(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)
Forecasters canceled tsunami warnings for Alaska and the US and Canadian west coasts Tuesday after an earthquake in the Gulf of Alaska stoked fears of damaging waves.
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)
Forecasters canceled tsunami warnings for Alaska and the US and Canadian west coasts Tuesday after an earthquake in the Gulf of Alaska stoked fears of damaging waves.
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘KQED’)
On an average day, Alcatraz Island bustles with visitors taking tours of the former federal prison. Twice a year, however, people adorned with colorful feathered headdresses and instruments in hand board the ferry hours before dawn and travel to the historic site in the middle of San Francisco Bay.
On Oct. 9, a crowd of early risers visited Alcatraz on Indigenous Peoples Day to celebrate the history and culture of native peoples.
Before the sunrise broke through the fog, people quietly circled around a fire to honor their ancestors with a sunrise ceremony, commemorating the occupation of Alcatraz Island from November 1969 to June 1971 by “Indians of All Tribes,” a pan-tribal group of Native American leaders and activists.
On that day, 46 years after the original occupation, Alcatraz pulsed with energy once again. The sound of a conch shell initiating the ceremony interrupted the silent morning. As the drumming intensified, indigenous people from across the country danced to sacred songs, moving around their elders who tended to the flames in the center of the crowd.
“I come out here because it’s who I am,” said Desiree Adams, an indigenous woman of Navajo descent. “It’s in my blood to be here and stand for my ancestors and to keep our tradition and culture alive.”
On Nov. 23, another sunrise ceremony will be held for the annual “Unthanksgiving Day” celebration.
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)
The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is investigating an apparent near-miss involving an Air Canada flight at San Francisco’s airport.
It says Flight AC759 from Toronto was cleared to land on a runway last Friday, but the pilot “inadvertently” lined up for a taxiway where four aircraft were waiting to depart.
An air traffic controller became aware of the problem and ordered the pilot to pull up and make another approach.
The Airbus 320 then landed safely.
The FAA is currently investigating the distance between the Air Canada aircraft and the aircraft lined up on the taxiway, which runs parallel to the runway.
It was not immediately clear how many people were aboard the flight from Toronto, or in the four planes on the taxiway.
Air Canada is also investigating the incident, a spokesman for the company says.
“Air Canada flight AC759 from Toronto was preparing to land at San Francisco airport Friday night when the aircraft initiated a go-around,” Peter Fitzpatrick is quoted as saying by CBC News.
“The aircraft landed normally without incident. We are still investigating the circumstances and therefore have no additional information to offer.”
Meanwhile, an audio recording has emerged of what are said to be last Friday’s communications between air traffic controllers and pilots at San Francisco’s airport.
In it, a male voice believed to be that of the Air Canada pilot is heard saying that there are lights on the runway.
One of the air traffic controllers replies that there are no other planes there.
Another – unidentified – voice is then heard saying: “Where’s this guy going? He’s on the taxiway.”
The air traffic controller then apparently realizes the danger of the Air Canada plane crashing into the four aircraft on the ground, and orders the pilot to pull up and make another approach.
A pilot from one of the planes on the ground is then heard saying: “United One, Air Canada flew directly over us.”
“If it is true, what happened probably came close to the greatest aviation disaster in history,” retired United Airlines Capt Ross Aimer, CEO of Aero Consulting Experts, told the Mercury News.
“If you could imagine an Airbus colliding with four passenger aircraft wide bodies, full of fuel and passengers, then you can imagine how horrific this could have been,” he said.
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE)
The first hints of an uncertain future for the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS came last year, when Donald Trump’s presidential campaign refused to meet with advocates for people living with HIV, said Scott Schoettes, a member of the council since 2014.
That unease was magnified on Inauguration Day in January, when an official White House website for the Office of National AIDS Policy vanished, Schoettes said.
“I started to think, was it going to be useful or wise or would it be possible to work with this administration?” Schoettes told The Washington Post. “Still, I made a decision to stick it out and see what we could do.”
