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Israel's Eurovision webcast hacked as protests continue
« Reply #12720 on: May 15, 2019, 04:43:27 AM »
Public broadcaster Kan blames Hamas after its online coverage of semi-finals cuts to animated blast images in Tel Aviv.

Israel's webcast of the Eurovision Song Contest was hacked with animated images of explosions in the host city, Tel Aviv, amid growing calls by pro-Palestinian activists to boycott the event.

After the 41-country competition kicked off in the coastal city on Tuesday with a first semi-final, national broadcaster Kan's webcast cut to animated satellite footage showing explosions in Tel Aviv set to a menacing soundtrack.

The hacking of Kan's website did not affect the regular television relay of the show on Tuesday night in Israel or abroad.

Kan played down the incident, noting that the evening ended without any other incident as Greece, Belarus, Serbia, Cyprus, Estonia, Czech Republic, Australia, Iceland, San Marino and Slovenia made it through to Saturday's finals.

"We know that at a certain stage there was an attempt, apparently by Hamas, to commandeer our digital broadcast," Kan CEO Eldad Koblenz told Israel's Army Radio.

"But I am happy to say that within a few minutes we managed to assume control over this phenomenon."

Hamas, a Palestinian group that controls the Gaza Strip, had no immediate comment.

Earlier this month, Israel pounded the Gaza Strip with air raids, artillery and gunboat shooting as armed factions in Gaza fired hundreds of rockets at towns and settlements in southern Israel.

At least 25 Palestinians and four Israelis were killed before a ceasefire agreement was signed between Gaza and Israel.
Calls for boycott

Israel is hosting the Eurovision contest after local singer Netta Barzilai won last year. The winning country customarily hosts the following year.

Palestinians and their foreign supporters have called on, so far fruitlessly, countries to shun the Tel Aviv songfest as part of wider efforts to isolate Israel internationally.

Many boycott calls have targeted Madonna, who arrived in Israel on Tuesday, in the run-up to the American pop star's guest performance at the Eurovision final. The second semi-final is on Thursday.

Rebuffing the pressure, Madonna said she would "never stop playing music to suit someone's political agenda".

On Tuesday, hundreds of protesters marched in Tel Aviv before the first semi-finals.

Al Jazeera's Harry Fawcett, reporting from the rally, said: "For the activists here, it [the protest] coincides with the first anniversary of the moving of the US embassy to Jerusalem and the border protest that took place in Gaza on the same day when more than 60 Palestinians were killed by Israeli sniper fire."

"The protesters are concerned that whole of Israel needs to be seen as an occupying force and it should be boycotted in its entirety," he added.

Israel has been accused of building settlements on occupied Palestinian lands that are considered illegal under international law.

According to official data obtained by the AP news agency, Israel's government went on a spending spree in its occupied West Bank settlements following the election of President Donald Trump.

The government statistics, released by Israel's finance ministry, showed Israeli spending in the West Bank in 2017, Trump's first year in office, rose to about $459m, from about $330m in 2016.

Israel's government has tried to clamp down on opposition by launching a PR campaign using Google Ads which refers to the words "boycott" and "Eurovision", but leads to a glossy website extolling Israel as "Beautiful, Diverse, Sensational" - in a play on the BDS initials for the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement.

The BDS - modelled after the South African anti-apartheid movement - was formed in 2005 by more than 200 Palestinian civil society organisations, urging non-violent pressure on Israel until it complies with international law.

Demonstrators have vowed to continue their protests throughout the week's event.

"It's an opportunity for propaganda and to market Israel as this cool, hip, multi-cultural European place, but actually it's an apartheid state and hosting it here is a political decision to overwrite the rights of the Palestinians," Shahaf Weisbein, the project coordinator for the Coalition of Women for Peace, told Al Jazeera.

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/05/israel-eurovision-webcast-hacked-protests-continue-190515083827393.html
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The Alabama State Senate just passed a near-total abortion ban in a 25 to 6 vote. The legislation provides no exceptions for rape or incest.

The bill now heads to Governor Kay Ivey, a Republican. If she signs it, the bill will become law. Up until Tuesday she has withheld public comment on the legislation.

The legislation -- House Bill 314, "Human Life Protection Act" -- bans all abortions in the state except when "abortion is necessary in order to prevent a serious health risk" to the woman, according to the bill's text. It criminalizes the procedure, reclassifying abortion as a Class A felony, punishable by up to 99 years in prison for doctors.

"It's a sad day in Alabama," said Senate Minority Leader Bobby Singleton in the debate leading up to the vote. "You just said to my daughter, you don't matter, you don't matter in the state of Alabama."

After the bill passed, Lieutenant Governor Will Ainsworth voiced his support for the measure.

"With liberal states approving radical late-term and post-birth abortions, Roe must be challenged, and I am proud that Alabama is leading the way," Ainsworth tweeted on Tuesday night.

Alabama's ban is the latest in an onslaught of state-level anti-abortion measures that activists hope will be taken up by the Supreme Court and potentially overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that protects a woman's right to the procedure. Last week, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signed into law the state's so-called "fetal heartbeat" bill, a measure that will prohibit abortions after a heartbeat is detected in an embryo, which is typically five to six weeks into a pregnancy, and before most women know that they're pregnant. The state was the sixth to pass such a law, and the fourth this year alone.

Abortion rights advocates have promised to challenge Alabama's controversial legislation if Ivey signs the bill into law.

"We will not stand by while politicians endanger the lives of women and doctors for political gain," wrote Alexa Kolbi-Molinas, a senior staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union's Reproductive Freedom Project, in an email to CBS News following the vote. "Know this, Governor Ivey: If you sign this dangerous bill into law, we will see you in Court"

But the bill's sponsor, Representative Terri Collins, said that's the point. The state lawmaker called the bill a "direct attack" on Roe v. Wade and anticipates that the bill will be contested by abortion rights advocates, like the ACLU, and potentially make its way to the high court.

"The heart of this bill is to confront a decision that was made by the courts in 1973 that said the baby in the womb is not a person," Collins said last week when the Alabama House debated the legislation. "This bill addresses that one issue. Is that baby in the womb a person? I believe our law says it is."

The legislation will take effect six months after Ivey gives the bill her signature.

Alabama state lawmakers also compare abortions in the U.S. to the Holocaust and other modern genocides in the legislation, prompting Jewish activists and abortion rights groups to rebuke the legislation as "deeply offensive."

Singleton proposed an amendment that would have carved out an exception for victims of rape and incest. During debate he introduced three women who were victims of rape and told his colleagues, "They didn't ask for what they got. It happened. And now they're having to live with it."

The amendment ultimately failed, with 21 Senators voting against the rape and victim exception and 11 voting in favor of it.

Republican Senator Clyde Chambliss argued that the ban was still fair to victims of rape and incest because those women would still be allowed to get an abortion "until she knows she's pregnant," a statement that garnered a mixture of groans and cackles from the chamber's gallery.

"In a state that has some of the worst health outcomes for women in the nation-such as the highest rate of cervical cancer -- Alabama is putting women's lives at an even greater risk," said Dr. Leana Wen, President of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, in an statement emailed to CBS News on Tuesday night. "Politicians who say they value life should advocate for policies to solve the public health crises that are killing women, not dismantle what little access to health care Alabamians have left."

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/alabama-abortion-law-passed-alabama-passes-near-total-abortion-ban-with-no-exceptions-for-rape-or-incest-2019-05-14/?&ampcf=1
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Syria – the cards are shuffled again
« Reply #12722 on: May 15, 2019, 05:00:08 AM »


The leader of the ISIS would have ordered to reduce the charges and evolve towards agile operations, such as “hit and run” and terrorist attacks.

