Diversity and inclusion “is not only the smart thing to do for an agency with a global mission, it’s the right thing to do for an agency that represents and defends our diverse society,” CIA director Bill Burns told the House Intelligence Committee. “Simply put, we can’t be effective and we’re not being true to our nation’s ideals if everyone looks like me, talks like me and thinks like me.”
Avril Haines, the director of national intelligence, said diversity and inclusion efforts — including attempts to boost recruitment and retention — are “essential to our mission and our values.”
Republicans on the committee hammered the efforts and claimed they are politically motivated and detrimental to US security.
Top US general hits back against 'offensive' Republican criticism and defends Pentagon diversity efforts
“We can’t counter hypersonic missile launch with better pronoun usage, and deeper understanding of Whiterage won’t rescue Americans stranded in Afghanistan,” said Rep. Devin Nunes of California, the top Republican on the committee, an attack echoing much of the culture war rhetoric those on the right have employed in recent elections.
He pointed to “trivial recruitment videos” — an apparent reference to a recent CIA recruitment video promoting diversity within its ranks — and what Nunes said were major intelligence assessments that “show an infatuation with left-wing dogma and politicized actions that have nothing to with deterring our enemies and winning wars.”
“The intelligence community’s mission is to secure information and conduct actions that help deter our enemies and when that cannot be done to help us win wars and other direct conflicts with these enemies,” Nunes said. “The IC, however, seems to be increasingly focused on issues that distract from that mission.”
Rep. Jim Himes, Democrat of Connecticut, implicitly but unambiguously criticized Nunes’rejection of diversity inclusion efforts as racist.
“Now, maybe you believe that an IC comprised of White males is the result of a perfectly meritocratic system,” Himes said, without mentioning Nunes by name. “Maybe you believe that White males have some racial or ethnic or genetic advantage over others; If you do, there’s a word for that. I don’t believe that we believe that.”

Importance of diversity to core mission

Nunes’ criticism comes despite uniform agreement from intelligence chiefs that a diverse workforce is critical to the intelligence community’s ability to carry out its core mission.
Haines and Burns, plus the senior leaders from the National Security Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency and the Pentagon’s top intelligence policy office, affirmed the centrality of diversity efforts to their core mission — a viewpoint backed up by multiple former intelligence officials who have discussed diversity efforts with CNN since the start of the Biden administration. Operations officers, in particular, note that minority officers are crucial to undercover work, as they are often able to blend in in environments where White men would stand out.
“This is not political. Not ‘woke,'” tweeted retired operations officer Marc Polymeropoulos. “Rather, diversity is our operational advantage, in the field. On the street. So it is the smart thing to do. So we can win. End of story.”
Himes and other senior Democrats on the committee — as well as the officials testifying — argued that diversity efforts are a practical necessity, as well as the right thing to do.
“I believe that if we have an insufficiently diverse IC, we are failing to tap the talent of women and African Americans and Latinos and Asian Americans, and if we fail to tap that talent, we are falling down on our duty to field the most competent, capable team that we can,” Himes said.
Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, Democrat of California, said that while progress has been made, the intelligence community still has work to do. “I remain concerned about inadequate progress in recruiting and retaining individuals of diverse backgrounds in the core IC collection and analysis missions,” he said, noting that he had observed “that the large majority of IC briefers, though uniformly excellent, who appear before the committee are White and male.”
David Halls (IMDB)

The assistant director on “Rust” who handed Alec Baldwin the gun that fired the fatal shot acknowledged to investigators that he did not check all the rounds loaded in the weapon prior to the lethal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, a detective wrote in a search warrant affidavit made public Wednesday.

Detective Alexandria Hancock described her interviews with first assistant director David Halls and armorer Hannah Reed-Gutierrez.

“David advised when Hannah showed him the firearm before continuing rehearsal, he could only remember seeing three rounds. He advised he should have checked all of them but didn’t, and couldn’t recall if she spun the drum,” the affidavit said.

