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Embattled Los Angeles Sheriff spares with his opponent over law enforcement gangs

During the debate, Sheriff Alex Villanueva then accused former Long Beach Police Chief Robert Luna of being in a gang himself, which he denied. Former Long Beach Police Chief Robert Luna, left, and Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva share a lighter moment near the end of their debate as they both like the TV show Big Bang Theory and both are Dodgers fans.Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images Los Angeles Sheriff's candidates took the stage in a heated hourlong debate on Wednesday night. Sheriff Alex Villanueva and his opponent, former police chief Robert Luna discussed law enforcement gangs. Villanueva sidestepped the question and accused Luna of being in one.  Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva dodged the allegations of law enforcement gangs in the department at a debate on Wednesday night at the Skirball Cultural Center."'Deputy gangs' has become a political buzzword and it's just like unicorns," Villanueva said Wednesday night. "Everybody knows what a unicorn looks like, but I challenge you, name one. Name a single deputy gang member and I have yet to hear that."Villanueva has previously been accused of enabling so-called deputy gangs, or unauthorized groups within the department, some of which are facing allegations of mistreatment.Following reports and lawsuits, he has repeatedly denied their existence and has attempted to interfere with an investigation into them, according to a lawsuit filed by LASD sergeant claiming that Villanueva tried to stave off testimony from a witness.The debate was between the two candidates for Sheriff, the incumbent Villanueva, and challenger former Long Beach Police Chief Robert Luna. The two emerged as the top two candidates following Los Angeles County's primary held in June.Luna, who has since been endorsed by seven of his former primary challengers, argued that Villanueva's remarks prove his resistance to cracking down on deputy gangs."You just heard, he doesn't acknowledge they exist. Can't fix a problem you don't know exists," Luna said.He then went on to refer to two sub-groups within the department: The Grim Reapers and the Banditos.Luna brought up Villanueva's former chief of staff Larry Del Mese, now retired, who confirmed his involvement with The Grim Reapers in July during a public hearing for the Sheriff Civilian Oversight Commission's investigation into the groups.Luna also pointed to allegations made by retired LASD Captain Matthew Burson claiming Villanueva asked investigators not to look into the Banditos group. Villanueva snapped back by saying: "Well, for one thing, he's going to have to explain what the North Town Rangers are. Ring a bell, Mr. Luna?"Luna denied the allegation and said NTR had since been eradicated. Insider was unable to independently confirm the existence of this group or Luna's affiliation. Luna's campaign denied the allegation.Villanueva said that the LASD has "taken all the action" it could legally without "violating the rights" of the department employees. He then doubled down on his original request asking people concerned about the deputy gang issue to "Name a single one."The hourlong heated debate concluded with a series of lighthearted questions that uncovered a couple of commonalities between the rivals: their love for "The Big Bang Theory" sitcom and the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team."The debate showed a contrast with the current Sheriff, who has brought chaos, dysfunction, and scandal to the department, which has put our public safety at risk and eroded public trust. That's why 70% of voters in the primary voted to remove him as Sheriff," Luna's campaign told Insider in an email.The Long Beach Police Department, the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department, and Sheriff Alex Villanueva's re-election campaign did not respond to Insider's request for comment. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytSep 22nd, 2022

Embattled Los Angeles Sheriff spares with his opponent over law enforcement gangs

During the debate, Sheriff Alex Villanueva then accused former Long Beach Police Chief Robert Luna of being in a gang himself, which he denied. Former Long Beach Police Chief Robert Luna, left, and Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva share a lighter moment near the end of their debate as they both like the TV show Big Bang Theory and both are Dodgers fans.Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images Los Angeles Sheriff's candidates took the stage in a heated hourlong debate on Wednesday night. Sheriff Alex Villanueva and his opponent, former police chief Robert Luna discussed law enforcement gangs. Villanueva sidestepped the question and accused Luna of being in one.  Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva dodged the allegations of law enforcement gangs in the department at a debate on Wednesday night at the Skirball Cultural Center."'Deputy gangs' has become a political buzzword and it's just like unicorns," Villanueva said Wednesday night. "Everybody knows what a unicorn looks like, but I challenge you, name one. Name a single deputy gang member and I have yet to hear that."Villanueva has previously been accused of enabling so-called deputy gangs, or unauthorized groups within the department, some of which are facing allegations of mistreatment.Following reports and lawsuits, he has repeatedly denied their existence and has attempted to interfere with an investigation into them, according to a lawsuit filed by LASD sergeant claiming that Villanueva tried to stave off testimony from a witness.The debate was between the two candidates for Sheriff, the incumbent Villanueva, and challenger former Long Beach Police Chief Robert Luna. The two emerged as the top two candidates following Los Angeles County's primary held in June.Luna, who has since been endorsed by seven of his former primary challengers, argued that Villanueva's remarks prove his resistance to cracking down on deputy gangs."You just heard, he doesn't acknowledge they exist. Can't fix a problem you don't know exists," Luna said.He then went on to refer to two sub-groups within the department: The Grim Reapers and the Banditos.Luna brought up Villanueva's former chief of staff Larry Del Mese, now retired, who confirmed his involvement with The Grim Reapers in July during a public hearing for the Sheriff Civilian Oversight Commission's investigation into the groups.Luna also pointed to allegations made by retired LASD Captain Matthew Burson claiming Villanueva asked investigators not to look into the Banditos group. Villanueva snapped back by saying: "Well, for one thing, he's going to have to explain what the North Town Rangers are. Ring a bell, Mr. Luna?"Luna denied the allegation and said NTR had since been eradicated. Insider was unable to independently confirm the existence of this group or Luna's affiliation. Luna's campaign denied the allegation.Villanueva said that the LASD has "taken all the action" it could legally without "violating the rights" of the department employees. He then doubled down on his original request asking people concerned about the deputy gang issue to "Name a single one."The hourlong heated debate concluded with a series of lighthearted questions that uncovered a couple of commonalities between the rivals: their love for "The Big Bang Theory" sitcom and the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team."The debate showed a contrast with the current Sheriff, who has brought chaos, dysfunction, and scandal to the department, which has put our public safety at risk and eroded public trust. That's why 70% of voters in the primary voted to remove him as Sheriff," Luna's campaign told Insider in an email.The Long Beach Police Department, the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department, and Sheriff Alex Villanueva's re-election campaign did not respond to Insider's request for comment. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytSep 22nd, 2022

The Twitter Whistleblower Needs You to Trust Him

An exclusive interview with Twitter whistleblower Peiter 'Mudge' Zatko, the famous hacker fighting a messy battle with the platform Peiter Zatko, the Twitter whistle-blower, is a black belt in jiu-jitsu. The day before his complaint against the social media company was published, Zatko was sitting in his lawyer’s office in Washington, scrolling through his camera roll to find a photo of his legs locked around someone’s neck. The move is called a side-triangle. It’s totally safe, he says, because the opponent will black out before a lack of blood flow to the brain can cause any lasting damage. One of the things Zatko likes about the martial art, he explains, is that it’s less about brute strength than finding creative ways to maneuver your opponent into a weaker position. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] That talent translates to cybersecurity. In Nov. 2020, Zatko, the hacker known as “Mudge,” was hired as Twitter’s security lead, with a global remit to fix gaping vulnerabilities in one of the world’s most important communications platforms. But 14 months later, he was fired. Six months after that, he filed a sweeping whistle-blower complaint that paints a damning portrait of a company in crisis. In an 84-page complaint to federal regulatory agencies and the Department of Justice, which was first reported by the Washington Post and CNN and which TIME obtained from a congressional source, he describes Twitter as crippled by rudderless and dishonest leadership, beset by “egregious” privacy and security flaws, tainted by foreign influence, a danger to national security, and susceptible even to total collapse. Zatko says he felt an ethical duty to come forward. “Being a public whistle-blower is the last resort, something that I would only ever do after I had exhausted all other means,” he told TIME in a lengthy interview on Aug. 22. “It is not an easy path, but I view it as continuing to help improve the place where I was employed.” Twitter quickly hit back. Zatko was fired for “ineffective leadership and poor performance,” CEO Parag Agrawal wrote in an email to employees, calling the disclosures a “false narrative that is riddled with inconsistencies and inaccuracies” and presented out of context. “Mudge was accountable for many aspects of this work that he is now inaccurately portraying more than six months after his termination,” Agrawal said. The story of how a top Twitter official turned whistle-blower is not a straightforward saga. In more than a dozen interviews with Zatko’s friends, family, and current and former colleagues, the portrait that emerges is more complicated. Eight current and former Twitter employees, who spoke with TIME on condition of anonymity in order to discuss issues they were not authorized to speak publicly about, said that many aspects of Zatko’s disclosures rang true to their experience, particularly his allegations of security deficiencies and shortcomings in company leadership. Some of the same sources, many of whom professed to like and admire Zatko, suggested that various allegations were misleading, overblown, or lacking context—in part because Zatko was straying into areas of the company into which he had only basic insight. Read More: ‘Egregious Deficiencies,’ Bots, and Foreign Agents: The Biggest Allegations From the Twitter Whistle-Blower Zatko’s allegations have emerged at a pivotal moment for Twitter, which is locked in a legal battle over an agreement to sell the company to Elon Musk. That makes the accuracy and credibility of Zatko’s claims a multibillion-dollar issue, and the object of considerable debate by his former colleagues. “Is Mudge generally correct? Yes,” says one current Twitter employee who worked with Zatko. “Where he is correct is that Twitter has absolutely been negligent in creating the appropriate security infrastructure for a company that has the level of impact it has … Is Mudge wrong about lots of things? Also yes. I think there’s a lot of sour grapes.” Zatko had come from a long line of jobs where he had free rein to tear up organizational structures and prioritize security above all else. But at Twitter, current and former colleagues say, he found himself in a different environment: navigating tense internal politics at a corporation bent on boosting revenue, without support from his superiors. Some employees caught up in the tumult perceived Zatko to be a figure hired by then CEO Jack Dorsey for publicity reasons, stepping on the toes of qualified colleagues with more institutional knowledge. Technically brilliant and morally rigid, Zatko was an iconoclast stepping into a corporate bureaucracy. “It’s like asking a doctor who’s been trained to do brain surgery to suddenly become a podiatrist,” says a former Twitter colleague. The polarized reactions to Zatko’s disclosures illustrate just how atypical a tech whistle-blower he is. Last year, Frances Haugen, a former Facebook product manager, disclosed tens of thousands of pages of internal company documents that revealed a company prioritizing profits over user safety. But readers didn’t have to take Haugen’s word for it; they could read the words of Facebook’s own safety teams. Zatko is different. As a former senior executive, he had a bird’s-eye view into Twitter’s decisionmaking, ultimately responsible for hundreds of staff in some of Twitter’s most high-priority work streams. But he didn’t release the same breadth of documentation as Haugen; while Zatko supplied some exhibits to support his claims, including internal emails, his partially redacted disclosures rely largely on his own credibility as one of the most celebrated figures in cybersecurity. He is implicitly asking the public to trust that his version of events is the correct one, and that Twitter is lying. Zatko may lose money by coming forward. Half of his compensation at Twitter was in cash, but the rest came in stock, says John Tye of the law firm Whistleblower Aid, which is representing Zatko. The value of those shares dropped by about 9% when news of Zatko’s allegations broke. Tye insists Zatko’s motivations are rooted in a desire to see the company succeed in the long term, not his own financial self-interest. The fate of Twitter’s stock price may be just the first of a cascading series of consequences from Zatko’s disclosures. His contention that Twitter has a bigger bot problem than executives admit may prevent them from forcing completion of the Musk deal. Tye says that his client prefers Twitter to remain a public company, for the public good. “We have concerns if the SEC were to lose jurisdiction if the company goes private, because there’s one less law-enforcement lever,” Tye says. “That’s a problem for accountability.” Zatko told TIME he has never met Musk and did not provide any information to him in advance of his disclosures becoming public knowledge. Zatko’s allegations could ripple out even further, in Washington and beyond. On Sept. 13, he is set to testify in Congress about the allegations, which could spur investigations by the SEC and FTC. That could in turn further erode public faith in social media companies generally, as they face escalating questions about their influence on politics and society, as well as global efforts to rein them in. All of which means the question of what kind of whistle-blower Peiter “Mudge” Zatko is has consequences well beyond Twitter’s future. In his Twitter profile picture, Zatko has flowing, shoulder-length brown hair, with a ring of light hovering above his head like a halo. But it’s been more than two decades since he traded this long-haired look—“hacker Jesus,” his wife Sarah Zatko jokes—for a clean-cut mien befitting a man who’s done tours at the highest levels of government. As Zatko sat down for his interview with TIME on the eve of the allegations becoming public, he sported a crisp goatee flecked with gray, wired spectacles, and a lapel pin depicting the logo of his lawyers, Whistleblower Aid. The profile picture is no accident. Zatko cites his famous work in the 1990s as both the defining era of his life and the grounding for his present morality. “I always ask myself: What would the Mudge of the late ‘90s think about what I’m doing now?” he says of his decision to blow the whistle on Twitter. “I want to make sure I haven’t lost that drive, that my ethics are still just as strong, that I’m fighting for people just as hard.” Dina Litovsky for TIMESarah Zatko at home on Aug. 23, 2022 Zatko is both attuned to and skilled at nurturing the mythology surrounding him. When he was a toddler, his father hung over his crib a mobile made of circuit boards. “He wanted me not to be afraid of technology,” he said in a 2011 interview with a trade magazine. He says he began hacking at the age of 5, picking locks and reverse-engineering computer games with his dad on a late-1970s Apple II computer to get around copyright protections. As a teenager, he spent his time surfing ARPANET, the predecessor to the modern internet, along with the bulletin boards where communities of online hackers were taking shape. Growing up in Alabama and Pennsylvania in the 1980s, his childhood heroes were the social activist Abbie Hoffman and the musician Frank Zappa. Zatko studied the guitar and the violin, and chose music over computer science, attending the Berklee College of Music in Boston. After graduating, he split his time between playing at clubs with his progressive metal band Raymaker, part-time tech-support work, and working with a high-profile hacker “think tank” called the L0pht (pronounced Loft) to expose corporate security flaws. He would soon become its most prominent member and went on to join a hacking cooperative known as the Cult of the Dead Cow. At the L0pht, Zatko pioneered a strategy of publicly embarrassing companies that refused to patch vulnerabilities that he and his fellow hackers had flagged to them. His biggest nemesis in the 1990s was Microsoft. When Zatko and his colleagues showed it was possible to insert malicious code to run secretly on any machine, Microsoft ignored it. So the L0pht released a user-friendly tool that allowed anybody to break into Windows users’ personal accounts, reasoning that it was the only way to force the company to finally fix its vulnerabilities. It worked. Today, Zatko says, Microsoft has one of the most advanced security programs in the world. Still, “responsible disclosure,” as the tactic of public embarrassment became known, is a bit of a misnomer. Criminals could use the hacking program he released to crack passwords in less than 24 hours, enabling them to steal credit-card or medical data from innocent users using unpatched machines. Zatko says that he thought “long and hard” before deciding that releasing the tool was the only way to make Microsoft change its ways and protect its users, even if some people got hurt in the short term. “Dishonesty is definitely something that frustrates him,” says his wife Sarah, a former mathematician at the National Security Agency. “It doesn’t mean he’s always trying to make a big public fuss, because if you can get things fixed … through proper channels it’s always easier on everybody. But if that’s not possible, there’s always this fallback.” Zatko and other members of the L0pht agreed to testify about internet security on Capitol Hill in May 1998. In the congressional hearing room, they were identified on their placards only by their hacker names. Zatko sat in the center of the group of seven hackers and did most of the talking. Even then, he flashed a flair for the dramatic, getting lawmakers’ attention by infamously claiming he could take down the internet in 30 minutes. “How can we be expected to protect the system and the network,” Zatko asked the assembled Senators, “when all of the seven individuals seated before you can tear down the foundation that the network was built upon?” Douglas Graham—Congressional Quarterly/Getty ImagesComputer hackers from the L0pht testify before a Senate Governmental Affairs hearing on government computer security on May 19, 1998 Still in his 20s, he began to work as an unofficial adviser on internet-security issues to Richard Clarke, who would become the cybersecurity czar for three different U.S. Presidents. A photo from 2000 shows Zatko at the first White House meeting on cybersecurity, talking to then President Bill Clinton. After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, cybersecurity suddenly became an urgent part of counterterrorism strategy. Bad actors and “spam gangs” run out of Russia and Eastern Europe were releasing viruses and other malware, wreaking havoc on systems unprepared to counter them. Zatko began advising U.S. intelligence agencies and the military for free. Zatko was shaken by what he uncovered when he started digging. “I started to figure out numerous ways of knocking the financial sector down,” he says. “It just started to dawn on me that I, as an individual actor, could wreak serious havoc. And this is shortly after 9/11.” He had a bad reaction to drugs that his psychiatrist prescribed to deal with his rising anxiety, which only made things worse. It took a long time for him to emotionally recover. “Every security professional has the moment where they have started to learn enough about the field that all of a sudden they have this existential crisis,” says Zatko’s wife Sarah. “Then you either become [nihilistic] and everything’s hopeless, or else you have to figure out a way to get past it and try to fix your corner of things.” Out of his rut and adopting that new mindset, Zatko was tapped in 2010 to lead cybersecurity efforts at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). “I didn’t go there because I thought it was cool. I didn’t go there because I wanted to be a part of the government,” he told the audience at the DEF CON hacker conference in 2013. “I actually went there because I thought they and other parts of government had kind of lost their way, and I had an opportunity to go in and fix it.” One of his first moves was bringing in hackers and forcing career officials at the military office to spend three days in a conference room with them, says Renee Rush, a U.S. Air Force veteran who worked with him at the agency. “Mudge could go anywhere and get a big paycheck,” Rush says, “but you’ll never find him in a job that doesn’t have a distinctive mission.” AlamyPresident Clinton meets with technology leaders, including Peiter “ Zatko’s sense of principle has a way of engendering loyalty among his many mentees, both inside and outside his field. Ryan Hall, a champion mixed martial artist, became close friends with Zatko after Zatko joined Hall’s gym in Arlington, Va., in 2010 to practice jiu-jitsu. He recalls seeing Zatko at a coffee shop a block from the gym, sporting jeans and a T-shirt, surrounded by men in well-cut suits. “Peiter has very little time for moral waffling,” Hall says. After 3½ years, Zatko left DARPA for stints doing security research at Google and the payment processor Stripe. He cast both as companies that took security advice seriously. “The executives actually back security and let us do things differently (otherwise I wouldn’t be there!),” he tweeted approvingly in 2018 while at Stripe. Over the years, internet security has grown more complicated as its impact expands beyond scams, cyberattacks, and corporate or government security hacks. Zatko publicly expressed his frustration that veteran security experts’ advice was being ignored in the lead-up to the 2016 election. The Democratic National Committee reached out to him for help to improve its network and information security, but even his most basic suggestions were considered too “annoying,” he said. “DNC creates Cybersecurity board made up of well-meaning people with no cybersecurity expertise,” he tweeted in August 2016. “Your move Russia…” Four years later, after the Trump era showed just how essential the security of social media platforms was for safeguarding democracy, Zatko was sitting in his home office in New Jersey. The room is in an extension with no central heating or cooling system. In the winter, it is warmed by “way too many” computer cores—over 100, he estimates. It’s a messy space, with dog-eared textbooks strewn across the floor and framed letters of praise from national security luminaries on the walls. Zatko’s phone rang. On the other end was Dorsey. The man who had co-founded Twitter addressed him as Mudge, and told Zatko the hacker’s work during the 1990s was one of the reasons he pursued a tech career. “That just blew my mind,” Zatko recalls. “I’m talking to the guy who created, let’s face it, a platform that is critical worldwide. It influences governments, social change, it is the perception many people have of the world. And he was telling me that he was interested in me.” Zatko eventually decided to accept the unorthodox job Dorsey was offering, overseeing Twitter’s entire security operations, both data and physical. Zatko saw the protection of a platform as influential as Twitter as perhaps his most effective way to “make a dent in the universe”—a personal motto originating from his time at the L0pht. The move was hailed by experts as a sign of Twitter’s serious commitment to fixing long-standing security issues. As one security analyst put it, “A rare moment of cybersecurity sunshine where it seems the right person is put in the lead on addressing a major issue.” Twitter needed him. The company was reeling from one of the most embarrassing incidents in its 16-year history. In July 2020, a trio that included two teenagers used extremely basic phishing methods to gain access to the accounts of Twitter employees. They were then able to send tweets from the accounts of Joe Biden, Barack Obama, Elon Musk, and a slew of other blue-checked accounts, setting up a scam that netted them over $100,000 in Bitcoin. The incident was hardly the company’s first major security lapse. The year before, the U.S. government had accused two Twitter employees of being moles for the Saudi Arabian government. This month, one of them was found guilty in federal court. Back in 2011, the FTC had filed a complaint against Twitter for failing to protect consumer information. That complaint was supposed to result in Twitter implementing a robust security program resistant to cyberattacks. Yet the success of the July 2020 hackers showed how vulnerable the platform remained. “While Google, Microsoft, Apple, and Meta consistently put out new features to help people protect their accounts and information, Twitter’s focus seemed to be a bit stale,” says Runa Sandvik, a privacy and security researcher. “It’s unclear what Twitter was doing in that space, if anything at all.” Zatko’s whistle-blower complaint says he expected to spend the remainder of his career working at Twitter. But it quickly became apparent that the company was “a decade behind” its competitors, he wrote in a staff memo included in the disclosures. Teams fighting bots were understaffed and overworked, he alleges, and internal security measures Twitter promised to develop in the wake of the 2011 FTC mandate had yet to be rolled out. Zatko’s complaint claims that a serious security breach was occurring at Twitter on average every week. Read More: What the Twitter Whistle-blower Disclosure Means for Elon Musk. On Jan. 6, 2021, Zatko was watching the Capitol insurrection unfold online and asked a Twitter engineering executive to curtail employees’ access to internal systems. He learned that too many employees had irrevocable access. One rogue engineer with the right system privileges could have sabotaged the platform, sowing misinformation and discord, Zatko alleges in his disclosure. Zatko tried to patch these holes. He shuttered several existing security and privacy programs in favor of a new department, optimistically named Confidence. He drew up a three-year plan to improve defense efforts and measure spam bots, which he alleges were running rampant and unchecked across the platform. According to his disclosure, he was met with continual pushback at senior levels of the company, and when it came to security issues, he says, “deliberate ignorance” was the norm. Some product managers were “encouraged” to override security and privacy issues in order to release new products more quickly, his complaint alleges. Current and former Twitter employees who spoke with TIME corroborated the general sweep of Zatko’s allegations that Twitter often prioritized profit over security. “Unless you can make a compelling trade-off argument for why improved security or privacy will benefit the business more than their cost,” says one former Twitter employee, “it’s very hard to enforce change.” Zatko’s complaint adds that his efforts to inform Twitter’s board about various security issues were met with alarm or anger, and that at least twice he was asked by executives to withhold information from the board. Twitter declined multiple requests from TIME to address specific parts of Zatko’s allegations. In his email dated Aug. 23, Agrawal said Zatko’s disclosures as a whole had many inaccuracies in them. Meanwhile, Dorsey, the man who Zatko thought would be his main ally, was increasingly absent and unfocused, Zatko’s disclosure says. A representative for Dorsey’s company, Block, did not respond to a request for comment for this story. The situation began to come to a head in November 2021, when Dorsey resigned. His replacement was Agrawal, who had formerly been the most senior executive in charge of security issues before Zatko arrived. Tensions between the two quickly escalated. Zatko says in his disclosures that he became concerned that Agrawal was going to use the first board meeting of his tenure to diminish the severity of security issues. He wrote to Agrawal on Dec. 15, arguing that there were “numerous, and some significant, misrepresentations” in materials for an upcoming presentation, according to emails contained in the complaint. Agrawal brushed him off, Zatko’s complaint alleges, and the next day, the documents were presented at a high-level Risk Committee board meeting. In a Jan. 4, 2022, email to Agrawal, Zatko called the documents “at worst fraudulent,” and wrote, “I was hired to achieve certain goals and to fix problems here at Twitter. In order to do that, we need to recognize the actual state of affairs at the company.” A few days later, Agrawal wrote back to Zatko, saying that the company had launched an internal investigation into Zatko’s allegations of “fraud.” Zatko was asked for a detailed report to back up his claims, which he began to pull together. Less than two weeks later, before he was able to file the report, he was fired. Zatko retained Whistleblower Aid on March 17, a month before Musk offered to buy Twitter. He concluded he had no choice but to blow the whistle. “Change sometimes requires, you know, kicking the hornet’s nest a little bit,” he says. “Ethically and morally, I had to pursue this.” In interviews, current and former Twitter officials had differing perspectives on Zatko’s allegations. Several said that Zatko was right about many things, including data-management issues, chaotic leadership, and platform vulnerabilities. But some felt he mischaracterized or exaggerated certain details in the disclosure, particularly when it came to issues that he himself did not work on. “He didn’t know what was happening with the bots stuff,” says a current employee who worked with Zatko. “That did not fall under his security purview.” Zatko’s attorneys dispute this, arguing that he did in fact have insight into and authority over the bots issue as the ultimate supervisor of Twitter Services, which oversees global content moderation at scale. The disagreement can be chalked up to Twitter’s messy organizational structure, in which different arms of the company have competing claims to ownership of the bots issue. Hannah McKay—AFP/Getty ImagesJack Dorsey, chief executive officer of Twitter, testifies remotely during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on “ Other parts of Zatko’s disclosures simply pit his word against Twitter’s. One of his most explosive claims is that Twitter “knowingly” hired “agents” of the Indian government. Because of access privileges afforded to many Twitter employees, Zatko says in his disclosure, these alleged agents could access sensitive user data. The hires came at a time when the Indian government was bristling at Twitter’s refusal to identify details about people using the platform to criticize the nation’s ruling party. Zatko had direct responsibility for the physical security of employees at Twitter, and would likely have been directly briefed on alleged espionage efforts. The disclosures state that Zatko has given more details about this incident to the Department of Justice and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Twitter declined multiple requests from TIME to address Zatko’s claims about Indian agents on the record. One person with direct knowledge of Twitter’s internal affairs in India told TIME they had no knowledge of the supposed agent, but said they would not be surprised if the Indian government had at least tried to covertly appoint an agent to Twitter’s payroll, similar to the Saudi case. Some of Zatko’s other claims strike experts as overstated. His disclosure argues that Twitter’s failure to own the rights to training data of machine-learning models constitutes “fraud,” for example. That shortcoming is an industry-wide practice, according to two former Twitter employees and others familiar with industry standards. As the pushback mounts, Zatko tells TIME he stands by his allegations and for legal reasons is unable to talk about his time at Twitter beyond what’s in the disclosures. “I was aware of the most common tactics that would happen, that there would be attempts to character assassinate me or make things personal—anything that would distract from the data and the problem at hand,” Zatko says. While Zatko describes his decision to go public in idealistic terms, the timing of the disclosures is notable. The trial to decide whether Musk must go through with his initial agreement to buy Twitter is set to start in Delaware on Oct. 17. Zatko inserts himself into this battle from the opening pages of his disclosure, claiming that Twitter is “lying about bots to Elon Musk.” Zatko may be drawn directly into the court case: Musk’s lawyer, Alex Spiro, tells TIME his team has subpoenaed Zatko, although Zatko’s lawyers say he has received no such subpoena. Two legal experts say they’re skeptical Zatko’s claims will have a major impact on the lawsuit. He provides scant new information about spam bots, and what he does claim about them has little to do with the merger agreement. Ann Lipton, a law professor at Tulane University, says that Zatko’s claims that Twitter lied in its SEC filings will be hard to prove. “When a disgruntled employee disagrees with management decisions,” Lipton says, “that’s frequently not taken as a sufficient basis for treating an SEC filing as false.” “The question ultimately boils down to the credibility of the assertions made by the whistle-blower, and that is usually determined by the existence of hard evidence,” says Howard Fischer, a former SEC attorney. “Twitter’s real regulatory risk lies in whether or not the documentary evidence, and not the potentially self-serving statements of a former employee, shows knowing or reckless misleading of regulators or investors in public filings and statements.” Greg Kahn for TIMEZatko attending meetings in Washington on Aug. 23, 2022 The disclosures could have other long-lasting financial and political ramifications. The company’s stock price dropped by around 9% in the wake of the disclosures’ publication. The same day, Democratic Senator Dick Durbin and Democratic Representative Frank Pallone announced they were investigating Zatko’s claims, with Pallone calling for “the need to pass comprehensive privacy legislation.” Zatko’s allegations have demoralized Twitter employees, some current staffers say, and may exacerbate a brain drain at a company that has lost many of its leaders and significantly slowed its spending while in Musk-induced limbo. Twitter still has a significant impact on elections and political discourse around the world, and those who are still working on its security and privacy teams will “have to work three or four times harder,” says a former Twitter employee. Knowing that his actions would cause corporate chaos and catalyze government investigations, Zatko says he made his decision with one goal in mind: to make Twitter, and thus the world, safer. Although right now the public can only take him at his word, that may not hold true for long. When he testifies before Congress in September, Zatko—who refused to discuss the meat of his complaint in his interview with TIME—will have the legal cover to expand on the allegations, potentially revealing new and damaging details about what happened within Twitter. Zatko is not the youthful star hacker he used to be. Two days before his interview with TIME, he broke a toe while sparring with a jiu-jitsu opponent, an accident he chalks up in part to partial paralysis of his back, which he says his doctor told him has been brought on by the stress of the past few months. Injury, however, may be necessary if you’re going to engage in the fight. “If you’re just reacting to what an adversary is doing, they’re the ones that are moving you around and manipulating you,” he says. “That’s all too common in this industry.” —With reporting by Leslie Dickstein, Nik Popli, Simmone Shah, and Julia Zorthian.....»»

