Post Staff Report
Saturday, September 30, 2017
Post Staff Report
Jorge Rodriguez, 49, is the Harvard-educated CEO of PACIV, an international engineering firm based in Puerto Rico that works with the medical and pharmaceutical sectors. The Puerto Rican-born engineer says he has dispatched 50 engineers to help FEMA rehabilitate the devastated island — a commonwealth of the United States — after Hurricane Maria. He refuses to work with the local government, which he called inept and riddled with corruption.
For the last 30 years, the Puerto Rican government has been completely inept at handling regular societal needs, so I just don’t see it functioning in a crisis like this one. Even before the hurricane hit, water and power systems were already broken. And our $118 billion debt crisis is a result of government corruption and mismanagement.
The governor Ricardo Rossello has little experience. He’s 36 and never really held a job and never dealt with a budget. His entire administration is totally inexperienced and they have no clue how to handle a crisis of this magnitude.
For instance, shortly after the hurricane hit, the government imposed a curfew from 6 pm to 6 am and then changed it. Now, it’s 7 pm to 5 am, and makes no sense. The curfew has prevented fuel trucks from transporting their loads. These trucks should have been allowed to run for 24 hours to address our needs, but they have been stalled, and so we have massive lines at gas stations and severe shortages of diesel at our hospitals and supermarkets.
I’m really tired of Puerto Rican government officials blaming the federal government for their woes and for not acting fast enough to help people on the island. Last week I had three federal agents in my office and I was so embarrassed; I went out of my way to apologize to them for the attitude of my government and what they have been saying about the US response. When the hurricane hit we had experts from FEMA from all over the US on the ground and I was really proud of their quick response. The first responders and FEMA have all been outstanding in this crisis, and should be supported.
I have 50 engineers that I have sent out pro bono to help local companies get back on their feet. This includes getting people gasoline and cash, and helping them connect to others that can assist with repairs without delays.
I won’t allow my people to work with the local government.
I have a message for the U.S. Congress: Watch out what relief funds you approve and let our local government handle. Don’t let the Puerto Rican government play the victim and fool you. They have no clue what they are doing, and I worry that they will mishandle anything that comes their way.
They don’t need another aircraft carrier. They need experienced people to run a proper disaster command center.
Zuckerberg denies claims of bias after Trump said social media company was against him
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said his company is not biased against President Donald Trump, disputing claims made by the president that the social media company is against him.
"Trump says Facebook is against him. Liberals say we helped Trump. Both sides are upset about ideas and content they don't like. That's what running a platform for all ideas looks like," Zuckerberg wrote in a Facebook post.
However, Facebook executives were in close contact with Hillary Clinton's failed presidential campaign. Zuckerberg himself met with John Podesta, Clinton's former campaign chairman, and the company has even teamed up with longtime Clinton ally David Brock to combat "fake news," according to confidential documents obtained earlier this year by the Washington Free Beacon.
In a document attached to an email released by WikiLeaks and discovered by the Free Beacon last year, Teddy Goff, the digital strategist for the Clinton campaign, wrote of having "discreet conversations" about forming "working relationships" with companies such as Facebook and Apple as early as October 2014.
"Working relationships with Google, Facebook, Apple and other technology companies were important to us in 2012 and should be even more important to the you in 2016, given their still-ascendant positions in the culture," the partnership portion of the document reads. "These partnerships can bring a range of benefits to a campaign, from access to talent and progressive donors to early knowledge of beta products and invitations to participate in pilot programs."
"We have begun discreet conversations with some of these companies to get a sense of their priorities for the coming cycle, but would encourage you, as soon as your technology leadership is in place, to initiate more formal discussions."
The memo also confirmed that Eric Schmidt, the executive chairman of Alphabet, Google's parent company, was aiding the Clinton campaign. The Schmidt-backed group involved with the campaign was never mentioned by name, although he had provided funding to a tech company called The Groundwork, which ultimately received hundreds of thousands from Clinton's campaign.
Zuckerberg met with Podesta on at least one occasion, according to another email.
"I enjoyed spending time with you yesterday and our conversation gave me a lot to think about. Thanks for sharing your experiences with CAP and some of the choices you made as you put the organization together," Zuckerberg wrote to Podesta on August 7, 2015. "I hope it's okay if I reach out as my thinking develops to get your ideas and reactions. If there are any other folks you think I should talk to, please let me know. Thanks again. I look forward to continuing our conversation."
Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer of Facebook, is additionally shown communicating with the Clinton campaign on a number of occasions within the hacked Podesta emails.
Dustin Moskovitz, Facebook's cofounder, committed $20 million to Clinton and other Democrats last year. Zuckerberg hired Clinton's former pollster in August of this year, a possible prelude to a presidential campaign of his own.
