Amid the growing popularity of plant-based products, a doctor of veterinary medicine has suggested that the Burger King's Impossible Whopper has so much estrogen from soy that it could make men grow breasts.
In a report in Tri-State Livestock News, Dr. James Stangle of South Dakota rails against the alternative burger, made by Impossible Foods, and its use of soy protein as a main ingredient.
Strangle compares the soy-based Impossible Whopper to the beef Whopper, claiming that the plant-based version has 44 milligrams of estrogen while the original only contains 2.5 nanograms.
'Now let me refresh your metric system. There are 1 million nanograms (ng) in one milligram (mg). That means an impossible whopper has 18 million times as much estrogen as a regular whopper,' he writes.
An article claims that Burger King's Impossible Whopper has so much estrogen in its plant-based meat that it could cause men to grow breasts
'Just six glasses of soy milk per day has enough estrogen to grow boobs on a male. That's the equivalent of eating four impossible whoppers per day. You would have to eat 880 pounds of beef from an implanted steer [cattle that is raised for beef] to equal the amount of estrogen in one birth control pill.'
Despite Stangle's claims, there has been little evidence that has definitively proven these claims.
Conservative outlets like MichaelSavage.com and National File have also perpetuated these claims, with Tom Pappert, editor in chief of the National File, backing up the allegations.
'In short, the Impossible Burger is a genetically modified organism filled with calorie-dense oils that can make a man grow breasts if eaten in sufficient quantity,' he wrote.
Stangle: 'Just six glasses of soy milk per day has enough estrogen to grow boobs on a male. That's the equivalent of eating four impossible whoppers per day'
As pointed out by the Washington Post, Tri-State Livestock News is a trade publication for the livestock industry and its 'successful' publication is due to 'the long-term support from the publication's stockmen and agribusiness customer base.'
It would amiss to not acknowledge that thousands of cattle ranchers across the country have reportedly declared war against on their alternative competitors like Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat.
Stangler's latest critique of soy-based food is just one in a long line of arguments against the mock meat industry and their products.
The patty is made with soy protein, coconut oil, potato protein, sunflower oil and heme, a plant-based ingredient that makes the burger 'taste like meat', according to Impossible Foods
The Environmental Health Perspectives report that soy contain a high concentration of isoflavones, which 'belong to a class of compounds generally known as phytoestrogens.'
These plant compounds are thought to be 'similar in function to human estrogen but with much weaker effects.'
New York University nutrition professor Marion Nestle told the Washington Post that the apprehension surrounding soy has been an ongoing point of debate.
Nestle recalls reviewing a plethora of research material for her 2006 book, 'What to Eat.'
One all but said 'soy is poison,' while another resource maintains that, 'soy is the best health food ever.'
'Whether this is good, bad or indifferent depends entirely on who you read and what you read. There is an enormous, enormous, enormous amount of literature on soy estrogens, and it comes to sort of baffling conclusions,' she said.
'Some studies show harm, some studies show benefits. What do you do in a situation like that?'
According to Nestle, the best thing to do is look at cultures who have historically consumed soy products.
She said: 'Asians have been eating soy products for millennia and don't seem to be any the worse for it. They have among the longest lifespans and best health, at least in classic diets.'
'There is a special concern about . . . men and boys who eat soy products, but again, if you look at populations that eat a lot of soy products, there is no evidence of particular problems. No, they don't grow breasts.'
Nutrition Action, a website generated by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, say soy might have gotten a bad rep when a medical journal reported that a 60-year-old Texas man complained of sore, enlarged breasts and decreased libido.
The 2008 report said the man's elevated estrogen levels, which were eight times higher than the top of the normal range, were caused by his consumption of soy milk.
The man allegedly drank three quarts a day, an amount that Nutrition Action says, 'would have given him a daily dose of 360 mg of isoflavones, about 10 times what the average man in Asia consumes.'
When he stopped drinking soy milk, his estrogen levels lowered to normal levels.
Soy products like soy-based infant formulas, which had become popular with parents, cause the most unease.
The National Institute of Environmental Health acknowledges that despite there being no documented health concerns, infants are entering developmental stages.
'It is recognized that infants go through developmental stages that are sensitive to estrogens. Therefore, infants are more likely than adults to be vulnerable to the estrogen-like effects of the phytoestrogens in soy,' they said.
In animal studies, soy product has indicated, 'that health effects of possible concern include early onset of puberty in females and alterations in development of breast tissue.'
However, the Harvard Public School of Health warns that these studies should not be the basis of an individual's decision.
Stangle: 'There are 1 million nanograms (ng) in one milligram (mg). That means an impossible whopper has 18 million times as much estrogen as a regular whopper'
'Soy may be metabolized differently in animals, so the outcomes of animal studies may not be applicable to humans,' they say.
They also assert that soy 'may be broken down and used by the body differently in different ethnic groups, which is why individuals from some countries who eat a lot of soy appear to benefit from the food.'
When deciding how to manage soy products in your diet, Nestle says moderation is key.
'My take on soy products is that they're foods like any other, and like any other, they should be eaten in moderation,' she said.
'Eating it once in a while is unlikely to be harmful. Eating it every day and having it as a main source of calories, I don't know anybody who does that.'
OPCW management accused of doctoring Syrian chemical weapons reportWikileaks today publishes an e-mail, sent by a member of an OPCW fact-finding mission to Syria to his superiors, in which he expresses his gravest concern over intentional bias introduced to a redacted version of the report he co-authored.
The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons sent a team of experts to investigate allegations that a chemical attack took place in the Syrian city of Douma on the 7th of April 2018. The author of the e-mail was a member of that team and claims the redacted preliminary version of the report, misrepresents the facts he and his colleagues discovered on the ground. The e-mail is dated 22nd of June. It is addressed to Robert Fairweather, Chief of Cabinet, and forwarded to his deputy Aamir Shouket and members of the fact-finding mission to Douma.
He says this misrepresentation was achieved by selective omission, introducing a bias which undermines the credibility of the report. Further it is claimed that crucial facts, that have remained in the redacted version:
''...have morphed into something quite different to what was originally drafted.''
This is said to have been done at the behest of the Office of the Director General (a post that was held by Turkish diplomat Ahmet 'z¼mc¼ at the time, he has since been replaced by Spaniard Fernando Arias).
The attack in question was widely attributed to the Syrian Army, based on reports by rebel forces that were present in Douma at the time, and this assertion was backed up by the United States, British and French governments. These three countries carried out air strikes against Syrian government targets in response, on the 14th of April 2018. This was before the fact-finding team had gained access to the site in Douma, the mission there was delayed for nearly two weeks by entrenched rebel fighters and subsequent clashes between the rebels and government forces that moved into the area.
Upon arrival the team found much of the physical evidence, including the bodies of the deceased, was no longer available. It was alleged that 49 had died and up to 650 had been seriously affected by a weaponized chemical gas released in a specific area of rebel-held Douma on that day in April. Rebels claimed the gas came from cylinders dropped from aircraft, clearly implicating Syrian government forces who had complete air superiority.
The redacted report seemed to support these conclusions but the author of the released e-mail outlines some specific aspects of it which he considers: ''particularly worrisome.''
Firstly, there is a statement in the redacted report. It states that there is sufficient evidence to determine the presence of ''chlorine, or another reactive chlorine-containing chemical.''
The e-mail points out that this was:
''likely one or more chemicals that contain a reactive chlorine atom. Such chemicals could include'... the major ingredient of household chlorine-based bleach. Purposely singling out chlorine gas as one of the possibilities is disingenuous.''
The redacted report also removed context from a claim in the original draft, which concerned the likelihood of the gas having emanated from cylinders found at the scene in Douma. The original text is said to have purposely emphasised that there was insufficient evidence to affirm this being the case. This is ''a major deviation from the original report'' according to the author.
He also cites problems with paragraph in the redacted version, which states:
''based on the high levels of various chlorinated organic derivatives detected in environmental samples''.
This is said to overstate the case. According to the e-mail:
''They were, in most cases, present only in parts per billion range, as low as 1-2 ppb, which is essentially trace quantities.''
One piece of evidence, which was shown on news networks across the world, was a video said to show victims being treated in a hospital in the aftermath of the attack in Douma. The symptoms shown were, however, not consistent with what witnesses reported seeing that day. A detailed discussion of this was apparently omitted from the redacted version of the OPCW report.
The e-mail states:
''Omitting this section of the report (including the Epidemiology which has been removed in its entirety) has a serious negative impact on the report as this section is inextricably linked to the chemical agent identified'... In this case, the confidence in the identity of chlorine or any other choking agent is drawn into question precisely because of the inconsistency with the reported and observed symptoms. The inconsistency was not only noted by the fact-finding mission team, but strongly supported by three toxicologists with expertise in exposure to chemical warfare agents.''
Yet another point of contention is the placement and condition of the cylinders reported to have contained the chemical agent. It has been alleged that their condition may not be consistent with having been dropped from the air, compared to damaged in the immediate surrounding area. This was discussed in an unreleased engineering report from OPCW that was leaked and Wikileaks published in October 2019 and indicates it is unlikely the cylinders were air-dropped (see previous release: OPCW Whistleblower Panel on the Douma attack of April 2018)
Sections discussing this are largely absent from the redacted report. ''This information was important in assessing the likelihood of the 'presence' of toxic chemicals versus the 'use' of toxic chemicals,'' states the e-mail.
The author ends his letter with an appeal to the management to allow him to attach his differing observations to the document.
The annual conference of the states parties of the OPCW that is composed of representatives of all member states of the convention starts Monday November 25th in The Hague.
Media partnership and coordination: La Repubblica (Italy), Stundin (Iceland), Der Spiegel (Germany), Mail on Sunday (U.K.)
Seth Rich Revisited
Alt journalists are being sued by Wilkie Farr, law firm
representing Crowdstrike in a criminal suit The Journo suits are civil and
intendd to get info through discovery Seth Rich had an image of the DNC server
Image contained voting machine software, algorithms and 'deployment'
instructions Imran Awan case is part of this, he probably had hands on the
Google election fraud whistleblower Robert Epstein's wife killed
Vista woman, 29, seriously injured in I-15 crash in Escondido - The San Diego Union-Tribune
A 29-year-old Vista woman was seriously injured Monday morning when her pickup spun out across a rain-slick Escondido freeway and into the path of an oncoming big rig, authorities said.
It happened around 8:05 a.m. on north Interstate 15 near state Route 78, California Highway Patrol spokesman Officer Mark Latulippe said in a statement.
It was unclear why the woman lost control of her Ford Ranger, but the truck ''slid out of control ... and slid across the lanes into the path'' of a Freightliner semi hauling two dump trailers, Latulippe said.
The trucker was unable to avoid hitting the Ranger and struck the passenger side of the pickup, Latulippe said. A 19-year-old Santee woman in a Toyota 4Runner was unable to avoid the nearby collision in front of her and struck the Ranger.
Medics treated the Vista woman at the scene before Escondido Fire Department personnel took her to Palomar Medical Center with major injuries, Latulippe said. The 50-year-old Murrieta man driving the big rig and the Santee woman in the 4Runner were both uninjured.
A SigAlert was issued around 8:50 a.m. shutting down the left two lanes, but the lanes were reopened around 9:45 a.m.
A few months back, you guys covered a story about Dr. Robert
Epstein, the man that uncovered Google's potential election meddling.
On December 23rd, his wife was killed in a car accident.
In private conversations and on social media, Democratic officials, political operatives and pundits are reportedly reconsidering Sanders' chances despite seemingly writing him off as too far left.
While Elizabeth Warren had skyrocketed in the polls, it seems to be too early to forget about Bernie Sanders, the Democratic Party insiders said.
''It may have been inevitable that eventually, you would have two candidates representing each side of the ideological divide in the party. A lot of smart people I've talked to lately think there's a very good chance those two end up being Biden and Sanders,'' David Brock, a longtime Hillary Clinton ally who founded a pro-Clinton super PAC in the 2016 campaign, told Politico, ''They've both proven to be very resilient.''Democratic insiders said they are rethinking Sanders' bid for several reasons. Warren has recently fallen in national and early state surveys bringing uncertainty. Sanders, meanwhile, has withstood the ups and downs of the primary, including a heart attack. At the same time, other candidates who had high expectations, such as Kamala Harris, Cory Booker and Beto O'Rourke, have dropped out or languished in single digits in the polls.
''I believe people should take him very seriously. He has a very good shot of winning Iowa, a very good shot of winning New Hampshire, and other than Joe Biden, the best shot of winning Nevada,'' said Dan Pfeiffer, who served as an adviser to former President Barack Obama. ''He could build a real head of steam heading into South Carolina and Super Tuesday.''Several other Democrats noted that Sanders' chances of winning the nomination remain quite strong. California state Sen. Scott Wiener, who defeated a Sanders-backed Democrat for his seat in the liberal-heavy San Francisco area in 2016, said Sanders has been ''more resilient than I anticipated,'' adding that ''he has a very, very loyal following, and people have really stuck with him.''
Sanders is in second place in national polls, nearly 9 percentage points behind Biden, according to the most recent RealClearPolitics average. The latest CNN poll found he has the highest net favorability rating of any Democratic presidential candidate. He also avoided sustained criticism, unlike Warren, who has recently come under fire from the left and center for her health care plan.
''If you really think about it, Bernie hasn't been hit a lot with anything. It's not like he's getting hit by other campaigns,'' said Michael Ceraso, a former New Hampshire director for Pete Buttigieg's campaign who worked for Sanders in 2016. ''It waned a little bit because people were looking at other options '... and now they're saying, 'Wait a minute, this guy has been the most consistent of anyone.'''Faiz Shakir, Sanders' campaign manager, said political insiders and pundits are rethinking his chances ''not out of the goodness of their heart,'' but because ''it is harder and harder to ignore him when he's rising in every average that you see.'' And he welcomes a conversation about Sanders' electability, he said.
''We want that,'' he said. ''I'd love to be able to argue why he stands a better chance to beat Donald Trump than Joe Biden.''
This is not the first time that Sanders has been a serious contender for the Democratic nomination - in his previous attempt in 2016 he was beaten by Hillary Clinton. WikiLeaks later revealed that the Democratic National Committee conspired to undermine Sanders in favour of Clinton.
Mike Bloomberg Exploited Prison Labor to Make 2020 Presidential Campaign Phone Calls
FORMER NEW YORK CITY mayor and multibillionaire Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg used prison labor to make campaign calls. Through a third-party vendor, the Mike Bloomberg 2020 campaign contracted New Jersey-based call center company ProCom, which runs calls centers in New Jersey and Oklahoma. Two of the call centers in Oklahoma are operated out of state prisons. In at least one of the two prisons, incarcerated people were contracted to make calls on behalf of the Bloomberg campaign.
According to a source, who asked for anonymity for fear of retribution, people incarcerated at the Dr. Eddie Warrior Correctional Center, a minimum-security women's prison with a capacity of more than 900, were making calls to California on behalf of Bloomberg. The people were required to end their calls by disclosing that the calls were paid for by the Bloomberg campaign. They did not disclose, however, that they were calling from behind bars.
The Bloomberg campaign confirmed the arrangement in an emailed statement to The Intercept. ''We didn't know about this and we never would have allowed it if we had,'' said Bloomberg spokesperson Julie Wood. ''We don't believe in this practice and we've now ended our relationship with the subcontractor in question.''
The campaign said it did not know about the arrangement between ProCom and an undisclosed campaign vendor until The Intercept made its inquiry. The campaign then ended the relationship on Monday and said it has asked vendors to do a better job of vetting subcontractors in the future.
25 for 45
transmitting articles to senate is a house rules issue and can be changed with a majority vote
Joe Biden Says No 'Legal Basis' Exists for the Senate to Seek His Testimony - The New York Times
Politics | Joe Biden Says No 'Legal Basis' Exists for the Senate to Seek His TestimonyMr. Biden wrote on Twitter that he wanted to clarify comments in which he said he would not comply with a subpoena to testify at President Trump's impeachment trial.
Joseph R. Biden Jr. at Williamsburg, Iowa on Friday. Credit... Jordan Gale for The New York Times Dec. 28, 2019, 12:44 p.m. ET IOWA CITY '-- Joseph R. Biden Jr., elaborating on his remarks a day earlier that he would not comply with a subpoena to testify in President Trump's impeachment trial in the Senate, wrote on Twitter on Saturday that there would not be ''any legal basis'' for such a subpoena.
Mr. Biden wrote that over the course of his decades-long political career, he had ''always complied with a lawful order,'' and in his two terms as vice president, his office ''cooperated with legitimate congressional oversight requests.''
In the first of three tweets on the subject on Saturday morning, Mr. Biden wrote that he wanted to ''clarify'' comments he made on Friday, when he met with the editorial board of The Des Moines Register, whose endorsement in the Iowa caucuses is highly sought after by presidential candidates.
Mr. Biden was asked by The Register whether he stood by previous comments that he would not comply with a subpoena to testify in the impeachment trial. He said he did, and explained that complying with a subpoena and testifying would effectively allow Mr. Trump to shift attention onto Mr. Biden and away from the president's own conduct.
''The reason I wouldn't is because it's all designed to deal with Trump doing what he's done his whole life: trying to take the focus off him,'' Mr. Biden told the newspaper. ''The issue is not what I did.''
On Saturday, Mr. Biden elaborated on Twitter: ''I am just not going to pretend that there is any legal basis for Republican subpoenas for my testimony in the impeachment trial. That is the point I was making yesterday and I reiterate: this impeachment is about Trump's conduct, not mine.''
The House impeached Mr. Trump this month over his campaign to pressure Ukraine to investigate Mr. Biden and his son Hunter Biden. In the aftermath of Mr. Trump's impeachment, the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, and the minority leader, Chuck Schumer of New York, have been in a standoff over proceedings for a trial, in part because of Mr. Schumer's request to call Trump administration officials for testimony at an impeachment trial. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California has said she will not formally send the articles of impeachment to the upper chamber until she has assurances that the trial will be conducted fairly.
'It's About Trump's Conduct, Not Mine': Biden Doubles Down on Refusal to Testify at Impeachment
US21:26 28.12.2019(updated 21:46 28.12.2019) Get short URL
The Biden family is at the heart of the Democratic Party's effort to impeach President Trump, with both Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden accused of abusing their office for their own personal gain.
Former Vice President and 2020 Democratic Party presidential candidate Joe Biden has reiterated that he has no plans to testify at the upcoming Senate impeachment trial against President Trump, doubling down on earlier remarks in which he said he would not do so even if subpoenaed.
''In my 40 years in public life, I have always complied with a lawful order and in my eight years as VP, my office '' unlike Donald Trump and Mike Pence '' cooperated with legitimate congressional oversight requests. But I am just not going to pretend that there is any legal basis for Republican subpoenas for my testimony in the impeachment trial,'' Biden wrote on his official twitter account.''That is the point I was making yesterday and I reiterate: this impeachment is about Trump's conduct, not mine,'' he added.
But I am just not going to pretend that there is any legal basis for Republican subpoenas for my testimony in the impeachment trial. That is the point I was making yesterday and I reiterate: this impeachment is about Trump's conduct, not mine.
'-- Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) 28 Ð´ÐµÐºÐ°Ð±ÑÑ 2019 Ð".According to Biden, the subpoenas should instead ''go to witnesses with testimony to offer to Trump's shaking down the Ukraine government ''they should go to the White House.''
The subpoenas should go to witnesses with testimony to offer to Trump's shaking down the Ukraine government '-- they should go to the White House.
'-- Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) 28 Ð´ÐµÐºÐ°Ð±ÑÑ 2019 Ð".The former vice president has yet to receive any formal summons to the Senate's impeachment trial against President Trump, which is expected to start in January. However, on Friday, Biden told The Des Moines Register that he would not comply with a subpoena.
Bidens' Burisma BlunderBiden, Trump's potential rival in 2020, is at the centre of the Democratic Party effort to impeach the president. Democrats accuse Trump of attempting to strong-arm Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky into digging up dirt on his political opponent by restarting a criminal inquiry into the activities of Biden's son Hunter in Ukraine. According to Trump's opponents, the president threatened to withhold close to $400 million in military aid to Ukraine unless the inquiry was restarted.
Between 2014 and 2019, Hunter Biden sat on the board of Ukrainian energy company Burisma. Many Republicans believe Biden was given the $50,000 a month no-show job as a means for access to the Obama White House. Hunter and his father deny these claims. In 2016, Ukraine's top prosecutor began a criminal probe into Burisma and Biden, but the probe was frozen and the prosecutor sacked after a direct personal intervention by Vice President Biden. Later, at a Council of Foreign Relations event, Biden let slip that he had threatened to withhold a $1 billion economic aid package unless the prosecutor was fired. The former vice president later claimed the pressure was related to Ukraine's alleged 'backsliding on democracy', not his son.
Last week, US media reported, citing court documents, that Hunter Biden had been implicated in ''more than one criminal investigation involving fraud, money laundering and counterfeiting scheme.'' One of these investigations was said to have been related to Biden's former employment with Burisma.
After Dems Impeach Trump for Defying Subpoenas, Biden Defies Own Subpoena
Former Vice President Joe Biden on Friday declared he would refuse to comply if subpoenaed to testify in President Donald Trump's looming impeachment trial in the Senate.
The issue of responding to congressional subpoenas was part of the second article of impeachment House Democrats leveled against Trump.
''In response, without lawful cause or excuse, President Trump directed Executive Branch agencies, offices, and officials not to comply with those subpoenas. President Trump thus interposed the powers of the Presidency against the lawful subpoenas of the House of Representatives, and assumed to himself functions and judgments necessary to the exercise of the ''sole Power of Impeachment'' vested by the Constitution in the House of Representatives,'' the article reads.
On Friday, Biden met with the editorial board of the Des Moines Register, where Executive Editor Carol Hunter began the discussion by asking Biden about his past statements regarding a possible refusal to comply if the Senate issues a subpoena for him to testify.
''Do you stand by your earlier statements that you wouldn't comply if you were subpoenaed to testify in an impeachment trial before the Senate?'' Hunter said.
TRENDING: Patriots Player Shuts Down Buttigieg's Christmas Message About Jesus Being a 'Refugee'
Biden said he has not changed his mind, and blamed Trump.
''Correct. And the reason I wouldn't, is because it's all designed to deal with Trump doing what he's done his whole life. Trying to take the focus off him,'' Biden said.
Biden then insisted that despite claims from Trump and his allies that he had intervened in internal Ukraine politics to help his son, Hunter, he had never done anything wrong.
Should Joe Biden testify in the Senate impeachment trial?100% (11 Votes)
0% (0 Votes)
''The issue is not what I did. Not a single person, not one single person '-- even that thug [former New York City Mayor Rudy] Giuliani and his compatriots '-- have said I did anything other than my job,'' he said, insisting that everyone has said, '''Biden did his job and he did it well.'''
Biden then alternated between defending himself and attacking Trump.
''This is all about a diversion and we play his game all the time. His whole career. He's done it his whole career,'' Biden said.
''I'm very proud of the job I did,'' Biden said. ''I never, never, never moved off of dealing with corruption there. Every single person thought that prosecutor general should be fired, from the IMF to our European partners and all the people in the administration.''
Biden then had to get in a dig at Trump.
RELATED: White House Calls Nancy Pelosi's Bluff on Impeachment Delay: 'She Will Yield'
''But this is a technique he uses all the time. He's a chronic liar,'' he said.
Richards was more interested in asking Biden about his own actions.
''Doesn't that position you as if you're defying a subpoena, putting yourself above the law?'' she said.
Biden dismissed that argument.
''Well, look, the grounds for them to call me would be overwhelmingly specious, so I don't anticipate that happening anyway,'' he said.
Biden then said the establishment media was the culprit for his refusal to obey any subpoena, if one should be issued.
''But what it would do; let's say I voluntarily just said let me go and make my case. What are you going to cover? You guys '... are going to cover for three weeks anything that I said. And he's going to get away,'' Biden said, apparently trying to make the claim that the former vice president's refusal to comply with a subpoena would somehow not be newsworthy.
''You guys buy into it all the time. Not a joke. Think about it. As we say in my church, examine your conscience. Doesn't mean I shouldn't testify if you thought I should, but think what it's about.
''It's all about what he does all the time. His entire career. Take the focus off,'' Biden said.
Biden then insisted Trump had committed wrongdoing.
''This guy violated the Constitution. He said it in the driveway of the White House. He acknowledged he asked for help,'' Biden said.
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.
Intel probe may put CIA's 'Bloody Gina' and AG Barr on collision course
The prosecutor appointed by Attorney General Bill Barr to examine the origins of the Russia investigation is focusing much of his attention on the CIA, placing the agency's director, Gina Haspel, at the center of a politically toxic tug-of-war between the Justice Department and the intelligence community.
The prosecutor, John Durham, has reportedly asked the CIA for former director John Brennan's communications as he examines the January 2017 Intelligence Community Assessment that concluded Russian President Vladimir Putin intervened in the election specifically to help Donald Trump.
Barr has been skeptical of the agency's conclusions about Putin's motivations, despite corroboration by the GOP-led Senate Intelligence Committee and an adversarial review by former CIA Director Mike Pompeo.
But intelligence community veterans say the Durham probe could force Haspel to choose between protecting her agency from Trump's wrath and bowing to Barr's wishes; they point to FBI chief Chris Wray, who has found himself at odds with the president in recent weeks over a watchdog report about the bureau's conduct in the Russia probe.
And they say the Barr-Durham probe represents overreach by an attorney general who seems to have already made up his mind and is bent on imposing his own skeptical view of the Russia investigation on the intelligence community.
Haspel, a veteran intelligence officer known for her fierce loyalty to the CIA and acute political antennae, has rarely made headlines during her 19-month tenure atop the nation's top spy agency, turning her focus inward on building morale and boosting recruitment. That strategy has kept her out of Trump's sights and largely protected the CIA's more than 20,000 employees from the kinds of political attacks that have hobbled the FBI.
When it comes to Durham, Haspel is likely "confident there has been no serious wrongdoing, and will therefore find a means to cooperate" with the investigation, said John Sipher, a 28-year CIA veteran.
Trump often attacks the intelligence community, and said last summer that "the intelligence agencies have run amok" and needed to be reined in. But he's never openly criticized Haspel, instead calling her "highly respected" and tweeting last year that "there is nobody even close to run the CIA!"
Haspel's plight, though, may depend on how deeply Durham investigates an uncorroborated theory pushed by Trump allies that a key player in the Russia probe, a Russia-linked professor named Joseph Mifsud, was actually a Western intelligence asset sent to discredit the Trump campaign '-- and that the CIA, under Brennan, was somehow involved.
Haspel was the CIA's station chief in London in 2016 when the U.S. Embassy there was made aware of Mifsud's contact with a Trump campaign adviser, George Papadopoulos, by Australian diplomat Alexander Downer. Haspel was briefed on Downer's outreach to the embassy, according to a person familiar with the matter, but it's unclear whether she was then made aware of the FBI's plans to interview him or knew about the bureau's use of an informant '-- University of Cambridge professor Stefan Halper '-- in London.
Joseph Mifsud and George Papadopoulos
An inspector general report released earlier this month said the embassy's deputy chief of mission at the time briefed the FBI's legal attache and another official '-- whose title is redacted, but is Haspel, according to another person familiar with the matter '-- on Downer's outreach. The attache told the inspector general that Haspel, upon being briefed, said the Downer information sounded "like an FBI matter."
One former intelligence official said it's unlikely Haspel would have been read in to the FBI's subsequent operation given how closely held it was within the bureau and the Justice Department. But Trump's allies have been asking questions about what Haspel knew about the probe since before she was sworn in as director.
Barr, who has taken a hands-on approach to the Durham investigation, was reportedly in London over the summer discussing the probe with British intelligence officials. He told NBC that the purpose of his recent travel to the U.K. and other friendly foreign governments "was to introduce Durham to the appropriate people and set up a channel through which he could work with these countries."
Among those Durham interviewed while in London was Terrence Dudley, according to a person with knowledge of the interview. Dudley, a defense attache at the U.S. embassy, met with Papadopoulos in London several times in 2016 and was also interviewed as part of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation. Dudley did not return a request for comment.
"A U.S. attorney doesn't just show up to your doorstep in some of these countries and say 'Hey, I want to talk to your intelligence people," Barr said. "The countries wanted to initially talk to me to figure out, 'What is this about? What are the ground rules? Is this going to be a criminal case?'"
(C) Mark Wilson/Getty Images Gina Haspel is sworn in as CIA director with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence in May 2018.
Former CIA officials, however, said a U.S. attorney shouldn't be showing up at a foreign government intelligence service's doorstep at all.
"It is unprecedented and inappropriate to do this via Justice Department prosecutors, who will tend to apply the standards of a courtroom to the more nuanced, and often more challenging world of intelligence analysis," said John McLaughlin, who served as both deputy director and acting director of the CIA from 2000 to 2004.
Sipher asked why such a review would be "done over the head of" the intelligence community's inspector general.
"I find this troubling, and I suspect many inside the intelligence community do as well," Sipher said, specifically pointing to the CIA's Brennan records review. The inquiry "was initiated and sold in a partisan manner and this news only highlights that concern," he said.
Another issue former officials have flagged: It isn't clear whether Durham has consulted with the intelligence community inspector general, Michael Atkinson, as part of his review, which reportedly evolved into a criminal probe in October.
Normally, potential intelligence community misconduct is reviewed by an agency's internal watchdog, who would then recommend criminal charges if warranted to a U.S. attorney with jurisdiction, noted Greg Brower, a former FBI assistant director.
