lobbying effort organized by its advocates, M.E.K. has remained on the State Department's list of foreign terrorist organizations'--which meant that secrecy was essential in the Nevada training. ''We did train them here, and washed them through the Energy Department because the D.O.E. owns all this land in southern Nevada,'' a former senior American intelligence official told me. ''We were deploying them over long distances in the desert and mountains, and building their capacity in communications'--co¶rdinating commo is a big deal.'' (A spokesman for J.S.O.C. said that ''U.S. Special Operations Forces were neither aware of nor involved in the training of M.E.K. members.'')
The training ended sometime before President Obama took office, the former official said. In a separate interview, a retired four-star general, who has advised the Bush and Obama Administrations on national-security issues, said that he had been privately briefed in 2005 about the training of Iranians associated with the M.E.K. in Nevada by an American involved in the program. They got ''the standard training,'' he said, ''in commo, crypto [cryptography], small-unit tactics, and weaponry'--that went on for six months,'' the retired general said. ''They were kept in little pods.'' He also was told, he said, that the men doing the training were from JSOC, which, by 2005, had become a major instrument in the Bush Administration's global war on terror. ''The JSOC trainers were not front-line guys who had been in the field, but second- and third-tier guys'--trainers and the like'--and they started going off the reservation. 'If we're going to teach you tactics, let me show you some really sexy stuff'...' ''
It was the ad-hoc training that provoked the worried telephone calls to him, the former general said. ''I told one of the guys who called me that they were all in over their heads, and all of them could end up trouble unless they got something in writing. The Iranians are very, very good at counterintelligence, and stuff like this is just too hard to contain.'' The site in Nevada was being utilized at the same time, he said, for advanced training of (C)lite Iraqi combat units. (The retired general said he only knew of the one M.E.K.-affiliated group that went though the training course; the former senior intelligence official said that he was aware of training that went on through 2007.)
Allan Gerson, a Washington attorney for the M.E.K., notes that the M.E.K. has publicly and repeatedly renounced terror. Gerson said he would not comment on the alleged training in Nevada. But such training, if true, he said, would be ''especially incongruent with the State Department's decision to continue to maintain the M.E.K. on the terrorist list. How can the U.S. train those on State's foreign terrorist list, when others face criminal penalties for providing a nickel to the same organization?''
Robert Baer, a retired C.I.A. agent who is fluent in Arabic and had worked under cover in Kurdistan and throughout the Middle East in his career, initially had told me in early 2004 of being recruited by a private American company'--working, so he believed, on behalf of the Bush Administration'--to return to Iraq. ''They wanted me to help the M.E.K. collect intelligence on Iran's nuclear program,'' Baer recalled. ''They thought I knew Farsi, which I did not. I said I'd get back to them, but never did.'' Baer, now living in California, recalled that it was made clear to him at the time that the operation was ''a long-term thing'--not just a one-shot deal.''
Massoud Khodabandeh, an I.T. expert now living in England who consults for the Iraqi government, was an official with the M.E.K. before defecting in 1996. In a telephone interview, he acknowledged that he is an avowed enemy of the M.E.K., and has advocated against the group. Khodabandeh said that he had been with the group since before the fall of the Shah and, as a computer expert, was deeply involved in intelligence activities as well as providing security for the M.E.K. leadership. For the past decade, he and his English wife have run a support program for other defectors. Khodabandeh told me that he had heard from more recent defectors about the training in Nevada. He was told that the communications training in Nevada involved more than teaching how to keep in contact during attacks'--it also involved communication intercepts. The United States, he said, at one point found a way to penetrate some major Iranian communications systems. At the time, he said, the U.S. provided M.E.K. operatives with the ability to intercept telephone calls and text messages inside Iran'--which M.E.K. operatives translated and shared with American signals intelligence experts. He does not know whether this activity is ongoing.
Five Iranian nuclear scientists have been assassinated since 2007. M.E.K. spokesmen have denied any involvement in the killings, but early last month NBC News quoted two senior Obama Administration officials as confirming that the attacks were carried out by M.E.K. units that were financed and trained by Mossad, the Israeli secret service. NBC further quoted the Administration officials as denying any American involvement in the M.E.K. activities. The former senior intelligence official I spoke with seconded the NBC report that the Israelis were working with the M.E.K., adding that the operations benefitted from American intelligence. He said that the targets were not ''Einsteins''; ''The goal is to affect Iranian psychology and morale,'' he said, and to ''demoralize the whole system'--nuclear delivery vehicles, nuclear enrichment facilities, power plants.'' Attacks have also been carried out on pipelines. He added that the operations are ''primarily being done by M.E.K. through liaison with the Israelis, but the United States is now providing the intelligence.'' An adviser to the special-operations community told me that the links between the United States and M.E.K. activities inside Iran had been long-standing. ''Everything being done inside Iran now is being done with surrogates,'' he said.
The sources I spoke to were unable to say whether the people trained in Nevada were now involved in operations in Iran or elsewhere. But they pointed to the general benefit of American support. ''The M.E.K. was a total joke,'' the senior Pentagon consultant said, ''and now it's a real network inside Iran. How did the M.E.K. get so much more efficient?'' he asked rhetorically. ''Part of it is the training in Nevada. Part of it is logistical support in Kurdistan, and part of it is inside Iran. M.E.K. now has a capacity for efficient operations that it never had before.''
In mid-January, a few days after an assassination by car bomb of an Iranian nuclear scientist in Tehran, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, at a town-hall meeting of soldiers at Fort Bliss, Texas, acknowledged that the U.S. government has ''some ideas as to who might be involved, but we don't know exactly who was involved.'' He added, ''But I can tell you one thing: the United States was not involved in that kind of effort. That's not what the United States does.''
Illustration by Guy Billout.
Leaked meeting notes show how panicked Iranian regime considered stopping deadly protests: 'God help us' | Fox News
Thu, 04 Jan 2018 14:23
EXCLUSIVE '' A leaked report provided to Fox News shows how Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei met with political leaders and heads of the country's security forces to discuss how to tamp down on the deadly nationwide protests.
The report covered several meetings up to December 31 and was provided to the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) from what it said were high level sources from within the regime.
The meeting notes, which have been translated into English from Farsi, said the unrest has hurt every sector of the country's economy and ''threatens the regime's security. The first step, therefore, is to find a way out of this situation.''
The report added, ''Religious leaders and the leadership must come to the scene as soon as possible and prevent the situation (from) deteriorating further.'' It continued, ''God help us, this is a very complex situation and is different from previous occasions.''
As the protests continue to spread, the total number dead rose Monday to at least 13, including a police officer shot and killed with a hunting rifle in the central city of Najafabad.
According to NCRI sources and reports from within Iran, at least 40 cities across Iran witnessed protests Monday, including in the capital city of Tehran. These reports state that slogans heard included ''Death to the dictator,'' and ''the leader lives like God while the people live like beggars.''
The regime's notes claimed protesters ''started chanting the ultimate slogans from day one. In Tehran today, people were chanting slogans against Khamenei and the slogans used yesterday were all against Khamenei.''
The notes added that the intelligence division of the feared Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) is ''monitoring the situation'' and ''working all in coordination to prevent protests.''
It says that a ''red alert'' has not yet been declared, which would lead to direct military intervention in the protests. But it then predicted that sending IRGC or the Bassij forces would ''backfire'' and would further ''antagonize the protesters.''
Messages of support for the protesters from President Trump and other administration officials were also mentioned in the report. ''The United States officially supported the people on the streets.'' The notes continued by saying the U.S. and the West ''have all united in support of the Hypocrites,'' the regime's pejorative description of the People's Mujahedin of Iran (MEK) which is one of the groups making up the NCRI.
The meeting notes that the leader of the NCRI, Maryam Rajavi, and the ''Infidels,'' which the translation says refers to "the West," ''are united for the first time.'' It continued, ''Maryam Rajavi is hoping for regime change,'' saying the protests are ''definitely organized,'' and ''the security forces report that the MEK is very active and is leading and directing them.''
The notes also warn that all those affiliated with leadership ''must be on alert and monitor the situation constantly,'' continuing, ''the security and intelligence forces must constantly monitor the situation on the scene and conduct surveillance and subsequently report to the office of the leadership.''
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Ben Evansky reports for Fox News on the United Nations and international affairs.
He can be followed @BenEvansky
Is Iran the ''World's Leading Sponsor of Terrorism?''
Thu, 04 Jan 2018 13:10
FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity
SUBJECT: Is Iran the ''World's Leading Sponsor of Terrorism?''
We are concerned by recent strident and stark public statements from key members of your Administration that paint Iran in very alarmist terms. The average American, without the benefit of history, could easily be persuaded that Iran poses an imminent threat and that there is no alternative for us but military conflict.
We find this uncomfortably familiar territory. Ten years ago former President George W. Bush was contemplating a war with Iran when, in November of 2007, intelligence analysts issued a formal National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) debunking the prevailing conventional wisdom; namely, that Iran was on the verge of getting a nuclear weapon. The NIE concluded that Iran had stopped working on a nuclear weapon in 2003.
Recalling this moment in his memoir, Decision Points, President Bush noted that the NIE's ''eye-popping'' intelligence findings stayed his hand. He added this rhetorical question: ''How could I possibly explain using the military to destroy the nuclear facilities of a country the intelligence community said had no active nuclear weapons program?''
We believe that you are facing a similar situation today. But instead of an inaccurate claim that Iran has nuclear weapons, the new canard to justify war with Iran is the claim that Iran remains the ''world's leading state sponsor of terrorism.'' This is incorrect, as we explain below.
* * *
One of the recurring big bipartisan lies being pushed on the public with the enthusiastic help of a largely pliant media is that Iran is the prime sponsor of terrorism in the world today.
In the recent presentation of your administration's National Security Strategy for 2018, the point is made that:
''Iran, the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism, has taken advantage of instability to expand its influence through partners and proxies, weapon proliferation, and funding. . . . Iran continues to perpetuate the cycle of violence in the region, causing grievous harm to civilian populations.''
Those sentiments are echoed by several other countries of the Middle East. Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister, Adel al-Jubeir, for example, declared in October 2015 that: Iran ''is the biggest sponsor of terrorism in the world, and it is working on destabilizing the region.''
The Saudi foreign minister conveniently declined to mention that 15 of the 19 terrorists who hijacked planes and attacked America on 11 September 2001 were Saudis, not Iranians. And, while Iran was an active promoter of terrorism two decades ago, it is no longer in the forefront of global terrorism. Ironically, that dubious distinction now goes to Iran's accusers '-- first and foremost, Saudi Arabia.
The depiction of Iran as ''the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism'' is not supported by the facts. While Iran is guilty of having used terrorism as a national policy tool, the Iran of 2017 is not the Iran of 1981. In the early days of the Islamic Republic, Iranian operatives routinely carried out car bombings, kidnappings and assassinations of dissidents and of American citizens. That has not been the case for many years. Despite frequent claims by U.S. officials that Iran is engaged in terrorism, we simply note that the incidents recorded annually in the U.S. Department of State's Patterns of Global Terrorism rarely identifies a terrorist incident as an act by or on behalf of Iran.
Iran's relationship with Hezbollah also has evolved radically. In the early years of the Islamic Republic, Hezbollah was often a proxy and sub-contractor for Iran. But during the last 20 years Hezbollah has become an entity and political force in its own right. It fought Israel to a standstill in 2006 in southern Lebanon, which was a watershed moment in establishing Hezbollah's transformation into a conventional army. In the intervening years, Hezbollah, which is now part of the Lebanese government, also has turned away from the radical, religious driven violence that is the hallmark of the Sunni extremists, like ISIS.
Iran's Asymmetrical Response
After Iran fell under the rule of the Ayatollah in 1979 terrorism, its role in high profile terrorist attacks, such as the taking of U.S. hostages and the bombings of the U.S. Embassy and the Marine barracks in Lebanon, fed understandable U.S. animosity towards Iran. But Iran's actions were not driven primarily by blind hatred or radical religious views. For Iran terrorism was a way to punch back against more powerful foes, principally the United States, which was providing military and intelligence support to Iran's neighbor and enemy, Iraq.
The Iranians were also pragmatic and had direct dealings with Israel. During the early days of the Iranian revolution the Mullahs, despite publicly denouncing Israel, happily accepted secret military support from the Israelis. Israel was equally pragmatic. The Israeli leaders ignored the Mullahs and gave the support as a means of helping counter the threat posed by Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. A classic case of the enemy of my enemy is my friend.
The public image of Iran as a hotbed of fanatical terrorists has been usurped since the August 1998 bombings of the U.S. Embassies in east Africa by Al Qaeda and other radical Sunni entities. The U.S. Government's own list of terrorist attacks since 2001 shows a dramatic drop in the violence carried out by Iran and an accompanying surge in horrific acts by radical Sunni Muslims who are not aligned with Iran. The latest edition of the Global Terrorism Index, a project of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, shows that four groups accounted for 74 percent of all fatalities from terrorism in 2015 '-- Boko Haram, Al-Qaeda, the Taliban and ISIS.
Thirteen of the 14 Muslim Groups identified by the U.S. intelligence community as actively hostile to the US are Sunni, not Shia, and are not supported by Iran:
'' ISIS (Sunni)
'' The Al-Nusra Front (Sunni)
'' Al-Qa'ida Central (Sunni)
'' Al-Qa'ida in Magheb (Sunni)
'' Al-Qa'ida in Arabian Peninsula (Sunni)
'' Boku Haram (Sunni)
'' Al-Shabbab (Sunni)
'' Khorassan Group (Sunni)
'' Society of the Muslim Brothers (Sunni)
'' Sayyaf Group in the Philippines (Sunni)
'' Taliban in Pakistan and Afghanistan (Sunni)
'' Lashgar i Taiba (Sunni)
'' Jemaa Islamiya (Sunni)
'' Houthis (Shia)
The last major terrorist attack causing casualties that is linked to Iran was the July 2012 bombing of a bus with Israeli tourists in Bulgaria. That departure from Iran's more recent policy on terrorism was retaliation for what Iran perceived to be Israel's role in assassinating five Iranian scientists involved with Iran's Nuclear program, between January 2010 and January 2012 (the dates and names of those attacked are appended).
One can easily imagine the outrage and lust for revenge that would sweep the U.S., if Americans believed a foreign country sent operatives into the United States who in turn murdered engineers and scientists working on sensitive U.S. defense projects.
Special Operations
There have been other terrorist attacks inside Iran bearing the handprint of support from the United States. Author Sean Naylor, Relentless Strike, which details the history of operations carried out by U.S. Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) over the past 30 years, sheds light on this uncomfortable truth:
''JSOC personnel also worked with the Mujahideen-e-Khalq (MEK), a militant Iranian exile group that had based itself in Iraq after falling afoul of the ayatollahs' regime in Tehran. The State Department had placed the MEK on its list of designated terrorist organizations, but that didn't stop JSOC from taking an attitude of ''the enemy of my enemy is my friend'' toward the group. ''They were a group of folks that could transit the border, and they were willing to help us out on what we wanted to do with Iran,'' said a special operations officer.''
The MEK were classified as a terrorist group, until the United States decided that as long as the MEK would help kill Iranians rather than Americans, that they were no longer terrorists. The MEK's history of terrorism is quite clear. Among more than a dozen examples over the last four decades these four are illustrative:
During the 1970s, the MEK killed U.S. military personnel and U.S. civilians working on defense projects in Tehran and supported the takeover in 1979 of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran.In 1981, the MEK detonated bombs in the head office of the Islamic Republic Party and the Premier's office, killing some 70 high-ranking Iranian officials, including Iran's President, Premier, and Chief Justice.In April 1992, the MEK conducted near-simultaneous attacks on Iranian embassies and installations in 13 countries, demonstrating the group's ability to mount large-scale operations overseas.In April 1999, the MEK targeted key military officers and assassinated the deputy chief of the Iranian Armed Forces General Staff.Despite this history, a bipartisan parade of prominent U.S. political and military leaders has lobbied on behalf of MEK and has been well compensated in return.
Benighted Policy So Far
In the ultimate ironic turn, the U.S.-led 2003 war in Iraq played a critical role in Iran's resurgence as a regional power. Saddam Hussein was replaced by Shia muslims who had received sanctuary in Iran for many years and Baathist institutions, including the Army, were taken over by Iraqis sympathetic to Tehran.
Iran has come out ahead in Iraq and, with the 2015 nuclear agreement in place, Iran's commercial and other ties have improved with key NATO allies and the other major world players'--Russia and China in particular.
Official pronouncements on critical national security matters need to be based on facts. Hyperbole in describing Iran's terrorist activities can be counterproductive. For this reason, we call attention to Ambassador Nikki Haley's recent statement that it is hard to find a ''terrorist group in the Middle East that does not have Iran's fingerprints all over it.'' The truth is quite different. The majority of terrorist groups in the region are neither creatures nor puppets of Iran. ISIS, Al-Qaeda and Al-Nusra are three of the more prominent that come to mind.
You have presented yourself as someone willing to speak hard truths in the face of establishment pressure and not to accept the status quo. You spoke out during the campaign against the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq as a historic mistake of epic proportions. You also correctly captured the mood of many Americans fatigued from constant war in far away lands. Yet the torrent of warnings from Washington about the dangers supposedly posed by Iran and the need to confront them are being widely perceived as steps toward reversing your pledge not to get embroiled in new wars.
We encourage you to reflect on the warning we raised with President George W. Bush almost 15 years ago, at a similar historic juncture:
''after watching Secretary Powell today, we are convinced that you would be well served if you widened the discussion '... beyond the circle of those advisers clearly bent on a war for which we see no compelling reason and from which we believe the unintended consequences are likely to be catastrophic.''
January 12, 2010: Masoud Alimohammadi, Iranian Physicist:
Killed by a car bomb. The perpetrator reportedly confessed to having been recruited by Israeli intelligence to carry out the assassination.
November 29, 2010: Majid Shahriari, Iranian nuclear scientist:
Killed by a car bomb. According to German media, Israel was the sponsor.
November 29, 2010: Assassination attempt on Fereydoon Abbasi Iranian nuclear scientist:
Wounded by a car bomb.
July 23, 2011: Darioush Rezaeinejad, Iranian electrical engineer, unclear scientist
Killed by unknown gunmen on motorcycle. Specialist on high-voltage switches '-- a key component of nuclear warheads. Assassinated by Israeli intelligence, according to the German press.
January 11, 2012: Mostafa Ahmadi-Roshan, Iranian nuclear scientist
Killed at Natanz uranium enrichment facility by a magnetic bomb of the same kind used in earlier assassinations of Iranian scientists.
Richard Beske, CIA, Operations Officer (ret.)
William Binney, former NSA Technical Director for World Geopolitical & Military Analysis; Co-founder of NSA's Signals Intelligence Automation Research Center
Marshall Carter-Tripp, Foreign Service Officer (ret.) and Division Director, State Department Bureau of Intelligence and Research
Bogdan Dzakovic, Former Team Leader of Federal Air Marshals and Red Team, FAA Security, (ret.) (associate VIPS)
Philip Giraldi, CIA, Operations Officer (ret.)
Larry C. Johnson, former CIA and State Department Counter Terrorism officer
Michael S. Kearns, Captain, USAF (Ret.); ex-Master SERE Instructor for Strategic Reconnaissance Operations (NSA/DIA) and Special Mission Units (JSOC)
John Kiriakou, Former CIA Counterterrorism Officer and former senior investigator, Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Karen Kwiatkowski, former Lt. Col., US Air Force (ret.), at Office of Secretary of Defense watching the manufacture of lies on Iraq, 2001-2003
Edward Loomis, NSA, Cryptologic Computer Scientist (ret.)
David MacMichael, National Intelligence Council (ret.)
Ray McGovern, former US Army infantry/intelligence officer & CIA analyst (ret.)
Elizabeth Murray, Deputy National Intelligence Officer for Near East, CIA and National Intelligence Council (ret.)
Torin Nelson, former Intelligence Officer/Interrogator (GG-12) HQ, Department of the Army
Todd E. Pierce, MAJ, US Army Judge Advocate (ret.)
Coleen Rowley, FBI Special Agent and former Minneapolis Division Legal Counsel (ret.)
Greg Thielmann '-- Former director of the Strategic, Proliferation, and Military Affairs Office of the State Department's intelligence bureau (INR) and former senior staffer on the Senate Intelligence Committee
Kirk Wiebe '-- former Senior Analyst, SIGINT Automation Research Center, NSA
Lawrence Wilkerson, Colonel (USA, ret.), Distinguished Visiting Professor, College of William and Mary (associate VIPS)
Sarah G. Wilton, CDR, USNR, (Retired)/DIA, (Retired)
Robert Wing '-- former Foreign Service Officer (associate VIPS)
Ann Wright, Col., US Army (ret.); Foreign Service Officer (who resigned in opposition to the war on Iraq)
Need to kill some gays
Iran's Corruption is Disrupting! '' STEVE PIECZENIK TALKS
Thu, 04 Jan 2018 13:04
Iran's Corrupt Mullah Society is Erupting and Falling Apart!
Several fine articles in the NYTimes by Thomas Erdbrink, [1/1/18/,12/29/17] have underscored how the deteriorating economy of Iran has forced the youth of this majestic country to riot in both large cities, Tehran and Mashdid.
Right now, the official unemployment rate for Iranian [Shi'ites] youth is over 40%. The exact same number as in Saudi Arabia [Sunni Muslims]. This means that an overwhelming number of Iranian's future can no longer be entrusted to either Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khameini [Supreme Leader of Iran] or President Hassan Rouhani.
Despite the fact that foreign investments have been flowing into this talent-rich country with an unprecedented number of major construction investments; none of those 'forty percenters' will have access to those future jobs/projects.
Answer: Massive political/religious corruption engendered by Khameini's righthand henchman, Iran's Revolutionary Guard [IRG] General Suleimani. He and his military cohorts have mercilessly gobbled Iran's commerce in full; leaving not even a morsel for the poor and destitute.
The IRG, as w/ China's PLA, employ a completely fabricated front company called: 'Khatam-al Anbiya' to garner the spoils of war in the Middle East [Syria, Iraq, Yemen]. They also leech any foreign contracts [French Renault] that enter Iran.
This ersatz, highly profligate company translates as ''Seal of the Prophet'' [Erdbrink, 10/21/17]. Like the sickly Shah Pahlavi's dysfunctional administration, this one created by Khameini's father Ayatollah Khomeini is more perfidiously dystopic. Some history:I had unsuccessfully attempted to negotiate the Iran Hostage Siege with the senior Ayatollah.
Most revolutions in the Middle East lend themselves to appear as a religious factotum disguising a completely nefarious enterprise'--with ''Islamic Holy Water'' sprayed over it. Another example: Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood was as corrupt as Mubarak's former administration. Now, former General Sisi,is the new President of Egypt and takes his usual cut from any overseas and domestic businesses [usually American military aid]. Nothing much changes, except the different palms of greed that receive the dirty money.
I was very impressed by the Iranian youth on my trip to Iran several years ago. They had demonstrated an extreme intelligence as well as a strong passion for reform which would allow them to practice in any job utilizing their advance university degrees. I realized then that if the IRG would take advantage of these highly educated, non-religious youths there could be a major shift in power. I had forewarned my colleagues that the Iranian Revolution of the late 1970's which had brought Islam into a historically secular Iran would eventually find itself once again'--becoming secular'--as it should be.
Now is the time!
In three days of protests, the Tehran University students demanded the death of both Khameini and Rouhani. Let me assure you that these were not idle threats. There have been sporadic reports that the IRG is being held accountable for their pervasive, intrusive back-handed business practices.
''Over the summer, several IRG officials were arrested on suspicion of corruption by the intelligence service of the organization itself'....''
''More recently, Khatam-al Anbyia was sidelined in two major oil and shipping projects which went to bidders from France and South Korea.'' [Edbrink, 10/21/17].
I would be content to see Iran turn back to its secular roots that had been embedded in a narrative where Jews prayed to both Darius and Cyrus the Great for having liberated us from the shackles of Babylon. I encourage the world to assist these incredibly brave youths to defy the mandates and forced ideological indenture of self-anointed so called ''Holy Islamic Fakirs''.
The true Muslim leaders of the Holy City of Qom have insisted that both Khameini and Rouhani give these deserving children of God their chance for a day in the sun without covering them with the false pretense of religious fervor. Of the 100,000 Muslim clerics in Iran, over 60,000 of them are located in that holy city'--Qom!
This is what they have to say:
''Attack is the best defense!''
They also added:
''The employment of nuclear weapons is both ILLEGAL and HARAM!'' [Proscribed by the Koran]
NATO Bases Surrounding Iran
Agenda 2030
'Bomb cyclone' to blast East Coast before polar vortex uncorks tremendous cold late this week - The Washington Post
Wed, 03 Jan 2018 09:11
Pressure and wind visualization of storm off the coast of New England on Thursday. (WindyTV.com)
Unforgiving cold has punished the eastern third of the United States for the past 10 days. But the most severe winter weather yet will assault the area late this week.
First, a monster storm will hammer coastal locations from Georgia to Maine with ice and snow. By Thursday, the exploding storm will, in many ways, resemble a winter hurricane, battering easternmost New England with potentially damaging winds in addition to blinding snow.
Forecasters are expecting the storm to become a so-called ''bomb cyclone'' because its pressure is predicted to fall so fast, an indicator of explosive strengthening. The storm could rank as the most intense over the waters east of New England in decades at this time of year. While blizzard conditions could paste some coastal areas, the most extreme conditions will remain well out over the ocean.
As most of the U.S. faces record-breaking cold weather, some TV reporters and social media users are testing the freezing temperatures with some old tricks. (Elyse Samuels/The Washington Post)
In the storm's wake, the mother lode of numbing cold will crash south '-- likely the last but most bitter in brutal blasts since Christmas Eve.
The storm: How much snow and wind, and whereThe responsible storm is forecast to begin taking shape off the coast of Florida Wednesday, unloading hazardous snow and ice in highly unusual locations not accustomed to such weather. The National Weather Service has already posted winter storm watches from Lake City, Fla. to Norfolk
It is then expected to rapidly intensify, buffeting the Mid-Atlantic beaches and eastern New England, where winter storm watches have also been issued.
The National Weather Service office serving northeast Florida and southeast Georgia cautions that a nasty mix of light freezing rain, light sleet and light snow is expected to develop Wednesday ''with significant icing possible.''
In Charleston, one to three inches of snow and sleet is forecast Wednesday, where the Weather Service warns to ''plan on difficult travel conditions.''
From Norfolk to the Maryland and Delaware beaches, including much of the southern half of the Delmarva Peninsula, 3 to 6 inches of heavy snow are predicted from Wednesday evening to Thursday afternoon.
Farther inland in the Mid-Atlantic, near Interstate 95, the storm's exact track will be highly consequential. Current computer models suggest most, if not all, snowfall will occur east of Washington and Baltimore on Wednesday night into early Thursday. But small shifts to the west could bring some snow to these cities.
GFS model shows accumulating snow from the Georgia-Florida border all the way up the East Coast to Maine.
To the north, Philadelphia and New York have a better chance for a coating of snow, but '-- unless the storm edges closer to the coast '-- the more significant snow should remain to their east from Atlantic City to eastern Long Island, where at least four to six inches could fall late Wednesday to late Thursday.
By the time the storm reaches the ocean waters east of Long Island and eastern New England on Thursday, it will be explosively intensifying. The storm's central pressure will have fallen 53 millibars in just 24 hours '-- an astonishing rate of intensification.
European model simulation of storm pressure drop between Wednesday and Thursday. (WeatherBell.com, adapted by CWG)
''Some computer models are projecting a minimum central air pressure of below 950 millibars at its peak, which would be nearly unheard of for this part of the world outside of a hurricane,'' wrote Mashable's Andrew Freedman. ''For comparison, Hurricane Sandy had a minimum central pressure of about 946 millibars when it made its left hook into New Jersey in 2012.''
Winds will crank in response to this pressure drop, howling to at least 30 to 50 mph along the coast. Winds will be considerably stronger over the ocean '-- exceeding hurricane force '-- where enormous waves will form.
Peak six-hour wind gusts are forecast by the European model between 7 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Thursday. (WeatherBell.com)
In Boston, the Weather Service is predicting not only four to seven inches of snow but also winds strong enough to bring down branches. Throughout eastern Massachusetts and eastern Maine, the combination of wind and snow could create blizzard conditions, especially if the storm wobbles west.
''Our biggest concern is the potential for damaging wind gusts especially near the southeast New England coast,'' the Weather Service tweeted. ''Power outage risk followed by arctic air Fri/Sat a big concern!''
The cold in its wake: record-breakingTemperature difference from normal forecast Saturday morning by American (GFS) model. Note these are deviations from average, not actual temperatures.
The storm's enormous circulation will help draw several lobes of the polar vortex, the zone of frigid air encircling the North Pole, over the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast by Friday and Saturday. Wicked cold air sourced from Siberia, the North Pole and Greenland will all converge on the region.
Temperatures are forecast to be 20 to 40 degrees below normal, the coldest of the winter so far.
Most locations in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast are predicted to set records for cold temperatures on Friday with highs in the single digits and teens.
National Weather Service high temperature forecast on Friday. Locations circled indicate coldest on record. (WeatherBell.com)
On Saturday morning, subzero cold is forecast over almost all of New England, with single digits in the Mid-Atlantic.
National Weather Service has forecast low temperature on Friday. Locations circled indicate coldest on record. (WeatherBell.com)
Winds, gusting to 30 mph, will make these areas feel 10 to 20 degrees colder.
Top wind gust is forecast for Friday evening from the American (GFS) model.
Finally, after one of the most intense cold spells of such duration on record in parts of New England '-- including Boston, temperatures are forecast to gradually thaw by early next week.
On its 100th birthday in 1959, Edward Teller warned the oil industry about global warming | Environment | The Guardian
Wed, 03 Jan 2018 09:10
Physicist Edward Teller pointing at a formula on a blackboard on 22 May 1968. Photograph: STF/AFP/Getty Images
It was a typical November day in New York City. The year: 1959. Robert Dunlop, 50 years old and photographed later as clean-shaven, hair carefully parted, his earnest face donning horn-rimmed glasses, passed under the Ionian columns of Columbia University's iconic Low Library. He was a guest of honor for a grand occasion: the centennial of the American oil industry.
Over 300 government officials, economists, historians, scientists, and industry executives were present for the Energy and Man symposium '' organized by the American Petroleum Institute and the Columbia Graduate School of Business '' and Dunlop was to address the entire congregation on the ''prime mover'' of the last century '' energy '' and its major source: oil. As President of the Sun Oil Company, he knew the business well, and as a director of the American Petroleum Institute '' the industry's largest and oldest trade association in the land of Uncle Sam '' he was responsible for representing the interests of all those many oilmen gathered around him.
Four others joined Dunlop at the podium that day, one of whom had made the journey from California '' and Hungary before that. The nuclear weapons physicist Edward Teller had, by 1959, become ostracized by the scientific community for betraying his colleague J. Robert Oppenheimer, but he retained the embrace of industry and government. Teller's task that November fourth was to address the crowd on ''energy patterns of the future,'' and his words carried an unexpected warning:
Ladies and gentlemen, I am to talk to you about energy in the future. I will start by telling you why I believe that the energy resources of the past must be supplemented. First of all, these energy resources will run short as we use more and more of the fossil fuels. But I would [...] like to mention another reason why we probably have to look for additional fuel supplies. And this, strangely, is the question of contaminating the atmosphere. [....] Whenever you burn conventional fuel, you create carbon dioxide. [....] The carbon dioxide is invisible, it is transparent, you can't smell it, it is not dangerous to health, so why should one worry about it?
Carbon dioxide has a strange property. It transmits visible light but it absorbs the infrared radiation which is emitted from the earth. Its presence in the atmosphere causes a greenhouse effect [....] It has been calculated that a temperature rise corresponding to a 10 per cent increase in carbon dioxide will be sufficient to melt the icecap and submerge New York. All the coastal cities would be covered, and since a considerable percentage of the human race lives in coastal regions, I think that this chemical contamination is more serious than most people tend to believe.
How, precisely, Mr. Dunlop and the rest of the audience reacted is unknown, but it's hard to imagine this being welcome news. After his talk, Teller was asked to ''summarize briefly the danger from increased carbon dioxide content in the atmosphere in this century.'' The physicist, as if considering a numerical estimation problem, responded:
At present the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has risen by 2 per cent over normal. By 1970, it will be perhaps 4 per cent, by 1980, 8 per cent, by 1990, 16 per cent [about 360 parts per million, by Teller's accounting], if we keep on with our exponential rise in the use of purely conventional fuels. By that time, there will be a serious additional impediment for the radiation leaving the earth. Our planet will get a little warmer. It is hard to say whether it will be 2 degrees Fahrenheit or only one or 5.
But when the temperature does rise by a few degrees over the whole globe, there is a possibility that the icecaps will start melting and the level of the oceans will begin to rise. Well, I don't know whether they will cover the Empire State Building or not, but anyone can calculate it by looking at the map and noting that the icecaps over Greenland and over Antarctica are perhaps five thousand feet thick.
And so, at its hundredth birthday party, American oil was warned of its civilization-destroying potential.
Talk about a buzzkill.
How did the petroleum industry respond? Eight years later, on a cold, clear day in March, Robert Dunlop walked the halls of the U.S. Congress. The 1967 oil embargo was weeks away, and the Senate was investigating the potential of electric vehicles. Dunlop, testifying now as the Chairman of the Board of the American Petroleum Institute, posed the question, ''tomorrow's car: electric or gasoline powered?'' His preferred answer was the latter:
We in the petroleum industry are convinced that by the time a practical electric car can be mass-produced and marketed, it will not enjoy any meaningful advantage from an air pollution standpoint. Emissions from internal-combustion engines will have long since been controlled.
Dunlop went on to describe progress in controlling carbon monoxide, nitrous oxide, and hydrocarbon emissions from automobiles. Absent from his list? The pollutant he had been warned of years before: carbon dioxide.
We might surmise that the odorless gas simply passed under Robert Dunlop's nose unnoticed. But less than a year later, the American Petroleum Institute quietly received a report on air pollution it had commissioned from the Stanford Research Institute, and its warning on carbon dioxide was direct:
Significant temperature changes are almost certain to occur by the year 2000, and these could bring about climatic changes. [...] there seems to be no doubt that the potential damage to our environment could be severe. [...] pollutants which we generally ignore because they have little local effect, CO2 and submicron particles, may be the cause of serious world-wide environmental changes.
Thus, by 1968, American oil held in its hands yet another notice of its products' world-altering side effects, one affirming that global warming was not just cause for research and concern, but a reality needing corrective action: ''Past and present studies of CO2 are detailed,'' the Stanford Research Institute advised. ''What is lacking, however, is [...] work toward systems in which CO2 emissions would be brought under control.''
This early history illuminates the American petroleum industry's long-running awareness of the planetary warming caused by its products. Teller's warning, revealed in documentation I found while searching archives, is another brick in a growingwall of evidence.
In the closing days of those optimistic 1950s, Robert Dunlop may have been one of the first oilmen to be warned of the tragedy now looming before us. By the time he departed this world in 1996, the American Petroleum Institute he once led was denying the climate science it had been informed of decades before, attacking the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and fighting climate policies wherever they arose.
This is a history of choices made, paths not taken, and the fall from grace of one of the greatest enterprises '' oil, the ''prime mover'' '' ever to tread the earth. Whether it's also a history of redemption, however partial, remains to be seen.