Up to now the information tension on the events in Syria has been maintained, because the news was moving at the tactical and operational level, concrete things that can be told. There was a common enemy, the Daesh (Arabic acronym to refer to Islamic State or ISIS in its English acronym) whose defeat was desired by all forces. But what will happen after the “total” defeat announced by Donald Trump, on March 23?

It must be remembered that ISIS is still present and active in Syria, after the conquest of its last bastions, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) had to take over more than 55,000 women and children and transfer them to the camp. Al Hawl.

Al Baghdadi would have ordered this movement as part of its new strategy: to reduce the burdens and evolve towards agile operations, such as “hit and run” and terrorist attacks.

The main actors (United States, Russia, Iran, Turkey …) have not changed, but their positions, alliances and strategies have changed.

With the “defeat” of Daesh, the common enemy, a new phase in this conflict begins: more (geo) political and strategic, and less operational. It is no longer the moment of decisive battles but of positions, influences and lines of action, which will delimit the real results of it.

Today, the actions take place in three areas: Deraa, the province of Idlib and the southeast of the Euphrates. Deraa is controlled by the old opposition, now has reconciled with the Government, but with dissidence and complex relations with officials. But it is a problem that can be managed with Russian support.

In Idlib, the main actor is the group Hayat Tahrir al Sham, linked to Al Qaeda. Conquering the Idlib enclave is the main objective for government forces, supported by Russia and Iran, but Idlib borders Turkey’s area of ​​influence (perhaps more). Idlib is also in contact with an enclave of the Syrian Democratic Forces, pro-American and supported by the Kurds.

Here the new alliances play a major role: Putin wants to expel the United States from the Syrian scenario, and Erdogan, a traditional ally of the United States, wants to wrest the Kurds, American allies, from their area of ​​influence. The concurrent interests have allowed a cooperation that only a few decades ago would be considered as a non-nature. The next operations will foreseeably occur in this area, and not much later.

The last scenario is that of the Euphrates, essentially geopolitical, as it is an area with important resources. The opposing forces are the government forces, supported by Iran and Russia, to the west of the river, and the Syrian Democratic Forces, supported by the US, to the east of it.

If the government forces managed to control Idlib, the next step to recover an eventual total control would be to cross the Euphrates in economically more profitable areas. The competition between the areas of interest of the United States and Russia in this scenario is manifest, and the maintenance of the North American presence is essential. An ill-considered decision by President Trump could facilitate Putin’s goals, and indirectly Erdogan’s weakening of Kurdish positions.

The main objective of Putin’s new geopolitics in the Middle East is to recover the former areas of influence of the former Soviet Union, and Syria is a key element in achieving this goal. The United States, suffering from its various syndromes, (Vietnam, Somalia, Iraq …), has decided to leave the region of the Middle East to its fate. First Obama opted for a “Pivot Strategy to the Pacific”, which terrorized its partners in the area, and with Donald Trump came uncertainty.
The enemies of my enemies are my freinds

The cards have been reshuffled and Bashar the Assad is targeted as the winner of this second game, thanks to Russia and Iran –with or without the support of the Lebanese Hezbollah militia. Turkey will maintain (and control) its zone of influence, while punishing its traditional enemies, the Kurds.

And the USA? Everything happened “while you were sleeping”. A total abandonment would be dramatic for its partners in the area.

https://nytize.com/world/syria-the-cards-are-shuffled-again
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The Latest: Germany suspends training of Iraqi troops
« Reply #12723 on: May 15, 2019, 05:04:58 AM »
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The Latest on developments in the Persian Gulf region and elsewhere in Mideast amid heightened tensions between the U.S. and Iran (all times local):

3:35 p.m.

The German government says the country’s military has suspended training of Iraqi soldiers due to tensions in the region between the U.S. and Iran but has no indication of any specific threat to its own troops.

The announcement came shortly after the U.S. State Department on Wednesday ordered all non-essential government staff to leave Iraq right away amid escalating tensions with Iran.

German Defense Ministry spokesman Jens Flosdorff says that Germany is “orienting itself toward our partner countries, which have taken this step.”

But he stressed that “there is no concrete threat” and the decision is down to the security situation in general being viewed as more tense.

Germany currently has about 160 German soldiers in Iraq as part of the fight against the Islamic State group, about 60 of them at a base north of Baghdad where Iraqi forces are being trained.

Flosdorff said that training could in principle resume within days.

___

2:20 p.m.

The Kremlin’s spokesman says U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo didn’t offer President Vladimir Putin any reassurances or ease Moscow’s concerns over the ongoing crisis between the United States and Iran.

Pompeo met with Putin on Tuesday in Russia’s resort of Sochi where he sought to alleviate some of the concerns about the spiraling tensions but made clear the U.S. would respond to any attacks on American targets.

Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Wednesday that Moscow is concerned over mounting tensions and defended Iran’s actions as a legitimate response to the U.S. decision to withdraw from the 2015 nuclear deal.

Iran has given European countries a 60-day deadline to negotiate a new nuclear deal Tehran or it would start enriching uranium to higher levels than outlined in the current agreement.

—This item has been corrected to show that Pompeo and Putin met on Tuesday, not Monday;

___

12: 15 p.m.

The U.S. Embassy in Iraq says the State Department has ordered all non-essential, non-emergency government staff to leave the country right away amid escalating tensions with Iran.

The alert, published on the embassy’s website on Wednesday, comes after Washington last week said it had detected new and urgent threats from Iran and its proxy forces in the region targeting Americans and American interests.

On Sunday, the embassy advised Americans to avoid travel to Iraq, citing “heightened tensions.”

___

10:30 a.m.

Iran’s supreme leader claims that enriching uranium to weapons-grade levels would not be a difficult task for the country — the latest threats from Tehran as tensions roil the region amid the unraveling of the nuclear deal.

State-owned IRAN daily quoted Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as telling a group of officials during a meeting on Tuesday night that “achieving 20 percent enrichment is the most difficult part. The next steps are easier than this step.”

Iran recently threatened to resume higher enrichment in 60 days if no new nuclear deal is in place, beyond the 3.67% permitted by the current deal between Tehran and world powers. The Trump administration pulled America out of the deal last year.

Iranian officials have said that they could reach 20% enrichment within four days. Though Iran maintains its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, scientists say the time needed to reach the 90% threshold for weapons-grade uranium is halved once uranium is enriched to around 20%.

___

10:10 a.m.

A satellite image obtained by The Associated Press shows one of the two pumping stations attacked by drones in Saudi Arabia apparently intact.

The image from San Francisco-based Planet Labs Inc. that the AP examined on Wednesday shows Saudi Aramco’s Pumping Station No. 8 outside of the town of al-Duadmi. It’s 330 kilometers, or 205 miles, west of the capital, Riyadh.

The photo, taken Tuesday after the attack claimed by Yemen’s Houthi rebels, shows two black marks near where Saudi Arabia’s East-West Pipeline passes by the facility. Those marks weren’t there in images taken Monday.

The facility otherwise appears intact.

The attack came as regional tensions flared, just days after what the kingdom called an attack on two of its oil tankers off the coast of the United Arab Emirates.

https://www.apnews.com/c61546f081e842f6b5d944ed20a204bc
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The Global Economy Was Improving. Then the Fighting Resumed.
« Reply #12724 on: May 15, 2019, 05:12:22 AM »

The Port of Tacoma, in Tacoma, Wash. The biggest threat to global fortunes has become the intensifying conflict between the two largest economies on earth, the United States and China.

