North American News


Oxford University gives women more time to pass exams

23rd Jan 2018

Oxford University exam times were increased in a bid to improve the low scores of women, it has emerged.

Students taking maths and computer science examinations in the summer of 2017 were given an extra 15 minutes to complete their papers, after dons ruled that “female candidates might be more likely to be adversely affected by time pressure”. There was no change to the length or difficulty of the questions.

It was the first time such steps had been taken. In previous years, the percentage of male students awarded first class degrees was double that of women and in 2016 the board of examiners suggested that the department make changes to improve women’s grades.

However, despite the intention being to lessen gender discrepancies, the main effect of the time increase appears to have been an increase in the number of 2:1s overall, with 2:2 figures falling. Men continued to be awarded more first class degrees than women in the two subjects.

A university spokesman defended the changes as “academically demanding and fair”, and noted that while 39 per cent of female mathematicians achieved first class degrees compared to 47 per cent of men, women’s scores had improved year on year.

The lengthening of exams was welcomed by some female students. Antonia Siu, Undergraduate Representative of Oxford Women in Computer Science, said: “I am uneasy about schemes to favour one gender over another.

 

 

source/read more:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/2018/01/22/oxford-university-gives-women-time-pass-exams/amp/?__twitter_impression=true

Al Gore blames record U.S. cold on climate change — then meteorologist drops truth bomb on him

9th Jan 2018

Al Gore took to his Twitter account last week to blame the recent record cold snap on climate change. But he was sharply rebuked with facts by a famed meteorologist.

What did Gore say?

Gore tweeted the link to an article stating that bitter cold is exactly what should be expected from man-made climate change.

The article was written by Dr. Michael Mann, a professor of atmospheric science at Penn State University. Mann argues that heavy lake effect snows this year near the Great Lakes are a sign of global warming because the warming temperatures cause the lakes to stay warmer longer therefore producing more snow. He also argued that despite the recent cold snap, the U.S. has seen many more days of very above normal temperatures than very below normal temperatures over the past several years.

He also argued that despite the central and eastern U.S. being locked into an arctic cold pattern for more than a week, the western U.S. and much of the rest of the world has been warm. Mann also blamed last week’s major east coast snowstorm on warmer-than-normal ocean water.

These allegations, however, are more narrative and opinion rather than fact, according to meteorologist Joe Bastardi.

What did Bastardi say?

Bastardi challenged whether the recent cold has anything to do with climate change, saying cold in the 1980s was colder than this year’s recent cold snap and it was never connected to climate change or global warming.

Bastardi also questioned whether or not the upcoming thaw is connected to climate change.

After four tweets, Bastardi concluded by chiding Gore and other climate change alarmists about pursuing narrative over truth…

 

 

 

 

source/read more: http://www.theblaze.com/news/2018/01/07/al-gore-blames-record-u-s-cold-on-climate-change-then-meteorologist-drops-truth-bomb-on-him?

Are toxic chemicals at Air Force bases leading to cancer, low birth weight?

9th Jan 2018

For 25 years, Dan Cruz delivered mail at the Peterson Air Force Base and drank the water. Then came cancer – thyroid, prostate, testicular – he said never before seen in his family.

“I’m the only one that’s been diagnosed with cancer not once, not twice, but three times. People on my route… cancer has come upon them and sometimes stage 4,” Cruz told CBS News correspondent Barry Petersen.

The cause could be firefighting foam used since the 1970s at Air Force bases and airports across the country, something meant to save lives that may have harmed them instead. The foam contains highly fluorinated chemicals, known as PFCs. It is suspected of causing some cancers and underweight births.

Mica Ullum has lived near Peterson Air Force Base for a quarter century, in a town where the foam has contaminated the water. Sadie, one of three children born to Mica, was born premature, weighing a mere one pound six ounces. She spent 94 days in the neonatal intensive care unit. Mica’s four other pregnancies ended in miscarriage or death.

“With what you know now, do you think any of this has to do with the effects, potential effects, of what’s in the water?” Petersen asked.

“Possibly, yeah,” Ullum responded.

“Why?”

