Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny are mythological creatures many of us believe in as children. We think of them as real and our parents encourage this belief. At some point, someone busts the bubble and a child might approach a parent: ''Is it true there's no such thing as (choose one: Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, or the Easter Bunny)?''
This creates a dilemma for the parent. Should the parent come clean? How will the child feel on learning the truth? How will the parent feel to watch the child wrestling with the death of strong-held childhood beliefs?
These questions lead to more questions: Is the belief in mythological characters like Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny beneficial to children? Does it harm a child to be misled by his own parents, even if the misleading information was meant kindly? Should parents continue or discontinue this practice?
Parenting coach Barbara Harvey doesn't think that the focus on these mythical creatures is all bad, but she does think the practice of encouraging belief in make-believe figures sets children up for disappointment and disillusionment. ''I encourage parents to tell their children about the origins of these fictional characters and to talk about how the stories have become bigger than life. Then it becomes fun to examine: 'Okay, what's going down with the Easter Bunny at Easter? Let's look around and see how the Easter Bunny has become bigger than life.'
Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny: The Magic''This way kids still get to enjoy the magic and the wonder of these characters without having to believe that they actually exist,'' says Harvey, who is the executive director of Parents, Teachers, and Advocates, a parent development group in Atlanta, GA.
Teaching kids to believe in these creatures is, on the other hand, teaching them lies. What happens to the trust a child has in a parent when the lie is discovered? Wouldn't it be only natural for a child to feel betrayed on learning the truth? Is it worse when the child hears the truth from a friend, and discovers his own parents have lied to him?
And what about the child who tells the friend that his mother told him that Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny are real creatures, and his mother never lies'--only to discover that his mother has, indeed, lied.
And what is the effect of all this when you've never lied to your child about anything except for the ''lies'' about Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny?
Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny: Benign Practice?Do these questions show us that the subject of mythological creatures is more complicated that anyone might have supposed? Or is this just a lot of fuss and bother over the perpetuation of a belief in make-believe characters'--something most of us think of as a benign practice, harmless. Part of childhood.
But is it? Must it be this way?
Well, according to Dr. Fran Walfish, author of The Self-Aware Parent, the answer is both yes and no. ''Parents should never lie to their children about anything. However, when it comes to myths like Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy, many parents want to carry on the tradition of fun by nurturing a gentle belief in these myths when their kids are young.
''Usually, by age 7 or 8 years, most children wonder out loud and ask their Mommy or Daddy if Santa is real. It's up to the parent at that point to respond honestly and openly by saying, 'When I was a child, my parents thought it was a fun part of Christmas to teach us about the myth of Santa Claus. I loved it so much that I decided to share those teachings with my children. It's up to you to decide whether you want to carry on this family tradition or do Christmas in your own special way,''' says Walfish, who serves as a regular expert on The Doctors, on CBS TV, in her capacity as a child psychologist.
Despite the advice of experts like Harvey and Walfish, there isn't much science to guide us in understanding what we should do as parents going forward. The research tells us that most kids figure out the truth by age 7 or 8. The kids generally have a positive reaction to learning these characters aren't real. It is the parents who report feeling sad when their children stop believing in Santa Claus.
Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny: Part of the ProcessIn spite of this scientific evidence that kids aren't sad or damaged by the truth, at least one expert disagrees, believing sadness and disappointment to be part of the process. ''When your child learns that there is no Santa Claus or Easter bunny, it is certainly sad for him or her and as parents, we need to be sure to validate their disappointment,'' says Child and Adult Therapist Courtney Rodrigue. Rodrigue suggests that children, on learning the truth, be enlisted to keep the secret from others, ''It is also helpful to tell your child that now he/she knows there is no Santa Claus (or Easter Bunny or Tooth Fairy) you need their help to keep this special secret so their younger siblings or cousins can enjoy the magic of believing. Parents should emphasize that although there is no magic man in a red suit, this doesn't mean there is no magic to the holiday spirit,'' says Rodrigue.
Interestingly, one stand-out scientific finding is that Jewish children are less likely to believe in Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy than Christian children, even when their parents encourage such belief. What makes Jewish children impervious to the hype? Could it be the emphasis of the Jewish religion on Old Testament beliefs? The Ten Commandments?
Perhaps. Child Psychiatrist and author of Raising Kids with Character, Dr. Elizabeth Berger, however, thinks children should be directed to share the beliefs of their peers, whatever these might be. Berger reminds concerned parents that, ''Adjusting the nature of reality to the child's developmental level is one of the main missions of parenthood. This involves adjusting the nature of reality for one's child to the social reality of the community in which the parent has chosen to raise the child.
''In practical terms, this means editing the brutal truth about many matters so that the mind of a small child''a toddler or 6-year-old''can understand them. All parents do this, in order to spare small children overwhelming experiences which are part of an adult reality''terrible things on the news or painful events among one's friends, neighbors, or family. We do a great deal to 'spare' our small children many realities and this effort is in their best interest.
Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny: Joyful Magic?''Likewise, it is not harmful to encourage a small amount of joyful magic in a child's experience, such as belief in imaginary creatures who single out the child for special events such as the Tooth Fairy. In our communities today, many children share these fantasy beliefs as part of special times. Encouraging your child to burst these innocent balloons which are enjoyed by other kids on the playground does not help the child get along with others in a comfortable way. It sets your child up as a nay-sayer and kill-joy,'' says Berger.
That doesn't mean that parents shouldn't prepare a child to realize the truth, which according to Berger is an inevitable part of growing up. ''It is important that parents are empathic in easing along the transition to realistic thinking which most children do naturally as part of their growing intellectual depth and their awareness of peer attitudes. Few ten-years-olds believe in the Tooth Fairy, regardless of what parents do or say. Once a child wants to penetrate the fantasy and confront the parent with the truth, it is a good idea to congratulate the child on this insight and to validate the development of more complex understanding. You can always explain that these silly beliefs are for littler kids, and commend the child on his or her maturity,'' says Berger.
Experts urge us to be empathetic to children who have just found out the truth about Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny. Isn't it odd then that research describes children as having a positive response to finding out their parents have been lying to them their entire lives? It seems children see discovering the truth as a rite of passage. It means they've crossed the line and become big boys and girls, and are little babies no longer. They now know something small children don't know. It makes them superior in their own eyes, more grown up, more knowledgeable.
Why are the parents sad when their children learn the truth? There's something about the fantasy world of small children that is beautiful and moving, compared to the harshness of everyday reality. We like the idea that babies live in a sweet, pink world, where everything is soft and friendly. Growing up also means a loss of closeness to our children in some ways, because they no longer need to depend upon us'--their parents'--in quite the same way. They don't need us.
That is bittersweet.
Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny: BetrayalNot all of us are sad when our children begin to figure it out. David Gerecht was proud as punch when his six-year-old asked him what the Tooth Fairy does with all those teeth. Children, meanwhile, aren't always happy to be clued in. ''I remember getting totally upset at age 6 when I realized that the Tooth Mice (in my family it was Mice) were an invention of my parents,'' says the now middle-aged Miriam Kresh.
Do some parents find other ways to mark milestone events such as losing teeth? Shira Daniel says her husband, a dentist, told the kids that an angel gives the teeth away to new children. But even this attempt was foiled by discovery. ''I think they bought it but at one point knew it was their father,'' says Daniel.
The father in-law of Chana Roberts called himself the Tooth Fairy's ''agent.'' ''Kids gave him their teeth and he gave them money. [My own children] don't have a Tooth Fairy. I just said I want to put the first teeth with the first pair of shoes, because sometimes mommies like to do that kind of thing,'' says Roberts.
Some parents feel that it is the function of a child's mind to fantasize, with or without our input. We don't need to tell them about Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny in order for them to invent their own fantastical worlds and the creatures that inhabit them. They dream this way despite us.
Such parents may point to children at play as illustrating this idea. They are endlessly creative at play.
Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny: White Lie?These parents believe it is better to draw the line in the sand for their children, when it comes to the difference between truth and make-believe. They say that by being keepers of the truth, their children can use them as trustworthy guides for distinguishing fact from fantasy. These parents believe that in remaining truthful, they deepen the bonds they have with their children who will never discover they have been lied to, betrayed, even in the matter of the ''white lie'' of make-believe characters such as Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny.
These parents may feel that the only people who stand to lose from truth-telling are the marketers who plug these creatures at holiday time to make their wares more attractive to youngsters and their parents.
But Dr. Elizabeth Berger still sees the importance of maintaining the ruse. ''The world of the small child is full of magic and unreality, and should be. Each small child should feel like 'the best little girl or boy' in the world and regard the Mom and Dad as the best Mom and Dad ever, and the local community as the best place on earth. The recognition of ordinariness comes gradually and later.''
Do you think belief in make-believe characters is no big deal?
Did you decide not to encourage your children to believe in Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny?
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Author: Varda EpsteinVarda Meyers Epstein is a mother of 12, communications writer, and education blogger at the Kars4Kids blog.View all posts by Varda Epstein
Camp Creek rd
Loggers support Trump's claim that wildfires caused by 'poor forest management' '' True Pundit
A national logging organization is offering support to President Trump following catastrophic wildfires in California and a political debate over the causes of the destructive blazes.
''President Trump blamed poor forest management for wildfires in California and throughout the West, and there is truth to statements he has made,'' said Daniel Dructor, executive vice president of the American Loggers Council, a coalition of state and regional associations that represents independent contract loggers.
''It's time to rise above political posturing and recognize that active forest management '-- including logging, thinning, grazing and controlled burning '-- are tools that can and must be used to reduce fire risks and help mitigate the impacts to landscapes,'' Mr. Dructor said in a statement.
According to the council, some 60 million to 80 million acres of national forest are at ''high, to very high, risk of catastrophic wildfire.''
Citing research from the U.S. Forest Service, the council backs such methods as thinning stressed trees and prescribed burns to reduce wildfires but said ''only a small fraction of high-risk acres are being treated.'' '' READ MORE
Frequent, low-severity fires were the norm in many dry forests across the western United States, prior to Euro-America settlement. These fires kept accumulated fuels such as fallen branches and dead trees to a minimum. They cleared out many younger, smaller trees while older trees in these fire-adapted ecosystems developed thick bark that protected them from the heat of periodic fires.
A century of ardent fire suppression and declines in timber harvests on federal land over the past 20 years have left many western forests over-stocked with small trees competing for water. Add drought to the mix and the trees become even more vulnerable to insect outbreak. Forests of stressed trees surrounded by heavy fuel loads are vulnerable to wildfires that are hotter and larger than would have burned historically.
The philosophy behind forest management in the United States has evolved over time. Sixty years ago, federal forests were primarily seen a source of timber. Today they are managed to provide a range of benefits to society, including recreation, timber, water, and wildlife habitat. It's recognized that fire plays a critical role in nature, serving as an agent of change and renewal. Given current conditions in many federal forests across the West, however, it's generally thought that some treatment is needed to help restore beneficial fire to the ecosystem. Without intervention, current fuel loads leave many areas at increased risk of catastrophic fire.
Scientists with the Pacific Northwest Research Station work with land managers to develop effective fuel-reduction treatments. These treatments usually include thinning, prescribed burns, or combinations of the two. Station scientists also develop models to help fuel managers and other decisionmakers strategically place fuel treatments to help achieve various goals, such as preserving large trees, improving certain wildlife habitat, and protecting homes in the wildland-urban interface.
Thinning followed by prescribed burn.
Fuels and Fire Tools
Fuel and Fire Tools is a software application that integrates stand-alone versions of the Fuel Characteristic Classification System, Consume, Fire Emission Production Simulator, and the Pile Calculator. No specific operating system is required. The system allows users to develop fuelbeds and predict fire behavior, fuel consumption, and rate of heat release during wildland fires.
How to get it: Download from http://www.fs.fed.us/pnw/fera/fft/index.shtml
Photo series for quantifying fuels in California, Oregon, and Washington
Researchers created a new photo series for quantifying natural fuels in eastern Oregon sagebrush-steppe and in northern spotted owl nesting habitat in the Pacific Northwest; and grasslands, shrublands, oak-bay woodlands, and eucalyptus forests in the East Bay area of California. The sites were photographed, inventoried, and compiled in field guides to assist land and fire managers who are planning and implementing management activities and managing wildland fires in Washington, Oregon, and California. The field guides are published as two separate general technical reports by the Pacific Northwest Research Station. Data and images were also incorporated into the Digital Photo Series, a Web-based tool for searching and viewing the content of all Natural Fuels Photo Series volumes.
Contact: Clint Wright
Partners: USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Region, Fire and Aviation Management; USDI Bureau of Land Management, Oregon State Office; East Bay Regional Park DistrictFor more information:
Wright, C.S.; Vihnanek, R.E.; Restaino, J.C.; Dvorak, J.E. 2012. Photo series for quantifying natural fuels. Volume XI: eastern Oregon sagebrush-steppe and spotted owl nesting habitat in the Pacific Northwest. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-GTR-878. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 85 p.
Wright, C.S.; Vihnanek, R.V. 2014. Stereo photo series for quantifying natural fuels. Volume XIII: grasslands, shrublands, oak-bay woodlands, and eucalyptus forests in the East Bay of California. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-GTR-893. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 39 p.
The Forest Vegetation Simulator (FVS) is used to predict forest stand dynamics. It is used extensively throughout the United States. The Fire and Fuels Extension to FVS, when combined with the Fuel Characteristic Classification System (FCCS), has the potential to model fire effects and succession more realistically and with higher resolution. Postprocessors are stand-alone applications that extend the capabilities of a model. This new postprocessor will integrate the effects of silvicultural and surface fuel treatments, using realistic fuels and making the fuels component more visible, user friendly, and flexible within the modeling system.
The FVS is the standard model used by various government agencies including the USDA Forest Service, USDI Bureau of Land Management, and USDI Bureau of Indian Affairs. The new interface provided by this postprocessor will allow managers to more accurately determine the outcomes of fuel treatments, especially with respect to duration of treatment effectiveness.
How to get it: Tool will be distributed with the FVS program, or downloaded from http://www.fs.fed.us/fmsc/fvs/software/postprocessors.php.
Contact: Morris C. Johnson, firstname.lastname@example.org, Threat Characterization and Management Program
This calculator was developed to help fuel managers and air quality regulators manage piled fuels and coordinate piled-fuel disposal through prescribed burning. By using easily measured dimensions, the user can estimate the volume and biomass of piled fuels and the emissions produced when those fuels are burned. The estimation equations were developed from field measurement. Presentation of an earlier version of the calculator capable of only estimating fuel in hand-constructed piles at the Joint Fire Science Program (JFSP) Biomass Roundtable, yielded additional funding from the JFSP to incorporate calculations for estimating volume, biomass, and emissions of machine-constructed piles as well, thereby enhancing this tool for fuel management.
How to get it: http://depts.washington.edu/nwfire/piles/
Contact: Clint Wright, email@example.com, Threat Characterization and Management Program
EMDS version 5.0 provides integrated, spatially enabled, multiscale decision support for environmental analysis and planning. It has been used to develop national level decision-support applications for fuel analysis and fuel-treatment planning for the Forest Service and U.S. Department of the Interior.
The basic objectives of any EMDS application are to (1) develop an improved understanding of the state of the environment at whatever spatial scales are relevant to an application area, and (2) assist with design of strategic solutions for environmental protection and restoration.
EMDS 4.0 continues to maintain compatibility with the latest releases of the world's leading geographic information system technology, ArcGIS. Numerous major system enhancements were introduced in version 4.0 to improve the robustness and usability of the system and ensure its continued viability for the foreseeable future.
MyFTP is designed to allow planners working at the level of a national forest district or similarly sized unit to estimate costs, revenues, economic impacts, and surface fuels resulting from operations designed to reduce fuel loads in fire-prone forests. The software is limited in scope to the dry forests of the western United States. MyFTP is a spreadsheet application developed with Microsoft® Excel® 2002. Its compatibility with spreadsheet software other than Microsoft Excel has not been tested. MyFTP has, however, been tested successfully with Excel 2002-2003 and with Excel 2007.
The Excel-based Fuel Reduction Cost Simulator (FRCS) model estimates the cost of harvesting and collecting biomass from small trees and from forest residues associated with commercial logging operations. The model has variants for the western, southern, and northern regions of the United States.
These new variants of FRCS have been used to develop forest biomass supply curves for all forested counties in the continental United States. The original version was published in 2004 and was limited to forests of the interior West. A request to use the model for a nationwide assessment of the economic supply of biomass available from farm and forest residues and biomass plantations to support bioenergy and biofuels led to this extension of the capabilities of FRCS so that all regions of the United States could be evaluated. An independent cost module also was developed that lets users easily update costs of diesel fuel, equipment, and labor in any part of the country. Production equations from numerous studies on biomass harvesting operations in different regions of the country were incorporated so that users can select the most relevant equations for their needs.
Harvest Cost-Revenue (HCR) Estimator is a Windows-based financial and engineering software application that calculates the cost of wildfire fuel-reduction treatments on a project-by-project basis. It may be used to evaluate cost-per-acre thresholds for logging contractors, appraise contract bid rates, or assess stumpage values for ponderosa pine stands in the Southwest United States. It illustrates variability in fuel reduction costs as related to the level of fuels reduction achieved, volume of merchantable wood removed from different forest stands, and availability of markets for removed material.
