We should undo the Obama administration’s rules that regulate the web like a 1930s utility.
Ajit Pai writes: As millions flocked to the web for the first time in the 1990s, President Clinton and a Republican Congress decided “to preserve the vibrant and competitive free market that presently exists for the Internet.” In the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the government called for an internet “unfettered by Federal or State regulation.” The result of that fateful decision was the greatest free-market success story in history.
Here’s my plan to repeal the Obama Administration’s heavy-handed regulation of the Internet. This time–unlike in 2015–you can read it before the @FCC votes. https://t.co/xcPDkxPgW7 https://t.co/wnshqlJoMa pic.twitter.com/wACDCspuEP
— Ajit Pai (@AjitPaiFCC) November 22, 2017
Encouraged by light-touch regulation, private companies invested over $1.5 trillion in nearly two decades to build out American communications networks. Without having to ask anyone’s pemission, innovators everywhere used the internet’s open platform to start companies that have transformed how billions of people live and work.
But that changed in 2014. Just days after a poor midterm election result, President Obama publicly pressured the Federal Communications Commission to reject the longstanding consensus on a market-based approach to the internet. He instead urged the agency to impose upon internet service providers a creaky regulatory framework called “Title II,” which was designed in the 1930s to tame the Ma Bell telephone monopoly. A few months later, the FCC followed President Obama’s instructions on a party-line vote. I voted “no,” but the agency’s majority chose micromanagement over markets.
This burdensome regulation has failed consumers and businesses alike. In the two years after the FCC’s decision, broadband network investment dropped more than 5.6%—the first time a decline has happened outside of a recession. If the current rules are left in place, millions of Americans who are on the wrong side of the digital divide would have to wait years to get more broadband.
The effect has been particularly serious for smaller internet service providers. They don’t have the time, money or lawyers to cut through a thicket of complex rules. The Wireless Internet Service Providers Association, which represents small fixed wireless companies that generally operate in rural America, found that more than 80% of its members “incurred additional expense in complying with the Title II rules, had delayed or reduced network expansion, had delayed or reduced services and had allocated budget to comply with the rules.” They aren’t alone. Other small companies have told the FCC that these regulations have forced them to cancel, delay or curtail upgrades to their fiber networks.
The uncertainty surrounding the FCC’s onerous rules has also slowed the introduction of new services. One major company reported that … (read more)
FCC Head Ajit Pai: Killing Net Neutrality Will Set the Internet Free
Promises that “we’re going to see an explosion in the kinds of connectivity and the depth of that connectivity” like never before.
Nick Gillespie & Ian Keyser report: Todd Krainin, ReasonIn an exclusive interview today just hours after announcing his plan to repeal “Net Neutrality” rules governing the actions of Internet-service providers (ISPs) and mobile carriers, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai has an in-your-face prediction for his critics: “Over the coming years, we’re going to see an explosion in the kinds of connectivity and the depth of that connectivity,” he said this afternoon. “Ultimately that means that the human capital in the United States that’s currently on the shelf—the people who don’t have digital opportunity—will become participants in the digital economy.”
Pai stressed that regulating the Internet under a Title II framework originally created in the 1930s had led to less investment in infrastructure and a slower rate of innovation. “Since the dawn of the commercial internet, ISPs have been investing as much as they can in networks in order to upgrade their facilities and to compete with each other,” he says. “Outside of a recession we’ve never seen that sort of investment go down year over year. But we did in 2015, after these regulations were adopted.” In a Wall Street Journal column published today, Pai says Title II was responsible for a nearly 6 percent decline in broadband network investment as ISPs saw compliance costs rise and the regulatory atmosphere become uncertain. In his interview with Reason, Pai stressed that the real losers under Net Neutrality were people living in rural areas and low-income Americans who were stuck on the bad end of “the digital divide.”
Proponents of Net Neutrality maintain that rules that went into effect in 2015 are the only thing standing between rapacious businesses such as Comcast, Verizon (where Pai once worked), and Spectrum and an Internet choking on throttled traffic, expensive “fast lanes,” and completely blocked sites that displease whatever corporate entity controls the last mile of fiber into your home or business. Pai says that is bunk and noted that today’s proposed changes, which are expected to pass full FCC review in mid-December, return the Internet to the light-touch regulatory regime that governed it from the mid-1990s until 2015.
“It’s telling that the first investigations that the prior FCC initiated under these so-called Net Neutrality rules were involving free data offerings,” says Pai, pointing toward actions initiated by his predecessor against “zero-rating” services such as T-Mobile’s Binge program, which didn’t count data used to stream Netflix, Spotify, and a host of other services against a customer’s monthly data allowance. “To me it’s just absurd to say that the government should stand in the way of consumers who want to get, and companies that want to provide, free data.”
The FCC is not completely evacuating its oversight role. ISPs, he says, will need to be completely transparent with customers about all practices related to prioritizing traffic, data caps, and more. Pai believes that market competition for customers will prove far more effective in developing better and cheaper services than regulators deciding what is best for the sector. “In wireless,” he says, “there’s very intense competition—you have four national carriers and any number of regional carriers competing to provide 4G LTE, and a number of different services. In those marketplaces where there’s not as much competition as we’d like to see, to me at least, the solution isn’t to preemptively regulate as if it were a monopoly, as if we’re dealing with ‘Ma Bell,’ but to promote more competition.” Read the rest of this entry »
The often sensationalistic media attention given to perpetrators is central to why massacres are happening more.
N. Schulman reports: It isn’t your imagination: Mass shootings are getting deadlier and more frequent. A recent FBI report on “active shooters” from 2000 to 2015 found that the number of incidents more than doubled from the first to the second half of the period. Four of the five deadliest shootings in American history happened in the past five years, and 2017 already far exceeds any previous year for the number of casualties.
Though we seem to be plunging ever deeper into a dark night, researchers now have a far clearer view of a key factor in the violence. A long-standing theory has matured into a body of evidence that can no longer be dismissed: The level of attention paid to mass shootings is central to why they keep happening.
