Russian troll factory paid US activists to help fund protests during election

Investigation in RBC newspaper determines Russians posing as Americans made pays to activists to help with the organisation of protests and events

Russian trolls posing as Americans built pays to genuine activists in the US to help fund protest motions on socially divisive issues, according to a new investigation by a respected Russian media outlet.

On Tuesday, the newspaper RBC published a major investigation into the work of a so-called Russian “troll factory” since 2015, including during the period of the US election campaign, disclosures that are likely to set further spotlight on alleged Russian meddling in the election.

The existence of the troll factory, which has a history of spamming Russian and English blogs and comment forums, has been reported on by many outlets including the Guardian, but the RBC investigation is the first in-detail look at the organisation’s activity during the election period.

RBC said it had identified 118 accounts or groups in Facebook, Instagram and Twitter that were linked to the troll factory, all of which had been blocked in August and September this year as part of the US investigation into Russian electoral meddling.

Many of the accounts had already been linked to Russian disinformation efforts in western outlets, but RBC said its sources at the troll factory had provided screenshots of the internal group administration pages of some of the groups, as proof the latter are run away from Russia. It also spoke to former and current employees of the troll factory, all of whom spoke anonymously.

Perhaps the most alarming component of the article was the claim that employees of the troll factory had contacted about 100 real US-based activists to help with the organisation of protests and events. RBC claimed the activists were contacted by Facebook group administrators concealing their Russian origin and were offered financial help to pay for transport or print expenses. About $80,000 was expended during a two-year period, according to the report.

The main topics covered by the groups run from Russia were race relations, Texan independence and handgun rights. RBC counted 16 groups pertaining to the Black Lives Matter campaign and other race a matter that had a total of 1.2 million subscribers. The biggest group was entitled Blacktivist and reportedly had more than 350,000 likes at its peak.

Last month, CNN also reported that US authorities believed the Blacktivist Facebook group and Twitter account were the work of Russian impostors.

The infiltration of American social networks by Russian trolls and bots appears to be the conclusion of an operation that began by targeting the Russian-language internet space, grew to encompass specific comments pages of western newspapers and blogs, and eventually seems to have led to the creation of whole Facebook communities designed to look like they are run by ordinary Americans.

Two years ago, the Guardian spoke with two people who worked at the” troll farm “. They would clock on at the building on Savushkina St each morning, turn on a VPN connection to disguise their place, and expend their days inhabiting fake personas on Russian social networks.

These profiles would post dozens of innocuous contemplations on traveling or baking, and then occasionally fill them out with politicised entries that mirrored Kremlin talking phases. Generally, the posts were either in kudo of President Vladimir Putin or about the “chaos” and “degeneration” of Europe, often with homophobic or racist undertones.

The Internet Research Agency, one of the companies believed to run the trolling operations, has long been rumoured to be a project of Evgeny Prigozhin, a shadowy industrialist known as” Putin’s chef”, who ran Putin’s favourite eatery in St Petersburg and later won billions of dollars worth of state catering contracts. A number of semi-legitimate news aggregating websites appear to be run by the same people as the troll operations.

Google has said Russian spies expended tens of thousands of dollars on targeted ads on YouTube, Google and Gmail, according to reports. Last month, Facebook released a statement saying it had detected $100,000 of ad spending on about 3,000 ads that it linked to 470 “inauthentic” accounts that it had linked to Russia. The company later clarified that the ads focused on” divisive social and political messages across the ideological spectrum “.

The company estimated that about 10 million Americans watched the ads, but interestingly also specified that only 44% of the impressions took place before last November’s election, constructing the Russian campaign look more like an attempt to sow general chaos rather than a narrowly focused electoral drive.

” The chore wasn’t to supporting Trump ,” one of the factory’s employees told RBC.” We raised social issues and other problems that already existed in the US, and tried to shine as bright a light as possible on them .” The employee said that because Clinton was part of the current regime, she was also a target.

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Man Booker prize goes to second American author in a row

George Saunders Lincoln in the Bardo described as unique and extraordinary by head of 2017 judging panel

The American short story writer George Saunders has won the Man Booker prize for his first full-length fiction, Lincoln in the Bardo.

The book is based around a real event: the night in 1862 when Abraham Lincoln buried his 11 -year-old son Willie in a Washington cemetery. Imagining the son trapped in the Bardo- a Tibetan Buddhist term for a kind of limbo- Saunders’ fiction follows the fellow dead, also trapped in the graveyard and unwilling to accept death, who observe the boy as he desperately waits for his father to return.

