Thursday, September 21, 2017


A pattern I have noticed in these hurricanes is that they weaken at night, when it's cooler, strengthen back up during the day, when it's warmer. So it would be surprising if global warming didn't lead to stronger hurricanes.

National Guard chief cites ‘bigger, larger, more violent’ hurricanes as possible evidence of climate change

Before the breach, Equifax sought to limit exposure to lawsuits

Interior’s ‘unusual’ transfer of senior executives spurs official probe

Undercover With the Alt-Right

On the Road With the Casualties of the Great Recession

Decoding the resistance to climate change: Are we doomed?

Trump judicial nominee said transgender children are part of 'Satan's plan', defended 'conversion therapy'

14% of LGBT people voted for Donald Trump and other loathsome election facts

Meet the LGBTQ Voters Who Backed Trump

Someone Made a Fake Equifax Site. Then Equifax Linked to It.

Alligators Attack and Eat Sharks, Study Confirms
He also uncovered some historical accounts of sharks preying upon American alligators, suggesting that the two carnivores square off more often than thought.

Melting Arctic ice cap falls to well below average

Trump's pick for chemical safety chief called 'voice of the chemical industry'

tags: extreme weather

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Groundbreaking study finds rigid gender stereotypes in children tied to higher depression, violence, suicide risk

Fiza Pirani The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
1:12 p.m Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017

New research from the World Health Organization and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health shows exposure to rigid gender norms can be established in children by age 10 or 11, norms that can lead to damaging consequences in adolescence and beyond.


After conducting the interviews, researchers found that gender roles are generally first introduced to children in the home and are further reinforced as they grow up by siblings, classmates, coaches, clergy and others.

And no matter where children grow up, gender stereotypes prevail and have significant implications for both girls and boys, according to researchers.

“The myth that girls are weak and boys are strong, that girls are vulnerable and boys are aggressive, was so globally pervasive we saw it play out over and over again in 15 countries and across five continents,” Robert Blum, the study’s lead researcher, told Market Watch.

Additionally, he told Huffington Post, girls are often told that their bodies are a target and if they don’t “cover up and stay away from boys,” the “sanctions they experience are pretty profound.”

“Girls pay a very high price,” Blum said.


For boys, the hegemonic myth of being strong and independent generally puts them at a higher risk of falling victim to physical violence, according to researchers.

In countries such as China, India and the U.S., it has become increasingly acceptable for girls to challenge gender stereotypes, but boys can still deal with physical bullying for defying gender norms.

Researchers also found that not only do boys die more frequently than girls from unintentional injuries, and not only are they more prone to substance abuse and suicide, but as adults, their life expectancies are also shorter compared to women.

“Such differences are socially not biologically determined,” study authors concluded.


Tuesday, September 19, 2017


More than 40 million people were estimated to be victims of modern slavery in 2016 -- and one in four of those were children.

How America's 'ground-zero' for modern slavery was cleaned up by workers' group

Children who take up American football early 'at greater risk of brain impairment'

Strong earthquake shakes Mexico, killing at least 119 people

Hurricanes May Cause Earthquakes

People who were at the vigil for Scout Schultz, on the Georgia Tech campus, say the violence appeared to be due to non-students.


Sainsbury's slimline toilet roll to wipe 140 tonnes from carbon emissions
What may look like a minor change to a consumer makes a significant difference when scaled up across many thousands of products."

March of Dimes, American Heart Association oppose new Senate repeal-and-replace bill

Global warming reduces protein in key crops

High CO2 Makes Crops Less Nutritious

After years of decline, global hunger on the rise again

By Ashley Welch CBS News September 18, 2017, 5:43 PM

Global hunger is once again on the rise, reversing some of the progress made over the last decade of steady decline, according to a new report from the World Health Organization (WHO).

In 2016, an estimated 815 million people across the world were undernourished, amounting to about 11 percent of the global population. That number is up 38 million from 2015.

Children are particularly vulnerable to the effects of malnutrition. The report found that 155 million kids under the age of 5 are too short for their age. Another 52 million suffer from wasting, meaning their weight is too low for their height.

The report cites wars and climate change as factors driving the crisis.

"Over the past decade, conflicts have risen dramatically in number and become more complex and intractable in nature," the authors wrote.

More than half of those suffering from hunger live in countries torn apart by ongoing armed conflict, including South Sudan, Nigeria, Somalia and Yemen. Some of the highest proportions of malnourished children in the world are concentrated in zones of conflict.


Food insecurity – defined as a situation when people lack adequate amounts of food necessary for normal growth and an active, healthy life – and malnutrition are also exacerbated by the effects of climate change, such as the increasing severity of extreme storms, droughts and floods, which can interfere with crops and food distribution.

The scarcity and desperation that accompany these natural disasters can further deepen existing conflicts and lead to continued deterioration of the crisis, the researchers say, fueling a vicious cycle of greater human suffering.

Even in more peaceful regions not affected by conflict, droughts and floods linked to the recent weather phenomenon El Niño have contributed to a rise in food security and malnutrition.


The report also makes note of another concerning health trend, the doubling of obesity rates worldwide since 1980. Nearly 41 million children are now overweight. While it may seem odd for both obesity and malnutrition to be on the rise, the report says the two problems are actually interrelated.

"Food insecurity and obesity often co-exist – even in the same household. When resources for food become scarce, and people's means to access nutritious food diminish, they often rely on less-healthy, more energy-dense food choices that can lead to overweight and obesity," the authors write.
And global warming is making crops less nutritious, which might cause people to crave more food to satisfy their nutritional needs.


Earth Has its Third Warmest August on Record in 2017

Dr. Jeff Masters · September 18, 2017, 6:04 AM EDT

August 2017 was the planet's third warmest August since record keeping began in 1880, said NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) on Monday. NASA rated August 2017 as the second warmest August on record. The only warmer Augusts, according to NOAA, came during 2016 and 2015, when a strong El Niño was helping increase global temperatures. Minor differences can occur between the NASA and NOAA rankings because of their different techniques for analyzing data-sparse regions such as the Arctic.

Global ocean temperatures last month were the fourth warmest on record for any August, according to NOAA, and global land temperatures were the second warmest on record. Global satellite-measured temperatures for the lowest 8 km of the atmosphere were the third or second warmest for any August in the 39-year record, according to the University of Alabama Huntsville (UAH) and Remote Sensing Systems (RSS), respectively.