American oil's awareness of global warming '' and its conspiracy of silence, deceit, and obstruction '' goes further than any one company. It extends beyond (though includes) ExxonMobil. The industry is implicated to its core by the history of its largest representative, the American Petroleum Institute.
It is now too late to stop a great deal of change to our planet's climate and its global payload of disease, destruction, and death. But we can fight to halt climate change as quickly as possible, and we can uncover the history of how we got here. There are lessons to be learned, and there is justice to be served.
Benjamin Franta (@BenFranta) is a PhD student in history of science at Stanford University who studies the history of climate change science and politics. He has a PhD in applied physics from Harvard University and is a former research fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.
Polar Vortex Feedback
Thu, 04 Jan 2018 03:24
Climate experts say the polar vortex is caused by global warming. This creates a serious dilemma! The colder it gets, the more fossil fuels get burned. This causes more cold, and more burning of fossil fuels '' thus more global warming and more cold.
If we keep burning fossil fuels, we are all going to freeze to death! Democrats need to stop heating their homes, if they want to have any chance to stay warm.
The U.S. Just Burned the Most Natural Gas Ever | Investor Discussion Board: IDB
Thu, 04 Jan 2018 12:37
The U.S. Just Burned the Most Natural Gas Ever
The U.S. burned the most natural gas ever on Monday, breaking a record set during the so-called polar vortex that blanketed the nation's eastern half with arctic air in 2014. America consumed 143 billion cubic feet of gas as temperatures dipped to all-time lows on New Year's Day, topping the previous high of 142 billion from four years ago, data from PointLogic Energy show. Prices for the heating fuel rose to the highest in a month.
Record-Setting Cold Shakes Up America's Commodities Markets
A record-breaking cold that's threatening to spur heating-fuel shortages from the East Coast to Texas has driven up natural gas demand to unprecedented levels and put crops across the U.S. wheat belt at risk.
Wind chill advisories and freeze warnings blanket the central U.S., while winter storm watches are in place from Massachusetts to Florida. Ice has slowed fuel deliveries from New York harbor, the gasoline and diesel hub for the region, while power prices are trading near multi-year highs.
''It is very cold and in a lot of places it is record cold,'' said Bob Oravec, a senior branch forecaster at the Weather Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland.
A winter storm that's set to race up the East Coast on Wednesday offers to provide some respite from the bone-rattling cold. But any relief will only be temporary as the Arctic chill is set to make a comeback by the end of the week.
''This is only the appetizer -- the main meal comes over the weekend,'' said Judah Cohen, director of seasonal forecasting for Atmospheric and Environmental Research, a Verisk Analytics Inc. business in Lexington, Massachusetts. ''This is about as intense a cold as I can remember.''
Boston hasn't reached 32 degrees Fahrenheit (0 Celsius) -- the freezing mark -- since Christmas, according to the National Weather Service. New York's LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy airports have set new records while Chicago had its coldest New Year's Day ever.
Boston's set to tie a 100-year-old record with seven days of high temperatures below 20 degrees, said Bill Simpson, a weather service meteorologist in Taunton, Massachusetts.
Two Years
The U.S. consumed 143 billion cubic feet of gas on New Year's Day, data from PointLogic Energy show. Prices for the heating fuel rose to a one-month high of $3.097 per million British thermal units on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Plunging temperatures across the wheat belt on Monday damaged crops that didn't have a protective layer of snow, according to World Weather Inc., sending futures contracts higher. Since the cold snap arrived, New York City has seen some of the highest electricity prices in two years.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration declared a state of emergency and issued fuel-delivery waivers effective through Jan. 14 in anticipation of home-heating fuel shortages in some regions.
Expected Snowfall
New York City could get 2 to 3 inches (5 to 8 centimeters) of snow from Wednesday to Thursday, while Boston could get around 6 inches, the National Weather Service said. Temperatures will rise out of the teens and single digits from Philadelphia to Boston before slipping back again by Friday and Saturday.
While the cold on the East Coast could moderate with the snow, temperatures could approach the freezing mark in Boston, said Paul Walker, a meteorologist with AccuWeather Inc. in State College, Pennsylvania. The storm will likely cause blizzard conditions in New England and eastern Long Island as high winds accompany the snow.
Another blast of bitterly cold air will sweep across the U.S. by the middle of next week, Oravec said. The chill could linger through Jan. 16, but perhaps with not quite the intensity of the recent spell, said Matt Rogers, president of Commodity Weather Group LLC in Bethesda, Maryland.
'-- With assistance by Laura Blewitt, Tim Loh, and Megan Durisin
Shut Up Slave!
Performance Review App from Producer AC
Since my son's
birthday is 9-9-9 and I was fired from a shitty startup for going to the
hospital for his birth instead of working my 120hrs a week, and I am soon to
find myself bouncing out of another one for not being a "good fit for the
company culture" — I present you with some exclusive gifts in lieu of
being unable to be de-douched for that episode.
After you mentioned your love for the show Black Mirror (of which I just arose
from a single-night dose of watching the whole fucking season)...
Here are some screenshots from the new "behavior scoring" app my
current day-job is going to be using to replace performance evaluations.
It is LITERALLY a copy of "Tinder" where you swipe left and right as
people who you work with appear on your app. And after a little bit of time it
generates a "Behavior Score" which they can use to fire your ass.
In the morning! The future is closer than we think.
Rhabit - Innovative Performance Management
Thu, 04 Jan 2018 13:42
Rhabit - Innovative Performance ManagementWhat we doCollectWe make beautiful performance data collection tools that people value and love to use.
MeasureOur innovative data science and deep learning techniques allow us to accurately measure and unlock the potential of your people.
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(C) 2017 Rhabit Analytics, Inc.
New law OKs self-serve at rural Oregon gas stations, but will stations make the change? | KTVL
Wed, 03 Jan 2018 10:42
Oregon is currently one of two states that does not allow customers to pump their gas. A law passed by the Legislature in May and signed into law by Gov. Kate Brown in June will allow Oregon counties with 40,000 residents or less to deviate from that. (AP Photo/Gillian Flaccus)
BEND, Ore. (AP) '-- Gas stations in two central Oregon counties will continue to pump gas for customers despite a new law allowing self-serve gasoline in rural counties that takes effect in a few days.
Employees at several stations in Crook and Jefferson counties said they are unaware of any plans to change to self-service, the Bulletin reported .
Others told the newspaper they were unaware that the new law takes effect Monday.
Oregon is currently one of two states that does not allow customers to pump their gas.
A law passed by the Legislature in May and signed into law by Gov. Kate Brown in June will allow Oregon counties with 40,000 residents or less to deviate from that.
Some station managers told the paper Thursday that their attendants would continue servicing patron's cars just as it has been done since 1951.
"Our regular, longtime customers love coming here and talking to us while we pump their gas," said Shelby Perkins, a cashier at a 76 gas station in Prineville.
She added that wasn't sure regular customers even knew how to operate the pumps.
Darlene Forseth, manager at Main Station Express in Prineville and Justin Bidiman, owner of the Metolius Market in Metolius, said they will continue relying on attendants since their stations are not equipped for self-service.
"My equipment is not set up for credit cards," he said, "so we don't have any way of recording the gallons."
The Culver Shell & Feed in Prineville is part of the handful of gas stations that are ready for self-service, said owner Jeffrey Honeywell Thursday.
"We are going to take advantage of it," he said.
His gas station had changed to "sundown to sun-up" self-serve gas when the state legalized it in 2015.
There will be someone available to assist customers, Honeywell said.
Information from: The Bulletin, http://www.bendbulletin.com
Chanticleer to use blockchain for its rewards program
Wed, 03 Jan 2018 12:32
The speculative mania on anything related to cryptocurrencies is happening again in the new year.
Chanticleer Holdings (BURG), an owner of burger restaurants, said Tuesday it will use blockchain-related technology for its customer rewards program. The company also owns 9 Hooter's restaurants and is a minority investor in Hooter's of America.
"We wanted to expand our existing loyalty program with something that really changes the way our customers can leverage their rewards; Mobivity Merit is real cryptocurrency, leveraging the same infrastructure and principles of Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple, Litecoin, and more, and will enable our customers to make use of their rewards in entirely new ways," Michael Pruitt, chairman, president and CEO of Chanticleer Holdings, said in a release.
Chanticleer Holdings rose nearly 50 percent in Tuesday trading to almost $4 a share. The Nasdaq-traded stock had a market value of only $8 million through Friday so it's clearly buyer beware.
Several small stocks captured the speculative imagination of traders last month with this trick.
Longfin surged 1,342 percent in two days in mid-December to a market value of more than $3 billion after buying a cryptocurrency company with no revenue. The rally spurred the company's CEO to say "this market cap is not justified."
Perhaps most eye-popping of all, Long Island Iced Tea shares rose 183 percent on Dec. 21 after it announced it is changing its name to "Long Blockchain Corp." The company said it will focus on investing in the technology behind bitcoin.
China central bank can tell local governments to regulate bitcoin miners' power use: source
Wed, 03 Jan 2018 13:11
BEIJING (Reuters) - China's central bank told a top-level government internet finance group that the monetary authority can tell local governments to regulate the power usage of bitcoin miners to gradually reduce the scale of their production, a source said.
While the People's Bank of China (PBOC) can't directly regulate bitcoin miners' power usage, it can ask local authorities to do so, the central bank told members of the Leading Group of Beijing Internet Financial Risks Remediation at a meeting at the end of 2017, the source said.
Experts say China is one of the world's biggest sources of bitcoin mining, where miners solve complex mathematical puzzles with computers in order to be awarded virtual coins. The intensive use of computers for bitcoin mining has boosted demand for electricity.
In September China ordered all initial coin offerings to cease and all cryptocurrency trading exchanges to be shuttered with the aim of containing financial risks. Bitcoin miners have feared that they could be the next target.
At the meeting, the PBOC said development of bitcoin mining will be limited, according to the source, who declined to be named as he is not authorized to speak on the matter.
The PBOC could not be reached for immediate comment outside business hours.
Reporting by Ryan Woo and Beijing Newsroom; editing by Jason Neely
Hillary & Huma
From WSJ
NEW YORK—Two tech entrepreneurs, including a cousin of Huma Abedin who
invested in the film studio that made the “Twilight” movies, were convicted of
The men were found to have deceived shareholders of technology startup Kit
Digital from 2010 to 2012 by falsely inflating the company’s revenues.
Mr. Amanat is a first cousin of Ms. Abedin, a former aide to last year’s
Democratic presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton. He boasts on his website of
having helped make over 30 movies, including “The Hurt Locker” and the
“Twilight” films through his stake in Summit Entertainment, which produced the
U.S. District Judge Paul G. Gardephe revoked Mr. Amanat’s bail after
Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrea Griswold said he was a flight risk. Judge
Gardephe said Mr. Amanat deserved immediate incarceration, citing evidence that
Mr. Amanat had fabricated emails that he introduced at trial, demonstrating a
“disregard and a disdain for the courts and legal process.”
Mr. Tuzman will remain on electronic monitoring until sentencing. He was
extradited from Colombia in July 2016. The former Goldman Sachs analyst was
chairman and CEO of Kit Digital. He gained a measure of fame when he was
featured in the film “Startup.com,” which won
the Sundance Film Festival Grand Prize in 2001.
During the trial, the jury wasn’t permitted to hear a recorded telephone
conversation in which Amanat mentions Ms. Abedin to a government cooperator.
Defense lawyers had requested it be kept out of the trial, saying the
conversation was “irrelevant and unfairly prejudicial.”
“Particularly in New York, jurors are likely to have strong opinions
regarding the Clinton campaign and certain individuals connected to the
campaign,” the lawyers wrote. “Both supporters and those politically opposed to
Secretary Clinton could have reasons to be prejudiced against Mr. Amanat based
on his indirect connection to her.”
Huma Abedin Used Yahoo, That Was Hacked | The Daily Caller
Tue, 02 Jan 2018 13:24
Huma Abedin forwarded sensitive State Department emails, including passwords to government systems, to her personal Yahoo email account before every single Yahoo account was hacked, a Daily Caller News Foundation analysis of emails released as part of a lawsuit brought by Judicial Watch shows.
Abedin, the top aide to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, used her insecure personal email provider to conduct sensitive work. This guarantees that an account with high-level correspondence in Clinton's State Department was impacted by one or more of a series of breaches '-- at least one of which was perpetrated by a ''state-sponsored actor.''
The U.S. later charged Russian intelligence agent Igor Sushchin with hacking 500 million Yahoo email accounts. The initial hack occurred in 2014 and allowed his associates to access accounts into 2015 and 2016 by using forged cookies. Sushchin also worked for the Russian investment bank Renaissance Capital, which paid former President Bill Clinton $500,000 for a June 2010 speech in Moscow.
A separate hack in 2013 compromised three billion accounts across multiple Yahoo properties, and the culprit is still unclear. ''All Yahoo user accounts were affected by the August 2013 theft,'' the company said in a statement.
Abedin, Clinton's deputy chief of staff, regularly forwarded work emails to her personal [email protected] address. ''She would use these accounts if her (State) account was down or if she needed to print an email or document. Abedin further explained that it was difficult to print from the DoS system so she routinely forwarded emails to her non-DoS accounts so she could more easily print,'' an FBI report says.
Abedin sent passwords for her government laptop to her Yahoo account on Aug. 24, 2009, an email released by the State Department in September 2017 shows.
Long-time Clinton confidante Sid Blumenthal sent Clinton an email in July 2009 with the subject line: ''Important. Not for circulation. You only. Sid.'' The email began ''CONFIDENTIAL'... Re: Moscow Summit.'' Abedin forwarded the email to her Yahoo address, potentially making it visible to hackers.
The email was deemed too sensitive to release to the public and was redacted before being published pursuant to the Judicial Watch lawsuit. The released copy says ''Classified by DAS/ A/GIS, DoS on 10/30/2015 Class: Confidential.'' The unredacted portion reads: ''I have heard authoritatively from Bill Drozdiak, who is in Berlin'.... We should expect that the Germans and Russians will now cut their own separate deals on energy, regional security, etc.''
The three email accounts Abedin used were [email protected], [email protected], and [email protected] Though the emails released by the State Department partially redact personal email addresses, the Yahoo emails are displayed as humamabedin[redacted].
Clinton forwarded Abedin an email titled ''Ambassadors'' in March 2009 from Denis McDonough, who served as foreign policy adviser to former President Barack Obama's campaign and later as White House chief of staff. The email was heavily redacted before being released to the public.
Stuart Delery, chief of staff to the deputy attorney general, sent a draft memo titled ''PA/PLO Memo'' in May 2009, seemingly referring to two Palestinian groups. The content was withheld from the public with large letters spelling ''Page Denied.'' Abedin forwarded it to her Yahoo account.
Abedin routed sensitive information through Yahoo multiple times, such as notes on a call with the U.N. secretary-general, according to messages released under the lawsuit.
Contemporaneous news reports documented the security weaknesses of Yahoo while Abedin continued to use it. Credentials to 450,000 Yahoo accounts had been posted online, a July 2012 CNN article reported. Five days later, Abedin forwarded sensitive information to her personal Yahoo email.
Abedin received an email ''with the subject 'Re: your yahoo acct.' Abedin did not recall the email and provided that despite the content of the email she was not sure that her email account had ever been compromised,'' on Aug. 16, 2010, an FBI report says.
The FBI also asked her about sending other sensitive information to Yahoo. ''Abedin was shown an email dated October 4, 2009 with the subject 'Fwd: US interest in Pak Paper 10-04' which Abedin received from [redacted] and then forwarded to her Yahoo email account'.... At the time of the email, [redacted] worked for Richard Holbrooke who was the Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan (SRAP). Abedin was unaware of the classification of the document and stated that she did not make judgments on the classification of materials that she received,'' the report said.
The U.S. charged Sushchin with hacking half a billion Yahoo accounts in March 2017, in one of the largest cyber-breaches in history, the Associated Press reported. Sushchin was an intelligence agent with Russia's Federal Security Service '-- the successor to the KGB '-- and was also working as security director for Renaissance Capital, Russian media said.
''It is unknown to the grand jury whether [Renaissance] knew of his FSB affiliation,'' the indictment says.
Renaissance Capital paid Bill Clinton $500,000 for a speech in 2010 that was attended by Russian officials and corporate leaders. The speech received a thank-you note from Russian President Vladimir Putin. Renaissance Capital is owned by Russian oligarch Mikhail Prokhorov, who also owned the Brooklyn Nets basketball team. He unsuccessfully ran for Russian president against Putin in 2012.
Sushchin's indictment says ''the conspirators sought access to the Yahoo, Inc. email accounts of Russian journalists; Russian and U.S. government officials,'' and others. Information about the accounts such as usernames and password challenge questions and answers were stolen for 500 million accounts, the indictment says. The indictment does not mention Abedin's account.
A hacker called ''Peace'' claimed to be selling data from 200 million Yahoo users.
The user data also included people's alternate email addresses, that were often work accounts tying a Yahoo user to an organization of interest. The hackers were able to generate ''nonces'' that allowed them to read emails ''via external cookie minting'' for some accounts.
The New York Times reported that in the 2013 hack, which affected all Yahoo accounts, ''Digital thieves made off with names, birth dates, phone numbers and passwords of users that were encrypted with security that was easy to crack. The intruders also obtained the security questions and backup email addressed used to reset lost passwords '-- valuable information for someone trying to break into other accounts owned by the same user, and particularly useful to a hacker seeking to break into government computers around the world.''
Yahoo published a notification on Sept. 22, 2016, saying: ''Yahoo has confirmed that a copy of certain user account information was stolen from the company's network in late 2014 by what it believes is a state-sponsored actor.''
Clinton downplayed the risks of her email use days later, saying it was simply a matter of convenience.
''After a year-long investigation, there is no evidence that anyone hacked the server I was using and there is no evidence that anyone can point to at all, anyone who says otherwise has no basis, that any classified materials ended up in the wrong hands. I take classified materials very seriously and always have,'' Clinton said on Oct. 9, 2016, at the second presidential debate,
Abedin's use of Yahoo email is consistent with the determination by the FBI that Clinton associates' emails were, in fact, compromised. ''We do assess that hostile actors gained access to the private email accounts of individuals with whom Secretary Clinton was in regular contact from her private account,'' then-FBI director Jim Comey said in 2016.
Follow Luke on Twitter. Send tips to [email protected] . PGP key.
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Huma Abedin Forwarded Top Secret Passwords To Yahoo Account Hacked By Russian With Odd Clinton Connection | Zero Hedge
Wed, 03 Jan 2018 10:36
Huma Abedin forwarded a trove of sensitive emails to her personal Yahoo account, including passwords to government systems - before every single Yahoo account was affected by a massive hack conducted by a Russian security expert employed by the same Moscow bank former President Bill Clinton gave a $500,000 speech to in 2010, according to Luke Rosiak of the Daily Caller.
Huma Abedin, Igor Sushchin
As Hillary Clinton's Deputy Chief of Staff at the State Department, Abedin sent passwords for her government laptop to her Yahoo account on August 24, 2009, according to an email released in September 2017.
This wasn't the first time Abedin sent sensitive information through Yahoo. In addition to classified notes on a call with the U.N. secretary-general, Abedin received an email with the subject "Re: your yahoo acct." - establishing that others knew of her use of the email account for official business.
According to the Daily Caller:
Abedin received an email ''with the subject 'Re: your yahoo acct.' Abedin did not recall the email and provided that despite the content of the email she was not sure that her email account had ever been compromised,'' on Aug. 16, 2010, an FBI report says.
The FBI also asked her about sending other sensitive information to Yahoo. ''Abedin was shown an email dated October 4, 2009 with the subject 'Fwd: US interest in Pak Paper 10-04' which Abedin received from [redacted] and then forwarded to her Yahoo email account'.... At the time of the email, [redacted] worked for Richard Holbrooke who was the Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan (SRAP). Abedin was unaware of the classification of the document and stated that she did not make judgments on the classification of materials that she received,'' the report said.
After Abedin sent an unspecified number of sensitive emails to her Yahoo account, half a billion Yahoo accounts were hacked by Russian cybersecurity expert and Russian intelligence agent, Igor Sushchin, in 2014. The hack, one of the largest in history, allowed Sushchin's associates to access email accounts into 2015 and 2016.
At the time of the hacks, Sushchin was the security director for Renaissance Capital - the investment firm which paid Bill Clinton $500,000 for a speech in 2010 that was attended by Russian officials and corporate leaders. "The speech received a thank-you note from Russian President Vladimir Putin," wrote Luke Rosiak of The Caller.
Bill Clinton and Vladimir Putin
Sushchin's indictment says ''the conspirators sought access to the Yahoo, Inc. email accounts of Russian journalists; Russian and U.S. government officials,'' and others. Information about the accounts such as usernames and password challenge questions and answers were stolen for 500 million accounts, the indictment says. The indictment does not mention Abedin's account.
A hacker called ''Peace'' claimed to be selling data from 200 million Yahoo users. -Daily Caller
The United States charged Sushchin with the hacks in March, 2017. His indictment reads "the conspirators sought access to the Yahoo, Inc. email accounts of Russian journalists; Russian and U.S. government officials, and others. The New York Times reported that the Yahoo hack - which affected all Yahoo accounts, affected users' names, birth dates, phone numbers and passwords that were encrypted with easily cracked security. The intruders also made off with security questions and backup email information - which is particularly useful to hackers seeking to break into government computers worldwide.
While Clinton and Abedin woefully mishandled classified information, they were never prosecuted - after an investigation led by disgraced FBI counterintelligence agent Peter Strzok determined that Clinton's behavior did not warrant litigation. "We do assess that hostile actors gained access to the private email accounts of individuals with whom Secretary Clinton was in regular contact from her private account," said former FBI director Jim Comey in the agency's exoneration of the former Secretary of State.
In this case, the "hostile actor" was none other than a man employed by the very bank Bill Clinton gave a 2010 speech to for a cool half-million dollars. What a small world!
Finally, none of this was lost on Trump was promptly reacted on Tuesday morning, tweeting "Crooked Hillary Clinton's top aid, Huma Abedin, has been accused of disregarding basic security protocols. She put Classified Passwords into the hands of foreign agents. Remember sailors pictures on submarine? Jail! Deep State Justice Dept must finally act? Also on Comey & others"
Crooked Hillary Clinton's top aid, Huma Abedin, has been accused of disregarding basic security protocols. She put Classified Passwords into the hands of foreign agents. Remember sailors pictures on submarine? Jail! Deep State Justice Dept must finally act? Also on Comey & others
'-- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 2, 2018
Fire Contained At Bill, Hillary Clinton's Chappaqua Compound | Chappaqua Daily Voice
Thu, 04 Jan 2018 12:26
This story has been updated.
A fire that broke out at the Northern Westchester compound of former President Bill Clinton and his wife, 2016 Democratic presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton was "knocked down" Wednesday afternoon, according to multiple reports.
The wood fire began in the Secret Service facility on the Clintons property at 15 Old House Lane. The building was not connected to the Clintons; main home, according to Nick Merril, a spokesman for Hillary Clinton. The fire was called in at 2:51 p.m. according to New Castle Police.
No injuries were reported, New Castle Police said. The Clintons were not at home when the fire occurred. The Clintons purchased the home in 1999.
In 2016, the Clintons purchased an adjoining house to the original property. For Daily Voice's September 2016 report on the sale, click here.
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Voter Fraud
Executive Order on the Termination of Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity
By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, it is hereby ordered as follows:
Section 1. Executive Order 13799 of May 11, 2017 (Establishment of Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity), is hereby revoked, and the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity is accordingly terminated.
Sec. 2. General Provisions. (a) Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:
(i) the authority granted by law to an executive department, agency, or the head thereof; or
(ii) the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.
(b) This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.
(c) This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party (other than by the United States) against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.
January 3, 2018.
Statement by the Press Secretary on the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity
Despite substantial evidence of voter fraud, many states have refused to provide the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity with basic information relevant to its inquiry. Rather than engage in endless legal battles at taxpayer expense, today President Donald J. Trump signed an executive order to dissolve the Commission, and he has asked the Department of Homeland Security to review its initial findings and determine next courses of action.
When Corporate Social Responsibility Backfires: Theory and Evidence from a Natural Field Experiment
Wed, 03 Jan 2018 12:35
NBER Working Paper No. 24169
Issued in December 2017
NBER Program(s):Environment and Energy Economics, Labor Studies
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has become a cornerstone of modern business practice, developing from a ''why'' in the 1960s to a ''must'' today. Early empirical evidence on both the demand and supply sides has largely confirmed CSR's efficacy. This paper combines theory with a large-scale natural field experiment to connect CSR to an important but often neglected behavior: employee misconduct and shirking. Through employing more than 3000 workers, we find that our usage of CSR increases employee misbehavior - 20% more employees act detrimentally toward our firm by shirking on their primary job duty when we introduce CSR. Complementary treatments suggest that ''moral licensing'' is at work, in that the ''doing good'' nature of CSR induces workers to misbehave on another dimension that hurts the firm. In this way, our data highlight a potential dark cloud of CSR, and serve to forewarn that such business practices should not be blindly applied.
You may purchase this paper on-line in .pdf format from SSRN.com ($5) for electronic delivery.
Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX
Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w24169
Taylor Swift's 'Reputation' tour shaping up to be a disaster | New York Post
Tue, 02 Jan 2018 04:24
By Richard Morgan
January 1, 2018 | 9:09pm
Taylor Swift AP
What is Taylor Swift's ''Reputation'' worth? Not the jacked-up prices she's charging for concert tickets.
That's the verdict from ticked-off fans, who are balking at buying seats for the 28-year-old pop star's tour to promote her new ''Reputation'' album, citing stratospheric markups and greedy sales gimmicks.
''I paid $150 for my ticket with amazing seats for the 1989 tour. Now for the same seats I have to pay about $500,'' Twitter user ''swiftieloves'' recently griped.
A look at Ticketmaster's interactive seat charts confirms that Swift's schedule of 33 dates for the North American ''Reputation'' tour has yet to produce a single sellout, from its May 8 launch in Phoenix to its Oct. 6 finale in Arlington, Texas.
That's despite seats being available to the general public since Swift's birthday on Dec. 13. By comparison, all the dates on Swift's ''1989'' tour in 2015 ''sold out within minutes,'' according to concertsandsports.com.
''Sales so far have been a mega disappointment,'' one music-industry insider told The Post. ''There are hundreds if not thousands of tickets left for every show.''
The stumble out of the gate is especially embarrassing given that the ''Reputation'' album sold more than 1 million copies within four days of its Nov. 10 release.
On top of high prices, some prospective buyers are getting irked by Ticketmaster's ''Verified Fan'' program, which required participants to register weeks before tickets went on presale, proving they were and bona fide fans and not bots looking to buy tickets for scalpers.
Ticketmaster, which has used Verified Fan for U2 concerts, ''Hamilton,'' ''Springsteen on Broadway'' and other big shows, told The Post the program tries to ''provide fans with the most reliable access to tickets and combat bad actors that use bots that subvert that process.''
But Verified Fan '-- which got rebranded to ''Taylor Swift Tix'' for the tour '-- has added a controversial feature called ''boosts'' that promises fans a chance to ''improve [their] position in line to purchase tickets.''
Some boosts were innocuous, such as joining Swift's official mailing list. But others cost money, such as pre-ordering the ''Reputation'' album, shelling out $50 for a T-shirt or purchasing the $60 snake ring that Swift wore in her ''Look What You Made Me Do'' music video.
''To get 'further in line' to buy Taylor Swift tickets she wants you [to] buy merch from her '... this greedy snake,'' Twitter user ''Q_Taryntino'' fumed.
Music blogger Bob Lefsetz called Taylor Swift Tix ''a tone-deaf scam'' that amounts to ''upselling with a theoretical benefit'' rather than a guarantee of better seats.
Indeed, some fans who bought into the ''Reputation'' tour's presale between Dec. 5 and Dec. 8 got nasty surprises when tickets opened up to the general public five days later.
''I wasted my time buying with the presale code as the tickets available to the public were much better,'' Twitter user ''paigelizabethh'' wrote.
''Any particular reason that #Reputation tickets in the 100s section during presale last week were $446 APIECE and now they're $267????'' asked ''bigbiiisch''.
Ticketmaster touted Taylor Swift Tix as ''an unparalleled success,'' saying it delivered ''the biggest registration we've ever had.''
By charging higher prices and blocking out scalpers, Swift and her promoter Louis Messina could fatten their coffers by as much as $1.5 million per show, according to an estimate in Billboard.
That sounds like a shrewd business strategy, but Swift still has a lot of tickets to sell to make that upside. In the meantime, the ''Swifties'' are getting restless.
''Taylor Swift's 1989 tour tickets sold out in only a couple of hours,'' one disaffected fan, alexiam77, tweeted. ''Today, you can *still* get really well-placed Reputation floor seats. If that doesn't tell you your tickets are too expensive, idk what will.''
Swift's tour promoter, Messina, didn't respond to requests for comment. Swift's music distributor, Universal, said it wasn't immediately able to comment.
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Men Going Their Own Way - Wikipedia
Tue, 02 Jan 2018 05:27
MGTOW use the word gynocentric to describe conditions that favor women to the detriment of men, and are opposed to such circumstances.[8][6] MGTOW believe that there is a systemic gynocentric bias against men including double standards in gender roles, bias against men in family courts, lack of concern for men falsely accused of rape and lack of consequences for their accusers.[9]
Views on heterosexual relationships Edit According to the columnist Martin Daubney, members of the MGTOW community believe that legal and romantic entanglements with women fail a cost''benefit analysis and risk''benefit analysis.[10] Jeremy Nicholson, writing for Psychology Today, similarly described MGTOW as "guys who have been frustrated and punished to the point that they see no further incentive to relate [to dating] [...], they focus on making themselves happy".[11]Kay Hymowitz has stated that some self-identified MGTOW express discontent because they see women as hypergamous and manipulative.[12] The Business Insider reporter Dylan Love wrote a "fully-realized MGTOW (there are levels to it) is someone who shuns all relationships with women, short-term, long-term, romantic, and otherwise. He eventually shuns society as a whole."[13] Some MGTOW have many short-term casual relationships or engage in sex with prostitutes.[9] Celibacy, however, is also an option. A MGTOW that chooses celibacy over relationships is said to be "going monk"[14] and some embrace maintaining their virginity.[15][16]
MGTOW focus on self-ownership rather than changing the status quo, distinct from the men's rights movement.[9] MGTOW see feminists, "white knights", social justice warriors, the LGBT rights movement and support for "safe spaces" as obstacles to male self-ownership.[15][dubious '' discuss ] MGTOW have been criticized by the seduction community for being cult-like, antithetical to human nature, and likened to separatist feminism.[9] MGTOW have a reciprocal disdain for the seduction community.[9] Politically, MGTOW have been variously associated with libertarianism,[15] the alt-right,[15][17] and philosophical anarchism.[9]
Herbivore men Edit According to Roselina Salemi, writing for La Repubblica, the Japanese concept of herbivore men is a subset of MGTOW.[18] Mack Lamoureux writing in Vice sees herbivore men as a consequence of Japanese socioeconomic conditions and MGTOW as an ideological choice.[4] In a DELFI article MGTOW are described as a protest against feminist laws in the West whereas herbivore men are a response to traditional gender roles in Japan, such as those of salarymen.[19] Isaac Simpson writing for Animals magazine likens MGTOW to a Western version of Japanese herbivore men with the caveat that herbivore men are typically not angry, politically motivated or engaged in criticism of gender roles.[20] Kashmira Gander writing for The Independent sees herbivore men serving as role models for MGTOW.[15]
Here's Tucker Carlson's handy list of 100 racist things from 2017. Is your favorite on the list? '' twitchy.com
Wed, 03 Jan 2018 10:19
Posted at 6:50 pm on December 22, 2017 by Greg P.
It's the end of the year, so we'll be seeing a lot of these end-of-the-year lists, but this one from Tucker Carlson is a keeper.
Behold, the 100 Racist Things from 2017!
Is your favorite on the list?
And 100.
Silicon Valley is developing a 'raw water' obsession - Business Insider
Thu, 04 Jan 2018 12:54
Live Water is flying off the shelves '-- but it could be dangerous. Live Water
People in San Francisco are spending up to $61 for untreated, unfiltered water '-- and it is so popular that stores are apparently having a hard time keeping it in stock.Other Silicon Valley insiders are gathering and storing untreated spring water, The New York Times reported.But food-safety experts say that consuming "raw" water can lead to infections such as cholera, hepatitis A, and E. coli.Silicon Valley is developing a "raw water" obsession.
In San Francisco, "unfiltered, untreated, unsterilized spring water" from a company called Live Water is selling for up to $61 for a 2.5-gallon jug '-- and it's flying off the shelves, The New York Times reported.
Startups dedicated to untreated water are also gaining steam. Zero Mass Water, which doesn't sell raw water but sells tech that allows people to collect water from the atmosphere near their homes, has already raised $24 million in venture capital, the report says.
Juicero's founder, Doug Evans, is a fan of raw water. Juicero
People are gathering gallons of untreated water from natural springs, venturing out onto private property by night to get the water, according to The Times.
Doug Evans, the founder of a startup called Juicero that shut down in September, told The Times that he and his friends brought 50 gallons of raw water to the Burning Man festival last year.
"I'm extreme about health, I know, but I'm not alone with this," Evans said. "There are a lot of people doing this with me. You never know who you'll run into at the spring."
On Tuesday, Business Insider's Melia Robinson visited a San Francisco supermarket where Live Water sells its untreated water. Rainbow Grocery was sold out of its Fountain of Truth spring water, but a sign indicated a "slight price increase.">
An empty container on a shelf in Rainbow Grocery in San Francisco, where Live Water is sold. Melia Robinson/Business Insider
Rainbow Grocery is expecting a new shipment of Live Water on January 4. Melia Robinson/Business Insider
The cost of a 2.5-gallon jug had increased to $61 from $37 since The Times published its article on Friday.
While the price includes the glass container, a refill costs only $15, according to The Times.
Melia Robinson/Business Insider
Though fans of the untreated water are not backed by science, many told The Times they felt confident they were getting health benefits from drinking it.
For example, Mukhande Singh, the founder of Live Water, told the publication his startup's water expired after a few months '-- something he said was normal for "real water."
"It stays most fresh within one lunar cycle of delivery," Singh said. "If it sits around too long, it'll turn green. People don't even realize that because all their water's dead, so they never see it turn green."
However, food-safety experts say there is no evidence that untreated water is better for you. In fact, they say that drinking untreated water could be dangerous.
"Almost everything conceivable that can make you sick can be found in water," one such expert, Bill Marler, told Business Insider. That includes bacteria that can cause diseases or infections such as cholera, E. coli, hepatitis A, and giardia.
"You can't stop consenting adults from being stupid," Marler said. "But we should at least try."
Melia Robinson contributed reporting to this article.
Did President Obama Read the 'Steele Dossier' in the White House Last August? '' Tablet Magazine
Wed, 03 Jan 2018 10:06
To date the investigation into the Fusion GPS-manufactured collusion scandal has focused largely on the firm itself, its allies in the press, as well as contacts in the Department of Justice and FBI. However, if a sitting president used the instruments of state, including the intelligence community, to disseminate and legitimize a piece of paid opposition research in order to first obtain warrants to spy on the other party's campaign, and then to de-legitimize the results of an election once the other party's candidate won, we're looking at a scandal that dwarfs Watergate'--a story not about a bad man in the White House, but about the subversion of key security institutions that are charged with protecting core elements of our democratic process while operating largely in the shadows.