Donald Trump views charred remains left behind after wildfires ravaged northern California. Image: Genaro Molina / EPAUS president Donald Trump extolled Finnish forestry management on a visit to northern California on Saturday where more than 70 people have died in the most destructive wildfire in the state's history.
''You look at other countries where they do things differently, and it's a whole different story. I was with the president of Finland and they spend a lot of time raking and cleaning and they don't have any problems,'' he told reporters in the devastated town of Paradise.
Critics were quick to point out that Finland and California have very different climates.
Finnish president Sauli Niinist¶ Image:Jarno Kuusinen / AOPFinnish president Sauli Niinist¶ told Yle that he believed Trump was referring to their encounter in Paris last weekend marking the WWI armistice centenary.
''I did indeed meet president Trump and we had a conversation about forest fire prevention in Finland,'' he explained.
No rakingThe Finnish president's office on Sunday said via email that raking did not enter the discussion between Trump and Niinist¶ in the French capital last week.
Niinist¶ had said, "we take care of our forests" while talking about Finnish forestry management and the country's forest fire monitoring system with president Trump.
Niinist¶ brought up the topic of forest management while offering his condolences to the US president for the devastation caused by California's wildfires, according to the Finnish president's office. The issue of forest fires also came up as forest fire prevention is an aspect of Finland's Arctic Programme and Finland currently chairs the Arctic Council, an intergovernmental forum for Arctic issues.
Last July, Niinist¶ and Trump held bilateral talks during the Trump-Putin summit in Helsinki.
Trump has said state forest mismanagement is to blame for the wildfires.
Authorities in California are working to locate more than one thousand missing people.
4:20pm: Edited to add comments from president Sauli Niinist¶'s office.
Facing Deadlier Fires, California Tries Something New: More Logging - WSJ
FRENCH MEADOWS RESERVOIR, Calif.'--Obscured amid the chaos of California's latest wildfire outbreak is a striking sign of change that may help curtail future devastating infernos. After decades of butting heads, some environmentalists and logging supporters have largely come to agreement that forests need to be logged to be saved.
The current fires are hitting populated areas along the edges of forests and brush lands, including the 142,000-acre Camp Fire in Northern California's Butte County. That now ranks as the most deadly and destructive in state history, killing at least 71 people, leaving hundreds missing and destroying more than 9,800 homes. The Camp Fire and the 98,400-acre Woolsey Fire in Southern California were fueled by fierce winds in unusually dry weather, which turned much of the state into a tinderbox.
Another dangerous factor, land-management experts say, is that forests have become overgrown with trees and underbrush due to a mix of human influences, including a past federal policy of putting out fires, rather than letting them burn. Washington has also sharply reduced logging under pressure from environmentalists.
Now, the unlikely coalition is pushing new programs to thin out forests and clear underbrush. In 2017, California joined with the U.S. Forest Service and other groups in creating the Tahoe-Central Sierra Initiative, which aims to thin millions of trees from about 2.4 million acres of forest'--believed to be the largest such state-federal project in the country.
The current fires have trained a spotlight on the strategy: Parts of the forest burned in the Camp Fire in and around Paradise, for example, were overgrown with small, young trees, according to a 2017 forest health plan by the Butte County Fire Safe Council, which had planned to thin a thousand acres of land there over the next decade.
''We need to try new things because what we've done in the past hasn't worked,'' said David Edelson, Sierra Nevada project director of the Nature Conservancy, a nonprofit that is part of the new thinning partnership.
Says Rich Gordon, president and chief executive officer of the California Forestry Association, an industry group based in Sacramento: ''We absolutely have to thin our forests. Through a long period of fire suppression and lack of timber production, we have allowed our forests to become overgrown.''
The Tahoe-Central Sierra initiative's work to log and carry out prescribed burns on national forests is expected to pick up next year. Early stages of the project had wound down for the season before the current fires.
The chief aim is to better safeguard the more than 12 million acres of forest in the Sierra Nevada mountain range, roughly a third of the state's total, and the source of nearly two-thirds of the water Californians depend on. Communities housing nearly a million people would also get better protection, while lessons learned could lead to more aggressive thinning projects in more populated parts of the state, supporters of the initiative say.
''Having the fuel loads in forests and wild lands reduced is definitely helpful in modifying fire behavior, but it needs to occur at a much greater scale than we are currently doing,'' said Jim Branham, executive officer of the Sierra Nevada Conservancy, a state agency that helped broker the partnership.
Wildfires in forests with widely spaced trees are more likely to stay on the ground and burn themselves out, while the brush and small trees in more overgrown forests act as a ''ladder'' to carry fire higher and spread, according to a 2015 forest-health plan devised in part by the state of Washington.
Thinning isn't seen as a cure-all. More than anything, climate change is making California more fire prone, according to many scientists and state officials. Six of the state's 10 most destructive fires have taken place since 2015.
''Even if we are successful on that [thinning] front, there will undoubtedly be events that simply overwhelm us,'' Mr. Branham said. ''It is a scary future.''
Some environmentalists oppose even the small-scale logging of the California project. The group is removing mainly small-diameter trees as opposed to the big ones favored in the past by commercial timber operations on federal land. Tim Hermach, executive director of the Native Forest Council in Eugene, Ore., blames logging for the buildup of flammable brush and younger trees.
''Every time they take a tree out of a forest, they're making it hotter, drier and more flammable,'' Mr. Hermach said.
Others say the state isn't doing enough to better protect communities themselves from fire, such as by not allowing development in fire-prone areas and requiring prevention measures such as rooftop vents to capture flying embers.
The thinning coalition represents a new front. The Nature Conservancy's Mr. Edelson used to sue to block logging plans in national forests as an attorney for another green group. Now he said he sees the need for limited logging because of the dramatic rise in wildfires.
That puts him in agreement not only with timber industry officials, but also U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, who has earned the ire of conservationists including on efforts to reduce the size of national monuments and open more areas to drilling.
On Wednesday, Mr. Zinke said priority needs to be given to reducing the density of overgrown woodlands to reduce more catastrophic blazes. ''The bottom line is there's just too much dead and dying material,'' he said after touring the Camp Fire destruction. President Trump, who plans to tour the area Saturday, has blamed mismanagement for the fires.
California Gov. Jerry Brown, while citing climate change and other factors for the current problems, has spoken glowingly of the Tahoe initiative. The governor on Sept. 21 signed bills authorizing a $1 billion, five-year plan to thin forests, including by easing rules on logging. A month earlier, the Trump administration announced a plan to increase the amount of thinning and controlled burns on federal lands. Forestry experts say the number of acres thinned annually needs to be more than quadrupled from the approximate one million that are done now.
Eli Ilano, supervisor for the Tahoe National Forest, said the federal government has wanted to do thinning work in the past, but that the growing cost of fighting wildfires have siphoned off much of the agency's funds. The Forest Service's firefighting costs soared to a record $2.4 billion in 2017 from an average of $1.1 billion a year over the prior decade. A measure contained in a spending bill signed by Mr. Trump in March will provide a dedicated fund for thinning and other forest restoration work beginning in 2020.
U.S. wildfires, mostly in the West, have scorched more than 8.5 million acres so far this year as of Friday, and an average of 6.3 million acres during each of the past five years, far above a 10-year average of 3.7 million a year in the 1990s, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.
The threat is considered by many experts to be gravest in California, because it recently went through a five-year drought and has so many people living in wild areas.
One of California's most serious fire threats is in the national forests that blanket the Sierra Nevada, the location of the state-federal thinning project, where the U.S. Forest Service estimates 129 million trees have died due to drought and bark beetle infestations. The initiative's project covers seven counties of state, private and federal lands around Lake Tahoe'--one of the mountain West's biggest tourism draws.
On an afternoon in September, before the latest round of fires, the sound of logging equipment pierced the mountain air near the mile-high French Meadows Reservoir as crews cut trees in a forest owned by the American River Conservancy, another environmental group whose work is being coordinated under the partnership. Operator Brian Chamberlain wiped his brow as he took a break from a machine called a ''masticator,'' which chopped and ground small fir and cypress trees into tiny pieces.
''They work me like a rented mule,'' the 58-year-old joked as fellow lumberjacks nearby sawed and cut other larger trees and stacked the trunks in neat piles.
In thinning projects, old, diseased or too small trees are individually marked for removal. Loggers move in'--often operating in pairs'--with chain saws or heavy machinery to take down the trees, which are then stripped of limbs by another machine and stacked up. Broad stands of dead trees killed by bark beetle are often clear-cut.
The finished logs are then usually hauled by truck to a commercial timber mill or shipped to a biomass plant to be converted into energy, said Mr. Edelson of the Nature Conservancy. Since there is otherwise little profit for cutters, the work usually needs to be subsidized by governments.
The past acrimony over forest management is partly rooted in the timber wars of the late 1980s and 1990s, when emotions ran so high activists chained themselves to logging equipment to protect endangered species including the northern spotted owl. Amid ensuing court battles, the federal government in effect closed much of its western forests to logging.
Overgrown forests have played a role in dangerous fires in recent years, including 2013's Rim Fire, the largest recorded fire in the Sierra Nevada, which tore through 257,000 acres.
Of particular concern is the growing severity of the infernos, which get so hot they can actually create their own weather systems, causing winds to shift and spread flames in many directions. More than a third of the terrain in some of the recent big fires in the Sierra Nevada has burned so intensely that biologists say the soil may be too damaged to regrow a forest for many years.
That threatens the water supply. After the King Fire blackened nearly 100,000 acres of forest east of Sacramento in 2014, the Placer County Water Agency had to spend $5 million dredging hundreds of thousands of tons of topsoil that washed into its Hell Hole Reservoir as a result, said Marie Davis, a geologist with the agency. ''We want a reliable watershed,'' Ms. Davis said. ''We can't keep filling it with sediment.''
Lack of available labor and infrastructure are hurdles to expanding the thinning work. Many of the mills in the area have closed due to the slowdown in logging, a manager said. Many of the workers, meanwhile, including Mr. Chamberlain, the masticator operator, were at or near retirement age.
Despite the challenges, proponents of the thinning said all the work was worth it. ''We can spend millions cleaning up the forest,'' said Autumn Gronborg, supervisor of a crew near French Meadows, ''or billions fighting the fires.''
'--Alejandro Lazo and Erin Ailworth contributed to this article.
Write to Jim Carlton at firstname.lastname@example.org
Retired Chico police chief, school principal sue PG&E over Camp Fire '' Chico Enterprise-Record
CHICO '-- Retired Chico Police Chief Kirk Trostle and his wife, Patricia Garrison, a retired elementary school principal, have filed a lawsuit against Pacific Gas and Electric Company over the deadly Camp Fire.
The fire destroyed the couple's home in the southern edge of the town of Paradise. They are alleging the utility's negligent operation and maintenance of its power lines caused the Camp Fire, which has become the state's deadliest and most destructive wildfire ever.
The suit, which names as defendants PG&E Corporation, Pacific Gas and Electric Company and unnamed defendants, was filed Friday in Butte County Superior Court.
Paradise residents Patricia Garrison, left, and Kirk Trostle filed a civil complaint Friday against PG&E over the deadly Camp Fire. (Courtesy photo)Trostle, during an interview Thursday at a restaurant in Chico, said PG&E knew its power lines were faulty and displayed ''deliberate indifference'' to the problem. The utility, he said, needs to be held accountable for its actions.
''No community should have to go through this again,'' Trostle said.
Cal Fire has not released a cause of the fire, saying its investigation remains ongoing. PG&E has told this newspaper that the cause of the fire is unknown, but it did experience a power outage about 15 minutes before the fire was reported near Pulga.
According to firefighter radio transmissions reviewed by Bay Area News Group, firefighters were sent about 6:33 a.m. Nov. 8 to a vegetation fire ''under the high-tension power lines'' across the Feather River from Poe Dam.
PG&E has said it later observed by aerial patrol damage to a transmission tower about a mile northeast of Pulga, in the area of the Camp Fire.
Asked for comment about the lawsuit, PG&E spokesman Paul Doherty issued a written statement.
''The safety of our customers and the communities we serve is our highest priority. It's important to remember that the cause has yet to be determined,'' it said. ''We are aware of lawsuits regarding the Camp Fire. Right now, our primary focus is on supporting the communities and assisting first responders as they work to contain the fire. We are also getting our crews positioned and ready to respond when we get access, so that we can safely restore gas and electricity to our customers.''
Trostle, 54, a Chico State University graduate whose law enforcement career included stints as the chief of police in Chico and Oroville, said PG&E should have known its policies and/or its failure to properly follow policies already in place could have led to a fire like the one that ravaged Paradise and surrounding communities.
According to the complaint, PG&E ''repeatedly notified customers in various areas of Butte County, including Paradise, that PG&E was considering and may de-energize power lines on November 8, but PG&E failed to de-energize the lines despite the extreme fire risk.''
The complaint further alleges that a ''witness states she contacted PG&E over a period of two years before the fire about sparks falling from the lines. The day before the fire started, she received an email from PG&E to the effect PG&E would be coming out to make repairs. That never happened.''
Trostle said the utility has shown a pattern of conduct of knowing a problem exists and failing to correct it, leading to the ''horrific'' deaths of dozens of people.
The retired police chief said he is pursuing legal action to hold to account PG&E and its employees in charge of creating and enforcing policies, in addition to compelling the utility to change or update its policies and procedures if needed.
Michael S. Feinberg, legal counsel to Trostle and Garrison, said PG&E '-- under red flag warning conditions '-- failed to properly respond to property owner complaints and internal information regarding a high-voltage transmission line that was ''faulting and generating sparks'' and capable of destroying Paradise and killing many residents.
''In addition,'' Feinberg said, ''PG&E lulled the community into a false sense of comfort and security by advising as early as three days prior to the fire that they would be shutting down their electrical system during the red flag conditions so that their power lines would not ignite a fire, and yet never followed through with the promise action of shutting off the flow of electricity under classic conditions for that action.''
Garrison, who recently retired as principal of Stanford Avenue Elementary School in Oroville, said a primary objective of her occupation was ensuring the safety of her school, students and staff.
''When safety is your objective,'' she said, ''it's possible to create policies '... to make sure the public is safe.''
Trostle and Garrison were out of town at the time the Camp Fire erupted and forced more than 50,000 residents to flee their homes along jammed roadways. At least 71 people died in the fire, some found burned in vehicles.
But while they were safe from the flames, their family, including adult children in their 30s, with families of their own, were in the fire's path.
It was an ''incredible feeling of helplessness,'' Trostle said. Garrison added that she was receiving updates through her phone from her daughter, who described the town of Paradise becoming engulfed in flames and fireballs running in the roadways.
Trostle and Garrison said 25 members of their immediate and extended family survived but lost their homes and had their properties burned. The couple's home was flattened by fire as well, and Trostle said two of their cats, Stella and Sterling, remained missing.
The town of Paradise and its community went through a ''hellfire,'' Trostle said, and PG&E cannot defer it or ignore it.
10-40K in loans
Public transport paid back if you don't graduate
Tax Inflation Scam
If EU is against nationalism, why do they hold country NATIONAL football competition?
1 excessive favoritism towards oneÊ¼s own country Nazism's almost epic nationalism appealed to downtrodden Germans still suffering the humiliation of being defeated in World War I Synonyms of nationalism
chauvinism , jingoism , superpatriotism
Words Related to nationalism
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2 love and support for one's country American nationalism is often most visible during Fourth of July celebrations Synonyms of nationalism
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Learn More about nationalism Seen and HeardWhat made you want to look up nationalism? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).
Theresa May's leadership hangs in the balance as we wait to find out if enough letters of no confidence in her have been submitted to trigger a vote.
It comes after a number of MPs rejected her EU exit strategy.
So what are the odds on who could potentially replace her as the next Conservative Leader?
Next Conservative leader oddsUK bookmaker William Hill has put the former Brexit secretary Dominic Raab as the favourite to take over with odds of 9/2.
Raab quit May's government on Thursday in protest at her draft agreement. He said it did not match the promises the Conservative Party made.
Boris Johnson, the former foreign minister, has been arguably the most vitriolic critic of May's Brexit. He resigned from cabinet in July over her handling of the negotiation process. He is second favourite at 5/1.
Sajid Javid, David Davis and Jaocb Rees-Mogg all have 6/1 odds of becoming the next leader
Rees-Mogg, a leading Brexiteer, was among members of the government who submitted a letter of no confidence in the PM. However, he has said he will not be putting himself forward for the top job.
Jeremy Hunt and Michael Gove are at 8/1. Hunt replaced Johnson as foreign minister in July.
This puts them ahead of Penny Mordaunt at 9/1, and Andrea Leadsom at 12/1.
Mordaunt serves as international development minister and minister for women and equalities.
Leadsom made it to the last two in the 2016 contest to replace David Cameron.
Amber Rudd, the new work and pensions secretary, is 16/1.
Justine Greening, Ruth Davidson and Tom Tugendhat are all at 20/1.
David Cameron is also mentioned in the odds table - however, he's at 100/1, along with George Osborne, Ken Clarke and Maria Miller.
