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McCain And Two Other Democrats Team Up To Regulate Facebook Ads

‘Republican’ Senator John McCain (AZ) is teaming up with Democrat Senators Mark Warner (VA) and Amy Clobuchar (MN) to support the first of the “Facebook bills,” aimed at battling so-called election interference over Facebook ($FB), Twitter ($TWTR) and Google ($GOOG).

The bill is based primarily on the claim that Russia bought $100K in Facebook ads – mostly in 2015, which didn’t favor any particular candidate.

Even Bill Clinton’s former chief strategist Mark Penn thinks the notion is absurd, penning an article in the Wall St. Journal titled “You Can’t Buy the Presidency for $100,000.”

Still – the Russian witch-hunt must continue, since Hillary didn’t lose on her own merit as a shitty candidate.

The co-sponsored bill states:

Russia attempted to influence the 2016 presidential election by buying and placing political ads on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Google. The content and purchaser(s) of those online advertisements are a mystery to the public because of outdated laws that have failed to keep up with evolving technology. The Honest Ads Act would prevent foreign actors from influencing our elections by ensuring that political ads sold online are covered by the same rules as ads sold on TV, radio, and satellite.

Disclosures for those financing ads would apply to any entity with over $500 in ad spending, cumulatively, across any platform. The bill would also place a “reasonable expectation” on social media companies to disclose international buyers of campaign ads.

“There will always be a case where things can fall through the cracks. What we’re trying to do here is start with a light touch,” Warner said. “We don’t want to slow down innovation on the internet, we don’t want to slow down technology.”

In a press conference unveiling the bill, the senators pointed out that Google and Facebook carry around 85 percent of online political ads. “Who wouldn’t want to know if the ad appearing next to your story was being paid for by a foreign power?” Klobuchar asked.

It won’t stop there…

McCain, Warner and Clobuchar seem to think their bill is a good start – however Rep. Warner says it will still be difficult to identify ad buyers who are “misrepresenting themselves” so as to conceal the source of funding, and says he hopes “that these platform companies come up with some ideas” for tougher crackdowns on political ad purchases.

TechCrunch writes;

“Now the online companies, we’re working with them,” Klobuchar said. “I’m not going to tell you they support this bill right now. They have to realize that the world has changed, they have been selling ads and making money off of this system.”

Even as they skewered Facebook for being “dismissive” early on and Twitter for essentially copying Facebook’s homework in its report to Congress a few weeks ago, the lawmakers appeared hopeful that cooperation would only improve as the depth of Russian election interference becomes more widely understood.

In spite of that increasing cooperation, the senators suggested that voluntary adherence to Congressional guidelines would be an uneven solution at best.

“The problem is, it has to cover everyone — you can’t just have a few companies doing it voluntarily, it has to be in the laws,” Warner said.

“These companies rely on the trust of users,” he added. “It’s in their own self-interest.”

Facebook, Twitter and Google are expected to appear in an open hearing before the House and Senate’s intelligence committees on November 1. Facebook and Twitter confirmed this week that they will not be sending high-profile executives to the hearings, instead opting to be represented by their general counsels.

“I think that they got the message,” Warner said. “I think the real proof in the pudding will be ‘come to the hearing on November 1.’ “

In closing, Hillary was a fine candidate and Trump only won because of Muh Russia – thus everything he does shall be henceforth marked with an asterisk.

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Elon Musk: Second Tunnel-Digging Machine From ‘Boring Company’ Almost Ready

Elon Musk said his second tunnel-digging machine from his Boring Company is “almost ready,” and will be named “Line-Storm” after the Robert Frost poem “A Line-storm Song.”

Super deep.

The Tesla and SpaceX CEO started the Boring Company after he says he was frustrated with Los Angeles gridlock – and plans to build a series of tunnels in L.A. with cars being ferried around on pods at 125 mph.

The first boring machine was called “Godot” and began digging tunnels in early 2017.

CNBC writes:

Musk has been very public with the progress of the Boring Company. In July, he showed off the elevator that would take cars underground.

The Tesla boss, who appears to have a very loyal fanbase, also began selling $20 caps branded “The Boring Company.” He announced, in jest, that 4,000 hats had been sold so far and the person who buys cap number 5,000 will receive an additional one on top for free.

Secret underground cities for the elite when?

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ICE: Illegal Alien Arrested In Wine Country Arson Was Deported Twice

U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Acting Director Tom Homan said that a 29 year old man arrested last weekend connection with a Sonoma County, CA fire is an illegal alien from Mexico who had been deported twice.