Second-warmest year on record thus far

Each of the first eight months of 2017 have ranked among the top three warmest such months on record, giving 2017 the second highest January–August temperature in the 138-year record: 0.88°C (1.58°F) above the 20th century average. This is behind the record year of 2016 by 0.13°C (0.24°F). This near-record warmth is especially remarkable given the lack of an El Niño event this year. Global temperatures tend to be warmer during El Niño years, when the ocean releases more heat to the atmosphere. Given the lack of an El Niño event in 2017, it is unlikely that we will surpass 2016 as the warmest year on record. However, 2017 is almost certain to be the planet's warmest year on record that lacks any influence from El Niño, and Earth's four warmest years of the last century-plus are likely to be 2016, 2017, 2015, and 2014.


Arctic sea ice extent during August 2017 was the third lowest in the 38-year satellite record, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC).


Sea ice surrounding Antarctica has been at unprecedented lows in recent months, setting an all-time monthly minimum extent record each month during the five-month period November 2016 – March 2017, and again in August of 2017. Monthly Antarctic sea ice extent in April, May, June, and again in August of 2017 were the second lowest on record for their respective months.


According to French climatologist Jérôme Reynaud, the temperature has reached or exceeded 50°C (122°F) more than 700 times in the world in 2017 (in 10 countries). That’s an absolute record, surpassing the previous record of 300+ times, set in 2016.


Since the beginning of 2017, particularly high nighttime temperatures have also been observed in several regions of the world (in 10 countries**). There have been 200+ instances of nighttime minimum temperatures of at least 36°C (96.8°F) (including some at an elevation about 800 meters.)


Category 5 Maria Threatens Catastrophic Damage in the Caribbean

Thank goodness science allows us to have advanced notification of hurricanes so some preparation can be made. Really horrifying to think of these things striking w/o warning.

by Alex Johnson
Sept. 18, 2017 11:58pm ET

Maria blew up from a tropical storm into a major Category 5 hurricane in barely more than a day, bearing down on Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands with catastrophic winds so strong that some areas could be uninhabitable for months, forecasters warned Monday night.

Maria made landfall on Dominica, an island of 72,000 people in the Lesser Antilles, at 9:15 p.m. ET, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said. The island's prime minister, Roosevelt Skerrit, wrote on Facebook that his roof was gone, that his home was flooded and that he was "at the complete mercy of the hurricane." A few minutes later, he reported that he had been rescued.


With hurricane-force winds likely to continue across both territories for as long as 24 hours, forecasters said, Maria was shaping up late Monday to be even more destructive than Hurricane Irma, which killed at least 70 people across the Caribbean and the Southeastern United States beginning in late August.

"These winds will bring catastrophic damage," the agency warned. In tandem with rain as heavy as 18 inches and storm surges forecast as high as 9 feet, conditions could leave parts of the U.S. territories "uninhabitable for weeks or months," it said.

Kenneth Mapp, governor of the U.S. Virgin Islands, suspended all Irma recovery efforts to shift the focus to preparing for Maria, while President Donald Trump declared states of emergency in both territories on Monday. The Coast Guard said it was moving personnel, cutters and aircraft in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico to protect them from Maria and to position them for quick search-and-rescue missions.


Eric Mack
Sept. 18, 2017

While you were going about your business Monday, Hurricane Maria rapidly intensified from a category 1 storm to the category 5 monster with 160 mph winds that is now bowling over the Caribbean island of Dominica.

As of 5 a.m. Atlantic time on Monday, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) in Miami reported that Maria's sustained maximum winds of 90 mph put it at the high end of a category 1 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale. The NHC's 8 p.m. report put Maria at a category 5, making it one of the more rapidly intensifying storms in recent memory.


A recent paper by MIT's Kerry Emanuel found that Atlantic hurricanes that intensify quickly like Harvey and Maria may become more common thanks to climate change.

"...the incidence of storms that intensify rapidly just before landfall could increase substantially by the end of this century, and as rapid intensification is difficult to forecast, there is a risk of an increased frequency of poorly anticipated, high-intensity landfalls, leading to higher rates of injury and death."


Monday, September 18, 2017

Women of childbearing age around world suffering toxic levels of mercury

Damian Carrington Environment editor
Monday 18 September 2017

Women of childbearing age from around the world have been found to have high levels of mercury, a potent neurotoxin which can seriously harm unborn children.

The new study, the largest to date, covered 25 of the countries with the highest risk and found excessive levels of the toxic metal in women from Alaska to Chile and Indonesia to Kenya. Women in the Pacific islands were the most pervasively contaminated. This results from their reliance on eating fish, which concentrate the mercury pollution found across the world’s oceans and much of which originates from coal burning.

The most extreme levels were found in women from sites in Indonesia where mercury is heavily used in small-scale gold mining and where fish is also commonly eaten. Such gold mining leads to serious mercury pollution and is also a source of harm to women in Kenya, Paraguay and Myanmar.

Industrial pollution is another source of mercury, and the research found this affected women in Nepal, Nigeria and Ukraine.

“Millions of women and children in communities mining gold with mercury are condemned to a future where mercury impairs the health of adults and damages the developing brains of their offspring,” said Yuyun Ismawati, an Indonesian woman from Ipen, the coalition of NGOs that produced the scientific report. “As long as the mercury trade continues, so too will the mercury tragedy.”

Cook Islands resident Imogen Ingram, from the Island Sustainability Alliance, learned that her own mercury levels were two-and-half times higher than the US Environmental Protection Agency’s safety threshold. “It is really alarming to learn that you have, without knowing, passed on mercury to your child,” she said. “Mercury contamination across the Pacific Islands is high because we eat fish. But I do not want to be told not to eat fish. Coal-fired power, one of the primary sources of mercury pollution in the oceans, is the real offender. It is time to phase it out.”


The Ipen work expanded a smaller study it conducted with the UN Environment Programme to test hair samples from more than 1,000 women from 36 places in 25 countries. In the Pacific Islands, which are far from all industrial sources of mercury pollution, 86% of the women had levels above the 1ppm safety limit, with most over three times that.

Above 1ppm of mercury, brain, heart and kidney damage can occur. The most recent scientific assessment indicates that lifelong brain damage to foetuses can begin at the lower level of 0.58ppm and in many of the sites studied virtually all the women exceeded this level.


Links and comments

This is the height of the hurricane season. The last few years have been abnormal with most Atlantic hurricanes heading toward the U.S., but not making landfall here, getting deflected by weather fronts to the northeast, fizzling out in the cooler waters there, sometimes making it all the way back across the Atlantic and hitting Europe, like Gert did earlier this summer.
What is different is that ocean water is warmer, causing hurricanes to increase in strength faster and to get stronger than they would have previously.