Less than six months later, Schoettes said those initial reservations had given way to full-blown frustration over a lack of dialogue with or caring from Trump administration officials about issues relating to HIV or AIDS.
Last Tuesday, he and five others announced they were quitting Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS, also known as PACHA. According to Schoettes, the last straw – or “more like a two-by-four than a straw” – had come in May, after the Republican-dominated House of Representatives passed the American Health Care Act, which he said would have “devastating” effects on those living with HIV.
“The Trump Administration has no strategy to address the on-going HIV/AIDS epidemic, seeks zero input from experts to formulate HIV policy, and – most concerning – pushes legislation that will harm people living with HIV and halt or reverse important gains made in the fight against this disease,” Schoettes wrote in a blistering guest column for Newsweek announcing the resignations.
The column also pointed out that Trump has still not appointed anyone to head the White House Office of National AIDS Policy, which former president Barack Obama had done 36 days after his own inauguration.
“Within 18 months, that new director and his staff crafted the first comprehensive U.S. HIV/AIDS strategy. By contrast, President Trump appears to have no plan at all,” Schoettes wrote. “Public health is not a partisan issue … If the President is not going to engage on the subject of HIV/AIDS, he should at least continue policies that support people living with and at higher risk for HIV and have begun to curtail the epidemic.”
The column was co-signed by the five other members of the council who had resigned, including Lucy Bradley-Springer, Gina Brown, Ulysses W. Burley III, Grissel Granados and Michelle Ogle. As of Monday morning, their bios remained on PACHA’s government website.
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘KQED’ AND ‘MIND/SHIFT’)
By Juli Fraga
Two years ago, principal Diane Lau-Yee grew concerned when she saw how family tragedies were impacting her students at Gordon J. Lau Elementary School in San Francisco’s Chinatown.
“Some of the students were acting out their feelings of confusion and anger by starting fights with their peers, while other children shut down and stopped participating in class,” says Lau-Yee.
When children are struggling at home, it’s often harder for them to concentrate in school. And if kids experience trauma — such as the death of a family member, divorce or witnessing family or community violence — research shows that kids will have more difficulty tolerating frustration, controlling their impulses and managing their aggression.
Lau-Yee wanted to equip her students with emotional tools that could help them manage these overwhelming feelings. So, she decided to enlist the help of a furry friend named Stanley, a therapeutic dog who is beloved by many children in the community. She hoped that Stanley could teach the kids about empathy, as well as nourish a deeper love of literacy among the students, too.
While many people are familiar with therapeutic pets and how they can help lift up people’s spirits, bringing them into the classroom might sound far-fetched. How can a therapy pet possibly teach children the life lessons of kindness and empathy? Can a pet really alter the way that students feel about learning?
Educational therapist Rebecca Barker Bridges believed that a dog could help students feel more confident about learning, and so she adopted Stanley, a golden retriever.
“I learned about therapy dogs from a colleague, and I knew that Stanley could help these children,” says Bridges.
She also says that research on pet therapy shows that animals connect people to each other and that this bond strengthens their ability to work together.
“Pets are very nonjudgmental, and their calming presence distills stressful situations,” Bridges says. “For children who feel insecure about their capacity to do things like reading, therapy pets bolster their self-confidence, which reduces their anxiety.”
“Students feel self-conscious about reading because they’re afraid of being judged by students and teachers if they don’t do a ‘good job.’ But Stanley dismantles this fear for them. He makes learning joyful,” says Bridges.
Lau-Yee had learned about Stanley through a colleague, and she invited Bridges and the dog to visit her pre-K, kindergarten and first-grade students during a school assembly.
“I introduced Stanley to the students, and I read them a book that I wrote about his work as a therapy dog,” says Bridges, whose book is titled “Meet Stanley: The Reading Dog.” The book tells the story of Stanley’s job as a reading dog and how he’s trained to listen to children read. The book also shares that Stanley is an expert listener who is always encouraging, supportive and patient with all children who interact with him.
