December 9, 2016

No Love for Trump in NYC Just Expense and Disruptions









They come even in his absence, leaning against the metal barriers that line Fifth Avenue, posing for selfies and group photos or just gazing up at the soaring black tower that is home to Donald J. Trump, the president-elect of the United States.

On a recent evening, with Mr. Trump out of town for a victory lap in Indiana and Ohio, a stream of tourists from around the world paused to take in the Midtown Manhattan building emblazoned with his name. A man hawking political buttons exclaimed, “It’s a feeding frenzy!” Sarah Britcher, a teacher from West Virginia, said she and her friends had been shopping in the area and made a point of stopping by Trump Tower.

“It seems like a more important building than it was before,” Ms. Britcher, 29, said. “We just wanted to make sure we could pass by and see it.” Another passer-by fumed to her companion, “I wish I could throw something at it.”

Mr. Trump has long been an intermittent source of irritation for New Yorkers, from his days as a tabloid exhibitionist to the long months of the 2016 campaign. But that clash has reached a new and potentially explosive phase since Nov. 8, as he has transformed his signature building — home to his penthouse apartment and business headquarters, and previously his campaign office — into a base of operations for his frenzied presidential transition.
  

By signaling that he plans to keep a presence in New York after taking office in January, Mr. Trump, a Republican, has animated a confrontation unlike any in modern American politics: between a president who clings to his hometown and yearns for its affection, and a city that wishes he would simply disappear.

Already, the measures to protect Mr. Trump when he is in his skyscraper have created friction between the president-elect and New York City, which is projected to spend $35 million on securing Trump Tower before Inauguration Day, according to city officials.

“It’s almost like a pope in residence,” said Michael A.L. Balboni, a Republican who was once a state legislator and served as New York State’s top homeland security official.
  
Security costs are only the beginning of Mr. Trump’s showdown with the city. Unlike a typical president (or a pope), Mr. Trump is no local hero in the town that made him famous. His Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, defeated him here by huge margins, winning every borough except Staten Island. His fellow residents of Manhattan rejected him even in the Republican primary, with a plurality in the borough voting instead for Gov. John R. Kasich of Ohio, an underdog in the race.

Now that Mr. Trump has won, his continuing presence feels to many New Yorkers less like a source of pride than an open wound. While the president-elect has held court in his tower, receiving foreign dignitaries and candidates for his cabinet, New York’s political leaders have raged against him and vowed to obstruct his agenda. Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democrat, and members of Congress have traveled to the doorstep of Trump Tower to publicly chastise its most famous resident.

In the heat of the presidential race, Democrats in the state and city legislatures sought to remove Mr. Trump’s name from a state park and void his contracts with the city. They failed, but since Election Day, three apartment buildings on the West Side of Manhattan have taken down Mr. Trump’s name from their entrances after hundreds of tenants supported a petition to efface his brand from the developments.

New York has never before given the nation a president so disliked by its own voters. The last New York native to have won the presidency, Franklin D. Roosevelt, earned a festive serenade from throngs of his neighbors in Hyde Park in 1940 to celebrate his historic re-election to a third term. In contrast, Mr. Trump’s victory touched off days of angry protests in Midtown, where demonstrators chanted, “New York hates Trump.”

There is no direct analogy for the discord between the president-elect and his hometown. For decades, American presidents have been revered in their home states during their terms: President Obama remained popular in Illinois, most of all in Chicago, regardless of his national approval ratings. George W. Bush was warmly welcomed in Texas throughout his turbulent presidency.

Presidents have often established seasonal refuges or favorite vacation destinations: Mr. Bush’s ranch in Crawford, Tex., for example, where he spent summer months, or the California retreats of Richard M. Nixon and Ronald Reagan. Should Mr. Trump make frequent use of Mar-a-Lago, his estate and private club in Palm Beach, Fla., he might find a kind of precedent in Harry S. Truman’s so-called Little White House in Key West, Fla.

But no president has made a practice of taking long and frequent personal trips from the White House to a major urban area, let alone the country’s largest city. And none has tried the kind of commuter relationship with the Oval Office that Mr. Trump’s critics fear he may pursue.
The only plausible American comparison, historians say, might be the last New York tycoon to hold national office: Nelson A. Rockefeller, who as the appointed vice president under Gerald R. Ford preferred to spend weekends in New York with his wife, Happy, and two young sons.

Richard Norton Smith, a presidential historian and Rockefeller biographer, said that unlike Mr. Trump, Mr. Rockefeller rarely stayed at his Fifth Avenue penthouse, preferring his Westchester County estate. And Mr. Rockefeller could travel more discreetly in that era, Mr. Smith said, with a far less disruptive security detail than is required of presidents and vice presidents today.

Mr. Trump, on the other hand, plainly “doesn’t seem to mind generating chaos or tumult,” Mr. Smith said. The notion of a president opting to avoid the White House, he added, was highly unusual.

“Most of these guys spend their lives turning themselves, and their families and what passes for normal conventional life, inside out in an effort to live in that house,” Mr. Smith said.

Yet Mr. Trump has not the slightest intention of moving out of Trump Tower as president, his associates say, or of shedding his political identity as a New Yorker. Whatever New Yorkers may think of him, his supporters around the country admire his self-developed image as an embodiment of the city’s ambition, wealth and power. No property conveys that impression more forcefully than Trump Tower.

In its insular luxury and regal spectacle, Mr. Trump’s Manhattan residence may function more like the favorite castle of a European monarch than a typical presidential redoubt: at first a private getaway for the king, but eventually a de facto seat of government, like the palace at Versailles. In the absence of any American forebear, the building has also drawn comparisons from the worlds of science fiction and fantasy.

