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FILE PHOTO: A Venezuelan flag hangs from a building near the national election board as acting President Maduro registered as a candidate for president in the April 14 election in Caracas
FILE PHOTO: A Venezuelan flag hangs from a building in Caracas March 11, 2013. REUTERS/Tomas Bravo/File Photo

March 18, 2019

By Phil Stewart

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – As the United States makes its biggest diplomatic push in Latin America in years to try to oust Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, the U.S. military is zeroing in on a byproduct of the crisis: a strengthening of Colombian rebels on both sides of Venezuela’s border.

U.S. Admiral Craig Faller, the head of the U.S. military’s Southern Command that oversees U.S. forces in Latin America, told Reuters the United States had sharpened its focus on the rebels and increased its sharing of intelligence with Colombian officials. 

U.S. officials see a growing threat from both Colombia’s National Liberation Army (ELN) and factions of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) that refuse to adhere to a 2016 peace agreement to end five decades of civil war.

The United States believes the rebels are taking advantage of Venezuela’s crisis to expand their reach in that country and the scope of long-standing illegal activities, including drug trafficking.

“Our principal role working with our Colombian partners is to assist in intelligence sharing. What we know, we share,” Faller said. Asked whether the intelligence sharing on the rebels had ramped up as Venezuela’s crisis deepened, Faller responded: “Absolutely.”

The risks from the insurgents on both sides of the Colombia-Venezuela border add another layer of complexity to the crisis in Venezuela, where U.S. President Donald Trump says all options are on the table to remove Maduro from office.

U.S. officials have uniformly emphasized diplomatic and economic tools to accelerate Maduro’s departure, like sanctions, but Faller acknowledged the U.S. military stood ready to provide options if needed.

At the same time, he noted that no U.S. allies in the region were seeking a military solution to the crisis in Venezuela.

“My job is to be ready, be on the balls of my feet, at all times. But we’ve been talking to our partners and no one, no one, thinks that a military option is a good idea,” Faller said.

Opposition leader Juan Guaido says the May 2018 vote in which Maduro won a second term was a sham and he invoked a constitutional provision on Jan. 23 to assume the interim presidency. Most Western nations including the United States have backed Guaido as head of state.

Maduro, a socialist who has denounced Guaido as a U.S. puppet seeking to foment a coup, retains the support of the armed forces and control of state functions.

Jeremy McDermott, a Colombia-based expert on the insurgencies and co-founder of the Insight Crime think tank, said he believed the Colombian insurgents were operating in Venezuela with at least the blessing of Maduro.

The rebels’ aim is to exploit Venezuela’s lawlessness for safe haven and for economic gain, he said. But he noted there could be an added benefit for Maduro.

“If the Americans invade, or if Colombia promotes a military intervention, then they (Maduro’s supporters) would be able to call upon an insurgent force with more than 50 years of combat experience,” McDermott said.

Asked whether the United States had any evidence of communications between Maduro and the guerrilla groups, Faller said: “I’d rather not discuss the details of the exact connections but we’re watching it very closely.”

Venezuela’s Information Ministry and ELN contacts did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Colombia’s ambassador to Washington, former Vice President Francisco Santos, said ELN and FARC factions had long been present in Venezuela but had grown stronger and more integrated into the country as a result of Venezuela’s crisis.

“They have become the paramilitary groups of the Maduro administration,” Santos told Reuters.

ELN EXPANSION

A Cuba-inspired Marxist insurgency formed in 1964, the ELN claimed responsibility for a January car bomb attack against a police academy in Bogota that killed 22 cadets. It was an escalation by insurgents who have kidnapped Colombian security forces, attacked police stations and bombed oil pipelines.

U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, say the ELN is increasingly using Venezuelan territory to carry out narco-trafficking and illegal mining of minerals like gold and coltan.

The Venezuelan security forces were believed to be getting kickbacks from the guerrillas, they said.

One U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the U.S. collection of intelligence on the guerrilla groups had increased in recent weeks, including looking at the militants’ activities on the Venezuelan side of the border with Colombia.

Several U.S. officials said they believed senior leaders of both the ELN and the so-called FARC dissidents who do not adhere to the peace agreement were now located inside of Venezuela.

“Their leadership is there,” a second U.S. official said, who also declined to be named, without providing evidence.

