TBR News January 6, 2018

Jan 06 2018

The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C. January 6, 2018:”The Wolff book on Trump is now a smash best-seller, thanks to Trump’s loud howls of rage and legal threats against the publisher. I have a good Washington friend whose relative is on the Presidential Detail of the Secret Service and from the bits and pieces he has picked up, it is very evident that Wolff was quite accurate in his depiction of the President as a disturbed eccentric (at best.) Another connection, this time in the Pentagon, has expressed the view that his associates view the unprovoked rocket attack on an Syrian airfield, based on a fake news story about poison gas as terrifying in its implications. This was a clear-cut act of war and yet Trump did not go to Congress for permission but launched the attack entirely on his own. The fear is that he will become so unbalanced in coming months that he will, again entirely on his own, launch at attack against another country, this time with nuclear weapons. It is the growing idea inside the Beltway that Trump would be far better off for everyone if he were back touting his gaudy hotels or chasing his friend’s wives around the lobbies.”


Table of Contents

  • Trump book author says his revelations will bring down U.S. president
  • Trump rejects author’s accusations, calls self ‘stable genius
  • ‘Fire and Fury’ paints strange picture of Trump family ties
  • Fire and Fury confirms our worst fears – about the Republicans
  • Enough About Steve Bannon. Rupert Murdoch’s Influence on Donald Trump Is More Dangerous.
  • Is social media bad for you? The evidence and the unknowns
  • California Defiant in Face of Federal Move to Get Tough on Marijuana
  • Muslims rule major Swedish city with violence and rapes
  • ‘Shoot the Jews’: How Sweden’s Jews Just Became Key Targets for Violent Muslim Anger Over Trump’s Jerusalem Move 


Trump book author says his revelations will bring down U.S. president

January 6, 2018

by Willliam Schomberg


LONDON (Reuters) – The author of a book that is highly critical of Donald Trump’s first year as U.S. president said his revelations were likely to bring an end to Trump’s time in the White House.

Michael Wolff told BBC radio that his conclusion in “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House”– that Trump is not fit to do the job — was becoming a widespread view.

“I think one of the interesting effects of the book so far is a very clear emperor-has-no-clothes effect,” Wolff said in an interview broadcast on Saturday.

“The story that I have told seems to present this presidency in such a way that it says he can’t do his job,” Wolff said.

“Suddenly everywhere people are going ‘oh my God, it’s true, he has no clothes’. That’s the background to the perception and the understanding that will finally end … this presidency.”

Trump has dismissed the book as full of lies. It depicts a chaotic White House, a president who was ill-prepared to win the office in 2016, and Trump aides who scorned his abilities.

Trump took to Twitter late on Friday to renew his attacks on Wolff, and on his former top aide Steve Bannon who was quoted in the book.

“Michael Wolff is a total loser who made up stories in order to sell this really boring and untruthful book,” Trump said. “He used Sloppy Steve Bannon, who cried when he got fired and begged for his job. Now Sloppy Steve has been dumped like a dog by almost everyone. Too bad!”

Bannon, formerly Trump’s chief strategist, is chairman of the so-called alt-right Breitbart News website

In his interview with the BBC, Wolff was asked if he believed that Bannon felt Trump was unfit to serve as president and would try to bring him down. “Yes,” Wolff replied.

He also hit back at claims that the book was untruthful.

“This is what’s called reporting. This is how you do it.” he said. “You ask people, you get as close as you can to the event, you interview the people who were privy to the event, you interview other people who were privy to the event, you come to know the circumstance as well as anybody and then you report it.”

Additional reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee; Writing by William Schomberg; Editing by Jeremy Gaunt


Trump rejects author’s accusations, calls self ‘stable genius

January 6, 2017

by Steve Holland


WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Saturday rejected an author’s accusations that he is mentally unfit for office and said his track record showed he is a “stable genius.”

Michael Wolff, who was granted unusually wide access to the White House during much of Trump’s first year, has said in promoting his book, “Fire and Fury – Inside the Trump White House,” that Trump is unfit for the presidency.

Trump, in a series of extraordinary morning posts on Twitter, said his Democratic critics and the U.S. news media were bringing up the “old Ronald Reagan playbook and screaming mental stability and intelligence” since they have not been able to bring him down in other ways.

Reagan, a Republican who was the U.S. president from 1981-1989, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 1994 and died in 2004.

“Actually, throughout my life, my two greatest assets have been mental stability and being, like, really smart,” said Trump, a former reality TV star.

“I went from VERY successful businessman, to top T.V. Star … to President of the United States (on my first try). I think that would qualify as not smart, but genius … and a very stable genius at that!”

Trump, 71, issued the tweets from the presidential retreat at Camp David, Maryland, where he was meeting Republican congressional leaders and many Cabinet secretaries about their legislative agenda for the year.

The tweets were another sign of Trump’s frustration at what he views as unfair treatment by the news media of his presidency amid a federal investigation into whether he or his campaign aides colluded with Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign, in which he defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Wolff’s book has proved to be another shock to the system for Trump and his top aides, coming just as he starts his second year in office.

Wolff told BBC Radio in an interview broadcast on Saturday that based on his interviews with the people around Trump that he believed the president was unfit for office.

He told NBC News on Friday that White House staff treated Trump like a child.

“The one description that everyone gave, everyone has in common — they all say he is like a child,“ Wolff said. ”And what they mean by that, he has a need for immediate gratification. It’s all about him.

“This man does not read, does not listen. He’s like a pinball, just shooting off the sides.”

Fox News correspondent Geraldo Rivera told “Fox and Friends” on Saturday that he had spoken to Trump on Friday and that he was “very, very frustrated” that the issue of his mental fitness was getting traction. Trump is to undergo the first physical examination of his presidency on Jan. 12. The exam was announced on Dec. 7 after questions arose about Trump’s health when he slurred part of a speech announcing that the United States recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

White House officials and Trump’s high-profile supporters have launched an effort to raise doubts about Wolff’s credibility. White House spokesman Sarah Sanders said earlier in the week that the book includes “mistake after mistake after mistake.”

Additional reporting by William Schomberg in London; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn and Bill Trott


‘Fire and Fury’ paints strange picture of Trump family ties

Michael Wolff’s new book describes the president’s “perplexing” marriage and absentee parenting. The account of life inside the White House depicts an isolated president.

