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Astronomers spot more mysterious radio signals from far outside the galaxy

Astronomers spot more mysterious radio signals from far outside the galaxy

Whenever some new “cosmic puzzle” crops up, you always have to be ready for the other shoe to drop. But just because something isn’t an alien message or Ringworld doesn’t mean it can’t be interesting science.

Today’s shoe drop concerns “fast radio bursts” coming from a distant galaxy — but don’t expect a secret message from an advanced civilization.

Fast radio bursts, or FRBs, are short, intense blasts of radio waves that come from far outside our galaxy. No one knows what causes them, but they’re unlike anything else we’ve observed — and their uniqueness makes them a prime target for detection in noisy data.
A SETI project snatched a few just this fall, but another effort using a brand new radio telescope called CHIME that essentially points at the whole sky and chooses where to “look” using software. In a pair of papers published today, researchers say they’ve found 13 new FRBs using the method.

“The telescope has no moving parts. Instead it uses digital signal processing to ‘point’ the telescope and reconstruct where the radio waves are coming from. This is done using clever algorithms and a couple of giant computer clusters that sit beside the telescope and crunch away at the data in real time,” explained Kiyoshi Masui, an MIT scientist on the team behind CHIME’s discoveries, in a news release.

This kind of software-defined operation is sure to become more common as computing power increases and the effectiveness of smaller arrays increases.

You can see where in the universe they appeared in the video here:

Animation illustrating the random appearance of Fast Radio Bursts on the sky. from NRAO Outreach on Vimeo.

Hopefully that helps.

Naturally everyone wants to think it’s spaceships or planets full of hyper intelligent broadcasters sending out signals to us, though of course they would have had to send it a long, long time ago. More likely it’s “powerful astrophysical objects more likely to be in locations with special characteristics,” the scientists speculated.

Supernovas, black holes, quasars — there are lots of strange, high-energy items out there in the universe, and who knows what happens when they combine? The FRBs observed recently also exhibited a much lower wavelength than those seen previously, so there appears to be quite a variety.

But what’s even rarer than FRBs is repeating FRBs; only one has ever been found, via the massive Arecibo array in Puerto Rico. That is, until these scientists spotted another.

When there was only the one, it was conceivable that the occurrence was a cosmic anomaly — perhaps some incredibly rare event that only happens once in a thousand millennia. But two in a handful of years? That suggests they’re far more common than that, and now that we know what to look for we’re likely to find more.

It might not be an alien civilization, but something totally new to science is a pretty nice consolation prize.

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Triple Amputee Vet Raises Over $20.6 Million to Build Wall $1 Billion Goal

Triple Amputee Vet Raises $1,361,421 to Build Wall in Two Days — $1 Billion Goal

Brian Kolfage, a triple amputee veteran and Purple Heart recipient has raised more than $20 million as of Thursday morning on a Go Fund Me campaign to pay for a wall on the U.S. border with Mexico.

Over 347,351 people in 1 month have donated to the WE Build The Wall Effort.

Kolfage, who has a verified Facebook page, wrote on the Go Fund Me page:

Like a  majority of those American citizens who voted to elect President Donald J Trump, we voted for him to Make America Great Again. President Trump’s main campaign promise was to BUILD THE WALL. And as he’s followed through on just about every promise so far, this wall project needs to be completed still.

As a veteran who has given so much, 3 limbs, I feel deeply invested to this nation to ensure future generations have everything we have today. Too many Americans have been murdered by illegal aliens and too many illegals are taking advantage of  the United States taxpayers with no means of ever contributing to our society.

I have grandparents who immigrated to America legally, they did it the correct way and it’s time we uphold our laws, and get this wall BUILT! It’s up to Americans to help out and pitch in to get this project rolling.

If the 63 million people who voted for Trump each pledge $80, we can build the wall. That equates to roughly 5 Billion Dollars, even if we get half, that’s half the wall. We can do this.

AFTER DONATING, SIGN OUR PETITION WE NEED 100 million signatures www.WeFundTheWall.com also join our groups on social media

Kolfage is a retired US Air Force member who lost three limbs when he was wounded in Iraq. According to the biography on his personal website , he is a graduate of the University of Arizona’s School of Architecture.

UPDATE: JANUARY 11, 2019

ALL CONTRIBUTIONS RECEIVED AFTER JANUARY 11TH ARE NOT SUBJECT TO THE OPT-IN/OPT-OUT PROCESS

IF YOU’VE ALREADY OPTED-IN OR OPTED-OUT NO FURTHER ACTION IS REQUIRED

IF YOU DONATED BEFORE JANUARY 11 YOU MUST  OPT IN HERE OR YOUR CONTRIBUTION WILL BE AUTOMATICALLY REFUNDED AFTER 90 DAYS

★★YOU CAN FIND ANSWERS TO SOME OF OUR FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS HERE ★★
———————————————————

WE EXPANDED OUR MISSION! We are no longer just funding the wall, we are now BUILDING the wall.  

Eight days before Christmas I started this GoFundMe campaign because I was tired of watching the U.S. government’s inability to secure our southern border. Like most Americans, I see the porous southern border as a national security threat and I refuse to allow our broken political system to leave my family and my country vulnerable to attack.

The plan of action was simple and straightforward to raise money to construct a wall on our southern border. We have raised over $20 Million from 325,000 plus donors and we are only just getting started! I have been literally overwhelmed and inspired by the outpouring of support, calls, and emails from American citizens who support our efforts to Build the Wall. I got some hate as well but that was easy to ignore with all the positive feedback I was getting. I immediately sought out and consulted with some of our country’s leading professionals in law, politics, national security, construction, and finance. This team has spent countless hours over the holidays reviewing all issues pertaining to the construction of a southern border wall. Unanimously, we have all come to the conclusion that:

  1. The federal government won’t be able to accept our donations anytime soon.
  2. We are better equipped than our own government to use the donated funds to build an  actual wall on the southern border.
  3. Our highly experienced team is highly confident that we can complete significant segments of the wall in less time, and for far less money, than the federal government, while meeting or exceeding all required regulatory, engineering, and environmental specifications.
  4. Our team strongly believes that we can complete our segments of the wall for less than half of the government’s estimated costs on a per mile basis.

