Category: New Posts


CA bans secret settlements in sex harassment cases…

California will require its workers to take regular sexual harassment training and forbid secret settlements when they sue their employers.

Gov. Jerry Brown on Sunday signed several bills that aim to prevent workplace harassment and help victims of sexual misconduct seek justice.

After explosive reporting last fall uncovered widespread abuse by Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, the #MeToo movement ignited a national discussion on sexual harassment, including in California politics.

Lawmakers responded this session by passing more than a dozen measures that experts said could make the state a national leader on the issue.

Among the proposals Brown signed were:

Senate Bill 820, by Sen. Connie Leyva, D-Chino, which prohibits secret settlements and non-disclosure agreements in sexual harassment cases. While a victim could choose to keep his or her name private, the perpetrator’s identity cannot be confidential. “For decades, secret settlements have been used by wealthy and well-connected perpetrators to offend repeatedly with no public accountability,” Leyva said in a statement. “This critical legislation will empower victims and offer them the opportunity to finally say #TimesUp to those that have hurt them.”

Senate Bill 1300, by Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, which forbids companies from requiring their workers to sign releases of liability as a condition of continued employment or in exchange for a bonus. “California is stating clearly that we believe and support victims,” Jackson said in a statement.

Senate Bill 1343, by Sen. Holly Mitchell, D-Los Angeles, which expands a biannual sexual harassment training mandate to nearly all California employees.

Assembly Bill 1619, by Assemblyman Marc Berman, D-Palo Alto, which provides victims up to a decade to seek civil damages from a sexual assault.

Senate Bill 419, by Sen. Anthony Portantino, D-La Cañada Flintridge, which prohibits the Legislature from firing or discriminating against an employee or lobbyist who files a harassment complaint. It also requires the Senate and Assembly to maintain records of harassment complaints for at least 12 years.

Assembly Bill 2055, by Assemblyman Marc Levine, D-Greenbrae, which adds information about the Legislature’s sexual harassment policy to ethics training for lobbyists.

Assembly Bill 3118, by Assemblyman David Chiu, D-San Francisco, which requires a statewide audit of untested rape kits. “Given the current national conversation around sexual assault, it is more important now than ever that survivors of sexual assault know that California is working to get them the justice they deserve,” Chiu said in a statement.

Brown vetoed one of the most high-profile sexual harassment measure of the year. Assembly Bill 3080, by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, D-San Diego, would have banned forced arbitration agreements, where workers must give up their right to take disputes with their employer to court as a condition of the job.

Critics say these agreements silence vulnerable employees by pushing them into private negotiations with the companies they work for and allow bad behavior to fester behind a curtain of secrecy. Former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson and actress Jane Fonda both lobbied at the Capitol for the bill.

Brown, in a veto message, said it “plainly violates federal law,” pointing to recent Supreme Court decisions that overturned state policies which “unduly impeded arbitration.”

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The governor vetoed a handful of other bills, including:

Assembly Bill 1867, by Assemblywoman Eloise Reyes, D-Grand Terrace, which would have mandated that large companies maintain records of sexual harassment complaints for at least five years after the end of the alleged harasser’s employment. Brown said in his veto message that the time expansion, which could lead to even unsubstantiated claims being maintained for decades, was “unwarranted.”

Assembly Bill 1870, by Reyes, which would have given workers three years, rather than just one, to file an employment discrimination claim with the state. Brown said in his veto message that the current filing deadline “encourages prompt resolution while the memories and evidence are fresh, but also ensures that unwelcome behavior is promptly reported and halted.”

Assembly Bill 3081, by Gonzalez Fletcher, which prohibits employers from firing, discriminating or retaliating against a worker because they have been a victim of sexual harassment. “Most of the provisions in the bill are contained in current law and are therefore unnecesary,” Brown wrote in his veto message.

Assembly Bill 2713, by Assemblyman Freddie Rodriguez, D-Pomona, which requires the state to publish an annual report on sexual harassment reports and settlements in California government agencies. The Bee reported last year that the state does not officially track such cases across departmental lines. Brown said the measure “covers an important topic but current management practices are taking the necessary steps to assure a suitable work environment.”

Earlier in the year, the Legislature extended whistleblower protections to Capitol employees and developed a new process for reporting and investigating internal complaints of sexual harassment.