Category: topSource: timeAug 25th, 2022

"Law and order" is a key campaign issue in Florida US Senate race as police-backed Marco Rubio faces former Orlando police chief Val Demings

Incumbent Rubio has the endorsement of several police groups and he's facing Demings, who was in law enforcement for almost three decades. Rep. Val Demings (L) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R) are running for Senate in Florida.Getty Images Rubio is up for reelection in November and has received endorsements from three police groups. He's likely to face off against Democratic Rep. Val Demings. She worked in law enforcement for 27 years and was Orlando's first female police chief. MIAMI — Pro-police messaging is set to dominate the US Senate race in Florida as incumbent Republican Sen. Marco Rubio prepares to face off against a Democratic opponent who spent almost three decades in law enforcement. On Saturday, Rubio secured the endorsement of the Florida Police Benevolent Association, a union that represents more than 30,000 members. Steadman Stahl, South Florida PBA president, called Rubio a "true champion for law and order" during a Saturday evening press conference at Trump National Doral. The endorsement is key for Rubio. In November, he's likely to face off against Democratic Rep. Val Demings, who was Orlando's first female chief of police and is married to a former sheriff. Two other law enforcement groups have endorsed Rubio: the Florida Police Chiefs Association and 55 of Florida's sheriffs. The pro-police message has been effective for Republicans in past races. As Democrats pushed police reforms and violence soared during the pandemic, Republicans sought to cast all Democrats as being weak on crime and supportive of progressives' unpopular rallying cry to "defund the police." Rubio slammed the stance in remarks he made Saturday. "It was in vogue among some to sort of go out and criticize and attack law enforcement, and talk about the need to dramatically transform it," said Rubio, who is Cuban-American and made his remarks first in English and then in Spanish. But debate over the issue is likely to play out differently in Florida than in other states. Demings's campaign has embraced and even played up her police experience during the race, calling her "Chief Demings" in press releases and other campaign materials instead of "Congresswoman Demings." Demings oversaw a 40% drop in violent crime when she was chief of police, said Christian Slater, spokesman for the Demings campaign, when asked to respond to the Rubio endorsements. "Unlike lifelong politician Marco Rubio, she has an actual record of fighting crime and making communities safer," he said. "As Florida's next senator, Chief Demings will always have law enforcement's back as she works to keep the public safe and ensure law enforcement officers have the resources they need to fight crime."Demings, who has been in the US House since 2017, was one of the managers in then-President Donald Trump's first impeachment trial in the Senate. While in Congress, she has introduced legislation to increase federal grants to police departments. She also voted in favor of the Thin Blue Line Act, a bill that would invoke the death penalty on people who murder law enforcement officers. A bipartisan bill she introduced that would have increased penalties for people who harm police passed the House but wasn't considered in the Senate. Rubio's most recent legislation on law enforcement was a bipartisan bill to help police officers with housing affordability. On Saturday, Rubio said he feared "we're not doing enough" to support police officers, saying it was leading to "a spirit of criminality" and that it would be more difficult for people to enter the profession."This is a very difficult job," he said. "We need to honor and respect the people who do it, who are willing to do it." The pro-police stance in the US Senate in Florida race comes in the shadow of a nationwide reckoning on systemic racism and police brutality. Demings, who is Black, has talked openly about racism in America and in 2020 wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post in which she called for police accountability after Minneapolis Officer Derek Chauvin murdered George Floyd. She voted in favor of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which would have required police departments that use federal funding to have body cameras and would have restricted the use of chokeholds by federal officers. The bill passed the House but was defeated in the Senate under full GOP opposition.  Still, the topic has been a political balancing act for Demings. President Joe Biden initially considered her to be on the shortlist for his running mate in the 2020 elections, though several news stories raised questions about whether her background in law enforcement would be considered a vulnerability among Black voters. Biden ultimately settled on then-Sen. Kamala Harris of California.The extent of support she'll receive from Black voters in Florida will begin to play out in the August 23 primary. At a campaign reelection kick-off in Miami Gardens for state Sen. Shevrin Jones, a Democrat, on Thursday, several attendees told Insider that they planned to support Demings and had been closely watching her candidacy. Miami Gardens is the largest Black district in Florida. "She'll be the first Black US senator to represent Florida," predicted Jones. Demings faces several Democratic opponents in the primary but she's expected to be the nominee because she's massively out-fundraising them all. The latest polling on the race, from the University of North Florida, shows Rubio is favored to win reelection. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMay 22nd, 2022

Marco Rubio vs. Val Demings is set to test whether Democrats should just give up on red-shifting Florida