After the presentation, the students were invited to meet Stanley. Bridges says that Stanley’s presence sparked the children’s curiosity and that they asked him a lot of questions.
“Stanley, what do you like to eat?” asked one student.
“What’s it like to be a therapy dog, do you get paid for your work?” asked another.
“Stanley, do you get a summer vacation from your job?”
A THERAPEUTIC LESSON
Bridges says that therapy pets allow children to focus on the animal instead of feeling self-conscious themselves. She says that this is a therapeutic distraction technique that relieves children of their worries, which helps their performance when reading.
“Children love interacting with Stanley, and this connection also teaches them about kindness and empathy,” she says.
Lau-Yee used Stanley’s visit as a way to create a social and emotional lesson for the students.
“After Stanley’s visit, I told the students that Stanley is a helper who never judges others but offers them a lot of support merely by listening,” she said. “I also explained how people need different forms of support to help them do things like reading, sort through their feelings and solve problems. I encouraged the students to help each other out, too.”
Lau-Yee says that the teachers also used Stanley’s visit to teach the students that there are many unconventional ways to learn things and that his visit also helped foster a love of literacy among the children.
FINDING A READING BUDDY
While Lau-Yee’s students were fortunate to meet Stanley in person, she says that he doesn’t need to make a physical appearance for students to benefit from his services.
“Educators can read Stanley’s book and talk about the ways that we can incorporate service into our learning with trusted friends, such as big buddies, peers and older siblings.”
Bridges, who also visits libraries, says that educators can also reach out to their local SPCA to inquire if they have therapy dogs available. She also says that teachers can use a class pet as a “Stanley substitute.”
Several programs nationwide offer training and canines to help kids with reading, such as Intermountain Therapy Animals’ Reading Education Assistance Dogs program. There are also some organizations like Therapy Dogs International that have community programs called Tail Waggin’ Tutors. They provide therapy dogs that can help children learn how to read, too.
Some schools have a no-pet policy, and in those cases, Bridges recommends using a stuffed animal instead.
“You can apply the same principles to a stuffed animal. The most important thing is to give the child some space so that they can read to their pet (even if it isn’t a real one) in privacy, which helps them to feel safe,” she says.
Juli Fraga is a psychologist and writer in San Francisco. You can find her on Twitter @dr_fraga
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE MERCURY NEWS)
President Donald Trump has had a lot on his plate in recent weeks — defending his administration from news of a criminal investigation by the FBI for alleged Russia collusion, rallying support for a controversial health care bill.
Somehow amid all that, the president, or his lawyers acting on their own, decided to go after a teenage girl from San Francisco, the Hollywood Reporter said.
Apparently, America’s commander in chief took issue with the girl’s website Kittenfeed.com. Originally called Trumpscratch.com, the site allows users to punch an animated image of Trump’s face with tiny kitten paws. It comes with the tagline: “Trump seems very tough at first but he gets weaker with every scratch.”
The girl, identified as “Lucy,” told the Observer that she developed the site, with its #Trumpcat hashtag, for fun while applying for web developer jobs. Little did she know that her site, which only drew 1700 visitors after its launch in February, had attracted the notice of the most important political leader on earth.
On March 1, she said she received a cease and desist letter from The Trump Organization. The letter claims her site infringed on the “internationally known and famous” Trump trademark.
After Lucy changed the domain name, she received another letter from the Trump Organization because her site linked to an anti-Trump shirt that is available for purchase on Amazon. Lucy told the Hollywood Reporter that she removed the link, and hasn’t heard anything from the campaign since.
Lucy is not alone in thinking that the president should have better things to with his time than to ask his lawyers to go after a teenager for creating a silly website.
“I really just want people to be aware that this is a president who’s clearly more concerned about what people think of him than doing things of substance,” she told the Hollywood Reporter.
However, she said she’s not surprised he might be so easily provoked by her site, given that he wages Twitter feuds with former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger over ratings for his former reality TV show “Celebrity Apprentice.”
“Literally all my site is, is punching him with kitten paws,” she said. “A president should not have the time or care to hire people to shut sites like mine down. He should be running the country, not tweeting about TV ratings or anything else like that.”
