Antifa targets ‘Google memo’ author James Damore’s talk at Portland State

It’s not unusual for an uproar to erupt on college campuses when a conservative such as Ben Shapiro wants to make an appearance.

But a bitter brouhaha over a Silicon Valley techie?

That’s what’s happening at Portland State University after a student group invited former Google engineer James Damore to speak on campus about diversity. Damore had the spotlight shine on him after he got fired over a 10-page Google memo he wrote criticizing the company’s internal gender diversity policies and accusing the tech giant of “alienating conservatives.”

Ex-Google employee James Damore’s speech at Portland State University on Saturday has stirred up controversy.  (Freethinkers at PSU)

Event organizer, Andy Ngo, knew there would be controversy, but didn’t expect to become a target of the sometimes-violent and virulently leftwing Antifa group, Ngo wrote in an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal.

James Damore posters

Protest flyers for the James Damore event, saying: “We have to work together to show James Damore and the PSU Freethinkers that they can’t get away with dressing up bigotry and calling it science.”  (Freethinkers at PSU)

Ngo told Fox News his group, Freethinkers of PSU, has received threats of violence and has been intimidated due to Damore’s upcoming speech on campus.

The university ended up setting up not one, but three alternative events — totaling seven hours — in anticipation of Damore’s hour-and-a-half lecture Saturday, the College Fix reported.

James Damore AltEvent

A promotion for the alternative events set up at Portland State University to counter the James Damore talk.  (Freethinkers at PSU)

Ngo called the response “overcompensation.”

Portland State spokesman, Chris Broderick, told Fox News the university rejects Damore’s “ideas as sexist stereotypes.”

Campus activists have called the students organizing Damore’s event “misogynists,” “white supremacists”, and “neo-Nazis” after a Portland-based newspaper, Williamette Week, falsely attributed quotes such as ”women can’t do math” to Damore in a piece that labeled him a “tech bro fired from Google for saying women are biologically unfit to be engineers…”

PSU faculty hosted “The True Story of Women in STEM” to challenge Damore’s “notion that women do not generate ideas because they are more concerned with feelings and aesthetics.”

Damore told Fox News his critics have misconstrued his views about women in the workplace.

Details included in the lawsuit raise concerns about contempt for conservatives.

“They’re worsening the divisions and generating outrage by misrepresenting what I’ve said,” Damore said. “I encourage any students to actually read what I’ve written, watch my interviews, and come to my event with questions and an open mind.”

The PSU philosophy professor hosting the discussion with Damore agrees.

Students at Portland State University lobbied state lawmakers for the new college payment plan. (AP)

“How many people who are upset about the memo have actually read the memo?” Peter Boghossian told Fox News. “When we’re not willing to discuss difficult, complex issues, extremists step in with solutions.”

At Saturday’s event, Damore and Boghossian will be joined by secular free-speech writer Helen Pluckrose and former Evergreen State College professors Bret Weinstein and Heather Heying, who received $540,000 from the school after racial tensions shut down the university during a “Day of Absence” last year.

Alleged Florida school shooter Nikolas Cruz was reported to FBI, cops, school — but warning signs missed

he FBI revealed Friday that they received a tip last month that Nikolas Cruz, the 19-year-old accused of killing 17 people on Valentine’s Day, had a gun, wanted to “kill people” and had the “potential of him conducting a school shooting.”

The FBI admitted it did not follow proper protocol as the information was not provided to the Miami field office and “no further investigation was conducted at the time.”

“We are still investigating the facts.  I am committed to getting to the bottom of what happened in this particular matter, as well as reviewing our processes for responding to information that we receive from the public.  It’s up to all Americans to be vigilant, and when members of the public contact us with concerns, we must act properly and quickly,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray.

Cruz had scores of run-ins with law enforcement dating back to 2010 — with one report saying sheriff’s deputies responded to his home more than 35 times in just six years.

Broward County Sheriff’s deputies received at least 36 emergency 911 calls from 80th Terrace St., in Parkland – the suburban address where the teenager lived with his younger brother, Zachary, and their adoptive mother, Lynda, BuzzFeed reported.

The calls – dating as far back as 2010 and continuing until November 2016 – shed a light on two erratic and violent boys who repeatedly “threw items,” were “out of control” and fought with their mother and each other on an apparently regular basis.

“He is a deeply troubled young man; a child that has endured significant loss,” Gordon Weekes, chief assistant for Broward County’s public defender’s office, told reporters Thursday. “He fell between the cracks and we have to try to save him now.”

