''He has the intelligence of an empty ashtray, he is abysmally vacuous.''
That was the stinging character assassination of Salah Abdeslam, the man most-wanted over last November's Paris attacks, which left 130 people dead.
Remarkably, it was delivered by Abdeslam's lawyer in Belgium, Sven Mary, on the day his client was handed over to French authorities.
Mary made the comments in an exclusive interview with French newspaper Liberation, revealing his thoughts on Abdeslam and lifting the lid on the pressure that came with representing him.
Mary, continuing after his empty ashtray comment, said: ''He [Abdeslam] is a perfect example of the Grand Theft Auto generation who believe they live in a video game. I asked him if he had read the Koran, which is what I did, and he told me that he had read his interpretation of it on the Internet. For simple minds, it is perfect, the 'net, it's the maximum they can understand.''
Despite the interview, there has been no indication that Mary has yet severed links with Abdeslam.
But, with the suspect now in French hands, he will also be represented by Frank Berton, a high-profile French criminal lawyer.
Mary, 43, said he didn't care about his popularity levels, but that if he had known about the Belgian attacks, he would perhaps not have agreed to represent Abdeslam.
He added: ''It is not easy to take on his defense, which brings me nothing but crap. I've been repeatedly assaulted, verbally and physically. Two types even waited for me in front of my office and blows were exchanged, but I can defend myself. On several occasions the police had to escort my daughters to school.''
Greek authorities are urging refugees to leave a makeshift Idomeni camp close to the border with the FYR of Macedonia border and move to official reception centres elsewhere is the country.
''We will stay here. Where can we go? If we go back it's a bigger problem.No one should forget what happened to us; in the new camp nobody will help us, nobody will speak about us, no press, no help. It's a big problem,'' said one migrant, another complained that one camp is the same as any other:''All the people who have moved to the new camps say its just the same, the same kind of life. They give you one portion of pasta and a piece of bread, is it enough for human being to survive on.''Many cling to the hope that the borders will reopen and they will be allowed tocontinue on their journey across Europe, primarily to Germany.
Human rights groups say living conditions are appalling and the health risks high.
'Catastrophic' situation in Syria after hospital airstrikes, says UN | euronews, world news
The United Nations says the situation in the Syrian city of Aleppo is ''catastrophic'' after deadly airstrikes on a hospital.
Activists say the dead included a dentist, and one of the few pediatricians remaining in the city's opposition-held areas.
The hospital, run by medical charity Doctors Without Borders, has been completely destroyed.
Aleppo has been the epicentre of a military escalation that has helped undermine UN-led peace talks in recent weeks.
UN envoy Staffan de Mistura said on Thursday a cessation of hostilities agreement brokered by the US and Russia was ''barely alive.''
''I believe that calling for a new round of talks during the course of May is urgent, but it is even more urgent in order to make sure that these talks are considered meaningful by the Syrian people that the cessation of hostilities level is actually reaching back to what it used to be,'' said De Mistura.
The chairman of the humanitarian task force said the aid lifeline to Syria is at risk. He described the bombing of hospitals and the killing of doctors as a ''crisis within a crisis.''
Jan Egeland said that if the attacks continue the UN's ambitious plan to deliver aid to besieged and hard-to-reach locations will not be possible.
Correct The RecordWith Hillary Clinton's appearance before the controversial, avowedly-partisan House Benghazi Committee looming, Correct The Record's Benghazi Research Center has released a 140-page book that details the heinous and routine abuses of power by the committee and its chairman, Trey Gowdy.
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HILLARY CLINTON VS. THE GOP ON THE ISSUES FACING AMERICAView AllCorrect The Record is a strategic research and rapid response team designed to defend Hillary Clinton from baseless attacks.
A start for the smallest digital modes station yet?
I made this little Nintendo DS sized computer using a Raspberry Pi and a bunch of off-the-shelf parts. It is a fully functional linux computer that can do most things a full system can (games, web stuff, videos, music etc).
You can also output the video to an external monitor, transforming it into a desktop-ish computer.
I make other stuff like this on my youtube channel.
Estimated Cost ~$120
Raspberry Pi 2 (900MHz CPU, 1GB RAM)3x USB ports1x EthernetFully QWERTY keyboardbacklit 3.5inch Touchscreen1000mAh battery Clamshell case (made from 2x hard drive enclosures)Full Linux OS (Raspbian, using i3 window manager)Audio/Video out
Here's everything broken down into steps for easier following.
The first thing to do is remove some components from the Raspberry Pi board to make it as thin as possible. This includes: The 2x USB sockets, ethernet plug, GPIO pins, 2x camera connectors, composite audio/video jack, and HDMI port. You can use a soldering iron in conjunction with a solder sucker or solder wick
Not everything is easy to desolder from the board, and I made good use of the mini hacksaw blade and cutters too. Just be careful not to damage components or scratch the board, and you'll be fine.
You should be left with a really thin Raspberry Pi 2 board
Desolder the pins from the PiTFT board. This frees up lots of space, and make it super thin. Again use the soldering iron to heat up the solder and the pins come off easily.
Cut and prep some wires and create extensions for the USB, ethernet and audio/video ports.
It's much easier if you tin the end of the wires, as well as the contacts on the components, and it makes bond together. If you're having trouble, use a helping hands stand to free up your hands.
I modified the keyboard, allowing it to be powered by the Pi instead of it's own battery. All you need to do is snip the red and black wires on the battery, being careful not to damage or puncture anything else. Be very careful with these lipo batteries, since they are volatile. Do not puncture or squash them.
I just added a 5v to 3.3v step down regulator to the battery contacts. Just add the red (voltage) and black (ground) wires to where they were for the battery. Again, tinning the end of the wires makes the soldering much quicker.
I also added a button switch to turn the backlight on and off. It doesn't matter what colors you use for this, just solder both ends of the button to each contact.
All this does is momentarily connects the contacts together once the button is pressed.
Now we need to prepare the case. I used two 2.5'" hard drive enclosures. They're super cheap and available on ebay and amazon
Again, this is pretty straight forward, but takes quite a bit of time. I measured and cut the top and bottom halves of the case, mostly with the hacksaw blade, then finished it with plastic sheeting and vinyl tape. If you have a Dremel, you can save a lot of time.
I added the piano hinge at the back and drilled a few holes for the wires. I affixed the hinge using a couple really small nuts and bolts.
I also glued on some rubber nubs to stop the screen overextending.
To reduce the height of the powerboost, cut the top of the JST battery connector off using the hacksaw or cutters.
Place everything in the case, and feed the wires between the bottom and top halves
Now you can solder everything together. I made sure the 2 battery wires went through different holes to minimize the risk of shorting if they break in the future.
It might seem like a lot of wires, but all you're doing is basically soldering the extensions onto where the components used to be on the board.
Close the case up, cross your fingers, and power the computer on.
You can output the video from it to a TV or monitor. Not the best resolution, but works nice for videos.
You now have a handheld Linux terminal fits in your back pocket. The i3 window manager, coupled with the touchscreen really helps free up space for multitasking.
John McCain's fundraiser busted for a meth lab with LSD, coke, heroin and counterfeit cash
House passes email protection billBy Zach NobleApr 27, 2016The House passed a bill on April 27 meant to close a loophole that had allowed feds to access Americans' old email messages from remote storage.
The Email Privacy Act would amend the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986. That Reagan-era law, which long predated the advent of cloud computing, enabled law enforcement agents to obtain customers' electronic communications from service providers without a warrant as long as those communications had been stored electronically for more than 180 days.
Under the Email Privacy Act, law enforcement agents would need a warrant to access those messages.
The bill passed without opposition under suspension of House rules. It was sponsored by 314 lawmakers, led by Reps. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) and Kevin Yoder (R-Kan.).
"The Email Privacy Act will update our archaic privacy laws for the 21st century and safeguard our Fourth Amendment rights," Polis said on the House floor. "I'm proud that the House has passed this commonsense bill, and I look forward to a swift passage in the Senate."
A companion bill is being sponsored in the Senate by Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.).
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) has held a hearing on the bill but has not indicated when the legislation might move through his committee to an eventual Senate vote.
Some agencies have objected to the bill because they say it could subject investigators pursuing environmental, antitrust and civil rights cases to a stricter standard when it comes to collecting evidence. Pushback from law enforcement helped spur an amendment that did away with a notification requirement during House committee discussions earlier this month.
The bill had garnered widespread support from the private sector, including backing from Google, Microsoft and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
About the Author
Zach Noble is a staff writer covering digital citizen services, workforce issues and a range of civilian federal agencies.
Before joining FCW in 2015, Noble served as assistant editor at the viral news site TheBlaze, where he wrote a mix of business, political and breaking news stories and managed weekend news coverage. He has also written for online and print publications including The Washington Free Beacon, The Santa Barbara News-Press, The Federalist and Washington Technology.
Noble is a graduate of Saint Vincent College, where he studied English, economics and mathematics.
Click here for previous articles by Noble, or connect with him on Twitter: @thezachnoble.
FBI will not share iPhone vulnerability in San Bernardino case
FBI will not share iPhone vulnerability in San Bernardino caseBy Sean LyngaasApr 27, 2016The FBI has opted not to submit the method used to unlock the Apple iPhone of one of the San Bernardino, Calif., shooters to an interagency review process for disclosing software vulnerabilities.
Bureau officials said they did not know enough about the technical details of the vulnerability exploited by an unidentified third party to submit the flaw for a meaningful review.
The decision casts new light on a review process that government officials say is rigorous and weighted toward disclosure but critics contend is subject to manipulation based on agencies' self-interests.
The Vulnerabilities Equities Process, led by White House Cybersecurity Coordinator Michael Daniel, reviews the zero-day, or previously unknown, software flaws that agencies discover to determine whether it is in U.S. interests to disclose them -- so that companies can issue patches -- or hold onto them for intelligence gathering.
"The FBI purchased the method from an outside party so that we could unlock the San Bernardino device," said Amy Hess, the FBI's executive assistant director for science and technology, in a statement. "We did not, however, purchase the rights to technical details about how the method functions, or the nature and extent of any vulnerability upon which the method may rely in order to operate. As a result, currently we do not have enough technical information about any vulnerability that would permit any meaningful review under the VEP process."
FBI Director James Comey strongly hinted last week that the bureau paid more than $1 million to a contractor to unlock an iPhone 5c used by Syed Rizwan Farook. In December, Farook and his wife murdered 14 people in San Bernardino and were later killed by police.
As of mid-April, law enforcement officials had found nothing of significance on the phone after unlocking it, CBS News reported.
"Whatever vulnerability the FBI was able to exploit to access the San Bernardino shooter's phone can theoretically be used by criminals, hackers and any organization -- foreign or domestic -- to access other similar iPhones,'' Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) said in a statement to FCW. "We are better off when encryption is stronger. That is why I believe the FBI should share the vulnerability with Apple so that it can be patched before any serious damage is done," he said.
Jason Healey, who was director for cyber infrastructure protection at the White House from 2003 to 2005, did not mince words when FCW asked for a reaction to the FBI's decision.
"It certainly seems possible, if not, likely, [that the] FBI arranged for this contract wording specifically to bypass" the disclosure process, said Healey, who is now a senior research scholar at Columbia University. "As such, they probably have tied the hands of the White House, specifically to subvert [President Barack Obama's] intent."
Obama has preferred that the administration generally disclose the software vulnerabilities it discovers, with a broad exception for those with a "clear national security or law enforcement need," the New York Times reported in April 2014.
Historically, the National Security Agency has revealed more than 91 percent of the vulnerabilities it has discovered, the agency said in a statement last year.
"It's a thoughtful discussion, trying to understand offensive capability but also understand the risk to the government in not disclosing that vulnerability," said Curt Dukes, head of NSA's Information Assurance Directorate, in a January interview with FCW.
NSA's Information Assurance and Signals Intelligence directorates try to agree on which vulnerabilities to disclose, but if they can't, NSA Director Adm. Michael Rogers makes the final decision, Dukes added.
The Apple/FBI standoff is the most high-profile case yet involving VEP, and security experts and privacy advocates are watching closely.
The FBI's decision not to submit the iPhone vulnerability to VEP "calls into serious question the White House's claim [that the process is] heavily weighted toward disclosure," said Kevin Bankston, director of New America's Open Technology Institute.
Hess said the FBI does not usually comment on whether a vulnerability is submitted to the interagency review process. However, bureau officials decided to break with convention due to "the extraordinary nature of this particular case" and the fact that the FBI had revealed publicly that it had exploited the vulnerability, she added.
About the Author
Sean Lyngaas is an FCW staff writer covering defense, cybersecurity and intelligence issues. Prior to joining FCW, he was a reporter and editor at Smart Grid Today, where he covered everything from cyber vulnerabilities in the U.S. electric grid to the national energy policies of Britain and Mexico. His reporting on a range of global issues has appeared in publications such as The Atlantic, The Economist, The Washington Diplomat and The Washington Post.
Lyngaas is an active member of the National Press Club, where he served as chairman of the Young Members Committee. He earned his M.A. in international affairs from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, and his B.A. in public policy from Duke University.
Click here for previous articles by Lyngaas, or connect with him on Twitter: @snlyngaas.
Exclusive: Half of Americans think presidential nominating system 'rigged' - poll | Reuters
A voter casts his ballot in the Pennsylvania primary at a polling place inside a firehouse in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S., April 26, 2016.
NEW YORK More than half of American voters believe that the system U.S. political parties use to pick their candidates for the White House is "rigged" and more than two-thirds want to see the process changed, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll.
The results echo complaints from Republican front-runner Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Bernie Sanders that the system is stacked against them in favor of candidates with close ties to their parties '' a critique that has triggered a nationwide debate over whether the process is fair.
The United States is one of just a handful of countries that gives regular voters any say in who should make it onto the presidential ballot. But the state-by-state system of primaries, caucuses and conventions is complex. The contests historically were always party events, and while the popular vote has grown in influence since the mid-20th century, the parties still have considerable sway.
One quirk of the U.S. system - and the area where the parties get to flex their muscle - is the use of delegates, party members who are assigned to support contenders at their respective conventions, usually based on voting results. The parties decide how delegates are awarded in each state, with the Republicans and Democrats having different rules.
The delegates' personal opinions can come into play at the party conventions if the race is too close to call - an issue that has become a lightning rod in the current political season.
Another complication is that state governments have different rules about whether voters must be registered as party members to participate. In some states, parties further restrict delegate selection to small committees of party elites, as the Republican Party in Colorado did this year.
"I'd prefer to see a one-man-one-vote system," said Royce Young, 76, a resident of Society Hill, South Carolina, who supports Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton. "The process is so flawed."
Trump has repeatedly railed against the rules, at times calling them undemocratic. After the Colorado Republican Party awarded all its delegates to Ted Cruz, for example, Trump lashed out in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece, charging "the system is being rigged by party operatives with 'double-agent' delegates who reject the decision of voters."
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus has dismissed Trump's complaints as ''rhetoric" and said the rules would not be changed before the Republican convention in July.
Trump swept the five Northeastern nominating contests on Tuesday in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Connecticut and Rhode Island. The New York billionaire has 950 delegates to 560 for Cruz, a U.S. senator from Texas, and 153 for Kasich, the Ohio governor, according to the Associated Press. A total of 1,237 delegates are needed to secure the Republican nomination.
On the Democratic side, Sanders, a U.S. senator from Vermont, has taken issue with the party's use of superdelegates, the hundreds of elite party members who can support whomever they like at the convention and who this year overwhelmingly back front-runner Hillary Clinton.
Clinton has repeatedly emphasized that she is beating Sanders in both total votes cast and in pledged delegates, those who are bound by the voting results - rendering his complaints about superdelegates moot.
On Tuesday, the former secretary of state won Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware and Connecticut, while Sanders won in Rhode Island. Clinton leads Sanders by 2,141 delegates to 1,321, according to the AP, with 2,383 needed to win the nomination.
Sanders has also criticized party bosses for not holding enough prime-time television debates and said before a string of primaries open only to registered Democrats this month that ''independents have lost their right to vote,'' referring to a voter block that has tended to favor him.
A Democratic National Committee official was not immediately available to comment.
Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics, said the U.S. presidential nominating system could probably be improved in a number of areas, but noted that the control wielded by party leadership usually became an issue only during tight races.
"The popular vote overwhelms the rules usually, but in these close elections, everyone pays attention to these arcane rules," he said.
Some 51 percent of likely voters who responded to the April 21-26 online survey said they believed the primary system was "rigged" against some candidates. Some 71 percent of respondents said they would prefer to pick their party's nominee with a direct vote, cutting out the use of delegates as intermediaries.
The results also showed 27 percent of likely voters did not understand how the primary process works and 44 percent did not understand why delegates were involved in the first place. The responses were about the same for Republicans and Democrats.
Overall, nearly half said they would also prefer a single primary day in which all states held their nominating contests together - as opposed to the current system of spreading them out for months.
The poll included 1,582 Americans and had a credibility interval of 2.9 percentage points.
(Editing by Richard Valdmanis and Leslie Adler)
SPOOK? Grammar Goomba-\Mona Chalabi | The Guardian
Mona Chalabi is data editor at Guardian US. She previously worked at FiveThirtyEight, the Bank of England, the Economist Intelligence Unit, Transparency International and the International Organisation for Migration.Follow her on Twitter @MonaChalabi and on Instagram @Mona_Chalabi
Google Public Policy Blog: A Landmark Vote for Electronic Privacy
Posted by Richard Salgado, Director, Law Enforcement and Information SecurityThe House of Representatives' unanimous (419-0) passage of the Email Privacy Act (H.R. 699) is a decisive victory for Internet users, who deserve the highest privacy protections when governmental entities seek access to their data. The unanimous approval of the Email Privacy Act is a testament to the broad bipartisan support for this commonsense reform. Representatives Yoder (R-Kan.), Polis (D-Colo.), Goodlatte (R-Va.), and Conyers (D-Mich.) have been real leaders in helping to shepherd this important bill through the House of Representatives.
Enacted in 1986, ECPA makes distinctions that simply don't match with what users reasonably should expect of privacy in 2016. An email, for example, may receive more robust privacy protections under ECPA depending on how old it is or whether it is in an opened or unopened state. Users don't and shouldn't expect that communications they send through or information they store with a provider will enjoy lower privacy protection based on these arbitrary and nonsensical distinctions.
The Email Privacy Act replaces the confusing array of rules that govern when the government can compel a provider to disclose user information with a simple warrant-for-content rule. In many ways, the Email Privacy Act is a modest, though important, codification of the status quo; it implements the 6th Circuit's conclusion in 2010 that ECPA is unconstitutional to the extent it would permit the government to compel a service provider to disclose to the government a user's electronic communications content without a warrant. This warrant-for-content rule has been observed by Google and other companies and the government alike since 2010.
The version of the Email Privacy Act that passed the House of Representatives today is the result of robust debate to address a broad array of competing concerns. We urge the Senate to move swiftly toward passage of this bill, and to reject further changes that would weaken the warrant-for-content rule reflected in the Email Privacy Act.
Text - H.R.699 - 114th Congress (2015-2016): Email Privacy Act | Congress.gov | Library of Congress
To amend title 18, United States Code, to update the privacy protections for electronic communications information that is stored by third-party service providers in order to protect consumer privacy interests while meeting law enforcement needs, and for other purposes.
