New Orleans PD Posted Snipers to Protect Contractors as They Tore Down Confederate Monument in Secret

http://www.renegadetribune.com/new-orleans-pd-posted-snipers-protect-contractors-tore-confederate-monument-secret/

 

By Daniel Lang of The Daily Sheeple

Ever since a racially motivated mass shooting of a church occurred in Charleston, South Carolina two years ago [Ren Ed: staged psyop], there’s been a widespread campaign to remove statues and flags that have Confederate origins. That campaign continues to this day in New Orleans, where multiple monuments to Confederate icons and events were ordered to be taken down in 2015, despite the protests of many white southerners who felt that their history was being demolished.

Now the city is following through on its promise to tear down these monuments. On April 24th, which is often celebrated as Confederate memorial day in many Southern states, the New Orleans city government removed an obelisk that commemorates the Battle of Liberty Place. The battle took place several years after the Civil War ended, and was fought by a paramilitary group called the Crescent City White League against local police forces, in an attempt to overthrow the Reconstruction Louisiana state government.

The monument was taken down unannounced and in the middle of the night, by contractors who wore masks to protect their identities. Protesters arrived on the scene at midnight once they heard that monument was being taken down, but by 1:30 AM they had dispersed. Police then set up barricades to keep anyone else away, and posted snipers on a nearby building.

The next day, the president of a group called the Monumental Task Committee, spoke out against the decision to tear down the monument. “This secretive removal under the cloak of darkness, outside of the public bid, masked contractors, and using unidentified money wreaks of atrocious government.”

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu defended his decision to take down the monument under these conditions, and claimed that “intimidation and threats by people who don’t want the statues down” forced him to do it at night and without notice. He called the obelisk a monument to “White supremacists” and proclaimed that “We will no longer allow the Confederacy to literally be put on a pedestal.”

The obelisk has since been placed in storage, where it will soon be joined by memorials to President Jefferson Davis, General Robert E. Lee and General P.G.T. Beauregard. Landrieu hasn’t said when the monuments will be removed, but said that they may be placed in a museum at a later date.


This article originally appeared on the The Daily Sheeple.

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Reform movement urges synagogues to protect immigrants facing deportation

(JTA) — The Reform movement called on its member synagogues to protected undocumented immigrants facing deportation from the United States.

The Union for Reform Judaism issued a resolution Friday recommending that its congregations provide shelter and legal assistance, as well as material, financial or educational support to at-risk immigrants.

Rabbi Jonah Pesner, who heads the movement’s policy arm, the Religious Action Center, implored synagogues not already aiding immigrants to start doing so.

“Today, we urge congregations to protect undocumented immigrants facing deportation by adopting a plan for providing resources, temporary shelter, legal assistance, or other forms of support to those in need,” Pesner said in a Friday statement. “There are Reform synagogues in communities nationwide that are already supporting and protecting undocumented immigrants facing deportation within their communities, and with this resolution we hope growing numbers will join this holy work.”

Also this week, the Union for Reform Judaism was among more than 50 co-sponsors of a Jewish rally for refugees in Washington, D.C. Nearly 800 people attended the rally organized by HIAS, a refugee resettlement group formerly known as the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society.

Donald Trump made ending illegal immigrants a central part of his presidential campaign, and as president he has directed the government to observe immigration laws more strictly, including deporting undocumented immigrants, even if they have not committed serious crimes.

Moment of Truth: Will Trump Protect Internet Privacy?

http://www.renegadetribune.com/moment-truth-will-trump-protect-internet-privacy/

 

By Torchy Blane of The New Nationalist

Corporate tracking of your online activity is about to get even more invasive. Republicans in a party-line vote in both Congress and the Senate passed a resolution that unwinds an Obama-era FCC regulation that currently requires home and mobile Internet service providers obtain permission to collect and sell users’ sensitive data by asking users to opt-in.

In sum, the resolution disbanding the FCC regulation would allow home and mobile Internet service providers such as Comcast and Verizon to:

  • Collect your browsing history
  • Alter your search results
  • Monitor your online activity
  • Sell your data to advertisers

Proponents of Internet privacy describe the scrapping of the FCC regulation as “a gift to the cable and telephone industry” because it “takes surveillance to a more intimate level.”

Essentially, a broadband service provider without permission can record every URL visited, see every time you get online, how much time you spend online, from where you got online and the emails you send and receive. It also allows providers to collect, store, share and sell your personal information, including health and financial info, as well as data entered in online forms, such as your phone number, social security number, credit card number and passwords.