Despite the repeated calls to authorities, Cruz was never arrested – and was basically cleared as being “no threat to anyone or himself,” as one therapist said in a police report from Sept. 28, 2016.

In that particular call, the sheriff’s office said Nikolas and his mother were fighting over paperwork needed for him to get an ID card

In their report, deputies detailed how the teen had been harming himself and had talked about buying a gun.

“He had been cutting his arms, his mother said, to get attention, as he learned it from an ex-girlfriend,” deputies said. “He has mentioned in the past that he would like to purchase a firearm.”

The therapist on scene, Jared Bienenfeld with Henderson Mental Health, and the deputies concluded there were “no signs of mental illness or criminal activity.”

And much like the calls before – which were placed due to reasons ranging from the brothers beating each other to Cruz, at the age of 12, threating his mother and calling her a “useless b****” – law enforcement left without taking any further action.

A public information officer with the sheriff’s office could not verify the report to Fox News early Friday morning. The sheriff’s office did not immediately respond to additional requests for comment.

Cruz was never arrested until this Valentine’s Day when he allegedly walked into Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School with a gas mask, smoke grenades and multiple magazines of ammunition before firing an AR-15 at students and faculty members.

He was charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder on Thursday and is being held without bail.

In the aftermath of the attack, revelations about the teen’s alarming warning signs appeared to be repeatedly missed — despite the cop calls, a report to the FBI based on a social media posting, his former classmates expressing fear of him and a documented history of mental health issues.


“I think everyone had in their minds if anybody was going to do it, it was going to be him,” Victoria Olvera, a 17-year-old junior at the school, told the Sun-Sentinel.

According to reports, Cruz and his brother both suffered from mental health issues, including ADHD and OCD, and took medication as treatment. Cruz’s lawyer said Thursday her client was “a broken human being” and the team was looking into an evaluation for autism. Nikolas had sought treatment at Henderson mental Health Clinic and had previously attended a school for students with behavioral problems, BuzzFeed reported.

Despite these issues, Cruz was able to legally purchase the AR-15 he used in the mass shooting. Attorney Jim Lewis told the Sun-Sentinel that the teenager already owned the gun when he moved in with his friend’s family around Thanksgiving, after his mother died this past November.

“It was his gun,” Lewis said. “The family made him keep it in a locked gun cabinet in the house but he had a key.”

Trevor Hart, 16, who knew Cruz from his Spanish class at Marjory Stoneman, told the Sun-Sentinel the alleged killer seemed “a little off” and talked about shooting lizards, squirrels and frogs.

Retirement savings: Money in accounts like IRAs, on average, now tops $100,000

'Retire Inspired' author Chris Hogan on Americans' concerns about the impact of recent market volatility on their retirement savings.

mericans may be turning into a nation of savers.

Fidelity Investments says that the average balance in its customers’ 401(k) and individual retirement accounts (IRA) accounts grew last year to least six figures, driven by a strong stock market and increasing contributions.

Fidelity said the average 401(k) balance rose to $104,300 at the end of last year, 13% higher than in the same period in 2016. Meanwhile, the average IRA balance climbed to $106,000, also a 13% year-over-year increase. That compares to the average 401(k) balance of $77,600 in the fourth quarter of 2012 and an average balance of $76,600 for IRA accounts in the same period in 2012.

Long-term 401(k) savers saw significant increases to their average account balance as well. For workers who have contributed to their retirement 401(k) for 10 consecutive years, the average account balance rose to $286,700, an increase from $233,900 from the year before. For those who have been in their 401(k) retirement plan for 15 consecutive years, the average balance rose to $387,100, up from $318,500 in the fourth quarter of 2016.

Furthermore, the number of savers with at least $1 million in their 401(k) account increased to 150,000 at the end of 2017, which is up from 93,000 a year ago, Fidelity said. The number of investors with $1 million in their IRA account climbed to 152,000, an increase from 109,000 at the end of 2016.

Fidelity found that nearly one third of 401(k) savers increased their savings rate last year, which rose to 8.6% in the fourth-quarter of 2017, a 0.2% increase from the prior year. The average IRA contribution rate increased to $1,730 in the last quarter of 2017, up from $1,590 the year before.

“It’s important for individuals to remember that saving for retirement is a marathon, not a sprint, and that applying a long-term approach to retirement savings strategy helps to put investors in a better position to reach their savings goals,” said Kevin Barry, president of workplace investing at Fidelity Investments.

In an effort to keep the progress on track and to help ensure investors aren’t over-exposed to a market downturn, the company recommends clients check the percentage of stocks within their retirement account. The company reasoned that although the rising stock market is one reason why the average retirement account balance has reached record levels, it may also result in some savers having more stock in their account than they feel comfortable with.