Homan also wrote that the suspect, Jesus Fabian Gonzalez, had detainer requests issued five times in the past 12 months, including the most recent one on Oct. 16 in relation to the arson investigation. All of the detainer requests were issued by Sonoma County for various felony and misdemeanor charges.

Sonoma County is considered a sanctuary jurisdiction and does not honor ICE detainer requests. “ICE was never notified of Mr. Gonzalez’ various releases,” wrote Homan.

Of note, there have been several fires throughout the Northern California wine country – however Gonzales was arrested last weekend for “starting a small fire in California’s scorched wine country,” not as a suspect in the overall disaster.

Two days ago, Sonoma County sheriff forcefully shot down allegations that Gonzales was involved in the deadly fires which have killed 43 and left dozens still unaccounted for.

Gonzales was arrested at Maxwell Farms Regional Park in Sonoma on Sunday afternoon after he was seen leaving a creek bed with a plume of smoke rising behind him, Giordano said.

“There is a story out there that he’s the arsonist in these fires,” said Giordano, adding “That’s not the case. There’s no indication he’s related to these fires at all. … I wanted to kill that speculation right now, so we didn’t have things running too far out of control.”

ICE Director Homan’s entire statement is below (emphasis mine):

Once again, a non-cooperative jurisdiction has left their community vulnerable to dangerous individuals and preventable crimes. ICE lodged a detainer against Jesus Gonzalez with Sonoma County jail officials on October 16, following his arrest on felony charges for maliciously setting fire to a property. This is especially troubling in light of the massive wildfires already devastating the region.

Over the past year, ICE has lodged detainers against Mr. Gonzalez after four separate arrests by Sonoma County on various felony and misdemeanor charges. ICE was never notified of Mr. Gonzalez’ various releases. Additionally, Mr. Gonzales has been returned to his home country of Mexico on two separate occasions. The residents of Sonoma County, and the state of California, deserve better than policies that expose them to avoidable dangers. Non-cooperation policies – now enshrined in California state law – ensure only one thing: criminals who would otherwise be deported will be released and left free to reoffend as they please.

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Plague Kills 57, Infects 680 In Madagascar

Madagascar’s plague outbreak continues to spread at alarming rates, causing 57 deaths and infecting over 680 as of Oct 12. About half the cases have occurred in the capital, Antananarivo.

The country normally experiences around 400 cases of plague each year, mostly during the rainy season between November and March – however health officials say this year is different – with infections starting much earlier than usual, and located in urban vs. typically rural areas. Also worrisome to officials is the numbers of easily spreading pmeumonic plague vs. bubonic plague.

Of the 684 cases, 484 were pneumonic, 156 bubonic and 1 septicemic plague. 54 cases were not classified, according to WHO.

The fact that the plague is spreading in urban areas before the rainy season is a serious concern. “The rains drive the rodents out,” said Bausch, which also explains why cases are usually the bubonic form.

Though the country is endemic for the plague, the surprising occurrence of cases in cities as well as them presenting earlier than usual meant health authorities weren’t ready — fueling a rapid spread of the disease, according to Dr. Charlotte Ndiaye, WHO representative in Madagascar.

How does it spread?

CNN reports:

Plague is caused by infection with the bacterium Yersinia pestis and is typically spread through the bite of infected fleas, frequently carried by rats, causing bubonic plague. Symptoms include painful, swollen lymph nodes, called bubos, as well as fever, chills and coughing.
Pneumonic plague is more virulent or damaging and is an advanced form characterized by a severe lung infection. The infection can be transmitted from person to person via airborne droplets — coughing or sneezing. The incubation period is short, and an infected person may die within 12 to 24 hours.
Third world problems
Perhaps the most shocking part of this outbreak is the fact that the plague is easily treated with antibiotics. The government of Madagascar has mobilized resources to disinfect schools and other public areas, and people have been lining up at local pharmacies in the capital for medication and protection.
“The international community is taking this very seriously,” said Daniel Bausch, director of the UK Public Health Rapid Support Team. Launched in 2016, this team consists of clinicians, scientists and academics deployed to tackle outbreaks of disease around the world within 48 hours.
WHO delivered over 1.2 million doses of antibiotics to combat the plague earlier this month, and the Red Cross has committed over $1 million, and mobilized over 1,000 volunteers to help with the situation.
Low risk of a pandemic
While it appears this plague outbreak is going to be particularly hard on Madagascar,  WHO scientist Dr. Charlotte Ndiaye said “the risk of international spread is low, because generally, people with plague are too sick to travel.”
Regardless, WHO is working closely with Madagascar authorities to ensure airports are not vectors.
It’s “important to recognize that, unlike Ebola, plague is easily treated with antibiotics,” said Bausch. “With very good outcomes, as long as detected and treated early.”