IF YOU WANT TO SUPPORT & BUILD THE BORDER WALL OPT-IN CLICK HERE!!!

To show the government how “We the People” can get this done, we have formed a Section 501(c)(4) non-profit Florida Corporation named “We Build the Wall, Inc.” to receive the GoFundMe contributions. Our website can be found at www.webuildthewall.us.

The following individuals serve on the on the advisory board, and construction, finance, and or audit committees, operations, administration, PR, Media and ongoing fundraising:

www.webuildthewall.us/team

⭐ Brigadier General Dr. Robert S. Spalding III

⭐ Industrialist John Daniel Moran, Jr.

⭐ Ex-Navy SEAL and businessman Erik Prince,

⭐ Former Secretary of State of Kansas Kris Kobach,

⭐ Angel Mom Mary Ann Mendoza

⭐ Law enforcement and immigration expert Sheriff David Clarke

⭐ Former Colorado Congressman and presidential candidate Tom Tancredo

⭐Angel Dad Steve Ronnebeck

⭐ Media consultant and journalist Jennifer Lawrence

⭐ and many others

★★IF YOU WANT TO SUPPORT & BUILD THE BORDER WALL OPT-IN CLICK HERE!!! ★★

We have made significant progress in less than a month. We have begun extensive due diligence and the commencement of feasibility studies engaging leading experts in a variety of fields necessary to construct our border wall. These professionals have provided us with critical guidance on the legal, engineering, contracting, environmental, accounting, maintenance, and real estate issues required to build a wall on the southern border.

We are already taking action on:
✔ Identifying the most densely crossed areas of the border
✔ Soliciting affected landowners along the Southern border
✔ Studying the most feasible solutions based on terrain, barrier styles, environmental impact and efficacy
✔ Ascertaining the willingness of border landowners to provide no or low-cost easements on their property for wall construction

If the Democrats won’t provide the funding for what the American people voted for in 2016 then we the people will. When Americans see us completing real miles of beautiful wall, we know that we will raise the many billions we need to finally secure the entire border. I am 100% committed to secure our southern border and protect Americans.

There is a lot of work ahead of us, but this has never deterred me in the past. With the help of our highly experienced team, and your support, we will make this work!

The Articles of Incorporation and Mission Statement of We Build The Wall, Inc. make delivering on my promise to get a wall on the southern border built the clear objective and purpose of the organization.

⭐“Our mission is to unite private citizens that share a common belief in providing national security for our Southern Border through the construction, administration and maintenance of physical barriers inhibiting illegal entry into the United States. In interpreting the purpose of the Corporation, the Board of Directors and Members of the Advisory Board will consider the impact of a proposed structure on a selected site’s environment and construct barriers primarily designed to prevent illegal access to the United States, rather than cause catastrophic injury. We will focus on building portions of a U.S. Southern Border wall and manage the support operations required for, and the processes associated with, the design, engineering, construction, and maintenance of the wall.”⭐

100% of the funds raised on GoFundMe will be used in the execution of our mission and purpose. To honor the commitment, we made to our donors; all funds raised, less the processing fees and refunds, will be transferred to a special purpose account to carry out the purposes and mission of We Build the Wall, Inc.  I will personally not take a penny of compensation from these donations. 

When I created this fundraiser, I said if we did not reach our goal we will refund donors. I am honoring that commitment today. We will promptly refund your donation unless you tell us you approve our new plan for action.

You MUST tell GoFundMe you still want to Build the Wall or your contribution will not be included in this historic project.

★★★   ACT NOW CLICK HERE TO SAY YES  To Building The Border Wall With Brian Kolfage ★★★

If you want a refund for your donation, no need to do anything. You will receive your refund a few weeks after the 90 days expires and GoFundMe will notify you once your refund has processed. If you would prefer a refund now, you can request that here: https://bit.ly/2smynWq

You can also contact GoFundMe here.  You need to do this by April 10!

CHECK DONATIONS:

WeBuildTheWall, Inc.

PO Box 131567 Houston, Texas 77219-1567

God Bless

UPDATE: DO NOT BELIEVE WHAT YOU HEAR IN THE LIBERAL MEDIA THEY ARE LYING! THEY FEAR OUR MOVEMENT

DONATE HERE TO HELP BUILD THE WALL

Most of the donations have been in the range of $20 to $100.  The highest donation to date was for $50,000 by a private user.

The top 14 Highest Donations as of December 21 are shown below:

$50,000
Anonymous
8 hours ago

$13,337
Anonymous
12 hours ago

$12,000
Fortress Stabilization Systems
5 hours ago

$10,015
Edgar Weis
17 hours ago

$10,000
JZ Knight
9 hours ago

$10,000
Wayne Schell
6 hours ago

$10,000
Anonymous Person
23 hours ago

$10,000
Stephen Davis
5 days ago

$10,000
John Dolan
4 days ago

$9,000
Dale Broome
6 days ago

$5,000
Brian Follett
23 hours ago

$5,000
Angela Phillips
16 hours ago

$5,000
Susie Mihaylo
10 hours ago

Fighting Pain and Addiction for Veterans

Veterans-Pain-and-Addiction-StoptheBull

Last year, more than 130 Americans died each day from a drug overdose involving an opioid. Veterans are twice as likely to die of the same.

But there is some good news: The Department of Veterans Affairs is a recognized leader in pain management and opioid safety, and its success in reducing the use of opioids can be emulated by other health systems through VA’s proven strategies.

Severe pain is 40 percent more common in veterans compared to non-veterans. Nearly 60 percent of veterans who have served in the Middle East and more than 50 percent of older veterans live with some form of chronic pain.

I saw the effects of severe, chronic pain on my father when he returned from Vietnam severely wounded and still recovering after a year in military hospitals. Many veterans like my father suffer chronic pain for the rest of their lives, and the risk of suicide is particularly high among veterans and others who face chronic pain.

Fortunately, VA has taken a multi-faceted approach called the Opioid Safety Initiative to reduce the need for opioids. Since its launch, the program managed a 45 percent reduction in veteran patients receiving opioids from July 2012 to June 2018. That’s more than 300,000 fewer veterans on opioids. The same program in the same months reduced veterans on long-term opioid therapy by 51 percent and veterans on high-dose opioid therapy by 66 percent.