Fidelity also recommends investors “think twice” before tapping their retirement accounts — being aware of the potential downsides before taking out a 401(k) loan.

“For instance, the amount borrowed could miss out on potential market growth, and if someone leaves a job, the loan may have to be repaid in full in as little as 30 days,” the company said, adding that data it compiled found many investors choose to reduce their contribution rate when taking out this type of loan, which increases the negative impact on long-term savings potential.

The company also suggests people consider a “do it for me” investment option — such as a target date fund or managed account — which it says is an “increasingly popular way for individuals to leverage professional investment expertise to help them manage their retirement savings.”

“Fidelity encourages investors ‘stay the course’ when the stock market goes down, but the same approach applies when the market swings upward, as it did in 2017,” Barry said. “Most investors will likely see multiple periods of market volatility during their careers, so sticking to the retirement savings fundamentals can help keep them on the path to their retirement goals.

How to protect your retirement nest egg from market volatility

he market drop can be unnerving for anyone—especially those on the verge of retirement. However, there are many ways to protect your nest egg and counter volatility.

Chris Hogan, a financial expert and author of “Retire Inspired,” told FOX Business making sure you’re diversified is key.

“It’s very, very important that we never put all of our eggs in one basket,” Hogan told Maria Bartiromo on “Mornings with Maria.”

For those near retirement, Hogan suggests looking into growth stock mutual funds.

“Understand the mix with that, with growth, aggressive growth,” he said. “Understanding those opportunities that you have is a way to diversify.”

More From FOX Business

  • Has America become a nation of phone addicts?
  • Retirement saving: How to control credit card debt
  • Naomi Judd asks Stuart Varney for retirement advice

With the U.S. labor market near full employment and the nation seeing the lowest jobless rate in 17 years and the best wage growth since 2009, Hogan also encourages millennials to “stay calm, stay plugged in and work your plan.”

“Don’t allow this hiccup in the market to cause you to stop investing or pull money out of your 401(k),” he said. “A knee-jerk reaction today could cause you major financial losses for the future.”

Zara accused of cultural appropriation over its plaid ‘check mini skirt’

Zara is being accused of cultural appropriation on social media for its "check mini skirt," which many say looks like a lungi.

Fast fashion retailer Zara is in hot water for one of its newest designs, which is being called out on social media as an example of cultural appropriation.

The store came under fire this week for selling a plaid “check mini skirt,” which the website describes as a “flowing skirt with draped detail in the front.”

However, many were quick to point out on Twitter that the garment suspiciously resembles a lungi, or lungyi, longyi, sarong, etc., traditionally worn by people in India and other South and Southeast Asian countries.

Elizabeth Segran, a reporter for Fast Company who grew up in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia, described the lungi as a popular item worn by many people, mostly men, “who wanted something casual, cool and relaxed to wear in the equatorial heat of Southeast Asia. They’re the garment of the masses, a great equalizer, worn by both royalty and day laborers.”


Meghan Markle’s outfit at first official evening event sparks debate for breaking tradition

Meghan Markle's Alexander McQueen tuxedo-inspired separates sparked debate for breaking tradition at her first official evening event.

Meghan Markle made her first official evening debut as a soon-to-be royal, attending the Endeavor Fund Awards in London with fiance Prince Harry Thursday night. While the actress has been known to turn heads for her unlikely fashion choices in the past, her outfit for the evening’s formal event sparked debate for breaking customary royal protocol.

The former “Suits” star wore none other than a suit to a gala at Goldsmiths’ Hall celebrating “the achievements of wounded, injured and sick servicemen and women who have taken part in remarkable sporting and adventure challenges over the last year,” according to The Royal Foundation.

Markle’s tailored separates surprised many, who were expecting her to wear a more traditional dress for the occasion. Instead, she chose a tuxedo-inspired black Alexander McQueen blazer and cropped trousers, along with a Tuxe Bodysuit blouse, Manolo Blahnik heels and Prada clutch, Vogue U.K. reported.

Many people took to social media to express their disappointment in Markle’s outfit choice, calling it “underwhelming.”

Japanese woman sues government over forced sterilisation

A set of surgical instruments

A Japanese woman who was forcibly sterilised in the 1970s at the age of 15 is suing the government in the first case of its kind.

The unnamed woman is one of 25,000 people who underwent the procedure under a now-defunct eugenics law.

The victims were sterilised because they were found to be mentally ill or have conditions such as leprosy.

About 16,500 of them were allegedly operated on without consent. Some were as young as nine at the time.

