Chemical Weapons Inspector Gives Rare Testimony On Douma Before UN Security Council

Chemical Weapons Inspector Gives Rare Testimony On Douma Before UN Security Council

Authored by Dave DeCamp via The Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity,

The UN Security Council met in New York on Monday to discuss the investigation by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) into an alleged chemical attack that was said to have taken place in April 2018 in Douma, Syria. The alleged attack was blamed on the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and the US, UK, and France responded with an airstrike against Syrian government targets.

A former OPCW employee spoke to the UN Security Council and accused OPCW management of ignoring and suppressing findings of the investigative team that was deployed to Douma.



Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons engineer and inspector Ian Henderson.

The OPCW released their final report on the Douma attack in March 2019, the report concluded that a chlorine chemical attack likely occurred. Two cylinders were found at two separate locations in Douma that were said to be the source of the chlorine gas. The idea that these cylinders were dropped from an aircraft is central to the allegation that the Syrian government was responsible.

An unreleased OPCW engineering assessment was leaked to the Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media and published in May 2019. The report was prepared by Ian Henderson, a long-time OPCW employee who was tasked with analyzing the cylinders. Henderson’s assessment concluded, “observations at the scene of the two locations, together with subsequent analysis, suggest that there is a higher probability that both cylinders were manually placed at those two locations rather than being delivered from aircraft.” Henderson’s findings were excluded from the final OPCW report.

Since November 2019, WikiLeaks has released multiple OPCW documents and internal emails that not only support Henderson’s claims but also deal with discrepancies in levels of chlorine found in the area of the alleged attack. Another OPCW employee that goes by the pseudonym “Alex” spoke with journalist Jonathan Steele more about the traces of chlorine. Other leaks address inconsistencies between the victims observed symptoms and a chlorine gas attack.

Ian Henderson addressed the UN Security Council by video on Monday. Henderson presented himself as a non-political professional who is concerned with the integrity of the organization he worked with for many years.

Henderson described himself as a “former OPCW inspection team leader who served for about 12 years.” Henderson said he was invited by the Chinese Minister Counselor to the UN to attend the Security Council meeting, but due to “unforeseen circumstances” with Visa waiver status, he was unable to attend. Henderson provided the council with a written statement, along with his video statement.

Henderson said, “I hold the OPCW in the highest regard, as well as the professionalism of the staff members that work there, the organization is not broken I must stress that. However, the concern I have does relate to some specific management practices in certain sensitive missions. The concern of course relates to the FFM investigation into the alleged chemical attack on the 7th of April in Douma, Syria.”

Henderson explained that there were two teams deployed to investigate the alleged attack, “One team, which I joined shortly after the start of field deployments, was to Douma in Syria, the other team deployed to Country X.” WikiLeaks, and others, have speculated that “Country X” is Turkey, since OPCW investigators were deployed there to interview alleged witnesses.

Most of the information in Henderson’s statement has been revealed in the documents released by WikiLeaks over the past few months. One of the main gripes Henderson had was that the team only deployed to “Country X” had the most say in the final report, while the team deployed to Douma was largely ignored.

Henderson said, “The Findings in the FFM (Fact Finding Mission) report were contradictory, were a complete turnaround with what the team had understood collectively, during and after the Douma deployments.”

The OPCW published their interim report on the investigation in July 2018. WikiLeaks released the original version of the interim report last month, which drew a vastly different conclusion than the one the OPCW decided to publish. Henderson said, “By the time of the release of the interim report in July 2018, we had serious misgivings that a chemical attack had occurred.”

Henderson went on, “The (final FFM) report did not make clear what new findings facts, information, data, or analysis in the fields of witness testimony, toxicology studies, chemical analysis, engineering and/or ballistic studies had resulted in a complete turnaround in the situation from what was understood by the majority of the team, and the entire Douma team in July 2018.”

“In my case, I had followed up with a further six months of engineering and ballistics studies into the cylinders. The results of which had provided further support for the view that there had not been a chemical attack. This needs to be properly resolved through the wringers of science and engineering. In my situation, it’s not a political debate.”