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
February 4, 2015
Mr. Yoder (for himself, Mr. Polis, Mr. Aderholt, Mr. Allen, Mr. Amash, Mr. Amodei, Mr. Babin, Mr. Barletta, Mr. Barr, Mr. Barton, Mr. Benishek, Mr. Beyer, Mr. Bilirakis, Mr. Bishop of Utah, Mrs. Black, Mrs. Blackburn, Mr. Blum, Ms. Bonamici, Mr. Boustany, Mr. Brady of Texas, Mr. Brooks of Alabama, Ms. Brown of Florida, Ms. Brownley of California, Mr. Buchanan, Mr. Bucshon, Mr. Burgess, Mr. Byrne, Mr. Calvert, Mrs. Capps, Mr. Capuano, Mr. Crdenas, Mr. Carter of Georgia, Mr. Cartwright, Mr. Chabot, Mr. Chaffetz, Ms. Chu of California, Mr. Cicilline, Ms. Clark of Massachusetts, Ms. Clarke of New York, Mr. Clawson of Florida, Mr. Cleaver, Mr. Cohen, Mr. Cole, Mr. Collins of New York, Mr. Connolly, Mr. Conyers, Mr. Cramer, Mr. Crenshaw, Mr. Culberson, Mr. Cummings, Mr. Curbelo of Florida, Mr. Rodney Davis of Illinois, Mr. Danny K. Davis of Illinois, Mr. DeFazio, Ms. DeGette, Ms. DelBene, Mr. Denham, Mr. Dent, Mr. DeSaulnier, Mr. DesJarlais, Mr. Deutch, Mr. Diaz-Balart, Mr. Dold, Mr. Michael F. Doyle of Pennsylvania, Ms. Duckworth, Mr. Duffy, Mr. Duncan of South Carolina, Mr. Duncan of Tennessee, Ms. Edwards, Mr. Ellison, Mrs. Ellmers, Mr. Emmer, Ms. Eshoo, Ms. Esty, Mr. Farenthold, Mr. Farr, Mr. Fitzpatrick, Mr. Fleischmann, Mr. Flores, Mr. Fortenberry, Mr. Franks of Arizona, Mr. Frelinghuysen, Ms. Fudge, Ms. Gabbard, Mr. Garamendi, Mr. Garrett, Mr. Gibbs, Mr. Gibson, Mr. Gosar, Mr. Gowdy, Mr. Graves of Georgia, Mr. Grijalva, Mr. Grothman, Mr. Guinta, Mr. Guthrie, Mr. Hanna, Mr. Harris, Mrs. Hartzler, Mr. Hastings, Ms. Herrera Beutler, Mr. Hill, Mr. Himes, Mr. Honda, Mr. Hudson, Mr. Huelskamp, Mr. Huizenga of Michigan, Mr. Hultgren, Mr. Hunter, Mr. Hurd of Texas, Mr. Israel, Ms. Jackson Lee, Ms. Jenkins of Kansas, Mr. Johnson of Georgia, Mr. Jolly, Mr. Jones, Mr. Jordan, Mr. Joyce, Ms. Kaptur, Mr. Kilmer, Mr. Kinzinger of Illinois, Ms. Kuster, Mr. Labrador, Mr. LaMalfa, Mr. Lance, Mr. Latta, Ms. Lee, Mr. Levin, Mr. Lewis, Mr. Lipinski, Mr. LoBiondo, Mr. Long, Mr. Loudermilk, Mrs. Love, Mr. Lowenthal, Mr. Luetkemeyer, Mr. Ben Ray Lujn of New Mexico, Ms. Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico, Mrs. Lummis, Mr. Marchant, Mr. Marino, Mr. Massie, Mr. McClintock, Ms. McCollum, Mr. McDermott, Mr. McGovern, Mr. McHenry, Mr. McKinley, Mr. Meadows, Mr. Meehan, Mr. Meeks, Mr. Messer, Mr. Moolenaar, Mr. Mullin, Mr. Mulvaney, Mr. Nadler, Mr. Newhouse, Mrs. Noem, Mr. Nolan, Ms. Norton, Mr. Nugent, Mr. Nunes, Mr. Olson, Mr. O'Rourke, Mr. Palazzo, Mr. Paulsen, Mr. Pearce, Mr. Pocan, Mr. Poe of Texas, Mr. Poliquin, Mr. Pompeo, Mr. Posey, Mr. Quigley, Mr. Rangel, Mr. Reed, Mr. Ribble, Mr. Rice of South Carolina, Mrs. Roby, Mr. Roe of Tennessee, Mr. Rokita, Mr. Rooney of Florida, Mr. Rouzer, Mr. Ruiz, Mr. Rush, Mr. Ryan of Ohio, Mr. Sablan, Mr. Salmon, Mr. Sanford, Mr. Scalise, Mr. Schock, Mr. Schrader, Mr. Schweikert, Mr. Austin Scott of Georgia, Mr. Scott of Virginia, Mr. Sensenbrenner, Mr. Serrano, Mr. Sessions, Mr. Shuster, Mr. Simpson, Ms. Slaughter, Mr. Smith of Missouri, Mr. Smith of Texas, Ms. Speier, Mr. Stivers, Mr. Stutzman, Mr. Swalwell of California, Mr. Takano, Mr. Thompson of Pennsylvania, Mr. Tiberi, Mr. Tipton, Mr. Tonko, Ms. Tsongas, Mr. Turner, Mr. Valadao, Mrs. Wagner, Mr. Walker, Mr. Weber of Texas, Mr. Webster of Florida, Mr. Welch, Mr. Wenstrup, Mr. Westerman, Mr. Whitfield, Mr. Williams, Mr. Wilson of South Carolina, Mr. Womack, Mr. Yarmuth, Mr. Yoho, Mr. Young of Indiana, Mr. Young of Iowa, Ms. Granger, Mr. McNerney, Mr. Richmond, Miss Rice of New York, Mr. Sherman, and Ms. Pingree) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary
April 26, 2016
Additional sponsors: Mr. Hensarling, Mr. Costello of Pennsylvania, Mr. Butterfield, Mr. Bishop of Georgia, Mr. Young of Alaska, Mr. Ted Lieu of California, Mr. Fattah, Ms. Stefanik, Ms. Eddie Bernice Johnson of Texas, Mr. Doggett, Mr. Gene Green of Texas, Mr. Norcross, Mr. Johnson of Ohio, Mr. Perlmutter, Mr. Brat, Mr. Collins of Georgia, Mrs. McMorris Rodgers, Mr. Sean Patrick Maloney of New York, Ms. McSally, Ms. Roybal-Allard, Mr. Katko, Mrs. Comstock, Mrs. Lawrence, Mr. Tom Price of Georgia, Mr. Mooney of West Virginia, Mr. Westmoreland, Mr. Neal, Mrs. Torres, Ms. Sinema, Ms. Moore, Mr. Bost, Mr. Foster, Mr. Blumenauer, Mr. Kelly of Pennsylvania, Mr. Conaway, Mr. Renacci, Mr. Miller of Florida, Mr. Fleming, Mr. MacArthur, Mr. Engel, Mr. Smith of Washington, Mr. Vargas, Mrs. Mimi Walters of California, Mr. Carson of Indiana, Mr. Perry, Mr. Woodall, Mr. Lucas, Mr. Fincher, Mr. Rohrabacher, Mr. Bishop of Michigan, Ms. Schakowsky, Mr. Al Green of Texas, Mr. Griffith, Mr. Stewart, Mr. Jeffries, Mr. Bridenstine, Ms. Bass, Mr. Roskam, Mrs. Dingell, Mr. Rogers of Kentucky, Mr. Ratcliffe, Mr. Coffman, Mr. Graves of Missouri, Mr. Guti(C)rrez, Mr. Lamborn, Mr. Harper, Mr. Zeldin, Mrs. Beatty, Mr. Payne, Mr. Walberg, Mrs. Carolyn B. Maloney of New York, Mr. Trott, Mr. Jody B. Hice of Georgia, Mr. Kind, Mr. Rothfus, Mrs. Napolitano, Mr. Grayson, Mr. Heck of Nevada, Mr. Price of North Carolina, Mr. Heck of Washington, and Mr. Sam Johnson of Texas
April 26, 2016
Reported with an amendment, committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the State of the Union, and ordered to be printed
[Strike out all after the enacting clause and insert the part printed in italic]
[For text of introduced bill, see copy of bill as introduced on February 4, 2015]
To amend title 18, United States Code, to update the privacy protections for electronic communications information that is stored by third-party service providers in order to protect consumer privacy interests while meeting law enforcement needs, and for other purposes.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,SECTION 1.Short title.
This Act may be cited as the ''Email Privacy Act''.
SEC. 2.Voluntary disclosure corrections.
(a) In general.'--Section 2702 of title 18, United States Code, is amended'--
(1) in subsection (a)'--
(A) in paragraph (1)'--
(i) by striking ''divulge'' and inserting ''disclose'';
(ii) by striking ''while in electronic storage by that service'' and inserting ''that is in electronic storage with or otherwise stored, held, or maintained by that service'';
(B) in paragraph (2)'--
(i) by striking ''to the public'';
(ii) by striking ''divulge'' and inserting ''disclose''; and
(iii) by striking ''which is carried or maintained on that service'' and inserting ''that is stored, held, or maintained by that service''; and
(C) in paragraph (3)'--
(i) by striking ''divulge'' and inserting ''disclose''; and
(ii) by striking ''a provider of'' and inserting ''a person or entity providing''
(2) in subsection (b)'--
(A) in the matter preceding paragraph (1), by inserting ''wire or electronic'' before ''communication'';
(B) by amending paragraph (1) to read as follows:
''(1) to an originator, addressee, or intended recipient of such communication, to the subscriber or customer on whose behalf the provider stores, holds, or maintains such communication, or to an agent of such addressee, intended recipient, subscriber, or customer;''; and
(C) by amending paragraph (3) to read as follows:
''(3) with the lawful consent of the originator, addressee, or intended recipient of such communication, or of the subscriber or customer on whose behalf the provider stores, holds, or maintains such communication;'';
(3) in subsection (c) by inserting ''wire or electronic'' before ''communications'';
(4) in each of subsections (b) and (c), by striking ''divulge'' and inserting ''disclose''; and
(5) in subsection (c), by amending paragraph (2) to read as follows:
''(2) with the lawful consent of the subscriber or customer;''.
SEC. 3.Amendments to required disclosure section.
Section 2703 of title 18, United States Code, is amended'--
(1) by striking subsections (a) through (c) and inserting the following:
''(a) Contents of wire or electronic communications in electronic storage.'--Except as provided in subsections (i) and (j), a governmental entity may require the disclosure by a provider of electronic communication service of the contents of a wire or electronic communication that is in electronic storage with or otherwise stored, held, or maintained by that service only if the governmental entity obtains a warrant issued using the procedures described in the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure (or, in the case of a State court, issued using State warrant procedures) that'--
''(1) is issued by a court of competent jurisdiction; and
''(2) may indicate the date by which the provider must make the disclosure to the governmental entity.
In the absence of a date on the warrant indicating the date by which the provider must make disclosure to the governmental entity, the provider shall promptly respond to the warrant.''(b) Contents of wire or electronic communications in a remote computing service.'--
''(1) IN GENERAL.'--Except as provided in subsections (i) and (j), a governmental entity may require the disclosure by a provider of remote computing service of the contents of a wire or electronic communication that is stored, held, or maintained by that service only if the governmental entity obtains a warrant issued using the procedures described in the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure (or, in the case of a State court, issued using State warrant procedures) that'--
''(A) is issued by a court of competent jurisdiction; and
''(B) may indicate the date by which the provider must make the disclosure to the governmental entity.
In the absence of a date on the warrant indicating the date by which the provider must make disclosure to the governmental entity, the provider shall promptly respond to the warrant.
''(2) APPLICABILITY.'--Paragraph (1) is applicable with respect to any wire or electronic communication that is stored, held, or maintained by the provider'--
''(A) on behalf of, and received by means of electronic transmission from (or created by means of computer processing of communication received by means of electronic transmission from), a subscriber or customer of such remote computing service; and
''(B) solely for the purpose of providing storage or computer processing services to such subscriber or customer, if the provider is not authorized to access the contents of any such communications for purposes of providing any services other than storage or computer processing.
''(c) Records concerning electronic communication service or remote computing service.'--
''(1) IN GENERAL.'--Except as provided in subsections (i) and (j), a governmental entity may require the disclosure by a provider of electronic communication service or remote computing service of a record or other information pertaining to a subscriber to or customer of such service (not including the contents of wire or electronic communications), only'--
''(A) if a governmental entity obtains a warrant issued using the procedures described in the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure (or, in the case of a State court, issued using State warrant procedures) that'--
''(i) is issued by a court of competent jurisdiction directing the disclosure; and
''(ii) may indicate the date by which the provider must make the disclosure to the governmental entity;
''(B) if a governmental entity obtains a court order directing the disclosure under subsection (d);
''(C) with the lawful consent of the subscriber or customer; or
''(D) as otherwise authorized in paragraph (2).
''(2) SUBSCRIBER OR CUSTOMER INFORMATION.'--A provider of electronic communication service or remote computing service shall, in response to an administrative subpoena authorized by Federal or State statute, a grand jury, trial, or civil discovery subpoena, or any means available under paragraph (1), disclose to a governmental entity the'--
''(C) local and long distance telephone connection records, or records of session times and durations;
''(D) length of service (including start date) and types of service used;
''(E) telephone or instrument number or other subscriber or customer number or identity, including any temporarily assigned network address; and
''(F) means and source of payment for such service (including any credit card or bank account number);
of a subscriber or customer of such service.
''(3) NOTICE NOT REQUIRED.'--A governmental entity that receives records or information under this subsection is not required to provide notice to a subscriber or customer.'';
(2) in subsection (d)'--
(A) by striking ''(b) or'';
(B) by striking ''the contents of a wire or electronic communication, or'';
(C) by striking ''sought,'' and inserting ''sought''; and
(D) by striking ''section'' and inserting ''subsection''; and
(3) by adding at the end the following:
''(h) Notice.'--Except as provided in section 2705, a provider of electronic communication service or remote computing service may notify a subscriber or customer of a receipt of a warrant, court order, subpoena, or request under subsection (a), (b), (c), or (d) of this section.
''(i) Rule of construction related to legal process.'--Nothing in this section or in section 2702 shall limit the authority of a governmental entity to use an administrative subpoena authorized by Federal or State statute, a grand jury, trial, or civil discovery subpoena, or a warrant issued using the procedures described in the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure (or, in the case of a State court, issued using State warrant procedures) by a court of competent jurisdiction to'--
''(1) require an originator, addressee, or intended recipient of a wire or electronic communication to disclose a wire or electronic communication (including the contents of that communication) to the governmental entity;
''(2) require a person or entity that provides an electronic communication service to the officers, directors, employees, or agents of the person or entity (for the purpose of carrying out their duties) to disclose a wire or electronic communication (including the contents of that communication) to or from the person or entity itself or to or from an officer, director, employee, or agent of the entity to a governmental entity, if the wire or electronic communication is stored, held, or maintained on an electronic communications system owned, operated, or controlled by the person or entity; or
''(3) require a person or entity that provides a remote computing service or electronic communication service to disclose a wire or electronic communication (including the contents of that communication) that advertises or promotes a product or service and that has been made readily accessible to the general public.
''(j) Rule of construction related to Congressional subpoenas.'--Nothing in this section or in section 2702 shall limit the power of inquiry vested in the Congress by Article I of the Constitution of the United States, including the authority to compel the production of a wire or electronic communication (including the contents of a wire or electronic communication) that is stored, held, or maintained by a person or entity that provides remote computing service or electronic communication service.''.
SEC. 4.Delayed notice.
Section 2705 of title 18, United States Code, is amended to read as follows:
''§ 2705.Delayed notice
''(a) In general.'--A governmental entity acting under section 2703 may apply to a court for an order directing a provider of electronic communication service or remote computing service to which a warrant, order, subpoena, or other directive under section 2703 is directed not to notify any other person of the existence of the warrant, order, subpoena, or other directive.
''(b) Determination.'--A court shall grant a request for an order made under subsection (a) for delayed notification of up to 180 days if the court determines that there is reason to believe that notification of the existence of the warrant, order, subpoena, or other directive will likely result in'--
''(1) endangering the life or physical safety of an individual;
''(2) flight from prosecution;
''(3) destruction of or tampering with evidence;
''(4) intimidation of potential witnesses; or
''(5) otherwise seriously jeopardizing an investigation or unduly delaying a trial.
''(c) Extension.'--Upon request by a governmental entity, a court may grant one or more extensions, for periods of up to 180 days each, of an order granted in accordance with subsection (b).''.
SEC. 5.Rule of construction.
Nothing in this Act or an amendment made by this Act shall be construed to preclude the acquisition by the United States Government of'--
(1) the contents of a wire or electronic communication pursuant to other lawful authorities, including the authorities under chapter 119 of title 18 (commonly known as the ''Wiretap Act''), the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (50 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.), or any other provision of Federal law not specifically amended by this Act; or
(2) records or other information relating to a subscriber or customer of any electronic communication service or remote computing service (not including the content of such communications) pursuant to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (50 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.), chapter 119 of title 18 (commonly known as the ''Wiretap Act''), or any other provision of Federal law not specifically amended by this Act.
Union Calendar No. 408
114th CONGRESS 2d Session
H. R. 699
[Report No. 114''528]
To amend title 18, United States Code, to update the privacy protections for electronic communications information that is stored by third-party service providers in order to protect consumer privacy interests while meeting law enforcement needs, and for other purposes.
April 26, 2016
Reported with an amendment, committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the State of the Union, and ordered to be printed
The Chronicle has been aggressive about its issues with Uber for a while now, but I don't much share in those sentiments. I've used Uber both within this country and abroad. Mostly it has been a terrific experience, though the quality of the service is already noticeably deteriorating. Still, the recent controversy has been intriguing. Austin does not go easily into anything, which is probably not as terrible a situation as some would have you think.
The pushback against Uber, Lyft, and Airbnb as well as other collaborative civilian-based innovations where businesses are integrated into the community (renting rooms in houses we live in, chauffeuring passengers in our family car) has arisen from a number of sources '' notably and most aggressively, from the established industries that are being threatened. The integrity of neighborhoods and progressive, pro-labor practices are rallying points in this changing economy. And of course there's been the predictable Luddite pushback against any change.
Certainly in our world in weekly print media, Craigslist took away much of our classified advertising, and a number of online alternatives gained the long-lucrative Personals business. The web also proved far more inexpensive and effective for what I like to refer to as the non-licensed massage therapist trade. I was party to both those disturbing developments, and by the time we noticed what was happening it was far too late to do anything. Maybe if we had been doing a better job or were more on top of evolving technology, we might have improvised and improved those areas. Although what we might have done differently I really can't suggest. Even if we had aggressively switched to new online models, it wouldn't have helped much because many of those services still generate no real revenue.
But my current dislike, nay revulsion, at the pro-Prop. 1 campaign is neither sour grapes nor a deeply held distrust of Uber and Lyft. Instead it is because the campaign is so completely dishonest. When someone is lying to you about something, it is usually best not to endorse and empower them.
Let's be clear: Political opinions different from one's own are not inherently lies, though in the current charged political atmosphere one often hears that accusation hurled. The lies here are blatant as they state, if you don't like Uber and want to mess with them, vote yes on Prop. 1. On social media and in traditional media there is a concerted effort to mislead and deceive as to the crafters' purpose and intent with the proposition. I don't even have that big an issue with a private company upset by public policy initiating a petition drive to get a proposition on the ballot. But a deliberate campaign of deception is self-condemning. If they just told the truth, are they concerned that voters might not approve Prop. 1? Instead they are all things to all people. You like and support Uber and Lyft, then vote yes. You don't like and don't support them, vote yes.
When theirs is a coordinated campaign lying to you, it is because they don't trust you, and they think you are easily manipulated. Why on Earth would anyone vote to endorse that view?
It has to be noted that there are many individuals in favor of Prop. 1 (and it is also tiresome when the anti-Prop. 1 people accuse anyone who holds a differing view of being a company shill or paid proponent) for a wide variety of reasons. A number believe that regulations are inherently destructive to a free market, ultimately costing beleaguered taxpayers even more. This is not just simplistic but demonstratively false. There are all kinds of regulations that do create more problems than they solve '' some happening from misunderstanding a market dynamic, others from overly aggressive consumer groups, and many because ever-evolving businesses and services render once-reasonable restrictions meaningless or inappropriate or both. It's important to keep in mind that many regulations are driven by the very businesses they concern as a way to get the government to limit competition. But every day in every way there is a huge catalog of legislated regulations, requirements, and specifications that improve our and our communities' lives.
Some complain about almost all government. I suspect a majority of Americans feel overtaxed and underserved. The reality is most Americans don't pay enough taxes to cover the services they get from the government. Admittedly believers of all political stripes wish that government offered a serve-yourself buffet. Liberals feel too much of their taxes go to military spending, certain fiscal conservatives remain outraged at welfare and extensive social services, and others bitch about public education, including those that feel almost any government service would be better served by the private sector.
If we really believe in a functioning democratic (small d) republic, then the elected government inherently represents all of us. It is not supposed to express the will of every individual voter or even the rule of the majority. But ideally our elected leaders do what they think is best for our country and community.
Obviously, there seem to be several rather vast political movements that believe our current government at all levels is everything but functioning. Even the most die-hard supporters of representative government get up in arms when they don't like government actions. Lately this is very rarely attributed to differing opinions, misguided impulse, or legislators doing what they believe is best. Almost always, a legislator voting differently from a constituent's desires is regarded by that individual as corrupt and mendacious, with the most benign description being stupidity.
Rather than accepting our ownership of our government, it is explained that this government is no longer ours. Obviously there is great cause for concern over conscious, widespread voter suppression and disenfranchisement. These areas demand investigation.
But though we may not like the government, we vote for it. Incumbents are responsible for current governance. The electorate is unhappy with the government. But more often than not they return these incumbents to office (and term limits are anti-democratic exiles that will create far more problems than they solve). There is not some hidden alien force hidden away that emerges on election day to elect the least qualified.
Certainly, a pronounced pessimism over the current political scene is warranted. Cruz vs. Trump among the Republicans, and the vitriol between the Clinton and Sanders camps make politics seem more like the WWF, as my friend Fab Five Freddy observed, than any kind of campaign of ideas, dignity, and mutual respect.
I personally despair over Sanders and Clinton supporters saying they will sit this election out or vote for a third party candidate if it isn't their candidate '' a recipe for disaster.
Here in Austin, the electoral situation is clearer. An enormous amount of money and media persuasion is in the mix, but ultimately rather than trusting the voters and just making their case, supporters are pretending that regardless of your specific concerns, voting for Prop. 1 will achieve them. Even if you support the argument in its favor, you have to be concerned about the dishonesty of the campaign.
ISIS militants enter Sweden to 'target civilians' Stockholm | Daily Mail Online
An ISIS terror cell has reportedly entered Sweden and is planning on carrying out acts of terror in its capital.
'Seven or eight' ISIS terrorists are already in the country with the aim of attacking civilian targets in Stockholm, according to Iraqi security services.
Sweden has the second highest 'ISIS fighters per capita' in the EU, with intelligence services identifying around 300 who have left the country to join jihadists in the Middle East since 2013.
Warning: A cell of 'seven or eight' ISIS terrorists are already in Sweden and planning on carrying out a terrorist attack in the capital, according to Iraqi security services
'Swedish security service has received information from Iraqi security officials that seven to eight ISIS terrorists have entered Sweden to carry out acts of terror in Stockholm,' Expressen reports.
'According to the information, the terrorists are planning to attack civilian targets in the capital.'
The Swedish Security Service, national task force and the Stockholm Police have officially gone into a 'heightened state of readiness' after acting on the Iraqi intelligence, Swedish media reports.
While the Swedish Security Service (S¤kerhetspolisen) would not confirm the reports in both Expressen and Aftonbladet - Scandinavia's biggest tabloid newspapers - but said they are working on analysing the intelligence received.
The Swedish Security Service said in a statement that although it is not unusual to receive intelligence of this nature, in this case it was judged that action had to be taken.
Under threat: ISIS's plan is reportedly to strike against civilians in the Swedish capital of Stockholm
According to Expressen, Swedish security officials travelled to Iraq on Monday to try to get more information on the planned terror attack.
'The Swedish Security Service receive this kind of information relatively often in all of our areas of operation,' a statement reads.
'While sometimes it is more or less reliable, sometimes more or less concrete, it has been ruled that this information is of such character that it can not be dismissed.'
Sweden has the second most ISIS fighters per capita in the EU, second only to Belgium, recent statistics show.
Sweden has the second highest number of ISIS fighters per capita in the European Union with 300 people having left the country to fight for the terrorist group in Iraq and Syria since 2013
Some 300 people have left Sweden to join the terrorist organisation in Iraq and Syria in the past two years.
Around half of these are from the city of Gothenburg, Sweden's second largest city with a population of around 500,000 people.
This makes Gothenburg the European city which, in proportion to population, 'contributes the highest number of people to violent extremism,' Swedish integration police chief Ulf Bostr¶m said last year, branding it 'ISIS's recruiting ground in the EU'.
The current threat is reportedly only concerning the capital Stockholm.
Captions:In the MorningA message for all Human ResourcesDo not be fooled by the bogative propogandaof mainstream media.They will try to distract youwith the distraction of the day.I am here to hit you in the mouth with truth.Listen to the Guardians of Reality deconstruct the mediaContinue to spread the message.Donate to the No Agenda show.visit www.dvorak.org/naand Thank You for your courage.
Child porn suspect jailed indefinitely for refusing to decrypt hard drives | Ars Technica
A Philadelphia man suspected of possessing child pornography has been in jail for seven months and counting after being found in contempt of a court order demanding that he decrypt two password-protected hard drives.
The suspect, a former Philadelphia Police Department sergeant, has not been charged with any child porn crimes. Instead, he remains indefinitely imprisoned in Philadelphia's Federal Detention Center for refusing to unlock two drives encrypted with Apple's FileVault software in a case that once again highlights the extent to which the authorities are going to crack encrypted devices. The man is to remain jailed "until such time that he fully complies" with the decryption order.
The suspect's attorney, Federal Public Defender Keith Donoghue, urged a federal appeals court on Tuesday to release his client immediately, pending the outcome of appeals. "Not only is he presently being held without charges, but he has never in his life been charged with a crime," Donoghue wrote (PDF) in his brief to the 3rd US Circuit Court of Appeals.