The idea that some crimes might be self-spreading, like a disease, was proposed as early as 1890, when the French sociologist Gabriel Tarde labeled murders copying Jack the Ripper “suggesto-imitative assaults.” For mass shootings, the effect was well known among researchers by the early 2000s, when a wealth of information allowed forensic psychiatrist Paul E. Mullen to conclude, “These massacres are acts of mimesis, and their perpetrators are imitators.”
But the research has solidified in just the last few years. In 2015, a pair of studies analyzed databases cataloging nearly all U.S. mass shootings. They produced the first comprehensive statistical evidence that shootings occur in clusters rather than randomly across time.
One of the studies, led by mathematician Sherry Towers of Arizona State University, used a contagion model previously applied to analyze viral videos and terrorist attacks. It found that the likelihood of a mass shooting is significantly higher when another mass shooting has recently occurred. The period of increased probability lasts, on average, for 13 days, the study found. (Notably, Dr. Towers did not find a contagion effect for shootings in which three or fewer people were killed.) The other study, conducted by Fresno State criminologist Jason Kissner, employed a different statistical modeling technique but also found an increased likelihood lasting for a similar period.
These findings are not yet conclusive. A study published in July by criminologist Adam Lankford and psychologist Sara Tomek, both of the University of Alabama, claimed that the clustering effects were not significantly different from random variation. Read the rest of this entry »
The new bin Laden documents make clear that there was intelligence politicization during the 2012 campaign.
Jenna Lifhits reports: A top foreign correspondent at the New York Times said Friday that the Obama administration deliberately downplayed al Qaeda’s strength in the run-up to the 2012 presidential election.
“The overall narrative that I think was being pushed to the press, and if you look back at the editorials that were done when that trove came out, was an image of bin Laden isolated, he had lost control of this group,” Rukmini Callimachi said during an event at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, referring to the 17 hand-picked documents released by the Obama administration in May of 2012.
“The narrative I would get is that . . . it had opportunistically taken the al Qaeda name in order to have prestige and scare people, and that in fact those people were just criminals.”
— Rukmini Callimachi
Her remarks triggered the following question from Kim Dozier, a former top correspondent for the Associated Press and CBS, and current executive editor of the Cipher Brief: “Do you think that was something that was kept from the public’s view because it revealed that there had to be reams of communication going back and forth, which means U.S. intelligence, Western intelligence, was missing this?”
“Suddenly, my worldview, which had been informed by officials . . . started to fall apart. Suddenly, I was seeing that this group that I was told really had no ties, with no connection . . . was in fact being micromanaged by al Qaeda central.”
— Rukmini Callimachi
“Think back to when bin Laden was killed. It was 2011, it was right before a major campaign season. I don’t want to underplay the role that the killing of Osama bin Laden had,” said Callimachi. “But I think that that was theorized into something much bigger.”
“The head of the organization has been killed, and now—these are literally quotes that I would get: the organization has been ‘decimated,’ the organization is in ‘disarray,’ the organization is ‘on the run,’” she continued. “At the same time that we were preparing to pull out troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, I think that it was important to portray this as a problem that no longer existed.”
* * *The Trump administration released roughly 470,000 files in November that were captured in the Abbottabad raid. Only a few hundred were released under the Obama administration, despite one official’s description of the haul as enough to fill a “small college library.”
When Callimachi was covering West Africa in 2011, Obama administration officials and others told her that al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), which had just taken over the northern half of Mali, “was actually not really connected to al Qaeda.” Read the rest of this entry »
BIRDS & BEES: Married Science Teacher Hunter day, 22, Arrested for Doing the Secret Handshake with Teen Boy StudentPosted: November 17, 2017
A married teacher in Oklahoma was arrested Wednesday, accused of having a sexual relationship with an underage student.
Hunter Day, 22, a science teacher at Yukon High School, was arrested by the Canadian County Sheriff’s Department on complaints of second-degree rape, facilitating sexual contact with a minor and possession of child pornography, KWTV reported. She is reportedly married to the school’s football coach.
“I’m no longer surprised by the people who commit these crimes, because predators come from all walks of life.”
— Canadian County Sheriff Chris West
Authorities said they investigated the relationship after being notified by the boy’s parents and finding explicit photos and messages on his phone, the report said.
On the day of the arrest, the sheriff’s department said that Day and the teen had planned to meet at her house, KWTV reported. Deputies arrived at the residence and reportedly texted the teacher from the boy’s phone saying he’d arrived. Day responded to the message saying, “The doors [sic] unlocked as usual,” the report said.
When investigators entered the home, Day was sitting on the floor of her living room with candles lit and all of the lights off, authorities said. She was also reportedly wearing a Christmas cat T-shirt and workout shorts.
The teacher confessed to sending the boy illicit “bra and panty” photos and said he’d also sent her photos of his genitals, KWTV reported. Read the rest of this entry »
In a politically polarized America, gun control is destined to be obeyed primarily by its advocates.
J.D. Tuccille reports: Has it occurred to anybody that when restrictive laws are imposed, they’re likely to have the greatest impact on the people most willing to obey them?
The past week saw yet another invocation by the usual suspects of the supposed need for tighter gun controls. This time, we had a special emphasis from lawmakers on such “innovations” as banning people convicted of domestic abuse from owning firearms—which is to say, restrictions that are already on the books and have been in place for years, but which haven’t had the wished-for effect. Honestly, so many of gun-controllers’ preferred laws have been implemented that they can’t be expected to know that their dreams have already come true. But laws aren’t magic spells that ward off evil; they’re threats of consequences against violators, enforced by imperfect and often incompetent people, and noted or ignored by frequently resistant targets.
Gun controls then, like other restrictions and prohibitions, have their biggest effect on those who agree with them and on the unlucky few scofflaws caught by the powers-that-be, and are otherwise mostly honored in the breach. As a result, gun laws intended to reduce the availability of firearms are likely to leave those who most vigorously disagree with them disproportionately well-armed relative to the rest of society. That raises some interesting prospects in a country as politically polarized and factionalized as the United States.