'I Don't Really Want to Work for Facebook.' So Say Some Computer Science Students. - The New York Times
Image The Cal Hacks 5.0 competition drew students to the University of California, Berkeley, including, from left, Haitao Zhang, Ingrid Wu and Emily Hu, all students at Berkeley. Some students at the hackathon expressed a reluctance to work for big tech firms. Credit Credit Max Whittaker for The New York Times BERKELEY, Calif. '-- A job at Facebook sounds pretty plum. The interns make around $8,000 a month, and an entry-level software engineer makes about $140,000 a year. The food is free. There's a walking trail with indigenous plants and a juice bar.
But the tone among highly sought-after computer scientists about the social network is changing. On a recent night at the University of California, Berkeley, as a group of young engineers gathered to show off their tech skills, many said they would avoid taking jobs at the social network.
''I've heard a lot of employees who work there don't even use it,'' said Niky Arora, 19, an engineering student, who was recently invited to a Facebook recruiting event at the company's headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif. ''I just don't believe in the product because like, Facebook, the baseline of everything they do is desire to show people more ads.''
Emily Zhong, 20, a computer science major, piped up. ''Surprisingly, a lot of my friends now are like, 'I don't really want to work for Facebook,''' she said, citing ''privacy stuff, fake news, personal data, all of it.''
''Before it was this glorious, magical thing to work there,'' said Jazz Singh, 18, also studying computer science. ''Now it's like, just because it does what you want doesn't mean it's doing good.''
As Facebook has been rocked by scandal after scandal, some young engineers are souring on the company. Many are still taking jobs there, but those who do are doing it a little more quietly, telling their friends that they will work to change it from within or that they have carved out more ethical work at a company whose reputation has turned toxic.
Facebook, which employs more than 30,000 full-time workers around the world, said, ''In 2018, we've hired more engineers than ever before.'' The company added, ''We continue to see strong engagement and excitement within the engineering community at the prospect of joining our company.''
Image Niky Arora, 19, a student at Berkeley, said she was skeptical about working for Facebook, which invited her to a recruiting event recently. ''I've heard a lot of employees who work there don't even use it,'' she said. Credit Max Whittaker for The New York Times The changing attitudes are happening beyond Facebook. Across Silicon Valley, tech recruiters said job applicants in general were asking more hard questions during interviews, wanting to know specifically what they would be asked to do at the company. Career coaches said they had tech employees reaching out to get tips on handling moral quandaries. The questions include ''How do I avoid a project I disagree with?'' and ''How do I remind my bosses of the company mission statement?''
''Employees are wising up to the fact that you can have a mission statement on your website, but when you're looking at how the company creates new products or makes decisions, the correlation between the two is not so tightly aligned,'' said David Chie, the head of Palo Alto Staffing, a tech job placement service in Silicon Valley. ''Everyone's having this conversation.''
When engineers apply for jobs, they are also doing it differently.
''They do a lot more due diligence,'' said Heather Johnston, Bay Area district president for the tech job staffing agency Robert Half. ''Before, candidates were like: 'Oh, I don't want to do team interviews. I want a one-and-done.''' Now, she added, job candidates ''want to meet the team.''
''They're not just going to blindly take a company because of the name anymore,'' she said.
Yet while many of the big tech companies have been hit by a change in public perception, Facebook seems uniquely tarred among young workers.
''I've had a couple of clients recently say they're not as enthusiastic about Facebook because they're frustrated with what they see happening politically or socially,'' said Paul Freiberger, president of Shimmering Careers, a career counseling group based in San Mateo, Calif. ''It's privacy and political news, and concern that it's going to be hard to correct these things from inside.''
Chad Herst, a leadership and career coach based in San Francisco since 2008, said that now, for the first time, he had clients who wanted to avoid working for big social media companies like Facebook or Twitter.
''They're concerned about where democracy is going, that social media polarizes us, and they don't want to be building it,'' Mr. Herst said. ''People really have been thinking about the mission of the company and what the companies are trying to achieve a little more.''
Image Cal Hacks 5.0 drew about 2,200 software engineering students from around the country. Credit Max Whittaker for The New York Times He said one client, a midlevel executive at Facebook, wanted advice on how to shift her group's work to encourage users to connect offline as well. But she found resistance internally to her efforts.
''She was trying to figure out: 'How do I politic this? How do I language this?''' Mr. Herst said. ''And I was telling her to bring up some of Mark Zuckerberg's past statements about connecting people.''
On the recent evening at the University of California, Berkeley, around 2,200 engineering students from around the country gathered for Cal Hacks 5.0 '-- a competition to build the best apps. The event spanned a weekend, so teenage competitors dragged pillows around with them. The hosts handed out 2,000 burritos as students registered.
It was also a hiring event. Recruiters from Facebook and Alphabet set up booths (free sunglasses from Facebook; $200 in credit to the Google Cloud platform from Alphabet).
In the auditorium, the head of Y Combinator, a start-up incubator and investment firm, gave opening remarks, recommending that young people avoid jobs in big tech.
''You get to program your life on a totally different scale,'' said Michael Seibel, who leads Y Combinator. ''The worst thing that can happen to you is you get a job at Google.'' He called those jobs ''$100,000-a-year welfare'' '-- meaning, he said, that workers can get tethered to the paycheck and avoid taking risks.
The event then segued to a word from the sponsor, Microsoft. Justin Garrett, a Microsoft recruiter who on his LinkedIn profile calls himself a senior technical evangelist, stepped onstage, laughing a little.
Image Calvin Nguyen, a student at San Jose State University, worked at the hackathon on building an app to minimize food waste. Credit Max Whittaker for The New York Times ''So, Michael's a tough guy to follow, especially when you work for one of those big companies,'' Mr. Garrett said. ''He called it welfare. I like to call it tremendous opportunity.''
Then students flooded into the stadium, which was filled with long tables of computers where they would stay and compete. In the middle of the scrum, three friends joked around. Caleb Thomas, 21, was gently made fun of because he had accepted an internship at Facebook.
''Come on, guys,'' Mr. Thomas said.
''These are the realities of how the business works,'' said Samuel Resendez, 20, a computer science student at the University of Southern California.
It turned out Mr. Resendez had interned at Facebook in the summer. Olivia Brown, 20, head of Stanford's Computer Science and Social Good club and an iOS intern at Mozilla, called him out on it. ''But you still worked at Facebook, too,'' she said.
''Well, at least I signed before Cambridge Analytica,'' Mr. Resendez said, a little bashful about the data privacy and election manipulation scandal that rocked the company this year. ''Ninety-five percent of what Facebook is doing is delivering memes.''
Ms. Brown said a lot of students criticize Facebook and talk about how they would not work there, but ultimately join. ''Everyone cares about ethics in tech before they get a contract,'' she said.
Ms. Brown said she thought that could change soon, though, as the social stigma of working for Facebook began outweighing the financial benefits.
''Defense companies have had this reputation for a long time,'' she said. ''Social networks are just getting that.''
Follow Nellie Bowles on Twitter: @NellieBowles.
Is Facebook replaceable? Tech investor launches bid to 'start the process' | Technology | The Guardian
Can Facebook be replaced? The prominent Silicon Valley investor Jason Calacanis, who was an early investor in several high-profile tech companies including Uber certainly hopes so. He has launched a competition to find a ''social network that is actually good for society''.
The Openbook Challenge will offer seven ''purpose-driven teams'' $100,000 in investment to build a billion-user social network that could replace the technology titan while protecting consumer privacy.
''We want to invest in replacements that don't manipulate people and that protect our democracy from bad actors looking to spread misinformation,'' the challenge website states.
Related: Cambridge University rejected Facebook study over 'deceptive' privacy standards
The seven winning teams will be invited to join Calacanis's Launch incubator, offering them 12 week of mentorship as they develop their social network.
''All community and social products on the internet have had their era, from AOL to MySpace, and typically they're not shut down by the government '' they're slowly replaced by better products,'' said Calacanis in a blogpost announcing the challenge. ''So, let's start the process of replacing Facebook.''
Calacanis, who was an early investor in Uber and Thumbtack and has written a book called Angel '' How to Invest in Technology Startups '' Timeless Advice from an Angel Investor Who Turned $100,000 into $100,000,000, points to two reasons why Facebook has not yet been displaced.
''First, Zuckerberg has done an exceptional job of buying competitors,'' he told the Guardian. ''Instagram and WhatsApp were well on their way to disrupting Facebook when Zuck masterfully bought them out, sealing his monopoly position. The data they have across these three platforms builds an unprecedented moat.''
The second reason is Zuckerberg's ability to ''quickly steal innovative features from startups that refuse to sell to him, like Snapchat''.
''Zuck's 'sell or die' threat has put a paralysis into the venture and entrepreneurial communities, making both scared to challenge him,'' he added.
A ''particularly nefarious'' aspect of Facebook's dominance is how it can use the data collected from the ''like'' button, its ad network and the ''login with Facebook'' tool to keep track on the competitors getting the most traction and, Calacanis said, ''kill them before they hit scale''.
Teams have until 15 June to submit either a video tour, prototype or ''full-blown product''. Over the following 90 days, 20 finalists will be whittled down to just seven companies, who will each receive $100,000 in return for a 6% stake in their business.
Finalists will be selected based on their ''ability to execute'' as opposed to the idea.
''No matter how strong a big company is, there is always a chance that an indefatigable founder with a clever idea and a kick-ass team will be able beat them,'' he said.
Facebook's approach to privacy has come under intense scrutiny over the last few weeks, following the revelation that the personal data of millions of Americans was harvested from Facebook and improperly shared with the political consultancy Cambridge Analytica. Stoked by fears that the data may have been used to try to influence the 2016 presidential election, some users have been horrified to discover the amount of data Facebook collects about them, including facial biometrics, web-browsing history and, in some cases, their text messages.
While many Silicon Valley luminaries have only recently started to scrutinise the 2.2bn-strong social network, Calacanis has been a consistent and vocal critic.
In 2009 he recorded an ''open message'' to Zuckerberg '' a video posted to YouTube '' in which he said: ''You have no idea what you are doing when it comes to privacy. You have a lack of leadership at your company when it comes to privacy and you have a glib and reckless approach to people's privacy.
''You are a brilliant engineer who is creating a level of mistrust with his users that is unprecedented and obnoxious.''
A message to Mark Zuckerberg in 2009.Despite his concerns about the platform, Calacanis also acknowledges Facebook's positive attributes.
''Social networks are amazing at letting families and friends stay in touch with each other, and the filters on Instagram make our photos look 100% more beautiful ''these are wonderful innovations.''
Virginia Will Help Amazon Fight FOIA Requests as Part of New HQ Deal | Breitbart
Alex Wong/GettyAs part of its deal with Amazon, which has based one of its new headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, the state will give Amazon two days notice of any Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests filed against it ''to allow the Company to seek a protective order or other appropriate remedy.''According to the Washington Examiner, ''The Commonwealth agreed to give Amazon a two-day notice prior to the release of any materials submitted as part of the agreement between the two parties under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act to allow the tech giant to 'seek a protective order or other appropriate remedy.'''
''The government will also work with Amazon on record requests to redact portions of the materials to 'the maximum extent permitted by applicable law,''' the Washington Examiner continued, adding that helicopter access was also part of the deal, so Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos can fly into the headquarters.
Under agreement between Amazon and Virginia, the commonwealth will give the company written notice about any FOIA requests "to allow theCompany to seek a protective order or other appropriate remedy" pic.twitter.com/BkVXdnoX2M
'-- Benjamin Freed (@brfreed) November 13, 2018
Amazon, which decided to split its new headquarters between New York City and Arlington, Virginia, this week, had previously spent over a year teasing smaller cities and counties, who scrambled to offer Amazon incentives in return for the company's headquarters being built in the area.
As part of the deal, Amazon is also receiving $573 million from Virginia, and $1.5 billion from New York City.
''This is a big win for Virginia '' I'm proud Amazon recognizes the tremendous assets the Commonwealth has to offer and plans to deepen its roots here,'' declared Virginia Governor Ralph Northam in a statement. ''Virginia put together a proposal for Amazon that we believe represents a new model of economic development for the 21st century, and I'm excited to say that our innovative approach was successful. The majority of Virginia's partnership proposal consists of investments in our education and transportation infrastructure that will bolster the features that make Virginia so attractive: a strong and talented workforce, a stable and competitive business climate, and a world-class higher education system.''
Charlie Nash is a reporter for Breitbart Tech. You can follow him on Twitter @MrNashington, or like his page at Facebook.
War on Weed
I'm from Alberta Canada and I have an edibles story.
I am dating a 33 year old PhD student. Anthropology with a
science undergrad. This summer she took edibles when she was working with the
fur trapping population in the north west territories. She bugged out and ended
up all8ng an ambulance to take her to a hospital. She just got the
ambulance bill in the mail by she is an out of province resident. 350$. She's
fine now but like Jon said. Take just a little bit when consuming pot.
Thank you for your courage.
Biology student has been denounced for crossing a weed plant with strawberries
A 24-year-old student in the Faculty of Biology in University of Miami has been brought to the authorities after exhibiting a crossbreeding of two plant species between strawberry and marijuana in his practical class.
He has been fanatic of this plant for a long time. Also he says he hasn't consumed any kind of marijuana ''I've never smoked, nor one puff, I just think it'd be cool to create this crossbreeding of species, just like there are flavored tobacco products I think it would be a good idea to combine strawberry flavor with marijuana''. The teacher was very surprised so he came immediately to the principal's office. In view of the situation, they decided to report to the authorities, so as not to jeopardize their image.
The police have taken the plant, but it was not easy, many students were trying to take it ''Some of my classmate gone crazy; they wanted to cut some leaves and make a joints. But police came too soon, just I hope justice can be merciful, I'm not a junkie, just I am a student and I have been trying to play God.
CNN's Jim Acosta Returns to the White House After Judge's Ruling - The New York Times
Image Jim Acosta of CNN during a contentious news conference at the White House on Nov. 7. The Trump administration revoked his press credentials a short time later. Credit Credit Doug Mills/The New York Times A federal judge on Friday ordered the Trump administration to restore the press credentials of Jim Acosta of CNN, handing the cable network an early win in its lawsuit against the president and members of his administration.
Presiding over one of the first major tests of press rights under President Trump, Judge Timothy J. Kelly of United States District Court in Washington ruled that the White House had behaved inappropriately in stripping Mr. Acosta of his press badge shortly after a testy exchange at a news conference last week.
The administration's process for barring the correspondent ''is still so shrouded in mystery that the government could not tell me'' who made the decision, Judge Kelly said from the bench. Taking away the pass that gave Mr. Acosta access to the White House amounted to a violation of his right to a fair and transparent process, the judge ruled.
Soon after the ruling, Mr. Trump said the White House would tighten its rules for how journalists must comport themselves at the White House.
''People have to behave,'' the president said in the Oval Office. ''If they don't listen to the rules and regulations, we'll end up back in court, and we will win.''
The ruling was a significant victory for CNN and Mr. Acosta, but Judge Kelly declined to say whether the denial of the White House press pass had amounted to a First Amendment issue.
''I want to emphasize the very limited nature of this ruling,'' he said, saying that it was not meant to enshrine journalists' right to access. ''I have not determined that the First Amendment was violated here.''
The legal battle is expected to continue: Judge Kelly ruled only on the network's emergency request for a temporary restoration of Mr. Acosta's credentials. Hearings on other issues in the case are expected to resume next week.
Some lawyers said that, CNN's initial victory aside, journalists who cover the president had to remain vigilant. The case underscored that the entree granted to the White House press corps, which has worked out of the West Wing for decades, relies on custom rather than any legal framework.
''This could backfire,'' said William L. Youmans, a professor of media law at George Washington University. Mr. Acosta ''gets his credential now, but it empowers the Trump administration to come up with conduct-based criteria.''
''A 'rudeness' or 'aggressive behavior' policy would have a huge chilling effect, and would be much more damaging to the whole system,'' Dr. Youmans added. ''If it lowers the bar for pulling credentials, it's a recipe for a more tepid press.''
In arguing for the return of Mr. Acosta's credentials, CNN cited a case from the 1970s that required the White House to demonstrate a clear process, and right of appeal, before revoking a reporter's credentials.
In addition to saying the White House had failed to explain its process in revoking the press badge, Judge Kelly criticized the administration for its false claim that Mr. Acosta had placed his hands on a White House intern during the news conference. The judge called it ''likely untrue and at least partly based on evidence of questionable accuracy.''
After the ruling, the White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, said her team planned to ''develop rules and processes to ensure fair and orderly press conferences in the future.''
''There must be decorum at the White House,'' she added.
Given Mr. Trump's penchant for insulting journalists '-- he recently denounced questions as ''stupid'' and ''racist'' and joked about a Montana lawmaker who body-slammed a reporter '-- the use of ''decorum'' drew snickers from journalists on Twitter. But lawyers took it more seriously.
''This ruling is not saying that what Acosta did was the right thing or the wrong thing,'' said Nancy Gertner, a former federal judge and a Harvard Law School professor. ''The judge ruled that the president can't revoke his credentials without due process: a statement of what he did wrong, an opportunity to respond, a final decision. The ruling leaves those issues and his First Amendment challenge for another day.''