“Tolkien would appreciate the spectacle of a head of state with his own tower named after him,” Dan McLaughlin, a conservative columnist and lawyer based in New York, wrote on Twitter last month, alluding to the fortresses housing sinister wizards in “The Lord of the Rings.”
No final decisions have been made about how Mr. Trump will divide his time after taking office, but he has conferred with friends and advisers about how often he might return to his apartment in Manhattan and visit his other properties, especially Mar-a-Lago and his country club in Bedminster, N.J.

Mr. Trump’s wife, Melania, and their son, Barron, are expected to stay in New York for a time, allowing Mr. Trump’s youngest child to continue in his current school — and most likely intensifying the city’s hold over the new commander in chief.

Moreover, Mr. Trump, who weighed campaigns for mayor and governor long before running for president, still nurtures hopes of winning New York in a future election. Even at his moment of triumph on the night of the election, he expressed disappointment to associates that he did not take New York — he lost the state by 20 percentage points — and he has recently told Republicans that he hopes to win here in 2020.

John Jay LaValle, the chairman of the Republican Party in Suffolk County, posted a video on his Facebook page from Mr. Trump’s victory celebration on Nov. 8 that seemed to capture the president-elect’s fixation on his home state.

As Mr. LaValle calls out to Mr. Trump, addressing him as “Mr. President,” Mr. Trump grins widely — but only briefly. He points at Mr. LaValle and ruefully observes, “We didn’t win New York.”

Mr. LaValle, a frequent defender of Mr. Trump on cable news shows, said Trump allies had every expectation that he would maintain a robust presence in the city. The president-elect’s two adult sons, Donald Jr. and Eric, who are among his closest advisers, are expected to continue living in New York, and Mr. Trump’s real estate business, from which he has not severed his financial ties, is housed in the same building as his apartment. (His daughter Ivanka may move to Washington or split her time between the cities.)

“He’s going to have a pretty strong presence in New York as well as Washington, D.C.,” Mr. LaValle said in an interview. “I don’t think it’s unreasonable to believe there’ll be a White House North.”

 Controlled Mayhem Upper Manhattan traffic, it takes smarts
from all and patience, which in NYC is a rare commodity

  
To Mr. Trump’s local critics, unreasonable isn’t the half of it. They view the prospect of his frequent visits with undisguised horror, for reasons that run from the symbolic to the logistical and financial. They envision capricious tunnel closings and traffic restrictions to facilitate his movement around town, parade routes sealed off to accommodate the Secret Service and raucous demonstrations rocking Manhattan routinely for four or eight years.

Over the past month, Mr. de Blasio and members of the City Council have complained about the burden of securing Mr. Trump’s residence, and demanded that the federal government reimburse New York for the projected $35 million in costs. (Congressional Republicans have offered a fraction of that, $7 million, to help the city.) The mayor suggested on Monday that it would be better for Mr. Trump to spend time at “that beautiful golf course in New Jersey.”

The Council speaker, Melissa Mark-Viverito, a Democrat, said that she considered New York to be “in crisis mode” after Mr. Trump’s election, and that she was bracing for a federal assault on the city’s policy priorities, including immigration, criminal justice reform and the environment. “We have to defend everything, on all fronts,” she said.

And Ms. Mark-Viverito bristled at Mr. Trump’s plans to occupy a stretch of Fifth Avenue while in office. “I find it insulting,” she said, “that this president is going to be treating this job as a part-time situation, that he can come home on weekends.”

As a practical matter, Gale A. Brewer, the Manhattan borough president and a Democrat, said it would be best for Mr. Trump to vacate his current residence, calling the disruption “unprecedented.”

“There’s never been a president who lived in a building with a whole lot of other people, in the middle of a city of eight and a half million, on an incredibly busy street,” Ms. Brewer said. “It does seem to me that the family should move to Washington as soon as possible. There are very good private schools there.”

Failing that, she suggested, Mr. Trump might ease the tensions between him and the community by offering a gentler and more considerate public persona, and by acknowledging that he is aware of the extreme inconvenience. “It would be different for him to apologize to New Yorkers, explain why he’s coming back and forth and what the situation is,” she said.
Security experts say, too, that the threat New York must now address extends beyond Mr. Trump’s best-known property to more than a dozen proudly branded structures around the city. Mr. Balboni, the former state homeland security official, cautioned that for homegrown terrorists seeking to attack “something that is near and close by,” Mr. Trump’s less-guarded real estate assets would be inviting targets for violence and mayhem.

Mr. Trump’s other properties lack the overwhelming protective measures of his primary residence. While Fifth Avenue swarmed with armed guards even during Mr. Trump’s trip to the Midwest, there were no police officers, or any other evident security measures, visible at a Trump-connected apartment building a few blocks away on Central Park South. And though he does not actually own all of the properties on which his name appears, Trump-branded buildings dot the city, including an office tower on Wall Street and a hotel in Columbus Circle.

Mr. Trump seems to be aware of the cooperation he will need from at least some city and state officials to function in New York or to govern as president. So he has taken a few fitful steps to improve relations with prominent residents. He has praised Senator Chuck Schumer, the incoming Democratic minority leader, and agreed to reappoint Preet Bharara, a former adviser to Mr. Schumer, as the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York.

Mr. Trump has made other sporadic gestures of reconciliation, meeting with Mr. de Blasio (they kept the details of their conversation confidential) and placing an unexpected phone call to the Rev. Al Sharpton, a periodic Trump antagonist for decades. And the president-elect spoke at length with former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, a political independent who criticized Mr. Trump sharply during the campaign.

