Washington, D.C. (September 5, 2019)'--Today, Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, the Chairman of the Oversight Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy, sent a letter to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) urging the Acting Commissioner to evaluate admissions and statements made by JUUL representatives under oath, and expeditiously take all appropriate enforcement action to protect the American public from the fraudulent and unapproved medical claims made by JUUL Labs.
''Your predecessor, Scott Gottlieb, when he was Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner, pointed to JUUL as a primary cause of the epidemic,'' wrote Chairman Krishnamoorthi. ''Testimony from our hearing supports that conclusion. It demonstrates that JUUL appears to be violating FDA regulations against making unapproved express and implied claims that its product helps users stop smoking cigarettes and is safer than cigarettes.''
Testimony given by JUUL Co-Founder James Monsees and Chief Administrative Officer Ashley Gould directly relate to matters within FDA's jurisdiction and ability to act regarding JUUL's marketing of its product as a smoking cessation device and JUUL's unapproved modified risk claims. During the two-part hearing examining JUUL's role in the youth e-cigarette vaping epidemic JUUL representatives:
Made various admissions that JUUL presents its product as a smoking cessation device, which means that it should be subject to FDA regulation as a drug, device, or combination drug/device; andMade numerous unfounded and unapproved claims that its product is safer and healthier than cigarettes. In considering whether a product is being marketed as a smoking cessation device, the FDA is required to look past overt claims and determine the product's intended use, which it may do by considering ''labeling claims, advertising matter, or oral or written statements'' by the company and its representatives. It also may be shown by how the company knows that a product is actually being ''offered and used for a purpose for which it is neither labeled nor advertised.''
JUUL representatives' testimony revealed that the company:
Pitched its product as a smoking cessation device to a Native American health committee;Told children in high school to use JUUL as a smoking cessation device;Marketed its product to community-based smoking cessation groups;Presented its product as a smoking cessation device in ''switching'' ads;Told the U.S. Trade Representative that its product is a smoking cessation device;Markets its product to kids in schools as ''totally safe'' and to Native American Tribes as ''healthful;''Markets its product to employers and insurers as a way to ''save people's lives;'' andAsked the U.S. Trade Representative not to tariff JUUL consumer products because they are healthier than cigarettes.Claims that a product helps users quit smoking are ''therapeutic claims,'' subject to FDA jurisdiction under the drug/device provisions of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act). Such drugs or devices must be approved by FDA, and if they are not, they are unapproved drugs or devices being marketed illegally under the FD&C Act. FDA must consider the full picture in order to determine if therapeutic claims are being made.
Click here to read today's letter.
Why Big Tobacco and JUUL are lobbying to raise the smoking age
FDA head Scott Gottlieb, in an interview with USA TODAY's Jayne O'Donnell, announces new regulations on how and where flavored vape juice can be sold. USA TODAY
Big Tobacco and its legion of lobbyists, which fought efforts to raise the legal age to buy smoking and vaping products for years, mysteriously changed their tune in statehouses this year, instead arguing the age should be upped from 18 to 21.
Pushed by industry giants Altria, Reynolds American and Juul Labs, the maker of trendy e-cigarettes, nine states have passed ''Tobacco 21'' laws this year, and at least 10 states are considering similar legislation.
Big Tobacco and its legislative allies say they're following the lead of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in trying to fight increases in youth vaping. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., introduced federal legislation this week that would raise the tobacco age nationwide.
"We cannot fulfill our mission to provide the world's one billion adult smokers with a true alternative to combustible cigarettes, the number one cause of preventable death in this country, if youth-use continues unabated,'' Juul spokesman Ted Kwong said in an email. ''That is why we will continue to work with lawmakers across the country to enact these effective policies."
Public health groups, which first pushed for 21, claimed the latest effort is a cynical ploy from an old tobacco playbook '' playing the good guy and supporting weak statewide legislation that adds multiple exemptions, nullifies tougher local rules and ensures ineffective enforcement.
''The tobacco companies are masters at proposing or supporting bills that look good on the surface but often include provisions that are harmful to public health,'' said Vince Willmore, spokesman for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. ''This is more a PR strategy than a serious effort to prevent youth use.''
For decades, health advocacy groups such as the American Cancer Society and the Preventing Tobacco Addiction Foundation pressed to raise the age to legally buy tobacco.
Since 2016, the groups have asked officials to adopt their set of model policies. Before this year, they found success in six states and more than 300 localities. An analysis by the Center for Public Integrity's computerized bill tracker found more than 120 Tobacco 21 bills introduced in 37 states since 2013.
The health activists deployed ''model legislation,'' copycat bills typically cooked up by special interests or think tanks and passed around from state to state. Tobacco lobbyists transformed the model bills. The Center for Public Integrity, USA TODAY and The Arizona Republic are investigating the widespread use and effects of such copycat laws.
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Health groups, worried that piecemeal enforcement will make the laws meaningless, want states to pass laws that closely resemble their entire model policy. In addition to raising the tobacco purchase age, their model law defines tobacco products to include e-cigarettes and licenses stores and requires them to check the age of tobacco buyers. It requires states to check that stores comply with the law, punishes stores that don't comply and gets rid of ineffective fines for teens.
Health advocates want cities '' traditionally more strict than state legislatures on tobacco policy '' to be free to enact stronger rules, such as those in 180 localities that restrict flavored vaping liquid or menthol cigarettes.
It's important to get it right, health advocates said, because once legislators update their state's tobacco law, they are unlikely to go back and change it anytime soon. A study published in the American Journal of Public Health in 2013 showed it can take 17 years for states to update a weak tobacco law.
''We've been fighting Big Tobacco for decades now, and we have learned that when a partial policy is passed, it can take decades to come back and fix it,'' said Cathy Callaway, director of state and local campaigns for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network. ''It is in our best interest to get the best policy possible out of the gate.''
From left, Sens. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii; Dick Durbin, D-Ill.; and Todd Young, R-Ind., call for the Senate to raise the minimum age to purchase tobacco products to 21. (Photo: Erik S. Lesser/EPA-EFE)
Some of the Tobacco 21 laws backed by smoking and vaping companies leave in place weak enforcement measures, add exemptions for groups such as military members or block localities from adopting stricter rules.
A spokesman for Reynolds American said in a statement the company supports raising the tobacco age to 21 as well as penalties for retailers who sell to youth. Altria did not respond to requests for comment; the company has said elsewhere that raising the age is the most effective step for reducing youth tobacco use. Altria purchased a 35% stake in Juul in December.
Battle of the billsThis year in Arizona, Republican state Sen. Heather Carter introduced Tobacco 21 legislation similar to the health groups' model bill, but it failed to get a hearing. Juul and Altria threw their support behind an alternative bill that would raise the tobacco age to 21 but would invalidate '' or ''pre-empt'' '' some stricter local laws on smoking and vaping, such as bans on tobacco advertisements near schools or on park benches.
"It's tying the hands of city councils who are approached by citizens who want to limit the use and sale of tobacco," said Tom Savage, legislative associate for the League of Arizona Cities and Towns.
The alternative bill faced public backlash as opponents focused on how Big Tobacco favored it.
Tory Roberg, an Arizona lobbyist for both the Washington-based Vapor Technology Association and the Arizona Smoke Free Business Alliance, said she helped write the tobacco-supported bill along with the Arizona Food Marketing Alliance and the Arizona Petroleum Marketers Association. She said tobacco companies weren't involved, though a report from health advocates in 2012 detailed how grocery and convenience stores have allied with Big Tobacco on legislation nationwide. The Arizona marketing groups did not respond to requests for comment.
''We need the state to have uniform laws,'' said Roberg, many of whose clients, vape shop owners, are ex-smokers. ''They're trying to help other people quit smoking, and for them to be called 'Big Tobacco' is really frustrating for them.''
Republican state Rep. John Allen introduced the tobacco-favored bill. He did not respond to requests for comment.
''This is a compromise where the industry itself has said, 'We see the writing on the wall. Eventually, the feds, I think, are going to come in and make this 21. Let's do it proactively. Let's set up a system which the state can do that's consistent,' '' he said at a hearing in March.
Juul said it does not want extra provisions such as preemption in the Tobacco 21 bills it supports, but opponents in Arizona said what happened shows that's not the case.
''The bill is a Big Tobacco bill, what I now call Big Vape,'' said Carter, who introduced the original legislation. ''It's the same old playbook they used to advance tobacco. If they support T21, why didn't they support my T21? I had a clean T21 bill. So the only one way they want to support T21 is if they get preemption that takes the state of Arizona back by decades?''
Carter's bill stalled and is unlikely to pass. Allen's bill has advanced but still needs Senate approval.
How special interests use copycat bills to peddle laws in your statehouses. Patrick Shannahan, USA TODAY
'Blitzkrieg' approachAltria employed at least 409 lobbyists in 49 states in 2017; Reynolds had 257 in 39 states, according to the most recent complete data from the National Institute on Money in Politics. Juul had 16 that year but has staffed up: It had at least 40 lobbyists in 2018, and in the eight states that passed Tobacco 21 laws this year, state records show, Juul hired at least 13 lobbyists. Juul placed ads to support the laws in at least 23 states and the District of Columbia. Spokesman Kwong said Juul lobbies in 46 states and is ''heavily focused on supporting T21.''
Health organizations have struggled to keep up, calling tobacco's moves a ''blitzkrieg'' approach.
''We're unprepared,'' said Dr. Rob Crane, president of the Preventing Tobacco Addiction Foundation, which has coordinated health groups' Tobacco 21 efforts. ''We have been running ragged, trying to stem the tide.''
In Virginia, the Tobacco 21 law passed in February without any of the strong enforcement provisions public health advocates said were needed to make the law more than symbolic '' such as stiff fines for retailers who sell to minors. The bill was introduced with the backing of the state's most powerful officials, including Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam and Republican Speaker of the House Kirk Cox. The bill's sponsor, Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment, a Republican, asked an Altria employee to explain it to a committee instead of doing so himself, as is typical.
''Because I know nothing about smoking '' if it was alcohol, perhaps I could help you a bit, but I don't know much about it '' I am so blessed that I have Jennifer Hunter with me today, and she is the senior vice president for communications and corporate citizenship for Altria,'' Norment said. ''She is like the life preserver that is going to save me from total embarrassment.''
Norment received $16,000 in campaign contributions from Altria last year, according to data from the National Institute on Money in Politics.
Steve Baril, a lobbyist representing the vape shops of the Virginia Smoke Free Association, said his friends who lobby for Altria gave him a heads up that the bill was coming.
''Juul and Altria had done all the heavy lifting behind the scenes,'' said Baril, who opposed the bill because smokers under 21 seek out vape shops as a way to quit cigarettes. ''They clearly know what they're doing, and they were tremendously effective.''
Public health advocates said tobacco firms have pursued weak health legislation for decades. In the 1980s and '90s, as Clean Indoor Air Acts to ban smoking from restaurants became popular in states, tobacco lobbyists successfully pushed weaker versions of the laws, said Stanton Glantz, director of the University of California-San Francisco Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education. The preemption measures added to this year's crop of Tobacco 21 bills give more power to state legislatures, generally more friendly to tobacco interests than cities and counties.
In 1994, a Philip Morris employee wrote, according to documents revealed in litigation, ''We're dead serious about achieving pre-emption in all 50 states.''
This year in Arkansas, lawmakers tied a Tobacco 21 law to funding for a cancer research institute. The law contains a preemption measure that prohibits local governments from passing regulations related to tobacco sales.
''The tobacco lobby had a pretty strong presence,'' said Dr. Joseph Thompson, president of the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement, which lobbied against the preemption provision. ''We couldn't overcome those forces.''
Tobacco companies have given the primary sponsors of the bill, Rep. Andy Davis and Sen. Jonathan Dismang, both Republicans, a combined $6,400 in campaign contributions since 2012, according to data from the National Institute on Money in Politics. Juul's lobbyist in the state contributed $18,000 to balls hosted by Dismang, the Senate president pro tempore, and Speaker of the House Matthew Shepherd, according to state disclosures.
Shepherd said the Arkansas Republican Party was in charge of soliciting ball contributions. Invitations to the Senate ball said the event would benefit two charities. Dismang said the campaign and ball contributions ''were not a factor in any way'' in his work on the legislation. He and Davis said their primary goal was the cancer research funding.
Davis said he didn't understand why health groups thought preemption was bad for health. ''It's important to have your regulations consistent across the state,'' he said.
Health groups want localities to be free to enact their own tobacco control laws because it's more difficult for advocates to win smoking restrictions at the state level, where tobacco lobbyists wield great power. Cities and counties were first to pass laws such as the Clean Indoor Air Acts of the 1990s and Tobacco 21 measures before states joined the trend. Health activists said flavored vaping liquid draws kids to nicotine and preemption rules stop cities and counties from taking action on flavors.
In Utah, Republican state Rep. Steve Eliason tried twice to pass Tobacco 21 legislation before it worked this year, thanks to support from tobacco companies. Eliason said that he talked to tobacco lobbyists when drafting the bill and that they unsuccessfully pressed him to include stricter rules preventing localities from setting their own tobacco policies. He said he also talked to health advocates, who were upset the final bill did not include the strong enforcement measures they hoped for.
He called the Cancer Society's opposition to his bill ''bizarre,'' saying it was too intent on making other changes to the tobacco law other than the age.
''In their case, perfect was the enemy of good,'' he said.
Juul is among the companies pushing for a higher vaping age. (Photo: Seth Wenig, AP)
A pickle for health advocatesThe industry's change of heart has left some anti-smoking advocates in the awkward position of opposing legislation that in concept they once applauded.
Nonprofit health groups such as the American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids have backed Tobacco 21 bills because experts said most young smokers get their nicotine fix from ''social sources'' such as 18-year-old friends. Most smokers started using tobacco before age 21, studies show. In recent years, educators reported high school bathrooms full of teens ''Juuling.'' Some schools installed special vape sensors to curb the trend.
Last year, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb vowed to fight the ''epidemic'' of youth vaping after survey data showed one in five high school students using e-cigarettes '' a 78% jump from the year before.
Gottlieb resigned in March. His warnings pushed Altria to embrace raising the tobacco age.
''In light of the FDA's call to address this issue, we believe the time has come to enact legislation raising the minimum age for all tobacco products to 21 in all outlets,'' said Hunter, the Altria senior vice president, as she presented the Tobacco 21 bill to the Virginia Legislature this year. ''We are supporting this step because we believe it is the most effective step available to begin reversing the rise of underage e-vapor rates.''
Going up in smokeThe Tobacco 21 bill favored by smoking lobbyists in Arizona is still alive but has hurdles to clear as the session nears an end. If it had passed as originally written, the city of Tempe would have faced a problem: Its ban on tobacco sales within 1,320 feet of a school, park, day care facility or other public places could have been void.
To gain support, the bill was amended to limit some of the preemption language to sales and marketing and grandfather in local tobacco and vaping regulations.
The League of Arizona Cities and Towns continues to oppose the bill, saying it would bar cities from adopting new tobacco ordinances or amending existing ones to be more restrictive. It also seeks ''to limit the enforcement of smoke-free ordinances to only public property,'' which would nullify existing restrictions that prohibit smoking in cars with children, according to a League statement.
Tempe resident Genevieve Vega's stepfather, a lifetime smoker whose children and grandchildren pleaded with him to quit, recently had quintuple bypass surgery on his heart. Vega doesn't want her children, public school students, exposed to e-cigarette addiction. She said special-interest groups, lobbyists and billion-dollar industries have too much influence on Arizona laws and lawmakers.
''When things are flavored in a sweet way, that to me is parallel to the Joe Camel ads selling smoking when I was a kid,'' she said. ''It makes it cooler and more fun. I see that as potentially harmful to kids' and young people's developing brains.''
Tobacco 21 bills opposed by health advocates are in play in Louisiana, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Texas.
In Minnesota, health advocates hope their Tobacco 21 proposal doesn't get altered by Juul, which ramped up its presence in the Statehouse and fought successfully this year to water down a restriction on tobacco flavors. Ten Minnesota cities have moved to limit candy-flavored tobacco products.
''We're hopeful that legislators will continue to stand up for health,'' said Laura Smith, spokesperson for health advocacy group Clearway Minnesota. ''But obviously, we're very concerned about what we've seen in other states.''
About this reportThis story was produced as part of an ongoing collaboration between USA TODAY, the Arizona Republic and the Center for Public Integrity. More than 30 reporters across the country were involved in the two-year investigation, which identified copycat bills in every state. The team used a unique data analysis engine built on hundreds of cloud computers to compare millions of words of legislation provided by LegiScan.
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The Mysterious Vaping Illness That's 'Becoming an Epidemic' - The New York Times
An 18-year-old showed up in a Long Island emergency room, gasping for breath, vomiting and dizzy. When a doctor asked if the teenager had been vaping, he said no.
The patient's older brother, a police officer, was suspicious. He rummaged through the youth's room and found hidden vials of marijuana for vaping.
''I don't know where he purchased it. He doesn't know,'' said Dr. Melodi Pirzada, chief pediatric pulmonologist at NYU Winthrop Hospital in Mineola, N.Y., who treated the young man. ''Luckily, he survived.''
Dr. Pirzada is one of the many physicians across the country treating patients '-- now totaling more than 215 '-- with mysterious and life-threatening vaping-related illnesses this summer. The outbreak is ''becoming an epidemic,'' she said. ''Something is very wrong.''
Patients, mostly otherwise healthy and in their late teens and 20s, are showing up with severe shortness of breath, often after suffering for several days with vomiting, fever and fatigue. Some have wound up in the intensive care unit or on a ventilator for weeks. Treatment has been complicated by patients' lack of knowledge '-- and sometimes outright denial '-- about the actual substances they might have used or inhaled.
Health investigators are now trying to determine whether a particular toxin or substance has sneaked into the supply of vaping products, whether some people reused cartridges containing contaminants, or whether the risk stems from a broader behavior, like heavy e-cigarette use, vaping marijuana or a combination.
On Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a warning to teenagers and other consumers, telling them to stop buying bootleg and street cannabis and e-cigarette products, and to stop modifying devices to vape adulterated substances.
The illnesses have focused attention on a trend that has been overshadowed by the intense public concern about soaring teenage use of e-cigarettes, with its potential for hooking a new generation on nicotine: the rise of the vaping device itself. It has introduced a wholesale change in how people consume nicotine or marijuana, by inhaling vaporized ingredients.
Vaping works by heating liquid and turning it into steam to be inhaled. Broadly speaking, e-cigarettes are considered less harmful than traditional cigarettes, which work through the combustion of tobacco that sends thousands of chemicals, many carcinogenic, into the lungs.
But vaping has its own problems: Nicotine or THC, the high-inducing chemical in marijuana, is mixed with solvents that dissolve and deliver the drugs. The solvents, or oils, heat up during aerosolization to become vapor. But some oil droplets may be left over as the liquid cools back down, and inhaling those drops may cause breathing problems and lung inflammation.
''Inhaling oil into your lungs is extremely dangerous behavior that could result in death,'' said Thomas Eissenberg, who studies vaping at Virginia Commonwealth University. ''That is probably the biggest message we can get out of this.''
Many vaping ingredients are not listed on the products. Vitamin E oil appears to have been a common substance associated with the severe and sudden respiratory problems in some of the New York cases, according to state health officials. It is not known how it was used. Vitamin E is sometimes advertised as a supplement in cannabidiol oil, which is not designed for vaping but has been used that way.
Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, said he suspected a link to illicit products '-- perhaps related to ingredients including THC '-- because the main manufacturers of e-cigarettes had not suddenly altered their ingredients on a wide scale. ''It's probably something new that has been introduced into the market by an illegal manufacturer, either a new flavor or a new way to emulsify THC that is causing these injuries,'' he said.
Image Vaping, said Dr. Melodi Pirzada, a pediatric pulmonologist on Long Island, ''is very, very dangerous. We already have one death in Illinois and we don't need more.'' Credit Johnny Milano for The New York Times The outbreaks have created a crisis for two emerging industries '-- e-cigarettes and legal cannabis '-- that have pitched themselves as beneficial to public health. E-cigarette supporters consider the technology a safer alternative to smoking, while cannabis has been sold politically as ''medical marijuana'' and as a substitute for tobacco growers.
Now some subset of these products is causing a serious lung disease that even cigarettes, while lethal in the long run, don't cause in young people. Lobbyists and company officials in both industries are scrambling to blame unregulated products.
The spate of illnesses has made news again of Juul Labs, maker of the blockbuster e-cigarette device blamed for the surge in teenage vaping. In a television interview, Kevin Burns, the company's chief executive, said he did not know of evidence linking the recent cases to Juul's products.
On lung scans, the illnesses look at first like a serious viral or bacterial pneumonia, but tests show no infection. ''We've run all these tests looking for bacteria, looking for viruses and coming up negative,'' said Dr. Dixie Harris, a critical care pulmonologist in Salt Lake City, who has consulted on four such patients and reviewed case files of nine others in the state.
On Aug. 6, Dr. Harris was working in a Salt Lake City-area hospital '-- she declined to provide more detail in order to protect patient privacy rights '-- when she was called to the intensive care unit to consult on a patient with the severe lung ailment.
The patient was in his 20s and a heavy e-cigarette user who also vaped THC.
She later consulted with two dozen hospitals around the state on patients with difficult pulmonary or critical care issues. ''I saw a second case,'' she said. ''I'm like, 'Wait a second, this is weird '-- two hospitals, two young people, almost identical story.'''
The next morning, she called Dr. Joseph Miner, the chief medical officer for the Utah state health department, who told her he would try to figure out what was going on.
In the ensuing weeks, Dr. Harris saw two other patients firsthand and reviewed nine other cases for the hospital group where she works, Intermountain Healthcare, which has 24 hospitals in Utah and Idaho. She said the first 10 cases were from eight different hospitals; over all, the state of Utah reported 21 cases.
Dr. Harris said that the four patients she had been directly involved with ''have been doing e-cigarettes with nicotine constantly, like round the clock. Maybe there's some sort of accelerant effect causing inflammation in the lung caused by the THC oil.'' She added that her interviews with patients suggested they were getting the marijuana liquid from friends in states with legal supplies of the drug, like California and Colorado.
Some patients are suffering from another condition known as lipoid pneumonia, doctors said. When vaped oils get into the lungs, the lungs treat them as a foreign object and mount an immune response, resulting in inflammation and the buildup of liquids, which can cause lipoid pneumonia.
Image A CT scan of a vaping injury patient, looking up from the patient's feet, with the cloudy areas in the lungs showing damage. Credit Intermountain Healthcare The surge in these illnesses comes at the start of a school year, one in which parents, teachers and administrators had already braced for the challenge of educating in the age of the vape pen, which is easy to conceal.
While educator and parental concern has focused on Juul, the reality is that the market for vaping devices and the liquids that fill them is vast and filled with counterfeiters and do-it-yourselfers, making it hard for regulators and scientists to home in on a specific product.
The Vapor Technology Association, an e-cigarette and vaping industry trade group, asked ''public officials to thoroughly investigate the circumstances which might have led to each reported hospitalization before making statements to the public as to whether certain products are implicated in these incidents.''
The regulation and study of the marijuana industry is particularly complex. Even though the federal government still considers cannabis a controlled substance, 33 states now allow it to be sold for either recreational or medicinal purposes or both. Hundreds of cannabis products are sold, legally and illegally, such as THC oil, or cannabis oil with THC.
The Food and Drug Administration has warned some sellers of cannabis product supplements not to make health claims, but more are doing so than the agency can keep up with. The F.D.A. oversees CBD products sold as dietary supplements, but does not regulate THC, which is illegal under federal law. Liquid nicotine and THC, sometimes sold in cartridges for use in vaping devices, can each contain oils that may be safe to swallow but can damage the lung when vaporized into a mix of unknown chemicals.
Image Vaping devices confiscated from students at a middle school in Boulder, Colo. Credit Nick Cote for The New York Times Image E-cigarettes accessories for sale in a store in Manhattan. Credit Jeenah Moon for The New York Times While e-cigarettes have been presumed less harmful over the long run than cigarettes, the ultimate impact from years of vaping is simply not yet known.
Mr. Eissenberg, director of the Center for the Study of Tobacco Products at Virginia Commonwealth University, said seven cases of similar lung injuries from e-cigarette vaping had been reported in previous years.
''A common ingredient was vegetable glycerin, which is made from vegetable oil,'' he said. ''If there is some incomplete process, there can be oil left in the vegetable glycerin when that person is using it, and inhaling oil and getting oil into your lungs is what is causing some of the lung injuries we see.''
''Basically what the F.D.A. should be doing is testing every one of these liquids to see if they have any oil at all and making a regulation that would ban oil in any of these products, whether it is a THC product or a nicotine product,'' said Mr. Eissenberg, who is researching vaping with a grant from the agency.
Image A Juul user in San Francisco. Credit Jason Henry for The New York Times Dr. Nora D. Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, a part of the National Institutes of Health, said she was surprised at the severity of the lung disease involved in this summer's cases, but not by the possibility that vaping products were causing such illnesses.
''There is no oversight,'' Dr. Volkow said. ''No one is actually evaluating the products to see whether they are pure, or if they contain toxic substances. There has to be some way of regulating them.''
The Long Island teenager, who was on a ventilator at one point, has a long road to recovery and doctors still haven't identified the cause of his illness.
''They tested for infectious diseases. They tested for bacteria. They tested for a host of issues. It all came back negative,'' his father said. He requested anonymity to protect the identity of his son. ''We were helpless. We didn't know what to do. The doctors didn't know what to do. They would treat the symptoms first and figure out what was killing him later.''
In Illinois, a woman in her 30s who had recently vaped was hospitalized and died, health officials said on Aug. 23.
Another recent case involves a 31-year-old Queens resident named Kevin Corrales, who in late July was in the back seat of a car heading to a Long Island beach when he started gasping for air.
''It was terrifying,'' he said. ''I was really gasping. I should have been rushed to the hospital. They thought I was exaggerating.''
He called an Uber to take him home. Too tired to climb the stairs of the home he shares with his parents, he stayed in a basement room for several days, until he felt better.
That day, in the car, he had been vaping a Juul, the popular e-cigarette. But he also occasionally vapes THC oil in a separate device. ''I can buy these oils like a bag of potato chips,'' Mr. Corrales said.
''It's hard to say whether it was the THC or nicotine,'' said Mr. Corrales, who used e-cigarettes to quit smoking.
Mitch Smith contributed reporting from Chicago.
Summer's series of vaping illnesses
Matt Richtel is a best-selling author and Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter based in San Francisco. He joined The Times staff in 2000, and his work has focused on science, technology, business and narrative-driven storytelling around these issues.
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Cases of Vaping-Related Lung Illness Surge, Health Officials Say - The New York Times
Indiana announced a third death linked to the illness on Friday, Minnesota a fourth and California a fifth. State and federal health officials are working urgently to understand the causes.
Image Scans of the lungs of four patients, aged 19 to 49, showing damage to the lungs from vaping devices. Credit Credit New England Journal of Medicine Medical experts and federal health officials on Friday warned the public about the dangers of vaping and discouraged using the devices as the number of people with a severe lung illness linked to vaping more than doubled to 450 possible cases in 33 states and the number of deaths rose to five.
The Indiana Department of Health announced the third death on Friday, and hours later, officials in Minnesota confirmed that a fourth person had died. The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health is investigating a fifth death, and an official said Friday that ''vaping is a probable potential cause.'' Two other deaths, one in Illinois, the other in Oregon, had been announced previously.
''There is clearly an epidemic that begs for an urgent response,'' Dr. David C. Christiani of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health wrote in an editorial published on Friday in The New England Journal of Medicine.
The editorial called on doctors to discourage their patients from using e-cigarettes and for a broader effort to increase public awareness about ''the harmful effects of vaping.''
Officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention echoed that call in a briefing.
''While this investigation is ongoing, people should consider not using e-cigarette products,'' said Dr. Dana Meaney-Delman, who is leading the C.D.C.'s investigation into the illness.
[Read our story about the rise of this mysterious vaping-related illness that is spreading across the nation.]
The recent rise of acute lung illnesses linked to vaping has deepened concerns about the safety of the devices. E-cigarettes were intended to help smokers quit traditional cigarettes' by providing a way 'to satisfy an addiction to nicotine' without the deadly toxins that come from burning tobacco'.
But in 2018, vaping among American teenagers exploded and large numbers of young people who had never smoked started using e-cigarettes. They were especially attracted to sleek devices made and marketed by Juul Labs, which now dominates the market. A 2018 survey sponsored by the federal government found that 21 percent of high school seniors had vaped within the previous 30 days, compared to 11 percent a year earlier.
Now young people are being sickened by the new wave of lung illnesses. C.D.C. officials said they believe that some ''chemical'' is involved as the cause but they have not identified a single responsible ''device, product or substance,'' Dr. Meaney-Delman said.
Dr. Christiani wrote in The New England Journal editorial that it was not yet clear which substances were causing the damage. E-cigarette fluids alone contain ''at least six groups of potentially toxic compounds,'' he wrote, but he noted that many of the patients had also vaped substances extracted from marijuana or hemp. The mixed-up stew of chemicals might even create new toxins, Dr. Christiani suggested. The journal also published a study of two clusters of 53 cases in Wisconsin and Illinois.
What looked like scattered cases earlier this summer has become a full-fledged and widespread public health scare, leaving otherwise healthy teenagers and young adults severely ill.
The first case of the mysterious lung illness, in Illinois, came in April, indicating that the syndrome emerged earlier than the mid-June date that federal officials have often cited as the time the afflictions began.
The patients studied in Illinois and Wisconsin were typically ''healthy, young, with a median age of 19 years and a majority have been men,'' said Dr. Jennifer Layden, chief medical officer and state epidemiologist for the Illinois Department of Public Health. A third were younger than 18.
The journal article about the Illinois and Wisconsin patients said that 98 percent were hospitalized, half required admission to the intensive care unit, and a third had so much trouble breathing that they needed to be placed on ventilators.
Eighty-four percent had vaped a product including T.H.C., the high-inducing chemical in marijuana. Dr. Layden said a majority had also used a ''nicotine-based product,'' noting that there were ''a range of products and devices.''
The journal article about those cases mentions that the heating coils in vaping devices might release metal particles that could be inhaled.
''The focus of our investigation is narrowing but is still faced with complex questions,'' said Ileana Arias, the C.D.C.'s acting deputy director for noninfectious diseases. She added, ''We are working tirelessly and relentlessly.''
Mitch Zeller, the director of the Center for Tobacco Products at the Food and Drug Administration, said particular concern is developing around products that are jury-rigged by vaping retailers, or tampered with or mixed by consumers themselves. ''Think twice,'' he said, urging consumers to avoid vaping products purchased on the street or that they have made themselves.
[Read our story about the explosive growth of teenagers addicted to vaping, with no easy way to quit.]
Public health officials have underscored one fundamental point: that the surge in illnesses is a new phenomenon and not merely a recognition of a syndrome that may have been developing for years.
Indiana on Friday confirmed a third death from a severe lung illness linked to vaping shortly before officials in Minnesota confirmed a fourth. The patient, who was 65, had a history of lung disease, but state officials said his acute lung injury was linked to ''vaping illicit T.H.C. products.''
Health officials in Los Angeles County, Calif., said Friday that they had been investigating a dozen reports of lung illnesses linked to vaping, including one death, since Aug. 14. The patient who died was ''an older adult with chronic underlying health conditions,'' though ''it is clearly believed that vaping is a probable potential cause,'' Dr. Muntu Davis, a health officer with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, said at a news conference.
Most of the cases involved teens and young adults, but a third were middle-aged and older adults, Dr. Davis said. Of the 12 patients, 11 were known to have vaped T.H.C. products, he said.
''If you don't have to vape don't do it right now,'' Dr. Davis said. ''It's wise to stay away from this until we understand what the implications are.''
Two other people '-- one in Illinois, the other in Oregon, both of whom were adults '-- have died from what appears to be the same type of illness, health officials in those states have said.
Patients afflicted with the illness typically have showed up in emergency rooms with shortness of breath after several days of flulike symptoms, including high fever.
In an especially severe case in Utah, a 21-year-old man had such serious lung damage that even a ventilator could not provide enough breathing help. Doctors had to connect him to a machine that pumped oxygen directly into his bloodstream to keep him alive.
Image An image released by the New York State health department showing products that have been found to contain vitamin E acetate. Credit Mike Wren/New York State Department of Health Fluid from his lungs contained white blood cells full of fat, not from the substances he had vaped, but more likely a sort of debris from the breakdown of his lung tissue.
''We were flying in the dark with this kid,'' said Dr. Sean J. Callahan, a pulmonologist and critical care specialist at the University of Utah, and an author of a letter about six vaping patients in Utah that was published Friday in The New England Journal of Medicine.