"It appears that the cart has been put before the horse," said Brower. "Here, Durham appears to be acting as a sort of super IG and prosecutor in one. The difference: Durham works for the attorney general, while the IC IG, like any IG, operates independently from executive branch direction."
In May, Trump gave Barr unprecedented authority to review the intelligence community's "surveillance activities" during the 2016 election, issuing a sweeping declassification order that granted Barr extensive powers over the nation's secrets.
The attorney general has since emerged as a chief protector and defender of the president, going so far as to disagree publicly with a finding by DOJ's inspector general that the FBI's Russia probe was properly predicated. And he's now leaning on Durham's investigation to produce a more fulsome picture of the intelligence community's actions in 2016, he told Fox last week.
"He is looking at all the conduct, both before and after the election," Barr said of Durham. "I certainly will rely on John."
Surveillance Court Orders Review of Actions by Ex-F.B.I. Lawyer - The New York Times
Politics | Surveillance Court Orders Review of Actions by Ex-F.B.I. LawyerAmid fallout from a scathing inspector general report, the court that oversees national security surveillance is also getting a new presiding judge.
A Justice Department inspector general's report has raised questions about the system by which the F.B.I. obtains wiretap orders and search warrants. Credit... Jason Andrew for The New York Times WASHINGTON '-- A secretive court that oversees national security surveillance has taken a step toward addressing dysfunction in the system detailed in a recent inspector general report, ordering the Justice Department to identify all cases that an F.B.I. lawyer heavily criticized in the report has worked on, according to an order made public on Friday.
Separately, the court announced that its presiding judge, Rosemary M. Collyer, is stepping down nine weeks earlier than planned for health reasons. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. of the Supreme Court has selected Judge James E. Boasberg to succeed her in that role in the new year. He will be the first judge appointed by a Democrat to lead the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court since 1995.
The developments underscored that the court has entered a period of turmoil and change after the report this month by the Justice Department inspector general that uncovered damning inaccuracies and omissions in applications to wiretap a former Trump campaign adviser, Carter Page.
The report has raised questions about the system by which the F.B.I. obtains wiretap orders and search warrants targeting suspected spies and terrorists under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA. The Justice Department must convince a judge on the FISA court that the target is probably an agent of a foreign power, and it is supposed to disclose any exculpatory information '-- not just facts that make the target look suspicious.
But the inspector general, Michael E. Horowitz, found that the F.B.I. cherry-picked and misstated the evidence about Mr. Page. Among the problems was that the law enforcement officials presented his long history of meeting with Russian intelligence officials but did not tell the FISA court that Mr. Page had sometimes told the C.I.A. about those meetings.
One of Mr. Horowitz's most serious findings was that during the period when the Justice Department was preparing to seek its third renewal of the Page wiretap order in 2017, a lower-level F.B.I. lawyer assigned to assist the Russia investigation team, Kevin Clinesmith, misled a colleague by altering an email from the C.I.A. about its relationship with him.
Mr. Horowitz has referred his findings about Mr. Clinesmith, who has resigned from the F.B.I., to prosecutors. The Justice Department also informed the FISA court about the issue in classified filings in October and November, according to a newly declassified order. But the order, issued Dec. 5 and made public on Friday, indicated that the court wants more action.
Judge Collyer, as the presiding judge on the 11-member court, ordered the department to identify any other FISA applications that Mr. Clinesmith may have worked on. If there are any others, she said, the department or F.B.I. must explain what steps it would take to ensure every fact in them was accurate.
Judge Collyer also asked whether the Justice Department was referring the matter to Mr. Clinesmith's bar association for potential disciplinary action, like losing his license. (He was not named in the inspector general report or in the newly declassified order, which is partly redacted, but people familiar with the Russia inquiry have identified him.)
A spokesman for the Justice Department, which had until Friday to respond, declined to comment. A lawyer for Mr. Clinesmith did not immediate respond to a request for comment.
In another order this week, after Mr. Horowitz released his report, Judge Collyer rebuked the F.B.I. and demanded a proposal by Jan. 10 for an overhaul to ensure the accuracy of every court filing.
The two orders may end up being her last major actions as the court's presiding judge. Although her tenure was set to end on March 7, when her term on the court would also end, she will step down at the end of this month and Judge Boasberg will take over in that role, the court said on Friday. Judge Collyer will serve as a regular FISA judge for the duration of her term.
In recent days, Judge Collyer has been drawn into the partisan fighting over the Russia investigation, as some Republicans and allies of President Trump have criticized her for waiting until Mr. Horowitz delivered his findings before intervening in the Page FISA dispute.
Judge Collyer's decision to step down from her presiding position nine weeks early stems from health problems and is unrelated to the Page wiretap controversy, said David Sellers, a spokesman for the FISA court.
While the 10 regular FISA court judges serve only once every 11 weeks '-- hearing routine wiretap applications for a week at a time '-- the presiding judge has constant administrative duties and tends to handle major issues that arise, like responding to the fallout from the inspector general report.
Chief Justice Roberts, in his role as the chief administrator of the judicial branch, selects which serving federal judges will sit for staggered, seven-year terms on the surveillance court. He also decides which of its 11 members will serve as its presiding judge.
Judge Boasberg was appointed to the United States District Court for the District of Columbia by President Barack Obama in 2011, and became a FISA court judge in 2014. He will be the first appointee by a Democratic president to serve as presiding judge since Judge Joyce Hens Green, a Carter appointee, completed her tenure in that role nearly a quarter-century ago.
President George W. Bush appointed Judge Collyer to the Federal District Court in the District of Columbia in 2002. Chief Justice Roberts placed her on the FISA court in 2013, then elevated her to its presiding judge in 2016. That same year, she took senior status '-- semiretirement with reduced duties '-- from her regular judgeship.
Adam Goldman contributed reporting.
Just a note on this thing...
first, John was wrong with saying attendance isn't checked
unless it is a rinky-dink university. I graduated from Temple in Philly in
1996, and of course attendance was part of the grade. If you missed more than
four classes, you might fail (if memory serves me correct). And Temple
University certainly isn't rinky-dink. For an English and History double major,
it was quite necessary to attend anyway.
Maybe for the science courses, John has a point.
Otherwise... attendance does and always has mattered for other majors.
On the other side of the fence as an associate professor...
students not coming to class or arriving late is a huge disruption. Class sizes
university level for English are 12-20 as a standard here in South Korea
My university is trying to introduce (we have a choice to
use it now) this stupid system matched with the students' smart(dumb)phone for
automatic attendance linked to the smartphone. It just started this semester.
First, I don't need a smartphone system to track students. I
can handle that myself. It is dumbing down also the role of professors.
Secondly, I see ways fr students to mess with it or cheat it. How about we just
say "no" (or at least I will until I have no choice but to use this
anyway... looking for an Israel site for a meetup there,
after I leave Jordan....
aside from a No Agenda meetup shot (if people appear)... let
me know if there is anything else of value I can add to the meetup to
contribute to the best podcast in the universe while abroad (as my audio
contribution tidbits go on hiatus until I return to the Perch for the spring
semester in early March)...
Twitter Bug Exposed Millions of User Phone Numbers - CoinDesk
A security researcher was able to use a bug in the Twitter Android app to identify millions of Twitter users, connecting their phone numbers to their Twitter IDs. The exploit could expose failures in the company's two-factor authentication system and give other security developers pause.
According to a TechCrunch report, the researcher, Ibrahim Balic, created randomized lists of phone numbers and sent them to Twitter.
''If you upload your phone number, it fetches user data in return,'' he said.
The user data allowed Balic to find phone numbers for many major Twitter "celebrities" including the private number of a "senior Israeli politician."
''Upon learning of this bug, we suspended the accounts used to inappropriately access people's personal information. Protecting the privacy and safety of the people who use Twitter is our number one priority and we remain focused on rapidly stopping spam and abuse originating from use of Twitter's APIs,'' a Twitter spokesperson said.
The bug exposed user accounts when Balic uploaded millions of phone numbers and asked Twitter to match them with users. Typically this interface is used only when new users install the app on their phone but, using a set of API calls, Balic was able to spoof this behavior. The resulting breach of privacy - essentially connecting real numbers to real Twitter handles - could reduce the efficacy of two-factor authentication schemes popular on financial applications and wallets.
Image via Shutterstock.
Disclosure Read More The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.
Behind the One-Way Mirror: A Deep Dive Into the Technology of Corporate Surveillance | Electronic Frontier Foundation
IntroductionTrackers are hiding in nearly every corner of today's Internet, which is to say nearly every corner of modern life. The average web page shares data with dozens of third-parties. The average mobile app does the same, and many apps collect highly sensitive information like location and call records even when they're not in use. Tracking also reaches into the physical world. Shopping centers use automatic license-plate readers to track traffic through their parking lots, then share that data with law enforcement. Businesses, concert organizers, and political campaigns use Bluetooth and WiFi beacons to perform passive monitoring of people in their area. Retail stores use face recognition to identify customers, screen for theft, and deliver targeted ads.
The tech companies, data brokers, and advertisers behind this surveillance, and the technology that drives it, are largely invisible to the average user. Corporations have built a hall of one-way mirrors: from the inside, you can see only apps, web pages, ads, and yourself reflected by social media. But in the shadows behind the glass, trackers quietly take notes on nearly everything you do. These trackers are not omniscient, but they are widespread and indiscriminate. The data they collect and derive is not perfect, but it is nevertheless extremely sensitive.
This paper will focus on corporate ''third-party'' tracking: the collection of personal information by companies that users don't intend to interact with. It will shed light on the technical methods and business practices behind third-party tracking. For journalists, policy makers, and concerned consumers, we hope this paper will demystify the fundamentals of third-party tracking, explain the scope of the problem, and suggest ways for users and legislation to fight back against the status quo.
Part 1 breaks down ''identifiers,'' or the pieces of information that trackers use to keep track of who is who on the web, on mobile devices, and in the physical world. Identifiers let trackers link behavioral data to real people.
Part 2 describes the techniques that companies use to collect those identifiers and other information. It also explores how the biggest trackers convince other businesses to help them build surveillance networks.
Part 3 goes into more detail about how and why disparate actors share information with each other. Not every tracker engages in every kind of tracking. Instead, a fragmented web of companies collect data in different contexts, then share or sell it in order to achieve specific goals.
Finally, Part 4 lays out actions consumers and policy makers can take to fight back. To start, consumers can change their tools and behaviors to block tracking on their devices. Policy makers must adopt comprehensive privacy laws to rein in third-party tracking.
ContentsIntroduction First-party vs. third-party tracking What do they know?Part 1: Whose Data is it Anyway: How Do Trackers Tie Data to People? Identifiers on the Web
Identifiers on mobile devices Real-world identifiers Linking identifiers over timePart 2: From bits to Big Data: What do tracking networks look like? Tracking in software: Websites and Apps
Passive, real-world tracking Tracking and corporate powerPart 3: Data sharing: Targeting, brokers, and real-time bidding Real-time bidding
Group targeting and look-alike audiences Data brokers Data consumersPart 4: Fighting back On the web
On mobile phones IRL In the legislature
First-party vs. third-party trackingThe biggest companies on the Internet collect vast amounts of data when people use their services. Facebook knows who your friends are, what you ''Like,'' and what kinds of content you read on your newsfeed. Google knows what you search for and where you go when you're navigating with Google Maps. Amazon knows what you shop for and what you buy.
The data that these companies collect through their own products and services is called ''first-party data.'' This information can be extremely sensitive, and companies have a long track record of mishandling it. First-party data is sometimes collected as part of an implicit or explicit contract: choose to use our service, and you agree to let us use the data we collect while you do. More users are coming to understand that for many free services, they are the product, even if they don't like it.
However, companies collect just as much personal information, if not more, about people who aren't using their services. For example, Facebook collects information about users of other websites and apps with its invisible ''conversion pixels.'' Likewise, Google uses location data to track user visits to brick and mortar stores. And thousand of other data brokers, advertisers, and other trackers lurk in the background of our day-to-day web browsing and device use. This is known as ''third-party tracking.'' Third-party tracking is much harder to identify without a trained eye, and it's nearly impossible to avoid completely.
What do they know?Many consumers are familiar with the most blatant privacy-invasive potential of their devices. Every smartphone is a pocket-sized GPS tracker, constantly broadcasting its location to parties unknown via the Internet. Internet-connected devices with cameras and microphones carry the inherent risk of conversion into silent wiretaps. And the risks are real: location data has been badly abused in the past. Amazon and Google have both allowed employees to listen to audio recorded by their in-home listening devices, Alexa and Home. And front-facing laptop cameras have been used by schools to spy on students in their homes.
But these better known surveillance channels are not the most common, or even necessarily the most threatening to our privacy. Even though we spend many of our waking hours in view of our devices' Internet-connected cameras, it's exceedingly rare for them to record anything without a user's express intent. And to avoid violating federal and state wiretapping laws, tech companies typically refrain from secretly listening in on users' conversations. As the rest of this paper will show, trackers learn more than enough from thousands of less dramatic sources of data. The unsettling truth is that although Facebook doesn't listen to you through your phone, that's just because it doesn't need to.
The most prevalent threat to our privacy is the slow, steady, relentless accumulation of relatively mundane data points about how we live our lives. This includes things like browsing history, app usage, purchases, and geolocation data. These humble parts can be combined into an exceptionally revealing whole. Trackers assemble data about our clicks, impressions, taps, and movement into sprawling behavioral profiles, which can reveal political affiliation, religious belief, sexual identity and activity, race and ethnicity, education level, income bracket, purchasing habits, and physical and mental health.
Despite the abundance of personal information they collect, tracking companies frequently use this data to derive conclusions that are inaccurate or wrong. Behavioral advertising is the practice of using data about a user's behavior to predict what they like, how they think, and what they are likely to buy, and it drives much of the third-party tracking industry. While behavioral advertisers sometimes have access to precise information, they often deal in sweeping generalizations and ''better than nothing'' statistical guesses. Users see the results when both uncannily accurate and laughably off-target advertisements follow them around the web. Across the marketing industry, trackers use petabytes of personal data to power digital tea reading. Whether trackers' inferences are correct or not, the data they collect represents a disproportionate invasion of privacy, and the decisions they make based on that data can cause concrete harm.
Part 1: Whose Data is it Anyway: How Do Trackers Tie Data to People?Most third-party tracking is designed to build profiles of real people. That means every time a tracker collects a piece of information, it needs an identifier'--something it can use to tie that information to a particular person. Sometimes a tracker does so indirectly: by correlating collected data with a particular device or browser, which might in turn later be correlated to one person or perhaps a small group of people like a household.
To keep track of who is who, trackers need identifiers that are unique, persistent, and available. In other words, a tracker is looking for information (1) that points only to you or your device, (2) that won't change, and (3) that it has easy access to. Some potential identifiers fit all three of these requirements, but trackers can still make use of an identifier that checks only two of these three boxes. And trackers can combine multiple weak identifiers to create a single, strong one.
An identifier that checks all three boxes might be a name, an email, or a phone number. It might also be a ''name'' that the tracker itself gives you, like ''af64a09c2'' or ''921972136.1561665654''. What matters most to the tracker is that the identifier points to you and only you. Over time, it can build a rich enough profile about the person known as ''af64a09c2'''--where they live, what they read, what they buy'--that a conventional name is not necessary. Trackers can use artificial identifiers, like cookies and mobile ad IDs, to reach users with targeted messaging. And data that isn't tied to a real name is no less sensitive: ''anonymous'' profiles of personal information can nearly always be linked back to real people.
Some types of identifiers, like cookies, are features built into the tech that we use. Others, like browser fingerprints, emerge from the way those technologies work. This section will break down how trackers on the web and in mobile apps are able to identify and attribute data points.
This section will describe a representative sample of identifiers that third-party trackers can use. It is not meant to be exhaustive; there are more ways for trackers to identify users than we can hope to cover, and new identifiers will emerge as technology evolves. The tables below give a brief overview of how unique, persistent, and available each type of identifier is.
UniquePersistentAvailableLicense plateYesYesYesFace printYesYesYesCredit card numberYesYes, for months or yearsTo any companies involved in payment processingIdentifiers on the WebBrowsers are the primary way most people interact with the Web. Each time you visit a website, code on that site may cause your browser to make dozens or even hundreds of requests to hidden third parties. Each request contains several pieces of information that can be used to track you.
Anatomy of a RequestAlmost every piece of data transmitted between your browser and the servers of the websites you interact with occurs in the form of an HTTP request. Basically, your browser asks a web server for content by sending it a particular URL. The web server can respond with content, like text or an image, or with a simple acknowledgement that it received your request. It can also respond with a cookie, which can contain a unique identifier for tracking purposes.
Each website you visit kicks off dozens or hundreds of different requests. The URL you see in the address bar of your browser is the address for the first request, but hundreds of other requests are made in the background. These requests can be used for loading images, code, and styles, or simply for sharing data.
Parts of a URL. The domain tells your computer where to send the request, while the path and parameters carry information that may be interpreted by the receiving server however it wants.
The URL itself contains a few different pieces of information. First is the domain, like ''nytimes.com''. This tells your browser which server to connect to. Next is the path, a string at the end of the domain like ''/section/world.html''. The server at nytimes.com chooses how to interpret the path, but it usually specifies a piece of content to serve'--in this case, the world news section. Finally, some URLs have parameters at the end in the form of ''?key1=value1&key2=value2''. The parameters usually carry extra information about the request, including queries made by the user, context about the page, and tracking identifiers.
The path of a request. After it leaves your machine, the request is redirected by your router to your ISP, which sends it through a series of intermediary routing stations in ''the Internet.'' Finally, it arrives at the server specified by the domain, which can decide how (or if) to respond.
The URL isn't all that gets sent to the server. There are also HTTP headers, which contain extra information about the request like your device's language and security settings, the ''referring'' URL, and cookies. For example, the User-Agent header identifies your browser type, version, and operating system. There's also lower-level information about the connection, including IP address and shared encryption state. Some requests contain even more configurable information in the form of POST data. POST requests are a way for websites to share chunks of data that are too large or unwieldy to fit in a URL. They can contain just about anything.
Some of this information, like the URL and POST data, is specifically tailored for each individual request; other parts, like your IP address and any cookies, are sent automatically by your machine. Almost all of it can be used for tracking.
Data included with a background request. In the image, although the user has navigated to fafsa.gov, the page triggers a third-party request to facebook.com in the background. The URL isn't the only information that gets sent to the receiving server; HTTP Headers contain information like your User Agent string and cookies, and POST data can contain anything that the server wants.
The animation immediately above contains data we collected directly from a normal version of Firefox. If you want to check it out for yourself, you can. All major browsers have an ''inspector'' or ''developer'' mode which allows users to see what's going on behind the scenes, including all requests coming from a particular tab. In Chrome and Firefox, you can access this interface with Crtl+Shift+I (or '+Shift+I on Mac). The ''Network'' tab has a log of all the requests made by a particular page, and you can click on each one to see where it's going and what information it contains.
Identifiers shared automaticallySome identifiable information is shared automatically along with each request. This is either by necessity'--as with IP addresses, which are required by the underlying protocols that power the Internet'--or by design'--as with cookies. Trackers don't need to do anything more than trigger a request, any request, in order to collect the information described here.
Each time you visit a website by typing in a URL or clicking on a link, your computer makes a request to that website's server (the ''first party''). It may also make dozens or hundreds of requests to other servers, many of which may be able to track you.
CookiesThe most common tool for third-party tracking is the HTTP cookie. A cookie is a small piece of text that is stored in your browser, associated with a particular domain. Cookies were invented to help website owners determine whether a user had visited their site before, which makes them ideal for behavioral tracking. Here's how they work.
The first time your browser makes a request to a domain (like www.facebook.com), the server can attach a Set-Cookie header to its reply. This will tell your browser to store whatever value the website wants'--for example, `c_user:"100026095248544"` (an actual Facebook cookie taken from the author's browser). Then, every time your browser makes a request to www.facebook.com in the future, it sends along the cookie that was set earlier. That way, every time Facebook gets a request, it knows which individual user or device it's coming from.
The first time a browser makes a request to a new server, the server can reply with a ''Set-Cookie'' header that stores a tracking cookie in the browser.
Not every cookie is a tracker. Cookies are also the reason that you don't have to log in every single time you visit a website, as well as the reason your cart doesn't empty if you leave a website in the middle of shopping. Cookies are just a means of sharing information from your browser to the website you are visiting. However, they are designed to be able to carry tracking information, and third-party tracking is their most notorious use.
Luckily, users can exercise a good deal of control over how their browsers handle cookies. Every major browser has an optional setting to disable third-party cookies (though it is usually turned off by default.) In addition, Safari and Firefox have recently started restricting access to third-party cookies for domains they deem to be trackers. As a result of this ''cat and mouse game'' between trackers and methods to block them, third-party trackers are beginning to shift away from relying solely on cookies to identify users, and are evolving to rely on other identifiers.
Cookies are always unique, and they normally persist until a user manually clears them. Cookies are always available to trackers in unmodified versions of Chrome, but third-party cookies are no longer available to many trackers in Safari and Firefox. Users can always block cookies themselves with browser extensions.
IP AddressEach request you make over the Internet contains your IP address, a temporary identifier that's unique to your device. Although it is unique, it is not necessarily persistent: your IP address changes every time you move to a new network (e.g., from home to work to a coffee shop). Thanks to the way IP addresses work, it may change even if you stay connected to the same network.
There are two types of IP addresses in widespread use, known as IPv4 and IPv6. IPv4 is a technology that predates the Web by a decade. It was designed for an Internet used by just a few hundred institutions, and there are only around 4 billion IPV4 addresses in the world to serve over 22 billion connected devices today. Even so, over 70% of Internet traffic still uses IPv4.
As a result, IPv4 addresses used by consumer devices are constantly being reassigned. When a device connects to the Internet, its internet service provider (ISP) gives it a ''lease'' on an IPv4 address. This lets the device use a single address for a few hours or a few days. When the lease is up, the ISP can decide to extend the lease or grant it a new IP. If a device remains on the same network for extended periods of time, its IP may change every few hours -- or it may not change for months.
IPv6 addresses don't have the same scarcity problem. They do not need to change, but thanks to a privacy-preserving extension to the technical standard, most devices generate a new, random IPv6 address every few hours or days. This means that IPv6 addresses may be used for short-term tracking or to link other identifiers, but cannot be used as standalone long-term identifiers.
IP addresses are not perfect identifiers on their own, but with enough data, trackers can use them to create long-term profiles of users, including mapping relationships between devices. You can hide your IP address from third-party trackers by using a trusted VPN or the Tor browser.
IP addresses are always unique, and always available to trackers unless a user connects through a VPN or Tor. Neither IPv4 nor IPv6 addresses are guaranteed to persist for longer than a few days, although IPv4 addresses may persist for several months.
TLS StateToday, most traffic on the web is encrypted using Transport Layer Security, or TLS. Any time you connect to a URL that starts with ''https://'' you're connecting using TLS. This is a very good thing. The encrypted connection that TLS and HTTPS provide prevents ISPs, hackers, and governments from spying on web traffic, and it ensures that data isn't being intercepted or modified on the way to its destination.
However, it also opens up new ways for trackers to identify users. TLS session IDs and session tickets are cryptographic identifiers that help speed up encrypted connections. When you connect to a server over HTTPS, your browser starts a new TLS session with the server.
The session setup involves some expensive cryptographic legwork, so servers don't like to do it more often than they have to. Instead of performing a full cryptographic ''handshake'' between the server and your browser every time you reconnect, the server can send your browser a session ticket that encodes some of the shared encryption state. The next time you connect to the same server, your browser sends the session ticket, allowing both parties to skip the handshake. The only problem with this is that the session ticket can be exploited by trackers as a unique identifier.
TLS session tracking was only brought to the public's attention recently in an academic paper, and it's not clear how widespread its use is in the wild.
Like IP addresses, session tickets are always unique. They are available unless the user's browser is configured to reject them, as Tor is. Server operators can usually configure session tickets to persist for up to a week, but browsers do reset them after a while.
Local storage ''cookies'' and IFramesLocal storage is a way for websites to store data in a browser for long periods of time. Local storage can help a web-based text editor save your settings, or allow an online game to save your progress. Like cookies, local storage allows third-party trackers to create and save unique identifiers in your browser.
Also like cookies, data in local storage is associated with a specific domain. This means if example.com sets a value in your browser, only example.com web pages and example.com's IFrames can access it. An IFrame is like a small web page within a web page. Inside an IFrame, a third-party domain can do almost everything a first-party domain can do. For example, embedded YouTube videos are built using IFrames; every time you see a YouTube video on a site other than YouTube, it's running inside a small page-within-a-page. For the most part, your browser treats the YouTube IFrame like a full-fledged web page, giving it permission to read and write to YouTube's local storage. Sure enough, YouTube uses that storage to save a unique ''device identifier'' and track users on any page with an embedded video.
The reliability of fingerprinting is a topic of active research, and must be measured against the backdrop of ever-evolving web technologies. However, it is clear that new techniques increase the likelihood of unique identification, and the number of sites that use fingerprinting is increasing as well. A recent report found that at least a third of the top 500 sites visited by Americans employ some form of browser fingerprinting. The prevalence of fingerprinting on sites also varies considerably with the category of website.
Researchers have found canvas fingerprinting techniques to be particularly effective for browser identification. The HTML Canvas is a feature of HTML5 that allows websites to render complex graphics inside of a web page. It's used for games, art projects, and some of the most beautiful sites on the Web. Because it's so complex and performance-intensive, it works a little bit differently on each different device. Canvas fingerprinting takes advantage of this.
Canvas fingerprinting. A tracker renders shapes, graphics, and text in different fonts, then computes a ''hash'' of the pixels that get drawn. The hash will be different on devices with even slight differences in hardware, firmware, or software.
For the purposes of fingerprinting, individual characteristics are hardly ever measured in isolation. Trackers are most effective in identifying a browser when they combine multiple characteristics together, stitching the bits of information left behind into a cohesive whole. Even if one characteristic, like a canvas fingerprint, is itself not enough to uniquely identify your browser, it can usually be combined with others -- your language, time zone, or browser settings -- in order to identify you. And using a combination of simple bits of information is much more effective than you might guess.
Identifiers on mobile devicesSmartphones, tablets, and ebook readers usually have web browsers that work the same way desktop browsers do. That means that these types of connected devices are susceptible to all of the kinds of tracking described in the section above.
However, mobile devices are different in two big ways. First, users typically need to sign in with an Apple, Google, or Amazon account to take full advantage of the devices' features. This links device identifiers to an account identity, and makes it easier for those powerful corporate actors to profile user behavior. For example, in order to save your home and work address in Google Maps, you need to turn on Google's ''Web and App Activity,'' which allows it to use your location, search history, and app activity to target ads.
Second, and just as importantly, most people spend most of their time on their mobile device in apps outside of the browser. Trackers in apps can't access cookies the same way web-based trackers can. But by taking advantage of the way mobile operating systems work, app trackers can still access unique identifiers that let them tie activity back to your device. In addition, mobile phones'--particularly those running the Android and iOS operating systems'--have access to a unique set of identifiers that can be used for tracking.
In the mobile ecosystem, most tracking happens by way of third-party software development kits, or SDKs. An SDK is a library of code that app developers can choose to include in their apps. For the most part, SDKs work just like the Web resources that third parties exploit, as discussed above: they allow a third party to learn about your behavior, device, and other characteristics. An app developer who wants to use a third-party analytics service or serve third-party ads downloads a piece of code from, for example, Google or Facebook. The developer then includes that code in the published version of their app. The third-party code thus has access to all the data that the app does, including data protected behind any permissions that the app has been granted, such as location or camera access.
On the web, browsers enforce a distinction between ''first party'' and ''third party'' resources. That allows them to put extra restrictions on third-party content, like blocking their access to browser storage. In mobile apps, this distinction doesn't exist. You can't grant a privilege to an app without granting the same privilege to all the third party code running inside it.
Phone numbersThe phone number is one of the oldest unique numeric identifiers, and one of the easiest to understand. Each number is unique to a particular device, and numbers don't change often. Users are encouraged to share their phone numbers for a wide variety of reasons (e.g., account verification, electronic receipts, and loyalty programs in brick-and-mortar stores). Thus, data brokers frequently collect and sell phone numbers. But phone numbers aren't easy to access from inside an app. On Android, phone numbers are only available to third-party trackers in apps that have been granted certain permissions. iOS prevents apps from accessing a user's phone number at all.
Phone numbers are unique and persistent, but usually not available to third-party trackers in most apps.
Hardware identifiers: IMSI and IMEIEvery device that can connect to a mobile network is assigned a unique identifier called an International Mobile Subscriber Identity (IMSI) number. IMSI numbers are assigned to users by their mobile carriers and stored on SIM cards, and normal users can't change their IMSI without changing their SIM. This makes them ideal identifiers for tracking purposes.
Similarly, every mobile device has an International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number ''baked'' into the hardware. You can change your SIM card and your phone number, but you can't change your IMEI without buying a new device.
IMSI numbers are shared with your cell provider every time you connect to a cell tower'--which is all the time. As you move around the world, your phone sends out pings to nearby towers to request information about the state of the network. Your phone carrier can use this information to track your location (to varying degrees of accuracy). This is not quite third-party tracking, since it is perpetrated by a phone company that you have a relationship with, but regardless many users may not realize that it's happening.
Software and apps running on a mobile phone can also access IMSI and IMEI numbers, though not as easily. Mobile operating systems lock access to hardware identifiers behind permissions that users must approve and can later revoke. For example, starting with Android Q, apps need to request the ''READ_PRIVILEGED_PHONE_STATE'' permission in order to read non-resettable IDs. On iOS, it's not possible for apps to access these identifiers at all. This makes other identifiers more attractive options for most app-based third-party trackers. Like phone numbers, IMSI and IMEI numbers are unique and persistent, but not readily available, as most trackers have a hard time accessing them.