Who could be in favor of such a thing? The majority of the Republicans Party, which has shown it has no libertarian strains left. Instead, it’s become a nasty blend of corporatism and the Cheka. The GOP voted 215 to 205 in favor in the House. Only 15 reps proved they weren’t in the pocket of telecoms by voting against it. The House roll call voting results can be viewed here.

These are the 50 Senators who just voted to gut rules & let ISPs sell your private data to marketers without permission.

Massachusetts Rep. Michael Capuano (D) on Tuesday summed it up best by shouting the following message across the isle:

What the heck are you thinking!? What is in your mind?! Why would you want to give out any of your personal information to a faceless corporation for the sole purpose of them selling it? Give me one good reason why Comcast should know what my mother’s medical problems are. … Last week I bought underwear on the Internet. Why should you know what size I take, or the color, or any of that information. When I was growing up, I thought one of the tenets of the Republican Party that I admired the most was privacy.”

Texas Rep. Michael Burgess (R) had the uncomfortable task of introducing the resolution to end online privacy to the House. Awkward! He meekly read from a sheet of paper no doubt delivered to him by some telecom lobbying group. His points, in sum, were:

  • The FCC regulation is “duplicative” of FTC rules (but the FTC has no enforcement mechanism)
  • The regulation provides an “unfair” advantage to Internet “edge companies,” such as Google, Facebook and Amazon, because they don’t have to request visitors opt-in to collect data
  • Service providers want a bigger piece of the ad-revenue pie enjoyed by companies like Google and Amazon (the nation’s largest ISP has a net worth of $150 billion; whereas a parent company of the nation’s largest Internet company is $500 billion)
  • Internet users are experiencing “opt-in fatigue”
  • Being prompted to opt-in is confusing for Internet users
  • Republicans want limited government
  • Undoing the FCC regulation would restore free-market competitiveness

Nobody came to the floor to back up Burgess and speak in favor of the resolution. Watch for yourself. The “debate” begins at 01:12:00.

 

The resolution is now on its way to the Oval Office, where Trump is expected to sign it. If he does, we predict his approval rating — now hovering at 36% — will take an additional hard hit. After all, more than 90% of voters say they value their Internet privacy.  Yep, for those still smokin’ the Trumpian hopium, this could be a harsh wake-up call. Approving the resolution would prove once and for all that he’s not the people’s president. We shall soon see …

What You Can Do

According to Market Watch:

Consumers can still circumvent surveillance by using a Virtual Private Network, or VPN. The tool loops user traffic through a private, encrypted network rather than sending it directly to the servers of your internet company, obscuring your browsing habits from the service provider. It’s notoriously difficult to rank the best VPN services, but Freedom and Private Internet Access (PIA) are often regarded as solid choices, according to security experts, and cost only a few dollars a month.

However, Falcon noted, many consumers lack the “technical sophistication” to use a VPN — while more than 25% of people around the globe use VPNs, only 16% of Americans have used one, and it’s still largely considered a “niche tool” outside of those who use them to connect to their office’s virtual desktop.


 

Feds Drop Charges in Child Porn Case to Protect Secrets

http://www.renegadetribune.com/feds-drop-charges-child-porn-case-protect-secrets/
By James Holbrooks of The Anti-Media

In a case that’s drawn criticism from multiple angles, last week federal prosecutors in Washington state dropped all charges against a man who allegedly downloaded child pornography from a website that was infiltrated, taken over, and allegedly even improved by the FBI.

The site, Playpen, operated on a platform designed to mask the real identities of its users, as Gizmodo explained Monday:

The site in question operated on the Tor network, a system used to anonymize web activity. The network makes use of a special web browser that conceals people’s identities and location by routing their internet connections through a complex series of computers and encrypting data in the process.”

The feds first targeted Playpen back in February of 2015. About a year later, the Washington Post ran a piece outlining the FBI’s methods in going after pedophiles. Using suspect “Pewter” as an example, the paper described how the feds’ operation worked:

The agency, with a warrant, surreptitiously placed computer code, or malware, on all computers that logged into the Playpen site. When Pewter connected, the malware exploited a flaw in his browser, forcing his computer to reveal its true Internet protocol address. From there, a subpoena to Comcast revealed his real name and address.”