''I thought he was going to die,'' Dr. Callahan said. ''I kept thinking, his parents were there, if this were me and my wife, how crushed we would be for something that is completely avoidable. I worry that these products are really geared toward young people and kids, and we need a call to ban these things. That's my call to action as a father and a doctor.''
The patient survived, and went home after two weeks in the hospital.
It is too soon to tell whether people with vaping injuries will recover fully, or sustain lasting lung damage, Dr. Callahan said.
He added that doctors need to take better histories of young patients who come in with pneumonialike symptoms to try to find the real cause. Some patients and their families are forthcoming about vaping, but others are not. In one case, he said, medical residents were puzzled by what could have caused the illness. He asked the patient's mother to leave the room and then, instead of asking if the patient vaped, he simply asked, ''What do you vape?'' The answer was T.H.C.
The state of New York, where 34 people have become ill, said on Thursday that vaping samples from eight of its cases showed high levels of a compound called vitamin E acetate. Investigators there are focusing on the possibility that the oily substance might be playing a key role in the illness.
However, some of the more than 100 vaping samples being examined by the federal government did not test positive for vitamin E acetate, so that compound remains only one of many possible causes of the heavy lung inflammation.
Correction:Sept. 6, 2019An earlier version of this article misidentified the affiliation of Mitch Zeller. He works for the Food and Drug Administration, not the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Matt Richtel is a best-selling author and Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter based in San Francisco. He joined The Times staff in 2000, and his work has focused on science, technology, business and narrative-driven storytelling around these issues.
Denise Grady has been a science reporter for The Times since 1998. She wrote ''Deadly Invaders,'' a book about emerging viruses. @ nytDeniseGrady
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Illness Prompts Warning to Stop E-Cigarette Use
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CDC, FDA clash on warning consumers during lung disease outbreak
The New York State Department of Health shared photos of some of the products it found to contain vitamin E acetate, a key focus of the department's investigation into potential causes of vaping-associated lung disease.
Source: New York State Department of Health
Health officials are warning consumers about a mysterious lung disease that has sickened hundreds and killed at least three people. What to avoid? That's where they disagree.
Federal health officials are reviewing 450 possible cases linked to vaping across 33 states and one territory. At least three people have died from the illness. It's too early to pinpoint what exactly is making people sick, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Food and Drug Administration representatives told reporters on a call Friday.
In many cases, people vaped both nicotine and THC, the marijuana compound that produces a high, the CDC said. Some reported using both THC and e-cigarettes while a smaller group reported using only nicotine.
Meantime, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday urged people to avoid e-cigarettes, or electronic devices that deliver nicotine. Yet the Food and Drug Administration on Friday told people to avoid THC-containing vaping products.
Dana Meaney-Delman, who is overseeing the CDC's response, said the agency recommends people not use e-cigarettes while the investigation is ongoing and until officials identify a cause.
"That broad recommendation is because we do have a diversity of products '... some containing nicotine and some containing THC," she said. "As more information comes about and we can narrow down the specific e-cigarette products, we intend to revise that."
In a consumer advisory published later Friday, the FDA warned people not to vape THC products. The advisory does not make any mention of e-cigarettes other than to encourage people to submit any product issues.
Cannabis oils are largely unregulated. States that have legalized recreational marijuana may oversee the products, but the FDA does not regulate illegal products. In absence of any oversight, the black market has flourished and with it, poor quality products.
While no one substance has been identified as the culprit, many samples showed high levels of vitamin E acetate, the FDA said. Vitamin E is typically used as a supplement or added to skincare products. But people are adding the oil and other substances to cannabis products to make the extracts form a vapor.
"You are not supposed to inhale oils into your lungs," said Dr. Melodi Pirzada, chief pediatric pulmonologist at New York University Winthrop Hospital, who has treated patients in the outbreak.
The FDA said it does not have enough data to say definitively that vitamin E oil is causing the lung injuries. Still, it recommends people do not inhale the substance.
"Because consumers cannot be sure whether any THC vaping products may contain Vitamin E acetate, consumers are urged to avoid buying vaping products on the street, and to refrain from using THC oil or modifying/adding any substances to products purchased in stores," the agency said.
Gavin Roth, a 20-year-old student at the University of California, Los Angeles, said he isn't concerned about the outbreak. He regularly uses Juul e-cigarettes but says everything he has heard indicates the illnesses are from bad "carts," or cartridges filled with THC oil.
Recreational marijuana is legal in California '-- only for adults 21 and older. Plenty of his peers are buying them from friends or dealers, he said.
"People aren't scared. They think, 'that won't happen to me,'" Roth said.
Some customers buying e-cigarettes have asked about the outbreak, said Furqan Kholani, who owns a smoke shop in Manhattan. At another store down the street, Dennis Droushiotis, 32, walked in to buy some mango e-cigarette cartridges. He said he has been using knockoff Juul pods and jokingly asked if those are the ones making people's lungs explode.
He said people keep sending him text messages about stories about the outbreak and begging him to quit. But he's not worried, he said.
"I've been vaping everything for as long as it's been a thing and I've had no problems," Droushiotis said.
Tocopheryl acetate, also known as vitamin E acetate, is a common vitamin supplement with the molecular formula C31H52O3 (for 'Î±' form). It is the ester of acetic acid and tocopherol (vitamin E). It is often used in dermatological products such as skin creams. Tocopheryl acetate is not oxidized and can penetrate through the skin to the living cells, where about 5% is converted to free tocopherol. Claims are made for beneficial antioxidant effects. Tocopheryl acetate is used as an alternative to tocopherol itself because the phenolic hydroxyl group is blocked, providing a less acidic product with a longer shelf life. It is believed that the acetate is slowly hydrolyzed after it is absorbed into the skin, regenerating tocopherol and providing protection against the sun's ultraviolet rays.
PropertiesC31H52O3Molar mass472.743 g/mol HazardsNFPA 704Except where otherwise noted, data are given for materials in their
standard state (at 25 °C [77 °F], 100 kPa).
Y verify (what is Y N ?)Infobox referencesAlthough there is widespread use of tocopheryl acetate as a topical medication, with claims for improved wound healing and reduced scar tissue, reviews have repeatedly concluded that there is insufficient evidence to support these claims. There are reports of vitamin E-induced allergic contact dermatitis from use of vitamin-E derivatives such as tocopheryl linoleate and tocopherol acetate in skin care products. Incidence is low despite widespread use.
New York State Department of Health announced Thursday that their lab tests found vitamin E acetate at ''very high levels'' in nearly all of the cannabis-containing vape liquids linked to recent vaping related lung disease outbreak. Vitamin E acetate, or alpha-tocopherol acetate, which is a less acidic, more shelf-stable form of vitamin E are used as thinning agent in bootleg THC vape carts.
References Edit ^ Linus Pauling Institute Research Report: All About E at the Wayback Machine (archived 2015-02-23) ^ Beijersbergen van Henegouwen G, Junginger H, de Vries H (1995). "Hydrolysis of RRR-alpha-tocopheryl acetate (vitamin E acetate) in the skin and its UV protecting activity (an in vivo study with the rat)". J Photochem Photobiol B. 29 (1): 45''51. doi:10.1016/1011-1344(95)90251-1. PMID 7472802. ^ Panin G, Strumia R, Ursini F (2004). "Topical alpha-tocopherol acetate in the bulk phase: eight years of experience in skin treatment". Ann. N. Y. Acad. Sci. 1031: 443''447. Bibcode:2004NYASA1031..443P. doi:10.1196/annals.1331.069. PMID 15753192. ^ Sidgwick GP, McGeorge D, Bayat A (2015). "A comprehensive evidence-based review on the role of topicals and dressings in the management of skin scarring". Arch. Dermatol. Res. 307 (6): 461''477. doi:10.1007/s00403-015-1572-0. PMC 4506744 . PMID 26044054. ^ Tanaydin V, Conings J, Malyar M, van der Hulst R, van der Lei B (2016). "The Role of Topical Vitamin E in Scar Management: A Systematic Review". Aesthet Surg J. 36 (8): 959''965. doi:10.1093/asj/sjw046. PMID 26977069. ^ Kosari P, Alikhan A, Sockolov M, Feldman SR (2010). "Vitamin E and allergic contact dermatitis". Dermatitis. 21 (3): 148''153. PMID 20487657. ^ Sun, Lena (September 7, 2019). "Contaminant found in marijuana vaping products linked to deadly lung illnesses, tests show". The Washington Post.
Exclusive: Feds Demand Apple And Google Hand Over Names Of 10,000+ Users Of A Gun Scope App
The federal order calls for the release on the data of users who downloaded apps used to calibrate scopes from a major manufacturer.
Getty ImagesOwn a rifle? Got a scope to go with it? The U.S. government might soon know who you are, where you live and how to reach you.
That's because the government wants Apple and Google to hand over names, phone numbers and other identifying data of at least 10,000 users of a single gun scope app, Forbes has discovered. It's an unprecedented move: Never before has a case been disclosed in which American investigators demanded personal data of users of a single app from Apple and Google. And never has an order been made public where the feds have asked the Silicon Valley giants for info on so many thousands of people in one go.
According to an application for a court order filed by the Department of Justice (DOJ) on September 5, investigators want information on users of Obsidian 4, a tool used to control rifle scopes made by night-vision specialist American Technologies Network Corp. The app allows gun owners to get a live stream, take video and calibrate their gun scope from an Android or iPhone device. According to the Google Play page for Obsidian 4, it has more than 10,000 downloads. Apple doesn't provide download numbers, so it's unclear how many iPhone owners could be swept up in this latest government data grab.
If the court approves the demand, and Apple and Google decide to hand over the information, it could include data on thousands of people who have nothing to do with the crimes being investigated, privacy activists warned. Edin Omanovic, lead on Privacy International's State Surveillance program, said it would set a dangerous precedent and scoop up ''huge amounts of innocent people's personal data.''
''Such orders need to be based on suspicion and be particularized'--this is neither,'' Omanovic added.
Neither Apple nor Google had responded to a request for comment at the time of publication. ATN, the scope maker, also hadn't responded.
Why the data grab?
The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) department is seeking information as part of a broad investigation into possible breaches of weapons export regulations. It's looking into illegal exports of ATN's scope, though the company itself isn't under investigation, according to the order. As part of that, investigators are looking for a quick way to find out where the app is in use, as that will likely indicate where the hardware has been shipped. ICE has repeatedly intercepted illegal shipments of the scope, which is controlled under the International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR), according to the government court filing. They included shipments to Canada, the Netherlands and Hong Kong where the necessary licenses hadn't been obtained.
''This pattern of unlawful, attempted exports of this rifle scope in combination with the manner in which the ATN Obsidian 4 application is paired with this scope manufactured by Company A supports the conclusion that the information requested herein will assist the government in identifying networks engaged in the unlawful export of this rifle scope through identifying end users located in countries to which export of this item is restricted,'' the government order reads. (The order was supposed to have been sealed, but Forbes obtained it before the document was hidden from public view.) There's no clear stipulation on the government's side to limit this to countries outside of America, though that limitation could be put in place.
It's unclear just whom ICE is investigating. No public charges have been filed related to the company or resellers of its weapons tools. Reports online have claimed ATN scopes were being used by the Taliban.
If the court signs off on the order, Apple and Google will be told to hand over not just the names of anyone who downloaded the scope app from August 1, 2017 to the current date, but their telephone numbers and IP addresses too, which could be used to determine the location of the user. The government also wants to know when users were operating the app.
The request is undeniably broad and would likely include all users of the app within America, not just users abroad who might indicate illegal shipments of the gun appendage. Tor Ekeland, a privacy-focused lawyer, said it amounted to a ''fishing expedition.'' (The DOJ hadn't responded to a request for comment at the time of publication.)
''The danger is the government will go on this fishing expedition, and they'll see information unrelated to what they weren't looking for and go after someone for something else,'' Ekeland said. He said there's a long history of that kind of behavior from the U.S. government. And he warned that the government could apply this demand to other types of app, such as dating or health apps.
''There's a more profound issue here with the government able to vacuum up a vast amount of data on people they have no reason to suspect have committed any crime. They don't have any probable cause to investigate, but they're getting access to data on them,'' Ekeland added.
Even those who've worked in government surveillance were stunned by the order. ''The idea that this data will only be used for pursuing ITAR violations is almost laughable,'' warned Jake Williams, a former NSA analyst and now a cybersecurity consultant at Rendition Infosec.
''Google and Apple should definitely fight these requests as they represent a very slippery slope. This type of bulk data grab is seriously concerning for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that the download of an application does not automatically imply the 'intended use' of the application. For instance, researchers often bulk download applications looking for interesting vulnerabilities.''
He said that if the request was granted it may also have a ''serious chilling effect on how people use the Google and Android app stores.'' He added, ''The idea that Google could be compelled to turn over, in secret, all of my identifiers and session data in its possession because I downloaded an application for research is such a broad overreach it's ridiculous.''
Though the order is unprecedented in America, non-U.S. governments have tried a similar tactic before on a grander scale. As Forbes reported, an unnamed government had asked Apple for data on 58 million users of a single app as they tried to trace a terrorist cell. Apple declined to provide the data.
Text of H.R. 4231: To amend the Fair Credit Reporting Act to clarify Federal law with respect to ... (Introduced version) - GovTrack.us
To amend the Fair Credit Reporting Act to clarify Federal law with respect to reporting certain positive consumer credit information to consumer reporting agencies, and for other purposes.
1.This Act may be cited as the Credit Access and Inclusion Act of 2019 .
2. (a)Section 623 of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (15 U.S.C. 1681s''2 ) is amended by adding at the end the following:
(f) (1)In this subsection:
(A)The term energy utility firm means an entity that provides gas or electric utility services to the public.
(B)The term utility or telecommunication firm means an entity that provides utility services to the public through pipe, wire, landline, wireless, cable, or other connected facilities, or radio, electronic, or similar transmission (including the extension of such facilities).
(2)Subject to the limitation in paragraph (3) and notwithstanding any other provision of law, a person or the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development may furnish to a consumer reporting agency information relating to the performance of a consumer in making payments'--
(A)under a lease agreement with respect to a dwelling, including such a lease in which the Department of Housing and Urban Development provides subsidized payments for occupancy in a dwelling; or
(B)pursuant to a contract for a utility or telecommunications service.
(3)Information about the usage by a consumer of any utility service provided by a utility or telecommunication firm may be furnished to a consumer reporting agency only to the extent that the information relates to the payment by the consumer for the service of the utility or telecommunication service or other terms of the provision of the services to the consumer, including any deposit, discount, or conditions for interruption or termination of the service.
(4)An energy utility firm may not report payment information to a consumer reporting agency with respect to an outstanding balance of a consumer as late if'--
(A)the energy utility firm and the consumer have entered into a payment plan (including a deferred payment agreement, an arrearage management program, or a debt forgiveness program) with respect to such outstanding balance; and
(B)the consumer is meeting the obligations of the payment plan, as determined by the energy utility firm.
(b)Section 623(c) of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (15 U.S.C. 1681s''2(c) ) is amended'--
(1)in paragraph (2), by striking or at the end;
(2)by redesignating paragraph (3) as paragraph (4); and
(3)by inserting after paragraph (2) the following:
(3)subsection (f) of this section, including any regulations issued thereunder; or
(c)Not later than 2 years after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Comptroller General of the United States shall submit to Congress a report on the impact of furnishing information pursuant to subsection (f) of section 623 of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (15 U.S.C. 1681s''2 ), as added by subsection (a) of this Act, on consumers.
Cord Cutters Need to Rescan Their Antennas Today As Nearly 1,000 OTA TV Channels Are Moving - Cord Cutters News
If you use an antenna to watch free over-the-air TV you will likely need to rescan as nearly 1,000 OTA TV stations will be changing frequencies today to make room for 5G Internet. You can check on Antenna Web to see what channels in your area will be moving.
Note: The rescan for some channel in areas affected by Hurricane Dorian will be delayed until September 11.
A few years ago, the FCC auctioned off locals forcing many channels to switch channel numbers. This auction freed up space for things like 5G. Now the time has come for many local TV stations to switch channel numbers. Starting now through the next year or so, 1,000 TV stations will be changing their TV channels with many of them making the change this fall '' meaning you will need to rescan your antenna to stay up to date. If not, you may notice some channels vanish until you rescan.
If you need help rescanning your antenna, contact the FCC help desk call center by dialing 1-888-CALLFCC (1-888-225-5322) and pressing ''6.'' The call center is staffed from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m. Eastern time, seven days a week, so consumers throughout the country can get assistance during evening and weekend hours.
You never know, you may find some new free OTA TV channels. Not that long ago I rescanned my TV and found two new channels: Laff and Comet, giving me access to great comedy and sci-fi content that I had been missing out on for some time.
Did you know we have a YouTube Channel? Every week we have a live Cord Cutting Q&A, and weekly Cord Cutting recap shows exclusively on our YouTube Channel!
Please follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more news, tips, and reviews. Need cord cutting tech support? Join our Cord Cutting Tech Support Facebook Group for help.
DMVs are selling your data and making millions, documents reportedly reveal | Fox News
Motor vehicle departments around the United States are taking drivers' personal information and selling it to a range of businesses, including private investigators, generating millions of dollars in revenue, said a scathing new report.
According to Motherboard, which obtained hundreds of pages of documents through public records requests, members of the public are likely not even aware that the data they're obligated to provide is being sold -- in some instances, to private investigators who specifically advertise they'll surveil spouses to see if they're cheating.
"You need to learn what they've been doing, when they've been doing it, who they've been doing it with and how long it has been going on. You need to see proof with your own eyes," says the website of Integrity Investigations, one private investigator company that purchases data from DMVs.
The Virginia DMV has sold data to 109 private investigator firms, while the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission has sold data to at least 16 private investigation firms, according to spreadsheets viewed by Motherboard. In addition, records obtained by the news outlet revealed that the Wisconsin DMV made more than $17 million selling drivers' data.
ACTIVISTS DEMAND FACIAL RECOGNITION BAN FOR LAW ENFORCEMENT IN MAJOR NEW PUSH
According to an investigation by Motherboard, DMVs around the country are selling drivers' personal information. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)
GOOGLE WOES: ANTITRUST CONCERNS, YOUTUBE FINE AND CULTURE CLASHES KEEP TECH GIANT ON THE HOT SEAT
Other companies, including consumer credit reporting agency Experian and research company LexisNexis, have also been beneficiaries of the DMV data, according to Motherboard.
Beyond basic privacy concerns, one expert said, there could be big implications for someone fleeing an abusive situation.
"The selling of personally identifying information to third parties is broadly a privacy issue for all and specifically a safety issue for survivors of abuse, including domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking and trafficking," Erica Olsen, director of Safety Net at the National Network to End Domestic Violence, told Motherboard.
As Motherboard notes, the data being sold varies depending on the state, but it usually includes a person's name and address; in some cases, it also includes their date of birth, ZIP code and phone number.
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The Driver's Privacy Protection Act (DPPA) of 1994, which was meant to restrict access to DMV data, has a range of exemptions -- including for the sale of information to private investigators.
No Ransom Paid in Recent Attack, Texas Says | SecurityWeek.Com
The Texas Department of Information Resources (DIR) says it is not aware of any ransom being paid to recover systems affected by a recent ransomware attack.
The incident took place on August 16, when more than 20 Texas local governments reported being infected as part of a coordinated assault. A total of 22 towns were identified as impacted by the attack.
The State Operations Center (SOC) was activated later that morning and, by August 23, all affected entities were already recovering, with business-critical services restored, DIR says.
''By day four, response teams had visited all impacted sites and state response work had been completed at more than 25% of those sites. One week after the attack began, all sites were cleared for remediation and recovery,'' DIR said in a statement published on Thursday.
To date, more than half of the impacted cities are back to operations as usual, DIR reveals.
Previous reports suggested that the attackers might have asked for $2.5 million in exchange for the decryption keys that would provide access to the encrypted data, but DIR says no money has been paid to restore impacted systems.
''DIR is unaware of any ransom being paid in this event,'' the statement reads.
The Department said previously that all evidence suggested that a single actor might have orchestrated the attack, but no additional information on the attacker or the malware used has been provided.
"Information security is everyone's responsibility. From IT providers to end users, we all must remain vigilant and practice good cyber hygiene practices,'' Nancy Rainosek, the CISO of the state of Texas, commented.
The incident is only one of the many reported over the past few years. LaPorte County (Indiana), Jackson County (Georgia), Riviera Beach (Florida), Lake City (Florida), Atlanta, and Baltimore were previously hit by ransomware, and New Bedford is the latest victim of this type of malware.
Related: Ransomware Attack Locks Out New Bedford City Data
Related: U.S. Mayors Pledge Not to Give in to Ransomware Demands
Ionut Arghire is an international correspondent for SecurityWeek.
Previous Columns by Ionut Arghire:
What is Bridgefy? The app keeping Hong Kong protestors connected
Protests in Hong Kong on 16 June. Image: paulwongkwan/Depositphotos
This week, Forbes reported that Bridgefy usage has increased by 3,685pc over the past 60 days.
As tensions in Hong Kong have mounted in recent weeks, protestors have become increasingly concerned about both censorship and eavesdropping when it comes to digital communications.
In August, there were reports that activists in Hong Kong were beginning to organise protests through less conventional means of communicating, such as Apple AirDrop and Tinder.
On one occasion, according to Business Insider, protestors were meeting in a park and police soon interrupted the assembly.
The group reportedly told police they were gathering to play Pok(C)mon GO, but meanwhile they were discussing protest methods and sharing security tips on how to deal with the police through the app's location-based chat feature.
Mesh networksIn mid-August, there were reports that many Hong Kong citizens were using off-the-grid messaging app FireChat to communicate.
Prior to the Hong Kong protests, FireChat was typically used by the likes of festival-goers who needed to communicate to people nearby. The app relies on a wireless mesh network, which means that it enables users to connect via Bluetooth, Wi-Fi or Apple's Multipeer Connectivity framework without an internet connection, enabling peer-to-peer contact.
The app allows users to send messages without signal by bouncing messages to phones nearby that are using the app, rather than bouncing them to a satellite and back again.
As long as someone is in the same mesh network as you, private messages can be sent through a chain of other users in the mesh network. Messages hop from phone to phone until they reach the intended recipient.
This system works best while users are within 100 metres of one another, but it can also be used to message people much further away.
However, FireChat and similar mesh networking apps weren't exactly designed with civil protests in mind.
Using them in these scenarios became popular in Iraq in 2014 after restrictions on internet use were introduced. The technology was also used during the 2014 protests in Hong Kong and the 2015 protests in Ecuador.
In May 2016, mesh networking was used by aid workers in the Philippines who needed to contact each other during rescue work and disaster relief, when networks in Manila were down due to weather conditions.
BridgefyWhile Hong Kong protestors predominantly used FireChat in the 2014 protests, this time around activists are opting for a similar app, Bridgefy.
Bridgefy, which is a Mexican start-up based in San Francisco, spoke to Latam List on 23 August about how there has been a very significant uptake of users on the platform in Hong Kong in recent weeks.
The company's CEO, Jorge Rios, said: ''In Hong Kong, we have seen massive peaks in downloads since the protests started. We have had more than 75,000 downloads in the past seven days, just from Hong Kong.
''This explosion of downloads even caught the attention of local media, who have been covering the messaging app's usefulness during the protest. Many people are discovering the app through this coverage and realising that Bridgefy technology powers many other apps to function without internet.''
As well as offering private messaging functionality, Bridgefy also allows users to post public broadcasts to anyone within range, regardless of whether they are in a user's contact list or not.
On 2 September, Forbes reported that Bridgefy usage has increased by 3,685pc over the past 60 days.
Speaking to Forbes about the sudden spike, Rios said ''It's a safe way for people to communicate with there being very little risk of messages being read by unwanted eyes.''
This means that the app is not just useful for helping protestors remain in correspondence in the event of an internet shutdown, but it also keeps information they are sharing relatively secure.
Protests in Hong Kong on 16 June. Image: paulwongkwan/Depositphotos
Uncle Sam admits monitoring you for these 377 words: | Sovereign Man
One of breakout standup routines from the late, great George Carlin was his 1972 monologue ''Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television.'' In the presence of polite company, I shall not repeat them'... but rest assured, the routine is still hilarious to this day.
I wish I could say the same about the Department of Homeland Security'... I wish I could say this is all a big joke'... that the government's ''377 words you can never use online'' is just some stupid comedy routine.
But it's not. And you just can't make this stuff.
After vigorous resistance, the Department of Homeland Security was finally forced into releasing it's 2011 Analyst's Desktop Binder. It's a manual of sorts, teaching all the storm troopers who monitor our Internet activity all day which key words to look for.
Facebook, a.k.a. the US government's domestic intelligence center, is the primary target for this monitoring'... though it's become clear so many times before that various departments, including the NSA and FBI, are monitoring online activity ranging from search terms to emails.
Domestic spying is typically denied in public and swept under the rug. After all, it's legality has always been questionable'... if not entirely Unconstitutional.
Yet month after month it seems, there is new legislation introduced to deprive Internet users of their privacy and make the open collection of data a natural part of the online landscape.
Homeland Security's key word 'hotlist' is really no surprise'... they're just the ones to get caught.
So now we know, at least, what these goons are looking for. Sort of.
According to the manual, DHS breaks down its monitoring into a whopping 14 categories ranging from Health to Fire to Terrorism. It's a testament to how bloated the department's scope has become.
Afterwards there is a list of 377 of key terms to monitor, most of which are completely innocuous. Exercise. Cloud. Leak. Sick. Organization. Pork. Bridge. Smart. Tucson. Target. China. Social media.
Curiously, in its 'Critical Information Requirements', the manual decrees that analysts should also catalog items which may ''reflect adversely on DHS and response activities.''
Absolutely unreal. Big Brother is not just watching. He's digging, searching, reading, monitoring, archiving, and judging too.
Have you hit your breaking point yet?
= Complete list of DHS monitoring keywords =
Department of Homeland Security (DHS)Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)Coast Guard (USCG)Customs and Border Protection (CBP)Border PatrolSecret Service (USSS)National Operations Center (NOC)Homeland DefenseImmigration Customs Enforcement (ICE)AgentTask ForceCentral Intelligence Agency (CIA)Fusion CenterDrug Enforcement Agency (DEA)Secure Border Initiative (SBI)Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF)U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS)Federal Air Marshal Service (FAMS)Transportation Security Administration (TSA)Air MarshalFederal Aviation Administration (FAA)National GuardRed CrossUnited Nations (UN)AssassinationAttackDomestic securityDrillExerciseCopsLaw enforcementAuthoritiesDisaster assistanceDisaster managementDNDO (Domestic Nuclear Detection Office)National preparednessMitigationPreventionResponseRecoveryDirty bombDomestic nuclear detectionEmergency managementEmergency responseFirst responderHomeland securityMaritime domain awareness (MDA)National preparedness initiativeMilitia ShootingShots firedEvacuationDeathsHostageExplosion (explosive)PoliceDisaster medical assistance team (DMAT)Organized crimeGangsNational securityState of emergencySecurityBreachThreatStandoffSWATScreeningLockdownBomb (squad or threat)CrashLootingRiotEmergencyLandingPipe bombIncidentFacilityHazmatNuclearChemical spillSuspicious package/deviceToxicNational laboratoryNuclear facilityNuclear threatCloudPlumeRadiationRadioactiveLeakBiological infection (or event)ChemicalChemical burnBiologicalEpidemicHazardousHazardous material incidentIndustrial spillInfectionPowder (white)GasSpilloverAnthraxBlister agentChemical agentExposureBurnNerve agentRicinSarinNorth KoreaOutbreakContaminationExposureVirusEvacuationBacteriaRecallEbolaFood PoisoningFoot and Mouth (FMD)H5N1AvianFluSalmonellaSmall PoxPlagueHuman to humanHuman to AnimalInfluenzaCenter for Disease Control (CDC)Drug Administration (FDA)Public HealthToxic AgroTerror Tuberculosis (TB)AgricultureListeriaSymptomsMutationResistantAntiviralWavePandemicInfectionWater/air borneSickSwinePorkStrainQuarantineH1N1VaccineTamifluNorvo VirusEpidemicWorld Health Organization (WHO) (and components)Viral Hemorrhagic FeverE. ColiInfrastructure securityAirportCIKR (Critical Infrastructure & Key Resources)AMTRAKCollapseComputer infrastructureCommunications infrastructureTelecommunicationsCritical infrastructureNational infrastructureMetroWMATAAirplane (and derivatives)Chemical fireSubwayBARTMARTAPort AuthorityNBIC (National Biosurveillance Integration Center)Transportation securityGridPowerSmartBody scannerElectricFailure or outageBlack outBrown outPortDockBridgeCancelledDelaysService disruptionPower linesDrug cartelViolenceGangDrugNarcoticsCocaineMarijuanaHeroinBorderMexicoCartelSouthwestJuarezSinaloaTijuanaTorreonYumaTucsonDecapitatedU.S. ConsulateConsularEl PasoFort HancockSan DiegoCiudad JuarezNogalesSonoraColombiaMara salvatruchaMS13 or MS-13Drug warMexican armyMethamphetamineCartel de GolfoGulf CartelLa FamiliaReynosaNuevo LeonNarcosNarco banners (Spanish equivalents)Los ZetasShootoutExecutionGunfightTraffickingKidnapCalderonReyosaBustTamaulipasMeth LabDrug tradeIllegal immigrantsSmuggling (smugglers)MatamorosMichoacanaGuzmanArellano-FelixBeltran-LeyvaBarrio AztecaArtistic AssassinsMexiclesNew FederationTerrorismAl Qaeda (all spellings)TerrorAttackIraqAfghanistanIranPakistanAgroEnvironmental terroristEco terrorismConventional weaponTargetWeapons gradeDirty bombEnrichedNuclearChemical weaponBiological weaponAmmonium nitrateImprovised explosive deviceIED (Improvised Explosive Device)Abu SayyafHamasFARC (Armed Revolutionary Forces Colombia)IRA (Irish Republican Army)ETA (Euskadi ta Askatasuna)Basque SeparatistsHezbollahTamil TigersPLF (Palestine Liberation Front)PLO (Palestine Liberation OrganizationCar bombJihadTalibanWeapons cacheSuicide bomberSuicide attackSuspicious substanceAQAP (AL Qaeda Arabian Peninsula)AQIM (Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb)TTP (Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan)YemenPiratesExtremismSomaliaNigeriaRadicalsAl-ShabaabHome grownPlotNationalistRecruitmentFundamentalismIslamistEmergencyHurricaneTornadoTwisterTsunamiEarthquakeTremorFloodStormCrestTemblorExtreme weatherForest fireBrush fireIceStranded/StuckHelpHailWildfireTsunami Warning CenterMagnitudeAvalancheTyphoonShelter-in-placeDisasterSnowBlizzardSleetMud slide or MudslideErosionPower outageBrown outWarningWatchLighteningAidReliefClosureInterstateBurstEmergency Broadcast SystemCyber securityBotnetDDOS (dedicated denial of service)Denial of serviceMalwareVirusTrojanKeyloggerCyber Command2600SpammerPhishingRootkitPhreakingCain and abelBrute forcingMysql injectionCyber attackCyber terrorHackerChinaConfickerWormScammersSocial media
ThinkProgress, a Top Progressive News Site, Has Shut Down
ThinkProgress, the influential news site that rose to prominence in the shadow of the Bush administration and helped define progressivism during the Obama years, is shutting down.
The outlet, which served as an editorially independent project of the Democratic Party think tank Center for American Progress, will stop current operations on Friday and be converted into a site where CAP scholars can post. Top officials at CAP had been searching for a buyer to take over ThinkProgress, which has run deficits for years, and according to sources there were potentially three serious buyers in the mix recently. But in a statement to staff,Navin Nayak, the executive director of the Center for American Progress Action Fund, said the site was ultimately unable to secure a patron.
''Given that we could find no new publisher, we have no other real option but to fold the ThinkProgress website back into CAP's broader online presence with a focus on analysis of policy, politics, and news events through the lens of existing CAP and CAP Action staff experts,'' said Nayak. ''Conversations on how to do so are just beginning, but we will seek to reinvent it as a different platform for progressive change.''
A dozen ThinkProgress employees will be losing their jobs, a CAP aide said, as many who were on staff had already gone to work elsewhere and some were incorporated into the larger CAP infrastructure. Those who are being laid off will be given a severance package that runs through the end of November and health care coverage that lasts through the year, said the CAP aide.
As for the actual website, thinkprogress.org will continue to exist. But it will no longer function as an independent enterprise focused on original reporting. Instead, according to Nayak, it will be folded ''back into CAP's broader online presence'' as a sounding board for policy and political analysis by existing CAP and CAP Action staff experts.