Arctic sea ice once again shows considerable melting

Trump Administration Seeks to Avoid Withdrawal From Paris Climate Accord

How a bill requiring Florida nursing homes to have backup AC died

GOP eying 'blue slip' break to help Trump fill the courts
republicans used this rule, among others, to block President Obama's appointments. Now they are whining it's unfair for Democrats to use it against some of Trump's appointments.

Trump makes good on pledge to donate to Harvey relief

Equifax Suffered a Hack Almost Five Months Earlier Than the Date It Disclosed

Soviet officer who averted cold war nuclear disaster dies aged 77

Australia's record-breaking winter beats average highs by 2C [3.6F], Climate Council says

Michael McGowan
Monday 18 September 2017

It’s always hot in Bidyadanga but a few degrees can make a big difference in the remote Aboriginal community, about 190km south of Broome in Western Australia.

“It’s always hot – it’s the desert – but the difference between 33C [91.4F] and 36C [96.8F] can be quite oppressive,” said Shaun Burgess, a teacher in the community.

This winter, it mattered more than most – 2017 was Australia’s warmest on record for average maximum temperatures, which reached nearly 2C above the winter average and beat the previous record set in 2009 by 0.3C, according to a report released by the Climate Council on Tuesday.
Q&A: panellists spar over coal as energy debate dominates
Read more

In July alone 72 records were broken for the highest maximum temperature, including in Sydney, which set a record high of 26.5C.

Bidyadanga was one of those 72; on July 27 it reached 36.3C, the hottest day in Australia’s warmest July. It also broke its previous July record of 35.7C, set in 2016.

“It’s made it really difficult to do things like go camping or fishing with the students, which is something we’ve done a lot of in previous years,” Burgess said. “There’s been less of an opportunity to clear the mind, less of a reprieve, I guess.”


“Winter warm spells are lasting longer, occurring more often and becoming more intense,” the report said. “The likelihood of such warm winters occurring will continue to increase as global temperatures rise.”


Sunday, September 17, 2017

Equifax Execs Resign; Security Head, Mauldin, Was Music Major

I notice that the executives who make these decisions are never penalized. The companies might be fined, which means the stockholders and lower level employees are hurt.

by Ben Popken
Sept. 15, 2017


The beleaguered company announced Friday evening that its chief information officer, David Webb, and chief security officer, Susan Mauldin, had retired. A statement said Mark Rohrwasser would serve as interim CIO and Russ Ayres would be interim CSO.


But are these moves will be enough to tamp down the growing conflagration surrounding the company?

"Not at all," Ed Mierzwinski, Senior Fellow for U.S. PIRG, a Washington-based advocacy group, told NBC News in an email. "These are calculated sacrifices at a company with a troubled record."

"All the credit bureaus have a troubled culture because consumers do not regulate their markets," he added. "You cannot vote with your feet. They've only just begun to be reined in under the CFPB after 40 years of sneering at consumers and the FTC."


Watchdogs are referring to the debacle as "corporate malfeasance," noting that it is "the worst breach in history."

The hot glare stands in marked contrast to the cool breeze the credit bureaus have felt for decades with little to no oversight or regulation, consumer advocates say, despite holding and making money off the deep and personal data on nearly every American citizen.

This is no accident. The three top credit reporting agencies, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion have spent millions lobbying for lighter regulation and in campaign donations to congressmen who will keep their mandatory protections low and profits high.

From 1998 to 2017, Equifax alone has spent over $9 million in lobbying, primarily on debt, credit report, credit score and personal information issues.

Perhaps tellingly, Warren also sent letters to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the FTC asking whether they had authority to investigate the breach and the adequate power to regulate the agencies and protect consumers.

It's not too hard to guess what direction the answers will go.

"The credit bureaus have never been forced to have a 21st century database. The reason is because they don't have to," said Mierzwinski.

Since the rise of consumer credit in the 1970s, credit bureaus have fought back against efforts to ensure accuracy and maintain stricter consumer protections.


"We know [the credit bureaus] didn't make an investment in accuracy until recently," said Chi Chi Wu, a lawyer for the National Consumer Law Center. "In the last couple of years they have moved better with respect to dispute processing. That's because the CFPB has been supervising them and the state attorneys general have been taking enforcement action."

The day the breach was announced, Wu was testifying in Congress against a bill that would have rolled back financial penalties for violations of Fair Credit Reporting Act, a 40-year-old rule that requires credit reports to not have mistakes or contain false information.

The new bill, the FCRA "Harmonization" Act, was sponsored by and endorsed by 14 congressional representatives, 10 of whom have received campaign donations linked to the big three credit bureaus.


And if the invisible hand of the marketplace is supposed to course correct, it's asleep at the wheel.

"The three credit reporting agencies are a natural oligarchy," said Wu. Unlike with, say, wireless providers, where a handful of companies control the overall market — and if you don’t like one you can just switch — when it comes to credit bureaus, "the consumer has no choice."

Speaking of the private sector, there are controls there that would have stopped the breach or limited its impact.

"The U.S. breach was an Apache vulnerability that had a patch available back in March. According to Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard, all critical patches must be applied within 30 days," Greg Sparrow, general manager for Compliance Point, which does PCI certification for Equifax vendors, told NBC News in an email.


Saturday, September 16, 2017


Half of Canada's monitored wildlife is in decline, major study finds

Entire city police force sacked in Philippines after murder claims

America’s vitriol towards Clinton reveals a nation mired in misogyny

Why do older people hate millennials so much?

Chemotherapy pain could be eased by jetlag drug, study suggests

Increasing number of children arrive at emergency departments addicted to opioids

Riding a slide while on a parent's lap increases the risk of injury

Green schoolyards offer physical and mental health benefits for children

Old fish few and far between under fishing pressure

Premature infants may get metabolic boost from mom's breast milk

People of color exposed to more pollution from cars, trucks, power plants over 10 years
"At any income level -- low to medium to high -- there's a persistent gap by race, which is completely indefensible. It says a lot about how segregated neighborhoods still are and how things are segregated," Marshall said.

Thirdhand smoke exposure effects on liver and brain found to worsen over time

Repealing ACA would leave more veterans uninsured, increase pressure on VA

Maintaining healthy weight helps keep blood pressure low through life

Impaired sleep may have serious health consequences for kidney disease patients

Young binge drinkers show altered brain activity

US public backs carbon tax, and spending revenue on renewables

Friday, September 15, 2017

Links & comments

Scientists: Future of oldest tree species on Earth in peril

What Irma felt like: 4 harrowing tales of storm survival

Arkansas lineman electrocuted in Ocilla, Georgia

What The 2 Deadliest Mass Shootings This Year Have In Common
Both involved men allegedly targeting their estranged wives as the women attempted to move on.