That gun restrictions are widely disobeyed is a well-documented fact. I’ve written before that Connecticut’s recent “assault weapons” registration law achieved an underwhelming 15 percent compliance rate, and New York’s similar requirement resulted in 5 percent compliance. When California imposed restrictions on such weapons in 1990, at the end of the registration period “only about 7,000 weapons of an estimated 300,000 in private hands in the state have been registered,” The New York Times reported. When New Jersey went a step further that same year and banned the sale and possession of “assault weapons,” disobedience was so widespread that the Times concluded, “More than a year after New Jersey imposed the toughest assault-weapons law in the country, the law is proving difficult if not impossible to enforce.” That’s in states with comparatively strong public support for restrictions on gun ownership.
Across the Atlantic, despite varying but generally tight laws on gun ownership, “Contrary to widely-accepted national myths, public gun ownership is commonplace in most European states,” according to the Geneva-based Small Arms Survey. How can that be? “Public officials readily admit that unlicensed owners and unregistered guns greatly outnumber legal ones,” possibly because of “a pervasive culture of non-cooperation with public authorities” in many places.
Just a thought, but existing examples of defiance of gun laws in the United States might be an indication that “a pervasive culture of non-cooperation with public authorities” is exactly what we should expect in response to any future successes gun controllers might achieve legislation-wise. Read the rest of this entry »
Richard Pollock reports: More than 100,000 convicted felons or other “prohibited persons” tried to buy guns each year during President Barack Obama’s administration by lying on their applications, but the Justice Department only considered prosecuting about 30 to 40 people each year, according to a Daily Caller News Foundation investigation.
The Obama administration may have publicly aligned itself with anti-gun activists, but it consistently turned a blind eye to prosecute known criminals who tried to buy guns.
A June 2016 Justice Department Inspector General’s report revealed that between 2008 and 2015 the U.S. Attorneys office considered prosecuting “less than 32 people per year” for lying on form 4473, the federal application to buy guns.
Surprisingly, the Obama administration’s harshest critics are gun manufacturers themselves.
“People could do what is called, ‘lie and buy,’” explained Lawrence Keane, a senior vice president of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, a nonprofit organization that represents gun manufacturers.
“But very infrequently is anyone ever prosecuted. What’s the point of making it a crime if you don’t enforce it?” he asked in an interview with TheDCNF.
“It’s a long-standing problem. And it was certainly true over the last eight years where the Department of Justice did not prosecute people,” he complained.
Daniel D. Roberts, who in 2009 was named Assistant Director of the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services Division, confirmed that more than 100,000 criminals each year attempt to buy guns even though they have rap sheets.
“When I was there, it was running around 100,000 a year of firearm purchasers that tried to go through to buy guns. I think it’s more than 100,000 now,” he told TheDCNF in an interview. “That should trigger a referral to the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) for investigation for lying on the forms.”
Two of every 10 gun denials referred to the ATF was sent to field offices for prosecution, a Justice Department report by the Bureau of Justice Statistics in 2013 and 2014 found. Eight of ten never faced prosecution, according to the report.
Roberts ran the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) checks, that is the main tool the bureau uses to conduct background checks of potential buyers of guns. He left the bureau only last year.
Dave Workman, a senior editor of the Gunmag.com, a publication owned by the pro-gun rights Second Amendment Foundation, claims the Obama administration simply didn’t want to spend the money to prosecute people who lied on their form 4473.
“The Justice Department didn’t want to spend the money or interest or time to prosecute the key people who lied on their 4473,” he told TheDCNF in an interview. Read the rest of this entry »
Jonathan David Haidt (born October 19, 1963) is an American social psychologist and Professor of Ethical Leadership at New York University’s Stern School of Business. His academic specialization is the psychology of morality and the moral emotions. Haidt is the author of two books: The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom (2006) and The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion (2012). Read the rest of this entry »
Wonder Woman bails out a battle-fatigued Batman and Superman in Warner Bros.’ latest DC Comics-derived extravaganza.
Todd McCarthy writes: The increasingly turgid tales of Batman and Superman — joined, unfortunately for her, by Wonder Woman — trudge along to ever-diminishing returns in Justice League. Garishly unattractive to look at and lacking the spirit that made Wonder Woman, which came out five months ago, the most engaging of Warner Bros.’ DC Comics-derived extravaganzas to date, this hodgepodge throws a bunch of superheroes into a mix that neither congeals nor particularly makes you want to see more of them in future. Plainly put, it’s simply not fun. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice grossed $872.7 million worldwide last year, apparently about enough to justify its existence, and the significant presence of Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman in this one might boost its returns a bit higher than that.
Fatigue, repetition and a laborious approach to exposition are the keynotes of this affair, which is also notable for how Ben Affleck, donning the bat suit for the second time, looks like he’d rather be almost anywhere else but here; his eyes and body language make it clear that he’s just not into it. For his part, Henry Cavill’s Superman, left for dead and buried in 2016’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (we see the grave of Clark Joseph Kent more than once), isn’t resurrected until the second half, and it takes considerably more time for him to snap into action.
That leaves things mostly in the capable hands of Wonder Woman, who’s just as kick-ass as she was this summer but in a less imaginative, one-note way. The good news is that Jesse Eisenberg’s embarrassingly misguided Lex Luthor from the previous outing is nowhere to be seen.
So what are we left with here? With all the characters that need to be introduced, the virtually humor-free script by Chris Terrio and Joss Whedon (who was brought on to complete directing duties after Zack Snyder had to leave for family reasons) less resembles deft narrative scene-setting than it does the work of a bored casino dealer rotely distributing cards around a table. Everyone is very downcast in the wake of Superman’s unimaginable fate and there’s naturally a new villain threatening to bring the world to an end, a big meanie named Steppenwolf (voiced by Ciaran Hinds). So Bruce Wayne, with Diana Prince’s assistance, must put together a new team to save the world yet again. Read the rest of this entry »
Trust in the media is at an all-time low. But should it be? Why do fewer and fewer Americans trust the mainstream media. Investigative journalist Sharyl Attkisson, author of The Smear, explains.
These were the myths in which the Kennedy assassination came to be embalmed. Despite all evidence to the contrary, they are still widely believed, and not only by members of a credulous public. The claim that JFK was a victim of hatred and bigotry or a martyr in the crusade for civil rights is now a basic element in the liberal interpretation of the post-war era.