To the extent that Mr. Trump wants to woo New York’s elite to the White House, he will soon have the ceremonial instruments of the presidency at his disposal: invitations to state dinners and holiday parties, embassy postings and appointments to various résumé-enhancing government boards. In early December, he formed an august-sounding advisory panel — the President’s Strategic and Policy Forum — and named Stephen A. Schwarzman, the billionaire New York financier and Republican-leaning political donor, to lead it.

But Mr. Trump has also repeatedly lashed out since the election at New Yorkers who have crossed him, raging on Twitter against protesters in the streets and, more recently, singling out Alec Baldwin’s portrayal of him on “Saturday Night Live,” which broadcasts a few blocks from his apartment. The president-elect also attacked the cast of “Hamilton” for delivering a statement after a performance to Vice President-elect Mike Pence, who was in the audience.

Edward F. Cox, the chairman of the state Republican Party and a supporter of Mr. Trump, said the president-elect nurtured a deep desire to win New York in an election, though it has not voted Republican in a presidential race since Reagan’s 49-state landslide in 1984. “He was always telling me: ‘We’re going to win New York,’” Mr. Cox said. “He would love to win New York; there’s no doubt about it.”

That appears unlikely, given the furious backlash against Mr. Trump’s election this year. State Senator Daniel L. Squadron, a Democrat who led an effort to remove Mr. Trump’s name from a small state park just outside the city, said he held two town-hall-style meetings in November that were flooded with people asking how to “save the republic” from Mr. Trump.

Still, Mr. Squadron, who represents parts of Manhattan and Brooklyn, allowed that Mr. Trump, as president-elect, might have a bit of leeway to change people’s minds. For now, Mr. Squadron said he would not reintroduce legislation to rename Donald J. Trump State Park and would “give him the opportunity to govern.”

Mr. Squadron did not rule out reviving the bill, though, depending on how Mr. Trump handled himself in office.

“Simply being a New Yorker and president,” he warned, “does not mean that New York will be proud of you.”

European Commission Ignores Discrimination Against LGBT in Lithuania




 In Lithuania it takes courage to put the rainbow out your window but in a place where they have seen both nazi and  Russia’s domination, courage is never lacking




A group of MEPs has accused the European Commission of ignoring clear discrimination against gay people in Lithuania.
The commission told Lithuanian activists last month that it would take no action over a 2013 law that claims to protect children from propaganda, but has been used to ban all kinds of material and crack down on LGBT groups. 
The response angered a group of MEPs, who wrote to commissioners Guenther Oettinger and Frans Timmermans, in charge of audiovisual policy and fundamental rights respectively, to deplore that they shied away from acting on "a clear case of discrimination". 
"This truly is a shockingly passive response and provides a carte blanche for continued homophobic legislation in our member states," six MEPs from five political groups wrote on Monday (5 December).
The case goes back to 2014, when the Lithuanian Gay League complained to the commission about a bill adopted by its national lawmakers a year earlier, roughly at the same time as a similar law in Russia. 
Formally known as the law on protection of minors against detrimental effects of public information, the legislation was quickly used to censor different sexual orientations. 
A fairytale featuring a same-sex couple was banned for promoting "harmful, primitive and purposeful propaganda of homosexuality". 
publicity video confronting stereotypes about love and family models, co-financed by the commission, was also targeted by the law.
"We were only allowed to show the video after 11pm, together with alcohol and cigarette ads," Lithuanian Gay League director Vladimir Simonko told this website. 
Earlier this year, MEPs wrote to the commission to ask why it was taking so long to respond to Simonko's complaint.
Oettinger replied in June that the commission was consulting with Lithuanian authorities. 
Then, last month, Giuseppe Abbamonte, an official at the commission's directorate for communications, content and technology (DG Connect) wrote to Simonko to say the EU executive wasn't planning to pursue infringement procedures against Lithuania. 
In the letter, seen by this website, the official argues that Lithuania hadn't breached the audiovisual media services directive, say, by limiting broadcasts from other EU countries. 
"Please be assured of the European commission's strong commitment to fight discrimination within the powers conferred to it by the treaties," the bureaucrat said. 
Dutch liberal MEP Sophie in't Veld, one of the signatories, told this website the commission was wrong to say it lacked powers. 
"They focused on compliance with a sectoral law, which wasn't designed for the protection of fundamental rights. But we also have the treaties, a charter and a convention on human rights, anti-discrimination legislation," in't Veld said.
Article 2 of the EU treaty, for instance, says the bloc is founded on the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities. 
"If the commission wanted to, it could find a way," in't Veld said, adding it would be an opportunity for Oettinger to show where he stands on LGBT rights. 
The German conservative recently came under fire for having joked about gay people at a business conference. 
The Dutch liberal said parliament could table an amendment to the audiovisual directive to make sure that protection of children doesn't become a pretext to bash LGBT people - but such tailor-made amendments were just one-off solutions. 
Referring to the broader, political context - with "illiberal" governments in Hungary and Poland, but also a prolonged state of emergency in France and rising EU scepticism everywhere - in't Veld said the commission was under more pressure than ever to uphold the values the bloc was founded on. 
"If it doesn't, it's the end," Sophie in't Veld said. "The EU cannot function without its fundamental values and respect for the rule of law. That's why they are defined in article 2 in the treaty. Everything else comes afterwards.”
Simonko told EUobserver: "When Russia passed an anti-propaganda law, it was seen as bad. But a similar law in the EU is already quite okay.
"The day Lithuania joined the EU was one of the happiest days of my life. We thought it meant that we would be safe. But now the EU seems like an elite club, where it’s not appropriate to tell members off even when they are badly mannered.”

