Diet Coke ‘increases your risk of dying young from heart disease and cancer’

Sugar-laden fizzy drinks also increase the risk of early death from any cause by a fifth – and are also fuelling a rise in cancer cases, Harvard experts said.

While swapping to Diet Coke – or diet versions in general – is better, drink more than four a day and you’re still at risk of dying young.

In fact, previous studies have shown that the six common artificial sweeteners – aspartame, sucralose, saccharin, neotame, advantame and acesulfame potassium-k – have all been found to be toxic to gut bacteria.

They’ve been associated with weight gain, slashing the chances of getting pregnant during IVF, tripling the risk of a deadly stroke and dementia, and raising the risk of developing diabetes.

Stick to water

Experts said the best option is to ditch fizzy drinks altogether and stick to water instead.

Dr Vasanti Malik, who led the study at Harvard Uni in the US, said: “Our results provide further support to limit intake of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) and to replace them with other drinks, preferably water, to improve overall health and longevity.

“Drinking water in place of sugary drinks is a healthy choice that could contribute to longevity.

“Diet soda may be used to help frequent consumers of sugary drinks cut back their consumption, but water is the best and healthiest choice.”

Sugar-sweetened beverages include carbonated and non-carbonated soft drinks, fruit drinks, energy drinks and sports drinks.

Two sugary cans a day increases risk by fifth

In the new study, published in Circulation, looked at data from 80,647 women and 37,716 men who had answered questionnaires about lifestyle factors every two years.

They found that the more sugar-sweetened drinks a person drank, the more his or her risk of early death from any cause increased.

Drinking two a day increased that risk by 14 per cent, while those guzzling more than two a day had a 21 per cent increased risk of early death.

They also had a 31 per cent higher chance of dying young from heart disease.

Each additional drink consumed per day increased the risk by another 10 per cent.

Researchers also found a link between sugary drink consumption and an early death risk from cancer.

FOLLOW THE LINK FOR THE FULL REPORT – JR

https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/8660216/drinking-coke-diet-coke-increases-risk-dying-young/

Conservatives face a tough fight as Big Tech’s censorship expands

As Big Tech’s censorship of conservatives becomes ever more flagrant and overt, the old arguments about protecting the sanctity of the modern public square are now invalid. Our right to freely engage in public discourse through speech is under sustained attack, necessitating a vigorous defense against the major social media and internet platforms.

From “shadowbans” on Facebook and Twitter, to demonetization of YouTube videos, to pulled ads for Republican candidates at the critical junctures of election campaigns, the list of violations against the online practices and speech of conservatives is long.

I certainly had my suspicions confirmed when Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, “accidentally” censored a post I made regarding the Jussie Smollett hoax, which consequently led to me hearing from hundreds of my followers about how they’ve been having problems seeing, liking or being able to interact with my posts. Many of them even claimed that they’ve had to repeatedly refollow me, as Instagram keeps unfollowing me on their accounts.

While nothing about Big Tech’s censorship of conservatives truly surprises me anymore, it’s still chilling to see the proof for yourself. If it can happen to me, the son of the president, with millions of followers on social media, just think about how bad it must be for conservatives with smaller followings and those who don’t have the soapbox or media reach to push back when they’re being targeted?

Thanks to a brave Facebook whistleblower who approached James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas, we now know that Mark Zuckerberg’s social media giant developed algorithms to “deboost” certain content, limiting its distribution and appearance in news feeds. As you probably guessed, this stealth censorship was specifically aimed at conservatives.

Facebook appears to have deliberately tailored its algorithm to recognize the syntax and style popular among conservatives in order to “deboost” that content. “Mainstream media,” “SJW” (Social Justice Warrior) and “red pill” — all terms that conservatives often use to express themselves — were listed as red flags, according to the former Facebook insider.

Facebook engineers even cited BlazeTV host Lauren Chen’s video criticizing the social justice movement as an example of the kind of “red pills” that users just aren’t allowed to drop anymore. Mainstream conservative content was strangled in real time, yet fringe leftists such as the Young Turks enjoy free rein on the social media platform.

Despite the occasional brave gesture, politicians have been far too sluggish in recognizing the extent of the problem. But the Republican Party and the conservative movement are becoming more vigilant against the suppression of our speech, as we saw at last weekend’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).

Silicon Valley lobbyists have splashed millions of dollars all over the Washington swamp to play on conservatives’ innate faith in the free-market system and respect for private property. Even as Big Tech companies work to exclude us from the town square of the 21st century, they’ve been able to rely on misguided conservatives to carry water for them with irrelevant pedantry about whether the First Amendment applies in cases of social media censorship.

