1125: Elusive Logic

Adam Curry & John C. Dvorak

2h 47m
March 31st, 2019
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Executive Producers: Peter Barthel, Baron Walk-Man of Ohio, Sir Scott Nelson, Tom Homewood, Fi-nonymous , Dame of the flashing blades

Associate Executive Producers: Sir TG of my Left Tongue Too, Sir Dan the Man, Jason Radak

Cover Artist: Darren O'Neill


Start of Show
Crackling Issues
That's True
Pro-Brexit Protest in London
UKIP Leader Gerard Batten Summarizes Brexit Position
John Brennan Supercut
Adam Schiff
Democracy Now!: Glenn Greenwald vs. David Cay Johnston
Jeanine Pirro Returns to Fox News
Saturday Night Live: Mueller Report Cold Open
Associated Press: Maddow, Other MSNBC Hosts See Ratings Drop, Fox Up
Lucy Flores Accuses Joe Biden of Unwanted Touching
Eric Holder Calls Electoral College a Defect in the Democracy
High Turn-Out of Democrats at Trump Rallies
Sky News Cuts Off British Major-General Jonathan Shaw
Jussie Smollett's Lawyer Suggests Attackers Had Whiteface Make-Up Behind Ski Mask
Chris Rock Mocks Jussie Smollett at NAACP Awards
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel Calls Out Trump
Earth Hour 2019
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
Headlines & Jumpcuts
Nancy Pelosi: "That's a Line for Applause"
Uber and Lyft Drivers Strike After Uber Cuts Drivers' Saleries
Experian Boost
Birthdays & Title Changes
JCD's Creaking Chair
Southern Poverty Law Center
Zuckerberg Calls for New Global Internet Regulations
Facebook Bans White Nationalism and Separatism Content
Cholera Outbreak in Mozambique
Trump Signs Executive Order to Protect the US From EMP Attacks
New York Post: Believing Conspiracy Theories Might Make You a Criminal
BBC Host Attacks Elliot Abrams Over Involvement in Past US Administrations
Trump Cuts Foreign Aid to Honduras, Guatemala & El Salvador
Alex Jones Questioned by Sandy Hook Parent's Lawyer
End of Show
Suggest a new chapter
The Purge
Facebook emails reveal discussion about Alex Jones' Instagram account - Business Insider
Thu, 28 Mar 2019 20:45
Facebook's deliberations about the notorious conspiracy theorist Alex Jones have been laid bare in a lengthy email trail seen by Business Insider.
On the day Facebook announced it was banning white nationalism and white separatism from its platform, more than 20 Facebook and Instagram executives discussed an inflammatory post by Infowars host Jones.
It follows Business Insider reporting the post to Instagram on Wednesday. It featured a picture of a painting by US artist Mear One that is considered to have anti-Semitic messaging.
The painting shows what appear to be caricatures of six Jewish men sitting around a Monopoly board, which is being held up by four subservient figures, shorn of their clothes. The post has now been deleted.
The Mear One painting posted by Alex Jones on Instagram. Alex Jones/Instagram
After BI reported the post and approached Facebook for comment, it sparked a lengthy email conversation at Facebook, the contents of which have been seen by this publication. Britain's Channel 4 News also obtained the emails.
The discussion offers a window into the intense deliberations Facebook has about content that could breach its community standards. It reveals conflicts of opinion, layers of process, and sensitivity to how its actions will be portrayed in the press at a time when the company is under unprecedented scrutiny.
Business Insider has chosen not to identify the executives involved in the discussion to avoid the risk of them targeted by Jones' acolytes.
Alex Jones' post escalated to Facebook's risk and response team The post was escalated to Facebook's risk and response team in Ireland. Initially, this team said the post did not violate Facebook's community standards, per an email from an escalations specialist. Another executive in Facebook's content policy team agreed with the decision.
In the message, copied below, the escalations specialist noted that there have been "internal discussions" about Jones and his designation as a "hate figure," but that his account does not violate Facebook's community standards.
Business Insider
If Jones was designated as a "hate figure" he would be banned from Instagram and praise or support for his work would be prohibited. He was barred from Facebook in July last year.
As the email chain continues, the Facebook executives then investigate the comments whipped up by Jones' Instagram post. These included remarks like "Stop Zionist shilling" and "F---ing jews," according to a sample of comments seen by BI before the post was removed.
Read more: Instagram is investigating an Alex Jones post that has stoked anti-Semitic hate in the comments
A US-based executive commented: "The 560 comments have been reviewed. Only 23 are violating and therefore the object does not meet the threshold for deletion."
This was around 4% of the comments, and the offending remarks were deleted. It is not clear how many comments need to break its rules before Facebook deletes the entire post.
Alex Jones. Reuters
Facebook's UK executives say the post is "anti-Semitic" Around this point, a number of UK executives jump into the conversation to make clear their views that Jones' post is problematic. A policy manager for Instagram was first to raise concerns.
"Sorry for jumping in late but can I check why the image is not considered violating, given the context that this image is widely considered to be anti-semitic? I appreciate on the face of it isn't clear, but I'd have thought that wide consideration changes things?" the executive said.
Another member of the policy team added: "This image is widely acknowledged to be anti-Semitic and is a famous image in the UK due to public controversy around it. If we go back and say it does not violate we will be in for a lot criticism."
Read more: Facebook is banning white nationalism and white separatism
The person appears to be referring to a controversy last year, when British politician Jeremy Corbyn voiced his support for a Mear One mural in London, similar to the one posted on Instagram by Jones. After an outpouring of anger, Corbyn later said he regretted the remark and made clear that Mear One's mural was "deeply disturbing and anti-Semitic."
A Facebook comms executive, also weighed in, saying the image was "clearly an anti-semitic theme," while a senior figure in Instagram's comms team had one of the final words on the painting.
In their email, copied below, the Instagram executive said keeping Jones' post live "undermines" Facebook's announcement about banning white nationalism. "It will be easy for media to say we're being inconsistent or ineffectual," the person said.
Business Insider
By Thursday, the post in question was quietly removed. Business Insider asked Facebook if it deleted the post.
A spokesman for the company said: "We want people to be able to express themselves freely on our platforms, but we also want to make sure that hate speech comes down.
"That is why we have public rules about what is and isn't allowed on Facebook and Instagram. As this exchange shows, deciding what content stays up and who can use our platforms is one of the hardest decisions we have to make as a company and it's sensible that we take the time to get it right."
He added: "As this email correspondence shows, we continually monitor and review whether people are involved in organized hate on our platform. We've already taken down InfoWars' Facebook Page, but Alex Jones has a network of presence online and we are evaluating how to appropriately enforce our policies against him as an individual. We're committed to being diligent and will share an update when that process has run its course."
BI has contacted Jones for comment through Infowars and will update if we hear back. Infowars reporter Millie Weaver tweeted this BI reporter saying our story on Wednesday about Jones' Mear One post was "fake news."
"We have demonstrated trolls are both making & flagging anti-Semitic comments on social media to take down conservatives like Jones & Infowars under false pretenses," Weaver said.
Mear One has previously denied the painting is anti-Semitic and described as "hysteria" the idea that the work is a reference to Jewish people. He made the comments in a blog on the website of renowned conspiracy theorist David Icke, who has been accused of being a Holocaust denier. "This mural is about class, not race, and labeling it as anti-Semitic is a divisive, self-interested political tactic," Mear One added on Twitter, in a post he retweeted only this week.
Insurance companies are now canceling policies of conservatives who post pro-Trump messages on social media '' DC Clothesline
Fri, 29 Mar 2019 07:48
(Natural News) What you choose to share with the world on your social media accounts could directly impact how much you pay for insurance '' or even if you're allowed to have insurance coverage at all.
New reports warn that people need to be extra cautious about posting pictures or videos that might be perceived as them engaging in high-risk activities, as some insurance companies are now actively scouring social media for anything they can find like this to deny people coverage.
People who travel a lot could wake up one day to discover that their home insurance has been canceled, for instance, as their houses are deemed to be at a higher risk of burglary. The same is true for adventure-seekers who climb the Brooklyn Bridge to take a selfie, and who thus could see their life insurance policies get terminated.
Natural News has also received reports of conservatives who are seeing their home insurance policies canceled for sharing pro-Trump information online, as such activity was found by some insurance carriers to '' brace yourself '' increase the risk of a home invasion or attack by the domestic terrorist group Antifa.
''Especially for claims, they look into social media, looking to see if someone's driving a motorcycle without a helmet or posting pictures drinking and smoking,'' warns Duarte Pereira, senior vice president of the IT (information technology) consulting group FitechGelb, reiterating this point.
For more ridiculous news like this, be sure to check out Twisted.news.
Just one more reason to ditch social media, or at least go anonymousThis is what happens when people sacrifice their privacy in exchange for popularity and trendiness, baring every sordid detail of their lives online to the entire world. It might seem ''cool'' for a while, but in the end it almost always has consequences '' including loneliness and depression, it's important to note.
The good news is that not all hope is lost. It's still possible to delete your social media accounts permanently, which in time will eliminate them from being accessed by the search engine ''spiders'' that tie them to your identity.
You can also change your name on platforms like Facebook and Instagram to an alias that won't link to your true identity. At least right now, there's no requirement that a person has to use social media '' and if an employer, an insurance company, or anyone else asks to see your social media profiles against your will, you can simply tell them no without any fear of them finding these profiles without your consent.
New York State passes consumer protection law to fight back against insurance companies using social media against policyholders''Nowadays, everybody just posts a selfie without knowing what could happen,'' says New York resident Alfredo Rodriguez, as quoted by a local CBS News affiliate.
New York recently passed a new consumer protection law that requires insurance companies to first prove the need for mining social media data '-- before doing so '-- for coverage and rate-charge purposes. The hope, of course, is that the other 49 states will pass similar legislation in the interest of protecting consumers.
''We need to be careful about what we post to social media anyway,'' Rodriguez adds. ''That's the reason I don't use Facebook at all.''
Experts say that there are also ways to ''clean up'' or ''reverse'' your social media profiles if you fear that content posted there might be used against you.
''Posting things like running a marathon or doing exercise'' are excellent strategies to help make your social media profiles less risky and more appealing.
For more news about how the internet, and social media specifically, are being used to enslave society and eliminate all privacy, visit Cyberwar.news.
Sources for this article include:
Green New Deal
Climate change: Are you suffering from 'eco-anxiety'? - BBC Three
Thu, 28 Mar 2019 20:27
The headlines detailing extreme weather events seem to come at you day after day. Your social feed - and just stepping outside - alerts you to record temperatures being set. And yet, still, some people in positions of power deny its full impact.
Meanwhile, an academic paper on climate change - that is so grim it apparently resulted in people going to therapy - has gone viral, with some reports suggesting it has been downloaded more than 110,000 times.
In the words of the 16-year-old Swedish climate change activist Greta Thunberg, who founded the school strike for climate movement in 2018: ''Adults keep saying, we owe it to the young people to give them hope. But I don't want your hope, I don't want you to be hopeful, I want you to panic.''
And, it seems, some people are indeed panicking, but, overwhelmed by the magnitude of the issue and mindful of their position as just one person on a planet of billions, they feel powerless. This has led to the phenomenon of 'eco-anxiety', described by Psychology Today as ''a fairly recent psychological disorder afflicting an increasing number of individuals who worry about the environmental crisis''.
Anxiety disorders more generally vary in severity and, according to Anxiety UK, more than 1 in 10 British adults are likely to experience a "disabling anxiety disorder" during the course of their life.
No stats are available on the prevalence of eco-anxiety, but some experts have noted an increase in public anxiety around climate change. Professor of psychology and environmental studies at the College of Wooster, Ohio, Susan Clayton, co-authored a 2017 report titled Mental Health and Our Changing Climate: Impacts, Implications, and Guidance. She says: "We can say that a significant proportion of people are experiencing stress and worry about the potential impacts of climate change, and that the level of worry is almost certainly increasing.''
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders - the guide mental health professionals use to make diagnoses in the US - does not yet include 'eco-anxiety' as a specific condition, but the American Psychological Association produced a 2017 report detailing the impacts of climate change on mental health which made reference to the term 'eco-anxiety'. The glossary describes it as "a chronic fear of environmental doom".
Melting ice fields in IcelandIt describes it as a source of stress caused by ''watching the slow and seemingly irrevocable impacts of climate change unfold, and worrying about the future for oneself, children, and later generations''. It adds that some people ''are deeply affected by feelings of loss, helplessness and frustration due to their inability to feel like they are making a difference in stopping climate change.''
It's possibly unsurprising, since it's hard to read the landmark 2018 report from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which called for ''urgent and unprecedented changes'' to achieve a reduction in carbon emissions of 45% by 2030 (11 years from now) without feeling some degree of uncertainty. That's the minimum we need to do if we want to keep the increase in global warming to 1.5C, beyond which the report warned of catastrophic results including flooding, extreme weather events, drought and famine.
Debra Roberts, lead author of the IPCC report, said at the time: ''It's a line in the sand and what it says to our species is that this is the moment and we must act now... I hope it mobilises people and dents the mood of complacency.''
"I've noticed a great increase of clients needing to talk about eco-anxiety since the IPCC report at the end of last year," says Mary Jayne Rust, a British eco-psychologist. "Mostly, they are in need of talking it through with a therapist who is knowledgeable about the issues. I think it is a massive thing to live with the suspicion that (as some of my younger clients have said), 'We're completely screwed'. I suspect it might be part of the reason for binge-drinking epidemics, and other addictions, for example. There is a general feeling that the future is so uncertain and it's extremely hard to live with."
Hilda Burke, an UKCP and BACP accredited psychotherapist, added that she has also ''noticed an increasing number of clients expressing anxiety over the state of the planet, and indeed its survival.''
Among sufferers of eco-anxiety, there is certainly not a mood of complacency, but more of frustration.
Sam Johnston suffers from eco-anxietySam Johnston, from Manchester, spoke to BBC Radio 1 for a documentary about eco-anxiety: ''When you go to sleep, but you start thinking about everything - the state of the planet, really, and the potential future of it - and knowing that there's only so much you can do as one person. I think that's the anxiety - because you just feel a bit powerless in it all.''
It can even affect professionals working in the field. Tim Gordon, a marine biologist at the University of Exeter, embarks on trips that many would dream of: studying life in incredible settings like the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, or the middle of the Arctic Ocean.
However, for him, it's tinged with sadness, because "what we find is that we're documenting the rapid decline of these places. A lot of the time, you're kind of numb to it." He continued in his interview with BBC Radio 1: "You've spent so many months doing it and you just get on with it - you know, you've got a job to do. But then occasionally, for no particularly good reason, it'll strike - you just float into the middle of the water, look around you and think: 'Wow, it's all dying'.
''There's been times that you cry into your mask because you look around and realise how tragic it is.''
For Sam, the anxiety manifests itself in physical ways. ''Recently, I'm struggling to fall asleep naturally,'' he says. ''I probably get a bout of heart palpitations - like, once a year.''
So, if you feel 'eco-anxiety' might be impacting your mental health, what steps can you take to counteract it?
However, scientists such as Owen Gaffney, co-author of a paper which details achievable steps and suggestions for governments, businesses and individuals to change their behaviours to slow warming, believes that people should not feel hopeless about the situation and that individual choices can have a positive impact on the planet.
He told BBC Three: ''Eco-anxiety is the right response to the scale of the challenge. But I am an optimist. We live in an age where individuals have more power than at any time in history. Look at your sphere of influence - employer, networks, family - and influence them. We don't need to convince 100% of people, only 25%, then an idea can go from marginal to mainstream.''
He insists that people should remain positive, saying: ''The science is loud, clear and simple: we need to halve global emissions of greenhouse gases by 2030. All the solutions exist to do that, and if we implement them then more people will be living in cleaner cities, eating healthy diets and working in resilient, buoyant economies.''
Duncan Geere, who edited the report, adds: ''I totally understand why people might feel powerless in the face of climate change. It feels like anything you do is totally insignificant compared to the scale of the challenge we face. And it's true that political leaders and big businesses bear the bulk of the responsibility.
However, while acknowledging that ''political leaders and big businesses bear the bulk of the responsibility,'' he outlines three things that you can do, as an individual, to help make a change, and to reassert control over your feelings.
''Firstly, make climate change a factor in the decisions you make around what you eat, how you travel, and what you buy. Secondly, talk about climate change with your friends, family and colleagues. Finally, demand that politicians and companies make it easier and cheaper to do the right thing for the climate.''
As marine biologist Tim says: "I'd be lying if they said that there wasn't a lot of time when you think, 'Why do we bother'? But, when you sit down, chat to other scientists and have a bit of a think about it, you realise that there's a huge amount that we can still do. Yes, these places are in trouble. But it's in our power to protect what's left and make a meaningful difference. And that's why we do this. That's why we carry on.''
This article was produced in collaboration with BBC's Our Planet Matters.
If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, information about help and support is available here.
25 for 45
Tom Steyer breaks with Pelosi on impeaching Trump
Thu, 28 Mar 2019 20:33
| March 28, 2019 11:44 AM
Liberal billionaire Tom Steyer has refused to abandon his campaign for President Trump's impeachment even after the special counsel's report found no evidence of collusion between Trump and Russia.
''The Democratic leadership in the Congress has the same goals and values that I do. But we have something that we disagree about, that is about tactics not about values or goals,'' Steyer told ABC News in a podcast Thursday, referencing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's call for Democrats to back off calls for impeachment.
Steyer said the ''Need to Impeach'' movement, which he heads, carry on seeking support for the removal of Trump from the White House.
''This is a movement '... [that] will continue regardless of whether the House leadership is willing to hold hearings, regardless of whether we get the tax returns, regardless of whether the Mueller report ever is available to the American people,'' Steyer said. ''The question in all of this is: does it rise to the level of removing the president of the United States? And my point was that I believe this is the most corrupt president in American history.''
Attorney General William Barr released a summary of special counsel Robert Mueller's findings in the Russian investigation over the weekend, which he said found no members of the Trump camp colluded with the Kremlin in the 2016 elections.
Despite the findings, Steyer said he will continue to work toward impeachment and remain involved politically, a movement he has invested more than $40 million in already.
Steyer was rumored to have been considering running for president in 2020, but in January said that he would not be running and instead would focus on getting Trump removed from office.
Article 13
MEPs "Tricked" Into Voting Wrong Way Over Article 13 - Euro Guido
Fri, 29 Mar 2019 00:11
The EU's internet-killing new Copyright Directive has become mired in a fresh layer of controversy after it emerged that multiple MEPs were ''tricked'' into voting the wrong way on it. Guido understands that an extra vote was inserted into the voting list at the last minute which threw most MEPs' voting lists out of sync. Unlike the Commons where MPs have to physically make the decision to walk through lobbies, MEPs just robotically press buttons according to a long voting list handed out to them. A clear warning of the dangers of electronic voting'...
At least 13 MEPs have told the European Parliament they accidentally voted the wrong way. Now the EU has modified their individual voting records but has refused to revisit the result of the vote, despite the fact there was a majority of just 5 MEPs. The EU also rejected a direct request from MEPs to stage the entire vote again. This blocked MEPs from voting on any amendments, including on the meme-banning Article 13'...
Brexit Party MEP Bill Etheridge tells Guido ''it's appalling, but that's how this place works on a regular basis. It's only come to people's attention this time because it's a high profile issue''. Etheridge says his group's staff were sharp enough to spot the switch but many other groups weren't, he knows several ECR and other MEPs who are ''mortified'' after voting the wrong way on it. Now the internet-killing law has been passed the EU simply doesn't care. ''Democracy'' EU-style'...
Any Collusion?
Attorney General's Special Counsel Regulations
Fri, 29 Mar 2019 08:39
Mr. Chairman, Representative Nadler, and Members of the Committee:
We appreciate your invitation to appear before this committee as it considers the special counsel regulations that were issued by the Attorney General on June 30 to replace procedures which expired with the sunset that day of the Independent Counsel Act.
Earlier this year we participated in a bipartisan project, which was chaired by former Senate Leaders Bob Dole and George Mitchell and assisted by the American Enterprise Institute and The Brookings Institution, to recommend actions that Congress and the Executive Branch might take upon the Act's impending sunset. With release of its public report on May 18, and following Senators Dole's and Mitchell's testimony before this committee on June 11, the project completed its work. In our testimony we will describe for comparative purposes some of the project's recommendations. Beyond that, in light of the project's culmination, the views that we express in this joint statement and in our individual remarks will be our own.
In our statement we will refer to powers and responsibilities of the Attorney General. As the order promulgating the special counsel regulations indicates (64 Fed. Reg. 37038), the authority of the Attorney General under the regulations shall be exercised by the Acting Attorney General, who usually will be the Deputy Attorney General, in any matter in which the Attorney General is ''personally recused.'' That caveat applies to everything that follows.
1.Appointment of Special Counsel
The Attorney General's regulations provide for appointment of special counsel by the Attorney General. Our project's report was in accord, recommending that ''Responsibility and authority to appoint special counsel should be restored to the Attorney General.'' In their testimony here, Senators Dole and Mitchell stated that ''Our study of this matter has convinced us that a fair reading of history warrants entrusting to the Attorney General the responsibility for deciding when a sensitive investigation should be conducted by a special counsel, and also responsibility for selecting that person.'' They noted that ''any of us might disagree from time to time with a decision of an Attorney General about whether a special counsel is needed.'' In that event ''the appropriate remedy is the political process.''
The regulations set forth (28 C.F.R. 600.1) a three-part analysis for determining whether to appoint a special counsel. First, the Attorney General must determine that ''criminal investigation of a person or matter is warranted.'' Then, he or she must determine whether investigation or prosecution of the ''person or matter'' by a U.S. Attorney's Office or a Justice Department litigating division would present either ''a conflict of interest for the Department'' or ''other extraordinary circumstances.'' Finally, a further question is to be asked, namely, whether ''it would be in the public interest to appoint an outside Special Counsel to assume responsibility for the matter.
The appointment provisions of the Independent Counsel Act applied to the investigation of ''persons.'' In 1993, the Senate proposed that the Act permit the Attorney General ''to use the independent counsel process in matters raising conflict of interest concerns, without having to name specific individuals as investigatory targets,'' S. Rep. No. 101, 103d Cong., 1st Sess. 37 (1993), but that amendment was deleted in conference. The new regulation, as the Senate had proposed in 1993, authorizes the appointment of special counsel for a ''matter'' without requiring the naming of a person.
A central feature of the Independent Counsel Act was a list of mandatorily covered persons. The Attorney General's regulations eschew that approach. Our project's report similarly preferred a discretionary test to a mandatory list. It also expressed the view that history is a teacher here as elsewhere, noting that ''[b]enchmarks for appointment of special counsel in cases of political conflicts of interest have emerged through experience. The need to appoint special counsel will be greatest when serious allegations are made concerning the President or Attorney General, although allegations against others personally or politically close to either may also merit an appointment in unusual circumstances.''
The regulations eliminate the detailed time and other constraints which the Act imposed on the Attorney General's screening of allegations. Nevertheless, the Attorney General's order prudently states that immediate appointment of a special counsel at times may be warranted. ''There are occasions,'' it comments (64 Fed. Reg. 37038), ''when the facts create a conflict so substantial, or the exigencies of the situation are such that any initial investigation might taint the subsequent investigation, so that it is appropriate for the Attorney General to immediately appoint a Special Counsel.''
Our project report similarly recommended that there ''be no fixed limitation on either the investigatory tools or time the Attorney General may use to evaluate allegations and make conflicts decisions.'' It also supported the caution evidenced in the Attorney General's order, stating that ''as with conflict issues generally, the Attorney General should decide as expeditiously as possible if special counsel should be appointed. There is also good reason for the Attorney General to be mindful of not using investigatory tools that would impede any investigation a special counsel might conduct.''
2.Jurisdiction and Budget
The project report noted, as others have done, that ''[t]wo vexing problems under the Independent Counsel Act have been the tendency of some investigations to sprawl beyond the reason for their initiation and to do so without the discipline of limits on the public resources they consume.''
Jurisdiction will be established by the Attorney General, whose regulations provide for grants of ''original'' and ''additional'' jurisdiction for special counsel. The order explains (64 Fed. Reg. 37039) that the regulations establish ''a protocol whereby Special Counsels are provided with an appropriate description of the boundaries of their investigation, with the full recognition that adjustments to that jurisdiction may be required.''
Original jurisdiction (section 600.4(a)) will have several parts. For the main part, the substance of the jurisdiction will be described by ''a specific factual statement of the matter to be investigated.'' Another part enables special counsel to respond to interference with their investigations, by providing ''authority to investigate and prosecute federal crimes committed in the course of, and with the intent to interfere with, the Special Counsel's investigation, such as perjury, obstruction of justice, destruction of evidence, and intimidation of witnesses.''
The Attorney General has full control over the assignment to a special counsel of additional jurisdiction (section 600.4(b)) that is ''necessary in order to fully investigate and resolve the matters assigned, or to investigate new matters that come to light'' during a special counsel's investigation. A special counsel is to consult with the Attorney General, who will then ''determine whether to include the additional matters within the Special Counsel's jurisdiction or assign them elsewhere.''
Our project report supported issuance of a regulation that ''returns to the Attorney General the responsibility for defining the special counsel's jurisdiction.'' One way to achieve that was to eliminate, as the Attorney General's regulations have done, an ambiguous grant of jurisdiction to investigate ''related matters.'' Our report also stressed that jurisdiction not be ''so pinched that it fails to address the investigatory need that warranted, in light of a conflict of interest, a special appointment.''
Our report also supported establishment by the Attorney General of a budget that would serve as a ''major parameter'' for a special counsel's investigation. The Attorney General's regulations state (section 600.8(a)) that the Justice Department, on an annual basis, shall provide counsel with ''all appropriate resources.'' Our report also emphasized the importance of balance. It noted that ''[l]imitations on resources can serve the salutary end of requiring special counsel to judge what is important and what is less so.'' But citing the Watergate regulation, our report also stressed ''the importance of assuring that inquiries into the conduct of high officials receive the resources that they merit.''
3.The Extent of Independence of Special Counsel
In describing the background of the regulations (64 Fed. Reg. 37038), the Attorney General's order states that ''[t]hese regulations seek to strike a balance between independence and accountability in certain sensitive investigations, recognizing that there is no perfect solution to the problem.'' The background statement highlights the regulations' major theme. ''[A] large degree of responsibility'' will be removed from the Department of Justice. Special Counsel will have ''day-to-day independence.'' Each will ''be free to structure the investigation as he or she wishes and to exercise independent prosecutorial discretion to decide whether charges should be brought.'' But each is to do so ''within the context of the established procedures of the Department.'' Of central importance, ''ultimate authority for the matter and how it is handled will continue to rest with the Attorney General.'' For that reason, ''the regulations explicitly acknowledge the possibility of review of specific decisions reached by the Special Counsel.''
To implement this, the regulations first designate a place for special counsel in the Department's hierarchy, granting them (section 600.6) ''the full power and independent authority to exercise all investigative and prosecutorial functions of any United States Attorney.'' Each U.S. Attorney, according to the Department's U.S. Attorneys' Manual (9-2.001), ''has plenary authority with regard to federal criminal matters.'' Each ''is invested by statute and delegation from the Attorney General with the broadest discretion in the exercise of such authority.'' Each may use grand juries ''to investigate alleged or suspected violations of federal law (9-2.010). Their powers include (9-2.001 (B)-(H)) ''declining'' or ''authorizing prosecution,'' ''determining the manner of prosecuting and deciding trial related questions,'' and ''recommending whether to appeal or not to appeal from an adverse ruling.''
The regulations state (section 600.6): ''Except as provided in this part, the Special Counsel shall determine whether and to what extent to inform or consult with the Attorney General or others within the Department about the conduct of his or her duties and responsibilities.'' Two parts of the Manual are key to understanding the exceptions to this rule. One is section 9-2.400 which collects in chart form specific circumstances, chiefly decisions about particular substantive issues or investigative techniques, in which U.S. Attorneys must obtain prior approval from officials at Main Justice. The other is sections 3-18.200 through .230, which require U.S. Attorneys, among others, to provide advance notice through ''Urgent Reports'' to high Main Justice officials on events in ''sensitive'' cases.
The regulations require (section 600.7(a)) that ''Special Counsel shall comply with the rules, regulations, procedures, practices and policies of the Department of Justice.'' One element of that obligation is consultation with various offices within the Department ''for guidance.'' ''Review and approval'' requirements go beyond simple guidance, requiring (64 Fed. Reg. 37039) as the words indicate, ''review and approval before the step can be taken.'' The order states (id.) that these procedures ''are the way in which the Department typically addresses the most sensitive legal and policy issues facing its prosecutors.''
Most review and approval requirements in the Manual's lengthy ''Prior Approvals Chart'' (9-2.400) will have no bearing on special counsel investigations, as they deal with subjects such as the death penalty or terrorism. Several may be highly significant, including the one specifically identified in the discussion (64 Fed. Reg. 37039) accompanying section 600.7, namely, control by the Solicitor General over appeals. This embraces not only the S.G.'s control over the Government's Supreme Court litigation, but control over its opportunity to obtain first-level review in the courts of appeals.
Other review and approval provisions, that based on prior experience in Watergate or under the Independent Counsel Act may have an impact on special counsel investigations, involve such subjects as subpoenas in the United States for documents located abroad (9-13.525), applications for immunity orders (9-23.130), and prosecutions for perjury before Congress (9-69.200). The last of these is likely to have special inter-branch importance. A recurring feature of independent counsel investigations has been possible perjury by Executive Branch witnesses in congressional testimony about the subject of a criminal investigation.
Review and approval requirements have grown out of longstanding Justice Department concerns with particular substantive or procedural issues in the administration of federal criminal law. The broader requirement that U.S. Attorneys (and now special counsel) submit ''Urgent Reports'' responds to less well-defined interests that may be affected by an investigation or prosecution. Some may be of national importance, e.g., 3-18.200(D)(4), ''involvement of some aspect of foreign relations.'' Others have a domestic political element, e.g., 3-18.200(D)(5)), a ''high likelihood of coverage in news media, or Congressional interest.''
The rule making order states (64 Fed. Reg. 37040) that the circumstances in which special counsel must notify the Attorney General ''are defined using the same standard as that governing United States Attorneys, who are required to notify the Attorney General or other Department officials before seeking an indictment in sensitive cases and at other significant investigative steps. A Special Counsel will be dealing with issues that are sensitive, with many possible repercussions, and experience has shown that such prosecutions are often as sensitive legally as they are politically.''
Under the Manual's criteria (3-18.200(D) and 3-18.230), it is hard to imagine a special counsel investigation that does not meet the standard of ''sensitivity.'' A ''[h]igh likelihood of coverage in news media, or Congressional interest'' (3-18.200(D)(5)) is sufficient. ''Any serious challenge to Presidential authority'' (3-18.200(D)(6)) is on the list, which might embrace subpoenas for presidential documents or testimony and a dispute over executive privilege. So are ''[a]llegations of improper conduct by the Department or specific Department employee, a public official, or a public figure; including criticism by a member of Congress, a court, or other senior government officials of the Department's handling of a particular matter'' (3-18.230(B)).
With respect to the scope of ''significant investigative steps,'' reports are required upon the initiation of investigations of ''public figures or entities'' (3-18.220). Reports ''before contacting the public figure'' are required for ''an interview, grand jury appearance or trial appearance'' not only of members of Congress, judges, or high Executive officials, but also of any ''other nationally prominent public figure'' (3-18.220(B)).
Communications about major developments should be made ''as soon as possible, and where the development can be controlled, at least one week in advance'' (3-18.200(B)). But it should also be noted that for interviews and grand jury or trial appearances, ''[t]his notification procedure shall not interrupt, alter or delay the normal conduct and pursuit of any investigation'' (3-18.220(A)).
Section 600.7(a) of the regulations provide, ''Should the Special Counsel conclude that the extraordinary circumstances of any particular decision would render compliance with required review and approval procedures by the designated Departmental component inappropriate, he or she may consult directly with the Attorney General.'' The regulation thus both enables a special counsel to alter the recipient of the communication, by making it the Attorney General rather than another ''designated Departmental component,'' and additionally to change the process, by making it a consultation rather than a submission for approval.
A special counsel's obligation to report ''significant events'' also goes directly to the Attorney General. While Urgent Reports from U.S. Attorneys may go to ''the Attorney General or other Department officials'' (64 Fed. Reg. 37040), the regulation (section 600.8(b)) is precise in stating that ''Special Counsel shall notify the Attorney General.''
The central question, then, is what the Attorney General may do after consulting with a special counsel who elects to bypass a review and approval requirement, or in response to an Urgent Report from a special counsel about any other significant event. First, under section 600.7(b), ''the Attorney General may request that the Special Counsel provide an explanation for any investigative or prosecutorial step.'' The Attorney General is to ''review'' the explanation, and ''give great weight to the views of the Special Counsel.''
Additionally, the regulation names only one ground on which the Attorney General may reject the special counsel's action, namely (under section 600.7(b)), that it is ''so inappropriate or unwarranted under established Departmental practices that it should not be pursued.'' This appears to limit the Attorney General's power under the regulation to conclusions about inappropriateness under ''established Departmental practices,'' rather than, for example, allowing it to turn on different good faith judgments that prosecutors might have about the proper analysis of facts or law.
At the conclusion of a special counsel's investigation, section 600.9(a)(3) requires the Attorney General to provide to the chairs and ranking minority members of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees, ''to the extent consistent with applicable law, a description and explanation of instances (if any)'' in which the Attorney General overruled a proposed action by a special counsel. The purpose of this report, and also reports on the appointment or removal of special counsel, is ''to help ensure congressional and public confidence in the integrity of the process.'' 64 Fed. Reg. 37041.
Our project recommended a fuller grant of independence to special counsel, noting that ''[t]he bedrock provision of the Watergate regulation was the pledge of independence to the special prosecutor.'' That regulation granted the special prosecutor ''full authority'' to carry out a complete range of investigative and prosecutorial actions, including grand jury and charging decisions, decisions to contest assertions of executive privilege, and the handling of all aspects of trials and appeals. Importantly, it further pledged that ''[t]he Attorney General will not countermand or interfere with the Special Prosecutor's decisions or actions.'' We endorsed that basic principle of the Watergate regulation because ''[i]ndependence is indispensable to resolving the conflict of interest that underlies the appointment of special counsel.''
4.Removal of Special Counsel and Termination of Investigations
Section 600.7 has two provisions on redressing misconduct by special counsel. Section 600.7(c) addresses substantive and procedural issues regarding discipline. First, substantively, regarding the norms of conduct, ''Special Counsel and staff shall be subject to disciplinary action for misconduct and breach of ethical duties under the same standards and to the same extent as are other employees of the Department of Justice.'' ''Inquiries'' into disciplinary matters shall be handled by ''the appropriate offices of the Department,'' with the caveat that those inquiries be ''upon the approval of the Attorney General.''
Although the Attorney General may use other offices of the Department to make ''inquiries,'' under section 600.7(d) final action requires the ''personal action'' of the Attorney General. Grounds for removal are limited to ''misconduct, dereliction of duty, incapacity, conflict of interest, or for other good cause, including violation of Departmental policies.''
Our report is in accord, recommending that the Attorney General's regulation provide that a special counsel may be removed from office ''only by the personal action of the Attorney General and only for good cause,'' or physical or mental impairments. It explained that ''[i]n addition to the affirmative grant of independence, the other critical hallmark of independence, indeed the guardian of it, is the freedom from removal, absent good cause.''
In one important respect, the Attorney General's regulation elaborates on examples of good cause, by ''including violation of Departmental policies.'' This is an idea that earlier had attracted support in Congress. The Senate had proposed adding to the 1994 reauthorization of the Independent Counsel Act a provision that ''good cause for removal would include an independent counsel's failure to follow written Justice Department guidelines and violation of applicable canons of ethics.'' Although the conference committee did not accept the provision, it wrote that those grounds ''do provide potential grounds for removing an independent counsel from office.'' H.R. Conf. Rep. No. 103-511, at 22.
The new regulations must be read as a whole. The requirement that special counsel submit matters for review and approval or consult with the Attorney General, and the requirement for Urgent Reports that may result in the Attorney General countermanding a special counsel's proposed actions, are policies and procedures that can be enforced through good cause removal. Consequently, the regulations' broadening of the Attorney General's authority over investigative and prosecutorial actions of special counsel has the effect of broadening the potential cause for which the Attorney General may remove a special counsel.
In our project report, we recommended that the Attorney General's regulations should provide the Attorney General with authority to review periodically whether a special counsel's investigation should continue. The report observed that the Act had ''not constrained the length of investigations.'' It recommended that two years after appointment of a special counsel, and at the end of succeeding one-year periods, the Attorney General should have the opportunity to terminate an investigation. The report suggested that, in contrast to removal of a special counsel at any time for good cause, the regulation not constrain the reasons for these periodic judgments by an Attorney General. It stated that it was fair to expect ''that the Attorney General would be guided by the principles that governed the initial appointment, namely, whether or not a conflict remains and the public interest is served by continuation of the Office of Special Counsel.''
The new regulation provides (section 600.8(a)(2)), following a special counsel's annual budget request and report on the status of the investigation, that ''[t]he Attorney General shall determine whether the investigation should continue and, if so, establish the budget for the next year.'' The rule making order explains (64 Fed. Reg. 37040) that the counsel's annual report ''will help to ensure that a Special Counsel investigation does not continue indefinitely; it will be reviewed at least annually to determine whether the investigation should continue, or whether it has reached a point where it should be closed or where responsibility for the matter can be returned to the normal processes of the Department.''
Fixing a time period in law or regulations inevitably involves a degree of arbitrariness. Other lengths of time might be equally acceptable. We had recommended that two years (rather than one, as in the Attorney General's regulations) be allowed before the Attorney General's first periodic review. It may take some months before a special counsel begins to actively present a matter to a grand jury, and a special gand jury would have a life of 18 months. In formulating the project's recommendation, it seemed that a first periodic review after only a year would be early.
The Attorney General's regulations provide for reports from a special counsel to the Attorney General, and for reports from the Attorney General to Congress. For the former, there are to be annual (section 600.8(a)(2)) and closing (section 600.8(c)) reports by special counsel to the Attorney General. For the latter, there are to be reports from the Attorney General to the chairs and ranking minority members of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees (section 600.9) on appointment of special counsel, on the removal of special counsel, and on the conclusion of a special counsel's investigation.
With regard to the annual reports from special counsel to the Attorney General, the regulation (section 600.8(a)(2)) provides that after the Attorney General receives the counsel's report on ''the status of the investigation'' together with a budget request for the coming year, ''[t]he Attorney General shall determine whether the investigation should continue and, if so, establish the budget for the next year.'' The rule making order (at 64 Fed. Reg. 37040) stresses that ''this annual report is intended to be only a status report'' and ''will not serve as a vehicle for ongoing supervision.''
At the end of a special counsel's investigation, section 600.8(c) of the regulation provides that a special counsel ''shall provide the Attorney General with a confidential report explaining the prosecution or declination decisions reached by the Special Counsel.'' The special counsel's obligation to file ''a summary final report'' is ''limited.'' The counsel's report is to be ''handled as a confidential document as are internal documents relating to any federal criminal investigation.'' 64 Fed. Reg. 37041.
The rule making order notes (64 Fed. Reg. 37040-41) the concerns about final reports under the Act, both with respect to the incentive they had created to ''over-investigate'' a matter and the fact that they could ''do harm to legitimate privacy interests'' if it became public. But the order also states (64 Fed. Reg. 37041) that ''it is appropriate for any federal official to provide a written record upon completion of an assignment, both for historical purposes and to enhance accountability'--particularly a federal official who has functioned with substantial independence and little supervision.'' It observed (id.) that a concluding report from special counsel would not be unique: ''In major cases, federal prosecutors commonly document their decisions not to pursue a case, explaining the factual and legal reasons for the conclusions they have reached.''
As for ''notifications and reports'' (section 600.9) from the Attorney General to Congress, the order states (64 Fed. Reg. 37041) that the required reports would be ''brief notifications, with an outline of the actions and the reasons for them.'' As noted earlier, the Attorney General's report at the conclusion of a special counsel's investigation is to include (section 600.9(a)(3)) ''a description and explanation'' of any times in which the Attorney General countermanded a proposed action by a special counsel because it was ''so inappropriate or unwarranted under established Departmental practices that it should not be pursued.''
Apart from that specific element of the Attorney General's report at the end of an investigation, it is not altogether clear what that final report will contain. The discussion under section 600.8(c), on a special counsel's closing report to the Attorney General, suggests (64 Fed. Reg. 37041) that consideration will be given to ''[t]he interests of the public in being informed of and understanding the reasons for the actions of the Special Counsel.'' As stated in the discussion under section 600.9(c) (at 64 Fed. Reg. 37041), another objective that may shape the content of the Attorney General's report at the end of an investigation is the goal of helping to ''ensure congressional and public confidence in the integrity of the process.''
The regulation cannot govern, of course, whether the Judiciary Committees will release the reports from the Attorney General to them. As for the Attorney General's own release of a report, the regulation provides (section 600.9(c)) that ''[t]he Attorney General may determine that public release of these reports would be in the public interest, to the extent that release would comply with applicable legal restrictions.'' Presumably, the major but not exclusive constraint on public release would be the restriction in Rule 6(e) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure on release of grand jury information. Under section 600.9(c) of the regulations, the special counsel is not authorized to release information apart from ''generally applicable Departmental guidelines concerning public comment with respect to any criminal investigation, and relevant law.''
The project report similarly sought to curtail the breadth of reporting that occurred under the Act. Nevertheless, reporting is an instrument of accountability, and we recommended that special counsel be directed to submit annual reports to the Attorney General ''on the progress of any investigation or prosecution conducted by the Special Counsel.'' These annual reports should provide sufficient information for budgetary decisions and to enable the Attorney General to make a periodic decision whether to terminate an investigation. Concerning a final report, we recommended that it be simply one ''which describes the work of the Special Counsel, including the disposition of all cases brought.''
As for reports from the Attorney General to Congress, our report recommended (as the regulations provide) that the Attorney General submit a report explaining his or her removal of a special counsel or termination of an investigation. In the Attorney General's regulation, the latter would be included in the required report ''[u]pon conclusion of the Special Counsel's investigation.'' Our project's recommendation would leave to the Attorney General the power to determine whether to release to Congress or the public all or parts of a special counsel's fiscal, annual, or final reports. In doing so, however, our report recognized that ''Congressional oversight is, of course, a central element of accountability. The Attorney General's duty, on behalf of the Executive Branch, to be responsive to Congress on matters within the latter's responsibility should be sufficient assurance that information will be appropriately shared.''
The Attorney General's regulations are silent about reporting on impeachment matters. The project report specifically recommended that the provision in the Independent Counsel Act on impeachment reports to the House not be carried forward. At the same time, we made clear that ''nothing in [the project's proposed regulation] prevents Congress from obtaining information during an impeachment proceeding.''
This concludes our prepared statement. We are prepared to respond to the committee's questions and elaborate on our joint or individual views about issues that may be presented by the Attorney General's regulations.
Maddow, other MSNBC hosts see ratings drop, Fox up
Fri, 29 Mar 2019 08:46
NEW YORK (AP) '-- Rachel Maddow isn't backing away from her coverage of President Donald Trump and any connection to Russia's involvement in trying to influence the 2016 presidential campaign. The question is how much her fans want to listen.
