Julian Assange jailed over bail breach

Julian Assange arrives at Southwark Crown CourtImage copyright
AFP/Getty

Image caption

Julian Assange pumped his fist at photographers as he arrived at Southwark Crown Court ahead of the hearing

Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange has been sentenced to 50 weeks in jail for breaching his bail conditions.

The 47-year-old was found guilty of breaching the Bail Act last month after his arrest at the Ecuadorian Embassy.

He took refuge in the London embassy in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden over sexual assault allegations, which he has denied.

In a letter read to the court, Assange said he had found himself “struggling with difficult circumstances”.

He apologised to those who “consider I’ve disrespected them”, a packed Southwark Crown Court heard.

“I did what I thought at the time was the best or perhaps the only thing that I could have done,” he said.

In mitigation, Mark Summers QC had said his client was “gripped” by fears of rendition to the US over the years because of his work with whistle-blowing website Wikileaks.

“As threats rained down on him from America, they overshadowed everything,” he said.

Sentencing him, Judge Deborah Taylor told Assange it was difficult to envisage a more serious example of the offence.

“By hiding in the embassy you deliberately put yourself out of reach, while remaining in the UK,” she said.

She said this had “undoubtedly” affected the progress of the Swedish proceedings.

His continued residence at the embassy and bringing him to justice had cost taxpayers £16m, she added.

“Whilst you may have had fears as to what may happen to you, nonetheless you had a choice, and the course of action you chose was to commit this offence,” she concluded.

As Assange was taken down to the cells, he raised a fist in defiance to his supporters in the public gallery behind him.

They raised their fists in solidarity and directed shouts of “shame on you” towards the court.


Assange’s letter of apology in full

I apologise unreservedly to those who consider that I have disrespected them by the way I have pursued my case.

This is not what I wanted or intended.

I found myself struggling with terrifying circumstances for which neither I nor those from whom I sought advice could work out any remedy.

I did what I thought at the time was the best and perhaps the only thing that could be done – which I hoped might lead to a legal resolution being reached between Ecuador and Sweden that would protect me from the worst of my fears.

I regret the course that this took; the difficulties were instead compounded and impacted upon very many others.

Whilst the difficulties I now face may have become even greater, nevertheless it is right for me to say this now.


Assange now faces US federal conspiracy charges related to one of the largest leaks of government secrets.

The UK will decide whether to extradite Assange to the US in response to allegations that he conspired with former US intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to download classified databases.

He faces up to five years in a US prison if convicted.

Wikileaks has published thousands of classified documents covering everything from the film industry to national security and war.


At the scene

By BBC correspondent Andy Moore, at Southwark Crown Court

As Julian Assange arrived at court from Belmarsh High Security prison, photographers got a picture of him defiantly pumping his fist.

He’s still got a beard but it’s been trimmed – it’s not the white, bushy beard he was wearing when he was hauled out of the Ecuadorean Embassy last month.

There’s big international interest, and more than a dozen TV cameras outside.

Journalists had to queue for two hours before the case opened to get a ticket to Court Number One, or to an overflow court where there was a videolink to the live proceedings.

Supporters of Assange are outside court making their voices heard – one has been reading from her notes saying Assange is a political prisoner.


Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionVideo footage shows Julian Assange being dragged from the Ecuadorian embassy in London

Assange was dramatically arrested by UK police on 11 April after Ecuador abruptly withdrew its asylum.

At a court hearing that same day, he was remanded in custody and called a “narcissist who cannot get beyond his own selfish interest” by district judge Michael Snow.

Days later, Swedish prosecutors said they were considering reopening the investigation into rape and sexual assault allegations against him.

At the time, Assange said he had had entirely consensual sex with two women while on a trip to Stockholm to give a lecture.

Prosecutors dropped the rape investigation in 2017 because they were unable to formally notify him of allegations while he was staying in the embassy.

Two other charges of molestation and unlawful coercion had to be dropped in 2015 because time had run out.

