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Prosecutors Demand 2-Year Prison Sentence For Anthony Weiner

September 20, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

After being widely blamed by Hillary Clinton supporters – and even the candidate herself – for inadvertently prompting the FBI to reopen its investigation into whether the candidate mishandled classified information, it looks like Anthony Weiner, once believed to be a strong contender for Mayor of New York City, is going to prison.

The Associated Press reports that federal prosecutors are asking that the former Congressman be sentenced to about two years in prison for engaging in sexting with a 15-year-old girl. Prosecutors filed paper in Manhattan Federal Court on Wednesday in advance of Weiner’s sentencing, which is scheduled for Monday. In their paperwork, the prosecutors asked that the judge use the sentencing as an opportunity to send a message to other perverted pols.

The 53-year-old said in a submission last week that he’s undergoing treatment and is profoundly sorry for subjecting the North Carolina high school student to what his lawyers described as his “deep sickness.” Prosecutors say this isn’t the first time Weiner has promised to reform himself.

Weiner’s lawyers portrayed the girl as an aggressor, saying she wanted to generate material for a book and possibly influence the presidential election, according to the AP.

As part of his plea bargain, Weiner has agreed not to appeal any sentence between 21 and 27 months. His sentencing will take place almost exactly a year after the New York Post published a story about Weiner sexting with another woman who wasn’t his wife. Weiner said he would plead guilty in May after prosecutors brought charges following revelations that he also sexted with the 15-year-old, whom he met over Skype. Both the girl and her father told the Daily Mail that Weiner knew she was underaged when they were corresponding.

Weiner pled guilty to a single charge of transferring obscene material to a minor after turning himself in to the FBI.

The description of Weiner’s conduct that his victim provided to investigators was truly sickening.

“He had some rape fantasies. It would just be him showing up at my house when my dad was out of town,” the girl told the Mail. “And just start undressing me, being forceful, asking me if I want to be dominated, strange questions.”

Weiner reportedly once told the girl, “I would bust that tight p–y so hard and so often that you would leak and limp for a week,” and sent her bare-chested pictures of himself.

His Congressional career imploded back in 2011 when he accidentally tweeted a picture of his bulging erection. He had meant to direct message it to a woman who wasn’t his wife. Speaking of Weiner’s wife, top Clinton lieutenant Huma Abedin announced her separation from the Congressman a year ago.

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“We’ve Never Seen Anything Like This” – Maria Slams Puerto Rico With 9-Foot Storm Surge, 155Mph Winds

September 20, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

Hurricane Maria made landfall near the city of Yabucoa, Puerto Rico, at around 6:15 am Wednesday, according to the National Hurricane Center, battering the densely populated eastern side of the island with torrential rains and 155 mph gusts as hundreds of thousands of people hunkered down in one of the island’s 500 storm shelters in hopes of riding out the second major hurricane to impact the island within two weeks.

Category 4 Maria slammed the island with winds of 155 mph, just 2 mph short of category 5 status.

The island’s governor has said the hurricane will likely cause “catastrophic” damage to the island’s power grid and infrastructure, much of which has yet to be repaired following Hurricane Irma, which didn’t make landfall in Puerto Rico, but passed close enough to cause $1 billion in damage. As Bloomberg points out, Maria is the fourth major hurricane and 13th storm in the Atlantic this season that’s wreaked havoc from Texas to the Caribbean and left dozens dead.

According to the NHC, the storm made landfall around 6:15 a.m. The NHC has instituted hurricane watches and warnings for many of Puerto Rico’s neighboring islands.

SUMMARY OF WATCHES AND WARNINGS IN EFFECT:
A Hurricane Warning is in effect for…
* U.S. Virgin Islands
* British Virgin Islands
* Puerto Rico, Culebra, and Vieques
* Dominican Republic from Cabo Engano to Puerto Plata
* Turks and Caicos Islands and the Southeastern Bahamas
A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for…
* Saba
* St. Maarten
* Dominican Republic west of Puerto Plata to the northern border of
the Dominican Republic and Haiti
* Dominican Republic west of Cabo Engano to Punta Palenque
A Hurricane Watch is in effect for…
* St. Maarten
* St. Martin and St. Barthelemy
* Dominican Republic from Isla Saona to Cabo Engano

Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello is saying Maria is “potentially most catastrophic hurricane to hit” the U.S. territory in a century. Rossello said up to 25 inches of rain could fall in some areas and he urged anyone in a flood-prone, mudslide-prone or coastal area to leave.

 

#Hurricane-force winds occurring in Puerto Rico- #Maria‘s eye should make landfall in the next couple of hours. https://t.co/tW4KeGdBFb pic.twitter.com/5HkvRNZUaL

— NHC Atlantic Ops (@NHC_Atlantic) September 20, 2017

 

“We have not experienced an event of this magnitude in our modern history,” Rossello said. “Although it looks like a direct hit with major damage to Puerto Rico is inevitable, I ask for America’s prayers,” he said. “No matter what happens here in the next 36 hours, Puerto Rico will survive, we will rebuild, we will recover and with your support, we will come out stronger than ever.”