During the hearing, Judge Kelly appeared to agree with the argument put forth by the administration's lawyers that the First Amendment did not guarantee a right to enter the White House campus.
''I have no quarrel with that,'' the judge said, adding that the president ''might not call on Mr. Acosta ever again.''
The case, CNN v. Donald J. Trump, has come to symbolize the dysfunctional dynamic between the White House press corps and a president who denigrates its work as ''fake news.''
No president has relished being scrutinized by the news media, and administrations have long relied on subtle and not-so-subtle methods to ice out reporters they considered troublesome '-- for instance, ignoring their questions at briefings or giving scoops to their competitors.
But supporters of CNN, including news organizations like The Associated Press, Fox News and The New York Times, said stripping a correspondent's credentials entered the realm of retaliation and posed a threat to basic press freedoms.
For Mr. Trump and his supporters, penalizing Mr. Acosta was a sure crowd-pleaser.
The president's political team released a fund-raising email pointing to CNN's lawsuit as evidence that the news media is intent on hurting the administration. White House allies like Sean Hannity denounced Mr. Acosta as a biased grandstander.
Formal White House access for journalists dates roughly to the administration of Woodrow Wilson, the first president to hold regular news conferences, and reporters have worked out of cramped quarters in the West Wing since the Nixon era.
Credentials are particularly important for network correspondents, who stand before cameras in an area known as Pebble Beach, which offers a picturesque view of the North Lawn and the White House portico.
Mr. Acosta, 47, rose to prominence in large part because of his jousting with Mr. Trump, who at times has refused to call on the correspondent and once called him ''a real beauty.'' The son of a Cuban refugee, Mr. Acosta was raised near Washington and has worked in broadcast news since college.
He is not the first reporter to earn a president's animus. In 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt handed out a Nazi Iron Cross at a news conference and asked that it be bestowed on one of his least loved chroniclers, a columnist at The Daily News of New York.
In the Oval Office on Friday, Mr. Trump told reporters that any new regulations for press access would focus on ''decorum,'' though he kept the definition vague.
''You have to act with respect,'' the president said. ''You're at the White House, and when I see the way some of my people get treated at press conferences, it's terrible.''
Mr. Trump suggested that he might cut back on his public appearances if White House correspondents failed to follow the rules. ''We'll just leave, and then you won't be very happy, because we do get good ratings,'' he said.
As for Mr. Acosta's getting his badge back, the president tried to show nonchalance.
''It's not a big deal,'' he said in an interview with the ''Fox News Sunday'' anchor Chris Wallace. ''And if he misbehaves, we'll throw him out.''
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Paul Joseph Watson on Twitter: "Juncker's shoes don't match. He appears to have lost the ability to dress himself properly. https://t.co/c2WW4VOpQF" / Twitter
Tory high command forces acquiescence in EEC plans for military unionEuropean Commission President Jacques Delors tells a summit of European Economic Community heads of government at Fontainebleau that the first and foremost of his three big ideas for relaunching European political integration is ''military union'' (une d(C)fense commune), the others being currency union and the abolition of member states' vetoes. Mrs Thatcher refuses all three ideas in private at the summit with ''No! No! No!'' but is forbidden by her party bosses from even mentioning the phrase, or the military union proposal, until she defiantly uses the phrase (without its military context) in her last month as Prime Minister.
The foundations are laid for a Common Foreign and Security PolicyThe European Council in Maastricht lays the foundations for a political Union with the creation of a Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) and the beginnings of a common defence policy (ESDP/CSDP, a major component of the CFSP), as the second pillar of the Treaty of Maastricht.
The text is signed in February 1992 and comes into force in November 1993.
Chirac signs Blair up for a Franco-British core of EU military unionBritish Prime Minister Tony Blair and French President Jacques Chirac sign the Saint-Malo Declaration to make the Franco-British axis the motor of the EU's Common Security and Defence Policy. Twenty EU military interventions have since been launched under the CSDP. As Chirac and Blair foresee a military future increasingly independent of the USA, Canada and NATO, the 1998 Saint-Malo Declaration marks the victory of French doctrine (housing Europe's autonomous military capacity within the EU) over the doctrine of the UK and several other EU member states (maintaining Europe's autonomous military capacity within the Western European Union, a since-defunct military alliance unrelated to the EU).
Launch of the European Security and Defence PolicyAt the European Council in Cologne, the EU 15 decide to reinforce the Common Foreign and Security Policy.
Signature of Berlin PlusThe 'Berlin Plus' arrangement is signed, allowing the use of NATO structures, mechanisms and assets to carry out ESDP missions.
European Security Strategy adoptedThe summit in Brussels adopts a European Security Strategy. The aim of the document is to achieve a secure Europe in a better world, identify the threats facing the EU, define its strategic objectives and set out the political implications for Europe.
Creation of the European Defence AgencyThe European Defence Agency is established to support the member states and the European Council to improve European defence capabilities in the field of crisis management and to sustain ESDP.
EU Battlegroups reach full operational capacityEighteen battlegroups under direct control of the Council of the European Union reach full operational capacity. Battlegroups consist of a battalion-sized force (1,500 troops), plus support personnel. Two are ready for deployment at all times.
Creation of Synchronised Armed Forces Europe (SAFE)The European Parliament votes in favour of the creation of SAFE as a first step towards a true European military force.
First Franco British Council RoundtableQuentin Davies MP, Minister for Defence Equipment, attends the first Franco British Council Roundtable on integrating British and French military.
The Treaty of Lisbon comes into force. The CSDP succeeds the ESDPThe Treaty of Lisbon, signed in 2007, enters into force, renaming ESDP to Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). It provides for the creation of the European External Action Service. Commission delegations in countries outside the EU become EU delegations.
Second Franco British Council RoundtableThe Franco'British Council (FBC) and the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) host the second Franco British Council Roundtable on bilateral defence "cooperation" at the French Embassy in London.
The purpose of this meeting is twofold. Firstly, it aims to extend the FBC's "Britain, France and Defence'' initiative of October 2009.
Secondly, ahead of the May 2010 General Election, they feel it important to "resume discussions before the formation of a new government and a reassessment of British strategic priorities".
Third Franco British Council RoundtableThe Franco'British Council (FBC) and the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) host the third Franco British Council Roundtable on bilateral defence "cooperation" at the residence of the British Ambassador in Paris.
Speakers include Gisela Stuart MP, Contre Amiral Pascal Ausser, Edward Leigh MP, Amiral Alain Coldefy, Francoise Hostalier, depute, Kevin Taylor of BAE systems and Vice Admiral Paul Lambert.
The event is sponsored by BAE Systems.
Lancaster House Treaties - A Fifty Year Defence Pact Between Britain and FranceBritish Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Nicolas Sarkozy sign two defence treaties at 10 Downing Street.
The announcement is made by the two leaders following a summit meeting held at Lancaster House. No debate is held in Parliament.
2013 French White Paper on Defence and National SecurityThe White Paper is prefaced by Francois Hollande, President of France. It states:
Although the Lisbon Treaty's inclusion of solidarity and collective defence clauses was a recognition of the fact that the Member States are equally concerned by most threats, their perceptions, strategic cultures and national ambitions remain very diverse. The specifc history of each Member State is reflected in the links forged in every continent, and sometimes in their contrasting visions of the role of military force in international relations. This diversity can be an asset, inasmuch as each country brings its own experience to the common project, but it can also be a source of mutual suspicion and make any hopes of rapid integration appear unrealistic. In this respect, the slow progress of the European defence and security policy shows that national perceptions cannot be transformed by institutions alone. The support of the people is essential. It can only be created through democratic debate, a common political will, shared experience and an awareness that we all have interests and strategic priorities in common. In the economic sphere, the crisis has confronted the European Union with difficult choices, giving rise to lively debate in all its Member States. Under the pressure of events, significant progress towards greater integration now stands to be achieved in budgetary and financial matters. This closer policy integration should eventually extend to security and defence. France sees this as a key objective, and it is in this perspective that it envisions its future and the exercise of its sovereignty.
Priority actions for defence set outFor the first time since the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty, the European Council discusses defence and identifies priority actions for stronger cooperation:
increasing the effectiveness, visibility and impact of Common Security and Defence Policyenhancing the development of capabilitiesstrengthening Europe's defence industry Jean-Claude Juncker calls for an "EU Army"Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission calls for an "EU Army".
''You would not create a European army to use it immediately,'' Juncker told the Welt am Sonntag newspaper.
''But a common army among the Europeans would convey to Russia that we are serious about defending the values of the European Union.''
Juncker made many similar statements throughout 2015, and made it clear to David Cameron that military union would be a condition of any "new settlement" between Britain and the EU.
European Political Strategy Centre publishes White Paper on military unificationJean-Claude Juncker's defence advisor Michel Barnier issues a white paper through the European Political Strategy Centre, the EU's in-house think tank, calling for military union.
Europe needs to move from the current patchwork of bilateral and multilateral military cooperation to gradually increased defence integration. The Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO), provided in the Lisbon Treaty, could become a game changer in European security by enabling willing Member States to move forward.
Germany and the Netherlands step up their military cooperationMinister Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert and her German colleague Ursula von der Leyen sign two agreements on far-reaching cooperation measures. The signing takes place on board the Karel Doorman, which is moored in Amsterdam's harbour.
Included in the agreement are the integration of the German Naval Force Protection Battalion (Seebataillon) into the Royal Netherlands Navy, the integration of the 43rd Mechanized Brigade into the German 1st Armoured Division, and agreements on joint air defence.
Presentation of the European Union global strategyHigh Representative Federica Mogherini presents the EU global strategy on foreign and security policy to EU leaders, meeting in Brussels at the EU summit.
The High Representative was mandated to prepare the new strategy by the European Council in June 2015. The strategy, under the title 'Shared vision, common action: a stronger Europe' reflects the collective views expressed in the process and offers a strategic vision for the EU's global role. In these challenging times, both for Europe and globally, the strategy highlights common ground and presents a way forward.
Signing of the EU-NATO joint declarationAt the NATO summit in Warsaw, the President of the European Council, the President of the European Commission and NATO Secretary-General sign a joint declaration on EU-NATO cooperation.
The declaration aims to further strengthen EU-NATO cooperation at a time of unprecedented security challenges from the East and the South.
Informal meeting of the 27 heads of state or government in BratislavaThe heads of state or government of the 27 meet in Bratislava to begin a political reflection on further development of an EU with 27 member countries.
Leaders agree on the Bratislava Declaration and Roadmap, in which they state an intention to decide on a concrete implementation plan on security and defence and on how to make better use of the options in the Treaties at the European Council meeting in December.
They also agree to start implementing the joint declaration with NATO immediately.
Implementation plan on security and defenceEU foreign and defence ministers discuss the implementation plan on security and defence under the EU global strategy. They set out the level of ambition and the way forward on the future development of EU security and defence policy.
European Defence Action Plan presented by the European CommissionEuropean Defence Fund and other actions aim to support member states' more efficient spending in joint defence capabilities, strengthen European citizens' security and foster a competitive and innovative industrial base.
Common set of proposals to implement the EU-NATO joint declarationThe Council adopts conclusions on the Implementation of the EU-NATO Joint Declaration, endorsing 40 proposals in the 7 areas. These proposals are endorsed on the same day by the North Atlantic Council.
European Council stresses the need to strengthen Europe's security and defenceThe European Council reaffirms its commitment to the European Union Internal Security Strategy 2015-2020. It addresses the strengthening of EU cooperation on external security and defence and focuses on:
the EU Global Strategy in the area of security and defencethe European Defence Action Planimplementation of the common set of proposals which follow up on the EU-NATO Joint Declaration signed in Warsaw in July 2016HRVP/Head of the EDA proposals on the scope, modalities and content of a Coordinated Annual Review on Defence (CARD). Council reviews progress and agrees to improve support for military missionsThe Council adopted conclusions setting out the progress achieved in implementing the EU global strategy in the area of security and defence.
The Council also approved a concept note on the operational planning and conduct capabilities for CSDP missions and operations. One of the measures foreseen is the establishment of a military planning and conduct capability (MPCC) for the planning and conduct of non-executive military missions.
Royal United Services Institute hosts 'Defence Implications of Brexit'RUSI hosts 'Defence Implications of Brexit'. The conference "explores how the UK and EU can maintain a long-standing defence and security relationship after Brexit."
During the conference, RUSI plays a piece of video of Prof. Beatrice Heuser of the University of Reading, who says:
This is the earliest document that I can find that actually proposes European cooperation and integration: Clement Attlee, British Prime Minister. I haven't found an earlier document in the European archives.
At the same conference, the European Council on Foreign Relations' Nick Whitney calls for a joint Anglo-French nuclear deterrent.
Britain announces bilateral "defence pact" with GermanyTheresa May announces that Britain and Germany will form a defence pact immediately following formal invocation of Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty.
The Ministry of Defence says it is working with Germany ''on a joint vision statement on future co-operation''.
UK and Netherlands agree closer defence tiesDefence Secretary Michael Fallon agrees a joint vision statement - a commitment to strengthen co-operation in areas including hybrid and cyber warfare and counter-terrorism - with Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, Minister of Defence for the Netherlands.
The agreement will include a pledge to work more closely across defence and security policy, intelligence and joint exercises. It will also see the exchange of personnel and work towards a UK-Netherlands Amphibious Force.
European Council calls for the launch of a permanent structured cooperationAt the June European Council, EU leaders agree on the need to launch an inclusive and ambitious permanent structured cooperation (PESCO) to strengthen Europe's security and defence.
Within three months, member states will agree a common list of criteria and commitments, together with concrete capability projects, in order to start this cooperation.
"It is a historic step, because such cooperation will allow the EU to move towards deeper integration in defence. Our aim is for it to be ambitious and inclusive, so every EU country is invited to join," says Donald Tusk at the European Council press conference.
UK Government publishes "Foreign policy, defence and development" Brexit White PaperUK Government publishes "Foreign policy, defence and development".
Despite "Brexit", the U.K. will continue its contribution to CSDP missions and operations if it can participate in both the mandate development and detailed operational planning stages of the process (PESCO).
Boris Johnson and Michael Fallon meet Polish counterparts to progress Defence and Security Cooperation TreatyDefence Secretary Michael Fallon and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson meet their Polish counterparts to discuss security and defence cooperation.
Fallon and Polish Defence Minister Macierewicz discuss increasing military ties and co-operation, including working towards a ''Defence Capability and Industrial Partnership'' to strengthen cooperation between the UK and Polish defence industries.
They also discuss the Defence and Security Cooperation Treaty, which the Prime Minister will sign at the next UK-Poland Inter-Governmental meeting in December.
Boris Johnson meets Foreign Ministers at Chevening HouseBoris Johnson is joined by the foreign ministers of Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia at Chevening House to discuss ''shared challenges'' and the UK's ''continued commitment'' to EU security and defence.
European Council Discuss PESCOHeads of state or government resume discussions on the permanent structured cooperation (PESCO) on defence at the European Council meeting, attended by Theresa May.
Donald Tusk announces EU TreasuryDuring opening statements by the European Council and European Commission to assess the state of Brexit negotiations, Donald Tusk announces his determination to create a European Monetary Fund, part an EU Treasury:
I will do everything in my power to take the first very concrete steps, by June , towards establishing the European Monetary Fund and strengthening the stability of the Banking Union. I still believe that it is possible. In June it will become clear if I am in incurable optimist, but one thing I can promise you today: if we don't reach agreement by June, I will say precisely why it wasn't possible, and who is responsible.
Jean-Claude Juncker announces creation of EU Finance Minister roleJean-Claude Juncker announces publication of the European Commission Work Programme 2018 "with a 2025 perspective". In it he announces "a deeper and fairer economic and monetary union", including:
Completing the economic and monetary unionCompleting the banking unionCreation of a permanent and accountable European Minister of Economy and Finance Dutch Officer commands German Panzer Battalion for first timeA Dutch officer becomes commander of the German Army's Panzerbatallion (Tank Battalion) 414 for the first time. The Bundeswehr describes his command as ''historic'' and the Dutch Ministry of Defence says it is ''a next step'' in the integration of the Dutch Army's 43 Mechanised Brigade into the German 1st Panzer Division.
EU military established with signing of joint notification on PESCO23 member states sign a joint notification on Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO), establishing an EU military and single point budget. Signatory nations are legally obliged to take part in PESCO operations, with no possibility of national electorates preventing national involvement.
The 23 nations are Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Croatia, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.
The UK does not sign. It is possible for the UK and other member states to join at a later stage.
European Defence Agency workshop on PESCO project proposalsMember States experts meet at the European Defence Agency (EDA) for a workshop to assess PESCO related project proposals. The workshop is co-chaired by the EDA and the EU Military Staff, making up the PESCO secretariat.
The aim of the workshop is to establish a technical expert-level common understanding on:
the scope of PESCO related project proposalsthe practical aspects of implementing these projectsthe assessment methodology to be adopted for all PESCO projectsthe proposed way aheadDespite not signing the PESCO Joint Notification, the United Kingdom participates.
