The European Union's Council has approved new rules for biometric fingerprint and photo security features of identity and residence cards, as proposed by the European Commission.
The new rules require the paper ID cards used by some national authorities, and which New Europe reports are easily falsified for use by terrorists and other criminals, to be replaced with effective minimum security standards. The rules are intended to support the region's free movement rules, which enable EU citizens to live in any other EU country for up to three months with no requirement other than holding a valid identity card or passport. The new rules also apply to residence cards for third-country family members of European citizens.
The initial proposal was made just over a year ago, and passed the penultimate approval step when it passed a vote in the European Parliament in April.
The biometric features of European ID cards will be stored on a contactless chip, making them similar in security to passports.
The identification industry and eu-LISA have also been working on expediting border crossings for vehicles and pedestrians with practical biometric workflow solutions. The Council of Europe's Commissioner for Human Rights recently called for facial recognition to be strictly regulated to preserve freedom of assembly.
Article Topicsbiometrics | EU | Europe | face photo | fingerprint | identity document
It's Time for Sweden to Admit Explosions Are a National Emergency - Quillette
The bomb exploded shortly after 9 a.m. Friday in a blast that ripped through two apartment buildings and could be heard for miles. Twenty-five people suffered cuts and bruises and 250 apartments were damaged. A nearby kindergarten was evacuated. Hospitals jumped into disaster mode. Photos from the scene show rows of demolished balconies and shattered windows. It was ''absolutely incredible'' that no one was severely injured, a police spokesperson said.
It is the kind of news we usually associate with war zones, but this bombing took place in Link¶ping, a peaceful university town in southern Sweden. Remarkably, it was not the only explosion in the country that day; another, seemingly unrelated, blast was reported in a parking lot in the city of Gothenburg earlier in the morning. Three explosions have been reported in Malm¶ since Tuesday morning. As of this writing, no arrests have been made.
Sweden has experienced a sharp rise in explosions in recent years, predominantly related to conflicts between warring criminal gangs. The use of explosives in the Nordic country is now at a level that is unique in the world for a state not at war, according to police. In response, the government issued a first-ever ''amnesty for explosives'' in the fall of 2018, allowing people in possession of such weapons to hand them over to police with immunity. But this didn't stem the tide: some 50 explosions were reported in the first three months of 2019 alone'--an average of more than one every other day and an increase over the same period in 2018, a year that saw a record number of more than three blasts per week.
While explosives have become a weapon of choice among the country's gangs, the effects of such violence are hardly confined to criminals. In the past four years, fatalities include a 63-year-old man who unknowingly picked up a hand grenade lying in the street; an 8-year-old boy who was asleep when a hand grenade was thrown into the apartment where he was staying; and a 4-year-old girl killed in a car bombing.
2011- Dec 5, 2018. Source: Swedish Public Service TV
There has been a corresponding marked escalation in gang-related shootings, which increasingly take place in broad daylight. Sweden had 45 deadly shootings in what police refer to as ''criminal environments'' last year, which is an increase by a factor of 10 in one generation. In contrast, neighbouring Norway has less than three. Deadly shootings per capita in Sweden are now considerably higher than the European average. And systematic witness intimidation, paired with a code of silence in the country's socio-economically weak immigrant areas, has made this type of crime difficult for the Swedish legal system to tackle.
The rise in gang violence and other types of crime'--including sexual offenses and a wave of robberies against children'--has had far-reaching implications for Swedish society. In a country which boasts ''the world's first feminist government,'' a third of young women now report feeling unsafe going out at night. A recent survey in the country's three largest cities showed that safety is now the main priority for Swedes who are looking to buy homes. Crime emerged as a top priority among voters ahead of the election to the European Parliament in May.
According to the prevailing ideology of the Swedish political establishment, this wave of violence, which is baffling to many European neighbours, should not be happening. A longstanding cornerstone of the country's political conversation dictates that crime must be understood in socio-economic terms, and that welfare provisions are a cure-all against violence and social unrest. Yet Sweden is one of Europe's most generous welfare states.
Instead of seeking refuge in ideological wishful thinking, the Swedish government should focus on reforming a criminal justice system that was built for a more peaceful society. To name but one issue: young criminals receive remarkably soft sentences. For example, a 16-year-old convicted of an execution-style killing at a Stockholm pizza restaurant in 2018 was sentenced to three years in institutional care for young people. The country also has one of the smallest police forces per capita in the EU.
Before any specific issues can be addressed the Swedish government must acknowledge the severity of the matter. In the past few years, the rise in violent crime in Sweden has attracted growing attention from international media. How has the Swedish government responded? By launching an elaborate PR campaign for foreign audiences that plays down the challenges'--especially those in the country's immigrant areas. Nothing will change if the government continues to respond to the reality in the streets with cynical rhetorical spin.
Paulina Neuding is Quillette's European editor. Follow her on Twitter @paulinaneuding.
Digital marketer Mailchimp bans anti-vaccination content
Digital marketer Mailchimp has removed several anti-vaccination activists from its platform and will no longer provide services to newsletters that push anti-vaccination content.
The move to block the anti-vaccination rhetoric follows similar actions by other tech companies and comes on the heels of increased pressure from public health advocates and lawmakers on digital platforms to curtail the spread of health misinformation.
The company began quietly enforcing this decision last week.
''We trust the world's leading health authorities, like the CDC, WHO, and the AAP, and follow their guidance when assessing this type of misuse of our platform,'' the spokesperson said, referring to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization and the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Vaccine misinformation that had once been allowed to flourish on the fringes of many mainstream internet destinations has come under growing scrutiny in the past six months, particularly as health officials have warned about the resurgence of some preventable diseases.
Earlier in 2019, Amazon pulled anti-vaccination documentaries from its Prime Video service and several books from its marketplace. Facebook began to stop advertising that spread ''vaccine hoaxes'' and said it planned to reduce the visibility of vaccine misinformation shared on its platform. YouTube also disabled advertising on anti-vaccination videos and lowered in ranking health misinformation content in its search results. Pinterest has blocked all vaccine-related search results.
These denials by the platforms have come as a shock to anti-vaccination advocates who for years were served well by recommendation algorithms that boosted controversial and conspiratorial content, such as the underlying and discredited notion that vaccines cause autism, a unifying theory for anti-vaccination groups.
The spread of such false information has increased vaccine hesitancy among parents, leading to the resurgence of vaccine-preventable diseases. This year, 1,022 measles cases have been confirmed in 28 states, the largest number of cases since 1992, according to the CDC. Seven states are currently experiencing an outbreak of measles, a disease that was officially eradicated in the United States in 2000.
Mailchimp, which has long been one of the most popular email marketing services, announced this week its expansion into original content creation with plans to roll out series, films and podcasts on topics surrounding entrepreneurship in 2019.
Since Mailchimp's decision to ban anti-vaccination content, activists have been quietly scrambling to find new hosts for their email distribution lists, both the original method political and issue activists used to connect with volunteers and donors before the ubiquity of social media, and now one of the final frontiers to reach their audiences and solicit donations following the wider crackdown.
Anti-vaccine activist Larry Cook wrote about Mailchimp's policy decision in a newsletter to followers Wednesday.
''If you have not yet heard, Mailchimp -- an email program I have used to send emails to subscribers for over four years -- has shut down numerous accounts because those accounts share "anti-vaccine" content,'' Cook wrote. ''As this war on our freedom has intensified and as censorship has increased, my expenses as an activist has also increased.''
Cook, who heads one of the most popular online anti-vaccination efforts and a Facebook group with more than 165,000 members, did not return a request for comment. In his newsletter, he told followers he hadn't been booted from Mailchimp yet, but had already moved to Sendy, an alternative newsletter provider, as a precaution.
''This is not a matter of *if* you will get shut down, it's a matter of *when*'' he wrote.
Brandy Zadrozny is an investigative reporter for NBC News.
BitChute is a video hosting service that uses peer-to-peer WebTorrent technology. It was founded as a way to avoid content rules that are enforced on platforms like YouTube, and some creators who have been banned or had their channels "demonetized" (barred from receiving advertising revenue) on YouTube have migrated to BitChute. The platform has accommodated far-right individuals and conspiracy theories. The Southern Poverty Law Center's Hatewatch blog has said the site hosts "hate-fueled material".
In November 2018 BitChute was banned from PayPal, without PayPal publishing any reason for the ban. Alex Jones, the Proud Boys, Tommy Robinson, and several anti-fascists were also banned at the same time.
In January 2019, BitChute announced in a post on Gab that they would move their domains over to Epik, a small domain registrar known for accepting the registration of websites that host far-right content.
Content BitChute has accommodated far-right individuals, and criticized by the Southern Poverty Law Center for hosting "hate-fueled material". There has been conflict between YouTube and right-wing video creators over the inclusion of hate speech and misinformation in videos, and YouTube responded in some cases by banning creators, blocking their videos, or through channel "demonetization". Vahey has described BitChute as an alternative option to avoid the "bannings, demonetization, and tweaking algorithms to send certain content into obscurity" he views as "increased levels of censorship" by established services like YouTube. Some users and groups who have been banned from YouTube have migrated to BitChute, including Alex Jones' far-right conspiracy theory channel InfoWars. Other prominent far-right and alt-right video creators who are not banned from YouTube cross-post their videos to BitChute, including Lauren Southern, Stefan Molyneux, Millennial Woes, and Paul Joseph Watson.
See also Comparison of BitTorrent clientsDecentralized computingList of video hosting servicesPeerTubeReferences ^ "Bitchute.com Traffic, Demographics and Competitors - Alexa". Alexa Internet. Archived from the original on June 9, 2019 . Retrieved June 9, 2019 . ^ a b c Maxwell, Andy (January 29, 2017). "BitChute is a BitTorrent-Powered YouTube Alternative". TorrentFreak. Archived from the original on December 9, 2017 . Retrieved December 10, 2017 . ^ a b c d e Daro, Ishmael N.; Lytvynenko, Jane (April 18, 2018). "Right-Wing YouTubers Think It's Only A Matter Of Time Before They Get Kicked Off The Site". BuzzFeed News. Archived from the original on July 5, 2018 . Retrieved May 4, 2019 . ^ a b c Schroeder, Audra (November 2, 2018). "Far-right conspiracy vloggers have a new home". The Daily Dot. Archived from the original on May 4, 2019 . Retrieved May 4, 2019 . ^ a b Tani, Maxwell (September 22, 2017). " ' There's no one for right-wingers to pick a fight with': The far right is struggling to sustain interest in its social media platforms". Business Insider. Archived from the original on December 8, 2017 . Retrieved December 10, 2017 . ^ Robertson, Adi (October 9, 2017). "Two months ago, the internet tried to banish Nazis. No one knows if it worked". The Verge. Archived from the original on April 4, 2018 . Retrieved May 24, 2019 . Alt-tech services include alternatives to Reddit (Voat), Patreon (Hatreon), Twitter (Gab), GoFundMe (GoyFundMe), and YouTube (BitChute) ^ Livni, Ephrat (May 12, 2019). "Twitter, Facebook, and Insta bans send the alt-right to Gab and Telegram". Quartz. Archived from the original on May 24, 2019 . Retrieved May 24, 2019 . The far right have plenty of places to go when they are no longer welcome on mainstream platforms'--like Parler, Minds, MeWe, and BitChute, among others. ^ a b  ^ a b c Hayden, Michael Edison (January 11, 2019). "A Problem of Epik Proportions". Southern Poverty Law Center. Archived from the original on January 12, 2019 . Retrieved January 12, 2019 . ^ Alexander, Julia (March 7, 2018). "Controversial YouTubers head to alternative platforms in wake of 'purge ' ". Polygon. Archived from the original on May 4, 2019 . Retrieved May 4, 2019 . ^ a b Blake, Andrew (November 14, 2018). "BitChute, YouTube alternative, cries foul over apparent punt from PayPal". The Washington Times. Archived from the original on November 27, 2018 . Retrieved November 28, 2018 . ^ Newton, Casey (November 15, 2018). "Facebook has a growing morale problem". The Verge. Archived from the original on May 4, 2019 . Retrieved May 4, 2019 . ^ Martineau, Paris (November 6, 2018). "How Right-Wing Social Media Site Gab Got Back Online". Wired. ISSN 1059-1028. Archived from the original on May 2, 2019 . Retrieved May 4, 2019 . External links Official website of BitChute
Trump blames Iran for tanker attacks but calls for talks - U.S. - Stripes
WASHINGTON '-- President Donald Trump has blamed Iran for attacks on oil tankers near the strategic Strait of Hormuz, but he also held out hope that implicit U.S. threats to use force will yield talks with the Islamic Republic as the Pentagon considers beefing up defenses in the Persian Gulf area.
A day after explosions blew holes in two oil tankers just outside Iran's territorial waters, rattling international oil markets, the administration seemed caught between pressure to punish Iran and reassure Washington's Gulf Arab allies without drawing the U.S. closer to war.
"Iran did it," Trump said Friday on Fox News Channel's "Fox & Friends." He didn't offer evidence, but the U.S. military released video it said showed Iran's Revolutionary Guard removing an unexploded mine from one of the oil tankers targeted near the Strait of Hormuz, suggesting Tehran wanted to cover its tracks.
By pointing the finger at Iran, Trump was keeping a public spotlight on an adversary he accuses of terrorism but also has invited to negotiate. The approach is similar to his diplomacy with North Korea, which has quieted talk of war but not yet achieved his goal of nuclear disarmament. Iran has shown little sign of backing down, creating uncertainty about how far the Trump administration can go with its campaign of increasing pressure through sanctions.
Iran denied any involvement in the attacks and accused Washington of waging an "Iranophobic campaign" of economic warfare.
A U.S. Navy team on Friday was aboard one of the tankers, the Japanese-owned Kokuka Courageous, collecting forensic evidence, according to a U.S. official who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive operation.
Apparently alluding to the U.S. video, Trump said Iran's culpability had been "exposed." He did not say what he intended to do about it but suggested "very tough" U.S. sanctions, including efforts to strangle Iranian oil revenues, would have the desired effect.
"They've been told in very strong terms we want to get them back to the table," Trump said. Just a day earlier, the president took the opposite view, tweeting that it was "too soon to even think about making a deal" with Iran's leaders. "They are not ready, and neither are we!"
Trump last year withdrew the United States from an international agreement to limit Iran's nuclear program that was signed in 2015 under his predecessor, President Barack Obama. He has since then re-instated economic sanctions aimed at compelling the Iranians to return to the negotiating table. Just last month the U.S. ended waivers that allowed some countries to continue buying Iranian oil, a move that is starving Iran of oil income and that coincided with what U.S. officials called a surge in intelligence pointing to Iranian preparations for attacks against U.S. forces and interests in the Gulf region.
In response to those intelligence warnings, the U.S. on May 5 announced it was accelerating the deployment of the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier battle group to the Gulf region. It also sent four nuclear-capable B-52 bombers to Qatar and has beefed up its defenses in the region by deploying more Patriot air defense systems.
Officials said that Pentagon deliberations about possibly sending more military resources to the region, including more Patriot missile batteries, could be accelerated by Thursday's dramatic attack on the oil tankers.
At the Pentagon, acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said Iran is not just a U.S. problem. He said the U.S. goal is to "build international consensus to this international problem," and to ensure that U.S. military commanders in the region get the resources and support they need.
In remarks to reporters later, Shanahan noted the commercial and strategic importance of the Strait of Hormuz, through which passes about 20 percent of the world's oil.
"So, we obviously need to make contingency plans should the situation deteriorate," he said.
Other administration officials said the U.S. is re-evaluating its presence in the region and will discuss the matter with allies before making decisions. The officials, who briefed reporters on condition of anonymity, said Thursday the U.S. is looking at all options to ensure that maritime traffic in the region is safe and that international commerce, particularly through the Strait of Hormuz, is not disrupted. One option, they said, is for U.S. and allied ships to accompany vessels through the strait, noting that this tactic has been used in the past. They said there is no timeline for any decisions.
Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Mich., said that providing naval escorts through the Strait of Hormuz is an option, but, "I don't think it's a sustainable option because of the amount of traffic." She said tanker warfare in the Persian Gulf has historically been a problem, and she wouldn't be opposed to the U.S. having a more visible presence in the region.
Slotkin, a former senior policy adviser at the Pentagon, said she is concerned that the Trump administration does not have a clear strategy on Iran. She said it's difficult to deter Iran without provoking additional violence, adding, "I don't believe this administration is capable of walking such a deft, fine line."
In ticking off a list of Iranian acts of "unprovoked aggression," including Thursday's oil tanker attacks, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo added a surprise accusation. He asserted on Thursday that a late May car bombing of a U.S. convoy in Kabul, Afghanistan, was among a series of threats or attacks by Iran and its proxies against American and allies interests. At the time, the Taliban claimed credit for the attack, with no public word of Iranian involvement.
Pompeo's inclusion of the Afghanistan attack in his list of six Iranian incidents has raised eyebrows in Congress, where he and other U.S. officials have suggested that the administration would be legally justified in taking military action against Iran under the 2001 Authorization of Military Force, or AUMF. In that law, Congress gave then-President George W. Bush authority to retaliate against al-Qaida and the Taliban for the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. It has subsequently been used to allow military force against extremists elsewhere, from the Philippines to Syria.
As the world awaited Washington's next move, analysts said it was difficult to sort out the conflicting claims.
"There are few actors in the world that have less credibility than Donald Trump and the Iranian regime, so even U.S. allies at the moment are confused about what happened," said Karim Sadjadpour, an Iran expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He said the "tremendous mistrust" of both Trump and Iran has made "the biggest priority for most countries to simply avoid conflict or further escalation."
At the same time, Iranian Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is in a difficult position, Sadjadpour said. "If he didn't respond to Trump's provocations, he would risk looking like a paper tiger and projecting weakness. But if he responds overly aggressive to Trump he potentially destabilizes his own rule and his own regime. That's why we've seen Iran calibrate its escalation."
AP writers Zeke Miller and Matthew Lee contributed to this report.
Saudi Arabia blames Iran for oil tanker attacks, but doesn't want 'regional war' '-- RT World News
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has accused Iran of masterminding the attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman this week. One of the explosions rocked a Japanese-owned ship just as PM Abe held talks in Tehran.
The Iranian government ''did not respect the presence of the Japanese Prime Minister as a guest, as Tehran instead attacked the two tankers, one of which was heading for Japan,'' bin Salman told Saudi-owned paper Ashraq Al-Awsat on Sunday.
The Crown Prince further accused Tehran of ''targeting the security and stability of the region,'' but stressed that Riyadh does not want the current tensions to spiral into ''a regional war.''
Two oil tankers, the Norwegian-owned 'Front Altair' and the Japanese-owned 'Kokuka Courageous,' suffered attacks in the Gulf of Oman on Thursday. US President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo quickly pinned the incidents on Tehran, citing intelligence reports. ''It's probably got essentially Iran written all over it,'' Trump said on Friday.
Also on rt.com 'Iran written all over it': Trump accuses Tehran of carrying out tanker attacks Washington later released a blurry video allegedly showing the crew of an Iranian patrol boat removing a limpet mine from one of the ship's hulls. The US did not provide any additional proof of Iran's alleged culpability in the attacks. The head of the Japanese shipping company that owned the vessel, meanwhile, told reporters that the crew saw ''a flying object'' hitting the ship.
Iran has denied all accusations. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that the US ''immediately jumped'' to blame his nation ''without a shred of factual or circumstantial evidence,'' with the goal of sabotaging Iran's relations with Japan.
The ships were targeted just as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe came to Tehran, marking the first time that a Japanese leader has visited the nation since the Islamic Revolution of 1979.
Experts interviewed by RT raised serious doubts as to whether Iran would carry out such a brazen attack on foreign ships at a time of increasing tensions in the region. ''Why would Iran do it? They have no reason to go to war and they have no reason to escalate the situation,'' defense analyst and retired lieutenant general, Amjad Shoaib, noted.
Also on rt.com Cui bono? Iran has 'no reason' to torpedo oil tankers in Gulf of Oman & 'go to war' Some US allies in Europe were also reluctant to follow Washington's line of reasoning against Iran. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said that the video, which was shared by the US Navy, was ''not enough'' to ''make a final assessment'' of the incident.
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Ministry of Truthiness
MSNBC Shakeup: Jonathan Wald and Dan Arnall Take Dayside
MSNBC implemented a big shakeup in programming this week, Mediaite has learned, appointing SVP of programming and development Jonathan Wald and MSNBC executive editor Dan Arnall to lead dayside. The former head of dayside, NBC News SVP Janelle Rodriguez, will take control of NBC News Now, the network's streaming service.
The changes were announced company-wide at 9 a.m. Wednesday. A source told Mediaite that the new organization returns MSNBC to its former structure: dayside will be managed in two blocks, with Wald taking over 9 a.m. to noon and Arnall taking noon to 4 p.m. Wald will also continue to oversee the network's primetime shows, alongside MSNBC president Phil Griffin.
Rodriguez will continue to lead newsgathering and editorial for MSNBC dayside, NBC Nightly News, in addition to her job for the network's streaming service. Show producers, however, will report to Wald and Arnall.
One source familiar told Mediaite the changes came amidst mounting complaints from NBC News chief Andy Lack about a dip in MSNBC's ratings following the end of the Mueller investigation. In May, ratings for the network in the advertiser coveted 25-54 demo were down 32% year over year. MSNBC's ratings in total viewers were flat, though it saw an increase in dayside viewership of 8%, while CNN and Fox News were down.