The NHS expects the storm to cross Puerto Rico on Wednesday and then move just north of the coast of the Dominican Republic later in the night and on Thursday. Maria had earlier battered the hurricane-ravaged Caribbean island nation of Dominica on Tuesday, devastating the island, according to the island’s governor, Roosevelt Skerrit.

“It is devastating, indeed, mind boggling,” Roosevelt Skerrit, Dominica’s prime minister, said in a statement. The eastern Caribbean nation with a population of 75,000 has “lost all what money can buy and replace,” he said. Skerrit said he was rescued after the roof of his house was torn off by the storm.

At least six people have died on the island of Dominica, according to a spokeswoman for the government in London. “Damage is extensive throughout the island,” she said, “and people are walking the streets in a delirious state of mind.” With all lines of communication down, the government was relying on amateur radio, or ham radio, operators for updates, according to Bloomberg. In addition, at least two have been confirmed dead on the island of Guadalope.

Many Puerto Ricans were busy reinforcing their homes with plywood and other supplies ahead of the anticipated landfall.

 

 

Maria could cause $30 billion in damage to Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, according to Chuck Watson, a disaster modeler for Enki Research. The island, which filed for bankruptcy in May after years of economic decline while a series of defaults, has been effectively shut out of capital markets, which could slow the recovery process, Bloomberg reports. Its aging government-owned electric utility operates under court protection from creditors and its emergency fund stood at about $32 million before Irma knocked out electricity access for hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans.

It could plunge “their not-all-that-robust electric grid into a pit of despair,” Watson said.

A dangerous storm surge of as much as 9 feet is expected along the coast of Puerto Rico, and according to NHS data, water levels have already risen precariously.

Meanwhile, vacationers and honeymooners visiting the island confronted a troubling reality earlier this week: With flights quickly filling up ahead of the storm, many tourists found themselves stuck on the island, forced to ride out the hurricane in whatever hotel or accomodations they had booked.

Heather Farrell, a visitor to the island, is on her honeymoon with her husband Luke. They were married on September 9. She says that they had tried to cut their trip short when it became apparent that they were in Maria’s firing line.

“We did try to get off, as early as Saturday but all flights were either booked or canceled. We actually are on the ocean — our room faces the ocean. It’s pretty windy but there is no rain. We’ll stay inside for now.”

 

She said that hotel staff had asked that all guests that are staying at the hotel come downstairs early Wednesday morning to a safe room that they have set up for them.

 

“I would rather be home than here but I guess we’re making the best of it,” she said.

 

According to CNN, calls for rescue immediately started pouring in. But first responders weren’t expected to be able to help immediately because they’d been ordered to head indoors when sustained winds reached 50 mph. Thousands of Puerto Ricans did obey calls to seek refuge in emergency shelters. “As of 2:30 a.m. we count 10,059 refugees and 189 pets (in shelters),” the island’s governor, Ricardo Rosselló, tweeted.

A las 2:30AM, contamos con 10,059 refugiados y 189 mascotas.

— Ricardo Rossello (@ricardorossello) September 20, 2017

Maria became the first category 4 hurricance to hit the island – which presently has a population of about 3.3 million people – in about 80 years. Conditions were expected to worsen between 8 am and 9 am ET Wednesday, when the storm’s eye wall – typically the part of the storm with the most powerful winds – is expected to reache island’s eastern coast. The Puerto Rico Convention Center in San Juan – which was still housing Hurricane Irma evacuees from other Caribbean islands – prepared to accept thousands more residents.

Most ppl at Pedrin Zorria shelter will lose their home if #HurricaneMaria hits. However, mood is light & everyone helps each other here@CNN pic.twitter.com/J9zFwKcvEa

— Jaide Garcia (@Jaide_Garcia) September 20, 2017

The storm is likely to break all previous records, according to CNN meteorologist Derek Van Dam said.

“This could potentially be the strongest hurricane to ever reach the shores of Puerto Rico,” he said from San Juan, Puerto Rico’s capital.

 

“A lot of people remember or have heard of the storms that hit in 1928 and 1930. Well, guess what? This could pale those in comparison. … It will go down in the record books.”

According to Bloomberg, most long range models keep Maria away from the US coastline after it passes through the Caribbean and the Bahamas this week, said Shane Mill, a meteorologist at MDA Weather Services in Gaithersburg, Maryland. “But I am not comfortable saying the entire East Coast is out of the woods yet,” he said.