Written almost entirely in dialogue, the novel also includes snippets of historical text, biographies and letters, some of which contradict each other and others that Saunders, 58, created himself. In his review for the Guardian, fellow author Hari Kunzru praised Lincoln in the Bardo as” a tale of great formal daring”, adding: “[ It] stands head and shoulders above most contemporary fiction, proving a writer who is expanding his world outwards, and who clearly has many more pleasures to offer his readers .”

Accepting the award, athe 58 -yearold Texan-born author made an eloquent defence of the importance of culture.” If you haven’t noticed, we live in a strange hour, so the issues to at the heart of the matter is pretty simple ,” he said.” Do we respond to fear with exclusion and negative projection and violence? Or do we take that ancient great leap of faith and do our best to respond with love? And with religion in the idea that what seems other is actually not other at all, but only us on a different day.

” In the US we’re hearing a lot about the need to protect culture. Well this tonight is culture, it is international culture, it is compassionate culture, it is activist culture. It is a room full of believers in the word, in beauty and ambiguity and in trying to see the other person’s point of view, even when that is hard .”

The chair of judges, Lola Young, described the fiction as” an extraordinary piece of work. Acknowledging that she initially felt challenged by its layout, which is reminiscent of a screenplay, the Labour peer said she was eventually “captivated” by work which she came to regard as unique.

” The challenge is actually part of its uniqueness. It is almost saying,’ I dare you to engage with this kind of narrative, in this kind of style .’ It is incredibly rewarding.

” For us, it really stood out because of its innovation, its most varied styling, the style it, nearly paradoxically, brought to life these almost dead souls in this other world. There was this juxtaposition of the very personal misfortune of Abraham Lincoln and the death of his very young son next to his public life, as the person who really provoked the American civil war. You’ve got this individual death, very close and personal; you’ve got this much wider issue of the political scenario and the death of hundreds of thousands of young men; and then you’ve got this weird country across the graveyard, with these spirits who are not quite ready to be fully dead, as it were, trying to work out some of the things that plagued them during their lives .”

The author of six collections of short narratives and a long body of journalism, the Texas-born Saunders came to writing comparatively late, initially training as a geophysicist. After working as a tech novelist, a field in which he was rewarded for brevity, he began writing short narratives. His first collecting CivilWarLand in Bad Decline was published in 1996. He was awarded a MacArthur Genius grant and a Guggenheim fellowship in 2006, then won the inaugural Folio prize for his narrative collection, Tenth of December, in 2014.

Saunders is the second American in a row to win the Booker prize, after last year’s win Paul Beatty. Saunders’ win falls four years after eligibility rules were changed to allow writers of any nationality writing in the English language and published in the UK. There has been fierce criticism of the rule change.

The magistrates took five hours to come to what Young called a ” collegial”, yet unanimous selection. She denied any concerns about Saunders’ nationality, saying:” We don’t look at the nationality of the writer. Honestly it’s not an issue for us. We’re solely concerned with the book, what that volume is telling us .”

The books losing out on the prize were 4321 by Paul Auster( US ), Elmet by Fiona Mozley( UK ), Exit West by Mohsin Hamid( UK-Pakistan ), History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund( US) and Autumn by Ali Smith( UK ).

With 144 novels submitted for the 2017 prize, Saunders’ novel was among a starry, 13 -book longlist, a rarity in recent years as more debuts and less-established authors have been named as challengers. This year’s longlist included Arundhati Roy, a previous win of the Booker, as well as authors who had also won the Pulitzer, the Costa, the Baileys, the Folio, the Impac and the Goldsmiths prizes.

The PS5 0,000 win, announced at a black-tie dinner at the Guildhall in London, was yet another success for an independent publisher; released by Bloomsbury, Lincoln in the Bardo is the third win in a row for an independent, after two consecutive wins for Oneworld publications.

Sales for Saunders’ novel have trailed behind Smith’s in the UK, with Lincoln in the Bardo selling about 10,000 transcripts so far, compared with 50,000 of Autumn. Saunders can expect his sales to skyrocket; last year’s winner, The Sellout, has now sold more than 360,000 physical transcripts, with sales in the week after the award proclamation jumping by 658%.

