Trump Decides To Keep Troops In Afghanistan 

By: Jeremy B White of The Independent 

Donald Trump vowed to maintain America’s military commitment in Afghanistan, sustaining America’s longest war and reversing his previously staunch resistance to the US engagement there.

In his first first nationally-televised prime-time address since January, the President laid out a vision short on concrete details, but strong on rhetoric – saying that US troops “will fight to win” in Afghanistan, as well as putting pressure on Pakistan to crack down on terrorist sanctuaries near its borders and calling for further help from India.  

While multiple reports earlier in the day that Mr Trump was ready to commit as many as 4,000 more troops to the country, the President pointedly declined to state specific details about troop totals. But he made it clear that he planned to keep troops in Afghanistan as a bulwark against violence, even as he said “the American people are weary of war without victory”.

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Hackers Target Phone Numbers To Steal Identity 

By: Nathaniel Popper

Hackers have discovered that one of the most central elements of online security — the mobile phone number — is also one of the easiest to steal.

In a growing number of online attacks, hackers have been calling up Verizon, T-Mobile U.S., Sprint and AT&T and asking them to transfer control of a victim’s phone number to a device under the control of the hackers.

Once they get control of the phone number, they can reset the passwords on every account that uses the phone number as a security backup — as services like Google, Twitter and Facebook suggest.

“My iPad restarted, my phone restarted and my computer restarted, and that’s when I got the cold sweat and was like, ‘O.K., this is really serious,’” said Chris Burniske, a virtual currency investor who lost control of his phone number late last year.

A wide array of people have complained about being successfully targeted by this sort of attack, including a Black Lives Matter activist and the chief technologist of the Federal Trade Commission. The commission’s own data shows that the number of so-called phone hijackings has been rising. In January 2013, there were 1,038 such incidents reported; by January 2016, that number had increased to 2,658.

But a particularly concentrated wave of attacks has hit those with the most obviously valuable online accounts: virtual currency fanatics like Mr. Burniske.

Within minutes of getting control of Mr. Burniske’s phone, his attackers had changed the password on his virtual currency wallet and drained the contents — some $150,000 at today’s values.

Most victims of these attacks in the virtual currency community have not wanted to acknowledge it publicly for fear of provoking their adversaries. But in interviews, dozens of prominent people in the industry acknowledged that they had been victimized in recent months.

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Once In A Liferime Solar Eclipse 

By: Ashley Strickland of CNN 

The first glimpses of the first total solar eclipse to cross the United States from coast to coast in 99 years began in Oregon, with totality just after 1 p.m. ET. What started as a tiny crescent of the moon’s shadow turned into a perfectly beautiful eclipse in city after city. It ended in South Carolina about 3 p.m. ET.

A partial solar eclipse was visible until just after 4 p.m. in the Southeast. The next solar eclipse over the United States will occur in April 2024.

During totality in many cities, it looked like nighttime, with stars appearing in the sky and the temperature dropping. Crickets could be heard chirping in Jefferson City, Missouri.

Little crescents were visible on the ground and reflecting off car windshields and skyscraper windows. Particularly popular on social media were crescents showing up in the shade of trees. The spaces between the leaves acted as pinholes. The light that came through the many pinholes showed up as individual crescents.

The view from 35,000 feet — for those with the appropriate glasses — was stunning.

NASA was all about the eclipse and having a bit of fun with it, tweeting a joke about the moon blocking the sun — on social media.

“HA HA HA I’ve blocked the Sun! Make way for the Moon,” said the official NASA Moon account, which blocked the NASA Sun’s account.

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Catholic Church Refuses To Pay Victims Of Child Sex Abuse

By: Fiona Keating of The Independent 

The Catholic Church and British local authorities have been accused of using a legal loophole to avoid paying compensation to victims of child sex abuse.

The Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme, a government agency, has denied some children financial settlements because it said the victims had “consented” to the abuse, a group of charities has warned.

Lawyers representing victims have warned that this line of defence is becoming increasingly common.
One case that the charity Victim Support brought attention to involved a 12-year-old girl who was given alcohol, brought into woodland and then sexually assaulted by a 21-year-old male. The girl was denied compensation because she had “voluntarily” gone into the woods with the man.

“No child ever gives their ‘consent’ to being abused, and the increased use of this line of defence, although still quite rare, is worrying,” said Anne Longfield, the Children’s Commissioner for England. “I have contacted the Ministry of Justice previously and again recently about this issue and the Government should look urgently at what can be done to tackle it.”