LONDON — In ordinary times, worries about the health of the global economy tend to prompt leaders of the largest countries to join forces in pursuit of safety.

These are not ordinary times.

The biggest threat to global fortunes has become the intensifying conflict between the two largest economies on earth, the United States and China. As their leaders openly contemplate how to inflict pain on each other, the rest of the world now frets about becoming collateral damage in an escalating trade war.

Only a week ago, China and the United States appeared to be moving toward cooling their hostilities, while global economic prospects were improving. Worries about a worldwide slowdown were giving way to burnished hopes for expansion.

Fears about the weakening of China’s economy were easing as President Trump advertised a soon-to-be-signed trade deal. That lifted the outlook for Asian economies dependent on global commerce like Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. Europe, a perpetual source of concern, was flashing signs of renewal. Defying skeptics, the American economy remained on a tear.

But late last week, as Mr. Trump sharply increased tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods, the world found itself grappling with the likelihood that the trade war will cost treasure. The concern mounted on Monday as Beijing retaliated and the Trump administration detailed plans to slap 25 percent tariffs on virtually all goods that China sends to the United States.

For businesses and consumers alike, it all raised the prospect that they would soon be paying higher prices for goods, a reality that discourages commerce.

“An escalation scenario would be terrible all around,” said Gabriel Sterne, head of global macro research at Oxford Economics in London. “A negative impact on trade flow is going to be bad for global growth for several years. It’s bad news for almost everybody.”

If both sides follow through on their threatened tariffs, China’s annual economic output will be reduced by 0.8 percent while the United States will see its annual growth reduced by 0.3 percent, according to Oxford Economics.

Those numbers are small in the grand scheme of things, but the pain could be felt acutely within industries that are especially exposed to the trade war, such as American agriculture and Chinese electronics manufacturers.

The harm could be especially severe for countries that are most dependent on trade, including Singapore, Malaysia, Mexico and Japan.

At the center of trouble sits China, the world’s most populous country. Its breakneck development over recent decades has added hundreds of millions of consumers to the global marketplace while supplying a vast assemblage of low-cost goods.

Given that China is the source of roughly one-third of the world’s economic growth, any disruption to its trade amounts to a global event.

Mr. Trump has designed his tariffs to wound China as he seeks to pressure its leaders to agree to cease subsidizing state-owned companies, stop demanding intellectual property from American businesses and open its markets to foreign competitors. Until last week, the president was insisting that a trade deal with China was imminent. Then, he abruptly accused China of reneging on its commitments and opted to increase tariffs.

The sharp escalation comes at an especially fraught time for the world economy, jeopardizing what had seemed to be a stabilizing, if gradually slowing Chinese economy.

Volumes of freight imported by China surged in April, according to an analysis of data by UBS, the global investment bank. Worldwide, airfreight was up in March compared with a year earlier, according to the International Air Transport Association.
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But these trends are fragile. Airfreight has declined nearly 4 percent since its peak in 2017. Outside China, manufacturing in Asia has been slowing for much of the last two years. A trade war between the United States and China — two countries that collectively account for roughly 40 percent of world economic output — would almost certainly aggravate the situation.

Exports to China from Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, Thailand and Vietnam have plunged by about 14 percent over the past year, or about $6.3 billion, according to analysis from Oxford Economics.

Those same countries have lifted their exports to the United States by a similar percentage. But the United States is a less important trading partner, and the increase amounts to less than $2 billion.

In Europe, the trade war presents another unwanted source of concern at a time of tenuous progress.

Concerns that Britain’s unruly departure from the European Union would damage trade across the continent had abated — at least in the immediate term — as London and Brussels agreed to extend their fractious divorce proceedings until the end of October.

Germany, the Continent’s largest economy, had been moderating fears of weakness, with data showing an increase in factory orders and exports. Germany’s exports to China were up by more than 5 percent in March compared with a year earlier.

But much of what Germany sends China amounts to the piece parts of China’s industrial apparatus — car parts, engines, electrical machinery and other gear folded into factory operations. If Chinese factory operations slow in the face of American tariffs, China’s appetite for German goods will most likely wane.

In Italy and France, industrial activity has been weakening in recent months.

“For Europe, it’s happening at a very delicate point in time,” said Kjersti Haugland, chief economist at DNB Markets, an investment bank in Norway. “You have growth being very feeble again.”

The trade war has already spooked global stock markets, prompting plunges in share prices that slightly reversed on Tuesday.

If investor fear deepens, money will almost certainly flow into the ultimate safe haven, the American dollar. That would most likely be accompanied by money leaving so-called emerging markets, exacerbating crises in Argentina and Turkey, while bringing down the value of currencies more broadly, from Brazil to South Africa to India.

Falling currencies make imported goods more expensive in those countries, forcing poor people to pay more for food, fuel and transportation.

After rising early this year, currencies and stock prices across emerging markets have dipped precipitously in recent weeks.

The key question now is how long trade hostilities will endure.

It is a question with no clear answer.

Mr. Trump appears to be taking resolve from a strong American economy as he declares a willingness to absorb the strains of a drawn-out battle with China. The unemployment rate sits at 3.6 percent, its lowest level in half a century. The economy expanded at a 3.2 percent annual clip during the first three months of the year.

Mr. Trump has declared that the United States can win a trade war if it stays the course. Yet he has also used Twitter to complain that the Federal Reserve is not cutting interest rates while China’s leaders stimulate their economy with injections of credit.

Perhaps that represents his lobbying for lower rates. It can also be read as an admission that Mr. Trump lacks — and covets — tools possessed by his adversaries in Beijing, who enjoy domination of the levers of policy.

Mr. Trump’s strategy appears to be stoking nationalist anger in China, where the Communist Party government leans heavily on such sentiments for propaganda purposes. That could harden China’s willingness to hold its position, as its leaders fear the consequences of gratifying an attack from the American leader.

It is not a recipe for expanded global trade, which grew by about 4 percent in 2017, then slowed to 2 percent last year and may contract this year.

“Once growth in trade volumes turns negative, it makes us all have to take a closer look at some sort of recession scenario,” said Marie Owens Thomsen, global chief economist at Indosuez Wealth Management in Geneva. “Things are looking more disconcerting for sure. The downside risks are increasing.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/15/business/us-china-trade-war-economy.html

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Fox Pundit 'Stunned' Trump Is So 'Scrupulous' Following Laws, Unlike Obama
« Reply #12725 on: May 15, 2019, 05:32:29 AM »
Fox News “constitutional expert” Dr. John Eastman recently opined that Dear Leader has been a model of legally upstanding behavior, which he views as so different from President Obama.

While the rest of us marvel at Trump’s contempt for the rule of law and Constitution, a Fox News “constitutional expert” recently opined that Dear Leader has been a model of legally upstanding behavior.

"Constitutional scholar" Dr. John C. Eastman visited Fox's Life, Liberty & Levin show Sunday night. The only law-breaking Eastman or host Mark Levin saw anywhere was on behalf of Democrats and the Russia investigation. Rather than concern themselves with a foreign country’s “sweeping and systemic” on our election, these two Trump worshipers echoed Sen. Lindsey Graham and Fox host Maria Bartiromo in acting as though Democrats, the media and Trump non-loyalists are the only enemies worthy of their attention:

LEVIN: The entire [Russia investigation] was fundamentally illegal, wasn't it?

EASTMAN: Well it was.

[…]

LEVIN: Dr. John Eastman, you're a constitutional expert. This is really a rejection by the Democratic Party and the media and the rest of them, rejection of the 2016 election, isn't it?