Current and former staff had complained of a culture of fear and retaliation, which women said discouraged them from reporting pervasive harassment and allowed it to go unpunished. Three members ultimately resigned amid public allegations of sexual misconduct, and complaints were lodged against at least four more.

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Kanye Delivers Pro-Trump 'SNL' Speech, Gets Booed…

Following his performance of “Ghost Town” during the 44th season premiere of Saturday Night Live, Kanye West, sporting a red Make America Great Again hat in support of President Donald Trump, went on one of his typical rants.

The bizarre lecture occurred off-air, after his performance, where he was joined by Kid Cudi and 070 Shake, and was cut for time—but comedian Chris Rock, who was in the audience at Studio 8H in New York City, was able to capture part of it on his Instagram.

In the clips, West, with the entire cast of SNL standing behind him onstage—many of them rolling their eyes—delivered a rambling talk that began with him singing, “I wanna cry right now, black man in America, supposed to keep what you’re feelin’ inside right now…”

“The blacks want always Democrats… you know it’s like the plan they did, to take the fathers out the home and put them on welfare… does anybody know about that? That’s a Democratic plan,” he continued. “There’s so many times I talk to, like, a white person about this and they say, ‘How could you like Trump? He’s racist.’ Well, uh, if I was concerned about racism I would’ve moved out of America a long time ago.”

In the background of the video, Rock can be heard laughing and uttering the words “oh my God,” while others in the crowd audibly booed and yelled.

West, an ardent Trump supporter, was a last-minute SNL replacement for Ariana Grande. Earlier in the evening, he performed his track “I Love It” alongside Lil Pump dressed in a decidedly more kid-friendly costume: a Perrier bottle.

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Facial recognition technology used at airports had 85% match rate during tests…

When photos were taken of travelers whose images were already in the government system, the system matched the images 98% of the time, according to the audit. But airport screeners couldn’t always take photos of the passengers because of “poor network availability, a lack of dedicated staff and compressed boarding times due to flight delays,” according to the audit. As a result the overall “biometric confirmation” rate was 85%, the audit said.

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Inside world's weirdest tattoo fest…

One of the world’s biggest tattoo festivals kicked off today and some of its weird and wonderful attendees revealed the meaning behind their modifications.

Thousands of body art fans are descending on London this weekend for The International London Tattoo Convention.

Among the crowd are some of the most tattooed and modified people in the world.

Melanie Ezechiele travelled from Italy to the UK for the festival and sports some chilling body mods.

Head-to-toe in tattoos, Melanie explained how she began inking her body in her teens and has been slowly covering herself

“I started getting tattooed when I was 16 and more heavily when I was 18.

“I work in a tattoo studio doing piercings for a living.

“Body modifications have tattoos have been a passion of mine since I was 18.

tattoo body mod modification implant tongue split london tattoo convention PA

EXTREME: Melanie Ezechiele is covered in tattoos and body modifications
(Pic: PA )

tattoo body mod modification implant tongue split london tattoo convention DS

BODY MOD: Melanie has silicone implants in her hand, arranged in a shell design
(Pic: DS )

“I have an implant on my hand”

Melanie Ezechiele

“I’m now 26 so I got all these tattoos in a short amount of time.”

Melanie revealed she has a stomach-churning addition to her inked right hand.

“I have an implant on my hand.”

The shell design involved having bits of silicone implanted under her skin.

tattoo body mod modification implant tongue split london tattoo convention DS

BIZARRE: Melanie’s terrifying modifications extend to her tongue – which she’s had cut in half
(Pic: DS )

tattoo body mod modification implant tongue split london tattoo convention PA

MODIFIED: Melanie is covered in piercings and has stretched her earlobes
(Pic: PA )

But the Italian’s terrifying modifications don’t stop there.

“I also have my tongue split – I got that when I was 19.”

Tongue splitting involves cutting the tongue centrally from its tip to as far back as the underside base, forking the end.

Earlier this year, tongue splitting was found illegal by the Court of Appeal in March this year when the cosmetic procedure is performed by a body modification practitioner.

According to Royal College of Surgeons of England, doctors have “seen some horrific consequences of these procedures” which can result in severe loss of blood, nerve damage and difficulty breathing.

tattoo body mod modification implant tongue split london tattoo convention PA

INKED: The convention is attended by some of the most heavily tattooed people in the world
(Pic: PA )

tattoo body mod modification implant tongue split london tattoo convention PA

CONVENTION: Thousands will descend on the festival this weekend
(Pic: PA )

The convention allows tattoo fanatics the opportunity to get inked by artists from all over the world.