James Piereson writes: It has now been 50 years since President John F. Kennedy was cut down on the streets of Dallas by rifle shots fired by Lee Harvey Oswald, a self-described Marxist, recent defector to the Soviet Union, and ardent admirer of Fidel Castro. The evidence condemning Oswald was overwhelming: the bullets that killed President Kennedy were fired from his rifle, the rifle was found on the sixth floor of the warehouse where he worked and where he was seen moments before the shooting, witnesses on the street saw a man firing shots from a sixth floor window in that building and immediately summoned police to provide a description of the assassin. Forty-five minutes later a policeman stopped Oswald on foot in another section of the city to question him about the shooting. As the policeman stepped from his squad car, Oswald pulled out a pistol and pumped four shots into him before fleeing to a nearby movie theater where he was captured (still carrying the pistol with which he had killed the policeman). Two days later Oswald was himself assassinated while in police custody by a nightclub owner distraught over Kennedy’s death.
Despite the evidence, few Americans today believe that Lee Harvey Oswald shot President Kennedy or that, if he did, he acted alone. A recent poll found that 75% of American adults believe that JFK was the victim of a conspiracy of some kind, usually of a right-wing variety. This is not surprising because most of the popular books published on the assassination since the mid-1960s have elaborated one or another conspiracy theory. Right-wing businessmen, disgruntled generals, CIA operatives, and Mafia bosses are the typical villains in these scenarios. Before long the Kennedy assassination came to be encrusted in layers of myth, illusion, and disinformation strong enough to deflect every attempt to understand it from a rational point of view. And this enduring national illusion and confusion has had unfortunate consequences.
Creating the Myth
In the days and weeks following the assassination the idea took hold that a climate of hate in Dallas and across the nation established the conditions for President Kennedy’s murder. Racial bigots, the Ku Klux Klan, followers of the John Birch Society, fundamentalist ministers, anti-Communist zealots, and conservatives of all kinds had sowed hatred and division in national life. These battalions of the American Right had been responsible for manifold acts of violence across the South against Negroes and civil rights workers in the years leading up to the assassination, and they must have been behind the attack on President Kennedy. It followed that President Kennedy was a martyr, like Abraham Lincoln, to the great causes of civil rights and racial justice. Liberal writers had warned throughout the 1950s and into the 1960s about the undercurrent of bigotry and intolerance that ran through American culture and the political dangers arising from the “radical Right.” Now it appeared that their warnings had come to fruition in the murder of a president.
This explanation for the assassination did not drop out of thin air but was circulated immediately after the event by influential leaders, journalists, and journalistic outlets, including Mrs. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Chief Justice Earl Warren, Democratic leaders in Congress, James Reston and the editorial page of the New York Times, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., columnist Drew Pearson, and any number of other liberal spokesmen. The New York Times through its editorial page and columnists insisted that a climate of hate brought down President Kennedy, even as the paper’s news reporters documented the evidence against Oswald and his Communist connections. Reston, the paper’s chief political correspondent, published a front-page column on November 23 under the title, “Why America Weeps: Kennedy Victim of Violent Streak He Sought to Curb in the Nation.” In the course of the column he observed that, “from the beginning to the end of his Administration, he [JFK] was trying to damp down the violence of the extremists on the Right.” Reston returned to this theme in subsequent columns, pointing the finger at hatred and a spirit of lawlessness in the land as the ultimate causes of the presidential assassination.
Following this line of thought, Chief Justice Warren, soon to head the official commission that investigated the assassination, declared: “A great and good President has suffered martyrdom as a result of the hatred and bitterness that has been injected into the life of our nation by bigots.” Pat Brown, governor of California, and Charles Taft, mayor of Cincinnati, organized a series of candlelight vigils across the nation “to pledge the end of intolerance and to affirm that such a tragedy shall not happen in America again.” The Reverend Adam Clayton Powell (also a congressman) issued a statement shortly after the assassination: “President Kennedy is a martyr of freedom and human rights and a victim of injustice as promulgated by Barnett and Wallace,” here referring to the segregationist governors of Mississippi and Alabama. Less than a week after the assassination, Pearson published one of his syndicated columns under the title, “Kennedy Victim of Hate Drive.” Many took this a step further to declare that all Americans were complicit in Kennedy’s death because they had tolerated hatred and bigotry in their midst. As a popular song, “Sympathy for the Devil,” by the Rolling Stones put it a few years later: “I shouted out: who killed the Kennedys? When after all it was you and me.” This became the near universal response to the assassination: a strain of bigotry and hatred in American culture was responsible for Kennedy’s murder.
For his part, President Johnson saw that his job as national leader in that time of crisis was to supply some meaning to his predecessor’s sudden death. “John Kennedy had died,” he said later, “[b]ut his cause was not really clear…. I had to take the dead man’s program and turn it into a martyr’s cause.” In his first speech before the Congress on November 27, Johnson proclaimed that “no memorial oration or eulogy could more eloquently honor President Kennedy’s memory than the earliest possible passage of the civil rights bill for which he fought so long.” The civil rights bill, which Kennedy belatedly proposed in mid-1963, was approved in 1964 with bipartisan majorities in the Congress. On the international front, Johnson feared a dangerous escalation of tensions with the Soviet Union and another McCarthy-style “witch-hunt” against radicals should the American public conclude that a Communist was responsible for the assassination. From his point of view, it was better to circumvent that danger by deflecting blame for the assassination from Communism to some other unpopular target. Read the rest of this entry »
” …people are wondering how Harvey can live with himself after all he’s done — the years of sexually predatory behavior. The answer is: with the help of a lot of drugs.”
As revealed exclusively on “Page Six TV” Thursday, Weinstein was photographed opening a sturdy silver case filled with an astonishing amount of prescription pill bottles and medications as he sat in first class on a plane at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport in December last year before his sexual harassment scandal broke — in full view of other passengers and the flight crew.
The source, who gave the picture exclusively to Page Six, said, “Many people are wondering how Harvey can live with himself after all he’s done — the years of sexually predatory behavior. The answer is: with the help of a lot of drugs.”
