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Westlake Legal Group > News Media (Page 66)

Lara Trump denies mocking Joe Biden’s stutter: ‘Yet another example of … egregious reporting’

Westlake Legal Group laratrump Lara Trump denies mocking Joe Biden's stutter: 'Yet another example of ... egregious reporting' fox-news/politics/elections/campaigning/trump-2020-campaign fox-news/person/joe-biden fox-news/media fox news fnc/politics fnc Brie Stimson article 04bd5368-a8bb-5183-bb24-ab7f3de50a76

Lara Trump, President Trump’s daughter-in-law and a Trump 2020 campaign adviser, fired back at a tabloid report Friday that claimed she mocked former Vice President Joe Biden’s stutter while at a campaign event in Iowa.

“Yet another example of the egregious reporting we see every day in the mainstream media,” the 37-year-old, who is married to the president’s son Eric, tweeted, linking to the Daily Mail’s story. “Anyone who takes 10 seconds to watch what I actually said can clearly see that I never mention a stutter — didn’t even know he had one — but they can’t help themselves.”

LARA TRUMP LASHES OUT AFTER CNN ACCUSES HER OF ‘LYING’ ABOUT RALLY CROWD’S ‘SEND HER BACK!’ CHANT

While at a Women for Trump event Friday, she told the audience she feels “kind of sad for Joe Biden.”

“I’m supposed to want him to fail at every turn, but every time he comes on stage or they turn to him, I’m like, ‘Joe, can you get it out? Let’s get the words out, Joe!’” she said. “You Kind of feel bad for him. The problem is that’s their front-runner, guys!”

After Vox reporter Aaron Rupar posted a video of the moment, also tweeting that she was “mocking” Biden’s stutter, Tim Murtaugh, communications director for the president’s reelection campaign, defended her.

“Not what Lara said and Rupar knows it,” he tweeted. “Biden was a terrible candidate the first 2 times he ran for president & he’s no better this time. He doesn’t know what state he’s in half the time & thinks Thatcher is still British PM. Nothing to do w/speech impediment. Just bad candidate.”

Biden has been public about his life-long struggle with stuttering. He sometimes stumbles over his words and discussed the problem at the December debate.

While talking about the campaign trail on the debate stage, Biden imitated a child he met with a stutter saying to him, “I can’t talk.”

Former White House press secretary Sarah Sanders later wrote in a since-deleted tweet, “I I I I I I I I I I I I I I I hhhave absolutely no idea what Biden is talking about,” referring to the debate moment. She followed it with another tweet, clarifying she was not mocking people with speech impediments.

Biden responded, “I’ve worked my whole life to overcome a stutter. And it’s my great honor to mentor kids who have experienced the same. It’s called empathy. Look it up.”

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Sanders replied, “I actually didn’t know that about you and that is commendable. I apologize and should have made my point respectfully.”

Westlake Legal Group laratrump Lara Trump denies mocking Joe Biden's stutter: 'Yet another example of ... egregious reporting' fox-news/politics/elections/campaigning/trump-2020-campaign fox-news/person/joe-biden fox-news/media fox news fnc/politics fnc Brie Stimson article 04bd5368-a8bb-5183-bb24-ab7f3de50a76   Westlake Legal Group laratrump Lara Trump denies mocking Joe Biden's stutter: 'Yet another example of ... egregious reporting' fox-news/politics/elections/campaigning/trump-2020-campaign fox-news/person/joe-biden fox-news/media fox news fnc/politics fnc Brie Stimson article 04bd5368-a8bb-5183-bb24-ab7f3de50a76

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Bernie Sanders Called The Democratic Party ‘Intellectually Bankrupt’ In 1985 Letter

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) once told a fellow left-wing activist that the Democratic Party was too “intellectually bankrupt” to allow the progressive movement to flourish within it.

In a 1985 letter newly obtained by HuffPost in which Sanders debated running for governor, he wrote: “Whether I run for governor or not is really not important. What would be a tragedy, however, is for people with a radical vision to fall into the pathetic camp of the intellectually bankrupt Democratic Party.”

Times have changed.

Sanders, who has served as an independent in Congress — first in the House and now in the Senate — since 1991, is now among the leading Democratic candidates for president, second behind former Vice President Joe Biden in national polls, and tied for first in Iowa. He’s raised more money than any other candidate in the Democratic primary, with more individual contributions. His platform — which includes “Medicare for All,” tuition-free college, and wealth redistribution through aggressive taxes on the richest Americans — defines the party’s progressive wing.

He has taken the Democratic Party’s loyalty pledge and repeatedly promised to support whoever becomes the party nominee to defeat President Donald Trump. But that hasn’t been enough for many of his critics in the party’s establishment, who are likely to point to the letter as evidence he doesn’t play nice with the party.

At the start of his career in politics, Sanders viewed the Democratic Party as hopeless. By 1985, he had already made several failed bids for elected office in Vermont as a member of the progressive Liberty Union party. He finally succeeded in 1981, becoming mayor of Burlington, the state’s largest city, and toppling a five-term Democratic mayor.

“At the beginning, the Democrats were very angry with him,” Jane Sanders, Sanders’ wife, said in an interview with HuffPost. Burlington’s Board of Aldermen — a part-time, 13-seat city council — resisted Sanders’ efforts. “They wouldn’t let him appoint any of the mayoral appointments. They stopped him from hiring the city attorney, city clerk, city treasure … [The Democrats] were outright enemies in the beginning.”

Sanders never won full control of city government, but he organized enough voters to elect some allies onto the board and win veto power. He soon became popular enough to win reelection by a 20-point margin.

The Sept. 5, 1985 letter ― which has not previously been reported on ― came as Sanders was considering a run for governor, and left-wing activists in the state and around the country were debating whether he should mount an independent bid or launch a primary challenge to the state’s Democratic governor, Madeleine Kunin.

Westlake Legal Group 5e21f24e24000033006c4457 Bernie Sanders Called The Democratic Party ‘Intellectually Bankrupt’ In 1985 Letter

Obtained by HuffPost A Sept. 5, 1985, letter from then-Burlington, Vermont, Mayor Bernie Sanders to Marty Jezer, a progressive activist.

Sanders’ three-paragraph missive was addressed to Marty Jezer, an author and progressive activist in the state. Then-Mayor Sanders was writing in response to an August letter from Jezer in which he apologized that a memo he wrote to Sanders had leaked to the press. While the exact contents of the memo are unclear, Jezer’s letter indicates that it encouraged Sanders to run for Congress instead of challenging Kunin.

“1986 is the wrong time for such a race,” Jezer, who died in 2005, wrote. “I hope you will listen to the voices of the committed activists around the state. We sink or swim with this together.”

