End of Show Mixes: - UKPMX - Gx2 -Oh My Bosh - Danny Loos-Secret Agent Paul-Stepford Wives-PlaceBoing- Dave Courbanou - Able Kirby - Jungle Jones - Chris Wilson - Tom Starkweather - Conan Salada - Future Trash - Phantomville Billy Bon3s
How to Dab Cannabis Concentrates D abbing may seem daunting at first, but it's one of those activities that comes easily once you've seen it done. To help ensure your first time goes smoothly, this resource will teach you how to take a dab.
Essentially, dabbing is the flash vaporization of cannabis concentrates once applied to a hot surface and inhaled. These concentrates (you've maybe heard of shatter, wax, BHO, oil, etc.) are a lot more potent than marijuana flowers, so a little bit goes a long way. While bud tends to test between 10 to 25% THC, concentrates typically range between 50 to 80% THC, depending on the extract type and quality. You can even dab non-intoxicating CBD extracts for quick therapeutic effects with little to no cerebral euphoria, but in some regions these oils can be difficult to find.
Explore Cannabis ConcentratesHowever, dabbing isn't for everyone, especially if you're new to cannabis entirely. The dosing process is more delicate, but once you've gotten the hang of it, concentrates can offer you new heights of physical relief and unique cerebral effects. Extracts also contain a lot less plant material than flower, so you're inhaling more cannabinoids (e.g. THC, CBD) and less combusted resin.
What Dab Tools Are Needed?Dabbing technology is evolving, but the traditional setup includes the following items (keep in mind that the appearance of each tool may vary slightly depending on its design):
A cannabis extract. These come in a variety of forms, but the most common ones used for dabbing are BHO, CO2, and solventless extracts like rosin. Don't dab with alcohol-based extracts, and if you have any doubt at all about the safety of dabbing a particular oil, ask your budtender.A water pipe. You can take the glass bowl pieces out and replace them with dabbing attachments to turn your pipe into a dab rig.A nail. Find a nail that fits your water pipe's gauge. Some are made of ceramic and quartz, but titanium is the most commonly used type.A dome. This is the glass hood placed around the nail. ''Dome-less'' nails (see below) don't need a glass globe, but standard nails need something to trap the vapor before it's inhaled.A torch. Mini-torches used for cr¨me brulee will do the job, but some choose to upgrade to larger propane-fueled torches that heat nails faster. New flame-less methods of dabbing are becoming available, but most people still use the torch method due to the low cost investment.A dabber. This is the glass, metal, or ceramic tool used to apply a dab.Explore Dabbing Products and AccessoriesHow Much Oil Is Enough to Dab?Different extracts have different THC concentrations, so it's helpful to know how potent your oil is before dabbing with it. However, it's generally recommended to start small and increase the dose if you feel comfortable doing so.
A small dose is no bigger than a crumb. It may not look like much, but that's still a lot of THC going straight to the dome at once. Dabbing can feel a lot more intense to those accustomed to flower, but as your tolerance adjusts, the effects become less jarring.
How Do You Dab?Once the rig is set up and your dab is prepared on the dabber, you're ready to get started. We advise you to sit while taking a dab, since the rush of THC can be physically intense.
Step 1: Turn on your torch and aim the flame directly at the nail. Most people will heat the nail until it begins turning red-hot. If you're using an electronic nail, refer to the section below for more information on heating.
Step 2: Once the nail is hot, turn off your torch and place the glass dome over the nail. It's recommended to let titanium nails cool for about 10 seconds and quartz nails about 45 seconds so the surface temperature isn't too hot. Refer to this article to learn more about the importance of low-temperature dabbing).
Step 3: Take your dabber, apply the dab directly on the nail inside the dome, and inhale slowly. Rotating the dabber tip on the nail can help you prevent wasting any oil stuck to the dabber.
Step 4: Exhale and enjoy!
Safety notice: nails and glass domes become extremely hot in the dabbing process. Take caution when handling them, and always wait for all pieces to cool down before you even think of touching them.
What Are E-Nails and Dome-less Nails?The above tutorial explains how you take a dab using the common torch-and-nail method, but there are other dabbing attachments that deviate slightly from this process.
Dome-less nails are metal pieces that don't require a glass hood to trap vapor. Instead, a network of holes throughout the nail deliver the vapor straight through the piece. You still heat it as you would a standard nail '-- the advantage is not having to hassle with an extra glass piece that can become hazardous with heat and sticky with resin.
Browse Different Dab NailsE-nails, or electronic nails, are significantly more expensive than standard and dome-less nails, but the investment is often worth it for serious dabbers. They cut out the need for a dome as well as a torch, which is easily the most dangerous element of dabbing. Furthermore, you have full control over your nail's temperature. This is a fantastic feature if you care about making the most out of flavors and terpenes when you dab.
Dabbing technology is constantly improving and expanding, so be sure to check out other Leafly articles diving into the latest trends and products if you're interested in leveling up your dabbing game!
Not sure if this is show-worthy, but regarding ADA website
compliance, my wife is a communications director for a university with more
than 30,000 students. Not only can lawsuits be brought against public
companies, but the federal DOJ can also bring cases against public institutions
under ADA guidelines. I'm not sure what the consequences are that the DOJ
can bring against a university, but I figure it probably has something to do
with withdrawal of federal funding.
Anyway, my wife has spent multiple sessions being trained on what
makes a site ADA compliant, and has been responsible for making sure all of the
pages under her purview meet ADA compliance regulations. My wife doesn't
have web experience to make the changes necessary, nor does she have anyone on
staff that has the time or experience to make the changes either. Their
answer, for the most part, has been to simply remove content that would be
found in violation.
This is an old article, but I saw that UC Berkely has basically
Image Senator Kamala Harris at Sylvia's restaurant in Harlem on Thursday. Some Democratic presidential candidates, including Ms. Harris, have expressed support for overtly race-conscious legislation. Credit Credit Kholood Eid for The New York Times From the very first day of the 2020 presidential race, when Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts blamed ''generations of discrimination'' for black families earning far less than white households, Democratic hopefuls have broadly emphasized racial justice and closing the wealth gap in their policy platforms.
But in recent weeks, some candidates have started embracing specific goals and overtly race-conscious legislation that even the most left-wing elected officials stayed away from in recent years.
Last week, on the popular radio show ''The Breakfast Club,'' Senator Kamala Harris of California agreed with a host's suggestion that government reparations for black Americans were necessary to address the legacies of slavery and discrimination. Ms. Harris later affirmed that support in a statement to The New York Times.
''We have to be honest that people in this country do not start from the same place or have access to the same opportunities,'' she said. ''I'm serious about taking an approach that would change policies and structures and make real investments in black communities.''
Ms. Warren also said she supported reparations for black Americans impacted by slavery '-- a policy that experts say could cost several trillion dollars, and one that Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and many top Democrats have not supported.
The Warren campaign declined to give further details on that backing, but it came amid her calls for the federal government to provide special home-buying assistance to residents of communities that were adversely affected by ''redlining,'' the discriminatory practice of denying mortgages, usually in poor and nonwhite areas. She also announced a sweeping universal child-care proposal that could strongly benefit minority communities that often have limited early childhood services.
The morally driven policy goals of Ms. Harris and Ms. Warren reflect a broader shift in the importance of race and identity issues in the Democratic Party, according to several scholars and political leaders who focus on the intersection of race and politics. While Democrats have long cast themselves as more inclusive than the Republican Party, grass-roots organizers and many liberal voters of all races are now pushing elected officials to go further on policies of racial equality, regardless of any political calculations.
Image Senator Elizabeth Warren spoke in Las Vegas on Sunday. Ms. Warren said that she also supported reparations for black Americans impacted by slavery. Credit Bridget Bennett for The New York Times But race-conscious policies could emerge as a fissure in a wide-open Democratic primary, as some moderate candidates seek to run against the party's recent leftward lurch. There are also political risks for the general election: Republicans have long attempted to paint Democrats who embrace policies that address racial inequalities as anti-white, and polling often shows reparations for black Americans remains an unpopular policy across the country.
That two leading Democratic candidates have embraced reparations '-- the concept that the federal government should both acknowledge the ongoing legacy of slavery and discrimination and provide compensatory payment to those affected '-- is a major shift from past presidential campaigns and a win for activists who have tried to push the issue into the mainstream for decades. Julin Castro, the former cabinet secretary who is also running for president, has also indicated that he would support reparations.
Even among the 2020 Democrats who stopped short of endorsing reparations, several have laid out robust policies aimed at closing the gap in wealth between black and white families. Scholars estimate that black families in America today earn just $57.30 for every $100 in income earned by white families, according to the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey. For every $100 in white family wealth, black families hold just $5.04.
Senator Cory Booker's ''baby bonds'' policy aims to help poorer children by giving them a government-funded savings account that could total up to $50,000 for the lowest income brackets. The plan has been praised by liberal scholars, who think it could go a long way in helping lower-income Americans begin to build wealth. And Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has endorsed a proposal to allow Americans without checking accounts to bank at the local post office; a disproportionate percentage of America's unbanked population are people of color.
Mara Urbina, national policy director for the progressive group Indivisible, said that after years of being pushed by activists, the Democratic Party was getting closer to applying its liberal values to racial equality. Policies like reparations or ''baby bonds'' that seek to close the racial wealth gap, she said, should be viewed similarly to idealistic programs that have been embraced by Democrats seeking the presidential nomination, including the Green New Deal and ''Medicare for all.''
''We want folks who are being ambitious, not just working within the margins and the contours of what we had before, but sort of reimagining things on our own terms and being really aspirational,'' Ms. Urbina said.
Sandy Darity, a Duke University professor who is a leading scholar on reparations and the racial wealth gap, said he believes more black Americans may come to see reparations as a defining issue for their support.
''There is a point in black Americans making a collective decision to treat a candidate's attitude toward reparations as a litmus test for supporting them,'' Dr. Darity said. ''I think if folks had paid closer attention to the fact that Barack Obama was against reparations, they would have not been as disappointed by his presidency, because they would have had more realistic expectations about what he was likely to do.''
Among Democrats, the idea of reparations has been unpopular until very recently. For more than two decades, Representative John Conyers, the Detroit Democratic stalwart who resigned in December 2017, repeatedly introduced a reparations bill to Congress that received little support from either party.
Mr. Sanders, the Vermont leftist whose rhetoric of a political revolution won him throngs of supporters in the last Democratic primary and disrupted the party establishment, dismissed the idea of reparations as politically unpalatable in January 2016, upsetting some racial justice activists who found his answer hypocritical. Mrs. Clinton, who beat Mr. Sanders for the 2016 nomination, also declined to support reparations.
Mr. Obama, the country's first black president, was seen in some political quarters as reticent about prioritizing the interests of black voters, and he called the idea of reparations impractical in 2016.
''I'm not so optimistic as to think that you would ever be able to garner a majority of an American Congress that would make those kinds of investments, above and beyond the kinds of investments that could be made in a progressive program for lifting up all people,'' Mr. Obama said.
As Ms. Warren and Ms. Harris seek to lead the party into a new era, their support for the policy '-- which did not come with specifics '-- signals just how quickly prominent Democrats have expanded their political imagination after decades of dominance by the Clintons and Mr. Obama.
Ms. Warren, in particular, has attempted to stake out more aggressive policies to push other Democrats in the race. Her proposal for universal child care would make the service free to any family earning up to double the federal poverty level, and would increase wages for child care workers '-- two initiatives that could particularly affect black and Latino communities, where informal child-care arrangements are more common.
''We must confront the dark history of slavery and government-sanctioned discrimination in this country that has had many consequences, including undermining the ability of black families to build wealth in America for generations,'' Ms. Warren told The Times. ''We need systemic, structural changes to address that.''
Another sign of the party's shift on race: Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the New York Democrat whose bold policy ideas and devoted national following have upended Capitol Hill, also voiced her support for reparations earlier this month.
''Until America tells the truth about itself, we're not going to heal,'' Ms. Ocasio-Cortez said at a forum with Ta-Nehisi Coates, the writer whose landmark 2014 article, ''The Case For Reparations,'' helped thrust the issue back into American consciousness.
Image Senator Cory Booker in Rochester, N.H., on Sunday. Mr. Booker's so-called ''baby bonds'' policy aims to help poorer children by giving them a government-funded savings account. Credit Elizabeth Frantz for The New York Times Other Democratic 2020 candidates '-- including Mr. Booker, Ms. Gillibrand and Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota '-- either did not respond to requests for comment or stopped short of an endorsement of reparations. Instead, several laid out policies that, though not intended as a redress for slavery, would benefit black Americans.
Mr. Booker ''is running for president to reignite our sense of common purpose to build a more fair and just nation '-- that means enacting policies that atone for this nation's history of intentionally discriminatory public policy toward African-Americans,'' said Michael Tyler, a spokesman for his campaign. ''You cannot address the systemic racism unique to this country without proposing race-conscious solutions.''
Darrick Hamilton, a professor at Ohio State University who has worked with Dr. Darity on research regarding inequality, said Mr. Booker's ''baby bonds'' plan could substantially transform wealth building measures for poor Americans and minorities and could help minorities grow assets.
Dr. Hamilton and Dr. Darity both panned Ms. Harris's signature economic proposals, which would dramatically expand a tax credit for middle-class families and provide rent relief to those struggling to afford rising home costs. Both proposals are ''income-based,'' the professors said, and would do little to stem wealth inequality between races.
Only one 2020 candidate has laid out a reparations plan with specifics: Marianne Williamson, the best-selling author and self-described ''spiritual teacher.'' Since the start of her long-shot campaign, Ms. Williamson has called for $100 billion in reparations for black Americans '-- far more than any other Democrat, but substantially less than what scholars have said would be necessary.
''Paltry,'' Dr. Darity said of Ms. Williamson's plan.
Astead W. Herndon is a national political reporter based in New York. He was previously a Washington-based political reporter and a City Hall reporter for The Boston Globe. @ AsteadWesley
How Amy Klobuchar Treats Her Staff - The New York Times
Image Senator Amy Klobuchar talked with aides at the Capitol in December. For years, she has had among the highest rates of staff turnover in the Senate. Credit Credit Erin Schaff for The New York Times Senator Amy Klobuchar was hungry, forkless and losing patience.
An aide, joining her on a trip to South Carolina in 2008, had procured a salad for his boss while hauling their bags through an airport terminal. But once onboard, he delivered the grim news: He had fumbled the plastic eating utensils before reaching the gate, and the crew did not have any forks on such a short flight.
What happened next was typical: Ms. Klobuchar berated her aide instantly for the slip-up. What happened after that was not: She pulled a comb from her bag and began eating the salad with it, according to four people familiar with the episode.
Then she handed the comb to her staff member with a directive: Clean it.
The moment '-- an abridged version of which Ms. Klobuchar recounted herself in a speech to fellow Democrats at the time '-- encapsulates the underside of life on the Minnesota senator's team, detailed in interviews with more than two dozen former staff members and internal emails reviewed by The New York Times. As Ms. Klobuchar joins the 2020 presidential race, many of these former aides say she was not just demanding but often dehumanizing '-- not merely a tough boss in a capital full of them but the steward of a work environment colored by volatility, highhandedness and distrust.
The senator feared sabotage from her own team: In an email, she once raised the prospect of an in-house mole. She and her top confidantes could complicate the future job opportunities of some staff members who sought to leave, former aides said, sometimes speaking to their would-be employers to register her displeasure. And Ms. Klobuchar frequently suggested that her aides were preventing her from greater standing in Washington and beyond, former staff members said.
''We are becoming a joke,'' she wrote in one email about the contents of her Twitter feed, ''and it is making me a joke.''
Questions about Ms. Klobuchar's actions toward subordinates have shadowed the early days of her 2020 presidential campaign, with articles in HuffPost and BuzzFeed News by turns fueling the hard-driving reputation that has followed her for years in Washington and angering supporters who see sexism in the criticism.
Ms. Klobuchar, 58, has allowed that she has ''high expectations.''
''Am I a tough boss sometimes? Yes,'' she said at a recent CNN forum. ''Have I pushed people too hard? Yes.''
Presented with a detailed accounting of The Times' reporting and the staff emails written by Ms. Klobuchar, a campaign spokeswoman, Carlie Waibel, said: ''The senator has repeatedly acknowledged that she can be tough and push people hard. But these anonymous stories '-- some of which are just plain ridiculous '-- do not overshadow the countless experiences of people on the senator's team who she has been so proud to work with.''
Video Senator Amy Klobuchar, Democrat of Minnesota, is running for president. Ms. Klobuchar is hoping her Midwestern roots and history of working across the aisle will help her candidacy. Credit Credit Jenn Ackerman for The New York Times [Our Politics editor, Patrick Healy, will be responding to readers' questions and feedback on our coverage of the 2020 U.S. presidential election. Please leave your questions for him in the comments section.]
Despite employee turnover that perennially ranks near the highest in the Senate, Ms. Klobuchar has defenders among her former staff. She noted at the forum that some people had been with her for many years.
Erikka Knuti, a former communications aide to the senator, described her experience as broadly positive and said Ms. Klobuchar could be contrite at times, remembering a gesture of regret from the senator once after she snapped at Ms. Knuti in an elevator in front of another lawmaker. ''That wasn't O.K.,'' she recalled Ms. Klobuchar telling her. ''It made me feel valued,'' Ms. Knuti said.
While there was wide consensus in the interviews that women were often held to a different standard as bosses, former aides '-- female and male '-- said their concerns about Ms. Klobuchar's behavior should not be dismissed as gender bias. Many of the aides said they had worked for both men and women, for lawmakers both compassionate and unkind, without encountering anyone else like Ms. Klobuchar.
The world of congressional staffs is one of long hours and low pay, with much of the work shouldered by twentysomething junior aides who are learning on the job. Some members of Congress are notorious for round-the-clock phone calls, late-night email and fierce attention to their own press coverage. Ms. Klobuchar is among them, but former aides said they were especially troubled by her willingness '-- in excess of other senators', they said '-- to embarrass staff members over minor missteps or with odd requests.
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Most of those interviewed for this article '-- describing memories that span from shortly after her election in 2006 to the much more recent past '-- discussed their time with Ms. Klobuchar on the condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal from the senator. These concerns were not idle, they said. Saving potentially damaging emails from Ms. Klobuchar became something of a last-day ritual, the aides said, in case they ever needed evidence of her conduct for their own reputational protection.
She was known to throw office objects in frustration, including binders and phones, in the direction of aides, they said. Low-level employees were asked to perform duties they described as demeaning, like washing her dishes or other cleaning '-- a possible violation of Senate ethics rules, according to veterans of the chamber.
Appraisals of perceived staff incompetence were delivered at all hours of the day and night:
''In 20 years in politics I have never seen worse prep,'' Ms. Klobuchar said in one email, displeased at how a political event had been handled.
''This is the hands down worse thing you have ever given me,'' she wrote in another, questioning her team's grasp of policy as she rejected its ''slop.''
''This is the worst press staff I ever had,'' she announced once to employees, according to an aide present. This was effectively a rite of passage, the aide said: The senator had plainly said the same about both predecessors and successors in the office.