Lack is expected to meet with Wald and Arnall this week to discuss the changes.
NBC's SVP of Specials Rashida Jones, who launched NBC News Now, will turn her focus to editorial projects, including debates and town halls in anticipation of the 2020 election.
Wald joined MSNBC in 2017 from CNN, where he was EP of Don Lemon's show CNN Tonight. Before that, he was executive producer of Today and Nightly News at NBC. Arnall, the former NBC Nightly News Weekend ep, was named executive editor of MSNBC dayside earlier this year, reporting to Rodriguez.
[Photo by Michael Nagle/Getty Images]
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MSNBC reshuffles programming leadership amid ratings drop
June 12, 2019 | 11:37pm | Updated June 13, 2019 | 11:04am
MSNBC on Wednesday announced the reshuffling of its programming leadership amid complaints from NBC News chief Andy Lack over a ratings drop since the Mueller investigation wrapped up, according to Mediaite.
Senior Vice President of Programming and Development Johnathan Wald will join MSNBC Executive Editor Dan Arnall to lead daytime production, replacing NBC News Senior Vice President Janelle Rodriguez in that role, the report said.
Rodrguez will still oversee all news-gathering and editorial for dayside, along with business, tech and health units and NBC News Now '-- the network's streaming service, a source told The Post.
NBC News Senior Vice President Janelle Rodriguez is departing dayside to helm NBC News Now, the network's streaming service, the site reported.
The changes were announced at a 9 a.m. company meeting.
The TV network will also revert back to its former programming structure, a source told Mediaite '-- with Wald overseeing the 9 a.m.-to-noon block, while Arnall leads the noon-to-4 p.m. operations.
The network has seen its ratings slide since the Mueller investigation concluded in late March.
Their May ratings for the targeted 25-to-54-year-old demographic was down 32% year over year.
Facebook plans to help news publishers generate revenue | Media news
Credit: Jesper Doub speaking at GEN Summit (13 June 2019)Jesper Doub, Facebook EMEA, director of news partnerships, was an outspoken critic of Facebook until he joined the company last year.
Speaking at GEN Summit today (13 June 2019), he said that Facebook is looking at new ways to help news organisations monetise content published on the platform.
''I believe the best way to make it happen is to allow news organisations to make business on Facebook,'' he said.
One option the company is considering is a dedicated space for news on Facebook, not revealing any specific details of what it would look like. Another is a tool allowing publishers to build subscriptions via the platform with pricing, data harvesting and contracts being determined by publishers and readers.
Doub added that Facebook is putting together a list of trustworthy news sources, in addition to actively down-ranking clickbait content.
''We look to treat trustworthy reporters and news organisations differently. It's not only about the New York Times or Der Spiegel, we also look at individual journalists.''
The project sees a host of different experts, such as academics, journalists and lawyers working together to determine trustworthiness of news sources.
''We want to support independent journalism,'' Doub affirmed, adding that the purpose of the list is not to ban or rank people but to create a database of sources that can be trusted and treated differently to everyone else.
''We also work with organisations like RISJ to find better ways to support journalism, especially local news '' he added.
There is no clear timeline for these new features, but Journalism.co.uk understands it will take at least three to six months to see the pilot projects roll out in the US, will other countries testing the tools afterwards.
These new projects came after Facebook made changes to its algorithm, which angered many publishers as they experienced a significant drop in web traffic.
''If you look at the algorithm, its role is to rank content from the user's perspective, determining what you would like to read. Journalists, however, think of content as something you ought to read.''
He explained that news stories are now taking longer to show in users' news feed and the news content that is shown may not be the top story of the day as it will depend on users' - and their friends' - behaviour.
''The news only comes from news pages you like, you only see the content you first choose,'' stressed Doub.
But considering the bitter taste left by the last experience, can the publishers trust the platform now?
''Facebook will not be the solution but we want to be the part of it,'' Doub concluded.
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Joshua Benton on Twitter: "Hmmm...Facebook plans to determine the ''trustworthiness'' of individual reporters, not just news organizations https://t.co/3Drm5RYkYX'... https://t.co/LzNLOdYLv5"
Anna Caballero, a Democratic state senator from a district near me in California, had a proposal that I actually agreed with. She wanted the term ''renewable energy'' in California law to refer to'--hold on to your hat'--renewable energy.
Specifically, she wanted to allow two utilities, in the Modesto and Turlock irrigation districts, to be able to categorize as renewable energy electricity that turbines at the Don Pedro Reservoir generated. Certainly, such energy sounds renewable. But her measure failed to get enough support in the California Senate.
Categorization MattersWhy did the categorization matter? Because of a law that former Governor Jerry Brown signed last year that requires utilities in California to, by 2030, produce 60 percent of their electricity from renewable sources.
Did the opponents argue that hydroelectric energy is not renewable energy? No. Politics in California is sometimes crazy but no opponent I know of argued that a particular form of renewable energy is not renewable energy.
So what did the opponents argue? Here's what Paul Rogers of the Bay Area News Group reported:
The bill drew stiff opposition from environmental and health groups, from the Sierra Club to the American Lung Association. They argued that if Don Pedro's electricity was counted as renewable, then the owners of dozens of other large dams would want the same treatment. That would mean that demand for solar and wind power could falter.
In other words, these interest groups have decided that the way to meet the renewable energy goal is to have more solar and wind power even if hydroelectric power is cheaper. They are set on their solution. Notice that that means that they don't really want renewable energy. They want solar and wind.
This article is republished with permission from the Library of Economics and Liberty.
Opinion | Is Travel Ethical at a Time of Climate Change? - The New York Times
Opinion | Is Travel Ethical at a Time of Climate Change? letters
Readers wrestle with their carbon footprint. ''Does travel equate to being a bad person?'' one asks.
Image Credit Credit Antoine Maillard To the Editor:
Re ''Travel's Climate Problem,'' by Andy Newman (Travel section, June 9):
I am a regular international traveler, and I recently relocated from Washington to Dubai. I think a lot about my individual carbon footprint and contribution to climate change. Your article articulated many of my thoughts. Should I stop traveling? Was my move to Dubai an ethical choice? Are carbon offsets effective? If so, what type?
But the article touched only briefly on one important point: ''Personal decisions alone won't stop global warming '-- that will take policy changes by governments on a worldwide scale.''
As the United States tragically retreats toward nationalism under President Trump, reducing international travel will further contribute to our isolation. We need a global approach to climate change, and the United States must take the lead.
International travel is a critical element in achieving the groundswell we need to elect leaders who will act. For minds to change, Americans have to meet their fellow global citizens and see the effects of climate change on people and the environment across the world.
John T. ChisholmDubai, United Arab Emirates
To the Editor:
Andy Newman perfectly articulates a fear that many travelers lose sleep over: Does travel equate to being a bad person? The author seems to think yes, up until he justifies his own vacation to Greece. Despite what his climate facts imply, Mr. Newman still argues for the gray line.
Unfortunately, right now there is no room for blurry areas when it comes to climate change. Those who are not actively helping the cause are in the wrong. Travel may be a difficult sacrifice, but it is a habit that must be broken. One family's vacation is costing another coastal family their home. There is no world where that can be justified.
Labeling travel as sinful will not put an end to planes and ships, but it will require vacationers to think twice about how far from home they will go. International travel is not a basic need. Therefore, future Europe vacations can be postponed until this choice does not pose a long-term threat to the earth.
Eliana M. BlumNew Orleans
To the Editor:
The ''tragedy of the commons'' '-- the term used to describe a situation in which individuals act in accordance with their own self-interest at the expense of the common good '-- is often used to explain the persistence of modern environmental problems. If only we had more data, facts and knowledge of the unintended consequences of our actions, the thinking goes, we would make better choices that would benefit everyone.
I've come to realize that this is wishful thinking. Even with a clear understanding of the consequences of our actions, a vast majority of people will still seek to have their desires satisfied rather than extinguished. The desire for travel is no different.
In his ''Confessions,'' St. Augustine prayed to be delivered from his lustful desires. ''Grant me chastity and continence,'' he pleads with God, ''but not yet.''
To put this into modern terms, most environmentally minded people (me included) are living as if to say, ''I want to reduce my carbon footprint, but not yet.''
To the Editor:
Andy Newman's article touched a nerve as I grapple with my own carbon footprint, traveling around the globe to visit the places that are vanishing and/or heavily affected by climate change.
I'm currently in the Pacific visiting island countries, and my only real option is via planes because boat travel would take months to hit the places on my list.
Mr. Newman mentions that some might be thinking, ''go see them before they disappear!,'' but that can be viewed as ''evil.'' In some ways that's exactly what I'm doing for the primary purpose of bringing awareness about these vanishing places, but also to take this journey for everyone who can't and, as Mr. Newman points out, shouldn't.
If you want another motivation to reduce your carbon footprint or help elect politicians who will take action on climate change, you can look at my website, www.vanishingplaces.org, and witness what communities are facing and what we are losing as a global community.
To the Editor:
Your examination of how personal travel ''is the biggest single action a private citizen can take to worsen climate change'' is an impressive statistical analysis, but ultimately an unhelpful guide for Americans who want to solve climate change.
This is a planetary emergency. Personal sacrifices will never be enough to fix it. We need to make institutional, scaled-up changes across our economy that reduce our reliance on dirty technology and encourage much-needed innovation in green energy.
We can start by putting a price on carbon, an idea I have worked with Senator Sheldon Whitehouse to advance in the Senate. According to M.I.T., this single action could lead to a 63 percent drop in total United States greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. It will also give industry the financial incentive to find and use clean, efficient energy sources.
We won't save the planet just by canceling our vacations. Citizens should demand solutions that meet the scale of the problem.
Brian SchatzWashingtonThe writer, a Hawaii Democrat, is chairman of the Senate Democrats' Special Committee on the Climate Crisis.
How a rising of the ocean waters may flood most of our port cities within the foreseeable future '-- and why it will be followed by the growth of a vast glacier which may eventually cover much of Europe and North America.
T HIS is the story of two scientists, who started five years ago '-- with a single radiocarbon clue from the ocean bottom and a wild hunch '-- to track down one of the earth's great unsolved mysteries: What caused the ancient ice ages? Their search led over many continents and seas, to drowned rivers and abandoned mountain caves, into far-removed branches of science. It took them down through recorded history, from the stone tablets of primitive man to contemporary newspaper headlines.
These two serious, careful scientists '-- geophysicist Maurice Ewing, director of Columbia University's Lamont Geological Observatory, and geologist-meteorologist William Donn believe they have finally found the explanation for the giant glaciers, which four times during the past million years have advanced and retreated over the earth. If they are right, the world is now heading into another Ice Age. It will come not as sudden catastrophe, but as the inevitable culmination of a process that has already begun in northern oceans.
As Ewing and Donn read the evidence, an Ice Age will result from a slow warming and rising of the ocean that is now taking place. They believe that this ocean flood '-- which may submerge large coastal areas of the eastern United States and western Europe '-- is going to melt the ice sheet which has covered the Arctic Ocean through all recorded history. Calculations based on the independent observations of other scientists indicate this melting could begin, within roughly one hundred years.
It is this melting of Arctic ice which Ewing and Donn believe will set off another Ice Age on earth. They predict that it will cause great snows to fall in the north '-- perennial unmelting snows which the world has not seen since the last Ice Age thousands of years ago. These snows will make the Arctic glaciers grow again, until their towering height forces them forward. The advance south will be slow, but if it follows the route of previous ice ages, it will encase in ice large parts of North America and Europe. It would, of course, take many centuries for that wall of ice to reach New York and Chicago, London and Paris. But its coming is an inevitable consequence of the cycle which Ewing and Donn believe is now taking place.
The coming of another Ice Age is an event serious scientists have never been able to predict from observable Earth phenomena. For until Ewing and Donn postulated their new Theory of Ice Ages (it was first published in Science in June 1956 and a second report appeared in May 1958) the very nature of the problem seemed to defy the kind of scientific understanding which makes prediction possible.
Scientists know that the glaciers which stand quiet in the Arctic today once covered America with a wall of ice up to two miles thick '-- its southern boundary extending from Long Island across New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, and the Dakotas to the Missouri River, with extensions into the western mountain country . . . that it covered northern Europe, England, large parts of France and Germany . . . that it created the Great Lakes, the Hudson and St. Lawrence Rivers . . . that it moved mountains, crashed down forests, destroyed whole species of life.
They also know that it is cold enough at the Arctic for glaciers to grow today, but almost no snow has fallen there in modern times. What caused those snows that built the Ice Age glaciers until their own height forced them to march, and what caused them finally to retreat? And why has the earth been swinging back and forth between Ice Ages and climate like today's for a million years, when before then the entire planet enjoyed a temperate climate with no extremes of hot or cold? Scientists could answer these questions only in terms of sudden catastrophe '-- a volcanic eruption, the earth's movement into a cloud of cosmic dust '-- and unpredictable catastrophes are not the concern of contemporary science. Few scientists had even worked on the problem in recent years.
It was only by a combination of lucky circumstance and persistent curiosity that Ewing and Donn as a team began working steadily on the Ice Age Mystery. As Director of Lamont Geological Observatory, located on top of the New York Palisades over the Hudson River, Ewing teaches theoretical geophysics and directs research in earthquake seismology, marine geology and biology, and oceanography. Donn teaches geology at Brooklyn College and directs the research in meteorology at Lamont. Since the two men live twenty miles apart and were occupied all day, they would often meet at eleven at night in a deserted laboratory at Columbia University '-- midway between their homes '-- and work into the morning on the Ice Age trail.
CLUES FROM SEA FOSSILS
T HE two men share the scientist's passion for pure search, no matter where it leads. Ewing, a tall and powerful Texan who speaks in a gentle voice, was white-haired before he was fifty, a fact his friends attribute to the pace at which he has lived his life as a scientist. For a quarter-century he has been leading expeditions over the ocean, often risking his life while pioneering new methods of investigating its secrets. In the early 1930s he founded a new science by dropping charges from a whale boat and using a seismograph to identify the different layers of earth beneath the ocean. In 1955 he was given the Navy Distinguished Service Award for devising the SOFAR (Sound Fixing and Ranging) method for rescuing men from ships and planes lost at sea.
Donn, New York City bred, is a slight, wiry meteorologist, who tames tidal waves with logarithms. His mastery of the complex relationship between sea and weather complemented Ewing's knowledge of the depths of the oceans.
The original bits of information which set the two scientists onto the trail of the Ice Age Mystery first came to light on the decks of the three-masted schooner Vema which Lamont Observatory uses for scientific exploration. In the summer of 1953, the ship traced a puzzling pattern on the ocean bottom which led from the Atlantic to the Gulf of Mexico and into the Caribbean Sea. The Columbia-Lamont crew were working with their newly perfected ''deep sea corer,'' a device which can bring up primeval sediment undisturbed through as much as 4,000 fathoms of water (24,000 feet) '-- just as it was deposited thousands of years ago.
This ''corer'' is a sharp-edged steel tube, two-and-a-half inches in diameter and up to 70 feet in length. When it has been lowered from the ship to within 15 feet of the sea bottom, a trigger trips the holding mechanism and the tube is punched by a weight into the sediment. The Lamont ocean expeditions have brought up cores as long as 60 feet '-- nearly 2,000 of them '-- representing the successive deposits of thousands of years. As Ewing describes it,
''The entire record of the earth is there in the most undisturbed form it is possible to find anywhere '-- traces of the animals, rocks, and plants of successive ages preserved in the order in which they filtered down from the surface of the sea.''
Only recently, radioactive isotope techniques have made if possible to deduce when the sediment was deposited, and other things about the world from which it came. Scientists can now measure the radiocarbon in a sample of ocean-bottom mud '-- and know how long it has lain there. Radioactive carbon ceases to be replenished when removed from the atmosphere, and decays at a known rate. Chemists therefore calculate from the ratio of radiocarbon to ordinary carbon in a fossil shell whether it has been decaying for a thousand, five, or ten thousand years.
In these cores of mud from the Caribbean, the equatorial Atlantic, and the Gulf of Mexico that summer, the Lamont expedition kept seeing a strange sharp line. ''About a foot below the floor of the ocean the sediment suddenly changed from salmon pink to gray,'' Ewing said. ''You could see it sharp as a razor when the cores were opened on the ship's deck. Others had reported this same line in the North Atlantic.
''When we put these cores to paleontological laboratory tests back at Lamont, we found out what that razor-sharp line meant: at a certain time the ocean suddenly changed from cold to warm. The pink sediment contained shells of minute warm-water animals; the gray sediment, cold-water animals.''
Back at Lamont, measurement of radiocarbon showed that this sudden warming took place throughout the length and breadth of the vast Atlantic Ocean '-- 11,000 years ago. The cores showed virtually no change in temperature for 90,000 years '-- except for this one sudden increase. Donn, Lamont's meteorological expert, was as mystified as Ewing.
''What happened 11,000 years ago to heat the ocean?'' they kept asking themselves at odd moments over the next year or so. ''What could change the climate of the whole ocean so abruptly?''
A JACKPOT IN ICE
N EITHER Ewing nor Donn can say precisely when the hunch came. The problem continued to tantalize them, as they traveled about the country attending meetings and doing field work. On the way back from Chicago, they may have watched the ice break up in the Delaware River. They recall reading a newspaper item about a big gambling jackpot on which day the ice would go out in the Yukon. The chain of thought seems obvious now: water freezing '-- ice going out '-- this is a sharp, abrupt change, the only sudden change that can happen to a body of water.
But oceans don't freeze. Ocean currents dissipate the cold '-- except, of course, in the small Arctic Ocean which is almost entirely surrounded by land.
''What would happen if the ice went out of the Arctic Ocean as it does in the Yukon or the Delaware?'' Ewing and Donn remember wondering, as they went over the problem again, one day at Lamont.
''Well, we figured, the Arctic Ocean would get warmer. Because water would flow more freely between it and the Atlantic, dissipating the cold. And of course, the Atlantic Ocean would get colder. But wait a minute . . . we saw it simultaneously. If the Arctic Ocean were open water, warmed by the Atlantic, warmer than the land around it, water would evaporate and fall as snow on the land. More snow on Greenland and northern Canada would make glaciers grow. Glaciers don't grow now because there is no open water in the Arctic to provide the moisture for snow.
''And suddenly we had the startling hunch that the Arctic Ocean was open during the Ice Age. And that it froze over only 11,000 years ago. It was this freezing over of the Arctic Ocean which so suddenly warmed the Atlantic '-- and ended the Ice Age.''
''That rather exciting ten minutes,'' they told me, ''contradicted a whole lot of things we'd always taken for granted. Everyone has assumed that the Arctic Ocean, so covered with ice today, would be even colder and more completely frozen during an Ice Age.
''You get a lot of these wild ideas in our business. If one lasts five minutes you begin to take it seriously. The more we thought about this one, the more it added up. It explained so many things that have always puzzled us.
''For once you accept the radical idea that the Arctic was a warm open ocean at the time of the great continental glaciers, you can reconstruct a completely different weather pattern from the one we know today. As we worked it out, we could see a startling chain of cause and effect between the oceans and the glaciers themselves. We could see how the oceans would work as an actual 'thermostat' to keep the earth alternating between glacial ice ages and interglacial periods such as today.
''It all hinges on the fact that the North Pole is where it is '-- in the middle of the Arctic Ocean, which is almost completely surrounded by land except for a shallow 'sill' between Norway and Greenland opening into the Atlantic, and the insignificant Bering Strait. If the cold waters of the Arctic interchanged freely over this sill with the warm Atlantic water, the Arctic Ocean would not freeze over. Its moisture would build glaciers. (In the cold temperatures of the north, the moisture that evaporates from the open Arctic would all fall as snow '-- too much snow to melt in the short Arctic summer. When the rate at which snow accumulates exceeds the rate at which it melts, glaciers grow.) But as those glaciers grew, they would lock up so much ocean water that sea level would fall.
''We know that sea level was lowered between 300 and 400 feet at the peak of the last Ice Age. Now, most of that sill between Norway and Greenland is less than 300 feet deep. At a certain point the glaciers would lower the sea level so much that the Arctic Ocean would be virtually cut off from the warmer Atlantic. The Arctic Ocean would then freeze over. And the glaciers, no longer led by snow, would melt under the Arctic summer sun, restoring their water to the oceans. Then sea level would rise, until enough warm Atlantic water again flowed over that sill to melt the Arctic ice sheet, and start another glacial cycle.''
Donn worked out a weather map of the world, with an open Arctic Ocean, warmer than surrounding lands. It showed a completely different storm pattern than exists today; more rain and snow in the Arctic, a wind pattern carrying more ocean moisture inland generally. It showed violent blizzards over eastern North America which would spread more snow on the glaciers. Summers would become more like winters as the glacial wall advanced southward. Donn's weather map with the open Arctic even showed that there would be rain in today's deserts.
But they needed more proof for their theory. They had to track down the circumstantial evidence of what happened 11,000 years ago; they had to find geological witnesses to confirm their reconstruction of the crime.
CLUES FROM A DROWNED RIVER
T HEY embarked on the painstaking examination of the records of past Arctic explorers. There was little relevant data. One day, going through dusty old volumes of the National Geographic, they found a photograph of an Arctic beach '-- a beach that could have been made only by long years of pounding waves. There must have been open sea in the Arctic to make that beach.
