- fresh, reasoned independent thought -


This is PURPLE radio / TV !!
News of the Week
Each week we produce a page of news that can be used for reference to the weekly shows here at murrayTALK. Please notice that the following group of articles is but a small percentage of the info available to the concerned PURPLE community. It is by no means meant to cover every possible issue of interest, nor is it meant to convey any particular point of view. We simply present this page each week as a convenience to our followers.
. .
a little about us
programs / projects
plans and platforms
library and archive
join us, get involved

November 2019 - Week 3


We cover issues of the week from some of the most recognized sources, but always from a PURPLE perspective. And we invite discussion of the same sort.

On each murrayTALK episode, our host Willam (Bill) Murray will express his Opinion of some of the top issues of the week. There'll be no shortage of topics ..

We promise stimulating and thought-provoking presentations, and we'll seek additional ways for the audience to contribute .. perhaps via Facebook and Twitter if we can figure out how to do it.

For now we'll use the OPEN MIKE discussion forum and the panelists who call the show. Call in number: 516 / 531-9782

Stay tuned for more on this !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


The New York Times


Impeachment Testimony Sends Talk Radio Shows to Familiar Sides

As Americans heard the first public testimony in the Ukraine inquiry, some turned to talk radio shows with reactions.

By Mitch Smith, Audra D. S. Burch, Patricia Mazzei and Julie Bosman

CHICAGO — They all watched the same hearing. They just saw it differently. Very differently.

A day after the first public testimony in the House impeachment inquiry, Americans had plenty to say. But whether the hearing was seen as a partisan charade or a damning blow to President Trump depended largely on a person's pre-existing political sympathies.

To better understand how the hearings were playing across the nation, reporters for The New York Times listened to callers and hosts on talk radio shows on both ends of the political spectrum. Not surprisingly, the airwaves offered little consensus on the merits of the impeachment case or the legality of Mr. Trump's dealings with Ukraine. There was one narrow piece of agreement, though. On both the left and the right, people around the country saw the events in Washington as a solemn test of American democracy, and their political opposition as a grave threat.

WCPT 820 AM Chicago: ‘The evidence is already there'

The evidence? Compelling, listeners agreed. The witnesses? Impressive. The president's conduct? Impeachable without a doubt.

But would it — could it? — end in Mr. Trump's removal from office?

“Some are saying that there are some Republican senators that are, believe it or not, ready to throw him under the bus to protect their own,” said Cliff Kelley, a former Chicago alderman who was filling in as the morning host.

Roosevelt, the first caller, was not as sure. He predicted that there would not be enough senators to remove Mr. Trump from office. But perhaps there would be “enough to raise eyebrows” and doom the president politically.

“His re-election, to me, is over,” Roosevelt said. “That middle is going to get shifted over to the Democratic side.”

All through the morning drive, callers on Chicago's liberal talk station voiced outrage about the president, but they offered mixed views of what impeachment would mean.

Brad from Elk Grove Village said he was “doing good — and better every day now that we've finally got this in front of the public.” Ronald said Democrats should stay focused on other priorities, too. Louis said the Democratic presidential candidates' platforms had been overshadowed by the impeachment hearings.

In addition to disgust for Mr. Trump, many callers shared one nagging concern: that the other side was unlikely to be persuaded.

“Impeach Trump — the evidence is already there,” a caller named Pam said. “It's just a matter of exposing it to the public. We won't change Republicans, Cliff. Maybe independents, perhaps.”

WDSM 710 AM Duluth, Minn.: ‘How do we know there is a whistle-blower?'

As far as Steve from Duluth is concerned, the impeachment public hearings should not proceed until the identity of the anonymous whistle-blower who started the whole inquiry is revealed.

If there actually is a whistle-blower, he said.

“My statement would be, you won't tell us who this whistle-blower is, so this so-called trial is over because how do we know there is a whistle-blower, just cause you say there is a whistle-blower?” Steve asked in a call to “Sound Off,” a weekday radio program in Minnesota. “How do we know there is one?”

Brad Bennett, the host of the three-hour morning show, quickly agreed. “Actually Steve, that is not a bad idea.” He noted that Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, has said that a Senate trial needed to expose the whistle-blower's identity to investigate whether there is any relationship between the whistle-blower and Joseph R. Biden Jr., the former vice president and current presidential candidate.

“I thought it was an interesting theory,” Mr. Bennett said, adding, “For example, if they find out who the whistle-blower is and they find out this guy was an operative, worked on the Biden campaign, was involved with him, maybe did some work with him, that would throw the whole thing out. Wouldn't it?”

On the show, Steve — one in a parade of callers who made it clear they believed that President Trump has been unfairly accused — insisted that the priority should be determining the existence of a whistle-blower at all. “Yeah,” Steve told the host, “but I still think a statement should be put out there that questions, How do we know there is a whistle-blower if you won't tell us who this person is?”

Others called after Steve.

Tom said he does not view a quid pro quo “as anything other than the president having the legitimate ability to maneuver on foreign policy. I am more concerned not with the government being for sale, but the president being handcuffed.”

And Mark, from Moose Lake, said he believed that the whole matter had kept Congress from tackling national issues such as balancing the budget or working on the border wall.

“They are so busy on this impeachment hearing and all the concentration is going into that,” he said, “that the constituents of this country are being overlooked right now because they are not doing their job.”

KBUL 970 AM Billings, Mont.: ‘This impeachment circus'

There was little urgency to dissect the impeachment hearings during four hours of morning conservative talk radio in Montana. Aaron Flint, the host for KBUL in Billings, had plenty to say, but he felt he had already said it the day before.

“If you want to hear my reaction to this impeachment circus yesterday, I think Adam Schiff blew it right with the opener,” Mr. Flint said, directing listeners to the station's website where he blasted the Democratic head of the House Intelligence Committee.

“How about this, Adam Schiff?” Mr. Flint said in Wednesday's recording. “Why don't you come back to us when you actually have evidence? Why are you wasting our time right now? Why aren't you working on important things like the United States-Mexico-Canada trade agreement?”

Impeachment, Mr. Flint declared, was a “childish endeavor” and a “coup attempt.”

And so he set aside the subject on Thursday, conducting interviews instead with a state senator who lives four miles from the Canadian border, a local historian who published a book about World War I veterans, and with a Democratic candidate for Congress who touted his upbringing on the family ranch.

The candidate, Matt Rains, fielded a few listener calls, but nobody asked him about impeachment, either.

“After everything the Democrats have done to this country the past three years, why should anyone trust a Democrat?” asked one of the callers, Matt from Columbia Falls.

“My frustrations are yours, Matt,” Mr. Rains responded.

“There is very little in government right now that is being productively done,” Mr. Rains had lamented on the air earlier.

National news briefs from Fox News Radio mentioned impeachment but quickly turned to other headlines. The big local stories involved an overturned fuel truck and the centennial convention of the Montana Farm Bureau.

A tease for Sean Hannity's afternoon show promised plenty of impeachment talk, though. And when the airwaves moved on to “The Rush Limbaugh Show,” Mr. Limbaugh jumped right in.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” Mr. Limbaugh began, “the Schiff has hit the fan.”

WNHN 94.7 FM Concord, N.H.: ‘Civic education'

For Arnie Arnesen, the host of a left-leaning talk show in Concord, N.H., the impeachment hearings were a civics lesson, a reminder of the strength of the government, an illustration of what it means to be American.

Of William B. Taylor, the top United States diplomat in Ukraine, and George P. Kent, a senior State Department official in charge of Ukraine policy, she said: “I wanted to be one of those two men. I so admired not only their intellect but their compass and their sense of moral outrage.”

“To me it was not about impeachment,” she said. “It was an education for me about a government that I didn't ever quite appreciate.”

“Civic education,” said Russell Muirhead, a professor of democracy and politics at Dartmouth College and a guest on the show. “That's what these hearings are all about. They're secondarily about impeachment. Their first purpose is to educate people.”

But this is New Hampshire, so the conversation quickly shifted away from Capitol Hill and toward the presidential primaries. What did the entry of Deval Patrick, a two-term former governor of Massachusetts, mean for the race? If elected, could Elizabeth Warren really tank the economy, as the ultrawealthy have warned? Is Mr. Biden's centrism appealing to New Hampshire voters?