Young’s fellow magistrates this year were the writer and critic Lila Azam Zanganeh, the novelist and poet Sarah Hall, the artist and writer Tom Phillips, and the travel novelist and novelist Colin Thubron. Saunders was presented with the award on Tuesday night by the Duchess of Cornwall.

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Trump says he’ll declare the US opioid crisis a national emergency ‘next week’

Trump taunts major proclamation, likely next week, on the narcotic crisis two months after declaring opioid craving was a national emergency

Donald Trump on Monday taunted a long-awaited announcement on address the crisis of opioid addiction. He also suggested his selection to lead to lead the National Office of Drug Control Policy might be under review.

More than two months after Trump said at his Bedminster, New Jersey, golf club” the opioid crisis is an emergency “, the president said he would probably formally declare it a national emergency with an event next week.

Speaking in a Rose Garden press conference with the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, Trump said:” We’re going to have a major proclamation, probably next week, on the narcotic crisis and on the opioid massive problem .”

He added:” This country and, candidly, the world has a drug problem … and we’re going to something about it .”

Drug overdoses due to opioid utilize increased 21% in 2016; 64, 070 Americans died as a result of opioid use in the last year. On the campaign trail, Trump talked about combating opioid addiction. He has touted his border wall between the US and Mexico as one route of combating it.

Trump also weighed in the topic of the Pennsylvania congressman Tom Marino, his picking for a position informally known as” drug czar “.

Marino was the subject of a joint report by the Washington Post and 60 Minutes on Sunday about his role as the sponsor of a bill that critics say undermined federal enforcement efforts against the opioid outbreak. The bill made it far more difficult for the DEA to crack down on narcotic companies that built suspicious the transport of opioids.

Although he called Marino” a good guy” on Monday, he added:” I did consider research reports. We’re going to look into the report. We’re going to take it very seriously .”

The president left open the possibility of withdrawing Marino’s nomination. Trump said he planned to speak to Marino soon.

He said:” If I think it’s 1% negative to doing what we want to do, I will make a change .”

Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, a conservative Democrat in a state ravaged by opioid addiction, has called on Trump to withdraw Marino’s nomination.

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Woody Allen forced to clarify comments about ‘sad’ Harvey Weinstein

Director says his statements about the sexual abuse allegations against Weinstein were misunderstood and that the producer is a sick man

Woody Allen has been forced to clarify statements made about the Harvey Weinstein scandal, after stating that he felt “sad” for the shamed producer.

Allen was widely criticised for comments made on Saturday in which he conveyed empathy for Weinstein, who has been accused of sexual abuse and harassment by a growing number of women.

” The whole Harvey Weinstein thing is very sad for everybody involved ,” he told the BBC.” Tragic for the poor women that were involved, sad for Harvey that his life is so messed up. There’s no winners in that. It’s just very, very sad and tragic for those poor women that had to go through that .”

In the same interview Allen also warned that the revelations could lead to a” witch hunt atmosphere … where every guy in an office who winks at a woman is suddenly having to call a lawyer to defend themselves “.

The director’s comments received widespread censure on Twitter, with Rose McGowan, who is one of the women accusing Weinstein of sexual assault, describing Allen as a ” vile little worm “.

However, in a statement sent to Variety on Sunday, Allen said that his earlier statements had been misconstrued.” When I said I felt sad for Harvey Weinstein I thought it was clear the meaning was because he is a sad, sick human ,” the statement read.” I was amazed it was treated differently. Lest there be any ambiguity, this statement clarifies my intention and feelings .”

Weinstein faces allegations of sexual misconduct from more than two dozen women, following investigations made by the New York Times and the New Yorker in recent weeks. On Sunday it was reported that Scotland Yard were investigating five farther allegations of sexual assault by three women against Weinstein in Britain. Meanwhile, two further accusations were made against Weinstein in the UK, one by the Hollyoaks actor Lysette Anthony that she says took place in the 1980 s, and the other by an unnamed former Miramax employee utilizing the pseudonym Sarah Smith that relates to the 1990 s. Through his spokeswoman, Weinstein has ” unequivocally denied” any allegations of non-consensual sex.

Allen has worked with Weinstein on a number of movies but claims that he had not heard the allegations made against the mogul.” No one ever came to me or told me horror narratives with any real seriousness ,” he said.” And they wouldn’t, because you are not interested in it. You are interested in building your movie. But you do hear a million fanciful rumours all the time. And some turn out to be true and some- many- are just narratives about this actress or that performer .”