Sanders ultimately reached a different conclusion: He ran against Kunin as an independent. But the decision was not without dissent. An editorial from the socialist magazine In These Times criticized Sanders for dividing the left.

“In choosing to create a three-way race, Sanders is dividing the left and making more likely the defeat of an incumbent liberal woman governor by a more conservative Republican,” In These Times wrote. (At the time, Kunin was one of only two female governors in the country.)

The editorial prompted Sanders to reply: “I believe that the real changes that are needed in this country … are not going to be brought about by working within the Democratic Party or the Republican Party.”

Kunin eventually won reelection with 47% of the vote. Republican Peter Smith finished second, earning 38% of the vote, while Sanders finished third with just 14%.

The Vermont senator’s critiques of the Democratic Party are well documented, as CNN reported last July. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, he was adamant that a progressive movement could not be built within the party and was highly critical of the moderate “New Democrats” who argued that the party’s progressivism in the 1960s, 1970s and early 1980s had alienated voters.

“I think that nationally, the party has on issue after issue sold out so many times that if you go before the people and say, ‘Hey, I’m a Democrat,’ you don’t usually generate a lot of enthusiasm,” Sanders said in 1991 about the idea of a progressive trying to work within the party.

Commenting on civil rights activist Jesse Jackson’s Democratic presidential runs in the 1980s, Sanders said he did not agree with Jackson’s decision to work “within the Democratic Party.” (Sanders endorsed Jackson’s candidacy.) His skepticism of the party continued in subsequent decades. In 2011, he said Democrats could be called “Republican-lite” for considering cuts to Social Security and Medicare in order to lessen the deficit. And his first presidential campaign in 2016 didn’t shy away from blasting the party apparatus.

Sanders’ willingness to criticize the Democratic Party speaks to the progressive bona fides highlighted by his supporters. His campaign often relies on decades-old videos of Sanders warning against the Iraq war, multinational trade deals and the climate crisis using the same rhetoric he still uses today.

But the senator’s view of the party — and the role of progressive politics within it — has evolved. He’s since refined his critiques to focus on the “corporate wing of the Democratic Party,” which is comprised of the same centrists, including organizations like Third Way, that pushed the party to the right during the 1980s and ’90s.

Jane Sanders, who did not recall the exact circumstances of her husband’s letter to Jezer, said this shift came about when he was elected to the House as an independent. He knew that if Democrats didn’t let him into their caucus, he wouldn’t be assigned to any committees and would be left out of the process altogether.

“He believed that the two-party system was bankrupt, but as he was put in a position by the people of Vermont to effect real change, he had to consider, how do you effect real change?” Jane Sanders said. “His concern isn’t party politics.”

By 2015, when he launched his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, Sanders had fully changed his mind about the ability for progressive politics to flourish within the party. 

“The decision that I made, as the longest-serving independent in the history of the United States Congress, I said, ‘If we are going to win this race, we have to do it within the Democratic primary process,’” Sanders said in a 2016 interview with NBC’s Chuck Todd. He decided to not run as an independent because he didn’t want to be a “spoiler” in the presidential race.

“Bernie fights when he has to fight,” Jane Sanders said. “Bernie’s interest is getting things he wants done, done. He found that he had to fight effectively against the Democratic Party at the beginning as mayor. But over time, by organizing, he learned he can change the Democratic Party.”

Sanders’ relationship with the party has notably softened since that first presidential run. He served on the Senate Democrats’ leadership team and his 2016 campaign managed to push the Democratic National Committee to change rules around “superdelegates,” lessening the power of party insiders in the nominating process.

That hasn’t been enough for many of his critics, who accuse him of only half-heartedly campaigning for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2016 after dragging out the primary, and question whether he would be willing to support down-ballot Democratic candidates who don’t share his progressive ideology. 

Jane Sanders said she hadn’t spoken with her husband about how he would engage in party politics should he be elected president. But she was explicit about how he approaches it currently.

“If you organize, the people will elect new people,” Jane Sanders said, citing those like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), who famously ousted a top-ranking House Democrat in the 2018 midterm elections. “You will see Bernie supporting and raising money for the best of the Democrats. You will not see him doing that for others.”

But former Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin, a Democrat who has endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden in the 2020 nominating contest, said he was skeptical that Sanders could keep the party together during an election against Trump.

“The notion that [Sanders] would lead the national Democratic Party would be repugnant to both Democrats and to Bernie Sanders, because he’s not a Democrat,” Shumlin told HuffPost in a phone interview. “He’d be the first one to tell you that.”

That the party’s policy debates have only now caught up to him was Sanders’ opening pitch to voters when he announced in early 2019 that he would run for president again.

“Over the last two years — and before — you and I and millions of Americans have stood up and fought for justice in every part of our society, and we’ve had some successes,” Sanders said when launching his 2020 bid.

As one of the top contenders going into the Iowa caucuses in early February, Sanders now clearly believes that he can bring about a progressive revolution within the Democratic Party — one that he’s worked to change.

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Greg Laurie: Trump strengthens religious freedom with executive order – We need more prayer in America

Westlake Legal Group 854081161001_6123021946001_6123023639001-vs Greg Laurie: Trump strengthens religious freedom with executive order – We need more prayer in America Greg Laurie fox-news/world/religion fox-news/us/religion/first-amendment fox-news/us/religion/christianity fox-news/opinion fox news fnc/opinion fnc article 8eaa80a6-8fc6-5895-b234-0e97ec1a9704

President Trump’s signing of an executive order Thursday that allows students to pray in public schools is good news that should be welcomed by all Americans – whether or not they believe in God and the power of prayer.

As a pastor, I have a suspicion that the historic ruling of the Supreme Court in 1962 to remove prayer from our schools may have contributed to the litany of social ills that have plagued America since.

These ills include the breakdown of the family, the rise in violent crime, the opioid epidemic, the rising suicide rates and the general hopelessness that pervades our younger generations. The list goes on and on.

JIM DALY: TRUMP UPHOLDS RELIGIOUS FREEDOM WITH NEW EXECUTIVE ORDER, BENEFITING ALL AMERICANS

Before the Supreme Court ruling – in the days when prayer was allowed – some teachers offered their own prayers in school, while others read the Lord’s Prayer or recited the well-known Psalm 23.

New York students prayed each day: “Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence on Thee and beg Thy blessing over us, our parents, our teachers, and our nation.” A benign prayer, perhaps, but it still underscored our belief in God’s providence and sovereignty.

Do we not in the Pledge of Allegiance still say: “One nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all”?

The fact of the matter is that, despite many efforts to remove prayer from our schools and the public square, we cannot remove prayer from the history of the United States.

In 1789, President George Washington made this public proclamation:

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“Whereas, it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor – and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me ‘to recommend to the people of the United States a Day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God’ … I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being.”