Maddow's audience has dipped on her two days back on the air since Attorney General William Barr reported that special counsel Robert Mueller had found no collusion between Trump and Russia's efforts. Her audience of 2.5 million on Monday was 19 percent below her average this year, and it went down further to 2.3 million on Tuesday, the Nielsen company said.
Meanwhile, her head-to-head competitor on Fox News Channel, Sean Hannity, saw his audience soar on Monday to 4 million viewers, a 32 percent increase from his average. It slipped to 3.57 million on Tuesday. One of Trump's most prominent media fans, Hannity was to interview the president on Wednesday's show.
Hannity and Maddow have run neck-and-neck atop the cable news ratings this year, with Maddow having the slight edge.
Fox's Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham also saw their audiences top their averages both days, while other prime-time hosts on MSNBC and CNN saw their audiences plunge.
The phenomenon isn't unusual; political camps are more interested in watching news when it reflects well on their favorites, and vice versa. Maddow's ratings dropped sharply in the immediate aftermath of the 2016 election, as many fans of Hillary Clinton couldn't bring themselves to watch the news after Trump's victory, but eventually rebounded. Similarly, Hannity saw some ratings weakness late last year as bad news piled up for Trump.
Maddow has been the most visible television personality taking on Trump during Mueller's probe, her reports methodical and detailed. As a result, she's a target of Trump supporters seeking vindication. The New York Post compiled a mock ''Mueller Madness'' bracket of Trump critics with Maddow the top-seeded cable news figure, and the chart was retweeted Wednesday by White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders.
Maddow devoted virtually all of Monday's show to what she's calling the ''Barr Report,'' listing a series of questions she wanted to pose. About half of Tuesday's show was on the investigation.
She hasn't engaged her critics, but fellow MSNBC personality Joe Scarborough took them on in an angry monologue on Wednesday.
He wondered aloud what journalists were supposed to do for the past two years as stories piled up about Trump and associates misleading Americans about contacts to Russians. He said he wasn't just unhappy about political critics, but also some in the media who are ''hand-wringing'' about the amount of coverage.
He criticized unnamed people who had ''sold their soul to a personality cult.''
And he promised that MSNBC wouldn't abandon the story.
''We're not going to divert our eyes,'' he said. ''Damn the torpedoes. Full steam ahead. Follow the story where it leads us.''
Paul Singer (businessman) - Wikipedia
Sat, 30 Mar 2019 16:38
Paul Elliott Singer (born August 22, 1944) is an American billionaire hedge fund manager, activist, investor, vulture capitalist, and philanthropist.[2][3][4][5] His hedge fund, Elliott Management Corporation (EMC)'--specializes in distressed debt acquisitions.[6]: 301 [7] Singer is also the founder and CEO of NML Capital Limited, a Cayman Islands-based offshore unit of Elliott Management Corporation.[8] In 2017, Forbes rated Singer's net worth as $2.9 billion.[9]
Singer's philanthropic activities include financial support for LGBTQ rights.[10][11][12] He has provided funding to the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research,[13] is a strong opponent of raising taxes for the wealthiest 1% of taxpayers and opposes aspects of the Dodd-Frank Act.[13] Singer is active in Republican Party politics and collectively, Singer and others affiliated with Elliott Management are "the top source of contributions" to the National Republican Senatorial Committee.[14]
Fortune magazine described him as one of the "smartest and toughest money managers" in the hedge fund industry.[13] A number of sources have branded him a "vulture capitalist", largely on account of his role at EMC, which has been called a vulture fund.[4][15][16][17]The Independent has described him as "a pioneer in the business of buying up sovereign bonds on the cheap, and then going after countries for unpaid debts."[8] In 1996, Singer began using the strategy of purchasing sovereign debt from nations in or near default'--such as Argentina,[13][18][19][20] and Peru[8][21][22]'--through his NML Capital Limited[8] and Congo-Brazzaville through Kensington International Inc.[17] Singer's practice of purchasing distressed debt from companies and sovereign states and pursuing full payment through the courts has led to criticism.[20][23] Singer and EMC defend their model[4] as "a fight against charlatans who refuse to play by the market's rules",[18] and supporters of the practice have said it "help[s] keep kleptocratic governments in check."[24]
Education and early career Edit Singer was born in 1944, and grew up in Teaneck, New Jersey in a Jewish family,[25][26][27] one of three children of a Manhattan pharmacist and a homemaker.[13] He obtained his B.S. in psychology from the University of Rochester in 1966[28] and a J.D. from Harvard Law School in 1969.[13][29] In 1974, Singer went to work as an attorney in the real estate division of the investment bank Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette.[13][29]
Career Edit Elliott Management Edit In 1977, with a convertible arbitrage "winning formula," Singer left law to create his own investment company. He founded the hedge fund Elliott Associates L.P. with US$1.3 million in seed capital from various friends and family members.[11][13] According to The Telegraph in 2011, Elliott is "one of the oldest hedge funds on Wall Street."[30] Singer is also the founder and CEO of NML Capital Limited, a Cayman Islands-based offshore unit of Elliott Management Corporation.[8]
According to Fortune, Elliott has been involved "in most of the big post-crash restructurings."[13] In 2009, The Guardian reported that Singer "through a brilliantly complex financial manoeuvre, took control of Delphi Automotive, the sole supplier of most of the auto parts needed by General Motors and Chrysler." Ultimately, the US Treasury paid Elliott Management "$12.9 billion in cash and subsidies from the US Treasury's auto bailout fund."[31] In December 2011, Elliott Associates sued Vietnam's state-owned shipbuilder Vinashin in the UK for defaulting the year before on a US$600 million syndicated loan.[32]
As of February 2014, Elliott controlled $23bn (£19bn) of funds and was the ninth largest investor on Wall Street.[33]
In June 2015, EMC was an active activist investor with Citrix Systems, pushing for various changes.[34] In May 2014, the French Financial Markets Regulator fined Elliott a record '‚¬14 million ($22 million) for insider trading, a ruling which the company appealed.[35] In a long-standing dispute between Singer and members of the Lee family over a merger between Samsung and Cheil Industries, in 2015 Samsung published numerous cartoons of Singer as an anthropomorphic vulture on its corporate website. The cartoons were denounced by Singer and others as antisemitic.[25] Samsung responded several days later denouncing antisemitism,[25] and pulled the images from their website.[36]
Forbes rated Singer's net worth as $2.1 billion in 2015,[4][15][25][37] and $2.2 billion in 2016.[9]Elliott Management Corporation as of November 2015 oversees Elliott Associates and Elliott International Limited, which together have more than $27 billion in assets under management in a "multi-strategy fund."[11][37] The corporation includes a private equity division.[38] Termed a "specialist in activism in technology companies" by the Wall Street Journal in June 2015,[34] Elliott Management's varied portfolio also includes a prominent tech component.[38] The company pursued "more than 40 campaigns aimed at tech companies" between 2004 and 2015, according to Reuters.[38] in 2018, Elliott Management took control of Italian football club A.C. Milan.[39]
Sovereign debt Edit In 1996, Elliott bought defaulted Peruvian debt for $11.4 million.[22] Elliott won a $58 million judgment[18] and Peru had to repay the sum in full under the pari passu rule.[21] When former president of Peru Alberto Fujimori was attempting to flee the country due to human rights abuses and corruption, Singer confiscated his jet and offered to let him leave the country in exchange for the $58 million payment from the treasury. Fujimori accepted.[19][40][32] In the 1990s, the Kensington International division of EMC purchased US$30 million (£18m) of "Congolese sovereign debt... allegedly for less than $20m." Kensington subsequently spent years trying to be paid in full through the courts.[16] In 2008, Kensington and the Republic of Congo settled for an undisclosed amount.[32]
After Argentina defaulted on its debt in 2002, the Elliott-owned company NML Capital Limited refused to accept the Argentine offer to pay less than 30 cents per dollar of debt.[13] Elliott sued Argentina for the debt's value,[41] and the lower UK courts found that Argentina had state immunity. Elliott successfully appealed the case to the UK Supreme Court, which ruled that Elliott had the right to attempt to seize Argentine property in the United Kingdom, and on October 2, 2012, Singer arranged for a Ghanaian Court order to detain an Argentine naval vessel in a Ghanaian port in an effort to force Argentina to pay the debt, but was rebuffed when the seizure was barred by the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea.[42][43][44][45][46][47] In February 2013, the U.S. appeals court heard Argentina's appeal in the case of its default and debt to NML.[48] In March 2013, Argentina offered a new plan,[49] which was dismissed first by the lower courts and then the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit on August 23, 2013, and then again in June 2014 in the U.S. Supreme Court.[50][51] In March 2014, NML Capital unsuccessfully attempted to satisfy court awards by suing SpaceX, seeking the rights to two satellite-launch contracts bought by Argentina valued at $113 million.[18]: 2 [52][53][54][55] In early 2016, US courts ruled that Argentina must make full payments to holdout bondholders by February 29.[56] In February 2016 Argentina reached an agreement with Singer.[57][58][59][60][61]
Business and investment model Edit According to Fortune, Singer focused from early times "on distressed assets," buying up bankrupt firms' debt and acquiring "a reputation for strong-arming his way to profit."[13]Fortune noted in 2012 that losses sustained early in Singer's career led to a "risk aversion that still guides his investing today. Thanks to his caution, by 2012 Elliott had "only two down years" since 1977, rising "4.2% in 2011, a year in which most hedge funds lost money."[13] Describing him as "one of the smartest and toughest money managers in the business", the article further notes that his firm "is so influential that fear of its tactics helped shape the current 2012 Greek debt restructuring."[13]
Elliott was termed by The Independent as "a pioneer in the business of buying up sovereign bonds on the cheap, and then going after countries for unpaid debts."[8] Singer describes his business model as "a fight against charlatans who refuse to play by the market's rules,"[18] and in 2013, Singer told Alpha Magazine that "we've made the point over and over again that sovereigns that could pay their debts and choose not to may be attempting to save some money but are harming their people and their economies by making investing in their countries more risky and more problematic and by discouraging foreign investment."[4] In response, The Washington Post wrote in 2014 that "in Singer's view, he isn't just forcing indebted companies and countries to pay up. He's trying to create a world where distressed debt doesn't exist. Depending on your own views, that makes Singer an activist investor, or a 'vulture capitalist.'"[4]
Philanthropy Edit Singer signed The Giving Pledge, which signals a commitment by individuals to donate more than half of their wealth within their lifetime to address society's "most difficult moral and economic challenges."[10]
He also founded the Paul E. Singer Family Foundation, which supports charitable causes including the Harvard Graduate School of Education Singer Prize for Excellence in Secondary Teaching,[62]VH1 Save The Music Foundation,[63] the Food Bank For New York City, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund, the American Unity Fund, the New York City Police Foundation[64][65] and MarineParents.com.[14][66] Singer and The Paul E. Singer Family Foundation are behind The Philos Project, a pro-Israel Christian organization.[67] In 2016, Singer partnered with the Museum of the Bible to fund Passages Israel, a program to take college students to Israel.[68] He is a "longtime supporter of hawkish pro-Israel causes" and a major funder for the conservative think tank Foundation for Defense of Democracies.[69] In November 2018, after the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting, the Paul E. Singer Family Foundation announced it would donate $1 million to upgrade security at Jewish institutions in New York. The funds will be gifted to the United Jewish Appeal '' Federation of New York, which will then distribute the money as needed to individual synagogues, day schools, and community centers to cover safety reviews and enhanced precautions.[70]
He also serves on the Board of Fellows of Harvard Medical School and the board of directors of Commentary Magazine.[71][72]
Political activity Edit Singer is an active participant in Republican Party politics.[73] According to The New York Times, he supports "like-minded candidates who often share his distaste for what they view as governmental over-meddling in the financial industry."[74] Singer has contributed more than $1 million to the political efforts of the Koch brothers.[75][76] In 2014, Singer led a group of major Republican donors to form the American Opportunity Alliance, a group that brings together wealthy Republican donors who share Singer's support for LGBTQ rights, immigration reform and Israel.[77] During the 2016 Presidential election campaign Singer supported Marco Rubio and donated a million dollars in March to the Our Principles PAC, a PAC attempting to derail Donald Trump's election campaign.[78][79][80][81] He also started the American Unity PA.[82] He supported Trump's inaugural committee with $1 million together with 25 other billionaires.[83]
Singer was a major contributor to George W. Bush's presidential campaigns.[11][84] On March 14, 2008, Singer hosted a Republican National Committee luncheon in his home for 70 guests that raised $1.4 million for Bush.[85][86][87] Bush appointed Singer to serve on the Honorary Delegation to accompany him to Jerusalem for the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the State of Israel in May 2008.[88]
In 2007, Singer was one of Rudolph Giuliani's most important fundraisers in Giuliani's bid for the Republican presidential nomination.[11][89] In 2007, Singer led a financial industry fund-raising effort for Giuliani, first as regional finance chair and later as senior policy adviser.[90][91] Singer lent Giuliani his private jet.[91][92] That same year, Singer at $175,000 was the sole contributor to a campaign to support a petition drive for a proposed California initiative to apportion the state's 55 electoral votes by congressional district. At least 19 of the state's 53 congressional districts were expected to vote for a GOP presidential candidate, enough to change the national results in a close election.[89][93]
Singer was one of the largest donors of the 2010 midterm election cycle, contributing more than $4 million to support Republican candidates.[86]
In 2011, Singer donated $1 million to Restore Our Future, a Super PAC created to support Mitt Romney in the 2012 U.S. Presidential election.[94] In 2013, Singer gave $100,000 to the Club for Growth, a 501(c)4 organization that supports Tea Party candidates.[95] He has also donated millions of dollars to organizations that advocate for a strong military and for supporting Israel.[96][97][98]
Singer is a member of the Committee on Capital Markets Regulation, a non-governmental, nonpartisan research organization.[99] He is chairman of the board of trustees for the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, a conservative think tank in New York City,[100] and on the board of directors of the Republican Jewish Coalition, a political lobbying group in the United States that promotes Jewish Republicans.[63] He also served on the board of directors for the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs.[101]
In 2016, Singer invested $500,000 in a PAC supporting John Faso, a Congressional candidate in New York's 19th congressional district opposing progressive candidate and Wall Street critic Zephyr Teachout. Teachout responded to the donation by challenging Singer to come to the district and debate her.[102]
LGBTQ rights Edit As well as contributing to private initiatives, Singer also actively seeks to persuade other Republicans to support gay marriage.[11][103] He has joined other Wall Street executives in support of LGBT equality and stated that same-sex marriage promotes "family stability" and that in a time when "the institution of marriage in America has utterly collapsed," the fact that gay couples want to marry "is kind of a lovely thing and a cool thing and a wonderful thing."[104][105]
Singer, whose son Andrew married his husband Corey Morris in a same-sex marriage in Massachusetts in 2009, has also financially supported the legalization of gay marriage in New York[106] and Maryland.[107] In 2011, this advocacy included supporting legislation allowing same-sex marriage in the state of New York.[108]
In 2012, Singer provided $1 million to start a Political Action Committee named American Unity PAC. According to the New York Times, the PAC's "sole mission will be to encourage Republican candidates to support same-sex marriage, in part by helping them to feel financially shielded from any blowback from well-funded groups that oppose it."[109] In 2014, Singer urged Republicans to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. This bill requires workplace protections to extend to the LGBT community.[110] As of June 2014, Singer had donated an estimated $10 million to the gay rights movement.[11]
In 2015, Singer, Tim Gill and Daniel Loeb helped fund Freedom For All Americans to promote LGBT issues in states and local communities in the United States.[111][non-primary source needed ]
The Washington Free Beacon Edit According to an October 27, 2017, article in the New York Times and many other media outlets, the initial sponsor of anti-Trump opposition research conducted by the controversial Washington D.C. firm Fusion GPS was The Washington Free Beacon, a conservative political journalism website that is "funded in large part" by Singer.[112]
Writings and commentary Edit Singer has written columns in the Wall Street Journal.[71] In 2009, he wrote a piece titled "Free-Marketeers Should Welcome Some Regulation," in which he argued that "It's true that monetary policy was too lax for too long, and the government encouraged lending to people who were unlikely to repay their loans. But this crisis was primarily caused by managements and individuals throughout the financial system who exercised extremely poor judgement. The private sector, not the public sector, is where the biggest mistakes were made."[113] Among other topics, he has written against raising taxes for the wealthiest taxpayers ("the 1%") and aspects of the Dodd-Frank Act.[13]
At a September 2006 financial conference in New York City, Singer delivered a speech called "Complexity Made Simple," advising that the purchase of collateralized debt obligations (CDOs) was a serious mistake, and anticipating the downturn of the housing market by nearly a year before the $770 billion taxpayer-funded bailout.[29]
Hedge fund manager Jim Chanos said in an August 2009 radio interview that he and Singer had met with G7 finance ministers in 2007 to warn them that the global financial system was increasingly unstable and approaching a catastrophe, with banks on the verge of sinking the global economy. The pair argued that decisive action was called for, but Chanos claims they were met with indifference.[114]
Personal life Edit In 2015, Singer was 327th on the Forbes 400 list of richest Americans, 1006th among the world's billionaires, 350th of American billionaires, and the 16th highest earning hedge fund manager.[25][37] Singer has been divorced since 1996. He has two sons, Andrew and Gordon.[115] He lives on New York City's Upper West Side and has a house in Aspen, Colorado.[13]
Singer began studying classical piano at the age of 10, and forms part of a family band, together with "one of his sons on guitar, the other on drums", and "his son-in-law on saxophone." He enjoys Led Zeppelin and has played onstage with Meat Loaf.[13] He is a fan of Arsenal F.C.[11]
See also Edit References Edit ^ "Forbes profile: Paul Singer". Forbes . Retrieved 1 February 2019 . ^ Guttman, Nathan (February 2, 2016). "Mega-donor Paul Singer Gives Sheldon Adelson a Run for His Money". Haaretz. ^ Johnson, Chris (October 31, 2015). "Major pro-LGBT Republican donor backs Rubio". Washington Blade . Retrieved June 1, 2016 . ^ a b c d e f Fuller, Jaime (April 4, 2014). "Meet the wealthy donor who's trying to get Republicans to support gay marriage". Washington Post . Retrieved October 22, 2015 . ^ "Elliott Management Corporation Company Profile". Yahoo! Finance . Retrieved July 18, 2007 . ^ Suarez-Villa, Luis (December 9, 2014). Corporate Power, Oligopolies, and the Crisis of the State. SUNY Press. pp. 378 pages. ISBN 978-1438454856. ^ Moyer, Liz. "Elliott Management Takes 11% Stake in Cabela's". The New York Times . Retrieved November 29, 2015 . ^ a b c d e f Kumar, Nikhil (November 23, 2012). "The vulture capitalist who devoured Peru '' and now threatens Argentina; Could Paul Singer destroy another economy?". The Independent. London . Retrieved October 22, 2015 . ^ a b "#327 Paul Singer". Forbes . Retrieved February 2, 2016 . ^ a b Fuller, Jaime. "Meet the wealthy donor who's trying to get Republicans to support gay marriage". The Washington Post . Retrieved August 30, 2015 . ^ a b c d e f g h Foley, Stephen. "Paul Singer, the hedge fund holdout". Financial Times . Retrieved November 29, 2015 . ^ Johnson, Chris. "Major pro-LGBT Republican donor backs Rubio". Washington Blade. Washington Blade . Retrieved November 29, 2015 . ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Celarier, Michelle (March 26, 2012). "Mitt Romney's hedge fund kingmaker". CNN - Fortune. ^ a b Eric Lichtblau (August 27, 2010). "Financier's Largess Shows G.O.P.'s Wall St. Support". The New York Times. ^ a b Palast, Greg; O'Kane, Maggie; Madlena, Chavala (November 15, 2011). "Vulture funds await Jersey decision on poor countries' debts". The Guardian . Retrieved August 3, 2015 . ^ a b Armitage, Jim. "Can you make an ethical case for vulture funds?". The Independent . Retrieved November 29, 2015 . ^ a b Sheehan, Michael (November 15, 2011). "Vulture funds '' the key players". The Guardian. London . Retrieved June 10, 2012 . ^ a b c d e Abelson, Max; Porzecanski, Katia (August 7, 2014). "Paul Singer Will Make Argentina Pay". Bloomberg News . Retrieved October 20, 2015 . ^ a b Palast, Greg. "The Vulture: Chewing Argentina's Living Corpse". Greg Palast . Retrieved August 2, 2015 . ^ a b Kelly, Kate (September 24, 2014). "Kyle Bass big on Argentina; rips 'immoral' competitors". CNBC . Retrieved August 3, 2015 . ^ a b Kenneth Dyson (June 19, 2014). States, Debt, and Power: Saints and Sinners in European History and Integration. OUP Oxford. pp. 241''. ISBN 978-0-19-102347-7. ^ a b George D. Cameron III (August 9, 2015). International Business Law: Cases and Materials. Van Rye Publishing, LLC. pp. 291''. ISBN 978-0-9903671-4-7. ^ Spat between Samsung and NYC Hedge Fund takes nasty detour into Jew-baiting, The Observer (07/2015) ^ Isabella Steger (12 December 2011). "Hedge Fund Elliott Associates Takes Vietnam to Court". The Wall Street Journal. ^ a b c d e Kurson, Ken. "Spat Between Samsung and NYC Hedge Fund Takes Nasty Detour Into Jew-Baiting". Observer . Retrieved November 29, 2015 . ^ Kampeas, Ron. "Jewish, Republican, pro-gay rights". JTA. JTA . Retrieved November 29, 2015 . ^ Guttman, Nathan. "Paul Singer, the GOP's 'Anti-Adelson', Makes His Move", The Forward, February 2, 2016. Accessed August 19, 2017. "Singer grew up in Teaneck, New Jersey, one of three children in a Jewish family." ^ "Paul Singer '66". www.simon.rochester.edu . Retrieved 2019-02-01 . ^ a b c Kambiz Foroohar (February 2008). "The Opportunist". Bloomberg Markets. ^ Ebrahimi, Helia; Blackden, Richard. "Paul Singer's Elliott Management takes the fight to National Express". The Telegraph . Retrieved November 29, 2015 . ^ Palast, Greg (August 7, 2014). "How Barack Obama could end the Argentina debt crisis". The Guardian . Retrieved March 29, 2016 . ^ a b c Steger, Isabella (December 12, 2011). "Hedge Fund Elliott Associates Takes Vietnam to Court". wsj.com. Wall Street Journal . Retrieved August 13, 2016 . ^ "Wall Street planning assault on UK". The Telegraph. February 8, 2014 . Retrieved August 14, 2016 . ^ a b BENOIT, DAVID; BEILFUSS, LISA. "Elliott Management Pushes for Change at Citrix". The Wall Street Journal . Retrieved November 29, 2015 . ^ Tonnelier, Audrey (28 July 2014). "Elliott, le fonds vautour qui fait trembler l'Argentine". Le Monde.fr (in French) . Retrieved 20 August 2016 . ^ Smith, Geoffrey (July 17, 2015). "Vitriol pays off as Samsung wins key merger vote against Singer". Fortune . Retrieved October 14, 2015 . ^ a b c "#327 Paul Singer - Forbes 400". Forbes. Archived from the original on November 25, 2015 . Retrieved November 29, 2015 . ^ a b c Flaherty, Michael. "EMC-Dell talks highlight Elliott's clout across tech sector". Reuters . Retrieved November 29, 2015 . ^ "Hedge fund Elliott takes control of Italian soccer club AC Milan". Reuters. 2018-07-10 . Retrieved 2019-02-01 . ^ " " Fujimori paid and the Vulture Funds gave him the plane to flee from Peru," said Toussaint". Telam. September 30, 2014 . Retrieved August 2, 2015 . ^ Guardian (November 15, 2011). "Vulture funds '' the key players". The Guardian. London . Retrieved June 11, 2013 . ^ Lopez, Linette (December 21, 2012). "Hedge Fund Billionaire Paul Singer May Have To Pay For His Brief Stint As A Pirate". Business Insider . Retrieved August 15, 2015 . ^ Conrad Waters (November 7, 2013). Seaforth World Naval Review 2014. Seaforth Publishing. pp. 39''. ISBN 978-1-84832-326-1. ^ Fontevecchia, Agustino (October 5, 2012). "The Real Story Of How A Hedge Fund Detained A Vessel In Ghana And Even Went For Argentina's 'Air Force One ' ". Forbes . Retrieved October 21, 2015 . ^ Lopez, Linette (November 13, 2012). "Argentina's President Is Making Great Political Theater Out Of Paul Singer Seizing The Country's Naval Ship". Business Insider . Retrieved August 3, 2015 . ^ BBC, Kaja. "Ghana told to free Argentine ship Libertad by UN court". BBC . Retrieved August 2, 2015 . ^ Ed Stocker, "Argentina welcomes home ship held in Ghana by US 'vulture fund'", The Independent, January 9, 2013 ^ Raymond, Nate (April 2, 2013). "UPDATE 2-US court demands Argentine bondholders address pay plan". Reuters . Retrieved June 13, 2013 . ^ Warren, Michael. "Argentina wants to pay debts with cash & bonds". USA Today. Associated Press . Retrieved November 29, 2015 . ^ UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS, FOR THE SECOND CIRCUIT (August 23, 2013). "12-105(L) NML Capital, Ltd. v. Republic of Argentina" (PDF) . Clar­n . Retrieved August 23, 2013 . ^ "Argentina makes debt case in US newspapers". yahoo.com. AFP wire. June 23, 2014 . Retrieved August 13, 2016 . ^ Romig, Shane (March 25, 2014). "Argentina Creditor Takes Debt Battle to Space". The Wall Street Journal . Retrieved October 20, 2015 . ^ Lopez, Linette (July 30, 2014). "Paul Singer Doesn't Understand Why We're So Obsessed With His Little Argentina Investment". Business Insider . Retrieved October 15, 2015 . Singer sued Elon Musk's Space X for a ride Argentina had purchased as collateral for the country's debt. ^ "NML fails at attempt to seize assets". Buenos Aires Herald. March 7, 2015 . Retrieved October 20, 2015 . ^ Salvatore, Cara (March 5, 2015). "NML Capital Loses Bid For Argentina Space Contracts". Law360 . Retrieved October 20, 2015 . ^ Stevenson, Alexandra (March 24, 2016). "Hedge Funds Dealt Setback as U.S. Sides With Argentina on Defaulted Bonds". New York Times . Retrieved March 25, 2016 . ^ "Argentina reaches $4.65bn deal with holdouts". Financial Times. February 29, 2016 . Retrieved February 29, 2016 . ^ Daniel Pollack: "El acuerdo se termina si el pago no se hace antes del 14 de abril" (in Spanish) ^ Rafael Mathus Ruiz. "La Corte de Nueva York confirm" la orden de Thomas Griesa para que la Argentina salga del default" [The Court of New York confirmed the order of Thomas Griesa for Argentina to leave the default]. La Nacion (in Spanish) . Retrieved April 13, 2016 . ^ "US court ruling allows Argentina bond sale to proceed". Financial Times. April 13, 2016 . Retrieved April 13, 2016 . ^ Bob Van Voris (April 13, 2016). "Argentina Wins Court Ruling Letting Bond Sale Proceed". Bloomberg L.P . Retrieved April 13, 2016 . ^ "Stories Tagged Singer Prize Excellence Secondary Teaching". Harvard Graduate School of Education . Retrieved October 15, 2015 . ^ a b "PAUL SINGER". Republican Jewish Coalition . Retrieved October 15, 2015 . ^ Adeniji, Ade. "Four Things to Know About Paul Singer's New York City Philanthropy". Inside Philanthropy. Inside Philanthropy . Retrieved November 29, 2015 . ^ Foley, Stephen. "Paul Singer on how charity meets politics". Financial Times . Retrieved November 29, 2015 . ^ "The Paul E. Singer Foundation Donates $25,000 to MarineParents.com, Inc.'". Marine Parents . Retrieved May 23, 2014 . ^ "The Jewish Billionaire Behind a New Christian Anti-Iran Group". 2015-03-06 . Retrieved 2016-07-27 . ^ "Charisma News". Charisma News. ^ "Forward 50 2015 - Paul Singer". The Forward. The Forward Association, Inc. 2015 . Retrieved 29 May 2017 . ^ "Singer Foundation will give $1M to secure NYC Jewish sites". November 6, 2018. ^ a b Paul Singer (March 23, 2010). "The Dodd bill and U.S. Competitiveness". The Wall Street Journal. ^ "Harvard Medical School Board of Fellows". Harvard. Harvard . Retrieved November 29, 2015 . ^ Dugan, Ianthe Jeanne; Brody Mullins (August 27, 2012). "Wall Street's Singer Makes His Influence Felt". The Wall Street Journal . Retrieved June 12, 2013 . ^ LICHTBLAU, ERIC. "Financier's Largess Shows G.O.P.'s Wall St. Support". The New York Times . Retrieved November 29, 2015 . ^ Vogel, Kenneth (July 27, 2015). "Koch brothers summon Bush, Cruz, Walker, Rubio to SoCal confab". Politico . Retrieved October 22, 2015 . ^ La Roche, Julia (September 6, 2011). "Check Out All Of The Wall Streeters Who Donated More Than A Million Dollars To The Koch Brothers This Year". Business Insider . Retrieved October 22, 2015 . ^ Burns, Alexander; Vogel, Kenneth (February 18, 2014). "Exclusive: Mega-donors plan GOP war council". Politico . Retrieved October 22, 2015 . ^ McCormack, Raymond (March 8, 2016). "Our Principles PAC". Factcheck.org . Retrieved March 15, 2016 . ^ Considered, All Things. " ' Our Principles' SuperPAC Spreads Anti-Donald Trump Message". NPR.org . Retrieved March 11, 2016 . ^ Cassidy, John (March 3, 2016). "The Problem with the "Never Trump" Movement". New Yorker . Retrieved March 25, 2016 . ^ Haberman, Maggie; Confessore, Nicholas (October 30, 2015). "Paul Singer, Influential Billionaire, Throws Support to Marco Rubio for President". The New York Times . Retrieved October 31, 2015 . ^ "Meet the billionaire hedge fund manager quietly shaping the GOP gay marriage debate". Washington Post . Retrieved 2016-07-27 . ^ Alexander, Dan. "More Than 25 Billionaires Poured Millions Into Trump's Inaugural Committee". ^ "Hedge Fund Chiefs, With Cash, Join Political Fray". The New York Times. January 25, 2007. ^ Kamen, Al (March 19, 2008). "Singer Was Bush's Mystery Dinner Host. No, Not That Singer". The Washington Post . Retrieved October 22, 2015 . ^ a b Mosk, Matthew (August 16, 2011). "Mitt Romney Cash Invested With GOP Whale". ABC News . Retrieved October 22, 2015 . ^ Katz, Celeste (January 5, 2009). "President Bush's photo op with Robert Toussie was at home of city GOP'er". Daily News. New York City. ^ Lake, Eli. "Bush Visit May Boost Olmert". The Sun . Retrieved November 29, 2015 . ^ a b Berman, Ari (October 11, 2007). "Rudy's Bird of Prey; Giuliani's conservative kingmaker knows all about the ugly side of Third World debt. He invented it". The Nation. ^ Rosen, David S. "Romney Attracts More of Bush's Top Donors Than Rivals (Update2)". Bloomberg L.P. Bloomberg L.P . Retrieved November 29, 2015 . ^ a b Cooper, Michael; Wayne, Leslie (November 22, 2007). "Publicity-Shy Giuliani Backer Is Thrust Into Spotlight". The New York Times . Retrieved October 21, 2015 . ^ Stone, Peter (September 2013). "This Vulture-Fund Billionaire Is the GOP's Go-To Guy on Wall Street; Meet the hard-charging, warship-seizing hedge fund mogul who has become congressional Republicans' most powerful fundraiser". Mother Jones . Retrieved October 21, 2015 . ^ Andrew Malcolm, "Giuliani fundraiser was mystery initiative backer", Los Angeles Times, November 28, 2007 ^ "Schedule A Itemized Receipts '' Committee: RESTORE OUR FUTURE, INC". Federal Election Commission. Archived from the original on February 1, 2012 . Retrieved November 3, 2013 . ^ Yang, Jia (October 11, 2013). "Here's who pays the bills for Ted Cruz's crusade". The Washington Post . Retrieved October 11, 2013 . ^ THOMAS, LANDON. "Hedge Fund Chiefs, With Cash, Join Political Fray". The New York Times . Retrieved November 29, 2015 . ^ Clifton, Eli (April 7, 2014). "GOP Pro''Gay Marriage Funder's Other Agenda: Bombing Iran". The Nation . Retrieved July 20, 2015 . ^ Blumenthal, Paul (April 23, 2014). "Wall Street, War Hawks Fund Challenger To Only Anti-War, Anti-Wall Street Republican". The Huffington Post . Retrieved July 20, 2015 . ^ "Members". Committee on Capital Markets Regulation . Retrieved September 11, 2014 . ^ David Callahan (June 22, 2010). Fortunes of Change: The Rise of the Liberal Rich and the Remaking of America. John Wiley & Sons. pp. 272''. ISBN 978-0-470-60654-4. ^ "Wall Street Donors: Paul Singer". Inside Philanthropy. Inside Philanthropy . Retrieved November 3, 2015 . ^ Carter, Zach (August 15, 2016). "This Democrat Isn't Challenging Her Opponent To A Debate. She's Challenging A Donor To His Super PAC" '' via Huff Post. ^ Keith, Tamara. "SuperDonor Backs Romney '' And Gay Marriage". New Hampshire Public Radio . Retrieved June 13, 2013 . ^ "Out on the Street' Summit to Spotlight LGBT Employee Issues | LGBT Employees". Businessnewsdaily.com. April 25, 2012 . Retrieved November 3, 2013 . ^ Bruni, Frank (June 9, 2012). "The G.O.P.'s Gay Trajectory". The New York Times . Retrieved June 13, 2013 . ^ Nicholas Confessore and Michael Barbaro (May 14, 2011). "Donors to GOP are backing gay marriage push". The New York Times. ^ BOLCER, JULIE. "Republican Donor Paul Singer Gives $250,000 to Maryland Marriage Campaign". The Advocate . Retrieved November 29, 2015 . ^ Barbaro, Michael (June 25, 2011). "The Road to Gay Marriage in New York". The New York Times. ^ Bruni, Frank (June 9, 2012). "The G.O.P.'s Gay Trajectory". The New York Times . Retrieved June 10, 2012 . ^ Palmer, Anna (April 9, 2014). "Billionaires push Republicans on gay rights bill". Politico . Retrieved April 29, 2014 . ^ Polaski, Adam (June 8, 2015). "Freedom For All Americans". Freedom For All Americans . Retrieved October 3, 2016 . ^ Vogel, Kenneth P.; Haberman, Maggie (October 27, 2017). "Conservative Website First Funded Anti-Trump Research by Firm That Later Produced Dossier". The New York Times . Retrieved October 27, 2017 . Mr. Singer initially supported Senator Marco Rubio's campaign for the Republican presidential nomination. But after Mr. Rubio dropped out of the race, Mr. Singer spearheaded an effort to block Mr. Trump from winning the presidential nomination, drawing Mr. Trump's ire. ^ Singer, Paul (April 3, 2009). "Free-Marketeers Should Welcome Some Regulation". The Wall Street Journal. ^ Johnson, Rob; Lynn Parramore (September 1, 2009). "Jim Chanos Warned Brown, Geithner, and Others about Coming Financial Crash in 2007". The Huffington Post . Retrieved June 13, 2013 . ^ Ellis, Blake (May 19, 2014). "Wall Street CEOs open up about their gay sons". CNN . Retrieved October 15, 2015 . External links Edit
BIRTHDAY OF THE DAY: Mike Shields, founder of Convergence Media and a CNN political commentator - POLITICO
Sat, 30 Mar 2019 16:30
Courtesy of Mike Shields
How/where are you celebrating your birthday and with whom? ''I will be celebrating my birthday over the weekend with my wife Katie and son Aidan and we'll be decorating a Christmas tree at our house in Alexandria. I think my wife also has dinner plans for us but you'll have to ask her about that!''
How did you get your start in politics? ''My first job in politics was being the 'clips boy' at the RNC -- getting to work at 4:30 a.m. every day to cut news clips out of papers by hand and photocopying them to be on Chairman Haley Barbour's desk by 7:00 a.m. (I love explaining this to interns.) When I became RNC chief of staff it was surreal and humbling to return to where I started.''
Story Continued Below
What's an interesting book/article you're reading now or finished? And why? ''Book: 'Thinking in Bets: Making Smarter Decisions When You Don't Have All the Facts,' by Annie Duke. The description explains it well -- it's a book about taking risks and making decisions, written by a professional poker player. It's fascinating to me as someone who has been trying to drive the GOP to make decisions based on accurate data.''
What is a trend going on in the U.S. or abroad that doesn't get enough attention? ''Major League Soccer is 7th in the world for average attendance, and growing. It's right behind Serie A, Italy's premier league, in terms of number of people who go to games. America is so massive that it can sustain the big sports that everyone watches like football and basketball, and there is still room for a significant soccer league that doesn't really compete with those other leagues for fans. It's hard to explain to friends in other countries how large our culture is and how big our media markets are.''
How is the Trump presidency going? ''If you listed the president's accomplishments in his first 2 years without naming who did them -- economic growth, deregulation, conservative judiciary, increased military spending, tax cuts, job growth, peace through strength foreign policy -- most Republicans might assume it was the presidency of a Bush or Reagan. There is a lot to be happy about if you are a conservative and a Republican. There is a huge difference between what the press combats the President on every day, which tends to be rhetoric, tone, tweets; and what the President is accomplishing with his policy agenda.''
What's a fun fact that people in Washington might not know about you? ''I'm not sure how fun it is but I grew up in the north of England. I'm a U.S. citizen but I'm also half English. My father met my mother in England when he was in the Air Force in the 50s and returned to England when he was working for the NSA. I was 9 when Thatcher was elected and 10 when Reagan was elected and they are the transatlantic heroes who inspired me to get into politics to fight the evils of socialism. Sadly that seems to be just as relevant today as it was then.''
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Katie Walsh & Furtive Husband's Secret Wedding Day Revealed! Intimately Married, Bio Reveals
Sat, 30 Mar 2019 16:28
Katie Walsh, who is an American Republican political operative, has a personal life apart from her career in the politics. Katie, who has accomplished much in her career at a very young age, is a married woman with a husband and kids.
It turns out, even though the insights on their engagement is revealed, their wedding turned out to be a secret one with limited friends and family. Well, her bio reveals secrets of her personal and professional life.
Proposal On New Year's EveKatie Walsh, who briefly served as White House Deputy Chief of Staff, has her own romance apart from her career. Katie has been romantically involved with CNN Political Commentator Mike Shields.
Katie and Mike have been together for a while now from sharing romance together while dating to having a family of their own. Katie and Mike got engaged on New Year's Eve in 2016.
During that time, the couple was on vacation to London. The former RNC chief of staff and current head of the Congressional Leadership Fund Mike arranged for proposal in a cabinet room inside 10 Downing Street.
Before reaching there, Katie and Mike had dinner with their best friends Rob and Cindy Boyd. The duo left early from dinner and headed to 10 Downing as Mike and told Katie that there was a party that they needed to attend.
While on their way, Katie got busy on a call with Sara Armstrong which diverted her mind from the absence of crowd at the 10 Downing. Both Katie and Mike got inside and the security guards gave them a little tour and later walked them into the cabinets.
Just as they reached there Mike got down on one knee and presented Katie with a ring. Mike asked Katie to marry him as they had their subtle engagement.
Katie Walsh showing off engagement ring with husband Mike Shields on New Year's Eve 2016. (Photo: Mike Shield's Instagram)
As for Katie, who has an average salary of $71 thousand, she was surprised at the proposal and said "yes" to her boyfriend-turned-fiance. The couple later enjoyed the fireworks on the New Year's Eve.
Intimate Wedding Ceremony, Blessed With Son Well, after their intimate engagement the couple were looking forward to tying the nuptial knot in a wedding ceremony.
However, in case of their wedding, the pair has remained awfully silent. Much detail of the ceremony is still a mystery. It has come to light through the wedding registry that the pair exchanged their marriage vows on 23 September 2017.
Well, their wedding date is all that has been known about their ceremony. They sure had a secret wedding with their family and close friends along with limited guests.
The couple has not posted their wedding pictures either. Mike, who often updates his followers with family posts on his Instagram has not posted any wedding pictures yet. And as for her Katie, she had kept her wedding pictures as her profile picture on her social media accounts.
Well, despite their secrecy, her fans and followers are much glad for the bond that they share. As of now, Katie lives in Alexandria, Virginia with her husband Mike and son Aidan.