And how do all these candidates deal with the impeachment proceedings in Washington, as they fly in and out of New Hampshire? “What I'm trying to figure out is, if you're running for president right now, how do you run with this as your backdrop?” Ms. Arnesen asked.

She ended the show by playing a song introduced by Ken Barnes, her co-host, as “Trump's theme.” It was “Liar,” by Queen.


Are your jeans red or blue?

More and more brands have become associated with Republicans or Democrats in the U.S. For example, research data show Democrats have become more likely to wear Levi's than their Republican counterparts. The opposite is true with Wrangler.

There is no simple explanation. Some of it is due to social and political stances companies take. Some is tied to geographic shifts in political parties, as rural counties become more Republican and urban areas more Democratic. The factors are combining to create a new, more partisan consumer culture, where red/blue divisions in politics have drifted into the world of shopping. None of this has escaped big brands and chains, which are trying to grow or hold on to market share by showing they support—or oppose—the same causes as customers.


The Washington Post


Israel strikes Hamas sites after rockets fired in Gaza as cease-fire efforts at risk

By Steve Hendrix and Hazen Balousha

JERUSALEM — Israeli forces struck multiple targets controlled by the ruling Hamas faction in the Gaza Strip on Saturday after rockets were fired from the territory, potentially jeopardizing a shaky cease-fire following two days of intense exchanges.

The flare-up occurred as Israel's military said it was investigating one of the deadliest attacks of the recent fighting, a strike on a family house Thursday that may have been a case of mistaken targeting.

Saturday's strikes marked the first time Israel had hit Hamas sites during the recent clashes, having limited its previous attacks to assets of a rival faction in Gaza, Islamic Jihad. Hamas, in a departure from previous episodes of violence, had largely stayed out of the fray.

But the army said that changed in the early hours Saturday when at least two rockets soared toward the Negev Desert city of Beersheba, sparking air raid sirens shortly after 1 a.m. Both projectiles were shot down by Israel's Iron Dome air defense system.

Hamas did not claim responsibility for the launch. But the Israeli military said the rockets came from Hamas launchers and retaliated with air attacks on a Hamas military camp, a naval facility and “an underground terror infrastructure,” according to a statement.

“Hamas fired tonight, aiming to kill Israeli civilians, and therefore we fired back at their military targets,” Lt. Col Jonathan Conricus, a spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces, said in an interview.

The week's hostilities, which saw 34 Palestinians killed and sent Israelis to bomb shelters as hundreds of rockets rained down, began Tuesday after Israel killed an Islamic Jihad commander in Northern Gaza with a pinpoint strike on his bedroom. His wife was also killed.

<< more >>

The New York Times

U.S. sides with Israel on settlements

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced on Monday that the U.S. would no longer consider Israeli settlements in the West Bank a violation of international law. The move reverses four decades of American policy.

It may also doom any peace efforts, as Palestinians have demanded the land for a future state — a goal supported by the United Nations, European governments and American allies across the Middle East. We have a guide on settlements' legal status.

Today: Israel intercepted four rockets launched from Syria toward the Golan Heights, days after a clash with militants in Gaza.


The Trump administration reversed decades of foreign policy and handed a win to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, all in one fell swoop. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the US no longer considers Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank to be "inconsistent with international law." This defies a 1978 State Department decision and goes against the views traditionally held by US allies. The West Bank, as you know, is one of the focal points of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This pro-Israel move not only nods to President Trump's conservative base, it also gives Netanyahu a big political gift. Israel is in a sort of political free-for-all following September's inconclusive elections, and Trump's signal of support could give Netanyahu a leg up in trying to form a government.


The New York Times


‘Absolutely No Mercy': Leaked Files Expose How China Organized Mass Detentions of Muslims

More than 400 pages of internal Chinese documents provide an unprecedented inside look at the crackdown on ethnic minorities in the Xinjiang region.


HONG KONG — The students booked their tickets home at the end of the semester, hoping for a relaxing break after exams and a summer of happy reunions with family in China's far west.

Instead, they would soon be told that their parents were gone, relatives had vanished and neighbors were missing — all of them locked up in an expanding network of detention camps built to hold Muslim ethnic minorities.

The authorities in the Xinjiang region worried the situation was a powder keg. And so they prepared.

The leadership distributed a classified directive advising local officials to corner returning students as soon as they arrived and keep them quiet. It included a chillingly bureaucratic guide for how to handle their anguished questions, beginning with the most obvious: Where is my family?

The directive was among 403 pages of internal documents that have been shared with The New York Times in one of the most significant leaks of government papers from inside China's ruling Communist Party in decades. They provide an unprecedented inside view of the continuing clampdown in Xinjiang, in which the authorities have corralled as many as a million ethnic Uighurs, Kazakhs and others into internment camps and prisons over the past three years.

The party has rejected international criticism of the camps and described them as job-training centers that use mild methods to fight Islamic extremism. But the documents confirm the coercive nature of the crackdown in the words and orders of the very officials who conceived and orchestrated it.

Even as the government presented its efforts in Xinjiang to the public as benevolent and unexceptional, it discussed and organized a ruthless and extraordinary campaign in these internal communications. Senior party leaders are recorded ordering drastic and urgent action against extremist violence, including the mass detentions, and discussing the consequences with cool detachment.

Children saw their parents taken away, students wondered who would pay their tuition and crops could not be planted or harvested for lack of manpower, the reports noted. Yet officials were directed to tell people who complained to be grateful for the Communist Party's help and stay quiet.

The leaked papers offer a striking picture of how the hidden machinery of the Chinese state carried out the country's most far-reaching internment campaign since the Mao era. The key disclosures in the documents include:

President Xi Jinping, the party chief, laid the groundwork for the crackdown in a series of speeches delivered in private to officials during and after a visit to Xinjiang in April 2014, just weeks after Uighur militants stabbed more than 150 people at a train station, killing 31. Mr. Xi called for an all-out “struggle against terrorism, infiltration and separatism” using the “organs of dictatorship,” and showing “absolutely no mercy.”

<< more >>


The Washington Post


Prince Andrew says he let down royal family by associating with Jeffrey Epstein

By Karla Adam and William Booth

LONDON — Britain's Prince Andrew insisted he does not recall meeting the woman who has accused him of having sexual encounters with her when she was 17 at the behest of financier Jeffrey Epstein.

In an extraordinary interview conducted at Buckingham Palace with the BBC Newsnight program and aired on Saturday, the third child of Queen Elizabeth II said he had “no recollection of ever meeting this lady, none whatsoever,” when asked about Virginia Roberts, now Virginia Giuffre.

Andrew's close relationship with Epstein, a convicted sex offender who committed suicide in a New York jail cell in August, has deeply embarrassed Britain's royal family. Until now, Andrew — the Duke of York — and the royal family have only reluctantly addressed the charges in terse statements issued from the palace.

In the hour-long interview, the 59-year-old divorced prince was asked politely but repeatedly on camera by journalist Emily Maitlis about an alleged sexual encounter with a teenager, how much he sweats, and how he could have spent four days at Epstein's New York City mansion after Epstein was convicted of soliciting a minor.

Andrew told the broadcaster that he failed to live up to the high standards of the royal family by staying at Epstein's mansion in New York City in 2010, when Epstein was already a registered sex offender.

The senior royal's friendship with Epstein was thrown back into the spotlight this summer after court documents were released in a related defamation case. In those documents, Giuffre accused Andrew of having sex with her three times — in London, New York and the U.S. Virgin Islands. She said she was paid by Epstein for those encounters.

Giuffre said that in 2001 in London, she dined with the prince, danced with him at the Tramp nightclub and had sex with him at the home of one of the prince's friends in the Belgravia neighborhood of London.

“I can absolutely categorically tell you it never happened,” Andrew said.

<< more >>




New details emerge about a Boston Marathon bomber's alleged participation in a 2011 triple homicide

By Elizabeth Joseph and Steve Almasy, CNN

(CNN) Details about a gruesome triple homicide at a Massachusetts residence in 2011 that a friend of Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev said they took part in were revealed this week in federal court documents.

The documents were filed Wednesday in connection with a pending appeal by Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, Tamerlan's younger brother and Boston bombing co-conspirator, of his conviction and death sentence. Oral arguments are scheduled to begin December 12.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev's friend, Ibragim Todashev, who was shot and killed during the 2013 interview with law enforcement, described the killings, which occurred about two years before the bombings, in the new court documents.

