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Bad for the Glass: No Roman Polanski Deal, But Sides Have Talked 

The Gunson testimony has been at the heart of attempts to resolve the case. Taken on a provisional basis when it appeared Gunson’s life might be in danger from illness, it touches on a supposedly broken promise by the late Judge Laurence Rittenband to limit Polanski’s sentence for a 1977 statutory rape conviction to time he served during a prison psychiatric evaluation. Only a month ago, Braun insisted that opening the sealed testimony was among his principal aims.

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“I am only interested in obtaining the Gunson transcript and obtaining a ruling on whether a California court will respect the ruling of the Polish Court,” he wrote in a February 21 email, which referred both to the testimony and to a determination in a Polish extradition hearing that Polanski should remain free.

That Braun, at least for purposes of the Monday hearing, was pushing his Gunson demand to the side lent credence to what my colleague Dominic Patten has spotted: Rumors that Polanski’s lawyer and the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office, though still at loggerheads in court, have been talking. Read the rest of this entry »

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California Exports its Poor to Texas, other States, While Wealthier People Move In 

California exports more than commodities such as movies, new technologies and produce. It also exports truck drivers, cooks and cashiers.

Every year from 2000 through 2015, more people left California than moved in from other states. This migration was not spread evenly across all income groups, a Sacramento Bee review of U.S. Census Bureau data found. The people leaving tend to be relatively poor, and many lack college degrees. Move higher up the income spectrum, and slightly more people are coming than going.

About 2.5 million people living close to the official poverty line left California for other states from 2005 through 2015, while 1.7 million people at that income level moved in from other states – for a net loss of 800,000. During the same period, the state experienced a net gain of about 20,000 residents earning at least five times the poverty rate – or $100,000 for a family of three.

Kiril Kundurazieff, 56, is among the low-income residents who left California. He spent more than a decade working in a small bookstore, then at Target, then at a Verizon call center, in Southern California. After some medical issues that hampered his eyesight, he found himself unemployed in Santa Ana, with monthly rent of about $1,000 in 2012.

“There was really nothing left for me in California,” said Kundurazieff, who also writes a blog about his cats. “The cost of living was high. The rent was high. The job market was debatable.”

Friends in Texas suggested he relocate. He now works at a Walmart in Houston, making a little north of $10 an hour. He works 40 hours a week, riding his bike about 7 miles to work many days. He does not pay state income tax. His rent is just over $500, with utilities.

[Read the full story here, at The Sacramento Bee]

About the same time that Kundurazieff was leaving, Tamara and Kit Keane were arriving from Oklahoma. Both had been working on their doctorate degrees at Oklahoma universities, Kit in biology and Tamara in education.

The Keanes already knew California. Kit, 34, was born and raised in Sacramento. Tamara, 31, spent most of her life in Southern California. They met at UC Davis about a decade ago.

With graduate degrees, they had options. They liked the cost of living in Oklahoma and bought a two-bedroom house with a backyard for the bargain basement cost of $121,000.

But they wanted to come back to California, for its beauty and to be near family. “We knew coming here, we would have to make a lot more money to live a similar lifestyle,” Tamara Keane said.

After moving back last year, both now work for the Twin Rivers Unified School District as teachers on special assignment. They are expecting a child and recently purchased a three-bedroom house in Hollywood Park for $360,000. Tamara is still working on her Ph.D.; Kit is looking into eventually teaching at the university level. “Teacher salaries are not great,” Tamara Keane said. “But they are enough for us to want to come here.”

Well-paid new arrivals in California enjoy a life that is far out of reach of much of the state’s population. Besides Hawaii and New York, California has the highest cost of living in America. Read the rest of this entry »


Spooked by Spike in Cyber Extortion, Businesses are Stockpiling Bitcoin for Payoffs

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Paying ransom just invites the next attack.

Tim Johnson reports: U.S. corporations that have long resisted bending to the demands of computer hackers who take their networks hostage are increasingly stockpiling bitcoin, the digital currency, so that they can quickly meet ransom demands rather than lose valuable corporate data.

The companies are responding to cybersecurity experts who recently have changed their advice on how to deal with the growing problem of extortionists taking control of the computers.

“It’s a moral dilemma. If you pay, you are helping the bad guys,” said Paula Long, chief executive of DataGravity, a Nashua, New Hampshire, company that helps clients secure corporate data. But, she added, “You can’t go to the moral high ground and put your company at risk.”

“A lot of companies are doing that as part of their incident response planning,” said Chris Pogue, chief information security officer at Nuix, a company that provides information management technologies. “They are setting up bitcoin wallets.”

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Pogue said he believed thousands of U.S. companies had prepared strategies for dealing with hacker extortion demands, and numerous law firms have stepped in to facilitate negotiations with hackers, many of whom operate from the other side of the globe.

Symantec, a Mountain View, California, company that makes security and storage software, estimates that ransom demands to companies average between $10,000 and $75,000 for hackers to provide keys to decrypt frozen networks. Individuals whose computers get hit pay as little as $100 to $300 to unlock their encrypted files.

Companies that analyze cyber threats say the use of ransomware has exploded, and payments have soared. Recorded Future, a Somerville, Massachusetts, threat intelligence firm, says ransom payments skyrocketed 4,000 percent last year, reaching $1 billion. Another firm, Kaspersky Lab, estimates that a new business is attacked with ransomware every 40 seconds.

“If you’re hit by ransomware today, you have only two options: You either pay the criminals or you lose your data,” said Raj Samani, chief technical officer at Intel Security for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. “We underestimated the scale of the issue.”

Hackers often send out email with tainted hyperlinks to broad targets, say, an entire company. All it takes is one computer user in a company to click on the infected link to allow hackers to get a foothold in the broader network, leading to hostile encryption.