Ewing took to sea in the Vema again. In the Gulf of Mexico, the Ice Age trail seemed to peter out altogether in a bottomless plain of flat gray silt. The Vema took core after core below the Mississippi Delta without finding the crucial fossil lines.
''We couldn't even get to the bottom of it with our corers,'' Ewing recalls. ''We were sure the Gulf must have changed from cold to warm just as the other oceans, but how could we prove it when there seemed to be no fossils at all in that endless gray layer? We suspected that the gray silt had come from the Mississippi and had spread over the floor of the Gulf by creeping along the bottom. If we could find a hill that stood well above the Gulf floor, the sediment on top of it would have come down undisturbed from the surface of the water and might contain the record of those temperature changes.''
They nearly sailed over them '-- a cluster of hills rising a thousand feet off the ocean floor. There, instead of puzzling gray silt, they finally found the familiar, razor-sharp layers of glacial and interglacial fossils.
And that very gray silt which had obscured their trail turned out to be further proof that 11,000 years ago was the date the Ice Age ended.
For back at Lamont, radiocarbon measurement showed that the silt stopped sliding from the Mississippi just 11,000 years ago. This meant that a great rise in sea level must have taken place at just that time. Drowned by the rising sea, the lower channels of the Mississippi River would retain their own sediment, losing the power to take it out to the deep central part of the Gulf, it was, almost certainly, the rise in sea level caused by the melting of the glaciers.
AND THE FISHBONE CAVES
A S THE Lamont crew were pursuing this mystery in the sea, other scientists were unearthing new Ice Age clues on land. Atomic Energy Commissioner Willard F. Libby, the scientist who originated radiocarbon dating, found fossils of a forest at Two Creeks, Wisconsin, that had been first flooded and then overridden by the advancing ice. Radiocarbon dating proved that those trees, at one of the southern fingertips of the last glacial advance, were pushed over about 11,000 years ago. (Previously, geologists thought the ice had disappeared long before that time.)
Then a series of dramatic clues were brought in by other geologists from caves in the cliffs above the dry Great Basin of Nevada and Utah. Several thousand feet above the basin are rock niches worn by the waves of glacial lakes '-- lakes created by the great rains that fell south of the Ice Age snows. Far below are caves, also worn by those waves, that were inhabited by man: the famous Fishbone Cave above the dry Winnemucca Lake in western Nevada and the Danger Cave above glacial Lake Bonneville in Utah.
The evidence showed that men moved into those caves shortly after the lake level suddenly dropped and exposed them. Remains were found of the nets and baskets they used to catch the fish of the now vanished glacial lakes. Radiocarbon dating showed that men were living in those caves '-- brought above the water when the great glacial rains and snows stopped '-- approximately 11,000 years ago. And the time during which the glacial lakes dropped from those niches thousands of feet above on the cliffs, to the level of the lower caves, was dramatically short '-- only several hundred years. It was like the sudden change Ewing and Donn had observed in the ocean. The date was now established: 11,000 years ago, plus or minus a few hundred years, the last Ice Age suddenly ended.
At the time the theory was constructed, there was no actual evidence from the Arctic Ocean itself to indicate it had ever been ice-free. Some months later Dr. A. P. Crary came back from the Arctic Ocean and sent his cores to Lamont. These cores indicated there had been minute animal life for thousands of years in the Arctic Ocean, which suddenly stopped '-- eleven millenniums ago. They also showed evidence of icebergs free to move in open water at the time Ewing and Donn think the Arctic was open.
BEYOND THE NORTH WIND
C OULD men have lived on the shores of this ocean during the Ice Age? Were there human witnesses to the open Arctic sea?
''It was only by accident that we stumbled on a vital clue in a completely different branch of science,'' they told me. ''We might have missed it altogether because of the compartmentalization of science.''
One day a colleague of Donn's happened to remark over coffee that he'd overheard an anthropologist in the faculty room talking about some traces that had just been discovered of an ancient civilization around the Arctic.
Donn and Ewing started calling anthropologists. The evidence was uncertain, they learned, but some of it pointed strongly to well-established communities of man around the Arctic many thousands of years ago. In fact, the oldest flints showing man in America had been found recently in a band around the Arctic Circle, seldom straying south.
Anthropologists had been mystified. Even if a land bridge between Siberia and Alaska had existed then, why would man choose to use it to settle in the Arctic Circle, in the very heart of the intense polar cold, at temperature which was assumed to be even lower than today? Around that frozen Arctic Ocean, where would man have found the fish and game those flints suggested? Why would men have stayed there for centuries '-- unless, as Ewing and Donn now believe, the Arctic Ocean was open then, and its shores were a warm oasis compared with the glaciers to the South?
Ewing and Donn got another anthropologist out of bed late at night to question him further. He told them that, while anthropologists are still uncertain as to how and when man first came to America, they are pretty sure he suddenly started migrating south, in an explosive wave, about 11,000 years ago.
Here, perhaps, were their human witnesses to the end of the Ice Age! The people who lived ''beyond the north wind'' on Arctic shores, behind the towering wall of ice, using their flint-tipped weapons on big game and fish that could not survive in the cold Arctic temperatures of today. These men evidently came to America from Siberia when the glaciers had taken enough water from the sea to uncover the Siberian land bridge. They stayed for some centuries around the warm Arctic because the glaciers kept them from straying south. Then, 11,000 years ago, they suddenly fled. If the Arctic Ocean suddenly froze over, they couldn't eat. Nor could they go back to Siberia because the great rise in sea level at the end of the Ice Age would once more submerge the land bridge.
And just at the time when they could no longer stay in the Arctic, paths opened in the great ice wall south of them. The melting glaciers permitted men to go south at last '-- in such a rapid wave that they reached the tip of South America in a few thousand years.
So anthropologists are now reconstructing their own mysteries in the light of Ewing and Donn's Theory of Ice Ages '-- which California's authority on early man, Carl Sauer, calls ''a major contribution to our understanding. . . . The old, simple belief that man waited at the threshold of the New World until the last ice sheet was gone has been proved wrong.''
And, finally, human witnesses were tracked down in southern deserts. During this past year archaeologists have brought back new evidence that the Sahara desert was green and fertile and thriving with civilization when glaciers froze life in America and Europe. Ewing and Donn had deduced that an open Arctic Ocean would have caused rain in today's deserts. Now, from the caves of the Sahara, came ancient man's vivid drawings of the animals that he hunted on the once grassy desert.
BENEATH THE EARTH'S CHUST
O NE big question remained which the new theory did not seem to answer: What started off the first Ice Age cycle?
''We know that during the past million years, the world has swung back and forth between ice ages and weather like today's,'' Ewing and Donn told me. ''Before then, the whole earth was much warmer. There were no zones of extreme heat or cold; palms and magnolias grew in Greenland, and coral around Iceland; subtropical plants thrived within eleven degrees of the North Pole. Why didn't the Arctic Ocean-glacier 'thermostat' work then? What suddenly turned it on one million years ago?
''The answer, we believe, is chat until a million years ago, the North Pole was not in that landlocked Arctic Ocean at all, but in the middle of the open Pacific, where there was no land on which snow and ice could accumulate, and ocean currents dissipated the cold.
''The idea of wandering poles may seem fantastic. But recently-discovered magnetic evidence leads to the geological inference that the whole earth can shift its surface crust with respect to the interior. As the earth's crustal zone 'slides' over the interior, different points on the surface can be at the North or South Pole.
''Such a shift in the earth's crust, it is now believed, did take place before the first Pleistocene fee Age which began a million years ago. Before then, the magnetic record shows the North Pole in the middle of the Pacific, and the South Pole in the open southern Atlantic.
''An abrupt shift in the earth's crust carried the North Pole into the small and virtually landlocked Arctic, and the South Pole to the Antarctic continent, where the polar cold could not be dissipated by free ocean currents. That started the greatly contrasting zones of climate we know today '-- and the concentration of cold which finally froze the Arctic Ocean, to start the Ice Age cycles.''
This would explain why the Ice Age glaciers have always marched from the Arctic. No ocean thermostat exists to turn on drastic glacial-interglacial cycles in the Antarctic. There, according to the theory, the Antarctic ice cap has been building up continually since the South Pole shifted to that continent a million years ago, with only minor changes caused by the slight warming and cooling of the Atlantic in the glacial-interglacial cycles. This is confirmed by evidence from elevated beaches, which seems to indicate that maximum sea level has been dropping successively lower in each glacial era.
And as long as the poles stay where they are, the Ice Age cycles must continue.
WHEN WILL IT COME AGAIN?
E WING and Donn realized that their theory had startling implications for the future. They have the scientist's distaste for the sensational and carefully worked out the wording of the theory's formal conclusion: ''The recent epoch can be considered as another interglacial stage.'' A number of scientists have tried to disprove their theory; so far they have been unsuccessful.
As Ewing and Donn read the glacial thermostat, the present interglacial stage is well advanced; the earth is now heading into another Ice Age. Certain signs, some of them visible to the layman as well as the scientist, indicate we may have been watching an Ice Age approach for some time without realizing what we were seeing.
Although scientists do not agree on its significance, they have observed an increasingly rapid warming and rising of the ocean in recent years. Warm water flowing north has driven the codfish off Cape Cod to Newfoundland; annual temperature has risen ten degrees in Iceland and Greenland; down here winters are warmer; the Hudson River no longer freezes over as it used to. It is part of the Ewing-Donn paradox that the next Ice Age will be preceded by such a warming of climate.
''We suspect that the ocean is already warm enough to melt the Arctic ice sheet,'' Ewing and Donn told me. ''For some time it has remained at the highest temperature ever reached in the four previous interglacial stages.'' As climate becomes warmer, more and more glacial melt-water pours into the sea. The Atlantic has already risen 300 feet since the glaciers of the last Ice Age started to melt away. Up until twenty-five years ago the U.S. Geodetic Surveys indicated that sea level was rising six inches a century; in the past twenty-five years that rate has increased to two feet a century.
As sea level rises, more and more warm water pours over the Norway-Greenland sill, under the Arctic ice sheet. American, Russian, and Scandinavian scientists have observed a definite warming of the Arctic Ocean over the past fifty years, and a consequent thinning of the ice sheet. At an international conference on Arctic sea ice in March 1958, scientists estimated that Arctic ice covers an area 12 per cent smaller than it did fifteen years ago, and is 40 per cent thinner. A layman might surmise that if this trend continues the Arctic Ocean will be open and the Ice Age begin in another twenty years. Ewing and Dunn are much more cautious about predictions.
''The rate at which our weather has been warming in recent years could be temporarily slowed down,'' they told me. ''We don't know the exact rate at which the sea is now rising. We need long-term world-wide evidence which the International Geophysical Year may give us to assess accurately the changes that seem to be taking place in the ocean and the ice.''
If the ocean continues to warm up at the present rate, Ewing and Donn think it is conceivable that there will be open water in the Arctic within about a hundred years. If they are right, tor the first time in the history of the world, the victims of an Ice Age are going to see it coming. Television cameramen will be raging all over the far north, covering the break-up of the Arctic ice sheet, looking for the first dirty summer slush. For the Ice Age will dawn, not in crashing glacial terror but in slush; as Ewing and Donn describe it, on a summer vacation up north, you will simply see a lot of dirty slush, winter's snow that for the first time in thousands of years didn't quite melt.
In many parts of America, at that time, the worry may not be ice, but water. Many scientists have speculated on the ocean flood that will be caused if the melting of glacial icecaps continues. Antarctic scientist Laurence Gould recently warned that ''the return of only a few feet of thickness of ice as melt-water to the oceans would have serious effects in many places; and if all the ice were melted into the sea, its level would rise from 150 to 200 feet. All the world's seaports and some of its most densely populated areas would be submerged.''
Ewing and Donn don't know how much higher the sea is going to rise before it melts the Arctic ice sheet. They say the ocean has already risen to the point where, if certain recent storms had occurred at high tide, it would have flooded New York and Boston subways. Donn is now working at Lamont on studies of long and short period changes in world sea level.
The ocean flood that brings about the Ice Age will not resemble the flash floods that have caused havoc in the cast in recent years. It will build up slowly, and it will not flow away. The cities, industries, and military bases that are concentrated on both sides of the Atlantic may have to be evacuated. (Fortunately, Pacific coastlines are higher.)
It will probably be possible to protect New York and Washington by levees. Parts or all of New Orleans, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and other cities are now protected by levees from high water, Ewing and Donn point out. Evidently, New York is in no danger of becoming a lost Atlantis, drowned under the sea. If low-lying Brooklyn, Miami, Washington, New Orleans, or Amsterdam should become ghost cities, it will be because a decision will have been made long in advance of this slow-creeping flood to evacuate rather than build levees.
''According to our theory, with the melting of the Arctic ice sheet, the rise in sea level will stop,'' Ewing and Donn explained. Instead of adding water to the sea, the glaciers will begin taking it out.
For a long time after the ocean flood subsides, the only effect the Ice Age will have on us down here will be more rain. The new Arctic moisture that falls as snow on the glaciers will increase both rain and snow here, swelling rivers and watering deserts. Then, gradually, our weather will cool. Icy winds will blow from the advancing glaciers; the great snows will fall farther and farther south. In several thousand years a two-mile ice sheet may cover the United States and Europe. If man finds no way to switch the glacial thermostat, there may well be a real estate boom in the Sahara.
NOAA Is Upgrading Its Forecast Model For The First Time In Nearly 40 Years | Here & Now
A home is inundated by floodwaters caused by Hurricane Florence near the Crabtree Swamp on Sept. 26, 2018 in Conway, S.C. (Sean Rayford/Getty Images)Your local weather forecast is about to get more accurate.
For the first time in nearly 40 years, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is upgrading its weather prediction model called the Global Forecast System. It's the engine under the hood that drives the accuracy of your daily forecast.
The update will allow for better predictions of temperature and precipitation, as well as the path and intensity of hurricanes and other major weather events, says Neil Jacobs, acting administrator for NOAA.
Jacobs tells Here & Now's Peter O'Dowd that while the change won't bring a "massive improvement," it does pave the way for future upgrades.
"The upgrade that we're doing now is to the dynamic core, which is the grid on how the model calculates its equations," he says. "That upgrade has to be in place before we actually upgrade that data assimilation system, and the data assimilation upgrade is when you will see significant improvements."
NOAA scientists tested the Finite-Volume Cubed-Sphere '-- the upgraded dynamic core '-- against archived historical predictions made by the old model. The new system performed just as good or better than the existing model, Jacobs says.
Congress approved funding to upgrade the forecast model after Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Jacobs says the process took so long because each tweak to the system needs to be tested along the way.
"The entire modeling system is over 5 million lines of code, so it's a monumental effort with a bunch of scientists and software engineers to make any changes, and a lot of these changes are done incrementally," he says. "So it takes a lot of time, and then any time you implement a change in the software, you want to make sure if you improve one thing that that doesn't subsequently break something else."
The U.S. has faced pressure to keep up with Europe, which has historically had a better model for tracking major weather events '-- and Jacobs admits the European modeling system is "very sophisticated."
"They assimilate data in a slightly more sophisticated way, which gives them an edge," he says. "And while we have an extremely collaborative relationship with them as far as, you know, sharing information and scientists and code, it's sort of a friendly competition."
Ciku Theuri produced and edited this interview for broadcast with Kathleen McKenna.
This segment aired on June 14, 2019.
Target's tech trouble clogs stores with long checkout lines
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) '-- A glitch stalled checkout lines at Target stores worldwide Saturday, exasperating shoppers and potentially eating into sales at a prime time for retailers, the day before Father's Day.
The roughly two-hour outage periodically prevented Target's cashiers from scanning merchandise or processing transactions as long lines formed in some stores. Self-checkout registers, usually the speediest of options, also weren't working at times.
Target temporarily closed some of its stores, including one in San Francisco, rather than risk aggravating shoppers.
''Our technology team worked quickly to identify and fix the issue, and we apologize for the inconvenience and frustration this caused for our guests,'' Target said in a Saturday statement.
Before the company figured out was wrong, a Target employee was warning customers that they might not be able to check out as they entered a San Francisco store early Saturday afternoon. Sales were being completed after intermittent delays during the half hour an AP reporter observed the lines at the store.
But some shoppers posting on their Twitter accounts Saturday painted a different picture as they vented about excruciatingly long lines but expressed sympathy for the Target employees trying to cope with the situation.
The meltdown hit Target at the worst time for a mass-market merchant, given Saturdays are typically one of the busiest shopping days of the week.
Target has been vexed by technology before, most notably in 2013 when malware installed in its checkout system resulted in a data heist that exposed personal information in more than 40 million credit and debit card accounts. That debacle triggered lawsuits and eventually led to the departure of its CEO, Gregg Steinhafel.
The Minneapolis company said customers caught in up the checkout slowdown have no reason to worry.
''After an initial but thorough review, we can confirm that this was not a data breach or security-related issue, and no guest information was compromised at any time,'' Target said.
Google: We're not killing ad blockers. Translation: We made them too powerful, we'll cram this genie back in its bottle ' The Register
Analysis Google on Wednesday defended its pending work-in-progress updates to Chrome that will change the way extensions filter out web adverts and other content.
The US tech titan insisted that its still-hazy browser extension API revision, known as Manifest v3, won't kill ad blockers, and that it will make them safer... albeit without offering any evidence that ad-blocking extensions specifically represent a threat.
Instead, Google's extension team makes a more general claim that one aspect of a powerful API in particular, the content filtering capability of webRequest, poses potential security and privacy problems. This interface is used by blockers to inspect requests for page content so they can kill off any unwanted stuff in real-time.
However, it is proposed that this API will in future be off-limits to extensions for the likes of you and me, to prevent plugins from turning against their users to spy on them or tamper with page data.
Yet Google will allow this capability to stand for enterprise-managed extensions "because of the deep integrations that enterprises may have between their software suites and Chrome."
Google fails to explain why enterprise administrators using Chrome can be trusted to make their own security decisions but ordinary folks using Chrome cannot.
In not one but two blog posts, Devlin Cronin, of the Chrome Extensions team, and Simeon Vincent, developer advocate for Chrome Extensions, pushed back against press reports '' which El Reg may have had something to do with '' that Manifest v3 as initially proposed would significantly hamper content-blocking extensions among others.
"There's been a lot of confusion and misconception around both the motivations and implications of this change, including speculation that these changes were designed to prevent or weaken ad blockers," wrote Vincent. "This is absolutely not the goal. In fact, this change is meant to give developers a way to create safer and more performant ad blockers."
Google relents slightly in ad-blocker crackdown '' for paid-up enterprise Chrome users, everyone else not so much READ MORE The safety argument has some merit, more at least than the performance claim, which was disputed in a February study and dismissed by Raymond Hill, developer of uBlock Origin, in January: "Issues of performance and privacy lie with web sites, not uBO '' so I don't feel concerned with the issues of privacy and efficiency being put forth as advantages of using declarativeNetRequest over webRequest." (declarativeNetRequest is the intended replacement for webRequest.)
The primary source of friction has been proposed changes to the webRequest API, changes that will steer extensions onto the more limited and safer declarativeNetRequest and away from webRequest. Certainly, the power of webRequest can be abused, and Vincent claims it has been. "Since January 2018," he said, "42 per cent of malicious extensions use the Web Request API."
Since Google's stated goal is to make ad blockers safer, The Register asked Google whether any ad blockers have actually abused webRequest. We've not heard back.
It wouldn't be surprising if some did '' many extensions that claim to be ad blockers earn revenue from ad whitelisting, and it's difficult to distinguish trustworthy browser add-ons from parasitic ones. But the fact is any extension right now can use webRequest, with the user's permission, and abuse that user's trust.
And that's why it's fair to say extensions in general could be made safer. To its credit, Google is making investments to help with that. As Cronin tells it, "we've increased the size of the engineering teams that work on extension abuse by over 300 per cent and the number of reviewers by over 400 per cent."
The result has been an 89 per cent reduction in the rate of malicious extension installations since 2018.
The Chrome Web Store currently blocks about 1,800 malicious extension uploads a month. However, Cronin says the review process can't catch all the abuse, so platform changes and limitations, in the form of Manifest v3, are necessary.
Many Chrome Extension developers welcome tighter security, but they're not thrilled with the way Google has decided to address it.
A s I write these words, a jury in Ohio is about to decide whether an $11 million verdict against Oberlin College, for libel and tortious practices against a local family-run bakery, should be tripled for punitive damages. If it could be tripled and tripled again, it would still be only just.
Many readers will have heard the details of the events, which in quick summary are these: On the day after the election in 2016, an Oberlin College student tried to abscond from Gibson's Bakery with two bottles of wine. One of the workers at the bakery confronted him, and a scuffle ensued both inside and outside the store, with the worker as the victim on the ground, pummeled by the perpetrator and a male friend of his, and kicked by two women, as some members of the fair sex are wont to do when their persons are not at risk.
Oberlin College then moved into action to squash the business like a bug. The dean of students passed around a flyer charging Gibson's with a long history of ''racial profiling.'' She led a massive protest against the bakery, a protest that was cast entirely in the light of the recent election. The school ordered its food supplier to cancel all contracts with them. Gibson's, which has been a fixture in town for more than 130 years, lost business which they never recovered. Finally, the owners decided to sue the college, when Oberlin refused to retract the charge of racism, and when the school demanded as a kind of blackmail that Gibson's report all shoplifters first to the school and not to the police. The school would then give the perpetrator a warning, but no suspension. Naughty, naughty!