While being questioned on May 21, 2013 — about a month after the Boston Marathon attack — Todashev said he and Tsarnaev bound, beat and slit the throats of three young men in the Massachusetts city of Waltham, according to a heavily redacted FBI affidavit filed Wednesday.

"He said that he and Tamerlan had agreed initially just to rob the victims," the FBI special agent, whose name is blacked out, says in the affidavit.

Tsarnaev brandished a gun to gain entrance to the home, and the pair stole several thousand dollars from the residence before Tsarnaev "decided that they would eliminate any witnesses to the crime," Todashev said, according to the document.

The affidavit says that Todashev added that he and Tsarnaev tried to clean the crime scene for more than an hour "in order to remove traces of their fingerprints and other identifying details." Todashev was shot and killed during the interview at his Florida apartment. The FBI and a Florida investigator each said the shooting was justified because Todashev allegedly tried to attack the FBI agent.

Todashev's account documented in the FBI affidavit sheds light on Tsarnaev's alleged criminal history and use of violence years before he and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev set off two bombs near the finish line of the Boston Marathon in April 2013, killing three people and injuring more than 260 people.

The bombings sparked a manhunt that shut down the city for days and the brothers later killed a Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer. After they stole an SUV that night, the two were chased by police.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev died in an explosive firefight with police in nearby Watertown. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was arrested a day later and convicted for his role in the bombings. He was sentenced to death in 2015.

The investigation into the Waltham murders is still open, Meghan Kelly, a spokeswoman for the Middlesex County District Attorney told CNN on Saturday.

The New York Times

Europe faces its ISIS militants

President Trump's decision last month to withdraw U.S. forces from northern Syria cleared the way for Turkey to take control of detained Islamic State members.

After having sought alternative ways to prosecute them — in an international tribunal, on Iraqi soil, anywhere but on the Continent — Western European countries are now grappling with the return of radicalized citizens.

The issue is further complicated because nearly two-thirds of the roughly 700 West European detainees are children, and many have lost at least one parent.

Closer look: Officials in Turkey say that the country is holding 2,280 Islamic State members from 30 nations and that all of them will be deported.




Venice is sinking and this time it may go under

By David M. Perry

(CNN) Venice is sinking. In a way this isn't news. The mere survival of Venice in 2019 is a testament to the determination, ingenuity, collaboration, and ferocity of humans seeking to eke out a life in hostile environments.

From its founding in the Early Middle Ages, Venice has had a fraught relationship with the sea, dependent on it for food and trade, protected from the mainland by the waters of the lagoon, yet always threatened by changing environmental conditions. Today, though, wind and water lash the palaces and churches with alarming frequency. "Acqua alta," the term locals use for when the water gets high, pours through the city, most recently even flooding the great church of San Marco. According to The Guardian, it's only the sixth recorded time the church has flooded in the last 1200 years, but the fourth in the last 20 years. Venice is sinking, and this time it may go under.

Venetians have always recognized that human choices would shape their relationship with the natural world. The sixth-century Roman statesman Cassiodorus described the Venetians gorging themselves on fish, harvesting salt, and living in "scattered homes, not the product of Nature, but cemented by the care of man into a firm foundation." As Venice transformed politically first into a colony of Byzantium, then an independent city-state ruled by hereditary rulers, then an oligarchical republic, and finally into an empire with holdings across the seas, its residents understood that their fate would be determined at least in part by their relationship with the natural world, though not in simple or harmonious terms. Rather, as the French historian Elizabeth Crouzet-Pavan has shown, Venetians knew that the ecology of their lagoon was fragile and that either too much or not enough water flowing in or out could spell their destruction. They build up the thin islands that sheltered the lagoon. They engaged in complex hydrology projects to shift the flow of rivers. They watched as the neighboring city of Torcello collapsed in the mud, plague-ridden, malarial swamp.

I lived in Venice during the fall and winter of 2003, residing in a little apartment on the Street of Paradise, above an antique bookshop, right by the church of Santa Maria Formosa (the beautiful). I was studying how medieval Venetians told stories about their city, building rich narratives that linked the city's destiny to complicated networks of trade and culture that stretched across the Adriatic and Mediterranean Seas. Every day I would walk down streets that followed medieval paths and work with both textual and visual evidence in a library across from the great Basilica. Often I would wind my way through crowds of tourists and pigeons to the "prayer" door in the church, chatting with the guards as I made my way inside to stare up at gold mosaics.

How long until the great church is only accessible by boat, if at all?

Like medieval Venetians, the modern ones have turned to massive civic projects in an attempt to hold back the tide, patterning its Project Moses on similar works in Holland. Moses, a linked system of 78 gates, was proposed in the 1980s. Work began in 2003. Corruption scandals and incompetent management delayed completion, but it's scheduled to be fully operational by 2022. I worry, as do others, that at best a fully operational Project Moses would just buy time, but one cannot simply build a wall to stop the ever-rising waters and the fiercer weather caused in our warming world. We need global action.

There's a hope that the threat to Venice, the potential loss of so much beauty, might finally stir our political leadership around the world to action. If that were true, while so much could be saved, it would still be a sad indictment that only the Western European art mattered, rather than the millions or billions of people (often poor, often non-white) whose lives are threatened by a climate crisis largely of the West's making. Still, could the rising waters that imperil Venice prompt some sort of shift in mentality in those who have the power to help?

Signs aren't good. Even the regional council in Venice, meeting after the flood, rejected major measures designed to combat the climate crisis. Ironically, their council chamber started to flood even as they voted down the structural changes Venice -- and the world -- might need to take. If we want to save Venice, and more importantly save all the people whose lives are imperiled, I think we're going to need better leaders.


The Wall Street Journal


Bloomberg's ‘Stop and Frisk' Apology

New York's ex-Mayor turns his back on his own anti-crime policy.

By The Editorial Board

As New York's Mayor from 2002-13, Michael Bloomberg loved to brag that Gotham had become America's “safest big city.” Part of its success, he said, was the New York Police Department's “stop and frisk” policy, which took weapons off the street based on “reasonable suspicion.”

Critics called stop and frisk racist, which the Mayor forcefully denied. But now as he weighs a Democratic presidential campaign, he's apologizing for the policy, if not exactly repudiating it. On Sunday at a black church in Brooklyn, Mr. Bloomberg said murder fell 50% on his watch. Without this drop, “some 1,600 more people would have been killed while we were in office,” most of them “young people, with lives so full of promise, from black and Latino communities.”

But by 2012-13, he added, stop and frisk was eroding support for the police, because “far too many innocent people were being stopped.” By the time he left office, Mr. Bloomberg said, “we had cut stops by 94%.” Thus the apology: “I now see that we could and should have acted sooner, and acted faster, to cut the stops. I wish we had—and I'm sorry that we didn't.”

Hmmm. Mr. Bloomberg's regret is that he didn't realize more quickly, as murder halved, that stop and frisk wasn't still needed? No mention of racism or the policy's supposed illegality? This can't be the big apology progressives crave.

It's disappointing nonetheless for those who want a Democratic nominee willing to stand up to the politically correct left. Stop-and-frisk policing is a useful and lawful tactic in high-crime areas. If it was overdone in New York, part of the reason was falling crime and diminishing returns. Crime hasn't gone up since the policy was largely ended, but that doesn't mean it was ineffective in its heyday.

As for the law, federal Judge Shira Scheindlin ruled in 2013 that the NYPD's stop-and-frisk practices were unconstitutional and involved “indirect racial profiling.” But an appeals court pulled Judge Scheindlin from the case for having compromised “the appearance of impartiality.” Her ruling was stayed, and Mr. Bloomberg pledged to appeal. Successor Bill de Blasio ended the appeal upon taking office in 2014.

The shame of Mr. Bloomberg's half-throated apology is that it lends credence to critics of successful policing, even as the “thin blue line” is under political assault in New York and beyond. Will Mr. Bloomberg next apologize for supporting charter schools?

The New York Times

Democratic Debate Tonight

Ten presidential candidates will take the stage in Atlanta tonight for the contest, which starts at 9 p.m. Eastern on MSNBC.

Four runners lead the pack: Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders. Here's our analysis of how things stand.

Closer look: Much of the Democratic race has focused on taxes aimed at billionaires. But leading policy proposals would hit high-income professionals, not just the superrich.