The source said that when another passenger on the plane who recognized Weinstein asked about his impressive pharmaceutical stash, Weinstein explained, “Oh, I’ve got a cold.”
A different source familiar with Weinstein over the years told us, “He always had that briefcase of drugs. He carries his whole medicine cabinet with him — even stuff he isn’t taking at the time.” Read the rest of this entry »
An invaluable resource finally becomes public.
Jonathan V. Last reports: Over at the Long War Journal, Thomas Joscelyn and Bill Roggio have the first analysis of the massive trove of documents, files, and images which were recovered at Osama bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, during the raid in which bin Laden was killed.
The cache of documents, released today for the first time by the CIA, are an amazing stockpile of information that has never before been public. Per Joscelyn and Roggio:
* For the first time, there’s a picture of Hamza bin Laden, Osama’s secretive son, who’s never before been photographed.
* There’s a file with bin Laden’s hand-written, 228-page private journal.
* There’s a good deal of evidence that at the time of his death, bin Laden was still actively leading al Qaeda.
* Also, there’s a great deal of information on bin Laden’s ties to Iran and Iraq.
Here’s Joscelyn and Roggio on al Qaeda and Iran:
One never-before-seen 19-page document contains a senior jihadist’s assessment of the group’s relationship with Iran. The author explains that Iran offered some “Saudi brothers” in al Qaeda “everything they needed,” including “money, arms” and “training in Hezbollah camps in Lebanon, in exchange for striking American interests in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf.” Iranian intelligence facilitated the travel of some operatives with visas, while sheltering others. Abu Hafs al-Mauritani, an influential ideologue prior to 9/11, helped negotiate a safe haven for his jihadi comrades inside Iran. But the author of the file, who is clearly well-connected, indicates that al Qaeda’s men violated the terms of the agreement and Iran eventually cracked down on the Sunni jihadists’ network, detaining some personnel. Still, the author explains that al Qaeda is not at war with Iran and some of their “interests intersect,” especially when it comes to being an “enemy of America.” Read the rest of this entry »
Poll: 71% of Americans Say Political Correctness Has Silenced Discussions Society Needs to Have, 58% Have Political Views They’re Afraid to SharePosted: November 1, 2017
Emily Ekins reports: The Cato 2017 Free Speech and Tolerance Survey, a new national poll of 2,300 U.S. adults, finds that 71% Americans believe that political correctness has silenced important discussions our society needs to have. The consequences are personal—58%
of Americans believe the political climate prevents them from sharing their own political beliefs.
Democrats are unique, however, in that a slim majority (53%) do not feel the need to self-censor. Conversely, strong majorities of Republicans (73%) and independents (58%) say they keep some political beliefs to themselves.
It follows that a solid majority (59%) of Americans think people should be allowed to express unpopular opinions in public, even those deeply offensive to others.
On the other hand, 40% think government should prevent hate speech. Despite this, the survey also found Americans willing to censor, regulate, or punish a wide variety of speech and expression they personally find offensive:
- 51% of staunch liberals say it’s “morally acceptable” to punch Nazis.
- 53% of Republicans favor stripping U.S. citizenship from people who burn the American flag.
- 51% of Democrats support a law that requires Americans use transgender people’s preferred gender pronouns.
- 65% of Republicans say NFL players should be fired if they refuse to stand for the anthem.
- 58% of Democrats say employers should punish employees for offensive Facebook posts.
- 47% of Republicans favor bans on building new mosques.
Americans also can’t agree what speech is hateful, offensive, or simply a political opinion:
- 59% of liberals say it’s hate speech to say transgender people have a mental disorder; only 17% of conservatives agree.
- 39% of conservatives believe it’s hate speech to say the police are racist; only 17% of liberals agree.
- 80% of liberals say it’s hateful or offensive to say illegal immigrants should be deported; only 36% of conservatives agree.
- 87% of liberals say it’s hateful or offensive to say women shouldn’t fight in military combat roles, while 47% of conservatives agree.
- 90% of liberals say it’s hateful or offensive to say homosexuality is a sin, while 47% of conservatives agree.
Americans Oppose Hate Speech Bans, But Say Hate Speech is Morally Unacceptable
Although Americans oppose (59%) outright bans on public hate speech, that doesn’t mean they think hate speech is acceptable. Read the rest of this entry »
Prior to the election, Russian government’s online meddling was focused on trying to ‘denigrate Secretary Clinton.’
Nancy Scola and Ashley Gold report: Top lawyers from Facebook and Twitter said Tuesday that Russian-linked posts and advertisements placed on the social networks after Election Day sought to sow doubt about President Donald Trump’s victory.
Facebook general counsel Colin Stretch told a Senate Judiciary panel that content generated by a Russian troll farm known as the Internet Research Agency after Nov. 8 centered on “fomenting discord about the validity of his [Trump’s] election.” That’s a change from Russia’s pre-election activity, which was largely centered on trying to denigrate Hillary Clinton, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said in a January report.
“During the election, they were trying to create discord between Americans, most of it directed against Clinton. After the election you saw Russian-tied groups and organizations trying to undermine President Trump’s legitimacy. Is that what you saw on Facebook?” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) asked at the hearing.
Stretch and his Twitter counterpart, Sean Edgett, called that an “accurate” statement.
The disclosure opened up a new wrinkle in the continuing investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, which has increasingly focused on the role of the biggest internet companies. Tuesday’s hearing marks the first time Facebook, Google and Twitter have testified publicly about what they’ve learned about Kremlin meddling on their platforms in the presidential campaign. The companies face additional lawmaker scrutiny Wednesday with back-to-back hearings by the Senate and House Intelligence committees.
James Lewis, an international cyber policy expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the revelation about Russian anti-Trump activity on social media post-election fits with typical Kremlin information warfare efforts.
“Their goal is to create confusion and dissent. The target is the U.S. and NATO, not any particular candidate. They just want chaos,” Lewis said. “It went from being a grudge match against Clinton to what they thought was a priceless opportunity to inflict harm.”