Advertising IDsAn advertising ID is a long, random string of letters and numbers that uniquely identifies a mobile device. Advertising IDs aren't part of any technical protocols, but are built in to the iOS and Android operating systems.
Ad IDs on mobile phones are analogous to cookies on the Web. Instead of being stored by your browser and shared with trackers on different websites like cookies, ad IDs are stored by your phone and shared with trackers in different apps. Ad IDs exist for the sole purpose of helping behavioral advertisers link user activity across apps on a device.
Unlike IMSI or IMEI numbers, ad IDs can be changed and, on iOS, turned off completely. Ad IDs are enabled by default on both iOS and Android, and are available to all apps without any special permissions. On both platforms, the ad ID does not reset unless the user does so manually.
Both Google and Apple encourage developers to use ad IDs for behavioral profiling in lieu of other identifiers like IMEI or phone number. Ostensibly, this gives users more control over how they are tracked, since users can reset their identifiers by hand if they choose. However, in practice, even if a user goes to the trouble to reset their ad ID, it's very easy for trackers to identify them across resets by using other identifiers, like IP address or in-app storage. Android's developer policy instructs trackers not to engage in such behavior, but the platform has no technical safeguards to stop it. In February 2019, a study found that over 18,000 apps on the Play store were violating Google's policy.
Ad IDs are unique, and available to all apps by default. They persist until users manually reset them. That makes them very attractive identifiers for surreptitious trackers.
MAC addressesEvery device that can connect to the Internet has a hardware identifier called a Media Access Control (MAC) address. MAC addresses are used to set up the initial connection between two wireless-capable devices over WiFi or Bluetooth.
MAC addresses are used by all kinds of devices, but the privacy risks associated with them are heightened on mobile devices. Websites and other servers you interact with over the Internet can't actually see your MAC address, but any networking devices in your area can. In fact, you don't even have to connect to a network for it to see your MAC address; being nearby is enough.
Here's how it works. In order to find nearby Bluetooth devices and WiFi networks, your device is constantly sending out short radio signals called probe requests. Each probe request contains your device's unique MAC address. If there is a WiFi hotspot in the area, it will hear the probe and send back its own ''probe response,'' addressed with your device's MAC, with information about how you can connect to it.
But other devices in the area can see and intercept the probe requests, too. This means that companies can set up wireless ''beacons'' that silently listen for MAC addresses in their vicinity, then use that data to track the movement of specific devices over time. Beacons are often set up in businesses, at public events, and even in political campaign yard signs. With enough beacons in enough places, companies can track users' movement around stores or around a city. They can also identify when two people are in the same location and use that information to build a social graph.
In order to find nearby Bluetooth devices and WiFi networks, your device is constantly sending out short radio signals called probe requests. Each probe request contains your device's unique MAC address. Companies can set up wireless ''beacons'' that silently listen for MAC addresses in their vicinity, then use that data to track the movement of specific devices over time.
This style of tracking can be thwarted with MAC address randomization. Instead of sharing its true, globally unique MAC address in probe requests, your device can make up a new, random, ''spoofed'' MAC address to broadcast each time. This makes it impossible for passive trackers to link one probe request to another, or to link them to a particular device. Luckily, the latest versions of iOS and Android both include MAC address randomization by default.
MAC address tracking remains a risk for laptops, older phones, and other devices, but the industry is trending towards more privacy-protective norms.
Hardware MAC addresses are globally unique. They are also persistent, not changing for the lifetime of a device. They are not readily available to trackers in apps, but are available to passive trackers using wireless beacons. However, since many devices now obfuscate MAC addresses by default, they are becoming a less reliable identifier for passive tracking.
Real-world identifiersMany electronic device identifiers can be reset, obfuscated, or turned off by the user. But real-world identifiers are a different story: it's illegal to cover your car's license plate while driving (and often while parked), and just about impossible to change biometric identifiers like your face and fingerprints.
License platesEvery car in the United States is legally required to have a license plate that is tied to their real-world identity. As far as tracking identifiers go, license plate numbers are about as good as it gets. They are easy to spot and illegal to obfuscate. They can't be changed easily, and they follow most people wherever they go.
Automatic license plate readers, or ALPRs, are special-purpose cameras that can automatically identify and record license plate numbers on passing cars. ALPRs can be installed at fixed points, like busy intersections or mall parking lots, or on other vehicles like police cars. Private companies operate ALPRs, use them to amass vast quantities of traveler location data, and sell this data to other businesses (as well as to police).
Unfortunately, tracking by ALPRs is essentially unavoidable for people who drive. It's not legal to hide or change your license plate, and since most ALPRs operate in public spaces, it's extremely difficult to avoid the devices themselves.
License plates are unique, available to anyone who can see the vehicle, and extremely persistent. They are ideal identifiers for gathering data about vehicles and their drivers, both for law enforcement and for third-party trackers.
Face biometricsFaces are another class of unique identifier that are extremely attractive to third-party trackers. Faces are unique and highly inconvenient to change. Luckily, it's not illegal to hide your face from the general public, but it is impractical for most people to do so.
Everyone's face is unique, available, and persistent. However, current face recognition software will sometimes confuse one face for another. Furthermore, research has shown that algorithms are much more prone to making these kinds of errors when identifying people of color, women, and older individuals.
Facial recognition has already seen widespread deployment, but we are likely just beginning to feel the extent of its impact. In the future, facial recognition cameras may be in stores, on street corners, and docked on computer-aided glasses. Without strong privacy regulations, average people will have virtually no way to fight back against pervasive tracking and profiling via facial recognition.
Credit/debit cardsCredit card numbers are another excellent long-term identifier. While they can be cycled out, most people don't change their credit card numbers nearly as often as they clear their cookies. Additionally, credit card numbers are tied directly to real names, and anyone who receives your credit card number as part of a transaction also receives your legal name.
What most people may not understand is the amount of hidden third parties involved with each credit card transaction. If you buy a widget at a local store, the store probably contracts with a payment processor who provides card-handling services. The transaction also must be verified by your bank as well as the bank of the card provider. The payment processor in turn may employ other companies to validate its transactions, and all of these companies may receive information about the purchase. Banks and other financial institutions are regulated by the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, which mandates data security standards, requires them to disclose how user data is shared, and gives users the right to opt out of sharing. However, other financial technology companies, like payment processors and data aggregators, are significantly less regulated.
Linking identifiers over timeOften, a tracker can't rely on a single identifier to act as a stable link to a user. IP addresses change, people clear cookies, ad IDs can be reset, and more savvy users might have ''burner'' phone numbers and email addresses that they use to try to separate parts of their identity. When this happens, trackers don't give up and start a new user profile from scratch. Instead, they typically combine several identifiers to create a unified profile. This way, they are less likely to lose track of the user when one identifier or another changes, and they can link old identifiers to new ones over time.
Trackers have an advantage here because there are so many different ways to identify a user. If a user clears their cookies but their IP address doesn't change, linking the old cookie to the new one is trivial. If they move from one network to another but use the same browser, a browser fingerprint can link their old session to their new one. If they block third-party cookies and use a hard-to-fingerprint browser like Safari, trackers can use first-party cookie sharing in combination with TLS session data to build a long-term profile of user behavior. In this cat-and-mouse game, trackers have technological advantages over individual users.
Part 2: From bits to Big Data: What do tracking networks look like?In order to track you, most tracking companies need to convince website or app developers to include custom tracking code in their products. That's no small thing: tracking code can have a number of undesirable effects for publishers. It can slow down software, annoy users, and trigger regulation under laws like GDPR. Yet the largest tracking networks cover vast swaths of the Web and the app stores, collecting data from millions of different sources all the time. In the physical world, trackers can be found in billboards, retail stores, and mall parking lots. So how and why are trackers so widespread? In this section, we'll talk about what tracking networks look like in the wild.
Top trackers on the Web, ranked by the proportion of web traffic that they collect data from. Google collects data about over 80% of measured web traffic. Source: WhoTracks.me, by Cliqz GBMH.
Tracking in software: Websites and AppsAd networks
Each ad your browser loads may come from a different advertising server, and each server can build its own profile of you based on your activity. Each time you connect to that server, it can use a cookie to link that activity to your profile.
The dominant market force behind third-party tracking is the advertising industry, as discussed below in Part 3. So it's no surprise that online ads are one of the primary vectors for data collection. In the simplest model, a single third-party ad network serves ads on a number of websites. Each publisher that works with the ad network must include a small snippet of code on their website that will load an ad from the ad server. This triggers a request to the ad server each time a user visits one of the cooperating sites, which lets the ad server set third-party cookies into users' browsers and track their activity across the network. Similarly, an ad server might provide an ad-hosting software development kit (SDK) for mobile app developers to use. Whenever a user opens an app that uses the SDK, the app makes a request to the ad server. This request can contain the advertising ID for the user's device, thus allowing the ad server to profile the user's activity across apps.
In reality, the online ad ecosystem is even more complicated. Ad exchanges host ''real time auctions'' for individual ad impressions on web pages. In the process, they may load code from several other third-party advertising providers, and may share data about each impression with many potential advertisers participating in the auction. Each ad you see might be responsible for sharing data with dozens of trackers. We'll go into more depth about Real Time Bidding and other data-sharing activities in Part 3.
Analytics and tracking pixelsTracking code often isn't associated with anything visible to users, like a third-party ad. On the web, a significant portion of tracking happens via invisible, 1-pixel-by-1-pixel ''images'' that exist only to trigger requests to the trackers. These ''tracking pixels'' are used by many of the most prolific data collectors on the web, including Google Analytics, Facebook, Amazon, and DoubleVerify.
When website owners install a third party's tracking pixels, they usually do so in exchange for access to some of the data the third party collects. For example, Google Analytics and Chartbeat use pixels to collect information, and offer website owners and publishers insights about what kinds of people are visiting their sites. Going another level deeper, advertising platforms like Facebook also offer ''conversion pixels,'' which allow publishers to keep track of how many click-throughs their own third-party ads are getting.
The biggest players in web-based analytics offer similar services to mobile apps. Google Analytics and Facebook are two of the most popular SDKs on both Android and iOS. Like their counterparts on the Web, these services silently collect information about users of mobile apps and then share some of that information with the app developers themselves.
Mobile third-party trackers convince app developers to install their SDKs by providing useful features like analytics or single sign-on. SDKs are just big blobs of code that app developers add to their projects. When they compile and distribute an app, the third-party code ships with it. Unlike Web-based tools, analytics services in mobile apps don't need to use ''pixels'' or other tricks to trigger third-party requests.
Another class of trackers work on behalf of advertisers rather than first-party sites or apps. These companies work with advertisers to monitor where, how, and to whom their ads are being served. They often don't work with first-party publishers at all; in fact, their goal is to gather data about publishers as well as users.
Other companies in the space include Adobe, Oracle, and Comscore.
Social media widgetsSocial media companies provide a variety of services to websites, such as Facebook Like buttons and Twitter Share buttons. These are often pitched as ways for publishers to improve traffic numbers on their own platforms as well as their presence on social media. Like and Share buttons can be used for tracking in the same way that pixels can: the ''button'' is really an embedded image which triggers a request to the social media company's server.
Finally, the biggest companies (Facebook and Google in particular) offer account management services to smaller companies, like ''Log in with Google.'' These services, known as ''single sign-on,'' are attractive to publishers for several reasons. Independent websites and apps can offload the work of managing user accounts to the big companies. Users have fewer username/password pairs to remember, and less frequently go through annoying sign up/log-in flows. But for users, there is a price: account management services allow log-in providers to act as a third party and track their users' activity on all of the services they log into. Log-in services are more reliable trackers than pixels or other simple widgets because they force users to confirm their identity.
CAPTCHAsCAPTCHAs are a technology that attempts to separate users from robots. Publishers install CAPTCHAs on pages where they want to be particularly careful about blocking automated traffic, like sign-up forms and pages that serve particularly large files.
Google's ReCAPTCHA is the most popular CAPTCHA technology on the web. Every time you connect to a site that uses recaptcha, your browser connects to a *.google.com domain in order to load the CAPTCHA resources and shares all associated cookies with Google. This means that its CAPTCHA network is another source of data that Google can use to profile users.
While older CAPTCHAs asked users to read garbled text or click on pictures of bikes, the new ReCAPTCHA v3 records ''interactions with the website'' and silently guesses whether a user is human. ReCAPTCHA scripts don't send raw interaction data back to Google. Rather, they generate something akin to a behavioral fingerprint, which summarizes the way a user has interacted with a page. Google feeds this into a machine-learning model to estimate how likely the user is to be human, then returns that score to the first-party website. In addition to making things more convenient for users, this newer system benefits Google in two ways. First, it makes CAPTCHAS invisible to most users, which may make them less aware that Google (or anyone) is collecting data about them. Second, it leverages Google's huge set of behavioral data to cement its dominance in the CAPTCHA market, and ensures that any future competitors will need their own tranches of interaction data in order to build tools that work in a similar way.
Session replay servicesSession replay services are tools that website or app owners can install in order to actually record how users interact with their services. These services operate both on websites and in apps. They log keystrokes, mouse movements, taps, swipes, and changes to the page, then allow first-party sites to ''re-play'' individual users' experiences after the fact. Often, users are given no indication that their actions are being recorded and shared with third parties.
These creepy tools create a massive risk that sensitive data, like medical information, credit card numbers, or passwords, will be recorded and leaked. The providers of session replay services usually leave it up to their clients to designate certain data as off-limits. But for clients, the process of filtering out sensitive information is subtle, painstaking, and time-consuming, and it clashes with replay services' promises to get set up ''in a matter of seconds.'' As a result, independent auditing has found that sensitive data ends up in the recordings, and that session replay service providers often fail to secure that data appropriately.
Passive, real-world trackingWiFi hotspots and wireless beaconsMany consumer devices emit wireless ''probe'' signals, and many companies install commercial beacons that intercept these probes all over the physical world. Some devices randomize the unique MAC address device identifiers they share in probes, protecting themselves from passive tracking, but not all do. And connecting to an open WiFi network or giving an app Bluetooth permissions always opens a device up to tracking.
As we discussed above, WiFi hotspots, wireless beacons, and other radio devices can be used to ''listen'' for nearby devices. Companies like Comcast (which provides XFinity WiFi) and Google (which provides free WiFi in Starbucks and many other businesses) have WiFi hotspots installed all over the world; Comcast alone boasts over 18 million XFinity WiFi installations. Dozens of other companies that you likely haven't heard of provide free WiFi to coffee shops, restaurants, events, and hotels.
Companies also pay to install wireless beacons in real-world businesses and public spaces. Bluetooth-enabled beacons have been installed around retail stores, at political rallies, in campaign lawn signs, and on streetlight poles.
Wireless beacons are capable of tracking on two levels. First, and most concerning, wireless beacons can passively monitor the ''probes'' that devices send out all the time. If a device is broadcasting its hardware MAC address, companies can use the probes they collect to track its user's movement over time.
WiFi hotspots and bluetooth beacons can listen for probes that wireless devices send out automatically. Trackers can use each device's MAC address to create a profile of it based on where they've seen that device.
Second, when a user connects to a WiFi hotspot or to a Bluetooth beacon, the controller of the hotspot or beacon can connect the device's MAC address to additional identifiers like IP address, cookies, and ad ID. Many WiFi hotspot operators also use a sign-in page to collect information about users' real names or email addresses. Then, when users browse the web from that hotspot, the operator can collect data on all the traffic coming from the user's device, much like an ISP. Bluetooth beacons are used slightly differently. Mobile phones allow apps to access the Bluetooth interface with certain permissions. Third-party trackers in apps with Bluetooth permissions can automatically connect to Bluetooth beacons in the real world, and they can use those connections to gather fine-grained location data.
Thankfully, both iOS and Android devices now send obfuscated MAC addresses with probes by default. This prevents the first, passive style of tracking described above.
But phones aren't the only devices with wireless capability. Laptops, e-readers, wireless headphones, and even cars are often outfitted with Bluetooth capability. Some of these devices don't have the MAC randomization features that recent models of smartphones do, making them vulnerable to passive location tracking.
Furthermore, even devices with MAC randomization usually share static MAC addresses when they actually connect to a wireless hotspot or Bluetooth device. This heightens the risks of the second style of tracking described above, which occurs when the devices connect to public WiFi networks or local Bluetooth beacons.
Vehicle tracking and ALPRsAutomated license plate readers, or ALPRs, are cameras outfitted with the ability to detect and read license plates. They can also use other characteristics of cars, like make, model, color, and wear, in order to help identify them. ALPRs are often used by law enforcement, but many ALPR devices are owned by private companies. These companies collect vehicle data indiscriminately, and once they have it, they can re-sell it to whomever they want: local police, federal immigration enforcement agencies, private data aggregators, insurance companies, lenders, or bounty hunters.
Different companies gather license plate data from different sources, and sell it to different audiences. Digital Recognition Network, or DRN, sources its data from thousands of repossession agencies around the country, and sells data to insurance agencies, private investigators, and ''asset recovery'' companies. According to an investigation by Motherboard, the vast majority of individuals about whom DRN collects data are not suspected of a crime or behind on car payments. The start-up Flock Safety offers ALPR-powered ''neighborhood watch'' services. Concerned homeowners can install ALPRs on their property in order to record and share information about cars that drive through their neighborhood.
DRN is owned by VaaS International Holdings, a Fort Worth-based company that brands itself as ''the preeminent provider of license plate recognition ('LPR') and facial recognition products and data solutions.'' It also owns Vigilant Solutions, another private purveyor of ALPR technology. Vigilant's clients include law enforcement agencies and private shopping centers. Vigilant pools data from thousands of sources around the country into a single database, which it calls ''PlateSearch.'' Scores of law enforcement agencies pay for access to PlateSearch. According to EFF's research, approximately 99.5% of the license plates recorded by Vigilant are not connected to a public safety interest at the time they are scanned.
Cameras and machine vision aren't the only technologies enabling vehicle tracking. Passive MAC address tracking can also be used to track vehicle movement. Phones inside of vehicles, and sometimes the vehicles themselves, broadcast probe requests including their MAC addresses. Wireless beacons placed strategically around roads can listen for those signals. One company, Libelium, sells a wireless beacon that is meant to be installed on streetlights in order to track nearby traffic.
Face recognition camerasFace recognition has been deployed widely by law enforcement in some countries, including China and the UK. This has frightening implications: it allows mass logging of innocent people's activities. In China, it has been used to monitor and control members of the Uighur minority community.
We've covered the civil liberties harms associated with law enforcement use of face recognition extensively in the past. But face recognition also has been deployed in a number of private industries. Airlines use face recognition to authenticate passengers before boarding. Concert venues and ticket sellers have used it to screen concert-goers. Retailers use face recognition to identify people who supposedly are greater risks for shoplifting, which is especially concerning considering that the underlying mugshot databases are riddled with unfair racial disparities, and the technology is more likely to misidentify people of color. Private security companies sell robots equipped with face recognition to monitor public spaces and help employers keep tabs on employees. And schools and even summer camps use it to keep tabs on kids.
Big tech companies have begun investing in facial recognition for payment processing, which would give them another way to link real-world activity to users' online personas. Facebook has filed a patent on a system that would link faces to social media profiles in order to process payments. Also, Amazon's brick-and-mortar ''Go'' stores rely on biometrics to track who enters and what they take in order to charge them accordingly.
In addition, many see facial recognition as a logical way to bring targeted advertising to the physical world. Face recognition cameras can be installed in stores, on billboards, and in malls to profile people's behavior, build dossiers on their habits, and target messages at them. In January 2019, Walgreens began a pilot program using face recognition cameras installed on LED-screen fridge doors. The idea is that, instead of looking through a plate of glass to see the contents of a fridge, consumers can look at a screen which will display graphics indicating what's inside. The camera can perform facial recognition on whoever is standing in front of the fridge, and the graphics can be dynamically changed to serve ads targeted to that person. Whether or not Walgreens ends up deploying this technology at a larger scale, this appears to be one direction retailers are heading.
Payment processors and financial technologyFinancial technology, or ''fintech,'' is a blanket term for the burgeoning industry of finance-adjacent technology companies. Thousands of relatively new tech companies act as the technological glue between old-guard financial institutions and newer technologies, including tracking and surveillance. When they are regulated, fintech companies are often subject to less government oversight than traditional institutions like banks.
Payment processors are companies that accept payments on behalf of other businesses. As a result, they are privy to huge amounts of information about what businesses sell and what people buy. Since most financial transactions involve credit card numbers and names, it is easy for payment processors to tie the data they collect to real identities. Some of these companies are pure service providers, and don't use data for any purposes other than moving money from one place to another. Others build profiles of consumers or businesses and then monetize that data. For example, Square is a company that makes credit card readers for small businesses. It also uses the information it collects to serve targeted ads from third parties and to underwrite loans through its Square Capital program.
Some fintech companies offer financial services directly to users, like Intuit, the company behind TurboTax and Mint. Others provide services to banks or businesses. In the fintech world, ''data aggregators'' act as intermediaries between banks and other services, like money management apps. In the process, data aggregators gain access to all the data that passes through their pipes, including account balances, outstanding debts, and credit card transactions for millions of people. In addition, aggregators often collect consumers' usernames and passwords in order to extract data from their banks. Yodlee, one of the largest companies in the space, sells transaction data to hedge funds, which mine the information to inform stock market moves. Many users are unaware that their data is used for anything other than operating the apps they have signed up for.
Tracking and corporate powerMany of the companies that benefit most from data tracking have compelling ways to entice web developers, app creators, and store managers to install their tracking technology. Companies with monopolies or near-monopolies can use their market power to build tracking networks, monitor and inhibit smaller competitors, and exploit consumer privacy for their own economic advantage. Corporate power and corporate surveillance reinforce one another in several ways.
First, dominant companies like Google and Facebook can pressure publishers into installing their tracking code. Publishers rely on the world's biggest social network and the world's biggest search engine to drive traffic to their own sites. As a result, most publishers need to advertise on those platforms. And in order to track how effective their ads are, they have no choice but to install Google and Facebook's conversion measurement code on their sites and apps. Google, Facebook, and Amazon also act as third-party ad networks, together controlling over two-thirds of the market. That means publishers who want to monetize their content have a hard time avoiding the big platforms' ad tracking code.
Second, vertically integrated tech companies can gain control of both sides of the tracking market. Google administers the largest behavioral advertising system in the world, which it powers by collecting data from its Android phones and Chrome browser'--the most popular mobile operating system and most popular web browser in the world. Compared to its peer operating systems and browsers, Google's user software makes it easier for its trackers to collect data.
When the designers of the Web first described browsers, they called them ''user agents:'' pieces of software that would act on their users' behalf on the Internet. But when a browser maker is also a company whose main source of revenue is behavioral advertising, the company's interest in user privacy and control is pitted against the company's interest in tracking. The company's bottom line usually comes out on top.
Third, data can be used to profile not just people, but also competitor companies. The biggest data collectors don't just know how we act, they also know more about the market'--and their competitors'--than anyone else. Google's tracking tools monitor over 80% of traffic on the Web, which means it often knows as much about it's competitors' traffic as its competitors do (or more). Facebook (via third-party ads, analytics, conversion pixels, social widgets, and formerly its VPN app Onavo) also monitors the use and growth of websites, apps, and publishers large and small. Amazon already hosts a massive portion of the Internet in its Amazon Web Services computing cloud, and it is starting to build its own formidable third-party ad network. These giants use this information to identify nascent competitors, and then buy them out or clone their products before they become significant threats. According to confidential internal documents, Facebook used data about users' app habits from Onavo, its VPN, to inform its acquisition of WhatsApp.
Fourth, as tech giants concentrate tracking power into their own hands, they can use access to data as an anticompetitive cudgel. Facebook was well aware that access to its APIs (and the detailed private data that entailed) were invaluable to other social companies. It has a documented history of granting or withholding access to user data in order to undermine its competition.
Furthermore, Google and Facebook have both begun adopting policies that restrict competitors' access to their data without limiting what they collect themselves. For example, most of the large platforms now limit the third-party trackers on their own sites. In its own version of RTB, Google has recently begun restricting access to ad identifiers and other information that would allow competing ad networks to build user profiles. And following the Cambridge Analytica incident, Facebook started locking down access to third-party APIs, without meaningfully changing anything about the data that Facebook itself collects on users. On the one hand, restricting third-party access can have privacy benefits. On the other, kicking third-party developers and outside actors off Facebook's and Google's platform services can make competition problems worse, give incumbent giants sole power over the user data they have collected, and cement their privacy-harmful business practices. Instead of seeing competition and privacy as isolated concerns, empowering users requires addressing both to reduce large companies' control over users' data and attention.
Finally, big companies can acquire troves of data from other companies in mergers and acquisitions. Google Analytics began its life as the independent company Urchin, which Google purchased in 2005. In 2007, Google supercharged its third-party advertising networks by purchasing Doubleclick, then as now a leader in the behaviorally targeted ad market. In late 2019, it purchased the health data company Fitbit, merging years of step counts and exercise logs into its own vast database of users' physical activity.
In its brief existence, Facebook has acquired 67 other companies. Amazon has acquired 91, and Google, 214'--an average of over 10 per year. Many of the smaller firms that Facebook, Amazon, or Google have acquired had access to tremendous amounts of data and millions of active users. With each acquisition, those data sources are folded into the already-massive silos controlled by the tech giants. And thanks to network effects, the data becomes more valuable when it's all under one roof. On its own, Doubleclick could assemble pseudonymous profiles of users' browsing history. But as a part of Google, it can merge that data with real names, locations, cross-device activity, search histories, and social graphs.
Multi-billion dollar tech giants are not the only companies tracking us, nor are they the most irresponsible actors in the space. But the bigger they are, the more they know. And the more kinds of data a company has access to, the more powerful its profiles of users and competitors will be. In the new economy of personal information, the rich are only getting richer.
Part 3: Data sharing: Targeting, brokers, and real-time biddingWhere does the data go when it's collected? Most trackers don't collect every piece of information by themselves. Instead, companies work together, collecting data for themselves and sharing it with each other. Sometimes, companies with information about the same individual will combine it only briefly to determine which advertiser will serve which ad to that person. In other cases, companies base their entire business model on collecting and selling data about individuals they never interact with. In all cases, the type of data they collect and share can impact their target's experience, whether by affecting the ads they're exposed to or by determining which government databases they end up cataloged in. Moreover, the more a user's data is spread around, the greater the risk that they will be affected by a harmful data breach. This section will explore how personal information gets shared and where it goes.
Real-time biddingReal-time bidding is the system that publishers and advertisers use to serve targeted ads. The unit of sale in the Internet advertising world is the ''impression.'' Every time a person visits a web page with an ad, that person views an ad impression. Behind the scenes, an advertiser pays an ad network for the right to show you an ad, and the ad network pays the publisher of the web page where you saw the ad. But before that can happen, the publisher and the ad network have to decide which ad to show. To do so, they conduct a milliseconds-long auction, in which the auctioneer offers up a user's personal information, and then software on dozens of corporate servers bid on the rights to that user's attention. Data flows in one direction, and money flows in the other.
Such ''real-time bidding'' is quite complex, and the topic could use a whitepaper on its own. Luckily, there are tremendous, in-depth resources on the topic already. Dr. Johnny Ryan and Brave have written a series on the privacy impact of RTB. There is also a doctoral thesis on the privacy implications of the protocol. This section will give a brief overview of what the process looks like, much of which is based on Ryan's work.
First, data flows from your browser to the ad networks, also known as ''supply-side platforms'' (SSPs). In this economy, your data and your attention are the ''supply'' that ad networks and SSPs are selling. Each SSP receives your identifying information, usually in the form of a cookie, and generates a ''bid request'' based on what it knows about your past behavior. Next, the SSP sends this bid request to each of the dozens of advertisers who have expressed interest in showing ads.
The `user` object in an OpenRTB bid request contains the information a particular supply-side platform knows about the subject of an impression, including one or more unique IDs, age, gender, location, and interests. Source: https://github.com/InteractiveAdvertisingBureau/AdCOM/blob/master/AdCOM%20v1.0%20FINAL.md#object--user-
The bid request contains information about your location, your interests, and your device, and includes your unique ID. The screenshot above shows the information included in an OpenRTB bid request.
After the auction is complete, winning bidders pay supply-side platforms, SSPs pay the publisher, and the publisher shows the user an ad. At this point, the winning advertiser can collect even more information from the user's browser.
Finally, it's the bidders' turn. Using automated systems, the advertisers look at your info, decide whether they'd like to advertise to you and which ad they want to show, then respond to the SSP with a bid. The SSP determines who won the auction and displays the winner's ad on the publisher's web page.
All the information in the bid request is shared before any money changes hands. Advertisers who don't win the auction still receive the user's personal information. This enables ''shadow bidding.'' Certain companies may pretend to be interested in buying impressions, but intentionally bid to lose in each auction with the goal of collecting as much data as possible as cheaply as possible.
Furthermore, there are several layers of companies that participate in RTB between the SSP and the advertisers, and each layer of companies also vacuums up user information. SSPs interface with ''ad exchanges,'' which share data with ''demand side platforms'' (DSPs), which also share and purchase data from data brokers. Publishers work with SSPs to sell their ad space, advertisers work with DSPs to buy it, and ad exchanges connect buyers and sellers. You can read a breakdown of the difference between SSPs and DSPs, written for advertisers, here. Everyone involved in the process gets to collect behavioral data about the person who triggered the request.