January 5, 2018

by Elizabeth Schumacher


The author of “Fire and Fury,” an incendiary new book about the Trump White House, has made it clear that his book is by no means a historical record.

Rather, writes journalist Michael Wolff, the book is a he-said-she-said composite picture of Trump’s political and personal lives.

“Many of the accounts of what has happened in the Trump White House are in conflict with one another; many, in Trumpian fashion, are baldly untrue. These conflicts, and that looseness with the truth, if not with reality itself, are an elemental thread of the book,” Wolff says in the opening pages of his sought-after tome, which sold out in some areas shortly after its release on Friday.

The accounts collected by Wolff paint President Donald Trump as a lonely figure, someone with few true supporters and even fewer friends, including inside his own family. Staffers, including former advisor-turned-foe Steven Bannon, describe how no one — not even Trump himself — thought he would win the presidency, and how even after this victory, everyone around Trump treated him like an incompetent child.

While tales of strategizing against Russia revelations are nothing new, the book offers an insight into one aspect of the president’s life that has been kept relatively under wraps — how White House insiders view Trump’s family relationships.

Wolff describes how campaign staffers were surprised to see that he and his wife Melania “could go days at a time without contact,” spending relatively little time together, even when they were both in Trump Tower, before moving into the White House.

“Trump’s marriage was perplexing to almost everybody around him,” writes Wolff, who says the first couple has adopted a “live and let live” approach to their relationship. The president also reportedly called Melania a “trophy wife,” often, sometimes even in her presence.

According to the book, Melania cried on election night, because becoming First Lady “would destroy her carefully sheltered life.”

‘An absentee father’

“Fire and Fury” presents an even more scathing picture of President Trump’s relationships with his children.

“An absentee father for his first four children, Trump was even more absent for his fifth, Barron, his son with Melania.”

As for his elder children, the book makes no mention of Tiffany, Trump’s daughter with his second wife Marla Maples, and his two other sons are portrayed as comical figures with little agency of their own.

“Don Jr., thirty-nine, and Eric, thirty-three, existed in an enforced, infantile relationship to their father, a role that embarrassed them, but one that they also professionally embraced.”

According to Wolff’s sources, the pair had entertained hopes of being involved in their father’s administration as closely as their sister Ivanka.

Uday and Qusay

“Don Jr. and Eric — behind their backs known to Trump insiders as Uday and Qusay, after the sons of Saddam Hussein — wondered if there couldn’t somehow be two parallel White House structures, one dedicated to their father’s big-picture views, personal appearance and salesmanship, and the other concerned with day-to-day management issues.”

The two eventually became subjects of ridicule — not least because of Donald Jr.’s 2016 meeting with a Russian lawyer in Trump Tower, a move Steven Bannon infamously dubbed “treasonous” in an interview with Wolff.

As for Ivanka, often touted as the “smart one” and Trump’s favorite, Wolff writes that their relationship was “in no way a conventional family relationship. If it wasn’t pure opportunism, it was certainly transactional. It was business. Building the brand, the presidential campaign, and now the White House — it was all business.”

According to journalist Joe Scarborough, who knows Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner well, the couple have affection for the president, but remain detached from his flamboyant positions and statements.

“They have tolerance but few illusions,” as Wolff puts it.


Fire and Fury confirms our worst fears – about the Republicans

Donald Trump’s utter unfitness for the presidency has been laid bare in Michael Wolff’s new book. What will it take for his party to remove him from office?

January 5, 2018

by Jonathan Freedland

The Guardian

What did you think would be the Republican reaction to the latest revelations about Donald Trump? Did you expect the party’s luminaries to drop their collective head into their hands, or to crumple into a heap in despair at the state of the man they anointed as president of the United States?

They’d certainly have had good reason. In the book Fire and Fury, which on Thursday received the greatest possible endorsement – namely a “cease and desist” order from Trump’s personal lawyers – the journalist Michael Wolff paints a picture of a man whose own closest aides, friends and even family believe is congenitally unfit to be president.

The Trump depicted in the book is ignorant: the adviser who tried to teach him about the constitution could get no further than the fourth amendment before Trump’s eyes glazed over. He doesn’t read, or even skim, barely having the patience to take in a headline. Some allies try to persuade Wolff that attention deficit disorder is part of Trump’s populist genius: he is “post-literate – total

He is also loathsome: we read that a favourite sport of Trump’s was tricking friends’ wives to sleep with him. He is weird, especially in the bedroom: having clashed with his secret service bodyguard over his insistence that he be able to lock himself into his quarters (Melania has separate accommodation), he demanded the installation of two extra TV sets, so he could watch three cable news channels at once. He heads back under the covers as early as 6.30pm, munching a cheeseburger as he soaks up hours of Fox and CNN. If there are crumbs, the chambermaid can’t change the sheets: he insists that he strip the bed himself.

We learn that Trump believes Saturday Night Live is damaging to the nation and that it is “fake comedy”; that daughter Ivanka wants to be president herself and that privately she mocks her father’s nature-defying combover. And, perhaps most amusingly, we get an answer to the question that has long enraged Trump: the identity of the mystery leaker behind the stream of stories of White House chaos and fratricidal dysfunction that have appeared since he took office. It turns out that the president rants endlessly on the phone to his billionaire friends, who feel no duty of confidentiality. In other words, the leaker Trump seeks is … himself.

Given all this material, you’d forgive congressional Republicans for being glum. Alternatively, you’d understand if they tried to denounce the book, perhaps joining those who question Wolff’s methods, believing he too often strays from corroborated facts and cuts journalistic corners. But that has not been the reaction.

Instead, the official campaign account for Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate, tweeted a gif of McConnell grinning mightily. And that smirk captured the mood of many of his colleagues. What do they have to smile about? They’re pleased because they believe Fire and Fury marks the downfall of Steve Bannon, the former chief strategist to Trump and source of some of the book’s most scathing lines. It was Bannon who told Wolff that Trump had “lost it”, and Bannon who described the meeting Donald Trump Jr had with a Russian lawyer – convened for the express purpose of receiving dirt on Hillary Clinton – as “treasonous”.

Trump’s response came in the form of a long and furious statement that loosely translates into New Yorkese as “You’re dead to me” – which delighted establishment Republicans who have long seen Bannon as the enemy within.

