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Elizabeth Findell | Wall Street Journal | Source URL

Escalating his feud with Austin city leaders over how to address the Texas capital’s problem of homelessness, Gov. Greg Abbott is planning to begin housing homeless people on state land.

The announcement comes just days after state officials began clearing people out from underpasses (Link) Monday, a move taken in opposition to the policy the city council adopted this summer allowing camping in public, which raised the visibility of the city's homeless population (Link).

Mr. Abbott’s office said Thursday that it will begin allowing people to camp on a 5-acre plot of state-owned land in southeastern Austin. The property will have portable restrooms, hand-washing stations and an agreement from local charities to service meals there, said John Wittman, a spokesman for the Republican.

“This is the governor following through on his commitment,” Mr. Wittman said. “He said he would clean up downtown.”

Austin Mayor Steve Adler said he appreciated any assistance in responding to homelessness in Austin, but said the city’s efforts will remain on finding permanent housing for people. City staff members over the summer recommended against putting resources toward designated camps, saying they often end up becoming permanent and taking effort away from permanent solutions.

“Ultimately, we don’t want people camping anywhere,” Mr. Adler said.

Before Monday’s clearing out of the state-controlled underpasses, Mr. Abbott had for months threatened state intervention and encouraged constituents to tweet videos of homeless people behaving badly in Austin, signaling his displeasure with the city’s policies. Austin council members and advocates for the homeless criticized him for pushing people with nowhere else to go into hiding.

The plan announced Thursday provides a new option, Mr. Wittman said, though he emphasized it is a short-term solution.

Austin Chamber of Commerce representatives, meanwhile, announced a longer-term effort Thursday to address homelessness. The chamber said it is forming a coalition with faith-based partners to try to raise $14 million to build and operate one or more shelters that can hold about 150 bunk beds.

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Both new efforts could have political implications on an issue where Mr. Abbott and other Republican leaders have accused the liberal city government of failing in leadership. Conservative state leaders have in recent years railed against Texas’ left-leaning major cities, focusing legislative efforts on overturning local ordinances.

On homelessness, Mr. Abbott has found increasing support from some city residents who say they are frustrated with the growing impact of homeless people.

Austin’s debate mirrors others around the country. President Donald Trump has threatened federal action against California cities (Link) for their high homelessness numbers. In Las Vegas, an ordinance passed Wednesday evening to outlaw public camping—the opposite of what Austin did—drew opposition this week from Democratic presidential contenders including South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg and former San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro.

 

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Darren Boyle | The Daily Mail | Source URL

Technology giants Google, Apple and Facebook have been accused of facilitating an online slavery market. 

An undercover investigation by BBC News Arabic found smartphone apps in Kuwait where potential buyers can scroll through the details of thousands of women available for domestic service. 

The women can be 'bought' for as little as £3,000. 

UN special rapporteur on modern slavery Urmila Bhoola told the BBC: 'What they are doing is promoting an online slave market.

'If Google, Apple, Facebook or any other companies are hosting apps like these, they have to be held accountable.' 

The investigation found that one market operates on Instagram, which is owned by Facebook. It is reported that sales are conducted through private messages. 

The tech giants told the BBC they are working with app developers to stop the illegal activity. 

They also suggest selling people online is against their terms and conditions. 

However, the BBC sent a couple under cover claiming they were newly arrived in Kuwait and were seeking domestic servants. 

They visited one site where women were filtered by race - with some people worth more than others.  

One advert claimed an African worker was 'clean and smiley', while a second warned the Nepalese person for sale 'dares to ask for a day off'. 

Some of the adverts are from people looking to sell their own domestic staff. 

Even one police officer was trying to sell his domestic worker who he described as 'very nice' and with a 'smiley face' and never complains. 

The officer claimed it was possible to buy a maid and sell her on for a profit. 

Although he warned that you should keep your maid's passport. 

The BBC team even received the opportunity to buy a 16-year-old girl who had been trafficked in from Guinea, West Africa. 

The owner said the girl, was not allowed any time off and did not have any access to her passport or mobile phone.  

Nearly 25 million people worldwide are estimated to be victims of forced labour, while about 25,000 human trafficking cases were recorded globally in 2016 - marking a 13-year-high - according to the latest available data from two U.N. agencies. 

The number of informal workers globally is set to swell as low-skilled labourers lose out to automation and others take short-term jobs offered through digital platforms, say labour activists who warn of the increased risk of modern slavery.

Two billion people - more than 60 per cent of the world's workers - are in informal employment, where they are not covered by formal arrangements, such as a contract, or lack protections including sick pay, U.N. International Labour Organisation data shows.  

Across much of the Gulf, most domestic workers are supplied by agencies who initially register them with the applicable government. 

The agencies then supply the staff to families who sponsor the worker and pay a large fee. 

However, the maid cannot quit and is not allowed to leave the country without the permission of their employer. 

According to the BBC, the new online marketplaces are bypassing the traditional agencies and undermining the conditions of domestic staff. 

The informal online trading leaves the women at risk of abuse. 

The 16-year-old girl from Guinea was sent home by Kuwaiti authorities. She told the BBC: 'They used to shout at me and call me an animal. It hurt, it made me sad, but there was nothing I could do. 

'Even now, talking about it, I'm still happy. My life is better now. I feel like I'm coming back from slavery.' 

Kuwaiti authorities said they have rules to prevent exploitation and trafficking. 

 

 

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The US military has doubled its spending on directed energy weapons over the past two years, and the investment is bearing fruit. Earlier this month, the Air Force successfully tested five prototype systems and is preparing to deploy at least two of them overseas by the end of 2020.

“We’ve seen a doubling of the [DOD] budget for DE from FY17 to FY19,” from $535 million to $1.1 billion, Mark Neice, executive director of the Directed Energy Professional Society, said Oct. 29 at the Association of Old Crows’ annual symposium. The funding is divided between the three military services and a number of program offices across the Defense Department, including the Missile Defense Agency, the DE Joint Transition Office, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

Frank Peterkin, a directed energy-focused scientist and engineer within the Office of Naval Research, noted that fiscal 2019 marked the first time the Navy overtook the Air Force in defense appropriations for DE, $259 million to $235 million.

DE technology “has matured significantly in the last five years or so,” added Kelly Hammett, who runs the Directed Energy Directorate at the Air Force Research Laboratory. “Directed energy weapons are emerging in the battlespace for all three services. You’re going to see them in your battlespace, whether you like it or not. They may be aimed at you.”

Hammett said that during the week of Oct. 20 at Fort Sill, Okla., the Air Force conducted tests of five DE systems—four high-energy lasers and one high-power microwave—as counter-drone weapons. The tests were part of an ongoing directed energy effort run by AFRL’s Strategic Development Planning and Experimentation Office.

They were “knocking drones out of the sky. … It looked like a very successful exercise,” he said, adding that the organizers are preparing more detailed results for public release.

Laser weapons work by heating an object until it catches fire, melts, or explodes. The microwave weapons work differently, destroying or disabling the target’s electronics with a short burst of extremely high powered microwave radiation. Unlike a laser’s tight beam, the microwaves propagate in a cone shape, meaning it can engage many targets at once. This makes it ideal for defending against swarms of large numbers of drones.

The Air Force has publicly announced plans to buy two laser weapons and one microwave from Raytheon. The first high-energy laser weapon system was delivered this month, the company recently said. It is mounted on a small ATV and works with the company’s Multi-Spectral Targeting System.

The microwave weapon, which the company dubs Phaser, comes in a shipping container-sized box, is C-130 transportable, and can be deployed within a couple of hours.

A Raytheon spokeswoman told Air Force Magazine the company plans to deliver the $16.2 million Phaser later this year, for deployment at the beginning of 2020.

Both Phaser and a laser weapon will be deployed overseas to try downing drones, as Air Force Magazine reported earlier this year.

“We have made it through acceptance testing [in the continental US] for the first laser system,” Michael Jirjis, who oversees DE experimentation within SDPE, said in an Oct. 29 email. “It performed better than we expected, and [we] are currently packing everything up to be shipped out in the next month or two. The first microwave system is to go through acceptance testing next month and will follow suit (packed up and shipped).”