Image Ms. Klobuchar has tried to present her campaign image as ''Minnesota nice,'' touting an affable Midwestern common sense. Credit Tim Gruber for The New York Times Still, while few contest that serving Ms. Klobuchar could be a challenge, other current and former aides spoke fondly of the experience, expressing pride over the national platform she has earned. The senator's defenders say her conduct must be viewed in the larger context of women in Washington, where male leaders with legendary tempers and famously exacting standards, like former President Bill Clinton, have long subsisted atop the political food chain.
For Ms. Klobuchar, there is the added complication of tending to a campaign image premised on affable Midwestern common sense.
''The 'Minnesota nice' thing is also kind of a double-edged sword,'' Ms. Knuti said. ''In the Midwest you have to be outwardly nice and congenial. But these are tough people. Male senators yell quite a bit. But if a woman yells at you, it's like, 'I got yelled at by my mom.'''
This much is not in dispute: For years, Ms. Klobuchar has had among the highest rates of staff turnover in the Senate, according to a review of congressional offices from the website LegiStorm. Over much of her Senate career, no one outpaced Ms. Klobuchar on this score; in 2017, two freshman senators, John Kennedy of Louisiana and Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, surpassed her.
The churn has produced a bit of a vicious circle. Democrats in Washington say she has struggled to recruit and retain top talent. Some operatives say they have shied away from her 2020 campaign, mindful of Ms. Klobuchar's reputation.
Among other concerns, her office's paid parental leave policy has been described as unusual on Capitol Hill. Two people familiar with the policy said that those who took paid leave were effectively required, once they returned, to remain with the office for three times as many weeks as they had been gone. The policy, outlined in an employee handbook, called for those who left anyway to pay back money earned during the weeks they were on leave.
After receiving questions about the policy from The Times, Ms. Klobuchar's office said it would be revised. ''We offer 12 weeks of paid maternity and paternity leave for our staff and have one of the strongest paid leave policies in the Senate,'' said a spokeswoman, Elana Ross. ''We've never made staff pay back any of their leave and will be changing that language in the handbook.'' She declined to provide a copy of the current policy as written.
Ms. Klobuchar's supporters say the office environment has never adversely affected her work, cheering her status as a bipartisan pragmatist with a solidly Democratic record and political instincts more moderate than many of her 2020 peers'. They cite her status as a legislative advocate for major national causes like lower prescription drug prices and more local issues like swimming pool safety after a tragic accident in Minnesota.
The senator can also be charming, funny and warm, they say '-- a fixture at staff weddings and birthday parties. Jonathan Becker, her former chief of staff, said that while Ms. Klobuchar could be tough, the intensity was ''exhilarating, too,'' compelling aides to raise their performance.
''Isn't that what the American people want in a president?'' he said. ''They're not looking for mashed potatoes.''
Image Questions about Ms. Klobuchar's behavior toward subordinates have shadowed the early days of her 2020 presidential campaign. Credit Tim Gruber for The New York Times Others said that Ms. Klobuchar often squandered time and mental energy on trivial matters, obsessing over perceived snubs in news media clickbait about who was up or down in Washington and repeatedly suggesting that an inferior staff was standing in her way.
''Senator Leahy, I'm sure he doesn't put up with this,'' she once said of her colleague, Patrick Leahy of Vermont, the longest-serving active senator, according to a person present.
Some former aides who were frequent targets of her ire acknowledged that the senator often had a point, praising her intelligence and political antenna. She has been re-elected in two landslides, including a 24-point victory last year in a state President Trump lost narrowly.
But her blistering feedback to staff was often substantially out of proportion to the offense, these former aides said. Word choice or grammatical issues could make Ms. Klobuchar especially furious, not only in prepared text but also in office meetings or common speech. Words like ''straight-shooting'' and ''absolutely'' were known to invite her scorn. She urged staff members never to say that another senator ''led'' something and asked them to call her a ''co-sponsor'' of legislation instead of a supporter, suggesting that the latter sounded weak.
Ms. Klobuchar's exasperation often appeared connected to two factors: an abiding fear of being embarrassed in front of colleagues or in the press and the conviction that she works harder than her staff.
In one message, in which she said she had not been prepared properly for an event, Ms. Klobuchar reminded her team of the hours she kept.
''Please don't claim lack of time,'' she wrote, asking what else might explain their failure. ''I flew in at one in the morning. I don't have that luxury to blame lack of time. Unless YOU were up working at one am, and up again five am the next day, please don't claim lack of time. That was when I was up.''
In private, she could deliver slashing remarks without particular provocation. Parched one day in the Capitol, she turned to a member of her team and said, ''I would trade three of you for a bottle of water,'' according to a person who witnessed it.
Former aides said Ms. Klobuchar frequently told them they were damaging her political career. On one occasion, a former aide recalled, Ms. Klobuchar accused her of ''ruining my marriage,'' too. (The aide said she interpreted the comment to mean that Ms. Klobuchar, in her telling, was forced to work overtime, away from family, to overcome the aide's failings.)
Many staff members did warmly recall the misery-loves-company camaraderie that built among aggrieved aides. But the core truth of life with Ms. Klobuchar was never going to change, they said: She thought she was demanding their best and getting far less. And she was never going to apologize for pointing that out.
''I need to do some serious soul searching about our office,'' she said in one email, lamenting the team's work product. ''How can you treat me like this time and time again?''
Jonathan Martin contributed reporting. Kitty Bennett contributed research.
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Green New Deal
U.S. judge dismisses boys' lawsuit against Trump climate rollbacks | Reuters
(Reuters) - A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit by two Pennsylvania boys and an environmental group seeking to stop U.S. President Donald Trump from rolling back regulations addressing climate change, saying the court does not have power to tell the White House what to do.
Disagreeing with a judge overseeing a similar case in Oregon, U.S. District Judge Paul Diamond in Philadelphia ruled on Tuesday that the Constitution does not guarantee what the boys and the Clean Air Council called a due process right to a ''life-sustaining climate system.''
Diamond also said the boys, who were 7 and 11 when the lawsuit was filed in November 2017, could not trace their respective severe allergies and asthma to White House policies.
He said this meant the plaintiffs lacked standing to sue Trump, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt and other defendants who had moved to dismiss the case.
''Plaintiffs' disagreement with defendants is a policy debate best left to the political process,'' wrote Diamond, an appointee of President George W. Bush. ''Because I have neither the authority nor the inclination to assume control of the Executive Branch, I will grant defendants' motion.''
Joseph Minott, executive director of the Clean Air Council, said the plaintiffs will review their options as the White House's ''deliberate indifference'' to climate change increases ''the frequency and intensity of its life-threatening effects.''
The U.S. Department of Justice did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Trump has long cast doubt on the science of climate change.
He has announced his intention to withdraw the United States from a two-year-old global agreement to combat climate change, and a proposal to overhaul former President Barack Obama's Clean Power Plan with new rules that would ease pollution controls.
In November, Trump rejected findings in a congressionally mandated National Climate Assessment, which said climate change could reduce U.S. gross domestic product more than 10 percent by the end of this century. (here)
The Eugene, Oregon case was brought by 21 children and young adults also challenging government policies affecting climate change.
Diamond accused U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken, the appointee of President Bill Clinton overseeing that case, of contravening or ignoring ''longstanding authority'' by finding a due process right to ''a climate system capable of sustaining human life.''
The case is Clean Air Council et al v U.S. et al, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania, No. 17-04977.
Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Cynthia Osterman
Draft Climate Change Resolution Office of Senator Dianne Feinstein February 22, 2019 To establish the policy of the United States with respect to climate change mitigation and adaptation. Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, SECTION 1. FINDINGS. Congress finds that'-- (1) the climate is changing as a result of human activities, primarily the combustion of fossil fuels; (2) the changes in climate projected in the coming decades threaten rapid, widespread, concurrent, and long-lasting increases in heat waves, wildfire, disease, drought, crop failure, sea level rise from loss of glaciers and collapse of ice sheets, ocean acidification, mass extinction and collapse of food chains, mass population migrations, and human conflict; (3) changes in climate are already evident in that, since the beginning of the 20th century, the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide has increased by more than one-third, global average temperatures have increased by more than a full degree Fahrenheit, sea levels have risen by more than eight inches, the acidity of surface ocean water has increased by approximately 30 percent, the annual loss of land ice from Antarctica and Greenland has accelerated to a pace of more than 400 gigatons per year, and in that the drought in California from 2011 to 2017 was likely made 15 to 20 percent more intense by global warming, the rainfall in Texas during Hurricane Harvey in 2017 was likely increased 15 to 19 percent due to climate change, and the area burned by wildfire in the Western United States between 1984 and 2015 was doubled due to climate change, among other indications; (4) the scientific community has warned policymakers and the public of these threats for decades with increasing certainty and specificity, including in a Report of the President's Science Advisory Committee in November 1965; five Assessment Reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in March 1990, June 1996, October 2001, September 2007, and November 2014; four National Climate Assessment Reports of the United States Global Change Research Program in November 2000, June 2009, May 2014, and November 2018; and in the Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5' by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in October 2018, among other warnings. SECTION 2. POLICY. It is the policy of the United States that'--
(1) The United States shall reduce net greenhouse gas emissions to zero as soon as possible and by no later than 2050, including by: (A) instituting a price on carbon that increases over time, impels the cooperation of foreign nations, and uses revenues to defray household costs and spur new zero-emission investments; (B) accelerating the pace of research and development to reduce the worldwide costs of technologies that facilitate the reduction of net greenhouse gas emissions to zero; (C) managing land use decisions to avoid unnecessary new demand for energy; (D) completing the transition to zero-emission electricity sources, to electric-drive surface transportation systems, and to efficient systems for the transmission, distribution, and storage of electricity; (E) rapidly eliminating all avoidable emissions from industry, commercial buildings, residential buildings, aviation, shipping, and agriculture, including through improved energy efficiency, generation of power from waste heat, substitutes for hydrofluorocarbons, alternative processes for cement and steel production, anaerobic digestion, and transitioning from fossil fuels to carbon neutral synthetic fuels, biofuels, and electricity; (F) maximizing the removal of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, including through reforestation, improved forest and agricultural soils management, bio-energy power generation with carbon capture and sequestration, carbon mineralization, and the direct air capture of greenhouse gases; (G) recommitting to emissions reduction policies that have already been prepared under existing law, including: (i) remaining a party to the Paris Climate Agreement within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which entered into force on November 4, 2016 with a commitment from the United States to reduce domestic greenhouse gas emissions by 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025; (ii) maintaining the coordinated national program of fuel economy and vehicle emission standards that are currently on course to exceed 50 miles per gallons for new automobiles and trucks by model year 2025, consistent with the standards published by the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on October 15, 2012 at 77 FR 62624, pursuant to the Clean Air Act and the Energy Policy and Conservation Act, as amended by the Ten-in-Ten Fuel Economy Act; (iii) restoring the Clean Power Plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the power sector to 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030, as published by the
Environmental Protection Agency on October 23, 2015 at 80 FR 64661, pursuant to section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act; (iv) restoring the new source performance standards for greenhouse gas emissions from new, modified, and reconstructed power plants as published by the Environmental Protection Agency on October 23, 2015 at 80 FR 64509, pursuant to section 111(b) of the Clean Air Act; (v) resuming the development of energy efficiency standards by the Department of Energy for ceiling fans, walk-in coolers and freezers, uninterruptible power supplies, portable air conditioners, boilers, residential central air conditioners, heat pumps, light bulbs, and other appliances and equipment pursuant to Title 42 of the United States Code, Chapter 77, Subchapter III; (vi) ratifying the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol to phase out hydrofluorocarbons as agreed to on October 15, 2016; (vii) maintaining the methane emission standards for new, reconstructed, and modified oil and gas sector sources as published by the Environmental Protection Agency on June 3, 2016 at 81 FR 35824; (viii) restoring the Waste Prevention Rule to reduce the venting and flaring of methane on public lands as published by the Bureau of Land Management on November 18, 2016 at 81 FR 83008; (ix) reinstating the Interagency Working Group on the Social Cost of Carbon to maintain economic estimates of the social marginal damage of greenhouse gas emissions for use in regulatory cost-benefit analyses, building on the approach employed prior to March 2017; (2) The United States shall prepare to adapt to the changes in climate that cannot be avoided, including by: (A) rebuilding infrastructure to be more resilient to extreme weather; (B) fortifying coastal communities against sea level rise and increased storm surge or else aiding relocation efforts; (C) identifying alternative supplies of drinking water for communities that depend on receding glaciers, increasingly unreliable snowpack and precipitation, or aquifers that will be depleted by increasing drought; (D) developing crops and agricultural practices that will maintain a reliable supply of food for the global population, including preparation for rapid shifts in crop growth zones, variations in nutritional quality, and losses due to extreme weather;
(E) developing conservation practices and genetic catalogs to minimize the biodiversity permanently lost to mass extinction, including preparation for rapid shifts in habitats and worldwide changes in ocean acidity; (F) preparing the public health system for greater risks of vector-borne diseases, asthma, heat stroke, and other health hazards; (G) instituting an international framework for mutual aid in pre-disaster mitigation, post-disaster relief, and the accommodation of dislocated populations; (H) planning for the economic, geographic, demographic, and strategic implications of a navigable arctic ocean; (3) The United States shall ensure a just and equitable transition for all communities, including by: (A) guaranteeing pensions for workers in the coal, oil, and gas industry and providing meaningful training for new economic opportunities within their own communities; (B) ensuring that the infrastructure investments required to mitigate and adapt to climate change will offer good, high-wage jobs in the United States; (C) prioritizing the deployment of zero-emission technologies in communities that suffer localized pollution from sources that also emit greenhouse gases; (D) respecting the needs and wisdom of local communities in planning infrastructure changes, especially communities that have historically been marginalized or oppressed, including indigenous peoples, communities of color, migrant communities, deindustrialized communities, depopulated rural communities, the poor, low-income workers, women, the elderly, the unhoused, people with disabilities, and youth; (E) minimizing the extent and speed of climate change, which will initially harm the most vulnerable individuals and communities disproportionately and will eventually imperil all society.
Carbon Tax on Track for Approval | Jefferson Policy Journal
Once again, both parties at the Virginia General Assembly has pushed forward doomed legislation on a proposed carbon cap and tax regime the state will soon impose on Virginia's fossil fuel electric power plants, with the stalemate leaving Governor Ralph Northam free to move forward. It is like one of those choreographed fist fights in a movie where you can tell the actors have done this all before.
The Republicans in both House and Senate have pushed through on party line votes two bills to prevent the state from joining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative without a vote of the legislature. As happened twice before, the Governor will veto them and be sustained. The requirement that any approval be by a two-thirds vote, as in House Bill 2611, seems excessive and makes a veto easier to justify.
Democrats in both House and Senate proposed bills to grab the revenue from the sale of carbon credits away from utility ratepayers and spend it on other things, confirming that one of the reasons behind this is just to tax Virginians. On the same party line votes, those bills died. The refusal to honestly estimate the amount of the carbon tax also makes opposition easier.
In the meantime, there is a March 6 deadline if you are burning with a desire to comment on the latest version of Virginia's proposed RGGI regulation. If you liked the first version, subjected to comments in 2018, you'll love this revision. If you hated the first version, you will see this one as worse.
It is very much the same, only more so '' starting with the new beginning target for carbon dioxide emission from power plants of 28 million tons per year, down from the first proposal's target of 33 million tons per year. During development of the regulation, it was predicted that emissions in 2019 would be close to 37 million tons. Can we drop that 20-25 percent by next year?
Try to muscle through the document and you find only a small priesthood understands this holy text. The Department of Environmental Quality has complied quite a bit of information on one web site, but it's hard to find easy-to-understand information on what power plants are covered and which will run less or close completely as the state tightens the allowed emissions by 840,000 tons per year for twenty years.
Virginia's membership in RGGI with the other Northeastern states is not mandated by federal law. It has been rejected by the General Assembly twice before, with the bills vetoed. Given that it is a one-state solution in the middle of a vigorous regional generation trading market, it likely will have only a minor impact on regional emissions and make a tiny dent in East Coast CO2 levels. As proposed, it will hardly be free, and only once implemented as its proponents intend will the real cost emerge.
Make no mistake, brilliant protests notwithstanding, the Air Pollution Control Board will vote for this revised regulation, which fills 35 tightly-packed pages in the most recent Virginia Register of Regulations. Governor Northam will most certainly sign off. Your electric bill will do down a little or go up a lot, depending on who you believe. The truth is probably in the middle, a noticeable but not crushing increase.
The State Corporation Commission, in a letter to a legislator, has entered a prediction of $3 billion to $6 billion over ten years of consumer costs on Dominion Energy Virginia, the company that is the main target of this effort. Virginia's other investor-owned utility, Appalachian Power Company, runs only three natural gas generators in its territory, accounting for less than 200,000 tons of annual CO2 output.
Defenders of the proposal are sticking by their claims of minimal customer costs, mainly because as the regulation now reads, the utilities '' not the state '' will garner the revenue from the sale and purchase of carbon allocations and are expected to then pass the benefit along to their customers one way or the other, perhaps through the fuel charge. How that might work is not clear, and there remain concerns the utilities will just keep the money.
In its official comments to the 2018 version, Dominion stated that the various covered generating units (involving several owners, not just it and APCo) had emissions of more than 35 million tons of CO2 in 2016. If so, the target of 28 million for 2020 could prove onerous after all. The cap then shrinks 3 percent '' 840,000 tons '' per year for ten years, getting down below 20 million tons by 2030 and just above 11 million tons by 2040. Last year Dominion put the cost of RGGI compliance at just above $500 million over ten years.
If APCo's three existing units account for less than 200,000 tons, which plants around Virginia must curtail operation or close entirely to drop output relentlessly by 840,000 tons per year? They will be Dominion facilities.
Despite their protests that they do not seek us economic harm, the advocates behind this want the gas and coal plants silent, closed, kaput, sayonara, but we ratepayers will remain on the hook for 100 percent of the capital investment. That adds credibility to the SCC estimate, which includes those stranded capital costs and the loss of revenue if those plants cannot sell power out of state.
A recent argument in the Virginia Mercury that costs of RGGI compliance will be minimal rest upon a couple of major assumptions. The first is that the allowances for carbon emission in Virginia will be ''free.'' The power plant operators will be handed allowances for 28 million tons, and then will enter the RGGI carbon auction to sell and buy with little or no net cost. The year after that, they get 27.16 million tons in allowances, and the year after that 26.32 million. The revenue continues to flow back to the customers.
But the environmental movement, many state legislators and the Governor do not want the proceeds to flow back to ratepayers. They have sought for several years to capture the money for other purposes, as is done in the other Northeastern states that belong to RGGI. In fact, the reason the proposal now calls for the money to flow back and forth to the utilities is the state Constitution prohibits a regulatory agency from creating and spending a tax.
Only the legislature can do that, and to understand how read House Bill 2735. It turns Virginia's proposal into a true carbon tax, with the cash not being used to maintain electricity rates. It failed, but if the Democrats control a future legislature, expect a bill like that to pass. The SCC cost estimate, at the high end, assumes that a such real carbon tax comes soon.
For environmentalists to point to the ''free'' allowances in the pending regulation and argue that will protect us over time is a classic bait and switch. They want the real tax. They are blasting the Republicans who opposed the tax as planet-killers, and will do so in the coming election.
