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Brian Ross Apologizes For Claiming James Holmes Was In Tea Party

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Brian Ross Apologizes For James Holmes Tea Party Comment

ABC’s Brian Ross has done it again. Despite having received many prestigious awards for his reporting on the Peace Corps, Solyndra, and U.S. anti-terrorism efforts, he has also delivered more careless reporting than possibly any other television news reporter.

His most recent blunder is in regards to the Aurora, CO “Dark Knight” movie theater shootings. He intimated that the suspect, one James Holmes, was a member of the Tea Party. He based that suspicion on a single web page that listed an Aurora resident “Jim Holmes” as a member of the Colorado Tea Party Patriots.

“There is a Jim Holmes of Aurora, Colorado, page on the Colorado Tea Party site as well, talking about him joining the Tea Party last year,” Ross reported. He added: “Now we don’t know if this is the same Jim Holmes, but it’s Jim Holmes of Aurora, CO.”

Ross was immediately lambasted by right-wing bloggers and even journalism professionals on both sides of the aisle, calling the report scandalous, stupid, and irresponsible, making a national tragedy into something unnecessarily political.

Rem Rieder, editor and senior vice president of the American Journalism Review, called it an “egregious blunder” that delivered “yet another blow to the reeling credibility of the news media.”

“Brian Ross lost big time and so did ABC News,” Jay Rosen, an associate professor at New York University’s school of journalism, told POLITICO. “Ross reacted and went on instinct…So strong was this instinct that it overrode common newsroom sense and any innate sense of caution that might be left in Brian Ross.”

ABC officials have since apologized, issuing this statement: “An earlier ABC News broadcast report suggested that a Jim Holmes of a Colorado Tea Party organization might be the suspect, but that report was incorrect. ABC News and Brian Ross apologize for the mistake, and for disseminating that information before it was properly vetted.”

Previous errors include a 2001 report in which Ross suggested that Saddam Hussein may have been responsible for anthrax attacks on the United States. The White House later stated that “the claim was concocted from the start.”

In 2006 Ross reported that Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert was a target in the federal corruption investigation involving Jack Abramoff, former lobbyist and businessman. The Justice Department denied Hastert’s involvement, yet Ross maintained Hastert was “very much in the mix” of the examination.

In 2007, Ross reported that former CIA agent John Kiriakou issued only 35 seconds of water-boarding to suspected terrorist Abu Zubaydah which led to his confession of terrorist plots to the CIA. Other networks and newspapers picked up the story, using it as proof that water-boarding is an effective and relatively humane interrogation technique. Later, the Justice Department revealed that the suspect had in fact undergone water-boarding “at least 83 times.”

In 2010, Ross used spliced footage of a Toyota’s tachometer going from 1,000 RPM’s to 6,000 RPM’s in one second, accusing the company of “unintended acceleration.” The car, in fact, wasn’t in motion. It was parked with the doors open.

Glenn Greenwald, lawyer and Salon columnist argues that the ABC reporter has shown over the years that he is driven by a penchant for sensationalism.

The Jim Holmes Ross spoke of is in fact a member of the Tea Party and a 52 year old man, not the 24 yr old suspect of the deadly Aurora, CO shootings.

Good Morning America: Batman shooter connected to Tea Party

7/20/2012 James Holmes possibly connected to Tea Party, according to ABC’s Good Morning America:

Stephanolpoulos: I’m going to go to Brian Ross. You’ve been investigating the background of Jim Holmes here. You found something that might be significant.

Ross: There’s a Jim Holmes of Aurora, Colorado, page on the Colorado Tea party site as well, talking about him joining the Tea Party last year. Now, we don’t know if this is the same Jim Holmes. But it’s Jim Holmes of Aurora, Colorado.

Stephanolpoulos: Okay, we’ll keep looking at that. Brian Ross, thanks very much.

Environmentalist. Consumer Tech Journalist. Science Explorer. And, a dreamer. I've been contributing informative news content since 2010. Follow me on all socials!

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All You Need To Know About The #AgeChallenge Meme

The new meme is taking over social media and allows you to see what your 40 or 50-years-old self look like.

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Photo: Charlene Mcbride | Flickr.com | CC BY 2.0

A new meme challenge is making rounds on the Internet. Faceapp, an artificial intelligence-based photo app that edits your selfies to show how you look like when you’ve aged, is starting the #AgeChallenge trend.

Also known as the #FaceAppChallenge, the meme uses AI to augment a portrait photo to look old. Also, users can choose between the app’s templates to quickly edit a photo. Are they not smiling in a photo? You can select the Smile template to add a smile across their face. Users can also choose a different hairstyle or make themselves look younger using the app.

FaceApp does not require users to use their camera to take a selfie before using the filters. Users can upload pictures of other people then apply the filter of your choice.

In Twitter, netizens are having quite the fun in uploading pictures using the Age filter. Users trade pictures of how each other will look like in 40-50 years.