The result of that proclamation was the creation of an event we celebrated a couple of months ago called Thanksgiving. Yet what I find just as remarkable is that the proclamation was ratified by both houses of Congress.

Today our houses are divided like never before, especially with the impeachment proceedings against President Trump. Ironically, the one thing members of both parties in Congress still agree on is to begin their sessions in the House and Senate with an opening prayer.

Can you imagine if they came together and prayed for the future of America? I believe God would hear that prayer and we could have a much-needed healing in America.

Such a prayer wouldn’t be out of character for America.

For one, our Founding Fathers assumed the majority of Americans believed in Jesus, but those who didn’t weren’t treated any differently. This is because our nation was forged out of religious freedom.

And just as America had great Founding Fathers – such as George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin – we also had a spiritual Founding Father: a man named George Whitefield.

Whitefield was an evangelist from England who preached the gospel to the colonists. Historians believe that by the time his ministry was completed, 80 percent of the colonists had heard him.

Whitefield’s ministry sparked a spiritual awakening across the 13 colonies. Untold thousands believed, and it was in the soil of virtue and morality that the seeds of liberty could be planted.

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Patrick Henry, another Founding Father, is believed to have once remarked: “It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. For this very reason peoples of other faiths have been afforded asylum, prosperity, and freedom of worship here.”

Sadly, it is the lack of this virtue and morality that is the root of so many of our current problems.

We need more prayer in America today, and not just in our schools, but in our courts, culture and in our personal lives overall. More than 50 percent of Americans pray and believe that God hears and answers those prayers. However, a recent survey revealed that Americans who believe in God or prayer hit an all-time low in 2014.

My hope is that we will remember America was a nation born out of prayer.

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The Lord makes a remarkable promise to us if we will pray: “Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.” (Jeremiah 33:3 NKJV)

Whatever we are facing individually or as a nation, we can rest assured that God hears and answers prayers, even today.

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Westlake Legal Group 854081161001_6123021946001_6123023639001-vs Greg Laurie: Trump strengthens religious freedom with executive order – We need more prayer in America Greg Laurie fox-news/world/religion fox-news/us/religion/first-amendment fox-news/us/religion/christianity fox-news/opinion fox news fnc/opinion fnc article 8eaa80a6-8fc6-5895-b234-0e97ec1a9704   Westlake Legal Group 854081161001_6123021946001_6123023639001-vs Greg Laurie: Trump strengthens religious freedom with executive order – We need more prayer in America Greg Laurie fox-news/world/religion fox-news/us/religion/first-amendment fox-news/us/religion/christianity fox-news/opinion fox news fnc/opinion fnc article 8eaa80a6-8fc6-5895-b234-0e97ec1a9704

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Virginia city official brings AR-15-style rifle to council meeting – triggering some colleagues

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6122379763001_6122383499001-vs Virginia city official brings AR-15-style rifle to council meeting – triggering some colleagues fox-news/us/us-regions/southeast/virginia fox-news/us/personal-freedoms/second-amendment fox-news/politics/state-and-local fox news fnc/politics fnc Dom Calicchio bdbc857b-0fb2-5d2d-a887-1add8e241e23 article

A city official in Virginia showed support for the Second Amendment earlier this week by bringing an AR-15-style semiautomatic rifle to a city council meeting.

The move by Portsmouth Councilman Nathan Clark came as the council was to consider making the city a “Second Amendment Constitutional City” – placing it in symbolic opposition to gun-control efforts underway in the newly Democrat-controlled state Assembly.

The proposal, debated before a capacity audience in the council chambers, passed 4-3, according to the Virginian-Pilot of Norfolk.

TRUMP SAYS SECOND AMENDMENT IS ‘UNDER VERY SERIOUS ATTACK’ IN VIRGINIA AHEAD OF GUN-RIGHTS RALLY

Clark’s gesture also came as the state prepares for a controversial gun-rights rally scheduled for Monday in Richmond, the state capital.

But he apparently angered at least two members of the council in Portsmouth, an Atlantic coast city about 97 miles from Richmond.

The council critics said Clark should have told them in advance that he planned to bring the weapon – and one of them asked Clark to apologize for not doing so.

“It was a disgrace, disheartening and an embarrassment,” Vice Mayor Lisa Lucas-Burke wrote to the council Thursday, according to the newspaper. “Most of us were blindsided by the display.” Lucas-Burke was among three council members who voted against the “Constitutional City” designation. The others were Councilman Shannon Glover and Mayor John Rowe. Glover had complained of being blindsided by Clark’s gesture, the report said.

Another critic was Fred Guttenberg, father of one of the victims of the Parkland, Fla., high school shooting in February 2018, who accused Clark of “open intimidation” and called on him to resign.

Clark told Norfolk’s WTKR-TV that he was looking to make a point about gun rights.

“I had a lot of people come and talk to me after it,” Clark told the station. “No one appeared intimidated. There [were] police officers that were there. They were aware that I had it.”

Others on the council were supportive of Clark’s stand.

“I do not believe that Council(man) Clark needs to apologize for exercising his right as a law enforcement officer to carry his weapon to a public meeting,” Councilman Bill Moody wrote, according to the Virginian-Pilot. “I can appreciate liberals’ knee jerk reactions but if they have a problem with the law they should use the system they now control to change it.”

Clark himself did not respond to the newspaper’s request for a comment. But the paper reported that Clark had issued a press release announcing his plan to bring the weapon to the meeting.

Meanwhile, Virginia’s gun owners received some support from President Trump on Friday. The president claimed in a Twitter message that the Second Amendment was “under very serious attack” in the commonwealth.

“That’s what happens when you vote for Democrats,” Trump wrote, “they will take your guns away.”

Earlier this week, Virginia’s Democratic governor, Ralph Northam, declared a state of emergency and said he was temporarily banning individuals from carrying firearms and other weapons on Capitol grounds ahead of the rally for fear of a repeat of the violence law enforcement was ill-prepared to deal with at another rally in Charlottesville more than two years ago.

Pro-gun activists have challenged that order.

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“The only anti-gun ppl you’ll see in Virginia on the 20th will be the government and they’ll have guns,” one Twitter user observed. “Think about that for a second.”

But a Richmond Circuit Court judge upheld Northam’s order, denying a lawsuit brought forth by the Virginia Citizens Defense League as well as Gunowners of America seeking an injunction against the Democratic governor’s ban.

Fox News’ Alex Pappas contributed to this story.

Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6122379763001_6122383499001-vs Virginia city official brings AR-15-style rifle to council meeting – triggering some colleagues fox-news/us/us-regions/southeast/virginia fox-news/us/personal-freedoms/second-amendment fox-news/politics/state-and-local fox news fnc/politics fnc Dom Calicchio bdbc857b-0fb2-5d2d-a887-1add8e241e23 article   Westlake Legal Group 694940094001_6122379763001_6122383499001-vs Virginia city official brings AR-15-style rifle to council meeting – triggering some colleagues fox-news/us/us-regions/southeast/virginia fox-news/us/personal-freedoms/second-amendment fox-news/politics/state-and-local fox news fnc/politics fnc Dom Calicchio bdbc857b-0fb2-5d2d-a887-1add8e241e23 article

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People Are Pointing Out A Hilarious Flaw With The Space Force Uniform

Westlake Legal Group 5e22dc992200003200473082 People Are Pointing Out A Hilarious Flaw With The Space Force Uniform

The newly created U.S. Space Force unveiled its utility uniform nametapes on Twitter on Friday and prompted many people to ask the same mocking question.

Namely, why the woodland camouflage pattern?

The Space Force, which is organized within the Department of the Air Force, explained in a tweet many hours later that it is using “current Army/Air Force uniforms” to save costs and said that its members “will look like their joint counterparts they’ll be working with, on the ground.”

The delayed explainer did nothing to stop the post from being ridiculed:

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The Secretive Company That Might End Privacy as We Know It

Until recently, Hoan Ton-That’s greatest hits included an obscure iPhone game and an app that let people put Donald Trump’s distinctive yellow hair on their own photos.

Then Mr. Ton-That — an Australian techie and onetime model — did something momentous: He invented a tool that could end your ability to walk down the street anonymously, and provided it to hundreds of law enforcement agencies, ranging from local cops in Florida to the F.B.I. and the Department of Homeland Security.

His tiny company, Clearview AI, devised a groundbreaking facial recognition app. You take a picture of a person, upload it and get to see public photos of that person, along with links to where those photos appeared. The system — whose backbone is a database of more than three billion images that Clearview claims to have scraped from Facebook, YouTube, Venmo and millions of other websites — goes far beyond anything ever constructed by the United States government or Silicon Valley giants.

Federal and state law enforcement officers said that while they had only limited knowledge of how Clearview works and who is behind it, they had used its app to help solve shoplifting, identity theft, credit card fraud, murder and child sexual exploitation cases.

Until now, technology that readily identifies everyone based on his or her face has been taboo because of its radical erosion of privacy. Tech companies capable of releasing such a tool have refrained from doing so; in 2011, Google’s chairman at the time said it was the one technology the company had held back because it could be used “in a very bad way.” Some large cities, including San Francisco, have barred police from using facial recognition technology.

But without public scrutiny, more than 600 law enforcement agencies have started using Clearview in the past year, according to the company, which declined to provide a list. The computer code underlying its app, analyzed by The New York Times, includes programming language to pair it with augmented-reality glasses; users would potentially be able to identify every person they saw. The tool could identify activists at a protest or an attractive stranger on the subway, revealing not just their names but where they lived, what they did and whom they knew.

And it’s not just law enforcement: Clearview has also licensed the app to at least a handful of companies for security purposes.

“The weaponization possibilities of this are endless,” said Eric Goldman, co-director of the High Tech Law Institute at Santa Clara University. “Imagine a rogue law enforcement officer who wants to stalk potential romantic partners, or a foreign government using this to dig up secrets about people to blackmail them or throw them in jail.”

Clearview has shrouded itself in secrecy, avoiding debate about its boundary-pushing technology. When I began looking into the company in November, its website was a bare page showing a nonexistent Manhattan address as its place of business. The company’s one employee listed on LinkedIn, a sales manager named “John Good,” turned out to be Mr. Ton-That, using a fake name. For a month, people affiliated with the company would not return my emails or phone calls.

While the company was dodging me, it was also monitoring me. At my request, a number of police officers had run my photo through the Clearview app. They soon received phone calls from company representatives asking if they were talking to the media — a sign that Clearview has the ability and, in this case, the appetite to monitor whom law enforcement is searching for.

Facial recognition technology has always been controversial. It makes people nervous about Big Brother. It has a tendency to deliver false matches for certain groups, like people of color. And some facial recognition products used by the police — including Clearview’s — haven’t been vetted by independent experts.

Clearview’s app carries extra risks because law enforcement agencies are uploading sensitive photos to the servers of a company whose ability to protect its data is untested.

The company eventually started answering my questions, saying that its earlier silence was typical of an early-stage start-up in stealth mode. Mr. Ton-That acknowledged designing a prototype for use with augmented-reality glasses but said the company had no plans to release it. And he said my photo had rung alarm bells because the app “flags possible anomalous search behavior” in order to prevent users from conducting what it deemed “inappropriate searches.”

In addition to Mr. Ton-That, Clearview was founded by Richard Schwartz — who was an aide to Rudolph W. Giuliani when he was mayor of New York — and backed financially by Peter Thiel, a venture capitalist behind Facebook and Palantir.

Another early investor is a small firm called Kirenaga Partners. Its founder, David Scalzo, dismissed concerns about Clearview making the internet searchable by face, saying it’s a valuable crime-solving tool.

“I’ve come to the conclusion that because information constantly increases, there’s never going to be privacy,” Mr. Scalzo said. “Laws have to determine what’s legal, but you can’t ban technology. Sure, that might lead to a dystopian future or something, but you can’t ban it.”

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_166989150_339af8f6-72dc-4344-8bea-138e3b8ba466-articleLarge The Secretive Company That Might End Privacy as We Know It Ton-That, Hoan Thiel, Peter A Social Media Schwartz, Richard Privacy police Identification Devices facial recognition software Clement, Paul D Clearview AI Artificial Intelligence

Hoan Ton-That, founder of Clearview AI, whose app matches faces to images it collects from across the internet.Credit…Amr Alfiky for The New York Times

Mr. Ton-That, 31, grew up a long way from Silicon Valley. In his native Australia, he was raised on tales of his royal ancestors in Vietnam. In 2007, he dropped out of college and moved to San Francisco. The iPhone had just arrived, and his goal was to get in early on what he expected would be a vibrant market for social media apps. But his early ventures never gained real traction.

In 2009, Mr. Ton-That created a site that let people share links to videos with all the contacts in their instant messengers. Mr. Ton-That shut it down after it was branded a “phishing scam.” In 2015, he spun up Trump Hair, which added Mr. Trump’s distinctive coif to people in a photo, and a photo-sharing program. Both fizzled.

Dispirited, Mr. Ton-That moved to New York in 2016. Tall and slender, with long black hair, he considered a modeling career, he said, but after one shoot he returned to trying to figure out the next big thing in tech. He started reading academic papers on artificial intelligence, image recognition and machine learning.

