Day: June 1, 2017

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BELLWETHER For China, buy American means something else


The United States government, including the Department of Defense, is at risk of allowing some of its most sensitive information to be seen by a Chinese company whose chairman has close ties to that country’s Communist party.

International Data Corp. (IDC) markets itself as “the premier global market intelligence firm.” It specializes in information technology (IT) and security, and numbers among its clients the National Security Administration, the Departments of Defense, Commerce and Energy, the U.S. Census Bureau and the General Services Administration.

Earlier this year, IDC’s parent company, based in Boston, was purchased by China Oceanwide Holdings, a Chinese conglomerate whose president and chairman, Zhiqiang Lu, has been a member of the People’s Political Consultative Conference, which advises the Chinese Communist Party.

The contracts that IDC – and now China Oceanwide – hold with the various government departments are small, less than $100,000 each. IDC provides technical advice, consultation and solutions to its clients. That means that it has access to sensitive IT data, and its IT security recommendations could potentially influence government procurements. And that access could now be available to IDC’s new owners, China Oceanwide.

IDC declined to comment for this article.

Patrick Evans, a Pentagon spokesman, acknowledged the Pentagon has contracts with IDC. In a written statement, Evans says: “The Department of Defense does not (nor does the U.S. government) have a blanket ban on products from Chinese companies, and DoD does not ‘blacklist’ suppliers or individual products.”

The sale of IDC was approved by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), a branch of the Treasury Department that assesses potential risks from the purchase of U.S. companies by foreigners.

“CFIUS is a broken process,” says Dean Popps, a former acting assistant secretary of the army for acquisitions, logistics and technology under the administrations of George W. Bush and Barack Obama. “Since it was created 40 years ago, it has been driven by business interests, not national security. No one is in charge.” 

To be sure, Chinese companies have been on a U.S. buying spree in recent years. In 2013, Shuanghui International purchased Smithfield Foods, the world’s largest producer of pork. In 2005, Beijing-based Lenovo bought IBM’s personal computer business, a sale that the Pentagon warned posed a security risk. In 2014, Lenovo followed up by acquiring Motorola Mobility, a maker of mobile phones, from Google. China Oceanwide now owns 29 percent of Lenovo. All those deals were approved by CFIUS.

“It’s a stunning story of the stealing of America. It’s being done under our very noses, one blip at a time.”

“It’s a stunning story of the stealing of America,” says Popps. “It’s being done under our very noses, one blip at a time. We know how our enemies operate. It’s theft of intellectual property, it’s theft of trade secrets. And in production, they outdo us because they don’t have environmental restrictions. The levers are all over the place but the American people haven’t gotten the message yet.”

 He’s not the only one concerned with the approval procedures in place.

“CFIUS does its work very quietly and there is no public record of the discussions that are held within CFIUS,” says Sourabh Gupta, a senior fellow at the Institute for China-America Relations. “Its decisions are not challengeable in court. When Chinese companies want to acquire U.S. companies, it often doesn’t come to the stage where CFIUS says no.”

Despite President Trump’s promise to bring jobs back to America, Gupta sees a turf battle being waged within his administration. Nationalists like Chief Strategist Stephen Bannon want to restrict sales of U.S. assets to foreign buyers, while globalists, led by Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, see opportunities in a worldwide economy.

“If you go back and look at the Obama administration’s national security strategy, there’s no mention of any prioritization of our strategic supply chain,” Popps says. “It is an argument between globalists and nationalists. And the globalists refuse to admit that there is ever any security threat.”

At heart, Popps thinks that America has lost the ability to produce its own goods, even those that are essential to national security. He asks: “What won World War II for us? We were turning out a ship a day because we had the manufacturing capability to provide what is necessary for our own security.”

Conservatives like to say ‘let the market decide winners and losers.’ But with the direction things are going in the world, the U.S. stands to lose either way. 

John Moody is Executive Vice President, Executive Editor for Fox News. A former Rome bureau chief for Time magazine, he is the author of four books including “Pope John Paul II : Biography.



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CAMPUS SHUT DOWN Evergreen State College closes due to 'direct threat'


Evergreen State College in Washington state was abruptly closed Thursday morning after officials received a “direct threat to campus safety.”