Shuttered Facebook group that organized anti-Clinton, anti-immigrant rallies across Texas was linked to Russia

‘Rapunzel syndrome’ teen dies from eating her own hair

Texas secession movement: Russia-linked Facebook group asked us to participate in anti-Clinton rallies
Russia has a long history of working to cultivate Western separatist groups. The group Yes California, for instance, set up a makeshift embassy in Moscow in December in partnership with far-right Russian nationalists who enjoy Kremlin support while promoting secessionist movements in Europe and the United States.

How her daughter died from a simple case of flu

It must irritate Obama that after he built up FEMA, that Trump gets the credit for the good work it has done on Harvey. Esp. since Trump has rolled back regulations put in by Obama that helped reduce the damage from Harvey.

Stricter building rules, rejected by Trump, helped Harvey-hit communities

Trump Rolled Back Flood Protection Regulations For Infrastructure Days Before Harvey Hit

House Republicans’ spending bill includes FEMA cuts to fund Trump’s border wall

President Trump's Budget Would Cut Hundreds of Millions From Disaster Relief Programs

Here's how you can help the victims of recent disasters

The multiple disasters around the U.S. & world, hurricanes, fires, earthquakes, droughts, show why I never designate a charitable donation to a specific disaster. People often donate for a specified disaster that gets a lot of news coverage, so organizations may get more than they need for that disaster, then later or less prominent disasters don't get enough. If they use the unneeded funds for other, needed, purposes, human piranhas will jump on them for that.

See the links below to get links to helping agencies.

By CNN Impact Your World Team
Updated 2:10 PM ET, Mon August 28, 2017


There are several ways you can help.
Donate money: By clicking on the button below, you can donate to charities vetted by CNN's Impact Your World. These organizations are helping in Harvey's immediate aftermath, and they will continue working through the long term.


What Kind of World - updated lyrics Sept. 18, 2017

What Kind of World
© copyright 2016 Patricia M. Shannon

What kind of world do we want to leave the future?
What will they say about us when we are gone?
Will they thank us? Will they curse us?
Will there be anybody left to care at all?
Will they thank us? Or will they curse us?
Will there be anybody left to care at all?
Will there be anybody left to care at all?

We have learned much, risen from the muck.
Will we throw it all away?
We could continue on so far, maybe even to the stars,
if we don't throw it all away, if we don't throw it all away.


(verse 2)
When we take a stand, we can heal the land,
if we work together now.
We could get power from the sun, prevent our own extinction,
if we would work together now,
if we just work together now.


(verse 3)

We've known a long time it is a grave crime
if we refuse to change our ways.
Now the time has come to pay: drowning, burning, blown away.
Because we wouldn't change our ways.
We just refused to change our ways.

Video uses old lyrics, will be updated soon

What it takes to restore power

Marty Dorfman

I know it has to be so difficult without power. I can't imagine what some of you are going through. Those who I have talked to have been very gracious. But for you salty folk, please read. I am not the author.


Restoring power.

Ok please pass this around and it will give some idea of what it takes to restore power to all the homes after a hurricane. Then maybe the people who are bitching about not having power will realize what it takes to get the job done.

1st, you have to check the line from the generating plant which in most cases is a 230,000 volt or 500,000 volt line. This is generally done by helicopter to fly the line and see where it is damaged. Once they know where and how bad, they can send crews to fix it. The generating plant feeds the switch yards and transformer that sends power to the substations.

2nd, the switch yard in most cases steps the power down to 69,000 volts and then sends it to all the substations. So all the lines to the substation have to be checked and marked for repairs. The substations have transformers that step the power down to what we call 15KV or 15,000 volts. From the substations it goes out and is what we call distributions lines.

3rd the distribution lines have to be checked and every tap line that goes off it to feed a neighborhood has to be checked. NOW the fun begins. Every single house has to be walked out to make sure the meter and drop to the house is ok to energize. If they energize a line that has not been repaired there is a risk of starting a fire and burning down a line or a house.

Any line you cannot get a truck too you have to climb the pole the old fashion way and work it off your hooks.

Now, for Hurricane Ike, Houston has 36,000 miles of distribution line in the metro area. After the hurricane, over half of it was down. So over 18,000 miles of power line had to be repaired. They did 90% of it in two weeks. Just think, that is building a power line from Los Angeles to New York 6 times and they did most of it in two weeks.

Logistics. I will just round off and make even numbers for people to understand. Ok, 4,000 lineman means there are 1000 crews. A line crew has a minimum of 4 men per crew, some are heavy crews with more men. Lets say a line crew does 3 poles a day, that means they have to have 3,000 poles, 3,000 cross arms 12,000 pins and insulators plus bolts and braces and hardware. The average span of wire is about 250 ft, so 4 wires per span means a 1000 ft of wire for each pole. In order to save times they often put a band aide on a pole to hold it in until proper repairs can be made.

Do you have any idea what it takes to get this much material to crews and how many trucks it takes to haul this much. No utility company anywhere has this much material in stock so it has to come by truck from around the country from other utilities. The average crew will go through about 100 gallons of diesel a day. That is 40,000 gallons of fuel.

I hope gives just a little insight to what has to be done and hope people will understand it is not as simple as flipping a damn switch to get power on.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Shuttered Facebook group that organized anti-Clinton, anti-immigrant rallies across Texas was linked to Russia

Natasha Bertrand
Sep. 13, 2017

A Russia-linked Facebook group attempted to organize a series of anti-immigrant, anti-Hillary Clinton rallies across Texas last November, three days before the election and months after Russian operatives used the social-media platform to organize an anti-refugee-resettlement protest in rural Idaho.

A Russia-linked Facebook group attempted to organize a series of anti-immigrant, anti-Hillary Clinton rallies across Texas last November, three days before the election and months after Russian operatives used the social-media platform to organize an anti-refugee-resettlement protest in rural Idaho.


In late October, however, the group transformed from a nativist, anti-Clinton meme machine to an organizing force when it created a Facebook event for a "Texit statewide rally" titled "Get ready to secede!"

The event has since been removed from Facebook


The event called on Texans in major cities like Fort Worth, Dallas, San Antonio, Houston, and Austin to protest "establishment robbers" and "higher taxes to feed undocumented aliens." It further claimed that a "Killary Rotten Clinton" victory would lead to an influx of "refugees, mosques, and terrorist attacks."

The page also created "an approximate map" for the rallies and explained, in awkward English, "what will be happening" at the event.


It is unclear how many people showed up to the protests. The group's efforts came on the heels of a similar Russian effort disclosed by The Daily Beast earlier this week: an anti-Muslim protest in Twin Falls, Idaho, titled "Citizens before refugees."