Mr. Schwartz and Mr. Ton-That met in 2016 at a book event at the Manhattan Institute, a conservative think tank. Mr. Schwartz, now 61, had amassed an impressive Rolodex working for Mr. Giuliani in the 1990s and serving as the editorial page editor of The New York Daily News in the early 2000s. The two soon decided to go into the facial recognition business together: Mr. Ton-That would build the app, and Mr. Schwartz would use his contacts to drum up commercial interest.

Police departments have had access to facial recognition tools for almost 20 years, but they have historically been limited to searching government-provided images, such as mug shots and driver’s license photos. In recent years, facial recognition algorithms have improved in accuracy, and companies like Amazon offer products that can create a facial recognition program for any database of images.

Mr. Ton-That wanted to go way beyond that. He began in 2016 by recruiting a couple of engineers. One helped design a program that can automatically collect images of people’s faces from across the internet, such as employment sites, news sites, educational sites, and social networks including Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and even Venmo. Representatives of those companies said their policies prohibit such scraping, and Twitter said it explicitly banned use of its data for facial recognition.

Another engineer was hired to perfect a facial recognition algorithm that was derived from academic papers. The result: a system that uses what Mr. Ton-That described as a “state-of-the-art neural net” to convert all the images into mathematical formulas, or vectors, based on facial geometry — like how far apart a person’s eyes are. Clearview created a vast directory that clustered all the photos with similar vectors into “neighborhoods.” When a user uploads a photo of a face into Clearview’s system, it converts the face into a vector and then shows all the scraped photos stored in that vector’s neighborhood — along with the links to the sites from which those images came.

Mr. Schwartz paid for server costs and basic expenses, but the operation was bare bones; everyone worked from home. “I was living on credit card debt,” Mr. Ton-That said. “Plus, I was a Bitcoin believer, so I had some of those.”

Mr. Ton-That showing the results of a search for a photo of himself.Credit…Amr Alfiky for The New York Times

By the end of 2017, the company had a formidable facial recognition tool, which it called Smartcheckr. But Mr. Schwartz and Mr. Ton-That weren’t sure whom they were going to sell it to.

Maybe it could be used to vet babysitters or as an add-on feature for surveillance cameras. What about a tool for security guards in the lobbies of buildings or to help hotels greet guests by name? “We thought of every idea,” Mr. Ton-That said.

One of the odder pitches, in late 2017, was to Paul Nehlen — an anti-Semite and self-described “pro-white” Republican running for Congress in Wisconsin — to use “unconventional databases” for “extreme opposition research,” according to a document provided to Mr. Nehlen and later posted online. Mr. Ton-That said the company never actually offered such services.

The company soon changed its name to Clearview AI and began marketing to law enforcement. That was when the company got its first round of funding from outside investors: Mr. Thiel and Kirenaga Partners. Among other things, Mr. Thiel was famous for secretly financing Hulk Hogan’s lawsuit that bankrupted the popular website Gawker. Both Mr. Thiel and Mr. Ton-That had been the subject of negative articles by Gawker.

“In 2017, Peter gave a talented young founder $200,000, which two years later converted to equity in Clearview AI,” said Jeremiah Hall, Mr. Thiel’s spokesman. “That was Peter’s only contribution; he is not involved in the company.”

Even after a second funding round in 2019, Clearview remains tiny, having raised $7 million from investors, according to Pitchbook, a website that tracks investments in start-ups. The company declined to confirm the amount.

In February, the Indiana State Police started experimenting with Clearview. They solved a case within 20 minutes of using the app. Two men had gotten into a fight in a park, and it ended when one shot the other in the stomach. A bystander recorded the crime on a phone, so the police had a still of the gunman’s face to run through Clearview’s app.

They immediately got a match: The man appeared in a video that someone had posted on social media, and his name was included in a caption on the video. “He did not have a driver’s license and hadn’t been arrested as an adult, so he wasn’t in government databases,” said Chuck Cohen, an Indiana State Police captain at the time.

The man was arrested and charged; Mr. Cohen said he probably wouldn’t have been identified without the ability to search social media for his face. The Indiana State Police became Clearview’s first paying customer, according to the company. (The police declined to comment beyond saying that they tested Clearview’s app.)

Clearview deployed current and former Republican officials to approach police forces, offering free trials and annual licenses for as little as $2,000. Mr. Schwartz tapped his political connections to help make government officials aware of the tool, according to Mr. Ton-That. (Mr. Schwartz declined to comment beyond saying that he’d had to “significantly scale back” his involvement with Clearview because of his wife’s health.)

The company’s main contact for customers was Jessica Medeiros Garrison, who managed Luther Strange’s Republican campaign for Alabama attorney general. Brandon Fricke, an N.F.L. agent engaged to the Fox Nation host Tomi Lahren, said in a financial disclosure report during a congressional campaign in California that he was a “growth consultant” for the company. (Clearview said that it was a brief, unpaid role, and that the company had enlisted Democrats to help market its product as well.)

The company’s most effective sales technique was offering 30-day free trials to officers, who then encouraged their acquisition departments to sign up and praised the tool to officers from other police departments at conferences and online, according to the company and documents provided by police departments in response to public-record requests. Mr. Ton-That finally had his viral hit.

In July, a detective in Clifton, N.J., urged his captain in an email to buy the software because it was “able to identify a suspect in a matter of seconds.” During the department’s free trial, Clearview had identified shoplifters, an Apple Store thief and a good Samaritan who had punched out a man threatening people with a knife.

Photos “could be covertly taken with telephoto lens and input into the software, without ‘burning’ the surveillance operation,” the detective wrote in the email, provided to The Times by two researchers, Beryl Lipton of MuckRock and Freddy Martinez of Open the Government. They discovered Clearview late last year while looking into how local police departments are using facial recognition.

According to a Clearview sales presentation reviewed by The Times, the app helped identify a range of individuals: a person who was accused of sexually abusing a child whose face appeared in the mirror of someone’s else gym photo; the person behind a string of mailbox thefts in Atlanta; a John Doe found dead on an Alabama sidewalk; and suspects in multiple identity-fraud cases at banks.

In Gainesville, Fla., Detective Sgt. Nick Ferrara heard about Clearview last summer when it advertised on CrimeDex, a list-serv for investigators who specialize in financial crimes. He said he had previously relied solely on a state-provided facial recognition tool, FACES, which draws from more than 30 million Florida mug shots and Department of Motor Vehicle photos.

Sergeant Ferrara found Clearview’s app superior, he said. Its nationwide database of images is much larger, and unlike FACES, Clearview’s algorithm doesn’t require photos of people looking straight at the camera.

“With Clearview, you can use photos that aren’t perfect,” Sergeant Ferrara said. “A person can be wearing a hat or glasses, or it can be a profile shot or partial view of their face.”

He uploaded his own photo to the system, and it brought up his Venmo page. He ran photos from old, dead-end cases and identified more than 30 suspects. In September, the Gainesville Police Department paid $10,000 for an annual Clearview license.