Henderson added a closing comment and said he led a “highly intrusive” investigation into the Barzah Syrian Scientific Research Center (SSRC), a laboratory outside of Damascus that was suspected of producing chemical weapons. The Barzah SSRC was the target of the coalition airstrike in April 2018 against the Syrian government in retaliation for the alleged Douma attack. Henderson said he wrote two reports on the SSRC before the attack and one report after. But Henderson said that “is another story all together,” and went on to end his video statement.

After Henderson’s comments were aired to the Security Council, the representative for the Russian Federation mentioned that they invited the OPCW Director-General, and other OPCW officials to attend the meeting, but they chose not to participate.

Much of the blame for the lack of pressure on OPCW management after all these leaks, lies on the media outlets that refuse to report on it. Bellingcat – the investigative firm that receives grants from the US government-funded National Endowment for Democracy – bears most of the blame, since many mainstream outlets parrot what they say on Syria. Just a few days before this Security Council meeting, Bellingcat published a smear job on Ian Henderson.

As of the writing of this story, the only major news outlets that covered this Security Council meeting are RT and Sputnik, so of course, it will be dismissed by many as Russian propaganda. Eliot Higgins, the founder of Bellingcat, even accused Henderson of appearing at the UN on “behalf of the Russians.” But through his work, his words, and his modesty, Henderson proves to be a sincere and honest professional who is concerned about a supposedly neutral international body being used to promote a false narrative.


Tyler Durden

Tue, 01/21/2020 – 22:05

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Netanyahu Rival Benny Gantz Calls For Annexation Of Jordan Valley Ahead Of Election

Netanyahu Rival Benny Gantz Calls For Annexation Of Jordan Valley Ahead Of Election

Candidates are trying to woo the Israeli right ahead of the country’s upcoming March 2 legislative elctions for the 23rd Knesset — the third round in less than a year — after in prior April and September 2019 elections parties continually failed to form the next government.  

Toward that end Blue and White coalition chairman Benny Gantz evoked controversy Tuesday with a shock declaration that he’ll annex the Jordan Valley if he becomes prime minister in the next election. The centrist lawmaker did this while on tour of the region which lies at the eastern edge of the occupied West Bank and which makes up some 20% of the Palestinian territory. 

Gantz called it “an inseparable part of the State of Israel” and the Jewish state’s “eastern defensive wall in any future scenario.” But right wing politicians, especially his top rival Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu scoffed, saying everyone sees through what is essentially a desperate “bluff” to peel off more support from across the aisle in what’s coalesced on each side into a stalemated standoff. 



Blue and White chairman Benny Gantz in prior visit to Jordan Valley settlement in the West Bank, AFP via Getty. 

Gantz vowed: “After the elections, we will work to apply [Israeli] sovereignty on the Jordan Valley, [and] we will do this in a nationally agreed upon manner and in coordination with the international community.”

And on the left and within the political alliance of the main Arab-majority parties, the declaration was slammed as irresponsible and destructive to democracy. The Arab unity group, Joint List, called it “a pathetic attempt to gather a few votes on the right,” and noted that any attempt of Israel to annex the Jordan Valley would “destroy any chance democracy and peace.”

Netanyahu pounced in an effort to either call the bluff or pressure his rival to move immediately on the controversial initiative, urging Gantz to right away implement the annexation through the Knesset. 

“Benny, I expect your answer by this evening, unless [Joint List MK] Ahmad Tibi vetoes you,” said Netanyahu. Gantz hit back on Twitter by referencing the embattled prime minister’s recent indictment and looming legal battle: “first let us discuss [your] immunity, later we will manage claiming sovereignty [in the Jordan valley],” he wrote.

Despite this latest declaration of desiring to annex what the international community recognizes as 20% of Palestinian West Bank territory, in reality such a move would prove explosive both on the ground among Palestinians and surrounding Arab states, and within international politics. 



Map via Deutsche Welle 

On this note, America’s potentially weighing in on these issues could have huge impact on the March elections. Multiple recent media reports have suggested the US administration is set to release the much-hyped ‘Trump Mideast peace plan’ just ahead of the key election.