House of Commons Library publishes PESCO briefing paperThe title of the report is "EU Defence: the realisation of Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO)"
The report states the UK position on PESCO as:
The UK Government did not sign the Joint Notification on 13 November 2017. As such it will remain outside of PESCO. In doing so the UK will have no decision making rights over PESCO governance or any veto over the future strategic direction of PESCO, which has been openly acknowledged as greater EU integration in the field of defence.
Federica Mogherini opens European Defence Agency Annual ConferenceThe European Defence Agency Annual Conference 2017 entitled 'Security in the digital age: the added value of European cooperation' is opened by the Head of the Agency, Federica Mogherini.
Addressing a 400-strong audience representing the whole European defence spectrum - governments, armed forces, industry, EU institutions, NATO, think tanks and media - Mrs Mogherini says the conference is taking place ''at the most important moment for European defence in decades'' with bold new initiatives such as the Coordinated Annual Review on Defence (CARD), the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) and the European Defence Fund (EDF) creating an unprecedented momentum for enhanced cooperation.
Today, we are building a European Union of security and defence. It's not a plan, not a dream anymore, but a reality (...) All the building blocks of a security and defence union are finally there.
NATO Foreign Ministers Meeting focusses on EU Defence CooperationNATO foreign ministers meet in Brussels seeking to increase cooperation with the European Union.
Stoltenberg says foreign ministers, including Boris Johnson, would explore means of expanding cooperation - which is already at ''an unprecedented level'' - between NATO and the European Union.
Two more countries join PESCO, bringing the total to 25Ireland and Portugal declare that they will join the EU's Permanent Structured Cooperation, bringing the total number of member states involved to 25.
This raised huge questions for Ireland over its historic neutrality.
European Council establishes Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO)The European Council formally adopts a decision establishing Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO), less than a month after receiving a joint notification by member states of their intention to participate.
The 25 member states participating in PESCO are: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Croatia, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Spain and Sweden.
European Council agrees its position on the European Defence Industrial Development Programme The European Council agrees its position (general approach) on the proposed regulation which will establish the European Defence Industrial Development Programme (EDIDP).
According to J¼ri Luik, Estonian Minister for Defence:
European security is a core priority for our citizens. This is now being matched with a real increase in defence cooperation among EU members. The European Defence Industrial Development Programme will make our defence industry more competitive and innovative. This is crucial both for the security of our citizens and for the viability of our industry.
UK-France Summit 2018 held at SandhurstThe 35th UK France Summit is held at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst. Theresa May and Emmanuel Macron agree significant further tightening of Franco British relations, including the creation of a UK-France Defence Ministerial Council, creating a permanent and regular forum in which UK and French Defence cooperation can be discussed by the two Defence Ministers.
Theresa May says:
The President and I agree on the importance of the UK-France relationship, not just to our security but to European security ... It is incumbent upon us to demonstrate leadership in meeting the great challenges of our time, and upholding the international rules-based system.
UK and Germany work towards stronger defence relationshipDefence Secretary Gavin Williamson hosts his German counterpart Ursula Von der Leyen in the UK for the first time. They meet to discuss strengthening defence ties. Gavin Williamson ssys:
The UK and Germany face the same intensifying threats to our way of life and we work closely together to protect our citizens from harm.
Germany is one of our closest allies and I look forward to even closer cooperation.
Theresa May refuses to confirm Britain will remain a 'top tier' military powerReports across mainstream media of 'clashes' between Theresa May and Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson over the question of Britain's status as a defence power.
A 'Tier One' defence power is one with full spectrum capability from conventional forces across all services to nuclear weapons. Her refusal to confirm Britain as a top tier power lends credence to suggestions of a merging of British and French nuclear deterrents.
Department for Exiting the EU publishes 'Technical Note' on defenceThe Department for Exiting the EU publishes its 'Technical Note' on defence which spells out the Government's ambitions for a 'deep and special partnership' with the EU in Defence and Security after Brexit.
Gavin Williamson signs Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF) Comprehensive Memorandum of UnderstandingDefence Secretary Gavin Williamson signs the Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF) Comprehensive Memorandum of Understanding alongside counterparts from the eight partner nations.
The agreement marks the end of the establishment of the JEF framework and is a key milestone in preparing the force for action.
Made up of nine northern European allies Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, The Netherlands, Norway and Sweden, the MoD says:
The JEF is more than a simple grouping of military capabilities. It represents the unbreakable partnership between UK and our like-minded northern European allies, born from shared operational experiences and an understanding of the threats and challenges we face today.
EU NATO issue Joint Declaration on future co-operationJoint Declaration on EU-NATO Cooperation is published by the President of the European Council, the President of the European Commission, and the Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.
It welcomes "EU efforts to bolster European security and defence to better protect the Union and its citizens and to contribute to peace and stability in the neighbourhood and beyond. The Permanent Structured Cooperation and the European Defence Fund contribute to these objectives."
Franco-British Council holds its seventh Defence ConferenceThe Franco British Council holds its 7th Defence Conference at the Residence of the French Ambassador in London. Leading guests were invited to speak on the state and direction of the Franco-British Defence relationships.
The event is supported by the UK and French Ministries of Defence and is funded by the UK Ministry of Defence together with generous commercial sponsorship from MBDA.
Antoine Bouvier, CEO of MBDA, says:
The longstanding relationship between France and the UK in defence terms was one of the major factors leading to the creation of Matra Bae Dynamics in 1996 and MBDA in 2001 ... it was clear then as it is now, that the critical mass required to design, develop and produce the most advanced defence capabilities required by the armed forces of the two countries could never be obtained working independently.
David Davis Admits Knowledge of EU Military UnificationWhen challenged about the likelihood of the British military falling under control of the EU as part of military unification, former Brexit Secretary David Davis states under his breath:
They will be after next year.
UK Germany sign Joint Vision Statement on defence relationshipGavin Williamson, alongside his German counterpart Ursula von der Leyen, sign a 'Joint Vision Statement', deepening the "already strong UK-German relationship and increasing defence cooperation across a range of areas, from tackling violent extremism to building new military capabilities."
The 'Vision Statement' says:
We are determined to deepen and strengthen our relationship in order to achieve our common defence and security goals.
French President Emmanuel Macron calls for EU MilitaryEmmanuel Macron calls for the creation of a ''true European military''. He says:
We have to protect ourselves with regard to China, Russia and even the United States of America.
We will not protect Europeans unless we decide to have a true European Military.
Angela Merkel calls for 'real, true' European armyAngela Merkel calls for 'real, true' European army days after Emmanuel Macron's demands for EU military. She says:
We should work on a vision of one day establishing a real, true European army ... Such an army would not undermine the US-led military alliance NATO but could be complementary to it.
Guy Verhosftadt: EU Military Unification is 'our project'Guy Verhofstadt, MEP and leader of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe tells that organisation that EU Military Unification is 'our project' during a speech in which he decries the fact that the EU has only 10-15% of the efficiency of the US military, despite having 45% of the budget.
Insight: EU Military UnificationRecorded in August 2016, Mike Robinson and Patrick Henningsen speak to David Ellis from Strategic Defence Initiatives and Brian Gerrish from the UK Column about EU Military Unification.
What has the Franco British Council been doing to help us get along with the French in a charitable way?
On Monday 24 November 2017, Strategic Defence Initiatives UK submitted the following report to the Defence Select Committee of the House of Commons.
It appears to be easier to tell the truth about EU military union in Rotterdam than in London.
Today was an "historic" day, according to EU High Representative Federica Mogherini. Today she got her military, her single point military budget, and her ability to prosecute wars overseas without the need to get the approval of national electorates.
The government and mainstream media here in Britain would have us believe Brexit is a chaotic disaster. Yet, behind the scenes, the military unification policy is progressing as planned, and at pace.
The top brass offer highly unconvincing explanations for the brand destruction of the British military.
A briefing by Strategic Defence Initiatives on the EU's subversion of the British military.
LONG READ: Under cover of the Brexit trade negotiations, the real trade deal has just happened. Nobody said anything about it; nobody knew about it.
Strategic Defence Initiatives' submission to MPs describes at length how HM Armed Forces have been betrayed, how they are being denied workable British equipment by MoD policy, and how they continue to be amalgamated into EU military union despite the irrelevance of Brexit.
British Defence Secretary Michael Fallon met his German counterpart yesterday to firm up Britain's defence ''partnership'' with Germany.
Not an "EU Army" but EU military union: The EU is desperately requiring control of its member states' militaries and budgets. Nobody in Parliament is bothering to mention this.
Javid's military gaff was a golden nugget for those watching treason unfold at UK government level - and no ifs or buts - to leave the nation defenceless is treason....
We are to be stripped of the military power to act alone, our military command and control structures are to be weakened and confused by French 'collaboration' and 'partnering', and we are to be stripped of nuclear weapons. The security of Britain is being destroyed under the cloak of Cameron's Franco British Defence Treaty.
World War 3: Putin re-opening Soviet military base in Cuba | Daily Star
Concern has been raised among the West that the plans are Russian retaliation after the US announced it was pulling out of the bilateral Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.
According to The Jamestown Foundation '' a Washington DC-based institute for research and analysis, founded in 1984 as a platform to support Soviet defectors '' the re-opening of the base would "duplicate rather than significantly add to Russian abilities to monitor US activities in the Caribbean".
But the think-tank warns: "If the Kremlin leader should decide to establish additional bases in Cuba, as some Russian commentators are now suggesting, that would be a different matter altogether'--particularly if he succeeds in this goal."
THREAT: Putin could be re-opening several bases in Cuba (Pic: GETTY)
SOVIET: The base opened under the Soviet era and closes in 2002 (Pic: GETTY)
The move by Russian president Vladimir Putin comes with strengthening ties between Moscow and Havana.
Cuban president Miguel Daz-Canel met with Putin in Moscow and said he wanted to give ''a new impulse'' to bilateral relations.
The leaders discussed matters such as healthcare and tourism, but also military cooperation as well.
The Jamestown Foundation added: "This led to speculation in both Russia and the West that this meant Moscow was about to reopen the Lourdes monitoring site that it closed 16 years ago, and possibly open additional bases on the island as well."
Related Articles Former Prime Minister found GUILTY of genocide four decades after two million killed Royal Navy warship HMS St Albans scrambled as Russian vessels prowl English Channel WW3: American warship 'heads towards Syria' as Russia accuses US of 'illegal bombing' This was coupled with Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov, who oversees Russia's military-industrial complex and military-technical relations with foreign countries, visiting Cuba.
The two countries agreed on contracts worth more than $265million in the military sphere alone, according to Russian paper Nezavisimaya Gazeta.
Russian military expert who served in Cuba in the 1980s, Lieutenant Colonel Aleksandr Ovchinnikov, said ''the deepening of cooperation between Moscow and Havana was entirely expected".
He added it is especially so given US President Donald Trump's threat to leave the INF treaty.
RESOURCES: Russia may not have the resources to develop 'major bases' (Pic: GETTY)
MISSILE CRISIS: The opening of bases in Cuba is more worrying because of history (Pic: GETTY)
But he stressed that the Kremlin may not have the resources to develop any "major military bases in Cuba".
The 1987 INF treaty means neither Russia nor the US is allowed to build ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges of 500 to 5,500km (310 to 3,417miles).
But the US claims Russia has been violating the deal by building a new cruise missile.
And now it looks like the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) is caput, sparking fears of a new arms race between the superpowers.
The location of Putin opening bases on Cuba is especially alarming over the memory of the 1962 Cuban missile crisis in which the USSR was caught trying to ship nuclear missiles to Cuba - which is only 780km (484miles) from mainland America.
The incident is generally considered to be one of the most major crises in the Cold War and the closest that the two superpowers came to all-out nuclear war.
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Finland summons Russia ambassador over jammed GPS during NATO drills | Euronews
Helsinki have summoned Russia's ambassador to Finland, Pavel Kuznetsov, to sit down with State Secretary Matti Anttonen on Monday after accusing Moscow of interfering with their global positioning system (GPS) signal during NATO exercises.
The finnish foreign ministry said Thursday that the source of a large-scale GPS interruption last week in the north of the country came from Russian territory.
"We don't have anything to hide here. Disruption is a serious matter which disturbs civil aviation. We will act towards Russia, we will discuss this and we expect answers," Finnish Foreign Minister Timo Soini said in a statement to public broadcaster Yle.
Moscow have denied involvement.
Norway also reported a loss of its GPS signal in its own airspace when the NATO drills began in October.
Dubbed the 'biggest exercise since the end of the Cold War', more than 40,000 troops from over 30 NATO countries have been participating in the Trident Juncture war games, stretching from the Baltic Sea to Iceland.
Although not a member of NATO, Finland have been taking part in the exercises as an ally.
Congo Ebola Charcoal
Please keep me anonymous since I’m part of the Military
Listening to the latest episode, I thought I could shed a
bit of light on the illegal smuggling of charcoal out of Africa. I worked on a staff in a small island in the
Arabian Gulf a few years ago as part of a Navy Coalition, and charcoal
smuggling out of Somalia was something we tracked and tried to interdict.
When I first got there I was as surprised as you and John
were when I was sitting in a brief and people started talking about charcoal
smuggling. It’s a thing, and until this
episode I didn’t realize the DRC was involved, I was only aware of the Somalia
Keep me anonymous please - here’s an article from The
THE caf(C)s on Abu Dhabi's seafront fill as soon as the sun sets and the heat abates. Men gather around water pipes, smoking tobacco flavoured with melon, berry or perhaps even cappuccino. A thin boy scurries from table to table with a bucket of hot coals. Those enjoying such evening idylls may not know it, but their love of smoking shisha is fuelling a bloody insurgency more than 3,000km (1,864 miles) to the south, in Somalia.
The production and export of charcoal is an unlikely but important source of revenue for the Shabab, a militant group that rules swathes of Somalia and has been battling against troops from the African Union and the fragile Somali government. Charcoal made from Somali acacia trees is particularly prized in the Gulf, because it burns longer than alternatives from, say, Sudan or Nigeria. This quality comes at a price: Somali charcoal retails for about 15 dirham a kilogram ($1.85 per lb), compared with about 9 dirham for the inferior stuff.
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In 2012 the UN banned exports of Somali charcoal, yet the prohibition seems to have been observed mostly in the breach. Indeed, revenues earned by the Shabab have increased since the ban, say UN investigators. They reckon the Shabab took more than $25m off trade worth as much as $384m in the year to May, through ''taxes'' imposed on the transport of charcoal and ''shareholdings'' in the smuggling business. Charcoal exports are one leg of a circular trade that pays for the imports of weapons from Yemen, a short hop by boat across the Gulf of Aden.
On October 5th African peacekeepers and Somali forces captured Barawe, the Shabab's last major port, which lies between Kismayo and the capital, Mogadishu. But the victory may not much dent the Shabab's charcoal revenues. Most of the trade had already been shifted south to Kismayo. One reason may be that, when it comes to sharing the profits from charcoal, bitter enemies can quickly turn into unacknowledged friends. The UN investigators claim, in a report presented to the UN Security Council, that profits from Kismayo's exports are divided between rebels, the region's government and members of the Kenyan army'--which has guarded the port since its capture from the Shabab in 2012.
Ports are but one link in a long supply chain that is taxed by the Shabab and other middlemen, including the regional government. At one end are the groups of men, 10-20 strong, who are hired by charcoal traders to cut down acacia trees, some of which are 500 years old. One consequence is massive deforestation and desertification across Somalia, forcing nomadic herders off their lands.
The wood is then hauled by donkey cart to crude kilns dug into the earth, where it is partially burnt for up to ten days before being allowed to cool for another ten. The people doing this hard labour see few of the rewards.
Much of this charcoal is loaded onto small dhows, often owned by Indians, and larger merchant ships. It is then taken to various Gulf destinations, including the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Oman, often under false paperwork. Shipping charcoal from Somalia is not without its risks, given the prevalence of another sort of illegal activity'--piracy. UN investigators found two instances in which ships carrying illegal cargoes of Somali charcoal were hijacked off the coast of Barawe.
The continued trade is prompting some countries to argue for the imposition of tougher measures. One idea is for international anti-piracy naval forces to stop and search vessels leaving Somali waters. Better, however, may be the proper enforcement of sanctions in the Gulf states where, for the time being at least, compliance with the UN ban is about as substantial as the smoke issuing from a shisha.
'We were told he did not play a role', Trump says of MbS despite CIA conclusion | Euronews
The US President continues to question Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's role in Jamal Khashoggi's death, despite the CIA concluding Friday that MbS ordered his killing.
''As of this moment, we were told that he did not play a role,'' Trump told reporters outside the White House Saturday, as he prepared to fly to California and meet people affected by wildfires which have swept the state.
''We're going to have to find out what they say,'' he added, saying he had not been briefed yet on the matter.
Trump then went on to hail Saudi Arabia as a ''great ally'', saying ''they give us a lot of jobs and a lot of business and economic development. They have been a truly spectacular ally in terms of jobs and economic development''.
His comments aligned with a statement released by the US State Department Saturday which said ''unanswered questions'' remained concerning Khashoggi's murder and a ''final conclusion'' had not been made by the government, despite ''inaccurate'' media reports to the contrary.
Spokeswoman Heather Nauert added that the US would however pursue justice "while maintaining the important strategic relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia".