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) has been making a name for himself as a Republican prepared to stand up to Big Tech malfeasance since his time as Missouri’s attorney general. He delivered a tour de force interview with The Wall Street Journal’s Kimberly Strassel in front of the CPAC crowd, one that provided a clear-eyed assessment of the ongoing affront to the freedoms of conservative speech and expression.

Hawley demolished the absurd notion that “conservative principles” preclude taking action to ensure free debate online simply because Big Tech firms — the most powerful corporations in the world — are private companies.

Hawley pointed out that Big Tech companies already enjoy “sweetheart deals” under current regulations that make their malfeasance a matter of public concern. Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, for instance, allows them to avoid liability for the content that users post to their platforms. To address this problem, Hawley proposed adding a viewpoint neutrality requirement for platforms that benefit from Section 230’s protections, which were originally enacted to protect the internet as “a forum for a true diversity of political discourse.”

“Google and Facebook should not be a law unto themselves,” Hawley declared. “They should not be able to discriminate against conservatives. They should not be able to tell us we need to sit down and shut up!”

It’s high time other conservative politicians started heeding Hawley’s warnings, because the logical endpoint of Big Tech’s free rein is far more troubling than conservative meme warriors losing their Twitter accounts. As we’re already starting to see, what starts with social media censorship can quickly lead to banishment from such fundamental services as transportation, online payments and banking.

Left unchecked, Big Tech and liberal activists could construct a private “social credit” system — not unlike what the communists have nightmarishly implemented in China — that excludes outspoken conservatives from wide swaths of American life simply because their political views differ from those of tech executives.

FOLLOW THE LINK FOR THE FULL REPORT – JR

https://thehill.com/opinion/technology/434407-conservatives-face-a-tough-fight-as-big-techs-censorship-expands

Gun owners in New Zealand brace for big changes to their right to carry

Some rushed to their trusted online dealers and stores to stock up on semiautomatic assault rifles. Others unlocked their secure cabinets, picked up their firearms and turned them into police stations, no questions asked.

The estimated quarter of a million gun owners across this largely quiet, peaceful South Pacific country, many of them dedicated hunters, are bracing for what are likely to be significant reforms to New Zealand’s firearm laws. Leaders have hinted the changes will impact the proliferation and availability of semiautomatic weapons in particular.

The changes, agreed to in principle by the country’s coalition government Monday – just 72 hours after the deadliest act of gun violence in New Zealand history – put the country in line with others that have taken swift action following tragedy within their borders. Details of the changes will be announced within the week, and must be passed by parliament.

A gunman who pledged allegiance to white nationalist causes killed 50 people at two mosques in Christchurch on Friday, and has been remanded on one charge of murder with more to follow. He has been identified by police as 28-year old Australian Brenton Tarrant who in one day killed more than all the people murdered across New Zealand in 2017.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern labeled the massacre “the worst act of terrorism on our shores” and immediately promised swift action, calling for gun laws to be changed. Her declarations have been celebrated by many in New Zealand, some of whom had no idea that military-style semiautomatic weapons were so prolific in a country famously known for its extremely low murder rate.

On Monday, the e-commerce website Trade Me, similar to eBay, halted the sale of semiautomatic weapons on its platform.

“We’ve had a lot of contact from Kiwis over the weekend about this issue, and many felt we should stop the sale of these items in the wake of this attack,” Trade Me said in a statement. “We’ve listened to these sentiments and we’ve put this ban in place while we await clear direction from the government.”

John Hart, a gun owner, said on Twitter he had given up his AR-15 rifle and ammunition because his “convenience doesn’t outweigh the risk of misuse.”

Still, some gun dealers have also bristled at the idea that they or the weapons they sell are culpable in Friday’s events, and have resented being put on the spot.

“We have good laws, we’ve always had good laws,” said Wayne Chapman, owner of The Gunshop in Upper Hutt, a city northeast of Wellington. His store, he said, “has not seen a surge or had any problems.”

David Tipple, managing director of Gun City, one of the largest firearms retailers in New Zealand, called a news conference Monday to announce that Tarrant had bought four guns from Gun City’s online store and had them delivered through mail.

Gun City has been the focus of criticism and has seen small protests outside their stores in recent days. Many on social media have said a billboard outside the store’s Christchurch outlet, which shows a man teaching two young children how to shoot, is in poor taste considering the country is in a state of mourning over the killings.