In addition to systemwide oversight of prescribing of opioids, the initiative has brought pharmacists and prescribers together to educate one another on the problem of identifying the best treatment for each veteran in pain.

Opioids have a place among treatment options. They are powerful drugs that can be used to alleviate pain, and any reduction in their use must be done carefully. Otherwise, patients could be driven to crisis by both the effects of withdrawal and ineffective pain management.

Decisions on the use of opioids must therefore take a whole health approach to care, with the aim of not just reducing opioids but also improving functioning by patients. It takes time and attention from providers to have meaningful conversations with patients about what their life goals are, and provide education about what they can reasonably expect from treatment.

This approach uses the stepped care model based on a continuum of care and incorporating professional support and self-management through counseling and participation in groups like Narcotics Anonymous. It also includes non-pharmacological pain treatment options like stress reduction, yoga, tai chi, mindfulness, chiropractic care, nutrition, acupuncture and health coaching, which may reduce reliance on opioids without increasing pain or causing other health problems.

Virtually all VA facilities have reduced prescriptions for opioids. VA facilities in El Paso, Texas, and Fayetteville, N.C., have managed the greatest reductions, cutting rates by 71 percent in El Paso and 69 percent in Fayetteville.

Rates for other VA facilities can be viewed online since January, when VA became the first hospital system in the country to begin posting its opioid prescribing rates online, updating them twice yearly in January and July.

We expect even better management of pain medications for veterans when VA and the Department of Defense roll out their new integrated electronic health records. The new records system will give health care providers a full picture of patient medical history, enabling better treatment and better clinical outcomes. It will also help us better identify veterans at higher risk for opioid addiction and suicide, so health care providers can intervene earlier and save lives.

We have also issued the lifesaving drug Naloxone to more than 100,000 veterans to help prevent tragedies and instituted patient risk assessments for overdose and suicide, bringing the power of big-data analytics to bear through VA’s Stratification Tool for Opioid Risk Mitigation, which puts predictive analytics in the hands of providers and allows effective collaboration of medical and mental care of veterans at risk.

There is still more to learn and more to do, and a national solution will require national collaboration. But President Trump has said, “We can be the generation that ends the opioid epidemic.” He is right about that. We can end the epidemic, and VA is helping lead the way.

Robert Wilkie is the Secretary of Veterans Affairs. This op-ed appeared in Newsday on October 25, 2018.

Annett wins NASCAR Daytona Xfinity race – Fox News

Annett wins NASCAR Daytona Xfinity race – Fox News


Michael Annett stretched the Speedweeks streak of first-time winners to three with a victory Saturday in theXfinity Seriesseason opener at Daytona International Speedway.

Annett won for the first time atNASCAR’snational level, a career that spans 345 races in three series. He gave JR Motorsports, owned by Dale Earnhardt Jr., his sister and sister and Rick Hendrick, its fourth in five years at Daytona

“A lot of people have been down on Michael Annett for a while now,” Earnhardt said.

FOOTBALL COULD BE COMING TO DAYTONA INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY

He likened Annett’s opportunity driving the No. 1 Chevrolet for JRM, a competitive Xfinity Series team, to when the late Dale Earnhardt gave Michael Waltrip a ride in 2001. It was Waltrip’s first ride in a car capable of winning and he ended an 462-losing streak by winning the Daytona 500 in his debut race for Dale Earnhardt Inc.

“It reminds me of an Earnhardt giving a Michael a chance years ago to show his potential,” Earnhardt Jr. said about Annett’s victory.

Annett followed Austin Hill, winner of the Truck Series opener, and Harrison Burton, winner of the ARCA opener, as first-time winners this week. The Daytona 500 is Sunday.

Allgaier finished second for a 1-2 Chevrolet finish but didn’t have an opportunity to pass Annett for the lead. The racing was largely single-file and strung out, the opposite of Friday night’s crash-marred Truck Series race.

Drivers on Saturday found it difficult to mount a passing attempt so they mostly stayed in line.

“I was disappointed I couldn’t make a run but a great way to start the season, come out of here second with some points,” said Allgaier, who praised Annett for earning the victory.

“He has tried so hard and the effort and time he’s put in into it.”

Brandon Jones was third in Toyota’s debut of the Supra in the Xfinity Series.

Ryan Sieg was fourth in a Chevrolet, followed by Austin Cindric in a Ford for Team Penske.

Annett has longtime sponsorship from Pilot Flying J and has taken it to various teams trying to find a competitive ride. He ran three full seasons in the Cup Series but didn’t score a single top-10 finish in 109 career starts. So Annett in 2017 stepped down to the Xfinity Series and spent the last two years driving for JR Motorsports.

“This is amazing — eight years in the series,” Annett said while crediting his team for sticking with him “through the hard times when everyone counts me out. Our slogan this year is ‘One team, one dream, one goal.'”

Earnhardt Jr. credited crew chief Travis Mack with guiding Annett’s team. Mack had previously worked at Hendrick Motorsports but moved to a crew chief job at Leavine Family Racing that lasted just aa few months last season. When Mack became available, JRM grabbed him.

“I knew I needed him here with Michael Annett. That combination would be great — so we’re seeing the results of that,” Earnhardt said. “I’m extremely happy for Travis Mack. It’s been a tough road for him, equally tough road for Michael Annett. It’s been a day of redemption for both of those guys.”

Jeffrey Earnhardt led 29 laps and finished 15th in his debut for Joe Gibbs Racing. Jeffrey Earnhardt has taken a new approach to his career and has decided to run a partial scheduled with a winning team rather than a full year with a smaller team.

Jeffrey Earnhardt raced with a tribute helmet to his grandfather, the late Earnhardt Sr., that showed a shirtless Earnhardt Sr. on a horse. He said his lack of experience leading races played a factor Saturday.

“Just lack of experience. I’ll get better at it,” Jeffrey Earnhardt said. “This was the first time to actually get to race upfront like that. It was a lot of fun. Hopefully we continue to grow this program and grow myself as a driver. We won’t let them get away from us anymore.”