Trump Keeps $3Mil Campaign Money For His Business



                             



President-elect Donald Trump spent $3 million on the family business as campaign expenses in the final weeks of the race, according to the last Federal Election Committee filing of the 2016 campaign. 
But even while spending millions on Trump-owned entities, he still spent less overall than Democratic rival Hillary Clinton during the closing stretch of the campaign and beyond. 
Trump spent $94.5 million from Oct. 20 to Nov. 28, while Clinton spent $131.8 million over the same period, according to the new filings. The numbers indicate Clinton dramatically increased her spending during the last weeks of the campaign, whereas Trump's remained steady. They spent nearly the same amount, Clinton $50 million and Trump $49 million, during the first 19 days of the month. 
Trump also raised more during the final weeks of the campaign, $86.1 million to Clinton's $70.2 million from Oct. 20 through Nov. 28. 
The billionaire real-estate mogul donated $10 million to his campaign in the lead up to the election, after being criticized for not being willing to invest in his own effort like millions of Americans. Trump donated a total of $66 million to his campaign over the primary and general election. 
Much of that went back into his and his family's pockets, however, as Trump frequently used his own businesses and properties to host campaign events, provide lodging, transportation and even meals at various points throughout the campaign. During the home stretch and the three weeks after Nov. 8, the campaign committee spent $2 million on his airline TAG Air to pay for the 737 he used to campaign across the country, and nearly $54,000 at various Trump restaurants. 
Other payments included more than $236,000 to his hotel in Las Vegas, where he stayed for two nights during the third presidential debate at the University of Nevada Las Vegas. 
Trump's campaign also generated some revenue for his children. Trump's son, Eric Trump's wine manufacturing company received $21,164 worth of payments. 
Paying Trump properties for campaign purposes was a standard practice since he launched his presidential bid in the lobby of Trump tower in June of 2015. Through out the campaign, he paid rent to Trump Tower, quadrupling the amount over the course of the race. He often stayed at Trump properties and used them for press conferences and election night parties. And he collected half-a-million dollars each month from his campaign coffers for TAG Air. 
The president-elect's vast business holdings have come under closer scrutiny since his electoral victory. He faces possible conflicts of interest and violations of the emoluments clause of the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits the president from holding business interests that could be used to curry favor from foreign entities and groups attempting to obtain that favor by spending money and holding events at Trump properties. 
Trump tweeted that he would announce on Dec. 15 how he will handle his business enterprise when he becomes president.
Another benefactor of Trump's presidential run was his digital director Brad Parscale. Parscale received $28 million worth of payments in November, bringing his 2016-cycle total to more than $70 million. Parscale, who worked with Trump's businesses before his presidential run, has become a trusted adviser to Trump. 
Trump is also still contesting $766,000 worth of payments to Fabrizio, Lee and Associates, a polling firm.
  and 

The Pizza Gate




                                                                           





A popular pizza joint in Brooklyn, New York, has become the latest victim this week of a conspiracy theory that simply won’t quit: that a child prostitution operation connected to the Clinton family is being run out of another pizza spot in Washington, D.C.

The bogus theory first jumped from internet forums like Reddit, its birthplace and incubator, to the real world when an armed man went to Comet Ping Pong, a D.C. pizza parlor, to “self-investigate.” Police confirmed Wednesday that employees at the Brooklyn haunt Roberta’s have received multiple threatening phone calls as well. 

The persistence of what’s come to be known as “Pizzagate” captures a problem Reddit has wrestled with throughout its existence: how to live up to its motto of being “the front page of the internet” while keeping the worst parts of the platform from infecting everything else. It’s a tension creating difficulty in the site’s quest to become a “real” business that’s able to consistently attract big-name advertisers.

The Reddit forum devoted to “Pizzagate” was banned before Thanksgiving, but the conspiracy theory remained popular on Reddit’s largest pro-Trump forum, The_Donald, which, in addition to hosting Trump fandom, has become a volatile stew of fake news and white supremacy. Just four days before the incident in D.C., Reddit CEO Steve Huffman announced that the company would issue warnings and permanent bans to some of the most “toxic” The_Donald members and that all Reddit users could now filter The_Donald posts from r/all, which is effectively Reddit’s front page.

Days before that, Huffman acknowledged in a comment that he had screwed up when he edited user comments in an attempt to troll The_Donald trolls.

Even before Pizzagate, Reddit found itself at the center of several other scandals, including a stunning leak of nude celebrity photos, the Gamergate scandal, and years of bad behavior from a core group of racist and misogynist trolls. Shortly after Huffman joined last year, he said that Reddit would make changes to mitigate abuse and harassment and give unpaid Reddit moderators more tools for support.


But the community hasn’t been convinced. On Monday a popular Reddit post took aim at Huffman and his colleagues: “The_Donald’s pizzagate has officially created terrorism. Admins, it’s time for you to deal [with] them, or breed more terrorism.”

Many would characterize the changes as too little, too late. Moreover, Huffman’s surreptitious editing of posts written about him makes it hard for moderators to trust his motivations when he says he’s serious about cleaning up Reddit’s latest mess.

One of Reddit’s long-standing issues has been managing the large army of unpaid moderators who oversee the forums and keep Reddit running. The_Donald users frequently swarm other sections of the service with harassment and abuse, making it difficult for the moderators and small group of paid admins to maintain control.