Federal law enforcement, including the F.B.I. and the Department of Homeland Security, are trying it, as are Canadian law enforcement authorities, according to the company and government officials.

Despite its growing popularity, Clearview avoided public mention until the end of 2019, when Florida prosecutors charged a woman with grand theft after two grills and a vacuum were stolen from an Ace Hardware store in Clermont. She was identified when the police ran a still from a surveillance video through Clearview, which led them to her Facebook page. A tattoo visible in the surveillance video and Facebook photos confirmed her identity, according to an affidavit in the case.

Mr. Ton-That said the tool does not always work. Most of the photos in Clearview’s database are taken at eye level. Much of the material that the police upload is from surveillance cameras mounted on ceilings or high on walls.

“They put surveillance cameras too high,” Mr. Ton-That lamented. “The angle is wrong for good face recognition.”

Despite that, the company said, its tool finds matches up to 75 percent of the time. But it is unclear how often the tool delivers false matches, because it has not been tested by an independent party such as the National Institute of Standards and Technology, a federal agency that rates the performance of facial recognition algorithms.

“We have no data to suggest this tool is accurate,” said Clare Garvie, a researcher at Georgetown University’s Center on Privacy and Technology, who has studied the government’s use of facial recognition. “The larger the database, the larger the risk of misidentification because of the doppelgänger effect. They’re talking about a massive database of random people they’ve found on the internet.”

But current and former law enforcement officials say the app is effective. “For us, the testing was whether it worked or not,” said Mr. Cohen, the former Indiana State Police captain.

One reason that Clearview is catching on is that its service is unique. That’s because Facebook and other social media sites prohibit people from scraping users’ images — Clearview is violating the sites’ terms of service.

“A lot of people are doing it,” Mr. Ton-That shrugged. “Facebook knows.”

Jay Nancarrow, a Facebook spokesman, said the company was reviewing the situation with Clearview and “will take appropriate action if we find they are violating our rules.”

Mr. Thiel, the Clearview investor, sits on Facebook’s board. Mr. Nancarrow declined to comment on Mr. Thiel’s personal investments.

Some law enforcement officials said they didn’t realize the photos they uploaded were being sent to and stored on Clearview’s servers. Clearview tries to pre-empt concerns with an F.A.Q. document given to would-be clients that says its customer-support employees won’t look at the photos that the police upload.

Clearview also hired Paul D. Clement, a United States solicitor general under President George W. Bush, to assuage concerns about the app’s legality.

In an August memo that Clearview provided to potential customers, including the Atlanta Police Department and the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office in Florida, Mr. Clement said law enforcement agencies “do not violate the federal Constitution or relevant existing state biometric and privacy laws when using Clearview for its intended purpose.”

Mr. Clement, now a partner at Kirkland & Ellis, wrote that the authorities don’t have to tell defendants that they were identified via Clearview, as long as it isn’t the sole basis for getting a warrant to arrest them. Mr. Clement did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

The memo appeared to be effective; the Atlanta police and Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office soon started using Clearview.

Because the police upload photos of people they’re trying to identify, Clearview possesses a growing database of individuals who have attracted attention from law enforcement. The company also has the ability to manipulate the results that the police see. After the company realized I was asking officers to run my photo through the app, my face was flagged by Clearview’s systems and for a while showed no matches. When asked about this, Mr. Ton-That laughed and called it a “software bug.”

“It’s creepy what they’re doing, but there will be many more of these companies. There is no monopoly on math,” said Al Gidari, a privacy professor at Stanford Law School. “Absent a very strong federal privacy law, we’re all screwed.”

Mr. Ton-That said his company used only publicly available images. If you change a privacy setting in Facebook so that search engines can’t link to your profile, your Facebook photos won’t be included in the database, he said.

But if your profile has already been scraped, it is too late. The company keeps all the images it has scraped even if they are later deleted or taken down, though Mr. Ton-That said the company was working on a tool that would let people request that images be removed if they had been taken down from the website of origin.

Woodrow Hartzog, a professor of law and computer science at Northeastern University in Boston, sees Clearview as the latest proof that facial recognition should be banned in the United States.

“We’ve relied on industry efforts to self-police and not embrace such a risky technology, but now those dams are breaking because there is so much money on the table,” Mr. Hartzog said. “I don’t see a future where we harness the benefits of face recognition technology without the crippling abuse of the surveillance that comes with it. The only way to stop it is to ban it.”

During a recent interview at Clearview’s offices in a WeWork location in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood, Mr. Ton-That demonstrated the app on himself. He took a selfie and uploaded it. The app pulled up 23 photos of him. In one, he is shirtless and lighting a cigarette while covered in what looks like blood.

Mr. Ton-That then took my photo with the app. The “software bug” had been fixed, and now my photo returned numerous results, dating back a decade, including photos of myself that I had never seen before. When I used my hand to cover my nose and the bottom of my face, the app still returned seven correct matches for me.

Police officers and Clearview’s investors predict that its app will eventually be available to the public.

Mr. Ton-That said he was reluctant. “There’s always going to be a community of bad people who will misuse it,” he said.

Even if Clearview doesn’t make its app publicly available, a copycat company might, now that the taboo is broken. Searching someone by face could become as easy as Googling a name. Strangers would be able to listen in on sensitive conversations, take photos of the participants and know personal secrets. Someone walking down the street would be immediately identifiable — and his or her home address would be only a few clicks away. It would herald the end of public anonymity.

Asked about the implications of bringing such a power into the world, Mr. Ton-That seemed taken aback.

“I have to think about that,” he said. “Our belief is that this is the best use of the technology.”

Jennifer Valentino-DeVries, Gabriel J.X. Dance and Aaron Krolik contributed reporting. Kitty Bennett contributed research.

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What is dry fasting?

Westlake Legal Group scale What is dry fasting? Manny Alvarez fox-news/health/wellness fox-news/health/ask-dr-manny fox news fnc/health fnc article 2eb61919-de59-5266-ac2e-3fefe319cf7c

Dear Dr. Manny,

I keep hearing about dry fasting as a way to lose weight. What is dry fasting? Is it effective? 

Thanks for your question.

Intermittent fasting is a very popular way of dieting. The fad has grown, and more and more people want to try it to lose weight. However, dry fasting is when someone fasts without drinking lots of water. Instead of supplementing food with water, the person goes without completely. I don’t recommend it.  Fluids are important for normal human function.

HOW TO IDENTIFY AN STD

It’s not necessarily dangerous, because it repairs cell damage. There is a way to do this without getting sick or hurting yourself. If you take the proper steps to dry-fast, you can experience some benefits.

Don’t attempt to dry-fast if you have never fasted before. It’s not something people should just do. After all, typically denying yourself food and water for a prolonged period of time can weaken your immunity and make you fatigued.