Khashoggi, a Saudi Washington Post columnist and critic of Riyadh's royal family, was killed at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2.
The CIA's finding tying Saudi Arabia's de facto ruler to his death was disputed by the Saudi embassy in Washington Friday, who claimed their assessment was ''false''. They added: ''We have and continue to hear various theories without seeing the primary basis for these speculations''.
CIA Concludes Saudi Journalist Was Killed on Crown Prince's Order - WSJ
WASHINGTON'--The Central Intelligence Agency has concluded that the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was carried out under the orders of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, a close ally of President Trump, U.S. officials familiar with the matter said.
The determination by the top U.S. spy agency could endanger President Trump's efforts to protect relations with the crown prince and Saudi Arabia more generally. Mr. Trump said Saturday he expected to receive a briefing from the CIA later in the day.
The president said they would be ''taking a look'' at whether the crown prince is responsible for Mr. Khashoggi's death. ''As of this moment, we were told that he did not play a role; we're going to have to find out what they say,'' he said while departing the White House for California.
One of the officials said on Friday that the spy agency's assessment isn't based on ''smoking gun'' evidence of the crown prince's involvement, but rather ''an understanding of how Saudi Arabia works.''
''This would not and could not have happened'' without Prince Mohammed's involvement, the official said.
Saudi Arabia has denied that Prince Mohammed had any prior knowledge of the killing. On Thursday, the country's public prosecutor said there was no top-down order to kill Mr. Khashoggi, and said he would seek the death penalty against five suspects in the case.
A spokeswoman for the Saudi Embassy in Washington said in a statement on Friday: ''The claims in this purported assessment are false. We have and continue to hear various theories without seeing the primary basis for these speculations.''
A CIA spokesman declined to comment. The CIA assessment was first reported Friday by the Washington Post.
In a statement Saturday, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said: ''Recent reports indicating that the U.S. government has made a final conclusion are inaccurate. There remain numerous unanswered questions with respect to the murder of Mr. Khashoggi. The State Department will continue to seek all relevant facts.''
Mr. Trump and aides have denounced the Oct. 2 killing of Mr. Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, but the president has avoided personally blaming Prince Mohammed, who runs Saudi Arabia on a day-to-day basis. The president has sought to safeguard important aspects of Washington's ties with the kingdom'--including American arms sales to Riyadh.
''You know, we also have a great ally in Saudi Arabia,'' Mr. Trump said on Saturday. ''They give us a lot of jobs and a lot of business and economic development. They have been a truly spectacular ally in terms of jobs and economic development.''
The CIA disclosure also came after Turkish officials on Friday said they have more audio evidence proving that Mr. Khashoggi's death was the result of a planned execution.
Turkish officials said that, in addition to an audio recording that captured Mr. Khashoggi's dying moments, Turkish investigators have other audio evidence and phone intercepts that contradict the Saudi version of events.
One recording captured the Saudi operatives rehearsing how they would proceed with the killing minutes before Mr. Khashoggi entered the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2, according to a senior Turkish official.
''The assessment that the Crown Prince ordered the murder is not surprising but it significantly undermines the administration's effort to whitewash the Saudi prince,'' said Bruce Riedel, a former top CIA and White House official now at the Brookings Institution think tank.
''It raises the question why MbS has not been sanctioned by the Treasury Department,'' Mr. Riedel said in an email, using the crown prince's initials.
The Trump administration imposed sanctions on Thursday on 17 Saudis allegedly involved in the case. Prince Mohammed wasn't among them.
Congressional leaders were briefed on Thursday about U.S. intelligence on Mr. Khashoggi's killing, said people familiar with the matter.
Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, confirmed the briefing in remarks to The Wall Street Journal following a speaking engagement in Washington on Thursday evening.
Asked whether Prince Mohammed knew in advance of the killing, Mr. Warner said, referring to the Saudi government: ''All evidence is that it's a fairly tightly controlled command and control system.''
The Turkish government has steadily released evidence in Mr. Khashoggi's death, including recordings Turkish officials have said have been shared with CIA Director Gina Haspel. U.S. officials so far haven't confirmed that they have reviewed the Turkish evidence.
Earlier this week, White House national security adviser John Bolton said U.S. officials don't believe the evidence released so far connects the crown prince to Mr. Khashoggi's killing. ''That's not the conclusion that I think the people who heard it have come to,'' he said at a media briefing in Singapore on Tuesday.
Questions also have arisen over the role played by the Saudi ambassador to the U.S., Prince Khalid bin Salman, brother of the crown prince.
Before he went to the consulate in Istanbul, Mr. Khashoggi had been in regular contact with Prince Khalid, communicating via the WhatsApp online messaging service, according to people familiar with the communications.
In those exchanges, Prince Khalid assured Mr. Khashoggi that it would be safe to go the Saudi consulate in Istanbul and would be safe traveling to Saudi Arabia, the people familiar with the communications said. They said the communications between the two lasted over a period of months.
Saudi officials said there was nothing in the communications that would implicate the ambassador in Mr. Khashoggi's death.
''The ambassador met Jamal once in late September 2017 in person for a cordial discussion, and they communicated via text after the meeting, the last message sent by the Ambassador to him was on 26 of October 2017,'' the Saudi spokeswoman said. ''At no time did Prince Khalid discuss anything related to going to Turkey with Jamal.''
Prince Khalid left the U.S. in the midst of the furor over Khashoggi's killing. Current and former U.S. officials say his family has left as well, and they don't expect him to return.
'--David Gauthier-Villars, Margherita Stancati and Nancy A. Youssef contributed to this article.
Hey, Alexa, What Can You Hear? And What Will You Do With It? - The New York Times
Image Amazon's Super Bowl commercial for its Alexa digital assistant. Amazon and Google say that their devices record and process audio only after users trigger them and that privacy is a priority. Credit Credit Amazon, via YouTube Amazon ran a commercial on this year's Super Bowl that pretended its digital assistant Alexa had temporarily lost her voice. It featured celebrities like Rebel Wilson, Cardi B and even the company's chief executive, Jeff Bezos.
While the ad riffed on what Alexa can say to users, the more intriguing question may be what she and other digital assistants can hear '-- especially as more people bring smart speakers into their homes.
Amazon and Google, the leading sellers of such devices, say the assistants record and process audio only after users trigger them by pushing a button or uttering a phrase like ''Hey, Alexa'' or ''O.K., Google.'' But each company has filed patent applications, many of them still under consideration, that outline an array of possibilities for how devices like these could monitor more of what users say and do. That information could then be used to identify a person's desires or interests, which could be mined for ads and product recommendations.
In one set of patent applications, Amazon describes how a ''voice sniffer algorithm'' could be used on an array of devices, like tablets and e-book readers, to analyze audio almost in real time when it hears words like ''love,'' bought'' or ''dislike.'' A diagram included with the application illustrated how a phone call between two friends could result in one receiving an offer for the San Diego Zoo and the other seeing an ad for a Wine of the Month Club membership.
Some patent applications from Google, which also owns the smart home product maker Nest Labs, describe how audio and visual signals could be used in the context of elaborate smart home setups.
One application details how audio monitoring could help detect that a child is engaging in ''mischief'' at home by first using speech patterns and pitch to identify a child's presence, one filing said. A device could then try to sense movement while listening for whispers or silence, and even program a smart speaker to ''provide a verbal warning.''
A separate application regarding personalizing content for people while respecting their privacy noted that voices could be used to determine a speaker's mood using the ''volume of the user's voice, detected breathing rate, crying and so forth,'' and medical condition ''based on detected coughing, sneezing and so forth.''
The same application outlines how a device could ''recognize a T-shirt on a floor of the user's closet'' bearing Will Smith's face and combine that with a browser history that shows searches for Mr. Smith ''to provide a movie recommendation that displays, 'You seem to like Will Smith. His new movie is playing in a theater near you.'''
In a statement, Amazon said the company took ''privacy seriously'' and did ''not use customers' voice recordings for targeted advertising.'' Amazon said that it filed ''a number of forward-looking patent applications that explore the full possibilities of new technology,'' and that they ''take multiple years to receive and do not necessarily reflect current developments to products and services.''
Google said it did not ''use raw audio to extrapolate moods, medical conditions or demographic information.'' The company added, ''All devices that come with the Google Assistant, including Google Home, are designed with user privacy in mind.''
Tech companies apply for a dizzying number of patents every year, many of which are never used and are years from even being possible.
Still, Jamie Court, the president of Consumer Watchdog, a nonprofit advocacy group in Santa Monica, Calif., which published a study of some of the patent applications in December, said, ''When you read parts of the applications, it's really clear that this is spyware and a surveillance system meant to serve you up to advertisers.''
Image A diagram included with an Amazon patent application showed how a phone call between friends could be used to identify their interests. Credit United States Patent and Trademark Office The companies, Mr. Court added, are ''basically going to be finding out what our home life is like in qualitative ways.''
Google called Consumer Watchdog's claims ''unfounded,'' and said, ''Prospective product announcements should not necessarily be inferred from our patent applications.''
A recent Gallup poll found that 22 percent of Americans used devices like Google Home or Amazon Echo. The growing adoption of smart speakers means that gadgets, some of which contain up to eight microphones and a camera, are being placed in kitchens and bedrooms and used to answer questions, control appliances and make phone calls. Apple recently introduced its own version, called the HomePod.
But many consumers are also becoming increasingly nervous that tech companies are eavesdropping on them in order to serve them targeted ads, no matter how often the companies deny it. The recent revelations that a British political data firm, Cambridge Analytica, improperly harvested the information of 50 million Facebook users has only added to the public's wariness over the collection and use of personal information.
Facebook, in fact, had planned to unveil its new internet-connected home products at a developer conference in May, according to Bloomberg News, which reported that the company had scuttled that idea partly in response to the recent fallout.
Both Amazon and Google have emphasized that devices with Alexa and Google Assistant store voice recordings from users only after they are intentionally triggered. Amazon's Echo and its newer smart speakers with screens use lights to show when they are streaming audio to the cloud, and consumers can view and delete their recordings on the Alexa smartphone app or on Amazon's website (though they are warned online that ''may degrade'' their experience). Google Home also has a light that indicates when it is recording, and users can similarly see and delete that audio online.
Amazon says voice recordings may help fulfill requests and improve its services, while Google says the data helps it learn over time to provide better, more personalized responses.
But the ecosystem around voice data is still evolving.
And some devices have already shown that they are capable of recording more than what users expect. Google faced some embarrassment last fall when a batch of Google Home Minis that it distributed at company events and to journalists were almost constantly recording.
In a starker example, detectives investigating a death at an Arkansas home sought access to audio on an Echo device in 2016. Amazon resisted, but the recordings were ultimately shared with the permission of the defendant, James Bates. (A judge later dismissed Mr. Bates's first-degree murder charge based on separate evidence.)
Kathleen Zellner, his lawyer, said in an interview that the Echo had been recording more than it was supposed to. Mr. Bates told her that it had been regularly lighting up without being prompted, and had logged conversations that were unrelated to Alexa commands, including a conversation about football in a separate room, she said.
''It was just extremely sloppy the way the activation occurred,'' Ms. Zellner said.
The Electronic Privacy Information Center has recommended more robust disclosure rules for internet-connected devices, including an ''algorithmic transparency requirement'' that would help people understand how their data was being used and what automated decisions were then being made about them.
Sam Lester, the center's consumer privacy fellow, said he believed that the abilities of new smart home devices highlighted the need for United States regulators to get more involved with how consumer data was collected and used.
''A lot of these technological innovations can be very good for consumers,'' he said. ''But it's not the responsibility of consumers to protect themselves from these products any more than it's their responsibility to protect themselves from the safety risks in food and drugs. It's why we established a Food and Drug Administration years ago.''
Correction:Because of an editing error, an earlier version of this article misstated Jeff Bezos's role in Amazon's Super Bowl ad. He was trying to figure out what to do when Alexa lost her voice; he did not fill in for her.
Contact Sapna Maheshwari at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter: @sapna.
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-BIOMETRICS-Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency | Homeland Security
On November 16, 2018, President Trump signed into law the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Act of 2018. This landmark legislation elevates the mission of the former National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD) within DHS and establishes the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA).
CISA leads the national effort to defend critical infrastructure against the threats of today, while working with partners across all levels of government and in the private sector to secure against the evolving risks of tomorrow.The name CISA brings recognition to the work being done, improving its ability to engage with partners and stakeholders, and recruit top cybersecurity talent.What Does CISA Do?CISA is responsible for protecting the Nation's critical infrastructure from physical and cyber threats. This mission requires effective coordination and collaboration among a broad spectrum of government and private sector organizations.
Proactive Cyber ProtectionCISA's National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC) provides 24x7 cyber situational awareness, analysis, incident response and cyber defense capabilities to the Federal government; state, local, tribal and territorial governments; the private sector and international partners.CISA provides cybersecurity tools, incident response services and assessment capabilities to safeguard the '.gov' networks that support the essential operations of partner departments and agencies.Infrastructure ResilienceCISA coordinates security and resilience efforts using trusted partnerships across the private and public sectors, and delivers training, technical assistance, and assessments to federal stakeholders as well as to infrastructure owners and operators nationwide.CISA provides consolidated all-hazards risk analysis for U.S. critical infrastructure through the National Risk Management Center.Emergency CommunicationsCISA enhances public safety interoperable communications at all levels of government, providing training, coordination, tools and guidance to help partners across the country develop their emergency communications capabilities.Working with stakeholders across the country, CISA conducts extensive, nationwide outreach to support and promote the ability of emergency response providers and relevant government officials to continue to communicate in the event of natural disasters, acts of terrorism, and other man-made disasters.Organizational Changes Related to the CISA ActThe CISA Act establishes three divisions in the new agency: Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Security and Emergency Communications.
The Act transfers the Office of Biometrics Identity Management (OBIM) to DHS's Management Directorate. Placement within the DHS Headquarters supports expanded collaboration and ensures OBIM's capabilities are available across the DHS enterprise and the interagency.The bill provides the Secretary of Homeland Security the flexibility to determine an alignment of the Federal Protective Service (FPS) that best supports its critical role of protecting federal employees and securing federal facilities across the nation and territories. Last Published Date: November 16, 2018
Newborn DNA Banking | American Civil Liberties Union
The DNA of virtually every newborn in the United States is collected and tested soon after birth. There are some good reasons for this testing, but it also raises serious privacy concerns that parents should know about.
States require hospitals to screen newborns for certain genetic and other disorders. Many states view the testing as so important they do not require medical personnel to get parents' express permission before carrying it out. To collect the DNA sample, medical personnel prick the newborn's heel and place a few drops of blood on a card. There is one question that new parents rarely ask: What happens to the blood spots after the testing is done? This is where newborn screening becomes problematic.
It used to be that after the screening was completed the blood spots were destroyed. Not anymore. Today it is increasingly common for states to hold onto these samples for years, even permanently. Some states also use the samples for unrelated purposes, such as in scientific research, and give access to the samples to others.
The ACLU believes that parents have the right to know before the state stores their child's blood and allows it to be used by researchers and others. The ACLU also believes that parents have the right to decide whether to allow their child's blood to be used in this way. We are working to make sure that every parent is given the opportunity to make these important decisions for their child, and is given enough information to make an educated decision.
>> Read our comments on this issue to the Secretary's Advisory Committee on Heritable Disorders in Newborns and Children.
Snowflakes too SCARED to cause a scene! Half of 16-24 year-olds wouldn't complain about bad service | Daily Mail Online
Young people are so afraid that complaining will be perceived as causing a scene that fewer than half would speak out about bad service in a restaurant, a major study has found.
Just 46 per cent of 16-24 year olds would complain about things like a rude waiter or a cold meal, versus 71 per cent of the over 55s - who see speaking about out poor service as a matter of empowerment.
Three out of four Brits said they have put off complaining entirely at one point or another, and failing to speak up for themselves costs people around £275 a year.
The poll, by the Financial Conduct Authority, found 15 million people in Britain routinely fail to get refunds or replacements, and don't get their problems solved, because they don't know how to complain or do not feel it is appropriate to complain - even when things go wrong.
Is complaining a dying art? Just 46 per cent of 16-24 year olds would complain about bas service in a restaurant versus 71 per cent of the over 55s
The FCA's study, conducted last month, revealed the vast majority of people have avoided making a complaint altogether (75 per cent) or have put off complaining (73 per cent).
Consumers estimated they missed out on £275 each in the last year by not taking a stand on issues from incorrect deliveries to refunds for transport delays. The average amount people told researchers they had missed out on because they hadn't complained when they could have, over the last three months, was £68.65.
Top 10 things people want to complain about '' but don't1. People who queue jump
2. A poor meal when eating out
3. Being ignored by a shop assistant
4. A parcel arriving late
5. Travel delays
6. Inadequate service in a shop
7. Smoking in a public place
8. Someone playing loud music on public transport
9. People who take up extra space on public transport
10. A haircut you were unhappy with
And researchers discovered the top pet peave among people who find themselves muttering to themselves rather than speaking up was queue jumping - followed by poor service in restaurants and shops.
The government body commissioned the research ahead of next August's deadline to apply for compensation if you have been mis-sold PPI, amid concerns many could miss out on money that was taken from them without their informed consent.