A Tablet investigation using public sources to trace the evolution of the now-famous dossier suggests that central elements of the Russiagate scandal emerged not from the British ex-spy Christopher Steele's top-secret ''sources'' in the Russian government'--which are unlikely to exist separate from Russian government control'--but from a series of stories that Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson and his wife Mary Jacoby co-wrote for TheWall Street Journal well before Fusion GPS existed, and Donald Trump was simply another loud-mouthed Manhattan real estate millionaire. Understanding the origins of the ''Steele dossier'' is especially important because of what it tells us about the nature and the workings of what its supporters would hopefully describe as an ongoing campaign to remove the elected president of the United States. Yet the involvement of sitting intelligence officials'--and a sitting president'--in such a campaign should be a frightening thought even to people who despise Trump and oppose every single one of his policies, especially in an age where the possibilities for such abuses have been multiplied by the power of secret courts, wide-spectrum surveillance, and the centralized creation and control of story-lines that live on social media while being fed from inside protected nodes of the federal bureaucracy.
In a Facebook post from June 24, 2017, that Tablet has seen in screenshots, Jacoby claimed that her husband deserves the lion's share of credit for Russiagate. (She has not replied to repeated requests for comment.) ''It's come to my attention that some people still don't realize what Glenn's role was in exposing Putin's control of Donald Trump,'' Jacoby wrote. ''Let's be clear. Glenn conducted the investigation. Glenn hired Chris Steele. Chris Steele worked for Glenn.'' This assertion is hardly a simple assertion of family pride; it goes directly to the nature of what became known as the ''Steele dossier,'' on which the Russiagate narrative is founded. The fact that Jacoby is a reporter who often shared bylines with her husband at TheWall Street Journal is another reason to take her Facebook post seriously.
Last week's revelation that Simpson hired Nellie Ohr, the wife of ranking Justice Department official Bruce Ohr, to work on the dossier certainly supports Jacoby's implicit contention that Steele's role in compiling the dossier has been exaggerated. Ohr is a Stanford Ph.D. whose expertise is Russia, and she appears to be fluent in the language. Perhaps she conducted interviews, along with'--or even instead of'--the British ex-spy whose byline helped credential the now-famous oppo research file as an ''intelligence product.'' Maybe she wrote up parts of the dossier or even the whole thing.
In any case, the history of the ''Steele dossier'' doesn't begin with Christopher Steele or Nellie Ohr in the summer of 2016; it begins with a story that Glenn Simpson and Mary Jacoby co-wrote for TheWall Street Journal dated April 17, 2007. ''How Lobbyists Help Ex-Soviets Woo Washington'' details how prominent Republicans, including the 1996 Republican presidential candidate Robert Dole, opened doors in the American capital for Kremlin-affiliated oligarchs and other friends of Vladimir Putin. Among those friends of Putin was Viktor Yanukovich, who would become president of Ukraine in 2010. According to the article, one of Yanukovich's wealthy patrons paid a political fixer named Paul Manafort to introduce Yanukovich to powerful Washington, D.C., figures, including former Vice President Dick Cheney. Manafort figures prominently throughout the piece.
A year later, when Simpson and Jacoby discovered that a consultant to John McCain's 2008 presidential run was working with Yanukovich, they could hardly have been surprised to find Paul Manafort in the middle of a new scandal. As they reported in another Wall Street Journal article, dated May 14, 2008, Davis Manafort, Manafort's lobbying firm, was escorting Yanukovich around Washington. For instance, in 2006, Manafort accompanied him at a breakfast for journalists at the Willard Hotel.
Simpson and Jacoby had ID'd Manafort as a world-class sleazeball and they were right. A slick Georgetown Law grad running in GOP circles since the Reagan campaign, Manafort used his talents and connections to get paid by some very bad people. I would only add here that, in my personal experience, journalists are not in the habit of forgetting major stories they've written, especially stories with a character like Manafort at the center.
So when the Trump campaign named Paul Manafort as its campaign convention manager on March 28, 2016, you can bet that Simpson and Jacoby's eyes lit up. And as it happened, at the exact same time that Trump hired Manafort, Fusion GPS was in negotiations with Perkins Coie, the law firm representing the Clinton campaign and the DNC, to see if there was interest in the firm continuing the opposition research on the Trump campaign they had started for the Washington Free Beacon. In addition to whatever sales pitch Simpson might have offered about Manafort, the Clinton campaign had independent reason to believe that research into Manafort's connections might pay some real political dividends: A Democratic consultant and Ukrainian-American activist named Alexandra Chalupa, told the Clinton campaign about Manafort's work for Yanukovich. ''I flagged for the DNC the significance of his hire,'' Chalupa told CNN in July of this year.
Perhaps it was this alignment of the stars that clinched the deal. According to an Oct. 24, 2017, letter from Perkins Coie, the firm hired Fusion GPS to continue its research in April, shortly after Manafort was hired by Trump.
Once you understand that Simpson knew exactly who Paul Manafort was, it's impossible not to spot the former journalist's creative wit sprinkled throughout the dossier, which uses the tantalizing figure of ''PUTIN'' to draw attention to corruption that Glenn Simpson knew was entirely real from his own reporting. ''Ex-Ukrainian President YANUKOVYCH confides directly to PUTIN that he authorised (sic) kick-back payments to MANAFORT, as alleged in western media,'' the dossier relates. ''Assures Russian President however there is no documentary evidence/trail.''
It's as if Simpson has hung a ''Kick Me'' sign on Manafort to encourage some prosecutor to find the ''documentary evidence/trail'' that did in fact exist. Sure enough, Special Counselor for the Russia investigations Robert Mueller found it. The October indictment charges Manafort with laundering millions that came from Yanukovich. Manafort's relationship with Yanukovich was widely known inside Ukrainian political circles, as well as to Clinton campaign head John Podesta's brother Tony Podesta, who worked directly for Manafort while he represented Yanukovich.
Another charge in Mueller's indictment against Manafort is that in lobbying U.S. officials on behalf of Ukraine he failed to register as a foreign agent. The fact that he failed to do so even after Simpson and Jacoby pinged him publicly nearly a decade ago, twice, for his work with Yanukovich, is an important detail because it suggests Manafort wasn't just corrupt and deceitful but displayed an arrogance bordering on sociopathic'--which is the kind of personal characteristic that no attentive journalist is likely to miss, and which should certainly disqualify someone from a role in American public life. It is a fair bet that all of us, including'--or especially'--Trump's supporters owe Simpson and Jacoby thanks for ridding American politics of Paul Manafort.
So maybe that's how Simpson first envisioned what became known as the ''Steele dossier'''--a way to nail Paul Manafort, who was clearly and openly a very bad guy. But if the dirt Simpson had on Manafort gave the opposition research a clear target'--Trump's possible connections to Russia, through his apparently dirty and sociopathic campaign manager'--the problem it seems was none of Fusion GPS's principals, former reporters with plenty of experience covering stories around the world, knew very much about Russia, the country that was the ostensible subject of their research. Otherwise, it is inconceivable that Fusion GPS would have taken on a project from pro-Kremlin elements to undermine an American law, the Magnitsky Act, at the same time it was being paid by the Clinton campaign and DNC to tie the Trump campaign to pro-Kremlin elements. Perhaps Christopher Steele was hired to disguise that apparent contradiction.
In June, three months after being hired by the lawyers for the Clinton campaign and the DNC, Simpson brought on Steele'--but Steele hadn't lived or worked in Russia in nearly 25 years. Since he was identified as a British spy in 1999, and was head of the Russia desk when Russian assassins killed FSB defector Alexander Litvinenko in a sushi restaurant in the British capital, Steele was hardly in a position to make discreet inquiries. Still, Simpson must have thought Steele's name at a minimum would be useful in marketing whatever his firm pulled together. Reportedly, Steele had a good relationship with the FBI, and journalists love spies who spill secrets.
Nellie Ohr, Fusion's next hire, spoke Russian and wrote well enough to publish in academic journals. But she hadn't lived in Russia for decades either, and she was not a spy, or even a journalist. In this world, she was definitely an amateur. Presumably, as a result of all the above, much of the reporting in the dossier is recognizably the kind of patter that locals in closed or semi-closed societies engage in to impress expats'--the kind of thing you hear in a bar, or on the cab ride from the airport to the hotel. So you're telling me this guy Carter Page, whoalmost no one in Moscow has heard of, was offered a 19 percent stake in Rosneft'--worth around $10 billion'--if Trump relieved sanctions on Russia? Da'--some say even 21 percent.
That Fusion GPS had apparently little on Russia, never mind on Trump's dealings in Russia, is partly a reflection of the sorry state of U.S. government expertise and insight into a country that two decades ago was derided as a scrap-heap, and which President Obama appeared to dismiss during the 2012 campaign as largely a figment of the outdated Cold War imagination of his opponent. Intelligence resources were badly needed elsewhere'--to track terrorists, or spy on America's putative allies, or summon up a contest for power in Teheran between hard-liners and moderates. Obama believed that reset with Russia was a foreign-policy priority, and he needed Vladimir Putin's support on Iran sanctions. Later he needed Putin on his side to make sure the Iran deal went through. Mucking around too aggressively in Putin's inner circle was likely to cause more problems than it solved. As a result, even America's top spies knew very little about what went on inside Russia.
There were some well-placed observers who saw this vacuum as a potential threat. The chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence said so, right around the time the Clinton campaign and the DNC brought on Fusion GPS to investigate Manafort and Trump's Russia ties. As HPSCI chair, Devin Nunes is part of the gang of eight, the four congressmen and four senators who have oversight of the entire intelligence community, and know what secrets we know and what we don't. Nunes told CNN on April 12, 2016, many months before the Russiagate narrative went public, that when it comes to Russia, the United States was flying blind.
It would be hard to take issue with Nunes' assessment. The U.S. intelligence community was surprised by Putin's takeover of Crimea. When Russia escalated its military presence in Syria in the late summer of 2015, U.S. intelligence was again caught off-guard'--even though Moscow was sending troops and arms through the Bosporus, a waterway controlled by a NATO member. ''The biggest intelligence failure we've had since 9/11,'' Nunes told Jake Tapper, ''has been the inability to predict the leadership plans and intentions of the Putin regime in Russia.''
It's hardly surprising, then, that the intelligence community did not immediately identify Russia as responsible for the hack of DNC emails, either. Instead, it was the DNC itself and the Clinton campaign that pointed the finger at the Russians. After discovering some unusual network activity in late April 2016, a DNC executive called a committee lawyer at Perkins Coie, who put them in touch with CrowdStrike. It was CrowdStrike that first said Russian state actors were behind the hack and leaked them to Wikileaks. After the emails were released July 22, Clinton campaign chief Robby Mook told ABC News that ''some experts are now telling us that this was done by the Russians for the purpose of helping Donald Trump.''
Which experts? The tech experts at CrowdStrike might be able to tell you who did something but not why. Mook doesn't name the ''experts'' who had clued him in to Russia's intentions'--but the DNC and Clinton campaign did have an oppo-research firm under contract that was in the middle of putting together a file that would claim that the Russians were trying to get Trump elected. Since Steele authored the dossier's first memo a month before Mook's comment, on June 20, it seems fair to assume that Mook understood the thrust of the dossier, which the campaign had paid for, and that his claim regarding Russia's intentions is the first public reference to the dossier.
An FBI spokesperson said the bureau was looking at the breach but did not comment on whether the bureau was looking into the possible political motivation behind the hack. And yet right around that time, late July, the FBI opened an investigation into possible collusion between Trump campaign officials and Russian operatives. According to TheNew York Times, ''only a dozen or so people at the FBI knew about the investigation,'' including director James Comey and Peter Strzok, who was chosen to supervise the investigation.
Later, in her June 24 Facebook post, Mary Jacoby would accuse the FBI of ineptitude. In her Facebook post, she calls the Oct. 31, 2016, New York Times story, ''Investigating Russia, FBI Sees No Clear Link to Trump,'' which cleared Trump of connections to the Putin government, ''ignominious.'' ''That bogus story had a profound effect just before the election,'' Jacoby writes. '' 'Move on, nothing to see here'...' ''
In contrast to the FBI, according to Jacoby, the CIA ''hopped to and immediately worked to verify it. By August 2016 the CIA had verified the key finding of the dossier to the point that, as TheWashington Post revealed, it was ''having 'eyes only' top secret meetings with Obama about it.''
What? Former CIA Director John Brennan testified in front of the House Intelligence Committee this May that the dossier ''wasn't part of the corpus of intel information we had '... it was not used in any way as a basis.'' But Jacoby says he brought it to President Obama?
It seems that Glenn Simpson's wife may be correct again.
In April TheNew York Timesreported that last summer Brennan was so concerned about Russian efforts to help Trump that he briefed top lawmakers, including Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid. ''In the August briefing for Mr. Reid,'' the Times related, ''Mr. Brennan indicated that the CIA, focused on foreign intelligence, was limited in its legal ability to investigate possible connections to Mr. Trump.''
That briefing prompted Reid to write a public letter to the agency responsible for collecting domestic intelligence. On Aug. 29 , Reid wrote to FBI Director James Comey that the threat of Russian interference ''is more extensive than is widely known and may include the intent to falsify official election results.'' Recent classified briefings from senior intelligence officials, Reid told TheNew York Times in an interview, have left him fearful that President Vladimir V. Putin's ''goal is tampering with this election.''
Was the dossier the source of that explosive information?
In October, shortly after Comey reopened the investigation into Hillary Clinton's emails, Reid wrote another public letter to the FBI chief. This one is even more heated'--Reid was angry that Comey seemed to be turning the heat up on Clinton while letting Trump slide. ''In my communications with you and other top officials in the national security community,'' writes Reid, ''it has become clear that you possess explosive information about close ties and coordination between Donald Trump, his top advisers, and the Russian government'--a foreign interest openly hostile to the United States, which Trump praises at every opportunity,'' he said. ''I wrote to you months ago calling for this information to be released to the public '... and yet, you continue to resist calls to inform the public of this critical information.''
What ''information'' was Reid referring to? According to David Corn's Oct. 31, 2016, article in Mother Jones, the Nevada lawmaker was referencing the findings of ''a former senior intelligence officer for a Western country who specialized in Russian counterintelligence.'' Corn now explains that the ''former Western intelligence officer'--who spent almost two decades on Russian intelligence matters and who now works with a U.S. firm that gathers information on Russia for corporate clients'' is Christopher Steele. According to Corn, Steele said that ''in recent months he provided the bureau with memos, based on his recent interactions with Russian sources, contending the Russian government has for years tried to co-opt and assist Trump.''
It appears that Brennan was briefing Reid on the Steele dossier.
It's hard not to feel some sympathy for Comey in this situation. He's trying to keep a whole bunch of balls in the air at the same time. He's got an open investigation on Clinton, the emails, and Trump, the possible ties to Russia, while he's trying to keep the FBI flying straight. On top of that, he's now got the Senate minority leader haranguing him publicly for not releasing material that the FBI chief later calls ''salacious and unverified.''
Comey surely assumed that Brennan has put Reid up to writing the letter'--and even worse, he knew that his counterpart at Langley was talking about it with their boss. Last August, the White House began convening high-level meetings to discuss Russian interference in the 2016 elections. It began, according to a June 23, 2017, Washington Postarticle, when ''an envelope with extraordinary handling restrictions arrived at the White House. Sent by courier from the CIA, it carried ''eyes only'' instructions that its contents be shown to just four people: President Barack Obama and three senior aides.''
This is the Post article that Mary Jacoby was writing the day after it appeared. So was the Steele dossier in the envelope?
''Inside was an intelligence bombshell,'' write Greg Miller, Ellen Nakashima, and Adam Entous,
a report drawn from sourcing deep inside the Russian government that detailed Russian President Vladimir Putin's direct involvement in a cyber campaign to disrupt and discredit the U.S. presidential race.
But it went further. The intelligence captured Putin's specific instructions on the operation's audacious objectives'--defeat or at least damage the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, and help elect her opponent, Donald Trump.
It sure sounds like the dossier'--but it may well be a different file, one Brennan couldn't share even with Reid, another member of the gang of eight, whom it seems he had already briefed on the dossier. Indeed the article explains that the ''material was so sensitive that CIA Director John O. Brennan kept it out of the president's daily brief, concerned that even that restricted report's distribution was too broad.''
But if the material was so sensitive that it had to be kept out of the PDB and withheld from the Senate minority leader, why was someone telling TheWashington Post about it? Sources and methods are the crown jewels of the American intelligence community. And yet someone has just told a major American newspaper about a ''report drawn from sourcing deep inside the Russian government '... that captured Putin's specific instructions.'' If the CIA had a human intelligence source that close to Putin, publication of the Post article could have exposed that source'--doing incalculable damage to American national security. He and many of his loved ones would then have presumably died horrible deaths.
Or, as Mary Jacoby surmised, it was her husband's handiwork that landed on the president's desk.
Read Lee Smith'sNews of the Newscolumn here.
Lee Smith is the author ofThe Consequences of Syria.
Manafort sues Mueller, Justice Department over Russia probe
Wed, 03 Jan 2018 21:13
WASHINGTON (AP) '-- President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman sued special counsel Robert Mueller and the Justice Department on Wednesday, saying prosecutors had overstepped their bounds by charging him for conduct that he says is unrelated to Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
The lawsuit by Paul Manafort, filed in federal court in Washington, is the most direct challenge to date to Mueller's legal authority and the scope of his mandate as special counsel. It comes amid Republican allegations of partisan bias among members of Mueller's team, which for months has been investigating whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia to influence the outcome of the U.S. election.
Manafort was indicted in October on charges related to his lobbying work on behalf of a Russia-friendly Ukrainian political party. He has pleaded not guilty.
He alleges in his lawsuit that the investigation into "decade-old business dealings" is "completely unmoored" from the mandate Mueller was given when he was appointed in May by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
"Those alleged dealings had no connection whatsoever to the 2016 presidential election or even to Donald Trump. Nor were they uncovered in the course of the Special Counsel's probe into President Trump's campaign," the suit alleges.
The lawsuit also argues that Rosenstein's order appointing Mueller was overly broad and arbitrary.
Manafort's lawyer, Kevin Downing, did not immediately return a call seeking comment. A spokesman for Mueller's office, Peter Carr, declined to comment.
Trump Tower meeting with Russians 'treasonous', Bannon says in explosive book | US news | The Guardian
Wed, 03 Jan 2018 20:36
Steve Bannon exits an elevator in the lobby of Trump Tower on 11 November 2016 in New York City. Other Trump campaign officials met with Russians there in June 2016. Photograph: Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Donald Trump's former chief strategist Steve Bannon has described the Trump Tower meeting between the president's son and a group of Russians during the 2016 election campaign as ''treasonous'' and ''unpatriotic'', according to an explosive new book seen by the Guardian.
Bannon, speaking to author Michael Wolff, warned that the investigation into alleged collusion with the Kremlin will focus on money laundering and predicted: ''They're going to crack Don Junior like an egg on national TV.''
Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, reportedly based on more than 200 interviews with the president, his inner circle and players in and around the administration, is one of the most eagerly awaited political books of the year. In it, Wolff lifts the lid on a White House lurching from crisis to crisis amid internecine warfare, with even some of Trump's closest allies expressing contempt for him.
Bannon, who was chief executive of the Trump campaign in its final three months, then White House chief strategist for seven months before returning to the rightwing Breitbart News, is a central figure in the nasty, cutthroat drama, quoted extensively, often in salty language.
He is particularly scathing about a June 2016 meeting involving Trump's son Donald Jr, son-in-law Jared Kushner, then campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya at Trump Tower in New York. A trusted intermediary had promised documents that would ''incriminate'' rival Hillary Clinton but instead of alerting the FBI to a potential assault on American democracy by a foreign power, Trump Jr replied in an email: ''I love it.''
The meeting was revealed by the New York Times in July last year, prompting Trump Jr to say no consequential material was produced. Soon after, Wolff writes, Bannon remarked mockingly: ''The three senior guys in the campaign thought it was a good idea to meet with a foreign government inside Trump Tower in the conference room on the 25th floor '' with no lawyers. They didn't have any lawyers.
''Even if you thought that this was not treasonous, or unpatriotic, or bad shit, and I happen to think it's all of that, you should have called the FBI immediately.''
Bannon went on, Wolff writes, to say that if any such meeting had to take place, it should have been set up ''in a Holiday Inn in Manchester, New Hampshire, with your lawyers who meet with these people''. Any information, he said, could then be ''dump[ed] '... down to Breitbart or something like that, or maybe some other more legitimate publication''.
Bannon added: ''You never see it, you never know it, because you don't need to '... But that's the brain trust that they had.''
Bannon also speculated that Trump Jr had involved his father in the meeting. ''The chance that Don Jr did not walk these jumos up to his father's office on the twenty-sixth floor is zero.''
InteractiveSpecial counsel Robert Mueller was appointed last May, following Trump's dismissal of FBI director James Comey, to investigate Russian meddling in the 2016 election. This has led to the indictments of four members of Trump's inner circle, including Manafort and former national security adviser Michael Flynn. Manafort has pleaded not guilty to money laundering charges; Flynn has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI. In recent weeks Bannon's Breitbart News and other conservative outlets have accused Mueller's team of bias against the president.
Trump predicted in an interview with the New York Times last week that the special counsel was ''going to be fair'', though he also said the investigation ''makes the country look very bad''. The president and his allies deny any collusion with Russia and the Kremlin has denied interfering.
Bannon has criticised Trump's decision to fire Comey. In Wolff's book, obtained by the Guardian ahead of publication from a bookseller in New England, he suggests White House hopes for a quick end to the Mueller investigation are gravely misplaced.
''You realise where this is going,'' he is quoted as saying. ''This is all about money laundering. Mueller chose [senior prosecutor Andrew] Weissmann first and he is a money-laundering guy. Their path to fucking Trump goes right through Paul Manafort, Don Jr and Jared Kushner '... It's as plain as a hair on your face.''
Last month it was reported that federal prosecutors had subpoenaed records from Deutsche Bank, the German financial institution that has lent hundreds of millions of dollars to the Kushner property empire. Bannon continues: ''It goes through Deutsche Bank and all the Kushner shit. The Kushner shit is greasy. They're going to go right through that. They're going to roll those two guys up and say play me or trade me.''
Scorning apparent White House insouciance, Bannon reaches for a hurricane metaphor: ''They're sitting on a beach trying to stop a Category Five.''
He insists that he knows no Russians, will not be a witness, will not hire a lawyer and will not appear on national television answering questions.
Fire and Fury will be published next week. Wolff is a prominent media critic and columnist who has written for the Guardian and is a biographer of Rupert Murdoch. He previously conducted interviews for the Hollywood Reporter with Trump in June 2016 and Bannon a few months later.
He told the Guardian in November that to research the book, he showed up at the White House with no agenda but wanting to ''find out what the insiders were really thinking and feeling''. He enjoyed extraordinary access to Trump and senior officials and advisers, he said, sometimes at critical moments of the fledgling presidency.
The rancour between Bannon and ''Javanka'' '' Kushner and his wife Ivanka Trump '' is a recurring theme of the book. Kushner and Ivanka are Jewish. Henry Kissinger, the former secretary of state, is quoted as saying: ''It is a war between the Jews and the non-Jews.''
Trump is not spared. Wolff writes that Thomas Barrack Jr, a billionaire who is one of the president's oldest associates, allegedly told a friend: ''He's not only crazy, he's stupid.'' Barrack denied that to the New York Times.
For those who actually read the Lame Cherry
Thu, 04 Jan 2018 03:41
As another exclusive in Lame Cherry matter anti matter.
I was reading the New York Times quoting Steve Bannon in the new expose on Trumpland by Tom Wolff, that the White House is in meltdown over, and found this quote which I am reposting as I told everyone this in what Robert Mueller was fixated on, and what Donald Trump was whining about in Mueller did not go after Trump's finances (The reason I reported is Mueller already had the financial records) as it was proof Donald Trump was innocent.
According to Mr. Wolff, Mr. Bannon also predicted that a special counsel investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 election and any coordination with Trump aides would ultimately center on money laundering, an assessment that could lend credibility to an investigation the president has repeatedly called a witch hunt. ''They're going to crack Don Junior like an egg on national TV,'' Mr. Bannon was quoted as saying.
Yes it is that money laundering. The Lame Cherry posted on this as Inquiry into the Matrix was indicating that is what this was all about. Jared Kushner is like a money whore. Everything he does is about lucre and no one is yet looking at that Croatian vacation he took in 2016 with Ivanka in another deal which was struck and cut, and is why Joe Biden was in the Balkans, and is why this has all been covered up in the media.
Inquiry pointed to there was a plot to dirty up Trump with Russian money. That overt plan did not take place, but what Bannon revealed from the DIA is Jared told Ivanka and Ivanka pranced upstairs to tell daddy and Don jr. sat on his lap while Paul Manafort told the story of the Hillary Dirt meeting.
I will point out that there is nothing illegal about Russians having a meeting with any campaign staff in stating they had dirt on Hillary. What is criminal, but not treasonous is what Jared Kushner is involved in with money, because we know that Jared and Ivanka threw Don jr. to the wolves to protect themselves by diverting attention to that meeting in Trump Tower.
Do not loose sight in this of what this blog has posted in the Jewish state was behind all of this, and has been guiding it, to gain control of the Trump White House, which it has succeeded at as Donald Trump is employing the Pentagon to answer to Tel Aviv's policy and fighting for Iran.
Don jr. is pinned as everyone's weak link. It is why the Kushner's fingered him and why Bannon focused on him.
There is a money trail in this Russiagate which this blog posted on first in another Lame Cherry exclusive in matter anti matter.
It is why Trump Sphere is going nuts over this book, because Ivanka made daddy order John Kelly to have Steven Miller write that Bannon was nuts. The Kushner's just proved by their attack today, hiding behind Donald Trump, that the 30 pieces of silver do exist in the Kushner purse.
Diamonds from first daughter Ivanka Trump's now-defunct fine jewelry line were allegedly used in a massive money-laundering and fraud scheme, according to a federal ...A powerful oil trading family used first daughter Ivanka Trump's defunct jewelry business to conceal roughly $100 million it owed to the Commercial Bank of Dubai, GQ ...Broker who spearheaded sale of a Trump-branded project did business with a money launderer for Colombian drug cartels and two criminals from former Soviet Union See it was not the first time and explains why Ivanka threw Don jr. to the wolves in Jared cutting a deal with Robert Mueller.
Nuff Said
New York Times' Trump - Russia Collusion Narrative Reset -- George Papadopoulos & Carter Page | National Review
Thu, 04 Jan 2018 15:18
' T rump Adviser's Visit to Moscow Got the F.B.I.'s Attention.'' That was the page-one headline the New York Times ran on April 20, 2017, above its breathless report that ''a catalyst for the F.B.I. investigation into connections between Russia and President Trump's campaign'' was a June 2016 visit to Moscow by Carter Page.
It was due to the Moscow trip by Page, dubbed a ''foreign policy adviser'' to the campaign, that ''the F.B.I. obtained a warrant from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court'' in September '-- i.e., during the stretch run of the presidential campaign.
You're to be forgiven if you're feeling dizzy. It may not be too much New Year's reverie; it may be that you're reeling over the Times' holiday-weekend volte-face: ''How the Russia Inquiry Began: A Campaign Aide, Drinks and Talk of Political Dirt.''
Seven months after throwing Carter Page as fuel on the collusion fire lit by then-FBI director James Comey's stunning public disclosure that the Bureau was investigating possible Trump campaign ''coordination'' in Russia's election meddling, the Gray Lady now says: Never mind. We're onto Collusion 2.0, in which it is George Papadopoulos '-- then a 28-year-old whose idea of r(C)sum(C) enhancement was to feign participation in the Model U.N. '-- who triggered the FBI's massive probe by . . . wait for it . . . a night of boozy blather in London.
What's going on here?
Well, it turns out the Page angle and thus the collusion narrative itself is beset by an Obama-administration scandal: Slowly but surely, it has emerged that the Justice Department and FBI very likely targeted Page because of the Steele dossier, a Clinton-campaign opposition-research screed disguised as intelligence reporting. Increasingly, it appears that the Bureau failed to verify Steele's allegations before the DOJ used some of them to bolster an application for a spying warrant from the FISA court (i.e., the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court).
Thanks to the persistence of the House Intelligence Committee led by Chairman Devin Nunes (R., Calif.), the dossier story won't go away. Thus, Democrats and their media friends have been moving the goal posts in an effort to save their collusion narrative. First, we were led to believe the dossier was no big deal because the FBI would surely have corroborated any information before the DOJ fed it to a federal judge in a warrant application. Then, when the Clinton campaign's role in commissioning the dossier came to light, we were told it was impertinent to ask about what the FBI did, if anything, to corroborate it since this could imperil intelligence methods and sources '-- and, besides, such questions were just a distraction from the all-important Mueller investigation (which the dossier had a hand in instigating and which, to date, has turned up no evidence of a Trump-Russia conspiracy).
Lately, the story has morphed into this: Well, even if the dossier was used, it was only used a little '-- there simply must have been lots of other evidence that Trump was in cahoots with Putin. But that's not going to fly: Putting aside the dearth of collusion evidence after well over a year of aggressive investigation, the dossier is partisan propaganda. If it was not adequately corroborated by the FBI, and if the Justice Department, without disclosing its provenance to the court, nevertheless relied on any part of it in a FISA application, that is a major problem.
So now, a new strategy to prop up the collusion tale: Never mind Page '-- lookee over here at Papadopoulos!
But that's not what they were saying in April, when the collusion narrative and Democratic calls for a special prosecutor were in full bloom.
Back then, no fewer than six of the Times' top reporters, along with a researcher, worked their anonymous ''current and former law enforcement and intelligence officials'' in order to generate the Page blockbuster. With these leaks, the paper confidently reported: ''From the Russia trip of the once-obscure Mr. Page grew a wide-ranging investigation, now accompanied by two congressional inquiries, that has cast a shadow over the early months of the Trump administration'' [emphasis added].
Oh sure, the Times acknowledged that there might have been a couple of other factors involved. ''Paul Manafort, then [i.e., during Page's trip] Mr. Trump's campaign manager, was already under criminal investigation in connection with payments from a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine.'' And ''WikiLeaks and two websites later identified as Russian intelligence fronts had begun releasing emails obtained when Democratic Party servers were hacked.''
But the trigger for the investigation '-- the ''catalyst'' '-- was Page.
Somehow, despite all that journalistic leg-work and all those insider sources, the name George Papadopoulos does not appear in the Times' story.
Now, however, we're supposed to forget about Page. According to the new bombshell dropped on New Year's Eve by six Times reporters, it was ''the hacking'' coupled with ''the revelation that a member of the Trump campaign'' '-- Papadopoulos '-- ''may have had inside information about it'' that were ''driving factors that led the F.B.I. to open an investigation in July 2016 into Russia's attempts to disrupt the election and whether any of President Trump's associates conspired.''
It seems like only yesterday '-- or, to be more precise, only late October, when he pled guilty to a count of lying to the FBI in the Mueller probe '-- that Mr. Papadopoulos was even more obscure than the ''once-obscure Mr. Page.'' Now, though, he has been elevated to ''the improbable match that set off a blaze that has consumed the first year of the Trump administration.''
But hey, if you're willing to hang in there through the first 36 paragraphs of the Times' nearly 3,000-word Papadopoulos report, you'll find the fleeting observation that ''A trip to Moscow by another adviser, Carter Page, also raised concerns at the F.B.I.''
You don't say!
Page and the Dossier Problem
Again, until this weekend, Page was the eye of the collusion storm. And as I outlined in a column last weekend, a significant part of what got the FBI and the Obama Justice Department stirred up about Page's July 2016 trip to Moscow was the Steele dossier '-- the anti-Trump reports compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele. Alas, six months after the Times' planted its feet on Page as the linchpin of the Trump-Russia investigation, we learned that the dossier was actually an opposition-research project paid for by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee. We further learned that at Fusion GPS, the research firm that retained Steele for the project, Steele collaborated on it with Nellie Ohr, the wife of top Justice Department official Bruce Ohr '-- and that Bruce Ohr had personally been briefed on the project by Steele and a Fusion GPS executive.
It is an explosive problem, this use of the dossier by the Obama Justice Department and the FBI in an application to the FISA court for authority to spy on Trump's associates. Politically, it suggests that the collusion narrative peddled by Democrats and the media since Trump's victory in the November election was substantially driven by partisan propaganda. Legally, it raises the distinct possibilities that (a) the FBI did not adequately verify the claims in the dossier before using them in an application to the secret federal court; and (b) the Justice Department of the then-incumbent Democratic administration did not disclose to the court that the dossier was produced by the Democratic presidential campaign for use against the rival Republican candidate.
When it emerged in October that the dossier was a Democratic-party campaign product, Representative Trey Gowdy (R., S.C.) recounted that, for months, the Justice Department and FBI had stonewalled House demands that they fess up about whether dossier allegations were used in applying for the FISA-court warrant to surveil Page. But though the DOJ and the Bureau have struggled to lock the barn, the horse left long ago. Shortly before the Times ran its Page extravaganza last April, CNN confirmed that the dossier had indeed been used to obtain the FISA warrant '-- the network relying on unnamed ''US officials briefed on the [Russia] investigation.''
I won't hazard a guess on which of CNN's anonymous sources are also the Times' anonymous sources. But it is safe to say the intelligence community, still suffused with Obama holdovers, has been undone by its own illegal leaking. Back in April, they leaked because they figured it would wound President Trump: After all, if the dossier had been used to obtain a FISA warrant, that must mean that the dossier's sensational allegations of a traitorous Trump-Russia conspiracy were true. That is, the leakers assumed, just as many of us familiar with the FISA process assumed, that the Justice Department would never put information in a FISA warrant application unless the FBI had first corroborated it.
Subsequently, however, former FBI director James Comey told a Senate committee that the dossier remained ''salacious and unverified.'' Obviously, if the FBI had not verified the dossier by the time Comey testified in June 2017, then the Bureau cannot possibly have verified the dossier when DOJ sought the FISA warrant nine months earlier, in September 2016.
Then in October, it emerged that the Clinton campaign paid for the dossier. More recently, we learned that anti-Trump bias ran rampant in the upper ranks of the Bureau and the Justice Department '-- to the point that a top FBI counterintelligence agent spoke of the Bureau's need for an ''insurance policy'' against the risk of a Trump presidency. Right before Christmas, reporting from Fox News strongly suggested that the FBI, though apparently aware that the dossier was a partisan campaign project, had verified none of its sensational claims. Finally, in a Fox News interview on Sunday, Senator Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.), who has inspected relevant classified documents, indicated that the Justice Department used the dossier in its application without disclosing its partisan political genesis to the FISA court (see Paul Mirengoff's Powerline post with embedded video).
All of this comes back to Carter Page, heretofore the anchor of the media's collusion narrative. The link between Page and the dossier is manifest. As I outlined in last weekend's column, the FBI began receiving the dossier's explosive reports shortly after Page's Russia trip. Steele's reports, based on anonymous Russian sources, alleged that (a) there was an explicit Trump-Russia conspiracy to interfere in the 2016 election, (b) the conspiracy included Russian hacking of Democratic email accounts in which Trump campaign officials, including Page, were complicit, and (c) Page met with two top Kremlin operatives on the Moscow trip '-- operatives who discussed with him a quid pro quo arrangement to drop sanctions against Russia, floated the possibility of providing the Trump campaign with ''kompromat'' (compromising information) on Hillary Clinton, and warned that Trump better be careful because the Putin regime had a kompromat file on him, too.