EASTMAN: I think so. They still can't believe that they lost that election and they're trying to rationalize that there must've been something nefarious in order to produce it...

Sadly, that’s the kind of talk we’re used to on Fox News. But I can’t recall anyone gushing over Trump’s respect for the law. Even Levin didn’t go there. But Eastman did. The exchange came near the end of the show, when the two discussed the grounds for impeachment:
EASTMAN: Well, you know, treason, bribery and other high crimes and misdemeanors had a very specific understanding. High crimes and misdemeanors were not the ordinary crime, high crimes and misdemeanors was a term of art of fundamental abuse of the office that would undermine the legitimacy of government itself. Those were the kind of things that we're talking about.

They [the framers of the Constitution] did not want a King who was above the law, who could do whatever he wanted.

LEVIN: Has that happened here?

EASTMAN: Well, no, I mean, I've been stunned at how scrupulous Trump and his team have been in staying within the legal line that they had.

They could have it otherwise. His immediate predecessor, you know, blew through the lines on executive power and constitutional authority on numerous occasions and they could have said, we are going to take what Obama did as precedent and we're going to do the same thing in the other direction, but they haven't done that.

https://crooksandliars.com/2019/05/fox-pundit-stunned-trump-so-scrupulous
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Re: The Global Economy Was Improving. Then the Fighting Resumed.
« Reply #12726 on: May 15, 2019, 05:57:46 AM »

The biggest threat to global fortunes has become the intensifying conflict between the two largest economies on earth, the United States and China. As their leaders openly contemplate how to inflict pain on each other, the rest of the world now frets about becoming collateral damage in an escalating trade war.

Only a week ago, China and the United States appeared to be moving toward cooling their hostilities, while global economic prospects were improving. Worries about a worldwide slowdown were giving way to burnished hopes for expansion.


This put me in mind of a meme I recently saw:

"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

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Driverless electric truck starts deliveries on Swedish public road
« Reply #12727 on: May 15, 2019, 05:04:08 PM »
JONKOPING, Sweden (Reuters) - Resembling the helmet of a Star Wars stormtrooper, a driverless electric truck began daily freight deliveries on a public road in Sweden on Wednesday, in what developer Einride and logistics customer DB Schenker described as a world first.

JONKOPING, Sweden (Reuters) - Resembling the helmet of a Star Wars stormtrooper, a driverless electric truck began daily freight deliveries on a public road in Sweden on Wednesday, in what developer Einride and logistics customer DB Schenker described as a world first.

Robert Falck, the CEO of Swedish start-up Einride, said the company was in partnership talks with major suppliers to help scale production and deliver orders, and the firm did not rule out future tie-ups with large truckmakers.

“This public road permit is a major milestone ... and it is a step to commercializing autonomous technology on roads,” the former Volvo executive told Reuters.

“Since we’re a software and operational first company, a partnership with a manufacturing company is something that we see as a core moving forward,” he said, adding he hoped to seal a deal by next year.

Falck said Einride, whose investors include ex-Daimler Asia trucks head Marc Llistosella, is also courting investors for an ongoing Series A fundraising, often a company’s first sizable one. It previously raised $10 million.

Auto alliances are on the rise to share the cost of electric and autonomous technology. Ford has vowed to invest $500 million in U.S. electric utility truck startup Rivian.

Einride’s T-Pod is 26 tonnes when full and does not have a driver cabin, which it estimates reduces road freight operating costs by around 60 percent versus a diesel truck with a driver.

Besides Schenker, Einride has orders from German grocer Lidl, Swedish delivery company Svenska Retursystem and five Fortune 500 retail companies, underpinning its ambition to have 200 vehicles in operation by the end of 2020.

Freight operators are under pressure to reduce delivery times, cut emissions and face a growing shortage of drivers.

Schenker picked Einride over established truckmakers as the T-Pod straddles the two biggest sector transformations: digitization and electrification, CEO Jochen Thewes said.

“We believe that Einride is the best concept out there for now,” he said.

The T-Pod is level 4 autonomous, the second highest category, and uses a Nvidia Drive platform to process visual data in real time. An operator, sitting miles away, can supervise and control up to 10 vehicles at once.

Thewes said the rollout of 5G technology, vital for electrification, was lagging. For Schenker’s pilot with Einride, Ericsson and Telia had to construct two new towers.

The T-Pod has permission to make short trips - between a warehouse and a terminal - on a public road in an industrial area in Jonkoping, central Sweden, at up to 5 km/hr, documents from the transport authority show.

Falck said Einride would apply next year for more public route permits and was planning to expand in the United States.

“Ground zero for autonomous vehicles is the United States. I think it will be the first market to scale when it comes to autonomous vehicles,” he said.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-einride-autonomous-sweden/driverless-electric-truck-starts-deliveries-on-swedish-public-road-idUSKCN1SL0NC?utm_source=reddit.com
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The spacecraft are the first in a constellation that will number in the thousands.



SpaceX is lofting a pioneering phalanx of internet satellites tonight (May 15), and you can watch the liftoff live.

A two-stage Falcon 9 rocket carrying the first 60 spacecraft in SpaceX's "Starlink" megaconstellation is scheduled to launch tonight at 10:30 p.m. EDT (0230 GMT on May 16) from Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Watch it live here at Space.com courtesy of SpaceX, or directly via the spaceflight company.

The 60 tightly packed satellites nearly fill the Falcon 9's payload fairing, as SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk showed in a photo posted on Twitter over the weekend. That same post included an image of Musk's Tesla Roadster looking tiny inside its fairing ahead of its launch on the first test flight of SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket back in February 2018. (The Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy use fairings of the same size.)

Two weeks after that Falcon Heavy mission, SpaceX lofted two Starlink prototypes, dubbed Tintin A and Tintin B, as secondary payloads on a Falcon 9 flight. But the spacecraft going up tonight are "production-design" satellites, Musk said.

Tonight's launch will be just the beginning for Starlink, if all goes according to plan. SpaceX aims to launch up to 12,000 satellites for the constellation, which is designed to deliver cheap internet access to people around the world.

Six additional launches of 60-satellite payloads will be required to provide "minor" coverage, and "moderate" coverage will be achieved by launching six more after that, Musk said in another tweet.

SpaceX isn't the only company with internet-satellite dreams. For example, both OneWeb and Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin plan to start building up megaconstellations of their own in the coming months and years.

https://www.space.com/spacex-starlink-megaconstellation-launch-webcast.html
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Waters Near Arctic Ocean Just Jumped 30 Degrees Above Normal
« Reply #12729 on: May 15, 2019, 05:22:32 PM »
“I feel like we’re doing this huge experiment to our climate system.”

An area just below the Arctic Ocean rose to 84 degrees Fahrenheit in recent days, a staggering 30 degrees higher than the average temperature for this time of the year, according to the Washington Post.

Although the jump is likely due to an isolated weather event, the frequency of regional heat waves has risen in recent decades, which indicates the long-term effects of climate change.

“Usually when you have a somewhat isolated hot spot, it’s going to be related to an atmospheric weather pattern,” Mark Serreze, director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), told Global Citizen. “You have a storm coming in and it’s drawing a lot of warm air into the region.

“But what we’ve been seeing is more of these sorts of heatwaves up there, especially extreme winter heat waves over the Arctic Ocean,” he added. “The point is the Arctic is just getting warmer and warmer and it’s not something theoretical, this is just what the data is showing.”

