Julian Assange’s Fate Is Being Decided At The Moment

Ecuador is holding high level discussions with Britain over the fate of Julian Assange, who has been living in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since 2012 after being granted political asylum, according to comments made by President Lenin Moreno to Spain’s El Pais daily newspaper. 

“The issue of Mr. Assange is being treated with the British government and I understand that we have already established contact with Mr. Assange’s lawyers so we can find a way out.

Not true, says Assange’s Attorney Carlos Poveda in a

Niega la defensa de Assange que Quito la haya contactado https://t.co/QU37hI3gDZ

— #FreeAssange! (tweets by campaign)⌛ (@JulianAssange) July 29, 2018

“>Sunday LaJournada article retweeted by the official WikiLeaks Twitter account. 

The defense of Julian Assange is concerned about the contradictions of the government of Ecuador, which claims to be seeking a solution to the asylum of the founder of Wikileaks through dialogue, with all parties, but refuses to meet with their lawyers, said Carlos Poveda, one of the activist’s lawyers. –LaJournada (translated)

“We have followed very closely the statements of President Lenin Moreno both in the United Kingdom and Spain,” said Poveda. “And I must warn that even the legal team that presides (the former judge of the Spanish Supreme Court) Baltasar Garzón requested a hearing to meet in London or Madrid, but they told him that Moreno’s schedule was full during the whole tour.”

In other words – Moreno is talking out of both sides of his mouth while feigning a new found concern for Assange’s fate (after referring to the WikiLeaks founder as a “hacker”, “an inherited problem” and a “stone in the shoe”).

We know how (Moreno) addresses the issue , said Poveda, who said that the president’s statements leave us confused.

In relation to the recent declarations of the Ecuadorian agent chief executive, of which his government is in “permanent” communication with London and with the legal team of Assange, Poveda maintained that that does not happen.

 –LaJournada (translated)

According to Poveda, Assange’s legal team is still awaiting a response from two letters sent from Madrid weeks ago requesting that Ecuador “explain the situation.” 

Assange has been holed up in the embassy since 2012. Though Sweden long ago dropped its request that Assange be extradicted, he is still struggling with legal issues in the UK: Earlier this year, a UK court declined to reverse his arrest warrant for violating his bail terms when he initially took refuge at the embassy. Wikileaks has released thousands of diplomatic cables belonging to the US, and US officials, including Attorney General Jeff Sessions, have said Assange’s arrest is a “priority.”

In March, Ecuador cut Assange off from the outside world – blocking his internet and phone communications over violating a promise not to interfere with other countries’ affairs. 

Assange particularly drew the ire of Ecuador by angering the Spanish government with his support for separatist leaders in Spain’s Catalonia region who sought to secede last year. –France24

Moreno told El Pais that the “ideal” solution would be for Assange to endure some sort of UK penalty for violating his parole, before he is extradited to a country “where there is no danger.” 

Two weeks ago, reports surfaced in the UK media that high level talks were happening between UK and Ecuadorian officials to try and remove Assange from the embassy.

Foreign Office Minister Sir Alan Duncan is said to be spearheading the diplomatic effort. Sources close to Assange said he himself was not aware of the talks – supporting his attorney’s claim that they’ve been kept in the dark, while Assange believes that America has been putting “significant pressure” on Ecuador, including threatening to block an IMF loan, if he continues to stay at the embassy. 

Furthermore, as we pointed out weeks ago, the United States imported a record amount of crude from Ecuador (a massive unprecedented surge all of a sudden), which begs the question…was there a payoff?

More 30-Year-Olds Still Living With Their Parents, Study Finds

Young adults are now more likely to live with their parents than in any other living arrangement, according to new analysis of demographic data published by Axios, reflecting trends of the last half decade. And it’s not just a college grad thing anymore as even 30-year-old millennials are now more likely to stay at home while still paying off school loan debt and earning the same or less income than boomers.

Axios concludes of what it is to be 30 then and now that, “In the mid-to-late-20th century, the American economy and culture were ripe for 30-year-old men, who — more than European and Japanese — typically landed well-paid careers, bought homes, and supported large families. But since then, getting ahead has become much harder.

So what forces continue to steer people into their parents’ basements? 

from “Failure to Launch” (2006)

Naturally, Millennials probably took it for granted that they’d successfully imitate their parents and even surpass them in areas of establishing a financially secure family by their late 20’s or early 30’s, being debt-free while saving for retirement, and earning higher wages than their parents, but the numbers suggest this isn’t happening.

Though now comprising almost a quarter of the population and as the largest demographic currently in the workforce, their median salaries are lower or the same as the prior generation, yet as Axios finds “the financial burdens they carry are heavier, limiting how much their lifestyle can mirror that of their parents.”