Allen has faced his own sexual abuse asserts, with his adoptive daughter Dylan Farrow accusing him of molesting her when she was seven years old. Dylan Farrow’s claims have been supported by her mom Mia Farrow and friend Ronan Farrow, who in 2015 wrote an op-ed for the Hollywood Reporter condemning the media for its handled in the allegations against Allen. The claims made against Allen were investigated at the time but he was not charged, and the director has always strongly denied them.

Ronan Farrow has also been a major figure in bringing to light the allegations against Weinstein, penning the New Yorker investigation into the producer’s behaviour. Farrow spoke to three women who accused Weinstein of rape, while several other women accused him of assault and harassment.

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Hillary Clinton: Brexit vote was precursor to US election defeat

Former secretary of state tells Andrew Marr false claims of EU referendum campaign prepared the ground for Donald Trump win

Hillary Clinton has said the vote for Brexit, and specifically the false asserts built in the EU referendum campaign, were a forerunner of her defeat to Donald Trump in last year’s US presidential election.

During an interview for BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show, she said:” Seeming at the Brexit vote now, it was a precursor to some extent of “whats happened to” us in the United States .”

Referring to” the amount of fabricated, false information that your voters were given by the leave campaign ,” she said:” You know, the big lie is a very potent tool, and we’ve somewhat kept it at bay in western republics, partly because of the freedom of the press.

” Obviously there have always been newspapers who leaned right or leaned left and they kind of counterbalanced each other. But given the utterly explosive spread of online news and sites that have jumped up that are very effective at propagating false stories, we’ve got some thinking to do … there has to be some basic level of fact and evidence in our politics. Well, candidly, in all regions of the national societies .”

The EU referendum and the US presidential election campaigns last year were both marked by a slew of dubious claims calibrated to appeal to key sections of the electorate, and targeted social media advertising. Thumbs have been pointed at the role allegedly played by Russia, but domestic performers are also implicated.

Clinton noted that Nigel Farage had campaigned for Trump as well as for Britain leaving the EU. Questions have been raised about the role of Cambridge Analytica, a data mining and analysis company, in both the US election and the EU referendum.

The same firm, of which Trump’s former chief strategist, Steve Bannon, was a board member, earned PS5m from the Trump campaign for a contract trying to swing voters. Clinton’s campaign and those of Barack Obama in previous years also hired behavioural profiling companies.

Dominic Cummings, the director of the Vote Leave campaign, said it owed “a great deal of its success” to a PS3. 5m contract with AggregateIQ, which specialises in targeted Facebook advertising and profiling.” We couldn’t have done it without them ,” he said in March.

Clinton also said that the UK would be set at a” very big drawback” if it failed to secure a Brexit deal. She said the country could not pin its hopes on a deal with Trump, who” doesn’t believe in trade” and was close to pulling out of Nafta, the US’s free trade deal with Canada and Mexico.

The prospect of no deal between the UK government and Europe has assumed prominence after talks in Brussels continued to be deadlocked over the scale of Britain’s financial obligations to the bloc.

” I mean , no deal entailing no preferential trade bargains, which means products in Britain would not have the various kinds of easy access to the European marketplace that you’ve had under EU membership ,” Clinton said.

” It could very well mean that there would be more pressure on businesses in Britain, if not to leave altogether, at the least to also have sites and employment elsewhere in Europe.

” I think that the interruption for Britain could be, you know, quite serious .”

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Trump risks making US rogue actor as he condemns Iran nuclear deal

If the US enforces new restrictions on Tehran, Washington will find itself isolated and without leverage to limit Irans nuclear programme, experts say

The content, tone and style of Donald Trump’s speech about Iran on Friday was a reminder of how much the current president of the United States enjoys conflict.

With his domestic legislative agenda stalled and a federal investigation scrutinising his finances and his relations with Moscow, Trump has taken to finding foes to rail against, including the press and black football players who kneel during the national anthem.

The tactic galvanises his core advocates and seems to rejuvenate him. He seemed similarly energised excoriating Iran on Friday. But taken into foreign policy, Trump’s visceral drive for showdown threatens to add a second nuclear crisis to the one Trump has already intensified in the Pacific with North Korea.

The 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran, the Joint Comprehensive Programme of Action( JCPOA ), was aimed at ensuring that nearly 40 -year feud between the US and revolutionary Iran did not mutate into a clash between two nuclear nations.