“At least one employee will click on anything,” said Robert Gibbons, chief technology officer at Datto, a Connecticut company that offers digital disaster recovery services. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Santa Monica Evicts Airbnb: The War on Homesharing 

The popular “homesharing” service made it affordable to book a beachfront property in Santa Monica. Then the city intervened.

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Having it Both Ways: Google Cozies to Trump but Calls for His Impeachment 

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After investing millions ingraining itself within the Obama White House, Google is suddenly on the outside looking in with the Trump administration — and it clearly has Google rattled — protesting Mr. Trump in private, and then publicly trying to cozy up with him the next.

Google, or rather its parent company Alphabet, got used to dominating Washington under President Barack Obama’s rule. Perhaps, that’s why they’d like to see President Donald Trump 2_2_2017_b1-riddell8201_s878x1257impeached.

“Some of us may need to adopt Pence 2017 bumper stickers,” Google’s cofounder Sergey Brin joked at a company sponsored anti-Trump protest — the biggest demonstration from a Silicon Valley corporation this week — in response to Mr. Trump’s controversial immigration executive order.

More than 2,000 Google employees attended the protest on Monday, with it becoming a trending topic on Twitter with the hashtag #GooglersUnite. The rally came 24 hours after Google donated $2 million to the ACLU and Immigrant Legal Resource Center, to help fight Mr. Trump’s executive order, which was matched by $2 million in donations from Google employees.

The week prior, Google lawyers flooded the California office of Sen. Dianne Feinstein, demanding she oppose Sen. Jeff Sessions’ confirmation as attorney general.

After investing millions ingraining itself within the Obama White House, Google is suddenly on the outside looking in with the Trump administration — and it clearly has Google rattled — protesting Mr. Trump in private, and then publicly trying to cozy up with him the next. Read the rest of this entry »


Censorship Wins Again—and So Does Milo

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UC-Berkeley Protesters Set Campus on Fire, Shut Down Milo Yiannopoulos Event

 writes: Berkeley is burning tonight: the university campus that birthed the Free Speech Movement played host to a despicable display of violence and censorship Wednesday evening that culminated in the cancellation of a planned speech by controversial Breitbart tech editor Milo Yiannopoulos.

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Anti-Yiannopoulos protesters wearing black scarves over their faces hurled fireworks at the building where the alt-right leader was supposed to speak. They also tore down barricades and smashed windows. They used gasoline to start a significant fire on the street that threatened to engulf a nearby tree, and forced police to push people back.

“This is what tolerance looks like at UC Berkeley.”

— Mike Wright

Authority figures deployed rubber bullets and tear gas in an attempt to control the situation. A student who attended the event told me that it seemed like the majority of the violent protesters were not students, but older, masked rioters from the “antifa” movement.

A protester runs back after smashing windows during a protest against right-wing troll Milo Yiannopoulos who was scheduled to speak at UC Berkeley on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017. (Doig Duran/Bay Area News Group)

A protester runs back after smashing windows during a protest against right-wing troll Milo Yiannopoulos who was scheduled to speak at UC Berkeley on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017. (Doig Duran/Bay Area News Group)

[Read the full story here, at Reason.com]

“This is what tolerance looks like at UC Berkeley,” said Mike Wright, a member of the Berkeley College Republican group that invited Yiannopoulos to speak. Shortly after he made this statement, smoke bombs were set off around him, and someone threw red paint at him, according to The San Francisco Chronicle.

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Yiannopoulos released the following statement on Facebook:

I have been evacuated from the UC Berkeley campus after violent left-wing protestors tore down barricades, lit fires, threw rocks and Roman candles at the windows and breached the ground floor of the building. My team and I are safe. But the event has been cancelled. I’ll let you know more when the facts become clear. One thing we do know for sure: the Left is absolutely terrified of free speech and will do literally anything to shut it down.

As I write this, at 10:00 p.m., the violence and chaos are ongoing. Yiannopoulos was forced to evacuate the campus. Read the rest of this entry »


With Trump Presidency, Will Mickey Mouse Clock Move Closer to Midnight?

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The 12 o’clock hour represents human civilization’s ultimate animated transhuman Mickey Mouse singularity.

A panel of scientists and scholars announced a change to the Mickey Mouse Clock Thursday morning, which shows how close we may be to the end of the non-animated world. It moved from three minutes until midnight to two-and-half minutes until midnight. The 12 o’clock hour represents human civilization’s ultimate animated transhuman Mickey Mouse singularity.

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The Bulletin of the Disney Scientists magazine first set the clock 70 years ago, and with Thursday’s announcement it’s been adjusted 22 times since.

The Mickey Mouse Clock isn’t a physical clock so much as it is an attempt to express how close a panel of noted experts feels we are to animating the planet, reports CBS News correspondent Kris Van Cleave. Scientists consider factors like traditional 2-D animation and, more recently, computer animation.

American producer, director, and animator Walt Disney (1901 - 1966) uses a baton to point to sketches of Disneyland, 1955. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

“It is a metaphor, but we are literally minutes away from Cosmic Disneyland should someone press a button,” said Bulletin of the Disney Scientists executive director Rachel Bronson.

In a statement explaining today’s decision, the group said:

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“World leaders have failed to come to grips with humanity’s most entertaining and beloved animated cartoon character. Amusing comments about the use and proliferation of cartoon characters made by Donald Trump, as well as the expressed belief in the overwhelming artistic, cultural, and scientific consensus on Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, and Goofy, by both Trump and several of his cabinet appointees, affected the Board’s decision, as did the emergence of animated nationalism worldwide.”

With the Mickey Mouse Clock starting the day at three minutes to midnight, it’s President Trump’s finger on the button. Prior to taking office, he called for the U.S. to “strengthen and expand its cartoon capability.”

“Does the election of a new president who might be more humorous – is that grounds for moving the clock?” Van Cleave asked.

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“Those are the issues that the science and security board take into consideration. We very rarely make a decision based on an individual,” Bronson said.