In many ways, the Arctic is the world’s warning system when it comes to climate change, said Serreze. The polar regions are especially prone to global warming because of powerful feedback loops that occur. As Arctic sea ice melts from higher temperatures, it exposes darker water that absorbs more heat from the sun, causing more warming.

Because of this dynamic, temperatures in the Arctic are warming twice as fast as the global average.

“Extreme heat or cold are more related to weather phenomena rather than long term anthropogenic forces,” said Julienne Stroeve, senior researcher at the NSIDC. “This heat wave is definitely an extreme event, but it’s the long-term warming trend that we’re really worried about.”

The Arctic has already lost 95% of the its oldest ice and daily ice levels were at their lowest levels in recorded history throughout April. Between 1970 and 2015, Arctic ice has nearly halved.

Over the course of April, overall water temperatures in the Arctic ranged from 5 degrees to 14 degrees Fahrenheit above normal, with a few notable exceptions.

As the polar region warms, ice melt is accelerating, endangering entire ecosystems and disrupting climatic systems in ways that threaten the entire planet.

“I feel like we’re doing this huge experiment to our climate system and we don’t fully know the consequences,” Stroeve said. “We run climate models to determine how quickly it’s going to change, but we don’t have another planet to experiment on.”

https://www.globalcitizen.org/en/content/arctic-ocean-heat-wave/
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What the Fifth Industrial Revolution is and why it matters
« Reply #12730 on: May 15, 2019, 05:41:42 PM »


Nobel Laureate and former US Vice President Al Gore posed a piercing question to us at the Nobel Peace Prize Forum in Oslo.

"Will our children ask us why we didn't act?", he asked.

"Or will they ask us how we found the courage and rallied the resources to rise up and change?"

Gore is focused on the looming global climate crisis, and is frustrated about the world's neglect of a catastrophic problem. But a still larger - and related - issue is illustrated by the march of successive industrial revolutions that the modern world has witnessed. Each has intensified the risks of dehumanizing economic progress, to the point that we now face an existential threat in both environmental and humanitarian terms.

The advance of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (robotics, artificial intelligence, augmented reality, virtual reality and the like) has produced a developing scenario in which the service of humanity seems too often eclipsed by the momentum of technology and commerce. This challenge has been highlighted recently, as some of the leading innovators of the Fourth Industrial Revolution have begun to relinquish their intellectual property because of the risks to them as the owners of it. These captains of the Fourth Revolution surmise that the new technologies have the capacity to be an Orwellian "enemy of the people". Meanwhile, our economic engines continue to roar and belch proverbial smoke into the air, as the world's population grows and the ideals of human flourishing are left wanting.

Indeed, in many ways we are unprepared to meet the challenges ahead. According to The Future of Jobs Report 2016, 65% of children entering education today will end up in careers that don't yet exist, and much of this will be attributable to the rapid advancements of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. However, there are now five “beacons of hope”.

1. Profit with purpose

First, there has been an unprecedented connection of business to purpose. In an ironic way, at the moment that capitalism is more derided than ever in many circles, business is emerging as the world’s most powerful and active force for doing good. Consumers are demanding it, and many businesses are responding, with sustainability-minded brands winning market share.

2. 5IR

This is the driving factor in the second beacon, which is the rise of the Fifth Industrial Revolution. In contrast to trends in the Fourth Revolution toward dehumanization, technology and innovation best practices are being bent back toward the service of humanity by the champions of the Fifth.



Forbes contributor Lawrence Wintermeyer highlighted this recently, with reference to the impact of the Fourth Industrial Revolution on the fintech markets.

"Most of the conferences I attend focus on ‘the next big tech thing’ and what it can do", Wintermeyer observed, “often to the exclusion of the utility and impact the technology will have on society."

"I am most often asked what the next ‘smart money’ tech trend is in fintech. I am now happy to report it is not blockchain, bitcoin, or AI. It is humanity."

In the Fifth Industrial Revolution, humans and machines will dance together, metaphorically. At Davos 2019, an event sponsored by Forbes, MIT and Tata had the theme “Blockchain+AI+Human = Magic”. This equation seems impossible to some, but it can, and will, prove true. AI will help increase human labour productivity. Blockchain will help give access to banking (and intangible forms of capital) to the unbanked. Robots will help humans align returns on investment (ROI) with purpose. But it will require intentionality and moral clarity.





3. Targets for progress

The third beacon of hope is the increasing prominence of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs provide history’s first universal matrix for achieving a flourishing future. Adopted by the heads of governments from 193 UN member states, the SDG framework addresses the key physical facets of life in our global village - social, environmental and economic.





According to United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)'s World Investment Report 2014, an estimated annual investment of $3.9 trillion is required to achieve the SDGs. Currently, there is an estimated $2.5 trillion annual gap. But businesses are rallying. This is evident in advancing public-private partnerships (PPPs) that are gaining momentum as a model for sustainable impact initiatives. Helpful frameworks for leadership are being widely adopted by various sectors, such as this one in the impact investing community:

One apparent way to fund the gap is by targeting private capital in a manner that requires businesses to be SDG-aligned. Larry Fink, CEO of investment community leader Blackrock, wrote an open letter to CEOs that sets the standard in this regard.

"Purpose is not the sole pursuit of profits but the animating force for achieving them", he wrote. "Profits are in no way inconsistent with purpose - in fact, profits and purpose are inextricably linked."

Beyond investing, businesses will need to think outside of the box to engage more than $2 trillion in brand marketing budgets to help advance the common good. One example of this gaining global attention is Fifth Element Group’s Good Exchange model. A Good Exchange is a marketing framework by which a brand engages its consumers with content activation that unlocks a donation to a cause that matters to both the brand and the consumer. The consumers become the media beacons for brand and cause-connected content, so that a growing portion of brand funds can flow to cause, rather than to media intermediaries.

Companies like Fifth Element are creating traffic on the bridge between key performance indicators (KPIs) and SDG-aligned social impact. These “omniwin” models, when supported by clear and compelling case study data, are changing the traditional marketing mix at many companies, and producing PPP opportunities.

4. Closing the gender gap

The fourth beacon sits at the centre of the SDG framework as the fulcrum to lifting all the others. SDG5 is about the empowerment of women and girls worldwide. There is no hope for achieving the SDGs unless SDG5 is central to the agenda. If women and girls are empowered to lead campaigns for human flourishing, all the other SDGs will rise.



Open platform movements such as the SDG5 Global Alliance have been created to promote aspirational examples of women who are leading the way in getting things done. The Fifth Industrial Revolution must include the strategic voice of women in leadership. Businesses, through best practices in hiring and development and other kinds of support, will be essential facilitators.

5. Scaling and spreading

The fifth beacon of hope is that these kinds of cross-sector, SDG-aligned movements are going global and becoming increasingly democratized. SDG-aligned leadership is emerging in countries such as India, which is experiencing an historically unprecedented demographic dividend of young people with a keen desire for a better world.

Forward-thinking companies are taking note. Tech leader IBM, for example, is recruiting 200,000 girls into STEM learning programmes in India to help change the gender imbalance in the tech sector. Tata Trusts, the philanthropic arm of the Tata conglomerate, is spearheading solutions to the country's water and sanitation crisis through PPPs.

New platforms are reflecting the democratized nature of the push toward the SDGs. The People’s Prize, for example, was recently announced at the Skoll World Forum in Oxford. It’s a new series of SDG-focused social entrepreneurship prizes offering hundreds of thousands of dollars to incentivize innovation teams that demonstrate to people around the world why their project should be funded to scale. Like other crowdfunding platforms, this is just one of several prizes that are moving beyond “black box” judging panels, shifting decision-making instead to an emerging class of micro-donors. It’s an encouraging and important trend.