Another huge assumption? In a defense of RGGI membership an advocate in Virginia Mercury states: ''Our nuclear plants, which provide a big chunk of Virginia's electricity, are already operating at full capacity, and that's not expected to change.'' In 2030? Probably true. In 2040? Very, very doubtful, and expect the same environmentalists to be leading the charge to prevent any new licenses.
As with so many things in this arena, the big decisions are being made while the people who will bear the burden and pay the price are unaware.
A version of this column first appeared online in the February 7, 2019 edition of Bacon's Rebellion.
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Snow comes to L.A., with powder in Malibu, Pasadena, West Hollywood - Los Angeles Times
Xavier Bias walked out of the Whole Foods Market in Pasadena and saw another woman looking to the ground puzzled at the white stuff covering the sidewalk.
The woman wasn't sure exactly what she was looking at. But Bias, who is originally from the East Coast, quickly set her straight.
''People didn't know what it was,'' Bias said. ''I was like, no, this is snow.''
It was that kind of day in some parts of Southern California, where snow dropped at extremely low elevation levels, creating a winter wonderland for a short while. Snow fell in Malibu, Pasadena, West Hollywood, Northridge, San Bernardino, Thousand Oaks and other unexpected places.
Snow level hit the 1,000-foot mark, bringing tiny bits of the white stuff into neighborhoods that had not seen snow in decades. But the show was fleeting, lasting in most cases a few minutes before the sun melted anything that had hit the ground.
By Thursday evening, the storms were moving east, with officials saying the snow elevation level had dropped to 800 feet in Orange County. Snow plows were clearing Ortega Highway between Lake Elsinore and San Juan Capistrano.
Snow comes to Rancho Cucamonga, a rare occurrence in Southern California.
An unusually chilly storm system that originated in Alberta, Canada, was lingering over Nevada and had already blanketed Las Vegas with snow early Thursday. Before daybreak, snow was falling in parts of the Southland, dusting Palmdale and the Lucerne Valley. By the early afternoon, it was snowing across Southern California and winter weather had forced the closure of the 5 Freeway through the Grapevine.
''This is probably the coldest storm system I've seen in my time in California,'' said David Sweet, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard. ''We've had cold mornings and freeze conditions, but I don't remember seeing anything quite this cold.''
By around noon, the predictions were proving to be true.
''We're seeing a little bit of everything out there,'' said Eric Boldt, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.
After seeing the confusion on social media and as residents began calling in to the weather service, Boldt took it upon himself to clear things up.
''Correct, that is snow! Lots of confusion today,'' he posted on the National Weather Service's Twitter account.
He explained that if the precipitation bounces off the ground, then it contains ice, which would make it hail or sleet. If it floats, it's snow. In many areas, residents reported seeing small slushy balls, which Boldt said is graupel, snowflakes slightly melted and bunched together.
By Associated Press
Feb 20, 2019 | 8:20 AM
The last time it snowed in downtown Los Angeles was in January 1962, according to Los Angeles Public Library archives. During that storm, heavy snow fell in the mountains and high deserts and dusted parts of downtown and West Los Angeles. Most of the city snow, however, melted quickly.
Snow has dusted portions of Los Angeles County over the years, most recently in 2007, according to newspaper archives.
Palmdale received a fresh dusting of powder overnight from the latest storm. Residents brushed the accumulation off their windshields before leaving for work early Thursday.
Falling snow levels prompted Bear Valley, Morongo, Snowline and Rim of the World school districts in San Bernardino County to close schools Thursday for a rare snow day.
''It's going to be a fairly unusual day,'' Sweet said, ''to say the least.''
With the snow also comes the potential for significant road closures and travel delays. The National Weather Service issued a winter weather advisory warning of hail and snow in the mountains and interior valleys through the evening. Forecasters warned that the 5 Freeway through the Grapevine and Highway 14 from Santa Clarita to the Antelope Valley could see significant delays.
The 5 is likely to be the biggest concern because of the combination of strong northwest winds pushing moisture up the north-facing slopes of nearby mountains and cold temperatures. Motorists could see 3 to 6 inches of snow accumulation at the pass, according to the weather service. Around noon, the California Highway Patrol announced the Grapevine was closed in both directions because of snow. Highway 74 between Palm Desert's southern boundary and Highway 371 near Anza also remained closed because of snowfall, according to Caltrans.
Southern California residents took to social media to express their delight and awe over the rare snowfall. One user reported a ''snow-like substance'' falling in Agoura. Even Jerry O'Connell of ''Stand By Me'' piped in.
''Calabasas, California, where the Kardashians live,'' he said in a video on Twitter, pointing at specks of snow on a car. ''It's snowing right now. Look at this. Snow. Snow. Not hail. Snow.''
Patricia Lewis of Rancho Cucamonga was working in a kitchen when her co-worker told her she should take a look outside. Customers had started leaving the restaurant and pointed their phones toward the sky. Lewis didn't want to miss out.
''It was confusion at first. I thought, this is nothing big, but then I actually saw the white specks and thought, 'Hail doesn't do that.' You could see it floating gently,'' she said. ''[I thought] I need to put this on my [Instagram] story and tell my friends about this.''
The snow kept falling on her way home from work and then suddenly stopped.
The storm is expected to move out of the region overnight, but the chilly weather that has Angelenos bundling up will linger a bit longer. Overnight lows will drop into the high 20s in some areas, but the Southland will see some gradual warming beginning Friday and continuing through next week.
This week's cold snap has dropped temperatures low enough to break at least one record. The Santa Barbara Airport recorded a low of 33 degrees Tuesday, edging out the previous record of 34 degrees set in 1990, Sweet said.
Snow fell in Benedict Canyon in 1949. (Los Angeles Times)
Cold storm system will likely bring lowest snow levels so far this season on Thursday, locally falling to 1500 feet or less. Travel impacts of snow and ice likely on I-5 from Grapevine to Santa Clarita, as well as other low elevation passes across SW Calif. #LAWeather #cawx pic.twitter.com/5WiW6bhYEG
'-- NWS Los Angeles (@NWSLosAngeles) February 20, 2019
UK lawmakers push to outlaw criticism of Zionism | The Electronic Intifada
Jeremy Corbyn giving evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee's investigation into anti-Semitism, flanked by Shami Chakrabarti. (UK Parliament)
A new report by an influential parliamentary committee has recommended that the UK outlaw the word ''Zionist'' when used ''in an accusatory context.''
Published on Sunday, the Home Affairs Select Committee's report also slams Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn for heading a party with ''institutionally anti-Semitic'' elements.
Despite its overwhelming focus on the opposition Labour Party, the committee admits that there is no evidence of a higher prevalence of anti-Semitic attitudes within Labour than in any other party.
At the same time, the report downplays allegations of racism and anti-Semitism in the governing Conservative Party.
Corbyn in a statement Sunday criticized the report's focus on Labour, saying the Conservative-dominated committee had failed to look at ''combating anti-Semitism in other parties.'' He said that ''politicizing anti-Semitism '' or using it as a weapon in controversies between and within political parties '' does the struggle against it a disservice.''
Palestine's BDS National Committee said that the report ''shows a flagrant disregard for Palestinian rights and history.''
European spokesperson Riya Hassan said the report would help ''to suppress freedom of expression'' and would encourage repression against advocates for Palestinian rights.
Defining anti-SemitismThe lawmakers' report recommends adoption into UK law of a controversial definition of anti-Semitism which the BNC's Hassan called ''false, ahistorical and politicized.''
She said the discredited definition conflates criticism of Israel with racism against Jewish people and was ''designed to protect Israel's human rights violations from censure and accountability.''
In a statement, Palestine Solidarity Campaign chair Hugh Lanning said the definition would ''have a chilling effect on what can be said in opposition to Israel's policies of discrimination and oppression towards the Palestinian people.''
In May, the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance adopted a definition of anti-Semitism that includes ''claiming the existence of the state of Israel is a racist endeavor'' or ''applying double standards'' to Israel.
As the parliamentary report acknowledges, the IHRA definition is based on the European Union Monitoring Center's 2005 discussion paper on anti-Semitism.
That widely discredited paper was never officially adopted by any EU body and was eventually ditched by the EUMC's successor agency.
But Israel lobby groups have persisted in promoting it as the ''EUMC definition,'' seeking to have it officially adopted.
The report attempts to mollify criticism by recommending two modifications: that it is not anti-Semitic ''to criticize the government of Israel'' or to ''hold the Israeli government to the same standards as other liberal democracies.''
But the lawmakers still list as examples of anti-Semitism a broad range of political discourse, including ''denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination.''
This could potentially mean that calls for a nonsectarian democracy that gives full and equal rights to Israeli Jews and Palestinians could be defined as anti-Semitic. It could also outlaw the views of Jews who reject Zionism and the creation of a ''Jewish state'' on religious grounds.
''For the purposes of criminal or disciplinary investigations,'' the report asserts, ''use of the words 'Zionist' or 'Zio' in an accusatory or abusive context should be considered inflammatory and potentially anti-Semitic.''
Unfair criticismThe report has also been condemned by Jewish critics of Zionism, Israel's official ideology.
Jonathan Rosenhead, a London School of Economics professor and activist with the group Free Speech on Israel, told The Electronic Intifada that ''Zionism has been the cause of gross injustice to the Palestinians, so in that sense, every usage of the word Zionist is accusatory.''
According to the committee, Shami Chakrabarti's recent report into alleged anti-Semitism in the Labour Party is ''compromised by its failure to deliver a comprehensive set of recommendations.'' It also claims that Chakrabarti's recent appointment to Jeremy Corbyn's shadow cabinet ''has thrown into question the independence of the Labour Party's inquiry.''
Corbyn hit back that the committee had unfairly criticized Chakrabarti, and that her report was an ''unprecedented step for a political party, demonstrating Labour's commitment to fight against anti-Semitism.''
He said Labour would continue to implement her report's recommendations.
In June, Chakrabarti, a widely respected lawyer who headed the civil rights group Liberty for more than a decade, launched the report into allegations of anti-Semitism, many of which were fabricated or exaggerated.
Refuting widespread media claims, her report concluded that ''the Labour Party is not overrun by anti-Semitism,'' but that there is a ''minority'' of ''hateful or ignorant attitudes.''
The Chakrabarti Inquiry was widely welcomed, even by some anti-Palestinian organizations.
Conservatives off the hookThe lawmakers' report acknowledges that ''the majority of anti-Semitic abuse and crime'' comes from the far right.
It also states there is ''no reliable, empirical evidence to support the notion that there is a higher prevalence of anti-Semitic attitudes within the Labour Party than any other political party.'' Despite this, it focuses disproportionately on Labour.
While asserting that ''no party can afford to be complacent,'' the report dedicates only three paragraphs in its 70 pages to allegations of anti-Semitism in the ruling Conservative Party.
One of the two examples it cites allegedly took place at University College London in 2014. A member of the school's Conservative Society allegedly said that ''Jews own everything, we all know it's true. I wish I was Jewish, but my nose isn't long enough.''
Noting that the incident was never even investigated by the party, the report says that ''questions have subsequently been raised about the veracity of the complaint.''
Such skepticism is absent, however, in the report's detailed and highly flawed account of what transpired in Oxford University's Labour Club after Alex Chalmers quit as chair in February.
Chalmers has never offered a shred of public evidence to corroborate his widely publicized claim that ''a large proportion'' of Labour students at Oxford are anti-Semitic.
As reported by The Electronic Intifada in April and May, Chalmers was implicated in a factional dispute within the Labour Party, which involved attempts to smear rivals with unsupported claims of anti-Semitism.
A dossier compiled in May by the trade union Unite shows a long list of racist statements by Conservative ministers and activists, including at least four alleged incidents of anti-Semitism.
Tags Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn Conservative Party Home Affairs Select Committee anti-Zionism zionism Jonathan Rosenhead International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance anti-semitism EUMC Shami Chakrabarti University College London Oxford University Labour Club Oxford University Alex Chalmers Unite (UK union) Chuka Umunna Naz Shah Keith Vaz IHRA definition of anti-Semitism Asa Winstanley's blog Facebook Twitter
Mediacrisis in Duitsland compleet na uitlekken 'Framing Manual' van publieke zender ARD | ThePostOnline
Je hebt dit TPO+ artikel cadeau gekregen van Bert Brussen. Neem ook een abonnement en steun TPO, dan kun je alle TPO+ artikelen altijd lezen. Een abonnement nemen op TPO Plus is makkelijk en snel. Bovendien zorg je er zo al voor 40 Euro per jaar voor dat TPO als onafhankelijk nieuwsmedium kan blijven bestaan.
Niet verrassend, toch wel schokkend. Afgelopen week kwam in de Duitse media naar buiten dat de publieke omroep ARD, in de Nederlandse volksmond ook wel bekend als 'Duitsland 1', expertise heeft ingewonnen van een cognitieve wetenschapper, Elisabeth Wehling ('gespecialiseerd in spraak, gedachten en ideologie'). Ze stelde in 2017 een ruim 80 pagina's tellend en op maat gemaakt 'Framing-Manual' van 'Berkeley University' op, dat vorige week ineens op straat lag.
Wehling is een 37-jarige Hamburgse die naast haar advieswerk in jury's van journalistieke prijzen optreedt en zich graag in politieke kringen begeeft. Maar alsof het uitgelekte 'Framing Manual', waar de vroegere SED-partij in de DDR jaloers op zou zijn, zelf al niet genoeg treurbuisgevoelens oproept, blijkt sinds donderdag dat Wehling's methode helemaal niet aan Berkeley verbonden is. Sterker nog, de universiteit neemt er nadrukkelijk afstand van. Ook dagblad Bild deed navraag bij de universiteit: ''Het 'Berkeley International Framing Institute' is Elisabeth Wehlings eigen merk.'' was de reactie. Misleidend dus.
'Via allerlei radslagen en woordentrucjes wil de ARD blijkbaar voorkomen dat de burger nog waar voor zijn geld wil'Maar ook inhoudelijk ontbreekt het aan een wetenschappelijke basis, viel experts op. Het zou aan empirisch bewijs ontbreken en ''wetenschappelijkheid veinzen om in de juiste politieke hoek in de smaak te vallen'', aldus een professor in Bild. De framing-deskundige framed met andere woorden '' nogmaals, erg verassend is het niet. Maar de schade voor de ARD, in een tijd waarin ook grote Duitse kranten en bladen met nepnieuws van prijswinnende journalisten te maken hebben, is enorm. Ergernis overheerst. Want het is (C)(C)n dat de herinnering aan de DDR nog in de straatnaambordjes zit en in de gewoonten van veel mensen, het is wat anders als de propagandakanalen weer schaamteloos dicteren hoe te denken en je tot vijand uitroepen als ze dat uitkomt. De media hebben zich vergist in hoe groot de weerstand en ergernis is, als propaganda eenmaal voorbij het subtiele gaat en een verplichte mening wordt.
De bijna kinderlijke en r¼cksichtsloze adviezen van Wehling draaien rond een belangrijke kernboodschap: het nooit en te nimmer gebruiken van 'de woorden van de tegenstander', en met 'morele dringendheid' 'feiten' tot 'munitie' maken. Via allerlei radslagen en woordentrucjes wil de ARD, die het handboek al twee jaar onder zich heeft, blijkbaar voorkomen dat de burger nog waar voor zijn geld wil. Het idee van een transactie tussen burger en staat moet vervangen worden door de vrijwillige inlevering van diens eigen mening. Daar komt het eigenlijk op neer.
Inclusief de workshops die volgden voor ARD-medewerkers koste de bijscholing zo'n 120.000 euro (belastinggeld). Voorzitter van de ARD, Ulrich Wilhelm, bevestigde dit maar reageerde met de woorden: ''De ophef over het papier is zwaar overdreven. Het gaat om een reeks workshops uit 2017 en niet om een verplichte communicatie strategie of om een gedragsaanwijzing voor werknemers.'' Ook het landelijke Journalisten-Verband ging in het offensief en noemde termen als 'Wohlf¼hlfloskeln' en 'Sch¶nsprech' om de ophef weg te zetten als een storm in een glas water (waar zouden ze dat bagataliseren vandaan hebben?). Het was allemaal slechts een kwestie van het opleuken van wat je zegt. Daar is toch niets mis mee?
'Nooit eerder kwam zo gedetailleerd naar buiten waarom, hoe en op welke schaal er gemanipuleerd wordt'Maar de zwaar gesubsidieerde Duitse media zijn geen glas water en de onthulling ebt niet weg, Dat heeft ermee te maken dat de Duitse publieke media, n"g meer dan in Nederland het geval is, het podium zijn waarop politiek wordt uitgevochten. Bij gebrek aan een democratische strijd in het parlement (weglopen bij onenigheid is er heel normaal) en andere ruimten voor debat, liggen ze onder een vergrootglas. Angela Merkel en haar propagandamachine hebben daar de afgelopen vijftien jaar dankbaar gebruik van gemaakt. Nu wordt er angstvallig in een vlek gewreven die er niet meer uit gaat, want de media zijn te ver gegaan lijkt het. Zou dit vlekkerige, mediale meubilair dat de term 'L¼genpresse' al ruimschoots overtroffen heeft met de nodige schandalen, opruiing van andersdenkenden en lippendienst aan de elite, eindelijk '' virtueel '' aan de kant worden gezet?
'Het 'Framing Manual' beschrijft vergaande psychologische oorlogsvoering, gebaseerd op herhaling, verwarring zaaien en morele chantage'Nooit eerder kwam zo gedetailleerd naar buiten waarom, hoe en op welke schaal er gemanipuleerd wordt. Tot nu toe was dat vooral voer voor 'complotdenkers'. En dan hebben we het niet over 'een tactiek zoals in de advertentie-industrie', zoals komiek Jan B¶hmermann (van de ARD) het op twitter nog probeerde te vergoelijken. Het 'Framing Manual' beschrijft vergaande psychologische oorlogsvoering, gebaseerd op herhaling, verwarring zaaien en morele chantage (''Wie niet [meer] omroepbijdrage wil betalen is een vijand van de democratie'', staat er letterlijk in). Het viel niet alleen de 'vijanden' van de media op. Ook de zeer linkse website Taz schrijft dat ''het geloof dat men met woordspelletjes inhoudelijke kritiek uit de weg kan ruimen een kapitale fout is.''
Hoewel Wehling haar rapport verdedigt als ''goed voor de democratie'' is haar reactie niet zo relevant. Haar woorden betekenen immers niets in een wereld die in haar beeld (en portemonnee) is gemaakt. E(C)n oudere uitspraak van haar is wel interessant. In een interview bij het radiostation Deutschlandfunk verklaarde ze dat ''de hersenstructuur van Trump-stemmers wezenlijk verschilt van anderen''. Want: ''Van hen weten we dat ze een grotere Amygdala hebben, oftewel een groter gedeelte in de hersenen dat bevattelijk is voor angst en stress en agressie.'' Haar echte expertise is mensen over (C)(C)n kam scheren.
'De angst voor de sceptische, wakkere burger zit er goed in'Over wrijven in de vlek gesproken: de ARD probeert nu ook om het begrip 'framing' wat te verzachten (te framen dus) als iets positiefs, slechts een poging mensen mee te krijgen in het idee van democratische vrijheid. Maar het frame zelf framen blijkt inmiddels een brug te ver voor de noodlijdende Duitse journalistiek, die het ene na het andere schandaal moet verwerken tot 'de normaalste zaak van de wereld' of 'de schuld van rechts'.