“All are asked to leave campus or return to residence halls for instructions,” said a statement on the college’s website. 

Law enforcement thought the threat via a 911 call was credible enough to forward to Evergreen State College in Olympia, and school officials decided to close the campus, Sandra Kaiser, Evergreen’s vice president for college relations, told reporters Thursday.

Campus police declined to elaborate on the nature of the threat when contacted by Fox News.

Officers were “visible and present” on campus Thursday, and school officials were waiting to hear from law enforcement when they “can give the all clear,” Kaiser said. She hoped classes would resume Friday.

The Olympia school became the center of controversy after activists asked white students to leave campus to talk about race issues. It’s a reversal from the longstanding annual “Day of Absence,” in which minorities traditionally attend programs off campus.

When a biology professor, Bret Weinstein, objected to the event, the activists demanded that he resign.

“They imagined that I’m a racist,” Weinstein, who has taught at Evergreen for 15 years, told Fox News’ “Tucker Carlson Tonight” last week. “That has caused them to imagine that I have no right to speak.”

Evergreen State said participation in the event has always been optional.

“White students have never been required to leave campus, for Day of Absence, or any Evergreen activity,” the college said.
Advocates claim the effort helps increase social awareness, but critics have called it divisive.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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Man dies from flesh-eating bacteria after swimming with new tattoo


A 31-year-old man died after he reportedly ignored warnings about swimming after getting a new tattoo and contracted a flesh-eating bacteria infection in the Gulf of Mexico. The unidentified man, whose case was detailed in the British Medical Journal, had gotten a tattoo on his right calf five days prior to swimming, Metro reported.

The man had chosen a crucifix and pair of praying hands for his latest ink, and began suffering from fever, chills and a rash close to the tattoo after swimming, the news outlet reported. He reportedly developed sepsis in his right calf, which had turned purple by the time he was admitted to the hospital.

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Two weeks after he was placed on life support, his condition further deteriorated and his kidneys failed, according to Metro. Doctors reportedly believed his years of alcohol abuse left him susceptible to vibriosis infection and septic shock.

While the man’s nationality was not identified, vibriosis causes an estimated 80,000 illnesses and 100 deaths in the U.S. each year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), patients become infected by consuming raw or undercooked seafood, or by exposing a wound to seawater. 



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Officials: Police mum on school janitor's rape conviction


A New York school custodian convicted last month of raping a minor more than a year ago was allowed to continue working his job after police failed to tip off district officials about the crime, a superintendent wrote in a letter to concerned parents and faculty.

Samuel Campbell, a Brookside Elementary School janitor who has worked in the district since 1998, was convicted on May 1 of numerous charges, including third-degree rape of a victim under 17 and endangering the welfare of a child, stemming from an incident last April, The Journal News reported.

Superintendent Raymond Sanchez wrote in a letter this week to parents and staff that law enforcement agencies in Poughkeepsie — where Campbell was taken into custody — didn’t tip off the district about the ongoing arrest and conviction.

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“Had we been notified of his arrest, Mr. Campbell’s employment would have been suspended until the legal process was completed,” Sanchez wrote, adding that “he would have been directed to stay away from visiting Brookside or any other school in the district.”

Town of Poughkeepsie Police Chief Ken Roman told Fox News that his agency handled the arrest and is looking into the matter, but would not comment further.

“Mr. Campbell never told the district that he had been arrested, charged, and tried,” Sanchez said in the letter. “Additionally, Mr. Campbell’s employment with the district predated fingerprinting laws and therefore the district never received notification of his initial arrest. Throughout the period from April 2016 to his conviction on May 1, 2017, he missed no significant time at work.”

Campbell is set to be sentenced Friday.

FoxNews.com’s Greg Norman contributed to this report.



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ISIS propaganda agency co-founder killed in Syria airstrike


One of the founders of ISIS’ propaganda arm reportedly was killed in his hometown during a coalition airstrike in eastern Syria.

Rayan Mash’al and his daughter were in their home Wednesday in the city of Al-Mayadin, part of Deir ez-Zor province, when coalition forces launched a bombing attack, according to the Facebook post Wednesday by Mash’al’s brother, Hozaifa Abo Alyaman, the Middle East Media Research Institute reported.

