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Paul Manafort, American Hustler - The Atlantic
Fri, 23 Feb 2018 14:18
I. The Wisdom of FriendsThe clinic permitted Paul Manafort one 10-minute call each day. And each day, he would use it to ring his wife from Arizona, his voice often soaked in tears. ''Apparently he sobs daily,'' his daughter Andrea, then 29, texted a friend. During the spring of 2015, Manafort's life had tipped into a deep trough. A few months earlier, he had intimated to his other daughter, Jessica, that suicide was a possibility. He would ''be gone forever,'' she texted Andrea.
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His work, the source of the status he cherished, had taken a devastating turn. For nearly a decade, he had counted primarily on a single client, albeit an exceedingly lucrative one. He'd been the chief political strategist to the man who became the president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, with whom he'd developed a highly personal relationship. Manafort would swim naked with his boss outside his banya, play tennis with him at his palace (''Of course, I let him win,'' Manafort made it known), and generally serve as an arbiter of power in a vast country. One of his deputies, Rick Gates, once boasted to a group of Washington lobbyists, ''You have to understand, we've been working in Ukraine a long time, and Paul has a whole separate shadow government structure '... In every ministry, he has a guy.'' Only a small handful of Americans'--oil executives, Cold War spymasters'--could claim to have ever amassed such influence in a foreign regime. The power had helped fill Manafort's bank accounts; according to his recent indictment, he had tens of millions of dollars stashed in havens like Cyprus and the Grenadines.
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SubscribeManafort had profited from the sort of excesses that make a country ripe for revolution. And in the early months of 2014, protesters gathered on the Maidan, Kiev's Independence Square, and swept his patron from power. Fearing for his life, Yanukovych sought protective shelter in Russia. Manafort avoided any harm by keeping a careful distance from the enflamed city. But in his Kiev office, he'd left behind a safe filled with papers that he would not have wanted to fall into public view or the wrong hands.
Money, which had always flowed freely to Manafort and which he'd spent more freely still, soon became a problem. After the revolution, Manafort cadged some business from former minions of the ousted president, the ones who hadn't needed to run for their lives. But he complained about unpaid bills and, at age 66, scoured the world (Hungary, Uganda, Kenya) for fresh clients, hustling without any apparent luck. Andrea noted her father's ''tight cash flow state,'' texting Jessica, ''He is suddenly extremely cheap.'' His change in spending habits was dampening her wedding plans. For her ''wedding weekend kick off'' party, he suggested scaling back the menu to hot dogs and eliminated a line item for ice.
He seemed unwilling, or perhaps unable, to access his offshore accounts; an FBI investigation scrutinizing his work in Ukraine had begun not long after Yanukovych's fall. Meanwhile, a Russian oligarch named Oleg Deripaska had been after Manafort to explain what had happened to an $18.9 million investment in a Ukrainian company that Manafort had claimed to have made on his behalf.
Manafort had been dodging Deripaska. The Russian oligarch wanted to know what had become of his money.Manafort had known Deripaska for years, so he surely understood the oligarch's history. Deripaska had won his fortune by prevailing in the so-called aluminum wars of the 1990s, a corpse-filled struggle, one of the most violent of all the competitions for dominance in a post-Soviet industry. In 2006, the U.S. State Department had revoked Deripaska's visa, reportedly out of concern over his ties to organized crime (which he has denied). Despite Deripaska's reputation, or perhaps because of it, Manafort had been dodging the oligarch's attempts to contact him. As Deripaska's lawyers informed a court in 2014 while attempting to claw back their client's money, ''It appears that Paul Manafort and Rick Gates have simply disappeared.''
Nine months after the Ukrainian revolution, Manafort's family life also went into crisis. The nature of his home life can be observed in detail because Andrea's text messages were obtained last year by a ''hacktivist collective'''--most likely Ukrainians furious with Manafort's meddling in their country'--which posted the purloined material on the dark web. The texts extend over four years (2012''16) and 6 million words. Manafort has previously confirmed that his daughter's phone was hacked and acknowledged the authenticity of some texts quoted by Politico and The New York Times. Manafort and Andrea both declined to comment on this article. Jessica could not be reached for comment.
Collectively, the texts show a sometimes fraught series of relationships, by turns loving and manipulative. Manafort was generous with his family financially'--he'd invested millions in Jessica's film projects, and millions more in her now-ex-husband's real-estate ventures. But when he called home in tears or threatened suicide in the spring of 2015, he was pleading for his marriage. The previous November, as the cache of texts shows, his daughters had caught him in an affair with a woman more than 30 years his junior. It was an expensive relationship. According to the text messages, Manafort had rented his mistress a $9,000-a-month apartment in Manhattan and a house in the Hamptons, not far from his own. He had handed her an American Express card, which she'd used to good effect. ''I only go to luxury restaurants,'' she once declared on a friend's fledgling podcast, speaking expansively about her photo posts on social media: caviar, lobster, haute cuisine.
The affair had been an unexpected revelation. Manafort had nursed his wife after a horseback-riding accident had nearly killed her in 1997. ''I always marveled at how patient and devoted he was with her during that time,'' an old friend of Manafort's told me. But after the exposure of his infidelity, his wife had begun to confess simmering marital issues to her daughters. Manafort had committed to couples therapy but, the texts reveal, that hadn't prevented him from continuing his affair. Because he clumsily obscured his infidelity'--and because his mistress posted about their travels on Instagram'--his family caught him again, six months later. He entered the clinic in Arizona soon after, according to Andrea's texts. ''My dad,'' she wrote, ''is in the middle of a massive emotional breakdown.''
By the early months of 2016, Manafort was back in greater Washington, his main residence and the place where he'd begun his career as a political consultant and lobbyist. But his attempts at rehabilitation'--of his family life, his career, his sense of self-worth'--continued. He began to make a different set of calls. As he watched the U.S. presidential campaign take an unlikely turn, he saw an opportunity, and he badly wanted in. He wrote Donald Trump a crisp memo listing all the reasons he would be an ideal campaign consigliere'--and then implored mutual friends to tout his skills to the ascendant candidate.
Shortly before the announcement of his job inside Trump's campaign, Manafort touched base with former colleagues to let them know of his professional return. He exuded his characteristic confidence, but they surprised him with doubts and worries. Throughout his long career, Manafort had advised powerful men'--U.S. senators and foreign supreme commanders, imposing generals and presidents-for-life. He'd learned how to soothe them, how to bend their intransigent wills with his calmly delivered, diligently researched arguments. But Manafort simply couldn't accept the wisdom of his friends, advice that he surely would have dispensed to anyone with a history like his own'--the imperative to shy away from unnecessary attention.
His friends, like all Republican political operatives of a certain age, could recite the legend of Paul Manafort, which they did with fascination, envy, and occasional disdain. When Manafort had arrived in Washington in the 1970s, the place reveled in its shabby glories, most notably a self-satisfied sense of high duty. Wealth came in the form of Georgetown mansions, with their antique imperfections and worn rugs projecting power so certain of itself, it needn't shout. But that old boarding-school establishment wasn't Manafort's style. As he made a name for himself, he began to dress differently than the Brooks Brothers crowd on K Street, more European, with funky, colorful blazers and collarless shirts. If he entertained the notion, say, of moving his backyard swimming pool a few feet, nothing stopped him from the expense. Colleagues, amused by his sartorial quirks and his cosmopolitan lifestyle, referred to him as ''the Count of Monte Cristo.''
His acts of rebellion were not merely aesthetic. Manafort rewrote the rules of his adopted city. In the early '80s, he created a consulting firm that ignored the conventions that had previously governed lobbying. When it came to taking on new clients, he was uninhibited by moral limits. In 2016, his friends might not have known the specifics of his Cyprus accounts, all the alleged off-the-books payments to him captured in Cyrillic ledgers in Kiev. But they knew enough to believe that he could never sustain the exposure that comes with running a presidential campaign in the age of opposition research and aggressive media. ''The risks couldn't have been more obvious,'' one friend who attempted to dissuade him from the job told me. But in his frayed state, these warnings failed to register.
When Paul Manafort officially joined the Trump campaign, on March 28, 2016, he represented a danger not only to himself but to the political organization he would ultimately run. A lifetime of foreign adventures didn't just contain scandalous stories, it evinced the character of a man who would very likely commandeer the campaign to serve his own interests, with little concern for the collective consequences.
Over the decades, Manafort had cut a trail of foreign money and influence into Washington, then built that trail into a superhighway. When it comes to serving the interests of the world's autocrats, he's been a great innovator. His indictment in October after investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller alleges money laundering, false statements, and other acts of personal corruption. (He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.) But Manafort's role in Mueller's broader narrative remains carefully guarded, and unknown to the public. And his personal corruption is less significant, ultimately, than his lifetime role as a corrupter of the American system. That he would be accused of helping a foreign power subvert American democracy is a fitting coda to his life's story.
II. The Young Man and His MachineIn the spring of 1977, a 28-year-old Paul Manafort sat at a folding table in a hotel suite in Memphis. Photos from that time show him with a Tom Selleck mustache and meaningful sideburns. He was surrounded by phones that he'd specially installed for the weekend. The desk held his copious binders, which he called ''whip books.'' Eight hundred delegates had gathered to elect a new leader of the Young Republicans organization, and Manafort, a budding kingmaker, had compiled a dossier on each one. Those whip books provided the basis for deal making. To wheedle and cajole delegates, it helped to have an idea of what job they wanted in return for their support.
Control over the Young Republicans'--a political and social network for professionals ages 18 to 40'--was a genuine prize in those days. Presidential hopefuls sought to harness the group. This was still the era of brokered presidential conventions, and Young Republicans could descend in numbers sufficient to dominate the state meetings that selected delegates. In 1964, the group's efforts had arguably secured Barry Goldwater the GOP nomination; by the '70s every Republican aspirant understood its potency. The attention paid by party elders yielded opportunities for Young Republican leaders. Patronage flowed in their direction. To seize the organization was to come into possession of a baby Tammany.
In Memphis, Manafort was working on behalf of his friend Roger Stone, now best known as a pioneer in opposition research and a promiscuous purveyor of conspiracy theories. He managed Stone's candidacy for chairman of the group. Stone, then 24, reveled in the fact that he'd received his political education during Richard Nixon's reelection campaign in 1972; he even admitted to playing dirty tricks to benefit his idol. Stone and Manafort had met through College Republicans. They shared a home state, an affection for finely tailored power suits, and a deeper love of power itself. Together, they campaigned with gleeful ruthlessness.
Even at this early stage in his career, Manafort had acquired a remarkable skill for managing a gathering of great size. He knew how to command an army of loyalists, who took his orders via walkie-talkie. And he knew how to put on a show. In Memphis that year, he rented a Mississippi River paddleboat for a booze cruise and dispatched his whips to work over wavering delegates within its floating confines. To the Young Republican elite, the faction Manafort controlled carried a name that conveyed his expectation of unfailing loyalty: the Team. And in the face of the Team's prowess, Stone's rival eventually quit the race, mid-convention. ''It's all been scripted in the back room,'' he complained.
Manafort had been bred for politics. While he was in high school, his father, Paul Manafort Sr., became the mayor of New Britain, Connecticut, and Manafort Jr. gravitated toward the action'--joining a mock city council, campaigning for the gubernatorial candidate Thomas Meskill as part of his Kiddie Corps. For college and law school, he chose Georgetown University, a taxi ride from the big time.
In the '70s, the big time was embodied by James A. Baker III, the shrewdest Republican insider of his generation. During the epic Republican National Convention of 1976, Manafort holed up with Baker in a trailer outside the Kemper Arena, in Kansas City, Missouri. They attempted to protect Gerald Ford's renomination bid in the face of Ronald Reagan's energetic challenge; Manafort wrangled delegates on Baker's behalf. From Baker, he learned the art of ostentatious humility, how to use the knife to butter up and then stab in the back. ''He was studying at the feet of the master,'' Jeff Bell, a Reagan campaign aide, remembers.
By the late '70s, Manafort and Stone could foresee Ronald Reagan's ascendance, and both intended to become players in his 1980 campaign. For Manafort, this was an audacious volte-face. By flipping his allegiance from the former Ford faction, he provoked suspicion among conservatives, who viewed him as a rank opportunist. There was little denying that the Young Republicans made an ideal vehicle for his ambitions.
Paul Manafort (left), Roger Stone (center), and Lee Atwater (right) in 1985. Their efforts helped transform how Washington works. (Harry Naltchayan / The Washington Post / Getty)These ambitions left a trail of damage, including an Alabama lawyer named Neal Acker. During the Memphis convention, Acker had served as a loyal foot soldier on the Team, organizing the southern delegates on Stone's behalf. In return, Manafort and Stone had promised to throw the Team behind Acker's campaign to replace Stone as the head of the Young Republicans two years later, in 1979. Manafort would manage the campaign himself.
But as the moment of Acker's coronation approached, Manafort suddenly conditioned his plan. If Acker wanted the job, he had to swear loyalty to Reagan. When Acker ultimately balked'--he wanted to stay neutral'--Manafort turned on him with fury, ''an unprecedented 11th-hour move,'' the Associated Press reported. In the week leading up to the 1979 Young Republicans convention, Manafort and Stone set out to destroy Acker's candidacy. At Manafort's urging, the delegates who were pledged to Acker bolted'--and Manafort took over his opponent's campaign. In a bravura projection of power that no one in the Reagan campaign could miss, Manafort swung the vote sharply against Acker, 465 to 180. ''It was one of the great fuck jobs,'' a Manafort whip told me recently.
Not long after that, Stone and Manafort won the crucial positions in the Reagan operation that they'd coveted. Stone directed the campaign in the Northeast, Manafort in the South. The campaign had its share of infighting; both men survived factional schisms and purges. ''They were known as the Young Republican whizzes,'' Jeff Bell told me. Their performance positioned them for inner-sanctum jobs in the Reagan administration, but they had even grander plans.
III. The Firm'(C)During the years that followed World War II, Washington's most effective lobbyists transcended the transactional nature of their profession. Men such as Abe Fortas, Clark Clifford, Bryce Harlow, and Thomas Corcoran were known not as grubby mercenaries but as elegant avatars of a permanent establishment, lauded as ''wise men.'' Lobbying hardly carried a stigma, because there was so little of it. When the legendary lawyer Tommy Boggs registered himself as a lobbyist, in 1967, his name was only 64th on the active list. Businesses simply didn't consider lobbying a necessity. Three leading political scientists had studied the profession in 1963 and concluded: ''When we look at the typical lobby, we find its opportunities to maneuver are sharply limited, its staff mediocre, and its typical problem not the influencing of Congressional votes but finding the clients and contributors to enable it to survive at all.''
On the cusp of the Reagan era, Republican lobbyists were particularly enfeebled. Generations of Democratic majorities in Congress had been terrible for business. The scant tribe of Republican lobbyists working the cloakrooms included alumni of the Nixon and Ford administrations; operating under the shame-inducing cloud of Watergate, they were disinclined toward either ambition or aggression.
This was the world that brash novices like Manafort and Stone quickly came to dominate. The Reagan administration represented a break with the old Republican establishment. After the long expansion of the regulatory state, business finally had a political partner eager to dismantle it'--which generated unprecedented demand for lobbyists. Manafort could convincingly claim to know the new administration better than anyone. During its transition to power, he was the personnel coordinator in the Office of Executive Management, which meant that he'd stacked the incoming government with his people.* Along with Stone and Charlie Black, another veteran of the Young Republican wars, he set up a firm, Black, Manafort and Stone, which soon compiled an imposing client list: Bethlehem Steel, the Tobacco Institute, Johnson & Johnson, Trans World Airlines.
Whereas other firms had operated in specialized niches'--lobbying, consulting, public relations'--Black, Manafort and Stone bundled all those services under one roof, a deceptively simple move that would eventually help transform Washington. Time magazine deemed the operation ''the ultimate supermarket of influence peddling.'' Fred Wertheimer, a good-government advocate, described this expansive approach as ''institutionalized conflict of interest.''
The linkage of lobbying to political consulting'--the creation of what's now known as a double-breasted operation'--was the real breakthrough. Manafort's was the first lobbying firm to also house political consultants. (Legally, the two practices were divided into different companies, but they shared the same founding partners and the same office space.) One venture would run campaigns; the other would turn around and lobby the politicians whom their colleagues had helped elect. The consulting side hired the hard-edged operative Lee Atwater, notorious for pioneering race-baiting tactics on behalf of Strom Thurmond. ''We're getting into servicing what we sell,'' Atwater told his friends. Just as imagined, the firm's political clients (Jesse Helms, Phil Gramm, Arlen Specter) became reliable warhorses when the firm needed them to promote the agendas of its corporate clients. With this evolution of the profession, the effectiveness and influence of lobbying grew in tandem.
In 1984, the firm reached across the aisle. It made a partner of Peter Kelly, a former finance chairman of the Democratic National Committee, who had earned the loyalty of lawmakers by raising millions for their campaigns. Some members of the firm worked for Democratic Senate candidates in Louisiana, Vermont, and Florida, even as operatives down the hall worked for their Republican foes. ''People said, 'It's un-American,''‰'' Kelly told me. '''‰'They can't lose. They have both sides.' I kept saying, 'How is it un-American to win?''‰'' This sense of invincibility permeated the lobbying operation too. When Congress passed tax-reform legislation in 1986, the firm managed to get one special rule inserted that saved Chrysler-Mitsubishi $58 million; it wrangled another clause that reaped Johnson & Johnson $38 million in savings. Newsweek pronounced the firm ''the hottest shop in town.''
Manafort's lobbying firm exuded the decadent spirit of the '80s. ''Excess Is Best'' was the theme of one annual gathering.Demand for its services rose to such heights that the firm engineered a virtual lock on the 1988 Republican primary. Atwater became the chief strategist for George H. W. Bush; Black worked with Bob Dole; Stone advised Jack Kemp. A congressional staffer joked to Time, ''Why have primaries for the nomination? Why not have the candidates go over to Black, Manafort and Stone and argue it out?'' Manafort cultivated this perception. In response to a questionnaire in The Washington Times, he declared Machiavelli the person he would most like to meet.
Despite his young age, Manafort projected the sort of confidence that inspires others to have confidence, a demeanor often likened to that of a news anchor. ''He is authoritative, and you never see a chink in the armor,'' one of his longtime deputies, Philip Griffin, told me. Manafort wrote well, especially in proposals to prospective clients, and excelled at thinking strategically. Name-dropping never substituted for concrete steps that would bolster a client. ''If politics has done anything, it's taught us to treat everything as a campaign,'' he once declared. He toiled for clients with unflagging intensity. His wife once quipped, according to the text messages, that Andrea was conceived between conference calls. He ''hung up the phone, looked at his watch, and said, 'Okay, we have 20 minutes until the next one,''‰'' Andrea wrote to her then-fianc(C).
The firm exuded the decadent spirit of the 1980s. Each year, it hosted a golf outing called Boodles, after the gin brand. ''It would have to move almost every year, because we weren't invited back,'' John Donaldson, an old friend of Manafort's who worked at the firm, says. ''A couple of women in the firm complained that they weren't ever invited. I told them they didn't want to be.'' As the head of the firm's ''social committee,'' Manafort would supply a theme for the annual gatherings. His masterwork was a three-year progression: ''Excess,'' followed by ''Exceed Excess,'' capped by ''Excess Is Best.''
Partners at the firm let it be known to The Washington Post that they each intended to take home at least $450,000 in 1986 (a little more than $1 million today). ''All of a sudden they came into a lot of money, and I don't think any of them were used to earning the money that we were earning,'' Kelly said. Senior partners were given luxury cars and a membership to the country club of their choosing. Manafort would fly the Concorde to Europe and back as if it were the Acela to New York. ''I must confess,'' Atwater swooned to The Washington Post, ''after four years on a government payroll, I'm delighted with my new life style.''
Manafort with the Republican presidential nominee Bob Dole at the 1996 GOP convention, which Manafort managed (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times / Getty)The firm hired kids straight out of college'--''wheel men'' in the office vernacular'--to drive the partners around town. When Roger Stone's old hero, Richard Nixon, came to Washington, the wheel men would shuttle him about.
Many of these young associates would eventually climb the firm's ladder, and were often dispatched to manage campaigns on the firm's behalf. Climbing the ladder, however, in most cases required passing what came to be known as Manafort's ''loyalty tests'''--challenging tasks that strayed outside the boundaries of standard professional commitment and demonstrated the control that Manafort expected to exert over the associates' lives. At the last minute, he might ask a staffer to entertain his visiting law-school buddies, never mind that the staffer had never met them before. For one Saint Patrick's Day party, he gave two junior staffers 24 hours to track down a plausible impersonator of Billy Barty, the 3-foot-9-inch actor who made movies with Mickey Rooney and Chevy Chase'--which they did. ''This was in the days before the internet,'' one of them told me. ''Can you imagine how hard that was?''
IV. Man of the WorldBy the 1990s, the double-digit list of registered lobbyists that Tommy Boggs had joined back in 1967 had swelled to more than 10,000. Black, Manafort, Stone and Kelly had greatly abetted that transformation, and stood to profit from the rising flood of corporate money into the capital. But by then, domestic politics had begun to feel a little small, a bit too unexotic, for Paul Manafort, whom Charlie Black described to me as a self-styled ''adventurer.''
Manafort had long befriended ambitious young diplomats at the trailhead to power, including Prince Bandar bin Sultan Al Saud, then the Saudi ambassador to Washington. When Bandar attended the 1984 Republican National Convention, Manafort dedicated a small group of advance men to smooth his way. Manafort arranged for Bandar to arrive at the presidential entrance, then had him whisked to seats in the vice-presidential box.
Foreign lobbying had certainly existed before the '80s, but it was limited in scale and operated under a penumbra of suspicion. Just before World War II, Congress had passed the Foreign Agents Registration Act, largely in response to the campaigns orchestrated by Ivy Lee, an American publicist hired by the German Dye Trust to soften the image of the Third Reich. Congress hadn't outlawed influence peddling on behalf of foreign interests, but the practice sat on the far fringes of K Street.
Paul Manafort helped change that. The Reagan administration had remade the contours of the Cold War, stepping up the fight against communism worldwide by funding and training guerrilla armies and right-wing military forces, such as the Nicaraguan contras and the Afghan mujahideen. This strategy of military outsourcing'--the Reagan Doctrine'--aimed to overload the Soviet Union with confrontations that it couldn't sustain.
All of the money Congress began spending on anti-communist proxies represented a vast opportunity. Iron-fisted dictators and scruffy commandants around the world hoped for a share of the largesse. To get it, they needed help refining their image, so that Congress wouldn't look too hard at their less-than-liberal tendencies. Other lobbyists sought out authoritarian clients, but none did so with the focused intensity of Black, Manafort, Stone and Kelly. The firm would arrange for image-buffing interviews on American news programs; it would enlist allies in Congress to unleash money. Back home, it would help regimes acquire the whiff of democratic legitimacy that would bolster their standing in Washington.
The firm won clients because it adeptly marketed its ties to the Reagan administration, and then the George H. W. Bush administration after that. In one proposal, reported in The New York Times in 1988, the firm advertised its ''personal relationships'' with officials and promised to ''upgrade'' back channels ''in the economic and foreign policy spheres.'' No doubt it helped to have a friend in James Baker, especially after he became the secretary of state under Bush. ''Baker would send the firm clients,'' Kelly remembered. ''He wanted us to help lead these guys in a better direction.''
But moral improvement never really figured into Manafort's calculus. ''Generally speaking, I would focus on how to bring the client in sync with western European or American values,'' Kelly told me. ''Paul took the opposite approach.'' (Kelly and Manafort have not spoken in recent years; the former supported Hillary Clinton in the last presidential campaign.) In her memoir, Riva Levinson, a managing director at the firm from 1985 to 1995, wrote that when she protested to her boss that she needed to believe in what she was doing, Manafort told her that it would ''be my downfall in this business.'' The firm's client base grew to include dictatorial governments in Nigeria, Kenya, Zaire, Equatorial Guinea, Saudi Arabia, and Somalia, among others. Manafort's firm was a primary subject of scorn in a 1992 report issued by the Center for Public Integrity called ''The Torturers' Lobby.''
The firm's international business accelerated when the Philippines became a client, in 1985. President Ferdinand Marcos desperately needed a patina of legitimacy: The 1983 assassination of the chief opposition leader, Benigno Aquino Jr., had imperiled U.S. congressional support for his regime. Marcos hired Manafort to lift his image; his wife, Imelda, personally delivered an initial payment of $60,000 to the firm while on a trip to the States. When Marcos called a snap election to prove his democratic bona fides in 1986, Manafort told Time, ''What we've tried to do is make it more of a Chicago-style election and not Mexico's.'' The quip was honest, if unintentionally so. In the American political lexicon, Chicago-style elections were generally synonymous with mass voter fraud. The late pollster Warren Mitofsky traveled to the Philippines with CBS News to set up and conduct an exit poll for the election. When he returned, he told the political scientist Sam Popkin the story of how a representative of Manafort's firm had asked him, ''What sort of margin might make a Marcos victory legitimate?'' The implication was clear, Popkin told me: ''How do we rig this thing and still satisfy the Americans?''
The firm's most successful right-wing makeover was of the Angolan guerrilla leader Jonas Savimbi, a Maoist turned anti-communist insurgent, whose army committed atrocities against children and conscripted women into sexual slavery. During the general's 1986 trip to New York and Washington, Manafort and his associates created what one magazine called ''Savimbi Chic.'' Dressed in a Nehru suit, Savimbi was driven around in a stretch limousine and housed in the Waldorf-Astoria and the Grand Hotel, projecting an image of refinement. The firm had assiduously prepared him for the mission, sending him monthly reports on the political climate in Washington. According to The Washington Post, ''He was meticulously coached on everything from how to answer his critics to how to compliment his patrons.'' Savimbi emerged from his tour as a much-championed ''freedom fighter.'' When the neoconservative icon Jeane Kirkpatrick introduced Savimbi at the American Enterprise Institute, she declared that he was a ''linguist, philosopher, poet, politician, warrior '... one of the few authentic heroes of our time.''
This was a racket'--Savimbi paid the firm $600,000 in 1985 alone'--that Black, Manafort, Stone and Kelly did its best to keep alive; the firm's own business was tied to Savimbi's continued rebellion against Angola's leftist regime. As the country stood on the brink of peace talks in the late '80s, after nearly 15 years of bloody civil war, the firm helped secure fresh batches of arms for its client, emboldening Savimbi to push forward with his military campaign. Former Senator Bill Bradley wrote in his memoir, ''When Gorbachev pulled the plug on Soviet aid to the Angolan government, we had absolutely no reason to persist in aiding Savimbi. But by then he had hired an effective Washington lobbying firm.'' The war continued for more than a decade, killing hundreds of thousands of Angolans.
V. The Family Business''Paul's not especially ideological,'' his former partner Charlie Black told me recently. Many of Manafort's colleagues at Black, Manafort, Stone and Kelly professed to believe in the conservative catechism. Words like freedom and liberty flowed through their everyday musings. But Manafort seldom spoke of first principles or political ideals. He descends from a different kind of political lineage, and in his formative experience one can see the makings of his worldview.
Back in the '60s, Manafort's hometown, New Britain, Connecticut, was known as Hardware City. It housed the factory that turned out Stanley tools and was a tangle of ethnic enclaves'--Poles, Italians, Irish, Ukrainians. Nancy Johnson, who served New Britain in Congress, told me that when she arrived in the city during those years, she couldn't believe how little it interacted with the outside world. ''It was a small city and very ingrown. When my kids were in high school, the number of their classmates who hadn't been to Hartford was stunning.'' Hartford, the state capital, is a 15-minute drive from New Britain.
In 1919, not long after the Manaforts emigrated from Naples, the family founded a demolition company, New Britain House Wrecking, which eventually became Manafort Brothers, a force in local construction. When Manafort's father, Paul Sr., ran for mayor in 1965, he was a lonely Republican attempting to seize a blue bastion. But he had the schmoozing gene, as well as an unmistakable fierceness. Paul Carver, a former New Britain City Council member and a prot(C)g(C) of the old man, told me, ''It was like going to the bar with your grandfather. He would stick his hand out and buy a round of drinks. He knew almost everybody in town.'' Paul Jr., known as P.J. to his friends, idolized his dad, plunging himself into the campaign, whose success he would decades later describe as ''magic.'' Over the years, he would remain a devoted son. All the partners in his firm came to know his father, running into him at parties that P.J. hosted in his Mount Vernon, Virginia, home. ''He was dedicated to him,'' Nancy Johnson told me.
The elder Manafort's outsize capacity for charm made him the sort of figure whose blemishes tend to be wiped from public memory. But in 1981, he was charged with perjury for testimony that he had provided in a municipal corruption investigation. New Britain police had been accused of casting a blind eye toward illegal gambling in the city'--and of tampering with evidence to protect Joseph ''Pippi'' Guerriero, a member of the DeCavalcante crime family.
Several investigations into the tampering drilled through New Britain's rotten government. The most devastating report came from Palmer McGee, a Hartford lawyer hired by New Britain to sort through its muck. In his findings, he pointed a finger straight at Manafort Sr., calling him the person ''most at fault.'' According to the testimony of a whistle-blower, Manafort had flatly announced that he wanted to hire someone ''flexible'' to manage his personnel office, a place that would ''not [be] 100 percent by the rules.'' The whistle-blower also testified that he had delivered an envelope to Manafort's home containing the answers to the exam that aspiring police officers had to pass'--and that Manafort had given it to two candidates via a relative. Manafort never denied receiving the envelope but insisted that he'd merely asked for ''boning-up materials.''
A statute of limitations precluded prosecutors from filing charges against Manafort for the alleged crime of test-fixing'--and ultimately he was never convicted of perjury. But his arrest caused the Hartford Courant to compile a list of dealings that reflected badly on him: ''Throughout his more than twenty years in public life, he has been the focus of controversy, and several accusations of wrongdoing.'' The litany includes a complaint with the Department of Housing and Urban Development accusing him of steering contracts to Manafort Brothers, whose stock he still owned while mayor. When investors from Florida built a jai alai arena in Bridgeport'--using the Teamsters' pension fund to finance the project'--Manafort had ''improperly'' finagled its environmental permit. His family business had then inflated the fees for its work on the arena so that cash could be kicked back to the Teamsters. (The business admitted to inflating its fees, but a grand jury declined to issue an indictment.) Even before this scandal broke, a former mayor of New Britain blasted Manafort for behavior that ''violates the very essence of morality.''
Conventional wisdom suggests that the temptations of Washington, D.C., corrupt all the idealists, na¯fs, and ingenues who settle there. But what if that formulation gets the causation backwards? What if it took an outsider to debase the capital and create the so-called swamp? When Paul Manafort Jr. broke the rules, when he operated outside of a moral code, he was really following the example he knew best. As he later said of his work with his father in an interview with a local Connecticut paper, ''Some of the skills that I learned there I still use today '... That's where I cut my teeth.''
VI. Al AssirBy the late 1980s, Manafort had a new friend from abroad, whom he mentioned to his partners more than any other, an arms dealer from Lebanon named Abdul Rahman Al Assir. ''His name kept popping up,'' Peter Kelly remembered. While Al Assir never rated much attention in the American press, he had a familial connection who did. He was, for a time, the brother-in-law of the Saudi arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi, the middleman used in the arms-for-hostages scheme that became the Iran-Contra scandal. In the early '80s, Khashoggi was worth $4 billion; his biography, published in 1986, was titled The Richest Man in the World. At the height of his wealth, Khashoggi spent $250,000 a day to maintain his lifestyle'--which reportedly included a dozen houses, 1,000 suits, a $70 million yacht, and a customized airplane, which has been described as a ''flying Las Vegas discotheque.''
Al Assir was the Khashoggi empire's representative in Spain and a broker of big weapons sales to African armies. He'd ensconced himself among the rich and famous, the set that skied in Gstaad, Switzerland, and summered in the south of France. The London-based Arabic-language magazine Sourakia wrote, ''The miracle of Al Assir is that he will have lunch with Don Juan Carlos [the king of Spain], dinner with Hassan II [the king of Morocco], and breakfast the next day with Felipe Gonzlez [the prime minister of Spain].''
Manafort suggested to his partners that Al Assir might help connect the firm to clients around the world. He wanted to increase the firm's global reach. Manafort's exploration of the outermost moral frontiers of the influence business had already exposed him to kleptocrats, thugs, and other dubious characters. But none of these relationships imprinted themselves more deeply than his friendship and entrepreneurial partnership with Al Assir. By the '90s, the two had begun to put together big deals. One of the more noteworthy was an arms sale they helped broker between France and Pakistan, lubricated by bribes and kickbacks involving high-level officials in both countries, that eventually led to murder allegations.
The arms dealer Al Assir introduced Manafort to an aristocratic world that exceeded anything he had ever known. It all arguably began with a 1993 dinner hosted by Manafort in his Virginia home and attended by Pakistan's prime minister, Benazir Bhutto. Bhutto had just returned to power after three years in the opposition, and Manafort badly wanted her business. She knew of him as a skilled manipulator of public opinion, and throughout the meal, Manafort displayed his most strategic, most charming self. One former Pakistani official who attended the dinner told me that Bhutto came away determined to make use of his services. She suggested that Manafort work with the Pakistani intelligence service. Spooks in Islamabad had observed the international rush to hire Washington lobbyists, and they had been clamoring for one of their own.