Zonder de elite, de regering Merkel in het bijzonder, die ze subsidiren en moreel in het gareel houden, zijn de Duitse reguliere media nergens meer. Ze mengen zich openlijk in elke hatelijke shitstorm (is ook een Duits woord) tegen rechts om het publiek moreel voor zich te winnen. Het Duitse tijdschriftenschap is pas (C)cht een reusachtige Amygdala, zou ik willen beweren, met Mein Kampf-vergelijkingen met de AfD, klimaathysterie en schaamteloze zelffelicitaties (Der Spiegel: ''Wij zeggen hoe het zit''). Maar de rem is nog niet in zicht. De angst voor de sceptische, wakkere burger zit er goed in.
Wie iets dieper naar de inhoud van het 'handboek' kijkt ziet dat die angst vooral de diepe zakken van de ARD betreft. Het ''verbeteren van het beeld van de ARD'', een op zichzelf nobel streven, kon alleen met meer geld van de burger, omdat de omroepen blijkbaar aan de te verdelen 8 miljard per jaar niet meer genoeg hadden. De hele dag Gutmenschen heeft een hoog prijskaartje. Maar hoe? In Duitsland is de financile omroepbijdrage al best hoog. Zo'n twintig euro per maand kost alleen al een publieke zenderpakket, en steeds meer mensen willen onder die verplichting uitkomen (dat zou nu zo'n tien procent van de bevolking zijn). In plaats van zelfreflectie toe te passen, aansluiting te vinden bij wat leeft onder de Duitsers, moest de bijdrage per 2021 omhoog, zo was het plan. Die hobbel, het lospeuteren van geld, was de eerste en belangrijkste '' blijkt uit het 'Framing Manual':
''Sommige leden van onze samenleving houden zich niet aan onze generatie verbindende, democratische afspraak van de gemeenschappelijke, vrije omroep ARD. Zij achten zich niet gebonden aan de democratische afspraak, ze stellen zich democratie vijandig op.''
Met het 'Framing Manual' wordt dus in de eerste plaats een manier voorgesteld om (zoals ook in de DDR met 'unsere Menschen' gebeurde) 'onze medeburgers' mee te krijgen in het belang van de publieke omroep en critici ('tegenstanders') onschadelijk te maken, namelijk met moraal:
''Als u (ARD, red.) uw medeburgers de opgaven en doelen van de ARD duidelijk maakt en ze tegen de georkestreerde aanvallen van tegenstanders verdedigen wil, dan moet uw communicatie niet in de vorm van louter feitelijke argumenten komen, maar altijd in morele frames, zodat de feiten die u belangrijk vindt urgentie krijgen en naar uw inzicht, niet die van de tegenstander, zullen worden ge¯nterpreteerd.''
''Wie maximale framing-effecten wil bereiken moet ook letten op morele coherentie. Als een instituut op moreel coherente wijze communiceert, zo laat empirisch onderzoek zien, groeit het vertrouwen bij de medeburger. Het geschapen vertrouwen leidt in de hoofden van mensen tot een algemene en duurzame herwaardering en loyaliteit aan het instituut.''
In het 'Framing Manual' valt verder op dat de ARD weet dat ze een geloofwaardigheidsprobleem hebben dat opgelost moet worden, maar dat de oorzaken van de burgerlijke onmin met de Duitse media niet aan bod kunnen komen, zelfs niet bij wijze van een oorzaak dat met cosmetische en psychologische ingrepen opgelapt moet worden. 'Het probleem' wordt volledig gereduceerd tot een issue van bereidwilligheid tegenover dwarsheid van burgers die niet 'de onze' zijn.
Ik moest denken aan een essay wat ik las in de Groene Amsterdammer van de Italiaan Alessandro Baricco, over de kloof tussen elite en burger, en het voorbeeld van het 'Framing Manual' is er het levende bewijs van:
''Het eerste wat je zag [toen het elitaire DNA van de Europese Unie zichtbaar werd] is hoe de elite zich is gaan bewegen toen zij eindelijk snapte dat ze onder vuur lag. Ze is verstijfd in haar eigen zekerheden en kwam met een verklaring die alles zo snel mogelijk weer op orde zou krijgen: de mensen waren ineens totaal gaga geworden, waarschijnlijk omdat ze gemanoeuvreerd werden door een nieuwe generatie leiders zonder enig verantwoordelijkheidsgevoel, zonder enig bezwaar tegen smerig spel, handig in het zich richten tot de onderbuik van de burgers, daar waar eventuele intelligentie bestond deze handig onderuit halend.''
Baricco kreeg een hoop kritiek op dit essay in eigen land, ook daar was het de elite die geagiteerd en ontwijkend brieste: ''Dit gaat niet over ons!''. Ook in de Duitse elite, waar de media een belangrijke kruiwagen voor is, is er sprake van die verstijving. En als een kat in het nauw vergeten ze hoe krachteloos hun desperate pogingen er voor de gewone man uitzien. Dit Framing Manual werd nog met droge ogen verdedigd door ARD en alle Merkel-media die allemaal 'alternativ-los' zijn, muurvast zitten. Een ook dat schreef Baricco: ''There is no alternative'' voor de elite. Het is definitief vallen of eindeloos doordromen en drammen. Dat laatste dus maar.
Je kunt met steeds meer begrip, in de niet-vergoelijkende zin, kijken naar wat er op het niveau van deze instituten, zoals ook de publieke omroep in Duitsland, gebeurt. Ook de verhalen van binnenuit tonen een luguber beeld van een zuiver politiek, gesloten netwerk waarin de partijlijn van Merkel de pers in de greep houdt. Zo sprak ik in 2017 met een oud-medewerker van de ARD in Keulen, Claudia Zimmerman. Zij werd weggepest nadat ze in een radio-uitzending beschreef dat de aanrandingen tijden Nieuwjaarsnacht in Keulen niet verslagen mochten worden, evenals andere 'negatieve' kanten van Merkels beleid.
Wat leert deze ophef ons? De ARD heeft niet de moed of het inzicht om de kritiek (en de weerstand tegen een verhoging van de omroepbijdrage) als gegrond te zien, het is er simpelweg niet toe in staat. Zo kon het gebeuren dat Robert Habeck, de partijleider van de Groenen, met de kleinste partij in de Bondsdag, dertien uitnodigingen kreeg bij de ARD en ZDF. En dat politici van de grootste oppositiepartij, de AfD, maar drie keer mochten komen. Ook kreeg Angela Merkel en haar partij-opvolgster Annegret Kamp-Karrenbauer eindeloos politieke zendtijd de afgelopen jaren, zonder enige kritische vraag. De onvrede daarover bij mensen die de tv uitzetten of zich online boos uitlaten is begrijpelijk in elke mogelijke zin van het woord.
Maar nee, volgens het 'Framing Manual' moet de zender een ''Gemeinwohlmedien'' worden, een fijne gezamenlijke media, wat het dus niet is of ooit zal worden. Ook niet als je onafhankelijke media 'kapitalistische sprinkhanen' gaat noemen.
Overigens heeft de ARD het door het publiek betaalde 'Framing Manual' niet zelf naar buiten willen brengen en zien ze dat als spijtig. De AfD twitterde: ''U betaalt voor uw eigen framing''. Waarheid als een koe. En het kwam ook nog eens naar buiten via zo'n hebberige sprinkhaan. Het zit ze allemaal niet mee.
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Coast Guard officer arrested for plotting murder attacks on press, Democrats
Stockpile of weapons and equipment possed by Lt. Christopher Paul Hasson. (U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland/Released)
A U.S. Coast Guard officer is suspected of being a domestic terrorist who was plotting to attack and murder members of the press and politicians, authorities said this week.
Lt. Christopher Paul Hasson was arrested Friday for illegal gun possession, a charge prosecutors described as the ''proverbial tip of the iceberg'' after Hasson was discovered with a ''hit list'' and plot to take out prominent Democratic figures and members of the press, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.
Among the allegations, prosecutors said Hasson was ''bent on committing acts dangerous to human life that are intended to affect governmental conduct,'' and said his actions demonstrated that he was a domestic terrorist.
Hasson had compiled a hit list of Democrat targets, which included House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Sen. Richard Blumenthal, and former chairman of Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, John Podesta.
''The defendant intends to murder innocent civilians on a scale rarely seen in this country,'' prosecutors wrote in court documents.
Coast Guard Lt. Christopher Paul Hasson compiled hit list targeting Democrats, media figures, prosecutors say https://t.co/BxpdW9tYhC
'-- ABC7 Eyewitness News (@ABC7) February 21, 2019
At the time of Hasson's arrest, officials also discovered body armor, and a range of medications intended to ''increase his ability to conduct attacks.'' He also possessed synthetic urine, which he had purchased online to use in the event of random drug tests.
Hasson is scheduled to appear in court Thursday for a judge to decide if he should remain in pretrial confinement. Prosecutors filed a motion for him to remain in confinement.
Hasson carefully crafted his hit list using Excel and internet research he performed over a month.
Investigators combed his computer browsing history and found that he'd been searching terms such as ''where do most senators live in dc'' and other searches to discover whether or not members of Congress and Supreme Court justices were protected by law enforcement.
Hasson had reportedly stockpiled weapons since 2017, consisting of handguns and rifles, as well as lower receivers so he could assemble firearms without serial numbers or a government paper trail.
Hasson was working in Washington, D.C. at the Coast Guard headquarters as an acquisition officer.
It's not clear what tipped off authorities, but his arrest was preceded by a joint investigation with the Coast Guard Investigation Services, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Department of Justice (DOJ).
While Hasson did not receive weapons or tactical training in the Coast Guard, he previously served in the Marine Corps and National Guard.
Hasson was a self-proclaimed ''white supremacist'' of 30 years, prosecutors said.
Investigators also discovered a trail of white supremacist, neo-Nazi ideology in letters written by Hasson. In one of the letters, he admittedly advocated for ''focused violence'' and aspirations of a ''white homeland.''
According to court documents, Lt. Christopher Paul Hasson wrote a letter to an unnamed neo-Nazi in September 2017 advocating for a ''white homeland.'' In the letter he wrote: ''I am writing you in regards to your ideas behind North West migration.'' https://t.co/GVovcb8VjP
'-- Southern Poverty Law Center (@splcenter) February 21, 2019
He also admitted to being a ''skinhead'' for 30 years '' a period spanning longer than his military career.
Ministry of Truthiness
Under Armour CEO reportedly had 'problematic' ties to MSNBC anchor
Correspondent Stephanie Ruhle (l) and Under Armour CEO, Kevin Plank (r).
Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank had a close relationship with MSNBC anchor Stephanie Ruhle that some deemed to be "problematic," The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.
The report said Plank brought Ruhle on his personal private jet and took her business advice, citing people familiar with the matter. In some cases, advice on topics like how to manage his relationship with President Donald Trump, superseded that of some executives, the Journal said, citing sources.
Employees viewed her input as unusual, because "many people believed she was romantically involved with Mr. Plank," the paper reported.
A person familiar with the situation told CNBC that the relationship between Ruhle and Plank had no impact on Under Armour business. The person requested anonymity due to the sensitivities surrounding the matter.
The Journal report cited Under Armour's senior vice president of communications, Kelley McCormick, as saying "Mr. Plank and Ms. Ruhle are friends." She also added, "The idea that Mr. Plank uniquely listens to any one individual is absurd."
The company's board became aware of Plank's relationship with Ruhle after it discovered emails that "showed an intimate relationship between them," the paper said, citing sources. The board asked Plank about his relationship with Ruhle and were told it "was a private matter and that no company funds were spent."
A person familiar with the situation reiterated to CNBC that no Under Armour money was spent pertaining to Plank's relationship with Ruhle.
The news comes at an inopportune time for the sportswear company, which has been looking to turnaround its company culture. Plank has said he wants to build a "diverse" and "inclusive" company, following reports the company had been letting its employees charge visits to strip clubs on their corporate cards.
"All these things that are coming out, it's difficult," Plank told CNBC's Sara Eisen in a December interview. "You know, we are in our 14th year as a public company. That much time in the arena means that at some point you are going to have to retool the machine."
MSNBC declined to comment.
An Under Armour spokeswoman referred CNBC to her statements to the Wall Street Journal.
Shares of Under Armour dipped by nearly 2 percent Thursday.
WATCH: Plank talks about rebuilding into a premium brand
Disclosure: MSNBC and CNBC are divisions of NBCUniversal.
You Give Apps Sensitive Personal Information. Then They Tell Facebook. - WSJ
Millions of smartphone users confess their most intimate secrets to apps, including when they want to work on their belly fat or the price of the house they checked out last weekend. Other apps know users' body weight, blood pressure, menstrual cycles or pregnancy status.
Unbeknown to most people, in many cases that data is being shared with someone else: Facebook Inc.
The social-media giant collects intensely personal information from many popular smartphone apps just seconds after users enter it, even if the user has no connection to Facebook, according to testing done by The Wall Street Journal. The apps often send the data without any prominent or specific disclosure, the testing showed.
It is already known that many smartphone apps send information to Facebook about when users open them, and sometimes what they do inside. Previously unreported is how at least 11 popular apps, totaling tens of millions of downloads, have also been sharing sensitive data entered by users. The findings alarmed some privacy experts who reviewed the Journal's testing.
Facebook is under scrutiny from Washington and European regulators for how it treats the information of users and nonusers alike. It has been fined for allowing now defunct political-data firm Cambridge Analytica illicit access to users' data and has drawn criticism for giving companies special access to user records well after it said it had walled off that information.
In the case of apps, the Journal's testing showed that Facebook software collects data from many apps even if no Facebook account is used to log in and if the end user isn't a Facebook member.
Apple Inc. and Alphabet Inc.'s Google, which operate the two dominant app stores, don't require apps to disclose all the partners with whom data is shared. Users can decide not to grant permission for an app to access certain types of information, such as their contacts or locations. But these permissions generally don't apply to the information users supply directly to apps, which is sometimes the most personal.
In the Journal's testing, Instant Heart Rate: HR Monitor, the most popular heart-rate app on Apple's iOS, made by California-based Azumio Inc., sent a user's heart rate to Facebook immediately after it was recorded.
Flo Health Inc.'s Flo Period & Ovulation Tracker, which claims 25 million active users, told Facebook when a user was having her period or informed the app of an intention to get pregnant, the tests showed.
Real-estate app Realtor.com, owned by Move Inc., a subsidiary of Wall Street Journal parent News Corp , sent the social network the location and price of listings that a user viewed, noting which ones were marked as favorites, the tests showed.
None of those apps provided users any apparent way to stop that information from being sent to Facebook.
Facebook said some of the data sharing uncovered by the Journal's testing appeared to violate its business terms, which instruct app developers not to send it ''health, financial information or other categories of sensitive information.'' Facebook said it is telling apps flagged by the Journal to stop sending information its users might regard as sensitive. The company said it may take additional action if the apps don't comply.
''We require app developers to be clear with their users about the information they are sharing with us,'' a Facebook spokeswoman said.
At the heart of the issue is an analytics tool Facebook offers developers, which allows them to see statistics about their users' activities'--and to target those users with Facebook ads. Although Facebook's terms give it latitude to use the data uncovered by the Journal for other purposes, the spokeswoman said it doesn't do so.
Facebook tells its business partners it uses customer data collected from apps to personalize ads and content on Facebook and to conduct market research, among other things. A patent the company applied for in 2015, which was approved last year, describes how data from apps would be stored on Facebook servers where it could be used to help the company's algorithms target ads and select content to show users.
Apple said its guidelines require apps to seek ''prior user consent'' for collecting user data and take steps to prevent unauthorized access by third parties. ''When we hear of any developer violating these strict privacy terms and guidelines, we quickly investigate and, if necessary, take immediate action,'' the company said.
A Google spokesman declined to comment beyond pointing to the company's policy requiring apps that handle sensitive data to ''disclose the type of parties to which any personal or sensitive user data is shared,'' and in some cases to do so prominently.
Before Alice Berg began using Flo to track her periods last June, she checked the app's terms of service. The 25-year-old student in Oslo says she had grown more cautious about sharing data with apps and wanted to ensure that only a limited amount of her data would be shared with third-parties like Facebook.
Now Ms. Berg said she may delete the app. ''I think it's incredibly dishonest of them that they're just lying to their users especially when it comes to something so sensitive,'' she said.
Flo initially said in a written statement that it doesn't send ''critical user data'' and that the data it does send Facebook is ''depersonalized'' to keep it private and secure.
The Journal's testing, however, showed sensitive information was sent with a unique advertising identifier that can be matched to a device or profile. A Flo spokeswoman subsequently said the company will ''substantially limit'' its use of external analytics systems while it conducts a privacy audit.
The Journal tested more than 70 apps that are among the most popular in Apple's iOS store in categories that handle sensitive user information. The Journal used software to monitor the internet communications triggered by using an app, including the information being sent to Facebook and other third parties. The tests found at least 11 apps sent Facebook potentially sensitive information about how users behaved or actual data they entered.
Among the top 10 finance apps in Apple's U.S. app store as of Thursday, none appeared to send sensitive information to Facebook, and only two sent any information at all. But at least six of the top 15 health and fitness apps in that store sent potentially sensitive information immediately after it was collected.
Disconnect Inc., a software company that makes tools for people to manage their online privacy, was commissioned by the Journal to retest some of the apps. The company confirmed the Journal's findings, and said Facebook's terms allowing it to use the data it collected were unusual.
''This is a big mess,'' said Patrick Jackson, Disconnect's chief technology officer, who analyzed apps on behalf of the Journal. ''This is completely independent of the functionality of the app.''
The software the Journal used in its tests wasn't able to decipher the contents of traffic from Android apps. Esther Onfroy, co-founder of cybersecurity firm Defensive Lab Agency, conducted a separate test showing that at least one app flagged by the Journal's testing, BetterMe: Weight Loss Workouts, was in its Android version also sharing users' weights and heights with Facebook as soon as they were entered.
Apps often integrate code known as software-development kits, or SDKs, that help developers integrate certain features or functions. Any information shared with an app may also be shared with the maker of the embedded SDK. There are an array of SDKs, including Facebook's, that allow apps to better understand their users' behavior or to collect data to sell targeted advertising.
Such data-sharing among apps through the use of SDKs is ''industry standard practice,'' a Facebook spokeswoman said.
Facebook's SDK, which is contained in thousands of apps, includes an analytics service called ''App Events'' that allows developers to look at trends among their users. Apps can tell the SDK to record a set of standardized actions taken by users, such as when a user completes a purchase. App developers also can define ''custom app events'' for Facebook to capture'--and that is how the sensitive information the Journal detected was sent.
Facebook says on its website it uses customer data from its SDK, combined with other data it collects, to personalize ads and content, as well as to ''improve other experiences on Facebook, including News Feed and Search content ranking capabilities.''
But the spokeswoman said Facebook doesn't use custom events'--the ones that can contain sensitive information'--for those purposes. She said Facebook automatically deletes some sensitive data it might receive, such as Social Security numbers.
She said Facebook is now looking into how to search for apps that violate its terms, and to build safeguards to prevent Facebook from storing sensitive data that apps may send.