Katie Walsh (politician) - Wikipedia
Sat, 30 Mar 2019 14:51
Early life and education Edit Career Edit 2008 presidential election Edit Walsh was hired in 2007 as an assistant to the finance director for Fred Thompson's brief presidential campaign.[9]
After Thompson dropped out of the race, she joined the presidential campaign of John McCain as Midwest regional finance director.[9][7]
National Republican Senatorial Committee Edit Walsh then worked as deputy finance director for the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC),[6] implementing fundraising and political strategies for Senate campaigns during the 2010 and 2012 election cycles.[7]
Republican National Committee Edit Walsh was hired as deputy finance director for the Republican National Committee in January 2013 and rose to finance director that June.[9][8] At the RNC, Walsh was known as "rainmaker",[6] breaking records by raising over $200 million during the 2014 election cycle.[8]
Walsh was named chief of staff of the Republican National Committee in early 2015,[9] serving under chair Reince Priebus. She was critical of the RNC's practice of sharing voter information with the Koch Brothers, saying "I think it's very dangerous and wrong to allow a group of very strong, well-financed individuals who have no accountability to anyone to have control over who gets access to the data when, why and how."[10] Spearheaded by the RNC's technology chief Andrew Barkett for the 2014 election cycle,[11] she ensured that a partnership began in July 2015 between the voter information in the RNC's Data Trust, operated by Karl Rove and developed by Johnny DeStefano, and the voter information in the Americans for Prosperity and Freedom Partners' i360, which is supported by the Koch Brothers network, so that each database's information would be shared with GOP candidates.[12][13][14][15] The RNC's Data Trust had been sharing its information with the independent groups American Crossroads and American Action Network.[12][13][14] The extensive personal information in both i360 and DataTrust are developed from credit card use and internet choices such as credit card purchases, cable TV choices, and other sensitive personal information, much more personal than Facebook data.[13][14] During the 2016 election cycle, Walsh was an architect of the Republican National Committee's get out the vote and voter identification operations.[6] She focused on using the Republican National Committee's data collection from the previous four years. She told CNN that the RNC intended to look to polls less often in favor of "predictive modeling," which tracks voters' likelihood of voting for Republican candidates. In November 2016, she said, "The beauty of predictive modeling is you're watching an electorate voter-by-voter over a long period of time ... You're watching their movement, you're watching what they care about, you're watching what they respond to to [sic] and there are a lot of upsides to this." She went on to say that the Republican National Committee was also focusing on get out the vote efforts for Donald Trump's presidential campaign.[citation needed ] Walsh selected Alex Lundry's political marketing firm Deep Root Analytics to provide data analytics to the Trump campaign, along with TargetPoint Consulting and Causeway Solutions.[16]
Donald Trump presidential transition team Edit Walsh was a member of Donald Trump's presidential transition team. The transition team was a group of around 100 aides, policy experts, government affairs officials, and former government officials who were tasked with vetting, interviewing, and recommending individuals for top cabinet and staff roles in Trump's administration. She was part of the Leadership staff.[17]
Trump administration Edit Walsh was named White House Deputy Chief of Staff for Implementation in the administration of Donald Trump. Walsh oversaw senior staff and managed scheduling and the Office of Public Liaison.[8] According to The Wall Street Journal, Walsh had guarded access to the Oval Office on behalf of Chief of Staff Reince Priebus.[18]
Walsh resigned from her position on March 30, 2017, becoming an adviser to a pro-Trump 501(c)(4), America First Policies, and the Republican National Committee.[19]
References Edit ^ Sherman, Jake; Palmer, Anna; Lippman, Daniel (November 1, 2017). "Playbookers: Birthdays". Playbook. Politico . Retrieved November 2, 2018 . ^ Julie Bykowicz (January 30, 2017). "Trump advisers start America First Policies nonprofit". AP . Retrieved January 30, 2017 . ^ Jenna Johnson and Philip Rucker (March 30, 2017). "Senior aide Katie Walsh leaves White House to run pro-Trump outside group". The Washington Post . Retrieved March 30, 2017 . ^ "Katie Walsh". gop.com. ^ Morrow, Brendan (January 4, 2017). "Katie Walsh: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know". Heavy.com. ^ a b c d Raasch, Chuck (January 6, 2017). "St. Louis native Katie Walsh will be deputy chief of staff in Trump White House". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. ^ a b c d Graves, Lucia (March 27, 2015). "Katie Walsh: The RNC's Rainmaker". The Atlantic. ^ a b c d Roberts, Kayleigh (January 23, 2017). "Who Is Katie Walsh? 8 Things You Need to Know About the RNC Superstar Turned Trump Staffer". Cosmopolitan. ^ a b c d Dickson, Rebecca (May 25, 2016). "RNC's Katie Walsh: A behind-the-scenes leader". The Hill. ^ Ward, Jon (June 11, 2015). "The Koch brothers and the Republican Party go to war '' with each other". Yahoo News. ^ Ward, Jon (October 27, 2014). "GOP digital revamp sees mixed results two years after report". Yahoo News . Retrieved September 11, 2018 . ^ a b Gold, Matea (July 29, 2015). "Koch network strikes new deal to share voter data with RNC-aligned firm". Washington Post . Retrieved September 11, 2018 . ^ a b c "Cambridge Analytica Ain't Nuthin: Look out for i360 and DataTrust". Greg Palast. March 19, 2018 . Retrieved September 11, 2018 . ^ a b c Peries, Sharmini (March 29, 2018). "Cambridge Analytica Is Not Alone: i360 and Data Trust Disastrous for Democracy". The Real News Network . Retrieved September 11, 2018 . ^ Rein, Lisa (April 19, 2017). "This Beltway insider is in charge of hiring for the Trump administration. It's taking a while". Washington Post . Retrieved September 11, 2018 . ^ Cameron, Dell; Conger, Kate (June 19, 2017). "GOP Data Firm Accidentally Leaks Personal Details of Nearly 200 Million American Voters". Gizmodo. Lundry's work brought him into Trump's campaign war room, according to a post-election AdAge article that charted the GOP's 2016 data efforts. Deep Root was hand-picked by the RNC's then-chief of staff, Katie Walsh, in September of last year and joined two other data shops'--TargetPoint Consulting and Causeway Solutions'--in the effort to win Trump the presidency. ^ "Trump adds vice chairs to transition team, including several women". Politico. November 29, 2016 . Retrieved February 1, 2017 . ^ "Mike Flynn is first casualty of turmoil in Trump administration," The Wall Street Journal, February 14, 2017, retrieved February 17, 2017. ^ Goldmacher, Shane; Nussbaum, Matthew; Palmeri, Tara; Isenstadt, Alex (March 30, 2017). "Senior White House aide Katie Walsh moving to pro-Trump political group". Politico . Retrieved March 30, 2017 . External links Edit
Mitt Romney's hedge fund kingmaker | Fortune
Sat, 30 Mar 2019 10:37
Elite money manager Paul Singer is a passionate defender of the 1% and a rising Republican power broker. He's determined to put a candidate who shares his views back in the White House.
By Michelle Celarier, contributor
FORTUNE '-- As he gears up for the final stretch in the marathon that is the Republican nomination campaign, Mitt Romney has no shortage of eminent financiers to call on '-- for advice or money. Billionaire hedge fund titans such as Julian Robertson of Tiger Management, Louis Bacon of Moore Capital, and John Paulson of Paulson & Co. have all lined up behind the front-runner. Steve Schwarzman, the co-founder of private equity giant Blackstone (BX), recently held a high-level fundraiser for Romney at his Park Avenue apartment. Romney's old friends at Bain Capital, the buyout firm he co-founded in 1984, have also been generous in their support. But perhaps none of Romney's Wall Street supporters will be more crucial to the candidate's success, or have more influence on his thinking, than Paul Singer.
Singer is the founder of a $19 billion hedge fund called Elliott Management. And he has a well-earned reputation as one of the smartest and toughest money managers in the business. Over the past 35 years Singer, 67, has produced an extraordinary 14% average annual return after fees, nearly double the price appreciation of the S&P 500 (SPX). He's achieved that record in large part by buying the debt of bankrupt companies and nations '-- a strategy that has earned him considerable opprobrium in some circles. His firm, which is engaged in a costly, protracted legal war with Argentina over its defaulted sovereign debt, is so influential that fear of its tactics helped shape the current Greek debt restructuring. Among the sophisticated investors who have placed their confidence in Singer is Mitt Romney himself. According to Romney's financial disclosures, the trust managing his more than $200 million fortune has at least $1 million invested with Elliott.
In recent years Singer has emerged as a quiet force in the Republican Party. He's one of a handful of moneymen who have given $1 million to the Romney super PAC ''Restore the Future,'' which so far has raised $37 million and spent some $34 million. Singer has also donated more than $220,000 to 31 Republicans in national races across the country since Barack Obama became President. Over the past three years he has given nearly $2 million to Republicans in local races in states as far-flung as Florida, Michigan, California, and Texas. But his value goes far beyond his own deep pockets. Singer is known as a major Republican ''bundler,'' with a large network of rich donors ready to follow his lead. ''All the candidates come to pick his brain,'' says one party insider.
Many in the East Coast elite wing of the party also view Singer as an intellectual with the tenacious spirit necessary to help them turn back the clock on regulation and resist higher taxes on the wealthy. ''Paul Singer is a philosopher-king type of person,'' says Anthony Scaramucci, the Skybridge Capital managing partner who, as Mitt Romney's finance co-chair, worked hard to get Singer to swing his support behind his candidate. Singer signed on with Romney after his first choice, New Jersey governor Chris Christie, said he would not run.
In the role of would-be kingmaker, Singer has his own agenda '-- specifically, gaining official support to win his battle with Argentina over the more than $2 billion he says the country owes his firm. He also opposes portions of the Dodd-Frank Act, the financial regulation that grew out of the 2008 crash, which could crimp his business. More broadly, Singer worries that the Fed's monetary policies will lead to ''very serious inflation'' and believes that entitlement reform is desperately needed. The alternative is grim, according to Singer. ''America and Europe are actually, on present course, headed for mass poverty and degradation of freedom,'' he warned in a recent letter to investors. The battle for the White House, in his eyes, is truly a fight to save the country.
With his trim white beard, wire-rimmed spectacles, and erudite demeanor, Singer could pass for a college professor. Friends say he has a wry sense of humor and a penchant for delving into arcane details when offering his policy prescriptions or financial analysis. Like many of his hedge fund peers, Singer prefers to discuss political strategy behind closed doors. ''He's not a big bombastic guy,'' says Scaramucci. ''He saves his commentary for very close one-on-one conversations.'' Singer declines most requests for interviews. (And did so for this article.) But he has become a regular speaker at industry events. He also chairs the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research in New York City. The conservative think tank has provided the intellectual ballast for many Republican policies, including the police tactics of New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani '-- whom Singer initially backed in the 2008 presidential campaign '-- and the current attacks on public sector unions.
Running Elliott and playing politics take up most of his time. But Singer is also an accomplished musician, who began studying classical piano at age 10 and later gravitated toward rock and roll. His favorite band is Led Zeppelin, and he once jammed on stage with Meat Loaf. Divorced since 1996, he has a home near Aspen, Colo., and lives on New York City's Upper West Side in the Beresford, a luxury apartment building on Central Park West built just before the stock market crash of 1929 that has been home to such stars as comedian Jerry Seinfeld and actress Glenn Close.
Singer grew up in Tenafly, N.J., just across the Hudson River from New York City, one of three children of a Manhattan pharmacist and a homemaker. After majoring in psychology at the University of Rochester, he earned a JD from Harvard Law School. In 1974, Singer landed a job as an attorney in the real estate division of the investment bank Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette. Three years later he left to launch Elliott Associates with $1.3 million from friends and family. (Elliott is Singer's middle name.) Losses from his first forays into the stock market drilled into Singer a risk aversion that still guides his investing today. For example, he rarely uses leverage to juice returns. ''He thinks about what could go wrong rather than what could go right,'' says a longtime investor.
That caution has served him well: Since 1977, Elliott has had only two down years '-- in 1998 when it lost 7% and in cataclysmic 2008 when it dipped a mere 3% '-- and is now the ninth-largest hedge fund in the U.S. Elliott rose 4.2% in 2011, a year in which most hedge funds lost money.
From the early days, Singer focused on distressed assets. He became adept at buying up the debt of bankrupt companies and gained a reputation for strong-arming his way to profit. Recently Singer's firm has been in most of the big post-crash restructurings, including Chrysler and auto parts supplier Delphi. Last year Lehman Brothers' debt was Elliott's biggest position, accounting for more than 10% of the portfolio, or about $2 billion. Elliott has also used its distressed balance sheet analysis to take activist equity stakes in companies such as Novell and Iron Mountain (IRM). The fund has had less success dabbling in Hollywood, financing an independent producer called Relativity Media, a troubled investment it recently began selling off.
In hedge fund circles, the joke about Singer used to be that he was ''to the right of Attila the Hun,'' given his devotion to Republican ideology. But his conservatism doesn't extend to at least one social issue: gay rights. Since 2001, Singer has quietly given $8.6 million to nonprofits to support gay rights. He spent another $1 million bankrolling the successful effort to pass New York's same-sex marriage law last year. One of his sons, Andrew, is a Massachusetts doctor who is gay and was married in that state. (His other son, Gordon, runs the firm's London office.)
In his office on West 57th Street in Manhattan, Singer keeps a stack of about 25 copies of a 1931 book called The Economics of Inflation: A Study of Currency Depreciation in Post War Germany by an obscure Italian economist named Costantino Bresciani-Turroni. Singer tracked down the book, which details Germany's spiral into hyperinflation, a few years ago after he saw it mentioned in the footnotes of an academic paper. He considers it the best study he's come across of how easy-money policies can quickly go awry. When Romney dropped by for a visit in November, Singer gave him a copy.
Singer's own analysis became more sought out after he famously warned the G-7 ministers of impending doom in 2007 and survived the crash of 2008 virtually unscathed. Each quarter Singer lays out his political and economic views in a confidential report to his investors that is watermarked and kept under password-protected Internet security. (Disclosure: In 2010, Elliott asked the supreme court of the state of New York to compel AR magazine, which covers hedge funds, to reveal who had leaked its confidential investment letter to AR. Elliott later withdrew the request. I was editor of AR at the time.)
In the most recent report, dated Jan. 23, 2012, Singer takes on the tax debate that promises to be a defining issue of the presidential race in a lengthy section called ''Taxes and the 1%.'' Singer writes that ''income inequality has become a wedge issue.'' He then quotes a 2007 Treasury Department study on income mobility that shows that ''more than half the households in the top 1% were not there nine years earlier.''
Folks in this ''vilified club'' should not be punished by paying more taxes, Singer's argument goes, since there's no way of knowing what their ''fair share'' of taxes should be or if the 1% will continue to be in that tax bracket for long. The billionaire shows little sympathy for the plight of the 99%. ''Resentment is not morally superior to earning money,'' writes Singer. What is a ''moral failing,'' according to him, is ''depreciation in paper money's value.''
Even his admirers admit that Singer is, to put it gently, extremely confident in his own opinions. And his writings do little to refute that view. For example, Singer comes close to calling government officials stupid. ''It is not exactly that we think they are particularly idiotic,'' he says, referring to the Federal Reserve. ''The problem is that they are in way over their heads.''
One of Singer's more familiar bugaboos is Dodd-Frank, which he says ''enshrines'' too-big-to-fail institutions. Singer favors more transparency and tougher margin requirements for the big banks. He also worries that the newly created Resolution Authority, a government agency designed to wind down failing financial institutions at the lowest cost to the taxpayer, trumps bankruptcy law. As Singer puts it, Dodd-Frank ''will diminish the predictability and protections of the rule of law.''
The FDIC sees it differently. ''Dodd-Frank eliminates the ability of distressed-debt investors to manipulate the bankruptcy process through endless rounds of negotiation and legislation to get a few cents here or there,'' says Michael Krimminger, the FDIC general counsel. ''It clearly spells out the priority structure for paying creditors, along with the way in which they will be paid.''
The FDIC hopes the Resolution Authority process can avert a collapse of an institution like Lehman Brothers and the long, contentious bankruptcy process that followed. Elliott was a winner in that battle, which was finally resolved late last year. Elliott profited by buying up both private and public claims across the Lehman capital structure and was on the creditors' committee of the holding company. ''They are very hard-nosed, very aggressive, and sometimes inflexible,'' says Harvey Miller, the Weil Gotshal & Manges partner who was the lead attorney for Lehman. ''They just take a position and say, 'That's the way it has to be because we say so.'''
In December a bankruptcy plan was approved that would give bondholders of Lehman's parent company about 21 on the dollar. Elliott has not disclosed the average cost of its Lehman stake, but the holding company debt was trading as low as 9 on the dollar in early 2009, when Elliott began amassing its position. In mid-March that debt was trading at 28; the market evidently expects a larger recovery than the bankruptcy plan anticipates.
Buying defaulted sovereign debt has turned Elliott into something of a bªte noire in international circles. It's also a tactic that has earned the firm big returns. The approach is simple: Buy up the bonds of struggling countries for pennies on the dollar, refuse to go along with offers other investors accept, and aggressively negotiate for every cent with the threat of a lawsuit if not satisfied. The architect of this strategy is Jay Newman, 60, a lawyer who joined Elliott in the mid-1990s after stints running emerging-markets desks at Shearson Lehman Hutton and Morgan Stanley (MS).
One of Elliott's first big successes in deploying the hardball approach was when it bought defaulted Peruvian debt in 1996. Testifying in that case, Singer explained his firm's position: ''Peru would either pay us in full '... or be sued.'' The statement bolstered Peru's argument that Elliott's actions were illegal under what are called ''champerty'' laws, which, Peru claimed, don't allow an investor to buy a claim with the sole purpose of bringing suit. In 1998 a U.S. lower court agreed with Peru. But the ruling '-- and that definition of ''champerty'' '-- was later overturned. In 2000, Elliott was awarded a $58 million judgment, on debt for which it paid about $11.4 million. Elliott later lobbied successfully for the repeal of the state of New York's champerty statute. ''Some of the stuff Elliott does is not good for the international system, but they're incredibly smart players and they are winning,'' says Mitu Gulati, a Duke University law professor.
While Elliott has become known as a sovereign vulture, the firm is selective in determining which countries to target. It has a policy of suing only nations that it believes can afford to pay, according to individuals close to the firm. What it does, Elliott says, is ''go after bad actors.'' In its effort to force Congo-Brazzaville to pay up, Elliott uncovered corruption that eventually led the government to settle for an estimated $90 million on debt for which Elliott paid less than $20 million. Some legal scholars argue that the people in undemocratic countries ruled by corrupt leaders should not have to suffer for their rulers' misdeeds. It's called the ''odious debt'' doctrine. An international movement to cancel all such debt led the U.K. in 2010 to pass a law limiting lawsuits to recover the debts of the poorest nations, including Congo-Brazzaville. While not singling out Elliott, both the IMF and former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson have deplored the practice of extracting large profits from countries in default.
By holding out, Elliott typically earns more than other investors, but that doesn't necessarily mean its peers are complaining. ''Having someone like Elliott out there, figuring out what the documents really mean, is good for the markets,'' says Hans Humes, whose hedge fund Greylock Capital Management invests in distressed sovereign debt but does not go the holdout route.
The biggest challenge to Elliott's sovereign-debt strategy so far has come from Argentina. After the country defaulted on its debt in 2002, Elliott was one of a minority of investors that refused to accept the government's offer of less than 30 on the dollar. Elliott has received judgments against Argentina in numerous courts but has been unable to collect on much of it. The New York Federal Reserve would not release Argentina's central bank assets, and the U.S. Treasury Department sided with the Fed. Elliott has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene.
The stakes are high. Elliott owns Argentine bonds with a face value of $630 million and says they are now worth $2.3 billion with accrued interest, according to court documents. Singer is optimistic that his patience will pay off. ''We made significant progress on the legal front in the Argentina situation [in 2011], and we hope to see the logjam free up in 2012 or shortly thereafter,'' he wrote in the recent report to investors. In February a New York court ruling in Elliott's favor made it even more likely Elliott could collect, saying that Argentina will have to make pro rata payments to Elliott each time it pays investors who participated in previous debt-restructuring deals. Argentina is appealing the decision. Elliott has also taken the issue to Congress, lobbying for legislation that would pressure Argentina to pay off its debtors.
Singer's relentless legal tactics also have cast a shadow over Greece's sovereign-debt restructuring. It's no accident that the law firm representing Greece '-- Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton '-- is the one that also represents Argentina in its fight with Elliott. ''Elliott scares the hell out of the Greeks,'' says one investor close to the Greek negotiations.
Hoping to avoid an Argentina-like battle over central bank reserves, the Greek bond exchange offer specifically stated that such monies could not be used to repay the debt, nor could anything that is considered Greece's cultural heritage. Then there's the collective-action clause, which Greece inserted in the new bonds. Since two-thirds of bondholders accepted the deal, all others were required to go along. Argentina's bonds did not have such a provision. Although there's some noise about hedge funds holding out on foreign-issued Greek bonds, extracting more from cash-strapped Greece is a long shot. Elliott hasn't built up a hold-out position in Greek debt, according to an individual close to the firm. Last year it profited instead by trading Greek credit default swaps.
But Elliott may well find other investments in Europe. ''We do not think that the crisis is remotely over,'' wrote Singer at the end of 2011, calling the euro ''a failed experiment.'' Observes Singer: ''Amidst the danger lies opportunity, and often some of the most profitable trades germinate in such periods of market tumult.'' It sounds like Paul Singer will make out okay, no matter how Mitt Romney does at the voting booth this year.
This story is from the April 9, 2012 issue of Fortune.
Die Weltwoche | Weltwoche Online '' www.weltwoche.ch: Thierry Baudet:''There's a proper reawakening across Europe going on'' | Die Weltwoche, Ausgabe 13/2019
Fri, 29 Mar 2019 00:16
Thierry Baudet
''There's a proper reawakening across Europe going on''Europe is closely eyeing conservative shooting star Thierry Baudet who rose to victory in Dutch regional elections, last week. The hyper-photogenic millennial leader has been labelled by the media as the ''dandy of the Right''. While Eurocrats in Brussels are anxiously abuzz, the suave 36-year-old is sanguine about the future.
In an exclusive interview with DIE WELTWOCHE, Baudet meets me over dinner in Amsterdam. A devoted classicist, Baudet explains why he is opposed to the EU, rejects the green belief as a ''heresy,'' seeks strict limits to immigration Australian style, and disdains pop music (with the exception of the Beatles.) ''We represent a political philosophy that is fundamentally opposed to the principles of the French Revolution,'' says the upstart who boldly declares himself ''the leading intellectual in the Netherlands.'' As he plots his party's next moves for the upcoming European elections in May, he says, ''I think there's a movement going on across European countries, across individual party-lines. It's the belief in a European renaissance.''Thierry Baudet, you and your ''Forum for Democracy'' scored a great victory in the Dutch regional elections. Many media and politicians across Europe were taken by suprise. Did you expect that?
Yes, absolutely! (laughs) I've always known that we were going to win!
Were you expecting to win that big?
Yes. I've always had faith in the Dutch people. I'm not surprised!
What were the indications you would end up as the strongest political force?
Well, we have of course maintained a leading position in the polls for a year and a half. We were basically already projected to win significantly. With a multiparty system, obviously, the success is always dependent on what the other parties do. You can either have one big competitor or several smaller ones. But to me, fundamentally, it doesn't really matter because I consider all the established parties as representatives of the same ideology.I don't see a fundamental difference between the classical Liberal Party (or whatever they call themselves), the Christian Democratic Party, the Labor Party, the Socialist Party and the Green Left Party. To me, all are basically the same. They are all representatives of the "liberal" or "liberalist" philosophy where emancipation of the individual is the ultimate aim. Maximum equality, maximum individual liberty. So, in one sense, we won. We're now the largest party. But if you add all the numbers of votes that all the other parties received, we're not largest, yet.
Your party joined regional elections for the first time, and you won 13 seats.
Yes. We've got 15%, now. But that's not the majority.
Premier Mark Rutte needs to form a new coalition. Does he try everything to exclude you from the government?
We don't know that, yet. I think they might try to encapsulate us, to control us by offering us some favors, some positions. And I think what they hope to do is gradually soften our viewpoints, our fundamentally different approach. That is at least what we're probably going to see in the coming weeks and months.
Are you willing, under certain conditions, to be embedded?
We are willing to compromise for influence. We are very aware that we have a majoritarian system with proportional representation which demands a certain willingness to compromise. We've always said that we are willing to do so. But our position with regards to all the major questions of our time is not gradually different. It's fundamentally different. We represent a political philosophy that is fundamentally different. We want things that are contradictory to the political spectrum that has dominated the West since the French Revolution.
Most of the media portrays you as the shooting star of populism, as a poster boy of right-wing extremism. What can you say about the program that you are promoting?
We further what one can call an 'Australian' immigration model. By that we mean a fundamentally different approach to immigration. No longer are we going to look at how needy possible immigrants are of our support; we are going to ask ourselves if they are likely to contribute in a positive way to our country. We are very willing in terms of aid programs to support refugee shelters wherever in the world. We're very happy to help them there. But when it comes to immigration, to handing out passports to people, that is something that we're no longer going to make dependent on whether or not the person in question comes from a terrible situation at home, but from the answer to the question what he or she is going to bring to us. We have a fundamentally different approach to immigration from what was dominant in the West for the past several decades. We value the nation, our national identity, as a very important and very positive value that we need to protect.
How do you want to implement this new immigration policy while you're a member of the EU?
Well, that's why we want to leave the EU.
After the elections, you said you won a battle. What does it mean for you to win the war?
There's much more to it. I believe that aesthetically, for example, we've chosen the entirely wrong direction in the West. We've left tonal music behind. We've left realist or mimetic painting behind. We've left traditional architecture behind. I'm deeply opposed to the fundamental philosophical principles of modern architecture. I think it's fundamentally wrong.
You want to turn the clock back?
When did this train fall off the rail?
I think one has to go back to the principles of the French Revolution which are equality, liberty, and fraternity. They have led to the two major emancipation movements '-- socialism and liberalism '-- and both are fundamentally flawed. The derailment, in turn, has come in waves. Modernism, a renewal of the radical elements in the French Revolution, which kicked in right after the First World War, set in motion yet another wave of mistakes. And then came the '60s. So, there have been several moments in the past two centuries.
Socialism, liberalism... Where do you see conservatism in play?
It's the philosophy that starts from the understanding that we are paradoxical beings. We want to be free and, at the same time, we want to be embedded. We want to be individuals, but we also want to be members of a group. In a proper society, there's an equilibrium there, a delicate balance that has culminated in what we might call ''the individual properly understood.'' This reached its apex, I believe, in the eighteenth century, and was venerated in that great ''swan song of aristocracy'', the nineteenth century. But now the individual has, of course, been ''liberated'' to an extent that we feel deeply atomized and unhappy. We don't know how to get back to the community anymore.
The topic that shaped your world view is ''oikophobia.'' It is a term coined by your mentor, the conservative philosopher Roger Scruton: denying or hating your own culture. Is this what 'oikophobia' means?
Yes. I think that under the influence of cultural Marxism, which started in the 1920s and became dominant in the 60s, intellectuals, politicians, artists, academics, journalists and, as such, the entire elite of our society have been bewitched by that idea. They came to believe that what stands in the way of utopia '-- whether a communist utopia or a liberal utopia '-- is bourgeois society, bourgeois traditions, the bourgeois way of life of ordinary people. That is why Le Corbusier wanted to destroy the entire Rive Droite of Paris. That is why all who opposed mass-immigration where denounced in the most vile ways. And that is why national identities had to be resolved into a ''European Union.'' Because, if you remember the Communist Manifesto, Marx and Engels considered those to be part of a bourgeois reality that hindered the formation of ''true'' loyalties between the laborers all around the world.
''Oikophobia'': Is that a scientific term? Is there scientific research it is based on?
It's a sociological term. I don't think that quantitative empirical research is very meaningful in the social sciences.
You call yourself ''the leading intellectual in the Netherlands''.
(Laughs) I've said that many times!
You're fighting the elite, and, at the same time, you are a crown jewel of the elite?
How do you break a sophisticated philosophical content down to the common people, your electors, your voters? Do they understand what you mean to say?
I think they understand that.
They understand what you just said? That is pretty sophisticated.
Yes. I think they instinctively understand that.
When you speak to the people, how do you bring your message across?
The same way that I'm now bringing it across to you. Of course, the exact wording and focus depends on the kind of audience that I have in front of me and on the kind of questions they ask. But I think, in general, people are very capable to get the point that someone is trying to make. And I don't think that all the misunderstandings that the newspapers fabricate resonate very strongly with the general people. Theirs is a kind of scholasticism. In the 13th century, monks would debate for years on end how many angels would fit on a needlepoint. These scholastic debates, that's what we have in the newspapers today. Like, ''Is the speech that Mr. Baudet gave an echo of Italian fascism, or is it more like Francoism, or is it rather Germany in the 30s?'' That kind of thing. The general public is like, "What?" They understand that all such comparisons are just ridiculous. They're making it up to show their fellow journalists how 'righteous' they are. The general people, they see someone who cares about their country, who has the intellectual inventory to fight the people currently in power.
Before the interview, you said that you gave a speech in November 2016 praising Donald Trump.
Yes. That was two and a half years ago. I met my fianc(C)e on that day. It was just a week after he was elected.
Donald Trump is known for very sharp and abrupt rhetoric. He's very repetitive. He's hitting the nail several times. When I listen to you, you are pretty much the opposite the way you are talking, the way you are expressing yourself.
Despite that, I hope I'll be successful too. (Laughs)
Well, you just have been amazingly successful.
But I have been very repetitive too, my friend. Don't overestimate me. On our campaign trail I've been saying pretty much the same things, and I've been using the same examples over and over again for more than a year and a half now.
Which are?
The main themes of our campaign for the past elections were stopping uncontrolled immigration, fighting climate mysticism, and restoring purchasing power. Of course, we're going to have slightly different topics for the upcoming European elections. But, again, the main philosophy, and the main arguments, will remain the same.
How did you succeed against this current hype of green environment politics?
By just speaking the truth. I don't know how to answer this question in any other way. I simply declared I didn't believe in it. The green faith, in my view, is a heresy, it's a classical heresy, an immanent political theology. Mind you, it all comes down basically to a retelling of the Ark of Noah with an upcoming flood because of our sins, which we can then prevent by repenting. I believe that around the year 1000 we were caught up in similar fantasies.
In general, conservative parties don't dare to say this. They go with the green wave.
They are dhimmis. They submit to the parameters the left has set for acceptable discussion, for acceptable opinion. They succumb to the 'grand narrative' of their opponents. That's never a very smart thing to do. We, on the contrary, openly say that we are fundamentally opposed not just to their policy proposals, but also to their underlying assumptions. That's also why I don't say I want EU reform. and by the way I believe such reform to be impossible in the first place - David Cameron has clearly shown that. But we are not just against this or that aspect of the EU, this or that directive, we think the very philosophy that underlies it is wrong. The very idea that we should go beyond national identities and have some kind of ''European'' bureaucracy that manages our lives. Everything that is pertaining to the EU must therefore, in the end, be unraveled. The euro, the open borders, the common policies regarding fishing. The same is true for the whole climate change thing.
You mean that the climate change is man-made, for instance?
Yes. The whole thing is wrong. The whole thing about immigration is wrong, too. The parameters of the current political debate are fundamentally wrong.
What exactly is wrong with immigration?
The idea that we're all travelers, that we're all migrants, that we all come from Africa in the end and that therefore it doesn't really matter how many of people we are now letting in to our countries. Or, take the idea that we have to admit people on the basis of some UN Refugee Treaty. That's just wrong. The whole idea is wrong. Someone obtains a right to be my fellow citizen because he or she is in a bad situation somewhere? I don't feel that. I don't think it's true. I don't want it.
I've observed from the distance that you are on the offensive with a tremendous amount of energy and will. Where do you take your energy from?
Classical music.
Which one?
Quite simply the entire classical tradition, from Bach and Mozart and Beethoven all the way to Brahms and Strauss and Wagner.
Is there a certain type of music you listen to when you go in a debate?
No, not particularly. But classical music has shaped my identity in a decisive way. It has shaped my aesthetic sensibilities, my philosophical outlook. I don't think it's possible to understand Europe and to understand the intimacies, the incredibly subtleties of the European spirit, without a deep understanding of European art. It's exemplary of the wickedness of the left and of the European Union, of liberal philosophy and globalist views, that they are so supportive of modern art and modern architecture, that they listen to pop music and propagate 'ghetto' lifestyles.
You don't listen to pop music?
Of course not. (laughs) It's impossible to listen to it!
Not even Rolling Stones or Beatles?
Well, I make an exception for the Beatles, but not for the Rolling Stones. The Beatles are the best fast food we have, let's say. But, still, it's like a McDonald's burger compared to an actual meal.
Aren't you fighting windmills with this attitude?
Absolutely. I'm very much against windmills. I want all the windmills out of the Netherlands. Except for the old ones, of course. (laughs).
But more to the point'...
Well, it's obviously true that the general public has always had folklore, and I don't expect 17 million people in the Netherlands to be able to reproduce the finer harmonic intricacies of Schumann's Piano Concerto. But society needs an elite that leads the way.
Can you tell me what is at stake right now?
Western, Judeo Christian civilization?
I'm not sure it's very relevant to add the adjective ''western.'' It's just civilization we're fighting for. The good, the true, and the beautiful.
But what are the pillars of civilization?
Well, I think ultimately the aesthetic is the highest criterion. Our movement, like every political movement, is therefore also an aesthetic one. And true beauty, in my view, recognizes both the uniqueness of the individual, of every single individual in his or her individual life story, yet it also offers a language, a musical language or a grammatical language, or indeed a visual language, that implies a common frame of reference. So the problem of embeddedness, the problem of the modern world, you could say, is implied in the approach one takes to the arts.
The point of the several arts and crafts movements that arose in response to the industrialization in the second part of the 19th century, was that despite mass-production, and mass-society, and urbanization, and so on, we still need to feel embedded. That is why ornaments and facades, as well as the use of natural materials, were considered so important: they helped engender a proper sense of home for the spiritually homeless. The problem with modern architecture is that it emphasizes the ordinariness in such a way that it completely atomizes people. You can't tell the difference between the modernist buildings in Brussels from those in Kuala Lumpur and Pyongyang. Nor can you spot a difference between the individual apartments or offices in each of those buildings: they are all completely interchangeable and that makes people very unhappy, I believe, because they become completely interchangeable individuals in their mass apartment blocks. People want to have a house that is theirs. Even though such a house may not be very specific, or very grand, it is still their house, their place on earth, ideally with a little piece of land around it, with a neighbourhood they connect with '-- in short, something that makes them feel that they belong somewhere, that they have a certain place of origin and are part of a certain destiny.
How were you brought up?
I grew up in an entirely 19th century manner. I grew up in a very old fashioned family.
Normally, teenagers will rebel against their parents. Have you ever gone through that rebellious phase?
No. And I don't agree that that's normal. I simply don't think it's true. All this ''rebellion'' has been a very specific historical phenomenon that occurred in the '60s and '70s and was induced by teachers from a very specific philosophical school '-- the Frankfurt School that disseminated Cultural Marxism '-- and I think it will be regarded by future generation with great suspicion. In my view, it is entirely normal for children to love their parents, to be excited at the prospect of taking up responsibilities and to have pride in being part of a long chain of ancestry and offspring. So, I don't think it's normal for youngsters to be ''rebels without a cause'' and listen to Bob Marley while cursing their parents. And what I think has happened is that the current generation '-- i.e. my generation '-- has copied (entirely in line with my view) their parent's ideas, in this case, their flawed ideas about the necessity to rebel. But finding nothing to rebel against they ended up with nihilistic pursuits. Wanting to be loyal to their parents by rebelling they just started smoking marijuana.
Can I perhaps raise a topic you haven't mentioned? I think there's something your readers want to hear about.
We are witnessing now, throughout the West, so not just in Europe but also in the United States, the development of a new vocabulary of political discourse. The names or the labels that people are trying to find for it are populism, or conservatism, or nationalism, or whatever.
In each country we see politicians and writers and pundits that are trying to develop a new approach to politics and society which includes the cultural narrative, which includes the national traditions and recognizes the shared heritage of our shared civilization, our shared Western world.
And the great thing about this is that the people are so happy about these new leaders who are speaking about completely different values, who are forcing the establishment to have a debate on completely different terms. That's what Donald Trump did by bringing up issues a pollster would say, ''Don't go there. Don't go there.'' And that's what we did in the Netherlands by making opposition to climate policies our main electoral theme. The winning ticket is bluntly to say that we don't believe in their stuff anymore. That we want something completely different.
It's a paradigm shift.
Exactly. A paradigm shift. That's what's we're in for. Whether we are going to win these elections or the next, we see it everywhere in Europe now and that's very encouraging. Also, that is why I am looking forward so much to cooperating with other European parties. I think there's a movement going on across European countries, across individual party-lines. Rather like Romanticism, or the Reformation. A proper European movement.
What is it called?
If someone would have told Voltaire that he was considered a leading figure of the Enlightenment, he would have laughed. He would have said, ''Enlightenment? What are you talking about?''
Can you define that movement a little bit?
I have proposed to call it Renaissancism. That's the label that I sometimes use in the Netherlands. It's the belief in a reawakening of the European spirit.
But what is the common ground of us in Switzerland, you in the Netherlands, and for example the Swedes. What are the elements that bind us together?
Well, that's a very interesting question, of course. Is our behavior explained by nature or nurture? It's an ongoing debate between social scientists and biologists. Is it because of genetic material or is it because of culture that we tend to respond to the outside world in our typical manner? The last word has not been said about this. What explains behavior? It's an interesting question, but I'm not a Nobel Laureate.
What I'm looking for is a common source. Is it a way of looking at life? Is it an outlook? Is it a source that we all drink from? Is it an ancient culture?
You seem to be looking for a simple answer, like saying it must be the Bible, or, it must be Plato, or, it must be Beethoven.''
That's too simple for you?
I know that a certain way of life has developed somewhere and I wish to protect it.
Finally, let's focus on the May elections. Will you change anything in your agenda and your campaign?
I think the most important thing for the upcoming elections is to formulate our position as a positive one. We're not merely against the EU; we are also for European values, European culture, and European cooperation.
The European elections are about sending members to the European parliament. Why do you try to get elected to a parliament that you are actually against? Shouldn't you boycott the elections altogether?
Yes. [Laughs and looks to his assistant.] What should we answer to that question? (Then serious again:) What I like about the thing that's going on right now is this: because a new political discourse is emerging, we see radical changes in the political establishment in almost every European country. I feel deeply European, but not supportive of the EU. So, I see the EU platform, now, as a meeting ground for allies. I'm very excited that we are going to work together with people from France, Spain, Italy, Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic, et cetera.
Have you already made contact?
Yes. I've been in touch with people from those countries for years. It's not that we're anti-cooperation or anti-European. It's just that we don't think that we need a continental bureaucracy to manage our lives in every detail. And one of the most exciting and hopeful developments that I've witnessed in my entire life is this European spring that's going on. There's something new emerging and it's broader than just Europe. It's the West. We also see it in America, in Brazil, in Australia.That's what I call a renaissance, or an awakening, or a gathering. Whatever term historians may find for it, I believe that we are part of a movement in the entire Western world that is going to change the direction that all our countries are going to take in the coming two generations.
What makes you so sure about that?
It's a hope.
How do you get the maximum attention? Is there a strategy?
No. I'm just being myself. I speak the truth, or even better: we are honest in our search for the truth. Our electorate understands that. We have identified a direction. We're pretty clear about certain parameters of it. We're very convinced that continental governance from Brussels is not the way forward. That mass immigration from Africa is not the way to improve our societies. And when it comes to something you asked about '-- what the defining characteristics of European aesthetics are, for example '-- we are happy to enter into an open discussion with others.I think movements that have attempted to pin down esthetic principles and have tried to force them on the outside world '-- like Fascism, for example '-- have totally failed. I mean, Fascist architecture, to me, is very obviously missing the point, right? It shows that fascism is, at heart, a modernist movement. It's an oikophobic futurism, not a traditionalism. But all of this can be part of a conversation. And I think our voters feel that we are willing to enter into that conversation with them. To make a final point about Switzerland, what I admire about Switzerland is that, through the referendum system, it has maintained an ongoing conversation between the elites and the people. And that's just great. That's what I want for my country, too.
The interview was conducted Monday March 25th in Amsterdam.
Thierry Baudet (1983) is the founder and current political leader of the ''Forum for Democracy'' (FVD, Forum voor Democratie). In the general elections of 2017 his newly founded party won two seats in the House of Representatives, Baudet being one of the elected. In the provincial elections on March, held on March 20th, 2019, FVD became the strongest party in the Netherlands. He holds a Ph.D. degree in Law and has authored ten books, among them ''The Significance of Borders'' (2012), two novels, an introduction into Classical Music and several collections of essays.
Regime change ramp-up? Guaido announces Venezuela-wide 'tactical action' against Maduro
Fri, 29 Mar 2019 08:23
US-backed Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido has announced "tactical actions" by his supporters will begin next week after a nationwide protest, part of his "Operation Freedom" designed to topple President Nicolas Maduro.
The ominously vague "tactical action" relies on the organization of so-called "Aid and Freedom Committees," according to a tweet from Guaido which scheduled the event for April 6. The committees, planned civilian "freedom cells" he set up across Venezuela with the help of opposition lawmakers in recent weeks, will supposedly rise up when he gives the signal, ultimately marching on the Miraflores presidential palace '' where President Maduro has stubbornly remained despite Guaido's self-coronation in January.
Guaido officially announced "Operation Freedom" earlier this month, advertising it as a "full-fledged revolution in all states of Venezuela simultaneously." After the freedom and aid committees come "labor and sectoral committees" in the public and private sectors, to be followed by "constitutional forces" within the Venezuelan army '' which with its continued loyalty to Maduro remains the primary thorn in Guaido's side. Impatient with the military's failure to join his coup, Guaido has hinted he is open to foreign military intervention. Meanwhile, for the US, "all options remain on the table."
Guaido also called for a nationwide protest on Saturday, though it's unclear how much popular support he actually enjoys among rank-and-file Venezuelans. His motorcade was ambushed on Tuesday in an act the US was quick to blame on Maduro.
Venezuelan regime-change dog-whistling has ramped up steeply in the past few weeks, as the country is repeatedly plunged into darkness by blackouts Maduro blames on outside interference. While Washington dismisses the accusations and says the fault lies with neglected infrastructure, using power outages as a tool to foster rebellion is something straight out of the playbook of a US-funded regime-change organization.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) has hinted the worst is yet to come, tweeting that Venezuela will soon "enter a period of suffering no nation in our hemisphere has confronted in modern history."
Maduro arrested Guaido's chief of staff Roberto Marrero last week and charged the opposition with contracting Guatemalan and Colombian paramilitaries in order to carry out assassinations, sabotage, and acts of terrorism. He blamed the US, calling Marrero's group an "armed terrorist cell."
I spy: How Android phones keep tabs on our every move
Fri, 29 Mar 2019 08:24
As a consumer, you buy a new Android cellphone. It could be any brand, but it is likely to be an Android as they account for more than 80% of today's cellphone market. You open the box, press the ''On'' button and the phone connects to the internet. Without further ado, you have just triggered the most sophisticated surveillance machine to date for monitoring your routines.
It no longer matters whether you have downloaded Facebook or activated a Google account, or given permission to some app or anti-virus program to access your contacts, camera and microphone. Whatever you do from that moment on, your new cellphone will be sharing details of your activity with the rest of the world. The software that comes pre-installed is the most accurate resource on your phone for predicting where you might be, what you might download, what messages you might send and what music you might listen to.
''The pre-installed apps are an indication of another reality: agreements between actors (manufacturers, data traders, mobile operators and advertisers) for added value, but also for commercial ends,'' says Juan Tapiador, a professor at Carlos III University in Madrid and co-author of the study on this alarming situation, along with Narseo Vallina-Rodr­guez from IMDEA Networks and the International Computer Science Institute at Berkeley University.
While none of the findings are in themselves earth-shattering '' we already know, for example, that cellphones walk a fine line when it comes to compiling and sharing data '' what they do reveal is the extent of pre-installed apps' reach, their lack of transparency, and their privileged position within the devices. Researchers analyzed 1,742 phones made by 214 manufacturers in 130 countries.
''Until now, research on the risks to privacy from cellphones has been focused on apps that are listed on Google Play or malware,'' says Vallina. Instead, he and Tapiador analyzed the pre-installed apps on standard cellphones and it turns out that, due to a complex ecosystem of manufacturers, mobile operators, app developers and service providers, the guarantees offered by Android are looking less than foolproof.
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Data protection: I spy: How Android phones keep tabs on our every move | In English | EL PAS
Fri, 29 Mar 2019 08:30
As a consumer, you buy a new Android cellphone. It could be any brand, but it is likely to be an Android as they account for more than 80% of today's cellphone market. You open the box, press the ''On'' button and the phone connects to the internet. Without further ado, you have just triggered the most sophisticated surveillance machine to date for monitoring your routines.
It no longer matters whether you have downloaded Facebook or activated a Google account, or given permission to some app or anti-virus program to access your contacts, camera and microphone. Whatever you do from that moment on, your new cellphone will be sharing details of your activity with the rest of the world. The software that comes pre-installed is the most accurate resource on your phone for predicting where you might be, what you might download, what messages you might send and what music you might listen to.