“I break the news to you of the death of my older brother Bara’ Kadek, known as Rayan Mash’al, together with his daughter Lian, as a result of a coalition forces aerial bombing of his home in the region of Al-Mayadin in Deir ez-Zor,” the post said. 

Mash’al was one of the founders of the Halab news agency at the beginning of the rebellion in Syria before going on to co-found ISIS’ media division, known as the A’maq news agency, in 2013, according to an announcement of his death by the pro-ISIS Al-Haq media outlet.

The militant group itself has not reported the death of Mash’al.

It is through social media channels that ISIS often claims responsibility for terror attacks throughout the world. A’maq has become the terror group’s fastest and most reliable source of information, using it to post videos and claims of attacks. It has remained online despite bans from social media platforms.

Rita Katz, director of the U.S.-based SITE monitoring service, said on Twitter that a coalition strike allegedly killed [Mash’al] in Deir ez-Zor and that since its founding, A’maq claimed responsibility for at least two dozen attacks worldwide, according to Reuters.

There was no immediate comment from coalition forces.

Last week, the coalition told The Associated Press it had carried out a series of airstrikes on May 25 and 26 targeting the ISIS media infrastructure and “propaganda facilities.”

It said at the time that targeting such facilities “degrades” the group’s abilities and inspiration for foreign attacks.

Al-Mayadin has become a refuge for ISIS leaders as the group has come under increasing attack in Mosul in Iraq and their de facto capital Raqqa. Some Syria watchers said the group’s media operations have moved to Al-Mayadin as the U.S.-led coalition and allied Syrian Kurdish-led forces close in on Raqqa.

The Associated Press contributed reporting to this story.

Perry Chiaramonte is a reporter for FoxNews.com. Follow him on Twitter at @perrych



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TAKING THE MCBAIT Giant bass caught in Texas couldn’t resist fast food


A couple got a “Mc-nificent” catch when they reeled in a record-breaking bass last month at a Texas lake by using a McDonald’s chicken McNugget as their bait.

Matthew McNellis and his girlfriend went fishing in May at Lake Bardwell in Ennis and had no luck catching anything, McNellis told KDAF. 

McNellis’ girlfriend then suggested using a chicken nugget they bought from McDonald’s as bait. To their surprise, they reeled in a 2-and-a-half-foot long bass that weighed more than 10 pounds. 

The Highview Marina declared it as the biggest fish caught at the lake, posting a photo of it on Facebook. 

The bass won’t be turning into a Filet-O-Fish sandwich anytime soon. The couple tossed the bass back in the water at the end.

McNellis told the station that he planned on continuing the fast food bait trend by using Wendy’s seasoned French fries the next time he goes fishing. 



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US TO EXIT PARIS PACT Trump: US to leave climate agreement, calls it 'unfair'


After days of drama and suspense, President Trump announced Thursday that his administration will exit the Paris climate agreement.

“So we’re getting out,” Trump said. “The Paris accord is very unfair at the highest level to the United States.”

His decision fulfills a campaign promise and satisfies strong Republican opposition to the global climate deal but isolates the U.S. and is certain to bring condemnation from world leaders and critics in the scientific community. 

Leaving the accord aligns the United States with Syria and Nicaragua.

Critics argue it will hurt the economy but supporters say it will create jobs down the line.

Trump promoted his announcement Wednesday on Twitter – prompting American allies around the world to weigh in on the consequences of the U.S. withdrawing from the global pact.

Though there are no legal ramifications for pulling out of the accord, it does alienate America and diminish its standing as a global leader.

Trump, who made his statement from the White House Rose Garden, campaigned against the climate agreement during the 2016 election season.

As a candidate, Trump vowed to “cancel” the Paris climate deal during his first major policy speech on energy in March 2016. In that same speech, he slammed “draconian climate rules” and vowed to cut any funding for United Nations programs related to combatting climate change. In the past, Trump has refused to acknowledge that humans contribute to climate change and has dismissed it as a hoax.