USAF officials declined to say where the systems will go, but last month’s drone attack on a Saudi oil installation—which was claimed by Yemen’s Houthi rebels but blamed on Iran by US and allied officials—highlights the dangers in the Arabian Gulf. Service leaders have pointed to instances of armed, small unmanned aircraft near US assets overseas, or those that they fear could surveil bases or get sucked up into larger aircraft.

But it’s not just the threat from low-cost drones operated by nonstate actors that’s stirred the recent growing interest in DE technology, according to Hammett.

“One of the reasons [for the] significant increase in funding ... is that our near-peer adversaries are acting,” he said. “They are moving forward in a whole bunch of technology areas, [including] directed energy, that are alarming.”

It wasn’t that the US was being overtaken on the technology front, he said, but rather that America’s adversaries were more willing to deploy emerging technology before it was mature.

“We still preserve in many areas … a research and development advantage [over them],” he concluded. “What we don’t have is the risk-accepting culture … that will take a minimum viable product and field it.”

Editor's note: This story has been updated to correct Michael Jirjis' role within SDPE and to remove an erroneous reference to the Phaser system.


Air Force Magazine | Source URL

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We Have No Reason to Believe 5G Is Safe

Scientific American |  Source URL

The technology is coming, but contrary to what some people say, there could be health risks

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The telecommunications industry and their experts have accused many scientists who have researched the effects of cell phone radiation of "fear mongering" over the advent of wireless technology's 5G. Since much of our research is publicly-funded, we believe it is our ethical responsibility to inform the public about what the peer-reviewed scientific literature tells us about the health risks from wireless radiation.

The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently announced through a press release that the commission will soon reaffirm the radio frequency radiation (RFR) exposure limits that the FCC adopted in the late 1990s. These limits are based upon a behavioral change in rats exposed to microwave radiation and were designed to protect us from short-term heating risks due to RFR exposure.  

Yet, since the FCC adopted these limits based largely on research from the 1980s, the preponderance of peer-reviewed research, more than 500 studies, have found harmful biologic or health effects from exposure to RFR at intensities too low to cause significant heating.

Citing this large body of research, more than 240 scientists who have published peer-reviewed research on the biologic and health effects of nonionizing electromagnetic fields (EMF) signed the International EMF Scientist Appeal, which calls for stronger exposure limits. The appeal makes the following assertions:

“Numerous recent scientific publications have shown that EMF affects living organisms at levels well below most international and national guidelines. Effects include increased cancer risk, cellular stress, increase in harmful free radicals, genetic damages, structural and functional changes of the reproductive system, learning and memory deficits, neurological disorders, and negative impacts on general well-being in humans. Damage goes well beyond the human race, as there is growing evidence of harmful effects to both plant and animal life.”

The scientists who signed this appeal arguably constitute the majority of experts on the effects of nonionizing radiation. They have published more than 2,000 papers and letters on EMF in professional journals.

The FCC’s RFR exposure limits regulate the intensity of exposure, taking into account the frequency of the carrier waves, but ignore the signaling properties of the RFR. Along with the patterning and duration of exposures, certain characteristics of the signal (e.g., pulsing, polarization) increase the biologic and health impacts of the exposure. New exposure limits are needed which account for these differential effects. Moreover, these limits should be based on a biological effect, not a change in a laboratory rat’s behavior.

The World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified RFR as "possibly carcinogenic to humans" in 2011. Last year, a $30 million study conducted by the U.S. National Toxicology Program (NTP) found “clear evidence” that two years of exposure to cell phone RFR increased cancer in male rats and damaged DNA in rats and mice of both sexes. The Ramazzini Institute in Italy replicated the key finding of the NTP using a different carrier frequency and much weaker exposure to cell phone radiation over the life of the rats.

Based upon the research published since 2011, including human and animal studies and mechanistic data, the IARC has recently prioritized RFR to be reviewed again in the next five years. Since many EMF scientists believe we now have sufficient evidence to consider RFR as either a probable or known human carcinogen, the IARC will likely upgrade the carcinogenic potential of RFR in the near future.

Nonetheless, without conducting a formal risk assessment or a systematic review of the research on RFR health effects, the FDA recently reaffirmed the FCC’s 1996 exposure limits in a letter to the FCC, stating that the agency had “concluded that no changes to the current standards are warranted at this time,” and that “NTP’s experimental findings should not be applied to human cell phone usage.” The letter stated that “the available scientific evidence to date does not support adverse health effects in humans due to exposures at or under the current limits.”

The latest cellular technology, 5G, will employ millimeter waves for the first time in addition to microwaves that have been in use for older cellular technologies, 2G through 4G. Given limited reach, 5G will require cell antennas every 100 to 200 meters, exposing many people to millimeter wave radiation. 5G also employs new technologies (e.g., active antennas capable of beam-forming; phased arrays; massive multiple inputs and outputs, known as massive MIMO) which pose unique challenges for measuring exposures.

Millimeter waves are mostly absorbed within a few millimeters of human skin and in the surface layers of the cornea. Short-term exposure can have adverse physiological effects in the peripheral nervous system, the immune system and the cardiovascular system. The research suggests that long-term exposure may pose health risks to the skin (e.g., melanoma), the eyes (e.g., ocular melanoma) and the testes (e.g., sterility).

Since 5G is a new technology, there is no research on health effects, so we are “flying blind” to quote a U.S. senator. However, we have considerable evidence about the harmful effects of 2G and 3G. Little is known the effects of exposure to 4G, a 10-year-old technology, because governments have been remiss in funding this research. Meanwhile, we are seeing increases in certain types of head and neck tumors in tumor registries, which may be at least partially attributable to the proliferation of cell phone radiation. These increases are consistent with results from case-control studies of tumor risk in heavy cell phone users.

5G will not replace 4G; it will accompany 4G for the near future and possibly over the long term. If there are synergistic effects from simultaneous exposures to multiple types of RFR, our overall risk of harm from RFR may increase substantially. Cancer is not the only risk as there is considerable evidence that RFR causes neurological disorders and reproductive harm, likely due to oxidative stress.

As a society, should we invest hundreds of billions of dollars deploying 5G, a cellular technology that requires the installation of 800,000 or more new cell antenna sites in the U.S. close to where we live, work and play?

Instead, we should support the recommendations of the 250 scientists and medical doctors who signed the 5G Appeal that calls for an immediate moratorium on the deployment of 5G and demand that our government fund the research needed to adopt biologically based exposure limits that protect our health and safety.

Read more…

The New York Times | Source URL

The winter after Donald Trump was elected president, strangers began appearing in a parking lot on southern Washington State’s Long Beach Peninsula, at the port where the oyster boats come and go. Rather than gaze at the bay or the boats or the building-size piles of bleached shells, two men — one thinner, one thicker — stared at the shellfish workers. The strangers sat in their vehicle and watched the workers arrive in their trucks. They watched the workers grab their gear and walk to the docks. The workers watched them watching, too, and they soon began to realize that the men were from Immigration and Customs Enforcement. When the workers made eye contact, the officers nodded politely, but they said very little. For weeks, they just watched. Then the workers began to vanish.

The officers got someone at a restaurant in the town of Long Beach. They got someone else in a predawn takedown at the port. They arrested a man early one morning in nearby Ocean Park and spent the rest of that day looking for another in the town of Chinook. Then, another day, they went back to the port for another morning arrest.

The men from ICE made courtesy phone calls to the local authorities at the Pacific County Sheriff’s Office before making arrests, and local A.C.L.U. volunteers later obtained recordings of the calls, so it is possible to reconstruct the officers’ growing familiarity with the peninsula and its residents. “Yes, ma’am,” the thinner one said, in a call recorded that January. “My name is Officer Lonnie Miller with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. We’re going to be conducting an arrest out in the Nahcotta boat basin area this morning.”

The sheriff’s dispatcher sounded confused. “In where?” she asked.

“Nik-oda? Nik-otta? Near Ocean Park,” Officer Miller said, trying different pronunciations. The site was named after an 1800s Chinook leader who had been friendly with the white settlers. “Nuh-caught-uh,” the dispatcher said, gently correcting him. The officer continued to struggle in February. “The Nikoda … Nicotta tidelands area,” he said in one call. “The Nikoda boat basin … Nahcotta. I’m probably pronouncing it incorrectly.”