It would be nice if this loathing were rooted in ideological principle, with Republicans despising Bannon as the apostle of an ultra-nationalist isolationism and xenophobia that could tip the US and the world towards a 1930s-style catastrophe. (Recall that Bannon once promised Wolff the Trump administration would be “as exciting as the 1930s”.)

But the truth is that Bannon posed a threat to McConnell and his ilk, vowing to run insurgent, Trump-like candidates against establishment Republicans in primary contests (just as he did, in vain, in Alabama last year). If Bannon is broken, they can sleep more easily.

Some go further, believing that, as Bannon dies, so does Bannonism. They speculate that, with the ties to his onetime evil genius severed, Trump might now moderate, becoming a more conventional, focused occupant of the Oval Office. This is delusional, twice over.

First, it’s true that things look bad for Bannon now: he has apparently lost the financial backing of the billionaire Mercer family, and it’s possible he stands to lose control of his far-right Breitbart media empire. But he understands Trump and knows that, if you’re ready to grovel and flatter, a rapprochement is always possible. Hence Bannon’s declaration on Thursday that Trump is a “great man”.

But the more enduring delusion is that Trump is poised to moderate. Republicans predicted he would change once the primaries of 2016 were under way. Then they said he would change once he’d won the party nomination. Or when the presidential election campaign proper began. Or when he’d won the election. Or once he’d taken the oath of office. They were wrong every time. He won’t change. Trump is Trump.

The sheer persistence of this delusion points to another one: the hope that Republicans will finally decide enough is enough and do the right thing by ousting this unfit president. The Wolff book has prompted another flurry of that speculation, focused this time on the 25th amendment of the constitution, which allows for the removal of a president deemed “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office”.

In an article this week, Wolff provides arresting evidence of mental deterioration. He writes that Trump would tell the same three stories, word-for-word, inside 30 minutes, unaware he was repeating himself. “Now it was within 10 minutes.” He adds: “At Mar-a-Lago, just before the new year, a heavily made-up Trump failed to recognise a succession of old friends.” But the 25th amendment requires the agreement of the vice-president, a majority of the cabinet and, ultimately, both houses of Congress. We are, once again, up against the sobering truth of the US constitution: it is only as strong as those willing to enforce it. And, today, that means the Republican party.

These latest revelations prove – yet again – what a vile, narcissistic and dangerous man we have in the Oval Office, wielding, among other things, sole, unchecked authority over the world’s mightiest nuclear arsenal. But the reaction to them proves something else too. That he remains in place only thanks to the willing connivance of his Republican enablers. As culpable as he is, they share in his damnation.

  • Jonathan Freedland is a Guardian columnist


Enough About Steve Bannon. Rupert Murdoch’s Influence on Donald Trump Is More Dangerous.

January 6, 2018

by Peter Maass

The Intercept

For quite a while, there has been a bull market in stories about Steve Bannon calling the shots in the incorrigible tangle of neurons that passes for Donald Trump’s brain. Michael Wolff’s new book about the dysfunctional White House, “Fire and Fury,” adds a marvelous coda to this narrative, with Bannon, in his waning days in the West Wing, telling the insane truth about the most ridiculous and frightening presidency ever.

Bannon deserves every bit of attention and disgust that has come his way in recent times. His racism, laundered through Breitbart News and the White House, has fueled the far right and fanned Trump’s enfeebled instincts. Bannon’s hatred of immigration and Muslims is so fierce that he even concocted a tale about seeing the dangers of Islam firsthand when a Navy vessel he had served aboard in 1979 stopped in Pakistan – except, as it turns out, the vessel did not stop in Pakistan.

But the attention Bannon demands of us should not obscure the rival media impresario with truly Manchurian levels of influence over the president: Rupert Murdoch. One of the less-noted passages in Wolff’s book explains that the president reveres Murdoch, regularly seeking advice from the founder of the Fox empire, a condition that made Bannon jealous of Murdoch’s power over Trump. The book quotes Roger Ailes, who ran Fox News for Murdoch until being dismissed for sexual harassment, as noting that “Trump would jump through hoops for Rupert.”

Wolff’s book may not be the whole truth, but its account of Trump’s infatuation with Murdoch is consistent with reports elsewhere. Murdoch and Trump speak frequently – “Murdoch here,” their phone calls begin, according to the New York Times, which reports that Trump counts Murdoch “as one of his closest confidants.” The men have known each other for decades, since the days when Murdoch owned the New York Post and Trump was one of its fawning obsessions (“Best Sex I’ve Ever Had,” read a famous Post headline from 1990, referring to an apparent remark from Trump’s then-mistress and future short-term wife, Marla Maples).

Murdoch’s conservative ideas have never been in the shadows, and his media empire’s embrace of dirty tricks has been evident since it was revealed that one of his papers hacked the phones of a murder victim and the relatives of deceased soldiers. But the ethical brutality of the Trump era has seemed to relieve Murdoch of the burden of dressing up his views and morals. Murdoch had delayed his dismissal of Ailes in 2016 (with a $40 million severance package), after which he denied there was a culture of abuse at Fox, despite several male hosts and executives resigning or getting fired for harassing women. “It’s all nonsense,” he said last month.

We don’t know the instructions given to Trump in his “Murdoch here” conversations, but we do know the instructions the president gets from Fox News. There’s a cottage industry, in which the Kremlinologists of social media correlate Trump’s statements and tweets to what he has apparently just watched on Fox and, in particular, his favorite show on the network, Fox & Friends. Of course, it’s distressing that a president spends as much time as Trump does watching television (while eating cheeseburgers in bed, according to Wolff), but the fact that he mimics what he hears on a cable channel that promotes conspiracy theories and racists is … oh God, it would be a pleasure to conjure something more absurd and less chilling.

Fox News is not on autopilot. Its unhinged condition is not a consequence of its anchors and producers deciding, autonomously, that they would like to take the network where no network has gone before. This is Murdoch’s doing. After Ailes left, Murdoch assumed the position of the network’s executive chair and led its swan dive into the far-right gutter. “Rupert Murdoch is in charge,” noted Fox anchor Bill Hemmer a year after Ailes’s departure. According to the Daily Beast, Murdoch often presides over the morning news meetings; Vanity Fair quotes a former Fox executive as saying Murdoch “is having the time of his life running” the network.