The Los Angeles Times


Trump asks Supreme Court to shield his tax returns from investigators


President Trump asked the Supreme Court on Thursday to shield him from a New York grand jury's demand to see his tax returns and other financial records, setting the stage for a constitutional clash over whether the president has “absolute immunity” from being investigated or prosecuted.

It is the first of two appeals from Trump that seek to protect his tax returns from investigators. The House Oversight Committee has been seeking the same records, and on Wednesday, the full U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington refused to block the subpoena. Trump's lawyers said they would appeal that case to the Supreme Court as well.

The justices are not required to hear Trump's appeal or to decide the cases. But the pair of appeals when put together raise significant questions about the constitutional separation of powers and whether the president has a privacy right to shield his personal records from congressional investigators or state prosecutors.

If the justices vote to hear Trump's plea, it could result in a major election-year ruling on whether a president is above the law while in office.

“We have filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court seeking to overturn the 2nd Circuit decision regarding a subpoena issued by the New York County district attorney,” said Jay Sekulow, counsel to the president. “The 2nd Circuit decision is wrong and should be reversed.”

The Supreme Court has never before said the president was immune or shielded from all investigations while in office. However, the Constitution says the president may be removed from office only through impeachment by the House and a conviction in the Senate.

The New York prosecutors who sought the tax returns are expected to file a response within 10 days. Meanwhile, Trump's lawyers are expected to move quickly to appeal the ruling involving House investigators. The justices may take some time to decide on what to do.

The New York investigation does not concern Trump's actions as president. Rather, Dist. Atty. Cyrus Vance Jr. is said to be investigating hush-money payments to two women who allege they had affairs with Trump. As part of its investigation, the grand jury sought eight years of the Trump Organization's financial records from Mazars USA, its accounting firm, including Trump's personal tax returns.

<< more >>


The Washington Post


Radio host says he was fired on-air after criticizing Trump. The station tells a different story.

By Derek Hawkins,  Kim Bellware and  Hannah Knowles

A conservative radio station in Colorado is disputing claims by one of its hosts that the station fired him mid-show last weekend just as he was airing disapproval of President Trump. As host Craig Silverman and executives with the Denver-based 710 KNUS shared their view of events, the incident underscored the growing isolation of conservatives whose viewpoints reflect anything but unwavering support of Trump.

Silverman was not fired but was taken off air because of his decision to move forward with appearing on a competing station over management's objections, Salem Media Group General Manager and VP Brian Taylor said late Sunday — a statement Silverman said he interprets as KNUS backtracking to avoid violating a contract that requires 30 days' notice before termination.

“We have never told Mr. Silverman the position to take on Trump and impeachment,” Taylor said in an email to The Post. “Our hosts have the freedom to express their opinions on current events based on their own personal conviction. That goes for all of our hosts, including Mr. Silverman. Any suggestion to the contrary is simply untrue.”

Despite Taylor's clarification, Silverman said Monday that his future with KNUS remains unclear.

“I'm not sure what I'll do. I'm still processing,” Silverman told The Post. He said a key factor in his decision over whether to return to KNUS is if the station restores his show's archives to its site, including the Nov. 16 show in question. After Saturday's show, the station pulled the page for “The Craig Silverman Show,” along with its podcast archive, from its website.

“Why not post the podcasts?” Silverman said. "[Listeners] would hear exactly what I was talking about when they cut the mic — I was talking about the connection between Roy Cohn, and Roger Stone and Trump's new Roy Cohn, Bill Barr.”

When he first outlined Saturday's incident to The Post, Silverman said he finds the facts emerging from the impeachment hearings “damning” and wanted more than his three-hour weekend slot to express his views. So on Saturday morning, he emailed Taylor about his intention to go forward with an outside appearance, which KNUS management objected to: “if that's it, so be it,” Silverman wrote.

During his Saturday show, Silverman says he also announced his plans on-air. His microphone was cut later in the show, during a segment scrutinizing former Trump lawyer Roy Cohn. The station switched abruptly to network news before a higher-up came in to tell him, “You're done.”

Silverman, who has hosted his weekly show since 2014, alleges that his willingness to criticize Trump, whom he voted for in 2016, had long set him apart at KNUS. The station is broadcast by Salem Media Group, which promises conservative, Christian viewpoints and has a history of cutting ties with the president's critics. But nothing brought out Silverman's tensions with others at Salem, he said, like the Democratic-led inquiry into whether Trump abused his office to secure a foreign investigation of a political rival.

<<more >>




Hong Kong 

The ongoing protests in Hong Kong have reached a new and frightening phase. Universities around the city have been turned into heavily fortified temporary protest camps where demonstrators are collecting weapons and supplies. Several thousand protesters at the Chinese University of Hong Kong have barricaded themselves inside the grounds for three straight days. At another university, police fought back protesters with tear gas. All schools in the area have suspended classes for the rest of the week, the first time such a shutdown has happened since the protests began. The occupation of these universities, and an increase in critical injuries and violent skirmishes, have led Chinese state me dia to issue a dire warning to protesters: "You are on the edge of doom."


The Wall Street Journal


President Trump said a cease-fire in northern Syria is holding and expressed hope for progress in talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, with whom he met at the White House. 

Mazloum Abdi, the commander of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, a U.S. ally, offered a counterpoint, saying in a Twitter post that Turkish forces had launched attacks on the Syrian town of Tal Tamar, “causing massive displacement of the residents, in clear violation of the cease-fire agreement.”

Mr. Trump didn't address the other issues on which the two sides have disagreements, including Turkey's purchase of a Russian antiaircraft system and the U.S. determination to keep working in Syria with the SDF.



Predictions of an ISIS resurgence in war-torn Syria have come to fruition. According to a new Pentagon report, Turkish operations targeting America's Kurdish partners in northern Syria and the US retreat in the area have given ISIS an opening to rebuild. The Pentagon's Defense Intelligence Agency also said the diminished attention on counterterrorism in the area has given the terrorist group a greater ability to launch attacks abroad. The much-touted ceasefire between Turkey and Syria would theoretically help the situation, but Turkish-backed groups have continued to launch attacks. Ironically, a recent report by the nonpartisan Institute for Economics & Peace found a "dramatic decline" in ISIS activity in 2018.


The New York Times

Secret cables show Iran's role in Iraq

A leak of hundreds of secret Iranian intelligence reports reveals the country's shadow war for influence in Iraq — and the battle within its own spy divisions.

Working with The Intercept, The Times reviewed hundreds of reports and cables sent by the Ministry of Intelligence and Security, Iran's version of the C.I.A., from 2014 to 2015 that detail work by Iranian spies to co-opt Iraq's leaders, pay Iraqi agents working for the U.S. to switch sides and infiltrate every aspect of political, economic and religious life.

Closer look: Read the main takeaways from the report.

Another angle : The Iranian government, which has faced protests in Iraq and Lebanon over its outsize influence, is now being challenged domestically over gasoline price increases. It has blocked nearly all internet access.

The New York Times

Our revelations about Iran's power in Iraq

I'm Tim Arango, one of the leads on a team of 10 reporters behind the scoop The Times published this week about how Iran outmaneuvered the U.S. in Iraq.

News organizations are often competitors, but this was an extraordinarily fruitful collaboration that stretched over months.

The Intercept shared an unprecedented leak of secret Iranian intelligence cables with The Times, drawing on our expertise in the region.

We've maintained a bureau in Baghdad for more than 16 years, staying put — at great expense and risk — when many other news organizations moved on.

I took the lead on The Times's analysis of the material because I was the Baghdad bureau chief for seven years, including 2014 and 2015, the period covered by the cables. Those were the momentous years in which the Islamic State rose up and took control of about a third of Iraq.

What I saw in the raw, unfiltered documents confirmed and added depth to my earlier reporting, revealing Iran's use of agents, spies and bribery to infiltrate the highest echelons of the Iraqi government.


Iran has gone almost entirely offline in what may be the country's largest internet shutdown ever. The blackout is happening as authorities try to stem the rising tide of protests that have rocked the country since Friday. Internet watchdogs say the outage started Sunday night and continued through Monday. Social media often plays a key role in mobilizing protesters, but it's unclear if the outage, decried by activists, will actually help the situation. The latest round of protests started in response to a proposed fuel hike, but in reality, discontent over Iran's leadership has been brewing for years. Cutting internet access shows that the government is probably rattled by its citizens' demonstrations.