More than 70 UK MPs and peers have signed a letter urging Home Secretary Sajid Javid to ensure Assange faces authorities in Sweden if they want his extradition.

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Caster Semenya loses Cas appeal over new IAAF testosterone rules

Caster Semenya has won the Olympic 800m title twice and the world title three times

Caster Semenya has lost a landmark case against athletics’ governing body meaning it will be allowed to restrict testosterone levels in female runners.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas) rejected the South African’s challenge against the IAAF’s new rules.

But Cas said it had “serious concerns as to the future practical application” of the regulations.

Olympic 800m champion Semenya, 28, said in response to the ruling that the IAAF “have always targeted me specifically”.

“For a decade the IAAF has tried to slow me down, but this has actually made me stronger. The decision of Cas will not hold me back,” the statement continued.

“I will once again rise above and continue to inspire young women and athletes in South Africa and around the world.”

Previously, she had said that she wanted to “run naturally, the way I was born”.

Now she – and other athletes with differences of sexual development (DSD) – must either take medication in order to compete in track events from 400m to the mile, or change to another distance.

Cas found that the rules for athletes with DSD were discriminatory – but that the discrimination was “necessary, reasonable and proportionate” to protect “the integrity of female athletics”.

However, Cas set out serious concerns about the application of the rules, including:

  • Worries that athletes might unintentionally break the strict testosterone levels set by the IAAF;
  • Questions about the advantage higher testosterone gives athletes over 1500m and the mile;
  • The practicalities for athletes of complying with the new rules.

Cas has asked the IAAF to consider delaying the application of the rules to the 1500m and one mile events until more evidence is available.

Semenya is still eligible to compete at the Diamond League meet in Doha on Friday and can make an appeal against the Cas ruling to the Swiss Tribunal Courts within the next 30 days.

Caster Semenya posted this image on Twitter following the Cas decision

What are disorders/differences of sex development (DSD)?

People with a DSD do not develop along typical gender lines.

Their hormones, genes, reproductive organs may be a mix of male and female characteristics, which can lead to higher levels of testosterone – a hormone that increases muscle mass, strength and haemoglobin, which affects endurance.

The term “disorders” is controversial with some of those affected preferring the term “intersex” and referring to “differences in sex development”.

The new rules come into effect on 8 May, which means athletes who want to compete at September’s World Championships – also in Doha – will have to start taking medication within one week.

Those affected by the rules will have to have a blood test on 8 May to test their eligibility. A statement from the IAAF said that no athlete “will be forced to undergo any assessment” and that any treatment was up to the individual athlete.

Athletes with differences of sexual development (DSD) have higher levels of natural testosterone, which the IAAF believes gives them a competitive advantage – findings that were disputed by Semenya and her legal team.

Her lawyers had previously said her “genetic gift” should be celebrated, adding: “Women with differences in sexual development have genetic variations that are no different than other genetic variations in sport.”

They have also suggested that Semenya “does not wish to undergo medical intervention to change who she is and how she was born”.

What are the proposed changes?

The rules, applying to women in track events from 400m up to the mile, require athletes to keep their testosterone levels below a prescribed amount “for at least six months prior to competing”.

However, 100m, 200m and 100m hurdles are exempt, as are races longer than one mile and field events.

Female athletes affected must take medication for six months before they can compete, and then maintain a lower testosterone level.

The rules were intended to be brought in on 1 November 2018, but the legal challenge from Semenya and Athletics South Africa caused that to be delayed until 26 March.

The United Nations Human Rights Council has called the plans “unnecessary, harmful and humiliating” and South Africa’s sports minister called them a “human rights violation”.

What next for Semenya?

On Friday, Semenya won 5,000m gold at the South African Athletics Championships – a new distance for her, and one outside the scope of the IAAF rule change.

It was only the second time Semenya had run the distance and she finished more than 100m ahead of defending national champion Dominque Scott.

However, Scott said she was unsure whether Semenya could be a serious Olympic contender over the longer distance.