Have I mentioned that African-Americans who live in town, including one long-time employee, have treated as absurd and offensive any charge of racism against the Gibson family or the business? Should I have had to mention it?
Normal people, hearing that a kid tried to steal wine from a local store, want to punish the thief. Normal people, hearing that another business owner in town loses about $10,000 a year to theft, much of it by spoiled college students, say, ''That is dreadful. We must do something about it.'' Normal people, learning that a couple of young ladies went about kicking somebody who was lying flat on the ground, would want to see them suspended from school at the very least.
A normal person, employed as dean of students, hearing about the incident, would go down to the bakery to speak to the people involved, to offer an apology, to pay for damages, and to promise to remit the medical bills. A normal person does not believe that anyone has permission to steal on the day after an election doesn't go in their favor. A normal person would not move the immense institutional might of an American college against the shop around the corner, for an ''offense'' that he or she could not be bothered to specify, when the real and obvious offense, perpetrated by a student, lay in plain and shameful sight.
I suppose that in their private lives, even deans of students, indifferently virtuous as in the main they may be, mostly refrain from kicking people lying on the ground, or from stealing from anybody other than from governments local, state, and national. I suppose they would object to having their father, grandfather, and great-grandfather accused of heresy and being made, on threat of death, to perform an auto-da-f(C). They may not be well-read, intelligent, or brave, but they would at least be normal. We must ask then what is so toxic about education, ''higher'' and otherwise, that makes so many once unexceptional people into monsters. For the Oberlin incident is notable only because the Gibson family had the means and the will to fight back.
People will suppose that administrators at such schools merely spoil the students, capitulating to the demands of the loudest among them. They accuse them of cowardice. Far be it from me to attribute courage to college administrators or to professors, but the diagnosis is nevertheless mistaken.
Picture the ineducable young person, face contorted with righteous indignation, raising her (it is often her) or his skinny little skill-less wrist against ''the patriarchy'' or ''white privilege'' or whatever is the devil of the day. That young person finds Charles Dickens rather slow going to read, because the language is tough, and likely has not even heard of John Milton or William Blake'--well, many a college professor has not heard of Blake. That young person's knowledge of history could be scrawled in crayon on a sheet of paper and would be mostly wrong at that.
But he (or she) is a true believer, and every appeal to evidence, reason, and common decency strike like raindrops against a massive block of stone. It is the object of our schools to produce people exactly like that. It is what the administrators themselves are, with many dollars. It is what most of the professors are, with not so many dollars. It is what many of the adjunct faculty are, with French fries or onion rings.
I am a Christian, a Roman Catholic. Every evening when I say the prayers for compline, I am of force reminded of my sins: quia peccavi nimis cogitatione, verbo, et opere, mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. (I have sinned greatly in thought, word, act, and omission, through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault.) How convenient must it be to replace a real faith, which compels you to consider how far you fall short of the glory of God, with its political impostor! All you need are the correct opinions, and an eagerness to thrust them upon your fellow men, and you are absolved of all responsibility to behave with ordinary decency.
You do not examine your conscience; a political mob has no conscience to examine, anyway. You enjoy, with all the delight of weaklings gathering in a herd, the discomfiture of others stronger or wiser than you are, or simply different from you. You distort their thoughts, which you cannot know, so you project upon them what are really your own thoughts, in black. You distort their words, upon which you place the worst conceivable construction, even at violence to their plain meaning. And finally you distort their actions, which you magnify and smear by associating them, adventitiously, with evil things that other people have done.
What have I just described, if not exactly what young people are taught to do already to Shakespeare in their English classes, to Washington in their history classes, to Beethoven in their music classes, and to every man in their women's studies classes? Such is education now'--the peddling of the politically cracked, at tremendous expense.
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Transgender Children: Toxic Moms and Munchausen's Syndrome by Proxy : The Other McCain
Munchausen's syndrome by proxy is a pattern in which a parent ''fabricates, exaggerates, or induces mental or physical health problems'' in their child ''usually to gain attention or sympathy from others.''
Now, read this report from Julian Vigo at Feminist Current:
[On Oct. 21], The Guardian reported that ''a seven-year-old boy who was ''living life entirely as a girl'' has been removed from his mother's care after a ruling by a high court judge. At first read, it was unclear who the actors in this case were aside from, obviously, the mother (M), the father (F), and child (J). The judgment of this case, which includes a critique of the section 37 report prepared by Social Services, which Justice Hayden describes as ''very disturbing reading,'' though, begins to clarify things.Justice Hayden writes that J's mother caused ''significant emotional harm'' to her child and critiques the local authority social services staff responsible for the youngster's welfare.He goes on to detail the acts of a controlling mother towards her child, M's personal diagnosis of J's alleged gender dysphoria, and a system which failed this child. Together, these various failures demonstrate a pattern of abuse and a mother who, Hayden writes, ''deprived [her son] of his fundamental right to exercise his autonomy in its most basic way.''What the judgment shows is that reports made by the Local Authority's Housing Department, J's school, the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), and Social Services gave M's behaviour towards her child (including her approach to J's ''gender presentation'') a pass simply because she was receiving support from Mermaids, a UK-based charity that claims to support parents of children who identify as transgender. Observations like these show major conflicts of interest between Mermaids and the government agencies named in the judgement.Susie Green, the CEO of Mermaids, began her trajectory into the transgender debate through personal investment. She took matters into her own hands regarding her son's gender dysphoria, leaving the country for the USA, then Thailand, when the National Health Service (NHS) would not undertake the treatment she thought her child needed. Mermaids is entirely comprised of parents like Green, who have either a child who self-identifies as having gender dysphoria or have started seeking professional help for their child. . . .
You can read the whole thing. The transgender movement has gotten a lot of free publicity from the liberal news media which considers it a ''progressive'' cause, when in fact it is a dangerous cult. Toxic moms like Suzie Green have decided that having a Special Snowflake Rainbow Unicorn Child' is a way ''to gain attention or sympathy from others.'' All it takes is to grab hold of some therapeutic jargon (''gender dysphoria'') and claim your kid is a victim of prejudice and '-- abracadabra! '-- you've changed your situation from (a) being the parent of a pathetic loser to (b) being the leader of a progressive social movement.
Here's a book: You're Not Crazy '-- It's Your Mother! Just sayin' . . .
When lobby groups like Mermaids dictate policy and discourse around gender identity, kids lose
Last week, The Guardian reported that ''a seven-year-old boy who was ''living life entirely as a girl'' has been removed from his mother's care after a ruling by a high court judge. At first read, it was unclear who the actors in this case were aside from, obviously, the mother (M), the father (F), and child (J). The judgment of this case, which includes a critique of the section 37 report prepared by Social Services, which Justice Hayden describes as ''very disturbing reading,'' though, begins to clarify things.
Justice Hayden writes that J's mother caused ''significant emotional harm'' to her child and critiques the local authority social services staff responsible for the youngster's welfare.
He goes on to detail the acts of a controlling mother towards her child, M's personal diagnosis of J's alleged gender dysphoria, and a system which failed this child. Together, these various failures demonstrate a pattern of abuse and a mother who, Hayden writes, ''deprived [her son] of his fundamental right to exercise his autonomy in its most basic way.''
What the judgment shows is that reports made by the Local Authority's Housing Department, J's school, the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), and Social Services gave M's behaviour towards her child (including her approach to J's ''gender presentation'') a pass simply because she was receiving support from Mermaids, a UK-based charity that claims to support parents of children who identify as transgender. Observations like these show major conflicts of interest between Mermaids and the government agencies named in the judgement.
Susie Green, the CEO of Mermaids, began her trajectory into the transgender debate through personal investment. She took matters into her own hands regarding her son's gender dysphoria, leaving the country for the USA, then Thailand, when the National Health Service (NHS) would not undertake the treatment she thought her child needed. Mermaids is entirely comprised of parents like Green, who have either a child who self-identifies as having gender dysphoria or have started seeking professional help for their child. Despite the fact that Mermaids is not a professional organization, it has managed to push its way into government policies such as the House of Commons Select Committee ''Transgender Equality'' report (within which Mermaids is referenced twenty times) and has successfully convinced local school systems and councils that its form of ''support'' is tantamount to professional ethos.
In short, we have governmental policies being decided via a support group that functions as a political lobby '-- a political lobby which justifies its authority because of government championing. (The NHS, for example, cites Mermaids as ''a charity that helps children with gender identity issues and their families.'') More surreal is the fact that some of the Mermaids members regularly give lectures to nursing students and NHS staff. The fact that medical and legal documents are produced by basically taking the word of desperate, if not confused, parents equates to both a shocking oversight and the tail wagging the dog.
Make no mistake, Mermaids is not a body of psychologists or trained healthcare professionals '-- it is merely a group of parents who have a child they believe to be transgender. Unlike other professional organizations, Mermaids is just a support group and therefore not accountable to medical and psychological bodies or government institutions. Under the leadership of Green, Mermaids harbours vested interests in dictating political discourse around transgender identity.
Two days before a public seminar organized by Mermaids called ''New perspectives on healthcare provision for transgender youth,'' a number of people who had registered to attend received an email from Green stating that ''due to oversubscription'' their tickets had been cancelled. The recipients of this email were uniquely women '-- largely self-identified feminists. Oddly, the tickets of those who registered after these women were not cancelled. Notably, the women who received this cancellation email had signed their names to a letter in support of the Morning Star after the newspaper published two gender critical articles and was subjected to backlash and threats of violence earlier this year. Not surprising, the first talk at this seminar was by none other than Dr Norman P. Spack, Paediatric Endocrinologist, Boston Children's Hospital '-- the same doctor who attended to Green's child.
In short, the government is taking its cues from a lobby group that apparently keep lists of gender critical women, striking them from participating in an ostensibly public forum.
On their website, Mermaids defines gender dysphoria as ''a mismatch between the gender assigned to a person at birth and the gender that they actually identify with.'' Expanding on that definition, they explain:
''Sometimes in younger children, this may surface with boys playing with dolls and other traditionally female toys, or girls who refuse to wear dresses or hate having long hair. Some young people may identify as non-binary, meaning that they feel as though they are neither truly male or female, they may feel like they can be both at once, either one or the other on different days, or just a mix of the two. Once puberty hits a lot of trans* teens begin to get very depressed, withdrawn and may even self-harm or have suicidal feelings.''
Unfortunately, this definition is entirely inaccurate (gender dysphoria has nothing to do with ''boys playing with dolls and other traditionally female toys'' or ''girls who refuse to wear dresses'') and imposes gender normativity on children and parents, reinforcing the idea that girls and boys should dress and behave a certain way. This definition also plays on parents' fears around what their child might be suffering, browbeating them into accepting the easiest answer without any further investigation. The reality is that, once puberty hits, most teens get depressed or withdrawn for varying lengths of time. In fact, these rates have soared in recent years among adolescents. Most notably, the mental health of teenage girls in the UK is at an all-time record low and the rates of girls engaging in self harm are on the rise.
Considering that Mermaids appears not able to define gender dysphoria in an accurate way, it is shocking that UK government agencies are relying on the charity to craft its future policies on the transgender identity of children.
Is it any wonder that Mermaids was ''supporting'' M in her delusion that her son was ''really'' a girl for over three years, considering that the government has done absolutely nothing to rein in rogue organizations that present themselves as professionally sound? Even now, Mermaids stands in fierce opposition to this judgment and has recently launched a petition in protest of the judgment against M. Green writes:
''During the three years that Mermaids have supported this family there has been no evidence AT ALL to support this judge's views. Mum has listened to her child and supported her unconditionally. There have been two independent gender specialists who have reviewed the family and agreed that Mum is not responsible for her child's gender expression.''
Justice Hayden notes that M's description of her son's issues sounded coached, explaining that ''She offered an impressive, intense and highly articulate evaluation of the problems faced by children with gender dysphoria but she conveyed no sense of J's personality, temperament or enthusiasms, notwithstanding frequently being encouraged to do so.'' He added that M struck him ''as a professional witness giving evidence about somebody else's child.''
Rather than support a child, the agencies and organizations involved appear to have simply supported a mother's claims, without investigating further. In fact, Justice Hayden ruled that ''There was no independent or supportive evidence that J identified as a girl at all, indeed there was a body of material that suggested the contrary.'' Notably, he added that he believes Social Services ''failed properly to investigate M's assertions, in part I suspect, because they did not wish to appear to be challenging an emerging orthodoxy in such a high profile issue.''
This is the sort of solipsism from which Mermaids operates. The organization cherry-picks ''specialists'' who corroborate their view of gender, denigrates judgments that are backed up by myriad others whose observations support the judge's views, thereby ignoring the actual specialists involved in this case.
This particular family and case is not an isolated one. The media is having a field day with these children and there have been numerous incidents of parents parading their children on a sound stage only to project their ideas of gender onto them. The infamous case of Jazz Jennings whose mother ''was convinced she was going to have a girl'' is a good example of that narrative. More recently, a Radio 4 interview featured Leo, a ''non-binary'' child who takes cues from a mother who queries her child about which gender they are on a daily basis. This mother admits she has taken cues from the ''transgender community,'' which has led her down a path to non-binary pronouns, a litany of vocabulary words and concepts which she clearly does not fully understand, and a very naive understanding of the implications of what the long-term medical implications of Leo's ''identity'' could be, given that she compares Leo's non-binary status to her son's vegetarianism.
Unless government agencies stop taking cues and training from parental support and lobby groups that are obviously not objective, the number of legal battles involving parents who do not see transitioning a child as the only option to gender dysphoria will continue to grow. Tangentially, one must also ask why only the pro-transition side to this debate is being heard by the government when we know that desistance rates for these children are at least 80 per cent.
Where Mermaids seeks to change reality through fiat and to close down debate such as the recently cancelled NSPCC debate on transgender children, we must push to open the doors of censorship to clear avenues towards dialogue and reason in the hopes that children who are suffering from issues of body dysphoria are treated with the best medical and psychological care that can be afforded to them. Equally imperative, we must undertake an ethical debate as to why there is a stigma being placed on practitioners who see viable alternatives for dealing with gender dysphoria or gender non-binarism where permanent medical intervention is not generally necessary or recommended.
Julian Vigo is a scholar, film-maker, and human rights consultant. Her latest book is Earthquake in Haiti: The Pornography of Poverty and the Politics of Development (2015). She can be reached at: [email protected]
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Jazz Jennings: When I First Knew I Was Transgender | Time.com
I get asked a lot of questions about my life, and that's the one that comes up the most. The answer is easy. Ever since I could form coherent thoughts, I knew I was a girl trapped inside a boy's body. There was never any confusion in my mind. The confusing part was why no one else could see what was wrong.
When my mom, Jeanette, got pregnant with me, she was convinced she was going to have a girl. At her baby shower, her friends all crowded around her belly and did the necklace test'--that old-timey trick that's supposed to predict what kind of baby a woman is going to have. You hold a necklace with something heavy attached to it, like a pendant or a ring, over a pregnant belly, and if it swings back and forth it means she's having a boy. If it moves in a circle, a girl is supposedly on the way.
This witchy little version of a gender-test ultrasound nailed it with every single one of my mom's pregnancies. It just took a little longer for everyone to realize the fetus fairies actually got it right with me. As I began to grow, my family thought my obsessive interest in girly things was just a normal developmental phase. I have really strong memories of the emotions I felt before I could speak, as well as my actions'--I figured out how to undo the snaps on my onesie to turn it into a dress shortly after I began to walk.
RelatedLike any kid, I took a lot of baths with my brothers and sister, and I'd compare my genitals to theirs. My little penis felt so wrong on me. I wished I could take the sponge and wipe it off, and behind it I'd magically find a ''gagina'' like what my sister and my mom had. It definitely bothered me, but I remember feeling frustrated and confused more than anything else. It was a strange growth hanging off me that didn't look at all like it belonged there.
When I finally did start to talk, I'd say ''dwess like Awee'' to my mom every time she put clothes on me. She misunderstood, thinking I was trying to show off my independence and letting her know that I could dress myself just like my older sister did.
I get why she would have assumed that at first. I was an extremely self-reliant toddler. Here's a good example of just how in control I liked to be: At night, I slept with a pair of blankets, each covered with the same Noah's Ark print. I liked to keep my temperature perfectly regulated while I slept, so I'd cover up with one blanket and keep the other by my side. I'd wake up as soon as I got too warm and immediately switch the covers, pulling the cooler one over me, the way most people flip their pillow on a hot summer night. I'd continue switching the blankets all night long. I wasn't going to settle for anything less than what made me the most comfortable. And during the day, what made me comfortable was wearing a dress.
Around the house, I was pretty much allowed to wear whatever I wanted. I'd steal my sister Ari's oversize pink or purple T-shirts and wobble around the kitchen in dress-up heels covered in feathers. (In fact, I first started wearing those heels back when I was still in diapers.) My parents were cool about it but drew the line at going out in public dressed in girls' stuff. Mom would put me in shorts styled for boys, and I'd scream and cry as she dragged me to the car. I didn't just like girly clothing'--I felt ashamed and humiliated if I had to wear anything else.
Sometimes it helps people understand the feeling better if I put it like this: Imagine a young boy who is super into trucks and cars and playing in the mud. Then imagine that every time his parents take him out in public, they parade him around in a pink frilly dress with a parasol. The humiliation he'd feel is exactly the same humiliation I felt having to wear plain shorts and a T-shirt. I couldn't understand why my parents, who were as loving and caring as anyone could hope for, would force me to go through that kind of torture.
The more words I learned, the more I started to verbalize my feelings. Whenever my mom or dad would compliment me by saying something like ''Good boy,'' I'd immediately correct them.
''No. Good girl.''
When I was around 2 years old, I had what I now refer to as the Good Fairy dream. After a long morning of playing with Ari's dolls, dressing them up and staring enviously at the smooth area between their legs, I took a nap in my sister's bed. I had no idea that I was asleep'--the world seemed crystal clear as a grown woman wearing a blue gown floated into the room. She wasn't quite like the imaginary creatures you see in cartoons, but I knew instinctively that she was a fairy, thanks to her gossamer wings, the glowing light all around her, and the magic wand that suddenly appeared in her hand. Other than those fantasy details, she looked and acted like an adult, full of purpose and authority.
I don't remember her exact words, or even if she spoke out loud at all, but I knew why she was there. She promised to use her wand to turn my penis into a vagina.
I was ecstatic when I woke up. I felt like all the answers to my prayers were possible. The dream had felt so true, so real, that I knew it was just a matter of time before the fairy would appear again and do what she'd said she could do.
I ran downstairs and found my mother sitting in our living room.
''When is the Good Fairy going to come with her magic wand?'' I asked.
Related''The Good Fairy, who will turn my penis into a vagina!'' My mom tells me now that this was a huge turning point for her, the first time she truly began to realize that what I was going through probably wasn't a phase. I remember being crushed when she said no fairy was going to come for me. I had been filled with so much hope when I'd woken up, and it was destroyed within a matter of minutes.
In response, I started to assert myself even more. My mom's parents, Grandma Jacky and Grandpa Jack, were visiting us from New York not long after I had the Good Fairy dream. I marched down the stairs wearing a flouncy pink dress with a pink feather boa wrapped around my neck, along with my dress-up heels and loads of costume jewelry weighing down my wrists and fingers.
''My oh my,'' Grandpa Jack said.
Grandma Jacky tells me that I got to the bottom stair, sat down, crossed my legs like a proper little lady, and just stared at them. She says she knew it was a declaration, and that I was definitely looking for some sort of reaction as I searched their eyes for approval. For her, the realization that something was different about me came less from what I was wearing and more from the way I was sitting and my body language.
During Grandma Jacky's visits, I'd do things like put on a blond wig and a bra over my clothes while brushing my mom's hair. One day when Grandma Jacky took me shopping and she told me I could pick out a toy, I headed straight to the Barbie aisle. In my child's mind I remember it as a wall of pink that seemed to go right to the top of the ceiling and stretch the length of the store in either direction. I was allowed to pick a doll instead of the G.I. Joe figure Grandma Jacky knew I wouldn't want anyway.
That didn't stop her from trying to get me to play with boy toys. I had no idea that she'd call Ari and ask her to get me interested in toy trucks, to which Ari would reply, ''Oh, Grandma,'' with an eye roll practically visible through the phone. My siblings simply didn't care. They didn't get why anyone thought what I liked was a big deal.
Grandma Jacky wasn't going behind my back to be malicious. She was worried about how the world might treat me. She was also worried about my mom, who was growing more and more concerned about my behavior.
It wasn't like Mom had never heard of someone being transgender. She had a general understanding of what it meant, as did Grandma Jacky. It had just never occurred to them that a kid could know with so much certainty at such a young age. Mom took all this information to my pediatrician, who, after giving her a pretty concerned look, recommended that we visit a child psychologist.
I was 3 when we went in for the appointment, and I liked Dr. Marilyn right away. She had a very calm and soothing voice like Grandma Jacky's that made me feel safe.
Dr. Marilyn pulled out two stuffed dolls that looked like fake Cabbage Patch Kids you'd find on the counterfeit toy market, with an important difference'--they were anatomically correct. She asked what I had between my legs, and I pointed to the penis. She then asked what I wanted, and I pointed to the vagina.
That was the first day I ever heard the word ''transgender.'' I remember feeling this overwhelming sense of relief that there was finally a word that described me'--a girl who had accidentally been born into a boy's body.