People aged 25-34 were found to be twice as likely as the over-55s to delay so much they miss their chance entirely.
The poll of 3,000 people concluded the art of complaining may be at risk of dying out, with younger generations the least likely to be proactive about getting problems resolved or their money back.
Fewer than half (46 per cent) of 16-24 year olds would complain about bad service in a restaurant, versus 71 per cent of over 55s.
Those aged 16-24 wait more than a week on average to complain about an issue, but the over-55s speak up within two and a half days.
It may be that differing perceptions of complaining among different generations mean it is a dying art.
More than a quarter of people in their teens and twenties told researchers they think complaining is 'making a scene' but 68 per cent of older people see it as a matter of sticking up for their rights
Younger people are more likely to see it as critical and 'causing a scene' than their parents, who associate it more with empowerment '' taking a stand or making a protest.
Just two in five (44 per cent) of the under 35s relate complaining to 'getting a good deal', compared with 68 per cent of over 55s.
In contrast, more than a quarter (27 per cent) associate it with 'awkwardness', compared to just one-in-ten (11 per cent) of over 55s.
Fashion presenter Gok Wan told the FCA that complaining, like fashion, is 'about being fearless'
Consumer confidence champion, Gok Wan, told the FCA: 'As a nation we tend to shy away from sticking up for ourselves, even when we feel we've been given a raw deal. But, just like fashion, complaining is all about feeling fearless!'
Andrew Bailey, Chief Executive of the FCA, said: 'Almost three quarters of us wish we were better at complaining and the same number say it's important to them to be treated fairly.
'With time running out to claim for mis-sold PPI, we want to make sure everyone feels empowered to check and complain before the deadline on 29 August 2019.'
Researchers concluded people's top regret about not complaining is how it affected them emotionally.
To avoid missing out on your chance to claim back mis-sold PPI, get help with how to check and complain online at fca.org.uk/ppi or by calling the FCA helpline on 0800 101 8800.
Pentagon fails its first-ever audit, official says | Reuters
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Pentagon has failed what is being called its first-ever comprehensive audit, a senior official said on Thursday, finding U.S. Defense Department accounting discrepancies that could take years to resolve.
The Pentagon in Washington, U.S., is seen from aboard Air Force One, March 29, 2018. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas - RC125AF3E6D0
Results of the inspection - conducted by some 1,200 auditors and examining financial accounting on a wide range of spending including on weapons systems, military personnel and property - were expected to be completed later in the day.
''We failed the audit, but we never expected to pass it,'' Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan told reporters, adding that the findings showed the need for greater discipline in financial matters within the Pentagon.
''It was an audit on a $2.7 trillion dollar organization, so the fact that we did the audit is substantial,'' Shanahan added.
The U.S. defense budget for the 2018 fiscal year that ended on Sept. 30 was about $700 billion. The Pentagon is a huge agency with multiple branches of the military, costly weapons systems, large personnel needs, numerous military bases of various sizes at home and abroad and troops deployed in far-flung locales.
Shanahan said areas the Pentagon must improve upon based on the audit results include compliance with cybersecurity policies and improving inventory accuracy. In a briefing with reporters, he did not provide a figure detailing how much money was unaccounted for in the audit.
It was unclear what consequences there would be after the audit, but Shanahan said the focus would be on fixing the issues.
''We need to develop our plans to address the findings and actually put corrective actions in place,'' Shanahan said.
''Some of the compliance issues are irritating to me. ... The point of the audit is to drive better discipline in our compliance with our management systems and procedures,'' Shanahan added.
A 1990 federal law mandated that U.S. government agencies be audited, but the Pentagon had not faced a comprehensive audit until this one was launched in December.
Defense officials and outside experts have said it may be years before the Pentagon is able to fix its accounting gaps and errors and pass an audit.
''To clarify, the audit is not a 'pass-fail' process. We did not receive an 'adverse' finding - the lowest possible category - in any area,'' U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Buccino, a Pentagon spokesman, said in an email.
''We did receive findings of 'disclaimer' in multiple areas. Clearly more work lies ahead of us,'' Buccino added.
Reporting by Idrees Ali and Mike Stone; Editing by Will Dunham
Ocasio-Cortez gets in closed-door fight with veteran lawmaker over climate change - POLITICO
Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez earlier this week pushed for a ''Green New Deal'' as she backed more than 200 young protesters at House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's office. | Carolyn Kaster/AP Photo
A fight broke out in a closed-door meeting of House Democrats over climate change as a powerful veteran lawmaker fought with freshman star Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other members-elect over the creation of a special panel for the issue.
New Jersey Rep. Frank Pallone, incoming chairman of the powerful Energy and Commerce Committee '-- backed by a number of other committee members '-- slammed the creation of the new climate panel, according to multiple sources in the room. Pallone argued that his committee and other existing panels within the House could take on the issue aggressively.
Story Continued Below
But Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.), Rep.-elect Joe Neguse (Colo.) and some of the other progressive incoming lawmakers fought back, saying they ran on the issue and needed to do it. Ocasio-Cortez earlier this week pushed for a ''Green New Deal'' as she backed more than 200 young protesters at House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's office.
Ocasio-Cortez later said it wasn't a direct confrontation with Pallone in a tweet late Thursday.
''I never even [had] a direct interaction with him today,'' she tweeted, ''and by direct interaction, I mean I didn't share a conversation. I did say hello and he is very kind.''
Watching it all from the sidelines was Pelosi, who has already called for reinstatement of the select panel that she first set more than a decade ago. Ocasio-Cortez has praised Pelosi for reinstating the special committee, even though she wants it to have far broader authority to craft legislation remaking the U.S. energy grid.
''We need to act on climate change NOW w/ a *fossil fuel $-free* Select Committee *with a mandate* to draft a Green New Deal,'' Ocasio-Cortez tweeted earlier Thursday. ''It's our best chance to beat the clock.''
Watching it all from the sidelines was Pelosi, who has already called for reinstatement of the select panel that she first set more than a decade ago. Ocasio-Cortez has praised Pelosi for reinstating the special committee, even though she wants it to have far broader authority to craft legislation remaking the U.S. energy grid.
Pallone declined to comment on what happened during the closed-door meeting, but further explained why he opposes the select committee.
''My fear is that if you have a select committee, by the time the select committee gets going, gets appointed and hires staff that it might actually delay what we're doing,'' the New Jersey Democrat told reporters. ''We've got people who are in charge of these committees who are very progressive and I just don't see the need for the select committee. I think it may actually delay what the progressives are trying to achieve.''
Ocasio-Cortez's chief of staff, Saikat Chakrabarti, was not in the meeting but said he heard it included "a pretty lively discussion" of climate change. Chakrabarti said Pelosi's office has been in touch about how to "merge" some of Ocasio-Cortez's proposals into the plan for the new committee.
''So far [Pelosi] is pushing to have the conversation,'' Chakrabarti said. ''They seem pretty excited about this as well. I'm really hoping we can get this done together.''
Chakrabarti said reviving the panel could provide another forum for discussing legislation along the lines of the ''Green New Deal'' concept Ocasio-Cortez floated Tuesday. He said Ocasio-Cortez's staff has reached out to the Congressional Progressive Caucus and the House Rules Committee to advocate including it in the rules package governing the new Democratic-led House.
A senior Democratic aide said the proposal discussed at today's meeting was to establish a committee resembling the one that existed between 2007 and 2011.
''A draft proposal was presented today to the caucus that includes Pelosi's recommendation of reinstating the select panel on climate that existed the last time dems were in the majority,'' the aide said in an email.
Ocasio-Cortez has become a media sensation since she defeated Rep. Joe Crowley, seen by some as a potential future speaker, in a June primary. She said Thursday that climate change is an ''important'' factor in her vote for speaker.
Other chairmen-in-waiting, including Natural Resources ranking member Raºl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Transportation ranking member Peter DeFazio, have also questioned whether the climate committee is necessary.
''I don't know that we need another panel,'' DeFazio told POLITICO.
Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.) said ''a vast majority'' of the caucus supports the aims Ocasio-Cortez and her allies laid out, but that it's just a question of whether working through the standard committee structure is more effective.
''I think that it's great that [Ocasio-Cortez] put that down,'' he told POLITICO. ''People appreciate her emphasis on that, but people also believe we have not allowed the committee structure to work in an open and fair way.''
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(C) The Associated Press This combination of May 20, 2018, photos shows Georgia gubernatorial candidates Stacey Abrams, left, and Brian Kemp in Atlanta. (AP Photos/John Amis, File) ATLANTA (AP) '-- Democrat Stacey Abrams ended 10 days of post-election drama in Georgia's closely watched and even more closely contested race for governor Friday, acknowledging Republican Brian Kemp as the victor while defiantly refusing to concede to the man she blamed for "gross mismanagement" of a bitterly fought election.
The speech Abrams delivered at her campaign headquarters Friday evening marked the close of the 44-year-old attorney and former lawmaker's unsuccessful attempt to make history as America's first black woman governor. Since Election Day her campaign fought on, insisting efforts to suppress turnout had left thousands of ballots uncounted that otherwise could erode Kemp's lead and force a runoff election.
Kemp, the 55-year-old businessman who oversaw the election as Georgia's secretary of state, will keep the governor's office in GOP hands as the state's third Republican governor since Reconstruction. He responded to Abrams ending her campaign by calling for unity and praising his opponent's "passion, hard work, and commitment to public service."
The kind words came just days after Kemp's campaign spokesman derided Abrams' efforts to have contested ballots counted as a "disgrace to democracy."
Abrams made no such retreat from her criticisms of Kemp, saying she refused "to say nice things and accept my fate." Instead, she announced plans to file a federal lawsuit to challenge the way Georgia's elections are run. She accused Kemp of using the secretary of state's office to aggressively purge the rolls of inactive voters, enforce an "exact match" policy for checking voters' identities that left thousands of registrations in limbo and other measures to tile the outcome in his favor.
"Let's be clear: This is not a speech of concession," Abrams said. "Because concession means to acknowledge an action is right, true or proper. As a woman of conscience and faith, I cannot concede that."
The race grabbed the attention of the nation, with Barack Obama and Oprah Winfrey campaigning for Abrams in the final days and President Donald Trump holding a rally for Kemp.
Unofficial returns showed Kemp ahead by roughly 60,000 votes out of nearly 4 million cast on Nov. 6. Kemp declared himself governor-elect the next day and stepped down as Georgia's secretary of state, though thousands of absentee and provisional ballots remained uncounted.
Abrams, meanwhile, sent volunteers across the state in search of voters whose ballots were rejected. She filed suit in federal court to force county elections boards to count absentee ballots with incorrect birthdates. Her campaign even planned for possible litigation to challenge the election's certified outcome.
Abrams didn't take that route. She said she had concluded "the law currently allows no further viable remedy." Instead, she said she would fight to restore integrity to Georgia's election system in a new initiative called Fair Fight Georgia.
"In the coming days, we will be filing a major federal lawsuit against the state of Georgia for the gross mismanagement of this election and to protect future elections from unconstitutional actions," Abrams said, though she gave no details.
Kemp tried to move past the contentious campaign even if his opponent wasn't willing.
"The election is over and hardworking Georgians are ready to move forward," he said. "We can no longer dwell on the divisive politics of the past but must focus on Georgia's bright and promising future."
Kemp had been secretary of state since 2010. He was backed by and had embraced Trump as he tried to maintain GOP dominance in a state that hasn't elected a Democrat to the governor's mansion since 1998.
Kemp stormed to the GOP nomination with ads featuring everything from the candidate cranking a chain saw and jokingly pointing a gun toward a teen male suitor of his daughter, to Kemp's offer to "round up criminal illegals" himself in his pickup truck. He's promised a tax cut and teacher pay raises and pledged to continue Georgia's refusal to expand Medicaid insurance under President Barack Obama's 2010 health care overhaul.
Abrams' campaign sparked huge energy across the state and she became a national Democratic star. Election turnout among both sides' energized bases nearly equaled that of the 2016 presidential vote.
Aides close to Abrams said that since the election she had been wrestling with competing priorities: She wanted to advance her assertions that Georgia's elections process '-- which Kemp managed as secretary of state '-- makes it too hard for some citizens to vote. But she also recognized that a protracted legal fight would harm that cause and potentially her political future.
Kemp's victory is an important marker for Republicans ahead of the 2020 presidential election. Kemp's narrow margin already suggests that Georgia, a state Trump won by 5 percentage points in 2016, could be a genuine battleground in two years. Trump bet big on Kemp, endorsing him ahead of Kemp's Republican primary runoff and campaigning for him the weekend prior to the Nov. 6 election. Now, Trump will be able to return with an incumbent governor as he seeks a second term.
Abrams' political future is less certain. She made believers of old-guard Democrats in Georgia who didn't think a black woman could compete in a general election, and she emerged as the party's clear leader. But the party also has plenty of other ambitious politicians who will want to take advantage of the path that Abrams' has charted. The next big shot for Democrats is a 2020 Senate race, with Republican Sen. David Perdue making his first re-election attempt.
Republican Young Kim loses lead in California House race, accuses opponent Gil Cisneros of harassing vote counters | Fox News
Republican congressional candidate Young Kim, who just days ago was poised to be the first Korean-American woman in Congress as she led a closely contested California House race, is accusing her opponent of "harassing and intimidating'' vote counters as her lead has disappeared.
Kim is vying to replace retiring Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., in California's 39th District, which includes part of the state's more Republican Orange County. Last week, she held about a 3-point lead over Democrat Gil Cisneros with about 150,000 votes counted.
But since then, that lead vanished, with Cisneros taking a 941-vote as of late Thursday.
Her campaign did not immediately return a request for comment from Fox News. But Kim, who was in D.C. Wednesday for orientation for newly elected House members, released a blistering statement earlier in the week, accusing the Cisneros campaign of ''harassing and intimidating vote counters in Orange County.''
''Those nefarious actions reflect a campaign that knows a majority of voters cast their ballots electing Young Kim, and as a result will do anything in their desperate attempts to change the results,'' the campaign said in a statement. ''The Young Kim campaign is standing up for the democratic process, the will of the majority of voters, and is emphatically committed to every legal vote being counted.''
Democrat Gil Cisneros is now leading the race. (AP)
The Kim campaign claimed that Los Angeles County Registrar rebuked the Cisneros campaign for ''physical vote tampering.'' But in a statement to Business Insider, the registrar said that it had not addressed anything related to ballot tampering.
The Cisneros campaign called the allegations false.
''The claims made by Young Kim mirror rhetoric from President Trump and are divorced from reality, and it's because she knows that she will continue to lose ground as more ballots are counted,'' the Cisneros campaign said. ''We support the Registrars and they should continue to have the opportunity to count every ballot.''
Kim emigrated from South Korea and lived in Guam and Hawaii before working in Royce's congressional office for more than two decades. She picked up Royce's endorsement earlier this year. Campaigning, she emphasized her independence from President Trump, distancing herself from some of his rhetoric while agreeing with him on other issues.
''I try to tell [voters] I'm not running to be his spokesperson or represent Donald Trump in the White House,'' she told the Los Angeles Times.
But the bullish attitude from the Kim campaign is similar to that from Trump -- who has accused Democrats of underhand tactics in Florida, where the Senate and gubernatorial campaigns were being subjected to recounts.
On Monday, Trump tweeted that ''large numbers of new ballots showed up out of nowhere, and many ballots are missing or forged.''
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
'Judgement Day' Nears: Analyst on Why Clinton May Finally End Up Behind Bars - Sputnik International
While the rumours about Hillary Clinton's potential third presidential run continue to circulate in the media, the conservative camp is seemingly determined to "lock her up." Speaking to Sputnik, Wall Street analyst Charles Ortel explains why "judgement day" for the Clinton Foundation is near.
It appears that US conservatives are not going to let former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton go. Controversy is still simmering around the Clinton Foundation and Hillary Clinton's email scandal. Charles Ortel, a Wall Street analyst and investigative journalist who has been conducting a private investigation into the Clintons' charity, calls the Clinton Foundation the biggest charity fraud ever.
The analyst emphasizes the importance of November 15 as a date for the Clintons, suggesting that the truth about their charity may soon emerge.
For his part, Tom Fitton of Judicial Watch tweeted November 15 that the Federal Court ruled that Hillary Clinton will have to answer the watchdog's further questions concerning her Clinton.com, non-state.gov email system.
'"The public and the media have a right to a full accounting from top officials of the Clinton State Department," Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said.
Sputnik: Why is November 15, 2018 a crucial date for the Clinton Foundation?
Charles Ortel: Under US federal laws, the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation ("BHCCF") must file a complete, truthful report on IRS Form 990 by the close of business on November 15, 2018 concerning its operations and financial results for 2017. This is the final filing deadline and no extensions are possible.
In addition, BHCCF must file reports with numerous states by 15 November 2018. Many of these states impose tough filing requirements '-- one example is New York State, which, effectively, is the base from which BHCCF's global network of purported charities is run.
(C) AP Photo / Charlie Neibergall
Unlike the IRS, New York
requires charities to list out all of their subsidiaries, branches and affiliates, to provide details concerning all of the grants given to them by governments (foreign and domestic), and to procure an audit from an independent and certified professional accounting firm that is wholly consistent with US Generally Accepted Accounting Principles.