Not surprisingly, the moves by Trump’s lawyers have had the opposite effect of their intention. After the Observer originally published its report on Tuesday, the site’s visitors surged from 3,000 to 50,000.
However, the site was down on Wednesday, possibly from so many users trying to access it.
The lesson here is that Trump may talk a tough game as president, but he and his tough, high-priced attorneys are no match for animated kittens.
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)
SAN FRANCISCO — Uber has for years engaged in a worldwide program to deceive the authorities in markets where its low-cost ride-hailing service was being resisted by law enforcement or, in some instances, had been outright banned.
The program, involving a tool called Greyball, uses data collected from the Uber app and other techniques to identify and circumvent officials. Uber used these methods to evade the authorities in cities such as Boston, Paris and Las Vegas, and in countries like Australia, China, Italy and South Korea.
Greyball was part of a broader program called VTOS, short for “violation of terms of service,” which Uber created to root out people it thought were using or targeting its service improperly. The VTOS program, including the Greyball tool, began as early as 2014 and remains in use, predominantly outside the United States. Greyball was approved by Uber’s legal team.
Greyball and the broader VTOS program were described to The New York Times by four current and former Uber employees, who also provided documents. The four spoke on the condition of anonymity because the tools and their use are confidential and because of fear of retaliation by the company.
Uber’s use of Greyball was recorded on video in late 2014, when Erich England, a code enforcement inspector in Portland, Ore., tried to hail an Uber car downtown as part of a sting operation against the company.
At the time, Uber had just started its ride-hailing service in Portland without seeking permission from the city, which later declared the service illegal. To build a case against the company, officers like Mr. England posed as riders, opening the Uber app to hail a car and watching as the miniature vehicles on the screen made their way toward the potential fares.
But unknown to Mr. England and other authorities, some of the digital cars they saw in their Uber apps were never there at all. The Uber drivers they were able to hail also quickly canceled. That was because Uber had tagged Mr. England and his colleagues — essentially Greyballing them as city officials — based on data collected from its app and through other techniques. Uber then served up a fake version of its app that was populated with ghost cars, to evade capture.
At a time when Uber is already under scrutiny for its boundary-pushing workplace culture, the Greyball tool underscores the lengths to which the company will go to win in its business. Uber has long flouted laws and regulations to gain an edge against entrenched transportation providers, a modus operandi that has helped propel the company into more than 70 countries and to a valuation close to $70 billion.
Yet using its app to identify and sidestep authorities in places where regulators said the company was breaking the law goes further in skirting ethical lines — and potentially legal ones, too. Inside Uber, some of those who knew about the VTOS program and how the Greyball tool was being used were troubled by it.
In a statement, Uber said, “This program denies ride requests to users who are violating our terms of service — whether that’s people aiming to physically harm drivers, competitors looking to disrupt our operations, or opponents who collude with officials on secret ‘stings’ meant to entrap drivers.”
Dylan Rivera, a spokesman for the Portland Bureau of Transportation, said in a statement: “We’re very concerned to hear that this practice continued at least into 2015 and affected other cities.
“We take any effort to undermine our efforts to protect the public very seriously,” Mr. Rivera said.
Uber, which lets people hail rides from a smartphone app, operates multiple kinds of services, including a luxury Black Car one in which drivers are commercially licensed. But one Uber service that many regulators have had problems with is the company’s lower-cost service, known as UberX in the United States.
UberX essentially lets people who have passed a cursory background check and vehicle inspection to become an Uber driver quickly. In the past, many cities banned the service and declared it illegal.
That’s because the ability to summon a noncommercial driver — which is how UberX drivers who use their private vehicles are typically categorized — often had no regulations around it. When Uber barreled into new markets, it capitalized on the lack of rules to quickly enlist UberX drivers, who were not commercially licensed, and put them to work before local regulators could prohibit them from doing so.