But as spring turned to summer, Miller was learning to talk like a local — “I don’t have a specific address, but it’s the Port of Peninsula, um, up in Nahcotta” — and he and his partner, a deportation officer named M. Curtis Dietz, were turning their attention to the inland neighborhoods of the peninsula, where the workers lived with their families.

Miller and Dietz could drive from the port to Ocean Park, a village of 1,600 people, in about five minutes. Much of the drive took them along Bay Avenue, a broad thoroughfare that cuts across the two-mile-wide peninsula, connecting the shallow, oyster-rich waters of Willapa Bay on the east side to the thundering surf of the Pacific Ocean on the west side. Small businesses flank the avenue: a hardware store, a bank, a taco stand, a grocery store called Okie’s, a restaurant catering to the retirees who have settled here in beach cabins and Cape Cod-style homes. Eventually the officers began spending more time around 1925 Bay Avenue, an apartment complex and trailer park known as Tijuanita. They lurked in a revolving fleet of unmarked vehicles — a blue Hyundai S.U.V., a gold Ford Taurus X, a muscle car residents remember as a Ford Mustang — outfitted with aftermarket flashing light bars. Twice in April and twice more in June, Miller called the sheriff’s dispatcher to say they were parked just outside the trailer park, conducting surveillance.

The officers were looking for people, and seemingly for specific people. For the peninsula’s Spanish-speaking families, this fact led to some urgent questions. How were the officers picking their targets? And how did they find them? To arrest someone, ICE had to know who was who, and who was undocumented, and who lived where, and who drove what — but how could its officers know all this?

As families waited for answers, they hid more often in their homes, drawing the blinds, skipping volleyball games and birthday parties. But life went on. In early June from the safety of one of the Tijuanita apartments, a woman named Gladys Díaz Tadeo, the mother of three young daughters, posted a photo on Facebook of her family’s latest art project, a smiling piñata in the shape of a cupcake, which her proud 4-year-old struggled to hold up for the camera. Comments came pouring in.

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United Parcel Service Inc on Tuesday said it won the U.S. government’s first full approval to operate a drone airline, which gave it a lead in the nascent U.S. drone delivery business over rivals Amazon.com Inc and Alphabet Inc.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) granted UPS’ Flight Forward drone subsidiary a Part 135 Standard certification on Friday. The company said the certificate allows it to expand its delivery service in campus settings such as hospitals and universities, but added that residential deliveries are years away.

The certification allows UPS pilots to fly drones beyond their line of sight and opens the door for the delivery company to expand Flight Forward. The fledgling unit is immediately doubling the number of drone flights it does for its flagship customer, Raleigh, North Carolina’s WakeMed Health & Hospitals.

“We’ll easily get to 20-plus flights per day, per drone,” said Scott Price, UPS’ chief strategy and transformation officer.

“It’s a business, it’s not a prototype or a test,” Price said of Flight Forward, which is paid to ferry blood and tissue samples to WakeMed’s central laboratory from points around its main hospital campus.

UPS said its latest certification clears the way for Flight Forward to add other campus delivery projects without seeking government approvals for each one.

“There are hundreds of campuses in the United States,” said Price, who added that UPS is eyeing drone deliveries on hospital, corporate and university campuses as it builds Flight Forward.

“This is a big step forward in safely integrating unmanned aircraft systems into our airspace,” U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao said in a statement.

Under the new FAA approval, UPS Flight Forward pilots may now operate multiple drones under one certificate.

Earlier this year, Alphabet’s Wing, the sister unit of search engine Google, was the first company to get U.S. air carrier certification for a single-pilot drone operation. It is testing home deliveries in a rural area around Blacksburg, Virginia.

Amazon, known for its splashy drone delivery tests, also has won experimental certifications to test its drones.

The FAA is writing rules for drone operations, including guidelines for sharing airspace with passenger planes and flying over populated areas.

Residential deliveries, Price said, are “years out.”

https://www.thedailysheeple.com/ups-gets-government-approval-to-become-a-drone-airline/

Read more…

We just witnessed the worst month for U.S. manufacturers in more than 10 years, and nobody seems optimistic that things are going to get much better anytime soon.  In fact, one expert is warning that “more damage” is coming if the trade war is not resolved; and, unfortunately, it does not appear that a resolution will be possible for the foreseeable future.

As I have been detailing for months, the entire global economy has been steadily slowing down, but some shocking new numbers that we just got indicate that our economic problems are really starting to accelerate.  So hold on to your hats, because it looks like things are about to get really crazy.  According to CNBC, September was the worst month for U.S. factories in more than a decade

The U.S. manufacturing purchasing managers’ index from the Institute for Supply Management came in at 47.8% in September, the lowest since June 2009, marking the second consecutive month of contraction. Any figure below 50% signals a contraction.

The new export orders index was only 41%, the lowest level since March 2009, down from the August reading of 43.3%, ISM data showed.

 

Those numbers are absolutely abysmal, and they were far worse than analysts were expecting.

Since December 2009, I have published more than 2,000 articles on The Economic Collapse Blog, and in all that time we have never seen manufacturing numbers this bad.

According to Peter Boockvar, the chief investment officer at Bleakley Advisory Group, we have “now tariffed our way into a manufacturing recession in the U.S. and globally”.  So those that have been waiting for a “manufacturing recession” to arrive can now stop waiting.  It is here, and it is going to be very painful.

All over America factories are starting to close down at an alarming pace.  This week, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards blamed the “sudden shutdown” of a steel plant in his state on the ongoing trade war

In Louisiana, meanwhile, Gov. John Bel Edwards on Tuesday blamed the sudden shutdown of a steel plant on tariffs. “While Bayou Steel has not given any specific reason for the closure, we know that this company, which uses recycled scrap metal that is largely imported, is particularly vulnerable to tariffs,” he said.

The closure of LaPlace, Louisiana-based of Bayou Steel will cost 376 employees their jobs.

All over the globe, manufacturing numbers are plunging at an alarming pace thanks to the trade war.  For a long time I warned my readers that the level of economic pain that this trade war would inflict upon all of us would steadily rise as long as this trade war persisted, and now the experts being quoted by the mainstream media are saying the exact same thing.  Here is just one example

“The manufacturing side is telling us something. It’s a combination of global growth and we’ve got a trade war that’s been going on for a year and a half,” said Christian Fromhertz, CEO of The Tribeca Trade Group. “That’s been freezing things up. The longer this trade war keeps going, the more damage it does.

Of course it isn’t just the U.S. that is being hit extremely hard.

Overall, we haven’t seen a slowdown in global trade like this since the last recession, and at this point container shipping rates are down a whopping 34 percent since the beginning of 2019…

Container shipping rates continue to move lower into the fourth quarter of 2019, according to FreightWaves. The drop in price comes as a result of the most recent round of tariffs discouraging U.S. importers from front loading orders. As a result, ocean carriers are looking to cut even more shipping capacity in hopes of meeting tepid demand into the back end of the year.

Spot rates on the Freightos Baltic Daily Index for China-North America West Coast were down 8% from last week, falling to $1,327 per forty-foot equivalent unit. Container rates are down 34% since the beginning of the year, despite the industry now being in peak season. 

For months, I have been sharing numbers that indicate that the entire global economy is heading into a recession.  But now the numbers are absolutely screaming that major trouble is imminent.

Winter is coming, and it will not be pleasant.

After the horrifying U.S. manufacturing numbers were released on Tuesday, U.S. stock prices immediately began falling, and the Dow ended the day down more than 340 points

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 343.79 points lower, or 1.3% at 26,573.04 after rallying more than 100 points earlier in the day. The S&P 500 slid 1.2% close at 2,940.25. The Nasdaq Composite was down 1.1% at 7,908.68.

Tuesday marked the worst one-day performance for the Dow and S&P 500 since Aug. 23.

Meanwhile, as is usually the case when economic doom erupts, the price of gold is soaring once again

Gloom for the economy is a boom for safe havens. A 10-year-low in a reading of U.S. manufacturing activity sent investors flocking back to the safety of gold on Tuesday, just after they let the yellow metal flounder to two-month lows.

U.S. gold futures for December delivery settled up $16.10, or 1%, at $1,489 per ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange.

The threat of impeachment looms over Washington, and it could potentially unleash political chaos like we haven’t seen in the United States in decades.