Semenya is national and Commonwealth champion at 1500m, and also broke the African 400m record in August.

Semenya wins 800m gold as Sharp comes eighth

‘Wrong in principle’ – reaction to verdict

Eighteen-time Grand Slam champion Martina Navratilova “The verdict against Semenya is dreadfully unfair to her and wrong in principle. She has done nothing wrong and it is awful that she will now have to take drugs to be able to compete. General rules should not be made from exceptional cases.”

Marathon world record holder Paula Radcliffe: “I understand how hard a decision this was for Cas and respect them for ruling that women’s sport needs rules to protect it.”

Megha Mohan, BBC Gender and Identity reporter: “The spectrum of identity stretches far beyond the binary, say human rights activists, so shouldn’t Semenya’s physical abilities be celebrated the same way as Usain Bolt’s height and Michael Phelps’s wingspan are? Either way this verdict does not signal the end of the debate.”

Timeline

  • 31 July 2009: 18-year-old Semenya runs fastest 800m time of the year to win gold at the Africa Junior Championships.
  • August 2009: Semenya undertakes a gender test before the World Championships in Berlin. She is unaware of the purpose of the test, with Athletics South Africa president Leonard Chuene telling her it is a random doping test.
  • 19 August 2009: Semenya wins 800m world gold, breaking the world-leading mark she set in July. After her victory, the news of Semenya’s gender test is leaked to the press.
  • November 2009: There are reports that Semenya’s test has revealed male and female characteristics. The results are not made public.
  • 6 July 2010: Semenya is cleared by the IAAF to compete again.
  • 22 August 2010: Semenya wins the 800m at an IAAF event in Berlin.
  • 11 August 2012: Semenya wins 800m silver at the 2012 London Olympics. This is later upgraded to gold after Russian winner Mariya Savinov is given a lifetime ban for doping violations. Semenya is also upgraded to 2011 world gold.
  • July 2014: India sprinter Dutee Chand, 18, is banned from competing after a hormone test shows natural natural levels of testosterone normally only found in men.
  • 23 March 2015: Chand begins a legal challenge against the IAAF’s so-called gender tests.
  • 27 July 2015: Chand is cleared to compete; the Court of Arbitration for Sport suspends, for two years, the introduction of an earlier version of IAAF rules requiring female athletes to take testosterone-suppressing medication.
  • 20 August 2016: Semenya wins 800m gold at the Rio Olympics, but the decision to allow her to compete is questioned by other athletes.
  • 4 July 2017: Research commissioned by the IAAF finds female athletes with high testosterone levels have a “competitive advantage”.
  • 26 April 2018: The IAAF introduces new rules for female runners with naturally high testosterone.
  • 19 June 2018: Semenya says she will challenge the “unfair” IAAF rules.
  • 18 February 2019: Semenya’s legal hearing begins at Cas.
  • 1 May 2019: Semenya loses her challenge.

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Omar at ‘Hands Off Ilhan’ Rally: Trump, GOP Created ‘Monsters’ ‘Terrorizing’ Jews and Muslims

Black Lives Matter and other anti-Trump groups held a rally on the grounds of the Capitol on Tuesday to call for President Donald Trump to be censured for what he said about Rep. Ilhan Omar’s (D-MN) controversial statement that “somebody did something” on 9-11.

People chanted ‘“Hands off Ilhan” and in a series of speeches blamed the president and Republicans for the rise of “white supremacy masked as white nationalism.”

Omar spoke at the event in praise of her homeland of Somalia and said the president and his Party are responsible for recent attacks on synagogues and mosques.

“At this moment, the occupant of the White House and his allies are doing everything that they can to distance themselves and misinform the public from the monsters that they created that is [sic] terrorizing the Jewish community and the Muslim community,” Omar said.

Omar said she is criticized because she is a Muslim woman.

“I also happen to be a refugee and immigrant from what they call one of the shithole countries,” Omar said, mocking the president for his alleged comments about war-torn countries like Somalia that drive their people out.

