TUNIS/TRIPOLI (Reuters) – U.N. agencies said on Monday they were trying to provide urgent help to large numbers of migrants held and then stranded in the smuggling hub of Sabratha as rival factions battled for control of the city.
Theresa May has set out detailed plans for trade in case of a no-deal Brexit
Sex machine is going to take on a whole new meaning in years to come.
As Statista's Niall McCarthy notes, once the realm of science fiction fantasies, the technology behind anthropomorphic sex robots is advancing at a rapid pace.
Some observers believe the technology will become widespread in the near future and that sex with robots could even eclipse human love-making by 2050. It is highly controversial, however, with many feeling that the development of sex robots cannot be morally justified.
That begs the question: would you have sex with a robot? YouGov conducted a survey in an attempt to find out how Americans feel about the possibility of having a wild night with an actual sex machine. They found that while the vast majority of U.S. adults would turn down the chance of having sex with a robot, men are more likely to accept the offer than women.
You will find more statistics at Statista
1 in 4 men say they would consider having sex with a robot compared to just 1 in 10 women.
The research also shed some light on the moral consequences of having a mechanical fling. 32 percent of people would consider it cheating if their partner had sex with a robot while 33 percent would not. Interestingly, men are less likely to consider it cheating than women.
The UN has expanded sanctions on Pyongyang in response to its sixth and largest nuclear test.
Inflation will determine how bumpy the ride will be
One of Donald Trump’s campaign promises was the pledge to “rebuild the US military”, and it is one of the few of his initiatives that appears to enjoy broad bipartisan support.
The US Senate’s version of the defense appropriations bill provides for what amounts to a dramatic 10% increase in defense spending, or more than even the Trump Administration requested. The bill passed with a strong bipartisan majority and with hardly any debate. There is no reason to expect the House of Representatives will not follow suit.
This naturally raises the question: what is behind the sudden interest in boosting US defense spending, after a decade and a half of continuous war?
The official reason for the boost, and one that has some merit, is the sorry state of the US military. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, plus the various and sundry other operations against Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, not to mention the confrontations with Russia, China, and North Korea, have left the US military stretched thin and demoralized.
Much of the Army and Marine equipment pool has incurred significant wear and tear from operating in the hot and dusty Middle East conditions. The air force has been reduced to a collection of on-call bomb trucks supporting land operations. Even the navy, easily the least-engaged of the three services, has had to station carrier battle groups to contribute their airwings to the ground support mission, and thus justify the existence of the costly carrier fleet. The result is a force with significant morale and training problems which manifest themselves in crashing planes and colliding warships.
It is doubtful, however, that Congress is so eagerly “supporting the troops” for the reasons outlined above. As the recent US elections have demonstrated, the US economy’s softness is leading to unpredictable and uncontrollable election outcomes. Moreover, ideological opposition makes public spending extremely difficult to provide, with defense spending being the one solitary exception. The members of Congress are therefore supporting the defense appropriations bill with the expectation it will create jobs in their districts and states. Defense contractors themselves go out of their way to “educate” the legislators of the benefits associated with supporting this bill.
Donald Trump’s own motives likely aren’t all that different. While he campaigned on, for example, a “trillion-dollar investment in infrastructure,” the chances of such a program being passed by Congress are between slim and none. So offering a de-facto trillion-dollar increase in defense spending is the next best thing, as it may well translate into enough jobs in key states to ensure a margin of victory in the 2020 election.
But there is also a deeper sense to this effort, as the US establishment seems to try to re-enact the 1980s. And for a good reason. It was quite literally the last decade of America’s greatness, the last decade in which the country elected a president by a landslide–Ronald Reagan in 1984–and the last decade in which it scored a genuine, unalloyed geopolitical triumph in the form of the collapse of USSR and the emergence of the US as the sole hegemonic power. Therefore it is no surprise that US decisionmakers want to use it as a blueprint for repeating the earlier success.
Indeed, if one looks at the origins of America’s 1980s triumph, it is easy to see similarities between the current policies and US policies of 1970s and 1980s. The prescription for success looks something like this: first, end unpopular costly quagmire wars, retrench, carry out domestic reforms liberalizing the economy, run up national debt through massive deficit spending, pump hundreds of billions of dollars of new spending into a revitalized all-volunteer force benefiting from a technological leap forward, and watch the geopolitical benefits practically reap themselves!
But it’s unlikely this feat can be repeated.
There is no next generation of US weapons comparable to the Abrams and Bradley armored vehicles, F-15 and F-16 fighters, or AEGIS destroyers that would provide the US with the sort of qualitative advantage it enjoyed in the 1980s and 1990s. It seems highly unlikely the US will be able to extricate itself from the debilitating wars in the Middle East. Trump is no Nixon, he lacks the foreign policy credibility sufficient to persuade the US establishment to accept at least a temporary loss of influence in the Middle East. Most importantly, while Reagan benefited from a stagflationary economy that benefited from liberalization and deregulation, and a low level of national debt, Trump has neither. US economy is suffering from neoliberalism and globalization taken to their logical extremes, not over-regulation or over-taxation. The US national debt is reaching its historic maximums. And, last but not least, China today is an economic powerhouse while Russia’s economy is on a far more sound footing than the Soviet economy was in the 1970s and 1980s.