The woman, who is now in her 60s, took legal action after learning she had been sterilised in 1972 after a diagnosis of “hereditary feeble-mindedness”.

She had developed mental problems after having surgery for a cleft palate as a baby, Japanese media report.

Due to side-effects from the sterilisation, she later had to have her ovaries removed.

  • Virginia eugenics victims win payout
  • America’s legacy of sterilisation
  • ‘I was sterilised against my will’

The woman is said to be seeking 11m yen ($101,000; £71,000) in damages, citing the violation of her human rights.

“We’ve had agonising days… we stood up to make this society brighter,” her sister told a press conference.

Japanese Health Minister Katsunobu Kato has refused to comment on the case, saying he does not know the details.

An official from the health ministry told AFP news agency that the government would meet individually with victims of forced sterilisation who needed support, but “has no plans to offer blanket measures” to all of them.

The eugenics law under which the operations happened was in place from 1948 to 1996.

Handheld device sequences human genome

The MinION DNA sequencer

Scientists have used a device that fits in the palm of the hand to sequence the human genome.

They say the feat, detailed in the journal Nature Biotechnology, opens up exciting possibilities for using genetics in routine medicine.

It is a far cry from the effort to sequence the first human genome which started in 1990.

The Human Genome Project took 13 years, laboratories around the world and hundreds of millions of dollars.

Since then there has been a revolution in cracking the code of life.

  • Science enters $1,000 genome era

Prof Nicholas Loman, one of the researchers and from the University of Birmingham, UK, told the BBC: “We’ve gone from a situation where you can only do genome sequencing for a huge amount of money in well equipped labs to one where we can have genome sequencing literally in your pocket just like a mobile phone.

“That gives us a really exciting opportunity to start having genome sequencing as a routine tool, perhaps something people can do in their own home.”

Sequencing technology has the potential to change the way we do medicine.

Analysing the mutated DNA of cancers could be used to pick the best treatment. Or inspecting the genetic code of bacteria could spot antibiotic resistance early.

Prof Loman used the handheld device to track the spread of Ebola during the outbreak in West Africa.


Many companies are racing to sequence DNA faster and cheaper.

The handheld device used in the study was developed by the company Oxford Nanopore.

The technology works by passing long strands of DNA through a tiny hole (the eponymous nanopore).

The building blocks of DNA are four bases known by their letters A, C, G and T. As each passes through the pore it creates a unique electrical signal that allows researchers to determine the DNA sequence.

The research group say the approach was around 99.5% accurate, but also allowed them to look at parts of human DNA that had been poorly studied.

The commonly used “short read” method of sequencing DNA involved breaking it up into short fragments, sequencing those and piecing it all back together like a jigsaw.

But the challenge is that some fragments of the genetic code look incredibly similar, so it becomes a near impossible puzzle made of identical pieces.

Prof Matthew Loose, from the University of Nottingham, UK, said the nanopore tech analysed longer strands of DNA so “we can read parts of the genome not seen before”.

This includes the tips of chromosomes – called telomeres.

Prof Loose told the BBC: “Telomere length can be quite important in cancer and ageing, it’s difficult in short reads because of the repeats, but we can see and start to map those things.”

But while the cost of the sequencing is tumbling, there remains a big barrier – being able to rapidly read the genetic code is not the same as understanding what it says.

Dr Sobia Raza, the head of science at the PHG Foundation genomics think tank, told the BBC: “Our ability to sequence whole genomes quickly and cheaply continues to improve.

“But short-term patient benefits also depend on how well and how fast we can analyse and make sense of the genomic data, and that is still quite a challenge.”

Philippines gripped by dengue vaccine fears

Philippine Under-Secretary Enrique Domingo speaks in Manila

Fears over a dengue vaccine in the Philippines have led to a big drop in immunisation rates for preventable diseases, officials have warned.

Health Under-Secretary Enrique Domingo said many parents were refusing to get their children vaccinated for polio, chicken pox and tetanus.

The fears centre on Dengvaxia, a drug developed by French company Sanofi.

Sanofi and local experts say there is no evidence linking the deaths of 14 children to the drug.

However, the company had warned last year that the vaccine could make the disease worse in some people not infected before.

Dengue fever affects more than 400 million people each year around the world. Dengvaxia is the world’s first vaccine against dengue.

The mosquito-borne disease is a leading cause of serious illness and death among children in some Asian and Latin American countries, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

What did Mr Domingo say about immunisation rates?

“Our programmes are suffering… (people) are scared of all vaccines now”, he warned.