An International Crisis Group report cited estimates that the ELN had been active in a minimum of 13 of Venezuela’s 24 states, “absorbing new recruits and shifting from a guerrilla force that embraced armed resistance against Colombia’s ruling elites to one with many core operations in Venezuela.”

Opposition lawmakers in Venezuela also regularly denounce growing ELN activities in Venezuela, but Reuters has been unable to independently verify the extent of its presence or its operations.

Faller declined to discuss any specifics about the collection of U.S. intelligence or identify which insurgent leaders were in Venezuela.

But he acknowledged the trend and added that the flow of illegal narcotics “from Colombia into Venezuela, and then from Venezuela out in the region, has risen as the misery of the Venezuelan people has risen.”

“It’s essentially a lawless region now inside Venezuela along the border and the FARC dissidents and the ELN have taken advantage of that,” Faller said, adding: “They operate with impunity inside Venezuela.”

Santos said the big concern for Colombia was that the strengthening rebel forces would upend efforts to crack down on narcotics trafficking.

“That’s a big worry because in this situation of chaos, obviously they are going to grow. They are growing,” he said.

(Reporting by Phil Stewart; Additional reporting by Brian Ellsworth in Caracas and Helen Murphy in Bogota; Editing by Mary Milliken and Peter Cooney)

Source: OANN

The Daily Caller Shop | Contributor

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Source: The Daily Caller

Researchers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, are cooking up an alien atmosphere right here on Earth.

In a new study, JPL scientists used a high-temperature “oven” to heat a mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide to more than 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit (1,100 Celsius), about the temperature of molten lava. The aim was to simulate conditions that might be found in the atmospheres of a special class of exoplanets (planets outside our solar system) called “hot Jupiters.”

Hot Jupiters are gas giants that orbit very close to their parent star, unlike any of the planets in our solar system. While Earth takes 365 days to orbit the Sun, hot Jupiters orbit their stars in less than 10 days. Their close proximity to a star means their temperatures can range from 1,000 to 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit (530 to 2,800 degrees Celsius) or even hotter. By comparison, a hot day on the surface of Mercury (which takes 88 days to orbit the Sun) reaches about 800 degrees Fahrenheit (430 degrees Celsius).

“Though it is impossible to exactly simulate in the laboratory these harsh exoplanet environments, we can come very close,” said JPL principal scientist Murthy Gudipati, who leads the group that conducted the new study, published last month in the Astrophysical Journal.

The team started with a simple chemical mixture of mostly hydrogen gas and 0.3 percent carbon monoxide gas. These molecules are extremely common in the universe and in early solar systems, and they could reasonably compose the atmosphere of a hot Jupiter. Then the team heated the mixture to between 620 and 2,240 degrees Fahrenheit (330 and 1,230 Celsius).

The team also exposed the laboratory brew to a high dose of ultraviolet radiation — similar to what a hot Jupiter would experience orbiting so close to its parent star. The UV light proved to be a potent ingredient. It was largely responsible for some of the study’s more surprising results about the chemistry that might be taking place in these toasty atmospheres.

Hot Jupiters are large by planet standards, and they radiate more light than cooler planets. Such factors have allowed astronomers to gather more information about their atmospheres than most other types of exoplanets. Those observations reveal that many hot Jupiter atmospheres are opaque at high altitudes. Although clouds might explain the opacity, they become less and less sustainable as the pressure decreases, and the opacity has been observed where the atmospheric pressure is very low.

Scientists have been looking for potential explanations other than clouds, and aerosols — solid particles suspended in the atmosphere — could be one. However, according to the JPL researchers, scientists were previously unaware of how aerosols might develop in hot Jupiter atmospheres. In the new experiment, adding UV light to the hot chemical mix did the trick.

“This result changes the way we interpret those hazy hot Jupiter atmospheres,” said Benjamin Fleury, a JPL research scientist and lead author of the study. “Going forward, we want to study the properties of these aerosols. We want to better understand how they form, how they absorb light and how they respond to changes in the environment. All that information can help astronomers understand what they’re seeing when they observe these planets.”

The study yielded another surprise: The chemical reactions produced significant amounts of carbon dioxide and water. While water vapor has been found in hot Jupiter atmospheres, scientists for the most part expect this precious molecule to form only when there is more oxygen than carbon. The new study shows that water can form when carbon and oxygen are present in equal amounts. (Carbon monoxide contains one carbon atom and one oxygen atom.) And while some carbon dioxide (one carbon and two oxygen atoms) formed without the addition of UV radiation, the reactions accelerated with the addition of simulated starlight.