A moderator of one subreddit with more than 10 million subscribers told VICE News that she “does not have faith in [Huffman’s] leadership,” particularly when it comes to dealing with The_Donald and its freewheeling moderators.

“No admin (less the CEO of Reddit) should be able to openly edit comments like that or even think that is acceptable,” she said in an email. “I have a lot of faith in the more active admins who work with us regularly, as they see what it is like to deal with these issues day-to-day. The leadership seems too concerned about image to see what is really going on.”

The mod, who requested anonymity because she feared retribution by The_Donald, added that while “a moderator’s job is to contain a community and promote civility … The_Donald manages to defy admins near hourly at this point.”

For years, Reddit has struggled to “contain” its community. Last year, a moderator revolt ended in the ouster of interim CEO Ellen Pao. On Huffman’s post admitting to editing comments last week, Pao replied to a Reddit comment by saying that she “would have immediately fired anyone who did” what he did.

“[Reddit] still hasn’t developed a coherent and transparent vision of what kind of site it wants to be.”

“Reddit is awful with community and has no sense with community,” said Randi Harper, founder of the Online Abuse Prevention Initiative, who has worked with Silicon Valley companies on internet harassment and abuse. “They put all of their energy and their focus into engineering, and not community …. 4chan has better community management than Reddit at this point. People there, the mods shut stuff down better.”

Though Reddit has pledged in the past to implement better fixes to deal with toxic elements of its community, University of Miami law professor and Cyber Civil Rights Initiative policy director Mary Anne Franks said the company “still hasn’t developed a coherent and transparent vision of what kind of site it wants to be.”

“The_Donald is only the latest iteration of the internal contradiction at the heart of Reddit: how easy it is for an allegedly no-holds-barred, radically free forum for ideas to be repeatedly monopolized by narrow-minded, censorious mobs,” Franks said in an email. “Reddit’s leadership needs to confront this reality and consider whether it is compatible with their vision for the site. If it is, then it needs to drop the pretense of having any principled commitment against harassment and abuse — and indeed any commitment to actual quality of discourse.”

Video game developer Brianna Wu — who was targeted by the Gamergate online hate mob that originated on Reddit and 4chan in 2015 — said that “if Reddit is serious about combating the toxic elements of their community, they need to reach out to some of the people routinely targeted,” which both Franks and Harper stressed as well.

When reached for comment, a Reddit spokesperson directed us back to Huffman’s post from last week. Under his tenure as CEO — he’s a co-founder who left Reddit to launch a travel startup then came back to replace Pao last year — the company has talked a good game about cleaning up the toxicity and building a real, lasting business. Earlier this week, Reddit took steps to prevent programmatic ads from showing up in places on the site where Pizzagate-like content is discussed.

That may be a Sisyphean task for Huffman and the Reddit leadership. Harper said that fixing Reddit’s community won’t be possible without “completely redoing” the site’s architecture.

Though Reddit has a large audience — according to figures provided by ComScore, Reddit had 46.6 million unique visitors in the U.S. alone last month, a 26 percent year-over-year increase — concerns about its seedier and more hateful elements have given advertisers and ad buyers pause. And because Google and Facebook soak up so much of the ad money spent on digital marketing, Reddit is feeling the same pain as everyone else in digital publishing. In the first quarter of this year, Google and Facebook reportedly collected 85 cents of every new dollar spent on online ads.

Ian Schafer, founder and CEO of the ad agency DeepFocus, said in a message that while he “believes in Reddit,” he doesn’t think it has yet “built a reputation as a brand-safe environment for the biggest spenders.”

After 11 years, Reddit is still waiting to turn its first profit. And as one former Reddit executive pointed out, time spent fixing the Reddit community is time not being spent on making Reddit a better business.

“Managing the Reddit community is hard, because any action to prevent harassment is viewed as an attack on free speech,” the former exec said. “You don’t have much influence on the moderators other than by changing the rules, and the community is resistant to rule changes. At some point, you need to build a sustainable business.”

December 8, 2016

John Glenn Dead at 95




Former astronaut and U.S. Sen. John Glenn has died in Ohio. He was 95. Glenn became a national hero in 1962 when he became the first American to orbit the Earth.

Thanks to a Deadly Corrupt Duterte Gov. HIV Rates are Out of Control ‘No Condoms No Testing’




 A friend of mine in California with friends and trips to the Philippines told me unless you work and have good insurance there are no HIV meds in the Philippines for you. He said "the government sees these people as throw aways and they are deplorable that have no redemption. The sooner they die the better off the government is.”





Policies like restricting gay men from using condoms while having sex are causing an HIV epidemic in the Philippines, Human Rights Watch said in a report released on Thursday, 8 December.

According to official statistics, there has been a tenfold rise in the prevalence of the sexually transmitted virus in the country, the 46-page report, titled "Fuelling the Philippines' HIV Epidemic: Government Barriers to Condom Use by Men Who Have Sex With Men" notes.
 
The group said that among all Asia-Pacific nations, the Philippines is facing one of the fastest-growing HIV epidemics. It blamed the national and local governments for failing to address the growing HIV prevalence among gay men, which emerged as the biggest source of the spread of the deadly virus in the recent past.

The report states that although President Rodrigo Duterte's predecessors took adequate measures in the 1990s to prevent HIV spread in the country, they focused only on commercial sex workers and completely ignored same sex relations. The government even ignored data from the Department of Health that indicated that 81% of the 35,000 recorded HIV cases in the country between 1984 and June 2016 have been among men who have sex with men. The first HIV case was recorded in the country in 1984.