It has become increasingly clear that Steele's claims about Page are, at best, highly dubious; more likely, they are untrue. Aside from the fact that Comey has been dismissive of the dossier as ''unverified,'' Page has vigorously and plausibly denied its allegations about him. The Annapolis grad and former naval-intelligence officer insists he is not even acquainted with the Russian officials with whom he supposedly had traitorous meetings. Moreover, if the Russian regime truly wanted to make insidious proposals to Trump, it had emissaries far better positioned to approach him; it strains credulity to believe the Kremlin would turn to Page '-- barely known to Trump and, years earlier, derided as an ''idiot'' by a Russian intelligence operative who tried to recruit him.
Papadopoulos and the New 'Russian Reset'
So now, with the Page foundation of the collusion narrative collapsing, and with the heat on over the Obama administration's use of the dossier, it is apparently Papadopoulos to the rescue.
In the Times' new version of events, it was not the dossier that ''so alarmed American officials to provoke the F.B.I. to open a counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign months before the presidential election.'' That, according to the Times, is a false claim that ''Mr. Trump and other politicians have alleged.'' Somehow, the paper omits the inconvenient details that it was the Times that led the charge in claiming that it was Page's trip to Moscow that provoked the investigation, and that it was the dossier that so alarmed the FBI about that trip.
In what we might think of as the latest ''Russian Reset,'' the Times now says the investigation was instigated by ''firsthand information from one of America's closest intelligence allies'' '-- Australia. Turns out Papadopoulos was out drinking in London with Alexander Downer, ''Australia's top diplomat in Britain.'' Tongue loosened, the ''young foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign'' made a ''startling revelation'' to Downer: He had learned that ''Russia had political dirt on Hillary Clinton.''
Because of the ''Statement of the Offense'' that Special Counsel Mueller filed with the court when Papadopoulos pled guilty, the Times and the rest of us now know that a few weeks earlier (on April 26), Papadopoulos was told by a Maltese academic who purported to have Kremlin ties that Russia had ''thousands of emails'' that could damage Hillary Clinton. We also know that in July, hacked Democratic-party emails began being published.
With that established, we're now told that when the emails were leaked, Australian officials put two and two together, figuring these emails might be what Papadopoulos was talking about ''that night at the Kensington Wine Room.'' The Aussies thus tipped off their American counterparts to the barroom conversation between Papadopoulos and Downer. That, not the dossier explicitly alleging a Trump-Russia conspiracy, is what provoked the investigation. You can take it to the bank. After all, the Times has gotten this revisionist history from ''four American and foreign officials with direct knowledge of the Australians' role'' '-- i.e., from the same sort of unidentified, unaccountable sources that brought you the Page-centric version of events that has now been discarded.
To say this story has holes in it does not do justice to the craters on display. To begin with, the Times admits that ''exactly how much Mr. Papadopoulos said'' to Downer ''is unclear.'' What we are dealing with here is sheer supposition. And, it appears, flawed supposition.
As I pointed out after Papadopoulos pled guilty, he was told that the Russians had ''emails of Clinton.'' But the hacked emails that were published were not Clinton's emails; they were those of the DNC and John Podesta '-- exceedingly few of which Clinton was even included on, much less participated in. Given the amount of misinformation the credulous Papadopoulos was given (one of his interlocutors falsely posed as Putin's niece), the likelihood is that he was being toyed with: Remember, there was much speculation at the time, including by Trump himself, that the Russians (and other foreign intelligence services) might have hacked former secretary Clinton's unsecure private server and obtained the 30,000-plus emails that she refused to surrender to the State Department; it is probable that these were the emails Papadopoulos's dubious Russian connections purported to be dangling.
There is no evidence that Papadopoulos or the Trump campaign was ever shown or given any of the emails the Kremlin purportedly had. The evidence, in fact, undermines the collusion narrative: If the Trump campaign had to learn, through Papadopoulos, that Russia supposedly had thousands of emails damaging to Clinton, that would necessarily mean the Trump campaign had nothing to do with Russia's acquisition of the emails. This, no doubt, is why Mueller permitted Papadopoulos to plead guilty to a mere process crime '-- lying in an FBI interview. If there were evidence of an actual collusion conspiracy, Papadopoulos would have been pressured to admit guilt to it. He wasn't.
Even a cursory FBI investigation of Papadopoulos would have illustrated how implausible it was that he could have been integral to a Trump-Russia plot. Anonymous intelligence and law-enforcement officials have been leaking collusion information to the Times and other media outlets since before Trump won the November 2016 election '-- that's why we've spent the last year-plus hearing all about Page, Manafort, Flynn, et al. If Papadopoulos had really been the impetus for the investigation way back in July 2016, what are the chances that we would never have heard his name mentioned until after his guilty plea was announced 15 months later? What are the chances that we'd only now be learning that he was the real stimulus for the investigation? I'd put it at less than none.
There's another interesting word that does not appear in the Times' extensive Papadopoulos report: surveillance. Despite being ''so alarmed'' by young Papadopoulos's barroom braggadocio with the Australian diplomat, and his claimed Russia connections, there is no indication that the Obama Justice Department and FBI ever sought a FISA-court warrant to spy on him.
No, the FISA warrant was sought for Carter Page, after his trip to Moscow. The trip the Times used to say incited the Trump-Russia probe.
Withhold Judgment on the New York Times' Latest Russia Scoop
The Papadopoulos Case
Was the Steel Dossier the FBI's 'Insurance Policy'?
'-- Andrew C. McCarthy is a contributing editor ofNational Review and a senior fellow of the National Review Institute.
History of US Homelessness
There used to be these
places called “state hospitals” where persons with mental and substance abuse
problems could reside and be cared for in a humane way. In the 1970s, the then
SJWs decided that these were bad places that needed to be closed. (See “One
Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.”) It became a civil rights crusade to free these
poor souls from their cruel confinement.
It also became a BOGOF
for the politicians. They could be SJW heroes for closing down these bad
places. And by closing down these bad places, they also freed up hundreds of
millions of dollars to spend on other stuff.
A few astute individuals
warned that de-housing (yes ironically, de-housing) these people would not
work. See attached commentary from Harper’s magazine in 1975 written by Mark
Vonnegut, Kurt Vonnegut’s son, now a doctor.
Up until the recent
housing affordability crisis (i.e., the hollowing out of the U.S. economy by
the War Machine and corporate kleptocrats), most homeless people suffered from
mental problems and/or substance abuse. Now they are increasingly being joined
by the regular slaves, which created the opportunity for politicians to
prosecute a new, endless war, that is the war against homelessness.
THFYC! Kris Sundberg, Mercer Island, WA
33 More Businesses Raise Wages, Give Bonuses in Wake of Tax Cuts
Thu, 04 Jan 2018 03:20
More businesses are announcing bonuses, higher minimum wages, and new benefits for employees after passage by Congress of Republicans' tax reform bill.
An email from House Speaker Paul Ryan's press office highlights 33 businesses'--including Aflac, Associated Bank, and PNC Bank'--that have announced raises, bonuses, and other improvements for employees.
In moves that may defuse efforts to mandate higher minimum wages across the nation, at least nine of the 33 businesses announced they are boosting their minimum wage for thousands of workers to $15 or more an hour.
''Happy New Year and welcome to 2018, where Americans are waking up across the country with a brand new, pro-growth tax code,'' the Wisconsin Republican's press office says. ''Despite the doom and gloom rhetoric from the left and special-interest groups, millions of hardworking people are already seeing benefits.''
Among developments:
Insurance company Aflac says it will boost U.S. investments by $250 million and increase 401(k) benefits for employees, including a one-time contribution of $500 to every worker's retirement savings account.
Associated Bank announced a $500 bonus for nearly all employees and an increase in its minimum wage from $10 per hour to $15 per hour, and PNC Bank is giving a $1,000 bonus to 47,500 workers and a $1,500 boost to workers' existing pension accounts.
Southwest Airlines announced a $1,000 cash bonus for all employees, including part-timers, plus $5 million in charitable donations.
President Donald Trump, who made passing tax reform a top goal of his first year in office and signed the bill into law Dec. 22, has praised businesses for their positive response.
Republicans' tax reform package maintains the current seven tax brackets but lowers rates to 10, 12, 22, 24, 32, 35, and 37 percent.
The package caps at $10,000 the state and local tax deduction, which allows taxpayers who itemize instead of taking the standard deduction to deduct from federal taxable income any property and income taxes paid to state or local governments.
The package repeals Obamacare's mandate for individuals to buy health insurance, increases the $1,000 child tax credit to $2,000, and provides a $500 credit for child dependents who aren't minors.
The legislation reduces the federal corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent and repeals the corporate alternative minimum tax .
Hours after Congress passed the legislation, AT&T announced it would give a $1,000 bonus to over 200,000 U.S. employees and invest $1 billion in the economy and Boeing announced a $300 million investment, as The Daily Signal previously reported.
>>> Companies Announce Bonuses, Raises Following Tax Reform Legislation Passage
CVS announced it would hire 3,000 new workers and FedEx said it would increase hiring .
Adam Michel, policy analyst for economic studies at The Heritage Foundation, told The Daily Signal in an email Wednesday that such announcements are just the beginning.
''Raises, bonuses, and new investments spurred by tax reform show that the Republicans' tax reform is working how they said it would,'' Michel said, adding:
Businesses across America are putting their tax cuts to work for the American people. This first wave of stories is great news, but the real benefits are yet to come. Tax reform expands the economic pie so that more Americans will be better off.
As businesses and their competitors continue to increase investment in the U.S., workers' yearly wages will also go up and underemployed households will see the biggest benefits from new jobs.
Below is the list of the groups and businesses included in the email from Ryan's office. The full list may be viewed here.
Aflac: $250 million boost in U.S. investments and increased 401(k) benefits, including one-time contribution of $500 to every employee's retirement savings account.
American Savings Bank: $1,000 bonus to 1,150 employees, nearly the entire workforce, and increase of minimum wage from $12.21 an hour to $15.15.
Aquesta Financial Holdings: $1,000 bonus to all employees, increase in minimum wage to $15 per hour.
Associated Bank: $500 bonus to nearly all employees and increased minimum wage to $15 per hour, up from $10.
AT&T: $1,000 bonus to all 200,000 U.S. workers and $1 billion boost in U.S. investments.
Bank of America: $1,000 bonus for about 145,000 U.S. employees.
Bank of Hawaii: $1,000 bonus for 2,074 employees, or 95 percent of its workforce, and increase of minimum wage from $12 to $15.
BB&T Corp.: $1,200 bonus for almost three-fourths of associates, or 27,000 employees, and increase in minimum wage from $12 to $15.
Boeing: $300 million boost in investments to employee gift-match programs, workforce development, and workplace improvements.
Central Pacific Bank: $1,000 bonus to all 850 nonexecutive employees and increase in minimum wage from $12 to $15.25.
Comcast NBCUniversal: $1,000 bonus for more than 100,000 employees.
Deleware Supermarkets Inc.: $150 bonus to 1,000 nonmanagement employees and $150,000 in new investment in employee training and development programs.
Express Employment Prc: $2,000 bonus to all nonexecutive employees at Oklahoma City headquarters.
Fifth Third Bancorp: $1,000 bonus for all 13,500 employees and increase of minimum wage to $15 for nearly 3,000 workers.
First Hawaiian Bank: $1,500 bonus for all 2,264 employees and increase in minimum wage to $15.
First Horizon National Corp.: $1,000 bonus to employees who do not participate in company-sponsored bonus plans.
Kansas City Southern: $1,000 bonus to employees of subsidiaries in the U.S. and Mexico.
Melaleuca: $100 bonus for every year an employee has worked for the company'--an average of $800 for each of 2,000 workers.
National Bank Holdings Corp.: $1,000 bonus to all noncommissioned associates who earn a base salary under $50,000.
Nelnet: $1,000 bonus for nearly all of 4,100 employees.
Nephron Parmaceuticals: wage increase of 5 percent for its 640 employees.
Nexus: wage increase of 5 percent and plans to hire 200 workers in 2018.
OceanFirst Bank: increase in minimum wage from $13.60 to $15, affecting at least 166 employees.
PNC Bank: $1,000 bonus to 47,500 employees and $1,500 increase to existing pension accounts.
Pinnacle Bank: $1,000 bonus for all full-time employees in Nebraska, Kansas, and Missouri.
Pioneer Credit Recovery: $1,000 bonus to employees.
Rush Enterprises Inc.: $1,000 discretionary bonus to 6,600 U.S. employees.
Sinclair Broadcast: $1,000 bonus to nearly 9,000 employees.
SunTrust: increase of minimum wage to $15, $50 million increase in community grants, 1 percent 401(k) contribution for all employees.
Turning Point Brands, Inc.: $1,000 bonus to 107 employees.
Washington Federal, Inc.: wage increase of 5 percent for employees earning less than $100,000 per year and increased investments in technology infrastructure and community projects.
Wells Fargo: increase in minimum wage from $13.50 to $15, and higher charitable giving by about 40 percent, to $400 million.
Western Alliance: wage increase of 7.5 percent for the lowest-paid 50 percent of employees.
NYC Apartment Sales Collapse 25% In Q4 As Trump Tax Plan Takes Its Toll
Thu, 04 Jan 2018 03:25
Apparently the combination of a massive flood of excess supply in the form of new luxury developments and a Trump tax plan that penalizes people living in expensive cities by capping SALT, mortgage interest and property tax deductions was simply too much for the Manhattan real estate market to ignore in 4Q 2017. As Douglas Elliman points out in their new Q4 2017 Manhattan Market Report, both prices (-9.4%) and volumes (-25.4%) of New York City apartments collapsed sequentially in Q4 as potential buyers took a pause amid the growing uncertainty.
Sales activity for the Manhattan housing market was at the lowest fourth quarter total in six years. The pace of the fall market noticeably cooled as market participants awaited the housing-related terms of the new federal tax bill. This translated into a decline in year over year closings for the final quarter of the year, although contract volume showed an uptick.
There were 2,514 sales to close in the final quarter of the year, down 12.3% from the prior-year quarter. The decline in sales allowed listing inventory to rise after declining year over year for the past few quarters. There were 5,451 listings at the end of the quarter, up 1.1% from the same period a year ago. As a result, the absorption rate, the number of months to sell all inventory at the current rate of sales slowed, rising to 6.5 months from 5.6 months in the year-ago quarter.
Listing discount, the percentage difference between the list price at the date of sale and the sales price, was 5.4% up nominally from 5.3% in the prior year quarter as sellers continued to travel farther to meet the buyer on price. Buyers continued to hold firm, forcing sellers to meet them on price.
Days on market, the average number of days to sell all apartments that closed during the quarter rose 3.2% to 97 days from 94 days in than the same period last year.
New development active listings and resale listings were up 0.7% and 1.2% respectively over the same period. With the nominal rise in supply, there was also a nominal decline in bidding wars, still accounting for 11.7% of all sales in the quarter, down 0.9% from the same period last year.
Per the chart below, 4Q closings in Manhattan fell to the lowest level recorded since early 2012/2013.
Meanwhile, re-sale volumes, down 26.9%...
...were actually hit harder than new developments which were only down 16.1%.
Finally, the "Luxury Market" was absolutely obliterated in Q4 with average prices down 21% year-over-year, or roughly $2 million, as closings fell back to levels last recorded in 2011.
Not surprisingly, Pamela Liebman, the president of New York real estate broker The Corcoran Group, attributed the pause by Manhattan buyers to the tax bill and said that folks are increasingly convinced that prices peaked in 2017 and may continue to be under pressure.
''We lost a lot of deals in the fourth quarter, while people waited to see the outcome of the tax bill," she said. ''Now that the uncertainty is gone they will be able to make a decision.''
She said buyers were active but ''focused on value and reasonable pricing.''
''The good news is there are a lot of buyers who are ready to purchase next year,'' Ms. Liebman said. ''Sellers who don't overshoot the mark should do well.''
Of course, the fact that Manhattan real estate prices are coming under pressure should come as little surprise as we noted the following interactive map from ATTOM Data Solutions last week which perfectly illustrated just how concentrated mortgages over $750,000 are in a handful of expensive cities like New York and San Francisco.
Among 2,022 counties included in this analysis and at least 50 home purchase loans so far in 2017, those with the highest share of loan originations above $750,000 were New York County (Manhattan), New York (63.8 percent); San Francisco County, California (58.0 percent); Nantucket County, Massachusetts (57.3 percent); San Mateo County, California (55.2 percent); and Marin County, California (50.o percent). Among those same 2,022 counties, those with the highest number of purchase home loan originations above $750,000 so far in 2017 were Los Angeles County, California (9,197); Santa Clara County, California (5,543); Orange County, California (4,450); Maricopa County, Arizona (3,723); and King County, Washington (3,715).
Conclusion: Low-tax, cheap cost of living states (i.e. "Red States") are suddenly starting to look a lot more attractive to liberal "millionaire, billionaire, private jet owners" in New York who aren't so keen on "spreading their wealth around" as their rhetoric would have you believe.
Mar-a-Lago NYT Scam
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Partisans, Wielding Money, Begin Seeking to Exploit Harassment Claims - The New York Times
Mon, 01 Jan 2018 10:41
Gloria Allred, left, a high-profile women's rights lawyer and Democratic donor, is raising money to fund a lawsuit against President Trump by Summer Zervos, right, who has said he sexually assaulted her. Credit Jeenah Moon for The New York Times WASHINGTON '-- As the #MeToo movement to expose sexual harassment roils the nation's capital, political partisans are exploiting the moment, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars to support accusers who come forward with charges against President Trump and members of Congress, even amid questions about their motivation.
As accusations take on a partisan tint, activists and lawyers fear that such an evolution could damage a movement that has shaken Hollywood, Silicon Valley, media suites in New York and the hallways of Congress '-- and has taken down both a Democratic fund-raiser, Harvey Weinstein, and a conservative stalwart, Bill O'Reilly.
''There is a danger in this environment that unsophisticated individuals who have been abused by powerful people could be exploited by groups seeking partisan advantage, or by lawyers seeking a moment in the limelight,'' said Debra Katz, a Washington lawyer who has brought sexual harassment cases against politicians from both parties.
The lawyers and operatives behind the most politically charged cases brush off those concerns.
''I approach this with a pure heart,'' said Jack Burkman, a flamboyant Republican lawyer known for right-wing conspiracy theories who is seeking to represent sexual harassment victims. ''I don't want to see it politicized, even though, in a democracy, you see the political weaponization of everything.''
Gloria Allred, a high-profile women's rights lawyer and Democratic donor, is raising money to fund a lawsuit against Mr. Trump by a woman who says he sexually assaulted her. The woman, Summer Zervos, has filed a defamation suit against the president that could force Mr. Trump to respond to sexual misconduct accusations made in the closing weeks of the campaign by a raft of women.
And a nonprofit group founded by the Democratic activist David Brock, which people familiar with the arrangements say secretly spent $200,000 on an unsuccessful effort to bring forward accusations of sexual misconduct against Mr. Trump before Election Day, is considering creating a fund to encourage victims to bring forward similar claims against Republican politicians.
Activists on the right are also involved. In November, the Trump-backing social media agitator Mike Cernovich offered to pay $10,000 for details of any congressional sexual harassment settlements, and said on Twitter that he would cover the expenses of ''any VICTIM of a Congressman who wants to come forward to tell her story.'' Shortly before posting that offer, a source provided Mr. Cernovich with a copy of a sexual harassment settlement that led in December to the resignation of Representative John Conyers Jr., Democrat of Michigan, until then the longest-serving member of the House.
And Mr. Burkman, who has suggested that Russian hit men killed a young Democratic National Committee aide during the 2016 election, emerged in October to offer his services to women accusing Mr. Weinstein of sexual misconduct. He had never handled a sexual harassment matter before.
Seth Rich Murder Investigation Ad Credit Video by The Publicity Agency Those pushing the sexual harassment claims say they are just trying to level a playing field that has long favored powerful men, discouraging their victims from coming forward, and silencing many who do using confidential settlements.
Mike Cernovich, a conservative social media agitator, has offered money to anyone with details of sexual harassment settlements with members of Congress. Credit Sam Hodgson for The New York Times ''You got to sweeten the pot a little bit,'' Mr. Cernovich said. A lawyer by training, he said he was shocked that the person who gave him the Conyers documents declined his offer to pay for them.
But, he said, ''if somebody had a settlement like Conyers, I would gladly, gladly pay for that.''
Money could have costs.
''If you're getting money from someone who has an ax to grind against the person you're accusing of unlawful activity, that most certainly opens the door to a line of questioning that very well could undermine the veracity of your client's story,'' said Douglas H. Wigdor, a leading New York employment lawyer who has brought a barrage of lawsuits against powerful men and institutions in recent years.
The partisan efforts have already sparked some backlash. Mr. Cernovich and the far-right activist Charles C. Johnson, had to back away from claims that they possessed a sexual harassment settlement that would bring down a leading Democratic senator when it became apparent that the document '-- which targeted the Senate Democratic leader, Chuck Schumer of New York '-- was a forgery, lifting passages verbatim from the Conyers complaint unearthed by Mr. Cernovich. Mr. Schumer referred the matter to the Capitol Hill police for a criminal investigation.
''I like to hype things in advance, and this looked pretty good,'' Mr. Cernovich said. ''I definitely learned a lesson there.''
Mr. Cernovich is an unlikely champion for sexual harassment victims, given his previous career as an anti-feminist blogger who cast doubt on date-rape allegations and wrote posts with headlines like ''Misogyny Gets You Laid.''
Money's RoleIt is difficult to determine how much money has been raised to fund claims related to sexual harassment, since there are no public disclosure requirements for most such donations. But the solicitations seem likely to fuel skepticism.
Supporters of Republican politicians who have been accused of sexual misconduct '-- including Mr. Trump and the failed Republican Senate candidate Roy S. Moore of Alabama '-- have fought back by suggesting, mostly without evidence, that their accusers are being paid by Democratic partisans.
Some Democrats have ascribed political motivation to sexual harassment claims against their politicians as well, including those that led to the resignation of Senator Al Franken of Minnesota. His defenders point out that Mr. Franken's initial accuser, Leeann Tweeden, had appeared as a semiregular guest on the Fox News Channel show hosted by Sean Hannity, a = confidant of Mr. Trump.
Hannity: Dr. Gina, Leeann Tweeden, & Kimberly Guilfoyle on hacked celebrity photos Credit Video by Dr.Gina Loudon Fueling Democratic suspicions was a Twitter message linked to a Trump political adviser, Roger Stone, that surfaced hours before Ms. Tweeden's initial charges: ''Roger Stone says it's Al Franken's 'time in the barrel'. Franken next in long list of Democrats to be accused of 'grabby' behavior.''
Mr. Stone has said he ''had no hand in it at all,'' but was tipped off by a source ''within the Fox network'' that the allegation was coming.
Ms. Allred said she was not concerned about the motivations of partisans who might fund Ms. Zervos's case against Mr. Trump.
''I have neither the time nor the interest to interview each donor and ask them why they would want to support our client,'' she said, ''so I have no way to know whether they have a political agenda, or they just think truth matters.''
Ms. Allred maintains an active online appeal for Ms. Zervos's case, and has personally solicited donations from influential Democrats. She has discussed fund-raising assistance with Mr. Brock, once a self-described ''right-wing hit man'' who switched sides and eventually became one of Hillary Clinton's fiercest loyalists during her campaign against Mr. Trump.
Ms. Allred said her fund-raising for the Zervos case has so far yielded ''just under $30,000,'' mostly in of small donations. The money is being used for expenses like depositions and has not gone to pay legal fees, which already have reached $150,000, said Ms. Allred, who added that neither she nor Ms. Zervos would personally accept any of the money raised.
''We certainly do not see any prospect of being paid by the fund based on the amounts donated to date,'' she wrote in an email. ''Nevertheless, we will continue to devote ourselves to Ms. Zervos's case because we believe, as does Ms. Zervos, that truth matters and that President Trump should be held accountable for his words and his actions.''
During the presidential campaign, Ms. Zervos said Mr. Trump sexually assaulted her in 2007, after she appeared as a contestant on his reality TV show, ''The Apprentice.'' He dismissed her accusations and those of other accusers as ''made-up nonsense'' and suggested they were motivated by fame, or were being put up to it by Mrs. Clinton's campaign '-- comments that formed the basis for the defamation suit Ms. Zervos filed after the election. A judge is deciding whether to allow the lawsuit to proceed.
A Long HistoryQuestions about the financing and motivations behind sexual harassment charges targeting politicians are not new.
In 1993, Mr. Brock first revealed sexual harassment accusations against President Bill Clinton by a former Arkansas state employee, Paula Jones, in the American Spectator magazine, which received $1.8 million for its scrutiny of the Clintons from the conservative banking heir Richard Mellon Scaife.
Ms. Jones's harassment lawsuit came to be funded by a conservative legal nonprofit called the Rutherford Institute, which had never before handled a sexual harassment case.
David Brock helped uncover and promote charges of sexual misconduct against President Bill Clinton before becoming a stalwart backer of Hillary Clinton in 2016. He is now considering creating a fund to encourage victims to bring forward sexual misconduct claims against Republican politicians. Credit Todd Heisler/The New York Times Mr. Clinton eventually paid Ms. Jones $850,000 to drop her lawsuit in 1999. But by then, a deposition given by Mr. Clinton in the lawsuit '-- in which he denied a sexual relationship with the former White House intern Monica S. Lewinsky '-- had set in motion a process that ended with Mr. Clinton's impeachment.
Ms. Allred's daughter, the lawyer Lisa Bloom, seized on the political potency of sexual harassment charges against Mr. Trump not long after he clinched the Republican presidential nomination. She said she reached out to a pro-Clinton ''super PAC'' '-- though she declined to identify which one '-- for money to help her vet a sexual misconduct claim against Mr. Trump.
That case collapsed one week before Election Day, but as a result of the attention it generated, several donors reached out to Ms. Bloom ''asking how they could help,'' she said. She told them that she was working with ''a few other women'' who might ''find the courage to speak out'' against Mr. Trump if the donors would provide funds for security, relocation and possibly a ''safe house.''
Ms. Bloom would not identify the donors. But two Democrats familiar with the arrangements said a nonprofit group founded by Mr. Brock, American Bridge 21st Century Foundation, gave $200,000, while the fashion entrepreneur Susie Tompkins Buell, a major donor to Mr. Brock's suite of groups, gave $500,000 to Ms. Bloom's firm for the last-ditch effort.
It was not productive. One woman requested $2 million, Ms. Bloom said, then decided not to come forward. Nor did any other women.
Ms. Bloom said she refunded most of the cash, keeping only ''some funds to pay for our out-of-pocket expenses'' accrued while working to vet and prepare cases. She said that she did not receive any legal fees for the work, and that she did not communicate with Mrs. Clinton or her campaign ''on any of this.'' She said she represented only clients whose stories she had corroborated, and disputed the premise that she offered money to coax clients to come forward.
''It doesn't cost anything to publicly air allegations,'' she said. ''Security and relocation are expensive and were sorely needed in a case of this magnitude, in a country filled with so much anger, hate and violence.''
The Democrats familiar with the financial arrangements said Ms. Bloom's firm kept the money from American Bridge, but refunded the money from Ms. Buell.
Mr. Brock declined to comment, and representatives from Mrs. Clinton's campaign said they were unaware of his work with Ms. Bloom.
Ms. Buell, a longtime friend and financial supporter of Mrs. Clinton who helped found the clothing brand Esprit, would not comment on the financial arrangement. But she expressed frustration that Mr. Trump has escaped the repercussions that have befallen other powerful men accused of similar misconduct.
The allegations against Mr. Trump might ''resonate more'' with voters amid the current national conversation about sexual misconduct, she suggested.
A version of this article appears in print on , on Page A1 of the New York edition with the headline: Activists Exploit Effort to Expose Sex Harassment . Order Reprints | Today's Paper | Subscribe
Hillary Clinton backer paid $500G to fund women accusing Trump of sexual misconduct before Election Day, report says | Fox News
Mon, 01 Jan 2018 10:39
Image captured Hillary Clinton holdings hands with close friend and Esprit Clothing founder Susie Tompkins Buell. (Associated Press)
One of Hillary Clinton's wealthy pals paid $500,000 in an unsuccessful effort to fund women willing to accuse President Trump of sexual misconduct before the 2016 election, The New York Times reported Sunday.
Susie Tompkins Buell, the founder of Esprit Clothing and a major Clinton campaign donor for many years, gave the money to celebrity lawyer Lisa Bloom who was working with a number of Trump accusers at the time, according to the paper's bombshell report.
Bloom solicited donors by saying she was working with women who might ''find the courage to speak out'' against Trump if the donors would provide funds for security, relocation and possibly a ''safe house,'' the paper reported.
Former Clinton nemesis turned Clinton operative David Brock also donated $200,000 to the effort through a nonprofit group he founded, the paper reported in an article entitled, ''Partisans, Wielding Money, Begin Seeking to Exploit Harassment Claims.''
Bloom told the Times that the effort was unproductive. One woman requested $2 million then decided not to come forward. Nor did any other women.
Bloom said she refunded most of the cash, keeping only some funds for out-of-pocket expenses accrued while working to vet and prepare cases.
The lawyer told the paper she did not communicate with Clinton or her campaign ''on any of this.''
She also maintained that she represented only clients whose stories she had corroborated and disputed the premise that she offered money to coax clients to come forward, the paper reported.
''It doesn't cost anything to publicly air allegations,'' Bloom said. ''Security and relocation are expensive and were sorely needed in a case of this magnitude, in a country filled with so much anger, hate and violence.''
The Times article said it learned of Buell and Brock's connection to Bloom from two Democrats familiar with the financial arrangements who also said Bloom's law firm kept the money from Brock's nonprofit group but refunded the $500,000 that Buell contributed.
Brock declined comment, according to the paper.
Clinton campaign representatives said they were unaware of his work with Bloom.
Buell would not comment on the financial arrangement, according to the Times.
Still, she claimed she was frustrated that Trump had escaped the repercussions that have befallen many other powerful men accused of similar misconduct.
The Times article expanded on a report in The Hill two weeks ago that said that worked with campaign donors and tabloid media outlets during the final months of the presidential election to arrange compensation for the alleged Trump victims and a commission for herself, offering to sell their stories.
In one case Bloom reportedly arranged for a donor to pay off one Trump accuser's mortgage and attempted to score a six-figure payout for another woman.
The woman with the mortgage ultimately declined to come forward after being offiered $750,000, The Hill reported.
The paper reported reviewing one email exchange between one woman and Bloom that suggested political action committees supporting Hillary Clinton were solicited, without naming which ones.
Bloom, who is the daughter of famous attorney Gloria Allred and, like her mother, specializes in representing women in sexual harassment cases, worked for four women who were considering accusing Trump. Two went public, and two declined.
WikiLeaks Drops Proof That NYTimes Colluded With Hillary Clinton | Daily Wire
Mon, 01 Jan 2018 10:31
You thought 2017 was going to end without a bang '-- other than the fireworks?
Think again.
After The New York Times on Saturday published a story headlined "Republican Attacks on Mueller and F.B.I. Open New Rift in G.O.P.," WikiLeaks couldn't stand it anymore. In a late-night post on Twitter, WikiLeaks revealed that a Times reporter used to feed State Department email updates of the stories the paper would be publishing DAYS before the stories appeared.
At the time, Hillary Clinton was the Secretary of State.
The heads-up email was intended to give State (and Clinton) time to come up with some spin for stories that may have caused problems. Or, in another possible scenario, the heads up could give the State Department time to create a diversion for the same day, thus overriding a damaging story with other news its friends in the mainstream media would happily cover instead.
The players in the WikiLeaks email are interesting. Scott Shane is the national security reporter for the Times. And the recipient of his email, Philip Crowley, was at the time the United States Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs under Clinton's State Department.
As 2017 comes to an end, it's clear the Clinton scandals won't go away anytime soon.
On Friday, the Justice Department released thousands of Clinton emails. "Several emails with classified information from former Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin were among a tranche of documents released Friday that were found on Anthony Weiner's personal computer during an FBI probe," USA Today reported.
After the emails were made public, Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton called the release a "major victory."
"Judicial Watch has forced the State Department to finally allow Americans to see these public documents," Fitton said. "That these government docs were on Anthony Weiner's laptop dramatically illustrates the need for the Justice Department to finally do a serious investigation of Hillary Clinton's and Huma Abedin's obvious violations of law."
The FBI said most of the emails ended up on Weiner's computer because of backups from Abedin's personal electronic devices. Former FBI Director James Comey has said investigators could not prove Abedin acted with criminal intent or "had a sense that what she was doing was in violation of the law."
A November 2010 email was partially redacted due to "classified" and "confidential" information. It detailed a planned call between Clinton and Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal, where then-Secretary of State Clinton would warn al-Faisal about Wikileaks planning to release sensitive documents.
That same month, Wikileaks released the U.S. diplomatic cables leak, known as "Cablegate."
Lawyer: Woman drops gender bias case against Trump campaign
Thu, 04 Jan 2018 13:23
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) '-- A former organizer for Donald Trump in Iowa who filed a legal complaint accusing the campaign of gender discrimination has decided not to pursue a lawsuit, her attorney says.
Elizabeth Mae Davidson received a right-to-sue letter from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a requirement before suing an employer for alleged discrimination, attorney Dorothy O'Brien said. But Davidson, now a 28-year-old University of Iowa law student, is no longer interested in pursuing the case and opted not to bring a case against the campaign, she said.
"My client is not going to say another word about it," O'Brien said.
Davidson's complaint, filed in January 2016 days before the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses, made national news and put Trump on the defensive. She alleged that male campaign employees were given better jobs, more opportunities and higher pay than female workers. She also accused Trump of commenting on her looks, saying he told her and another volunteer during an introduction in the summer of 2015 that "You guys could do a lot of damage." Trump has denied making that remark and the campaign has called her complaints meritless.
The campaign fired Davidson, a part-time organizer who was based in Davenport, following an article in the New York Times that described her as "one of the campaign's most effective organizers" in an otherwise amateurish operation. The article noted that Davidson had opened the campaign's second field office and recruited dozens of precinct captains in Scott County, where her mother was then the Republican Party chairwoman.
In her complaint, Davidson said the Trump campaign accused her of making "disparaging comments about senior campaign leaders to third parties" and breaching a non-disclosure agreement. She denied providing information to the media and said that three male organizers who were quoted in the press didn't face any adverse actions. She alleged that all full-time district representatives for the campaign were men, and that they were allowed to plan and speak at rallies while her requests to do so were denied.
At the time, campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks said that "these claims from a disgruntled former part-time employee are without merit." She added that Davidson was fired for violating her contract and "doing a terrible job."
U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz won the 2016 Iowa caucuses while Trump finished second, ahead of several other candidates. Trump won Iowa in the general election.
Davidson initially filed the complaint with the Davenport Civil Rights Commission, but the Trump campaign didn't respond, O'Brien said. The case was forwarded to the U.S. EEOC, where the campaign's initial defense was that Davidson was an independent contractor not protected by federal anti-discrimination laws, she said.
Hate Trumps Love
Green Day Singer Tells His Trump Supporting Fans to "F**k Off" >> Alex Jones' Infowars: There's a war on for your mind!