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“We Are In A State Of Siege”: Spanish Police Arrest Top Catalan Officials In Referendum Raids

September 20, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

Spanish police arrested top-ranking Catalan officials including the region’s junior economy minister Josep Maria Jove, as Madrid launched a crackdown on Catalonia over the upcoming Independence referendum Reuters reported. Jove, who is a senior member of the Republican Left of Catalonia political party, was detained following a Wednesday morning raid carried out by Spain’s Civil Guard, which has the authority of both the Interior and the Defence ministries.

At least a dozen high-ranking local officials were arrested, La Vanguardia newspaper said. Among those detained are Josue Sallent Rivas from the Centre of Telecommunications and Information Technology, Xavier Puig Farré from the Office of Social Affairs and Josep Maria Salvat Tenesa from the Ministry of Economics and Finance.

Police, acting under court orders, have stepped up raids on printers, newspaper offices and private delivery companies in recent days in a search for campaign literature, instruction manuals for manning voting stations and ballot boxes.

 

On Tuesday, Spain’s Civil Guard, a national police force, seized more than 45,000 envelopes packed in cardboard boxes that the Catalan government was ready to send to notify people around the region about the referendum.

Catalonia is now in a state of siege ”, Catalonia’s Minister of Labor, Social Affairs and Family Dolors Bassa said on Twitter, confirming that the Civil Guard has also entered her department.

I ara,a nostre departament també , acaba d’entrar la Guardia Civil.Estem en un estat de setge ! Vergonyós !@govern .Votarem #1dO

— Dolors Bassa (@dolorsbassac) September 20, 2017

Meanwhile, the fiercely pro-independence leader of the regional government, Carles Puigdemont, has called an emergency meeting of his cabinet for 10:30 CET (8:30 GMT), the sources said.

Police efforts to stop the planned Oct. 1 referendum on splitting from Spain have intensified in recent days as the wealthy northeastern region shows no signs of halting the vote which the central government says is illegal.  Hundreds of protesters gathered outside the offices of the regional government’s economy ministry in the center of Barcelona’s tourist district, chanting “They will not pass” and “We will vote”, a Reuters witness said.

Una hora después de la entrada de la @guardiacivil al departamento de Economía, manifestantes protestan por el registro pic.twitter.com/g2hUOEq8du

— Josep Catà (@jcatafiguls) September 20, 2017

That did not stop the Civil Guard from conducting searches of the Catalonian government buildings including the region’s economy, interior, foreign affairs, welfare, telecommunications and tax departments.

“They are attacking the institutions of this country and attacking the citizens. We will not allow it” Oriol Junqueras, the Vice President of the Catalan Government, wrote on Twitter.

Estan atacant les institucions d’aquest país i per tant atacant els ciutadans. No ho permetrem.

— Oriol Junqueras (@junqueras) September 20, 2017

On Wednesday, a protest has been staged in front of the Economic Department of the Catalonian Government, according to photos and videos on Twitter. People were reportedly shouting “We want to vote” and “democracy.”

Más manifestantes en la sede de Economía. “Queremos votar”, “democracia” y “fuera las fuerzas de ocupación” pic.twitter.com/PxZh9eRu0V

— Josep Catà (@jcatafiguls) September 20, 2017

Earlier in the month, Catalonia’s Parliament passed a bill paving the way for an independence referendum to be held on October 1. However, the Constitutional Court has suspended the vote after the central government challenged its legality. Spain’s central government says the referendum goes against the country’s 1978 constitution which states Spain is indivisible.

Medio centenar de manifestantes se concentran en el dep de economía para protestar contra el registro por el referéndum pic.twitter.com/mIgFoZdvDq

— Josep Catà (@jcatafiguls) September 20, 2017

As reported previously, the Spanish state prosecutor ordered a criminal investigation of 712 Catalan mayors for co-operating with the process. Catalonia previously held an independence referendum in 2014, which saw 80 percent of voters choose independence. Nevertheless, it was ruled unconstitutional by Madrid.

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The Future Of Artificial Intelligence (According To Pop Culture)

September 20, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

The unpredictable nature of super-intelligent, self-improving machines lends itself quite nicely to the dramatic storylines of movies and books.

It’s a science fiction writer’s dream – as Visual Capitalist’s Jeff Desjardins warns: if AI becomes smart enough to create more advanced versions of itself, pretty much every outcome is on the table. Machines could empower humanity to become enlightened and virtuous. On the less optimistic side? Machines could instead ruthlessly enslave all of humankind to tickle their own warped sense of satisfaction.

POP CULTURE PERSPECTIVES

From the plot of movies like The Terminator to The Matrix, pop culture offers up innumerable examples of what could happen from the rise of the machines – and most of them, as you can imagine, steer towards the less optimistic side of the spectrum.

Today’s infographic from BBC Future provides an entertaining take on these scenarios, organized by potential likelihood.