“Because if you continue to pump poison into your body, something has to respond,” Ullum said.

Peterson is one of 190 Air Force bases where PFCs may have leached in the ground and surrounding areas. One study based on EPA’s test results shows as many as six million people may be exposed nationwide to PFCs in their drinking water at higher levels than the EPA now deems safe.

But the more than 60,000 people in the communities near Peterson Air Force Base may be America’s hardest-hit. The EPA said anything over 70-parts per trillion could be dangerous. Some water they tested here had over 1,300 parts per trillion. Additionally, according to a proposed class action lawsuit filed against the foam manufacturers, it has caused serious medical conditions in hundreds of residents.

One foam manufacturing company, 3M, said there is no merit in the health claims, adding they “sold these products with instructions regarding their safe use and disposal…acted responsibly at all times…and will vigorously defend this lawsuit.”

But the Air Force has responded, spending more than $4 million to provide bottled water and filtration systems. Air Force firefighters now train with water, and for real fires it uses a different fluorinated foam, still containing another type of PFCs, but believed to be safer.

But some of those who have studied the new foam say the Air Force may have traded one evil for another.

“Our chemical regulation system makes us all guinea pigs… because chemicals are assumed safe until proven guilty and they go out into the world… and we are exposed to them with no health information,” said Arlene Blum, researcher at the University of California Berkeley…

 

 

source/read more; https://www.cbsnews.com/news/air-force-base-epa-toxic-chemicals-pfc-cancer-low-birth-weight/

Former N.S.A. Employee Pleads Guilty to Taking Classified Information

2nd Dec 2017

A former National Security Agency employee admitted on Friday that he had illegally taken from the agency classified documents believed to have subsequently been stolen from his home computer by hackers working for Russian intelligence.

Nghia H. Pho, 67, of Ellicott City, Md., pleaded guilty to one count of willful retention of national defense information, an offense that carries a possible 10-year sentence. Prosecutors agreed not to seek more than eight years, however, and Mr. Pho’s attorney, Robert C. Bonsib, will be free to ask for a more lenient sentence. He remains free while awaiting sentencing on April 6.

Mr. Pho had been charged in secret, though some news reports had given a limited description of the case. Officials unsealed the charges on Friday, resolving the long-running mystery of the defendant’s identity.

Mr. Pho, who worked as a software developer for the N.S.A., was born in Vietnam but is a naturalized United States citizen. Prosecutors withheld from the public many details of his government work and of the criminal case against him, which is linked to a continuing investigation of Russian hacking.

But in court documents, prosecutors did disclose that he worked from 2006 to 2016 for the N.S.A.’s “Tailored Access Operations.” The unit, whose name has now been changed to Computer Network Operations, is the N.S.A.’s fastest-growing component. Its hackers break into foreign computer networks to gather intelligence, often leaving behind software implants that continue to collect documents and other data and forward it to the agency for months or

Prosecutors said that from 2010 until March 2015, Mr. Pho began removing classified documents and writings. He kept those materials, some in digital form, at his home in Maryland, according to prosecutors.

It appears he was charged in March 2015.

Mr. Pho is one of three N.S.A. workers to be charged in the past two years with mishandling classified information, a dismal record for an agency that is responsible for some of the government’s most carefully guarded secrets.

The leaks have come to light as investigators scramble to trace the source of an even worse breach of N.S.A. security: the public release of the agency’s hacking tools by a still-unidentified group calling itself the Shadow Brokers. Some of those tools have been subsequently used for “ransomware” attacks that shut down or disrupted businesses, hospitals, railways and other enterprises around the world this year.

Government officials, who would speak of the classified details of the case only on condition of anonymity, said that Mr. Pho took the classified documents home to help him rewrite his resume. But he had installed on his home computer antivirus software made by Kaspersky Lab, a top Russian software company, and Russian hackers are believed to have exploited the software to steal the documents, the officials said.

It is not clear whether anyone at Kaspersky Lab was aware of the document theft. The company has acknowledged finding N.S.A. hacking software on a customer’s computer and removing it, but says the material was subsequently destroyed. It has denied that it works with Russian intelligence.