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Trump Hits Back, Calls Widow And (D) Congresswoman Liars Over Insensitive Comments

Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL) told CNN that she was present when President Trump told the young widow of a U.S. serviceman killed in Niger, “Basically… he knew what he signed up for, but I guess it still hurt.”

Wilson, who was apparently driving around with the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson, when the call took place – claims to have heard Trump’s remarks over speaker phone, calling him a ‘sick man’ and saying the family was ‘astonished.’

The Washington Post contacted Sgt. Johnson’s mother, Cowanda Jones-Johnson, who was also in the car – telling the paper “”It was horrible. It was insensitive. It was absolutely crazy, unnecessary. I was livid,” adding “She was in tears. And she said, ‘He didn’t even remember his name.'”

Trump hits back

Trump shot off a tweet early Wednesday effectively accusing Rep. Wilson – and therefore the widow – of being total liars, and that he has some sort of proof he never made the ‘he knew what he signed up for’ comment.

That said:

Trump’s tweet is reminiscent of his ‘Comey Bluff’ where he claimed to have a tape of a private conversation with former FBI Director James Comey – teasing the MSM by saying “You’re going to be very disappointed, don’t worry.”

Trump later admitted to bluffing to ‘keep Comey honest,’ though he has taped conversations in the past – including one which was used in a Real Estate lawsuit decades ago.

By calling the widow of a fallen service member – along with her mother and a congresswoman – liars, Trump has painted himself into a yuge corner. If no tapes exist and we’re going off of Trump’s staff vs. the widow, congresswoman, and the fallen soldier’s mother for he-said / she-said, this is going to be ugly.

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The State Of Illinois Is “Past The Point Of No Return”

Authored by via StockBoardAsset.com,

Summary

  • Unless used for capital improvements, any new Illinois State borrowing, regardless of security structure, will amount to nothing more than kicking the can further down the road.
  • Markets remain open to uncreditworthy government borrows longer than they should. In a low interest rate environment, investors will stretch credit standards.
  • Benchmark bond ratings are at variance with the rating agencies.

Everyone knows Illinois’ financial condition is poor. Conventional thinking seems to be that a bond default, should that happen, would be many years in the future. Pardon me, but wasn’t that the thinking right up to Puerto Rico’s, “We can’t pay” announcement?

To answer the question of just how badly off is Illinois, I assembled a list of key creditworthiness indicators and applied them to New York, a highly rated state, and Illinois.

Commentary and Benchmark Private Bond Ratings

The State of New York is managing its financial resources and obligations in a better-than-average manner. Particularly, the State’s employee pensions are reported to be 90% funded, but the general fund deficit must be contained and then eliminated. Unfunded OPEB costs are too high and can be renegotiated. Funded and pro forma unfunded long-term contractual obligations equaled 23% of general fund revenue in FY ended June 30, 2017, and exceeds the 15% threshold for a Benchmark AA or AA+ credit rating.

*Both NYS income tax and sales tax bonds are payable from annual general fund appropriation. For additional information, click here.

Commentary and Benchmark Private Bond Ratings

The State of Illinois, in my opinion, is past the point of no return. It does not have the ability to raise taxes or cut spending to the degree necessary to reduce the annual cost of bond and retiree benefits from 33% to a sustainable level. The amount of debt issued by Illinois requires a moderate 8% of general fund revenues to pay P&I.

The insolvency is not the result of too much bonded debt, but rather the government promising retirement and other post-employment benefits that aren’t affordable.

Bear in mind that direct debt of the State is exempt from any form of bankruptcy. Most believe that the State’s pension benefit obligations are on parity with states’ general obligation bonds and bankruptcy-exempt as well.

Let’s assume the State did find itself in a “no money to pay everyone” position and chose bond default as the relief value over failing to appropriate sufficient funds for pension funding and OEB costs.

Since neither GO bond holders nor pension fund creditors are subject to any bankruptcy court, who would win? Together they would be by far the State’s largest long-term contractual obligors. I think the State’s GOB investors would come out ahead because the State would not be able to borrow in its own name until it makes good on past due GO P&I.

Retired public employees might understand that it is better to negotiate a fair agreement than to demand one the employer can’t afford. This is the only scenario, however unlikely, where Illinois stands a change of pulling itself out of its deep financial hole.

Benchmark and rating agency ratings

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‘One Woman Wikileaks’ Behind Panama Papers Assassinated Days After Receiving Threats

Investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, who spearheaded the ‘Panama Papers’ offshore tax evasion leaks, was killed Monday by a car bomb while driving near her home village of Bidnija in northern Malta. The explosion destroyed her rented Peugot 108, throwing debris into a nearby field. Police have opened a murder inquiry, and the government of Malta has asked the U.S. FBI for assistance in the case.