The Blue and White coalition has recently said such a move would constitute an “interference” in the election, especially given it’s expected to given Netanyahu a major boost, considering it’s likely to line up with his vision and he can chalk it as a ‘political win’. 


Tyler Durden

Tue, 01/21/2020 – 21:45

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“Sit This One Out”: FBI Slammed for Social Media Shoutout To MLK

“Sit This One Out”: FBI Slammed for Social Media Shoutout To MLK

Authored by Jessica Corbett via CommonDreams.org,

After the FBI took to Twitter Monday with a message that allegedly aimed to honor “the life and work” of Martin Luther King Jr., a chorus of critics promptly urged the bureau to “sit this one out,” pointing to its history of spying on King and trying to convince the civil rights leader to kill himself.

Each year on the national holiday dedicated to King, progressives criticize and work to counter the whitewashed public narrative of a man who, particularly in the years leading up to his April 1968 assassination, passionately condemned the “evils” of capitalism, militarism, and racism.



A mugshot of Martin Luther King Jr. was taken following his 1963 arrest in Birmingham, Alabama. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

The FBI, during both the Obama and Trump administrations, has provoked a wave of criticism for posting shoutouts to King on social media, given the bureau’s past treatment of him. Monday was no different.

Writer and radio host Richard “RJ” Eskow — who detailed King’s radical vision and activism in a piece for the People’s Action blog Monday — shared the FBI’s 2020 tweet dedicated to MLK along with his own interpretation.

“FBI, translated: Of all the people we have wiretapped, blackmailed, and tried to drive to their deaths through suicide, there are none we think more highly of than Dr. King,” Eskow tweeted.

Some critics expressed anger and disbelief. Rewire.News senior legal analyst Imani Gandy wrote in response to the FBI, “You’ve got to be fucking kidding me.”

Journalist David Corn posed “a sincere question,” asking: “Has the FBI ever apologized to King’s family for wiretapping King, blackmailing him, and trying to get him to commit suicide?”

Others posted an unsigned letter from 1964 that the FBI, then under the direction of J. Edgar Hoover, sent to King in an attempt to use evidence of his extramarital affairs to compel him to kill himself.

The unredacted letter was published by Yale University American history professor Beverly Gage in the New York Times in 2014.

As Vox reported in 2018:

According to Enemies, journalist Tim Weiner’s history of the FBI, [the bureau’s domestic intelligence chief William Sullivan] “had a package of the King sex tapes prepared by the FBI’s lab technicians,” and sent it along with this letter to King’s home. The package was opened by King’s wife.

ACLU social media manager Emily Patterson declared on Twitter that “the FBI social media manager continues to prove we really, really need to do a better job of teaching kids history in this country.”

Acknowledging the bureau’s track record of posting about MLK, Patterson added, “Do y’all think there’s anyone over at FBI marketing who at least *tries* to get them not to do this annually?”

The official ACLU account warned that “if we let the government whitewash history, we risk letting abuses repeat themselves.”

The civil liberties group linked to a piece that Kade Crockford, director of the Technology for Liberty Program at the ACLU of Massachusetts, published in Rolling Stone on MLK Day last year—detailing “Hoover’s obsession with King,” which Crockford concluded “bordered on the fanatical,” and the consequences of that obsession, including the letter.

Crawford also noted that “the FBI’s surveillance of black Americans isn’t just history. [In 2018], we learned the FBI has been spying on black activists, labeling them ‘Black Identity Extremists.’ The feds also use powers obtained through national security laws like the Patriot Act to target people in the racially biased drug war.”

“More disturbing: The FBI that spied on King and today classifies Black civil rights activists as ‘extremists,'” Crockford continued, “is now partnering with Big Tech to amass unprecedented surveillance powers that history has taught us will be used to target communities of color, religious minorities, dissidents, and immigrants.”

FBI director Christopher Wray testified before Congress in July 2019 that the bureau has stopped using the term “black identity extremism.” However, some groups and individuals on Monday shared critiques of the FBI’s current practices alongside denunciations of the bureau’s past behavior.