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Terrorist Attack In Spain

By: Laura Smith-Spark of CNN

At least 13 people were killed and more than 50 injured after a van rammed through crowds of people in the heart of Barcelona Thursday in what police described as a terror attack.

Eyewitnesses reported scenes of panic and chaos as the van plowed through crowds in the renowned Las Ramblas avenue, which was teeming at the time with locals and tourists.

One person has been arrested, Catalan police said. Police are treating the incident as a terror attack and have sealed off the area.

“We can confirm 13 dead and more than 50 injured,” Joaquim Forn, the Catalan interior minister, told a news conference.

City officials ordered all public events to be canceled, while emergency services requested the closure of metro and train stations in the area.

Reports of the attack first emerged on social media at about 5 p.m. local time (11 a.m. ET). About two hours later, police confirmed that Spain had suffered a deadly attack.

It was the latest in a series of attacks in Europe in which vehicles have been used to mow down pedestrians in public spaces.

Catalan police said they were continuing to hunt for the perpetrators and that the force had activated its terror response protocols. Unconfirmed reports suggested the suspects may have been attempting to reach a getaway vehicle.

Local Spanish media earlier reported that two armed men had entered a restaurant. But Catalan police dismissed rumors that the attacker had been holed up near Las Ramblas and said there “was never a hostage situation.”

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South Korean President Vows To Prevent War At All Costs 

By: Peter Pae of Bloomberg 

South Korean President Moon Jae-in said that any military action against Kim Jong Un’s regime requires his nation’s approval, and vowed to prevent war at all costs.

“There will be no war repeated on the Korean Peninsula,” Moon said in a speech on Tuesday marking the anniversary of the end of Japanese occupation in the 1940s. Military action against North Korea should be decided by “ourselves and not by anyone else,” he said.

While Moon said that South Korea would work with the U.S. to counter security threats, he emphasized the need to focus on diplomatic efforts. Sanctions were designed to bring North Korea to the negotiating table over its nuclear and missile weapons programs, he said.

The comments from a key U.S. ally contrast with the threats of war coming from President Donald Trump, who vowed to unleash “fire and fury” on Pyongyang if Kim persists with advancements in his arsenal, particularly intercontinental ballistic missiles. Trump’s rhetoric has raised concerns that a miscalculation — or unilateral action by the U.S. — could spark a military conflict that risks devastating North Korea’s neighbors.

The diminishing prospects of war have helped equities to rally. Stock indexes from Tokyo to Hong Kong to Sydney climbed on Tuesday after the S&P 500 Index surged 1 percent, while havens such as gold, Treasuries and the yen retreated.

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The Science Of Being Nice 

By:  Kun Zhao and Luke Smillie of The Conversation 

Originally a term for “foolish”, its meaning over the centuries has morphed from “wanton” to “reserved” to “fastidious”. These days, it has become a somewhat bland and opaque description of personality: “she’s really nice.”

But its common usage hints at the characteristics that matter deeply to us.

Personality psychology can help unsnarl some of these fuzzy concepts. Recent research suggests that our tendency to be “nice” can be separated into two related but distinct personality traits: politeness and compassion.

We see these differences play out in social decision making, where politeness is linked to being fair and compassion to helping others.

A tale of two traits

Decades of research have shown that personality traits describing how well we treat others are often observed together. These are summarised by the term agreeableness, one of five broad dimensions capturing the majority of human personality.

Some of our most valued qualities — kindness, integrity, empathy, modesty, patience, and trustworthiness — are nestled within this dimension. They are instilled in us at an early age and reflect important standards through which we judge others and ourselves.

But are there exceptions to this cluster of “nice” personality traits? What about your big-hearted but foul-mouthed friend, or a well-mannered but distant acquaintance?

It turns out that agreeableness can be meaningfully divided into two narrower traits. Politeness refers to our tendency to be respectful of others versus being aggressive. It’s about good manners and adhering to societal rules and norms — what we’d see in upstanding, decent folks, or “good citizens”, if you will. In contrast, compassion refers to our tendency to be emotionally concerned about others versus being cold-hearted — what we’d see in the proverbial “good Samaritan”.

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Driver Who Plowed In To Protestors Saturday Afternoon in Virginia Is Denied Bail

Compliments of The BBC

James Alex Fields was denied bail as he was arraigned for second-degree murder, three counts of malicious wounding and one count of hit and run.

Heather Heyer, 32, died and 19 were injured when a car hit demonstrators in Charlottesville on Saturday.

Mr Fields is said to have harboured Nazi sympathies.