Courtesy of: Visual Capitalist

Some experts see AI having a $15.7 trillion impact on our economy, but pop culture offers up a slightly different perspective of what the future may hold.

FUTURE AI SCENARIOS

Here are just some of the scenarios offered up in mainstream movies, books, and television shows. Some are apocalyptic and dystopian, and some seem just plain bizarre:

Seductive Siris: In 2013’s Her, Joaquin Phoenix falls in love with an intelligent operating system named Samantha.

 

Self-Replicating AI: In 1995’s Screamers, scientists create a self-replicating weapon with one purpose: to destroy all life.

 

The Singularity: AI vies to take over the world in 1982’s classic Tron.

 

Rampaging Robots: In 1973’s Westworld, recently re-envisioned as a different TV series by HBO, murderous androids go on a killing spree in a futuristic Disney-style theme park.

 

Feeling Machines: In the 1999 movie Bicentennial Man, a household robot experiences emotions, creative thoughts, and eventually develops sentience.

 

Androids Among Us: Artificial beings infiltrate society undetected in TV series Battlestar Galactica.

 

Human Enslavement: In the 1999 movie The Matrix, all life on Earth is an elaborate facade. The robots are really the ones in command, but you wouldn’t know it until you take the “red pill”.

 

Mind Upload: Digitized humans gain immortality and then wreak havoc, such as in 2014’s Transcendence.

ONE CERTAINTY

While some of these ideas seem far-fetched, it’s worth noting that not all future scenarios are as distant as they may seem.

With computing power increasing exponentially, the tail end of the hockey stick could happen sooner than we may think.

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Russian Collusion? New Emails Reveal Hillary Clinton Invited Putin To “Pay For Play” Event

September 20, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

Authored by Mac Slavo via SHTFplan.com,
In newly released emails which the mainstream media is willfully ignoring, Hillary Clinton invited Russian president Vladimir Putin to a Clinton Foundation event. The Russian collusion between Hillary Clinton is …

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The Obamacare “Death Spiral”: Health Plans Now Cost Employers More Than A New Car

September 20, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

With the Graham-Cassidy Obamacare replacement now officially dead, it appears Senate Republicans will be unable to pass a repeal-and-replace bill before the Sept. 30 deadline announced by the Senate Parliamentarian arrives – though it’s impossible to rule out another long-shot plan gaining momentum in the coming days.

After the deadline, Senate Republicans would need 60 votes for their repeal-and-replace bill, effectively killing the repeal-and-replace effort, at least for now.

As Republicans struggle to fulfill their campaign promises to the American people, the Wall Street Journal has published a report showing that rising premiums are forcing some small business owners to stop offering benefits, the latest sign that Democrats ignored Republican rhetoric about the bill’s job-killing potential at their own political peril.

As we’ve reported time and time again, the bill has increased cost pressures on businesses, forcing them lay off employees or pare back benefits to stay in business.

According to WSJ, the average cost of health coverage offered by employers pushed toward $19,000 for a family plan this year, while the share of firms providing insurance to workers continued to edge lower, according to a major survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Annual premiums rose 3% to $18,764 for an employer plan in 2017, from $18,142 last year, the same rate of increase as in 2016, according to an annual poll of employers conducted by Kaiser and the Health Research & Educational Trust, a nonprofit affiliated with the American Hospital Association.

Premiums for employers have been climbing for several years, though, as WSJ notes, their rise has been slowed somewhat by a shift toward larger out-of-pocket costs for employees in the form of higher deductibles. That move slowed this year, as deductibles were roughly flat, compared with 2016.

Kaiser foundation officials said it wasn’t clear why the growth in deductibles appeared to pause this year. The average general deductible for single coverage among all workers, including those with no deductible, this year was $1,221 – the same as last year, but up sharply from $802 in 2012. This year, 28% of covered workers were enrolled in high-deductible plans that can be paired with savings accounts that aren’t taxed, compared with 29% last year and 19% five years ago.

Drew Altman, chief executive of the Kaiser foundation, said it was too soon to tell if the growth in deductibles would quickly resume next year, or if employers are reluctant to keep pushing the tactic.

“We’ll have to watch it,” Mr. Altman said. “It’s possible it’s playing itself out or reaching some kind of natural limit.”

Still, the rise of premiums over time has resulted in family health plans that can annually cost more than a new car, though often most of the cost is borne by employers. Employees paid on average $5,714, or 31%, of the premiums, for a family plan in 2017, according to Kaiser.

In what should be interpreted as clear-cut evidence of the bill’s job-killing potential, Gary Claxton, a vice president at the foundation, said that the overall cost of insurance appears to be driving small firms, particularly those with low-wage workers, to stop offering health benefits. Indeed, among small employers that didn’t offer health insurance, 44% said the biggest reason for not providing the benefit was its cost. “It’s harder for them to maintain coverage when it’s so expensive,” Mr. Claxton said.