The sensitivity of the case was evident on Friday, when one courtroom official described the charges against Mr. Pho as “super-sealed” before the hearing. The aggressive hacking of American targets by the Russian government, including the Democratic National Committee during last year’s election campaign, is a high-priority concern for the United States, and forensic information from Mr. Pho’s computer might provide useful clues.

 

 

source/read more;https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/01/us/politics/nsa-nghia-pho-classified-information-stolen-guilty.html

Professors Not Happy That Jordan Peterson Wants To Warn Students About ‘Radical Left’ Classes

12 Nov2017

Professor Jordan Peterson, the University of Toronto instructor who won’t use “gender neutral” pronouns, says students should know what they’re getting into when taking courses from hard-core leftist faculty. That’s not sitting well with some of Peterson’s colleagues who say identifying their politics amounts to harassment.

Peterson told the Toronto Star on Friday that he has discussed the idea of creating an “information website” that would forewarn students that a course they’ve selected has an ideological axe to grind with “radical left social justice-oriented courses.”

“I’m not happy with the fact that a huge chunk of the humanities and the social sciences have turned into an indoctrination cult. So I thought, well, the students need to be informed. Because they don’t have the information necessary to make an informed choice, and this would help them make an informed choice,” Peterson told the Star.

The professor says he’s surprised that there would be objections raised now when he hasn’t even discussed the website for over three months. What Peterson envisioned at that time was a reference of “courses and professors and disciplines that should be avoided” for students not interested in left-wing social justice teaching.

But that isn’t sitting well with the U of T facility. Faculty association president Cynthia Messenger issued a statement on Friday that explained how her group “has taken the unprecedented step of asking that the entire executive meet with the provost’s office to express our deep concern about this threat to our members and to the academic mission of the university.”

Peterson was unfazed by the “unprecedented” action, telling the Star that if “what the faculty association did today was an attempt to intimidate me into not doing it, you can be bloody sure that they’ve failed completely.”

 

 

source/read more: http://dailycaller.com/2017/11/11/professors-not-happy-that-jordan-peterson-wants-to-warn-students-about-radical-left-classes/

Once taboo, socialism finds comrades among US millennials

11th Nov 2017

While working as an electrician Lee Carter received a literal shock, through one hand and across the chest, that jolted him into politics and turned him on to what was a dirty word in America for nearly a century: socialism.

His struggle to obtain compensation for the workplace injury inspired him to run for office, and this week Carter ousted a top Republican incumbent to nab a spot in Virginia’s House of Delegates, becoming one of over a dozen unabashed socialists newly elected to US state and municipal seats one year after Donald Trump took the White House.

The 31-year-old former Marine is part of a growing cadre of Americans, particularly millennials, pledging their allegiance to the Democratic Socialists of America, the nation’s fastest growing leftist group that was originally founded in 1982 as a foothold for Marxists.

Riding the wave of democratic socialist Bernie Sanders’s spirited White House bid against primary rival Hillary Clinton, the organization is helping propel socialism out of the shadows.

In the years prior to the Sanders campaign, the DSA’s number of card-carrying members hovered around 6,500 — and has nearly quintupled since 2016’s presidential race to more than 30,000.

Its median age has dropped from about 60 to 35, according to organizers, some of whom have playfully referred to the surge among youth as a “socialist baby boom.”

Dismayed by Trump’s rise to power Jacquelyn Smith in January joined the DSA, which has chapters in nearly every US state. And at just 22 years old, she managed Carter’s victorious campaign.

Organizing as a DSA member means “I am challenging the root of the problem and not the symptoms,” she told AFP, speaking at a recent convention of the organization’s local Washington branch.

“I focus a lot less on challenging Trump and a lot more on challenging why he got there in the first place,” she said, citing forces including economic inequality and white supremacist movements.

Today Smith said millennials — a generation that grew up during the 2008 financial crisis — are eager for socialism, to “embrace the ideology and really fight with it publicly.”

Under her management DSA members spent months canvassing for Carter in Virginia’s 50th district, about an hour’s drive west of the nation’s capital, knocking on more than 9,000 doors in the final four days.