President Donald Trump has been criticised for not specifically denouncing the far-right elements in the weekend’s march.

But the White House has defended his remarks as explicitly condemning the white supremacy groups involved.

Ken Frazier, CEO of drugs giant Merck, announced on Monday he would resign from the president’s American Manufacturing Council over Mr Trump’s response to Charlottesville.

Mr Frazier, who is African American, tweeted he had “a responsibility to take a stand against intolerance and extremism”.

James Alex Fields looked nervous and listless on the small monitor in the corner of the courtroom. Mostly he kept his head down, his eyes darting occasionally up towards the camera.

He was wearing a striped jumpsuit and had the neat, buzzcut hairstyle favoured by many white supremacists and neo-nazis who have united under the banner of the so-called “alt-right”.

Judge Robert Downer read his charges – one count of murder, one count of hit and run, three counts of malicious wounding.

Alex Fields spoke briefly to say he was employed by Securitas and Omni Ohio, could not afford a lawyer, and had no ties to Charlottesville. Judge Robert Downer denied him bail, and revealed he could not be appointed a public defender because someone in the public defender’s office was directly affected by the crime.

His appointed lawyer, Charles Webster, named in court by the judge, had yet to be contacted to inform him of his latest client.

In 10 minutes it was over. Outside the court, known white nationalist Matthew Heimbach was shouting that the death of Heather Heyer was the fault of the police.

“Nazis go home,” the crowd chanted back at him. “I think I like it in Charlottesville,” he said. “I think I’ll stay.”

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Pretending To Be Happy When You Are Sad May Not Be As Beneficial As We Thought 

Compliments of UC Berkeley 

Pressure to feel upbeat can make you feel downbeat, while embracing your darker moods can actually make you feel better in the long run, according to new UC Berkeley research.

“We found that people who habitually accept their negative emotions experience fewer negative emotions, which adds up to better psychological health,” said study senior author Iris Mauss, an associate professor of psychology at UC Berkeley.

At this point, researchers can only speculate on why accepting your joyless emotions can defuse them, like dark clouds passing swiftly in front of the sun and out of sight.

“Maybe if you have an accepting attitude toward negative emotions, you’re not giving them as much attention,” Mauss said. “And perhaps, if you’re constantly judging your emotions, the negativity can pile up.”

The study, conducted at UC Berkeley and published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, tested the link between emotional acceptance and psychological health in more than 1,300 adults in the San Francisco Bay Area and the Denver, Co., metropolitan area.

The results suggest that people who commonly resist acknowledging their darkest emotions, or judge them harshly, can end up feeling more psychologically stressed.

By contrast, those who generally allow such bleak feelings as sadness, disappointment and resentment to run their course reported fewer mood disorder symptoms than those who critique them or push them away, even after six months.

“It turns out that how we approach our own negative emotional reactions is really important for our overall well-being,” said study lead author Brett Ford, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Toronto. “People who accept these emotions without judging or trying to change them are able to cope with their stress more successfully.”

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A 1%er For The People

Compliments of Change.org, Nick Hanauer petition 

My name is Nick Hanauer and I’m filthy rich. I’m not a 1%’er. I’m a 0.001%’er. If you read the business section of the paper, you’ve probably seen my name: I was one of the first investors in Amazon.com. I’ve sold other companies for billions of dollars, and now my friends and I own a bank. I’m a proud and unapologetic capitalist.
So you might be surprised to learn that I’m starting a petition to say that it would be criminally stupid for Congress to give rich guys like me another tax cut. 
In fact, I believe that not one penny in tax cuts should go to millionaires, billionaires and wealthy corporations. Everyone knows that the biggest lie in economics is that tax cuts for the rich create growth and jobs. When Republicans talk about tax reform, they’re really talking about trickle down nonsense. The truth is, taxes on the rich don’t need to be “reformed”—they need to be raised, because it’s investments in the middle class that make our economy grow.  
Our democracy and our economy are being ripped apart by growing inequality. Tax cuts for the rich masquerading as reform will only make it worse. I need you to help me fight for a tax code that puts working families back at the center of the economy. Another round of tax breaks for people like me will undermine our commitment to what really makes our country stronger—Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, public education, investments in infrastructure and R&D, and more—and make it impossible for the middle class to fulfill their function as the true job creators. 
Join me and pledge to oppose any effort to cut taxes for the wealthy and well-connected. Not one penny in tax cuts should go to millionaires, billionaires and wealthy corporations.

Link To Petition 

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Ascending Consciousness

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