At about that same time, Pakistan was looking to upgrade its submarine fleet, and European arms contractors raced to hawk their wares. In the end, France's state-owned manufacturer won the contract'--and Al Assir was added as an intermediary at the last minute. An ensuing scandal that is still unfolding, some 20 years later, would entangle both Al Assir and Manafort. It entailed alleged kickbacks into the 1995 presidential campaign of ‰douard Balladur, apparently arranged by the French defense minister. Al Assir seems to have been a key conduit of the kickbacks. Years later, in 2002, a car bomb went off in Karachi, killing 11 French naval engineers in transit to the shipyard where the submarines were being assembled, along with three Pakistanis. One theory, fervently supported by some of the engineers' families, holds that the bombing was orchestrated by Pakistani officials who were disgruntled that the bribes promised to them as part of the deal had never arrived.
Manafort was not a central figure in this scandal, and was never charged with any wrongdoing. But as the former Pakistani official told me, ''He was an introducer'--and he received a fee for his part.'' Documents show that Manafort earned at least $272,000 as a consultant to the Balladur campaign, although, as Manafort later conceded to French investigators, it was Al Assir who actually paid him. (Balladur has denied any wrongdoing and doesn't recall Manafort working for him. Al Assir could not be reached for comment on this story.)
Manafort and Al Assir were more than business partners. ''They were very brotherly,'' one mutual acquaintance of theirs told me. Manafort took Al Assir as his guest to George H. W. Bush's inauguration, in 1989. When Al Assir and his second wife had a child, Manafort became the godfather. Their families vacationed together near Cannes. Al Assir introduced Manafort to an aristocratic world that exceeded anything he had ever known. ''There's money, and there's really big money,'' a friend of Manafort's told me. ''Paul became aware of the difference between making $300,000 and $5 million. He discovered the south of France. Al Assir would show him how to live that life.''
Colleagues at Black, Manafort, Stone and Kelly noticed changes that accompanied the flowering of the friendship. Manafort's sartorial style began to pay homage to Al Assir, with flourishes of the European dandy. Suddenly he started wearing unconventional shirts and suede loafers without socks. In the firm's early years, Manafort had been a fixture of the office, a general presiding over his headquarters. But now he frequently flew off to France or Spain, collaborating with Al Assir on projects that remained a mystery to his subordinates, and even to his partners. ''Paul went off on different foreign things that none of us knew about,'' Peter Kelly told me.
Manafort's lifestyle came to feature opulent touches that stood out amid the relative fustiness of Washington. When Andrea expressed an interest in horseback riding, Manafort bought a farm near Palm Beach, then stocked it with specially bred horses imported from Ireland, which required a full-time staff to tend. John Donaldson, Manafort's friend, recalls, ''He was competing with the Al Assirs of the world'--and he wanted to live in that lifestyle.''
Manafort's Hamptons estate includes a putting green and a basketball court. He believed only ''suckers stay out of debt,'' a former colleague says. (Google Maps)There were always suspicions among Manafort's colleagues in the firm that he was making money for himself without regard for his partners. Al Assir's occasional appearance in the international press lent these suspicions weight. One deal brokered by Al Assir helped crash a private bank in Lisbon. In 2002, he and Manafort persuaded the bank to invest 57 million euros in a Puerto Rican biometrics company. According to reporting by the Portuguese newspaper Observador, Manafort was the lead American investor in the company; his involvement helped justify the bank's investment, despite evidence of the company's faulty products and lax accounting. Al Assir is alleged to have extracted bloated commissions from the deal and to have pocketed some of the bank's loans. Manafort reportedly made $1.5 million selling his shares of the biometrics firm before the company eventually came tumbling down.
Stories about Manafort's slipperiness have acquired mythic status. In the summer of 2016, Politico's Kenneth Vogel, now with The New York Times, wrote a rigorous exegesis of a long-standing rumor: Manafort was said to have walked away with $10 million in cash from Ferdinand Marcos, money he promised he would deliver to Ronald Reagan's reelection campaign (which itself would have been illegal). Vogel relied in part on the 1996 memoir of Ed Rollins, a Republican consultant and Reagan's reelection-campaign director. In the book, Rollins recounted a dinner-party conversation with a member of the Filipino congress who claimed to have personally given a suitcase of cash to a ''well-known Washington power lobbyist'' involved in the Marcos campaign. Rollins would neither confirm nor deny that the lobbyist was Manafort, though his description doesn't leave much uncertainty, and he conceded in an email that ''it's a pretty good guess.'' Rollins admits in his book to being ''stunned'' by what he heard'--''not in a state of total disbelief, though, because I knew the lobbyist well and I had no doubt the money was now in some offshore bank.'' This irked Rollins greatly: ''I ran the [Reagan] campaign for $75,000 a year, and this guy got $10 million in cash.''
Manafort has always denied Rollins's insinuation'--''old stuff that never had any legs,'' he told Vogel. And as a practical matter, it's hard to imagine that anyone could stuff $10 million in a suitcase. Still, Vogel found a raft of circumstantial evidence that suggested the plausibility of the tale. When I asked Manafort's former colleagues about the apocrypha, they couldn't confirm the story. But some didn't struggle to imagine it might be true, either. Even though John Donaldson doubts the veracity of the tale, he told me that it persists because it reflects Manafort's ethics. ''I know how Paul would view it. Paul would sit there and say, 'These guys can't get access to Reagan. I can get them access to Reagan. They want to give $10 million to Reagan. Reagan can't take $10 million. I'll take the $10 million. They think they'll be getting their influence. Everybody's happy.''‰''
Another alumnus of Manafort's firm answered my questions about the Marcos money with an anecdote. After the election of George H. W. Bush, Black, Manafort, Stone and Kelly agreed to help organize the inauguration festivities. The firm commissioned a company from Rhode Island to sell memorabilia on the parade route'--T-shirts, buttons, and the like. After crews had taken down the reviewing stand and swept up the debris, the alumnus recalled, a vendor showed up in the office with a bag full of cash. To the disbelief of his colleague, Manafort had arranged to take his own cut. ''It was a Paul tax,'' the former employee told me. ''I guess he needed a new deck. But this was classic: Somebody else does the work, and he walks away with the bag of cash.''
Having spent so much time in the company of oligarchs, Manafort decided to become one himself.Colleagues suspected the worst about Manafort because they had observed his growing mania for accumulating property, how he'd bought second, third, and fourth homes. ''He would buy a house without ever seeing it,'' one former colleague told me. His Hamptons estate came with a putting green, a basketball court, a pool, and gardens. ''He believed that suckers stay out of debt,'' the colleague told me. His unrestrained spending and pile of debt required a perpetual search for bigger paydays and riskier ventures.
In 1991, Black, Manafort, Stone and Kelly was purchased by the mega public-affairs firm Burson-Marsteller, the second-largest agency in the world. It was a moment of consolidation in the industry, where the biggest players came to understand how much money could be made from the model that Manafort had created. But nearly as soon as Burson acquired the firm, Tom Bell, the head of its Washington office, began to notice the ways in which Manafort hadn't played by the rules. He'd been operating as a freelancer, working on projects that never went to the bottom line. In 1995, Manafort left Burson. Taking a handful of colleagues with him, he started a new firm'--Davis, Manafort and Freedman'--and a new chapter, one that would see him enter the sphere of the Kremlin.
VII. The Master of KievDuring the 1980s and '90s, an arms dealer had stood at the pinnacle of global wealth. In the new century, post-Soviet oligarchs climbed closer to that position. Manafort's ambitions trailed that shift. His new firm found its way to a fresh set of titans, with the help of an heir to an ancient fortune.
In 2003, Rick Davis, a partner in Manafort's new firm, was invited to the office of a hedge fund in Midtown Manhattan. The summons didn't reveal the name of the man requesting his presence. When Davis arrived, he found himself pumping the hand of the Honorable Nathaniel Philip Victor James Rothschild, the British-born financier known as Nat. Throughout his young career, Nat had fascinated the London press with his love interests, his residences, and his shrewd investments. For his 40th birthday, he threw himself a legendary party in the Balkan state of Montenegro, which reportedly cost well over $1 million'--a three-day festival of hedonism, with palm trees imported from Uruguay.
Russian oligarchs were drawn to Rothschild, whose name connoted power'--and he to them. ''He likes this wild world,'' Anders …slund, a friend of Rothschild's, told me. Rothschild invested heavily in post-communist economies and became a primary adviser (and a friend) to the young Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska.
Rothschild and Deripaska fed off each other's grand ambitions. Like a pair of old imperialists, they imagined new, sympathetic governments across eastern Europe that would accommodate and protect their investments. Their project required the type of expertise that Manafort had spent years accumulating. In 2004, Rothschild hired Manafort's new firm to resurrect the influence of an exiled Georgian politician, a former KGB operative and friend of Deripaska's then living in Moscow. This made for a heavy lift because the operative had recently been accused in court as a central plotter in a conspiracy to assassinate the country's president, Eduard Shevardnadze. (He denied involvement.) The rehabilitation scheme never fully developed, but a few years later, Rick Davis triumphantly managed a referendum campaign that resulted in the independence of Montenegro'--an effort that Deripaska funded with the hope of capturing the country's aluminum industry.
Deripaska's interests were not only financial. He was always looking to curry favor with the Russian state. An August 2007 email sent by Lauren Goodrich, an analyst for the global intelligence firm Stratfor, and subsequently posted on WikiLeaks, described Deripaska boasting to her about how he had set himself up ''to be indispensable to Putin and the Kremlin.'' This made good business sense, since he had witnessed the Kremlin expropriate the vast empires of oligarchs such as Mikhail Khodorkovsky who'd dared to challenge Putin. In fact, the Kremlin came to consider Deripaska an essential proxy. When the United States denied Deripaska a visa, the Russians handed him a diplomatic passport, which permitted him to make his way to Washington and New York.
Manafort understood how highly Deripaska valued his symbiotic relationship with the Kremlin. According to the Associated Press, he pitched a contract in 2005, proposing that Deripaska finance an effort to ''influence politics, business dealings and news coverage inside the United States, Europe and former Soviet Republics to benefit President Vladimir Putin's government.'' (Deripaska says he never took Manafort up on this proposal.)
The Kremlin's grip on its old Soviet sphere was especially precarious in the early aughts. President George W. Bush's democratic agenda espoused an almost messianic sense of how the United States could unleash a new age of freedom. The grandiloquent American rhetoric posed an existential threat to entrenched rulers of the region who were friendly to Russia, and who had become rich by plundering state resources. Suddenly, the threat of democratic revolution no longer felt theoretical.
The risks of popular uprising were very much on Rothschild's and Deripaska's minds during the last months of 2004, when they handed Manafort a specific task. Ukraine had descended into political crisis, one that jeopardized business interests they'd already developed in the country (Rothschild had various private-equity investments; Deripaska had an aluminum smelter). They sent Manafort to Kiev to understand how they might minimize the dangers.
Of all Paul Manafort's foreign adventures, Ukraine most sustained his attention, ultimately to the exclusion of his other business. The country's politics are hardly as simple as commonly portrayed; corruption extends its tentacles into all the major parties. Still, the narrative of Manafort's time in Ukraine isn't terribly complicated. He worked on behalf of a clique of former gangsters from the country's east, oligarchs who felt linguistic and cultural affinity to Russia, and who wanted political control of the entire nation. When Manafort arrived, the candidate of this clique, Viktor Yanukovych, was facing allegations that he had tried to rig the 2004 presidential election with fraud and intimidation, and possibly by poisoning his opponent with dioxin. He lost the election anyway, despite having imported a slew of consultants from Moscow. After that humiliating defeat, Yanukovych and the oligarchs who'd supported him were desperate for a new guru.
Ferdinand Marcos (left), Viktor Yanukovych (center), and Jonas Savimbi (right) are among the many strongmen whom Manafort has advised and assisted. (AP; Dmitry Azarov / Kommersant Photo; Selwyn Tait / Getty)By the time Manafort first entertained the possibility of working with Yanukovych, the defeated candidate had just returned to Kiev following a brief self-imposed exile at a Czech resort. They met at an old movie palace that had been converted into the headquarters for his political organization, the Party of Regions. When Manafort entered the grandiose building, the place was a mausoleum and Yanukovych a pariah. ''People avoided him,'' Philip Griffin said. ''He was radioactive.''
Manafort groomed Yanukovych to resemble, well, himself. …slund, who had advised the Ukrainian government on economic policy, told me, ''Yanukovych and Manafort are almost exactly the same size. So they are big, tall men. He got Yanukovych to wear the same suits as he did and to comb the hair backwards as he does.'' Yanukovych had been wooden in public and in private, but ''Manafort taught him how to smile and how to do small talk.'' And he did it all quietly, ''from a back seat. He did it very elegantly.''
He also directed Yanukovych's party to harp on a single theme each week'--say, the sorry condition of pensioners. These were not the most-sophisticated techniques, but they had never been deployed in Ukraine. Yanukovych was proud of his American turn. After he hired Manafort, he invited U.S. Ambassador John Herbst to his office, placed a binder containing Manafort's strategy in front of him, and announced, ''I'm going with Washington.''
Manafort often justified his work in Ukraine by arguing that he hoped to guide the country toward Europe and the West. But his polling data suggested that Yanukovych should accentuate cultural divisions in the country, playing to the sense of victimization felt by Russian speakers in eastern Ukraine. And sure enough, his clients railed against nato expansion. When a U.S. diplomat discovered a rabidly anti-American speech on the Party of Regions' website, Manafort told him, ''But it isn't on the English version.''
Yanukovych's party succeeded in the parliamentary elections beyond all expectations, and the oligarchs who'd funded it came to regard Manafort with immense respect. As a result, Manafort began spending longer spans of time in Ukraine. One of his greatest gifts as a businessman was his audacity, and his Ukrainian benefactors had amassed enormous fortunes. The outrageous amounts that Manafort billed, sums far greater than any he had previously received, seemed perfectly normal. An associate of Manafort's described the system this way: ''Paul would ask for a big sum,'' Yanukovych would approve it, and then his chief of staff ''would go to the other oligarchs and ask them to kick in. 'Hey, you need to pay a million.' They would complain, but Yanukovych asked, so they would give.''
When Yanukovych won the presidency in 2010, he gave Manafort ''walk in'' privileges, allowing him to stroll into the inner sanctum of the presidential offices at any time. Yanukovych could be bullheaded, and as his presidency progressed, he increasingly cut himself off from advisers. Manafort, however, knew how to change Yanukovych's mind, using polling and political arguments to make his case. Oleg Voloshyn, a former spokesman in the foreign-affairs ministry, told me that his own boss, the foreign minister, eventually turned to Manafort to carry messages and make arguments regarding foreign-policy priorities on his behalf. ''Yanukovych would listen to him,'' Voloshyn told me, ''when our arguments were ignored.''
VIII. A Reversal of FortuneBefore everything exploded in Ukraine, Manafort saw the country as his golden land, the greatest of his opportunities. But his role as adviser, as powerful as it was, never quite matched his own buccaneering sense of self. After spending so much time in the company of Russian and Ukrainian oligarchs, he set out to become an oligarch himself. Rick Davis declared their firm to be mostly ''in the deal business,'' according to James Harding's 2008 book, Alpha Dogs: The Americans Who Turned Political Spin Into a Global Business. ''The thing I love,'' Davis said, ''is that the political elites and the economic elites in every other country but the United States of America are the same.'' The elected officials and the people ''running the elections are the richest people in the country, who own all the assets.''
In 2006, Rick Gates, who'd begun as a wheel man at the old firm, arrived in Kiev. (Gates did not respond to multiple requests for comment on this article.) Manafort placed him at the helm of a new private-equity firm he'd created called Pericles. He intended to raise $200 million to bankroll investments in Ukraine and Russia. ''It was a virgin market in virtually any industry you wanted to pick up,'' Philip Griffin told me.
Manafort had always intended to rely on financing from Oleg Deripaska to fund Pericles. In 2007, Manafort persuaded him to commit $100 million to the project, a sum that would have hardly made a dent in the oligarch's fortune. On the eve of the 2008 global financial crisis, he was worth $28 billion.
Deripaska handed his money to Paul Manafort because he trusted him. Manafort repeatedly traveled to the oligarch's Moscow office, where they would sit for hours and tour the business and political horizon of the former Eastern Bloc. Deripaska had become a billionaire in his 30s, and acquired the noisy pretensions of young wealth. He wanted to become the global face of Russia, he said. But that would require overcoming the reputation that stalked him, and Manafort could help. In 2001, before Manafort and Deripaska met, the World Economic Forum in Davos had withdrawn its invitation to the oligarch, as a court examined his alleged misdeeds in the course of erecting his empire. (The case was eventually dismissed.) Five years after the Davos rejection, Rick Davis shepherded Deripaska around the elite confab, taking him to a party brimming with U.S. senators, including John McCain.
For Pericles's first deal, Manafort used Deripaska's money to buy a telecommunications firm in Odessa called Chorne More (''Black Seas,'' in English) at a cost of $18.9 million. He also charged a staggering $7.35 million in management fees for overseeing the venture.
But months after the Chorne More purchase, the 2008 financial crisis hit, gutting Deripaska's net worth. It plummeted so far that he needed a $4.5 billion bailout from the Russian state bank to survive. The loan included an interest payment in the form of abject humiliation: Putin traveled to one of Deripaska's factories and berated him on television.
As Deripaska's world came crashing down, his representatives asked Manafort to liquidate Pericles and give him back his fair share. Manafort had little choice but to agree. But that promise never translated to action. An audit of Chorne More that Rick Gates said was under way likewise never materialized. Then, in 2011, Manafort stopped responding to Deripaska's investment team altogether.
Deripaska wouldn't let go of the notion that Manafort owed him money. In 2015, his lawyers filed a motion in a Virginia court. They wanted the authority to track down more information on the deal, even though the initial papers for it had been filed in the Cayman Islands. The lawyers had already managed to get their hands on some of the documentation surrounding the deal, and they had extracted a belated explanation of what had happened from Gates. According to a spokeswoman for Deripaska, Gates said that Chorne More had defaulted on a $1 million loan that it had taken out to pay for capital expenditures, allegedly forfeiting the partnership's entire investment in the process. This explanation struck Deripaska's lawyers as wildly implausible. Deripaska began to publicly doubt whether Manafort had even bought the telecommunications company in the first place. ''At present it seems that the Partnership never acquired any of the Chorne More entities,'' his lawyers argued.
All of the papers for the initial deal had included Rick Davis's name. They suggested that he would serve as Manafort's partner, and that shares would be divided evenly between the two. But Davis knew nothing of the Chorne More deal. While Manafort had been putting together Pericles, Davis had been on leave from Davis, Manafort and Freedman, running John McCain's 2008 presidential campaign. Because Davis's connections to Manafort and Deripaska had caused him a public-relations headache at the outset of the campaign, he'd kept a healthy distance from both men. When Deripaska's lawyers asked him about the money he supposedly owed their client, Davis was gobsmacked. He soon discovered that Manafort had also registered a new company'--Davis Manafort International'--to continue trading on the old firm's name, while cutting him out of consulting fees. Upon returning from the campaign, and witnessing the extent to which Manafort had abused his trust, Davis left the firm they had created together.
Mark Peterson / ReduxDeripaska's attorneys had leveled a serious allegation'--and true to his pattern, Manafort never filed a response. Those who have known Manafort the longest suggest that this reflects his tendency to run away from personal crises: ''He'll get on a jet and fly off to Hawaii'--and will come back when everything blows over,'' an old colleague told me, recalling Manafort's response to a scandal in the late '80s. But it was one thing to hide from reporters; it was another to hide from Oleg Deripaska. Though no longer the ninth-richest man in the world, he was still extremely powerful.
The fact is that by then, Manafort's options were tightly limited: Despite all the riches he had collected in Ukraine, it is unlikely that he could have paid Deripaska back. For years, according to his indictment, Manafort had found clever ways to transfer money that he'd stashed in foreign havens to the U.S. He'd used it to buy real estate, antique rugs, and fancy suits'--all relatively safe vehicles for repatriating cash without paying taxes or declaring the manner in which it had been earned.
But in the summer of 2014, in the wake of the revolution that deposed Viktor Yanukovych, the FBI began scrutinizing the strongman's finances. Manafort had stuck with Yanukovych as the president had initiated criminal investigations of his political opponents, opened the government's coffers to his cronies, and turned his country away from Europe and toward Russia. He'd stuck with him to the gruesome end, amid growing popular unrest'--right up to the slaughter of more than 100 protesters by government forces on the Maidan. He'd remained faithful to Yanukovych while large swathes of the strongman's circle abandoned him. Perhaps living so long in moral gray zones had eroded Manafort's capacity to appreciate the kind of ruler Yanukovych was, or the lines he had crossed. (He is now being tried in absentia in Ukraine for high treason, although he has denied any culpability from his perch in Moscow.) The previous December, as protesters had gathered on the Maidan, Manafort had texted his daughter Andrea, ''Obama's approval ratings are lower than [Yanukovych's] and you don't see him being ousted.''
The FBI investigation into Yanukovych's finances came to cover Manafort's own dealings. Soon after the feds took an interest, interviewing Manafort in July 2014, the repatriations ceased. Meanwhile, Manafort struggled to collect the money owed him by Yanukovych's cronies. To finance his expensive life, he began taking out loans against his real estate'--some $15 million over two years, his indictment says. This is not an uncommon tactic among money launderers'--a bank loan allows the launderer to extract clean cash from property purchased with dirty money. But according to the indictment, some of Manafort's loans were made on the basis of false information supplied to the bank in order to inflate the sums available to him, suggesting the severity of his cash-flow problems. All of these loans would need to be paid back, of course. And one way or another, he would need to settle Deripaska's bill.
IX. The Prize''I really need to get to'' Trump, Manafort told an old friend, the real-estate magnate Tom Barrack, in the early months of 2016. Barrack, a confidante of Trump for some 40 years, had known Manafort even longer. When Manafort asked for Barrack's help grabbing Trump's attention, he readily supplied it.
Manafort's spell in the Arizona clinic had ended. It hadn't been a comfortable stay. After having acquired so many properties of his own, he had been forced to share a room with another patient, according to Andrea's texts. Despite his reticence about his private life, he'd spent his days in group therapy'--and he claimed that it had changed him. ''I have a real self awareness of why I broke down,'' he texted her.
Still, most of the proximate causes of his breakdown remained in place. Once an indispensable man, he had not been missed in professional circles. He was without a big-paying client, and held heavy debts. His attempts to prove his entrepreneurial skills had ended as expensive busts. Because of his biggest bust of all, Deripaska was looking for him. ''He has too many skeletons,'' Andrea had written her sister soon after he had entered the clinic, noting that his work in Ukraine was legally dubious. ''Don't fool yourself,'' she had texted Jessica a few months before. ''That money we have is blood money.''
She had not forgiven him for his affair. She complained to a cousin about her father's treatment of her mother. ''We keep showing up and eating the lobster,'' she wrote. ''Nothing changes.'' But Manafort's ability to provide lavishly for his family'--a role he had always played, whatever his other failings'--had in fact changed. The millions he'd invested in Jessica's films were gone; so, too, were the millions he'd blown on her then-husband's real-estate ventures.
With the arrival of Donald Trump, Manafort smelled an opportunity to regain his losses, and to return to relevance. It was, in some ways, perfect: The campaign was a shambolic masterpiece of improvisation that required an infusion of technical knowledge and establishment credibility.
Barrack forwarded to Trump's team a memo Manafort had written about why he was the ideal match for the ascendant candidate. Old colleagues describe Manafort as a master pitchman with a preternatural ability to read his audience. He told Trump that he had ''avoided the political establishment in Washington since 2005,'' and described himself as a lifelong enemy of Karl Rove, who represented the entrenched party chieftains conspiring to dynamite Trump's nomination. In other words, to get back on the inside, Manafort presented himself as the ultimate outsider'--a strained case that would strike Trump, and perhaps only Trump, as compelling.
Manafort reached out to Deripaska almost immediately upon securing a post with the Trump campaign. Manafort could write such a calibrated pitch because he had observed Trump over the decades. Back in the '80s, his firm had represented Trump when the mogul wanted to reroute planes flying over Mar-a-Lago, his resort in Palm Beach. Since 2006, Manafort had kept a pied- -terre in Trump Tower, where he and Trump had occasionally seen each other and made small talk. This exposure yielded perhaps another crucial insight: Trump's parsimony. When Manafort offered Trump his services, he resisted his tendency to slap a big price tag on them; he would provide his counsel, he said, free of charge. To his family, Manafort described this decision as a matter of strategy: If Trump viewed him as wealthy, then he would treat him as a near-equal, not as a campaign parasite.
But Manafort must have also believed that money would eventually come, just as it always had, from the influence he would wield in the campaign, and exponentially more so if Trump won. So might other favors and dispensations. These notions were very likely what led him to reach out to Oleg Deripaska almost immediately upon securing a post within the campaign, after having evaded him for years. Through one of his old deputies, a Ukrainian named Konstantin Kilimnik, he sent along press clippings that highlighted his new job. ''How do we use to get whole,'' Manafort emailed Kilimnik. ''Has OVD operation seen?'' Manafort's spokesman has acknowledged that the initials refer to Oleg Vladimirovich Deripaska. In the course of the exchanges, Kilimnik expressed optimism that ''we will get back to the original relationship'' with the oligarch.
All of Manafort's hopes, of course, proved to be pure fantasy. Instead of becoming the biggest player in Donald Trump's Washington, he has emerged as a central villain in its central scandal. An ever-growing pile of circumstantial evidence suggests that the Trump campaign colluded with Russian efforts to turn the 2016 presidential election in its favor. Given Manafort's long relationship with close Kremlin allies including Yanukovych and Deripaska, and in particular his indebtedness to the latter, it is hard to imagine him as either a naive or passive actor in such a scheme'--although Deripaska denies knowledge of any plan by Manafort to get back into his good graces. Manafort was in the room with Donald Trump Jr. when a Russian lawyer and lobbyist descended on Trump Tower in the summer of 2016, promising incriminating material on Hillary Clinton. That same summer, the Trump campaign, with Manafort as its manager, successfully changed the GOP's platform, watering down support for Ukraine's pro-Western, post-Yanukovych government, a change welcomed by Russia and previously anathema to Republicans. When the Department of Justice indicted Paul Manafort in October'--for failing to register as a foreign agent, for hiding money abroad'--its portrait of the man depicted both avarice and desperation, someone who traffics in dark money and dark causes. It seems inevitable, in retrospect, that Robert Mueller, the special counsel, would treat Manafort's banking practices while in Ukraine as his first subject of public scrutiny, the obvious starting point for his investigation. The sad truth is that all of the damning information contained within the Mueller indictment would have remained submerged if Manafort had withstood the temptation to seek out a role in Trump's campaign. Even if his record had become known, it would have felt unexceptional: Manafort's misdeeds, in our current era, would not have seemed so inconsistent with the run of global play.
From both the Panama Papers and the Paradise Papers, vast disclosures illuminating previously hidden offshore accounts of the rich and powerful worldwide, we can see the full extent to which corruption has become the master narrative of our times. We live in a world of smash-and-grab fortunes, amassed through political connections and outright theft. Paul Manafort, over the course of his career, was a great normalizer of corruption. The firm he created in the 1980s obliterated traditional concerns about conflicts of interest. It imported the ethos of the permanent campaign into lobbying and, therefore, into the construction of public policy.
And while Manafort is alleged to have laundered cash for his own benefit, his long history of laundering reputations is what truly sets him apart. He helped persuade the American political elite to look past the atrocities and heists of kleptocrats and goons. He took figures who should have never been permitted influence in Washington and softened their image just enough to guide them past the moral barriers to entry. He weakened the capital's ethical immune system.
Related StoriesHelping elect Donald Trump, in so many ways, represents the culmination of Paul Manafort's work. The president bears some likeness to the oligarchs Manafort long served: a businessman with a portfolio of shady deals, who benefited from a cozy relationship to government; a man whose urge to dominate, and to enrich himself, overwhelms any higher ideal. It wasn't so long ago that Trump would have been decisively rejected as an alien incursion into the realm of public service. And while the cynicism about government that enabled Trump's rise results from many causes, one of them is the slow transformation of Washington, D.C., into something more like the New Britain, Connecticut, of Paul Manafort's youth.
Last year, a group of Manafort's longtime friends, led by an old Republican hand named Bill Greener, tried to organize a cadre of surrogates to defend Manafort from the allegations against him, including the worst one: that he collaborated with a hostile foreign power to subvert the American democratic process. Manafort's old partner Charlie Black even showed up for a meeting, though the two had largely fallen out of touch. A few of the wheel men from the old firm wanted to help too. Yet, when volunteers were needed to go on TV as character witnesses, nobody raised his hand. ''There wasn't a lot to work with,'' one person contacted by this group told me. ''And nobody could be sure that Paul didn't do it.'' In fact, everything about the man and the life he chose suggests that he did.
This article appears in the March 2018 print edition with the headline ''American Hustler.''
* Due to an editing error, this article originally stated that Paul Manafort had run the Office of Personnel Management. We regret the error.
The key to Mueller's investigation of Trump - Salon.com
Sat, 24 Feb 2018 15:10
This article originally appeared on AlterNet.
Mueller & Co, can leak selected tidbits to shape the story of their investigation, and they do.
Mainstream media news organizations cultivate this relationship. Aggressive reporting, artfully assisted by leaks from Mueller's lieutenants, are driving the story of the apparent collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government in the 2016 election.
Indictments are coming, says Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn. A former federal prosecutor, Blumen that told Politico this week he was ''99 percent''sure that Mueller would file charges against former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and short-lived national security adviser Michael Flynn.
Blumenthal's assessment was based on details of the FBI raid on Manafort's northern Virginia home in late July. To obtain the search warrant, the FBI agents had to present evidence to judge that that Manafort had lied and destroyed evidence and might do so again. They got the warrant.
Last week two of Flynn's siblings announced that they had formed a legal-defense fund for their brother whose lawyers' fees are already ''well into the seven figures,'' his brother Joe told Fox News on Monday.
Flynn's probelms are mounting. In March, he registered with the government as a foreign agent, a tacit concession that he had violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act. Even Trump apologist Alan Dershowitz has predicted that Flynn will ''probably be indicted''
Mueller has let it be known that he is pursuing charges of obstruction of justice, money laundering, making false statements, and possibly even treason.
On September 20 the Times reported Mueller is seeking documentation about a meeting Trump had in May with Russian officials in the Oval Office the day after he fired FBI director James Comey. Trump met with the Russian foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, and the Russian ambassador to the United States at the time, Sergey I. Kislyak, along with other Russian officials. In the meeting Mr. Trump had said that firing Mr. Comey relieved ''great pressure.''
Manafort was one Trump's original conduits to the Russians. His name turned up in financial ledgers of Ukrainian president and oligarch Victor Yanukovych for whom he served as a political consultant in 2010. The ledgers (whose authenticity Manafort has disputed) identified 22 payments adding up to $12 million.
As NBC News reported in May, federal officials say that the money Manafort earned from both the party and the oligarchs '-- and what he did with it '-- are drawing the attention of investigators. In particular, Manafort advised a Ukrainian political party accused of threatening US Marines and spoiling an international military exercise in 2011.
This raises the possibility of charges of treason or violation of the Logan Act, forbidding U.S. citizens from negotiating with foreign governments that have a dispute with the U.S. government.
Why did Trump's people do what they do?
Last week, the Washington Post provided a possible answer: Manafort wanted to get a Russian oligarch off his back and Putin helped him.
''Less than two weeks before Donald Trump accepted the Republican presidential nomination, his campaign chairman [Manafor] offered to provide briefings on the race to a Russian billionaire closely aligned with the Kremlin,'' the Post reported.
That was oligarch Oleg Deripaska. In another e-mail, the Post reported, Manafort seemed to suggest that he could leverage his new role running Trump's campaign to settle his multimillion dollars debts with Deripaska
What was the nature of the Russian support?
The short answer, it is now clear, is secret assistance in the social media space.
Back in July McClatchy News reported Mueller's investigators ''are focusing on whether Trump's campaign pointed Russian cyber operatives to certain voting jurisdictions in key states '' areas where Trump's digital team and Republican operatives were spotting unexpected weakness in voter support for Hillary Clinton.''
The Trump campaign's digital operations were overseen by Kushner.
Now corroborating details are emerging. Facebook disclosed that Russian entitites had bought more than 3,000 politically charged ads estimated at $150,000 on its platform during key periods of the presidential campaign. Facebook also linked the ads to a controversial Russian entity known as the Internet Research Agency.
While $150,000 is a pittance in a U.S. presidential campaign, a pittance in social media fabrication can yield an enormous political payoff. One fake news story, concocted by a Trump supporter with no Russian connections, reached 6 million people.It cost exactly $5 to produce.
So the Trump campaign gained a blitz of untraceable digital attack ads targeted at motivating Trump voters and discouraging Democratic turnout in key swing states ignored by Hillary Clinton.
One Russian account, reports the Daily Beast
pushed memes that claimed Hillary Clinton admitted the U.S. ''created, funded and armed'' al-Qaeda and the so-called Islamic State; claimed that John McCain was ISIS's true founder; whitewashed blood-drenched dictator Moammar Gadhafi and praised him for not having a ''Rothschild-owned central bank''; and falsely alleged Osama bin Laden was a ''CIA agent.''
The targeted ads sought to disarms Democrats. Bernie Sanders supporters were encouraged to vote for Jill Stein. Clinton supporters were discouraged from turning out And so on
Whether this digital blitz had impact remains to be seen. But for now, we know the key elements of Mueller's investigation: the perps, the crimes, the motive and the means.