The London-based advocacy group CAGE, which works to empower communities impacted by the War on Terror, tweeted Monday that the FBI still tries “to suppress dissent” and uses “dirty tactics that would make Edgar Hoover proud. But [is] happy now to co-opt MLK to try to cover up the above.”

CAGE also shared the FBI’s letter to King and, like many other critics, referenced COINTELPRO, the domestic counterintelligence program under which the FBI spied on King and many other activists and organizations, including the Black Panthers and protesters of the Vietnam War.


Tyler Durden

Tue, 01/21/2020 – 21:25

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Is CCPA short for “Law of Unintended Consequences”?

This week’s episode includes an interview with Bruce Schneier about his recent op-ed on privacy. Bruce and I are both dubious about the current media trope that facial recognition technology was spawned by the Antichrist. He notes that what we are really worried about is a lot bigger than facial recognition, and he offers ways in which the law could address that deeper worry. I’m less optimistic about our ability to write or enforce laws designed to restrict use of personal information , which after all gets cheaper to collect, to correlate, and to store every year. It’s a good, civilized exchange.

The News Roundup is a little truncated due to a technical failure. (It was a glitch in Zencastr for those of you keeping score, and I definitely am). As a result, we lost Nick Weaver’s audio for about half the program, including a hammer and tongs debate with me over Apple’s fight with the FBI. (But never fear, opportunities for that debate come by about as often as the Red Line comes to Dupont Circle.)

That said, it’s still a feisty episode. It begins with Michael Vatis teeing off on the California Consumer Privacy Act, the worst-drafted law he’s worked with in over 30 years of practice – and not much better on policy grounds.

We then return to Illinois’s recent law regulating AI hiring interviews systems like HireVue, and sparks fly again as Mark MacCarthy and I mix it up over allegations of AI “bias.” (I’m a skeptic, to put it mildly.)

Matthew Heiman covers the surprisingly thin claim that the GRU has phished its way into Burisma Holdings. And Nick comments on (yet another!) Italian surveillance tech firm getting into trouble by misusing its capabilities.

Not-so-Big Tech has begun asking Congress for antitrust help against Big Tech. Mark is skeptical; I’m a little less so.

Matthew and I compliment frequent contributor David Kris on his speed in delivering an amicus report on the FBI’s Horowitz reforms—between one Cyberlaw Podcast episode and the next – and before his Congressional critics can even finish a letter questioning his appointment. One lingering, and possibly salutary, effect of the kerfuffle is that some good questions are now being directed at the FISA Court itself, asking why it didn’t do a better job of policing the Carter Page excesses.

Mark reports on an unusual effort by Europe’s chief privacy officer to exempt academic researchers from strict compliance with data protections laws. Privacy law, as I’ve said for years, is all about privileging the powerful, and academics qualify, so of course they deserve a data protection exemption.

In quick hits, Matthew notes that Erdogan has bowed to the Turkish Supreme Court and reinstated access to Wikipedia. He also reports on the U.S. Department of the Interior permanently grounding its drone fleet over spying concerns. Nick chuckles over China’s APT 40 getting doxxed, and we both give credit to NSA’s Anne Neuberger for disclosing and enabling the patch by Microsoft of a major vulnerability in the Crypt32 library. Finally, I predict that Clearview will be sued for violating terms of service to obtain the facial recognition data it uses to provide identification services to law enforcement. Because privacy law is all about protecting the privileged, and crime victims don’t qualify.

Download the 296th Episode (mp3).

You can subscribe to The Cyberlaw Podcast using iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Pocket Casts, or our RSS feed!

As always, The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Be sure to engage with @stewartbaker on Twitter. Send your questions, comments, and suggestions for topics or interviewees to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com. Remember: If your suggested guest appears on the show, we will send you a highly coveted Cyberlaw Podcast mug!