HIV Epidemic

Human Rights Watch has warned the Philippine government of an HIV epidemic in the country due to policies preventing gay men access to condoms and HIV testing facilities

"President Duterte has inherited a legacy of failed or counterproductive policies of previous administrations that are contributing to the alarming increase in HIV infections among men who have sex with men," Carlos H Conde, a Philippines researcher, said in a statement released by the human rights group.

"Reducing HIV transmission isn't rocket science. But it does require the Duterte government to implement an HIV prevention program and remove obstacles to condom and HIV testing access so that young Filipinos – particularly men who have sex with men – can protect themselves from an otherwise preventable illness," the researcher added.

According to health department data for 2015, at least 11 cities in the Philippines have recorded HIV prevalence rates of more than 5% among gay men, with the second largest city, Cebu City, recording a 15% prevalence rate.

The overall prevalence rate for the Asia-Pacific region is 0.2% and for Sub-Saharan Africa, it is 4.7%, which are way lower than the prevalence rates recorded in the Philippines, the report notes, adding that the dismal scenario was a result of “longstanding resistance of the Roman Catholic Church to sexual health education and condom use".


Gay Indonesians on Hair Raising Alert Due to Current Anti Gay Actions




In many Muslim countries you are starting to see more
 governments outlaw the action on this picture





Homophobic rhetoric is nothing new in Indonesian politics. In recent months, elected officials have labeled gay Indonesians as morally corrupt, inconsistent with national values, and "worse than nuclear warfare." 
But the recent arrest of several gay men at a private party in south Jakarta's Kalibata City was a shock for many, both because the raid was led by the right-wing Islamic Defender's Front (FPI) party and because the police actually followed their lead.
FPI has been emboldened in recent months by the success of initiatives like their huge rallies against Jakarta's ethnic Chinese governor, Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama. With little opposition from President Joko Widodo and other mainstream politicians, the group has become brazenly divisive.
Moral decay
 Earlier this year, he said, many prominent officials had a "sort of meltdown" where they goaded each other into making inflammatory statements like that of Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu, who compared homosexuality to nuclear war.
"And what mainstream politicians decided to do was keep quiet, so as not to fan the flames of extremists," Knight said. But silence had the opposite effect, and ultimately let their voices echo unchecked.
The acronym LGBT — lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender — has become so symbolically loaded in Indonesia, Knight said, that politicians use it as shorthand for a whole set of liberal values. "I wouldn't be surprised if some of them didn't even know what it stood for," he said.
The FPI, Knight added, has turned gay rights into a wedge issue to drum up middle-class moral outrage before regional elections in January and February.
"I think the phrase LGBT is a cheap way of appealing to ‘moral voters,’ and Islamic parties are using this to get votes," said prominent gay rights activist Dede Oetomo.
But this strategy might not have its desired effects. Journalist and Indonesia expert Elizabeth Pisani analyzed hundreds of sharia-inspired bylaws and found that "morality-based" legislation does not translate into popularity with voters.
Although anti-gay and religiously intolerant laws win local politicians the support of hardliners like FPI, she found, the politicians who champion them are less likely to get re-elected than their moderate peers.
 The Kalibata City incident


"The fact that FPI could enter private premises is worrying," Oetomo said. "There are now different levels of reality within Indonesia, because the hardliners are so intent on turning their worldview into action."
The FPI has attacked LGBT events since at least 2002, when they disrupted a film festival in Surabaya. But until recently, Oetomo said, their position tended to be perceived as fringe.
In the Kalibata City raid, police confiscated 17 cellphones, two packs of condoms and antiretroviral drugs for HIV/AIDS, according to local newspaper Warta Kota. None of these things, nor the act of homosexual intercourse, are illegal.
"It's this pattern of behavior where the police take militant Islamists’ ‘tips’ seriously, which is not at all surprising," Knight said. "But the chilling effect that the police send even just by showing up … is that the social sanction comes from on high and gets interpreted as open season on LGBT people." Plus, he said, the immediacy with which FPI could claim credit for the incident on Twitter and disseminate its message to sympathetic citizens is unprecedented. 
If FPI retains popular support for its LGBT stance, it may succeed in passing all or part of a proposed ban on homosexuality. In 2014, the Indonesian Ulama Council (MUI), an umbrella Muslim organization that includes FPI, issued a detailed fatwa against LGBT relations. The fatwa's rhetoric has inspired the proposed legislation.
"MUI doesn't have law enforcement capabilities, but we just wanted to remind the government of Indonesia that the LGBT movement endangers Indonesian culture and Indonesia is not the same as Western countries that allow LGBT relations," said Nadjamuddin Ramly, Deputy Secretary-General of MUI.
 MUI perceives LGBT visibility as a threat to heterosexual marriage. According to the fatwa, “the institution of marriage is the only legitimate institution in channeling sexual desire and organize the household and the community."

Community watches, waits
"I'm very angry," said Anggun Pradesha, a transwoman activist and filmmaker in Yogyakarta. "FPI's hatred is strange. On the basis of some distaste, they feel so obligated to diminish the rights of other human beings." 
Pradesha was rattled by the Kalibata incident. "What those men did was not illegal," she said. "What does that mean for the rest of us?" 
She pointed out the slight absurdity of the whole concept of "LGBT" within Indonesia, as it groups together a centuries-old social category of transgender, or third-gender, individuals with homosexuals. But she welcomed the incidental kinship and its strength in numbers: all the better to persevere with.