''Conversations on how to do so are just beginning,'' said Nayak, ''but we will seek to reinvent it as a different platform for progressive change.''
Nayak did say that ClimateProgress, which started as an independent blog before merging with ThinkProgress, will be taken over by its founder, Joe Romm.
At its peak, there were few more important pieces of unapologetically progressive, online real estate than ThinkProgress. The site combined original reporting with an attack-dog mentality to target Republican lawmakers and conservative ideas. A testament to its success is found in the list of prominent alumni currently working in politics and journalism. That list includes Faiz Shakir, who now serves as Sen. Bernie Sanders' campaign manager; Amanda Terkel, the D.C. bureau chief of the Huffington Post; Nico Pitney, the political director at NowThis; Alex Seitz-Wald, a top campaign reporter for NBC News; Ali Gharib, a senior news editor at The Intercept; and Matt Yglesias, one of the founding members of Vox.
But the site suffered from editorial frictions during the Obama years, when the visions of some of the staff clashed with the larger political demands of CAP and its donors. At one point, CAP's then-CEOJen Palmieri
wrote a guest poston Yglesias' ThinkProgress blog to issue a defense of Third Way after Yglesias had criticized the centrist-Democratic group. Elsewhere, there were
rifts and tensionsover ThinkProgress posts that were critical of Israel.
In the fall of 2015, staffers at ThinkProgress unionized, in part as a means of formalizing editorial independence from CAP brass. And there was a sense that the election of Donald Trump in 2016 would spark a boomlet in material for staff to investigate and cover. In 2018, the site brought on board Jodi Enda, an alum of CNN, to serve as editor in chief, in what was presented as a movement towards more original reporting.
But editorial tensions have lingered. In April, the website posted a story and video about Sanders' personal wealth which had grown over recent years due to book sales. The presidential candidate responded in a
lacerating lettertargeting CAP for accepting corporate donations and linking the published story to the bidding of said donors.
In early May, sources told The Daily Beast that the ThinkProgress writers' union and the author of the story were concerned with the way in which Enda had handled the ordeal, including her making edits without the initial permission of the author. Enda said she publicly and privately apologized for the matter.
Adding to the problems has been a worsening financial situation for the site. Internal documents
obtainedby The Daily Beast showed ThinkProgress facing a $3-million delta between revenues and expenses in 2019, of which $350,000 had come via a shortfall in ad revenue.
Privately, staffers and some alumni argued that, with some budget reductions, CAP could continue funding operations through the reallocation of donor dollars. ThinkProgress' staff had ballooned to more than 40 before the number began to dwindle this year. And within these quarters, there has been ample suspicion as to why CAP officials have been so alarmed over the current state of financial distress when the site has lived in this limbo for virtually its entire existence.
But CAP officials said that the long-term outlook for ThinkProgress was dire. A few months ago, they let it be known that they were looking to sell the site off to a prospective buyer.
According to Nayak, CAP had ''conversations with more than 20 potential new publishers, including several extended dialogues.'' But, he added, ''broad trends'' in digital news media ''proved insurmountable in finding ThinkProgress a new home.''
Jay-Z and NFL stage first concert despite Kaepernick backlash | Music | The Guardian
The first musical event to come from a partnership between Jay-Z and the NFL was staged in Chicago on Thursday, with the rapper facing a backlash over the league's treatment of the activist and former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
Roc Nation, the company founded by Jay-Z, was announced in August as the ''live music entertainment strategist'' for the world's richest sports league, which is beginning its new season this weekend. The opening game, between the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers, was preceded by a free concert featuring Meghan Trainor and rappers Meek Mill and Rapsody.
The deal includes support for community initiatives and input on selecting performers for one of the biggest gigs in the world, the Super Bowl half-time show. Critics have accused the music mogul, who last year rapped about saying ''no to the Super Bowl'', of compromising his principles and damaging his standing as a social justice advocate by going into business with a league that appeared to ostracise the Kaepernick for sparking a protest movement against racism and police brutality.
''Now the NFL is 'championing' social justice to cover their own systemic oppression in blackballing Colin. So we will fight to get Colin's job back as well,'' Eric Reid, Kaepernick's friend and former teammate, tweeted last month. ''Jay-Z knowingly made a money move with the very people who have committed an injustice against Colin and is using social justice to smooth it over with the black community.'' He told reporters the deal was ''kind of despicable''.
Kaepernick began protesting in 2016 by sitting or kneeling when the national anthem was played before kick-off. Donald Trump, who has benefited from political donations made by at least nine current or former NFL owners, derided the actions as ''disrespecting our flag and country''.
The former quarterback, 31, has not played since he became a free agent in 2017. Kaepernick and Reid, who now plays for the Carolina Panthers, reached a confidential settlement with the NFL in February after filing complaints that teams colluded to deny them jobs because of their activism.
Jay-Z '' the first billionaire rapper, according to Forbes '' has a history of supporting social justice causes. He told reporters he had spoken to Kaepernick about the deal but the conversation would remain private. He called Kaepernick an ''iconic figure'' on CNN last year and rapped in The Carters' 2018 hit, Apeshit, ''I said no to the Super Bowl / You need me, I don't need you.''
His attitude appears to have softened. Sitting next to the NFL commissioner, Roger Goodell, at a press conference in New York last month, Jay-Z said: ''I think we've moved past kneeling. I think it's time to go on to actionable items '... We get stuck on Colin not having a job, you know what I'm saying? And this is more than that.''
Goodell framed the deal as a way for the league to improve its outreach to minority communities. More than two-thirds of NFL players are black but none of the 32 teams have black-majority owners. News of the deal with Roc Nation has led to speculation that Jay-Z, who once had a stake in the Brooklyn Nets basketball team, is interested in becoming the NFL's first black principal team owner.
''We don't want people to come in and necessarily agree with us; we want people to come in and tell us what we can do better. I think that's a core element of our relationship between the two organisations and with Jay and I personally,'' Goodell told the New York Times.
However the journalist, Bomani Jones, wrote in an essay for The Undefeated, an ESPN website: ''While Jay's support for Kaepernick was almost certainly genuine, he is in bed with Kap's primary enemies, those who fought the hardest to silence him and his message.''
The half-time show at the most recent Super Bowl was performed by Maroon 5, after Rhianna and Cardi B reportedly turned down the gig in solidarity with Kaepernick amid calls by several celebrities for a boycott. The event was under even more scrutiny than usual because it took place in Atlanta, one of the country's most important African American cultural hubs.
Kaepernick has not directly commented on the Jay-Z-NFL tie-up, though on 14 August, the same day as the news conference, he tweeted: ''Today marks the three-year anniversary of the first time I protested systemic oppression. I continue to work and stand with the people in our fight for liberation, despite those who are trying to erase the movement!''
'Ya' damn HYPOCRITES!' Kirstie Alley calls Hollywood a*shats OUT for not wanting to work with Republicans and WOW '' twitchy.com
We were so surprised to see this string of tweets from Kirstie Alley that we not only double-checked but triple-checked to make sure it was really her.
And it WAS.
Check it out '...
I refuse to be part of the Hollywood asshats who can't see that ''NOT working with Republicans'' is as stupid and NASTY as ''REFUSING to do business with gay people''..STOP ACTING above the FRAY ya damn hypocrites'...WE are the same species! let's help each OTHER ya damn yahoos ''¤¸''¤¸''¤¸
'-- Kirstie Alley (@kirstiealley) September 7, 2019
'Stop acting above the fray ya' damn hypocrites.'
Paging Debra Messing '...
I LOVE the word yahoos.. it makes my heart soar
'-- Kirstie Alley (@kirstiealley) September 7, 2019
It truly is a word we don't hear enough these days.
She also wrote about Dave Chapelle who, as you likely know, enraged many people on both the Left and the Right (but more on the Left) with his latest special. Notice she tells people if they are PC to skip it.
Do yourself a favor this weekend.. See Dave Chappell's new Netflix show.. think it's called Sticks and Stones .. whatever it's called it's SO wrong that you will be in pain laughing'...if u are PC crazy, skip it .. otherwise let er RIP ya yahoos!
'-- Kirstie Alley (@kirstiealley) September 7, 2019
YEAH, YA' YAHOOS!
Tolerance isn't standing up for what's popular .. Tolerance is understanding and implementing human rights to all humans even though you don't necessarily agree with their views. Human rights is a good place to start when seeking tolerance for one's self & others. ð¤·''¸ðððð'
'-- Kirstie Alley (@kirstiealley) September 7, 2019
We just quadruple-checked to make sure these were really coming from Kirstie's verified account '... and yup.
I thought I'd be a little bit philosophical before going to bed'... in case I croak in my sleep I wanna be remembered for more than emojis
'-- Kirstie Alley (@kirstiealley) September 7, 2019
This was so great!
Thank you Kirstie!
'-- Cheryl Werth Near (@WerthNear) September 7, 2019
And to be honest, it's so rare that we get to write a positive piece about a Hollywood type it was a breath of fresh air for this editor.
'-- Corina Michelle Stil (@coriemichelle68) September 7, 2019
Nice to see that there are people in Hollywood with some sense! ð
'-- Todd (@Todd11052917) September 7, 2019
I have a new found respect for you! Regardless of your beliefs, thank you for standing up and fighting for what's right!
'-- Katherine (@KatherineLynne9) September 7, 2019
OOF! Dan Bongino takes a very sanctimonious Bernie Sanders down a notch or two on why he REALLY got into politics
'You insufferable idiot': Candace Owens calls down the THUNDER on Jemele Hill for pushing segregation in VICIOUS back and forth
'We even have paved roads!' WaPo journo SHOCKED Manhattan, KS exists, accidentally proves how out of touch media really is
Green New Deal
A Yale psychiatrist explains the dangerous mental pathology behind Trump's unhinged 'Sharpiegate' fiasco '' Raw Story
This article was paid for by Raw Story subscribers. Not a subscriber?Try us and go ad-free for $1.Prefer to give a one-time tip? Click here.
Over the past week, as Hurricane Dorian battered the Bahamas and parts of the U.S., the news cycle was roiled by the so-called ''Sharpie-gate.'' On the one hand, President Donald Trump's original offense'--using a map doctored with a pen to suggest, falsely, that Alabama was in the path of the storm'--was relatively minor. But the president's refusal to admit he was wrong'--he doubled down on Twitter and elsewhere'--kept the story in the news all week.
''As you can see, almost all models predicted it to go through Florida also hitting Georgia and Alabama. I accept the Fake News apologies!'' he declared triumphantly.
''Just as I said, Alabama was originally projected to be hit. The Fake News denies it!'' he declared a day later.
The president's refusal to admit wrongdoing was tailor-made for the age of social media, where users generated endless sharpie-themed memes. The president has yet to admit that he made a mistake.
Raw Story spoke Dr. Bandy X. Lee about why Trump is incapable of backing down no matter how wrong he is, in a sense becoming his own worst enemy'--and the ramifications for the country beyond one silly viral moment.
Lee is a forensic psychiatrist at Yale School of Medicine. She has consulted with the World Health Organization on its public health approach to global violence prevention since 2002, has taught at Yale Law School since 2003, and is author of the textbook, ''Violence.'' In 2017, she held an ethics conference on the importance of mental health professionals to speak up and compiled the public-service book, ''The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump.'' She also convened a panel to assess the president's mental capacity as well as a working group on an expert panel for performing independent fitness-for-duty tests. Now, she is authoring a ''profile of the nation'' as a primer for psychiatric diagnosis and treatment at the societal level.
Raw Story: Manifestations of Donald Trump's mental problems do not seem to be abating. Can you comment on the latest ''Sharpiegate''?
Bandy X. Lee: Altering the course of a hurricane with a pen, heedless of the lives he may affect, shows the degree to which the president will go to avoid admitting he is wrong. The absurdity to which he will try to alter reality to fit his idealized self-image, going as far as to enlist his top homeland security adviser to back him up, is staggering. We have seen him lie to pathological levels and behave without boundaries as to criminality or cruelty to cover up his mistakes multiple times. He is a danger to national security.
Further, on our standardized mental capacity evaluation of him, he failed every criterion. This is incontrovertible: he could not be a pilot, a police officer, or a private in the military, and yet he is president of the United States.
We based this assessment on the sworn testimony of his close associates at work, which is the most ideal information for this type of exam. Not only that, we have direct interviews with those who have interacted with him, including his ghost writer Tony Schwartz and several members of New York high society. Congress members, White House officials, and his family friend have spoken to us directly. And then there were the reports of public record that are consistent with our assessment, not to mention that he has been deemed unfit in political circles, by members of both parties. He has demonstrated dangerousness in real domestic and geopolitical situations. To make matters worse, he appears to be rapidly deteriorating.
Raw Story: So do you think he can last until 2020?
Lee: Mentally, he has already not lasted. However, he and his supporters seem prepared to do anything they can to force him to continue. Donald Trump's own psychological patterns indicate that annihilating the world would be far preferable to exposing himself to humiliation'--and he has the power to do it. Since he is unlikely to win the 2020 election legitimately, we must beware of what he would be willing to do to our democracy, our nation, since he knows that a loss would make him vulnerable also to prosecution.
Raw Story: I keep asking you this, but when would it be time for the 25th amendment?
Lee: As a medical professional, this is outside my expertise. But what I can say medically is that the dangers need to be removed'--imminently'--and since they do not seem removable while he is in office, his removal seems necessary. I wish the authorities would consult us, before a truly emergent intervention becomes inevitable. Meanwhile, we have an independent, professional responsibility to warn and to protect society, and so we will redouble our educational efforts.
Raw Story: Do you think that his followers might come around?
Lee: Currently, Mr. Trump is treated as a supreme being who should not be questioned but only adored. When he tweeted that he was ''king of Israel'' and called himself ''the chosen one,'' he was also meeting the needs of his followers. He and his followers demonstrate a similar, wounded psychology that fits like lock and key, as former CIA psychiatrist Dr. Jerrold Post aptly describes in our book. This is a submissive disposition: his followers are psychologically enslaved to him, while he keenly senses what appeals to them, responding to cues from Fox News or conspiracy theories.
Raw Story: It seems like a pretty toxic dynamic'...
Lee: This dynamic is already pathological, and so it is not solvable through logic or persuasion. There needs to be a change of conditions, the most immediate one being removal of Mr. Trump from a power position. Secondarily and more long-term, there is widespread damage being done to our collective mental health by what I call ''mind-numbing'' media. Coupled with deprivation of education, health care, and dignified living standards, these create toxic conditions for mental health.
Raw Story: What's the role of right-wing media?
Extreme right-wing media actively take away the ability to think freely; studies since early on have shown that those who watch Fox News, for example, know less about what is happening than those who watch no news at all. Many more, worse outlets have arisen since, following its lead. Even in my short public appearances, I have been falsely accused of being ''unlicensed'' and ''not a psychiatrist'' by Rush Limbaugh, but these are repeated as if fact. The constant feeding of misinformation impairs the population's reality testing, causing it to behave psychotically even when it is not.
Exactly what mechanisms these media outlets employ, and how things have gotten this severe, I inadvertently discovered in a chance, close dissection of a right-wing radio talk show. It practiced all eight of Dr. Robert Jay Lifton's criteria for thought reform. I will not go into all, but the first is ''milieu control,'' tightly controlling what the listeners hear, even from the guest, and ''immunizing'' them against outside information. Another is mystical manipulation; the host planned a highly orchestrated interaction that was intended to demonstrate his superiority and to inculcate in his audience what to think. Still another is demand for purity, where you are either with them or against them, and if with them you must conform to a prescribed ideology of the group. There was use of code words that terminate thought, such as ''Democrat'' or ''liberal,'' which seemed to them to denote ''evil'' or ''sinful.'' Finally, they are programmed to accept authority over facts, such as referring to the host as ''the Great One.''
We have accepted methods for reality testing. In science we have the scientific method, in philosophy logic, in journalism a system for fact-checking, and in a democracy fairness of procedure. These are rational approaches, which pathology always seeks to undermine, making it a contest of ''equal opinions.'' It is ''winning'' that pathology wants, not fairness of process, facts, or truth. This is why allowing pathology to persist is destructive to our nation's sanity, whether one is ''for'' or ''against'' Mr. Trump.
Enjoy this piece?'... then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism '-- and we're investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston's DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We've exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We've revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and legal efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We've launched a weekly podcast, ''We've Got Issues,'' focused on issues, not tweets. And unlike other news outlets, we've decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.
Raw Story is independent. You won't find mainstream media bias here. We're not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from billionaires and corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.
We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click to donate by check.
Enjoy this piece?'... then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism '-- and we're investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston's DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We've exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We've revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We've launched a weekly podcast, ''We've Got Issues,'' focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we've decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.
Raw Story is independent. You won't find mainstream media bias here. We're not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.
We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.
This article was paid for by Raw Story subscribers. Not a subscriber?Try us and go ad-free for $1.Prefer to give a one-time tip? Click here.
(12) Brad Parscale on Twitter: "So now many on the left agree with us, the media has an agenda and is not about the news. Incredible watching the media just ERASE Yang (@ 3%). I love how MSNBC says 10 names, but just puts 9 on screen. ð¤-- https://t.co/PH
A federal agency has reversed course on the question of whether Donald Trump tweeted stale information about Hurricane Dorian potentially hitting Alabama, upsetting meteorologists around the country.
On Sunday, Trump had warned that Alabama, along with the Carolinas and Georgia, was ''most likely to be hit (much) harder than anticipated''.
The National Weather Service (NWS) in Birmingham, Alabama, tweeted later: ''Alabama will NOT see any impacts from Dorian. We repeat, no impacts from Hurricane Dorian will be felt across Alabama. The system will remain too far east.''
But the president has been adamant throughout the week that he was correct, and the White House has deployed government resources and staff to back him.
The latest defense came out Friday evening, when the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issued a statement from an unidentified spokesman stating that information provided by Noaa and the National Hurricane Center to the president had demonstrated that ''tropical-storm-force winds from Hurricane Dorian could impact Alabama''. The advisories were dated from last Wednesday, 28 August, through Monday, the statement read.
The statement also said the Birmingham NWS tweet Sunday morning ''spoke in absolute terms that were inconsistent with probabilities from the best forecast products available at the time''.
The statement from Noaa contrasts with comments the agency's spokesman, Chris Vaccaro, made last Sunday. ''The current forecast path of Dorian does not include Alabama,'' Vaccaro said at the time.
Friday's Noaa statement, released just before 5pm, points to a few graphics issued by the National Hurricane Center to support Trump's claims. The maps show percentage possibility of tropical storm force winds in the United States. Parts of Alabama were covered, usually with 5% to 10% chances, between 27 August and 3 September. Maps on 30 August grew to cover far more of Alabama, but for only 12 hours, and the highest percentage hit 20% to 30% before quickly shrinking back down.
Alabama was not mentioned in any of the 75 forecast advisories the hurricane center sent out between 27 August and 2 September.
From 28 August to 31 August, a handful of locations in Alabama were mentioned in charts that listed percentage chance of tropical storm force winds or hurricane winds, maxing out at about an 11% chance that Montgomery would get tropical storm force winds.
'So disappointing'The former National Hurricane Center director Bill Read blasted Noaa leadership Friday night on his Facebook page calling the situation ''so disappointing'' and saying he would comment because Noaa employees were ordered to be quiet.
''Either NOAA Leadership truly agrees with what they posted or they were ordered to do it. If it is the former, the statement shows a lack of understanding of how to use probabilistic forecasts in conjunction with other forecast information. Embarrassing. If it is the latter, the statement shows a lack of courage on their part by not supporting the people in the field who are actually doing the work. Heartbreaking,'' Read wrote.
Dan Sobien, president of the union representing weather service employees, tweeted on Friday: ''Let me assure you the hard working employees of the NWS had nothing to do with the utterly disgusting and disingenuous tweet sent out by NOAA management tonight.''
In a phone interview with the Guardian, he explained his deep concern over Noaa's statement, which he said was unprecedented in his decades with the NWS. (Sobien stressed that he was speaking in his capacity as president of the union and not for the NWS, which is overseen by Noaa.)
''It's unheard of that [Noaa] would '' with no scientific basis whatsoever '' undermine their own employees for political reasons. That's never happened before under any administration ... This doesn't happen. This is a scientific agency. People gather data and they make the best decisions they can make form that data.''
Sobien's union represents about 4,000 employees of the NWS, including meteorologists, flight engineers, technicians, and others.
''The NWS's job is to save people's lives, and if you undermine that authority, you're going to cost people's lives,'' he said. ''If they don't believe hurricane warnings or tornado warnings, it will cost lives. That's what Noaa's doing. It's irresponsible, managerial malpractice, and frankly someone should look into them. They have no right to be running an organization if that's what they're going to do.''
He said NWS employees were expressing displeasure on social media.
''I've seen from our own members that they're up in arms. People are asking us to do something and I don't know what to do. It's just disgusting. The whole thing is just ridiculous.''
Other meteorologists also voiced concerns about NOAA's actions on Friday.
''I am very disappointed to see this statement come out from Noaa,'' the Oklahoma University meteorology professor Jason Furtado told the Associated Press. ''I am thankful for the folks at NWS Birmingham for their work in keeping the citizens of Alabama informed and up to date on weather hazards.''
FNC:CNN:MSNBC:4PMCavuto:194Tapper:230Wallace:1845PMFive:387Blitzer:227MTPDaily:1586PMBaier:308Blitzer:221Melber:1967PMMacCallum:296Burnett:241Hardball:1738PMCarlson:537Cooper:308Hayes:2259PMHannity:494Cuomo:323Maddow:37110PMIngraham:415Lemon:310O'Donnell:27311PMBream:287Lemon:211Williams:209Total Viewers (Live+SD x 1,000)
Viewers were not particularly thrilled with CNN's splashy, seven-hour town hall on climate change, which aired Wednesday night.
Despite the presence of 10 Democratic presidential hopefuls, Fox News won the blue ribbon for the entire evening with its normal programming alone, according to early Nielsen ratings for the 5 p.m.-midnight ET time period.
And in a big way.
During the lengthy time slot, Fox News garnered 2.5 million viewers, while CNN drew 1.1 million, or less than half that number. MSNBC tallied 1.6 million.
In the all-important 25-54-year-old demographic, Fox News boasted 418,000 in the age bracket, CNN attracted 265,000 and MSNBC 245,000. When all the climate talk was done, CNN ranked third in overall viewers for the seven-hour stretch.
In the prime-time hours, Fox News also dominated the airwaves with 3.2 million viewers '-- a triple-digit advantage over CNN with 1.3 million and a double-digit advantage over MSNBC, which garnered 2.1 million.
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WMO Secretary-General Rejects Climate 'Doomsters and Extremists' - The Global Warming Policy Forum (GWPF)
The Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) says that the alarmist narrative on climate change has gone off the rails and criticised the news media for provoking unjustified anxiety. Petteri Taalas, Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO)Speaking to Finland's financial newspaper Talousel¤m¤ (''The Journal'') on 6 September 2019, Petteri Taalas called for cooler heads to prevail, saying that he does not accept arguments that the end of the world is at hand:
It is not going to be the end of the world. The world is just becoming more challenging. In parts of the globe living conditions are becoming worse, but people have survived in harsh conditions.
He also says that the Finnish discourse on climate changehas become overly doom-laden:
The atmosphere created by media has been provoking anxiety. The latest idea is that children are a negative thing. I am worried for young mothers, who are already under much pressure. This will only add to their burden.
Moreover, contrary to much of what is heard in the media, hethinks that the solution to climate change does not require people to live asceticlives. ''If you start to live like an orthodox monk'', he says, ''the world is notgoing be saved''. He stresses that standards of living should not be lowered.
And he suggests that radical environmentalists are now amajor problem:
While climate sceptisism has become less of an issue, now we are being challenged from the other side. Climate experts have been attacked by these people and they claim that we should be much more radical. They are doomsters and extremists; they make threats. Much more radical action is demanded by Extinction Rebellion movement. They demand zero emissions by 2025 and ''honest'' climate information from governments.
To Taalas, the deep greens have been abusing the reports ofthe Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, cherrypicking parts that theythink will support radical action.
The IPCC reports have been read in a similar way to the Bible: you try to find certain pieces or sections from which you try to justify your extreme views. This resembles religious extremism.
Although he is critical of right wing populists who do notaccept any climate action, he warns of what might happen if fuel taxes areraised too far, noting the protests of the French gilets jaunes.
Taalas hopes that mainstream media will become more criticaland hopes more for a more diverse presentation of views and argues that allsides should be interviewed.
We should consider critically, and with reservations, the thoughts of experts'...''
Full interview (in Finnish)
Swedish Scientist Proposes Cannibalism to Fight Climate Change
Swedish behavioural scientist Magnus S¶derlund has suggested that eating other people after they die could be a means of combatting climate change.The scientist mentioned the possibility of cannibalism during a broadcast on Swedish television channel TV4 this week about a fair in Stockholm regarding ''food of the future''.
S¶derlund is set to hold seminars at the event, entitled ''Gastro Summit '-- about the future of food'' where he intends to discuss the possibility of eating people in the name of cutting down greenhouse emissions.
According to his research, the main problem with the idea is the widespread taboo of eating human flesh and said that conservative attitudes could make it hard to convince Swedes at large to take up the practice of cannibalism.
Tissue culture ''clean meat'' already in 2018? I've long been looking forward to this.https://t.co/p41NR3NEZnWhat if human meat is grown? Could we overcome our taboo against cannibalism? An interesting test case for consequentialist morality versus ''yuck reaction'' absolutism.
'-- Richard Dawkins (@RichardDawkins) March 3, 2018
Regardless of the likely immense resistance to the idea of eating people, S¶derlund said it was important to examine different options in the name of sustainability.
S¶derlund is not alone in his call to reject the taboo of cannibalism. Last year, noted atheist and evolutionary scientist Richard Dawkins advocated for lab-grown meat and suggested it may be used to ''overcome our taboo against cannibalism''.
Psychologists Jared Piazza and Neil McLatchie of Lancaster University also questioned the taboo on cannibalism in an article for Newsweek last month but ultimately did not endorse breaking it.
Cannibalism is not the only ''alternative meat'' advocated by climate change activists. Many have embraced plant-based meat imitations, while others have put their support behind ''meat'' made of insects as a way to cut down on greenhouse emissions and save on land and water use.
Three African Men Arrested for Cannibalism in Paris Suburb https://t.co/XIW9WnPVUx
'-- Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) February 21, 2018
A YouGov poll in the UK found that 37 per cent of respondents thought that the number of food products containing insects would grow in the next ten years.
Last year in the German city of Aachen, shoppers were invited to try burgers made of buffalo worms with mixed reactions from the public.
Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)breitbart.com
The CIA, Mossad and "Epstein Network'' are Exploiting Mass Shootings
F ollowing the arrest and subsequent death in prison of alleged child sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein, a little-known Israeli tech company began to receive increased publicity, but for all the wrong reasons. Not long after Epstein's arrest, and his relationships and finances came under scrutiny, it was revealed that the Israeli company Carbyne911 had received substantial funding from Jeffrey Epstein as well as Epstein's close associate and former Prime Minister of Israel Ehud Barak, and Silicon Valley venture capitalist and prominent Trump backer Peter Thiel.
Carbyne911, or simply Carbyne, develops call-handling and identification capabilities for emergency response services in countries around the world, including the United States, where it has already been implemented in several U.S. counties and has partnered with major U.S. tech companies like Google. It specifically markets its product as a way of mitigating mass shootings in the United States without having to change existing U.S. gun laws.
Yet, Carbyne is no ordinary tech company, as it is deeply connected to the elite Israeli military intelligence division, Unit 8200, whose ''alumni'' often go on to create tech companies '-- Carbyne among them '-- that frequently maintain their ties to Israeli intelligence and, according to Israeli media reports and former employees, often ''blur the line'' between their service to Israel's defense/intelligence apparatus and their commercial activity. As this report will reveal, Carbyne is but one of several Israeli tech companies marketing themselves as a technological solution to mass shootings that has direct ties to Israeli intelligence agencies.
In each case, these companies' products are built in such a way that they can easily be used to illegally surveil the governments, institutions and civilians that use them, a troubling fact given Unit 8200's documented prowess in surveillance as a means of obtaining blackmail and Israel's history of using tech companies to aggressively spy on the U.S. government. This is further compounded by the fact that Unit 8200-linked tech companies have previously received U.S. government contracts to place ''backdoors'' into the U.S.' entire telecommunications system as well as into the popular products of major American tech companies including Google, Microsoft and Facebook, many of whose key managers and executives are now former Unit 8200 officers .
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made it no secret that placing Unit 8200 members in top positions in multinational tech companies is a ''deliberate policy'' meant to ensure Israel's role as the dominant global ''cyber power'', while also combating non-violent boycott movements targeting Israel's violations of international law and stifling the United Nations' criticisms of Israeli government policy and military operations abroad.
As Jeffrey Epstein's links to intelligence in both the United States and Israel '-- the subject of a recent four-part series exclusive to MintPress '-- began to be revealed in full, his financing of Carbyne came under scrutiny, particularly for the company's deep ties to Israeli intelligence as well as to certain Americans with known connections to U.S. intelligence. Ehud Barak's own role as both financier and chairman of Carbyne has also added to that concern, given his long history of involvement in covert intelligence operations for Israel and his long-standing ties to Israeli military intelligence.
Another funder of Carbyne, Peter Thiel, has his own company that, like Carbyne, is set to profit from the Trump administration's proposed hi-tech solutions to mass shootings. Indeed, after the recent shooting in El Paso, Texas , President Trump '-- who received political donations from and has been advised by Thiel following his election '-- asked tech companies to ''detect mass shooters before they strike,'' a service already perfected by Thiel's company Palantir, which has developed ''pre-crime software'' already in use throughout the country. Palantir is also a contractor for the U.S. intelligence community and also has a branch based in Israel.
Perhaps most disturbing of all, whatever technological solution is adopted by the Trump administration, it is set to use a controversial database first developed as part of a secretive U.S. government program that involved notorious Iran-Contra figures like Oliver North as a means of tracking and flagging potential American dissidents for increased surveillance and detention in the event of a vaguely defined ''national emergency.''
As this report will reveal, this database '-- often referred to as ''Main Core'' '-- was created with the involvement of Israeli intelligence and Israel remained involved years after it was developed, and potentially to the present. It was also used by at least one former CIA official on President Reagan's National Security Council to blackmail members of Congress, Congressional staffers and journalists, among others.
Given recent reports on the Trump administration's plan to create a new government agency to use ''advanced technology'' to identify ''neurobehavioral signs'' of ''someone headed toward a violent explosive act'' using data collected by consumer electronic devices, the picture painted by the technology currently being promoted and implemented under the guise of ''keeping Americans safe'' is deeply Orwellian. In fact, it points directly to the genesis of a far-reaching surveillance state far more extensive than anything yet seen in American history and it is being jointly developed by individuals connected to both American and Israeli intelligence.
Demystifying Carbyne Carbyne911, which will be referred to simply as Carbyne in this report, is an Israeli tech-startup that promises to revolutionize how calls are handled by emergency service providers, as well as by governments, corporations and educational institutions. Not long after it was founded in 2014 by veterans of Israeli military intelligence, Carbyne began to be specifically marketed as a solution to mass shootings in the United States that goes ''beyond the gun debate'' and improves the ''intelligence that armed emergency responders receive before entering an armed shooter situation'' by providing video-streaming and acoustic input from civilian smartphones and other devices connected to the Carbyne network.
Prior to Jeffrey Epstein's arrest in July, Carbyne had been receiving high praise from U.S. and Israeli media, with Fox News hailing the company's services as the answer to the U.S.' ''aging 911 systems'' and the Jerusalem Post writing that the company's platform offers ''hi-tech protection to social workers and school principals.'' Other reports claimed that Carbyne's services result in ''a 65% reduction in time-to-dispatch.''
Carbyne's call-handling/crisis management platform has already been implemented in several U.S. counties and the company has offices not only in the U.S. but also in Mexico, Ukraine and Israel. Carbyne's expansion to more emergency service provider networks in the U.S. is likely, given that federal legislation seeks to offer grants to upgrade 911 call centers throughout the country with the very technology of which Carbyne is the leading provider. One of the main lobby groups promoting this legislation, the National Emergency Number Association (NENA), has a ''strong relationship'' with Carbyne, according to Carbyne's website . In addition, Carbyne has also begun marketing its platform for non-emergency calls to governments, educational institutions and corporations.
Yet, what seemed like the inevitability of Carbyne's widespread adoption in the U.S. hit a snag following the recent arrest and subsequent death of sex trafficker and pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, who exploited underage girls for the purpose of obtaining ''blackmail'' on the rich and poweful, an operation that had clear ties to intelligence . Epstein, after his first arrest and light sentence for soliciting sex from a minor in 2007, was tapped by former Israeli Prime Minister and former head of Israeli military intelligence Ehud Barak, to become a key financial backer of Carbyne.