Tarrant, he said, had obtained his gun license in November 2017 and purchased his first firearm about a month later. He bought his last firearm from Gun City in March 2018, and had also purchased ammunition Tipple has shared this information with authorities.

But in a testy exchange with reporters, he pushed back on the charge that the guns he sold Tarrant were the exact ones used in his attacks. Tipple said the guns were “A-category” guns, which can be bought with the most basic weapons license.

Assault rifles are A-category guns as long as they have a magazine that holds only seven rounds. The weapons seen in a video of the massacre that Tarrant live-streamed had much larger magazines.

“I totally agree there should be a gun debate, but today is not the day,” said Tipple. “We are not a country of emotional responses, we are a country with laws [and] what we are doing is legal.”

New Zealand gun owners point out that it is exactly the loophole Tipple brought up – purchasing larger magazines – that enabled Tarrant’s shooting spree. One gun owner who owned several AR-15s, but has since given them up, said they only cost $1,200 in New Zealand, but would cost $25,000 or more in Australia on the black market, because they are effectively banned there.

“You can get an AR-15 from anywhere really, and while the [30-round magazine] is not allowed legally, they will fit and they will work,” said Pete Breidahl, a gun owner and former competition shooter who recently gave up his firearms license. “How, in 2019, can this still be going on? How has this loophole not been fixed?”

New Zealand, like the United States, also has no requirement for gun owners to register their weapons, unlike many countries in the world.

The tightened gun laws will put New Zealand in line with several other countries who have changed legislation in the wake of tragedy. The Port Arthur massacre in Australia in 1996 shook the continent, changed gun legislation the Pacific nation, strictly restricting self-loading rifles and other weapons.

A buyback program destroyed thousands of guns and high-capacity magazines. A shooting at a primary school in Dunblane, Scotland, that same year also prompted a campaign for tighter restrictions on firearms, which led to a virtual ban on civilian ownership of handguns.

Still, New Zealand has made the decision in almost record time. In Australia, it took 12 days after the mass shooting for the government to finalize changes to legislation. It took almost two years for the ban on handguns to become law in the United Kingdom in 1998. Ardern has promised details of changes within 10 days of the attack.

Experts argue that New Zealand has indeed been on the cusp of change in gun legislation for years, but never had political unity around the issue. After the country’s last mass shooting in 1990, where 13 people including local police were killed in the seaside town of Aramoana, changes were made to firearm legislation including some restrictions on semiautomatic firearms and the requirement for 10-year licenses.

Four inquiries have been undertaken by government in recent years. A 1997 review recommended that all guns should be registered and that the government institute a full buyback of all military-style assault weapons, similar to what was done in Australia.

These suggestions, said Philip Alpers, an adjunct associate professor at the University of Sydney and founding director of GunPolicy.org, “are all now back on the table.”

The government’s decision, he said, has been in part motivated by the frequency of mass shootings in the United States, which has among the most lax gun laws in the world.

“There is a baseline determination not to go down the American road,” he said.

– – –

The Washington Post’s Emanuel Stoakes in Christchurch, New Zealand, contributed to this report.

FOLLOW THE LINK FOR THE FULL REPORT – JR

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/gun-owners-in-new-zealand-brace-for-big-changes-to-their-right-to-carry/2019/03/18/6460f8e0-48ec-11e9-8cfc-2c5d0999c21e_story.html

France to ban ‘yellow vest’ protests

France’s prime minister said Paris’s police chief had been sacked and that the government would shut down “yellow vest” protests if violent groups were identified among the ranks of “yellow vest” protesters.

President Emmanuel Macron and his government have been forced back on the defensive after rioters ransacked luxury boutiques and torched cafes and a bank on Saturday in the latest flare-up of violence against Macron’s pro-business reforms.

“From next Saturday, we will ban ‘yellow vest’ protests in neighborhoods that have been the worst hit as soon as we see sign of the presence of radical groups and their intent to cause damage,” Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said in a televised speech.

Some 10,000 people participated in Saturday’s protests in the capital, according to police estimates, including a hard-core of about 1,500 troublemakers who Philippe said were bent on “looting, destroying property and causing injury.”

“These were criminal acts. The government’s response must be strong,” Philippe sad.

A new Paris police chief would be appointed on Wednesday, he said, adding that police officers on the ground would be given more decision-making autonomy and handed extra equipment including drones.