The danger here is that, aware that the time is not on their side, the US elites may engage in more international adventurism to a far greater extent than Reagan did in Grenada and Lebanon.
Unfortunately, there are few indications the US elites have accommodated themselves to the new, post-hegemonic, international balance of power, and the boost in military spending is a reflection of their efforts to recapture past glories. But it is unlikely they can reverse the process of US hegemonic decline. Indeed, this effort actually represents a still-heavier burden on the already weak US economy.
A new batch of 274 CIA documents connected with Bush era torture have just been made public as a result of a lawsuit brought by families of victims. Contained in the documents are newly unearthed details on the CIA’s “black site” program which reached its peak under Bush’s ‘war on terror’ as well as shocking details revealing how the agency integrated its contract psychologists into its ‘enhanced interrogation’ program in order to give torture a veneer of legality. While much of this story of CIA torture has already slowly come to light over the past few years, especially with the 2014 Senate Intelligence Committee report, the just released documents capture internal high level agency discussions revealing a cover-up in action.
Many of the memos focus on the CIA’s infamous ‘Cobalt’ site in Afghanistan (also code named The Salt Pit), routinely described in headlines as the “sadistic dungeon” and “dark prison” for its full sensory deprivation darkness which detainees experienced round the clock, sometimes for years, as well as the two psychologists credited with designing the program of brutal interrogation techniques: John “Bruce” Jessen and James Mitchell.
Two surviving prisoners and the family of a detainee who died at the Colbalt site reached an out-of-court settlement with the CIA psychologists in August after a lawsuit was brought for their role in the torture. As was hoped, the CIA and Pentagon were forced to declassify the documents related to the case in pretrial discovery.
Satellite image of Cobalt site, also called the Salt Pitt, from now public documents.
The documents show the psychologists had been directly involved in designing and implementing torture, and that the blurring of lines between CIA interrogators and the psychologists originally brought in for “research” and development of techniques had agency leadership worried over future legal ramifications. Jessen himself had spent 10 days at the Cobalt facility in November 2002 where he was involved in interrogating Gul Rahman – a suspected militant who died of hypothermia while chained naked from the waist down to a concrete floor. He died 5 days after Jessen left.
Ironically, a key fact rarely highlighted is that Gul Rahman was captured among Gulbuddin Hekmatyar’s Hezb-i-Islami faction, which itself had previously been funded and vastly expanded by the CIA as part of Operation Cyclone. By 2010 terror leader Hekmatyar himself would enter negotiations with then President Karzai, and by 2017 would be fully reconciled with the US-backed government in Kabul.
The Guardian further describes the now declassified documents as providing “the fullest picture yet of what the three men suffered [associated with the lawsuit] in that secret CIA dungeon – and of how fatefully their lives intersected with the rise and fall of James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, the men who designed the torture regime.”
Highlighted below are some revealing sections from the newly released batch of CIA torture memos – some of the below were already available before the latest release:
CIA contracted psychologists created an “Exploitation Draft Plan” which involved holding captives in soundproof cells in hidden facilities that were beyond the reach of the Red Cross, the press, and even internal US government oversight. The plan notes: No International Red Cross [IRC] nor even US observers. Detainees were essentially “disappeared” individuals and not even family members knowing their fates. Rahman’s family didn’t know of his whereabouts or death for seven years until an AP report unearthed his name. As noted in the below memo, Pentagon involvement ended with capture and transfer as a DoD psychologist accompanied the captive “unbeknown to the subject” after which the CIA psychologists would be involved in interrogation.
Particularly intense “interrogation” sessions involved medical personnel attending to detainee wounds, and even applying antibiotics, so that torture could continue: “The straps were removed: subjects breathing continued to be rapid. Subject was then instructed to off the [water] board under his own power, which he did. The interrogators pointed to the small box and said, ‘you know what to do.’… At 1130 hours, taken out of small box, hooded, and made to stand against a cell wall: at 1230 hrs, back into the large box (unhooded)–note that medical officers dressed as security team member at this time gave subject Betadine to clean wound. Subject was also given a topical antibiotic to apply to the leg wound… At 1450 hrs, back to large box. At 1601 hrs into small box: 1612 hrs, subject was heard crying/wimpering/chanting, 1635 went from small box to floor, sitting down hooded; and 1655 hrs, returned to large box, unhooded…”
CIA leadership envisioned that psychologists Jessen and Mitchel would provide a legally “defensible” veneer to torture sessions (after being paid $81 million). So long as their personal assessments vouched for detainees being of mentally sound mind, “enhanced interrogations” could be initiated. “In my read of the DOJ memo, providing we abide by our water board process on [redacted] (qualified medical staff present, the defensible exam is done and we follow our procedures) I believe the water board can be approved by CTC/LGL [CIA’s internal legal review team] without the need for further input from DOJ.” Jessen and Mitchel were paid $81 million by the CIA in the process.