Demings is seeking household-name status while facing long odds in her US Senate race. Her results will be telling for Democrats' future in Florida. Rep. Val Demings is expected to win the Democratic primary race for a US Senate seat in Florida. If she does, she'll face off against Republican Sen. Marco Rubio in the general election.Tasos Katopodis/Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images; Rachel Mendelson/Insider Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida is expected to face off against Rep. Val Demings for a US Senate seat. Rubio is running at a time when many are wondering whether Florida is even a battleground anymore. Demings is traveling the state to make her pitch to an increasingly conservative electorate. MIAMI — Sen. Marco Rubio's 2016 presidential run gave him national name recognition. Then, after complaining for years about Congress' ineffectiveness, the Florida Republican threw himself into his Senate work.He can now tick off a list of accomplishments. There's his push to double the child tax credit and focus on expanding care for veterans. He secured Everglades funding. And he cowrote the Paycheck Protection Program that sent big money to small businesses at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.Rubio is also one of Congress' go-to experts on foreign policy, and two years ago he landed a coveted role as the top Republican on the Intelligence Committee.And entering the teeth of election season, Rubio, 50, is wearing it all like armor as he seeks a third term."I don't think anybody that's ever served the state of Florida in the Senate has gotten more done than I have over the last five years," Rubio told Insider.But Republicans know better than to take Florida for granted.Ahead of the state's primary in August, a clear Democratic frontrunner to challenge Rubio has emerged: Rep. Val Demings.In Demings, Democrats see a star — a Black woman trailblazer who spent 27 years in law enforcement, including as the chief of police in Orlando.At a recent campaign event with union members in Miami, Demings, 65, appeared confident as she wove stories about her life into a narrative about the need to raise wages, increase voting access, and make healthcare more affordable."We are fighting for the very soul of this country," Demings told a riveted audience. "We are fighting for the Constitution, the rule of law, and our democracy."As if that's not enough, Demings would also carry into November the burden of her party's national aspirations.Florida's US Senate race will be crucial for Democrats' hope — a dwindling one, some liberals concede — of retaining their bare-bones Senate majority. Floridians have dealt blows to Democrats over three election cycles, leading many to question whether the state Barack Obama won twice can even be called a battleground anymore.As of late 2021, Florida's registered Republicans outnumbered its Democrats.Demings could be Democrats' last, best shot at winning statewide office in Florida not only in 2022 but for the foreseeable future.Demings rallied over 200 supporters in Pensacola, Florida, on April 30.Courtesy Demings campaignDemings is still introducing herself to FloridaPolling from the University of North Florida suggests Rubio's reelection prospects are strong. And he enjoys a national backdrop where Democrats could suffer at ballot boxes nationwide amid President Joe Biden's steadily sinking job-approval ratings, now in the low 40s, according to Gallup.Rubio has the added benefit of running on the same ticket as GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis, who's expected to sail to reelection in 2022 ahead of a potential run for president in 2024.One of the biggest tasks Demings has before her is to become a household name.To do that, and to introduce herself to prospective voters, she's conducting campaign events all over Florida.Born Valdez Venita Butler, the youngest of seven children of a janitor and a maid, Demings was the first in her family to graduate from college. She briefly worked as a social worker in Jacksonville before launching a career in Orlando law enforcement. After losing a US House run in 2012 and dropping out of the mayoral race in Orange County, Florida, she won a US House seat in Florida's 10th District in 2016.—Val Demings (@valdemings) February 11, 2022At the union meeting in Miami, Demings stood at a table without any notes before her. She took dramatic pauses between sentences. At times, the 20-person audience seated around her even finished her sentences.Her pitch to voters is straightforward: She overcame enormous odds to realize the American dream, and she wants to be a senator to create more opportunities for others to realize it, too.Once Demings had finished, Elizabeth Judd, a community leader and member of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, told her she's enthralled by her candidacy."It is of the utmost urgency that you replace little Rubio," Judd said, invoking Donald Trump's nickname for Rubio when they were both vying for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.Wes Hodge, the chair of the Orange County Democratic Party, who has worked with Demings at political events, predicted that speaking all over Florida would be a particularly effective strategy for Demings. Hodge said he always puts himself after her in a speaker lineup."The worst place to speak is after Congresswoman Demings," Hodge said, laughing. "I always go, 'I don't wish the spot on anybody, so I'll fall on the sword.'"When she is done speaking, the room is ready to do whatever she wants."But it'll take more than rhetoric to win Florida, a state of more than 21.5 million that's growing increasingly conservative.Both nationally and in Florida, Demings lacks the public profile Rubio so enjoys.Outside her Orlando-centric home district, in places such as Gainesville or Pensacola, Demings isn't a household name.And though she's known for her authoritative questioning of witnesses during congressional hearings, she has sometimes dodged publicity by avoiding reporters as she slips in and out of votes on Capitol Hill.Demings' esteem within Democratic circles has, however, steadily grown, starting with her work as a House impeachment manager during Trump's first Senate trial in 2020.Though the GOP-controlled Senate acquitted Trump, her performance at the trial shone so brightly that it catapulted her to the short list of candidates for Biden's running mate. Demings seemed to embrace the possibility of being vice president, even if Biden ultimately selected Sen. Kamala Harris of California.So how does Demings appeal to voters beyond a dwindling base of loyal Democrats?In part by being who she is.Demings speaks openly about race, inequality, and injustice in America, but her campaign also unabashedly plays up her experience in law enforcement. Demings' husband, Jerry Demings, the mayor of Orange County, is also a former sheriff.It's hardly an accident that Demings is often billed as "Chief Demings" instead of "Congresswoman Demings" in congressional and campaign materials.It's a recognition that her long background in law enforcement — where she said she oversaw a 40% reduction in violent crime — where she could help inoculate against Republican attacks seeking to cast all Democrats as supportive of progressives' unpopular movement to defund the police. It could also help her appeal to center-right independents who aren't enthralled with Rubio.—Val Demings (@valdemings) April 30, 2022"This is the candidate Rubio didn't want to run against," said Eric Johnson, the president of Johnson Strategies, who advised Rubio's 2016 Democratic opponent, Patrick Murphy."Her profile is literally the best," said Joshua Wolf, another Murphy campaign vet whose firm, AL Media Strategies, is working with the Demings campaign. "She has this incredible ability to motivate the base."In August's Democratic primary, which Demings is expected to easily win, she faces seven competitors, including former Rep. Alan Grayson. All the while, Demings' staunchest allies say she has to keep introducing herself to Floridians.In a University of North Florida poll conducted in February, 17% of voters said they were undecided on a Rubio-Demings matchup — a positive statistic for someone who must grow beyond her base in order to win.Vincent Adejumo, a professor of African American studies at the University of Florida in Gainesville, told Insider that to win, Demings would need to receive overwhelming support from Black voters and bring over white centrists.He added that she would also need to siphon off Latinos from Rubio. But the senator's personal profile helps with that demographic: Rubio speaks fluent Spanish, having grown up in Miami as the child of working-class Cuban immigrants. He has a critical advantage in the state's most populous county, Miami-Dade, where he lives and where roughly 70% of residents are Latino.During the first quarter of this year, Demings raised $10 million, while Rubio raised $5.7 million, according to federal campaign-finance disclosures.Mandel Ngan-Pool/Getty ImagesA nationalized Senate raceOne major factor working in Demings' favor is that she's raising a ton of money. Her campaign recently announced a $3 million Hispanic outreach effort.During the first quarter of this year, Demings raised $10 million compared with Rubio's $5.7 million, according to federal campaign-finance disclosures.That's serious cash. Of everyone running for a Senate seat in 2022, Demings has so far raised the fifth-most, at nearly $30.8 million. (Rubio is right behind her, at $30.2 million.)Outside attention is pouring in, too. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is pumping $30 million into nine states it considers battlegrounds for Democrats, including Florida. And Florida Democrats have committed to spending $15 million to increase Democratic voter turnout up and down the ballot.Super PACs — political committees that may raise and spend unlimited sums of money, fueled by megadonors with no particular tie to Florida — are also expected to inject millions of dollars into the race.Given this, a Rubio-Demings showdown is almost certain to rank among the most expensive races in the 2022 midterms, set to soar well into nine figures by the time a winner is declared.This doesn't guarantee Demings' success — in 2020, Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, now the minority leader, trounced his Democratic challenger, Amy McGrath, despite McGrath outraising him. But major financial resources are a prerequisite if Demings has any realistic hope of toppling Rubio."That just tells you how viable she is," Juan Marcos Vilar, the executive director of Alianza for Progress, a group that works to motivate Democratic Latino voters, said of Demings. "If she wasn't viable, it wouldn't generate that level of investment on both sides. It's going to be a clash of titans."It also suggests that Democrats aren't ready to cede Florida to the GOP.Democratic leaders often note that, yes, Florida voted for Trump over both Hillary Clinton in 2016 and Biden in 2020 — but it has also voted for liberal policy staples such as implementing a $15 minimum wage, legalizing medical marijuana, restoring voting rights for people found guilty of felonies, and spending billions of dollars on environmental conservation.All these factors show why Republicans, too, are not complacent in the race.Consider that the Republican National Committee just launched what it's calling "Operation Red" in Florida to knock on thousands of doors and make phone calls on behalf of Republicans including Rubio.Republicans also say they aren't scared by Demings' strong fundraising or her potential with independent voters. They contend that Rubio's name recognition is worth its weight in gold — literally. Other candidates have to buy that recognition through TV, radio, and digital ads in a state with a huge population and multiple major media markets."Democrats have a weak bench, and they feel Val Demings is the best they got," Helen Aguirre Ferré, the executive director of the Republican Party of Florida, told Insider. "They will have to spend a lot of money to sell her image, and good luck to them, because Val Demings doesn't have a record that's worthy of winning a Senate seat."Ana Carbonell, a top GOP operative in Florida who owns the public-policy firm The Factor, said the money itself would do little without an understanding of Florida's voting blocs."Unless you have a keen understanding of the communities throughout the state and the nuances throughout the state, the money doesn't mean anything if you don't have an understanding on how to use it," she said."Democrats have proven time and time again that they just don't get it," she added.Rubio has been calling Demings a "Pelosi puppet."Stefani Reynolds-Pool/Getty Images'Pelosi puppet' versus 'Missing Marco'Because Demings is still introducing herself to voters, Rubio, whose name recognition is all but universal in Florida, has space to define his opponent.For example, Rubio has called Demings a "Pelosi puppet" on Twitter, referring to her tendency to side with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on votes.—Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) December 15, 2021When asked how he stands apart from Demings, Rubio said his office gets high ratings for constituent service. Elizabeth Gregory, a Rubio campaign spokeswoman, said Demings had "zero substantive accomplishments to show for her time in Washington."Democrats' bottom-line message is to cast Rubio as a political lifer devoted more to his party and his own advancement than to voters."Marco Rubio lacks the integrity to put Floridians before the special interest donors that tell him what to do," said Christian Slater, a spokesman for the Demings campaign.The Demings' campaign has contrasted the two lawmakers' votes, pummeling Rubio over voting against Democrats' $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package and the bipartisan infrastructure bill to help fix Florida's roads and bridges.Florida Democrats have been recycling an attack that dates back to Rubio's 2016 presidential campaign by sending out a "Missing Marco Alert" every time he doesn't attend committee meetings — particularly when he appears on national TV instead."He hasn't been around," Manny Diaz, the chairman of the Florida Democratic Party, told Insider in Miami. "You almost sense that he no longer likes the job. His record of showing up to votes and committee meetings is horrendous."Rubio has said he voted against the spending measures because of concerns about the deficit and inflation. Asked about committee absences, Ferré replied, "Floridians care about results, and Senator Rubio delivers."Other attacks against Rubio have been similar to those waged against Republicans in other states.For instance, in recent days Demings has been stumping and fundraising on a promise to codify abortion rights in federal law as the Supreme Court appears poised to overturn Roe v. Wade. Rubio opposes abortion.The Demings campaign also has sought to tie Rubio to a controversial plan from fellow Sen. Rick Scott of Florida, the head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, to force everyone to pay at least some taxes.While Rubio hasn't supported such a measure, the Demings campaign labeled the plan the "Rubio-Scott Tax Hike" and ran an ad imploring voters to "tell Rubio to take a hike." In turn, the Rubio campaign has accused Demings of "auditioning to be Joe Biden's running mate" when Rubio was working on COVID-19 relief for small businesses.But the Demings campaign has a tougher task than other Democrats have in going after Rubio. Democrats' wins in Southern states in recent years have come against opponents with serious allegations that were impossible to come back from, such as the financial entanglements of Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue in Georgia or the sexual-misconduct allegations against Roy Moore in Alabama.Rubio isn't especially controversial and by numerous accounts gets along with his colleagues and staffers, who call him by his first name.And even with Trump, who now lives in Florida, Rubio has managed a balance: He comes across as neither a knee-jerk genuflector nor a scathing critic. Despite their turbulent history — including Rubio's descriptions of Trump as a "con artist" and his comment in 2016 that prompted Trump to defend the size of his genitalia — Rubio scored a coveted Trump endorsement a year ago."He has carved out a nice lane for himself to be independent while still being able to speak the language with MAGA, with the tea party, but still have his own brand of what he does," Adejumo said.To win, Demings can't rely on trashing Trump or tying Rubio to the former president — she must deliver a concise message about how she could improve voters' lives, Adejumo said."It can't be a message of 'He's the bogeyman,'" he said. "If that's the strategy, you might as well pack it up."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMay 12th, 2022

LAPD Targets "Follow-Home" Robbery Crime Wave

LAPD Targets "Follow-Home" Robbery Crime Wave Authored by Jill McLaughlin via The Epoch Times, Police are ramping up efforts to crush an escalating wave of violent crime in the Los Angeles area targeting popular shopping districts, wealthy residents, and celebrities. A spate of “follow-home” robbers turned deadly this week, resulting in the murder of a 23-year-old man outside of a restaurant on Sunset Boulevard Nov. 23. The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) responded to the homicide by announcing the formation of a “Follow Home Task Force.” The county sheriff also declared his intention to do what it took to stop the growing trend. Violent crimes are on the rise in Los Angeles. Area law enforcement reported an increase of nearly 4 percent since 2019, according to the latest law enforcement numbers released in October. Police Chief Michel Moore said gang violence was an underlying influence. The department had identified 133 robberies connected to the trend of suspects following victims home from Melrose Avenue, the Jewelry District, and high-end restaurants and nightclubs, Moore said this week. “The victims were being targeted based on the high-end jewelry they were wearing or the high-end car they were driving,” the LAPD said in a Nov. 24 release. Last week, the LAPD reported that six gangs were involved in the violent “follow-home robberies” spree. “When we look at the underlying influences of that street violence … Those involved with gangs continue to be the highest area of concentration,” Moore told NBC Los Angeles in June. Los Angeles, nicknamed the “Gang Capital of America,” has about 450 active gangs operating in the county, the LAPD reported in September. Street gangs were involved in a 37 percent increase in murders by June, Moore told reporters, adding that he believed the overall spikes in killings and shootings were related to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. The city has seen a 49 percent increase in homicides, recording 325 in the first 10 months this year, and a 16 percent jump in aggravated assaults. The number of people shot climbed to 1,203 by Oct. 23—a 50 percent jump since 2019—according to the report. The number of shooting victims was about 122 a month from August through October. Criminals have also targeted vehicles, resulting in a dramatic rise of 50 percent in auto thefts this year. During that same time, law enforcement recorded a 28 percent decrease in arrests, with arrests for violent crimes dropping nearly 9 percent in the Los Angeles area. The LAPD reported making 16 percent fewer traffic stops and almost 2 percent, or 770, fewer arrests this year, compared to last year. Officers made 34 percent fewer stops this year and 31 percent fewer arrests than five years ago. The apparent gang-related robberies follow a trend—dubbed as “burglary tourism” by the police—involving Chilean gangs identified last year. In 2020, law enforcement alerted the public about gangs of Chilean nationals using visa waivers to come to the U.S. for the purpose of burglarizing homes, businesses, and vehicles. In February, five Chilean men were arrested in connection to a burglary spree that targeted trailheads and dog parks throughout Thousand Oaks. ‘Follow-Home’ Robberies in US and UK Similar “follow-home” robberies and crimes targeting celebrities or wealthy residents have also occurred in San Francisco, New York, Houston, and the United Kingdom. In July, a couple was followed to their San Francisco home and robbed by a man with a semi-automatic rifle. The suspect rear-ended the couple’s car while they drove home from a mall. In April, a San Francisco woman also reported being followed home from Richmond to Sunset and attacked for her handbag and jewelry, and a father was held at gunpoint outside his Concord home after being followed home from lunch in Walnut Creek, according to news reports. County, State to Join Efforts Targeting Criminals Los Angeles County and state officials said this week they intended to increase efforts to curtail the crime wave. The county sheriff Alex Villanueva also said his department would take steps to stop the recent rash of violence. “This is completely unacceptable,” Villanueva wrote in a social media post Nov. 23. “As long as I am your Sheriff, we will do what it takes to stop this growing trend of lawlessness. This is what happens when you defund the police.” Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday he planned to send a budget proposal to lawmakers in January that contained “an exponential increase of support” to help cities and counties fight organized retail theft and “other quality of life issues.” Decrease in Police Presence Law enforcement responded quickly at first to the uptick in shootings and robberies in the Melrose Avenue area this year by increasing foot and horse patrols, but that has diminished. The lack of police presence this week concerned some residents and businesses on the avenue after recent robberies. One longtime resident said police presence in the area was needed to keep crime under control. “I think it’s very vital to have a constant police presence,” said Ron Ashford, 73, a 30-year resident of the adjacent Fairfax District. He said he was concerned when the patrols slowed down recently, reflecting on the situation Wednesday as he sat at a table on the sidewalk on Melrose Avenue. He has seen crime increase in the area, and “It wasn’t this bad years ago,” he said. Ashford said he is concerned crime will escalate if police retreat from the area. “I said, watch, when it dies down, [the criminals] will come back,” Ashford said. On July 19, three suspects attempted to rob victims at gunpoint in the parking lot of Media Wine and Spirits. One of the victims used his own firearm to shoot at the suspects, apparently hitting two of them, according to the LAPD. Two of the suspects were arrested. The incident was just one of several violent crimes along Melrose Avenue this year. In September, outdoor diners were held at gunpoint at La Crème Café and robbed of property. The next day, an employee at the Oldboy Barbershop was also robbed. And in August, a Shoe Palace employee was shot and killed during a shoe raffle. On Nov. 13, victims were returning home to a short-term rental on North Gardner Street, about a block from Melrose Avenue. They were followed home and robbed at gunpoint by eight suspects after returning from a nightclub. Media Wine and Spirits owner Askkar said the shooting at his store parking lot was an isolated event. His customers were doing well and life has returned to “normal” along the avenue after an increase in police presence, he said. “There is no threat,” Askar told the Epoch Times. “Everything is cool. We’re good and everything is safe.” Some shops are taking precautions, posting private security outside, or changing the way they operate. The Spitfire Girl clothing store has stopped allowing female employees to close by themselves after the crimes, a store clerk told the Epoch Times. “Oftentimes, people are making us feel uncomfortable,” associate Sean Ghedi said. A store employee who watches the open door to Cookies & Kicks, a shoe store on Melrose Avenue, said he was working when shots were fired during the robbery at Media Wine and Spirits. Their store hasn’t had any problems, the employee who asked to remain anonymous told the Epoch Times. “This is the nicer part of LA, but it’s still LA at the end of the day,” the employee said. Celebrities, Wealthy Residents Targeted Celebrity Dorit Kemsley of “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” reported Oct. 27 she was followed to her Encino home by two men wearing masks. A home video showed the men smashing sliding glass doors to gain entry before taking as much as $1 million in valuables. Former BET host “Terrence J” Jenkins was followed to his Sherman Oaks home at about 3 a.m. Nov. 10 by four masked men in a silver Jeep Cherokee, police reported. One of them ordered him out of his car, but he and a passenger drove away, instead, and were followed by the suspects. Shots were fired, but no one was injured, according to reports. Actor and comedian Jeremy Piven reported a burglary at his home in the Hollywood Hills in October when $20,000 worth of clothing was stolen, he said. Singer Rihanna’s Los Angeles home was also targeted in July when a man reportedly jumped one of her walls in an attempt to break into her house, police reported. Residents Increase Private Security Onguard Inc., a security guard service that serves southern California, has received several requests for service from businesses and residents after the recent “follow-home robberies.” “There has been an increase in calls and an increase in clients reaching out to us,” Onguard Inc. CEO Ray Nomair told the Epoch Times. One couple requested 24-hour security guards posted in their driveway at their Beverly Hills home until February. Another client asked for private protection while her husband was traveling, he said. The clients are afraid of trespassers breaking in and stealing property, he said. The Ring cameras that residents install themselves to monitor their properties are not enough in these cases, Nomair said. Police: Residents Not Wear Expensive Jewelry, Clothing The LAPD issued a list of recommendations for area residents to help avoid the “follow home robberies.” Police suggested residents should not wear expensive jewelry or other “high-value” property and to be aware of their surroundings when walking out of a restaurant or other place of business. “There’s no item of jewelry or piece of property that they have that is worth their life, and so if they find themselves in such a perilous situation, to cooperate, be a good witness. … Do not chase people, do not try to pursue people, and do not try to take actions yourself other than to minimize the chance that you become a victim of the type of violence we saw this morning,” Moore told reporters. The LAPD recommended that if drivers noticed they were being followed, they should not drive home and instead go to a police station and call 911. Tyler Durden Sun, 11/28/2021 - 15:50.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeNov 28th, 2021

The Supreme Court could keep moving the country to the right in a new term featuring major cases on affirmative action, voting rights, and free speech