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The 1979 Daytona 500 brawl that changed NASCAR – Fox News

The 1979 Daytona 500 brawl that changed NASCAR – Fox News


The first break came with the massive blizzard that wreaked havoc on the East Coast, essentially locking television viewers in their homes.The Daytona 500, meanwhile, was to be broadcast live in its entirety for the first time, reaching markets that knew little, if anything, about stock car racing. The 3 1/2-hour event finished in stunning fashion, another fortunate turn that featured a muddy, bloody brawl a few hundred yards from the finish line.

It wasNASCAR‘s version of a perfect storm.

And it changed the sport forever.

FOOTBALL COULD BE COMING TO DAYTONA INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY

“It was just a storybook day,” Hall of Fame driver Darrell Waltrip said. “It started off almost as a disaster, but it ended up like a big, old soap opera.”

Thanks to a landmark television deal with CBS, a winter storm that stranded a large portion of the country and a spectacular ending involving several top drivers — including Richard Petty, Cale Yarborough and brothers Bobby and Donnie Allison — the 1979 Daytona 500 was instrumental in broadening racing’s southern roots. Forty years later, it still resonates as perhaps the most pivotal race in NASCAR history.

“It was a wild time,” Hall of Fame driver Bill Elliott said. “It was the talk of the town.”

It was more like the talk of the nation.

Donnie Allison, in car 1, and Cale Yarborough, in car 11, crashed on the last lap of the Daytona 500 to put Richard Petty in Victory Lane.

Donnie Allison, in car 1, and Cale Yarborough, in car 11, crashed on the last lap of the Daytona 500 to put Richard Petty in Victory Lane.
(AP)

The chain of events started a year earlier, when NASCAR founder Bill France sent the effusive Waltrip and veteran commentator Ken Squier to convince TV executives that they needed to broadcast the race from start to finish. At the time, NASCAR’s limited TV exposure would come from short, weekly segments on ABC’s “Wide World of Sports.”

France was convinced auto racing was poised for growth, ready to expand beyond the bible belt. TV executives weren’t so sure anyone would care outside the southeast.

France and CBS eventually hashed out details and signed a contract in May 1978 to televise next year’s 500 live for the first time. The logistics were a handful, with CBS installing 12 cameras around the 2 1/2-mile track and needing an immeasurable amount of cable to make them all work.

The setup was innovative, too. CBS placed one camera directly next to the track, so close to the action that the cameraman had to wear a motorcycle helmet for protection, and another inside a race car. Several drivers balked at mounting the 35-pound camera in the passenger’s side, but Benny Parsons agreed.

Nonetheless, the biggest storm in more than a decade almost ruined all the planning.

Cities were essentially shut down. Roads were impassable. Millions of people ended up getting snowed in, and back then, they had just three network channels for entertainment.

In Daytona, it had rained overnight and again the morning of the race. The downpours eventually stopped, and the skies cleared. But the high-banked superspeedway was soaked, and NASCAR had nothing close to the drying technology it has today.

The race needed to go off on time to keep the TV contract intact, so France decided to start it under caution even though the racing surface was far from dry. The belief was 41 cars turning laps at half speed would get it dry enough to race.

Waltrip went out in front of the field for a test lap and radioed back to NASCAR officials that the track was good to go, so after 15 laps under caution, drivers took the green flag for the 21st running of the Daytona 500.

“Before that day, I think people looked at the sport as a bunch of guys having a good time on Sunday afternoon,” Waltrip said. “They didn’t know how serious or passionate the drivers were about racing and winning. I think it really opened a lot of people’s eyes to what this sport was about. We never had a venue do that before.”

The race had plenty of intrigue.

Pole-sitter Buddy Baker had early engine trouble and finished 40th. Three other favorites — the Allison brothers and Yarborough — got tangled up on the backstretch on Lap 31 and fell well behind the leaders.

Donnie Allison and Yarborough managed to get back to the front thanks to two of the fastest cars in the field. They were running 1-2 over the final 20-plus laps and had a 17-second lead over a three-car pack that included Petty, Waltrip and A.J. Foyt.

Yarborough waited until the last lap to make his move. He went low to pass Allison coming off Turn 2. Allison blocked him, forcing Yarborough into the backstretch grass. Yarborough’s No. 11 Oldsmobile swerved out of control and moved back up the track and into Allison’s No. 1 Oldsmobile. Both cars got loose at that point, slammed into each again, turned into the outside wall, slid back across the track and came to a halt in the muddy infield.

With Squire deftly handling play-by-play, he helped cameramen find the new leader, Petty.

“It turned out to be a wing-dinger,” said Petty’s crew chief, Dale Inman.

Petty held off Waltrip as they circled the final two turns and won his sixth 500, ending a 45-race winless streak four months removed from major stomach surgery. Petty’s entire crew piled onto his iconic No. 43 for a ride to victory lane.

The fireworks were happening a few hundred yards away.

Bobby Allison had stopped his car near the crashed cars to see if Donnie needed a ride back to the garage. Yarborough confronted him through his window.

“He ran toward me and started yelling at me,” Bobby said. “And then he hit me in the face with his helmet, which really surprised me. I still had my seatbelts on. I had my helmet on, and that shielded me a little bit, but it cut my nose and my lips.

“By then, blood was dripping in my lap. I’ve either got to get out of the car and handle this or run from him the rest of my life. So I got out of my car and he went to beating on my fists with his nose.”

Yarborough and Allison tangled in the mud, with fists, helmets and feet flying all around. Donnie got involved late, but never threw a punch.

“It wasn’t a good fight because I never hit the son of a gun,” Donnie said. “I ought to have. There’s no telling what I would have done to him. It would have been a real fight.”

More than 15.1 million people watched the race and all its aftermath. It stood as the highest-rated NASCAR race until 2001. By then, the series hardly resembled the sport that took hold in the south. Sponsorships boomed. Drivers became household names and millionaires. NASCAR went from backwoods to boardrooms.

“It was one of the high points of NASCAR, put NASCAR on a nationwide map, OK?” Petty said. “Everything that you could put into a program, you had it that day. … It couldn’t have been a better footstep for NASCAR at that particular time.”