“The reality is that shithole country raised a very proud, dignified person,” Omar said. “Our circumstances may not always be perfect but that doesn’t lessen our humanity and I am not in the business of defending mine.”

Omar was not as complimentary of the United States.

“This is not going to be the country of the xenophobics,” Omar said. “This is not going to be the country of white people.”

“This is not going to be the country of the few,” Omar said. “This is the country of the many.”

“This is the country that was founded on the history of Native American genocide, on the backs of black slaves but also by immigrants,” Omar said.

According to her website: “Ilhan and her family fled the country’s civil war when she was eight-years-old. They lived in a refugee camp in Kenya for four years before coming to the United States, eventually settling in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood of Minneapolis in 1997.”

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A $70 billion investment manager turned the Milwaukee Bucks into a basketball powerhouse. Now he’s set on improving America’s dismal passenger trains

Hugging Florida’s Atlantic coast is a narrow strip of land with some of the country’s most recognizable attractions.

From the white sand of Miami’s South Beach and its nearby cruise ship ports, through the palm-laden groves of Broward County, all the way up through Orlando and Disney is one of the country’s most densely built metropolitan areas.

With an ever-rising ocean on one side, and the Everglades on the other, the region is quickly running out of room to expand traffic lanes and keep up with an increasing population.

Wes Edens, founder of Fortress Investment Group, a private equity and investment management firm with about $70 billion in assets under management, says that combination of space constraints and a dense urban landscape is the “perfect storm” for building passenger rail in the United States that people actually want to ride.

The 57-year-old is the largest investor in BrightLine, now branded as Virgin Trains, with help from media mogul turned travel investor Sir Richard Branson. His other bets include a 2014 purchase of the Milwaukee Bucks, currently a top-seeded Finals team, British soccer club Aston Villa, which is also on a 10-win hot streak in its race to make it back to the upper Premier League, and even a professional “League of Legends” franchise.

“I really wanted to focus on things that I have great passion for, and those things fall into the general classification of infrastructure,” Edens told Business Insider in an interview. “Infrastructure really catalyzes economic development in a very material way. Sports, in and of itself, is almost like a social infrastructure.”

Sports, in and of itself, is almost like a social infrastructure. It really provides unity, brings people together, and can rebuild downtown areas.”

That’s exactly what he’s done with the areas surrounding Milwaukee’s downtown Fiserv Forum arena, and hopes to recreate with its Downtown Miami Central station. The 3 million square-foot complex also happens to be on the site where one of Edens’ heroes — Henry Flagler of the iconic 19th century Florida East Coast railroad — built the city’s first terminal in 1896.

The original Florida East Coast Railway linked the many of Henry Flagler’s opulent Florida hotels with major American cities on the East Coast.
Wikimedia Commons

“I want to build a train station people want to get married in,” Edens said, drawing inspiration from London’s St. Pancras Eurostar terminal, housed in a grand Victorian building that’s part luxury hotel.

Eventually, trains will run from Miami through their current stops in Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach as far north as Orlando, with a three-hour journey separating theme parks from cruise ports.

Edens points to Denver as an example of transit-oriented development spurring economic activity, noting that examples like Colorado’s capital are “why we wanted to be right in the middle of Miami.”

“It’s a part of Miami that has been under invested versus the Brickell areas and some of the downtown stuff,” Edens said. “It’s thick with development activity now and I think the train’s been a big part of that.”

Too short to fly, too long to drive

American cities like Denver are only part of the story. America, after all, has long struggled to make passenger rail a viable alternative to car-clogged highways — even in dense corridors like the Northeast from Washington D.C. to Boston, via New York City. Edens and other Virgin Trains stakeholders visited dozens of city pairs comparable to Virgin Trains’ market across Europe as part of their research.

“These city pairs that are too short to fly but too long to drive are all over the world,” he said. “In Europe, the most successful by far obviously is the London to Paris Eurostar route, but there’s also Paris to Lyon, Madrid to Seville, Rome to Milan, and others.”