The government successfully cited a 1789 law known as the All Writs Act to compel (PDF) the suspect to decrypt two hard drives it believes contain child pornography. The All Writs Act was the same law the Justice Department asserted in its legal battle with Apple, in which a magistrate ordered the gadget maker to write code to assist the authorities in unlocking the iPhone used by one of two shooters who killed 14 people at a San Bernardino County government building in December. The authorities dropped that case after they paid a reported $1 million for a hack.
Donoghue wrote that his client's "first claim is that the district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction. The claim stems from the government's apparently unprecedented use of an unusual procedural vehicle to attempt to compel a suspect to give evidence in advance of potential criminal charges. Specifically, the government took resort not to a grand jury, but to a magistrate judge pursuant to the All Writs Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1651."
The defense also claims that "compelling the target of a criminal investigation to recall and divulge an encryption passcode transgresses the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination."
The Supreme Court has never addressed the compelled decryption issue. But Donoghue says the court came close in 2000 when it said a suspect cannot be forced "to disclose the sequence of numbers that will open a combination lock." A federal appeals court ruled in 2012, however, that a bank-fraud defendant must decrypt her laptop, but the ruling wasn't enforced as the authorities obtained the password elsewhere.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation has weighed in on the suspect's plight, telling the circuit court in a friend-of-the-court brief (PDF) that "compelled decryption is inherently testimonial because it compels a suspect to use the contents of their mind to translate unintelligible evidence into a form that can be used against them. The Fifth Amendment provides an absolute privilege against such self-incriminating compelled decryption."
The authorities have called two witnesses. One was the suspect's sister who claimed she looked at child pornography with her brother at his house. The other was a forensic examiner who testified that it was his "best guess" that child pornography was on the drives," Donoghue wrote. The investigation began in 2015 when Pennsylvania prosecutors were monitoring the online network Freenet and executed a search warrant of the man's home.
Donoghue wrote that investigators had decrypted a Mac Pro using a recovery key discovered on the iPhone 5S the authorities seized from his client's residence. He said no child pornography was found. The authorities want the suspect to decrypt two external drives discovered in the search.
BERLIN '-- Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday replaced the chief of Germany's foreign intelligence service. The move caught many by surprise as Europe faces growing pressure from Islamist terrorism and as the chancellor looks ahead to a general election next year.
Peter Altmaier, Ms. Merkel's chief of staff, said the decision to replace the spy chief, Gerhard Schindler, was a response to the challenges the intelligence agency faced, including new security threats and reforms being considered by a parliamentary oversight committee.
The committee was formed after revelations by Edward J. Snowden, a former contractor for the National Security Agency, that Washington had tapped the chancellor's personal cellphone in 2013. Last year, agents in Mr. Schindler's agency told the committee that they had carried out searches at the behest of the National Security Agency, without questioning whether they were in compliance with German law.
It also came to light last year that German agents had spied on domestic and European companies, further fueling outrage among Germans.
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Germany and the United States have clashed repeatedly over spying, but Mr. Schindler had managed to weather the uproar set off by each revelation.
Wednesday's announcement thus came as a surprise to many, even within Ms. Merkel's party.
''I am shocked,'' Stephan Mayer, a member of the chancellor's Christian Democrats, told ARD, a public broadcaster.
Ms. Merkel has sought to mend her country's differences with Washington over intelligence gathering, but many Germans still believe that she has not done enough. Lawmakers have been debating a bill that would overhaul the foreign intelligence agency, giving Parliament more control over its actions and requiring increased transparency.
Mr. Schindler, 63, who was to retire in two years, will be replaced on July 1 by Bruno Kahl, an official from the Finance Ministry.
Opposition lawmakers voiced concern that the change could endanger the push to enact changes at the agency.
One of the surprising things I've learned writing a column about random grocery store food items that seem ''weird'' or ''gross'' is that there's a strong potential for cultural insensitivity. The subjectivity of ''ew!'' can be touchy ground if you overthink it.I have yet to receive any angry emails from anyone peeved at the ''WTF!'' columns about food popular in their cultures. but in researching (i.e. ''googling'') strange-to-me food items, inevitably I discover that most things I deem gross (to be fair, I taste my curiosity and so far have come out on the ''not too bad'' side) have a huge fanbase somewhere.
Goetta. Skyline. Larosa's pizza sauce. These are things I've eaten my entire life, like bread and water. But I can wholeheartedly understand why those things, when described to people outside of the Cincinnati area, elicit an ''ew." I'd feel ridiculous to ever get offended by that.
So, I decided, screw it '-- I'm going all in. With apologies to my Jewish brothers and sisters right up front (Mazel Tov!), I decided to do my first Gefilte Fish tasting. As I gazed at the grey, testicle-like globules floating seasick in city-river-cloudy water (seriously? a clear jar?), I have to admit I expected my first column-related vomit session. Just in time for Passover!
Praying that the serving directions weren't ''Squeeze one out and pop that sucker in your mouth,'' I searched for some preparation suggestions, a few that even sounded mildly appealing.
but most of the recipes had some sort of ''it won't actually be good; it is Gefilte Fish, you know'' disclaimer. I felt less guilty about my unshakable disgust to discover that some see it as the misfit toy of the Seder table. It's known as ''filthy fish.'' Lovingly, I'm sure.
I grabbed from the omnipotent (at least in the Passover display) Manischewitz collection of Gefilte Fish at Bigg's. Vowing to go the easiest route (it's the purist in me) with prep work, my heart sank when the Manischewitz web site instructed me that the fish ''can be eaten directly from the jar.'' Somewhat apologetically it also offered, ''it is very good with a salad.'' (Say it in an old Jewish man's voice in your head.)
Have you ever been cliff-diving? When jumping 30 or so feet into a lake, the seconds before you jump you realize the power of your brain, which you can practically feel telling you, ''This is not what you should be doing.'' That was what it was like getting ready to eat Gefilte Fish. The odor is instant and dank. The texture is bumpy and turdy. It's very light and airy and looks like chicken when sliced open.
With the encouragement of knowing that the faster I eat it the faster I can get rid of its putrid smell, I finally stuck the fork in.
It may have been the most difficult thing i have ever eaten. As it hit my mouth, I pinpointed what that smell and gelatinous consistency reminded me of: canned cat food. I've never eaten cat food (or dog food, for the record), but I imagine it's not much different. The closest consistency I've ever experienced before is deviled ham. I imagine it's like Spam. Jewish Spam! There's a little peppery, lingering spice to the grainy spread. The fishiness is in there somewhere, buried. It's probably better that way. (While I didn't vomit, it was a little dicey there for a minute.)
I know that many people love Gefilte Fish, or maybe it's just a religious obligation. Either way, my apologies if you're offended by my taste buds and occasionally uneasy stomach. And get in touch with me '-- I have a jar of five fish globs with your name on it.
Now what do Buddhists eat'...
LOST IN THE SUPERMARKET is a monthly column devoted to exploring weird and weirdly named foods. Suggest what Mike should try next: email@example.com
Shawarmageddon: Moscow authorities threaten to ban kebabs | World news | The Guardian
Authorities in Moscow have threatened to finally outlaw the city's beloved shawarma kebabs, claiming that the stalls that sell them have repeatedly failed to comply with sanitation standards.
''We are ridding the streets of all shawarma. It's going to disappear completely,'' city official Alexey Nemeryuk told Russian radio station Komsomolskaya Pravda.
The head of the Moscow department of trade and services added that kiosk owners had refused ''to bear even the slightest costs of maintaining proper sanitation standards''.
Nemeryuk later told TV Rain that his comments had been misinterpreted and that he wasn't calling for a ban on all stalls, just one in particular.
But the comments have outraged Muscovites who, distraught at the thought of loosing their favourite meaty snack, have taken to Twitter in protest using the hashtag #ShaurmaZhivi '' which can be translated as ''long live shawarma'' or ''shawarma will survive''.
Some compared the motives of Moscow's mayor Sergei Sobyanin to Ivan the Terrible, who infamously killed his son.
Some called for a shawarma exodus to St Petersburg, or Minsk in Belarus. Others joked about they would hide their meat from the police.
One account refused to believe the threats, joking that it was more likely that opposition politician Alexei Navalny became mayor than the kebab shops disappeared for good.
Another wasn't taking any chances and posted a photo of his now endangered lunch.
One user put their faith in Iron Man to save the day:
City officials have repeatedly tried to stop kiosks in Moscow selling kebabs.
In 2006, the authorities instituted new health and safety regulations, and a year later inspectors vowed to put a stop the sale of shawarma all together.
Related:'They tore it all down': how Moscow destroyed my business overnight
In 2010 Sobyanin, then the city's new mayor, ordered the demolition of kiosks in a bid to rid the Moscow of ''illegal'' structures and ''bring order to city planning''.
Not stopping at shawarma, Nemeryuk also warned that street kiosks selling ice cream could soon disappear.
New Collaboration Expands Quest to Produce Fast-Acting Vaccines for International Health Emergencies
HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA and RESTON, VIRGINIA--(Marketwired - April 7, 2016) - Immunovaccine Inc. ("Immunovaccine" or the "company") (TSX:IMV)(OTCQX:IMMVF), a clinical stage vaccine and immunotherapy company, and Leidos (NYSE:LDOS), a health, national security and infrastructure solutions company, today announced they will collaborate on developing a vaccine against the mosquito-borne Zika virus and infection, which may be linked to neurological birth defects.
This collaboration is the first to expand on Immunovaccine's previously announced research project in which the company will apply its DepoVax' platform to development of a Zika virus vaccine candidate. The project builds upon earlier promising results with DepoVax' vaccines targeting the Ebola virus, anthrax and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).
"While we remain focused on immuno-oncology, collaborations with partners like Leidos allow us to expand the use and potential value of our platform technology in other applications and markets. This first collaboration on a Zika virus vaccine builds on our previous success in developing candidate vaccines that show promise in providing one-dose, fast-acting protection," said Frederic Ors, Immunovaccine Acting Chief Executive Officer.
Under the terms of the agreement, Leidos will utilize its Virtual Pharmaceutical Development Program to lead an antigen discovery and development team to identify the best candidate antigens for protecting against infection by the Zika virus. Immunovaccine will then formulate new antigens in its DepoVax' delivery system for pre-clinical testing. Together, the companies hope this project could serve as a replicable model for expediting the development and manufacture of vaccines to address current and future health emergencies.
"Our virtual pharma approach ensures that we are not beholden to a particular technology or laboratory," said Leidos Deputy Group President, Jerry Hogge. "We are able to seek the best solutions to suit the project at hand. This includes our partnership with Immunovaccine, which leverages the best capabilities of both companies."
Immunovaccine's proprietary DepoVax' adjuvanting delivery platform has been shown in multiple studies to produce a strong, high-quality immune response that has a specific and sustained immune effect with the potential for single-dose effectiveness. The platform has been shown to extend exposure of the immune system to practically any antigen and can be readily combined with other vaccine development strategies.
"The understanding of the Zika virus and its public health threat is expanding almost daily. With current vaccine development models, there is too long between identification of risk of an epidemic and the creation of an effective vaccine. With Leidos as a partner, our new approach has the potential to compress that timeline," added Marianne Stanford, Ph.D., Immunovaccine's Director of Research.
"With more than 25 years of experience in healthcare, and a commitment to developing the most cutting-edge technology, Leidos is focused on solving unmet medical needs and neutralizing emerging biological threats to improve the world we live in," said Jim Pannucci, Leidos Director, Life Sciences. "This strategic collaboration enables us to achieve our goals to build a better future."
Immunovaccine anticipates that preclinical testing of the Zika virus vaccine candidate will be performed in Canada, where the company is already collaborating with the scientific community, including Gary P. Kobinger, Ph.D., Chief of Special Pathogens of the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Key Facts about the Zika Virus
According to the World Health Organization, the Zika virus disease is caused by a virus transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes. People with Zika virus disease usually have symptoms that can include mild fever, skin rashes, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, malaise or headache. These symptoms normally last for two to seven days. However, there is a growing body of evidence linking Zika virus infection in pregnant women with an increased risk of a severe congenital complication at birth called microcephaly. Normally a rare condition, microcephaly results in an abnormally small head impairing brain development. There is no specific treatment or vaccine currently available for the Zika virus. To date, the best form of prevention is protection against mosquito bites. The virus is known to circulate in Africa, the Americas, Asia and the Pacific.
DepoVax' is a patented formulation that provides controlled and prolonged exposure of antigens plus adjuvant to the immune system, resulting in a strong, specific and sustained immune response with the potential for single-dose effectiveness. The DepoVax' platform is flexible and can be used with a broad range of target antigens for preventative or therapeutic applications. The technology is designed to be commercially scalable, with the potential for years of shelf life stability. Fully synthetic, off-the-shelf DepoVax'-based vaccines are also relatively easy to manufacture, store, and administer. This would enable Immunovaccine to pursue vaccine candidates in cancer, infectious diseases and other vaccine applications.
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There is a smug style in American liberalism. It has been growing these past decades. It is a way of conducting politics, predicated on the belief that American life is not divided by moral difference or policy divergence '-- not really '-- but by the failure of half the country to know what's good for them.
In 2016, the smug style has found expression in media and in policy, in the attitudes of liberals both visible and private, providing a foundational set of assumptions above which a great number of liberals comport their understanding of the world.
It has led an American ideology hitherto responsible for a great share of the good accomplished over the past century of our political life to a posture of reaction and disrespect: a condescending, defensive sneer toward any person or movement outside of its consensus, dressed up as a monopoly on reason.
The smug style is a psychological reaction to a profound shift in American political demography.
Beginning in the middle of the 20th century, the working class, once the core of the coalition, began abandoning the Democratic Party. In 1948, in the immediate wake of Franklin Roosevelt, 66 percent of manual laborers voted for Democrats, along with 60 percent of farmers. In 1964, it was 55 percent of working-class voters. By 1980, it was 35 percent.
The white working class in particular saw even sharper declines. Despite historic advantages with both poor and middle-class white voters, by 2012 Democrats possessed only a 2-point advantage among poor white voters. Among white voters making between $30,000 and $75,000 per year, the GOP has taken a 17-point lead.
Finding comfort in the notion that their former allies were disdainful, hapless rubes, smug liberals created a culture animated by that contemptThe consequence was a shift in liberalism's intellectual center of gravity. A movement once fleshed out in union halls and little magazines shifted into universities and major press, from the center of the country to its cities and elite enclaves. Minority voters remained, but bereft of the material and social capital required to dominate elite decision-making, they were largely excluded from an agenda driven by the new Democratic core: the educated, the coastal, and the professional.
It is not that these forces captured the party so much as it fell to them. When the laborer left, they remained.
The origins of this shift are overdetermined. Richard Nixon bears a large part of the blame, but so does Bill Clinton. The evangelical revival, yes, but the destruction of labor unions, too. I have my own sympathies, but I do not propose to adjudicate that question here.
Suffice it to say, by the 1990s the better part of the working class wanted nothing to do with the word liberal. What remained of the American progressive elite was left to puzzle: What happened to our coalition?
Why did they abandon us?
What's the matter with Kansas?
The smug style arose to answer these questions. It provided an answer so simple and so emotionally satisfying that its success was perhaps inevitable: the theory that conservatism, and particularly the kind embraced by those out there in the country, was not a political ideology at all.
The trouble is that stupid hicks don't know what's good for them. They're getting conned by right-wingers and tent revivalists until they believe all the lies that've made them so wrong. They don't know any better. That's why they're voting against their own self-interest.
As anybody who has gone through a particularly nasty breakup knows, disdain cultivated in the aftermath of a divide quickly exceeds the original grievance. You lose somebody. You blame them. Soon, the blame is reason enough to keep them at a distance, the excuse to drive them even further away.
Finding comfort in the notion that their former allies were disdainful, hapless rubes, smug liberals created a culture animated by that contempt. The rubes noticed and replied in kind. The result is a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Financial incentive compounded this tendency '-- there is money, after all, in reassuring the bitter. Over 20 years, an industry arose to cater to the smug style. It began in humor, and culminated for a time in The Daily Show, a program that more than any other thing advanced the idea that liberal orthodoxy was a kind of educated savvy and that its opponents were, before anything else, stupid. The smug liberal found relief in ridiculing them.
The internet only made it worse. Today, a liberal who finds himself troubled by the currents of contemporary political life need look no further than his Facebook newsfeed to find the explanation:
Study finds Daily Show viewers more informed than viewers of Fox News.
They're beating CNN watchers too.
NPR listeners arebest informed of all. He likes that.
You're betteroff watching nothingthan watching Fox. He likes that even more.
The good news doesn't stop.
Liberals aren't just better informed. They're smarter.
They've got better grammar. They know more words.
Smart kids grow up to be liberals, while conservatives reason like drunks.
Liberals are better able to process new information; they're less biased like that. They've got different brains. Better ones. Why? Evolution. They've got better brains, top-notch amygdalae, science finds.
The smug style created a feedback loop. If the trouble with conservatives was ignorance, then the liberal impulse was to correct it. When such corrections failed, disdain followed after it.
Of course, there is a smug style in every political movement: elitism among every ideology believing itself in possession of the solutions to society's ills. But few movements have let the smug tendency so corrupt them, or make so tenuous its case against its enemies.
"Conservatives are always at a bit of a disadvantage in the theater of mass democracy," the conservative editorialist Kevin Williamson wrote in National Review last October, "because people en masse aren't very bright or sophisticated, and they're vulnerable to cheap, hysterical emotional appeals."
The smug style thinks Williamson is wrong, of course, but not in principle. It's only that he's confused about who the hordes of stupid, hysterical people are voting for. The smug style reads Williamson and says, "No! You!"
Elites, real elites, might recognize one another by their superior knowledge. The smug recognize one another by their mutual knowing.
Knowing, for example, that the Founding Fathers were all secular deists. Knowing that you're actually, like, 30 times more likely to shoot yourself than an intruder. Knowing that those fools out in Kansas are voting against their own self-interest and that the trouble is Kansas doesn't know any better. Knowing all the jokes that signal this knowledge.
The studies, about Daily Show viewers and better-sized amygdalae, are knowing. It is the smug style's first premise: a politics defined by a command of the Correct Facts and signaled by an allegiance to the Correct Culture. A politics that is just the politics of smart people in command of Good Facts. A politics that insists it has no ideology at all, only facts. No moral convictions, only charts, the kind that keep them from "imposing their morals" like the bad guys do.
Knowing is the shibboleth into the smug style's culture, a cultural that celebrates hip commitments and valorizes hip taste, that loves nothing more than hate-reading anyone who doesn't get them. A culture that has come to replace politics itself.
The knowing know that police reform, that abortion rights, that labor unions are important, but go no further: What is important, after all, is to signal that you know these things. What is important is to launch links and mockery at those who don't. The Good Facts are enough: Anybody who fails to capitulate to them is part of the Problem, is terminally uncool. No persuasion, only retweets. Eye roll, crying emoji, forward to John Oliver for sick burns.
The smug style has always existed in American liberalism, but it wasn't always so totalizing. Lionel Trilling claimed, as far back as 1950, that liberalism "is not only the dominant, but even the sole intellectual tradition," that "the conservative impulse and the reactionary impulse ... do not express themselves in ideas, but only in action or in irritable mental gestures which seek to resemble ideas."
The smug style has always existed in American liberalism, but it wasn't always so totalizingRichard Hofstadter, the historian whose most famous work, The Paranoid Style in American Politics, this essay exists in some obvious reference to, advanced a similar line in writing not so well-remembered today. His then-influential history writing drips with disdain for rubes who regard themselves as victimized by economics and history, who have failed to maintain correct political attitudes.
But 60 years ago, American liberalism relied too much on the support of working people to let these ideas take too much hold. Even its elitists, its Schlesingers and Bells, were tempered by the power of the labor movement, by the role Marxism still played in even liberal politics '-- forces too powerful to allow non-elite concerns to entirely escape the liberal mental horizon. Walter Reuther, and Bayard Rustin, and A. Philip Randolph were still in the room, and they mattered.
Sixty years ago, the ugliest tendencies were still private, too. The smug style belonged to real elites, knowing in their cocktail parties, far from the ears of rubes. But today we have television, and the internet, and a liberalism worked out in universities and think tanks. Today, the better part of liberalism is Trillings '-- or those who'd like to be, at any rate '-- and everyone can hear them.
On June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court found that denying marriage licenses to same-sex couples constituted a violation of the 14th Amendment. After decades of protests, legislation, setbacks, and litigation, the 13 states still holding out against the inevitable were ordered to relent. Kim Davis, a clerk tasked with issuing marriage licenses to couples in her Kentucky county, refused.
At the distance of six months, it is surprising that she was, beyond a few short-lived and empty efforts, the only civil bureaucrat to do so. One imagines a hundred or a thousand Kim Davises in the country, small administrators with small power, outraged by the collapse of a moral fight that they were winning just a few years prior.
In the days between the June decision and the July 1 announcement that the American Civil Liberties Union would represent four couples who had been denied marriage licenses by the Rowan County Clerk's office, many braced for resistance. Surely compliance would come hard in some places. Surely, some of the losers would refuse to give up. There was something giddy about it '-- at long last, the good guys would be the ones bearing down with the full force of the law.
It did not take long for the law to correct Davis. On August 12, a judge ordered a stay, preventing Davis from refusing any further under the protection of the law. The Sixth Circuit, and then the Supreme Court, refused to hear her appeal.
Despite further protest and Davis's ultimate jailing for contempt of court, normal service was restored in short order. The 23,000 people of Rowan Country suffered, all told, slightly less than seven weeks without a functioning civil licensure apparatus.
Davis remained a fixation. Dour, rural, thrice divorced but born again '-- Twitter could not have invented a better parody of the uncool. She was ridiculed for her politics but also for her looks '-- that she had been married so many times was inexplicable! That she thought she had the slightest grasp of the Constitution, doubly so.
When Davis was jailed for five days following her refusal to comply with the court order, many who pride themselves on having a vastly more compassionate moral foundation than Davis cheered the imprisonment of a political foe.
The ridicule of Davis became so pronounced that even smug circles, always on the precipice of self-reproach, began eventually to rein in the excess. Mocking her appearance, openly celebrating the incarceration of an ideological opponent '-- these were not good looks.
Kim Davis at a rally in September 2015 (Ty Wright/Getty Images)
But a more fundamental element of smug disdain for Kim Davis went unchallenged: the contention, at bottom, that Davis was not merely wrong in her convictions, but that her convictions were, in themselves, an error and a fraud.
That is: Kim Davis was not only on the wrong side of the law. She was not even a subscriber to a religious ideology that had found itself at moral odds with American culture. Rather, she was a subscriber to nothing, a hateful bigot who did not even understand her own religion.