Wed, 03 Jan 2018 23:17
Green Day singer Billy Joe Armstrong went on an unhinged rant in response to President Trump's 'nuclear button' tweet which ended in him telling all his Trump supporting fans to ''f**k off''.
Writing on his official Instagram page, Armstrong complained, ''This isn't funny. This is our president acting like a madman drunk on power THREATENING to kill innocent starving people by way of nuclear war. The 25th amendment needs to be enforced. This man is sick and unfit for office. I don't care if your liberal or conservative.. this has to stop . Please share #impeachtrump.''
Someone probably needs to remind Armstrong that hashtags can't trigger impeachment proceedings.
One of the Green Day frontman's most famous lyrics is, ''Do you have the time to listen to me whine?''
If some of the more intelligent replies to his post are anything to go by, it's a resounding no.
Respondents to the post eviscerated the singer's argument, with one remarking, ''I love how no one loses their shit about how Kim Jong 1) Literally made the same threat hours before Trump 2) Is the reason all those innocent people are starving 3) Threatens the rest of the world 4) Has active death camps. But no by all means Trump's the real villain here you guys.''
Armstrong responded with vitriol, stating, ''Go fuck yourself you fucking keyboard coward. You don't know what the fuck you're talking about. No one is coming for you you paranoid fool. This is your president making threats of mass destruction. Wake up or get the fuck off my Instagram.''
After another commenter told Armstrong that people had a right to support Trump, the Green Day frontman became even more angry, responding, ''Well then go fuck yourself you stupid piece of shit. If that's the way you feel about mass destruction and murder then fuck off. Stay the fuck off my Instagram and don't come back. Don't listen to my fucking records. I have no problem telling ignorant fucks like you to go to hell. That goes for any other stupid fucks that thinks this behavior should be normalized. Get the fuck out!''
Armstrong's meltdown is reminiscent of how Eminem attempted to revive his flagging career by starting a war of words with Donald Trump, only for the rapper to bitterly lament how Trump didn't respond to him.
Eminem's subsequent album was panned by critics despite its desperate attempt to pander to the anti-Trump far left.
Armstrong's response to Trump's tweet mirrored the hysterical reaction of the mainstream media, which doesn't seem to get anywhere near as irate about the fact that Kim Jong-un routinely threatens the world with nuclear holocaust and presides over a brutal regime that imprisons hundreds of thousands of its own people in political death camps.
Apparently, offending the diminutive Stalinist dictator is way more outrageous than any of that.
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Paul Joseph Watson is the editor at large of Infowars.com and Prison Planet.com.
Michael Wolff's 'Fire and Fury': Inside Trump's White House
Thu, 04 Jan 2018 12:06
On the afternoon of November 8, 2016, Kellyanne Conway settled into her glass office at Trump Tower. Right up until the last weeks of the race, the campaign headquarters had remained a listless place. All that seemed to distinguish it from a corporate back office were a few posters with right-wing slogans.
Conway, the campaign's manager, was in a remarkably buoyant mood, considering she was about to experience a resounding, if not cataclysmic, defeat. Donald Trump would lose the election '-- of this she was sure '-- but he would quite possibly hold the defeat to under six points. That was a substantial victory. As for the looming defeat itself, she shrugged it off: It was Reince Priebus's fault, not hers.
She had spent a good part of the day calling friends and allies in the political world and blaming Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee. Now she briefed some of the television producers and anchors whom she had been carefully courting since joining the Trump campaign '-- and with whom she had been actively interviewing in the last few weeks, hoping to land a permanent on-air job after the election.
Even though the numbers in a few key states had appeared to be changing to Trump's advantage, neither Conway nor Trump himself nor his son-in-law, Jared Kushner '-- the effective head of the campaign '-- ­wavered in their certainty: Their unexpected adventure would soon be over. Not only would Trump not be president, almost everyone in the campaign agreed, he should probably not be. Conveniently, the former conviction meant nobody had to deal with the latter issue.
As the campaign came to an end, Trump himself was sanguine. His ultimate goal, after all, had never been to win. ''I can be the most famous man in the world,'' he had told his aide Sam Nunberg at the outset of the race. His longtime friend Roger Ailes, the former head of Fox News, liked to say that if you want a career in television, first run for president. Now Trump, encouraged by Ailes, was floating rumors about a Trump network. It was a great future. He would come out of this campaign, Trump assured Ailes, with a far more powerful brand and untold opportunities.
''This is bigger than I ever dreamed of,'' he told Ailes a week before the election. ''I don't think about losing, because it isn't losing. We've totally won.''
The Postelection Chaos at Trump TowerFrom the start, the leitmotif for Trump about his own campaign was how crappy it was, and how everybody involved in it was a loser. In August, when he was trailing Hillary Clinton by more than 12 points, he couldn't conjure even a far-fetched scenario for achieving an electoral victory. He was baffled when the right-wing billionaire Robert Mercer, a Ted Cruz backer whom Trump barely knew, offered him an infusion of $5 million. When Mercer and his daughter Rebekah presented their plan to take over the campaign and install their lieutenants, Steve Bannon and Conway, Trump didn't resist. He only expressed vast incomprehension about why anyone would want to do that. ''This thing,'' he told the Mercers, ''is so fucked up.''
Bannon, who became chief executive of Trump's team in mid-August, called it ''the broke-dick campaign.'' Almost immediately, he saw that it was hampered by an even deeper structural flaw: The candidate who billed himself as a billionaire '-- ten times over '-- refused to invest his own money in it. Bannon told Kushner that, after the first debate in September, they would need another $50 million to cover them until Election Day.
''No way we'll get 50 million unless we can guarantee him victory,'' said a clear-eyed Kushner.
''Twenty-five million?'' prodded Bannon.
''If we can say victory is more than likely.''
In the end, the best Trump would do is to loan the campaign $10 million, provided he got it back as soon as they could raise other money. Steve Mnuchin, the campaign's finance chairman, came to collect the loan with the wire instructions ready to go so Trump couldn't conveniently forget to send the money.
Most presidential candidates spend their entire careers, if not their lives from adolescence, preparing for the role. They rise up the ladder of elected offices, perfect a public face, and prepare themselves to win and to govern. The Trump calculation, quite a conscious one, was different. The candidate and his top lieutenants believed they could get all the benefits of almost becoming president without having to change their behavior or their worldview one whit. Almost everybody on the Trump team, in fact, came with the kind of messy conflicts bound to bite a president once he was in office. Michael Flynn, the retired general who served as Trump's opening act at campaign rallies, had been told by his friends that it had not been a good idea to take $45,000 from the Russians for a speech. ''Well, it would only be a problem if we won,'' ­Flynn assured them.
Not only did Trump disregard the potential conflicts of his own business deals and real-estate holdings, he audaciously refused to release his tax returns. Why should he? Once he lost, Trump would be both insanely famous and a martyr to Crooked Hillary. His daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared would be international celebrities. Steve Bannon would become the de facto head of the tea-party movement. Kellyanne Conway would be a cable-news star. Melania Trump, who had been assured by her husband that he wouldn't become president, could return to inconspicuously lunching. Losing would work out for everybody. Losing was winning.
Shortly after 8 p.m. on Election Night, when the unexpected trend '-- Trump might actually win '-- seemed confirmed, Don Jr. told a friend that his father, or DJT, as he calls him, looked as if he had seen a ghost. Melania was in tears '-- and not of joy.
There was, in the space of little more than an hour, in Steve Bannon's not unamused observation, a befuddled Trump morphing into a disbelieving Trump and then into a horrified Trump. But still to come was the final transformation: Suddenly, Donald Trump became a man who believed that he deserved to be, and was wholly capable of being, the president of the United States.
From the moment of victory, the Trump administration became a looking-glass presidency: Every inverse assumption about how to assemble and run a White House was enacted and compounded, many times over. The decisions that Trump and his top advisers made in those first few months '-- from the slapdash transition to the disarray in the West Wing '-- set the stage for the chaos and dysfunction that have persisted throughout his first year in office. This was a real-life version of Mel Brooks's The Producers, where the mistaken outcome trusted by everyone in Trump's inner circle '-- that they would lose the election '-- wound up exposing them for who they really were.
On the Saturday after the election, Trump received a small group of well-­wishers in his triplex apartment in Trump Tower. Even his close friends were still shocked and bewildered, and there was a dazed quality to the gathering. But Trump himself was mostly looking at the clock. Rupert Murdoch, who had promised to pay a call on the president-elect, was running late. When some of the guests made a move to leave, an increasingly agitated Trump assured them that Rupert was on his way. ''He's one of the greats, the last of the greats,'' Trump said. ''You have to stay to see him.'' Not grasping that he was now the most powerful man in the world, Trump was still trying mightily to curry favor with a media mogul who had long disdained him as a charlatan and fool.
Few people who knew Trump had illusions about him. That was his appeal: He was what he was. Twinkle in his eye, larceny in his soul. Everybody in his rich-guy social circle knew about his wide-ranging ignorance. Early in the campaign, Sam Nunberg was sent to explain the Constitution to the candidate. ''I got as far as the Fourth Amendment,'' Nunberg recalled, ''before his finger is pulling down on his lip and his eyes are rolling back in his head.''
The day after the election, the bare-bones transition team that had been set up during the campaign hurriedly shifted from Washington to Trump Tower. The building '-- now the headquarters of a populist revolution '--­ suddenly seemed like an alien spaceship on Fifth Avenue. But its otherworldly air helped obscure the fact that few in Trump's inner circle, with their overnight responsibility for assembling a government, had any relevant experience.
Ailes, a veteran of the Nixon, Reagan, and Bush 41 administrations, tried to impress on Trump the need to create a White House structure that could serve and protect him. ''You need a son of a bitch as your chief of staff,'' he told Trump. ''And you need a son of a bitch who knows Washington. You'll want to be your own son of a bitch, but you don't know Washington.'' Ailes had a suggestion: John Boehner, who had stepped down as Speaker of the House only a year earlier.
''Who's that?'' asked Trump.
As much as the president himself, the chief of staff determines how the Executive branch '-- which employs 4 million people '-- will run. The job has been construed as deputy president, or even prime minister. But Trump had no interest in appointing a strong chief of staff with a deep knowledge of Washington. Among his early choices for the job was Kushner '-- a man with no political experience beyond his role as a calm and flattering body man to Trump during the campaign.
It was Ann Coulter who finally took the president-elect aside. ''Nobody is apparently telling you this,'' she told him. ''But you can't. You just can't hire your children.''
Bowing to pressure, Trump floated the idea of giving the job to Steve Bannon, only to have the notion soundly ridiculed. Murdoch told Trump that Bannon would be a dangerous choice. Joe Scarborough, the former congressman and co-host of MSNBC's Morning Joe, told the president-elect that ''Washington will go up in flames'' if Bannon became chief of staff.
So Trump turned to Reince Priebus, the RNC chairman, who had became the subject of intense lobbying by House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. If congressional leaders were going to have to deal with an alien like Donald Trump, then best they do it with the help of one of their own kind.
Jim Baker, chief of staff for both Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush and almost everybody's model for managing the West Wing, advised Priebus not to take the job. Priebus had his own reservations: He had come out of his first long meeting with Trump thinking it had been a disconcertingly weird experience. Trump talked nonstop and constantly repeated himself.
''Here's the deal,'' a close Trump associate told Priebus. ''In an hour meeting with him, you're going to hear 54 minutes of stories, and they're going to be the same stories over and over again. So you have to have one point to make, and you pepper it in whenever you can.''
But the Priebus appointment, announced in mid-November, put Bannon on a co-equal level to the new chief of staff. Even with the top job, Priebus would be a weak figure, in the traditional mold of most Trump lieutenants over the years. There would be one chief of staff in name '-- the unimportant one '-- and ­others like Bannon and Kushner, more important in practice, ensuring both chaos and Trump's independence.
Priebus demonstrated no ability to keep Trump from talking to anyone who wanted his ear. The president-elect enjoyed being courted. On December 14, a high-level delegation from Silicon Valley came to Trump Tower to meet him. Later that afternoon, according to a source privy to details of the conversation, Trump called Rupert Murdoch, who asked him how the meeting had gone.
''Oh, great, just great,'' said Trump. ''These guys really need my help. Obama was not very favorable to them, too much regulation. This is really an opportunity for me to help them.''
''Donald,'' said Murdoch, ''for eight years these guys had Obama in their pocket. They practically ran the administration. They don't need your help.''
''Take this H-1B visa issue. They really need these H-1B visas.''
Murdoch suggested that taking a liberal approach to H-1B visas, which open America's doors to select immigrants, might be hard to square with his promises to build a wall and close the borders. But Trump seemed unconcerned, assuring Murdoch, ''We'll figure it out.''
''What a fucking idiot,'' said Murdoch, shrugging, as he got off the phone.
Steve Bannon, suddenly among the world's most powerful men, was running late. It was the evening of January 3, 2017 '-- a little more than two weeks before Trump's inauguration '-- and Bannon had promised to come to a small dinner arranged by mutual friends in a Greenwich Village townhouse to see Roger Ailes.
Snow was threatening, and for a while the dinner appeared doubtful. But the 76-year-old Ailes, who was as dumbfounded by his old friend Donald Trump's victory as everyone else, understood that he was passing the right-wing torch to Bannon. Ailes's Fox News, with its $1.5 billion in annual profits, had dominated Republican politics for two decades. Now Bannon's Breit­bart News, with its mere $1.5 million in annual profits, was claiming that role. For 30 years, Ailes '-- until recently the single most powerful person in conservative ­politics '-- had humored and tolerated Trump, but in the end Bannon and Breitbart had elected him.
At 9:30, having extricated himself from Trump Tower, Bannon finally arrived at the dinner, three hours late. Wearing a disheveled blazer, his signature pairing of two shirts, and military fatigues, the unshaven, overweight 63-year-old immediately dived into an urgent download of information about the world he was about to take over.
''We're going to flood the zone so we have every Cabinet member for the next seven days through their confirmation hearings,'' he said of the business-and-military, 1950s-type Cabinet choices. ''Tillerson is two days, Sessions is two days, Mattis is two days '...''
''In fact,'' said Bannon, ''I could use your help here.'' He then spent several minutes trying to recruit Ailes to help kneecap Murdoch. Bannon veered from James ''Mad Dog'' ­Mattis '-- the retired four-star general whom Trump had nominated as secretary of Defense '-- to the looming appointment of Michael Flynn as national-security adviser. ''He's fine. He's not Jim Mattis and he's not John Kelly '... but he's fine. He just needs the right staff around him.'' Still, Bannon averred: ''When you take out all the Never Trump guys who signed all those letters and all the neocons who got us in all these wars '... it's not a deep bench.'' Bannon said he'd tried to push John Bolton, the famously hawkish diplomat, for the job as national-security adviser. Bolton was an Ailes favorite, too.
''He's a bomb thrower,'' said Ailes. ''And a strange little fucker. But you need him. Who else is good on Israel? Flynn is a little nutty on Iran. Tillerson just knows oil.''
''Bolton's mustache is a problem,'' snorted Bannon. ''Trump doesn't think he looks the part. You know Bolton is an acquired taste.''
''Well, he got in trouble because he got in a fight in a hotel one night and chased some woman.''
''If I told Trump that,'' Bannon said slyly, ''he might have the job.''
Bannon was curiously able to embrace Trump while at the same time suggesting he did not take him entirely seriously. Great numbers of people, he believed, were suddenly receptive to a new message '-- the world needs borders '-- and Trump had become the platform for that message.
''Does he get it?'' asked Ailes suddenly, looking intently at Bannon. Did Trump get where history had put him?
Bannon took a sip of water. ''He gets it,'' he said, after hesitating for perhaps a beat too long. ''Or he gets what he gets.''
Pivoting from Trump himself, Bannon plunged on with the Trump agenda. ''Day one we're moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. Netanyahu's all-in. Sheldon'' '-- Adelson, the casino billionaire and far-right Israel defender '-- ''is all-in. We know where we're heading on this '... Let Jordan take the West Bank, let Egypt take Gaza. Let them deal with it. Or sink trying.''
''Where's Donald on this?'' asked Ailes, the clear implication being that Bannon was far out ahead of his benefactor.
''He's totally onboard.''
''I wouldn't give Donald too much to think about,'' said an amused Ailes.
Bannon snorted. ''Too much, too little '-- doesn't necessarily change things.''
''What has he gotten himself into with the Russians?'' pressed Ailes.
''Mostly,'' said Bannon, ''he went to Russia and he thought he was going to meet Putin. But Putin couldn't give a shit about him. So he's kept trying.''
Again, as though setting the issue of Trump aside '-- merely a large and peculiar presence to both be thankful for and to have to abide '-- Bannon, in the role he had conceived for himself, the auteur of the Trump presidency, charged forward. The real enemy, he said, was China. China was the first front in a new Cold War.
''China's everything. Nothing else matters. We don't get China right, we don't get anything right. This whole thing is very simple. China is where Nazi Germany was in 1929 to 1930. The Chinese, like the Germans, are the most rational people in the world, until they're not. And they're gonna flip like Germany in the '30s. You're going to have a hypernationalist state, and once that happens, you can't put the genie back in the bottle.''
''Donald might not be Nixon in China,'' said Ailes, deadpan.
Bannon smiled. ''Bannon in China,'' he said, with both remarkable grandiosity and wry self-deprecation.
''How's the kid?'' asked Ailes, referring to Kushner.
''He's my partner,'' said Bannon, his tone suggesting that if he felt otherwise, he was nevertheless determined to stay on message.
''He's had a lot of lunches with Rupert,'' said a dubious Ailes.
''In fact,'' said Bannon, ''I could use your help here.'' He then spent several minutes trying to recruit Ailes to help kneecap Murdoch. Since his ouster from Fox over allegations of sexual harassment, Ailes had become only more bitter toward Murdoch. Now Murdoch was frequently jawboning the president-elect and encouraging him toward Establishment moderation. Bannon wanted Ailes to suggest to Trump, a man whose many neuroses included a horror of senility, that Murdoch might be losing it.
''I'll call him,'' said Ailes. ''But Trump would jump through hoops for Rupert. Like for Putin. Sucks up and shits down. I just worry about who's jerking whose chain.''
>>Trump did not enjoy his own inauguration. He was angry that A-level stars had snubbed the event, disgruntled with the accommodations at Blair House, and visibly fighting with his wife, who seemed on the verge of tears. Throughout the day, he wore what some around him had taken to calling his golf face: angry and pissed off, shoulders hunched, arms swinging, brow furled, lips pursed.
The first senior staffer to enter the White House that day was Bannon. On the inauguration march, he had grabbed 32-year-old Katie Walsh, the newly appointed deputy chief of staff, and together they had peeled off to inspect the now-vacant West Wing. The carpet had been shampooed, but little else had changed. It was a warren of tiny offices in need of paint, the d(C)cor something like an admissions office at a public university. Bannon claimed the non­descript office across from the much grander chief of staff's suite and immediately requisitioned the whiteboards on which he intended to chart the first 100 days of the Trump administration. He also began moving furniture out. The point was to leave no room for anyone to sit. Limit discussion. Limit debate. This was war.
Those who had worked on the campaign noticed the sudden change. Within the first week, Bannon seemed to have put away the camaraderie of Trump Tower and become far more remote, if not unreachable. ''What's up with Steve?'' Kushner began to ask. ''I don't understand. We were so close.'' Now that Trump had been elected, Bannon was already focused on his next goal: capturing the soul of the Trump White House.
He began by going after his enemies. Few fueled his rancor toward the standard-issue Republican world as much as Rupert ­Murdoch '-- not least because Murdoch had Trump's ear. It was one of the key elements of Bannon's understanding of Trump: The last person the president spoke to ended up with enormous influence. Trump would brag that Murdoch was always calling him; Murdoch, for his part, would complain that he couldn't get Trump off the phone.
''He doesn't know anything about American politics, and has no feel for the American people,'' Bannon told Trump, always eager to point out that Murdoch wasn't an American. Yet in one regard, Murdoch's message was useful to Bannon. Having known every president since Harry ­Truman '-- as Murdoch took frequent opportunities to point out '-- the media mogul warned Trump that a president has only six months, max, to set his agenda and make an impact. After that, it was just putting out fires and battling the opposition.
This was the message whose urgency Bannon had been trying to impress on an often distracted Trump, who was already trying to limit his hours in the office and keep to his normal golf habits. Bannon's strategic view of government was shock and awe. In his head, he carried a set of decisive actions that would not just mark the new administration's opening days but make it clear that nothing ever again would be the same. He had quietly assembled a list of more than 200 executive orders to issue in the first 100 days. The very first EO, in his view, had to be a crackdown on immigration. After all, it was one of Trump's core campaign promises. Plus, Bannon knew, it was an issue that made liberals batshit mad.
Bannon could push through his agenda for a simple reason: because nobody in the administration really had a job. Priebus, as chief of staff, had to organize meetings, hire staff, and oversee the individual offices in the Executive-branch departments. But Bannon, Kushner, and Ivanka Trump had no specific responsibilities '-- they did what they wanted. And for Bannon, the will to get big things done was how big things got done. ''Chaos was Steve's strategy,'' said Walsh.
On Friday, January 27 '-- only his eighth day in office '-- Trump signed an executive order issuing a sweeping exclusion of many Muslims from the United States. In his mania to seize the day, with almost no one in the federal government having seen it or even been aware of it, Bannon had succeeded in pushing through an executive order that overhauled U.S. immigration policy while bypassing the very agencies and personnel responsible for enforcing it.
The result was an emotional outpouring of horror and indignation from liberal media, terror in immigrant communities, tumultuous protests at major airports, confusion throughout the government, and, in the White House, an inundation of opprobrium from friends and family. What have you done? You have to undo this! You're finished before you even start! But Bannon was satisfied. He could not have hoped to draw a more vivid line between Trump's America and that of liberals. Almost the entire White House staff demanded to know: Why did we do this on a Friday, when it would hit the airports hardest and bring out the most protesters?
''Errr '... that's why,'' said Bannon. ''So the snowflakes would show up at the airports and riot.'' That was the way to crush the liberals: Make them crazy and drag them to the left.
On the Sunday after the immigration order was issued, Joe Scarborough and his Morning Joe co-host, Mika Brzezinski, arrived for lunch at the White House. Trump proudly showed them into the Oval Office. ''So how do you think the first week has gone?'' he asked the couple, in a buoyant mood, seeking flattery. When Scarborough ventured his opinion that the immigration order might have been handled better, Trump turned defensive and derisive, plunging into a long monologue about how well things had gone. ''I could have invited Hannity!'' he told Scarborough.
After Jared and Ivanka joined them for lunch, Trump continued to cast for positive impressions of his first week. Scarborough praised the president for having invited leaders of the steel unions to the White House. At which point Jared interjected that reaching out to unions, a Democratic constituency, was Bannon's doing, that this was ''the Bannon way.''
''Bannon?'' said the president, jumping on his son-in-law. ''That wasn't Bannon's idea. That was my idea. It's the Trump way, not the Bannon way.''
Kushner, going concave, retreated from the discussion.
Trump, changing the topic, said to Scarborough and Brzezinski, ''So what about you guys? What's going on?'' He was referencing their not-so-secret secret relationship. The couple said it was still complicated, but good.
''You guys should just get married,'' prodded Trump.
''I can marry you! I'm an internet Unitarian minister,'' Kushner, otherwise an Orthodox Jew, said suddenly.
''What?'' said the president. ''What are you talking about? Why would they want you to marry them when I could marry them? When they could be married by the president! At Mar-a-Lago!''
The First Children couple were having to navigate Trump's volatile nature just like everyone else in the White House. And they were willing to do it for the same reason as everyone else '-- in the hope that Trump's unexpected victory would catapult them into a heretofore unimagined big time. Balancing risk against reward, both Jared and Ivanka decided to accept roles in the West Wing over the advice of almost everyone they knew. It was a joint decision by the couple, and, in some sense, a joint job. Between themselves, the two had made an earnest deal: If sometime in the future the opportunity arose, she'd be the one to run for president. The first woman president, Ivanka entertained, would not be Hillary Clinton; it would be Ivanka Trump.
Bannon, who had coined the term ''Jarvanka'' that was now in ever greater use in the White House, was horrified when the couple's deal was reported to him. ''They didn't say that?'' he said. ''Stop. Oh, come on. They didn't actually say that? Please don't tell me that. Oh my God.''
The truth was, Ivanka and Jared were as much the chief of staff as Priebus or Bannon, all of them reporting directly to the president. The couple had opted for formal jobs in the West Wing, in part because they knew that influencing Trump required you to be all-in. From phone call to phone call '-- and his day, beyond organized meetings, was almost entirely phone calls '-- you could lose him. He could not really converse, not in the sense of sharing information, or of a balanced back-and-forth conversation. He neither particularly listened to what was said to him nor particularly considered what he said in response. He demanded you pay him attention, then decided you were weak for groveling. In a sense, he was like an instinctive, pampered, and hugely successful actor. Everybody was either a lackey who did his bidding or a high-ranking film functionary trying to coax out his performance '-- without making him angry or petulant.
Jared offered to marry Joe and Mika. ''Why would they want you,'' Trump said, ''when I could marry them?'' Ivanka maintained a relationship with her father that was in no way conventional. She was a helper not just in his business dealings, but in his marital realignments. If it wasn't pure opportunism, it was certainly transactional. For Ivanka, it was all business '-- building the Trump brand, the presidential campaign, and now the White House. She treated her father with a degree of detachment, even irony, going so far as to make fun of his comb-over to others. She often described the mechanics behind it to friends: an absolutely clean pate '-- a contained island after scalp-reduction ­surgery '-- surrounded by a furry circle of hair around the sides and front, from which all ends are drawn up to meet in the center and then swept back and secured by a stiffening spray. The color, she would point out to comical effect, was from a product called Just for Men '-- the longer it was left on, the darker it got. Impatience resulted in Trump's orange-blond hair color.
Kushner, for his part, had little to no success at trying to restrain his father-in-law. Ever since the transition, Jared had been negotiating to arrange a meeting at the White House with Enrique Pe±a Nieto, the Mexican president whom Trump had threatened and insulted throughout the campaign. On the Wednesday after the inauguration, a high-level Mexican delegation '-- the first visit by any foreign leaders to the Trump White House '-- met with Kushner and Reince Priebus. That afternoon, Kushner triumphantly told his father-in-law that Pe±a Nieto had signed on to a White House meeting and planning for the visit could go forward.
The next day, on Twitter, Trump blasted Mexico for stealing American jobs. ''If Mexico is unwilling to pay for the badly needed wall,'' the president declared, ''then it would be better to cancel the upcoming meeting.'' At which point Pe±a Nieto did just that, leaving Kushner's negotiation and statecraft as so much scrap on the floor.
Nothing contributed to the chaos and dysfunction of the White House as much as Trump's own behavior. The big deal of being president was just not apparent to him. Most victorious candidates, arriving in the White House from ordinary political life, could not help but be reminded of their transformed circumstances by their sudden elevation to a mansion with palacelike servants and security, a plane at constant readiness, and downstairs a retinue of courtiers and advisers. But this wasn't that different from Trump's former life in Trump Tower, which was actually more commodious and to his taste than the White House.
Trump, in fact, found the White House to be vexing and even a little scary. He retreated to his own bedroom '-- the first time since the Kennedy White House that a presidential couple had maintained separate rooms. In the first days, he ordered two television screens in addition to the one already there, and a lock on the door, precipitating a brief standoff with the Secret Service, who insisted they have access to the room. He ­reprimanded the housekeeping staff for picking up his shirt from the floor: ''If my shirt is on the floor, it's because I want it on the floor.'' Then he imposed a set of new rules: Nobody touch anything, especially not his toothbrush. (He had a longtime fear of being poisoned, one reason why he liked to eat at McDonald's '-- nobody knew he was coming and the food was safely premade.) Also, he would let housekeeping know when he wanted his sheets done, and he would strip his own bed.
If he was not having his 6:30 dinner with Steve Bannon, then, more to his liking, he was in bed by that time with a cheeseburger, watching his three screens and making phone calls '-- the phone was his true contact point with the world '-- to a small group of friends, who charted his rising and falling levels of agitation through the evening and then compared notes with one another.
As details of Trump's personal life leaked out, he became obsessed with identifying the leaker. The source of all the gossip, however, may well have been Trump himself. In his calls throughout the day and at night from his bed, he often spoke to people who had no reason to keep his confidences. He was a river of grievances, which recipients of his calls promptly spread to the ever-attentive media.
On February 6, in one of his seething, self-pitying, and unsolicited phone calls to a casual acquaintance, Trump detailed his bent-out-of-shape feelings about the relentless contempt of the media and the disloyalty of his staff. The initial subject of his ire was the New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman, whom he called ''a nut job.'' Gail Collins, who had written a Times column unfavorably comparing Trump to Vice-President Mike Pence, was ''a moron.'' Then, continuing under the rubric of media he hated, he veered to CNN and the deep disloyalty of its chief, Jeff Zucker.
''If my shirt is on the floor, it's because I want it on the floor,'' Trump told the housekeeping staff. Zucker, who as the head of entertainment at NBC had commissioned The Apprentice, had been ''made by Trump,'' Trump said of himself in the third person. He had ''personally'' gotten Zucker his job at CNN. ''Yes, yes, I did,'' said the president, launching into a favorite story about how he had once talked Zucker up at a dinner with a high-ranking executive from CNN's parent company. ''I probably shouldn't have, because Zucker is not that smart,'' Trump lamented, ''but I like to show I can do that sort of thing.'' Then Zucker had returned the favor by airing the ''unbelievably disgusting'' story about the Russian ''dossier'' and the ''golden shower'' '-- the practice CNN had accused him of being party to in a Moscow hotel suite with assorted prostitutes.
Having dispensed with Zucker, the president of the United States went on to speculate on what was involved with a golden shower. And how this was all just part of a media campaign that would never succeed in driving him from the White House. Because they were sore losers and hated him for winning, they spread total lies, 100 percent made-up things, totally untrue, for instance, the cover that week of Time magazine '-- which, Trump reminded his listener, he had been on more than anyone in ­history '-- that showed Steve Bannon, a good guy, saying he was the real president. ''How much influence do you think Steve Bannon has over me?'' Trump demanded. He repeated the question, then repeated the answer: ''Zero! Zero!'' And that went for his son-in-law, too, who had a lot to learn.
The media was not only hurting him, he said '-- he was not looking for any agreement or even any response '-- but hurting his negotiating capabilities, which hurt the nation. And that went for Saturday Night Live, which might think it was very funny but was actually hurting everybody in the country. And while he understood that SNL was there to be mean to him, they were being very, very mean. It was ''fake comedy.'' He had reviewed the treatment of all other presidents in the media, and there was nothing like this ever, even of Nixon, who was treated very unfairly. ''Kellyanne, who is very fair, has this all documented. You can look at it.''
The point is, he said, that that very day, he had saved $700 million a year in jobs that were going to Mexico, but the media was talking about him wandering around the White House in his bathrobe, which ''I don't have because I've never worn a bathrobe. And would never wear one, because I'm not that kind of guy.'' And what the media was doing was undermining this very dignified house, and ''dignity is so important.'' But Murdoch, ''who had never called me, never once,'' was now calling all the time. So that should tell people something.
The call went on for 26 minutes.
Without a strong chief of staff at the White House, there was no real up-and-down structure in the administration '-- merely a figure at the top and everyone else scrambling for his attention. It wasn't task-based so much as response-oriented '-- whatever captured the boss's attention focused everybody's attention. Priebus and Bannon and Kushner were all fighting to be the power behind the Trump throne. And in these crosshairs was Katie Walsh, the deputy chief of staff.
Walsh, who came to the White House from the RNC, represented a certain Republican ideal: clean, brisk, orderly, efficient. A righteous bureaucrat with a permanently grim expression, she was a fine example of the many political professionals in whom competence and organizational skills transcend ideology. To Walsh, it became clear almost immediately that ''the three gentlemen running things,'' as she came to characterize them, had each found his own way to appeal to the president. Bannon offered a rousing fuck-you show of force; Priebus offered flattery from the congressional leadership; Kushner offered the approval of blue-chip businessmen. Each appeal was exactly what Trump wanted from the presidency, and he didn't understand why he couldn't have them all. He wanted to break things, he wanted Congress to give him bills to sign, and he wanted the love and respect of New York machers and socialites.
As soon as the campaign team had stepped into the White House, Walsh saw, it had gone from managing Trump to the expectation of being managed by him. Yet the president, while proposing the most radical departure from governing and policy norms in several generations, had few specific ideas about how to turn his themes and vitriol into policy. And making suggestions to him was deeply complicated. Here, arguably, was the central issue of the Trump presidency, informing every aspect of Trumpian policy and leadership: He didn't process information in any conventional sense. He didn't read. He didn't really even skim. Some believed that for all practical purposes he was no more than semi-­literate. He trusted his own expertise ­'-- no matter how paltry or irrelevant '-- more than anyone else's. He was often confident, but he was just as often paralyzed, less a savant than a figure of sputtering and dangerous insecurities, whose instinctive response was to lash out and behave as if his gut, however confused, was in fact in some clear and forceful way telling him what to do. It was, said Walsh, ''like trying to figure out what a child wants.''
By the end of the second week following the immigration EO, the three advisers were in open conflict with one another. For Walsh, it was a daily process of managing an impossible task: Almost as soon as she received direction from one of the three men, it would be countermanded by one or another of them.
''I take a conversation at face value and move forward with it,'' she said. ''I put what was decided on the schedule and bring in comms and build a press plan around it '... And then Jared says, 'Why did you do that?' And I say, 'Because we had a meeting three days ago with you and Reince and Steve where you agreed to do this.' And he says, 'But that didn't mean I wanted it on the schedule '...' It almost doesn't matter what anyone says: Jared will agree, and then it will get sabotaged, and then Jared goes to the president and says, see, that was Reince's idea or Steve's idea.''
If Bannon, Priebus, and Kushner were now fighting a daily war with one another, it was exacerbated by the running disinformation campaign about them that was being prosecuted by the president himself. When he got on the phone after dinner, he'd speculate on the flaws and weaknesses of each member of his staff. Bannon was disloyal (not to mention he always looks like shit). Priebus was weak (not to mention he was short '-- a midget). Kushner was a suck-up. Sean Spicer was stupid (and looks terrible too). Conway was a crybaby. Jared and Ivanka should never have come to Washington.
During that first month, Walsh's disbelief and even fear about what was happening in the White House moved her to think about quitting. Every day after that became a countdown toward the moment she knew she wouldn't be able to take it anymore. To Walsh, the proud political pro, the chaos, the rivalries, and the president's own lack of focus were simply incomprehensible. In early March, not long before she left, she confronted Kushner with a simple request. ''Just give me the three things the president wants to focus on,'' she demanded. ''What are the three priorities of this White House?''
It was the most basic question imaginable '-- one that any qualified presidential candidate would have answered long before he took up residence at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Six weeks into Trump's presidency, Kushner was wholly without an answer.
''Yes,'' he said to Walsh. ''We should probably have that conversation.''
This story is adapted from Michael Wolff's book Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, to be published by Henry Holt & Co. on January 9. Wolff, who chronicles the administration from Election Day to this past October, conducted conversations and interviews over a period of 18 months with the president, most members of his senior staff, and many people to whom they in turn spoke. Shortly after Trump's inauguration, Wolff says, he was able to take up ''something like a semi-permanent seat on a couch in the West Wing'' '-- an idea encouraged by the president himself. Because no one was in a position to either officially approve or formally deny such access, Wolff became ''more a constant interloper than an invited guest.'' There were no ground rules placed on his access, and he was required to make no promises about how he would report on what he witnessed.