The key similarities — despite language or cultural barriers — between these pairs are all roughly the same: the cities are roughly 250 to 200 miles apart, with large populations at either end and in between that need to travel along the corridor.

“That gave us a lot of confidence in the route we are planning initially from Miami to Orlando, which has identical characteristics and is even more constrained in terms of the competition or what you could do by car,” Edens said.

In the most successful cases, train services between two major cities in other parts of the world are able to carry more than a quarter of total travel between the two. Virgin Trains has first set its sights on a much smaller “capture rate” of five percent, something Edens says “does not sound like a terribly aspirational goal.”

Passengers enjoy the Brightline passenger train’s inaugural trip from Miami to West Palm Beach on May 11, 2018 in Miami, Florida. Brightline welcomed the media, politicians and other dignitaries to ride on the inaugural trip for the privately funded passenger train which is running from Miami to West Palm Beach with one stop in Fort Lauderdale. The $3.1 billion project, will eventually extend its rail system to Orlando International Airport and is scheduled to be completed by January 2021.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

For now, at least, Virgin Trains seems well on its way to that goal. Its hourly departures are reasonably priced, and can make the journey from downtown Miami to West Palm Beach in about 75 minutes. The modern Siemens locomotives and sleek railcar interior evoke a much more European feel than Amtrak’s comparable rolling stock, with on-board WiFi and concessions to boot.

Fares run as cheap as $20, too, making Amtrak tickets look more like air travel reservations.

In April, the company announced it had closed a $1.75 billion private bond package sold to 67 different investors that will help fund Virgin Trains’ expansion to Orlando, with assistance from Morgan Stanley.

Edens hopes the success can be replicated, too. The company has plans for a similar project between Los Angeles and Las Vegas in the future, with eyes on roughly a dozen city pairs throughout the US that could also benefit from train travel.

“Atlanta to Charlotte would be another one,” Edens said. “Chicago to St. Louis would be maybe the most attractive of them all, and if you look at the business travel market, Houston to Dallas would be a good one too.”

Of course, it won’t be easy. California drastically slashed the scope of its planned high-speed rail project earlier this year, initially relegating the route to the Central Valley instead of the originally proposed San Francisco to Los Angeles link. Rail proponents in Texas, meanwhile, have struggled to gain possession of crucial land needed to build in the busy I-35 corridor.

Edens is optimistic, but Virgin Trains won’t be able to turn the tide on its own.

“Our investment in South Florida will be about $3 billion,” he said. “But to build it as true high-speed rail would probably be $10 billion more than that. The government has not actually made it a priority to build it themselves.”

“The model we’re using could be easily copied in different markets,” he continued.”These shorter city pairs where you can build that grade and get there in three hours could easily displace lots of automobiles and passenger flights.”

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‘Heartless’: Advocates bristle at Trump plan to charge asylum-seekers a fee

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By Suzanne Gamboa

Sarah Sherman-Stokes, an attorney who has worked with asylum-seekers for a decade, sees the Trump administration’s plan to charge fees to apply for asylum as part of its “full-throttled attack” on immigrants.

President Donald Trump signed a memo Monday calling for changes to the asylum system, including charging a fee for processing applications and work permits.

“I have clients who come to my office who haven’t eaten, many unable to make rent for their families or staying with church members or friends, hoping they’ll stay in their good graces,” said Sherman-Stokes, associate director of the Immigrants’ Rights and Human Trafficking Clinic at Boston University School of Law.

“I have clients who are so deeply traumatized, they are diagnosed with [post-traumatic stress disorder], depression, anxiety and panic attacks, it’s hard for them to leave their home, let alone work, because of the trauma and persecution they suffered in their countries,” she said.

What the administration plans to charge was not immediately known. The fee is supposed to cover the cost of processing the applications.