At Fifth Element Group, we work to help businesses move from a “for-profit” to a “for-benefit” operating model. Collectively, our stakeholders are our shareholders, but our stakeholders are also our employees, our customers and more broadly the people and planet impacted by our work.

The challenges are clear. But so is the opportunity. We can create a new socio-economic era that closes historic gaps in last mile inclusion and engages the “bottom billion” in creating quantum leaps for humanity, and for a better planet.

The world needs a Fifth Industrial Revolution to flower like a new Renaissance Age. It will be marked by creativity and common purpose, as we together work to bend progress and profits toward purpose and inclusivity. Are you a part of it?

https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2019/05/what-the-fifth-industrial-revolution-is-and-why-it-matters/
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What America’s gun fanatics won’t tell you
« Reply #12731 on: May 15, 2019, 05:48:36 PM »
The Second Amendment doesn’t give you the right to own a gun

Can we please stop pretending that the Second Amendment contains an unfettered right for everyone to buy a gun? It doesn’t, and it never has. The claims made by the small number of extremists, before and after the Orlando, Fla., massacre, are based on a deliberate lie.

The Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution doesn’t just say Congress shall not infringe the right to “keep and bear arms.” It specifically says that right exists in order to maintain “a well-regulated militia.” Even the late conservative Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia admitted those words weren’t in there by accident. Oh, and the Constitution doesn’t just say a “militia.” It says a “well-regulated” militia.

What did the Founding Fathers mean by that? We don’t have to guess because they told us. In Federalist No. 29 of the Federalist Papers, Alexander Hamilton explained at great length precisely what a “well-regulated militia” was, why the Founding Fathers thought we needed one, and why they wanted to protect it from being disarmed by the federal government.

    The Second Amendment is an instrument of government. It’s not about hunting or gun collecting or carrying your pistol into the saloon.

And there’s a reason absolutely no gun extremist will ever direct you to that 1788 essay because it blows their baloney into a million pieces.

A “well-regulated militia” didn’t mean guys who read Soldier of Fortune magazine running around in the woods with AK-47s and warpaint on their faces. It basically meant what today we call the National Guard.

It should be a properly constituted, ordered and drilled (“well-regulated”) military force, organized state by state, explained Hamilton. Each state militia should be a “select corps,” “well-trained” and able to perform all the “operations of an army.” The militia needed “uniformity in … organization and discipline,” wrote Hamilton, so that it could operate like a proper army “in camp and field,” and so that it could gain the “essential … degree of proficiency in military functions.” And although it was organized state by state, it needed to be under the explicit control of the national government. The “well-regulated militia” was under the command of the president. It was “the military arm” of the government.

The one big difference between this militia and a professional army? It shouldn’t be made up of full-time professional soldiers, said the Founding Fathers. Such soldiers could be used against the people as King George had used his mercenary Redcoats. Instead, the American republic should make up its military force from part-time volunteers drawn from regular citizens. Such men would be less likely to turn on the population.

And the creation of this “well-regulated militia,” aka the National Guard, would help safeguard the freedom of the new republic because it would make the creation of a professional, mercenary army “unnecessary,” wrote Hamilton. “This appears to me the only substitute that can be devised for a standing army, and the best possible security against it,” he wrote.

That was the point. And that was why they wanted to make sure it couldn’t be disarmed by the federal government: So a future “tyrant” couldn’t disarm the National Guard, and then use a mercenary army to impose martial law.

The Founding Fathers didn’t call the republic’s new force an “army” because that term more than two centuries ago called to mind the British army, foreign mercenaries, tyrants and kings. So they said “militia” instead. But they meant a real body. Hamilton was scathing about the idea that the “militia” could just mean every Bob, Billy and Benjamin with his musket. Such amateurs would stand no chance in modern warfare against professionals, he wrote. And requiring every citizen to become a professional would be ridiculous, he said. It would be “a real grievance to the people, and a serious public inconvenience and loss,” he wrote. Taking people away from their work in order to train them “would form an annual deduction from the productive labor of the country.”

The Second Amendment is an instrument of government. It’s not about hunting or gun collecting or carrying your pistol into the saloon. The Founding Fathers left it up to us to pass sensible laws about all these things. The Constitution is about government.

Today we have a professional army, anyway. Military matters have become so complex that no part-time soldiers could do it all. So you could argue that makes the Second Amendment null and void, like the parts in the Constitution about slaves and Indians being counted as “three-fifths” of a person in the Census.

But even if you still want to defend the Second Amendment, it should apply only to those who volunteer to join the “select corps” of their National Guard, undergo rigorous training to attain “proficiency in military functions” and perform the “operations of an army,” serve as ordered under the ultimate command of the president and be subject to military discipline.

So if you’re running around waving your AK-47 under the Second Amendment, and you haven’t shown up yet at your local National Guard headquarters, you’re not a “patriot.” You’re a deserter.

https://www.marketwatch.com/amp/story/guid/EB8986D8-318A-11E6-B6FB-63408A47D872?__twitter_impression=true
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Timidity and Palliatives While the Planet Burns
« Reply #12732 on: May 16, 2019, 04:44:31 AM »


The best conditions for genuine discussion, for me at least, is during a feast of good food and drink. Ancient Greeks called that symposium.

The wisdom behind the tradition of symposium – millennia ago and today — is simple. Friends and guests eating food and drinking wine feel good about themselves. Organic food well-cooked and excellent wine do that. They are medicines. In such euphoria, symposiasts are very likely to be honest, even eloquent, in their expression of their views or opinions.

This is the reason Plato chose the dialogue for the spreading of his ideas. The dialogue comes from intimate symposium discussions.

Today I often hear Americans speaking in radio or television saying this and that must be part of a “national conversation.” I wonder what they have in mind.

Invisible civil war

This is because in the second decade of the twenty-first century Americans are divided as never before. Republicans are embracing guns, perpetual wars, corporate plutocracy, America-first, and ecocide. Indeed, Trump and the Republicans are now moving the country for a possible war against Iran.

The Democrats advocate policies that may improve the well-being of Americans. Yet when the Democrats had the White House and Congress, those policies were timid in fixing the gross inequality among rich and poor in America. In addition, Democrats have yet to propose a coherent plan to diminish and end global warming.

Given this political instability, verging on soft civil war between the rich and poor, the cultural elites are covering up the schism by palliative measures, especially unpolitical but fashionable talk in the academy. Professors pontificate about sexuality, race (whites or blacks or lesbians for new appointments?) and other anthropological headings. However, our intellectuals leave alone the decimation of wildlife and global extinction of species from industrialization and the potentially catastrophic effects of nuclear bombs, pesticides, industrial robots and Artificial Intelligence.

President Trump adds flavor to the political silence on serious issues. His strange behavior and hazardous policies put him at the center of political life in America. Televisions keep repeating every word he utters, thus pushing urgent national conversations out of political attention.

Just one weed killer, glyphosate, became the king of poisons the world over because of careless regulation. The Trump EPA keeps saying the chemical does not cause cancer while thousands of Americans have been suing glyphosate’s owner, Monsanto, for coming down with cancer as a result of using glyphosate. A California jury awarded a couple $ 2 billion for their suffering from glyphosate cancer.

Political discourse

In the midst of this anxiety, our toleration of diversity in political discourse is fading. Large media will not publish critical opinions about controversial pesticides, industrialized farming or about taxing the rich or bringing to an end wars and the ecocide of corporate America.

Presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders has been branded “socialist” because he is proposing corporations and rich Americans pay modestly higher taxes; that young Americans deserve free public university education; that the country needs a minimum wage that boosts workers above poverty.

I have examples of being interrupted in conversations and called names. Some readers of my articles threaten me. Several times people have said to me: “Why don’t you go back to Greece?” This started in my undergraduate student days, decades ago.

I must be saying things that get people excited or angry. Or, as someone said, my talk is sometimes full of “negativity.” I do respond by saying that, for the most part, my persistent criticism is for things I love. The reason is simple. I want those things improved, not destroyed. That explains my criticism of the EPA. Besides, I tell my questioners, my name Evaggelos in Greek means the messenger of good news.

I am astonished at the amount of misinformation-superstition preoccupying people on radio and especially television. It’s as if the sayings of people or companies is packaged for sale. Then televisions mix up news and advertisements to the point where it’s difficult to learn what is happening in this country and the world.

I rarely watch commercial television. If I do, I always silence the advertisements. But for those who don’t, I feel sorry for their mental health. They become brainwashed.

Newspapers are not as bad as commercial television. You read their stories and either you become enlighten or confused or more secure about your superstitions or understanding of events.

My message

I remember an editor of the Washington Post telling me: “We will never publish you.” In 2004, the New York Times accepted an op-ed article for publication. But when, in 2007, I emailed the editor for some explanation for the delay, he sent me a $ 300 for the article, which he never published.

In 2014, I was in Seattle, Washington for a talk in Town Hall Seattle about my book: Poison Spring: The Secret History of Pollution and the EPA. My publisher Bloomsbury Press had also made arrangements for an interview with the National Public Radio. I showed up at the office of NPR only to learn that the producer had stayed home because of illness. “But don’t you worry,” a woman radio associate producer said to me. “We will call you for a phone interview.” They never did.

The same thing happened with Amy Goodman of Democracy Now. She cancelled a prearranged interview with me.

Clearly, there are people and institutions that have been trying to suppress my message. They don’t want Americans to know their conventional (non-organic) food is laced with neurotoxins and carcinogens – all for the profit of a handful of petrochemical conglomerates and the convenience of a few thousand large factory farmers.

And at a time of dramatic species extinction, and global warming threatening all life on Earth, they don’t want you to know that our “science-based” and pesticide-addicted agriculture is one of the largest sources for both of these two calamities: species extinction and steadily increasing world temperature.

So, where is the national conversation about these facts?

PBS: stay away from polluters

Yes, PBS (Public Broadcasting System) does educate with its series on Nature. In one of these documentaries, a biologist said something to the effect: “stop using pesticides because they threaten honeybees.”

I was delighted. Truth is powerful.

But PBS must do more: reveal the dirty politics behind pollution and the deadly environmental crisis undermining Nature itself. Stop, for instance, accepting money for the program NOVA from one of America’s chief polluters: the Koch brothers. These petroleum men care less about the natural world, much less honeybees. They are funding PBS to put lipstick on their dirty business.

Indeed, this PBS connection to polluters has restrained and subvert public television, including the Newshour, which I watched for decades. I always wondered why, for instance, this program, with some exceptions, rarely touched industrialized farming.

Eliminating the influence of polluters from public television and radio would probably spark a real national conversation.

Author - Evaggelos Vallianatos worked at the US Environmental Protection Agency for 25 years. He is the author of 6 books, including “Poison Spring,” with Mckay Jenkings

https://www.counterpunch.org/2019/05/16/timidity-and-palliatives-while-the-planet-burns/
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    A internet satellite network for consumers is how CEO Elon Musk believes SpaceX can “generate revenue that can be used to develop more and more advanced rockets and spaceships,” he said on Wednesday.
    Starlink is SpaceX’s ambitious plan to build an interconnected internet satellite network to beam high speed internet to anywhere on the planet.
    “At this point it looks like we have sufficient capital to get to an operational level,” Musk said of Starlink.


SpaceX CEO Elon Musk explained on Wednesday how the company’s Starlink satellite network will serve as the company’s key money-maker, unlocking his vision of sending astronauts to Mars.

Musk’s comments came on a call with media hours before the company’s first full launch of Starlink satellites. For the first time, Musk spoke to the network’s timeline and gave details about how the company’s satellites work. Musk also confirmed that SpaceX has the capital required to complete the project’s first major phase.

Starlink represents the company’s ambitious plan to build an interconnected internet satellite network, also known as a “constellation,” to beam high-speed internet to anywhere on the planet. The full Starlink network would consist of 11,943 satellites flying close to the planet, closer than the International Space Station, in what is known as low Earth orbit.

“We see this as a way for SpaceX to generate revenue that can be used to develop more and more advanced rockets and spaceships,” Musk said.

“We believe we can use the revenue from Starlink to fund Starship,” Musk added.

SpaceX has built and launched its Falcon series of rockets more than 70 times. While the rockets rank among the most powerful in the world, Musk’s ultimate vision is to send humans to live on Mars – which requires even larger rockets. That’s where Starship, the massive rocket SpaceX has begun testing over the last few months, comes in.

Starship is designed to be a fully reusable launch system, and is intended to transport as many as 100 people at a time to and from the moon or Mars.

On the call Wednesday, Musk clarified that SpaceX’s recent fundraising rounds “have been oversubscribed.” He said SpaceX has the funding needed to build and launch enough Starlink satellites to begin using the network.

“At this point it looks like we have sufficient capital to get to an operational level,” Musk said.

Musk shared a photo of the 60 Starlink satellites on Saturday after they were packed into the nosecone of the Falcon 9 rocket.


SpaceX “Starlink” satellites stacked inside the nosecone of its rocket before launch.

SpaceX launched two demonstration satellites in February 2018, but much of the program — and the satellites’ design — remained unknown. Although Musk fired the head of the Starlink program – a vice president who Jeff Bezos promptly hired to develop a similar network – in June, SpaceX has continued to advance the program quickly. In filings with the Federal Communications Commission, SpaceX noted a few changes to its plans. SpaceX also submitted an application this year to operate 1 million “earth stations” in the U.S., key to connecting the satellites to the ground.

Musk said SpaceX will need six more launches, with 60 satellites per launch, to get “minor coverage” for the internet network. A dozen launches, or 720 satellites, would bump the network to “moderate” coverage,” he added.

“This is one of the hardest engineering projects I’ve ever seen done,” Musk said.

He went into more technical details about the satellites’ design and capabilities than previously disclosed. Each Starlink satellite has “about a terabit of useful connectivity,” Musk said. The satellites will “automatically maneuver around any orbital debris,” he said, to avoid collisions in space.

“There’s a lot of new technology on the satellite,” Musk said.

The company will continue to develop and advance Starlink as the program continues, Musk promised. SpaceX plans to rapidly deploy Starlink, scaling its production and launch rate to between 1,000 satellites to 2,000 satellites per year. If SpaceX is able to stick to its current Starlink schedule, Musk said “SpaceX will have the majority of satellites” in orbit around the Earth within two years.

SpaceX represents one of several of these constellations in development, competing with Softbank-backed OneWeb, Amazon’s Project Kuiper, Canadian operator Telesat and more. These ambitious satellite networks will require intensive capital, with some industry officials estimating costs running as high as $5 billion.

The satellite constellations expect to offer broadband speeds comparable to fiber optic networks, according to federal documents, by essentially creating a blanket connection across the electromagnetic spectrum. The satellites would offer new direct-to-consumer wireless connections, rather than the present system’s redistribution of signals.