And there is more to come.
Fox News 'Source': Manafort, Podesta Brothers Ties to Russia Focus of Mueller Investigation | Breitbart
Sun, 25 Feb 2018 07:50
Tuesday on Fox News Channel's ''Tucker Carlson Tonight,'' host Tucker Carlson laid out details of what an unnamed source said of how former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort previously worked as a liaison between the Russians and the Podesta Group, a lobbying firm co-founded by John and Tony Podesta.
Manafort was working to advance ''Russian government interests'' in Washington, D.C. according to that source.
Carlson said the source scoffed at press accounts of the investigation conducted by special counsel Robert Mueller into Russian interference in American politics, arguing it had little to do with the 2016 presidential election.
Well, good evening and welcome to ''Tucker Carlson Tonight.'' We are beginning tonight with a story we just learned a few hours ago, a story that amazed us.
Last night on this show, we told you about how the Podesta group, a lobbying firm co-founded by Hillary Clinton's campaign '-- and John Podesta and his brother Tony have been sucked into the independent counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of alleged Russian interference in American politics. Before last night's show was even over, we got an email from a man with direct personal knowledge of that story.
The man, whose name we can't reveal for the time being, is a former senior employee of the Podesta Group. He worked there for years. He said he was motivated to contact us by the disgust he felt watching media coverage of the Russia story. Not only were most reporters getting it wrong he said, they were getting it backward. The Russians were in fact deeply involved in American politics, but the real story had almost nothing to do with the 2016 presidential campaign.
Well, intrigued, we agreed to meet with that source today. He just left our offices here in Washington a couple of hours ago. The story he told us is astonishing. We will be following up on it, confirming more of it and bringing you details throughout this week and after.
But first, here's an overview of what he told us: Media reports describe Paul Manafort as a central figure in the Russia investigation due to the several months he spent as Donald Trump's campaign chairman. According to our source, that's only half true. Manafort is indeed at the center of this investigation, but not because of his ties to Trump. In fact, Paul Manafort spent years working with the Podesta Group on behalf of Russian government interests.
That relationship extends back to at least 2011 when our source claims Manafort had dinner in Washington with both Podestas, Tony and John. In the years following, our sources says, he saw Paul Manafort in the Podesta Group offices, quote, ''all the time.'' At least once a month. Manafort was not there to socialize, he was representing Russian business and political interests, who sought to influence Capitol Hill, Hillary Clinton's State Department and the Obama administration.
Our source describes Manafort bringing what he called a parade of Russian oligarchs up to the Congress where they met with members and their staffs. But the central effort to extend Russian influence was focused on the executive branch, the Obama administration. The vehicle through which Paul Manafort worked for the Russians was a shell group called the European Center for a Modern Ukraine.
Now, the group supposedly was based in Belgium, but it had no actual offices there. It had in fact only two employees, both of them based in Ukraine. Their telephone number in Brussels rang in Kiev. It was a sham. Yet it did have a presence here in Washington. The European Center for a Modern Ukraine was a major client of the Podesta Group.
Now, why did the Russians choose the Podesta group? Well, because both Podestas were close to the Clintons and Hillary was then Secretary of State. She could get things done for the Podestas' Russian clients. It was influence peddling, the most obvious kind.
For example, our source says that at John Podesta's recommendation, his brother Tony hired a man named David Adams. Now, before joining the Podesta group, Adams worked at the State Department as assistant secretary of state for legislative affairs. He was also chief legislative adviser to Hillary Clinton. As part of his job, Adam's personally briefed Hillary Clinton every day.
He aided in the confirmation of at least 122 political nominees at state. By hiring him in 2013, our source says, the Podesta Group got a direct liaison between their offices and by extension their Russian clients, and Hillary's State Department. Sometimes, our source said, ties between the Podesta Group and the Clintons were explicit. Tony Podesta spoke regularly to Hillary Clinton while she ran the State Department.
Our source remembers Podesta's assistant announcing that, quote, ''Secretary Clinton is on the line.'' At one point in either 2013 or maybe early 2014, our source says a meeting was held that included both Tony Podesta and a representative of the Clinton Foundation. The explicit subject of that meeting? How to assist Uranium One, that's the Russian owned company that controls 20 percent of American uranium production, and whose board members gave more than $100 million to the Clinton Foundation.
As our source put it, quote, ''Tony Podesta was basically part of the Clinton Foundation.'' Now, apparently there was not a lot of pretending about this internally at the Podesta group. According to our source, Manafort was clear, crystal clear that Russia wanted to cultivate ties to Hillary Clinton in the belief she was likely to become president. These links to Hillary were apparently quite valuable to the Russians.
Our source believes that the Russian money Manafort funnel to the Podesta Group greatly exceeds the roughly $1 million they were officially paid. That's what he said. Some of these payments he indicated could be hidden kickbacks that would be hard for investigators to trace. Our source described the Podesta groups books as, quote, ''A treasure trove, and highly secret.''
He told us the Podesta group had no board overseeing it and that all financial decisions internally were made by Tony Podesta personally. The group's employees he said included a person whose only official job was managing Tony Podesta's art collection. It would be obviously pretty easy for an organization like that to conceal financial transactions. Now, the source we spoke to has been interviewed extensively by Robert Mueller's independent investigators.
In press accounts, Mueller's investigation is still framed for a hunt for collusion between Donald Trump's presidential campaign and the government of Russia. Our source says investigators are in fact very interested in Manafort's behavior while he ran the Trump campaign, but otherwise that description is mostly bogus. The investigation has broadened now to determine which people and which organizations in Washington have spent years working secretly as de facto operatives on behalf of Russian government and business interests.
The Podesta group is chief among these. Quote, ''They are more focused on facilitators of Russian influence in this country,'' says our source, ''than they are on election collusion.'' ''The Podesta Group,'' he says, quote, ''is in their cross hairs.''
Now, we should note the obvious, which is that many of the lobbying efforts are source described to us today are not yet illegal necessarily and that tells you a lot about modern American politics.
But if true, the story we heard overturns much of what we think we know about Russian attempts to influence American policy. We believe our source is telling the truth. We don't think he has reason to lie to us. The facts we've been able to check have turned out to be accurate. We believe our source has exposed behavior that undermines this country, but that unfortunately is common here in Washington.
We plan to proceed carefully as we report this out, but we will proceed bringing you everything we find. We suspect there's a lot there.
Oleg Deripaska internet research agency - searx
Sat, 24 Feb 2018 15:10
Multiple Governments Are Targeting Clintons' Biggest Charitable Frauds
Thu, 22 Feb 2018 22:49
Those who believe a certain Arkansas-based political family ''always gets away with it'' should know that the race to indict, prosecute, and convict multiple actors leading the sprawling, international Clinton Foundation fraud conspiracy is on.
Though long overdue, this seems eminently fair since prominent persons who operated porous and loosely controlled false-front philanthropies a tiny fraction the size of the known Clinton ''charities,'' including former Rep. Corrine Brown (D-Fla.), were sentenced to federal prison for lengthy terms.
For years, U.S. authorities have been keenly aware of provable crimes committed in the guise of philanthropy. But governments here and abroad have only been willing to take on the transplanted Arkansas dynasty and their many financial backers once it seemed beyond doubt that no Clinton was destined to take up residence again at the White House anytime soon.
Now, as President Donald Trump succeeds in filling key positions within the Department of Justice and the IRS, governments and their beleaguered taxpayers are stepping up demands for justice that increased in intensity as Hillary Clinton mounted her second attempt for the White House in March 2015.
Following a first call to investigate Clinton Foundation irregularities on May 19, 2015, that was given scant attention, Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and more than 60 Republican colleagues again demanded on July 15, 2016, that the FBI, IRS and FTC investigate the foundation.
Related: The Obama Coverup for Hillary Clinton Was Worse Than Collusion
A central element in their argument was that the presidential charity had exceeded its specific authority to ''construct a library, maintain a historical site, and engage in study and research.'' This limited authority can be seen clearly in the original application for federal tax exemption, filed Dec. 23, 1997, with the IRS.
Blackburn drew pointed attention to the fact that the Clinton Foundation never sought authority to engage in foreign activities of any kind:
''No mention is made of conducting activities outside of the United States, which is one of the codes included in the I.R.S. 'Application for Recognition of Exemption' in effect at that time (see activity code 910). As a result, the foundation's global initiatives appear to be unlawful pursuant to IRS guidance.''
Days later, IRS Director John Koskinen confirmed that he had referred Blackburn's letter to the service's Dallas office for examination. There, matters have rested ever since.
Related: The Clinton Foundation Uses Unseen Transactions for Influence Peddling
A federal tax-exempt charity must limit the scope of its work to precisely defined pursuits that are, in fact, charitable. It cannot fund activities beyond those authorized in its controlling organizational document, which, for the Clinton Foundation, are its articles of incorporation.
A records search in Arkansas and other key states reveals that the Clinton Foundation never amended its articles of incorporation to expand its purposes, though it did file amendments to change its name from William J. Clinton Presidential Foundation to The William J. Clinton Foundation on April 28, 2005; to William J. Clinton Foundation on July 8, 2008; and to the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation on April 9, 2013.
Ongoing review of public filings on the main Clinton Foundation website and of documents filed in numerous states and foreign nations shows that trustees illegally allowed the presidential archive and research center in Little Rock, Arkansas, to use unregistered offices, open bank accounts, create subsidiaries and affiliates in numerous places, and solicit donations to further purposes that are not explicitly authorized in the articles of incorporation, by the IRS, the state of Arkansas, or in other U.S. or foreign governments as being validly tax-exempt.
Until recently, few seemed to care. But do not assume U.S. authorities (federal and state) are alone in investigating the long Clinton Foundation record.
For example, years ago, the French government attempted to unravel what might have happened to hundreds of millions of dollars it directed toward the Clintons to ''fight HIV/AIDS internationally.''
Late in 2009 through 2011, France and the U.S. had different leaders and priorities, but much has changed in the years since. Government debts in both nations have soared, and taxpayer patience is stretched thin. The same can be said of other countries as well.
One must remember: All things, good and bad alike, eventually must end. To be continued.
Charles Ortel, a retired investment banker, concentrates on exposing complex frauds in his new career as an investigator, writer and commentator. Since August 2017, he has been hosting the ''Sunday with Charles'' podcast and covering the Clinton Foundation case in depth using publicly available source materials.'‹
(photo credit, homepage and article images: Hillary Clinton [1], [2], CC BY-SA 2.0, by Gage Skidmore)
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Someday I will become an insta-knight, but for now I'm just a
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Florida School Shooting
Unrolled thread from @TheLastRefuge2
Sat, 24 Feb 2018 21:40
This content can be removed from Twitter at anytime, get a PDF archive by mail!This is a Premium feature, you will be asked to pay 20$for a one year Premium membership with unlimited archiving.
Unrolled thread from @TheLastRefuge2
From Producer Nathan on quotas
So I’ve taught in the hood for several years. I worked in
Nashville’s worst middle school and high school. I can testify to the fact that
ALOT of shady shit goes down in those places. It’s not from teachers but always
admin/district office. They want their suspension numbers down and the grad
rates high. So they find ways to do “restorative justice” and let aggressive
kids go back to class. I had several mentally unstable kids in my class because
the district won’t let us separate them out because it’s “unfair” or makes them
feel “different”. They also lower the
bar for graduation. I was told several times to just give kids passing grades
so our numbers would be higher. The whole system is out of control because of
parents and liberal watch dog groups.
In Nashville the NAACP said they would sue the district
if their suspensions of black students went up. So what did they do? Stop
suspending Black students, even if they hit a kid or stole something.
It’s not the actual schools but the political leaders of
the districts. They tie our hands and keep us from being able to do anything
for the kids who need it. Personally I will stay in education because it needs
good people.
Let me ask you both to stop blaming teachers for most of
these issues and when you discuss the “brainwashing”. I will agree that there
are some bad apples but the curriculum is the problem. We are told what to
teach and too many are unwilling to question authority. Every large city is run
by liberals and that is why our urban schools suffer so much. They force insane
ideologies and you will lose your job if you step out of line.
One last item: you brought up Blooms taxonomy several
weeks ago. The clip was a woman saying that Blooms is a weapon to brainwash our
kids. She doesn’t know what she is talking about at all! Most teachers are not
even taught Blooms anymore and the system itself is a way to ask better
questions. 99% of the strategies teachers are taught don’t work and they are not
used. Dimension A has a way of going over board on the brainwashing idea. Kinda
like crisis actors.
I hope you read this and thank you for everything you’ve
done. You both have changed my life! Thank you!
From Anonymous Producer about recruits
Great show.
The army and air force actively prefer to recruit gamers.
Most of the new UAV platforms have controllers based on the
Two of my Ureal Engine developers have worked on government
combat Sims.
In my time setting up weapons trade shows at the national
harbor. I have seen this first hand.
John I love the last star fighter!
Jake Tapper on Twitter: "This is horrific. ''In November, a tipster called BSO to say Cruz 'could be a school shooter in the making' but deputies did not write up a report on that warning. It came just weeks after a relative called urging BSO to seiz
Fri, 23 Feb 2018 13:46
Skip to contentjaketapper's profile CNN Anchor of @ TheLeadCNN and @ CNNSOTU and Chief Washington Correspondent; author of The Outpost: An Untold Story of American Valor. RTs do not = endorsement.±
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Copy link to TweetEmbed TweetJake Tapper Retweeted Jake Tapper
This is horrific. ''In November, a tipster called BSO to say Cruz 'could be a school shooter in the making' but deputies did not write up a report on that warning. It came just weeks after a relative called urging BSO to seize his weapons.''https:// twitter.com/jaketapper/sta tus/966853104179273729 '... Jake Tapper added,
Jake Tapper² Verified account ‚ @jaketapper Miami Herald: Parkland school cop 'never went in' during the shooting. There were other failures, too http://www. miamiherald.com/news/local/com munity/broward/article201636649.html '...
1,395 replies 4,158 retweets 7,894 likes
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@ NRA does not have blood on their hands. All of the authorities that didn't follow up within their means of the law do0 replies 0 retweets 1 like
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Thanks. Twitter will use this to make your timeline better. Undo
New conversation Jake, it's somewhat odd that all of this is coming out the day after that circus of a town hall your network put on. It almost seems like this info was held back purposefully. Any explanation?
25 replies 96 retweets 548 likes
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96 You would prefer that the teachers that would like to be armed and trained, simply die throwing their bodies in front of their students? Don't tell me teacher should just teach, bc many are indoctrinating kids to their views. That's not their job either.
2 replies 0 retweets 8 likes
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Have fun with that. I'm sure the next homicidal maniac that comes along will respect your wishes and your hatred of an organization that has nothing to do with any of this.
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End of conversation Tweet unavailable
Thank you David. That idiot is obviously uninformed or a complete moron!
2 replies 0 retweets 13 likes
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It's funny because you thought those were big words. Says more about you than it does him.
3 replies 1 retweet 10 likes
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1 End of conversation New conversation So, this person who had not committed a crime (yet) and obtained the weapons legally was supposed to have those weapons confiscated? How about he was never allowed to buy some of them in the first place?
9 replies 6 retweets 80 likes
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6 He was reported to LEO for putting a gun to someone's head...LEO did not follow through....EPIC FAIL.
3 replies 6 retweets 64 likes
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6 I was only responding to the last line in Jake's tweet that said someone called to have his weapons seized. I know nothing about the putting a gun to someone's head since that is not mentioned in the single tweet I responded to.
5 replies 0 retweets 8 likes
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It's ok, the FBI was too busy looking into serious matters (we don't call them investigations anymore), mainly Russians, Russian trolls, and their potential influence in the 2016 election. Which Barry apparently did nothing about.
1 reply 2 retweets 11 likes
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2 Well actually @ JoeBiden confirmed that they wanted a bipartisan announcement from the gang of eight in July or August before the election and McConnell blocked it.1 reply 0 retweets 8 likes
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So President Executive Order kept his mouth shut while continually saying "Donald Trump will not be president"? Cut the cable lady and activate your critical thinking a little.
1 reply 0 retweets 7 likes
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I think that's why they started heavily campaigning. If it was me I'd have risked looking like I was putting my thumb on the scale but they didn't do it. I wish they had shown some guts and just did it. Harry Reid did but it got buried.
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BREAKING: CNN Reports FOUR Broward County Deputies Waited Outside School As Children Were Massacred | Daily Wire
Sat, 24 Feb 2018 00:51
On Friday, CNN issued a shock report finding that earlier reports regarding Broward County Sheriff's Deputy Scot Peterson '-- the armed school safety officer who apparently cowered outside the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School while a mass shooter slaughtered 17 people inside '-- were accurate, but that Peterson wasn't the only officer waiting outside. According to CNN:
When Coral Springs police officers arrived at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on February 14 in the midst of the school shooting crisis, many officers were surprised to find not only that Broward County Sheriff's Deputy Scot Peterson, the armed school resource officer, had not entered the building, but that three other Broward County Sheriff's deputies were also outside the school and had not entered, Coral Springs sources tell CNN. The deputies had their pistols drawn and were behind their vehicles, the sources said, and not one of them had gone into the school.
So there were four armed officers outside the school. And none of them did anything, according to CNN. They instead waited for Coral Springs police to lead the charge inside.
What's more, Coral Springs City Manager Mike Goodrum apparently chewed out Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel over that malfeasance on February 15 '-- more than a week ago. Which means that Israel knew full well that his own office had botched everything dramatically when he stood on stage with CNN's Jake Tapper and a crowd of angry parents and community members and blamed the National Rifle Association and Dana Loesch for his own horrible failure.
Goodrum told CNN:
Given the horrific events of that day emotions were running high and the sheriff and I had a heated moment the following evening. Sheriff Israel and I have spoken several times since and I can assure you that our departments have a good working relationship and the utmost respect for each other.
This is repulsive. Israel should resign from office immediately. And CNN should be ashamed of itself for having allowed this self-aggrandizing political grandstander to shift blame onto people who had nothing to do with the shootings.
The 1927 Bombing That Remains America's Deadliest School Massacre | History | Smithsonian
Sun, 25 Feb 2018 14:58
The Bath School bombing in 1927 remains the deadliest school massacre in U.S. history.
Columbine. Virginia Tech. University of Texas. Sandy Hook. America's terrible history of school shootings is a list whose members can't be named alone. Talk about any single one, and the others always hover on the periphery. But one name rarely gets mentioned among the others, the oldest and deadliest school massacre in U.S. history: the Bath School bombing.
In 1927, Bath was a rural village of 300 people despite its location ten miles from Lansing, the state capital. The local institute of learning was Bath Consolidated School, built only five years earlier to replace the scattered one-room schools of the surrounding farmland. It had 314 students from around the region, many the sons and daughters of farmers. Some students were bused in, and all took classes with their peers over the course of elementary and high school.
May 18 was the last day of classes for students that year, but at 8:45 the north wing of the three-story structure exploded with such force that the boom was heard miles away.
''We knew it came from Bath, but we didn't know what it was or anything, so we jumped in the old car and drove as fast as we could to see what it was,'' Irene Dunham told the Lansing State Journal. The centenarian is the oldest living survivor. She was 19 at the time, a senior about to finish her last year'--and stayed home that morning due to a sore throat.
''There was a pile of children about five or six under the roof and some of them had arms sticking out, some had legs, and some just their heads sticking out. They were unrecognizable because they were covered with dust, plaster and blood,'' wrote local author Monty J. Ellsworth in his 1927 account, The Bath School Disaster. ''It is a miracle that many parents didn't lose their minds before the task of getting their children out of the ruins was completed. It was between five and six o'clock that evening before the last child was taken out.''
As community members rushed to help after the explosion, getting rope to lift up the collapsed roof and pull the students and teachers from the rubble, a member of the school board named Andrew Kehoe drove up to the site. Kehoe stepped out of his truck filled with dynamite and shrapnel, aimed his rifle at it, and fired. The ensuing explosion killed the school superintendent, several other bystanders, and Kehoe himself.
In addition to the hundreds of pounds of explosives that had set off the blast at the school, fire department personnel and police officers found another 500 pounds of unexploded pyrotol dynamite rigged up around the school's basement, along with a container of gasoline that may have been placed there to cause a fire if the dynamite failed. Kehoe had also burned his farmhouse and killed his wife and two horses; their bodies were discovered at the farm, along with a sign attached to the property fence that read, ''Criminals are made, not born.''
The bombing happened on May 18, 1927 and resulted in the deaths of 44 people, including 38 students. (Courtesy of Arnie Bernstein) The new memorial park, in which stands the cupola that was once at the top of the school. (Courtesy of Arnie Bernstein ) A car that was near the school, destroyed by the bombing. (Courtesy of Arnie Bernstein) The remains of Andrew Kehoe's house, where he killed his wife, Nellie. (Courtesy of Arnie Bernstein) Prior to the massacre, Kehoe had been just another community member. He lived with his wife, Nellie, on a farm, and held the position of treasurer on the Bath school board. The one-time electrician had a large supply of explosives'--World War I surplus'--bought from the government that he used to help farmers remove tree stumps. There'd been several unusual incidents prior to the bombing: Kehoe killed his neighbor's dog, beat one of his horses to death, and argued with members of the school board over the cost of ongoing taxes for the consolidated school. But it had never been anything so alarming that other villagers had any suspicion of what was coming.
''A lot of the stupid things he did were just stupid things people did,'' says Arnie Bernstein, the author of Bath Massacre: America's First School Bombing.
In the end 44 people died, 38 of them students. It wasn't the first bombing in the country's history'--at least eight were killed during the Haymarket Square rally in Chicago in 1886, and 30 when a bomb exploded in Manhattan in 1920. But none had been so deadly as this, or affected so many children.
Newspapers rushed to make sense of the tragedy. They called Kehoe insane, demented, a madman. Although there was little understanding of mental illness at that point, the media still tried to find reasons for the bombing. ''He was notified last June that the mortgage on his farm would be foreclosed, and that may have been the circumstance that started the clockwork of anarchy and madness in his brain,'' claimed the New York Times, while the Boston Daily Globe suggested that two head injuries may have disrupted his thinking.
''At the conclusion of the inquest, it says he was of rational mind the whole time,'' Bernstein says. ''It does take a rational mind to plan all that out. The reality is there's no why.''
In the immediate aftermath of the bombing, the community was inundated with well wishes and donations'--as well as rubbernecking tourists. As funerals were held in homes around Bath over the weekend, as many as 50,000 people drove through the town, causing massive traffic jams. But almost as quickly as the media frenzy built up, it abruptly ceased'--in part because of Charles Lindbergh's successful first-ever nonstop transatlantic flight two days after the bombing. Combined with the lack of true mass media, the Bath bombing quickly fell out of the news cycle.
''In a way that's probably the best thing that could happen for the town, because it gave them time to mourn and heal,'' Bernstein says.
Within a year, the school had been repaired, and classes moved from local stores back to the schoolhouse. The school remained in place until the 1970s, when it was torn down and replaced by a memorial park. In the center of the park stands the school's cupola, exactly where it would have been on the school. For Bernstein, it's a place of quiet and peacefulness, a fitting tribute to the students and community members who died.
''In the face of horror we discover how decent we are,'' Bernstein says. ''That, to me, is the beauty of Bath.''
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Antidepressants work for treating depression, study finds
Thu, 22 Feb 2018 22:13
Antidepressants work '' some more effectively than others '' in treating adults with major depressive disorder, according to authors of new study. Photograph: iStock
Antidepressants work '' some more effectively than others '' in treating adults with major depressive disorder, according to authors of a groundbreaking study which doctors hope will finally put to rest doubts about the controversial medicine.
''Our study brings together the best available evidence to inform and guide doctors and patients in their treatment decisions,'' said research head, Dr Andrea Cipriani, University of Oxford and the Oxford Health Biomedical Research Centre.
Through examining trials involving nearly 120,000 people, including patients taking 21 commonly prescribed antidepressants, the research found all the drugs were more effective than a placebo. The findings are not applicable to people with treatment-resistant depression.
The findings are relevant for adults ''experiencing a first or second episode of depression '' the typical population seen in general practice'', according to Dr Cipriani.
However, she said: ''This does not necessarily mean that antidepressants should always be the first line of treatment. Medication should always be considered alongside other options, such as psychological therapies, where these are available.
''Patients should be aware of the potential benefits from antidepressants and always speak to the doctors about the most suitable treatment for them individually,'' said the researcher, who examined tests where some patients had been given antidepressants and others placebos.
New figures released last year by the Health Service Executive (HSE) showed that the number of people on medical cards who were prescribed antidepressants in Ireland increased by 50,000 in the space of five years.
RelatedAn estimated 350 million people have depression worldwide. The economic burden in the USA alone has been estimated to be more than $210 billion.
The latest study was a meta-analysis including 522 double-blind placebo/real antidepressant tests done between 1979 and 2016 which compared 21 commonly-used antidepressants or placebo.
Some antidepressants were more effective than others, with agomelatine, amitriptyline, escitalopram, mirtazapine, paroxetine, venlafaxine, and vortioxetine proving most effective, and fluoxetine, fluvoxamine, reboxetine, and trazodone being the least effective. The majority of the most effective antidepressants are now off patent and available in generic form.
AcceptabilityAntidepressants also differed in terms of acceptability, with agomelatine, citalopram, escitalopram, fluoxetine, sertraline, and vortioxetine proving most tolerable, and amitriptyline, clomipramine, duloxetine, fluvoxamine, reboxetine, trazodone, and venlafaxine being the least tolerable.
Prof Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the Royal College of GPs, said taking antidepressants was frequently portrayed as a negative thing ''but this in itself can add to the unfortunate stigma that sometimes exists around people with mental health conditions''.
The research should reassure patients and doctors, she said. ''Depression is a significant mental illness which, if left untreated or unmanaged, can cause a huge amount of distress for a patient, their family and friends. It should never be swept under the carpet or ignored.''
Prof Carmine Pariante, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience and spokesperson for the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said the study ''finally puts to bed the controversy on antidepressants, clearly showing that these drugs do work in lifting mood and helping most people with depression''.
''Importantly, the paper analyses unpublished data held by pharmaceutical companies, and shows that the funding of studies by these companies does not influence the result, thus confirming that the clinical usefulness of these drugs is not affected by pharma-sponsored spin,'' she said.
Prof Pariante said this type of study cannot account for individual differences in response to medication, and ''we still need to understand why some antidepressants work better than others, even within classes of drugs that supposedly have the same pharmacological actions''.
She said: ''Also, this paper does not help us understand how best to help patients who have treatment-resistant depression and cannot improve on any of the 21 antidepressants tested here. Nevertheless, for the millions of individuals with depression who are taking antidepressants at present, or will need to take antidepressants in the future, it confirms that these drugs are safe and effective.''
David Taylor, Professor of Psychopharmacology, King's College London pointed out that the most effective antidepressant found is amitriptyline '' an antidepressant first found in the 1950s.
''This analysis of a huge number of studies of antidepressants confirms that they are much more effective than placebo - itself a powerful treatment in depression. Differences between antidepressants are smaller, although newer drugs tend to be better tolerated.'' ''Agencies
Comparative efficacy and acceptability of 21 antidepressant drugs for the acute treatment of adults with major depressive disorder: a systematic review and network meta-analysis - The Lancet
Sun, 25 Feb 2018 14:35
Evidence before this study
Antidepressants are routinely used worldwide for the treatment of major depressive disorder, which is one of the most important global health challenges; however, in the scientific literature, there remains considerable debate about both their effectiveness as a group, and the potential differences in effectiveness and tolerability between individual drugs. With the marketing of new antidepressants and increasing numbers of trials published every year, an updated systematic review and network meta-analysis was required to synthesise the evidence in this important clinical area.
Added value of this study
This network meta-analysis represents a major update and extension of our previous study, which addressed 12 antidepressants with data for head-to-head comparisons only, and provides the best currently available evidence base to guide the choice about pharmacological treatment for adults with acute major depressive disorder. We now include a more comprehensive list of 21 antidepressants and placebo, consider three new clinical outcome measures and many potential effect modifiers, and use the most advanced statistical methodology for network meta-analysis to date.
Implications of all the available evidence
Our findings should inform clinical guidelines and assist the shared decision making process between patients, carers, and clinicians in routine practice on selecting the most appropriate antidepressant for adults with acute major depressive disorder. Future research should seek to extend network meta-analysis to combine aggregate and individual-patient data from trials in a so-called individual-patient data network meta-analysis. This analysis will allow the prediction of personalised clinical outcomes, such as early response or specific side-effects, and the estimate of comparative efficacy at multiple timepoints.
IntroductionPsychiatric disorders account for 22·8% of the global burden of diseases.1x 1 GBD 2013 DALYs and HALE Collaborators, Murray, CJ, Barber, RM et al. Global, regional, and national disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) for 306 diseases and injuries and healthy life expectancy (HALE) for 188 countries, 1990''2013: quantifying the epidemiological transition. Lancet . 2015 ; 386 : 2145''2191
Summary | Full Text | Full Text PDF | PubMed | Scopus (460) | Google Scholar See all References The leading cause of this disability is depression, which has substantially increased since 1990, largely driven by population growth and ageing.2x 2 GBD 2015 DALYs and HALE Collaborators. Global, regional, and national disability-adjusted life-years (DALYs) for 315 diseases and injuries and healthy life expectancy (HALE), 1990''2015: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2015. Lancet . 2016 ; 388 : 1603''1658
Summary | Full Text | Full Text PDF | PubMed | Scopus (231) | Google Scholar See all References With an estimated 350 million people affected globally, the economic burden of depressive disorders in the USA alone has been estimated to be more than US$210 billion, with approximately 45% attributable to direct costs, 5% to suicide-related costs, and 50% to workplace costs.3x 3 WHO. Depression: fact sheet. World Health Organisation , Geneva ; 2017 http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs369/en/. ()
Google Scholar See all References This trend poses a substantial challenge for health systems in both developed and developing countries, with the need to treat patients, optimise resources, and improve overall health care in mental health.
Grouped into various classes of drugs with slightly different mechanisms of action, antidepressants are widely used treatments for major depressive disorder, which are available worldwide. However, there is a long-lasting debate and concern about their efficacy and effectiveness, because short-term benefits are, on average, modest; and because long-term balance of benefits and harms is often understudied.4x 4 Ioannidis, JP. Effectiveness of antidepressants: an evidence myth constructed from a thousand randomized trials?. Philos Ethics Humanit Med . 2008 ; 3 : 14
Crossref | PubMed | Scopus (97) | Google Scholar See all References Therefore, innovation in psychopharmacology is of crucial importance, but the identification of new molecular targets is difficult, primarily because of the paucity of knowledge about how antidepressants work.5x 5 Harmer, CJ, Duman, RS, and Cowen, PJ. How do antidepressants work? New perspectives for refining future treatment approaches. Lancet Psychiatry . 2017 ; 4 : 409''418
Summary | Full Text | Full Text PDF | PubMed | Scopus (7) | Google Scholar See all References In routine practice, clinicians have a wide choice of individual drugs and they need good evidence to make the best choice for each individual patient. Network meta-analyses of existing datasets make it possible to estimate comparative efficacy, summarise and interpret the wider picture of the evidence base, and to understand the relative merits of the multiple interventions.6x 6 Higgins, JP and Welton, NJ. Network meta-analysis: a norm for comparative effectiveness?. Lancet . 2015 ; 386 : 628''630
Summary | Full Text | Full Text PDF | PubMed | Scopus (11) | Google Scholar See all References Therefore, in this study, we aimed to do a systematic review and network meta-analysis to inform clinical practice by comparing different antidepressants for the acute treatment of adults with unipolar major depressive disorder.
MethodsSearch strategy and selection criteriaWe did a systematic review and network meta-analysis. We searched the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, CINAHL, Embase, LILACS database, MEDLINE, MEDLINE In-Process, PsycINFO, AMED, the UK National Research Register, and PSYNDEX from the date of their inception to Jan 8, 2016, with no language restrictions. We used the search terms ''depress*'' OR ''dysthymi*'' OR ''adjustment disorder*'' OR ''mood disorder*'' OR ''affective disorder'' OR ''affective symptoms'' combined with a list of all included antidepressants.
We included double-blind, randomised controlled trials (RCTs) comparing antidepressants with placebo or another active antidepressant as oral monotherapy for the acute treatment of adults ('‰¥18 years old and of both sexes) with a primary diagnosis of major depressive disorder according to standard operationalised diagnostic criteria (Feighner criteria, Research Diagnostic Criteria, DSM-III, DSM-III-R, DSM-IV, DSM-5, and ICD-10). We considered only double-blind trials because we included placebo in the network meta-analysis, and because this study design increases methodological rigour by minimising performance and ascertainment biases.7x 7 Hr"bjartsson, A, Thomsen, AS, Emanuelsson, F et al. Observer bias in randomized clinical trials with measurement scale outcomes: a systematic review of trials with both blinded and nonblinded assessors. CMAJ . 2013 ; 185 : E201''E211
Crossref | PubMed | Scopus (154) | Google Scholar See all References Additionally, we included all second-generation antidepressants approved by the regulatory agencies in the USA, Europe, or Japan: agomelatine, bupropion, citalopram, desvenlafaxine, duloxetine, escitalopram, fluoxetine, fluvoxamine, levomilnacipran, milnacipran, mirtazapine, paroxetine, reboxetine, sertraline, venlafaxine, vilazodone, and vortioxetine. To inform clinical practice globally, we selected the two tricyclics (amitriptyline and clomipramine) included in the WHO Model List of Essential Medicines). We also included trazodone and nefazodone, because of their distinct effect and tolerability profiles. Additionally, we included trials that allowed rescue medications so long as they were equally provided among the randomised groups. We included data only for drugs within the therapeutic range (appendix pp 133, 134appendix pp 133, 134 ). Finally, we excluded quasi-randomised trials and trials that were incomplete or included 20% or more of participants with bipolar disorder, psychotic depression, or treatment-resistant depression; or patients with a serious concomitant medical illness.