An earlier affidavit stated Halls shouted “cold gun” (meaning the gun did not have a blank or a live round that contained gunpowder that could explode), before handing it to Baldwin.

Investigators added the request to search the van after interviewing several members of the movie crew, including Reed-Gutierrez, who told investigators the weapons used in filming were stored in a safe inside the van or “prop truck” to which only a few people had access and the combination.

Santa Fe Sheriff Adan Mendoza said Wednesday a suspected live round killed Hutchins and wounded director Joel Souza. Yet in the warrant, Hancock says Reed-Gutierrez told investigators, “No live ammo is ever kept on set.”

“David advised the incident was not a deliberate act,” the detective wrote of the interview with Halls.

More context: According to the affidavit, a van used to store weapons and props on the Santa Fe set of “Rust” was searched for evidence prompted by interviews from the film crew. The van was searched for firearms, ammunition, a gun safe, fingerprints, bodily fluids, and residue, the detective said.

“Hannah advised on the day of the incident, she checked the ‘dummies’ and ensured they were no ‘hot’ rounds,” the warrant states about the ammo used on set. While the firearms were secured inside the van, “ammo was left on a cart on the set, not secured,” Reed-Gutierrez told investigators.

The grey, two-tier cart also contained a western-style belt and other prop-ammunition.

Reed-Gutierrez told investigators she handed the gun to Baldwin a couple of times during the day’s filming, and also handed it to Halls.

Reid Russell, a cameraman standing next to Hutchins and Souza, also told deputies everyone seemed to be getting along, despite an earlier walkout of some crew members the previous day. He told deputies he had stepped out of the immediate area for about five minutes and was not sure whether the weapon was checked during his absence.

Souza, who sustained a gunshot wound to his shoulder in the incident, told law enforcement, “as far as he knows, no one gets checked for live ammunition on their person prior and after the scenes are being filmed.”

Halls and Reed-Gutierrez have not responded to CNN’s requests for comment.

 

Diversity and inclusion “is not only the smart thing to do for an agency with a global mission, it’s the right thing to do for an agency that represents and defends our diverse society,” CIA director Bill Burns told the House Intelligence Committee. “Simply put, we can’t be effective and we’re not being true to our nation’s ideals if everyone looks like me, talks like me and thinks like me.”
Avril Haines, the director of national intelligence, said diversity and inclusion efforts — including attempts to boost recruitment and retention — are “essential to our mission and our values.”
Republicans on the committee hammered the efforts and claimed they are politically motivated and detrimental to US security.
Top US general hits back against 'offensive' Republican criticism and defends Pentagon diversity efforts
“We can’t counter hypersonic missile launch with better pronoun usage, and deeper understanding of Whiterage won’t rescue Americans stranded in Afghanistan,” said Rep. Devin Nunes of California, the top Republican on the committee, an attack echoing much of the culture war rhetoric those on the right have employed in recent elections.
He pointed to “trivial recruitment videos” — an apparent reference to a recent CIA recruitment video promoting diversity within its ranks — and what Nunes said were major intelligence assessments that “show an infatuation with left-wing dogma and politicized actions that have nothing to with deterring our enemies and winning wars.”
“The intelligence community’s mission is to secure information and conduct actions that help deter our enemies and when that cannot be done to help us win wars and other direct conflicts with these enemies,” Nunes said. “The IC, however, seems to be increasingly focused on issues that distract from that mission.”
Rep. Jim Himes, Democrat of Connecticut, implicitly but unambiguously criticized Nunes’rejection of diversity inclusion efforts as racist.
“Now, maybe you believe that an IC comprised of White males is the result of a perfectly meritocratic system,” Himes said, without mentioning Nunes by name. “Maybe you believe that White males have some racial or ethnic or genetic advantage over others; If you do, there’s a word for that. I don’t believe that we believe that.”