“These new results are immediately useful for interpreting what we see in hot Jupiter atmospheres,” said JPL exoplanet scientist Mark Swain, a study coauthor. “We’ve assumed that temperature dominates the chemistry in these atmospheres, but this shows we need to look at how radiation plays a role.”

With next-generation tools like NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, set to launch in 2021, scientists might produce the first detailed chemical profiles of exoplanet atmospheres, and it’s possible that some of those first subjects will be hot Jupiters. These studies will help scientists learn how other solar systems form and how similar or different they are to our own.

For the JPL researchers, the work has just begun. Unlike a typical oven, theirs seals the gas in tightly to prevent leaks or contamination, and it allows the researchers to control the pressure of the gas as the temperature rises. With this hardware, they can now simulate exoplanet atmospheres at even higher temperatures: close to 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit (1,600 degrees Celsius).

“It’s been an ongoing challenge figuring out how to design and operate this system successfully, since most standard components such as glass or aluminum melt at these temperatures,” said JPL research scientist Bryana Henderson, a coauthor of the study. “We’re still learning how to push these boundaries while safely handling these chemical processes in the lab. But at the end of the day, the exciting results that come out of these experiments is worth all the extra effort.”


Alex Jones exposes the massive push around the globe to use corporate media to smear pro-liberty movements.

Source: InfoWars

The outlook for the millennial generation, those who were born in the two decades before the new millennium, are bleak.

Student debt is only one of the burdens. There is also the lack of attractive jobs. Even worse are the inclinations toward socialism that comes attractively packaged as more democracy. Yet there is a solution.

This way out is more capitalism. In as much as free capitalism works as an engine of rising productivity, the living standards can rise. Capitalism creates wealth and promotes prosperity.

Millennials need not worry when their income gives them high purchasing power. Then, even a precarious job situation will provide a good living, quite different from the overall misery that would come with more socialism.

The vision of an anarcho-capitalist order with a highly productive economy and a stateless society stands in stark contrast to the contemporary social-democratic, ‘liberal’ system of governance which marches on to more government spending, more public debt, more regulation, lower productivity, and less purchasing power of the salaries.

The inner workings of the present social-democratic system lead to higher taxes and more contributions. Public debt continues to rise. The endpoint of the existing system of party democracy, social welfare, and state capitalism is not stability, wealth, and liberty but state bankruptcy, misery, and suppression.

The policy agenda of the modern democracy asserts that government could prevent and cure unemployment, economic crises, recessions, depressions, inflation, deflation, and inequality and that the state could provide education, healthcare, and social security for all. The promises of rising incomes and employment dominate the political campaigns. Yet politics has never attained these assertions. In the time to come, these claims will be even less fulfilled.

Socialist policies do not work. They do not work by necessity because they destroy productivity, and productivity is the key to prosperity. The answer to the challenges of the new millennium is not more state interventionism, but to eliminate politics and the state. We must do away with the conventional economic and social policies. Not more welfare state and government intervention are the answer but less state and more free capitalism.

What took place with manufacturing and basic services will encompass sophisticated workplaces. Machines will take over. Job security is a thing of the past. A college degree serves no longer as an insurance policy against unemployment. Yet the new technologies contain the solution of the problems they present. While technological progress destroys occupations, innovations make the economy more productive. Not growth and jobs are the key to the future but higher productivity.

Democratic socialism will not save the millennials, but anarcho-capitalism will.

New tools will make the political apparatus obsolete and allow the privatization of the functions of government, of public administration, and of the judicial system. With the end of party politics and of the monopolistic state dominance, a colossal financial burden will fall from the shoulders of the population.

In a world without a state in the conventional sense, the cost of living would be a fraction of today and obligatory contributions would take only a negligible part of income. Productivity would be so high that the purchasing power of the salaries would do away with the anxieties about job security and of paying the bills.

Without a change to a libertarian order of a stateless society, the road leads to a system where the new technologies may become the deadly instruments of a comprehensive state control in the hands of a totalitarian regime.

In order to avoid a new totalitarianism, the answer is more capitalism and fewer politics. Such a libertarian order would do away with party politics through a system which has the legislative body selected by lottery.

A political system free of party politics together with a market-based monetary order and the private provision of law and of public security would minimize and finally abolish the state as a monopolistic organization of dominance.