Since then, he conducted more than 200 interviews. In true Trumpian fashion, the administration's lack of experience and disdain for political norms made for a hodgepodge of journalistic challenges. Information would be provided off-the-record or on deep background, then casually put on the record. Sources would fail to set any parameters on the use of a conversation, or would provide accounts in confidence, only to subsequently share their views widely. And the president's own views, private as well as public, were constantly shared by others. The adaptation presented here offers a front-row view of Trump's presidency, from his improvised transition to his first months in the Oval Office.
*Excerpted from Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House by Michael Wolff (Henry Holt and Co., January 9, 2018). This article appears in the January 8, 2018, issue of New York Magazine.Subscribe Now!
*This article has been updated to include more information from Wolff's book about the nature of Trump's conversation with the Mercers.
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Brace yourself.
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Bannon loses support of pro-Trump billionaire backer over media fights | TheHill
Thu, 04 Jan 2018 12:25
Former White House Chief Strategist Stephen Bannon has reportedly lost the support of billionaire backer Rebekah Mercer after he suggested he might run for president himself.
A person close to Mercer told The Washington Post that she no longer supports Bannon. According to the report, Mercer was frustrated with Bannon's strategy in the Alabama Senate Race, and pulled her funding after he told other major conservative donors that Mercer would back Bannon in his own presidential bid.
Bannon supported GOP Alabama Senate Candidate Roy MooreRoy Stewart MooreSeth Meyers mocks Roy Moore riding a horse to vote: 'Two animals not allowed in the mall'Colbert on Jones victory: 'It's a Christmas miracle!'Virginia gov on Alabama race: 'America wins. Pedophiles lose!'MORE , who was dogged by allegations of sexual misconduct, in his eventual defeat to Democratic challenger Doug Jones in December.
''The core constituency for Breitbart is what you would call the Trump Deplorables. That's the audience. And if they're asked to choose between Steve and Trump, they're going to choose Trump. That's clear,'' a person familiar with Breitbart News' operations told The Post.
It was unclear from the report whether Mercer, who bought a stake of Breitbart News from her father in November, will continue to back the right-wing news site. The report said she is no longer backing any future Bannon projects.
Rumors of a possible Bannon run in 2020 are reportedly mentioned in Michael Wolff's new book "Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House."
The book caused a stir in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday when several excerpts were published.
Bannon made headlines after he was quoted in the book ripping Trump's eldest son for a meeting in Trump Tower with a Russian lawyer who promised "dirt" on Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonGrassley blasts Democrats over unwillingness to probe ClintonGOP lawmakers cite new allegations of political bias in FBITop intel Dem: Trump Jr. refused to answer questions about Trump Tower discussions with fatherMORE 's campaign.
''Even if you thought that this was not treasonous, or unpatriotic, or bad shit, and I happen to think it's all of that, you should have called the FBI immediately," Bannon said, according to the book.
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 responded to Bannon's remarks in a statement on Wednesday, accusing his former adviser of losing his mind.
''Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my presidency,'' Trump said. ''When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind.''
"Steve pretends to be at war with the media, which he calls the opposition party, yet he spent his time at the White House leaking false information to the media to make himself seem far more important than he was," the president added.
Trump blasts Bannon over book, says ex-aide 'lost his mind'
Thu, 04 Jan 2018 12:18
WASHINGTON (AP) '-- President Donald Trump launched a scathing attack on former top adviser Steve Bannon on Wednesday, responding to a new book that portrays Trump as an undisciplined man-child who didn't actually want to win the White House and quotes Bannon as calling his son's contact with a Russian lawyer "treasonous."
Hitting back via a formal White House statement rather than a more-typical Twitter volley, Trump insisted Bannon had little to do with his victorious campaign and "has nothing to do with me or my Presidency."
"When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind," Trump said.
It was a blistering attack against the man who helped deliver the presidency to Trump. It was spurred by an unflattering new book by writer Michael Wolff that paints Trump as a leader who doesn't understand the weight of the presidency and spends his evenings eating cheeseburgers in bed, watching television and talking on the phone to old friends.
Later Wednesday, Trump attorney Charles Harder threatened legal action against Bannon over "disparaging statements and in some cases outright defamatory statements."
Harder sent a letter to Bannon saying the former Trump aide violated confidentiality agreements by speaking with Wolff. The letter demanded Bannon "cease and desist" any further disclosure of confidential information. Bannon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Wednesday President Donald Trump was "disgusted" at claims made by former chief strategist Steve Bannon about the Trump family. She also defended the president's tweets about Kim Jong-un. (Jan. 3)
White House aides were blindsided when early excerpts from "Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House" were published online by New York magazine and other media outlets ahead of the Jan. 9 publication date.
The release left Trump "furious" and "disgusted," said White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who complained that the book contained "outrageous" and "completely false claims against the president, his administration and his family."
Asked what specifically had prompted the president's fury with Bannon, she said: "I would certainly think that going after the president's son in an absolutely outrageous and unprecedented way is probably not the best way to curry favor with anybody."
In the book, an advance copy of which was provided to The Associated Press, Bannon is quoted as describing a June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower between Donald Trump Jr., Trump campaign aides and a Russian lawyer as "treasonous" and "unpatriotic." The meeting has become a focus of federal and congressional investigators.
Bannon also told Wolff the investigations into potential collusion between Russia and Trump campaign officials would likely focus on money laundering.
"They're going to crack Don Junior like an egg on national TV," Bannon was quoted as saying in one section that was first reported by The Guardian.
Trump Jr. lashed out in a series of tweets, including one that said Andrew Breitbart, the founder of the Breitbart News site that Bannon now runs, "would be ashamed of the division and lies Steve Bannon is spreading!"
Bannon, who was forced out of his White House job last summer, was not surprised or particularly bothered by the blowback, according to a person familiar with his thinking but not authorized to speak publicly on the matter. That person said Bannon vowed on Wednesday to continue his war on the Republican establishment and also predicted that, after a cooling-off period, he'd continue to speak with Trump, who likes to maintain contact with former advisers even after he fires and sometimes disparages them.
Sanders said Bannon and Trump last spoke in the first part of last month.
The former-and-current Breitbart News head has told associates that he believes Trump has been ill-served by some his closest allies, including eldest son Don Jr. and Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law. Bannon believes they have exposed Trump to the Russia probe that could topple his presidency and that Trump would be able to accomplish more without them
So far, there is no indication that Bannon is being investigated by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. But the House intelligence committee has invited him, along with former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, for a closed-door interview as a part of the panel's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, according to a person familiar with the invitation.
Trump, up until Wednesday, had been complimentary of Bannon, saying in October that the two "have a very good relationship" and had been friends for "a long time."
In the book, Bannon also speaks critically of Trump's daughter and White House adviser, Ivanka, calling her "dumb as a brick."
"A little marketing savvy and has a look but as far as understanding actually how the world works and what politics is and what it means '-- nothing," he is quoted saying.
New York magazine also published a lengthy adaptation of the book on Wednesday, in which Wolff writes that Trump believed his presidential nomination would boost his brand and deliver "untold opportunities" '-- but that he never expected to win.
It says Trump Jr. told a friend that his father looked as if he'd seen a ghost when it became clear he might win. The younger Trump described Melania Trump as "in tears '-- and not of joy."
The first lady's spokeswoman, Stephanie Grisham, disputed that, saying Mrs. Trump supported her husband's decision to run, encouraged him to do so and was happy when he won.
"The book is clearly going to be sold in the bargain fiction section," Grisham said in a statement.
Wolff was generally granted access to the White House with a 'blue badge" instead of the traditional press badge, giving him wide access to the West Wing, according to officials who spoke on condition of anonymity in order to discuss internal protocol. One former White House official said Wolff was known to camp out for hours in the West Wing lobby after meetings, sitting on a sofa as he waited to talk to staffers passing by.
Wolff said in an author's note that the book was based on more than 200 interviews, including multiple conversations with the president and senior staff. But Sanders said Wolff "never actually sat down with the president" and had spoken with him just once, briefly, by phone, since Trump had taken office.
She also said the vast majority of interviews Wolff conducted with other White House officials were done at Bannon's request.
Bannon's comments in the book are just his latest published criticism of the president and his family. In a Vanity Fair piece late last year, he was quoted telling friends and advisers that Trump had "lost a step" since his swearing-in and was "like an 11-year-old child."
Lemire reported from New York. Associated Press writer Zeke Miller contributed to this report.
The wildest claims about Trump from Michael Wolff's 'Fire and Fury'
Thu, 04 Jan 2018 12:51
1. Trump expected to lose the presidential race to Democrat Hillary Clinton and had already planned to return to private life after the campaign was over. Wolff explains what Trump was thinking toward the end of the campaign:
"Once he lost, Trump would be both insanely famous and a martyr to Crooked Hillary. His daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared would be international celebrities. Steve Bannon would become the de facto head of the tea-party movement. Kellyanne Conway would be a cable-news star. Melania Trump, who had been assured by her husband that he wouldn't become president, could return to inconspicuously lunching. Losing would work out for everybody. Losing was winning."
2. One of Trump's earliest campaign aides tried to educate the candidate about the Constitution, but Trump grew too bored to make it past the Fourth Amendment:
"Early in the campaign, Sam Nunberg was sent to explain the Constitution to the candidate. 'I got as far as the Fourth Amendment," Nunberg recalled, "before his finger is pulling down on his lip and his eyes are rolling back in his head.'"
3. Trump did not especially like moving into the White House. The president and first lady sleep in separate bedrooms, and Trump prohibits White House housekeepers from picking up things he throws on the floor.
"[Trump] retreated to his own bedroom'--the first time since the Kennedy White House that a presidential couple had maintained separate rooms. In the first days, he ordered two television screens in addition to the one already there, and a lock on the door, precipitating a brief standoff with the Secret Service, who insisted they have access to the room. He ­reprimanded the housekeeping staff for picking up his shirt from the floor: "If my shirt is on the floor, it's because I want it on the floor." Then he imposed a set of new rules: Nobody touch anything, especially not his toothbrush. (He had a longtime fear of being poisoned, one reason why he liked to eat at McDonald's'--nobody knew he was coming and the food was safely premade.) Also, he would let housekeeping know when he wanted his sheets done, and he would strip his own bed."
4. Trump's daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law Jared Kushner struck a deal over who would get to run for office first.
"Between themselves, the two had made an earnest deal: If sometime in the future the opportunity arose, she'd be the one to run for president. The first woman president, Ivanka entertained, would not be Hillary Clinton; it would be Ivanka Trump."
5. Some of Trump's closest allies, including Rupert Murdoch, were stunned by his lack of understanding on issues of policy. Following a meeting with tech executives during the 2016 transition, Trump reportedly called Murdoch and said he would expand H-1B visas in order to help the industry.
"Murdoch suggested that taking a liberal approach to H-1B visas, which open America's doors to select immigrants, might be hard to square with his promises to build a wall and close the borders. But Trump seemed unconcerned, assuring Murdoch, 'We'll figure it out.'"
"'What a f--king idiot,' said Murdoch, shrugging, as he got off the phone."
6. Trump seemed angry on his Inauguration Day, according to the book. He fought with his wife and was annoyed that notable celebrities did not want to attend, The New York magazine excerpt says.
"Trump did not enjoy his own inauguration. He was angry that A-level stars had snubbed the event, disgruntled with the accommodations at Blair House, and visibly fighting with his wife, who seemed on the verge of tears. Throughout the day, he wore what some around him had taken to calling his golf face: angry and pissed off, shoulders hunched, arms swinging, brow furled, lips pursed."
7. Bannon, who has repeatedly warned about China's growing influence and economic power, drew parallels between the world's second-largest economy and Nazi Germany, according to a book excerpt.
"China's everything. Nothing else matters. We don't get China right, we don't get anything right. This whole thing is very simple. China is where Nazi Germany was in 1929 to 1930. The Chinese, like the Germans, are the most rational people in the world, until they're not. And they're gonna flip like Germany in the '30s. You're going to have a hypernationalist state, and once that happens, you can't put the genie back in the bottle."
8. Wolff reports that a spokesman for Trump's legal team left the job because he feared possible obstruction of justice related to a statement drafted aboard Air Force One that defended Donald Trump Jr.'s meeting with a Russian lawyer in June 2016.
"Mark Corallo was instructed not to speak to the press, indeed not to even answer his phone. Later that week, Corallo, seeing no good outcome-and privately confiding that he believed the meeting on Air Force One represented a likely obstruction of justice-quit. (The Jarvanka side would put it out that Corallo was fired.)"
9. The book says top Trump aides questioned his intelligence in colorful terms. The revelations follow reports that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called Trump a "moron" last year.
"For Steve Mnuchin and Reince Priebus, he was an 'idiot.' For Gary Cohn, he was 'dumb as sh-t.' For H.R. McMaster he was a 'dope.' The list went on."
10. Wolff also writes at length about former Goldman Sachs executive Gary Cohn, who leads the president's National Economic Council. Cohn has privately disagreed with Trump a number of times in the past year. But an April email that, Wolff writes, circulated around the White House "purporting to represent the views of Gary Cohn" takes this to a new level:
"It's worse than you can imagine. An idiot surrounded by clowns. Trump won't read anything - not one-page memos, not the brief policy papers; nothing. He gets up halfway through meetings with world leaders because he is bored. And his staff is no better. Kushner is an entitled baby who knows nothing. Bannon is an arrogant prick who thinks he's smarter than he is. Trump is less a person than a collection of terrible traits. No one will survive the first year but his family. I hate the work, but feel I need to stay because I'm the only person there with a clue what he's doing. The reason so few jobs have been filled is that they only accept people who pass ridiculous purity tests, even for midlevel policy-making jobs where the people will never see the light of day. I am in a constant state of shock and horror."
Shortly after excerpts of the book were published on Wednesday, the White House released a statement from the president, in which he said, "Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my Presidency. When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind."
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the book was "filled with false and misleading accounts from individuals who have no access or influence with the White House."
A spokeswoman for the first lady said: "Mrs. Trump supported her husband's decision to run for President and in fact, encouraged him to do so. She was confident he would win and was very happy when he did."
Wolff says he interviewed more than 200 people, including senior White House staff members, over 18 months to gather information for the book. New York magazine, which published a version of the book excerpts, said Wolff had "no ground rules placed on his access" while he prepared the book.
What US intelligence knew about Adolf Hitler in 1943 | The Independent
Thu, 04 Jan 2018 13:41
One of history's most brutal tyrants was a diagnosed schizophrenic on a mission to avenge his childhood years of repressed rage, according to Henry Murray, an American psychologist and a Harvard professor.
In 1943, the US Office of Strategic Services, a precursor to the CIA, commissioned Murray to study Adolf Hitler's personality to try to predict his behavior. In his 229-page report, Analysis of the Personality of Adolf Hitler, Murray described Hitler as a paranoid ''utter wreck'' who was ''incapable of normal human relationships.''
''It is forever impossible to hope for any mercy or humane treatment from him,'' Murray wrote.
After a frustrating childhood, Hitler felt obligated to exert dominance in all things.'‹
Hitler suffered from intolerable feelings of inferiority, largely stemming from his small, frail, and sickly physical appearance during his childhood.
He refused to go to school because he was ashamed that he was a poor student compared to his classmates.
His mother appeased him by allowing him to drop out.
''He never did any manual work, never engaged in athletics, and was turned down as forever unfit for conscription in the Austrian Army,'' Murray writes.
Hitler managed his insecurities by worshiping ''brute strength, physical force, ruthless domination, and military conquest.''
Even sexually, Hitler was described as a ''full-fledged masochist,'' who humiliated and abused his partners.
Much of his wrath originated from a severe Oedipus complex.'‹
As a child, Hitler experienced the Oedipus complex '-- love of mother and hate of father '-- which he developed after accidentally seeing his parents having sex, Murray's report says.
Hitler was subservient and respectful to his father but viewed him as an enemy who ruled the family ''with tyrannical severity and injustice.'' According to the report, Hitler was envious of his father's masculine power and dreamed of humiliating him to re-establish ''the lost glory of his mother.''
For 16 years, Hitler did not exhibit any form of ambition or competition because his father had died and he had not yet discovered a new enemy.
Hitler frequently felt emasculated.
(Getty )
Another blow to Hitler's masculinity: He was ''incapable of consummating in a normal fashion,'' old sexual partners shared with Murray.
''This infirmity we must recognise as an instigation to exorbitant cravings for superiority. Unable to demonstrate male power before a woman, he is impelled to compensate by exhibiting unsurpassed power before men in the world at large,'' he writes.
As mentioned, when Hitler did have sexual relations with a woman, he exhibited masochistic behaviours. Hitler was said to have multiple partners, but eventually married his long-term mistress, Eva Braun, hours before the two committed suicide together in his Berlin bunker.
He suffered from indecisiveness and collapsed under pressure.
Even at the peak of his power, Hitler suffered from frequent emotional collapses from a guilty conscience.
''He has nightmares from a bad conscience, and he has long spells when energy, confidence, and the power of decision abandon him,'' Murray writes.
According to Murray, Hitler's cycle from complete despair to reaction followed this pattern:
An emotional outburst, tantrum of rage, and accusatory indignation ending in tears and self-pity.Succeeded by periods of inertia, exhaustion, melancholy, and indecisiveness.Followed by hours of acute dejection and disquieting nightmares.Leading to hours of recuperation.And finally confident and resolute decision to counterattack with great force and ruthlessness.The five-step evolution could last anywhere from 24 hours to several weeks, the report says.
He was ashamed of his mixed heritage.
(Getty )
Hitler valued ''pure, unmixed, and uncorrupted German blood,'' which he associated with aristocracy and beauty, according to Murray.
He offered the following explanation of Hitler's contempt for mixed blood:
As a boy of twelve, Hitler was caught engaging in some sexual experiment with a little girl; and later he seems to have developed a syphilophobia, with a diffuse fear of contamination of the blood through contact with a woman.It is almost certain that this irrational dread was partly due to the association in his mind of sexuality and excretion. He thought of sexual relations as something exceedingly filthy.Hitler denied that his father was born illegitimately and had at least two failed marriages, that his grandfather and godfather were Jews, and that one of his sisters was a mistress of a wealthy Jew.
He focused his hatred on Jews because they were an easy target.
Murray explains that Jews were the clear demographic for Hitler to project his personal frustrations and failings on because they ''do not fight back with fists and weapons.''
The Jews were therefore an easy and non-militarised target that he could blame for pretty much anything, including the disastrous effects after the Treaty of Versailles.
Anti-Semitic caricatures also associated Jews with several of Hitler's dislikes, including business, materialism, democracy, capitalism, and communism. He was eager to strip some Jews of their wealth and power.
He was moody, awkward and received compliments on his eye-colour.
(Getty )
According to Murray's report, Hitler received frequent compliments on his greyish-blue eyes, even though they were described as ''dead, impersonal, and unseeing.''
He was slightly below average in height and had a receding hairline, thin lips, and well-shaped hands.
Murray notes that the merciless Nazi leader was known to offer a weak handshake with ''moist and clammy'' palms and was awkward at making small talk.
Sources say Hitler appeared to be shy or moody when meeting people and was uncoordinated in his gestures. He was also incredibly picky about his food.
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Fake News
Trump supporters are heavy consumers of fake news '' ThinkProgress
Wed, 03 Jan 2018 09:48
New research shows just how prevalent, and popular, fake news was among Trump supporters. (CREDIT: GETTY/NICHOLAS KAMM)
After authorities arrested a handful of Donald Trump supporters for plotting to car-bomb Somali immigrants in Kansas in 2016, the defense attorney for one pointed to a novel defense for his client: fake news. Per the attorney, Patrick Stein '' whose Facebook was littered with both fake stories and support for then-candidate Trump '' was motivated to plan his slaughter because he thought then-President Barack Obama was on the brink of declaring martial law, misinformation he picked up from fake news sites.
Stein's plot, of course, was foiled, but his case helps sum not only the threats posed by the spawn of fake news sites over the past few years, but the propensity for Trump supporters to find themselves consuming fake news sites at far higher clips than other demographics in the U.S.
Indeed, a new paper from a trio of researchers illustrates just how popular fake news sites are for Trump supporters '' and how ineffective fact-checking efforts aimed at combating these sites remain.
The new paper from Princeton's Andrew Guess, Dartmouth's Brendan Nyhan, and University of Exeter's Jason Reifler illustrates how approximately 27 percent of American adults visited a fake news site in the lead-up to the 2016 election, as well as the election's immediate aftermath. For the purpose of the study, the academics described fake news sites as those that ''frequently publish false claims, distort genuine news reports, and copy or repurpose content from other outlets.'' Sites identified included fake news outlets like BipartisanReport.com, IJR.com, and DailyWire.com, among dozens of others.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the researchers discovered that fake news geared at the presidential candidates ''was heavily skewed toward Donald Trump.'' Moreover, Trump supporters ''were far more likely to visit fake news websites '' especially those that are pro-Trump '' than [Hillary] Clinton supporters.''
Moreover, according to the paper, nearly 60 percent of the total visits to fake news sites ''came from the 10 percent of people with the most conservative online information diets'' '' with older Americans ''much more likely to visit fake news'' based on the variables examined in the paper. Such findings back up earlier research, including a 2017 fake news-related conference at Harvard's Shorenstein Center that concluded that ''misinformation is currently predominantly a pathology of the right.''
Facebook, as the fake Russian feeds recently unearthed made clear, stands as a hive of misinformation and fake news without parallel. As the paper notes, Facebook ''was a key vector of exposure to fake news,'' with the researchers' findings providing ''the most compelling independence evidence to date'' backing up Facebook's descent into a fake news paradise.
Given that fake news '' thanks in no small part to Trump's continued usage of the term '' remains as relevant, and prevalent, since the election, the most concerning findings of the new paper may be the fact that dedicated fact-checking sites so rarely reach fake news consumers. As the researchers found, ''only about half of the Americans who visited a fake news website during the study period also saw any fact-check from one of the dedicated fact-checking website[s].'' Remarkably, not a single respondent who came across a fake news article flagged '' that is, which contained a claim rated as explicitly false '' actually saw any fact-check that debunked the story.
To be sure, fake news is hardly siloed to voices on the right, or those within Trump's camp. As a piece from The Atlantic last year noted, the lesson that those pushing anti-Trump conspiracies '' including voices like Seth Abramson and the Palmer Report '' seem to have taken ''is that fake news works.''
And it's possible that, since the time-frame examined in the recent paper, fake news consumption has tilted away from Trump's most fervent supporters. But given the new numbers, it's clear that Trump rode a wave of support from fake news consumers through the election '' even while he continues to decry the ''fake news'' he says is now aimed at him.
Fake News Study
Wed, 03 Jan 2018 09:50
Selective Exposure to Misinformation:Evidence from the consumption of fake news during the 2016 U.S.presidential campaignAndrew GuessDepartment of PoliticsPrinceton UniversityBrendan NyhanDepartment of GovernmentDartmouth CollegeJason Rei¬‚erDepartment of PoliticsUniversity of ExeterDecember 20, 2017AbstractThough some warnings about online ''echo chambers'' have been hyperbolic, tendencies towardselective exposure to politically congenial content are likely to extend to misinformation and tobe exacerbated by social media platforms. We test this prediction using data on the factuallydubious articles known as ''fake news.'' Using unique data combining survey responses withindividual-level web tra�c histories, we estimate that approximately 1 in 4 Americans visited afake news website from October 7-November 14, 2016. Trump supporters visited the most fakenews websites, which were overwhelmingly pro-Trump. However, fake news consumption washeavily concentrated among a small group '-- almost 6 in 10 visits to fake news websites camefrom the 10% of people with the most conservative online information diets. We also ¬nd thatFacebook was a key vector of exposure to fake news and that fact-checks of fake news almostnever reached its consumers.
The combination of rising partisanship and pervasive social media usage in the United States havecreated fears of widespread ''echo chambers'' and ''¬lter bubbles'' (Sunstein, 2001; Pariser, 2011).To date, these warnings appear to be overstated. Behavioral data indicates that only a subset ofAmericans have heavily skewed media consumption patterns (Gentzkow and Shapiro, 2011; Barber´aet al., 2015; Flaxman, Goel, and Rao, 2016; Guess, 2016).However, the risk of information polarization remains. Research shows people tend to prefercongenial information, including political news, when given the choice (e.g., Stroud, 2008; Hartet al., 2009; Iyengar and Hahn, 2009; Iyengar et al., 2008), but these studies typically focus on howideological slant a'†µects the content people choose to consume; relatively little is known about howselective exposure extends to false or misleading factual claims. Research in political science andpsychology has documented that misperceptions are often systematically related to people's politicalidentities and predispositions (Flynn, Nyhan, and Rei¬‚er, 2017). In this article, we thereforeevaluate whether people di'†µerentially consume false information that reinforces their political viewsas theories of selective exposure would predict.We additionally consider the extent to which social media usage exacerbates tendencies towardselective exposure to misinformation. Though Messing and Westwood (2014) ¬nd that social en-dorsements can help overcome partisan cues when people are choosing news content, other researchindicates that tendencies toward selective exposure to attitude-consistent news and informationmay be exacerbated by the process of sharing and consuming content online (e.g., Bakshy, Mess-ing, and Adamic, 2015). In this way, social media consumption may also be a mechanism increasingdi'†µerential exposure to factually dubious but attitude-consistent information.Finally, we analyze whether fact-checking '-- a new format that is increasingly used to counterpolitical misinformation '-- e'†µectively reached consumers of fake news during the 2016 election.Though fact-checks are relatively widely read and associated with greater political knowledge (e.g.,Gottfried et al., 2013), they are often disseminated online in a politically slanted manner that islikely to increase selective exposure and reduce consumption of counter-attitudinal fact-checks (Shinand Thorson, 2017). To date, however, no previous research has considered whether consumers offact-checks have been exposed to the claims that they evaluate. Does selective exposure underminethe e'†µectiveness of fact-checking?We evaluate these questions in the context of the rise of so-called ''fake news,'' a new form1
of political misinformation that features prominently in journalistic accounts of the 2016 U.S.presidential election (e.g., Solon, 2016). Data from Facebook indicates that these factually dubiousfor-pro¬t articles were shared by millions of people (Silverman, 2016). Many people also reportbelieving the claims that fake news sites promoted in post-election surveys (Silverman and Singer-Vine, 2016; Allcott and Gentzkow, 2017).However, little is known scienti¬cally about theco n s u m p t i o nof fake news, including who readit, the mechanisms by which it was disseminated, and the extent to which fact-checks reached fakenews consumers. These questions are critical to understanding how selective exposure can distortthefactualinformation that people consume '-- a key question for U.S. democracy.We therefore examine the prevalence and mechanisms of exposure to fake news websites in aunique dataset that combines pre-election survey responses and comprehensive web tra�c data froma national sample of Americans. Our design allows us to provide the ¬rst individual-level estimatesof visits to fake news websites, including who visited these websites, how much and which types offake news they consumed, and the probability that fact-checks reached fake news website readers.We can thus provide the ¬rst measures of the prevalence of selective exposure to misinformation inreal-world behavior.Speci¬cally, we ¬nd that approximately one in four Americans visited a fake news website, butthat consumption was disproportionately observed among Trump supporters for whom its largelypro-Trump content was attitude-consistent. However, this pattern of selective exposure was heavilyconcentrated among a small subset of people '-- almost six in ten visits to fake news websites camefrom the 10% of Americans with the most conservative information diets. Finally, we speci¬callyidentify Facebook as the most important mechanism facilitating the spread of fake news and showthat fact-checking largely failed to e'†µectively reach consumers of fake news.Taken together, these results suggest a need to revisit the study of selective exposure usingmeasures of real-world media consumption and to consider the behavioral mechanisms by whichpeople are exposed to misinformation.2
Data and resultsData for the analyses below combine responses to an online public opinion survey from a nationalsample of 2,525 Americans with web tra�c data collected passively from their computers withtheir consent during the October 7''November 14, 2016 period. Our primary outcome variables arecomputed from web tra�c data and measure the type and/or quantity of websites publishing fakenews that respondents visited. We employ survey weights to approximate the adult population ofthe U.S. (Further details on the sample and the survey weights are provided in the Supplemen-tary Materials, where we show that the sample closely resembles the U.S. population in both itsdemographic characteristics and privacy attitudes.)The survey questions we administered allow us to examine the relationship between demographicand attitudinal variables (e.g., candidate preference) and visits to fake news websites. Addition-ally, we compute three key explanatory measures from respondents' web tra�c data: the overallideological slant of a person's online media consumption (or ''information diet''), which we dividebelow into deciles from most liberal to most conservative using the method from Guess (2016); theirconsumption of ''hard news'' sites classi¬ed as focusing on national news, politics, or world a'†µairs(Bakshy, Messing, and Adamic, 2015); and their Facebook usage, which we divide into terciles byhow often they visit the site.Of course, studying fake news consumption requires de¬ning which websites are publishing fakenews. We de¬ne pro-Trump fake news websites as those that published two or more articles thatwere coded as fake news in Allcott and Gentzkow (2017), the ¬rst peer-reviewed study of fake newsin social science, and for which 80% or more of the fake news articles identi¬ed from the site werecoded as pro-Trump.1An identical approach is used to create our measure of pro-Clinton fake newssites. We exclude domains from these sets that were previously identi¬ed in Bakshy, Messing, andAdamic (2015) as focusing on hard news topics in order to concentrate on the new websites thatwere created around the election. Finally, we construct a measure of total fake news website visitsthat includes visits to both pro-Trump and pro-Clinton fake news websites as de¬ned above.21In the Supplementary Materials, we present robustness tests using two alternate outcome measures. The resultsare highly consistent with those presented below.2Our measures of fake news consumption thus exclude more established but often factually dubious sites such asBreitbart. Due to restrictions in the Facebook API, we also cannot observe incidental exposure to fake news or otherkinds of dubious content such as ''hyper-partisan'' sites in the Facebook News Feed. In this sense, our estimatesrepresent a lower bound of fake news consumption.3
The fake news sites in question, which are listed in the Supplementary Materials, display littleregard for journalistic norms or practices; reporting suggests most were created to generate pro¬ts(Silverman and Alexander, 2017). Though they sometimes publish accurate information, theyalso frequently publish false claims, distort genuine news reports, and copy or repurpose contentfrom other outlets. It is important to note, however, that there is still considerable diversity inthe stories that these sites publish. Some content is deeply misleading or fabricated (e.g., the''Pizzagate'' conspiracy theory), while other articles instead selectively amplify political events inan over-the-top style that ¬‚atters the prejudices of a candidate's supporters.Total fake news consumptionWe estimate that 27.4% of Americans age 18 or older visited an article on a pro-Trump or pro-Clinton fake news website during our study period, which covered the ¬nal weeks of the 2016election campaign (95% CI: 24.4%''30.3%). While this proportion may appear small, 27% of thevoting age population in the United States is more than 65 million people. In total, articles on pro-Trump or pro-Clinton fake news websites represented an average of approximately 2.6% of all thearticles Americans read on sites focusing on hard news topics during this period. The pro-Trumpor pro-Clinton fake news that people read was heavily skewed toward Donald Trump '-- peoplesaw an average (mean) of 5.45 articles from fake news websites during the study period of October7''November 14, 2007. Nearly all of these were pro-Trump (average of 5.00 pro-Trump articles).Selective exposure to fake newsThere are stark di'†µerences by candidate support in the frequency and slant of fake news websitevisits.3We focus speci¬cally in this study on respondents who reported supporting Hillary Clintonor Donald Trump in our survey (76% of our sample) because of our focus on selective exposure bycandidate preference. People who supported Trump were far more likely to visit fake news websites'-- especially those that are pro-Trump '-- than Clinton supporters. Among Trump supporters,40% read at least one article from a pro-Trump fake news website (mean = 13.1, 95% CI: 7.8, 18.3)3Our analysis considers visits to fake news websites as de¬ned above but we show in the Supplementary Materialsthat the results in Table 1 (below) are consistent if we instead only consider visits to speci¬c article URLs thatAllcott and Gentzkow (2017) identify as being classi¬ed as false or misleading by fact-checkers. The results are alsoconsistent if we consider visits to websites identi¬ed by Silverman (2016) as publishing the most widely shared fakenews articles before the 2016 election (see the Supplementary Materials).4
compared with only 15% of Clinton supporters (mean = 0.51, 95% CI: 0.39, 0.64). Consumptionof articles from pro-Clinton fake news websites was much lower, though also somewhat divided bycandidate support. Clinton supporters were modestly more likely to have visited pro-Clinton fakenews websites (11.3%, mean articles: 0.85) versus Trump supporters (2.8%, mean articles: 0.05).The di'†µerences by candidate preference that we observe in fake news website visits are even morepronounced when expressed in terms of the composition of the overall news diets of each group.Articles on fake news websites represented an average of 6.2% of the pages visited on sites thatfocused on news topics among Trump supporters versus 0.8% among Clinton supporters.The di'†µerences we observe in visits to pro-Trump and pro-Clinton fake news websites by candi-date support are statistically signi¬cant in OLS models even after we include standard demographicand political covariates, including a standard scale measuring general political knowledge (Table1).4Trump supporters were disproportionately more likely to consume pro-Trump fake news andless likely to consume pro-Clinton fake news relative to Clinton supporters, supporting a selectiveexposure account. Older Americans (age 60 and older) were also much more likely to visit fakenews conditional on these covariates, including pro-Trump fake news.We also ¬nd evidence of selective exposurewithinfake news; pro-Trump voters di'†µerentiallyvisited pro-Trump fake news websites compared with pro-Clinton websites. To help demonstratethis, we employ a randomization inference-style approach in which we randomly permute the coding(pro-Trump or pro-Clinton) of visits to fake news websites by Trump supporters in our panel. Totalconsumption of articles from pro-Trump fake news websites is as frequent as we observe or greaterin 4 of 1,000 simulations (p=0.004 one-sided; see the Supplementary Materials). We thus rejectthe null hypothesis that Trump supporters are no more likely to visit pro-Trump fake news contentthan pro-Clinton fake news content.Finally, we show that individuals who engage in high levels of selective exposure to online newsin general are also di'†µerentially likely to visit fake news websites favoring their preferred candidate.In general, fake news consumption seems to be a complement to, rather than a substitute for,hard news '-- visits to fake news websites are highest among people who consume the most hardnews and do not measurably decrease among the most politically knowledgeable individuals. (See4We use OLS models due to their simplicity, ease of interpretation, and robustness to misspeci¬cation (Angristand Pischke, 2009), but we demonstrate in the Supplementary Materials that these conclusions are consistent if weinstead use probit and negative binomial regression models.5
Table 1: Who chooses to visit fake news websites (behavioral data)Pro-Trump fake Pro-Clinton fakenews consumption news consumptionBinary Count Binary CountTrump supporter 0.220** 13.121** -0.113** -1.100**(0.033) (3.576) (0.019) (0.181)Political knowledge 0.019* 1.013 0.003 -0.003(0.008) (0.609) (0.004) (0.039)Political interest 0.044* 1.744 0.027 0.378**(0.021) (1.028) (0.015) (0.117)College graduate -0.010 -2.655 0.015 -0.109(0.030) (1.771) (0.019) (0.157)Fe m a l e 0 . 0 4 7 4 . 5 6 5 0 . 0 2 1 0 . 2 0 0(0.028) (2.921) (0.020) (0.146)Nonwhite -0.057 5.519 -0.054* -0.633**(0.035) (4.876) (0.024) (0.180)Age 30''44 -0.038 -0.040 0.053* 0.369*(0.055) (1.306) (0.023) (0.167)Age 45''59 0.031 1.215 0.077** 0.801**(0.059) (1.472) (0.023) (0.225)Age 60+ 0.084 7.221* 0.107** 0.635**(0.056) (2.924) (0.024) (0.139)Constant -0.110 -16.568* -0.049 -0.692*(0.081) (7.558) (0.046) (0.302)R20.13 0.05 0.07 0.03N2167216721672167*p
Macaulay Culkin: Satanic Hollywood Elites Murder Children During Rituals | Neon Nettle
Tue, 02 Jan 2018 05:25
on 12th December 2017 @ 6.56pm
(C) press Macaulay Culkin has exposed Satanic Hollywood elites who murder children Former child star Macauley Culkin has blown the whistle on the entertainment industry elite to reveal that Hollywood studio executives are "blood-thirsty Satanists" who ritualistically "murder child actors."The Home Alone star has exposed movie business execs as "Satanic pedophiles" who "ritually abuse children in the industry."