However, among small employers that didn’t provide health coverage, 16% did give workers some money they could use toward purchasing a plan themselves.

None of this should surprise readers, as we’ve been writing for years that the entire Obamacare system is on the “verge of collapse” as premiums soar, risk pools deteriorate and insurers were pull out of exchanges all around the country leaving many Americans with just a single ‘option’ for health insurance.

Meanwhile, for an individual worker, the average annual cost of employer coverage was $6,690 in the 2017 survey, up 4% from last year, with employees paying 18% of that.

In another troubling trend highlighted by WSJ, the number of employers offering health insurance as a benefit to employees has been declining even as the labor market has purportedly been tightening. This appears to jive with stagnant hourly earnings, which have shown little movement as most of the new jobs being created in the US are low-level, low-skill and low-pay.

The Kaiser survey was conducted between January and June of this year and included 2,137 randomly selected employers that responded to the full telephone survey.
 

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Did Obama Know About Comey’s Surveillance?

September 20, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

Authored by James Freman op-ed via The Wall Street Journal,
The media is less interested in Obama Administration wiretapping than in how Trump described it…

This week CNN is reporting more details on the Obama Administration’s 2016 surveillanc…

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A Startling Anecdote About Online Ad Fraud From Uber

September 19, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

One week ago we said that Category 1 storm clouds are gathering over what has traditionally been one of the most lucrative, and perhaps only profitable, sectors to come out of Silicon Valley in decades: online advertising. We directed readers’ attention to the recent Global Retailing Conference organized by Goldman Sachs, in which Restoration Hardware’s delightfully colorful CEO, Gary Friedman, divulged the following striking anecdote about the company’s online marketing strategy, and the state of online ad spending in general. What Friedman revealed – in brief – was the following:

we’ve found out that 98% of our business was coming from 22 words. So, wait, we’re buying 3,200 words and 98% of the business is coming from 22 words. What are the 22 words? And they said, well, it’s the word Restoration Hardware and the 21 ways to spell it wrong, okay?

There was much more in the full transcript which lamented just how seemingly useless and overrated online advertising has become (or perhaps always had been), a lament shared previously by consumer products giant P&G which several months earlier became the first to fire a shot across the “adtech” bow when not long after it announced it was slashing its digital ad spending because it thought it was not getting the kind of return on investment it desired, it made a striking discovery: “We didn’t see a reduction in the growth rate.” CFO Jon Moeller said “What that tells me is that that spending that we cut was largely ineffective.” Previously, the P&G’s CFO had said that “the reduction in marketing that occurred was almost all in the digital space. And what it reflected was a choice to cut spending from a digital standpoint where it was ineffective: where either we were serving bots as opposed to human beings, or where the placement of ads was not facilitating the equity of our brands.”

Moeller also touched on the two most common complaints about digital advertising scams: 1) advertisers are paying for ads that are viewed and clicked on by bots, not humans; and 2) ads are placed by thousands of automated “ad exchanges” that are out of control of the advertiser on sites and pages that don’t match the advertiser’s products.

The problem, as we discussed last week, for providers of online advertising is that increasingly more are waking up to the pitfalls of “adtech”: the false promises, the opacity of digital advertising, the intractability of the Internet, the clicks and views by bots on which advertisers are wasting their money, and the billions of dollars that get blown down the drain without results.  The larger issue is, of course, that retail spending has grown on average by a muted 2% per year in the US over the past five years, while over the same period, digital advertising has nearly doubled to $72.5 billion in 2016, which implies that even digital advertising – despite the lure of Facebook and the like – cannot induce consumers overall to spend more and increase the size of the overall pie for advertisers. It can only, at best, divide up the pie differently.

* * *

And while the Restoration Hardware anecdote may have been a Category 1 “ad tech” storm, on Monday a surprising development out of Uber pushed the maximum sustained windspeed for the online advertising industry to a solid Category 2.

What happened is that Uber, long accustomed to being sued itself, for once was the source of a lawsuit, taking advertising agency Fetch Media to court for click fraud and alleging that the firm improperly billed Uber for “fake” online ads and took credit for app downloads it had nothing to do with. Fetch, incidentally, is owned by the world’s fourth-largest advertising company, Japan’s Dentsu.

In the lawsuit filed on Monday in San Francisco, Uber said it discovered something was “amiss” when it canceled a campaign on Breitbart following the recent blowback against conservative media, where Fetch was placing Uber ads. After the company had asked Fetch not to post advertisements on Breitbart, it saw ads appearing there anyway. While Fetch allegedly pulled ads from all networks that had a relationship with Breitbart, the move had little effect on the number of people downloading the app, contrary to Fetch’s claims, the complaint said.