An anarcho-capitalist order would open the way for the new technologies to do away with the avalanche of public policies and regulations and thus eliminate the present system, which is so inefficient, corrupt, unjust, and which is in its essence also undemocratic.

Over the past two hundred years, since the Industrial Revolution, technology has transformed human existence more than in all history. In the coming decades, innovations will change the world even more than happened in the past two hundred years.

Free capitalism together with the drastic reduction of the state and the abolishment of politics would do away with the financial burdens that afflict the modern citizen. State intervention in economic life does not lead to prosperity. The path to affluence is the withdrawal of the state and the end of politics.

The new millennium will belong to those societies that discard the administrative state and move towards a form of capitalism that is free of the state and of politics.

Capitalism beyond the state and politics is the future.


Policies pushed by far-leftist Democrats will literally end the national sovereignty of the USA.

Source: InfoWars

JP Morgan Chase & Co sign outside headquarters in New York
FILE PHOTO: A sign outside the headquarters of JP Morgan Chase & Co in New York, September 19, 2013. REUTERS/Mike Segar

March 18, 2019

By David Henry

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Responding to calls for more bank services for low-income consumers, JPMorgan Chase & Co on Monday began offering checkless accounts with access to its mobile app, branches and ATMs for $4.95 a month and no minimum balance.

The accounts come with debit cards, digital payments and free check cashing, but do not allow overdrafts.

Fees for overdrafts generated significant revenue for banks in the past. They have angered customers, brought down the wrath of politicians and discouraged people with low incomes from using banks.

Thasunda Duckett, chief executive of Chase Consumer Banking, said she hoped the new accounts will attract more low-income individuals and people who have never had bank accounts.

“The very first step in building financial health really starts with a bank account,” Duckett said.

The annual cost of $60 for the new accounts compares with charges of $200 to $500 a year at check cashing and money order services, she said.

Some 6.5 percent of U.S. households had no one with a bank account in 2017, according to a study by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

Regulators have been pushing banks to do more to attract low-income customers. “Financial inclusion” has become a rallying cry for groups trying to help people out of poverty.

JPMorgan’s move comes after competitors Bank of America Corp and Citigroup Inc introduced similar accounts.

The new accounts mark an expansion of low-cost services because JPMorgan has 16,000 ATMs and 5,000 U.S. branches, second only to Wells Fargo & Co.

Since 2012, JPMorgan has offered a prepaid debit card with many banking services for $4.95 a month. But customers said that card, called Liquid, came up short. It could not be used for Uber taxi rides and car rentals, for example.

The new account, called Secure, offers those features.

Financial technology startups, such as Chime and SoFi, offer accounts with large networks of ATMs and without monthly fees. Chase’s fee, Duckett said, provides ATMs that accept checks and bankers to question in person.

The accounts will make “some money,” she said, but be less profitable than the bank’s other businesses.

Before the financial crisis, banks widely offered free checking, making money on overdrafts and merchant fees on debit cards. Post-crisis reforms slashed those fees and free accounts were cut back.

Now that banks have built digital tools for better-off customers, the services can be extended to people with lower incomes.

(Reporting by David Henry in New York Additional reporting by Anna Irrera; Editing by Tom Brown)

Source: OANN

Most states ban texting behind the wheel, but a legislative proposal could make Nevada one of the first states to allow police to use a contentious technology to find out if a person was using a cellphone during a car crash.

The measure is igniting privacy concerns and has led lawmakers to question the practicality of the technology, even while acknowledging the threat of distracted driving.

The future of the Nevada proposal isn't clear. A similar measure introduced in 2017 failed in the New York Legislature, but lawmakers are considering it again.

Law enforcement officials argue that distracted driving is underreported and that weak punishments do little to stop drivers from texting, scrolling or otherwise using their phones. Adding to the problem, they say there is no consistent police practice that holds those drivers accountable for traffic crashes, unlike drunken driving.

If the Nevada measure passes, it would allow police to use a device known as the "textalyzer," which connects to a cellphone and looks for user activity, such as opening a Facebook messenger call screen. It is made by Israel-based company Cellebrite, which says the technology does not access or store personal content.

It has not been tested in the field and is not being used by any law enforcement agencies. The company said the device could be tested in the field if the Nevada legislation passes.

Advocate Ben Lieberman, who lost his 19-year-old son to a crash where a driver had been texting, has become the face of the push for the device. The New York resident urged a panel of Nevada lawmakers to support the measure earlier this month, saying distracted driving should hold a greater social stigma.