Importance of diversity to core mission

Nunes’ criticism comes despite uniform agreement from intelligence chiefs that a diverse workforce is critical to the intelligence community’s ability to carry out its core mission.
Haines and Burns, plus the senior leaders from the National Security Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency and the Pentagon’s top intelligence policy office, affirmed the centrality of diversity efforts to their core mission — a viewpoint backed up by multiple former intelligence officials who have discussed diversity efforts with CNN since the start of the Biden administration. Operations officers, in particular, note that minority officers are crucial to undercover work, as they are often able to blend in in environments where White men would stand out.
“This is not political. Not ‘woke,'” tweeted retired operations officer Marc Polymeropoulos. “Rather, diversity is our operational advantage, in the field. On the street. So it is the smart thing to do. So we can win. End of story.”
Himes and other senior Democrats on the committee — as well as the officials testifying — argued that diversity efforts are a practical necessity, as well as the right thing to do.
“I believe that if we have an insufficiently diverse IC, we are failing to tap the talent of women and African Americans and Latinos and Asian Americans, and if we fail to tap that talent, we are falling down on our duty to field the most competent, capable team that we can,” Himes said.
Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, Democrat of California, said that while progress has been made, the intelligence community still has work to do. “I remain concerned about inadequate progress in recruiting and retaining individuals of diverse backgrounds in the core IC collection and analysis missions,” he said, noting that he had observed “that the large majority of IC briefers, though uniformly excellent, who appear before the committee are White and male.”
Stablecoins, as the name suggests, are intended to be stable in price. That is, they are supposed to hold roughly the same value from the day you buy one to the day you spend it or trade it in.
That’s because, unlike other cryptocurrencies, the price of most stablecoins are benchmarked to a fiat currency, such as the US dollar, or a commodity like gold, although many stablecoins today are pegged to the dollar.
So investors buy stablecoins not to make a profit but instead as a place to store money within the cryptocurrency infrastructure and to use when buying and selling other crypto assets. They also are used for other types of financial exchanges, such as lending and borrowing or sending payments overseas — for example, to family members — in a much faster, more seamless way than through other means.
“They’re a medium of exchange,” said Stephen McKeon, an associate professor of finance at the University of Oregon and a partner at a crypto-focused investment fund that he says now settles more than half its transactions using stablecoin.

How big is the stablecoin stash?

The amount of stablecoins available has grown quickly in the past year.
As of October 20, the combined supply of stablecoins from the ten biggest issuers was $127.8 billion, according to data from The Block, a provider of crypto research and analysis. That’s up from $21.6 billion just a year earlier.
The supply from the largest issuer, Tether, jumped from $16.3 billion to $72.6 billion in the same period, an increase of 345%.
The second biggest issuer, Circle, grew its supply even faster — from $2.8 billion to $32.4 billion, an increase of more than 1,000%.

What is the purpose of stablecoin?

The first stablecoin was created in 2014 to help facilitate transactions in the crypto system because at the time, banks were reluctant to give accounts to crypto companies, McKeon said.
Given the anonymity of crypto traders and the potential for money laundering, terrorist financing and tax evasion, banks weren’t keen on having such firms on their books.
“Bitcoin miners and bitcoin exchanges — everyone needed a way to use US dollars without having to use the banking system,” McKeon said.
While illicit activity is still a problem, the crypto market has grown too big for the banking industry and US regulators to ignore, and based on the surge in coins available, trust in stablecoins has been growing as well. So now banking giants and regulators have started to engage, and central banks are contemplating the possibility of creating their own digital currencies.
McKeon equates the transformation to the legal profession’s initial reluctance years ago to accept electronic signatures as legally binding.

Who regulates stablecoin and protects investors?