Christianity, as many hastened to point out, is about love. Christ commands us to render unto Caesar what is Caesar's. If the Bible took any position on the issue at all, it was that divorce, beloved by Davis, was a sin, and that she was a hypocrite masquerading among the faithful.
How many of these critiques were issued by atheists?
This, more than anything I can recall in recent American life, is an example of the smug style. Many liberals do not believe that evangelical Christianity ought to guide public life; many believe, moreover, that the moral conceits of that Christianity are wrong, even harmful to society. But to the smug liberal, it isn't that Kim Davis is wrong. How can she be? She's only mistaken. She just doesn't know the Good Facts, even about her own religion. She's angry and confused, another hick who's not with it.
It was an odd thing to assert in the case of Christianity, a religion that until recently was taken to be another shibboleth of the uncool, not a loving faith misunderstood by bigots. But this is knowing: knowing that the new line on Jesus is that the homophobes just don't get their own faith.
Kim Davis was behind the times. Her beliefs did not represent a legitimate challenge to liberal consensus because they did not represent a challenge at all: They were incoherent, at odds with the Good Facts. Google makes every man a theologian.
This, I think, is fundamental to understanding the smug style. If good politics and good beliefs are just Good Facts and good tweets '-- that is, if there is no ideology beyond sensible conclusions drawn from a rational assessment of the world '-- then there are no moral fights, only lying liars and the stupid rubes who believe them.
When Davis was first released from county jail, Mike Huckabee went to meet her. But the smug style sees no true ideology there, no moral threat to contend with. Only a huckster and a hick: one to be ridiculed, and the other to be refuted. What more, the smug man posts, could there be to say about it? They're idiots! Look, look: This Onion article nails it.
Adlai Stevenson, Democratic candidate for president, is on parade. A band is playing. Onlookers cheer. He waves to the crowd.
A woman shouts: "Gov. Stevenson, you have the vote of every thinking person in this country!"
Stevenson replies: "Thank you, ma'am, but we need a majority."
The smug style says to itself, Yeah. I really am one of the few thinking people in this country, aren't I?
In November of last year, during the week when it became temporarily fashionable for American governors to declare that Syrian refugees would not be welcome in their state, Hamilton Nolan wrote an essay for Gawker called "Dumb Hicks Are America's Greatest Threat."
If there has ever been a tirade so dedicated to the smug style, to the proposition that it is neither malice, nor capital, nor ideological difference, but rather the backward stupidity of poor people that has ruined the state of American policy, then it is hidden beyond our view, in some uncool place, far from the front page of Gawker.
"Many of America's political leaders are warning of the dangers posed by Syrian refugees. They are underestimating, though, the much greater danger: dumbass hicks, in charge of things," Nolan wrote. "...You, our elected officials, are embarrassing us. All of us, except your fellow dumb hicks, who voted for you in large numbers. You '-- our racist, xenophobic, knuckle-dragging ignorant leaders '-- are making us look bad in front of the guests (the whole world). You are the bad cousin in the family who always ruins Thanksgiving. Go in the back room and drink a can of beer alone please."
Among the dumb hicks Nolan identifies are "many Southern mayors" and "many lesser known state representatives." He cites the Ku Klux Klan '-- "exclusively dumbass hicks," he writes. "100%," he emphasizes '-- despite the fact that the New York Times, in an investigation of white supremacist members of Stormfront.org, found that "the top reported interest of Stormfront members is reading." That they are "news and political junkies." Despite the fact that if "you come compare Stormfront users to people who go to the Yahoo News site, it turns out that the Stormfront crowd is twice as likely to visit nytimes.com."
"They have long threads praising Breaking Bad and discussing the comparative merits of online dating sites, like Plenty of Fish and OKCupid," the Times reports.
In another piece, published later the same month, Nolan wrote that "Inequality of wealth '-- or, if you like, the distribution of wealth in our society in a way that results in poverty '-- is not just one issue among many. It is the root from which blooms nearly all major social problems."
He's right about that. But who does he imagine is responsible for this inequality? The poor? The dumb? The hicks?
Hamilton Nolan isn't stupid. He has even, lately, argued that even the worst of the rubes must be allies in class struggle. Yet the trouble is still swallowing what "motherfuckers" those people are.
Nolan is perhaps the funniest and most articulate of those pointing fingers at the "dumbass hicks," but he isn't alone. It is evidently intolerable to a huge swath of liberalism to confess the obvious: that those responsible have homes in Brooklyn, too. That they buy the same smartphones. That they too are on Twitter. That the oligarchs are making fun of stupid poor people too. That they're better at it, and always will be.
No: The trouble must be out there, somewhere. In the country. Where the idiots are; where the hicks are too stupid to know where problems blossom.
"To the dumb hick leaders of America, I say: (nothing). You wouldn't listen anyhow," Nolan writes. "My words would go in one ear and right out the other. Like talking to an old block of wood."
It's a shame. They might be receptive to his concerns about poverty.
If there is a single person who exemplifies the dumbass hick in the smug imagination, it is former President George W. Bush. He's got the accent. He can't talk right. He seems stupefied by simple concepts, and his politics are all gee-whiz Texas ignorance. He is the ur-hick. He is the enemy.
He got all the way to White House, and he's still being taken for a ride by the scheming rightwing oligarchs around him '-- just like those poor rubes in Kansas. If only George knew Dick Cheney wasn't acting in his own best interests!
It is worth considering that Bush is the son of a president, a patrician born in Connecticut and educated at Andover and Harvard and Yale.
It is worth considering that he does not come from a family known for producing poor minds.
It is worth considering that beginning with his 1994 gubernatorial debate against Ann Richards, and at every juncture thereafter, opponents have been defeated after days of media outlets openly speculating whether George was up to the mental challenge of a one-on-one debate.
"Throughout his short political career," ABC's Katy Textor wrote on the eve of the 2000 debates against Al Gore, "Bush has benefited from low expectations of his debating abilities. The fact that he skipped no less than three GOP primary debates, and the fact that he was reluctant to agree to the Commission on Presidential Debates proposal, has done little to contradict the impression of a candidate uncomfortable with this unavoidable fact of campaign life."
"Done little to contradict."
George W. Bush and Al Gore during a presidential debate in 2000. (Tannen Maury/AFP/Getty Images)
On November 6, 2000, during his final pre-election stump speech, Bush explained his history of political triumph thusly: "They misunderesimated me."
What an idiot. American liberals made fun of him for that one for years.
It is worth considering that he didn't misspeak.
He did, however, deliberately cultivate the confusion. He understood the smug style. He wagered that many liberals, eager to see their opponents as intellectually deficient, would buy into the act and thereby miss the more pernicious fact of his moral deficits.
He wagered correctly. Smug liberals said George was too stupid to get elected, too stupid to get reelected, too stupid to pass laws or appoint judges or weather a political fight. Liberals misunderestimated George W. Bush all eight years of his presidency.
George W. Bush is not a dumbass hick. In eight years, all the sick Daily Show burns in the world did not appreciably undermine his agenda.
The smug mind defends itself against these charges. Oh, we're just having fun, it says. We don't mean it. This is just for a laugh, it's just a joke, stop being so humorless.
It is exasperating, after all, to have to live in a country where so many people are so aggressively wrong about so much, they say. You go on about ideology and shibboleths and knowing, but we are right on the issues, aren't we? We are right on social policy and right on foreign policy and right on evolution, and same-sex marriage, and climate change too. Surely that's what matters.
We don't really mean they're all stupid '-- but hey, lay off. We're not smug! This is just how we vent our frustration. Otherwise it would be too depressing having to share a country with these people!
We have long passed the point where blithe ridicule of the American right can be credibly cast as private stress relief and not, for instance, the animating public strategy of an entire wing of the liberal culture apparatus. The Daily Show, as it happens, is not the private entertainment of elites blowing off some steam. It is broadcast on national television.
Twitter isn't private. Not that anybody with the sickest burn to accompany the smartest chart would want it to be. Otherwise, how would everyone know how in-the-know you are?
The rubes have seen your videos. You posted it on their wall.
Still don't get why liberal opinion is correct? This video settles the debate for good.
I have been wondering for a long time how it is that so many entries to the op-ed pages take it as their justifying premise that they are arguing for a truth that has never been advanced before.
We have long passed the point where blithe ridicule of the American right can be credibly cast as private stress relief"It's an accepted, nearly unchallenged assumption that Muslim communities across the U.S. have a problem '-- that their youth tend toward violent ideology, or are susceptible to "radicalization" by groups like the Islamic State," began an editorial that appeared last December in the New York Times. But "after all," it goes on, "the majority of mass shootings in America are perpetrated by white men but no one questions what might have radicalized them in their communities."
But this contention '-- that Muslims possess superlative violent tendencies '-- has been challenged countless times, hasn't it? It was challenged here, and here and here as far back as 9/11. The president of the United State challenged it on national television the night before this editorial was published. The Times itself did too. The myopic provincialism of anybody who believes that Muslims are a uniquely violent people is the basis of a five-year-old Onion headline, not some new moral challenge.
The smug style leaves its adherents no other option: If an idea has failed to take hold, if the Good Facts are not widely accepted, then the problem must be that these facts have not yet reached the disbelievers.
In December 2015, Public Policy Polling found that 30 percent of Republicans were in favor of bombing Agrabah, the Arab-sounding fictional city from Disney's Aladdin. Hilarious.
PPP has run joke questions before, of course: polling the popularity of Deez Nuts, or asking after God's job approval. But these questions, at least, let their audience in on the gag. Now liberalism is deliberately setting up the last segment of the population actually willing to endure a phone survey in service of what it knew would make for some hilarious copy when the rubes inevitably fell for it. This is not a survey in service of a joke '-- it is a survey in service of a human punchline.
As if only Republicans covered up gaps in their knowledge by responding to what they assume is a good-faith question by guessing from their general principles.
It may be easy to mistake with the private venting of frustrated elites, but the rubes can read the New York Times, too. It is not where liberals whisper to each other about the secret things that go unchallenged. Poll respondents are not the secret fodder for a joke.
This is the consequence of "private" venting, and it is the consequence of knowing too: If good politics comes solely from good data and good sense, it cannot be that large sections of the American public are merely wrong about so many vital things. It cannot be that they have heard our arguments but rejected them '-- that might mean we must examine our own methods of persuasion.
No: it is only that the wrong beliefs are unchallenged '-- that their believers are trapped in "information bubbles" and confirmation bias. That no one knows the truth, except the New York Times (or Vox). If only we could tell them, question them, show them this graph. If they don't get it then, well, then they're hopeless.
The smug style plays out in private too, of course. If you haven't started one yourself, you've surely seen the Facebook threads: Ten or 20 of Brooklyn's finest gather to say how exasperated they are, these days, by the stupidity of the American public.
"I just don't know what to do about these people," one posts. "I think we have to accept that a lot of people are just misinformed!" replies another. "Like, I think they actually don't want to know anything that would undermine their worldview."
They tend to do it in the comment section, under an article about how conservatives are difficult to persuade because they isolate themselves in mutually reinforcing information bubbles.
What have been the consequences of the smug style?
It has become a tradition for the smug, in editorials and essay and confident Facebook boasting, to assume that the presidential debates will feature their candidate, in command of the facts, wiping the floor with the empty huckster ignorance of their Republican opponent.
It was popularly assumed, for a time, that George W. Bush was too stupid to be elected president.
The smug believed the same of Ronald Reagan.
John Yoo, the architect of the Bush administration's torture policies, escaped The Daily Show unscathed. Liberals wondered what to do when Jon Stewart fails. What would success look like? Were police waiting in the wings, a one-way ticket to the Hague if Stewart nailed him?
It would be unfair to say that the smug style has never learned from these mistakes. But the lesson has been, We underestimated how many people could be fooled.
That is: We underestimated just how dumb these dumb hicks really are.
We just didn't get our message to them. They just stayed in their information bubble. We can't let the lying liars keep lying to these people '-- but how do we reach these idiots who only trust Fox?
Rarely: Maybe they're savvier than we thought. Maybe they're angry for a reason.
As it happens, reasons aren't too difficult to come by.
During a San Francisco fundraiser in the 2008 primary campaign, Barack Obama offered an observation that was hailed not without some glee as the first unforced error from then-Senator Cool.
"You go into these small towns in Pennsylvania," Obama said, "and, like, a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing's replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate, and they have not. And it's not surprising then they get bitter. They cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations."
It's the latter part that we remember eight years later '-- the clinging to guns and religion and hate '-- but it is the first part that was important: the part about lost jobs and neglect by two presidential administrations.
Obama's observation was not novel.
The notion that material loss and abandonment have driven America's white working class into a fit of resentment is boilerplate for even the Democratic Party's tepid left these days. But in the president's formulation and in the formulation of smug stylists who have embraced some material account of uncool attitudes, the downturn, the jobs lost and the opportunities narrowed, are a force of nature '-- something that has "been happening" in the passive voice.
If the smug style can be reduced to a single sentence, it's, Why are they voting against their own self-interest?This, I suspect, will one day become the Republican Party's rationale for addressing climate change: Look, we don't know how the dead hooker wound up in the hotel room. But she's here now, that's undeniable, so we've gotta get rid of the body.
Today, it is the excuse of American smug mind: Where did all of these poor people come from?
If pressed for an answer, I suppose they would say Republicans, elected by rubes voting against their own self-interest. Reagan, Gingrich, Bush '-- all those Bad Fact''knowing halfwits who were too dumb to get elected to anything.
Well, sure. In the past 30 years of American life, the Republican Party has dedicated itself to replacing every labor law with a photo of Ronald Reagan's face.
But this does not excuse liberals beating full retreat to the colleges and the cities, abandoning the dispossessed to their fate. It does not excuse surrendering a century of labor politics in the name of electability. It does not excuse gazing out decades later to find that those left behind are not up on the latest thought and deciding, We didn't abandon them. The idiots didn't want to be saved.
It was not Ronald Reagan who declared the era of big government. It was not the GOP that decided the coastally based, culturally liberal industries of technology, Hollywood, and high finance were the future of the American economy.
If the smug style can be reduced to a single sentence, it's, Why are they voting against their own self-interest? But no party these past decades has effectively represented the interests of these dispossessed. Only one has made a point of openly disdaining them too.
Abandoned and without any party willing to champion their interests, people cling to candidates who, at the very least, are willing to represent their moral convictions. The smug style resents them for it, and they resent the smug in turn.
The rubes noticed that liberal Democrats, distressed by the notion that Indiana would allow bakeries to practice open discrimination against LGBTQ couples, threatened boycotts against the state, mobilizing the considerable economic power that comes with an alliance of New York and Hollywood and Silicon Valley to punish retrograde Gov. Mike Pence, but had no such passion when the same governor of the same state joined 21 others in refusing the Medicaid expansion. No doubt good liberals objected to that move too. But I've yet to see a boycott threat about it.
Early in the marriage equality fight, activists advanced the theory that when people discovered a friend or relative was gay, they became far more likely to support gay rights. They were correct. These days it is difficult for anybody in a position of liberal power '-- whether in business, or government, or media '-- to avoid having openly gay colleagues, colleagues whom they like and whom they'd like to help.
But extend the point to the poor. Few opinion makers fraternize with the impoverished '-- or even with anyone from the downscale, uncool, Trump-loving white working class. Few editors and legislators and Silicon Valley heroes have dinner with the lovely couple on food stamps down the road, much less those scraping by in Indiana.
If any single event provided the direct impetus for this essay, it was a running argument I had with an older, liberal writer over the seriousness of Donald Trump's presidential campaign. Since June 2015, when Trump announced his candidacy, this writer has taken it upon himself each day to tell his Facebook followers that Donald Trump is a bad kind of dude.
That saying as much was the key to stopping him and his odious followers too.
"Ridicule is the most powerful weapon we have against any of our enemies," he told me in the end, "but especially against the ones who, not incorrectly, take it so personally and lash out in ways that shine klieg lights on those very flaws we detest.
"If you're laughing at someone, you're certainly not respecting him."
"Anyway," he went on, "I'm done talking to you. We see the world differently. I'm fine with that. We don't need to be friends."
Ridicule is the most effective political tactic.
Ridicule is especially effective when it's personal and about expressing open disdain for stupid, bad people.
Political legitimacy is granted by the respect of elite liberals.
You can't be legitimate if you're the butt of our jokes.
If you don't agree, we can't work together politically.
We can't even be friends, because politics is social.
Because politics is performative '-- if we don't mock together, we aren't on the same side.
If there is a bingo card for the smug style somewhere, then cross off every square. You've won.
I would be less troubled if I did not believe that the smug style has captured an enormous section of American liberalism. If I believed that its politics, as practiced by its supporters, extended beyond this line of thought. If this were an exception.
But even as many have come around to the notion that Trump is the prohibitive favorite for his party's nomination, the smug interpretation has been predictable: We only underestimated how hateful, how stupid, the Republican base can be.
A Donald Trump rally in Pittsburgh. (Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)
Trump capturing the nomination will not dispel the smug style; if anything, it will redouble it. Faced with the prospect of an election between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, the smug will reach a fever pitch: six straight months of a sure thing, an opportunity to mock and scoff and ask, How could anybody vote for this guy? until a morning in November when they ask, What the fuck happened?
On March 20, Salon's David Masciotra wrote that if Trump "actually had the strength to articulate uncomfortable and inconvenient truths, he would turn his favorite word '-- 'loser' '-- --not on full-time professionals in the press, but on his supporters."
Masciotra goes on:
Journalists found that in the counties where Trump is most dominant, there are large numbers of white high school dropouts, and unemployed people no longer looking for work. An alliance with the incoherent personality cult of Donald Trump's candidacy correlates strongly with failure to obtain a high school diploma, and withdrawal from the labor force. The counties also have a consistent history of voting for segregationists, and have an above average percentage of its residents living in mobile homes.
The kicker: "Many conservatives, and even some kindhearted liberals, might object to the conclusions one can draw from the data as stereotyping, but the empirical evidence leaves little choice. Donald Trump's supporters confirm the stereotype against them."
Here's the conclusion I draw: If Donald Trump has a chance in November, it is because the knowing will dictate our strategy. Unable to countenance the real causes of their collapse, they will comfort with own impotence by shouting, "Idiots!" again and again, angrier and angrier, the handmaidens of their own destruction.
The smug style resists empathy for the unknowing. It denies the possibility of a politics whereby those who do not share knowing culture, who do not like the right things or know the Good Facts or recognize the intellectual bankruptcy of their own ideas can be worked with, in spite of these differences, toward a common goal.
It is this attitude that has driven the dispossessed into the arms of a candidate who shares their fury. It is this attitude that may deliver him the White House, a "serious" threat, a threat to be mocked and called out and hated, but not to be taken seriously.
The wages of smug is Trump.
Nothing is more confounding to the smug style than the fact that the average Republican is better educated and has a higher IQ than the average Democrat. That for every overpowered study finding superior liberal open-mindedness and intellect and knowledge, there is one to suggest that Republicans have the better of these qualities.
Most damning, perhaps, to the fancy liberal self-conception: Republicans score higher in susceptibility to persuasion. They are willing to change their minds more often.
The Republican coalition tends toward the center: educated enough, smart enough, informed enough.
The Democratic coalition in the 21st century is bifurcated: It has the postgraduates, but it has the disenfranchised urban poor as well, a group better defined by race and immigration status than by class. There are more Americans without high school diplomas than in possession of doctoral degrees. The math proceeds from there.
The smug style takes this as a defense. Elite liberalism, and the Democratic Party by extension, cannot hate poor people, they say. We aren't smug! Just look at our coalition. These aren't rubes. Just look at our embrace of their issues.
But observe how quickly professed concern for the oppressed becomes another shibboleth for the smug, another kind of knowing. Mere awareness of these issues becomes the most important thing, the capacity to articulate them a new subset of Correct Facts.
Everyone in the know has read "The Case for Reparations," but it was the reading and performed admiration that counted, praised in the same breath as, "It is a better history than an actual case for actually paying, of course..."
Pretend for a moment that all of it is true. That the smug style apprehended the world as it really is, that knowing '-- or knowing, no inflection '-- did make our political divide. That the problem is the rubes. That the dumbass hicks are to blame. They can't help it: Their brains don't work. They isolate themselves from all the Good Facts, and they're being taken for a ride by con men.
Pretend the ridicule worked too: that the videos and the Twitter burns and destroying the opposition made all the bad guys go away.
What kind of world would it leave us? An endless cycle of jokes? Of sick burns and smart tweets and knowing? Relative to whom? The smug style demands an object of disdain; it would find a new one quickly.
It is central to the liberal self-conception that what separates them from reactionaries is a desire to help people, a desire to create a fairer and more just world. Liberals still want, or believe they still want, to make a more perfect union.
Whether you believe they are deluded or not, whether you believe this project is worthwhile in any form or not, what I am trying to tell you is that the smug style has fundamentally undermined even the aspiration, that it has made American liberalism into the worst version of itself.
It is impossible, in the long run, to cleave the desire to help people from the duty to respect them. It becomes all at once too easy to decide you know best, to never hear, much less ignore, protest to the contrary.
At present, many of those most in need of the sort of help liberals believe they can provide despise liberalism, and are despised in turn. Is it surprising that with each decade, the "help" on offer drifts even further from the help these people need?
It is impossible, in the long run, to cleave the desire to help people from the duty to respect themEven if the two could be separated, would it be worth it? What kind of political movement is predicated on openly disdaining the very people it is advocating for?
The smug style, at bottom, is a failure of empathy. Further: It is a failure to believe that empathy has any value at all. It is the notion that anybody worthy of liberal time and attention and respect must capitulate, immediately, to the Good Facts.
If they don't (and they won't, no matter how much of your Facts you make them consume), you're free to write them off and mock them. When they suffer, it's their just desserts.
Make no mistake: I am not suggesting that liberals adopt a fuzzy, gentler version of their politics. I am not suggesting they compromise their issues for the sake of playing nice. What I am suggesting is that they consider how the issues they actually fight for have drifted away from their egalitarian intentions.
I am suggesting that they notice how hating and ridiculing the people they say they want to help has led them to stop helping those people, too.
I am suggesting that in the case of a Kim Davis, liberalism resist the impulse to go beyond the necessary legal fight and explicitly delight in punishing an old foe.
I am suggesting that they instead wonder what it might be like to have little left but one's values; to wake up one day to find your whole moral order destroyed; to look around and see the representatives of a new order call you a stupid, hypocritical hick without bothering, even, to wonder how your corner of your poor state found itself so alienated from them in the first place. To work with people who do not share their values or their tastes, who do not live where they live or like what they like or know their Good Facts or their jokes.
This is not a call for civility. Manners are not enough. The smug style did not arise by accident, and it cannot be abolished with a little self-reproach. So long as liberals cannot find common cause with the larger section of the American working class, they will search for reasons to justify that failure. They will resent them. They will find, over and over, how easy it is to justify abandoning them further. They will choose the smug style.