"It's probably the worst environment in the Supreme Court that has ever existed in history," one court observer said. Protesters fill the street in front of the Supreme Court after the court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade in Washington, June 24, 2022.Jacquelyn Martin/Associated Press SCOTUS begins a new term on Monday, following a historic summer of decisions, notably the end of Roe v. Wade. The justices will review major cases on affirmative action, voting rights, and free speech. "It's probably the worst environment in the Supreme Court that has ever existed in history," a court observer said.  The Supreme Court has recently driven American law and life quickly to the right, handing down seismic decisions in June that eliminated constitutional protections for abortion, expanded gun rights, and bolstered religious liberties. That rightward trend will likely continue when the justices take the bench on Monday for what's shaping up to be another consequential term, featuring high-profile cases on affirmative action, election laws, and free speech, among many others. "There's no reason to think this coming term, or any term in the foreseeable future, will be any different. On things that matter most, get ready for a lot of 6-3s," Irv Gornstein, executive director at Georgetown Law's Supreme Court Institute, said during a term preview event in September.The 6-3 conservative majority returns as it faces sinking public approval ratings, which plummeted in the wake of its recent decisions, most notably the overturning of Roe v. Wade on June 24. The ruling triggered a wave of abortion bans in Republican-led states, with one in three women losing access to the procedure. Undoing 50 years of precedent, the decision has spurred questions about the court's legitimacy, prompting some of the justices themselves to publicly defend the institution.The court has also been shaken by the unprecedented leak on May 3 of a draft opinion in the abortion case, which an internal committee is still investigating. The leak sparked nationwide protests during a time of already intense political polarization. Law enforcement officials on June 8 arrested an armed man who made threats against Justice Brett Kavanaugh near his home in Maryland, eventually resulting in President Joe Biden signing a bill into law that extends security protections to Supreme Court justices' families. And the court is under increased scrutiny after Justice Clarence Thomas' wife, Ginni, pushed Republican state lawmakers and White House officials to overturn Biden's 2020 election victory. The House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, Capitol riot plans to interview Ginni in the coming weeks. "The bottom line is, I think it's probably the worst environment in the Supreme Court that has ever existed in history," Richard Pierce, a law professor at the George Washington University Law School, told Insider. Monday is the first time the court will re-open to the public since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. And it'll be Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson's first term following her historic confirmation as the first Black woman nominated to the high court. The court will continue to add more cases to its docket in the coming months, and decisions will be handed down by next June. Here are some important cases to follow:Justice Clarence Thomas.Erin Schaff/Associated PressSCOTUS could end affirmative action in college admissionsFor more than 40 years, the Supreme Court has held that universities may consider race as a component of their admissions processes. But the justices could toss out that precedent as it's being challenged in two major cases. Students for Fair Admissions, a nonprofit founded in 2014 by Edward Blum, an opponent of affirmative action policies, alleged that the University of North Carolina discriminated against Asian and white applicants and violated the Constitution's equal protection clause by considering race in its admissions.The group also sued Harvard University, claiming the Ivy League school discriminated against Asian applicants, in violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits private institutions that receive federal funding from discriminating on the basis of race. Challengers have asked the Supreme Court to overturn a nearly 20-year-old landmark ruling, Grutter v. Bollinger, that upheld affirmative action. Both of the universities have denied claims of discrimination, and argued that their race-conscious admissions programs are lawful. The lower courts agreed with them.But the Supreme Court decided to take up the pair of cases, clearing the way for the conservative majority to potentially eliminate affirmative action in higher education – a hot-button issue that's long been publicly debated. A ruling in favor of the challengers could upend college admissions processes and likely lead to fewer minority students enrolled. "That will have enormous implications for universities all over the country, and then ripple effects in every other area: employment, for instance," Pierce said. Arguments for the cases are scheduled for October 31. A view of the U.S. Supreme Court building.Anna Moneymaker/Getty ImagesThe court could upend how elections are runAnother blockbuster case concerns a radical legal theory that, if the Supreme Court embraces, could have the power to upend how elections are run nationwide.North Carolina House Speaker Timothy Moore, along with other Republican members of the state's general assembly, have asked the justices to review the "independent state legislature" theory, which asserts that the Constitution gives state legislatures the power to draw voting maps and set election laws, without any oversight from other authorities, like the state courts or the governor. The legislators invoked the theory in response to the North Carolina State Supreme Court striking down their newly drawn congressional map as a partisan gerrymander that favored Republicans. The Republican lawmakers want the Supreme Court to reinstate their map and to support their independent state legislature doctrine.The little-known theory gained ground in the 2020 elections, as former President Donald Trump and his allies relied on it to support their unsuccessful bid to overturn President Joe Biden's victory. Legal experts have widely debunked the theory, arguing that it has no place in the Constitution. They've also sounded the alarm about the potential consequences of the Supreme Court accepting it, tossing out the way elections have been handled for hundreds of years."This would effectively remove all checks and balances at the state level, handing virtually unchecked power to set federal election rules to politicians in the state capitol, cutting out the governor and the state courts and the state constitution," Thomas Wolf, deputy director for the Brennan Center's Democracy Program, told Insider, adding that such an outcome would be "catastrophic." Arguments for the case have not been scheduled by the court yet.A redrawn congressional map is also at the heart of another significant case before the Supreme Court, in which the justices will hear a challenge to Alabama's 2020 redistricting plan.A group of Black voters claimed the state legislature diluted their voting power by packing Black Alabamans into one of the state's seven congressional districts, instead of creating two majority-Black districts. Republican state lawmakers argued that they drew the map from a race-neutral standpoint, and that the Constitution does not require them to create districts based on race. Federal judges sided with the challengers, ordering Alabama to create a new map as the current one likely violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, which prohibits voting practices that discriminate on the basis of race."We trust that after reviewing our argument, the United States Supreme Court will protect the Voting Rights Act as well as the rights of the very communities who marched to ensure its passage," Evan Milligan, executive director at Alabama Forward and the lead plaintiff in the case, told Insider in a statement.Alabama called on the Supreme Court to reverse the decision, which it did, and consequently took up the case for review.The justices have chipped away at the Voting Rights Act through a series of rulings over the past several years, and could do so again in this case."It would undermine the entire reason why we have the Voting Rights Act in the first place. It's a landmark piece of legislation that really is about how the history of discrimination interacts with present political conditions," Yurij Rudensky, senior counsel for the Brennan Center's Democracy Program, told Insider.Arguments for the case are scheduled for October 4. Chief Justice John Roberts.Leah Millis-Pool/Getty ImagesThe court will review free-speech, Native American rights, and more The court is set to review a slew of other important matters, including those involving water pollution, Native American rights, and free speech.The first case the court will hear on Monday is Sackett v. Environmental Protection Agency, which deals with an Idaho couple who sought to build on their land but the EPA blocked them from doing so on the grounds that the area contained wetlands regulated by the agency under the Clean Water Act. "It's a very, very hard case, a hard question, because on one side you have people like the Sacketts and lots of other people, particularly rural people who don't have freedom to use their own property the way they would like to," Pierce said. "But on the other side, you've got people who are harmed by pollution and would be harmed by any pollution that begins in, say, some isolated pond on somebody's property, but then whenever there's heavy rainfall, finds its way into a river."Later in the term, the court will hear arguments about whether parts of the decades-old federal Indian Child Welfare Act are unconstitutional. Congress passed the legislation in 1978 in response to growing concerns that Native American children were being separated from their families and adopted by non-Native families. But challengers say the law discriminates against non-Native Americans. And in a free-speech case, the court will revisit religious and LGBTQ+ rights as a Colorado designer refuses to create wedding websites for same-sex couples because of her religious beliefs. The case is reminiscent of a Colorado baker who refused to create a wedding cake for a same-sex couple because of his religious beliefs. The Supreme Court narrowly ruled in favor of the baker in 2018, but did not address the major free-speech questions at issue.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderOct 1st, 2022

See every stock trade Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene and her husband have made since 2021

MTG told Insider that she has an investment advisor who makes trades for her. Several of the trades are incongruent with her own political stances. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene and her family have made several stock trades that are incongruent with her own espoused values.John Bazemore-Pool/Getty Images Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene and her husband are frequent stock traders. Several of the Greenes' stock trades are with companies whose values conflict with those of MTG. Insider compiled each of Greene and her family's trades that she has reported since 2021. As members of Congress debate whether they and their spouses should be able to trade stocks, Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene and her family continue to regularly buy, sell, and hold stock in various companies.Some of Greene's investments appear to stand in direct opposition with the Georgia congresswoman's political statements and ideology.Notable examples include Greene and her husband's investments in Visa and Walmart, two companies whose executives have openly supported the Black Lives Matter movement. Despite her investment in the companies, Greene has expressed serious disdain for the movement.In April 2021, Greene called Black Lives Matter the "strongest terrorist threat" in the country and introduced legislation to give Congressional Gold Medals to "the law enforcement officers and those who protected American cities during the Black Lives Matter (BLM) riots."Greene and her husband, Perry Greene, have also invested significant amounts of money in companies that say they'll pay for their employees to travel out-of-state to obtain abortions. Greene is a staunch opponent of abortion rights.Additionally, Greene and her husband also continue to hold up to $45,000 in stock in the Walt Disney Company, which the congresswoman accused of being "pro-child predator" for opposing Florida's "Don't Say Gay" law.Greene also recently suggested that the Highland Park shooter could have suffered from psychosis due to smoking marijuana and has voted against several marijuana-related bills while in office. In spite of this, Insider found that she and her husband previously held and sold stock in Medical Marijuana Inc.Greene previously told Insider in an email that she does not personally make any of her trades."I have an independent investment advisor that has full discretionary authority on my accounts," Greene wrote. "I do not direct any trades."In September 2022, Greene and her husband announced they're getting divorced, which for now means an uncertain future for the substantial stock assets they jointly own.Here are all of the trades reported by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene during 2021 and 2022:AbbVie Inc. (ABBV)A screen displays the share price for pharmaceutical maker AbbVie on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange July 18, 2014.REUTERS/Brendan McDermidGreene and her husband jointly purchased stock in AbbVie Inc. on June 16, 2021, worth between $1,000 and $15,000Activision Blizzard Inc. (ATVI)The Activision Blizzard booth during the 2013 E3 Electronic Entertainment Expo at Los Angeles Convention Center on June 11, 2013, in Los Angeles, California.(Photo by Daniel Boczarski/WireImage)Greene and her husband jointly sold stock in Activision Blizzard on January 18, 2022 worth between $1,000 and $15,000The couple sold their stock on the same day Microsoft announced its plans to purchase the company, causing Activision Blizzard's stock price to soar. Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD)Advanced Micro Devices staffers celebrate the company's anniversary.Associated PressGreene and her husband made a joint purchase of Advanced Micro Devices stock worth between $1,000 and $15,000 on January 21, 2021Greene and her husband made a joint purchase of stock in the company worth between $1,000 and $15,000 on May 19, 2021Greene purchased stock in the company worth between $1,000 and $15,000 on February 22, 2022AFLAC Incorporated (AFL)AflacGreene purchased stock in the insurance company on February 22, 2022, worth between $1,000 and $15,000Albemarle Corporation (ALB)Greene and her husband made a joint purchase of stock in the specialty chemicals company on August 31, 2021, worth between $1,000 and $15,000Alphabet Inc. — Class C Capital Stock (GOOG)The Google logo is seen at the company's headquarters in Mountain View, California. Alphabet is Google's parent company.Marcio Jose Sanchez/APGreene and her husband sold between $15,000 and $50,000 worth of the tech giant's stock on January 20, 2021Greene's husband sold between $1,000 and $15,000 worth of the stock on January 20, 2021Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN)An Amazon logo is displayed on a fulfillment center.Gabe Ginsberg/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty ImagesGreene's husband sold Amazon stock worth between $1,000 and $15,000 on January 20, 2021Greene and her husband jointly sold stock in the company on January 20, 2021, worth between $15,000 and $50,000Amgen Inc. (AMGN)REUTERS/Robert GalbraithGreene and her husband made a joint purchase of the pharmaceutical company's stock on July 19, 2021, valued between $1,000 and $15,000Greene purchased stock on February 22, 2022, worth between $1,000 and $15,000Apple Inc. (AAPL)Apple logo at an Apple store on May 31, 2022 in Berlin, Germany.Thomas Trutschel/Photothek via Getty ImagesGreene and her husband made a joint purchase of Apple stock on May 12, 2021, valued between $15,000 and $50,000 Greene and her husband sold stock valued between $15,000 and $50,000 on January 20, 2021Greene's husband sold stock worth between $1,000 and $15,000 on January 20, 2021Applied Materials Inc. (AMAT)Greene and her husband made a joint purchase of stock in the company, which supplies materials and services for the manufacture of semiconductor chips, on June 16, 2021, with a value of between $1,000 and $15,000Greene and her husband purchased stock on August 31, 2021, worth between $1,000 and $15,000AT&T Inc. (T)Despite donating to politicians who support abortion rights, AT&T also donated $1.2 million to politicians opposing abortion access.Photo Illustration by Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty ImagesGreene and her husband made a joint purchase of the telecommunications company's stock valued between $1,000 and $15,000 on June 16, 2021Automatic Data Processing Inc. (ADP)Greene bought stock in the human resources management software and services company on February 22, 2022, valued between $1,000 and $15,000 Bank of America Corporation (BAC)Bank of AmericaGreene and her husband bought stock in the company valued between $1,000 and $15,000 on January 21, 2021Despite Greene's strong anti-abortion stance, she and her husband are investors in Bank of America, a company that said it would reimburse travel costs for employees seeking an abortion.Becton, Dickinson, and Company (BDX)Greene and her husband purchased between $1,000 and $15,000 worth of stock in the medical technology company on May 12, 2021BHP Group Limited American Depositary Shares (BHP)Greene and her husband purchased stock in the mining company on May 19, 2021, worth between $1,000 and $15,000Block Inc. Class A Common Stock (SQ)In this photo illustration, a Block Inc. logo is seen on a smartphone screen.Photo Illustration by Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty ImagesGreene's dependent child purchased stock in Square Inc. valued between $1,000 and $15,000 on June 3, 2021Greene and her husband made a joint purchase of stock in Block Inc. on December 16, 