There is no legal federal framework yet for how to regulate stablecoins per se.
To date, regulators and states have done more to call out alleged violations by stablecoin providers under existing rules.
Yes, the IRS can tax bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. What you need to know
For example, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission asserted that for nearly four years Tether did not fully back its stablecoin with US dollars, meaning it did not have enough US dollars on hand to pay back every investor who potentially might cash out their Tether stablecoins.
“Tether failed to disclose that it included unsecured receivables and non-fiat assets in its reserves … [and it] falsely represented that it would undergo routine, professional audits to demonstrate that it maintained ‘100% reserves at all times’ even though Tether reserves were not audited,” the CFTC said.
A key concern about a company not holding adequate reserves to back up its stablecoins is that it could not meet demand if too many investors want to cash out.
Tether was ordered to pay more than $40 million in penalties to settle charges from the CFTC and from another case alleging misrepresentation brought by the state of New York.
Tether did not reply to a request for comment on the CFTC charges.
But in response to the New York case, which was settled in February with no admission of wrongdoing by the company, Tether said in a statement that “contrary to online speculation, after two and half years there was no finding that Tether ever issued Tether tokens without backing.”
Federal regulators are currently trying to draft new rules for stablecoin and better define what stablecoin is and whether it should be regulated as a security, such as an exchange traded fund.
“In policy discussions, some suggest applying ETF regulatory frameworks to certain stablecoins; others argue for more disclosure of reserve asset breakdowns to expose potential deceptive activities,” the Congressional Research Service notes in a recent report.