Ehud Barak, center, poses with Carbyne co-founders Alex Dizengof, Amir Elichai and Lital Leshem. Photo | Yossi Seliger
As a result of increased scrutiny of Epstein's business activities and his ties to Israel, particularly to Barak, Epstein's connection to Carbyne was revealed and extensively reported on by the independent media outlet Narativ , whose expos(C) on Carbyne revealed not only some of the key intelligence connections of the start-up company but also how the architecture of Carbyne's product itself raises ''serious privacy concerns.''
MintPress detailed many of Carbyne's main intelligence connections in Part III of the investigative series '' Inside the Jeffrey Epstein Scandal: Too Big to Fail .'' In addition to Barak '-- former Israeli prime minister and former head of Israeli military intelligence '-- serving as Carbyne's chairman and a key financer, the company's executive team are all former members of Israeli intelligence, including the elite military intelligence unit, Unit 8200, which is often compared to the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA).
Carbyne's current CEO, Amir Elichai, served in Unit 8200 and tapped former Unit 8200 commander and current board member of AIPAC Pinchas Buchris to serve as the company's director and on its board. In addition to Elichai, another Carbyne co-founder, Lital Leshem , also served in Unit 8200 and later worked for Israeli private spy company Black Cube. The only Carbyne co-founder that didn't serve in Unit 8200 is Alex Dizengof, who previously worked for Israel's Prime Minister's office.
As MintPress noted in a past report detailing Israeli military intelligence's deep ties to American tech giant Microsoft, Unit 8200 is an elite unit of the Israeli Intelligence corps that is part of the IDF's Directorate of Military Intelligence and is involved mainly in signal intelligence (i.e., surveillance), cyberwarfare and code decryption. It is frequently described as the Israeli equivalent of the NSA and Peter Roberts, senior research fellow at Britain's Royal United Services Institute, characterized the unit in an interview with the Financial Times as ''probably the foremost technical intelligence agency in the world and stand[ing] on a par with the NSA in everything except scale.''
Notably, the NSA and Unit 8200 have collaborated on numerous projects, most infamously on the Stuxnet virus as well as the Duqu malware . In addition, the NSA is known to work with veterans of Unit 8200 in the private sector, such as when the NSA hired two Israeli companies , to create backdoors into all the major U.S. telecommunications systems and major tech companies, including Facebook, Microsoft and Google. Both of those companies, Verint and Narus, have top executives with ties to Israeli intelligence and one of those companies, Verint (formerly Comverse Infosys), has a history of aggressively spying on U.S. government facilities. Unit 8200 is also known for spying on civilians in the occupied Palestinian territories for ''coercion purposes'' '-- i.e., gathering info for blackmail '-- and also for spying on Palestinian-Americans via an intelligence-sharing agreement with the NSA.
Unlike many other Unit 8200-linked start-ups, Carbyne also boasts several tie-ins to the Trump administration, including Palantir founder and Trump ally Peter Thiel '-- another investor in Carbyne. In addition, Carbyne's board of advisers includes former Palantir employee Trae Stephens, who was a member of the Trump transition team, as well as former Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff. Trump donor and New York real-estate developer Eliot Tawill is also on Carbyne's board , alongside Ehud Barak and Pinchas Buchris.
Yet, privacy concerns with Carbyne go beyond the company's ties to Israeli intelligence and U.S. intelligence contractors like Peter Thiel. For instance, Carbyne's smartphone app extracts the following information from the phones on which it is installed:
Device location, video live-streamed from the smartphone to the call center, text messages in a two-way chat window, any data from a user's phone if they have the Carbyne app and ESInet, and any information that comes over a data link , which Carbyne opens in case the caller's voice link drops out.'' (emphasis added)
According to Carbyne's website , this same information can also be obtained from any smartphone, even if it does not have Carbyne's app installed, if that phone calls a 911 call center that uses Carbyne or merely any other number connected to Carbyne's network.
Carbyne gathers data points from users' phones as well as a myriad of other web-connected devices.
Carbyne is a Next-Generation 9-11 (NG911) platform and the explicit goal of NG911 is for all 911 systems nationwide to become interconnected . Thus, even if Carbyne is not used by all 911 call centers using an NG911 platform, Carbyne will ostensibly have access to the data used by all emergency service providers and devices connected to those networks. This guiding principle of NG911 also makes it likely that one platform will be favored at the federal level to foster such interconnectivity and, given that it has already been adopted by several counties and has ties to the Trump administration, Carbyne is the logical choice.
Another cause for concern is how other countries have used platforms like Carbyne, which were first marketed as emergency response tools, for the purpose of mass surveillance. Narativ noted the following in its investigation of Carbyne:
In May, Human Rights Watch revealed Chinese authorities use a platform not unlike Carbyne to illegally surveil Uyghurs. China's Integrated Joint Operations Platform brings in a much bigger data-set and sources of video, which includes an app on people's phones. Like Carbyne, the platform was designed to report emergencies. Chinese authorities have turned it into a tool of mass surveillance.
Human Rights Watch reverse-engineered the app. The group discovered the app automatically profiles a user under 36 ''person types'' including ''followers of Six Lines'' which is the term used to identify Uyghurs. Another term refers to ''Hajj,'' the annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca. The app monitors every aspect of a user's life, including personal conversations [and] power usage, and tracks a user's movement.''
Such technology is currently used by Israeli military intelligence and Israel's domestic intelligence agency Shin Bet to justify ''pre-crime'' detentions of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank. As will be noted in greater detail later in this report, Palestinians' comments on social media are tracked by artificial intelligence algorithms that flag them for indefinite detention if they write social media posts that contain ''tripwire'' phrases such as ''the sword of Allah.''
Carbyne's platform has its own ''pre-crime'' elements, such as it's c-Records component , which stores and analyzes information on past calls and events that pass through its network. This information ''enables decision makers to accurately analyze the past and present behavior of their callers , react accordingly, and in time predict future patterns .'' (emphasis added)
Concerns have recently been raised that ''pre-crime'' technology may soon become more widely adopted in the U.S., after President Trump stated that one of his planned solutions to mass shootings in the wake of the recent tragedy in El Paso was for big tech companies to detect potential shooters before they strike.
Israeli intelligence, Blackmail and Silicon Valley Though many of the individuals involved in funding or managing Carbyne have proven ties to intelligence, a closer look into several of these players reveals even deeper connections to both Israeli and U.S. intelligence.
One of Carbyne's clearest connections to Israeli intelligence is through its chairman and one of its funders, Ehud Barak. Though Barak is best known for being a former prime minister of Israel, he is also a former minister of defense and the former head of Israeli military intelligence. He oversaw Unit 8200's operations, as well as other units of Israeli military intelligence, in all three of those positions. For most of his military and later political career, Barak has been closely associated with covert operations.
Prior to the public scrutiny of Barak's relationship to Jeffrey Epstein, following the latter's arrest this past July and subsequent death, Barak had come under fire for his ties to disgraced film mogul Harvey Weinstein. Indeed, it was Ehud Barak who put Weinstein in contact with the Israeli private intelligence outfit Black Cube, which employs former Mossad agents and Israeli military intelligence operatives, as Weinstein sought to intimidate the women who had accused him of sexual assault and sexual harassment. Former Mossad director Meir Dagan led Black Cube's board until his death in 2016 and Carbyne co-founder Lital Leshem is Black Cube's former director of marketing .
After Barak put him in contact with Black Cube's leadership, Weinstein, according to The New Yorker , used the private spy firm to '''target,' or collect information on, dozens of individuals, and compile psychological profiles that sometimes focused on their personal or sexual histories.'' In addition, The New Yorker noted that ''Weinstein monitored the progress of the investigations personally'' and ''also enlisted former employees from his film enterprises to join in the effort, collecting names and placing calls that, according to some sources who received them, felt intimidating.''
Yet, more recently, it has been Barak's close relationship to Epstein that has raised eyebrows and opened him up to political attacks from his rivals . Epstein and Barak were first introduced by former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres in 2002, a time when Epstein's pedophile blackmail and sex trafficking operation was in full swing.
Barak was a frequent visitor to Epstein's residences in New York, so often that The Daily Beast reported that numerous residents of an apartment building linked to Epstein ''had seen Barak in the building multiple times over the last few years, and nearly half a dozen more described running into his security detail,'' adding that ''the building is majority-owned by Epstein's younger brother, Mark, and has been tied to the financier's alleged New York trafficking ring.'' Specifically, several apartments in the building were ''being used to house underage girls from South America, Europe and the former Soviet Union,'' according to a former bookkeeper employed by one of Epstein's main procurers of underage girls, Jean Luc Brunel.
Barak is also known to have spent the night at one of Epstein's residences at least once, was photographed leaving Epstein's residence as recently as 2016, and has admitted to visiting Epstein's island, which has sported nicknames including ''Pedo Island,'' ''Lolita Island'' and ''Orgy Island.'' In 2004, Barak received $2.5 million from Leslie Wexner's Wexner Foundation, where Epstein was a trustee as well as one of the foundation's top donors, officially for unspecified ''consulting services'' and ''research'' on the foundation's behalf.
In 2015, Barak formed a limited partnership company in Israel for the explicit purpose of investing in Carbyne (then known as Reporty) and invested millions of dollars in the company, quickly becoming a major shareholder and subsequently the company's public face and the chairman of its board. At least $1 million of the money invested in this Barak-created company that was later used to invest in Carbyne came from the Southern Trust Company, which was owned by Jeffrey Epstein.
In July, Bloomberg reported that Epstein's Southern Trust Company is identified in U.S. Virgin Islands filings as ''a DNA database and data mining'' company. Given Carbyne's clear potential for data-mining and civilian profiling, Epstein's investment in Carbyne using this specific company suggests that Carbyne's investors have long been aware of this little advertised aspect of Carbyne's product.
In a statement to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz , Barak asserted:
I saw the business opportunity and registered a partnership in my control in Israel. A small number of people I know invest in it'...Since these are private investments, it wouldn't be proper or right for me to expose the investors' details.''
However, Barak later admitted that Epstein had been one of the investors.
MintPress' recent series on the Jeffrey Epstein scandal noted in detail Epstein's ties to CIA/Mossad intelligence assets, such as Adnan Khashoggi; CIA front companies, such as Southern Air Transport; and organized crime, through his close association with Leslie Wexner. In addition, Epstein's long-time ''girlfriend'' and alleged madam, Ghislaine Maxwell, has family links to Israeli intelligence through her father, Robert Maxwell. While it appears that Epstein may have been working for more than one intelligence agency, Zev Shalev, former executive producer for CBS News and journalist at Narativ , recently stated that he had independently confirmed with two unconnected sources ''closely connected to the Epstein story and in a position to know'' that Epstein had ''worked for Israeli military intelligence.''
Exclusive: We have two independent sources confirming Jeffrey Epstein worked for Israeli military intelligence. In each case the source is closely connected to the Epstein story and in a position to know. You can take it to the bank. @narativlive https://t.co/BdK1DrZEO6
'-- Zev Shalev (@ZevShalev) August 20, 2019
Notably, Epstein, who was known for his interest in obtaining blackmail through the sexual abuse of the underaged girls he exploited, also claimed to have ''damaging information'' on prominent figures in Silicon Valley. In a conversation last year with New York Times reporter James Stewart, Epstein claimed to have ''potentially damaging or embarrassing'' information on Silicon Valley's elite and told Stewart that these top figures in the American tech industry ''were hedonistic and regular users of recreational drugs.'' Epstein also told Stewart that he had ''witnessed prominent tech figures taking drugs and arranging for sex'' and claimed to know ''details about their supposed sexual proclivities.''
In the lead-up to his recent arrest, Jeffrey Epstein appeared to have been attempting to rebrand as a ''tech investor,'' as he had done interviews with several journalists including Stewart about technology investing in the months before he was hit with federal sex trafficking charges.
Jessica Lessin, editor-in-chief of The Information , told Business Insider that a journalist working for The Information had interviewed Epstein a month before his recent arrest because ''he was believed to be an investor in venture capital funds.'' However, Lessin claimed that the interview was not ''newsworthy'' and said the site had no plans to publish its contents. Business Insider claimed that the way the interviews with Epstein had been arranged ''suggests that someone in Silicon Valley may have been trying to help Epstein connect with reporters.''
Though it is unknown exactly which Silicon Valley figures were most connected to Epstein and which tech executives were potentially being blackmailed by Epstein, it is known that Epstein associated with several prominent tech executives , including Google co-founder Sergey Brin, Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, Tesla CEO Elon Musk, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, and LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman.
Last year, Epstein claimed to be advising Tesla and Elon Musk, who had been previously photographed with Epstein's alleged madam Ghislaine Maxwell. A few years ago, Epstein also attended a dinner hosted by LinkedIn's Reid Hoffman, where Musk had allegedly introduced Epstein to Mark Zuckerberg. Google's Sergey Brin is known to have attended a dinner hosted by Epstein at his New York residence where Donald Trump was also in attendance.
Elon Musk with Epstein's alleged madam Ghislaine Maxwell at an Oscars after-party on March 2, 2014. Kevin Mazur | VF14
These associations suggest that the person in Silicon Valley who was trying to boost Epstein's image as a tech investor before his arrest may have been Peter Thiel, whose Founders Fund had also invested in Carbyne. Thiel was an early investor in Facebook and is still on its board, connecting him to Zuckerberg; he is also a funder of Elon Musk's SpaceX and a former colleague of Musk's through PayPal. In addition, Thiel has ties to Reid Hoffman and both Thiel and Hoffman are prominent backers of Facebook.
It is unknown whether Epstein's ''damaging information'' and apparent blackmail on notable individuals in the American technology industry were used to advance the objectives of Carbyne, which recently partnered with tech giants Google and Cisco Systems '-- and, more broadly, the expansion of Israeli intelligence-linked tech companies into the American tech sector, particularly through the acquisition of Israeli tech start-ups linked to Unit 8200 by major U.S. tech companies.
The latter seems increasingly likely given that the father of Ghislaine Maxwell '-- one of Epstein's chief co-conspirators in his intelligence-linked sexual blackmail operation involving minors '-- was a Mossad operative who helped sell software that had been bugged by Israeli intelligence to government agencies and sensitive facilities around the world, including in the United States.
As will be noted later in this report, Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu '-- to whom all of Israel's intelligence agencies answer by virtue of his position '-- has stated on more than one occasion that the acquisition of Israeli intelligence-linked start-ups by foreign tech giants, especially in Silicon Valley, is a current and ''deliberate policy'' of the state of Israel.
Carbyne's ties to U.S. intelligence While Epstein and Barak are the two financiers of Carbyne whose ties to intelligence are clearest, another funder of Carbyne, Peter Thiel, has ties to U.S. intelligence and a history of investing in other companies founded by former members of Unit 8200. Thiel co-founded and still owns a controlling stake in the company Palantir, which was initially funded with a $2 million investment from the CIA's venture capital fund In-Q-Tel and quickly thereafter became a contractor for the CIA.
After the success of its contract with the CIA, Palantir became a contractor for a variety of federal agencies, including the FBI, the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), the National Security Agency (NSA), the Department of Homeland Security(DHS) and the military's Special Operations Command, among others. Last year, it won a contract to create a new battlefield intelligence system for the U.S. Army. Palantir is also in demand for its ''pre-crime technology,'' which has been used by several U.S. police departments. According to the Guardian , ''Palantir tracks everyone from potential terrorist suspects to corporate fraudsters, child traffickers and what they refer to as 'subversives''... it is all done using prediction.''
Thiel has gained attention in recent years for his support of President Trump and for becoming an adviser to Trump following the 2016 election, when he was ''a major force in the transition,'' according to Politico , and '' helped fill positions in the Trump administration with former staff.'' One of those former staffers was Trae Stephens, who is also on Carbyne's board of advisers. Thiel also has business ties to Trump's son-in-law and influential adviser, Jared Kushner, as well as to Kushner's brother Josh. A senior Trump campaign aide told Politico in 2017 that ''Thiel is immensely powerful within the administration through his connection to Jared.''
Thiel has also backed some prominent Israeli tech start-ups connected to Unit 8200, such as BillGuard, which Thiel funded along with former Google CEO Eric Schmidt and other investors. BillGuard was founded by Raphael Ouzan, a former officer in Unit 8200, who serves on the board of directors of Start-Up Nation Central (SUNC) alongside neoconservative American hedge fund manager Paul Singer, neoconservative political operative and adviser Dan Senor, and Terry Kassel, who works for Singer at his hedge fund, Elliott Management.
Peter Thiel greets Netanyahu during a 2017 meeting in Israel. Photo | Israel PM
SUNC is an organization founded by Paul Singer, who has donated heavily to both President Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. Since it was founded in 2012, SUNC has sought to integrate Unit 8200-connected Israeli tech start-ups into foreign companies, primarily American companies, and has helped oversee the shift of thousands of high-paying tech jobs from the U.S. to Israel.
Another Carbyne-connected individual worth noting is the former head of the Department of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff, who serves on Carbyne's board of advisers. In addition to Chertoff's ties to DHS, Chertoff's company, The Chertoff Group, employees several prominent former members of the U.S. intelligence community as principals, including Michael Hayden , former director of the CIA and former director of the NSA; and Charles Allen , former assistant director of Central Intelligence for Collection at the CIA, who worked at the agency for over 40 years.
The Chertoff Group has a long-standing and lucrative contract with the company OSI Systems, which produces full-body scanners and markets itself as a solution to mass shootings and crisis events, not unlike Carbyne. While Chertoff's company was advising OSI Systems, Chertoff went on a media blitz to promote the widespread use of the machines produced by OSI Systems and even called on Congress to ''fund a large-scale deployment of next-generation systems.'' Chertoff did not disclose his conflict of interest while publicly promoting OSI's full-body scanners.
Some have also alleged that Chertoff's mother, Livia Eisen, had links to Israeli intelligence. According to her 1998 obituary , cited by both researcher/author Christopher Bollyn and journalist Jonathan Cook, Eisen participated in the Mossad operation code-named ''Magic Carpet'' while working for Israel's El Al Airlines. Both Bollyn and Cook have suggested that Eisen's participation in this covert Israeli intelligence operation strongly indicates that she had ties to the Mossad.
Melding into Silicon Valley Beyond its troubling connections to Silicon Valley oligarchs, Israeli military intelligence and the U.S.-military industrial complex, Carbyne's recent partnerships with two specific technology companies '-- Google and Cisco Systems '-- raise even more red flags.
Carbyne announced its partnership with Cisco Systems this past April, with the latter announcing that it would begin ''aligning its unified call manager with Carbyne's call-handling platform, allowing emergency call centers to collect data from both 911 callers and nearby government-owned IoT [Internet of Things] devices .'' A report on the partnership published by Government Technology magazine stated that ''Carbyne's platform will be integrated into Cisco Kinetic for Cities, an IoT data platform that shares data across community infrastructure, smart city solutions, applications and connected devices.'' The report also noted that ''Carbyne will also be the only 911 solution in the Cisco Marketplace.''
As part of the partnership, Carbyne's President of North American Operations Paul Tatro told Government Technology that the Carbyne platform would combine the data it obtains from smartphones and other Carbyne-connected devices with ''what's available through nearby Cisco-connected road cameras, roadside sensors, smart streetlamps, smart parking meters or other devices.'' Tatro further asserted that ''Carbyne can also analyze data that's being collected by Cisco IoT devices '... and alert 911 automatically, without any person making a phone call, if there appears to be a worthy problem,'' and expressed his view that soon most emergency calls will not be made by human beings but ''by smart cars, telematics or other smart city devices.''
A few months after partnering with Cisco Systems, Carbyne announced its partnership with Google on July 10, just three days after Carbyne funder Jeffrey Epstein was arrested in New York on federal sex trafficking charges. Carbyne's press release of the partnership described how the company and Google would be teaming up in Mexico ''to offer advanced mobile location to emergency communications centers (ECCs) throughout Mexico'' following the conclusion of a successful four-week pilot program between Carbyne and Google in the Central American nation.
Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt meets Netanyahu at his Jerusalem office. Israel PM | YouTube
The press release also stated:
Carbyne will provide Google's Android ELS (Emergency Location Service) in real time from emergency calls made on Android TM devices. Deployment for any ECC in the country won't require any integration, with Carbyne providing numerous options for connection to their secure ELS Gateway once an ECC is approved. The Carbyne automated platform, requiring no human interaction, has the potential to save thousands of lives each year throughout Mexico.''
The reason Carybne's partnerships with Cisco Systems and Google are significant lies in the role that Cisco and former Google CEO Eric Schmidt have played in the creation of a controversial ''incubator'' for Israeli tech start-ups with deep ties to Israeli military intelligence, American neoconservative donor Paul Singer, and the U.S.' National Security Agency (NSA).
This company, called Team8, is an Israeli company-creation platform whose CEO and co-founder is Nadav Zafrir, former commander of Unit 8200. Two of the company's other three co-founders are also ''alumni'' of Unit 8200. Among Team8's top investors is Schmidt, the former CEO of Google, who also joined Peter Thiel in funding the Unit 8200-linked BillGuard, as well as major tech companies including Cisco Systems and Microsoft.
Last year, Team8 controversially hired the former head of the NSA and U.S. Cyber Command, Retired Admiral Mike Rogers, and Zafrir stated that his interest in hiring Rogers was that Rogers would be ''instrumental in helping strategize'' Team8's expansion in the United States. Jake Williams, a veteran of NSA's Tailored Access Operations (TAO) hacking unit, told CyberScoop :
Rogers is not being brought into this role because of his technical experience. '...It's purely because of his knowledge of classified operations and his ability to influence many in the U.S. government and private-sector contractors.''
Team8 has also been heavily promoted by Start-Up Nation Central (SUNC) . SUNC prominently features Team8 and Zafrir on the cybersecurity section of its website and also sponsored a talk by Zafrir and an Israeli government economist at the World Economic Forum, often referred to as ''Davos,'' that was attended personally by Paul Singer.
SUNC itself has deep ties to Israeli military intelligence, with former Unit 8200 officer Raphael Ouzan serving on its board of directors. Another example of SUNC-Unit 8200 ties can be seen with Inbal Arieli , who served as SUNC's Vice President of Strategic Partnerships from 2014 to 2017 and continues to serve as a senior adviser to the organization. Arieli, a former lieutenant in Unit 8200, is the founder and head of the 8200 Entrepreneurship and Innovation Support Program (EISP), which was the first start-up accelerator in Israel aimed at harnessing ''the vast network and entrepreneurial DNA of [Unit] 8200 alumni'' and is currently one of the top company accelerators in Israel, alongside Team8. Arieli was the top executive at 8200 EISP while working at SUNC and several other top SUNC staffers are also connected to Israeli military intelligence.
Thus, Google and Cisco's connections to Team8 suggests that their partnerships with another Israeli military intelligence-connected firm like Carbyne is a deepening of those two companies' links to the growing bi-national security state that is uniting key players in the U.S. military-industrial complex and Israeli intelligence.
Mossad-backed Panic Buttons, coming to a school near you Carbyne is hardly the only Israeli intelligence-linked tech company marketing itself in the United States as a solution to mass shootings. Another Israeli start-up, known as Gabriel, was founded in 2016 in response to a shooting in Tel Aviv and the Pulse Nightclub shooting in the United States, which took place just days apart.
Created by Israeli-American Yoni Sherizen and Israeli citizen Asaf Adler, Gabriel is similar to Carbyne in the sense that elements of its crisis response platform require installation on civilian smartphones as well as devices used by crisis responders. The main difference is that Gabriel also installs one or a series of physical '' panic buttons ,'' depending on the size of the building to be secured, that also double as video and audio communication devices connected to the Gabriel network.
As with Carbyne, the ties between Gabriel and Israeli intelligence are obvious. Indeed, Gabriel's four-person advisory board includes Ram Ben-Barak, former deputy director of the Mossad and former director-general of Israel's intelligence ministry; Yohanan Danino, former chief of police for the state of Israel; and Kobi Mor, former director of overseas missions for the Israeli intelligence agency Shin Bet. The only American on the advisory board is Ryan Petty, the father of a Parkland shooting victim and friend of former Florida Governor Rick Scott.
Gabriel's only disclosed funder is U.S.-based MassChallenge, a start-up accelerator non-profit. Gabriel is funded by MassChallenge's Israel branch, which was opened six months prior to Gabriel's creation and is partnered with the Israeli government and the Kraft Group. The Kraft Group is managed by Robert Kraft, who is currently embroiled in a prostitution scandal and is also a close friend of President Trump.
Notably, one of MassChallenge Israel's featured experts is Wendy Singer, the executive director of SUNC, the organization created and funded by neoconservative Trump backer Paul Singer with the explicit purpose of promoting Israel's tech start-ups and their integration into foreign, chiefly American, businesses. As was noted in a recent MintPress report on SUNC, Wendy Singer is the sister of neoconservative political operative Dan Senor, who founded the now-defunct Foreign Policy Initiative with Robert Kagan and Bill Kristol, and was previously the director of AIPAC's Israel office for 16 years.
Gabriel's founders have been quite upfront about the fact that the uptick in shootings in the U.S. has greatly aided their company's growth and success. Last November, Sherizen told The Jerusalem Post that new mass shootings in the U.S. not only increased U.S. demand for his company's product but also were opportunities to show the effectiveness of Gabriel's approach:
Unfortunately every month there seems to be another high-profile event of this nature. After the Vegas shooting, we were able to show [that] our system would have managed to identify the location of the shooter much quicker.''
The Jerusalem Post noted that Gabriel is set to make considerable profits if concern over mass shootings continues to build in the U.S., writing:
With more than 475,000 soft targets across the US and amid increasing security fears, the potential market for Gabriel is huge. The company could gain revenues of almost $1 billion if only 10% of soft targets were to invest around $20,000 in its alert systems.''
Sherizen told the Jerusalem Post :
Our starter kit costs $10,000. Depending on the size and makeup of the community building, it would cost between $20-30,000 to fully outfit the location. We have made it very affordable. This is a game-changer for the lock-down and active shooter drills that are now a standard part of any child's upbringing in the States.''
Much more than just a start-up While it is certainly possible that numerous former officials and commanders of elite Israeli intelligence agencies may have no ulterior motive in advising or founding technology start-up companies, it is worth pointing out that top figures in Israel's military intelligence agencies and the Mossad don't see it that way.
Last March, Israeli media outlet Calcalist Tech published a report entitled '' Israel Blurs the Line Between Defense Apparatus and Local Cybersecurity Hub ,'' which noted that ''since 2012, cyber-related and intelligence projects that were previously carried out in-house in the Israeli military and Israel's main intelligence arms are transferred to companies that in some cases were built for this exact purpose .'' (emphasis added)
The article notes that beginning in 2012, Israel's intelligence and military intelligence agencies began to outsource ''activities that were previously managed in-house, with a focus on software and cyber technologies .'' (emphasis added)
In some cases, managers of development projects in the Israeli military and intelligence arms were encouraged to form their own companies, which then took over the project,' an Israeli venture capitalist familiar with the matter told Calcalist Tech.''
Notably, Calcalist Tech states that the controversial company Black Cube was created this way and that Black Cube had been contracted, and is likely still contracted, by Israel's Ministry of Defense. The private security agency Black Cube is known to have two separate divisions for corporations and governments. The firm was recently caught attempting to undermine the Iran nuclear deal '-- then also a top political objective of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu '-- by attempting to obtain information on the ''financial or sexual impropriety'' (i.e., blackmail) of top U.S. officials involved in drafting the accord. NBC News noted last year that ''Black Cube's political work frequently intersects with Israel's foreign policy priorities.'' As previously mentioned, one of Carbyne's co-founders '-- Lital Leshem, also a veteran of Unit 8200 '-- worked for Black Cube prior to starting Carbyne.
The entrance to Black Cube's offices on the 26th floor of a Tel Aviv high rise, Feb. 8, 2019. Raphael Satter | AP
One of the main companies profiled in the Calcalist Tech report appeared to be a front for Israeli intelligence, as its registered owner was found not to exist: even high-level employees at the company had never heard of him; his registered addresses were for nonexistent locations in Israel's capital of Tel Aviv; and the three people with that name in Tel Aviv denied any association with the business.
This company '-- which Calcalist Tech was unable to name after the Israeli military censor determined that doing so could negatively impact Israeli ''national security'' '-- was deliberately created to service the Israeli military and Israeli intelligence. It is also ''focused on cyber technologies with expertise in research and development of advanced products and applications suitable for defense and commercial entities.'' (emphases added) In addition, the company's management consists largely of ''veterans of Israeli military technology units.''
Notably, a former employee of this company told Calcalist Tech that ''crossing the lines between military service and employment at the commercial outfit was 'commonplace' while he was working at the company.''
It's not exactly clear why Israel's military intelligence and other intelligence agencies decided to begin outsourcing its operations in 2012, though Calcalist Tech suggests the reasoning was related to the difference in wages between the private sector and the public sector, with pay being much higher in the former. However, it is notable that 2012 was also the year that Paul Singer '-- together with Netanyahu's long-time economic adviser and former chair of the Israeli National Economic Council, Eugene Kandel '-- decided to create Start-Up Nation Central.
As MintPress noted earlier this year, SUNC was founded as part of a deliberate Israeli government effort to counter the nonviolent Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) movement and to make Israel the dominant global ''cyber power.'' This policy is aimed at increasing Israel's diplomatic power and specifically undermining BDS as well as the United Nations, which has repeatedly condemned Israel's government for war crimes and violations of international law in relation to the Palestinians.
Last year, Netanyahu was asked by Fox News host Mark Levin whether the large growth seen in recent years in Israel's technology sector, specifically tech start-ups, was part of Netanyahu's plan. Netanyahu responded, ''That's very much my plan '... It's a very deliberate policy.'' He later added that ''Israel had technology because the military, especially military intelligence, produced a lot of capabilities. These incredibly gifted young men and women who come out of the military or the Mossad, they want to start their start-ups.''
Netanyahu again outlined this policy at the 2019 Cybertech Conference in Tel Aviv, where he stated that Israel's emergence as one of the top five ''cyber powers'' had ''required allowing this combination of military intelligence, academia and industry to converge in one place'' and that this further required allowing ''our graduates of our military and intelligence units to merge into companies with local partners and foreign partners.''
The direct tie-ins of SUNC to Israel's government and the successful effort led by SUNC and other companies and organizations to place former military intelligence and intelligence operatives in strategic positions in major multinational technology companies reveal that this ''deliberate policy'' has had a major and undeniable impact on the global tech industry, especially in Silicon Valley.
Mossad gets its own In-Q-Tel This ''deliberate policy'' of Netanyahu's also recently resulted in the creation of a Mossad-run venture capital fund that is specifically focused on financing Israeli tech start-ups. The venture capital fund, called Libertad, was first announced by Israel's Prime Minister's Office and was created with the explicit purpose of ''increasing the Israeli intelligence agency's knowledge base and fostering collaboration with Israel's vibrant startup scene'' It was modeled after the CIA's venture capital fund In-Q-Tel, which invested in several Silicon Valley companies turned government and intelligence contractors '-- including Google and Palantir '-- with a similar goal in mind.
Libertad declines to reveal the recipients of its funding, but announced last December that it had chosen five companies in the fields of robotics, energy, encryption, web intelligence, and natural language processing and text analysis. In regard to its interest in web intelligence, a Mossad employee told the Jerusalem Post that the intelligence agency was specifically interested in ''innovative technologies for [the] automatic identification of personality characteristics '' personality profiling '' based on online behavior and activity , using methods based on statistics, machine learning, and other areas.'' (emphasis added)
According to Libertad's website , in return for its investment, now set at NIS 2 million (~$580,000) per year per company, ''the Mossad will receive access to the IP [initial product] developed during R&D [Research and Development] while under contract, and a non-commercial, non-exclusive license to use it. Libertad's contract with the company will not provide it with any additional rights.'' In an interview with Calcalist Tech , Mossad Director Yossi Cohen told the paper that the Mossad's partnership with civilian companies in Israel is ''excellent'' and that the agency will continue to strengthen those ties.
Israeli intelligence has a documented history in placing ''backdoors'' into technology products for the purpose of surveillance, with one well-known case being Israel's repurposing of the PROMIS software, discussed in Part III of MintPress' series on Jeffrey Epstein. Furthermore, given that U.S. intelligence, specifically the NSA, had ''backdoors'' placed into the products of major Silicon Valley companies (a service performed by Israeli intelligence-linked tech companies no less), Mossad may very well plan on doing the same with the technology products of companies it backs through Libertad.
Tim Shorrock, investigative journalist and author of Spies For Hire: The Secret World of Intelligence Outsourcing , told MintPress that the Mossad's continuation of such practices through Libertad was definitely plausible, especially given what Shorrock described as the ''unusual'' choice of Libertad choosing not to release the identities of the companies in which it invests.