And at the same time, the global economy is deteriorating to a degree that we have not seen since the last recession, and many believe that what is coming will be even worse than what we experienced a decade ago.

Dark storm clouds have gathered over America, and we stand on the precipice of one of the most critical moments in the history of our nation.

Unfortunately, most Americans are still dead asleep, and many of them have absolutely no idea what is about to happen.

https://www.activistpost.com/2019/10/a-u-s-economic-slowdown-has-been-confirmed-and-we-are-being-warned-that-more-damage-is-ahead.html

Read more…

We just witnessed the worst month for U.S. manufacturers in more than 10 years, and nobody seems optimistic that things are going to get much better anytime soon.  In fact, one expert is warning that “more damage” is coming if the trade war is not resolved; and, unfortunately, it does not appear that a resolution will be possible for the foreseeable future.

As I have been detailing for months, the entire global economy has been steadily slowing down, but some shocking new numbers that we just got indicate that our economic problems are really starting to accelerate.  So hold on to your hats, because it looks like things are about to get really crazy.  According to CNBC, September was the worst month for U.S. factories in more than a decade

The U.S. manufacturing purchasing managers’ index from the Institute for Supply Management came in at 47.8% in September, the lowest since June 2009, marking the second consecutive month of contraction. Any figure below 50% signals a contraction.

The new export orders index was only 41%, the lowest level since March 2009, down from the August reading of 43.3%, ISM data showed.

 

Those numbers are absolutely abysmal, and they were far worse than analysts were expecting.

Since December 2009, I have published more than 2,000 articles on The Economic Collapse Blog, and in all that time we have never seen manufacturing numbers this bad.

According to Peter Boockvar, the chief investment officer at Bleakley Advisory Group, we have “now tariffed our way into a manufacturing recession in the U.S. and globally”.  So those that have been waiting for a “manufacturing recession” to arrive can now stop waiting.  It is here, and it is going to be very painful.

All over America factories are starting to close down at an alarming pace.  This week, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards blamed the “sudden shutdown” of a steel plant in his state on the ongoing trade war

In Louisiana, meanwhile, Gov. John Bel Edwards on Tuesday blamed the sudden shutdown of a steel plant on tariffs. “While Bayou Steel has not given any specific reason for the closure, we know that this company, which uses recycled scrap metal that is largely imported, is particularly vulnerable to tariffs,” he said.

The closure of LaPlace, Louisiana-based of Bayou Steel will cost 376 employees their jobs.

All over the globe, manufacturing numbers are plunging at an alarming pace thanks to the trade war.  For a long time I warned my readers that the level of economic pain that this trade war would inflict upon all of us would steadily rise as long as this trade war persisted, and now the experts being quoted by the mainstream media are saying the exact same thing.  Here is just one example

“The manufacturing side is telling us something. It’s a combination of global growth and we’ve got a trade war that’s been going on for a year and a half,” said Christian Fromhertz, CEO of The Tribeca Trade Group. “That’s been freezing things up. The longer this trade war keeps going, the more damage it does.

Of course it isn’t just the U.S. that is being hit extremely hard.

Overall, we haven’t seen a slowdown in global trade like this since the last recession, and at this point container shipping rates are down a whopping 34 percent since the beginning of 2019…

Container shipping rates continue to move lower into the fourth quarter of 2019, according to FreightWaves. The drop in price comes as a result of the most recent round of tariffs discouraging U.S. importers from front loading orders. As a result, ocean carriers are looking to cut even more shipping capacity in hopes of meeting tepid demand into the back end of the year.

Spot rates on the Freightos Baltic Daily Index for China-North America West Coast were down 8% from last week, falling to $1,327 per forty-foot equivalent unit. Container rates are down 34% since the beginning of the year, despite the industry now being in peak season. 

For months, I have been sharing numbers that indicate that the entire global economy is heading into a recession.  But now the numbers are absolutely screaming that major trouble is imminent.

Winter is coming, and it will not be pleasant.

After the horrifying U.S. manufacturing numbers were released on Tuesday, U.S. stock prices immediately began falling, and the Dow ended the day down more than 340 points

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 343.79 points lower, or 1.3% at 26,573.04 after rallying more than 100 points earlier in the day. The S&P 500 slid 1.2% close at 2,940.25. The Nasdaq Composite was down 1.1% at 7,908.68.

Tuesday marked the worst one-day performance for the Dow and S&P 500 since Aug. 23.

Meanwhile, as is usually the case when economic doom erupts, the price of gold is soaring once again

Gloom for the economy is a boom for safe havens. A 10-year-low in a reading of U.S. manufacturing activity sent investors flocking back to the safety of gold on Tuesday, just after they let the yellow metal flounder to two-month lows.

U.S. gold futures for December delivery settled up $16.10, or 1%, at $1,489 per ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange.

The threat of impeachment looms over Washington, and it could potentially unleash political chaos like we haven’t seen in the United States in decades.

And at the same time, the global economy is deteriorating to a degree that we have not seen since the last recession, and many believe that what is coming will be even worse than what we experienced a decade ago.

Dark storm clouds have gathered over America, and we stand on the precipice of one of the most critical moments in the history of our nation.

Unfortunately, most Americans are still dead asleep, and many of them have absolutely no idea what is about to happen.

https://www.activistpost.com/2019/10/a-u-s-economic-slowdown-has-been-confirmed-and-we-are-being-warned-that-more-damage-is-ahead.html

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Business Insider | Source URL

China was accused on Tuesday of harvesting human organs from persecuted groups in the country.

The China Tribunal, a group that's investigating the organ harvesting, said at a tense meeting of the United Nations Human Rights Council that the Chinese government was taking hearts, kidneys, lungs, and skin from groups including Uighur Muslims and members of the Falun Gong religious group.

The China Tribunal describes itself as an "independent, international people's tribunal, and was backed by the International Coalition to End Transplant Abuse in China, an Australian human rights charity made up of lawyers, academics, and medical professionals.

China has denied carrying out mass harvesting of organs in any circumstance.

Addressing UN representatives, a lawyer for the China Tribunal, Hamid Sabi, said the group had proof of the organ harvesting.

Sabi said the group had found that China was committing "crimes against humanity" by harvesting organs from religious minorities like the Uighurs and members of Falun Gong, which has been banned and widely persecuted by the Chinese government.

"Forced organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience, including the religious minorities of Falun Gong and Uighurs, has been committed for years throughout China on a significant scale," Sabi said in a video published on the China Tribunal website.

Sabi was presenting evidence from the tribunal's final report, published in June, which found that a "very substantial number" of prisoners were "killed to order" by the Chinese government.

They were "cut open while still alive for their kidneys, livers, hearts, lungs, cornea and skin to be removed and turned into commodities for sale," the report said.

The body parts were then used for medical purposes, it said, citing extremely short wait times for organ transplants in Chinese hospitals as evidence of the practice.

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The Transportation Security Administration is warning travelers they will need “Real ID”-compliant identification to get through airport security checkpoints starting in one year.

 

The new requirement will take effect Oct. 1, 2020. Those who use a driver’s license as an ID will need one that fulfills the “Real ID” requirement, indicated by a star in the top right corner.

Another option is to use a passport as ID at the TSA checkpoint.

The majority of Georgia drivers already have updated “Real ID” licenses and don’t need to take any action. Georgia has been issuing Real ID-compliant licenses, which it calls Secure IDs, since July 2012. Other states are further behind.

However, out of 8 million Georgia license holders, about 300,000 do not have ones that fulfill the Real ID requirement with the star in the corner.

Many of the 300,000 with older licenses will have expiration dates that require them to get new licenses before the October 2020 deadline.

However, about 23,000 other people have IDs that will still be valid licenses but will not be compliant with the new TSA requirements to fly as of October 2020.

Double check -- make sure you’ve got that gold or black star on your license,” said TSA spokesman Mark Howell. If not, “take care of it sooner rather than later.”  

Those who need updated licenses and who wait until next summer or fall could end up stuck in long lines if there’s a rush to comply, he said.

The 23,000 with older IDs includes those who got 10-year licenses before July 2012, and some veterans who back in 2005 got driver licenses valid until age 65.

The state is mailing notices to people who need to get new Real ID compliant licenses. TSA officers checking IDs may also advise passengers if they need to get a Real ID by the deadline.