2021, worth between $1,000 and $15,000Square Inc. changed its name to Block Inc. on December 1, 2021.Broadcom Inc. (AVGO)ReutersGreene's husband bought stock in the semiconductor company on January 22, 2021, valued between $1,000 and $15,000Caterpillar, Inc. (CAT)The ship engine manufacturer Caterpillar in Rostock-Warnemünde.Photo by Jens Büttner/picture alliance via Getty ImagesGreene and her husband purchased between $1,000 and $15,000 worth of stock in the heavy machinery company on January 21, 2021Greene purchased between $1,000 and $15,000 of stock on February 22, 2022The Chevron logo is displayed at a Chevron gas station.PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty ImagesGreene and her husband made a joint purchase of the oil company's stock on June 16, 2021, worth between $1,000 and $15,000Greene purchased between $1,000 to $15,000 worth of stock on February 22, 2022Clorox Company (CLX)Igor Golovniov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty ImagesGreene and her husband made a joint purchase of stock in the cleaning product company on August 5, 2021, worth between $15,000 and $50,000Greene bought between $1,000 and $15,000 worth of stock on February 22, 2022Coca-Cola Company (KO)AP Photo/Seth PerlmanGreene's husband bought between $1,000 and $15,000 worth of stock in the beverage giant on January 22, 2021Costco Wholesale Corporation (COST)A Costco truck makes a delivery to a Costco store in Carlsbad, California.Mike Blake/ReutersGreene and her husband made a joint purchase of stock valued between $1,000 and $15,000 on July 19, 2021Greene's husband purchased between $15,000 and $50,000 worth of stock on June 10, 2022CRISPR Therapeutics AG - Common Shares (CRSP)Greene and her husband made a joint purchase of stock in the biotechnology company on January 21, 2021, worth between $1,000 and $15,000Digital World Acquisition Corp. - Class A (DWAC)Donald Trump (left) and a phone displaying his social media app, TRUTH Social, which Digital World Acquisition Corp. is behind.Brandon Bell/Christoph Dernbach/Getty ImagesGreene and her husband made a joint purchase of stock worth between $15,000 and $50,000 on October 22, 2021Digital World Acquisition Corp. is the company behind President Donald Trump's new social media platform, TRUTH Social. Greene was the first member of Congress to invest in the company.DraftKings Inc. — Class A (DKNG)DraftKings is one of four operators that started taking mobile sports wagers on January 8, 2022.Bruce Bennett/Getty ImagesGreene and her husband bought between $1,000 and $15,000 worth of the fantasy sports and gambling company's stock on January 21, 2021Facebook Inc. - Class A (FB)Dado Ruvic/ReutersGreene's husband sold $1,000 to $15,000 worth of the social media company's stock on January 20, 2021Greene and her husband jointly sold stock in the company on January 20, 2021, valued between $15,000 and $50,000Facebook Inc. is now known as Meta Platforms Inc. Despite Greene's strong anti-abortion stance, she and her husband were invested in Meta, a company that said it would reimburse travel costs for employees seeking an abortion.Gilead Sciences Inc. (GILD)AP Photo/Paul SakumaGreene and her husband made a joint purchase of stock in the biopharmaceutical company worth between $1,000 and $15,000 on January 21, 2021Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS)The bank's "flexible vacation" scheme took effect at the beginning of May.APGreene's husband purchased $1,000 to $15,000 worth of stock in the banking giant on January 22, 2021Green's husband bought $1,000 to $15,000 worth of stock on June 10, 2022Home Depot Inc. (HD)Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty ImagesGreene's husband purchased stock in the home improvement company worth between $15,000 and $50,000 on June 10, 2022Home Depot has been a supporter of LGBT rights in the US and lobbied in favor of the Equality Act.In May 2022, Greene predicted that straight people would go extinct because of "trans terrorists" and LGBT-related education in schools."Probably, in about four or five generations, no one will be straight anymore. Everyone will be either gay or trans or non-conforming or whatever the list of 50 or 60 different options there are," Greene said in a video.Intel Corporation (INTC)Justin Sullivan/Getty ImagesGreene and her husband made a joint purchase of the computer chip company's stock on July 19, 2021, worth between $1,000 and $15,000 Greene's husband purchased $1,000 to $15,000 worth of stock in the company on June 10, 2022International Paper Company (IP)Greene and her husband made a joint purchase of stock worth between $1,000 and $15,000 on June 16. 2021Invesco QQQ Trust, Series 1 (QQQ)Greene's husband invested in the exchange-traded fund on June 10, 2022, valued between $15,000 and $50,000 J.M. Smucker Company (SJM)Igor Golovniov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty ImagesGreene and her husband made a joint purchase of the food company stock on January 21, 2021, valued between $1,000 and $15,000 JP Morgan Chase & Co. (JPM)A view of the exterior of the JPMorgan Chase & Co. corporate headquarters in New York City.Mike Segar/ReutersGreene and her husband made a joint purchase of the financial company stock on December 16, 2021, worth between $1,000 and $15,000Greene and her husband bought between $1,000 and $15,000 worth of stock on January 19, 2022Despite Greene's strong anti-abortion stance, she and her husband are investors in JP Morgan Chase & Co., a company that said it would reimburse travel costs for employees seeking an abortion.Kinder Morgan Inc. (KMI)Greene and her husband purchased between $1,000 and $15,000 worth of stock in the energy infrastructure company on June 16, 2021Lockheed Martin Corporation (LMT)Liz Kaszynski/Lockheed MartinGreene and her husband made a joint purchase of stock in defense contractor Lockheed Martin on November 15, 2021, valued between $1,000 and $15,000Greene and her husband bought stock worth between $1,000 and $15,000 on December 16, 2021Greene and her husband purchased stock valued between $1,000 and $15,000 on January 21, 2021Greene bought $1,000 to $15,000 worth of stock on February 22, 2022Greene faced criticism for her purchase of Lockheed Martin stock on February 22, 2022, as it came just two days before Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Lockheed Martin manufactures some of the weapon systems the United States government has sent to Ukraine."Add this to the list of why members of Congress should never be allowed to trade stocks," Rep. Ilhan Omar said.Medical Marijuana Inc. (MJNA)Greene and her husband sold between $1,000 and $15,000 worth of stock in the medical marijuana company on February 5, 2021Following the Highland Park mass shooting on July 4, 2022, Greene suggested that the shooter suffered from psychosis due to frequent marijuana usage.It "affects everyone differently," Greene said in the video, "Some people thrive on it. Some people do well on it. Some people say they can focus on it, but for some people, it actually causes psychosis, which absolutely could be the case ... if you watch any of this guy's music videos, he clearly was suffering from psychosis."Greene also voted against or abstained from voting in House votes relating to marijuana.Medtronic plc. Ordinary Shares (MDT)A Micra AV pacemaker is on display at the Medtronic booth during the 4th China International Import Expo (CIIE) at the National Exhibition and Convention Center (Shanghai) on November 5, 2021 in Shanghai, China.Tang Yanjun/China News Service via Getty ImagesGreene and her husband made a joint purchase of the medical device company's stock on January 19, 2022, worth between $1,000 and $15,000 Nestle SA Sponsored ADR representing Registered Shares Series B (NSRGY)Arnd Wiegmann/ReutersGreene and her husband purchased stock in the food company on May 18, 2021, worth between $1,000 and $15,000 Greene and her husband purchased stock worth between $1,000 and $15,000 on May 19, 2021Greene and her husband bought stock valued between $1,000 and $15,000 on June 16, 2021Greene and her husband purchased stock valued between $1,000 and $15,000 on July 19, 2021Greene and her husband bought between $1,000 and $15,000 worth of stock on December 16, 2021Greene and her husband bought between $1,000 and $15,000 worth of stock on January 19, 2022Greene's husband sold $15,000 to $50,000 worth of stock on June 10, 2022NextEra Energy Inc. (NEE)In this photo illustration, Nextera Energy Inc. logo seen displayed on a smartphone with the stock market information of Nextera Energy Inc. in the background.Photo Illustration by Igor Golovniov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty ImagesGreene and her husband purchased stock in the power company on April 16, 2021, worth between $1,000 and $15,000Greene and her husband bought $1,000 to $15,000 worth of stock on May 18, 2021Greene purchased $1,000 to $15,000 worth of the stock on February 22, 2022Greene has expressed skepticism toward the climate-change crisis and humans' role in the planet's warming. "Maybe perhaps we live on a ball that rotates around the sun, that flies through the universe, and maybe our climate just changes," Greene said at a town hall in Murray County, Georgia.Despite this, she invested in NextEra, a power-generation company that's been vocal about working to diversify its power generation toward renewable and low-emission sources."Our industry can best confront climate change by investing in clean power generation that produces zero or low emissions," NextEra said in a 2020 report. "We believe that no company in any industry has done more to reduce carbon emissions and to confront climate change than NextEra Energy."NVIDIA Corporation (NVDA)David Becker/Stringer/Getty ImagesGreene and her husband bought $1,000 to $15,000 worth of the computing company stock on July 19, 2021PagSeguro Digital Ltd. Class A Common Shares (PAGS)PagSeguroPagSeguroGreene and her husband purchased stock in the financial services company on December 16, 2021, valued between $1,000 and $15,000Greene's husband purchased between $1,000 and $15,000 worth of the stock on January 22, 2021Greene and her husband bought between $1,000 and $15,000 worth of the stock on January 21, 2021PayPal Holdings Inc. (PYPL)An image of a woman holding a cell phone in front of the PayPal logo displayed on a computer screen.Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty ImagesGreene and her husband bought between $1,000 and $15,000 worth of the stock in the financial services company on November 15, 2021 Greene and her husband purchased stock valued between $1,000 and $15,000 on December 16, 2021Penn National Gaming Inc. (PENN)Igor Golovniov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty ImagesGreene and her husband bought between $1,000 and $15,000 worth of the gambling company's stock on December 15, 2021Greene and her husband purchased stock valued between $1,000 and $15,000 on January 22, 2021 Proctor & Gamble Company (PG)The Procter & Gamble logo.Business WireGreene's husband purchased stock in the consumer product company on June 10, 2022, valued between $1,000 and $15,000QUALCOMM Incorporated (QCOM)REUTERS/ Albert GeaGreene and her husband made a joint purchase of the wireless technology company's stock on April 16, 2021, worth between $1,000 and $15,000Rackspace Technology Inc. (RXT)Greene and her husband sold $1,000 to $15,000 worth of stock in the cloud computing company on December 16, 2021Salesforce.com Inc (CRM)Salesforce logoOmar Marques/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty ImagesGreene and her husband purchased stock in the customer service software company on April 15, 2021, valued between $1,000 and $15,000Seagate Technology Holdings PLC - Ordinary Shares (STX)Sign with logo on facade of headquarters of hard drive and computer hardware maker Seagate in the Silicon Valley, Fremont, California, July 28, 2018.Smith Collection via Getty ImagesGreene and her husband made a joint purchase of stock in the data storage company on May 19, 2021, worth between $1,000 and $15,000ServiceNow Inc. (NOW)Greene and her husband purchased stock in the cloud computing company on January 21, 2021, valued between $1,000 and $15,000 Softbank Corp Unsponsored ADR (SFTBY)AP Photo/Shizuo KambayashiGreene and her husband purchased $1,000 to $15,000 worth of stock in the investment management company on January 21, 2021Greene and her husband bought stock valued between $1,000 and $15,000 on August 31, 2021Greene and her husband sold their stock in the company on December 15, 2021, at a value between $1,000 and $15,000Southern Company (SO)Southern Company/FacebookGreene and her husband purchased between $1,000 and $15,000 worth of the stock in the power generation company on May 19, 2021Greene and her husband bought stock on December 16, 2021, valued between $1,000 and $15,000Sylvamo Corporation (SLVM)Greene and her husband bought stock in the paper company on November 1, 2021, valued between $1,000 and $15,000Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company Ltd. (TSM)Greene's husband bought stock valued between $1,000 and $15,000 on January 22, 2021Greene and her husband made a joint purchase of stock valued between $1,000 and $15,000 on June 16, 2021Tesla Inc. (TSLA)A Tesla Model 3.David Zalubowski/APGreene's husband bought $1,000 to $15,000 worth of the stock in the electric car and solar panel company on January 22, 2021Despite Greene's strong anti-abortion stance, her husband invested in Tesla, a company that's announced it would reimburse travel costs for employees seeking an abortion.The Kraft Heinz Company (KHC)Commemorative items for sale on display at the Kraft Heinz booth during the Berkshire Hathaway Annual Shareholders Meeting in Omaha, Nebraska, in 2016.Rya Henriksen/ReutersGreene and her husband sold between $1,000 and $15,000 worth of stock in the food products company on December 16, 2021Truist Financial Corporation (TFC)Truist bankGreene and her husband bought stock in the banking company on May 12, 2021, valued between $1,000 and $15,000Greene and her husband sold their stock in the company valued between $15,000 and $50,000 on December 16, 2021United Parcel Service Inc. (UPS)Chris Hondros/Getty ImagesGreene's husband purchased stock in the package shipping company on June 10, 2022, valued between $15,000 and $50,000 Visa Inc. (V)VisaGreene and her husband made a joint purchase of stock on July 19, 2021, valued between $1,000 and $15,000Greene and her husband bought stock on September 5, 2021, valued between $1,000 and $15,000Greene and her husband purchased stock on August 31, 2021, worth between $1,000 and $15,000Greene's husband purchased stock on June 10, 2022, worth between $15,000 and $50,000In April 2021, Greene called Black Lives Matter the "strongest terrorist threat" in the country and introduced legislation to give Congressional Gold Medals to "the law enforcement officers and those who protected American cities during the Black Lives Matter (BLM) riots."Greene and her husband invested in the company despite Al Kelly, its chairman and CEO, telling employees that "We must focus on how much Black Lives Matter and what we can do in driving real and lasting change to end social injustice and racial inequality." Vulcan Materials Company (VMC)Vulcan MaterialsGreene and her husband made a joint purchase of stock in the construction materials company on May 18, 2021, valued between $1,000 and $15,000 Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. (WBA)FILE- In this June 25, 2018, file photo shows a Walgreens store in Peoria, Ariz.Ross D. Franklin/APGreene and her husband made a joint purchase of stock in the pharmacy chain company on June 16, 2021, valued between $1,000 and $15,000 Greene bought between $1,000 and $15,000 worth of stock on February 22, 2022Walmart Inc. (WMT)A Walmart store.APGreene and her husband bought between $1,000 and $15,000 worth of stock on January 21, 2021 Greene and her husband bought between $1,000 and  $15,000 worth of stock on April 16, 2021Greene and her husband purchased between $1,000 and $15,000 worth of stock on May 19, 2021In April 2021, Greene called Black Lives Matter the "strongest terrorist threat" in the country and introduced legislation to give Congressional Gold Medals to "the law enforcement officers and those who protected American cities during the Black Lives Matter (BLM) riots."Despite this, Greene and her husband continued to invest in Walmart despite its president and CEO, Doug McMillon, saying that the company would build "frameworks of equity and justice that solidify our commitment to the belief that, without question, Black Lives Matter."The company also sells Black Lives Matter-themed merchandise on its website, as well.Walt Disney Company (DIS)Cinderella Castle in Walt Disney World.Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty ImagesGreene and her husband purchased between $1,000 and $15,000 worth of stock on August 31, 2021Greene and her husband bought between $1,000 and $15,000 of the stock on November 15, 2021Greene and her husband bought between $1,000 and $15,000 of the stock on December 16, 2021Speaking with Infowars broadcaster and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones in March 2022, Greene railed against the Walt Disney Company and accused it of sexualizing children."This is supposed to be the happiest place on Earth, a place where innocence is celebrated. But it seems to be the place where innocence is actually under attack." She added, "Walt Disney — they need to pay a serious price for this."Despite her views, Greene and her husband continue to hold up to $45,000 in stock in the Walt Disney Company.Methodology note: In 2012, Congress passed the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act to combat insider trading and conflicts of interest to bring more transparency to lawmakers' financial dealings.Per the STOCK Act, members of Congress are required to file financial disclosures within 45 days of making a trade, doing so in a certified congressional document known as a periodic transaction report. Insider collected and analyzed the trades listed in each of Greene's periodic transaction reports submitted since 2021.Federal lawmakers are required to report stock trades made by themselves, their spouses, and their dependent children. But they are only required to list the value of reported trades in broad ranges.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytSep 29th, 2022