The case, United States v. Jay Michaud, is one of around 200 that resulted from the FBI’s Playpen operation. Regardless of the manner in which the evidence against Michaud was collected — which drew staunch criticism — a lack of it wasn’t the reason the charges were dropped.

The reason, as was made clear in a court filing last Friday, is that the FBI would rather let Michaud walk free than reveal its tactics in open court.

The government must now choose between the disclosure of classified information and dismissal of its indictment,” federal prosecutor Annette Hayes explained in the filing. “Disclosure is not currently an option. Dismissal without prejudice leaves open the possibility that the government could bring new charges should there come a time within the statute of limitations when and (if) the government (should) be in a position to provide the requested discovery.”

That’s right. The federal government is letting a potential child predator back out onto the streets so it doesn’t have to reveal its law enforcement methods.

Some, such as Zachary Goldman, executive director of the Center on Law and Security, argue that the FBI supplying the court with its techniques would ostensibly weaken its ability to enforce the law.

The adjunct NYU professor told Gizmodo the fact the charges against Michaud are being dropped “doesn’t mean that the F.B.I.’s investigation was unjust or unjustified,” and that it actually proves the agency is “placing paramount importance on preserving the ability to use this technique in the future.”

Attorney Zachary Margulis-Ohnuma, who has represented some of the defendants in the Playpen investigation, disagrees. He says the FBI’s dragnet-style approach violated citizens’ Fourth Amendment protections against unlawful search and seizure.

“In law enforcement situations, some people have the mentality that ends justify the means,” Margulis-Ohnuma said, referring to the news about Michaud. “I do not think they would have done this in a drug case. They wouldn’t mail out drugs to hundreds of people. I think because child pornography is so heinous, they bend the rules.”

Many feel the government should have shut Playpen down the second it took it over. The feds, however, went in another direction. Once the FBI was in control, a federal attorney in North Carolina says, it made the site run better.

In a motion to have charges against a Playpen client thrown out, assistant defender Peter Adolf claimed the government improved the Playpen service in order to draw in more customers — in other words, people they were planning to arrest:

Indeed, government agents worked hard to upgrade the website’s capability to distribute large amounts of child pornography quickly and efficiently, resulting in more users receiving more child pornography faster than they ever did when the website was running ‘illegally.’”

Adolf claimed Playpen membership grew by 30 percent during the two weeks under FBI control and that average weekly visitors rose from around 11,000 to somewhere closer to 50,000. He also claims in the motion that during that two-week period, “approximately 200 videos, 9,000 images, and 13,000 links to child pornography were posted on the site.”


This article (Feds Drop Charges in Child Porn Case to Protect Secrets) was originally created and published by The Anti-Media and is re-posted here with permission. 

WikiLeaks aftermath: Can you protect your phone or TV from spying?

The publication by WikiLeaks of documents it says are from the CIA’s secret hacking program describe tools that can turn a world of increasingly networked, camera- and microphone-equipped devices into eavesdroppers.

Smart televisions and automobiles now have on-board computers and microphones, joining the ubiquitous smartphones, laptops and tablets that have had microphones and cameras as standard equipment for a decade. That the CIA has created tools to turn them into listening posts surprises no one in the security community.

In a statement to CBS News, the CIA said it had no comment on the authenticity of the documents or the status of any investigation into their source.

“CIA’s mission is to aggressively collect foreign intelligence overseas to protect America from terrorists, hostile nation states and other adversaries. It is CIA’s job to be innovative, cutting-edge, and the first line of defense in protecting this country from enemies abroad,” the agency said. “It is also important to note that CIA is legally prohibited from conducting electronic surveillance targeting individuals here at home, including our fellow Americans, and CIA does not do so.”

The agency also warned that the disclosure of hacking tools could allow America’s adversaries to take advantage of them, too.

The release of the documents by WikiLeaks has prompted many questions about potential vulnerabilities.

Q: How worried should consumers be?

A: The intrusion tools highlighted by the leak do not appear to be instruments of mass surveillance. So, it’s not as if everyone’s TV or high-tech vehicle is at risk.

“It’s unsurprising, and also somewhat reassuring, that these are tools that appear to be targeted at specific people’s (devices) by compromising the software on them — as opposed to tools that decrypt the encrypted traffic over the internet,” said Matt Blaze, a University of Pennsylvania computer scientist.