During the bidding process, advertisers and the DSPs they work with can use third-party data brokers to augment their profiles of individual users. These data brokers, which refer to themselves innocuously as ''data management platforms'' (DMPs), sell data about individuals based on the identifiers and demographics included in a bid request. In other words, an advertiser can share a user ID with a data broker and receive that user's behavioral profile in return.
Source: Zhang, W., Yuan, S., Wang, J., and Shen, X. (2014b). Real-time bidding benchmarking with ipinyou dataset. arXiv preprint arXiv:1407.7073.
The diagram above gives another look at the flow of information and money in a single RTB auction.
In summary: (1) a user's visit to a page triggers an ad request from the page's publisher to an ad exchange. This is our real-time bidding ''auctioneer.'' The ad exchange (2) requests bids from advertisers and the DSPs they work with, sending them information about the user in the process. The DSP then (3) augments the bid request data with more information from data brokers, or DMPs. Advertisers (4) respond with a bid for the ad space. After (5) a millisecond-long auction, the ad exchange (6) picks and notifiers the winning advertiser. The ad exchange (7) serves that ad to the user, complete with the tracking technology described above. The advertiser will (8) receive information about how the user interacted with the ad, e.g. how long they looked at it, what they clicked, if they purchased anything, etc. That data will feed back into the DSP's information about that user and other users who share their characteristics, informing future RTB bids.
From the perspective of the user who visited the page, RTB causes two discrete sets of privacy invasions. First, before they visited the page, an array of companies tracked their personal information, both online and offline, and merged it all into a sophisticated profile about them. Then, during the RTB process, a different set of companies used that profile to decide how much to bid for the ad impression. Second, as a result of the user's visit to the page, the RTB participants harvest additional information from the visiting user. That information is injected into the user's old profile, to be used during subsequent RTBs triggered by their next page visits. Thus, RTB is both a cause of tracking and a means of tracking.
RTB on the web: cookie syncingCookie syncing is a method that web trackers use to link cookies with one another and combine the data one company has about a user with data that other companies might have.
Mechanically, it's very simple. One tracking domain triggers a request to another tracker. In the request, the first tracker sends a copy of its own tracking cookie. The second tracker gets both its own cookie and the cookie from the first tracker. This allows it to ''compare notes'' with the other tracker while building up its profile of the user.
Cookie sharing is commonly used as a part of RTB. In a bid request, the SSP shares its own cookie ID with all of the potential bidders. Without syncing, the demand side platforms might have their own profiles about users linked to their own cookie IDs. A DSP might not know that the user ''abc'' from Doubleclick (Google's ad network) is the same as its own user ''xyz''. Cookie syncing lets them be sure. As part of the bidding process, SSPs commonly trigger cookie-sync requests to many DSPs at a time. That way, the next time that SSP sends out a bid request, the DSPs who will be bidding can use their own behavioral profiles about the user to decide how to bid.
Cookie syncing. An invisible 'pixel' element on the page triggers a request to an ad exchange or SSP, which redirects the user to a DSP. The redirect URL contains information about the SSP's cookie that lets the DSP link it to its own identifier. A single SSP may trigger cookie syncs to many different DSPs at a time.
RTB in mobile appsRTB was created for the Web, but it works just as well for ads in mobile apps. Instead of cookies, trackers use ad IDs. The ad IDs baked into iOS and Android make trackers' jobs easier. On the web, each advertiser has its own cookie ID, and demand-side platforms need to sync data with DMPs and with each other in order to tie their data to a specific user.
But on mobile devices, each user has a single, universal ad ID that is accessible from every app. That means that the syncing procedures described above on the web are not necessary on mobile; advertisers can use ad IDs to confirm identity, share data, and build more detailed profiles upon which to base bids.
Group targeting and look-alike audiencesSometimes, large platforms do not disclose their data; rather, they lease out temporary access to their data-powered tools. Facebook, Google, and Twitter all allow advertisers to target categories of people with ads. For example, Facebook lets advertisers target users with certain ''interests'' or ''affinities.''
The companies do not show advertisers the actual identities of individuals their campaigns target. If you start a Facebook campaign targeting ''people interested in Roller Derby in San Diego,'' you can't see a list of names right away. However, this kind of targeting does allow advertisers to reach out directly to roller derby-going San Diegans and direct them to an outside website or app. When targeted users click on an ad, they are directed off of Facebook and to the advertiser's domain. At this point, the advertiser knows they came from Facebook and that they are part of the targeted demographic. Once users have landed on the third-party site, the advertiser can use data exchange services to match them with behavioral profiles or even real-world identities.
These ''look-alike'' features are black boxes. Without the ability to audit or study them, it's impossible to know what kinds of data they use and what kinds of information about users they might expose. We urge advertisers to disclose more information about them and to allow independent testing.
Data brokersData brokers are companies that collect, aggregate, process, and sell data. They operate out of sight from regular users, but in the center of the data-sharing economy. Often, data brokers have no direct relationships with users at all, and the people about whom they sell data may not be aware they exist. Data brokers purchase information from a variety of smaller companies, including retailers, financial technology companies, medical research companies, online advertisers, cellular providers, Internet of Things device manufacturers, and local governments. They then sell data or data-powered services to advertisers, real estate agents, market research companies, colleges, governments, private bounty hunters, and other data brokers.
This is another topic that is far too broad to cover here, and others have written in depth about the data-selling ecosystem. Cracked Labs' report on corporate surveillance is both accessible and in-depth. Pam Dixon of the World Privacy Forum has also done excellent research into data brokers, including a report from 2014 and testimony before the Senate in 2015 and 2019.
The term ''data broker'' is broad. It includes ''mom and pop'' marketing firms that assemble and sell curated lists of phone numbers or emails, and behemoths like Oracle that ingest data from thousands of different streams and offer data-based services to other businesses.
Some brokers sell raw streams of information. This includes data about retail purchase behavior, data from Internet of Things devices, and data from connected cars. Others act as clearinghouses between buyers and sellers of all kinds of data. For example, Narrative promises to help sellers ''unlock the value of [their] data'' and help buyers ''access the data [they] need.'' Dawex describes itself as ''a global data marketplace where you can meet, sell and buy data directly.''
Another class of companies act as middlemen or ''aggregators,'' licensing raw data from several different sources, processing it, and repackaging it as a specific service for other businesses. For example, major phone carriers sold access to location data to aggregators called Zumigo and Microbilt, which in turn sold access to a broad array of other companies, with the resulting market ultimately reaching down to bail bondsmen and bounty hunters (and an undercover reporter). EFF is now suing AT&T for selling this data without users' consent and for misleading the public about its privacy practices.
Many of the largest data brokers don't sell the raw data they collect. Instead, they collect and consume data from thousands of different sources, then use it to assemble their own profiles and draw inferences about individuals. Oracle, one of the world's largest data brokers, owns Bluekai, one of the largest third-party trackers on the web. Credit reporting agencies, including Equifax and Experian, are also particularly active here. While the U.S. Fair Credit Reporting Act governs how credit raters can share specific types of data, it doesn't prevent credit agencies from selling most of the information that trackers collect today, including transaction information and browsing history. Many of these companies advertise their ability to derive psychographics, which are ''innate'' characteristics that describe user behavior. For example, Experian classifies people into financial categories like ''Credit Hungry Card Switcher,'' ''Disciplined, Passive Borrower,'' and ''Insecure Debt Dependent,'' and claims to cover 95% of the U.S. population. Cambridge Analytica infamously used data about Facebook likes to derive ''OCEAN scores'''--ratings for openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism'--about millions of voters, then sold that data to political campaigns.
Finally, many brokers use their internal profiles to offer ''identity resolution'' or ''enrichment'' services to others. If a business has one identifier, like a cookie or email address, it can pay a data broker to ''enrich'' that data and learn other information about the person. It can also link data tied to one identifier (like a cookie) to data from another (like a mobile ad ID). In the real-time bidding world, these services are known as ''data management platforms.'' Real-time bidders can use these kinds of services to learn who a particular user is and what their interests are, based only on the ID included with the bid request.
For years, data brokers have operated out of sight and out of mind of the general public. But we may be approaching a turning point. In 2018, Vermont passed the nation's first law requiring companies that buy and sell third-party data to register with the secretary of state. As a result, we now have access to a list of over 120 data brokers and information about their business models. Furthermore, when the California Consumer Privacy Act goes into effect in 2020, consumers will have the right to access the personal information that brokers have about them for free, and to opt out of having their data sold.
Data consumersSo far, this paper has discussed how data is collected, shared, and sold. But where does it end up? Who are the consumers of personal data, and what do they do with it?
Targeted advertisingBy far the biggest, most visible, and most ubiquitous data consumers are targeted advertisers. Targeted advertising allows advertisers to reach users based on demographics, psychographics, and other traits. Behavioral advertising is a subset of targeted advertising that leverages data about users' past behavior in order to personalized ads.
The biggest data collectors are also the biggest targeted advertisers. Together, Google and Facebook control almost 60% of the digital ad market in the U.S., and they use their respective troves of data in order to do so. Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Twitter offer end-to-end targeting services where advertisers can target high-level categories of users, and the advertisers don't need to have access to any data themselves. Facebook lets advertisers target users based on location; demographics like age, gender, education, and income; and interests like hobbies, music genres, celebrities, and political leaning. Some of the ''interests'' Facebook uses are based on what users have ''liked'' or commented on, and others are derived based on Facebook's third-party tracking. While Facebook uses its data to match advertisers to target audiences, Facebook does not share its data with those advertisers.
Real-time bidding (RTB) involves more data sharing, and there are a vast array of smaller companies involved in different levels of the process. The big tech companies offer services in this space as well: Google's Doubleclick Bid Manager and Amazon DSP are both RTB demand-side platforms. In RTB, identifiers are shared so that the advertisers themselves (or their agents) can decide whether they want to reach each individual and what ad they want to show. In the RTB ecosystem, advertisers collect their own data about how users behave, and they may use in-house machine learning models in order to predict which users are most likely to engage with their ads or buy their products.
Some advertisers want to reach users on Facebook or Google, but don't want to use the big companies' proprietary targeting techniques. Instead, they can buy lists of contact information from data brokers, then upload those lists directly to Facebook or Google, who will reach those users across all of their platforms. This system undermines big companies' efforts to rein in discriminatory or otherwise malicious targeting. Targeting platforms like Google and Facebook do not allow advertisers to target users of particular ethnicities with ads for jobs, housing, or credit. However, advertisers can buy demographic information about individuals from data brokers, upload a list of names who happen to be from the same racial group, and have the platform target those people directly. Both Google and Facebook forbid the use of ''sensitive information'' to target people with contact lists, but it's unclear how they enforce these policies.
Political campaigns and interest groupsCompanies aren't the only entities that try to benefit from data collection and targeted advertising. Cambridge Analytica used ill-gotten personal data to estimate ''psychographics'' for millions of potential voters, then used that data to help political campaigns. In 2018, the group CatholicVote used cell-phone location data to determine who had been inside a Catholic church, then targeted them with ''get out the vote'' ads. Anti-abortion groups used similar geo-fencing technology to target ads to women while they were at abortion clinics..
And those incidents are not isolated. Some non-profits that rely on donations buy data to help narrow in on potential donors. Many politicians around the country have used open voter registration data to target voters. The Democratic National Committee is reportedly investing heavily in its ''data warehouse'' ahead of the 2020 election. And Deep Root Analytics, a consulting firm for the Republican party, was the source of the largest breach of US voter data in history; it had been collecting names, registration details, and ''modeled'' ethnicity and religion data about nearly 200 million Americans.
Debt collectors, bounty hunters, and fraud investigatorsDebt collectors, bounty hunters, and repossession agencies all purchase and use location data from a number of sources. EFF is suing AT&T for its role in selling location data to aggregators, which enabled a secondary market that allowed access by bounty hunters. However, phone carriers aren't the only source of that data. The bail bond company Captira sold location data gathered from cell phones and ALPRs to bounty hunters for as little as $7.50. And thousands of apps collect ''consensual'' location data using GPS permissions, then sell that data to downstream aggregators. This data can be used to locate fugitives, debtors, and those who have not kept up with car payments. And as investigations have shown, it can also be purchased'--and abused'--by nearly anyone.
Cities, law enforcement, intelligence agenciesThe public sector also purchases data from the private sector for all manner of applications. For example, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement bought ALPR data from Vigilant to help locate people the agency intends to deport. Government agencies contract with data brokers for myriad tasks, from determining eligibility for human services to tax collection, according to the League of California Cities, in a letter seeking an exception from that state's consumer data privacy law for contracts between government agencies and data brokers. Advocates have long decried these arrangements between government agencies and private data brokers as a threat to consumer data privacy, as well as an end-run around legal limits on governments' own databases. And of course, national security surveillance often rests on the data mining of private companies' reservoirs of consumer data. For example, as part of the PRISM program revealed by Edward Snowden, the NSA collected personal data directly from Google, YouTube, Facebook, and Yahoo.
Part 4: Fighting backYou might want to resist tracking to avoid being targeted by invasive or manipulative ads. You might be unhappy that your private information is being bartered and sold behind your back. You might be concerned that someone who wishes you harm can access your location through a third-party data broker. Perhaps you fear that data collected by corporations will end up in the hands of police and intelligence agencies. Or third-party tracking might just be a persistent nuisance that gives you a vague sense of unease.
But the unfortunate reality is that tracking is hard to avoid. With thousands of independent actors using hundreds of different techniques, corporate surveillance is widespread and well-funded. While there's no switch to flip that can prevent every method of tracking, there's still a lot that you can do to take back your privacy. This section will go over some of the ways that privacy-conscious users can avoid and disrupt third-party tracking.
Each person should decide for themselves how much effort they're willing to put into protecting their privacy. Small changes can seriously cut back on the amount of data that trackers can collect and share, like installing EFF's tracker-blocker extension Privacy Badger in your browser and changing settings on a phone. Bigger changes, like uninstalling third-party apps and using Tor, can offer stronger privacy guarantees at the cost of time, convenience, and sometimes money. Stronger measures may be worth it for users who have serious concerns.
Finally, keep in mind that none of this is your fault. Privacy shouldn't be a matter of personal responsibility. It's not your job to obsess over the latest technologies that can secretly monitor you, and you shouldn't have to read through a quarter million words of privacy-policy legalese to understand how your phone shares data. Privacy should be a right, not a privilege for the well-educated and those flush with spare time. Everyone deserves to live in a world'--online and offline'--that respects their privacy.
In a better world, the companies that we choose to share our data with would earn our trust, and everyone else would mind their own business. That's why EFF files lawsuits to compel companies to respect consumers' data privacy, and why we support legislation that would make privacy the law of the land. With the help of our members and supporters, we are making progress, but changing corporate surveillance policies is a long and winding path. So for now, let's talk about how you can fight back.
On the webThere are several ways to limit your exposure to tracking on the Web. First, your choice of browser matters. Certain browser developers take more seriously their software's role as a ''user agent'' acting on your behalf. Apple's Safari takes active measures against the most common forms of tracking, including third-party cookies, first-to-third party cookie sharing, and fingerprinting. Mozilla's Firefox blocks third-party cookies from known trackers by default, and Firefox's Private Browsing mode will block requests to trackers altogether.
Browser extensions like EFF's Privacy Badger and uBlock Origin offer another layer of protection. In particular, Privacy Badger learns to block trackers using heuristics, which means it might catch new or uncommon trackers that static, list-based blockers miss. This makes Privacy Badger a good supplement to the built-in protections offered by Firefox, which rely on the Disconnect list. And while Google Chrome does not block any tracking behavior by default, installing Privacy Badger or another tracker-blocking extension in Chrome will allow you to use it with relatively little exposure to tracking. (However, planned changes in Chrome will likely affect the security and privacy tools that many use to block tracking.)
Browser extensions like EFF's Privacy Badger offer a layer of protection against third-party tracking on the web. Privacy Badger learns to block trackers using heuristics, which means it might catch new or uncommon trackers that static, list-based blockers miss.
No tracker blocker is perfect. All tracker blockers must make exceptions for companies that serve legitimate content. Privacy Badger, for example, maintains a list of domains which are known to perform tracking behaviors as well as serving content that is necessary for many sites to function, such as content delivery networks and video hosts. Privacy Badger restricts those domains' ability to track by blocking cookies and access to local storage, but dedicated trackers can still access IP addresses, TLS state, and some kinds of fingerprintable data.
If you'd like to go the extra mile and are comfortable with tinkering, you can install a network-level filter in your home. Pi-hole filters all traffic on a local network at the DNS level. It acts as a personal DNS server, rejecting requests to domains which are known to host trackers. Pi-hole blocks tracking requests coming from devices which are otherwise difficult to configure, like smart TVs, game consoles, and Internet of Things products.
For people who want to reduce their exposure as much as possible, Tor Browser is the gold standard for privacy. Tor uses an onion routing service to totally mask its users' IP addresses. It takes aggressive steps to reduce fingerprinting, like blocking access to the HTML canvas by default. It completely rejects TLS session tickets and clears cookies at the end of each session.
Unfortunately, browsing the web with Tor in 2019 is not for everyone. It significantly slows down traffic, so pages take much longer to load, and streaming video or other real-time content is very difficult. Worse, much of the modern web relies on invisible CAPTCHAs that block or throttle traffic from sources deemed ''suspicious.'' Traffic from Tor is frequently classified as high-risk, so doing something as simple as a Google search with Tor can trigger CAPTCHA tests. And since Tor is a public network which attackers also use, some websites will block Tor visitors altogether.
On mobile phonesBlocking trackers on mobile devices is more complicated. There isn't one solution, like a browser or an extension, that can cover many bases. And unfortunately, it's simply not possible to control certain kinds of tracking on certain devices.
The first line of defense against tracking is your device's settings.
Both iOS and Android let users view and control the permissions that each app has access to. You should check the permissions that your apps have, and remove the permissions that aren't needed. While you are at it, you might simply remove the apps you are not using. In addition to per-app settings, you can change global settings that affect how your device collects and shares particularly sensitive information, like location. You can also control how apps are allowed to access the Internet when they are not in use, which can prevent passive tracking.
Both operating systems also have options to reset your device's ad ID in different ways. On iOS, you can remove the ad ID entirely by setting it to a string of zeros. (Here are some other ways to block ad tracking on iOS.) On Android, you can manually reset it. This is equivalent to clearing your cookies, but not blocking new ones: it won't disable tracking entirely, but will make it more difficult for trackers to build a unified profile about you.
Android also has a setting to ''opt out of interest-based ads.'' This sends a signal to apps that the user does not want to have their data used for targeted ads, but it doesn't actually stop the apps from doing so by means of the ad ID. Indeed, recent research found that tens of thousands of apps simply ignore the signal.
On iOS, there are a handful of apps that can filter tracking activity from other apps. On Android, it's not so easy. Google bans ad- and tracker-blockers from its app store, the Play Store, so it has no officially vetted apps of this kind. It's possible to ''side-load'' blockers from outside of the Play Store, but this can be very risky. Make sure you only install apps from publishers you trust, preferably with open source code.
You should also think about the networks your devices are communicating with. It is best to avoid connecting to unfamiliar public WiFi networks. If you do, the ''free'' WiFi probably comes at the cost of your data.
Wireless beacons are also trying to collect information from your device. They can only collect identifying information if your devices are broadcasting their hardware MAC addresses. Both iOS and Android now randomize these MAC addresses by default, but other kinds of devices may not. Your e-reader, smart watch, or car may be broadcasting probe requests that trackers can use to derive location data. To prevent this, you can usually turn off WiFi and Bluetooth or set your device to ''airplane mode.'' (This is also a good way to save battery!)
Finally, if you really need to be anonymous, using a ''burner phone'' can help you control tracking associated with inherent hardware identifiers.
IRLIn the real world, opting out isn't so simple.
As we've described, there are many ways to modify the way your devices work to prevent them from working against you. But it's almost impossible to avoid tracking by face recognition cameras and automatic license plate readers. Sure, you can paint your face to disrupt face recognition algorithms, you can choose not to own a car to stay out of ALPR companies' databases, and you can use cash or virtual credit cards to stop payment processors from profiling you. But these options aren't realistic for most people most of the time, and it's not feasible for anyone to avoid all the tracking that they're exposed to.
Knowledge is, however, half the battle. For now, face recognition cameras are most likely to identify you in specific locations, like airports, during international travel. ALPR cameras are much more pervasive and harder to avoid, but if absolutely necessary, it is possible to use public transit or other transportation methods to limit how often your vehicle is tracked.
In the legislatureSome jurisdictions have laws to protect users from tracking. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union gives those it covers the right to access and delete information that's been collected about them. It also requires companies to have a legitimate reason to use data, which could come from a ''legitimate interest'' or opt-in consent. The GDPR is far from perfect, and its effectiveness will depend on how regulators and courts implement it in the years to come. But it gives meaningful rights to users and prescribes real consequences for companies who violate them.
In the U.S., a smattering of state and federal laws offer specific protections to some. Vermont's data privacy law brings transparency to data brokers. The Illinois Biometric Information Protection Act (BIPA) requires companies to get consent from users before collecting or sharing biometric identifiers. In 2020, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) will take effect, giving users there the right to access their personal information, delete it, and opt out of its sale. Some communities have passed legislation to limit government use of face recognition, and more plan to pass it soon.
At the federal level, some information in some circumstances is protected by laws like HIPAA, FERPA, COPPA, the Video Privacy Protection Act, and a handful of financial data privacy laws. However, these sector-specific federal statutes apply only to specific types information about specific types of people when held by specific businesses. They have many gaps, which are exploited by trackers, advertisers, and data brokers.
To make a long story very short, most third-party data collection in the U.S. is unregulated. That's why EFF advocates for new laws to protect user privacy. People should have the right to know what personal information is collected about them and what is done with it. We should be free from corporate processing of our data unless we give our informed opt-in consent. Companies shouldn't be able to charge extra or degrade service when users choose to exercise their privacy rights. They should be held accountable when they misuse or mishandle our data. And people should have the right to take companies to court when their privacy is violated.
The first step is to break the one-way mirror. We need to shed light on the tangled network of trackers that lurk in the shadows behind the glass. In the sunlight, these systems of commercial surveillance are exposed for what they are: Orwellian, but not omniscient; entrenched, but not inevitable. Once we, the users, understand what we're up against, we can fight back.
oftwominds-Charles Hugh Smith: Is Social Media the New Tobacco?
If we set out to design a highly addictive platform that optimized the most toxic, destructive aspects of human nature, we'd eventually come up with social media.Social problems arise when initially harmless addictions explode in popularity, and economic problems arise when the long-term costs of the addictions start adding up. Political problems arise when the addictions are so immensely profitable that the companies skimming the profits can buy political influence to protect their toxic products from scrutiny and regulation.That describes both the tobacco industry before its political protection was stripped away and social media today, as the social media giants hasten to buy political influence to protect their immensely profitable monopolies from scrutiny and regulation.It's difficult to measure the full costs of addictions because our system focuses on price discovery at the point of purchase, meaning that absent any regulatory measuring of long-term consequences, the cost of a pack of cigarettes is based not on the long-term costs but solely on the cost of producing and packaging the tobacco into cigarettes, and the enterprise side: marketing, overhead and profit.(I address the consequences of what we don't measure in my latest book, Will You Be Richer or Poorer?)To take tobacco as an example, the full costs of smoking two packs of cigarettes a day for 20 years is not limited to the cost of the cigarettes: 365 days/year X 20 years X 2 packs (14,600) X cost per pack ($5 each) $73,000.The full costs might total over $1 million in treatments for lung cancer and heart disease, and the reduction in life span and productivity of the smoker. (The emotional losses of those who lose a loved one to a painful early death is difficult to assign an economic value but it is very real.)If the full costs of the nicotine addiction were included at the point of purchase, each pack of cigarettes would cost about $70 ($1,000,000 / 14,600). Very few people could afford a habit that costs $140 per day ($51,000 per year).What are the full costs of the current addiction to social media? These costs are even more difficult to measure than the consequences of widespread addiction to nicotine, but they exist regardless of our unwillingness or inability to measure the costs.Consider the devastating consequences of social media on teen suicides. Here is one such story: Tragedy.Then there's all the lost productivity as social media addicts check their phones 150+ times a day, interrupting not just work or school but intimacy, up to and including sex.The psychological attraction of smoking is the core of tobacco marketing, of course; no tobacco company sells cigarettes on the benefits of nicotine addiction. The pitch is that smoking cigarettes is glamorous and attractive because it's "adult" and forbidden.Anything that has the double allure of the forbidden and the glamorous is extremely compelling to social animals such as humans, who seek to "stand out" via glamour and risk-taking to heighten our social status, which plays such a life-changing role in the selection of mates and our position in the pecking-order hierarchy.Social media shares certain aspects of these dynamics. While it's not exactly glamorous, social media enables otherwise average individuals the golden opportunity to "stand out" and raise their social status by attracting more "likes" and positive feedback than other consumers of social media.In effect, social media offers an extremely compelling megaphone to individuals whose social status in the real world is modest (due to the "long-tail" distribution of opportunities to become socially prominent or wealthy, which are increasingly concentrated in the very tip-top of the social hierarchy) to increase their social status in the digital realm via social media.Compare the ease of social media to the traditional paths to social prominence: building a business or career to attain wealth, community service via leadership roles in organizations, gaining high visibility in conventional media via extraordinary good looks, athletic or artistic talent, etc. Each of these is an extremely demanding path, one that few people attain, and hence the relatively few at the top of the heap.As my friend GFB once remarked, in the real world you have to actually earn the money to buy the Mercedes to show off to your friends, but in social media, you only need to post photos of yourself in a Mercedes in a well-chosen setting, and then relentlessly promote yourself on social media platforms.In other words, social media holds out the promise that an average person can become larger than they are in real life with relatively modest tools (an Internet connection and a camera).This is reinforced when we look at many of the individuals who have built huge social media audiences and find that they're not any better looking or more talented than the rest of us.This promise of attaining higher social status without having to work incredibly hard at difficult accomplishments is very compelling.With the rise of social media influencers as key marketing assets, the most successful social media mavens can earn extraordinary incomes by selling products to their social media audience.Alas, the long-tail distribution of real-world social status (the few at the top garner the vast majority of the wealth and status) also applies to social media, where a relative few gain audiences in the millions and the vast majority of participants must make do with a relative handful of followers and "likes."This leaves the majority of users extremely vulnerable to slight changes in their social media visibility and status; someone with 15 followers is devastated by the loss of 5 followers, where the individual with 6 million followers would have to lose 2 million followers to suffer the same erosion.Toxic critics have limited opportunities in the real world. The person driving by in the Mercedes or addressing a community organization won't even hear the snarky comments of the envious in the audience.But social media gives pride of place to the most toxic critics, providing a global platform for anyone who wants to tear someone else down.If we set out to design a highly addictive platform that optimized the most toxic, destructive aspects of human nature, we'd eventually come up with social media.It's not clear that there is any way to regulate social media to quantify or reduce its addictiveness or toxicity, and so the only solution appears to be cold-turkey: don't get addicted in the first place, and if you are addicted, then abandon social media entirely (cold-turkey).My recent books:Will You Be Richer or Poorer? Profit, Power and A.I. in a Traumatized World (Kindle $6.95, print $11.95) Read the first section for free (PDF).Pathfinding our Destiny: Preventing the Final Fall of Our Democratic Republic ($6.95 (Kindle), $12 (print), $13.08 ( audiobook): Read the first section for free (PDF).The Adventures of the Consulting Philosopher: The Disappearance of Drake $1.29 (Kindle), $8.95 (print); read the first chapters for free (PDF)Money and Work Unchained $6.95 (Kindle), $15 (print) Read the first section for free (PDF).If you found value in this content, please join me in seeking solutions by becoming a $1/month patron of my work via patreon.com.NOTE: Contributions/subscriptions are acknowledged in the order received. Your name and email remain confidential and will not be given to any other individual, company or agency. Thank you, Sanjay K. ($5/month), for your massively generous subscription to this site-- I am greatly honored by your support and readership.
"Literally A Brick": Tesla Seizes Up Two Days Before Christmas In Holiday Horror Story | Zero Hedge
It seems as though there is a new Tesla horror story on social media every day.
Writing about and highlighting all of these would necessitate an entirely new Zero Hedge department focused solely on this one task, so we save our "horror story" posts for the ones that stand out.
Such was the case with a story that spanned four days over the holiday when Serena Dai, editor for Eater NY, celebrated her holiday season with her father - and their bricked Tesla.
Serena took to Twitter to highlight her horror story, one exasperated Tweet at a time. First, two days before Christmas, she noted that her father's Tesla had "bricked" and wouldn't open.
My parent's @Tesla wouldn't open with app or keycard tonight. Literally a brick in a parking lot, had to call customer service and get it towed. Tow truck guy shows up, says he tows a LOT of Teslas. ''I hate this car''
'-- Serena Dai (@ssdai) December 24, 2019Serena calls to get a tow and when the driver shows up, he remarks that he tows "a lot" of Teslas and that he "hates this car".
''It could be something very very minor or it could be something major,'' the driver says, according to Serena. Even with the smallest issue, the car requires a tow, she notes. She also says her parents have had the car for less than a year.
Huge tech world energy: Look at all these cool features!!! But also, you can't get into the car without fucking Bluetooth -__-
'-- Serena Dai (@ssdai) December 24, 2019...but like any good Tesla cult member, she says her father defended the car needing repair so soon.
But our burns seem to be sliding off of my dad, who I guess is a Tesla bro now.Him: ''You have to look at the big picture.''