In return for sanctions relief from six major powers and the international community as a whole, Iran accepted very deep constraints on its nuclear programme. Its current stockpile of enriched uranium, for example, is merely over 1% of what it was before the bargain.

But in his speech, Trump completely ignored the non-proliferation gains represented by the JCPOA, and portrayed the repatriation of Iran’s previously frozen assets as money for nothing. He stimulated the false assert that Iran had been on the point of” total collapse” when the agreement was signed.

His claims that” the Iranian regime has committed multiple violations of the agreement” were also misleading at best. On two occasions, Iran’s stockpile of heavy water flowed over the ceiling imposed by the bargain, but the situation was promptly rectified and Iran’s reserve is now below the limit.

Nor is heavy water a direct proliferation threat. It is used in certain reactors that render plutonium as a by-product. However, under the bargain, Iran has destroyed the only reactor of that type.

Trump’s remark that Iran had” failed to meet our expectations in its operation of advanced centrifuges” appeared to refer to an ambiguity in the deal that had now been been resolved and was not declared to be a violation.

Trump’s litany of Iran’s past alleged crimes was also highly contentious, including an attempt to connect Shia Iran with the Sunni militants of al-Qaida, and including with regard to Osama bin Laden’s 1998 attacks on US embassies in east Africa.

The state department did not comply with White House pressure to designate Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps( IRGC) as a terrorist organisation, but the Treasury did build that designation- under a comparatively obscure clause- marking the first time a major part of a country’s armed forces has been described as terrorist. It was- to say the least- a risky move given that troops from both countries are in close proximity in Syria and potentially elsewhere in the region.

Trump’s speech also dimmed said that he hoped the nuclear deal could escape Trump’s hostility if he passed the decision over its fate to Congress. Congress is deeply divided over the questions and therefore might end up doing nothing, European envoys had reasoned.

But after Trump’s remarks, that escape ramp appears to be blocked. Trump has called on Congress to add conditions to those Iran already complies with under the JCPOA, restricting ballistic missile growth and extending restrictions on its nuclear programme indefinitely.

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Trump retains right to cancel Iran nuclear deal – video

Even if a deep divided Congress agreed on such changes- which would require the support of 60 senators- “were not receiving” realistic potential Iran would accept them.

In that case, Tehran would be bound to cast the US as the rogue performer on the world stage- and Washington’s European actors would find it hard to disagree.

” Iran is not going to comply with provisions imposed unilaterally by the US. If the US then imposes sanctions or scraps the deal, then the US will be left highly isolated ,” said James Acton, co-director of the Nuclear Policy Program and a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for World peace.

” The US will be blamed across the world for the collapse of the Iran deal, other countries will not cooperate with the US in reimposing sanctions on Iran, and the end effect will be that Iran’s nuclear programme is likely to be unconstrained and the US will have no leverage to try to constrain it .”

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Iran will not renegotiate nuclear deal, says Rouhani – video

However, if Congress does not agree on new conditions, Trump threatened to “terminate” the deal himself, by executive order. If he sticks to his term, the JCPOA appears doomed in its current form.

The other signatories could try to keep it going but major European companies are likely to flee Iran for dread of losing US marketplaces. The benefits for Iran would shrink significantly, as would incentives to abide by its strictures.

A change of mind is always possible. Trump on Friday said he was ” always open” to negotiation with North Korea after weeks insistenting that he had no purpose of talking to the regime. Yet his animus towards Tehran, stoked by Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates seems, if anything, even more deeply entrenched.

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Amazon suspends studio chief amid Weinstein scandal

Roy Price is accused of sexually harassing producer and dismissing actors allegation that Harvey Weinstein raped her

Amazon has put the head of its video content service on leave after he became embroiled in the widening scandal surrounding the disgraced movie producer Harvey Weinstein.

Roy Price, who is in charge of Amazon Studios, accuses of sexually harassing Isa Hackett, the producer of one its best known reveals, The Man in the High Castle. The performer Rose McGowan also claimed Price dismissed her assert that Weinstein had raped her.

Amazon announced that Price had been placed on an immediate leave of absence, while it investigated the allegations. Price has yet to comment.

Amazon also said it was considering scrapping two projects it was working on with the Weinstein Company, which sacked Harvey Weinstein, one of its founders, earlier the coming week after he was accused of sexual harassment and assault by several performers.

The projects are the The Romanoffs, with the Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner, and an untitled drama starring Robert De Niro and Julianne Moore.