The group that organized the protest, which called itself SecuredBorders, was also shut down as part of Facebook's purge of Russia-linked pages. It had roughly 100,000 fewer followers than Heart of Texas when it was shuttered. SecuredBorders and Heart of Texas both linked refugees to crime and posted Islamophobic memes and photos.

"A lot of different people are working on the Russian active-measures problem from a lot of different directions, and they all consistently find examples of the same general content being promoted: highly divisive anti-immigrant and anti-refugee rhetoric and activity," said JM Berger, an expert on extremism and influence operations who helped build a digital platform called Hamilton 68 that tracks Russian propaganda in real time.

"At this point, we have a lot of independent sources pointing to the same conclusion," Berger said.


"The use of anti-refugee themes as part of this effort is also another example of the Kremlin's use of divisive issues to attempt to pit Americans against one another," said Rosenberger, who is also involved in the Hamilton 68 tracking project.


Red list: ash trees and antelopes on the brink of extinction

Damian Carrington Environment editor
Thursday 14 September 2017 08.00 EDT

Native ash trees, abundant across North America, are on the brink of extinction as an invasive beetle ravages forests, according to the new red list of threatened species from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

The list now includes more than 25,000 species at risk of extinction and the scientists warn that species, such as the American ashes and five African antelopes, that were thought to be safe, are now disappearing faster than they can be counted.

The new red list declares the Christmas Island Pipistrelle bat extinct, but also reports that conservation efforts have improved the prospects for snow leopards and the Rodrigues flying fox from Mauritius.

In July, scientists reported that a “biological annihilation” of wildlife in recent decades means a sixth mass extinction in Earth’s history is under way and is more severe than previously feared. Half of all animals on the planet have been lost in the past 40 years, due to the destruction of wild areas, hunting and pollution [including climate disruption] as the human population grows.

“Our activities as humans are pushing species to the brink so fast that it’s impossible for conservationists to assess the declines in real time,” said Inger Andersen, IUCN director general. “Even those species that we thought were abundant and safe – such as antelopes in Africa or ash trees in the US – now face an imminent threat of extinction.”


The six most common ash tree species in North America, representing nine billion trees, have entered the red list for the first time, with five assessed as being in the most at-risk category of critically endangered. They are being destroyed by the fast-spreading emerald ash borer beetle, which arrived in Michigan from Asia in the late 1990s in infested shipping pallets.


The beetle has already killed tens of millions of trees and can wipe out a whole forest in six years. Climate change is also helping the alien invader enter new areas that were previously too cold. One of the affected species, the once-plentiful white ash is one of the most valuable timber trees in North America, used for making furniture, baseball bats and hockey sticks.


Let Hillary Clinton roar

By Susan Bordo
Updated 3:54 PM ET, Wed September 13, 2017

Something very strange is going on in post-mortems about the 2016 election. On the one hand, the hard evidence is piling up that a combination of factors largely outside of Hillary Clinton's control were responsible for her loss to Donald Trump. On the other hand, many apparently don't want Hillary Clinton to talk about any of that.

Every day, we hear fresh reports of the extent and insidious nature of Russian interference in the promotion of fake news stories and nasty accusations about Hillary Clinton's character -- a smear campaign that was bound to have had an effect on voters' perceptions (why else would the Russians invest so much energy and money?). But when Clinton mentions the Russians, she's accused of shuffling responsibility away from herself.
Studies by respected think tanks such as Harvard's Shorenstein Center have documented a negative bias against Clinton in ordinary news reporting. This was not "fake news" but a daily, repetitive media buzz of (often GOP-inspired) "scandals" and "suspect" activity, which always had Clinton hiding something, from her basement server to her pneumonia. And this obscured coverage of her policy speeches and core messages.

But she dare not talk about that, lest she be seen as boo-hooing about unfair treatment by the press.

Pollster Nate Silver has published data highly suggestive of the disastrous effect of James Comey's eleventh-hour revival of the media's email obsession -- an announcement made just as Donald Trump's post-"Access Hollywood" polling numbers plummeted and Clinton's momentum revived. But when Clinton mentions Comey, it is taken as just one more complaint in a litany of "blaming others" for her own mistakes.

Instead we're told -- and what we're told Clinton herself refuses to acknowledge -- that the real problem was Clinton herself. It's usually a one-dimensional narrative. She didn't reach the "working people." She had no "economic message." She was too "establishment" in a year when people wanted change. She didn't go to the right states during the last week of the election.

And, of course, the old go-to: she just wasn't likeable enough. (Let us pause to recall here, that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote over Donald Trump by 2,864,974 votes.)
And now, because she's published a book in which she has the audacity to present her own multi-dimensional account of the election, she's being advised, by colleagues as well as pundits, that she should stop "re-litigating" the past, and that it's time to "move on."

Interesting that no one criticized the authors for "looking backward" when "Shattered," a book that puts the blame squarely on Clinton and her campaign, was published. Or when Bernie Sanders, who now suggests "it's a little bit silly" to talk about the election, published his own diagnosis a week after the election. Yet on Sunday, Susan Chira, in The New York Times, called Hillary Clinton "the woman who won't go away," and as I write this, the day after publication of Clinton's new book "What Happened," the annoyed, often vicious customer reviews are piling up on Amazon.

Why are people so angry with Clinton for having the chutzpah to tell her story? Gender certainly plays a role -- but words like "misogyny" and "sexism" require much more precise analysis than I can provide here (I get into it in my book), and without that precision are dull weapons that shut down people's brains.


U.S. House Votes to Block Climate Rules, Using Critical Budget Bill

By Georgina Gustin
Sept. 13, 2017

The House of Representatives on Wednesday voted to cut funding from key climate protection rules and rejected an attempt to save regional offices of the Environmental Protection Agency from being closed.

But lawmakers voted against an amendment to cut $1.9 billion from the EPA's budget, which would have dealt a devastating blow to the beleaguered agency.

Offered by Rep. Ralph Norman, a Republican from South Carolina, the amendment's cuts would have come close to the 31 percent reduction sought by President Donald Trump. The House bill does cut more than $530 million from the agency's $8 billion budget, slashing it to less than the agency was spending in 2006.


The bill contained hundreds of amendments, many of them "riders" of the kind attached to appropriations bills to score policy points. Dozens of these proposals have drawn criticism from environmental groups.

Hewing closely to party lines, Republicans backed two amendments sponsored by Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.). One would prevent funds from being used to enforce an Obama-era rule that limits methane pollution from new oil and gas facilities. The other effectively prohibits the EPA from factoring in future damages from climate change—a calculation known as the social cost of carbon—in weighing the costs and benefits of its rules.