The exploits appear to emphasize targeted attacks, such as collecting keystrokes or silently activating a Samsung TV’s microphone while the set is turned off. In fact, many of the intrusion tools described in the documents are for delivery via “removable device.”

Q: What can be done to prevent a compromised internet-connected device from communicating with spies?

A: Not much if you don’t want to sacrifice the benefits of the device.

“Anything that is voice-activated or that has voice- and internet-connected functionality is susceptible to these types of attacks,” said Robert M. Lee, a former U.S. cyberwar operations officer and CEO of the cybersecurity company Dragos.

That includes smart TVs and voice-controlled information devices like the Amazon Echo, which can read news, play music, close the garage door and turn up the thermostat. An Amazon Echo was enlisted as a potential witness in an Arkansas murder case.

To ensure a connected device can’t spy on you, unplug it from the grid and the internet and remove the batteries, if that’s possible. Or perhaps don’t buy it, especially if you don’t especially require the networked features and the manufacturer hasn’t proven careful on security.

Security experts have found flaws in devices — like WiFi-enabled dolls — with embedded microphones and cameras.

Q: I use WhatsApp and Signal for voice and text communication because of their strong encryption. Can the exploits described in the WikiLeaks documents break them?

A: No. But exploits designed to infiltrate the operating system on your Android smartphone, iPhone, iPad or Windows-based computer can read your messages or listen in on conversations on the compromised device itself, though communications are encrypted in transit.

“The bad news is that platform exploits are very powerful,” Blaze tweeted. “The good news is that they have to target you in order to read your messages.”

Apple and Google, the company behind Android, have issued statements saying many of the alleged vulnerabilities have already been patched.

Blaze and other experts say reliably defending against a state-level adversary is all but impossible. And the CIA was planting microphones long before we became networked.

Q: I’m not a high-value target. But I still want to protect myself. How?

A: It may sound boring, but it’s vital: Keep all your operating systems patched and up-to-date, and don’t click links or open email attachments unless you are sure they are safe.

There will always be exploits of which antivirus companies are not aware until it’s too late. These are known as zero-day exploits because no patches are available and victims have zero time to prepare. The CIA, National Security Agency and plenty of other intelligence agencies purchase and develop them.

But they don’t come cheap. And most of us are hardly worth it.

FORMER MOSSAD CHIEF: MAYBE FLYNN WAS THROWN UNDER THE BUS TO PROTECT TRUMP

 

As the heat stays on the Trump administration about possible illegal communications with Russia, the resignation of National Security Council chief Michael Flynn last week and the proximity of his meetings with the Russian ambassador to his meetings with Mossad Director Yossi Cohen once again raised the question of whether Israeli intelligence has or could be leaked to Moscow.

In December and January, stories started to circulate in the media that Israel, the UK, Australia and others might be reconsidering whether they could fully openly share intelligence with the Trump administration when incoming US President Donald Trump, Flynn and others seemed so close to Russia.

 

On Thursday, The Wall Street Journal reported that some US intelligence officials are withholding certain intelligence from Trump because of continued concerns it will be compromised or leaked.

Most US and Israeli officials interview by The Jerusalem Post in January and early February dismissed the concerns. But there have been developments since then. Flynn resigned on Tuesday – stepping down for having spoken to Russian officials about removing sanctions before Trump entered office as well as for lying to other members of the administration about what he discussed with the Russians.

But not only were the discussions’ content, the lies and the resignation new, but it turns out that Flynn met with the Russian ambassador on December 29, sandwiched just after and just before secret meetings with Cohen in which the sides presumably exchanged key intelligence.

The Post once again interviewed former Israeli intelligence officials on the issue, to see if their confidence in Trump and his team, or more specifically in Flynn, was shaken by the latest developments.

Former Mossad director Danny Yatom came out strongly, saying he knew Flynn personally and affirming that he would not have leaked Israeli intelligence information to Russia even if he may have violated certain US norms by discussing sanctions relief to Russia before Trump had taken office.

Asked about the possibility of a leak, Yatom said, “I don’t think so, from my personal evaluation. Flynn was very experienced. No one thinks he was a Russian spy. He was experienced and smart enough…

maybe he made a mistake even with no intention, but that can happen to anyone. I don’t think we need to worry that our intelligence will go to Russia.”

He speculated that Flynn may have even “been thrown under the bus,” echoing some theories that Flynn’s discussion of sanctions with Russian officials may have been under orders from Trump, but that at this point he may have “fallen on his sword” to protect the US president from fallout.