Glenn Youngkin: There Are Real Kitchen-Table Concerns Every Night

Following is the unofficial transcript of a CNBC interview with Governor of Virginia (R) Glenn Youngkin and CNBC’s Senior Congressional Correspondent Ylan Mui live during the CNBC Delivering Alpha conference today, Wednesday, September 28th. Interview With Governor Glenn Youngkin From The Delivering Alpha Conference GOV. YOUNGKIN: Well, hello, everybody. Can’t just sit there. Hello. Nice […] Following is the unofficial transcript of a CNBC interview with Governor of Virginia (R) Glenn Youngkin and CNBC’s Senior Congressional Correspondent Ylan Mui live during the CNBC Delivering Alpha conference today, Wednesday, September 28th. Interview With Governor Glenn Youngkin From The Delivering Alpha Conference GOV. YOUNGKIN: Well, hello, everybody. Can’t just sit there. Hello. Nice to see everybody. It is so much fun to be back in this environment, so thank you for inviting me. .first{clear:both;margin-left:0}.one-third{width:31.034482758621%;float:left;margin-left:3.448275862069%}.two-thirds{width:65.51724137931%;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element input{border:0;border-radius:0;padding:8px}form.ebook-styles .af-element{width:220px;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer{width:115px;float:left;margin-left: 6px;}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer input.submit{width:115px;padding:10px 6px 8px;text-transform:uppercase;border-radius:0;border:0;font-size:15px}form.ebook-styles .af-body.af-standards input.submit{width:115px}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy{width:100%;font-size:12px;margin:10px auto 0}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy p{font-size:11px;margin-bottom:0}form.ebook-styles .af-body input.text{height:40px;padding:2px 10px !important} form.ebook-styles .error, form.ebook-styles #error { color:#d00; } form.ebook-styles .formfields h1, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-logo, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-footer { display: none; } form.ebook-styles .formfields { font-size: 12px; } form.ebook-styles .formfields p { margin: 4px 0; } Get The Full Ray Dalio Series in PDF Get the entire 10-part series on Ray Dalio in PDF. Save it to your desktop, read it on your tablet, or email to your colleagues (function($) {window.fnames = new Array(); window.ftypes = new Array();fnames[0]='EMAIL';ftypes[0]='email';}(jQuery));var $mcj = jQuery.noConflict(true); Q2 2022 hedge fund letters, conferences and more   YLAN MUI: Thank you so much for being here. I'm so glad you're bringing the energy. You don't need a cup of coffee, they can just listen to our conversation. I want to get started with, first, a disclosure, which is, like Tyler, I live in Virginia. I'm a Virginia resident. I'm a Virginia voter. GOV. YOUNGKIN: There is a trend here, by the way. YLAN MUI: There is a trend here. Virginia produces great journalists, that's number one. But that means I have a lot of questions for you. So the first thing I want to ask you about, of course, is the political landscape and what your expectation is for what happens in November. Because you've been on the campaign trail, not just in the state of Virginia. You've been in Georgia, you've been in Maine, you've been in Nevada, you're going to go to Arizona. So what is the vibe like? GOV. YOUNGKIN: Oregon. YLAN MUI: Oregon. I missed a couple. You've been busy. GOV. YOUNGKIN: Kansas. YLAN MUI: What's the vibe? What's the vibe out there? GOV. YOUNGKIN: So what I learned last year -- by the way, I want to reiterate, thank you again for having me. It is so much fun to be here. This is old home for me, and to get a chance to come back and be with all of you and talk about Alpha, that's pretty cool. But what I learned last year, I think is something that's repeating itself this year. What I learned last year was that there are real kitchen-table concerns every night, in Virginia families, in American families, concerns about inflation and what's going to happen to their job and can they make ends meet and to see grocery prices going through the roof and to see utility bills and college tuition and all the things that families worry about. That is such a big deal. Second of all is what's happened in the safety of my community. Violent crime's been on the rise across the country. And then third is what is happening in my school, and is my child getting the education that I want them to get that they need in order to be prepared for life. These kitchen table issues have common-sense solutions. And, in fact, what we learned last year was it wasn't about Republicans versus Democrats; it was about these common-sense solutions to these issues that really are concerning Virginians. I believe that that package of common-sense solutions is the same set of solutions that need to be delivered this year in the election, and, oh, by the way, after people are elected into office. And so by the way, how are we dealing with inflation? Are we printing more money? Are we, in fact, pretending it's not there? Are we putting brakes on the economy that make us feel like we're in the car with a 16-year-old driver? Or are we, in fact, trying to manage those in a way that does the best we can to in fact have a soft landing, maybe even a touch-and-go? Are we going to make sure that folks feel confident about the fact that their job will be there and not go away; that, in fact, their neighborhoods are safer than they were last year and that their schools are schools they can trust? I see these issues, and I hear it when I travel around the Commonwealth of Virginia. And I've had a chance to help governors campaign around the country. The same issues are on the ballot this year, and I expect that nationally they are going to react the same way they did in Virginia last year. YLAN MUI: Which is vote Republican, as -- that's where I think you are headed here. GOV. YOUNGKIN: I believe they will. YLAN MUI: Do you think Republicans are going to capture control of the House, the Senate or both? GOV. YOUNGKIN: Let's just begin with governors. That's where I've been spending so much of my time. Then I'll get to the House. Because in Virginia we have specific House races at play, we don't have any Senate races this year. First of all, governors. What states have seen and America has seen over the course of managing through the pandemic and coming out of the pandemic is that states that were led by Republican governors have substantially outperformed states that were run by Democrat governors. The data is so clear. Out of the top 12 states in unemployment, 10 of them have Republican governors. Job recovery has been faster in Republican-led states than Democrat-led states. Learning loss has been higher in states that were closed longer. And the states that were closed longer were run by states with -- were run by Democrat governors. And so the performance of states with Republican governors has just been better. And so I believe that every state should have a Republican Governor. [LAUGHTER] And, therefore, part of what I've been, I think, trying to do is help candidates in states that look a lot like Virginia and help them win. The reality, of course, is that the Governor ends up being the top of the ticket in most elections, and the Governor's outcome tends to influence over 85 percent of the time what happens down ballot. So I do believe that in a lot of these states that are viewed as swing states for the House and for the Senate, we have really strong gubernatorial candidates. So I feel pretty good about what's going to happen in Georgia, for example. And Governor Kemp is an extraordinary governor. He's done a great job. I feel very confident about what's going to happen in Nevada because I do believe that Sheriff Lombardo is an extraordinary candidate. YLAN MUI: What about Arizona? GOV. YOUNGKIN: I think Arizona is breaking right now towards a Republican win. Governor Ducey did an extraordinary job. When you look back at what Arizona has accomplished with reducing tax rates and accomplishing real choice in public schools, I think what people in Arizona are seeing is they want a Republican governor because they want to continue those policies. And so people see that coming. YLAN MUI: But Governor Ducey is not the nominee who is running now to head the state, it's Kari Lake, and there's been some concern that she represents a different wing of the Republican party. You said that you think every state should have a Republican governor, but I think there's a lot of question right now about what is a Republican. Is a Republican someone who, as you have said, believes that Joe Biden won the election, or can a Republican also be someone like Kari Lake who you're going to campaign with, who believes the election was rigged? GOV. YOUNGKIN: I believe that, in fact, they're all Republicans. And what we learned last year in my race was that bringing Republicans together is really important to win a race. And we were able to bring together forever Trumpers and never Trumpers, and we were able to bring together Libertarians and Tea Party members, independent voters. We won the independent moderate vote in Virginia. Democrats. And this is to recognize that all Republicans don't all believe the same thing. And, in fact, I do think that there's a desire on behalf of -- let's call them political analysts, to put people into buckets, and to force that. And the reality, of course, is that it's not about buckets competing with one another; it's about bringing people together. That's what we did in Virginia last year, something that pundits thought was never possible, that a Republican could actually win in Virginia. Virginia was too blue. I think the pundits forgot to do one thing, which is ask voters. And what voters expressed clearly was a desire to see common-sense solutions brought to bear against these most important issues. And when we were able to reduce taxes by $4 billion, something that's never been done in the Commonwealth of Virginia, by a factor of 4, and yet have a record investment in education, raise teacher salaries, invest in school facilities. Oh, by the way, introduce lab schools for choice in the Virginia public school system, invest $400 million more into law enforcement, to raise starting salaries by 20 percent to try to get at this depletion of manpower in our law enforcement community. We were able to accomplish a ton around doing things that people understood were moving Virginia forward. I think that's the future of the Republican party, is how do we bring people together around these common-sense solutions to these most challenging problems. YLAN MUI: But even GOP leader Mitch McConnell has said that one of the things that he's concerned about in November is candidate quality when it comes to some of the Republican contenders that we're seeing. Are you worried about that? Do you think that the playing field is level when you look at some of the other folks who are running? GOV. YOUNGKIN: All candidates have strengths and weaknesses. I mean, one of my weaknesses was I had never done this before. I was sitting where you are back in 2020, and I stepped into a field that I really didn't have any experience with. And oh, by the way, for those of you that are having a mid-life crisis, get into state politics. It's a great place to be. You can make a huge difference. But, of course, what we're seeing, and I would just specifically say in Virginia, the Congressional races in Virginia, we have extraordinary candidates, and we have three races that I think will be real bellwethers for whether the House of Representatives shifts or not. Jen Kiggans is running in our 2nd Congressional District down at the beach; Yesli Vega running in our 7th Congressional District which runs up into Northern Virginia; and Hung Cao running in what is Loudoun County. And, by the way, these are women and diverse candidates. They represent, I think, the Republican party of the future. They represent what we saw in Virginia last year, which was the most diverse ticket that Republicans or Democrats have ever put up in Virginia with a Lieutenant Governor who's the first black woman elected to statewide office and oh, by the way, an immigrant from Jamaica. And, of course, Jason Miyares, who is our Attorney General, who is a first-generation Latino American, where his mother fled Cuba to get away from Castro. I believe this is the Republican party of the future, and I'm excited to be part of it. YLAN MUI: You said before we walked on the stage here that the November election could be a time for investors to reset. How would you advise playing that? GOV. YOUNGKIN: Well, let me begin -- YLAN MUI: Put your financial hat back on. GOV. YOUNGKIN: Yes. Let me begin with, you know, recessions are not determined by a computer; they're determined by sentiment. And when consumers get concerned, when boardrooms all of a sudden hesitate and pull back from investment or hiring, that's what causes recessions. And we're in a moment where everybody is talking about a recession. And if we remember, go back to 2016, where it was clear that we were going to head into a recession, and it was also broadly thought that Hillary Clinton was going to win. And what happened, of course, was there was a switch, a change. When Donald Trump won, all of a sudden optimism went back into the market and we avoided a recession. And so when you look back to what can happen on November 8th, and I do believe that there's a broad view that Republicans will take back the House, and I think there's a big question about what's going to happen in the Senate. I am cautiously optimistic that I think Republicans will take the Senate as well, and I think that will be a calming influence. It will be a calming influence that now, instead of having single-party government, we have divided government. And that we could end up with, I think, a little bit more rational spending, because I do believe that what's come out of the Biden White House has, in fact, been disconnected from supply and demand of money, and, in fact, has driven a lot of our challenges right now. Not to mention the fact that we gave up energy independence and we should have kept it. And the combination of that has driven a lot of this inflationary pressure. So I do think that, somewhat of a surprise with a Republican win in the Senate, as well, I think will change the overall footing. And I am expecting that if that can happen, we can see, yes, a slowdown, but we won't see a hard landing. That's -- as Governor, I'm spending a lot of time working with industry across Virginia to understand are you still moving forward with your investment plans? And I hear consistently, yes, we are. We're building that new factory, we're putting down that new distribution center. Are you still moving forward with your hiring? What I hear over and over again is, yes, we are. In fact, our biggest challenge is filling the open positions. By the way, that's a really good thing when you're thinking about keeping people fully employed and confident about their future. So I think there is a moment here where, yes, demand is feeling the real pressure from the rise in interest rates, but I do think that we can manage through this with an election outcome that I think restores balance, but on top of that, companies maintaining confidence, moving forward with their long-term investment plans and maintaining their hiring plans. YLAN MUI: So you talked a lot about the economy. And you ran for Governor focused on the economy. But right now there is a big divide over social issues in this country. It's happening across the country, it's happening in Virginia, as well. Yesterday there were hundreds of students who walked out of their classrooms to protest the policies that they say are unfair to transgender students that the Virginia State Department of Education is putting forward. What is your response to those students who say, our rights are being taken away? GOV. YOUNGKIN: First, I applaud the exercising of our First Amendment rights. I think that's -- YLAN MUI: So you support the protest? GOV. YOUNGKIN: It's a really important moment for us. As long as people are not violent, as long as they're not destructing things, I actually think that that's part of America, is to be able to exercise your First Amendment rights. I want to step back, however, and explain a bit about the context of this. And the context of this is that we had existing policy frameworks that specifically did not include parents in these decisions that are extremely important in children's lives, and, in fact, enabled schools to say that parents would specifically not be informed by decisions that children are making. And voters spoke loudly in Virginia last year that parents matter, and I believe that parents should be fundamentally engaged in this. And, in fact, Virginia law states that parents have a fundamental right to be engaged in the education, the upbringing and the care of their child. So in this case what we have done with draft policies is reestablish parents' fundamental role in making this decision with their child, by the way, not at the exclusion of a trusted teacher or a trusted counselor, but at the end of the day, it's a parent and a child. It's about families. You know, I think it's really clear that children don't belong to the state; they belong to families. And children have a right to, in fact, have parents engaged in these most important decisions, and, oh, by the way, parents have a right to be engaged in their children's lives. The key for these policies is that if parents make a decision that, in fact, they would like for their child to have accommodations, then they will have them. So I've asked people who have spoken out quickly to please read the policies. I'm constantly reminded that people don't read anything anymore. They read headlines, not actually the body of the document. In this case, I think that what people will find is that these policies are very much drafted with a fundamental belief in the necessity to protect all children, to protect their dignity, their confidentiality and their safety. The word "bullying" is used 36 times in the document to reassure that we are doubling down on the fact there can be no harassment and no discrimination and that parents must be at the center of these decisions that are made as a family. I think this is going to be an important moment for folks to recognize that we can have an "and" moment. This isn't an "or" moment, this is an "and" moment, where we can bring families into an important decision that can be made that is in the child's best interest. YLAN MUI: What happens when it's not just the students who are protesting, but also companies that might be upset with your decision? We've heard from the Salesforce CEO, for example, who has said that, in his words, there are crazy governors in states across the country who are rolling back rights for LGBTQ people, rolling back rights for women when it comes to abortion. And Salesforce has threatened to leave states that they feel are enacting policies that they don't agree with. What do you think about that? What would you do if they said, hey, we're out of here if you move forward? GOV. YOUNGKIN: Companies make decisions just like families do, and that is part of, I think, leading a company, is deciding what is in that company's best interest, and, oh, by the way, reflecting the desires and wants of shareholders and customers and a board and a management team, and, oh, by the way, employees. I do believe that what companies have been saying very loudly over the course of the last many years is that when they assess the totality of where they want to be, there's been a very clear migration, and that migration has been to Virginia. That migration's been to Texas, it's been to Florida, it's been to Georgia. This is where companies are going. YLAN MUI: So you're saying they're bluffing when they put forth a certain rhetoric or say a certain message, but they're voting with their feet? GOV. YOUNGKIN: I wouldn't say they're bluffing. I would just say it's not universal that all companies are saying the same thing. And, of course, what we're seeing is companies are making these decisions based on a totality of inputs, and those inputs seem to be predominantly resulting in companies moving to Virginia and Texas and North Carolina and Georgia and South Carolina and Florida. What we've seen in Virginia is we've had corporate relocations just in the last six months, where Boeing left Chicago and came to Virginia, and Raytheon left Massachusetts and came to Virginia. We've had Lego assess the entire U.S. footprint and choose to put their only U.S. manufacturing in Chesterfield County in Virginia. We've watched companies that are in Virginia double down and expand within Virginia, like Hilton. And we've watched new industries come to Virginia. And just in the last month, we've been able to announce the real epicenter in Virginia of the indoor growing or vertical farming industry, where we will have the two largest indoor farms in the world in Virginia. So I think that what corporations constantly have to assess is the totality of where they're going to be and the environment they're going to be in. As a governor, my job, I think, is to be very transparent about where I believe Virginia is going. On day one, I announced Virginia is open for business. We are open for business. It had been shut, locked tight. We were ranked 47th in the nation in job recovery, 47th in the nation in job recovery, and now we're in the top 20. We, in fact, said we're going to get taxes down so that people can have a better lifestyle. We're going to invest in schools, we're going to invest in law enforcement. We put forth a regulatory management department to cut back the regulations that I thought were really damaging business. And we've watched job growth come back, we watched companies move, we watched them expand. And I think it's my job to be very transparent about what we're trying to get done in order to make Virginia the best state in America to do business. And so for those of you that are looking, please come look in Virginia because we have a lot to offer. YLAN MUI: Well, if folks looked in Virginia and if Boeing and Raytheon and Lego called you up and said, hey, we don't really like this policy, we don't like this transgender policy, we're not happy with where you stand on abortion bans, what would you say to them? GOV. YOUNGKIN: Well, I would begin with "Read the policy and see where we stand," because neither one of those statements is actually very correct. What we've done in Virginia, particularly on abortion, is recognize that Virginia elected a pro-life governor, and I'm very cognizant of where Virginia is today. We have a House that is controlled by Republicans and a Senate that is controlled by Democrats. Literally, just 20 months ago, there was debates on the House floor to expand abortion rights all the way up through and including childbirth, paid for with taxpayer money, and Virginians said that's too extreme. And I think that is way too extreme. So I've asked for our leading legislators to work on a compromise bill to bring to my desk for a 15-week pain threshold bill, where a child can feel pain, and we're working on trying to land that. And I think that's a good place for Virginia to land. And I believe that when it comes to policies with regards to our children, I believe that people universally understand that parents have a right to be engaged in their children's life. I've always asked folks, if you don't think that parents should be engaged in their children's life, like many of the progressive Democrats said last year during my election, and my opponent said it very clearly, Virginians stood up and said, no, that's not what we believe. We think parents should be. And so, again, I don't think this is an either/or moment. I think that's what people try to do today, is put you in either this far box or that far box. And there is an "and" moment here, which is there is a path forward that respects parents' rights to be engaged in their children's lives and, in fact, fully respects the child as well. YLAN MUI: So you want to run as a unifier, it sounds like, you know, operating as a unifier in a political environment that is extremely divided. Where do you see the Republican party going? Do you see the Republican party coming together? Or there are some in the party who say it's splintering. GOV. YOUNGKIN: Let me begin with the fact that I'm an outsider, so I'm new to this. My training, in a 30-year business career, was that you set a path and you bring people around that path in order to try to get folks where, collectively, they're better than they were when they started. That's what corporate strategy is about, that's what execution is about when you try to execute against your corporate strategy, and I think that's what we're doing in Virginia. And what that translates to is maybe a different way of thinking through this, which is, the fact is, we don't have to agree on everything. Because guess what? We don't. But we sure agree on a lot. As I said earlier, we were able to bring together Republicans in a unique way last year. We had forever Trumpers and never Trumpers in the same room together, talking about what the best answer is; not debating one another. And we, in fact, found that we could bring Republicans and Democrats together and independents and moderates all in the same place around a shared vision. I think that's the future of the Republican party, and I do believe that that's where America is right now. And I think it all gets back to focusing on issues that really are at the heart of people's lives. YLAN MUI: So another fun fact for the crowd about Virginia. Virginia is term-limited when it comes to how long the Governor can serve. So you can only serve one term, right? You can only serve four years. Are you committed to serving out all four years of your term? GOV. YOUNGKIN: Yes. So, first, let me just give a little background on that. So Virginia, of course, its founders were the founders of our nation. And if you think back to folks like Thomas Jefferson, they weren't big fans of the Executive Branch. And so Virginia's own Constitution has been constructed to limit the term of a Governor. So I have a four-year term, and what my whole goal is, is to be the best Governor that I can be. I think we can accomplish a lot in four years. I had a really interesting moment when I was inaugurated. A FedEx package arrived. I zipped it open and I read the letter. It was from Jeb Bush. It said: Governor, get moving, you only have four years. And inside -- YLAN MUI: Exclamation point. GOV. YOUNGKIN: And inside was a clock counting down on four years. And I have that clock in my office. I look at it every morning. And I recognize that we have a big agenda, and that big agenda, we only have four years to accomplish. I'm committed to completing our agenda. And I think we can. One of our cabinet members said to me, I've never experienced such a sense of urgency every day. I said, we only have four years, and we have a lot to get done. YLAN MUI: What happens after this four years? GOV. YOUNGKIN: I think I'm going to first celebrate my 30th wedding anniversary with my lovely wife and really reflect on the fact that we've been given a great gift to serve the way we have. And then we'll see what happens. I didn't plan to run for governor. I saw a moment where there was a real need in the Commonwealth of Virginia, in my view, and I stepped out of my dream job. I mean, I had a chance to lead a company that I'd grown up in. And that moment was a big one for my family, where we committed ourselves to do something very different, to put ourselves in the public spotlight in a way that we never had been. So I'll have a chance to discuss things with my wife and kids again and decide what's next. YLAN MUI: Would that discussion include a potential run for the White House? GOV. YOUNGKIN: That discussion will be whatever is available at the time. I have to say, there is a long way between here and there. I had somebody describe it as various ages. An archeologist will have to decide what happens between here and there. It's 2022, and my big focus right now is being the best Governor that I can possibly be in Virginia to get our agenda moving, which I'm very pleased with how much we've accomplished, and to help our Congressional representatives win in Virginia and to help a few governors. YLAN MUI: Governor Youngkin, thank you so much for your time. If you come to a conclusion of your decision, please let us know. GOV. YOUNGKIN: Thank you very much. And thank you all very, very much......»»

Category: blogSource: valuewalkSep 29th, 2022

Michigan GOP gubernatorial nominee Tudor Dixon mocks 2020 kidnapping plot against Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer

"Gretchen Whitmer sure is good at taking business hostage and holding it for ransom," Dixon said at a Friday campaign appearance in Troy, Mich. Michigan Republican gubernatorial nominee Tudor Dixon.AP Photo/Paul Sancya Michigan GOP gubernatorial nominee Tudor Dixon mocked the kidnapping plot against Gov. Whitmer. "Gretchen Whitmer sure is good at taking business hostage and holding it for ransom," Dixon said. Two men were convicted in the plot, in which they sought to kidnap Whitmer from her vacation home. Michigan Republican gubernatorial nominee Tudor Dixon on Friday mocked the kidnapping plot against Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, her opponent in the November general election.During two campaign events, Dixon made light of the high-profile 2020 domestic terrorism plot, which was widely seen as a harbinger of the increased threat of political violence in the United States.Two men have been convicted in the plot, in which they sought to kidnap the governor from her vacation home. Prosecutors said that the men had eyed destroying a bridge in order to cripple the governor's security detail and any responding police officers."The sad thing is Gretchen will tie your hands, put a gun to your head, and ask if you are ready to talk. For someone so worried about getting kidnapped, Gretchen Whitmer sure is good at taking business hostage and holding it for ransom," Dixon said at a campaign appearance in Troy, Mich., a suburb of Detroit.Her comments elicited an audible applause from many of the attendees.At a rally in Muskegon, a city in western Michigan, Dixon poked at an appearance that Whitmer made with President Joe Biden, who recently visited state and toured the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.Once again, Dixon referenced the 2020 kidnapping plot to lob an attack at her opponent."The look on her face was like, 'Oh, my gosh, this is happening. I'd rather be kidnapped by the FBI,'" she said at the event.Dixon then stated that her previous comments were not a joke."If you were afraid of that, you should know what it is to have your life ripped away from you," the Republican candidate said.Per CNN, she later said: "I think when you're being attacked everyday, you have to have a little levity in things — we can still have fun."Democrats immediately criticized Dixon over her comments.Maeve Coyle, a spokeswoman for Whitmer's campaign, said in a statement that the governor "has faced serious threats to her safety and her life" and said that Dixon's statements made her "unfit" to become a public servant."Threats of violence — whether to Governor Whitmer or to candidates and elected officials on the other side of the aisle — are no laughing matter, and the fact that Tudor Dixon thinks it's a joke shows that she is absolutely unfit to serve in public office," she said.Insider contacted Dixon's campaign office for comment, but didn't immediately receive a reply Saturday. Democratic Governors Association spokesman Sam Newton blasted Dixon's statements as "dangerous.""Tudor Dixon's comments are dangerous, an insult to law enforcement who keep us safe, and utterly disqualifying for the role of Michigan governor," he said.Whitmer, who was easily elected governor in 2018, has since been widely criticized by conservatives for enacting a range of COVID-19 restrictions, with the Republican-controlled state legislature suing her over her extensions of emergency powers during the pandemic.However, as the 2022 election approached, Republicans fumbled in their gubernatorial nomination process, as several candidates — including onetime frontrunner James Craig — were removed from the ballot over forged petition signatures.Dixon won the August GOP primary after receiving a late endorsement from former President Donald Trump, but she is currently trailing Whitmer in most public polling.In a newly-released EPIC-MRA poll, Whitmer led Dixon by 16-percentage points (55%-39%).Trump is set to appear alongside Dixon at an Oct. 1 rally in Macomb County, a populous suburban jurisdiction outside Detroit.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytSep 24th, 2022

Rick Scott predicts the Trump civil fraud lawsuit won"t hurt the GOP"s chances of retaking the Senate much and says the Mar-a-Lago raid "revved up the base"

Rick Scott doubts Letitia James's civil suit against Trump will hurt Republicans this fall. And he says the FBI's document hunt may boost GOP turnout. Republican Sen. Rick Scott talks to congressional reporters as Senate GOP leaders look on during a press conference at the US Capitol on September 13, 2022 in Washington, DC.Alex Wong/Getty Images Sen. Rick Scott downplayed the chances of a new lawsuit against Trump endangering the midterms. Scott said kitchen table issues like rising crime and shrinking incomes remain paramount. Scott said simmering outrage over the Mar-a-Lago raid could drive more MAGA voters to the polls. Republican Sen. Rick Scott of Florida said most GOP voters are more interested in economic issues than a new civil suit against Donald Trump alleging financial fraud. But some MAGA loyalists, Scott predicted, may be more motivated to march to the polls this fall because of the mushrooming government investigations into the embattled former president. "Some people are mad over Mar-a-Lago. But I think most of it is going to be about how it impacts your family," Scott said of his read on the current midterms outlook, adding that he expects the November election will turn on concerns about inflation, parental rights in schools, domestic crime, and immigration. Republicans need to pick up just one seat this November to reclaim control of the 50-50 Senate. And Scott, who is in charge of the Senate's reelection arm this cycle, has made Trump and his ideas integral parts of the 2022 campaign — much to the chagrin of disapproving Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. While noting that he hadn't yet seen it, Scott didn't put much stock in the lawsuit New York Attorney General Letitia James filed against Trump and three of his children on Wednesday. James accused Trump of fudging financial information to "further enrich himself and cheat the system" and is pushing for $250 million in penalties. That case, or any corresponding criminal offshoot, is likely to take years to play out.  Scott said what matters more to diehard Trump fans is how the former president is being scrutinized by federal investigators right now. "I think the FBI revved up the base — by doing the raid and not telling anyone why they did it," Scott said.Trump has fueled the backlash against federal law enforcement by denouncing the various investigations into his political and personal dealings as partisan "witch hunts."  Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderSep 21st, 2022

"They Were Lured" - Texas Sheriff Launches Probe Into Illegal Migrant Flights To Martha"s Vineyard