Fox was never balanced or fair, and Ailes was not a nice guy. But according to Tamara Holder, a lawyer and former Fox contributor, Ailes at least made sure the network didn’t totally lose it. Holder, who left the network at the end of 2016 after accusing a senior executive of sexual misconduct (the executive was fired and Holder received a settlement), views Ailes’s dismissal and death a year later as key factors. According to Holder, Ailes required at least a bit of balance, if only a fig leaf, in the network’s coverage. “The one thing they’re missing is the Roger Ailes control button,” Holder told me. “Roger was good at overseeing things and calling it when he saw it was a little out of control.”

In the wake of Wolff’s book, there is no shortage of headlines about Bannon’s quotes and their fallout. The wealthy Mercer family, in response to Trump banishing Bannon from his set – er, his presidency – is distancing itself from Bannon’s projects. But Bannon’s malevolent influence on Trump and America is slighter than that of Murdoch and Fox. While the reach of Bannon’s Breitbart News is large in relation to its modest size – it is headquartered in the basement of a three-story townhouse in Washington, D.C. — Fox News is a globe-spanning entity with more than 1,000 employees and 90 million subscribers, including a particularly avid one at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. The power behind the throne of the xenophobic right in the United States is not the millionaire banker from Goldman Sachs, but the billionaire immigrant from Australia.


Is social media bad for you? The evidence and the unknowns

What the science suggests so far about the impact of platforms such as Facebook, Twitter or Instagram on your mental well-being.

January 5, 2018

by Jessica Brown

BBC News

Three billion people, around 40% of the world’s population, use online social media – and we’re spending an average of two hours every day sharing, liking, tweeting and updating on these platforms, according to some reports. That breaks down to around half a million tweets and Snapchat photos shared every minute. With social media playing such a big part in our lives, could we be sacrificing our mental health and well-being as well as our time? What does the evidence actually suggest?

  • Facebook responds to mental well-being claims
  • Is it time to rethink how we use social media? An introduction to our #LikeMinded season

Since social media is relatively new to us, conclusive findings are limited. The research that does exist mainly relies on self-reporting, which can often be flawed, and the majority of studies focus on Facebook. That said, this is a fast-growing area of research, and clues are beginning to emerge. BBC Future reviewed the findings of some of the science so far:


People use social media to vent about everything from customer service to politics, but the downside to this is that our feeds often resemble an endless stream of stress. In 2015, researchers at the Pew Research Center based in Washington DC sought to find out if social media induces more stress than it relieves.

In the survey of 1,800 people, women reported being more stressed than men. Twitter was found to be a “significant contributor” because it increased their awareness of other people’s stress.

But Twitter also acted as a coping mechanism – and the more women used it, the less stressed they were. The same effect wasn’t found for men, whom the researchers said had a more distant relationship with social media. Overall, the researchers concluded that social media use was linked to “modestly lower levels” of stress.


In 2014, researchers in Austria found that participants reported lower moods after using Facebook for 20 minutes compared to those who just browsed the internet. The study suggested that people felt that way because they saw it as a waste of time.

A good or bad mood may also spread between people on social media, according to researchers from the University of California, who assessed the emotional content of over a billion status updates from more than 100 million Facebook users between 2009 and 2012.

Bad weather increased the number of negative posts by 1%, and the researchers found that one negative post by someone in a rainy city influenced another 1.3 negative posts by friends living in dry cities. The better news is that happy posts had a stronger influence; each one inspired 1.75 more happy posts. Whether a happy post translates to a genuine boost in mood, however, remains unclear.


Researchers have looked at general anxiety provoked by social media, characterised by feelings of restlessness and worry, and trouble sleeping and concentrating. A study published in the journal Computers and Human Behaviour found that people who report using seven or more social media platforms were more than three times as likely as people using 0-2 platforms to have high levels of general anxiety symptoms.

That said, it’s unclear if and how social media causes anxiety. Researchers from Babes-Bolyai University in Romania reviewed existing research on the relationship between social anxiety and social networking in 2016, and said the results were mixed. They concluded that more research needs to be done.


While some studies have found a link between depression and social media use, there is emerging research into how social media can actually be a force for good.

Two studies involving more than 700 students found that depressive symptoms, such as low mood and feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness, were linked to the quality of online interactions. Researchers found higher levels of depressive symptoms among those who reported having more negative interactions.

A similar study conducted in 2016 involving 1,700 people found a threefold risk of depression and anxiety among people who used the most social media platforms. Reasons for this, they suggested, include cyber-bullying, having a distorted view of other people’s lives, and feeling like time spent on social media is a waste.

However, as BBC Future will explore this month in our #LikeMinded season, scientists are also looking at how social media can be used to diagnose depression, which could help people receive treatment earlier. Researchers for Microsoft surveyed 476 people and analysed their Twitter profiles for depressive language, linguistic style, engagement and emotion. From this, they developed a classifier that can accurately predict depression before it causes symptoms in seven out of 10 cases.

Researchers from Harvard and Vermont Universities analysed 166 people’s Instagram photos to create a similar tool last year with the same success rate.


Humans used to spend their evenings in darkness, but now we’re surrounded by artificial lighting all day and night. Research has found that this can inhibit the body’s production of the hormone melatonin, which facilities sleep – and blue light, which is emitted by smartphone and laptop screens, is said to be the worst culprit. In other words, if you lie on the pillow at night checking Facebook and Twitter, you’re headed for restless slumber.

Last year, researchers from the University of Pittsburgh asked 1,700 18- to 30-year-olds about their social media and sleeping habits. They found a link with sleep disturbances – and concluded blue light had a part to play. How often they logged on, rather than time spent on social media sites, was a higher predictor of disturbed sleep, suggesting “an obsessive ‘checking’”, the researchers said.

The researchers say this could be caused by physiological arousal before sleep, and the bright lights of our devices can delay circadian rhythms. But they couldn’t clarify whether social media causes disturbed sleep, or if those who have disturbed sleep spend more time on social media.


Despite the argument from a few researchers that tweeting may be harder to resist than cigarettes and alcohol, social media addiction isn’t included in the latest diagnostic manual for mental health disorders.