It is the scale of it that makes it so serious: we are talking about hundreds of thousands of millions of Android phones
Juan Tapiador, professor and co-author of study
''The pre-installed apps are an indication of another reality: agreements between actors (manufacturers, data traders, mobile operators and advertisers) for added value, but also for commercial ends,'' says Juan Tapiador, a professor at Carlos III University in Madrid and co-author of the study on this alarming situation, along with Narseo Vallina-Rodr­guez from IMDEA Networks and the International Computer Science Institute at Berkeley University.
While none of the findings are in themselves earth-shattering '' we already know, for example, that cellphones walk a fine line when it comes to compiling and sharing data '' what they do reveal is the extent of pre-installed apps' reach, their lack of transparency, and their privileged position within the devices. Researchers analyzed 1,742 phones made by 214 manufacturers in 130 countries.
''Until now, research on the risks to privacy from cellphones has been focused on apps that are listed on Google Play or malware,'' says Vallina. Instead, he and Tapiador analyzed the pre-installed apps on standard cellphones and it turns out that, due to a complex ecosystem of manufacturers, mobile operators, app developers and service providers, the guarantees offered by Android are looking less than foolproof.
The research is to be published in detail on April 1 and will be presented at one of the biggest global cyber security and privacy conferences in the world, the 41st IEEE Symposium on Security & Privacy, in California.
The authors gave EL PAS an early look at the study, which shows how our personal data is sent to a broad network of interested parties, which generally includes servers belonging to the cellphone's manufacturer, companies that are regularly accused of harvesting our personal data such as Facebook and Google, but also to a murky world of big corporations and start-ups that package it, tag it and sell it on to whoever offers the right price.
Our personal information is sent to a broad network of interested parties, some of which are controversial
In a research project on an unprecedented scale, Tapiador and Vallina created the app Firmware Scanner to pick up the pre-installed software on the cellphones of volunteers. The open code of Android's operating system means that any manufacturer can have this version of it along with other pre-installed apps. A cellphone can have more than 100 pre-installed apps and a further 100 that are third-party libraries included in the code, many of which are specialized in monitoring the user and in advertising.
It is, in effect, an international landscape of hundreds of thousands of apps with common, dubious, unknown, dangerous and potentially criminal uses '' a chaotic environment of mass surveillance with only the tip of the iceberg revealed by the year-long research.
A jigsaw of partsAn Android cellphone is not produced by just one manufacturer. The chip comes from one company and the updates of the operating system will possibly be outsourced to another, while separate software will be added by the mobile operators and distributors. There are a lot more players involved in the final product than the name on the box might suggest, although the final control of all the software belongs to the brand, which may or may not have privileged access to the user's data.
The result is an ecosystem so complex that all the players can sidestep the responsibility of where our personal data ends up. Google created the open-code platform but this is now available to everyone. And what belongs to everyone belongs to no one. ''The world of Android is like the jungle or the Wild West, particularly in countries with little regulation for the protection of personal data,'' says Tapiador.
Vallina adds, ''There is no supervision on what is imported and sold within the European Union when it comes to software, and to a large extent hardware too.''
Consequently, each version of our Android cellphones tells its base what we are up to from the moment we turn it on, without skipping a beat. The problem is not only what is said about us, but also that the user has no control over the management of personal data.
Google Play's permissionsThe companies that compile consumer data for advertisers already have access to user data via Google Play's regular apps. So why do they seek to reach agreements with manufacturers allowing them to be part of the pre-installed software?
Imagine our data is stored in a house that has several floors. The Google Play apps would look like windows that we can open and close. Sometimes we let the data out and sometimes not. That depends on each user's decision on how to manage their personal data. But what this user cannot know is that Android cellphones come with a door that is wide open all the time, making the windows irrelevant.
There is no supervision on what is imported and sold within the European Union when it comes to software, and to a large extent hardware too
Narseo Vallina-Rodr­guez, co-author of study
Pre-installed software is always there. We cannot eliminate it from the device without breaking the protection offered by the system; but this is something beyond the scope of the average user.
Apps downloaded from Google Play come with the option of data management. For example, it might say: ''Allow your new free game to have access to your microphone?'' Or: ''Allow your app to access your location to improve its productivity?'' If we decide there are too many permission requests, we can simply scrub the app from our phone. Google apps have their own service terms and need to ask explicit permission before acting. The user is ultimately responsible for the management of their data.
But pre-installed apps reside below the radar of the indexed apps in the store, and in many cases their permission agreement is incorporated into the operating system. ''Google Play is a garden that has a gate that is shut and policed, but 91% of the pre-installed apps that we have seen are not in Google Play,'' says Tapiador. And outside Google Play, no one is aware of what is going on in their phone.
Additional problemsPre-installed software has two further problems; first, it is inside an operating system that has access to all the cellphone's functions and, secondly, these apps can be automatically updated, which allows them to mutate. The operating system is the cellphone's brain. It has constant access to everything and it automatically updates. And these updates are important because a manufacturer might have given permission to a company to be on its mobile code for something innocuous. Then two months later, this can be updated, adding permission for other things such as recording conversations and accessing messages.
The pre-installed apps are easy for their creators to update; when the needs of the tracking company change, the creators can introduce new software and new instructions. The owner of the cellphone is powerless to stop that from happening; there is no permission request; the operating system is simply updated.
The user does not know that Android cellphones come with a door on their personal data that is wide open
''Some of these apps call home base asking for instructions, and they pass along information from the device where they are installed. At times, this information is massive and includes the technical characteristics of the phone, unique identifiers, location, contacts, messages and emails,'' says Tapiador. ''All this is picked up by a server, which decides what to do with this. According to the country the device is in, the server could decide to install one app or another, or send the user certain ads over others. We discovered this by analyzing the code and the behavior of the apps.''
The server that receives the information could be the manufacturer or a social network that sells publicity to unknown data traders, or even an unidentifiable IP address.
At times, this information is massive and includes the technical characteristics of the phone, unique identifiers, location, contacts, messages and emails
Juan Tapiador
One risk is that these obscure pre-installed apps can use the custom permissions to expose information to Play Store apps. The custom permissions are a tool that Android offers to software developers so that the apps share data with them. For example, if an operator or a bank service has a number of them, it is legal for them to talk between themselves and share data. But at times it is not easy to discover which data is being shared by which pieces of software.
In a new cellphone, there could, for example, be a pre-installed app that has access to the camera, contacts and microphone. This app was programmed, say, by Wang Snchez and it bears a certificate with his public code and signature. It is apparently legitimate but nobody can confirm whether Wang Snchez's certificate is bona fide. This app is always on and it clocks the location, activates the microphone and stores the recordings. But it does not send the information to any server because Wang Snchez's app does not have permission to send anything through the internet. What it does do is declare a custom permission that regulates access to the data and whoever else has this permission can get ahold of the data.
The owner of this cellphone might go to Google Play Store one day and find a fabulous sports app. The only official permission that has been asked for has been access to the internet, which is absolutely normal for apps. But the sports app also asks for the custom permission of the Wang Snchez app. The sports app is not aware these permissions are not shown to the user. So the first thing it will say to the pre-installed app is, ''Do you live here? Give me access to the microphone and the camera.'' It was apparently a risk-free app, but the complexities of the system of permissions means these kinds of scenarios are common.
Governments and the industry have been aware for years of this process. The US federal agencies ask for their cellphones to come with operating systems that are free of pre-installed software. But ordinary citizens needs to wise up. Their data is not safe. ''Having regulatory control over all the possible versions of Android on the market would be almost unmanageable,'' says Vallina. ''It would require a very expensive and extensive analysis.''
The bottom line is that we carry a massively sophisticated surveillance machine in our pockets.
The app authors The authors of these apps are a huge mystery. In fact, Tapiador and Vallina's research has revealed something not unlike the dark web. There are, for example, apps that are signed by Google, which are unlikely to belong to Google. ''Working out who the authors are has been an almost manual task, looking at who has signed each one and if it has any kind of chain that can be linked to a library or known manufacturer,'' says Vallina, who explains that while many send acceptable information to manufacturers or big companies, many others hide behind fake names.
The information they send out is easily linked to a particular telephone number or to personal data. The phone's SIM and dozens of apps linked to the email or to social media accounts easily reveal the origin of the data.
English version by Heather Galloway.
George Clooney: Boycott Sultan Of Brunei's Hotels Laws Against LGBTQs | Deadline
Fri, 29 Mar 2019 13:26
George Clooney has a long relationship with Deadline, often on matters beyond film and television. In a guest column, he calls for the immediate boycott of the Beverly Hills Hotel, the Hotel Bel-Air and six others to protest the imminent legalization of laws that make it open season on the LGBTQ community in Brunei.
The date April 3rd has held a unique place in our history over the years. Theologians and astronomers will tell you that Christ was crucified on that date. On April 3rd Harry Truman signed the Marshall Plan, arguably the greatest postwar intervention in the history of man. The first portable cellphone call was made on April 3rd. Marlon Brando was born on that day.
But this April 3rd will hold its own place in history. On this particular April 3rd the nation of Brunei will begin stoning and whipping to death any of its citizens that are proved to be gay. Let that sink in. In the onslaught of news where we see the world backsliding into authoritarianism this stands alone.
Brunei isn't a significant country. Its population is less than 500,000 people, pretty small in relation to most of its neighbors, The Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia. But Brunei has oil. This year it was ranked as the 5th richest nation by Forbes. Good for them. Of course they haven't had an election since 1962 and have adopted the most extreme version of Sharia law so, not so good for them. At the head of it all is the Sultan of Brunei who is one of the richest men in the world. The Big Kahuna. He owns the Brunei Investment Agency and they in turn own some pretty spectacular hotels.
A couple of years ago two of those hotels in Los Angeles, The Bel-Air and The Beverly Hills Hotel were boycotted by many of us for Brunei's treatment of the gay community. It was effective to a point. We cancelled a big fundraiser for the Motion Picture Retirement Home that we'd hosted at the Beverly Hills Hotel for years. Lots of individuals and companies did the same. But like all good intentions when the white heat of outrage moves on to the hundred other reasons to be outraged, the focus dies down and slowly these hotels get back to the business of business. And the Brunei Investment Agency counts on that. They own nine of the most exclusive hotels in the world. Full disclosure: I've stayed at many of them, a couple of them recently, because I hadn't done my homework and didn't know who owned them.
They're nice hotels. The people who work there are kind and helpful and have no part in the ownership of these properties. But let's be clear, every single time we stay at or take meetings at or dine at any of these nine hotels we are putting money directly into the pockets of men who choose to stone and whip to death their own citizens for being gay or accused of adultery. Brunei is a Monarchy and certainly any boycott would have little effect on changing these laws. But are we really going to help pay for these human rights violations? Are we really going to help fund the murder of innocent citizens? I've learned over years of dealing with murderous regimes that you can't shame them. But you can shame the banks, the financiers and the institutions that do business with them and choose to look the other way.
Below I've listed the nine hotels. It's up to each of us what we want to do.
George Clooney
The Dorchester, London45 Park Lane, LondonCoworth Park, UKThe Beverly Hills Hotel, Beverly HillsHotel Bel-Air, Los AngelesLe Meurice, ParisHotel Plaza Athenee, ParisHotel Eden, RomeHotel Principe di Savoia, Milan
Admissions Scam
Parents headed to court in college admissions cheating scam - KWWL
Fri, 29 Mar 2019 19:15
BOSTON (AP) '-- More than a dozen parents charged in a nationwide college admissions cheating scheme are due in court.
They are expected to make initial appearances Friday in federal court in Boston.
They're among 33 prominent parents charged in what authorities have called the biggest college admissions scam ever prosecuted.
Authorities say the parents paid an admission consultant to rig their children's test scores and bribe coaches at sought-after schools.
Actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin, who are charged in the case, are not scheduled to appear in court until next week. They have not publicly addressed the allegations.
On Thursday, former Yale University women's soccer coach Rudy Meredith became the third person to plead guilty in the case.
The admissions consultant at the center of the scheme has also pleaded guilty.
Inmates in Finland are training AI as part of prison labor - The Verge
Thu, 28 Mar 2019 20:34
''Prison labor'' is usually associated with physical work, but inmates at two prisons in Finland are doing a new type of labor: classifying data to train artificial intelligence algorithms for a startup. Though the startup in question, Vainu, sees the partnership as a kind of prison reform that teaches valuable skills, other experts say it plays into the exploitative economics of prisoners being required to work for very low wages.
Vainu is building a comprehensive database of companies around the world that helps businesses find contractors to work with, says co-founder Tuomas Rasila. For this to work, people need to read through hundreds of thousands of business articles scraped from the internet and label whether, for example, an article is about Apple the tech company or a fruit company that has ''apple'' in the name. (This labeled data is then used to train an algorithm that manages the database.)
That's no problem for articles in English: Vainu simply set up an Amazon Mechanical Turk account to have people do these small tasks. But Mechanical Turk is ''not really that useful when you want to do something [with the] Finnish language,'' Rasila says, and the company had only one trainee tagging lots of data in the Finnish language. ''We saw that and said, 'okay, this is not going to be enough,'' he adds. The Vainu offices happen to be in the same building as the headquarters of the Criminal Sanctions Agency (CSA), the government agency that oversees Finnish prisons, and so, says Rasila, the founders had an idea: ''Hey, we could actually use prison labor.''
The partnership started about three months ago and Vainu is now working with two different prisons, one in Helsinki and one in Turku. Vainu shipped 10 computers to these prisons and pays the CSA for each task the prisoners complete. The amount is comparable to how much the startup would have paid for a task done on Mechanical Turk, though the CSA is responsible for figuring out how much of that goes to the prisoners, as well as selecting the inmates who do the data classification.
''Hey, we could actually use prison labor''
Officials at the agency were excited to partner, according to Rasila, especially because the new jobs don't require anything other than a laptop. ''There's no risk for violence,'' he says, adding that when it comes to other forms of prison labor, like metalsmithing, access to tools that can be turned into makeshift weapons can make a prison workspace ''a dangerous place.'' Rasila estimates that, currently, a little less than 100 prisoners are working on Vainu's project for a few hours a day. (A representative from the CSA did not respond to a request for comment.)
Right now, Vainu and the CSA have an annual contract based on the number of tasks. The Vainu team hopes to expand elsewhere in Finland, and other countries where it can be hard to find people willing to do this type of work in local languages. To them, it's a win-win situation. One motivation for the inmates is to make money, of course, but ''a selling point of this was that the demand for training AI is actually increasing significantly, globally,'' Rasila says. Similarly, the CSA wrote in a release that the program is part of its efforts to develop work activities that match ''the requirements of modern working life,'' and a PR representative pitched the partnership to The Verge as ''an opportunity for inmates to have a job that can empower them.''
It's not surprising, either, that there would be an especially high demand for this type of work in other countries, according to Lilly Irani, a professor of communication at the University of California at San Diego. AI algorithms need to be trained in culturally specific ways, she says, and most Mechanical Turk workers are in the US.
Though Rasila says that this is an example of developing skills that can be useful in the future, he also says that the tasks have ''zero learning curve'' and only require (presumably pre-existing) literacy, which calls into question how useful this skill is. This type of job tends to be ''rote, menial, and repetitive,'' says Sarah T. Roberts, a professor of information science at the University of California at Los Angeles who studies information workers. It does not require building high level of skill, and if a university researcher tried to partner with prison laborers in the same way, ''that would not pass an ethics review board for a study.'' While it's good that the prisoners are being paid a similar wage as on Mechanical Turk, Roberts points out that wages on Mechanical Turk are extremely low anyway. One recent research paper found that workers made a median wage of $2 an hour.
For Irani, there's nothing special about AI in this story. In the US at least, prison labor has long been controversial, with some saying that it economically exploits workers while others argue that it can help rehabilitate them. To her, the public relations push around the collaboration is more surprising than the fact that digital work has become part of prison labor. ''The hook is that we have this kind of hype circulating around AI so that we can masquerade really old forms of labor exploitation as 'reforming prisons,''' Irani says. ''They're connecting social movements, reducing it to hype, and using that to sell AI.''
Prisoners to train artificial intelligence as part of developing work activities - Rikosseuraamuslaitos
Fri, 29 Mar 2019 19:10
Vainu's business is based on information search. The company reads approximately 20,000 Finnish text contents a day that deal with companies. The texts can be news or documents picked up from company websites, the social media or elsewhere.
The duty of the prisoners is to train artificial intelligence so that it finds correct data for Vainu. The prisoners participating in the work activities answer simple questions such as: "Does this article talk about a business acquisition?". The same question is repeated several times for different people, which produces high-quality material for training Vainu's artificial intelligence. As a result, Vainu's company database will expand and its customers working on business sales are able to select their targets better.
The pilot currently includes two prisons, in which a total of 10 workstations have been set aside for the work at this point. The Criminal Sanctions Agency has been constantly developing prison work, focusing on the rehabilitative aspect of the work and on training prisoners in the skills needed in future working life. The new work concept is interesting especially in this respect.
"Artificial intelligence offers new opportunities '' even in prisons. Machine learning can also be utilised in prisoner employment. The utilisation of technologies based on artificial intelligence changes the current idea about working life and the skills needed there. In the future, electronic services and operating environments allow working from the prison using a computer to teach artificial intelligence, for example, as in this pilot", says Special Counsellor Olli-Pekka Palonen, who supervises prisoners' work in Turku Prison.
A learning environment for a crime-free lifePrison work plays an important role in helping prisoners to lead a crime-free life and become integrated with society. Development Manager Pauli Nieminen from the Criminal Sanctions Agency points out that all services, activities and rehabilitation arranged in prisons act as a path towards a crime-free life. Future prisons will also act as learning environments for leading a crime-free life.
"Right now we are seeking to introduce a learning element to work activities. In addition to participating in work, prisoners can complete degrees or their parts. A large number of new professions will be created on the labour market in the next few years. The intention is to train prisoners in fields where there will be shortage of workforce in the future. The cooperation to be launched with Vainu is one example of a new path to working life. The Criminal Sanctions Agency is highly interested in pursuing even broader cooperation with companies. If prisoners can directly enter working life after release from prison, the risk of committing crime will be substantially smaller", Nieminen says.
In addition to routine prison work, thought has been given to introduce work to which prisoners can be easily inducted and that can also be performed by prisoners with short sentences.
"This type of new work could also be of use in assessing the working ability and functional capacity of prisoners. The intention is to develop such assessments in work activities in prisons. By observing the fluency of different types of tasks, it is possible to obtain information on the capabilities of prisoners and possibly also on their problems", believes Special Adviser Satu Rahkila from the Central Administration Unit of the Criminal Sanctions Agency.
Further information:
Development Manager Pauli Nieminen, tel. +358 29 56 88504
Special Adviser Satu Rahkila, tel. +358 29 56 88595
Doctors Who Discovered Cancer Enzymes in Vaccines all Found Murdered '' DC Clothesline
Fri, 29 Mar 2019 07:46
From the archives: February 28, 2016.
Not long ago, Neon Nettle reported on the epidemic of doctors being murdered, most of which were in Florida, U.S. The scientists all shared a common trait, they had all discovered that nagalase enzyme protein was being added to vaccines which were then administrated to humans. (SCROLL DOWN FOR VIDEO)
Nagalese is what prevents vitamin D from being produced in the body, which is the body's main defense to naturally kill cancer cells.
According to Thebigriddle.com: Nagalase is a protein that's also created by all cancer cells. This protein is also found in very high concentrations in autistic children. And they're PUTTING it in our vaccines!!
This prevents the body from utilizing the Vitamin D necessary to fight cancer and prevent autism. Nagalese disables the immune system. It's also known to cause Type 2 Diabetes. So basically'...they weren't killing these doctors because they had found the cure to cancer or were successfully treating autism'... they're killing them because these Dr's had been researching and had the evidence that the vaccines they're injecting our precious children with are CAUSING our current cancer and autism crisis!!
And that it's obviously being done knowingly and on purpose! The Dr's they killed in FL had been collaborating and were getting ready to go public with the information.
Depopulation 101..add poison to vaccines'...make it law that all children must be injected to attend school. Slow kill methods. They think they're being fair w/ their ''survival of the fittest'' type mentality. Only the best genes survive? These people have no souls.
Dr Ted Broer broke it on The Hagmann & Hagmann Report and it took them a whole hour just to get him on air b/c their 3 hour show was brought down and every line they tried to use kept disconnecting'...and then their servers were brought down.
They asked a bunch of people to pray against the attack and then finally got him on a secured line..and so a full hour into the show they were finally back on the air and connected to Dr Broer and the first thing he said was ''I am in no way suicidal.'' He was super nervous holding onto this info'...afraid he'd be taken out Hastings style before he got a chance to say it publicly. So listen to this short clip of him breaking the story.
It's a 19 min clip but the most important info is heard within the first 10 min. It is definitely some of the most important news I've ever heard. And it needs to go viral.
Courtesy of Freedom Outpost.
Rory Hall, Editor-in-Chief, The Daily Coin, has studied the precious metals market, economic and monetary policies as well as geopolitical events since 1987. I have written well over 700 articles and produced more than 200 videos. Beginning in 2014 The Daily Coin became my latest incarnation. Prior to launching my own website and YouTube channel I began working with Sean at SGTReport.com in 2012 and still contribute, daily, to his website. The YouTube Channel, The Daily Coin, was launched in February 2014 and websiteTheDailyCoin.org was launched April 2014. My original articles have been published by such notable websites as Zerohedge, SHTFPlan, Sprott Money, GoldSilver and Freedom Outpost just to name a few. I have interviewed some of the top professionals, in their field, from around the world, including Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, Dr. Marc Faber, Eric Sprott, Gerald Celente and Peter Schiff, to name but a few. The Daily Coin is enjoying global growth for both original works and delivering some of the best economic, precious metals, geopolitical and preparedness news from around the world.
Article reposted with permission from The Daily Coin.
Breaking: Families, Lawyers, AE911Truth File Lawsuit against FBI over '9/11 Review Commission Report'
Fri, 29 Mar 2019 08:01
Families, Lawyers, AE911Truth File Lawsuit against FBI over '9/11 Review Commission Report'For the first time ever, 9/11 family members and advocates are taking legal action against the FBI aimed at forcing the Bureau to assess and report the evidence
known to the FBI of the World Trade Center's explosive demolition as well as other unreported 9/11 evidence.
In 2014, Congress mandated the FBI to form an external commission to conduct ''an assessment of any evidence now known to the FBI that was not considered by the 9/11 Commission related to any factors that contributed in any manner to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.'' A year later, the FBI released the Commission's final report, which did not include an assessment of evidence related to the WTC demolition nor an assessment of several other areas of evidence known to the FBI.
Now the Lawyers' Committee for 9/11 Inquiry and AE911Truth need your help to advance our historic lawsuit and bring this key evidence to light.
Support the FBI 9/11 Review Commission Lawsuit! Help the Lawyers' Committee and AE911Truth reach our first milestone of $30,000 by April 1st.
Why the Lawyers' Committee and AE911Truth Need Your SupportThe FBI 9/11 Review Commission Lawsuit is complex litigation against the federal government comprising a number of phases that could last up to two years. The end goal is to compel the FBI to reconstitute its 9/11 Review Commission in some form, assess the evidence known to the FBI but omitted from the Commission's 2015 report, and include that evidence in a new, amended report. Initially, we need your help to fund the early phases of the lawsuit, which are the complaint, the anticipated motion to dismiss, and motions for summary judgment.
Fundraising Milestone 1: Complaint and Motion to DismissHelp us reach our first milestone of $30,000 by April 1st to fund the hundreds of attorney hours involved in drafting the complaint and preparing an extensive response to the defendants' motion to dismiss.
Fundraising Milestone 2: Motions for Summary JudgmentHelp us reach our second milestone of $60,000 by April 15th to fund the drafting of briefs in opposition to the defendants' motion for summary judgment and in support of our motion for summary judgment.
March 25th Filing and News ConferenceThe FBI 9/11 Review Commission Lawsuit was filed on March 25, 2019, at the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. We then held a news conference in front of the nearby Newseum. Download the Press Release
The official news conference begins at the 53:05 mark in the video. Thank you for watching.
Questions and Comments Members of the Lawyers' Committee are available to answer questions about the FBI 9/11 Review Commission Lawsuit. We encourage members of the public to contact the Lawyers' Committee with questions and comments about the legal proceeding.
VIDEO - Mark Zuckerberg Calls For New Worldwide Laws To Regulate Speech On The Internet! - YouTube
Sun, 31 Mar 2019 14:42
VIDEO - World landmarks switch the lights off to mark Earth Hour - YouTube
Sun, 31 Mar 2019 14:35
VIDEO - Mueller Report Cold Open - SNL - YouTube
Sun, 31 Mar 2019 11:40
VIDEO - Parscale: Mueller report shows what the Dems are capable of - YouTube
Sun, 31 Mar 2019 11:32
VIDEO -14-19mins - 3/29/19 Robert Naiman on Ending the War in Yemen | The Libertarian Institute
Sun, 31 Mar 2019 01:38
Scott talks to Robert Naiman from Just Foreign Policy about the continued efforts to end U.S. support for the Saudi-led war and starvation campaign in Yemen. Naiman explains the complexities of the various types of bills and resolutions in the house and senate, and why it's been so hard to pass this kind of thing in the past. He says that if people want to help, the best thing they can do is to make phone calls to their senators and congressional representatives.
Discussed on the show:
War Powers Resolution''H.J.Res.37'' (Library of Congress)AIPAC Policy Conference 2019''Inside the White House During the Syrian 'Red Line' Crisis'' (The Atlantic)Robert Naiman is Policy Director at Just Foreign Policy and president of the board of Truthout. He helped write The WikiLeaks Files: The World According to US Empire. Find him on Twitter @naiman.
This episode of the Scott Horton Show is sponsored by: Kesslyn Runs, by Charles Featherstone; NoDev NoOps NoIT, by Hussein Badakhchani; The War State, by Mike Swanson; WallStreetWindow.com; Roberts and Roberts Brokerage Inc.; Tom Woods' Liberty Classroom; ExpandDesigns.com/Scott; and LibertyStickers.com.
Donate to the show through Patreon, PayPal, or Bitcoin: 1Ct2FmcGrAGX56RnDtN9HncYghXfvF2GAh.
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VIDEO - As Mueller Finds No Collusion, Did Press Overhype Russiagate? Glenn Greenwald vs. David Cay Johnston | Democracy Now!
Sat, 30 Mar 2019 23:23
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
AMY GOODMAN : This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I'm Amy Goodman. To talk more about the Mueller report, we're joined by two guests. Glenn Greenwald, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, one of the founding editors of The Intercept, has been one of the most prominent skeptics of the Russiagate probe. He's speaking to us from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. David Cay Johnston is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter previously with The New York Times, now founder and editor of DCReport.org. He's been reporting on Donald Trump since the 1980s, has written, well, most recently, two books on him, his most recent, It's Even Worse Than You Think: What the Trump Administration Is Doing to America.
We welcome you both to Democracy Now! Let's begin with David Cay Johnston in Rochester, New York. David, your response to the Mueller report and to William Barr's summary of what he found?
DAVID CAY JOHNSTON : Well, we don't know what's in the Mueller report. We only know the brief interpretation offered by Bill Barr. But that interpretation opens whole new cans of worms. The standard here should not be beyond a reasonable doubt. That's the criminal standard. The standard is the constitutional requirements, which are faithful execution of the office and high crimes and misdemeanors, which doesn't require any criminal offense of any kind, as the 18 impeachment proceedings we've had in this country have established beyond a doubt.
We need to see the full report. We need to have Mueller's testimony. We need to know what it was that Mueller learned about such matters as Jared Kushner asking to use secret Russian diplomatic communications gear to contact the Kremlin without the knowledge of American intelligence, something the Russians made available to us to know by the way they transmitted a cable, knowing it would be read by intelligence agencies. We need to know why Don Jr., who said, ''Love it,'' when offered help by the Kremlin, was not questioned or indicted'--most likely because his lawyers said he would take the Fifth Amendment. But why was he not charged? And we need to know about why he didn't call FBI counterintelligence, which is the only thing any decent and patriotic American would do when given an offer by a foreign government to interfere in our election. And there's a lot more that we need to know. We need to see the report in full. We need to hear Mueller's testimony about it, not just Bill Barr's interpretation of it, especially given that Barr sought this job and has positioned himself as someone who believes, essentially, the president virtually cannot commit a crime under our Constitution, certainly not obstruction of justice.
AMY GOODMAN : Glenn Greenwald, your response?
GLENN GREENWALD : This is the saddest media spectacle I've ever seen, since I began practicing journalism in 2005. And what makes it even sadder is to watch all of the people who vested their journalistic credibility into what proved to be a complete and total fraud and scam continue to try and cling to some vestige of credibility by continuing to spin conspiracy theories that are even more reckless and more unhinged than the ones to which we've been subjected for three years. The great journalist and writer Matt Taibbi wrote in an article over the weekend, and I agree with him completely, that as humiliating as the media debacle was leading up to the Iraq War, what they did over the last three years in the Trump-Russia story makes all of that look like a pimple. Even though obviously the Iraq War was much more destructive because it led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people, the errors and lies and falsehoods and recklessness and speculation that we've been subjected to, over and over and over, that Robert Mueller just definitively debunked, is far more humiliating journalistically, far more unjustifiable journalistically. And who knows where it will lead to? It's ratcheted up tensions between the two most dangerous nuclear-armed powers in the world, Russia and the United States, that the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists says has brought us to two minutes before midnight on their Doomsday Clock. So it's also been extremely dangerous in ways that we don't yet know.
Let me just say two things. Number one, everybody knows'--and I don't care how many people try and rewrite history'--that the central question that everybody was obsessed with for three years was: Did Donald Trump, his family members and his aides conspire and collaborate and collude with the Russians to interfere in the election? And contrary to what David just said, it is absolutely false that Robert Mueller simply said there's not enough evidence to convict with a reasonable doubt. He said something much, much, much, much more important than that. He said that after 20 months of investigation, with a huge team of FBI agents and prosecutors, heralded as being the most aggressive and skilled in the world, we found no evidence that this happened. That's what Robert Mueller said. The whole thing was a scam and a fraud from the beginning. And The New York Times headline today says that as clearly as it can: Robert Mueller finds no collusion between Trump and Russia. That was the focal point of the entire narrative, no matter how much people try and change the focus.
The second point, this idea that, ''Oh, we haven't heard from Robert Mueller yet, we've only heard Bill Barr's summary of him,'' yes, that's true. But Bill Barr has been friends with Robert Mueller for 30 years. They come from the same Republican circles in the Department of Justice. They both worked together at the Bush Justice Department, the Bush 41 Justice Department. All we heard for 20 months is that Robert Mueller is a man of the greatest integrity and patriotism. The idea, the very idea'--just think about this'--that he would allow Bill Barr to run around making false and misleading distortions about what the Mueller team found, and not one person on the Mueller team, including Bob Mueller himself, would stand up and say, ''Wait a minute, he is distorting what our findings was,'' that is laughable. That's exactly the kind of conspiracy theories that led to this entire mess in the first place, and we should no longer tolerate this. Rachel Maddow and MSNBC are the Judy Millers of this story, except, unlike Judy Miller, who was scapegoated for doing things that her male colleague did and had her career destroyed, Rachel Maddow will continue to make $10 million a year for NBC because she's their most valuable brand, and there will be no reckoning and consequences for this story that the media got radically, fundamentally and deliberately wrong for almost three years now in a very dangerous way.
AMY GOODMAN : David Cay Johnston?
DAVID CAY JOHNSTON : Well, you notice Glenn doesn't dispute what are established facts. We know that the Russians offered to help the Trump campaign. We have the emails proving that. And we know that Don Jr. was not interviewed. We know, as a matter of fact, unless the Russians fabricated the cable, in which case you would have expected denials from the Trump camp, that Jared Kushner sought to use the communications gear of the Russian diplomats and that they put their cable on this out in a way knowing it would be intercepted. We know, and Glenn certainly wouldn't dispute, that the Russians tried to interfere in our election.
Now, all of these facts are fundamental to what matters here. And the issue that matters is this began as a counterintelligence investigation, not a criminal investigation. And I don't think [William] Barr has completely, as Glenn suggested, distorted what was said here. But I think his four-page summary doesn't give us the full picture. After all, he quoted'--the only place he quoted the Mueller report was that it did not exonerate Donald Trump on the issue of obstruction of justice. We need to see the report. And we can't draw the kind of conclusions that Glenn is drawing without actually seeing the document. There's a lot of gray area here. And the standard for the conduct of the president is not the standard of criminal liability.
And just one other point, let's remember that Donald Trump, who studied at the foot of Roy Cohn, as a young man, beat four grand jury investigations. He escaped scrutiny for his role in the international drug trafficking of Joseph Weichselbaum, whom he wrote a letter saying he was a standup guy who shouldn't be punished, and engaged in behavior that made no sense unless the two of them were in the business together, that Trump has a long and thoroughly documented history of lying, of filing false reports, of cheating on his taxes, having been tried twice for income tax fraud and lost both of those cases'--they were civil cases, but lost both. So, I don't think you can draw the conclusions Glenn has drawn without seeing the Mueller report in full.
AMY GOODMAN : David Cay Johnston, let me ask, I mean, you have been exposing Donald Trump for decades'--not around the issue of collusion with Russia. Is it possible that what Donald Trump is guilty of is corruption, not collusion? I don't think Glenn Greenwald is saying that Donald Trump is innocent in all areas, but he is saying, of this investigation, of these charges, he is.
DAVID CAY JOHNSTON : Well, I personally have never once said or suggested that this is a criminal issue that should be treated as a criminal matter. I mean, I disagree with the Justice Department's two Office of Legal Counsel memoranda, as do a lot of people who study and write about and, like I do, teach our Constitution. But that's the broader issue here. What was the level of conduct? We know that Donald Trump invited the Russians to interfere in our election. So what did Mueller find? Let's understand what he found. That it didn't rise to the level of a crime, I just don't think is that significant. I want to know what they found. And one of the key questions I want to know is: Did Don Jr., did Jared Kushner, and did Donald Trump's lawyers say that if questioned, they would take the Fifth Amendment? Now, we all have a Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate ourselves, but it would be untenable for a sitting president of the United States to take the Fifth Amendment. He would be a unique case in that matter, he and the vice president, if the Fifth Amendment was put forward.
AMY GOODMAN : Glenn Greenwald?
GLENN GREENWALD : Well, let me just say a couple of things. First of all, prior to Bob Mueller's appointment, I was calling for a full-scale investigation in which all of the facts at the conclusion of the investigation would be publicly revealed, so that we would stop having to rely on media leaks that the CIA and the NSA and the FBI were engineering and manipulating and lying to us, as we now know, so that we could see the full picture. So I continue to believe that we should see the full Mueller report. I support that completely.
Secondly, let me say, as well, that I believe that Donald Trump is one of the most corrupt people ever to occupy the White House. I am certain that he's guilty of all kinds of crimes'--war crimes as president, financial crimes as a business person. One of the reason why those of us who were so angry about this obsession on Russia and collusion, aside from the fact that it was so dangerous to ratchet up tensions between two nuclear-armed powers this way instead of trying to forge a peace between these two countries, is precisely because it took the oxygen away from all of the things that the Trump administration is doing that is so damaging, in lieu of this idiotic, moronic, Tom Clancy-type espionage thriller, where we were talking about Putin blackmailing Donald Trump with pee-pee tapes and Donald Trump being a Russian agent since 1987, which was a cover story that was on New York magazine, that Chris Hayes put on MSNBC . Just all kinds of moronic conspiracies, that we love to mock other countries' medias for circulating and disseminating, drowned out our airwaves and our discourse for three years, preventing us from focusing on the real, substantive damage that the Trump administration is doing and that Donald Trump's corruption entails.
But the reality is, the media chose to focus on this. Everybody knows this. David Cay Johnston was on your show, Amy, a week ago, and he said, ''Donald Trump, I believe, is a Russian agent.'' We now have a full-scale, 20-month investigation by somebody that everybody agreed was a man of great integrity who would get to the bottom of all of this, who had full subpoena power. And David keeps trying to imply, which is totally false, that all that Mueller said was, ''Oh, it just doesn't rise to the level of criminality.'' That is not what he said. He said, after 20 months of a full-scale investigation'--which, by the way, included hours of interrogating Donald Trump Jr. before Congress, all of the transcripts of which were made available to Mueller, which he could have prosecuted Trump Jr. on for perjury and obstruction had Donald Trump Jr. lied about anything, but he chose not to. He said, ''After reviewing all of this evidence, I am concluding that this did not happen,'' not that it doesn't rise to the level where I can criminally prosecute. He's saying there was no collusion.
The game is over, and it's time to be honest about it. And the more we try to cling to this and invent new'--you know what it reminds me of? In 2003, when the neocons finally had to face the truth that there were no WMDs, that they had fabricated that, that the media had misled millions of people around the world for years, and they started saying, ''Um, maybe Saddam hid them in Syria. Maybe they're buried in places we just haven't looked yet.'' It's time to face the truth. The media got this story wrong. They obsessed on this for three years, and all this time there was no evidence for it. It was just a conspiracy theory. Rachel Maddow, the most influential liberal TV host in the country, every single night misled millions of liberals into believing something that was totally false, and there will be no media consequences for it. And that is extremely grave and serious, no matter how much is true about how corrupt Donald Trump is in his financial dealings or any of the other stuff that people are now trying to deflect our attention onto.
AMY GOODMAN : Glenn Greenwald, I want to ask you to imagine for a moment if this investigation didn't happen for the last three years, or whether it did but the press didn't pay it much attention until Mueller came up with his results, as he has now, what the press could have been doing. You alluded to it in the last answer, dealing with issues. For example, we're moving into the 2020 presidential election now. Coming out of the defeat of Hillary Clinton, what could the media have done, if it wasn't saying it was simply stolen from her, but exactly what the policies the Democrats were representing that might have led to her defeat?
GLENN GREENWALD : Right, that's the question. Why did millions of people vote for a complete joke of a game show host? And how did the Democrats lose the presidency to one of the most embarrassing spectacles of a candidate in U.S. history? What is the prevailing ideology of the ruling class that has turned millions and millions of people, and to this country, into such angry citizens that they either refuse to vote or vote for the person who promises to burn down the entire system? Why are they so angry? What has happened to their economic security? What ideology and what group of people are responsible for that? What has Donald Trump been doing in realigning the United States away from the Western Europe and to Saudi despots, and the collusion that actually happened, which was from the Israeli government during the election in order to undermine Obama's policies? All those kinds of questions could have been asked and should have been asked, but it all got drowned out because we were all so much more fascinated by this superficial, kind of very appealing and melodramatic espionage thriller, that has completely destroyed the credibility of the U.S. media and so tragically vindicated Donald Trump in a way that probably is the greatest gift that has been given to him throughout his entire presidency.
AMY GOODMAN : David Cay Johnston, you've continually raised over the last years of the Trump administration, and the decades before, the corruption of Donald Trump. Aren't you concerned now, now that he has been, in his own words, exonerated, although Mueller didn't exactly say that when it came to obstruction of justice, but when it came to collusion, he absolutely exonerated him'--yes, we haven't seen the underlying report'--that the issues you have raised for decades, you won't be able to be taken seriously about them, because Donald Trump will move forward with new moral force, because he says he has been victimized for the last few years, since he became president, by this investigation by a man he claimed to have hated, who ultimately vindicated him?
DAVID CAY JOHNSTON : Well, indeed, Amy, you know, and I suspect Glenn has not read my books. My trilogy on the American economy, that you had me on when it came out'--Perfectly Legal, Free Lunch and The Fine Print'--explains why a man like Donald Trump could rise. Because of government policies nobody knew about, until I spent years digging them out of the public record, showed how we are picking the pockets of ordinary Americans and transferring money upward to other people. And even people that don't understand that know that their economics today are worse than they were in the 1960s. So I was in the vanguard of explaining those things.
My two books on Donald Trump say almost nothing about Russia. And in particular, the most recent book is about what Donald Trump is doing to our government. And what is DCReport, the little news organization that friends and I run as a mostly volunteer project? It is about what he's doing to our government. We've done very little reporting about the Russians, other than things like Wilbur Ross's deep involvement with the corrupt Bank of Cyprus, which is well known for Russian money laundering. Other than that, it's been about what's the Interior Department doing, what are other government agencies doing.
So, Glenn's complaints, well, you know, arguably have good merit; they don't apply to me by any stretch. And I've never said that Donald Trump is an agent. I said he's an asset. If I did say ''agent,'' I should not have. But I've said repeatedly he is what the old Soviet would call a ''useful idiot.'' He has advanced their cause. He called, during the campaign, for breaking up NATO . That's a Putin item. He has said he trusts Vladimir Putin and not the American intelligence agencies. Those should all be things that deeply disturb us. And if the Mueller report, when we see it, shows that this is all malarkey, have me on, and I'll say, ''You know what? Got it totally wrong,'' because I go wherever the facts go. But I don't think the news media in this country has been totally discredited. And I notice that Glenn's focus is on one cable TV show. By the way, I think I've been on once since Donald Trump's election, on Rachel Maddow, when I got the tax return of Donald Trump from 2005. I don't appear on her show otherwise.
And so, I think, fundamentally, we do need to focus on the real economic issues. Donald Trump wants to make healthcare in America worse. He has not fulfilled any of his promises. There's no infrastructure bill. There is this focus on the wall with Mexico, which is never going to be built, and certainly not paid for by the Mexicans. He has stirred violence against people of color and people whose religions he doesn't like. And he is utterly and completely unfit to hold office. He is, in the classic meaning of the Greek word, an ''idiot,'' which originally meant someone who only cares about himself and has no regard for the society around him.
AMY GOODMAN : David, yeah, on this show last week, you did say ''Russian agent,'' that Donald Trump is a Russian agent.
AMY GOODMAN : Are you saying you misspoke?
DAVID CAY JOHNSTON : I should have said ''asset.'' That's a misstatement by me. And ''asset'' is the term that I've used. And I do believe that, you know, you can unwittingly be an asset, and I believe that Donald Trump is a Russian asset. I think the kindest thing you can say about Donald Trump is that he has divided loyalties between the United States of America and the Kremlin, based on his own public statements, his secret meetings with Vladimir Putin, his destruction of notes and not taking other people with him to those meetings'--that the kindest thing you can say is he has divided loyalties. And that alone makes him unfit under our Constitution, because it means he cannot and is not faithfully executing his office.
AMY GOODMAN : To be exact, You said ''Kremlin agent,'' but you're saying you should have said ''Kremlin asset''?
AMY GOODMAN : So, data from the TV News Archive show, on average, every day in 2018, CNN , Fox News and MSNBC devoted 3 percent of their news coverage, not counting commercials and non-news programming, to the Robert Mueller investigation. Upon hindsight, David Cay Johnston, do you think that the corporate media was wrong and should have focused on some of the issues that Glenn Greenwald has just laid out?
DAVID CAY JOHNSTON : Well, I mean, absolutely. I think we should have focused much more on Donald Trump's not fulfilling his promises. I will tell you there's clearly a limited audience for that. I mean, we are covering governance at DCReport. We have broken, on a budget of $5,000 or $6,000 a month, about 20 stories that other people have picked up on about what's being done to our government. But our audience, compared to all the other places, we're little tiny pipsqueaks down here. It's unfortunate, but most Americans not only don't know what's in their Constitution, but they also really don't care about governance. They do care about pocketbook issues. And the influence Trump is having on healthcare, the expansion of pollution, the coziness with oil companies and uranium mining companies, the damage to our forests and national parks, that should all be big news. You know, there was almost no reporting about what I thought was one of the most delicious scandals of this year: When all the national parks and monuments were shut down during the government shutdown, one place remained open with a ranger. That's the clock tower atop the Trump Hotel in Washington, D.C. It was exempted. Nothing better illustrates Donald Trump's complete corruption and abuse of power.