Four decades later, 1979 Daytona 500 highlights get replayed as often as any race on TV.

Daytona recognizes its significance, too. A life-sized color picture of the fight adorns a wall inside the Turn 1 tunnel.

“It might not have been the way NASCAR wanted it to be, but sometimes things just kind of fall in your lap and you make the best of it,” Elliott said. “It shaped and molded our sport. It’s just part of the history, right, wrong or indifferent. There’s no denying it.”

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Trump the pundit handicaps 2020 Democratic contenders

Trump the pundit handicaps 2020 Democratic contenders


WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Kamala Harris had the best campaign roll-out. Amy Klobuchar’s snowy debut showed grit. Elizabeth Warren’s opening campaign video was a bit odd. Take it from an unlikely armchair pundit sizing up the 2020 Democratic field: President Donald Trump.
In tweets, public remarks and private conversations, Trump is making clear he is closely following the campaign to challenge him on the ballot. Facing no serious primary opponent of his own — at least so far — Trump is establishing himself as an in-their-face observer of the Democratic Party’s nominating process — and no will be surprised to find that he’s not being coy about weighing in.
Presidents traditionally ignore their potential opponents as long as possible to maintain their status as an incumbent floating above the contenders who are auditioning for a job they already inhabit.
Not Trump. He’s eager to shape the debate, sow discord and help position himself for the general election. It’s just one more norm to shatter, and a risky bet that his acerbic politics will work to his advantage once again.
This is the president whose 240-character blasts and penchant for insults made mincemeat of his 2016 Republican rivals. And Brad Parscale, Trump’s campaign manager, said the president aims to use Twitter again this time to “define his potential opponent and impact the Democrat primary debate.”
But often Trump’s commentary reflects a peculiar sense of disengagement from the events of the day, as though he were a panelist on the cable news shows he records and watches, rather than their prime subject of discussion. He puts the armchair in armchair punditry. In an interview with The New York Times, Trump assessed Harris’ campaign like a talk show regular, declaring her opening moves as having a “better crowd, better enthusiasm” than the other Democrats.
Crowd size was also at play last week when he held a rally in El Paso, Texas, that was countered a few blocks away by one led by former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, a potential 2020 candidate.
“So we have let’s say 35,000 people tonight, and he has 200 people, 300 people,” Trump observed, wildly exaggerating both numbers. “Not too good. In fact, what I would do is, I would say, that may be the end of his presidential bid.”
When Sen. Klobuchar announced her candidacy on a frigid day in her home state of Minnesota, Trump anointed her with a nickname of sorts, and a benign one at that: “By the end of her speech she looked like a Snowman(woman)!”
Inside the West Wing and in conversations with outside allies, Trump has been workshopping other attempts to imprint his new adversaries with lasting labels, according to two people on whom the president has tested out the nicknames. They spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations with the president. He is also testing out lines of attack in public rallies, exploring vulnerabilities he could use against them should they advance to the general election.
No candidate has drawn more commentary and criticism from Trump than Sen. Warren, the liberal Massachusetts Democrat. Warren’s past claims of Native American heritage prompted Trump to brand her “Pocahontas” and he has shown no qualms about deploying racially charged barbs harking back to some of the nation’s darkest abuses.
Wading into a Twitter frenzy over an Instagram video Warren posted after she announced her exploratory committee while sharing a beer with her husband at their kitchen table, Trump jeered: “Best line in the Elizabeth Warren beer catastrophe is, to her husband, ‘Thank you for being here. I’m glad you’re here’ It’s their house, he’s supposed to be there!”
“If Elizabeth Warren, often referred to by me as Pocahontas, did this commercial from Bighorn or Wounded Knee instead of her kitchen, with her husband dressed in full Indian garb, it would have been a smash!” Trump tweeted.
Even in the midst of the partial government shutdown, those tweets mocking Warren were widely joked about by White House staff weary from the protracted closure, according to one aide who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal conversations. The person said the president repeatedly ridiculed Warren’s video in private conversations with aides and outside advisers.
Attention from Trump can drive up fundraising and elevate a candidate above a crowded field. But responding to attacks also distracts from a candidate’s message.
Trump’s rivals in the 2016 GOP primary learned that lesson as he bedeviled them with name-calling. Trump goaded Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida into making a thinly veiled insult of his manhood that quickly backfired, and weeks later he sucked Texas Sen. Ted Cruz into a brutal back-and-forth about an insult he had leveled at Cruz’s wife.
“The president has an ability to use social media to define his opponents and influence the primary debate in a way no sitting president before him has,” said former White House spokesman Raj Shah. “I expect him to take full advantage.”
On Friday, hours after declaring a national emergency on the U.S.-Mexico border, Trump tweeted a video made by a supporter that featured the president’s Democratic critics in Congress. Harris, Bernie Sanders and Cory Booker were shown sitting dourly during the State of the Union address, set to the R.E.M. ballad “Everybody Hurts.”
The mocking video may have been taken down later in the day after a copyright complaint by the band, and re-cut using Trump-supporter Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the U.S.A.” But the message to Trump’s would-be 2020 rivals, and people girding for another wild presidential cycle, remained anchored to the lyrics of that R.E.M. song: “Hold on.”