Since 1998, when these New York laws were applied, BHCCF has never complied and therefore has been in gross, uncured violation of laws which the state has enforced vigorously, including with respect to the Trump Foundation.
READ MORE: Trump 'Preparing Ground for Prosecution of Corrupt Deep State Actors' '-- Analyst
Sputnik: Why do you insist that the charity will not be able to present a comprehensive fiscal report? How is the situation likely to unfold in this case?
Charles Ortel: In the US, strict rules apply to financial reporting for charities. The report that is due concerning 2017 can only be filed accurately if BHCCF attempts to correct years of false and misleading prior filings that used accounting techniques not allowed in the US for charities and includes missing schedules and information that never was validly filed.
When formed on October 23, 1997, BHCCF was then called the "William J. Clinton Presidential Foundation". Despite being required to do so, this entity did not file an IRS return on form 990 for the "short period" from its formation through December 31, 1997. There is no statute of limitations concerning this failure to file an initial "short period" return.
So far, no compliant audits have emerged in the public domain from 1998, 1999 or 2000 '-- years when Bill Clinton was president and when those running his foundation may have believed the IRS and Department of Justice would not intervene to enforce laws and regulations.
Financial information purporting to be "audits" for 2001, 2002, 2003, and 2004 has emerged, though these documents are omitted from the BHCCF web portal.
These reports flatly state that they are prepared using accounting techniques that are not permitted within the United States.
The first attempt to file compliant accounting reports was made starting June 9, 2006, when BHCCF attempted to correct work issued for 2003, 2004, and 2005. This attempt is manifestly false and misleading, as I have explained through my website.
It is not possible to file correct, truthful reports concerning 2017 without correcting all previous filings. Think of a house, built on a foundation of sludge '-- you can paint the outside (provide a view of what happened in 2017) and make it look nice superficially, but if you fail to remove the sludge and ensure that it rests on solid ground, it will inevitably collapse.
READ MORE: Clinton Foundation Went for 'Biggest Fraud Ever Investigated' '-- Analyst
Sputnik: Why do you believe that this time the IRS will pay much more attention to discrepancies in the Clinton Foundation's files?
Charles Ortel: Under George W. Bush and then under Barack Obama, the IRS division that oversees charities was run by a controversial person named Lois Lerner.
In the early period of the Trump presidency, forces loyal to former President Obama (in particular), appear to have defended against efforts to expose the true extent of abuses perpetrated by Lerner and her allies using the IRS to target political opponents, chiefly conservatives during the Obama years.
Even now, I and others suspect that the Justice Department still has Obama loyalists working actively to obstruct the progress of the Trump Administration. It was only recently that President Trump was able to have the Senate confirm his choice to head the IRS '-- Charles Rettig.
So, November 15, 2018 will be the first filing deadline when Trump appointees at the IRS and the Justice Department have firm and informed hands on the levers of power '-- one hopes they will administer justice fairly.
READ MORE: Why the Fall of the House of Clinton May Trigger Domino Effect Worldwide
Sputnik: If suspicions are justified, what sort of inquiries and probes could be launched by state and federal authorities and how could it backfire on the Clintons' associates, the charity donors and Hillary, Bill and Chelsea Clinton?
Charles Ortel: Recently, a former Republican US congressman, Steve Stockman, was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison for a set of crimes involving only $1 million in charity fraud as well as public corruption.
Previously, a former Democratic US congressman, Corrine Brown, was sentenced to 5 years in federal prison for her role in a similarly sized charity fraud.
(C) REUTERS / Carlos Barria
Using flawed figures that likely do not capture the full extent of "donations" sent towards the network of Clinton "charities", about $3 billion may have been sent towards BHCCF and its affiliates.
Because BHCCF has never had a board of trustees tough enough to defend the interests of that entity against the conflicted personal and political interests of the Clinton family, BHCCF has never been validly audited, and no outsider actually knows how much money may have been stolen or diverted for illegal purposes since 1997.
Once the November 15, 2018 deadline passes, I suspect the federal government and state authorities will be forced to shine spotlights on ongoing abuses perpetrated by BHCCF, its executives, its trustees/directors, and its significant donors. All of these should have been able to spot obvious errors, false statements and omissions that have been circulating in the public domain, around the world, for years.
The views and opinions expressed by the contributors do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.
VIDEO-Nancy Pelosi thanks Al Sharpton for 'saving America' - YouTube
Some gas stations offer pumps with small televisions built into them that display ads while customers fill their gas tanks. It is turning into a big industry and an information bonanza for advertisers. Host Robin Young talks with Here & Now media analyst John Carroll (@john_r_carroll), author of the Campaign Outsider blog.
This segment aired on November 14, 2018.
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VIDEO-One Tiny Texas Town Hopes New Bitcoin Operation Can Turn Its Luck Around | Here & Now
Paul Flahive, Texas Public RadioRockdale, a small town in Texas, is the site of what could be the biggest bitmine operation in the country. As Texas Public Radio's Paul Flahive (@paulflahive) reports, the town is no stranger to booms and busts.
This segment aired on November 14, 2018.
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VIDEO-Dutch revival downs French as Germany drop down in the Nations League | Euronews
They may not have even been at this year's world cup, nor at the last Euro, but the Netherlands are red-hot right now as their two-nil win over World Champions France proves.
The shockwave has rippled around the UEFA Nations League. Having also beaten Germany, the win sees the 2014 World cup winners tumble down into the league's division two.
"We have players with exceptional technical experience and also power and speed. We know why we won against Germany and why we won against France," smiled Netherlands Head Coach Ronald Koeman.
French coach Didier Deschamps was sanguine about the team's first loss since their triumph in Russia.
"It is a defeat that is logical considering what we did against a very good Dutch team. It hurts because we got used to having good results in the last few months, mostly victories. Our goal, as you know, is to make sure we end up on top of the group, but now it doesn't depend on us anymore. We will see what happens on Monday evening," he said.
Monday will see the stung Germans face off against the Dutch again. They play at home, but with only pride at stake.
Just a draw would be enough to see Ronald Koeman's team advance to meet other group winners next June, a far cry from the drubbing everyone had expected once they were joined in their Nations League group by the last two world champions.
VIDEO-One dead and over 200 injured in fuel protests across France | Euronews
Over two hundred thousand protesters blocked roads and motorways across France causing many accidents and one accidental death on Saturday.
The interior ministry said 227 people were injured, as drivers tried to get around the blockades and police clashed with protesters.
At a blockade in the southeastern department of Savoie, a driver panicked when protesters surrounded her car and she accelerated, hitting and killing a protester, French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said.
The grassroots protest movement dubbed the "yellow vests" targeted motorway sliproads, tunnel entrances and airport access roads.
Thirty-eight people were taken into custody.
The protest movement began when higher taxes were imposed on diesel in late 2017. At the time the government said it wanted to encourage drivers to switch to more environmentally friendly cars.
People have also grown angry at President Emmanuel Macron's other economic policies which they say have made them poorer.
There is now mounting dissatisfaction with Macron, who many regard as out of touch with ordinary people.
In 18 months in power, he has seen off trade unions and street demonstrations as he loosened labour laws and overhauled the heavily indebted state rail operator SNCF in a bid to reboot the economy.
Derided by political opponents as "the president of the rich" for measures such as the end of a wealth tax, Macron's popularity has dwindled to new lows of 21 percent.
Tax hikes on fuel and tobacco as well as an increase to a social welfare levy before other tax cuts came into force have left some voters feeling squeezed.
Then oil prices surged in October people in France's many rural areas who rely on cars grew more angry.
VIDEO - Amazon, Google patent applications hint at devices listening more - CBS News
A new report from The New York Times says that Amazon and Google devices could be keeping a closer tab on users in the future. Each company has filed patent applications that "outline an array of possibilities" for how its devices could monitor more of what users say and do.
Both Amazon and Google are the leading sellers of digital assistants. The information obtained could be used to identify a person's desires or interests. That data could then be mined for ad targeting and product recommendations.
This is happening amid a growing data scandal involving Facebook and Cambridge Analytica , which harvested information from millions of user accounts. Amazon has said it takes privacy seriously and is looking to explore the possibilities of new technology. Google has said that all its products are designed with user privacy in mind.
Are "smart hotels" a danger to privacy? The Times reports that Google's patent applications outline how audio and visual signals could be used to determine a speaker's mood or medical condition. The devices could analyze the "volume of the user's voice, detected breathing rate, crying" and could even detect a user's coughing and sneezing.
The Google Home (L) is the search giant's answer to the Amazon Echo smart speaker (R), a breakout gadget with Alexa's virtual intelligence built in.
"When you read parts of the applications, it's really clear that this is spyware and a surveillance system meant to serve you up to advertisers," Consumer Watchdog President Jamie Court told The Times, adding the companies are "basically going to be finding out what our home life is like in qualitative ways."
Tech companies file for many patent applications which don't necessarily end up being incorporated into consumer products. But the possibility of such features raised concerns about a new level of intrusion into users' privacy '-- and about the growing power and ambition of big tech companies amassing detailed information about millions of people.
"If data is the new oil, then the more you have the more powerful you are," TechRepublic senior writer Dan Patterson told CBS News. "You can use big data to feed recommendation engines and advertising systems that create more effective shopping systems. What this data is really being used for is to train artificial intelligence algorithms to be more effective at lots of different functions."
He said it's another example of the "delicate balance" between security and privacy, and the compromises involved in enabling modern technological conveniences.
(C) 2018 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.
VIDEO - (3) CSPAN on Twitter: ".@CNN's Jim @Acosta returns to the White House after his press pass was temporarily reinstated after a federal judge ordered it's return by the White House. https://t.co/zk8ICIw98w" / Twitter
The CIA has concluded that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul last month, contradicting the Saudi government's claims that he was not involved in the killing, according to people familiar with the matter.
The CIA's assessment, in which officials have said they have high confidence, is the most definitive to date linking Mohammed to the operation and complicates the Trump administration's efforts to preserve its relationship with a close ally. A team of 15 Saudi agents flew to Istanbul on government aircraft in October and killed Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate, where he had come to pick up documents that he needed for his planned marriage to a Turkish woman.
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In reaching its conclusions, the CIA examined multiple sources of intelligence, including a phone call that the prince's brother Khalid bin Salman, the Saudi ambassador to the United States, had with Khashoggi, according to the people familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the intelligence. Khalid told Khashoggi, a contributing columnist to The Washington Post, that he should go to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to retrieve the documents and gave him assurances that it would be safe to do so.
It is not clear if Khalid knew that Khashoggi would be killed, but he made the call at his brother's direction, according to the people familiar with the call, which was intercepted by U.S. intelligence.
Fatimah Baeshen, a spokeswoman for the Saudi Embassy in Washington, said the ambassador and Khashoggi never discussed ''anything related to going to Turkey.'' She added that the claims in the CIA's ''purported assessment are false. We have and continue to hear various theories without seeing the primary basis for these speculations.''
The CIA's conclusion about Mohammed's role was also based on the agency's assessment of the prince as the country's de facto ruler who oversees even minor affairs in the kingdom. ''The accepted position is that there is no way this happened without him being aware or involved,'' said a U.S. official familiar with the CIA's conclusions.
The CIA sees Mohammed as a ''good technocrat,'' the U.S. official said, but also as volatile and arrogant, someone who ''goes from zero to 60, doesn't seem to understand that there are some things you can't do.''
CIA analysts believe he has a firm grip on power and is not in danger of losing his status as heir to the throne despite the Khashoggi scandal. ''The general agreement is that he is likely to survive,'' the official said, adding that Mohammed's role as the future Saudi king is ''taken for granted.''
A spokesman for the CIA declined to comment.
Over the past several weeks, the Saudis have offered multiple, contradictory explanations for what happened at the consulate. This week, the Saudi public prosecutor blamed the operation on a rogue band of operatives who were sent to Istanbul to return Khashoggi to Saudi Arabia, in an operation that veered off course when the journalist ''was forcibly restrained and injected with a large amount of a drug resulting in an overdose that led to his death,'' according to a report by the prosecutor.
The prosecutor announced charges against 11 alleged participants and said he would seek the death penalty against five of them.
The assassination of Khashoggi, a prominent critic of Mohammed's policies, has sparked a foreign policy crisis for the White House and raised questions about the administration's reliance on Saudi Arabia as a key ally in the Middle East and bulwark against Iran.
President Trump has resisted pinning the blame for the killing on Mohammed, who enjoys a close relationship with Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law and senior adviser. Privately, aides said, Trump has been shown evidence of the prince's involvement but remains skeptical that Mohammed ordered the killing.
The president has also asked CIA and State Department officials where Khashoggi's body is and has grown frustrated that they have not been able to provide an answer. The CIA does not know the location of Khashoggi's remains, according to the people familiar with the agency's assessment.
Among the intelligence assembled by the CIA is an audio recording from a listening device that the Turks placed inside the Saudi consulate, according to the people familiar with the matter. The Turks gave the CIA a copy of that audio, and the agency's director, Gina Haspel, has listened to it.
Slideshow by photo services
The audio shows that Khashoggi was killed within moments of entering the consulate, according to officials in multiple countries who have listened to it or been briefed on its contents. Khashoggi died in the office of the Saudi consul general, who can be heard expressing his displeasure that Khashoggi's body now needed to be disposed of and the facility cleaned of any evidence, according to people familiar with the audio recording.
The CIA also examined a call placed from inside the consulate after the killing by an alleged member of the Saudi hit team, Maher Mutreb, a security official who has often been seen at the crown prince's side and who was photographed entering and leaving the consulate on the day of the killing.
Mutreb called Saud al-Qahtani, then one of the top aides to Mohammed, and informed him that the operation had been completed, according to people familiar with the call.
This week, the Treasury Department sanctioned 17 individuals it said were involved in Khashoggi's death, including Qahtani, Mutreb and the Saudi consul general in Turkey, Mohammad al-Otaibi.
The CIA's assessment of Mohammed's role in the assassination also tracks with information developed by foreign governments, according to officials in several European capitals who have concluded that the operation was too brazen to have taken place without Mohammed's direction.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said his government has shared the audio with Germany, France, the United Kingdom and Saudi Arabia.
In addition to calls and audio recordings, CIA analysts also linked some members of the Saudi hit team directly to Mohammed himself. Some of the 15 members have served on his security team and traveled in the United States during visits by senior Saudi officials, including the crown prince, according to passport records reviewed by The Washington Post.
The U.S. had also obtained intelligence before Khashoggi's death that indicated he might be in danger. But it wasn't until after he disappeared, on Oct. 2, that U.S. intelligence agencies began searching archives of intercepted communications and discovered material indicating that the Saudi royal family had been seeking to lure Khashoggi back to Riyadh.
Two U.S. officials said there has been no indication that officials were aware of this intelligence in advance of Khashoggi's disappearance or had missed any chance to warn him.
Khashoggi ''was not a person of interest,'' before his disappearance, and the fact that he was residing in Virginia meant that he was regarded as a U.S. person and therefore shielded from U.S. intelligence gathering, one of the officials said.
Trump has told senior White House officials that he wants Mohammed to remain in power because Saudi Arabia helps to check Iran, which the administration considers its top security challenge in the Middle East. He has said that he does not want the controversy over Khashoggi's death to impede oil production by the kingdom.
One lingering question is why Mohammed might have decided to kill Khashoggi, who was not agitating for the crown prince's removal.
A theory the CIA has developed is that Mohammed believed Khashoggi was a dangerous Islamist who was too sympathetic to the Muslim Brotherhood, according to people familiar with the assessment. Days after Khashoggi disappeared, Mohammed relayed that view in a phone call with Kushner and John Bolton, the national security adviser, who has long opposed the Brotherhood and seen it as a regional security threat.
Mohammed's private condemnation of the slain journalist stood in contrast to his government's public comments, which mourned Khashoggi's killing as a ''terrible mistake'' and a ''tragedy.''
U.S. officials are unclear on when or whether the Saudi government will follow through with its threatened executions of the individuals blamed for Khashoggi's killing. ''It could happen overnight or take 20 years,'' the U.S. official said, adding that the treatment of subordinates could erode Mohammed's standing going forward.
In killing those who followed his orders, ''it's hard to get the next set [of subordinates] to help,'' the official said.
John Hudson and Missy Ryan in Washington, Souad Mekhennet in Frankfurt, and Loveday Morris and Kareem Fahim in Istanbul contributed to this report.
VIDEO - Australian Senator Declares He Is a Woman So He Can Talk About Abortion [Video]
An Australian senator publicly declared himself a woman on November 14 while ''defending'' himself against attacks from left-wing politicians regarding abortion.
Queensland politician Barry O'Sullivan made the declaration in response to an argument he had had earlier in the week regarding late-term abortion, in which he was told by Greens senator Larissa Waters to keep his ''rosaries off [her] ovaries''.
''I am going to declare my gender today, as I can, to be a woman and then you'll no longer be able to attack me,'' O'Sullivan told the chamber, on November 14.
O'Sullivan's Wikipedia page was soon edited to change ''he/him'' pronouns to ''she/her'' pronouns. Credit: ParlView via Storyful