Yatom said that Flynn’s dismissal should not have a huge impact on Israeli-US intelligence cooperation, since Trump has just come into office and top officials tend to have more power and influence after serving with a new leader for at least a year. This allows time to gain his confidence and authorization for various policies.

Yatom broke down the process of relevant information exchanges in terms of protecting Israeli intelligence sources into two pieces.

The first he said, concerned information meant exclusively for the US, which goes directly to the CIA or the National Security Agency. “Only after it gets to the NSA does it get to the president. The CIA and NSA don’t need to tell the president and others at the White House who is the source of the intelligence they received – they don’t need to know,” he said.

He explained that if the US president does not know the source of the intelligence, then there is no danger to Israel’s sources and no danger to sharing the intelligence.

The second he described as “intelligence we intentionally want to give to Russia. We give them a paraphrase. We don’t give them the actual original material which would let them analyze potential sources of the material. We give intelligence to Russia, for example, to convince them that Iran is not standing by its obligations.”

“Some of the facts we present to Russia directly and some through the US, but we do it in a smart way so they can’t figure out the source,” of the intelligence, said Yatom.

Other former intelligence officials indicated that they could not be sure one way or another about the fate of any Israeli intelligence given to Flynn, with one official saying, “He was a US general, I hope he was not a traitor.”

One former official said that Israel has no choice in these situations about whether to share intelligence with the US, noting “We also receive. We can’t say yes and then no” about Israel asking for the US to share information and then refusing to share or refusing to share in an equal manner.

He indicated that the intelligence sharing between Cohen and Flynn was part of regular working intelligence relations and could have included some of the most important secrets that there are.

Overall, Yatom said he was most worried by reports that US intelligence officials did not trust Trump enough to give him the full picture.

Yatom did not necessarily buy into all of the various theories about Trump and Russia, but he said some of the allegations at the very least required investigation from an internal US perspective, as if some of the allegations were true it would be “a nightmare scenario.”
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Vitamin D May Protect Against Respiratory Infections

Vitamin D supplements may help reduce people’s risk of developing acute respiratory infections, particularly among those with vitamin D deficiency, suggests a new meta-analysis published online February 15 in the BMJ.

However, some experts caution that these findings should not alter clinical practice, as the absolute benefit is relatively small.

“Vitamin D supplementation resulted in a statistically significant reduction in the proportion of participants experiencing at least one acute respiratory tract infection,” write Adrian R. Martineau, MD, PhD, from the Queen Mary University of London, United Kingdom, and colleagues.

“Patients who were very vitamin D deficient and those not receiving bolus doses experienced the most benefit.”

According to the authors, acute respiratory infections are a substantial cause of illness and death, and in 2013, they accounted for one tenth of ambulatory and emergency department visits in the United States and approximately 2.65 million deaths worldwide.

Although some observational studies have linked patients’ low vitamin D levels with greater susceptibility to acute respiratory infections, including colds and influenza, clinical trials investigating the protective effect of vitamin D supplementation have produced conflicting results.

Dr Martineau and colleagues therefore conducted a systematic review and individual participant data meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials involving vitamin D supplementation. The individual participant data meta-analysis could potentially identify factors to help explain the discrepancy in results among previous studies, the authors say.

Their analysis included data on 10,933 participants (aged 0 – 95 years) from 25 randomized controlled trials.

Overall, they found that vitamin D supplementation was associated with a 12% reduction in the proportion of participants who experienced at least one acute respiratory infection (adjusted odds ratio, 0.88; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.81 – 0.96; P for heterogeneity < .001) compared with no supplementation.

They also conducted subgroup analyses to explore reasons for the variable results in previous studies.

These analyses showed a protective effect of vitamin D supplementation in participants who received daily or weekly vitamin D supplements without additional large bolus doses (adjusted odds ratio, 0.81; CI, 0.72 to 0.91), but not in those who received one or more large bolus doses (adjusted odds ratio, 0.97; CI, 0.86 to 1.10; P for interaction = .05).

In addition, the protective effect was greater in participants with severe vitamin D deficiency (baseline blood 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels <25 nmol/L; adjusted odds ratio, 0.30; 95% CI, 0.17 – 0.53) than among those with baseline 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels at least 25 nmol/L (adjusted odds ratio, 0.75; 95% CI, 0.60 – 0.95; P for interaction = .006).