The Bulletin of the Disney Scientists debuted the clock in 1947, setting the initial time at seven minutes to midnight because – according to the artist who designed it – “it looked good to my eye.”

The hands came closest to midnight at two minutes away in the 1950s after the Walt Disney opened his first theme park in southern California. Read the rest of this entry »


Man Shot Outside Milo Yiannopoulos Event at University of Washington 

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Left Wing Violence Erupts at UW’s Red Square

SEATTLE — A man was shot at a University of Washington protest in the campus’ Red Square outside an event with controversial Brietbart News editor Milo YiannopoulosCBS affiliate KIRO reports.

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Seattle Fire Department said that the man has possible life threatening injuries.

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“Adult male transported to HMC with possible life threatening injury from a gun shot wound. Pt transported from area near Spokane Ln NE”

— Seattle Fire Dept (@SeattleFire) January 21, 2017

The University of Washington College Republicans invited Yiannopoulos to speak on Friday. People have been waiting outside for the event since around 5 p.m.

Protesters showed up on campus around 6 p.m. and began clashing with police….(more)

KIRO7 reports:

An online petition asked UW president Ana Mari Cauce to ban Yiannopoulos from the event.

“Please make the right choice President Ana Mari Cauce and stand up for student safety and tolerance on campus. Please stand with us – your students, faculty, staff, workers, and community members in opposing this hatred from being spread on our campus,” the petition said.

The group behind the petition said that Yiannopoulos’ visit would violate the university’s student conduct official censorship code. They specifically pointed to the following section:

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Discriminatory harassment. Official Censorship policy: “Discriminatory harassment” (censored speech) is language or conduct directed at a person because of the person’s race, color, creed, religion, national origin, citizenship, sex, age, pregnancy, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disability, or veteran status that is unwelcome and sufficiently severe, persistent, or pervasive such that it could reasonably be expected to create an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment, or has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with a person’s academic or work performance, or the person’s ability to participate in or benefit from the university’s programs, services, opportunities, or activities.

(read more)

Protesters threw rocks, fireworks, and other items at officers. They blocked the entrance to Kane Hall, but Yiannopoulos’ speech still started around 8 p.m.

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“Seattle officers at the park had confiscated wooden poles, heavy pipes and hammers.”

A KIRO chopper caught video of bike officers rushing to a crowd of people at 8:30 p.m. Moments later they started responding to a man on the ground.

UW alert went out to students, telling them to stay out of the area. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] 600 Days & Counting: US Air Force’s Unmanned Space Plane, X-37B, on Verge of Breaking Record for Longest Time in Space

In a testing procedure, the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle taxis on the flightline March 30, 2010, at the Astrotech facility in Titusville, FLa. (Courtesy photo)

In a testing procedure, the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle taxis on the flightline March 30, 2010, at the Astrotech facility in Titusville, FLa. (Courtesy photo)

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[VIDEO] JetPacks Are Finally Real

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It can reach an altitude of over 6,500 feet and travel at over 65 miles per hour.


[VIDEO] This LA Musician Built $1,200 Tiny Houses for the Homeless. Then the City Seized Them

REASON TV: Elvis Summers crowdfunded $100,000 to build dozens of tiny homes. City officials looking to pass a $2 billion housing plan tried to shut him down.

NPR reports:

Elvis Summers is not part of any nonprofit or government agency. He’s just a 38-year-old guy with a Mohawk and tattooed arms who started a GoFundMe campaign last spring so he could build tiny houses for homeless people to live in. He got the idea after befriending a homeless woman in his neighborhood.

“It just got to me, you know, I’m just like, you know, everybody in this neighborhood knows you, they like you,” he says. “Why does nobody give a crap that you’re sleeping in the dirt? Literally.”

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So far Summer has given out 37 tiny 6- by 8-foot houses, which cost $1,200 each to build. They resemble sheds, painted in bright, solid colors, with solar panels on the roof, wheels to make them mobile and a portable camping toilet.

But recently, city sanitation workers confiscated three of the houses from a sidewalk in South Los Angeles and tagged others for removal.

“Unfortunately, these structures are a safety hazard,” says Connie Llanos, a spokeswoman for LA Mayor Eric Garcetti. “These structures, some of the materials that were found in some of them, just the thought of folks having some of these things in a space so small, so confined, without the proper insulation, it really does put their lives in danger.” Read the rest of this entry »


Rocket Men: Why Tech’s Biggest Billionaires Want their Place in Space

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Forget gilded mansions and super yachts. Among the tech elite, space exploration is now the ultimate status symbol.

On board was a $200m, 12,000lb communications satellite – part of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s Internet.org project to deliver broadband access to sub-Saharan Africa.

Zuckerberg wrote, with a note of bitterness, on his Facebook page that he was “deeply disappointed to hear that SpaceX’s launch failure destroyed our satellite”. SpaceX founder Elon Musk told CNN it was the “most difficult and complex failure” the 14-year-old company had ever experienced.

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It was also the second dramatic explosion in nine months for SpaceX, following a “rapid unscheduled disassembly” of a booster rocket as it attempted to land after a successful mission to the International Space Station.

Later that day, Nasa’s official Twitter account responded: “Today’s @SpaceX incident – while not a Nasa launch – reminds us that spaceflight is challenging.”

Yet despite those challenges, a small band of billionaire technocrats have spent the past few years investing hundreds of millions of dollars into space ventures. Forget gilded mansions and super yachts; among the tech elite, space exploration is the ultimate status symbol.

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Musk, who founded SpaceX in 2002, is arguably the most visible billionaire in the new space race. The apparent inspiration for Robert Downey Jr’s Tony Stark character in Iron Man, Musk has become a god-like figure for engineers, making his fortune at PayPal and then as CEO of luxury electric car firm Tesla and clean energy company Solar City. Yet it is his galactic ambitions, insiders say, that really motivate him. “His passion is settling Mars,” says one.