FOLLOW THE LINK FOR THE FULL REPORT – JR

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-france-protests/france-to-ban-yellow-vest-protests-if-violent-groups-take-part-pm-idUSKCN1QZ1YU

Iran Building Two New Nuclear Plants

Iranian leaders announced on Monday the construction of two new nuclear plants, and it remains unclear if the Trump administration views this as crossing a red line since its abandonment of the landmark nuclear deal, which included provisions permitting Iran to work on heavy water nuclear reactors that could provide a plutonium-based pathway to a bomb.

On the same day it announced these new nuclear reactors, which are being built in conjunction with Russia, Iran announced it would be filing papers accusing the United States of “crimes against humanity.”

The new nuclear moves are rattling congressional Iran hawks, who have been critical of a series of waivers issued by the Trump administration permitting Iran to continue engaging in nuclear research, including at an underground site that once housed the regime’s nuclear weapons program.

It remains unclear if the Trump administration will move to block this activity and sanction any international company that aids Iran in the construction of the new nuclear reactors.

“If the State Department is even considering waivers for Iran to expand its nuclear program, if those are even a little bit in play, you have to ask yourself what else is already a done deal and why that isn’t public yet,” one veteran Republican official, reflecting the views of many Iran hawks, told the Washington Free Beacon.

“You also have to ask yourself if the State Department knows that Republicans won the last presidential election or whether we’re all just going to pretend it’s Obama’s third term and the Iran deal is still in place,” the source said.

Ali Salehi, the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, announced on Monday that construction of the two new nuclear plants have begun in the southern Iranian city of Bushehr.

“Everything is moving ahead in an excellent manner,” Salehi was quoted as saying in the country’s state-controlled press. “I was in Bushehr two or three days ago and the Bushehr 2 and Bushehr 3 power plants are being constructed.”

The State Department would not respond to questions about its policy on Iran’s nuclear construction.

Meanwhile, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani announced on Monday that Iran had begun filing paperwork accusing the United States of “crimes against humanity” for its reimposition of harsh sanctions on Tehran.

“The presidential office’s legal department, the justice minister, and foreign minister are required to compile a bill of complaint on crime against humanity against the Americans and those who were involved in sanctions and implementation of sanctions so that we can take it to a competent court for prosecution,” Rouhani was quoted as saying.

“The world should know that the U.S. move [sanctions] is not aimed at the Iranian government and nuclear technology but it is against the Iranian people’s health, environment, ordinary life, foodstuff and medicine,” Rouhani said.

However, it is the nuclear reactors that are eliciting outrage within the Trump administration and on Capitol Hill.

The news comes amid an ongoing inter-agency battle over how far to go in sanctioning Iran and its illicit activities. Some elements of the Trump administration are angling to keep issuing waivers to permit Iran’s nuclear work, as well as its production of lucrative crude oil.

The debate has been raging inside the administration for months, with some hardline officials expressing frustration at some colleagues for seeking to preserve the nuclear deal and keep it on life support, despite President Donald Trump’s vocal commitment to a policy he describes as “maximum pressure.”

Some administration officials in the State Department have made clear that these various waivers exempting countries from sanctions are necessary to preserve the framework of the Iran nuclear deal.

“Even as we have been systematically re-imposing sanctions related to Iran in pursuit of the better, ‘win-win’ deal of which I speak, we have carefully refrained from restoring sanctions in such a way as to obstruct international cooperation with Iran on a number of projects contemplated under the JCPOA that provide Iran opportunities to benefit from nuclear technology in ways not raising proliferation risks,” Chris Ford, assistant secretary in the State Department’s Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation, said in December in comments that rankled some Iran hawks.

“To accomplish this, the secretary of state waived the imposition of certain sanctions to the extent necessary to enable specified nonproliferation activities involving Iran,” Ford explained.

FOLLOW THE LINK FOR THE FULL REPORT – JR

https://freebeacon.com/national-security/iran-building-two-new-nuclear-plants/

Christchurch mosques shooting: 49 killed in New Zealand attacks

At least 49 people have been killed and 20 seriously injured after mass shootings at two mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch Friday, in a carefully planned and unprecedented attack that has shocked the usually peaceful nation.
New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, called the incident a terrorist attack in a Friday press conference, saying the suspects held “extremist views” that have no place in New Zealand or the world.

FOLLOW THE LINK FOR THE FULL REPORT – JR

https://www.cnn.com/2019/03/14/asia/christchurch-mosque-shooting-intl/index.html

LED streetlights could damage eyesight and disrupt sleep, warns Public Health England

New streetlights installed on British roads could harm people’s eyesight and disrupt their sleep, Public Health England (PHE) has warned.