Uber traditionally had paid Fetch and other ad networks when a potential customer downloads its app after seeing an ad. Uber alleged that after further inspection, Fetch had a widespread practice of over-billing. Uber claims that Fetch had been attempting to claim credit for app downloads it didn’t generate.

Furthermore, Uber claims that after it suspended the ad campaign, it saw no material drop in total installations, as the decline in paid signups was offset byt a “nearly equal amount” by organic installations. To wit:

Just before Uber suspended the entire Fetch Campaign in March 2017, Fetch was spending millions of Uber’s dollars per week on mobile inventory purportedly attributable to hundreds of thousands (even millions) of Uber App installs per week. Had the advertisements been legitimate, one would expect to see a substantial drop when mobile advertising was suspended. Instead, when Uber suspended the Fetch Campaign, there was no material drop in total installations. Rather, the number of installations supposedly attributable to mobile advertising (i.e., “paid signups”) decreased significantly, while the number of organic installations rose by a nearly equal amount

 

 

This indicated that a significant percentage of the installations believed to be attributable to advertising were in fact stolen organic installations. In other words, these installations would have occurred regardless of advertising. Instead networks or publishers in the Fetch Campaign fraudulently reported the last click attribution to claim attribution credit and were paid for the installation.

The complaint then claims ad fraud was not isolated to one core vendor of ads to subcontractors, but that ad fraud was “perpetuated and even encouraged” between the ad agency and the networks and publishers:

Fetch’s own actions perpetuated, and even encouraged, fraud by the networks and publishers from whom it purchased mobile inventory.

 

When Fetch obtained makegoods on behalf of Uber, the credit would be in the form of additional mobile inventory with the same network or publisher. In other words, after a publisher was caught red-handed, for example click spamming, Fetch would reward the bad actor with additional volume and opportunities to report fake clicks.

 

Upon information and belief, Fetch also misused its position as a marketplace leader, and as Uber’s mobile media agency, to solicit improper “rebate” payments from networks and publishers in exchange for purchasing advertising inventories during the Fetch Campaign, and failed to pass such discounts back to Uber.

 

Fetch also failed to enforce Uber’s prohibition against rebrokering. “Rebrokering” is where networks or publishers take advertising offers and re-broker them to third parties to obtain a greater volume of clicks, and thus, hopefully, installations. Rebrokering is against the terms of the IOs approved by Uber for use in the Fetch Campaign and also leads to a loss of control by the mobile advertising agency over the quality of the advertising and the amount of fraud.

According to the lawsuit, from 2015 to early 2017, Uber paid more than $82.5 million for advertisements overseen by Fetch, and said it refused to pay more than $7 million that Fetch has said it owes.

Of course, should the court find that Uber’s claim has merit, the implications for ad tech would be staggering: whereas last week’s admission by Restoration Hardware suggests that online advertising is either being gamed by bots, or generally underperforming to the point where it is not worth the investment, the potential involvement of premeditated ad fraud among the key players in the industry – since Uber’s ads were certainly not the only cockroach – would not only jeopardize the revenue streams of ad giants such as Facebook and Google, but could result in civil liabilities into the tens of billions in potential ad fraud.

As expected, Fetch pleaded innocent, per Bloomberg:

“We are shocked by Uber’s allegations which are unsubstantiated, completely without merit, and purposefully inflammatory so as to draw attention away from Uber’s unprofessional behavior and failure to pay suppliers,” Fetch Chief Executive Officer James Connelly said in a statement Tuesday. “We vigorously deny the allegations from Uber and will be responding robustly to ensure we set the record straight.”

Still, Fetch has acknowledged the challenge of online ad fraud publicly and said it was working with research firm Forensiq to “fight against mobile ad fraud.”

“One of the biggest challenges we face as digital marketers is to reduce mobile ad fraud,” Fetch’s Connelly said a year ago. The problem, of course, is when Fetch itself is the source of fraud.

Around the same time, Fetch’s global head of media, Steve Hobbs, told Adweek that a “significant amount” of downloads in Fetch’s system are flagged as suspicious. “Where there’s money, there is fraud,” he told the publication. “Being 100 percent on top of it is an impossibility, but we think with Forensiq’s help we can get it significantly lower.”

As part of the lawsuit, Uber plans to seek at least $40 million in damages according to Bloomberg. More notable is that Fetch’s publicly traded parent company, ad giant Dentsu which has a $12 billion market capitalization, is not named in the lawsuit, at least not yet. The question is if and when it emerges that such ad fraud as that claimed by Uber is endemic across all online ad network and perpetrated by virtually all ad giants, not only Dentsu but also Google and Facebook, what happens then to the biggest growth stories in the tech world once customer faith in the online ad model “deus ex machina” finally evaporates?