The theory is that if you are already on a ketogenic diet, then you won’t have too many hunger pangs or have to deal with thirst.

An intermittent dry fast involves eating and drinking for a small window of time during the day, and avoiding food and drink during the rest of the day. The usual window involves eating over a period of eight hours and fasting for the remaining 16. The lesser-known path involves eating over a four-hour period and avoiding intake for 20 hours.

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A prolonged dry fast is done over a period of 24 hours or more. It’s not recommended. Many people who do it for religious reasons experience headaches and other unpleasant symptoms.

Limited fluid intake forces your body to burn more fat since fat can be used to produce water. Fat is the most efficient source of internal water for your body.

If you have high-fat meals in between your fasting periods, you should be able to fast comfortably. However, the overall benefits are not well documented.

Dry fasting is not the best way to lose weight since most people gain it back afterward.

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If you do have any pre-existing health conditions, you should not consider this diet.

Do you have a health question for Dr. Manny? Email us at AskDrManny@FoxNews.com 

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Groom-to-be tells bride she’s being unreasonable for wanting ‘extravagant’ dress, asks internet if he’s being a jerk

Something tells us he’s not going to like the answer.

A groom-to-be recently took to Reddit to ask whether or not he was wrong for allegedly telling his fiancée that she shouldn’t buy the $950 wedding dress she wants, but rather a $50 knock-off.

The man, who posted under a throwaway account with the username “Josh8449,” began by explaining that he and his fiancée “Emma” were getting married in July, and had everything “pretty much sorted” as far as the actual ceremony goes.

WEDDING GUEST SLAMMED FOR ‘GROSS’ RESPONSE TO WEDDING INVITE

The one thing his bride-to-be hadn’t bought yet was a wedding dress.

Emma allegedly told him she was eyeing a gown that cost $950, as well as a $120 veil — a move Josh didn’t understand because the couple “[isn’t] the extravagant type at all.”

Josh said he was also a bit peeved because they had jointly saved $10,000 for the wedding, and the dress would put a dent in their leftover honeymoon fund.

Westlake Legal Group BrideDressIstock Groom-to-be tells bride she's being unreasonable for wanting 'extravagant' dress, asks internet if he's being a jerk Michael Bartiromo fox-news/lifestyle/weddings fox-news/lifestyle/relationships fox-news/lifestyle fox news fnc/lifestyle fnc article 02038654-5b7a-56bc-a922-81a107e9e1ca

“I’m not trying to get her to cheap out on her dress but she will literally wear it once, one dress for over $1000 is just insane that would fund our honeymoon,” the Redditor complained. (iStock)

“I’m not trying to get her to cheap out on her dress but she will literally wear it once, one dress for over $1000 is just insane that would fund our honeymoon,” Josh said.

Josh added that he was going to wear his dad’s old tuxedo to save money. And while he understood that Emma couldn’t wear her mother’s gown — “her and her mum both say the style hasn’t aged well [which] is fair” — he didn’t understand why she couldn’t find a cheaper, similar dress online.

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“I had a quick google around at dresses online and there were so many! [A]nd so many just like the one Emma wants for like $50 to $100,” he said.

“I tried to show her some dresses I found on [the Wish app] and others … but she was having none of it.”

Emma also offered to pay for the dress out of her own money, and not their shared honeymoon fund, but Josh still wasn’t happy because “we [are] about to marry and our finances will be joined.” He also didn’t appreciate Emma’s mom offering to buy the dress.

The whole thing soon turned “nasty,” Josh said, adding that “Emma has been extremely cold to me” and acting like a “toddler.”

Josh claims Emma also questioned whether the two were too incompatible to marry, and went to stay with her parents.

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Not surprisingly, the Reddit community largely agreed that, yes, Josh was wrong.

“Regardless of dress type, though, your reaction to her — calling her names and deciding you have veto power — is the real problem. You should be solving this issue together. If you can’t, maybe it’s not time to get married yet,” one user said.

“Most of the wedding guests would be arriving in more expensive attire, if $50-100 was her dress budget,” another wrote.

“Like seriously? Sorry… but your girlfriend deserves way better,” someone else claimed.

“If my fiancé called me a toddler for spending one grand of my own money on a reasonably-priced dress for our wedding, I’d be seriously reconsidering the marriage. That’s such childish behavior,” another said.

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Josh later updated his original post, stating that Emma found it on Reddit, and that it was a “mistake” to air his grievances.

“Emma found this thread, it was a mistake to post here and [I’m] sorry I posted our problems on Reddit,” he said, adding the acronym “IATA,” which is an admission meaning “I am the a—h—.”

Westlake Legal Group BrideDressIstock Groom-to-be tells bride she's being unreasonable for wanting 'extravagant' dress, asks internet if he's being a jerk Michael Bartiromo fox-news/lifestyle/weddings fox-news/lifestyle/relationships fox-news/lifestyle fox news fnc/lifestyle fnc article 02038654-5b7a-56bc-a922-81a107e9e1ca   Westlake Legal Group BrideDressIstock Groom-to-be tells bride she's being unreasonable for wanting 'extravagant' dress, asks internet if he's being a jerk Michael Bartiromo fox-news/lifestyle/weddings fox-news/lifestyle/relationships fox-news/lifestyle fox news fnc/lifestyle fnc article 02038654-5b7a-56bc-a922-81a107e9e1ca

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How hackers, scammers and companies know when you open an email and use it against you

It’s hard to believe that a single pixel could ruin your life. After all, a pixel measures about 0.0104-inches. If you took a mechanical pencil and drew the smallest mark you could, this dot would be much larger than a typical pixel.

With the advent of pixel-tracking, cybercriminals have a whole new weapon at their disposal. That’s why it’s important you take control of your email. Tap or click for the tricks I use to organize my inbox, including a free download that will give your old email a good cleaning.

Why has pixel-tracking become the new trend in cybercrime? Because we’ve become too smart for regular con artists and phishing spam. Plus, we have tools now to stop spam. Tap or click for tactics to reduce your junk email and third-party apps that help.

Since pixel-tracking is still unfamiliar to many users, let’s start with how it works before getting into what to do about it.

How pixel-tracking works

To review, these are common telltale signs of an email scam:

  • Writer requests that you enter personal information.
  • Unknown sender (“From” address).
  • Instructions require immediate attention.
  • Poor spelling or grammar.
  • Requests you click on a link.

Even if you’re super careful, details can go unnoticed. Technically, this microscopic pixel is computer code, embedded within the body of an email. The purpose of this code is to track a large amount of personal information, such as:

  • The number of times you open an email.
  • The operating system you use.
  • The time you opened the email.
  • Your IP address.
  • What type of device you used to open the email.