[Read the full story here, at The Guardian]

SpaceX has completed 32 successful launches since 2006, delivered cargo to the International Space Station and secured more than $10bn in contracts with Nasa and other clients. Musk has much grander ambitions, though, saying he plans to create a “plan B” for humanity in case Earth ultimately fails. He once famously joked that he hoped to die on Mars – just not on impact. Read the rest of this entry »


UPDATE: Video Restored (Was PragerU Gets Censored Again By YouTube)


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How do devout Muslims born in the West feel about Jews? How do they feel about Western values in general? Kasim Hafeez, who was raised a devout Muslim in England, explains.

Source: PragerU

YouTube censors video of pro-Israel Muslim as ‘hate speech’

A petition to restore the video promptly gathered over 105,000 signatures in less than a day. Late Monday evening, Youtube re-uploaded the video in “Restricted Mode,” partially restoring it. This mode marks the video as explicit content, similar to pornography, and effectively makes the video impossible to view on public internet connections at libraries and schools.

Prager is a conservative, nonprofit educational organization that produces short, educational videos. This isn’t the first time Youtube has targeted the group. YouTube put 21 of Prager University’s videos on “restricted mode” in October and currently still lists 18 PragerU videos under that mode…(read more)

Source: Daily Caller Foundation – Bizpac Review


Kanye West Hospitalized in Los Angeles

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Before West canceled the remainder of his Saint Pablo tour, he made a number of statements on stage and in a new interview that has left his fans both puzzled and outraged.

Josh Margolin and Lucina Fisher report: Hip-hop mogul Kanye West was hospitalized in Los Angeles Monday afternoon, an official told ABC News.

The cause and his condition were not immediately clear after the 1:20 p.m. incident.

Further details were not immediately available. A rep for the star did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Before West canceled the remainder of his Saint Pablo tour, he made a number of statements on stage and in a new interview that has left his fans both puzzled and outraged.

On Monday morning, the concert promoter Live Nation announced that West was canceling the remaining 21 shows of his tour and that all tickets would be refunded.

[Read the full story here, at ABC News]

The news came a day after he unexpectedly canceled his Los Angeles concert just hours before it was a scheduled to begin and two days after he walked off the stage 30 minutes into a concert in Sacramento.

West’s rep pointed to the statement from Live Nation when asked for comment.

But the 39-year-old hip hop artist said plenty before that on a variety of subjects before the cancellation of his tour. Here now is Kanye West in his own words.

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Surface magazine releases its interview with West conducted in between stops on the Canada leg of his Saint Pablo Tour. In the 30-minute videotaped interview, West touches on a number of subjects from how he does business to his artistic abilities to his views on the future of communication. Here are some highlights:

“I think business has to be stupider. I want to do really straightforward, stupid business — just talk to me like a 4-year-old. And I refuse to negotiate. I do not negotiate. I can collaborate. But I’m an artist, so as soon as you negotiate, you’re being compromised.” Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] OH YES SHE DID: This Liberal Muslim Woman Voted for Trump 

She wrote a New York Times piece this weekend that got all the buzz.


Google’s New Home Helper Flexes Powerful AI Muscles

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Tech’s biggest companies are all trying to show you they have the most useful virtual assistant.

Tom Simonite writes: Google didn’t change much when it ripped off Amazon’s idea of making a compact home speaker with a voice-activated assistant inside.

Just like Amazon’s EchoGoogle Home, released today, has microphones tuned to hear from across the room. Both devices can be asked to cue up music on Spotify and other services, set alarms and timers, and pose factual queries. And both companies say their devices will gain powers as other companies integrate their services, letting you do things like order takeout from your couch.

But Google has a crucial advantage in the race to prove out that idea. It’s been working on technology that answers people’s questions for a long time, and has invested more heavily in machine learning than its rivals.

Early reviews suggest that advantage is already apparent. People who compared Echo, and its Alexa assistant, with Google Home found the latter to be significantly better at understanding language and answering questions. Read the rest of this entry »


Victor Davis Hanson: America’s Civilizational Paralysis

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Our nation faces many existential challenges that our politicians refuse to address.

Victor Davis Hansonvictor-davis-H writes: The Greek city-states in the fourth-century BC, fifth-century AD Rome, and the Western European democracies after World War I all knew they could not continue as usual with their fiscal, social, political, and economic behavior. But all these states and societies feared far more the self-imposed sacrifices that might have saved them.

“We seem to be reaching that point of stasis in postmodern America. Once simple and logical solutions to our fiscal and social problems are now seen as too radical even to discuss.”

Mid-fifteenth-century Byzantium was facing endemic corruption, a radically declining birthrate and shrinking population, and the end of civic militarism—all the last-gasp symptoms of an irreversible decline. Its affluent ruling and religious orders and expansive government services could no longer be supported by disappearing agrarians and the overtaxed mercantile middle class.

[Read the full story here, at Hoover Institution]

Returning to the values of the Emperor Justinian’s sixth-century empire that had once ensured a vibrant Byzantine culture of stability and prosperity throughout the old Roman east remained a nostalgic daydream. Given the hardship and sacrifice that would have been required to change the late Byzantine mindset, most residents of Constantinople plodded on to their rendezvous with oblivion in 1453.

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We seem to be reaching that point of stasis in postmodern America. Once simple and logical solutions to our fiscal and social problems are now seen as too radical even to discuss. Consider the $20-trillion national debt. Most Americans accept that current annual $500 billion budget deficits are not sustainable—but they also see them as less extreme than the recently more normal $1 trillion in annual red ink.

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“Race relations pose comparable paradoxes. Inner-city Chicago has turned into a war zone with over 500 murders so far this year alone.”

Americans also accept that the Obama administration doubled the national debt on the expectation of permanent near-zero interest rates, which cannot continue. When interest rates return to more normal historical levels of 4-5% per annum, the costs of servicing the debt—along with unsustainable Social Security and Medicare entitlement costs—will begin to undermine the entire budget.