The electronic database searches were supplemented with manual searches for published, unpublished, and ongoing RCTs in international trial registers, websites of drug approval agencies, and key scientific journals in the field.8x 8 Furukawa, TA, Salanti, G, Atkinson, LZ et al. Comparative efficacy and acceptability of first-generation and second-generation antidepressants in the acute treatment of major depression: protocol for a network meta-analysis. BMJ Open . 2016 ; 6 : e010919
Crossref | PubMed | Scopus (13) | Google Scholar See all References For example, we searched ClinicalTrials.gov using the search term ''major depressive disorder'' combined with a list of all included antidepressants. We contacted all the pharmaceutical companies marketing antidepressants and asked for supplemental unpublished information about both premarketing and post-marketing studies, with a specific focus on second-generation antidepressants. We also contacted study authors and drug manufacturers to supplement incomplete reports of the original papers or provide data for unpublished studies.
Six pairs of investigators (ACi, TAF, LZA, SL, HGR, YO, NT, YH, EHT, HI, KS, and AT) independently selected the studies, reviewed the main reports and supplementary materials, extracted the relevant information from the included trials, and assessed the risk of bias. Any discrepancies were resolved by consensus and arbitration by a panel of investigators within the review team (ACi, TAF, LZA, EHT, and JRG).
The full protocol of this network meta-analysis has been published.8x 8 Furukawa, TA, Salanti, G, Atkinson, LZ et al. Comparative efficacy and acceptability of first-generation and second-generation antidepressants in the acute treatment of major depression: protocol for a network meta-analysis. BMJ Open . 2016 ; 6 : e010919
Crossref | PubMed | Scopus (13) | Google Scholar See all References
OutcomesOur primary outcomes were efficacy (response rate measured by the total number of patients who had a reduction of '‰¥50% of the total score on a standardised observer-rating scale for depression) and acceptability (treatment discontinuation measured by the proportion of patients who withdrew for any reason).8x 8 Furukawa, TA, Salanti, G, Atkinson, LZ et al. Comparative efficacy and acceptability of first-generation and second-generation antidepressants in the acute treatment of major depression: protocol for a network meta-analysis. BMJ Open . 2016 ; 6 : e010919
Crossref | PubMed | Scopus (13) | Google Scholar See all References All-cause discontinuation was used as a measure for the acceptability of treatments, because it encompasses efficacy and tolerability.9x 9 Cipriani, A, Furukawa, TA, Salanti, G et al. Comparative efficacy and acceptability of 12 new-generation antidepressants: a multiple-treatment meta-analysis. Lancet . 2009 ; 373 : 746''758
Summary | Full Text | Full Text PDF | PubMed | Scopus (949) | Google Scholar See all References Secondary outcomes were endpoint depression score, remission rate, and the proportion of patients who dropped out early because of adverse events. When depressive symptoms had been measured with more than one standardised rating scale, we used a predefined hierarchy, based on psychometric properties and consistency of use across included trials.8x 8 Furukawa, TA, Salanti, G, Atkinson, LZ et al. Comparative efficacy and acceptability of first-generation and second-generation antidepressants in the acute treatment of major depression: protocol for a network meta-analysis. BMJ Open . 2016 ; 6 : e010919
Crossref | PubMed | Scopus (13) | Google Scholar See all References In the absence of information or supplemental data from the authors, response rate was calculated according to a validated imputation method.10x 10 Furukawa, TA, Cipriani, A, Barbui, C, Brambilla, P, and Watanabe, N. Imputing response rates from means and standard deviations in meta-analyses. Int Clin Psychopharmacol . 2005 ; 20 : 49''52
Crossref | PubMed | Scopus (105) | Google Scholar See all References We recorded the outcomes as close to 8 weeks as possible for all analyses.9x 9 Cipriani, A, Furukawa, TA, Salanti, G et al. Comparative efficacy and acceptability of 12 new-generation antidepressants: a multiple-treatment meta-analysis. Lancet . 2009 ; 373 : 746''758
Summary | Full Text | Full Text PDF | PubMed | Scopus (949) | Google Scholar See all References If information at 8 weeks was not available, we used data ranging between 4 and 12 weeks (we gave preference to the timepoint closest to 8 weeks; if equidistant, we took the longer outcome). We checked trial protocols where available and compared published with unpublished data. We extracted data following a predefined hierarchy described in our protocol and gave priority to unpublished information in case of disagreement.8x 8 Furukawa, TA, Salanti, G, Atkinson, LZ et al. Comparative efficacy and acceptability of first-generation and second-generation antidepressants in the acute treatment of major depression: protocol for a network meta-analysis. BMJ Open . 2016 ; 6 : e010919
Crossref | PubMed | Scopus (13) | Google Scholar See all References
Data analysisFor studies published more than once (ie, duplicates), we included only the report with the most informative and complete data. Full details of the applied statistical approaches are provided in the protocol.8x 8 Furukawa, TA, Salanti, G, Atkinson, LZ et al. Comparative efficacy and acceptability of first-generation and second-generation antidepressants in the acute treatment of major depression: protocol for a network meta-analysis. BMJ Open . 2016 ; 6 : e010919
Crossref | PubMed | Scopus (13) | Google Scholar See all References We estimated summary odds ratios (ORs) for dichotomous outcomes and standardised mean differences (SMD, Cohen's d) for continuous outcomes using pairwise and network meta-analysis. In network meta-analysis, we used group-level data; the binomial likelihood was used for dichotomous outcomes and the normal likelihood for continuous outcomes. The study effect sizes were then synthesised using a random-effects network meta-analysis model. We accounted for the correlations induced by multi-group studies by using multivariate distributions. The variance in the random-effects distribution (heterogeneity variance) was considered to measure the extent of across-study and within-comparison variability on treatment effects. Additionally, in network meta-analysis, we assumed that the amount of heterogeneity was the same for all treatment comparisons. To assess the amount of heterogeneity, we compared the posterior distribution of the estimated heterogeneity variance with its predictive distribution.11x 11 Rhodes, KM, Turner, RM, and Higgins, JP. Predictive distributions were developed for the extent of heterogeneity in meta-analyses of continuous outcome data. J Clin Epidemiol . 2015 ; 68 : 52''60
Summary | Full Text | Full Text PDF | PubMed | Scopus (35) | Google Scholar See all References To rank the treatments for each outcome, we used the surface under the cumulative ranking curve (SUCRA) and the mean ranks.12x 12 Salanti, G, Ades, AE, and Ioannidis, JP. Graphical methods and numerical summaries for presenting results from multiple-treatment meta-analysis: an overview and tutorial. J Clin Epidemiol . 2011 ; 64 : 163''171
Summary | Full Text | Full Text PDF | PubMed | Scopus (502) | Google Scholar See all References The transitivity assumption underlying network meta-analysis was evaluated by comparing the distribution of clinical and methodological variables that could act as effect modifiers across treatment comparisons.8x 8 Furukawa, TA, Salanti, G, Atkinson, LZ et al. Comparative efficacy and acceptability of first-generation and second-generation antidepressants in the acute treatment of major depression: protocol for a network meta-analysis. BMJ Open . 2016 ; 6 : e010919
Crossref | PubMed | Scopus (13) | Google Scholar See all References We did a statistical evaluation of consistency (ie, the agreement between direct and indirect evidence) using the design-by-treatment test13x 13 Higgins, JP, Jackson, D, Barrett, JK, Lu, G, Ades, AE, and White, IR. Consistency and inconsistency in network meta-analysis: concepts and models for multi-arm studies. Res Synth Methods . 2012 ; 3 : 98''110
Crossref | PubMed | Google Scholar See all References and by separating direct evidence from indirect evidence.14x 14 Dias, S, Welton, NJ, Caldwell, DM, and Ades, AE. Checking consistency in mixed treatment comparison meta-analysis. Stat Med . 2010 ; 29 : 932''944
Crossref | PubMed | Scopus (378) | Google Scholar See all References
We assessed the studies' risk of bias in accordance to the Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions. Additionally, we assessed the certainty of evidence contributing to network estimates of the main outcomes with the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) framework.15x 15 Salanti, G, Del Giovane, C, Chaimani, A, Caldwell, DM, and Higgins, JP. Evaluating the quality of evidence from a network meta-analysis. PLoS One . 2014 ; 9 : e99682
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We evaluated whether treatment effects for the two primary outcomes were robust in subgroup analyses and network meta-regression using study year, sponsorship, depressive severity at baseline, dosing schedule, study precision (ie, small study effect), and novelty effect.16x 16 Salanti, G, Dias, S, Welton, NJ et al. Evaluating novel agent effects in multiple-treatments meta-regression. Stat Med . 2010 ; 29 : 2369''2383
PubMed | Google Scholar See all References The appendix (pp 133''36)appendix (pp 133''36) summarises the definition of covariates. The sensitivity of our conclusions was evaluated by analysing the dataset with the following restrictions: studies with reported response rate, studies using accepted doses in all groups, studies with unpublished data, multi-centre studies, and head-to-head studies. We used comparison-adjusted funnel plots to investigate whether results in imprecise trials differ from those in more precise trials.17x 17 Chaimani, A, Higgins, JP, Mavridis, D, Spyridonos, P, and Salanti, G. Graphical tools for network meta-analysis in STATA. PLoS One . 2013 ; 8 : e76654
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We fitted all models in OpenBUGS (version 3.2.2)18x 18 Lunn, D, Spiegelhalter, D, Thomas, A et al. The BUGS project: evolution, critique and future directions. Stat Med . 2009 ; 28 : 3049''3067
Crossref | PubMed | Scopus (904) | Google Scholar See all References using the binomial likelihood for dichotomous outcomes, uninformative prior distributions for the treatment effects, and a minimally informative prior distribution for the common heterogeneity SD. We assumed uninformative priors'--ie, N(0,1000)'--for all meta-regression coefficients. Convergence of models was ensured by visual inspection of three chains and after considering the Brooks''Gelman''Rubin diagnostic. The codes of analyses, statistical details of the meta-analysis, and meta-regression models are presented in the appendix (pp 182, 183)appendix (pp 182, 183) . Statistical evaluation of inconsistency and production of network graphs and result figures were done using the network and network graphs packages in Stata (version 14.2).19x 19 Chaimani, A and Salanti, G. Visualizing assumptions and results in network meta-analysis: the network graphs package. Stata J . 2015 ; 15 : 905''950
Google Scholar See all References Network meta-analyses of the primary outcomes were duplicated using the netmeta 0.9-6 package in R (version 3.4.0).20x 20 Schwarzer, G. Network meta-analysis. in: G Schwarzer, JR Carpenter, G R¼cker (Eds.) Meta-analysis with R . Springer , Berlin ; 2015 : 187''216
Crossref | Google Scholar See all References The appendix (p 289)appendix (p 289) lists the changes to the original protocol. The study was done from March 12, 2012, to June 4, 2016, and data analysis was done from June 5, 2016, to Sept 18, 2017.
This study is registered with PROSPERO, number CRD42012002291.
Data sharingWith the publication of this Article, the full dataset will be freely available online in Mendeley Data, a secure online repository for research data, which allows archiving of any file type and assigns a permanent and unique digital object identifier (DOI) so that the files can be easily referenced (DOI:10.17632/83rthbp8ys.2).
Role of the funding sourceThe funder of this study had no role in study design, data collection, data analysis, data interpretation, writing of the report, or in the decision to submit for publication. ACi, TAF, GS, ACh, LZA, and YO had full access to all the data, and ACi was responsible for the decision to submit for publication.
Results28'552 citations were identified by the search and 680 potentially eligible articles were retrieved in full text (figure 1figure 1 ). We included 421 trials from the database search, 86 unpublished studies from trial registries and pharmaceutical company websites, and 15 from personal communication or hand-searching other review articles. Overall, 522 double-blind, parallel, RCTs (comprising 116'477 patients) done between 1979 and 2016, and comparing 21 antidepressants or placebo were included in the analysis (appendix pp 6''64appendix pp 6''64 ). The appendix (pp 65''114)appendix (pp 65''114) summarises the characteristics of included studies. The mean study sample size was 224 participants (SD 186). In total, 87'052 participants were randomly assigned to an active drug and 29'425 were randomly assigned to placebo. The mean age was 44 years (SD 9) for both men and women; 38'404 (62·3%) of 61'681 of the sample population were women. The median duration of the acute treatment was 8 weeks (IQR 6''8). 243 (47%) of 522 studies randomly assigned participants to three or more groups, and 304 (58%) of 522 were placebo-controlled trials. 391 (83%) of 472 were multi-centre studies and 335 (77%) of 437 studies recruited outpatients only. 252 (48%) of 522 trials recruited patients from North America, 37 (7%) from Asia, and 140 (27%) from Europe (59 [11%] trials were cross-continental and the remaining 34 [7%] were either from other regions or did not specify). The great majority of patients had moderate-to-severe major depressive disorder, with a mean reported baseline severity score on the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale 17-item of 25·7 (SD 3·97) among 464 (89%) of 522 studies. Response rate was imputed in 20'608 (17·7%) of 116'447 cases. Rescue medications (typically benzodiazepines or other sedative hypnotics) were allowed in 187 (36%) of 522 studies. 409 (78%) of 522 studies were funded by pharmaceutical companies. We retrieved unpublished information for 274 (52%) of the included trials. Consistent with the study protocol, the primary analysis was based on the 474 studies (comprising 106'966 patients) that used drugs within the licensed dose range (ie, the dosage approved by the regulatory agencies in the USA and Europe; appendix pp 133, 134appendix pp 133, 134 ).
Figure 1 Study selection process
RCTs=randomised controlled trials. *Industry websites, contact with authors, and trial registries. The total number of unpublished records is the total number of results for each drug and on each unpublished database source. ' 522 RCTs corresponded to 814 treatment groups.
Figure 2Figure 2 shows the network of eligible comparisons for efficacy and acceptability. All antidepressant drugs, except milnacipran, had at least one placebo-controlled trial. Only levomilnacipran was not directly compared with at least another active drug in any of the networks. The appendix (pp 139''44)appendix (pp 139''44) provides detailed results of pairwise meta-analyses. Figure 3Figure 3 shows the network meta-analysis' results for the primary outcomes. In terms of efficacy (432 RCTs, comprising 102'443 patients), all antidepressants were more effective than placebo, with ORs ranging between 2·13 (95% credible interval [CrI] 1·89''2·41) for amitriptyline and 1·37 (1·16''1·63) for reboxetine. In terms of acceptability (422 RCTs, comprising 99'787 patients), agomelatine (OR 0·84, 95% CrI 0·72''0·97) and fluoxetine (0·88, 0·80''0·96) were associated with fewer dropouts than placebo; by contrast, clomipramine was worse than placebo (1·30, 1·01''1·68).
Figure 2 Network meta-analysis of eligible comparisons for efficacy (A) and acceptability (B)
Width of the lines is proportional to the number of trials comparing every pair of treatments. Size of every circle is proportional to the number of randomly assigned participants (ie, sample size).
Figure 3 Forest plots of network meta-analysis of all trials for efficacy (A) and acceptability (B)
Antidepressants were compared with placebo, which was the reference compound. OR=odds ratio. CrI=credible interval.
The relative efficacy of antidepressants compared with placebo is also shown for remission (appendix pp 152, 153appendix pp 152, 153 ). The random-effects summary SMD for all antidepressants was 0·30 (95% CrI 0·26''0·34; p
Millions more of us should be taking antidepressants | Daily Mail Online
Sun, 25 Feb 2018 14:36
Antidepressants are highly effective and should be prescribed to millions more people with mental health problems, researchers declared last night.
After the largest-ever study, the Oxford University-led team said they had wanted to 'give the final answer' to the controversy of whether or not the pills effectively treat depression.
Their study, which examined 120,000 people in more than 500 trials across three decades, concluded emphatically that antidepressants do work.
Antidepressants are highly effective and should be prescribed to millions more people with mental health problems, researchers declared last night (above, the most effective drugs revealed)
And although prescription rates have soared in recent years '' with 10 per cent of British adults now on antidepressants '' the researchers warned that only one in six people was receiving effective treatment for depression, suggesting that millions more should be given the pills.
They hope their findings will encourage GPs to prescribe the drugs for people with the more severe forms of the illness.
Professor Andrea Cipriani, who led the six-year review of international research, said the findings were proof that antidepressants should be used more. He added: 'Antidepressants are an effective tool for depression. To under-treat depression is a huge problem we need to be aware of. Not the right people are getting access.'
Professor John Geddes, Oxford's head of psychiatry, said: 'This isn't just a bit of common unhappiness, this is a major mental health problem that really is devastating for an awful lot of human lives. Poor access to available treatment would not be tolerated if it related to high blood pressure or cancer.'
Their study, which examined 120,000 people in more than 500 trials across three decades, concluded emphatically that antidepressants do work
The researchers looked at the effectiveness of 21 antidepressants. The study, funded by the research arm of the NHS, found some were more effective than others, but concluded they all reduced symptoms of depression more than a placebo.
It found that half to two-thirds of patients '' typically suffering with symptoms including loss of self-worth, tiredness, sadness and disturbed sleep '' would benefit from treatment.
Professor Carmine Pariante, spokesman for the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said: 'This analysis finally puts to bed the controversy on antidepressants, clearly showing that these drugs do work in lifting mood and helping most people with depression.'
The report comes just months after a report ranked the UK fourth out of 29 Western countries in a league table of antidepressant use. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development found people in the UK take nearly twice as many antidepressants as those in France, Italy or Holland, five times as many as those in Korea and eight times as many as in Latvia.
Glyn Lewis, professor of psychiatric epidemiology at University College London, said: 'Antidepressants often receive a bad press but this paper shows they have a role in the management for people with depression.'
The researchers looked at the effectiveness of 21 antidepressants. The study, funded by the research arm of the NHS, found some were more effective than others, but concluded they all reduced symptoms of depression more than a placebo
Dude named Josh-Video Games, Predictive Programming, and the 21st Century Skinner Box
Sun, 25 Feb 2018 14:09
By Rusticus
Perhaps the most encouraging development in fostering freedom in our modern era is the rise of effective ''counter-propaganda'' to the machinations of Globalism, the likes of which have (arguably) not been circulated so widely since the pamphleteers of the 16th and 17th Centuries. The digital era has brought rise to propaganda and psychological warfare's perfect foil: The alternative media's adoption of open source intelligence analysis.
Open source investigations abound on virtually every subject of Deep Political significance today; and, as a result, propaganda can be deconstructed by anyone with an Internet connection. Didn't know that Ben Affleck was a CIA agent whose handler is Chase Brandon? That information is available to you. Interested in the weaponization of novels, or CDC and Defense Department ''assistance'' given to big-budget Hollywood disaster flicks? Just point and click.
However, if one were pondering why the first-person shooter they just purchased for their Xbox was laden with pro-war propaganda while simultaneously training the player in reflexive shooting, one might have a more difficult task ahead of them; despite the vast influence of the gaming industry on 21st Century culture, virtually no investigative mettle has been assigned to the task of rooting out Deep State actors within the field.
That is, until today.
Foundations, Think Tanks, and Academia: The Usual Suspects and the Revolving Door
Collusion between video game developers and the Military Industrial Complex has come a long way since Atari's 1980 tank combat game Battlezone was used by the US Army as a Bradley tank training simulator. It's come an equally long way since the 1996 creation of ''Marine DOOM.'' The vector graphics of Yesteryear have given way to ever-increasing polygon counts, the shoot-em-ups of the 2D-gaming era dissipating in a sea of first-person shooters (or FPS games). The US Army, too, has evolved in kind; no longer are such training simulators masquerading as video games aimed merely at enlistees, but the populous at large. In this respect, the Army's pet project, America's Army, is the Bradley Tank Simulator's modern analogue.
Originally published in 2002 (with over 40 iterations released since as of 2015), America's Army is the brainchild of one Colonel Casey Wardynski. Running on the widely used Unreal Engine, the game is distributed at no cost on multiple platforms; in line with Wardynski's original vision, the series' intention is to ''[use] computer game technology to provide the public a virtual Soldier experience that was engaging, informative and entertaining.'' In other words, a ''soldier simulation FPS,'' more realistic than its big-budget, Hollywood-esque counterparts.
Some might even characterize it as military training software, somewhat ham-fistedly and morbidly marketed the towards the very teenagers and young men the Army intends to recruit.
Colonel Wardynski, the architect of this marketing and conditioning strategy, is a renaissance man as Globalists are concerned. An economist, Professor, Colonel, game designer, Ivy Leaguer, and, most recently, Huntsville, AL Superintendent, Wardynski's biography reads like that of a polymath:
Most interesting is his post-graduate degree, attained from the highly selective RAND Graduate School, an offshoot of the avowedly Globalist RAND Corporation, graduating a mere 100 students per year. Simultaneously a Think Tank, policy analyst, and propagandist, the RAND Corporation, like Colonel Wardynski, wears many hats. Widely known as an integral component of the Military Industrial Complex's well-oiled psychological warfare machine, that the RAND Corporation would produce a man like Wardynski is less than shocking. RAND's constant ability to evolve its propagandistic ambitions, from Radio Free Europe of the 20th Century to the video games of today, however, is a noteworthy feat.
Taking into account the sizable Rockefeller, Carnegie, and Ford Foundation grants issued to RAND throughout the decades, its pervasive influence is more easily explained. As a disciple of RAND, Wardynski's acknowledgement of game theory in the form of America's Army displays his creative appreciation for history, if nothing else. The RAND Corporation is hardly alone within the Military Industrial Complex in its pursuit of games-based propaganda. The infamous DARPA and CIA subcontractor, SRI International, is also hard at work developing video games, though its project takes a radically different approach: Operant conditioning of children in the classroom.
Like RAND, the Stanford Research Institute, or SRI, has a long, diverse, and to the discerning eye, somewhat disreputable history. From the seemingly strange to the ruthlessly pragmatic, SRI has offered its ''unique'' skillset to many a government agency. In the 1970s, they were a witting CIA subcontractor in the pursuit of ''psychic supersoldiers,'' which, according to the CIA, yielded ''actionable intelligence.'' More recently, SRI created Apple's artificial intelligence, SIRI, yet many remain unaware of the fact that SIRI is merely the ''civilian'' iteration of a military AI, developed by SRI for DARPA.
Did I mention that SRI created nearly all of modern computing back in 1968? From the computer mouse to hypertext, from word processing to videoconferencing, SRI, in cooperation with ARPA (using the ARPANET), NASA, and the Air Force, is the progenitor of our 21st Century ''Technotronic Era'':
SRI is now leveraging its vast experience in the technological realm with its foray into ''Digital Games for Learning,'' ostensibly creating conditioning software ''focused on the cognitive effects of simulations in K-12 STEM education.'' STEM (or Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) is the latest educational initiative in a long line of Prussian-style ''reforms'' and a focus of the oft-criticized ''Common Core'' agenda. Where Common Core lurks, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is never far behind, making their partnership with SRI Education in this venture somewhat predictable:
You're welcome to read GlassLab's wordy executive report on ''Digital Games for STEM Learning,'' but in brief, SRI and the Gates Foundation have determined what marketers at Sony, Nintendo, and Gates' own Microsoft have known for decades: Video games are an excellent way to operantly and classically condition children. Gone are the days of focus on literature, the Arts, and the Trivium Method of learning necessary to create independent and holistic minds. SRI, the Gates Foundation, and popular game creator and publisher Electronic Arts (progenitor of the propaganda-laden Battlefield series) will now pump out automatons using a digital Skinner Box:
Simply set your kids (lab rats) in front of your fancy new iPad (operant conditioning chamber) and enjoy your new and improved human resource. No parenting necessary. The Simulacra is Gates, SRI, and Common Core approved!
Hopefully the Foundation's well-documented history as eugenicists doesn't play on your unpsychopathic conscience. There's a pill for that, I think.
This endemic relationship between the military, academia, Foundations, and the gaming industry recently manifested on the global stage by way of Syriza's Yanis Varoufakis. Before playing the role of ''Hero of the People'' as Syriza's Finance Minister, Varoufakis was a Cambridge fellow, member of the Globalist Brookings Institution, and former Economic Advisor to Papandreou, the man responsible for brokering Greece's austerity deal with the EU in the first place.
His career also includes a foray into the gaming industry as a private consultant for the VALVE Corporation, founded by former Microsoft employees Gabe Newell and Mike Harrington and creators of famous titles like the dystopian FPS Half-Life and first-person puzzle game Portal. VALVE also operates the popular game distribution platform, STEAM, which distributes the aforementioned America's Army.
As advancements in artificial intelligence, bioinformatics, and technological convergence coalesce into the emergence of the post-human era, the capable eyes of open source intelligence analysts should turn their glance towards the gaming industry as a tool of propaganda, as has readily been done with literature, Hollywood, and television. The few documented connections outlined herein are merely a foundation upon which others will (hopefully) build far more complete works.
Psychological Warfare's ''Call of Duty''
In addition to military training and conditioning software, the psychological warfare tactic known as predictive programming is also alive and well in modern video games. Infinity Ward's FPS series, Call of Duty, which is known for its bombastic, Michael Bay-esque Hollywood style, fittingly ''envisioned'' the 2013 Syria Crisis in its 2007 title, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare.
The game focuses upon two branching military campaigns: One by the Marine Corps in an unnamed Middle Eastern country (situated on the in-game map directly atop modern Syria) run by a cartoonish dictator generically referred to as none other than ''Al-Asad,'' the other by a British SAS team combating ''ultranationalist Russians'' who are supporting this thinly veiled tin-pot Arabic dictator. After a patriotic romp through Central Asia, ''Al-Asad'' predictably (predicatively?) uses ''Weapons of Mass Destruction'' on his own people, leading to a climactic final battle at a Russian nuclear site in a bid to avoid World War III.
The plot is so reminiscent of the mainstream media coverage amidst the 2013 chemical False Flag blamed on actual Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad, that it's surprising to see that no one (to my knowledge) has yet drawn the comparison. Readers are encouraged to decide for themselves.
The Call of Duty series' latest entry adds a twist of Transhumanist futurism to the mix; Call of Duty: Black Ops III's trailer recounts humanity's potential future, looking back from the 2060s on the development of Cybernetics, Technocracy, and ''super soldiers.'' It's even complete with an Edward Snowden lookalike:
While this retrospective ignores Google employee and futurist Ray Kurzweil's predicted ''Singularity'' of 2045, it does imply the fulfillment of another Kurzweil vision, World Government.
And though dystopic Sci-Fi fiction has become increasingly pervasive in modern entertainment and is not necessarily indicative of Deep Political intent or investment, the series' previous installment contains at least one noteworthy Deep Political actor among its staff:
International drug dealer, gun runner, and USMC Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North's credit for Call of Duty: Black Ops II
It is at this point in our investigation (much to this author's chagrin) at which open-source intelligence begins to fall short; unlike the intelligence networks in Hollywood mapped out by researchers like Tom Secker of SpyCulture, the gaming industry has no similar analogue with which to explore these loose hypotheses further. In a personal attempt to begin creating a document trail, I decided to pluck at (or in this case, FOIA for) the low-hanging fruit: The widely attributed Military Industrial Complex assistance to FPS games like Call of Duty, enshrined in most military game credits:
The credited military assistance to Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
Filing a request with each listed branch in kind, I inquired for the following documents:
Requesting any and all documentation related to the USMC's assistance and/or funding of the 2007 entertainment software title Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare by Infinity Ward. Specific documentation on the involvement of (but not limited to) the USMC 1st Tank Battalion, Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 775, and USMC 5th Battalion 14th Marines on the production of this game should be included.
In addition, I filed a number of more general requests for information on military assistance to the games industry in general, all of which were flatlyrejected. The Marine Corps has yet to respond to my Call of Duty 4 request in full, but one division has '' Marine Aircraft Group 39 '' who sent me the following:
You can read the denial in full here; but, unfortunately, it seems the meticulous and disciplined record-keepers at the USMC have either lost these documents upon HMLA-775's decommissioning or never had them in the first place.
However, a third possibility exists: They're simply not looking hard enough. It is at this point that I implore readers, researchers, and curious minds alike to file FOIA requests of your own on government assistance to the gaming industry. While FOIA is far from a perfect tool, this should hardly dissuade individuals from utilizing it while it still exists. Targeting information on an industry whose Military Industrial Complex funding is virtually undocumented, yet has still come to rival the distribution and revenue of Hollywood seems a worthwhile task that, with enough effort, may very well yield important revelations.
File a Federal FOIA Request (By Agency)
Central Intelligence Agency: http://www.foia.cia.gov/foia_request
Federal Bureau of Investigation: https://www.fbi.gov/foia/
Department of Homeland Security: http://www.dhs.gov/freedom-information-act-foia
Department of Defense: http://www.dod.mil/pubs/foi/
United States Marine Corps: http://www.hqmc.marines.mil/Agencies/USMCFOIA/Howtomakearequest.aspx
US Air Force: http://www.foia.af.mil/
US Navy: http://www.doncio.navy.mil/TagResults.aspx?ID=122
US Army: https://www.rmda.army.mil/foia/foiarequest/
(Note: This author's experience has been that the various branches of the armed forces, especially the Army and USMC, are far less reticent in answering FOIA requests than their intelligence counterparts. Uncomfortable filing FOIA requests? No problem! Your assistance is still needed in cross-referencing the staff of America's Army with other FPS titles like Battlefield, Call of Duty, and Microsoft's Halo.)
Blogging under the pseudonym of Rusticus, the author and freedom activist operates a website tracing the machinations of the Anglo-American Establishment throughout history while simultaneously documenting the process of creating a truly off-grid homestead. (www.statelesshomesteading.com)
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Call of Duty: gaming's role in the military-entertainment complex | Games | The Guardian
Sun, 25 Feb 2018 13:41
Call of Duty: Black Ops II '... a radical departure. Photograph: PR
Six months after Dave Anthony left his job as a writer and producer on the video game series Call of Duty, he received an unexpected phone-call from Washington DC.
That week, the caller, Steve Grundman, a former Pentagon official who served in a succession of appointments at the US Department of Defense during the 1990s, had been watching his son play Call of Duty: Black Ops 2. ''Grundman told me that he'd been struck by the realism and authenticity in the game and in particular the story,'' says Anthony. ''So struck by it, in fact, that he'd been compelled to track me down.''
The game, which has been played by more than 20 million people since its release in 2012, is split between two settings: the final years of the Cold War in the late 1980s and an imagined second Cold War conflict in 2025. In the latter scenario, the conflict is defined not by mutually assured destruction via nuclear missiles, but rather by system-crashing cyber-attacks, capable of toppling the Stock Exchange or turning a fleet of drones against their own country. Grundman believed that the game's imagined conflict was unusually credible for a work of military fiction. He invited the writer to visit the capital and join a panel of experts who were due to discuss the future of real-world modern warfare.
War gamesVideo games have always enjoyed a close association with the military. During the 1980s, the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa) approached many developers with the idea of writing video games that could be used to train soldiers. Chuck Benton, the creator of racing classic BC's Quest For Tires, was one coder who took up the challenge, eventually abandoning the games industry to concentrate on military simulations. Later, the US Marine Corp famously used a modified version of Doom II to teach new recruits, with Lieutenant Colonel Rick Eisiminger, then team leader of the Modeling and Simulation Office, telling Wired, ''We were tasked with looking at commercial off-the-shelf computer games that might teach an appreciation for the art and science of war.''
Full Spectrum Warrior, an Xbox game released in 2004, was co-developed by a team at USC Institute for Creative Technologies which, in 1999, was established as an official US Army University Affiliated Research Center. Set in a fictional middle eastern country, the simulation was a comparatively inexpensive means of teaching marine tactics in military training, but was also launched as a consumer product. America's Army is a freely available PC game, launched in 2002 but still available, that doubles as a military recruitment tool. Even the peripherals are shared between games and the military: the US and British armies both use Xbox controllers as an interface to control attack drones in live combat.
The early Call of Duty titles were set in the World War II era but, in 2007 the setting changed to contemporary conflict with the release of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. The change was in part to freshen the fiction, but it was also intended to allow for contemporary modes of combat. In one of Modern Warfare's most memorable missions, ''Death From Above'', you control the gun turrets of an AC-130 gunship as it attacks enemy targets in Western Russia. Through the greenish wash of a night vision camera lens you watch the luminous shapes of men on the ground running at full pelt for cover. It's a scene as grimly and dispassionately realistic as any late night news report.
While there's currently no public evidence that the US military helps to fund mainstream video games that double as propaganda, as routinely happens in Hollywood, the makers of military-themed games often pay a license fee to gun manufacturers to use representations of their weapons, drawing consumers unwittingly into the Military-Entertainment complex.
Now, with Anthony's appointment, the association is made clearer still.
After his appearance on the panel in Washington, the ex-game developer was offered an unpaid fellowship by Grundmen on the Atlantic Council, a nonpartisan Washington-based think tank that advises on the future of unknown conflict. ''My job is to advise outside-the-box thinking on the nature of future threats, and propose proactive solutions to mitigate against them,'' he says. In late September, Anthony delivered one such suggestion during an Atlantic Council forum. His controversial proposition was the introduction of school marshals, ''U.S. soldiers who are in plainclothes, whose job is to protect schools.''