Earlier this year, President Donald Trump issued an executive order to weaken the social cost of carbon requirements, and the administration has also attempted to stall or block rules limiting methane emissions. Republican support on the must-pass appropriations package backs up the administration, and, at least for the coming fiscal year, complicates any efforts by green advocacy groups to challenge the administration's rollbacks.

Lawmakers on Wednesday also voted down an amendment by Rep. Jared Polis, (D-Colo.), that sought to block the administration from closing or consolidating any of the regional offices of EPA.


Wednesday, September 13, 2017


Study Finds Women’s Brains Are Far More Active Than Men’s

A woman interviewed 100 convicted rapists in India. This is what she learned.

Chocolate industry drives rainforest disaster in Ivory Coast

Area sees 'incredible' flooding as Irma pounds Charleston, coastal South Carolina

Flannels not fatbergs! The eco-friendly alternatives to wet wipes
[Sadly, I don't expect this information to change many people's ways of doing things, and will not stop them from complaining when their own actions cause problems they have to deal with. ]

U.S. bans use of Kaspersky software in federal agencies amid concerns of Russian espionage

There’s No Question About FBI ‘Questionnaire’ Email: It’s a New Ransomware Scam

The Fake News Machine

Veles used to make porcelain for the whole of Yugoslavia. Now it makes fake news.

This sleepy riverside town in Macedonia is home to dozens of website operators who churn out bogus stories designed to attract the attention of Americans. Each click adds cash to their bank accounts.

The scale is industrial: Over 100 websites were tracked here during the final weeks of the 2016 U.S. election campaign, producing fake news that mostly favored Republican candidate for President Donald Trump.

One of the shadowy industry's pioneers is a soft-spoken law school dropout. Worried that his online accounts could be shut down, the 24-year-old asked to be known only as Mikhail.

He takes on a different persona at night, prowling the internet as "Jesica," an American who frequently posts pro-Trump memes on Facebook.

The website and Facebook page that "Jesica" runs caters to conservative readers in the U.S.

The stories are political — and often wrong on the facts. But that doesn't concern Mikhail.

"I don't care, because the people are reading," he said. "At 22, I was earning more than someone [in Macedonia] will ever learn in his entire life."

He claims to have earned up to $2,500 a day from advertising on his website, while the average monthly income in Macedonia is just $426.

The profits come primarily from ad services such as Google’s AdSense, which place targeted advertisements around the web. Each click sends a little bit of cash back to the content creator.


Mirko Ceselkoski has more than a decade of experience running websites that target American readers.

He started with sites that specialize in dubious health tips, muscle cars and celebrity gossip. But then he discovered fake news.

Ceselkoski now spends his days schooling Macedonians, including many young people in Veles, on the finer points of the fake news industry. He tells his students they'll earn at least €1,000 ($1,200) a month from their websites.

"There is a large community of young people there ... and there is nothing else to do," he said. "It spread like fire."

Ceselkoski estimates that around 100 of his pupils are now operating U.S. political news sites.


Irma Makes Its Mark in Weather Records

Bob Henson · September 12, 2017, 9:23 PM EDT


Phil Klotzbach (Colorado State University) released a compilation Monday night of the many records set during Irma’s long, eventful life as a tropical cyclone. Here are some highlights:
Strongest Atlantic hurricane outside the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean. Irma set this record in two ways: top sustained winds (185 mph, beating the 175 mph from Hurricane Andrew) and lowest central pressure (914 mb, just ahead of the 915 mb estimated for Hurricane Isabel in 2003). The only hurricane recorded anywhere in the Atlantic with stronger sustained winds than Irma was Hurricane Allen (1980), at 190 mph.

Longevity as a behemoth. Irma racked up a 37-hour stretch with top winds of 185 mph. This beats the global record of 24 hours at or above 185 mph set by Typhoon Haiyan in 2013. Irma spent a total of 3.25 days at Category 5 strength, most of it in a long stretch from Sept. 5 to 8. This puts Irma in a tie with the 1932 Cuba hurricane as the Atlantic storm with the most hours at Cat 5 strength. Before Irma, no Atlantic storm in the satellite era (1966-present) had racked up three consecutive days as a Cat 5. Only Hurricane Ivan (2004) spent more time as a major hurricane (Cat 3/4/5) than Irma’s 8.5 days.

Strength at landfall. No hurricane as strong as Irma had ever been confirmed in the Leeward Islands region (defined by Klotzbach as 15 - 19°N and 60 – 65°W). The previous record-holders were the Okeechobee Hurricane of 1928 and Hurricane David (1979). Both of these hit the Leeward region with winds of 160 mph, and just like Irma, both hurricanes went on to strike Florida. Irma’s landfall on the north coast of Cuba made it the first Cat 5 to strike the nation since the Cuba Hurricane of 1924. Fortunately, Cuba was spared the more intense north side of Irma. •••••


Accumulated cyclone energy (ACE) is a function of a hurricane’s peak wind speeds and its longevity. It’s most relevant in the satellite era, where we have more consistent and frequent estimates of top winds. Irma produced more accumulated cyclone energy (ACE) in a 24-hour period than any other Atlantic storm on record, beating Allen (1980). Irma’s total 67.5 units of ACE puts it within the range of 61-111 units cited by NOAA as being near-normal for an entire Atlantic hurricane season (!). It's also the second highest ACE for any Atlantic hurricane in the satellite era, once again trailing only Ivan (2004). Note: all else being equal, a larger hurricane will pack more energy than a smaller one, but wind-field size hasn’t been incorporated in the definition of ACE, since the size data were not included in official databases until fairly recently.


tags: extreme weather

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Is it time to rethink the 8-hour workday?

Maurie Backman
Sept. 12, 2017

Americans certainly aren't strangers to working long hours. In fact, 40% of U.S. employees regularly put in over 50 hours of work per week, while 20% top the 60-hour mark. But even if we choose to consider these numbers extreme, the reality is that most employees are expected to adhere to the standard eight-hour workday.


But depending on the nature of your work, putting in an eight-hour day may not end up being all that productive, especially on a consistent basis.


And it's not just the famous scientists, authors, and artists of the past who conformed to the "less is more" theory. In a survey conducted in the 1950s, scientists who spent 25 hours at work per week were no more productive than those who only spent five. Not only that, but scientists who worked 35 hours a week were half as productive as those who put in 20 hours a week. A similar pattern, in fact, was observed among violin students who were the subject of a study in the 1980s.