This article was adapted from Being Jazz: My Life as a (Transgender) Teen. Text copyright 2016 by Jazz Jennings. All rights reserved.
Text of S. 1247: Duty To Report Act (Introduced version) - GovTrack.us
1. (a)This Act may be cited as the Duty To Report Act .
(b)Congress makes the following findings:
(1)Political contributions and express-advocacy expenditures are an integral aspect of the process by which Americans elect officials to Federal, State, and local government offices.
(2)It is fundamental to the definition of a national political community that foreign citizens do not have a constitutional right to participate in, and thus may be excluded from, activities of democratic self-governance.
(3)The United States has a compelling interest in limiting the participation of foreign citizens in activities of democratic self-government, and in thereby preventing foreign influence over the United States political process.
(4)Foreign donations and expenditures have a corrupting influence on the campaign process and limiting the activities of foreign citizens in our elections is necessary to preserve the basic conception of a political community and democratic self-governance.
2. (a)Section 304 of the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 (52 U.S.C. 30104 ) is amended by adding at the end the following new subsection:
(j)If a political committee, an agent of the committee, or in the case of an authorized committee of a candidate for Federal office, a candidate, receives an offer (orally, in writing, or otherwise) of a prohibited contribution, donation, expenditure, or disbursement (as defined in section 3(c) of the Duty To Report Act ), the committee shall, within 24 hours of receiving the offer, report to the Commission'--
(1)to the extent known, the name, address, and nationality of the foreign national (as defined in section 319(b)) making the offer; and
(2)the amount and type of contribution, donation, expenditure, or disbursement offered.
(b)Section 304 of the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 (52 U.S.C. 30104 ), as amended by subsection (a), is amended by adding at the end the following new subsection:
(k) (1)Except as provided in paragraph (2), if a political committee, an agent of the committee, or in the case of an authorized committee of a candidate for Federal office, a candidate, meets with a foreign government or an agent of a foreign principal, as defined in section 1 of the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938 (22 U.S.C. 611 ), the committee shall, within 24 hours of meeting, report to the Commission'--
(A)to the extent known, the identity of each individual at the meeting and the foreign government involved; and
(B)the purpose of the meeting.
(2)Paragraph (1) shall not apply with respect to a meeting with a foreign government or an agent of a foreign principal by an elected official or as an employee of an elected official in their official capacity as such an official or employee.
(c)Not later than one year after the date of enactment of this Act, the Federal Election Commission shall promulgate regulations providing additional indicators beyond the pertinent facts described in section 110.20(a)(5) of title 11, Code of Federal Regulations (as in effect on the date of enactment of this Act) that may lead a reasonable person to conclude that there is a substantial probability that the source of the funds solicited, accepted, or received is a foreign national, as defined in section 319(b) of the Federal Election Act of 1971 (52 U.S.C. 30121(b) ), or to inquire whether the source of the funds solicited, accepted, or received is a foreign national, as so defined. Regulations promulgated under the proceeding sentence shall also provide guidance to political committees and campaigns to not engage in racial or ethnic profiling in making such a conclusion or inquiry.
3. (a)If a political committee or an applicable individual (as defined in subsection (c)) receives an offer (orally, in writing, or otherwise) of a prohibited contribution, donation, expenditure, or disbursement, the committee or applicable individual shall, within 24 hours of receiving the offer, report to the Federal Bureau of Investigation'--
(1)to the extent known, the name, address, and nationality of the foreign national making the offer; and
(2)the amount and type of contribution, donation, expenditure, or disbursement offered.
(b) (1)It shall be unlawful to knowingly and willfully fail to comply with subsection (a).
(2)Any person who violates paragraph (1) shall be fined under title 18, United States Code, imprisoned not more than 2 years, or both.
(c)In this section:
(1) (A)The term applicable individual means'--
(i)an agent of a political committee;
(iii)an individual who is an immediate family member of a candidate; or
(iv)any individual affiliated with a campaign of a candidate.
(B)For purposes of subparagraph (A)'--
(i)the term immediate family member means, with respect to a candidate, a parent, parent in law, spouse, adult child, or sibling; and
(ii)the term individual affiliated with a campaign means, with respect to a candidate, an employee of any organization legally authorized under Federal, State, or local law to support the candidate's campaign for nomination for, or election to, any Federal, State, or local public office, as well as any independent contractor of such an organization and any individual who performs services for the organization on an unpaid basis (including an intern or volunteer).
(2)The term foreign national has the meaning given that term in section 319(b) of the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971(52 U.S.C. 30121(b) ).
(3)The term knowingly has the meaning given that term in section 110.20(a)(4) of title 11, Code of Federal Regulations (or any successor regulations).
(4) (A)The term prohibited contribution, donation, expenditure, or disbursement means a contribution, donation, expenditure, or disbursement prohibited under section 319(a) of the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 (52 U.S.C. 30121(a) ).
(B)Such term includes, with respect to a candidate or election, any information'--
(i)regarding any of the other candidates for election for that office;
(ii)that is not in the public domain; and
(iii)which could be used to the advantage of the campaign of the candidate.
(5)Any term used in this section which is defined in section 301 of the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 (52 U.S.C. 30101 ) and which is not otherwise defined in this section shall have the meaning given such term under such section 301.
4.Information reported under subsection (j) or (k) of section 304 of the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 (52 U.S.C. 30104 ), as added by section 2, or under section 3(a), may not be used to enforce the provisions under chapter 4 of title II of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1221 et seq.) relating to the removal of undocumented aliens.
Opinion | Trump to America: Who's Going to Stop Me? - The New York Times
An unbound president invites more foreign election interference.
June 13, 2019 Image President Trump said in a new interview that he would gladly take incriminating information about a campaign opponent from countries like Russia. Credit Credit Eric Thayer for The New York Times In a new interview with ABC News's George Stephanopoulos, parts of which were released on Wednesday evening, Donald Trump announced his willingness to betray and subvert American democracy, again. Asked what he would do if he were offered foreign dirt on an opponent in 2020, he said he'd take it, and pooh-poohed the idea of calling federal law enforcement.
''Oh, let me call the F.B.I.,'' he said derisively. ''Give me a break, life doesn't work that way.''
That Trump has no loyalty to his country, its institutions and the integrity of its elections is not surprising. That he feels no need to fake it is alarming. With the end of Robert Mueller's special counsel investigation, House Democrats' craven fear of launching an impeachment inquiry, and the abject capitulation of Republicans to Trumpian authoritarianism, the president is reveling in his own impunity.
Maybe the insult of it can jolt the country out of its current stasis. Every so often, Trump says or does something so grotesque that it cuts through the despairing numbness engendered by his presidency, galvanizing the forces of decency anew. It happened after Trump defended white supremacists who marched in Charlottesville, after he compared nonwhite countries to excrement, and after he bowed and scraped before Vladimir Putin in Helsinki. This should be one of those moments.
That doesn't mean it will be. Much of the Resistance is exhausted by last year's push to retake the House and deflated by the anti-climactic aftermath of the Mueller report. For two and a half years, as Trump has treated his oath of office the way he's rumored to have treated a Moscow hotel bed, it's felt as if something has to give. But day by day, what's giving is the will to stop him.
[Listen to ''The Argument'' podcast every Thursday morning, with Ross Douthat, Michelle Goldberg and David Leonhardt.]
Just this week, the administration announced plans to move migrant children to an Oklahoma military base that formerly served as a Japanese internment camp. On Tuesday, responding to reports that the murdered half brother of North Korea's Kim Jong-un was a C.I.A. source, Trump sided with the totalitarian dictator. ''I would tell him that would not happen under my auspices,'' he said, meaning, as best as anyone could make out, that he wouldn't let American intelligence spy on his dear homicidal friend.
It's all shocking and outrageous, but few can summon shock or outrage anymore. Many of us are struggling to ward off learned helplessness, the depressed, withdrawn state created when terrible things keep happening and you feel powerless to stop them.
But Trump's opponents are not powerless. They helped halt at least the first iteration of Trump's Muslim ban when they rushed to airports in protest. They saved the Affordable Care Act when they flooded congressional town halls. They flipped the House despite the advantage Republicans secured for themselves through gerrymandering. And they could demand, now, that their representatives shore up our democracy against a president determined to defile it.
Trump's professed willingness to accept foreign intelligence on domestic political foes represents more than just another norm-eviscerating outburst. It's an action in and of itself. On July 27, 2016, Trump publicly asked Russia for help obtaining Hillary Clinton's emails: ''Russia, if you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,'' he said. Thanks to Mueller, we now know that Russian intelligence started trying to hack Clinton's server just hours later. Intelligence services in countries that benefit from the Trump presidency '-- including Russia, North Korea and Saudi Arabia '-- may take this latest invitation equally seriously.
So what can you do? Well, this weekend, there will be nationwide demonstrations to demand that Congress open an impeachment inquiry. But there should also be pressure on the Senate, where the majority leader, Mitch McConnell, has made himself Trump's partner in the dismantling of our system of government.
Democrats have introduced bills that would require political campaign officials to disclose foreign contacts. McConnell, of course, will almost certainly not bring them to a vote; he is single-handedly blocking all election-security proposals.
Any senator, however, could try to force McConnell's hand by exploiting the Senate's unanimous consent process, rote agreements that the body uses to waive time-consuming procedural steps. ''The Senate needs unanimous consent to run,'' Jeff Blattner, the former chief counsel to Senator Ted Kennedy, told me. If Democratic senators consistently refuse to grant it, nothing would get done. ''Think of it as throwing a log into the gears,'' said Blattner. ''Everything grinds to a halt.''
Such a measure should probably be used only in a crisis. But a president who actively solicits foreign help in shoring up his minority rule is a crisis, even if Trump has brutalized our civic culture to the point where it feels ordinary.
Two years ago the president basically admitted to obstruction of justice on television when he told an interviewer, Lester Holt of NBC, that he'd fired James Comey as F.B.I. director because of the Russia investigation. Now he's telling us, again on TV, that having gotten away with accepting foreign help in an election once, he's planning to do it again. I know everyone's tired. But democracy is not going to save itself.
More from Opinion on Trump and election interference:
Michelle Goldberg has been an Opinion columnist since 2017. She is the author of several books about politics, religion and women's rights, and was part of a team that won a Pulitzer Prize for public service in 2018 for reporting on workplace sexual harassment issues. @ michelleinbklyn
Trump campaign says it will handle foreign intel offers on 'case by case basis' | TheHill
The top spokesperson for President Trump Donald John TrumpNew York activists go on hunger strike to advocate for ending solitary confinement Sanders says he would inform FBI about offers of foreign intel Sanders says he would inform FBI about offers of foreign intel MORE 's 2020 reelection bid said the campaign would handle offers of information on opponents from foreign entities on a ''case by case basis.''
Kayleigh McEnany, the campaign's national press secretary, said on CBS News's ''Red & Blue" Thursday that the campaign will follow Trump's lead when it comes to handling potential offers.
"The president's directive, as he said, [it's] a case by case basis. He said he would likely do both: Listen to what they have to say, but also report it to the FBI," McEnany said.
McEnany's comments come after Trump said in an interview with ABC News on Wednesday that he would ''maybe'' call the FBI should a foreign operative offer him dirt on a political opponent.
"I think maybe you do both," Trump said when asked whether he would call the FBI or listen if Russia, China or another foreign government reached out.
"I think you might want to listen. There's nothing wrong with listening," he continued. "It's not an interference. They have information. I think I'd take it. If I thought there was something wrong, I'd go maybe to the FBI."
Trump's comments drew widespread backlash and later prompted Federal Election Commission Chairwoman Ellen Weintraub to issue a statement making clear that it is ''illegal for any person to solicit, accept, or receive anything of value from a foreign national in connection with a U.S. election.''
Democrats decried Trump's suggestion that if a foreign government offered information he would ''take it,'' while Republicans raced to distance themselves from the president's remarks.
McEnany stood by Trump's comments in the interview Thursday, repeatedly saying the campaign follows his directives.
Kellyanne Conway violated US law and should be fired, federal watchdog says | US news | The Guardian
A US federal watchdog is recommending that Donald Trump fire one of his most ardent and high-profile defenders, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, for repeatedly violating a law that limits political activity by government workers.
Conway should be removed from federal office, the US Office of Special Counsel (OSC) announced on Thursday.
The watchdog agency made its recommendation after concluding that Conway violated a US law, known as the Hatch Act, that bars government employees from engaging in political campaign activity.
In a report addressed to the president, the special counsel's office identified Conway, long a prominent Trump aide and constantly at his side since he took office while others around him were ousted, as a ''repeat offender'' of the Hatch Act who has ''shown disregard for the law''.
''Ms Conway's violations, if left unpunished, would send a message to all federal employees that they need not abide by the Hatch Act's restrictions,'' the report stated.
''Her actions thus erode the principal foundation of our democratic system: the rule of law.''
Last month, the government watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (Crew) filed a complaint with the special counsel's office after Conway attacked 2020 Democratic presidential candidates '' namely former vice-president Joe Biden '' in televised interviews while acting in her official government role.
Although the special counsel's office acts as a federal investigative and prosecutorial agency and typically has great sway, Conway's fate is in the hands of Trump, her ultimate boss, and he has often singled her out for praise.
Trump has also stood by Conway even as her husband, conservative lawyer George Conway, has disparaged him in a series of scathing opinion articles in national publications and on Twitter '' and even called for Trump's impeachment.
White House spokesman Steven Groves swiftly hit back at the report, stating: ''The Office of Special Counsel's unprecedented actions against Kellyanne Conway are deeply flawed and violate her constitutional rights to free speech and due process.''
''Others, of all political views, have objected to the OSC's unclear and unevenly applied rules, which have a chilling effect on free speech for all federal employees,'' he added.
''Its decisions seem to be influenced by media pressure and liberal organizations '' and perhaps OSC should be mindful of its own mandate to act in a fair, impartial, non-political manner, and not misinterpret or weaponize the Hatch Act.''
The special counsel's report bears no relation to the work of Robert Mueller, who was specifically appointed in a separate capacity pertaining to the Trump-Russia investigation relating to Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
The report stated that Conway had run afoul of the Hatch Act on several occasions. In addition to her recent comments about Biden, she sparked similar ethics concerns by advocating for and against candidates in the 2017 Alabama special election.
Conway was also forced to apologize after promoting Ivanka Trump's clothing line in a TV interview in the early days of the Trump administration.
The special counsel's office criticized Conway for not only continuing to disregard the Hatch Act but also downplaying its significance, stating in an interview last month: ''If you're trying to silence me through the Hatch Act, it's not going to work. Let me know when the jail sentence starts.''
Noah Bookbinder, the executive director at Crew, issued a statement on Thursday echoing calls for Conway be dismissed from her role.
''Conway's repeated violations and publicly expressed disdain for the law show a dangerous disregard for governmental ethics, the rule of law and the long-held understanding that government officials should not use their official positions to advance partisan politics,'' Bookbinder said.
RAY McGOVERN: DOJ Bloodhounds on the Scent of John Brennan '' Consortiumnews
With Justice Department investigators' noses to the ground, it should be just a matter of time before they identify Brennan as fabricator-in-chief of the Russiagate story, says Ray McGovern.
By Ray McGovernSpecial to Consortium News
T he New York Times Thursday morning has bad news for one of its favorite anonymous sources, former CIA Director John Brennan.
The Times reports that the Justice Department plans to interview senior CIA officers to focus on the allegation that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered Russian intelligence to intervene in the 2016 election to help Donald J. Trump. DOJ investigators will be looking for evidence to support that remarkable claim that Special Counsel Robert Mueller's final report failed to establish.
Despite the collusion conspiracy theory having been put to rest, many Americans, including members of Congress, right and left, continue to accept the evidence-impoverished, media-cum-''former-intelligence-officer'' meme that the Kremlin interfered massively in the 2016 presidential election.
One cannot escape the analogy with the fraudulent evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. As in 2002 and 2003, when the mania for the invasion of Iraq mounted, Establishment media have simply regurgitated what intelligence sources like Brennan told them about Russia-gate.
No one batted an eye when Brennan told a House committee in May 2017, ''I don't do evidence.''
The lead story in Thursday's New York Times.
Leak Not Hack
As we Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity have warned numerous times over the past two plus years, there is no reliable forensic evidence to support the story that Russia hacked into the DNC. Moreover, in a piece I wrote in May, ''Orwellian Cloud Hovers Over Russia-gate,'' I again noted that accumulating forensic evidence from metadata clearly points to an inside DNC job '-- a leak, not a hack, by Russia or anyone else.
So Brennan and his partners, FBI Director James Comey and National Intelligence Director James Clapper were making stuff up and feeding thin but explosive gruel to the hungry stenographers that pass today for Russiagate obsessed journalists.
Is the Jig Up?
With Justice Department investigators' noses to the ground, it should be just a matter of time before they identify Brennan conclusively as fabricator-in-chief of the Russiagate story. Evidence, real evidence in this case, abounds, since the Brennan-Comey-Clapper gang of three were sure Hillary Clinton would become president. Consequently, they did not perform due diligence to hide their tracks.
Worse still, intelligence analysts tend to hang onto instructions and terms of reference handed down to them by people like Brennan and his top lieutenants. It will not be difficult for CIA analysts to come up with documents to support the excuse: ''Brennan made me do it.''
Brennan: Is the jig up? ( LBJ Library photo/ Jay Godwin)
The Times article today betrays some sympathy and worry over what may be in store for Brennan, one of its favorite sons and (anonymous) sources, as well as for those he suborned into making up stuff about the Russians.
The DOJ inquiry, says the Times, ''has provoked anxiety in the ranks of the C.I.A., according to former officials. Senior agency officials have questioned why the C.I.A.'s analytical work should be subjected to a federal prosecutor's scrutiny.'' Attorney General William Barr is overseeing the review but has assigned the U.S. attorney in Connecticut, John Durham, to conduct it.
No Holds Barred
Barr is approaching this challenge with a resoluteness and a calm candor rarely seen in Washington '-- particularly when it comes to challenging those who run the intelligence agencies.
The big question, once again, is whether President Donald Trump will follow his customary practice of reining in subordinates at the last minute, lest they cross the vindictive and still powerful members of the Deep State.
Happily, at least for those interested in the truth, some of the authors of the rump, misnomered ''Intelligence Community Assessment'' commissioned by Obama, orchestrated by Brennan-Clapper-Comey, and published on January 6, 2017 will now be interviewed. The ICA is the document still widely cited as showing that the ''entire intelligence community agreed'' on the Russia-gate story, but this is far from the case. As Clapper has admitted, that ''assessment'' was drafted by ''handpicked analysts'' from just three of the 17 intelligence agencies '-- CIA, FBI, and NSA.
U.S. Attorney Durham would do well to also check with analysts in agencies '-- like the Defense Intelligence Agency and State Department Intelligence, as to why they believe they were excluded. The ICA on Russian interference is as inferior an example of intelligence analysis as I have ever seen. Since virtually all of the hoi aristoi and the media swear by it, I did an assessment of the Assessment on its second anniversary. I wrote:
''Under a media drumbeat of anti-Russian hysteria, credulous Americans were led to believe that Donald Trump owed his election victory to the president of Russia, whose ''influence campaign'' according to theTimesquoting the intelligence report,helped ''President-elect Trump's election chances when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton.''
Hard evidence supporting the media and political rhetoric has been as elusive as proof of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq in 2002-2003. This time, though, an alarming increase in the possibility of war with nuclear-armed Russia has ensued '-- whether by design, hubris, or rank stupidity. The possible consequences for the world are even more dire than 16 years of war and destruction in the Middle East. '...
The Defense Intelligence Agency should have been included, particularly since it has considerable expertise on the G.R.U., the Russian military intelligence agency, which has been blamed for Russian hacking of the DNC emails. But DIA, too, has an independent streak and, in fact, is capable of reaching judgments Clapper would reject as anathema. Just one year before Clapper decided to do the rump ''Intelligence Community Assessment,'' DIA had formally blessed the following heterodox idea in its ''December 2015 National Security Strategy'':
''The Kremlin is convinced the United States is laying the groundwork for regime change in Russia, a conviction further reinforced by the events in Ukraine. Moscow views the United States as the critical driver behind the crisis in Ukraine and believes that the overthrow of former Ukrainian President Yanukovych is the latest move in a long-established pattern of U.S.-orchestrated regime change efforts.''
Any further questions as to why the Defense Intelligence Agency was kept away from the ICA drafting table?
Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. During his 27 years as a CIA analyst, he was Chief of the Soviet Foreign Policy Branch, and preparer/briefer of the President's Daily Brief. He is co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).
DOJ Admits FBI Never Saw Crowdstrike Report on DNC Russian Hacking Claim'... | The Last Refuge
The foundation for the Russian election interference narrative is built on the claim of Russians hacking the servers of the Democrat National Committee (DNC), and subsequently releasing damaging emails that showed the DNC worked to help Hillary Clinton and eliminate Bernie Sanders.
Despite the Russian 'hacking' claim the DOJ previously admitted the DNC would not let FBI investigators review the DNC server. Instead the DNC provided the FBI with analysis of a technical review done through a cyber-security contract with Crowdstrike.
The narrative around the DNC hack claim was always sketchy; many people believe the DNC email data was downloaded onto a flash drive and leaked. In a court filing (full pdf below) the scale of sketchy has increased exponentially.