December 7, 2016

Trump joined ranks with Vladimir Putin, Richard Nixon, Joseph Stalin, as Time MOTY



 In 2007 Putin was made Time of the year. I think the novelty of it all it passed
 with the dominance of the early  boomers. Because of the friendship of these two unconventional liked and hated individuals I thought Putin’s face was appropriate but because of his war on the LGBT Community as Trump with certain immigrants the picture is more tolerable with their real behavior at least a far as Putin goes.



Today, Donald Trump joined the ranks of Pope Francis, Richard Nixon, Joseph Stalin, The Computer, and many others when he was named Time’s Person of the Year for 2016.

No HIV Cure in 2016 but Something is Likely to Come in 2017



       
                                                                        
 

New study shows excellent results in a study on monkeys and a med being used now. Next stage is already in progress testing it on volunteers. There is a drug company in Japan who is had good results but they are not the only ones working on it. They made the International news because they are ready to move to the next stage and because is with a drug that has been used to treat another condition.

The surprising results have come from a study in monkeys involving an antibody used to treat Crohn’s disease.
 
Who has done the research?

 The study comes from the lab of Dr Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease in the US.

He has made research into HIV-AIDS his life work.

He is overseeing clinical trials testing whether the drug, made by Japanese drugmaker Takeda, can control HIV without the need for ongoing treatment.

The research builds on efforts by several teams to produce sustained remission of HIV-AIDS after suspending antiretroviral therapy (ART).

With the exception of one group of people in France, known as the Visconti cohort, all patients who have stopped taking ART after some form of treatment have seen the virus return. 

The drug
 
The drug, Entyvio, is an antibody engineered to attack a specific protein.

Known generically as vedolizumab, it is approved in more than 50 countries for ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.

This occurs when the immune system attacks the intestines.

 How many HIV patients are there around the world?

 An estimated 36.7 million.
 
When will we have the results?
 
Not until late 2017 or early 2018.
 
What is a “functional cure”?
 
A treatment that puts the disease in sustained remission, allowing patients to skip the daily cocktail of pills they must take to keep their disease in check.

The hope would be that, eventually, instead of having to take daily medication, patients could get a shot or infusion every few months that would keep their virus in check. 

What are the HIV-AIDS specialists saying?

 There is optimism about the work, but they remain cautious.

Many promising drugs have worked extremely well in monkeys but have failed to work in people.
 
Are there any other trials ongoing?
 
Yes.

Fauci’s study is one of several early stage clinical trials testing new drug and antiviral combinations that could help patients keep HIV in check and raising hopes for a “functional cure” that puts the disease in sustained remission.

A second trial combines a therapeutic vaccine from Johnson and Johnson with an immune system booster from Gilead Sciences.

Both are especially promising because they involve products already tested in people, which could speed up development time if they are worked.

Other ideas are also being worked on, including a full-scale human trial that was launched in South Africa this week (November, 2016).

Research on stopping the virus includes studies involving human antibodies that neutralise HIV, as well as a vaccine that uses a herpes virus to train the immune system to fight HIV.
  
What Dr Fauci says

 Dr Fauci says what they have found in monkey models is promising. They are now testing to see if this can be replicated in the first human trial.

“We clearly induced something in the monkeys that is chronically, over one to two years, suppressing the rebound of their virus.”

“We don’t know yet what that is. We don’t know what type of response. We certainly are going to be working in non-human primate monkey models as well as in the humans once we get data from this study to try and figure out what the mechanism is.”

“But the first and important thing we need to do is see if we get the results in the humans that we saw in the animals and that is the reason you do a clinical trial.”

“We will need to wait and see what happens in the human system.”

Fauci says the advances in the treatment of AIDS over the last 30 years have already been astounding.

“We have gone from uniformly-fatal living no more than 12 or 15 months to someone living almost a normal life span.”

Putin Wants to Ban FIFA from Russia, “Too Gay"

Add caption


FIFA 17 could be banned in Russia after MPs suggested it was responsible for promoting “gay propaganda”.
The game’s manufacturer, EA Sports, recently introduced a feature allowing gamers to choose a rainbow-coloured kit for their virtual players in support of LGBT rights group Stonewall’s Rainbow Laces campaign to combat homophobia in sport. 
But Russian MPs have written to the country’s communications watchdog to suggest this is a breach of a 2013 law that banned “gay propaganda”.
In the letter, MPs from the President Vladimir Putin's United Russia Party and the Communist Party wrote: “"The FIFA multiplatform video game, developed by EA Canada, invites users to support the action of the English Premier League’s "Rainbow shoelaces" action - a large-scale campaign in support of the LGBT community.
“Meanwhile, according to the law the ‘protection of children from information harmful to their health and development’…includes information that promotes non-traditional sexual relations.”
Valery Rashkin, a Communist Party MP, told Izvestia newspaper: "It is necessary to verify the computer game FIFA 17 for compliance with the stated age group and [ensure] the game [is] in accordance with Russian legislation".
EA Sports may have to make changes to the game or face "the relevant restrictive measures", Mr Rashkin added.
Russia introduced the controversial “gay propaganda” law in 2013 in the face of widespread international opposition.

 Amnesty International told The Independent the criticism of FIFA 17 was the latest example of Russian “intolerance” of gay people.
Denis Krivosheev, the charity’s Europe and Central Asia Deputy Director said: “Given the extremely hostile environment for LGBTI people in Russia, this isn’t entirely surprising but it’s a worrying sign that Russia’s official culture is growing ever more intolerant of all sexual and political non-conformity.