Mr Domingo added that vaccination rates for some preventable diseases had dropped as much as 60% in recent years – significantly lower that the nationwide target of 85%.

Mr Domingo expressed concerns about potential epidemics in the Philippines – a nation of about 100 million people, many of whom are impoverished.

What triggered fears about Dengvaxia?

More than 800,000 children were vaccinated across the country in 2016-17. Fourteen of them have died.

Dengvaxia immunisations were halted last year, as the Philippines launched an investigation into what caused the deaths.

On Saturday, Doctors for Public Welfare (DPW) said a clinical review conducted by Philippine General Hospital forensic pathologists had determined that the deaths were not linked to the vaccine, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported.

What about Sanofi’s reaction?

In a statement, the French company said: “The University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital expert panel confirmed… that there is currently no evidence directly linking the Dengvaxia vaccine to any of the 14 deaths.

“In Dengvaxia clinical trials conducted over more than a decade and the over one million doses of the vaccine administered, no deaths related to the vaccine have been reported to us.

“Clinical evidence confirms dengue vaccination in the Philippines will provide a net reduction in dengue disease.”

Last November, Sanofi announced that its vaccine could worsen the potentially deadly disease in people not previously infected.

“For those not previously infected by dengue virus, however, the analysis found that in the longer term, more cases of severe disease could occur following vaccination upon a subsequent dengue infection,” the firm said in a statement.

Sanofi says Dengvaxia has been registered in 19 countries and launched in 11 of them.

In its latest advice on the vaccine, the WHO said that “until a full review has been conducted, WHO recommends vaccination only in individuals with a documented past dengue infection”.

Recent vaccine controversies:

  • ‘Anti-vax’ movement: activities in the past few years by fringe campaigners against immunisation – particularly for measles – lead to falling immunisation rates in France, Italy and the US
  • Polio: Islamist militants in Pakistan have carried out attacks against workers vaccinating children in recent years. The militants say immunisation is a Western campaign to sterilise Pakistani children
  • MMR (measles, mumps and rubella): starts with a publication of a 1998 paper falsely linking the vaccine to autism. This leads to a drop in immunisation rates in the UK and the Republic of Ireland.

US jobs and wages rise in January

US factory worker

The US labour market barrelled forward in January, as employers added more jobs than expected and wage growth was its strongest in more than eight years.

US payrolls expanded by 200,000 last month, driven by hiring in construction, food services and health care, the US Labor Department said.

The average hourly wage for private sector workers crept up 2.9% compared to January 2017.

The unemployment rate held steady at 4.1%.

Economists have puzzled over lacklustre wage growth, which has lagged in prior months despite the decline in the unemployment rate.

Without higher wages, economists have warned that economic growth will be difficult to sustain, since consumer spending plays a large role in the US economy.

The Labor Department report, released on Friday, showed average hourly earnings for private sector workers rose 9 cents in January, to $26.74. For the year, the increase was 75 cents.

The wage uptick coincided with mandatory minimum pay increases in 18 states. Major employers such as Walmart have also said they planned to boost earnings or provide bonuses.

Those factors may have helped lift last month’s numbers, but they make it harder to say if the increases will continue, said Lindsey Piezga, chief economist for fixed income at Stifel, based in Chicago.

“While that is encouraging, what we really need to see is sustained wage growth, not one-off, month-to-month volatility,” she said.

Other data in the report was a reminder that monthly gains can be fleeting.

For example, the unemployment rate among black workers jumped in January to 7.7%, rising after falling to a record low of 6.8% in December.

President Donald Trump had trumpeted that decline as evidence of economic improvement.

Slowing momentum?

The US is now in its ninth year of expansion and has been adding jobs steadily since 2010.

The increases in January occurred across most industries, a sign of solid growth.

The pace of hiring is slowing, however.

Over the last three months, payrolls increased by an average of 192,000 jobs, compared to over 200,000 in the same period the prior year.

“I don’t think we should be too excited about this,” said Ms Piezga.

“The momentum of the US economy is waning. We’re still talking about positive growth, positive job creation, but at a slower pace.”

Economists have said some slowdown in job creation is to be expected as new workers become harder to find.

Despite a relatively high number of job openings, participation in the labour force has remained stuck below 63%, several percentage points lower than it was before the financial crisis.

US stock indexes slid after the report.

Analysts said part of the decline was due to investor reaction to the wage increase, which is likely to keep the Federal Reserve on track to raise interest rates – and could make policymakers move more aggressively.

The Fed is one of several central banks that are turning from policies that were designed to boost economic activity in the aftermath of the financial crisis.