Me: ''Does it involve getting stranded at the mall for an hour and a half''
'-- Serena Dai (@ssdai) December 24, 2019And so the car was promptly returned to them and the story ends, right? Wrong - of course.
Serena took back to Twitter 3 days later to share an update to the story: Tesla had "lost the car", saying it "cannot be found at the service center" where it supposedly had been taken to. Oh, and don't expect the company to supply a loaner car in the interim, either, she said.
I'm dying: Tesla is currently telling my parents that the company might not have a loaner car, as too many Teslas have been towed in Houston over the last few days.
'-- Serena Dai (@ssdai) December 26, 2019From there, Serena tries to get customer service the only way people seem to be able to - by pleading with Elon Musk on Twitter. "
What's the deal?" she asked Musk on Twitter. "Treating your biggest fans (AKA my dad) like this doesn't seem like the best business practice," she continues.
Finally, later in the day on the 26th, she remarked that the "car is back".
"They took hours to find it because without the key, they couldn't find it even though it was in the parking lot," Dai concluded. The issue that left Dai's father without a car for 4 days turned out to be a "loose cable".
This saga has been truly astonishing. I know that there are always bumps for early adopters, but this is expensive heavy machinery, not an app. What if something had come loose while we were in it?
'-- Serena Dai (@ssdai) December 26, 2019Just another day flying toward Elon Musk's future at a million miles an hour...
Twitter Censors President Trump's Tweets Exposing Dems
Skip to contentDeletes tweets from POTUS' homepage without consequence Infowars.com - December 28, 2019 Comments Twitter has apparently censored President Trump's tweets exposing unhinged Democrats and highlighting his strong chances of winning the 2020 election.
Several tweets made by Trump in the last 24 hours do not appear on his personal Twitter homepage.
On Friday at 8:57 PM, Trump tweeted out a video of a Democrat celebrating the rising number of suicides among white men.
What kind of an animal is this? https://t.co/oQSExXIxDV
'-- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 28, 2019
But as The Gateway Pundit noted, this tweet cannot be found on Trump's homepage, though it is still available when searched.
In fact, Trump's tweet about liberal filmmaker Michael Moore predicting Trump's 2020 victory has also disappeared from Trump's Twitter feed.
He made same prediction in 2016. Nobody ever said Michael was stupid! https://t.co/XDEzsTS1Pt
'-- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 28, 2019
Additionally, several other tweets Trump made about First Lady Melania, Congresswoman Debbie Lesko (R-Ariz.), and far-left Rep. Rashida Tlaib also cannot be found on Trump's homepage.
Sadly, it doesn't appear that Trump will demand answers from Twitter before the 2020 election, as he has largely let Big Tech censorship go on uninterrupted against conservatives, and now even himself.
Yuri Bezmenov, KGB Defector, warned Americans of the scientific demoralization campaigns waged in media decades ago. Learn to identify these techniques aimed at subverting American culture.
''Also, be sure to start the new year right by taking advantage of our End Of The Year Mega Blowout Sale for unbelievable deals on a range of amazing products!
ralph waldo cybersyn on Twitter: "Here's a Twitter search of people who have contacted Sonos because they unintentionally put their devices into Recycle Mode, or changed their minds, only to be told that Sonos refuses to stop the irreversible bricking of
Sonos states on their website that "sustainability is non-negotiable," and that they design products to minimize impact, but I work at an e-waste recycler and have demonstrable proof this is false.Sonos's "recycle mode" intentionally bricks good devices so they can't be reused.
pic.twitter.com/VJDNhYOxRy View photo · Someone recycled five of these Sonos Play:5 speakers. They're worth $250 each, used, and these are in good condition. They could easily be reused.Unfortunately, the person who recycled them put them in recycle mode.
pic.twitter.com/TNx2MEOWqu View conversation · This is part of Sonos' "Trade Up" program, which gives customers a discount on new devices bought from Sonos.Putting a fully functional device in recycle mode starts an irreversible 21-day countdown, after which it's rendered permanently useless.
pic.twitter.com/ztj8UKyM6S View conversation · Anyone even remotely familiar with recycling can tell you the mantra "reduce, reuse, recycle." Recycling takes energy and, while it saves materials, reuse is always better.Sonos is throwing any claimed environmental friendliness in the trash in order to sell more speakers.
pic.twitter.com/4yL4XKZfvQ View conversation · This is the the most environmentally unfriendly abuse and waste of perfectly hardware I've seen in five years working at a recycler.We could have sold these, and ensured they were reused, as we do with all the working electronics we're able. Now we have to scrap them.
View conversation · Apple has activation locks and Meraki has licensing requirements, one for anti-theft and the other to sell software.This is the only time I've seen a company explicitly brick its own hardware in the name of "sustainability" and "encouraging recycling."
View conversation · To add insult to injury, there are complaints on Sonos' support forums from people who've managed to accidentally put their devices into recycling mode, and been told by Sonos support that there's no way to stop the countdown, forcing them to buy new devices after 21 days.
View conversation · This whole situation is screwed up, especially since it's actively harming the environment in direct contravention of their stated values, and Sonos is the only manufacturer I know of that does it. Who the hell came up with this idea?
View conversation · From what our eBay guy can tell, the bricking isn't even in hardware; you can't recover it if you're good with JTAG, because it's blacklisted as "recycled" on their servers.There's nothing stopping these things from working except Sonos says they can't.
View conversation ·
Michael Tsai - Blog - Apple News No Longer Supports RSS
Want to add an RSS feed of a site to News app? Can't find a site you like in the Apple approved list on News app? No problem, here's how you can add them yourself from Safari in iOS and subscribe directly['...]
David A. Desrosiers:
Apple News on iOS and macOS no longer supports adding RSS or ATOM feeds from anywhere. Full-stop, period. It will immediately fetch, then reject those feeds and fail to display them, silently without any message or error. I can see in my own server's log that they make the request using the correct app on iOS and macOS, but then ignore the feed completely; a validated, clean feed.
They ONLY support their own, hand-picked, curated feeds now. You can visit a feed in Safari, and it will prompt you to open the feed in Apple News, then silently ignore that request, after fetching the full feed content from the remote site.
Apple News+Switching From RSS to Apple News FormatApple NewsI wish I could remember who it was, but there were some folks who thought I was crazy to use Apple News and an RSS reader since Apple News could aggregate my RSS feeds too. I didn't use it at the time because I thought it was a bad RSS reader and didn't do what I wanted. Now I'm happy that I didn't put my eggs (of feeds) in one basket; a basket that doesn't have an export option.
See also: Hacker News.
I was all ready to celebrate this change until I realised that the News app still captures the click when you visit an RSS feed, but then just refuses to do anything with it.
Apple News isn't (what I consider) an RSS reader, yet insisted on capturing every RSS feed I clicked on. Now it's even worse. Just let it open in Safari like it used to so I can get the RSS URL myself and add it to my actual feed reader. I really hope this gets fixed.
What bothers me is that in Mobile Safari the Apple News app still hijacks clicks on Atom/RSS feeds - so if you click a feed icon you'll be bounced to the News app, which will then display an error message.
I don't think there's a workaround for this. Atom links just look broken.
This is fine, there are plenty great RSS readers for iOS. What is not fine is that Apple News is still claiming the rss:// scheme. What Apple needs to do is implement a proper system wide setting that lets you pick the applications that you want for http, rss, mail, etc.
Apple: Don't Default on Default AppsStefan Arentz:
On iOS 13.3, tapping on an RSS link in Safari ..
Apple News Atom Syndication Format iOS iOS 13 Mac macOS 10.15 Catalina MobileSafari RSS Top Posts Web
Stay up-to-date by subscribing to the Comments RSS Feed for this post.
UN backs Russia on internet convention, alarming rights advocates
Rights groups fear a proposed UN convention will restrict internet access (AFP Photo/SAUL LOEB)
United Nations (United States) (AFP) - The United Nations on Friday approved a Russian-led bid that aims to create a new convention on cybercrime, alarming rights groups and Western powers that fear a bid to restrict online freedom.
The General Assembly approved the resolution sponsored by Russia and backed by China, which would set up a committee of international experts in 2020.
The panel will work to set up "a comprehensive international convention on countering the use of information and communications technologies for criminal purposes," the resolution said.
The United States, European powers and rights groups fear that the language is code for legitimizing crackdowns on expression, with numerous countries defining criticism of the government as "criminal."
China heavily restricts internet searches to avoid topics sensitive to its communist leadership, as well as news sites with critical coverage.
A number of countries have increasingly tried to turn off the internet, with India cutting off access in Kashmir in August after it stripped autonomy to the Muslim-majority region and Iran taking much of the country offline as it cracked down on protests in November.
"It is precisely our fear that (a new convention) would allow the codification at an international and global level of these types of controls that's driving our opposition and our concerns about this resolution," a US official said.
Any new UN treaty that spells out internet controls would be "inimical to the United States' interests because that doesn't tally with the fundamental freedoms we see as necessary across the globe," he said.
Human Rights Watch called the UN resolution's list of sponsors "a rogue's gallery of some of the earth's most repressive governments."
"If the plan is to develop a convention that gives countries legal cover for internet blackouts and censorship, while creating the potential for criminalizing free speech, then it's a bad idea," said Human Rights Watch's Louis Charbonneau.
The United States argues that the world should instead expand its sole existing accord on cybercrime, the 2001 Budapest Convention, which spells out international cooperation to curb copyright violations, fraud and child pornography.
Russia has opposed the Budapest Convention, arguing that giving investigators access to computer data across borders violates national sovereignty.
The Budapest Convention was drafted by the Council of Europe, but other countries have joined, including the United States and Japan.
A new UN treaty on cybercrime could render the Budapest Convention obsolete, further alarming rights groups.
Google's Monopoly is Stifling Free Software - byuu - Medium
Google has an undeniable monopoly on search, and a near-monopoly on web browsing software via Chrome and its forks. And even alternative browsers such as Mozilla's Firefox reference Google's Safe Browsing service to decide on the trustworthiness of downloads.
Stopping the spread of malware is a laudible goal, but a consequence of this is directly harming free and open source software developers from being able to release their software without paying expensive certificate authority rent-seeking fees.
If a software developer attempts to release a new version of their software online, they're likely to be met with this warning in their Google Search Console:
By definition and with no exceptions, all software is uncommon when it is first released.
It doesn't matter that you've had your domain for fourteen years without ever having hosted anything malicious:
It doesn't matter if none of seventy-two virus scanners flag any malicious content in your executable:
It doesn't matter if you request a review from Google which comes back clear:
The warnings just come back, often times on the very same file you've already had reviewed.
This isn't just a scary warning that is easily ignored: web browsers will warn users that your software might be malicious. And it's clear from Google's warning that it considers your site compromised, which can lead to search result penalties including delisting.
This in spite of the fact that you've done nothing wrong other than release software onto the web.
This process is totally opaque: How many downloads are needed before the software is no longer considered uncommon? How long can your site host an uncommon download before a penalty is applied to it in search? Will obtaining a Windows code signing certificate alleviate these warnings or not? Does it have to be an EV certificate?
So let's say you want to get a code signing certificate to see if that helps:
What a deal for a small free software developer. Also, you need to have a registered business that is verified by the Better Business Bureau to receive your EV certificate.
If you'd like a regular certificate, you can do so by attaching your public legal name to your software and sending in a copy of your driver's license. And that is to say nothing of the risks you take these days online by publishing your legal name.
And even if you do all of this and start signing your executables, I still can't find any assurance whether Google will begin to treat these executables as safe or not.
In my own case, this has effectively prevented me from releasing compiled binaries of my own software going forward. If code signing is a requirement to distribute free software, then we need a Let's Encrypt-style alternative for code signing'-- yesterday. If not, then Google needs a policy change on how it handles new software releases from free and open source software developers.
THIS GLOBALIST POLITICAL CLASS GREW UP WITH: John Lennon - Imagine Lyrics | MetroLyrics
Poland has summoned the Russian ambassador in Warsaw to explain President Vladimir Putin's remarks about the anti-Semitism of the 1930s Polish ambassador to Germany. Moscow is refusing to budge from the historical truth.
In a speech on Tuesday, Putin described Jozef Lipski, the Polish ambassador to Berlin (1934-1939) as ''a bastard and anti-Semitic pig.'' He based this on Lipski's own words from 1938, when the envoy told Hitler the Poles would ''erect him a beautiful monument in Warsaw'' if he carried out the plan to expel European Jews to Africa.
Also on rt.com Poland wanted to 'erect magnificent monument' to honor Hitler's plan to send Jews to Africa '' Putin cites WWII archives Warsaw responded on Friday by summoning Russian Ambassador Sergey Andreyev to the Foreign Ministry to explain himself. After having a ''harsh but diplomatic'' discussion with the head of the Eastern Department, Andreyev said he stood by the president's statements as Russia's official position.
We will not allow anyone to lecture us
''We have something to say ourselves, on the topic of politics of history,'' Andreyev told reporters after the meeting.
Putin had brought up Lipski in the context of Poland's push for WWII revisionism, including the removal of monuments to Soviet soldiers who died in its liberation from Nazi Germany, and a resolution Warsaw pushed in the European Parliament in September, which claimed that the 1939 non-aggression pact between Moscow and Berlin had ''paved the way for the outbreak of the Second World War.''
Modern Polish historical narrative argues that the Molotov-Ribbentrop agreement was a conspiracy against Warsaw, and that there is no difference between the Nazi invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939 and the Soviet troops coming in from the east sixteen days later.
Also on rt.com 'We owe nothing': Poland brings up reparations from Berlin but says 'NO' to Jewish restitution Russia has rejected this as a falsification of history, often pointing out that neither the government in Warsaw at the time, nor its British and French allies '' who had earlier declared war on Germany in support of their security guarantees to Poland '' saw it fit to declare war on the Soviet Union.
The Soviet Union was the last country in Europe to sign a non-aggression pact with Berlin '' Lipski had negotiated Poland's in 1934 '' and only after the UK and France had partitioned Czechoslovakia at the 1938 Munich conference to appease Hitler, over Moscow's objections.
Lipski had played a key role in interwar Poland's pro-German and anti-Soviet foreign policy. After the war, he moved to the US and represented the de-recognized 'Polish Government in Exile' until his death in 1958. His anti-Semitic remark quoted by Putin is public knowledge in the West.
Also on rt.com Lest we forget? Western amnesia about Soviet role in WWII victory has some disturbing aspects'... Think your friends would be interested? Share this story!
Russia-Ukraine gas talks in Vienna lasting over six hours
MOSCOW, December 28. /TASS/. Russia and Ukraine have been negotiating fulfillment of gas transit agreements for over six hours already, a representative of Russia's Gazprom told reporters on Saturday.
"The talks are continuing," he said without specifying the expected time of the end of the meeting.
On December 20, Moscow and Kiev announced that a new gas transit contract was agreed for the term of five years, and that mutual settlements between Gazprom and Naftogaz of Ukraine were settled. The parties agreed to waive new mutual claims and withdraw existing mutual claims. Gazprom should pay around $2.9 bln to Naftogaz by the year-end under the decision made by the Stockholm Arbitration. Moreover, an amicable settlement was agreed on antitrust proceedings against Gazprom in Ukraine. On Friday, Gazprom reported that the amount had been paid to Naftogaz.
Earlier on Saturday the Ukrainian government approved signing of an amicable agreement with Gazprom. The amicable agreement settles the claims of the Antimonopoly Committee of Ukraine against Russia's Gazprom amounting to around $7 bln. Russia's Energy Minister Alexander Novak said earlier this week that the sides would sign an amicable agreement on December 19, after which all claims would be withdrawn and attachments of Gazprom's property in Europe would be lifted. Moreover, the agreements stipulate that Gazprom will sign an interconnection agreement with 'Gas Transmission System Operator of Ukraine', and a transport agreement on booking the Ukrainian gas transport system's facilities with Naftogaz of Ukraine. Naftogaz will act as organizer of transit thus taking the transit period risks.
The agreement stipulates the minimum level of pumped gas of 65 bln cubic meters in 2020 and 40 bln cubic meters each year in the period between 2021 and 2024.
Ukraine hands over all prisoners to Donbass republics in prisoner swap
KIEV, December 29. /TASS/. Ukrainian and Russian representatives started a process of signing gas transit agreements in Vienna, Ukraine's Justice Minister Denis Malyuska announced on Sunday, posting a photo of the document-signing ceremony on his Facebook page.
"The process of signing is not yet finished," he said, commenting on the event. Head of the Ukrainian Gas Transport System Operator Sergei Makogon also posted a photo on his Facebook page, saying "the process has started.".
Head of Ukraine's Naftogaz oil and gas company Andrei Kobolev earlier said that the Russian and Ukrainian sides had so far been unable to agree on the texts of gas transit agreements.
He said, however, that "certain progress has been made."
According to the Naftogaz chief, three documents are being discussed. One of them is a deal between Ukraine's new gas transit system operator, the Gas Transportation System Operator of Ukraine, and Gazprom, which sets out technical procedures and rules of interaction between the operators.
Besides, the negotiators are working on an agreement to organize transit between Naftogaz and Gazprom, and on a settlement agreement, in which both companies waive their claims regarding the 2009 contracts.
The new round of the talks between the Russian and Ukrainian delegations in Vienna started on December 26.
On December 20, Moscow and Kiev announced that a new gas transit contract had been agreed for the term of five years and that mutual claims between Gazprom and Naftogaz of Ukraine had been settled. The parties also agreed to waive new and withdraw existing mutual claims. Gazprom will also pay around $2.9 bln to Naftogaz by the year-end under the decision made by the Stockholm Arbitration. Moreover, an amicable settlement was agreed on antitrust proceedings against Gazprom in Ukraine. On Friday, Gazprom reported that the amount had been paid to Naftogaz.
On Saturday the Ukrainian government approved the signing of the amicable agreement with Gazprom. The document settles the claims of the Antimonopoly Committee of Ukraine against Russia's Gazprom amounting to around $7 bln. Russia's Energy Minister Alexander Novak said earlier this week that the sides would sign an amicable agreement on December 29, after which all claims would be withdrawn and attachments of Gazprom's property in Europe would be lifted.
Shut Up Slave!
More than a third of millennials polled approve of communism - MarketWatch
A new survey released by the Washington, D.C., nonprofit Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation reflects that, if the younger generation gets out and votes in 2020, those running for office on the far left have reason to be hopeful.
According to YouGov, which conducted the poll, capitalism, amid a widening divide between the haves and have-nots, has plunged in popularity from a year ago, with one out of every two millennials '-- ages 23 to 38 '-- supporting it.
Meanwhile, 36% of millennials polled say that they approve of communism, which is up significantly from 28% in 2018.
Socialism, a dirty word to the president and many of his supporters, has shown a decrease in favorability in all age groups except the Silent Generation (age 74+) and millennials, of which 70% say they'd be likely to vote for a socialist candidate.
Marion Smith, executive director of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, says he's troubled by the findings of the poll.
''The historical amnesia about the dangers of communism and socialism is on full display in this year's report,'' Smith said in a statement on Monday. ''When we don't educate our youngest generations about the historical truth of 100 million victims murdered at the hands of communist regimes over the past century, we shouldn't be surprised at their willingness to embrace Marxist ideas.''
Other nuggets from the report include that 22% of millennials believe ''society would be better if all private property was abolished,'' and that 45% of Generation Z members and millennials believe that ''all higher education should be free.''
As for the biggest threat to world peace, 27% across every generation pointed a finger at President Trump, while 22% named North Korea's Kim Jong-Un and 15% picked Russia's Vladimir Putin.
Macron's corporacratic State blunders on, treading water as it does so. But for the moment, it looks unstoppable. ¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤¤
And so, back to business as usual. Like every French resident living in a rural area, I received a dinky little Christmas present from our beloved Chef d'Etat, Emmanuel Macron.
Some three years ago, when Macrony swept to power, he fulfilled his very powerful election promise to abolish the taxe d'habitation '' a tax (based on the 'how dare you have a house' mentality) that is borne largely by the rich. As from January 1st next, the tdh will be no more.
Within eighteen months, however, the other local tax that every paysan must pay '' the fonci¨re '' doubled in price. The President giveth, and the President taketh away.
Just over a year ago, the old communal poubelle (litter bin and recycling site) installed new receptacles for food waste, and gave everyone a wireless key that would open the poubelles. Nobody in politics or the civil service thought too hard about where tourists would put their ordures: but I'm sure very few of you will find that even slightly surprising.
This is the key passage from a creepy letter I received last week:
'This year, you have made 39 visits with your key to the household waste bin'
The key, it seems, tracks the individual. It is a form of ID. For years I have been warning friends, ''One day there'll be a gizmo installed in the lavatory to record how often you shit''. Well, we're on the way there: now they know how often I go to dump my shit.
A lot of right-minded people, reading that, were equally shocked to hear that they'll have to pay '¬165 on top of the doubled fonci¨re '' which will 'give' them 26 poubelle visits, or once a fortnight. As a bloke living alone, I'm a relatively light user of the ordures bin, but even I needed 39 visits: the extra 13 visits will cost me a further '¬22. Most households make a weekly visit.
This year, the fonci¨re itself is set to rise again, so you don't need a degree in pure maths to work out that the real cost of the one remaining local tax has trebled. (France is, by the way, already the most heavily taxed nation in the European Union).
Ahaa, I hear you think, the obvious trick here is to chuck the key away and just dump it wherever the mood takes me'....for example, the Elys(C)e Palace. But no: returning to Manny's little billet doux de N¶el, we read:
'Even if you don't use the ordures bin, you must still pay for the service'
The Macron r(C)gime in general (and the Boy King in particular) seem to relish confrontation. Already up to its neck in trouble with the Gilets Jaunes and their fight against fiscal injustice, the France en Marche! boys and girls have now begun the same creeping State Pension game pioneered by all three main British Parties after 1996. This in turn has led to a General Strike that has so far lasted three weeks, and shows no sign of abating. The Paris he inherited is now swarming with riot cops, tanks and illegal immigrants.
In the three years since he took office, Macron has managed to insult the American President, the Italian People, everyone who voted for Brexit, and the British government for ''welching on its responsibilities''. When Spain began to take the brunt of more African migrants '' and knife crime trebled within seven months '' he dismissed the residents of Andalucia as ''hysterical racists''.
In a great show of enthusiasm for mass African migration, the President plonked a staggering 35,000 illegals into a camp in one of the parks in a particularly upmarket arondissement of the French capital. (Once the media got bored with the story, the camp was quietly and rapidly disbanded; nobody is very forthcoming about where the 35,000 went afterwards).
But positioned as he is '' a 'centrist' '' he remains secure in his belief that neither LePen nor the Left could possibly contemplate working together against him. I have no doubt at all that he will be returned to power the year after next.
Boris Johnson has, if you think about it, pulled off exactly the same stunt in the UK. Recognising this, Macron has no changed his tune, and is heaping praise upon the new British Prime Minister. Obviously, he recognises a kindred spirit.
France is changing, and not for the better. In 1960, as De Gaulle got into his considerable stride, there were 600,000 village restaurants in the countryside. Today, there are just 30,000: only five in a hundred have survived. Now, a non-Government organisation called SOS is trying to reverse the trend, but it will struggle, because the primary cause is rural depopulation.
For the metrochic Bobos happy to sing the President's praises, such a thing barely features on their citadin radar. And this has consequences that go well beyond their blas(C) voting behaviour. The overwhelming majority of professionals get their training at Universities in metropolitan areas '' and this is especially true of doctors. Very few young graduates see any future, stimulation, promotion or general quality of life in having a practice in the sticks. The result is that '' along with country life as a whole '' France en profonde is facing a massive socio-cultural crisis.
When I first bought Slogger's Roost in 1998, my nearest village had a butcher, a boulangerie, a pharmacy, a hairdresser, a Presse (newsagent), a dying restaurant and a small grocery shop. The nearest town had three boulangeries, three supermarkets, a thriving weekly market, two butchers, two hairdressers, three florists, four takeways, four restaurants, an undertaker and a bike shop. While my local village has been saved by an influx of euromigrants, we have no butcher, pharmacy or gp. The bigger town has been almost wiped out in terms of commerce, while the fruit and veg market gets smaller every year.
Until as recently as five years ago, however, one could normally get an appointment with a nearby gp within 48 hours. Now it can take over three weeks. My nearest (fairly young) doctor is exhausted by overwork. For while depopulation saw off the restaurants, foreign residents and an increasing number of French urbanites are buying older properties to restore in idyllic areas. They, in turn, are killing the doctors.
Politico-economic ideologues of every hue share one common point: they never think about where such trends will end up. When asked '' very occasionally '' what they feel about such things, they evade, they woffle, they smile'....and continue, undismayed.
Which might explain the bizarre news that, after a five-year battle, McDonalds finally got permission to open a ''McDo'' on the le d'Ol(C)ron, a tiny island just off La Rochelle in the Charente-Maritime. This is le d'Ol(C)ron:
Go figure. I'm damned if I can.
Former US rep's wife: If DOJ wants you to go to prison, you will go to prison | Opinion | LifeSite
December 24, 2019 (American Thinker) '-- The corrupt tactics played out before the House Intelligence Committee toward the impeachment of Donald Trump exemplify the Department of Justice (DOJ) prosecution of other political adversaries. Such prosecutorial abuse escalated within federal law enforcement and was rewarded during the Obama administration, but it continues today.
Conservative talk show hosts frequently say corruption in federal law enforcement is "just at the top; we're not talking about the rank and file of these agencies."
But Representative Adam Schiff, Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, was a low-level federal prosecutor in the late '80s and early '90s. Robert Mueller was with DOJ during the same period. Peter Strzok joined the FBI in the '90s. Do we really believe that members of the law enforcement community arrive at the top and then become corrupt?
No. Skills of tampering with evidence to hide or alter it, fabricating false narratives, and controlling what information comes out in trials '-- or House hearings '-- are well honed at lower levels of these agencies. They're rewarded with promotions, as former federal prosecutor Sidney Powell documented in her book Licensed to Lie.
Indeed, abuses proliferated in House impeachment hearings and documented by the Office of Inspector General report demonstrate a crooked pursuit of a fabricated case against President Donald Trump. The House Judiciary Committee's impeachment report charges the president with, among other things, wire fraud '-- one of DOJ's favorite "go to" charges, along with other types of fraud.
Similar corrupt tactics have been quietly executed for years against untold numbers of "enemies" of the establishment.
Few prominent Democrats have been pursued by DOJ, but they've locked up numerous Republican officeholders or their supporters.
The miscarriage of justice in the case of my husband, former representative Steve Stockman, is one prime example. Before looking at prosecutors' tactics, it should be noted that Stockman aggressively blocked the Obama agenda and publicly exposed administration corruptions.
For example, Stockman was first to reveal President Obama's paying millions in ransom to Haqqani terrorists, the most radical wing of the Taliban, for the release of Bowe Bergdahl. He was the U.S. soldier taken captive when he deserted his Army post in Afghanistan.
Stockman blew the whistle on Clinton's State Department allowing the sale of dual-use steel to Iran by a Ukrainian oligarch''owned company, in violation of U.S. Iran sanctions. The oligarch was coincidentally the largest 2013 Clinton Foundation donor.
Shaking the Obama administration again, Stockman filed a resolution requesting the arrest of Lois Lerner for her contempt of Congress when she destroyed subpoenaed evidence and refused to appear before a House Committee investigating IRS persecution of conservative non-profit organizations.
Stockman's persistent voice of opposition and exposure of corruptions had to be silenced. His service on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, broad travels, and international relationships further required muzzling his whistleblowing.
Two weeks after my husband appeared on the Fox News and Fox Business channels to discuss his proposed arrest of Lerner, the FBI was at our apartment door.
Interestingly, but not surprisingly, the IRS non-profit division formerly led by Lerner played an integral role in Stockman's prosecution. So flimsy was the government's case that the DOJ spent millions of dollars, four years (nearly twice as long as spent investigating President Trump), and four grand juries to indict Stockman.
His case included money-laundering for such things as a move of funds from a checking to a savings account '-- something most Americans do in their own bank accounts.
Attorney Sidney Powell described Stockman's case as the prosecutors' effort to create precedent that they could follow to go after the Trump Foundation.
Indeed, the prosecutor even acknowledged to the Court of Appeals that there is not one criminal precedent for one of the campaign finance''related charges of which Stockman was convicted.
The practices employed by DOJ included pursuit and possibly wrongful surveillance of Stockman even as he was a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee. The government controlled what could even be mentioned in trial. The federal court denied all but two of Stockman's witnesses, saying others' testimony would be irrelevant, though they would have directly refuted a lot of prosecutor-led testimony that, as couched, demeaned Stockman's character.
Prosecutors asked a non-profit donor supposedly defrauded by Stockman the hypothetical question of whether he would have given, if he "had known that Mr. Stockman was going to spend his donations" for "personal gain," a strictly government-fabricated narrative. The donor's obvious "no" to this twisted leading question was cited by the prosecutor to the appeals court as evidence of Stockman's fraud.
We have learned that witnesses in my husband's case were pressured into misleading testimonies with partial truths presented to create wrongful impressions in the jury. The court strictly instructed one of the government's own key witnesses not to give any context for, or elaboration of, his answers before the jury. This same government witness later said Stockman's was a Soviet-style "show trial."
Stockman's lack of funds for an aggressive defense, combined with the sort of corrupt government tactics on display by Adam Schiff in the House of Representatives, resulted in guilty verdicts by Stockman's jury. Most assuredly to quiet his voice, prosecutors asked the court to immediately imprison Stockman '-- a full seven months before he was even sentenced.