CIA leadership suggested psych evals be done from afar based on mere review of a file in order to set up a minimally invasive rubber stamp process. “to get waterboard approvals, we need a psychological evaluation… [Name redacted] indicated that we need to make a ‘defensible’ psychological analysis indicating that, given the individual’s particular mental disposition, he would not suffer prolonged and sever psychological problems resulting from the enhanced interrogation techniques… can OTS make a defensible analysis based on a file review on the targets? Or do they need to have a psych eval done on the ground, face-to-face? [Name redacted] indicates that all it must [be] is ‘defensible.'”
Doctors and nurses were requested to be present during sessions. One email with the subject line “Medical coverage planning” asked “There would be nurses on site correct?” This was presumably to allow torture to continue after detainees were injured, wounded, or sick – while also preventing those running the program from being legally exposed to prosecution.
Internal admissions of “blatant disregard for ethics”: CIA contracted psychologists’ ethics were questioned even by colleagues. They “have both shown blatant disregard for the ethics shared by almost all of their colleagues.” Other emails admitted: “No professional in the field would credit their later judgments as psychologists assessing the subjects of their enhanced measures.” And also, “if some untoward outcome is later to be explained, their sole use in this role will be indefensible.”
Update (10:00 pm ET): President Trump has thrown his support once again behind Jerry Jones decision, following Al Sharpton's threats…
A big salute to Jerry Jones, owner of the Dallas Cowboys, who will BENCH players who disrespect our Flag."Stand for Anthem or sit for game!"
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 10, 2017
* * *
Update (4:00 pm ET): None other than Al Sharpton has already come out denouncing ESPN's decision to enforce their corporate bye-laws…
ESPN's suspension of Jemele Hill is an outrage and should NOT go unanswered. ESPN and advertisers will hear from us!
— Reverend Al Sharpton (@TheRevAl) October 9, 2017
Quiclkly followed by a full statement:
“We consider it outrageous that Jemele Hill was suspended by ESPN. She has the right to tell people that they ought to let advertisers know how they feel, since they are the consumers. While she didn’t call for a direct boycott, it’s not off the table for us in the civil rights community.”
* * *
Update (3:30 pm ET): ESPN has suspended host Hill for her second violation of the network’s social media guidelines on Monday after she urged her twitter followers to boycott the Dallas Cowboys' advertisers.
Here's ESPN's statement:
ESPN's Statement on Jemele Hill: pic.twitter.com/JkVoBVz7lv
— ESPN PR (@ESPNPR) October 9, 2017
* * *
Having been reprimanded by her boss (and President Trump) for her previous divisive remarks, ESPN's Jamele Hill called on football fans to boycott advertisers who are aligned with teams pushing back against 'kneeling'.
As a reminder, after her last outburst, here is what ESPN president John Skipper said in a memo to staffers:
"ESPN is about sports… It is not a political organization."
So much for that…
As Fox News reports, the ESPN anchor who called President Trump a “white supremacist” on Twitter last month is now calling for a boycott of advertisers aligned with "America's Team."
If you strongly reject what Jerry Jones said, the key is his advertisers. Don't place the burden squarely on the players. https://t.co/Gc48kchkuv
— Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) October 9, 2017
Jemele Hill, host of "SC6," called on fans to take indirect action against the Dallas Cowboys after owner Jerry Jones told players they would be benched if they didn't stand up during the national anthem.
Hill, an outspoken liberal, tweeted that Jones “has created a problem for his players, specifically the black ones… If they don't kneel, some will see them as sellouts.”
The ESPN host wrote, “By drawing a line in the sand, Jerry put his players under more scrutiny and threw them under the bus… If the rationale behind JJ's stance is keeping the fanbase happy, make him see that he is underestimated how all of his fanbase feels.”
She urged “paying customers” to “boycott his advertisers” if they don’t agree with Jones’ comments.
Hill quoted a list of Cowboys’ advertisers in one of her tweets, which included AT&T, Bank of America, Dr. Pepper Snapple Group, Ford Motors, MillerCoors and Pepsi, and sent a message to her 760,000-plus Twitter followers.
“Change happens when advertisers are impacted,” Hill wrote. “If you strongly reject what Jerry Jones said, the key is his advertisers.”
However, as Daily Caller’s David Hookstead wrote…
“The NFL is the biggest crutch keeping ESPN alive. If the NFL cuts ties, which would be reasonable if the network’s employees start calling for a boycott, ESPN would be in massive trouble."
“Not sure how happy ESPN management will be with an employee telling NFL fans to boycott NFL related sponsors, given the fact that ESPN needs the NFL to stay alive.”
Let's see John Skip[per squirm out of this one.