Councils across the country hope replacing existing bulbs in streetlights with new light-emitting diodes (LEDs) will help save money and reduce emissions.

Authorities in London, Gloucestershire, Lancashire, Cheshire and Dundee, among others, have spent millions of pounds upgrading their lights.

But PHE warned the powerful new bulbs could interfere with people’s natural sleeping patterns, resulting in a feeling similar to “permanent jet lag”.

“Humans have a natural body clock that has an approximate 24-hour cycle. However, light is the main trigger to ensure that we stay entrained,” said John O’Hagan, head of the PHE’s Centre for Radiation, Chemical and Environmental Hazards.

FOLLOW THE LINK FOR THE FULL REPORT – JR

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/ed-streetlight-bright-sleep-damage-eyesight-public-health-england-a8285981.html

House Votes, 420-to-0, to Demand Public Release of Mueller Report

House Republicans joined Democrats on Thursday to demand that the Justice Department publicly release the full findings of the special counsel’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and the possible involvement of President Trump’s campaign.

Though the resolution is nonbinding, Democrats who put it on the House floor are trying to build public pressure on Attorney General William P. Barr before the investigation’s anticipated conclusion.

Far from standing in the way, Republicans joined Democrats en masse. On the 420-to-0 vote, four Republicans voted present.

“This report must see the light of day, must be available to the American public for a catharsis that will allow us to start with the facts, understand what happened and begin to rebuild the faith of the American people,” said Representative Jim Himes, Democrat of Connecticut and a senior member of the Intelligence Committee, which has undertaken its own Russia investigation.

Republicans debating it on the House floor called the resolution a waste of time and said they trusted Mr. Barr. But they were unwilling to stand in its way.

“I am especially concerned about what would happen if the report was not made available to Congress,” Representative Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the second-ranking Republican, said in a statement. “Since the investigation began, Democrats have used it as an excuse to fund-raise, fear-monger and peddle conspiracy theories about collusion with the Russian government. Let’s bring this chapter to a close.”

The four “present” votes came from two libertarians who routinely oppose such resolutions, Representatives Justin Amash of Michigan and Thomas Massie of Kentucky, and two ardent Trump loyalists, Representatives Matt Gaetz of Florida and Paul Gosar of Arizona.Mr. Gaetz said afterward that while he supported making the report public, he objected to other language in the resolution praising the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, whose team he has repeatedly attacked as partisan.

Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, tried to move the resolution through the Senate later on Thursday by unanimous consent, but he was blocked by Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina.

The four “present” votes came from two libertarians who routinely oppose such resolutions, Representatives Justin Amash of Michigan and Thomas Massie of Kentucky, and two ardent Trump loyalists, Representatives Matt Gaetz of Florida and Paul Gosar of Arizona.Mr. Gaetz said afterward that while he supported making the report public, he objected to other language in the resolution praising the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, whose team he has repeatedly attacked as partisan.

Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, tried to move the resolution through the Senate later on Thursday by unanimous consent, but he was blocked by Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina.

Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, tried to move the resolution through the Senate later on Thursday by unanimous consent, but he was blocked by Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina.

The four “present” votes came from two libertarians who routinely oppose such resolutions, Representatives Justin Amash of Michigan and Thomas Massie of Kentucky, and two ardent Trump loyalists, Representatives Matt Gaetz of Florida and Paul Gosar of Arizona.Mr. Gaetz said afterward that while he supported making the report public, he objected to other language in the resolution praising the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, whose team he has repeatedly attacked as partisan.

Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, tried to move the resolution through the Senate later on Thursday by unanimous consent, but he was blocked by Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina.

Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, tried to move the resolution through the Senate later on Thursday by unanimous consent, but he was blocked by Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina.

Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, tried to move the resolution through the Senate later on Thursday by unanimous consent, but he was blocked by Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina.

Though Mr. Graham, the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman, said he supported transparency, he asked to amend the resolution to include the appointment of a new special counsel to investigate the F.B.I.’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email case and its surveillance of a former Trump adviser. Mr. Schumer rejected the request as political and beside the point, and the resolution failed.

The Justice Department has given signals in recent weeks that after 22 months, Mr. Mueller is nearing completion of his work. Peter Carr, a spokesman for Mr. Mueller, offered what many viewed as fresh evidence of an imminent conclusion on Thursday when he confirmed that one of the special counsel’s top prosecutors, Andrew Weissmann, will be departing the special counsel’s office “in the near future.”