Even Bill Cosby, who was convicted of physically and sexually assaulting young women, was allowed to remain free pending sentencing. Not so for nonviolent Stockman; his outspokenness was more of a threat to the establishment. He was sentenced to an egregious ten years in prison, with a $1.25-million restitution, even though a 2016 study reported that the average sentence for federal public corruption was just 13 months.
Appearing on Bill Martinez Live November 22, 2018, Powell told the listening audience:
[I]f the government wants to put you in prison, you will go to prison. It doesn't matter whether you are innocent or not. They will make up crimes against you; they will indict you; they will search your house; they are willing to make up evidence; they're willing to put pressure on witnesses to get them to say whatever they want them to say; anything.
Or download full interview.
[T]hey will do anything to get you put into prison. We live in far more of a police state than anybody ever wanted to think. Look at what has happened to Congressman Steve Stockman.
No. The corruption is not just "at the top." While certainly there are some unbiased employees, from the working-level prosecutor through the federal bench, the Justice Department stacks the deck against its prey and has increasingly used corrupt tactics to lock up and silence those who buck the status quo. My husband is one of many unjustly targeted by a corrupt judicial system.
Patti Stockman has been married to Steve for 31 years, is a conservative activist in her own right, and partnered alongside him in all his political endeavors. She has her own professional career, having worked for NASA 35 years. For more information on her husband's case, visit www.DefendAPatriot.com.
Published with permission from the American Thinker.
New York to Allow Accused Criminals to Inspect Own Crime Scenes
The state of New York will soon allow accused criminals to inspect their own crime scenes and will quickly provide them with a complete list of named witnesses testifying against them as part of a series of new jailbreak laws.
As Breitbart News reported, New York's bail reforms, set to go into effect January 2020, will ensure that suspects accused of crimes deemed ''non-violent'' are not jailed before their trial dates and do not have to post bail. Instead, these suspects are released directly back into the public and expected to show up for their court dates. Roughly 125,000 accused criminals are expected to be released from prison every year in the state.
Those so-called non-violent crimes include second-degree manslaughter, aggravated vehicular assault, promoting an obscene sexual performance by a child, possessing an obscene sexual performance by a child, criminally negligent homicide, and aggravated vehicular homicide.
As part of the measure, defendants will have new privileges in their criminal trials '-- including being allowed to inspect their own crime scenes. For example, if an individual is charged with home burglary, the suspect will be allowed to return to the victim's home and inspect their property as part of their defense.
''It really boggles the mind that this is a reality for us now,'' Lt. Steven Stockdale of the Warren County Sheriff's Office told CBS 6 Albany in October of the provision. ''Talk about re-victimization.''
Another portion of the law will more quickly give defendants a full list of named witnesses testifying against them in the criminal trial. Starting in January, the prosecution will be forced to hand over to defendants a list of named witnesses within 15 days of the defendants' arraignment.
In June, the Manhattan Institute's Seth Barron and Ralf Mangual wrote that such a provision will make it impossible for prosecutors to ensure witnesses are protected through the criminal trial process:
Prosecutors will no longer be able to assure witnesses that their identity will be protected, even in the case of grand jury testimony, which the new law will now require be disclosed. (While there's a provision to ask a judge for a protective order to shield a name, that would come after cops and prosecutors talk to witnesses to make an arrest and build a case.) [Emphasis added]
Manhattan DA Cy Vance put it this way: ''Having to hand defendants a roster of who has spoken out against them just 15 days after their first appearance, absent a protective order, is a seismic change that undoubtedly will dissuade witnesses who live in all neighborhoods from reporting crime.'' [Emphasis added]
Manhattan's District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., and Brooklyn DA Eric Gonzalez are just two of New York's district attorneys, as well as law enforcement officials, who have spoken out against the bail reform plans. Both are progressive Democrats.
Across the county, jailbreak legislation is helping to free thousands of accused and convicted criminals from prison. Federally, the First Step Act that was signed into law by President Trump has thus far freed about 240 sex offenders, nearly 60 convicted murderers and assailants, as well as almost 1,000 inmates convicted of drug crimes.
Also freed by the First Step Act is Joel Francisco, a notorious former leader of the ''Latin Kings'' gang who immediately returned to a life of drugs after his release and is now accused of murder.
John Binder is a reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter at @JxhnBinder.
Greece to Pay $280 Mln to Lockheed Martin for Modernisation of F-16 Warplanes '' Report
Military & Intelligence17:37 28.12.2019(updated 17:39 28.12.2019) Get short URL
In early October, the US and Greece signed a revised defence cooperation pact, described by the American side as critical to responding to new security challenges in the Mediterranean Sea.
Athens has clinched a $279.7 million deal with the American aerospace giant Lockheed Martin on the for the modernisation of a Greek fleet of US-made F-16 fighter jets.
The Athens-Macedonia news agency reported on Friday that the agreement was inked after the sides finalised details on Lockheed's use of a Greek subcontractor. Lockheed Martin has yet to comment on the matter.The reported signing comes after Defence Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos told the parliament earlier this month that 84 of 150 F-16 fighters from the Greek air force would be upgraded to the advanced Viper class by 2027.
The AP reported that the upgrade program's total coast stands at a whopping $1.5 billion.
Revised US-Greek Defence Cooperation DealThe development followed a revised Athens-Washington defence cooperation agreement being put forward before the Greek parliament for approval on Wednesday.
If ratified, the agreement will expand US Naval Support Activity at Souda Bay base, located on the island of Crete, and essentially allow the US military to use all Greek military facilities.
In particular, the document stipulates that the deployment of US forces to Greece's Larissa Air Base, the Greek Army Air Base at Stefanovikio and the port of Alexandroupoli.The revised agreement was signed on 5 October during US State Secretary Mike Pompeo's visit to Athens. Apparently referring to the eastern Mediterranean, Pompeo told Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis that ''Greece can play an important strategic role here in the region.''
''This is a dynamic region, with lots going on, lots of change taking place, and we are very confident that together, we can work to ensure that Greece can be a pillar for stability in this region'', Pompeo said.Mitsotakis , for his part, noted that the updated agreement came amid Turkey's gas drilling in the eastern Mediterranean that ''questions the sovereign rights of Greece and Cyprus, violating international law''.
Earlier, Egypt, Cyprus and Greece urged Turkey to abandon the drilling off north Cyprus after Ankara announced that it had sent its second drillship to an area where the Greek Cypriot authorities had already awarded exploration rights to European companies.
Nicosia said in a statement that Turkey continues "to blatantly violate international law" and disregards calls from the EU and the international community to cease its "illegal activities" in Cyprus' Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), claims that were rejected by Ankara.
Japan's Indo-Pacific Strategy: Shaping a Hybrid Regional Order - War on the Rocks
What does Japan want in the Indo-Pacific? It can be tough to tell, because at the moment, Tokyo seems to be pursuing incompatible aims. Japan is trying to check China geopolitically while deepening economic engagement. At the same time, it wants to deepen its strategic coordination with its closest security partners '-- the United States, Australia, and India '-- through the Quad, and it also wants to ensure the participation of a maximum number of countries in its Free and Open Indo-Pacific initiative.
Japan's approach in the Indo-Pacific thus ultimately aims at ensuring its strategic autonomy by shaping a favorable regional environment and expanding its diplomatic and security options. This requires a pragmatic approach. While Japan's priorities are set by China and the United States, Tokyo's strategy in the Indo-Pacific is necessarily multilayered, from ''minilateral'' cooperation to a recent emphasis on more multilateral and inclusive initiatives. Japan's mixed Indo-Pacific approach thus articulates the Free and Open Indo-Pacific strategy and the Quadrilateral Dialogue with a support for mega trade deals and regional organizations led by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), as well as conditional engagement with China. It offers in many ways a preview of the future hybrid regional order in the Indo-Pacific, likely to accommodate a flurry of diversified cooperation formats in a context of growing bipolarization.
Japan's Strategic Challenges
Hedging against China and keeping the United States engaged in Asia are the key tenets of Japanese strategy. Coping with the rise of China has been the strategic priority of Japan at least since the 2000s. This priority structures Tokyo's diplomacy and defense policy. Indeed, China's maritime expansion directly threatens Japanese interests in the East China Sea, with repeated intrusions into Japan's territorial waters around the Senkaku Islands, claimed by China under the name ''Diaoyu Islands.'' In the South China Sea, Beijing's extensive claims and militarization of islets are perceived as dangerously undermining the rule of law and freedom of navigation. Finally, China is considered as a revisionist power, challenging the post-1945 world order to impose its own standards (through its Belt and Road Initiative, among other schemes).
In response, Japan is implementing a strategy of hedging, with important counterbalancing elements. Internal counterbalancing is achieved through the strengthening of its defense capabilities. External counterbalancing centers on deepening of its alliance with the United States and the expansion of its strategic partnerships. The diversification of its strategic partners first allows Japan to strengthen its hand vis- -vis China. It also aims to support the maintenance of a multipolar Asia and the balance of power in order to prevent Chinese hegemony. Promoting coordination between partners like Australia and India, and helping Southeast Asian countries to strengthen their maritime capabilities, should help to build up resilience in front of Beijing. Tokyo also strives to ensure functional cooperation with China through a focus on economic cooperation and a commitment to the region's multilateral institutions.
A second key strategic Japanese objective is to keep the United States engaged in Asia. Indeed, the strengthening of the alliance (to dissuade China) and the maintenance of an international order based on rule of law, free trade, and multilateralism (to shape or constrain China's attitude) are considered in Tokyo as the only option to ensure its strategic autonomy. President Donald Trump's chaotic style has only reinforced Japanese concerns about the credibility of the U.S. military commitment to Asian stability and to Japan's defense. Tokyo is thus seeking to build a network of U.S. allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific, both to strengthen the current alliance system but also to prevent a U.S. withdrawal. The diversification of its security partners thus allows Japan to guard against a possible U.S. strategic retreat and provides it with a means to eventually influence U.S. decisions. Indeed, Tokyo has been more proactive in defending its own interests and shaping America's views and deeds in the region. In the longer term, these partnerships may also offer an option for Tokyo to become more autonomous from the United States.
While pursuing these two core strategic objectives, Japan also wants to be acknowledged as a key stakeholder in the Indo-Pacific. To achieve that, it needs to actively contribute to the build-up of the coming regional order by positioning itself as a central player able to provide public goods and help manage both soft and hard security matters in the area.
Japan in a Hybrid Regional Order
The sheer scale of transnational issues that need to be managed in the Indo-Pacific (environmental issues such as the depletion of resources and climate change, natural disasters, maritime security, terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, cybersecurity, migration) requires multilateral cooperation. At the same time, the growing rivalry between Washington and Beijing seems to point toward an increasing bipolarization of the region (if not a new type of Cold War), with a partial decoupling that has already started in the economic and digital sectors. Several countries, reluctant to choose a side, have aired their concerns and proposed a third way out of a competition. ASEAN has recently issued a consensual statement on its Indo-Pacific outlook, and France is running its own Indo-Pacific strategy aiming to mitigate the negative effects of the Sino-American competition.
As a result, the Indo-Pacific region in the future will consist of a set of complex, fluid, and multilayered features. The Sino-American rivalry will provide a broad structure under which third countries will navigate to garner the benefits and hedge against risks. We are thus likely to see more cooperation develop on a case-by-case basis to tackle specific issues. These ad hoc, inclusive coalitions are already emerging at the international level in the forms of the International Solar Alliance or the Alliance for Multilateralism. On the security front, America's growing reluctance to commit to its alliances will lead to coalitions and partnerships of a ''conditional, task-oriented and transient nature.'' The Quad, for example, was originally derived from the experience of the four countries gathering as the ''Core Group'' to lead the disaster-relief operations in the wake of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.
These flexible frameworks would allow the participation of China, the United States, both of them, or neither of them, depending on the issue tackled. It would create some breathing room for countries that do not want to be pressured to pick a side and empower the middle powers that will have greater responsibility to build up synergies to allow for legitimate and concrete actions.
In this regard, Japan has a card to play. Very often considered a follower of the United States in diplomatic affairs, Tokyo has been actually adopting a more proactive stance to defend its own interests, even if these are not aligned with those of its ally. Just think about the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, Japan's relations with Russia, or Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit to Iran. The new configuration is an opportunity for Japan to play a greater role to shape the regional and international order. Tokyo has already started to adopt a balanced strategy that navigates between multilateral and inclusive initiatives and minilateral partnerships.
Don't Conflate the Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy and the Quad
Japan's approach toward the Indo-Pacific rests on two elements. The first is the Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP) strategy, announced in Kenya in August 2016. An updated, maritime version of the 2007 Arc of Freedom and Prosperity, FOIP takes stock of the economic and strategic integration of the vast area running from the eastern coast of Africa to the South Pacific. Japan's vision for the region has three pillars: the promotion of the rule of law, freedom of navigation, and free trade; the promotion of connectivity through infrastructure to achieve prosperity; and the contribution to peace and security through capacity-building, humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, and anti-piracy operations. Importantly, FOIP is a flexible and evolutionary geopolitical narrative that offers an alternative to the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
At the very least, FOIP must provide an alternative choice to countries in the region to broaden their options and to prevent their being locked into a face-off with Beijing. The 2015 Partnership for Quality Infrastructure thus provides $110 billion to be allocated, in cooperation with the Asian Development Bank and over a period of five years, to infrastructure building in Asia. In 2016, the Expanded Partnership for Quality Infrastructure provided $200 billion for financing infrastructure worldwide. While it is impossible for Japan to compete with China on the size of investments, Tokyo is betting on the quality of its offer, and its merits in terms of transparency, ethics, and compliance with social and environmental standards. As a result, FOIP should also build the resilience of the recipient countries and their ability to withstand some Chinese demands that could run counter to their or Japan's interests (restricted access to ports or special economic zones, for example).
As a result, FOIP has a dual nature. As a geo-economic initiative, it is clearly meant to include as many countries as possible in the area and be presented as a public good. However, as a geostrategic alternative to BRI and part of a counterbalancing approach vis- -vis China, it is not really compatible with a truly multilateral and inclusive approach.
The second element of Japan's strategy is the Quad '-- an informal arrangement between Japan, Australia, India, and the United States. Revived in 2017 on the initiative of the Abe administration, it has been largely conflated with the broader FOIP strategy, though it has a different nature. The Quad is undoubtedly a clearly exclusive and minilateral group of like-minded partners that gathers to discuss and hopefully coordinate on Indo-Pacific affairs. This grouping is partly a result of Japan's diversification and networking of its security partnerships since 2007. It also derives from Abe's desire to set up a security diamond between the regional maritime democracies to promote freedom of navigation and check Chinese expansion. The Quad has proved not to be an easy format for cooperation. The Quad 1.0, back in 2007, was abandoned because of concerns it was too provocative vis- -vis China, which labeled it an ''Asian NATO.'' The latest version of the Quad (or Quad 2.0), by contrast, has not raised heated protestation from Beijing, because Beijing seems to correctly assess that the four partners have clear differences in their perception of China and have different visions for the future regional order. The absence of a joint statement and the failure to operationalize the Quad suggest that its framework might be a limited concept for advancing security cooperation, rather than an empowering one.
The conflation of the minilateral Quad with FOIP adds confusion about the real nature of Japan's FOIP, especially as Japanese diplomacy is underlining the ''comprehensive, inclusive and transparent'' features of the initiative.
An Aspirational Multilateralism Balanced by a Minilateral Necessity
Japan's broad Indo-Pacific approach relies on multilateralism to shape China's choices when possible, and increasingly, to try to influence a more unilateralist United States. Accordingly, Japan has pushed for the adoption by the G-20 of a set of norms regarding quality infrastructure '-- a move that would have direct implications for Chinese BRI's implementation. Tokyo also took the lead to keep the Trans-Pacific Partnership alive after the U.S. withdrawal. Together with the E.U.-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement concluded in December 2018, the newly renamed Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership set ambitious labor, environmental, and other trade-related standards, in the hopes of encouraging both the United States and China to align on them.
Also, since 2018, the priority for Japan is to have ASEAN countries join the Free and Open Indo-Pacific to ensure its success. As Southeast Asian countries do not want to choose sides between China and the United States, the Japanese geopolitical rhetoric on FOIP has been softened. The ''strategy'' has been transformed into a milder-sounding ''vision,'' or a ''concept.''. The emphasis is now put on ASEAN centrality, and the inclusive nature of FOIP is clearly underlined. Similarly, the importance of sharing democratic values is now downplayed to accommodate countries like Thailand, Vietnam, and Myanmar. The focus is put on the respect for rule of law at the international level rather than on the domestic front.
Moreover, Japan has a strong record in engaging with regional ASEAN-led multilateral organizations, enhancing its credibility. For example, Japan has been supporting ASEAN's cybersecurity abilities with the launching of the Bangkok-based ASEAN-Japan Cybersecurity Capacity Building Centre in September 2018. The multilateral approach is paying off. According to one recent survey, Japan is the most trusted country by opinion leaders in ASEAN.
But the consensus-driven nature of ASEAN limits its mandate to soft power issues. ASEAN-led institutions will not be relevant to address hard security challenges and cooperation. That's why it makes sense for Japan to keep developing a minilateral network of strategic partners. Working on a web of partners will help to counterbalance China, keep the United States engaged in the region, and promote a division of labor in the large Indo-Pacific area according to the respective capabilities and interests of each player. This will not only be about Quad partners: A recent joint sailing event, for example, gathered ships from Japan, France, the United States, and the Philippines in the South China Sea.
A Greater Focus on Conditional Engagement with China
As the United States embraces unilateralism and the Sino-American rivalry intensifies, Tokyo is adjusting its posture to maintain its strategic autonomy. Japan is no doubt siding with the United States, primarily because it considers its security alliance with Washington as vital to deter and counter security threats posed by China's rise. Nevertheless, the Trump administration's withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, its transactional approach to negotiating a bilateral trade deal, and the launching of a de facto trade war with Beijing are not in Japan's interests. Therefore, Tokyo has started to promote conditional engagement with a more accommodative Beijing.
In October 2018, Abe, meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing, announced a new era of bilateral relations, evolving from competition to collaboration. Together, the two countries have promoted economic cooperation in third countries, with 52 infrastructure projects identified for joint development. Japan's conditional support for BRI opened the way for such progress '-- Tokyo would consider backing BRI projects if lending practices match international standards, the economic viability of the projects is ensured, and the openness of the funded infrastructure is guaranteed. This move aims at promoting healthy and functional economic engagement that would not be contaminated by fraught political relations. Tokyo also hopes its participation, even symbolic, will contribute to shape to a certain extent the way China is implementing BRI.
Japan is walking a fine line by trying to develop functional security cooperation with China. The two countries set up in May 2018 a Maritime and Aerial Communication Mechanism to prevent incidents in the East China Sea, even if they remain at odds on the status of the Senkaku Islands, and as China has been stepping up its maritime incursions in Japanese waters. Tokyo also reportedly proposed to Beijing that they establish a ''two plus two'' meeting between their foreign and defense ministers as a means to deepen mutual trust. Recently, Japan and China conducted their first goodwill drill in eight years to demonstrate efforts toward confidence-building.
Japan's attempt to reconcile, within its Indo-Pacific approach, conditional engagement with a counterbalancing and deterring posture vis- -vis China is not without contradictions. In particular, if Tokyo has long experienced ''hot economics, cold politics'' in its relations with Beijing, the weaponization of economic interdependence and the security implications of new technologies are putting this paradigm under stress. At the end of the day, reaching a modus vivendi with Beijing is a precondition to remain a key stakeholder in the future regional order.
Going ahead with a carefully balanced Indo-Pacific strategy will not be easy. It will require Japan to more clearly define its national interests, set priorities, and cultivate partners. An open conflict between Beijing and Washington would jeopardize these efforts, and thus the first task for Tokyo is to maintain an approach centered on confidence-building, accommodation, and engagement vis- -vis the two superpowers.
In the Indo-Pacific, Japan wants to keep its options open. Doing so gives Tokyo freedom to maneuver whether a ''cold war'' develops between Washington and Beijing, or the two powers clash. This strategy allows for a certain flexibility and should be maintained, unless some major changes in the strategic environment happen. A total retreat of the United States from Asian affairs or a grand bargain between Washington and Beijing over Japan's national interests would question this paradigm. On the domestic front, Abe is set to leave the stage in the coming years. The advent of a less charismatic and determined leader could undermine Japan's capacity to act in a proactive manner on the regional and international scene. To maintain its strategic autonomy as much as possible, Japan has to keep close but candid relations with its U.S. ally, stay firm with China while offering room for cooperation, and avoid isolation by putting itself at the center of a network of partners stretching from Australia to India, Southeast Asian countries to Britain and France.
Celine Pajon is Head of Japan Research at the Center for Asian Studies of the French Institute of International Relations (IFRI), Paris. She analyses Japan's foreign and defense policy, as well as geostrategic dynamics of the Indo-Pacific area.
Image: White House (Photo by Shealah Craighead)
Joint drills show strengthened multi-polar world: Russian official
MNA '' The ongoing naval drills between Iran, Russia and China in the Indian Ocean once and the Sea of Oman once again proved the formation of a multi-polar world, said the president of the Talysh Diaspora of Russia, a member of Russian Council on inter-ethnic relations Ismail Shabanov.
Shabanov told IRNA on Saturday that the trilateral drills show that the international system no longer believes in unilateral system dictated by the US.
In fact, the joint military drill was a response to the US and NATO's security challenge, he said, adding that the US and the West are the root cause of instability in the Middle East.
Leaders of the three countries are aware of the fact that preserving peace and stability in the region depends on measures made by them.
He reiterated that Iran, Russia and China are three key powers in the region.
Holding the military drills is the start of security and military cooperation and is important for the future of the region and the world against tensions created by terrorism and NATO.
Stressing the importance of holding such drills, he said maintaining cooperation between military systems of Russia, Iran and China for preserving stability in the world is of prime importance.
There's a major banking crisis unfolding in China, by Tim Staermose
For 2020, three contestants are at the starting line in the race to see what initiates a global credit crisis: European banks, the repo market, or Chinese banks. From Tim Staermose at sovereignman.com:
[Editor's note: This letter was written by Tim Staermose, Sovereign Man's Chief Investment Strategist]
The Chinese government isn't exactly famous for its honesty and transparency.
So when the Chinese regulators are starting to openly report trouble in their banking system, it's time to take notice.
According to the People's Bank of China (PBOC)'s ''2019 China Financial Stability Report,'' 586 out of 4,379 Chinese lenders were officially deemed to be ''high risk''.
But that overall figure, bad as it is, may be masking the true extent of the problem.
According to the same report, over one third of rural lenders are deemed to be ''high risk.'' One in three banks in rural China. Hmmm.
And this lack of confidence is beginning to cause bank runs.
Yingkou Bank in Liaoning Province, and Yichuan Rural Commercial Bank in Henan Province, both faced bank runs in early November.
In May, the government took over troubled Baoshang Bank in Inner Mongolia '' the first such government intervention to nationalize a private Chinese financial institution in more than 20 years.
A joint bailout by three state-owned financial institutions was also organized for the Bank of Jinzhou in July.
And just recently, the government put together a consortium to bail out Hengfeng Bank in Shandong Province.
It was this latest bailout that put the issue of non-performing loans and bad debts in China's banking system firmly back on our radar.
The Hengfeng bailout is particularly interesting because:
Hengfeng Bank has failed to file its financial statements since 2016; and,The bank's past two chairmen were each separately investigated and charged with corruption'... the first in 2014, the second in 2017.All told, the Hengfeng Bank bailout is $14 billion US dollars. That's just for one small regional Chinese lender.
According to the regulator's own report, there are another 585 institutions in addition to Hengfeng that are ''high risk''. So it's possible the size of this problem could easily go into the TRILLIONS of dollars.
The Chinese banking system at present completely dwarfs banking systems everywhere else in the world, including in the United States.
The total size of China's banking system has now reached roughly $40 trillion. That's more than TWICE the size of the US banking system, according to data from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
But perhaps even more importantly, China's vast banking system is more than three times the size of its entire economy.
So if just a small percentage of the Chinese banking system requires a bailout, the knock-on economic effects will be several times greater.
The government is already telling us that a significant percentage of Chinese banks are 'high risk'. And we've seen numerous instances of bailouts already.
But what we've seen thus far may just be the proverbial tip of the iceberg.
If just 5% of the Chinese banking system requires a bailout, for example, that's the equivalent of nearly 20% of GDP.
20% of GDP is an impossible bailout for anyone, even China.
China remains an important engine of global growth. And any large-scale economic disruption due to a banking crisis in China is almost certain to tip the while world into recession.
We'll definitely keep watching this in 2020; it's easy to think that something on the other side of the planet doesn't really matter'... but this is far too big to ignore.
Tasnim '' There is no place for American forces in the region anymore, Iranian Navy Commander Rear Admiral Hossein Khanzadi said.
''Today, the era of American free action in the region is over, and they (US forces) must leave the region gradually,'' Rear Admiral Khanzadi told reporters on Sunday on the sidelines of a joint naval exercise of Iran, Russia and China, which is underway in the Sea of Oman and the northern parts of the Indian Ocean.
''We believe that regional security does not require the presence of those (foreign) countries, and that regional countries themselves can ensure security together,'' he added.
The Iranian Navy commander also expressed hope that more regional states would join Iran in the efforts to ensure security.
He went on to say that friends of Iran and those favoring regional security have welcomed the joint naval drill, while the US and its proxies who seek to impose inappropriate security arrangements on the region would receive ''significant messages'' from the war game.
Iran, Russia and China are holding a four-day joint naval exercise, dubbed Marine Security Belt, in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Oman.
The war game comes amid US efforts to woo countries into a maritime coalition for patrols in the Persian Gulf, which have received lukewarm welcome from its allies.
Green New Deal
Progressive professor: To address climate change, we must 'seriously question' private property ownership
To combat California wildfires allegedly caused by climate change, a writer at the progressive magazine The Nation is calling upon Americans to rethink the "seriously question the ideal of private homeownership."
"Yes, climate change intensifies the fires'--but the ways in which we plan and develop our cities makes them even more destructive," writes Kian Goh, an assistant professor of urban planning at UCLA.
Aspirations of homeownership are "reinforcing" California wildfire conditionsThe writer says that Americans' "aspirations of home ownership" and "belief in the importance of private property" could be "reinforcing" the conditions that result in wildfires.
"Our ideas about what success, comfort, home, and family should look like are so ingrained, it's hard for us to see how they could be reinforcing the very conditions that put us at such grave risk," he wrote.
Goh added that to "engage with these challenges, we need to do more than upgrade the powerlines or stage a public takeover of the utility companies." Here comes the kicker: "We need to rethink the ideologies that govern how we plan and build our homes."
What "ideologies" is Goh referencing? Economic freedom, obviously.
Rental housing, government programs, and co-op apartmentsGoh's alternative to homeownership reads like a list of bad left-wing public policy ideas and economic fantasies. He writes:
There are other options, in theory: Rental housing serves many cities around the world well, although we should be wary about perpetuating the power of landlords in this country without delinking ownership from wealth creation. There has been resurgent interest in government-planned and -built public housing, including recent legislation proposed by Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Bernie Sanders that would shore up and invigorate the federal system. The Green New Deal invokes prior eras of government intervention, lending itself to revitalized thinking about the social value of public goods. There is also the potential for new or reconstituted forms of cooperative housing. In New York City, cooperative apartment buildings have long been a norm.He's not the first progressive whose public policy proposals to tackle climate change go well beyond the fields of science and energy.
As TheBlaze has reported, in an op-ed published last month, climate activist Greta Thunberg called for overhauling everything, including "colonial, racist, and patriarchal systems of oppression" to mitigating the rise in global temperatures.
Similarly, to curb fires in southern California, Goh maintains that humans need "another kind of escape route'--away from our ideologies of ownership and property..."
Australia fires: Thousands told to evacuate in Victoria
Image copyright PA Media Image caption More than 100 fires continue to burn across Australia Tens of thousands of residents and holidaymakers in the Australian state of Victoria have been told to evacuate amid worsening bushfire conditions.
Temperatures of over 40C (104F), strong winds, thunderstorms and a change of wind direction meant Monday would be a day of extreme danger, officials said.
Emergencies chief Andrew Crisp said those in the East Gippsland area should leave no later than Monday morning.
More than 100 fires are continuing to burn across Australia.
The biggest are raging near the city of Sydney in New South Wales, where more than a quarter of a million people have signed a petition calling for the New Year's Eve fireworks to be cancelled and the money spent on fighting fires.
Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media caption Volunteer firefighters talk about compensation payments controversyWhat are the risks in Victoria?In East Gippsland, three fires burning near the towns of Bruthen, Buchan and Bonang were forecast to grow significantly.
Officials said they could burn towards the coast, potentially crossing and cutting off the region's main road.
Mr Crisp, Victoria's state emergency management commissioner, said anyone in the area to the east of Bairnsdale - about 280km (175 miles) east of Melbourne - should move.
"What we are saying now, based on the conditions that will be confronting us tomorrow across the state, but in particular in East Gippsland, is that if you're holidaying in that part of the state, it's time that you left," he said.
It was no longer possible to provide assistance to all the visitors in the East Gippsland region, emergency authorities said.
Extreme fire warnings were in place across most of Victoria. Any lightning strikes in dry, drought-affected forests had the potential to quickly become fires that threaten lives and homes, officials said.
A major music festival in the state has also been cancelled, with organisers saying it was too dangerous for the popular Falls New Year's Eve festival in Lorne, about 140km east of Melbourne, to go ahead.
Some 9,000 people were already camping on the festival site, which is accessed by a single track, meaning that it would not be possible for festivalgoers to evacuate quickly in an emergency.