Privacy lawyers say the collection of health data by nonhealth entities is legal in most U.S. states, provided there is sufficient disclosure in an app's and Facebook's terms of service. The Federal Trade Commission has taken an interest in cases in which data sharing deviates widely from what users might expect, particularly if any explanation was hard for users to find, said Woodrow Hartzog, a professor of law and computer science at Northeastern University.
After being contacted by the Journal, Breethe Inc., maker of a meditation app of the same name, stopped sending Facebook the email address each user used to log in to the app, as well as the full name of each meditation completed.
In the European Union, the processing of some sensitive data, such as health or sexual information, is more tightly regulated. The EU's new privacy law usually requires companies to secure explicit consent to collect, process or share such data'--and making consent a condition of using a service usually isn't valid.
Some privacy experts who reviewed the Journal's findings said the practices may be in violation of that law. ''For the sensitive data, companies basically always need consent'--likely both the app developer and Facebook,'' said Frederik J. Zuiderveen Borgesius, a law professor at Radboud University in the Netherlands.
The Facebook spokeswoman said the company is in compliance with the EU privacy law.
Facebook allows users to turn off the company's ability to use the data it collects from third-party apps and websites for targeted ads. There is currently no way to stop the company from collecting the information in the first place, or using it for other purposes, such as detecting fake accounts. Germany's top antitrust enforcer earlier this month ordered Facebook to stop using that data at all without permission, a ruling Facebook is appealing.
Under pressure over its data collection, Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said last year that the company would create a feature called ''Clear History'' to allow users to see what data Facebook had collected about them from applications and websites, and to delete it from Facebook. The company says it is still building the technology needed to make the feature possible.
Data drawn from mobile apps can be valuable. Advertising buyers say that because of Facebook's insights into users' behavior, it can offer marketers better return on their investment than most other companies when they seek users who are, say, exercise enthusiasts, or in the market for a new sports car. Such ads fetch a higher cost per click.
That is partly why Facebook's revenue is soaring. Research firm eMarketer projects that Facebook this year will account for 20% of the $333 billion world-wide digital-advertising market.
In a call to discuss the company's most recent earnings, however, Chief Financial Officer David Wehner noted that investors should be aware that Apple and Google could possibly tighten their privacy controls around apps. That possibility, he said, is ''an ongoing risk that we're monitoring for 2019.''
'--Mark Secada, Yoree Koh and Kirsten Grind contributed to this article.
Write to Sam Schechner at email@example.com
Stop saying, 'We take your privacy and security seriously' | TechCrunch
In my years covering cybersecurity, there's one variation of the same lie that floats above the rest. ''We take your privacy and security seriously.''
You might have heard the phrase here and there. It's a common trope used by companies in the wake of a data breach '-- either in a ''mea culpa'' email to their customers or a statement on their website to tell you that they care about your data, even though in the next sentence they all too often admit to misusing or losing it.
The truth is, most companies don't care about the privacy or security of your data. They care about having to explain to their customers that their data was stolen.
I've never understood exactly what it means when a company says it values my privacy. If that were the case, data hungry companies like Google and Facebook, which sell data about you to advertisers, wouldn't even exist.
I was curious how often this go-to one liner was used. I scraped every reported notification to the California attorney general, a requirement under state law in the event of a breach or security lapse, stitched them together, and converted it into machine-readable text.
About one-third of all 285 data breach notifications had some variation of the line.
It doesn't show that companies care about your data. It shows that they don't know what to do next.
A perfect example of a company not caring: Last week, we reported several OkCupid users had complained their accounts were hacked. More likely than not, the accounts were hit by credential stuffing, where hackers take lists of usernames and passwords and try to brute-force their way into people's accounts. Other companies have learned from such attacks and took the time to improve account security, like rolling out two-factor authentication.
Instead, OkCupid's response was to deflect, defend and deny, a common way for companies to get ahead of a negative story. It looked like this:
Deflect: ''All websites constantly experience account takeover attempts,'' the company said.Defend: ''There's no story here,'' the company later told another publication.Deny: ''No further comment,'' when asked what the company will do about it.It would've been great to hear OkCupid say it cared about the matter and what it was going to do about it.
Every industry has long neglected security. Most of the breaches today are the result of shoddy security over years or sometimes decades, coming back to haunt them. Nowadays, every company has to be a security company, whether it's a bank, a toymaker or a single app developer.
Companies can start off small: tell people how to reach contact them with security flaws, roll out a bug bounty to encourage bug submissions and grant good-faith researchers safe harbor by promising not to sue. Startup founders can also fill their executive suite with a chief security officer from the very beginning. They'd be better off than 95 percent of the world's richest companies that haven't even bothered.
But this isn't what happens. Instead, companies would rather just pay the fines.
Target paid $18.5 million for a data breach that ensnared 41 million credit cards, compared to full-year revenues of $72 billion. Anthem paid $115 million in fines after a data breach put 79 million insurance holders' data at risk, on revenues that year of $79 billion. And, remember Equifax? The biggest breach of 2017 led to all talk but no action.
With no incentive to change, companies will continue to parrot their usual hollow remarks. Instead, they should do something about it.
Apple's Latest Macs Have a Serious USB Audio Problem - ExtremeTech
By Joel Hruska on February 20, 2019 at 10:30 am This site may earn affiliate commissions from the links on this page.
Apple's Macintosh systems equipped with the company's T2 processor reportedly have a serious audio bug that may be related to how that chip interacts with the rest of the system.
There have been reports of various audio drop-outs and problems almost since the new systems launched, but that's not automatically surprising given the need for OS updates and software tweaks to support new hardware. The problems '-- and to be clear, this is separate from the other speaker issues reported with the new Macs, or the Adobe Premiere Pro problem reported earlier in February '-- are supposedly linked to, or at least exist simultaneously alongside, the T2 chip.
A bug report on OpenRadar by ricciadamsdocuments the initial issue. The author writes:
I've been having random audio overloads on my new 2018 MacBook Air. After browsing several logs, I noticed that IOAudioEngine::pauseAudioEngine() was called immediately after the 'timed' process attempted to synchronize the local time to a network time server.
This issue is 100% reproducible and persists across reboots. While audio was playing, I opened up Date & Time preferences and repeatably [sic] toggled the ''Set date and time automatically'' check box. Each time I turned this setting on, I saw a log entry for IOAudioEngine::pauseAudioEngine(). These pauses are often long enough to cause an audio overload.
This problem doesn't occur on 2015 or 2017 Macintosh systems '-- just the 2018 systems equipped with a T2 processor. It may also be related to system power management, as one user reported success disabling it to resolve the problem. But either way, there are periodic audio drop-outs and failures when attempting to perform audio processing over the USB bus using a number of professional tools.
The reason everyone seems to think it's linked to the T2 security processor is because of the behavior in question. Apple's previous Macs, including Macs with the T1 chip, don't seem to have this problem. Peripherals attached to the Thunderbolt bus are at least less likely to evince issues, depending on how the device extends or creates its USB interfaces. Some USB-C devices that implement USB2 are also impacted, and equipment from Native Instruments, RME, Apogee, Yamaha, and MOTU (among potentially others) are collectively affected.
According to Apple, the T2 processor ''is Apple's second-generation, custom silicon for Mac. By redesigning and integrating several controllers found in other Mac computers'--such as the System Management Controller, image signal processor, audio controller, and SSD controller'--the T2 chip delivers new capabilities to your Mac.'' The issue appears to be related to the way the system handles audio when synchronizing the system clock. Bug reports and documentation are available at multiple sites online. (Each word is linked to a separate report).
Apple's 2018 Mac refresh cycle, particularly the 2018 MacBook Pro, genuinely appears to be one of the worst refresh cycles the company has ever kicked out the door. Almost as soon as these systems appeared, there were reports slamming their heavy throttling. This was resolved with a UEFI update. But in the months since, we've had reports that the third-generation keyboard on the MBP still can't prevent a single grain of dust from breaking the keyboard. It reduces, but does not solve, this problem. There have been at least two separate problems with audio issues causing actual physical speaker damage. The wires that connect the display to the GPU are prone to breakage, requiring the replacement of some $600 worth of screen rather than a $6 cable. And now, there's yet another audio bug, this time related to a piece of custom silicon that Apple built and designed for itself. The conversation around Apple hardware in 2018 and 2019 has been dominated by problems to a degree that I genuinely don't recall being true in previous years dating back to at least the company's mobile GPU problem with Nvidia a decade or so ago.
Apple, for years, has benefited from the advantage of being a custom hardware designer '-- namely, that you can slap a shiny badge labeled ''Custom-built'' on the equipment you sell. But the downside to building your own equipment is that when things fail, the problem lands squarely on your own doorstep. These audio issues appear mostly or entirely unique to Macs with T2 chips. Assuming that's true, it would mean Apple either didn't perform due diligence on its own equipment or it knew and shipped the hardware broken. Given what it pulled with the iPhone 6 Plus, either is possible. But the end result is that the company that once led with ''It just works'' as a motto for its hardware and software is slowly acquiring a very different reputation, particularly with regard to how it treats its professional customers.
Feature image by iFixit
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Some American Airlines In-Flight TVs Have Cameras In Them
tech American Airlines told BuzzFeed News that the camera hardware ''has never been activated.''
By Nicole Nguyen
Posted on February 21, 2019, at 12:15 p.m. ET
A viral photo showing a camera in a Singapore Airlines in-flight TV display recently caused an uproar online. The image was retweeted hundreds of times, with many people expressing concern about the privacy implications. As it turns out, some seat-back screens in American Airlines' premium economy class have them, too.
Sri Ray was aboard an American Airlines Boeing 777-200 flight to Tokyo in September 2018 when he noticed something strange: a camera embedded in the seat back of his entertainment system.
''I am what one would call security paranoid,'' said Ray, who was formerly a site reliability engineer at BuzzFeed. ''I observe tech in day-to-day life and wonder how a malicious person can use it in bad ways. When I looked at the shiny new screens in the new premium economy cabin of AA, I noticed a small circle at the bottom. Upon closer inspection, it was definitely a camera.''
The cameras are also visible in this June 2017 review of the airline's premium economy offering by the Points Guy, as well as this YouTube video by Business Traveller magazine.
American Airlines spokesperson Ross Feinstein confirmed to BuzzFeed News that cameras are present on some of the airlines' in-flight entertainment systems, but said ''they have never been activated, and American is not considering using them.'' Feinstein added, ''Cameras are a standard feature on many in-flight entertainment systems used by multiple airlines. Manufacturers of those systems have included cameras for possible future uses, such as hand gestures to control in-flight entertainment.''
After Twitter user Vitaly Kamluk saw a similar lens on Singapore Airlines and tweeted photos of the system last week, the airline responded from its official Twitter account, saying the cameras were ''disabled.''
Just found this interesting sensor looking at me from the seat back on board of Singapore Airlines. Any expert opinion of whether this a camera? Perhaps @SingaporeAir could clarify how it is used?
05:43 AM - 17 Feb 2019 Like American Airlines, Singapore Airlines said the touchscreens weren't intentionally designed with a camera but rather bought off-the-shelf from manufacturers with the cameras already integrated: ''We would like to share that some of our newer in-flight entertainment systems provided by the original equipment manufacturers do have a camera embedded in the hardware. ... These cameras have been disabled on our aircraft, and there are no plans to develop any features using the cameras.''
Still, the airlines could quell passengers' concerns by covering the lenses with a plastic cover, if indeed there is no use for the camera.
More and more devices have cameras built into them. From smartphones to tablets to Alexa-powered smart speakers, cameras have become the norm, rather than the exception, for most hardware '-- and, with security breaches of internet-connected wireless cameras becoming increasingly common, it's not illogical to think that, if a device has a lens, someone could be watching you from the other side. It may not necessarily be the airline interested in that footage, but it's something hackers could exploit.
inching closer to Black mirror every day.free idea: you're in a big metal tube for 12 hours and the screen demands you must pay attention or you won't get food https://t.co/JkozbkSNOF
01:47 AM - 19 Feb 2019 Cameras aren't the only concern. Researchers found that the internet-connected Hello Barbie doll by Mattel could be hacked, allowing people to listen in on snippets of conversation recorded by the doll's microphone. Another ''smart'' toy called CloudPets inadvertently leaked 2 million recordings of parents and their kids interacting. Additionally, security experts discovered CloudPets could easily be turned into a spy device. The issue was so prevalent in the toys that the FBI issued a privacy and security notice urging parents to reconsider the gadgets as gifts.
And when Google recently announced that its voice-activated bot, Google Assistant, was coming to the company's alarm system, Nest Guard, some customers were surprised to discover that the device had a microphone already embedded. ''Have I had a device with a hidden microphone in my house this entire time?'' wrote Twitter user treaseye. While Google said the device's always-listening assistant was opt-in, could be disabled at any time, and ''has not been used up to this point,'' it's unsettling to think about hidden microphones and cameras that could be remotely activated, lurking in our homes.
@nest where in any of the nest guard product materials does it mention a microphone? Have I had a device with a hidden microphone in my house this entire time?
07:36 PM - 04 Feb 2019 Topics In This Article Privacy
Microsoft Edge lets Facebook run Flash code behind users' backs | ZDNet
Microsoft's Edge browser contains a secret whitelist that lets Facebook run Adobe Flash code behind users' backs.
The whitelist allows Facebook Flash content to bypass Edge security features such as the click-to-play policy that normally prevents websites from running Flash code without user approval beforehand.
Prior to February 2019, the secret Flash whitelist contained 58 entries, including domains and subdomains for Microsoft's main site, the MSN portal, music streaming service Deezer, Yahoo, and Chinese social network QQ, just to name the biggest names on the list.
Microsoft trimmed down the list to two Facebook domains earlier this month after a Google security researcher discovered several security flaws in Edge's secret Flash whitelist mechanism.
Ivan Fratric, the Google Project Zero security researcher who found the this whitelist, described the security flaws he found as follows:
- An XSS vulnerability on any of the domains would allow bypassing click2play policy [and running malicious Flash code on these domains].- There are already *publicly known* and *unpatched* instances of XSS vulnerabilities on at least some of the whitelisted domains.- The whitelist is not limited to https. Even in the absence of an XSS vulnerability, this would allow a MITM attacker to bypass the click2play policy.
Italic texts are additions made by ZDNet, for clarity.
Fratric filed a bug report with Microsoft last November, and Microsoft delivered a fix with this month's Patch Tuesday fixes by restricting the list from 58 URLs to only two domains and enforcing HTTPS for all domains included on the list. The bug report also contains the original version of the whitelist, with all the 58 domains.
In its current version, Edge will allow Facebook to execute any Flash widget that has a dimension of over 398x298 pixels and is hosted on the https://www.facebook.com and https://apps.facebook.com domains. Most likely, Facebook is on Microsoft's Edge whitelist to support the social network's large collection of legacy Flash games.
For any other Flash widget on any other website, Edge will respect its default click-to-play policy, meaning websites are not allowed to execute Flash without users' permission, which usually means enabling Flash execution through an address bar icon.
Commenting on Twitter, the Google security researcher showed his surprise on how and who was managing the whitelist, and how it came to be.
"So many sites for which I'm completely baffled as to why they're there," Fratric said. "Like a site of a hairdresser in Spain((link: http://www.dgestilistas.es) dgestilistas.es)?! I wonder how the list was formed. And if [the Microsoft Security Response Center] knew about it."
When we reached out for comment, a Facebook spokesperson said they didn't ask Microsoft to be on the whitelist, and that they asked Microsoft to remove Facebook domains from the list.
Microsoft, on the other hand, didn't directly answer our questions regarding the whitelist, providing a statement on Flash's impending removal from Edge.
"We are nearing the point where Flash is no longer part of the default experience in Microsoft Edge on any site and the recent changes in February were the next step of the transition plan," the company told us.
Adobe and major browser makers are set to sunset Flash by the end of 2020, while Microsoft has announced plans to switch Edge from its proprietary EdgeHTML browser engine to Google's Chromium.
Updated with comments from Facebook and Microsoft.
More browser coverage: Google backtracks on Chrome modifications that would have crippled ad blockersGoogle Chrome 73 to officially support the multimedia keys on your keyboardGoogle publishes 14 official Chrome themesGoogle is running an auto-update-to-HTTPS experiment in ChromeWindows 10 Timeline Chrome extension has just landed from MicrosoftGoogle working on new Chrome security feature to 'obliterate DOM XSS'What enterprises need to know about the new Chromium-based Edge TechRepublicAd-blocking Brave gets memory advantage over Chrome on news websites CNET
Do Not Disturb: How I Ditched My Phone and Unbroke My Brain - The New York Times
Image Who needs a smartphone when you've got ads for discount dentistry? Credit Credit Demetrius Freeman for The New York Times My name is Kevin, and I have a phone problem.
And if you're anything like me '-- and the statistics suggest you probably are, at least where smartphones are concerned '-- you have one, too.
I don't love referring to what we have as an ''addiction.'' That seems too sterile and clinical to describe what's happening to our brains in the smartphone era. Unlike alcohol or opioids, phones aren't an addictive substance so much as a species-level environmental shock. We might someday evolve the correct biological hardware to live in harmony with portable supercomputers that satisfy our every need and connect us to infinite amounts of stimulation. But for most of us, it hasn't happened yet.
I've been a heavy phone user for my entire adult life. But sometime last year, I crossed the invisible line into problem territory. My symptoms were all the typical ones: I found myself incapable of reading books, watching full-length movies or having long uninterrupted conversations. Social media made me angry and anxious, and even the digital spaces I once found soothing (group texts, podcasts, YouTube k-holes) weren't helping. I tried various tricks to curb my usage, like deleting Twitter every weekend, turning my screen grayscale and installing app-blockers. But I always relapsed.
Eventually, in late December, I decided that enough was enough. I called Catherine Price, a science journalist and the author of ''How to Break Up With Your Phone,'' a 30-day guide to eliminating bad phone habits. And I begged her for help.
Mercifully, she agreed to be my phone coach for the month of January, and walk me through her plan, step by step. Together, we would build a healthy relationship with my phone, and try to unbreak my brain.
'A Bit Horrifying' Image On a video call with Catherine Price, the Marie Kondo of brains. Credit Demetrius Freeman for The New York Times I confess that entering phone rehab feels clich(C)d, like getting really into healing crystals or Peloton. Digital wellness is a budding industry these days, with loads of self-help gurus offering miracle cures for screen addiction. Some of those solutions involve new devices '-- such as the ''Light Phone,'' a device with an extremely limited feature set that is meant to wean users off time-sucking apps. Others focus on cutting out screens entirely for weeks on end. You can now buy $299 ''digital detox'' packages at luxury hotels or join the ''digital sabbath'' movement, whose adherents vow to spend one day a week using no technology at all.
Thankfully, Catherine's plan is more practical. I'm a tech columnist, and while I don't begrudge anyone for trying more extreme forms of disconnection, my job prevents me from going cold turkey.
Instead, her program focuses on addressing the root causes of phone addiction, including the emotional triggers that cause you to reach for your phone in the first place. The point isn't to get you off the internet, or even off social media '-- you're still allowed to use Facebook, Twitter and other social platforms on a desktop or laptop, and there's no hard-and-fast time limit. It's simply about unhooking your brain from the harmful routines it has adopted around this particular device, and hooking it to better things.