The views expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and do not reflect the opinions of our institutions, clients, spouses, families, or pets

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Lawyers Claim Some Weinstein Accusers “Bragged About Having Sex With Him”

Lawyers Claim Some Weinstein Accusers “Bragged About Having Sex With Him”

President Trump’s impeachment isn’t the only major trial that Americans will be following in January.

Now that the jury has been picked (sadly, Gigi Hadid didn’t make the cut, much to the disappointment of the New York Post) and the defense has succeeded in limiting the number of young, white women on the jury to just 2, it’s time for what some are hyping as the next trial of the century.

Harvey Weinstein, the Hollywood studio head and kingmaker whose fall from grace inspired the #MeToo movement, is facing a criminal trial in Manhattan on charges of rape and assault. I convicted, it’s extremely likely that the 67-year-old Weinstein will be sentenced to life in prison, while civil suits and penalties eat away whatever is left of his fortune.

With opening statements about to begin next week, Weinstein’s legal team has started laying out its defense in the press.

According to ABC News, Weinstein’s team is pushing to include a trove of “intimate email correspondence” between the former mogul and his accusers – emails that they say would paint a wildly different picture of their relationships with the defendant.

Some of the emails even show that some of the very same women accusing Weinstein of rape once bragged to friends about being in a sexual relationship with the mogul. Given Weinstein’s stature in the industry, many of his accusers are women who wanted or needed a favor from him, even if it was merely a small role in one of his films.

Though Weinstein’s reputation has been thoroughly sullied in a way that makes it impossible to portray him as a victim (except inside his own head), the lawyers could argue that this evidence weakens the witnesses’ credibility, suggesting that they might have reluctantly consented to Weinstein’s advances.

Conveniently, Weinstein’s health has apparently deteriorated over the last two years – or at least that’s what his lawyers want the public to believe.

The trial is moving ahead in Manhattan as Weinstein’s lawyers have so far failed in their push to change the venue outside of New York City, where hatred for Weinstein is likely at its highest. 

Considering the number of celebrities and the circus like atmosphere that engulfs everything in NYC, Weinstein’s lawyers argued that he would never received a fair trial. But the judge rejected those claims.

In December, he underwent a bilateral laminectomy, a back surgery that was allegedly vital to repair damage from a one-car crash. Weinstein said he swerved off the road trying to avoid a deer. That must have been some deer.


Tyler Durden

Tue, 01/21/2020 – 21:05

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Migrants Waiting For Dems To Win Election Because “It Would Make Things Easier To Get In”

Migrants Waiting For Dems To Win Election Because “It Would Make Things Easier To Get In”

Authored by Steve Watson via Summit News,

Migrants in central America say they are waiting for President Trump to be voted out of office and for Democrats to reopen the borders so they can cross illegally into the US without the fear that authorities will ‘throw them back.’

The Center for Immigration Studies reports that many migrants are sitting in wait in Mexico, praying for a Trump defeat.


“I’ll wait for that because it would make things easier to get in.” Honduran Katherine Cabrera told researchers, adding “I want Trump out!”

Another told CIS that many are not attempting to illegally gain entry to the country “until Trump leaves,” because the prevailing expectation is that “right now, the Americans will throw you back” to Mexico.

“A lot of people in El Salvador believe he (Trump) is the reason all this is happening, that he is selfish and cruel and doing everything he can to make us suffer,” another migrant commented, adding “But once Trump is defeated and the Democrats take over, things are going to get better.”

Other groups of migrants are attempting to cross in greater numbers, believing that it will give them a better chance of evading capture:

On Monday, Thousands of migrants stormed a bridge over the Suchiate River from Guatemala to Mexico, attempting and failing to move further north.

The scenes were chaotic with Mexican National Guard troops confronting the migrants:



The CIS reports that apprehensions of illegal crossers are down from about 144,000 last May to 40,000 in December, owing to new reinforcements on the US side of the border, and the asylum agreement made by the US government with Mexican authorities that allows migrants to wait in Mexico.

Further reports suggest that President Trump wants to divert billions in funding to the border wall:

Meanwhile, Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden, the “moderate” opposition to Trump, declared Monday that he will seek to end all illegal immigration detention “across the board”.