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Brazil’s #metoo moment: Spiritual guru accused of sex abuse

Brazil’s #metoo moment: Spiritual guru accused of sex abuse


ABADIANIA, Brazil (AP) — For over 40 years, spiritual healer Joao Teixeira de Faria drew people from all over the world to this small city in central Brazil, offering treatment for everything from depression to cancer.
His work was both praised — Oprah Winfrey called de Faria “inspiring” while visiting in 2012 — and heavily scrutinized. Now, de Faria, who goes by the name “Joao de Deus,” or “John of God,” is in trouble with the law.
Since December, more than 250 women including his daughter have come forward to allege abuse that ranged from being felt up during treatments to rape. The mounting accusations are turning the 77-year-old spiritual guru into Brazil’s first major figure to go down in the #metoo era, which has been slow to take off in Latin America’s largest nation despite myriad problems with gender equality.
Meanwhile, the people in Abadiania, about a two-hour drive west from the nation’s capital of Brasilia, are in disbelief. They also fear for their futures without de Faria.
“All of Abadiania depended on the work of Joao,” said Claudio Pruja, the owner of a small inn who also sometimes worked as an assistant to de Faria. “We don’t have a beach. This isn’t Copacabana.”
Indeed, de Faria’s pull was so strong that the much more affluent “new” part of the town, built in the years since the healer opened his clinic in 1976, stands in sharp contrast to the older, run down part of town: There are brightly colored houses, swept streets, hotels with ATM machines inside — a rarity in small Brazilian cities — as well as specialty boutiques that cater to tourists and police constantly patrolling.
By some estimates, his “casa spiritual,” or “spiritual house,” attended to 10,000 patients a week. It was there that de Faria, who over the decades came under sharp scrutiny from critics who deemed him a charlatan, performed “psychic” surgeries that he said could heal a wide range of maladies.
Sometimes treatments were based on prayer, and sometimes they involved minor cutting into the body.
In 2012, Winfrey visited de Faria’s center and interviewed him for her talk show, writing about the experience of seeing him cut into the breast of a woman without anesthesia.
“An overwhelming sense of peace” is how she described the experience in a column that has since been deleted on oprah.com.
Winfrey has issued a statement saying she sympathizes with the alleged victims and hopes they get justice.
According to more than 250 women, it was during the healing sessions that de Faria molested them or began grooming them for what would lead to forced sexual contact outside the clinic.
Luciano Miranda, a public prosecutor, told The Associated Press that his office had received testimony from women from six countries: Brazil, Germany, Belgium, Bolivia, the United States and Holland.
De Faria’s victims were of all ages, and he would often begin by turning off the lights and asking for a massage, Miranda said.
“The biggest fear of victims was not being believed,” Miranda added. He said some of the women said they held off talking publicly about it for years because of worry they “could lose their husbands.”
The scandal erupted when several women talked about their experiences on the show “Conversa com Bial” in December, leading to an avalanche of similar accusations in the weeks that followed.
The U.S. Embassy in Brazil published an alert asking Americans to contact Brazilian authorities if they had been abused by de Faria.
De Faria’s adult daughter, Dalva Teixeira, told Brazilian magazine Veja that her father frequently raped her between the ages of 10 and 14, all on the pretense of spiritual treatments.
“My father is a monster,” she told the magazine.
De Faria’s lawyers have noted that many of the allegations are decades old, and in some cases involved women who repeatedly visited the healer — putting into question the veracity of their abuse claims.
They argue their client, who has been arrested, should be released before a trial. They have called on Brazilians to know all the facts before judging.
“Lynchings are always potentially unjust and lead a society to find scapegoats in individuals,” lawyers Alberto Zacharias Toron and Luisa Moraes Abreu Ferreira wrote in a December op-ed in daily Folha de S. Paulo.
The accusations against de Faria come as cases of alleged abuse have emerged in several Latin American countries. In Argentina, a well-known actor, a senator and a legislative chief of staff have been accused of sexual harassment to assault. In Costa Rica, a criminal complaint alleging sexual assault was filed against former president and Nobel peace laureate Oscar Arias, leading other women to come forward with accusations.
Of the women who made the initial accusations on “Conversa com Bial,” only one agreed to be identified. Zahira Lieneke Mous, a Danish choreographer, recounted how she visited de Faria to deal with sexual abuse in her past.
During a first consultation, she said he placed her hands on his penis, and in a second encounter penetrated her from behind. After remaining silent for four years, she detailed her accusations in a Facebook post last year and told her story on the show. Contacted since then, Mous has declined to be interviewed.
Two other alleged victims reached by the AP have also declined to give interviews.
In Abadiania, where many express surprise at the allegations against de Faria, the married guru was seen around town as a lady’s man.
Norberto Kist, another inn owner who often assisted de Faria, said the man he considered a “father” was attractive to women.
“He had an energy,” said Kist, waving his hands for emphasis. “And that generated fascination in women.”
“A lot of things that happened, and others that are being presented in a ridiculous way (in the press), happened because of that strength, that energy, that magnetism, which is fascinating,” Kist said.
Inside de Faria’s spiritual hospital is a picture of Jesus Christ next to one of de Faria. Signs in English and Portuguese give instructions like, “Crystal bed in session. Silence please.” Inside the center, both workers and tourists dress in all white.
By all accounts, the number of visitors is way down, but the flow hasn’t stopped entirely.
“The energy is more pure. It’s as strong as ever, if not stronger,” said Tammy Pennington, an American from California recently in Abadiania for spa treatments.
Of the more than 250 cases, at least 112 have passed the statue of limitations, said Miranda, the public prosecutor. In such cases, it’s normally 20 years, but de Faria’s advanced age reduces the statute of limitations to 10 years.
No trial date has been set, but regardless of what happens, it’s unlikely de Faria will ever be able to practice again.
“I feel sorry for the people suffering,” said Angela Maria dos Santos, another healer who worked with de Faria for over 20 years at the center, adding: “It’s a time of great pain.”
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Peter Prengaman reported from Rio de Janeiro.

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Amazon aims to make half of its shipments carbon neutral by 2030