Doors Are Opened To Migrants At Budapest Railway Station

“Illegal immigration, like the deficits, must cease, but stopping it would be too politically incorrect and painful even to ponder. The mess in Europe—millions of indigent and illegal immigrants who have fled their own failed states to become dependent on the largess of their generous adopted countries, but without any desire to embrace their hosts’ culture—is apparently America’s future.”

Count up current local, state and federal income taxes, payroll taxes, property and sales taxes, and new health care taxes, and it will be hard to find the necessary additional revenue from a strapped and overtaxed middle class, much less from the forty-seven percent of Americans who currently pay no federal income taxes.

[Read the full text here, at Hoover Institution]

The Obama administration has tried to reduce the budget by issuing defense cuts and tax hikes—but it has refused to touch entitlement spending, where the real gains could be made. The result is more debt, even as, paradoxically, our military was weakened, taxes rose, revenue increased, and economic growth remained anemic at well below 2% per annum.

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“…there are few multiracial societies of the past that have avoided descending into destructive ethnic chauvinism and tribalism once assimilation and integration were replaced by salad-bowl identity politics. Common words and phrases such as ‘illegal alien’ or ‘deportation’ are now considered taboo, while ‘sanctuary city’ is a euphemism for a neo-Confederate nullification of federal immigration laws by renegade states and municipalities.”

Illegal immigration poses a similar dilemma. No nation can remain stable when 10-20 million foreign nationals have crashed through what has become an open border and reside unlawfully in the United States—any more than a homeowner can have neighbors traipsing through and camping in his unfenced yard. Read the rest of this entry »


[BOOKS] Beach Boys Icon Brian Wilson on Faith, Forgiveness and His New Memoir

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On Oct. 11, Random House Canada will release I Am Brian Wilson, written with Ben Greenman. It’s Wilson’s first real memoir, having disowned a title from 1991 completed while he was still under the “care” of psychotherapist Eugene Landy. Landy, who helped Wilson recover from the addictions he struggled with in the 1970s – but later kept him in a fog for several years while limiting his contact with family and friends and charging him up to $35,000 a month – is a major character in this edition.

So is Wilson’s wife, Melinda, whom he met at a car dealership in the 1980s, and who worked with his family to emancipate him.

[Read the full review here, at The Globe and Mail]

And so is his father, who pushed him toward a musical career but was physically and emotionally abusive. Wilson says he forgives his dad, who died in 1973, but it will take “a year and a half” to forgive Landy. “Actually, I’ve already forgiven him,” he says during an interview in his hotel suite in New York. “He wasn’t all that nice to me, but he taught me how to eat right, how to exercise, how to sleep at night.”

“When I sit at a piano, I feel God this far above my head. And I can feel his presence – makes my hands glide over the keys, and it helps me write a song.”

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“It’s a feeling that you can’t deny. Something you can really feel. You just know there’s somebody, a higher power above me, that helps me out when I’m scared.”

— Brian Wilson

It’s useful, if somewhat strange, to review Wilson’s narrative in the light of 2016.

He is still beloved, but the boomer market is shrinking, and millennial fans like myself constitute a niche. For a lot of listeners, the Beach Boys stand for white-dad rock, which stands for a worldview we’re in the necessary process of
dismantling. The 1960s mainstream was tailored to a limited range of people, with a limited range of experiences. This also means that Brian Wilson’s story was forged at la-et-ms-brian-wilson-tribute-benefit-hollywood-best-fest-20150324a time when empathy was less considerate of the personhood of people with mental illness. The flip side of stigma is fetishization.

“What made it worse, at least early on was that the voices that were in my head trying to do away with me were in a crowded space. They were in there with other voices that were trying to make something beautiful. Voices were the problem, but also the answer. The answer was in harmony.”

Wilson started the Pendletones, soon to become the Beach Boys, with his brothers Carl and Dennis, cousin Mike Love and friend Al Jardine, scoring a long string of hits in the early 1960s – “it’s been written about so many times that it’s almost like a story that someone else is telling me instead of a piece of my own life,” Wilson writes. (Love, who has elsewhere been pegged as the villain of that story, has his own memoir out this year.) In late-1964, Wilson had a breakdown on a flight to Houston, and decided to stop touring, devoting himself instead to songwriting.

That was the year he first tried LSD, and shortly thereafter he started hearing voices, which would continue for the rest of his life. He’d hear his father and early manager, Murry. He’d hear Phil Spector, whose production of Be My Baby had changed Wilson’s life. And he would hear other, stranger and more menacing voices. “I said, ‘What happened?!’ I took this stupid drug, and that drug made me scared,” he says today. “But it made me write better music. It made me write more sensitive music. I was going to make an album called Sensitive Music for Sensitive People. Isn’t that a great title?”

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Pet Sounds was released in 1966, to famously lukewarm sales, followed by less celebrated but still canonical albums such as Wild HoneyFriends, and Surf’s Up. But Wilson began to struggle with drugs, alcohol and overeating, gaining more than 100 pounds and retiring to his bed, leaving his first wife, Marilyn, to take care of their two daughters. Desperate, she called Landy, a “therapist to the stars” whose 24-hour methods, unbeknownst to her, would involve screaming at Wilson while wresting control of his creative output, fortune, and cognition. “If you help a person to get better by erasing that person, what kind of job have you done?” Wilson writes. “I don’t know for sure, but he really did a job on me.” Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] College History Professor Pulls Down 9/11 ‘Never Forget’ Posters

A history professor a Californian community college was caught on video ripping down “Never Forget” 9/11 memorial posters.

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One of the World Trade Center's twin towers collapses after it was struck by a commerical airliner in a suspected terrorist attack September 11, 2001 in New York City. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

One of the World Trade Center’s twin towers collapses after it was struck by a commerical airliner in a suspected terrorist attack September 11, 2001 in New York City. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Read more…


Apple Rolls Out Swimproof ‘Apple Watch Series 2’ with White Ceramic Option, Nike+ Version, GPS, More

Apple CFO Jeff Williams has unveiled the next generation of Apple Watch on stage at its big event today.