Hackett, daughter of the late science fiction writer Philip K Dick, alleged that Price repeatedly propositioned her on the way to, and during, an Amazon party in 2015. She told the industry trade magazine the Hollywood Reporter that Price had said:” You will love my dick .” She said after she made clear she had a wife and children, Price aloud indicated” anal sexuality “, within earshot of several others at the gathering.

Hackett added that when she told Amazon about the incident it hired external examiners, but she was never told about research results.

Christopher Tricarico, a laywer for Hackett, said the magazine’s account of her allegations was accurate.

Price is also accused of ignoring McGowan’s allegation against Weinstein and dropping her display after she spoke up.

” I told the head of your studio that HW raped me ,” she wrote in a tweet to Amazon’s CEO, employing Weinstein’s initials.” Over& over I said it. He said it hadn’t been proven. I said I was the proof .” She further claimed Amazon had” won a dirty Oscar” while” funding rapists “.

The studio picked up three Oscars this year under Price’s helm.

Police in New York and London have launched investigations following the publication of a series of claims against Weinstein that go back decades.

He denies allegations of non-consensual sexuality.

On Wednesday he was seen in public for the first time in days when paparazzi descended upon him as he left his daughter’s home in Los Angeles.

” Guys, I’m not doing OK but I’m trying ,” he said in a video obtained by ABC.” I got to get help. You know what, we all attain mistakes .”

As he climbed into a large chauffeur-driven 4×4 he he said he hoped people would give him” a second opportunity “.

Around 30 women, including Angelina Jolie and Gwyneth Paltrow, have gone public with accusations against Weinstein after an initial report by the New York Times last week. Many are calling for sweeping changes in the industry, and recommending more women to speak out about harassment and abuse.

The eastern branch of the Writers Guild of America noted the scope of their own problems in a statement on Thursday, write:” Sexual harassment and assault have long been hallmarks of the entertainment industry .”

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Quentin Tarantino ‘heartbroken’ over Harvey Weinstein allegations

Director transgress silence on scandal surrounding individual producers, who has collaborated on many of his films including Django Unchained

Quentin Tarantino has broken his stillnes on the scandal surrounding his friend and longtime collaborator Harvey Weinstein, proclaiming himself” stunned and heartbroken” by the allegations of sexual assault and abuse by the producer.

The director induced his comments via the Twitter account of Amber Tamblyn on Thursday, Variety reports. The actor said that Tarantino had asked her to share a statement on his behalf after the pair had a” long dinner “.

The statement read:” For the last week, I’ve been stunned and heartbroken about the revelations that have come to light about my friend for 25 years Harvey Weinstein. I need a few more days to process my pain, emotions, fury and memory and then I will speak publicly about it .”

Amber Tamblyn (@ ambertamblyn)

From Quentin Tarantino: jv0VQNrI91

October 13, 2017

Weinstein has long been a patron of Tarantino, distributing the director’s breakout reached Reservoir Dogs and producing all of his movies since, including Django Unchained and Inglorious Basterds. The pair are close friends, with Weinstein throwing an participation party for Tarantino earlier this year. In 2015 the producer defended Tarantino’s right to speak out against police barbarism after the director was criticised by law-enforcement groups for attending an anti-brutality rally in New York.

The scandal surrounding Weinstein has deepened in recent days, following the publication on Tuesday of a New Yorker investigation alleging that he raped three women. Since then, several more females have claimed sex misconduct at the hands of the producer, including Cara Delevigne, Lea Seydoux, Kate Beckinsale, Angelina Jolie and Gwyneth Paltrow.

Rose McGowan, who was named last week in the New York Times report that first alleged misconduct by Weinstein, constructed her accusations against the producer public for the first time on Thursday night, claiming on Twitter that Amazon Studios had dropped her TV series after she told them that Weinstein had raped her. A spokesman for Weinstein says that he” unequivocally denies” all claims of non-consensual sex.

Meanwhile, performer Jane Fonda has revealed that she had heard of accusations about the producer’s behaviour last year but did not was talking about it.” I admit that I “shouldve been” braver, and I think that from now on I will be when I hear such narratives ,” she told the BBC. Fonda also echoed comments made by Emma Thompson, went on to say that the allegations against Weinstein were part of a larger culture of sexual abuse.” In business, science, academia, government, it’s the entitlement of too many men and it is[ an] epidemic ,” she said.