Vitamin D supplementation was also safe, the authors say, and did not affect the proportion of participants who experienced at least one serious adverse event of any cause (adjusted odds ratio, 0.98; CI, 0.80 – 1.20; P = .83).

“Our results add to the body of evidence supporting the introduction of public health measures such as food fortification to improve vitamin D status, particularly in settings where profound vitamin D deficiency is common,” Dr Martineau and colleagues conclude.

However, in an accompanying editorial, Mark J. Bolland, MD, PhD, from the University of Auckland, New Zealand, and Alison Avenell, MD, from the University of Aberdeen, United Kingdom, question whether these findings represent a significant new development or a hypothesis that needs to be tested in adequately powered randomized controlled trials.

Although the study showed that vitamin D supplementation resulted in a 12% reduction in the odds of an acute respiratory infection, the editorialists stress that these findings should be regarded cautiously.

In particular, because the primary result involves only a 2% absolute risk reduction in the proportion of participants who experienced at least one acute respiratory tract infection, the editorialists do not think the general population would consider this sufficient justification to take vitamin D supplements.

Dr Bolland and Dr Avenell therefore conclude that the results should not change clinical practice.

“We think that they should be viewed as hypothesis generating only, requiring confirmation in well designed, adequately powered, randomised controlled trials,” they conclude.

This study was funded by the National Institute for Health Research. Dr Bolland has received funding from the Health Research Council of New Zealand. Both editorialists have published randomized controlled trials and systematic reviews in the field of vitamin D. The authors and editorialists have disclosed no other relevant financial relationships.

U.S. tanks roll into Germany to protect against potential Russian invasion

NORTHERN GERMANY — U.S. Tanks rolled into Germany this weekend.

The deployment — which also includes 3,500 U.S. Troops — is to protect Eastern Europe against a potential Russian invasion.

In the dock area of the German city of Bremerhaven all around is American military hardware just off the boat — everything from Humvees to tanks.

The official name for this display of military muscle is Operation Atlantic Resolve.

Its purpose is to reassure America’s nervous European allies that the U.S. military will stand with them against any aggressive moves by Russia. Moves, like the 2014 invasion of Crimea, when Russian troops arrived in what had been Ukraine — and seized it for the Kremlin.

America’s response is a decision to stop the draw down of U.S. troops in Europe, and reverse it — in the first buildup since the end of the Cold War.

“We intend to reassure all those here in Europe that we are committed to peace and security, and to send a signal to anybody else who would differ with that, that that’s not gonna work,” said Lt. General Timothy Ray, deputy commander of the U.S.’s European command.

That anybody else would be Vladimir Putin, who is on record as saying its stupid and unrealistic to think that Russia would attack anyone.

But just in case, Operation Atlantic Resolve is big and very visible deterrent.

Over the next week all the equipment will leave Germany and be sent to Poland, and from there, be deployed across Eastern Europe.

With Jewish Pedophiles seeking sanctuary in Israel, one way parents can protect kids

Two alleged Jewish pedophiles fleeing possible arrest in their home countries have moved to Israel in the past month, a Jewish child rights group said Friday, adding to the growing list of those who have turned Israel into a haven for sex criminals.

According to Jewish Community Watch, at least 34 pedophiles in their sex offender database have moved to Israel in the past decade under the Law of Return, one of the Israel’s founding pieces of legislation, which guarantees every Jew a place in the country. An additional 12 pedophiles have moved to countries other than Israel.

Childrens’ rights activists contend there is a dark loophole in the Law of Return that allows Jewish pedophiles to effectively flee court-mandated supervision in their home countries and move to Israel with a clean slate.

See related article Diaspora pedophiles increasingly use Israel as ‘a haven,’ activists charge

In a grassroots effort to deal with the problem, activists and concerned parents are starting to raise awareness on social media, issuing “warnings” via text message, Twitter and Facebook to parents in neighborhoods where convicted or alleged pedophiles are moving.

But regardless of grassroots activism or lobbying for increased supervision, the most potent weapon towards protecting minors, activists agree, is also the simplest: talk to your children about the issue.

“People always ask me when is a good age to start talking about this issue,” said Manny Waks, a child sex abuse survivor and founder of Kol V’Oz, an international advocacy organization against child sex abuse in the Jewish community.

“There are age-appropriate resources from ages two or three. They’re not necessarily using those words, but they’re talking about things like having a healthy body image, body safety tips and communication,” he said. “It’s about creating that environment where the child feels secure and safe to disclose anything.”