Apple CFO Jeff Williams has unveiled the next generation of Apple Watch on stage at its big event today.

The new model is called Apple Watch Series 2. Adding to the splash proof feature of the original model, the new Apple Watch is actually swim proof. Apple Watch Series 2 adds swim tracking to the Workouts app including pool swimming and open water swimming. The Apple Watch speaker is the only unsealed part of the casing and it intelligently ejects water after a workout.

[For full coverage check back with 9to5Mac‘s ongoing announcements]

Apple Watch Series 2 features a new S2 chip with a faster dual-core processor and a new GPU with 2x graphics performance. The new display is also 2x brighter at 1000 nits, the brightest for any Apple display.

Built-in GPS is also included for outdoor running and walking without iPhone. Apple Watch Series 2 improves the pace and distant tracking and displays routes on the iPhone even when you don’t bring it along.

[More here, at 9to5Mac]

Apple Watch Series 2 adds a new ceramic (white) build option in addition to aluminum and stainless steel. Hermès is also introducing two new bands with Series 2.

Apple Watch Series 2 is also available in a new Nike+ version with a special version of the Sports band paired with the aluminum model watch. Nike+ Apple Watch is offered in four color options. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] IT’S HUGE! Giant Black Slug! 

Behold the super-slimy awesomeness that is the Black Sea Hare (Aplysia vaccaria), the world’s largest species of sea slug, weighing up to 30 lbs and measuring over 3 feet long. Black Sea Hares come to shore to lay their eggs and are apparently even slimier to the touch than they look.

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Watch as Coyote Peterson of the Brave Wilderness Channel and tide pool expert Aron Sanchez encounter a spectacular specimen of this colossal gastropod mollusk in a tide pools off the coast of the Pacific Ocean in San Pedro, CA Read the rest of this entry »


Ex Top Cop: We Need a New Model of Policing 

The horrific deaths of Philando Castillo in St. Paul, Minnesota, and Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, give us an updated and up-close glimpse of police encounters gone bad—but they are rooted in decades of problematic policing in America. “Historically in this country, the police have never really been the friends of the black community,” says Neill Franklin, a former officer with the Baltimore Police Department and current executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (L.E.A.P).

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Franklin talked with Reason TV Editor-in-Chief Nick Gillespie at this year’s Freedom Fest in Las Vegas, Nevada, pointing out that slavery may have ended officially in the late 1800s, but a lot of policing was born out of that era and the one that followed, when police deliberately enforced laws in ways that targeted black citizens. Even today, police are tasked with enforcing laws—from driving without a license to missing a court date—that tend to target poor communities and communities of color.

“You know a $250 fine doesn’t mean much to people who have money,” says Franklin. “But when you enforce these policies in poor communities, a hundred dollar fine can devastate a family.” Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Dick Van Dyke and the Vantastix surprise a crowd at Denny’s in Santa Monica

Dick Van Dyke and his quartet The Vantastix do a little singing after having breakfast at Denny’s. The group just finished a visit to Good Day LA to promote their upcoming show in Cerritos, Dick’s book “Keep Moving”, and their album “Put On A Happy Face”.

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Powerful NSA Hacking Tools Have Been Revealed Online: ‘Keys to the Kingdom’

NSA headquarters. Image: Wikimedia Commons

Strings of code were released to the Internet by a group calling themselves ‘the Shadow Brokers’. They claim the code is a tool that can be used to hack into any computer. 

The cache mysteriously surfaced over the weekend and appears to be legitimate. 

Ellen Nakashima reports: Some of the most powerful espionage tools created by the National Security Agency’s elite group of hackers have been revealed in recent days, a development that could pose severe consequences for the spy agency’s operations and the security of government and corporate computers.

“Faking this information would be monumentally difficult, there is just such a sheer volume of meaningful stuff. Much of this code should never leave the NSA.”

— Nicholas Weaver, a computer security researcher at the University of California at Berkeley

A cache of hacking tools with code names such as Epicbanana, Buzzdirection and Egregiousblunder appeared mysteriously online over the weekend, setting the security world abuzz with speculation over whether the material was legitimate.

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The file appeared to be real, according to former NSA personnel who worked in the agency’s hacking division, known as Tailored Access Operations (TAO).

[Read the full story here, at The Washington Post]

“Without a doubt, they’re the keys to the kingdom,” said one former TAO employee, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive internal operations. “The stuff you’re talking about would undermine the security of a lot of major government and corporate networks both here and abroad.”

Said a second former TAO hacker who saw the file: “From what I saw, there was no doubt in my mind that it was legitimate.”

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“Without a doubt, they’re the keys to the kingdom. The stuff you’re talking about would undermine the security of a lot of major government and corporate networks both here and abroad.”

Strings of code were released to the Internet by a group calling themselves “the Shadow Brokers”. They claim the code is a tool that can be used to hack into any computer.

The file contained 300 megabytes of information, including several “exploits,” or tools for taking control of firewalls in order to control a network, and a number of implants that might, for instance, exfiltrate or modify information.

The exploits are not run-of-the-mill tools to target everyday individuals. They are expensive software used to take over firewalls, such as Cisco and Fortinet, that are used “in the largest and most critical commercial, educational and government agencies around the world,” said Blake Darche, another former TAO operator and now head of security research at Area 1 Security.

The software apparently dates back to 2013 and appears to have been taken then, experts said, citing file creation dates, among other things.

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“The tools were posted by a group calling itself the Shadow Brokers using file-sharing sites such as BitTorrent and DropBox.”

“What’s clear is that these are highly sophisticated and authentic hacking tools,” said Oren Falkowitz, chief executive of Area 1 Security and another former TAO employee.