The president also directed his attorney general and the Department of Homeland Security to take other regulatory actions within 90 days, such as:

  • Speed up the asylum process, including a decision whether to grant it, to 180 days, excluding appeals.
  • Bar people who entered or tried to enter the United States illegally from getting work permits before being granted asylum or some other protection from deportation.
  • Charge a fee for the initial work permit

Sherman-Stokes criticized the proposal, saying it fits with other rhetoric and policy making to limit U.S. immigration to a “whiter, richer pool of immigrants.”

Her clients come from Central and South America, Ghana, Uganda, Cambodia, Russian and all over the world, she said.

Those who pay smugglers thousands of dollars to get to the border and seek asylum are in debt for that passage and “work day in and day out to pay that money,” Sherman-Stokes said. They must wait 180 days for a work permit.

“Some people are working in precarious situations, getting paid under the table to pay that money. These are people desperately living paycheck to paycheck,” she said. The situation makes them more exploitable.

Many asylum-seekers save what money they may have for lawyers to help them through the complex immigration system with hearings and documents that are not in their native language, she said.

Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-Calif., chairwoman of the House Appropriations subcommittee overseeing the Department of Homeland Security, said in a prepared statement issued Tuesday, “The president’s memo is another tragic step in the wrong direction.”

Acting DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan appeared before the subcommittee Tuesday to explain the department’s annual budget request.

McAleenan said in the hearing that processing of asylum requests was up 120 percent in 2018 over 2017 and projections are that the agency will get about 70,000 asylum requests in the 2019 fiscal year that runs from Sept. 30, 2018 to Oct. 1.

In order to request asylum, a person must claim a credible fear of being returned to their home country. The Border Patrol refers all people making such a claim for credible fear interviews to determine if they meet the criteria for a court hearing.

In fiscal year 2018, 92,959 asylum claims were made at the southwest border, up from 55,584 in the 2017 fiscal year, according to DHS statistics.

Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, a policy analyst at the American Immigration Council, a pro-immigrant group, took issue on Twitter with some of the government’s statistical claims about asylum:

Administration officials, including Trump, have repeatedly expressed frustration at U.S. laws and treaties the country has signed to provide refuge to people who are fleeing persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion.

More immigrants seeking asylum

In previous years, immigrants were mostly from Mexico, usually single men arriving to work. But in about 2013, the population began shifting to more children and families, who are asking for refuge from violence and poverty in their countries, mostly in Central America.

President Donald Trump has said that laws such as one that prohibits lengthy detention of children is being exploited by people who come with a child and request asylum, so they can be released quickly and disappear into the U.S. while they await adjudication of their cases.

Also, the DHS has complained that its border enforcement agencies are overwhelmed because of the number of people arriving at the border, lack of equipment and proper facilities to hold families, and the added demands of dealing with children. Recently, the Border Patrol kept families underneath an overpass in El Paso behind a chain-link fence while they awaited processing.

Agents’ workloads have increased because the administration has stopped taking asylum requests at legal ports of entry, that were usually handled by Customs officers. That’s led people who would usually go that route, to crossing the border illegally, outside legal ports, so that the Border Patrol is responsible for them.

“The system is full. We are well beyond our capacity,” McAleenan said at the subcommittee hearing. “This means that the new waves of vulnerable populations arriving here and exacerbating the humanitarian security crisis at the border, we don’t have room to hold them or the authority.”

McAleenan asked not only for more funding and personnel for the 2020 budget but also for additional funding sooner. “Given the scale of what we’re facing, we’ll exhaust our resources before the end of the fiscal year,” he said.

‘Heartless’

Archi Pyati, chief of policy at the Tahirih Justice Center, which assists and advocates for women and girls fleeing violence, said the proposed asylum changes will drive asylum-seekers deeper into poverty and leave them more vulnerable to victimization and being preyed on by traffickers and abusers and others.

“The current proposal is another example of downright poor policy, and it is also heartless,” Pyati said in a statement. “This scheme will fail to bring protection to those who need help and will cripple the already broken system even further.”