That said, social media is changing faster than scientists can keep up with, so various groups are trying to study compulsive behaviours related to its use – for example, scientists from the Netherlands have invented their own scale to identify possible addiction.

And if social media addiction does exist, it would be a type of internet addiction – and that is a classified disorder. In 2011, Daria Kuss and Mark Griffiths from Nottingham Trent University in the UK have analysed 43 previous studies on the matter, and conclude that social media addiction is a mental health problem that “may” require professional treatment. They found that excessive usage was linked to relationship problems, worse academic achievement and less participation in offline communities, and found that those who could be more vulnerable to a social media addiction include those dependent on alcohol, the highly extroverted, and those who use social media to compensate for fewer ties in real life.


Women’s magazines and their use of underweight and Photoshopped models have been long maligned for stirring self-esteem issues among young women. But now, social media, with its filters and lighting and clever angles, is taking over as a primary concern among some campaigning groups and charities.

Social media sites make more than half of users feel inadequate, according to a survey of 1,500 people by disability charity Scope, and half of 18- to 34-year-olds say it makes them feel unattractive.

A 2016 study by researchers at Penn State University suggested that viewing other people’s selfies lowered self-esteem, because users compare themselves to photos of people looking their happiest. Research from the University of Strathclyde, Ohio University and University of Iowa also found that women compare themselves negatively to selfies of other women.

But it’s not just selfies that have the potential to dent self-esteem. A study of 1,000 Swedish Facebook users found that women who spent more time on Facebook reported feeling less happy and confident. The researchers concluded: “When Facebook users compare their own lives with others’ seemingly more successful careers and happy relationships, they may feel that their own lives are less successful in comparison.”

But one small study hinted that viewing your own profile, not others, might offer ego boosts. Researchers at Cornell University in New York put 63 students into different groups. Some sat with a mirror placed against a computer screen, for instance, while others sat in front of their own Facebook profile.

Facebook had a positive effect on self-esteem compared to other activities that boost self-awareness. Mirrors and photos, the researchers explained, make us compare ourselves to social standards, whereas looking at our own Facebook profiles might boost self-esteem because it is easier to control how we’re presented to the world.


In a study from 2013, researchers texted 79 participants five times a day for 14 days, asking them how they felt and how much they’d used Facebook since the last text. The more time people spent on the site, the worse they felt later on, and the more their life satisfaction declined over time.

But other research has found, that for some people, social media can help boost their well-being. Marketing researchers Jonah Berger and Eva Buechel found that people who are emotionally unstable are more likely to post about their emotions, which can help them receive support and bounce back after negative experiences.

Overall, social media’s effects on well-being are ambiguous, according to a paper written last year by researchers from the Netherlands. However, they suggested there is clearer evidence for the impact on one group of people: social media has a more negative effect on the well-being of those who are more socially isolated.


If you’ve ever been talking to a friend who’s pulled their phone out to scroll through Instagram, you might have wondered what social media is doing to relationships.

Even the mere presence of a phone can interfere with our interactions, particularly when we’re talking about something meaningful, according to one small study. Researchers writing in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships tasked 34 pairs of strangers with having a 10-minute conversation about an interesting event that had happened to them recently. Each pair sat in private booths, and half had a mobile phone on the top of their table.

Those with a phone in eyeshot were less positive when recalling their interaction afterwards, had less meaningful conversations and reported feeling less close to their partner than the others, who had a notebook on top of the table instead.

Romantic relationships aren’t immune, either. Researchers at the University of Guelph in Canada surveyed 300 people aged 17-24 in 2009 about any jealousy they felt when on Facebook, asking questions such as, ‘How likely are you to become jealous after your partner has added an unknown member of the opposite sex?’.

Women spent much more time on Facebook then men, and experienced significantly more jealousy when doing so. The researchers concluded they “felt the Facebook environment created these feelings and enhanced concerns about the quality of their relationship”.


In a study involving 600 adults, roughly a third said social media made them feel negative emotions – mainly frustration – and envy was the main cause. This was triggered by comparing their lives to others’, and the biggest culprit was other people’s travel photos. Feeling envious caused an “envy spiral”, where people react to envy by adding to their profiles more of the same sort of content that made them jealous in the first place.

However, envy isn’t necessarily a destructive emotion – it can often make us work harder, according to researchers from Michigan University and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. They asked 380 students to look at “envy-eliciting” photos and texts from Facebook and Twitter, including posts about buying expensive goods, travelling and getting engaged. But the type of envy the researchers found is “benign envy”, which they say is more likely to make a person work harder.


A study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine last year surveyed 7,000 19- to 32-year-olds and found that those who spend the most time on social media were twice as likely to report experiencing social isolation, which can include a lack of a sense of social belonging, engagement with others and fulfilling relationships.

Spending more time on social media, the researchers said, could displace face-to-face interaction, and can also make people feel excluded.

“Exposure to such highly idealised representations of peers’ lives may elicit feelings of envy and the distorted belief that others lead happier and more successful lives, which may increase perceived social isolation.”


It’s clear that in many areas, not enough is known yet to draw many strong conclusions. However, the evidence does point one way: social media affects people differently, depending on pre-existing conditions and personality traits.

As with food, gambling and many other temptations of the modern age, excessive use for some individuals is probably inadvisable. But at the same time, it would be wrong to say social media is a universally bad thing, because clearly it brings myriad benefits to our lives.



California Defiant in Face of Federal Move to Get Tough on Marijuana

January 4, 2018

by Thomas Fuller

New York Times

SAN FRANCISCO — The sale of recreational cannabis became legal in California on New Year’s Day. Just four days later, the Trump administration acted in effect to undermine that state law by allowing federal prosecutors to be more aggressive in prosecuting marijuana cases.

A memo by Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Thursday was widely interpreted in the nation’s most populous state as the latest example of Trump vs. California, a multifront battle of issues ranging from immigration to taxes to the environment.

And on marijuana, once again California reacted with defiance.

“There is no question California will ultimately prevail,” Gavin Newsom, the lieutenant governor of California, said. “The public has accepted legalization’s inevitability. It will be very difficult for Sessions to bring us back to a mind-set that existed five years or a decade ago.”

The head of California’s Bureau of Cannabis Control, Lori Ajax, said legalization would proceed as planned, “consistent with the will of California’s voters.”