Suspecting they could prove the Russian hacking claim was false, lawyers representing Roger Stone requested the full Crowdstrike report on the DNC hack. When the DOJ responded to the Stone motion they made a rather significant admission. Not only did the FBI not review the DNC server, the FBI/DOJ never even saw the Crowdstrike report.
Yes, that is correct. The FBI and DOJ were only allowed to see a ''draft'' report prepared by Crowdstrike, and that report was redacted'... and that redacted draft is the ''last version of the report produced''; meaning, there are no unredacted & final versions.
This means the FBI and DOJ, and all of the downstream claims by the intelligence apparatus; including the December 2016 Joint Analysis Report and January 2017 Intelligence Community Assessment, all the way to the Weissmann/Mueller report and the continued claims therein; were based on the official intelligence agencies of the U.S. government and the U.S. Department of Justice taking the word of a hired contractor for the Democrat party'..... despite their inability to examine the server and/or actually see an unredacted technical forensic report from the investigating contractor.
The entire apparatus of the U.S. government just took their word for it'...
'...and used the claim therein as an official position'....
'...which led to a subsequent government claim, in court, of absolute certainty that Russia hacked the DNC.
Think about that for a few minutes.
The full intelligence apparatus of the United States government is relying on a report they have never even been allowed to see or confirm; that was created by a paid contractor for a political victim that would not allow the FBI to investigate their claim.
The DNC server issue is foundation, and cornerstone, of the U.S. government's position on ''Russia hacking'' and the election interference narrative; and that narrative is based on zero factual evidence to affirm the U.S. government's position.
'...''the government does not need to prove at the defendant's trial that the Russians hacked the DNC'''... (pg 3) Ridiculous.
You couldn't make this nonsense up if you tried'...
Here's the full filing (h/t Techno Fog) :
Hong Kong Extraditions
American Gov't, NGOs Fuel and Fund Hong Kong Anti-Extradition Protests
H ONG KONG '-- Protesters in Hong Kong attempted to storm the parliament on Tuesday in opposition to an amendment to the autonomous territory's extradition law with mainland China. The protest's messaging and the groups associated with it, however, raise a number of questions about just how organic the movement is.
Some of the groups involved receive significant funding from the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), a CIA soft-power cutout that has played a critical role in innumerable U.S. regime-change operations.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi weighed in on the bill, which is being considered in Hong Kong's parliament, arguing that, should it pass, Congress would have to ''no choice but to reassess whether Hong Kong is 'sufficiently autonomous' under the 'one country, two systems' framework.''
The State Department has also weighed in, saying it could ''could undermine Hong Kong's autonomy and negatively impact the territory's long-standing protection of human rights, fundamental freedoms and democratic values.''
UK media cheerlead Hong Kong protesters who fear China will use 'non-political crimes to prosecute critics'. The same media that's spent 9 years cheerleading persecution, torture of whistleblowing platform founder Julian Assange for non-political crimes https://t.co/KuYyF0L5dS
'-- Jonathan Cook (@Jonathan_K_Cook) June 12, 2019
The Canadian and British foreign ministries have also thrown their weight behind those opposing the bill.
By all indications, protesters are just getting started. On Wednesday, some told international media that they would try to storm parliament again. Protesters have been met with the use of tear gas and rubber bullets by police.
The protesters appear to be trying to raise awareness among Western audiences, using the ''AntiExtraditionLaw'' hashtag and signs in English. In one photograph , a group holds dozens of the old Hong Kong flags, when the territory was under the control of the British crown, while bearing a sign that accuses China of ''colonialism.''
Major protests greet a minor change in law The amendment to the extradition law would ''allow Hong Kong to surrender fugitives on a case-by-case basis to jurisdictions that do not have long-term rendition agreements with the city.'' Among those jurisdictions are mainland China and Taiwan. Ian Goodrum, an American journalist who works in China for the government-owned China Daily newspaper, told MintPress News :
It's unfortunate there's been all this hullabaloo over what is a fairly routine and reasonable adjustment to the law. As the law reads right now, there's no legal way to prevent criminals in other parts of China from escaping charges by fleeing to Hong Kong. It would be like Louisiana '-- which, you'll remember, has a unique justice system '-- refusing to send fugitives to Texas or California for crimes committed in those states.
Honestly, this is something that should have been part of the agreement made in advance of the 1997 handover . Back then bad actors used irrational fear of the mainland to kick the can down the road and we're seeing the consequences today.''
Reminder that there is a Hong Konger wanted in Taiwan for murdering his pregnant girlfriend that cant be extradited to stand trial That's what these Hong Kongers are protesting to keep https://t.co/dqDnt6OvKX
'-- Wes, B.A. (@ZhouChauster) June 11, 2019
The U.S. agenda ripples through major NGOs Like the U.S. government, the NGO-industrial complex appears to be wholly on-board. Some 70 non-governmental organizations, many of them international, have endorsed an open letter urging for the bill to be killed. Yet it is signed only by three directors: Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor (HKHRM).
The protests mark the latest flare-up in longstanding tensions over Hong Kong's relationship with the mainland. In 2014, many of the groups associated with the current movement held an ''Occupy'' protest of their own over issues of autonomy.
A police officer blows the whistle to the protesters as they remove the barricades at an occupied area in Mong Kok district of Hong Kong Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2014. Hong Kong authorities cleared street barricades from a pro-democracy protest camp in the volatile Mong Kok district for a second day Wednesday after a night of clashes in which police arrested 116 people.
Ironically, the issue of autonomy is not just of importance to Hong Kongers, but to the United States government as well. And it's not all just harshly worded statements: the U.S. government is pumping up some of the organizers with loads of cash via the NED.
Something about the Hong Kong protests' messaging seems tailor-made for Western audiences. Most signs I am seeing also happen to be in English pic.twitter.com/YP71XXCCOJ
'-- Alex Rubinstein (@RealAlexRubi) June 12, 2019
Maintaining Hong Kong's distance from China has been important to the U.S. for decades. One former CIA agent even admitted that ''Hong Kong was our listening post.''
As MintPress News previously reported :
The NED was founded in 1983 following a series of scandals that exposed the CIA's blood-soaked covert actions against foreign governments. 'It would be terrible for democratic groups around the world to be seen as subsidized by the CIA,' NED President Carl Gershman told the New York Times in 1986. 'We saw that in the Sixties, and that's why it has been discontinued. We have not had the capability of doing this, and that's why the endowment was created.'
Another NED founder, Allen Weinstein, conceded to the Washington Post's David Ignatius, 'A lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA.'''
The NED has four main branches, at least two of which are active in Hong Kong: the Solidarity Center (SC) and the National Democratic Institute (NDI). The latter has been active in Hong Kong since 1997, and NED funding for Hong Kong-based groups has been ''consistent,'' says Louisa Greve, vice president of programs for Asia, the Middle East and North Africa. While NED funding for groups in Hong Kong actually dates back to 1994, 1997 was the year the territory was transferred from control by the British.
In 2018, NED granted $155,000 to SC and $200,000 to NDI for work in Hong Kong, and $90,000 to HKHRM, which is not itself a branch of NED but a partner in Hong Kong. Between 1995 and 2013, HKHRM received more than $1.9 million in funds from the NED.
The MacDonalds in Admiralty station concourse is doing a roaring trade again. Any good protest in the west, first thing we'd do is put a bin through the window. Here, it's the protest site canteen. It was a 24 hr Maccy D's in 2014 though, wonder if they'll open late for us.
'-- Hong Kong Hermit (@HongKongHermit) June 12, 2019
Through its NDI and SC branches, NED has had close relations with other groups in Hong Kong. NDI has worked with the Hong Kong Journalist Association, the Civic Party, the Labour Party, and the (Hong Kong) Democratic Party. It isn't clear whether these organizations have received funding from the NED. SC has, however, given $540,000 to the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions in the course of just seven years.
The coalition cited by Hong Kong media, including the South China Morning Post and the Hong Kong Free Press , as organizers of the anti-extradition law demonstrations is called the Civil Human Rights Front. That organization's website lists the NED-funded HKHRM, Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions, the Hong Kong Journalists Association, the Civic Party, the Labour Party, and the Democratic Party as members of the coalition.
It is inconceivable that the organizers of the protests are unaware of the NED ties to some of its members. During the 2014 Occupy protests, Beijing made a big deal out of NED influence in the protests and the foreign influence they said it represented. The NED official, Greve, even told the U.S. government's Voice of America outlet that ''activists know the risks of working with NED partners'' in Hong Kong, but do it anyway.
Feature photo | A protester bleeds from his face as he tries to stop a group of taxi drivers from trying to remove the barricades which are blocking off main roads, near a line of riot police at an occupied area, in the Mong Kok district of Hong Kong, Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2014. Hong Kong student leaders and government officials talked but agreed on little Tuesday as the city's Beijing-backed leader reaffirmed his unwillingness to compromise on the key demand of activists camped in the streets now for a fourth week.
Alexander Rubinstein is a staff writer for MintPress News based in Washington, DC. He reports on police, prisons and protests in the United States and the United States' policing of the world. He previously reported for RT and Sputnik News.
Watch the Money '' Billionaires Exit Hong Kong as China Fist Looms'.... | The Last Refuge
More indications of the growing financial exit to avoid the predictable response from totalitarian moves by Beijing. [Backstory '' Backstory] Now we see reports growing of mass financial moves out of Hong Kong, as billionaires see the looming shadow of Red Dragon closing in'...
HONG KONG (Reuters) '' Some Hong Kong tycoons have started moving personal wealth offshore as concern deepens over a local government plan to allow extraditions of suspects to face trial in China for the first time, according to financial advisers, bankers and lawyers familiar with such transactions.
One tycoon, who considers himself potentially politically exposed, has started shifting more than $100 million from a local Citibank account to a Citibank account in Singapore, according to an adviser involved in the transactions.
''It's started. We're hearing others are doing it, too, but no-one is going to go on parade that they are leaving,'' the adviser said. ''The fear is that the bar is coming right down on Beijing's ability to get your assets in Hong Kong. Singapore is the favoured destination.''
Hong Kong and Singapore compete fiercely to be considered Asia's premier financial centre. The riches held by Hong Kong's tycoons have until now made the city the larger base for private wealth, boasting 853 individuals worth more than $100 million '' just over double the number in Singapore '' according to a 2018 report from Credit Suisse.
The extradition bill, which will cover Hong Kong residents and foreign and Chinese nationals living or travelling through the city, has sparked unusually broad concern it may threaten the rule of law that underpins Hong Kong's international financial status.
Hong Kong's Beijing-backed leader, Carrie Lam, has stood by the bill, saying it is necessary to plug loopholes that allow criminals wanted on the mainland to use the city as a haven. She has said the courts would safeguard human rights. (read more)
As predicted Singapore and Tokyo will be the primary benefactors of large scale shifts in financial wealth. The investing class always leads the way. You don't have to be a geopolitical expert to see what is coming over the horizon. The trick is to make the exit quietly and re-position assets ahead of the rush for the exits.
The best days of Hong Kong are in the rear view mirror. The combination of President Trump's geopolitical trade pressure upon Beijing, and the natural tendency of China to respond with over-the-top totalitarian tactics (subtlety cast asunder), will mean a crushing and oppressive Red Dragon will soon step in to block the escape doors.
The Red Dragon is going to do what the Red Dragon does.
Thus begins the phase when corporate interests, particularly multinationals, recognize at its core China is a communist state-run, controlled-market, system.
The reaction from China is immensely predictable; and creates a downward spiral. If any corporation is perceived as working against the interests of the state; the state will take control of the corporate interest. What western business interest would want to do business within China when that reality is the landscape of every economic decision?
The willingness of China to self-immolate is the golden arrow in President Trump's economic quiver. The inability of China to modify itself based on downstream economic outcomes is the inherent weakness'... Overlay that weakness with the zero-sum outlook and you get this quote from Chinese State-Run broadcast:
'...''If the US wants to negotiate, our door is open. If you want to fight, we will fight to the end.'''...Think about the logical reality of this statement as expressed. Put another way: 'if you agree to our terms we will work with you; however, if you don't agree to our terms, we will self destruct.' That's the economic reality of the zero-sum dragon mindset. This inevitable position is what CTH has been outlining for several years.
China has no cultural or political space between peace and war; they are a historic nation based on two points of polarity. They see peace and war as coexisting with each other.
Chinese engagement stems from a belief that opposite or contrary forces may actually be complementary, interconnected, and interdependent in the natural world, and they may give rise to each other as they interrelate to one another. However, it must benefit China.
Trump is applying Chairman Xi's own ''us -vs them approach'' toward confronting China. The supply chain investment Beijing needs to sustain itself is now being controlled by elements outside China. Beijing responds by attacking those in the international community who control the investment.
This will not end well for China.
Keep watching,'... as time goes along and more companies, and nations, slowly walk toward the exits with China. There is just too much inherent financial risk. The first loss is the best loss.
'Many horrible people have been popular': Tory Muslim chief compares Boris Johnson to Hitler '-- RT UK News
Mohammed Amin, the Conservative Party's Muslim chief, says he'll quit after 36 years if Boris Johnson becomes prime minister, as he believes the former foreign secretary doesn't have the ''basic morality and integrity'' for the job.
Johnson won more MP votes than his three closest rivals combined in a Tory leadership vote on Thursday, but Amin contends that popularity is not an adequate measure of a candidate's worthiness for the role of prime minister.
''There are many horrible people who have been popular,'' Amin told BBC Radio 4's Today show. ''A lot of Germans thought that Hitler was the right man for them,'' he said, before clarifying that he doesn't believe Johnson ''wants to send people to the gas chamber. Clearly he doesn't, he's a buffoon.''
Also on rt.com Boris Johnson the runaway leader to become UK PM after first round of votes As chairman of the Conservative Muslim Forum, Amin may have a particular ax to grind with Johnson after the latter's comments comparing Muslim women in hijabs to letterboxes and bank robbers in an article for the Daily Telegraph last summer.
''We don't expect our politicians, our prime ministers, to be saints'... [but] he chose to mock Muslim women who wear niqab and burka for his own purposes.''
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President Trump Outwits Chairman Xi Jinping Ahead of G20 Summit'... | The Last Refuge
President Trump has taken the leverage of economics to levels of geopolitical strategy never seen before. Nowhere is the genius strategy more clear than in the way Trump has positioned the trade reset and confrontation with China.
In hindsight every move since early 2017 including: (1) the warm welcome of Chairman Xi Jinping to Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate; (2) the vociferous praise poured upon Xi; (3) the November 2017 tour of Asia; (4) the direct engagement with North Korean Chairman Kim Jong Un; the strategic relationship with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe; and a host of smaller nuanced moves have been quietly building toward a conclusion.
The upcoming G-20 summit is the last chance for Trump and Xi to reconcile considerable differences and President Trump has the strongest strategic position any Chinese official has ever faced.
After Beijing walked away from previous agreements between USTR Robert Lighthizer and Vice-Premier Liu He, Trump initiated a series of punishing economic consequences that had to have been well planned in advance.
The economy in China is reeling from the pressure applied; and stunningly it has only been a month since the consequence phase began.
In addition to tariff increases, the U.S. blacklisted Huawei Technologies Co., threatened other major Chinese tech companies and essentially cut-off China from the international supply chain it needs to sustain itself. Beijing responded by drawing up a list of ''unreliable entities'' and making threats against any enterprise that would walk away from business engagement with China. The totalitarian response has worsened the situation, and more companies have announced their intent to decouple from Beijing.
An important aspect, missed by most observers, is the ideology and outlook within any Chinese engagement. Quite simply, if it does not benefit China it is not done. Therefore any negotiation with China is challenging because Beijing will cede no ground they view as already won.
China does not believe in 'concession from current position' within any terms. Ultimately this is the reason why the negotiated agreement by Lighthizer and Vice-Premier He was dismissed by Beijing and talks collapsed. China will not cede an already attained position.
China never negotiates terms where they give ground. Almost all negotiation with China has historically surrounded time. To appease the West the longer-thinking approach of China has been to negotiate winning more slowly, but they will never retreat on previously won gains.
However, in advance of the G20 Summit in Japan President Trump has positioned Chairman Xi in a lose/lose dynamic. This forces the outlook of Beijing into a state of internal anxiety. Only President Donald Trump could have achieved this position, is really is remarkable and is noted within this Bloomberg article:
(Bloomberg) By now, Xi Jinping is used to Donald Trump's tariff threats. But the U.S. president's latest ultimatum is personal, and the Chinese leader's response could have far-reaching consequences for his political future.
Trump on Monday said he could impose tariffs ''much higher than 25%'' on $300 billion in Chinese goods if Xi doesn't meet him at the upcoming Group of 20 summit in Japan. China's foreign ministry '-- which usually refuses to provide details of meetings until the very last minute '-- declined Tuesday to say whether the meeting would take place.
The brinkmanship puts Xi '-- China's strongest leader in decades '-- in perhaps the toughest spot of his six-year presidency. If Xi caves to Trump's threats, he risks looking weak at home. If he declines the meeting, he must accept the economic costs that come with Trump possibly extending the trade conflict through the 2020 presidential elections.
''Whether they meet or not, none of the possible scenarios are good for President Xi or the economy in the long run,'' said Zhang Jian, an associate professor at Peking University. ''You don't have a good choice which can meet the needs of the Chinese economy or Mr. Xi's political calculations.'' (read more)
Read that again carefully'....
''If Xi caves to Trump's threats, he risks looking weak at home. If he declines the meeting, he must accept the economic costs that come with Trump possibly extending the trade conflict through the 2020 presidential elections.''
That is what you call a Lose/Lose scenario.
China NEVER faces lose/lose situations. The Chinese culture doesn't even have a frame of reference for a position that includes 'less losing' amid better options.
For President Trump to have navigated Chairman Xi into such a position is the pinnacle of strategic success. In the long history of western engagement with Beijing it has never happened, ever.
President Trump is now playing with Chairman Xi like a mouse in a maze.
Trump wants to go to the full confrontation position. Donald J Trump has been talking about this for thirty years. Additionally, for the past two years he has strategically laid the groundwork and aligned the allies needed for this final confrontation. President Trump is looking for an excuse to apply the scale of tariffs on China that will crush their U.S. export business '' and '' force them into massive state subsidies to retain their manufacturing model. This approach creates pressure to retract from preexisting global financial obligations.
President Trump has threatened more tariffs and more consequential action as it relates to non-tariff barriers, IP protection, forced technology transfers etc. as a result of China reneging on their prior agreement. In essence, President Trump has put Chairman Xi under threat. Beijing's traditional and cultural position would be no-meeting and no negotiation while under threats.
However, as a baseline disposition President Trump doesn't want Xi Jinping to meet with him. The appearance of a 'slight' is the opening Trump can exploit to apply the 25% tariffs to the remaining $350 billion of imported Chinese goods. This will crush his adversary.
So what does President Trump do'... while the tariff threat and trade punishment looms (and he keeps reminding everyone of it), he levels massive amounts of praise upon Chairman Xi making the pressure almost unbearable.
Laughably, U.S. President Trump is wearing the panda mask, and simultaneously applying the dragon approach. Yes, Trump is using China's own duplicitous strategy against them.
Chairman Xi cannot meet with President Trump or his appearance implies a willingness to negotiate terms; and that reverses the dismissive position previously outlined by Beijing when they rebuked the earlier agreement. A meeting now would appear as weak.
However, if Xi refuses the G20 meeting he will be walking into a trap and allowing President Trump to take all adversarial action that could indeed collapse Xi's economy.
Worse still, Beijing cannot fall-back-on their historic approach and begin shooting missiles from their proxy province of North Korea to attain leverage and negotiating position'... because President Trump has already blunted that ability by meeting with Chairman Kim Jong Un.
Oh, the G20 is going to be epic.
'...and LOL, the G20 is on Trump's home ASEAN turf, Japan, with Trump's good friend and golf partner Prime Minister Abe.
War on Vaping
California Democrats under fire after vaping company Juul sponsors convention
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, as seen on a monitor at the California Democratic Party Convention in San Francisco on June 1, 2019. The logo of Juul Labs, a sponsor of the convention, was displayed on a monitor next to Pelosi during a portion of her remarks.
Courtesy of Steve Glazer
LOS ANGELES '' When House Speaker Nancy Pelosi took the stage at the California Democratic convention on June 1, the logo from Juul Labs was displayed prominently behind her.
Within a week, U.S. House Democrats would demand reams of internal documents from the e-cigarette maker as part of a broader probe into the teen vaping epidemic. House Oversight Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy Chairman Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill., is scrutinizing the company's social media practices and marketing to underage users, according to the June 7 letter sent to Juul CEO Kevin Burns.
"The safety and well-being of America's youth is not for sale," Krishnamoorthi wrote. "I am extremely concerned about reports that Juul's high nicotine content is fueling addiction and that frequent Juul use is sending kids across the country into rehab, some as young as 15."
Juul was one of the party's corporate sponsors at the California Democratic Party Convention from May 31 through June 2. During the three-day convention in San Francisco, logos from companies including Juul, Airbnb and Uber flashed on a screen as conventiongoers watched the party's rising stars speak, including presidential hopeful Sen. Elizabeth Warren who signed on to a letter opening a Senate probe into Juul in April. Presidential contenders California Sen. Kamala Harris and former Rep. Beto O'Rourke also spoke at the convention.
The appearance of Juul as a donor upset some Democrats and health advocates who have waged battle against the vaping company. Juul is facing increased scrutiny over the company's marketing practices as teen use reaches epidemic levels.