Numbed to political news

With impeachment proceedings underway and an election less than a year away, information is crucial. Yet many Americans say they feel disoriented by the rise of social media, the proliferation of online material and a flood of news.

“Now more than ever, the lines between fact-based reporting and opinionated commentary seem blurred for people,” said Evette Alexander, research director at a journalism foundation. “That means they trust what they are seeing less. They are feeling less informed.”

Details: According to one recent poll, 47 percent of Americans believe it's difficult to know whether the information they encounter is true. About 60 percent say they regularly see conflicting reports about the same set of facts from different sources.


Shipwrecked booze

Treasure hunters in Scandinavia have recovered dozens of cases of cognac and liqueur from wreckage 250 feet down in the Baltic Sea. The burning question: Is it drinkable?

The liquor sank with a Swedish steamship that was attacked by a German submarine in 1917, during World War I. The haul included 50 cases of cognac and 15 cases of Benedictine, a herbal liqueur.

Amanda Schuster, a cocktail expert, said it would be unlikely that the spirits would be safe to drink.

But David Wondrich, senior drinks columnist at The Daily Beast, said the cold water might have preserved them. Spirits, he said, “tend to keep far better than most wines over very long periods. I've tasted numerous not just drinkable, but delicious bottles from the 1910s and before.”

The world's oldest known booze is in the Speyer wine bottle, which dates back nearly 1,700 years. Scientists say drinking it probably wouldn't kill you — but it would taste terrible.



Fresno shooting

A shooting at a football watch party in Fresno yesterday ended with four people dead, six others wounded and very few answers as to who's responsible. Authorities say an unknown suspect walked into the yard of a home snd began shooting into a crowd. There's no indication the suspect knew anyone there, and police haven't published any details about the suspect's appearance or a possible vehicle description. After the shooting, officers were going door to door to collect security camera footage and possible witness statements to get more information.


Hong Kong
It was a weekend of intense battles and prolonged standoffs between police and protesters in Hong Kong. Protesters are still holing up in some of the city's biggest universities, and police are hoping to wait them out. At Hong Kong Polytechnic University, anywhere from 100 to 1,000 protesters remain inside despite police orders to leave. Some protesters have been reluctant to come out of the university for fear of being beaten and arrested by police -- which happened to another group that fled earlier in the day. Meanwhile, some pro-democracy politicians in the city are upset after members of the Chinese military were spotted cleaning up Hong Kong's protest-marred streets. The politicians want to know if Hong Kong's government requested public security and disaster relief assistance from China in response to the ongoing violence.  


The Los Angeles Times

No Statewide Stings of Minors Buying Pot

California state agencies send minors into thousands of liquor stores and bars each year to attempt to buy alcohol or cigarettes. The stings catch hundreds of clerks and bartenders selling to underage customers.

But two years after the state began licensing marijuana shops, the agency tasked with enforcing cannabis laws in California has not conducted similar stings targeting the state's multibillion-dollar pot industry, the largest in the country.

“Teen access, use and harms related to marijuana are skyrocketing,” said Scott Chipman, vice president of Americans Against Legalizing Marijuana, a leading opponent of 2016's Proposition 64. “Minor decoy programs are one of many enforcement strategies that could be useful, especially if there is sufficient media regarding the outcomes.”


The Wall Street Journal


Chick-fil-A said it would limit its focus on charitable-giving starting next year to education, homelessness and hunger. The move follows controversy over its donations to groups whose positions some perceive as antigay. Liberal groups and some customers have criticized past statements by Chief Executive Dan Cathy and donations by Chick-fil-A's charitable foundation that they said were discriminatory to gay people. Mr. Cathy, a Christian, said in 2012 that supporting same-sex marriage was “inviting God's judgment.” The company didn't say that it was responding to the criticism in making the changes. A spokeswoman declined to elaborate.


The Los Angeles Times

Calling on the Police

With tens of thousands of people sleeping outside every night in L.A. County, one of the most contentious debates is over what to do about homeless encampments and who should do it. A new poll conducted for The Times and the Los Angeles Business Council Institute has found that a sizable majority of voters countywide think law enforcement should assume a larger role, despite court rulings and settlements limiting such involvement. Plus, in case you missed it, read more findings from the poll as well as columnist Steve Lopez's series on homelessness in Hollywood.


The Wall Street Journal

More female athletes are talking about a taboo: their periods.

A combination of mostly male coaching ranks, a lack of sports-science research on women and public silence about the topic have combined to keep athlete menstruation in the background. But those dynamics are changing. Most girls begin menstruating between ages 11 and 14, and can lose their periods if their weight or body fat are too low. Female athletes are speaking about the importance of getting a period and embracing emerging research about how hormonal fluctuations can affect training and performance.

Years ago, menstruation was used as a reason why women and girls shouldn't play sports. Recently, female athletes have reclaimed their periods as a sign of strength—an indicator that their bones are strong and their bodies ready for heavy training. New York City Marathon winner Shalane Flanagan says she tells young athletes: “If your body is shutting down a normal, monthly thing, then that means there's something that's being short-changed: your diet or your lifestyle or something.” Athletes also are tracking their cycles via apps, looking for insight into how to plan workouts around hormonal fluctuations all month long.


The Washington Post


The most remote emergency room: Life and death in rural America

By Eli Saslow

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — A flashing red light summoned Dr. Brian Skow to his third emergency of the afternoon, and he hurried to a desk in a suburban office building. He sat in front of an oversize computer monitor, which showed a live video feed from inside a hospital room in eastern Montana. Two nurses were leaning over a patient on a stretcher, checking for a pulse, and squeezing oxygen out of a bag and into the patient's lungs.

“I'm Doctor Skow,” he said, waving into a camera attached to his computer, introducing himself as the presiding emergency physician even though he was seated more than 700 miles away. “How can we help you today?”

“We have a female patient, comatose and unresponsive,” one of nurses in Montana said. The nurse was short of breath, and she looked up at the camera mounted to the wall of the exam room as she attached monitors to the patient's chest. “She's a known diabetic. Blood sugar over 600. I — I don't really know. I haven't seen a whole lot of this.”

“You're doing great,” Skow said. “We'll walk through it together. That's why we're here.”

As hospitals and physicians continue to disappear from rural America at record rates, here is the latest attempt to fill a widening void: a telemedicine center that provides remote emergency care for 179 hospitals across 30 states. Physicians for Avera eCare work out of high-tech cubicles instead of exam rooms. They wear scrubs to look the part of traditional doctors on camera, even though they never directly see or touch their patients. They respond to more than 15,000 emergencies each year by using remote-controlled cameras and computer screens at what has become rural America's busiest emergency room, which is in fact a virtual ER located in a suburban industrial park.

At the cubicle to Skow's left, another doctor was examining a head injury in Kansas. To his right, a physician monitored a possible heart attack at a critical-access hospital in Minnesota. Meanwhile, Skow used a remote control to move the high-resolution camera in Montana, zooming in to check the patient's pupils for dilation and using a microphone to listen for breathing sounds.

“If she's in respiratory failure, we need to take over her airway,” Skow told the nurse. “Let's get all hands on deck.”

He watched on the monitor as a few more nurses and a physician assistant came into the hospital room to prepare for an emergency intubation. They needed to insert a tube down the patient's throat to put her on a ventilator, but first that would require sedating and temporarily paralyzing her with medication, which meant she would no longer be capable of breathing on her own.

“Let's get her down nice and hard,” Skow said, instructing the nurse to give the sedative first and then the paralytic. He zoomed in to check a bedside monitor that showed the patient's oxygen level at 100 percent and then switched over to another camera adjacent to the breathing tube that allowed him to see down the inside of the patient's throat.

“So there's the epiglottis,” he said, directing the nurse as she tried to navigate the breathing tube past the tongue and into the windpipe. “There are your vocal cords. You've got a nice view right there. Do you see it?”

“There's a lot of blood in the airway,” the nurse said.

“Yeah, I see that, too,” Skow said. He switched to another camera to check the patient's oxygen level on the bedside monitor and watched as it dropped to 95 percent, 93 percent, then 90. If the patient were deprived of oxygen for too long, it could cause permanent brain damage or heart failure. He switched back to look down the patient's throat. “Can you advance a bit further?” he asked the nurse. “You've almost got it. Just an inch?”