The U.S. charges fees for a number of applications for immigration benefits. Applying to become a citizen is $640 plus $85 for the agency to collect electronic fingerprints, signatures and a photo. The money is not refunded if a person’s application is not approved.

People who cannot afford the cost and meet certain criteria have been been able to apply for waivers of the fees. But the Trump administration has sought to limit who can qualify for the waivers.

Michelle Dubert, NBC News associate producer in Washington, contributed.

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MSNBC Venezuela Coverage Shows Why U.S. Founders Wanted Armed Citizenry

While covering Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro’s efforts to hold power, MSNBC reporter Kerry Sanders noted Maduro has the advantage of guns against an unarmed populace.

The MSBNC segment, published by The Washington Free Beacon, begins with anchor Andrea Mitchell expressing surprise that Maduro is still holding on.

Sanders responds, “Not only hanging on, but he appears to still control the military. You have to understand in Venezuela, gun ownership is not something that is open to everybody. So if the military have the guns, they have the power.”

Sanders adds, “So as long as Nicolás Maduro controls the military, he controls the country.”

U.S. Founding Father James Madison noted that one of America’s strengths was the fact that the people at large were armed. He used The Federalist No. 46 to describe “the advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation.”

He went on to explain that the people could band together to check a government that had exceeded its powers and become tyrannical. The people would do this by coming together in “militias,” with officers being “appointed” by local, “subordinate governments” to which the people were attached. Their banding together would be meaningful because the people were armed.

Without guns, the people could still band together, but their options would be limited to throwing stones, sticks, soda bottles, or whatever else they could get their hands around. In the meantime, the soldiers of the tyranny would have guns with which to overpower them, as seen in Venezuela.

AWR Hawkins is an award-winning Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News and the writer/curator of Down Range with AWR Hawkins, a weekly newsletter focused on all things Second Amendment, also for Breitbart News. He is the political analyst for Armed American Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at awrhawkins@breitbart.com. Sign up to get Down Range at breitbart.com/downrange.

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Apple’s new services ‘aren’t hobbies,’ a testy Tim Cook told analysts

Apple, it seems, is no longer interested in hobbies.

On a conference call with analysts Tuesday, Tim Cook, the company’s CEO, seemed to get a bit defensive when asked about the potential of the new services Apple announced last month. After touting the early consumer interest in Apple Card, the company’s new credit card, and the work it’s put into its new game, news, and video subscription offerings, Cook dismissed any notion that the iPhone maker merely dabbling in such services.

“We wouldn’t do a service that we didn’t think would be meaningful,” said Cook, who was speaking after the company reported its second fiscal-quarter earnings. He continued: “These aren’t hobbies.”

Read this:Apple’s shares jump 5% as its Q2 numbers beat the Street

For those with long memories, the line was both a callback and rebuke to one Cook’s predecessor, Steve Jobs, used to describe Apple TV, the company’s digital video streaming device. While Jobs initially expressed hope that the device would become a major product category for Apple, he soon started referring to it as a hobby. While Apple saw potential in the device and continued to tinker with it, the company never saw much revenue from it and the market structure for such devices made it hard for it to become a real business, Jobs explained.

Cook likewise has referred to Apple TV as a hobby. Which is what makes his statement on the call all the more striking. Apple’s new services are not the next iteration of Apple TV, he seems to be saying.

Those services have gotten a mixed reaction among analysts and experts. Some on Wall Street are enthusiastic about the collective potential of Apple’s services offerings. But other experts question how much demand there will be for them, particularly for Apple’s new TV Plus video streaming service.

That service enters a market that is filled with a growing number of competitors, including market leader Netflix, and Hollywood giant Disney, and tech rival Amazon. Unlike many of its rivals, Apple has a relatively sparse library of its own unique shows and movies.

Got a tip about Apple or another tech company? Contact this reporter via email at twolverton@businessinsider.com, message him on Twitter @troywolv, or send him a secure message through Signal at 415.515.5594. You can also contact Business Insider securely via SecureDrop.

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