Dawn is getting a design tattooed on her back today.

The 59-year-old already has one tattoo on her finger and another “in a private area”.

She said: “It’s something I’ve wanted to do for years and I’m being a bit rebellious at the moment.”

tattoo body mod modification implant tongue split london tattoo convention PA

(Pic: PA )

tattoo body mod modification implant tongue split london tattoo convention PA

(Pic: PA )

The convention welcomes 400 handpicked, pioneering tattoo artists from studios around the world to show off their work and compete in inking competitions.

Patrick had travelled from Minnesota, US to get a full body tattoo finished this weekend.

His “masterpiece” took a pain-staking 280 hours to finish.

“I got this tattoo in Paris. It took 14 months and 280 hours to complete,” he said.

tattoo body mod modification implant tongue split london tattoo convention PA

‘MASTERPIECE’: Patrick is having his full body ‘suit’ completed this weekend
(Pic: PA )

tattoo body mod modification implant tongue split london tattoo convention PA

ARTISTS: 400 handpicked tattoo artists are attending the festival
(Pic: PA )

“It’ll be finished tomorrow with blacking out the rest of my arm, then I’ll be complete.

“I’ll be competing in the competition for bodysuits.

“I found an artist that I respected and loved his work and he told me he could make me a masterpiece if I gave him my trust so that’s what I did.”

Legendary artist, Mark Mahoney who has inked high-profile clients from David Beckham to Johnny Depp at this LA studio, will be joining the distinguished judging panel at the weekend’s tattoo competitions.

The International London Tattoo Convention is on from September 28 to 30 at Tobacco Dock, London.

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Most Expensive Hotel Room in America: $75,000 a Night!

Built in 1927, this iconic Upper East Side hotel underwent a major renovation from 2006 to 2009. While the historic exterior was untouched, the entire inner workings of the building were replaced, with interiors rethought by famed designer Jacques Grange. Popular with locals because of its Jean-Georges restaurant and Frédéric Fekkai salon, and with celebrities as the go-to gathering spot before the Met Ball, the penthouse brings a new allure to the building.

Located on the 16th and 17th floors, the 10,000-square-foot interior space, also designed by Grange, offers five bedrooms, four fireplaces, six bathrooms, and two wet bars. The living room, with 26-foot ceilings, is located in the corner tower of the building and is large enough to be converted into a full-sized grand ballroom. Outside, there’s a 2,500-square-foot rooftop terrace that overlooks Central Park.

While the penthouse is not new, this is the first time it is available to rent. “Before the paint was dry on the renovation, we had someone interested in renting it as an apartment, so it has never been publicized or even on the website,” Olivier Lordonnois, general manager for the Mark Hotel, tells Bloomberg. “We then had a family rent it for 16 months, and now it is finally ready for guests.” Lordonnis says the family got a reduced rate, due to the desired length of stay. 

When asked about the price, Lordonnois let us know that he was the one to come up with that figure. “If you look at our competitor, the Ty Warner penthouse at the Four Seasons is only 4,500 square feet, with just one bedroom and no balconies, and goes for around $64,000 a night. There is no way we would price our penthouse at the same level, as it is so much bigger. Plus, guests are getting all the amazing services of the Mark.”

In the same luxury stratosphere, the Plaza offers the 4,500-square-foot, three-bedroom Royal Suite for approximately $40,000 a night. It has 24-carat gold fixtures in the bathroom and offers a fully equipped fitness room and chef’s kitchen. The Mandarin Oriental books its two-bedroom, 3,300-square-foot Suite 5000, with a contemporary art collection curated by Whitewall magazine, for $36,000 a night. Interested guests must call to book, as it doesn’t appear on the website. 

While general hotel amenities at the Mark include round-the-clock room service by Jean-Georges, John Lobb shoeshines, a 70-foot sailboat available to charter, complimentary bicycles, and pedicabs for hire, Olivier offers something a little more personal for penthouse guests. “We have heads of state, very wealthy business people, and celebrities renting this space, and they could care less about a Bentley at their disposal 24/7, as they often have their security in tow, or their own motorcade,” he explains.