The Silicon Valley giants have been slow to reckon with Russian use of social media to undermine American democracy. Days after the election — amid criticism that Facebook allowed the spread of hoax stories and misinformation — Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said it was a “pretty crazy idea” that fake news on Facebook influenced the vote. But as reports have piled up about Russian manipulation, Zuckerberg last month said he regretted being dismissive about the concerns, though he continued to argue that Facebook had a “far bigger” positive effect by giving people and candidates a place to communicate. Read the rest of this entry »
‘ACT OF TERROR:’ Mayor, NYPD Commissioner Say EIGHT Dead In Manhattan Attack, Suspect Alive But InjuredPosted: November 1, 2017
Suspect identified as 29-year old Sayfullo Habibillaevic Saipov.
Fusion GPS was hired by a Democratic lawyer acting on behalf of campaign and committee.
Adam Entous, Devlin Barrett and Rosalind S. Helderman report: The Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee helped fund research that resulted in a now-famous dossier containing allegations about President Trump’s connections to Russia and possible coordination between his campaign and the Kremlin, people familiar with the matter said.
Marc E. Elias, a lawyer representing the Clinton campaign and the DNC, retained Fusion GPS, a Washington firm, to conduct the research.
After that, Fusion GPS hired dossier author Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence officer with ties to the FBI and the U.S. intelligence community, according to those people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Elias and his law firm, Perkins Coie, retained the firm in April 2016 on behalf of the Clinton campaign and the DNC. Before that agreement, Fusion GPS’s research into Trump was funded by a still unknown Republican client during the GOP primary.
The Clinton campaign and the DNC, through the law firm, continued to fund Fusion GPS’s research through the end of October 2016, days before Election Day
Fusion GPS gave Steele’s reports and other research documents to Elias, the people familiar with the matter said. It is unclear how or how much of that information was shared with the campaign and DNC, and who in those organizations was aware of the roles of Fusion GPS and Steele. One person close to the matter said the campaign and the DNC were not informed of Fusion GPS’s role by the law firm. Read the rest of this entry »
Research by of University of Illinois professor has revealed a surprising trend about mass murder in the United States.
CHICAGO (CBS) — Nancy Harty reports: Research by of University of Illinois professor has revealed a surprising trend about mass murder in the United States.
Contrary to what you might think, mass murders are not on the rise, according to computer science professor Sheldon Jacobson.
Jacobson said there were 323 such killings – in which four or more people are killed in one incident – between January 2006 and October 2016. The mass killings appeared to be evenly distributed over that time, meaning their rate remained stable over the past decade, and did not spike during any particular season or year.
“The data doesn’t lie. The rate of these events just is not increasing as the perception is given in the media. This is just what it is,” he said.
The professor used a decade’s worth of data from USA Today that was cross-checked by the FBI. He said his analysis also found public shooting sprees like the Las Vegas massacre are not the most common type of mass killing. Read the rest of this entry »
Director James Toback told women that he could put them in movies. But then, they say, he sexually harassed them.
Glenn Whipp reports: He prowled the streets of Manhattan looking for attractive young women, usually in their early 20s, sometimes college students, on occasion a high schooler. He approached them in Central Park, standing in line at a bank or drug store or at a copy center while they worked on their resumes.
His opening line had a few variations. One went: “My name’s James Toback. I’m a movie director. Have you ever seen ‘Black and White’ or ‘Two Girls and a Guy’?”
Probably not. So he’d start to drop names. He had an Oscar nomination for writing the Warren Beatty movie “Bugsy.” He directed Robert Downey Jr., in three movies. The actor, Toback claimed, was a close friend; he had “invented him.” If you didn’t believe him, he would pull out a business card or an article that had been written about him to prove he had some juice in Hollywood. That he could make you a star.
But first, he’d need to get to know you. Intimately. Trust him, he’d say. It’s all part of his process.
Then, in a hotel room, a movie trailer, a public park, meetings framed as interviews or auditions quickly turned sexual, according to 38 women who, in separate interviews told the Los Angeles Times of similar encounters they had with Toback.
During these meetings, many of the women said, Toback boasted of sexual conquests with the famous and then asked humiliating personal questions. How often do you masturbate? How much pubic hair do you have? He’d tell them, they said, that he couldn’t properly function unless he “jerked off” several times a day. And then he’d dry-hump them or masturbate in front of them, ejaculating into his pants or onto their bodies and then walk away. Meeting over.
The women’s accounts portray James Toback as a man who, for decades, sexually harassed women he hired, women looking for work and women he just saw on the street. The vast majority of these women — 31 of the 38 interviewed — spoke on the record. The Times also interviewed people that the women informed of the incidents when they occurred.
As is often the case, none of them contacted the police at the time. When contacted by The Times, Toback denied the allegations, saying that he had never met any of these women or, if he did, it “was for five minutes and have no recollection.” He also repeatedly claimed that for the last 22 years, it had been “biologically impossible” for him to engage in the behavior described by the women in this story, saying he had diabetes and a heart condition that required medication. Toback declined to offer further details.
The women interviewed during The Times’ investigation offered accounts that differed from Toback’s recollections.
“The way he presented it, it was like, ‘This is how things are done,’” actress Adrienne LaValley said of a 2008 hotel room encounter that ended with Toback trying to rub his crotch against her leg. When she recoiled, he stood up and ejaculated in his pants. “I felt like a prostitute, an utter disappointment to myself, my parents, my friends. And I deserved not to tell anyone.”
“In a weird sense, I thought, ‘This is a test of whether I’m a real artist and serious about acting,’” remembered Starr Rinaldi, who was an aspiring actress when Toback approached her in Central Park about 15 years ago. Read the rest of this entry »
It counters a report that predicted he was going to block the release of the documents due to national security reasons.
President Trump said Saturday morning he will allow the release of the classified files related to former President John F. Kennedy’s assassination in 1963.
“Subject to the receipt of further information, I will be allowing, as President, the long blocked and classified JFK FILES to be opened,” Trump tweeted.
Trump’s announcement counters a report that predicted the president was likely going to block the release of some of the documents by the National Archives, which cited pressure from the CIA over possibly harmful national security information being revealed.
Still, White House spokesperson Lindsay Walters told Politico Magazine that the Trump administration was trying “to ensure that the maximum amount of data can be released to the public.”