''The Mossad is trying to hide what they are investing in,'' Shorrock stated, adding that Libertad's secrecy ''raises a lot of questions'' particularly given that it was modeled after the CIA's In-Q-Tel. Shorrock noted that In-Q-Tel and other venture capital funds with ties to U.S. intelligence or the U.S. military rarely, if ever, hide the identities of the companies they finance.
However, Libertad is merely the latest and most public expression of the Mossad's interest in Israeli tech start-ups, the lion's share of which are created by veterans of Unit 8200 or other Israeli intelligence agencies. Indeed, former Mossad Director Tamir Pardo stated in 2017 that ''everyone'' in the Israeli cybertechnology sector is an ''alumni'' of either Israeli intelligence, like the Mossad, or Israeli military intelligence, like Unit 8200. Pardo even went as far as to say that the Mossad itself is ''like a start-up.''
Pardo himself, after leaving his post as Mossad director in 2016, dove straight into the world of Israeli tech start-ups, becoming chairman of Sepio Systems , whose two CEOs are former Unit 8200 officers. Sepio Systems' advisory board includes the former chief information security officer of the CIA, Robert Bigman; former member of the U.S. Military's Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), Geoff Hancock; and former head of the Israel National Cyber Bureau and veteran of Israeli military intelligence, Rami Efrati. Sepio Systems' cybersecurity software has been adopted by several banks, telecom and insurance companies, including in the U.S. and Brazil.
Pardo is not the only prominent figure in Israel's intelligence community to compare Israeli intelligence agencies to tech start-ups. Shin Bet Director Nadav Argaman described Israel's domestic spy agency in similar terms. ''The Shin Bet is like an evolving start-up, with unmatched strength,'' Argaman stated in a June 2017 speech, as he extolled the agency's use of ''pre-crime'' technology to detain Palestinians based on their social media activity.
Argaman, at the time, claimed that more than 2,000 Palestinians, whom he described as ''potential lone-wolf terrorists,'' had been arrested as a result of these ''breakthrough technological advances'' that use artificial-intelligence algorithms to monitor the social media accounts of Palestinians, especially younger Palestinians, for the use of ''tripwire'' phrases that have been used by Palestinians who later committed acts of violence. In the case of those who use such terms, ''their phones are tracked to see if they meet other suspects, or leave their districts to move towards potential Israeli targets. In such cases, security forces detain the suspect,'' according to a 2017 report on the practice by The Economist .
The road to fascism, paved by a corrupted PROMIS Though Israeli intelligence's interest in tech companies goes back several years, there is a well-documented history of Israeli intelligence using bugged software to surveil and gain ''backdoor'' access to government databases around the world, particularly in the United States.
As was mentioned in Part III of MintPress' Epstein series, a sinister yet cunning plan was executed to place a backdoor for Israeli intelligence into the Prosecutor's Management Information System (PROMIS) software, which was then being used by the U.S. Department of Justice and was the envy of government agencies, particularly intelligence agencies, around the world. This bugged version of PROMIS '-- born out of the collusion between Earl Brian, Ronald Reagan's then-envoy to Iran, and Rafi Eitan, then-director of the now-defunct Israeli intelligence agency Lekem '-- was seeded around the world by Brian's company Hadron as well as by Mossad-linked media mogul Robert Maxwell, father of Jeffrey Epstein's long-time girlfriend and alleged madam, Ghislaine Maxwell.
After this first PROMIS ''backdoor'' was discovered, Israel would again gain access to sensitive U.S. government communications, as well as civilian communications, thanks to the collusion between Israeli intelligence and Israeli telecom and tech companies, especially Amdocs and Comverse Infosys (now Verint) , that were operating throughout the United States. Today, Unit 8200-linked start-ups appear to have taken up the torch.
While the PROMIS software is perhaps best known for offering Israeli intelligence a backdoor into as many as 80 intelligence agencies and other sensitive locations around the world for nearly a decade, it was also used for a very different purpose by prominent officials linked to Iran-Contra.
One key Iran-Contra figure '-- Lt. Col. Oliver North, then serving on the National Security Council '-- decided to use PROMIS neither for espionage nor for foreign policy. Instead, North turned PROMIS' power against Americans, particularly perceived dissidents, a fact that remained unknown for years.
Beginning in 1982, as part of the highly classified Continuity of Government (COG) program, North used the PROMIS software at a 6,100-square-foot ''command center'' in the Department of Justice, as well as at a smaller operations room at the White House, to compile a list of American dissidents and ''potential troublemakers'' if the COG protocol was ever invoked.
According to a senior government official with a high-ranking security clearance and service in five presidential administrations who spoke to Radar in 2008 , this was:
A database of Americans, who, often for the slightest and most trivial reason, are considered unfriendly, and who, in a time of panic might be incarcerated. The database can identify and locate perceived 'enemies of the state' almost instantaneously.''
In 1993, Wired described North's use of PROMIS in compiling this database as follows:
Using PROMIS, sources point out, North could have drawn up lists of anyone ever arrested for a political protest, for example, or anyone who had ever refused to pay their taxes. Compared to PROMIS, Richard Nixon's enemies list or Sen. Joe McCarthy's blacklist look downright crude.''
The COG program defined this ''time of panic'' as ''a national crisis, such as nuclear war, violent and widespread internal dissent , or national opposition to a US military invasion abroad, '' whereby the government would suspend the Constitution, declare martial law, and incarcerate perceived dissidents and other ''unfriendlies'' in order to prevent the government's (or then-serving administration's) overthrow.
This secretive database has often been referred to as ''Main Core'' by government insiders and, most troubling of all, it still exists today . Journalist Christ Ketcham, citing senior government officials, reported in 2008 that, at that time, Main Core was believed to contain the names of as many as 8 million Americans . Eleven years later, it is highly likely that the number of Americans included in the Main Core database has grown considerably.
Author and investigative journalist Tim Shorrock also covered other disturbing aspects of the evolution of Main Core back in 2008 for Salon . At the time, Shorrock reported that the George W. Bush administration was believed to have used Main Core to guide its domestic surveillance activities following the September 11 attacks.
Citing ''several former U.S. government officials with extensive knowledge of intelligence operations,'' Shorrock further noted that Main Core '-- as it was 11 years ago at the time his report was published '-- was said to contain ''a vast amount of personal data on Americans, including NSA intercepts of bank and credit card transactions and the results of surveillance efforts by the FBI, the CIA and other agencies.''
Bill Hamilton, former NSA intelligence officer and the original creator of the PROMIS software, told Shorrock at the time that he believed that ''U.S. intelligence uses PROMIS as the primary software for searching the Main Core database'' and had been told as much by an intelligence official in 1992 and an NSA official in 1995. Dan Murphy, former deputy director at the CIA, had told Hamilton that the NSA's use of PROMIS was ''so seriously wrong that money alone cannot cure the problem.'' ''I believe in retrospect that Murphy was alluding to Main Core,'' Hamilton had told Shorrock.
Though most reporting on Main Core, from the time its existence was first revealed to the present, has treated the database as something used by the U.S. government and U.S. intelligence for domestic purposes, MintPress has learned that Israeli intelligence was also involved with the creation of the Main Core database. According to a former U.S. intelligence official with direct knowledge of the U.S. intelligence community's use of PROMIS and Main Core from the 1980s to 2000s, Israeli intelligence played a role in the U.S. government's deployment of PROMIS as the software used for the Main Core domestic surveillance database system.
Israeli intelligence remained involved with Main Core at the time of the August 1991 death of journalist Danny Casolaro, who was investigating not only the government's misuse of the stolen PROMIS software but also the Main Core database. This same official, who chose to remain anonymous, told MintPress that, shortly before his death, Casolaro had obtained copies of computer printouts from the PROMIS-based Main Core domestic surveillance database system from NSA whistleblower Alan Standorf, who was found murdered a few months before Casolaro's lifeless body would be found in a West Virginia hotel room.
The source also stated that Main Core's contents had been used for the political blackmail of members of Congress and their staff, journalists, and others by Walter Raymond, a senior CIA covert operator in psyops and disinformation who served on President Reagan's National Security Council during and after Main Core's creation. If used for this purpose by Raymond in the 1980s, Main Core has also likely been used by other individuals with access to the database for blackmailing purposes in the years since.
Given that Israeli intelligence was known to have placed a backdoor into the PROMIS software, before it was marketed and sold around the world by Earl Brian and Robert Maxwell, its role in the U.S. government's decision to use PROMIS in the creation of Main Core suggests that Israeli intelligence likely advocated for the version of PROMIS containing this backdoor, thereby giving Israeli intelligence access to Main Core. Given that Reagan aides and officials colluded with Israeli ''spymaster'' Rafi Eitan in his efforts to create a backdoor into the software for Israeli military intelligence, the use of this version of PROMIS in the Main Core database is certainly plausible.
Furthermore, the fact that Israeli intelligence was known to be involved in Main Core nearly a decade after its creation suggests that Israeli intelligence may have played a role in certain aspects of the database, such as the criteria used to flag Americans as ''unfriendly,'' and '-- like Walter Raymond '-- may have used information in the database to blackmail Americans. In addition, the fact that the cooperation between U.S. and Israeli intelligence, particularly between Unit 8200 and the NSA, has only grown since 1991 further suggests that Israeli involvement in Main Core continues to the present.
While Main Core's very existence is troubling for many reasons, the alleged involvement of a foreign intelligence service in the creation, expansion and maintenance of a database with personal details and potentially damaging information on millions of Americans targeted for detention or increased surveillance in times of crisis is chilling. It is especially so considering that the Trump administration's latest proposals to prevent mass shootings before they occur are likely to use Main Core to flag certain Americans for increased surveillance or potentially detention, as was done by the George W. Bush administration following the September 11 attacks.
It appears that Main Core serves a dual purpose; first as a mass targeted surveillance system to crush dissent during times of ''national crisis'' '-- whether spontaneous or engineered '-- and, second, as a massive blackmail database used to keep every potential opponent in line during non-emergencies.
Peter Thiel's Seeing Stone As was mentioned earlier in this report, Palantir '-- the company co-founded by Peter Thiel '-- is set to profit handsomely from the Trump administration's plans to use its ''pre-crime'' technology, which is already used by police departments throughout the country and also used to track Americans based on the company's integrative data-mining approach. Palantir, named for the ''seeing stones'' in the Lord of the Rings novels, also markets software to foreign (and domestic) intelligence agencies that predicts the likelihood that an individual will commit an act of terrorism or violence.
Aside from its ''pre-crime'' products, Palantir has come under fire in recent years as a result of the company's contracts with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), where it created an intelligence system known as Investigative Case Management (ICM). The IB Times described ICM as ''a vast 'ecosystem' of data to help immigration officials in identifying targets and creating cases against them'' and also ''provides ICE agents with access to databases managed by other federal agencies.'' ICM further gives ICE access to ''targets' personal and sensitive information, such as background on schooling, employment, family relationships, phone records, immigration history, biometrics data, criminal records as well as home and work addresses.'' In other words, Palantir's ICM is essentially a ''Main Core'' for immigrants.
Notably, part of Oliver North's original intentions in ''Main Core'' was to track immigrants then coming from Central America as well as Americans who opposed Reagan era policy with respect to Central America. At that time, Main Core was believed to be controlled by the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA), which is now part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
VICE News reported in July that the Northern California Regional Intelligence Center, which is run by DHS, ''serves around 300 communities in northern California and is what is known as a ' fusion center ,' a Department of Homeland Security intelligence center that aggregates and investigates information from state, local, and federal agencies, as well as some private entities, into large databases that can be searched using software like Palantir. '' VICE further noted that this center alone used Palantir to surveil as many as 8 million Ameicans. There are many more such DHS ''fusion centers'' throughout the United States.
If the Trump administration moves forward with its proposal of employing technology to detect potential mass shooters before they strike, Palantir's technology is set to be used, given that it has already been used by U.S. law enforcement and U.S. intelligence to determine which people run ''the highest risk of being involved in gun violence,'' according to an investigation of Palantir by The Verge . Furthermore, Palantir's close ties to the Trump administration make the company's role in a future nationwide ''pre-crime'' prevention system based on technology appear inevitable.
Palantir founder Peter Thiel listens to Trump during a meeting at Trump Tower in New York, Dec. 14, 2016. Evan Vucci | AP
Worse still is the apparent overlap between Palantir and Main Core. Palantir '-- which has obvious similarities to PROMIS '-- is already known to use its software to track potential terror threats, including domestic terror threats, and a category of people it refers to as ''subversives.'' Palantir's tracking of these individuals ''is all done using prediction.'' Palantir's close ties to the U.S. intelligence community suggest that Palantir may already have access to the Main Core database. Tim Shorrock told MintPress that Palantir's use of Main Core is ''certainly possible,'' particularly in light of the company's use of the term ''subversive'' to describe a category of people that its software tracks.
Palantir also has alleged ties to Israeli intelligence, as there have long been suspicions that Israeli intelligence has used Palantir as part of its AI ''pre-crime'' algorithms targeting Palestinians after Palantir opened a research and development (R&D) center in Israel in 2013. The current head of Palantir Israel, Hamultal Meridor , previously founded a brain-machine interface organization and was senior director of web intelligence at Verint (formerly Comverse Infosys), which has deep connections to Unit 8200, a history of espionage in the United States and was one of the two companies contracted by the NSA to insert a ''backdoor'' into the U.S. telecommunications system and popular products of major American tech companies.
Given the above, Peter Thiel's 2018 decision to fund Carbyne, the Unit 8200-linked start-up that markets itself as a technological solution to mass shootings in the U.S., strongly suggests that Thiel has been anticipating for some time the now-public efforts of the Trump administration to employ ''pre-crime'' technology to track and target Americans who show signs of ''mental illness'' and ''violent tendencies.''
A nightmare even Orwell could not have predicted In early August, in the wake of the shooting at an El Paso Walmart, President Trump called on big tech companies to collaborate with the Justice Department in the creation of software that ''stops mass murders before they start'' by detecting potential mass shooters before they cnm act. Though Trump's ideas were short on specifics, there is now a new proposal that would create a new government agency that will use data gathered from civilian electronic devices to identify ''neurobehavioral'' warning signs, thereby flagging ''potential shooters'' for increased surveillance and potentially detention.
This new agency, as proposed by the foundation led by former NBC Universal president and vice chairman of General Electric Robert Wright, would be known as the Health Advanced Research Projects Agency (HARPA) and would be modeled after the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Per the proposal, recently detailed by the Washington Post , the flagship program of HARPA would be ''Safe Home'' (Stopping Aberrant Fatal Events by Helping Overcome Mental Extremes), which would use ''breakthrough technologies with high specificity and sensitivity for early diagnosis of neuropsychiatric violence,'' specifically ''advanced analytical tools based on artificial intelligence and machine learning.''
The program would cost an estimated $60 million over four years and would use data from ''Apple Watches, Fitbits, Amazon Echo and Google Home'' and other consumer electronic devices, as well as information provided by health-care providers to identify who may be a threat.
The Washington Post reported that President Trump has reacted ''very positively'' to the proposal and that he was ''sold on the concept.'' The Post also noted that Wright sees the president's daughter, Ivanka, as ''the most effective champion of the proposal and has previously briefed her on HARPA himself.'' Ivanka has previously been cited as a driving force behind some of her father's policy decisions, including his decision to bomb Syria after an alleged chemical weapons attack in 2017.
Liz Fed '-- president of the Susan Wright Foundation, which is led by Robert Wright and created the proposal for HARPA and ''Safe Home'' '-- told The Post that the proposal emulated DARPA because ''DARPA is a brilliant model that works. They have developed the most transformational capabilities in the world for national security'...We're not leveraging the tools and technologies available to us to improve and save lives.'' Fed further asserted that DARPA's technological approach had yet to be applied to the field of healthcare.
For anyone familiar with DARPA, such claims should immediately sound loud alarm bells, especially since DARPA is already developing its own solution to ''mental health'' issues in the form of a ''brain-machine interface'' as part of its N3 program . That program, according to reports , involves ''noninvasive and 'minutely' invasive neural interfaces to both read and write into the brain,'' help distance soldiers ''from the emotional guilt of warfare'' by ''clouding their perception'' and ''to program artificial memories of fear, desire, and experiences directly into the brain.'' Though N3 is intended to improve the prowess of American soldiers, it is also set to be used as a means of pursuing DARPA's Systems-Based Neurotechnology for Emerging Therapies (SUBNETS) project, which aims to ''to develop a tiny, implanted chip in the skull to treat psychiatric disorders such as anxiety, PTSD and major depression.''
Given that HARPA's lead scientific adviser is Dr. Geoffrey Ling, former director and founder of DARPA's Biological Technologies Office (BTO), which ''merges biology, engineering, and computer science to harness the power of natural systems for national security,'' it seems likely that DARPA's neurological-focused research programs, like SUBNETS and N3, would be folded into HARPA's portfolio, making the proposed agency's approach to mental health very questionable indeed.
Aside from the dystopian nature of both DARPA and potentially HARPA's approach to mental health, there is grave cause for concern regarding the Trump administration's moves to address U.S. mass shooting events by implementing pre-crime technology based on artificial intelligence, data-mining and mass surveillance, technologies already laying in wait thanks to companies like Palantir and numerous Israeli tech start-ups led by former Unit 8200 officers.
With companies like Carbyne '-- with its ties to both the Trump administration and to Israeli intelligence '-- and the Mossad-linked Gabriel also marketing themselves as ''technological'' solutions to mass shootings while also doubling as covert tools for mass data collection and extraction, the end result is a massive surveillance system so complete and so dystopian that even George Orwell himself could not have predicted it.
Following another catastrophic mass shooting or crisis event, aggressive efforts will likely follow to foist these ''solutions'' on a frightened American public by the very network connected, not only to Jeffrey Epstein, but to a litany of crimes and a frightening history of plans to crush internal dissent and would-be dissenters in the United States.
Feature photo | Graphic by Claudio Cabrera
Whitney Webb is a MintPress News journalist based in Chile. She has contributed to several independent media outlets including Global Research, EcoWatch, the Ron Paul Institute and 21st Century Wire, among others. She has made several radio and television appearances and is the 2019 winner of the Serena Shim Award for Uncompromised Integrity in Journalism.
Director of MIT media lab Joichi Ito resigns after Jeffrey Epstein ties revealed.
A group of prominent academics have signed a letter in support of MIT Media Lab director Joi Ito, as MIT reckons with the revelation that it accepted around $800,000 in funds from convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. The letter seeks to gather support for Ito, who has apologized for accepting funds from the now-deceased financier.
Epstein had a reputation for cultivating relationships with scientists, and funded many scientific projects, including some at MIT. He was also linked to deceased MIT professor and AI pioneer Marvin Minsky, who was recently accused of having sex with one of Epstein's underaged victims. Epstein also gave money to the Media Lab, among other institutions.
In the wake of the new charges, Epstein's support has become a source of public shame for the Media Lab. Ito published a public apology on August 15 acknowledging that the MIT Media Lab received money from Epstein's foundations. ''I knew about these gifts and these funds were received with my permission'' Ito wrote, adding, ''I also allowed him to invest in several of my funds which invest in tech startup companies outside of MIT.''
In the apology he vowed to ''raise an amount equivalent to the donations the Media Lab received from Epstein'' and send that to non-profits focused on supporting survivors of trafficking. He also promised to return the money that Epstein had invested in his funds.
But the revelation had already created significant discord within the Media Lab. On August 10th, Ethan Zuckerman, the director of the Center for Civic Media at the Media Lab resigned. In a Medium post published later, Zuckerman cited Ito's acceptance of funds from Epstein as the reason he was resigning.
''The work my group does focuses on social justice and on the inclusion of marginalized individuals and points of view. It's hard to do that work with a straight face in a place that violated its own values so clearly in working with Epstein and in disguising that relationship.'' Zuckerman wrote.
But as pressure on Ito builds, some members of the MIT community have begun to voice public support for him. A new site registered on Monday has posted a public message of support for Ito, signed by more than 100 people so far. The letter reads in part:
Now is a time to revisit how the principles of an organization are expressed through its funding process'--and to explore how we can, together, build mechanisms to ensure our fundraising efforts reflect our core values.
However, the conversation has veered into increasingly pessimistic territory, and the media has focused their attention largely on this negativity. As such, it is our responsibility as members of the greater Media Lab community to add our voice to the conversation. We have experienced first-hand Joi's integrity, and stand in testament to his overwhelmingly positive influence on our lives'--and sincerely hope he remains our visionary director for many years to come.
A number of prominent professors and thinkers involved with MIT and Harvard are listed as signers, including Harvard Law professor and Creative Commons founder Lawrence Lessig, Whole Earth Catalog founder Stewart Brand, Media Lab co-founder Nicholas Negroponte, Harvard law professor and EFF board member Jonathan Zittrain, and synthetic biology pioneer George Church (who also had ties to Epstein). You can read the entire letter, and see the list of signatories here.
Prosecutors are still investigating claims against Epstein's potential co-conspirators, though they are no longer pursuing charges against Epstein himself, who died in jail on August 10. Sixteen of Epstein's victims testified in a hearing this week.
''The reckoning must not end, it must continue,'' Virginia Roberts Giuffre, one of Epstein's accusers said, according to the Washington Post. ''He did not act alone. We the victims know that.''
The Epstein scandal at MIT shows the moral bankruptcy of techno-elites | Opinion | The Guardian
A s the world wakes up to the power of Big Tech, we get to hear '' belatedly '' of all the damage wrought by the digital giants. Most of these debates, alas, don't veer too far from the policy-oriented realms of economics or law. Now that the Big Technocracy wants to quash Big Tech, expect more such wonkery.
What, however, about the ideas that feed the Big Tech? For one, we are no longer in 2009: Mark Zuckerberg's sophomoric musings on transparency or the global village impress very few.
And yet, for all the growing skepticism about Silicon Valley, many still believe that the digital revolution has a serious intellectual dimension, hashed out at conferences like Ted, online salons like Edge.org, publications like Wired, and institutions like the MIT Media Lab. The ideas of the digerati might be wrong, they might be overly utopian, but, at least, they are sincere.
The Epstein scandal '' including the latest revelation that Epstein might have channeled up to $8m dollars (some of it, apparently, on behalf of Bill Gates) to the MIT Media Lab, while its executives were fully aware of his problematic background '' has cast the digerati in a very different light. It has already led to the resignation of the lab's director, Joi Ito.
This, however, is not only a story of individuals gone rogue. The ugly collective picture of the techno-elites that emerges from the Epstein scandal reveals them as a bunch of morally bankrupt opportunists. To treat their ideas as genuine but wrong is too generous; the only genuine thing about them is their fakeness. The Big Tech and its apologists do produce the Big Thoughts '' alas, mostly accidental byproducts of them chasing the Big Bucks.
It wasn't meant to be that way. Back in 1991, John Brockman '' the world's most successful digital impresario, and, until recently, my literary agent '' was touting the emergence of the ''third culture'' that would finally replace the technophobic literary intellectuals with those coming from the world of science and technology. ''The emergence of the third culture introduces new modes of intellectual discourse and reaffirms the pre-eminence of America in the realm of important ideas,'' wrote Brockman in a much-discussed essay.
Brockman, who would later connect Epstein to dozens of world-famous scientists, most of them his clients, made it seem as if it were people like him who built this ''third culture'' '' out of their perceptive genius. The cardinal error of such analysis, however, lies in its tendency to mistake structural transformations of global capitalism for zeitgeisty trends in the history of ideas.
Thus, Brockman's ''new modes of intellectual discourse'' were mostly the result of technology companies moving away from large and soulless cold war military contracts and on to the world of funky personal computing. Apple, with Steve Jobs as its chief countercultural evangelist, needed the consumerist mysticism of ''the third culture''; IBM and Hewlett-Packard, stuck in the 1950s mentality, did not. Likewise, the ''pre-eminence of America in the realm of important ideas'' was, above all, the outcome of its dominance in the economic and military realms, weakening the efforts of other countries to create their own vibrant alternatives to Hollywood or Silicon Valley.
There was no better original exponent of the ''third culture'' than Nicholas Negroponte, the founder of the MIT Media Lab and a new kind of applied intellectual, full of big ideas on technical subjects. The lab was ahead of its time in understanding that the industry and the government alike needed cooler, more interactive technology that was not provided by the traditional cold war contractors.
Everything else followed suit. Thus, Negroponte became a speaker at the very first Technology, Entertainment, Design conference (the famous Ted Talks) in 1984, which, a few decades later, emerged as the pre-eminent promoter of the ''third culture'': no politics, no conflict, no ideology '' just science, technology, and pragmatic problem-solving. Ideas as a service, neatly packaged in 18-minute intellectual snacks.
''Third culture'' was a perfect shield for pursuing entrepreneurial activities under the banner of intellectualism. Infinite networking with billionaires but also models and Hollywood stars; instant funding by philanthropists and venture capitalists moving in the same circles; bestselling books tied to skyrocketing speaking fees used as promotional materials for the author's more substantial commercial activities, often run out of academia.
That someone like Jeffrey Epstein would take advantage of these networks to whitewash his crimes was almost inevitable. In a world where books function as brand extensions and are never actually read, it's quite easy for a rich and glamorous charlatan of Epstein's stature to fit in.
One of Brockman's persistent laments was that all the billionaire techies in his circle barely read any of the books published by his clients. Not surprisingly, his famed literary dinners '' held during the Ted Conference, they allowed Epstein (who kept Brockman's Edge Foundation on a retainer) to mingle with scientists and fellow billionaires '' were mostly empty of serious content.
As Brockman himself put it after one such dinner in 2004, ''last year we tried 'The Science Dinner'. Everyone yawned. So this year, it's back to the money-sex-power thing with 'The Billionaires' Dinner'.'' Was ''the money-sex-power thing'' that very potent ''new mode of intellectual discourse'' promised by the ''third culture''? If so, we'd rather pass.
In attendance at one such dinner, in 1999, was a young Japanese American by the name of Joi Ito; also present were Richard Saul Wurman, the original founder of the Ted Conference, Jeff Bezos, and, among all the other billionaires, Jeffrey Epstein. A godson of Timothy Leary and a college drop-out, Ito would eventually lead the Media Lab, interview Obama, write a popular technology book (another Brockman client), and join 20 different boards, including those of such prestigious institutions as the New York Times, the MacArthur Foundation, and the Knight Foundation.
Ito was to the ''third culture'' of the 2000s what Negroponte was to its 1980s version. Whereas Negroponte has always projected an aura of aristocracy and privilege '' coming from a very wealthy Greek family, he has recently prided himself on being on first-name terms with 80% of billionaires '' Ito is your typical start-up disruptor, a disgruntled ex-manager of a night club in Japan, who, somehow, reinvented himself as a ''third culture'' intellectual.
Can we still trust what the intellectuals of the 'third culture' actually have to say, given what they have to sell?
However, much like at Brockman's billionaire dinners, there's not much content to be found in Ito's work: for the most part, it's just techno-blabbery mixed with a heavy dose of futuristic jargon. But it doesn't matter. Under the ''third culture'', ideas serve, primarily, as door-openers. All that MIT cared about was that Ito's ideas supported his networks, his fund-raising skills, and his ability to get donors like Epstein to write fat checks.
Is it so surprising, then, that when a colleague cautioned Ito against meeting Epstein '' who used to list his interests as ''science and pussy'' '' Ito described him as ''really fascinating''? Brockman, for all his realism about low intellectual standards of the tech community, also couldn't resist Epstein's charms, describing him, in an email to me, as ''extremely bright and interesting''.
If the ''third culture'' is so much more sophisticated than its predecessors, how come most of its card-carrying members '' famed scientists-cum-brands, courtesy of the Brockman empire '' got caught up in the Epstein mess? It's not uncommon for intellectuals to serve as useful idiots to the rich and the powerful, but, under the ''third culture'', this reads like a job requirement.
Are the costs of living with this culture '' eg the prostitution of intellectual activity at ''billionaire dinners'''' worth it? And can we still trust what the leading intellectuals of the ''third culture'' actually have to say, given, also, what they have to sell?
The answers to these questions are self-evident. And yet, while it's easy to attack the rotten apples such as Ito or Negroponte, a more radical transformative agenda should ask for more: close the Media Lab, disband the Ted Talks, refuse the money of tech billionaires, boycott agents like Brockman. Without such drastic changes, the powerful bullshit-industrial complex that is the ''third culture'' will continue unharmed, giving cover to the next Epstein.
Evgeny Morozov is a Guardian US columnist
Warren and Clinton talk behind the scenes as 2020 race intensifies
WASHINGTON '-- Elizabeth Warren's team doesn't want to talk about Hillary Clinton, but that doesn't mean the 2020 presidential candidate isn't talking with her party's 2016 nominee.
The two women have kept a line of communication open since the Massachusetts senator decided to run for president '-- though only a conversation around the time of Warren's launch has been previously reported '-- according to several people familiar with their discussions who spoke to NBC on the condition of anonymity because of the political sensitivity of private interactions.
It's hard to know exactly how many times they've reached out to each other '-- or precisely what they've discussed '-- in part because neither camp wants to reveal much of anything about their interaction and in part because they have each other's phone numbers, and there are many ways for two high-powered politicians to communicate that don't involve their staffs.
One source was aware of just one additional call between Warren and Clinton since then. But a person who is close to Clinton said the contact has been substantial enough to merit attention, describing a conversation between the two as seemingly recent because it was "front of mind" for her.
"That has clearly not gone unnoticed, and I think she really appreciates that," the person close to Clinton said.
Clinton is a fraught subject for the Democratic contenders '-- perhaps for none so much as Warren, who, in the shadow of Clinton's defeat, is seeking to become the second woman to win the party's nod and the first woman elected president.
As she seeks to blend her movement-based progressive campaign with a Democratic establishment long wary of her populist brand of politics, Warren has been maintaining and creating relationships with a wide array of Democratic establishment figures. And if the race for nomination goes long '-- as many Democrats now predict '-- Clinton could become pivotal as an ally, an adversary or a neutral observer.
More immediately, Warren would no doubt like to win over support from Clinton voters, particularly women '-- and women of color '-- as she battles Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, former Vice President Joe Biden and the rest of a field that trails the top-tier triumvirate.
But Warren has made little effort to publicly highlight ties to Clinton, who is perceived by many on the left as too centrist and who was defeated in an election Clinton and her allies believe was heavily colored by President Donald Trump waging a misogynistic campaign. To the extent that Democratic primary voters fear a repeat scenario in 2020 '-- and to the extent that she's competing with Sanders for the votes of progressives '-- there may be good reason for Warren to keep her distance from Clinton publicly.
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At the same time, people who know and like both women say there are more similarities between them than some of their partisans would like to admit. Each is a policy powerhouse with an uncommon command of details, and possess the ability to master new material quickly with a deep intellectual curiosity. Like Clinton, Warren focused the early part of her campaign on developing a raft of policy proposals and rolling them out.
More important, an explicit or implicit blessing from Clinton could help Warren if she finds herself battling for delegates and superdelegates at a contested Democratic convention next summer.
"Hillary Clinton would absolutely have influence over a number of delegates to this convention," said Deb Kozikowski, the vice chair of the Massachusetts Democratic Party.
Warren aides declined to discuss the relationship between the two women, the dates or content of their conversations, or the campaign's strategic thinking about whether to show proximity to, or distance from, Clinton. Clinton's spokesman did not return a call or a text message from NBC before publication.
Though Warren harshly criticized Clinton's vote for a 2001 overhaul of bankruptcy laws, the two have developed a healthy respect for each other in recent years. When Clinton was developing policies for her own campaign in 2015, her aides kept in close contact with Warren to give her an opportunity to raise concerns before they were rolled out.
By that point, Warren already had opted out of mounting her own campaign '-- disappointing many progressives '-- when she signed a letter, along with other Democratic women in the Senate encouraging Clinton to run. Later, as Clinton reviewed her options for a vice presidential running mate, Warren made a late ascent onto the short list on the strength of the excitement Clinton and her advisers thought Warren might bring to the ticket.
Warren told Bloomberg Businessweek this summer that she would have accepted the offer, but it went to Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va.
Clinton has been impressed with Warren's campaign so far, according to a Democratic strategist who has spoken with her.
"She has applauded her about being serious and disciplined and loves that she is sticking to her guns," the strategist said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because Clinton's remarks were intended to remain private.
Clinton has relationships with most if not all of the Democratic candidates, and she met with or spoke to many of them at the start of this campaign cycle. Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, sat down with Clinton in New York several months ago when his star was rising and he needed to clear the air following a report on his criticism of Clinton's campaign. But the contact with Warren appears to have been more than a courtesy call or a trip to the principal's office.