It's a familiar argument '' guarding schools from terror threats and, of course, shooting massacres, through the provision of weaponsised staff. What made Anthony's suggestion unique was his follow-up idea of how to deal with the inevitable public outcry that would greet such a policy: video game-style marketing. ''When we have a new product that has elements that we're not sure how people will respond to, what do we do as a corporation?'' he asked. ''We market it as much as we can '-- we do all the things we can to essentially brainwash people into liking it before it actually comes out. I'd like to see the government doing this too.''
The future of war '' playable nowTo some, a writer of video game fictions may seem an unlikely candidate for a role that exists to ''help to provide ideas to protect the United States from future attack.'' Anthony, who has been writing and programming games for twenty years, deals in the realm of jingoistic military fiction, which, in the case of the Call of Duty series, features a protagonist who single-handedly conquers unending waves of anonymous terrorist enemies. In this way it has as much in common with the rhythm and spectacle of a Rambo movie as it does with the docudrama verisimilitude of a Zero Dark Thirty.
But push aside Call of Duty's bluster and the appointment isn't so incongruous. Modern combat games compete on authenticity; their creators must gather props and detail from the realm of fact and arrange them into believable fiction.
In this year's entry to the Call of Duty series, which is set 45 years into the future, soldiers wear exoskeletons that grant them superhuman strength, while kilometre-wide digital canopies mask chemical warehouses from Google satellites' prying lenses. It sounds like science fiction but it isn't. According to developer Sledgehammer, all of this is drawn from real-life military research, gathered through close ties with Pentagon advisors. The work of a Call of Duty scriptwriter is similar to that of the futurologists whose job it is to prophesise the ways in which technology might be used to wage war decades from now. Figures like Anthony can become a useful cog in the military system.
He certainly has familiarity with troops from his time at Treyarch, the studio behind Black Ops II. There, Anthony worked closely with military advisers to ensure that, even if the game had more in common with Hollywood than the real world conflict, the surrounding props and details were based in truth. ''My greatest honour was to consult with Lieut. Col. Oliver North on the story of Black Ops 2,'' says Anthony. ''I will never forget the stories he told me about the times he met former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega. There are so many small details we could never have known about if it wasn't for his involvement.''
Anthony also worked with a Seal Team Six member and even a Russian Spetsnaz soldier who wore a motion capture suit in order to have his movements translated accurately into the game. ''Many lines of dialogue were touched by these men,'' he says. ''Their wisdom and experience added a great deal of authenticity to the games.''
Video games and military cautionDuring his recent talk Anthony showed videos depicting a US drone that had been hacked by Iran to attack Americans, an idea that first featured in Black Ops 2's storyline. ''In Washington, there is a tangible fear of suggesting controversial ideas, rocking the boat or moving outside of the established system,'' he says. The fear is perhaps understandable for the career-minded Washington-ite. In the business of military prophecy, one doesn't want to be marked out as an eccentric.
But Anthony believes that his entertainment background frees him from the incentive to limit his imagination. ''As a director and writer, my job is to break expectations and established thinking without fear of failure in order to create new and fresh ideas,'' he says. ''It's timely as the threats we face today don't play by established rules. Our enemies are starting to use our own technologies and systems faster and more efficiently than we are.''
There are similarities to the stultifying rhetoric of the Cold War era: the race to master technology before the other guy, the fear of the unheralded catastrophe, a disaster from an unknown source, foes under our noses. But one thing is different this time: in video games the military is able to try out its theories, to simulate its strategies, to set a devastating domino run in motion and see where the pieces land, without consequence. Anthony believes that, for all their historical ties, perhaps games and war aren't close enough after all. ''I would like to see more collaboration with the military and game developers,'' he says.
Rant: Second Amendment Repeal | [site:name] | National Review
Fri, 23 Feb 2018 19:18
A pro-gun rally in Olympia, Wash. (David Ryder/Getty) Talk is cheap, but persuading Americans to surrender their rights will be expensive, difficult, and time-consuming. A few hours after yesterday's shooting hit the news, the comedian Rob Delaney penned this tweet:
For ease of viewing, here is that Jefferson quotation in full (it's adapted from a July 12, 1816, letter to Samuel Kercheval):
I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions, but laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.
We should be absolutely clear about what Delaney is arguing here: He is a) agreeing with Jefferson that ''laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind,'' b) contending that ''progress'' suggests that the individual right to keep and bear arms is now counterproductive, and c) concluding that it is time therefore to make a ''change in law and constitution'' '-- in other words, to repeal the Second Amendment. This, it is true, is not a mainstream position on the American Left '-- at least, it is not one that is argued openly. But it is a reasonably popular one on social media, it has strongsupportwithinthemore leftward-leaning parts of the political commentariat, it is often implied by the casual manner in which progressives such as President Obama refer to ''Australia'' and other heavily regulated nations, and it enjoys indirect approval from around one quarter of the American public. When the likes of Rob Delaney and Bill Maher and Keith Ellison say that we need to get rid of the Second Amendment, they are not speaking in a vacuum but reflecting the views of a small but vocal portion of the American population. And they mean it.
That being so, here's the million-dollar question: What the hell are they waiting for? Go on, chaps. Bloody well do it.
EDITORIAL: The Tired and Opportunistic Gun-Control Agenda
Seriously, try it. Start the process. Stop whining about it on Twitter, and on HBO, and at the Daily Kos. Stop playing with some Thomas Jefferson quote you found on Google. Stop jumping on the news cycle and watching the retweets and viral shares rack up. Go out there and begin the movement in earnest. Don't fall back on excuses. Don't play cheap motte-and-bailey games. And don't pretend that you're okay with the Second Amendment in theory, but you're just appalled by the Heller decision. You're not. Heller recognized what was obvious to the amendment's drafters, to the people who debated it, and to the jurists of their era and beyond: That ''right of the people'' means ''right of the people,'' as it does everywhere else in both the Bill of Rights and in the common law that preceded it. A Second Amendment without the supposedly pernicious Heller ''interpretation'' wouldn't be any impediment to regulation at all. It would be a dead letter. It would be an effective repeal. It would be the end of the right itself. In other words, it would be exactly what you want! Man up. Put together a plan, and take those words out of the Constitution.
It'll be tough explaining to suburban families that their established conception of American liberty is wrong. You might even suffer at the polls because of it. But that's what it's going to take.
This will involve hard work, of course. You can't just sit online and preen to those who already agree with you. No siree. Instead, you'll have to go around the states '-- traveling and preaching until the soles of your shoes are thin as paper. You'll have to lobby Congress, over and over and over again. You'll have to make ads and shake hands and twist arms and cut deals and suffer all the slings and arrows that will be thrown in your direction. You'll have to tell anybody who will listen to you that they need to support you; that if they disagree, they're childish and beholden to the ''gun lobby''; that they don't care enough about children; that their reverence for the Founders is mistaken; that they have blood on their goddamn hands; that they want to own firearms only because their penises are small and they're not ''real men.'' And remember, you can't half-ass it this time. You're not going out there to tell these people that you want ''reform'' or that ''enough is enough.'' You're going there to solicit their support for removing one of the articles within the Bill of Rights. Make no mistake: It'll be unpleasant strolling into Pittsburgh or Youngstown or Pueblo and telling blue-collar Democrat after blue-collar Democrat that he only has his guns because he's not as well endowed as he'd like to be. It'll be tough explaining to suburban families that their established conception of American liberty is wrong. You might even suffer at the polls because of it. But that's what it's going to take. So do it. Start now. Off you go.
And don't stop there. No, no. There'll still be a lot of work to be done. As anybody with a passing understanding of America's constitutional system knows, repealing the Second Amendment won't in and of itself lead to the end of gun ownership in America. Rather, it will merely free up the federal government to regulate the area, should it wish to do so. Next, you'll need to craft the laws that bring about change '-- think of them as modern Volstead Acts '-- and you'll need to get them past the opposition. And, if the federal government doesn't immediately go the whole hog, you'll need to replicate your efforts in the states, too, 45 of which have their own constitutional protections. Maybe New Jersey and California will go quietly. Maybe. But Idaho won't. Louisiana won't. Kentucky won't. Maine won't. You'll need to persuade those sovereignties not to sue and drag their heels, but to do what's right as defined by you. Unfortunately, that won't involve vague talk of holding ''national conversations'' and ''doing something'' and ''fighting back against the NRA.'' It'll mean going to all sorts of groups '-- unions, churches, PTAs, political meetings, bowling leagues '-- and telling them not that you want ''common-sense reforms,'' but that you want their guns, as in Australia or Britain or Japan. Obviously, the Republicans aren't going to help in this, so you'll need to commandeer the Democratic party to do it. That means you'll need their presidential candidates on board. That means you'll need to make full abolition the stated policy of the Senate and House caucuses. That means you'll need the state parties to sign pledges promising not to back away if it gets tough. And if they won't, you'll need to start a third party and accept all that that entails.
RELATED: Firearms, Kings, and the Emergence of the Peaceful Life
And when you've done all that and your vision is inked onto parchment, you'll need to enforce it. No, not in the namby-pamby, eh-we-don't-really-want-to-fund-it way that Prohibition was enforced. I mean enforce it '-- with force. When Australia took its decision to Do Something, the Australian citizenry owned between 2 and 3 million guns. Despite the compliance of the people and the lack of an entrenched gun culture, the government got maybe three-quarters of a million of them '-- somewhere between a fifth and a third of the total. That wouldn't be good enough here, of course. There are around 350 million privately owned guns in America, which means that if you picked up one in three, you'd only be returning the stock to where it was in 1994. Does that sound difficult? Sure! After all, this is a country of 330 million people spread out across 3.8 million square miles, and if we know one thing about the American people, it's that they do not go quietly into the night. But the government has to have their guns. It has to. The Second Amendment has to go.
#related#You're going to need a plan. A state-by-state, county-by-county, street-by-street, door-to door plan. A detailed roadmap to abolition that involves the military and the police and a whole host of informants '-- and, probably, a hell of a lot of blood, too. Sure, the ACLU won't like it, especially when you start going around poorer neighborhoods. Sure, there are probably between 20 and 30 million Americans who would rather fight a civil war than let you into their houses. Sure, there is no historical precedent in America for the mass confiscation of a commonly owned item '-- let alone one that was until recently constitutionally protected. Sure, it's slightly odd that you think that we can't deport 11 million people but we can search 123 million homes. But that's just the price we have to pay. Times have changed. It has to be done: For the children; for America; for the future. Hey hey, ho ho, the Second Amendment has to go. Let's do this thing.
When do you get started?
'-- Charles C. W. Cooke is a staff writer at National Review .
From Mac about Austin's new library
I copied this from Facebag, this is a person I follow who lives in
Austin. Seems like you need to stay away from the new library.
"Loree and I finally visited the new downtown library today. The
parking structure was “full,” so we drove around amidst all the construction
nearby until we finally found a spot on the street. The $125 million building
is spectacular—as it should be for the money. But about half the library
“users” on this cold, wet day were bums and vagrants (what we politely call
“homeless”). They were sleeping, watching videos on the computers, and charging
their phones. Many had large numbers of bags. One
was wearing a plastic bag. Another was dressed in filthy long underwear. They
stank with fierce B.O. None of them was reading a book. It was like being in an
urban bus station, except that the structure was brand new and cost the
taxpayers $125 million. We did not feel secure. I would not leave belongings
unattended or allow a child to be unaccompanied with this clientele. What the
city of Austin has created is an expensive, well-equipped homeless shelter.
Most of the non-homeless users weren’t reading books or magazines, but using
their laptops. You don’t need a $125 million library to provide free wi-fi.
That’s what Starbucks is for. We were very disappointed, and eager to leave.
What a waste of money!"
Mac McClure
Commentary: California's public pension crisis in a nutshell | CALmatters
Sun, 25 Feb 2018 13:35
The essence of California's pension crisis was on display last week when the California Public Employees Retirement System made a relatively small change in its amortization policy.
The CalPERS board voted to change the period for recouping future investment losses from 30 years to 20 years.
The bottom line is that it will require the state government and thousands of local government agencies and school districts to ramp up their mandatory contributions to the huge trust fund.
Client agencies '' cities, particularly '' were already complaining that double-digit annual increases in CalPERS payments are driving some of them towards insolvency and the new policy, which will kick in next year, will raise those payments even more.
''What we are trying to avoid is a situation where we have a city that is already on the brink, and applying a 20-year amortization schedule would put them over the edge,'' a representative of the League of California Cities, Dane Hutchings, told the CalPERS board before its vote.
But CalPERS itself may be on the brink, and the policy change is one of several steps it has taken to avoid a complete meltdown.
The system, once more than 100 percent funded, now has scarcely two-thirds of what it would need to fully cover all of the pension promises to current and future retirees '' and that assumes it will hit an investment earnings target (7 percent per year) that many authorities criticize as being too optimistic.
The trust fund lost about $100 billion in the Great Recession and never has fully recovered. By lowering its earnings projection '' it had been 7.5 percent '' while moving to a more conservative investment strategy and cutting the amortization period, CalPERS hopes to avoid another disaster were the economy to turn sour.
Officials fear that were it to experience another big investment loss, it would pass a point of no return and never be able to pay for pension promises.
Protecting CalPERS, however, means getting more money from its client agencies, which could drive some of them into insolvency, as Hutchings said. Three California cities have gone bankrupt in recent years, in part because of their ever-increasing pension burdens, and payments have escalated sharply since then.
So on one hand, CalPERS is doing what it has to do to remain financially solvent, but on the other hand its self-protective steps threaten local government solvency. That's the crisis in a nutshell.
One way out would be to modify benefits in some way. City officials, for instance, have suggested reducing automatic cost-of-living escalators in pensions over a certain mark, such as $100,000 a year.
However, the CalPERS board, dominated by public employee organizations and sympathetic politicians, has spurned such pleas.
''Our members have expressed frustration that you keep coming to them asking for more while at the same time not providing a lot of other options and assistance for them,'' Dillon Gibbons of the California Special Districts Association told the board.
Everyone involved is waiting for the state Supreme Court to rule on pending pension rights cases, and were it to overturn the so-called ''California rule'' that bars changes in benefits, it would open the door to pension modification.
CalPERS officials are also concerned that should it become insolvent, or pension payments force some cities into bankruptcy court, it would revive long-dormant plans for a statewide pension reform ballot measure.
This crisis will haunt California for many years to come and will be a big headache for the next governor.
Afghanistan Breaks Ground on 1,127-Mile 'Peace Pipeline' - The New York Times
Fri, 23 Feb 2018 22:34
A wall painted with portraits in Herat, Afghanistan, as part of the preparation for the ceremony celebrating the start of work on the pipeline, which will pass through Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India, taking in some of the world's most contested land. Credit Jalil Rezayee/European Pressphoto Agency KABUL, Afghanistan '-- One of the boldest efforts to date to stabilize Afghanistan through economic development began on Friday with a ceremonial start to construction on a $22.5 billion natural gas pipeline crossing the country's war-ravaged south.
The pipeline, known as TAPI for its route through Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India, taking in some of the world's most contested land, is an experiment in pipeline diplomacy of a type considered but ultimately rejected in other hot spots like on the Korean Peninsula.
Such so-called ''peace pipelines'' have been controversial. They were once also considered, but not built, as a solution to a long-simmering conflict west of here between Armenia and Azerbaijan, also involving Central Asian energy.
Enemies forced to share energy infrastructure are as likely to blow it up or shut off supplies as make peace, experience in Eastern Europe has shown. Ukraine and Russia, for example, fought two so-called gas wars over prices and transit fees before a real war broke out in 2014. Gazprom, the Russian natural gas monopoly, has found no backing for its proposed trans-Korean gas pipeline crossing the Demilitarized Zone, which it says would ease tensions.
Still, leaders and ministers from Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India attending the groundbreaking ceremony on Friday in Herat described hopes that trade and mutual economic benefit could overcome old conflicts.
''Afghanistan believes in a policy of connectivity, not separation,'' Ashraf Ghani, the country's president, told the gathered dignitaries. ''South Asia is going to connect with Central Asia through Afghanistan, after a century of separation.''
Like a long straw sucking at the energy riches in Central Asia, the 1,127-mile-long pipe will connect the state of Punjab in northern India with the Galkynysh gas field in the desert in eastern Turkmenistan.
Plans call for an accompanying fiber-optic cable and eventually a railroad along part of the route, from Turkmenistan to Pakistan.
Afghanistan, which is promoting its location for trade as ''the roundabout of Asia,'' will benefit from construction jobs that could offer an alternative to war for young men, and by withdrawing some of the gas as cheap fuel for power stations and heating.
Once energy starts to flow, the country also expects about $400 million a year in transit fees, partly offsetting some of the international aid that now props up the government.
Like so many other energy infrastructure works in the region, the project is deeply entwined with politics.
In the jostling for influence and dominance in Central Asia a century ago, the great powers mapped caravan routes and mountain passes in a contest known as the Great Game. In its modern variant, they compete with pipelines. The United States has supported pipelines to bypass Russia and alleviate former Soviet states' economic dependence on it. And bringing Central Asian energy to market eases global dependence on Middle Eastern oil.
The United States is backing the TAPI line as an alternative to the proposed Iran-Pakistan-India, or IPI, another ''peace pipeline'' that would tap Iran's large South Pars gas field.
The pipeline is a major energy project: It will carry 33 billion cubic meters of gas per year, roughly the amount the Netherlands consumes in that time.
It will pass through five southern Afghan provinces '-- Herat, Farah, Nimruz, Helmand and Kandahar '-- that have been Taliban strongholds, and security had been a major concern. However, both the Taliban and Pakistan, a country believed to hold sway over the insurgent group, have pledged support.
''Our policy is clear,'' Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the Taliban, said in a statement that coincided with Friday's ceremony. ''We are not against the TAPI project but are supporting it, and we are ready to provide security for the project when it is needed.''
An Isle of Man-based holding company will oversee the project with a Turkmen state company, Turkmengaz, reportedly the majority shareholder. In Turkmenistan, officials have said they received loans from Saudi Arabia's Islamic Development Bank.
Oil companies first proposed the pipeline in 1995 as a means to bring landlocked Central Asian energy to market, but it dropped off their agenda after the Taliban took control of Afghanistan the following year.
The plan was revived after the United States-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. The pipeline is expected to be completed by 2020.
Fatima Faizi and Fahim Amed contributed reporting.
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Robo-Rosa Update from Dorian
Second last episode aired last night (you can tell John its
a shortened season because they say the celebrities cant be isolated for as
long :P)
Omarosa dropped one of the most obvious, and possibly last
points (since next episode on Sunday is sure to be very jam packed I dont know
if they will have time to slip one in if they do I will let you know.
So they are all having a conversation and someone
conveniently says "what was it like the first time you walked in the oval
office", and robo-rosa hits back with her bombshell, "which time? the
Clinton or trump White House"
And of course Marissa says "I only knew about the Trump
White House"
And this is where Robo-Rosa gives her little excoriation of
the press and to paraphrase says.
"Of course you did, the media likes to paint a
narrative that Trump is surrounded by incompetent people, but I worked in the
Clinton White House, In fact, I have my Undergraduate, Masters, and PhD in
Communications but when they talked about me it was always just, Omarosa from
the Apprentice"
Russian Bots
US AG creates a new 'Cybersecurity Task Force'
Fri, 23 Feb 2018 19:45
Members of the task force will come from various Justice Department entities and could extend to include reps from other federal agencies. Other tasks on its to-do list cover recent headline-grabbing incidents like mass thefts of personal information, violent ideologies spreading and recruiting over the internet or using tech to stymie law enforcement and massive computer attacks.
It's difficult to guess what this group may achieve or identify as problems, but Sessions said in a statement that "The Internet has given us amazing new tools that help us work, communicate, and participate in our economy, but these tools can also be exploited by criminals, terrorists, and enemy governments...At the Department of Justice, we take these threats seriously. That is why today I am ordering the creation of a Cyber-Digital Task Force to advise me on the most effective ways that this Department can confront these threats and keep the American people safe."
Geen cowboyfeestjes meer in TivoliVredenburg na racismebeschuldigingen | NOS
Fri, 23 Feb 2018 12:15
Het Utrechtse muziekcentrum TivoliVredenburg organiseert geen themafeesten voor kinderen meer met cowboys en indianen. Dat is besloten na kritiek van activisten die vinden dat zo'n thema racistisch is, zegt een woordvoerder van het muziekcentrum.
Aanleiding voor de kritiek was een evenement in juni vorig jaar. Het muziekfestival voor kinderen My First Festival had toen als thema 'het Wilde Westen'. Optredens stonden in het teken van cowboys en indianen, er stond een grote wigwam en kinderen tussen de 2 en 12 jaar werden opgeroepen om verkleed met cowboyhoed, lasso of indianentooi te komen.
Het kinderfeest viel niet in goede aarde bij sommige actievoerders. De extreem-linkse actiegroep De Grauwe Eeuw, bekend van een doodsbedreiging aan het adres van Sinterklaas, deed afgelopen najaar aangifte tegen TivoliVredenburg vanwege racisme.
Cowboys zijn voor een groot deel verantwoordelijk voor de genocide op de oorspronkelijke bewoners van Amerika, stelde De Grauwe Eeuw, die een vergelijking trok met de Holocaust. Ook Anousha Nzume, onder meer bekend als anti-Zwarte-Piet-activiste, maakte zich kwaad.
TivoliVredenburg herkent zich niet in het beeld dat het feest racistisch zou zijn, zegt de woordvoerder. Toch zullen dit soort feesten in de toekomst niet meer worden georganiseerd. "Wij zijn een concertzaal voor iedereen. De samenleving is aan het veranderen en blijkbaar roept dit soort feesten heftige gevoelens op bij mensen."
De woordvoerder wijst erop dat het in juni ging om een eenmalig Wilde Westen-feest en dat er sowieso geen plannen waren voor een herhaling. "Maar we zullen geen feesten meer organiseren met thema's die kunnen leiden tot polarisatie. We betreuren dat dit zo is gelopen."
Seattle Residents Complained About A 'Confederate Flag.' It Was Actually The Flag Of Norway. | Daily Wire
Fri, 23 Feb 2018 13:50
Over the weekend the Seattle Times jumped at a news tip: there was a Confederate flag flying beneath the American flag in the city's Greenwood neighborhood, and residents were very concerned.
Only, it turns out, it wasn't the Confederate flag at all. It was the state flag of Norway, and a group of friendly Norwegians were just trying to show their patriotism and support for their Olympic Team when their very concerned neighbors contacted local media.
''Hi. Suddenly there is a Confederate flag flying in front of a house in my Greenwood neighborhood. It is at the north-east corner of 92nd and Palatine, just a block west of 92nd and Greenwood Ave N.," the tipster wrote, according to the Times. "I would love to know what this 'means' '... but of course don't want to knock on their door. Maybe others in the area are flying the flag? Maybe it's a story? Thank you."
Eager to get the scoop, reporters for the Seattle Times hopped into a car and hightailed it to view the offending flag for themselves. Only, it turned out, they weren't in for quite the controversial sighting they'd anticipated.
''That's a Norwegian flag,'' said the Norwegian owner of the flagpole in question. ''It's been up there since the start of the Olympics."
''I'm a proud Norwegian-American. My parents emigrated here in the mid-1950s. He skippered tugboats," the man continued.
Indeed, Norwegians have something to be proud of. The country leads the Winter Olympics medal count with a staggering 35 medals, 13 of which are gold (they're currently tied for the most gold medals with Germany). The Norwegians are on track to breaking the Olympic record for most medals won by a single country in a single Olympic games.
Perhaps embarrassed by their fellow residents, the Seattle Times was quick to note that other people have confused the Norwegian red-and-blue banner for the Confederate stars-and-bars. There was an incident last year in New York, the Seattle Times points out, were a group of residents complained loudly to city hall about a Confederate flag seen flying in their own neighborhood. The woman flying the flag was also, unsurprisingly, a Norwegian transplant, who had never even seen the Confederate flag before.
Square root a gun? Louisiana student investigated over math symbol comments | Miami Herald
Sat, 24 Feb 2018 00:47
A discussion among students at Oberlin High School in Oberlin, La., about a mathematical symbol led to a police investigation and a search of one of the student's homes, according to the Allen Parish Sheriff's Office.
On the afternoon of Feb. 20, detectives investigated a report of terroristic threats at the school, where they learned that a student had been completing a math problem that required drawing the square-root sign.
Students in the group began commenting that the symbol, which represents a number that when multiplied by itself equals another number, looked like a gun.
The square root symbol.
After several students made comments along those lines, another student said something the sheriff's office said could have sounded like a threat out of context.
Police searched the student's home, where they found no guns or any evidence that he had any access to guns. Authorities also wrote there was no evidence the student had any intent to commit harm.
''The student used extremely poor judgment in making the comment, but in light of the actual circumstances, there was clearly no evidence to support criminal charges,'' the department wrote, adding that the school board had been contacted to determine any disciplinary action for the student.
The investigation came about a week after a gunman opened fire in Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., on Valentine's Day, killing 17 people and wounding 14 more.
The mass shooting sparked a wave of reported threats against other schools across the country '-- threats that are still coming in by the day and have set local parents, students and emergency officials on high alert.
In the Miami area alone, school threats jumped from one a week to as many as 50 a day, the Miami Herald reported.
Still, many on social media thought the reaction to the ''threat'' in Oberlin was more than a little overblown.
Government senator Linda Reynolds calls for debate on mixed-gender teams in Australia's elite sports
Sun, 25 Feb 2018 14:18
A rising star inside the Turnbull government has called for a national debate on introducing mixed gender competitions to professional sports, asking why women are segregated from competing against men in codes like the AFL, NRL and rugby union.
Linda Reynolds, who was Australia's first female brigadier in the Army Reserves before joining Parliament, told Fairfax Media that sport should follow in the footsteps of the Australian Army, which has a target of lifting the proportion of women in its ranks to 25 per cent within five years.
"Like in the military, sport requires many different qualities in an individual player but also in the team," Senator Reynolds told Fairfax Media.
WA senator Linda Reynolds.
Photo: Alex Ellinghausen"We no longer segregate women solely on their gender. Women now have the opportunity to compete on merit in the military, maybe its time to rethink the segregation of women in sport simply based on their gender and not on the talent."
The WA Liberal senator - who is a prominent advocate of the role of women in society - has been locked in a recent war of words with conservative MPs Cory Bernardi and former SAS soldier Andrew Hastie over their opposition to women serving on the frontline of battle.
Asked if women might fear being put at a disadvantage if asked to compete against men to qualify for teams, Senator Reynolds said: "How do you know if you don't give it a go?"
She added the rising popularity of female teams in sports traditionally dominated by men had proven wrong Australians who dismissed the role of women in elite sports.
About 195,000 people attended the AFL's debut women's league matches last year while nearly six million watched the season on television. AFLW is set to expand from eight teams to 14 by 2020. Nearly half a million women play some form of Australian football, which is about a third of of overall participation.
"People go and watch women in soccer and AFL," she said. "All these people who think it's about physical strength... it is an important characteristic but it is not the only characteristic," she said.
"Women excel in sport and in the military because they also have the other qualities required: leadership, resilience and strength.
"There are outstanding female athletes, why shouldn't they have an opportunity? Of course we want things to be judged on merit, but what is merit?"
Linda Reynolds wants a national debate on mixed-gender teams in prominent codes like the AFL.
Photo: Eddie JimHowever Marnee McKay, a lecturer in musculoskeletal physiotherapy at the University of Sydney, doubted mixed gender teams would suit contact sports.
She said her researched showed that from 12 years of age, "males and females are fundamentally physically different in terms of speed, power and coordination and balance".
She said tests demonstrated males were stronger than women but females were better at tasks that required fine motor skills. Dr McKay said mixed gender teams could work for sports like lawn bowls.
"But rugby league? No. I cannot see male and female professional athletes competing across all sports as a blanket rule."
Senator Reynolds lashed Senator Bernardi in the Senate earlier this month after the Australian Conservatives leader suggested it could be against the national interest to have women serving in combat roles.
"The senator may have been somewhat flippant in his comments but he could not have chosen a topic more insulting or demeaning not only to all of our women who now serve in uniform but to all those young women who want to put their hand up," Senator Reynolds said at the time.
"They have a look at the women who've now graduated as fighter pilots. They look at the women who are putting themselves forward to serve in combat roles. Senator Bernardi, I'd say this to you: yes, men and women are different, but hallelujah for that.
"Throughout all of my career I've had to fight to show'--as, I'm sure, has every woman in this place'--that difference is not less; to demonstrate the fact that as women we can do things just as well as any man. We do things just as well because we're women, Senator Bernardi, not in spite of the fact that we are women."
Latika Bourke is a reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age based in London. She has previously worked for Fairfax Media, the ABC and 2UE in Canberra. Latika won the Walkley Award for Young Australian Journalist of the Year in 2010.
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Hate Trumps Love
Trump critic Michael Wolff scraps Dutch appearances after contentious interview | NL Times
Fri, 23 Feb 2018 14:44
Michael Wolff, the author of the bestseller Fire & Fury biography about US President Donald Trump, has canceled his interviews with Dutch media scheduled for Friday, multiple media outlets report. Newspaper NU.nl said that the writer was disappointed at the way he was treated by television presenter Twan Huys and his audience Thursday night.
Newspaper Het Parool writes that the American journalist was repeatedly accused of implying that the married U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, was having an affair with Trump, who married his third wife Melania in 2005. On a recent broadcast of HBO panel show Real Time with Bill Maher, Wolff implied Trump was having an affair with a woman mentioned in Fire & Fury but said that he did not explicitly state the details because he could not confirm it.
He invited his audience to "read between the lines" to figure it out, leading many to believe that Haley was the focus of the claim. Wolff drew heavy criticism in the U.S. for his remarks, though Wolff himself said he never implied it was Haley and was surprised she so vigorously denounced it even as she was not directly mentioned. Others thought it possible that spokesperson Hope Hicks was who Wolff alluded to.
Wolff writes, among other things, that Haley has met several times with Trump and implies that there is a sort of relationship between the two. He also writes that Hicks had a sort of obsession with the president, and frequently met privately with him as well. Wolff said he was "absolutely certain" and only missed the "blue dress" to prove it - a reference to Bill Clinton's semen spores on Monica Lewinsky's clothing.
During the recording of College Tour in Amsterdam, the implications for Haley were repeatedly questioned, causing the writer's discontent. He then criticised Twan Huys' interviewing style and insulted an audience member who reproached him for harming Haley's reputation.
Wolff instead said he would not be shocked if Trump were having an affair, but quite the opposite saying he would be much more surprised if he was not having an affair in the White House. Still, "I do not know if Donald Trump has an affair with someone," he stated. "This is the last thing I say about it".
College Tour editor-in-chief Marij Janssens, said in a reaction: "The students asked some quite critical questions, but that is understandable when you look at what he said about Nikki Haley: a student asked if he as journalist could suggest that the president and the ambassador would have an affair, without mentioning any sources. Wolff reacted very harshly on her," Janssens stated.
"The the interview continued as usual. Later we were told by his publicist that he was angry," Janssens said.
The NTR show will air on Monday at 9 p.m. on NPO2. Rebroadcasts were also scheduled, and the show will be available on the NPO Uitzending Gemist service to be viewed on-demand in the Netherlands.
Trump motorcade driver detained by Secret Service after gun discovered | Fox News
Sat, 24 Feb 2018 05:52
The Secret Service said Monday it detained someone scheduled to drive a press van in President Trump's motorcade in Florida after agents discovered a personal firearm during a security check.
''All Secret Service security measures worked,'' the agency said in a statement, stressing that nobody under their protection was ever in any danger.
The incident occurred Monday in Palm Beach, where Trump was spending Presidents Day at his resort.
According to the agency, the unnamed individual was a ''staff contracted driver'' who was found to be ''in lawful possession of a prohibited item.'' It occurred outside the secure area at a Secret Service security screening checkpoint.
The Secret Service said they investigated and resolved the incident with the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office. The agency said the driver was only detained briefly.
''At no time was any Secret Service protectee in danger or impacted,'' it said.
The president is staying at his Mar-a-Lago resort. He departed for the nearby Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach Monday morning.
According to a White House pool report, the Secret Service's screening that led to the discovery of the gun took place across the street from the Mar-a-Lago resort an hour before the press vans actually joined the presidential motorcade.
The driver claimed to have forgotten to leave the firearm inside the driver's personal vehicle, according to the report.
All drivers were replaced after the firearm was discovered and a White House staffer drove the press van instead, the report added.
The White House did not immediately issue a statement on the incident, which comes amid a renewed debate over gun laws after last week's school shooting in nearby Parkland, Fla.
Fox News' Kelly Chernenkoff contributed to this report.
'I do not know if the president is having an affair': Michael Wolff squirms on Dutch TV - The Washington Post
Sun, 25 Feb 2018 15:13
Michael Wolff in the lobby at Trump Tower in New York in January 2017. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
After several minutes of interrogation about a central drama surrounding his new book, Michael Wolff said this: ''I will just clean this up. . . . I do not know if the president is having an affair.'' Those comments came in an interview Thursday with Twan Huys of the Dutch TV show ''College Tour.'' ''Do I think he is? I think it would be unlikely that he has suddenly become a faithful husband,'' Wolff said. ''In that event, I certainly don't know who he is having an affair with. . . . If I did, it would be in the book.''In one of his numerous promotional stops for the book, Wolff did an interview with Bill Maher, the host of HBO's ''Real Time with Bill Maher.'' Fishing for inflammatory material, Maher got Wolff to say: ''There is something in the book that I was absolutely sure of, but it is so incendiary that I just didn't have the ultimate proof.''opinions
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Maher persisted: ''Is it a woman thing?'' And Wolff responded, ''Well, yeah, I didn't have the blue dress.''