The full redacted Uber vs Fetch lawsuit is below

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Manafort Calls On DOJ To Release His Intercepted Phone Calls; Demands Investigation Of Leaks

September 19, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

Less than 24 hours after CNN triggered the latest outbreak of ‘Trump Derangement Syndrome’ by relaying information from anonymous sources that Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manfort has been under surveillance by the FBI since 2014, Manafort has fired back by calling on the Department of Justice to release all transcripts of his tapped phone calls so that the American public “can come to the same conclusion as the DOJ — there is nothing there.”  Per the Daily Caller:

Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort is calling on the Justice Department to release transcripts of any intercepted communications he may have had with foreigners.

 

Manafort, a longtime Republican political consultant, also called on the Justice Department’s inspector general to investigate the leak of details of secret surveillance warrants obtained by U.S. investigators.

 

“Mr. Manafort requests that the Department of Justice release any intercepts involving him and any non-Americans so interested parties can come to the same conclusion as the DOJ — there is nothing there,” Manafort spokesman Jason Maloni said in a statement.

Manafort’s spokesman goes on to demand that the DOJ launch an immediate investigation into who continues to commit federal felonies with reckless abandon by leaking details of confidential FISA warrants to the media.

Whether or not Manafort committed a crime — and he has not been charged with anything — the leak of information about FISA warrants is a federal crime, Maloni noted in his statement.

 

“If true, it is a felony to reveal the existence of a FISA warrant, regardless of the fact that no charges ever emerged,” Maloni said.

 

Information about FISA warrants is classified and tightly held by government officials and the federal judges that approve them. Unauthorized disclosures of FISA information is also a felony.

 

At a House Intelligence Committee hearing in March, then-FBI Director James Comey testified that the leak of FISA information is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

 

In his statement, Maloni called on the Justice Department’s watchdog to “immediately” open an investigation into the leak and to “examine the motivations behind the previous Administration’s effort to surveil a political opponent.”

Manafort

Of course, this was all triggered by CNN‘s ‘bombshell’ story last night which revealed that Manafort has been under an ongoing wiretap, approved by the FISA courts, going back to 2014 and tied to his consulting arrangements with Ukraine’s former ruling party.

That said, the interesting part of CNN’s story came via the revelation that “surveillance [of Manafort] was discontinued at some point last year for lack of evidence” but was then restarted with a “new FISA warrant that extended at least into early this year”all of which sounds an awful lot like the Obama administration using FISA courts to spy on a political opponent. 

Here are the details as presented by CNN:

US investigators wiretapped former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort under secret court orders before and after the election, sources tell CNN, an extraordinary step involving a high-ranking campaign official now at the center of the Russia meddling probe.

 

The government snooping continued into early this year, including a period when Manafort was known to talk to President Donald Trump.

 

Some of the intelligence collected includes communications that sparked concerns among investigators that Manafort had encouraged the Russians to help with the campaign, according to three sources familiar with the investigation. Two of these sources, however, cautioned that the evidence is not conclusive.

 

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team, which is leading the investigation into Russia’s involvement in the election, has been provided details of these communications.

 

A secret order authorized by the court that handles the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) began after Manafort became the subject of an FBI investigation that began in 2014. It centered on work done by a group of Washington consulting firms for Ukraine’s former ruling party, the sources told CNN.

 

The surveillance was discontinued at some point last year for lack of evidence, according to one of the sources.

 

The FBI then restarted the surveillance after obtaining a new FISA warrant that extended at least into early this year.

All of which has led many people to question throughout the day whether the Obama administration, as Trump suggested back in March, did intentionally spy on his campaign using FISA warrants.

Certainly these two tweets from CNN’s Jake Tapper would seem to be somewhat contradictory:

Tapper’s initial reaction from March 2017 to Trump’s claim that the Obama administration wiretapped his campaign:

POTUS makes wild accusation w/zero evidence
WH searches for evidence & cant find any
WH tells Congress to find evidence/no further comment

— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) March 5, 2017

 

Tapper’s follow-up tweet from last night:

US government wiretapped former Trump campaign chairman – CNNPolitics https://t.co/BY8MACKfV9

— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) September 18, 2017

 

Oops.

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No Picture

US Sanctions Against Venezuela Will Hurt Americans

September 19, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

Authored by Ryan McMaken via The Mises Institute,

After fifty years of imposing embargoes and other sanctions, the United States never managed to topple Cuba’s communist regime.

 

After forty years of the same in Iran, the US met with similar amounts of success.

 

Ongoing sanctions against North Korea have not toppled to regime there. 

But, some people in Washington won’t let decades of failure dissuade them. 

Last week, Congressman Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) introduced new legislation to bar Americans from importing oil products from Venezuela. The Washington Examiner reports

[T]he Protecting Against Tyranny and Responsible Imports Act, or the PATRIA Act … would target Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro after he stripped the country’s democratically elected national assembly of its power and authority. According to the bill, the proposed ban on imports would last until the assembly’s power is fully restored.