Tyler Durden

Tue, 01/21/2020 – 20:45

via ZeroHedge News https://ift.tt/2NOqAMc Tyler Durden

Is CCPA short for “Law of Unintended Consequences”?

This week’s episode includes an interview with Bruce Schneier about his recent op-ed on privacy. Bruce and I are both dubious about the current media trope that facial recognition technology was spawned by the Antichrist. He notes that what we are really worried about is a lot bigger than facial recognition, and he offers ways in which the law could address that deeper worry. I’m less optimistic about our ability to write or enforce laws designed to restrict use of personal information , which after all gets cheaper to collect, to correlate, and to store every year. It’s a good, civilized exchange.

The News Roundup is a little truncated due to a technical failure. (It was a glitch in Zencastr for those of you keeping score, and I definitely am). As a result, we lost Nick Weaver’s audio for about half the program, including a hammer and tongs debate with me over Apple’s fight with the FBI. (But never fear, opportunities for that debate come by about as often as the Red Line comes to Dupont Circle.)

That said, it’s still a feisty episode. It begins with Michael Vatis teeing off on the California Consumer Privacy Act, the worst-drafted law he’s worked with in over 30 years of practice – and not much better on policy grounds.

We then return to Illinois’s recent law regulating AI hiring interviews systems like HireVue, and sparks fly again as Mark MacCarthy and I mix it up over allegations of AI “bias.” (I’m a skeptic, to put it mildly.)

Matthew Heiman covers the surprisingly thin claim that the GRU has phished its way into Burisma Holdings. And Nick comments on (yet another!) Italian surveillance tech firm getting into trouble by misusing its capabilities.

Not-so-Big Tech has begun asking Congress for antitrust help against Big Tech. Mark is skeptical; I’m a little less so.

Matthew and I compliment frequent contributor David Kris on his speed in delivering an amicus report on the FBI’s Horowitz reforms—between one Cyberlaw Podcast episode and the next – and before his Congressional critics can even finish a letter questioning his appointment. One lingering, and possibly salutary, effect of the kerfuffle is that some good questions are now being directed at the FISA Court itself, asking why it didn’t do a better job of policing the Carter Page excesses.

Mark reports on an unusual effort by Europe’s chief privacy officer to exempt academic researchers from strict compliance with data protections laws. Privacy law, as I’ve said for years, is all about privileging the powerful, and academics qualify, so of course they deserve a data protection exemption.

In quick hits, Matthew notes that Erdogan has bowed to the Turkish Supreme Court and reinstated access to Wikipedia. He also reports on the U.S. Department of the Interior permanently grounding its drone fleet over spying concerns. Nick chuckles over China’s APT 40 getting doxxed, and we both give credit to NSA’s Anne Neuberger for disclosing and enabling the patch by Microsoft of a major vulnerability in the Crypt32 library. Finally, I predict that Clearview will be sued for violating terms of service to obtain the facial recognition data it uses to provide identification services to law enforcement. Because privacy law is all about protecting the privileged, and crime victims don’t qualify.

Download the 296th Episode (mp3).

You can subscribe to The Cyberlaw Podcast using iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Pocket Casts, or our RSS feed!

As always, The Cyberlaw Podcast is open to feedback. Be sure to engage with @stewartbaker on Twitter. Send your questions, comments, and suggestions for topics or interviewees to CyberlawPodcast@steptoe.com. Remember: If your suggested guest appears on the show, we will send you a highly coveted Cyberlaw Podcast mug!

The views expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and do not reflect the opinions of our institutions, clients, spouses, families, or pets

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In Response To “Completely False” NHTSA Unintended Acceleration Petition, Tesla Blames Short Sellers

In Response To “Completely False” NHTSA Unintended Acceleration Petition, Tesla Blames Short Sellers

Just days ago we reported that the NHTSA was evaluating a petition claiming that 500,000 Tesla vehicles are subject to “unintended acceleration” incidents. In response to the petition, the NHTSA said it was going to be considering an investigation, but there has been no final word on any action (or lack thereof) yet.