Many lawmakers and public health officials say the company's marketing practices targeted minors through social media influencers, who are paid to promote products on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Critics also say Juul's fruity pod flavors, which are now sold only online, targeted teens. House and Senate lawmakers are also looking at Altria's $12.8 billion investment in Juul last year, which gave the tobacco giant a 35% stake in the vaping company.
"If Democrats are going to position themselves as a party that stands up for the public against big special interests, they can't be taking money from the biggest purveyor of nicotine addiction to kids," said Dr. Stanton Glantz, University of California at San Francisco's director of its Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education. "They can't talk out of both sides of their mouth."
Pelosi and Warren's offices declined to comment for this story. The state Democratic Party also didn't respond to requests for comment. Juul declined to comment about the sponsorship.
State Sen. Jerry Hill of San Mateo said he was shocked to see the Juul logo across the screen on the main stage.
"It was disturbing, disappointing and disgusting. Those are the three words that came to mind," he said.
"It's giving the impression that the Democratic Party supports this company. It was disappointing because the party of the people would stoop this low for money. And it was disgusting because we know that the company is addicting a future generation."
Earlier this year, Hill introduced a bill with state Sen. Steve Glazer of Contra Costa County to prohibit sales of flavored tobacco products in stores and vending machines statewide.
"I would prefer that our party not take sponsorship money or give promotional space to a company that preys on young smokers to hook them on nicotine," said Glazer.
The tobacco legislation, Senate Bill 38, was pulled by Hill last month after "hostile amendments" were added.
A variety of tobacco industry players opposed the legislation, including Juul and the Cigar Association of America, according to a Senate-prepared summary of the legislation.
"Juul has become super active politically," said Glantz, a UCSF professor of medicine. He said the rise has come as jurisdictions look to crack down on vaping use, including Juul's hometown of San Francisco.
Last year, voters there approved a ban on the sale of flavored tobacco products despite the industry waging a $12 million battle to stop it.
"We have grown our California team to engage with lawmakers, regulators, public health officials and advocates to drive awareness that JUUL exists to help adult smokers switch and is committed to keeping JUUL products out of the hands of underage people," a company spokesperson said via email.
One state party official, though, took to the microphone on the final day of the convention to criticize the decision to take money from Juul.
"What committee should I go to to ask this party not to take any money from Juul, who preys on children?" asked Hene Kelly, a Democratic Party director representing the San Francisco region.
Facebook's Secret 'Hate Agent' Formula Leaked By Insider | Zero Hedge
An internal Facebook document reveals that the social media giant monitors its users' offline behavior as part of how the company determines whether a person should be classified as a "Hate Agent," according to Breitbart's Allum Bokhari who has reviewed the document.
Titled "Hate Agent Policy Review," the document reveals that Facebook employs a series of "signals" which include a person's behavior both on and off the platform. Once determined to be a "hate agent," a person is banned from the platform.
If you praise the wrong individual, interview them, or appear at events alongside them, Facebook may categorize you as a ''hate agent.''
Facebook may also categorize you as a hate agent if you self-identify with or advocate for a ''Designated Hateful Ideology,'' if you associate with a ''Designated Hate Entity'' (one of the examples cited by Facebook as a ''hate entity'' includes Islam critic Tommy Robinson), or if you have ''tattoos of hate symbols or hate slogans.'' (The document cites no examples of these, but the media and ''anti-racism'' advocacy groups increasingly label innocuous items as ''hate symbols,'' including a cartoon frog and the ''OK'' hand sign.)
Facebook will also categorize you as a hate agent for possession of ''hate paraphernalia,'' although the document provides no examples of what falls into this category. -Breitbart
Facebook may even brand someone a hate agent for "statements made in private but later made public," according to the report.
This piece by @LibertarianBlue is insane.@Facebook monitors your OFFLINE behavior to decide if you're a "Hate Agent" via:'-- who you were seen with
'-- comments about immigration'-- your tattoos'-- if you are NEUTRAL about someone'-- things you say IN PRIVATEhttps://t.co/qXnWyRkFOp
'-- Dennis Williams (@RealDennisWill) June 14, 2019Bokhari also notes from his previous reports that Facebook categorized right-wing pundit Paul Joseph Watson as "hateful" in part because he interviewed British activist Tommy Robinson on his YouTube channel. Similarly, prominent conservatives Candace Owens and Brigitte Gabriel are on the list, along with UK politicians Marie Waters and Carl Benjamin.
The Benjamin addition reveals that Facebook may categorize you as a hate agent merely for speaking neutrally about individuals and organizations that the social network considers hateful. In the document, Facebook tags Benjamin with a ''hate agent'' signal for ''neutral representation of John Kinsman, member of Proud Boys'' on October 21 last year.
Facebook also accuses Benjamin, a classical liberal and critic of identity politics, as ''representing the ideology of an ethnostate'' for a post in which he calls out an actual advocate of an ethnostate. -Breitbart
Facebook divides hate speech into three tiers depending on the severity of the offense;
Tier 1 attacks, which target a person or group of people who share one of the above-listed characteristics or immigration status (including all subsets except those described as having carried out violent crimes or sexual offenses), where attack is defined as
Any violent speech or support in written or visual form
Dehumanizing speech such as reference or comparison to:
Insects; Animals that are culturally perceived as intellectually or physically inferior; Filth, bacteria, disease and feces, Sexual predator, Subhumanity, Violent and sexual criminals, Other criminals (including but not limited to ''thieves,'' ''bank robbers,'' or saying ''all [protected characteristic or quasi-protected characteristic] are 'criminals'''); Mocking the concept, events or victims of hate crimes even if no real person is depicted in an image.
Tier 2 attacks, which target a person or group of people who share any of the above-listed characteristics, where attack is defined as; Statements of inferiority or an image implying a person's or a group's physical, mental, or moral deficiency; Physical (including but not limited to ''deformed,'' ''undeveloped,'' ''hideous,'' ''ugly''); Mental (including but not limited to ''retarded,'' ''cretin,'' ''low IQ,'' ''stupid,'' ''idiot''); Moral (including but not limited to ''slutty,'' ''fraud,'' ''cheap,'' ''free riders''); Expressions of contempt or their visual equivalent, including (but not limited to) "I hate", "I don't like" , "X are the worst" , Expressions of disgust or their visual equivalent, including (but not limited to), "Gross" , "Vile" , "Disgusting" , Cursing at a person or group of people who share protected characteristics
Tier 3 attacks, which are calls to exclude or segregate a person or group of people based on the above-listed characteristics. We do allow criticism of immigration policies and arguments for restricting those policies.
If you have done any of the above over the past two years, Facebook considers it a 'hate signal.'
Notre Dame officials say tycoons who promised millions after the fire haven't paid a cent - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
The billionaire French tycoons who pledged hundreds of millions in financial aid to rebuild Notre Dame cathedral in Paris have not yet paid a penny toward the restoration of the national monument, according to church and business officials.
Key points: Notre Dame's wooden spire, a masterpiece, and roof were lost to the fire in AprilFrench tycoons publicly pledged hundreds of millions in donations after the inferno They said they were now waiting on redesign details and a 'vision' before committing their fundsInstead, it's mainly American and French individuals, via Notre Dame charitable foundations, that are behind the first donations paying the bills and salaries for up to 150 workers employed by Notre Dame since an April 15 fire devastated its roof and caused its masterpiece spire to collapse.
This month they are handing over the first private payment for the cathedral's reconstruction of $5.8 million.
"The big donors haven't paid. Not a cent," said Andre Finot, senior press official at Notre Dame.
"They want to know what exactly their money is being spent on and if they agree to it before they hand it over, and not just to pay employees' salaries."
More than $1 billion was promised by some of France's richest and most powerful families and companies, several of whom sought to outbid each other, in the hours and days after the inferno.
It prompted criticism that the donations were as much about the vanity of the donors wishing to be immortalised in the edifice's fabled stones than the preservation of France's heritage.
Francois Pinault of Artemis, the parent company of Kering that owns Gucci and Saint Laurent, promised $163 million, while Patrick Pouyanne, CEO of French energy company Total, said his firm would match that figure.
Bernard Arnault, CEO of luxury giant LVMH that owns Louis Vuitton and Dior, pledged $327 million, as did the Bettencourt Schueller Foundation of the L'Or(C)al fortune.
None of that money has been seen, according to Mr Finot, as the donors wait to see how the reconstruction plans progress and fight it out over contracts.
Wearing hard hats to massThe first stone of Notre Dame de Paris was laid in 1163, with the iconic building becoming the most famous of the Gothic cathedrals of the Middle Ages and one of the most beloved structures in the world.
A group of about 30 people will gather at the cathedral on Saturday evening (local time) to celebrate the first mass since the fire.
The service will be led by Paris Archbishop Monsignor Michel Aupetit in a small chapel near the garden, which used to hold the crown of thorns relic.
Participants will have to wear safety helmets, as the site is under construction to consolidate the structure.
The service will mark the anniversary of the consecration of the cathedral's altar, French media reported, which is celebrated each year around June 16.
It will be a "simple service", Notre Dame's chief priest, Monsignor Patrick Chauvet, told French broadcaster BFM TV.
Attendees will include several Notre Dame priests along with selected journalists and camera operators, with the mass to be broadcast on French television.
The diocese is waiting on approval from civil authorities to reopen space on front of the cathedral to the public, according to France 24.
If granted, evening prayer services could resume in Notre Dame square.
Americans form bulk of donations paid so farThe reality on the ground at Notre Dame is that work has been continuing around the clock for weeks and the cathedral has had to rely partly on the charity foundations to fund the first phase of reconstruction.
The Friends of Notre Dame de Paris was founded in 2017 and its president, Michel Picaud, estimates that 90 per cent of the donations it had received had come from American donors.
Indeed, Mr Picaud just returned from a fundraising trip in New York.
"Americans are very generous toward Notre Dame and the monument is very loved in America," Mr Picaud said.
"Six out of our 11 board members are residents in the US."
Companies want 'vision' before funds commitmentA spokesman for the Pinault Collection '-- owners of Gucci and Saint Laurent '-- acknowledged that the Pinault family hadn't yet handed over any money for the cathedral's restoration, blaming that on a delay in contracts.
"We are willing to pay, provided it is requested in a contractual framework," said spokesman Jean-Jacques Aillagon, adding the Pinault family plans to pay via the Notre Dame foundations.
The LVMH Group and the Arnault family said in a statement they were signing an agreement with Notre Dame's foundations and "the payments will be made as the work progresses".
Total has pledged to pay its $163 million via the Heritage Foundation, whose director-general Celia Verot confirmed that the multinational company had not paid anything.
She said donors were waiting to see what the plans were, and whether they were in line with each company's particular vision before they agreed to transfer the money.
"How the funds will be used by the state is the big question," Ms Verot said.
"It's a voluntary donation, so the companies are waiting for the Government's vision to see what precisely they want to fund."
While the clean-up and consolidation work now underway at Notre Dame is hugely important, it does not fit that description, said another foundation official, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The Bettencourt Schueller Foundation said it, too, had not handed over any money because it wanted to ensure its donation was spent on causes that fit the foundation's specific ethos, which supports craftsmanship in art.
Olivier de Challus, one of the cathedral's chief guides and architecture experts, said one of the reasons the rich French donors had not yet paid was that there were still so many uncertainties about the direction of the reconstruction work.
Mr De Challus said architectural experts were using digital models to try to establish how much damage the fire did to the cathedral's 13th-century stone, and whether its structures were fundamentally sound.
"It doesn't matter that the big donors haven't yet paid because the choices about the spire and the major architectural decisions will happen probably late in 2020," he said.
"That's when the large sums of money will be required."
Donations so far have gone to lead clean-upWhile the billionaire donors delay signing their checks, the workers at the cathedral face the epic task of cleaning up the lead poisoning that has become an issue for the Parisian island on which Notre Dame is located.
An estimated 300 tonnes of lead that made up the cathedral's roof melted or was released into the atmosphere during the fierce blaze, sending out toxic dust.
The city's regional health agency says high levels of lead are now present in the soil of the island, the Ile de la Cite, and in nearby administrative buildings.
It has recommended that all pregnant women and children under seven living nearby take blood tests for lead, after an abnormally high level was detected in a child in the area.
Two dedicated workers have been cleaning the toxic lead dust from the cathedral's forecourt for weeks, and up to 148 more have been cleaning inside and outside the edifice as well as restoring it, according to Mr Finot.
Workers are building a wooden walkway so they can remove 250 tonnes of burnt scaffolding that had been installed before the fire for the ill-fated restoration of Notre Dame's spire.
They will then replace the existing plastic protection with a bigger, more robust umbrella roof.
After that, they will begin reconstructing the roof and vaulting.
Mr Finot said this process would take months and would be paid for in part by the Friends of Notre Dame and other foundations.
Meanwhile, the French Parliament was slowly debating amendments to a new law that would create a public body to expedite the restoration of the cathedral and circumvent some of the country's famously complex labour laws.
French President Emmanuel Macron has said the work should be completed within five years '-- a deadline many French architects say is overly ambitious.
Mr Macron has appointed former army chief General Jean-Louis Georgelin to oversee the reconstruction.
Since Beto O'Rourke began tanking in the polls after his initial boomlet, he's been scrambling for ways to push further to the left than some of his more successful (thus far) opponents. His latest bid in this effort is a new LGBT platform that was rolled out this week. In it, he promotes the LGBTQ+ Equality Act, which we've discussed here previously. Beto focuses on things like housing, education and employment, but makes no mention of the negative impact this measure will have on the already threatened world of competitive female sports. (Daily Caller)
Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke's new plan on LGBT issues includes forcing schools to include male athletes who identify as transgender girls on female sports teams.
O'Rourke's plan for ''LGBTQ+ Equality,'' which he released Wednesday, includes passing the Equality Act, which would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to make ''sexual orientation and gender identity'' protected characteristics under federal anti-discrimination law.
The House passed the Equality Act in May with unanimous Democratic support, but it's unlikely to get a vote in the Republican-controlled Senate.
''Beto will work with Congress to ensure that every person in our country is safe and respected,'' O'Rourke's plan states, pledging to get the Equality Act passed.
A request for comment on the question of how this agenda will affect female athletics from the O'Rourke campaign was not answered.
I wonder if any of the members of our vaunted press corps or the moderators at the upcoming debates will put this question to Beto. In their rush to demonstrate who cares the most about the LGBT community (and subsequently attract their votes in the primary next year), the Democrats are in the process of running over girls and women in sports. You'll recall that a man recently won an NCAA women's track championship only a year after declaring that he was now a she. (His previous performance when competing against the men was rather dismal.) Democrats are supposed to be the party of ''fairness,'' right? How fair is this?
These Democrats, including Beto, might be overplaying their hand by a wide margin. Last month we saw polling indicating that only 23% of Americans believe that males ''identifying'' as females should be allowed to compete against actual, biological females in sport. And it's a fairly bipartisan view. Not even one-third of Democrats think this should be allowed.
In their rush to prove their LGBT bona fides, candidates like Beto may find themselves alienating a significant majority of the electorate. Of course, that depends on the media doing their job and bringing up this aspect of the aforementioned Equality Act and getting the candidates on the record about it. While it's possible, I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for that to happen.
War on Weed
Scientists Find Ancient Humans Used Weed 2,500 Years Ago, Too - The New York Times
Residue found in tombs deep in a Central Asian mountain range suggests that strong cannabis was used in ancient burial rites.
Image Dense patches of wild cannabis grow across the mountain foothills of Eurasia from the Caucuses to East Asia. These plants were photographed growing in the Tian Shan Mountains of Kazakhstan. Credit Credit Robert Spengler An association between weed and the dead turns out to have been established long before the 1960s and far beyond a certain ur-band's stomping grounds in San Francisco.
Researchers have identified strains of cannabis burned in mortuary rituals as early as 500 B.C., deep in the Pamir mountains in western China, according to a new study published Wednesday. The residue had chemical signatures indicating high levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the plant's most psychoactive, or mood-altering, compound.
You think the Grateful Dead were the first to wonder ''what in the world ever became of sweet Jane?'' That CBD gummies to assuage the anxious are anything new? That puffs of elevated consciousness started with Rocky Mountain highs?
''Modern perspectives on cannabis vary tremendously cross-culturally, but it is clear that the plant has a long history of human use, medicinally, ritually and recreationally over countless millennia,'' said Robert Spengler, an archaeobotanist at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Jena, Germany, who worked on the study.
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Cannabis stems and seeds had previously been found at a handful of burial sites around Eurasia, but the evidence at the Pamir cemetery, verified by advanced scientific technology, shows an even more direct connection between the plant and early ritual. The new findings expand the geographical range of cannabis use within the broader Central Asian region, said Mark Merlin, a professor of botany at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, who did not work on the research.
''The fact that strongly psychoactive ancient residue has been documented in laboratory testing is the key new finding,'' said Dr. Merlin, a cannabis historian. He hypothesized that ''It was used to facilitate the body communicating with the afterlife, the spirit world.''
The study was published in the journal Science Advances. The research team included archaeologists and chemists from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing.
About 70 artifacts have been retrieved from the Pamir burial site so far, including glass beads, harps, pieces of silk and wooden bowls and plates. Perforations and cuts in some skulls and bones could suggest human sacrifice.
''We can start to piece together an image of funerary rites that included flames, rhythmic music and hallucinogen smoke, all intended to guide people into an altered state of mind,'' the authors wrote in the study.
Ancient mourners apparently created the smoke by placing hot stones in wooden braziers '-- receptacles for flaming objects '-- and laying in cannabis plants, the researchers wrote. The residue was found on the insides of 10 braziers and on stones exhumed from eight tombs in the 2,500-year-old Jirzankal Cemetery.
Image The excavation of a tomb in which a brazier was found. Credit Xinhua Wu Image The typical brazier and burnt stones found in the Pamirs. Credit Xinhua Wu The chemical signatures were isolated and identified through a procedure known as gas chromatography-mass spectrometry.
Although cannabis seeds have been found in a few other sites, no such seeds were found here. Archaeobotanists theorize that either the seeds had already been removed and discarded or that mourners deliberately chose nonflowering plant parts, such as stems, for the rituals.
Among the provocative questions raised by the findings are how and why mourners singled out the higher potency strains. Wild cannabis, which grows commonly across the well-watered mountain foothills of Central Asia, typically has low levels of cannabinol, a metabolite of THC, the researchers wrote.
Instead, these higher THC levels suggest that ''people may have been cultivating cannabis and possibly actively selecting for stronger specimens,'' they added.
Another possibility, they said, is that traders may have unwittingly caused hybridization as they moved plants along the Silk Road routes through the high mountain passes of the remote Pamirs, which connected regions of what are now known as China, Tajikistan and Afghanistan.
The tombs varied in size as well as the number of bodies, prompting researchers to wonder whether the ritualistic use of cannabis for mortuary rites had spread to common folk from being an exclusive practice for elite tribal leaders and priests.
These tombs have a distinctive appearance, the researchers noted. They are separated by rows of black and white stones, the purpose of which is unknown. Individual burials are within round mounds, additionally marked by stones.
Use of two parts of the cannabis plant '-- fibers for hemp rope, sail canvas (a word derived from ''cannabis'') and clothing; oily seeds for food '-- stretches back about 4,000 years. Those plants, however, have low THC levels. According to Dr. Merlin, cannabis seeds attached to pottery shards found in Japan have been dated to roughly 10,000 years ago.
But ancient evidence of the plant's utility for medicinal and ritual purposes is scant and more recent. (By contrast, the historical record about the use of opium poppy and peyote is relatively ample.)
Investigators have long tried to confirm or refute the ancient world's only known recounting of funereal cannabis use. Around the fifth century B.C., the Greek historian Herodotus described a Scythian mourners' rite:
'... when, therefore, the Scythians have taken some seed of this hemp, they creep under the cloths and put the seeds on the red hot stones; but this being put on smokes, and produces such a steam, that no Grecian vapour-bath would surpass it. The Scythians, transported by the vapour, shout aloud.
In the mid-20th century, researchers found artifacts in a frozen burial site that seemingly comport with Herodotus's account, in Russia's Altay mountain region near the Siberian and Mongolian border. Close to the bodies was a fur-lined leather bag with cannabis seeds, a bronze cauldron filled with stones and the frame of what seems to be an inhalation tent.
Dr. Merlin said that the Pamir cemetery, together with other relatively contemporaneous burial sites elsewhere in the Xinjiang region of China, strengthens a striking narrative about how cannabis was used ritually by local cultures. North of the Pamir cemetery and from roughly the same period, other researchers identified a container with about two pounds of chopped cannabis next to the head of a body believed to be a shaman, presumably to use for herbalist concoctions in the afterlife.
At yet another grave, also about 2,400 to 2,800 years old, in the dry desert of Xinjiang, researchers recently discovered a man about six feet tall buried with ''13 cannabis plants gathered at their base and spread across his breast like a bouquet of roses,'' Dr. Merlin said. The array has also been described as a ''cannabis shroud.''
''I think the evidence from the Pamir site connects cannabis as a 'plant of the gods,' '' he said. ''And that people recognized for it to be effective, you had to cook or burn it.''