* * *

Here’s what it is to be your parents’ thirty vs. being thirty today by the numbers:

Data, via Axios: College attendancemedian income, and home ownership from U.S. Census Bureau; cost of tuition from CollegeBoard; median debt from “The Great American Debt Boom, 1948-2013” by Alina Bartscher, Moritz Kuhn, Moritz Schularick and Ulrike I. Steins; marriage figures from a Pew Research Center analysis of the 1960-2000 decennial censuses and 2010 and 2016 American Community Survey (IPUMS). Note: All dollars are inflation-adjusted to 2016. Chart: Harry Stevens/Axios

The data suggests:

  • A break with prior American rites of passage, including marriage and child-bearing. According to some demographers, this break could slow economic growth.

  • Men are more likely to earn less. In 1975, only a quarter of 25 to 34-year-old men made less than $30K per year, but that number rose to 41% in 2016.

  • As a measure of upward mobility, 92% of 30-year-olds in 1970 earned more than their parents at that age, according to a 2016 study led by Raj Chetty, a Stanford economist (h/t Roger Lowenstein). But of those who were 30 in 2014, just half earned more. 

  • Chetty attributed most of this erosion to slower GDP growth and a change in the distribution of GDP favoring higher earners: GDP would have to rise by 6% a year to get the same impact, he said, and wealth would have to be distributed much more evenly.
  • In other words, Chetty suggested, it has become much, much harder for young lower- and middle-income workers to earn as much of the nation’s growing wealth as they once did.

* * *

In 2015 Millennials set a 75-year record for highest percentage of young adults living at home with mom:

As Axios explains further, 30-year-olds today are:

  • Living with their parents: In 1975, when the oldest Boomers were 29, 57% of 18 to 34- year-olds lived with a spouse in their own household. Even as late as 1990, almost half lived with a partner. But in 2016, 31% were living in their parents’ home, making it the new, most common living arrangement for young adultsaccording to Census data.

  • Paying more for college: In 1975, college tuition cost $2,450 for public, four-year colleges (in 2017 dollars). In 2017, it was almost $10,000, according to the CollegeBoard.

  • In more debt: In 1989, less than 20% of families had student debt, compared with 41% in 2013, according to the Census. The amount owed almost tripled in that time.

  • Less likely to be homeowners: 57% of 30 to 34-year-olds were homeowners in 1982, compared with just 45% in 2017.

But many young Americans are still opting not to own, but rather rent, which is a factor…

And other drivers of the trend are as follows:

  • The impact of significant student debt can be seen in lower marriage rates, according to Dora Gicheva, an economist at UNC Greensboro.
  • In 2017, 57% of millennials were never married. In 1985 — when boomers were around the same age — only a third had never been married, Pew Research’s Richard Fry told Axios. Even accounting for unmarried living partners does not make up the difference, he said.

  • Having fewer children: When Boomers were in their 20s, the fertility rate was 2.48, well beyond the replacement level of 2.1. Today, it is just 1.76.

  • When a recent survey asked why they were having fewer kids, most young adults said “child care is too expensive.”

Generally, Millennials are best represented in the labor force yet are still most likely to live with their parents.

Richard Jackson, president of the Global Aging Institute, told Axios “Millennials are more risk averse than earlier generations at the same age. People 50 or even 25 years ago didn’t wait to be ‘financially well established’ before starting a family. Now it’s considered irresponsible not to.”

After A Week Online, NATO’s Latest ‘Counter-Disinfo’ Facebook Game Is A Complete Flop

We might consider this a bit of lighthearted weekend humor, but unfortunately it’s all too real and all too lame, especially considering significant funding and resources actually went into this. And given that it’s NATO, somebody’s tax dollars had to actually foot the bill. But even NBC’s write-up of the story comes close to making fun of NATO’s latest attempt to combat fake news in pointing out that reaction… appears to muted”.

NATO a week ago launched its newly unveiled “weapon in the disinformation battleground” to counter the big scary Russians and all others bent on manipulating the news toward their own sinister ends, as NBC explains:

Researchers at the defense alliance have developed a Facebook game that they believe can help people to be more discerning when sharing news online.

Initial reaction to the game, which is called The News Hero, appears to be muted. By Friday morning, it had received just 50 likes and one share.

YouTube screengrab from the NATO-created online game “The News Hero”

The online game is designed to be played and shared on Facebook, and far from being some kind of action/spy or historical thriller (which might actually be somewhat interesting among the youth it aims to target), it places gamers in the position of being a news publisher in a professional newsroom

Players have to decide whether the headlines that pass their virtual ‘desk’ are real or fake. The game’s creator’s say they’re seeking to educate the Western public on how to properly discern real news from fake news or worse, Russian state disinformation campaigns.