"When I was growing up, drunk driving was a joke. Now it's not a joke," he told lawmakers earlier this month. "Device use is a joke. Make it so it's not funny."

Opponents air concerns that the measure violates the Fourth Amendment, which protects against unreasonable search and seizure.

Jay Stanley, a senior policy analyst at the American Civil Liberties Union, also raised questions over how the software will work and if it will be open sourced so the public can ensure it doesn't access personal content.

Lieberman points to a paper by Ric Simmons, a professor at Ohio State University's law school, arguing that testing a cellphone after a crash is "minimally intrusive" and does not violate the Fourth Amendment.

In the initial version of the Nevada proposal, drivers who refused to have their phones checked would have faced a 90-day suspension of their driver's license. An amendment by the measure's sponsor, Democratic Assemblywoman Michelle Gorelow, withdrew the penalty and said police must obtain a warrant if a driver refuses access.

The amendment led Democratic Assemblyman Ozzie Fumo to ask if the legislation was necessary because police already can get search warrants to access cellphones.

"Wouldn't it be better just to give this technology to (the police) and so that they can utilize it after they get the warrant already?" he said. "Nothing in this bill is actually new, 'cause the law enforcement (agency) already has the techniques and tools that we're providing."

A search warrant on a cellphone can yield additional information following a fatal crash, but that practice is not uniform among law enforcement agencies, said Steven Casstevens, a police chief in Buffalo Grove, Illinois, and first vice president for the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

John Whetsel, former sheriff of Oklahoma County, Oklahoma, said the practice is not consistent among agencies because distracted driving is still a relatively new issue. Plus, laws vary between states and securing a search warrant for a phone can depend on an agency's resources, he said.

Gorelow, the measure's sponsor, argued that phone records only provide a "sliver" of information. Social media use, browsing the internet and playing games would not show up on those records, she told lawmakers.

"It's like a Breathalyzer that only detects tequila," Gorelow said, adding that the "textalyzer" would only show if a person was swiping or typing.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says 3,450 people died nationwide in 2016 from traffic crashes where distraction was an issue. About 14 percent involved someone using a cellphone, the agency said.

Law enforcement experts say figures on distracted driving are underreported.

"If you're the at-fault driver and you cause the crash because you're talking on your cellphone, you're likely not to admit it," Casstevens said.

New York is considering legislation that would allow police to use the technology to check a person's cellphone after a wreck. A separate New York measure would allow for a pilot program in Westchester County.

They come more than a year after Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo directed the state's traffic safety committee to study the technology.

Source: NewsMax America

Henry Rodgers | Capitol Hill Reporter

2020 presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke reportedly wrote a murder fantasy in which the narrator drives over children in the street, a Friday report detailed.

O’Rourke was exposed in a Reuters report as a member of one of the U.S.’s biggest hacking groups, called the “Cult of the Dead Cow,” the groups focus was to provide the necessary tools to those wanting to hack Microsoft computers. He also ended up writing bulletin boards, one he wrote when he was 15, detailing himself accelerating a car into a group of children and hearing them scream.

“One day, as I was driving home from work, I noticed two children crossing the street. They were happy, happy to be free from their troubles…. This happiness was mine by right. I had earned it in my dreams,” O’Rourke wrote in one of the t-files, according to Reuters.

Democratic Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke addresses supporters during a campaign rally on October 21, 2018 in Conroe, Texas. (Photo by Loren Elliott/Getty Images)

“As I neared the young ones, I put all my weight on my right foot, keeping the accelerator pedal on the floor until I heard the crashing of the two children on the hood, and then the sharp cry of pain from one of the two. I was so fascinated for a moment, that when after I had stopped my vehicle, I just sat in a daze, sweet visions filling my head,” O’Rourke continued. (RELATED: Texas Democratic Party Chairman Unable To Name One Beto Accomplishment)

O’Rourke launched his 2020 campaign for president Thursday.

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Source: The Daily Caller

FILE PHOTO: US. Senate candidate Beto O'Rourke comes out before singer Willie Nelson at the “Turn out for Texas Rally with Willie & Beto” event in Austin
FILE PHOTO: U.S. Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke comes out before singer Willie Nelson at the “Turn out for Texas Rally with Willie & Beto” event in Austin, Texas, U.S., September 29, 2018. REUTERS/Erich Schlegel/File Photo

March 15, 2019

By Joseph Menn

SAN FRANCISCO(Reuters) – Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke belonged to one of the best-known groups of computer hackers as a teenager, Reuters revealed today.