'They Were Lured' - Texas Sheriff Launches Probe Into Illegal Migrant Flights To Martha's Vineyard Authored by Caden Pearsen via The Epoch Times, The sheriff of a Texas county where 53 illegal aliens were found dead in a truck during a fatal people smuggling operation in June has opened an investigation into the 48 asylum seeking illegal immigrants flown from Florida to Martha’s Vineyard. Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar said the investigation will look into the suspected activities of a Venezuelan being paid a “bird dog fee to recruit” the illegal immigrants from an area around a San Antonio migrant resource center to go to Florida. “As we understand it, 48 migrants were lured—and I will use the word ‘lured’—under false pretenses into staying at a hotel for a couple of days,” Salazar said at a press conference. “At a certain point they were shuttled to an airplane where they were flown to Florida and eventually flown to Martha’s Vineyard, again under false pretences, is the information that we have,” he added. Salazar said that on the promise of work and further assistance they were taken to Martha’s Vineyard “for little more than a photo op, video op” and “unceremoniously stranded” there. Bexar County Sheriff’s Office said on Twitter it is working with private attorneys for the victims and advocacy organizations as part of its investigation, as well as getting ready to cooperate with federal agencies which have concurrent jurisdiction. BREAKING: Bexar County, Texas Sheriff announces criminal investigation into Fla. Gov. DeSantis’ migrant flight to Martha’s Vineyard pic.twitter.com/JEeYjrcjtM — Breaking911 (@Breaking911) September 19, 2022 ‘Massive Policy Failure by the President’ Taryn Fenske, the communications director for Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, rejected Salazar’s accusation, saying the illegal immigrants were “more than willing to leave Bexar County.” Further, she asserted that foreign nationals are being “enticed to cross the border” into the United States. “Unless the [Massachusetts] national guard has abandoned these individuals, they have been provided accommodations, sustenance, clothing, and more options to succeed following their unfair enticement into the United States, unlike the 53 immigrants who died in a truck found abandoned in Bexar County this June,” she said in further comments obtained by The Hill. On Friday, DeSantis said redirecting the illegal immigrants to Martha’s Vineyard, a self-proclaimed sanctuary jurisdiction, was a move to protect Florida from the “reckless border policies” of President Joe Biden. pic.twitter.com/hfdYEU8MAj — Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) September 16, 2022 “At the end of the day, this is a massive policy failure by the president. This is a massive and intentional policy that is causing [a] huge amount of damage all across the country and it’s all rooted in a failure to take care that the laws are faithfully executed, and to fulfill his oath of office,” DeSantis said at a press conference. DeSantis said the Biden administration and the Democrats should stop worrying “about a bunch of rich people” in Martha’s Vineyard, who had already bussed the immigrants elsewhere within 48 hours and focus on the illegal immigration crisis at the southern border. “Why not actually look at what’s going on? There were more … corporate journalists in Martha’s Vineyard today than have ever gone down to the southern border to look at what’s going on. Why don’t you go down there and look at what some of those communities have to deal with every day,” the Florida governor said. Florida is now the third Republican-run state to transport apprehended illegal immigrants who claim asylum to Democrat-run cities with so-called sanctuary policies. More than 7,900 illegal immigrants have been bused from Texas to Washington, D.C. since April and over 2,200 to New York City since August, and 300 to Chicago, according to the office of Gov. Greg Abbott. Texas authorities have also seized over 340.5 million lethal doses of fentanyl which “would have otherwise made their way into communities across Texas and the nation due to President Biden’s open border policies,” according to Abbott’s office. Illegal immigrants from Central and South America load into vans near the residence of Vice President Kamala Harris after being dropped off in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 15, 2022. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images) CBP Encounters With Illegal Aliens Up 2.2 Percent in August The number of illegal immigrants encountered nationwide by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) increased 2.2 percent in August, to more than nearly 158,000 unique enforcement encounters, according to the federal agency. CBP attributes the increase to people departing Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua. “Failing communist regimes in Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Cuba are driving a new wave of migration across the Western Hemisphere, including the recent increase in encounters at the southwest U.S. border,” CBP Commissioner Chris Magnus said in a statement. “Our dedicated teams of skilled agents continue to work around the clock to secure our border and safely and humanely process and vet every individual encountered, but those fleeing repressive regimes pose significant challenges for processing and removal.” Magnus said the number of illegal immigrants entering from Mexico and northern Central America decreased for the third consecutive month. The agency attributed that to efforts by the Biden administration to “address the root causes of migration.” “More individuals encountered at the border without a legal basis to remain will be expelled or removed this year than any prior year,” Magnus said. Tyler Durden Tue, 09/20/2022 - 08:51.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeSep 20th, 2022

Trumpworld theorizes that Mar-a-Lago special master"s involvement in previously botched FBI case makes him the best bet to help out the embattled former president

Mar-a-Lago special master Raymond Dearie's work on the bungled Carter Page surveillance case may have soured him on the FBI, Trump advisors hope. Former President Donald Trump speaks at a Save America Rally to support Republican candidates running for state and federal offices in the state at the Covelli Centre on September 17, 2022 in Youngstown, Ohio.Jeff Swensen/Getty Images Trumpworld suspects Raymond Dearie may be skeptical of FBI operations after experiencing a bad one. Dearie was one of the judges who signed off on surveillance of Trump campaign aide Carter Page. Dearie's role as special master in the Mar-a-Lago case doesn't involve reviewing the FBI's conduct.  Trump advisors are betting that special master Raymond Dearie's negative experience with the FBI during its controversial investigation into Trump campaign aide Carter Page may mean he's as skeptical of federal investigators as they are. Two anonymous sources floated the theory to Axios that Dearie's possible skepticism of the FBI made him former President Donald Trump's top choice, citing his nearly decade-long run on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court as a key selling point. Dearie, a former chief judge of the US District Court for the Eastern District of New York, has been tasked with sorting through the 11,000-plus documents law enforcement agents recovered from Mar-a-Lago and separating out anything he believes may be protected by attorney-client privilege or executive privilege. The third-party review, which is to be completed by November 30 and must be paid for by Trump, doesn't involve passing any kind of judgment on the FBI. Still, Trumpworld operatives are banking on Dearie harboring some disdain for the law enforcement agency following mistakes made several years ago. Dearie was one of five Republican-appointed judges who signed off on FISA warrants to surveil a former Trump advisor, Carter Page as part of an investigation into his ties to the Russian government. Two of the four approved warrants were later declared invalid after the Justice Department inspector general found a series of misstatements and omissions in the applications by the FBI to get the court warrants to eavesdrop on Page.Trump and his allies will soon learn whether Dearie is on the same page as they are. —Kyle Cheney (@kyledcheney) September 16, 2022 Dearie asked Trump's lawyers to submit a proposed agenda for their first special master meeting by close of business on Monday, and scheduled a preliminary conference for 2 pm on Tuesday in Brooklyn, New York. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytSep 19th, 2022

Organized Retail Crime Reaching "Crisis Scale"

Organized Retail Crime Reaching "Crisis Scale" Authored by Bryan Jung via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours), The massive wave of retail thefts in the United States over the past two years have become a major challenge for both the retail industry and law enforcement. Thieves are seen looting stores at the Grove shopping center in the Fairfax District of Los Angeles, Calif., on May 30, 2020. (VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty Images) Weakened law enforcement policies and lesser penalties for these criminal bandit gangs have hit a critical juncture, as crime in the United States has hit proportions not seen in three decades. The number of increasingly professional organized retail crime (ORC) rings and their frequent attacks have reached crisis scale, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF) in a Sept. 14 report. These crimes have hurt thousands of businesses and have contributed to higher prices for consumers and loss of key retailers in many communities, as countless stores have closed to due to lack of security. “The factors contributing to retail shrink have multiplied in recent years, and organized retail crime is a burgeoning threat within the retail industry,” said Mark Meadows, NRF vice president for research development and industry analysis. “These highly sophisticated criminal rings jeopardize employee and customer safety and disrupt store operations. Retailers are bolstering security efforts to counteract these increasingly dangerous and aggressive criminal activities.” A Spike in Organized Thievery According to the 2022 National Retail Security Survey, issued by NRF, the total loss of stolen goods hit $94.5 billion by the end of 2021, up from losses of $90.8 billion in 2020. The NRF found that the average shrink rate in losses for 2021 was 1.44 percent, a slight decline from the previous two years, but comparable to the five-year average of 1.5 percent. Acts of fraud are being reported across all venues, ranging from brick-and-mortar stores, e-commerce, and omni-channel platforms since 2020. A sudden increase store violence is another growing area of concern, such as random attacks on store personnel, robberies, and ORC gangs. The majority of surveyed retailers reported a 89.3 percent increase in violence and a 73.2 percent uptick in shoplifting. The reported incidents of both ORC and employee theft rose 71.4 percent, much of it involving organized crime or for the gangs’ own benefit. The NRF said that respondents reported that ORC robberies have risen 26.5 percent since the onset of the pandemic. The most targeted store items fall under the acronym CRAVED: concealable, removable, available, valuable, enjoyable,  and disposable. Items under CRAVED include apparel, health and beauty, electronics/appliances, accessories, food and beverage, footwear, home furnishings and housewares, home improvement, eyewear, office supplies, infant care, and toys. In search of solutions, retailers are boosting spending on theft-prevention measures. The NRF survey showed that 60.3 percent of retailers are increasing their security budgets. At least 52.4 percent are increasing their investments in technology, such as radio frequency identification tags and readers, computerized security scanners, and license plate-recognition devices. “We are seeing more and more, particularly, organized retail crime,” said Corrie Barry, Best Buy’s CEO, in late 2021 to the NY Post. “You can see that pressure in our financials. And more importantly, frankly, you can see that pressure with our associates. It’s traumatizing,” she said. Radical Crime Policies and Recidivism Wealthy liberal enclaves throughout the country with district attorneys thought of as “soft on crime” appear to be the regions most affected by the crime wave and which has only grown worse since the pandemic. The top five metropolitan areas affected by store bandit gangs in the past year were the Californian cities of Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Oakland; New York; Houston, Texas; and Miami, Florida. Retailers across the country are calling for stronger legislation, especially at the federal and state level, along with better enforcement of existing laws to quell increasing acts of violence and theft, which are hurting their survival. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce demanded earlier this year that Congress take action to address the rise of ORC crimes, calling them a “national emergency.” “Retail theft is becoming a national crisis, hurting businesses in every state and the communities they serve,” said Neil Bradley, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s chief policy officer, in a letter to Congress in March. “We call on policymakers to tackle this problem head-on before it gets further out of control. No store should have to close because of theft.” Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva blamed radical Democrats and prosecutors, saying that they “live in this ‘woke palace’ where they’re not affected by the policies, but the average person IS impacted by them.” Tyler Durden Sun, 09/18/2022 - 20:30.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytSep 18th, 2022

FBI Makes 6,000 Arrests, Seizes Firearms In Summer-Long Operation

FBI Makes 6,000 Arrests, Seizes Firearms In Summer-Long Operation Authored by Jack Phillips via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours), FBI agents arrested about 6,000 alleged violent criminals across the United States over the past four months and have seized more than 2,700 firearms and large quantities of fentanyl, the bureau announced Tuesday. “Violent crime is on the minds of a lot of Americans right now and top of mind for police chiefs and sheriffs, who constantly tell me that the rising rate of gun and gang violence is one of their most important and difficult challenges,” FBI Director Christopher Wray said in a video message about the operation. FBI Director Christopher Wray testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee in Washington on March 10, 2022. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images) The FBI, which has faced increasing criticism about its targeting of former President Donald Trump and his supporters, said that its agents and local law enforcement officials arrested nearly 6,000 alleged violent criminals and gang members. It also seized more than 2,700 firearms connected to criminal conduct. Those operations were carried out in California, Texas, Hawaii, Illinois, New Mexico, Washington, Pennsylvania, and Puerto Rico. “The Los Angeles Metropolitan Task Force on Violent Gangs arrested 28 members and associates of the South Los Angeles-based Eastside Playboys street gang for alleged federal racketeering, firearms, and narcotics charges,” the FBI said in providing an example. “The task force seized approximately 47 firearms, almost 200 kilograms of methamphetamine, 27 kilograms of cocaine, more than 13 kilograms of fentanyl, and more than seven kilograms of heroin.” The agency also said its gang task force executed 16 federal search warrants targeting prison and street gangs around Albuquerque, New Mexico. They “seized more than one million fentanyl pills, 142 pounds of methamphetamine, 37 firearms, nine ballistic vests, two hand grenades, and $1.8 million in cash,” the bureau said. Rise in Crime It comes as the average murder rate across the United States hit 6.9 murders per 100,000 people in 2021, or the highest figure it’s been in more than 20 years. Drug overdose deaths, at the same time, have spiked to more than 107,000 nationwide in 2021, setting an all-time record, according to federal data. Some critics, meanwhile, have said that Democrat-sponsored policies targeting bail reform have allowed repeat offenders back on the streets. Read more here... Tyler Durden Sun, 09/18/2022 - 19:30.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytSep 18th, 2022

The US is moving one step closer to letting Americans file their taxes online for free directly to the IRS, cutting out private companies like Turbotax and H&R Block

In some countries, people just reply to a text to confirm their taxes are correct. That could soon be a possibility in the US. US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen seen at a House Ways and Means Committee hearing in Washington, DC, on June 8, 2022.REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo The US is moving closer to setting up a free federal tax-filing system. A Democratic bill included $15 million for Treasury to study its development. Many Democrats strongly favor establishing a free e-file system. Filing your taxes could soon be free and relatively painless.The US is inching closer to modernizing how Americans file their taxes and breaking the grip that private tax prep companies have over the process. In the future, tax-filing may require only a few clicks — or even replying to a text message as in some European countries like Estonia. Within the Inflation Reduction Act that passed with only Democratic votes last month, $15 million was set aside for the Treasury Department to study a free, federal tax-filing website.Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Thursday expressed support for simplifying the process. "Tax filing should be simple: I recently came across a statistic it takes an average American 13 hours to file a tax return," she said during a visit to an IRS facility in Maryland. "Compare that with Sweden. Some taxpayers can file simply by replying to a text message. We can and must do better."It's not a new concept. Natasha Sarin, the Treasury's counselor for tax policy and implementation, previously wrote that an adequately funded IRS would mean that Americans could potentially file their taxes at no cost and within minutes, like in similarly developed countries.A working paper for the National Bureau of Economic Research by researchers from the Treasury Department, Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank, and Dartmouth College found that autofilling tax returns could be straightforward for many filers, with 41% to 48% of returns able to accurately be pre-populated using information from the previous year's tax returns. They also found that many of the filers who currently pay to have someone do their taxes could easily have them autofilled; 43% to 44% of filers who would see their returns filled out automatically are currently paying to have someone handle them.However, the IRS still faces many logistical challenges to its existing roles, with both budgets and staffing shrinking over the last two decades — even as the embattled agency assumed new pandemic-era responsibilities like distributing stimulus checks and the child tax credit. That's resulted in a massive backlog of unprocessed tax returns that the IRS is still trying to clear out and pay out refunds to waiting filers, as workers deal with decades-old technology and workplaces stuffed to the brim with paper.The Inflation Reduction Act will ease some of that pain, with Democrats directing $80 billion towards the IRS. A good chunk of that will go towards tax enforcement on America's ultra-wealthy and large corporations, but customer services and free filing initiatives will still get a nice chunk of the pot."There's a real opportunity here for the IRS and then indirectly for taxpayers to have a tax system they can count on more than the existing one," Janet Holtzblatt, a senior fellow at the Tax Policy Center, previously told Insider.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytSep 15th, 2022

This glitch in Hyundais and Kias makes them easy to steal. They"re nearly half the cars swiped in one city – and police say social media is fueling the thieves.

Some Kia and Hyundai cars that use traditional keys are easier to steal because they don't have a chip that stops the car from starting without a key. The 2013 Kia Sportage is one of the cars being targeted by thieves.Kia Across the US, a problem with some Kia and Hyundai keys is making the cars targets for thieves. Police say social media challenges on Tik Tok and YouTube are encouraging people to steal the cars. Both Kia and Hyundai are aware of the problem and are offering steering-wheel locks as one solution.  Thieves are targeting Kia and Hyundai cars across the country, and law enforcement says it's because social media challenges are pointing out a glitch in the cars.Some Kia models built between 2011 and 2021, and some Hyundai models built between 2016 and 2021 have a key issue making them easy for theft.According to The Wall Street Journal, these models are easier to steal because they use traditional keys, and the cars don't have a chip that would prevent the vehicles from starting when there's no key in the car. A press release from the Cook County Sheriff's Office warned people about the rise in thefts. Since July 1, the sheriff's office saw 642 reports of Kia and Hyundai thefts, compared with 74 a year ago."The increases are believed to be connected to the sharing of videos on social media that demonstrate how to start these vehicles without a key," the press release said. "Thieves appear to be targeting unoccupied vehicles that require a physical key, not a starter button."A trend on Tik Tok and YouTube is teaching people how to break into these cars using a screwdriver and a USB charging cable, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.The viral videos came from a group called the "Kia Boyz" from Milwaukee.  The city's police chief,  Jeffrey Norman, told the Journal that he first noticed the trend there in 2020, during the shutdowns sparked by the pandemic.Law enforcement took action by increasing its presence, warning people, and giving away devices to help protect the cars from theft. In Milwaukee and in Cook County, Illinois, law enforcement agencies are giving out car stickers that would allow investigators to track and stop the cars.According to police data obtained by the Wall Street Journal, through the end of August, Milwaukee's Kia and Hyundai thefts were down 22% and 36% respectively. By contrast, in the first eight months of 2021, thefts were 183% higher than they were a year earlier, the newspaper reported.  In August, the St. Louis Police Department saw 393 reports of theft and attempted theft for Hyundai cars, and 269 for Kias, the Post-Dispatch reported, adding that Dan Isom, interim public safety director, said Hyundai and Kia cars made up almost 77% of all the cars stolen that month.A letter from city counselor Sheena Hamilton blamed the two car manufacturers for endangering the city, and threatened legal action against the car companies if they did not help stop the problem."Kia and Hyundai's defective vehicles have caused a public safety crisis in the city, endangering the health, safety, and peace of all those who live, work or visit the city," Hamilton said in the letter. "Your companies bear the responsibility to mitigate the public nuisance your negligence has created for the city and its residents."Automakers offer steering wheel locksSpokespeople for both Hyundai Motor America and Kia America expressed concerns about the auto thefts and the use of social media to target vehicles from both car manufacturers that don't have engine immobilizers. Both emphasized that cars from both companies "meet or exceed Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards.""In order to assist customers with earlier model year vehicles without an immobilizer, Hyundai has been working with and will continue to support local police departments to make steering wheel locks available for affected Hyundai owners," a Hyundai spokesperson told Insider.They added that the company has a security kit that will protect against the thefts becoming available on October 1. "While no car can be made theft-proof, criminals are seeking vehicles solely equipped with a steel keyand "turn-to-start" ignition system," a Kia spokesperson told Insider. "The majority of Kia vehicles in the United States are equipped with a key fob and "push-button-to-start" system, making them more difficult to steal."The Kia America spokesperson added that the company has provided free steering wheel locks to law enforcement in cities being highly impacted by the thefts.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytSep 9th, 2022

Top tax policy Democrat says Republicans want to keep the status quo so only "little guys" get audited but "billionaire friends" get off scot-free