But over the weekend, we were finally treated to Tesla’s perfunctory and predictable “official” response to the news, which has of course been to blame short sellers.

In a blog post posted on Monday titled “There is no ‘unintended acceleration’ in Tesla vehicles“, Tesla claims that the problem is just a figment of everyone’s imagination and that evil short sellers are to blame.

“This petition is completely false and was brought by a Tesla short-seller,” the post says. “We investigate every single incident where the driver alleges to us that their vehicle accelerated contrary to their input, and in every case where we had the vehicle’s data, we confirmed that the car operated as designed. In other words, the car accelerates if, and only if, the driver told it to do so, and it slows or stops when the driver applies the brake.”

Well that makes us feel better…

The company also claims that Autopilot sensors (because they’ve worked so well) and company owned and managed data about its vehicles support its defense.

Unique to Tesla, we also use the Autopilot sensor suite to help distinguish potential pedal misapplications and cut torque to mitigate or prevent accidents when we’re confident the driver’s input was unintentional. Each system is independent and records data, so we can examine exactly what happened.

But then, despite trying to place the blame on shorts, Tesla seems to backhandedly admit that there are customer complaints about the very same issue.

The blog post concludes: “We are transparent with NHTSA, and routinely review customer complaints of unintended acceleration with them. Over the past several years, we discussed with NHTSA the majority of the complaints alleged in the petition. In every case we reviewed with them, the data proved the vehicle functioned properly.”

Hopefully, the next body we hear from with regard to this petition is the NHTSA.

Although, judging by Tesla’s past success in swiping away extremely serious issues and sweeping them under the rug of blaming short sellers without addressing key issues, we’re not optimistic about the outcome. 

The NHTSA petition news came just days after we reported that the NTSB would be investigating a fatal Tesla Model X crash in February. 


Tyler Durden

Tue, 01/21/2020 – 20:25

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Ron Paul: How Expansive Is FBI Spying?

Ron Paul: How Expansive Is FBI Spying?

Authored by Ron Paul via The Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity,

Cato Institute Research Fellow Patrick Eddington recently filed several Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to find out if the Federal Bureau of Investigation ever conducted surveillance of several organizations dealing with government policy, including my Campaign for Liberty. Based on the FBI’s response, Campaign for Liberty and other organizations, including the Cato institute and the Reason Foundation, may have been subjected to FBI surveillance or other data collection.

I say “may have been” because the FBI gave Mr. Eddington a “Glomar response” to his FOIA requests pertaining to these organizations. A Glomar response is where an agency says it can “neither confirm nor deny” involvement in a particular activity. Glomar was a salvage ship the Central Intelligence Agency used to recover a sunken Soviet submarine in the 1970s. In response to a FOIA request by Rolling Stone magazine, the CIA claimed that just confirming or denying the Glomar’s involvement in the salvage operation would somehow damage national security. A federal court agreed with the agency, giving federal bureaucrats, and even local police departments, a new way to avoid giving direct answers.

The Glomar response means these organizations may have been, and may still be, subjected to federal surveillance. As Mr. Eddington told Reason magazine, “We know for a fact that Glomar invocations have been used to conceal actual, ongoing activities, and we also know that they’re not passing out Glomars like candy.”

Protecting the right of individuals to join together in groups to influence government policy is at the very heart of the First Amendment. Therefore, the FBI subjecting such groups to surveillance can violate the constitutional rights of everyone involved with the groups.

The FBI has a long history of targeting Americans whose political beliefs and activities threaten the FBI’s power or the power of influential politicians. The then-named Bureau of Investigation participated in the crackdown on people suspected of being communists in the post-World War I “Red Scare.” The anti-communist crackdown was headed by a young agent named J. Edgar Hoover who went on to become FBI director, a position he held until his death. Hoover kept and expanded his power by using the FBI to collect blackmail material on people including politicians.

In the 1930s and 1940s, the FBI spied on supporters of the America First movement, including several Congress members. Two of the most famous examples of FBI targeting individuals based on their political activities are the harassment of Martin Luther King Jr. and the COINTELPRO program. COINTELPRO was an organized effort to spy on and actively disrupt “subversive” organizations, including antiwar groups.