AMY GOODMAN : Do you think that both Congress and also the other investigatory bodies, like the New York attorney general, Southern District in New York, etc., are going to continue investigating him, now that, you know, he's saying he has been victimized, since he became president, on charges that were found to be completely unfounded?
DAVID CAY JOHNSTON : Well, I think that the Congress is going to continue to press for answers and a full'--to see the full Mueller report. There are all sorts of other issues beyond this that need to be thoroughly investigated. And we've been in the forefront, and I have, in my writings and TV appearances, of pressing that we need to be understanding what Trump is doing to corrupt our government and damage our Constitution. So, yes, I expect those to go forward.
And we need to also remember that Donald Trump is a man whose experience, right within the period since the campaign, shows that crime pays. He ripped off people with Trump University for $40 million. He didn't pay any penalty. He only had to return $25 million of the $40 million. You know, Donald Trump's life experience is crime pays. He's the only'--he owned the only casino in which there is a known case of cheating customers in Atlantic City, was at Trump's Castle. And so, you know, we need to recognize we have a man in the White House who is a third-generation head of a white-collar crime family.
But I also think, firmly, that we need to understand his relationship and his attitudes and his treatment regarding the Kremlin, which is a hostile foreign power that was attacking our elections. Mueller's report, as explained by Bill Barr, says they were attacking our election. And Donald Trump encouraged that attack. That should disturb us deeply.
AMY GOODMAN : Glenn Greenwald, before we go to break and then come back, respond to what David Cay Johnston said and also this alert from FAIR , more than a year'--from July of last year. They put out an alert stating, '' ACTION ALERT : It's Been Over a Year Since MSNBC Has Mentioned US War in Yemen.''
GLENN GREENWALD : Yeah, that's the tragedy of everything that just happened. I mean, David and I have known each other for many years. We have respect for each other's work. I mean, I'll be presumptive enough to say that. I certainly have respect for his. And part of the reason why I find this whole thing so tragic is because all of the things he just named, that do deserve attention and investigation, have received none, because completely drowning out all of that has been this utter fairy tale.
But let me just say one thing about this idea that he's a Kremlin asset or that we need to find out what his relationship is with the Russians. We just had a 22-month investigation where the media and Bob Mueller did nothing but look into that exact question. He's saying it like nobody's ever asked this before or nobody's ever'--we have the answer. And as for him being a Russian asset, it's so irresponsible to say that, because the reality is that the conflict between the U.S. and the Russians are at a worse and higher level than they've been in many years, probably decades.
How can you say Donald Trump is a stooge of the Kremlin when he's right now trying to remove one of Vladimir Putin's client regime states in Venezuela? Or when he's trying to bully Angela Merkel out of buying Russian natural gas, probably the thing that's most important to the Russian economy? Or when he sold lethal arms to the Ukrainians, something Obama refused to do on the grounds that it would be provocative to Russia? Or when he bombed Putin's client state in Syria? Over and over, the Trump administration has taken actions far more adverse and aggressive and belligerent to the Russians than the Obama administration did. That's why this whole narrative that Trump all along was being blackmailed by Putin, that he's an asset of Russian intelligence, this is idiocy. It is completely irrational. It is contrary to all facts.
And Bob Mueller's investigation, who spent 22 months examining that core question'--what is the relationship between Trump and the Russians?'--concluded that there is no relationship. It's time to stop these dangerous conspiracy theories that are ratcheting up tensions between the two most dangerous countries on the planet. The reality is, the Trump administration has been constantly belligerent to Putin, has constantly acted adverse to the Kremlin's interests, and there's zero basis for thinking or believing or finding evidence to assert that Trump in any way is beholden to Vladimir Putin and to Russia. The whole thing has been a joke and a fairy tale from the start.
AMY GOODMAN : We're going to break and then come back to this discussion. Glenn Greenwald, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, founding editor of The Intercept. David Cay Johnston, Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter, formerly with The New York Times, now founder and editor of DCReport.org. Stay with us.
AMY GOODMAN : ''I Put a Spell on You'' by Screamin' Jay Hawkins. This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I'm Amy Goodman. We're joined by two Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists, Glenn Greenwald and David Cay Johnston, as we look at the results of the 22-month investigation by special counsel Mueller. I want to continue, as we discuss the Mueller report, to turn to Noam Chomsky, when he appeared on Democracy Now! last August.
NOAM CHOMSKY : So, take, say, the huge issue of interference in our pristine elections. Did the Russians interfere in our elections? An issue of overwhelming concern in the media. I mean, in most of the world, that's almost a joke. First of all, if you're interested in foreign interference in our elections, whatever the Russians may have done barely counts or weighs in the balance as compared with what another state does, openly, brazenly and with enormous support. Israeli intervention in U.S. elections vastly overwhelms anything the Russians may have done, I mean, even to the point where the prime minister of Israel, Netanyahu, goes directly to Congress, without even informing the president, and speaks to Congress, with overwhelming applause, to try to undermine the president's policies'--what happened with Obama and Netanyahu in 2015.
AMY GOODMAN : So, that's MIT professor emeritus Noam Chomsky, world-renowned linguist, a well-known dissident, is a writer of over a hundred books. Glenn Greenwald, can you respond?
GLENN GREENWALD : Well, that's been the other critical point this entire time, is this kind of melodrama over the outrage that any country would dare to interfere in our sacred and glorious democracy, when, as Noam Chomsky just pointed out and has spent the last 40 years pointing out, the United States has done very little since the end of World War II but going around the world and interfering in every single democracy that they can find, literally, including the country in which I'm currently living, which is Brazil, where they overthrew a democratically elected government in 1964 and then proceeded to impose a military regime for 21 years, and also Russia, where they openly boasted about helping to elect Boris Yeltsin because he would privatize everything and that would be good for U.S. industry, or even agitating anti-Putin resistance in parliamentary elections under Hillary Clinton's reign as secretary of state.
This doesn't make it right for Russia to do it, but we've never kept in perspective the fact that interfering or meddling in other countries' elections or governance is not some grave, aberrational, never-before-heard drama that the entire world has to stop and lament and put an end to. It's normal business. We're currently, right now, in the process of trying to change the government of Venezuela openly, and have done so over and over around the world. And that's why Noam Chomsky says that all of this moral outrage of Americans at the idea that somebody would interfere in or meddle in our democracy has made the U.S. a laughingstock to the hundreds of millions of people'--billions, in fact'--who live in countries where the U.S. has done this and far, far worse for decade after decade after decade.
AMY GOODMAN : And, David Cay Johnston, your response?
DAVID CAY JOHNSTON : Well, we live in a world in which governments interfere in the elections of other governments. And the U.S. has had dirty hands about this. Heck, I think I wrote a few stories that touched on this in the '60s, when I was covering local government in the San Francisco Bay Area but also student demonstrations. There's no question that we have overthrown regimes and put in place terrible dictators. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't be outraged'--and we should be'--at Russian interference in our election.
Now, if Glenn had looked at my Twitter feed, he would know that a lot of people attacked him as being illegitimate and I defended him. We disagree, but I think we have honest disagreements about what matters here. Glenn sees the Russia matters as very black and white. He says there's no evidence, for example. In fact, I see them as what I believe they are: very gray.
We have lots of evidence of extraordinary conduct. Russia, if you're listening, love it when the Kremlin offers help. The request to use communications gear, the discrediting of American intelligence agencies while accepting Vladimir Putin at his word, and meeting him with no other staff around and destroying the translator's notes, or meeting with no American translator, and the disclosure in the Oval Office of sources and methods to the Russian foreign minister and the Russian ambassador, which we learned about only because of the Russians, not the White House'--all of that is extraordinary behavior that is unlike any former president. And so, we should be very concerned about that. And we do not know enough to understand how this could happen. Just imagine for a moment if a Barack Obama had done some of the things that Donald Trump has done, what the reaction in Congress would be.
And I also think the proper measure here is not Barack Obama's foreign policy, but what Hillary Clinton made clear she would have done if she had become president. I don't think she would have been a particularly great president, but she made it very clear that, short of going to war, she was going to squeeze the Kremlin until they gave up Crimea. Putin understood this perfectly. And so, while he didn't so much want Donald Trump, he certainly did not want Hillary Clinton, who would have made things economically very painful for him, and she was quite explicit about this.
AMY GOODMAN : Glenn Greenwald, if you can quickly respond to that? But I want to end on the issue of where does this leave WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, and also Chelsea Manning, who's been held in solitary confinement since being sent back to prison on March 8th after refusing to answer questions before a grand jury. She had been subpoenaed by the federal prosecutors in Virginia's Eastern District for questioning over her 2010 release, of WikiLeaks, of hundreds of thousands of State Department and Pentagon documents about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
GLENN GREENWALD : David is right that there was a big difference between Obama and Clinton when it came to foreign policy. She was very critical of Obama for not being more confrontational with Putin, for refusing to bomb Syria, for refusing to send lethal arms to Ukrainians, for working with Russia on the Iran deal. I side with President Obama. He was absolutely right that Hillary Clinton would have been extremely dangerous, because she wanted to be way more provocative and belligerent toward Russia. And I'm very glad she didn't get that chance to do that. That would have been very dangerous for the world, although the Trump administration is doing it now.
As for Chelsea Manning and WikiLeaks, the Trump administration has made no secret of the fact that they want to prosecute WikiLeaks for the crime, in their eyes, of disclosing confidential documents'--one of the gravest threats we can imagine to press freedom. Chelsea Manning's torture, being put back into solitary confinement, is trying to squeeze her to say things that aren't true, to let them prosecute WikiLeaks. And all of the journalists who have spent three years claiming to be so worried about the threats to press freedom are utterly silent about what the Trump administration's real threat to press freedom is, which is this attempt to prosecute WikiLeaks and Julian Assange, abusing Chelsea Manning to do it, in order to criminalize journalism, which is the publication of top-secret documents that journalists do every day. And I hope that gets way more attention.
AMY GOODMAN : We're going to have to leave it there. I thank you both so much, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists Glenn Greenwald and David Cay Johnston. I'm Amy Goodman. Thanks so much for joining us.
VIDEO - UKIP's Gerard Batten Vs remainer Lucy Thomas on extended Article50, possible no Brexit (29March19) - YouTube
Sat, 30 Mar 2019 04:35
VIDEO - Russia rejects Trump call to pull military personnel out of Venezuela '' Soldier of Fortune Magazine
Sat, 30 Mar 2019 02:34
March 30, 2019 1 Views
The Administration condemns Nicolas Maduro's continued use of foreign military personnel in his attempt to remain in power, including the introduction of Russian military personnel and equipment into Venezuela. Maduro will only use this military support to further repress the people of Venezuela; perpetuate the economic crisis that has destroyed Venezuela's economy; and endanger regional stability. We call on the Venezuelan military to uphold its constitutional duty to protect the citizens of Venezuela.
We strongly caution actors external to the Western Hemisphere against deploying military assets to Venezuela, or elsewhere in the Hemisphere, with the intent of establishing or expanding military operations. We will consider such provocative actions as a direct threat to international peace and security in the region. We will continue to defend and protect the interests of the United States, and those of our partners in the Western Hemisphere, which are rooted in a shared respect for liberty, security, and the rule of law.
On January 25, 2019, I issued Executive Order 13857 to take additional steps, with respect to the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13692, to address actions by persons affiliated with the illegitimate Maduro regime, including human rights violations and abuses in response to anti-Maduro protests; arbitrary arrest and detention of anti-Maduro protestors; curtailment of press freedom; harassment of political opponents; and continued attempts to undermine the Interim President of Venezuela and undermine the National Assembly, the only legitimate branch of government duly elected by the Venezuelan people, and to prevent the Interim President and the National Assembly from exercising legitimate authority in Venezuela.
The circumstances described in Executive Order 13692, and subsequent Executive Orders issued with respect to Venezuela, have not improved and they continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States. Therefore, in accordance with section 202(d) of the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1622(d)), I am continuing for 1 year the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13692.
This notice shall be published in the Federal Register and transmitted to the Congress.
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VIDEO - Ocasio-Cortez shuts down town hall audience member after they call GOP lawmaker a 'moron' | TheHill
Sat, 30 Mar 2019 02:32
Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Alexandria Ocasio-CortezTrump rally crowd hits Ocasio-Cortez with 'AOC sucks' chant in Michigan Warren, Ocasio-Cortez, tweet about lunch together Ocasio-Cortez blasts DeVos for saying she 'loves' the Special Olympics MORE (N.Y.) shut down an audience member at an MSNBC town hall on Friday who yelled out, calling a former GOP lawmaker a "moron."
Ocasio-Cortez appeared alongside former GOP Rep. Bob Inglis (S.C.) on the network for a panel discussion about her proposed Green New Deal and other progressive issues.
During one portion of the town hall, Inglis, who has said he believes in climate change, expressed concerns about having "the mirror image of a Trump rally on climate change."
''If we have basically the mirror image of a Trump rally on climate change, that we drive all the people away that could come our way and solve this thing now,'' he said, prompting an audible reaction from the audience.
"Hey, that's unacceptable": Rep. Ocasio-Cortez responds to audience member who called fmr. Rep. Inglis a "moron" during #AOCAllIn pic.twitter.com/tcIQC1OtAa
'-- MSNBC (@MSNBC) March 30, 2019Inglis, who left in the House in 2011, suggested that Ocasio-Cortez and other progressives focus solely on climate change now, before coming back to address other issues like health care and basic income.
''You can't do it in a single Congress, the entire Green New Deal,'' he said. ''It is literally impossible with the number of committee references that you would have in the course of that.
''Is it possible that we say, climate change '... we've got to act now?'' he said. ''Can we come back maybe to universal basic income a little bit later?''
Some audience members loudly booed Inglis, with one person calling him a ''moron.''
''Hey, hey, hey, that's unacceptable,'' Ocasio-Cortez responded to the audience member, before turning to Inglis and adding: ''And that's the difference between me and Trump.''
She later shared the clip on Twitter, writing, "Let's debate, not debase."
Let's debate, not debase. https://t.co/QqmRpT92NF
'-- Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) March 30, 2019Republicans have compared Ocasio-Cortez to President Trump Donald John TrumpChinese, US negotiators fine tuning details of trade agreement: report Iran wants America out of Iraq; will it succeed? Florida bar reverses no-hat policy after objections from MAGA hat wearer MORE in the past due to her social media use and habit of responding directly to the press and her critics, comparisons that she and her allies have deemed ''absurd.''
The MSNBC town hall comes after the Senate blocked the Green New Deal in a vote this week that saw most Democrats voting present. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell Addison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOn The Money: Wells Fargo CEO steps down | Trump vows to keep funding for Special Olympics | House panel approves marijuana banking bill | Controversial Fed pick gains support in Senate Green New Deal vote might hurt Republicans more than it divided Democrats Steyer: Green New Deal helped 'move the ball forward' on climate change MORE (R-Ky.) forced a vote on the proposal in an effort to test Democrats' unity on the topic.
But at the MSNBC event on Friday, Ocasio-Cortez outlined her plans to push forward with a sweeping effort to address climate change through legislation.
''I didn't expect them to make total fools of themselves,'' she said of GOP critics of the plan, which she maintains is not socialist or radical.
Updated: 10:10 p.m.
Fri, 29 Mar 2019 19:47
VIDEO - Jon Levine on Twitter: "Rahm Emanuel blames Donald Trump's "toxic environment" for Jussie Smollett "The only reason Jussie Smollett thought he could take advantage of a hoax about a hate crime is for the environment, the toxic environment that Don
Fri, 29 Mar 2019 19:35
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VIDEO - President Trump mocks, makes new nickname for Rep. Schiff - YouTube
Fri, 29 Mar 2019 08:37
VIDEO - Smollett Attorney Tina Glandian: Osundairo Brothers May Have Been Wearing Whiteface
Fri, 29 Mar 2019 07:35
VIDEO Jussie Smollett's Attorney: Nigerian Brothers May Have Been Wearing Whiteface During AttackActor Jussie Smollett's attorney suggested the Osundairo brothers, two Nigerian men who claim Smollett hired them to stage a hate crime, may have been wearing ''whiteface'' during the incident.
Attorney Tina Glandian, who appeared n NBC's Today show this morning, pushed the theory after being asked about Smollett's claim that he was attacked by a white man.
''He only saw one of the attackers. One of them he didn't see. He saw one through a ski mask,'' Glandian said. ''Again, he could not see their body. Everything was covered, and he had a full ski mask on except the area around the eyes.''
''He did tell police that he '-- from what we saw, he thought it was pale skin or white or pale skin, was I think what he said,'' she added. ''And that was what he '-- and that's why he initially did have a hard time.''
Glandian continued by suggesting Osundairo brothers had worn whiteface in the past '-- during a skit as The Joker from Batman in clown makeup '-- and may have done it again:
''Well, you know, I mean, I think there's '-- obviously, you can disguise that. You can put makeup on. There is, interestingly enough, a video. You know, I think police had minimal investigation in this case, it took me only five minutes to Google. You know, I was looking up the brothers, and one of the videos that showed up actually was of the brothers in whiteface doing a joker monologue with white makeup on him. So, it's not '-- it's not implausible.''
While the two brothers were initially expected to testify against Smollett for allegedly paying them to stage the homophobic and racist attack, since the actor's charges were dropped by a Cook County prosecutor, the two have since backed off and will not publicly refute Smollett's claims of innocence.
Watch above, via NBC.
Have a tip we should know? tips@mediaite.com
VIDEO - Smollett's Attorney Suggests The Nigerian Brothers Might Have Been Wearing Whiteface | The Daily Caller
Thu, 28 Mar 2019 20:37
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Actor Jussie Smollett's attorney Tina Glandian suggested her client's alleged attackers might have worn whiteface, in a Thursday interview on NBC's ''Today'' show.
''You can put makeup on. '... You know, I was looking up the brothers, and one of the videos that showed up actually was of the brothers in whiteface doing a joker monologue with white makeup on him. So, it's not '-- it's not implausible,'' Glandian said, Mediaite reported.
Jussie Smollett's attorney is now suggesting the Nigerian brothers wore ''whiteface'' when they attacked Smollett.
''Obviously, you can disguise that, you can put makeup on'...'' pic.twitter.com/zzvrlmBydI
'-- Caleb Hull (@CalebJHull) March 28, 2019
The Nigerian Osundairo brothers alleged the ''Empire'' actor, 36, hired them to attack him in order to stage a fake hate crime. After the alleged attack, Smollett told police at least one of the attackers had white or pale skin, according to Glandian.
Authorities arrested and charged Smollett in February for allegedly filing a false police report, which claimed he was attacked, splattered with a chemical substance and put into a noose-like rope. The two attackers yelled, ''This is MAGA country,'' in the Jan. 29 attack, according to the actor.
Chicago police reportedly have photos of the Osundairo brothers and Smollett together in a car only days before the attack.
A grand jury indicted him on 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct in early March. Smollett pleaded not guilty to the counts on March 14. Chicago prosecutors, however, dropped all 16 charges against the actor Tuesday.
Confusion about why they dropped charges as well as what happened during the alleged attack persists.
Democratic California Sen. Kamala Harris said Tuesday she was ''completely confused'' after the charges were dropped. ''To be perfectly honest with you, Wolf, I'm completely confused. I don't understand. I don't know the underlying evidence. There's a sealed document, obviously. I don't know. I'm at a loss,'' she told journalist Wolf Blitzer in an interview.
Ola and Abel Osundairo have not made public remarks contesting Smollett's claims of innocence after prosecutors dropped the charges.
Follow Grace on Twitter.
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Tags : jussie smollett nbc news wolf blitzer Search
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VIDEO - Abimbola Abel Osundairo Batman Dark Knight: Joker monologue - YouTube
Thu, 28 Mar 2019 20:35
DEA Never Checked If Its Massive Surveillance Operations Are Legal, Watchdog Says - Nextgov
Sun, 31 Mar 2019 15:21
The Drug Enforcement Administration skirted numerous legal checks on a trio of bulk data collection programs dating back to the early 1990s, according to an internal watchdog.
In a heavily redacted, 144-page report published Thursday, the Justice Department Inspector General revealed the administration failed to fully assess the legal basis for three massive international surveillance operations that ran largely unchecked from 1992 to 2013. Two of the programs remain active in some form today.
Under one initiative, which investigators called ''Program A,'' the administration used ''non-target specific'' subpoenas to force multiple telecom providers to provide metadata on every phone call made from the U.S. to as many as 116 countries with ''a nexus to drugs.'' Investigators found some companies also provided the officials with data on all calls made between those foreign countries.
The administration also conducted two other bulk surveillance programs during that time without assessing their legality, investigators found. Under ''Program B,'' officials used similarly sweeping subpoenas to collect information on anyone who purchased specific products from participating vendors. Through ''Program C,'' DEA purchased telephone metadata for targets of ongoing investigations through a contractor for a separate government agency.
Program B ran from 2008 to 2013, and Program C began in 2007 and remains active today, according to the IG.
Investigators found the administration ''failed to conduct a comprehensive legal analysis'' of actions under all three programs. Previous court rulings have called into question the use of the sweeping subpoenas under programs A and B, they said. According to the report, the FBI also raised concerns about the legality of the operations.
''We also found the absence of a robust legal review troubling because the DEA utilized the bulk data collected ... on an unknown number of occasions in support of investigations by non-DEA federal agencies that had no apparent connection to specific drug investigations,'' the IG added. ''This utilization raised significant legal questions'' because the administration justified its actions by saying the information ''was 'relevant or material' to a drug investigation.''
The administration also never clearly determined whether its existing subpoena authority extended to the data provided through Program C, investigators said. The IG also found proof that DEA officials exploited certain investigative practices to keep prosecutors from sharing evidence with defendants.
DEA significantly scaled back Program A after Edward Snowden revealed the existence of similar sweeping surveillance programs at the National Security Agency, according to investigators. In 2014, the administration started subpoenaing metadata on calls made from phone numbers specifically tied to federal investigations. This more narrow surveillance program remains active today, the IG said.
Under target-specific data collection operations, DEA officials must provide ''reasonable articulable suspicion" that the target is involved in drug activity, but investigators found there were few safeguards to ensure they did so. The administration set no specific standards of proof for issuing subpoenas, and officials often justified data collection using ''generic'' and ''cursory'' explanations, the IG found.
''The information provided [in subpoena documents] often lacks specificity sufficient to establish the particularized facts or basis for connecting the target number to a drug investigation, even if such review had occurred,'' investigators said. They added the administration's auditing process also did little to assess the relevance of the subpoenas it issued.
Additionally, the DEA lacked any policies governing how long data collected under Program B could be stored, according to the IG. The information still resides on its servers today, and officials have no final plan for getting rid of it, investigators said.
The IG began reviewing DEA's bulk data collection programs in 2013, but according to investigators, the administration ''took many actions that hindered the OIG's access to information available to it that the OIG was plainly authorized to obtain.''
Though the programs have been largely curtailed or discontinued altogether, investigators noted there's nothing to prevent the administration from launching similar operations in the future. The IG made 16 recommendations that would help ensure future programs are conducted ''appropriately and consistently with the law '... civil rights and civil liberties.''
''DEA is committed to ensuring its practices comply with all Department of Justice policies and procedures and continue to be vetted through a rigorous legal review,'' DEA Spokesperson Katherine Pfaff said in a statement to Nextgov. ''The DEA agrees with the OIG's recommendation ... and has already begun enhancing these processes.''
Believing conspiracy theories might make you a criminal
Sun, 31 Mar 2019 15:20
February 26, 2019 | 3:38pm | Updated February 26, 2019 | 7:40pm
Go figure: If you're a birther or a 9/11 denier, chances are you aren't much fun to be around. Sure, we've been saying this about our wack-job uncle for years '-- but now it's backed up by science.
People who buy into outrageous conspiracy theories '-- say, that no human has ever walked on the moon or the ancient pyramids were built by aliens '-- are more inclined to actively engage in anti-social behavior.
That's the main finding of a team of psychologists from the UK's Staffordshire University and the University of Kent, who investigated the wider impact these paranoia-fueled fringe beliefs can have on behavior.
''Our research has shown for the first time the role that conspiracy theories can play in determining an individual's attitude to everyday crime,'' study co-author and Kent professor Karen Douglas said in a statement. ''It demonstrates that people subscribing to the view that others have conspired might be more inclined toward unethical actions.''
With contemporary conspiracy theories targeting everything from myths surrounding the Mueller report to the chilling ''secret'' behind Disney's ''Frozen,'' this cultural phenomenon is certainly ripe for clinical exploration.
As such, the new study measured participants' ''belief in general notions of conspiracy'' as well as how much they agreed with specific theories ('' There was an of¬cial campaign by MI6 to assassinate Princess Dia na''). Those inclined to believe the theories were ''more accepting of everyday crime,'' such as demanding a refund for no appropriate reason.
In addition, exposure to conspiracy theories was found to make people more apt to engage in low-level criminal activity. Researchers found that this tendency was ''directly linked to an individual's feeling of a lack of social cohesion or shared values, known as anomie.''
For the non-psycholinguists out there, anomie is defined as ''the lack of the usual social or ethical standards in an individual or group.''
Or, as co-author Dan Jolley of Staffordshire put it, ''People believing in conspiracy theories are more likely to be accepting of everyday crime, while exposure to theories increases a feeling of anomie, which in turn predicts increased future everyday crime intentions.''
Brexit Is Making Life Tough for Amsterdam Homebuyers - Bloomberg
Sun, 31 Mar 2019 15:17
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Cheollima Civil Defense Raided the North Korean Embassy. Here's What to Know | Time
Sun, 31 Mar 2019 12:25
Last month, Spanish media reported that police were investigating after a group of unidentified assailants raided the North Korean Embassy in Madrid.
On Tuesday, the Spanish High Court released a document detailing the Feb. 22 incident. It said 10 people walked into the embassy at around 4:30 pm, carrying machetes, knives and other weapons, and began ''shackling'' staff and ''violently beating'' them. They reportedly seized flash drives, two computers, two hard drives and a mobile phone. Most of the individuals left at around 9:40 pm.
The document identified Adrian Hong Chang, a Mexican national and U.S. resident, as the leader of the raid. He was said to have been wearing a jacket with a pin of Kim Jong Un, and tricked police who arrived at the scene into thinking that he was a member of staff at the embassy.
A group called Cheollima Civil Defense has since claimed responsibility for the incident on its website, and said it shared information ''of enormous potential value'' with the FBI under ''mutually agreed terms of confidentiality.'' But the group denied that any intimidation was involved, and said claims that individuals brandished weapons and attacked embassy workers were false.
What is Cheollima Civil Defense?Cheollima Civil Defense (CCD), which also goes by the name 'Free Joseon,' calls itself an ''organization of refugees who escaped North Korea'' that aims to ''shake the Kim Jong Un regime.'' Its sporadically updated website had its first post on March 7, 2017, which said the group had responded to an ''emergency request'' to protect the family of Kim Jong Nam, the half-brother of leader Kim Jong Un killed in a nerve agent attack in the Kuala Lumpur airport in February that year.
In the same post, CCD wrote, ''If you want to escape or want to share information, we will protect you,'' and that the group has ''already helped many North Korean people'' and expects nothing in return for its services.
Last week, CCD embedded a video posted to its YouTube channel of a person, appeared blurred on camera, violently smashing portraits of the Kim family. The video description read, ''Down with Kim family rule! For our people we rise up! Long live Free Joseon!''
The Spanish High Court named Adrian Hong the leader of the group. Who is he?Adrian Hong is the Managing Director of consultancy firm Pegasus Strategies, a human rights advocate and writer based in the U.S.
Once the Executive Director of Liberty in North Korea, an NGO supporting North Korean refugees, Hong wrote about being arrested in Beijing in 2006 when helping defectors escape through Liaoning, a Chinese province that borders North Korea.
Hannah Song, the CEO of Liberty in North Korea, told TIME via email that Hong co-founded the group as a college student, and has had no involvement with it for more than 10 years.
According to NK News, Hong served as head of the Joseon Institute from 2015, described on its website as a ''think tank conducting policy-relevant research and planning'' on North Korean affairs. The organization's Facebook page was last updated in August 2017.
A source familiar with Hong's activities told NK News that the Joseon Institute was ''a cover, probably, to prepare for all of this.''
Hong has also written on North Korea-related topics for publications including New York Times, Foreign Policy and The Atlantic.
Hong did not immediately respond to TIME's request for comment.
Where do things stand now for Cheollima Civil Defense?According to the court document, the assailants flew to Portugal after the attack. From there, they took a flight to New York. Hong, however, split from the group and flew to New Jersey. Spain has issued international arrest warrants against him and another suspect, Sam Ryu, who is a U.S. citizen of Korean descent.
The court has labelled the CCD a ''criminal organization'' for crimes that include burglary, illegal detention and document forgery. On the CCD's website, the group said Thursday that its operations ''are suspended'' in the wake of ''speculative articles'' in media, which it said it never spoke to or shared any information with.
Write to Hillary Leung at hillary.leung@time.com.
Conditions of Purchase '' Online Auctions '' Bruun Rasmussen Auctioneers of Fine Art
Sun, 31 Mar 2019 12:15
1 Registration as Bidder1.1 Before a bid can be submitted at the online auctions held by BRK, the bidder has to register on bruun-rasmussen.dk. In connection with the registration, the bidder must provide contact information and debit/credit card information, see section 6.1. The bidder is required to make sure that this information is always up to date. In connection with the registration process, the bidder is given a customer number and a personal password.
2 Valuation of Items2.1 All the offered items are valued by BRK. The valuation is an estimate based on the expected hammer price, see section 6.3. The estimate is based on the previous sale of similar items as well as BRK's past experience. The hammer price can, therefore, be higher or lower than the estimated price.
3 Description of Items3.1 Items up for auction are presented with photographs and descriptions in catalogues and on bruun-rasmussen.dk. The description is worded according to the best of BRK's knowledge and based on detailed research in accordance with the prevailing views among experts at the time of sale.
3.2 The items up for auction are of an age and nature that often means that they are in a worn, repaired or damaged condition. As a starting point, everything is sold as used items. The description of the item's condition at bruun-rasmussen.dk is made to the best of BRK's knowledge, but it is not based on scientific studies. The description serves only as a means of identification and as an aid to bidders who are not able to inspect the item at the preview, see section 4.1.
3.3 In some cases, BRK may choose to describe an item's provenance. Such a description is provided if a former owner is publicly known and/or if the story of previous ownership sheds further light on the item and its background. In other cases, such information is left out of the description for reasons such as meeting the seller's wish for privacy.
4 Preview4.1 Items up for auction are presented prior to the auction in one of BRK's showrooms. Potential bidders are encouraged to inspect the item closely and are personally responsible for verifying the condition of the item at these previews, where the bidders also have the opportunity to consult with the valuation experts.
5 The Role of BRK5.1 The sale of an item is facilitated by BRK on behalf of the seller, and BRK always sells an item up for auction to the highest price given during the bidding round.
5.2 Items up for auction can have a reserve price that has been agreed upon with the seller, and the item cannot be sold below this price. This price is made publicly available on bruun-rasmussen.dk and sets the starting point for the bidding round at the online auction.
6 Bidding6.1 Before a bid can be submitted at an online auction, the bidder has to register a debit/credit card information via the personal page on bruun-rasmussen.dk. After the registration, the bidder will be able to submit bids by providing his or her customer number and personal password.
6.2 The currency used while the auction takes place is Danish kroner. All bids are submitted as maximum bids. It means that the bid indicates the maximum amount that the bidder intends to bid. The system will then automatically bid for the bidder and ensure as favourable a hammer price as possible and never bid above the maximum amount set by the bidder. To avoid errors, the bidder is asked to confirm the bid before it is registered.
6.3 The hammer price refers both to the end of the bidding round for an item and to the price (bidding amount) the item is sold for. See section 7 regarding amounts added to the hammer price. If a bid is submitted within two minutes of the expected end of a bidding round at an online auction, then the bidding round is extended by two minutes after the latest bid has been submitted. These two-minute extensions will continue until no bid is submitted within the two-minute extension.
6.4 The buyer is the bidder who submits the highest bid, thereby obtaining the hammer price. At the moment the hammer price is determined, a binding purchase/sales agreement is entered into based on these conditions of purchase.
6.5 If bids are given on behalf of others, the bidder serves as surety for the transaction.
6.6 If a bid is submitted just before the end of the bidding round, there is a risk that the bid will not be registered in time and therefore not be eligible. The bidder cannot raise any claim against BRK as a result of this. See section 16.1.
6.7 BRK can refuse to accept a bid if a sufficient guarantee of the bidder's ability to pay is not provided, or if the bidder has previously defaulted on payment obligations on purchases from BRK.
7 Amounts Added to the Hammer Price7.1 In addition to the hammer price, see section 6.3, the buyer pays a buyer's premium for the individual items as well as the other amounts described below if the conditions for these are applicable. The total amount that the buyer pays to BRK is called the "purchase price".
7.1.1 Buyer's Premium: The hammer price always includes an additional fee to BRK. At the online auctions, the fee consists of 20% of the hammer price + VAT on the fee, 25% in total.
7.1.2 Full VAT: Certain items are sold at auction in accordance with the current rules regarding full VAT. In such a situation, a VAT rate of 25% is imposed on both the hammer price and the buyer's premium. These items are marked on bruun-rasmussen.dk with the symbol "*", or with the text: ''This item is subject to full VAT''.
7.1.3 Artist's Resale Right: In accordance with Danish copyright law, a royalty fee covering the Artist's Resale Right has to be charged for works by newer Danish artists, and some foreign artists, who are either alive or have not been dead for more than 70 years. The royalty fee for the Artist's Resale Right is charged on behalf of VISDA (Visual Rights Denmark). The description of the works includes the text "This lot is subject to Artist's Resale Right" on bruun-rasmussen.dk.
The royalty fee covering the Artist's Resale Right is added to the hammer price + buyer's premium (excluding VAT) if the amount exceeds EUR 300, as indicated below:
Hammer price + buyer's premium (excluding VAT)Payment RateEUR 300-50,0005%EUR 50,000-200,0003%EUR 200,000-350,0001%EUR 350,000-500,0000.5%Over EUR 500,0000.25%The royalty fee covering the Artist's Resale Right cannot exceed EUR 12,500 (excl. VAT) for each item. The fee must be paid in Danish kroner, and the conversion rate (EUR/DKK) is set by VISDA.
7.1.4 Debit/Credit Card Fee: BRK retains the right to collect the debit/credit card fees imposed by the payment services companies. The rates will appear when bidding on bruun-rasmussen.dk and at payment.
8 Payment8.1 The purchase price falls due after the hammer price has been determined. Approximately 12 hours after the bidding round has ended, the purchase price will be charged automatically to the buyer's credit/debit card. The buyer will receive an e-mail containing an invoice and details concerning pick-up, delivery and deadlines.
8.2 Payment can be made with the following credit/debit cards: Dankort, Visa, MasterCard, Maestro, Diners Club and JCB.
8.3 The bidder is required to update the debit/credit card information, including information about the expiry date, cancellation or loss of the card. The bidder may change or delete the information on bruun-rasmussen.dk at any time.
9 VAT Exemption, Payment and Deposit9.1 Some buyers can choose which type of VAT should be applied to the transaction. The choice has to be communicated to BRK no later than two working days after the purchase and cannot be changed subsequently.
Businesses in Denmark registered for VAT can decide that the transaction is to be conducted in accordance with the rules for full VAT, see section 7.1.2.
Businesses registered for VAT in another EU Member State can be exempted from paying Danish VAT if it can be proved that the item has been transported to the foreign address that the buyer has registered with BRK and which is written on the invoice. In such cases, the VAT should be settled according to the rules applicable in the country where the buyer is registered for VAT. It is advisable to consult with the local authorities. The buyer can decide not to be exempt from regular VAT and instead pay Danish VAT on second-hand goods/full VAT.
Buyers residing outside the EU can be exempted from Danish VAT if it can be proved that the item has been transported out of the EU. To the extent possible and for a fee, BRK can issue the necessary export documents for the customs authorities. The buyer may decide not to be exempt from regular VAT and instead pay Danish VAT on second-hand goods/full VAT.
9.2 Companies registered for VAT in another EU Member State and buyers residing outside the EU must deposit the Danish VAT on the amount invoiced with BRK until the export process has been completed in a documented, lawful fashion. If the export is undertaken by one of BRK's authorized forwarding agents, the VAT does not have to be deposited. See the list of authorized forwarding agents on bruun-rasmussen.dk.
10 Overdue Payments10.1 If it is not possible for BRK to charge the purchase price to the buyer's credit/debit card after the bidding round has ended, see section 8.1, BRK will inform the buyer and present a request for payment. Interest on overdue payment will be charged and calculated in accordance with the Danish Central Bank's official lending rate + 8% per year of the amount due.
10.2 If the purchase price, including interest, is still not paid ten days after the demand for this has been presented, BRK is entitled to cancel the purchase.
11 Pick-up and Collection11.1 The title to a purchased item passes to the buyer when the full purchase price, including any interest and fees, has been paid, and only then can the collection of an item take place.
11.2 In connection with the collection of a purchased item, BRK reserves the right to demand satisfactory documentation that the person who wants to pick up the item is either the buyer himself/herself or authorized by the buyer to receive the item on his/her behalf.
11.3 The collection of certain weapons requires presentation of a valid weapons certificate. If such a requirement is applicable, it will be stated in the description of the weapon on bruun-rasmussen.dk.
11.4 The pick-up must take place no later than on the Tuesday of the week after the sale. If this is a public holiday, the pick-up must occur on the next working day.
11.5 If the item(s) is/are not picked up on time, the purchased items will be transported to a warehouse at the buyer's risk and expense. The transport costs are DKK 150 including VAT per item and the storage costs are DKK 150 including VAT per item for each week or part of a week. If an item is left unclaimed for an amount of time that results in the storage costs exceeding the value of the item, BRK will be entitled to, at the buyer's expense and risk and without regard to the reserve price, sell the item at an auction or privately. The buyer is still liable for the costs of transportation and storage not covered by such sale.
12 Shipping 12.1 If the buyer is unable to pick up the purchased items+, BRK offers to pack and arrange delivery either by mail or by freight forwarder at the buyer's risk and expense. See section11.2 regarding identification.
13 Export License13.1 To ensure that Danish cultural heritage of vital importance remains in Denmark, the Danish Cultural Assets Commission can place an export ban on certain items. If the buyer wishes to export an item that is subject to an export ban in Denmark, the purchase will be cancelled and the Danish Cultural Assets Commission is obliged to acquire ownership of the item for the price obtained at auction. The buyer cannot raise any claims against BRK as a result of an export ban.
13.2 Certain items are included in the Washington Convention, also known as CITES. The purpose of CITES is to stop the trade of items made with endangered species and flora. If the item is included in the Washington Convention, CITES, Appendix 1, this will appear in the description of the item on bruun-rasmussen.dk and be marked with the symbol '''—‰'' in the catalogue. The following rules are applicable:
Items that are included in the Washington Convention, CITES, Appendix 1, can only be traded when a dispensation in the form of a CITES certificate has been obtained. BRK obtains the required certificate from the Danish Nature Agency that allows trade and export to countries within the EU. Items that were produced before 1947 can, however, be freely traded within the EU without a certificate.
It is only items included in the Washington Convention, CITES, Appendix 1 that are marked individually on bruun-rasmussen.dk and in our catalogue. Items included in the Washington Convention, CITES, Appendix 2, which can be freely sold and transported within the EU, are not individually marked.
Export to countries outside the EU must, regardless of the year of the item's production, always procure a CITES re-export permit from the Danish Nature Agency if the item is included in the Washington Convention, Appendix 1 and 2. This export permit can usually be obtained without problems, if the item is either sold with a CITES certificate or was made prior to 1947. Appendix 2 items usually also receive a re-export permit without problems.
In connection with export to other countries outside the EU, special rules may apply concerning the subsequent import, and the buyer is encouraged to consult the relevant local authorities about this issue.
14 Right of Withdrawal '' Only Applies to Private Buyers14.1 Without providing any reasons, the buyer is entitled to cancel the purchase no later than 14 days after receiving the purchased item.
14.2 To exercise the right of withdrawal, the buyer must provide BRK with an unambiguous statement that the buyer wishes to cancel the purchase. This can be done by letter or e-mail.
14.3 The right of withdrawal can be invoked if the buyer sends the message before the expiry of the deadline for withdrawal.
14.4 If the buyer exercises the right of withdrawal, BRK will refund all payments received from the buyer no later than 14 days from the date when BRK has received the information about the buyer's decision to cancel the purchase. This includes shipping costs, as long as the buyer cancels the entire purchase and the shipment was booked directly with BRK. BRK completes the reimbursement to the same debit/credit card that the buyer used for the initial transaction unless the buyer has expressly requested otherwise. In any case, the buyer will not incur any further fees as a result of the reimbursement.
14.5 The buyer must return the item or deliver it to BRK at the location where it was on display during the preview without any undue delay and no later than 14 days after the date when the buyer informed BRK of the exercise of the right of withdrawal.
14.6 The buyer must cover the costs relating to the return of the purchase. The buyer is liable for any depreciation in the item's value as a result of improper handling.
15 Defects in the Purchased Items15.1 The lack of conformity rules of the Danish Sale of Goods Act may apply. Below is a non-exhaustive excerpt of the buyer's remedies in regard to lack of conformity.
15.2 The buyer is entitled to cancel a purchase if the description contained significant errors that have led to a higher hammer price than a correct description would have resulted in. In such cases, the total purchase price will be refunded. The buyer cannot demand payment of interest on the purchase price or demand payment of any other expenses or losses.
15.3 A purchase cannot be cancelled and the buyer cannot demand a refund of the purchase price or raise any other claims against BRK if the description of the item is in compliance with section 15.2. The same applies if evidence of forgery has required the use of scientific methods that were either not available at the time of sale, were excessively costly to use or led to the damage of the item in question.
15.4 Claims for a cancellation of a purchase must be notified to BRK when the buyer has discovered the fact that entitles the buyer to cancel the purchase. This notice, however, has to be given no later than two years after the final pick-up date according to section12.4. The item purchased must be returned to BRK in the same condition as it was on the day it was sold at auction. If these conditions are not met, the buyer loses the right to cancel the purchase and cannot claim a refund of the purchase price. The buyer is responsible for paying the costs associated with the return of the item.
16 Objections and Limitations on Liability16.1 BRK is aware that errors, technical difficulties and external abuse or disruptive influences may occur during the auction. Bidders cannot raise any claims against BRK as a result of such events.
16.2 The buyer is always responsible for the correct payment of VAT and other costs, fees etc. in accordance with Danish and foreign regulations.
16.3 Unless otherwise stated in these conditions of purchase, BRK can never be held liable for bidders'/buyers' operating loss, loss of profits, other indirect losses or consequential loss.
17 Personal Data Policy17.1 It is important to BRK to ensure confidentiality and security regarding the bidder's/buyer's personal information. The personal data policy can be found on bruun-rasmussen.dk.