“With the Russian World Cup only 18 months away, it really is time for the authorities to roll back their homophobic legislation and discriminatory practices, and to set about hosting the world’s premier football tournament in a spirit of tolerance and hospitality toward all.”
Stonewall’s Rainbow Laces campaign, which involved footballers being given rainbow-coloured laces to wear during matches, aims to end homophobia in football. There are no openly gay male professional footballers in the UK, despite studies suggesting one in ten British men are gay.
Russia has been widely criticised in recent years for its record on LGBT rights. Same-sex marriage remains illegal in the country and Russian MPs earlier this year debated a new law that would ban “public displays” of gay relationships. A 2013 survey found 74 per cent of Russian people do not believe society should “accept homosexuality”.
independent.co.uk

December 6, 2016

Trump’s National Security Chief and His Conspiracies Theories


“Lock her Up” GOP ConventionMichael T. Flynn
Michael T. Flynn(new Trump’s National security advisor) and his son  Michael G. Flynn who seems to love to put out fake news and who had been given top security clearance by the new WH Team
 
On issues of national security and intelligence, no one is likely to have more influence in Donald Trump’s White House than retired Gen. Michael T. Flynn.
Yet Flynn, Trump’s incoming national security adviser, has gained prominence in Republican politics by fueling conspiracy theories and Islamophobic rhetoric that critics warn could create serious distractions — or alienate allies and embolden enemies — if it continues.
“His job is to ensure that the White House is focused at all times on all of the threats that the United States faces abroad,” said Julianne Smith, a former deputy national security adviser to Vice President Joe Biden. She said she was “deeply troubled” by a Flynn tendency to promote fake news stories on his Twitter feed.
“You don’t want to have a distracted national security adviser,” said Smith, who now directs the strategy and statecraft program at the Center for a New American Security.
She was among several national security experts who raised concerns Tuesday about Flynn’s willingness to share bad intelligence on a social media feed as he prepares to move to the West Wing.

Real consequences of fake news leveled on a D.C. pizzeria and other nearby restaurants

 
Play Video2:03
Comet Ping Pong customers came out to support the restaurant after a gunman entered it with an assault rifle, firing it at least once. Several other businesses on the block have received other threats as well. (Video: Whitney Shefte/Photo: Matt McClain/The Washington Post)
Flynn served until 2014 as the head of U.S. military intelligence. Although he left that job over disputes with the Obama administration over policy and his management of the Defense Intelligence Agency, he is widely regarded as a top intelligence officer, a job that requires an understanding of the power of disinformation.
The issue of sharing fake news was highlighted when Flynn’s son, Michael G. Flynn, tweeted about the false idea that prompted a shooting at a Washington, D.C., pizza parlor. He had been promoting a conspiracy theory that Hillary Clinton’s allies had been operating a secret pedophilia ring in the restaurant and noted it would remain a story until “proven to be false.”
Vice President-elect Mike Pence acknowledged Tuesday that the younger Flynn was helping his father with scheduling and administrative items during the presidential transition but told CNN “that’s no longer the case.” Whatever the appropriate paperwork was to assist him in that regard, Jake, I’m sure was taking place,” he said.
Trump’s team did not clarify whether Michael Flynn Jr.’s departure from Trump’s transition team was related to the tweets.
Less than a week before the election, the elder Flynn tweeted a link to a story that falsely claimed Clinton emails contained proof of money laundering and sex crimes with children, among other illegal activities. The incoming national security adviser called the baseless story a “must read” and instructed his followers: “U decide.”
Flynn also promoted conspiracy theorists, some of them white supremacists, throughout the campaign even as he emerged as Trump’s highest profile national security adviser.
He encouraged his followers to read a book by Mike Cernovich, whose website has suggested Clinton’s campaign chairman was part of a “sex cult with connections to human trafficking.” Flynn also tagged white nationalist Jared Wyand, whose website is popular with “alt-right” followers.
Flynn’s appointment is not subject to Senate confirmation.
Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee, said Tuesday that Flynn’s willingness to promote fake news “raises profound questions about his suitability for this important position.”
Trump’s team did not respond to questions about Flynn’s social media activity. Pence praised Flynn more broadly on Tuesday, even as he distanced the incoming administration from Flynn’s son.
“We are so grateful and honored to have Gen. Flynn as our nominee for national security adviser. He brings an extraordinary wealth of experience,” Pence said.
The role of national security adviser has varied by administration, but usually centers on coordinating the policy positions of the secretaries of state and defense, the attorney general and other members of a president’s team.
 It is an especially important position because of the national security adviser’s access to the president in the West Wing of the White House. Flynn’s office will be steps away from the Oval Office, proximity that allows him to act as a gatekeeper on a wide range of issues, including matters of war and peace as well as diplomacy and intelligence.
He is expected to have more direct access to the president than national security officials in the Cabinet. Aside from attending Trump’s daily intelligence briefings and senior staff meetings, Flynn will also oversee the National Security Council, a White House department that has grown to about 400 people involved in making policy recommendations.
Flynn, who turns 58 in December, served for more than three decades in the Army.
“If the national security adviser is going to be the direct conduit between the president and the national security world, of course it’s a concern that that adviser is being taken in by conspiracy theories and fake news,” said Tom Nichols, a professor at the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island, where Flynn obtained a master’s in national security and strategic studies in 2001.
Whoever has the president’s ear on international affairs, Nichols said, should have “a firm grip on what’s true and what’s false.”
___
AP writers Julie Pace and Lolita C. Baldor in Washington and Matt O’Brien in Providence, Rhode Island contributed to this report.
The Associated Press

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