With a progressive base behind her, Warren's political need is to make establishment Democrats comfortable with her candidacy. Clinton, whose politics arguably have been closer to Biden's over the course of her career, has deep credibility in those circles.
But Clinton and Biden developed a rivalry when they worked in the Obama administration and as they both prepared for a 2016 campaign that Biden ultimately didn't enter. She also might take into consideration factors other than proximity on policy if she decides to back a candidate at some point.
Kozikowski, who has not endorsed a presidential candidate, said it would make sense for Clinton to be helpful to one of the women running if she can put her over the top.
"It would be counterproductive for the first woman nominee of the party to not be supportive of a woman who may go over that threshold," Kozikowski said.
(4) Elizabeth Warren on Twitter: "On my first day as president, I will sign an executive order that puts a total moratorium on all new fossil fuel leases for drilling offshore and on public lands. And I will ban fracking'--everywhere." / Twitter
Democratic presidential candidate Senator Elizabeth Warren is reportedly in talks with failed presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, a move that's at odds with Warren's progressive image, and people really aren't happy about it.
The two have been in communication since the Massachusetts senator announced her presidential run, although both are keeping quiet about it, NBC reports, citing several people who wished to remain anonymous.
It isn't clear how often the two women speak or what they discuss, but a source close to the former secretary of state said their contact has been recent and has ''clearly not gone unnoticed.''
Warren's team reportedly don't want to speak about Clinton, likely because of her loss to Donald Trump in 2016 and her unpopularity with progressive Democrats, as well as with Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders' supporters.
Also on rt.com Twitter wars over Susan Sarandon's refusal to vote for Hillary Clinton still raging '... in 2019 The news that Warren is in talks with Clinton has sparked anger on social media, with some calling her a ''centrist opportunist'' and saying she is ''not an ally to Bernie but to the establishment.''
Others mocked her for taking advice from the woman who lost to Trump, while one even predicted Warren would pick Clinton to be her vice-president.
This won't help her whatsoever. Why is Warren associating herself w/ the second most hated politician in the U.S? Both were registered Republicans at one point. Birds of a feather. ð¤·ð¼''¸
'-- DiJo'" (@DianaJNYCProg) September 7, 2019WHY would any candidate want to consort with the most toxic politician of our time
'-- The Assahollah (@whostheboff) September 8, 2019Although centrist Clinton is problematic within progressive circles of the Democratic Party, she holds sway within its establishment and ''would absolutely have influence over a number of delegates to [the Democratic party] convention,'' said Deb Kozikowski, the vice chair of the Massachusetts Democratic Party.
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Congress Probing US Military Stopovers at Trump's Scotland Golf Resort | Military.com
Congressional investigators fear American military forces are charging ahead to save President Trump's troubled Scotland golf resort.
When a C-17 supply plane heading back to the U.S. from Kuwait last spring stopped for fuel near Glasgow, Scotland, its five-person crew stayed at the Trump Turnberry resort 20 miles from the airport, said a report Friday night in Politico.
The Alaska-based crew was surprised at the posh seaside digs. One crew member texted "someone close to him" a picture of the pricey resort and noted that the crew's per diem allowance wasn't enough to cover the food and drink tab.
Usually C-17 crews refuel at U.S. bases like Ramstein Air Base in Germany, or the U.S. Naval Air Station in Rota, Spain. Fuel is cheaper at the bases than at Glasgow Prestwick Airport, where the Alaskan crew stopped, Politico noted.
If they need to stay off-base, the Pentagon puts up crews at inexpensive hotels picked by midlevel officers -- none as ritzy as Trump's resort. "Master sergeants are cheap," an Air Force official told Politico.
Congressional investigators are looking into the C-17 stopover and other Defense Department expenses that might be helping Trump's Scotland resort.
The expenditures might violate a clause in the Constitution barring Trump from receiving "any other Emolument from the United States [government]" other than his salary.
House Oversight Committee leaders in June asked the Pentagon for records of its spending at Trump's Turnberry resort and at the financially troubled Glasgow Prestwick Airport, which the committee noted "has been viewed as integral to the golf course's financial success."
The airport may be another front in the military's push to help its commander-in-chief's business interest.
Since October 2017, the Defense Department "has entered into 629 separate purchase orders for fuel totaling $11 million," the House Oversight Committee says.
The investigators' interest was piqued by a February report in the U.K.'s Guardian newspaper that said airport executives were making business deals aimed at stemming Turnberry's losses.
The year Trump took office, the Turnberry resort lost money. But last year, revenue was up $3 million -- apparently helped by a boost in military business, Politico said.
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Rebel without a clause: One president's serial violations of the Constitution - New York Daily News
Resorting to grabbing taxpayer money. (Alex Sanz/AP)
The saga continues and it is not good.
Now the Vice President of the United States has become embroiled in the ongoing controversy around President Trump's open and notorious abuse of the Emoluments Clause. Mike Pence's staff finds themselves in hot water over first admitting that the President encouraged him to stay at the Ireland property, and then saying that he did not. Add too, military planes which reportedly diverted to Trump's Scotland property to refuel.
Imagine a sitting U.S. diplomat, military officer or anyone employed by the federal government abroad openly making a case on worldwide TV that their family's vacation property should be the next site of one of the world's great leadership gatherings. Imagine further the duly elected president of the United States making such a case.
Of course, Trump did exactly that last month at the G-7 Summit in France, ending his departing remarks with a shameless plug for his Doral, Fla. resort as the perfect location for the 2020 summit. In doing so, the president neglected to mention that such a hosting at his property would be a direct violation of Article I, sections 6 and 9 and Article II section 1 of the U.S. Constitution '-- the ''emoluments clause" (or, in truth, ''clauses").
The Article I clause was put in place to both protect and prohibit the Congress and the president from abuses of power, of being subject to the influence of money, and to be free of undue foreign government influences.
Trump has been sued three times in federal court for alleged emoluments violations. Two were dismissed this year, including one in the DC Circuit thrown out by a federal judge panel. After France, the attorneys general of Maryland and DC refiled their lawsuit.
This appeal should be successful '-- courts cannot continue to rely on a ''standing'' argument to defeat the claims. Why? Because if the president is allowed to use his own properties in DC, Maryland, New Jersey, Florida or otherwise for official government business, he is in fact violating the clause. Wantonly and willfully.
What Trump has been doing and what he suggested in France is also in direct violation of Article II's Domestic ((a.k.a. ''Presidential'') Emoluments Clause (art. II, § 1, cl. 7): ''The President shall, at stated Times, receive for his Services, a Compensation which shall neither be encreased nor diminished during the period for which he shall have been elected, and he shall not receive within that Period any other Emolument from the United States, or any of them.''
The bottom line: Unlike most presidents, Trump refuses to share his federal tax returns, and thus, no one can see where his income come from, how much it is, and where it is invested. Further, he has not recused himself or his children from their vast Trump empire holdings. And he has spent tens of millions of taxpayer dollars at Trump Resort properties. The Secret Service has had the most difficult time managing this sensitive ''emoluments'' issue, as they must both protect the president and house their agents at his resort, or wherever the president stays.
Trump counters that being president has cost him millions, and that he also donates his federal salary of $400,000 annually to charity. He fails to mention that he rakes in millions since he took office as his properties bill the federal government for costs of his weekly stays. Who bears the ultimate cost? We the people do.
The purpose of the Domestic Emoluments Clause is to preserve presidential independence, prohibiting a sitting chief executive from receiving emoluments from federal or state governments, except for his fixed salary '-- precisely what Trump has been doing. To underscore the point again, Trump urged Vice President Pence to stay at his property in Ireland '-- a ridiculous three hours from the location of this week's Dublin meetings. Pence is paying for the additional costs, but why should the vice president be putting money in the pocket of the president? In 1976, Jimmy Carter had to sell his peanut farm, and put his proceeds in a trust. And yet, this president runs amuck.
The outcome of the congressional and attorneys general lawsuits will have major implications. It will answer a long held question of just how far the president can go in walking '-- crossing? '-- the line between public duty and private gain. Until recently, there had been no substantial litigation concerning the emoluments clauses. Once again, President Donald J. Trump has broken the mold.
Nelson is author of the book, ''E Pluribus One: Reclaiming Our Founders Vision for a United America,'' and host of the ''e Pluribus One'' podcast.
Hong Kong protesters call on Donald Trump to 'liberate' the city | Daily Mail Online
Thousands of protesters in Hong Kong marched to the US Consulate today to drum up international support, calling on President Donald Trump to liberate the city as street fires started by demonstrators raged on.
Police stood by as anti-government activists waved Stars and Stripes flags and placards appealing for help and democracy on Sunday, following another night of violence in the 14th week of unrest.
The city turned to chaos over the weekend with lasers being used to confuse police who fought back with painful tear gas to disperse crowds, windows being smashed and street fires being started.
A fire set by protesters burns at an entrance to the Central MTR subway station in Hong Kong. Demonstrators descended on to the city's Central district blocking roads and forcing the closure of an underground rail station today
Riot police fire tear gas outside the Causeway Bay MTR subway station during clashes with pro-democracy demonstrators in Hong Kong
Police arrested several pro-democracy activists who rallied nearby at the US consulate in Hong Kong earlier today
Journalists and protesters disperse as tear gas is fired by riot police during clashes at the pro-democracy rallies in Hong Kong today
Protesters smashed windows at the entrance of the Central MTR station during ongoing demonstrations calling for democracy
A riot policeman fires tear gas by an entrance to the Causeway Bay MTR subway station during the violent rallies
Hundreds of protesters in Hong Kong marched to the US Consulate today to drum up international support, calling on President Donald Trump to liberate the city
US Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Saturday urged the Chinese government to exercise restraint in Hong Kong.
Esper made his call in Paris as police in Hong Kong prevented protesters from blocking access to the airport during a security blitz but resisted protesters for a second night running in the densely populated district of Mong Kok.
President Donald Trump, however, has indicated that the US would stay out of a matter he considers to be between Hong Kong and China. He has said he believes the US trade war with China is making Beijing tread carefully.
Hong Kong has been rocked by a summer of unrest kicked off by a proposed law that would have allowed criminal suspects to be sent to mainland China for trial.
Thousands of pro-democracy protesters marched from Chater Garden to the US consulate in Hong Kong this morning to pile pressure on to Beijing to meet their demands
Demonstrators wore masks of various world leaders, including Donald Trump, Emanuel Macron and Boris Johnson, to call on support from other countries. One protester holds a banner that reads: 'Will you stand by and let us burn?'
Dying flames of a once-raging street fire in Hong Kong serve as a reminder of the violence that has been caused during the pro-democracy rallies
A riot police officer is seen brandishing a teargas launcher as he emerges from the Central MTR subway station after breaking barricades to exit
A protester wears a mask of U.S. President Donald Trump during a march to the Consulate General of the United States in Hong Kong
A protester is seen wearing a cap that reads, 'Make Hong Kong Great Again. President Donald Trump, however, has indicated that the US would stay out of a matter he considers to be between Hong Kong and China
One protester was seen wearing a face mask and bandanna while filming one of the raging street fires in the Central district of Hong Kong
Protesters hold up signs in Central, Hong Kong, as they demand democracy from political leaders in Hong Kong
Protesters carry US flags as they march towards the US Consolta during a rally on Sunday. US Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Saturday urged the Chinese government to exercise restraint in Hong Kong
Many saw the extradition Bill as a glaring example of the Chinese territory's eroding autonomy since the former British colony was returned to China in 1997.
Hong Kong's leader Carrie Lam promised last week to withdraw the Bill - an early demand of protesters - but that has failed to appease the demonstrators, who have widened their demands to include other issues, such as greater democracy.
On Sunday, protesters donned 'Make Hong Kong Great Again' hats and filed past Washington's consulate singing the US national anthem as they called on the country to pressure Beijing to meet their demands and for Congress to pass a recently proposed bill that expresses support for the movement.
'More than 1,000 protesters have been arrested. We can't do anything but come out onto the streets, I feel hopeless,' 30-year-old protester Jenny Chan, told AFP.
'I think aside from foreign countries, no one can really help us,' she added.
On Saturday, Hong Kong turned to chaos as bonfires and debris lined the streets, with dozens of activists needing urgent first aid after being hit by clouds of painful tear gas.
Handheld lasers, which emit powerful beams of green and blue light, were used by pro-democracy activists to daze officers and scramble face recognition cameras.
A woman pours water over her eyes after riot police fired a tear gas cannister during a pro-democracy rally at Causeway Bay station in Hong Kong
A protester was captured throwing more cardboard on to a Hong Kong street fire to keep it going
A protester holds up a sign featuring U.S. President Donald Trump atop a tank as the city turned into a chaos for another day
Police stood stood by as anti-government activists waved Stars and Stripes flags appealing help and democracy on Sunday, following another night of violence in the 14th week of unrest
Earlier in the day police stopped the planned disruption at the airport with a security blitz that included checking passengers on trains and buses heading to the airport and limiting train services.
Hong Kong's airport, the world's eighth busiest, has been a frequent target during the protests. Airport operations ran normally on Saturday following the security operation.
Protesters staged rallies at subway stations and malls on Saturday evening owned by the rail link operator MTR, accusing it of helping police during a recent violent raid at one station.
The Prince Edward station was shut for a second day on Saturday after protesters started gathering, laying white flowers and burning paper offerings at the station's exit as a sign of mourning.
When protesters refused to disperse and began setting fire to debris near the station, riot police chased them and used pepper spray.
Hong Kong has been rocked by a series of anti-government protests for the past three months. The demonstrations were initially sparked by a proposed law that would allow some criminal suspects to be sent to the mainland China to stand trial
A protester wears a mask bearing the American flag attends a march to the Consulate General of the United States in Hong Kong
Protesters wave United States flags and carry placards during a protest in Hong Kong on Sunday as they demand democracry
A protester wears an anonymous mask as he joins the crowds on a march to plea for international help
The station has been a focus this past week for protesters, who want the rail operator to release security camera footage to substantiate rumours that some people died during the police.
Police have reiterated that there have been no deaths since the protests began in early June and condemned the online rumours as malicious.
Violent clashes separately took place at a station in Sha Tin new town, where protesters chased police officers into the control room before riot police arrived. Several people were detained.
Over the weekend, German Chancellor Angela Merkel renewed her pleas for a peaceful solution to the political turmoil during her trip to Beijing, calling for the 'violence' not to end in 'catastrophe'.
Protesters wave United States flags during a protest in Hong Kong. Many saw the extradition Bill as a glaring example of the Chinese territory's eroding autonomy since the former British colony was returned to China in 1997
Her trip to Beijing, to strengthen ties between German and Chinese markets, has been overshadowed by the protests in Hong Kong.
The former British colony of Hong Kong returned to China in 1997 under a 'one country, two systems' formula that guarantees freedoms not enjoyed on the mainland. Many Hong Kong residents fear Beijing is eroding that autonomy.
Many saw the extradition Bill as a glaring example of the Chinese territory's eroding autonomy since the former British colony was returned to China in 1997.
Hong Kong police fired rubber bullets and tear gas at protesters in another chaotic night on Saturday
Dozens of activists needed urgent first aid after being hit by clouds of painful tear gas. Above: a young woman and a man are treated with water after being affected by tear gas on Saturday
China denies the accusation of meddling and says Hong Kong is an internal affair. It has denounced the protests, accusing the United States and Britain of fomenting unrest, and warned of the damage to the economy.
The persistent violence has hurt Hong Kong's economy and sparked fears of a Chinese military intervention. Chinese officials have warned that Beijing will 'not sit idly by' if the situation worsens.
Protesters have adopted a new slogan, 'Five key demands, not one less.' In addition to the withdrawal of the extradition bill, they want an independent investigation into accusations of police brutality, the unconditional release of those detained during the protests, no more labeling of the protests as riots and direct elections of the city's leaders.
Lam has rejected those demands.
The protests show no signs of abating ahead of China's National Day celebrations on October 1, despite Lam's concession on the extradition bill.
The increased scrutiny was aimed at avoiding the chaos of last weekend, when protesters blocked airport approach roads, threw debris onto train tracks and subway stations in a 'stress test' protest. Above: Riot police advance during a protest near Mong Kok police station in Hong Kong on Saturday
What is happening in Hong Kong?Hong Kong protesters are demanding democratic reforms and the complete withdraw of a law bill that would allow criminal suspects to be sent to mainland China to stand trial. Protesters are pictured waving their phones in a demonstration on August 28
Hong Kong has been rocked by a series of anti-government protests for the past three months. The demonstrations were initially sparked by a proposed law that would allow some criminal suspects to be sent to the mainland China to stand trial.
Hong Kong is ruled under the 'one country, two system' policy and has different legal and governing systems to mainland China. The principle was agreed on by China and the UK before the former British colony reverted to Chinese rule in 1997.
However, many residents in the semi-autonomous city feel that their freedoms are eroding due to the tight political grip of Beijing.
The extradition bill was suspended indefinitely by the government in June, but the rallies have morphed into a wider pro-democracy movement that calls for government reforms and universal suffrage, among others.
Protesters are also demanding an independent enquiry into what they view as excessive violence from the police during clashes.
Mass rallies, sometimes attended by as many as two million people, have taken place every weekend for 13 weeks since June 9.
Protesters have targeted government buildings, Beijing's representative office in Hong Kong, shopping centres and international airport to express their demands.
The demonstrations often start with a peaceful march or sit-in and end up in violent clashes between activists and police.
A repeated pattern sees activists throwing items such as bricks and petrol bombs at the police and anti-riot officers firing tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse crowds.
More than 1,180 people have been arrested in connection with the protests.
Beijing has described the situation in Hong Kong the 'worst crisis' the city has seen since its handover in 1997. It has also called some activists 'rioters' and 'political terrorists'.
It is widely believed that the central government is determined to quell the chaos before October 1 when the country will celebrate the 70th anniversary of the People's Republic of China.
The city's chief executive Carrie Lam formally withdrew the extradition bill on September 4 in a bid to ease the chaos.
She is yet to satisfy the protesters' other demands.
Revealed: Election pact between Johnson and Farage edges closer | openDemocracy
Boris Johnson's aides in Downing Street have ''opened channels'' with the Brexit Party to discuss a formal general election pact, according to close associates of Nigel Farage.
The two party leaders have not talked since Johnson became Prime Minister. However, back-channel meetings between Number 10 and Brexit Party officials have taken place. Further talks, according to sources contacted by openDemocracy, are scheduled over the coming weekend.
They will include arranging a public meeting between Johnson and Farage that could take place shortly after parliament prorogues next week.
Tory MP Ed Vaizey said that a pact with Brexit Party ''would be the death of the centre-ground Conservative Party.''
Downing Street would not comment on the Prime Minister's private schedule and would not acknowledge any contact with Farage or his party's staff.
As well as agreeing a strategy for Brexit and Tory party candidates not to challenge each other in critical marginal seats, a pact could also free up needed donor cash to fund the expected £20 million the Conservatives believe is needed to deliver a successful election campaign. The party spent £18.5m in 2017 and failed to secure a majority.
Death of centre-ground Tory PartyThe prospect of a deal between the Conservative Party and Farage will horrify Tory centrists who believe Johnson, according to one MP, ''is prepared to sell the soul of the Conservative Party to stay in power.''
Even if Johnson agreed to a Tory withdrawal in seats where there was little prospect of a Conservative victory, there are many Tories who believe any public deal with Farage will damage an already fragile Tory brand under Johnson's leadership.
Ed Vaizey, a minister in David Cameron's government, and one of the 21 MPs thrown out of the Conservative Party this week after voting against the Johnson government to stop a no-deal Brexit, told openDemocracy: ''I would find it pretty unpalatable to be a Conservative candidate in an election where my party had a formal relationship with the Brexit Party, given the Brexit Party's values.
''They have been wholly damaging to the Conservative Party cause and their leading figures want to see the destruction of the Conservative Party. ''
Johnson's chief of staff, Dominic Cummings, is a known critic of Farage. Cummings, who ran the official Vote Leave campaign, tried unsuccessfully to airbrush Farage's own Leave.EU campaign contribution out of the Brexit victory.
Any accommodation with the Brexit Party by Johnson will be seen either as a massive compromise for Cummings, or a sign that his power is being curtailed.
Election donations on holdOne Brexit Party source said: ''We know support from some of the biggest donors is being put on hold. Some big backers who have funded the Brexit and Conservative parties, want a deal to secure Brexit. This is money the Tories need to fight a winning election campaign. And it's on hold till a formal pact is agreed.''
The Johnson-Farage pact could also go further. A senior figure in the Brexit Party said that Arron Banks, who funded the unofficial Leave.EU campaign, was prepared to donate substantial funds to the Conservatives if a pact with Farage was put in place.
Banks is under investigation by the National Crime Agency over the sources of his wealth with the NCA also investigating his donation to the Leave.EU campaign.
The efforts to facilitate a deal between Johnson and Farage is effectively confirmation that the Prime Minister has now accepted he is unlikely to force a mid-October election ahead of the summit of European leaders on October 17.
SurvivalWith growing concern in Downing Street about co-ordinated anti-Johnson tactical voting, and the prospect that opposition parties could come close to standing down candidates in key marginals, a pact with the Brexit Party, however unpalatable, is now seen as a necessary survival strategy.
Farage recently claimed that without a deal with his party, Johnson ''cannot win an election.'' However he said if there was a deal between the two parties, with clarity over where they stood on Brexit, ''we'd be unstoppable.''
A new ICM poll published in the Financial Times, commissioned by the pro-remain Represent Us, only partially backs Farage's optimism. It forecasts support for Farage's party would double from its current level of nine percent if a general election took place after Halloween.
The same ICM poll forecasts that a mid-October poll would see the Tories win 37 percent with Labour seven points behind.
However the post-Halloween forecast has both Labour and the Conservatives on 30 percent, and Farage's party on 18 percent. If the poll proves to be accurate, Johnson would need to rely on a formal pact with the Brexit Party to ensure the pro-Brexit vote was not split in key seats
The anticipated talks between the two party leaders, according to sources, will initially centre on seats where a Brexit Party challenge to a sitting Tory MP would do most damage. In these seats, where Labour and the Liberal Democrats might come close to winning, the absence of a Brexit Party candidate would assist Johnson's efforts to remain in Number 10.
Farage is understood to have made clear to colleagues that in any pact he expects a similar sacrifice from the Tories to stand aside in a majority of strong Labour seats in the north of England where the pro-Brexit vote was highest.
Equally, a deal with the Tories could dent the Brexit Party's claim to be the alternative to the Westminster's mainstream. That idea is dismissed by Farage's aides who believe their strong showing in the recent European election can be sustained at a general election.
The Prime Minister continues to claim that the United Kingdom will leave the European Union on October 31. However, the Commons backed a new law which forces the Prime Minister to seek an extension to the Brexit deadline from Brussels if there is no deal with Brussels by October 19.
Johnson has said he would ''rather be dead in ditch'' than ask the EU to delay Britain's exit.
Brexit is a Gordian Knot '' Who Is The World's Premier Gordian Knot Cutter?'.... | The Last Refuge
The Gordian Knot of Brexit is based on a Parliamentary ruling class within the U.K. government who will not accept Great Britain leaving the European Union.
The elitist Members of Parliament (MP) have passed a law requiring Prime Minister Boris Johnson to forever stay in the EU until an agreement for terms of exit are reached. However, the EU doesn't want the U.K. to exit; so the consequence of the MP law is to 'remain' in the EU forever. This elitist scheme has created the knot; and the majority of the British people -those who voted to 'leave'- are insufferably bound within it.
In one approach to cutting the knot Prime Minister Boris Johnson has requested a national vote for government leadership on October 15th. With a scheduled round of talks with the EU set for October 17th, a Boris Johnson election victory would create the needed momentum toward a hard-brexit (no deal) on October 31st. Britain would, finally, be free.
However, the MP ruling class, those who say they know better than the people they are supposed to serve, know such a popular vote would upend their schemes '' and likely lead to many of their alliance being removed from office. So the elites will not support a national election that would lead to their own defeat. [More knot building].
A second knot-cutting tactic implied by the Prime Minister, is to ignore the insufferable law ''recently passed and pending signature'' and proceed toward a 'no-deal' Brexit on October 31st.
This approach could lead to the British Parliament being forced to vote against the Prime Minister (no confidence); and would set up a replacement election, which Boris Johnson wants anyway. Actually, no-one is quite sure what will happen on this second knot-cutting avenue'... no map available.
Many Americans are watching the part where we see just how ideologically corrupt politicians are within British government; and how much they have lied and conned the British people.
Similar to the republican elitist class (Never Trump) who came out of the shadows against President Donald Trump, the never-Brexit British masks are dropping at an alarming rate. Trump supporters have a great deal in common with Brexiteers.
However, beyond the domestic politics'.... there's an economic geopolitical aspect only a few smart people (YOU) in the U.S. have been paying attention to. If you stand back and overlay what you know about the Trumpian global trade reset, there's a familiar picture.
When it comes to the Trump global trade realignment, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is currently positioned to the EU as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was to China.
In early 2017, culminating in November 2017 tour of Asia, President Trump worked with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to start the process for southeast Asia countries to think about what could/would happen when the Trump administration triggered the trade reset with China.
In the two years that followed Trump's visit, the ASEAN nations recognized what those 2017 discussions were all about. Japan (Abe), South Korea (Moon Jae-in), Malaysia (Mahathir Mohammed), Vietnam (Tran Dai Quang), Philippines (Rodrigo Duterte), and India via Narendra Modi, all realized the China strategy of President Trump was going to provide a significant economic opportunity to replace Chinese manufacturing in Asia.
In the background of the 2019 Brexit mess, Boris Johnson is similarly positioned to where Shinzo Abe was in 2017. If you take the trade reset strategy and replace China with the EU you can see a possibility for the future.
Economically both China and the EU have been receiving one-side benefits through the manipulation of the U.S. economy at the hands of the multinationals. Both have exfiltrated massive amounts of U.S. wealth; and both sets of Wall Street lobbying assemblies have paid corrupt U.S. politicians handsomely to continue this indulgence.
President Trump has already hinted at his goal regarding the EU and the trade reset. The administration objective is free, fair and reciprocal trade; meaning: no tariffs, no non-tariff barriers, no subsidies and no protectionism. However, the EU group is the most hypocritical and protectionist trade bloc in the world. [Yes, in many ways similar to China sans the overt theft and communist aspect.]
The EU has balked at any request to drop their protectionist policies, and the generational benefits of the post-WWII Marshal Plan will have to be pried from their cold dead fingers. The EU, with particular emphasis on France and Germany, are not about to allow the U.S. to take away the one-way tariffs they use to indulge their social welfare programs.
All of the indicators are there. Once the USMCA is booked (North America terms settled), we can see Trump taking a similar approach with the EU as he did with China.
With that in mind, Brexit becomes the leverage Trump needs to force the EU to accept terms. President Trump has been working with Boris Johnson on the framework of an agreement in principle for a U.S-U.K. trade agreement.
Here's where it all comes together:
If Johnson delivers Brexit, soon thereafter President Trump announces matching tariffs against the EU equal to the tariffs they currently have on U.S. products. The EU will again balk at the idea of negotiating new trade terms. That's where the U.K. (no longer in the EU) comes in.
North America and the U.K. would have a cross-Atlantic trade super-highway. EU countries who wish to avoid Trump's tariffs would have the U.K as a gateway. EU nations can/will use the UK as an assembly and distribution hub for EU goods. This would mean massive benefit to the British economy.
The issue that impedes this plan is the current Gordian knot with Brexit.
Don't be surprised to see the world's premier Gordian Knot cutter, Donald J Trump, reverse the order of his plan in order to create leverage favorable to Boris Johnson.
Meaning, don't be surprised to see significant U.S. announcements about tariffs against EU goods, which will have specific focus on French and German products, as President Trump starts applying leverage to support Brexit'....
The Trump administration has proposed a tariff of up to 100% on $25 billion in European items. Romano, Parmesan, provolone and Gouda are all on the list. But it's not just cheese https://t.co/6yvA1Ge578
'-- CNN (@CNN) September 7, 2019
German citizens are arming themselves with firearms - Voice of Europe
As of today, close to 640,00 German citizens are legally permitted to carry a deterrent gun or similar self-defense weapon. To put things in perspective, in 2014, there were just 260,000.
That's nearly a 250 percent increase in just five years.
Die Welt reports that these figures were able to see the light of day thanks to a survey that was conducted by regional daily, Rheinische Post, at the interior ministries of all 16 federal states.
According to the data obtained, in the last year alone, the increase in small firearm licenses rose about 9 percent compared to the same period last year.
Per capita, the number of firearm owners is highest in Schleswig-Holstein (9.6 per 1000 inhabitants), and in Saarland (9.2). The number of individuals who hold a small gun license has reportedly been rising for years.
''Other statistics show that as of January 2016, exactly 300 949 Small Weapons Cards had been issued, compared to 557 560 by the end of 2017. That's an 85 percent increase in just under two years. If you hold this firearm license, you may carry Signal, Irritant, and Weapon Firearms in public,'' Die Welt reports.
The Union of Police (GdP) believe that the primary reason that's driving the trend is a ''latent feeling of insecurity'' in the population.
''Ever since the events on the Cologne cathedral plate in the New Year's Eve 2015, more and more people seem to feel insecure,'' said GdP chairman Oliver Malchow.
As many are already well aware of, Cologne's New Year's Eve celebrations saw mass sexual assaults of German women by North African and Middle Eastern men. In total, there were at least 24 alleged rapes and numerous thefts that occurred, mostly in Cologne's city center.
''The problematic increase in small arms licenses shows that we need to work to restore a sense of security to many citizens,'' Malchow said.
''A first important step is more police presence on the road'' he added.
Currently, around 5.4 million weapons of differing categories are owned by private citizens in Germany. That amounts to 66 weapons per 1000 inhabitants.
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Newspapers in California are panicking over new liberal law about to pass '-- here's why - TheBlaze
A proposed law in California meant to target ride-sharing apps like Uber and Lyft may accidentally take out many newspaper organizations as well.
California Assembly Bill 5 is intended to force ride-sharing apps to treat drivers like employees in order to make them provide more benefits, but the unintended consequences may take a huge toll on local journalism.
The California Newspaper Publishers Association published an opinion-editorial warning against AB 5 on Wednesday.
Simply put: AB 5 will likely cause the death knell for some printed version of California newspapers. It's not the only challenge to professional journalism in 2019, but it is by far the most serious.AB 5 would force all businesses to hire independent contractors as employees '' unless the business has been given a special exemption by the Legislature. So far, the Legislature has refused to grant one to the newspaper industry.The association goes on to say that newspapers employ independent contractors to for delivery, and also for freelance journalism.
They warn that densely populated areas may still be able to have newspaper services, but those will likely increase in cost.
Industry experts have noted that the newspaper industry has been collapsing over a decade as subscribers move towards getting their news from online sources. Some publications also carry debilitating debt from the years when the industry was prospering greatly.
AB 5 passed the Assembly in May and is being considered in the state Senate for approval.
Here's a news video about the anti-gig law: Here's what a Calfornia law could mean for Uber and Lyftwww.youtube.com
Sum of three cubes for 42 finally solved'--using real life planetary computer
Hot on the heels of the ground-breaking 'Sum-Of-Three-Cubes' solution for the number 33, a team led by the University of Bristol and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has solved the final piece of the famous 65-year-old maths puzzle with an answer for the most elusive number of all'--42.
The original problem, set in 1954 at the University of Cambridge, looked for Solutions of the Diophantine Equation x3+y3+z3=k, with k being all the numbers from one to 100.
Beyond the easily found small solutions, the problem soon became intractable as the more interesting answers'--if indeed they existed'--could not possibly be calculated, so vast were the numbers required.
But slowly, over many years, each value of k was eventually solved for (or proved unsolvable), thanks to sophisticated techniques and modern computers'--except the last two, the most difficult of all; 33 and 42.
Fast forward to 2019 and Professor Andrew Booker's mathematical ingenuity plus weeks on a university supercomputer finally found an answer for 33, meaning that the last number outstanding in this decades-old conundrum, the toughest nut to crack, was that firm favourite of Douglas Adams fans everywhere.
However, solving 42 was another level of complexity. Professor Booker turned to MIT maths professor Andrew Sutherland, a world record breaker with massively parallel computations, and'--as if by further cosmic coincidence'--secured the services of a planetary computing platform reminiscent of "Deep Thought", the giant machine which gives the answer 42 in Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
Professors Booker and Sutherland's solution for 42 would be found by using Charity Engine; a 'worldwide computer' that harnesses idle, unused computing power from over 500,000 home PCs to create a crowd-sourced, super-green platform made entirely from otherwise wasted capacity.
The answer, which took over a million hours of calculating to prove, is as follows:
X = -80538738812075974 Y = 80435758145817515 Z = 12602123297335631
And with these almost infinitely improbable numbers, the famous Solutions of the Diophantine Equation (1954) may finally be laid to rest for every value of k from one to 100'--even 42.