 

“The goal is to change the conduct, the character of the Venezuelan government under Maduro. I think the window is closing,” Coffman told the Washington Examiner. “They are dependent upon the export of oil really to fund their government, and without that, they can’t pay their security forces.”

Experience suggests there is little reason to believe that sanctions will cause the regime to give up in Venezuela. If the regime has less oil money with which to pay the military, the regime can always steal more from the average citizen to make up the difference. In other words, ordinary Venezuelans will suffer more in response to US sanctions. 

oilprice.png

Source. 

Moreover, aggressive moves such as these against the Venezuelan regime have tended to only solidify support for the regime among its supporters. Both the current president Maduro, and his predecessor Hugo Chávez, were both successful in building support for themselves on a platform of opposing US meddling in Venezuelan political and economic institutions. 

When the US threatens to intervene in local politics, this only strengthens the resolve and support of the regime’s supporters. 

The US has already been acting in a reckless manner in this regard, as illustrated by President Donald Trump’s recent speculations about invading Venezuela to effect regime change. As noted by Daniel Politi at Slate, American threats directed at the Venezuelan regime do nothing to help the opposition

Throughout his power grab that has accompanied Venezuela’s descent into chaos, Maduro has long warned the United States was planning to invade the country. Trump’s words seemed to play straight into his narrative, recalling a time when Washington saw Latin America as its backyard where it could intimidate governments into doing its bidding.

 

“Maduro must be thrilled right now,” said Mark Feierstein, who was a senior aide on Venezuela to former president Barack Obama. “It’s hard to imagine a more damaging thing for Trump to say.”

Similarly, threatening Venezuela with more sanctions — something that may make the regime even more violent and desperate — do nothing to help the Venezuelan people in general, and only energize the regime’s base. 

Coffman claims the sanctions would be lifted if the Venezuelan regime were to restore the prerogatives and power of the national legislature, which has essentially been disbanded by Maduro. 

In recent months, the Venezuelan regime has rapidly become more dictatorial as forces loyal to Maduro have increasingly clamped down on opposition politicians and essentially ignored the results of recent elections that have brought many opposition leaders to power in the National Assembly. 

The working philosophy here, apparently, is that the imposition of sanctions will force the Venezuelan regime to democratize in response. One would be hard pressed to find examples of similar tactics actually working, however.

More astute observers might also ask why — if Coffman is so committed to democracy — he hasn’t called for similar embargoes of Saudi Arabian oil. The Saudi regime, of course, has been a dictatorship ever since its founding, sponsors international terrorism, and tolerates no religious freedom or freedom of speech. The Saudi regime, for instance, routinely arrests critics of the regime, and the regime’s spokesman has outright denied that elections should be allowed in Saudi Arabia. 

If human rights are of such pressing concern to the Congressman, its unclear why Venezuela is at the top of the sanctions list. 

As with all Trade Sanctions, Americans Suffer 

As with any discussion of sanctions, of course, we need not even consider the strategic futility of sanctions, or the morality of foreign regimes. 

Far from being a matter only of concern to foreigners, US sanctions are built on the cornerstone of limiting the freedoms of Americans.

As I noted earlier in regards to the Cuban embargo

[S]upporting an embargo means supporting the government when it fines, prosecutes, and jails peaceful citizens who attempt to engage in truly free trade. Support for an embargo also requires support for a customs bureaucracy that spies on merchants and consumers, and the whole panoply of enforcement programs necessary to punish those who run afoul of the government’s arbitrary pronouncements on what kind of trade is acceptable, and what kind is verboten. Naturally, this is all paid for by the taxpayers…

 

At their heart, embargoes are nothing but a specific type of prohibition. Sometimes, the government imposes prohibitions on transactions involving certain goods, such as cannabis. Other times, the prohibition extends to all transactions with people in a certain place. The fundamentals are the same, however, in that they prohibit peaceful exchange, with heavy penalties for violators.

In the case of a new embargo against Venezuela, the effect would be to place prohibitions on American importers, and thus drive up prices for oil and energy for all Americans. Government bureaucrats would be dispatched to monitor private industry to make sure they don’t violate the prohibitions. Government agents will impose fines, and make arrests if necessary. The American government will become more powerful at the expense of American consumers and American taxpayers. 

Indeed, this has already been going on with smaller-scale sanctions imposed by the Trump administration against Citgo oil refineries. Thanks to the sanctions, Citgo refineries in the US, which constitute four percent of American fuel capacity, and which employ American workers, are finding it more costly to obtain the oil they need for the refineries. Both domestic and foreign suppliers must scramble to work around the new regulations in order to avoid fines and lawsuits from government regulators who oversee trade. The effect of this will be to put pressure on more marginal employees and on more marginal operations, leading to layoffs and diminished refining capacity. Ultimately, it is Americans who will pay the price.

 

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