Although medical marijuana is legal in some form in 29 states and recreational marijuana is sold in six states, it remains banned by the federal government and is classified in the same category as heroin.

It is too early to tell how federal prosecutors around the country will interpret the Sessions memo, which rescinded guidance by the Obama administration that had discouraged the bringing of charges involving marijuana-related crimes in states that have legalized the drug.

The memo reminded prosecutors that “marijuana activity is a serious crime.” Mr. Sessions said in a statement that “stricter enforcement by prosecutors will help tackle the growing drug crisis, and thwart violent crime across our country.”

Leading voices in California’s marijuana industry said Thursday that while the announcement by Mr. Sessions might have punctured some of the excitement surrounding legalization, it did not change their plans to take part in what is the world’s largest legal market for recreational pot.

“This has changed zero on the ground for us,” said Steve DeAngelo, the executive director of Harborside, a company with dispensaries in Oakland and San Jose.

“I don’t think this is going to result in any serious attempt to shut down the legal cannabis industry,” Mr. DeAngelo said. “It’s more of a delaying tactic than a knife to the throat of the industry.”

Californians approved Proposition 64, which allowed for recreational use of the drug, by a 57 percent to 43 percent margin in a November 2016 ballot initiative.

Carla Lowe, the Northern California director for the advocacy group Citizens Against Legalizing Marijuana, said she hoped the Sessions memo would focus attention on a drug that was being produced at much higher levels of potency than in previous decades.

“I’m concerned what this is doing to developing brains in young people,” she said.

“I would hope this would get the attention of some of the people who are law-abiding citizens,” Ms. Lowe said. “But I don’t know that there’s much hope in California.”

Lawyers who specialize in cannabis said they were skeptical that federal prosecutors would be more aggressive in California for several reasons, including a perceived reluctance of jurors in the state to convict marijuana cases, especially small-scale ones, that do not involve other crimes. Lawyers also point out that the Trump administration has not yet appointed its own federal prosecutors in California.

Additionally, lawyers said the Justice Department is constrained by the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment, which has been attached to congressional budget bills in recent years, and prohibits the Justice Department from spending money on the implementation of state medical cannabis laws.

“The message to the industry is that nothing has really changed,” said Sean McAllister, a lawyer who specializes in cannabis cases in California and Colorado. “The industry has flourished in an environment of uncertainty for the past 20 years. Sessions’s memo does not create any additional uncertainty that did not already exist.”

But the uncertainty is nonetheless substantial. The Sessions announcement may give further pause to large companies that have been reluctant to invest in the marijuana business because of fear of retaliation by federal authorities. And small-scale veterans of the industry — the cottage marijuana businesses in the famed Emerald Triangle of Northern California, among others — face potential threats of forfeiture, as they always have. If prosecutors were to crack down, sellers and anyone caught in possession of the drug could go to jail.

Yet as a practical matter, officials from the federal Drug Enforcement Administration have said that combating opioid trafficking is much more important than cracking down on marijuana given the agency’s stretched resources.

Russ Baer, a spokesman for the Drug Enforcement Administration, said in an interview last year that most of the agency’s resources were being spent on combating opioids. “We are spread thin,” he said.

Local law enforcement is also stretched. Thomas D. Allman, the sheriff of Mendocino County, one of the three counties in the Emerald Triangle, said Thursday that investigating marijuana cultivation was not a high priority, unless it was “out of control” or involved other crimes, such as the environmental damage.

“If somebody is obeying state law, I’m going to say there are not many local law enforcement agencies who are going to be rushing out to do an investigation,” Sheriff Allman said. “There are many other crimes we can focus on that impact the safety of the community.”

Hezekiah Allen, the executive director of the California Growers Association, a cannabis industry group, says while marijuana growers are concerned about the more aggressive federal posture, longtime growers have seen it before.

“Folks that have been at this for a few generations remember that this is a cycle,” Mr. Allen said. “Federal enforcement ebbs and flows and it has for decades. This is another enforcement cycle but this time we have a state government that is working with us. And frankly enforcement wasn’t all that effective in the past.”

On Thursday, among customers at the Berkeley Patients Group, a dispensary that sells recreational marijuana, there was defiance and eye-rolling among those asked about the Sessions memo.

“To me, they’ve always wanted to destroy everything Obama did. It’s all in that vein,” said Barry Alexander, 61, a supervisor at a Whole Foods supermarket. Mr. Alexander was skeptical that the Trump administration could do much to change legalization in California. “We’re like Texas, we’re our own country,” he said.

Ian Carr, 23, a construction worker who bought cannabis at another dispensary in Berkeley, the Cannabis Buyers Club, shrugged off the prospect of a federal crackdown.

“I’ve been using marijuana since before it was legal,” he said. “So I’d just go back to that.”

Sonner Kehrt contributed reporting from Berkeley, Calif.


Muslims rule major Swedish city with violence and rapes

January 6, 2018

by Christian Jürs


Sweden is one of the worst hit countries in Europe of Muslim immigration and Political Correctness. Now, the police themselves have publicly admitted that they no longer control one of Sweden’s major cities. I have made some exclusive translations from Swedish media. They show the future of Eurabia unless Europeans wake up.

All following links to major Swedish newspapers, with a brief translation:


Malmø, Sweden. The police now publicly admit what many Scandinavians have known for a long time: They no longer control the situation in the nations’s third largest city. It is effectively ruled by violent gangs of Muslim immigrants. Some of the Muslims have lived in the area of Rosengård, Malmø, for twenty years, and still don’t know how to read or write Swedish. Ambulance personnel are attacked by stones or weapons, and refuse to help anybody in the area without police escort. The immigrants also spit at them when they come to help. Recently, an Albanian youth was stabbed by an Arab, and was left bleeding to death on the ground while the ambulance waited for the police to arrive. The police themselves hesitate to enter parts of their own city unless they have several patrols, and need to have guards to watch their cars, otherwise they will be vandalized. “Something drastic has to be done, or much more blood will be spilled” says one of the locals.


The number of people emigrating from the city of Malmø is reaching record levels. Swedes, who a couple of decades ago decided to open the doors to Muslim “refugees” and asylum seekers, are now turned into refugees in their own country and forced to flee their homes. The people abandoning the city mention crime and fear of the safety of their children as the main reason for leaving.