The host then asked whether it's ''somebody he's f'--ing now.'' Wolff: ''It is.'' Then the author provided directions: ''It's toward the end of the book. You'll know it. Now that I've told you, when you hit that paragraph, you're going to say 'Bingo.''‰''
Many, many people followed Wolff's instructions, creating a social media rumor mill. They landed on a section of the book '-- toward the end, just as Wolff had said '-- featuring suggestive language about Trump's relationship with Nikki Haley, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. Washington Post book critic Carlos Lozada had highlighted that stuff even before Wolff's interview with Maher:.@MichaelWolffNYC on Trump and Nikki Haley: "She had become a particular focus of Trump's attention, and he of hers....The president had been spending a notable amount of private time with Haley on Air Force One, and was seen to be grooming her for a national political future."'-- Carlos Lozada (@CarlosLozadaWP) January 5, 2018In the face of Haley's strong words, Wolff refused to move. During an interview with theSkimm, he said of Haley, ''I would say she seems to have embraced it.'' Asked to say more, Wolff continued, ''Well, I don't know. All she does is hammer on this fact. I mean, if I were being accused of something, and I am not accusing her of anything. She hasn't tried to avoid this, let's say.'' Wolff stuck to his position during an appearance on MSNBC's ''Morning Joe,'' as well.The ''College Tour'' interview, however, which hasn't yet aired, appeared to discomfit the author. Again and again, Huys pushed Wolff to reconcile how his multimedia stunt '-- using the book and the Maher interview to cook up an allegation '-- could be reconciled with journalism class. Asked if he regretted his remark on Maher's show, Wolff said, ''I did not make any remark. I only said that I believe the president, in all likelihood, is involved with someone. And that reflects the gossip in the White House and whether true or not, I don't know, which is why it is not in the book.''
An audience member stated that ''implying'' that a woman is having an affair wounds her reputation. To which Wolff replied, ''Let me say this as directly as I can. Let's go right through anybody's thick skull. I did not '-- I do not know who Donald Trump is having an affair with, okay?''
Bas Soetenhorst, a journalist with the Amsterdam paper Het Parool, told the Erik Wemple Blog that he was scheduled to interview Wolff on Friday. The appointment was canceled, however, ''at the last moment,'' Soetenhorst wrote via email. We have asked Wolff's publicist for comment.Read more by Erik Wemple:
Shut Up Slave!
Meerderheid in Tweede Kamer voor afschaffen raadgevend referendum | NOS
Sun, 25 Feb 2018 14:47
D66-leider Pechtold over het afschaffen van de referendumwet
De Tweede Kamer heeft definitief het raadgevend referendum weggestemd. Met 76 stemmen voor en 69 tegen is de wet van minister Ollongren die de afschaffing regelt aangenomen.
Over de wet en voorstellen van de oppositie werd hoofdelijk gestemd. Verschillende partijen legden voorafgaand aan de stemming een zogenoemde stemverklaring af, waarmee ze duidelijk maakten waarom ze voor of tegen stemden.
Forum voor Democratie-leider Baudet richtte het woord tot de fractie van D66: "Dit is het moment voor D66 om te laten zien dat haar vijftigjarig bestaan niet voor niets is geweest. Ik doe een oproep aan alle D66'ers in de zaal: stem met je geweten."
AlternatiefTijdens het debat over de afschaffingswet werd al duidelijk dat geen van de oppositiepartijen het eens is met de manier waarop het kabinet van het referendum af wil. Ze vinden dat daar een referendum over gehouden had moeten worden.
Verschillende oppositiepartijen hadden eerst een alternatief willen zien. En ze begrijpen niet waarom de minister niet heeft gewacht op de evaluatie van het raadgevend referendum, eind dit jaar.
Juridische onderbouwingOok tegenstander van referenda SGP maakte bezwaar tegen de juridische onderbouwing. De partij steunde een aanpassing van de wet van GroenLinks, om een referendum over het afschaffen mogelijk te maken. Maar die kreeg geen steun van een meerderheid: 71 Kamerleden stemden voor, 74 tegen.
De SGP stemde vervolgens wel voor de afschaffingswet. "We hadden dit beter allemaal kunnen vermijden", zei Kamerlid Bisschop in zijn stemverklaring.
Over een paar weken wordt de afschaffingswet behandeld in de Eerste Kamer. Ook daar hebben de regeringspartijen maar een krappe meerderheid van (C)(C)n zetel.
Eerste proefreferendum in 1952In Nederland zijn tot nu toe drie referenda gehouden, als je het proefreferendum uit 1952 meetelt tenminste. In Delft en Bolsward mochten de burgers zich uitspreken over de toekomst van een Verenigd Europa. Het Polygoonjournaal deed verslag:
Polygoonjournaal: Proefreferendum van 17 december 1952
Laatste referendum in 2018?Op 1 juni 2005 werd met tijdelijke wetgeving een referendum georganiseerd over de Europese grondwet. Volgens de officile uitslag was 61,5 procent tegen en 38,5 procent v""r. De opkomst was 63,3 procent.
De Wet raadgevend referendum ging op 1 juli 2015 in. Daarin staat dat wie een referendum wil organiseren eerst 10.000 en uiteindelijk 300.000 handtekeningen nodig heeft. Minstens 30 procent van de kiezers moet komen stemmen.
Op 6 april 2016 vond een referendum georganiseerd door GeenPeil plaats, over het associatieverdrag van de Europese Unie met Oekra¯ne. 61 procent stemde tegen, 38.21 procent voor. De opkomst was 32,28 procent.
Op 21 maart vindt het tweede referendum onder deze wet plaats. Dat gaat over de Wet inlichtingen- en veiligheidsdiensten, ook aftapwet en sleepwet genoemd. De laatste bijnaam is bedacht door tegenstanders.
50Plus probeert, voordat het wordt afgeschaft, een referendum te organiseren over het schrappen van een belastingvoordeel voor mensen met een (bijna) afgeloste woning, de wet-Hillen.
A hard-Brexit think tank accidentally published its plans for US-UK 'shadow trade talks' - Unearthed
Sun, 25 Feb 2018 13:53
A transatlantic network of conservative think tanks accidentally published its secret plans to influence US-UK trade negotiations, Unearthed can reveal.
Documents outline plans to form an ''unprecedented'' coalition of hard-Brexit and libertarian think tanks, which will call for Britain to ditch strict EU safety standards '' including rules on food and pharmaceuticals '' in order to secure a sweeping US-UK trade deal.
The group will hold ''shadow trade talks'' in Washington and London to ''hash out an 'ideal' US-UK free trade agreement (FTA).'' It hopes this will form the ''blueprint'' for the real negotiations between the British and US governments.
The project plan '' which was discovered by Unearthed '' claimed the talks would be attended by an official from Fox's Department for International Trade (DIT), with the aim of making sure the department feels ''ownership'' of the process.
But a DIT spokesperson told Unearthed the department had not yet received an invitation to the talks and so could not comment on whether an official would attend.
These plans will absolutely throw agriculture under the bus. The bus with £350m on the side
The IFT said the plan was an ''internal proposal document that includes some ideas that have not yet been put into practice. It therefore shouldn't have been put online.'' No US or British government officials have yet been invited, the spokesperson added.
Trade secretary, Liam Fox, has previously told the Initiative for Free Trade (IFT) '' which is organising the talks '' that his department is ''a very, very willing partner in your great and wonderful quest.''
The plans, which were presented in a glossy brochure, have now been removed from the IFT's website '' but Unearthed is publishing them here in full .
Shadow trade secretary Barry Gardiner told Unearthed : ''This looks like another attempt by the IFT to legitimise what is an overtly political agenda by using a government department to sanction their work with right-wing think tanks overseas. There is far too cosy a relationship between some of these organisations and senior Cabinet figures''.
Fox's connections
According to the documents, the shadow trade talks are set to include 10 leading right-wing think tanks from the UK and US '' including the London-based Institute for Economic Affairs and the Legatum Institute, which has recommended dropping in the EU's precautionary principle to boost trade.
He Became A Celebrity For Putting Science Before God. Now Lawrence Krauss Faces Allegations Of Sexual Misconduct.
Fri, 23 Feb 2018 11:43
When Melody Hensley first met Lawrence Krauss, she was a 29-year-old makeup artist at a department store, and he was one of her intellectual idols. She ran an atheist website in her spare time and had just started volunteering for the Center for Inquiry (CFI), a nonprofit group committed to promoting science and reason above faith. She was hoping to build a career in the burgeoning ''skeptics'' movement, and Krauss was one of its brightest luminaries.
At a CFI event in November 2006, Krauss asked Hensley for her card, and later, as she was leaving, asked her if she was ''of age.'' She brushed off the odd question, excited to meet a star skeptic. When he later emailed to invite her to dinner, she accepted.
''I didn't care if he flirted with me, I just wanted to be around somebody important, and I also wanted to get a job in this field,'' Hensley told BuzzFeed News. ''I thought I could handle myself.''
They made a plan to eat in the restaurant at the Washington, DC, hotel where Krauss was staying, Hensley recalled. But first he asked her to come up to his room while he wrapped up some work. He seemed in no rush to leave, she said, ordering a cheese plate and later champagne, despite her suggestion that they go down to dinner.
Then, Hensley said, Krauss made a comment about her eye makeup, and got very close to her face. Suddenly, he lifted her by the arms and pushed her onto the bed beneath him, forcibly kissing her and trying to pull down the crotch of her tights. Hensley said she struggled to push him off. When he pulled out a condom, Hensley said, she got out from under him, said ''I have to go,'' and rushed out of the room.
''It was definitely predatory,'' she said. ''I didn't want that to happen. It wasn't consensual.''
Krauss told BuzzFeed News that what happened with Hensley in the hotel room was consensual. In that room, ''we mutually decided, in a polite discussion in fact, that taking it any further would not be appropriate,'' he told BuzzFeed News by email.
But Hensley said that is untrue. ''It was definitely predatory,'' she said. ''I didn't want that to happen. It wasn't consensual.''
Later that night, Hensley told her boyfriend, now husband, that Krauss had made her feel uncomfortable, her husband confirmed to BuzzFeed News. Years later, she told him '-- as well as several employees at CFI '-- the full story.
BuzzFeed News has learned that the incident with Hensley is one of many wide-ranging allegations of Krauss's inappropriate behavior over the last decade '-- including groping women, ogling and making sexist jokes to undergrads, and telling an employee at Arizona State University, where he is a tenured professor, that he was going to buy her birth control so she didn't inconvenience him with maternity leave. In response to complaints, two institutions '-- Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, and the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Ontario '-- have quietly restricted him from their campuses. Our reporting is based on official university documents, emails, and interviews with more than 50 people.
Many of his accusers have requested anonymity, fearing professional or legal retaliation from Krauss, or online abuse from men in the movement who have smeared women for speaking out about other skeptics. A few allegations about Krauss made their way onto skeptic blogs, but were quickly taken down in fear of legal action. So for years, these stories have stayed inside whisper networks in skepticism and physics.
In lengthy emails to BuzzFeed News, Krauss denied all of the accusations against him, calling them ''false and misleading defamatory allegations.'' When asked why multiple women, over more than a decade, have separately accused him of misconduct, he said the answer was ''obvious'': It's because his provocative ideas have made him famous.
''It is common knowledge that celebrity attracts all forms of negative attention from many different angles,'' Krauss said in a December email. ''There is no pattern of discontent revealed here that suggests any other explanation.''
Carolyn Kaster / AP Lawrence Krauss, left, watches as Robert Rosner, chairman of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, right, moves the minute hand of the Doomsday Clock to two minutes to midnight on Jan. 25, 2018.
Although not a household name, Lawrence Krauss is a big shot among skeptics, a community that rejects all forms of faith '-- from religion and the supernatural, to unproven alternative medicines, to testimonials based on memory and anecdote '-- in favor of hard evidence, reason, and science.
Krauss offers the scientific method '-- constantly questioning, testing hypotheses, demanding evidence '-- as the basis of morality and the answer to societal injustices. Last year, at a Q&A event to promote his latest book, the conversation came around to the dearth of women and minorities in science. ''Science itself overcomes misogyny and prejudice and bias,'' Krauss said. ''It's built in.''
Online, you can buy ''Lawrence Krauss for President'' T-shirts and find his quotes turned into inspirational memes. He writes essays for the New Yorker and New York Times, helps decide when to move the hand of the Doomsday Clock, and has almost half a million followers on Twitter. He made a provocative (if criticallypanned) documentary, The Unbelievers, with the evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, another celebrated skeptic.
The skeptics draw heavily from traditionally male groups: scientists, philosophers, and libertarians, as well as geeky subcultures like gamers and sci-fi enthusiasts. The movement gained strength in the early 2000s, as the emerging blogosphere allowed like-minded ''freethinkers'' to connect and opened the community to more women like Hensley. It acquired a sharper political edge in the US culture wars, as skeptics, atheists, and scientists '-- including Krauss '-- joined forces to defend the teaching of evolution in public schools.
But today the movement is fracturing, with some of its most prominent members now attacking identity politics and ''social justice warriors'' in the name of free speech. Famous freethinkers have been criticized for anti-Muslim sentiment, for cheering the alt-right media personality Milo Yiannopoulos, and for lampooning feminism and gender theory. Several women, after sharing personal accounts of misogyny and harassment by men in the skeptic community, have been subjected to Gamergate-style online attacks, including rape and death threats. As a result, some commentators have accused parts of the movement of sliding into the alt-right.
But Krauss says his movement is getting more diverse, not less. He is politically liberal, decrying sexism, racism, and ''the fear of people who are different,'' and is a vocal critic of Donald Trump. And yet, he's not always politically correct, whether saying that religion drives xenophobia, dismissing burka-clad Muslims as ''women in bags,'' announcing that a statue looks like ''Jesus on the toilet,'' or tweeting articles arguing that #MeToo has gone too far.
And in his private life, according to a number of women in his orbit, Krauss exhibits some of the sexist behavior that he denounces in public. Now that these accusations are coming out in the open, some women have doubts that the skeptics will acknowledge the body of evidence about his behavior, and confront their own preconceived beliefs.
''Skeptics and atheists like to think they are above human foibles like celebrity worship,'' Rebecca Watson, a prominent feminist skeptic, told BuzzFeed News. ''In a way, that makes them particularly susceptible to being abused by their heroes. I think we see that over and over again.''
Women at skeptics meetings would often warn each other to avoid Krauss, she added, but conference organizers seemed reluctant to act. ''He was a popular speaker,'' Watson said. ''None of them were interested in doing anything about what was happening.''
Mark Duncan / Associated Press Krauss, shown in his office at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Dec. 8, 1997.
Krauss's rise to prominence began during the 15 years he spent on the physics faculty at Case Western Reserve University. That's where he wrote The Physics of Star Trek, a 1995 best seller that put him on the map as a science popularizer.
In 2007, Nora (her middle name) was an undergraduate at Case Western Reserve who looked up to Krauss. But when she tried to talk to him about the difficulty of being one of the only female physics majors, she said he teased her about all the guys who must be asking her out on dates, which she found patronizing. And when she tried to interview him for a student publication, he closed the door to his office, answered her questions with jokes, and invited her to dinner, which she found entirely inappropriate. She wrote about these experiences in the campus newspaper:
''There was even one particular creep of a professor who once told me he thought differently of me compared to other students and asked me to dinner: a situation so disturbing that it left me upset for weeks afterward.''
''I raised concern that in a situation like this, if it doesn't get reported, then there's the potential for future victims later.''
Nora didn't mention Krauss by name. But the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Cyrus Taylor, guessed who it was based on rumors about an earlier incident between Krauss and an undergraduate. The dean sought Nora out and encouraged her to make a complaint, which she did. (BuzzFeed News has seen emails between Nora and the university administration describing the incidents in question.)
''I raised concern that in a situation like this, if it doesn't get reported, then there's the potential for future victims later,'' Taylor told BuzzFeed News. He also wrote a letter to the school paper urging all students to report harassment.
Later, the university's associate vice president for student affairs wrote to Nora, informing her that Krauss had been told that, ''This type of behavior could constitute sexual harassment in violation of the university's sexual harassment policy.''
''Dr. Krauss expressed regret about having a negative impact on you,'' the letter stated, adding that Krauss had used the incident ''as an opportunity to reflect and improve on his future interactions with students.''
Krauss, who acknowledged the existence of the complaint, told BuzzFeed News he was ''shocked'' because there had been ''no inappropriate interaction'' and Nora continued to email him afterward.
The school told Nora that Krauss was prohibited from making contact with her as long as she remained a student, and that he had to get approval before setting foot on campus again. (Krauss was permitted to return for a colloquium in 2009.)
But by the time these sanctions had been put in place, Krauss had moved to Arizona State to lead a new initiative to study the origins of the universe, life, and social systems. When he left, he wrote an email to his Case Western Reserve colleagues stating that, ''The opportunities being offered at ASU are simply too great to turn down at this stage in my career.''
Krauss frequently travels for lectures and speaking gigs, typically on atheism or cosmology, his field of study. In October of 2009, a little over a year after Case Western Reserve barred Krauss from campus, he went to Waterloo, Ontario, to be a guest speaker at the Quantum to Cosmos Festival at the Perimeter Institute.
During the event, a sexual harassment complaint was filed with the administration against him, the institute confirmed. ''In 2012, as part of a formal review of its internal policies, the institute made a decision that he would not be invited to return,'' a spokesperson for the Perimeter Institute told BuzzFeed News by email. BuzzFeed News does not know the identity of the complainant, and the institute would not provide further details about the incident due to privacy concerns.
Krauss disputed Perimeter's statement. ''As I have been invited back numerous times by colleagues there in the interim, empirical evidence suggests otherwise,'' Krauss said by email. ''If there had been any such formal complaint and investigation and decision, I would have heard about it, or been asked to participate in it.''
After Krauss left Case Western Reserve, his career continued to climb. He launched the Origins Project at Arizona State, which aimed to engage the public with science events featuring celebrated public intellectuals, like the Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker and the filmmaker Werner Herzog.
But Krauss's reputation took a hit in April 2011, after he publicly defended Jeffrey Epstein, a wealthy financier who was convicted of soliciting prostitution from an underage girl and spent 13 months in a Florida jail.
Epstein was one of the Origins Project's major donors. But Krauss told the Daily Beast his support of the financier was based purely on the facts: ''As a scientist I always judge things on empirical evidence and he always has women ages 19 to 23 around him, but I've never seen anything else, so as a scientist, my presumption is that whatever the problems were I would believe him over other people.''
''Krauss' statement is extremely disturbing and makes scientists look like ignorant, biased fools who will twist data to suit their own needs.''
On her Skepchick blog, Watson slammed Krauss for not acknowledging his obvious bias '-- and thus violating a core value of skepticism. ''Krauss' statement is extremely disturbing and makes scientists look like ignorant, biased fools who will twist data to suit their own needs,'' she wrote.
''I remain skeptical, and I support a man whose character I believe I know,'' Krauss responded in the post's comments. ''If you want to condemn me for that, so be it.''
The dust-up was part of a broader discussion among feminist skeptics about what they saw as the misogyny of some of the old guard. In June 2011, Watson posted a YouTube video mentioning her experiences with men in the movement.
In the resulting furor, Watson was publicly mocked by Dawkins and received a torrent of online abuse. Over the next couple of years, she posted a sample of the abusive comments she received on her blog.
With these issues dividing skeptics, Hensley, by then executive director of CFI's Washington DC branch, organized a new conference called ''Women in Secularism,'' which debuted in May of 2012. It was a space to celebrate the history and accomplishments of secular women, Hensley said, ''but also to give a platform so that we could talk about the issues and problems we were facing.'' In now-deleted comments on CFI's blog post announcing the event, some skeptics argued that the movement didn't have a problem with women, and that the event would amount to ''man bashing.''
On one panel, Jen McCreight, then a biology PhD student, spoke out about the whisper network. Before going to her first big atheist meeting, she said, ''unsolicited I got many emails from different individuals basically warning me which male speakers not to interact with as a young woman.''
She didn't name names. But in August of 2013, with accusations swirling about sexual harassment by several other prominent atheists, McCreight pointed the finger at Krauss. On her Blag Hag blog, she described the experiences of two unnamed women. One was Hensley. The other asked BuzzFeed News to refer to her by her first initial, A.
A. was an undergraduate who had first met Krauss in 2008 at the annual American Atheists Convention through her work as a student atheist activist. Three years later, when she and other students walked into the bar at the same meeting in Des Moines, Iowa, A. recalled, Krauss pulled over a chair for her and started running his hand up her leg under the table.
''I kind of shifted away,'' A. said. ''He put his hand on again. I crossed my legs. He put his hand on again. And eventually I had to like physically turn my entire body.''
A. was shocked, but didn't want to make a scene, she said. ''The last thing I need to do is, you know, yell at Lawrence and then have to deal with any potential fallout.''
Krauss denied A.'s account, and said that it was A. who had come on to him, inviting him to join her in the hotel's hot tub. Robin Elisabeth Cornwell, a friend of Krauss's and then executive director of the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science, was also there, and backed his account. A. denied mentioning the hot tub or flirting with Krauss. Benjamin Wurst, one of her student companions, told BuzzFeed News that, as they left the bar, A. told him Krauss had put his hand on her.
Some CFI staff, too, were concerned about Krauss's behavior, and it was a point of contention when the organization's leaders were considering whether to invite him as a featured speaker on a cruise to the Galpagos Islands. He was by then an honorary member of the organization's board of directors.
''I really don't want Krauss on this trip,'' Patricia Beauchamp, CFI's business and finance manager, emailed CFI's then-president, Ronald Lindsay, on March 11, 2013. ''His behavior on past trips has been offensive to many and this is a very expensive and small vessel.''
She was referring to a 2011 CFI cruise of the Greek Islands. Krauss had reportedly propositioned a woman to join him and a female companion for sex in their cabin. (Both Krauss and his companion on the cruise, now his wife, told BuzzFeed News that the incident did not happen.)
Lindsay's response to Beauchamp's email focused on the bottom line: ''Is it your position that Krauss will keep us from selling cabins? If so, you need to say so expressly, and you also need to give me some evidence. If Krauss is not invited, this will be a major issue, so i need facts, not speculation.''
Beauchamp noted the ''report of unwanted sexual attention given to one guest.'' She concluded, ''This is not the kind of person I think should represent us on a cruise.''
Beauchamp declined to comment for this story. Lindsay told BuzzFeed News that, after Beauchamp's email, he discussed the incident with the passenger in question. ''I did call the guest and she substantially confirmed what Ms. Beauchamp had said. I apologized on behalf of the organization,'' Lindsay said by email. He also said he discussed the incident with Krauss, who denied it. Krauss was invited on the cruise.
Hensley had by then started talking about the incident in the Washington, DC, hotel room, telling several CFI colleagues, including Lindsay. He said he told her she ''probably'' could file a complaint.
Lindsay no longer leads CFI, which has since merged with the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science. Dawkins did not respond to requests for comment, and the organization's current leadership stated that it ''follows its policies and procedures regarding complaints of improper behavior, and will continue to do so, to further its goal of ensuring the safety and well-being of attendees, guests, volunteers, and employees at its events.''
After Krauss left a comment on McCreight's blog denying her allegations, she took the post down. ''Well, Famous Skeptic is vaguely threatening to sue me,'' McCreight wrote the day after her initial post was published. ''Since Famous Skeptic is rich and I am poor, and since my two sources are too terrified to openly speak out,'' she said, ''I have removed the part of my previous post that refers to him so I don't go bankrupt with legal fees.''
McCreight declined to be interviewed for this article. A second blog post published at about the same time by another young skeptic, Ed Cara, which described the allegation about the 2011 cruise, was also quickly taken offline.
Jay Laprete / AP Krauss, standing, speaks to the Ohio State Board of Education Standards Committee during a panel discussion in 2002.
The allegations were purged from the web, but after a visit to Melbourne, Australia, in November 2016, Krauss was accused of sexual harassment once again.
The incident happened at a dinner held at the Melbourne Zoo as part of the Australian skeptics national convention, where Krauss was a featured speaker. Shortly before the conference, said Melanie Thomson, a microbiologist from Melbourne and another invited speaker, she was warned about Krauss's reputation by Michael Brown, an astronomer at Monash University in Melbourne.
''So I was like a watchdog, making sure that nothing untoward happened,'' Thomson told BuzzFeed News in November. With conference delegates chatting over drinks, one of her friends asked Krauss for a selfie. As the woman held out her phone to take the picture, Thomson said she saw Krauss reach over her friend's shoulder and grab her right breast.
''As soon as she reacted, which was instantaneously, she bodychecked him and then she spun around,'' Thomson said.
Two other attendees told BuzzFeed News that they also witnessed the incident. ''I saw him reach for her breast,'' Michael Marshall, a speaker at the meeting, told BuzzFeed News. ''I saw her react.''
''I saw him reach for her breast,'' Marshall told BuzzFeed News. ''I saw her react.''
''I witnessed Lawrence Krauss reach and touch the victim's breast,'' Jo Alabaster, another speaker, told BuzzFeed News by email.
The photograph in question shows Krauss's hand in motion in front of the woman's shoulder. BuzzFeed News attempted to reach the woman in the photograph, but she did not respond.
Others at the conference said the woman mentioned the incident to them, and the selfie was passed around at a party she attended the next evening. She did not complain to the meeting's organizers.
In July of 2017, Thomson filed formal complaints about the incident with Arizona State University, and with two schools where Krauss had visiting appointments: the Australian National University in Canberra and the New College of the Humanities in London.
Krauss denied that he groped the woman. ''I often put my hand up in front of a camera if there is a flash, as I specifically request selfies not to include flashes, so that I don't end up with a series [of] bright spots in front of my eyes for the next half hour,'' he told BuzzFeed News by email.
The New College of the Humanities did not investigate the complaint; the other two schools did. In an email, Arizona State informed Thomson that it ''did not find a violation of university policy.'' And the Australian National University wrote to her noting that the photo, by itself, did not prove physical contact, and that officials could not reach the woman, whose identity was not disclosed in the complaint.
''Based on the material available to the University, we do not have sufficient evidence to substantiate the allegations,'' ANU's letter said.
But that's not how Krauss described the schools' findings. He told BuzzFeed News that ''both Universities independently concluded that the report was unsubstantiated and fabricated with malicious intent.''
Both schools rejected this characterization.
''ASU did not find the complaint 'fabricated with malicious intent,' and did not make any such statement,'' Arizona State told BuzzFeed News. ''The characterisation by Professor Krauss that The Australian National University (ANU) found the complaint to be 'unsubstantiated and fabricated with malicious intent' is false,'' ANU said.
On Nov. 3, after the ANU complaint was closed, Krauss resigned his position there, citing unrelated personal reasons.
Leah Millis / Reuters Krauss at a press conference for the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists on January 25, 2018.
When defending himself against various allegations, Krauss repeatedly invoked his affiliations with universities and other professional organizations.
''I treat people I interact with with respect, and I work hard to support and mentor students, colleagues, and members of the general public, and this is supported by the institutions of which I am a part,'' Krauss wrote in one email. ''I do not sexually harass people.''
But four former employees of Arizona State's Origins Project told BuzzFeed News that Krauss's workplace behavior was sometimes offensive, calling him a ''sexist'' and a ''womanizer.''
At a dinner event at the school's University Club in October 2015, for instance, a 19-year-old undergraduate said she was left feeling acutely uncomfortable when he looked at her from head to toe, smirked, and told her he liked the short jumper she was wearing. Two eyewitnesses confirmed her account. In April 2016, an Origins staffer angrily posted on Facebook about how Krauss ''suggested that I should dress up like a hula girl while advertising for an event.'' Another employee was so upset by his behavior that she started keeping a written record of offensive incidents.
''Said he understood why people didn't like to hire women of child bearing age because it isn't fair to have to pay maternity benefit,'' she wrote in one entry. ''Said he's going to buy me birth control so I don't get pregnant and inconvenience him. Asked if I was planning to get pregnant.''
The women said they did not report any of these incidents to the university, and Krauss said that no one had ever complained to him.
''Our team works in a transparent environment of candor and trust, where people can thrive and discuss all issues openly and frankly with mutual respect as part of a safe supportive team,'' Krauss said by email.
In December, after BuzzFeed News contacted him about allegations of sexual harassment, Krauss tweeted a link to an article that argued the #MeToo movement was morphing into a ''Warlock Hunt.'' A month after that, he tweeted a story about French women denouncing #MeToo, writing, ''I find their statement brave and thought-provoking, representing free-thought and skepticism at its best.''
This is an interesting and thought-provoking piece by @ClaireBerlinski Worth reading! https://t.co/LZy0a0q3N2
01:13 AM - 17 Dec 2017Speaking out against a popular movement can provoke vicious reactions, but I find their statement brave and thought'... https://t.co/toxOHG16R8
05:47 PM - 10 Jan 2018The rise of online movements such as #MeToo has increasingly divided the skeptics into two camps: those who campaign for social justice and those who rail against identity politics. Several women '-- and men '-- interviewed by BuzzFeed News said they have stopped attending skeptic events because of this hostility.
''I've just become so disappointed and disillusioned with a group of people who I thought at one point were exemplars of clear thinking, of openness to new evidence, and maybe most importantly, being curious,'' philosopher Phil Torres told BuzzFeed News. ''This movement has tragically failed to live up to its own very high moral and epistemic standards.''
What's particularly infuriating, said Lydia Allan, the former cohost of the Dogma Debate podcast, is when male skeptics ask how they could draw more women into their circles. ''I don't know, maybe not put your hands all over us? That might work,'' she said sarcastically. ''How about you believe us when we tell you that shit happens to us?''
After Hensley told her employers at CFI about what happened with Krauss, she became more vocal on Twitter about other examples of harassment in the skeptic community. A flood of abusive tweets and memes followed, including rape and death threats referring to her as a triggered snowflake. ''I got so mentally ill that it literally came down to, it's this or my life,'' Hensley said.
By 2015, nine years after she met Krauss in the hotel room, Hensley could no longer handle the sexism in the movement, she said, and she quit her job at CFI. She now spends most of her time at home and tries to avoid going online. She's disappointed and angry, she said, at the skeptics' refusal to believe not only her claims about Krauss, but other women in secularism about the misogyny they've faced.
Skeptics ''believe that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. But these weren't extraordinary claims,'' Hensley said. ''These things happen to women all the time.'''—
Disclosure: Between 2007 and 2009, Virginia Hughes was a freelance copy editor for two scientific journals published by the Center for Inquiry.
Peter Aldhous is a Science Reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in San Francisco. His secure PGP fingerprint is 225F B2AF 4B8E 6E3D B1EA 7F9A B96E BF7D 9CB2 9B16
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Richard Buckley's conduct was a problem for years, women say
Sat, 24 Feb 2018 00:44
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In the weeks since Austin Opera's conductor was fired amid allegations of harassment, seven women have come forward to describe a culture of permissiveness that they say allowed Richard Buckley to touch women inappropriately and engage in lewd talk because he was a star.
The women told the American-Statesman that Buckley '-- who served as the opera's conductor and artistic director for 14 years '-- regularly touched women's buttocks, commented on their bodies in a sexual manner, made crass jokes and gave employees unwanted massages. Opera executives and board members knew about Buckley's behavior but failed to intervene because of the celebrated maestro's talent, the women said.
Buckley's sudden departure was announced Feb. 1. In a short statement, the opera said that Buckley had engaged in ''inappropriate behavior in violation of the company's policy on harassment.'' Officials said they would not provide more details out of respect for those affected by the behavior.
Buckley said he never intended to offend anyone.
''These accusations are very serious and upsetting,'' Buckley said in a statement to the newspaper. ''I ask for excellence from myself and everyone I work with, and at times use humor to release pressure and defuse tension. If I have ever said or done anything that has offended anyone or made them feel uncomfortable, I deeply apologize.''
How much the opera board of trustees knew about allegations of improper behavior over the years is unclear. Board members declined to comment to the Statesman or did not return phone calls.
Several women who were interviewed said they heard Buckley making inappropriate comments in front of board members but said such remarks were so commonplace, they could not say specifically which board members were present to hear them.
Buckley's firing was announced amid a national conversation about sexual misconduct in the workplace. The movement picked up steam in October, when movie producer Harvey Weinstein was accused of assaulting numerous women and of secretly paying some of them off for nearly 30 years before his conduct was revealed to the public, according to The New York Times. Since then, numerous high-profile celebrities, businessmen, sports figures and lawmakers have been accused of sexual improprieties with women.
Such complaints have hit the Texas Legislature, with women accusing several lawmakers of sexual harassment. Gov. Greg Abbott is calling for changes to the way sexual misconduct complaints against legislators, judges and other elected officials are handled. Currently, allegations are reported to state Senate and House personnel. Under Abbott's proposal, they would be investigated by the Texas Rangers.
Buckley's termination from Austin Opera came out of the blue for some people outside the arts community. But many who worked with the opera say Buckley had touched and spoken to women inappropriately for years.