The resolution — sponsored by Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, the Judiciary Committee chairman, and a handful of other Democratic committee leaders — “calls for the public release of any report Special Counsel Mueller provides to the attorney general, except to the extent the public disclosure of any portion thereof is expressly prohibited by law.”

Under the regulation that governs special counsels, Mr. Mueller is expected to produce a confidential report on his prosecution decisions to Mr. Barr, who will then review it and produce his own report to Congress. Thus far, Mr. Barr has demurred on just what he will release to Congress and the public, reserving the right to keep some matters secret.Democrats seized on Mr. Barr’s resistance to making specific promises about the Mueller findings during his confirmation process in the Senate. They have not let the point rest in the weeks since, with prominent Democratic chairmen and other leaders laying out their case for why all of the special counsel’s findings — including underlying evidence — ought to be shared with Congress for review.House Democrats are prepared to use subpoena power and other tools at their disposal to force the Justice Department to turn over anything Mr. Barr chooses to withhold.They argue that the Justice Department set a new precedent in the last two years when it granted Republicans, who then controlled the House, extraordinary access to hundreds of thousands of pages of sensitive investigative material related to the F.B.I.’s investigation of Mrs. Clinton’s use of a private server and the Russia investigation itself.

Under the regulation that governs special counsels, Mr. Mueller is expected to produce a confidential report on his prosecution decisions to Mr. Barr, who will then review it and produce his own report to Congress. Thus far, Mr. Barr has demurred on just what he will release to Congress and the public, reserving the right to keep some matters secret.Democrats seized on Mr. Barr’s resistance to making specific promises about the Mueller findings during his confirmation process in the Senate. They have not let the point rest in the weeks since, with prominent Democratic chairmen and other leaders laying out their case for why all of the special counsel’s findings — including underlying evidence — ought to be shared with Congress for review.House Democrats are prepared to use subpoena power and other tools at their disposal to force the Justice Department to turn over anything Mr. Barr chooses to withhold.They argue that the Justice Department set a new precedent in the last two years when it granted Republicans, who then controlled the House, extraordinary access to hundreds of thousands of pages of sensitive investigative material related to the F.B.I.’s investigation of Mrs. Clinton’s use of a private server and the Russia investigation itself.
Under the regulation that governs special counsels, Mr. Mueller is expected to produce a confidential report on his prosecution decisions to Mr. Barr, who will then review it and produce his own report to Congress. Thus far, Mr. Barr has demurred on just what he will release to Congress and the public, reserving the right to keep some matters secret.Democrats seized on Mr. Barr’s resistance to making specific promises about the Mueller findings during his confirmation process in the Senate. They have not let the point rest in the weeks since, with prominent Democratic chairmen and other leaders laying out their case for why all of the special counsel’s findings — including underlying evidence — ought to be shared with Congress for review.House Democrats are prepared to use subpoena power and other tools at their disposal to force the Justice Department to turn over anything Mr. Barr chooses to withhold.They argue that the Justice Department set a new precedent in the last two years when it granted Republicans, who then controlled the House, extraordinary access to hundreds of thousands of pages of sensitive investigative material related to the F.B.I.’s investigation of Mrs. Clinton’s use of a private server and the Russia investigation itself.