TSA has a process for those who forgot their ID, saying if a traveler provides additional information, there may be other ways to confirm your identity such as using public databases.

If your identity is confirmed, you’ll be subject to additional screening including a pat-down. However, TSA says if your identity can’t be verified, or if you choose not to provide proper ID or don’t cooperate with the identity verification process, you will not be allowed through security.

While Georgia licenses issued since July 2012 are Real ID compliant to fly, the state this year began issuing licenses with even more security features.

The new licenses have black-and-white photographs and are made of polycarbonate, which is more tamper-resistant and durable.

“Roughly every 10 years, counterfeiters get better,” said Georgia Department of Driver Services commissioner Spencer Moore.

 

Read more…

Ramola D | The Everyday Concerned Citizen | Source URL

On the 21st of April, 2019, the Chicago Sun-Times, owned by a group of neither intellectuals nor literati but businessmen and politicians in Chicago, ran a story by columnist and editorial-team member Neil Steinberg, who was once arrested for getting drunk and beating his wife, and spent a month in an alcohol-rehab facility, as his profile in Wikipedia—in itself a forum famous for its selective truths and rampant propaganda (much like Steinberg’s article here)—so ardently details.

The title of this masterpiece by a little-known journalist now marked in Wikipedia as a drunken wife-beater is “Are you being tracked? Burned by lasers? Maybe you are a ‘Targeted Individual

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Not solicitous, not concerned, not critically enquiring nor journalistically curious, but skeptical, mocking, stopping just short of sticking a question-mark at the end of that pithy projection of disbelief, and offering a label in quotes, “Targeted Individual,” priming the reader to care just as less as the writer about all of it.

A label, indeed, used as an indictment and straitjacket, a closed door and condemnation, as labels usually are.

And a not-so-subtle invite to the reader to dismiss the entire subject as illusory.

No Longer in Kansas, Neil, Time to Read Orwell

Which is more than confirmed in Steinberg’s opening as he launches into a cascade of scenarios, all presented as improbable, unimaginable—a skepticism which might be convincing if we lived in Dorothy’s Kansas, but reeks of Fusion-Center-driven propaganda instead since we actually reside in post 9/11, post-Orwell, All-Horrors-Plausible America:

Strangers are following you. Teams of them, coordinating their surveillance. Recording you. Attacking you with sonic devices. Maybe burning you with lasers. Maybe implanting grain-sized trackers inside your body. You can feel the hard bumps under your skin.

You are alarmed, naturally, and turn for help to those you trust: your family and friends. Maybe law enforcement. Only they don’t believe you. They might even act like you’re the problem. Like you’re crazy.

Welcome to the world of Targeted Individuals, a loose confederation of those, in their words, subject to the “growing crimes of organized stalking, surveillance, abuse and electronic harassment.””

This last, in tandem with the bland caption below the photo of a group of people with signs noting Covert Experiments, Torture, Microwave Weapons, and Failures of Law Enforcement, now labelled as “People who claim they are being put under organized surveillance and harassed by shady forces” continues the priming: you, the reader, are enjoined to react only with skepticism to the possibility of surveillance crimes, illicit experiments, torture, microwave weapons, and harassment being reported.

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Because of course, with the callous promiscuities of the Patriot Act, the excesses of the NDAA’s Indefinite Detentions, the twisted revisions of the Common Rule favoring carte blanche secret experiments for Intelligence agencies & the Justice department in conjunction with Executive Order 12333, the cannibalizing military complacencies of 5241.1R which permit surveillees to be experimented on and character-assassinated, the hundreds of bio-behavioral field-tests with millimeter/microwave weapons currently ongoing, the numerous categories of citizen the FBI has declared it must and will surveil and investigate, the nauseous militarizing of police and hand-over of multiple powers to fusion centers, the sinister 1994 Memorandum of Understanding between the DOD and DOJ permitting the testing of “advanced technologies” on Americans, the many revelations by whistleblowers from the CIA, NSA, FBI, DHS of perfidy in-house inclusive of DEW attacks on whistleblowers, the hundreds of thousands of National Security Letters rubberstamped every year by the corrupt FISA court, the unauthorized spying of innocents up and down the coasts & heartland of the US, including the outright targeting and surveillance of an elected President by men in high office, the Stasi crossover into community policing nationwide, no organized surveillance and harassment by shady forces could possibly be happening, oh no…Neil Steinberg (the rehabilitated alcoholic) says so.

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data-image-meta="{"aperture":"0","credit":"","camera":"","caption":"","created_timestamp":"0","copyright":"","focal_length":"0","iso":"0","shutter_speed":"0","title":"","orientation":"0"}" data-image-title="geralfbitargets" data-image-description="" data-medium-file="https://everydayconcerned.files.wordpress.com/2019/09/geralfbitargets.png?w=300" data-large-file="https://everydayconcerned.files.wordpress.com/2019/09/geralfbitargets.png?w=500" />

The Mental Illness, Paranoia, and Delusion Fraud: The DOD/CIA Psy Op of Labeling Victims and Equating that Label with Paranoia and Delusion

One part of this troubled scenario—where purported journalists can write hit-pieces on whole groups of people and get away with it, thanks also to precedent set by such stalwarts as The New York Times (“The United States of Paranoia”) and Wired (“Mind Games: The Tortured Lives of “Targeted Individuals””), proving they’re really full-on propagandists, paid to deceive—is the inherent difficulty in the label “Targeted Individual.”

ciamockoptibanners.png?w=482https://everydayconcerned.files.wordpress.com/2019/09/ciamockoptibanners.png?w=111 111w, https://everydayconcerned.files.wordpress.com/2019/09/ciamockoptibanners.png?w=222 222w" alt="" data-attachment-id="38923" data-permalink="https://everydayconcerned.net/ciamockoptibanners/" data-orig-file="https://everydayconcerned.files.wordpress.com/2019/09/ciamockoptibanners.png" data-orig-size="482,652" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta="{"aperture":"0","credit":"","camera":"","caption":"","created_timestamp":"0","copyright":"","focal_length":"0","iso":"0","shutter_speed":"0","title":"","orientation":"0"}" data-image-title="ciamockoptibanners" data-image-description="" data-medium-file="https://everydayconcerned.files.wordpress.com/2019/09/ciamockoptibanners.png?w=222" data-large-file="https://everydayconcerned.files.wordpress.com/2019/09/ciamockoptibanners.png?w=482" /> A smattering of headlines from mainstream media articles & Psy Warfare websites, still online, over the last few years, directing the reader to link the term “Targeted Individual” with “Paranoia” and “Mental Illness” while the US Govt. commits War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity against its own people

A military term quite factual in its meaning yet offering a pigeonholing label now historically misused and abused by reporters who claim people “self-identify” as TIs (short-form for Targeted Individual) and do nothing to investigate their claims/reports but spend reams of column-inches mocking, ridiculing, and calling them “delusional,” this term now occupies a conflicted signifying space, at once literal and associative, which no doubt has been the intention all along, to tie the term to notions of paranoia and delusion.

Stage set, therefore, for a propaganda artist like Mr. Steinberg to engage in some hard-core Media POPPCon—Psy Op Propaganda Piece Conning—which he does, with aplomb. Reading the rest of his article follows the formula for propaganda success over at POPPConville (a MockOp subdivision of Langley): Cast TIs as delusional, interview someone who helps establish TIs are delusional, cast this someone as delusional, call on a psychologist to state the lot are delusional, bring up “mass delusions” and “Internet” syndromes, close-case on anything TIs claim, now that you’ve worked so hard to damage their credibility by naming them delusional.

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What is lost in this merry-go-round of formula madness is that “Targeted Individuals” are reporting victims of extremely grave human rights violations under cover of Fusion Center Surveillance, involving the non-consensual use of silent electromagnetic weapons, sonic weapons, scalar weapons, neuroweapons, bioweapons such as microchip implants—all bio-hacking, neuro-hacking “advanced technologies” and “non-lethal weapons” that both DOD and DOJ have publicly established they are testing—treasonously and unethically—on Americans, in addition to harassive COINTELPRO, extrajudicial surveillance, and worldwide “community policing” Psy Ops also known colloquially as Gang Stalking—as this writer has been reporting for several years now, and as many other writers and whistleblowers, such as Paul Baird, Barbara Hartwell, Karen Melton-Stewart, Dr. Rauni Kilde, Mark Rich, Cheryl Welsh, Soleil Mavis, John Finch, Dr. John Hall, Dr. Eric Karlstrom, Harlan Girard, Dr. Corkin Cherubini, Mary Gregory, Renee Pittman Mitchell, Rosanne Schneider, Mojmir Babacek, and others, have also been reporting for years.