The shocking fact is this detailed data is sent back to the sender without you having to click on any links or even respond — it’s done automatically. Pixel-tracking allows marketers, advertisers and other companies collect data about you.

RELATED: Sick of the constant tracking? It’s time to change your settings. Tap or click for 8 ways to stop your phone from tracking everything you do.

This kind of tracking is legal, despite the fact that most consumers have never heard of it. As if collecting your info for marketing purposes without your consent isn’t bad enough, pixel-tracking can also serve as a valuable kind of surveillance for cybercriminals, too.

A little-known but widespread threat

Though it’s been used for years, this technique drew very little attention from the media or public; however, pixel-tracking was thrust into the limelight after a 2006 lawsuit revealed that HP employed a commercial email tracking service to trace an email sent to a reporter in an attempt to uncover her source.

As the use of pixel-tracking grows in popularity, consumers, data protection advocates and industry leaders have raised user privacy questions and supported regulations that call for placing limits on technologies like pixel-tracking. Here are a few steps you can take to help you avoid this marketing trap.

How to Block it

The simplest way to prevent pixel-tracking is to block images from displaying in your emails. If the pixel isn’t displayed, the code probably won’t work.

To block images in Gmail, click on the gear icon and select Settings. Scroll down and click on Ask before displaying external images under the Images option. Click Save changes (at the bottom of the page).

If you’re using Outlook or another third-party email client on a desktop or mobile device, you can enable this setting as well, typically located within the app’s settings.

Track the trackers

Why not turn the tables and track those tracking you? Using a browser extension, like PixelBlock, you can block tracking pixels and receive an alert indicating which emails contain the tracking code. A comparable extension, Ugly Mail, is available for Chrome and Firefox.

These browser extensions are easy to use and will reveal just how prevalent pixel-tracking is.

Other steps you can take

This advice is universal: Do not click any links within an email from a sender you don’t know, because the link may be hiding embedded pixel-tracking code. Unfamiliar links may also lead to malware, phishing schemes and any number of other malevolent things.

Never enter your email address in promotional emails, including those from well-known sites like Facebook or Amazon. Chances are, the email is tracking your response.

Did you know Twitter used your phone number and email to sell targeted ads? Tap or click to see how the social media site exposed users’ private details.

Although there is no guarantee you’ll eliminate these threats entirely, your best chance for reducing your inbox of these tracking emails is through awareness and taking the above precautions.

What digital lifestyle questions do you have? Call Kim’s national radio show and tap or click here to find it on your local radio station. You can listen to or watch The Kim Komando Show on your phone, tablet, television or computer. Or tap or click here for Kim’s free podcasts.

Copyright 2020, WestStar Multimedia Entertainment. All rights reserved.

Learn about all the latest technology on The Kim Komando Show, the nation’s largest weekend radio talk show. Kim takes calls and dispenses advice on today’s digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data hacks. For her daily tips, free newsletters and more, visit her website at Komando.com.

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Former Florida mayor gets prison after buying BMW, beach condo with $650G in United Way funds

Westlake Legal Group Judge-Gavel-Money-iStock Former Florida mayor gets prison after buying BMW, beach condo with $650G in United Way funds fox-news/us/us-regions/southeast/florida fox-news/us/crime fox-news/tech/topics/fbi fox-news/politics/state-and-local fox news fnc/us fnc Brie Stimson article 441b2f79-d766-5de5-83a9-9e2c41fcc7c8

A former Florida mayor was reportedly sentenced to 51 months in prison and required to pay full restitution Friday for embezzling more than $650,000 from United Way — after a Navy veteran’s testimony played a key role in his conviction.

Guy Thompson, who served as mayor of Milton in northwestern Florida from 1994 to 2014, stole a total of $652,000.61 through a check-fraud scheme while he served as executive director of the United Way in Santa Rosa County, the Pensacola News Journal reported.

Thompson, 66, used the money for purchases that included a BMW automobile and a beachfront condominium, the newspaper reported.

He pleaded guilty last May to 20 counts of wire fraud and three counts of tax evasion.

CHRIS COLLINS, FORMER GOP REP, SENTENCED TO 26 MONTHS IN PRISON OVER SECURITIES FRAUD

The FBI began investigating in October 2018, the same month Thompson was removed from his position at United Way as allegations of fraud surfaced. The organization started an internal audit at the same time.

Ronald Benson, a 20-year-old Navy veteran hired to help manage funds at United Way, testified in Thompson’s trial that he started noticing “anomalies” in checks and deposit slips.

“I started to discover where large amounts of money were being redirected,” Benson said in court, according to the News Journal. “Not misdirected, redirected.”

He also said Thompson smeared his credibility to hide his own crimes, adding even though he resigned from the position, his association with the former mayor has made it impossible to get a job.

Thompson started stealing the money while he was still mayor in 2011, prosecutors found, and he continued the scheme for seven years until his ouster in 2018.

Over the course of those seven years, federal prosecutors said, Thompson made “hundreds of fraudulent deposits” meant for United Way into his personal account.

He also evaded about $159,362 by not reporting his fraudulent earnings on his taxes.

Thompson was well-known and respected in the community – the Milton Community Center was even renamed for him in 2015. His name was later removed.

He also served on many boards and was involved in other charities during his career.

Thompson’s attorney, Ryan Cardoso, told the News Journal earlier this year that Thompson “is deeply remorseful that his conduct has hurt the United Way of Santa Rosa County, as well as the organizations and the people it serves.”

“I would say, overall, people’s confidence in elected officials took a big nosedive, and it’ll probably never recover,” Milton resident Kim Macarthy said about Thompson’s crimes. “It was important for me to see this. I don’t take pleasure in this, but it’s important for closure and moving forward.”

Thompson has been ordered to pay full restitution for the $650,000 and federal authorities have already seized upwards of $220,000 from his bank accounts – mostly from the beach condo he sold soon after the FBI investigation started.

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Thompson could have faced life in prison as each count carries a maximum of 20 years in prison, according to the News Journal.

Westlake Legal Group Judge-Gavel-Money-iStock Former Florida mayor gets prison after buying BMW, beach condo with $650G in United Way funds fox-news/us/us-regions/southeast/florida fox-news/us/crime fox-news/tech/topics/fbi fox-news/politics/state-and-local fox news fnc/us fnc Brie Stimson article 441b2f79-d766-5de5-83a9-9e2c41fcc7c8   Westlake Legal Group Judge-Gavel-Money-iStock Former Florida mayor gets prison after buying BMW, beach condo with $650G in United Way funds fox-news/us/us-regions/southeast/florida fox-news/us/crime fox-news/tech/topics/fbi fox-news/politics/state-and-local fox news fnc/us fnc Brie Stimson article 441b2f79-d766-5de5-83a9-9e2c41fcc7c8

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