COINTELPRO officially ended in the 1970s. However, the FBI still targets individuals and organizations it considers “subversive,” including antiwar groups and citizen militias.

Congress must hold hearings to determine if the FBI is currently using unconstitutional methods to “monitor” any organizations based on their beliefs. Congress must then take whatever steps necessary to ensure that no Americans are ever again targeted for surveillance because of their political beliefs and activities.


Tyler Durden

Tue, 01/21/2020 – 20:05

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US Informs Haftar: Resume Libya’s Blocked Oil Exports “Immediately”

US Informs Haftar: Resume Libya’s Blocked Oil Exports “Immediately”

Days after Benghazi-based General Khalifa Haftar and his rebel LNA forces blocked all oil under their control from leaving Libyan ports (the LNA currently controls territory which includes some 90% of the nation’s oil facilities), the United States has demanded the immediate resumption of oil exports.

“The suspension of National Oil Corporation (NOC) operations risks exacerbating the humanitarian emergency in Libya and inflicting further needless suffering on the Libyan people,” the US embassy in Tripoli said in a Twitter statement Tuesday.

“NOC operations should resume immediately,” it said. Haftar had previously issued the order, which immediately resulted in condemnations from some Western capitals, on Saturday just ahead of the Berlin peace conference on Libya. The action blocked several key export terminals, notably Brega, Ras Lanuf and Al-Sidra ports.



Oil terminal file image, via Al Jazeera.

Bloomberg reported Saturday that pro-Haftar foces “blocked oil exports at ports under his control, slashing output by more than half and posing a potential setback for an international conference on Sunday that aims to broker an end to a civil war in the OPEC nation.”

The move is seen as aimed at protesting Turkey’s increased military intervention in the conflict which has raged for much of the past two years. Turkey has recently sent both national troops and Syrian ‘rebel’ mercenaries to defend the Tripoli Government of National Accord (GNA). Haftar has in turn declared any Turkish vessel or aircraft a target to be destroyed. 

The oil stoppage also has military implications on the ground, given the GNA’s national army relies on the country’s oil revenue to purchase weapons via Tripoli’s central bank.

Libya’s Tripoli-based National Oil Company said Monday: “The storage capacity of these ports is limited and the NOC will be obliged to put a complete halt to crude production once maximum capacity has been reached.” 

S&P Global Platts has warned the country’s oil sector could enter a “tailspin”

Libya’s oil sector could go into a tailspin with two-thirds of its total crude oil production of around 1.20 million b/d at risk after its key oil ports were suspended Saturday by the Libyan National Army…

Haftar has vowed repeatedly to not give up his military offensive until he has control of the Libyan capital, despite fighting for months staying at a relative stalemate, and despite multiple failed ceasefire efforts. His dramatic move to cut off the nation’s vital oil lifeline was widely interpreted additionally as an effort toward gaining “veto” leverage over any ‘ceasefire deal’ attempt in Berlin at the start of this week.

The LNA’s response to the US urging that oil exports must resume “immediately” will be interesting. Although for years Washington and the State Department has “officially” recognized the UN-backed government in Tripoli, President Trump starting last Spring verbalized his support for Gen. Haftar, who Trump said has “secured the oil” and is a stabilizing force. 

Oil exports make up over 90% of Libya’s national revenue and as the below 2019 Stratfor map demonstrates, Haftar has long held the majority of the nation’s oil fields.

It should also be noted that Haftar has been described by many analysts as “the CIA’s man in Libya” — given he spent a couple decades living in exile a mere few minutes from CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia during Gaddafi’s rule.

An April 2019 White House statement which described a phone call between Haftar and Trump said: the president “recognized Field Marshal Haftar’s significant role in fighting terrorism and securing Libya’s oil resources, and the two discussed a shared vision for Libya’s transition to a stable, democratic political system.”


Tyler Durden

Tue, 01/21/2020 – 19:45

via ZeroHedge News https://ift.tt/2NN9rmc Tyler Durden