Pictures of celebrities like Tom Holland, Jennifer Aniston, and the cast of the Harry Potter film franchise are also making rounds on Twitter. Fans are ecstatic to see their favorite actors and actresses age beautifully.

Athletes such as Dwayne Wade and Kevin Love are also joining in, posting a picture of themselves on Instagram and Twitter. An England soccer team named Tottenham Hotspurs posted photos of their team members using the age filter in their official account.

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🤔🤷🏾‍♂️ Grandpa Wade huh

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FaceApp was initially released on iOS and Android last January and February 2017, respectively. The app is free to download but has options for in-app purchases.

Because of the meme challenge, FaceApp has since top the charts for ‘Most Downloaded’ in the App Store this week.

This year, SnapChat also released new filters that change a photo’s gender. A person could view what he or she looks like if he or she was born of the opposite gender using the app’s Female and Male filters. It also has one that turns a person’s face into a baby version of themselves.

Issues on Privacy

However, questions on the app’s privacy security are now being raised, as the app’s popularity started to rise.

Speculations on the app extracting photos directly from the user’s phone without extra permissions started when Joshua Nozzi, a software developer based in the US, posted his speculations on Twitter.

The developer based in Virginia claims that it seems that the app was uploading all of his photos when the app started listing all of his pictures one row at a time. The instance resembled a network delay, which Nozzi took for the app getting access to his camera phone storage.

Because he was alarmed, Nozzi turned on his Airplane mode and realized that the app doesn’t let him proceed without an internet connection.

After Nozzi posted his claims last Monday, cybersecurity experts like Will Strafach and Baptiste Robert tested the app and refuted Nozzi’s claims.

Strafach shared in his Twitter that the FaceApp does not upload a user’s full camera roll to remote servers. However, he does mention that when a user selects a photo to apply the filter, the picture is uploaded in the app’s server so that the filters can be used.

Robert also called out Noozi for his claims without sharing any pieces of evidence. Robert looked at the traffic when using the app. Similar to Strafach’s findings; the app does upload your selected photo from your phone. He emphasized that the app only uploads “one photo” in their server.

Aside from calling out Noozi, Robert also reminded the public and the media to verify their claims to avoid spreading panic based solely on speculations.

Another concern raised against the app is its vague Terms and Conditions. However, Robert also mentioned that the FaceApp’s Terms and Conditions are not different from the other apps in one’s phone. He asked the public to check out Snapchat’s Terms and Conditions if they are concerned.

FaceApp’s developer company is based in Russia. Twitter users also submitted questions to Robert if that is a factor for possible concern. The French cybersecurity researcher stated that there’s no need to worry because there are a lot of legitimate developers in Russia. “I don’t see why the nationality of the developers is an issue,” he writes in a tweet.

Further reports from Forbes verify that the photos are uploaded in servers in America, not Russia as speculated by some.

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Look: France’s ‘Cat-Fox’ — The New Unidentified Specie

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Cat Fox

Recently, the team from France’s National Hunting and Wildlife Office (ONCFS) released the news of a formerly unknown species of wildcat called the Cat-Fox or “chat-renard” in French. At first, it was only believed to be part of the French Island of Corsica’ local legend as ghjattuvolpe, a nocturnal beast which attacks sheep and goats.

During an interview with AFP, the ONCFS chief environmental technician Pierre Benedetti stated that “We believe that it’s a wild natural species which was known but not scientifically identified because it’s an extremely inconspicuous animal with nocturnal habits,” Benedetti has been studying the species for more than ten years already.

How is it different from our pet cats?

These cats have black ringed tails that are fox-like, “highly developed” canine teeth, “very wide” ears, short whiskers. And they are bigger. Cat foxes can grow up to 90 centimeters (35 inches) from head to tail-tip, while normal cats usually grow up only to 76 centimeters. They are nocturnal (active/awake at night). Also, they have stripes on their front legs, “very-dark” hind legs and a russet-colored stomach. Their silky and thick coat is designed to repel ticks, fleas, and lice naturally.

Why is it called Cat fox?

It’s not a type of fox, neither, is it a combination of a cat and a fox. But it is believed to be a wild cat. “It’s their size and their tail that earned them the name ‘cat-fox’ across the island,” says Benedetti. Some experts stated that its ears and tail resemble a fox, but its fur and facial characteristics are somehow similar to a typical cat.

Its existence was first popularly known last 2008 when a single cat-fox was caught by accident in a hen house at Olcani in Cap Corse.

Last 2012, to get and determine the golden stripped creature’s DNA, the team created traps with wooden sticks that have an irresistible smell to cats. As a result, they were able to get its fur, when the cats rubbed their bodies against the sticks.

After some analysis, they discovered through its DNA, that it is somehow related (but can be differentiated) from the European wildcat, Felis silvestris. It’s closely related to the African forest cat, F. silvestris lybica. However, it’s “exact identity is still to be determined,” Benedetti added.