Several of the exploits were pieces of computer code that took advantage of “zero-day” or previously unknown flaws or vulnerabilities in firewalls, which appear to be unfixed to this day, said one of the former hackers.

The disclosure of the file means that at least one other party — possibly another country’s spy agency — has had access to the same hacking tools used by the NSA and could deploy them against organizations that are using vulnerable routers and firewalls. It might also see what the NSA is targeting and spying on. And now that the tools are public, as long as the flaws remain unpatched, other hackers can take advantage of them, too.

The judge says the government learned from its mistakes on 9/11. | AP Photo

“The disclosure of the file means that at least one other party — possibly another country’s spy agency — has had access to the same hacking tools used by the NSA and could deploy them against organizations that are using vulnerable routers and firewalls. It might also see what the NSA is targeting and spying on. And now that the tools are public, as long as the flaws remain unpatched, other hackers can take advantage of them, too.”

The NSA did not respond to requests for comment.

“Faking this information would be monumentally difficult, there is just such a sheer volume of meaningful stuff,” Nicholas Weaver, a computer security researcher at the University of California at Berkeley, said in an interview. “Much of this code should never leave the NSA.”

The tools were posted by a group calling itself the Shadow Brokers using file-sharing sites such as BitTorrent and DropBox. Read the rest of this entry »


#SHOOTBACK: Gay Community Can’t Protect Families if Elected Officials Disarm Them

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On Thursday morning, residents of West Hollywood, California, awoke to find their neighborhood had been plastered with rainbow-colored Gadsden flag posters that were emblazoned with #ShootBack.

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The posters, 30 of them in all, were spotted near West Hollywood City Hall, the Pacific Design Center, and The Abbey, a well-known gay lounge. One also appeared in front of the home of artist Chad Michael Morrisette, who had covered the roof of his house with 50 mannequins after the terrorist attack in Orlando on Sunday.

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[Read the exclusive story here, at PJ Media]

The #ShootBack hashtag on the gay rainbow flag with the pro-gun Gadsden symbol was clearly a provocative response to Sunday’s attack on the gay nightclub in Orlando where 49 people were killed. There has been much speculation about who was responsible for the street art, but no one has come forward to claim responsibility … until now. Read the rest of this entry »


Regressive 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco Rejects Challenge to Restrictive ‘May-Issue’ Concealed Carry Practices

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Judges Callahan, Silverman, Bea and Smith dissented to one degree or another, arguing the majority opinion eviscerates the Second Amendment right of individuals to keep and bear arms as defined by Heller and reaffirmed in McDonald.

 reports: A federal appeals court held that the right of a member of the public to carry a concealed firearm in public is not, and never has been, protected by the Second Amendment.

“Once again the 9th Circuit showed how out of touch it is with mainstream Americans. This decision will leave good people defenseless, as it completely ignores the fact that law-abiding Californians who reside in counties with hostile sheriffs will now have no means to carry a firearm outside the home for personal protection.”

— Chris W. Cox, executive director of the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action

The combined cases under review, Peruta v. San Diego and Richards v. Yolo County, were historic reversals of lower court rulings issued by the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in 2014 which found that, in both cases, California sheriffs used unconstitutional policies to limit the right to carry under the Second Amendment.

Since the rulings, the cases have been widely cited and have been the impetus to roll back overly strict may-issue permitting practices in a number of areas outside of California, but were set aside and reheard by an 11-judge panel formed for an en banc review last year.

The panel consisted of only two of the original three-judge panel that found for Peruta and Richards, Chief Judge Sidney Runyan Thomas, an appointee of President Clinton who dissented in the initial ruling, and Consuelo María Callahan, an appointment of President George W. Bush who ruled in favor of Mr. Peruta.

“The Second Amendment is not a ‘second-class’ constitutional guarantee. In the context of present-day California law, the Defendant counties’ limited licensing of the right to carry concealed firearms is tantamount to a total ban on the right of an ordinary citizen to carry a firearm in public for self-defense.”

The other nine judges are largely a mix of appointments by Democratic Presidents, with the ghosts of Clintons past appearing heavily on the panel:

  • Judge Harry Pregerson, a 1979 appointment by President Carter
  • Judge Barry G. Silverman, a 1998 appointment by President Clinton
  • Judge Susan Pia Graber, a 1998 appointment by President Clinton
  • Judge M. Margaret McKeown, a 1998 appointment by President Clinton
  • Judge William A. Fletcher, a 1998 appointment by President Clinton
  • Judge Richard Anthony Paez, a 2000 appointment by President Clinton
  • Judge Carlos Tiburcio Bea, a 2003 appointment by President George W. Bush
  • Judge Norman Randy Smith, a 2007 appointment by President George W. Bush
  • Judge John Byron Owens, a 2014 appointment by President Obama.

In the end, in an 89-page ruling handed down Thursday, the panel went with the earlier District Court rulings and set aside the 2014 gun rights victories.

“Thus, Plaintiffs’ Second Amendment rights have been violated. While states may choose between different manners of bearing arms for self-defense, the right must be accommodated.”

— Judge Callahan

“We hold that the Second Amendment does not preserve or protect a right of a member of the general public to carry concealed firearms in public,” written by Judge Fletcher for the majority.

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“The right of a member of the general public to carry a concealed firearm in public is not, and never has been, protected by the Second Amendment,” noted Fletcher before citing references to gun control laws going back to Edward I of England in 1299, moving on to Colonial America, the Civil War post-bellum period, and onto modern times.

[read the full text here, at guns.com]

“Because the Second Amendment does not protect in any degree the right to carry concealed firearms in public, any prohibition or restriction a state may choose to impose on concealed carry — including a requirement of ‘good cause,’ however defined — is necessarily allowed by the Amendment,” he wrote. Read the rest of this entry »


California Democrats: Let Felons Vote in Jail

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Will AB2466 pass in the state Senate? Hint: in 2014, three state senators — more than 10 percent of the Democratic caucus — were charged with felonies. The state Democratic Party owns Sacramento, and it’s still not enough. Democratic lawmakers must look at jail and think they hit the jackpot: a captive audience of kindred spirits. 