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It is no exaggeration to say Targeted Individuals have been extrajudicially targeted for extreme persecution and illicit and unethical Mil/Intel experimentation—by corrupt criminals in power seeking to ruthlessly silence people of integrity, including activists and whistleblowers—and my own numerous interviews over the years, my own 6-year experience of being extrajudicially targeted, and my research and published investigative journalism, in addition to that of others (named above) confirms this.

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Kristen Conklin | Talk Spectrum | Source URL

The ability to control a human or animal’s sleep from as far as thousands of miles away has been a priority to intelligence agencies. Talk Spectrum’s Dossier Documents page contains documents from the United States’ CIA about experiments that are conducted to put humans to sleep or force them to be awake. These projects are not limited to projects such as MKUltra, Grill Flame, Stargate, and equal according to the CIA. Associated with these experiments are failed attempts to shield the targeted individuals from the radio waves. It’s noted in the document mentioned by the CIA that Russia’s Intelligence has been doing this to targets since the 1920s.

Have you ever said I feel awake or I feel tired? Do you know what the term feel means? Have you ever said I can’t go to sleep or I can’t wake up? What force is stopping this from happening in your opinion? Did a cup of coffee used to work, but doesn’t anymore?

The electromagnetic forces created in the nervous system when we feel awake or feel sleepy are different. There are different systems in our body that can contribute to these feelings in our nervous system with regard to our need for sleep. The forces in the nervous system are rated in #voltage, or a force created by the arrangement of protons and electrons. Voltage is a force quantified by the electromagnetic laws of physics. Electromagnetism is one of the Four Fundamental Forces.

Khan Academy: The Four Fundamental Forces

https://www.khanacademy.org/science/biology/human-biology/neuron-nervous-system/v/anatomy-of-a-neuron

 

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To read the entire chapter, click here.

 

Part 1: Pages 11 - 15

 

We are living in the time of the end. The fast-fulfilling signs of the times declare that the coming of Christ is near at hand. The days in which we live are solemn and important. The Spirit of God is gradually but surely being withdrawn from the earth. Plagues and judgments are already falling upon the despisers of the grace of God. The calamities by land and sea, the unsettled state of society, the alarms of war, are portentous. They forecast approaching events of the greatest magnitude.  

 

The agencies of evil are combining their forces and consolidating. They are strengthening for the last great crisis. Great changes are soon to take place in our world, and the final movements will be rapid ones.  

 

The condition of things in the world shows that troublous times are right upon us. The daily papers are full of indications of a terrible conflict in the near future. Bold robberies are of frequent occurrence. Strikes are common. Thefts and murders are committed on every hand. Men possessed of demons are taking the lives of men, women, and little children. Men have become infatuated with vice, and every species of evil prevails.  

 

The enemy has succeeded in perverting justice and in filling men's hearts with the desire for selfish gain. “Justice standeth afar off: for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter.” Isaiah 59:14. In the great cities there are multitudes living in poverty and wretchedness, well-nigh destitute of food, shelter, and clothing; while in the same cities are those who have more than heart could wish, who live luxuriously, spending their money on richly furnished houses, on personal adornment, or worse still, upon the gratification of sensual appetites, upon liquor, tobacco, and other things that destroy the powers of the brain, unbalance the mind, and debase the soul. The cries of starving humanity are coming up before God, while by every species of oppression and extortion men are piling up colossal fortunes.  

 

On one occasion, when in New York City, I was in the night season called upon to behold buildings rising story after story toward heaven. These buildings were warranted to be fireproof, and they were erected to glorify their owners and builders. Higher and still higher these buildings rose, and in them the most costly material was used. Those to whom these buildings belonged were not asking themselves: “How can we best glorify God?” The Lord was not in their thoughts.  

 

I thought: “Oh, that those who are thus investing their means could see their course as God sees it! They are piling up magnificent buildings, but how foolish in the sight of the Ruler of the universe is their planning and devising. They are not studying with all the powers of heart and mind how they may glorify God. They have lost sight of this, the first duty of man.”  

 

As these lofty buildings went up, the owners rejoiced with ambitious pride that they had money to use in gratifying self and provoking the envy of their neighbors. Much of the money that they thus invested had been obtained through exaction, through grinding down the poor. They forgot that in heaven an account of every business transaction is kept; every unjust deal, every fraudulent act, is there recorded. The time is coming when in their fraud and insolence men will reach a point that the Lord will not permit them to pass, and they will learn that there is a limit to the forbearance of Jehovah.  

 

The scene that next passed before me was an alarm of fire. Men looked at the lofty and supposedly fire-proof buildings and said: “They are perfectly safe.” But these buildings were consumed as if made of pitch. The fire engines could do nothing to stay the destruction. The firemen were unable to operate the engines.  

 

I am instructed that when the Lord's time comes, should no change have taken place in the hearts of proud, ambitious human beings, men will find that the hand that had been strong to save will be strong to destroy. No earthly power can stay the hand of God. No material can be used in the erection of buildings that will preserve them from destruction when God's appointed time comes to send retribution on men for their disregard of His law and for their selfish ambition.  

 

There are not many, even among educators and statesmen, who comprehend the causes that underlie the present state of society. Those who hold the reins of government are not able to solve the problem of moral corruption, poverty, pauperism, and increasing crime. They are struggling in vain to place business operations on a more secure basis. If men would give more heed to the teaching of God's word, they would find a solution of the problems that perplex them.  

 

The Scriptures describe the condition of the world just before Christ's second coming. Of the men who by robbery and extortion are amassing great riches, it is written: “Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days. Behold, the hire of the laborers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth. Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton; ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter. Ye have condemned and killed the just; and he doth not resist you.” James 5:3-6.  

 

But who reads the warnings given by the fast-fulfilling signs of the times? What impression is made upon worldlings? What change is seen in their attitude? No more than was seen in the attitude of the inhabitants of the Noachian world. Absorbed in worldly business and pleasure, the antediluvians “knew not until the Flood came, and took them all away.” Matthew 24:39. They had heaven-sent warnings, but they refused to listen. And today the world, utterly regardless of the warning voice of God, is hurrying on to eternal ruin.  

 

The world is stirred with the spirit of war. The prophecy of the eleventh chapter of Daniel has nearly reached its complete fulfillment. Soon the scenes of trouble spoken of in the prophecies will take place.  

 

“Behold, the Lord maketh the earth empty, and maketh it waste, and turneth it upside down, and scattereth abroad the inhabitants thereof.... Because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore hath the curse devoured the earth, and they that dwell therein are desolate.... The mirth of tabrets ceaseth, the noise of them that rejoice endeth, the joy of the harp ceaseth.” Isaiah 24:1-8.  

 

“Alas for the day! for the day of the Lord is at hand, and as a destruction from the Almighty shall it come.... The seed is rotten under their clods, the garners are laid desolate, the barns are broken down, for the corn is withered. How do the beasts groan! the herds of cattle are perplexed, because they have no pasture; yea, the flocks of sheep are made desolate.” “The vine is dried up, and the fig tree languisheth; the pomegranate tree, the palm tree also, and the apple tree, even all the trees of the field, are withered: because joy is withered away from the sons of men.” Joel 1:15-18, 12.  

 

“I am pained at my very heart; ... I cannot hold my peace, because thou has heard, O my soul, the sound of the trumpet, the alarm of war. Destruction upon destruction is cried; for the whole land is spoiled.” Jeremiah 4:19, 20.  . 9T 11.1-9T 15.2

 

 

 

 

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The White House has called on social media companies to build technologies that could help curb the spread of violent ideologies online. 

The appeal was made during a meeting between officials from the White House and big social media companies on Friday.

The gathering came days after US President Donald Trump laid blame on the internet and social media for providing places to "to radicalise disturbed minds". His comments were triggered by two deadly mass shootings in the cities of El Paso in Texas and Dayton in Ohio last weekend.