Under the regulation that governs special counsels, Mr. Mueller is expected to produce a confidential report on his prosecution decisions to Mr. Barr, who will then review it and produce his own report to Congress. Thus far, Mr. Barr has demurred on just what he will release to Congress and the public, reserving the right to keep some matters secret.Democrats seized on Mr. Barr’s resistance to making specific promises about the Mueller findings during his confirmation process in the Senate. They have not let the point rest in the weeks since, with prominent Democratic chairmen and other leaders laying out their case for why all of the special counsel’s findings — including underlying evidence — ought to be shared with Congress for review.House Democrats are prepared to use subpoena power and other tools at their disposal to force the Justice Department to turn over anything Mr. Barr chooses to withhold.They argue that the Justice Department set a new precedent in the last two years when it granted Republicans, who then controlled the House, extraordinary access to hundreds of thousands of pages of sensitive investigative material related to the F.B.I.’s investigation of Mrs. Clinton’s use of a private server and the Russia investigation itself.
Under the regulation that governs special counsels, Mr. Mueller is expected to produce a confidential report on his prosecution decisions to Mr. Barr, who will then review it and produce his own report to Congress. Thus far, Mr. Barr has demurred on just what he will release to Congress and the public, reserving the right to keep some matters secret.Democrats seized on Mr. Barr’s resistance to making specific promises about the Mueller findings during his confirmation process in the Senate. They have not let the point rest in the weeks since, with prominent Democratic chairmen and other leaders laying out their case for why all of the special counsel’s findings — including underlying evidence — ought to be shared with Congress for review.House Democrats are prepared to use subpoena power and other tools at their disposal to force the Justice Department to turn over anything Mr. Barr chooses to withhold.They argue that the Justice Department set a new precedent in the last two years when it granted Republicans, who then controlled the House, extraordinary access to hundreds of thousands of pages of sensitive investigative material related to the F.B.I.’s investigation of Mrs. Clinton’s use of a private server and the Russia investigation itself.
Under the regulation that governs special counsels, Mr. Mueller is expected to produce a confidential report on his prosecution decisions to Mr. Barr, who will then review it and produce his own report to Congress. Thus far, Mr. Barr has demurred on just what he will release to Congress and the public, reserving the right to keep some matters secret.Democrats seized on Mr. Barr’s resistance to making specific promises about the Mueller findings during his confirmation process in the Senate. They have not let the point rest in the weeks since, with prominent Democratic chairmen and other leaders laying out their case for why all of the special counsel’s findings — including underlying evidence — ought to be shared with Congress for review.House Democrats are prepared to use subpoena power and other tools at their disposal to force the Justice Department to turn over anything Mr. Barr chooses to withhold.They argue that the Justice Department set a new precedent in the last two years when it granted Republicans, who then controlled the House, extraordinary access to hundreds of thousands of pages of sensitive investigative material related to the F.B.I.’s investigation of Mrs. Clinton’s use of a private server and the Russia investigation itself.
Under the regulation that governs special counsels, Mr. Mueller is expected to produce a confidential report on his prosecution decisions to Mr. Barr, who will then review it and produce his own report to Congress. Thus far, Mr. Barr has demurred on just what he will release to Congress and the public, reserving the right to keep some matters secret.Democrats seized on Mr. Barr’s resistance to making specific promises about the Mueller findings during his confirmation process in the Senate. They have not let the point rest in the weeks since, with prominent Democratic chairmen and other leaders laying out their case for why all of the special counsel’s findings — including underlying evidence — ought to be shared with Congress for review.House Democrats are prepared to use subpoena power and other tools at their disposal to force the Justice Department to turn over anything Mr. Barr chooses to withhold.They argue that the Justice Department set a new precedent in the last two years when it granted Republicans, who then controlled the House, extraordinary access to hundreds of thousands of pages of sensitive investigative material related to the F.B.I.’s investigation of Mrs. Clinton’s use of a private server and the Russia investigation itself.

“Last year, I directly warned department leadership that in providing these materials to Congress, they were establishing a precedent, and one they would have to live with in the future,” said Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the chairman of the Intelligence Committee.

Democrats also fear that the Justice Department could combine its policies against indicting a sitting president and against disclosing negative information on an investigative target who was not indicted to justify keeping secret all the information collected about Mr. Trump.

“To maintain that a sitting president cannot be indicted, and then to withhold evidence of wrongdoing from Congress because the president cannot be charged, is to convert D.O.J. policy into the means for a cover-up,” Mr. Nadler said during debate over the resolution on Thursday.

Though they voted for the resolution, many Republicans expressed skepticism about the wisdom and likely success of Democrats’ quest. Representative Doug Collins of Georgia, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, told reporters last week that he anticipated hurdles to public disclosure in the form of classified information, information obtained through a secret grand jury process and the need to insulate continuing prosecutions stemming from the investigation.

“Those are also going to be things that we are going to have to litigate,” Mr. Collins said.

FOLLOW THE LINK FOR THE FULL REPORT – JR

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/14/us/politics/mueller-report-public.html

Riots on Temple Mount, Palestinians throw explosive device at police

The Jerusalem Police closed all entrances to the Temple Mount on Tuesday after Palestinians reportedly threw a Molotov cocktail at a police outpost on the compound.

Dozens of policemen entered the compound after the incident..

The policemen ordered all worshipers to leave the compound. Eyewitnesses said scuffles broke out between the police and scores of Palestinians.

The incident took place a day after Interior Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan vowed that there will be “no second mosque on the Temple Mount” and said that, “God willing” Jews will be able to pray there freely “in the future.”

The office of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the events and warned of an escalation as a result of these clashes, Ynet reported.

Abbas’s office further said he is engaged in “intensive discussions” with Jordan and other parties to prevent further escalations.