Culkin claims he only got out alive because he was a "smart and suspicious kid" who "got too famous to be killed like some of the other kids."
"You learn very early to recognize which of them want to abuse you, and which of them have even darker tastes,'' Macaulay Culkin said, explaining that "the worst of them wear shoes made out of the skin of children that they ritually murdered."
Culkin dropped the huge truth bomb during a radio interview in Paris, France, Culkin, saying:
"Have you seen leather products made from human skin?
"It has a very unusual, distinctive look.
"I learned at a very young age to identify it."
The news was picked up by French media, with mainstream French newspapers quickly reporting on the explosive interview.
However, within an hour of publication, all reports began to disappear, with previously published articles suddenly being scrubbed from the internet.
French news outlet Les Echos deleted their article shortly after it started to go viral, but has not responded to questions regarding why they removed it within an hour of publication, and if they were pressured to do so.
(C) LesEchos French newspaper Les Echos' headline reads: Macaulay Culkin speaks about Hollywood ritual child abuse live on radio. (C) LesEchos Macaulay Culkin claims Hollywood elites rape and murder child stars and use their skin to make boots, belts and wallets that they use as 'skin trophie Skin TrophiesDuring the interview, Culkin claimed that children in the entertainment industry "learn very early to recognize which of them want to abuse you, and which of them have even darker tastes," explaining that some of the Hollywood executives wear "skin trophies."
Explaining that he was 11 the first time he saw human leather, Culkin said he was "filming Home Alone 2 in New York," when he was "ushered into a back room on the set. There was a guy in there, a powerful executive suit type, you know what I mean?"
"He tried to make me relax by giving me a can of Coke.
"Started telling me about the nature of the industry.
"Basically, he wanted me to cut my parents out.
"He wanted to be my guardian.
"He said he would make me into the biggest teen star in history.
"He said I had it all but that I had to get rid of my parents.
"I was like 'Dude, I'm 11!' and he said 'You're a man now.'"
Culkin, who has been living in Paris, France since 2003, then explained that the man "began to make his intentions clear."
"He started breathing real shallow.
"My experience with perverts kicked in.
"I could tell he was interested in me.
"He licked his lips and told me I was very handsome.
"I think I managed to say 'thank you' and started thinking about how I could get the f*ck out of there."
"Dude, I'm 11""Then he reached into his case and took out a crack pipe.
"He put it in his lap, took out this huge lighter, and continued to gaze at me with this overpowering sexual desire."
"I was just staring at him. I think I said something like 'Dude, I'm 11' again.
"I remember he said to me, 'It's a celebration, little man. To celebrate your upcoming success. Your many successes. Come. Sit back down.'
"He was tapping the pipe on his crotch, smiling this total creepazoid smile.
"I ran out of the room, but I ran straight into this other guy who was outside the room and he grabbed me by the arm and threw me back inside.
"He lit the pipe and blew the smoke in my face.
"He told me to look at his shoes.
"He said they were made from the skin of children he and his friends had murdered.
"He said leather made from human skin is the finest leather known to man."
Death of a child star
Macaulay Culkin said the Hollywood executive then dropped a heavy hint about the provenance of the skin used to make his shoes.
"He asked me if I knew Heather O'Rourke."
"Yeah, I remembered her.
"I grew up watching Poltergeist.
"I remembered her in Happy Days. She was so cute."
"Then it dawned on me what he was getting at and I vomited all over his shoes."
Heather O'Rourke was an American child actress, discovered by director Steven Spielberg when she was visiting MGM's studios and later cast as Carol Anne Freeling in the horror film Poltergeist.
She had the movie's most recognizable line: "They're here!"
(C) press After years in the Hollywood system, Heather O'Rourke died suddenly and unexpectedly at the age of 12.
The official cause of death was listed as ''heart attack and septic shock'' caused by a ''misdiagnosed intestinal stenosis'' in 1988, though many people were left wondering if there was more to the tragic story.
''Let's just say I went off the rails after my experiences filming Home Alone 2. I'm 37 now and I'm still processing everything. The things I have seen'...'' Culkin said, before trailing off and abruptly changing the topic.
Culkin's legacy
There are a fair few things Macaulay Culkin is remembered for.
People like to talk about his years of reported heroin addiction, which snowballed into rumors that he spent an obscene amount of money on drugs.
Others chat about his friendship with pop star Michael Jackson, as well as him fronting a pizza-themed comedy rock band.
But Culkin no longer has the rail thin, sickly appearance of a junkie. Carrying some weight around the midriff, Culkin is looking happier now and is filming the lead role for friend Seth Green's vehicle Changeland.
Speaking about the future, Culkin said "I've come out the other side. I'm alive. That is more than can be said for many. I'm not finished yet.
"Hollywood is going to burn in my lifetime. You watch."
3 Belts No Roads
Cargo trains make record trips between Yangtze River Delta, Europe - Chinadaily.com.cn
Wed, 03 Jan 2018 09:41
SHANGHAI - Freight trains made a record 1,127 trips last year from China's Yangtze River Delta to Europe and central Asia on 14 routes, according to Shanghai Railway Bureau Tuesday.
It marked a yearly increase of more than 47 percent, it added.
A greater variety of products, from small commodities, electronics, textiles, auto parts to vehicles, mechanical equipment and furniture are delivered between China and 16 countries in the European Union and central Asia.
The fastest train can arrive at Europe in 12 days, only one-third of the transportation time by sea.
A number of Chinese cities have launched similar freight trains to central Asia and Europe.
Eastern Mediterranean may be scene of first conflict of 2018
Thu, 04 Jan 2018 14:52
The eastern Mediterranean is expected to witness the first conflict of 2018, as developments at the end of 2017 are signaling worsening relationships between Turkey and the Greek Cypriot-Greece-Israel-Egypt bloc. Territorial disputes over natural gas and newly discovered hydrocarbon reserves in the eastern Mediterranean basin are the reason.
Up until a few years ago, the hope was that these hydrocarbon reserves would offer a real opportunity for a peaceful settlement of the Cyprus conflict. But these optimistic hopes vanished with both Turks and Greek Cypriots unilaterally speeding up exploration and drilling operations.
In 2004, the European Union had declared the Greek Cypriots the sole entity representing the island of Cyprus and accepted it as an EU member. Feeling that its hand has been strengthened following the EU decision, the Greek Cypriots claimed the right of natural resources exploration in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) around Cyprus.
Turkey, however, has been insisting that the Greek Cypriot administration in Nicosia cannot unilaterally ''adopt laws regarding the exploitation of natural resources on behalf of the entire island,'' as it doesn't represent the Turkish Cypriots. Also, there is a separate disputed EEZ between Turkey and Greece in the eastern Mediterranean '-- another point of tension in the conflict.
Ankara reacted strongly to the Greek Cypriots' natural gas drilling efforts in July. The Turkish army dispatched a frigate in the eastern Mediterranean to "monitor a drilling ship that is believed to have begun searching for oil and gas off ethnically divided Cyprus despite Turkey's objections,'' The Associated Press reported.
On Nov. 20, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi visited Greek Cypriot for a trilateral meeting in Nicosia to discuss hydrocarbon resources in the region. In addition to Egypt's president, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras also participated in the meeting, which was hosted by Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades. The Turkish Foreign Ministry, on the other hand, declared the outcome of the trilateral meeting to be ''null and void."
However, despite Turkey's opposition, drillship Saipem 12000 sailed to carry out exploration and drilling operations on behalf of French TOTAL and Italian ENI companies in the Calypso region between March 1 and Dec. 26 in accordance with an agreement reached during the trilateral summit.
Moreover, Italy, Greece, Greek Cypriot and Israel had already agreed on the construction of a gas pipeline from newly discovered fields. The project '-- dubbed ''East-Med'' '-- will cost some $6 billion. An over 2,000-kilometer-long (1,243-mile-long) pipeline will channel offshore reserves in the Levantine basin to Greece and Italy.
The East-Med project could be interpreted as an effort to form a regional alliance between Greek Cypriot and Greece to confront Turkey in the eastern Mediterranean. The Greek Cypriots and Greece also signed a separate agreement with Israel to channel natural gas reserves in the Mediterranean basin via an undersea pipeline. Italy's participation in this project didn't come as a surprise, as Italy has already been exploring natural gas in the Mediterranean on behalf of the Greeks. The undersea pipeline is expected to channel natural gas from Israel's Leviathan Basin and Greece's 12th plot '-- also called Aphrodite '-- to Crete, and then to Europe via Greece.
On Dec. 5, the energy ministers of Greece, Greek Cypriot and Israel and the Italian ambassador to Greek Cypriot signed an accord in Nicosia on the construction of the East-Med pipeline. The participation of EU representatives in the ceremony indicated Brussels' support for the project.
In 2017, the Greek Cypriots, Israel and Greece conducted three joint exercises in March, June and November. At the beginning of November 2017, Greece and Egypt held a joint naval exercise for the first time in quite a while.
In response, Ankara initiated its own moves and issued a navigational telex to reserve an area for military exercises. The area covers the disputed sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth blocs that the Greek Cypriots had declared as their EEZ. Ankara's declaration came at a time when Saipem 12000 arrived in the Mediterranean.
Also, the Turkish army has kept some of its forces in the eastern Mediterranean following NATO's Standing Maritime Task Force exercise, which was conducted Nov. 7-16. The Turkish navy's TCG Gediz and TCG Barbaros frigates; the TCG Kalkan, TCG Mizrak, TCG Bora and TCG Meltem gunboats; the TCG Akar fuel tanker; and four underwater commando teams are still in the sixth bloc.
In 2018, Turkey will have its first brand-new drilling vessel, the Deepsea Metro II. According to navigation data, the ship left Norway's Hoylandsbygda port some two weeks ago and is currently sailing west of Portugal. It is expected to arrive in Turkey on Dec. 31. The critical question now is whether the Turkish navy will be providing military escorts for the new drilling vessel.
If the Deepsea Metro II is to be escorted by a Turkish navy fleet while sailing to the sixth bloc, then the affair is bound to heat up. In the meantime, the Nicosia administration also announced that drilling operations in its EEZ would begin Dec. 30 and that Saipem 12000 would join the operations as well.
Now the question is whether Turkey's Deepsea Metro II and Saipem 12000 and naval fleets escorting them will confront each other in the disputed sixth bloc.
One should also consider domestic developments in relevant countries when trying to measure the extent of a possible crisis. A possible hydrocarbon crisis is an excellent domestic political issue that all governments can use to consolidate their nationalist support base.
In sum '-- and in comparison to 2017 '-- one will witness more eventful scenes in the eastern Mediterranean in 2018. The only actor that could mediate between Ankara and Nicosia is not Washington but Moscow, the new shining star of the Middle East.
Metin Gurcan is a columnist for Al-Monitor's Turkey Pulse. He served in Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Iraq as a Turkish military adviser from 2002 to 2008. After resigning from the military, he became an Istanbul-based independent security analyst. Gurcan obtained his PhD in 2016 with a dissertation on changes in the Turkish military over the preceding decade. He has published extensively in Turkish and foreign academic journals, and his book ''What Went Wrong in Afghanistan: Understanding Counterinsurgency in Tribalized, Rural, Muslim Environments'' was published in August 2016. On Twitter: @Metin4020
Music Business
Spotify Hit With $1.6 Billion Lawsuit From Music Publisher '' Variety
Wed, 03 Jan 2018 02:49
UPDATED: Spotify has been hit with a $1.6 billion lawsuit from Wixen Music Publishing, which handles titles by Tom Petty, Neil Young, Steely Dan's Donald Fagen, Weezer's Rivers Cuomo, Stevie Nicks, and others. The suit, which alleges that Spotify is using thousands of songs without a proper license, was filed on Dec. 29 in California ['...]
Talking Tubes
That Game on Your Phone May Be Tracking What You're Watching on TV - The New York Times
Wed, 03 Jan 2018 03:32
Android screenshots of the app Honey Quest, which uses technology that keeps tabs on the viewing habits of its users. At first glance, the gaming apps '-- with names like ''Pool 3D,'' ''Beer Pong: Trickshot'' and ''Real Bowling Strike 10 Pin'' '-- seem innocuous. One called ''Honey Quest'' features Jumbo, an animated bear.
Yet these apps, once downloaded onto a smartphone, have the ability to keep tabs on the viewing habits of their users '-- some of whom may be children '-- even when the games aren't being played.
It is yet another example of how companies, using devices that many people feel they can't do without, are documenting how audiences in a rapidly changing entertainment landscape are viewing television and commercials.
The apps use software from Alphonso, a start-up that collects TV-viewing data for advertisers. Using a smartphone's microphone, Alphonso's software can detail what people watch by identifying audio signals in TV ads and shows, sometimes even matching that information with the places people visit and the movies they see. The information can then be used to target ads more precisely and to try to analyze things like which ads prompted a person to go to a car dealership.
More than 250 games that use Alphonso software are available in the Google Play store; some are also available in Apple's app store.
Some of the tracking is taking place through gaming apps that do not otherwise involve a smartphone's microphone, including some apps that are geared toward children. The software can also detect sounds even when a phone is in a pocket if the apps are running in the background.
Alphonso said that its software, which does not record human speech, is clearly explained in app descriptions and privacy policies and that the company cannot gain access to users' microphones and locations unless they agree.
''The consumer is opting in knowingly and can opt out any time,'' Ashish Chordia, Alphonso's chief executive, said, adding that the company's disclosures comply with Federal Trade Commission guidelines. The company also provides opt-out instructions on its website.
Alphonso declined to say how many people it is collecting data from, and Mr. Chordia said that he could not disclose the names of the roughly 1,000 games and the messaging and social apps with Alphonso software because a rival was trying to hurt its relationships with developers. (The New York Times identified many of the apps in question by searching ''Alphonso automated'' and ''Alphonso software'' in the Google Play store.)
Mr. Chordia also said that Alphonso did not approve of its software being used in apps meant for children. But it was, as of earlier this month, integrated in more than a dozen games like ''Teeth Fixed'' and ''Zap Balloons'' from KLAP Edutainment in India, which describes itself as ''primarily focusing on offering educational games for kids and students.''
Alphonso is one of several young companies using new technologies to enter living rooms in search of fresh information to sell to marketers. For all the talk of digital disruption in the ad world, television still attracts almost $70 billion in annual spending in the United States, and advertisers will gladly pay to amplify and analyze the effectiveness of that spending.
An Android screenshot of Teeth Fixed. The gaming app uses software from Alphonso, a start-up that collects TV-viewing data for advertisers. The spread of these technologies, combined with the proliferation of internet-connected TVs and tools that can identify video content through pixels and audio snippets, has resulted in some questionable practices.
Last year, the trade commission issued a warning to a dozen developers who had installed a piece of software known as Silverpush onto apps with the goal of using device microphones to listen for audio signals that humans could not hear to log what they watched on TV. This year, Vizio agreed to pay $2.2 million to settle charges that it was collecting and selling viewing data from millions of internet-connected televisions without the knowledge or consent of the sets' owners.
Companies gathering such data, especially through games, need to make their business practices clear to consumers ''because it's so inherently unexpected and surprising,'' said Justin Brookman, the director of consumer privacy and technology policy at the advocacy group Consumers Union, and a former policy director at the trade commission who worked on the Silverpush case.
''When you see 'permission for microphone access for ads,' it may not be clear to a user that, Oh, this means it's going to be listening to what I do all the time to see if I'm watching 'Monday Night Football,''' Mr. Brookman said. ''They need to go above and beyond and be careful to make sure consumers know what's going on.''
Through its software, Alphonso can follow the ads that people see in friends' homes and elsewhere. The company has also worked with movie studios to figure out theater-viewing habits, Mr. Chordia, Alphonso's chief executive, said. Smartphone apps that are running Alphonso's software, even if they are not actively in use, can detect movies based on film snippets provided by the studios ahead of time.
''A lot of the folks will go and turn off their phone, but a small portion of people don't and put it in their pocket,'' Mr. Chordia said. ''In those cases, we are able to pick up in a small sample who is watching the show or the movie.'' Mr. Chordia said that Alphonso has a deal with the music-listening app Shazam, which has microphone access on many phones. Alphonso is able to provide the snippets it picks up to Shazam, he said, which can use its own content-recognition technology to identify users and then sell that information to Alphonso.
Shazam, which Apple recently agreed to buy, declined to comment about Alphonso.
Founded in 2013, Alphonso initially focused on working with apps to capitalize on ads through so-called second-screen viewing, as people increasingly turned their attention to smartphones and tablets during TV breaks. Now, the company has broadened its focus to gathering troves of viewing data from companies like TiVo and directly from TVs and streaming devices through deals with manufacturers.
The disparate viewing information is tied to IP addresses, which can be matched to characteristics like age, gender, income and more through big data brokers like Experian without using personally identifiable information like names and addresses.
Still, the connection between microphones and ads is a sticky one. Americans are both inviting internet-connected speakers from Amazon and Google into their homes in droves while expressing anxiety that companies are secretly listening to them and then using that information in unsettling ways, like eerily relevant ads. (Facebook has tried, and failed, to quash that theory many times.)
''We have to be really careful as we have more devices capturing more information in living rooms and bedrooms and on the street and in other people's homes that the public is not blindsided and surprised by things,'' said Dave Morgan, the founder and chief executive of Simulmedia, which works with advertisers on targeted TV ads. ''It's not what's legal. It is what's not creepy.''
Alphonso's apps and its relationship with Shazam show that there can be a connection between what our phones may hear and the ads that appear on a website or social media feed in the next few hours.
On the other hand, many people have had issues recognizing audio through apps like Shazam if there is too much background noise, so it's not clear how much information Alphonso's apps can pick up on a daily basis.
'''It's not normally, I don't think, going to be expected that an application is going to be listening for what you're watching,'' Mr. Brookman said. ''But you're not necessarily expecting your TV to be watching what you're doing either.''
Email Sapna Maheshwari at sapna.maheshwari@nytimes.com or follow her on Twitter: @sapna.
Niraj Chokshi contributed reporting.
A version of this article appears in print on , on Page B1 of the New York edition with the headline: Apps Listen In, to See What's on Your TV . Order Reprints | Today's Paper | Subscribe
Home Assistant Adopter Beware: Google, Amazon Digital Assistant Patents Reveal Plans for Mass Snooping | Consumer Watchdog
Thu, 04 Jan 2018 12:56
SANTA MONICA, CA '' Internet giants Amazon and Google are slashing prices and offering supposed deals on their ''digital assistants'' this holiday season, but a study of patent applications associated with the devices reveals plans for massive surveillance of users' homes, Consumer Watchdog warned today.
Consumer Watchdog said that a study of patent applications filed by Amazon and Google with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office reveals a vision for an Orwellian future in which digital assistants eavesdrop on everything from confidential conversations to your toilet flushing habits to children's movements and the books on bedside tables. They would know when you go to sleep and whom you wake up with.
The patents reveal the devices' possible use as surveillance equipment for massive information collection and intrusive digital advertising. SNL's Weekend Update made light of these revelations.
''Google and Amazon executives want you to think that Google Home and Amazon Echo are there to help you out at the sound of your voice. In fact, they're all about snooping on you and your family in your home and gathering as much information on your activities as possible,'' said John M. Simpson, Consumer Watchdog's Privacy and Technology Project Director. ''You might find them useful sometimes, but think about what you're revealing about yourself and your family, and how that information might be used in the future.''
Read the study of Google and Amazon digital assistants and patent applications here.
''Instead of charging you for these surveillance devices, Google and Amazon should be paying you to take one into your home,'' Simpson said.
Among the key revelations from the patent applications:
Digital assistants can be ''awake'' even when users think they aren't listening. The digital assistants are supposed to react only when they ''hear'' a so-called ''wakeword.'' For Amazon Echo it's ''Alexa'' and for Google Home it's ''OK, Google.'' In fact, the devices listen all the time they are turned on '' and Amazon has envisoned Alexa using that information to build profiles on anyone in the room to sell them goods. Amazon filed a patent application for an algorithm that lets the device identify statements of interest'-- such as ''I love skiing,'' '-- enabling the speaker to be surveilled based on their interests and targeted for related advertising.The devices can connect to other internet-enabled home systems to monitor your family members' habits and infer what they're up to, such as when your children are engaged in mischief. A Google patent application describes using a smart home system to monitor and control screen time, hygiene habits, meal and travel schedules, and other activity. The system even claims it can ''infer mischief'' based on audio and motion sensor readings from rooms where children are present. Silent children who move are inferred to be mischievous.The devices are envisioned as part of a surveillance web in the home to chart families' patterns so that they can more easily be marketed to based on their interests. Google connects its Google Home to various ''smart'' devices such as thermostats and lighting made by another Alphabet Inc. division, Nest. When connected, ''inferences'' could be made about when occupants are home, sleeping, cooking, when they are in the den watching television, when they shower and when they flush the toilet, according to a Google patent. Another Google patent outlines ways it could collect information about family members' interests and activities to infer likely purchases. For example, the application describes how sports camp could be marketed to a 15-year-old boy holding a basketball in the living room. It also describes how Google could infer an interest in the actor Will Smith by combining a users' browser search history with an image on a user's t-shirt obtained from a Nest camera in the home. It also describes how it could sell you a TV show by spying on a book on your bedside table. ''The answers to these questions may help third-parties benefit consumers by providing them with interesting information, products and services as well as with providing them with targeted advertisements,'' the patent application claims.''This isn't about helping people, it's about selling people,'' said Simpson. ''If these patents are implemented, there will be unparalleled surveillance of our private lives. The privacy invading implications of these devices are profound.''
Google and Amazon appear most interested in using the data they get by snooping on your daily life to target advertising, Consumer Watchdog said. However, when that information is compiled others could access it. For example, home insurers and utility companies have already made deals with Nest to put smart devices in their customers' homes.
Law enforcement is already seeking information from smart devices. An Amazon Echo made headlines last year when police investigating a murder sought to subpoena recordings made by the device. Investigators in the same case also managed to obtain data from a smart water meter that suggested that the crime scene had been hosed down before police arrived.
Hackers and identity thieves are also likely to be able to access the data compiled by Google and Amazons snooping, Consumer Watchdog said. In fact, Google Home's FAQ contains the following waning:
''Anyone who is near your Google Home device can request information from it, and if you have given Google Home access to your calendars, Gmail or other personal information, people can ask your Google Home device about that information. Google Home also gets information about you from your other interactions with Google services.''
The study is based on patent applications, which reflect the ambitious thinking of companies' research and development teams. The fact that a company has applied to patent a concept does not mean that they will implement it. Patents do, however, reflect a company's ambitions, Consumer Watchdog said, and nothing prevents them from implementing those changes once the devices are in your home. It would not be the first time a company like Google has expanded data collection without obtaining explicit consent from users.
''Digital assistants may appeal to some people because they make them feel modern and tech savvy,'' said Simpson. ''But that feeling '' if you want it -- comes at the cost of your personal privacy.''
- 30 -
War on Weed
United States Cannabis Coalition '' A Special Project of the United States Freedom Coalition
Thu, 04 Jan 2018 14:54
About UsDonate NowLatest News
A Florida Republican congressman, Representative Matt Gaetz, has been one of the House's foremost leaders working to reform federal marijuana policies. While Rep. Gaetz has been working tirelessly for almost '...
The fate of state legalized medicinal marijuana in the United States was in a precarious place last week. Every appropriation passed by both Houses in Congress since 2014 included an '...
Columbus Smith, an 80 year old African American farmer out of Panama City is suing the state of Florida in hopes to prevent them from issuing cannabis cultivation licenses only '...
The USCC is a Special Project of the United States Freedom CoalitionAbout UsThe United States Cannabis Coalition (USCC) is a pro-cannabis special project dedicated to influencing federal level decision makers so they honor State's Rights and state mandated marijuana laws as well as reform our antiquated and failed federal drug laws.
To learn more about the sponsoring organization of the USCC, please visit usfreedomcoalition.org
HistoryDuring the campaign, President Trump pledged that as President he would honor and protect state's rights in the 29 states that have legalized cannabis. Candidate Trump went so far as '...
VisionThe United States Cannabis Coalition is a bi-partisan pro-cannabis advocacy group engaged in influencing national and state level policy makers, including the President, on marijuana industry issues. The USCC is '...
MissionMillions of Americans are getting medical relief from the use of cannabis in all its forms. When Attorney General Jeff Sessions says ''good people don't smoke marijuana'' he's wrong; sick '...
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AP NewsBreak: US to end policy that let legal pot flourish
Thu, 04 Jan 2018 15:21
WASHINGTON (AP) '-- Attorney General Jeff Sessions is rescinding the Obama-era policy that had paved the way for legalized marijuana to flourish in states across the country, two people with knowledge of the decision told The Associated Press. Sessions will instead let federal prosecutors where pot is legal decide how aggressively to enforce federal marijuana law, the people said.
The people familiar with the plan spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss it before an announcement expected Thursday.
The move by President Donald Trump's attorney general likely will add to confusion about whether it's OK to grow, buy or use marijuana in states where pot is legal, since long-standing federal law prohibits it. It comes days after pot shops opened in California, launching what is expected to become the world's largest market for legal recreational marijuana and as polls show a solid majority of Americans believe the drug should be legal.
While Sessions has been carrying out a Justice Department agenda that follows Trump's top priorities on such issues as immigration and opioids, the changes to pot policy reflect his own concerns. Trump's personal views on marijuana remain largely unknown.
Sessions, who has assailed marijuana as comparable to heroin and has blamed it for spikes in violence, had been expected to ramp up enforcement. Pot advocates argue that legalizing the drug eliminates the need for a black market and would likely reduce violence, since criminals would no longer control the marijuana trade.
The Obama administration in 2013 announced it would not stand in the way of states that legalize marijuana, so long as officials acted to keep it from migrating to places where it remained outlawed and out of the hands of criminal gangs and children. Sessions is rescinding that memo, written by then-Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole, which had cleared up some of the uncertainty about how the federal government would respond as states began allowing sales for recreational and medical purposes.
The pot business has since become a sophisticated, multimillion-dollar industry that helps fund schools, educational programs and law enforcement. Eight states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for recreational use, and California's sales alone are projected to bring in $1 billion annually in tax revenue within several years.
Sessions' policy will let U.S. attorneys across the country decide what kinds of federal resources to devote to marijuana enforcement based on what they see as priorities in their districts, the people familiar with the decision said.
Sessions and some law enforcement officials in states such as Colorado blame legalization for a number of problems, including drug traffickers that have taken advantage of lax marijuana laws to hide in plain sight, illegally growing and shipping the drug across state lines, where it can sell for much more. The decision was a win for pot opponents who had been urging Sessions to take action.
"There is no more safe haven with regard to the federal government and marijuana, but it's also the beginning of the story and not the end," said Kevin Sabet, president and CEO of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, who was among several anti-marijuana advocates who met with Sessions last month. "This is a victory. It's going to dry up a lot of the institutional investment that has gone toward marijuana in the last five years."
Threats of a federal crackdown have united liberals who object to the human costs of a war on pot with conservatives who see it as a states' rights issue. Some in law enforcement support a tougher approach, but a bipartisan group of senators in March urged Sessions to uphold existing marijuana policy. Others in Congress have been seeking ways to protect and promote legal pot businesses.
Marijuana advocates quickly condemned Sessions' move as a return to outdated drug-war policies that unduly affected minorities.
Sessions "wants to maintain a system that has led to tremendous injustice ... and that has wasted federal resources on a huge scale," said Maria McFarland Sanchez-Moreno, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. "If Sessions thinks that makes sense in terms of prosecutorial priorities, he is in a very bizarre ideological state, or a deeply problematic one."
A task force Sessions convened to study pot policy made no recommendations for upending the legal industry but instead encouraged Justice Department officials to keep reviewing the Obama administration's more hands-off approach to marijuana enforcement, something Sessions promised to do since he took office.
The change also reflects yet another way in which Sessions, who served as a federal prosecutor at the height of the drug war in Mobile, Alabama, has reversed Obama-era criminal justice policies that aimed to ease overcrowding in federal prisons and contributed to a rethinking of how drug criminals were prosecuted and sentenced. While his Democratic predecessor Eric Holder told federal prosecutors to avoid seeking long mandatory minimum sentences when charging certain lower level drug offenders, for example, Sessions issued an order demanding the opposite, telling them to pursue the most serious charges possible against most suspects.
VIDEO - Duty to Warn: Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess the ''Dangerous Case'' of President Trump | Democracy Now!
Thu, 04 Jan 2018 15:58
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
AMY GOODMAN : This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I'm Amy Goodman. We end today's Democracy Now! special by looking at President Trump's mental health and a growing movement among mental health professionals called ''duty to warn.'' Last month, President Trump slurred his speech and mispronounced his words during an address on Israel.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP : Let us rethink old assumptions and open our hearts and minds to possible and possibilities. And finally, I ask the leaders of the region, political and religious, Israeli and Palestinian, Jewish and Christian and Muslim, to join us in the noble quest for lasting peace. Thank you. God bless you. God bless Israel. God bless the Palestinians. And God bless the United States. Thank you very much.
AMY GOODMAN : White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders responded to questions about Trump's slurred speech by announcing he had scheduled a physical health exam.
PRESS SECRETARY SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS : The president's throat was dry. Nothing more than that. He does have a physical scheduled for the first part of next year, the full physical that most presidents go through, that will take place at Walter Reed. And those records will be released by the doctor following that taking place.
AMY GOODMAN : Meanwhile, New York Times' chief White House reporter Maggie Haberman commented on Trump's behavior when she was interviewed on CNN last month.
MAGGIE HABERMAN : Something is unleashed with him lately. I don't know what is causing it. I don't know how to describe it. It may be pressure from'--
ALISYN CAMEROTA : Oh, you see a difference in the past what? Days? Weeks?
MAGGIE HABERMAN : I think the last couple of days' tweets have been'--
MAGGIE HABERMAN : '--markedly accelerated in terms of seeming a little unmoored.
AMY GOODMAN : This all comes as Pentagon leaders told a Senate panel they would ignore any unlawful order by the president to launch a nuclear strike. The testimony came as part of the first congressional hearings in more than 40 years on the president's authority to start a nuclear war.
Well, last month, I sat down with Yale psychiatrist Dr. Bandy Lee to talk with her about President Trump's mental health and the growing movement of mental health experts called ''duty to warn.'' Dr. Bandy Lee is a forensic psychiatrist on the faculty of Yale School of Medicine, an internationally recognized expert on violence. She edited the book The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President. The book became a best-seller when it was published in October. I began by asking her about her concerns about President Trump's mental health.
DR. BANDY LEE : It's actually historically unprecedented that so many mental health professionals have come forth with their concerns, under any president, of any party. So it really is the first time that this many mental health professionals are coming together in a coalition. We even have a website now, DangerousCase.org, where the public and lawmakers can discourse with us. There are thousands of us at this point.
AMY GOODMAN : So talk about'--lay out what your concerns are as a psychiatrist.
DR. BANDY LEE : So, our concerns are that someone with this level of mental instability and impairment has this much power, in the office of the presidency'--basically, the power to start a devastating war, to launch nuclear missiles, without any inhibition. You saw from the hearings that there is very little inhibition in place right now. Within five minutes of the commander-in-chief's orders, nuclear missiles could be launched without question. And'--
AMY GOODMAN : And how does that relate to his mental fitness?
DR. BANDY LEE : And, of course, his decision-making capacity, having such levels of impulsivity, having a loose grip on reality and being so fragile in his ability to cope with ordinary stresses, such as basic criticisms or unflattering news, will tend to unravel, especially in times of heightened stress, such as under the special counsel's investigations.
AMY GOODMAN : Just last week, Tony Schwartz, author of'--well, co-author of Trump's book, The Art of the Deal, told MSNBC's Ari Melber that the president's inner circle is worried about his mental state.
TONY SCHWARTZ : I know that two different people from the White House, or at least saying they were from the White House, and that turned out to be a White House number, have called somebody I know in the last several weeks to say, ''We are deeply concerned about his mental health.'' That's'--
ARI MELBER : Wait a minute. You're saying you have knowledge of people calling from a White House line raising that question. Why would they do that? How do you know that?
TONY SCHWARTZ : I know that because I know the person that they called. And this is a person who I absolutely trust, who has great integrity.
AMY GOODMAN : So, that was Tony Schwartz, who I think ghostwrote the book The Art of the Deal, very close to Trump for a period of time. What are your thoughts about what he said?
DR. BANDY LEE : Well, as you know, he has a chapter in the book, even though he's not counted among the 27 experts. We do have three others who have been included for their special insight, their special experience with Mr. Trump. And we included him because he has special insight into these matters. And I would agree with his assessment. We speak often. We share our observations. And we're both deeply concerned.
AMY GOODMAN : The chapter that Tony Schwartz wrote in your book, ''I wrote The Art of the Deal with Donald Trump. His self-sabotage is rooted in his past.'' Explain his point here.
DR. BANDY LEE : Well, there's actually a lot that's outlined. It's a reprint of an article that he wrote, I believe for The New Yorker. He outlines very much his interactions and experiences with the president. And he describes, most markedly, this emptiness, this'--what he calls a black hole level of self-esteem or self-worth that is missing, whereby he can have all the admiration of the world, all of the successes, and he will'--his thirst will never be quenched, because of that intense need. And that is what we're seeing, over and over.
And what is most concerning for us is that his way of coping with this critical sense of need at every moment, so much, to the point where he cannot think of the past or the future or consequences, his main urgency is to quench the need at the moment. And the way he does this is by burnishing his power, by going to belligerent language or affirming conflicts and others' sense of the world as a threatening place where you have to be violent.
AMY GOODMAN : This is Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina speaking about, well, then-candidate Donald Trump. This was back in 2016.
SEN . LINDSEY GRAHAM : I'm not going to try to get into the mind of Donald Trump, because I don't think there's a whole lot of space there. I think he's a kook. I think he's crazy. I think he's unfit for office.
AMY GOODMAN : So that was Graham in 2016. But Senator Graham sounded different last month, when he spoke to CNN .
SEN . LINDSEY GRAHAM : You know, what concerns me about the American press is this endless, endless attempt to label the guy as some kind of kook, not fit to be president.
AMY GOODMAN : So, that is Senator Graham now. What about what he's saying?