At least 31 people were killed in the back-to-back attacks.

In a statement, the White House said representatives at the meeting spoke about "how technology can be leveraged to identify potential threats, to provide help to individuals exhibiting potentially violent behaviour and to combat domestic terror."

It added: "We urge internet and social media companies to continue their efforts in addressing violent extremism and helping individuals at risk, and to do so without compromising free speech." 

The White House declined to comment on who took part or led Friday's closed-door meeting. Trump did not attend.

The Washington Post said Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit were invited to the meeting. The companies declined to comment.

Their lobby group, the Internet Association, said the meeting was productive and that the companies talked about how they fight "extremism" online.

The companies "detailed their extensive efforts using automated tools and human review to find and prevent the spread of hateful, violent, and extremist content on their platforms," said Michael Beckerman, chief executive of the Internet Association.

Investigators believe the suspected attacker in the El Paso incident posted a hate-filled "manifesto" on the online messaging board 8chan before he opened fire on shoppers at a Walmart store in the city. 

In the document, the author railed against an alleged "Hispanic invasion of Texas", echoing comments by Trump in which the president described migrants trying to enter the United States through its southern border as "an invasion". 

The president's political opponents, civil society groups and residents of El Paso said his words were partly to blame for the mass shootings. 

Trump has denied stoking division and violence, contending this week that he "brings people together. Our country is doing incredibly well".

The House of Representatives Homeland Security Committee this week called on the owner of 8chan, an American who lives in the Philippines, to testify about the site's efforts to tackle "extremist content". 

Heidi Beirich, who leads the Southern Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Project, said tech companies have made significant changes in the way they have tackled hate speech over the last few years.

"Since the Charlottesville riots in 2017, most of the tech companies have moved towards taking hateful material off their platforms," Beirich told Al Jazeera, referring to violence following a white supremacist rally in the US city of Charlottesville in August 2017.

"The pace has been slow and a bit ham-handed at times, but at this point there is no more argument from them to keep this material up," she added. 

According to Beirich, YouTube and Twitter have struggled the most with combating "extremist content".

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In late July, FBI director Christopher Wray testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee that his bureau had made 100 domestic terror arrests; later, an FBI spokesperson reduced that claim to 90 arrests -- but when Propublica called the FBI for a list of domestic terror addresses, the Feebs couldn't name one single instance in which they'd made a domestic terror arrest.

Propublica's Fritz Zimmermann recounts the bizarre story of trying to get FBI press officers to explain how it could be that the FBI was certain enough of this figure to provide it under oath to the Senate, but also so fuzzy on it that they can't list a single instance in which it happened.

We tried again: “Thanks for your reply! What I mean is: you clarified the number, so despite DT subjects being charged under ‘other federal, state, and local charges,’ as you wrote, the FBI obviously has information about all these cases. And this is what I’ve been originally asking for. So I would be glad if you could give me the following information about as many of the 90 arrests as possible: who was arrested, where, when and what the allegations were. If you are unable to provide this information or a comprehensive list of press releases I would like to know why.”

On the phone, she again cited the figure of 90 arrests, adding, “These are people that the FBI arrested as a result of a domestic terrorism investigation.”

But she also repeated that the bureau couldn’t give us any information, even press releases, about these arrests. “In their arrests they may not be characterized as domestic terrorists depending on how those arrests were made in the locality, in the state … so it’s just not something the FBI is able to publicly provide,” she said.

The FBI Told Congress Domestic Terror Investigations Led to 90 Recent Arrests. It Wouldn’t Show Us Records of Even One [Fritz Zimmermann/Propublica]

https://boingboing.net/2019/08/10/produce-the-receipts-pls.html

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Eric London | True Publica | Source URL

In his ruling, Judge Koeltl, a Bill Clinton nominee and former assistant special prosecutor for the Watergate Special Prosecution Force, dismissed “with prejudice” a civil lawsuit filed in April 2018 by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) alleging WikiLeaks was civilly liable for conspiring with the Russian government to steal DNC emails and data and leak them to the public.

Jennifer Robinson, a leading lawyer for Assange, and other WikiLeaks attorneys welcomed the ruling as “an important win for free speech.”

The decision exposes the Democratic Party in a conspiracy of its own to attack free speech and cover up the crimes of US imperialism and the corrupt activities of the two parties of Wall Street. Judge Koeltl stated:

If WikiLeaks could be held liable for publishing documents concerning the DNC’s political financial and voter-engagement strategies simply because the DNC labels them ‘secret’ and trade secrets, then so could any newspaper or other media outlet. But that would impermissibly elevate a purely private privacy interest to override the First Amendment interest in the publication of matters of the highest public concern. The DNC’s published internal communications allowed the American electorate to look behind the curtain of one of the two major political parties in the United States during a presidential election. This type of information is plainly of the type entitled to the strongest protection that the First Amendment offers.

The ruling exposes the illegality of the conspiracy by the US government, backed by the governments of Britain, Ecuador, Australia and Sweden and the entire corporate media and political establishment, to extradite Assange to the US, where he faces 175 years in federal prison on charges including espionage.

The plaintiff in the civil case—the Democratic Party—has also served as Assange’s chief prosecutor within the state apparatus for over a decade. During the Obama administration, Democratic Party Justice Department officials, as well as career Democratic holdovers under the Trump administration, prepared the criminal case against him.

The dismissal of the civil suit exposes massive unreported conflicts of interest and prosecutorial misconduct and criminal abuse of process by those involved. The criminal prosecution of Assange has nothing to do with facts and is instead aimed at punishing him for telling the truth about the war crimes committed by US imperialism and its allies.

The judge labeled WikiLeaks an “international news organization” and said Assange is a “publisher,” exposing the liars in the corporate press who declare that Assange is not subject to free speech protections. Judge Koeltl continued: “In New York Times Co. v. United States, the landmark ‘Pentagon Papers’ case, the Supreme Court upheld the press’s right to publish information of public concern obtained from documents stolen by a third party.”

As a legal matter, by granting WikiLeaks’ motion to dismiss, the court ruled that the DNC had not put forward a “factually plausible” claim. At the motion to dismiss stage, a judge is required to accept all the facts alleged by the plaintiff as true. Here, the judge ruled that even if all the facts alleged by the DNC were true, no fact-finder could “draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.”

Going a step further, the judge called the DNC’s arguments “threadbare,” adding: “At no point does the DNC allege any facts” showing that Assange or WikiLeaks “participated in the theft of the DNC’s information.”

Judge Koeltl said the DNC’s argument that Assange and WikiLeaks “conspired with the Russian Federation to steal and disseminate the DNC’s materials” is “entirely divorced from the facts.” The judge further ruled that the court “is not required to accept conclusory allegations asserted as facts.”

The judge further dismantled the DNC’s argument that WikiLeaks is guilty-by-association with Russia, calling the alleged connection between Assange and the Russian government “irrelevant,” because “a person is entitled to publish stolen documents that the publisher requested from a source so long as the publisher did not participate in the theft.”

Judge Koeltl also rejected the DNC’s claim “that WikiLeaks can be held liable for the theft as an after-the-fact coconspirator of the stolen documents.” Calling this argument “unpersuasive,” the judge wrote that it would “eviscerate” constitutional protections: “Such a rule would render any journalist who publishes an article based on stolen information a coconspirator in the theft.”

In its April 2018 complaint, the DNC put forward a series of claims that have now been exposed as brazen lies, including that Assange, Trump and Russia “undermined and distorted the DNC’s ability to communicate the party’s values and visions to the American electorate.”

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Cashierless Stores Make Inroads in U.S.

Sam’s Club, Giant Eagle and others are exploring the use of AI systems after Amazon Go paved the way

 

John Murawski | The Wall Street Journal | Source URL

U.S. retailers large and small are pressing ahead with testing the use of artificial intelligence to track what products shoppers pick up and automatically bill their accounts when they walk out the door, eliminating the need for a checkout line.

The concept got a push from Amazon Go stores, which Amazon.com Inc. launched in early 2018 and has since expanded to 15 stores—two opening last week, in New York and San Francisco. Amazon Go relies on hundreds of cameras and sensors in each store to identify products that customers take off the shelves. Shoppers typically scan a code to enter the stores.