The first cat was captured in 2016 using modernized photographic traps. Afterward, the team was able to catch 12 of the 16 total cats that they’ve seen using non-violent methods.

According to an ONCFS field agent, Carlu-Antone Cecchini, the cats were found in a location where “water and plant cover offering protection against its main predator, the golden eagle.” After examining and tagging the cats with electronic chips to track their adventures, the ONCFS releases them to the wild unharmed. One of the cats they’ve captured is a male cat with a one golden and one brown eye — a result of a cat fight.

The cat-fox may turn out like the mysterious wolf-like dog found in Montana last May 2018. It was revealed that it’s just an old type of wolf.

Today, it is still uncertain whether the cat-fox is new species or an old species that hasn’t been formally recognized. But some people argue that this may be a new species which is a combination of two types of species (species hybridisation). This hybridization is possible since a new bird species was discovered in the Galapagos.

The answer behind the lineage of these cats is one of the mysteries that are yet to be known. It’s diet, and ways of reproduction, are however to be discovered and learned in the future. Also, Benedetti has a theory that these cats may have been living on the French island of Corsica since 6,500 years BC.

He added that farmers might have brought these cats in the island. Meanwhile, Scientists believe that the cat could have originated from Africa or the Middle East.

According to CNN, the wildlife rangers from ONCFS expect that by catching, studying and tagging the cat foxes, they can somehow help these cute furry friends to be known and protected shortly, hopefully in two to four years.

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Look: Exotic Pets Turned Invasive Pests

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Exotic Pets
Marcie Kapsch from Loxahatchee NWR holding the exotic sailfin catfish (FL). Photo: USFWS Fish and Aquatic Conservation | Flickr

A recent study published in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, a journal from the Ecological Society of America, documented how researchers gain more awareness in the dynamics of the exotic pet trade and the role it plays in introducing nonlocal and invasive vertebrates worldwide.

As exotic pets become more popular, we need to have a clearer understanding of the factors that affect the trade to minimize the threat of having a pet-to-pests invasion soon.

Lockwood, the lead author of the study, said that since the 1970s, the market for exotic pets is continuously growing and the amount of vertebrate animals that are traded globally is surprising, even to the experienced biologists. Over the past decades, the population of reptiles and marine fish significantly increased — caused by their viral popularity as exotic pets.

Researchers take a closer look at the socioeconomic and socioecological factors that affect the exotic pet trade of vertebrates (animals with the backbone; namely fishes, birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles).  The mentioned factors depend on the unique economic, social, regulatory, and cultural contexts of a particular country. There is an increasing and widespread demand for exotic pets worldwide, but it occurs mainly in developing countries like South America and Asia. In the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom, more than half of all households have at least one pet.

What are exotic pets? 

In the study, it is defined as “species without a long history of domestication that are legally captured from their native range or bred within facilities and sold to consumers as household companions,” and are kept for non-utilitarian reasons (characterized by or aiming at beauty or ornament rather than utility).

Lockwood explains that species of goldfish or monk parakeets are considered as common pets for decades. Other species appear in the market for only one or two years; after that, they disappear.

The reason for this dynamic is not yet known, but researchers noted that this might be because of some species are easy to take care and breed well in captivity (which makes them cost cheaper). She added that thousands of different species are sold yearly. If a small percentage will escape or be free, they are capable of forming wild populations.

Is it really bad if our former pets decided to form a big family in the wild?

Lockwood and her team said that invasive reptiles and amphibians could force local species into extinction.

For example, the red-eared sliders (Trachemys scripta elegans) are turtles popularly kept as pets in the United States. It is native to the south-central region of the US, but it has created non-native populations in other parts of the country. These turtles are the real-life counterparts of the Famous Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Red eared slider turtle Credits: Jim, The Photographer| Flickr | Unknown

The reasons why owners release exotic pet is not widely documented. But it includes difficulty in taking care of large, old, aggressive, or sick animals. Cute little animals don’t always stay the same; sometimes, they grow and live longer than the pet owners had expected. Most countries don’t have the proper documentation of imported pet species. Also, there are challenges in monitoring and regulating them; some animals are usually recorded as “unidentified” or wrongly identified.

Factors such as the popularity of owning exotic animals, the ease of buying exotic pets from websites, and the lack of adequately implemented regulations — made it possible for the species to spread not only in their original locations but also in other parts of the globe.

This increase the possibility of having invasions in the future. To avoid or minimize the chances of having an exotic pet invasion, we need to have a better understanding of the forces that affect the worldwide trade of exotic pets.

In conclusion, Lockwood said that first “we need to know the reasons why certain species are in the trade, or what factors lead them to escape or be released,” so that we can make the right policies. These policies should be able to make both sides happy. Some people are still free to love their exotic pets while minimizing the probability of invasion.

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