When we started, I sent her my screen time statistics, which showed that I had spent 5 hours and 37 minutes on my phone that day, and picked it up 101 times '-- roughly twice as many as the average American.
''That is frankly insane and makes me want to die,'' I wrote to her.
''I will admit that those numbers are a bit horrifying,'' she replied.
Catherine encouraged me to set up mental speed bumps so that I would be forced to think for a second before engaging with my phone. I put a rubber band around the device, for example, and changed my lock screen to one that showed three questions to ask myself every time I unlocked my phone: ''What for? Why now? What else?''
For the rest of the week, I became acutely aware of the bizarre phone habits I'd developed. I noticed that I reach for my phone every time I brush my teeth or step outside the front door of my apartment building, and that, for some pathological reason, I always check my email during the three-second window between when I insert my credit card into a chip reader at a store and when the card is accepted.
Mostly, I became aware of how profoundly uncomfortable I am with stillness. For years, I've used my phone every time I've had a spare moment in an elevator or a boring meeting. I listen to podcasts and write emails on the subway. I watch YouTube videos while folding laundry. I even use an app to pretend to meditate.
If I was going to repair my brain, I needed to practice doing nothing. So during my morning walk to the office, I looked up at the buildings around me, spotting architectural details I'd never noticed before. On the subway, I kept my phone in my pocket and people-watched '-- noticing the nattily dressed man in the yellow hat, the teens eating hot Takis and laughing, the kid with Velcro shoes. When a friend ran late for our lunch, I sat still and stared out the window instead of checking Twitter.
It's an unnerving sensation, being alone with your thoughts in the year 2019. Catherine had warned me that I might feel existential malaise when I wasn't distracting myself with my phone. She also said paying more attention to my surroundings would make me realize how many other people used their phones to cope with boredom and anxiety.
''I compare it to seeing a family member naked,'' she said. ''Once you look around the elevator and see the zombies checking their phones, you can't unsee it.''
Image Putting the beast in its cage. Credit Demetrius Freeman for The New York Times Next, I gave my phone the Marie Kondo treatment '-- looking at all my apps and keeping the ones that sparked joy and contributed to healthy habits and tossing those that didn't.
For me, that meant deleting Twitter, Facebook and all other social media apps, along with news apps and games. I kept messaging services like WhatsApp and Signal, and non-distracting utilities like cooking and navigation apps. I pruned my home screen to just the essentials: calendar, email and password manager. And I disabled push notifications for everything other than phone calls and messages from a preset list of people that included my editor, my wife and a handful of close friends.
Where you keep your phone is also important. Studies have shown that people who don't charge their phones in their bedrooms are significantly happier than those who do. Catherine charges her phone in a closet; for me, she recommended a locking mini-safe. I bought one and started storing my phone inside, which simultaneously reduced my nighttime usage and made me feel like I was guarding the queen's jewels.
And I pursued activities that could replace my phone habit. On the recommendation of my colleague Farhad Manjoo, I signed up for pottery classes. As it turned out, pottery makes a perfect phone substitute. It's manually challenging and demands concentration for hours on end. It gets your hands dirty, too, which is a good deterrent to fiddling with expensive electronics.
After a pottery class, I updated my wife on my progress. I told her that while it felt great to disconnect, I still worried that I was missing something important. I liked having a constant stream of news at my fingertips, and I wanted to do more of the things I actually like about social media, like keeping tabs on my friends' babies and maintaining ambient Kardashian awareness.
''I'm sad that you're having trouble with this,'' she said, ''because it's been great for me.''
She explained that since my phone detox started, I'd been more present and attentive at home. I spent more time listening to her, and less time distractedly nodding and mumbling while checking my inbox or tapping out tweets.
Psychologists have a name for this: ''phubbing,'' or snubbing a person in favor of your phone. Studies have shown that excessive phubbing decreases relationship satisfaction and contributes to feelings of depression and alienation.
For years, I've justified my phubbing by treating it as a professional necessity. Isn't it my job to know when news happens? Won't I be neglecting my duties if it takes me an extra hour to learn that Jeff Bezos is getting divorced, or another YouTuber did something racist?
I put this question to Catherine, who reassured me that I wasn't jeopardizing my career by being slightly later to the news. She reminded me that I'd been happier since I dialed down my screen time, and she gently encouraged me to focus on the other side of the cost-benefit analysis.
''Think of the bigger picture of what you're getting by not being on Twitter all the time.''
A Thoreau Cleansing Image Remember books? They're like Twitter threads, but longer. Credit Demetrius Freeman for The New York Times The biggest test came with a ''trial separation'' '-- a 48-hour period during which I wasn't allowed to use my phone or any other digital device. (Catherine's program calls for a 24-hour separation, but I decided to try a more hard-core version.)
I had dreaded this idea at the outset, but when the weekend actually arrived, I got giddy with excitement. I rented an off-the-grid Airbnb in the Catskills, warned my editor that I'd be offline for the weekend and took off.
A phone-free weekend involved some complications. Without Google Maps, I got lost and had to pull over for directions. Without Yelp, I had trouble finding open restaurants.
But mostly, it was great. For two solid days, I basked in 19th-century leisure, feeling my nerves softening and my attention span stretching back out. I read books. I did the crossword puzzle. I lit a fire and looked at the stars. I felt like Thoreau, if Thoreau periodically wondered what was happening on Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's Instagram story.
I also felt twinges of anger '-- at myself, for missing out on this feeling of restorative boredom for so many years; at the engineers in Silicon Valley who spend their days profitably exploiting our cognitive weaknesses; at the entire phone-industrial complex that has convinced us that a six-inch glass-and-steel rectangle is the ideal conduit for worldly experiences.
Sadly, there is no way to talk about the benefits of digital disconnection without sounding like a Goop subscriber or a neo-Luddite. Performative wellness is obnoxious, as is reflexive technophobia.
But I cannot stress enough that under the right conditions, spending an entire weekend without a phone in your immediate vicinity is incredible. You have to try it.
Rewired and Renewed Image And I started to wonder: Was the subway broken, or was I? Credit Demetrius Freeman for The New York Times Allow me a bit of bragging: Over the course of 30 days, my average daily phone time, as measured by the iPhone's built-in screen time tracker, has dwindled from around five hours to just over an hour. I now pick up my phone only about 20 times a day, down from more than 100. I still use my phone for email and texting '-- and I'm still using my laptop plenty '-- but I don't itch for social media, and I often go hours without so much as a peek at any screen.
In one of our conversations, I asked Catherine if she worried that I would relapse. She said it was possible, given the addictive properties of phones and the likelihood that they'll only keep getting more essential. But she said that as long as I remained aware of my relationship with my phone, and continued to notice when and how I used it, I'd have gotten something valuable.
''Your life is what you pay attention to,'' she said. ''If you want to spend it on video games or Twitter, that's your business. But it should be a conscious choice.''
One of the most unexpected benefits of this program is that by getting some emotional distance from my phone, I've started to appreciate it again. I keep thinking: Right here, in my pocket, is a device that can summon food, cars and millions of other consumer goods to my door. I can talk with everyone I've ever met, create and store a photographic record of my entire life, and tap into the entire corpus of human knowledge with a few swipes.
Steve Jobs wasn't exaggerating when he described the iPhone as a kind of magical object, and it's truly wild that in the span of a few years, we've managed to turn these amazing talismanic tools into stress-inducing albatrosses. It's as if scientists had invented a pill that gave us the ability to fly, only to find out that it also gave us dementia.
But there is a way out. I haven't taken an M.R.I. or undergone a psychiatric evaluation, but I'd bet that something fundamental has shifted inside my brain in the past month. A few weeks ago, the world on my phone seemed more compelling than the offline world '-- more colorful, faster-moving and with a bigger scope of rewards.
I still love that world, and probably always will. But now, the physical world excites me, too '-- the one that has room for boredom, idle hands and space for thinking. I no longer feel phantom buzzes in my pocket or have dreams about checking my Twitter replies. I look people in the eye and listen when they talk. I ride the elevator empty-handed. And when I get sucked into my phone, I notice and self-correct.
It's not a full recovery, and I'll have to stay vigilant. But for the first time in a long time, I'm starting to feel like a human again.
Kevin Roose is a columnist for Business and a writer-at-large for The New York Times Magazine. His column, ''The Shift,'' examines the intersection of technology, business and culture. @kevinroose ' Facebook
DNSpionage-Warning issued over attacks on internet infrastructure
The internet's global address keeper is warning of large-scale attacks threatening key parts of the online infrastructure
Key parts of the internet infrastructure face large-scale attacks that threaten the global system of web traffic, the internet's address keeper warned Friday.
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) declared after an emergency meeting "an ongoing and significant risk" to key parts of the infrastructure that affects the domains on which websites reside.
"They are going after the internet infrastructure itself," ICANN chief technology officer David Conrad told AFP.
"There have been targeted attacks in the past, but nothing like this."
The attacks date back as far as 2017 but have sparked growing concerns from security researchers in recent weeks, which prompted the special meeting of ICANN.
The malicious activity targets the Domain Name System or DNS which routes traffic to intended online destinations.
ICANN specialists and others say these attacks have a potential to snoop on data along the way, sneakily send the traffic elsewhere or enable the attackers to impersonate or "spoof" critical websites.
"There isn't a single tool to address this," Conrad said, as ICANN called for an overall hardening of web defenses.
US authorities issued a similar warning last month about the DNS attacks.
"This is roughly equivalent to someone lying to the post office about your address, checking your mail, and then hand delivering it to your mailbox," the US Department of Homeland Security said in a recent cybersecurity alert.
"Lots of harmful things could be done to you (or the senders) depending on the content of that mail."
- Middle East targets -
DNSpionage attacks might date back to at least 2017, according to FireEye senior manager of cyber espionage analysis Ben Read.
The list of targets included website registrars and internet service providers, particularly in the Middle East.
"We've seen primarily targeting of email names and passwords," Read said of what is being dubbed "DNSpionage."
"There is evidence that it is coming out of Iran and being done in support of Iran."
ICANN held an emergency meeting and is putting out word to website and online traffic handlers to ramp up security or leave users vulnerable to being tricked into trusting the wrong online venues.
DNSpionage hackers appeared intent on stealing account credentials, such as email passwords, in Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates, according to Crowdstrike cyber security firm vice president of intelligence Adam Meyers.
Similar attacks took place in Europe and other parts of the Middle East, with targets including governments, intelligence services, police, airlines, and the oil industry, cybersecurity specialists said.
"You definitely need knowledge of how the internet works you and have to handle a lot of traffic being directed to you," Meyers said of the DNSpionage hackers.
"With that access, they could temporarily break portions of how the internet works. They chose to intercept and spy on folks."
Judge rules federal prosecutors broke law in Jeffrey Epstein case | TheHill
A federal judge ruled Thursday that federal prosecutors, including current Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta, broke the law by making a plea deal with Jeffrey Epstein '-- who was accused of molesting numerous girls '-- without conferring with his victims.
U.S. District Judge Kenneth A. Marra said prosecutors violated the Crime Victims' Rights Act (CVRA) when they signed the plea more than a decade ago. The law guarantees victims a series of rights, including the right to confer with prosecutors.
"Under the facts of this case, once the Government failed to advise the victims about its intention to enter into the [plea agreement], a violation of the CVRA occurred," Marra wrote.
Epstein was offered a plea deal sentencing him to 13 months in jail after he was accused of sex trafficking. The deal also gave Epstein and his co-conspirators immunity from federal prosecution.
Acosta was a U.S. attorney in Miami at the time and helped negotiate the plea deal.
Thursday's ruling comes after two of Epstein's victims originally brought a lawsuit in 2008 in the Southern District of Florida, arguing that prosecutors violated the CVRA.
In the ruling, Marra wrote that in addition to concealing the plea agreement, prosecutors misled victims to "believe that federal prosecution was still a possibility."
"When the Government gives information to victims, it cannot be misleading," Marra wrote. "While the Government spent untold hours negotiating the terms and implications of the NPA with Epstein's attorneys, scant information was shared with victims. Instead, the victims were told to be 'patient' while the investigation proceeded."
The ruling comes after the Miami Herald reported a three-part series last year detailing the agreement between prosecutors and Epstein's attorneys.
The Department of Justice has since launched an investigation into prosecutors' handling of the deal.
Brad Edwards, an attorney based in Fort Lauderdale who originally brought the case, told the Herald he was thrilled with Thursday's ruling but added that he was ''bitter'' that it took 11 years to arrive at the decision.
''The Government aligned themselves with Epstein, working against his victims, for 11 years. Yes, this is a huge victory, but to make his victims suffer for 11 years, this should not have happened. Instead of admitting what they did, and doing the right thing, they spent 11 years fighting these girls," Edwards said.
Kraft Shares Plunge To Record Low After Company Discloses SEC Subpoena | Zero Hedge
Kraft Heinz shares plunged more than 18% in after-hours trading on Thursday after the company disclosed that it had received a subpoena from the SEC. The whiff of the accounting scandal drove the company's shares below $40 a share, to their lowest level ever.
Kraft said the subpoena was part of an investigation into the company's procurement accounting policies, and that, after it received the subpoena, it launched an internal investigation and as a result posted a $25 million increase to the cost of products sold after determining it was "immaterial to the fourth quarter of 2018 and its previously reported 2018 and 2017 interim and year to date periods." It also posted a $15.4 billion impairment charge, as the company cautioned that "the fair values of certain goodwill and intangible assets" were "below their carrying amount."
Kraft added that it was cooperating in the probe and has been taking steps to improve its internal controls and procedures. The subpoena, which was disclosed in the company's Q4 earnings report, isn't expected to have a material impact on its financial statements, the company said, according to CNBC.
Kraft Heinz cautioned that "the fair values of certain goodwill and intangible assets" was "below their carrying amount."
On top of the subpoena, Kraft Heinz posted a miss on its earnings, reporting EPS of 84 cents on $6.89 billion in revenue. Those results fell short of Wall Street expectations for EPS of 94 cents on revenue of $6.93 billion, according to Refinitiv consensus estimates.
Kraft charges part of human trafficking sting '' ProFootballTalk
The prostitution sting which included Patriots owner Robert Kraft was part of a larger sweep of Florida establishments regarding human trafficking.
Kraft has been charged with solicitation, and officials in Jupiter, Fla., said they have videotaped evidence of Kraft, who allegedly made two trips to the Orchids of Asia Day Spa.
''Our concern in this investigation centers around victims of human trafficking,'' Jupiter Police Chief Daniel Kerr said, via Olivia Hitchcock of the Palm Beach Post.
Kerr also said they were working with interpreters and advocacy groups to gain more information about the women who were trafficked.
Kraft was one of 25 people charged with solicitation Friday. The crime is a second-degree misdemeanor, carrying a jail term of up to 60 days for first-time offenders. Kraft has issued a statement denying the charges.
The sting is believed to be linked to an international human-trafficking and prostitution ring. Florida and federal law defines human trafficking as ''soliciting, recruiting, harboring, transporting or otherwise obtaining another person to exploit him or her for labor, domestic servitude or sexual exploitation.''
Martin County Sheriff William Snyder said many of the women working at the locations involved in this week's sweep were brought to the United States under the guise of having legitimate jobs, but were forced to work in the sex trade. The Orchids of Asia Day Spa had beds, dressers, and a kitchen, which suggests that people were living in the storefront unit.
Kraft Charges Reveal a Sordid World Thriving in Florida
(Bloomberg) -- The Orchids of Asia Day Spa was an open secret around southeast Florida, well known for blending the opulent with the sordid. Online reviews on a site called Rubmaps.com cited paid sex services in vulgar terms including ''rub and tug.'' Another on yelp.com noted a ''happy ending.''
It was here -- aside a nail salon and Outback Steakhouse in the town of Jupiter -- that the police say Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots, was twice dropped off by a chauffeured vehicle. Worth $4.4 billion, he paid, the police say, between $59 and $79 for sex acts. An explicit police affidavit says the encounters didn't include intercourse.
The 77-year-old Kraft proclaims his innocence in a broader investigation that ensnared two other prominent financiers, including John Havens, Citigroup Inc.'s former president. John Childs, a buyout pioneer, was also charged in a related prostitution investigation. The police say in total 26 encounters are captured on video in the Orchids.
The case has peeled back one of the most unsavory aspects of this stretch of Florida -- where a playground of the wealthy filled with golf courses and beaches meets with what authorities say may be a human trafficking ring spanning from China to the U.S. There are multi-million dollar mansions as well as the massage tables that police say women slept on when not engaged by customers.
''This is the tip of the iceberg,'' Martin County Sheriff William Snyder said in an interview Saturday.
The juxtapositions are jarring.
Jupiter is home to countless celebrities and sports stars, as well as the Trump National Golf Club, where the president golfed with Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus earlier this month. Thirty minutes to the south, in the area around near Trump's Mar-a-Lago club, there are $10 million homes tucked behind carefully groomed hedges and the valet lines teem with Lamborghinis and Rolls-Royces.
Sheriff Snyder said the multi-jurisdiction probe was expected to carry on for the foreseeable future into more and possibly broader human trafficking operations. He said that in many cases it involved coerced women without access to their own transportation, who would be moved from location to location, living where they were taken and sometimes working late into the night.
Snyder said, for all the attention given to the high-flying men accused, this in his mind is a story of the women: None of the women ever left until they were moved -- and many, he said, had been carried out of their jurisdiction in expensive cars. They had no days off, he said, and cooked rice on hot plates. Condoms were never used, he said.
''These women are being treated like cattle,'' Snyder said. He said of the arrested men: ''Any thoughts that they didn't know they were trafficked women were hogwashed.''
The affidavit covering the police operation at the Orchids was based in part on video surveillance obtained from Jan 18-22, described the sex acts in graphic detail, but the men were only identified as Man 1-26. Charges were filed against 25 johns with the State Attorney in Palm Beach County. The police said Kraft visited twice.
In addition to owning the Patriots, Kraft is the money behind the New England Revolution Major League Soccer team and other businesses. His wife Myra died in 2011.
Florida statutes describe a first offense of soliciting a prostitute as a second-degree misdemeanor punishable by as many as 60 days in jail and a fine. But the punishment can increase significantly for repeat offenders. Suspects who are Palm Beach County residents will receive a summons in the mail to appear in court, Jupiter Detective Andrew Sharp said, while those residing outside the county will have an arrest warrant issued.
Kraft is a frequent visitor to the president's Mar-a-Lago resort. The Patriots owner was in the area this past weekend, attending a fund-raiser for the Everglades Foundation.
Childs, meanwhile, was among 165 people that were charged by Florida's Vero Beach Police Department in a separate but related investigation into massage parlors.
''I have received no contact by the police department about this charge,'' he said Friday in a phone interview. ''The accusation of solicitation of prostitution is totally false. I have retained a lawyer.''
A man who answered a phone number listed for Havens said, ''I have no idea what you are talking about,'' He then hung up and additional calls weren't answered.
Human trafficking: Sex spas involve tens of millions of dollars
New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft was charged with two counts of soliciting prostitution in connection with a Florida spa, Jupiter Police said Feb. 22, 2019. Hannah Schwab, firstname.lastname@example.org
MARTIN COUNTY, Fla. '-- Large parts of the investigation into what officials say are illicit spas and paid-sex operations represent new territory for law enforcement officials, who say lots of money is involved.