Amazon aims to make half of its shipments carbon neutral by 2030


Perhaps hoping to distract from Greenpeace’s latest report on its “dirty cloud, Amazon this morning announced a new environmental commitment, focused on reducing its carbon footprint. The company says it aims to reach 50 percent of all Amazon shipments with net zero carbon by 2030.
The company is calling this program “Shipment Zero.” Details on this long-term project weren’t yet available, but Amazon says it plans to share its company-wide carbon footprint “along with related goals and programs,” at a later date. That seems to indicate Amazon will offer an update on the progress of its other sustainability goals, as well.
It’s important for Amazon to be transparent on these plans, as the size of its business means its impact to the environment, energy consumption, and ultimately climate change, is significant.
The company today runs programs including Frustration Free Packaging and Ship in Own Container, and has a network of solar and wind farms, solar on its fulfillment center rooftops, investments in the circular economy, the company noted in the announcement. It said it employs over 200 scientists, engineers, and product designers who are dedicated to developing new ways to leverage Amazon’s scale for the “good of the customers and the planet.”
For example, Amazon has been able to pressure suppliers to reduce their environmental impact, with the frustration-free packaging and ship in own container programs.
But Amazon doesn’t have the cleanest environmental record, according to Greenpeace.
The organization dinged the internet giant only days ago for failing to deliver on its commitment to shifting to renewable energy. Its new report said Amazon’s data centers in Virginia are powered by only 12 percent renewable energy, compared with Facebook’s 37 percent and Microsoft’s 34 percent.
In between the lines of this morning’s news, Amazon briefly addressed the Greenpeace report.
“Amazon has a long-term goal to power our global infrastructure using 100 percent renewable energy, and we are making solid progress,” its corporate blog post read.
Amazon did, however, offer a longer statement to Windpower Engineering shortly after the report’s publication, claiming Greenpeace’s data was inaccurate. In particular, it pointed out that the report had failed to highlight AWS and Amazon’s investment in solar projects in Virginia.
Amazon says it will offer more details on Shipment Zero and its other programs later this year.

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Shannon Sharpe has ‘no problem’ with Antonio Brown addressing Ben Roethlisberger (VIDEO)

Shannon Sharpe has ‘no problem’ with Antonio Brown addressing Ben Roethlisberger (VIDEO)


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Feb 18, 2019 at 11:00a ET | Undisputed | Duration: 3:38
AFCAFC NorthBen RoethlisbergerPittsburgh SteelersUndisputed
Shannon Sharpe talks about the Pittsburgh Steelers on today’s show. Hear why he has no problem with Antonio Brown taking to Twitter to air his grievances with Ben Roethlisberger.

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Politicians who jumped on Jussie Smollett attack claim in awkward spot

Politicians who jumped on Jussie Smollett attack claim in awkward spot


Democratic politicians are backtracking from their initial comments about what was originally described as a hate crime against “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett, after a Chicago police spokesperson said over the weekend the “trajectory of the investigation” shifted and they no longer consider Smollett a victim in the case.JUSSIE SMOLLETT’S LAWYERS DENY HE PLANNED ATTACK AFTER CHICAGO POLICE CLAIM HE’S NO LONGER CONSIDERED A VICTIM IN CASEWhen the incident was first reported last month, Democratic presidential candidate Cory Booker called it “an attempted modern-day lynching.” But on Sunday, Booker told reporters he is now withholding comment on the case “until all the information actually comes out from on-the-record sources.”House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Jan. 29 tweeted that the “racist, homophobic attack” against Smollett is “an affront to our humanity.” But over the weekend, Pelosi’s tweet had been deleted.Smollett, who is black and openly gay, has claimed he was attacked by two masked men early on Jan. 29 as he walked to his Chicago apartment from a Subway restaurant. Smollett alleged the men shouted racial and anti-gay slurs at him.Last week, Chicago police questioned two Nigerian brothers in the reported attack but released them Friday without charges. Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said the pair had given officers information that had “shifted the trajectory of the investigation.” Local reports have cited sources saying the attack was a hoax, though the Chicago Police Department has not confirmed that.CORY BOOKER ‘WITHHOLDING’ JUDGMENT ON SMOLLETT CASE AFTER CALLING IT ‘ATTEMPTED MODERN-DAY LYNCHING'”While we are not in a position to confirm, deny or comment on the validity of what’s been unofficially released, there are some developments in this investigation and detectives have some follow-ups to complete which include speaking to the individual who reported the incident, ” Guglielmi said Sunday.Smollett received an outpouring of support from politicians and celebs when he first went public about the alleged attack in January. Smollett reportedly has claimed at least one of the attackers said to him, “this is MAGA country,” in reference to President Trump’s campaign slogan.While some lawmakers are now backtracking, others have stayed mum as the narrative rapidly shifts. Donald Trump Jr., the president’s son, called out Democrats on Twitter who were outspoken initially about the case, but haven’t said anything since the new developments.“I’m wondering if @KamalaHarris still wants #JusticeForJussie? Will she be as vocal about it now or has she moved on?” Trump Jr. tweeted.Last month, Sen. Harris, like Booker, referred to the incident as “an attempted modern day lynching.”“No one should have to fear for their life because of their sexuality or color of their skin,” the 2020 presidential candidate said. “We must confront this hate.”ROBIN ROBERTS SAYS COPS FELT JUSSIE SMOLLETT WAS CREDIBLE AT TIME OF INTERVIEWOthers, like New York Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, said last month, “There is no such thing as ‘racially charged.’ This attack was not ‘possibly’ homophobic. It was a racist and homophobic attack. If you don’t like what is happening to our country, then work to change it. It is no one’s job to water down or sugar-coat the rise of hate crimes.”John Dickerson, the co-anchor of CBS This Morning, responded to Ocasio-Cortez on Sunday and asked, “Is there an update on this?”Meanwhile, Smollett’s attorneys, Todd S. Pugh and Victor P. Henderson, are vehemently denying that the attack was a hoax.”As a victim of a hate crime who has cooperated with the police investigation, Jussie Smollett is angered and devastated by recent reports that the perpetrators are individuals he is familiar with,” the lawyers said in a weekend statement. “He has now been further victimized by claims attributed to these alleged perpetrators that Jussie played a role in his own attack. Nothing is further from the truth and anyone claiming otherwise is lying.”Fox News’ Mike Tobin and Samuel Chamberlain contributed to this report.
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Sailor in iconic V-J Day Times Square kiss photo dies at 95

Sailor in iconic V-J Day Times Square kiss photo dies at 95


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — The ecstatic sailor shown kissing a woman in Times Square celebrating the end of World War II died Sunday. George Mendonsa was 95.
Mendonsa fell and had a seizure at the assisted living facility in Middletown, Rhode Island, where he lived with his wife of 70 years, his daughter, Sharon Molleur, told The Providence Journal.
Mendonsa was shown kissing Greta Zimmer Friedman, a dental assistant in a nurse’s uniform, on Aug. 14, 1945. Known as V-J Day, it was the day Japan surrendered to the United States. People spilled into the New York City streets to celebrate the news.
Mendonsa planted a kiss on Friedman, whom he had never met.
The photo by Alfred Eisenstaedt was first published in Life magazine and became one of the most famous photographs of the 20th century. It’s called “V-J Day in Times Square,” but is known to most as “The Kiss.”
Several people later claimed to be the kissing couple. It was years before Mendonsa and Friedman were confirmed to be the couple.
Mendonsa served on a destroyer during the war and was on leave when the end of the war was announced. He has said Friedman reminded him of nurses on a hospital ship that he saw care for wounded sailors.
Mendonsa died two days before his 96th birthday. The family has not yet made funeral arrangements.
Friedman fled Austria during the war as a 15-year-old girl. She died in 2016 at the age of 92 at a hospital in Richmond, Virginia, from complications of old age.