He watched the nurse maneuver the breathing tube as he drummed his fingers against his knee. During his own bedside shifts at the hospital in Sioux Falls, a city of 180,000, Skow had performed dozens of similar intubations under what he had come to think of as the standard conditions of an urban trauma center. He usually had another emergency physician nearby to provide backup, plus a trauma surgeon, a cardiologist, an anesthesiologist, and a team of up to 20 residents, ER nurses, and paramedics competing for space at the patient's bedside. But now on the screen in rural Montana, Skow counted a total of five people in the room. None were doctors. None had significant experience performing emergency intubations.

<< more >>


The Los Angeles Times


Santa Clarita shooting: Some fear active shooter training at schools can bring its own form of trauma


When gunfire erupted in the Saugus High School quad Thursday morning, students had mere seconds to react. They sprinted and threw themselves in a ditch for cover. They hid in closets, locked and barricaded doors with desks. And some readied for a possible fight, arming themselves with scissors or a fire extinguisher.

The range of quick actions by some 2,000 students and staff reveals not only how detailed active shooter training has become at schools across the country, but highlights a growing debate among school safety experts, some who are alarmed that increasingly aggressive drills have gone too far and risk becoming trauma-inducing events of their own.

The trainings sometimes contain graphic and realistic enactments — one in Indiana recently involved shooting teachers “execution-style” with a pellet gun— and may cause distress or even injuries for those involved, critics said.

“Going through these drills can be itself a traumatic event,” said Deborah Temkin, senior director of education research at Child Trends, a nonprofit research organization. “We really have to weigh that potential trauma with the benefit that could be gained.”

But lockdowns and sheltering in place are no longer enough, some school safety experts said.

Students are increasingly being taught a “run, hide, fight” strategy that focuses on how to decide whether to flee, hole up or go on the attack themselves — and how to make split-second decisions on what option could offer the best chance of survival.

The Saugus High shooting lasted only 16 seconds, killing two students and wounding three others. The 16-year-old student shooter died Friday of a self-inflicted gunshot.

The swift outburst of violence at Saugus reflected the time duration of school shootings nationwide. An analysis of 41 school shootings between 2008 and 2017 by the Secret Service's National Threat Assessment Center found two-thirds of attacks lasted less than two minutes and nearly half were over in under 60 seconds.

Not only has development of the drug Herceptin saved the lives of an untold number of women with a particularly aggressive form of breast cancer, but it also opened new avenues of research that have led to multiple other targeted therapies that...

“What is so important is to really empower every individual to make a quick 15-second or shorter decision, ‘What am I going to do now?',” said Joe Deedon, a former SWAT officer who runs an active shooter training company in Denver that teaches kids as young as sixth grade how to go on the offensive.

“We don't want you to be a hero ... and die,” Deedon said, “but yet, here are the options you have.”

But it's this choice-based approach that deeply concerns some safety consultants and educators who say it creates physical and psychological dangers with no evidence that it saves lives.

Sixteen states, including California, now require or encourage schools to carry out active shooter drills, according to one analysis, and 95% of schools nationwide conducted a drill in the 2014-2015 school year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

At many Santa Clarita Valley schools, including Saugus High, law enforcement coordinates training, said Los Angeles County Sheriff's Capt. Robert Lewis. The local sheriff's station runs two impromptu drills at elementary schools every year. High school and middle school administrators practice at least once a month — Saugus drilled just three weeks ago.

As school districts seek new ways to protect their charges, an industry of crisis experts has sprung up with courses largely based on law enforcement and security protocols — many with methods that have not been rigorously evaluated for a school environment.

<< more >>


The Washington Post


Revolutionary recycling? A new technology turns everyday trash into plastic treasure.

By Jim Morrison and Shoshana Kordova

KIBBUTZ TZE'ELIM, Israel — Eight tons of trash are piled high at the entrance of a small factory in this tree-lined kibbutz — rotting food mixed with plastic bags, dirty paper, castoff bottles and containers, even broken toys. But nothing is headed for a landfill. Instead, what's next is a process that could revolutionize recycling.

Within hours, the mound will be sorted, ground, chopped, shredded, cleaned and heated into a sort of garbage caramel, then resurrected as tiny pseudo-plastic pellets that can be made into everyday items like trays and packing crates.

“The magic that we're doing is we're taking everything — the chicken bones, the banana peels,” says Jack “Tato” Bigio, the chief executive at UBQ Materials. “We take this waste, and we convert it.”

Such upcycling is desperately needed by a world seeking solutions to the environmental challenges caused by the 2 billion tons of waste generated annually. Turning that trash into treasure has long held allure. Yet attempts have fallen short, and cynics abound.

UBQ says it has succeeded where others have failed, creating a radical technology that transforms garbage into the raw materials for plastics manufacturers and earns them a profit in the end.

And by diverting household refuse destined for long-term burial, the process will help to reduce landfill production of a powerful greenhouse gas while creating new life for hard-to-recycle plastic. The loop exemplifies a “circular economy,” in which waste is turned into something useful.

One skeptic turned convert calls it a breakthrough that could, in the best way, “create very serious disruption.”

“If we want to advance to a more sustainable future, we don't only need new technologies, but new business models,” said Antonis Mavropoulos, a Greek chemical engineer who is president of the International Solid Waste Association. He visited UBQ's plant here in the Negev Desert and came away convinced. “In this case, we have a byproduct worth a very good price in the market.”

Others are still dubious, though they have softened their tone recently. Duane Priddy is the chief executive of the Plastic Expert Group and a former principal scientist at Dow Chemical. Until a call last month with UBQ executives, he and his group had scoffed at their claims. Now they're keeping a more open mind.

“Although we remain skeptical, we look forward to evaluating UBQ products and continuing to learn more about the UBQ technology to further validate their findings and broad applications,” the group said in a statement. Should the technology prove commercially viable, “it could be a game changer for the global environment.”

The company's push is part of a broader effort during the past several decades as the colossal scope of the world's waste problem grew impossible to ignore. One approach has been to excavate existing sites, in part to recover potentially valuable debris. The strategy hasn't proved profitable, however.

UBQ aims to keep trash from ever going into landfills.

<< more >>


The Los Angeles Times


Google to offer checking accounts, deepening its push for financial data

Google wants more of your data, especially your financial data. Its solution is Google checking accounts.


Google is taking its deepest dive yet into the financial lives of its users with plans to roll out a checking account service.

Citigroup Inc. and a California credit union are the tech giant's initial partners for the venture, which will enable users to access their bank accounts through the Google Pay app beginning next year, according to people familiar with the matter. Other banks could join up later, the people said, asking not to be identified because the plans haven't been announced.

“We're exploring how we can partner with banks and credit unions in the U.S. to offer smart checking accounts through Google Pay, helping their customers benefit from useful insights and budgeting tools,” Google said in an emailed statement, adding that the accounts will carry federally guaranteed insurance.

The move is the latest sign of Silicon Valley's determination to muscle in on financial firms' territory, looking to expand their hold on customers and accumulate data on their finances. At the same time, it shows banks are more willing to pair up with technology companies in their quest to avoid getting shut out of the relationship entirely. In the Google arrangement, the financial institutions will handle most of the compliance requirements.

Google has spent years building out its payments capabilities, offering consumers the ability to send money to friends and check out both online and in stores through Google Pay. With the checking accounts, consumers will be able to receive their paychecks and make transactions solely inside the Google ecosystem.

“We're going to see more of this, but it's not the death of banking,” Bryce VanDiver, a partner with Capco who advises banks and payment companies, said in an interview. “Compliance is still being manged by Citi. If you look at banks' core competencies, compliance being one of those, they're really good at that.”

The Wall Street Journal reported Google's plan earlier Wednesday.

For Google, the quest for the trove of data associated with checking accounts and financial products is another step in its push to collect information on all aspects of people's lives. The Alphabet Inc. unit has a wealth of information on consumers' behavior from its flagship site, its popular free email service and its Android operating system, as well as from partnerships it has with the largest U.S. healthcare systems to analyze consumers' health data. Meanwhile, Google and other large tech companies are under increased scrutiny, with federal antitrust investigations around competition law.

<< more >>


The Guardian


The rise of microchipping: are we ready for technology to get under the skin?

As implants grow more common, experts fear surveillance and exploitation of workers. Advocates say the concerns are irrational.