Instead, Lordonnois and his team work with the guest (or assistants) to understand what might really wow them. It could be a rare bottle of wine or sake that would impress the guest. If one happens to be interested in astronomy, a telescope will be erected on the terrace. “It is a lot more work on our side to find these special amenities, but they are certainly a little more genuine,” he says of the suite-specific wow factor. “Obviously, the accommodation is unbelievable, but after that, the little details have to be in line with the rest. That is our job: to find those little things.” 

Why build a suite this size in the first place? Buzz and bragging rights, of course, says Lordonnois, “but also, from a sales perspective, it decreases our inventory and improves overall occupancy rates,” which chopping it into separate rooms would not. Occupancy rates for the penthouse currently hover around 50 percent, he says.

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US Flexes: Military Live Fire Drills in S China Sea…

US Flexes: Military Live Fire Drills in S China Sea...

(Second column, 4th story, link)

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Danger ahead of midterms…

NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. gasoline prices are sitting at four-year seasonal highs headed into the November midterm elections, even as President Donald Trump has called repeatedly for OPEC to push prices lower.

FILE PHOTO: The identification sign on a large gasoline tank is shown at a gasoline distribution terminal in San Diego, California January 7, 2015. REUTERS/Mike Blake

While gasoline prices typically drop following peak summer demand season, they have not fallen as fast as expected, said Jeanette Casselano, spokeswoman for the American Automobile Association.

The national price average was at $2.867 a gallon as of Wednesday, its highest seasonally since 2014, according to AAA.

(For monthly U.S. retail gasoline prices, see:

Fuel prices have risen due to a surge in crude oil prices. U.S. crude futures have gained in part because of U.S. sanctions affecting Iran’s petroleum sector, which have already cut into that nation’s exports, according to market participants. That has forced others, including Saudi Arabia and Russia, to make up the difference. The price of global benchmark Brent hit a four-year high of $82.55 a barrel this week, while U.S. crude hit $72.78, the highest since July 11.

The sanctions are expected to take supply off the market when they go into effect in November. The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries ended a meeting on Sunday with no formal recommendation to boost output.

Increased pressure on global supply could cause gasoline prices to remain at current levels or even rise this fall, which would be unusual, said Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis at tracking firm GasBuddy. That could have an effect on voter psyche with the midterm congressional elections approaching.

“The absence of a decline at the pump in the fall could be notable as voters head to the polls,” DeHaan said.

Yet, prices might not be high enough to sway voter sentiment. Consumers do not usually make “lifestyle changes” until prices rise to $3.25 a gallon or more, Casselano said.

Wholesale prices have risen in the Midwest as the region’s refineries undergo maintenance, DeHaan said.

In the physical market, gasoline cash differentials in Group Three RUV-DIFF-G3, a region that encompasses several Midwestern states, rose to a near three-year high last week, traders said.

(For Group Three cash differentials, see:

U.S. gasoline inventories are at seasonal record highs, which could help temper price increases, said Bob Yawger, director of energy futures at Mizuho.

(For U.S. gasoline inventories, see:

The wide discount of U.S. crude to Brent WTCLc1-LCOc1 has incentivized refiners to make gasoline with cheaper U.S. crude and put it into storage for later sale, Yawger said.

(For the Brent-WTI spread, see:

Reporting by Stephanie Kelly; Editing by Tom Brown

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Jerry Brown Vetoes 'Fake News Advisory Group'…

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – California will not create a “fake news” advisory group in order to monitor information posted and spread on social media.

Senate Bill 1424 was vetoed by Governor Jerry Brown. He wrote:

“This bill directs the Attorney General to establish an advisory group to study the problem of the spread of false information through Internet-based social media platforms. As evidenced by the numerous studies by academic and policy groups on the spread of false information, the creation of a statutory advisory group to examine this issue is not necessary.”

The bill would have required the California Attorney General to create the advisory committee by April 1, 2019. It would have had to consist of at least one person from the Department of Justice, representatives from social media providers, civil liberties advocates, and First Amendment scholars.

The Assembly and Senate-passed bill required the advisory group to study how false information is spread online, come up with a plan for social media platforms to fix the problem, and develop criteria establishing what is “fake news” versus what is inflammatory or one-sided.