18 Complaints, Dispute Resolution and Applicable Law18.1 BRK can always be contacted if the bidder/buyer has a complaint.
18.2 If the bidder/buyer is a consumer and a solution cannot be found, a complaint can be submitted to the Complaint Resolution Centre, N...vnenes Hus, Toldboden 2, 8800 Viborg, if the conditions for such a complaint are met. The bidder/buyer can complain to the Complaint Resolution Centre on forbrug.dk.
18.3 In Denmark, disputes must be brought before the City Court of Copenhagen, but see section 18.2. The mandatory rules on jurisdiction apply to consumer interests.
Jesper Bruun Rasmussen, auctioneer
Bruun Rasmussen Auctioneers A/S Sundkrogsgade 30, 2150 Nordhavn, Copenhagen '' DK Tel. +45 88 18 11 11, info@bruun-rasmussen.dk
The above is an English translation of the Danish version of the conditions of purchase. In case of a dispute, only the Danish version of the present conditions of purchase of Bruun Rasmussen is valid.
Former CIA leaders give 'briefing book' to 2020 candidates to counteract 'fake news' and 'foreign election interference' - The Washington Post
Sun, 31 Mar 2019 11:52
Two former top CIA officials have compiled an unclassified report on the major national security challenges facing the United States, which they are distributing to every candidate running for president.
The report, which former acting CIA directors Michael Morell and John McLaughlin call a ''briefing book,'' is modeled on the classified oral briefing that the intelligence community provides to the nominees of each major political party running for president, usually after the nominating conventions.
The former officials said they're distributing their briefing now, more than a year before nominees are selected, in response to ''the recent rise and abundance of fake news and foreign election interference,'' according to a copy reviewed by The Washington Post.
The 37-page document, which has not been previously reported, was sent this month to nearly every announced candidate and will soon be sent to President Trump, the former officials said.
[In Saudi rebuke, Democrats see a path to unseat Trump in 2020]
Intelligence agencies have usually viewed their discussions with nominees as a chance to prepare a potential president for the kinds of issues that he or she will have to grapple with, and to give them a sense of the kind of capabilities and expertise that the U.S. government can bring to bear.
But this unclassified document has the feel of an urgent primer, a way to quickly get the candidates up to speed on issues any president will face and to dispel myths and misperceptions.
''We are in­cred­ibly divided as a nation .'‰.'‰. and there are debates about what the facts and the truth are on key issues,'' Morell said. ''When it comes to national security, that's a dangerous thing.''
Morell and McLaughlin, who have participated in the classified presentations to nominees in the past, enlisted former intelligence officials to write short articles highlighting the key issues in their areas of expertise. The briefing book covers 10 topics, including cybersecurity, China's expanding power, U.S.-Russia relations, North Korea's nuclear weapons ambitions and tensions with Iran. Morell, who now hosts a podcast called ''Intelligence Matters,'' where many of these topics are explored, said the group may update the report with new articles, including the national security implications of climate change.
''The only aim in this is to provide a foundation of fact and analysis for debate and discussion,'' McLaughlin said. ''No one has to agree with everything. These are contentious issues. But these are the views of people who have worked on these issues for a long time.''
Morell and McLaughlin said that none of the reports contain classified information, and they submitted the entire briefing book to intelligence agencies for review before distributing it. The agencies raised no objections, and the authors worked without pay, McLaughlin and Morell said.
The report is meant to inform candidates as they begin debates and discuss national security issues, McLaughlin and Morell said. But so far, candidates who have received the material are reluctant to talk about it. Most campaigns have not articulated a foreign policy position yet, so the briefing is reaching them at a time when they are probably just beginning to think about the issues in play.
''It's very helpful information,'' said Patricia Ewing, communications director for Democratic candidate Marianne Williamson. ''What's terrific about the briefing is that all the candidates are getting it and will be on the same page.''
As benign as the document is '-- its findings won't strike foreign policy experts as particularly revelatory, though they are detailed '-- it is inevitably provocative in one respect: It describes the world in ways sometimes at odds with the current president's views.
Take Russia, for instance. Peter Clement, a former career analyst and manager who spent more than 35 years at the CIA, describes the country as a significant global rival, a threat to U.S. and European alliances and concludes that ''prospects for improved relations are not good.''
Trump, on the other hand, has said that his personal relationship with Russian President Vladi­mir Putin can resolve tensions. And he has said that he takes Putin at his word when he claims that the country did not interfere in the 2016 election, an act that the briefing book, along with the consensus view of the U.S. intelligence community, takes as a given and central fact that must inform the United States' approach to Russia.
The briefing book does not take a position on any policy, and in that sense isn't a rebuke to the Trump administration. And it hews closely to the main views of most intelligence agencies, particularly the CIA.
On hot-button issues, the report also contains some warning. Norm Roule, the former national intelligence manager for Iran, writes that ''Iran has threatened to withdraw'' from an agreement struck during the Obama administration that froze its nuclear weapons development program in exchange for sanctions relief. Trump pulled the United States out of the agreement, but Iran has said it will remain in compliance, and U.S. officials have publicly testified that, at least for now, the country has stuck to its commitments and isn't developing nuclear weapons.
''Tehran will remain in the nuclear deal as long as it perceives that the economic and diplomatic advantages outweigh the risks that would come with withdrawal,'' Roule writes. ''Should Iran believe that these advantages are insufficient, it is likely to ramp up its rhetoric over withdrawal from the deal and then undertake symbolic nuclear expansion to encourage concessions from Europe.''
The candidates will have to confront such foreign policy issues on the campaign trail. McLaughlin and Morell said they hope their briefing will help to shape the candidates' views, but they are not advocating for any position or campaign.
''The intelligence community that I spent 33 years in and know today is the least political part of our government,'' Morell said. ''The people who work there are apolitical. They care deeply about the issues they're working on. And they do not allow their policy views or their political views to influence what they're writing.''
Brunei defends its right to stone people to death for homosexuality | Daily Mail Online
Sun, 31 Mar 2019 11:49
Brunei defends its right to stone people to death for homosexuality and adultery under strict new Sharia lawsCountry will implement Islamic laws from April 3, including amputation for theftSultan Hassanal Bolkiah, 72, is the world's second-longest reigning monarchBrunei enforces Islamic teachings more strictly than Malaysia and Indonesia By Dianne Apen-sadler For Mailonline
Published: 13:24 EDT, 30 March 2019 | Updated: 14:47 EDT, 30 March 2019
Brunei has defended its right to stone people to death for homosexuality and adultery under Sharia law against growing global criticism.
Brunei, a Muslim-majority former British protectorate with a population of around 400,000, will implement the new Islamic laws from April 3, punishing sodomy, adultery and rape with the death penalty, and theft with amputation.
The laws, elements of which were first adopted in 2014 and which have been rolled out in phases since then, will be fully implemented from next week.
'The (Sharia) Law, apart from criminalizing and deterring acts that are against the teachings of Islam, also aims to educate, respect and protect the legitimate rights of all individuals, society or nationality of any faiths and race,' the prime minister's office statement said.
Brunei, a Muslim-majority former British protectorate with a population of around 400,000, will implement the new Islamic laws from April 3, punishing sodomy, adultery and rape with the death penalty. Pictured: Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah
'The (Sharia) Law, apart from criminalizing and deterring acts that are against the teachings of Islam, also aims to educate, respect and protect the legitimate rights of all individuals, society or nationality of any faiths and race,' the prime minister's office statement said. Pictured: Brunei
Some aspects of the laws will apply to non-Muslims.
Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, 72, is the world's second-longest reigning monarch and is prime minister of the oil-rich country. He ranks as one of the world's wealthiest people.
Brunei, which neighbours two Malaysian states on Borneo island, already enforces Islamic teachings more strictly than Malaysia and Indonesia, the other majority Muslim countries in southeast Asia. The sale of alcohol is banned and evangelism by other religions is forbidden.
The country does not hold elections, but any discontent is assuaged with generous government polices including zero taxes, subsidized housing, and free healthcare and education.
The expected implementation of the strict Islamic laws has drawn widespread criticism. Politicians in Europe and the United States have attacked the plans and raised concerns with Brunei.
'Stoning people to death for homosexuality or adultery is appalling and immoral,' former U.S. vice president Joe Biden said in a Twitter post on Friday. 'There is no excuse - not culture, not tradition - for this kind of hate and inhumanity.'
Oscar-winning actor George Clooney has called for a boycott of luxury hotels owned by The Brunei Investment Company, such as the Beverly Hills Hotel, the Dorchester in London and the Plaza Athenee in Paris.
Oscar-winning actor George Clooney has called for a boycott of luxury hotels owned by The Brunei Investment Company, such as the Beverly Hills Hotel
"At First We Didn't Believe It": Fast-Melting Greenland Glacier Starts Growing Again In Massive U-Turn | Zero Hedge
Sun, 31 Mar 2019 11:47
A large and fast-melting glacier in Greenland is growing again, according to a new NASA study. The Jakobshavn (YA-cob-shawv-en) glacier on Greenland's west coast had reportedly been retreating by around 1.8 miles and thinning by nearly 130 feet annually in 2012.
May 30, 2012, photo shows an iceberg in or just outside the Ilulissat fjord that likely calved from the Jakobshavn glacier in west Greenland. (Ian Joughin/Associated Press)According to a study published in Monday's peer-reviewed Nature Geoscience, however, the glacier began growing at about the same rate over the past two years. That said, the authors of the study swear it's temporary.
"At first we didn't believe it," said lead author Ala Khazendar who works at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). "We had pretty much assumed that Jakobshavn would just keep going on as it had over the last 20 years."
Jakobshavn glacier (photo: Google Earth)Co-author Josh Willis said that while this is "good news" on a temporary basis, it's still "bad news" over the long term because it means that ocean temperatures are a larger factor in the growth and melting of glaciers than previously thought.
"In the long run we'll probably have to raise our predictions of sea level rise again," says Willis, pointing to inevitable doom from man-made global warming.
"That was kind of a surprise. We kind of got used to a runaway system," said Jason Box, a Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland ice and climate scientist who was not involved in the study.
Think of the ocean temperatures near Greenland like an escalator that's rising slowly from global warming, Khazendar said. But the natural North Atlantic Oscillation sometimes is like jumping down a few steps or jumping up a few steps. The water can get cooler and have effects, but in the long run it is getting warmer and the melting will be worse, he said.
Four outside scientists said the study and results make sense.
University of Washington ice scientist Ian Joughin, who wasn't part of the study and predicted such a change seven years ago, said it would be a ''grave mistake'' to interpret the latest data as contradicting climate change science.
What's happening, Joughin said, is ''to a large extent, a temporary blip. Downturns do occur in the stock market, but overall the long term trajectory is up. This is really the same thing.'' -AP
Of course, what will they say if and when the sun enters a Maunder Minimum in 2020? The last time there was a prolonged solar minimum, it lead to a mini ice-age which was scientifically known as the Maunder minimum
SHTFplan.com's Mac Slavo wrote last November that sunspots have been absent for most of 2018 and Earth's upper atmosphere is responding, says Phillips, the editor of spaceweather.com.
Data from NASA's TIMED (Thermosphere Ionosphere Mesosphere Energetics and Dynamics) satellite shows that the thermosphere (the uppermost layer of air around our planet) is cooling and shrinking, literally decreasing the radius of the atmosphere. This reduction of solar activity could result in a global cooling phase.
''The thermosphere always cools off during Solar Minimum. It's one of the most important ways the solar cycle affects our planet,'' said Mlynczak, according to The New American.
The new NASA findings are in line with studies released by UC-San Diego and Northumbria University in Great Britain last year, both of which predict a Grand Solar Minimum in coming decades due to low sunspot activity.
Both studies predicted sun activity similar to the Maunder Minimum of the mid-17th to early 18th centuries, which coincided to a time known as the Little Ice Age, during which temperatures were much lower than those of today.
The Dangerous Flaws in Boeing's Automated System - The New York Times
Sun, 31 Mar 2019 11:21
This is a Boeing 737 in normal flight, pointed up at a so-called angle of attack of a few degrees. Planes are meant to fly within a certain range, effectively a safe zone for flight.
Boeing's new 737 Max has larger engines placed higher on the plane, creating aerodynamics that can push the nose up in some conditions. If a plane's angle of attack becomes too steep, it could stall and crash.
Boeing developed an automated system called MCAS that uses stabilizers on the tail to push the nose back down and help the plane to avoid a stall.
MCAS relied on only one of two sensors that measured the plane's angle of attack. ''That's not a good engineering system,'' said Bjorn Fehrm, an aeronautical engineer. ''That's where they screwed up royally.''
An angle of attack sensor is believed to have provided faulty data in two deadly Boeing crashes. In the Lion Air crash, one sensor falsely showed that the plane was pointed up at least 20 degrees higher than the other.
The automated system responded by pushing the plane's nose down to what it thought was a safer angle, investigators believe. But it actually pushed the plane to a potentially dangerous angle.
The Lion Air pilots were left to desperately read through a technical manual, struggling to troubleshoot malfunctioning software mid-flight.
Pilots could use stabilizer controls at their thumbs to temporarily counteract MCAS. But if the system still detected a dangerous angle, it would re-engage, pushing the nose down again. On the Lion Air flight, this created a tug-of-war.
The only permanent solution for the pilots would be to turn off the electrical system that runs the stabilizers. Either way, if the pilots don't intervene quickly enough, the plane can go into an unrecoverable nosedive.
Boeing said this week that it was close to updating the MCAS software to rely on data from two sensors, not just one, and to notify pilots if those sensors had conflicting readings. The system would also kick in just once.
As part of the update, the company said Max pilots would need to receive an additional 30-minute training program on the software.
''We're going to do everything that we can do to ensure that accidents like these never happen again,'' said Mike Sinnett, a Boeing executive.
Chuck and Nancy want you to stop talking so much about the Green New Deal '' VICE News
Sun, 31 Mar 2019 11:17
WASHINGTON '-- The day after the Green New Deal went down in a "stunt" Senate vote, Democratic leaders started changing the subject to climate initiatives more palatable to Middle America and less likely for Republicans to whack at.
On Wednesday, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer announced the formation of the Senate Democrats' Special Committee on the Climate Crisis, intended to form consensus on energy and environment policy. The same day, over in the House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the Climate Action Now Act, which would keep the U.S. in the 2015 Paris Climate Accord.
After her press conference '-- where the Green New Deal's biggest champion, freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), was noticeably absent '-- Pelosi refused to directly answer questions from reporters over whether her new bill is more in line with party position than the Green New Deal.
''This is a statement just supporting the Paris agreement. We have miles to go in terms of legislation,'' said Pelosi, flanked by her large security detail and a flock of aides.
The political move, however, is clear: Democratic leaders do not want the party's climate policy to be entirely defined by the Green New Deal, which Republicans are using as a wedge issue to help bolster their chances in 2020. Dems also don't want the policy, most closely associated with lightning-rod Ocasio-Cortez, to hurt the electoral chances of conservative Democrats elected in suburban, swing districts.
WASHINGTON '-- The day after the Green New Deal went down in a "stunt" Senate vote, Democratic leaders started changing the subject to climate initiatives more palatable to Middle America and less likely for Republicans to whack at.
On Wednesday, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer announced the formation of the Senate Democrats' Special Committee on the Climate Crisis, intended to form consensus on energy and environment policy. The same day, over in the House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the Climate Action Now Act, which would keep the U.S. in the 2015 Paris Climate Accord.
After her press conference '-- where the Green New Deal's biggest champion, freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), was noticeably absent '-- Pelosi refused to directly answer questions from reporters over whether her new bill is more in line with party position than the Green New Deal.
''This is a statement just supporting the Paris agreement. We have miles to go in terms of legislation,'' said Pelosi, flanked by her large security detail and a flock of aides.
The political move, however, is clear: Democratic leaders do not want the party's climate policy to be entirely defined by the Green New Deal, which Republicans are using as a wedge issue to help bolster their chances in 2020. Dems also don't want the policy, most closely associated with lightning-rod Ocasio-Cortez, to hurt the electoral chances of conservative Democrats elected in suburban, swing districts.
Mock vote
On Tuesday Republicans mocked the Green New Deal '-- a set of principles that would put the nation on a 100 percent-renewable-energy diet '-- by putting it up for a Senate vote in order to split Democrats and get as many on the record as possibly supporting the measure. Democrats mostly stuck together: 43 voted ''present,'' and four moderates crossed the aisle and voted with the GOP.
And Republican leaders say this won't be the last time moderate Democrats are forced to answer for the proposal.
''I don't think it's going away for them,'' Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), the Senate Majority Whip, told VICE News outside the Capitol while waiting with his security detail for his black SUV to pick him up. ''It's something that they're going to have to own, and they're not going to like that.''
Rep. Ocasio-Cortez says proponents of the Green New Deal aren't afraid of having this high-profile fight for the public to see.
''There is a lot of misinformation around it, and that's fine because that's politics''
''There is a lot of misinformation around it, and that's fine, because that's politics,'' the freshman progressive told VICE News as she walked back to her office after a vote. ''They do the same thing with any policy that wants to help and ambitiously move the needle [and] improve the lives of working Americans, so it's just part of the game.''
The Green New Deal is sponsored by only 13 Senate Democrats, including every presidential candidate in that chamber, so McConnell's political ploy bombed because he failed to get the rest of the party to truly weigh the merits of the measure. Still, the four who opposed it don't mince words on the subject.
''I agree with proponents of the Green New Deal that we need decisive action and ambitious goals to protect our planet for future generations,'' Maine Sen. Angus King, an independent who caucuses with Democrats, said in a statement Tuesday. ''But at the same time, I believe that the best way to fully address this challenge is to set realistic goals.''
Demagoguing the Green New Deal
Other senior Democrats continue to pour cold water on the aspirational aspects of the Green New Deal, even as they voted ''present'' on what amounted to a show vote by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
''My view of climate change legislation is that it should stick with climate change, and not involve education and guaranteed jobs and paid-for health care,'' Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) told reporters at the Capitol ahead of the vote.
Pelosi already has her Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, and Rep. Ocasio-Cortez wasn't appointed to it, which raised eyebrows across Capitol Hill. But it does include freshman Rep. Mike Levin (D-Calif.), who supports the Green New Deal. He denies this new bill is intended to distract from the GOP assault on that more ambitious climate plan. He says the party plans to show it's serious about addressing climate change, and there's no silver bullet, including the new legislation.
''I don't think this is intended to solve the climate crisis. What this is intended to do is remind the world that we care about climate change, we care about taking bold and aggressive steps, as the Paris Climate Accord laid out,'' Levin told VICE News. ''This is a bill that, I think, will send a clear signal that this president doesn't speak for the American people when he decided to withdraw [the U.S. from the accord].''
Still, for Rep. Ocasio-Cortez and other proponents of the Green New Deal, while they may support some proposals that nibble around the edges of climate change, they're vowing to keep pushing party leaders to get behind more drastic climate proposals '' even in the face of the threats from GOP leaders to keep hammering away at the Democratic Party over such a sweeping re-envisioning of the nation's energy sector.
''Our lives are under threat,'' Ocasio-Cortez told VICE News. ''We're either going to sit on our thumbs and think that a carbon tax is going to fix all of the problems, or we're going to acknowledge that that could be part of the solution, but the solution overall needs to be larger.''
Cover image: Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) speaks to journalists after the Democratic House caucus meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC Tuesday March 26, 2019. (Photo by Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
If Solar Panels Are So Clean, Why Do They Produce So Much Toxic Waste?
Sun, 31 Mar 2019 11:02
Bell Labs, 1954. Solar Panel Waste, 2014
Bell Labs & PV CyclePara la traducci"n al espa±ol, haga clic aqu­
The last few years have seen growing concern over what happens to solar panels at the end of their life. Consider the following statements:
The problem of solar panel disposal ''will explode with full force in two or three decades and wreck the environment'' because it ''is a huge amount of waste and they are not easy to recycle.'' ''The reality is that there is a problem now, and it's only going to get larger, expanding as rapidly as the PV industry expanded 10 years ago.'' ''Contrary to previous assumptions, pollutants such as lead or carcinogenic cadmium can be almost completely washed out of the fragments of solar modules over a period of several months, for example by rainwater.'' Were these statements made by the right-wing Heritage Foundation? Koch-funded global warming deniers? The editorial board of the Wall Street Journal ?
None of the above. Rather, the quotes come from a senior Chinese solar official, a 40-year veteran of the U.S. solar industry , and research scientists with the German Stuttgart Institute for Photovoltaics.
With few environmental journalists willing to report on much of anything other than the good news about renewables, it's been left to environmental scientists and solar industry leaders to raise the alarm.
''I've been working in solar since 1976 and that's part of my guilt,'' the veteran solar developer told Solar Power World last year. ''I've been involved with millions of solar panels going into the field, and now they're getting old.''
The Trouble With Solar Waste
The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) in 2016 estimated there was about 250,000 metric tonnes of solar panel waste in the world at the end of that year. IRENA projected that this amount could reach 78 million metric tonnes by 2050.
Solar panels often contain lead, cadmium, and other toxic chemicals that cannot be removed without breaking apart the entire panel. ''Approximately 90% of most PV modules are made up of glass,'' notes San Jose State environmental studies professor Dustin Mulvaney. ''However, this glass often cannot be recycled as float glass due to impurities. Common problematic impurities in glass include plastics, lead, cadmium and antimony.''
Researchers with the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) undertook a study for U.S. solar-owning utilities to plan for end-of-life and concluded that solar panel ''disposal in ''regular landfills [is] not recommended in case modules break and toxic materials leach into the soil'' and so ''disposal is potentially a major issue.''
California is in the process of determining how to divert solar panels from landfills, which is where they currently go, at the end of their life.
California's Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC), which is implementing the new regulations, held a meeting last August with solar and waste industry representatives to discuss how to deal with the issue of solar waste. At the meeting, the representatives from industry and DTSC all acknowledged how difficult it would be to test to determine whether a solar panel being removed would be classified as hazardous waste or not.
The DTSC described building a database where solar panels and their toxicity could be tracked by their model numbers, but it's not clear DTSC will do this.
" The theory behind the regulations is to make [disposal] less burdensome," explained Rick Brausch of DTSC. "Putting it as universal waste eliminates the testing requirement."
The fact that cadmium can be washed out of solar modules by rainwater is increasingly a concern for local environmentalists like the Concerned Citizens of Fawn Lake in Virginia, where a 6,350 acre solar farm to partly power Microsoft data centers is being proposed.
''We estimate there are 100,000 pounds of cadmium contained in the 1.8 million panels,'' Sean Fogarty of the group told me. ''Leaching from broken panels damaged during natural events '-- hail storms, tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, etc. '-- and at decommissioning is a big concern.''
There is real-world precedent for this concern. A tornado in 2015 broke 200,000 solar modules at southern California solar farm Desert Sunlight.
" Any modules that were broken into small bits of glass had to be swept from the ground," Mulvaney explained, "so lots of rocks and dirt got mixed in that would not work in recycling plants that are designed to take modules. These were the cadmium-based modules that failed [hazardous] waste tests, so were treated at a [hazardous] waste facility. But about 70 percent of the modules were actually sent to recycling, and the recycled metals are in new panels today."
And when Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico last September, the nation's second largest solar farm, responsible for 40 percent of the island's solar energy, lost a majority of its panels.
Destroys Solar Farm in Puerto Rico
Bob Meinetz Many experts urge mandatory recycling. The main finding promoted by IRENA's in its 2016 report was that, ''If fully injected back into the economy, the value of the recovered material [from used solar panels] could exceed USD 15 billion by 2050.''
But IRENA's study did not compare the value of recovered material to the cost of new materials and admitted that ''Recent studies agree that PV material availability is not a major concern in the near term, but critical materials might impose limitations in the long term.''
They might, but today recycling costs more than the economic value of the materials recovered, which is why most solar panels end up in landfills. '' The absence of valuable metals/materials produces economic losses,'' wrote a team of scientists in the International Journal of Photoenergy in their study of solar panel recycling last year , and ''Results are coherent with the literature.''
Chinese and Japanese experts agree. ''If a recycling plant carries out every step by the book,'' a Chinese expert told The South China Morning Post , ''their products can end up being more expensive than new raw materials.''
Toshiba Environmental Solutions told Nikkei Asian Review last year that,
Low demand for scrap and the high cost of employing workers to disassemble the aluminum frames and other components will make it difficult to create a profitable business unless recycling companies can charge several times more than the target set by [Japan's environment ministry].
Can Solar Producers Take Responsibility?
In 2012, First Solar stopped putting a share of its revenues into a fund for long-term waste management. " Customers have the option to use our services when the panels get to the end of life stage," a spokesperson told Solar Power World . '' We'll do the recycling, and they'll pay the price at that time.''
Or they won't. ''Either it becomes economical or it gets mandated. '' said EPRI's Cara Libby . ''But I've heard that it will have to be mandated because it won't ever be economical.''
Last July, Washington became the first U.S. state to require manufacturers selling solar panels to have a plan to recycle. But the legislature did not require manufacturers to pay a fee for disposal. ''Washington-based solar panel manufacturer Itek Energy assisted with the bill's writing,'' noted Solar Power World.
The problem with putting the responsibility for recycling or long-term storage of solar panels on manufacturers, says the insurance actuary Milliman , is that it increases the risk of more financial failures like the kinds that afflicted the solar industry over the last decade.
[A]ny mechanism that finances the cost of recycling PV modules with current revenues is not sustainable. This method raises the possibility of bankruptcy down the road by shifting today's greater burden of 'caused' costs into the future. When growth levels off then PV producers would face rapidly increasing recycling costs as a percentage of revenues.
Since 2016 , Sungevity, Beamreach, Verengo Solar, SunEdison, Yingli Green Energy, Solar World, and Suniva have gone bankrupt.
The result of such bankruptcies is that the cost of managing or recycling PV waste will be born by the public. ''In the event of company bankruptcies, PV module producers would no longer contribute to the recycling cost of their products,'' notes Milliman, ''leaving governments to decide how to deal with cleanup.''
Governments of poor and developing nations are often not equipped to deal with an influx of toxic solar waste, experts say. German researchers at the Stuttgart Institute for Photovoltaics warned that poor and developing nations are at higher risk of suffering the consequences.
Maharashtra, India, 2014
Dipak Sheelare Dangers and hazards of toxins in photovoltaic modules appear particularly large in countries where there are no orderly waste management systems'... Especially in less developed countries in the so-called global south, which are particularly predestined for the use of photovoltaics because of the high solar radiation, it seems highly problematic to use modules that contain pollutants.
The attitude of some solar recyclers in China appears to feed this concern. '' A sales manager of a solar power recycling company,'' the South China Morning News reported, ''believes there could be a way to dispose of China's solar junk, nonetheless.''
''We can sell them to Middle East'... Our customers there make it very clear that they don't want perfect or brand new panels. They just want them cheap'... There, there is lots of land to install a large amount of panels to make up for their low performance. Everyone is happy with the result.''
In other words, there are firms that may advertise themselves as "solar panel recyclers" but instead sell panels to a secondary markets in nations with less developed waste disposal systems. In the past, communities living near electronic waste dumps in Ghana, Nigeria, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and India have been primary e-waste destinations .
According to a 2015 United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) report , somewhere between 60 and 90 percent of electronic waste is illegally traded and dumped in poor nations. Writes UNEP:
[T]housands of tonnes of e-waste are falsely declared as second-hand goods and exported from developed to developing countries, including waste batteries falsely described as plastic or mixed metal scrap, and cathode ray tubes and computer monitors declared as metal scrap.
Unlike other forms of imported e-waste, used solar panels can enter nations legally before eventually entering e-waste streams. As the United Nation Environment Program notes , '' loopholes in the current Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directives allow the export of e-waste from developed to developing countries (70% of the collected WEEE ends up in unreported and largely unknown destinations). ''
A Path Forward on Solar Panel Waste
Perhaps the biggest problem with solar panel waste is that there is so much of it, and that's not going to change any time soon, for a basic physical reason: sunlight is dilute and diffuse and thus require large collectors to capture and convert the sun's rays into electricity. Those large surface areas, in turn, require an order of magnitude more in materials '-- whether today's toxic combination of glass, heavy metals, and rare earth elements, or some new material in the future '-- than other energy sources.
Solar requires 15x more materials than nuclear
EP All of that waste creates a large quantity of material to track, which in turn requires requires coordinated, overlapping, and different responses at the international, national, state, and local levels.
The local level is where action to dispose of electronic and toxic waste takes place, often under state mandates. In the past, differing state laws have motivated the U.S. Congress to put in place national regulations. Industry often prefers to comply with a single national standard rather than multiple different state standards. And as the problem of the secondary market for solar shows, ultimately there needs to be some kind of international regulation.
The first step is a fee on solar panel purchases to make sure that the cost of safely removing, recycling or storing solar panel waste is internalized into the price of solar panels and not externalized onto future taxpayers. An obvious solution would be to impose a new fee on solar panels that would go into a federal disposal and decommissioning fund. The funds would then, in the future, be dispensed to state and local governments to pay for the removal and recycling or long-term storage of solar panel waste. The advantage of this fund over extended producer responsibility is that it would insure that solar panels are safely decommissioned, recycled, or stored over the long-term, even after solar manufacturers go bankrupt.
Second, the federal government should encourage citizen enforcement of laws to decommission, store, or recycle solar panels so that they do not end up in landfills. Currently, citizens have the right to file lawsuits against government agencies and corporations to force them to abide by various environmental laws, including ones that protect the public from toxic waste. Solar should be no different. Given the decentralized nature of solar energy production, and lack of technical expertise at the local level, it is especially important that the whole society be involved in protecting itself from exposure to dangerous toxins.
'' We have a County and State approval process over the next couple months,'' Fogarty of Concerned Citizens of Fawn Lake told me, ''but it has become clear that local authorities have very little technical breadth to analyze the impacts of such a massive solar power plant.''
Lack of technical expertise can be a problem when solar developers like Sustainable Power Group, or sPower, incorrectly claim that the cadmium in its panels is not water soluble. That claim has been contradicted by the previously-mentioned Stuttgart research scientists who found cadmium from solar panels ''can be almost completely washed out...over a period of several months...by rainwater.''
Third, the United Nations Environment Programme's Global Partnership for Waste Management , as part of its International Environmental Partnership Center , should more strictly monitor e-waste shipments and encourage nations importing used solar panels into secondary markets to impose a fee to cover the cost of recycling or long-term management. Such a recycling and waste management fund could help nations address their other e-waste problems while supporting the development of a new, high-tech industry in recycling solar panels.
None of this will come quickly, or easily, and some solar industry executives will resist internalizing the cost of safely storing, or recycling, solar panel waste, perhaps for understandable reasons. They will rightly note that there are other kinds of electronic waste in the world. But it is notable that some new forms of electronic waste, namely smartphones like the iPhone, have in many cases replaced things like stereo systems, GPS devices, and alarm clocks and thus reduced their contribution to the e-waste stream. And no other electronics industry makes being ''clean'' its main selling point.
Wise solar industry leaders can learn from the past and be proactive in seeking stricter regulation in accordance with growing scientific evidence that solar panels pose a risk of toxic chemical contamination. ''If waste issues are not preemptively addressed,'' warns Mulvaney , ''the industry risks repeating the disastrous environmental mistakes of the electronics industry.''
If the industry responds with foresight, Mulvaney notes, it could end up sparking clean innovation including ''developing PV modules without hazardous inputs and recycled rare metals." And that's something everyone can get powered up about.
HUD Slaps Facebook With Discrimination Charge | Zero Hedge
Sun, 31 Mar 2019 10:57
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has charged Facebook with "violating the Fair Housing Act by encouraging, enabling, and causing housing discrimination through the company's advertising platform," according to court documents.
HUD said in a statement Thursday that Facebook was "unlawfully discriminating" by allowing advertisers to define the audience based on race, color, national origin, religion, familial status, sex, and disability, in direct breach of the Fair Housing Act.
HUD claims the social media company permitted advertisers to redline poor neighborhoods.
"Facebook is discriminating against people based upon who they are and where they live," said HUD Secretary Ben Carson. "Using a computer to limit a person's housing choices can be just as discriminatory as slamming a door in someone's face."
HUD General Counsel Paul Compton said, "Even as we confront new technologies, the fair housing laws enacted over half a century ago remain clear'--discrimination in housing-related advertising is against the law. Just because a process to deliver advertising is opaque and complex doesn't mean that it exempts Facebook and others from our scrutiny and the law of the land. Fashioning appropriate remedies and the rules of the road for today's technology as it impacts housing are a priority for HUD."
Facebook said that it was shocked by the charges - as it has continued to work with the housing department to "address their concerns" since August 2018.
"While we were eager to find a solution, HUD insisted on access to sensitive information, like user data, without adequate safeguards. We're disappointed by today's developments, but we'll continue working with civil rights experts on these issues," Facebook said.
In Thursday's complaint, HUD announced that anyone who has been hurt by Facebook's illegal advertising practices could seek damages, plus the "maximum civil penalty" for each violation of the housing act.
Facebook came under heavy criticism from U.S. lawmakers last April who grilled the social network for abusive ad targeting, housing, and employment discrimination and hate speech.
The company's ad-targeting practices have also been criticized by ProPublica, which in 2016 revealed that the company allowed advertisers access to ethnic filters. After the report, Facebook pledged new reforms and overhauls of its ad business.
Facebook shares are mixed in Friday's afternoon session up 35bps to 166.10 and down more than 20% since the July 2018 high of 210.
Junked Teslas still held unencrypted video recordings
Sun, 31 Mar 2019 10:25
One of the researchers who uses the pseudonym GreenTheOnly told CNBC that he managed to extract all sorts of data from salvaged Model X, Model S and Model 3 cars in the past. To take a closer look at what Tesla computers can reveal, he teamed up with another white hat hacker named Theo and purchased a totaled Model 3 late last year for research purposes.
The result? They found unencrypted information from at least 17 different devices, including the number of times they were paired to the vehicle, as well as 11 phonebooks' worth of contact information. The researchers also found calendar entries with descriptions of planned appointments, along with the e-mail addresses of those invited. In addition, they unearthed the 73 last locations (and navigation information) the car went to and even successfully extracted the video of the crash itself.
The fact that the automaker doesn't automatically delete such information could be a double-edged sword. Yes, it could be helpful for investigators, but someone with the technical knowledge can hack into a salvaged or a reconditioned Tesla's computer and extract data. They don't even have to worry about having to break any kind of encryption.
A Tesla spokesperson told CNBC:
"Tesla already offers options that customers can use to protect personal data stored on their car, including a factory reset option for deleting personal data and restoring customized settings to factory defaults, and a Valet Mode for hiding personal data (among other functions) when giving their keys to a valet. That said, we are always committed to finding and improving upon the right balance between technical vehicle needs and the privacy of our customers."
Those options, however, might not be enough. A former employee from at least one automotive auction company that Tesla uses to recondition used cars admitted that they don't factory reset the vehicles they sell. And as the researchers proved, it's possible to extract information from cars that go to the junkyard after a crash. If owners try to modify their cars' software on their own, they risk getting software updates much later than everyone else. Apparently, the company flags owners as hackers if they modify or even analyze their vehicle's system.
The Chief Security Officer at BugCrowd, which manages Tesla's bug bounty program, explained to the publication that the company can't just wipe cars automatically. There "could be a forensic need to contain and retain the data," he said. "But I would think that what they will want to work on is a way to have all that stored data encrypted, as it would be on your cell phone," he added.
Trump issued an executive order to prepare for an EMP attack. What is it, and should you worry? - The Washington Post
Sun, 31 Mar 2019 04:31
Nah. But the U.S. should get ready for a very similar threat '-- from the sun. The mushroom cloud of the first test of a hydrogen bomb, as photographed on Enewetak, an atoll in the Pacific Ocean, in 1952. (HO/REUTERS) By Christopher W. Blair ,
March 29No, you don't need to worry about a nuclear EMP. Here's why.
''Only James Bond can save the world from an awesome space weapon that '-- in one short pulse '-- could destroy the earth!'' That's the plot of ''GoldenEye,'' in which bad guys attempt to use an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) weapon to destroy Britain's electrical grid and send it back to the Stone Age.
President Trump believes the danger of an EMP is not just a Hollywood plot device. He recently announced an executive order meant to protect the United States from an EMP, directing federal agencies to coordinate in assessing, planning and guarding against its risks from human and natural sources.
But what is an EMP, and do we really need to worry about it? If it is a real threat, will this new executive order make a difference?
What is an EMP?
An EMP is a high-intensity surge of energy that can disrupt or destroy electronics by, essentially, overloading them. There are two ways an EMP could potentially pose a large-scale threat to U.S. security.
The first is through the detonation of a nuclear warhead at high altitude. We know this because, in 1962, the U.S. tested a nuclear bomb 250 miles above the Pacific Ocean. The test led to electronic disturbance 900 miles away in Hawaii. Specifically, streetlights were blown out, telephones went dead, and U.S., British and Soviet satellites were damaged.
The second is through a natural solar superstorm, known as a geomagnetic disturbance (GMD), which has about a 10 percent chance of occurring every decade, according to NASA. An event like this took place in 1859 and caused telegraph circuits to catch on fire.
Though an EMP is not directly harmful to people, it could lead to deaths by shutting down medical, transportation, communication, banking, finance, food and water systems. In the worst possible scenario, a large-scale EMP could have effects like Hurricane Katrina but on a national scale.
[Candidate Trump criticized Obama's use of executive power. President Trump likes to use executive power.]
Should you worry about EMPs? Probably not that much.
In the doomsday scenarios politicians like to talk about, an adversary like North Korea could detonate a nuclear weapon above the United States, causing an EMP to knock out the electrical grid. Theoretically, any country with nuclear weapons could do this. Fortunately, there's little cause for concern about an EMP attack in isolation, because a nuclear EMP attack would be just that: a nuclear attack. Such brazen aggression would prompt an overwhelming '-- and most likely nuclear '-- American response. Such deterrence makes it unlikely a nuclear EMP attack would happen in the first place.
Nor is it likely that an EMP could be used to prevent U.S. retaliation, as our nuclear infrastructure is already designed to withstand such an attack. And nuclear-armed submarines deployed across the world would not be affected by an EMP directed against the continental United States.
Thus, the prospect of nuclear retaliation will almost certainly deter rival governments.
[Are nuclear weapons keeping the India-Pakistan crisis from escalating '-- or making it more dangerous?]
Technical challenges make an EMP attack harder still. It isn't clear that an EMP would have the devastating effects that some predict. Public data are scarce, but Nobel Prize-winning physicist Jack Steinberger says their destructive capacity is overstated. EMPs' effects depend on many factors, like the altitude of detonation, the yield of the warhead and the strength of Earth's magnetic field. This all makes it hard to predict how much damage an EMP will cause, reducing its strategic value for governments that have only one chance to inflict damage before being destroyed by the response.
Nor is it likely that terrorist groups could conduct a large-scale EMP attack against the United States. Doing so would require acquiring both a powerful nuclear warhead and a sophisticated ballistic missile able to detonate at high altitude. Governments have many reasons not to give nuclear weapons to terrorists. And if by some small chance terrorists managed to acquire such technology, would they really risk it on a relatively untested concept?
[The Trump administration wants to sell the Saudis nuclear technology, without an agreement. That's alarming.]
A more likely terrorist attack scenario is via a high-power microwave (HPM) device, as this kind of weapon is relatively simple and cheap to build '-- the kind that's been suspected of causing the mysterious illnesses that have struck the U.S. diplomatic staff in Havana. However, such a weapon would probably affect electronic devices within only a one-mile range and thus does not pose the strategic threat that a nuclear EMP might.
What should we be worried about? The sun.
While solar GMDs occur rarely, they can indeed interrupt power for an entire city '-- as happened in Quebec for nearly nine hours in 1989. That has the same kind of disruptive potential as a nuclear EMP.
How would a natural GMD blast be different from other large-scale natural disasters like a hurricane? Time. Electromagnetic incidents occur within seconds or even milliseconds over large areas of the country, the relative unpredictability of which could undermine disaster response. In areas where the power infrastructure is especially interconnected, failures could cascade.
There's also an important difference between nuclear EMPs and solar GMDs. The former requires an attacker intent on and capable of launching such a threat. The latter is an inevitable, natural event. For a lot of reasons, governments and terrorists are highly unlikely to launch an EMP attack. Space weather events, on the other hand, happen with some regularity. The first might occur; the second eventually will.
What comes next for Trump's EMP order?
A nuclear EMP may very well be less likely than a GMD. But either way, we don't know whether further investments into U.S. resilience can reduce the impact. Working to better understand the hazards to U.S. infrastructure may be a good investment to evaluate if greater protection against EMPs is worth pursuing.
Will Trump's executive order help accomplish this? Perhaps. But the burden of proof remains on the administration to demonstrate whether taxpayer dollars invested in resilience are worth taking away from other national policy priorities.
Christopher W. Blair (@cwblair10) is a PhD candidate in international relations at the University of Pennsylvania.
Casey Mahoney (@caseymahoney) is a PhD student in political science at the University of Pennsylvania and was Nunn-Lugar Fellow at the U.S. Department of Defense from 2013 to 2017.
Shira E. Pindyck (@spindyck) is a PhD candidate in international relations at the University of Pennsylvania.
Joshua A. Schwartz (@JoshuaASchwartz) is a PhD candidate in international relations at the University of Pennsylvania.
Executive Order on Coordinating National Resilience to Electromagnetic Pulses | The White House
Sun, 31 Mar 2019 04:30
By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, it is hereby ordered as follows:
Section 1. Purpose. An electromagnetic pulse (EMP) has the potential to disrupt, degrade, and damage technology and critical infrastructure systems. Human-made or naturally occurring EMPs can affect large geographic areas, disrupting elements critical to the Nation's security and economic prosperity, and could adversely affect global commerce and stability. The Federal Government must foster sustainable, efficient, and cost-effective approaches to improving the Nation's resilience to the effects of EMPs.
Sec. 2. Definitions. As used in this order:
(a) ''Critical infrastructure'' means systems and assets, whether physical or virtual, so vital to the United States that the incapacity or destruction of such systems and assets would have a debilitating impact on security, national economic security, national public health or safety, or any combination of those matters.
(b) ''Electromagnetic pulse'' is a burst of electromagnetic energy. EMPs have the potential to negatively affect technology systems on Earth and in space. A high-altitude EMP (HEMP) is a type of human-made EMP that occurs when a nuclear device is detonated at approximately 40 kilometers or more above the surface of Earth. A geomagnetic disturbance (GMD) is a type of natural EMP driven by a temporary disturbance of Earth's magnetic field resulting from interactions with solar eruptions. Both HEMPs and GMDs can affect large geographic areas.
(c) ''National Critical Functions'' means the functions of government and the private sector so vital to the United States that their disruption, corruption, or dysfunction would have a debilitating effect on security, national economic security, national public health or safety, or any combination thereof.
(d) ''National Essential Functions'' means the overarching responsibilities of the Federal Government to lead and sustain the Nation before, during, and in the aftermath of a catastrophic emergency, such as an EMP that adversely affects the performance of Government.
(e) ''Prepare'' and ''preparedness'' mean the actions taken to plan, organize, equip, train, and exercise to build and sustain the capabilities necessary to prevent, protect against, mitigate the effects of, respond to, and recover from those threats that pose the greatest risk to the security of the Nation. These terms include the prediction and notification of impending EMPs.