Maybe the cycle is too deeply set already. Perhaps the divide, the disdain, the whole crack-up are inevitable. But if liberal good intentions are to make a play for a better future, they cannot merely recognize the ways they've come to hate their former allies. They must begin to mend the ways they lost them in the first place.
Emmett Rensin is deputy First Person editor at Vox.
FBI Officials Said to Urge Against Review of IPhone Hacking Tool
(Bloomberg) -- FBI officials have recommended against conducting a review to determine whether the vulnerability that was used to hack into a dead terrorist's iPhone should be disclosed to Apple Inc., according to a person familiar with the matter.
The recommendation has been submitted to FBI Director James Comey for a final decision, after which it will be conveyed to the White House, said the person, who asked not to be identified before Comey acts.
A review would be conducted under a secret process developed by the Obama administration to determine if newly discovered software and hardware vulnerabilities should be disclosed to companies and the public so that they can be fixed. Called the equities review process, it would involve officials from multiple agencies.
The FBI may not even know enough technical details about the vulnerability to share it with a review board, Comey said Tuesday at a cybersecurity conference in Washington. The law enforcement agency bought the hacking tool used to get into the Apple phone from an entity it hasn't named.
'What Do We Know?'
"We are in the midst of trying to sort that out," Comey said. "That involves answering a key question, which is: What do we know about the vulnerability? And given that, is the process implicated? And that's something that we've been sorting out the last couple of weeks."
Comey disclosed last week that the FBI paid more than $1.3 million to buy the hacking tool to access data on an encrypted iPhone used by Syed Rizwan Farook, who with his wife carried out a deadly December attack in San Bernardino, California. The bureau dropped a legal case compelling Apple to help unlock the phone after learning of the tool.
Although the FBI said the tool was used only to get into one phone, questions were raised about whether the vulnerability affected other devices and whether a review on its possible disclosure should be conducted.
Apple declined to comment on the FBI officials' recommendation against reviewing the vulnerability and referred to past comments by company representatives.
Apple won't sue the government to try to learn of the hacking tool, a company lawyer previously said. The company is confident that the vulnerability the government alleges to have found will have a short shelf life because the company will continue to improve phones and at some point any needed fix will get implemented, the lawyer said.
To contact the reporter on this story: Chris Strohm in Washington at email@example.com. To contact the editors responsible for this story: Bill Faries at firstname.lastname@example.org, Larry Liebert
(C)2016 Bloomberg L.P.
Read the article on News Republic
Kuwait set to enforce DNA testing law on all - Officials reassure tests won't be used to determine genealogy - Kuwait Times
KUWAIT: The Interior Ministry's General Department of Criminal Evidence building, where the DNA identification lab is located. '-- Photos by Joseph Shagra
KUWAIT: The DNA testing law that will go into effect this year is aimed at creating an integrated security database and does not include genealogical implications or affects personal freedoms and privacy. Senior officials told Kuwait Times that the law, the first of its kind in the world, will only be used for criminal security purposes. When the law (no. 78/2015) is applied, it will be binding on all citizens, expatriates and visitors too. A Kuwaiti security delegation had earlier visited Washington to study DNA testing systems there.
The National Assembly passed the DNA testing law on July 2, 2015 that will be mandatory on everyone in Kuwait in order to fight crime and terrorism. Kuwait Times was given exclusive and rare access to the DNA lab located at the General Department of Criminal Evidence in Dajeej in an effort to learn more about the latest developments regarding the law.
Senior officials in charge of the project, who spoke to Kuwait Times on the condition of anonymity, explained how the database will be used, the process of collecting samples and privacy concerns.
In an effort to learn more about the latest updates with regards to the DNA tests that will be applied in Kuwait this year on citizens, expatriates and visitors, Kuwait Times conducted the following interview with senior officials in charge with implementing the project at the Interior Ministry's General Department of Criminal Evidence:
A senior official at the Interior Ministry's General Department of Criminal Evidence.
Q: Tell us about DNA testing and what is its basic purpose?
Back in the 1980s, Professor Sir Alec Jeffery discovered that every human being has a different DNA print that could be detected in each person's deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) in unencrypted areas and genes that cannot be affected or altered by diseases. This was a scientific breakthrough that had great impact on forensic medicine and helped identify culprits by matching samples of their DNA with evidence or crime weapons found at crime scenes using Locard's exchange principle theory.
DNA tests have proven very effective over the past decade and have been used in solving many crimes by matching biological evidence collected from crime scenes with databases. Therefore, many advanced countries started building their DNA databases according to regulations that ensured information confidentiality, which is reassuring for people subject to the test, be they suspects or volunteers willingly donating their specimens to serve justice. The process started in the UK where authorities started collecting specimens from suspects in 1995, then developed to include larger segments of people.
The US comes second in this regard, as it started building its DNA database in 1998 and now includes DNA fingerprints of over 15 million people from all states. More countries gradually started following the same steps of utilizing DNA databases in criminal investigations.
Passing law number 78/2015 places Kuwait at par with those countries. Kuwait will have a database including DNA fingerprints of all citizens, residents and visitors. This law is the first of its kind in the world and Kuwait is the first country worldwide to apply the system.
A worker examines a sample using high-tech equipment at the lab.
Q: How will the test be used?
Deputy PM and Interior Minister Sheikh Mohammed Al-Khaled Al-Sabah formed a special committee to study the method of putting law number 78/2015 pertaining building a DNA database into practice. Preparations are in progress now to set the regulating charter and commence taking mandatory samples from all citizens, residents and visitors.
DNA tests will be done through specimens taken from individuals to match their DNA in paternity cases or as suspects in criminal cases. Specimens are often taken from saliva or through a few drops of blood placed on special cards. Specimens are then tested in labs according to international scientific and technical methods using special DNA examination equipment.
An official at work at the DNA identification lab in the General Department of Criminal Evidence.
Q: How will the DNA samples and specimens be collected?
a. From Citizens: Collecting samples from citizens will be done by various mobile centers that will be moved according to a special plan amongst government establishments and bodies to collect samples from citizens in the offices they work in. In addition, fixed centers will be established at the interior ministry and citizen services centers to allow citizens give samples while doing various transactions.b. From Residents: Collection will done on issuing or renewing residency visas through medical examinations done by the health ministry for new residency visas and through the criminal evidence department on renewing them.c. From Visitors: Collection will be done at a special center at Kuwait International Airport, where in collaboration with the Civil Aviation Department, airlines and embassies, visitors will be advised on their rights and duties towards the DNA law.
A lab technician works on a machine.
Q: How will it respect privacy?
Privacy is undoubtedly the main concern of MiI in general and the criminal evidence department in particular. It is our duty to protect the privacy of each and every citizen and resident taking into consideration that the DNA law highlighted this in articles 9, 10 and 11. Clause (A) of article 9 of the law states that ''Without contradiction with any stricter penalty stipulated by another law, individuals making job-related secrets public or revealing any DNA database information they might come across as part of job duties, will be punished by a maximum of three years in prison''.
Article 10 of the law also states that ''Individuals forging DNA documents or knowingly using fake ones will be punished by a maximum of seven years in prison and/or a maximum KD 5,000 fine''. In addition, article 11 of the law states that ''Without contradiction with any stricter penalty stipulated by another law, individuals who damage the DNA database will be punished by a minimum of three and a maximum of 10 years in prison''.
Technically speaking from a criminological point of view, a special work mechanism has been set for labs and sample collection, which will make it hard for lab staff and other staff dealing with the samples to identify the sources of those samples, by only using special barcodes on samples and specimens. Nonetheless, the executive charter is very strict with staff members dealing with the samples in order to win the trust of citizens, residents, visitors and anyone who has access to the database.
A worker uses a machine at the DNA testing laboratory
Q: In case of detecting any medical cases, how will you handle them?
The mandatory DNA tests only target non-encrypted genes that are not affected by diseases. The test is not done to diagnose any disease or obtain medical information because such information is part of individuals' privacy and the law bans access to it.
Q: MoI has promised not to use the test for lineage or genealogical reasons. What are the guarantees it won't do so?
This has been confirmed by the law itself. In addition, MoI plans building this database with the aim of limiting crimes and accelerate culprits' identification. The database will be also used in case of natural disasters or major incidents that leave behind bodies that can only be identified through DNA tests.
Q: Will the law be applied to foreign visitors? What if they refuse to take the test?
Yes, the test will be mandatory for visitors. As the executors are responsible to collect and examine samples, we will notify relevant authorities about whoever refuses to give a sample so that they could apply the measures stipulated in the law. We will also coordinate with various airlines and foreign embassies in Kuwait so that all visitors can have a good idea about the law and the possible consequences of rejecting its procedures.
Q: What links the smart passport with DNA tests? Will providing a DNA sample allow the issuance of a passport regardless of the results?
There was a study to place all biometric data in one database, but after passing the DNA law number 78/2015, the law separated the DNA database. Although the procedures followed for issuing smart passports are done by the criminal evidence department, issuing all categories of passports is the responsibility of the citizenship and passports directorate.
A lab technician works on a machine.
Q: When will the mandatory DNA tests go in effect?
Sheikh Mohammed has already prepared the law's executive charter and submitted it to the Cabinet. So, the law will go in effect once the Cabinet approves the draft in accordance to recommendations made in the law 78/2015 pertaining DNA testing.
Q: What about eye prints or retinal scans?
Eye prints (retinal scans) are not currently adopted as criminal evidence in Kuwait due to the presence of more accurate technologies including fingerprinting and DNA. Eye prints are used in some countries but there is no international cooperation in this field due to lack of international databases of eye prints.
By Hanan Al-Saadoun
9/11 memorial: Security guard shouldn't have silenced choir
NEW YORK (AP) '-- Officials at the Sept. 11 memorial said Monday that one of their security guards shouldn't have stopped a North Carolina middle school choir from singing the national anthem on the memorial plaza.
"The guard did not respond appropriately," said the spokeswoman, Kaylee Skaar. "We are working with our security staff to ensure that this does not happen again with future student performances."
Some 50 students from Waynesville Middle School in western North Carolina were at the Sept. 11 memorial Wednesday and had just started singing "The Star-Spangled Banner" when a guard told them to stop.
Teacher Martha Brown said Monday that a different security guard had given the OK for her students to sing. But the second guard said, "You just can't do this. You've got to stop now," Brown said. "So we very reverently and quietly stopped what we were doing and complied with his request and quietly exited the park."
Video posted on Facebook by an adult on the school field trip sparked outrage and led to an invitation for the students to sing the anthem live on Fox News. Brown and Principal Trevor Putnam joined the students for their performance at the school Monday.
Brown said her students learned from the experience. "We turned it into a teaching moment and taught them that even if you don't agree with it, or understand it, you must respect authority," she said.
Putnam echoed the sentiment.
"The lesson learned here is always to respect authority," the principal said in a telephone interview. "And I'm so proud of our kids for conducting themselves the way they did."
Crystal Mulvey, a parent who accompanied her daughter on the school trip, said she was shocked that the guard interrupted the national anthem because "it's kind of a sacred song to us." But she added, "On the flip side, I completely understand following rules."
Striking a balance between remembering those killed by terrorists and rebuilding a bustling commercial district has been a challenge ever since the twin towers were toppled in 2001. Tourists paying their respect to the dead now share the memorial plaza with neighborhood residents and office workers from the new World Trade Center towers lunching under the trees.
Sept. 11 memorial officials say groups wishing to perform on the crowded plaza are supposed to pay $35 to apply for a permit and obey a list of rules, such as no amplified sound and no interfering with the flow of traffic. Brown said she was not aware of the permit requirement.
Visitors to the memorial had mixed feelings about the rules.
"To me, the children's singing was in remembrance of people who had a soul. It was reverence for their lives so they're not forgotten," said Gwendolyn Tucker, herself a security guard from Los Angeles. But, she added, "the guards have to keep it orderly."
Associated Press writer Verena Dobnik contributed to this report.
Prince Gains His Catalog in Landmark Deal With Warner Bros.; New Album Coming | Billboard
Prince has returned to Warner Bros. Records after 18 years with a deal that will see him regain ownership of his catalog. His classic Warner albums like "Dirty Mind," "Controversy" and "1999" will continue to be licensed through Warner Bros as part of a new global agreement.
As part of the deal, Prince's classic "Purple Rain" album will be re-released in a remastered deluxe version in time for the 30th anniversary of the album and movie. Other planned re-issue projects will follow and Prince will issue a new album too, although it is unclear if that title is a part of the deal.
"A brand-new studio album is on the way and both Warner Bros Records and Eye (sic) are quite pleased with the results of the negotiations and look forward to a fruitful working relationship," Prince said in a statement
Prince's Paisley Archives: 10 Items From Vault We'd Love to See Released
Prince famously had a highly publicized and turbulent split from Warner Bros. in 1996 when he called himself a slave to the label, changed his name to a symbol, and condemned the way the major label system worked.
This deal marks a new era as the ability to terminate master recording copyright after 35 years was granted in the Copyright Revision Act of 1976 and became effective in 1978, the year that Prince's debut album came out.
Prince albums have scanned 18.5 million units in the United States since Nielsen SoundScan's inception in 1991; albums issued by Warner Bros. Records have sold 14.3 million units, Billboard calculates based on SoundScan's data.
As 2013 loomed, record label executives and artists managers said that they were unsure how copyright terminations and ownership reversions would play out as they expected a precedent-setting court case to decide whether the "work-for-hire" clause in standard recording contracts could successfully be challenged by artists. Works created under work-for-hire contracts are not eligible for copyright reversion. But privately some label executives have also said that in some instances the wiser course might be to negotiate the reversions and retain control of issuing artists' catalog eligible for copyright terminations.
In cutting what appears to be a landmark deal, Prince has chosen to remain with the label that was the subject of his ire back in the 1990's avoiding a risky and costly legal battle and still regains ownership of his catalog.
Financial terms and length of the licensing deal were not disclosed; nor does the announcement make clear on whether the artist is gaining ownership of his catalog all at once; or more likely as each album becomes eligible for copyright termination.
The Warner Music Group decline to provide further comment on the details of the deal. But Warner Bros. Records chairman and CEO Cameron Strang said in a statement: "Everyone at Warner Bros Records is delighted to be working with Prince once again: he is one of the world's biggest stars and a truly unique talent. We are also very excited about the release of new and re-mastered music from one of his greatest masterpieces."
Was MH17 shot down by a Ukrainian fighter jet? | Daily Mail Online
New evidence suggests that the downing of the Malaysian Airlines plane MH17 was caused by a shot from a Ukrainian fighter jet rather than a ground-to-air missile.
The damning allegations will be revealed in a BBC documentary which puts forward a number of theories as to why the aircraft exploded.
It is even argued that the tragedy was caused by a CIA-backed 'terrorist operation.'
New evidence suggests that the downing of the Malaysian Airlines plane MH17 was caused by a shot from a Ukranian fighter jet rather than a ground-to-air missile (file photo)
The fresh allegations come as three Ukrainian soldiers were killed and six injured in an upsurge of fighting between pro-Russian rebels and government forces in the country's separatist east, today.
The Boeing 777 exploded over eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014 and killed 298 people, as it headed towards Kuala Lumpur.
Although the official report states that the plane was hit by a Russian-made Buk missile fired from an area of the Ukraine that was under the control of Russian-backed rebels, the programme notes that people saw the aircraft being shot down by a fighter jet.
Speaking in the documentary, Natasha Beronina, said: 'It was summer, harvest time. We heard a bang.
'At first we thought we saw black smoke and two planes, little ones like silver toys. One flew straight on and the other one turned round when the bang happened and flew back from where it had come.'
Another witness even said that they saw a jet launch a missile before hearing a big boom.
The Sunday Express noted that German investigative journalist, Billy Six, interviewed 100 witnesses for the programme, seven of which said they saw a fighter jet.
The official report states that the plane was hit by a Russian-made Buk missile (pictured) fired from an area of the Ukraine that was under the control of Russian-backed rebels (file photo)
They believed that two jets were present and that one fired an air-to-air missile, while the other fired a canon from the back into MH17's cockpit.
However, this was something that was profusely denied by pilot, Captain Vladislav Voloshin, who was accused of being responsible.
In the interview, Voloshin said that there were no flights on that day and there were also no air-to-air missiles, as they were carrying air-to-surface missiles for ground targets.
Another extraordinary theory mentioned in the programme is that the aircraft was detonated in a CIA-backed 'terrorist operation', where two bombs were planted on the airliner.
The Boeing 777 was detonated over eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014 and killed 298 people, as it headed towards Kuala Lumpur (file photo)
This allegation was put forward by private investigator, Sergey Sokolov, who claimed that the CIA were helped by the Ukrainian secret service and Dutch security service, to place the bombs on the plane in Holland.
He said: 'This terrorist act was a pretext for firstly intensifying sanctions on Russia, secondly to show the world that Russia is a barbarian country and thirdly to strengthen the presence of Nato in Europe, particularly Ukraine.'
Speaking after the death of three Ukrainian soldiers today, Military spokesman Oleksandr Motuzyanyk said: 'As a result of hostilities, three Ukrainian soldiers have been killed and another six wounded over the past 24 hours'.'
According to Motuzyanyk, the situation along the frontline 'had escalated again', accusing separatists of ramping up attacks against the Kiev military and using heavy weapons.
He said: 'The invaders are actively using mortars and armoured vehicles along the entire frontline.'
The damning allegations will be revealed in a BBC documentary and put forward a number of theories as to why the aircraft exploded (file photo)
Another extraordinary theory mentioned in the programme is that the aircraft was detonated in a CIA-backed 'terrorist operation', where two bombs were planted on the airliner (file photo)
The new casualties came after three Ukrainian soldiers were killed by pro-Russian rebels in a mortar attack earlier this week, in the deadliest attack in nearly two months, the Kiev military said.
A series of truce agreements have helped reduce the violence, although sporadic clashes continue and prevent the sides from reaching a firm political reconciliation deal.
Around 9,200 people have died and more than 21,000 been injured since the revolt against Ukraine's pro-Western leadership erupted in eastern Ukraine in April 2014.
Kiev and the West accuse Russia of supporting the insurgents and sending regular troops across the border, claims that Moscow denies.
Earlier this week, Ukraine's defence minister Stepan Poltorak warned it may take years to end a war that plunged Moscow's relations with the West to a post-Cold War low.
The documentary, Conspiracy Files: Who Shot Down MH17? Will be aired on BBC Two on May 3 at 9pm
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, in Berlin on April 22, 2016 (AFP Photo/Bernd von Jutrczenka)More
Berlin (AFP) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday admitted she had made an "error" in the bitter freedom of speech row sparked by a comedian's poem about Turkey's president.
But she defended her decision to authorise criminal proceedings against popular comedian Jan Boehmermann, saying this was a "fair" reaction to the poem that accused President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of paedophilia and bestiality.
Merkel did, however, express regret that her spokesman Steffen Seibert had said she viewed the poem as "deliberately insulting" in the chancellery's first official reaction to the row.
"With hindsight, it was an error," Merkel told regional officials meeting in Berlin, adding that the remark could have given the impression that "freedom of opinion is not important, that freedom of the press is not important".
Merkel's decision to allow proceedings against Boehmermann has appalled rights groups, while the comedian has received vocal support from media and cultural figures.
He could be convicted under the rarely-enforced section 103 of the criminal code -- insulting organs or representatives of foreign states.
Prosecutors have opened a preliminary probe against Boehmermann over his so-called "Defamatory Poem", recited with a broad grin on public television on March 31, accusing Erdogan of bestiality and watching child porn.
During its broadcast, Boehmermann had gleefully admitted the piece flouted Germany's legal limits to free speech and was intended as a provocation.
He has suspended his television show in the midst of the controversy.
The row has soured relations at a time when Ankara is vital to European Union plans to tackle the migrant crisis, and some commentators have suggested Merkel's decision was linked to a desire to avoid upsetting Turkey.
The EU and Ankara in March agreed a deal that will see migrants arriving in Greece from Turkey sent back.
In exchange, Turkey will receive billions of euros of EU aid and political concessions.
The Zika Virus: Big Moneymaker for Big Pharma? | naked capitalism
By Gary Olson, Ph.D., a member of the political science department at Moravian College in Bethlehem, PA.
[Note: The World Health Organization has declared the Zika virus an international public health emergency and some four million people may be infected this year. Zika may cause brain damage and unusually small heads in newborns'--called microcephaly. Women who become infected while pregnant are at especially high risk.]
Uppyurs Pharmaceuticals, the drug manufacturing behemoth, is frantically attempting to vanquish rivals Novartis, Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline and others by producing a Zika vaccine. A copy of the minutes from a recent Uppyurs Executive Board meeting was surreptitiously obtained by the author.
According to the minutes, ''If everything breaks right we will have a Zika vaccine on the market by mid-2018 and we anticipate revenues in the range of $7.5 billion dollars. Proceeding with this is a no-brainer.''
The report also reveals that $78.00 for a single Zika inoculation will price the vaccine out of reach for all but the wealthy in the world's 35 poorest countries. One of our serious challenges is to neutralize a guilt-ridden American public's demand to make the vaccine more accessible or even'--God help us'--free to poor people. Our strategy includes:
Because Americans are almost pathologically compassionate, we've been working on an empathy-inhibitor medication under the brand name ClearSoul. We can report that ClearSoul has been clinically tested on Uppyurs's upper level management and has proven 100% effective. ClearSoul promises to be the most lucrative product in Uppyurs's history, if not the history of the world. We saw a need and filled it. ClearSoul will be timed for market release just as Zika is declared a pandemic.Massive lobbying of Senate Foreign Relations Committee members so any government attempting to develop an inexpensive, generic version of the vaccine will be immediately accused of aiding and abetting global terrorism and be targeted by the U.S. drone attacks. We anticipate this will be an easy sell to the media and the public.As a distraction and to lighten the mood, we'll prepare a series of small-headed baby jokes such as, ''Why will Brazil's soccer teams fail to make the World Cup after 2028? They'll be unable to head the ball.''Friendly media sources have agreed to ''tell Uppyurs's story,'' an inspiring narrative we've ghost written and which recommends that a Nobel Prize for Selfless Giving be created and bestowed upon Uppyurs Corporation. As a PR move, we'll donate the Nobel Prize cash award of $1.5 million to the ''Tiny Hoodies for Zika Victims'' campaign and emblazon them with the Red, White and Blue Uppyurs logo.Candidly acknowledging the fact that immunizations in underdeveloped countries now cost nearly 70 times as much as they did in 2001, but that's only because of supply and demand. Not enough poor people have died off, but that should change soon.When questioned about lowering costs for the Zika vaccine, our standard mantra is that we need to pay huge legal fees for patenting the manufacturing process, and who could deny the fairness of $25 million dollar bonuses for each member of our board of directors?Regrettably, governments of these desperately poor countries can only afford one vaccination program, including but not limited to Zika, whooping cough, TB, cholera, Ebola, Nipah virus, malaria, hepatitis B and D, HIV/AIDS and dengue fever. Given the immense profit margins for us, we've already bribed most public health ministers to choose Zika. The others will be banished from office by inventive, high profile sex and corruption scandals.Our invariable response to all criticism will be: Maximizing shareholder profits would be an egregious violation of our God-given, fiduciary trust. Anything less would be both Un-American and socialist.Finally, we're working on an exciting new marketing slogan, tentatively titled:Uppyurs: Making the World Healthier for Those of Us Who Really Matter.