The Paris Climate Agreement is a pact between nearly 200 nations to voluntarily reduce their greenhouse gas emissions in an effort to fight climate change. The U.S., the world’s second largest emitter of carbon, would be required to reduce fossil fuel emissions nearly 30 percent by 2025.

Former President Barack Obama used his power as president to join the Paris Accord without a vote in the legislature. Similarly, Trump can use his authority to call it quits.

Though the Paris Climate Agreement is not legally binding, the decision to either stay or withdraw has been deeply polarizing not only with lawmakers but also members of Trump’s inner circle.

Trump’s chief strategist Steve Bannon as well as EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt have been pressing the president to exit the deal. Trump’s daughter Ivanka as well as business leaders and other U.S. allies have been pushing pro-Paris agenda, Politico reported.

Business leaders including Apple’s Tim Cook and Tesla’s Elon Musk had also lobbied Trump to stay in the agreement. 



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Backlash over 'sexist' sign?


The owners of a new coffee shop in Brooklyn were forced to remove a novelty restroom sign after patrons complained it was promoting “rape culture.”

The Clever Blend, which opened in April, recently came under fire for posting a sign on the door of its co-ed bathroom, which depicts a man — in stick-figure form — leering over the top of an adjacent bathroom stall to supposedly peep at a similarly stick-figured woman.

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While the shop’s owners reportedly saw their sign as humorous, many of their customers weren’t amused by the “joke.”

Critics quickly took to Instagram, Twitter and Yelp to accuse Clever Blend of promoting everything from sexism, violence against women and rape culture — accusations that the shop’s co-owner, Luca Tesconi, initially dismissed as overreactions to “an innocent stupid sign,” reports DNAInfo New York.

“There was hate yelps and hate Instagram,” explained Tesconi to Pix 11. “There were threats against my family and me.”

Tesconi and his wife Nadia, also a co-owner, have since changed their tune and removed the sign, but not before further defending it in a series of online interviews and social media posts.

Nadia told DNAInfo that the tipping point came when a disgruntled customer spearheaded the backlash because she was angry about Clever Blend’s “no-laptop” policy, which the shop institutes during busier hours.

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Tesconi, too, seemed to accept this as the reason for the negative reaction.

“I’m having a hard time making sense of this,” he wrote in a May 25 post to Clever Blend’s Instagram account (which has since been removed). “We bought a funny sign (this is the way it is advertised on Amazon and EBay-why don’t you curse at Jeff Bezos now?) and we get a “FU@% YOU” compilation, plus a couple of “bad” Yelp reviews because a “Laptop customer” decides to translate an innocent stupid sign into a personal vendetta probably because she didn’t like our laptops rules. Having said that, I’m deeply offended by the ferocity of your posts and the way you use the internet to judge people without even knowing them.”

Then, on May 26, the tried to organize a “referendum” to decide the fate of the sign, by having customers vote on whether thought it was “silly” or “promote[d] violence.” (As of that evening, the referendum concluded that nine out of 12 customers felt it was “just a silly sign.”)

Nevertheless, the Tesconis eventually caved to criticism and removed the sign by May 27, erecting two “Inclusive Restroom” signs in its place.

“Some people got offended, but we didn’t put anything up with the intention of offending,” Tesconi told DNAInfo on Tuesday. “We started defending ourselves … They started cursing, ‘F-you.’

“Why don’t we extinguish the fire? It’s not a battle to pick.”

However, as Vice points out, Clever Blend’s troubles may not be over. The shop has previously stirred controversy for posting a large, pre-Civil War-era map highlighting the states that seceded to the Confederacy.

Regarding his map (which is framed and hangs inside the shop), Tesconi sent an explanation to Vice, saying, “This map is displayed in an attempt to remember to all of us that at any time Civil Rights are at risk of being tak[en] away from us.”

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Tesconi, who owns two other cafes in the New York area, insists that his sign snafus haven’t cost him any business.

Still, he says he’s called Yelp to try to get his shop’s negative reviews removed. He claims they initially refused, but an “Active Cleanup Alert” on Clever Blend’s Yelp page suggests Yelp may remove subsequent negative posts that appear to be “motivated more by news coverage” than “customer experiences.”