(f) A ''Sector-Specific Agency'' (SSA) is the Federal department or agency that is responsible for providing institutional knowledge and specialized expertise as well as leading, facilitating, or supporting the security and resilience programs and associated activities of its designated critical infrastructure sector in the all-hazards environment. The SSAs are those identified in Presidential Policy Directive 21 of February 12, 2013 (Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience).
Sec. 3. Policy. (a) It is the policy of the United States to prepare for the effects of EMPs through targeted approaches that coordinate whole-of-government activities and encourage private-sector engagement. The Federal Government must provide warning of an impending EMP; protect against, respond to, and recover from the effects of an EMP through public and private engagement, planning, and investment; and prevent adversarial events through deterrence, defense, and nuclear nonproliferation efforts. To achieve these goals, the Federal Government shall engage in risk-informed planning, prioritize research and development (R&D) to address the needs of critical infrastructure stakeholders, and, for adversarial threats, consult Intelligence Community assessments.
(b) To implement the actions directed in this order, the Federal Government shall promote collaboration and facilitate information sharing, including the sharing of threat and vulnerability assessments, among executive departments and agencies (agencies), the owners and operators of critical infrastructure, and other relevant stakeholders, as appropriate. The Federal Government shall also provide incentives, as appropriate, to private-sector partners to encourage innovation that strengthens critical infrastructure against the effects of EMPs through the development and implementation of best practices, regulations, and appropriate guidance.
Sec. 4. Coordination. (a) The Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs (APNSA), through National Security Council staff and in consultation with the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), shall coordinate the development and implementation of executive branch actions to assess, prioritize, and manage the risks of EMPs. The APNSA shall, on an annual basis, submit a report to the President summarizing progress on the implementation of this order, identifying gaps in capability, and recommending how to address those gaps.
(b) To further the Federal R&D necessary to prepare the Nation for the effects of EMPs, the Director of OSTP shall coordinate efforts of agencies through the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC). The Director of OSTP, through the NSTC, shall annually review and assess the R&D needs of agencies conducting preparedness activities for EMPs, consistent with this order.
Sec. 5. Roles and Responsibilities. (a) The Secretary of State shall:
(i) lead the coordination of diplomatic efforts with United States allies and international partners regarding enhancing resilience to the effects of EMPs; and
(ii) in coordination with the Secretary of Defense and the heads of other relevant agencies, strengthen nuclear nonproliferation and deterrence efforts, which would reduce the likelihood of an EMP attack on the United States or its allies and partners by limiting the availability of nuclear devices.
(b) The Secretary of Defense shall:
(i) in cooperation with the heads of relevant agencies and with United States allies, international partners, and private-sector entities as appropriate, improve and develop the ability to rapidly characterize, attribute, and provide warning of EMPs, including effects on space systems of interest to the United States;
(ii) provide timely operational observations, analyses, forecasts, and other products for naturally occurring EMPs to support the mission of the Department of Defense along with United States allies and international partners, including the provision of alerts and warnings for natural EMPs that may affect weapons systems, military operations, or the defense of the United States;
(iii) conduct R&D and testing to understand the effects of EMPs on Department of Defense systems and infrastructure, improve capabilities to model and simulate the environments and effects of EMPs, and develop technologies to protect Department of Defense systems and infrastructure from the effects of EMPs to ensure the successful execution of Department of Defense missions;
(iv) review and update existing EMP-related standards for Department of Defense systems and infrastructure, as appropriate;
(v) share technical expertise and data regarding EMPs and their potential effects with other agencies and with the private sector, as appropriate;
(vi) incorporate attacks that include EMPs as a factor in defense planning scenarios; and
(vii) defend the Nation from adversarial EMPs originating outside of the United States through defense and deterrence, consistent with the mission and national security policy of the Department of Defense.
(c) The Secretary of the Interior shall support the research, development, deployment, and operation of capabilities that enhance understanding of variations of Earth's magnetic field associated with EMPs.
(d) The Secretary of Commerce shall:
(i) provide timely and accurate operational observations, analyses, forecasts, and other products for natural EMPs, exclusive of the responsibilities of the Secretary of Defense set forth in subsection (b)(ii) of this section; and
(ii) use the capabilities of the Department of Commerce, the private sector, academia, and nongovernmental organizations to continuously improve operational forecasting services and the development of standards for commercial EMP technology.
(e) The Secretary of Energy shall conduct early-stage R&D, develop pilot programs, and partner with other agencies and the private sector, as appropriate, to characterize sources of EMPs and their couplings to the electric power grid and its subcomponents, understand associated potential failure modes for the energy sector, and coordinate preparedness and mitigation measures with energy sector partners.
(f) The Secretary of Homeland Security shall:
(i) provide timely distribution of information on EMPs and credible associated threats to Federal, State, and local governments, critical infrastructure owners and operators, and other stakeholders;
(ii) in coordination with the heads of any relevant SSAs, use the results of risk assessments to better understand and enhance resilience to the effects of EMPs across all critical infrastructure sectors, including coordinating the identification of national critical functions and the prioritization of associated critical infrastructure at greatest risk to the effects of EMPs;
(iii) coordinate response to and recovery from the effects of EMPs on critical infrastructure, in coordination with the heads of appropriate SSAs;
(iv) incorporate events that include EMPs as a factor in preparedness scenarios and exercises;
(v) in coordination with the heads of relevant SSAs, conduct R&D to better understand and more effectively model the effects of EMPs on national critical functions and associated critical infrastructure '-- excluding Department of Defense systems and infrastructure '-- and develop technologies and guidelines to enhance these functions and better protect this infrastructure;
(vi) maintain survivable means to provide necessary emergency information to the public during and after EMPs; and
(vii) in coordination with the Secretaries of Defense and Energy, and informed by intelligence-based threat assessments, develop quadrennial risk assessments on EMPs, with the first risk assessment delivered within 1 year of the date of this order.
(g) The Director of National Intelligence shall:
(i) coordinate the collection, analysis, and promulgation, as appropriate, of intelligence-based assessments on adversaries' capabilities to conduct an attack utilizing an EMP and the likelihood of such an attack; and
(ii) provide intelligence-based threat assessments to support the heads of relevant SSAs in the development of quadrennial risk assessments on EMPs.
(h) The heads of all SSAs, in coordination with the Secretary of Homeland Security, shall enhance and facilitate information sharing with private-sector counterparts, as appropriate, to enhance preparedness for the effects of EMPs, to identify and share vulnerabilities, and to work collaboratively to reduce vulnerabilities.
(i) The heads of all agencies that support National Essential Functions shall ensure that their all­hazards preparedness planning sufficiently addresses EMPs, including through mitigation, response, and recovery, as directed by national preparedness policy.
Sec. 6. Implementation. (a) Identifying national critical functions and associated priority critical infrastructure at greatest risk.
(i) Within 90 days of the date of this order, the Secretary of Homeland Security, in coordination with the heads of SSAs and other agencies as appropriate, shall identify and list the national critical functions and associated priority critical infrastructure systems, networks, and assets, including space-based assets that, if disrupted, could reasonably result in catastrophic national or regional effects on public health or safety, economic security, or national security. The Secretary of Homeland Security shall update this list as necessary.
(ii) Within 1 year of the identification described in subsection (a)(i) of this section, the Secretary of Homeland Security, in coordination with the heads of other agencies as appropriate, shall, using appropriate government and private-sector standards for EMPs, assess which identified critical infrastructure systems, networks, and assets are most vulnerable to the effects of EMPs. The Secretary of Homeland Security shall provide this list to the President, through the APNSA. The Secretary of Homeland Security shall update this list using the results produced pursuant to subsection (b) of this section, and as necessary thereafter.
(b) Improving understanding of the effects of EMPs.
(i) Within 180 days of the identification described in subsection (a)(ii) of this section, the Secretary of Homeland Security, in coordination with the heads of SSAs and in consultation with the Director of OSTP and the heads of other appropriate agencies, shall review test data '-- identifying any gaps in such data '-- regarding the effects of EMPs on critical infrastructure systems, networks, and assets representative of those throughout the Nation.
(ii) Within 180 days of identifying the gaps in existing test data, as directed by subsection (b)(i) of this section, the Secretary of Homeland Security, in coordination with the heads of SSAs and in consultation with the Director of OSTP and the heads of other appropriate agencies, shall use the sector partnership structure identified in the National Infrastructure Protection Plan to develop an integrated cross-sector plan to address the identified gaps. The heads of agencies identified in the plan shall implement the plan in collaboration with the private sector, as appropriate.
(iii) Within 1 year of the date of this order, and as appropriate thereafter, the Secretary of Energy, in consultation with the heads of other agencies and the private sector, as appropriate, shall review existing standards for EMPs and develop or update, as necessary, quantitative benchmarks that sufficiently describe the physical characteristics of EMPs, including waveform and intensity, in a form that is useful to and can be shared with owners and operators of critical infrastructure.
(iv) Within 4 years of the date of this order, the Secretary of the Interior shall complete a magnetotelluric survey of the contiguous United States to help critical infrastructure owners and operators conduct EMP vulnerability assessments.
(c) Evaluating approaches to mitigate the effects of EMPs.
(i) Within 1 year of the date of this order, and every 2 years thereafter, the Secretary of Homeland Security, in coordination with the Secretaries of Defense and Energy, and in consultation with the Director of OSTP, the heads of other appropriate agencies, and private-sector partners as appropriate, shall submit to the President, through the APNSA, a report that analyzes the technology options available to improve the resilience of critical infrastructure to the effects of EMPs. The Secretaries of Defense, Energy, and Homeland Security shall also identify gaps in available technologies and opportunities for future technological developments to inform R&D activities.
(ii) Within 180 days of the completion of the activities directed by subsections (b)(iii) and (c)(i) of this section, the Secretary of Homeland Security, in coordination with the heads of other agencies and in consultation with the private sector as appropriate, shall develop and implement a pilot test to evaluate available engineering approaches for mitigating the effects of EMPs on the most vulnerable critical infrastructure systems, networks, and assets, as identified in subsection (a)(ii) of this section.
(iii) Within 1 year of the date of this order, the Secretary of Homeland Security, in coordination with the heads of relevant SSAs, and in consultation with appropriate regulatory and utility commissions and other stakeholders, shall identify regulatory and non regulatory mechanisms, including cost recovery measures, that can enhance private-sector engagement to address the effects of EMPs.
(d) Strengthening critical infrastructure to withstand the effects of EMPs.
(i) Within 90 days of completing the actions directed in subsection (c)(ii) of this section, the Secretary of Homeland Security, in coordination with the Secretaries of Defense and Energy and in consultation with the heads of other appropriate agencies and with the private sector as appropriate, shall develop a plan to mitigate the effects of EMPs on the vulnerable priority critical infrastructure systems, networks, and assets identified under subsection (a)(ii) of this section. The plan shall align with and build on actions identified in reports required by Executive Order 13800 of May 11, 2017 (Strengthening the Cybersecurity of Federal Networks and Critical Infrastructure). The Secretary of Homeland Security shall implement those elements of the plan that are consistent with Department of Homeland Security authorities and resources, and report to the APNSA regarding any additional authorities and resources needed to complete its implementation. The Secretary of Homeland Security, in coordination with the Secretaries of Defense and Energy, shall update the plan as necessary based on results from the actions directed in subsections (b) and (c) of this section.
(ii) Within 180 days of the completion of the actions identified in subsection (c)(i) of this section, the Secretary of Defense, in consultation with the Secretaries of Homeland Security and Energy, shall conduct a pilot test to evaluate engineering approaches used to harden a strategic military installation, including infrastructure that is critical to supporting that installation, against the effects of EMPs.
(iii) Within 180 days of completing the pilot test described in subsection (d)(ii) of this section, the Secretary of Defense shall report to the President, through the APNSA, regarding the cost and effectiveness of the evaluated approaches.
(e) Improving response to EMPs.
(i) Within 180 days of the date of this order, the Secretary of Homeland Security, through the Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, in coordination with the heads of appropriate SSAs, shall review and update Federal response plans, programs, and procedures to account for the effects of EMPs.
(ii) Within 180 days of the completion of actions directed by subsection (e)(i) of this section, agencies that support National Essential Functions shall update operational plans documenting their procedures and responsibilities to prepare for, protect against, and mitigate the effects of EMPs.
(iii) Within 180 days of identifying vulnerable priority critical infrastructure systems, networks, and assets as directed by subsection (a)(ii) of this section, the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretaries of Defense and Commerce, and the Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, shall provide the Deputy Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism and the Director of OSTP with an assessment of the effects of EMPs on critical communications infrastructure, and recommend changes to operational plans to enhance national response and recovery efforts after an EMP.
Sec. 7. General Provisions. (a) Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:
(i) the authority granted by law to an executive department or agency, or the head thereof; or
(ii) the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.
(b) This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.
(c) This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.
THE WHITE HOUSE,March 26, 2019.
President Trump orders gov to prep against EMPs, WaPo laughs it up - TheBlaze
Sun, 31 Mar 2019 04:29
An electromagnetic pulse attack would, in theory, be intended to knock out power, electronics, computers, cell phones, and essentially the infrastructure of modern daily life. An EMP can be produced with nuclear weapons, and currently we aren't very shielded against them.
This week, President Trump issued an executive order directing the Federal government to actions to "foster sustainable, efficient, and cost-effective approaches to improving the Nation's resilience to the effects of EMPs."
The order states that the government "shall engage in risk-informed planning, prioritize research and development (R&D) to address the needs of critical infrastructure stakeholders, and, for adversarial threats, consult Intelligence Community assessments."It directs that the private sector be involved in modernization, including the privately owned electrical grids overseen by utilities, that the government create protocols for providing warning of natural or man-made surges, and come up with department by department assessments.
It further orders that in one year, the assessments of threat and vulnerability be prepared. In short, it directs both research and assessment of the potential hazards.
As with any action taken by President Trump, the Washington Post immediately had an opinion article masquerading as a science report that sniffed at the President's rube-level concern over the silly notion that the United States protect its infrastructure and assets.
"Should you worry?" the headline asks. "Nah," answers the subheading.
The article, labeled as an "analysis" piece, begins with pointing out that the EMP is part of the plot in a James Bond movie. "President Trump believes the danger of an EMP is not just a Hollywood plot device," it reads. It goes on to discuss the complications and deterrents against a military use of an EMP against the United States, including that it would involve a potential nuclear retaliation from the United States.
The article addresses the idea of a terrorist EMP attack by saying that most governments have "reasons not to give nuclear weapons to terrorists," and that, if a terrorist had a nuclear weapon, would they really use it though?
Oddly, it goes on to say that there is the real threat of electromagnetic disruption from nature. They do not point out that the executive order expressly lists the danger of "naturally occurring" pulses among the rationale for hardening and modernizing the infrastructure. It conceded that working to "better understand" the hazards involved, which again is expressly the purpose of the order, is probably worth pursuing.
"Will Trump's executive order help accomplish this?" they ask. "Perhaps," they answer themselves.
"But the burden of proof remains on the administration to demonstrate whether taxpayer dollars invested in resilience are worth taking away from other national policy priorities," they conclude. It doesn't list what the other "policy priorities" are but, judging by the tone and content of the article, one can safely assume those other objectives are something straight off the Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wishlist.
Salesforce Sued For Sex Trafficking... Because Backpage Used Salesforce's CRM
Sun, 31 Mar 2019 04:28
In the latest insane lawsuit regarding the internet and sex trafficking, a group of women who were tragic victims of sex trafficking have decided not to sue those responsible for trafficking them... but online customer relationship management (CRM) provider Salesforce.com. What? Huh? Why? You might ask? Well, apparently it's because everyone's favorite sex trafficking bogeyman, Backpage.com, used Salesforce.com for its CRM. Yup.
While most of the reports on this don't show the lawsuit, CNBC thankfully posted a copy (though it's locked up in Scribd, so we can't embed our own version, unfortunately). The lawsuit makes a bunch of leaps to argue that Salesforce is somehow magically responsible for people doing illegal things on Backpage. The levels of separation between the criminal actions and the liability here are simply ridiculous. Much of the lawsuit tries to suggest that because Salesforce is good at its job in customizing its offerings to its customers, that's proof that it's magically responsible for sex trafficking:
In public, including on Twitter, Salesforce boasted about fighting human trafficking using its data tools.
But behind closed doors, Salesforce's data tools were actually providing the backbone of Backpage's exponential growth.
Salesforce didn't just provide Backpage with a customer-ready version of its data and marketing tools. Salesforce designed and implemented a heavily customized enterprise database tailored for Backpage's operations, both locally and internationally.
With Salesforce's guidance, Backpage was able to use Salesforce's tools to market to new ''users'''--that is, pimps, johns, and traffickers'--on three continents.
Backpage could also use Salesforce's custom tools to remarket to those pimps, johns, and traffickers who had been underusing its trafficking services.
It is inconceivable that the technologies used world-round to manage customer and marketing databases would be put to the immoral and illegal purposes engineered by Backpage and Salesforce.
It should not be our tax dollars, charities, and churches that carry the burden of the catastrophic harms and losses to sex trafficking survivors. That responsibility should fall to companies like Salesforce, that have facilitated and profited from sex trafficking.
Incredibly -- and obnoxiously -- the complaint uses Salesforce's own efforts to help in the fight against sex trafficking against the company. It highlights some of Salesforce's promotional efforts, concerning the fight against sex trafficking, such as this tweet:
And uses that as proof of "knowledge" by Salesforce:
Salesforce knew the scourge of sex trafficking because it sought publicity for trying to stop it. But at the same time, this publicly traded company was, in actuality, among the vilest of rogue companies, concerned only with their bottom line.
The entire assumption underlying the lawsuit is this: that Backpage was only used for illegal sex trafficking and that using CRM can help you increase your "sales," and thus Salesforce is responsible for Backpage increasing sex trafficking. That... is quite the twisted logic there.
The lawsuit was filed in California state court, rather than in federal court, under California state laws -- so there's no direct reference to FOSTA as far as I can tell. However, FOSTA casts its looming shadow over this case. Normally, I imagine that Salesforce would make a straight CDA 230 argument here that it's not responsible for the actions of its users (in this case, Backpage). But, FOSTA potentially takes that away. I say potentially, because based on my reading of the final version of FOSTA, (which is now CDA 230(e)(5)), for a civil lawsuit, FOSTA only exempts cases brought under federal sex trafficking law, and not state laws (for criminal complaints, FOSTA exempts some state sex trafficking charges). So, as plead, I'm not sure if FOSTA even directly applies -- meaning potentially Salesforce could perhaps try to claim that it's still protected by CDA 230 and the FOSTA additions don't help the plaintiffs, but... who knows? Now that we've got this new untested law, I guess we'll find out.
On the whole, though, what a preposterously silly lawsuit. Sex trafficking is a truly horrible thing, and while the complaint filed trots out a bunch of debunked and exaggerated stats about just how big a problem sex trafficking is, the real focus should be on those actually responsible. Going after the CRM provider of a website that traffickers may have used, feels like yet another example of what we've called a Steve Dallas lawsuit after the 1986 Bloom County strip in which lawyer Steve Dallas explains that after getting beaten up by Sean Penn for trying to take a paparazzi photo, he decides not to sue any of the obvious parties, but rather go after the camera manufacturer -- because that's who has the money (click through for the full comic):
Related Articles:Last Friday, the DOJ somehow managed to seize Backpage's websites, despite SESTA/FOSTA still lying on the president's desk waiting for a signature. The anti-Section 230 law, d/b/a an anti-sex trafficking statute, was declared a necessity by supporters -- the only thing able to pierce service provider immunity and somehow bring sex traffickers to justice by... [checks notes] arresting or fining tech company executives.
Last week the Massachusetts court ruled that Backpage had lost its CDA 230 immunity for at least one victim, and this week a court in Florida ruled the same thing (though for dubious reasons). And now the DOJ has seized the entire site, suggesting that the grand jury found the evidence it needed to take it down (we'll reserve judgment on that evidence until the indictment is out).
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BUSTED: Kim Foxx Admits She FAKED Recusing Herself From Jussie Case
Sun, 31 Mar 2019 04:25
Cook County prosecutor Kim Foxx did not actually recuse herself from the Jussie Smollett case as she claimed. Foxx's office was forced to make this admission when confronted with the fact that a real recusal would require putting a special prosecutor in charge, not just a Foxx assistant.
''The state's attorney did not formally recuse herself or the office based on any actual conflict of interest,'' stated her communications officer Tandra Simonton.
Thus, Foxx faked recusing herself to get the pressure off her back for her text messages with Tina Tchen, the former Michelle Obama chief of staff.
One America News Network (OAN) ran a segment Wednesday covering Hungarian-born progressive billionaire George Soros' six-figure spending to put Kim Foxx in office as the prosecutor in Cook County, Illinois in 2016.
Soros gave more than $400,000 to super PAC's supporting Foxx in the race, which put her in the position to cut Jussie Smollett a sweetheart deal. Foxx's office arranged to drop all charges against Smollett after Michelle Obama's former chief of staff Tina Tchen personally texted Foxx on Smollett's behalf. Smollett faked a violent hate crime against himself, which he blamed on fictional President Donald Trump supporters.
Read More...Related Articles:Data from Uber helped land actor Jussie Smollett in jail.On Wednesday, Chicago police officially charged Smollett, an actor with a role on the hit Fox series ''Empire,'' with filing a false police report, a felony crime.The next day, Smollett turned himself in to authorities, and they shared details on how they built their case '-- and it turns out that Uber data played a significant role.
Empire actor Jussie Smollett surrendered himself to authorities Thursday morning after 5 a.m., after Chicago PD charged him with one count of felony disorderly conduct for filing a false police report connected with a hate-crime hoax, reports ABC 7 Chicago.
Jussie Smollett is officially being charged for orchestrating his hate hoax.
Two law enforcement sources with knowledge of the investigation told CNN that Chicago Police believe Jussie Smollett paid two men to orchestrate the assault.
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Uber and Lyft strikes: two drivers explain why they're protesting.
Sun, 31 Mar 2019 04:24
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NXIVM - Wikipedia
Sun, 31 Mar 2019 01:55
American multi-level marketing company
NXIVM ( NEKS -ee-Ém) is a suspended multi-level marketing company based in the State of New York that offered personal and professional development seminars through its "Executive Success Programs".[2]
NXIVM has been labeled by several journalists as a pyramid scheme, a sex-trafficking operation, and a sex cult. NXIVM has also been accused by former members of the organization of being a recruiting platform for a cult operating within it (variously called "DOS" or "The Vow") in which women were branded and forced into sexual slavery.
In early 2018, NXIVM founder Keith Raniere and associate Allison Mack were arrested and indicted on federal charges related to DOS, including sex trafficking.[3][4] Trial is scheduled to commence on April 29, 2019. In March 2019, NXIVM co-founder Nancy Salzman pleaded guilty to a racketeering charge. Company operations have been suspended as of May 2018.
History [ edit ] In 1998, Keith Raniere and Nancy Salzman (who would serve as the company's president) founded NXIVM, offering "Executive Success Programs" ("ESPs") and a range of techniques aimed at self-improvement.[5][6][7] Raniere stressed that the programs' "main emphasis is to have people experience more joy in their lives."[6] In 2003, Forbes magazine reported that some 3,700 people had taken part in ESP offerings, naming Sheila Johnson, Antonia Novello, Stephen Cooper of Enron, and Ana Cristina Fox, daughter of former Mexican president Vicente Fox.[8] Other participants were later reported to include Richard Branson, Linda Evans, Allison Mack, Kristin Kreuk, Grace Park, Nicki Clyne, and Sarah Edmondson.[9][better source needed ] (After Raniere's 2018 arrest, Branson denied having taken the class.[10][11]) In the early 2000s, Seagram heiresses Clare and Sara Bronfman, the daughters of Edgar Bronfman Sr., became attached to the organization.[12][7]
During seminars, students were expected to call Raniere and Salzman "Vanguard" and "Prefect", respectively.[13][14][15]The Hollywood Reporter stated that Raniere "adopted the title 'Vanguard' from a favorite arcade game he had played as a child, in which the destruction of one's enemies increased one's own power."[16] Within the organization, the reasoning for the titles was that Raniere was the leader of a philosophical movement and Salzman was his first student.[7]
A prior business venture of Raniere's, Consumers Buyline,[12] was accused by the New York Attorney General of having been a pyramid scheme; Raniere signed a consent order in 1996 in which he denied any wrongdoing, but agreed to pay a $40,000 fine and to be permanently banned from "promoting, offering or granting participation in a chain distribution scheme".[17]
NXIVM's training is a trade secret, subject to non-disclosure agreements, but reportedly uses a technique the organization calls "rational inquiry" to facilitate personal and professional development. In 2003, NXIVM sued the Ross Institute, alleging copyright infringement for publishing excerpts of content from its manual in three critical articles commissioned by cult investigator Rick Alan Ross and posted on his website. Ross posted a psychiatrist's assessment of NXIVM's "secret" manual on his website '' the report called the regimen "expensive brainwashing". The manual was obtained by Ross from former member Stephanie Franco, a co-defendant in the trial, who had signed a non-disclosure agreement not to divulge information from the manual to others. NXIVM filed suits in both New York and New Jersey, but both were later dismissed.[9][18]
In October 2003, Forbes published an article on NXIVM and Raniere.[8]Vanity Fair subsequently reported of the article: "People at NXIVM were stunned. Expecting a positive story, the top ranks had spoken to Forbes, including Raniere, Salzman, and Sara Bronfman. What upset them above all were Edgar Bronfman's remarks. 'I think it's a cult,' he told the magazine, going on to say that he was troubled about the 'emotional and financial' investment in NXIVM by his daughters, to whom he hadn't spoken in months."[12] In 2006, Forbes published an article about the Bronfman sisters, stating that they had taken out a line of credit to loan NXIVM US$2 million, repayable through personal training sessions from Salzman, and for Salzman being available to take calls from Clare.[19] And a third Forbes article in 2010 discussed the failures of commodities and real-estate deals made pursuant to Raniere's advice.[20]
In 2006, actress Kristin Kreuk became involved with NXIVM, and Salzman and her daughter Lauren went to Vancouver to recruit Kreuk's Smallville costar Allison Mack.[16] The younger Salzman (herself a junior NXIVM leader[7]) bonded with Mack and the latter became involved,[16] although Kreuk would subsequently leave NXIVM.[21] Mack became "an enthusiastic proselytizer" for NXIVM, persuading her parents to take courses, and, after wrapping production of Smallville in 2011, moved to Clifton Park, New York near NXIVM's home-base in Albany.[16]
The World Ethical Foundations Consortium (an organization co-founded by Clare and Sara Bronfman and Raniere) sponsored a visit to Albany by the 14th Dalai Lama in 2009. The visit was initially cancelled due to negative press surrounding NXIVM,[22] but was rescheduled, and the Dalai Lama spoke at Albany's Palace Theatre in May 2009.[23] Subsequently, in 2017, Lama Tenzin Dhonden, the self-styled "Personal Emissary for Peace for the Dalai Lama," who had arranged the appearance, was suspended from his position amid corruption charges; the investigation also revealed a personal relationship between Dhonden and Sara Bronfman, which began in 2009.[24]
NXIVM has been labeled by several journalists as a pyramid scheme,[25][4][26][5] a sex-trafficking operation, and a sex cult.[27] A report by the Ross Institute described its seminars as "expensive brainwashing."[9] For several years, NXIVM was accused of being a cult controlled by Raniere.[28] In a 2010 article in the Albany Times Union, former NXIVM coaches characterized students as "prey" for use by Raniere in satisfying his sexual or gambling-related proclivities.[29] Kristin Keeffe (a longtime partner of Raniere and mother of his child) left the group in 2014, describing Raniere as "dangerous" and stating that "[a]ll the worst things you know about NXIVM are true."[30]
Revelations and arrests (2017-present) [ edit ] Starting with an October 2017 article in The New York Times, details began to emerge about DOS, a "secret sisterhood" within NXIVM, in which female members were allegedly referred to as "slaves," branded with the initials of Raniere and Mack, subjected to corporal punishment from their "masters," and required to provide nude photos or other potentially damaging information about themselves as "collateral."[26][6][31][32][5] It has also been alleged that members of DOS were forced into sexual slavery.[33][28][34][35][8][36]
Sarah Edmondson, a Canadian actress who had been an ESP participant since 2005, said that she left the group after Mack inducted her into DOS the preceding March at her Albany house. Edmondson alleged that participants were blindfolded naked, held down by Mack and three other women, and branded by NXIVM-affiliated doctor Danielle Roberts, using a cauterizing pen.[26][6][37][38][16] (Edmondson subsequently filed a complaint with the New York Department of Health against Roberts, but the agency replied that it lacked jurisdiction because the alleged actions did not occur in a doctor''patient relationship, and advised Edmondson to report the matter to the police.[39][26][better source needed ]) Appearing on an A&E show about cults, Edmondson would provide additional context on the use of the "collateral" concept, stating that it was used in innocuous forms from the earliest, outermost stages of NXIVM in order to acclimatize victims'--for example, collateralizing small amounts of money that one might forfeit if one did not go to the gym one day.[6][7] The Times would later report that "hundreds" of members left NXIVM after Edmondson went public about her experience.[7]
On December 15, 2017, the ABC news magazine 20/20 aired an expos(C) featuring interviews with many former NXIVM adherents, including Edmondson and Catherine Oxenberg, who alleged that her daughter, India Oxenberg, was in danger due to the group. Several former members reported financial and sexual predation carried out by NXIVM leaders.[26][31][40]
Edmondson was featured in "Escaping NXIVM", during the first season of the CBC podcast Uncover.[41]
Arrests, indictments, plea deals, and suspension of operations [ edit ] In March 2018, Raniere was arrested and indicted on a variety of charges related to DOS, including sex trafficking, sex trafficking conspiracy, and conspiracy to commit forced labor.[3][42] He was arrested in Mexico and held in custody in New York after appearing in Federal Court in Fort Worth, Texas.[43] The indictment alleged that at least one woman was coerced into sex with Raniere, who forced DOS members to undergo the branding ritual alleged by Edmondson and others.[44][45]United States Attorney Richard Donoghue stated that Raniere "created a secret society of women whom he had sex with and branded with his initials, coercing them with the threat of releasing their highly personal information and taking their assets,'' and the FBI's New York Field Office Assistant Director-in-Charge stated that Raniere "displayed a disgusting abuse of power in his efforts to denigrate and manipulate women he considered his sex slaves.''[5]
On April 20, 2018, Mack was arrested and indicted on similar charges to Raniere's. According to prosecutors, after she recruited women into first NXIVM and then DOS, Mack coerced them into engaging in sexual activity with Raniere and performing menial tasks for which she was allegedly paid by Raniere.[16] Mack was alleged to be second in command of NXIVM after Raniere.[16][21][46][47][48] On April 24, Mack was released on $5 million bond pending trial and held under house arrest with her parents in California.[49][50]
If convicted of all charges, Mack and Raniere face a minimum of 15 years and up to life in prison.[51] On May 4, Raniere pleaded not guilty.[52] The court rejected defense attorneys' request for an "early summer" trial and scheduled the trial for October 1.[53] Lawyers for Raniere said that "everything was consensual," adding that "there are well-known groups of men who brand themselves... A group of women do that and suddenly they're 'victims'[?]... I'm not qualified to say what is normal."[52][54]
In April 2018, the New York Post reported that NXIVM had moved to Brooklyn, New York and was being led by Clare Bronfman.[55]
Salzman's home was raided shortly after Raniere's arrest,[5] and prosecutors stated during his arraignment that further arrests and a superseding indictment for Raniere and Mack should be expected.[53][54] In late May, authorities moved to seize two NXIVM-owned properties near Albany.[56]
Clare Bronfman responded to the arrests in a post on the NXIVM website stating that she ''still support[s] NXIVM and Keith Raniere'' because ''I've seen so much good come from both our programs and from Keith himself'' and insisting that ''neither NXIVM nor Keith have abused or coerced anyone.''[57] The same post seemingly confirmed the existence of DOS, stating of the "secret sisterhood": ''[W]hile I am not and never have been a member of the sorority... [it] has not coerced nor abused anyone. In fact, the sorority has truly benefited the lives of its members, and does so freely. I find no fault in a group of women... freely taking a vow of loyalty and friendship with one another to feel safe while pushing back against the fears that have stifled their personal and professional growth. It's not for any of us to judge how they, or anyone else, choose to advance their lives and values.''[57]
On May 24, 2018, NXIVM announced on its website that it was "suspending all NXIVM/ESP enrollment, curriculum and events until further notice" due to "extraordinary circumstances facing the company...."[58][59]Bronfman, the heiress to the Canadian Seagram family fortune, was arrested on July 24, 2018, and charged with racketeering. She was released to house arrest after signing a $100 million bail bond. Also arrested and charged with the same crime were Nancy Salzman, NXIVM's president, her daughter Lauren Salzman, and another NXIVM employee, Kathy Russell.[60][61]
On March 13, 2019, Nancy Salzman pleaded guilty to a charge of racketeering criminal conspiracy. Her daughter, Lauren Salzman, was also charged in the case.[62][63][64]
Keith Raniere and Allison Mack are scheduled to be tried in federal court beginning on April 29, 2019.[65][66]
References [ edit ] ^ Saul, Emily (January 23, 2019). "Brooklyn judge finds 'issues' with Nxivm defense fund". nypost.com . Retrieved January 24, 2019 . ^ {{cite web |work= nxivm.com |url= https://www.nxivm.com/%7Ctitle=NXIVM Home Page ^ a b "Leader of NY Group Branded Women, Made Them Sex Slaves: Feds". nbcnewyork.com. NBCUniversal Media, LLC. March 26, 2018 . Retrieved April 21, 2018 . ^ a b "The Only (Alleged) Sex-Slave Cult Story You Need to Understand: Kirsten Gillibrand's Weakness as a 2020 Candidate". Slate.com. March 28, 2018 . Retrieved May 18, 2018 . ^ a b c d e "Who is Keith Raniere? Self-help guru accused of sex trafficking". Newsweek. March 28, 2018 . Retrieved April 22, 2018 . ^ a b c d e A&E Cults and extreme believes S1E1, aired May 28, 2018, last accessed May 30, 2018, https://www.aetv.com/shows/cults-and-extreme-belief/season-1/episode-1. ^ a b c d e f "The 'Sex Cult' That Preached Empowerment". New York Times. May 30, 2018 . Retrieved May 30, 2018 . ^ a b c Freedman, Michael (October 13, 2003). "Cult of Personality". Forbes. New York . Retrieved April 24, 2018 . ^ a b c K¶hler, Nicholas (September 13, 2010). "How to Lose $100 Million". Maclean's . Retrieved March 22, 2011 . ^ "This Keith Raniere Sex-Cult Story Is Much Deeper Than Allison Mack's Arrest". Vanity Fair. April 20, 2018 . Retrieved March 30, 2018 . ^ "A Top NXIVM Sex Cult Recruiter Comes Forward, Says Founder 'Messed With the Wrong Person ' ". The Daily Beast. March 26, 2018 . Retrieved March 30, 2018 . ^ a b c Andrews, Suzanna (October 13, 2010). "The Heiresses and the Cult" . Retrieved April 18, 2018 . ^ Odato, James; Gish, Jennifer (February 11, 2012). "Secrets of NXIVM". Albany Times Union . Retrieved February 10, 2018 . ^ Barcella, Laura (November 21, 2017). "Is NXIVM a Cult? What We Know". RollingStone.com . Retrieved February 10, 2018 . ^ Andrews, Suzanna (October 13, 2010). "The Heiresses and the Cult". VanityFair.com . Retrieved February 10, 2018 . ^ a b c d e f g "Her Darkest Role: Actress Allison Mack's Descent From 'Smallville' to Sex Cult". May 16, 2018 . Retrieved May 18, 2018 . ^ " ' Ample evidence' to justify investigation". February 20, 2012 . Retrieved April 18, 2018 . ^ "NXIVM Corp. v. Ross". legal case. Citizen media law company . Retrieved February 10, 2012 . ^ Berman, Phyllis; Gillies, Andrew T.; Novack, Janet; Egan, Mary Ellen; Blakeley, Kiri (June 24, 2006). "The Bronfmans And the Cult". Forbes . Retrieved July 24, 2006 . ^ Vardi, Nathan (March 29, 2010). "The Bronfmans and The 'Cult ' ". Forbes . Retrieved February 11, 2018 . ^ a b " ' Smallville' Actress Kristin Kreuk 'Horrified and Disgusted' by Nxivm Cult She Left" . Retrieved May 18, 2018 . ^ Ettkin, Brian (April 6, 2009). "Dalai Lama Cancels His Visit to Albany". The News-Times . Retrieved November 2, 2011 . ^ Caprood, Tom (May 7, 2009). "Dalai Lama fills Palace with message of compassion". TroyRecord.com . Retrieved February 10, 2018 . ^ "Suspended Lama Tenzin Dhonden Had A Lover Too!". Tibetan Journal. 2017-11-01 . Retrieved 2018-08-13 . ^ Odato, James. "Lawyer attacks NXIVM 'scheme ' ". TimesUnion.com. The Hearst Corporation . Retrieved November 13, 2017 . ^ a b c d e Meier, Barry. "Inside a Secretive Group Where Women Are Branded". NY Times . Retrieved October 18, 2017 . ^ "Heiress among four arrested in 'sex cult ' ". 25 July 2018 . Retrieved 14 January 2019 '' via www.bbc.com. ^ a b Cohan, William D. (November 18, 2014). "How a Strange, Secretive, Cult-like Company Is Waging Legal War Against Journalists". The Nation . Retrieved May 27, 2015 . ^ Odato, James (November 22, 2010). "Ex-NXIVM trainer: Students are prey". Times Union. ^ Odato, James (May 12, 2014). "A split from NXIVM". Times Union. ^ a b "Former NXIVM member says she was invited into a secret sorority, then branded". abcnews.go.com. ABC News. December 16, 2017 . Retrieved February 10, 2018 . ^ Barcella, Laura (2018-03-28). "NXIVM: What We Know About Alleged Sex Trafficking, Forced Labor". Rolling Stone . Retrieved 2018-04-20 . ^ "Women say they were branded and traumatized by secret group's doctors". CBSNews.com. CBS . Retrieved November 13, 2017 . ^ Odato, James M. (September 7, 2010). "Ex-NXIVM Student: 'I Think It's a Cult ' ". Times Union. ^ >Odato, James (Jan 31, 2011). "Papers Reveal NXIVM Secrets". TimesUnion.com. ^ "What is Nxivm?". March 27, 2018 . Retrieved April 18, 2018 . ^ CBC News (27 October 2017). "Canadian woman says she was ritually branded and indoctrinated by a 'cultish group' in the U.S." '' via YouTube. ^ "Vancouver woman says scars from ritual 'branding' fuel her fight against 'cultish' group". CBC. October 27, 2017. ^ Times), News Documents (The New York. "ResponseEdmondson". www.documentcloud.org. ^ ABC News (16 December 2017). "Former NXIVM member describes being branded in secret sorority initiation: Part 1" '' via YouTube. ^ "Excaping NXIVM". cbc.ca. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 5 September 2018 . Retrieved 13 November 2018 . ^ Siemaszko, Corky (2018-05-04). "Self-help guru denies enslaving, branding women in Nxivm sex cult". NBC News . Retrieved 2018-05-16 . ^ "Leader of alleged cult that ensnared Vancouver woman appears in court". CBC. March 27, 2018. ^ "Feds say self-help guru coerced followers into sex, had them branded with a cauterizing pen". Washington Post. March 3, 2018. ^ "NXIVM female sex "slaves" allegedly branded with secretive group leader's initials". CBS. Associated Press. March 27, 2018. ^ "Founder of "NXIVM," a Purported Self-Help Organization, and Actor Indicted for Sex Trafficking and Forced Labor Conspiracy". www.justice.gov . Retrieved April 23, 2018 . ^ "Smallville Actress Arrested for Role in Alleged Sex Cult that Branded and Enslaved Women". Time . April 20, 2018. ^ Helmore, Edward (April 22, 2018). "Smallville's Allison Mack was allegedly a 'top member' of cult that abused women". The Guardian . Retrieved April 24, 2018 . ^ "Allison Mack of "Smallville" granted bail in sex cult case". ^ Gonzalez, Sandra (2018-04-24). "Allison Mack granted bail in sex trafficking case". CNN . Retrieved 2018-05-03 . ^ Park, Andrea (2018-04-21). " " Smallville" actress Allison Mack arrested for role in NXIVM sex cult". CBS News . Retrieved 2018-05-16 . ^ a b "Self-help guru denies enslaving, branding women in sex cult". NBC News. 2018-05-04 . Retrieved 2018-05-04 . ^ a b "Raniere, Mack appear in court on sex-slavery charges". Albany Times-Union. 2018-05-04 . Retrieved 2018-05-04 . ^ a b "Trial date set for Keith Raniere and Allison Mack". Albany News 10. 2018-05-04 . Retrieved 2018-05-04 . ^ https://nypost.com/2018/04/21/sex-cult-moves-to-brooklyn-and-is-ready-for-war/ ^ "Foreclosure Complaint Reveals NXIVM Sex Cult Rituals In Upstate New York". May 24, 2018 . Retrieved May 29, 2018 . ^ a b http://www.executivesuccessprograms.com/a-note-from-our-executive-board-member-clare-bronfman/ ^ Parlato, Frank (2018-05-25). "Nxivm announces it has suspended all classes, enrollment and events". Frank Report . Retrieved 2018-05-25 . ^ "NXIVM Website" . Retrieved 2018-05-25 . ^ "Clare Bronfman, Seagram's heiress, arrested in Nxivm sex-trafficking case". globalnews.ca . Retrieved July 24, 2018 . ^ Proctor, Jason (2018-07-24). "Seagram's heiress Clare Bronfman charged in connection with alleged sex cult NXIVM Bronfman and five others accused of racketeering related to operations of a cult-like pyramid group". CBC . Retrieved 2018-07-24 . ^ Brendan, Pierson (2019-03-13). "Self-help guru Raniere faces U.S. child porn charges; associate pleads guilty". Reuters . Retrieved 2019-03-14 . ^ Saul, Emily (2019-03-13). "Nxivm co-founder Nancy Salzman pleads guilty in sex cult case". New York Post . Retrieved 2019-03-14 . ^ https://www.cbsnews.com/news/allison-mack-nxivm-case-smallville-actress-possible-plea-negotiations-keith-raniere-pleads-not-guilty-in-sex-cult-case/ ^ https://www.news10.com/news/local-news/nxivm-trial-date-pushed-back-for-high-ranking-nxivm-members/1706419983 ^ https://frankreport.com/2019/01/15/judge-postpones-nxivm-trial-until-april-29th-previously-scheduled-for-mid-march/ External links [ edit ] Keith Raniere official website Three critical articles pertaining to the NXIVM v. Ross Institute lawsuitTimes Union Special Report on NXIVMFrank Report
Seagram's heiress Clare Bronfman faints when asked about Avenatti
Sun, 31 Mar 2019 01:50
Carlo Allegri | Reuters
Lawyer Michael Avenatti speaks to the media after he walks out of federal court in New York, New York, U.S., March 25, 2019.