Those grassroots efforts helped propel Carter, who ran as a socialist on the Democratic party

Despite their current momentum far-left groups like the DSA remain on the fringes of American politics, working within a two-party system that leaves little space for outsiders.

The political group is not a party, and has nowhere near the clout of sister movements elsewhere such as Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party in Britain, or Syriza in Greece and Podemos in Spain.

But socialism has not had a voice this loud in American politics for decades.

Though she would not yet classify the wave of leftist activism as a mass movement, politics professor Cathy Schneider of American University said the DSA’s growth is significant in that it indicates voters shocked by Trumpism are also increasingly disillusioned with the Democratic Party.

“There is a sector of American society who feel that the political parties do not address their concerns,” she said. “The Democratic Socialists have said we have an answer for that.”

Their current strategy does not necessarily include third-party politics; instead the DSA is fielding socialist candidates for elected office using whichever ballot line makes winning likely, generally that of the Democrats.

And though many members got involved in the aftermath of the Sanders campaign, organizers now say their goal is to build a movement not connected to any single politician but instead based on core issues like universal health care, public investment in education and housing and bolstering labor protections.

Schneider also noted that socialism’s “alarming reputation” appears to be fading, no small development in a country that lived through the Red Scare era of anti-communist propaganda.

“People no longer associate socialism with dictatorships in the USSR and China,” she said.

 

 

 

 

source:https://www.yahoo.com/news/once-taboo-socialism-finds-comrades-among-us-millennials-051949477.html

The rise and fall of the Podestas, Washington’s powerful political brother act

For more than 30 years, the Podesta name was gold in Washington.

Tony Podesta was a respected lobbyist and a fundraiser for Democratic candidates. His younger brother, John, served as Bill Clinton’s White House chief of staff and as senior counselor to Barack Obama. Together, they were the most powerful brother act in liberal politics since the Kennedys.

Then John became chairman of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, putting the Podestas in the crosshairs of the alt-right. In the middle of the campaign, John’s hacked emails led to “Pizzagate,” a bizarre conspiracy theory about a child sex ring. Finally, and against all expectations, he lost the bitterly fought election.

Now Tony’s work for a Ukrainian nonprofit group is part of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s Russia investigation, prompting the powerful lobbyist to resign from the Podesta Group, the firm he founded three decades ago.

“I didn’t leave with a sense of tragedy or regret about anything I had done,” Tony said nonchalantly in an interview last week. “I thought it was better for the clients and better for the people in the office for me to get out of there.”

His bravado notwithstanding, it’s been a really bad year for the Podesta brothers, even by the standards of political hand-to-hand combat.

They’ve become a particular fixation for President Trump, who has repeatedly attacked the two in tweets and interviews. On the eve of his current trip to Asia, he told reporters he was “disappointed” that the Justice Department was not investigating Hillary Clinton and her advisers instead of him: “Honestly they should be looking at the Democrats, they should be looking at Podesta and all of that dishonesty.”

Meanwhile, Fox News is calling the Podesta brothers “central figures” in the Mueller probe.

One might expect Tony Podesta to be angry — and apprehensive — about all this, and maybe he is. But at the moment, he’s smiling and cracking jokes.

“There was a period when I was at People for the American Way in which I was the devil, and this is another period in which I am the devil,” he says. “I don’t retreat from my values or my life because Tucker Carlson makes s— up.”

And he’s laughing off the president.

“If you tweet ‘Podesta’ you get some applause from people who don’t know who we are or what we do,” he says. “He has his phone. And I have my integrity.”

Tony Podesta, now 74, worked outside politics as a lobbyist and fundraiser. (Tony Powell)

John, now 68, made his name on the inside, working for the Clinton and Obama administrations. (Kristoffer Tripplaar/For The Washington Post)

For all the talk about the Podestas being Washington insiders — and they absolutely are — the irony is that they grew up as far from elite as possible.