The Free Beacon attended a retreat in January hosted by David Brock, the liberal operative who founded Media Matters and is a close ally of Clinton, where he huddled with more than 100 deep-pocketed donors at the posh Turnberry Isle Resort in Aventura, Fla.
As the retreat was underway, the Free Beacon obtained a copy of a confidential Brock memo that outlined his four-year agenda of attacking Trump and Republicans using Media Matters, American Bridge, Citizen's for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), and Shareblue.
The memo, which contained plans such as defeating Trump through impeachment, also spoke of how Media Matters was partnering with Facebook to combat "fake news."
Facebook began talks with Brock's company after it had launched a "fake news" petition drive in 2016, according to the documents.
"It became clear from these conversations that Facebook needed our help in fully understanding the problem and identifying concrete solutions, the memo states. "Further, it also became clear that we had information and insight that they didn't have that was helpful in educating them on the full scope of the problem. For example, Media Matters had a detailed map of the constellation of right-wing Facebook pages t hat had been the biggest purveyors of fake news—as well as insight into the food chain of fake news and how it was moving through the Facebook ecosystem."
"We've been engaging with Facebook leadership behind the scenes to share our expertise and offer input on developing meaningful solutions," the memo says.
Facebook has come under fire in recent weeks after it was revealed that Russian-funders had bought $100,000 worth of political advertisements leading up to the 2016 presidential election.
Politico reported that the purchases "backed" Green Party candidate Jill Stein, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.), and Trump. The ads, however, "didn't necessarily hew to promoting Trump and bashing Clinton." Russians also bought a Black Lives Matter advertisement that targeted individuals in Baltimore and Ferguson.
Marc Elias, Clinton's campaign lawyer, helped Facebook avoid political ad disclosures years before acting as her general counsel.
Facebook did not return a request for comment by press time.
Friday, September 29, 2017
Thursday, September 28, 2017
While President Trump has his eyes on curbing illegal immigration, federal rules are allowing legal immigrants to "sponsor" several more family members from their countries, according to the Department of Homeland Security.
On average, legal immigrants have been sponsoring three additional immigrants. And newly arrived Mexicans are sponsoring an additional six family members.
The statistics analyzed by the Center for Immigration Studies find that sponsorships exceed initial immigration numbers.
Called "chain migration" because the first immigrant acts as a link to many others legally allowed to follow, the practice is having a huge impact on the U.S. Sponsors are "native-born citizens or naturalized citizens."
Jessica Vaughan, the director of policy studies at the Center for Immigration Studies, reported that in the last 10 years half the 10.6 million immigrants allowed into the country were "initiating" and the rest sponsored followers. Over the last 35 years, over 60 percent were sponsored.
Her findings are even more alarming when considering the fate of some 800,000 recipients of the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. "Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is likely to increase chain migration in the future, as DACA beneficiaries eventually qualify for citizenship and the opportunity to sponsor their parents and siblings, many of whom also have been residing in the United States illegally," she wrote in the report.
Her key findings:
Over the last 35 years, chain migration has greatly exceeded new immigration. Out of 33 million immigrants admitted to the United States from 1981 to 2016, about 20 million were chain migration immigrants (61 percent).
Judging from preliminary administrative data, approximately 1,125,000 legal immigrants were approved for admission in 2016, which is about 7 percent higher than 2015, and one of the highest numbers in the last decade.
The largest categories of chain migration are spouses and parents of naturalized U.S. citizens because admissions in these categories are unlimited by law.
According to the most complete contemporary academic studies on chain migration, in recent years each new immigrant sponsored an average of 3.45 additional immigrants. In the early 1980s, the chain migration multiplier was 2.59, or more than 30 percent lower.
Of the top immigrant-sending countries, Mexico has the highest rate of chain migration. In the most recent five-year cohort of immigrants studied (1996-2000), each new Mexican immigrant sponsored 6.38 additional legal immigrants.
Chain migration is contributing to the aging of the immigration stream. In the early 1980s, only about 17 percent of family migrants were age 50 or over. In recent years, about 21 percent of family migrants were age 50 or older — a rate that is more than 24 percent higher. This trend has implications for the fiscal consequences of immigration.
Enacting an amnesty for roughly 700,000 DACA beneficiaries is likely to add double that number in additional immigrants because of chain migration, as the amnesty beneficiaries sponsor their parents and other family members.
The Russian government tried to influence the 2016 presidential election by masquerading as an authentic US Muslim organization on social media and posting incendiary memes about Hillary Clinton — while simultaneously using other accounts to send Islamophobic messages to right-wing users, a report says.