This meeting is adjourned and, as always, ''God Bless America and God Bless Uppyurs!''
EMP alert: 2 N. Korean satellites now orbit over U.S.
WASHINGTON '' North Korea now has two satellites orbiting over the United States capable of performing a surprise electromagnetic pulse attack at an altitude and trajectory that evade U.S. National Missile Defenses, a national security expert warned in an interview with Joseph Farah's G2 Bulletin.
Peter Vincent Pry told G2 Bulletin that the satellites can be commanded either to deorbit and hit a target on the ground or explode at a high altitude to create an EMP effect that would knock out the unprotected U.S. national electrical grid system and all life-sustaining critical infrastructures that depend on it.
''The threat,'' Pry said, ''continues to race, hare-like, at an alarming rate, compared to the tortoise pace of our preparations.''
The satellites '' KMS 3-2 and KMS 4 '' are orbiting at an altitude of 300 miles, with trajectories that put them daily over the U.S. KMS 3-2 was launched in December 2012 and KMS 4 was launched Feb. 7.
At such an altitude, an EMP could impact much of the continental United States, according to EMP experts.
Get the rest of this report, and others, from Joseph Farah's G2 Bulletin.
Pry is executive director of the Task Force on National and Homeland Security and director of the U.S. Nuclear Strategy Forum, both congressional advisory boards. He also served on the congressionally mandated EMP commission and as an analyst with the Central Intelligence Agency.
Pry said that while the U.S. is aware of the satellites, it is unable to determine their payloads. The federal government hasn't commented as much on the satellites as it has on North Korea's ability to launch a missile capable of reaching the U.S.
The development comes at the same time North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has ordered his rocket forces to prepare for a nuclear attack on the U.S. The communist regime has released videos depicting nuclear attacks on Washington and New York City.
North Korea, meanwhile, is preparing for its fourth underground nuclear detonation. Pry said it's really a hydrogen bomb with a purposefully low yield designed to emit more gamma rays for an EMP effect rather than for physical destruction on the ground.
'Biggest existential threat'
Pry spoke to G2 Bulletin after his recent testimony to Canada's Security and Defence Committee on the ''biggest existential threat that our civilization faces right now,'' an EMP attack.
He said, however, that the fix is relatively simple and inexpensive.
China and Russia, along with North Korea, already possess the ability to launch an EMP attack that could shut down indefinitely such life-sustaining critical infrastructures as communications, transportation, finance, the delivery of water and food, sanitation, medical equipment, emergency services, and oil and natural gas pipelines.
Get the rest of this report, and others, from Joseph Farah's G2 Bulletin.
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Woman Leading Flint Lead Poisoning Lawsuit Found Shot Dead in Her Home
Sasha Avonna Bell, a woman leading the drive to sue the Michigan government over the Flint lead poisoning water crisis, has been found shot and killed in her home, M Live reports. She had claimed that her child was poisoned by the water after it was switched from the Detroit water system to the Flint river, (which officials hadn't applied corrosion inhibitors to).
Another woman, Sacorya Renee Reed, was also found shot and killed in the home. Their bodies were discovered on April 19th.
''Sasha was a lovely young woman who cared deeply for her family, and especially for her young child,'' said her attorney Corey M. Stern. ''Her tragic and senseless death has created a void in the lives of so many people that loved her. Hopefully, her child will be lifted up by the love and support from everyone who cared deeply for Sasha.''
A 1-year-old was found unharmed in the home. Police haven't confirmed if it was Bell's child.
Those supporting Bell's landmark suit have vowed that it will continue. No charges have been filed in the shooting.
Featured image via ABC 6 screengrab
Zika virus has undergone significant genetic changes in the past few decades, analysis finds
Researchers who performed a detailed genetic analysis on the Zika virus have found some clues to help explain how the virus evolved from causing a relatively benign illness to becoming a worldwide threat, according to a study published online April 15, 2016 in the journal Cell Host & Microbe.
''The Zika virus has undergone significant genetic changes in the past 70 years,'' said the study's senior author Genhong Cheng, PhD, a Professor of Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics at the University of California at Los Angeles David Geffen School of Medicine, in Los Angeles, CA.
Investigators have speculated that Zika virus may have evolved only in recent years to become more neurotropic, better at replicating, and more transmissible to humans. The latest epidemic has linked the virus to fetal brain-development disorders and new modes of transmission, including infection through sexual contact and from mother to fetus.
''We don't know why Zika infection was not associated with serious human disease, especially in newborns, until recently,'' said co-author Stephanie Valderramos, MD, PhD, a fellow in Maternal-Fetal Medicine at the Geffen School. ''We hoped that taking a closer look at the virus' genetic changes over time would reveal clues to this mystery.''
To understand the molecular evolution of the virus, the researchers performed detailed phylogenetic and genetic analyses, as well as targeted structural modeling, on all known strains of Zika virus, with an emphasis on the recent human strains.
''By tracing its genetic mutations, we aimed to understand how the virus is transmitted from person to person and how it causes different types of disease,'' Dr. Cheng said.
Along with researchers at the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences and Peking Union Medical College in Beijing, Dr. Cheng and colleagues compared individual genetic differences among 41 strains of Zika virus'--30 isolates from humans, 10 from mosquitoes, and 1 from monkeys.
In sequencing the virus, the team identified substantial DNA changes between the strains, showing a major split between the Asian and African lineages, as well as the human and mosquito versions.
Interestingly, the researchers found that the human strains share a genetic sequence more similar to the 1966 Malaysian strain than the 1968 Nigerian strain, which suggests that the Zika virus strains in the recent human outbreak are evolved from the Asian lineage.
The researchers also found a key viral protein that varied the most between the Asian human strain and the African mosquito strain. This indicates that the virus likely underwent a structural change at some point.
''We suspect these mutations could help the virus replicate more efficiently, evade the body's immune response or invade new tissues that provide a safe harbor for it to spread,'' said co-author Lulan Wang, a graduate student researcher in Dr. Cheng's laboratory.
The researchers' next step will be to analyze the viral strains causing the current epidemic and look for genetic targets for drug and vaccine development.
''Our results have raised new questions about the evolution of the Zika virus, and highlight that a lot more research is needed to understand the relationship between the virus and human disease,'' Dr. Cheng said.
From Mosquitos to Humans: Genetic Evolution of Zika Virus: Cell Host & Microbe
Zika virus (ZIKV), discovered in 1947, had caused sporadic disease throughout Africa and Asia until the 2007 Micronesia and 2013 French Polynesia outbreaks (Broutet et al., 2016xBroutet, N., Krauer, F., Riesen, M., Khalakdina, A., Almiron, M., Aldighieri, S., Espinal, M., Low, N., and Dye, C.N. Engl. J. Med.2016;
CrossRefSee all ReferencesBroutet et al., 2016). The rapid expansion of geographic range and increase in severe pathogenicity first noted in the 2015''2016 Brazilian outbreak has raised questions regarding the molecular evolution of this virus. Previously believed to cause only mild disease, mounting evidence points to the capacity of ZIKV to cause neuropathology, including disorders of fetal brain development and Guillain-Barr(C) syndrome (Broutet et al., 2016xBroutet, N., Krauer, F., Riesen, M., Khalakdina, A., Almiron, M., Aldighieri, S., Espinal, M., Low, N., and Dye, C.N. Engl. J. Med.2016;
CrossRefSee all ReferencesBroutet et al., 2016). In addition to the rise of associated disorders, novel modes of ZIKV transmission have been reported, including maternal-fetal transmission (Brasil et al., 2016xBrasil, P., Pereira, J.P. Jr., Raja Gabaglia, C., Damasceno, L., Wakimoto, M., Ribeiro Nogueira, R.M., Carvalho de Sequeira, P., Machado Siqueira, A., Abreu de Carvalho, L.M., Cotrim da Cunha, D. et al.N. Engl. J. Med.2016;
CrossRef | PubMedSee all References, Calvet et al., 2016xCalvet, G., Aguiar, R.S., Melo, A.S., Sampaio, S.A., de Filippis, I., Fabri, A., Araujo, E.S., de Sequeira, P.C., de Mendon§a, M.C., de Oliveira, L. et al.Lancet Infect. Dis.2016;
Abstract | Full Text | Full Text PDF | PubMedSee all References, Sarno et al., 2016xSarno, M., Sacramento, G.A., Khouri, R., do Rosrio, M.S., Costa, F., Archanjo, G., Santos, L.A., Nery, N. Jr., Vasilakis, N., Ko, A.I., and de Almeida, A.R.PLoS Negl. Trop. Dis.2016; 10: e0004517
CrossRef | Scopus (1)See all References) and sexual transmission (Hills et al., 2016xHills, S.L., Russell, K., Hennessey, M., Williams, C., Oster, A.M., Fischer, M., and Mead, P.MMWR Morb. Mortal. Wkly. Rep.2016; 65: 215''216
CrossRef | PubMedSee all ReferencesHills et al., 2016).
ZIKV is a flavivirus closely related to dengue virus (DENV). Its genome is a single-stranded positive-sense RNA molecule of approximately 10,800 base pairs. A single open reading frame (ORF) is flanked by 5'² and 3'² untranslated regions (UTRs). The resulting single polyprotein is cleaved into the structural proteins capsid (C), pre-membrane protein (prM), and envelope (E) and the non-structural proteins NS1, NS2A, NS2B, NS3, NS4A, 2K, NS4B, and NS5 (Kuno and Chang, 2007xKuno, G. and Chang, G.J.Arch. Virol.2007; 152: 687''696
CrossRef | PubMed | Scopus (44)See all ReferencesKuno and Chang, 2007). Prior genetic and phylogenetic analyses have identified two main ZIKV lineages, African and Asian, and the recent 21st century epidemics have been traced to the Asian lineage (Faye et al., 2014xFaye, O., Freire, C.C., Iamarino, A., Faye, O., de Oliveira, J.V., Diallo, M., Zanotto, P.M., and Sall, A.A.PLoS Negl. Trop. Dis.2014; 8: e2636
CrossRef | PubMed | Scopus (24)See all References, Haddow et al., 2012xHaddow, A.D., Schuh, A.J., Yasuda, C.Y., Kasper, M.R., Heang, V., Huy, R., Guzman, H., Tesh, R.B., and Weaver, S.C.PLoS Negl. Trop. Dis.2012; 6: e1477
CrossRef | PubMed | Scopus (32)See all References, Lanciotti and Lambert, 2016xLanciotti, R.S. and Lambert, A.J.Am. J. Trop. Med. Hyg.2016; 94: 800''803
CrossRefSee all References). Despite circulating throughout Africa and Asia for the latter half of the 20th century, ZIKV infections were not associated with significant human pathology until now. The reasons for this are obscure. It has been hypothesized that the virus may have recently evolved to become more neurotropic, to exhibit increased replicative capacity, and/or to become more transmissible to humans, but causal support for these possibilities is outstanding. To gain a better understanding of the molecular evolution of the virus, we performed detailed phylogenetic and genetic analyses, as well as targeted structural modeling, on all known full-length ORFs of ZIKV available to date (with an emphasis on the recent human strains).
Nucleotide sequences from 41 strains were included in the analysis: 30 human isolates (including two newly reported here), ten mosquito isolates, and one monkey isolate. All sequences greater than 10.1 kb in length were included in the analysis to in order to encompass all complete sequences of ORFs. The strains analyzed, including accession numbers, year, location, and source of isolation, are listed in Table S1xDownload (.26 MB )
Document S1. Figure S1 and Table S1Table S1. We first investigated the phylogenetic relationships for all full-length ORF sequences by using maximum likelihood (ML) mapping method with 1,000 replicates. Consistent with prior reports, there were two major lineages of ZIKV, African and Asian (Figure 1Figure 1A). Interestingly, the African lineage contained eight mosquito isolates, whereas P6-740 (Malaysia/1966) was the sole mosquito isolate in the Asian lineage. All the contemporary human strains share greater sequence homology to P6-740 than IbH-30656 (Nigeria/1968), suggesting that the ZIKV strains in the recent human outbreak are evolved from the Asian lineage, which is anchored by P6-740 (Figure S1xDownload (.26 MB )
Document S1. Figure S1 and Table S1Figure S1). All of the human strains identified in the 2015''2016 epidemic appear to be more closely related to the H/PF/2013 strain (French Polynesia/2013) than the FSM strain (Micronesia/2007), suggesting that perhaps these two variants have evolved in parallel from a common ancestor. Furthermore, compared to the mosquito strain, 435 and 446 nucleotide changes are evident in FSM and H/PF/2013, respectively, and among them 344 nucleotides are identical. Therefore, the two Asian sub-lineages could have diverged from a common ancestor, arrived in Malaysia, established niches, and later dispersed to South America. It is unclear why the ZIKV strain that already existed in 1966 in Malaysia did not have a significant clinical impact until 50 years later in Oceania. A more rigorous analysis of the potential relationship between the genetic changes and epidemiological topography is required, which will be possible as we gain further sequence information on currently circulating clinical strains and their associated pathology.
Figure 1Evolutionary Relationships of Zika Virus
All full-length Zika virus (ZIKV) ORF nucleotide and amino acid sequences (at least 10,100 bp) were obtained from the NIAID Virus Pathogen Database and Analysis Resource (ViPR) (http://www.viprbrc.org) and NCBI GenBank (details listed in Table S1xDownload (.26 MB )
Document S1. Figure S1 and Table S1Table S1).
(A) Phylogenetic tree constructed from nucleotide data from 41 viral complete ORF sequences of ZIKV strains by the maximum-likelihood-method logarithm in MEGA7 based on the Tamura-Nei model. A bootstrap percentage for 1,000 replicates was shown on the left. Branches corresponding to partitions reproduced in less than 70% of bootstrap replicates are not shown. Strains isolated from human, mosquito, and monkey (NIH reference strain) were labeled with blue, orange, and black circles, respectively. The two subtypes were labeled on the right side of the tree. The new strains Rio-U1 and Rio-S1 were highlighted using (').
(B) Graphical representation of unique nucleotide mutations (blue circle) in Natal_RGN, ZKV2015, Rio-U1, and Rio-S1 strains among all (29 total) current human strains within Asian lineage by using pairwise comparisons. Nucleotide alignments were made using MUSCLE from ViPR. Alignment comparisons were made using Jalview V2.9.
We focused further analysis on the nucleotide sequence of four independent human strains with known clinical outcomes. Natal_RGN (KU527068) was isolated from the brain tissue of a fetus with severe microcephaly (Mlakar et al., 2016xMlakar, J., Korva, M., Tul, N., PopoviÄ, M., PoljÅak-Prijatelj, M., Mraz, J., Kolenc, M., Resman Rus, K., Vesnaver Vipotnik, T., Fabjan VoduÅek, V. et al.N. Engl. J. Med.2016; 374: 951''958
CrossRef | PubMed | Scopus (21)See all ReferencesMlakar et al., 2016), and ZKV2015 (KU497555.1) was isolated from the amniotic fluid of a pregnant patient whose fetus was diagnosed with microcephaly (Calvet et al., 2016xCalvet, G., Aguiar, R.S., Melo, A.S., Sampaio, S.A., de Filippis, I., Fabri, A., Araujo, E.S., de Sequeira, P.C., de Mendon§a, M.C., de Oliveira, L. et al.Lancet Infect. Dis.2016;
Abstract | Full Text | Full Text PDF | PubMedSee all ReferencesCalvet et al., 2016). Here, we include two very recent human isolates: Rio-U1 (KU926309.1) and Rio-S1 (KU926310.1) (Bonaldo et al., 2016xBonaldo, M.C., Ribeiro, I.P., Lima, N.S., Santos, A.A.C., Menezes, L.S.R., Cruz, S.O.D., Mello, I.S., Furtado, N.D., Moura, E.E., Damasceno, L. et al.bioRxiv. 2016;
CrossRefSee all ReferencesBonaldo et al., 2016). Rio-U1 was isolated from the urine of a pregnant woman who presented at 18 weeks' gestation with rash and hand arthralgia, edema, and paresthesias. She recovered acutely from her symptoms, her ultrasound at the time of diagnosis was normal, and she continues to be followed. Rio-S1 was isolated from a man who presented with low grade fever, malaise, rash, conjunctival hyperemia, and hand and wrist arthralgias, edema, and paresthesias. His illness self-resolved in 10 days. Compared with the 29 other human strains, the number and distribution of unique nucleotide changes are shown in Figure 1Figure 1B. There were 15, 13, 16, and 15 nucleotide changes in Natal_RGN, ZKV2015, Rio-U1, and Rio-S1, respectively. In pairwise comparisons, there were only three unique amino acid substitutions in Natal_RGN: K940E and T1027A in NS1, and T2509I in NS4B. ZKV2015 had three amino acid substitutions: S550T in E, L1259F in NS2A, and E2831V in NS5. Rio-U1 had only one change: K2039R in NS3. Rio-S1 had three amino acid changes: T625A in E, A2122T in NS4A, and V2688A in NS5.
We were interested in exploring differences in the protein sequence of the African and Asian lineages. Assuming that an African mosquito subtype was the ancestor of the Asian human subtype, we compared the amino acid sequences between eight African strains (seven from mosquitos and one from monkey) and 25 Asian strains isolated from humans. We found that there were 59 amino acid variations located throughout the viral polyprotein sequence that are shared among the individual strains within the African or Asian lineages but are different between these two major lineages (Figure 2Figure 2A). For comparison, the African human (IbH-30656/Nigeria/1968) and Asian mosquito (P6-740/Malaysia/1966) strains are shown. Our phylogenic analysis builds upon prior studies by the addition of the most recent human strains to the analysis and further supports the existence of two divergent African and Asian lineages. An important limitation in the analysis of ancestral strain sequences is the potential that these substitutions were adaptations acquired during passages in mouse brains. This is in comparison to modern isolates that were usually sequenced after low passage numbers in monkey or mosquito cell lines. Viral evolution within the murine host is an important question to consider in future experiments, particularly as mouse models are developed to study pathogenesis (Lazear et al., 2016xLazear, H.M., Govero, J., Smith, A.M., Platt, D.J., Fernandez, E., Miner, J.J., and Diamond, M.S.Cell Host Microbe. 2016;
Abstract | Full Text | Full Text PDF | PubMedSee all ReferencesLazear et al., 2016), as well as antiviral and vaccine development. Further studies are needed to elucidate the sequential acquisition of these mutations and their individual contributions to human pathogenesis.
Figure 2Genetic Evolution of the Asian Lineage and Structural Changes in Pre-Membrane Protein, prM
(A) Graphical illustration of comparison between of Zika virus (ZIKV) from both linages. Amino acid comparisons were made between African (eight mosquito strains and one monkey strain) and Asian lineages (25 human strains). The sequences are aligned using MUSCLE. Conserved mutations were selected using meta-CATS from ViPR. A graphical map (top bar) of conserved amino acids is shown, represented by blue lines. These sites were in the table below, with the addition of an African human isolate (IbH-30656) and an Asian mosquito isolate (P6-740) for reference. Conserved sites from African and Asian lineages were highlighted in orange and blue, whereas non-related substitutions were highlighted in yellow.
(B) Amino acid substitutions were made from pairwise comparisons of P6-740 against all Asian lineage isolates from humans. All mutations in P6-740 were labeled in orange. Using P6-740 as a reference, identical amino acid substitutions in the human isolates were also highlighted orange, and differences were labeled in blue.
(C) PrM protein of ZIKV shows significant structural alterations. Amino acid substitutions between strains are shown in the table inset. The cartoon represents the predicted overall tertiary structural comparison of ZIKV prM proteins from Rio-U1 (cyan) and ARB13565 (yellow). The automated server program CPHmodels-3.0 was employed to build the model according to the homology modeling method. The model was submitted to the SWISS-MODEL Workspace to obtain the 3D structure, then verified using PROCHECK and by Verify3D Structure Evaluation Server and QMEAN. The figure was created in PyMol. The structural templates for the prM protein query sequences were DENV 1 PrM Protein (PDB: 4b03), which shared 48.35% and 50.55% primary sequence identity with the ZIKV PrM proteins from Rio-U1 and ARB13565, respectively. The N and C termini of the structures were labeled with letters. The differences between these two virus strains were shown in sticks.
Due to the recent epidemic and technological advances that now allow rapid and full-length sequencing from direct human isolates, the public bank of human ZIKV sequences has increased from eight at the end of 2014 to 30 as of March 2016. We performed a detailed exploration of the evolution of amino acid polymorphisms of the recent human strains, all of the Asian lineage. Our phylogenetic analysis revealed that all contemporary human isolates share a common ancestor with the P6-740 strain isolated from Aedes aegypti mosquito. Comparison of protein sequences using P6-740 as the Asian reference showed that FSM had over 400 variations at the nucleotide level and 26 unique substitutions at the protein level (Figure 2Figure 2B). Interestingly, when we investigated the sequences of selected human strains identified in more recent epidemics (including FSM, H/PF/2013, and Brazilian strains), we found that all of these strains have acquired changes at an additional eight positions, for a total of 34 amino acid changes compared to P6-740 (Figure 2Figure 2B). Furthermore, all isolates show identical amino acids at these positions, with the exception of position T2634M/V in the NS5 protein.
Although ZIKV is believed to be primarily transmitted through the mosquito vector, it is interesting to note that no known ZIKV mosquito isolate possesses the same nucleotide sequence as the human strains. One possible explanation is sampling bias, where more recent efforts have focused on isolating the virus from infected humans rather than mosquito arbovirus surveillance. However, it is notable that Duffy et al. were unable to detect ZIKV in mosquitos despite active surveillance during the Micronesia outbreak (Duffy et al., 2009xDuffy, M.R., Chen, T.H., Hancock, W.T., Powers, A.M., Kool, J.L., Lanciotti, R.S., Pretrick, M., Marfel, M., Holzbauer, S., Dubray, C. et al.N. Engl. J. Med.2009; 360: 2536''2543
CrossRef | PubMed | Scopus (132)See all ReferencesDuffy et al., 2009). Alternatively, it is possible that other routes of transmission, such as sexual transmission, may have a greater contribution to the wide spread of ZIKV in the Americas. Intriguingly, it was recently reported that New World strains of Aedes aegypti and albopictus are poor transmitters of ZIKV (Chouin-Carneiro et al., 2016xChouin-Carneiro, T., Vega-Rua, A., Vazeille, M., Yebakima, A., Girod, R., Goindin, D., Dupont-Rouzeyrol, M., Louren§o-de-Oliveira, R., and Failloux, A.B.PLoS Negl. Trop. Dis.2016; 10: e0004543
CrossRefSee all ReferencesChouin-Carneiro et al., 2016). Clearly, more studies are urgently needed on natural vector transmission of ZIKV in Asia and the Americas, as well as the possibility of a more prominent contribution of alternative modes of transmission.