DR. BANDY LEE : I think the laypersons, the public or lawmakers, would be prone to underestimating the dangers of this president, because most people are used to seeing individuals who are healthy. It's only professionals who see those who are impaired, day in and day out. And so, the natural tendency will be to interpret what they're seeing in terms of a normal range, a normal variation of human choices, decision making and behavior. What we are'--what we feel pressed to do is to warn about the situation where someone is not acting within normal range, where one is normalizing what is in fact a malignancy in one's interpretation of reality.
AMY GOODMAN : On Wednesday, the House voted not to impeach President Trump. The vote failed 364 to 58, with all Republicans voting against the measure. The Democratic leadership also came out against the impeachment vote. The measure was introduced by Congressmember Al Green of Houston, who said on the House floor, ''Donald John Trump, by causing such harm to the society of the United States, is unfit to be president and warrants impeachment, trial and removal from office.'' And then, in April, Maryland Congressmember Jamie Raskin introduced a bill that would create a commission to determine if the president is mentally or physically unfit for office. This is Congressman Raskin, also professor of constitutional law, explaining how the bill is based on the 25th Amendment.
REP . JAMIE RASKIN : Section 4 of the 25th Amendment says that the vice president of the United States can act with a majority of the Cabinet to determine that there's a presidential incapacity, or the vice president can act with a majority of any body to be set up'--and Congress never set up the body that's called for in the 25th Amendment. So this is us essentially following through on our constitutional obligation to set up a body in the event of a presidential disability. And that's something that would be determined by the body, but, of course, only with the vice president of the United States. So, we're talking about a body that is nonpartisan, that's independent and that acts with the vice president, who, of course, is reporting directly to the president. So it would be in the most extreme cases where there's a consensus that's developed the president is incapable of discharging the duties of office.
AMY GOODMAN : So, that is Congressman Jamie Raskin. You just came from Capitol Hill, where you're talking to'--
AMY GOODMAN : '--Democratic and Republican congressmembers. What about this?
DR. BANDY LEE : Senator'--or Representative Raskin was one of the members that I got to meet, but, unfortunately, he was called to vote, so we didn't get to talk much. He definitely wishes to follow up. And we, among ourselves, have also been advocating for an expert panel, that would be separate and independent and appointed by the National Academy of Medicine, so, in fact, we could work on figuring out what the solution might be for us to be able to form an independent panel that can give recommendations that he could receive through a commission.
AMY GOODMAN : Let me ask you about this unusual article I just read that's sort of going all over the internet, ''Could Trump's Hair Drug Threaten His Physical and Mental Health?'' And it said'--this is from months ago'--''This week, President Trump's doctor disclosed that the president takes finasteride, a drug marketed as Propecia, to treat male pattern baldness. While it is tempting to make jokes about Trump's hair, and even the sexual side effects that accompany the drug, it also has many disturbing side effects that neither the president'--nor any other man'--should risk.
''In the 19 years since Propecia was approved to treat hair loss from male pattern baldness, side effects have been so concerning that the term post-finasteride syndrome (PFS ) has been coined and hundreds of lawsuits have been brought. In addition to its sexual side effects, the drug's effects on cognition, mood and mental states have been documented in the scientific literature.
''A 2013 study in Journal of Sexual Medicine noted 'changes related to the urogenital system in terms of semen quality and decreased ejaculate volume, reduction in penis size, penile curvature or reduced sensation, fewer spontaneous erections, decreased testicular size, testicular pain, and prostatitis.' [unquote] Many subjects also noted a 'disconnection between the mental and physical aspects of sexual function,' and changes in mental abilities, sleeping patterns, and/or depressive symptoms.''
Do you think this is relevant?
DR. BANDY LEE : Most definitely. Mental function is not separate from physical function, and many medications have profound effects on the mind's capacity. And so, this is one of the reasons why an evaluation would be so critical, because mental impairment can be just as debilitating as physical impairment, and the both are connected. So, to have all the medical records, as well as to be able to get a list of medications and to do a medical exam, would be essential to doing a mental health exam.
AMY GOODMAN : That was Dr. Bandy Lee, on the faculty of the Yale School of Medicine, an internationally recognized expert on violence, a forensic psychiatrist. She edited the book The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President. The book became a best-seller when it was published in October.
VIDEO - Panel on SR. WH Adviser: Voter Fraud Commission "Went Off The Rails". #Breaking #DonaldTrump - YouTube
Thu, 04 Jan 2018 15:33
VIDEO - Trump lashes out as states rebuff voter data request - YouTube
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VIDEO - 9PM Hannity 1/3/18 | Fox News Today January 3, 2018 | Fox Nation - YouTube
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VIDEO - North Korea And South Korea Restore Joint Phone HOTLINE! - YouTube
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VIDEO - Bob Woodward warns against 'smugness' of journalists covering Trump - YouTube
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VIDEO - What The Heck Is MGTOW??? - YouTube
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VIDEO - MSNBC Analyst: Trump's Sexual Insecurity Threatens to "Literally Annihilate the Planet" >> Alex Jones' Infowars: There's a war on for your mind!
Thu, 04 Jan 2018 13:38
News networks exploded with paranoia about President Trump's ''big nuclear button'' tweet, despite North Korea indicating just hours later that it was willing to reduce tensions in the region.
''North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the ''Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times.'' Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!'' tweeted Trump.
The backlash was immediate.
MSNBC analyst Anand Giridharadas reacted by blaming the tweet on Trump's ''profound sexual and masculine insecurities,'' before ludicrously suggesting that Trump was ''literally threatening to annihilate the planet'' and that his ''sad insecurities'' could end the world ''in terms of a habitable planet.''
NBC News national security analyst Jeremy Bash was only slightly less alarmist, asserting that Trump's ''juvenile and immature'' tweets would provoke Kim Jong-un to ''lash out''.
''This is a tweet that could lead to confrontation and maybe even war,'' he blustered.
CNN's Brian Stelter said the tweet was evidence that Trump was mentally unstable.
''What would we say if the leader of Germany or China or Brazil posted tweets like Trump's? How would we cover it? We'd say: That person is not well. We'd wonder whether that person is fit to hold office,'' he told Anderson Cooper.
However, within hours of Trump's supposedly reckless tweet, North Korea softened its rhetoric and resumed communications with South Korea for the first time in nearly 2 years, suggesting that if anything, Trump's tweet contributed to reducing tensions.
The Associated Press said the talks were, ''Another sign of easing animosity between the rivals.''
The media establishment appears to be terrified of Trump insulting Kim Jong-un, which is a pathetically weak stance to take given the horrors his regime continues to perpetrate against its own people.
Why is the establishment so concerned about offending a loathsome dictator?
Would the MSM be as aghast at Trump for insulting other world leaders if the jibes were aimed as Bashar Al-Assad or anyone else the deep state wants to remove from power?
They applauded Trump for launching an attack on Syria, yet accuse him of risking nuclear war over a tweet.
Also, why does the media panic over Trump's tweets starting a nuclear war with North Korea while simultaneously lobbying for the United States to be hostile towards Russia, the biggest nuclear armed power on the planet?
The same media outraged about Trump's tweets risking nuclear war backed a candidate (Hillary Clinton) who publicly said she would militarily attack Russia, the biggest nuclear armed power on the planet, if they were suspected of cyber attacking the U.S.
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Paul Joseph Watson is the editor at large of Infowars.com and Prison Planet.com.
VIDEO - Bill Kristol Erupts In Anger After Being Reminded Of His Wish To Bomb Iran - YouTube
Thu, 04 Jan 2018 13:17
VIDEO - Mind Over Matter Is Real: Experiments Reveal! - YouTube
Thu, 04 Jan 2018 13:02
VIDEO - Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu Says Israel is Not Behind Iranian Protests - YouTube
Thu, 04 Jan 2018 12:58
VIDEO - VOA Interview: Vice President Mike Pence Discusses Iran, North Korea
Thu, 04 Jan 2018 12:23
WASHINGTON '-- Vice President Mike Pence was interviewed by VOA contributor Greta Van Susteren Wednesday.
Greta Van Susteren: Mr. Vice President, good to see you sir.
Vice President Mike Pence: Good to see you, Greta. Thank you.
WATCH: Full interview of Vice President Mike Pence
Q: Much is going on in Iran, and I realize it is a very tough situation, situation very fragile over there. What is the United States going to do, if anything? I know that there's been a tweet and verbal statements in support, but what about doing?
Pence: Well it's important to remember that first and foremost that Iran is the leading state sponsor of terrorism in the world. Not only do they oppress their own people, deny human rights to their own, but they also export terrorists across the region, and continue to be an enormously dangerous destabilizing force. And so to see the people of Iran rising up to demand change in their country should hearten every freedom-loving American and people who cherish freedom around the world, and I have to tell you, that the contrast today between the deafening silence from an American president in 2009 during the Green revolution in Iran and the clear. ...
Q: He waited, he waited, he waited a few days, but then he spoke up.
Pence: Well, but the clear affirmation and support that President (Donald) Trump has provided to protesters rising up in cities across Iran is dramatic and I think it's very consistent with America's role in the world as a leading champion of freedom.
Q: In terms of support though, there's verbal support and there was admittedly President (Barack) Obama's few days late back in '09 ...
Pence: It wasn't just a few days late, because I was there. I was a member of the Congress, you recall I served on the Foreign Affairs Committee in the House of Representatives, and I remember back in 2009, seeing this largely youth-driven movement following a fraudulent election in Iran, people taking to the streets, demonstrating incredible courage that the people of Iran did to claim a democratic and free future. And we looked to the White House in those days in 2009, we looked for American leadership, and there was none. There was deafening silence from the Obama administration. So as a member of Congress, I authored a resolution with a Democratic congressman by the name of Howard Berman who was at the time Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee. We introduced the resolution, it passed almost unanimously in the House of Representatives, then Senator (John) McCain and Senator (Joe) Lieberman introduced it in the Senate where it passed unanimously, and then and only then did we hear from President Obama and the Obama administration. The contrast between the silence and the failure to support freedom in the last administration and President Trump's unapologetic willingness to stand with the courageous people of Iran. I know it is giving hope to the people on the streets of those cities across that country and we're going to continue to support them in not just verbally, but as they bring about change in their country, I can assure you the United States and the wider world stands with the people of Iran who want a better and more prosperous and freer future.
Q: In 1956-ish, the same thing happened in Hungary where the people rose up, and there was verbal support. We've had it with the Kurds with President (George H.W.) Bush '41,' we had the Green Movement, which the Congress, as you say, had supported a unanim(ous) ... different on how fast President Obama responded, but is when you support them verbally, it has not had necessarily the intended consequences. This is a chance where the United States has supported them verbally, is there something more that the United States intends to actually do to support them as they take to the streets?
Pence: There is an extraordinary amount that the United States and countries around the world can do for the people of Iran if they will continue to stand up for their own freedom and to stand up for change and to reject the radical ideology that overtook their country decades ago and continues to beset the wider world through the export of terrorism from Iran. Look, the last administration not only was silent when the good and courageous people of Iran were rising up for democracy but they also pushed forward and embraced the disastrous Iran Nuclear Deal that President Trump refused to recertify and we're continuing to provide leadership on. You know the hope of the Iran nuclear deal is that it would encourage a more moderate Iran, but we've seen nothing of the kind. But to see people taking to the streets again in Iran and to now have an American president who's willing in that great American tradition to affirm and to say to the people, we're with you, we support you, we're prepared to help you achieve that freer, more prosperous future. I think it represents a genuine opportunity and if I had one hope today it's that just as the dissidence in the old Soviet Union heard of (President) Ronald Reagan's evil empire speech and were encouraged to know they were not alone. My hope is that the people who are taking in the streets in Iran know that under President Donald Trump they are not alone, that the American people stand with them and if they will just continue to show the courage of their convictions and reach out and embrace a free and democratic future that America and the world will be with them.
Q: The way the president has done it so far is by Twitter and the Iranian authorities ... the government has shut down Twitter, Telegram, Facebook and Instagram so social media into Iran is not reaching everyone. I realize that this interview will reach into Iran because Voice of America does reach there and so the president may not be reaching them, the second thing is I suspect that many people in Iran are a little bit distressed with the president's immigration and terms of banning people from Iran from coming here, the United States so I don't know how receptive the people are in Iran unless he reaches out more to them.
Pence: Well, the repression by the regime, by the ayatollahs in Iran is not surprising. They continue to be a nation that denies basic human rights to their people and to be shutting down communication means and social media is no real surprise.
Q: If it's done by Twitter, is there another vehicle that the president has other than I mean you're speaking here today, is there another vehicle that the president intends to use. Senator Lindsey Graham suggested he address the nation for instance on this issue, our nation on it.
Pence: I think the president again spoke out on social media this morning, directly to the people of Iran.
Q: But they don't have social media, that's the problem.
Pence: I can assure you that whether it's the president, whether it is myself, whether it's our secretary of state or (United Nations) Ambassador Nikki Haley, we're going to continue to send, different from nine years ago, we're going to continue to send from the very outset of this effort on the streets of Iran an unambiguous message that the American people stand with freedom loving people in Iran and around the world and I think this is a very hopeful moment and my goal ... really my prayer is that the people of Iran a youthful population, a well-educated population, understand that the United States of America, the people of this country, are their natural ally. We want to see them achieve a free and democratic future. We want to see them step away from a regime that continues to menace the world to threaten the world and threaten to develop nuclear weapons.
Q: What can the people expect in this if the president doesn't recertify the deal? Now, the people of Iran thought with the deal, that all the money that was going to be unfrozen would go toward ... would go with them and would revitalize their economy. That hasn't happened, what has provoked, in part, these protests. What happens without the deal being recertified? What do you see happening to the people in Iran?
Pence: Well, the president made it clear that we are not recertifying.
Q: So, what happens to the people in Iran?
Pence: But there are other decisions that have to be made, to your point, Greta. Whether or not we'll continue to waive sanctions and the president is actively considering that decision that needs to be made by the middle of this month.
Q: Do you think that will help? The sanctions? Because sometimes it works. I'm not opposed to sanctions. I want sanctions in Myanmar, you know? So, I mean I'm not opposed to sanctions. But will sanctions, upping the sanctions in Iran will that harm the people who are protesting on the streets or is it helpful?
Pence: We believe that the sanctions (are) working. They are not just working in Iran, we believe they are working in North Korea and this president and this administration are absolutely committed to continue to bring the full economic weight of the United States and these economic sanctions to bear on Iran. Now, we're also working with the Congress to arrive at a new agreement, a new set of conditions for sanctions going forward. The reality is the Iran nuclear deal was so ill-founded because in part it not only did it not deny that Iran could develop a nuclear weapon. By it only being a 10-year agreement, it virtually guaranteed that they would develop a nuclear weapon after that 10-year period in time. What we want is to have a long-term agreement in place, a long-term legislation in place that it says that if at any time Iran attempts to obtain a usable nuclear weapon and the ballistic missiles to be able to deliver it, that all sanctions would be re-imposed immediately. But all of those decisions going forward, but I think, as you see what's happening on the streets of Iran, you have to believe that the sanctions are in place today and additional pressure we can bring to bear is having an effect on the nations, its having an effect on the economy, its emboldening the people of Iran to be able to have the courage to step forward.
Q: You brought up North Korea in my last question, is the president '' the president has tweeted that he has a bigger button than Kim Jong Un. Is he playing with fire with Kim Jong Un in tweeting him this way '' in a Twitter war back and forth?
Pence: President Trump has provided the kind of clear leadership on the world's stage that's made measurable progress particularly with regard to North Korea. And the message the president sends, in the wake of (North Korean leader) Kim Jong Un's New Year's message where, while on the one hand, he talked about wanting to reach out to his neighbors to the south, at the same moment he spoke of having missiles that could reach the United States, having a button on his desk. President Trump made it clear, America will not be bullied, America will not be threatened, and that the United States of America has, and by being clear, managed to marshal an unprecedented amount of economic and diplomatic pressure on North Korea. And after decades of North Korea stalling and ignoring the world community, and continuing to develop nuclear and ballistic missiles, we're now literally beginning to see some movement among nations in the region, China is... .
Q: You're not worried?
Pence: China is doing more than ever before, China needs to do more, but they're doing more than ever before to isolate North Korea economically and diplomatically and I truly do believe that making it clear that all options are on the table, that the president has done, making it clear that the United States of America has the capacity to defend our people far beyond anything North Korea could imagine, but also making it clear that if North Korea will abandon their nuclear and ballistic and missile ambitions, if they dismantle those programs, there's an opportunity for a peaceable solution.
Q: Mr. Vice President, nice to see you. Thank you, sir.
Pence: Great to see you, Greta. Thank you.
VIDEO - Trump dissolves voter fraud panel
Thu, 04 Jan 2018 03:42
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VIDEO - Trump Jr. And Newt Gingrich Unleash On "Backstabbing, Harassing, Leaking, Lying, Opportunist" Bannon | Zero Hedge
Thu, 04 Jan 2018 03:29
In the course of less than a day, former Trump strategist Steve Bannon has gone from simply "former Trump strategist" to "radioactive backstabber," after The Guardian reported that Bannon, in Michael Wolff's new book "Fire and Fury, called a June 2016 meeting at Trump tower involving Russian attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya "treasonous" and "unpatriotic."
"Even if you thought that this was not treasonous, or unpatriotic, or bad shit, and I happen to think it's all of that, you should have called the FBI immediately."
In response, President Trump issued a four-paragraph scorching reply, saying Bannon had "lost his mind." Donald Trump Jr. also responded, calling his father's former chief strategist "backstabbing, harassing, leaking, lying & undermining the President," adding "Steve is not a strategist, he is an opportunist."
Steve had the honor of working in the White House & serving the country. Unfortunately, he squandered that privilege & turned that opportunity into a nightmare of backstabbing, harassing, leaking, lying & undermining the President. Steve is not a strategist, he is an opportunist
'-- Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) January 3, 2018
Newt Gingrich chimed in on Fox News, telling Neil Cavuto, "I think that Bannon thinks he's extraordinarily important. But the fact is, Trump had won the nomination without Bannon. Trump would have won the presidency without Bannon. And Trump has governed without Bannon."
So I think there's an exaggerated sense of who Steve is. And I think, remember, this is a guy who got fired. So you have a guy who has been fired who is trying to claim a bunch of things, which he apparently did not claim at the time.
And I think you have to just say, you know, it's noise. It has nothing to do with -- the things that matter to America and the things that matter to the American people have no relationship to the kind of noise that we're going to spend all day today with.
And luckily for the president, he's really come to distinguish between the things that matter and the things that don't. The meeting this weekend at Camp David matters with the Republican leadership. Steve Bannon saying a bunch of junk doesn't really matter in the long run. It will disappear. -Newt Gingrich
Trump Jr. also replied to a tweet by conservative pundit Bill Mitchell, which quotes a portion of Bannon's book, reading:
"On Election Night, when the unexpected trend , Trump might actually win, seemed confirmed, Don Jr. told a friend that his father, or DJT, as he calls him, looked as if he had seen a ghost. Melania was in tears'--and not of joy."
Trump Jr. responded: "Another good one. Anyone who knows me or follows me knows that's about as far from something I would say or how I speak as possible... What a joke."
Another good one. Anyone who knows me or follows me knows that's about as far from something I would say or how I speak as possible... What a joke.🂠https://t.co/4L9rYK8W56
'-- Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) January 3, 2018And earlier in the day, Trump Jr. tweeted "Andrew Breitbart would be ashamed of the division and lies Steve Bannon is spreading!," after tweeting "Wow, just looked at the comments section on Breitbart. Wow. When Bannon has lost Breitbart, he's left with . . . umm, nothing."
Andrew Breitbart would be ashamed of the division and lies Steve Bannon is spreading!
'-- Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) January 3, 2018Wow, Just looked at the comments section on Breitbart. Wow. When Bannon has lost Breitbart, he's left with . . . umm, nothing.
'-- Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) January 3, 2018Trump Jr. also poked fun at Bannon's support of Roy Moore, who lost the special election last month to replace Attorney General Jeff Sessions' vacant Senate seat.
Thanks Steve. Keep up the great work. https://t.co/J9O8CUfJAD
'-- Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) January 3, 2018Several other tweets received Trump Jr. retweets throughout the day, including:
"Mr. Bannon, the WSJ got an advance copy of that book..." pic.twitter.com/mDvg6h2Qy6
'-- Kurt Schlichter (@KurtSchlichter) January 3, 2018There is no side to choose. There is no dilemma here. @realDonaldTrump and @DonaldJTrumpJr are patriotic class acts who have the best interests of this nation at heart.
Steve Bannon has Steve Bannon's best interests at heart.
Nothing I despise more than jealous disloyalty.
'-- John Cardillo (@johncardillo) January 3, 2018So, someone tell me how the ejecting of Bannon will hurt the movement?
It won't hurt the movement no matter what Senator Roy Moore says. pic.twitter.com/GAGJfgNr4Y
'-- Kurt Schlichter (@KurtSchlichter) January 3, 2018And now, it appears as though Bannon may have lost any hope of cobbling together political capital. As US News reports;
Despite his blatant miscalculation and the animosity he stirred among traditional Republicans, Bannon's enduring influence was that he purportedly had a direct line to Trump '' the White House confirmed they spoke by phone last month '' and could help mold the president's thoughts on policy and political strategy.
Now, that line appears lacerated.
"Now that he is on his own, Steve is learning that winning isn't as easy as I make it look," Trump said in the statement. "Steve doesn't represent my base '' he's only in it for himself."
The extraordinary breakup between the two larger-than-life comrades led to immediate fallout across the Republican Party.GOP leadership rejoiced at Bannon's fall from grace, with allies of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell reveling in and sharing the president's takedown.
Bannon's split from the Trumps puts wealthy GOP donor Robert Mercer and his daughter, Rebekah Mercer in an awkward spot - as the financier have financially supported Breitbart, while also supporting President Trump and his GOP causes. Mercer announced in November that he was selling his stake in his company to his daughters - while at the time, making it clear that while he occasionally discusses politics with Bannon, he's not always aligned with him.
And as Trump Jr. said earlier today - when Bannon has lost Breitbart, "he's left with ... ummm, nothing."
In September, Bannon appeared on 60 minutes where heb called himself a "street fighter" and "declared war on the GOP" for trying to "nullify the election." Bannon also said that the Trump administration made the "original sin" of embracing the establishment. "I mean, we totally embraced the establishment ... Because ya had to staff a government."
Bannon also said he was going to be Trump's "wing man outside for the entire time, to protect [Trump] and to "make sure his enemies know that there's no free shot on goal."
Well - it looks like Bannon just took a shot on his own goal, and will be cast into radioactive irrelevancy for time immemorial.
VIDEO - 'Bombogenesis' takes aim at U.S. Northeast as snow sweeps South | Article [AMP] | Reuters
Wed, 03 Jan 2018 23:18
Wed Jan 3, 2018 / 6:11 PM EST
Harriet McLeod and Scott Malone
CHARLESTON, S.C./BOSTON (Reuters) - A rare winter storm hit the U.S. Southeast on Wednesday, bringing Florida's capital its first snow in three decades and snarling travel, while New England braced for a "bombogenesis" blizzard forecast to bring heavy accumulations on Thursday.
The governors of Florida, Georgia, Virginia and North Carolina declared states of emergency, warning residents to expect icy roads and unseasonable freezing temperatures. In the northeast, work crews loaded trucks with road salt in advance of the storm.
Much of the eastern United States is in the grips of a sustained cold spell that has frozen parts of Niagara Falls on the American and Canadian sides, played havoc with public works causing pipes to freeze and water mains to burst, and impeded firefighting in places where temperatures barely broke 20 degrees Fahrenheit.
The cold has been blamed for at least nine deaths over the past few days, including two homeless people in Houston. Police in Roseville, Michigan, said on Wednesday that a 96-year-old woman, recently diagnosed with dementia, was found dead in a playground, apparently having frozen to death after wandering outside in a robe and slippers.
The U.S. National Weather Service had blizzard warnings in effect from Virginia to Maine, with areas around Boston expected to see about a foot (30 cm) of snow on Thursday.
Forecasters warned that snow would fall quickly during the day, at a rate of several inches per hour, with the storm intensified by the "bombogenesis" effect, according to private forecaster Accuweather.
The "bombogenesis" effect, also known as a "bomb cyclone," occurs when a storm's barometric pressure drops by 24 millibars in 24 hours, greatly strengthening the storm.
The effect is seen along the northeastern coast every winter, but this storm will be particularly powerful, said Judah Cohen, a visiting scientist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
"This one is unique in how quickly the pressure is going to fall," Cohen said. "The pressures could rival a Category 1 or Category 2 hurricane."
An arctic air mass will remain entrenched over the eastern two-thirds of the United States through the end of the week.
At a press conference, South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster warned people in the eastern part of the state to stay indoors if possible and to keep pets indoors.
"If they can't get in the heat, they'll freeze to death, and they'll be gone," McMaster said. "And the same thing will happen to people. So you have to be careful about that."
In historic Charleston, South Carolina, the winter storm shuttered carriage horse tour companies after a horse slipped and fell on ice during a tour on Tuesday, city spokesman Jack O'Toole said.
The wintry mix and low wind chills caused widespread power outages and icy roads, making commuting treacherous for millions of Americans from northern Florida to southern Virginia, the National Weather Service said.
The storm was starting to snarl air travel in the southern United States, with about fifty percent of flights canceled at airports in South Carolina's Charleston and Myrtle Beach and Savannah, Georgia, according to the FlightAware tracking service.
Two to 3 inches (5-8 cm) of snow were expected in northeastern Florida, coastal Georgia and South Carolina, weather service meteorologist Bob Oravec said. The weather service said its Tallahassee office had measured a snow and sleet accumulation of 0.1 inch (2.5 mm) on its roof, the first time Florida's capital has had snow since 1989.
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh ordered schools closed on Thursday, warning city residents that the peak of the storm would occur during the day, making travel extremely dangerous.
"Both rush hours will be affected," Walsh told a news conference. "Be patient. With the amount of snow we're getting here, we could be plowing your street and a half hour later it could look like we haven't been there."
(Additional reporting by Suzannah Gonzales in Chicago, Bernie Woodall in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee and Gina Cherelus in New York; Editing by Jonathan Oatis, Toni Reinhold)
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VIDEO - 11 Spooky Times The Simpsons Predicted The Future - NME
Wed, 03 Jan 2018 23:17
They've done it again. The folks behind The Simpsons are basically fortune tellers. This week, it was announced that Disney had agreed a deal to buy a large chunk of 21st Century Fox '' something The Simpsons prophesied in an episode nearly 20 years ago. Check it out in the video below '' but such prophecies are a regular fixture on The Simpsons, it turns out. Here's some of their most surreal gags to have come true in real life so far across its 26-year lifespan '' ranked in order of craziness'...
13. Europe trying to get rid of Greece
The financial crisis in Greece rumbled on in 2015, hogging headlines for weeks, but the long-running US show saw things going awry there years before: just witness this small, subtle gag in 2013 episode 'Politically Inept, With Homer Simpson'. As Springfield's most loveable buffoon is being interviewed on TV, a news ticker flashes on the screen below with the headline: ''Europe puts Greece on eBay.''
Uncanny stuff.
12. The Rolling Stones to keep on rocking into old age
In the 1996 episode 'Lisa's Wedding', set in the future, her fiancee has a poster in her room claiming that The Rolling Stones will still be on tour in 2010 on ''The Steel Wheelchair Tour.'' The same episode, by the way, sees characters communicate via snazzy electronic watches. Wherever might Apple have got their idea from'...
11. Three-eyed fish
In a 1990 episode, Bart catches a mutated, three-eyed fish in the local river '' a nod to the pollutant effects of the town's nuclear power plant. Over 20 years later, in 2011, a real-life fish '' and practically a dead-ringer for its cartoon counterpart '' was discovered in an Argentinian reservoir located near a nuclear facility.
10. Grease theft
One 1998 episode centred around Homer and Bart's racket reselling cooking oil '' a crime that seems daft on the surface, but was reported as becoming a real life crime caper some 10 years later.
9. Tigers fighting back
In 1993, they lampooned magicians Siegfried and Roy in a set-piece that saw them mauled by their co-star tiger, only for it to happen for real in 2003. Definitely the most tragic of the Simpsons' gags-turned-prophecies.
8. Rigged voting machines
Their 2008 gag about rigged voting machines which counted votes for the Republican party even when citizens chose Obama seemed spookily dead-on when several people complained about the exact same problem in the 2012 election.
7. Giant mutated tomatoes
Remember the giant addictive vegetables spawned on the family's adopted farm in 1999 episode 'E-I-E-I-(Annoyed Grunt)' when Homer poisons his crops with tobacco? Yep, that too, has since happened in real life, with giant deformed tomatoes popping up around a nuclear plant in Japan.
6. Robotic librarians
Another highlight from 'Lisa's Wedding', here, as Lisa's college librarian turns out to be an android (and one who violently bursts into flames, too). There haven't been any blown circuit board disasters in Chicago yet but, in 2011, it was announced that the city's new Joe and Rika Mansueto Library would have robotic librarians who'd helpfully retrieve books for you.
5. The 2013 horse meat scandal
In 1994, Springfield Elementary school was hiding a shady secret: the secret ingredient in its cafeteria dinners was horse meat. Sound familiar? Of course it does: nearly 20 years later, it turned out loads of us were scoffing equine-based burgers without even realising it. Which leads us nicely to'...
VIDEO - Delta flight from Atlanta to London forced to turn around twice - ABC News
Wed, 03 Jan 2018 19:19
A Delta flight from Atlanta to London was turned around twice overnight Wednesday, according to the airline.
Interested in Airlines? Add Airlines as an interest to stay up to date on the latest Airlines news, video, and analysis from ABC News. Delta flight 284 took off from Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta shortly after 7 p.m. Tuesday, but was turned around after pilots heard a mysterious noise coming from the plane, the airlinetold ABC affiliate WSB.
The plane, which was flying over North Carolina at the time of the diversion, landed back in Atlanta just before 9:30 p.m., according to airline tracking firm FlightAware.
A Delta representative told WSB that the passengers would be placed on another flight, which took off at around 12:11 a.m., but that flight was also turned around, according to FlightAware data.
It landed back in Atlanta at 1:30 a.m., FlightAware said.
A Delta spokeswoman told ABC News that the flight returned due to a banging noise both times, even though the aircraft was changed after the first flight had to turn around.
Gareth Hawkins, a passenger on flight 284, said that on both flights a loud banging noise could be heard approximately every 20 minutes.
Delta said they put passengers up in a hotel room after the flight turned around the second time and have scheduled them for a new departure on Wednesday evening.
VIDEO - Clinton 1996 immigration SOTU | User Clip | C-SPAN.org
Wed, 03 Jan 2018 01:48
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VIDEO - CNN's Acosta: 'Journalists Make Honest Mistakes' - They Don't 'Intentionally Mislead' - Breitbart
Mon, 01 Jan 2018 16:14
On Tuesday's ''Hugh Hewitt Show,'' CNN Senior White House Correspondent Jim Acosta commented on his exchange with White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Monday by stating, ''Journalists make honest mistakes. They don't go out and intentionally mislead people.''
Acosta said of the exchange, ''Sarah Huckabee Sanders is going off on reporters, who she is accusing of intentionally misleading the American people, when this president, as you know, time and again, Hugh, has repeatedly misled the American people. Journalists make honest mistakes. They don't go out and intentionally mislead people. That's not what we do. And yet, here you have the White House press secretary from the podium accusing us of doing just that. And so you know, Hugh, my job as a reporter, my job as the senior White House correspondent for CNN, is to report the news, but also to highlight and put a microscope on episodes of presidential hypocrisy.''
Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett
VIDEO - New state laws for 2018, from marijuana to voter ID
Mon, 01 Jan 2018 01:45
(CNN) Goodbye, 2017. Get ready for hundreds of new state laws that go into effect on the first day of 2018. Here's a look at some of them:
Voter ID lawsIowa voters will be asked to show their IDs at the polls. Republicans say the law will help prevent voter fraud. In 2018, anyone who doesn't have ID will have to sign an oath verifying they are who they say they are, and will be allowed to cast a ballot. But starting in 2019, voters will be required to show their ID and those who don't have one of the accepted forms, will be offered a provisional ballot. West Virginia also requires voters at any election to show valid ID at the poll. The state permits both non-photo and photo IDs.
What you earn and your workplaceIn California, employers can no longer ask about your prior salary. Job applicants can volunteer that information, if they wish. The new state law prohibits employers from relying on your salary history to decide whether to make you a job offer or decide how much to offer. And job applicants can request the pay scale for a position. The law is intended to narrow the gender pay gap.A new Nevada law requires employers to grant up to 160 hours of leave per year to employees who are victims of domestic violence or have family members who are victims.Employers in Vermont can't request or require employees to provide their social media content. The act is meant to provide social media privacy for employees.Policing the policeCalifornia and local law enforcement agencies will not be able to use its resources, such as its funds or personnel to investigate, detain or arrest people for immigration enforcement purposes. Unofficially called a "sanctuary state" bill, supporters, including California Gov. Jerry Brown says that it "prohibits the commandeering of local officials to do the work of immigration agents." But critics say it limits cooperation between federal agencies and local law enforcement. Police officers in New Jersey who handle sexual assault investigations are required to get training. The goal is for officers to avoid further traumatizing survivors who are reporting sexual assault. North Carolina's driver's handbook will give instructions on how to deal with police during a traffic stop. The new law comes after people have died during traffic stops. The state law requires advice including what actions that drivers should take, to be included to the driver's handbook
Family and divorceNew York will permit employees to take up to eight weeks of paid family leave. This is for bonding with a newborn, adopted or foster child, caring for a family member who is ill, or helping with a family member who is deployed on military service. Who gets the dog in a divorce? In Illinois, pets will be treated more like kids than property in splits. Pets could be subject to partial or joint custody after their owners divorce. The law only applies to "companion animals" -- not service animals.
SchoolsSchool buses in Tennessee will have more oversight following a deadly crash in Chattanooga that killed six children in 2016. The law requires local school agencies to have transportation supervisors. New school bus drivers must complete a training program and must be at least 25 years old. Illinois requires school districts to make feminine hygiene products free to students. Tampons or pads must be available in school bathrooms with students from grade 6 through 12. California passed a similar measure that applies to schools with low-income students. Colleges in Tennessee cannot "stifle freedom of speech and expression" by issuing speech codes, establishing free speech zones or disinviting speakers based on opposition by others to the content of their speech, according to the Campus Free Speech Protection Act.
Let there be potCalifornia becomes the latest state to legalize recreational marijuana. As long as you're over the age of 21, you can buy pot without a medical card thanks to Proposition 64, which voters approved in 2016. But marijuana may not be available right on January 1 as businesses have to apply for a state license to begin selling recreational marijuana. People who grow marijuana in Colorado are limited to 12 plants at home. Those who have medical conditions are allowed up 24 plants. Local governments can pass even stricter limits. The cap on marijuana plants is intended to prevent pot from Colorado getting sold illegally in other states.
Mainstreaming of marijuana is about to get a huge boost
OthersAugust 4 is now Barack Obama Day, a state holiday in Illinois. But it's a commemorative holiday, meaning you won't be getting off work or school.Barbers can now make house calls in Tennessee. Before, they could only go to homes of customers who were ill. Now barbers with residential certificates can cut hair in anyone's home regardless of their clients' health.Corn is the official grain of Illinois.Public officers, such as elected officials and managers, who are convicted of a felony that is relevant to their jobs, can have their pensions revoked or reduced. This was voted by New Yorkers in a November ballot proposal.
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