Caruana Galizia – a popular blogger whose website often attracted more readers than the combined circulation of Malta’s newspapers, was referred to by Politico as a “one-woman Wikileaks,” as she became an enemy to those in both the establishment and the European underworld.

Most recently, her work spotlighted offshore companies linked to Malta’s prime minister, Joseph Muscat, and two of his closest aides, in conjunction with the sale of Maltese passports and cash received from the government of Azerbaijan.

The journalist had filed a complaint with police two weeks ago after receiving personal threats, according to local media reports.

The Mirror reports:

Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, who faced accusations of wrong-doing by Caruana Galizia earlier this year, denounced her killing.

He called it a “barbaric attack on press freedom”.

Muscat – who bullshitted his way through the press conference, added “our country deserves justice,” calling for national unity. “I will not rest until I see justice done in this case… “Everyone knows Caruana Galizia was a harsh critic of mine, both politically and personally, but nobody can justify this barbaric act in any way.”

“The only remedy for anyone who felt slandered was through the courts.”

Could that sound more like a guy covering up the assassination of a journalist about to wreck his career and send him to jail?

BBC reports that Caruana Galizia’s death comes four months after Mr Muscat’s Labour Party won an election he called early because of the blogger’s allegations linking him and his wife to the Panama Papers scandal.

The couple denied claims that they had used secret offshore bank accounts to hide payments from Azerbaijan’s ruling family.

A vigil was held in Caruana Galizia’s name Monday night

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NY Club Owner Asked To Deny Weinstein Masturbation Story, Instead Confirms Sticky Aftermath

One of the more bizarre allegations levied against accused rapist and disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein is that he masturbated into a potted plant in front of TV news anchor Lauren Sivan in 2007.

Sivan said Harvey lured her to the basement of Socialista, a Cuban restaurant in Greenwich Village, NY. Weinstein had invested in, where he tried to kiss her. When she refused his advances, Weinstein “simply began to pleasure himself” – asking the TV anchor to “just stand there and shut up” before he reportedly ejaculated into a potted plant.

From potted plant to cookware

When former owner of Socialista, Armin Amiri was reached for comment by The Hollywood Reporter, he says Weinstein’s lawyers asked him to deny the incident. Instead, Amiri confirmed that it happened – though he says Weinstein actually ejaculated into a cooking pot, not a potted plant, which was later found on the stove.

What I remember about this incident is that my sous chef came into my office, furious, telling me that ‘some fat fuck’ saying he’s an owner — he didn’t know the name — had come into the kitchen with a woman and shoved a $100 bill at him and told him to get out. It was like 1:30 in the morning and he’d been the only one still there. The chef told me he was going to quit.

I went to check things out and saw Harvey soon after, fixing his belt, behind the bar. I never saw the woman. My chef and I go to the kitchen. He picks up a pot that had been placed back on the stove. It had been defiled. It was so bizarre. We couldn’t believe it happened.

 

(full statement below)

So, accused rapist and all around sexual predator Harvey Weinstein allegedly lured local TV reporter Lauren Sivan into the basement of a restaurant he was an investor in, paid the chef $100 to go away – telling him he was ‘an owner,’ and jerked off into a pot when she rebuffed his advances – which he then placed back onto the stove before zipping up and walking out.

Not even close to OK Harvey…

I won’t go so far as to say Weinstein was engaging in a festive night of #SpiritCooking, which he’s at least one or two degrees of separation from given his close friendship with the Clintons – who are in turn friends with noted occultist Marina Abramovic (who Tony Podesta has given money to, who was invited to Hillary Clinton’s Campaign launch, whose art Hillary Clinton placed in US embassies around the world, who Hillary wanted to invite to a lunch event, who donated the maximum $2700 to Hillary’s campaign, and who said in a Reddit AMA (“Ask Me Anything”) that her spirit cooking dinners in private homes are not art.). While Harvey’s sperm receptacle was probably chosen out of practicality – the guy did leave semen, in a cooking pot, on a stove.

Not to mention, Harvey sure seems to love his highbrow bodily excretion art… or at least this is what the sight of a naked woman makes Weinstein think of: 

George has a dog

His NAME is Rocky

And he pees

And poops

WHEN I walk in th room

Sounds like Rocky doesn’t like Harvey very much.