Manny Waks testifies before the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. (photo credit: Courtesy Manny Waks)

The Center for Jewish Family Life in New York publishes one such resource, in the form of a book to help parents discuss the matter with their kids called “Let’s Stay Safe!” The book is available in Yiddish, Hebrew and English, tailored for Haredi and national religious/Modern Orthodox communities in Israel and the United States.

Rabbi Yakov Horowitz, founder of the Center for Jewish Family life, said he is also hoping to adapt the books to Israel’s secular and Arab communities.

“It’s for parents to sit on the couch and read to their children, because research shows that parents have to be comfortable [talking about the subject],” said Horowitz. If parents are scared or uncomfortable, the child will absorb those feelings and will be unable to internalize the lesson, he added.

“The idea is it’s not really about talking about the actual sex,” said Horowitz, who also narrates a video on the same subject. “It’s really about getting children acclimated to the idea that they have their own personal space and they own it and they are supposed to defend it if someone makes them uncomfortable. They should walk away and tell their parents. It’s about basic safety rules, good touching and bad touching. Some touching is OK, but not in your private space, and no one has the right to [make others] feel uncomfortable.”

In 2010, families in Beit Shemesh founded the NGO Magen, after they felt completely abandoned by the religious institutions when abuse was uncovered at those institutions. Magen also run activities for parents to guide them in this conversation. Their “Chug Bayit,” or home course, is “a crash course for parents in protecting their kids from sexual abuse,” and is geared towards English-speaking families.

Waks said even if parents are “completely unable” to have this conversation with their kids, simply telling people in their community that they had the conversation will give their children an extra layer of protection. “Pedophiles look for vulnerable targets, and if they know your child has been trained, they’ll groom a more simple target,” he said.

Illustrative photo of children reading (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

He pointed out that children are unlikely to directly disclose abuse, but they may hint about spending time alone with an adult and connecting that to a physical complaint like “having a tummy ache.”

The way someone first responds when a victim says they have been abused is vitally important, Waks added. A victim who feels their claim is being ignored or belittled may never find the courage to speak of it again, internalizing the guilt and shame.

In previous decades, the emphasis was on teaching children “Stranger Danger!” But Waks said that 80% of abuse happens in a “family environment,” with someone the child knows, including family members, neighbors, babysitters, or other people who are known and trusted by the family.

Parents should also be aware that predators often “groom” their victims over a period of time, identifying things that the child lacks, including attention, love, or material goods. Parents should look into the situation if an adult suddenly starts spending a lot of time with their child or brings a lot of gifts.

But most predators will be able to slip through a parent’s warning system, especially in large families in Israel, where children have a lot more autonomy than American children and range free most of the day, Horowitz said. Which makes the conversation about abuse still the single best tool for protecting children.

“There is nothing that should be frightening [about this conversation],” said Horowitz. “Quite the contrary, it should be empowering to kids. Certain three-year-olds know, they have things that belong to them, so we’re saying their body also belongs to them.”

Obama Races to Protect His Achievements From Trump

http://www.nbcnews.com/politics/white-house/obama-races-protect-his-achievements-trump-n683771?cid=eml_nnn_20161115

 

From the Iran nuclear deal to the Paris climate change agreement to Obamacare, President Obama and his team plan to spend the next two months aggressively defending and implementing these policies, despite President-Elect Donald Trump’s campaign promises to end them once he takes office.

“To unravel a deal that is working and keeping Iran from getting a nuclear weapon would be hard to explain,” President Obama said on Monday, in his first press conference since Trump’s election victory.

“It becomes more difficult to undo something that is working,” Obama added.

The Obama administration argues that the election results should not prevent the sitting president from governing in his final weeks in office. And this approach could help Obama further entrench these policies and complicate Trump’s plans to unwind them.

Related: Despite ‘Concerns,’ Obama Hopeful for Trump Presidency

Obama, as he visits Greece, Germany and Peru this week and meets with a number of world leaders on his final foreign trip as president, is expected to encourage the international community to continue implementation of both the Paris and Iran agreements.

“We obviously believe in the importance of the Iran deal, which had significantly rolled back Iran’s nuclear program and averts yet another conflict in the Middle East. We believe in the importance of the Paris agreement, which encompasses almost every country in the world and offers an opportunity to fight climate change. So these are issues where our views are well known. We will run through the tape with the implementation of those policies,” Ben Rhodes, a deputy national security adviser for Obama told reporters in a press call.