Know the potential risks

Many potential investors are scared to put money into crypto because it’s still largely unregulated and it’s confusing, said Erika Rasure, an assistant professor of business and finance services at Maryville University in Missouri.
Relative to other cryptocurrencies, stablecoin is likely a safer bet if your goal is to get back the money you put in. “In a positive way, it’s the gateway drug into cryptocurrency,” Rasure said.
She also sees its value as a fast, low-cost means of trading crypto assets and moving funds across borders, which may be especially helpful to people who leave their home country to work elsewhere and want to send money back to their families.
Rasure also thinks that if ever stablecoin is more widely adopted as a means of exchange, it potentially may benefit consumers and retailers alike in terms of providing choice, greater efficiency and lower fees compared to today’s traditional banking and credit card systems.
That said, because there are so many different issuers of stablecoins and they each have their own policies and offer different degrees of transparency, you have to do your own research before buying from any of them.
“It’s important that [issuers] have the cash assets on hand to keep [their] promise. It’s a transparency issue,” Rasure said.
The individuals — Justin Caporale, Tim Unes, Caroline Wren and Maggie Mulvaney — have all been engaged with the committee and were initially scheduled for depositions on Monday and Tuesday, the aide told CNN.
The four were each subpoenaed by the committee last month for their roles in the “Stop the Steal” rally and other events preceding the Capitol attack. The House panel has sought to learn more about the people affiliated with the organization Women for America First, which held the permit for the rally that preceded the Capitol riot.
January 6 committee postpones request for some records from Trump White House
Women for America First also held rallies in Freedom Plaza in November and December 2020, as well as two “March for Trump” bus tours that went nationwide seeking to generate interest in the organization’s Washington rallies. The requests show the committee has a particular interest in seeking what coordination the group may have had with the White House in its planning and as part of the larger “Stop the Steal” movement.
The committee is still poised for a big deposition day on Friday, when Jeffrey Clark, a former Justice Department official who pushed baseless election fraud claims, is set to testify. Ali Alexander, Amy Kremer and Kylie Kremer — all affiliated with the “Stop the Steal” rally — are scheduled to testify Friday as well.
Two others associated with the events, Cynthia Chafian and Nathan Martin, are set to testify on Thursday.
The House committee on Wednesday also postponed its request for dozens of pages of records from the Trump White House, even though the documents were determined by the current White House counsel to be relevant to its probe.
Two agents at the center of the investigation have yet to be interviewed, according to National Border Patrol Council President Brandon Judd, who raised concerns about the pace of the investigation. But agents who were potential witnesses were interviewed within several days of the incident, Judd said.
The incident garnered national attention last month when photos surfaced of agents on horseback swinging long reins near migrants who had crossed the border near Del Rio, Texas — where around 15,000 migrants had amassed under the Del Rio international bridge. The images drew swift condemnation from senior Biden administration officials.
Mayorkas had said he was “horrified” by the situation, and White House press secretary Jen Psaki described the viral videos as “horrific.” Vice President Kamala Harris, who has been tasked with finding solutions to address root causes of migration, also raised “grave concerns” over the images.
Psaki announced in September that the horse patrol would no longer be used in Del Rio, but CBP confirmed Wednesday that horse patrol is operating throughout the Del Rio sector where needed. A DHS official previously said that the use of horse patrol in Del Rio had been temporarily suspended.
Mayorkas at the time committed to completing the investigation in “days, not weeks.” But more than a month later, the probe continues.
ABC first reported that agents at the center of the probe hadn’t yet been questioned.
“The facts will drive the actions that we take. We ourselves will pull no punches, and we need to conduct this investigation thoroughly, but very quickly. It will be completed in days, not weeks, and I wanted to assure this committee, and you Mr. Chairman and Mr. Ranking Member of that fact,” Mayorkas told a House panel in September.
The CBP Office of Professional Responsibility is conducting the investigation and the DHS Office of Inspector General was notified, Mayorkas said, adding that the agents have been assigned to administrative duties as the investigation plays out.
DHS said in a statement that “the investigation is ongoing. The Department is committed to a thorough, independent, and objective process. We are also committed to transparency and will release the results of the investigation once it is complete.”
Judd said it was “simple to see why” the investigation should be completed within days, not weeks, because of the limited scope of the incident and availability of video and images.
“You box the investigators into a corner,” Judd said, pointing to President Joe Biden’s early promise of consequences.
Asked about the incident last month, Biden said, “I promise you: those people will pay.”
Jon Anfinsen, National Border Patrol Council local president in Del Rio, Texas, told CNN that the investigation is taking a toll on agents in the region as they see their colleagues taken off patrol.
“They believe agency leadership doesn’t support them, and the longer this drags on, the worse it gets,” he said of the response from other agents to the investigation.
Jill Filipovic
I joined Facebook in 2004, when it was open only to students at a handful of colleges. Its purpose was as straightforward as it was self-absorbed: to share cute photos of yourself, and see cute photos of your classmates.
Facebook rapidly became much more than that. People “friended” family members, old classmates, long-lost loves. I’m still “friends” with people I met years ago while traveling; I scroll through my list of Facebook friends and don’t recognize half of them, sometimes because our lives intersected only briefly, or because they are women with new married names, their old identities abandoned.