ALL of the 600 windows at one of the schools in Malmø have been broken during the summer holiday. Window smashing alone costs the city millions every year. City buses have been forced to avoid the immigrant ghetto, as they are met with youths throwing rocks or bottles at them if they enter. Earlier this year, a boy of Afghan origin had made plans to blow up his own school.


People working at the emergency ward at the major hospital in Malmø receive threats every day, and are starting to get used to it. Patients with knives or guns are commonplace. They have discussed having metal detectors at the emergency entrance, but some fear this could be seen as a provocation.


Lisa Nilsson has lived in Manhatten, New York City, for 25 years. After moving back to Malmø, Sweden, she now misses the safety of New York. She never walks anywhere in Malmø after dark, but takes a taxi everywhere she goes.


Rapes in Sweden as a whole have increased by 17% just since the beginning of 2003, and have had a dramatic increase during the past decade. Gang rapes, usually involving Muslim immigrant males and native Swedish girls, have become commonplace. Two weeks ago, 5 Kurds brutally raped a 13-year-old Swedish girl.


22-year-old Swedish woman going out for fresh air gang raped by three strange men. The only said one word to her: “Whore!”

Ali Dashti comments: “Stories like this are in Swedish newspapers every week. Swedish media usually take great care not to mention the ethnic background of the perpetrators, but you can usually read it between the lines.”

One more: how have Swedish politicians reacted to the chaos caused in one of their major cities because of Muslims of whom even the police seem to be afraid? By making it easier for Muslims to enter Sweden:


Sweden’s politicians view arranged marriages as a positive tradition: a cultural pattern that immigrants should be allowed to preserve even in Sweden. The Swedish government feels that interfering in arranged marriages is an encroachment upon private life. In addition, immigrant couples can apply for family reunification in Sweden even if they’ve never seen each other before – as long as the marriage is entered in a culture with a tradition of parents arranging marriages on behalf of their children. A 2002 study by Växjö University economics professor Jan Ekberg found that immigration cost Swedish taxpayers DKK 33 billion that year, compared to just DKK 10 billion in Denmark. And while one might assume that the rise in costs would result in knee-jerk opposition to immigration, just the opposite has happened in Sweden. A Swedish government commission has proposed abolishing the so-called “seriousness requirement.”

A few years ago, the extreme leftist Guardian newspaper called Sweden the most successful society the world has ever known. But Sweden today is being transformed by a large influx of immigrants from the Middle East.

This report, first published on CBN.com, has the details:

Sweden’s third largest city, Malmö, sits just across the water from Copenhagen, Denmark. To visitors, Malmö seems quiet, nice, maybe a little boring; in other words, quintessentially Swedish. But under the surface, Malmö has serious problems.

When Israel played Sweden in a Davis cup tennis match in Malmö, an estimated 6,000 Leftists, Arabs, Muslims and anarchists protested the Israeli presence in the city, and hundreds attacked police.

Almost no fans were allowed inside to watch the tennis series, because authorities feared disruptions or possible violence against the Israeli team.

Massive immigration has made Malmö today one quarter Muslim, and stands to transform it into a Muslim majority city within just a few decades.

One of the most popular baby names is not Sven, but Mohammed. Pork has been taken off some school menus. Want to learn to drive? You can attend Malmö’s own “Jihad Driving School.”

But despite Malmö’s usually placid appearance, this experiment in multiculturalism has not gone well. In the Rosengaard section of Malmö, a housing project made up primarily of immigrants, fire and emergency workers will no longer enter without police protection.

Unemployment in Rosengaard is reported to be 70 percent. An immigrant-fuelled crime wave affects one of every three Malmö families each year. The number of rapes has tripled in 20 years.

But Malmö has been so accommodating toward immigrant Muslims that a local Muslim politician, Adly Abu Hajar, has declared that “The best Islamic state is Sweden!”

Don’t ask Malmö’s Jews to give the city the same glowing assessment. Jews who dare walk the streets wearing their yarmulkes risk being beaten up.

“It’s true. Jews cannot walk the streets of Malmö and show that they’re Jews,” said Lars Hedegaard.

Hedegaard lives across the water from Malmö in Copenhagen, Denmark, where he was a columnist for one of Denmark’s largest newspapers. He says pro-Israel demonstrations in Malmö, like the ones during the fighting in Gaza earlier this year, were met with rocks, bottles and pipe bombs from Arabs and Leftists.

“I was there for demonstration; a pro-Israeli demonstration with about 400 or 500 people,” Hedegaard told CBN News.  “Jews and non-Jews, and I came over to cover it. The police allowed, I’d say a hundred Palestinians or Arabs to shout and threaten and throw bombs and rockets at us. A homemade bomb landed about ten yards from me, and went off with a big bang. And now of course, I thought the police were going to jump these guys, get them out of the way. They didn’t. They just let them stand there.”

Swede Ted Ekeroth helped film the Arab-Left counter-demonstrations. He saw Arabs throwing rocks at a 90-year-old holocaust survivor.

“I filmed the police chief and asked him why are they not reacting to this,” Ekeroth said. “Why are they not doing anything? And he simply answered, ‘It’s their right according to the Swedish constitution.’  We apparently did not have the same right, because we were forced out of there. Our manifestation for Israel is always peaceful, and theirs is always the quite opposite — Death, hate and killing of Jews. They come and they shout different slogans,” he continued. “It can be everything from Arabic slogans inciting killing of Jews to in Swedish and Danish, ‘Kill the Jews.’

And like all over the Western world, some on the Left, along with Arabs and Muslims and anarchists, have formed a political alliance against Israel and Jews. They demonstrate together, and in Sweden, they vote together. Muslims are a core constituency of the Left.

The immigrant issue is a big reason the right-wing Swedish Democrats are the fastest growing political party in the country. Matthias Karlsson is the Swedish Democrats’ Press Secretary. “In many parts of Sweden, people are, as I said, fed up,” Karlsson said. “And they’re being pushed too far and they want to make a stand.”

Swedish Democrats, who stand for traditional Christian values and limits on immigration, have been stigmatized by the Swedish media as fascist and bigoted.

Erik Almqvuist is national youth leader for the Swedish Democrats. “The media has tried to portray us as extremists, racists,” he said.  “People think we’re almost inhuman.”