In addition to alterations in protein sequences and structures during ZIKV evolution, nucleotide sequence changes may have an impact on viral genomic stability, replicative efficiency, and thus viral fitness and transmissibility. Strains from the recent epidemic in Brazil showed 14''18 nucleotide mutations compared to the other strains of the Asian lineage isolated from humans. While the nucleotide changes in ZKV2015, Rio-U1, and Rio-S1 are distributed throughout the viral genomic RNA, 50% of the mutations in Natal_RGN, which was isolated from the brain, are located in the NS1 gene. The phenomenon of tissue-specific mutations has been reported for hepatitis C virus, another flavivirus with infectivity to the brain, liver, and blood (Ramachandran et al., 2011xRamachandran, S., Campo, D.S., Dimitrova, Z.E., Xia, G.L., Purdy, M.A., and Khudyakov, Y.E.J. Virol.2011; 85: 6369''6380
CrossRef | PubMed | Scopus (42)See all ReferencesRamachandran et al., 2011). No samples from the brain were taken from the fetus with ZKV2015, and therefore tissue-specific evolution of ZIKV cannot be definitively supported from the available data. However, as more samples isolated from different compartments with known clinical outcomes become available, additional genetic and biochemical assays to determine the potential impact of these changes on viral pathogenesis will be possible.
The pr region of prM protein had the highest percentage variability between the Asian human and the African mosquito subtypes. Six of the 59 ('¼10%) amino acid variations between these subtypes, namely I110V, K143E, A148P, V153M, H157Y, and V158I, were in the pr region of prM. Furthermore, within the Asian lineage, there were three additional changes in human strains compared to the mosquito strain P6-740: V123A, S139N, and V153M. Structural predictions based on the DENV 1 pr protein (PDB: 4b03) showed significant differences between Rio-U1 and ARB13565 (Figure 2Figure 2C). Our analysis predicts that A148P could possibly play a critical role in mediating a ten-amino-acid structural change from a loop into a continuous Î² sheet. This change was only present in human isolates from both lineages, which suggests a potential relevance in human infectivity.
PrM forms a heterodimer with the main viral surface protein, E, in the neutral pH of the lumen of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). Immature viral particles translocate from the ER to the highly acidic environment of the trans-Golgi network where they are packaged into exosomes. The process of viral maturation takes place in the low-pH environment where viral surface proteins go through a drastic conformational rearrangement due to dissociation of prM-E, formation of E homodimers, and exposure of the prM cleavage site to furin protease. The cleaved pr shields the E protein fusion loop throughout the low-pH condition to prevent secretion of immature particles from the vesicles, and it only dissociates from virions in the extracellular environment (Zhang et al., 2012xZhang, Q., Hunke, C., Yau, Y.H., Seow, V., Lee, S., Tanner, L.B., Guan, X.L., Wenk, M.R., Fibriansah, G., Chew, P.L. et al.J. Biol. Chem.2012; 287: 40525''40534
CrossRef | PubMed | Scopus (11)See all ReferencesZhang et al., 2012). The role of prM in viral pathogenesis has been under extensive investigation over the past few years. It has been shown that prM plays a critical role in viral assembly, maturation, heterodimer formation with the E protein, particle secretion, and virulence (Zhang et al., 2012xZhang, Q., Hunke, C., Yau, Y.H., Seow, V., Lee, S., Tanner, L.B., Guan, X.L., Wenk, M.R., Fibriansah, G., Chew, P.L. et al.J. Biol. Chem.2012; 287: 40525''40534
CrossRef | PubMed | Scopus (11)See all ReferencesZhang et al., 2012). In our analysis, the six amino acid substitutions in prM (I110V, K143E, A148P, V153M, H157Y, and V158I) resulted in a dramatic predicted structural change of prM between the African and Asian strains. The effect of this structural change on viral function is currently unknown, and further investigations are required to determine whether the observed amino acid changes in prM might have altered the viral pathogenesis of the Asian strain.
It should be noted that Faria et al. have published a recent report detailing a similar phylogenetic analysis on sequences obtained from the Brazilian epidemic (Faria et al., 2016xFaria, N.R., Azevedo, R.D., Kraemer, M.U.G., Souza, R., Cunha, M.S., Hill, S.C., Th(C)z(C), J., Bonsall, M.B., Bowden, T.A., Rissanen, I. et al.Science. 2016;
CrossRef | PubMedSee all ReferencesFaria et al., 2016). Our phylogenetic analysis builds upon theirs with additional sequences, as the new strains they reported were available on GenBank when we started this study. However, because detailed clinical information was not available at the time, we did not include these strains in the detailed nucleotide sequence analysis of select strains with known clinical outcomes (Figure 1Figure 1B). Further, we utilized an alternative approach to structural modeling: rather than mapping, we generated two structural models and overlapped them, leading us to predict the structural change in prM protein.
Our phylogenetic analysis has revealed numerous sequence variations in ZIKV genomes between the African and Asian lineages, as well as among different strains within Asian lineage, as the clinical disease caused by ZIKV has changed from causing only a benign illness to now including severe neuropathology. Our modeling studies suggest that these sequence variations could mediate specific changes in the prM protein, which could play a role in virulence or improved fitness. In addition, we have narrowed these changes to a reasonable number of amino acid or nucleotide changes that can be tested for their effect on ZIKV infectivity. Future experiments will be required to determine which amino acid or nucleotide substitutions are directly responsible for the possible increased neurotropism, heightened viral fitness, and enhanced transmissibility and infectivity from the mosquito vector to the human host.
Dr. Sonja A. Rasmussen: Zika virus now proven to cause microcephaly
Atlanta, GA, April 14, 2016 '' In a report published yesterday in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) laid out conclusive evidence linking Zika virus infection with microcephaly and other birth defects.
Authored by the CDC's Dr. Sonja A. Rasmussen, et al., the report '' ''Zika virus and birth defects '' reviewing the evidence for causality'' '' stated, ''On the basis of this review, we conclude that a causal relationship exists between prenatal Zika virus infection and microcephaly and other serious brain anomalies.''
The key evidence laid out in the report included:
Many documented cases of maternal Zika virus infection which occurred during stages of prenatal development that were consistent with the defects observed.A specific, rare phenotype involving microcephaly and associated brain anomalies that has been detected in fetuses or infants with presumed or confirmed congenital Zika virus infection.Data that strongly support biologic plausibility, including the identification of Zika virus in the brain tissues of affected fetuses and infants."We've been very careful over the last few months to say, 'It's linked to, it's associated with.' We've been careful to say it's not the cause of," said Dr. Rasmussen. "I think our messages will now be more direct."
"There is no longer any doubt that Zika causes microcephaly," emphasized CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden, adding that it is also clear Zika causes other serious defects, including the production of damaging calcium buildups in the developing brain.
Dr. Bruce Aylward, who is leading the World Health Organization's Zika virus response, applauded the CDC report, adding, "We feel it's time to move from precautionary language to more forceful language to get people to take action."
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An Amateur vs. ISIS: A Car Salesman Investigates and Ends Up in Prison - NYTimes.com
WYOMING, Del. '-- By his own account, Toby Lopez was a supremely ordinary guy. He sold Toyotas and lived with his mother in a tidy rancher here with a cherry tree out front. He was proud that he could connect with customers '-- anyone from a Superior Court judge to, as he put it, ''Redneck Bill from down on the farm.'' What passed for excitement was the time his young niece won a beauty contest and he chauffeured her in a red Corvette in a local parade.
Then a high school friend was killed in Afghanistan, and the Islamic State began beheading American journalists. Horrified, Mr. Lopez heard on CNN one day in the fall of 2014 that the Islamic State was active on Twitter, and he went online to see what he could find. ''I was intrigued,'' said Mr. Lopez, 42. ''What could they possibly be saying on Twitter?''
What followed was a radical break from his humdrum life. He was pulled into the murky world of Internet jihadists, sparring with them from his office at the car dealership and late into the night at home. Before long, he was talking for hours on Skype with a man who claimed '-- falsely, as it would turn out '-- to be a top ISIS military commander, trying to negotiate the release of hostages. Mr. Lopez contacted the F.B.I. and began a testy relationship with counterterrorism agents who came to believe he might pose a danger. In the end, he landed in federal prison, where he was held for nearly 14 months without trial.
The story of one man's deepening obsession with a terrorist group is a reminder of how the Internet provides easy portals to distant, sometimes dangerous worlds. It shows the complications for law enforcement agents who confront an overeager amateur encroaching on their turf.
But it also underscores how lost a person can feel inside the criminal justice system. Deprived of his freedom, his sanity in question, Mr. Lopez found himself without a legal advocate he trusted or access to evidence he believed could free him.
Interactive Feature | Trying to Negotiate Ransom
The hundreds of emails, text messages and recorded Skype calls that Mr. Lopez saved show him growing more and more frantic when F.B.I. agents did not see things his way. Believing American hostages' lives were at stake, he sent an agent 80 increasingly overheated messages in 10 days. In one, he declared, ''Just remember whatever ends up happening to you '... You deserved it,'' and added an expletive. On Feb. 11, 2015, a dozen police and F.B.I. cars surrounded the house with the cherry tree, arrested Mr. Lopez and charged him with transmitting a threat.
He was shuttled among federal facilities in Pennsylvania, New York, Oklahoma and North Carolina. Without access to his records, prison psychologists assumed his tales of talking to Islamic State members were fiction, symptoms of a mental illness that made him incompetent to stand trial. Prosecutors sought a hearing to decide whether he should be forcibly medicated.
The defense finally obtained a third mental health evaluation '-- the first one by a psychologist who had actually reviewed Mr. Lopez's voluminous files. It found him competent, and he was released on bail late last month.
''Without having the documents,'' Kirk Heilbrun, a Drexel University psychologist, wrote in his March 2 evaluation, ''I would have concluded that his account of this entire series of events sounded both grandiose and delusional. Having reviewed these documents, however, I would not describe his account as delusional.''
On Friday, the United States attorney's office in Delaware said it had taken the ''exceedingly rare'' step of dropping the charges. ''We have not hesitated to do so when the facts and law support such a decision,'' a statement said.
In an interview last week, Mr. Lopez's voice broke as he described his prison ordeal. ''Nobody deserves to get dragged through what I got dragged through, along with my family,'' he said. ''It's sad that when someone does something with righteous intentions and gets treated by the government this way.''
Finding Internet AdversariesBy his own admission, Mr. Lopez knew almost nothing about the Islamic State before 2014. Athletic and fun-loving, he had managed an Italian restaurant for years before becoming a car salesman. He became addicted to painkillers for a while, but he kicked the habit and has been off drugs for several years, he said. ''Toby is your regular guy,'' said Mary Roloff, who is married to Mr. Lopez's half brother, Edward.
At first, Mr. Lopez said, he started insulting people who praised the Islamic State on Twitter. Then he decided to learn more about his social media adversaries. He picked up a few Islamic terms online and began to engage the terrorist group's supporters, even quoting the Quran to counter them. He found the anonymity of the Internet intoxicating. As he put it, nobody knew he was ''little Toby, the car salesman from Delaware.''
On Google, Mr. Lopez discovered that one man who had engaged him on Twitter, calling himself @shishaniomar, seemed to be Omar al-Shishani, or Omar the Chechen, the nom de guerre of the military commander of the Islamic State. Soon the two were regularly chatting on Skype. By early November 2014, he had left his job, agreeing with his boss that his online life had become a distraction.
The man who claimed to be the Islamic State commander regaled him with tales of battle, grumbled about condescending Arab bosses and called Mr. Lopez ''brother.'' The man confided that he did not believe that Islam condoned the taking of women and children as slaves. Soon he asked Mr. Lopez to raise ransom to free hundreds of members of the Yazidi religious minority held hostage by the Islamic State.
When relatives gathered for Thanksgiving in 2014 at the Roloffs' home near Baltimore, Mr. Lopez showed them jihadist videos and text message exchanges with Islamic State fans.
''We love 'CSI,''' Ms. Roloff said. ''We thought, 'This is really cool.' But some of what he shared with us '-- like videos of kids hanging from a tree '-- started to scare me. It was beyond our comprehension.''
Mr. Lopez contacted the F.B.I., and two agents visited his home and interviewed him, he said. Through Allan Ripp, a New York public relations specialist he found online, Mr. Lopez also contacted The New York Times. Two reporters visited him in January 2015 and spent several hours reviewing his emails, texts and audio recordings.
But after checking with experts, the reporters concluded that Mr. Lopez was talking not to the real, red-bearded Mr. Shishani, but to an impostor. The actual commander did not speak fluent English, and the language overheard in the background of Skype calls was not Chechen, as the impostor claimed, but Kurdish. His multiple Twitter accounts had an antic tone; he once posted a ''Simpsons'' cartoon about the Islamic State.
''It's definitely a fake,'' Joanna Paraszczuk, a British journalist and researcher who tracks the Chechens fighting in Syria, said by email. She said the same man had duped an Australian radio station into interviewing him but later admitted that he was not the ISIS commander, but a Kurdish immigrant to Scandinavia.
The man's motive appeared to be money: He asked Mr. Lopez to bring the ransom to Sweden, supposedly to be forwarded to Syria.
When the Times reporters told Mr. Lopez they did not believe he was dealing with the real Islamic State commander, he grew angry. He was hearing similar skepticism from the F.B.I., according to email exchanges with Jeffrey A. Reising, a senior counterterrorism agent based in Wilmington, Del.
From the emails, it appears that Mr. Reising was exploring Mr. Lopez's contacts even as he tried to persuade him to disengage from the online jihadist world. But Mr. Lopez connected with a second Twitter user claiming to be an Islamic State figure who could get American hostages released, and Mr. Lopez tried to contact several hostages' families. At least one of them complained to the F.B.I.
Convinced that he could save lives, Mr. Lopez brushed off Mr. Reising's warnings. He wrote dozens of emails to the F.B.I., some proposing that he talk to the bureau's director or even to President Obama. He focused on the case of Kayla Mueller, a 26-year-old American aid worker being held by the Islamic State. His online contacts had suggested that she might be freed.
Despite his doubts about Mr. Lopez's exploits, Mr. Reising appeared to believe he might have stumbled across useful information. ''Can you provide all contact information for the person on that chat?'' he wrote to Mr. Lopez on Feb. 4, 2015, referring to an exchange with a purported Islamic State representative.
Near midnight, Mr. Lopez excitedly emailed the F.B.I. agent. ''I want to bring her home alive,'' he wrote. ''I know I can do it and I will look the PRESIDENT in his eyes and tell him exactly that '... Anything else your fooling yourself and your in denial!! Good night!''
The weary F.B.I. agent replied: ''Toby'....Seriously. Get some sleep.''
When Ms. Mueller was reported killed two days later in an airstrike, Mr. Lopez was furious and blamed the F.B.I. for not cooperating with him. His messages to the bureau grew more defiant.
''Any attempt to arrest me will be treated as a hostile act,'' he wrote to Mr. Reising. By then, agents had been informed by the Delaware State Police that Mr. Lopez's mother, Joyce Lopez, had told them that her son had a shotgun and was in a ''poor mental state.'' Mrs. Lopez, 78, said recently that she had simply asked whether the gun had to be registered.
By Feb. 11, the F.B.I. had had enough. Mrs. Lopez arrived home to find her house surrounded. ''Cars all over the place,'' she recalled. ''Toby was standing there with his hands up. I said, 'What's wrong?'''
The authorities had interpreted Mr. Lopez's heated emails as a ''threat to injure'' Mr. Reising, a crime with a sentence of up to five years. Mr. Lopez said later that he had threatened only to expose what he considered government bungling to the news media. He was locked up, and federal prosecutors soon sought a court order for a mental health assessment.
'Your Brother Is Very Sick'At an initial court hearing in Wilmington, family members urged Mr. Lopez's public defender, Daniel I. Siegel, to collect the records of his online contacts, which they thought showed his intentions were good. By their account, Mr. Siegel ignored their pleas. ''He just said, 'Your brother is very sick and he needs help,''' Ms. Roloff recalled.
Mr. Lopez said Mr. Siegel never came to see him in the year that followed, as he cycled through the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan (where he surprised a few terrorism defendants with Arabic phrases); a medical prison in Butner, N.C., (where he played on the softball team); and three other facilities.
The first two psychological evaluations found that Mr. Lopez was suffering from ''delusional disorder, grandiose type.'' To Mr. Lopez's distress, Mr. Siegel did not contest the findings.
A year into Mr. Lopez's imprisonment, after complaints from his family and reporters' inquiries, Edson A. Bostic, the chief federal public defender in Delaware, took over the case. He quickly obtained from the family the files documenting Mr. Lopez's online history and arranged for the third psychological assessment.
Dr. Heilbrun, the Drexel psychologist, declared in his report that if Mr. Lopez had not been talking with the real Mr. Shishani (who was killed last month), then someone posing as the Islamic State commander had pulled off ''a clever, detailed, and well-constructed hoax.''
In a statement on Friday, Mr. Bostic called the case ''a complex matter'' and praised Mr. Siegel's record of representing indigent clients. But he said the complaints from Mr. Lopez and his family would be investigated. Mr. Siegel did not respond to emails seeking comment.
Now that the charges have been dropped, Mr. Lopez, who missed two family weddings while in prison, is reconnecting with friends and relatives.
''All over you see those billboards that say, 'See Something; Say Something,''' said Tana Stevens, Mr. Lopez's sister. ''He tried to do that. And they basically kidnapped him for 14 months.''
Mr. Lopez said he had consulted lawyers and was considering a lawsuit against the government officials responsible for his incarceration. ''If I hadn't gotten another evaluation, I might still be sitting down at Butner, with a needle in my arm,'' he said. ''This was the United States of America, flexing its muscles on me.''
MH17: Ukrainian fighter jet shot Malaysia Airlines plane, BBC documentary claims | World | News | Daily Express
MH-17 crashed over eastern Ukraine killing 298 peopleThe Boeing 777 exploded over eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014, killing 298 people.
The official report concluded that the jet, bound for Kuala Lumpur, was downed by a Russian-made Buk missile fired from a Ukraine area under the control of Russian-backed rebels.
However, the programme will present new evidence that a Ukrainian fighter jet may have shot down the aircraft.
Related articlesAnother theory is that a CIA-backed ''terrorist operation'' planted two bombs on the airliner.
We heard a bang. At first we saw black smoke and two planes, little ones like silver toys
Witness Natasha Beronina
Witnesses directly beneath the exploding aircraft report seeing at least one fighter jet.
Natasha Beronina said: ''It was summer, harvest time. We heard a bang. At first we saw black smoke and two planes, little ones like silver toys. One flew straight on and the other one turned round when the bang happened and flew back from where it had come.''
German investigative journalist Billy Six interviewed 100 witnesses, seven of whom said they saw a fighter jet.
The fuselage of MH-17 was reconstructed as part of the investigationSix said: ''One of them even told me how he saw it launch a missile. It was like a small line in the sky going into the clouds. Then he heard the big boom.''
He believes two jets shot it down '' one firing a canon from the back into the cockpit to destroy the crew.
Then another fired an air-to-air missile. In the intense propaganda war between Ukraine and Moscow, Russia media reported the name of a pilot they believed was responsible, Captain Vladislav Voloshin, based at a southern Ukraine airfield. In an interview, he denied the allegations made by a mechanic on the base.
Captain Vladislav Voloshin denies he was responsible for the crashHe said: ''We did not carry out flights on July 17. The mechanic also says that three aircraft went out on a mission and I was the only one to return. But again this actually happened on the 23rd.
''He said that the aircraft was carrying air-to-air missiles. There were no air-to-air missiles. I was carrying air-to-surface weapons for ground targets.''
The most shocking allegations come from private investigator Sergey Sokolov. He deployed more than 100 of his agents to investigate the site and examine evidence.
He said they found no shrapnel from a Buk missile. Sokolov said he was ''sold'' a phone intercept between two CIA agents that suggests they masterminded the planting two bombs on MH-17.
Private investigator Sergey Sokolovhad over 100 agents at the crash site and examining evidenceThe CIA, he claimed, was helped by the Ukrainian secret service. Sokolov said: ''The driving force of the operation were CIA agents and the Dutch security service also had a part to play as the bombs were put on the plane in Holland and this couldn't have been done anywhere else.''
He added ''This terrorist act was a pretext for firstly intensifying sanctions on Russia, secondly to show the world that Russia is a barbarian country and thirdly to strengthen the presence of Nato in Europe, particularly Ukraine.''
However, the documentary tells how British investigative blogging site, Bellingcat, supports the official version that a Buk missile was fi red at the aircraft by Russian-backed rebels.
Conspiracy Files: Who Shot Down MH17?, written and produced by Mike Rudin, BBC Two, May 3, 9pm.
A photographic exhibition in Geneva is at the centre of a diplomatic row between Switzerland and Turkey.Once again a cultural event contains criticism of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Ankara has asked for it to be removed.
The expo includes a photo of a boy who was shot in an anti-government demonstration in Istanbul. Beside the boy's photo is a message blaming his death on Turkish government orders to the Police.
Photographer Demir Sonmez is a Kurdish-Armenian who gave up his Turkish nationality in 2005. He is proud of his exhibition which also includes dozens of photos of demonstrations which have taken place in front of the United Nations in Geneva over the years.
He said he was shocked at the Turkish reaction:
''I am shocked but at the same time I am not surprised, because Mr. Erdogan and his government have no tolerance whatsoever for freedom of expression and freedom of information.''
Geneva has rejected Ankara's request and its Vice Mayor Guillaume Barazzone said:
''Geneva will not allow any country to have an impact in this matter. Switzerland is a country with freedom of expression. Therefore the administrative council will support this Exhibition and it is out of the question to remove this photograph.''
The Swiss decision is in contrast to that of Germany's recent move to allow prosecutors to pursue a case against a satirist after he recited a crude poem about the Turkish leader on German television.
Turkish prosecutors have opened more than 1,800 cases against people for insulting Erdogan since he became president, according to Turkey's justice ministry. Those targeted include journalists, cartoonists and even children.
VIDEO-Strike causes major disruption at German airports | euronews, world news
"If you don't stand up for your rights, then you get squashed. So sometimes people need to stand up and, if it's for a right cause, then there is no problem"
There is bad news for air passengers in Germany, with strike action causing major disruption at airports.
Lufthansa was set to cancel almost 900 flights on Wednesday.
Public sector workers are demanding higher wages, with security and check-in staff among those taking part in the strike action.
Airport operators say it could take a day or two for services to return to normal.
Some passengers appeared to be sympathetic.