"We are gutted to make this call but the safety of our patrons, artists and staff is our main priority," said organiser Jessica Ducrou.
What about New South Wales?Temperatures are also expected to pass 40C in other bushfire-affected states including New South Wales and South Australia.
New South Wales is the worst-affected state, with nearly 100 fires burning. Conditions there were expected to worsen into Tuesday.
Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media caption The shocking aftermath of the bushfires in Balmoral -the town almost razed to the ground"We've got some deteriorating weather conditions over the coming days, particularly Monday and worsening through to Tuesday," said the NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner, Shane Fitzsimmons.
The town of Balmoral, south-west of Sydney, was largely destroyed on 22 December and major roads south of the city have been closed.
On Saturday Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that volunteer firefighters in New South Wales would get compensation for loss of earnings after spending time away from jobs to battle bushfires.
The fires have destroyed 4m hectares (9.9m acres) in five states since September. At least eight deaths have been linked to the fires.
Death Toll in Ursula Typhoon in Philippines Climbs to 41 People - Reports
MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The number of people killed in the Typhoon Ursula that hit popular tourist areas and remote villages across the central Philippines earlier in the week has risen to 41 people, ABS-CBN News broadcaster reported, citing the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.
Apart from those 41 killed, 28 people more were injured, and 12 people are reported missing, the ABS-CBN News broadcaster stated.
Previous reports indicated that 28 people were killed as a result of the typhoon.
The number of victims is the highest in Philippine Western Visayas administrative region, where 20 people were killed in the cyclone. It is followed by Eastern Visayas where the number of victims stands at 13, Mimaropa with 7 deaths and Central Visayas with one victim, the media said.
'Typhoon Ursula struck the central part of the Philippines on 24 December with heavy rains and winds. The typhoon damaged about 2,000 houses and 55 schools, while power was cut in 150 cities. Almost 44,000 people were evacuated due to the disaster.
Awkward: BBC Crew Flew to Interview Climate Brat Greta Thunberg | Watts Up With That?
The BBC has admitted their embarrassment at having to fly a reporter to see climate brat Greta Thunberg, because they didn't have time to travel by boat or train.
BBC put presenter on a plane to interview Greta Thunberg
PA MediaSun 29 Dec 2019 10.38 AEDT
Sarah Sands, editor of BBC Radio 4's Today programme, admits it 'felt awkward'
Putting a presenter on a flight to Sweden to meet climate activist Greta Thunberg ''felt awkward'', the editor of BBC Radio 4's Today programme has admitted.
The 16-year-old campaigner, who was a guest editor on a special edition of the show, avoids air travel because of its environmental impact.
The BBC sent presenter Mishal Husain on a return flight to Stockholm to interview her.
Programme editor Sarah Sands told the Sunday Times: ''We did discuss that among ourselves. It felt awkward but we did not have the time for trains or boats. ''
Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/dec/28/bbc-put-presenter-on-a-plane-to-interview-greta-thunbergI don't understand why the BBC feels so uncomfortable. Extinction Rebellion tells us it is OK for celebrities to fly, because they are trapped by the system. And Greta flew at least four boat crew across the Atlantic to help sail her non-recyclable plastic boat, to avoid a single transatlantic flight for herself.
So plenty of climate hypocrisy all around. I doubt the BBC's climate hypocrisy really stands out from everyone elses.
FBI Confirms Maxwell, Others Are Under Investigation For Epstein Ties | Zero Hedge
Sources inside the FBI have reportedly confirmed that the bureau is investigating British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell and several other unnamed persons suspected of helping multimillionaire pedophile Jeffrey Epstein recruit and exploit underage girls.
Maxwell, who reportedly dated Epstein in the early 1990s before settling in to a close friendship with the millionaire, has been MIA since Epstein's July arrest. Soon after, Epstein killed himself while awaiting trial in Manhattan's Metropolitan Correctional Center.
Though this is the first time the FBI has confirmed that it's actively investigating Maxwell, AG Bill Barr's insistence that the case would focus on those who enabled or abetted Epstein led many to suspect that Maxwell would be the next logical target.
That's because she has been accused in court filings of organizing a sex-trafficking ring that helped bring beautiful young girls to Epstein's expansive Manhattan townhouse.
Back in 2003, Epstein told a reporter with Vanity Fair that Maxwell was his "best friend."
Maxwell is the daughter of late British media magnate Robert Maxwell, who founded a publishing house and once owned a suit of tabloids, including the Daily Mirror.
It emerged after Robert Maxwell's mysterious death in 1991 that he had looted hundreds of millions of dollars from employee pension funds to prop up his crumbling business empire.
We have reported on several rumors regarding Maxwell's whereabouts, including one claiming that she was living in a tech CEO friend's multimillion-dollar oceanfront mansion.
But the CEO denied the reports and it's unclear now whether Maxwell was ever there. But Maxwell's friendship helped Epstein expand his circle of famous and powerful friends. She was his connection to Prince Andrew, who was snubbed by his own mother on Christmas thanks to the shame his involvement with Epstein has brought to the British royal family. Prince Andrew stepped down from public duties in November, and will likely live out the rest of his life in the shadows.
She also helped forge Epstein's connection with the Clinton's, and was in attendance at Chelsea Clinton's wedding.
Epstein and Maxwell at a party
Reuters' sources within the bureau declined to name any other suspects who are being "looked at" in the Epstein case other than Maxwell. However, they did stipulate that they have no plans to interview Prince Andrew at this time - though that could change.
Virginia Giuffre (previously named Virginia Roberts), one of Epstein's alleged victims, claimed in a civil lawsuit that Maxwell "recruited" her into Epstein's orbit, where she was forced to have sex with Epstein and his powerful friends, including Prince Andrew.
It's widely suspected that Epstein accumulated his wealth and powerful circle of friends thanks to his skill at blackmailing the rich and powerful after they had slept with a member of Epstein's coterie of underage girls.
Though if Epstein really did have a trove of kompromat on his friends and associates, where is it? And how was it hidden from public view for all of this time?
Jeffrey Epstein: Surveillance Video From First Suicide Attempt Missing - Rolling Stone
UPDATE: A day after prosecutors admitted that surveillance video from Jeffrey Epstein's first alleged suicide attempt was missing, the footage has been found. ''Earlier today, the government confirmed with MCC staff that the video was preserved by [Metropolitan Correctional Center] staff upon defense counsel's request,'' Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason Swergold told the judge, a day after stating it was likely the footage ''was not preserved,'' the Daily News reports. The contents of the found footage were not revealed.
Surveillance video footage from outside the prison cell where Jeffrey Epstein first attempted suicide is missing, prosecutors revealed Wednesday during a hearing involving the now-deceased multimillionaire sex offender's former cellmate.
Soon after the alleged July 23rd suicide attempt, the lawyers for Nick Tartaglione, an accused murderer and former New York City policeman who shared the cell with Epstein, sought to obtain a copy of the surveillance footage from outside the cell; Epstein had claimed that Tartaglione assaulted him, while Tartaglione said that he saved Epstein's life after the failed attempt.
However, the Daily News reports that the footage of the incident at the Metropolitan Correctional Center is missing, with Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason Swergold admitting that it's unclear where the surveillance footage is.
''It is, on the surface, troubling,'' Tartaglione's attorney, Bruce Barket, said at a hearing. ''I'll reserve judgment until I've found out more details.'' Tartaglione reportedly hoped to use the surveillance video and his saving of Epstein as evidence of his good character during his own trial; he is accused of killing four people during what was believed to be a drug deal gone wrong.
The missing surveillance footage is the latest inevitably conspiracy-fueling chapter in the aftermath of Epstein's August 10th death, which, despite a coroner ruling it a suicide, continues to be the subject of intense questioning on the internet, in the media, and in the White House.
Holland or the Netherlands? Dutch Government finally decides what it wants to be called | Newshub
The Dutch government will stop using the moniker Holland in favour of its official name the Netherlands.
From January, companies, embassies, ministries and universities will only be able to refer to the state using its legitimate title.
The NZ$312,348 rebrand is part of an update of the country's international image.
It will also include a logo that combines the initials NL with an orange tulip, the Netherlands' national flower.
The Netherlands Board of Tourism and Conventions previously used the symbol of a tulip and the word Holland.
Holland is not the official name of the entire country and refers to two of the 12 provinces, North Holland, which includes Amsterdam and Haarlem, and South
Holland, where The Hague, Rotterdam and Leiden are situated.
The tourism industry started promoting the nation using the nickname 25 years ago but now wants to present the commerce, science and politics of the whole country.
An unnamed spokesman for the foreign ministry told Efe: "It is a little strange to promote only a small part of the Netherlands abroad, that is, only Holland."
The change of image was part of a renewed tourism strategy that aims to put an end to large numbers of visitors on cheap flights, particularly to Amsterdam, and promote more sustainable and respectful travel.
Minister for Foreign Trade Sigrid Kaag said the new style will help show what the Netherlands has to offer visitors, whether they come to live, work or holiday.
She added that it can be used in different industries "from high tech to agrifood and from sport to culture".
Minister of Economic Affairs Eric Wiebes said the Netherlands has the most competitive economy in Europe and the fourth in the world and frequently presents innovative solutions to technical and social challenges.
The tourism board will also close its offices in Spain, Italy and Japan in the spring of 2020 in favour of countries that send larger numbers of recurring visitors, tourists and business travellers.
It said it expects the number of international visitors to reach 30 million in 2030, which will increase the pressure on the quality of life and the environment, and makes it necessary not only to promote the country, but also to emphasise a broad and sustainable development of the Netherlands.
California public schools can't suspend students for disobeying teachers, new law says | KRON4
The sparse expanses of Northeast Colorado have become ground zero for a bizarre mystery surrounding
sightings of nighttime coordinated flights of groups of drones. From roughly
7 pm to 10 pm every night last week, an estimated
17 drones with six-foot spans have flown "grid patterns" over Phillips County and near its border with neighboring Yuma County, according to Phillips County Sheriff Thomas Elliott. The drones operate at
a few hundred feet in the air and were brightly lit with strobing colored and white lights, leaving local residents and those driving through the area baffled.
The Denver Post was first to report on the string of strange sightings. Local law enforcement, the FAA, DEA, U.S. Army, and the Air Force have said they have no idea what these aircraft are or who they belong to.
The Denver Post writes:
The sheriff's office can't explain where the drones are coming from or who is flying them. The estimated size and number of drones makes it unlikely that they're being flown by hobbyists, Undersheriff William Myers said....
On Friday, Myers said he watched eight of the large drones flying along the Yuma County border near the intersection of U.S. 385 and County Road 54. At the same time, a single drone hovered about 25 miles away over the town of Paoli '-- it didn't move all night, just hovered over the town '-- and eight more drones flew over Haxtun, about 10 miles down the road from Paoli, Myers said.
"Overhead they were probably doing 30, 40 mph," he said. "They weren't racing or flying around with speed."
One resident who spotted a drone last week gave chase, Elliott said, driving behind it at about 50 mph, but lost the drone when he ran out of gas in Washington County.
The machines fly too high to be heard from the ground but can be seen by their strobing white lights along with red, blue and green lights, Myers said.
"The way Colorado law is written, none of the statutes fit for harassment or trespassing," Myers said. "Colorado hasn't gotten on board with identifying the airspace around your property as the actual premises, so we don't have anything we could charge."
The FAA does have rules for drones that weigh less than 55 pounds and requires such aircraft to be flown during daylight hours, within sight of the pilot, no higher than 400 feet above the ground, and not over people, among other rules. However, pilots can apply for and receive waivers from the FAA that exempts the pilots from many of those rules.
It's also not clear whether the drones over Phillips and Yuma counties would be governed by those regulations. A drone the size of the ones spotted over the counties likely would weigh more than 55 pounds, Moss said. That means the drone operator would be flying commercially and would likely need to be a "manned aviator" '-- an actual pilot, Moss said.
Elliott said Monday that the sheriff's office has received nine calls about the drones since last week. He said residents no longer need to call to report a simple sighting of the drones.
"We just want to know if one lands, if we can get our hands on it, or if they see someone operating them, that's what we're looking for now," he said. "We know they exist."
I think people will wonder why there is no video that we know of these sightings. Most amateur video shot of lights in the sky at night has very little value, but regardless, you have to remember that this is happening in
very sparsely populated areas after dark. If it was occurring near an urban area, I think the lack of video would be a bit troubling, but in this case, I don't find it to be, especially considering the level of law enforcement knowledge of these events.
People seeing lights in the sky that they don't understand the origin of happens often, but this case seems far more consistent over a short timespan than something that could be easily blown off. Once again, the fact that law enforcement is well aware of it and discussing it as fact is also telling. This all begs the question, what is going on in this remote section of Colorado?
Based strictly on the descriptions conveyed, it sounds like someone or some group is testing a broad-area surveillance capability with lower-end autonomous drones. This could include something as simple as having a group fly a series of planned routes and return with the information gathered via autopilot. By doing so, a group of small, relatively inexpensive drones can cover a large area quickly instead of single, far more expensive assets that could take more time and offer less redundancy. Such a capability could be used for search and rescue, mapping, and general intelligence gathering. This also doesn't require man-in-the-loop control that would necessitate line-of-sight connectivity. Still, it is really flat terrain with endless farmland in the area where the sightings occurred, which means line-of-sight connectivity could be maximized, especially with the help of a large aerial or small tower, but the grid pattern nature of these flights that the Sheriff describes point to a coordinated and automated flight plan for the drones.
The airspace where this is occurring is peculiarly desolate, as well, making it ideally suited for such a task, but the flights are not legally occurring, which makes the whole affair quite suspicious. The fact that the activity is happening after sundown is even more intriguing and adds to the notion that whoever is doing this knows it is outside the bounds of FAA regulations.
In addition, it would be very challenging to trace these aircraft back to their place of origin or point of flight termination. The drones could fly the majority of their missions with lights on and turn them off during launch and recovery. With very little ambient light, they would be all but undetectable to the naked eye. Also, remember that drones this size can takeoff from very small areas, so it's not like a runway is needed or anything like that. As such, they can originate from nearly anywhere.
(C) VFRMAP.COM This is basically the area where the sightings are occurring. It's largely uncontrolled airspace with a very sparse population.
(C) VFRMAP.COM Here you can see the relationship of the area of activity in relation to Denver and nearby Nebraska.
The reality is that an individual or small group with some resources can do this. It doesn't need to be a federal agency, the military, or some defense or aviation contractor. Although it all sounds relatively innocuous, it is possibly yet another sign of the potential threats small, commercially available unmanned aircraft pose. If the grid pattern reports are accurate and autonomous waypoint navigation is being used by these drones, it can be posited that similar basic concepts of operation were used in the game-changing attack on Saudi oil facilities in September. Furthermore, drones of this size can carry a relevant payload of deadly explosives instead of surveillance or electronic warfare gear. 17 drones flying at once that can surveil a broad area could be re-roled by a nefarious actor to strike 17 pinpoint fixed targets near-simultaneously, or swarm against a single high value one from multiple directions.
This is the same drum I have been beating for years, and eventually, this threat will materialize in the continental United States as it has overseas. With that in mind, this type of event '-- which we will only see more of in the future '-- shouldn't be treated as just some interesting curiosity. There is no need to panic, but the mystery behind these aircraft should be solved and whoever is doing it should receive some sort of penalty for executing these types of operations outside of FAA regulations, even if there isn't a dark agenda behind the activity.
Some will say this is an overreaction, but those are probably the same people that laughed when some of us started warning of the potential threat of small drones being used unlawfully and for very negative purposes years ago.
Regardless, a skyborne mystery is afoot in Colorado. It will be interesting to see if the flights continue and if the description of these sightings holds up.
We will keep you updated as we find out more about these strange events.
Update: 4:45pm PST '--
It is worth noting that not far where these drones were sighted, F.E. Warren Air Force Base's intercontinental ballistic missile fields begin. Roughly 30 miles northwest of Haxtun. It is something to at least keep in mind as the story unfolds.
Mystery drone sightings continue in Colorado, into Nebraska...'Weird and concerning'...
Mysterious drone sightings have been reported in three more rural counties in the northeast corner of Colorado and at least one county in Nebraska as local law enforcement officials and residents remain clueless as to what's flying above them at night.
RJ Sangosti, The Denver Post
Sheriffs in three more Colorado counties, including Sedgwick County, seen here in a 2014 photo, have received reports of clusters of mystery drones flying at night.The sheriffs of Lincoln, Washington and Sedgwick counties told The Denver Post on Friday that their offices have been getting calls this week about the unknown winged devices, days after initial reports out of Phillips and Yuma counties caused a national stir.
Local and national authorities say they have no idea who is operating the groups of large drones, reported to have 6-foot wingspans and spend the nighttime hours flying in grid-like patterns.
While the powers that be have no answers, the mystery aircraft have inspired a wide range of theories online. It has to be the work of a Mexican drug cartel, one commenter on The Post's website said. No, no '-- it's obviously aliens from a far-off galaxy, another replied. Perhaps it's the History Channel looking for lost cities, or ranchers trying to track their cows, others theorized.
Thus far, however, all anyone can do is guess.
Sedgwick County Sheriff Carlton Britton said residents have been calling his office consistently since Dec. 17, reporting six to 10 drones at a time. The calls mirror those in Phillips County: The clusters of drones hover or cruise through the area between 7 and 10 p.m., flying several hundred feet in the air.
Britton said he has seen them himself '-- lights of an unknown color flickering from overhead.
''Oh, yeah,'' the sheriff said with a chuckle, ''there's a lot of conspiracy theories floating in Sedgwick County right now.''
Britton has been batting ideas around with Phillips County Sheriff Thomas Elliott, trying to determine if any laws are being broken. As it stands right now, he said, it's all above board '-- even if it's a bit disconcerting.
''We have no idea at this point,'' Britton said. ''No leads and no thoughts. It's just an odd phenomenon.''
Britton said he has spoken with a sheriff's deputy in neighboring Deuel County, Neb., who has been chasing drones in his state the past few days. The Deuel County sheriff could not be reached Friday to comment.
Washington County Sheriff Jon Stivers has heard reports from his constituents of six drones at a time to 30.
''It's both weird and concerning,'' Stivers said. ''It would be kind of nice to know what they're doing.''
Lincoln County Sheriff Tom Nestor said he received the first report of a drone sighting in his jurisdiction Thursday night. He expects the conspiracy theorists to run wild, but Nastor said he's most concerned with the drones colliding midair with planes from Limon's airport or helicopters used in emergency situations.
The sheriffs said they have gotten nothing from the Federal Aviation Authority, and Elliot previously told The Post that the Air Force has denied involvement. The FAA also told The Post this week that it had no information on the mystery flyers. Neither did the Drug Enforcement Administration nor the U.S. Army Forces Command.
Local sheriff's offices had been inundated with questions, including whether people are allowed to shoot the drones out of the sky.
''That's not advisable,'' Stivers said, indicating that it could break federal law.
The sheriffs instead recommended that residents call their offices with any more information. The Washington and Lincoln county sheriff's offices have posted notices on Facebook asking residents to report sightings of the drones.
''I would love for someone to break it wide open,'' Nestor said. ''I don't know what it is, but I would like it not to be in my county.''
Huge Triangular UFO 'Ejecting Red Orb' Caught on Video Gliding Across Sky Above New York - Sputnik International
Tech14:59 29.12.2019(updated 15:56 29.12.2019) Get short URL
Reported UFO sightings are frequent in upstate New York, with a website that collects witness reports claiming there were 65 such sightings in the region last year, ranging from unusual light patterns and large triangular shapes to frightening creatures.
A YouTube user has uploaded a video of what he believes to be a fascinating UFO sighting, with a triangular object hovering in the sky above a town in upstate New York in the US.
Given its enormous altitude, the object was supposedly huge, as the person who recorded the video claims that they saw a red ''orb'' type object being dropped from the triangular craft just before they started filming.
It's difficult to estimate whether the footage that was uploaded on 28 December to the ''The Tales From Out There'' YouTube account is genuine.
While posting numerous intriguing and genuinely puzzling video clips, the channel ''Tales From Out There'' is also reportedly occasionally taken in by hoaxes.
UFO experts might argue, by observing the footage, that it's hard to interpret this strange object as a drone or a satellite.
Judging by witness accounts on social media and information offered by the website of the National UFO Reporting Center, the past year has apparently been noted for a remarkable increase in UFO sightings.
With videos of alleged sightings uploaded on the internet and comments rampant on social media, critics have been quick to put a damper on these speculations.
They emphasise the fact that as drones are currently quite commonplace, and there have been numerous satellite launches connected with SpaceX's Starlink project, a commonplace explanation for most sightings can be easily found.
Nonetheless, the US Navy has been more open of late about what it describes as ''Unidentified Aerial Phenomena'', as gun camera footage from Navy fighter planes showing highly advanced aircraft being operated by unknown pilots has been made available this year.
The craft shown in the clips perform amazing and apparently impossible '' at our current level of technology ''aerobatic feats, accelerating to incredible speeds and then coming to a sudden dead halt.
Witnesses to the USS Nimitz UFO incident - a radar-visual encounter of a UFO by US fighter pilots of the Nimitz Carrier Strike Group in November 2004, have also been more willing to open up and share their accounts of what they believe happened at the time.
Ivanka Trump Confirmed as CES 2020 Keynote Speaker '' Variety
December 27, 2019 11:59AM PTIt's official: Ivanka Trump, President Donald Trump's daughter and adviser, will be on the CES 2020 keynote stage next month in Las Vegas.
Ivanka Trump will join a keynote discussion on jobs and the future of work with Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the Consumer Technology Assn., which produces CES. The talk is scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 7, at 2 p.m. PT in the Venetian's Palazzo Ballroom. Trump and Shapiro will discuss ''employer-led strategies to reskill workers, create apprenticeships and develop K-12 STEM education programs,'' according to the CTA.
CTA this week confirmed an earlier report that Ivanka Trump was scheduled to speak at CES 2020.
''CES has consistently proven to be one of the most influential technology events in the world and I am excited to join this year for a substantive discussion on the how the government is working with private-sector leaders to ensure American students and workers are equipped to thrive in the modern, digital economy,'' Ivanka Trump said in a statement provided by the CTA.
In her role as presidential adviser, Ivanka Trump focuses on the economic empowerment of women and their families, skills-training and workforce development. She serves as co-chair of the National Council for the American Worker with U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross.
Ivanka Trump has worked with the CTA before. In May, she led the White House's lobbying to sign the trade group and 42 of its member companies to the Pledge to America's Workers, under which the consumer-electronics firms promised to add 392,214 new U.S. worker training opportunities over the next five years. She also appeared as a speaker at the CTA's 2019 Global Entrepreneurship Summit in The Hague, co-hosted by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Netherlands Prime Minister Mark Rutte.
''As a business leader and entrepreneur, Ivanka Trump is an advocate for creating family-sustaining jobs through workforce development, education and skills training,'' CTA's Shapiro said in a statement. ''We welcome her to the CES keynote stage, as she shares her vision for technology's role in creating and enabling the workforce of the future.''
Other keynote speakers at CES 2020, which runs Jan. 7-10, 2020, in Las Vegas, are set to include Quibi CEO Meg Whitman and founder Jeffrey Katzenberg, who will appear ahead of the service's April 2020 launch, as well as NBCUniversal's Linda Yaccarino, chairman of advertising and partnerships; Daimler chairman Ola K¤llenius; Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian; Samsung Electronics CEO Hyun-Suk Kim; Salesforce chairman/co-CEO Marc Benioff; and Unilever CEO Alan Jope.
Going to CES 2020? Don't miss Variety's Entertainment Summit at CES, with a speaker lineup that includes Mark Cuban, Spotify's Dawn Ostroff and ViacomCBS's Marc DeBevoise.It's official: Ivanka Trump, President Donald Trump's daughter and adviser, will be on the CES 2020 keynote stage next month in Las Vegas. Ivanka Trump will join a keynote discussion on jobs and the future of work with Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the Consumer Technology Assn., which produces CES. The talk is scheduled [...]
Spotify will not be trying to cash in on political ad spending during the 2020 election season. The music and podcast streamer said Friday it will suspend sales of political ads next year, explaining that it doesn't have the ability to ''validate and review'' such advertising. ''Beginning in early 2020, Spotify will pause the selling [...]
The battle for gaming creators has cost Amazon's Twitch another notable streamer: Corinna Kopf, a popular Instagram model, digital influencer and ''Fortnite'' Twitch streamer with millions of followers, is moving to Facebook Gaming under an exclusive agreement. On Facebook, Kopf's first stream is scheduled to take place Dec. 30 at 4 p.m. PT at facebook.com/gaming/corinnakopff. [...]
Comcast is in advanced discussions to acquire Xumo, a free, ad-supported streaming service owned by Panasonic and Meredith Corp., the Wall Street Journal reported. Xumo has been shopping itself for months and had previously engaged in talks with prospective buyers including Sinclair Broadcast Group, Variety reported earlier this year. Comcast already has a commercial deal with [...]
In this week's edition of the Variety Movie Commercial Tracker, powered by the always-on TV ad measurement and attribution company iSpot.tv, Twentieth Century Fox claims the top spot in spending with ''Spies in Disguise.'' Ads placed for the animated film had an estimated media value of $6.63 million through Sunday for 937 national ad airings [...]
Disney. Apple. WarnerMedia. NBCUniversal. This quartet's streaming launches that began in late 2019 spell out the D.A.W.N. of a new era: U.S. companies are driving a big shift in where video entertainment will be accessible digitally. Disney Plus had been announced long before 2019, but key details about it such as its content lineup and [...]
Here are the trends that captured headlines this year '-- from the rise of the streaming wars and podcasting, to digital-media consolidation and the growing backlash against Big Tech. 1. Big-Media Streamers Assemble The new multibillion-dollar battle fronts in streaming video became sharply drawn in 2019. Disney roared the loudest, with the debut of Disney [...]
Out but not down: Tory anti-Brexiters tell where the next battle will be fought | Politics | The Guardian
The next year will see a fresh Brexit crisis, parliament sidelined and a renewed threat to the union '' but there is still hope for supporters of progressive politics, according to some of the leading figures who took on the government over Brexit.
The 80-strong majority secured by Boris Johnson at the election ended the parliamentary stalemate that left the prime minister unable to push through his Brexit deal. The election also ended the tenures of key figures responsible for leading the battle to oppose his plans.
The Observer spoke to David Gauke, who quit the cabinet; Sam Gyimah, who defected from the Tories to the Lib Dems; Anna Soubry, who set up a new party; and Dominic Grieve, who helped lead the fight against Brexit in parliament, about the crucial year ahead. They pointed to key contradictions in Johnson's plans that could lead quickly to a Brexit crisis '' and predicted he would not pivot towards securing a soft Brexit trade deal with the EU.
Gauke said Johnson was now in an enormously strong position, with parliament unable to curb his plans. However, he said the prime minister now faced the problem of delivering Brexit without inflicting further pain on the very areas, such as the Midlands and the north-east, that delivered him a majority.
''To what extent is he going to deliver a purist form of Brexit, or is he going to look to find a pragmatic way forward that ensures our economy can grow?'' he said. ''I would have thought the more likely course of action for him is to keep beating the Brexit drum and blame any difficulties on the EU and appear defiant. His determination to diverge makes it hard to see common ground. I hope some kind of pragmatic compromise is the way forward, but given how boxed in he is on the implementation period not being extended and an apparent determination to reject any kind of dynamic alignment, I think we may well find ourselves at the end of 2020 facing real problems.
''The part of the country that is likely to be worst hit by a hard Brexit is the north-east of England, an area that has voted Conservative in a way that is unprecedented. That's going to make it hard '... If you haven't got a strong economy that gives you the money to spend on the north of England, then it will be very hard to square the circle.''
Gyimah agreed: ''Bumper-sticker slogans like 'take back control' and 'get Brexit done' may unite different tribes for the purposes of a campaign, but their interests are not aligned. The faultlines that run through Brexit are as real as ever.
''There are painful trade-offs ahead, which will affect every sector and every constituency in the country in different ways. An 80-seat majority cannot deny this reality, nor can you use pork-barrel politics to blunt the edge of every hard Brexit policy decision. Most of those new MPs will have some tough explaining to do to their constituents as the rubber hits the road. And a slower-growing economy means less money for public services, and a new era of self-imposed austerity.''
The prospect of securing a good trade deal at the end of 2020 was very uncertain, said Grieve. ''One of the themes of the election that continues to be of great concern to me is the risk of ending up with either a very unsatisfactory deal or no deal at all. I think they are very considerable.''
He also predicted a new constitutional crisis as Brexit takes place. ''If the border in the Irish Sea starts to materialise, then I can foresee that politics in Northern Ireland will become very heated up,'' he said. ''That has been underestimated, quite apart from the fact that it may also lead obviously to a rise on the other side for a demand for a border poll. With Scotland, the SNP have the grievance to revive the call for independence. How is that going to be contained? It is containable for a while, but I'm not sure it is if the SNP get a majority in the 2021 Scottish parliamentary elections.''
Soubry, who quit the Tories in February to start the Independent Group for Change, called on Tories who had privately expressed concerns about Johnson's approach to speak out. ''You do have to say, where are these people that sat in meetings with the likes of me and Dominic Grieve, Antoinette Sandbach, who put the people's interests before their own. Where are they now? What are they going to do? Are they going to sit on their hands and stay mute?''