(Amiri’s full statement to THR)

“Last week, after Lauren Sivan came forward with her awful story about Harvey Weinstein and the ‘potted plant’ at Socialista, he contacted me. We hadn’t spoken in years. He told me he needed a statement about his involvement in Socialista, which I said I’d be happy to provide, and I did, and then his lawyers said he needed one saying I hadn’t seen anything that night. I told them I knew something happened that night, I just hadn’t known what specifically. I couldn’t make a statement absolving him because when she came forward, my memory clicked.

Harvey had been an investor in Socialista and I had appeared in one of the films he distributed, ‘Factory Girl.’ What I remember about this incident is that my sous chef came into my office, furious, telling me that ‘some fat fuck’ saying he’s an owner — he didn’t know the name — had come into the kitchen with a woman and shoved a $100 bill at him and told him to get out. It was like 1:30 in the morning and he’d been the only one still there. The chef told me he was going to quit.

I went to check things out and saw Harvey soon after, fixing his belt, behind the bar. I never saw the woman. My chef and I go to the kitchen. He picks up a pot that had been placed back on the stove. It had been defiled. It was so bizarre. We couldn’t believe it happened.

I couldn’t prove any of it so I never confronted him. Harvey was an investor and it was around the time he married Georgina Chapman.

My heart goes out to all the brave women who have come forward. Once Ms. Sivan spoke out, and after being contacted by several media outlets, I’ve felt responsible to state what I remembered.”

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Amazon Murders America’s Oldest Brick And Mortar Hardware Store, Elwood Adams $AMZN

Jeff Bezos, 20 years and $85 billion later

Bald business tycoon and possible alien Jeff Bezos has slayed yet another mom and pop store on his quest for world domination – driving America’s oldest brick & mortar hardware store, Elwood Adams, into the abyss.

Established in 1782, the Worcester, Massachusetts store survived the Great Depression, both world wars, and fierce competition from the likes of Sears, Wal Mart and ACE Hardware – only to be bested by the internet.

“I think Amazon or the larger big-box stores have probably just been too much to compete against,” Worcester city manager Ed Augustus told CBS.

For many brick and mortars suffering similarly, it’s time to adapt or die. Many a horse n’ buggy-supply store undoubtedly met a similar fate when Henry Ford started selling automobiles on every corner. A century later, Kodak refused to go digital while Canon and Nikon and Sony drank their milkshake, and Blockbuster fell to cheaper and more convenient Dropbox and Netflix.

That said, with Amazon’s entry into freightdelivery and manufacturing with their ‘Amazon Basics‘ brand, one has to wonder how mom & pop can compete with a monopoly that controls its entire supply chain.

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UberEats Explosive Growth Accounts For Nearly 10 Pct Of Gross Bookings

Ride sharing company Uber has had a rocky 12 months – shedding top management positions, outsting its CEO, losing its license to operate in London, and battling a self-driving car lawsuit with Google over poaching trade secrets when they hired a former engineer from Google subsidiary Waymo.

And while the beleaguered Uber has been fighting uphill battles, one extremely bright spot for the company is its Uber Eats food delivery service app – which was launched two years ago, and accounted for nearly 10% of the company’s gross bookings worldwide in the 2nd quarter. The service is on track to exceed $3bn in gross sales this year, according to the Financial Times.

During the second quarter of this year, UberEats accounted for 8-10 per cent of global gross bookings, which implies $700m-$870m of gross turnover for the unit. Uber’s total gross bookings were $8.7bn for the period.
By comparison, GrubHub, the US food delivery company valued at $4.1bn, reported $880m of gross food sales during the second quarter.
While Uber still derives the majority of its revenues from its transportation services app, UberEats has been growing faster than the core business.

UberEats operates in 29 countries and is on track for a rapid expansion into nearly 200 cities by the end of this year. The service is competing with Amazon’s restaurant delivery service – also launched two years ago, as well as GrubHub, Postmates, DoorDash, and several other smaller companies. Facebook is even getting in on the action, launching a food delivery service last week.

That said, UberEats is still unprofitable in most areas, and faces low margins amidst high competition. One major advantage it has, however, is its fleet of over 2m Uber drivers around the world, who can carry passengers or food.

I can tell you from personal experience – our family has been ordering food delivery through various services for around two years. DoorDash and Postmates were our go-to for a long time, however Uber and Amazon came to our city and offered much lower prices for the actual delivery, as well as more professional drivers who don’t get lost. We were bait-n-switched into ‘Postmates Unlimited’ – $10 / month for free delivery – only to be hit with a brand new 20% fee on all orders. Never again.

The user interface on both the UberEats app and their website is the best by far, and their customer service is amazing.

So while Uber navigates choppy seas of red tape, lawsuits, and management turnover, their food-delivery service is sailing smoothly.

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