''If you don't stand up for your rights, then you get squashed. So sometimes people need to stand up and, if it's for a right cause, then there is no problem. We just have to understand,'' said Oliver Munich, a traveller from South Africa.
Similar strikes have taken place this week at street cleaning services, schools and swimming pools.
The Verdi union represents a wide range of public sector workers across Germany, or 2.41 million people in total. The strikes, which it classes as ''warnings,'' have been condemned by aviation associations.
Verdi chief Frank Bsirske defended the move in an interview with daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung, saying the action was to speed up wage negotiations.
Verdi is asking for a six percent pay rise for its members. It rejected an offer of a three percent rise over two years in mid-April. Talks are due to resume on Thursday.
VIDEO-Austria passes tough new aslyum laws | euronews, world news
"These plans are shamelessly against European rules, history, logic and the future"
Austria passes tough new asylum lawsReported plans for a fence at Brenner PassRestrictions 'not justified' '' ItalySome say vote has political aspectWhat is happening?The Austrian parliament has passed controversial legislation paving the way for tougher measures on asylum.
It includes, for example, an accelerated process for assessing potential asylum claims under which migrants could be turned away at the border.
Asylum will only be granted to people who are likely to be persecuted if they are sent back to their country of origin.
Refugees who already have close family living in Austria would also be allowed to remain.
Parliament would have to confirm that public order and security are under threat for the measures to be implemented.
What is happening at the Brenner Pass?Media reports suggest Austria is planning to build a fence at the border with Italy.
Work on the barrier will form part of Vienna's preparations for controls to be introduced if a predicted surge in migrant numbers materialises.
Austrian officials say they expect a wave of migrants to head north soon.
Is Italy happy about this?No.
Rome says border restrictions at the Brenner Pass north-south transport link are not justified, given the small number of migrants arriving there.
Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi says the plans are ''shamelessly against European rules, as well as being against history, against logic and against the future.''
Additionally, the Brenner Pass is the busiest route through the Alps.
It is Italy's main transport link to Germany, its top trading partner. Controls will slow down traffic and could impact on trade.
What are the reported plans?A 400 metre-long fence at the borderThree checkpoints on the motorway(Sources: Tiroler Tageszeitung, APA)
Why has Austria suddenly toughened its stance against migrants?Opinion is divided.
Some say it is in response to a predicted surge of migrants arriving from Italy via the central Mediterranean route.
Others think there is a political aspect to the vote.
The Austrian parliament passed the new legislation just days after a far-right party came top in the first round of the country's presidential election.
VIDEO-'America First' '' Trump outlines his foreign policy plan | euronews, world news
"My foreign policy will always put the interests of the American people and American security above all else"
A rare policy speechSlams Obama's international legacyPledges to work with Middle East alliesWarned allies must pay their share of defence budget''America First''Donald Trump has set out his plan for foreign policy if he becomes the next president of the United States.
The Republican presidential hopeful says he plans to put ''America First''.
Trump, who normally speaks off-the-cuff, used an autocue to deliver this speech at a hotel in central Washington.
He will, he says, put ''America First''.
''My foreign policy will always put the interests of the American people and American security above all else. Has to be first. has to be. That will be the foundation of every single decision that I will make''
Fresh from a winning sweep of five northeastern primaries, Trump expanded on a foreign policy that has lacked detail and worried experts in both parties.
What did he say about Obama?Trump delivered a withering critique of Barack Obama's international record, pledging to ''shake the rust off America's foreign policy''.
The current administration is leaving a legacy of ''weakness, confusion and disarray,'' he said.
''We went from mistakes in Iraq to Egypt to Libya to President Obama's line in the sand in Syria. Each of these actions have helped to throw the region into chaos and to give ISIS the space it needs to grow and prosper. Very bad''.
He also criticised Democrat front-runner Hillary Clinton's handling of the deadly attacks on a US compound in Benghazi in Libya.
He claimed the Democratic president has let China take advantage of the United States and has failed to defeat ISIL militants.
Trump pledged to seek better relations with Russia and China and promised to force US allies to bear more of the financial burden for defence.
What did he say about Russia?''An easing of tensions with Russia from a position of strength'' is possible, according to the Republican front-runner.
Relations between Washington and Moscow are at a particularly low ebb due to a number of issues, including Moscow's support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Did he say anything about China?Yes.
The New York billionaire said he would use US economic leverage to persuade China to rein in North Korea's nuclear programme.
''China respects strength and by letting them take advantage of us economically, we have lost all their respect,'' he said.
What about ISIL?''Their days are numbered,'' Trump said, ''I won't tell then when and I won't tell them how.''
Despite the anti-muslim tone of his campaign to date, Trump pledged to work closely with US allies in the Middle East to combat extremism.
''Containing the spread of radical Islam must be a major foreign policy goal of the United States and indeed, the world,'' he said.
How big an issue is money?A very big one.
Trump claimed allies of the United States have benefited from the US defence umbrella but have not paid their fair share.
He says he will call separate summits of NATO and Asian allies to discuss a ''re-balancing'' of the US financial commitment to their defence.
''The countries we defend must pay for the cost of this defence. If not, the US must be prepared to let these countries defend themselves. We have no choice.''
VIDEO-OECD warns of 'Brexit tax' if UK leaves EU | euronews, world news
British voters face 'Brexit tax' if they leave EUOECD says 'no upside' for UK in a BrexitLeave camp says OECD report is unreliableIt will cost the average British household the equivalent of a month's salary of around 2,800 euros by 2020 if they vote leave to leave the European Union in a June referendum.
That's the warning from the the west's leading economics thinktank, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. (OECD).
It was made by its chief Angel Gurria during a lecture at the London School of Economics.
''Brexit would, rather like a tax, hit the wellbeing and the pockets of UK citizens. Unlike most taxes, however, this one will not finance the provision of public services or close the fiscal gap. The 'Brexit tax' would be a pure deadweight loss,'' said Gurria.
Echoing the assessment made by the Treasury earlier this month, the chief of the 34-nation OECD said the costs of exit would increase over time. ''By 2030, in a central scenario GDP would be over five percent lower than otherwise,'' it said, ''with the cost of Brexit equivalent to £2,200 per household (in today's prices).'' The Treasury predicted that the economy would be six percent smaller by 2030.
Gurria also said those campaigning to leave the EU were ''delusional'' over Britain's trading prospects which he said would suffer from less access to the bloc's single market.
''Our conclusion is unequivocal. The UK is much stronger as a part of Europe and Europe is much stronger with the UK as a driving force. There is no upside for the UK in Brexit.''
The OECD's entry into the debate has not been welcomed by the Out campaign. They have challenged the organisation's credibility, recalling how it had once suggested Britain might benefit from joining the euro currency.
They have also accused the organisation of making ''improbable assumptions'' that a post-Brexit Britain would initially have less favourable trading ties with the EU than South Korea or Mexico.
British economists who support leaving the EU will announce their results shortly.
VIDEO-Nomiki Konst: Clinton-Supporting Correct The Record Spent $1 Million on 'Internet Trolls' - YouTube
Despite what you hear in the news from the Obama administration and the military, our strategy of conducting infrequent airstrikes and re-taking pockets of Iraq and Syria terrain will only help us achieve short-lived tactical victories.
We will not ultimately and strategically defeat ISIS on our current path. Nearly fifteen years have passed since the United States was attacked on 9/11 by Al Qaeda terrorists.
It has been over eighteen months since its ideological fellow travelers of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) captured a broad swath of Iraq. ISIS continues to add to its recruitment pool of more than thirty-six thousand foreign fighters from approximately eighty different countries '' already a formidable coalition.
Given its Internet sophistication and the attraction the group has with vast numbers of potential recruits from among disaffected populations around the globe, ISIS has the realistic potential to eventually swell its ranks of jihadists waging a ''holy war'' to hundreds of thousands in both the western and eastern hemispheres.
Somewhere along our national journey our political leaders lost the clarity of vision, our military commanders the habits of strategic thought, and our public the determined will to achieve victory.
Already ISIS has expanded well beyond its self-proclaimed ''caliphate'' in Iraq and Syria, with pledges of allegiance from extremist groups in Algeria, Libya, Egypt, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Dagestan. ISIS's intent is to network these islands of extremism into a radical Islamic archipelago, with global ambitions for conquest.
A decade-and-a-half into this conflict we must acknowledge and take seriously not only the fanatical commitment of radical Islamic jihadists and their malevolent long-term intentions toward us, but also the fact that the threat has spread far beyond the Middle East. This shadow now darkens the prospects and threatens the well-being of hundreds of millions of people around the world. The continued forced migration of millions of refugees from the Middle East into the heart of Europe only hints at the mid- and long-term threat ISIS and its global army of jihadists pose.
Put simply, we are still at war with radical Islamic groups and an ideological movement that can't be ignored nor wished away. We have to face the fact that ISIS and its army of like-minded jihadists are determined to win that war, and believe they are on the path to victory. They may well be right.
That raises two blunt and vital questions that almost never get asked in Washington, D.C. Do we even know how to win wars anymore? Does America still have what it takes? Sadly, I have come to the conclusion that the answers to both those questions are that we probably don't.
Somewhere along our national journey our political leaders lost the clarity of vision, our military commanders the habits of strategic thought, and our public the determined will to achieve victory. There are times when it almost seems as if the idea of truly winning-- stealing the willingness to continue fighting away from the enemy, and creating a real sense of a victor and a vanquished '' has become too politically incorrect. I believe our inability to achieve victory stems mainly from having lost sight as a nation of what it means to win, and of the vital importance of doing so in our own interests.
Losing Our Way
Many factors have led to our current status as a country seemingly perpetually at war, yet rarely victorious. First, because we abandoned a draft military back in the 1970s, the public has lost the personal stake it once had in any political decision to go to war. As a result, many Americans view the all-volunteer force as a mercenary army to be thanked for its service in airports, but without any true appreciation or concern for the real human costs involved in war. Taking their cue from voters, politicians use the all-volunteer force as a policy plaything that they are willing to deploy with only the vaguest objectives, because the perceived political costs of doing so are low. The urgency that used to attend a decision to use military force, and bring operations to a rapid and decisive end, have dissipated.
It is difficult to overstate how this change in U.S. tradition has altered the calculus on the use of military force. Decisions to deploy the all-volunteer force on endless rotations and in the furtherance of vague goals that fall well short of victory have become the norm. Experience has shown that this system of perpetual deployments places an unconscionable burden on our soldiers'--particular among the junior ranks and junior non-commissioned officers. Not surprisingly, such policies appear to be a significant factor in the greatly increased number of divorces, collapse of families, and suicides among our returning service members.
Over many years such feckless political guidance and the overly bureaucratic system it has engendered have also affected the mindset of military leaders. Military leaders have been conditioned throughout their careers to accept ''wish for the best'' strategies and missions usually aimed at maintaining a shaky status quo, or containing as opposed to decisively defeating an enemy.
The Pentagon bureaucracy has evolved a similar intellectual complacency that encourages ''protect-my-rice-bowl'' tactics and petty interagency jealousies that work against the successful ''whole of government'' approaches required to achieve lasting victories. This bureaucracy places such a chokehold on how the military operates today that we are now incapable of envisioning, planning and executing a strategy with clear metrics for success. Along the way, a U.S. military organization that once prided itself on strategic acumen and historical understanding of how to fight and win the nation's wars has devolved into a vast bureaucracy designed to rotate units efficiently in endless deployments that have no clear pathway to victory.
A Path to Victory
The ability to capture the physical and moral high ground in conflict, and hold it long enough to achieve victory, stems mainly from political decisions. The commander-in-chief must have the will to direct the necessary actions.
For their part, our military leaders must be brutally honest in their assessments of what is required to achieve victory, and they should feel morally bound to resist participating in wars with no clear metrics describing a victorious end state. First and foremost, military leaders should stop pretending that we're winning the current war against ISIS and its affiliates. We are not.
The American people must also be given a more direct stake in the outcome of this global conflict. For example, if the military '' including the Reserve and the National Guard through a mandatory call-up '' were told to go to war, and that it would not be coming home until that war was won, we would organize and fight much differently than we have done for the past few decades.
We did exactly that when America habitually used to win wars. My father was a World War II veteran; when he deployed to Europe, he wasn't told he'd be home in four to six months, or after his unit's first year-long rotation to the European theater was completed. He was simply told by his leaders to go win the war on the European continent '' which he and his fellow troops did. My father served proudly as a corporal until the job was done.
Why shouldn't we do the same today if we are serious about winning the war against ISIS? If our military was directed to go fight that war with the specific understanding that it would be required to stay until the war was won, we would plan and fight much differently than we do today. More urgent and focused planning -- as reflected in reformed policies and procedures that subjugate convenience and efficiency to the imperative of winning '' would in my assessment result in wars that would be far less costly than the perpetual funk of endless conflict in which we now find ourselves.
Such a change in mindset would preclude, for example, the construction of large U.S. bases in war zones with all the creature comforts of home, where the chief preoccupation of many forward deployed soldiers is on getting to the on-base Pizza Hut or Burger King. That is an apt metaphor for the unserious attitude that is sadly coming to define the American way of warfighting.
Winning the War of Ideas
To win the war against ISIS, we must defeat it on the battlefield through direct action by recapturing its territory and destroying its physical assets. But we must also attack the value system and moral code ISIS uses to recruit. That means winning the information war, a critical part of the battlespace that we too often cede to our sophisticated enemies. We must refute the excuses that radical Islamists use to justify their actions, and promote an unambiguous alternative value system that stands in stark contrast to the primitive and barbaric dogma that ISIS espouses. A disciplined but positive and imaginative message-based information war would constantly drive home the message that ISIS doctrines are anathema to civilized peoples of any race, nationality, ethnic or religious group.
Just as in the fight against imperialism, fascism and communism, winning the ideological struggle against radical Islamism will be difficult. But winning the war of ideas is necessary to a sustainable victory. ISIS effectively appeals to the deep resentment many young Muslim men in particular feel about being trapped in societies where they have few prospects for upward advancement, or hope of achieving their dreams. Many ISIS foreign fighters are first- or second-generation immigrants or troubled converts who feel an acute sense of alienation, and they long to belong to a cause greater than themselves.
Radical Islamic scholars with an intimate understanding of the sense of grievance and alienation of these vulnerable young Muslim men convince them that the cause of their suffering is the system of modernity promoted by the West in general, and the United States in particular. These skillful scholars entice recruits to join a cause that appears to offer worldly pleasures and adventures, as well as spiritual salvation through jihad.
Though ISIS adherents subscribe to a return to seventh-century values that condone mass murder, the grotesque brutalization of captives, sexual slavery of minority women and children, and the forced subjugation of non-believers, they are not stupid. Quite the opposite, they are true believers who have shown both fanatical zeal and commitment, as well as great skill in manipulating world opinion and outmaneuvering their enemies.
Many ISIS adherents have shown a willingness to die as martyrs for their global cause, the definition of true believers. We thus cannot afford to underestimate our enemies' intellectual capabilities in pursuing their twisted vision. They are not the junior varsity or second-string team. They are shrewdly waging psychological and physical war with the limited resources at their disposal. Twice in the past decade they have fought the U.S. military '' the world's preeminent fighting force '' very nearly to a draw on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan.
Defeating ISIS and its ilk will require not only engaging them directly through force of arms and overwhelming information operations, but also taking decisive steps to cut off the support they receive from both state and non-state actors. Unfortunately, many of these supporters of ISIS and other Islamic extremists groups come from nations that are nominal U.S. allies such as Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the Persian Gulf kingdoms and Pakistan. Convincing them that such extremists groups are ultimately a threat to their own stability will be difficult, and require great diplomatic dexterity and sophistication. We must resist the entrenched bureaucratic mindset, however, that would look the other way at this double-dealing and clandestine support for ISIS and its allies.
As you read these words, the war we are engaged in with ISIS is claiming the lives of innocent people on multiple fronts. The misery and suffering are intense, and the staggering number of atrocities continue to mount in a toll that assaults the collective sense of justice of the civilized world. It is consequently in our best interests, and those of our allies, that this war be brought to an end as soon as possible. We must face the fact that a long war works to the advantage of ISIS. The suffering of people being enslaved, raped, tortured and murdered does not factor into their calculations, nor does the traumatization of impacted societies. ISIS only has one aim: to conquer and compel all people under their dominion to accept their fundamentalist and perverted interpretation of Islam, or die. For them time thus has no meaning. Unless directly confronted, attacked, and decisively defeated, ISIS will continue to do whatever it takes '' for as long as it takes '' to establish and expand their dreamed of caliphate of tyranny.
When the United States leads a real fighting coalition to defeat ISIS, it will be our right and prerogative to argue the how and why of this war. We can discuss the mistakes made by political and military leaders, the philosophical and ideological underpinnings of the conflict, and hopefully the lessons learned that led to success. But if we lose '' and we must admit the real possibility that ISIS will ultimately achieve its goals absent decisive U.S. action '' then the narrative of this war will belong to the victors. Because that would be a black day for all of civilization, I say let's stop just participating in this never-ending conflict and instead win it, once and for all.
Portions of this essay have been adapted from the forthcoming book "The Field of Fight."
Lt. General (Ret.) Michael T. Flynn spent 33 years as an intelligence officer. He served as the Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency and the Senior Military Intelligence Officer in the Department of Defense. He is the founder of the Flynn Intel Group, a Commercial, Government, and International consulting firm. He is the author of the forthcoming book, written with Michael Ledeen, of "The Field of Fight: How We Can Win the Global War Against Radical Islam and Its Allies" (St. Martin's Press, July 12, 2016).
VIDEO-Judge Nap: FBI Has 'Overwhelming' Evidence to Indict and Convict Hillary | Fox News Insider
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On "The O'Reilly Factor" last night, Judge Andrew Napolitano said the FBI is in the final stages of its investigation into Hillary Clinton and her private email server, and he believes the agency has more than enough evidence to indict and convict her.
He explained that the FBI doesn't make a recommendation about an indictment to the Justice Department, since they are working in tandem with the Justice Department.
FBI investigators don't do anything without being under the supervision of department prosecutors, he said.
Read Full Article"The evidence of her guilt is overwhelming," Judge Napolitano stated. "And the FBI knows a lot more about it than I do."
He said he is "100-percent certain" that the FBI has enough evidence to indict and convict.
Whether they do or not, however, is another issue and a politically-charged one, Judge Napolitano added.
Watch more from "The Factor" above.
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Why is it that some people feel proud to be called grammar snobs? Mona Chalabi argues that those who correct others' language are clinging to conventions that are unimportant. She says grammar snobbery is often used to silence those who have less of a voice in society
VIDEO-Ted Cruz selects Carly Fiorina as running mate
Fiorina, 61, dropped her own White House bid in February after a lackluster seventh-place finish in New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation primary. She endorsed Cruz, a 45-year-old U.S. senator from Texas, a month later and has been a sharp critic on the campaign trail of likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
Cruz's unusually early announcement of a running mate appeared to be a bid to recover from Tuesday's losses, which moved Trump closer to the 1,237 delegates he needs to win the nomination at the July 18-21 Republican convention in Cleveland. The nominee will face the Democrats' pick in November's general election.
Traditionally, the winners of the Republican and Democratic presidential races announce their running mates in the period between clinching the nomination and the summer national conventions.
But Cruz needs help after Tuesday's drubbing by Trump, 69, in all five Northeastern states that held primary elections: Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Connecticut and Rhode Island.
The choice of Fiorina, a former Hewlett-Packard chief executive who, like Trump, has never held elective office, could help Cruz with women voters, a group that Trump has had difficulty winning over to his outsider campaign.
It also could offer Cruz a boost in the June 7 primary in California, where in 2010 Fiorina won the Republican primary for the U.S. Senate. She was defeated in the subsequent general election by incumbent Democrat Barbara Boxer.
VIDEO-Kanhaiya Kumar Speech at Convention Center, JNU 0n 28th March, 2016 - YouTube
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"Cultural appropriation" is one of those things that everyone seems to be talking about -- but, as some prettyegregiousexamples prove, not everyone seems to fully grasp the term. The fashion world, the film industry, sports teams and individual celebrities (we see you, Coldplay and Justin Bieber) have all been accused of appropriating cultures at one point or another.
Here are some tips for distinguishing between the appropriation and appreciation of other cultures. Share them with someone who would benefit, and the rest of the world will thank you.
Watch the video above to learn more.
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PIKE COUNTY, Ohio (WSYX/WTTE) '--The mass murder that left eight members of the same family dead, unveiled marijuana grow operations at three crime scenes, according to the Ohio Attorney General.
Those were Mike DeWine's final words at a press conference for an update on the investigation of the "execution-style" deaths within the Rhoden family in Pike County, about 70 miles south of Columbus, on Friday.
The victims, ages ranging from 16 to 44, were identified on Saturday.
Joined by Pike County Sheriff Charles Reader, DeWine said currently 18 pieces of evidence were being processed at the Bureau of Criminal Investigation crime labs for DNA evidence.
Thus far in the investigation, more than 50 interviews have been conducted with authorities receiving more than 100 tips to find the suspected killer(s).
DeWine added more than 100 people are part of the ongoing investigation, including 38 members of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction who are gathering evidence at the crime scenes and in the neighboring wooded areas.
As for the deceased, seven of the eight autopsies have been completed with the final one scheduled for Monday.
Most of the questions fielded by DeWine and Reader were deflected with "no comment" as the Attorney General said he's updated the media on what investigators have done, but won't reveal all they know.
That approach, he said, is in large part because of how the eight murders were carried out as a "pre-planned execution of eight people."
Reader reiterated to the public that he doesn't feel it's a larger issue of public safety since one family was targeted, but added if anyone were to feel unsafe, they should "arm themselves."
Surviving members of the Rhoden family have taken refuge at their church, where services have centered around the tragic loss and memorials have popped up there and around the community.
There's currently a $25,000 reward for information leading to a conviction.
Follow us on Twitter (@wsyx6 and @fox28columbus) and LIKE us on Facebook for updates.
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From Sir Adrian
Zou je mijn lieve broer Benjamin Vernooij op de birthday list willen zetten, hij wordt vrijdag de 29ste 40 jaar en is net als ik een trouwe NA supporter. Ik kan op het ogenblik even geen geld missen wegens ontslag maar ik zal snel weer een donatie proberen te maken.
Sir Adrian Vernooij
Hi Adam. I think PayPal cut off my donation note. Here it is in its completed form.
"On Valentine's Day 2015 My girlfriend and I were in a car crash outside of Austin. The car was totaled and I had to be carried out by ambulance. When I was assigned a room at the hospital, I noticed that the room number was 33. Times have been tough and I haven't been able to donate since. I would like to request some engagement karma as I plan to propose to the love of my life, my girlfriend Abi (she was also my girlfriend at the time of the accident) I've been a faithful listener since my junior year of high school. Thanks for all you do."
Paul Graham -> Sir Lunchmoney of the Boreal Valley