The White House later put out a statement couching Trump’s pledge to release the files on one caveat.
“The President believes that these documents should be made available in the interests of full transparency unless agencies provide a compelling and clear national security or law enforcement justification otherwise,” a White House official said, according to an afternoon press pool report. Read the rest of this entry »
Chance Miller reports: Earlier this year, Apple was forced to remove several VPN apps from the App Store in China due to regulatory reasons. At the time, Tim Cook explained that he would rather not remove them, but was forced to comply.
Now, United States Senators Ted Cruz and Patrick Leahy are pressing Apple for more information…
In a letter sent to Tim Cook, Cruz and Leahy say Apple may be “enabling the Chinese government’s censorship and surveillance of the Internet,” noting that China has an “abysmal human rights record.”
Specifically, Cruz and Leahy pointed to Cook’s acceptance of the Newseum’s 2017 Free Expression Award. While receiving the award, Cook remarked that Apple “enables people around the world to speak up.” The senators, however, argue that Apple’s removal of VPN apps in China do the exact opposite of that:
While Apple’s many contributions to the global exchange of information are admirable, removing VPN apps that allow individuals in China to evade the Great Firewall and access the Internet privately does not enable people in China to “speak up.” To the contrary, if Apple complies with such demands from the Chinese governments, it inhibits free expression for users across China, particularly in light of the Cyberspace Administration of China’s new regulations targeting online anonymity.
Cook and Leahy outline a list of questions they want Cook to answer. Read the rest of this entry »
Judgment Day: Harvey Weinstein Scandal
Posted: October 18, 2017
Could Finally Probably Won’t Change Hollywood’s Culture of Secrecy
Brent Lang and Elizabeth Wagmeister report: Harvey Weinstein’s implosion has been cathartic for Lauren Sivan, one of the dozens of women who have come forward in recent days alleging that the once-celebrated mogul was a serial sexual harasser and abuser. It’s a moment of justice and public condemnation that seemed all but impossible to imagine mere weeks ago when Weinstein enjoyed a position as one of the most powerful figures in media, a skilled operator whose connections stretched from Capitol Hill to Wall Street and whose sense of entitlement knew no bounds.
“You reap what you sow,” says Sivan. “I know that he believed for years that he was untouchable, and a lot of people helped him be untouchable.”Weinstein’s precipitous fall has been stunning, if not a long time coming. He’s been fired from his own company, ostracized by his longtime friends and collaborators in the entertainment industry, transformed from power player to butt of late-night talk-show jokes, ditched by his wife and abandoned by the Democratic political leaders who once coveted his endorsement. The Weinstein Co. is weighing a sale to Colony Capital.
Along with Bill Cosby, Roger Ailes, Bill O’Reilly and L.A. Reid, Weinstein is a sign that the old methods that stars and top executives used to cover up their sins isn’t working. Their praetorian guards of lawyers and spin-makers, their penchant for paying hush money to victims and making them sign draconian nondisclosure agreements that prevent them from going public, can no longer buy silence.
Hollywood’s veil of secrecy has been pierced, and such complicity and enabling may no longer be tolerated in a company town that has long protected its own.
“We are shining a bright light on aggressors and powerful offenders as an example to every other employee out there,” says TV commentator Wendy Walsh, one of O’Reilly’s accusers.
As the chorus of accusers grows daily and as Weinstein finds himself isolated and abandoned by the A-list stars and directors he once claimed as friends, the conversation in Hollywood is pointing to a major shift. The hope in the industry is that the alleged abhorrent behavior by Weinstein and the other perpetrators will trigger some genuine soul-searching across the entertainment business and beyond.
Instead of simply inspiring big names in the industry to release anodyne statements that are light on substance and heavy on synonyms for deplorable, there’s an urge to have a deeper conversation about how to improve the climate and culture in Hollywood so whistle-blowers are supported and predators aren’t rewarded with corner offices, private jets and a license to operate with impunity. Read the rest of this entry »
Comedy Writer Reveals Lurid Details of Harassment on Set — and Why It Cost Her a Job.
Janis Hirsch writes: In 1986, after only three or four years in Los Angeles, Garry Shandling called to offer me a job on his new show. I don’t remember how I knew Garry well enough for him to call me, but whenever I’d run into him at Hugo’s, we’d share a laugh or two, and once he asked me if I could help him find a snake man. Even though I lived in a snake-free condo, I found him one. And not to brag, but this was before Google.
Anyway, he offered me a job on Showtime’s It’s Garry Shandling’s Show, and even though all I knew was the title, that was enough for me. It started out as a lot of fun. A bunch of cool, smart guys and me working on a show where Garry didn’t just break the fourth wall but rode around behind it in a golf cart.
Once we got on the air, we were golden. I was, at any rate; I wrote two of first six episodes, both of which got a nice write-up in the L.A. Times, both of which said nice things about me, the writer, the only woman on staff. What could possibly go wrong?
The guys started excluding me from meetings: “Oh, we couldn’t find you”…at my desk. Then they started excluding me from the table, instead assigning me “the slit scenes” to write. Even though these scenes were the ones that featured the only female castmember, it didn’t occur to me exactly what slit they were referring to until one day in the ladies room.
[Read the full story here, at Hollywood Reporter]
My mantra became, “I won’t cry until I get home.” It was amended to “I won’t cry until I get into the parking lot,” which became “I won’t cry until I get into the stairwell,” which morphed into “Fuck, I’m crying.’
One day, I was sitting in Garry’s office across the desk from him. A few of the writers and one of the actors were in the room, too. I felt a tap on my shoulder, I turned, and there was that actor’s flaccid penis draped on it like a pirate’s dead parrot. Riotous laughter ensued from all but one of us. Read the rest of this entry »
Being a Journalist is Hard!
- New York Times Senior Home Page Editor, Des Shoe, Admits Company Culture of Blatant Bias at NYT is “widely understood to be liberal-leaning…”
- NYT Journalists: “if we write about him [Trump], and how insanely crazy he is…maybe people will read it and be like…we shouldn’t vote for him.”