Almqvuist faces regular death threats, and was almost killed recently in a Left-wing knife attack.

“The multicultural model in Sweden has polarized society,” Almqvuist explained. ”We have a political polarization. We have also an ethnic polarization. And the extremes are growing and it’s harder and harder to get to consensus.”

Hedegaard says as Malmö goes, so goes the rest of Sweden.

“I think the best prediction is that Sweden will have a Muslim majority by 2049, so we know where that country’s going,” he said.

CBN News was unable to get a response from Malmö’s mayor, Ilmar Reepalu. But he told a Swedish publication that he does not think anti-Semitism is greater in Malmö than in other Swedish cities, and said that harassment of Jews is “not good.”

CBN News also asked a number of Malmö Jewish leaders to appear on camera to discuss the climate of anti-Semitism. They all declined, with one saying it would only make the situation worse.


‘Shoot the Jews’: How Sweden’s Jews Just Became Key Targets for Violent Muslim Anger Over Trump’s Jerusalem Move 

A synagogue’s firebombed; protestors call, in Arabic, for killing Jews: Be shocked, but don’t be surprised. In Sweden, anti-Jewish hatred among Muslims, themselves targets of intense prejudice, is a recurrent form of racism that’s taboo to discuss

December 10, 2017

by Nathalie Rothschild


When Molotov cocktails, or similar improvised weapons, were hurled at the synagogue in the Swedish city of Gothenburg Saturday evening, while Jewish youths had a party in the adjacent community center, it was shocking – but not surprising.

The burning of the Israeli flag near the U.S. and Israeli embassies in Stockholm earlier the same day was shocking – but not surprising.

The demonstrations in central Malmö on Thursday and Friday, where chants like “We’re going to shoot the Jews” were shouted in Arabic, were shocking but not surprising.

It is mindboggling that, in 2017, a group of 200 people can gather in a public square in Sweden (Sweden!) and shout their intention to kill Jews, apparently without fear of reproach.

It’s also reprehensible that the incident would likely even have gone unnoticed were it not for a report by a single local journalist, apparently the only one with enough nous to sense that a protest against a U.S. president’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel could lead to incitement against Jews in Sweden.

For all the shock and outrage expressed by Swedish politicians and commentators, waking up Sunday morning to news that the police had overnight arrested three people suspected of arson on a synagogue in Sweden’s second largest city, who – hands on heart – could be surprised by such an act of violence?

At the time of writing, it is has not yet been established who was behind the attack or what their motivations were, but the regional police chief told a local newspaper that it can presumably be linked to recent developments in Israel. It also happened during a weekend of agitations linked to events in the Middle East. And those mostly followed an entirely predictable pattern:

There is a flare-up in the Israel-Palestine conflict, cue protests in Europe, cue ire redirected at Jews and specifically Jews in the vicinity, and then tweets and Facebook status updates from public figures expressing sadness and dismay.

In Sweden, this is normally followed by condemnations from politicians and often the announcement of a new dialogue project, an interfaith initiative, or perhaps a kippah walk – a well-intentioned form of solidarity action that has come to bear all the hallmarks of virtue signaling, just like other initiatives seen in Sweden in recent years, like the “love bombing” of synagogues with balloons, colorful paper hearts and messages of support.

Nearly a decade ago, reports by journalist Niklas Orrenius helped open Swedes’ eyes to the prevalence of Jew hatred among the Muslim population in Malmö, a city that has since earned an international reputation for anti-Semitism.

Orrenius has returned to the issues many times, most recently a few weeks ago in an article featuring a teacher in an unnamed Swedish city who does not dare reveal to her pupils that she is Jewish. Orrenius and others have also described the laxness among local politicians, authorities and school boards to confront anti-Jewish sentiment among some members of the Muslim community, a group whose members are more commonly regarded as the targets, rather than perpetrators, of racism.

In an op-ed the morning after the Gothenburg attack, Orrenius wrote: “It can feel complicated when the hatred comes from Muslims, a group that is also subjected to much hatred in Sweden today. The fact that Muslim-haters often use anti-Semitic incidents to throw suspicion on all Muslims does not make the matter any less thorny.”

Paulina Neuding, a journalist who has also reported on anti-Semitism in Sweden, wrote to me: “Unfortunately, this issue has been laden with taboos and within the political establishment there has been an unwillingness to admit that the problem is a consequence of Swedish migration policy. And so one has engaged in grand gestures, like kippah walks, apparently without considering whether [they] are an efficient antidote to the hatred one purports to want to tackle.”

Arguably, the euphemism “Swedes with roots in the Middle East”, so prevalent in discussions about who’s behind this kind of anti-Semitism in Sweden, is testament to how anti-Jewish sentiment among Muslims has become a form of racism that dares not speak its name.

There have been many laudable initiatives, at both the government and grass root levels, to overcome tensions between Muslims and Jews, but for Neuding, the past weekend’s events are still entirely unsurprising. “After all, we have seen similar scenes before in Malmö and Helsingborg (a town in southern Sweden), with open incitement against Jews,” she said.

This is the second time in just a few months that the Gothenburg Jewish community has found itself at the center of debates around anti-Semitism. In September, the Nordic Resistance Movement demonstrated in the city and the original route for their march, which coincided both with a major literary festival and with Yom Kippur, meant that the neo-Nazis would pass near the synagogue. (The march was eventually stopped short due to massive counter-protests.)

In his opinion piece, Orrenius went on to write: “Many Swedes can easily recognize and condemn anti-Semitism when it is expressed with swastikas and tributes to Hitler. We learnt that in school. But today in Sweden, the hatred of Jews often manifests itself in other ways and in other contexts than the purely Nazi one.” Friday’s Jew-baiting chants in Malmö were heard at a pro-Palestine demonstration, Orrenius went on to point out.

A future flare-up in the Israel-Palestine conflict is inevitable and when it ricochets and lays bare anti-Semitism in far-away Sweden, let us hope that the country’s prime minister, Stefan Löfven, makes good on his recent vow, in an interview this month with the Jewish magazine Judisk Krönika, to “stand on the barricades in the fight against anti-Semitism and racism” and not to “turn a blind eye to the fact that many people have come here from the Middle East, where anti-Semitism is widespread, almost a part of the ideology.”


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