By Oscar Schwartz

O n 1 August 2017, workers at Three Square Market, a Wisconsin-based company specializing in vending machines, lined up in the office cafeteria to be implanted with microchips. One after the other, they held out a hand to a local tattoo artist who pushed a rice-grain sized implant into the flesh between the thumb and forefinger. The 41 employees who opted into the procedure received complimentary t-shirts that read “I Got Chipped”.

This wholesale implant event, organized by company management, dovetailed with Three Square Market's longer-term vision of a cashless payment system for their vending machines – workplace snacks purchased with a flick of the wrist. And the televised “chipping party” proved to be a savvy marketing tactic, the story picked up by media outlets from Moscow to Sydney.

But not all of the attention was positive. After the event, comments on Three Square Market's Facebook page urged employees to quit. The company's Google reviews page was inundated with one-star ratings. And Christian groups – convinced that the implants fulfilled an end-of-days prophecy where people are branded with “the mark of the beast” – accused the company of being the antichrist.

Jowan Österlund, a Swedish tattooist and body piercing specialist whose company Biohax provided Three Square Market with the microchips, watched with interest.

For Österlund, microchip implants were not radical or even novel. He had lived with one for years and had implanted hundreds of other young, tech-savvy Swedes. For this community, the chip signified a seamless integration of biology and technology. They used the implants to gain access to their co-working spaces, pay for gym memberships, and even ride the train. With Biohax, Österlund was hoping to introduce this concept to a global market.

Three Square Market was a test case, the first company in the US to offer implants to employees on a public stage. But the highly charged reaction, which linked the devices not only to pernicious surveillance but to a vision of tech-apocalypse, raised a question that Österlund is still grappling with: is the world ready for technology to get under the skin?

<< more >>


New York Magazine


There Will Be No Turning Back on Facial Recognition

It's not perfect yet, but it's already changing the world.

By Lane Brown

On Friday, August 16, at around 7 a.m., a pair of suspicious appliances was found on a subway platform at the Fulton Street station in lower Manhattan and, an hour later, a third near a garbage can on West 16th Street. Initially, police thought they might be improvised bombs, like the shrapnel-filled pressure cookers that blew up at the 2013 Boston Marathon and in Chelsea in 2016, but upon inspection they turned out to be harmless empty rice cookers, probably meant to scare but not explode. Trains were delayed during the morning commute, but since that happens often enough without any terrorist help at all, the scariest thing about this episode may have been the way the alleged perpetrator was caught.

Minutes after the discovery, the NYPD pulled images of a man leaving the devices from subway surveillance cameras and gave them to its Facial Identification Section (FIS), which ran them through software that automatically compared his face to millions of mug shots in the police department's database. The program spit back hundreds of potential matches in which officers quickly spotted their person of interest: Larry Griffin II, a homeless 26-year-old the NYPD had arrested in March with drug paraphernalia. FIS double-checked its surveillance pictures against Griffin's social-media accounts, and by 8:15 a.m., his name and photos were sent to the cell phones of every cop in New York. He was arrested in the Bronx late that night and charged with three counts of planting a false bomb. (He pleaded not guilty.)

This might seem like a feel-good story: A potentially dangerous person was identified and apprehended with previously impossible speed and no casualties thanks to by-the-book use of new technology (or newish; the NYPD has used facial-recognition software since 2011). But zoom out a little and it looks more like a silver lining on one of this year's biggest feel-bad stories: The facial-recognition system that ensnared Griffin is only a small piece of a sprawling, invisible, privacy-wrecking surveillance apparatus that now surrounds all of us, built under our noses (and using our noses) by tech companies, law enforcement, commercial interests, and a secretive array of data brokers and other third parties.

In 2019, facial recognition may have finally graduated from dystopian underdog — it was only the fourth- or fifth-most-­frightening thing in Minority Report ; it's never played more than a supporting role on Black Mirror ; and in the Terminator movies, it was a crucial safety feature preventing the Terminator from terminating the wrong people — to full-grown modern worry.

A brief recap of the year of Face Panic:

This spring, we heard that the FBI's facial recognition database now includes more than 641 million images and the identities of an unsuspecting majority of Americans, which can be searched anytime without warrant or probable cause.

We also heard that spooked lawmakers banned police use of facial recognition in Oakland; Berkeley; Somerville, Massachusetts; and San Francisco, of all places, where Orwellian tech products are the hometown industry.

But everywhere else and in all other contexts, facial recognition is legal and almost completely unregulated — and we heard that it's already being used on us in city streets, airports, retail stores, restaurants, hotels, sporting events, churches, and presumably lots of other places we just don't know about.

<< more >>


The New York Times


Saving the Fire Victims Who Cannot Flee: Australia's Koalas

The plight of dozens of animals being treated for burned paws and singed fur is raising fears about climate change and the future of the species.

By Livia Albeck-Ripka

MELBOURNE, Australia — The victims were carried in one by one, their paws burned and fur singed, suffering from dehydration and fear. Their caretakers bandaged their wounds, swaddled them and laid them in baskets with the only thing that was familiar — the leaves of a eucalyptus tree.

As catastrophic fires have burned more than two million acres in Australia, dozens of koalas have been rescued from smoldering trees and ashen ground. The animals, already threatened as a species before these latest blazes ravaged a crucial habitat, are being treated in rescue centers, and at least one private home, along the country's east coast.

“They are terrified,” said Cheyne Flanagan, the clinical director of the Koala Hospital, in Port Macquarie, the only facility of its kind in the world. She added that what was happening to the koalas was “a national tragedy.”

Officials at the hospital began warning weeks ago, when the fires first ignited around Port Macquarie, 250 miles north of Sydney, that hundreds of koalas may have been “incinerated.” Rescuers have not yet been able to confirm the scope of the loss because some of the blazes are still raging.

The plight of the koala — a national symbol of Australia — has raised questions among conservationists and scientists about what it will take to preserve biodiversity in a country increasingly prone to intense fire, extreme heat and water scarcity, and which already has among the highest rates of species extinction in the world.

While koalas have evolved to exist alongside wildfires, the animals are facing new threats not just from climate change but also from human development, which has dislocated local populations, impairing their ability to survive fires. In some regions, scientists say, koalas' numbers have declined by up to 80 percent, though it is difficult to know how many remain across Australia.

“We have these unique animals not found anywhere else on this planet, and we're killing them,” Ms. Flanagan said. “This is a big wake-up call.”

<< more >>


The New York Times


3 Cows Swept Out to Sea by Hurricane Dorian Are Found Alive

The cows, believed to have been carried out to sea when the storm hit North Carolina, have been spotted hanging out on the Outer Banks.

By Johnny Diaz and Aimee Ortiz

Hurricane Dorian slammed into North Carolina as a Category 1 storm on Sept. 6, lashing the state with heavy rain, wind and flooding after it made landfall on the Outer Banks, a chain of narrow barrier islands off the main coast.

Rising floodwaters swept over the land, and a storm surge carried a group of horses and cows out to sea. To the surprise of residents and national park officials, three of those cows were recently discovered at the Cape Lookout National Seashore park on the Outer Banks.

The cattle are believed to have arrived at the federal park by swimming at least two miles across the Core Sound from Cedar Island, according to a park spokesman, B.G. Horvat. He said that the cows' caretaker, Woody Hancock, had identified them as being from Cedar Island.

“It's a tremendous story of how they made it,” Mr. Horvat said on Wednesday from the park, which has 56 miles of beaches and is known for its black-and-white-checkered lighthouse, surf fishing and wild horses. “If the cows could talk, imagine the story they can tell you of enduring that rush of water,” he added. “That must be incredible.”

The cows were part of a group of domesticated livestock that grazes on about 1,000 acres of privately owned land on Cedar Island, where they are cared for by Mr. Hancock and others, according to The Charlotte Observer, which reported on the re-emergence of the three cows.

Mr. Horvat said that cows and horses on the island were swept away by a surge of water of about nine feet or so.

Mr. Horvat said that park employees found the first cow on Sept. 7, a day after the hurricane. Two more cows, both yearlings, were found three weeks later. The cows appear to have a bond, he said.

“Ever since they found each other, they have been hanging out together,” he said. “They are just grazing on the North Core Island.”



LAPD & LA County Sheriff -- How are they doing?

We'll explore how listeners feel about their local law enforcement agencies. How safe do they feel? How good is the local quality of life in their home town and what can be done to make things better?