''We are building the plane as we're flying it, we're learning, (Homeland Security Investigations) is learning, we're uncovering a lot of the way that these organizations work,'' Martin County sheriff's Lt. Mike Dougherty said Friday. ''We're seeing the way that the organizations are functioning as far as the money and the spas and the girls, the transactions.''
Martin County Sheriff William Snyder and other officials this week disclosed five spas in Martin County and Jupiter were being investigated as part of a human trafficking probe involving sex for money.
Arrests have been made of the those accused of running the spas and those accused of exchanging money for sexual favors. Dougherty said aspects of the case are eye-opening.
More: Patriots owner Robert Kraft charged with soliciting prostitution in Florida spa
More: Robert Kraft known for philanthropy, bringing people together
''I never in a million years imagined it would be this much money involved,'' he said.
He said between $180,000 and $200,000 in cash was seized through the search warrants at spas and homes.
Dougherty said federal agencies are involved in ''tracking money from China into the United States and laundering it here and sending it back other places to be laundered.''
He said in general the massages are $75 to $100, but sex services are more.
''We've seen up to $300, $400 changing hands,'' he said. ''It's unreported money. That's where it adds up quick. '... You're not getting sex for $50 or $75 or $100.''
He noted about $3 million in asset forfeitures through bank accounts.
''These people are reporting no income or very little income,'' Dougherty said.
A state report showed Ruimei Li, 48, of Jupiter, who was arrested on a host of charges, including racketeering and money laundering, was the only person earning income from Bridge Day Spa in 2017 and 2018, records state. Li reported she earned $4,500 per quarter from Bridge Day Spa.
''The spas will make $20,000, $30,000 a year total, and yet they're pulling in hundreds of thousands of dollars that we know of,'' he said.
Last SlideNext SlideDougherty said what they learned from federal investigators is that when one spa opens and is successful, another opens and then another.
''Before you know it, your area is inundated,'' he said.
Asked about possible links between the spas in Martin County and others in Indian River County that officials disclosed Thursday, Dougherty made an analogy to ownership of Toyota dealerships.
''As it goes up the line, they're all owned by Toyota,'' he said. ''They're sort of like franchises.''
Last SlideNext SlideFederal agencies, he said, are working to ''follow this pyramid, this organization to try and connect them and move to the top.''
''We can show an organization here with definitely five spas in this area that's run by one person with another assistant,'' he said.
He said federal officials are tracking the electronic trail of cash.
''We've seen excessive amounts of money come into these bank accounts and move around, way, way, way, way more than you would ever imagine a spa of any sort,'' he said. ''We're talking tens of millions of dollars.''
Last SlideNext SlideHe said women at the spas are taking tests and getting massage licenses, but don't speak English. He said the tests are given just in English and Spanish.
''So how are they taking these tests?'' Dougherty said. ''We can't say that it's fraud but we '... can say that they can't speak the language and take the test, so how are they doing it?''
According to Dougherty, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody has said she is looking into that.
The Martin County Sheriff's Office hosts a news conference Feb. 19, 2019 detailing a local human trafficking ring that was busted across Treasure Coast, Palm Beach and Orange counties. Hannah Schwab, email@example.com
Snyder has said the women came from China, and Dougherty said he can't say whether they are here illegally.
''They have documents; now whether they're legit or not, we don't know,'' he said. ''What I can tell you is they come out of China and they '... go through Flushing, New York.''
He said they arrive by plane and all their documents come from Flushing.
''That's where the funnel comes to a tip,'' Dougherty said. ''When they come in this country and then they move out anywhere to L.A. to Miami, all over the place.''
Dougherty said in terms of the local impact, shutting down the spas is considerable, but maybe not so much in the big picture.
''It's like the (drug) cartels: They get one load of dope caught out of 200, big deal, that's the cost of doing business,'' he said.
More: Trump on Patriots owner Robert Kraft's soliciting prostitution charges
More: Billionaire equity firm owner John Childs accused in Florida prostitution ring
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Hillð'Buzz on Twitter: "#JussieSmollettHoax Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx @KimFoxxforSA recused herself from Smollett case b/c wanted to be in California for Oscar parties and @KamalaHarris events instead. Didn't want to cancel her trip. @michel
Democratic politicians and celebrities called it a shocking instance of Trump-era racism and hate. Republicans now depict it as yet another example of liberals and mainstream media rushing to judgment while disparaging the president's supporters as bigots.
The case of "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett encapsulates the polarized state of political discourse in America.
With Smollett now accused of staging a racist, anti-gay attack on himself , the case seemed to inflame political tensions even more while creating potentially damaging consequences for genuine hate crime victims in the future.
"The danger is that it will cause people to respond with skepticism whenever they hear reports of hate violence, even though the overwhelming majority of those reports are completely true," said Shannon Minter, legal director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights.
Smollett, who is black and gay, is accused of filing a false police report last month asserting that he was attacked in Chicago by two men who beat him, targeted him with slurs, and yelled "This is MAGA country" '-- an apparent reference to President Donald Trump's "Make America Great Again" slogan.
Democratic presidential candidates Kamala Harris and Cory Booker were among those who sided with Smollett early on and called the incident a "modern-day lynching." They soon found themselves under attack from the right as Smollett's story began to fall apart.
Trump initially called reports of the attack "horrible." On Thursday, he tweeted, "what about MAGA and the tens of millions of people you insulted with your racist and dangerous comments!?"
Editor and commentator Jarrett Stepman of The Daily Signal, an online publication of the conservative The Heritage Foundation, faulted left-of-center pundits and politicians for seizing immediately on Smollett's claims in a bid to score political points.
"Instead of just treating this as a serious crime, it was used as a political bludgeon to malign large swaths of Americans," he said. "There was a rush to find a story to attack half the country."
However, Stepman said he shared concerns that the case might have unfortunate consequences for real victims who deserve support and compassion.
"Heinous hate crimes do exist in this country, but it's the 'boy who cried wolf' thing," Stepman said. "People become cynical, and that's not a healthy thing for American society."
Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson had a hard time holding back his frustration over the allegation that a gay black man like Smollett would concoct such a story given the real struggles in the city with racial divisions and hate crimes.
He expressed similar concerns about how hate crimes are handled in the future because of this case while recognizing how his city became a participant in a national political debate.
"Celebrities, news commentators and even presidential candidates weighed in on something that was choreographed by an actor," said Johnson, who is black and grew up in Chicago.
In the debate over the Smollett case, critics of Trump have pointed out that hate crimes have soared since his election, but the statistics are nuanced.
The most recent official figures from the FBI show that there was a 17 percent spike in hate crimes in 2017. But that data isn't complete because it's based in part on voluntary reporting by police agencies across the country.
Non-government researchers have come up with a variety of findings. The Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism in Cal State San Bernardino looked at hate crimes in the nation's 10 biggest cities and found a 12 percent increase in 2017. There were similar annual increases during the Obama administration.
Shannon Minter said hate crimes already are underreported, and worried that the Smollett case would aggravate that problem.
However, Minter said he was heartened by some recent moves across the political spectrum to address racism and hate violence. He cited efforts by the Southern Baptist Convention, a generally conservative denomination, to acknowledge its past legacy of racism.
Robin Valeri, a psychology professor at St. Bonaventure University who has researched hate crimes, said the Smollett case reminded her of the 1987 case involving Tawana Brawley, a black teenager from New York state who falsely alleged that she was abducted and raped by a gang of white men.
"These cases make people skeptical," Valeri said. "The assumption is going to be, 'Oh, they're just making it up.'"
Among the black activists who championed Brawley's case before it unraveled was civil rights leader Al Sharpton.
Speaking Thursday on MSNBC, Sharpton called the hoax claims against Smollett "horrific" and said the actor, if proven guilty, "ought to face accountability to the maximum."
Alvin Tillery, a political science professor who directs Northwestern University's Center for the Study of Diversity and Democracy, said racial hoaxes '-- including the Brawley case '-- have a long history in the United States.
"The Smollett case is likely to have an even larger impact on our politics and culture than those infamous hoaxes because of Mr. Smollett's celebrity status and our deeply troubling political climate," said Tillery, who is black.
The wall-to-wall media coverage that the case generated also left some people frustrated.
"There's a lot of racial and anti-Semitic violence in this country that we didn't even know about," said Heidi Beirich, who heads the Southern Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Project. "It outweighs one sensational fake crime."
The Chicago police chief began his news conference Thursday by acknowledging the throng of reporters in front of him and declaring, "I just wish that the families of gun violence got this much attention."
New Ontario Law Enables Gov't to Seize Children from Parents Opposing Gender Transition
The Canadian government may legally remove children from families that refuse to accept their child's chosen ''gender identity'' thanks to new legislation passed by the Ontario province.Bill 89, ''Supporting Children, Youth and Families Act, 2017,'' was approved on June 1 by a vote of 63 to 23.
The Minister of Children and Youth Services, Michael Coteau, who introduced the bill, said earlier this year that a parent's failure to recognize and support a child's gender self-identification is a form of child abuse, and a child in these circumstances should be removed from the situation and placed into protection.
''I would consider that a form of abuse, when a child identifies one way and a caregiver is saying no, you need to do this differently,'' Coteau said. ''If it's abuse, and if it's within the definition, a child can be removed from that environment and placed into protection where the abuse stops.''
The new bill replaces the Child and Family Services Act, or Bill 28, which governed child protection, foster care and adoption services.
While ''gender identity'' and ''gender expression'' are included in the new legislation as important factors to be considered in determining ''the best interests of the child,'' the religious faith in which the parents are raising the child'--present in former laws'--has been removed from consideration for assessing the child's best interests.
Child protection agents, adoption service providers and judges are now required to take into account and respect a child's ''race, ancestry, place of origin, color, ethnic origin, citizenship, family diversity, disability, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.''
The former law stated that the parent of a child in care has the right ''to direct the child's education and religious upbringing.'' The new law has removed that consideration, saying parents can direct the child's education and upbringing ''in accordance with the child's or young person's creed, community identity and cultural identity.''
Some Christians have reacted strongly to the new bill, calling it a violation of parents' primordial rights to educate their children and a direct assault on Christian beliefs.
''With the passage of Bill 89, we've entered an era of totalitarian power by the state, such as never witnessed before in Canada's history,'' said Jack Fonseca, senior political strategist for Campaign Life Coalition. ''Make no mistake, Bill 89 is a grave threat to Christians and all people of faith who have children, or who hope to grow their family through adoption.''
Canadian child protection services are no stranger to invasive micromanagement of child-rearing according to a predetermined worldview.
In April of this year, a Christian couple filed a lawsuit against Hamilton Children's Aid Society after two foster children were removed from their care because they refused tell the children that the Easter bunny is real.
''We have a no-lying policy,'' said Derek Baars, one of the foster parents, as the motivation for disobeying a child support worker who ordered him and his wife to tell the two girls in their care, aged 3 and 4, that the Easter bunny is real.
''We explained to the agency that we are not prepared to tell the children a lie. If the children asked, we would not lie to them, but we wouldn't bring it up ourselves,'' Baars said.
Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter Follow @tdwilliamsrome
Koolmees: werknemer bloedt voor pensioen op 66 jaar
Door Herman Stam en Martin Visser
Updated Vandaag, 09:49
Vandaag, 05:30 in FINANCIEEL
Minister Wouter Koolmees waarschuwt voor het niet bevriezen van de AOW-leeftijd.
Den Haag - Een bevriezing van de AOW-leeftijd op 66 jaar heeft grote financile gevolgen voor de pensioenfondsen. Om dat te kunnen betalen moet de pensioenpremie fors omhoog, ten koste van de loonruimte van werknemers. Een verhoging met 10 tot 15 procent is daarvoor noodzakelijk.
Minister Wouter Koolmees waarschuwt voor het niet bevriezen van de AOW-leeftijd.
Dat zegt minister Wouter Koolmees van Sociale Zaken in de wekelijkse podcast van De Financile Telegraaf. Als de pensioenleeftijd op 66 jaar zou blijven staan dan 'moeten ofwel de premies fors omhoog ofwel de pensioenambities fors naar beneden'.
Dat de vakbondseis de schatkist miljarden kost, was al bekend. Maar Koolmees vindt dat er te weinig aandacht voor is dat ook werkgevers en werknemers zelf flink moeten bloeden hiervoor.
Luister hier de podcast:
Elke ochtend het laatste financile nieuws in je inbox?Ongeldig e-mailadres. Vul nogmaals in aub.
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Study: German job market needs immigration from outside of EU - The Local
A worker from Somalia at a steel company. Photo: DPA
With the number of immigrants from other EU countries expected to decrease in the coming years, and amid a growing population decline, Germany is in need of more non-EU workers, says a study published Tuesday.
The German labour market needs at least 260,000 immigrants every year in the medium- and long-term, according to a study published by the Bertelsmann Stiftung on Tuesday.
In light of an ageing society in Germany, the supply of labour - without migration - would shrink massively by around 16 million people, or almost one-third of the current population, by 2060.
SEE ALSO: 'Record high' number of vacant positions in Germany's IT sector
SEE ALSO: What and where are the best paid jobs in GermanyNon-EU immigration is needed, since the amount of migration from other EU countries will decrease in the future, predicts the study.
Throughout the 28-member member bloc (27 when the U.K. leaves), economic strength and quality of life are expected to rise, meaning that the appeal of finding a job in Germany ''is diminishing,'' it stated.
As a result, immigration from non-European ''third countries'' is becoming increasingly important, wrote the study's authors.On an annual average, 114,000 new arrivals from other EU countries and 146,000 from third countries were needed to limit the demographic decline in the supply of labour to a "level acceptable to the economy,'' the study stated.
Immigration from other EU countries has remained strong in recent years - with a total of around 250,000 people in 2017.
SEE ALSO: 'Historic day' as Germany takes steps to relaxing rules for foreign workers
However, taking a predicted decline of EU migration into account, the German labour market will need almost 98,000 immigrants a year from non-EU countries by 2035, wrote the study.
Between 2036 and 2050, it will require almost 170,000 immigrants from third countries per year, and between 2051 and 2060, that number will rise to 200,000 immigrants needed per year.
On average, this amounts to 146,000 migrants who are needed from third countries every year between 2018 and 2060, predicted the study.
Nice Kicks on Twitter: "Nike's official statement on Zion's shoe malfunction tonight: ''We are obviously concerned and want to wish Zion a speedy recovery. The quality and performance of our products are of utmost importance. While this is an isolate
Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro talks to supporters during a rally in support of the government in Caracas, Venezuela February 23, 2019. REUTERS/Manaure Quintero
CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said on Saturday his government had broken relations with Colombia and would expel some Colombian diplomatic staff after Colombia assisted the opposition's efforts to bring humanitarian aid into the country.
''Patience is exhausted, I can't bare it anymore, we can't keep putting up with Colombian territory being used for attacks against Venezuela. For that reason, I have decided to break all political and diplomatic relations with Colombia's fascist government,'' Maduro said in a speech.
He said the ambassador and consular staff would have to leave Venezuela within 24 hours.
Reporting by Fabian Cambero; Writing by Angus Berwick; Editing by Sarah Marsh
Richard Branson's plan to overthrow the Venezuelan government | Newshub
British billionaire Sir Richard Branson says he aims to raise US$100 million within 60 days on behalf of Venezuela through a fundraising concert in the Colombian border town of Cucuta.
Speaking hours before the fundraiser on Friday, the Virgin group boss said he and a Colombian entrepreneur friend got the idea after speaking by phone with opposition leader Juan Guaido and his political mentor Leopoldo Lopez.
The US and dozens of other countries recognise Mr Guaido as Venezuela's rightful President.
Venezuela crisis: Top diplomat defects to the USNew Zealand gives $500K in humanitarian aid to VenezuelaNew Zealand praised for refusing to back Venezuela's oppositionMr Branson said he hopes the concert will convince soldiers to disobey President Nicolas Maduro and allow shipments of humanitarian aid sitting on the border to pass.
Organisers say 32 artists will perform at the event, including Swedish DJ Alesso and 'Despacito' singer Luis Fonsi.
The concert, which will also be live streamed online, will take place close to a border bridge that was closed off by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro in a move to block humanitarian aid from coming into the country.
Hundreds of Venezuelan youths were on Friday seen flocking to cross the border from Venezuela to Colombia, to attend the free concert.
On the other side of the border, Mr Maduro's socialist government is promising a three-day festival deemed 'Hands Off Venezuela'.
Carrying Venezuelan flags and waving to members of the press who were documenting their journey, the young people laughed and smiled as they passed a rickety metal fence and made their way across the Tachira River that serves as a border between the two countries.
Mr Branson hopes the concert, streamed online, will encourage donations.
"Let the music inspire and mobilise you," he said. "United through music, we can make a huge difference and help bring an end to the needless suffering of millions."
His involvement has garnered scorn from ex-Pink Floyd bassist and left-wing activist Roger Waters, who believes it's a plot to overthrow the elected government of Venezuela.
He says friends in Caracas have told there is "no civil war, no mayhem, no murder, no apparent dictatorship, no suppression of the press".
"The Red Cross and the UN, unequivocally agree, don't politicize aid," he wrote. "Leave the Venezuelan people alone to exercise their legal right to self determination."
Six hundred tonnes of aid, largely donated by the US, has been sitting in a storage facility at what is widely known as the Tienditas International Bridge for two weeks. High-ranking government officials have claimed it is poisoned.
Even as several million Venezuelans flee and those who remain struggle to find basic goods like food and antibiotics, Mr Maduro denies that a crisis exists. He contends the aid is a ploy by the Trump administration to overthrow his government.
The military has placed a large tanker and two containers in the middle of the bridge to block it.
APTN / Newshub.
Five heavily armed U.S. 'mercenaries' were arrested in Haiti. Why were they allowed to fly straight home? | National Post
A group of heavily armed men '-- including five American citizens '-- who were arrested in Haiti at the weekend have been inexplicably allowed to leave the country.
Now back in the U.S., they will face no charges, the Miami Herald reports.
As riots over official corruption engulfed the nation, the eight men were captured Sunday in the capital Port-au-Prince by Haitian police. In their vehicles '-- which had no external number plates '-- were found automatic weapons, pistols, a telescope, satellite phones, drones and ballistic vests. Fake number plates were also found.
The men, apprehended near the country's central bank, said they were on a ''government mission,'' when stopped by police. Police spokesman Michel-Ange Louis-Jeune said the men refused to say anything else except that they would call their unidentified bosses. Which ''government'' the men spoke of was never made clear.
The men are ex-Navy SEALS Christopher Michael Osman and Christopher Mark McKinley; Kent Leland Kroeker, an ex-Marine; fellow U.S. citizens Dustin Porte and Talon Ray Burton; two Serbian men, Danilo Bajagic and Vlade Jankvic; and one Haitian, Michael Estera. One of the Serbs is said to be a U.S. permanent resident.
Despite their arsenal and apparent criminal conspiracy charges laid by Haitian police, seven of the men were subsequently allowed to fly back to the U.S. on Wednesday, having never appeared for a Port-au-Prince court date set for the same day. Only the Haitian Estera was left behind.
''They left,'' a police spokesperson told the Miami Herald Wednesday.
Haiti's prime minister has said he wasn't even briefed on the men's departure, but theories as to what exactly the men were doing in the country are swirling. As well as allegations they came to work against the embattled government, claims have been made by government opponents that they were there to prop it up.