READ ALSO: Young Adults Still Can’t Identify Fake News

The Electronic Frontier Foundation opposed the bill, calling it “flawed” and “misguided.” The group argued the measure would make the government and advisory group responsible for deciding what is true or false. It also pointed out the First Amendment prevents content-based restrictions, even if the statements of “admittedly false.”

A recent study by Massachusetts-based MindEdge Learning was conducted with 1,000 young adults, ages 18 to 31-years-old. According to MindEdge’s nine-question survey, 52 percent of the respondents incorrectly answered at least four questions and received a failing grade. The number of young adults who could detect false information on the internet went down by all of the group’s measures. Only 19 percent of the college students and grads scored an “A” by getting eight or nine questions correct. That number is down from 24 percent in last year’s survey.

SEE: 150 Immigrants Arrested In Southern California ICE Raids

Facebook recently did away with its “Trending News” section – calling it outdated and unpopular. That section was criticized in the past after reports came out claiming the human editors were biased against conservatives. After Facebook fired those editors, the algorithms it replaced them with couldn’t always distinguish real news from fake.

After the 2016 election, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg denied that fake news spread on the social site he oversees influenced the outcome- calling the idea “crazy.”

A previous bill, AB 155, would have required schools to teach students the difference between “fake news” and “real news.” It died in the Assembly Committee on Appropriations.

Senate Bill 1424 was authored by Senator Dr. Richard Pan. It passed the Assembly and Senate in late August.

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Ex-employee warns of 'disturbing' plans…

Google event in ShanghaiImage copyright

Image caption

Google’s own workers have raised concerns after reports it is developing a censored search engine for China

A former Google employee has warned of the firm’s “disturbing” plans in China, in a letter to US lawmakers.

Jack Poulson, who had been a senior researcher at the company until resigning in August, wrote that he was fearful of Google’s ambitions.

His letter alleges Google’s work on a Chinese product – codenamed Dragonfly – would aid Beijing’s efforts to censor and monitor its citizens online.

Google has said its work in China to date has been “exploratory”.

Ben Gomes, Google’s head of search, told the BBC earlier this week: “Right now all we’ve done is some exploration, but since we don’t have any plans to launch something there’s nothing much I can say about it.”

A report by news site The Intercept last week alleged Google had demanded employees delete an internal memo that discussed the plans.

Google has not commented on the staff row, but said: “We’ve been investing for many years to help Chinese users, from developing Android, through mobile apps such as Google Translate and Files Go, and our developer tools.”

It added: “We are not close to launching a search product in China.”

‘Censorship blacklist’

Mr Poulson’s letter details several aspects of Google’s work that had been reported in the press but never officially confirmed by the company. It was submitted to the Senate Commerce Committee, which held a hearing on Wednesday in Washington DC.

The topic of the hearing was “examining safeguards for consumer data privacy”.

Google’s chief privacy officer, Keith Enright, faced questions from Senator Ted Cruz about the company’s intentions to launch a new search engine in China.

Mr Enright confirmed to the Republican lawmaker that Project Dragonfly existed but added that a product was not close to launch.

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Media captionWATCH: Google’s privacy chief is quizzed by Senator Ted Cruz about its Chinese search engine project

Representatives from AT&T, Apple, Twitter and Amazon also took part in the hearing, most of which centred on whether there was a need for a new federal data privacy law.

‘Catastrophic failure’

The letter alleges Google is working on:

  • A prototype interface designed to allow a Chinese joint venture company to search for a given user’s search queries based on their phone number
  • An extensive censorship blacklist developed in accordance with Chinese government demands. Among others, it contained the English term “human rights”, the Mandarin terms for ‘student protest’ and ‘Nobel prize’, and very large numbers of phrases involving ‘Xi Jinping’ and other members of the CCP
  • Explicit code to ensure only Chinese government-approved air quality data would be returned in response to Chinese users’ search

Mr Poulson said the sum of these efforts amounted to a “catastrophic failure” of Google’s internal policies on privacy – as well as going against assurances made to the US trade regulator regarding data protection measures in its products.

“Dragonfly is part of a broad pattern of unaccountable decision making across the tech industry,” Mr Poulson wrote.

Mr Poulson’s letter follows a joint statement signed by hundreds of current Google employees against Dragonfly sent last month.

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650 Bangladeshi Nationals Arrested in TX …

650 Bangladeshi Nationals Arrested in TX ...

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