We'll continue this discussion tonight ..


from web site - MAIN ARTICLES

DHS and FEMA - Preparedness Newsletter


Individual and
This Digest is provided by FEMA to highlight community preparedness and resilience resources, an important part of FEMA's mission to help people before, during, and after disasters. We're building a culture of preparedness together.

Ready Tips

CERT & Communities

Children & Disasters

Financial Preparedness

Important Dates ..

About FEMA
Emergency Management and Response -- Information Sharing and Analysis Center
Homeland Security

Prepare. Plan.
Stay Informed.
This INFOGRAM is distributed weekly to provide members of the Emergency Services Sector with information concerning the protection of their critical infrastructures.

U.S. Secret Service releases new research on school violence

Evacuating a hospital in the middle of a wildfire

2020 National Level Exercise to focus on cybersecurity

"Making Mitigation Work" webinar series

Cyber Threats

and more .. .
LAPPL Law Enforcement News
Los Angeles
Police Protective
Daily Local & Regional NewsWatch - 2019 Archives

The LA Police Protective League, the union that represents the rank-and-file LAPD officers, presents a weekday digest of local news, which often includes the union's perspective.

The articles are often from local newspapers and national other sources,

Thay constitute but a small percentage of the information available daily to the community policing and neighborhood activist public.

But most of the material includes issues of some interest to the Los Angeles community-policing community.

Law Enforcement News

Georgia Sheriff's Deputy Killed In Shootout With Suspect
A Georgia sheriff's deputy was shot and killed Tuesday night in Augusta, authorities confirmed. The Richmond County deputy, narcotics investigator Cecil Ridley, was fatally injured at 12th Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in Augusta, Sheriff's Office Sgt. William McCarty confirmed. The deputy was conducting proactive patrols to curb gun violence in the area, which began last week, McCarty said. At some point, Ridley encountered a suspect and gunfire was exchanged. It's unclear what led to the shooting. The suspect was also shot and taken to Augusta University Medical Center, McCarty said. The suspect's condition is unknown. The Richmond deputy is the seventh Georgia law enforcement officer to die in the line of duty in 2019, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page, which tracks deaths throughout the nation.

2 Officers Shot At Michigan Apartment Complex
Two police officers were shot and wounded Tuesday as they investigated a reported assault at an apartment complex in southeastern Michigan, authorities said. Both officers were shot in the legs as they arrived at the complex about 9 a.m., Monroe Police Chief Charles McCormick said. The officers returned fire, striking a male resident. State police are investigating the shooting. McCormick said the officers were responding to a call about an assault involving a man working at the complex and the resident, who had a holstered handgun. One of the officers has been released from a hospital, according to McCormick. The second officer and the suspect are still being treated. No information has been released about their conditions.
Associated Press

Man Killed In South LA Car-To-Car Shooting
A man is dead Wednesday after a car-to-car shooting in the South Los Angeles area. LAPD officials say they were called to Van Ness Street near Gramercy Prak just before midnight Tuesday to investigate the shooting. A preliminary investigation found a car had been driving on Van Ness when another car pulled up alongside. Several shots were fired from the second car. One man was killed. A second person in the car wasn't hurt and is being questioned by police. No arrests have been made and no suspect information was available.

Man Shot In Chest Multiple Times In Chatsworth Apartment Complex, Female Suspect Flees In Truck
A man was shot in the chest multiple times inside a Chatsworth apartment complex Tuesday afternoon. Police responded to the 9900 block of De Soto Avenue near Lassen Street just before 4:15 p.m. The man, said to be in his forties, was taken to a hospital with multiple gunshot wounds to the chest. He was reported to be in critical condition. A large police presence could be seen from SKY9 outside of an apartment complex. Officers were clearing the building as they searched for any other victims as well as the shooter. Police said the suspect, described as a white female, fled the scene in a truck. Investigators remained at the scene Tuesday evening

Man Shot, Wounded In Van Nuys
A man suffered at least one gunshot wound in the Van Nuys area Tuesday morning, police said. Parademics were called to the intersection of Sepulveda Boulevard and Oxnard Street at 10:25 a.m. The unidentified man, only described as a man in his 20s, was taken to a local hospital. No arrested were reported. No further details were immediately released. 
FOX 11

Downtown LA Cab Driver Stabbing Suspect Charged, Held Without Bail
A Los Angeles man was charged Tuesday with capital murder for allegedly stabbing a 62-year-old taxi driver near a fast-food restaurant in downtown Los Angeles. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Teresa Sullivan ordered Victor Daniel Torres, 32, to be held without bail while awaiting arraignment Dec. 11 at the downtown Los Angeles courthouse. Torres is charged with last Friday's killing of Burbank resident Oganes Papazyan, who died in a parking lot near a Burger King at Grand and Cesar E. Chavez avenues. The murder charge includes the special circumstance allegation of murder during the commission of a carjacking, along with allegations of murder of a transportation operator, use of a deadly and dangerous weapon and three prior convictions, according to Ricardo Santiago of the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.

Man Who Murdered Handyman In 2008 Sentenced To 50 Years To Life
A man convicted for murdering a handyman in 2008 has been sentenced to 50 years to life in prison, the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office announced on Tuesday. Alan Machain, 37, was convicted last month for shooting and killing Cesar Valenzuela, 44, of South Gate. Valenzuela was hired by the owner of a triplex in Silver Lake to do maintenance and repairs in October 2008. Machain was allowed to stay in an unoccupied residential unit at the complex, according to court testimony. Machain shot Valenzuela on Oct. 8, 2008 inside of the home at least three times and cut off his left hand, according to the D.A.'s office. Valenzuela's body was found on Oct. 13 in a bathroom and his hand was never recovered. After officers identified Machain as a possible suspect, he fled the area before they could question him, a news release sent out by the D.A.'s office stated.

Woman Charged In L.A. With Illegally Importing Mercury-Laden Skin Creams
A 30-year-old woman was arrested Tuesday on federal charges filed in Los Angeles related to skin care creams containing dangerous levels of mercury that she allegedly sold through advertisements on Facebook with promises that the illegal products could lighten skin color, remove age spots and treat acne. Maria Estela Esparza Magallanes allegedly smuggled the creams into the United States from Mexico and marketed the products under the names Crema Esparza and Crema Jimena, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. Magallanes — who would face up to 26 years in prison if convicted as charged — is expected to make her first court appearance Tuesday afternoon in federal court in Fresno.

50 Arrested, Guns Seized In Central California Gang Takedown
Authorities say 50 people were arrested and dozens of guns seized in a law enforcement operation targeting the Norteno street gang in central California. State Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra announced Tuesday that the gang members are suspected of a variety of crimes in Stockton. The defendants could face charges including attempted murder, robbery, drug distribution and multiple weapons violations. In addition to more than 40 weapons, officers seized drugs including fentanyl, heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine. The operation was a joint effort between several local agencies and the U.S. Department of Justice.
Los Angeles Times

California — Capital Of Gun Control — Sees Three Mass Shootings In Four Days
California is one of the country's most restrictive states when it comes to firearms and top-ranked by gun-control advocates for its extensive laws. But the Golden State also has seen three mass shootings in four days and four in the last three weeks. Does gun control work? The recent deadly shootings are reigniting the debate, but statistics show Californians are less likely to be killed by guns than people in most other U.S. states. Despite the recent rash of gun massacres in Fresno, San Diego, Santa Clarita and Orinda, California has one of the nation's lowest rates of gun violence. Though figures are not available for the current year, the most recent statistics from 2017 show California has the sixth-lowest rate of shooting deaths, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And California's death rate per 100,000 residents has been falling — from eighth-lowest in 2015 and 16th-lowest in 2005.
Mercury News

Local Government News

Officials Will Update On Bridge-Housing Project For Homeless In Canoga Park
County officials will host a meeting focusing on a bridge-housing project in Canoga Park designed to help homeless residents to transition into more permanent housing. The project is a collaboration between the county and city, aiming to transform a one-story building with 16,000 square feet of office space into a center for homeless people. Introduced by Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl's office, the project aims to convert a former mental-health facility at 7621 Canoga Ave. into short-term housing with services that will focus on people who are homeless in Canoga Park. The Los Angeles City Council approved funding in March for the project, which will house up to 100 beds, bathrooms, laundry facilities, a recreation room, dining area, conference room and offices. Residents will have access to job training, mental health care and other services.
Los Angeles Daily News
a little about us
programs / projects
plans and platforms
library and archive
join us, get involved