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French judge refuses to block Catholic sex scandal movie

French judge refuses to block Catholic sex scandal movie


PARIS (AP) — A French judge refused Monday to block the release this week in French cinemas of a movie based on a Catholic sex scandal.
French director Francois Ozon’s film “Grace a Dieu” (“By the Grace of God”) won the Berlin Film Festival’s jury grand prize on Saturday. The movie, which opens Wednesday, portrays French priest Bernard Preynat, who has been accused of molesting dozens of boys during the 1980s and ’90s.
Preynat’s lawyers said the picture depicted allegations against their client as facts and should have been blocked because it does not respect the presumption of innocence. Preynat has been handed preliminary charges of sexual assaults on minors and prosecutors are determining whether he will be brought to trial.
Preynat has confessed to abusing Boy Scouts and his victims say church hierarchy covered up for him for years, allowing him to work with children right up until his 2015 retirement.
His lawyer, Emmanuel Mercinier, told The Associated Press the judge ruled Monday that messages in the film noting that people are presumed innocent until proven guilty were enough to guarantee Preynat’s rights.
“I’m bitterly ruing this decision. To depict a man as guilty for two hours, while he has not been convicted, infringes the presumption of innocence. That can’t obviously be erased by writing the opposite for two seconds,” Mercinier said.
Preynat could go on trial in for sexual violence against multiple children. So far, 13 victims are involved in that case, but he is accused of having abused as many as 70 children. Preynat hasn’t publicly spoken about the allegations but he has written letters to some families confessing to abuse.
The victims have accused Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, who became archbishop of Lyon in 2002, of having allowed Preynat to continue serving as a priest and having contact with children despite years of rumors about his actions.
Barbarin, 68, went on trial last month and testified that he was unjustly accused. Because of lack of proof, or the statute of limitations that has had expired on charges of failing to help a person in danger, even the prosecutor has argued against convicting him and other church officials, saying there were no grounds to prove legal wrongdoing. A verdict is expected on March 7.
Ozon’s movie title comes from a press conference in Lourdes in 2016 when Barbarin, asked about the abuses by Preynat, said “most of the facts, by the grace of God, fell outside the statute of limitations.”

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China accuses US of trying to block its tech development

China accuses US of trying to block its tech development


BEIJING (AP) — China’s government on Monday accused the United States of trying to block its industrial development by alleging that Chinese mobile network gear poses a cybersecurity threat to countries rolling out new internet systems.
And in a potential blow to the U.S. claims, British media reported that the country’s intelligence agencies have found it’s possible to limit the security risks of using Chinese equipment in the so-called 5G networks.
The U.S. argues that Beijing might use Chinese tech companies to gather intelligence about foreign countries. The Trump administration has been putting pressure on allies to shun networks supplied by Huawei Technologies, threatening the company’s access to markets for next-generation wireless gear.
The company, the biggest global maker of switching gear for phone and internet companies, denies accusations it facilitates Chinese spying and said it would reject any government demands to disclose confidential information about foreign customers.
The U.S. government is trying to “fabricate an excuse for suppressing the legitimate development” of Chinese enterprises, said the spokesman for the Chinese foreign ministry, Geng Shuang. He accused the United States of using “political means” to interfere in economic activity, “which is hypocritical, immoral and unfair bullying.”
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, speaking this weekend in Germany, urged European allies to take seriously “the threat” he said was posed by Huawei as they look for partners to build the new 5G mobile networks.
The 5G technology is meant to vastly expand the reach of networks to support internet-linked medical equipment, factory machines, self-driving cars and other devices. That makes it more politically sensitive and raises the potential cost of security failures.
Pence said Huawei and other Chinese telecom equipment makers provide Beijing with “access to any data that touches their network or equipment.” He appealed to European governments to “reject any enterprise that would compromise the integrity of our communications technology or our national security systems.”
In what could amount to a turning point for the U.S. effort to isolate Huawei internationally, Britain’s National Cyber Security Centre has found that the risk of using its networks is manageable, according to the Financial Times and several other British media outlets.
The reports cited anonymous sources as saying that there are ways to limit cybersecurity risks, and that the U.K.’s decision would carry weight with European allies who are also evaluating the safety of their networks.
The British government is reportedly due to finish a review of its policies on the safety of 5G in March or April. The office of British Prime Minister Theresa May said Monday in response to the media reports that “no decisions have been taken.”
European officials, including a vice president of the European Union, have expressed concern about Chinese regulations issued last year that require companies to cooperate with intelligence agencies. No country in Europe, however, has issued a blanket veto on using Huawei technology in the way the U.S. has urged.
The U.S. Justice Department last month unsealed charges against Huawei, its chief financial officer — who had been arrested in Canada — and several of the companies’ subsidiaries, alleging not only violation of trade sanctions but also the theft of trade secrets.
The United States has not, however, released evidence to support its accusations that Huawei and other Chinese tech companies allow the Chinese government to spy through their systems. That has prompted some industry analysts to suggest Washington is trying to use security concerns to handicap Chinese competitors.
“China has not and will not require companies or individuals to collect or provide foreign countries’ information for the Chinese government by installing backdoors or other actions that violate local laws,” said Geng.
Britain’s National Cyber Security Centre admitted last summer that it had concerns about the engineering and security of Huawei’s networks. While not commenting Monday on the media reports, it added: “We have set out the improvements we expect the company to make.”

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