Musk said SpaceX does not think it is “going to be displacing” traditional, ground-based telecommunications networks with Starlink. Instead, he thinks the space-based network “will actually work well” with telecommunications companies because it reaches sparsely populated regions. While Starlink “has not signed up any customers,” Musk said SpaceX is talking to “possible strategic partners,” such as telecommunications companies.

https://www.cnbc.com/2019/05/15/musk-on-starlink-internet-satellites-spacex-has-sufficient-capital.html
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Virtual kidnappings are rattling families across the US newest news
« Reply #12734 on: May 16, 2019, 05:11:24 AM »

New York (CNN Business) — "I have your son and I'm going to f*ck him up," a voice on the other side of the phone said.

For two hours one afternoon in early April, 61-year-old Joseph Baker and his wife Maggie drove around Charlotte, North Carolina, listening to every demand of their son Jake's supposed kidnapper.

"If you call the police, I will know and kill him," he threatened, according to the Bakers. "I have a scanner."

The caller ID on Joseph's smartphone display said the call was coming from his son's number. The couple had no reason not to believe the man on the other end of the line, who knew personal details about the family, including where they lived.

They complied with his orders, purchasing two pre-paid debit bank cards worth $750 each, relaying the card numbers to the kidnapper and filming themselves flushing the evidence down the toilet.

When Joseph hung up, he called the police, who rushed to his son's house along with a team of medics. But they found Jake home, unharmed. It was all a scam.

"It was so real," Maggie Baker told CNN Business. "People will do anything to help a loved one. ... I keep thinking through things now. Is there anything I could have done to stop this?"


How scammers fake a kidnapping

"We've seen an uptick in virtual kidnappings in the past few years because the crime is lucrative and there's not a lot detection from law enforcement," Matthew Horton, the FBI's international violent crimes unit chief, who's been closely following virtual kidnappings, told CNN Business. "It's a quick way to make money — and it's a lot easier to conduct a virtual kidnapping than a real one."

Spoofing involves a call placed from any voice-over-IP service, such as Skype, or a specialized app that allows users to enter any host number they want — whether it's a made up number, a number in their address book, or one from the White House. It's so easy, anyone could do it.

Skype declined a request for comment.

Some of these scams also come from pre-paid phones that are not registered and not attributable to a person.

The incidents can leave victims bilked out of up to thousands of dollars and emotionally shaken. Because a scammer knows a potential victim is more likely to pick up if they recognize the caller, they might enter a number they think is in their target's address book.

It's hard to quantify how common the scams are. The FBI said it does not collect national statistics on virtual kidnappings because "most victims tend to report the crime to their local law enforcement department or not report it at all."

In some cases, victims say they hear screams in the background pretending to be from a daughter or son. Another spoofing scam targets parents and grandparents who are asked to bail their child out of jail.

But Horton noted the majority of virtual kidnapping scams that he sees aren't targeted: "Many of these cases are done at random based on cold-calling numbers, even hotel rooms or wealthy area codes, and using social media posts to search for more information."

This type of scam is difficult to crack down on because of where they start. An FBI investigation out of its Los Angeles Division in 2017 found the majority of virtual kidnapping calls originated in Mexico — and that many came from within prisons there. Originally the calls targeted Spanish speakers in Los Angeles and Houston areas. Now they also happen in English and have expanded to other US cities.

"The incarcerated fraudsters — who typically bribe guards to acquire cell phones — would choose an affluent area such as Beverly Hills, California," said FBI Los Angeles Special Agent Erik Arbuthnot in a blog post detailing the scams. "They would search the Internet to learn the correct area code and telephone dialing prefix. Then, with nothing but time on their hands, they would start dialing numbers in sequence, trolling for victims."

Horton, who confirmed most virtual kidnappings that he's aware of still originate from Mexico, said some criminals use spoofing apps to help orchestrate schemes.

Social media, and breaches, have also made it easier for scammers to find out personal details about their targets, and their targets' friends and relatives.

Still, as in the Baker family's case, the ransom demand is often low so that the scammers can skirt laws that regulate money transfers across the border.

"It's easier to avoid some laws and red flags if you're wiring small amounts of money," Horton told CNN Business. "A family is also more likely to have smaller amounts of money on hand or get access to those funds more easily, especially after bank hours."

Horton said the criminals typically put pressure on the victims to pay quickly and sometimes demand more money after the first transaction is complete.

Jake Baker, who calls the situation "traumatizing" for his family, said the Charlotte Police Department didn't seem optimistic they'd be able track down the criminal.

"I was told that because there are only a few breadcrumbs, it might be tricky to find them," he said. "I was also told that it's a small enough of a dollar amount that it won't likely trigger a bigger investigation."

The Charlotte Police Department did not respond to a request for comment.

The FCC's efforts to crack down on scam calls from unknown numbers, or from numbers pretending to be someone the recipient knows, have been slow moving but the telecom industry is working on a tool called Stir/Shaken to identify and trace spoofing efforts. AT&T, Comcast and Verizon have already completed tests, and other providers have pledged to embrace Stir/Shaken by the end of 2019. (AT&T owns CNN's parent company, WarnerMedia.)

On Wednesday the FCC unveiled a proposal to limit unwanted robocalls that could allow carriers to apply robocall-blocking technologies to customer accounts automatically.

Meanwhile, carriers including Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile offer free-to-download apps that autoblock robocalls and spoofing efforts. Sprint offers a paid robocall labeling and blocking service called Premium Caller ID that lets users receive information about the type of call coming in and set up preferences to block spoofed attempts.


Who's at risk?

Tarun Wadhwa, who founded tech advisory firm Day One Insights and who closely studies issues related to identity, forgery technologies, and cybersecurity, likens virtual kidnapping to phishing. That's when scammers or hackers send messages made to look like they're coming from someone the victim knows, asking them to give up information or take an action like entering a password.

"This has been one of the most persistent, damaging threats in cybersecurity, all because it's not really a technology problem," Wadhwa said. "It's a human psychology problem. They prey upon the fact that we are busy and are not suspicious of the veracity of every message we are seeing. It seems so simple, but I've seen incredibly smart people fall for this."

Some people don't report virtual kidnappings because they're embarrassed they fell for a scam, want to forget what happened or know it's a challenge for law enforcement to track down the culprits. But Horton of the FBI argues it's critical for authorities to keep track of these incidents, and for people to spread awareness about spoofing scams so families can be prepared.

"If found in this position, we advise people to remain calm and stall the person on the phone," Horton said. "Try to contact the victim by phone or voice or social media, such as Snapchatting them to get in touch and make sure they're okay. It's also good to get some proof of life or a photograph or ask to talk to the person."

Wadhwa believes spoofing scams will only get more complex thanks to advancements in voice manipulation technology. (Think deepfakes for robocalls.) A virtual kidnapper could potentially one day mimic the voice of a loved one, in addition to their phone number.

"The challenge ahead of us is enormous: We have to convince people that what their eyes are seeing, ears are hearing, and mind is recognizing is not actually what's going on," Wadhwa said. "That's an incredibly hard thing to do. And the better that gets, the more people will fall victim."



The Baker family has since implemented a safe word they can use if they're ever in the same situation again. They've also taken steps to remove personal information from the internet, making it more difficult for strangers to learn intimate details about their family.

"My son is safe and I'm thankful, but I care about all of the other parents out there going through this or will go through this in the future," said Maggie Baker.

https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/15/tech/virtual-kidnapping/index.html

Stories like the Bakers' are increasingly common due to the influx of spoofing, a form of robo-calling that lets a perpetrator alter what number it appears they are calling from. They can then use that number, combined with personal information they find online, to fake a situation like a kidnapping.
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