Sources tell The Daily Beast that the Kremlin-backed internet trolls created a fake Facebook group called “United Muslims of America” and then used it to stir the proverbial pot for months.
While the Russians’ use of imposter accounts is well noted, this is one of the first known instances where they impersonated an actual organization.
The real “United Muslims of America” is a California-based nonprofit that claims to have promoted interfaith dialogue and political participation for more than 30 years. It is “not functional” at the moment, though, and is in the middle of an organizational rebuild.
The group has hosted events with numerous members of Congress in the past — including Democrats Andre Carson and Eric Swalwell. The lawmakers are both members of the House intelligence committee that is currently investigating President Trump’s ties to Russia.
“Unfortunately, it appears that the United Muslims of America is one of many organizations that was unfairly targeted by Russia in their attempt to influence the 2016 Presidential election,” Carson told the Daily Beast.
While using the imposter UMA account, the Russian trolls reportedly posted countless messages and memes aimed at smearing Clinton’s name, as well as other politicians.
One claimed that the Democratic nominee “created, funded and armed” al-Qaeda and ISIS, while another said John McCain was the true founder of the Islamic State.
The account also posted a photo showing a whitewashed, blood-drenched Moammar Gadhafi — which applauded him for not having a “Rothschild-owned central bank.”
Another post, which was watermarked with the UMA logo, falsely alleged that Osama bin Laden had been a “CIA agent.”
“Russia knows no ends and no limits to which groups they would masquerade as to carry out their objectives,” Swalwell told the Daily Beast.
Throughout the campaign, much of the content that was posted on the account remained apolitical — but the influx of fake news was likely enough to sway voters.
Positive portrayals of Islam were ultimately aimed at Muslim audiences, while the Islamophobic messages were meant for right-wing users.
One post from August 2016 promoted an anti-immigrant rally in Idaho, saying: “We must stop taking in Muslim refugees!”
A message from June 2016, following the deadly Orlando nightclub massacre, asked people to attend an event titled, “Support Hillary. Save American Muslims!”
According to the Daily Beast, the fake UMA page wrote that Clinton was “the only presidential candidate who refuses to ‘demonize’ Islam after the Orlando nightclub shooting.” It added that “with such a person in White House (sic) America will easily reach the bright multicultural future.”
Sources told the outlet that the Russian government also used the account to buy Facebook advertisements to reach its target audiences.
In order to hide their operation, the trolls reportedly used the URL “” — as opposed to the real UMA’s URL, which is “ .”
They wound up amassing more than 260,000 followers before the account was eventually deactivated by Facebook last month as part of the company’s public acknowledgement of Russia’s network activity.
The Daily Beast managed to uncover some of its content, including a number of posts that were made on Instagram and Twitter.
The Russians reportedly used the handles “muslims_in_usa” and “muslim_voice” to promote political rallies for Muslims and post more inflammatory memes. The accounts have since been suspended, as well.
A potential new source of renewable energy has been pulled out of thin air – literally.
Evaporating water could provide the US with 70 percent of its electricity, according to new research.
“We have the technology to harness energy from wind, water and the sun, but evaporation is just as powerful,” Ozgur Sahin, lead author of the study, told Columbia.edu. “We can now put a number on its potential.”
Using evaporation as an energy source would solve many of the problems tied to generating wind and solar power since it could be stored and used when needed. In 15 of the 47 states researchers looked at, the power generated would exceed demand. The first-of-its-kind study was published in Nature Communications.
Sahin and his team at Columbia University developed their first “evaporation machine” prototype in 2015. These prototypes placed bacterial spores – a material that changes when there’ s a lot of water inside them – onto a piece of tape.
These spores’ natural response to changes in humidity is to shrink, so when there’s more humidity the water inside the spores evaporates and the spores shrink which, in turn, causes the tape to contract.
“They work like a muscle,” Sahin told New Scientist. “They can push and pull with a lot of force.”
So you could take these muscles and hook them up to a generator and that would produce electricity from the motion of the material.
In theory, it sounds great. This kind of system could save the 25 trillion gallons of water a year the US loses to evaporation, while generating around 325 gigawatts of electricity.
Unfortunately, in practice – at least for now – this system would be a big eyesore. Sahin’s “evaporation machine” would need to be placed on top of the water in order to collect the evaporation, and the study’s calculations were based on all the lakes and reservoirs – excluding the Great Lakes – in the continental US.
This means a bunch of generators would be hovering over the country’s freshwater resources, ending lake or water activities like boating and swimming, as well as ruining billions of potential Instagrams.
But Sahin says the research is the first step in an extremely promising direction. While the research is still currently limited to inside a lab, the research team plans to test the system on a pool next.
“The present study is only one piece of the puzzle,” Sahin told Gizmodo.