A view of the police compound where foreigners who were arrested on the previous night were detained in Port-au-Prince, on February 18, 2019. x HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images The men are since said to have told American authorities that they were in Haiti as security for a government-partnered ''businessman.''
As the men made their hasty exit, footage posted to social media shows them being escorted by U.S. embassy staff through Port-au-Prince's Toussaint Louverture Airport, without handcuffs or shackles. In fact, the Miami Herald reports they were given access to the VIP diplomatic lounge to wait for their commercial flight. When, initially, one of the Serbs was not allowed to board the flight, ''a few calls were made'' and he was let board, the Herald reports.
The Herald said the U.S. government stepped in and arranged the exit to protect the men, after Haitian Prime Minister Jean Henry Ceant had gone on CNN and said the group were ''mercenaries'' and ''terrorists.''
But the Herald's Jacqueline Charles told NPR that, in fact, ''members of the administration of President Jovenel Moise did try to get these gentlemen released from police custody '-- but that did not work.''
Yet released they eventually were; a letter seen by the Herald shows that it was Haitian Minister of Justice Jean Roody Aly who authorized the sending of the group to the U.S. '-- to ''stand trial.''
The U.S. State Department said in an emailed statement to the Associated Press that the return was co-ordinated with Haitian authorities.
Complicating things further, a spokesman for Ceant told Radio Vision 2000 on Thursday that he was not aware of the men's departure and demanded an immediate explanation from the justice minister.
When the men arrived in Miami on an American Airlines flight, they were initially detained by U.S. authorities, but this didn't last long.
Carel Pedre, a Haitian media personality, said in a video posted on Facebook that he was on the flight to Miami with the men and posted a video of them on social media. He said that when the half-empty plane landed, the crew announced that officials would be boarding it before anyone could disembark. He then said U.S. officials led the men away.
However there was no public record Thursday morning of any charges against the men in Miami federal court, and federal sources later told the Herald that the men won't face U.S. criminal charges, but will instead be ''debriefed.''
The Miami U.S. attorney's office referred all questions about the men's status to the State Department, which did not issue further comment.
Pierre Esperance, executive director of the National Human Rights Defence Network, expressed dismay at the ease with which the men were allowed to slip away.
''They don't trust the Haitian justice system,'' he told the Herald, going on to refer to U.S. millions which have been used to bolster the Haitian justice system in recent years.
''We can't even tally the amount of money they have spent since 1995 on not just reforming the Haitian justice system, but the penal code and the police '... The American government has spent a lot of money.''
As well as American aid, Haiti has also hosted two long-running United Nations missions since 2004, both of which have been heavily involved in training police and improving institutional capacity.
Jean Clarens Renois, a former presidential candidate, said in a phone interview that the situation has eroded confidence in Haiti 's government.
''The seven guys easily left the country,'' he said. ''It's kind of incomprehensible for a nation. There is no authority at all.''
The arrests came after more than a week of violent demonstrations in which Haitians demanded the resignation of President Moise amid rising inflation and allegations of corruption. Ceant has promised to reduce certain government budgets by 30 per cent, lower the cost of goods and investigate allegations of misspending tied to a Venezuelan program that provided Haiti with subsidized oil.
Haitians , however, remained wary of those promises, and Renois said people have lost trust in the government especially given the outcome of the case involving the eight men.
''I used to read that Haiti is a failed country,'' he said. ''Now we can say that.''
'-- With files from the Associated Press
VIDEO - Unannounced shooter drill causes panic at Palatka High School
PALATKA, Fla. - It was a planned active shooter drill on the campus of Palatka High School, but some students thought it was the real thing and began to panic.
The unannounced drill started with an intercom message alerting staff and students to a suspicious man on campus. The school went into lockdown and some parents said they began receiving text messages from their children.
School leaders said they chose not to announce the drill because they wanted it to be taken seriously, and they wanted to see authentic responses from students and staff. Some parents told News4Jax they don't agree with the school's decision.
Sidnee Kerns, a student at the high school, said she and her classmates rushed into another room in a separate building after hearing the intercom announcement.
"They said it was a man with a black hoodie and jeans," Sidnee said. "It was very real. People were banging on the door. Kids were crying, saying, 'Let me in.' They would not let them in. They had to go in the bathrooms and hide."
Sidnee said she and other students were texting their parents. Her mother, Stephanie, was at work.
"I was freaking out," Stephanie Kerns said. "I can appreciate them doing drills, but I know there are some kids who suffer from anxiety attacks or panic attacks or different issues."
Another student told News4Jax the drill caused her to have an anxiety attack. She said she noticed teachers panicking, as well.
Stephanie Kerns said she understood why the school kept the drill a secret.
"If they tell everyone it's a drill, are they really going to take it seriously?" she asked.
School leaders said only a few staff members were notified in advance of the drill. The school said the drill was handled well.
Copyright 2019 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.
VIDEO - Sir Richard Branson hosts concert to sway Venezuelan military - YouTube
Socialist on a Power Trip '' Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Claps Back at Critics of Her Radical Green New Deal ''I'm the Boss!'' (VIDEO) by Cristina Laila February 23, 2019
Communist Socialist Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY) is on a major ego trip in the wake of the unveiling of her radical Green New Deal.The 29-year-old lawmaker popped off at the New York Hall of Science on Friday while speaking on a 'Girls Who Code' panel.
Ocasio-Cortez sounded like a Socialist dictator (with a Bronx accent) as she reminded the crowd that it's the radicals who drive the agenda and no one has done what she has in regards to the Green New Deal.
Forget the fact that the Green New Deal is completely absurd on the face it. The resolution calls for the elimination of all airplane travel and would require every building in the US to be ''upgraded'' to meet the rigors set by the green Communists.
''I'm at least trying and they're not,'' AOC said of her Green New Deal critics. ''If you're trying, you've got all the power, you're driving the agenda, you're doing all this stuff.''
''Like, I just introduced Green New Deal two weeks ago and it's creating all of this conversation. Why? Because no one else is even trying '-- because no one else has even tried!''
AOC clapped back at her critics, ''I'm like you try! You do it! Cuz you're not!'' AOC said pointing her finger.
''So until you do it, I'M THE BOSS! How about that?'' AOC yelled.
Socialist on an ego-trip. How long before she puts on a uniform with a dozen medals? pic.twitter.com/bpVisJRzZy
'-- Jack Posobiec ðºð¸ (@JackPosobiec) February 24, 2019
AOC is out of control '-- she even lectured Americans to eat fewer hamburgers in an interview this week.
James Woods blasted her earlier Saturday after she arrogantly told critics of her Green New Deal to shut up and sit down. ''You're just shouting from the cheap seats,'' Ocasio-Cortez said to people who called her out on her radical resolution.
Just like OAN reporter Jack Posobiec said, how long before she puts on a uniform with a dozen medals as she gives long winded lectures?
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VIDEO - Robby Starbuck on Twitter: "It sure sounds like @AOC needs the same schooling these kids got from @SenFeinstein "There reasons why I can't (support the Green New Deal) because there's no way to pay for it." https://t.co/5QbYVsbi85"
Actor Jussie Smollett was hospitalized after a possible homophobic and "racially-charged assault and battery," according to a statement from the Chicago Police Department. USA TODAY
CNN host Don Lemon opened up to the hosts of "Red Table Talk" about what it's like to be openly gay as a black male on Monday's episode.
The show's topic comes about two weeks after "Empire" star Jussie Smollett, who is gay, was attacked on Jan. 29 in what police are investigating as a "possible hate crime."
For the interview, hosts Jada Pinkett Smith, daughter Willow and mom Adrienne Banfield-Norris traveled to New York.
"As black gay men, we carry the racism part, and we carry the gay part," Lemon said. "We're already a class of people who have been discriminated against, so why do I want to have another mark against me?"
"Historically, black men have stayed in the closet," the anchor added. "You have to decide your identity: Do I want to be black, or do I want to be gay?"
More: 'Red Table Talk': Don Lemon speaks about being gay in the black community: 'It's a weight'
More: Jussie Smollett investigation: Chicago Police release report on 'Empire' star's attack
Don Lemon, at CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute on Dec. 9, 2018, appeared in the Feb. 11 episode of "Red Table Talk" Monday. (Photo11: Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)
Lemon said he was saddened but "wasn't shocked" by the attack on Smollett and said he called him after and texts him daily.
"Every day I say, 'I know you think I'm annoying' '' I can show you a text '' 'I know you think I'm annoying you, but I just want to know that you're OK, and if you need somebody you can talk to me, 'cause there's not a lot of us out there,' " Lemon recalled. "Sometimes he responds; sometimes he doesn't. He responds and says, 'You are not annoying.' "
When asked if he was afraid following the act of violence, Lemon said he had been living with angst.
"I've had fear recently... because of the political environment," he said. "I get death threats... I have security, all of these things that happened. Listen, we've always been divided ideologically, but there's something different going on now."
Smollett shared in a statement obtained by USA TODAY Feb. 1 that he was doing OK.
"Let me start by saying that I'm OK. My body is strong but my soul is stronger," Smollett wrote. "More importantly, I want to say thank you. The outpouring of love and support from my village has meant more than I will ever be able to truly put into words."
Smollett said his attackers poured an ''unknown chemical substance'' on him, placed a rope around his neck and used racial and homophobic slurs. Smollett later told police his assailants yelled ''This is MAGA country!''
Contributing: Jayme Deerwester
More: Jussie Smollett: Chicago Police say 'Empire' star came home with rope around his neck
More: 'Empire' star Jussie Smollett's family speaks out: 'This was a racial and homophobic hate crime'
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VIDEO - Liz Wheeler on Twitter: "What is WRONG with these people?! Michael Steele says Trump probably wasn't happy the FBI stopped a white nationalist from killing liberals & media people. MSNBC host: "That's a brave thing to say." No, that's an insane, d
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VIDEO - Sunrise Movement ð on Twitter: "This is how @SenFeinstein reacted to children asking her to support the #GreenNewDeal resolution -- with smugness + disrespect. This is a fight for our generation's survival. Her reaction is why young people desp
When it comes to giving advice about manhood, former US president Barack Obama is still the man.
Key points:Mr Obama said confident men don't need to surround themselves with "twerking" womenHe advised boys to be compassionate, look for a mentor and find ways to help guide othersThe My Brother's Keeper initiative was launched after the 2012 shooting death of African-American teen Trayvon MartinAppearing onstage this week with NBA Golden State Warriors superstar Stephen Curry, Mr Obama cracked up an audience of mainly young boys when responding to a question about being a man.
He said it meant being a good person, someone who is responsible, reliable, hard-working and compassionate '-- and not about life as portrayed in a hip-hop music video.
"If you are very confident about your sexuality, you don't have to have eight women around you twerking," he said to applause, with a video of his full response going viral in recent days.
Mr Obama, who left office in 2017, was in Oakland, California, to mark the fifth anniversary of My Brother's Keeper (MBK), an initiative he launched after the 2012 shooting death of 17-year-old African-American Trayvon Martin.
About 100 boys attended the first national gathering of the MBK alliance, an initiative to close opportunity gaps for African-American, Latino and Native American children, sponsored by the Obama Foundation.
Mr Obama and basketball star Curry spoke together for about an hour, answering questions from the audience and joking around. They talked about lacking confidence or being aimless as teens.
Mr Obama praised single mothers, including his own. He advised the boys to look for a mentor, and to find opportunities to guide others.
Curry joined the former president in praising the value of teamwork.
"What we do on the court and the joy that comes out of that is second to none," he said, "because nothing great is done by yourself."
VIDEO - Jeffrey Epstein case: Federal prosecutors broke law, judge says | Miami Herald
Federal prosecutors, under former Miami U.S. Attorney Alex Acosta, broke the law when they concealed a plea agreement from more than 30 underage victims who had been sexually abused by wealthy New York hedge fund manager Jeffrey Epstein, a federal judge ruled Thursday.
While the decision marks a victory for crime victims, the federal judge, Kenneth A. Marra, stopped short of overturning Epstein's plea deal, or issuing an order resolving the case. He instead gave federal prosecutors 15 days to confer with Epstein's victims and their attorneys to come up with a settlement. The victims did not seek money or damages as part of the suit.
It's not clear whether the victims, now in their late 20s and early 30s, can, as part of the settlement, demand that the government prosecute Epstein. But others are calling on the Justice Department to take a new look at the case in the wake of the judge's ruling.
''As a legal matter, the non-prosecution agreement entered into by the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Southern District of Florida does not bind other U.S. Attorneys in other districts. They are free, if they conclude it is appropriate to do so, to bring criminal actions against Mr. Epstein and his co-conspirators,'' said lawyer David Boies, representing two of Epstein's victims who claim they were trafficked by Epstein in New York and other areas of the country.
Earlier this month, the Department of Justice announced it was opening a probe of the case in response to calls from three dozen members of Congress. Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse, the Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Oversight Subcommittee, on Thursday asked the DOJ to re-open Epstein's plea deal.
''The fact that it's taken this long to get this far is heartbreaking and infuriating,'' said Sasse. ''The Department of Justice should use this opportunity to reopen its non-prosecution agreement so that Epstein and anyone else who abused these children are held accountable.''
Epstein's lawyer, Martin Weinberg, did not return a call from the Miami Herald.
Brad Edwards, who represents Courtney Wild '-- Jane Doe No. 1 in the case '-- said he was elated at the judge's ruling, but admitted he is troubled that it took 11 years to litigate. He blamed federal prosecutors for needlessly dragging it out when they could have remedied their error after it was brought to their attention in 2008.
''The government aligned themselves with Epstein, working against his victims, for 11 years,'' Edwards said. ''Yes, this is a huge victory, but to make his victims suffer for 11 years, this should not have happened. Instead of admitting what they did, and doing the right thing, they spent 11 years fighting these girls.''
Marra, in a 33-page opinion, said prosecutors not only violated the Crime Victims' Rights Act by not informing the victims, they also misled the girls into believing that the FBI's sex trafficking case against Epstein was still ongoing '-- when in fact, prosecutors had secretly closed it after sealing the plea bargain from the public record.
The decision follows a three-part series published by the Miami Herald in November, ''Perversion of Justice,'' which detailed how federal prosecutors collaborated with Epstein's lawyers to arrange the deal, then hid it from his victims and the public so that no one would know the full scope of Epstein's crimes and who else was involved.
The 66-year-old mogul lured scores of teenage girls from troubled homes '-- some as young as 13 '-- as part of a cult-like scheme to sexually abuse them by offering them money to give him massages and promising some of them he would send them to college or help them find careers. Future president Donald Trump, former president Bill Clinton, lawyer Alan Dershowitz, Prince Andrew and other world leaders, scientists and academics were friends with Epstein, who also owns a vast home in Manhattan, a private jet, and an island in the U.S. Virgin Islands, where he now lives.
Marra, noting that he reviewed affidavits, depositions and interrogatories '-- presumably some of them sealed '-- showed ''Epstein worked in concert with others to obtain minors not only for his own sexual gratification, but also for the sexual gratification of others, '' the judge said.
Instead of prosecuting Epstein under federal sex trafficking laws, Acosta allowed Epstein to quietly plead guilty in state court to two prostitution charges and he served just 13 months in the Palm Beach County jail. His accomplices, some of whom have never been identified, were not charged.
Jeffrey Epstein is flanked by his legal team during a court hearing in the summer of 2008.
Uma Sanghvi Palm Beach Post via AP
Epstein's victims were not told the case was closed until it was too late for them to appear at his sentencing and possibly upend the deal. Two of them filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida in 2008, claiming that prosecutors violated the Crime Victims' Rights Act, which grants victims of federal crimes a series of rights, including the ability to confer with prosecutors about a possible plea deal.
Marra said that while prosecutors had the right to resolve the case in any way they saw fit, they violated the law by hiding the agreement from Epstein's victims.
''Particularly problematic was the Government's decision to conceal the existence of the [agreement] and mislead the victims to believe that federal prosecution was still a possibility,'' Marra wrote. ''When the Government gives information to victims, it cannot be misleading. While the Government spent untold hours negotiating the terms and implications of the [agreement] with Epstein's attorneys, scant information was shared with victims.''
The U.S. attorney's office in Miami declined to comment.
Acosta, who was nominated as labor secretary in 2017, issued a written statement through a spokesman:
''''For more than a decade, the actions of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida in this case have been defended by the Department of Justice in litigation across three administrations and several attorneys general. The office's decisions were approved by departmental leadership and followed departmental procedures. This matter remains in litigation and, thus, for any further comment we refer you to the Department of Justice.''
Michelle Licata, who was molested by Epstein when she was 14, said the judge's decision was ''a step for justice.'' But she still questions why federal authorities have failed to open a new case against Epstein, given that more victims and evidence has come to light in recent years.
''They should see if they can prosecute him for something. I mean, really prosecute him '-- instead of giving him 13 months where he was allowed to come and go as he pleased. I just want to see him face some consequences for what he did.''
Francey Hakes, a former federal prosecutor, said the Crime Victims' Rights Act doesn't spell out any punishment for violating its terms, so it would set a precedent to re-open Epstein's agreement.
''Epstein will surely argue he complied with the agreement, relied upon it, and plead guilty under it so it can't be overturned in fairness to him,'' she said. ''I will be very interested to see what the parties say the remedy for the violation should be. Ultimately, it is simply shocking the Government went to the lengths they did to keep the victims in the dark in order to make a serious predator's high priced defense team happy. Justice should not, and does not, look like this.''
There has been no statute of limitations for sex trafficking since 2002, but Edwards and other lawyers involved in the case said they tried without success to get federal authorities to investigate whether Epstein's crimes went beyond Palm Beach.
In an op-ed published Sunday in the Herald, Jeffrey H. Sloman, the former first assistant U.S. Attorney under Acosta during the Epstein case, defended their decision to give Epstein federal immunity. He claimed that many of the victims were too frightened to testify against Epstein.
He also noted that there were ''significant legal impediments to prosecuting what was, at heart, a local sex case.''
Marra suggested otherwise in his decision, saying: ''Epstein and his co-conspirators knowingly traveled in interstate and international commerce to sexually abuse Jane Doe 1 and Doe 2 and others, [and] they committed violations of not only Florida law, but also federal law.''
The bulk of his opinion quoted emails exchanged during the tense negotiations between federal prosecutors and Epstein's legal team, which included Roy Black, Jack Goldberger, Alan Dershowitz, Jay Lefkowitz and former Whitewater and Clinton prosecutor Kenneth Starr.
Those emails suggested ways in which both parties tried to keep Epstein's victims in the dark, he said.
''The CVRA [Crime Victims' Rights Act] was designed to protect victims' rights and ensure their involvement in the criminal justice process...'' Marra wrote.
''...Under the facts of this case, once the Government failed to advise the victims about its intention to enter into the [non-prosecution agreement], a violation of the CVRA occurred.''
Victims advocates applauded the judge's decison.
''This is a tremendous victory for crime victims and for the rule of law. The Court made clear that the statute was enacted to make crime victims full participants in the criminal justice system,'' said Jeff R. Dion, executive director of the Zero Abuse Project. ''And when the Government gives information to victims, it cannot be misleading. The Government's conduct was a clear violation of the CVRA, and the court must now consider a remedy.''
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