After authorities caught up, the company and officials generally clashed — Uber has run into legal hurdles with UberX in cities including Austin, Tex., Philadelphia and Tampa, Fla., as well as internationally. Eventually, the two sides came to an agreement, and regulators developed a legal framework for the low-cost service.
That approach has been costly. Law enforcement officials in some cities have impounded or ticketed UberX drivers, with Uber generally picking up those costs on behalf of the drivers. Uber has estimated thousands of dollars in lost revenue for every vehicle impounded and ticket dispensed.
This is where the VTOS program and the use of the Greyball tool came in. When Uber moved into a new city, it appointed a general manager to lead the charge. The manager would try to spot enforcement officers using a set of technologies and techniques.
One method involved drawing a digital perimeter, or “geofence,” around authorities’ offices on a digital map of the city that Uber monitored. The company watched which people frequently opened and closed the app — a process internally called “eyeballing” — around that location, which signified that the user might be associated with city agencies.
Other techniques included looking at the user’s credit card information and whether that card was tied directly to an institution like a police credit union.
Enforcement officials involved in large-scale sting operations to catch Uber drivers also sometimes bought dozens of cellphones to create different accounts. To circumvent that tactic, Uber employees went to that city’s local electronics stores to look up device numbers of the cheapest mobile phones on sale, which were often the ones bought by city officials, whose budgets were not sizable.
In all, there were at least a dozen or so signifiers in the VTOS program that Uber employees could use to assess whether users were new riders or very likely city officials.
If those clues were not enough to confirm a user’s identity, Uber employees would search social media profiles and other available information online. Once a user was identified as law enforcement, Uber Greyballed him or her, tagging the user with a small piece of code that read Greyball followed by a string of numbers.
When a tagged officer called a car, Uber could scramble a set of ghost cars inside a fake version of the app for that person, or show no cars available at all. If a driver accidentally picked up an officer, Uber occasionally called the driver with instructions to end the ride.
Uber employees said the practices and tools were partly born out of safety measures for drivers in certain countries. In France, Kenya and India, for instance, taxi companies and workers targeted and attacked new Uber drivers.
“They’re beating the cars with metal bats,” Courtney Love, the singer and celebrity, tweeted from an Uber car at a time of clashes between the company and taxi drivers in Paris in 2015. Ms. Love said protesters had ambushed her Uber ride and held her driver hostage. “This is France? I’m safer in Baghdad.”
Uber has said it was also at risk from tactics used by taxi and limousine companies in certain markets. In Tampa, for instance, Uber referred to collusion between the local transportation authority and taxi companies in fighting ride-hailing services.
In those environments, Greyballing started as a way to scramble the locations of UberX drivers to prevent competitors from finding them. Uber said it remained the primary use of the tool today.
But as Uber moved into new markets, its engineers saw that those same techniques and tools could also be used for evading law enforcement. Once the Greyball tool was put in place and tested, Uber engineers created a playbook with a list of tactics and distributed it to general managers in more than a dozen countries across five continents.
At least 50 to 60 people inside Uber knew about Greyball, and some had qualms about whether it was ethical or legal. Greyball was approved by Uber’s legal team, headed by Salle Yoo, the general counsel. Ryan Graves, an early hire who became senior vice president of global operations and a board member, was also aware of the program.
Ms. Yoo and Mr. Graves did not respond to a request for comment.
Outside scholars said they were unsure of the program’s legality. Greyball could be considered a violation of the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, or possibly intentional obstruction of justice, depending on local laws and jurisdictions, said Peter Henning, a law professor at Wayne State University, who also writes for The New York Times.
“With any type of systematic thwarting of the law, you’re flirting with disaster,” Mr. Henning said. “We all take our foot off the gas when we see the police car at the intersection up ahead, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But this goes far beyond avoiding a speed trap.”
To date, Greyballing has been effective. In Portland that day in late 2014, Mr. England, the enforcement officer, did not catch an Uber, according to local reports.
And two weeks after Uber began dispatching drivers in that city, the company reached an agreement with local officials for UberX to be legally available there.