"By attacking the IRS, Republicans are helping high-flying tax cheats get away with breaking the law," Senate Finance chair Ron Wyden said. Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon speaks to reporters at the US Capitol.Drew Angerer/Getty Images Democrats' Inflation Reduction Act contains nearly $80 billion in funding for the IRS. Republicans have said that the funding will go towards hiring an "army" of IRS agents. Sen. Ron Wyden said that Republicans want to save their billionaire friends from audits. The IRS is set to get nearly $80 billion from Democrats' big climate and tax spending package, earmarked to help the overstrained agency improve tax enforcement and customer service — and Republicans haven't been pleased.Republicans have seized upon the idea that the increased funding could result in an "army" of 87,000 agents, although that number comes from a Treasury Department report estimating that the IRS could hire that many new employees by 2031, according to Time, and a Treasury Department official told Time that the majority of the new hires won't even be IRS agents. "If Democrats are going to keep declaring everything to be free, Biden is going to need a lot more taxpayer money," Senator Rick Scott, a Republican from Florida, said in prepared floor remarks on Wednesday, speaking on his legislation to rescind the funding for the IRS. "That, my fellow Americans, is how we get full circle back to the supersized IRS. It's a vicious cycle to fund a radical, socialist agenda.But Senator Ron Wyden, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, isn't humoring that argument."Even senators who should supposedly know better are spinning wild fantasy stories about 87,000 agents who are armed to the teeth and coming to the doors of innocent small business people," Wyden said in floor remarks on Wednesday.Instead, he said, "by attacking the IRS, Republicans are helping high-flying tax cheats get away with breaking the law." The agency is "badly outmatched" by wealthy tax cheats, Wyden said; IRS commissioner Charles Rettig has said that the amount of taxes going uncollected every year could be upwards of $1 trillion. A 2021 study from IRS researchers and academics found that the top 1% of American earners did not report about 21% of their income."What so many Republicans want to do is preserve the status quo, so only the little guys get audited while billionaire friends" get off scot-free, Wyden said. Instead, Wyden stressed that some of the funding would go towards customer service, something that the embattled agency has particularly struggled with since the onset of the pandemic. With a shrinking budget and low staffing levels compounded by new pandemic-era responsibilities like stimulus checks, the IRS accumulated a backlog of millions of unprocessed returns — which it's still digging its way out of. Those processing delays — paired with the IRS's inability to answer the phone and provide prompt customer service — have meant some Americans waited months to receive thousands in tax refunds."The far right and the wealthy tax cheats want the IRS to apparently continue to struggle because it makes it easier to attack and vilify. That's why we've heard so many falsehoods about thousands of new IRS agents," Wyden said. "I don't know where this number came from, absent nonsense, conjured out of nothing." Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytSep 8th, 2022

The 29 best outdoor games to enjoy when it"s nice out, from Spikeball to giant Jenga

We rounded up the best outdoor games both adults and kids can play any time of the year, from lawn bowling to cornhole. When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.PutterBall is a travel-friendly version of mini golf that you can easily set up in someone's backyard or in a park.Amazon Outdoor games are a great way to gather in your backyard for some fun. We rounded up the best outdoor games for all ages to play. From spikeball to flag football, there are tons of outdoor games to play with friends and family. Fresh air, sunshine, and good company. Enjoying the outdoors with your loved ones is a special treat, a good memory waiting to be made. Whether it's a family barbeque that lasts all night or a day trip to the beach with your friends, outdoor games are always a great way to bond with your group. Up the ante at your next outdoor event with any of these games below. From Speedminton (badminton's durable, fast-flying sibling) to a giant wooden dice game, these games will have your friends and family laughing with excitement.Here are the 29 best outdoor games of 2022:Speedminton, Badminton's faster, more durable, and weather-resistant siblingAmazonEnjoy the fun of badminton without worrying about the wind or climate. Coming in three different birdie types (Fun, Match, and Night), Speedminton's birdie (or Speeder, as they're called) is made out of durable plastic that makes them whizzingly fast. Able to be played in nearly all conditions and easy enough for all ages, this Speedminton set is fun and exciting for everyone to enjoy.A giant version of Connect 4 that everyone can participate inAmazonA classic game that's uniquely recognizable, Connect 4 has been around for decades. But now, the pressure's on! With this giant Connect 4 set, you'll be playing this game with all eyes on you and your opponent. Large enough to invite audience participation, this supersized Connect 4 kit is fun for all.A flying disc game that'll test your teamworkAmazonThe concept is simple: In a team of two, use the flying disc to knock off the other team's bottle. Catch the disc and falling bottle and you've saved yourself from losing a point. Great to plan on the sand or on grass, Bottle Bash is super fun, easy to learn, and a great way to test your teamwork skills!The set of giant dice you'll never loseAmazonThis giant wooden dice set is great for any age and is so satisfying to play. Who wouldn't get excited to play with giant wooden dice? A great set to have at any lawn party, this set comes with 6 giant dice, a collapsible carrying bucket + lid, laminated score cards, and instructions for over 20 dice games to play. Choose your game and battle it out!A ladder ball set that won't budgeAmazonWe don't know why, but throwing things is fun. And throwing things onto other things is even more fun. Ladder ball makes a statement with its impressive build and height and is great for any sized party. This kit comes with everything you need from carrying to set-up and is made from heavy-duty PVC, ensuring that the structure is sturdy and won't budge.Kubb, a Viking-inspired gameAmazonKubb is a game that's easy to learn, is ultra fun, and promotes team building. A hybrid of horseshoe and bowling, Kubb's rules can be modified to create games lasting from 5 minutes to games that continue on for over an hour. As your skills get higher, strategy and precision will be your greatest companions, and the (friendly) competition is on.Lawn darts that can be played anywhereAmazonDarts are a fun game that have little-to-no barrier to entry. But make them outdoors, durable, and glow-in-the-dark? Sold. A fun game for all, these Lawn Darts are great for any event and perfect for any sized group. Make the game harder or easier by moving the target and join teams or play solo — the rules are up to you!A football training set that doubles as a gameAmazonA bit unconventional but endlessly entertaining, this throwing net was originally made for football training sessions. But who knew it would be so fun? Use the numbers on the targets as points and play solo or in teams to test your accuracy and skill. This net has a quick setup and breakdown factor which makes it easy to pop up at any outdoor event. And the feeling of tossing the football directly in the pocket? So satisfying.A hybrid foursquare soccer gameCrossnetWith the world's first four-square soccer game, the classic game of four-square just got a crazy upgrade. Ideal for barbeques, beach days, backyard parties, or even training sessions, Crossnet's four-square soccer is addictively fun. With each member standing in the four spots of the net, the rule of soccer applies — anything but your hands. Spikeball, an easy outdoor game to set up and learnDICK'S Sporting GoodsWhen you tire of volleyball, give Spikeball a try, especially on beach trips. Instead of hitting a ball over a net, this game revolves around a miniature netted trampoline that you bounce a ball into.Classic cornholeAmazonCornhole is a classic outdoor game that only requires a board and bean bags to toss as you test your aim and try to get them on the board. It makes for a perfect activity to bring to the beach or to a tailgate.Outdoor board games like giant JengaAmazonThese large-sized versions of popular board games bring the fun from the coffee table to the backyard. Some also make great conversation pieces during outdoor parties, too.Tossing gamesWayfairTossing games seem basic, but they're fun and usually small and travel-friendly to store in a reusable bag or backpack.Mini golfYard GamesIf you want the mini-golf experience in the comfort of your own home, PutterBall is the way to go. The felt-lined mat, along with two putters, four golf balls, and six turf hole covers, make it a game that's also portable to bring to a friend's backyard or a nearby park.If you'd rather go to a driving range, check out our guides to the best golf clubs for all skill levels, golf balls, and golf gloves.CroquetAmazonCroquet is one of the best ways to pass time at a barbecue. There are endless ways to arrange wickets and end posts to make a game easier or challenging.HorseshoesAmazonA horseshoe set is always a fan-favorite game to play in a grassy area or on the beach. Plus, a set of horseshoes is easy to carry around in a case and portable for traveling.BocceRonnie Kaufman/Getty ImagesBocce is one of the more engaging and team-focused outdoor games. It's not as commonly played as some others in this guide, but once you get started, you'll want to play all day.Net games, like volleyball and badmintonGrass volleyball at Golden Gate Park.Lily LiWhen you have a wide grass field or yards of sand for an outdoor game, put up a portable net for an impromptu game of volleyball. If you don't like to bump and serve with your hands, badminton offers a similar experience with a lightweight racket and birdie.KanJam, a fun frisbee gameKan JamKanJam is a great game to bring to the beach and play on the sand. Simply gather a team outside and try to get the frisbee into the cans. You'll soon have many people wanting to join in on the fun.ShuffleboardAmazonThis game immediately brings back memories of cruise ship days, except this one is played on a driveway. All you need are the two cue sticks, pucks, and sidewalk chalk. Think of it as outdoor hockey, but with a twist.Capture the FlagAmazonCapture the flag is a game you probably haven't played since middle school, but it's a low-impact, football-like activity you can play with kids and adults.Flying disc or frisbeeChristopher Kimmel/Alpine Edge Photography/Getty ImagesBetter known as a frisbee, this is a great toy for playing catch with your dog or tossing around with your friends. If throwing a disc around seems tame, challenge them to a competitive game of Ultimate.Jump ropeSearsI used to jump for hours on my driveway when I was young, and it's a great way to double-dutch and hop along — all while getting some exercise in. I love beaded ones because they are typically longer and the beads make you know when to jump as they hit the pavement, but braided wired ones work just as well. HopscotchAmazonFun to play with kids, this hopscotch ring set lets you set up a game anywhere — no chalk needed.Yard pongAmazonAlso known as bucket ball, the game comes with three balls of different weights for beginners and pros alike. It's like beer pong, except more family-appropriate. Plus: The buckets can also be used to build sandcastles.Outdoor bowlingBed Bath & BeyondStrikes, spares, and turkeys aren't limited to bowling alleys. Outdoor bowling sets are available for your next backyard get-together and are typically built from weather-resistant materials, too, so they'll last for spring and summertime.Potato sack racesAmazonYes, you can order potato sacks for racing outdoors, just like back in summer camp. Expect endless laughs — and some stumbles — with this simple family activity.Anything involving water gunsTargetOn days when the sun is out and on full blast, water gun battles are a fun way to cool down. However, if there are kids around, be very mindful as some water guns can be strong enough to cause pain or injury.Blowing bubblesAmazonBlowing bubbles is less of a game and more of something to do outside but, nevertheless, they are great for all ages.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderSep 6th, 2022

Facebook Owner Meta Is Failing to Prevent Repeat of Jan. 6 in Brazil, Report Warns

Content questioning the validity of the upcoming election is spreading rapidly on social media, the report says Meta is failing to stop a Jan. 6-style movement gaining traction on Facebook and WhatsApp in Brazil, a rights group has warned in a new report. Campaigning for Brazil’s next presidential election is currently underway, with the first round of voting scheduled for October 2. Jair Bolsonaro, the country’s rightwing populist president, has embraced comparisons to Donald Trump throughout his tenure and is now drawing from the former U.S. President’s 2020 playbook as he lags behind his leftwing opponent Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. In recent months Bolsonaro has sought to sow doubt about the validity of Brazil’s democratic processes, warning repeatedly of the risk of fraud, and alleging without evidence that the country’s electronic voting system is vulnerable to interference. In speeches he has said that “only God” can remove him from office. Some of Brazil’s key military officials have echoed his claims of possible fraud, sparking fears that the world’s seventh most populous country could be vulnerable to a military coup if Bolsonaro is defeated at the polls in October. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] “If need be,” Bolsonaro said at an election rally in June, “we will go to war.” Content questioning the validity of the upcoming election is spreading rapidly on social media, according to a new report titled “Stop the Steal 2.0” that was shared exclusively with TIME by the non-profit watchdog SumofUs. The spread of this content is contributing to a Jan. 6-style movement gaining traction in Brazil—and Meta, which also owns Brazil’s most widely-used messaging platform WhatsApp, is not doing enough to prevent it, according to SumofUs. The findings echo those of another report published by Global Witness in mid August, which found that Facebook repeatedly approved ads containing falsehoods about the Brazilian election. Social media’s role in Brazil’s elections The impact of social media on Brazilian politics is hard to overstate. Some 83% of Brazilians get their news online, including via social media, according to the Reuters Institute. WhatsApp is the most popular platform in Brazil, with 78% of people using it regularly; Facebook is used by 67% of the population. “Bolsonaro is the first Brazilian president, probably one of the few leaders in the world, who governs by social media, much more than Trump ever did,” says Thomas Traumann, a Brazilian journalist and political analyst who served as a spokesperson for Dilma Rousseff, one of Bolsonaro’s predecessors as president. In the report shared with TIME, SumofUs identified posts, ads and private messages on Facebook and WhatsApp that it said contributed to “inciting a violent coup.” The report also identified ads from Bolsonaro supporters spreading electoral disinformation, with targets including Brazil’s Supreme Court and Bolsonaro’s political opponents. SumofUs claims that other ads posted on Facebook in August broke Brazilian laws about political advertising outside of the official campaign period. Many of the posts called on Brazilians to take to the streets on Sept. 7, Brazil’s independence day, in a planned show of force that the SumofUs report warns could become “a repeat of January 6.” “Meta has learned absolutely nothing since January 6 in the U.S.,” says Flora Rebello Arduini, a campaign manager at SumofUs and the author of the report. “We are seeing ads that are pushing not just for a violent coup in the country, but also narratives discrediting the electoral processes in Brazil.” SumofUs identified 16 “problematic” Facebook ads that promoted the Sept. 7 rally, including one that included a picture of a combat knife along with military gloves and goggles. Together, the 16 ads were viewed by Facebook users more than 615,000 times, the report says. (Meta removed the ad with the combat knife before publication of the report, but an identical post on a smaller page is still online, according to SumofUs.) Rebello Arduini says while the report’s sample size is small, the ads it details are “just the tip of the iceberg” of the narrative being developed across social media. Rebello Arduini adds that Facebook appears to be blind to the wider significance of the Sept. 7 movement, addressing posts on a case-by-case basis rather than as part of a coordinated threat to Brazilian democracy. “You cannot assess specific isolated pieces of content or ads without actually putting them in the context of the country,” she tells TIME. “One size doesn’t fit all, unfortunately.” Bolsonaro’s supporters are also using WhatsApp to undermine confidence in the election, according to the report. SumofUs monitored three large group chats on the platform over a one-week period and found memes inciting violence on Sept. 7. “A war is not won in hours,” one example reads. “Sept. 7 is just the beginning […] Want freedom? FIGHT. Want your job? FIGHT. Want to protect your family? FIGHT.” “We cannot comment on a report that we have not been given access to,” a Meta spokesperson said in a statement. “We’ve prepared extensively for the 2022 election in Brazil, working closely with local electoral and law enforcement officials. We remove content and accounts that constitute a credible threat to public or personal safety.” In mid-August, Meta announced it was banning ads that question the legitimacy of the upcoming election, and announced plans to activate an “election operations center” closer to voting day to “identify potential threats in real time and speed up our responses.” “The concern of violence on the street is absolutely real,” says Katie Harbath, Facebook’s former head of elections who spent time in Brazil for the company during the 2018 election campaign in which Bolsonaro swept to power. Harbath says Facebook has, however, noticeably improved its policies since the last election, by rolling out labels that point users to reliable information from the electoral board, and improving its AI systems for detecting harmful language. “What has not changed is the difficult question about where you draw the line with some of this content, and the question of when something rises to the level of imminent harm,” says Harbath, who now leads a tech policy consultancy called Anchor Change. “To me, that’s a story of how AI is not nuanced enough yet to know the difference between when somebody says, ‘let’s take to the streets and defend our democracy,’ whether they are intending to be violent or not.” Meta’s own policies may be making it harder for researchers to point out the company’s flaws. Harbath cautioned against taking the small sample sizes in the SumofUs report as proof that its findings are just the tip of an iceberg. But the report’s authors told TIME that Meta had made it harder for them to do more wide-ranging research by rejecting their requests to access CrowdTangle, a tool that allows researchers to monitor the reach of posts and hashtags. Meta is reportedly planning to shutter CrowdTangle, following a slew of bad press stemming from researchers’ and journalists’ use of the tool. “That limits the ability of researchers to better look through what’s happening on the platform,” Rebello Arduini, the author of the SumofUs report, told TIME. “Facebook is again closing the circle and limiting the possibilities for researchers, civil society, and academics.” As tensions rise on social media, Brazilian political analysts now worry that even if Sept. 7 remains peaceful, the election could end very badly. “I don’t expect a coup attempt on Sept. 7,” says political analyst Traumann. “Bolsonaro wants to show the people are behind him, and then we’ll see what happens on Oct. 2. The danger will come on election day, the days before, and the days after.”.....»»

Category: topSource: timeSep 6th, 2022

The cocaine in Australia contains barely any cocaine

Some 40% of submitted cocaine samples tested in Canberra this summer had no cocaine, while those with cocaine had purity levels of 27% on average. Australian Federal Police officers with suitcases used to smuggle cocaine, at a news conference in Sydney on February 6, 2003.REUTERS/Mark Baker A high proportion of recent cocaine samples in Australia contained no trace of the drug. In the samples that did contain cocaine, purity levels were at an average of just 27%. The totals suggest the supply from Latin America is a far from meeting demand in Australia. A high proportion of cocaine samples in Australia have been found to contain no trace of the drug, suggesting that supply from Latin America is a long way from meeting market demand in the country.Researchers from the Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra found that 40% of the cocaine samples submitted to the city's CanTEST Health and Drug Checking Service since mid-July contained "no cocaine at all," according to an August 25 press release.In those samples that did contain cocaine, purity levels were at an average of just 27%.The supposed cocaine was cut or replaced with sugar, talc, or dimethyl sulfone, the latter often being used to cut methamphetamine, reported the Guardian.CanTEST also tested 15 samples of supposed fentanyl "with none showing signs of these dangerous and potent synthetic opiates," said David Caldicott, an associate professor at ANU's Medical School.In contrast, all heroin samples tested contained the illicit substance, while most ketamine and methamphetamine samples also tested positive.InSight Crime analysisA cocaine-filled suitcase seized aboard the cruise ship MS Sea Princess in Sydney on August 28, 2016.Australian Boarder Force via APCanTEST's initial findings reveal the apparent difficulty traffickers have in delivering to Australia, despite frequent drugs seizures and reports that Mexican cartels have a presence in the country.Aside from the complete lack of cocaine in 40% of samples, purity levels of 27% are well below averages in other wealthier nations. In the European Union, cocaine purity in 2021 stood at between 53% and 68% on average, according to the European Drug Report 2021.John Coyne, head of strategic policing and law enforcement at the Australia Strategic Policy Centre, told InSight Crime that such low purity levels are to be expected in a drug market as far-flung as Australia."Australia is at the end of the global cocaine supply chain. While profitable, it is a low-volume market compared to North America and Europe. Of concern is the substitution [of cocaine for another substance], no doubt driven by profit taking," he said.Local biker gangs typically act as the distributors for transnational crime groups like Mexico's Sinaloa Cartel, Coyne explained. However, he added that such relations are based on ad hoc deals more than institutionalized partnershipsMexican cartels have attempted to find a foothold in Australia for years. As InSight Crime reported in 2016, Australia's Strategic and Defence Studies Centre suggested that Mexican cartels — primarily the Sinaloa Cartel — threatened national security.And a recent string of cocaine discoveries has increased concerns that the cocaine pipeline to Australia is getting busier. Most recently, on August 6, 700 kilograms of cocaine were discovered in Sydney's Port Botany on a ship that had stopped at ports in Central and South America, the Australian Federal Police reported.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytSep 6th, 2022