They were born in working-class Chicago to two first-generation Americans: their father Italian, their mother Greek, the family living in a “two flat,” with their aunt, uncle and cousins in the apartment upstairs. Their father worked factory jobs and lost sleep worrying about the $11,000 he borrowed to buy the apartment, Tony says. Tony attended the University of Illinois at Chicago; John went to Knox College.

From this background, colored by the Vietnam War and the political upheavals of the 1960s and ’70s, emerged two men with a shared passion for liberal issues and a weakness for losing candidates: They worked for Gene McCarthy, Edmund Muskie, George McGovern and many more. “We weren’t doing it to go to the White House,” Tony says. “We were doing it because we believed in what we were doing.”

The two made their way to Washington, where they both attended law school at Georgetown University, worked briefly in government, then founded the Podesta Group in 1987. Their paths quickly diverged: Tony working outside politics, lobbying, fundraising and serving as president of People for the American Way, the progressive advocacy group founded by TV producer Norman Lear; John on the inside, in the Clinton and Obama administrations and as head of the Center for American Progress, the premier liberal think tank during the George W. Bush years.

The two brothers, who are very close, became powerbrokers on a first-name basis with every important figure in American progressive politics, and many across the aisle. Every call they made was answered, every door they knocked on opened.

Tony, 74, is expansive, expressive, a happy warrior. “He’s partisan in the traditional way, which is rapidly disappearing in Washington,” says longtime Republican lobbyist Wayne Berman. “He understands the value of having friends on the other side. It’s a happy partisanship, not a bitter partisanship.”

He wears red Prada loafers and owns one of the capital’s most impressive modern art collections, which serves as the backdrop for the frequent parties he hosts at his Kalorama mansion. The collection began when he worked for the failed 1980 presidential bid of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) and walked away with a tube of donated art — limited editions of Andy Warhol and Robert Rauschenberg — in lieu of a salary.

Always well-known in political circles, Tony became a celebrity with his high-profile second marriage to lobbyist Heather Podesta. The two were a striking couple on Washington’s sometimes traditional social scene, frequently photographed in front of one of their paintings or sculptures. The marriage ended after 11 years with no children but a custody battle over the art…

 

Source/Read more:https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/the-rise-and-fall-of-the-podestas-washingtons-powerful-political-brother-act/2017/11/10/04bf1f6e-c4a6-11e7-afe9-4f60b5a6c4a0_story.html

NYC Foreign Terror Suspect Entered U.S. with ‘Diversity Visa’ Trump Wants to End

1st Nov 2017

The suspected foreign national terrorist behind the New York City attack that has left at least eight individuals dead came to the United States years ago through the Diversity Visa Lottery, a program that President Trump and pro-American immigration reformers have demanded an end to.

According to ABC New York, 29-year-old Sayfullo Saipov — the man who allegedly mowed down pedestrians in the Tribeca neighborhood of New York City — entered the U.S. in 2010 from Uzbekistan under the Diversity Visa Lottery before obtaining a Green Card.

The Diversity Visa Lottery gives out 50,000 visas every year to foreign nationals from a multitude of countries, including those with known terrorist problems – such as Afghanistan, Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Syria, Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuela, Yemen, and Uzbekistan.

Trump, though, along with Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Sen. David Perdue (R-GA), has been calling for an end to the Diversity Visa Lottery program since August. Under the RAISE Act, introduced in February and endorsed by Trump in August, the Diversity Visa Lottery would be eliminated altogether.

The Trump administration took eliminating the Diversity Visa Lottery even more seriously earlier this month when they introduced the president’s immigration priorities, which like the RAISE Act called for the elimination of the program.

In an interview with Breitbart News, Cotton said the Diversity Visa Lottery does not serve the national interest, as it arbitrarily rewards random foreign nationals with visas to come to the U.S.

“The diversity lottery serves no discernible humanitarian or economic interest,” Cotton explained to Breitbart News. “It is a policy that has far outlived its usefulness and it really doesn’t even serve diversity since Europe is one of the primary uses of it. Even in past efforts at amnesty-first comprehensive immigration reform like we saw in 2013 and 2007, most people agree we should eliminate the diversity lottery. I think it’s a policy that has far outlived its usefulness if it ever had any utility and it’s time to eliminate the diversity lottery.”