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE USA TODAY NEWSPAPER)
The wife of Omar Mateen, the man who killed 49 people in a shooting rampage at a Orlando nightclub last June, was arrested Monday on a charge of obstructing justice, a federal law enforcement official told USA TODAY.
Noor Salman was taken into custody by the FBI at her Northern California home, The New York Times reports.
The law enforcement official, who was not authorized to speak publicly about the case, told USA TODAY Salman will likely face her first court appearance Tuesday.
CBS News said Salman also faces a charge of aiding and abetting.
Salman, in interviews with federal investigators after the shooting, allegedly acknowledged driving Mateen to the Pulse nightclub at least once before her husband launched the assault.
Salman told the Times in November that she was unaware of his true intentions until he sent her a 4:00 AM text message the night of the shooting, asking if she had seen what happened on the news.
According to Salman, the last message from her husband was a text message saying, “I love you babe.”
Salman met Mateen online and they married in 2011. The couple has a 3-year-old son. Salman, who has Palestinian roots, grew up in the small suburb of Rodeo, Calif., about 25 miles northeast of San Francisco.
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME NEWS)
(CNN) The morning after Election Day smacked Democrats with a combination of shock and sadness.
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF FOX NEWS)
A patriotic, pre-game celebration honoring law enforcement and first responders at a high school football game has drawn the ire of the New Jersey chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.
New Jersey’s Middletown High School South saluted more than 100 police officers and military personnel on Oct. 21.
The celebration culminated with teenage football players and police officers unfurling a massive American flag before singing the national anthem.
“A star-spangled celebration,” is how the Asbury Park Press described the festivities.
But the ACLU of New Jersey exploded with fury — accusing organizers of sending an “ominous, frightening message.”
In a letter to school leaders, the ACLU-NJ and the local chapter of the NAACP said the school was using the salute to “intimidate and ostracize people who express their views about systemic racism and social justice.”
The controversy stems in part from some comments Middletown Police Deputy Chief Stephen Dollinger made to the Asbury Park Press.
He reportedly told the newspaper that the salute was prompted by the behavior of San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
“It’s okay to stand up for social justice, inequality and reform,” he told the newspaper in advance of the football game. “It’s another thing to not stand up for the national anthem.”
Dollinger later said his remarks had been “twisted” and the event had nothing to do with the disgraced NFL quarterback or Black Lives Matter.
“I said we respect the rights of everybody to stand up for social justice and equality and reform, but we also respect our country and want to celebrate the first responders, the national anthem,” he told the newspaper.
Regardless, the idea of honoring those who protect and serve rankled the ACLU and their minions.
“The criticism the deputy police chief expressed for people who decline to stand for the national anthem in protest serves to erect walls between police and the communities they serve,” said ACLU-NJ policy counsel Dianna Houenou.
“The people police are sworn to protect and serve should not have to fear that the value officers assign to them is determined by the beliefs they hold,” she added.
Ms. Houenou fails to understand that police officers will come to the aid of any citizen – even those who spit on the badge and those who despise the flag.
Jasmine Crenshaw, another ACLU lackey, raged over the deputy chief’s behavior.
“The statements made by the deputy police chief and the event’s ostentatious show of power send an ominous, frightening message: that, as an official stance, law enforcement will not tolerate expressions acknowledging our nation’s history of unequal treatment and systematic oppression,” Crenshaw said.
“The magnitude of this event chills the belief that police should be held accountable when they abuse their power or discriminate against people of color, and pressures student athletes to act as props of the police,” she added.
Well, I want to salute the deputy police chief. He should be commended, not condemned for honoring first responders and our veterans.
I’m grown extremely tired of these anti-American agitators who have hijacked our sporting events and turned them into platforms to spew their hatred for the red, white and blue.
It’s a football game, folks – not a Million Man March.
Todd Starnes is host of Fox News & Commentary, heard on hundreds of radio stations. His latest book is “God Less America: Real Stories From the Front Lines of the Attack on Traditional Values.” Follow Todd on Twitter @ToddStarnes and find him on Facebook.
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