Professor Booker, who is based at the University of Bristol's School of Mathematics, said: "I feel relieved. In this game it's impossible to be sure that you'll find something. It's a bit like trying to predict earthquakes, in that we have only rough probabilities to go by.
"So, we might find what we're looking for with a few months of searching, or it might be that the solution isn't found for another century."
More information:Andrew R. Booker, Cracking the problem with 33,
Research in Number Theory (2019).
DOI: 10.1007/s40993-019-0162-1 Citation: Sum of three cubes for 42 finally solved'--using real life planetary computer (2019, September 6) retrieved 7 September 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2019-09-sum-cubes-solvedusing-real-life.html
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Breaking: Bitcoin Crashes Below $10,400 While FED Chair Takes A Hit At Cryptos
Bitcoin has been increasing in price over the past 2 days. Analysts believe this present uptrend will usher bitcoin into a massive bull run that will eventually see bitcoin in the $11k zone. However, BTC took a U-turn to start a drastic price fall within the last hour and has now fallen deep into a bearish movement. Elsewhere, on BitMEX, margin traders keep getting rekt on the derivative exchange as it recorded about $80 million worth of BTC long liquidation within the last few hours.
Bitcoin Suddenly Crashes Below $10.5k AgainIn a second time within the week, BTC is seen crashing below the $10.5k region again. Early on into the day, the top cryptocurrency was believed to have a revival spirit ahead of the recently announces the opening of Bakkt custody BTC futures as the price moved aggressively towards the $11k point. However, no much progress was seen in bitcoin as it fell drastically to lose about $600 in about an hour. At the moment, the bearish signal remains very strong as BTC keeps falling down the rail.
At the time of writing this piece, the price of bitcoin was swinging around $10,480 in a brutal bearish resumption while alts maintained their previous bullish movements.
A Bear Market Despite Bakkt AnnouncementMany would have thought the news of Bakkt that came in today would have instigated a massive bull run but on the contrary, we are seeing a reverse of the situation. This bear markets might have been initiated as a result of a few factors including the transfer of more than $1 billion worth of bitcoin earlier today.
Also, FED chair, according to Yahoo Finance, made a very bearish comment on bitcoin recently while speaking in Switzerland. According to him,
Highlight: ''We are following the whole question of digital currencies,'' says Fed Chair Jerome Powell. ''It's not something that we are actively considering. For us, it raises significant issues that we would want to see resolved.''https://t.co/xpAujlCWBd pic.twitter.com/n5M5XDU5AZ
'-- Yahoo Finance (@YahooFinance) September 6, 2019
BitMEX Liquidates $80 Milion Within Few HoursMargin trading on BitMEX keeps proving destructive to many traders on BitMEX recently. Within the past few hours, more than $80 million worth of BTC long were liquidated on the derivative exchange.
Source: Datamish.comAs the Bitcoin bear frenzy is currently taking over trading activities, a massive long liquidation was also seen to have been executed on BitMEX. Within the last 6 hours, up to $80 million worth of long position contracts has been liquidated on the derivative exchange platform as total figures soar high to over $100 million within the last 2 to 3 days.
Breaking: Bitcoin Crashes Below $10,400 While FED Chair Takes A Hit At Cryptos
BTC Slides, Slumps Below $10.5k Again As $80 Million Worth Of BTC Long Got Liquidated On BitMEX
Disclaimer The presented content may include the personal opinion ofthe author and is subject to market condition.Do your market research before investing in cryptocurrencies.The author or the publication does not hold any responsibilityfor your personal financial loss.
Text of H.R. 4234: To amend the Commodity Exchange Act with respect to the regulation of virtual currencies. (Introduced version) - GovTrack.us
To amend the Commodity Exchange Act with respect to the regulation of virtual currencies.
1. (a)Section 1a of the Commodity Exchange Act (7 U.S.C. 1a ) is amended by adding at the end the following:
(52)The term virtual currency means a digital representation of value that does not have legal tender status and that functions as a medium of exchange, a unit of account, or a store of value.
(b)Section 5(d)(4) of such Act (7 U.S.C. 7(d)(4) ) is amended'--
(1)by striking all that precedes board of trade and inserting the following:
(2)by redesignating each of subparagraphs (A) and (B) as clauses (i) and (ii), respectively, and moving each of such provisions 2 ems to the right; and
(3)by adding after and below the end the following:
(B)Notwithstanding paragraph (1)(B), with regard to a contract on the contract market that references a virtual currency available on a spot market platform, in order to fully comply with this paragraph, the board of trade must have'--
(i)unconstrained access to all trade and trader data regarding the virtual currency on the spot market platform; and
(ii)the capability to provide the data to the Commission on request.
(c)Section 5h(f)(4) of such Act (7 U.S.C. 7b''3(f)(4) ) is amended'--
(1)by striking all that precedes swap execution facility shall and inserting the following:
(2)by redesignating each of clauses (i) and (ii) of subparagraph (A) as subclauses (I) and (II), respectively, and moving each of such provisions 2 ems to the right;
(3)by redesignating subparagraphs (A) and (B) as clauses (i) and (ii), respectively, and moving each of such provisions 2 ems to the right; and
(4)by adding after and below the end the following:
(B)Notwithstanding paragraph (1)(B), with regard to a swap on the swap execution facility that references a virtual currency available on a spot market platform, in order to fully comply with this paragraph, the board of trade must have'--
(i)unconstrained access to all trade and trader data regarding the virtual currency on the spot market platform; and
(ii)the capability to provide the data to the Commission on request.
China says new digital currency will be similar to Facebook's Libra - Reuters
SHANGHAI (Reuters) - China's proposed new digital currency would bear some similarities to Facebook's Libra coin and would be able to be used across major payment platforms such as WeChat and Alipay, a senior central bank officer said.
FILE PHOTO: Small toy figures are seen on representations of virtual currency in front of the Libra logo in this illustration picture, June 21, 2019. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo
Mu Changchun, deputy director of the People's Bank of China's payments department, said the development of the coin would help protect country's foreign exchange sovereignty as commercial applications of such currencies expanded.
''Why is the central bank still doing such a digital currency today when electronic payment methods are so developed?'' said Mu, according to a transcript of a lecture he gave this week that was published online.
''It is to protect our monetary sovereignty and legal currency status. We need to plan ahead for a rainy day.''
He said the tokens would be as safe as central bank-issued paper notes and could be used even without an internet connection. They could also be used on Tencent's (0700.HK ) WeChat and Alibaba-backed (BABA.N ) Alipay.
The state-run newspaper Shanghai Securities News reported his comments on Friday.
China's central bank set up a research team in 2014 to explore launching its own digital currency to cut the costs of circulating traditional paper money and boost policymakers' control of money supply.
It had said little since but Mu last month announced that the digital currency was almost ready. U.S. financial magazine Forbes, citing sources, said the currency could be ready as soon as Nov. 11.
Some analysts say China appears to have accelerated the push to digital money after U.S. social media giant Facebook (FB.O ) announced plans in June to launch digital coin Libra.
Mu said China's digital currency would strike a balance between allowing anonymous payments and preventing money-laundering. It would also bear some similarities to Libra in design but would not be a direct copy, he said without elaborating.
Facebook's proposed cryptocurrency has sparked concerns among global regulators that it could quickly become a dominant form of digital payment and a channel for money laundering given the social network's massive cross-border reach.
Libra will be a digital currency backed by a reserve of real-world assets, including bank deposits and short-term government securities, and held by a network of custodians. Its structure is intended to foster trust and stabilize the price.
Like other cryptocurrencies, Libra transactions will be powered and recorded by a blockchain, which is a shared ledger of transactions maintained by a network of computers.
Mu said the advantage a central bank-issued digital coin had over those issued by WeChat and Alipay was that commercial platforms could in theory go bankrupt which could cause users losses. Its ability to be used without an internet connection would also allow transactions to continue in situations in which communications have broken down, such as an earthquake.
Reporting by Brenda Goh in Beijing and Samuel Shen in Shanghai; Editing by Sam Holmes
Email Cover Up: Hillary Has 30 Days To Oppose Or Be Deposed, Court Rules '' PolitiFeed
Judicial Watch has incredible news in their pursuit of the truth in regards to the Clinton email scandal.
Following Trump's election, the email issue sort of just went away. The media stopped talking about it. Trump stopped talking about it. While it was slipping away from consciousness concerned patriots were working diligently to make sure we find the truth.
You might have read about the hearing in regards to the Clinton emails a few weeks ago, but just in case, HERE is a quick refresher.
After years of fighting through red tape, and government blocking, Judicial Watch was able to put the Clintons back on the defense. This from the organizations official website:
Judicial Watch announced today that a federal judge granted seven additional depositions, three interrogatories and four document requests related to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's use of a private, unauthorized email server. Hillary Clinton and her former top aide and current lawyer Cheryl Mills were given 30 days to oppose being deposed by Judicial Watch.
The court rejected Justice and State Department arguments to protect Clinton and the agencies from additional discovery and ordered agency lawyers to respond to Judicial Watch's questions about their knowledge of the Clinton email issue. The court granted all of Judicial Watch's requested discovery but gave Clinton and Mills 30 days to file any opposition to the requests to question them in person under oath.
The new court-ordered discovery allows Judicial Watch to take testimony and gather evidence of Clinton's handling of emails, specifically in an ''after action memo'' drafted by Heather Samuelson, Clinton's senior advisor at State and White House liaison. The memo was created in December 2014 to memorialize the Clinton team's processing of the Clinton emails. The discovery also asks for when Justice and State Department attorneys learned about Clinton's private email use; and what senior records-keeping officials at the State Department knew about Clinton's emails and when they knew it.
Judicial Watch's president Tom Fitton was able to elaborate on why the court ruled in their favor:
''Judicial Watch uncovered the Clinton email scandal and we just found more evidence that raises further questions about the cover-up '' which is why the court allowed us to pursue more leads and potentially question Mrs. Clinton under oath. As ordered by the court, Judicial Watch will continue to 'shake the tree' on the Clinton email issue. It is shameful that the Justice and State Departments oppose our efforts and are still trying to provide cover for Hillary Clinton.''
At the very least Hillary Clinton has to oppose Judicial Watch's request, but why would she do that? Sure, democrats will say ''she's been through this before'', but a federal court just said that there's enough evidence to bring her in for questioning.
Don't expect to hear this from anyone in the MSM, which is why it's up to YOU to get the word out.
Mueller Helped Saudis Cover Up Involvement In 9/11 Attacks: Lawsuit | Zero Hedge
Robert Mueller - pitched as an incorruptible beacon of justice when he was tasked with (unsuccessfully) hunting down ties between Donald Trump and Russia - was nothing more than a hatchet man for the deep state, who participated in a coverup of Saudi Arabia's role in 9/11 according to a new report by the New York Post's Paul Sperry - citing former FBI investigators and a new lawsuit by 9/11 victims.
According to Sperry, Mueller stonewalled after FBI agents discovered evidence of "multiple, systemic efforts by the Saudi government to assist the hijackers in the lead-up to the 9/11 attacks," while the former FBI director allegedly "covered up evidence pointing back to the Saudi Embassy and Riyadh '-- and may have even misled Congress about what he knew."
"He was the master when it came to covering up the kingdom's role in 9/11," said Sharon Premoli, a September 11th survivor who was pulled out of the rubble of the World Trade Center, and is now suing Saudi Arabia as a plaintiff in a new lawsuit.
"In October of 2001, Mueller shut down the government's investigation after only three weeks, and then took part in the Bush [administration's] campaign to block, obfuscate and generally stop anything about Saudi Arabia from being released," she added.
"Any letting the Saudis off the hook came from the White House," said former Agent Mark Rossini, adding "I can still see that photo of Bandar and Bush enjoying cigars on the balcony of the White House two days after 9/11."
Speaking with multiple FBI case agents, Sperry lists a series of incidents describing Mueller 'throwing up roadblocks' in front of his own investigators - "making it easier for Saudi suspects to escape questioning." And according to the lawsuit, Mueller "deep-sixed what evidence his agents did manage to uncover."
Via the NY Post:
Time and again, agents were called off from pursuing leads back to the kingdom's embassy in Washington, as well as its consulate in Los Angeles, where former FBI Agent Stephen Moore headed a 9/11 task force looking into local contacts made by two of the 15 Saudi hijackers, Moore testified in an affidavit for the 9/11 lawsuit. He concluded that ''diplomatic and intelligence personnel of Saudi Arabia knowingly provided material support to the two hijackers and facilitated the 9/11 plot.'' Yet he and his team were not allowed to interview them, according to the suit.In Washington, former FBI Agent John Guandolo, who worked terror cases out of the bureau's DC office, said then-Saudi Ambassador Prince Bandar ''should have been treated as a terrorist suspect'' for giving money to a woman who funded two of the 9/11 hijackers. But he was never questioned either, Guandolo said.Instead, Mueller obliged what Guandolo called an ''outrageous request'' from Bandar within days of the attacks to help evacuate from the country dozens of Saudi officials, including at least one Osama bin Laden relative on the terror watch list. Mueller assured their safe passage to planes, using agents as personal escorts, according to FBI documents obtained by Judicial Watch. Agents who should have been interrogating the Saudis instead acted as their bodyguards.In 2002, Mueller prevented agents from arresting the Saudi-sponsored al Qaeda cleric who privately counseled the Saudi hijackers, said Raymond Fournier, an agent with the Joint Terrorism Task Force in San Diego at the time. ''He was responsible for vacating the arrest warrant for Anwar al-Awlaki for passport fraud,'' Fournier said. He even ordered agents who detained the fiend at JFK to release him into the custody of a ''Saudi representative,'' Fournier said. The FBI closed their investigation of Awlaki, who was allowed to leave the US on a Saudi plane. ''Shortly thereafter, the Fort Hood shooting occurred and Awlaki's fingerprints were all over that incident,'' said former FBI Agent Michael Biasello, who helped work the Texas terror case.At the same time, Mueller removed a veteran agent from investigating a tip that an adviser to the Saudi royal family had met with some of the Saudi hijackers at his home in Sarasota, Fla., effectively killing the case, according to the lawsuit. The home was suddenly abandoned two weeks before 9/11.Mueller even tried to shut down a congressional investigation into the Saudi hijackers and their contacts in LA and San Diego, said Bob Graham, who led the joint inquiry as Senate Intelligence Committee chair. ''The strongest objections'' to his staff investigators visiting FBI offices there came from the FBI director himself, said Graham, in a 2017 interview with Harper's magazine. Among other things, Mueller refused their demands to question a paid FBI informant who roomed with the hijackers and even moved him to a safe house where they couldn't find him, Graham said. Mueller, with the White House, redacted 28 pages detailing Saudi-9/11 ties from the congressional report.He also gave testimony to Congress that was, at the very least, misleading. In an October 2002 closed-door hearing, Mueller claimed he found out about Saudi-9/11 connections only as a result of the joint inquiry's investigative work: ''[S]ome facts came to light here and to me, frankly, that had not come to light before.'' Only, Moore said he gave Mueller ''daily'' briefings on such connections in 2001. Mueller also testified the hijackers ''contacted no known terrorist sympathizers in the United States,'' even though the FBI's own case files showed they had contact with at least 14 terrorist suspects and sympathizers in the US prior to 9/11, including some working for the Saudi government. (In later testimony, he tried to walk this back, insisting he ''had no intent to mislead.'')***
"He's a villain, and an arrogant one to boot," said former FBI agent Mark Wauck, who called Mueller a "servant of the deep state."
Major University Study Finds "Fire Did Not Bring Down Tower 7 On 9/11" | Zero Hedge
Authored by Matt Agorist via The Free Thought Project,
On September 11, 2001, at 5:20 p.m., World Trade Center Building 7 suddenly collapsed into its own footprint, falling at free fall speed for 2.5 seconds of its seven-second complete destruction. WTC 7 was not hit by a plane. After it collapsed, Americans were told that office fires caused a unique '-- never before seen '-- complete architectural failure leading to the building collapsing into its own footprint at the rate of gravity.
Despite calls for the evidence to be preserved, New York City officials had the building's debris removed and destroyed in the ensuing weeks and months, preventing a proper forensic investigation from ever taking place. Seven years later, federal investigators concluded that WTC 7 was the first steel-framed high-rise ever to have collapsed solely as a result of normal office fires.
Naturally, skeptics have been questioning the official story for some time and after moving from the realm of conspiracy theory into the realm of science, an extensive university study has found that the official story of fire causing the collapse is simply not true.
This week, Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth announced their partnership with the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) in releasing a draft report of an in depth four-year study on what actually brought down WTC 7. According to the press release, the release of the draft report begins a two-month period during which the public is invited to submit comments. The final report will be published later this year.
According to the study's authors:
The UAF research team utilized three approaches for examining the structural response of WTC 7 to the conditions that may have occurred on September 11, 2001. First, we simulated the local structural response to fire loading that may have occurred below Floor 13, where most of the fires in WTC 7 are reported to have occurred. Second, we supplemented our own simulation by examining the collapse initiation hypothesis developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Third, we simulated a number of scenarios within the overall structural system in order to determine what types of local failures and their locations may have caused the total collapse to occur as observed.
After conducting comprehensive modeling and studying countless scenarios, the study's authors, J. Leroy Hulsey, Ph.D., P.E., S.E., UAF, Zhili Quan, Ph.D., Bridge Engineer South Carolina Department of Transportation, and Feng Xiao, Ph.D., Associate Professor Nanjing University of Science and Technology Department of Civil Engineering, concluded the following:
Fire did not cause the collapse of WTC 7 on 9/11, contrary to the conclusions of NIST and private engineering firms that studied the collapse. The secondary conclusion of our study is that the collapse of WTC 7 was a global failure involving the near-simultaneous failure of every column in the building.
The results of this study cannot be dismissed. It completely destroys the narrative that has been shoved down the throats of Americans for nearly two decades. What's more, this study backs up thousands of other researchers, scientists, and engineers who have been pointing this out for years.
In fact, as TFTP reported in July, history was made in regard to 9/11 as New York area fire commissioners called for a new investigation into the tragic events that unfolded that day. The resolution called for a new investigation due to the ''overwhelming evidence'' that ''pre-planted explosives . . . caused the destruction of the three World Trade Center buildings.''
On July 24, 2019, the Franklin Square and Munson Fire District, which oversees a volunteer fire department serving a hamlet of 30,000 residents just outside of Queens, New York, became the first legislative body in the country to officially support a new investigation into the events of 9/11, according to Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth.
The resolution calling for a new investigation was drafted by Commissioner Christopher Gioia and it was immediately and unanimously approved by the five commissioners.
''We're a tight-knit community and we never forget our fallen brothers and sisters. You better believe that when the entire fire service of New York State is on board, we will be an unstoppable force,'' said Commissioner Christopher Gioia, adding, ''We were the first fire district to pass this resolution. We won't be the last.''
According to the report:
The impact of 9/11 on the community extends well beyond the victims and their grieving families. On September 12, 2001, the Franklin Square Fire Department was called in to assist with the massive rescue and recovery effort that was just getting underway. Countless members of the department, including Gioia and Commissioner Philip Malloy (then rank-and-file firefighters), spent weeks on the pile searching in vain for civilians and fellow responders who might still be alive. Today, Malloy is one of thousands suffering chronic health effects.
The department also lost one of its own in Thomas J. Hetzel, affectionately referred to as ''Tommy'' by the commissioners. Hetzel was a full-time member of the New York Fire Department in addition to serving as a volunteer firefighter in Franklin Square. A touching memorial to Hetzel was on display during the meeting, and Hetzel's widow, parents, and sister were all in attendance.
''The Hetzel and Evans families were very appreciative of the proceedings,'' Gioia commented the day after the meeting. ''They know it's an uphill struggle. But at least they have hope, which is something they haven't had in a long time.''
The importance of this resolution '-- especially coming from a legislative body of fire fighters '-- is immense. The impact of first responders calling for a new investigation over the use of explosives is massive. The naysayers who call those who question the official narrative ''kooks'' will have a hard time going after fire commissioners.
This move and the study above are yet another blow to the highly questionable and hole-filled official narrative. As TFTP reported earlier this year, in another major move from the great folks over at the Lawyers' Committee for 9/11 Inquiry, Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth, and 9/11 victim family members Robert McIlvaine and Barbara Krukowski-Rastelli, a joint federal lawsuit has been filed to assess any evidence the FBI may have known about that contributed to the destruction of the towers on 9/11 which they may have kept from Congress.
The complaint cites the failure of the FBI and its 9/11 Review Commission to assess key 9/11-related evidence that the FBI can be shown to have had, or been aware of, regarding:
the use of pre-placed explosives to destroy World Trade Center Buildings, 1, 2, and 7;
the arrest and investigation of the ''High Fivers'' observed photographing and celebrating the attacks on the World Trade Center on 9/11;
terrorist financing related the reported Saudi support for the 9/11 hijackers;
recovered plane parts, including serial numbers from all three crash locations;
video from cameras mounted inside and outside the Pentagon; and
cell phone communications from passengers aboard airplanes.
According to the press release on Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth, this is evidence relevant to the 9/11 Review Commission's and the FBI's compliance with the mandate from Congress, which should have been assessed by the FBI and the 9/11 Review Commission and reported to Congress. The complaint also cites the destruction by the FBI of evidence related to the ''High Fivers.'' Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth has joined in bringing the counts that involve the evidence of the World Trade Center's explosive demolition and evidence related to the ''High Fivers,'' while the other plaintiffs are party to all counts.
Also, as TFTP previously reported, a monumental step forward in the relentless pursuit of 9/11 truth took place last December when a United States Attorney agreed to comply with federal law requiring submission to a Special Grand Jury of evidence that explosives were used to bring down the World Trade Centers. Then, in March, the group behind the submission, the Lawyers' Committee for 9/11 Inquiry, announced the filing of a ''petition supplement'' naming persons who may have information related to the use of said explosives.
According to Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth, the 33-page document contains 15 different categories of persons who may have information material to the investigation, including contractors and security companies that had access to the WTC Towers before 9/11, persons and entities who benefited financially from the WTC demolitions, and persons arrested after being observed celebrating the WTC attacks.
A names-redacted version of the petition supplement, which was filed with the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York on February 14, 2019, has been made available to the public. The un-redacted version filed with the U.S. Attorney today will remain undisclosed in the interest of maintaining the secrecy, security, and integrity of the grand jury proceeding.
As TFTP reported in December, for the first time since 9/11 the federal government is taking steps to hear evidence that explosives may have been used to destroy the world trade centers.
The Lawyers' Committee for 9/11 Inquiry successfully submitted a petition to the federal government demanding that the U.S. Attorney present to a Special Grand Jury extensive evidence of yet-to-be-prosecuted federal crimes relating to the destruction of three World Trade Center Towers on 9/11 (WTC1, WTC2 and WTC7).
After waiting months for the reply, the U.S. Attorney responded in a letter, noting that they will comply with the law.
''We have received and reviewed The Lawyers' Committee for 9/11 Inquiry, Inc.'s submissions of April 10 and July 30, 2018. We will comply with the provisions of 18 U.S.C. § 3332 as they relate to your submissions,'' U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman stated.
According to the petition, dozens of exhibits were presented as evidence that explosives were used to destroy all three world trade centers.
The Lawyers' Committee's April 10th 52-page original Petition was accompanied by 57 exhibits and presented extensive evidence that explosives were used to destroy three WTC Towers on 9/11.That evidence included independent scientific laboratory analysis of WTC dust samples showing the presence of high-tech explosives and/or incendiaries; numerous first-hand reports by First Responders of seeing and hearing explosions at the World Trade Center on 9/11; expert analysis of seismic evidence that explosions occurred at the WTC towers on 9/11 both prior to the airplane impacts and prior to the building collapses; and expert analysis and testimony by architects, engineers, and scientists concluding that the rapid onset symmetrical near-free-fall acceleration collapse of these three WTC high rise buildings on 9/11 exhibited the key characteristics of controlled demolition. The July 30th Amended Petition included the same evidence but also addressed several additional federal crimes beyond the federal bombing crime addressed in the original Petition.
The Lawyers' Committee concluded in the petitions that explosive and incendiary devices that had been preplaced at the WTC were detonated causing the complete collapse of the World Trade Center Twin Towers and Building 7 on 9/11, and the resulting tragic loss of life, and that ''the evidence permits no other conclusion '-- as a matter of science, as a matter of logic, and as a matter of law.''
''This Petition Supplement is intended to assist the Special Grand Jury by providing a roadmap for a meaningful investigation into the yet-to-be-prosecuted 9/11 WTC crimesthat the Lawyers' Committee has reported and documented in our Petitions,'' Attorney David Meiswinkle, President of the Lawyers' Committee's Board of Directors, said.
Finally, after nearly two decades of ridicule, dismissal, and outright intolerance of information contrary to the ''official story'' of what happened on 9/11, the public may finally learn the truth of what happened and who was behind it.
An ethical code was created by Tourist Union #63 during its 1889 National Hobo Convention in St. Louis Missouri. This code was voted upon as a concrete set of laws to govern the Nation wide Hobo Body; it reads this way:
Decide your own life, don't let another person run or rule you.When in town, always respect the local law and officials, and try to be a gentleman at all times.Don't take advantage of someone who is in a vulnerable situation, locals or other hobos.Always try to find work, even if temporary, and always seek out jobs nobody wants. By doing so you not only help a business along, but ensure employment should you return to that town again.When no employment is available, make your own work by using your added talents at crafts.Do not allow yourself to become a stupid drunk and set a bad example for locals' treatment of other hobos.When jungling in town, respect handouts, do not wear them out, another hobo will be coming along who will need them as bad, if not worse than you.Always respect nature, do not leave garbage where you are jungling.If in a community jungle, always pitch in and help.Try to stay clean, and boil up wherever possible.When traveling, ride your train respectfully, take no personal chances, cause no problems with the operating crew or host railroad, act like an extra crew member.Do not cause problems in a train yard, another hobo will be coming along who will need passage through that yard.Do not allow other hobos to molest children, expose all molesters to authorities, they are the worst garbage to infest any society.Help all runaway children, and try to induce them to return home.Help your fellow hobos whenever and wherever needed, you may need their help someday.Sources
Text of H.R. 4239: To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow for nonrecognition of gain ... (Introduced version) - GovTrack.us
To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow for nonrecognition of gain on real property sold for use as affordable housing.
1.This Act may be cited as the Affordable Housing Incentives Act of 2019 .
2. (a)Section 1033 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 is amended by redesignating subsection (k) as subsection (l) and by inserting after subsection (j) the following new subsection:
(k) (1)For purposes of this subtitle, if real property is sold or otherwise transferred to a public housing agency (as such term is defined in section 3(b)(6) of the United States Housing Act of 1937) for use or development by such agency as affordable housing to carry out the mandate (relating to affordable housing) of such agency, such sale or transfer shall be treated as an involuntary conversion to which this section applies.
(2)In the case of a sale or transfer described in paragraph (1), subsection (a)(2)(B)(i) shall be applied by substituting 3 years for 2 years.
(3)For purposes of subsection (a), if the real property described in paragraph (1) is held for productive use in a trade or business or for investment, property of a like kind to be held either for productive use in a trade or business or for investment shall be treated as property similar or related in service or use to the property so described.
(b)The amendment made by this section shall apply to sales and transfers made after the date of the enactment of this Act.
H.R. 4239: To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow for nonrecognition of gain on real property sold for use as affordable housing. : watchingcongress
James Mattis has a strained relationship with conservatives. The former Marine Corps general is revered by many on the right as a no-nonsense warrior and leader, but his relatively short tenure as secretary of defense under President Donald Trump did not go as well as many had hoped.
The release of the retired officer's new book may go a long way in redeeming Mattis with conservatives. A portion of the recently released ''Call Sign Chaos: Learning to Lead'' confirms what many on the GOP side have been saying for years: former President Barack Obama was shockingly weak on foreign policy and his handling of Iran was particularly alarming.
The right has long suspected that Obama was more interested in making nice with the Iranian regime than taking it seriously as a threat. Yet according to Mattis, the former president was so incompetent that he risked a major terrorist attack that nearly killed hundreds of Americans.
''Mattis says Washington didn't even inform him when Iran committed an 'act of war' on American soil,'' the Washington Examiner explained.
That act was a 2011 plot by two Iranians to detonate a bomb at the upscale Cafe Milano restaurant in Washington, D.C. '-- and it was apparently backed by the Iranian government itself.
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''Attorney General Eric Holder said the bombing plot was 'directed and approved by elements of the Iranian government and, specifically, senior members of the Qods Force.' The Qods were the Special Operations Force of the Revolutionary Guards, reporting to the top of the Iranian government,'' Mattis wrote.
He has no doubt that the plot was directly linked to Iran. ''I saw the intelligence: we had recorded Tehran's approval of the operation,'' the former secretary of defense said.
''It would have been the worst attack on us since 9/11. I sensed that only Iran's impression of America's impotence could have led them to risk such an act within a couple of miles of the White House,'' Mattis continued in his book. ''Had that bomb exploded, it would have changed history.''
The involvement of an agent from the Drug Enforcement Agency foiled the plot, but Mattis '-- then the commander of the United States Central Command '-- urged Obama to act decisively against the Iranian regime for its role in a planned terrorist attack just around the corner from the White House. Obama didn't listen.
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''We treated an act of war as a law enforcement violation, jailing the low-level courier,'' Mattis said.
And what was the reason for such a weak response? In his view, it was because the Obama administration was trying to befriend Iran instead of punishing it.
''The administration was secretly negotiating with Iran, although I was not privy to the details at the time,'' he said. That negotiation turned into a formalized nuclear deal with Iran, an Obama-era concession which Trump ended when he became president.
Mattis is a level-headed man, but his frustration and outrage with Obama is clear in the chapter dealing with the incident.
''In my military judgment, America had undertaken a poorly calculated, long-shot gamble,'' the former general said.
RELATED: Mattis Calls Out 'Indifferent' Biden for Helping Facilitate Rise of ISIS with Iraq Blunders
''At the same time, the administration was lecturing our Arab friends that they had to accommodate Iran as if it were a moderate neighbor in the region and not an enemy committed to their destruction,'' he continued.
And while Obama may be out of the White House, the threat of Iranian-backed violence against the American homeland should not be ignored.
''As long as its leaders consider Iran less a nation-state than a revolutionary cause, Iran will remain a terrorist threat potentially more dangerous than Al Qaeda or ISIS,'' Mattis cautioned.
If these recollections are accurate, then the United States may have dodged more than a few bullets during the Obama years. There are important lessons here, and no matter your opinion of Mattis, it would be wise to at least take his warnings seriously.
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.
Solutions journalism is an approach to news reporting that focuses on the responses to social issues as well as the problems themselves. Solutions stories, anchored in credible evidence, explain how and why responses are working, or not working. The goal of this journalistic approach is to present people with a truer, more complete view of these issues, helping to drive more effective citizenship.
Definition and theory [ edit ] Solutions journalism is rigorous, evidence-based reporting on the responses to social problems. Solutions stories can take many forms, but they share several key characteristics. They identify the root causes of a social problem; prominently highlight a response, or responses, to that problem; present evidence of the impact of that response; and explain how and why the response is working, or not working When possible, solutions stories also present an insight that helps people better understand how complex systems work, and how they can be improved.
Proponents of solutions journalism distinguish the approach from so-called ''good news'' reporting, which can be characterized by a superficial presentation of a response without careful analysis or examination of whether the response is effective. Solutions stories assess responses that are working today, as opposed to untested theories'--and they tend to place more emphasis on the innovation than on a person or institution responsible for that innovation.
Solutions journalism supporters believe that it provides an important feedback system that allows society to see credible possibilities and respond more successfully to emerging challenges. Compelling reporting about responses to social problems, they say, can strengthen society by increasing the circulation of knowledge necessary for citizens to engage powerfully with issues in their communities, and for communities, leaders, innovators, and philanthropists are to make appropriate, informed decisions on policies and investments.
Simply reporting on problems, some research shows, can reduce citizens' sense of efficacy, leading them to disengage from public life. In a 2008 study, the Associated Press found that young people were tired of news, which they perceived as being negative and lacking resolution. This resulted in ''news fatigue,'' in which people tended to tune out from news media rather than engage. Solutions journalism posits that reporting on ways that problems are being addressed can increase engagement among audiences, enhances a sense of efficacy, and fosters constructive discourse around controversial issues.
Solutions journalism practitioners say the approach augments and complements the press' traditional watchdog role, presenting citizens with a more complete view of issues. In addition, they say, it can enhance the impact of investigative reporting, by presenting evidence that entrenched problems can, in fact, be solved.