In 2011, just a year after the New York City foreign terror suspect, Saipov, entered the U.S. from Uzbekistan through the Diversity Visa Lottery, Center for Immigration Studies National Security Policy Director Janice Kephart testified before Congress about the security risks associated with the visa program.

“The Diversity Visa Program is an unfortunate blind spot in our immigration system that has outlived whatever purpose it might have had,” Kephart explained in her testimony in 2011. “The applicants for these 50,000 ‘visa lottery’ immigration slots require few skills. Neither their qualifications nor identity can be properly vetted. The program does not know, really, who these applicants are or their true purpose in coming to the United States. The program is a national security vulnerability and has been used by terrorists and organized criminals to not only enter the United States but to bring others in as well.”

“According to unofficial statements from the State Department, the program is rife with fraud in part because application standards are so low,” Kephart continued. “The program claims to have strict eligibility requirements, but only calls for a high school education or its equivalent or two years of work experience within the past five years in an occupation requiring at least two years of training or experience.”

 

 

source/read more: http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2017/10/31/report-nyc-foreign-terror-suspect-entered-u-s-with-diversity-visa-trump-wants-to-end/

More students, young Americans turn to paganism

1st Nov 2017

As millennials continue to leave traditional Christian religions, interest in Wiccan and pagan practices have seen increased interest in recent years, a trend also spotted among young people and on college campuses.

Pagan or Wiccan student groups are present on a number of college campuses — both secular and religious — across the nation. The growing normalization of such practices, albeit still a minority, corresponds with the decline in Christian believers, some observers note.

A recent report in Market Watch headlined “Why millennials are ditching religion for witchcraft and astrology” argues as much, for example.

“Whether it be spell-casting, tarot, astrology, meditation and trance, or herbalism, these traditions offer tangible ways for people to enact change in their lives,” Melissa Jayne, owner of the Brooklyn-based “metaphysical boutique,” which has seen a big increase in 20-something customers in recent years, told Market Watch.

“For a generation that grew up in a world of big industry, environmental destruction, large and oppressive governments, and toxic social structures, all of which seem too big to change, this can be incredibly attractive,” she said.

The article goes on to cite several businesses that have successfully latched on to this trend, from online purveyors of tarot cards to popular astrology apps.

The article also cites recent Pew Research Center data that found 25 percent of Americans now identify with no religion, as opposed to 2011’s 18 percent. Underscoring that, a 2014 National Science Foundation poll found nearly half of all Americans say astrology is either “very scientific” or “sort of scientific,” UPI reports.

With that, it may be no surprise to see interest in paganism is also alive and well on campus.

Today a number of universities around the country have officially recognized Pagan or Wicca student groups, usually housed under their respective religious student activities departments.

In 2010, Syracuse University appointed its first “Pagan Chaplain” of Hendricks Chapel, its interdenominational place of worship. Others, like Air Force, have followed suit, including designating specific areas on campus for pagan or spiritual worship.

In 2014, Loyola University Chicago — a Catholic institution — christened a new pagan student club. Also that year, the University of Washington’s student newspaper launched a column dedicated to delving into Wiccanism.

A 2015 report in Inverse argued that the increase in interest might also be traced to a passion for the environment, as well as a decreased interest in organized religion among young people.

The piece, headlined “As Students Tackle Privilege and the Environment, Paganism Grows on Campus,” went on to note that: “In 1998 the Pagan Educational Network received its first request from a student who wanted to start her own on-campus pagan group. Now colleges from the University of Texas to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have their own student pagan groups, while institutions such as the University of Arizona allow Pagan-identified students to be excused from class on Wiccan holidays.”

“I think one of the things that really helped solidify for me that Paganism was the path for me was the almost complete freedom I had,” the vice president of the Pagan Student Union at the University of Baltimore told Inverse. “There is no one holy text we all must read, there is no organized church service which is mandatory to attend, there is no concept of original sin or any pressure to be perfect people. Paganism is exactly what you want it to be.”

 

 

source/read more: https://www.thecollegefix.com/post/38436/