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Emma Thompson: Harvey Weinstein is a predator , not a sex addict- video

Tamblyn has constructed her own allegations of sexual misconduct in recent weeks, claiming on Twitter that performer James Woods had tried to pick her up her when she was 16. After Timbers denied the claims, Tamblyn wrote an open letter to him detailing the circumstances around their encounter.

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Mass hysteria may explain ‘sonic attacks’ in Cuba, say top neurologists

Despite 22 Americans reporting symptoms , no evidence of a weapon has been received and experts suspect psychosomatic ailment links between high stress

Senior neurologists have suggested that a spate of mysterious ailments among US diplomats in Cuba– which has caused foreign diplomats rift between the two countries- could have been caused by a sort of” mass hysteria” rather than sonic attacks.

The unexplained incidents have prompted the US to withdraw most of its embassy staff from Havana and expelthe majority of Cuban diplomats from Washington.

The neurologists who talked to the Guardian cautioned that no proper diagnosis is possible without far more information and access to the 22 US victims, who have suffered a range of symptoms including hearing loss, tinnitus, headaches and dizziness.

The state department has described the incidents as “attacks”, saying they began at the end of last year with the last recorded incident in August.

But US and Cuban investigations have rendered no evidence of any weapon, and the neurologists argue that the possibility of setting up” functional ailment” due to a problem in the functioning of nervous system- rather than a disease- should be considered.

” From an objective point of view it’s more like mass hysteria than anything else ,” said Mark Hallett, the head of the human motor control section of the US National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

” Mass hysteria” is the popular term for outbreaks among groups of people which are partly or wholly psychosomatic, but Hallett stressed there should be no blame attached to them.

” Psychosomatic illnes is a disease like anything else. It shouldn’t be stigmatised ,” said Hallett, who is also president of the International Federation of Clinical Neurophysiology.” It’s important to point out that symptoms like this are not voluntary. They are not a sign of weakness in an individual’s personality .”

Hallett said it was more common for such disorders to affect smaller groups of people, often in families, but he added that it was feasible for larger numbers of individuals to be affected, especially when they were working closely together in a tense and hostile environment.

” There are a very large number of individuals that have relatively vague grievances as far as I can see ,” Hallett said.” There has been an exploration of possible causes for this and nothing has been discovered and the notion of some sonic ray is relatively nonsensical.

” If it is mass hysteria that would clarify all the mystery- and presumably normalise US-Cuban relations again ,” said Hallett.” These people are all clustered together in a somewhat anxious environment and “its exactly” the situation that precipitates something like this. Anxiety may be one of the critical factors .”

The Associated Press reported on Thursday that it had been provided audio tapes of high-pitched whining noises which some US embassy workers said they heard in Havana, but it is unclear whether the voices were linked to the health complaints. The report noted that not all the Americans injured in Cuba heard sounds, and of those who did, it is not unclear if they heard the same thing.

Alan Carson, a consultant neuropsychiatrist and former president of the British Neuropsychiatry Association told the Guardian:” Typically what one gets in a functional disorder is some trigger. It is often relatively mild and non-specific, it can be a minor physical trauma. But then a combination of a certain degree of nervousnes and also notion and expectation distort that feeling .”

” If there is a strong enough expectation that something is going to happen, that they are able to distort in an entirely real style the incoming information ,” Carson said.” In certain circumstances that can be transmitted from person to person … If person or persons has that experience strongly enough and decides off that train of thought in somebody’s else’s mind, that can happen too .”

Many acoustics experts have said that it is highly unlikely that the range of symptoms reported could have been caused by any kind of sonic weapons.

Another theory was that the health complaints were caused by a surveillance operation that had gone wrong- but that has also met with scepticism from experts and a dearth of evidence.

The US has not directly blamed the Cuban government but said Havana had failed in its obligation to protect foreign diplomats on its territory. The Cuban government has denied conducting any form of assault and has offered its cooperation in detecting the cause of the symptoms.

” I don’t think the Cuban government is behind it ,” said Ben Rhodes, Barack Obama’s foreign policy adviser, who was involved in negotiating the previous administration’s rapprochement with Havana.

” First, these things apparently started in December … At the same hour the attacks were starting the Cuban government was frantically concluding agreements with us, signing business deals … in other words trying to preserve the relationship. So the notion that at the same time as doing that, they would initiate something that is so obviously designed to blow up the relationship doesn’t make any sense .”