I don’t use Facebook much anymore (although, like many of my millennial peers, I scroll through Facebook-owned Instagram almost daily). Facebook is hemorrhaging younger users, according to an internal memo cited in a report in the Verge, one in a consortium of news organizations (including CNN) currently sifting through a trove of Facebook’s documents provided to Congress in redacted form by legal counsel for former Facebook employee Frances Haugen.
Young people are flocking to TikTok, and this loss of youthful users seems to be making company leaders nervous despite Facebook’s billions of dollars in profit every month.
No social media platform is without problems, but Facebook, the largest in the world, merits extra scrutiny. Some 2.8 billion people use it at least every month, according to the company.
A question we should be asking ourselves is why we feel the need to be connected with hundreds or even thousands of people we don’t know well or at all. There might be good reasons here: There’s a Facebook group for just about everything, which can create a sense of community and connection for people who live through rare life events or have esoteric interests. Kidney donors and young widows and parents of children who identify as “furries” and so on can share information and gain support.
People who share a particular affinity, identity or political view can connect in solidarity or for advocacy. Owners of vegan cats have a group home on Facebook, as do adherents of atheist dialectical materialist revolutionary Trotskyist communism.
But those seemingly limitless opportunities for connection and information come with troubling, sometimes disastrous side effects. If Facebook is where you get your news and information, for example, you are being led down an algorithmic path that rewards extremism and partisanship, not accuracy.
It's time for social networks to take a close look in the mirrorIt's time for social networks to take a close look in the mirror
If Facebook is primarily how you socialize, connect and interact with other people, that can have real mental health effects, including loneliness, anxiety and depression; interacting from behind a screen can worsen social skills and decrease empathy, which weakens friendships instead of strengthening them, and too much time online can detract from relationship-building in the real world.
If Facebook is where you have political and other discussions, it may hurt more than it helps, given how the platform promotes moral outrage, as whistleblower Haugen has said, citing Facebook’s own research, and how people may be more inclined toward simplistic and dehumanizing interactions when those interactions are mediated through a screen.
If Facebook is how you peer into the lives of people you only tangentially know, you’re getting a distorted, manipulated-to-look-better view of them — and that could make you feel pretty low.
(In a statement during Monday’s quarterly earning’s call, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg addressed the current wave of criticism around the news reports: “Good faith criticism helps us get better, but my view is that we are seeing a coordinated effort to selectively use leaked documents to paint a false picture of our company,” he said. “The reality is that we have an open culture that encourages discussion and research on our work so we can make progress on many complex issues that are not specific just to us.”)
It’s not inherently bad to use social media. But each of us should understand the costs and the benefits and make decisions about how we spend our time with as much intention as possible– admittedly a difficult thing to do when the brightest minds of my generation have been hard at work trying to keep all of us on their platforms for as much time as possible.
The ills wrought by Facebook, and those we haven’t yet uncovered about so many other social media platforms, aren’t fixable by individual choices alone. These companies, Facebook in particular, have enormous power over what we see, what’s hidden from view, and how we communicate. All of that shapes how each of us views the world and what we believe — and even how we behave.
With stakes that high, the lack of transparency and oversight is unconscionable and dangerous. These companies need to face reasonable regulation to keep them from driving and magnifying some of our worst human impulses.
If one thing is clear, though, it’s that there is no silver bullet fix to the disasters social media companies have wrought — there’s no perfect set of individual decisions, and there’s not a potential regulatory policy that is without its own pitfalls.
Perhaps the scariest fact in all of this is that we still don’t know the scope of the harm caused by moving so much of our lives online, particularly to young people who have never known a world in which it was otherwise.
It is easy to convince ourselves that these extremely powerful companies are not actually shaping our opinions and experiences. It is easier still to be entertained into inertness. At the very least, the public deserves a clear understanding of how these products work — including how they work us.
The plaintiffs, who include town residents and counterprotesters injured in two days of clashes, contend the organizers of the rally engaged in a conspiracy. The 9 individuals are seeking “compensatory and statutory” damages for physical and emotional injuries they suffered.
The twelve jurors were selected after being grilled with questions over three days.
Charlottesville civil trial will explore where free speech becomes conspiracy to commit violence
Judge Norman Moon asked probing questions to jurors that tried to expose their feelings about racism, the Black Lives Matter movement, Antifa, White nationalism and that tried especially to determine if they had already decided who was responsible for the violence that took place.
Attorneys for both sides sent questions to Moon to help weed out potential jurors. Moon dismissed many potential jurors who couldn’t get out of work, ran their own businesses, and couldn’t be replaced, or had physical hardships, like recovering from Covid-19.
Jurors to decide whether Charlottesville Unite the Right rally organizers prepared for a violent showdown from the startJurors to decide whether Charlottesville Unite the Right rally organizers prepared for a violent showdown from the start
And those dismissals were in addition to anyone Moon felt was too biased to sit on the jury, an issue that came up repeatedly during selection.
“It took a little longer than expected, but that’s all right,” said Moon of the jury as he dismissed the court for the day.
With the jury now in place, opening statements are slated to start Thursday morning at 9 a.m., according to Moon.

Land Rover is unveiling what will be the first new, redesigned Range Rover in a decade. It’s due to go into production next year as only the fifth generation of the large off-road luxury SUV since the model line was introduced in 1970.