Proponents of solutions journalism distinguish the practice from civic journalism, a movement that gained some momentum in the United States in the 1990s by advocating for a more active role for journalism in the democratic process.
History [ edit ] As early as 1998, journalists noted the emergence of a new kind of journalism that examined what people and institutions were to address social problems. Some journalism critics observed that the governing assumptions of traditional journalism'--anchored in the belief that a reporter's job is to expose wrongdoing'--might not be universally valid. Simply reporting on problems, it began to appear, might not be the cure to all the world's social woes.
Other forms of journalism have similarly responded to a perceived excess of negativity in news media. Civic journalism, which gained some momentum in the United States in the 1990s, seeks to engage readers in public discourse in order to encourage active participation in the democratic process and catalyze change. Solutions journalism is also related to similar journalistic styles that have been practiced outside the United States, including ''constructive journalism,'' which originated in Denmark.
In 2003, the French NGO Reporters d'Espoirs, (Reporters of Hope) is created as a network of journalists and media professionals who want to "promote solutions-based news in the media". The organization is officially launched at UNESCO in 2004 with the Reporters d'Espoirs Awards. They promote the concept of "info-solution" and "journalisme de solutions", working with all kind of media to spread initiatives among the general public. Over the years, they demonstrated solutions-based editorial lines -with newspapers like Lib(C)ration, Ouest-France, TV programs like TF1- generate audiences and interest among citizens.
The Tyee, a Canadian news site founded by David Beers in 2003, includes a Solutions section. In 2006 The Tyee created Solutions Reporting Fellowships, raising money from readers to fund freelance journalist projects. An independent panel selected recipients until the program ended in 2013. In 2009 Beers and Tyee business director Michelle Hoar created the non-profit Tyee Solutions Society, which produces solutions journalism series published in The Tyee and with other media.
In the beginning of 2010, Robert Costanza, David Orr, Ida Kubiszewski and others, launched Solutions, a non-profit print and online publication devoted to showcasing ideas for solving the world's integrated ecological, social, and economic problems. Solutions' rule of thumb for all articles is no more than one-third of the paper should describe the problem, while at least two-thirds should be devoted to solutions. Over the years, as readership has steadily increased, Solutions has formed partnership with organizations around the world, including 350.org, Club of Rome, David Suzuki Foundation, National Policy Consensus Center (NPCC), US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Seventh Generation, Inc., Stockholm Resilience Centre, World Future Council, and many others.
In 2010, journalists David Bornstein and Tina Rosenberg also created the ''Fixes'' column for The New York Times' Opinionator section. ''Fixes'' is a weekly, deeply reported examination of the response to an urgent social problem. Reader response to ''Fixes'' has been strong, leading Bornstein and Rosenberg, with journalist Courtney Martin, to co-found the Solutions Journalism Network, an independent, non-profit organization with a mission to make solutions journalism a part of mainstream practice in news.
Criticism [ edit ] Journalists and readers sometimes respond negatively to the solutions approach. One common criticism is that solutions journalism easily devolves into ''feel-good'' storytelling or hero worship, rather than critically examining important issues in society. In fact, some news organizations have created specific sections to highlight upbeat ''good news,'' which can help generate advertiser or sponsor revenue. Proponents of solutions journalism argue that such stories do not represent rigorous, evidence-based reporting.
Critics of solutions journalism also have voiced concerns regarding potential bias and advocacy. There is a fine line, they suggest, between reporting on responses and actually advocating on their behalf. Solutions journalism supporters respond that an evidence-based approach to reporting diminishes the risk of bias, and that solutions stories should not be connected to a ''call to action'' for readers.
Others worry that many complex social issues do not have clear causes or clear solutions. This may require reporters pursuing solutions stories to have considerable expertise in a subject area'--and, even then, some believe that the resulting stories will inevitably be too simplistic relative to the reality of a systemic problem.
Proponents [ edit ] The Solutions Journalism Network works, it says, ''to legitimize and spread the practice of solutions journalism: rigorous and compelling reporting about responses to social problems.'' To achieve its mission, SJN works with journalists in a variety of ways to build awareness and the practice of solutions reporting. The Solutions Journalism Network has collaborated with numerous news organizations in the United States, including The Seattle Times, The Christian Science Monitor, The Boston Globe, PRI's ''The World,'' and the Center for Investigative Reporting, to produce solutions-oriented reporting projects.Positivas based in Argentina is the first BCorp certified media in Latin America, has been working to pioneer Construction Journalism on radio and multimedia content online since 2003. Journalist Andrea M(C)ndez Brandam, founder and host, has been inspired and coached by Shauna Crockett Burrows, Positive News UK founder.
Examples [ edit ] http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-healthcare-collaboration-20140319-dto-htmlstory.htmlhttp://kaiserhealthnews.org/news/san-antonio-model-mental-health-system/http://old.seattletimes.com/html/education/2025538481_edlabrestorativejusticexml.htmlhttp://www.pri.org/stories/2014-06-18/some-prenatal-care-community-affairhttp://www.ocregister.com/articles/police-383818-prostitution-santa.htmlhttp://www.noticiaspositivas.oghttp://www.reportersdespoirs.orgReferences [ edit ] ^ "A New Model for News: Studying the Deep Structure of Young-Adult News Consumption." The Associated Press and The Context-Based Research Group (2008). "Archived copy" (PDF) . Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-12-28 . Retrieved 2015-04-11 . CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) ^ Feinberg, Matthew; Willer, Robb (2011). "Apocalypse Soon?: Dire Messages Reduce Belief in Global Warming by Contradicting Just-World Beliefs". Psychological Science. 22 (1): 34''38. doi:10.1177/0956797610391911. PMID 21148457. ^ Bornstein, David. "Why Solutions Journalism Matters, Too". Opinionator. New York Times. ^ Protess, David (1992). The Journalism of Outrage: Investigative Reporting and Agenda Building in America. New York: Guilford Press. p. 14. ^ Benesch, Susan (1998). "The Rise of Solutions Journalism". Columbia Journalism Review. ^ Merritt, Davis "Buzz" (1998). Public Journalism and Public Life: Why Telling the Truth is Not Enough. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. pp. 4, 178. ^ "Reporters d'Espoirs, from information to action". ^ "Survival Strategies for Local Journalism". ^ "Solutions Fellowship Launched". ^ "Tyee Solutions". ^ "Tyee Home Grown Series". ^ "The Solutions Journal - For a sustainable and desirable future". ^ "What We Do". Solutions Journalism Network. Archived from the original on 2015-04-10. ^ Benesch, Susan (1998). "The Rise of Solutions Journalism". Columbia Journalism Review. ^ "HuffPost Good News Home Page". HuffPost Good News. ^ Sillesen, Lene Bech (Sep 2014). "Good news is good business, but not a cure-all for journalism". Columbia Journalism Review. ^ Rittel, Horst W. J.; Webber, Melvin M. (1973). "Dilemmas in a General Theory of Planning" (PDF) . Policy Sciences. 4: 155''169. doi:10.1007/bf01405730. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-09-30. ^ "What We Do". Solutions Journalism Network. Archived from the original on 2015-04-10.
Dogs are People Too!
Survey: A Third Of Parents Say Their Favorite Child - Is Their Pet! - Study Finds
NEW YORK '-- It may be hard for non-pet owners to understand, but our cats and dogs cuddle their way into our hearts and quickly become beloved members of the family. It's incredibly common for pet owners to fall head over heels for their companions, but a new survey reveals that many actually favor their pets over their own children!
According to the survey of 2,000 American pet-owning adults, 34% of surveyed parents say their pet is their favorite ''child.''
In all, 72% of the survey's respondents were both pet owners and parents, and a fifth of those pet-owning parents even admitted to buying a gift for their furry companion more recently than a gift for their own child. The survey, put together by pet food company ''I and love and you,'' also found that 67% of respondents consider their pet their best friend. Another 78% said their dog or cat is just as much part of their family as any other member.
Perhaps our pets just understand us more than other humans ever could: 54% of respondents believe their pet ''gets'' them on a level that even their best friend or significant other can't reach. Or, maybe our pets are just there for us much more often than anyone else when we're really in need. A startling 68% of respondents said spending time with their animals after a long day helps them feel far better that hanging out with family or friends. More specifically, 40% of respondents said their pet has helped them through tough times at work, while another 40% admit their pet has comforted them during relationship struggles. An additional 34% said their pet has helped them cope with medical problems.
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''Pets are more than just a companion, they love us unconditionally and make us want to be better people,'' comments Lindsey Rabaut, Vice President of Marketing for ''I and love and you'' in a statement. ''A pet's love brings out the best in all of us.''
Close to half (40%) of those surveyed called themselves a ''pet fanatic,'' and 44% of that group (17% of all respondents) even admitted to creating a social media account for their beloved animal. Also, 42% of these self-identified fanatics said they had thrown their furry friend a birthday party, and another 42% said they've bought clothes or accessories for their pet.
It seems that many pet fanatics are even willing to provide their pets with luxuries typically reserved for humans. For example, 41% of fanatics said they spend more money on their pet's food than their own, and 40% said they routinely let their pet sleep with them in bed.
With all of these statistics in mind, it isn't all that shocking that 68% of all respondents reported believing that ''pets are people, too.''
It's clear from the survey's results that pet owners want the absolute best for their furry friends, with 72% of all respondents stating their pet's food should be of the same quality as their own. Another 41% of respondents even prepare their pet's food from scratch.
The survey was conducted by OnePoll.
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Hams are People Too
September 30, 2019 ban on "offering for sale" Baofeng UV-5R
Here is a reminder on an upcoming rule change by the FCC: On September 30, 2019, it will become illegal to sell or ''offer for sale'' (advertise) radios like the popular Baofeng UV-5R that can operate in the FRS radio band (462.5625 '' 462.7250 MHz) and any other licensed band in a single device. Manufacturers will have to either quit selling them or block out the FRS bands''like they already do for the current cellular bands. This is the relevant verbiage:
§'95.591 Sales of FRS combination radios prohibited.
Effective September 30, 2019, no person shall sell or offer for sale hand-held portable radio equipment capable of operating under this subpart (FRS) and under any other licensed or licensed-by-rule radio services in this chapter (devices may be authorized under this subpart with part 15 unlicensed equipment authorizations).
I strongly recommend stocking up on dual band Baofeng UV-5R handie-talkies before this regulatory change takes place. Presently, if bought in a set of five, the cost per transceiver is only around $23 each, postage paid. By law, these may still be bought by any adult. But a license is needed to operate them outside of the no-license FRS, GMRS, and MURS bands. (That is, in the amateur operators' bands.)
Note that this upcoming ban WILL NOT be a ban on the possession or use of FRS dual band ham radios. Nor will be it be illegal to gift them to other adults. Hence, any that are legally owned on or before September 30th will effectively become ''grandfathered''. Read between the lines folks: The FCC doesn't want non-licensed individuals to own radios that can transmit in both licensed bands and unlicensed bands. My supposition is that this is because in the long term they don't want unlicensed folks to have plausible deniability for toting around ham band-capable gear. Ironically, it was a few boot-licking sycophants within the ham community that pushed for this rule change. Often, people jealously guard their own privileges and want to deny privileges to others who are not in their elite clique. This is essentially a Country Club Members mentality.
So, reiterating my advice: Buy a box of five of these, or perhaps two boxes, while they are still readily available and affordable. The FCC rule change won't go into effect until September 30, 2019. But if you wait until July or August, then it will probably be too late. It is very likely that by then they will be sold out, or their price will escalate. But for now, they can be had for just $23 per transceiver. Within another month or so, they will be history. The countdown clock is ticking. Don't hesitate on this one.
Also note that there will also be some room for profit from the upcoming ban. It is safe to assume that just in the months of August and September, you may be able to double your money, if you decide to sell off any of your spare ''new in package'' UV-5R transceivers. But starting September 30th, you will only be able to give them away''not advertise or sell them.
Update: Several readers wrote to mention that there are a few other more capable but still quite affordable Baofeng models that will also become import-banned on September 30th. These include:
The tri-band model (which also covers the 220 MHz band). This the BaoFeng BF-R3 Tri-Band . It comes with two antennas and a 3800mAh battery. It sells for $29 to $34.The more rugged dual-band UV-82. It sells for around $27. The UV-82 Long Range. This is the upgraded 8-watt model, with a better antenna. It sells for around $35.Regardless of the model that you choose, I recommend getting one spare battery (preferably the long 3800mAh capacity one), and at least one spare antenna per transceiver. The latter, because the Baofeng antennas are notoriously fragile.
For Baofeng frequency programming instructions (both from the keypad, and ''off-board'' with a CHIRP cable and PC), see this web page.
I hope that your readers find this information useful, and that you act on it. Again, the clock is ticking. '' JWR
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MANCHESTER, New Hampshire '-- Former Vice President Joe Biden fell into a near-coughing fit and called President Trump ''President Hump'' during his address to the New Hampshire Democratic Party Convention Saturday morning.
The sporadic coughs came between remarks the former vice president made criticizing President Trump over the administration's immigration policies.
"We have 330 million Americans that have to do what this president can't do, stand together and stand up against this god-awful situation we face with him as president. Stand up for our best, what our nation believes," he said. "We believe in honesty, decency, treating everyone with dignity and respect, giving everyone a fair shot and leaving no one behind. And giving hate no safe harbor. Demonizing no one '-- not the poor, the powerless, the immigrant, the other (cough) and maybe most importantly, leading, not by the example of our power but by the power of our example as we always have."
He continued, ''Being part of something bigger than ourselves. It's a code. It's been the American code. It's who we are, and President Trump does not get it (cough). America is an idea (cough,) an idea that is stronger than any army. Bigger than any ocean and more powerful than any dictator or tyrant. It gives hope to the hopeless. And not only our values under attack, our very democracy is. We've now learned nothing is guaranteed about democracy.''
He added, ''We have to earn it. We have to protect it. We have to fight for it. The most powerful (cough) '... the most powerful idea in the history of the world beats in the heart of the people in this country.''
Biden later jumbled a couple of words when he pleaded with fellow Democrats that they cannot allow for Trump to be reelected.
He explained, ''I believe history will look back at this presidency as an aberrant moment in time. But if 'Donald Hump' ... Donald Trump is reelected '-- Freudian slip. If Donald Trump is reelected, he will forever and fundamentally alter the character of this nation.''
When Biden attempted to add that Trump posed an ''existential'' threat to the nation, he struggled to pronounce the word and went on to say, ''It's not hypothetical, his threat to this nation.''
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XRSpace wants to solve a big problem for VR today: the feeling of isolation when using the technology.
Getty Images I pick up a virtual reality headset and place it over my eyes. Before I can even blink, it transports me to a world far away from the bustling IFA electronics show. I know that I'm in the bowels of the dismal Berlin Messe convention center, but my brain thinks I've managed to escape.
I wish I could tell you more about it. I wish I could describe the experience, what the hardware felt like, what the software showed me, what I felt. But I can't.
That's because XRSpace, the new mixed reality company from Peter Chou , co-founder and former CEO of HTC, won't let me tell you. Chou, in partnership with German wireless giant Deutsche Telekom, plans to launch something in 2020, but the companies don't want me to detail it until then. At IFA, I became one of the first people on the planet to use the technology, not that I can say much about it.
All I can tell you is that I wasn't alone in that virtual world.
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XRSpace is building something many others have attempted and failed: Making virtual reality truly social -- and accessible to even nontechies. VR, which has traditionally involved wearing bulky goggles, transports you to a digital realm by blocking out the real world. Most people use VR today for things like gaming or corporate training, and it hasn't become popular with mainstream consumers. When you're in that virtual world, you're usually alone.
"The current generation [of VR] is very gimmicky [and] hard to use," Chou told me on Thursday during a meeting at Deutsche Telekom's booth at IFA, Europe's biggest electronics show, which takes place each year in Berlin. "The experience is really solitary. You're not really engaging with people, and it's not meant for the masses yet. That's what we are really doing."
What that looks like will have to wait for next year.
XRSpace's secrecy can't help but draw comparisons to that other super secretive, alternative reality company, Magic Leap. The buzz surrounding the Florida startup reached stratospheric levels before it finally introduced its $2,295 Magic Leap One mixed reality headset for "creators" a year ago. Mixed reality is comparable to augmented reality, which overlays a virtual world on top of the real world. It's similar to AR phone games such as Pokemon Go, but it's more immersive, since you're wearing a screen millimeters from your eyes.
A year later, it's unclear whether the reality of Magic Leap will ever live up to the hype.
"[AR/VR] will be everywhere, and it will be for everybody."XRSpace CEO Peter Chou
Magic Leap isn't alone. Numerous companies have tried VR, AR or a combination of the two. Apple has made AR a big focus with the iPhone and is working on a headset, and Microsoft has pushed its $3,500 Hololens AR goggles for business use. Samsung has partnered with Facebook's Oculus on VR , and Google released a cardboard VR headset to get more people using the technology. Chou pushed into VR early at HTC with the Vive headset . But so far, the technology hasn't taken off with consumers. AR has had more recent success, but even its broad appeal has been limited to phone games.
XRSpace is different from previous attempts at AR and VR, Chou said. He learned from his time building the Vive and various smartphones, and he says he believes the combination of AR and VR has the potential to change the way we live as much as smartphones did. And XRSpace isn't making a "gimmicky" device for "creators" or "developers" like many of its rivals, he said, but instead is building something for the masses.
AR/VR "will be everywhere, and it will be for everybody," Chou said.
It's a lofty goal, but if anyone can defy the odds, it's the man who turned a little-known Taiwanese company into a mobile player and who stood alongside Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page at Android's coming out party 11 years ago.
The rise and fall of Peter ChouPeter Chou isn't a household name like Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, but ask a gadget enthusiast and you'll likely watch the person get misty-eyed about the HTC phones of old. That's because Chou brought a level of design polish reminiscent of Apple.
Think phones with an aluminum body -- years before Apple tried it -- or a unique geometric pattern on the HTC Touch Diamond. Chou made Windows Mobile phones sexy, something even Apple would've struggled to accomplish. These design flourishes emerged as HTC transformed itself from an under-the-radar manufacturer of devices carrying other brands to a company that proudly touted its own name, alongside the tagline "Quietly brilliant."
HTC was there for a series of firsts, including the first Windows Mobile phone. But it really started making waves after it joined Google and Deutsche Telekom's T-Mobile to unveil the world's first Android smartphone, the T-Mobile G1. The companies introduced the device in September 2008, a year after Apple started selling the first iPhone.
"Peter is a visionary," said Qualcomm President Cristiano Amon, who worked with Chou on the G1 and other smartphones. "He was the one that put Android on the map."
Peter Chou, the former CEO of HTC, is back with a new VR company, XRSpace.
Andrew Hoyle/CNET Chou has been credited for helping create the modern phone market and helping turn Android into a platform that rivals Apple's iOS. The experience on Android in the early days was clumsy, and Chou's HTC Sense software, which ran on top of Google's operating system, made it a lot more user friendly.
But as Android matured and heavy hitters like Samsung moved in, HTC hit a wall. In 2011, HTC shipped 11% of all smartphones in the world, according to Strategy Analytics. Today, it registers as "other."
"HTC is all but dead in smartphones today," Strategy Analytics analyst Neil Mawston said. "The chances of returning to former glories are slim."
Though Chou is credited with HTC's early success, he's also been blamed for its decline. In 2013, a Reuters report based on interviews with a dozen executives who'd worked at HTC said "Chou's abrasive management style and weak strategic vision play[ed] their part in the company's decline." Chou served as CEO for two more years, giving him over a decade in that position, before being ousted from the role in 2015 as the company faced negative reviews for its One M9 smartphone.
Chou, for his part, said a maturing phone market and price competition made it difficult for HTC to compete.
"So the company has to change one way or another," he said. "HTC is trying to change, but it's not easy."
As HTC charted a course with its Vive VR headset, Chou was off in another world with XRSpace.
A mysterious second actWhat that world looks like is something XRSpace isn't yet ready to disclose. I can broadly talk about what XRSpace wants to do right away (make VR more social) and kind of where it wants to go (add AR/MR to the experience). But I can't explain how it's trying to accomplish that.
The venture stemmed from a desire to figure out what comes after phones -- and what role 5G can play. The wireless technology is described as game-changing because of the speed and responsiveness it can bring to the wireless world. XRSpace and Deutsche Telekom say they think VR/AR is the future of computing and communication, particularly when 5G is widespread.
"5G is big, really big, but I feel like there's not much innovation going on," Chou said. "There's no great experience for 5G."
AR/VR, with its immersive entertainment, just may be the thing that shows consumers why they truly need 5G, Chou said. But first someone has to build an experience for it.
"I was a little frustrated," Chou said. "I didn't see anyone really serious in doing that. I felt that it was my responsibility to do this."
Though he's had a hand in VR for a long time with the Vive, XRSpace is different.
"What I'm working on is the second generation [of VR]," Chou said. "I want to make it much more consumerish, make it smaller, lighter, easier to use and creating beautiful avatars [in] a virtual space for work, for social, for entertainment."
The product and service will first be available to Deutsche Telekom customers in Germany before expanding around the globe.
By partnering with Deutsche Telekom, XRSpace immediately has a distribution partner and millions of potential customers -- 7 million postpaid mobile customers in Germany and about 44 million around the globe. More than 300,000 of those German customers use the carrier's current VR app, called Magenta VR.
"The possibilities of AR and VR are not yet fully understood by everybody," said Michael Hagspihl, the head of Deutsche Telekom's German operations. "It will be much bigger [than believed]."
Getting social The primary aim for XRSpace is creating a place for people to virtually interact and communicate with each other. The company isn't making its virtual social environment on its own but instead is working with developers to get them to build experiences for users.
"We want to make social very good," Chou said. "We want to develop really good digital avatars that can be everywhere, not just one little social app [where] you can only go chat."
XRSpace isn't the only company trying to make virtual reality more social. Facebook has created the Facebook Spaces app to let you hang out with your friends in VR using the Oculus and Vive headsets. You create an avatar that you customize to look like yourself, and then you can invite other Facebook friends to hang out or call them with Facebook Messenger and invite them into a VR chat. You can watch 360-degree videos, draw and hold objects and show off pictures in a VR slide show.
"This is the easiest it's ever been to bring the real you into VR," Rachel Franklin, head of social VR at Facebook, said when the company unveiled the technology two years ago.
But it's still pretty limited in what it can do.
A free Steam app for VR headsets, called Rec Room, provides a virtual arena for playing games with others. It's similar to Wii Sports, letting you choose a simple custom avatar and battle your friends in a variety of games, like paintball. CNET's Dan Ackerman in 2016 called it VR's "killer app" and said the games "are easy to pick up and play with little to no instruction."
Former HTC CEO Peter Chou (left) and Michael Hagspihl, the head of Deutsche Telekom's German operations, have partnered to bring VR to the masses.
Andrew Hoyle/CNET But other social VR apps have struggled. Second Life creator Philip Rosedale built an ambitious new company, High Fidelity, about six years ago to make VR more social, but in May, he said the company instead would focus on enterprise, helping remote teams work better together while it waits for VR headsets to catch on with consumers. He noted that today's VR headsets aren't comfortable enough to wear for long periods of time, and they can't be used to read and write messages or do work. And AR devices should take even longer to mature, he said, because of problems with see-through displays and size.
"If you had asked me, when we started the company in 2014, I'd have said that by now there would be several million people using [head mounted devices] daily, and we'd be competing with both big and small companies to provide the best platform -- but I was wrong," Rosedale wrote. "Daily headset use is only in the tens of thousands, almost all for entertainment and media consumption, with very little in the way of general communication, work or education."
In the key holiday quarter of 2018, consumers bought only 700,000 PlayStation VR headsets, 555,000 Oculus Go Units, 160,000 Oculus Rift units and 130,000 HTC Vive units, according to SuperData, a researcher owned by Nielsen. By comparison, Samsung shipped 69.3 million smartphones and Apple shipped 65.9 million iPhones over that same time period, according to Strategy Analytics.
XRSpace has ambitions beyond VR games, and it believes VR/AR will eventually replace phones.
"Today, everyone has a smartphone," Chou said, predicting that at some point, people will likely carry both a phone and glasses. "And over time, they might just forget [their phones] and go out with just the glasses."
Is that just the pipe dream of a tech executive eager for a comeback? My time with XRSpace was too brief to draw any conclusions. But if this secretive project has any chance of success, Chou and XRSpace are going to need to open up a bit more.
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Officials in the Bahamas have said that the death toll from Hurricane Dorian will be ''staggering.'' It's still heading north and whipping the Carolinas, making landfall Friday morning over Cape Hatteras.
But please, let's all stop and have a discussion about whether or not it was President Donald Trump or someone on his staff who used a Sharpie marker to extend the possible ''cone of uncertainty'' into Alabama and what it might possibly mean.
In case you missed this because you've been paying attention to actual coverage of the storm or you have anything better to do, the president used a map on which someone apparently used a marker to show that the storm might hit Alabama during a news conference Wednesday.
This came after Trump had said the storm might hit Alabama, saying that he knew ''that Alabama was in the original forecast.'' The National Weather Service in Birmingham seemed to contradict him on Twitter, and cue po-faced reports like this one from ABC News by people who ought to have realized perhaps this wasn't the part of the story they should have been emphasizing:
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And then there was this from Business Insider: ''People on the internet seized on the incident and submitted their own memes of doctored images with a black marker. But Trump's alleged edit of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration map could bear serious consequences after some legal experts pointed out it may have violated federal guidelines.''
They were talking about 18 US Code § 2074, which states that ''whoever knowingly issues or publishes any counterfeit weather forecast or warning of weather conditions falsely representing such forecast or warning to have been issued or published by the Weather Bureau, United States Signal Service, or other branch of the Government service, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ninety days, or both.''
Do you think ''Sharpie-gate'' is a non-story? 97% (2823 Votes)
3% (79 Votes)
In short, Rep. Jerrold Nadler is probably considering an impeachment inquiry, knowing him.
We'll get to how false Trump's alleged weather forecast was in a moment, but let's first go to CNN, which has breathlessly reported Sharpie-gate since its beginnings.
Here was a CNN map of Hurricane Dorian's effects pointed out by White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham:
Hi @CNN, I know you guys are busy analyzing lines on a map, but perhaps you use your time to study up on U.S. geography? pic.twitter.com/kVgifHfPK4
'-- Stephanie Grisham (@PressSec) September 5, 2019
Yes, that's Mississippi in place of Alabama.
''Hi @CNN, I know you guys are busy analyzing lines on a map, but perhaps you use your time to study up on U.S. geography?'' Grisham wrote.
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Here was CNN when they were forced to apologize:
Thanks, Stephanie. Yes, we made a mistake (which we fixed in less than 30 seconds). And now we are admitting it. You all should try it sometime.
'-- CNN Communications (@CNNPR) September 5, 2019
We've come a long way from James Earl Jones intoning ''This '... is CNN'' to the network sending out tweets where you can almost see the person who fired it off immediately standing up, hands raised above his head, clutching his Microsoft Surface, yelling, ''Oh! Would you like some ice with that sick burn, Stephanie? Would you? Are you not entertained?''
Now, granted, Grisham delivered her response with more than a soup§on of sarcasm involved, but that's because CNN has actively been covering this Sharpie/map story as if it were on par with the hurricane itself.
Trump, for his part, has still noted that initial forecasts showed there was a chance that Alabama might be hit by the storm.
Just as I said, Alabama was originally projected to be hit. The Fake News denies it! pic.twitter.com/elJ7ROfm2p
'-- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 5, 2019
CNN, however, said that ''spaghetti plots like the one Trump tweeted are not forecasts. Instead, they show raw output from a computer model, with their data taken into account by the National Hurricane Center meteorologists who issue the official center forecast.
''Additionally, spaghetti model projections from Sunday '-- when Trump first tweeted about Alabama potentially being in Dorian's path '-- didn't include any potential track for the storm to hit Alabama.
''Text at the bottom of the map Trump tweeted states, 'If anything on this graphic causes confusion, ignore the entire product.' It also says National Hurricane Center statements 'supersede this product.'''
This '... is CNN.
Here's the paradox of this whole non-story: If you believe that the president should give it up, you ought to believe the media should give it up as well.
There was an off chance that the hurricane would affect Alabama, albeit not to the extent the president said. It wasn't a huge one, but it existed.
Whether or not Trump drew on a map to make a point when he should have pulled an Elsa and let it go is thoroughly irrelevant when you consider how much digital ink has been expended on l'affaire Sharpie. If you don't believe me, take this piece from The Wall Street Journal, normally one of the more sober sources when it comes to covering politics and the White House.
''You can't make this up,'' Spencer Jakab reported late Thursday morning.
''Newell Brands, the company that makes Sharpie markers, got an overnight surge in popularity following President Trump's use of an apparently altered weather map to support his assertion that Alabama was in the path of Hurricane Dorian. The @Sharpie Twitter account, which last tweeted on Aug. 23 and had shed 172 followers in the past month, gained nearly 700 in 16 hours, according to Social Blade.''
Even if you could make this up, why would you want to? Why would you want to report any of this? The number of newsroom hours used to cover whether or not the president decided to get one over on the National Weather Service with a black marker could have easily been dedicated to the hurricane itself.
If that wasn't a priority for CNN, perhaps the time could have been used for remedial staff training in which someone with a laser pointer stood in front of a room with a map of the South. The trainer would point to Alabama and have everyone say what that state's name was. They would then move the laser pointer over to Mississippi and repeat the process. I mean, if they had enough time on their hands, they could probably expand the map and go through all 50 of the suckers.
Then again, given that these are people preternaturally fascinated with a Sharpie mark on a weather forecast map, I'd just stick with two states for now.
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.
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The Fort Smith Police Department in Arkansas has been engulfed in controversy after a 911 dispatcher, who has since left her position, was caught being pretty much a terrible human being to a desperate woman trapped in a flash flood. The words ''calloused'' and ''uncaring'' were used to describe the awful incident. At one point, the 911 dispatcher tells the victim to ''shut up,'' and that's after she scolded her for driving in the rain.
The victim, Debra Stevens, 47, was out driving and delivering newspapers when her car got swept up in the floodwaters in the early morning hours of August 24. Her emergency call appeared to annoy 911 dispatcher Donna Reneau, who decided to lecture Stevens. Stevens later drowned. Reneau had resigned from the department prior to this incident, but it doesn't negate the fact that her being selected as Fire Dispatcher of The Year probably should be rescinded (via WaPo):
Time was running out for Debra Stevens. But the 911 dispatcher didn't seem concerned.
''Somebody save me!'' Stevens screamed as the water level crept up inside her car, which was stranded in floodwater.
''I don't know why you're freaking out,'' the dispatcher, Donna Reneau, responded.
''I'm going to die,'' Stevens cried later.
''Yeah, I know,'' Reneau said.
Stevens did die, but only after the dispatcher told the Fort Smith, Ark., woman to ''shut up,'' chastised her for worrying that the phone call would cut off and berated her for driving into water '-- water the frantic flood victim swore she had not seen.
''Well, this will teach you,'' Reneau can be heard saying in audio of the call released this week by Fort Smith police.
''All of our first responders who attempted to save Mrs. Stevens are distraught over the outcome,'' interim police chief Danny Baker said in a statement. ''For every one of us, saving lives is at the very core of who we are and why we do what we do.''
Reneau's handling of the dying woman's call led to criticism and mistrust from the public.
''After hearing one of your dispatchers this morning '... I'm sick to my stomach,'' one man posted on a Facebook event for an upcoming Fort Smith ''Coffee with the Cops and 911 Dispatchers.''
''Don't call 911 in Fort Smith,'' another person commented under a police post promoting a Red Cross number for help with floodwaters. ''They will let you die and tell you to 'shut up,' while you beg for help.''
Baker said the police department would have disciplined Reneau if she were still on the force, the Times Record reported. But he said he did not believe the phone call warranted firing or a criminal investigation.
He did say, however, that Reneau may have failed to convey the urgency of Stevens's call to first responders, contributing to the woman's death.
This isn't the first time 911 dispatchers have been called out for their awful behavior. The list is rather extensive over the past couple of years. One woman pleaded guilty to hanging up on thousands of emergency calls in Houston, Texas. A New Mexico dispatcher was so annoyed with a mother trying to save the life of her dying son who was shot that he simply said, ''deal with it yourself'' before hanging up. The victim, Jaydon Chavez-Silver, died. In the D.C.-area, a dispatcher actually told a teenager to ''stop whining'' as her father was dying following a hit and run. That operator was later fired. One dispatcher in Chicago told a 911 caller to stop yelling at her before hanging up. And then in Lincoln Park, Michigan, an operator hung up on a teenager whose father was having a brain seizure. The reason: she swore.
This isn't all 911 operators of course, but there appears to be plenty who appear to be total garbage human beings and probably shouldn't be in their positions. And it has led to tragic consequences.
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