The takeaway? According to author and researcher Alex Pang, four hours is actually the optimal amount of time to spend per day if your work is creative in nature, or requires a notable degree of thinking and concentration. In other words, if you work on an assembly line, you'll most likely maintain your productivity during an eight-hour shift. But if your job requires imagination, ingenuity, and above-average mental focus, you may be better off limiting that work to four hours per day, as opposed to eight or more.


Remember, though four hours might be the ideal amount of time to focus each day on your key responsibilities, you don't necessarily want to do the same thing for four hours in a row. Quite the contrary -- giving your brain some time off is essential to your ultimate success.



Astronaut's grim photos from space show hurricane destruction

Mexico pulls Texas aid offer as it grapples with earthquake and hurricane

If You See a Centipede in Your House, Don’t Kill It

Third of Earth's soil is acutely degraded due to agriculture

Yes, sitting too long can kill you, even if you exercise
Many people are constrained by their employers from healthy action.

As Irma raged, Floridians stopped to take care of creatures great and small

Damaging winds to sweep across UK, Germany Tuesday night and Wednesday
As quickly as Monday’s windstorm exits, another one will arrive across the United Kingdom on Tuesday night and across Germany on Wednesday, threatening more wind and rain.

Why we should ban glitter, just like we banned microbeads
This popular pixie dust is made of plastics and metal, and it does the same harm to our oceans as microbeads.

Brazil probes possible killings of ‘uncontacted’ tribe
Brazilian prosecutors are investigating reports that gold prospectors may have killed members of a so-called uncontacted tribe in the Amazon.

9/11 dust tied to heart risk in children, study says

Unrealistic expectations

Some people on Georgia Power's Facebook page complaining because they don't have power yet. This is my reply:

What is wrong with you ignorant, narcissistic people. Do you know how many power lines are down, the area that was affected. Would you want to pay several times your current rate for the power company to hire enough people to have them on hand for the occasional bad storm? Are you willing to go out in bad weather to fix the power for other people?

Alabama senate candidate repeatedly appeared on radio with pastor who preaches penalty for homosexuality is death

By Nathan McDermott and Andrew Kaczynski, CNN
Updated 11:49 AM ET, Mon September 11, 2017

Roy Moore, a Republican candidate for US Senate in Alabama, has appeared multiple times on a radio show hosted by a controversial pastor who preaches that the biblical punishment for homosexuality is death.
Moore, the former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, is in a runoff primary race against fellow Republican and incumbent Sen. Luther Strange. Moore is a hardline conservative, who made his name in Alabama by championing social and cultural issues popular with the religious right.
Moore has appeared on pastor Kevin Swanson's Generation Radio at least five times and as recently as this February, a CNN KFile review finds. Swanson is a Colorado-based pastor who on several occasions has preached that the biblical punishment for homosexuality is death. Most recently, Swanson tied Hurricane Harvey in Houston to the city having "a very, very aggressively pro-homosexual mayor."


Moore himself has been outspoken against LGBT rights, calling homosexuality an "inherent evil," as well as "abhorrent, immoral, detestable, a crime against nature and a violation of the laws of nature and of nature's God" in a 2002 opinion he issued as chief justice. Moore was suspended as chief justice in 2016 for instructing Alabama's probate judges to defy a federal court order to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.


Thank you

Huge thank you to the government employees, utility workers, volunteers, and news media which have been working so hard before during and after disasters to help us.

Monday, September 11, 2017

House Republicans have quietly slipped provisions into their budget proposal that would eviscerate campaign finance rules ahead of the 2018 midterm elections.

House Republicans have quietly slipped provisions into their budget proposal that would eviscerate campaign finance rules ahead of the 2018 midterm elections. The sweeping proposals would invite even more money to flood our political system. The legislation would:

1) Allow churches to contribute to political campaigns without losing their tax exempt status.

2) Lift restrictions on how corporations can solicit their employees to donate to political campaigns and causes.

3) Prohibit the Internal Revenue Service and the Securities and Exchange Commission from regulating political spending by corporations.

4) Prevent the government from requiring federal contractors to disclose their political contributions and activities.

Corporations can already dump unlimited sums of money into our political system through Super PACs and dark money groups. It's time to get big money out of our politics, not encourage more of it. This must be a central goal.


Astronaut's grim photos from space show hurricane destruction

As Irma raged, Floridians stopped to take care of creatures great and small

Damaging winds to sweep across UK, Germany Tuesday night and Wednesday
As quickly as Monday’s windstorm exits, another one will arrive across the United Kingdom on Tuesday night and across Germany on Wednesday, threatening more wind and rain.

Why we should ban glitter, just like we banned microbeads
This popular pixie dust is made of plastics and metal, and it does the same harm to our oceans as microbeads.

Brazil probes possible killings of ‘uncontacted’ tribe
Brazilian prosecutors are investigating reports that gold prospectors may have killed members of a so-called uncontacted tribe in the Amazon.

9/11 dust tied to heart risk in children, study says

Sunday, September 10, 2017


Dozens of dogs abandoned, left unable to escape as Irma bears down

Want better sleep? Keep your pet in your bedroom, study says

DNA Confirms Viking Remains Found in Sweden Are Female
The remains of the Viking warrior are of a high-ranking, female military leader

Violent storms thrash Italy

tags: extreme weather

Shelter locations around Georgia

See the link below.

Updated: Sep 9, 2017 - 10:32 AM

Includes shelters for people, animal, including horses, and campgrounds.

Practice compassion

People are criticizing those who do comply with evacuation orders. Some people can't afford cars. Some can't afford enough gas to get out of danger. Some have cars in such bad shape they would be in danger of breaking down on the highway, and we know how dangerous that can be. Some are handicapped and can't drive. There are babies in incubators, elderly in nursing homes, sick people in hospitals.

And we live in a culture that tells people they should be able to do anything they want if they have positive thinking, faith, enough effort. If you attempt to be in touch with reality, you are criticized.

Let us try to resist the pressures in our culture to see others in terms of competitors to be constantly criticized.

A Facebook friend in Florida is reporting that she can't leave because she can't get gas.