Related: How Trump Could Erase Key Parts of Obama’s Legacy

Obamacare enrollment started on Nov. 1 and will end on Jan. 31, about 11 days after Obama leaves office. The president’s team wants to get 13.8 million people to enroll or re-enroll over the next few months.

“We’re all in,” said Marjorie Connolly, a spokesman at the Department of Health and Human Services, referring to Affordable Care Act enrollment.

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More than 100,000 people enrolled for Obamacare coverage on Nov. 9, the day after the election.

“There was a day or two last week where I was as despondent over the election results as anyone, and I was deeply concerned that Trump being elected—combined with his promise to join the GOP in wiping out the ACA—would cause people to abandon the currently ongoing 2017 Open Enrollment Period,” said Charles Gaba, a Democrat and ACA supporter who has closely tracked enrollment under the law since its inception.

Related: Obamacare As We Know it May be Done For

He added, “Instead, the exact opposite appears to be happening…or, at the very least, the election results don’t seem to be keeping anyone from signing up.”

Cementing the ACA

Trump has softened some his anti-ACA rhetoric in the days since his victory, and a higher enrollment in the law could make it more politically challenging for Republicans to repeal it.

But for now, Obama the administration must enroll people in an environment in which congressional Republicans and Trump are suggesting they will repeal Obamacare as soon as possible after Trump assumes office.

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Clinton aides likely would have used the last 11 days (Jan. 20 to Jan. 31) of the Obamacare enrollment period to make a big push for sign-ups. Trump’s administration is unlikely to do that.

Related: Iran Rejects Idea That Trump Could Scrap Nuke Deal

On the Iran agreement and climate change, Obama and his team are also trying to campaign for these ideas, both publicly and privately with the president-elect. Trump, in interviews, has suggested that Obama urged him to leave in place parts of Obamacare during the pair’s one-on-one meeting on Thursday.

In a speech on Monday, Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell argued that Obamacare is “now woven into the fabric of our nation.”

Keeping in Tact International Agreements

Obama aides are aware they have to convince Trump to essentially backtrack from what he promised during the campaign.

“We certainly know the positions that were taken throughout the course of the campaign,” Rhodes said. “We will, of course, fully continue to implement our commitments under the Iran deal and under the Paris agreement. We will fully brief the incoming team on those agreements. And you all have heard us repeatedly discuss the benefits of those agreements on American national security.”

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But he added, “We recognize that the incoming administration will make their own determinations about those policies. ”

Trying to protect their policies, Obama and his aides are at times projecting onto Trump views that there is little sign that he holds.

Related: How Trump Can Gut Obama’s National Security Policies on Day One

“The president will offer his reassurance to our allies that… historically, the United States of America, even across political parties, has been committed to not just upholding but also seeking to strengthen the alliances that we have with countries around the world,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters in previewing Obama’s international trip.

“The view of Democratic and Republican presidents has been that the robust health of those alliances makes America safer. And presidents in both parties have been committed to investing in those alliances, and that certainly is what’s happened in the past,” he added.

Trump, during his campaign, sharply questioned many international agreements and alliances, calling NATO “obsolete.”

Image: NATO reacts after the USA elections
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg delivers remarks after the US elections at the alliance’s headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, on Nov. 9, 2016. STEPHANIE LECOCQ / EPA

Obama aides say another goal is the continued battle to retake control of the city of Mosul, Iraq and more broadly fight ISIS. Trump is likely to continue the Obama’s administration policy of fighting ISIS.

Trump’s Victory Permanently Ends Some of Obama’s Hopes

To be sure, Obama will have fewer achievements in his final two months than if Hillary Clinton had won. Some Senate Republicans had suggested Obama nominee Merrick Garland could be confirmed for the Supreme Court in the post-election session of Congress, an idea which was premised on the expectation Clinton would win the election. Obama’s team had some hopes of getting congressional approval of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

The TPP and the Garland nomination are now effectively dead.

“President Trump will make a selection, and the Senate will act on it expeditiously,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said of the seat on the U.S. Supreme Court that has been vacant since Antonia Scalia died in February.

Funding for the federal agencies expires on Dec. 9. Republicans are expected to seek a budget deal with Obama that only extends that funding for a few months, allowing the Republican majority and Trump to shape a more conservative fiscal plan