In an exclusive interview with this reporter for a forthcoming book about the group, the former U.S. congressman from Texas confirmed that as a youth in El Paso, he belonged to the hacking group known as the Cult of the Dead Cow. He also acknowledged that, during those teenage years, he stole long-distance phone service to participate in electronic discussions. Others in the group committed the same offense and got off with warnings; the statute of limitations ran out long ago.

In the group, O’Rourke wrote online essays under the pseudonym “Psychedelic Warlord” that could provide fodder for political supporters and foes alike. One mocked a neo-Nazi, while another was a short piece of fiction from a killer’s point of view.

The Reuters article marks the ex-congressman as the most prominent former hacker in American politics. It draws on interviews with more than a dozen members of the group who agreed to be named for the first time in the book, titled “Cult of the Dead Cow: How the Original Hacking Supergroup Might Just Save the World.”

There is no indication that O’Rourke himself engaged in the edgiest sorts of hacking activity – breaking into computers or writing code that enabled others to do so. After his active period in the late 1980s, the group became famous for releasing tools that allowed ordinary computer users to hijack other people’s machines. Though it was controversial, the resulting chaos forced Windows maker Microsoft to dramatically improve security.

For O’Rourke, the long-suppressed tale fills out an unusual portrait for a presidential aspirant. Born to a prominent El Paso family and sent to a boarding school and an Ivy League college, O’Rourke felt a misfit as a youth and played in a punk band before starting a small technology business and an alternative press outlet, launching him into local politics.

O’Rourke came to national attention last year when he came within three percentage points of defeating Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, energizing new voters and taking in record donations for a Senate campaign while eschewing special-interest money.

The few technology professionals let in on O’Rourke’s secret said it showed a deep understanding of technology and a healthy willingness to challenge traditions, attributes that O’Rourke stressed in his interview.

“There’s just this profound value in being able to be apart from the system and look at it critically,” O’Rourke said. “I think of the Cult of the Dead Cow as a great example of that.”

(By Joseph Menn in San Francisco. Edited by Kari Howard)

Source: OANN

Video grab of a police officer running after reports that several shots had been fired at a mosque, in central Christchurch
A police officer is seen after reports that several shots had been fired at a mosque, in central Christchurch, New Zealand March 15, 2019, in this still image taken from video. TVNZ/via REUTERS TV ATTENTION EDITORS – THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES. NEW ZEALAND OUT. AUSTRALIA OUT. Digital: NO USE NEW ZEALAND INTERNET SITES / ANY INTERNET SITE OF ANY NEW ZEALAND OR AUSTRALIA BASED MEDIA ORGANISATIONS OR MOBILE PLATFORMS . For Reuters customers only.

March 15, 2019

By Jack Stubbs

LONDON (Reuters) – A gunman who killed 49 people at two New Zealand mosques live-streamed the attacks on Facebook for 17 minutes using an app designed for extreme sports enthusiasts, with copies still being shared on social media hours later.

The live footage of Friday’s attacks, New Zealand’s worst-ever mass shooting, was first posted to Facebook and has since been shared on Twitter, Alphabet Inc’s YouTube and Facebook-owned Whatsapp and Instagram.

Facebook, Twitter and YouTube all said they had taken steps to remove copies of the videos. Facebook said it had deleted the gunman’s accounts “shortly after the livestream commenced” after being alerted by police.

But Reuters found videos of the shooting on all five platforms up to 10 hours after the attacks, which began at 1345 local time in the city of Christchurch. Twitter and Google said they were working to stop the footage being reshared. Facebook did not immediately respond to additional questions.

In a 15-minute window, Reuters found five copies of the footage on YouTube uploaded under the search term “New Zealand” and tagged with categories including “education” and “people & blogs”. In another case, the video was shared by a verified Instagram user in Indonesia with more than 1.6 million followers. The user did not respond to a Reuters request for comment.

Facebook, Twitter, Alphabet Inc and other social media companies have previously acknowledged the challenges they face policing content on their platforms.

The shootings in New Zealand show how the services they offer can be exploited by extremist groups, said Lucinda Creighton, senior advisor to the Counter Extremism Project. She said the attacks were shown live on Facebook for 17 minutes before being stopped.