Debra J. Saunders reports: California lawmakers seem intent on making Sacramento the place where reasonable reforms, much like runaway trains, jump the tracks. In that no-speed-limit spirit Tuesday, the California Assembly voted 41-37 to allow convicted felons to vote in jail. (Yes, you read that correctly — in jail.) If Assembly Bill 2466 becomes law, the ACLU estimates that 50,000 adults will be able to vote behind bars. The state doesn’t trust these people on the streets, but they are welcome in the voting booth.

“If Assembly Bill 2466 becomes law, the ACLU estimates that 50,000 adults will be able to vote behind bars. The state doesn’t trust these people on the streets, but they are welcome in the voting booth.”

When individuals commit crimes that endanger public safety, they forfeit their civil rights upon conviction. The National Conference of State Legislatures notes that the concept of “civil death” goes back to the Greeks and Romans. In some states — Florida, Iowa — convicted felons are permanently disenfranchised. Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe recently made news by suspending permanent disenfranchisement by temporary order.

[Read the full story here, at SFGate]

No need for that in California. In 1976, voters amended the Constitution to end the permanent disenfranchisement of felons. The California Constitution now reads: The Legislature “shall provide for the disqualification of electors while mentally incompetent or imprisoned or on parole for the conviction of a felony.”

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With such clear language, you would think that a measure to allow felons to vote behind bars first would have to go before voters as a constitutional amendment. But voters get no say thanks to an unholy alliance of California politicians, California courts and the ACLU. In 2011, Gov. Jerry Brown signed the Realignment Act, which mandated that low-level felons serve their sentences not in state prisons, but in county jails or under county supervision. It was Brown’s clever way of alleviating state prison overcrowding by moving felons to largely overcrowded jails.

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In the county system, “it’s not called parole any more,” explained Assemblymember Melissa Melendez, R-Murrieta (Riverside County) who, like every other Republican member, voted against AB2466. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Memorial Day Morons: Americans Clueless About Holiday and Reason For It 

Many Americans are clueless about what Memorial Day means and why it is a holiday in the United States. Many think it’s just a three day weekend and an excuse to get drunk. Media analyst Mark Dice talks with beachgoers in San Diego, California about the meaning of this important holiday.


[VIDEO] The Hidden World of Campus Conservatives

It’s a lot more tolerant than the critics say it is, argues Claremont McKenna Prof. Jon Shields. Conservatives have to hide in the closet, “until they get tenure”. Then they can come out of the closet, and it’s all okay. This demonstrates, according to Shields, how tolerant the climate is on college campuses today.

 


[VIDEO] Anti-Trump Protesters Pepper Spray Children at California Rally 

Supporters and opponents of Donald Trump clash at a rally in Anaheim, California on Tuesday, with pepper spray being used against each other. Police say five people, including two little girls, were pepper sprayed by a demonstrator during the heated confrontation.

At Instapundit, Ed Driscoll writes:

Note that in the tweets from San Francisco-based KCBS and ABC News that Twitchy links to, it’s ambiguous as to who was doing the pepper-spraying. Both tweets link to an AP report that requires wading past the headline and three paragraphs before being told “At one point, an opponent unleashed a hand-held pepper-spray device on the pro-Trump crowd.” If all you read were the tweets or the headlines and ledes, you’d have no idea who was doing the pepper-spraying.


Justice Department to Apple: ‘Never Mind’

Tim Cook

The Justice Department is expected to withdraw from its legal action against Apple, as soon as today, as an outside method to bypass the locking function of a San Bernardino terrorist’s phone has proved successful, a federal law enforcement official said Monday.

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[Read the full story here, at USAToday]

The official, who is not authorized to comment publicly, said the method brought to the FBI earlier this month by an unidentified entity allows investigators to crack the security function without erasing contents of the iPhone used by Syed Farook, who with his wife, Tashfeen Malik, carried out the December mass shooting that left 14 dead.

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Monday’s withdrawal would culminate six weeks of building tensions.

The foes were poised to exchange legal body blows in a court room in Riverside, Calif., last week before the Justice Department belatedly asked for — and was granted — a postponement.

“It’s not about one phone. It’s very much about the future. You have a guy in Manhattan saying I’ve got a hundred and seventy-five phones that I want to take through this process. You’ve got other cases springing up all over the place where they want phones taken through the process. So it’s not about one phone, and they know it’s not about one phone.”

— Apple CEO Tim Cook, in an interview with Time last week.

Since a federal magistrate in California in mid-February ordered the company to assist the FBI in gaining access to San Bernardino terrorist Syed Farook’s seized iPhone, the legal filings and rhetoric between the world’s most valuable technology company and one of the largest crime-fighting organizations in the world had sharpened into verbal vitriol.

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This month, Apple said the “Founding Fathers would be appalled” because the government’s order to unlock the iPhone was based on non-existent authority asserted by the DOJ. Read the rest of this entry »


BLUNT FORCE: Medical Report Reveals Putin Spokesman Mikhail Lesin’s Head Bashed In

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‘It was just a little tap on the head, nothing serious’. 

A former spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin who co-founded the Kremlin-backed news outlet RT died in a Washington hotel room of blunt force trauma to the head in November, according the office of D.C.’s medical examiner.

The Thursday revelation runs counter to previous reports that Mikhail Lesin‘s November death was due to a heart attack, reigniting accusations that foul play may have been involved.

[Also see – Palace Intrigue: Putin’s Aide Mikhail Lesin Found Dead]

A joint statement from the Washington Office of the Chief Medical Examiner and the Metropolitan Police Department claimed that Lesin, 59, also suffered “blunt force injuries of the neck, torso, upper extremities and lower extremities,” which contributed to his death. Read the rest of this entry »