The News Hero was developed over a period of four months by a team of eight people at the NATO Strategic Communications Center of Excellence in Latvia, which bills itself as “focused on countering misinformation campaigns” (yes, the name of this NATO unit is real).

NBC’s report noted the developers were not forthcoming with just how much money was spent on the project. 

Here’s the brief game primer for ‘The News Hero’ hosted on an official NATO Stratcom account:

As Stars and Stripes explains, “the user is responsible for putting together a newspaper free of the phony. With the help of trusty assistant Bronco, you decide what is real and what is fake.”

Or rather, you decide what NATO wants you to identify as fake, or real, or disinfo, or untrustworthy as a source

The NATO-created “News Hero” Facebook game launched a week ago.

Though the online game launched last Monday — a full week ago — it now has… wait for it… a whopping 3 shares and 123 ‘likes’ as of late in the day Sunday. 

So it appears people aren’t even so much as making the effort to share it out of mockery, much less actually playing and promoting the game. 

The News Hero Facebook page describes the rules and objectives as follows: 

To get your company noticed and gain an audience, you must publish accurate news. Pay attention to the hints provided in the Fact Checker screen and verify the incoming stories. With each level becoming increasingly difficult you can hire new assistants and obtain things to customize your office. This will boost performance of your employees and help you earn more. The game is divided into three levels, each informing the player on how to distinguish between the fact and the fiction. Are you up for the challenge? Invite your friends and climb the leaderboard!

And Stars and Stripes explains some of the ‘fake vs. true’ news scenarios presented in the game as follows

Is Justin Timberlake really an anti-vaccination activist? Did a lady in Detroit really train a squirrel to attack her boyfriend?

In The News Hero, you have to decide — though a fact-checker does most of the thinking for you.

If you’re right, you gain virtual currency and a larger audience as reader trust grows for your news organization. If only it were so easy in the perilous real news world, where profits are elusive and clickbait an ever-growing lure.

One of the two reviews on the game’s Facebook page sarcastically quips: OK. So this is the ‘push back’. An ‘A’ for effort!

It’s interesting to recall that ahead of and during the NATO summit in Brussels earlier this month President Donald Trump made headlines for berating other NATO member states for not living up to a prior 2014 pledge for member states to reach two percent spending of GDP on defense by 2024.

However, we doubt that the president had such further projects as The News Hero in mind when he called for more NATO defense spending. The online game is clearly a complete and utter flop. 

Facebook, Zuck Sued By “Shocked” Shareholders As “The Truth” Emerges

Following a disappointing earnings announcement that wiped out about $120 billion of shareholder wealth, Facebook, its CEO and CFO, are being sued by a shareholder potentially opening the floodgates for sore-losing stock market gamblers the world over.

“As a result of Defendants’ wrongful acts and omissions, and the precipitous decline in the market value of the Company’s common shares, Plaintiff and other Class members have suffered significant losses and damages

Who could have seen that coming?

The complaint filed by shareholder James Kacouris in Manhattan federal court accused Facebook, Zuckerberg and Chief Financial Officer David Wehner of making misleading statements about or failing to disclose slowing revenue growth, falling operating margins, and declines in active users.

Kacouris said the marketplace was “shocked” when “the truth” began to emerge on Wednesday from the Menlo Park, California-based company. He said the 19 percent plunge in Facebook shares the next day stemmed from federal securities law violations by the defendants.

“The Individual Defendants possessed the power and authority to control the contents of Facebook’s SEC filings, press releases, and other market communications. The Individual Defendants were provided with copies of the Company’s SEC filings and press releases alleged herein to be misleading prior to or shortly after their issuance and had the ability and opportunity to prevent their issuance or to cause them to be corrected.

Because of their positions with the Company, and their access to material information available to them but not to the public, the Individual Defendants knew that the adverse facts specified herein had not been disclosed to and were being concealed from the public, and that the positive representations being made were then materially false and misleading. The Individual Defendants are liable for the false statements and omissions pleaded herein.”

Presumably Mr Kacouris would have preferred if Zuck had leaked the material non-public information to him first so he could have unwound his holdings in Facebook shares and avoided the losses from reality suddenly biting on a stock that has grown to the proverbial skies.

As Reuters notes, shareholders often sue companies in the United States after unexpected stock price declines, especially if the loss of wealth is large. The lawsuit seeks class-action status and unspecified damages. A Facebook spokeswoman declined to comment.

Full Docket below…