“Extremists will always look for ways to utilize communications tools to spread hateful ideologies and violence,” she said. “Platforms can’t prevent that, but much more can be done by platforms to prevent such content from gaining a foothold and spreading.”

COMPUTER GAME CARNAGE

The gunman filmed and shared the attacks using a mobile phone app called LIVE4, which allows users to broadcast directly to Facebook from personal body cameras, according to the app’s developer and a Reuters review of videos available online.

The app is usually used to share videos of extreme sports and live music, but on Friday the footage recreated the carnage of a computer game, showing the attacker’s first-person view as he drove to one mosque, entered it and began shooting randomly at people inside.

Alex Zhukov, founder and chief technology officer of LIVE4 developer VideoGorillas, said the LIVE4 services transmitted footage directly to Facebook and his company did not have the ability to review it first.

“The stream is not analysed, stored or processed by LIVE4 in any way, we have no ability (even if we wanted to) to look at the live streams as they are happening or after it’s completed,” he said in written comments to Reuters.

“The responsibility for content of the stream lies completely and solely on the person who initiated the stream.”

He said the company condemned “the actions of these horrible persons and their disgusting use of our app for these purposes … We will do whatever is humanly possible for it to never happen again.”

New Zealand’s Department of Internal Affairs said people posting the video online risked breaking the law.

“The content of the video is disturbing and will be harmful for people to see,” the department said. “We are working with social media platforms, who are actively removing this content as soon as they are made aware of an instance of it being posted.”

But private online communities dedicated to violent content were still looking for ways to share copies of the video.

Members of a group called “watchpeopledie” on internet discussion board Reddit, for example, discussed how to share the footage even as the website took steps to limit its spread.

Reddit – which has over 20 investors, including Conde Nast owner Advance Publications – said it was actively monitoring the situation in New Zealand.

“Any content containing links to the video stream are being removed in accordance with our site-wide policy,” it said.

One Reddit user said in a post they had sent a video of the attack to more than 600 people before having their account temporarily suspended for sharing violent content.

(Additional reporting by Fanny Potkin and Tabita Diela in JAKARTA, Charlotte Greenfield in WELLINGTON, Munsif Vengattil in BANGALORE; Editing by Anna Willard)

Source: OANN

Supervisory Border Patrol Agent Joe Romero walks next to new bollard-style U.S.-Mexico border fencing in Santa Teresa
Supervisory Border Patrol Agent Joe Romero walks next to new bollard-style U.S.-Mexico border fencing in Santa Teresa, New Mexico, U.S., March 5, 2019. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

March 15, 2019

By Andrew Hay and Richard Cowan

SANTA TERESA, New Mexico/ WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The 18-foot-tall steel slats extend 20 miles across the rugged Chihuahuan desert in southern New Mexico, cutting through high sand dunes and brush.

On a recent day, there were none of the usual signs of migrant traffic – no discarded water bottles, clothes or trash. The radio on a Border Patrol SUV driving along the divide was mostly silent.

To many locals and public officials familiar with the area, the $74-million structure just west of tiny Santa Teresa marks a surprising priority in the Trump administration’s efforts to build a wall against illegal immigration, drugs and human trafficking.

“Most of us here say why spend that money? Just dead money going into the middle of the desert,” said Jerry Pacheco, president and CEO of the Border Industrial Association, a nonprofit representing industries in southern New Mexico.

The barrier, completed last year, provides an early peek at the administration’s efforts to provide the layer of national security President Donald Trump’s supporters demand. Although the fence does not break new ground – it replaces less formidable vehicle barriers – it is the longest section erected to date under Trump, who has said generally that he is starting in the most important places.

During more than two dozen interviews by Reuters reporters with the project’s opponents and advocates, few described the Santa Teresa stretch as having been a hub of illegal activity. Residents said they had found evidence of drug smuggling, such as packages of marijuana and other drugs dumped in the desert, and had seen individuals or small groups of migrants cross from time to time.

During a recent tour along the Santa Teresa-area wall – or fence, as some call it – a U.S. Border Patrol official explained to a Reuters reporter why the project was necessary.

“This was an extremely popular place for both drugs and people,” said supervisory agent Joe Romero, referring to the stretch next to New Mexico Highway 9 where the rust-brown slats rise above mesquite trees and soaptree yuccas.

The agency would not provide figures for migrant apprehensions by the Santa Teresa station before and after the wall was built.