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Ryan appoints controversial doctor to health advisory committee


House Speaker Paul Ryan appointed a controversial billionaire doctor to a panel that will advise President Trump and his administration on policy regarding health information technology, a Ryan spokeswoman confirmed to Fox News.

Patrick Soon-Shiong, a scientist and oncologist who runs for-profit and nonprofit cancer research organizations, was appointed by Ryan this week to the Health Information Technology Advisory Committee, which was created under the Obama administration.

A Ryan spokeswoman told Fox News Soon-Shiong was an “obvious choice” for the committee, and dismissed a recent report questioning his financial activities.

A Politico investigation asserted that his nonprofit research organization funnels grant money into businesses and not-for-profits controlled by Soon-Shiong himself. The Politico report ultimately prompted an investigation by Utah’s legislative watchdog regarding donations to the University of Utah.

Soon-Shiong denied all claims of wrongdoing.

“I would like to take this opportunity to get something off my chest,” said Soon-Shiong on an earnings call this month, referring to parts of the Politico report. “While it’s not benefitting to dignify false reporting or to be further distracted by these false claims, I feel it’s important for me to address a truly egregious false statement.”

Despite the reports, Ryan’s office told Fox News that Soon-Shiong was known for his history in medical innovation, most notably inventing a cancer drug, haNK, which has success in fighting pancreatic cancer, and will be an asset to the panel. 

The Health IT Policy Committee was authorized by the 21st Century Cares Act to serve as an advisory board for the administration’s National Coordinator for Health IT on health information technology policy.

According to a Ryan spokeswoman, the panel is comprised of 25 medical and technical experts appointed by various officials and lawmakers. The Health and Human Services secretary, currently Tom Price, is responsible for appointing three members; the Acting Comptroller General of the U.S. appoints 13 members; and the majority and minority leaders of the Senate and the speaker and minority leader of the House appoint four members. The remaining five members are appointed by the president.

Brooke Singman is a Reporter for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter at @brookefoxnews.



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Parents racing to save toddler from 'childhood Alzheimer's'


A Massachusetts couple is in a race against time to save their 13-month-old son from an extremely rare, fatal disease often referred to as “childhood Alzheimer’s.”

Last month, Purnell “Nell” Sabky was diagnosed with the genetic disorder Niemann-Pick Type A, and doctors told his parents that, without intervention, he likely would not live to see his third birthday.

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Niemann-Pick Type A is caused by a lack of a specific enzyme, and the disorder prevents the body from metabolizing fat, which leads fat to accumulate around the organs. Patients typically develop an enlarged liver and spleen by 3 months old, and fail to gain weight and grow normally. At around age 1, patients with the disease usually begin to experience a progressive loss of mental abilities and movement, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

“In addition to the complications of his body, he’ll start to grow distant from us,” Sam Sabky, Nell’s father, told Boston 25. “He won’t be able to smile, he won’t be able to laugh, and that’s really the hardest part to deal with.”

With no treatment or cure available, the Sabkys’ doctor told Sam and his wife, Taylor Sabky, that a genetic therapy was on the horizon but that a lack of funding was preventing it from moving forward. They are now racing to raise $750,000 by the end of June with the hopes of treating Nell before his disease progresses much more.

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“You think of all the things that your child has ahead of him, and then you hear something like this, and it cuts short all those dreams and wishes,” Taylor told Boston 25. “We want him to have a future, to grow up, to do the small things like saying ‘mama’ and ‘dada,’ to do more long-term things. You think about him getting married, you know, what he’s going to do for a career.”

The money raised will go to the Wylder Nation Foundation, which is working with researchers at the University of California San Francisco’s Bankiewicz Laboratory to make the treatment available to patients, Boston 25 reported. While Nell would be the first patient to enroll in trials, the family is aware of how delicate the timeline is.

“We can dictate this timeline on our terms and try to give him a shot at life,” Sam told Boston 25. “And at the very worst, we can take comfort at the fact that we move the ball forward for maybe the next kid or the kid after that. And that’s a legacy we’d be really proud that Purnell left on the world.”

As of Thursday, the family’s GoFundMe page had received more than $191,000 in donations.

 



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