Buckley still doesn't know about the complaints that led to his firing, said his lawyer, Blayre Pe±a. The conductor was not told what the allegations against him were or who made them and was not given a chance to respond, she said. Pe±a said the root of the problem is tension between Buckley and General Director and CEO Annie Burridge, who arrived at the opera about a year ago.
''Richard's termination was not about harassment, but instead an ax to grind by the opera's new CEO,'' Pe±a said. ''During the new CEO's tenure, Richard raised legitimate concerns about opera events and, rather than using those comments constructively, the new CEO viewed it as undermining her authority and repeatedly stifled Richard's input.''
Austin Opera denies that.
''Austin Opera leadership properly and appropriately terminated Richard Buckley's contract '-- consistent with its terms '-- based on his inappropriate behavior in violation of the opera's harassment policy,'' said Julie A. Springer, the opera's attorney. ''The notion that the termination of his contract was the result of any sort of power struggle is pure fiction.''
The inappropriate behavior started a few months after Buckley arrived at the organization, said Susan Threadgill, who worked at the opera for 17 years before taking another job in 2010. She was in the office, copying an opera score, when Buckley walked past her and grabbed her buttocks, she said.
Threadgill said she immediately confronted him.
''I said, 'Excuse me! Sexual harassment!''' she said. ''And he turned around like he was stunned. He said, 'You know I didn't mean anything by that,' and I said, 'That makes it worse.'''
Buckley never touched her again, but the behavior continued with other women, Threadgill said. Singers regularly went to her with complaints about Buckley's remarks and behavior, then begged her not to say anything because they were afraid they would not get hired again, Threadgill said.
Two women who worked with the opera asked that their names not be published because they are afraid speaking publicly would negatively affect their careers. One woman, a performer, said that when she complained to other people in the company, she was dismissed as being too sensitive.
''They'd say, 'Oh, that's just his sense of humor. If you're going to work in this profession, you're going to need to toughen up,''' the woman said.
'He was untouchable'
As the son of a distinguished conductor and a singer, Buckley had followed in his family's footsteps to become a lauded maestro. Even after he took the Austin job, he continued to conduct operas and symphonies across the world.
''He lifts the orchestra with incontestable spirit, rhythm and presence,'' Le Figaro newspaper in Paris once wrote. ''We have here a real artist.''
Austin Opera is a $4.5 million annual operation that employs 14 staff members, 60 orchestra musicians and 40 performers in the chorus. An additional 90 to 100 people are brought in to work during the opera season. Buckley supervised all the musicians and performers.
The organization has struggled financially for years. Over the past decade, it has operated in the red off and on, only recently having stabilized '-- thanks in part to Buckley.
Last year, philanthropists Ernest and Sarah Butler donated $1 million to support the position of artistic director. According to the opera's most recent tax forms, Buckley earned $165,000 a year. He has conducted at least 40 Austin Opera productions.
After his arrival, Buckley quickly became known for his casual sexual remarks, Threadgill said. Once, in front of at least six board members and donors, Buckley told a tenor having trouble with his timing, '''You're coming too soon. We'll talk to your wife about that later,''' she said.
She could not remember which board members were present.
''He's such a fabulous musician, and this is why people were turning their heads,'' Threadgill said. ''They were afraid we were going to lose him.''
Women who worked at the opera over the years said that Buckley regularly remarked on their bodies, women's cleavage and their clothing. Ellen Mason, who worked as the opera's manager of marketing and communications from July 2012 to May 2013, said she was once talking to her friends about taking an exercise class when Buckley walked by and slapped her on the buttocks.
Over the months, he gave her unwanted massages '-- sometimes under her arms and grazing her breasts '-- and regularly made sexual remarks to her, Mason said. She said that, at the time, she blamed herself for the behavior.
''I stopped wearing my makeup,'' Mason said. ''I started wearing messy buns. I started wearing sneakers. I tried everything in the women's arsenal, and none of it worked.''
Pe±a said that Buckley gave shoulder rubs to both men and women, as did other people in the company. Many people enjoyed it, she said.
''During long, grueling hours of rehearsals, people's shoulders and neck tense up,'' she said. ''If someone didn't want a shoulder rub, they could tell Richard, and he would stop.''
Mason said she didn't quit because she was worried about her career. She ultimately left for health reasons, which were partly caused by stress at the opera, she said.
''After I resigned, I stopped by to pick up a couple of things that I accidentally left behind,'' Mason said. ''Richard walked in and upon seeing me exclaimed: 'You no longer work here so it is no longer sexual harassment!' then proceeded to hug me so tightly that my breasts were smashed against his chest and I could (feel) certain parts of his anatomy, and then he started twisting his body right to left and rubbing himself all over me. My arms were trapped by my sides, and I could not break free. This happened out in the open, in front of other staff.''
Meredith Morrow, who was the group's grant writer and corporate fundraiser from January 2011 to April 2014, said she saw that hug. Buckley routinely made lewd remarks in front of opera leadership, she said, so she believed there was no point in complaining.
The opera board and donors loved Buckley for his talent, Mason said, and his behavior was treated as a joke by those who witnessed it.
''He was the darling,'' she said. ''At that time they were running scared for money, and Richard Buckley was a major reason why people kept coming back. He was untouchable.''
'It wasn't hidden'
In 2015, substitute cellist Margaret Coltman complained to the orchestra manager that Buckley joked at a rehearsal that women should wear garters to an upcoming performance. According to text messages provided to the Statesman, the manager responded that she was sorry Coltman was offended.
''We're all used to Richard's joking and most give it right back,'' the manager wrote.
The orchestra manager who texted with Coltman said she would ask Buckley to apologize to her, but Coltman said that Buckley never did. Coltman said she felt dismissed.
Pe±a said that Buckley had no idea that Coltman was offended until she posted something on Facebook.
Former board Chairwoman Wendi Kushner remembered the situation.
''When this incident happened, I was chairman of the board,'' she said in a statement to the newspaper. ''I was immediately informed by Maestro Buckley and the orchestra manager. This extra musician in question never filed a complaint to the organization. The comment was clearly not directed to any one person. Maestro Buckley immediately apologized to the entire orchestra. The national #metoo dialogue is very important, but so is the ability to recognize that humor is clearly not abuse.''
Austin Opera officials have remained mum about what caused them to fire Buckley. Michael Solomon, director of audience experience and the opera's appointed spokesman, said the decision came from the board after an outside investigation was conducted.
''As soon as the current board leadership became aware, appropriate action was taken to uphold the values and standards of Austin Opera,'' Solomon said.
Pe±a said she doubts the credibility of the investigation.
''The information we have been provided seriously calls into question the 'outside investigation' that was allegedly conducted,'' Pe±a said. ''Our sources have revealed that the 'investigation' was conducted by none other than the new CEO, who had been trying to oust Richard for some time, and a staff person she supervised.''
Opera officials would not say whether they have lost any supporters or financial backers since Buckley was fired. Earlier this month, the organization released a statement from the Butlers saying they fully support the decision.
''The opera is confident that its donors and the artistic community will continue to support the mission of the company, as evidenced by the recent statement of encouragement from Sarah and Ernest Butler and the number of messages of support we have received in recent days,'' Solomon said.
Morrow said she was floored when she found out that Buckley had been fired because she didn't believe it would ever happen.
''He is a very talented conductor and musician, but talent shouldn't excuse sexual harassment,'' she said. ''It was not a secret. It's just disappointing that it took this long to stop it.''
Statesman staff writer Michael Barnes contributed to this report.
How we got the story
The American-Statesman interviewed nine women who worked with Austin Opera, several of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity. The Statesman verified their employment with the opera, checked public records and sought verification of complaints through the opera and its board. Former opera director Richard Buckley's attorneys were provided with a detailed description of the complaints so he could respond to them.
Children's rights activist Peter Newell jailed for abuse - BBC News
Sun, 25 Feb 2018 14:33
Image copyright Metropolitan Police A children's rights activist has been jailed for six years and eight months for sexually abusing a boy in the 1960s.
Peter Newell was the former co-ordinator of the Association for the Protection of All Children charity.
The 77-year-old from Wood Green, north London, was sentenced last month at Blackfriars Crown Court.
He admitted five indecent and serious sexual assaults on a child under 16.
The Association for the Protection of All Children, or Approach, says its objectives are to prevent cruelty and maltreatment of children and advance public knowledge in the UK and abroad.
It says its focus is on protecting children from "physical punishment and all other injurious... whether inside or outside the home".
Approach operates through the Children Are Unbeatable! Alliance in the UK and the Global Initiative to End All Corporal Punishment of Children.
There is no suggestion the south London-based charity knew about Newell's behaviour, which occurred before he was employed there.
In 2015 Approach brought a complaint to Europe's top human rights watchdog against France and six other EU countries over its failure to explicitly ban smacking children.
Newell was listed as Approach's co-ordinator in its accounts on the Charity Commission website, although the most recent document says he stood down from the role in May 2016.
According to the accounts, for the five years from 2012 to 2016, Approach received hundreds of thousands of pounds in income from the NSPCC and Save the Children, as well as other organisations abroad and a private donor. Barnardo's provided funding in four of those years, while income from Unicef came in 2014 and 2015.
The latest accounts for 2017 show Approach only received funding for its overseas activities, and the NSPCC and Barnardo's were not listed as having made any contributions.
None of Approach's funders are believed to have been aware of Newell's actions.
In a statement, the Metropolitan Police said Newell's offences, which were first reported to it in March 2016, started when his victim was aged 12.
Police said they took place between 1965 and 1968 at a number of addresses and locations in south and east England, including London.
Newell pleaded guilty on 2 January to two charges of serious sexual assault between May 1966 and May 1968 and three charges of indecent assault committed between May 1965 and May 1968.
The Charity Commission said it was informed by Approach about the allegation against Newell in 2016.
It said: "We have been in correspondence with the charity on this matter since 2016 to ensure the charity's safeguarding procedures are robust and that there are policies in place to protect its beneficiaries.
"The charity has confirmed that it has safeguarding policies and procedures in place which are being kept under review and that the charity and the trustees have very limited contact with children and that there is no suggestion that the charity's beneficiaries were or are at risk."
In 2007, Newell co-authored the Implementation Handbook for the Convention on the Rights of the Child for Unicef.
Unicef said it has "zero tolerance for sexual exploitation and abuse".
A spokesperson added: "We are deeply shocked to hear of the arrest of Peter Newell. We had no knowledge of this crime when he worked as a Unicef consultant 10 years ago. Unicef has since set in place strong procedures to vet staff and consultants."
Barnardo's said it was "one of over a 100 organisations that supported the Alliance".
"We have no evidence that anyone at Barnardo's was aware of these terrible charges and we no longer fund the Alliance," a spokesman said.
Spot The Spook
Charles Tillman, ex-Bears cornerback, now an FBI agent, per report
Sun, 25 Feb 2018 14:19
CLOSESportsPulse: NFL draft gurus Nate Davis and Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz debate where the top 5 QBs land in this year's draft. And there's really no consensus. USA TODAY Sports
Former Bears cornerback Charles Tillman is now an FBI agent, according to a report. (Photo: The Associated Press)
Former NFL cornerback Charles Tillman has graduated from the FBI's training academy and become a special agent, according to a report from Sporting News published Thursday night.
Tillman, who was selected to two Pro Bowls in his 13-year career, was accepted to the FBI's training academy and had been working toward earning his badge in Quantico, Va., late last year, according to multiple reports.
The FBI's press office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from USA TODAY Sports. A bureau spokesperson told Sporting News that it does not comment on personnel matters.
The FBI agent training program is highly selective and includes a rigorous combination of academics and firearm, surveillance, tactical driving and physical fitness training. As of last year, the bureau said it employed about 13,500 special agents, most scattered at field offices across the country.
Tillman, who turned 37 on Friday, graduated from the University of Louisiana-Lafayette with a bachelor's degree in criminal justice before joining the NFL. He spent 12 of his 13 professional seasons with the Chicago Bears before retiring in 2016.
MORE:Franchise tag player options for all 32 NFL teams
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Contact Tom Schad at tschad@usatoday.com or on Twitter @Tom_Schad.
Operation Midnight Climax - Wikipedia
Fri, 23 Feb 2018 13:49
Operation Midnight Climax was an operation initially established by Sidney Gottlieb and placed under the direction of Federal Narcotics Bureau in Boston, Massachusetts with the officer George Hunter White under the pseudonym of Morgan Hall for the CIA as a sub-project of Project MKULTRA, the CIA mind-control research program that began in the 1950s.[1] Before the programs were shut down, hundreds of scientists would work on them.
History [ edit] The project consisted of a web of CIA-run safehouses in San Francisco, Marin, and New York City. It was established in order to study the effects of LSD on unconsenting individuals. Prostitutes on the CIA payroll were instructed to lure clients back to the safehouses, where they were surreptitiously plied with a wide range of substances, including LSD, and monitored behind one-way glass. Every one of these acts was blatantly illegal, but several significant operational techniques were developed in this theater, including extensive research into sexual blackmail, surveillance technology, and the possible use of mind-altering drugs in field operations.[2]
The Operation Midnight Climax soon expanded and CIA operatives began dosing people in restaurants, bars and beaches.[2]
The safehouses were dramatically scaled back in 1963, following a report by CIA Inspector General John Earman that strongly recommended closing the facility. The San Francisco safehouses were closed in 1965, and the New York City safehouse soon followed in 1966.[citation needed ]
In 1974, the journalist Seymour Hersh exposed the CIA's illegal spying on U.S. citizens and how the CIA had conducted non-consensual drug experiments. His report started the lengthy process of bringing long-suppressed details about MK-Ultra to light.[2] Project MKULTRA came to light in the spring of 1977 during a wide-ranging survey of the CIA's technical services division. John K. Vance, a member of the CIA inspector general's staff, discovered that the agency was running a research project that included administering LSD and other drugs to unwilling human subjects.[3]
See also [ edit] References [ edit] [1]
Phrase from the Chaise
The whole nine yards - Wikipedia
Sun, 25 Feb 2018 13:45
A 1921 headline from The Spartanburg Herald-Journal in South Carolina reads "The Whole Six Yards of It."The whole nine yards or the full nine yards is a colloquialAmerican English phrase meaning "everything, the whole lot" or, when used as an adjective, "all the way", as in, "The Army came out and gave us the whole nine yards on how they use space systems."[1] Its origin is unknown and has been described by Yale University librarian Fred R. Shapiro as "the most prominent etymological riddle of our time".[2]
The Oxford English Dictionary finds the earliest published non-idiomatic use in an 1855 Indiana newspaper article. The earliest known idiomatic use of the phrase is from 1907 in Southern Indiana. The phrase is related to the expression the whole six yards, used around the same time in Kentucky and South Carolina. Both phrases are variations on the whole ball of wax, first recorded in the 1880s.[3] They are part of a family of expressions in which an odd-sounding item, such as enchilada, shooting match, shebang or hog, is substituted for ball of wax.[3] The choice of the number nine may be related to the expression "To the nines" (to perfection).[nb 1]
Use of the phrase became widespread in the 1980s and 1990s. Much of the interest in the phrase's etymology can be attributed to New York Times language columnist William Safire, who wrote extensively on this question.
History of the phrase [ edit] The Oxford English Dictionary places the earliest published non-idiomatic use of the phrase in the New Albany Daily Ledger (New Albany, Indiana, January 30, 1855 in an article called "The Judge's Big Shirt." ''What a silly, stupid woman! I told her to get just enough to make three shirts; instead of making three, she has put the whole nine yards into one shirt!'' The first known use of the phrase as an idiom appears in The Mitchell Commercial, a newspaper in the small town of Mitchell, Indiana, in its May 2, 1907 edition:
This afternoon at 2:30 will be called one of the baseball games that will be worth going a long way to see. The regular nine is going to play the business men as many innings as they can stand, but we can not promise the full nine yards.[4]
The idiom was used three more times in the Mitchell Commercial over the next seven years, in the forms give him the whole nine yards (i.e., tell someone a big story),[5]take the whole nine yards (i.e., take everything),[6] and settled the whole nine yards (i.e., resolved everything).[7]
In other uses from this time period, the phrase was given as the whole six yards. In 1912, a local newspaper in Kentucky asked readers to, "Just wait boys until the fix gets to a fever heat and they will tell the whole six yards."[8] The same newspaper repeated the phrase soon afterward in another issue, stating "As we have been gone for a few days and failed to get all the news for this issue we will give you the whole six yards in our next." [9] The six-yard form of the phrase also appears in a 1921 headline in a local South Carolina paper.[10]
The phrase is not known to have been used in writing thereafter until a 1956 issue of Kentucky Happy Hunting Ground, where it appears in an article on fishing.[11][12] After describing the contests and prizes, the author writes, "So that's the whole nine-yards."[13][14] It appeared in an article on hunting the following year, this time unhyphenated.[12]
The phrase at this point was still rare. There is strong circumstantial evidence it was not in general use in 1961, as Ralph Boston set a world record for the long jump that year at 27 feet, or nine yards, but no news report has been found that made any reference to the term, suggesting that journalists were unaware of it or did not regard it as common enough to use as a pun.[15]
In a short story published in 1962, the phrase is attributed to "a brush salesman".[16] A letter published in an auto magazine later that year describes a certain new car as containing "all nine yards of goodies".[17] In 1964, several newspapers published a syndicated story which explained that "Give 'em the whole nine yards" was NASA talk for an item-by-item report.[18] This early usage can be read as suggesting length, but can also be read as suggesting detailed completeness.[19]
Two 1965 newspaper articles quote U.S. military personnel serving in Vietnam using the phrase.[20] The phrase was explained as something "teenagers say" in a military-oriented magazine in 1965.[21] Citations from 1966 show the phrase was used by a former U.S. Army airman,[22] and also in a publication for military test pilots.[23] It is also recorded in two contemporary novels concerning the U.S. Air Force in Vietnam, Carl Krueger's Wings of a Tiger (1966),[24] and Elaine Shepard's The Doom Pussy (1967).[25]
Research [ edit] William Safire, a language columnist at the New York Times, asked listeners for information regarding the origin of the phrase on Larry King's radio show in 1982.[11] Safire ended up writing nine columns on this subject and is largely responsible for the interest in it.[11] In 1986, the phrase was added to the Oxford English Dictionary with the earliest citation given as 1970.[11][26]The Historical Dictionary of American Slang (1997) cited Shepard's novel, thus pushing the earliest known usage back to 1967.[11]
Several key discoveries in further antedating the phrase were made by Bonnie Taylor-Blake, a neuroscience researcher at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an amateur member of the American Dialect Society, an association of professional and amateur linguists whose mailing list often serves as a forum for word and phrase discoveries. In 2012, Taylor-Blake discovered the 1956 and 1957 uses in Kentucky Happy Hunting Ground, and later that year she and Fred R. Shapiro found the "whole six yards" examples from the 1912''1921 period, which received substantial publicity.[11] In 2013, Taylor-Blake posted her discovery of the Mitchell Commercial uses from the 1907''1914 period.[27][28]
There is still no consensus on the origin, though many early published quotations are now available for study. A vast number of explanations for this phrase has been suggested;[29][30] many of these are no longer viable in light of what is now known about the phrase's history.
Perhaps the most commonly offered explanation is that World War II (1939''1945) aircraft machine gun belts were nine yards long. There are many versions of this explanation with variations regarding type of plane, nationality of gunner and geographic area. An alternative weapon is the ammunition belt for the British Vickers machine gun, invented and adopted by the British Army before World War I (1914''1918). The standard belt for this gun held 250 rounds of ammunition and was approximately twenty feet (under seven yards) in length. [11] However, the Vickers gun as fitted to aircraft during the First World War usually had ammunition containers capable of accommodating linked belts of 350-400 rounds, the average length of such a belt being about nine yards, and it was thought that this may be the origin of the phrase. [31] This theory is no longer considered viable, since the phrase predates World War I.Another common explanation is that "nine yards" is a cubic measure and refers to the volume of a concrete mixer.[32] This theory, too, is inconsistent with the phrase's history.[11]Many of the popular candidates relate to the length of pieces of fabric, or various garments, including Indian saris, Scottish kilts, burial shrouds, or bolts of cloth. No single source verifies that any one of those suggestions was the actual origin. However, an article published in Comments on Etymology demonstrates that fabric was routinely sold in standard lengths of nine yards (and other multiples of three yards) during the 1800s and early 1900s.[33] This may explain why so many different types of cloth or garments have been said to have been nine yards long.[34]The phrase "...she has put the whole nine yards into one shirt" appears in 1855. [35]Other proposed sources include the volume of graves;[36] the length of bridal veils, kilts,[37] burial shrouds, bolts of cloth,[38] or saris; a very long list; ritual disembowelment; shipyards; and American football. Little documentary evidence has surfaced to support any of these explanations.[39]One proposed origin involves the world of full-rigged sailing ships, in which yard is used not as a measure of length or size, but as the name of each horizontal spar on which a sail is hung. All square-rigged sails unfurled, with 3 yards on each of 3 masts, could then be described as the whole nine yards,[40][41] but again no actual documentation has been uncovered to support this explanation, and in any case not all ships had exactly three yards on each mast, even disregarding the fact that by no means all sailing vessels were three-masters. [42]Bonnie Taylor-Blake, noting that several early examples are in the form "give" or "tell" the whole nine (or six) yards, has suggested that the idiom likely relied on "yards" as "lengthy or thorough presentation [of news, anecdotes, play-by-play, etc.]"[43]Jesse Sheidlower, editor-at-large for the Oxford English Dictionary, and Fred R. Shapiro have argued that the phrase does not have a concrete meaning, pointing to the variance between six and nine yards and comparing it to the whole shebang.[11]See also [ edit] ^ The phrase "to the nines" is first recorded in 1687. In early usage, it suggested that a work met the standards of the nine Muses of Greek mythology. Nine is considered a perfect number in numerology as it is three squared. Note that the phrase "cloud seven" was inflated to "cloud nine" by the same process. See The Phrase Finder and Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang. Dressing "To the Nines" could also refer to the fact that in French "neuf" means both 9 and New ("Mes souliers sont neuf" = "My shoes are new"). So, "dressing to the nines" would mean dressing in a new outfit ("neuf"). References [ edit] ^ Whole, adj., n., and adv., C2, compound whole nine yards, Oxford English Dictionary (OED Online version Marc 2013) (citing Aviation Week 7 March 1983, 46/2). ^ Shapiro, Fred, "You can quote them", May/June 2009 ^ ab Nunberg, Geoff, "The Whole Nine Yards' Of What?", NPR Fresh Air, January 14, 2013. ^ "Baseball", Mitchell Commercial, p. 2,col. 3 (May 2, 1907). ^ Mitchell Commercial, p. 3, col. 5 (June 4, 1908). ^ "Third Term Superstition", Mitchell Commercial p. 2, col. 2 (October 10, 1912). ^ "Story of a Green Basket," Mitchell Commercial p. 1, col. 5 (November 26, 1914). ^ "Livingston", Mount Vernon (Kentucky) Signal', p. 1. ^ "Mount Vernon Signal Newspaper". Old Fulton NY Post Cards. June 28, 1912. Retrieved June 11, 2017 . ^ "The Whole Six Yards of It," Spartanburg (South Carolina) Herald-Journal, 7 May 1921, p. 5. ^ abcdefghi Schuessler, Jennifer (December 26, 2012). "The Whole Nine Yards About a Phrase's Origin". New York Times. Retrieved December 29, 2012 . Then, in August, Bonnie Taylor-Blake, a neuroscience researcher in North Carolina who had been searching for variants of the phrase via Google News Archive and Google Books for five years, posted a message on the e-mail list of the American Dialect Society noting a 1956 occurrence in an outdoors magazine called Kentucky Happy Hunting Ground, followed in September by a more startling twist: a 1921 headline from The Spartanburg Herald-Journal in South Carolina reading "The Whole Six Yards of It." ... The recent discovery of several instances of "the whole six yards" in newspapers from the 1910s'--four decades before the earliest known references to the whole nine yards'--opens a new window onto "the most prominent etymological riddle of our time," said Fred Shapiro, a librarian at Yale Law School who announced the findings in next month's issue of The Yale Alumni Magazine. ... ^ ab Zimmer, Ben (August 3, 2012). "Stretching Out 'The Whole Nine Yards' ". Word Routes. Retrieved August 24, 2012 . ^ Rhody, Ron (July 1956). "Kentucky Afield Fishing Derbies Are Underway". Kentucky Happy Hunting Ground. 12 (4): 18. ^ See also "Plugs and Bugs" by Ferd Holtmann, Kentucky Happy Hunting Ground, Vol. 18. No. 2, March, 1962, page 6. "Most anglers will tell you he has six or seven baits he uses more than all the others combined, yet he would be lost without the entire nine yards. It might be said there's a feeling of security involved in carrying the whole load on every outing." ^ "The whole nine yards - meaning and origin", Gary Martin, 2006. The Phrase Finder ^ Wegner, Robert E., "Man on the Thresh-Hold", Michigan's Voices, Fall 1962. "...the consequence of house, home, kids, respectability, status as a college professor and the whole nine yards, as a brush salesman who came by the house was fond of saying, the whole damn nine yards." ^ Linster, Gale F., "Constructive Criticism", Car Life Vol. 9, Issue 11 (December 1962), p. 2. "Your staff of testers cannot fairly and equitably appraise the Chevrolet Impala sedan, with all nine yards of goodies, against the Plymouth Savoy which has straight shift and none of the mechanical conveniences which are quite common now." ^ Trumbell, Stephen. "Talking Hip in the Space Age", Tucson Daily Citizen (Arizona), April 25, 1964; "'Give 'em the whole nine yards' means an item-by-item report on any project." (The reporter's name was misspelled in this newspaper; it is actually Trumbull.)Zimmer, Benjamin (June 21, 2007). "Great moments in antedating". Language Log. University of Pennsylvania. Retrieved November 11, 2008 .
^ Zimmer, Ben (25 March 2009). "Where Did We Get "The Whole Nine Yards"?". Word Routes. Visual Thesaurus. Retrieved May 20, 2009 . ^ Campbell, Frank D., Jr. Lt. Col, Daily Facts, (Redlands, CA), April 7, 1965, p. 6. "We got the whole nine yards, including a side trip to Panama for jungle survival." (Quote attributed to Maj Clyde B. Williams.)Burris, Keith, "'Burners' Are Not Informed", Deseret News, 28 December 1965, (Salt Lake City, Utah), p. A11, col. 1; "Capt. Greer was on alert the night of the big Red raid on Piel Me. He said the Cong troops were extremely well outfitted with steel helmets, boots -- 'the whole nine yards of uniform.'"
^ Andrus, Col. Burton C. Jr, Assembly [magazine], Association of Graduates, United States Military Academy, v. 23 n. 3 col. 3, Fall 1965, p. 53 (55 of 100 in pdf). "We have 60 of the 120 rooms reserved so far--why not take over "the whole 9 yards" as the teenagers say?" ^ Guthrie, James M., "Sesquicentennial Scrapbook", National Road Traveler, [Cambridge City, Indiana], June 30, 1966, p. 3; "If you like "The Old Swimmin' Hole," "Raggedy Man" and "When the Frost is on the Pumpkin" you'll like this one. And J.W. Riley is only a small contributor. (But Riley would have loved the whole nine yards)." For Guthrie's biographical information, see here. ^ Technical Review, The Society of Experimental Test Pilots, Vol. 8, No. 2, p. 176 (September 1966) "Then two-engines, two pilots, and the rest, the nine yards of things that we have really all been aware of for a long time and should pay a lot more attention to." ^ Krueger, Carl, Wings of the Tiger: A novel (1966); "'Okay, Tiger,' it said. 'Give 'em the whole nine yards. Now!'" [An instruction to fire at the enemy], p. 39. "We'll go over it after de-briefing. Get me a list of all pilots and planes available. Everything. The whole nine yards." p. 57. ^ Shepard, Elaine, The Doom Pussy, Trident Press, (1967), p. 54; "Slipping out of the knot [marriage] was expensive but Smash was eventually able to untangle what he called 'the whole nine yards.'" The phrase appears several times in the book, always as the pet usage of Major "Smash" Crandell, a U.S. Air Force navigator. At one point, Smash refers to, "the ninth yard" (finishing touch). ^ Whole, adj., n., and adv., C2, compound whole nine yards, Oxford English Dictionary (OED Online version March 2013). ^ Bonnie Taylor-Blake, The whole nine yards (1908, 1912, 1914), ADS-L (September 6, 2013). ^ Bonnie Taylor-Blake, The full nine yards (1907), ADS-L (September 6, 2013).. ^ Wilton, Dave, "whole nine yards, the", June 21, 2007. ^ "The whole 'whole nine yards' enchilada", The Phrase Finder. An amusing chart is included which shows which explanations are most common. ^ Goldsmith, Dolf L (1994). The Grand Old Lady of No Man's Land, The Vickers Machinegun. Cobourg, Ontario, Canada: Collector Grade Publications Inc. p. 132. ISBN 0-88935-147-3. ^ Wilton, David. Word Myths: Debunking Linguistic Urban Legends, Oxford University Press, 2005. ISBN 0-19-517284-1, p. 36. William Safire and James J. Kilpatrick have both given the cement mixer explanation. ^ Reitan, Peter (January 2015). "Origin of The Whole Three/Six/Nine Yards: The Sale of Cloth in Multiples of Threes was Common in the 1800s and Early 1900s". Comments on Etymology. 44 (4): 2. ^ Brown, Peter Jensen. "Nine Yards to the Dollar - the History and Etymology of "the Whole Nine Yards" ". Early Sports 'n' Pop-Culture History Blog. Retrieved 10 February 2015 . ^ Yankee Notions. T. W. Strong. 1855. p. 107. ^ Wilton, p. 37. A grave is about 4 cubic yards. ^ http://www.highlandsecrets.com/qa.html ^ Wilton p. 36. A bolt of cloth is 20 to 25 yards. ^ Wilton, pp. 34''38. ^ Nautical Terms Index ^ Nautical Language ^ Wilton, p. 37. There was no standard number of yards on a sailboat, nor any citations of this phrase from the sailboat era. ^ Bonnie Taylor-Blake, Front-page New York Times story on "The Whole Nine Yards", ADS-L (December 27, 2012).
These NHS Staff Were Told The Swine Flu Vaccine Was Safe, And Now They're Suffering The Consequences
Sun, 25 Feb 2018 14:49
When nurse Meleney Gallagher was told to line up with her colleagues on the renal ward at Sunderland Royal Hospital, for her swine flu vaccination, she had no idea the injection she was about to have had not gone through the usual testing process.
It had been rushed into circulation after the swine flu virus had swept across the globe in 2009, prompting fears thousands of people could die. From the moment the needle broke Gallagher's skin, her life would never be the same.
''I remember vividly we were all lined up in the corridor and we were told we had to have it. It wasn't a choice,'' she claimed. ''I was pressured into it. We were given no information.''
The date was 23 November 2009 and Gallagher was one of thousands of NHS staff vaccinated with Pandemrix, a vaccine made by pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK).
Eight years later, her career in the NHS is a memory and she's living with incurable, debilitating narcolepsy and suffers from cataplexy, a sudden, uncontrollable loss of muscle tone that can cause her to collapse without warning. Because of her condition, she can no longer work or drive.
People with narcolepsy experience chronic fatigue and difficulty sleeping at night. They can have night terrors, hallucinations, and a range of mental health problems.
Gallagher is not alone. More than a dozen frontline NHS staff are among around 1,000 adults and children across Europe who are believed to have developed narcolepsy after being given Pandemrix. Today BuzzFeed News can reveal for the first time their battle to gain acknowledgement for a government decision that they say ruined their careers and has dominated their lives since.
Gallagher and four other NHS professionals '' two nurses, a community midwife, and a junior doctor '' have told how they felt pressured into receiving the vaccine, were given misleading information, and ultimately lost their careers.
They are all suing GlaxoSmithKline seeking compensation for what they believe was a faulty drug that has left them with lifelong consequences and means they will require medication and support for the rest of their lives.
Photo by Bethany Clarke / edited by Laura Gallant / BuzzFeed They have been forced to take legal action, along with almost a hundred other sufferers, to force the company and the government to accept the consequences of the rushed vaccination programme eight years ago. In contrast to the UK, European countries have already compensated people whose narcolepsy was linked to the swine flu vaccine.
The revelations come the same day that health secretary Jeremy Hunt launched new measures to improve patient safety in the NHS, in response to research conducted by experts at the Universities of Sheffield, Manchester, and York that showed prescription errors cause 1,700 deaths each year, could contribute to as many as 22,000 deaths, and cost the NHS £1.6 billion.
The BuzzFeed News investigation raises serious questions over the advice that was given to NHS staff at the time by the government's chief medical officer, the chief nurse, and the national flu director that the vaccine had been ''thoroughly tested'' and was safe to use. That advice was shared in a joint statement by the Department of Health (DH), medical royal colleges, and trade unions, including the British Medical Association and Unison.
Normally vaccines undergo testing to make sure they are safe, and vaccination has been proven to save millions of lives across the globe. But Pandemrix was different. It had not gone through the normal process and was fast-tracked without the usual clinical trials.
Staff were also not told that the government had agreed a unique deal with GSK to indemnify the company for any problems with the vaccine.
The investigation also turns the spotlight on decisions by the UK government to continue using the vaccine even after other European countries suspended its use once evidence of a problem emerged.
Peter Carter, then chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing, told BuzzFeed News it was ''a matter of huge concern'' that the vaccine had not been properly tested, contrary to what he was told at the time.