Asked about the possibility of functional ailments, a state department spokesperson said:” We have no definitive answers on the cause or the source of the two attacks on US envoys in Cuba, and an aggressive investigation continues. We do not wishes to get ahead of that investigation .”

Donald Trump has struck a markedly more hostile tone towards Cuba than his predecessor, and in June announced a partial rollback of Obama’s rapprochement, tightening travel and trade rules with the island.

Jon Stone, a University of Edinburgh neurologist and the co-editor of a book on functional neurologic disorders, said that such disorders were very common, and the second commonest reason to see a neurologist.

” There is a misconception that only people who are weak-willed, people who are neurotic, get these symptoms. It isn’t true ,” Stone said.” We are talking about genuine symptoms that people have of dizziness, of headaches, of hearing problems, which they are not faking .”

He added that the outbreak could have started with one or two people falling ill with headaches or hearing problems, and those spread in a high-stress atmosphere and then amid talk of a” sonic attack “.

” None of this stimulates sense until you consider the psychogenic rationale ,” said Robert Bartholomew, a medical sociologist and the author of series of volumes on outbreaks of mass hysteria.

” American intelligence agencies are the most sophisticated in the world, and they reportedly don’t have a clue as to what’s causing the symptoms. I will bet my house that there are agents in the intelligence community who have also concluded that this is a psychogenic event- but their analysis is either being repressed or ignored by the Trump administration because it doesn’t fit their narrative. Mass psychogenic illness is by far the most plausible justification .”

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Vets warn that ‘extreme breeding’ could harm horses

The El Rey Magnum is close to perfection, according to its breeders in Washington state

Vets are warning that the” extreme breeding” of ponies could harm their health and welfare after pictures emerged of a young Arabian horse with a drastically concave profile. Claimed to be already worth “several million dollars”, El Rey Magnum is said to be ” close to perfection” by its breeders at Orrion Farms, an Arabian horse specialist in Ellensburg, Washington state.

But British vets and equine experts have told the Veterinary Record the nine-month-old colt represents” a matter of great concern ,” as its deformed skull could potentially cause exhaling difficulties. The Guardian has been refused permission to publish pictures of the pony, but the creature can be viewed here.

Tim Greet, an equine expert, told the Veterinary Record:” I find the whole thing unbelievable. Arabians have always had a rather’ dished ‘, face but this takes things to a ridiculous level .”

According to Greet, such “deformity” is more significant for a horse than for pedigree dogs such as pugs, which are able to suffer breathing problems. Dogs can breathe through their mouths, but horses can only inhaled through their noses.” I suspect exercising would definitely be limited for this horse ,” said Greet.

Adele Waters, the editor of Veterinary Record, said that every professional veterinarian she had shown the images to had found them shocking.

She said:” My first believes were,’ Is this the work of CGI trickery ?’ Many specialist horse veterinarians have had a similar reaction. But the truth is this is a real pony and it has been bred to meet the demands of a specific market that likes a specific appearance. Where will it aim? Is it genuinely so bad for a horse to look like a pony and not a cartoon character ?”

Waters questioned the morality of such fashion-led breeding, in the wake of similar fears over the health and welfare of flat-nosed puppy breeds such as bulldogs, French bulldogs and pugs.

” The real original Arabian horse’s head was very beautiful but they are now being bred strictly for that[ concave] look. There is no functional value in a pony having a face like that. Veterinarians believe that if you distort the skull like that there’s a risk you affect the airways and the breathing capacity of the pony .”

Dr Madeleine Campbell, an equine reproduction specialist, expert in animal welfare and ethics and director of the Equine Ethics Consultancy, told the Veterinary Record:” Whilst it is obviously impossible to comment on an individual animal based only on photographic proof, as a general principle, any tendency towards breeding for extremes of form which might adversely affect normal function must be condemned, on welfare grounds .”

Doug Leadley, a farm administrator and primary breed adviser for Orrion, claimed that” this horse is a stepping stone to getting close to perfection “. He rejected criticisms of the horse:” I think most of those people don’t breed ponies, or show them or aren’t very involved- those are people who don’t understand .”

American veterinarians have recognised El Rey Magnum as an example of an extreme breed, and one vet has said that the pony has no medical or respiratory issues.

Since launching a promotional video earlier this month, the farm has received interest from across the world, including the UK. According to Leadley, the young pony is already worth several million dollars.

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