Saturday, September 09, 2017


Cruise lines are sending their ships on rescue missions in the Caribbean following Irma

Royal Caribbean evacuates employees via a ship sailing away from Irma

Plastic fibres found in tap water around the world

Origami-inspired clothing range that grows with your child wins Dyson award

Sea salt around the world is contaminated by plastic

Friday, September 08, 2017


Hurricanes May Cause Earthquakes

Oregon's governor says the Trump administration refused request for help combating wildfires

All five living former presidents launch joint Harvey relief effort

Rights group finds ‘assembly line’ of torture in Egypt

Father commits suicide after 2-year-old son accidentally shoots himself with loaded gun

Hurricane preparedness for backyard chickens


House passes Trump deal on majority Democratic vote

Hurricane Irma’s epic size is being fuelled by global warming

Parents of "Dreamer" who died attempting Harvey rescues speak out

2017 wildfire season in US West far worse than expected

30 Georgia counties under state of emergency ahead of Hurricane Irma

Predicting Irma’s Path Is Giving Supercomputers a Challenge

Scientists Hatch Bold Plan to Save Planet From Supervolcano

Remember When Donald Trump Pocketed Millions in Hurricane Insurance for Mar-a-Lago Damage That Never Happened?

Alabama Republican Rep. Rogers Had Key Hurricane Monitoring Satellite destroyed

H-E-B CEO to make monumental donation to J.J. Watt's Hurricane Harvey relief fund

Can We Afford to Pay U.S. Farmworkers More?

Trump voter fraud commission violated federal rules, lawsuit claims

DeVos ends agreement to work on student loan fraud

How to spot a credit card skimmer at the gas pump or ATM

Mars chief urges companies to ramp up climate change fight

The unprecedented drought that's crippling Montana and North Dakota

NASA’s next head wants it to do less climate science and more weather science, but you can’t separate them

Hurricane Irma and more: Why are there so many hurricanes right now?
Some of those storms fizzle from wind shear or other weather conditions. Still others curve harmlessly north into the mid-North Atlantic and are called "fish storms."

Paul Simon and Edie Brickell target their $1M Harvey pledge at towns outside Houston

Climate Refugees: Kiribati
"Sea level is rising 50 percent faster than it was 20 years ago and that is a real cause for alarm, so it is not a future thing we are really seeing that acceleration."

'New wave' of cyberattacks target US, European energy sectors

Author James Patterson gives $1.75 million to classroom libraries

Blood clot risk -- and other problems -- might be tied to how tall you are

A look at Irma through jaw-dropping numbers

tags: extreme weather

Hurrican Irma preparations in Georgia

Lauren Foreman The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
10:57 a.m. Friday, Sept. 8, 2017


Gov. Nathan Deal on Thursday expanded the state of emergency in Georgia from six to 30 counties and ordered the mandatory evacuation of all areas east of I-95.


Eastbound traffic on I-16 from Savannah to Dublin will be reversed to head west starting at 8 a.m. Saturday, Deal said. The last time eastbound lanes of I-16 were reversed for westbound traffic was in early October, when Hurricane Matthew threatened coastal Georgia.

Deal, who issued an executive order banning price gouging at gas pumps and waiving transportation restrictions for drivers ferrying emergency supplies, shared the state’s emergency preparation and response efforts during a press conference Friday morning.

He authorized up to 5,000 Georgia National Guard members to be on active duty to help respond to the deadly storm.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is already deploying 2,600 employees to pass out water, tarps and other supplies.


If you are looking for lodging in Georgia, please go to , call 1-800-847-4842 or stop at a Welcome Center


Atlanta Motor Speedway in Henry County opened Thursday for people seeking temporary refuge. Evacuees will have free access to hot showers and restroom facilities, speedway officials said.

The Southern Region of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service waived fees and made all campgrounds, including the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests in Gainesville, available for individuals displaced by Irma and Harvey.

For people evacuating with animals, the Georgia Department of Agriculture has temporarily suspended Animal Interstate Movement Health Requirements for those entering Georgia from Florida.

The Georgia National Fairgrounds & Agricenter in Perry is acting as a horse evacuation site and has 350 stalls available.


South metro express lanes will remain exclusively northbound to accommodate evacuee traffic, State Road and Tollway Authority spokeswoman Jodi Scott said in a release. Fees and pass requirements will be waived starting at midnight Friday. Tractor-trailers are prohibited from using the lanes.


By signing up on Equifax’s help site, you risk giving up your legal rights

Would this protect the three Equifax senior executives, including the company’s chief financial officer, John Gamble, who sold shares worth almost $1.8 million in the days after the breach was discovered? The shares were not part of a sale planned in advance, Bloomberg reported.

By Brian Fung September 8, 2017

Worried you may be affected by Equifax's massive data breach? The credit bureau has set up a site,, that allows you to check whether your personal information was exposed. But you may want to think twice about using it, and here's why.

The website's terms of service potentially restricts your legal rights.

Sharp-eyed social media users have combed through the data breach site's fine print — and have found what they argue is a red flag. Buried in the terms of service is language that bars those who enroll in the Equifax checker program from participating in any class-action lawsuits that may arise from the incident. Here's the relevant passage of the terms of service:
[See full article for details on Equifax statement.]


This language is commonly known in the industry as an “arbitration clause.” In theory, arbitration clauses are meant to streamline the amount of work that's dumped onto the court system. But the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau concluded in the summer that arbitration clauses do more harm to consumers than good — and the agency put in place a rule to ban them.

“In practice, companies use these clauses to bar groups of consumers from joining together to seek justice by vindicating their legal right,” Richard Cordray, the CFPB’s director, told reporters in July, according to my colleague Jonnelle Marte.

For consumers affected by Equifax's breach, this is a live issue; there is already at least one class-action suit brewing against Equifax.

Despite the CFPB's move to ban arbitration clauses, the rule has not yet gone into effect, according to the agency. That won't happen until Sept. 18, the CFPB said. What's more, the rule doesn't work retroactively, meaning that the Equifax legalese would not be covered anyway. The ban only affects contracts made after March 19, 2018, six months after the rule takes effect.

The future of the ban is itself in doubt; just after the CFPB approved the rule, House lawmakers voted to repeal it. The motion to repeal must still be voted on by the Senate and signed by President Trump to become official, but if it does, then the CFPB's regulation could be nixed.


Friday morning, after social media users began complaining about the arbitration clause, Equifax updated its terms of service to give consumers an escape hatch if they do not wish to be bound by its language.

Here's how the opt-out provision reads:

In order to exclude Yourself from the arbitration provision, You must notify Equifax in writing within 30 days of the date that You first accept this Agreement on the Site (for Products purchased from Equifax on the Site). …

[You] must include Your name, address, and Equifax User ID, as well as a clear statement that You do not wish to resolve disputes with Equifax through arbitration.

This language helps address some of the concerns, but it requires consumers to remember to write to Equifax.

Meanwhile, there's something else that you should know if you do decide to use Equifax's website to check if you were affected.


You can still monitor your own credit by obtaining a copy of your credit report. Every year, you can request a free copy of your report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies. This means that you can effectively check your credit free every four months or so. You can also put a proactive freeze on your credit, which will prevent unauthorized use.