Romero confirmed the Santa Teresa area was not typically a destination for the large groups of immigrants from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala seeking asylum in the United States. That is the group Trump has mainly been targeting.

But Romero said the Santa Teresa fence allows the border patrol to police the area with fewer agents and shift manpower to nearby urban and semi-urban areas where the most migrants are now illegally crossing. With agents tied up by large numbers of asylum seekers and their humanitarian needs, the under-staffed agency needs the extra personnel in areas where smugglers are taking advantage of these distractions, Romero said.

A ‘STATE OF EMERGENCY’

Trump’s proposed “great wall” extending along the border has come to define his presidency, just as Trump Tower has defined his real estate brand. He cites “an invasion of drugs, invasion of gangs, invasion of people” and says the only way to put a stop to it is a hard barrier along much of the 2,000 mile (3,200 km) southwest border.

Around 650 miles (1,046 km) of barriers already exist.

The problem for the president is that while his Department of Homeland Security selects possible building sites, including Santa Teresa, the administration generally needs Congress to appropriate the money. And Congress has balked at the billions Trump wants.

On Feb. 15, the president declared a national emergency, which he said would allow him to seize federal funds already appropriated for other programs and use them to build the wall.

On Thursday, the Senate voted to terminate that declaration, setting up an avowed veto by Trump that will be difficult for lawmakers to override.

Amid the political warfare, Santa Teresa is the first significant project to materialize under the president’s watch.

Critics in Congress, including some Republicans, say the project was about politics, not protection.

“They’re sending a message – they’re not trying to meet operational security needs,” said U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich, a New Mexico Democrat, of politicians who favored the project.

Others say expanding on existing barriers provides a relatively quick, easy way for the administration to argue that Trump is delivering on his 2016 campaign promise.

Gabriel Vasquez, a Democrat who serves on the city council of nearby Las Cruces, noted that the relatively small population in the Santa Teresa area meant the project would meet little public resistance. And the federal government already owned most of the land around the border there so did not have to spend time and money buying it from private ranchers or other landholders.

At least one other site for wall-building also is proposed in a desolate location: According to the Washington Post, the Trump administration plans a 31-mile barrier adjacent to a bombing range in the Arizona desert.

Democrat Tom Udall, the other U.S. senator from New Mexico, said he pressed federal officials to justify the Santa Teresa project before construction started.

“‘What is the pressure on this particular area, why are you doing that?’” he recalled asking. “And they said, ‘Oh in 2012 there were 300 people and in 2017 there were 500 that they know that crossed” illegally, Udall said.

By comparison, more than 300,000 migrants were apprehended in 2017 across the entire southern border.

Instead of building large, expensive barriers in remote areas, Udall and Heinrich say it makes more sense to invest federal dollars in high-tech detection equipment there.

They also want to improve infrastructure and inspections at the major ports-of-entry, including El Paso (about 15 miles southeast of Santa Teresa), where experts say the bulk of drug smuggling occurs.

Gil Kerlikowske, who was the U.S. Customs and Border Protection commissioner from 2014-2017, suggested that the emphasis on erecting physical barriers was recent.

During his tenure, Kerlikowske said, agents at southwest border stations spoke of the need for a big bag of tools: Predator drones, boats, helicopter support, remote video, ground sensors, research and development of tunnel detection and agents on horseback, ATVs and motorcycles.

“Border Patrol never mentioned walls” then, he said.

DEFENDERS OF THE WALL

Locally, however, the Santa Teresa fence has some defenders.

Former U.S. Representative Steve Pearce, now the chairman of the Republican Party of New Mexico, said that ranchers on the border with Mexico want a wall on their properties, believing it will not only stop immigrants from interfering with their livestock operations but also protect their families from violent drug cartels.

Pearce, an early Trump supporter, added, “I have always felt that the wall by itself has got to be supplemented” with a range of border enforcement tools, from more agents to technology.

Rancher Chip Johns, who said he has found bales of drugs dropped by fleeing smugglers and who sleeps with a gun by his bed, said he felt safer with the fence running along his 250,000-acre property. He hopes it marks just the beginning of a more extensive project.

To stop the wall after 20 miles, allowing drug smugglers to cross where it ends, would be “ridiculous,” he said.

(Andrew Hay reported from Santa Teresa, New Mexico and Richard Cowan from Washington; Additional reporting by Jane Ross and Lucy Nicholson; Editing by Julie Marquis and Marla Dickerson)

Source: OANN


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