Meleney Gallagher was diagnosed in 2013 but only after years of being unable to stay awake and having cataplexy attacks several times a day, sometimes caused simply by laughing.
Photo by Bethany Clarke / edited by Laura Gallant / BuzzFeed She switched jobs to be a district nurse, but the problems got worse. She said: ''I was falling asleep in the clinic and driving home. I had cataplexy attacks when I was in the room with patients. I knew I wasn't safe to practise.''
Although she sought help from occupational health services, her GP employer reported her to the Nursing and Midwifery Council and she was medically retired in April 2017. She received just 12 weeks' pay for 20 years' service in the NHS.
She said she had been denied an informed choice over the jab. ''They can't just do what they want with vaccines, otherwise it's like Russian roulette and you can't do that. I just want someone to stand up and to say they were wrong and apologise. Someone to be sorry for what they have done. I feel really angry.''
Gallagher's vaccination was part of a concerted effort by the Department of Health to immunise as many workers as possible. At the time, there was widespread global concern about the spread of the swine flu virus and fears it could replicate the Spanish flu of 1918.
While the concern was to save lives, it is alleged that senior figures in the department, including the chief nurse, chief medical officer, and national flu director, did not give a full picture of the vaccine.
A swine flu leaflet produced by the DH for staff and patients ahead of the nationwide vaccination said: ''The European Commission carefully considered all the evidence and recommended that [the vaccine] could be used.''
But it made no mention of the fact the European Medicines Agency had licensed Pandemrix under ''exceptional circumstances'' based on ''mock vaccines'' that did not include the actual ingredients that would eventually be injected into people. The EMA confirmed this approach was ''unique to pandemic preparedness vaccines''.
Chris Bethell for BuzzFeed The DH leaflet also made no mention of the government's agreement to indemnify GSK for any problems with the vaccine. This was not widely known at the time, and the indemnity deal has never been published. In the summer of 2009, Wolf-Dieter Ludwig, chair of the German Medical Association's drug commission, had warned EU governments not to bear the risk for pharmaceutical companies.
Nationwide vaccinations started in the UK on 21 October 2009, despite the fact that experts at the DH had known since May the flu was milder than first thought. On 22 October, ministers agreed to revise down the worst-case scenario from 19,000 deaths to 1,000.
Ahead of the vaccinations starting, Dame Christine Beasley, then chief nursing officer for England, told Nursing Times: ''We've gone through exactly the same procedures as we do with seasonal flu vaccine and it's as safe as a vaccine can be.''
On the day immunisations began, the RCN's Peter Carter was quoted saying he was ''entirely satisfied'' the vaccine was safe because it had undergone ''rigorous testing''.
Carter told BuzzFeed News: ''At the time, Liam Donaldson, the chief medical officer, and Professor David Salisbury, the DH's director of immunisation, were assuring people this vaccine had been thoroughly and properly tested, so people like me, in good faith, had no reason to disbelieve that and were happy to encourage people to have the swine flu vaccine.
''It is a matter of huge concern that several years later it's now apparent this was not properly tested, and this will obviously shake the confidence of people for any future pandemic flu immunisation programmes. People have a reasonable expectation that what they are being told is accurate and it is a matter of regret that it clearly wasn't.''
Chris Bethell for BuzzFeed Salisbury told BuzzFeed News he believed a normal clinical trial would have been too small to pick up the problems with Pandemrix. ''Given its rarity, any excess risk could only be detected after huge population exposure done through post-marketing surveillance,'' he said.
He declined to comment on staff saying they felt pressured or on issues around informed consent.
Sir Liam Donaldson did not respond to a request for comment.
NHS trusts received six letters between September and October alone urging them to vaccinate staff.
In November 2009, Ian Dalton, then national director for NHS flu resilience and now chief executive of NHS Improvement, wrote for the Health Service Journal that vaccinating staff was the ''highest clinical priority''. He stressed the need for staff to have information about ''how it has been tested to ensure safety''.
By 4 February 2010, it was clear swine flu was not going to be the catastrophe many had feared and ministers agreed not to extend vaccinations to the public. The NHS vaccination campaign went on because staff were considered a priority group.
Dalton wrote to trusts again saying he expected improvement in the uptake rate despite the ''predominantly mild illness''. In an update for the Health Service Journal, he warned against complacency and said the programme was a ''key governance responsibility'' for NHS boards.
Photo by Bethany Clarke / edited by Laura Gallant / BuzzFeed By April 2010, around 40% of the NHS frontline staff had been vaccinated with Pandemrix, which was more than double the seasonal flu vaccine uptake of 17% in 2008.
Among them were Hayley Best, an intensive care nurse working in Craigavon, Northern Ireland, and Shane Keenan, a senior emergency nurse practitioner in Oxford, who worked for 35 years in the NHS.
Both said they felt pressured to have the vaccine. Keenan said he felt it was ''emotional blackmail'', adding: ''We weren't informed it wasn't properly trialled.'' Best agreed: ''It wasn't that you were asked if you wanted it; you were told this was your appointment.''
Keenan told BuzzFeed News that after he got the Pandemrix jab his life ''started to fall apart'... By early February [2010], I was having nightmares like you wouldn't believe and visual hallucinations.''
Best said the effect on her was similarly dramatic, with severe suicidal thoughts within weeks.
Both said their symptoms were initially dismissed as depression and fatigue. Keenan was referred to specialists in December 2010. He struggled with work and was put through a capability assessment by his trust and moved down a pay band, decreasing his salary by £500 a month.
Eventually he realised he couldn't continue. ''I was a potential danger to patients. I went to occupational health and suggested ill health retirement.''
He said narcolepsy had ''completely destroyed my life and my career. I worked damned hard to get to the pinnacle of my career. I lectured at Oxford University; now I can't even stack shelves. I was injured in the line of duty. NHS staff are collateral damage.''
Best wasn't diagnosed until October 2014. She switched jobs to become a district nurse but still struggled. ''It really came to a head in 2014 when I started falling asleep behind the wheel of my car. I just got to the point where I would have driven to somebody's house and not be able to remember doing it.'' She was medically retired in October 2016, just before her 40th birthday.
She said: ''I was given a vaccine that wasn't properly tested. I am a big advocate for vaccination; my children have every vaccine that is offered.
''I was a good nurse, I know I was a good nurse. So where are my employers now? Where is my NHS? Where is my government? If you are going to encourage your frontline staff to have vaccines then the least you can do is have facilities in place if they happen to react to it. I feel completely betrayed. I have been abandoned. The NHS should have something in place if and when it goes wrong.''
Not everyone had been convinced the vaccine was safe for use. Switzerland's medicine regulator Swissmedic refused to license it for use on under-18s in October 2009, and Michael Kochen, president of the German College of General Practitioners and Family Physicians, told the BMJ that same year that it had not been sufficiently tested to be declared safe.
The first hard evidence of a problem with Pandemrix emerged in 2010 when doctors in Finland noticed a dramatic increase in children with narcolepsy. Since then a number of studies in Europe and the UK have shown the vaccine is linked to an increased risk of narcolepsy in children and adults.
But even then, the Department of Health was not finished with the vaccine. While other European countries suspended its use in August 2010 due to the concerns, the UK used it to fill gaps in the seasonal flu jab supply in January 2011.
Professor Salisbury said at the time it was not a ''second-class vaccine'' and patients were ''getting an effective vaccine and a safe vaccine''.
According to the EMA, more than 980 people across Europe have been reported as developing narcolepsy because of Pandemrix, with 872 people reported as developing cataplexy, including more than 500 children.
More than 120 children and adults are believed to have been affected in the UK '' some because of vaccinations that took place in winter 2010-11, after the first studies showing the side-effects had emerged and a year after the swine flu scare.
Around 100 UK families are suing GSK claiming the vaccine was a faulty product. Their law firm, Hodge Jones & Allen, declined to comment but the case has been ongoing since October 2013. It could result in a compensation bill as high as £100 million.
In 2016, judges ruled in favour of Josh Hadfield, who received a maximum £120,000 via the Vaccine Damage Payments Act after the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), which administers the scheme, admitted Pandemrix caused Josh's narcolepsy when he was vaccinated aged 4.
His mother, Caroline, described the effect of the vaccine to BuzzFeed News: ''He would like to have a bath on his own but he can't because there is a risk that he is going to fall asleep and drown. He is very introverted and doesn't like going out on his own because he is scared of what might happen.
''He sleeps two to four hours a day at school and that is when he is fully medicated. He has his own small bedroom at school. He doesn't have a normal childhood.''
She added: ''I am not saying all vaccines are bad and people shouldn't have them. It's the fact the government won't help people after something goes wrong.''
During a parliamentary debate in March last year, Tracy Brabin MP accused the government of ''foot dragging'', which was ''causing unacceptable and upsetting suffering and distress for the families involved''.
She said in Sweden, Finland, Norway, Iceland, and France people who developed narcolepsy due to Pandemrix have already been compensated.
In 2014, 23-year-old nursery assistant Katie Clack died after jumping from a multi-storey car park. In a note to her family written on the day she died, she described the effects of narcolepsy as unbearable and urged her family to continue her legal action against GSK.
For the NHS staff who have developed narcolepsy, their ordeal has been compounded by being forced to battle with the health service and the government for recognition.
Junior doctor Ruth Tunney was in her third year of medical school on placement at Salford Royal Hospital when she volunteered for the vaccine.
''It was bundled in with the seasonal flu,'' she told BuzzFeed News. ''I don't remember reading anywhere that it hadn't been tested. I didn't see anything that told me it was a different vaccine. It was a generic consent form.''
She added: ''I appreciate at the time they thought people were going to die and they had to act. I am completely pro-vaccination but they should acknowledge what has happened and do something about it rather than just denying it, which it feels is what is happening. It's changed my life for the worse forever.''
Community midwife Susan Hamilton was formally diagnosed in 2012 after falling asleep while driving with her son. Her career was over, and six years on she faces having to sell her family home.
Hamilton said she tried reaching a compromise with her NHS trust but ''was told categorically that they could not make a job for me and didn't have any obligation to make a job for me''.
She said: ''I have been forced out of my job because of a faulty drug and a trust who would not help me work around my condition or wait until I was stabilised on my medication. The NHS has abandoned us. We are damaged goods.''
Like other staff, she said was not given information about the vaccine: ''We weren't given a choice. It wasn't informed consent.''
In response to this winter's severe seasonal flu there are increasing calls for NHS staff to face mandatory vaccinations. On Twitter, former NHS England and Department of Health medical director Sir Bruce Keogh responded to such calls by saying: ''I think a serious debate around mandatory flu vaccination is inevitable before next winter.''
Speaking to Buzzfeed News, Keogh said: ''Every winter flu puts a significant strain on the NHS and a lot of people die. Both can be reduced with sensible vaccination programmes. A debate is emerging on how best to protect both vulnerable patients and staff in the NHS, particularly since there is such a big difference in vaccination rates between NHS organisations and over a third of flu is transmitted by asymptomatic people, meaning staff could unwittingly be spreading flu to their patients. No one wants that.
''Some people are in favour of mandatory vaccination, which could be across the board or only as a prerequisite for working in certain areas. Others are opposed on the basis of freedom of choice. My sense is that staff should have their choice informed by evidence of benefit to themselves, their patients, and their organisation along with any potential personal risks or preferences.
Photo by Barry Cronin / edited by Laura Gallant / BuzzFeed ''My view is that the focus on increasing staff vaccination rates should be on ensuring that organisations can demonstrate they have offered every single member of staff the chance to have a vaccine and made it easy for them to do so. This is what organisations with high vaccination rates do.''
On the specific issues around Pandemrix and the lack of support for the staff affected by the vaccine, Keogh said: ''It would seem both fair and reasonable and in keeping with the values of the NHS that if somebody suffers as a result of trying to do the right thing for others that they would be looked after appropriately.''
Matt O'Neill, chair of Narcolepsy UK, a charity supporting some of the families affected, believes there should be a public inquiry into the use of the vaccines, what was known at the time, and how staff have been treated since.
He said: ''NHS staff vaccinated with Pandemrix have been treated pretty disgustingly. Having a vaccination is an act you take on behalf of the community, for the benefit of the herd. When it goes wrong it makes sense that the herd should look after you.''
''More staff would sign up for vaccines if they saw the NHS admit when it went wrong and that it supported staff. At some point, there will be another pandemic and we will need staff to have confidence they will be looked after if something goes wrong.''
In 2010, Andy Burnham, the Labour health secretary at the time, and other ministers contributed to a review of the handling of the pandemic. It said: ''[Management] personally would prefer to be criticised for doing too much rather than the alternative, where there could have been unnecessary deaths from doing too little.''
Guy Leschziner, a consultant neurologist at Guy's and St Thomas' Foundation Trust, has treated a number of people who developed narcolepsy after having the swine flu vaccine.
On the use of Pandemrix, he told BuzzFeed News: ''It's always easy with the benefit of hindsight. What we have to remember was what was going on at the time, which was that we thought we were going to have an epidemic of a very severe flu. Now today, knowing we didn't have quite the epidemic we thought we were going to have, you might come to a different conclusion, but at the time we didn't know that Pandemrix was associated with narcolepsy in comparison to the other vaccine.''
GSK refused to answer questions from BuzzFeed News but issued a statement saying further research was needed to understand what role Pandemrix played in the development of narcolepsy. The company did not renew its licence and the vaccine is no longer authorised by the EMA.
On its website, the EMA said: ''Understanding the link between narcolepsy and Pandemrix remains the subject of investigations and may have implications for the future use of similar vaccines.'' It said GSK had agreed to continue investigating the vaccine.
Guido Rasi, the executive director of the European Medicines Agency, said: ''Immunisation has helped us to bring some major human diseases under control. Worldwide, vaccines are saving the lives of approximately 9 million people every year, more than the whole population of Austria. Today, no child in Europe has to die from formerly common childhood diseases.''
He accepted vaccines were not 100% risk-free but added: ''No medicine is. There is a one in a million chance that an adverse event happens. In Europe, we are actively monitoring the safety of medicines, including vaccines, and also looking at all reported side effects. These are recorded in a database and reviewed regularly to identify any potential problem at an early stage.'' Around a million reports are made every year.
The Department of Health said its decision to use the vaccine was based on evidence and advice from experts but declined to comment due to the ongoing legal action. Although the DWP has previously admitted causation in the case of Josh Hadfield, it refused to answer questions, saying it would not detail its policy on Pandemrix unless a Freedom of Information Act request was submitted.
Photo by Barry Cronin / edited by Laura Gallant / BuzzFeed Swine flu was a potential health crisis and there are no suggestions ministers, the DH, or GSK acted with anything other than the best of intentions to save lives. But fear of the virus and misplaced confidence in the vaccine's safety led to staff feeling pressured to have the jab, and not being given all the facts. Eight years on, those staff are still waiting for their sacrifice to be recognised.
''It has been soul-destroying to lose my career,'' said Meleney Gallagher. ''I used to say if I could go to work and make one patient smile then I'd have done my job, but I couldn't do that because I couldn't even risk laughing with a patient in case I collapsed.
''I am angry. I put a lot into my career, I gave a lot. I would have expected a bit of respect for the effort I put into the NHS.''
Shaun is an investigative health journalist covering patient safety and quality of care issues in the NHS. He helped expose the Mid Staffordshire Hospital care scandal and believes in public interest journalism.
Contact ShaunLintern at lintern.shaun@gmail.com.
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Media caption Prof Andrea Cipriani said it was good news for patients and doctorsScientists say they have settled one of medicine's biggest debates after a huge study found that anti-depressants work.
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However, the study found they ranged from being a third more effective than a placebo to more than twice as effective.
Lead researcher Dr Andrea Cipriani, from the University of Oxford, told the BBC: "This study is the final answer to a long-standing controversy about whether anti-depressants work for depression.
"We found the most commonly prescribed anti-depressants work for moderate to severe depression and I think this is very good news for patients and clinicians."
Anti-depressant "stigma"Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media caption "There's still a stigma"Christian Talbot, a comedian, said he first started taking anti-depressants three and a half years ago after he found talking therapies had been ineffective for him.
His doctor told him his depression was due to his low levels of serotonin, which is thought to influence mood, emotion and sleep.
Christian said he had been reluctant to take anti-depressants at first because he feared they might make him "numb" or dull his senses.
But he said when he did take them the results were "immediately beneficial".
"It wasn't that I felt a huge change come over me but I did feel literally like there was a weight that came off my shoulders. I was less anxious and felt more even."
He said he felt there was a stigma around taking the drugs.
"I don't know if people are afraid of them or they're embarrassed about them, because it's a medication just like anything else, except it's for a mental health issue rather than a physical issue."
Anti-depressants - the most and least effectiveImage copyright Getty Images The most effective:
agomelatine amitriptyline escitalopram mirtazapine paroxetine The least effective:
fluoxetine fluvoxamine reboxetine trazodone 'Compelling evidence'The study's authors said the findings could help doctors to pick the right prescription, but it did not mean everyone should be switching medications.
That is because the study looked at the average effect of drugs rather than how they worked for individuals of different ages or gender, the severity of symptoms and other characteristics.
Researchers added that most of the data in the meta-analysis covered eight weeks of treatment, so the findings might not apply to longer-term use.
And they said it did not mean that anti-depressants should always be the first form of treatment.
At least one million more people in the UK would benefit from treatments, including anti-depressants, they said.
"Medication should always be considered alongside other options, such as psychological therapies, where these are available," Dr Cipriani added.
You might also be interested in: Prof Carmine Pariante, from the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said: "This meta-analysis finally puts to bed the controversy on anti-depressants, clearly showing that these drugs do work in lifting mood and helping most people with depression.
"Importantly, the paper analyses unpublished data held by pharmaceutical companies, and shows that the funding of studies by these companies does not influence the result, thus confirming that the clinical usefulness of these drugs is not affected by pharma-sponsored spin."
However, Prof Pariante said the paper did not improve understanding of how to help patients who had treatment-resistant depression and who were not helped by taking any of the 21 tested drugs.
Glyn Lewis, professor of psychiatric epidemiology at University College London, said the "excellent" study provided "compelling evidence" for the effectiveness of anti-depressants.
He added: "Anti-depressants often receive a 'bad press' but this paper shows they have a role in the management for people with depression."
VIDEO - School shooting survivor: CNN told me to stick to script - YouTube
Sun, 25 Feb 2018 14:22
VIDEO - Former All-Pro Cornerback Charles Tillman Training For The FBI | SI Wire | Sports Illustrated - YouTube
Sun, 25 Feb 2018 14:20
VIDEO - La Loche school shooter takes the stand at sentencing hearing to address victims | Watch News Videos Online
Sun, 25 Feb 2018 14:13
The La Loche gunman has spoken in a northern Saskatchewan court room. During the hearing to determine whether he should be sentenced as a youth or an adult, the teen expressed remorse and apologized to each of his victims. Ryan Kessler reports.
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VIDEO - Broward Sheriff Scott Israel Speaks About Las Vegas Shooting CBS Miami
Sun, 25 Feb 2018 14:02
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BROWARD (CBSMiami) '' On January 6, 2017, Broward County faced a situation encountered in communities across the US '-- a lone gunman in a public place opening fire.
Esteban Santiago is accused of killing five people inside the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.
''Although it was a day that will live in infamy in Broward County, it was one of the finest hours in law enforcement,'' Broward Sheriff Scott Israel said.
Israel sees the parallels between what happened at the airport and what happened on Sunday night in Las Vegas when authorities say Stephen Paddock fired off round after round into a large crowd gathered for a music festival. Israel says in a situation like that, it's almost impossible to stop.
''If you have a lone wolf assassin that's committed to commit great carnage and killing people, there's really nothing you can do about it,'' Israel said.
In the airport shooting, deputies took Santiago down quickly '-- stopping the threat. In Las Vegas, the shooter had minutes to fire and killed dozens and injured hundreds more before apparently taking his own life.
What it teaches Israel is this: In this day and age whenever you go out to a public place you must be aware of your surroundings.
''You have to look at areas of ingress and egress,'' he said. ''Who's around you? You have to look up high, you have to look above. You have to have a plan. Where am I gonna run to? Where can I hide?''
After the airport shooting in Broward, reports were issued on how the law enforcement and the county's response could be improved. A range of topics emerged '-- better communications, improved radio capabilities for first responders and how to handle a massive response of law enforcement officers from all over the area that wanted to help.
''We appreciate their desire to get to these events and venues,'' Israel said. ''But at the end of the day self-dispatching probably makes it worse and not better.''
Broward County is continually playing host to large events like several music festivals on Fort Lauderdale Beach.
Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler told CBS4 News that in light of what happened in Las Vegas they will be reviewing and updating their security plans on all events in the city.
For Israel, he believes while events like the shooting in Las Vegas is virtually impossible to stop, deputies, police, federal agents and firefighters can work together to train for nearly every scenario in the hopes of responding quickly and preventing even more deaths.
''You play as you train and that's what we have to do,'' Israel said. ''I have a commitment to never stop the training from this agency.''
Israel said that even though they cannot stop a potential lone wolf killer, they do rely on the public to speak up. If they see someone acting strangely or posting threatening things on social media, they should contact law enforcement. He also said that he believes the Las Vegas massacre should prompt frank and honest discussions in Tallahassee and Washington about commonsense gun control.
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VIDEO - All In With Chris Hayes : MSNBCW : February 20, 2018 12:00am-1:00am PST : Free Streaming : Internet Archive
Sun, 25 Feb 2018 13:10
i also wanted to ask about stricter gun reforms, gun safety, gun laws, and just have a discussion with him about it. because i feel like we -- if not me, a bunch of people just want to hear. we want to hear that things are going to change. we want to hear how things are going to change, and we want to hear that -- i mean, we've gone through this so many times before, columbine, sandy hook, las vegas. nothing has been done. and we want to see that something is going to be done. >> sophie, there is someone at the white house who talked about the shooting that happened at your school as a reprieve, and they meant in a very specific context. the white house had been getting a lot of bad press about scandals and so forth. i wonder how that strikes your ears, having lived through what you just lived through. >> can you repeat the question, please? >> someone in the white house referred to what happened in your school as a reprieve, an aide. and they meant it in a very specific context, that it was a reprieve from all the bad publicity the president and his staff lad been getting after
VIDEO - New Yorker's Adrian Chen: Russia Social Media Marketing Bot Campaign Wasn't Effective | Video | RealClearPolitics
Sun, 25 Feb 2018 12:50
Adrian Chen of The New Yorker tells MSNBC's Chris Hayes a Russian social media marketing operation backed with a couple of million dollars with employees who have a bare grasp of the English language with a lack of understanding who they're targeting didn't seem to be that effective.
"I think if you think about that in terms of just a normal marketing campaign, that's not going to be a very good bang for your buck," he said.
"The effectiveness question which everybody is talking about now, it's of my personal belief that it isn't all that effective," Chen said on Monday's All In. "It's essentially a social media marketing campaign with 90 people, a couple million dollars, a few million dollars behind it, run by people who have, you know, a bare grasp of the English language and not a full understanding of who they're targeting, what they're targeting."
Chen said the paranoid aspect such as "anybody who is tweeting something that you don't like" is what is causing trouble on the internet.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC: Do you think that it's going to -- it seems like in some ways it's a remarkably effective model. In so far AS if you just want to mess with people, there is this kind of -- there is this kind of salt in the wound thing happening here, right? In terms of what the goals are, you don't have to pull off some enormous thing. You just have to kind of be in people's consciousness enough constantly in this sort of irritant way with 90 people you're paying, running an operation that doesn't cost that much money. It does seem like a good bang for your buck.
ADRIAN CHEN, THE NEW YORKER: Well, the effectiveness question which everybody is talking about now, it's of my personal belief that it isn't all that effective. It's essentially a social media marketing campaign with 90 people, a couple million dollars, a few million dollars behind it, run by people who have, you know, a bare grasp of the English language and not a full understanding of who they're targeting, what they're targeting.
I think if you think about that in terms of just a normal marketing campaign, that's not going to be a very good bang for your buck.
ADRIAN CHEN: I think the paranoia aspect, right, the idea that there is this kind of all-powerful or immense propaganda machine that is going on, and anybody who is tweeting something that you don't like or is kind of causing trouble on the internet.
CHRIS HAYES: Could be an agent.
ADRIAN CHEN: Could be connected to Russia, that is a very powerful thing that's going on and is really increasing now I think in the wake of these indictments in kind of a warring way. There is not a lot of people saying well, let's hold back, you know, maybe it's not all of that big of a deal.
VIDEO - Why are Russian trolls spreading online hoaxes in the U.S.? - YouTube
Sun, 25 Feb 2018 12:45
VIDEO - What Netanyahu's Growing Corruption Scandal Means for the Region - YouTube
Sat, 24 Feb 2018 13:56
VIDEO - Pot, meet kettle. Colton Haab goes on Fox News to confirm that CNN tried to force him to read a script, names CNN producer Carrie Stevenson who literally told him to "stick to the script." He asks Fox Host Chris Tucker if he'd like to hear his que
Sat, 24 Feb 2018 05:34
VIDEO - Fla. school officer waited outside building for 4 minutes as killings happened, sheriff says - ABC News
Fri, 23 Feb 2018 14:03
A Marjory Stoneman Douglas school resource officer has been suspended without pay after Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said video shows him taking up a defensive position during the shooting but never entering the school.
Interested in Florida School Shooting? Add Florida School Shooting as an interest to stay up to date on the latest Florida School Shooting news, video, and analysis from ABC News. Israel announced Thursday that the decision to suspend Deputy Scot Peterson was made after reviewing video from the shooting and taking statements from witnesses and Peterson himself, Israel said.
''He should have went in, addressed the killer, killed the killer,'' Israel said.
Peterson was armed and on campus during the shooting, Israel said. Since he met the requirements for retirement, Peterson opted to resign after he was told he was being suspended, Israel said.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images People are brought out of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School after a shooting, Feb. 14, 2018, in Parkland, Florida. Israel said that the video shows Peterson arrived at the west side of Building 12, where most of the killing happened. He then took up a position but "never went in."
The video shows that Peterson remained outside the building for upward of four minutes during the shooting, which lasted about six minutes, Israel said. Aside from getting "on his radio," Peterson did "nothing" while standing outside the building, Israel said.
AP Graphic shows details of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Fla., on Feb. 14, 2018. When the shooting started, Peterson was in an office dealing with a "school-related issue," Israel said.
WPLG Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel addresses a press conference on Feb. 22, 2018. When asked by reporters to describe how the video made him feel, Israel responded, "sick to my stomach" and "devastated."
"It doesn't matter who went in first, it doesn't matter in what order you went in," he said. "What matters is that when we in law enforcement arrive at an active shooter, we go in and address the target and that's what should have been done."
Peterson was named school resource officer of the year in the city of Parkland in 2014, after he had been with the school for five years, records show. According to a booklet announcing the award, Peterson had been "proven to be reliable in handling issues with tact and judgment" and was active in mentoring and counseling students that year.
Peterson was also nominated for Parkland deputy of the year in 2017, an internal memo from the sheriff's office dated March 27, 2017, shows. He started his career with the Broward County Sheriff's Office in 1985.
Mike Stocker/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP Nikolas Cruz appears in court for a status hearing before Broward Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Monday, Feb. 19, 2018. The personnel file on Peterson shows he completed multiple training programs as well, including a mandatory firearms training program and special tactical problems training program.
Two other deputies were placed on restricted duty while the sheriff's office investigates whether they "could've" or "should've" done more while dealing with suspect, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, amid the 23 calls they received involving Cruz or his brother since 2008, Israel said.
Of those calls, investigators feel that two cases "deserve extra scrutiny" to see if there was a policy violation by the deputies involved.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images People are brought out of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School after a shooting at the school, Feb. 14, 2018, in Parkland, Fla. Cruz was arrested shortly after the shooting and is charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder. He is being held in a Broward County jail.
On Wednesday, Israel announced that Broward County sheriff's deputies would now be carrying AR-15 rifles on school grounds within the district, adding that one of the ways to make schools safer is to evaluate the number of school resource officers on campuses.
VIDEO - TheLastRefuge on Twitter: "1. Watch this video. People don't understand how Broward County School Sheriff Officers operate. I'll explain.'... "
Fri, 23 Feb 2018 13:46
Skip to contentTheLastRefuge2's profile The Last Refuge is a rag tag bunch of misfits that do not align with political specificity. We share information, seek known truths and discuss.
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Officer Scot Peterson didn't engage Nikolas Cruz. I can only assume that this officer is a coward. pic.twitter.com/2CRER6fx8p
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New conversation 2. I spent about 18 months in 2012, 2013 and 2014 investigating Broward and Miami-Dade school policies and how those policies transfer to law enforcement practices.
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3. My interest was initially accidental. I discovered an untold story of massive scale and consequence as a result of initial research into Trayvon Martin and his High School life.
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4. What I stumbled upon was a Broward County law enforcement system in a state of conflict. The Broward County School Board and District Superintendent, entered into a political agreement with Broward County Law enforcement officials to stop arresting students for crimes.
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5. The motive was simple. The school system administrators wanted to "improve their statistics" and gain state and federal grant money for improvements therein.
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6. So police officials, the very highest officials of law enforcement (Sheriff and Police Chiefs), entered into a plan.pic.twitter.com/DpDSZDQlMH13 replies 529 retweets 759 likes
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10. Initially the police were excusing misdemeanor behaviors. However, it didn't take long until felonies, even violent felonies (armed robberies, assaults and worse) were being excused.pic.twitter.com/GfWlOKU16Q9 replies 481 retweets 688 likes
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11. The need to continue lowering the arrests year-over-year meant that increasingly more severe unlawful behavior had to be ignored. Over time even the most severe of unlawful conduct was being filtered by responding police.
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12. We found out about it, when six cops blew the whistle on severe criminal conduct they were being instructed to hide. The sheriff and police Chiefs were telling street cops and school cops to ignore ever worsening criminal conduct.
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13. The police were in a bind. They were encountering evidence of criminal conduct and yet they had to hide the conduct. There were examples of burglary and robbery where the police had to hide the recovered evidence in order to let the kids get away without reports.
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14. The police would take the stolen merchandise and intentionally falsify police records to record stolen merchandise *as if* they just found it on the side of the road.
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15. They put drugs and stolen merchandise in bags, and sent it to storage rooms in the police department. Never assigning the recovery to criminal conduct. Stolen merchandise was just sitting in storage rooms gathering dust.
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16. They couldn't get the stuff back to the victim because that would mean the police would have to explain how they took custody of it. So they just hid it. To prove this was happening one of the officers told me where to look, and who the victim was.
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17. At first I didn't believe them. However, after getting information from detectives, cross referencing police reports, and looking at the "found merchandise", I realized they were telling the truth.
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18. A massive internal investigation took place and the results were buried. Participating in the cover-up were people in the media who were connected to the entire political apparatus.
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19. The sheriff and police chief could always deny the violent acts (assaults, rapes, beatings etc.) were being ignored; that's why the good guys in the police dept gave the evidence of the stolen merchandise. That physical evidence couldn't be ignored and proved the scheme.
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20. From 2012 though 2018 it only got worse. In Broward and Miami-Dade it is almost impossible for a student to get arrested. The staff within the upper levels of LEO keep track of arrests and when a certain number is reached all else is excused.
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21. Well it didn't take long for criminal gangs in Broward and Miami-Dade to realize the benefit of using students for their criminal activities. After all, the kids would be let go... so organized crime became easier to get away with if they enlisted high-school kids.
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22. As criminals became more adept at the timing within the offices of the officials, they timed their biggest crimes to happen after the monthly maximum arrest quota was made.
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23. The most serious of armed robberies etc. were timed for later in the month or quarter. The really serious crimes were timed in the latter phases of the data collection periods. This way the student criminals were almost guaranteed to get away with it.
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24. Now. You can see how that entire process gets worse over time. Present corruption (the need to hide the policy) expands in direct relationship to the corruption before it. This is where the School Police come into play.
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25. Understanding the risk behind the scheme, it became increasingly important to put the best corrupt cops in the schools. *BEST* as in *SMARTEST*. Those SRO's became the ones who were best at hiding the unlawful conduct.
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26. Again, over time, the most corrupt police officers within the system became the police inside the schools. These officers were those who are best skilled at identifying the political objectives and instructions.
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27. Those "School Cops" also have special privileges. It's a great gig. They get free "on campus" housing close to the schools they are assigned to etc. They're crooked as hell and the criminal kids how just how to play them. It's a game. Also an open secret.
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28. A lot of it came out during an earlier *internal affairs* investigation. Unfortunately the behavior never changed because the politics never changed. It's still going on:pic.twitter.com/W7kMZ8cIvC10 replies 341 retweets 522 likes
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29. For years this has been happening and no-one cared. Crimes happen; students excused; victims ignored; etc. The Broward County School and Law Enforcement system is designed to flow exactly this way. It's politics.pic.twitter.com/yUvcP5PaFB69 replies 848 retweets 1,043 likes
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30. Only then a Parkland school shooting happened. For Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel this had to be an "oh shit" moment; but not for the reasons the media initially thought. If people start digging, they'll discover the shooter was one of those previously excused students
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31. The same sentiment applies for Sheriff Scott's partner, School Superintendent Robert Runcie (previously from Chicago),.... things are very risky if people start digging.pic.twitter.com/sYLK5NY2VH31 replies 506 retweets 699 likes
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VIDEO - The A to Z of Drug Side Effects - YouTube
Thu, 22 Feb 2018 22:29
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