Recent entrants include Sam’s Club Inc., the warehouse retailer owned by Walmart Inc., and Giant Eagle Inc., a regional chain of grocery and convenience stores. Giant Eagle said last month that it would test a technology similar to Amazon Go’s at a convenience store in Pittsburgh, where it is based. Several companies that sell cashierless technology—including Standard Cognition Inc. and Vcognition Technologies Inc., which does business as Zippin—said they are working with U.S. customers but declined to give details.

Sam’s Club said in July that it would offer a version of cashierless payment at a 32,000-square foot store in Dallas, a quarter of the size of its average store, starting in August. AI technology will let shoppers scan each item they want to buy using their smartphones. Customers will still have the option to pay with cash at the register, as in certain Amazon Go stores.

At the Sam’s Club test store, shoppers won’t scan the barcode on the product—an older cashierless-checkout technology—but will use their smartphone cameras to capture an image of the product itself. The cloud-based system, which uses computer vision and machine learning, recognizes products by matching them to a database of stored images. This is different from Amazon Go, where cameras installed in the stores do the work of capturing images of the products.

A global survey of about 400 retailers conducted in June by research and advisory firm International Data Corp. found that 28% are testing or piloting cashierless systems, said Leslie Hand, vice president of IDC’s Retail Insights division. Ms. Hand said she knows of nearly 100 companies world-wide that are trying out the systems, adding she can’t discuss the details because of nondisclosure agreements.

“It’s awoken that fire for retailers to understand that really this is the future of retail and they need to invest in it,” Ms. Hand said.

Cashierless technology is also being tested by U.K.-based Tesco PLC and France-based Carrefour SA . Tesco has said its method costs one-tenth of systems used by its competitors, partly because it uses only cameras, not sensors.

Not every type of store does well with cashierless technology. Walmart tried out a cashierless system based on scanning barcodes for about six months in more than 100 stores but discontinued it in April 2018. The technology proved impractical for pricing produce and other items that had to be taken to a cashier to be weighed, causing delays, a spokesman said.

Theft is also a concern. Manual scanning operates on an honor system and some customers don’t scan every item, often requiring stores to validate purchases, said Richard Crone, chief executive of Crone Consulting LLC, an advisory firm focused on retail, convenience and restaurant businesses. In the Sam’s Club trial, for example, an employee checks customer purchases as shoppers exit, but the clerk samples just one product per customer to see if it’s listed on the electronic receipt.

Still, the potential benefits include speed and convenience. Even small companies are testing the waters.

Choice Market Holdings LLC, which operates a Denver convenience store focused on fresh food, plans to open another location next month and is developing three others. It plans to introduce a cashierless system, using in-store cameras and sensors, in two of the planned stores next year, said Mike Fogarty, Choice Market’s founder and CEO.

The company is considering technology providers including AVA retail Inc. for the project.

“This technology will allow us to extend our hours with little to no labor, which leads to more transactions,” Mr. Fogarty said.

AVA retail CEO Atul Hirpara said his company’s system virtually eliminates retail fraud such as price-tag switching, shoplifting and “sweethearting” by a checkout clerk who deliberately doesn’t charge a customer for a purchase.

Mr. Hirpara said planning, installing and deploying a typical system costs between $300,000 and $400,000 but the price could rise to $800,000 for a 2,000-square-foot store. Annual maintenance and service costs between $25,000 and $45,000, he said. He said the error rate is one or two per 1,000 purchases.

Mr. Fogarty said Choice Market expects its costs would be at the lower end of AVA’s estimates because the stores won’t be retrofitted but rather built with the technology integrated into the design.

Amazon Go’s, AVA’s and other cashierless systems don’t use facial recognition to identify customers. Instead, the systems track customers’ movements in the store and link to their online accounts. Sensors installed on store shelves augment the computer-vision systems by providing data on the weight of items lifted from shelves to help the AI count the number of items purchased.

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CNET | Source URL:  https://www.zdnet.com/article/fbi-and-ice-are-using-dmv-gold-mine-for-facial-recognition-scans/

The agencies are reportedly harvesting driver license imagery without citizen or lawmaker consent

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) are exploiting state DMV records for facial recognition data without the knowledge or permission of drivers. 

Georgetown Law researchers, together with the Washington Post, have obtained facial recognition requests, documents, and emails which have revealed a project that uses vehicle ownership and driver license databases for surveillance purposes.

According to the publication, millions of US citizens have had their faces and photos scanned, creating a "gold mine" for the FBI and ICE's facial recognition pursuits. 

No state or Congress decision has authorized the creation of a facial recognition system based on information harvested from state driving databases and license holders have not been asked to sign any form of waiver permitting such searches. 

The FBI conducts 4,000 facial recognition searches per month alone, and when "low-level" crimes are reported, DMV scans can be used to track down suspects in cases of criminal activity including petty theft.  

The Post says that a request to search a DMV database can be as informal as sending an email to a DMV contact. In total, 21 states permit the FBI to scan driver license photos.

When it comes to ICE and the search for undocumented immigrants, the agency runs DMV searches in over a dozen states where these individuals are allowed permits as long as they pass in-state residency requirements and proficiency tests. As a result, information submitted by the undocumented and presumed safe in the hands of DMV can be turned against them.

Washington state is an exception to searches, as local officials require a court order before law enforcement agencies are allowed to submit facial recognition data requests. 

Project on Government Oversight counsel Jake Laperruque told the publication that the system could be considered "surveillance-first, ask-permission-later." 

When there appears to be a lack of consent, individual permission, waivers, and regulatory oversight in FBI and ICE facial recognition requests, casual plundering of state databases designed for other purposes are sending the US down a slippery slope in how facial recognition technology is applied. 

Consent is key for facial recognition applications, and without it, there is a serious breach of trust in a time where consumers are becoming protective of their privacy. It seems that lessons have not been learned, even considering the fallout and global outcry caused by whistleblower Edward Snowden's revelations concerning the US National Security Agency's mass surveillance and data collection. 

ICE declined to comment on the situation given the "sensitive" nature of investigations, whereas the FBI pointed towards comments made last month by Deputy Assistant Director Kimberly Del Greco, who said facial recognition technology is necessary to "preserve our nation's freedoms, ensure our liberties are protected, and preserve our security."

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John Vibes | Truth Theory

As smart devices have become ubiquitous in our lives, people are becoming increasingly concerned about the privacy implications of the technology.

In the past, tech companies like Google have insisted that their smart devices are not a threat to your privacy, but as it becomes more obvious how intrusive this technology can be, they have started to play damage control and are now revealing limited details about the scope of their surveillance.

In a recent statement, Google admitted that they were listening to some of their customers through the Google Home smart speakers, which are always listening, and recording. The company said that they only use .2% of the data that they collect, which is still a lot of data considering how many people have these devices. Also, many Google Home customers are a bit creeped out that the company’s employees are randomly listening in on their private conversations.

“We partner with language experts around the world to improve speech technology by transcribing a small set of queries – this work is critical to developing technology that powers products like the Google Assistant. Language experts only review around 0.2% of all audio snippets, and these snippets are not associated with user accounts as part of the review process,” the statement said.

The company says that a small percentage of the recordings are somehow analyzed to help them improve their voice recognition technology, but they insist that these recordings are entirely anonymous. The statement was made after the company leaked an unspecified amount of audio data.

While Google insists that they only listen to a small amount of data, and are only recording when the customer is making a command to the device, the leaker found that 153 out of 1000 recordings were at random times when the device was set off accidentally. This isn’t an overwhelming number, but it is enough to cause concern.

“We just learned that one of these reviewers has violated our data security policies by leaking confidential Dutch audio data. Our Security and Privacy Response teams have been activated on this issue, are investigating, and we will take action. We are conducting a full review of our safeguards in this space to prevent misconduct like this from happening again,” the statement continued.

There have been similar concerns with Amazon’s Alexa device, which also stores audio recordings of the private lives of customers.

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On the Alexa FAQ page, Amazon openly admits that they use speech recodings to improve their services.

We use your requests to Alexa to train our speech recognition and natural language understanding systems. The more data we use to train these systems, the better Alexa works, and training Alexa with voice recordings from a diverse range of customers helps ensure Alexa works well for everyone,” the page says.

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