- Calls Trump an “oblivious idiot” and Pence “f***ing horrible” Because of Religious Views
- Admits New York Times Report on “what the readers want”
- “They call it the Trump bump” Says Shoe, Regarding the Influx of Subscribers Since Trump’s Presidency Began
- Des Shoe: “The main objective is to grab subscribers. You do that any way that you can.”
(NEW YORK) – Project Veritas has released a video of the New York Times Homepage Editor Des Shoe, who was caught on hidden-camera admitting that the Times has a liberal bias and attacking President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence. This is part three of their American Pravda NYT investigation.
When confronted with the notion that during the election, The Times‘ front page, for which she is responsible, was completely focused around Trump. She tells the undercover journalist that NYT reporters tried to influence the election with their reporting:
“I think one of the things that maybe journalists were thinking about is like…Oh, if we write about him, about how insanely crazy he is and how ludicrous his policies are, then maybe people will read it and be like, oh wow, we shouldn’t vote for him.”
She admits that the New York Times has a clearly defined liberal-leaning bias: “The New York Times is not…I mean, it’s widely understood to be liberal-leaning. But, American newspapers are not supposed to claim a bias, they’re supposed to be objective.”
“So the…ahh, but the New York Times is not left?” the Project Veritas journalist asked. Shoe clarified, “I’m not saying that they’re not. I’m saying it’s widely, widely understood to be left-leaning.”
She also tells the undercover journalist that reporting objectively is simply too difficult for the Times: “Our main stories are supposed to be objective. It’s very difficult in this day and age to do that.”
Shoe blames the business model for the New York Times‘ lack of fact-based reporting:
“This is what I was trying to say is like the last couple years it’s changed for the bad…
“I think the business model itself is just… there’s so much panic about what to do that, you know, what else is a company supposed to do?
“That’s the conundrum…is that a business model, in this time is built on what the readers want.”
The New York Times senior homepage editor goes on to explain the positive effect of Trump’s victory: “Since the election, like you know…Speaking on, you know, for The New York Times, our subscriptions have sky-rocketed since…I mean, they call it the Trump bump.”
This sentiment was echoed by Nick Dudich, who was featured in American Pravda Part 1 and Part 2. He explains, “I mean honestly, Trump has driven us more business than anybody else. Anytime he says failing, we add a boost of subscribers.”
The New York Times responded to Part I in a statement, calling Dudich “a recent hire in a junior position.” Later, Executive Editor of the NYT Dean Baquet described Dudich as “a kid…who just started his career in journalism.” The same cannot be said for Ms. Shoe, a senior-level employee who has been with The Times since January of 2009.
Des Shoe claims that the New York Times has to chase clicks in the current media environment, “The Washington Post, people who have paywalls up…The main objective is to grab subscribers. You do that any way that you can.”
When told the New York Times seems more like a ‘click-paper’, Shoe replies:
“I mean, you’re not wrong. Like, I would love to be able to speak my mind completely about…If I ever leave the Times I’ll go back to you guys and tell you exactly what I think. But, I mean, there’s stuff like…And this is what I was trying to say is like the last couple years it’s changed for the bad.”
Shoe finally goes on to explain her personal biases against President Trump, “I feel like Trump is…is just a…is sort of an idiot in a lot of ways. Just an oblivious idiot.” Read the rest of this entry »
Jesus Campos was set for appearances on Fox News, ABC, CNN, CBS and NBC when he seemingly disappeared.
The Times on Monday reported that Jesus Campos has apparently vanished from the public eye after encountering shooter Stephen Paddock earlier this month.
The president of the Security, Police, and Fire Professionals of America union said that it had been four days since he had seen Campos.
“We have had no contact with him,” Dave Hickey said. “Clearly, somebody knows where he is.”
Hickey said he was with Campos last Thursday, helping coordinate a series of television interviews the guard was slated to give about the rampage.
Campos was scheduled to appear on Fox News’s “Hannity,” and he was also set for appearances on ABC, CNN, CBS and NBC.
Hickey said that Campos was staying in a suite in a Las Vegas hotel, only to apparently depart while he was attending a meeting.
The union president added that after his meeting with MGM representatives ended last Thursday afternoon, Campos was no longer present in a nearby room. Read the rest of this entry »
A collective jaw dropped this week as Asia Argento, Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie, Mira Sorvino, Rosanna Arquette and a host of other women joined Ashley Judd and Rose McGowan in speaking publicly about being harassed, mauled and even allegedly raped by Hollywood’s heavyweight gorilla, Harvey Weinstein.
Media outlets ironically wrung their hands and asked in big, bold block letters: How could this have gone on for so long? If everyone knew, why didn’t anyone say anything? And the inevitable: What can be done?
To answer these questions, let’s look beyond the Harvey-shaped elephant in the room. Behind the touted veneer of creative genius and imagination, the Hollywood studio system (an umbrella term that now encompasses movie studios, television networks, news organizations, tech companies and new media) was built on top of the cushions of the casting couch. And, as we’ve seen several times this year, that couch was never retired.
I witnessed a lot at Page Six — only a fraction of which ever hit the paper (for a multitude of reasons). But I will share one incident in May 2004 that has always summed up for me how this industry really feels about women.
I had gone to dinner with a friend who was in town for the upfronts (the big annual congregation where television network executives fly in from Los Angeles and present their upcoming slates of new shows). He worked at United Talent Agency and was psyched when I scored us an 8 p.m. reservation at the hottest place in town, Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Spice Market, unfortunately, next to a table of three drunk and loud television executives, one of whom I knew headed up a cable network.
“I need a hooker while I’m in town,” one man quasi-yelled.
“Dude — the top-shelf whores go for $1,000 an hour, $5,000 a night,” the cable exec bragged to his friends.
“That’s all? All night?”
“All night — whatever you want — and these are working actresses.”
“No way — who are we talking about?”
The executive, in between ordering more bottles of Patron silver, proceeded to bray out the names of women who were indeed working actresses as well as models — including one woman who was cast in a show on his network. He was her boss.
“How do you think she got the job?” the executive joked, as the others high-fived him.
That incident always ate at me — it was the crystallization of just how lousy it is out there for women trying to either get a job, do their job or advance in one of the most powerful industries in America. Read the rest of this entry »