Earlier reporting on archaeology
Jan Hoffman is a health behaviors reporter for Science, covering law, opioids, doctor-patient communication and other topics. She previously wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Style and was the legal affairs correspondent for Metro. @ JanHoffmanNYT
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Trump says he was briefed on Navy sightings of UFOs - POLITICO
President Donald Trump said he had been briefed on UFO sightings, but didn't particularly believe them. | Sarah Silbiger/Bloomberg via Getty Images
President Donald Trump said he'd been briefed on Navy pilots reporting increased sightings of unidentified flying objects, adding that he doesn't particularly believe in UFOs.
Speaking with ABC News' George Stephanopoulos in an interview segment released Saturday, Trump raised his eyebrows and grinned incredulously when asked what he made of the reports.
Story Continued Below
"I want them to think whatever they think," Trump said of the Navy pilots. "I did have one very brief meeting on it. But people are saying they're seeing UFOs. Do I believe it? Not particularly."
The Navy recently drafted new guidelines for how to report encounters with "unidentified aircraft" in response to reports of sophisticated vessels intruding on Navy strike groups, POLITICO reported in April. Pilots reported seeing objects flying at 30,000 feet with no exhaust plumes and at supersonic speeds, according to The New York Times.
The Pentagon quietly set up a program to research UFOs more than 10 years ago at the direction of Congress. The Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Program was largely pushed by former Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and operated with extremely limited public exposure, though it was not a classified program.
Trump did not seem as eager to act on the reports, telling Stephanopoulos that "we're going to see."
When asked if Trump would know of any extraterrestrial life, he demurred and said: "I think our great pilots would know. And some of them see things a little bit different from the past. ... We're watching, and you'll be the first to know."
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VIDEO - UK bans ads featuring harmful gender stereotypes - YouTube
Democratic Sen. Mark Warner Discusses Election Laws And Interference NPR's Audie Cornish talks with Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., about election laws and interference.
Democratic Sen. Mark Warner Discusses Election Laws And Interference NPR's Audie Cornish talks with Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., about election laws and interference.
AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
We're going to bring in Virginia Senator Mark Warner now. He's the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee. Welcome back to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED.
MARK WARNER: Thanks for having me, Audie.
CORNISH: I want to talk to you about the response to the president's comments. In the House, you had Andy Levin - he's a Democrat from Michigan - saying, look; as a lawyer, someone smack-talking about what they might do in the future - I don't think it's an impeachable offense. It's kind of a no-big-deal response. How did you think about all this?
WARNER: I thought even in the world of Trump, this is outrageous. We all take an oath to defend the Constitution against enemies foreign and domestic. In 2016, it's been documented by every one of our intelligence and law enforcement agencies that Russia massively interfered in our elections with the attempt to help Trump and hurt Clinton. Virtually every member regardless of party said, we need to make sure that doesn't happen again in 2020.
Trump in 2016 - he may have been a naive candidate then, but he welcomed Russia. If they've got dirt on Clinton, lay it out. Well, you would have thought after 2 1/2 years in office he would have learned that that's not appropriate behavior. That is - you know, if this man has so little moral center that he doesn't understand taking help from a foreign government is wrong, then we need to put in place a law that would say if a foreign government tries to intervene in the election, in a presidential campaign, the campaign as an affirmative obligation to report that to the FBI.
CORNISH: And as we've been hearing, the laws surrounding accepting information or money from foreign powers - they're murky and weak and, many argue, poorly written and unenforceable. So what would you do differently? Would you create something that is enforceable?
WARNER: They are murky. They are weak. So I'm not trying to get to what the right penalty ought to be or even who ought to be exactly the right agent of jurisdiction. What my...
CORNISH: But isn't that important? I mean, essentially there is already a law against taking information, right? So but here we are having the conversation.
WARNER: Well, that's why I'm saying there may be ways to improve the law so it's not just reporting to the Federal Elections Commission. But that is a separate question from the obligation that says if a foreign power tries to intervene in our elections, at least tell law enforcement; at least tell the FBI. That's kind of a no-brainer. Now, Donald Trump may not agree with that. And consequently, if we need a law to make sure there is no gray area here, my hope would be that there would be a bipartisan agreement because...
CORNISH: Do you have any indication that the majority leader, Mitch McConnell, would have any interest in this?
WARNER: Well, you know, there's been lots of concern voiced by a lot of my Republican partners that they know our election system is not safe in 2020. And I think the least we should do is put this law in place that would say, you've got to report to the FBI if we've got foreign agents intervening. Secondly, let's pass an election security law to make sure there's a paper trail after every vote so people have belief in the integrity of their vote. And third, let's go ahead and put some guardrails around some of these social media companies so you cannot use deepfake technology or create fake personas the way the Russians did on Facebook in 2016.
CORNISH: What does all this mean for 2020? Do you think all of this conversation is going to be meaningful to candidates going forward?
WARNER: Well, I hope all candidates would be on guard. The director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats, has said the Russians or others will be back. And clearly the security of our elections is not a priority for Mr. Trump if he's willing to go on national media as he did yesterday and say he would welcome at least reviewing information from places like Russia and China.
CORNISH: That's Senator Mark Warner, a Virginia Democrat and the ranking member on the Senate Intelligence Committee. Thank you for speaking with us.
WARNER: Thank you, Audie.
[POST-BROADCAST CLARIFICATION: In a conversation with Sen. Mark Warner, we quoted Rep. Andy Levin incompletely from a newspaper report. While the congressman said he did not think that President Trump's comments were impeachable, he did say he found them "disqualifying."]
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio record.
Clarification June 14, 2019 In a conversation with Sen. Mark Warner, we quoted Rep. Andy Levin incompletely from a newspaper report. While the congressman said he did not think that President Trump's comments were impeachable, he did say he found them "disqualifying."
VIDEO - Congress Raises Questions On How Deep Fake Technologies Could Affect 2020 Campaign : NPR
The House Intelligence Committee examined the rise of deep fake videos and the challenges they place on social media platforms and the subjects of the videos who could be misrepresented in them.
AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
With every passing day, deep fake technologies are becoming more sophisticated. These technologies involve using artificial intelligence to modify familiar faces and voices in order to create convincing - and false - video and audio. The emergence of this technology has serious implications for how we view truth and reality in our society.
NPR's Tim Mak has more on how Congress is raising questions about how this all could affect the 2020 campaign, businesses and our national security.
TIM MAK, BYLINE: What you will hear next was never actually said. It looks like a Facebook office. It looks like Mark Zuckerberg giving an interview. It looks like his mouth is moving along with the words.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Imagine this for a second. One man with total control of billions of people's stolen data, all their secrets, their lives, their futures.
MAK: But that wasn't the founder of Facebook. It was instead a deep fake created by an artist in the U.K. and posted on Instagram. This technology is quickly becoming a national security concern. The House Intelligence Committee held a hearing Thursday warning of the threat.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
ADAM SCHIFF: With sufficient training data, these powerful deep-fake-generating algorithms can portray a real person doing something they never did or saying words they never uttered.
MAK: That's committee Chairman Adam Schiff. The disaster scenarios are obvious - a deep fake showing a 2020 candidate inciting violence against an ethnic group or false audio of a military official giving orders to mass troops at a border. There is no easy solution. Danielle Citron, a law professor at the University of Maryland, explained the challenge of prosecuting those who might create deep fakes.
DANIELLE CITRON: I would imagine that authenticating and figuring out who the person is who created the deep fake would be hard. And even if you could figure out who that person is, the question is, do they live in the United States? Can we get jurisdiction over them?
MAK: Another route would be to hold social media organizations responsible for the spread of deep fix, but many Republicans believe tech groups harbor an anti-conservative bias and can't be trusted as the gatekeeper. Here's how the top Republican on the committee, Devin Nunes, described them, calling them...
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
DEVIN NUNES: These tech oligarch companies - there's only a few of them. You know who they are.
MAK: Up until now, social media companies have a general legal immunity to content posted on their platform, but that may be changing. Listen to this question from Schiff.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
SCHIFF: Is it time to do away with that immunity so that the platforms are required to maintain a certain standard of care?
MAK: Any effort addressing the threat of deep fakes involves increasing public awareness, but even this poses a problem. It's called the liar's dividend. Here's Citron explaining what that is.
CITRON: Once you get everyone all educated, then, you know, you have wrongdoers point to real video - genuine audio and video that show them doing something illegal or wrong, right? - and they get to say, oh, it's a deep fake. Pay no attention.
MAK: These technologies are evolving rapidly, to the point that almost anyone can use it. Here's Lindsay Gorman, the fellow for Emerging Technologies at the Alliance for Securing Democracy.
LINDSAY GORMAN: What used to be something that was available only to sophisticated machine learning experts is now becoming available to the general public.
MAK: So, as the witnesses to Thursday's committee hearing attest, it may only be a matter of time until deep fakes affect our politics and our national security. Tim Mak, NPR News, Washington.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio record.
VIDEO - Watch: President Trump Talks UFOs | Coast to Coast AM
The increasing buzz surrounding UFOs has finally publicly reached the proverbial highest office in the land as President Trump has shared his thoughts on reports of Navy pilots seeing strange objects in the sky. The topic came up during a conversation with George Stephanopoulos of ABC News, who noted the story which has been making the rounds in recent weeks. He subsequently asked the president what he thinks of those reports from pilots and if he'd been briefed on the subject.
Trump seemed slightly taken aback by the question, chuckling at the first mention of the phenomenon, but then appeared to go out of his way to not diminish the experiences of the pilots, musing that "I want them to think whatever they think." He went on to reveal that "I did have one very brief meeting" about the issue and ultimately observed that "people are saying they're seeing UFOs. Do I believe it? Not particularly."
Stephanopoulos continued the line of questioning by asking Trump the remarkably specific question "do you think you'd know if there were evidence of extraterrestrials?" In response, Trump replied that he believes "our great pilots would know and some them see things that are a little bit different than in the past." The conversation concerning UFOs wrapped up with Trump assuring Stephanopoulos that "we're going to see. We'll watch it. You'll be the first to know."
As is the case when any president says anything about UFOs, Trump's words will undoubtedly be carefully parsed by researchers for any possible hints or hidden messages. Undoubtedly his personal dismissal of the phenomenon is disappointing to hear and will likely be the focus of mainstream headlines concerning the conversation. However, a silver lining can be found in his statements as he not only expressed support for the pilots who have reported seeing UFOs, but also seemed to suggest that the government aims to figure out what it is that they are seeing.
Whether that proves to be the case or not, of course, remains to be seen. For now, Trump's exchange with Stephanopoulos serves to answer one burning question which has lingered in the air over the last few weeks and months as attention paid to the UFO phenomenon by the media and the public has grown exponentially: what does the president think of all this? To that end, what's you're take on what the president had to say about the subject? Weigh in at the Coast to Coast AM Facebook page.
VIDEO - Target glitch causes register outage - YouTube
VIDEO - Lego_Fan73 on Twitter: "@adamcurry keeps up with it on #noagenda. Can't have Americans getting ideas! Ask nobody mentions this is directly tied to the Paris agreement we are told is so great'... https://t.co/OysptospKu"
The Japanese owner of the Kokuka Courageous, one of two oil tankers targeted near the Strait of Hormuz, said Friday that sailors on board saw "flying objects" just before it was hit, suggesting the vessel wasn't damaged by mines.
That account contradicts what the U.S. military said as it released a video Friday it said shows Iranian forces removing an unexploded limpet mine from one of the two ships that were hit.
The Japanese tanker was attacked twice Thursday, damaging the vessel and forcing all 21 crew members to evacuate.
Company president Yutaka Katada said Friday he believes the flying objects seen by the sailors could have been bullets. He denied any possibility of mines or torpedoes because the damage was above the ship's waterline. He called reports of a mine attack "false."
Katada said the crew members also spotted an Iranian naval ship nearby, but didn't specify whether that was before or after the attacks.
The tanker survived the first attack, which hit near the engine room and was followed by another, damaging the starboard side toward the back.
The U.S. military's Central Command said the video it released shows Iran's Revolutionary Guard removing an unexploded limpet mine from one of the tankers, suggesting Tehran sought to remove evidence of its involvement from the scene. Iran denies being involved and accuses the U.S. of waging an "Iranophobic campaign" against it.
The U.S. Navy rushed to assist the stricken vessels in the Gulf of Oman, off the coast of Iran, including one that was set ablaze Thursday by an explosion.
The operators of the Norwegian-owned MT Front Altair offered no immediate explanation of what happened to their vessel.
Both tankers were loaded with petroleum products, and the Front Altair burned for hours, sending up a column of thick, black smoke.
Iran has previously used mines against oil tankers in 1987 and 1988 in the "Tanker War," when the U.S. Navy escorted ships through the region.
The black-and-white video, as well as still photographs the U.S. military released, appeared to show the limpet mine on the Kokuka Courageous.
A Revolutionary Guard patrol boat pulled alongside the ship and removed the mine, Central Command spokesman Capt. Bill Urban said.
"The U.S. and the international community stand ready to defend our interests, including the freedom of navigation," Urban said. "The United States has no interest in engaging in a new conflict in the Middle East. However, we will defend our interests."
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani assailed the Trump administration Friday, accusing it of radicalizing the situation in the Mideast and pursuing an aggressive policy against his country. Rouhani spoke at a regional summit in the Kyrgyz capital of Bishkek.
He made no mention of the tankers but lashed out at Washington for walking out of Iran's nuclear deal with world powers and re-imposing sanctions on Tehran.
Tehran earlier denied involvement via a statement from its mission to the United Nations.
"The U.S. economic war and terrorism against the Iranian people as well as its massive military presence in the region have been and continue to be the main sources of insecurity and instability in the wider Persian Gulf region and the most significant threat to its peace and security," the statement said.
The suspected attacks occurred at dawn Thursday about 25 miles off the southern coast of Iran. The Front Altair, loaded with the flammable hydrocarbon mixture naphtha from the United Arab Emirates, radioed for help as it caught fire. A short time later, the Kokuka Courageous, loaded with methanol from Saudi Arabia and Qatar, also called for help.
The U.S. Navy sent a destroyer, the USS Bainbridge, to assist, said Cmdr. Joshua Frey, a 5th Fleet spokesman. He described the ships as being hit in a "reported attack," without elaborating. The U.S. military said the Bainbridge picked up the Kokuka Courageous' 21 sailors, who had abandoned ship.
Iran said Friday the fires on both ships had been contained.
Thursday's attacks drove up oil prices on world markets and fanned fears of a new U.S.-Iran confrontation.
The attacks resembled one in May targeting four oil tankers off the nearby Emirati port of Fujairah. U.S. officials similarly accused Iran of targeting the ships with limpet mines, which are magnetic and can be attached manually to the hulls of a ship. The mines disable, but don't sink, a vessel.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told journalists Thursday that the U.S. assessment of Iran's involvement was based in part on intelligence, as well as the expertise needed for the operation. It was also based on recent incidents in the region, which the U.S. also blamed on Iran, including the use of limpet mines in the Fujairah attack, he said. He also tied Iran to a drone attack by Yemen's Iranian-backed Houthi rebels on a crucial Saudi oil pipeline around the same time.
"Taken as a whole, these unprovoked attacks present a clear threat to international peace and security, a blatant assault on the freedom of navigation and an unacceptable campaign of escalating tension by Iran," Pompeo said. He didn't elaborate and took no questions.
Iran denied being involved in last month's attacks, and its foreign minister questioned the timing of Thursday's incidents, given that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was meeting Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Tehran.
Pompeo noted that Abe had asked Iran to enter into talks with Washington but Tehran "rejected" the overture.
"The supreme leader's government then insulted Japan by attacking a Japanese-owned oil tanker just outside Iranian waters, threatening the lives of the entire crew, creating a maritime emergency," Pompeo added.
At the United Nations, the Security Council held closed consultations on the tanker incidents late Thursday at the request of the United States but took no action.
Tensions have escalated in the Mideast as Iran appears poised to break the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, an accord President Trump repudiated last year. In the deal, Tehran agreed to limit its enrichment of uranium in exchange for the lifting of crippling sanctions. Now, Iran is threatening to resume enriching uranium closer to weapons-grade levels if European nations don't offer it new terms to the deal by July 7.
Already, Iran says it has quadrupled its production of low-enriched uranium. Meanwhile, U.S. sanctions have cut off opportunities for Iran to trade its excess uranium and heavy water abroad, putting Tehran on course to violate terms of the nuclear deal regardless.
Separately, Saudi Arabia said early Friday its military intercepted five drones launched by Yemen's Houthi rebels targeting the kingdom, including the Abha regional airport. The kingdom said a similar attack Wednesday on the Abha airport wounded 26 people.
VIDEO - Amazon executive on facial recognition ethics - BBC News
VideoAmazon's head of Alexa, Dave Limp tells the BBC why his team is researching how to make the voice assistant understand emotion '' and whether it could do more to make customers aware of how data is analysed by humans.
VIDEO - Seth Meyers Is Now 'The News' | Crooks and Liars
It's time to admit that the best coverage of the day's news is Seth Meyers's "Closer Look." (Open thread)
The "Amber Says What" bit on Late Night with Seth Meyers takes on the Royal Wedding.
Seth's advice in one word: Skittles!
No, really. It may be the most ironic thing ever said on network television.
More Oscar (tm) hilarity, this time from Seth Meyers...
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It's time to admit that the best coverage of the day's news is Seth Meyers's "Closer Look." (Open thread)
More than just a side item on Philly area sandwich menus.
The Daily Show has a special birthday wish for Trump: an invitation set to air on his favorite network to ''celebrate with those you love the most,'' i.e., his tweets.
Jessica Tarlov refused to toe the Fox News Trump TV line, instead uttering a true thing about Sarah Sanders' tenure as White House Press Secretary.
The "intellectual" of the right-wing noise machine loses his temper?
When the NOKO Summit 2.0 failed when the talks ended early, Trump said he walked away and many Trump supporters on TV immediately compared him to Ronald Reagan, who left talks with the Soviet Union and still prevailed in the end, but it was Kim [...]
The martyrdom the Outnumbered crew covers Sanders in is ridiculous.
Fox host Mark Levin apparently doesn't understand the definition of fascism as he rails against Nancy Pelosi for pointing out that Trump is a criminal and rails against the press, except for Fox "news," of course.
Weirdly, Trump called on Fox News' Sean Hannity to ask a question usually reserved for the WH press corps and then soon after Sean's "Reykjavik" analogy became one of the most used talking points about the failed NOKO Summit [...]
Twenty candidates divided into two nights.
VIDEO - Pelosi: Trump Is 'Involved in a Criminal Cover-Up' '' NewsWars
Two days after saying she doesn't want to talk about President Trump anymore, and that there isn't enough support to proceed with impeachment, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi slammed Trump, declaring that the President is 'involved in a criminal cover-up'.
Pelosi was responding to questions from reporters regarding Trump's comments that he would be open to using information gathered by foreign nationals on his political opponents.
''Everybody in the country should be totally appalled by what the president said last night,'' Pelosi declared. ''But he has a habit of making appalling statements. This one borders on so totally unethical that he doesn't even realize it.''
Earlier in the press conference, Pelosi said of Trump ''he does not know the difference between right and wrong, and that's probably the nicest thing I can say about him.''
Pelosi proclaimed that Trump's comments represent ''an assault on our democracy'' and that he is 'inviting foreign intervention further' in American elections.
''What is it about the Republicans in Congress, how much more can they bear of the president's unethical behavior that they think that they are honoring their oath of office?'' she asked.
When asked if she still thought it a good idea to accuse the President of being involved in a cover-up right before an infrastructure meeting, Pelosi replied ''I say almost every day that the president is involved in a criminal cover-up, he just chose to pick it up that day.''
''I've said that before and our investigation is demonstrating that,'' Pelosi added. ''I don't take any responsibility for the president's behavior except to say that we're going to hold him accountable for it.''
Responding to the outcry on Twitter, Trump defended his comments and said that Democrats' criticisms are part of the 'witch hunt' against his presidency which represents the ''worst political scandal in the history of the United States of America.''
I meet and talk to ''foreign governments'' every day. I just met with the Queen of England (U.K.), the Prince of Wales, the P.M. of the United Kingdom, the P.M. of Ireland, the President of France and the President of Poland. We talked about ''Everything!'' Should I immediately'....
'-- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 13, 2019
'....call the FBI about these calls and meetings? How ridiculous! I would never be trusted again. With that being said, my full answer is rarely played by the Fake News Media. They purposely leave out the part that matters.
'-- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 13, 2019
When Senator @MarkWarnerVA spoke at length, and in great detail, about extremely negative information on me, with a talented entertainer purporting to be a Russian Operative, did he immediately call the FBI? NO, in fact he didn't even tell the Senate Intelligence Committee of'....
'-- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 13, 2019
'....which he is a member. When @RepAdamSchiff took calls from another person, also very successfully purporting to be a Russian Operative, did he call the FBI, or even think to call the FBI? NO! The fact is that the phony Witch Hunt is a giant scam where Democrats,'...
'-- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 13, 2019
'....and other really bad people, SPIED ON MY CAMPAIGN! They even had an ''insurance policy'' just in case Crooked Hillary Clinton and the Democrats lost their race for the Presidency! This is the biggest & worst political scandal in the history of the United States of America. Sad!
'-- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 13, 2019
VIDEO - Antique 121 Year Old Dunk Tank Mouse Trap In Action - Peerless Automatic Mouse Trap - YouTube
VIDEO - BBC This Week on Twitter: ""It was announced today this show is being replaced in the autumn by a podcast. A podcast! I mean is there no limit to the depths of depravity to which BBC schedulers are prepared to sink? What is a podcast anyway?" @afn