However, Soubry said that despite the failure of her new party, there was still the potential for a new progressive party to emerge should Labour continue to be embroiled in civil war. ''The Tory party will get its comeuppance in due course,'' she said. ''The tragedy is that unless the Labour moderates do the brave and right thing and leave to form a new centre-ground party, then the Tory party will be in power for at least 10 years, unchecked and unopposed. We were always the unofficial opposition. We were a genuine coalition. It was the David Lammys, the Dominic Grieves, it included the Lib Dems and SNP. We were hugely effective at checking the excesses.
''All those people who were part of the much bigger grouping that cometh the hour didn't have the courage [to leave Labour], if they now want to do that. And if the Lib Dems recognise that they too have to change '... and accept that there must be a different way of doing politics '' if those things happen, then we could rebuild the centre ground of politics as we tried to do in February and failed. But it relies on people being brave and honest. I'd be more than happy to play my part in that.''
Liberal voters are going to have to live with the fact that there is no proper opposition to the prime minister
Gyimah urged liberals to ''resist the idea that the size of the majority means the case for progressive politics has been lost''. He added: ''Britain now needs a new narrative that looks to the future and progressive voices must be a part of forging it. I continue to believe passionately that we need a progressive centre. If we're serious about winning this battle for the future, tribalism on the progressive left has to end '... This fight won't be won in the next news cycle. We can win it, because populists eventually get found out. The wheel of history will turn again and we must be ready.''
Grieve is less optimistic. ''Liberal voters are going to have to live with the fact that there is currently no proper opposition to the prime minister,'' he said. ''I think we're in for a period where opposition to what Johnson is doing is going to be very difficult to put together. I was just looking at a letter sent to me this morning that contains the words, 'God for Boris, England and St George! We will take the Brexit hill, Mr Grieve. It is there in our history.' There will be a lot of people who will be let down if God for Boris, England and St George doesn't succeed.''
Harvey Weinstein faces possible criminal charges in LA as probe expands - Los Angeles Times
More than two years after the Los Angeles and Beverly Hills police departments launched sexual assault investigations into Harvey Weinstein, the Los Angeles County district attorney's office has escalated its review into the disgraced filmmaker and is considering filing criminal charges against him, law enforcement sources said.
In all, eight cases are under review by the district attorney's office, a spokesperson for the agency said. Four of the cases are from the Los Angeles Police Department and four are from the Beverly Hills Police Department, sources said.
The office could act in the new year, before Manhattan prosecutors complete their criminal trial of the once high-flying movie producer, set to begin in January, said people familiar with the investigation who were not authorized to comment.
Sources have confirmed to The Times that the district attorney's sex crimes division has intensified contact with at least two accusers and has also broadened its review to include several other women across the country who have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct.
This stepped-up investigation could open up a second plank of prosecution for the embattled mogul, who faces four criminal sex crimes charges involving three women in New York.
A spokesperson for Weinstein declined to comment. The former film producer has pleaded not guilty to the charges. He has denied all allegations of nonconsensual sex.
A spokesman for the Los Angeles district attorney's office declined to comment.
Two of the key cases prosecutors are weighing involved separate alleged sexual assaults that occurred at two hotels during the same week in February 2013.
In October 2017, Los Angeles Police Capt. Billy Hayes confirmed that the department had opened an investigation into Weinstein after an Italian model-actress filed a report, alleging that Weinstein raped her at the Mr. C Beverly Hills hotel in 2013.
This was the first case related to Weinstein to be reported in Southern California.
The actress said she met and briefly spoke with the producer during the Los Angeles Italia Film, Fashion and Art Fest that year, after which he ''bullied'' his way into her hotel room.
The actress described the alleged incident in an earlier interview with The Times. ''Once inside, he asked me questions about myself, but soon became very aggressive and demanding and kept asking to see me naked.'' She said that she showed him pictures of her children as she cried and begged him to go away. ''He grabbed me by the hair and forced me to do something I did not want to do,'' she said, saying that Weinstein forced her to perform oral sex on him. ''He then dragged me to the bathroom and forcibly raped me.''
According to law enforcement sources, the actress did not immediately report the alleged incident. But she did tell three people what happened to her, including her priest. Investigators traveled to Italy, where she lived at the time of the alleged assault, and independently verified their accounts.
Since the allegation surfaced, Weinstein's attorneys have vigorously denied that he was at Mr. C Beverly Hills that night. He has also denied ever being alone with the accuser.
''My client is fully cooperating with law enforcement and the D.A.'s office,'' said David Ring, the attorney for the Italian actress. ''She will appear and tell the jury how Weinstein raped her in a Beverly Hills hotel room in 2013. ... It will be difficult and stressful for her, but she knows it must occur in order to convict Weinstein, who continues to buy time with delaying tactics.''
A second woman who alleges that Weinstein assaulted her on Feb. 19, 2013 '-- several hours before the Italian actress alleged she was raped, also in Beverly Hills '-- may testify in the New York trial as a witness to his prior behavior.
According to a source familiar with the investigation, this second victim, who is described in New York court documents, contacted the New York Police Department about a separate incident of sexual assault involving Weinstein at a Beverly Hills hotel.
The NYPD referred the case to Beverly Hills police for investigation, according to the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity in order to discuss the matter candidly.
Beverly Hills police have declined to make public any details of their investigations into Weinstein.
The L.A. County district attorney's sex crimes unit has ramped up its inquiry into allegations of sexual assault allegations in other jurisdictions against Weinstein in recent months, sources told The Times.
Aaron Filler, the attorney representing actress Paz de la Huerta in a civil suit against Weinstein for sexual battery, said that he received a telephone call from Deputy Dist. Atty. Paul Thompson, head of the sex crimes unit, about a month ago, requesting an interview with his client.
De la Huerta alleges that Weinstein raped her twice in her New York apartment in December 2010.
Filler said that Thompson told him that L.A. was starting its own prosecution of Weinstein.
''My impression was that they are commencing a wide-ranging criminal investigation and at this point are reaching out to every victim they can identify and try and do telephone interviews around the country,'' Thompson said. ''They have more leeway to reach out to more victims in more jurisdictions and bring them into a courtroom than in New York.''
Unlike New York, California law allows for ''me too'' evidence of sexual harassment and discrimination described by other employees to be presented at trial. In other words, prosecutors here could have multiple accusers who are not plaintiffs testify against Weinstein.
In addition to the New York criminal case, there is a class-action suit and at least 18 women with individual suits against Weinstein, alleging sexual misconduct, assault or harassment.
According to Filler, De la Huerta, who lives in New York, had a brief telephone conversation with Thompson but would prefer to meet with him in person. To date, they have not scheduled a meeting.
An attorney representing an accuser in her suit against Weinstein, alleging that the producer raped her, said that he also received a request from Thompson to talk with his client within the last month.
Although his client declined to speak with Thompson, saying the civil suit has ''put her through the wringer,'' the attorney characterized his conversation with the assistant district attorney saying, ''It sounded like they are moving forward.''
In the two years since the New York Times and the New Yorker first detailed decades of sexual misconduct allegations against Weinstein, criminal investigations have opened in Los Angeles, London and New York. However, only the New York district attorney's office has pursued criminal charges against the fallen movie mogul.
Two years ago, L.A. County Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey formed a special task force dedicated to investigating allegations of sexual assault roiling Hollywood. She assigned a group of veteran sex crimes prosecutors to ''ensure a uniformed approach to the legal review and possible prosecution of any case that meets both the legal and factual standards for criminal prosecution.''
To date, the task force has yet to charge any of the more than two dozen men subject to investigations by law enforcement. Many of those allegations were too old to prosecute and in other cases there was insufficient evidence; they include allegations involving the actors Steven Seagal and Kevin Spacey.
Lacey, who is running for a third term as district attorney, faces a slew of challengers and renewed pressure for declining to prosecute several high-profile sex abuse cases.
Meanwhile, Weinstein's legal woes continue to mount. A former teen model, Kaja Sokola, filed a lawsuit last week against the producer under the Child Victims Act, alleging the former filmmaker sexually assaulted her at his New York City apartment in 2002 when she was 16.
Sokola was initially part of a federal class-action suit filed in December 2017 against the filmmaker. Weinstein and his former film studio's board have reached a controversial $47-million settlement with several women who have accused him of sexual misconduct, according to attorneys involved in the negotiations.
About $25 million will be allocated to the accusers, $7.3 million to unsecured creditors and former Weinstein Co. employees and about $12.2 million will be earmarked to pay legal fees of the studio's directors and officers, according to a copy of the settlement term sheet obtained by The Times. The Weinstein Co. filed for bankruptcy protection in March 2018.
Weinstein, the producer behind such Oscar-winning hits as ''Shakespeare in Love,'' ''Chicago'' and ''The King's Speech,'' was fired from his company in October 2017 after dozens of women accused him of sexual misconduct.
Last week, Weinstein was widely criticized for calling himself ''the forgotten man'' in an interview with the New York Post and citing how many women he helped during his career. The comments triggered a swift backlash, including a formal statement signed by 23 of his accusers.
Weinstein Accusers Balk After Lawyers Set To Make More Than Plaintiffs
Last week, a tentative settlement agreement for $25 million was reportedly reached between Harvey Weinstein and more than 30 women who have accused him of sexual misconduct. If approved by the court, the deal would bring an end to the majority of lawsuits pending against the disgraced Hollywood mogul.
Now that the details have come out, however, several of the women are objecting to attorney's fees, which in some cases would hand the lawyers more than 10 times more than some of the accusers, according to The Guardian.
Should we file this under 'that's how class-action lawsuits work' or are the attorneys asking too much after two years of negotiations?
Elizabeth Fegan, the lead attorney representing the women who are part of the original class action lawsuit and all future claimants who choose to join it, could receive up to 25% of the payout if the settlement goes ahead, legal observers said. They pointed out that sum could end up being 10 times or more the payment to individual victims, especially if more join the case and dilute the amount of the awards.
Lawyer Douglas Wigdor says this is one of the grounds upon which he intends to fight the proposed settlement on behalf of two of his clients who have announced they will object.
He says Fegan's fee ''could end up being significantly more than 10 times the amount'' that individual plaintiffs will receive.
''She stands to make millions of dollars in attorney fees if it settles and if it doesn't, then she's out of luck.'' -The Guardian
The proposed settlement with accusers is just one component of a $47 million deal which would also pay the Weinstein Company's debts. Of it, $6.2 million would go to 18 accusers in the US, Canada and UK, while around $18.5 million would be set aside for class action participants - with more expected to join.
Over a quarter of the overall settlement package, $12m, will go towards the legal costs of Weinstein, his brother Bob, and former members of the company's board if the agreement goes ahead.
According to attorney John Clune, who has advised several dissatisfied Weinstein accusers, "It certainly doesn't seem fair that lawyers could be getting more than their clients ... This is one of the things that I think the judge is going to have to take a close look at."
Fegan told The Guardian, "As in all class actions, attorneys' fees are ultimately determined by the judge, who must evaluate and approve the percentage. If the court awards them 25% for fees, the attorneys will receive less than the value of time spent on the case using industry standard defined billing rates."
According to the report, New Zealand model Zoe Brock says she intends to file an objection to the proposed settlement - the fourth accuser to publicly say she will do so, adding that she feels "hopeless and defeated" by the proposed terms under which Weinstein wouldn't be required to personally pay his accusers or admit any wrongdoing.
Instead, the settlement would be paid by insurance companies representing the Weinstein Company.
Brock, who was part of the original class action filed against Weinstein in November 2017, says she feels her hands are tied. ''Even if I walk away I can't take another suit against Harvey, or anyone connected to him, because the class action has already been filed,'' she said.
''I have been dealing behind the scenes with the weight of this negotiation for months and I have been very vocal about how unhappy I am about it with my legal team,'' she told New Zealand radio station, Stuff.
''They have been very careful in every email and every interview to say that no one is being forced into this settlement but I feel forced '... I don't feel like I have a choice.''
Brock is among the Weinstein accusers who have sought outside advice from lawyers not involved in the settlement negotiations. -The Guardian
Another Weinstein accuser who says she was sexually assaulted by the mogul in 2010, Dominique Huett, says she is also considering filing an objection, however she's worried that if the settlement is not passed, nobody will be compensated.
"I'm not sure I want to sign up to this," she said, "but I feel I need to do what's best for the collective and don't want to get in the way of other women who feel this is their only option."
"It has been a very disturbing process. He [Weinstein] is still holding all of the power and all of the cards."
Meanwhile, Weinstein's criminal trial is scheduled to begin January 6 in Manhattan, while he may also face charges in Los Angeles.
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TOKYO'--Japan said Friday it would dispatch a small naval squad to waters near Iran as part of efforts to ensure safe navigation, a rare move to send military forces into an area of international strains.
A string of attacks on shipping'--including one in June on a Japanese-operated oil tanker off the coast of Iran'--has heightened tensions this year. The U.S. and its allies have blamed the attacks on Iran, which says it isn't responsible.
Japan relies on the Middle East for most of its oil. It said its mission would be to gather information and that it would send a destroyer that carries one or two helicopters. It also plans to use two P-3C patrol aircraft deployed to Djibouti in a multinational antipiracy mission that has been continuing since 2009.
Tokyo dispatched forces to the Middle East around the time of the two Gulf wars in 1991 and 2003 for noncombat missions, including minesweeping after the 1991 war.
Such dispatches remain unusual for Japan, which has a pacifist constitution, but it is reluctantly expanding its global naval footprint both because of pressure from Washington and a rising threat from China. Tokyo and Beijing have dueling claims on a small group of Japanese-held islets in the East China Sea, while Japan has watched with concern as Beijing creates artificial islands to back up its expansive territorial claims in the South China Sea.
The Japanese announcement came as Iran, Russia and China on Friday began a four-day naval military drill in the Gulf of Oman.
The first such trilateral exercise is part of Iran's efforts to strengthen military cooperation with Russia and China in the face of U.S. sanctions that Iran views as economic warfare, and U.S. efforts to build a naval coalition among Iran's regional rivals.
Iranian state television quoted Adm. Gholamreza Tahani, a deputy commander of the country's navy, as saying the drill would stretch across an area of more than 6500 square miles, including northern parts of the Indian Ocean.
''The most important outcome of this drill will be to let the world know Iran cannot be isolated,'' Adm. Tahani said, according to state broadcaster IRINN.
In response to the recent attacks on shipping near Iran, the U.S. and some allies including the U.K. and Saudi Arabia have formed a naval coalition to ensure freedom of navigation. They opened a new command center in Bahrain in November. However, some U.S. allies have remained out of the coalition, believing it will exacerbate tensions.
The U.S. had urged Japan, its close ally, to contribute to the effort, which placed Tokyo in a difficult position because it also has traditionally had friendly relations with Iran.
The government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe decided that Japan's operation would be independent of the U.S. framework and would exclude the most sensitive areas'--the Strait of Hormuz and the Persian Gulf'--from its area of activity.
''It's a product of compromise,'' said Kazuto Suzuki, a professor of international political economy at Hokkaido University. He said Japan chose the activities ''to meet the two demands of the situation'--meeting the request of America while not provoking Iran.''
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani met Mr. Abe in Tokyo on Dec. 20 in the first visit to Japan by a leader from that country since 2000. Mr. Abe explained Tokyo's plans for the military dispatch and Mr. Rouhani expressed his understanding for the move, Japanese officials said.
In June, Mr. Abe became the first Japanese leader to visit Iran since 1978 and met supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei. Tokyo had hoped to bridge divisions between the U.S. and Iran, but Mr. Khamanei said he didn't trust President Trump, and the attack on the Japanese-operated oil tanker happened while Mr. Abe was in Iran.
'--Sune Engel Rasmussen in Beirut contributed to this article.
Write to Chieko Tsuneoka at chieko.Tsuneoka@dowjones.com
Having earlier called Speaker Nancy Pelosi ''desperate," a clearly frustrated President Trump told reporters this week, following a video teleconference with U.S. troops,
''she hates the Republican Party. She hates all of the people that voted for me and the Republican Party."
Marc Short, chief of staff to Vice President Pence, said of Trump on ''Fox News Sunday.''
''He's frustrated [with] what he found to be a completely unreasonable impeachment.''
And that frustration boiled over as the president tweeted a link to something that the Democrats may have trouble fully explaining...
"Wow Crazy Nancy, what's going on? This is big stuff!"
Shortly after his mother became the first woman speaker, Paul Pelosi Jr., was hired by InfoUSA for $180,000 a year as its vice president for Strategic Planning.
Nancy Pelosi's son Paul is also on the board of an energy company.
As Patrick Howley reports, Nancy Pelosi's son Paul Pelosi Jr. (who went to Ukraine in 2017) was a board member of Viscoil and executive at its related company NRGLab, which did energy business in Ukraine!
.@oann exposes those DemocRATS & their Ukraine ties Joe & Hunter & Nancy & Paul; seems like it's a Family AffairWhat's going on here ? Pay attention to 1:13 in this video as it has been removed from social media pic.twitter.com/EFivBxANF1
'-- Constitutional Republic TEXT TRUMP 88022 (@Text88022) December 27, 2019And Speaker Pelosi even appears in the company's video commercials...
And Howley confirms NGRLabs links to Ukraine...
Here's another video NRGLab posted the SAME DAY confirming in the Youtube text description they did energy business in Ukraine: "For example, Mika Newton helped to secure the rights to build a plant for the production of SH-boxes in Ukraine"https://t.co/e1mjss8GzT
'-- Patrick Howley (@HowleyReporter) October 3, 2019
Of course, while there is no allegations of wrongdoing in the Pelosi case (and certainly no political intervention which we know Biden admitted publicly), it does make you wonder just how deep the cookie jar goes in Ukraine...
And explains why the country suddenly became a key strategic ally.
IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG) - Iowa City residents may end up paying a higher property tax starting this summer.
Iowa City City Hall on Friday, Dec. 27, 2019. (Aaron Scheinblum/KCRG)In the proposed budget for the next fiscal year, city staff suggest adding an emergency property tax for Iowa City residents. Staff says that money from those taxes will go entirely towards the city's climate action plan.
Iowa state code allows for cities to implement an emergency property tax. Iowa City staff say this is the first time they have proposed using it.
In the most recent proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2021, the city proposed a tax of 24-cents per $1,000 of a property's valuation. The report says that will bring in $1 million to help with the city's climate goals that were released in November.
Ashley Monroe, the Assistant City Manager for the city, said the emergency property tax would ensure the money collected would go directly towards initiatives for the climate action plan.
"The emergency levy provides a benefit because it separates and specifies what exactly the money is to be used for," Monroe said. "So by us identifying this as a climate action initiative, we can adjust and identify those funds as being specifically for those issues and actions."
Monroe said the money would go directly towards certain projects that they identified in the city's plans released back in November, and would not pay for any additional staff. She said the three full-time employees the city plans to add will come from a different revenue source.
"What we're hoping to do with the funds received from the emergency levy is to expand awareness and education and public infrastructure that furthers the climate objectives," Monroe said. "So that includes things like private investment at businesses and residences, public tree planting and other education initiatives."
The city council will ultimately vote to the budget next year. The public hearing process on the budget starts January 4.
VIDEO-OAN Three Part Investigative Report on Ukraine, Corruption and Biden Family '' Rudy Giuliani and Chanel Rion Travel to Ukraine'... | The Last Refuge
SCOTUS: No Articles of Impeachment or a Trial Are Required For The Senate to Acquit President Trump
''THEY CAN END IT NOW''
by Ren Jander, (C)2019Photo courtesy U.S. Senate
(Dec. 22, 2019) '-- The United States Supreme Court '' in a 9-0 holding '' unequivocally ruled that no trial is required for the Senate to acquit, or convict, anyone impeached by the House of Representatives. Even liberal Justices Stevens and Souter concurred in the ironclad judgment. The case is Nixon v. United States, 506 U.S. 224 (1993).
Once you comprehend the momentous importance of this case, you will then understand why Harvard Law School professor (and Democrat impeachment witness), Noah Feldman, recently published an article erroneously claiming that President Trump hasn't been impeached yet.
Feldman isn't trying to help the President. He knows the Senate can acquit immediately without waiting for Speaker Pelosi to transfer articles of impeachment, or for House impeachment managers to be appointed. This is because the Supreme Court has ruled '' in the Nixon case '' that how the Senate goes about acquitting or convicting any impeached person is non-justiciable, in that the Senate's power is plenary and the Supreme Court may not even review it.
This means that if the Senate acquits Trump immediately '' without a trial '' the Supreme Court has no authority, whatsoever, to review the Senate's acquittal, and there isn't a damn thing the House can do about it.
Former Vice President Joe Biden confirmed Friday he would not comply with a subpoena to testify in a Senate trial of President Donald Trump.
The Democratically controlled U.S. House of Representatives impeached Trump earlier this month alleging Trump abused his presidential power by tying foreign aid approved by Congress to a politically motivated investigation into a company on which Biden's son Hunter Biden served on the board.
Leaders in the House and Republican leaders in the GOP-controlled U.S. Senate are trying to come to terms for an impeachment trial. Biden said in early December he wouldn't comply with a subpoena by the Senate, and confirmed that statement Friday in an interview with the Des Moines Register's editorial board. He has not been subpoenaed, but Trump's allies have floated the idea.
Last SlideNext SlideTestifying before the Senate on the matter would take attention away from Trump and the allegations against him, Biden said. Not even ''that thug'' Rudy Giuliani, Trump's personal attorney and former New York City mayor, has accused Biden of doing anything but his job, the former vice president said. Biden also said any attempt to subpoena him would be on ''specious'' grounds, and he predicted it wouldn't come to that.
Biden said even if he volunteered to testify in an attempt to clear the air, it would create a media narrative that would let Trump off the hook.
''What are you going to cover?'' Biden said to Register Executive Editor Carol Hunter in response to a question. ''You guys are going to cover for three weeks anything that I said. And (Trump's) going to get away. You guys buy into it all the time. Not a joke '... Think what it's about. It's all about what he does all the time, his entire career. Take the focus off. This guy violated the Constitution. He said it in the driveway of the White House. He acknowledged he asked for help.''
Shortly after the House voted to impeach Trump, Biden was campaigning in Iowa, where he called impeachment "a sad moment for our country." It underscored the need for a president who can unify the country, he said.
"No one's taken as much heat and as many lies thrown at them as I have, but again, this is not about me. It's not about my family. It's about the nation. And we have to reach out and unify this country," Biden said in Ottumwa on Saturday.
A centerpiece to Biden's campaign is his ability to beat Trump in a general election. It was a sentiment most likely Democratic caucusgoers shared in a mid-November Des Moines Register/CNN/Mediacom poll. He was the only candidate whom a majority of respondents said they were either almost certain or fairly confident would defeat Trump, according to the poll.
He said Friday that beating Trump at the ballot box is a "precondition to any progress being made."
Last SlideNext SlideBiden's meeting Friday with the Register's editorial board was part of a two-day swing through the state. He has events planned Saturday in Tipton, Washington and Fairfield.
Nick Coltrain is a politics and data reporter for the Register. Reach him at email@example.com or at 515-284-8361.
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Film director Michael Moore, a longtime TDS sufferer, says that if the presidential election were held today, President Trump would win.
Asked during an interview with Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! if Trump would win in 2020, Moore said: ''I think if the election were held today.''
But the director predicted that the Democratic candidate for president would win the popular vote count by upwards of 5 million votes.
''Hillary won by 3 million popular votes. I believe whoever the Democrat is next year is going to win by 4 to 5 million popular votes. There's no question in my mind that people who stayed home, who sat on the bench, they're going to pour out, in California, New York and '-- you know, but also in Texas and whatever, I mean, places that Trump will probably win, but, yeah, there's going to be a much higher percentage of people voting against him.''
That won't help, though, because Hillary Clinton lost the Electoral College in a landslide, 304-227.
Moore said Trump's support is as strong as ever.
''The problem is, if the vote were today, I believe, he would win the electoral states that he would need, because, living out there, I will tell you, his level of support has not gone down one inch,'' he said. ''In fact, I'd say it's even more rabid than it was before, because they're afraid now. They're afraid he could lose, because they watched his behavior. So they are voracious in their appetite for Donald Trump. That's the bad news.''
But Moore said Democrats have to make sure they don't nominate ''another Hillary Clinton,'' who was wildly unpopular.
''What we have to do is we have to make sure we don't give them another Hillary Clinton to vote for,'' he said. ''The Democrats who are encouraging moderation, go to the center '-- you know, 'Let's not upset the angry white guys' '-- that's really what it is.''
''Ninety thousand wanted to send a message to the Democratic Party: 'You forgot us a long time ago out here, and we will not put up with this anymore. We're not going to vote for Trump, but we're not going to tolerate you sending us another Republican-lite Democrat,''' Moore said.
''If we go that route, it's guaranteed we will lose the Electoral College,'' Moore added. ''We will win when we put somebody on that ballot that excites the base '-- women, people of color, young people. When they wake up that morning and they feel the way that many of us, many of you watching, felt the morning that you were going to '-- in 2008, and you were going to get to go and vote for Barack Obama.''
''That feeling has got to happen in the 18-to-35-year-old demographic,'' he said. ''It has to happen with people of color and with women. We already feel that way. They already feel that way. It's just: Will they come out and vote for a centrist, moderate candidate. I don't think that is going to happen. They're going to come out and vote for the fighter, for the person that shares their values.''
Moore has been accurate in his predictions before. In July 2016, he predicted that the reality TV billionaire would soon be moving into the White House, penning a piece headlined, ''5 Reasons Trump Will Win.''
Let's face it: Our biggest problem here isn't Trump '' it's Hillary. She is hugely unpopular '-- nearly 70% of all voters think she is untrustworthy and dishonest. She represents the old way of politics, not really believing in anything other than what can get you elected. That's why she fights against gays getting married one moment, and the next she's officiating a gay marriage. Young women are among her biggest detractors, which has to hurt considering it's the sacrifices and the battles that Hillary and other women of her generation endured so that this younger generation would never have to be told by the Barbara Bushes of the world that they should just shut up and go bake some cookies. But the kids don't like her, and not a day goes by that a millennial doesn't tell me they aren't voting for her. No Democrat, and certainly no independent, is waking up on November 8th excited to run out and vote for Hillary the way they did the day Obama became president or when Bernie was on the primary ballot. The enthusiasm just isn't there. And because this election is going to come down to just one thing '-- who drags the most people out of the house and gets them to the polls '-- Trump right now is in the catbird seat.
VIDEO - Michael Moore on Impeachment, Trump's Chances in 2020 & Why He Supports Bernie Sanders - YouTube
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) peppers her presidential campaign stops with stories of her brothers, but one is reportedly "furious" with how she referred to their father.
The Boston Globe quoted a family friend on the disagreement between the presidential hopeful and David Herring, her brother.
"When she called her dad a janitor during the early stages of this, David was furious," said Pamela Winblood, who is 78 years old and a longtime friend of his.
Winblood recalled that he told her, "My Dad was never a janitor," to which she replied, "Well, he was a maintenance man."
Warren has often described her father as a janitor on the campaign trail in order to highlight her humble beginnings on the road to becoming a U.S. Senator and a presidential candidate.
She has also been criticized for bending the truth in order to to create a favorable political narrative. Most notably, she was forced to apologize for claiming that she had a Native American heritage.
Here's a tweet with the claim:Warren used the janitorial descriptor when she fended off a critic asking her about her millionaire "one percenter" status in September 2017.
"I was born into a family where my daddy had one job after another, he ended up as a janitor," she responded. "My mom worked in a minimum wage job at Sears."
Here's more about Warren's campaign problems: Elizabeth Warren drops in key pollswww.youtube.com
[H/T: the Washington Examiner]
VIDEO-After Biden Claims He's in Debt and Unemployed, Court Finds His $2.5 Mil Hollywood Home
Despite Hunter Biden's claim that he is in debt and unemployed, documents handed over to an Arkansas court revealed that the son of former Vice President Joe Biden shares a ZIP code with some famous Hollywood elites.
Biden owns a California home valued at a whopping $2.5 million, according to the New York Post.
The revelation came Monday as part of the paternity case revolving around Biden's Arkansas love child.
Although Biden's multimillion-dollar home is one that most Americans can only dream of owning, the politician's son has insisted that he is financially destitute.
While it's clear that Biden isn't exactly slumming it around the poverty line, his claim of being in dire financial straits could be an attempt to avoid a hefty child support payment to his Arkansas child.
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This discovery of Biden's Hollywood holding may not help his image of a person who struggles with money. According to the Post, the house features a pool and a private gated driveway.
With these luxurious additions and superstars like Ben Affleck and Halle Berry sharing the same ZIP code, it may be fair to say Biden isn't exactly as lacking in funds as he claims.
It's unclear how Biden was able to afford such a ritzy home, but it may have something to do with his five-figure monthly paychecks from Ukrainian energy giant Burisma, where he served on the board.
Although some of this may have gone to finance Biden's alleged substance abuse problem, there was apparently enough left over to grab the Hollywood Hills mansion.
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Biden's decision to purchase the home came at an unfortunate time.
The paternity case against him in Arkansas was filed only one day after the swanky residence sold. Biden originally denied that the child in question was his son.
The Western Journal first broke the bombshell news of a DNA test confirming Biden was the child's father in November.
Unfortunately for Hunter's father, the revelations made in the court battle over his new grandson and the scandal surrounding Hunter's activities in Ukraine have shadowed the former vice president's 2020 campaign.
One major takeaway for many is that Biden apparently didn't see a problem with his son working for a Ukrainian company that had a reputation for corruption at a time when the then-vice president had enough power to unseat the country's top prosecutor.
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With the Democratic primaries rapidly approaching, Hunter Biden appears to be a force of destruction against his dad's continuing political career.
This court case has a ways to go, and it's likely that this won't be the last embarrassing discovery that's going to made before its conclusion.
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