FOLLOW THE LINK FOR THE FULL REPORT – JR

https://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Riots-on-Temple-Mount-Palestinians-throw-explosive-device-at-police-583195

Facial recognition’s ‘dirty little secret’: Millions of online photos scraped without consent

Facial recognition can log you into your iPhone, track criminals through crowds and identify loyal customers in stores.

The technology — which is imperfect but improving rapidly — is based on algorithms that learn how to recognize human faces and the hundreds of ways in which each one is unique.

To do this well, the algorithms must be fed hundreds of thousands of images of a diverse array of faces. Increasingly, those photos are coming from the internet, where they’re swept up by the millions without the knowledge of the people who posted them, categorized by age, gender, skin tone and dozens of other metrics, and shared with researchers at universities and companies.

As the algorithms get more advanced — meaning they are better able to identify women and people of color, a task they have historically struggled with — legal experts and civil rights advocates are sounding the alarm on researchers’ use of photos of ordinary people. These people’s faces are being used without their consent, in order to power technology that could eventually be used to surveil them.

That’s a particular concern for minorities who could be profiled and targeted, the experts and advocates say.

“This is the dirty little secret of AI training sets. Researchers often just grab whatever images are available in the wild,” said NYU School of Law professor Jason Schultz.

The latest company to enter this territory was IBM, which in January released a collection of nearly a million photos that were scraped from the photo hosting site Flickr and coded to describe the subjects’ appearance. IBM promoted the collection to researchers as a progressive step toward reducing bias in facial recognition.

But some of the photographers whose images were included in IBM’s dataset were surprised and disconcerted when NBC News told them that their photographs had been annotated with details including facial geometry and skin tone and may be used to develop facial recognition algorithms. (NBC News obtained IBM’s dataset from a source after the company declined to share it, saying it could be used only by academic or corporate research groups.)

“None of the people I photographed had any idea their images were being used in this way,” said Greg Peverill-Conti, a Boston-based public relations executive who has more than 700 photos in IBM’s collection, known as a “training dataset.”

“It seems a little sketchy that IBM can use these pictures without saying anything to anybody,” he said.

John Smith, who oversees AI research at IBM, said that the company was committed to “protecting the privacy of individuals” and “will work with anyone who requests a URL to be removed from the dataset.”

Despite IBM’s assurances that Flickr users can opt out of the database, NBC News discovered that it’s almost impossible to get photos removed. IBM requires photographers to email links to photos they want removed, but the company has not publicly shared the list of Flickr users and photos included in the dataset, so there is no easy way of finding out whose photos are included. IBM did not respond to questions about this process.

To see if your Flickr photos are part of the dataset, enter your username in a tool NBC News created based on the IBM dataset:

IBM says that its dataset is designed to help academic researchers make facial recognition technology fairer. The company is not alone in using publicly available photos on the internet in this way. Dozens of other research organizations have collected photos for training facial recognition systems, and many of the larger, more recent collections have been scraped from the web.

Some experts and activists argue that this is not just an infringement on the privacy of the millions of people whose images have been swept up — it also raises broader concerns about the improvement of facial recognition technology, and the fear that it will be used by law enforcement agencies to disproportionately target minorities.

“People gave their consent to sharing their photos in a different internet ecosystem,” said Meredith Whittaker, co-director of the AI Now Institute, which studies the social implications of artificial intelligence. “Now they are being unwillingly or unknowingly cast in the training of systems that could potentially be used in oppressive ways against their communities.”

HOW FACIAL RECOGNITION HAS EVOLVED

In the early days of building facial recognition tools, researchers paid people to come to their labs, sign consent forms and have their photo taken in different poses and lighting conditions. Because this was expensive and time consuming, early datasets were limited to a few hundred subjects.

With the rise of the web during the 2000s, researchers suddenly had access to millions of photos of people.

Amazon Rekognition enables users to track people through a video even when their faces are not visible.Amazon

“They would go into a search engine, type in the name of a famous person and download all of the images,” said P. Jonathon Phillips, who collects datasets for measuring the performance of face recognition algorithms for the National Institute of Standards and Technology. “At the start these tended to be famous people, celebrities, actors and sports people.”

As social media and user-generated content took over, photos of regular people were increasingly available. Researchers treated this as a free-for-all, scraping faces from YouTube videos, Facebook, Google Images, Wikipedia and mugshot databases.

FOLLOW THE LINK FOR THE FULL REPORT – JR

https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/internet/facial-recognition-s-dirty-little-secret-millions-online-photos-scraped-n981921