Clare Bronfman, an heiress to the Seagram liquor fortune, fainted Wednesday in federal court in New York City after a judge asked if she was being secretly represented by embattled celebrity lawyer Michael Avenatti in a case where she is charged with money laundering and identity theft involving the alleged sex-cult NXIVM.
After Bronfman's fainting spell, it was revealed in open court that Avenatti had, in fact, last week met with federal prosecutors in Brooklyn about her case, according to a knowledgeable source. The details of that meeting were not disclosed.
With him at that sitdown was a lawyer known to be representing Bronfman, fellow celebrity lawyer Mark Geragos, who has been identified as an alleged co-conspirator of Avenatti's in a purported scheme to extort sneaker giant Nike, a prosecutor told the judge in the case. Geragos has not been criminally charged with Avenatti.
Bronfman's apparent collapse in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn came two days after Avenatti was accused by federal prosecutors in Manhattan and Los Angeles of trying to extort Nike for up to $25 million, defrauding a client out of a legal settlement, and defrauding a bank by offering the lender bogus income tax returns.
The hearing in Brooklyn was called to apprise Bronfman of the possible conflicts her lawyers would have in representing her in her own criminal case, given their potential legal exposure to the same Justice Department that is prosecuting her. While Geragos has filed an appearance in Bronfman's case as her lawyer, Avenatti has not '-- despite meeting with prosecutors about her.
NXIVM's supporters have said it was a self-help group that wanted to change the world for the better, but federal prosecutors claim it was actually an illegal pyramid scheme that funneled money to its leaders and offered its spiritual leader, Keith Raniere, access to sex slaves.
Bronfman is the daughter of the late Seagram CEO Edgar Bronfman. She is free on $100 million bond.
Judge Nicholas Garaufis, a source told CNBC, was asking Bronfman "about Avenatti" when one of her lawyers objected to the line of questioning. The judge then held a sidebar conference with lawyers, out of earshot of reporters and others in the courtroom.
"The judge was very upset because he had not been informed that she had retained Avenatti," which was not disclosed to the judge last week before he held another hearing to discuss possible conflicts of interest that could result from Bronfman funding the attorney costs of her co-defendants, the source said.
"It appeared that the judge was very heated," the source said.
After the sidebar ended, the judge called a five-minute adjournment.
As Bronfman was walking back toward the rear of the courtroom, "she appeared to be wobbling on her feet, and she started to collapse, and her attorney mark Geragos caught her from behind," the source said.
"She didn't hit the floor, her knees start buckling," the source said. "She was very pale."
Emergency medical technicians from the New York Fire Department and other medical workers went to the court in response. But Bronfman declined to go to the hospital. The hearing in the case was continued until Thursday.
While Geragos is not charged with Avenatti, he has been identified as the person who prosecutors in court papers claim acted as a co-conspirator in Avenatti's alleged scheme to shakedown Nike in the past week by threatening to expose damaging information about the sneaker giant.
Geragos refused to answer questions about his purported role as a co-conspirator of Avenatti.
Avenatti did not immediately return a request for comment from CNBC.
Avenatti has said he will be exonerated in the criminal cases he faces.
He gained widespread attention in the past year for representing porn star Stormy Daniels in her lawsuits against President Donald Trump, whose personal lawyer Michael Cohen had paid her $130,000 in hush money to keep her quiet about an alleged affair with Trump. The president denies having sex with her.
Daniels recently severed ties with Avenatti.
The Implications of Fusing 5G and Blockchain | Cointelegraph
Sun, 31 Mar 2019 01:32
Analysts have been anticipating the implications of the Internet of Things (IoT) for several years. However, there have been two main impediments to its success: capacity and security.
But now, the introduction of a new technology could change that. This year, major carriers like AT&T and Verizon will be introducing 5G, the latest generation of cellular mobile communications. The 5G platform brings a high data rate, reduced latency, energy savings, cost reduction, higher system capacity and massive device connectivity, according to analysts.
The combination of 5G and blockchain technology has the potential to unleash a surge of economic value. In order to understand this connection between 5G and blockchain, one must think of the relationship as multifold. The power of 5G coverage through its reduced latency, high speeds and capacity allows for IoT devices to become widely used. Simultaneously, these devices can leverage the security, decentralization, immutability and consensus arbitration of blockchains as foundational layers.
That means smart cities, driverless vehicles, smart homes and other sensor-driven enhancements will finally have a technology that can handle their needs.
As foundational layers, blockchains can provide consensus and security while the majority of IoT transactions and contracts occur on second-layer networks, with the opportunity to settle payment channels and transaction disputes on-chain. The network capacity of IoT, however, will be enabled by the power of 5G coverage.
Furthermore, 5G will directly assist blockchains by increasing node participation and decentralization, as well as allowing for shorter block times, driving forward on-chain scalability '-- all of which, in turn, further supports the IoT economy.
Here is a first look at how 5G is rolling out and when real usage might be seen.
The rollout of 5GNetwork providers have started rolling out 5G within select United States cities, while global coverage is expected to come online in 2020.
Verizon will start delivering its coverage in Chicago and Minneapolis from April 11, with services moving to 30 cities throughout the remainder of 2019.
On the vendor side, Samsung is expected to release its 5G-compatible Galaxy S10 model next month. Other companies, such as Huawei and LG, have announced models of their own that are expected soon.
In terms of modems, we are still waiting to see one that supports both 5G and LTE. Qualcomm is expected to release such a product, the X55, in either Q3 or Q4 of this year.
Apple consumers will have to hold off until 2020 before seeing a 5G-compatible iPhone, though, with the company apparently still evaluating market conditions.
Waking up the Internet of ThingsThe benefits of 5G are its high speeds, capacity, low latency and ability to connect with vast numbers of devices. Latency refers to the time between when a signal is sent and received. In blockchain terms, latency is the time between a transaction being broadcast and it being received by nodes. However, for IoT, whether it be applied to smart homes or autonomous vehicles, achieving low latency is critical if devices are going to communicate with each other without experiencing long lag times.
This reduction could unlock another concept, the Internet of Skills (IoS). This is the process by which specialists conduct their work remotely through virtual reality headsets. For instance, a dentist would be able to perform procedures remotely. If latency cannot be minimized, then the specialist will not be responsive enough, endangering the patient and undermining the entire function.
It is these new applications that are driving the projections for the economic impact of 5G. A study from Qualcomm showed that 5G could lead to $12.3 trillion in additional global GDP by 2035.
Importantly, 5G '-- with speeds of up to 10 gigabits per second '-- is an improvement to current home broadband services, as well as cellular networks. To put this in perspective, the average global, nonmobile internet speed stands at just 7.2 megabits per second. As such, 5G could well become the de facto internet network worldwide.
The effects of 5G on IoT and related concepts are going to be further augmented by multi-access edge computing. This is a form of networking whereby service is disseminated from centralized nodes to peripheral ones, resulting in an even greater increase to speeds while also reducing latency.
IoT will rely on this capacity and ability for tremendous numbers of devices to connect with each other. It has been estimated that there could be as many as 100 billion IoT connections by 2025, according to research from Huawei, with growth likely turning exponential after that.
Ramping up automationWhen talking about automation, it is typical to think in terms of robots replacing paid jobs currently done by humans. However, in reality, the scope of automation may eventually be far broader than this, including the replacement of chores and unpaid mundane tasks.
This can already be seen in the advent of smart homes, with domestic appliances communicating with each other, keeping stock levels and managing inventory. Autonomous cars and trucks are already moving past testing, with legislation being the main impediment.
Within the next decade, traditional industries '-- such as agriculture, mining and drilling '-- all anticipate automation through high-speed IoT, powered by billions of sensors and devices communicating over 5G.
BottlenecksThese applications are dependent on extensive 5G coverage to provide the capacity, speeds, and latency required for these systems to perform as intended at a global scale.
But two other potential roadblocks toward 5G could present themselves.
First, malicious devices could cause chaos within networks, empowered by their interconnectivity.
Second, the 5G rollout will encompass an explosion in transactions and payments between these devices. Such volumes will likely dwarf the current capacity of centralized and decentralized financial infrastructure.
The blockchain refereeBlockchain innovations could likely solve the first problem. Public, decentralized blockchains are proficient at ensuring immutability, tamper-resistance and establishing consensus among distrusting entities.
Thus, they can be used as a foundational layer for settling disputes between IoT devices that cannot settle transactions or smart contract conditions. Since these devices can transact with money and operate vehicles, establishing an underlying protocol layer with robust security is paramount. Blockchains can excel at this.
Decentralized blockchains offer further benefits over the current client-server model used in IoT. Their decentralized architecture means that identity can be protected and guaranteed. Currently, IoT devices identify themselves via cloud servers, with their identification data held in these databases. As such, the data can be compromised, stolen or imitated, presenting a major security threat to any application that runs atop such a network.
By using a decentralized blockchain, we can protect these identities through the use of asymmetric cryptography and secure hashing algorithms. Devices would be registered according to their own corresponding blockchain addresses, guaranteeing their identity. This blockchain layer can provide a level of security and frictionless identification unmatched by the existing centralized infrastructure.
Scaling upUnfortunately, the second problem of scale cannot be directly solved by blockchains. The sheer extent of IoT means that decentralized blockchain architectures are not capable of handling the necessary throughput. This is at least true on layer one '-- i.e., blockchains themselves.
It is both possible and preferable to defer the majority of transactions to layer two protocols like the Lighting Network that operate on top of blockchains, through the use of payment channels or sidechains.
However, given that every device will need to have its own address and on-chain transactions, there will need to be an on-chain capacity that reaches tens of thousands of transactions per second. In short, scalability must improve significantly on both layers.
Blockchains such as Bitcoin Cash ABC, with block size increases, and Ethereum, through sharding, are building out far greater on-chain capacity. Simultaneously, we are seeing the steady progress of the Lightning Network as it rolls out, along with sidechains such as Liquid from Blockstream, while Ethereum's Plasma network continues to advance. The buildout of 5G and layer two blockchain infrastructure are fortuitously occurring simultaneously, providing the necessary scalability and coverage for an IoT-oriented economy.
One other route for system architects would be to add other structures, such as graphs between the base blockchain layer and IoT devices. Designs such as directed acyclic graphs (DAGs) can be used to achieve far higher throughput. However, this typically results in undermined security and decentralization.
Navigating the trilemma of scalability, security and decentralization is a prerequisite to any blockchain-based IoT network, and deficiencies in any of these three areas could be cataclysmic for users and would undermine the purpose of using such a protocol in the first place. Until developers can produce alternative designs that achieve high throughput without sacrificing security or decentralization, IoT networks will have to use the more limited, yet secure blockchain structure.
Tamper-resistant data5G empowered IoT devices are set to drive a massive increase in data transfer. Cisco projects that they will generate 847 zettabytes by 2021. Although blockchains at their core are distributed data storage systems, it is unfeasible to store significant amounts of data on-chain. If this IoT data is not stored on-chain, though, this still leaves it open to attacks.
However, it is quite possible to store hashes of data on-chain, with links pointing out to external data storage sites for the whole dataset. Indeed, such external storage could be run on other decentralized protocols, such as the InterPlanetary File System (IPFS) or OrbitDB. While this does not guarantee the same level of tamper-resistance, it does offer a stronger level of security than centralized alternatives. Importantly, by storing hashes on-chain, any tampering of the data will result in a change in the hash, thus drawing attention to such an attack, along with a time record via the timestamp.
Empowering smart contractsBlockchains can also directly benefit from 5G in terms of functionality and performance.
One such example is smart contracting. Blockchain smart contracts often depend on oracles. These oracles relay external data to the contract. Of course, this information can only be transmitted with internet access. For applications such as supply chains, 5G can facilitate these oracles in remote areas where they otherwise would not be possible.
Network improvementsBlockchains can also derive network improvements from 5G.
The massive increases in range and bandwidth, in parallel with the reductions in latency aided by edge computing, could lead to a surge in additional nodes joining public blockchains. By extending coverage to remote areas as well as providing increased connectivity to nonstatic devices such as mobiles and tablets, there could be significant increases in network participation and, with that, improved security and decentralization.
In addition, due to latency reductions, developers would have more scope to experiment with reductions in block times, thus increasing on-chain throughput. In turn, this would offer far better support for IoT devices using blockchains for settlement, consensus and security.
A multi-fold relationshipTo truly appreciate the values of 5G, IoT and blockchain, you have to consider them as synergistic rather than offering wholly separate value propositions. With the right architecture, this technology stack '-- along with second layer solutions, edge computing, virtual reality, augmented reality and IoS '-- is set to create an unprecedented amount of value while simultaneously radically altering working conditions, employment and recreation.
Lame Cherry: Missing Fink: Gorillas in the Midsts
Sat, 30 Mar 2019 16:42
As another Lame Cherry exclusive in matter anti matter.As I type this, it has been an exhausting two days of piecing together information the Lame Cherry's Missing Link series, which has confirmed to me in bits and pieces of conversations the betrayals I knew, the  using of me like a whore in thinking I would not suspect and the numb reality that from this point on, I have to tread lighlty, as the degrees of separation from those really in power and those who were their front people, is very close, and if I do not want to end up dead, as the groups involved in this knew JFK was going to be taken out and signed off on it, are a line I will not cross in exposing.As I stated, I picked up bits and pieces of information from online, and then began sifting through stories looking for data, because whether it is the CIA reporters at the New York Times or  a politician, they simply can not help but divulge information of major operations which they have a part in. It is why the Mossad invests a great deal of time reading publications as people keep telegraphing what they are involved in.As you know, the Protector of America, Robert Mueller and his team were hard pressed to locate a person or group called the Missing Link. They kept asking Roger Stone and Jerome Corsi who their contact was as this mystery is what is at the root of all of this, in who was directing the leaks against Hillary Clinton and how it spilled over into the Dirt File on Donald John Trump.It is not any secret in this that Roger Stone fingered Paul Singer, the fag billionaire of Karl Rove's cartel stable who was to direct funding to produce candidates for you to sodomize yourself with. Singer's first major protege was  the strawman Mitt Romney, meant to go down like John the hero McCain before Birther Hussein, in having another election stolen by the elite in the overthrow of America.Romney having not recovered from his defeat to Birther Hussein was lurking in the shadows in 2016 to replace Donald Trump as the "delegate herding" was the buzz word which all of the insiders had been programmed with in why Paul Manafort should be infused into the campaign.Romney always a loser, volunteered to have Hillary Clinton defeat him, for the deep state, as Romney policy is Clinton policy.Mitt Romney Volunteers to Replace Trump and 'Lose One for the ... https://www.politicalgarbagechute.com /mitt-romney-volunteers-lose-one-team/ Though he accepted Trump's endorsement in 2012 gleefully, Romney told reporters he sees now that "the kind of way Donald will lose is bad for the Republican Party" but the way he lost "was the proper way to lose a presidential election.  And who was the original that rose Mitt Romney from the Mexican ashes but none other than Paul Singer, who was the major fundraising Jew for the is Mormon strawman.Was Romney Blind to His Adviser's Vulture Fund? | HuffPost https://www.huffingtonpost.com /carl-pope/romney-delphi-auto_b_2051373.html The facts are simple. Mitt Romney's blind-trust invested more than a million dollars in a "vulture fund" managed by Paul Singer, a Romney adviser.Mitt Romney's hedge fund kingmaker | Fortune fortune.com /2012/03/26/mitt-romneys-hedge-fund-kingmaker/ "Paul Singer is a philosopher-king type of person," says Anthony Scaramucci, the Skybridge Capital managing partner who, as Mitt Romney's finance co-chair, worked hard to get Singer to swing ...Singer would appear in 2015 hedging candidates like Chris Christie in the push for Jeb Bush,  and would emerge in this as the main funding source of Marco Rubio. Sweaty Marco would for Jeb Bush provide cover for a Paul  Singer operation to dig up dirt on Donald Trump. That file would become the Pissgate Dossier of MI in London by Theresa May and Christopher Steele.FORTUNE — As he gears up for the final stretch in the marathon that is the Republican nomination campaign, Mitt Romney has no shortage of eminent financiers to call on — for advice or money. Billionaire hedge fund titans such as Julian Robertson of Tiger Management, Louis Bacon of Moore Capital, and John Paulson of Paulson & Co. have all lined up behind the front-runner. Steve Schwarzman, the co-founder of private equity giant Blackstone (bx, +1.67%), recently held a high-level fundraiser for Romney at his Park Avenue apartment. Romney’s old friends at Bain Capital, the buyout firm he co-founded in 1984, have also been generous in their support. But perhaps none of Romney’s Wall Street supporters will be more crucial to the candidate’s success, or have more influence on his thinking, than Paul Singer.In one of the odd leads in this, Missouri kept surfacing in John Ashcroft serving on boards, and John Ashcroft having been the benefactor of Katie Walsh, whose husband proposed to her at 10 Downing Street in  a real British insider control of the 2016 elections.Walsh would be fired by Donald Trump, but resurrected and protected by Vice President Mike Pence.Before though Trump was President, the old alliance of Romney and Paul Ryan would surface in Ryan would meddle in the convention, telling delegates to vote their hearts. This plea was by design to overthrow the convention in the #NeverTrumper movement to then nominate the loser Mitt Romney.Ryan would go on for the next two years in doing all he could with Mike Pence in obliterating MAGA.First Read: Ryan Instructs Republicans to Follow Their ... https://www.nbcnews.com /politics/2016-election/first-read-ryan-instructs-republicans-follow-their-conscience-trump-n594291 autoplay autoplay. Ryan instructs Republicans to follow their "conscience" on Trump: In his interview for "Meet the Press" that will air on Sunday, House Speaker Paul Ryan essentially gave every Republican license to follow their conscience in whether or not to support Donald Trump.It was a strange melding and mutation as Mike Pence swore in Mormon Romney as the neo Utah Senator, as Romney's first gambit was to go to the Washington Post CIA front paper and absolutely trash Donald Trump.Romney was signaling that he was the 2020 nominee, just as he tried to be the 2016 nominee to elect another democrat.   Romney's attack prompts call to protect Trump from 2020 ... https://www.washingtonexaminer.com /news/campaigns/romneys-attack-prompts-call-to-protect-trump-from-2020-primary-challenger Mitt Romney's scorching critique of President Trump i n a New Year's Day op-ed has sparked a call from within the Republican National Committee to change party rules to protect Trump from any ...How Mitt Romney could revive Mormon opposition to Donald ... https://www.washingtonpost.com /news/posteverything/wp/2018/01/05/how-mitt-romney-could-revive-mormon-opposition-to-donald-trump/ Jan 05, 2018 · How Mitt Romney could revive Mormon opposition to Donald Trump Could Utah become a hotbed of #NeverTrump activism? Then-President-elect Trump meets with Mitt Romney in December 2016.The melding of all of this in zero degrees of separation had Paul Singer the Jew fag funder, dumping money into Romney and Marco Rubio's campaigns. Both of these treacherous political whores invested all they had to stopping Donald Trump and have been engaged in everything they could for the cartel to bring Donald Trump down.Rubio Camp Tells Ohio Supporters to Vote Kasich to Stop Trump ... https://blogs.wsj.com /washwire/2016/03/11/rubio-aide-tells-ohio-supporters-to-vote-kasich-to-stop-trump/ In an effort to stop Republican front-runner Donald Trump, Sen. Marco Rubio's campaign is telling its supporters in Ohio to vote for rival Gov. John Kasich.Rubio Betrays GOP: Will Fight Against Trump Declaring ... https://godfatherpolitics.com /rubio-betrays-gop-will-fight-against-trump-declaring-national-emergency-for-border-wall/ Sen. Marco Rubio: I will fight President Trump from declaring a national emergency for the border wall. On NBC's "Meet the Press," Sen. Marco Rubio said that President Trump declaring a national emergency to build a wall on the U.S. Mexico border would be a "terrible idea" and that he ...So when one reviews, Pissgate, which was 10 Downing in origin, who pops up by Mitt Romney, in bed with a caste of Katie nethers Walsh, Marco  Rubio, Paul Singer, Bush fam and the entire neocon network which have been operating behind the scenes.Mitt Romney by all the connective evidence is the MISSING FINK in the Missing Link saga. He was in the calls to bring down Donald Trump. He is the masters behind the veil in the shadow puppets, but there is not a degree of separation in this. Those who dispatched the Missing Link in one of the most perfect mind manipulation campaigns to bring Paul Manafort into the Trump camp, using all of these insiders conceited, self important, self proclaimed genius, with bias,  prejudice and greed, are of fhis orbit as the Missing Link was  whispering to key people, preying on their delusions and weaknesses, and they jumped through the hoop, got to Trump in his weakest link of Ivanka Kushner, and they set Donald Trump up perfectly to lead him around by the nose.dPaul Manafort was never meant to do anything, but be a victim of his own ego. He blew the one job he had in wrangling the delegates as it took Reince Priebus to gavel Trump in, and his real placement was about tainting Donald Trump on the Russians, so that Russian money would not be as Manafort intended, used in Europe and America to build Manafort candidates, who would break America out of the London Jewish financial gulag of debt she had been placed into.From this point on, I have to ponder what appears here, as the Mossad always offers nice retirement packages which I would gladly accept as all I have ever wanted is a ranch, the money for the equipment, our home and the funds to pay the income taxes as we have enough to live on for a few years until our providence gets the place going........but these people tend to have people die, and that is what being Lame Cherry knowing now has me pondering the future.Nuff SaidagtG
Jail time and billions in fines under fast-tracked crackdown on social media giants
Sat, 30 Mar 2019 04:48
"It should not just be a matter of just doing the right thing. It should be the law. And that is what my government will be doing next week to force social media companies to get their act together and work with law enforcement and intelligence agencies to defuse the threat their technologies can present to the safety of Australians."
Should the Coalition be re-elected in May, Mr Morrison will present the legislation to a G20 world leaders' meeting in June as a model for a global crackdown.
The deadly assault on Muslim worshippers in Christchurch was originally broadcast on Facebook by the alleged shooter. It was viewed 4000 times and online for over an hour before being removed. During this time, it was copied and then proliferated across the internet. There were another 300,000 successful uploads to Facebook in the first 24 hours and YouTube said it had dealt with an "unprecedented" volume of videos.
There is only a very small window of opportunity for the government's bill to be passed in this term of Parliament, which will shortly be dissolved when Mr Morrison calls the election for May 11 or 18.
Labor MPs, whose support would be critical for quick passage of the legislation, will receive the draft legislation this weekend.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten indicated this week he was open to a "constructive solution to seeing greater accountability on social media platforms" and said the companies should comply with rules and standards like traditional news media outlets do.
The legislation is modelled on existing criminal offences regarding child pornography hosted on the platforms. It will capture content that includes forms of terrorism, murder, violence, torture, rape and kidnapping. A jury will decide whether the time taken to remove content was reasonable or not.
The government's eSafety commissioner will have the power to issue an official notice to companies alerting them to offending material, a more formal notification than the platforms' in-built reporting features.
The government had signalled its willingness for harsh penalties earlier this week ahead of a Brisbane summit with the social media companies and internet service providers. Following the heated meeting, in which Facebook was the focus of officials' criticism, government ministers have hit out at the sector.
Facebook representatives told the gathering the Christchurch attacks "should never have been able to be livestreamed in this way and then re-shared as widely as they were". The company committed to improving its automated detection and user reporting processes.
Attorney-General Christian Porter said the companies "did not present any immediate solutions to the livestreaming of terror incidents" as seen in New Zealand.
Late on Friday, Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg said the company was looking to restrict live video following the streaming of footage of the Christchurch massacre on its platforms.
The social media giant would from now on monitor who can go "Live" on Facebook depending on factors such as prior community standard violations, she wrote in a blog post.
In 2018, Alphabet, the owner of Google and YouTube, generated revenue of US$136.8 billion. Facebook, which also operates Instagram and WhatsApp, generated US$55.8 billion while Twitter had US$3 billion.
The former head of Facebook in Australia, Stephen Scheeler, this week backed jail time for social media executives.
Tech investor and M8ventures partner Alan Jones, a former Yahoo product director, warned that a legislative crackdown would not be a ''vote winner'' for the government.
''Facebook and the other social media networks would have to say does it make any commercial sense being in Australia?" he said.
Fergus Hunter is an education and communications reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.
Jennifer Duke is a media and telecommunications journalist for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.
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Nevada's Lucy Flores accuses Joe Biden of unwanted kiss, touching - The Washington Post
Sat, 30 Mar 2019 02:27
Nevada Assemblywoman Lucy Flores, then the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor, introduces Vice President Joe Biden at a rally in Las Vegas on Nov. 1, 2014. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)A onetime Democratic nominee for Nevada's lieutenant governor accused former vice president Joe Biden on Friday of touching and kissing her without her consent during her campaign in 2014, an experience she says left her feeling mortified, embarrassed and confused.
In an essay published by ''The Cut,'' Lucy Flores wrote that, when she learned the then-vice president had offered to appear at a rally in Nevada to support her campaign, she was grateful. But that feeling changed, she said, when Biden approached her from behind as she was getting ready to address the crowd.
She wrote that she felt the vice president place two hands on her shoulders before moving closer to her from behind.
Then, she says, Biden kissed her on the back of her head.
He proceeded to plant a big slow kiss on the back of my head. My brain couldn't process what was happening. I was embarrassed. I was shocked. I was confused. There is a Spanish saying, ''tragame tierra,'' it means, ''earth, swallow me whole.'' I couldn't move and I couldn't say anything. I wanted nothing more than to get Biden away from me. My name was called and I was never happier to get on stage in front of an audience.
Lucy Flores for "The Cut"
As a young Latina, Flores said, she was used to feeling like an ''outsider'' in a political world dominated by white men '-- but she'd never experienced something so ''blatantly inappropriate and unnerving before.''
While she told a few members of her staff what happened, Flores said she was initially reluctant to talk to anyone else.
''Is it enough of a transgression if a man touches and kisses you without consent, but doesn't rise to the level of what most people consider sexual assault?'' she asked. ''I did what most women do, and moved on with my life and my work.''
A spokesman for Biden on Friday said the former vice president was ''pleased'' to support Flores in 2014, and neither he nor his staff had ''an inkling that Ms. Flores had been at any time uncomfortable, nor do they recall what she describes.''
''But Vice President Biden believes that Ms. Flores has every right to share her own recollection and reflections, and that it is a change for better in our society that she has the opportunity to do so,'' the statement read. ''He respects Ms. Flores as a strong and independent voice in our politics and wishes her only the best.''
During a March 16 speech in Dover, Del., Biden referred to himself as a ''tactile politician.''
''I always have been, and that gets me in trouble as well, because I think I can feel and taste what is going on,'' he told the crowd.
Over the years, Biden has been captured in numerous images and videos embracing, kissing and standing close to women. These instances were brushed off by some who saw his actions as ''lighthearted,'' and Flores lamented the fact that Biden was able to keep his title of ''America's Favorite Uncle'' despite myriad publications documenting his actions.
''In this case, it shows a lack of empathy for the women and young girls whose space he is invading, and ignores the power imbalance that exists between Biden and the women he chooses to get cozy with,'' she wrote.
Flores's account also comes as Biden faces scrutiny over the way he handled the accusations Anita Hill made against Clarence Thomas during his confirmation as a Supreme Court justice.
On Tuesday, at an event honoring those who have worked to combat sexual assault on college campuses, Biden apologized again for his handling of the matter in 1991, when Hill faced accusatory questioning from a panel of white men.
''To this day, I regret I couldn't come up with a way to get her the kind of hearing she deserved, given the courage she showed by reaching out to us,'' Biden said in New York at the Biden Courage Awards. Some pointed out that his use of the word ''couldn't'' suggested he didn't have the power to change the course of the hearing.
Felicia Sonmez contributed to this report.
Read more:
Joe Biden on Anita Hill: 'To this day, I regret I couldn't come up with a way to get her the kind of hearing she deserved'
Prankster sentenced to 20 years for fake 911 call that led police to kill an innocent man
An Awkward Kiss Changed How I Saw Joe Biden
Sat, 30 Mar 2019 02:25
Joe Biden. Photo: Leigh Vogel/2017 Leigh Vogel
In 2014, I was the 35-year-old Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor in Nevada. The landscape wasn't looking good for my party that year. There were no high-profile national races to help boost turnout, and after the top candidate bowed out of the governor's race, ''None of the Above'' ended up winning the Democratic primary.
So when my campaign heard from Vice-President Joe Biden's office that he was looking to help me and other Democrats in the state, I was grateful and flattered. His team offered to bring him to a campaign rally in an effort to help boost voter turnout. We set the date for November 1, just three days before election day.
In a state as large but sparsely populated as Nevada, it takes nonstop travel to connect with all its residents. You're lucky to get properly fed, much less look properly coiffed as female candidates are often required to do. I was exhausted and short on time, so decided to not to wash my hair the morning of the rally. I sprayed some dry shampoo in my hair, raced off to the Reno airport, and flew back to Las Vegas.
The event proceeded as most political events do: coordinated chaos with random problems that no one can predict. I found Eva Longoria, co-founder of the Latino Victory Project, roaming the parking lot trying to figure out how to get inside the union hall. My staff was running around town trying to purchase ferns because according to Biden's team, no other vegetation was acceptable for the stage.
The day of the 2014 rally, speakers gathered and took photos before going on stage. Flores (right) is pictured with Longoria and Biden before the uncomfortable encounter.
I found my way to the holding room for the speakers, where everyone was chatting, taking photos, and getting ready to speak to the hundreds of voters in the audience. Just before the speeches, we were ushered to the side of the stage where we were lined up by order of introduction. As I was taking deep breaths and preparing myself to make my case to the crowd, I felt two hands on my shoulders. I froze. ''Why is the vice-president of the United States touching me?''
I felt him get closer to me from behind. He leaned further in and inhaled my hair. I was mortified. I thought to myself, ''I didn't wash my hair today and the vice-president of the United States is smelling it. And also, what in the actual fuck? Why is the vice-president of the United States smelling my hair?'' He proceeded to plant a big slow kiss on the back of my head. My brain couldn't process what was happening. I was embarrassed. I was shocked. I was confused. There is a Spanish saying, ''tragame tierra,'' it means, ''earth, swallow me whole.'' I couldn't move and I couldn't say anything. I wanted nothing more than to get Biden away from me. My name was called and I was never happier to get on stage in front of an audience.
By then, as a young Latina in politics, I had gotten used to feeling like an outsider in rooms dominated by white men. But I had never experienced anything so blatantly inappropriate and unnerving before. Biden was the second-most powerful man in the country and, arguably, one of the most powerful men in the world. He was there to promote me as the right person for the lieutenant governor job. Instead, he made me feel uneasy, gross, and confused. The vice-president of the United States of America had just touched me in an intimate way reserved for close friends, family, or romantic partners '-- and I felt powerless to do anything about it.
Our strange interaction happened during a pivotal moment in my political career. I'd spent months raising money, talking to voters, and securing endorsements. Biden came to Nevada to speak to my leadership and my potential to be second-in-command '-- an important role he knew firsthand. But he stopped treating me like a peer the moment he touched me. Even if his behavior wasn't violent or sexual, it was demeaning and disrespectful. I wasn't attending the rally as his mentee or even his friend; I was there as the most qualified person for the job.
Imagine you're at work and a male colleague who you have no personal relationship with approaches you from behind, smells your hair, and kisses you on the head. Now imagine it's the CEO of the company. If Biden and I worked together in a traditional office, I would have complained to the HR department, but on the campaign trail, there's no clear path for what to do when a powerful man crosses the line. In politics, you shrug it off, smile for the cameras, and get back to the task of trying to win your race.
After the event, I told a few of my staff what happened. We all talked about the inexplicable weirdness of what he did, but I didn't plan on telling anyone else. I didn't have the language or the outlet to talk about what happened. Who do you tell? What do you say? Is it enough of a transgression if a man touches and kisses you without consent, but doesn't rise to the level of what most people consider sexual assault? I did what most women do, and moved on with my life and my work.
Time passed and pictures started to surface of Vice-President Biden getting uncomfortably close with women and young girls. Biden nuzzling the neck of the Defense secretary's wife; Biden kissing a senator's wife on the lips; Biden whispering in women's ears; Biden snuggling female constituents. I saw obvious discomfort in the women's faces, and Biden, I'm sure, never thought twice about how it made them feel. I knew I couldn't say anything publicly about what those pictures surfaced for me; my anger and my resentment grew.
Had I never seen those pictures, I may have been able to give Biden the benefit of the doubt. Had there not been multiple articles written over the years about the exact same thing '-- calling his creepy behavior an ''open secret'' '-- perhaps it would feel less offensive. And yet despite the steady stream of pictures and the occasional article, Biden retained his title of America's Favorite Uncle. On occasion that title was downgraded to America's Creepy Uncle but that in and of itself implied a certain level of acceptance. After all, how many families just tolerate or keep their young children away from the creepy uncle without ever acknowledging that there should be zero tolerance for a man who persistently invades others' personal space and makes people feel uneasy and gross? In this case, it shows a lack of empathy for the women and young girls whose space he is invading, and ignores the power imbalance that exists between Biden and the women he chooses to get cozy with.
For years I feared my experience would be dismissed. Biden will be Biden. Boys will be boys. I worried about the doubts, the threats, the insults, and the minimization. ''It's not that big of a deal. He touched her, so what?'' The immediate passing of judgement and the questioning of motives. ''Why now? Why so long after? She just wants attention.'' Or: ''It's politically motivated.'' I would be lying if I said I didn't carefully consider all of this before deciding to speak. But hearing Biden's potential candidacy for president discussed without much talk about his troubling past as it relates to women became too much to keep bottled up any longer.
When I spoke to a male friend who is also a political operative in Biden's orbit '-- the first man who had heard the story outside of my staff and close friends years ago '-- he did what no one else had and made me question myself and wonder if I was doing the right thing. He reminded me that Biden has significant resources and argued points that made me question my memory, even though I've replayed that scene in my mind a thousand times. He reminded me that my credibility would be attacked and that I should be prepared for the type of ''back and forth'' that could occur. (When reached by New York Magazine, a representative for Vice-President Joe Biden declined to comment.)
I'm not suggesting that Biden broke any laws, but the transgressions that society deems minor (or doesn't even see as transgressions) often feel considerable to the person on the receiving end. That imbalance of power and attention is the whole point '-- and the whole problem.
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By submitting your email, you agree to our Terms and Privacy Notice and to receive email correspondence from us. An Awkward Kiss Changed How I Saw Joe Biden
Suspicions of Bribery Throw Shadow Over Airbus - SPIEGEL ONLINE
Sat, 30 Mar 2019 02:10
Corrupt Egyptair DealLeaked internal documents from Airbus suggest corruption may have been involved in the sale of several aircraft to Egyptair in 2003. The issues raised by the documents threaten to overshadow the planned departure of CEO Thomas Enders.
Amr Nabil/ AP/ picture alliance
An EgyptAir plane landing in Cairo
Friday, 3/29/2019 06:06 PM
For Airbus, the deal signed in April of 2003 was a notable one. Egyptair, one of the company's most important customers in the Middle East, had ordered seven long-haul A330 aircraft.
The French-German aeronautics company celebrated the signing of the contract in Cairo with much fanfare. "The close partnership we have had with Egyptair for well over 20 years is very special to us," Airbus announced.
The roughly billion-euro deal gave Airbus a win in its competition with Boeing, which had long seemed unassailable in the lucrative long-haul aircraft market. The deal also helped secure several thousand jobs at Airbus plants in Hamburg, Bremen and Stade, Germany.
But three months after the celebratory announcement, something strange happened. Airbus surreptitiously signed a consulting contract -- a document dated July 2003 that was never meant to reach the public eye.
An Airbus manager signed the 20-page document, which gave a Lebanese consultancy a juicy commission for the "purchase of seven A330-200" by Egyptair. The timing is enough to arouse suspicions: Why were consultants needed if the deal had been signed months earlier? Who was Airbus really paying?
These questions are also of interest to public prosecutors in Paris who are investigating Airbus. For the last three years, they have been pursuing concrete leads that suggest the company hired an army of consultants over the course of decades to bribe state officials and decision-makers at airlines. The prosecutors and Airbus declined to answer any questions about the details of the investigation.
Since summer 2017, investigators have been in possession of the curious contract with the Lebanese consulting firm, which is named Samit. They suspect the contract has less to do with consulting than with paying bribes that were promised if a successful deal for the aircraft was reached with Egyptair.
Defense Strategy At Risk
Internal documents provided to DER SPIEGEL and the French investigative platform Mediapart reinforce this suspicion. A team from the European Investigative Collaborations (EIC) group spent months reviewing the controversial documents. For the first time, contracts, bank statements and emails show that Airbus apparently didn't just hire and finance external consultants, but the aerospace company also provided precise instructions on who the dubious payments should be made to. It is enough to threaten the defensive strategy the company has thus far followed -- a strategy that has hinged on claims that Airbus had no detailed knowledge of how the consultants it hired actually did their job.
International Newsletter: Sign up for our newsletter -- and get the very best of SPIEGEL in English sent to your email inbox twice weekly.The revelations are particularly unpleasant for one person in particualar: Tom Enders. On April 10, the 60-year-old Airbus CEO will be handing over the reins of the company to his successor, Guillaume Faury. Enders had wanted to leave him a spotless company with more than 130,000 employees around the world and the highest stock value in its history. This week, the departing boss also announced a major victory: China would be ordering 300 aircraft, worth 30 billion euros, from Airbus -- and not from its U.S. competitor Boeing, which has been struggling in the wake of two crashes of its 737 Max aircraft.
Last month, Enders also pulled the plug on one of the company's biggest commercial mistakes: the production of the giant A380 aircraft, which didn't manage to recoup the billions of euros it cost to develop.
Enders wanted to be similarly resolute in dealing with the company's system of bribery, which had emerged under the supervision of his predecessors. One sales division based in Paris, known by the acronym SMO ("Strategy and Marketing Organization"), commanded a bribery apparatus within Airbus. Enders called it the "bullshit castle."
SMO managers handled aircraft sales in "difficult countries," as they were described internally. To do this, they relied on middlemen who, evidence suggests, collected hundreds of millions in euros in secret commissions and helped nudge the deals through if they ran into obstacles.
Enders wanted to end this practice, not only to save his reputation as an executive, but also to limit the enormous corporate risk it represented. The company has been under investigation by public prosecutors in France, the United Kingdom and, since the end of last year, the United States. And it is facing the prospect of billions of euros in fines. If the suspicions are confirmed, the U.S. judiciary could exclude Airbus from the important American market.
Enders described the delicate situation at a management conference about two years ago: "If there are still people in this room that believe we should put the shit under the rug -- then I would have to say, I give up on these people."
But the Airbus CEO had a problem: His eager attempts to clear up the situation came too late. For years, he was, at least formally, accountable for the activities of the "bullshit castle." As previously reported in DER SPIEGEL, documents show that Enders was informed about a system of shell companies involved in the sale of Eurofighter fighter jets to the Austrian military.
It now raises the question of what Enders knew about consultant activity related to the Middle East deals, and about shadowy figures like Abbas Ibrahim Yousef al Yousef.
A Middleman in Dubai
The Dubai-based businessman is at the center of the suspicious events surrounding the sale of the A330 aircraft to Egyptair. A 64-year-old former United Arab Emirates air force pilot, Yousef got started early as a middleman for thorny arms deals and quickly grew wealthy. He once claimed to have earned his first million at the age of 22, as a consultant "in the Western world." Yousef made $195 million in commission on the sale of French Leclerc tanks, which ran on German motors and transmissions, to the United Arab Emirates army. The tank builder said the money was used for "acts of corruption."
But in the past few years, things took a turn for the worse for the middleman in Dubai. He lost at least $48 million in a deal with dubious profiteers promising him the fortune of a former president of the Ivory Coast. He sold two large agricultural operations in Hungary and Spain at rock-bottom prices and he also let the German company Drossbach, which he had purchased from its heirs, slide into temporary bankruptcy.
The businessman's economic decline triggered the events that would endanger Airbus and Enders. Yousef's group of companies got into such dire financial straits that even his own family grew worried. Consultants hired by his relatives began investigating the patriarch's network of companies, not only uncovering a growing number of debts, but also the business relationship with Airbus.
The family members must have been extremely disturbed by what they found. Yousef's son and the son's financial advisor provided testimony to investigators as a way of protecting themselves.
The way that Airbus seems to have arranged the alleged bribes in the case of Egyptair conform to standard practice. The company tapped Yousef as an intermediary to influence Egyptian officials and he also apparently passed along at least some of the money. This strategy was potentially meant to allow the company to cover up any trace of a relationship between itself and those it was allegedly bribing. Now, though, the first indications have emerged that Airbus may have provided precise instructions on who the money was supposed to flow to.
In July 2003, the company signed the consultancy contract with Samit International. The main shareholder and chairman of the supervisory board of the Lebanese company was Saif Fares Ghanem Al Mazrouei -- who was, according to emails, an old acquaintance and straw man of Yousef's. Al Mazrouei apparently looked after Samit together with a trustee. Officially, Samit had been commissioned by Airbus to "arrange for meetings between company's representatives and high level government representatives" from Egypt, organize negotiations over the sale of the seven A330 aircraft and assist Airbus with the sale of A320s. Remuneration was to be 1.5 percent of all proceeds.
In 2006, there was another contract between Airbus and Samit. The mandate this time encompassed the sale of various models, including to the Egyptair subsidiary Air Cairo. It was Samit's job to "maintain all conditions for a political environment favourable to the Company's Products."
As Samit's chairman, Al Mazrouei signed a declaration that he would follow the rules of the OECD's anti-bribery convention and would not do anything that could cause problems for Airbus. But those assurances seem dubious.
The fact that the consultancy contracts weren't signed until after Airbus and Egyptair had sealed their deals isn't the only thing that sticks out. The flow of money is also suspicious. According to the documents, Samit submitted invoices between 2003 and 2008 for over 10 million euros, which Airbus was supposed to transfer to one of Samit's accounts in Lebanon. Starting in 2005, Tom Enders was co-CEO of EADS, as Airbus' parent corporation used to be known. A large portion of the payments were made during his tenure.
Al Mazrouei and his partner Yousef seem to have only been willing helpers, since Airbus apparently had control over the deals and accounts, as various documents suggest. In those documents, there is a table from Yousef's trustee with the header "payments made for AB" -- an acronym which in this context likely stands for Airbus. Thirteen money transfers are noted totalling more than 9.5 million euros. There was more than one reference to faxes from supposed Airbus executives or conversations with them under the header "Instructions."
Getting Closer to Enders
One of those is from May 11, 2005. On the left-hand side of the table, there is note of a money transfer for more than 670,000 euros to a company named Slon LLC. Right next to it was written "Meeting" between "BRE" and "JCC." According to insiders, BRE stands for Abbas' trustee Alexander Breuer. JCC was likely Jean-Claude Cadudal, a manager of Airbus' notorious "bullshit castle" in Paris.
According to the documents, a total of six company received large payments. The last transfer, made on Dec. 18, 2006, bore the note: "according to instruction JCC meeting 1.12.06," likely referring, again, to Jean-Claude Cadudal of Airbus. At the behest of the manager, the documents indicate, 3 million euros flowed to a company called Malana Holding SA.
It is up to investigators in Paris to establish who was behind the recipients and whether they kept the money or passed it along.
Malana Holding appears in another instance involving Airbus and Yousef, one having to do with the companies Avinco and Eolia, which are in the used-airplane and used-helicopter business and were both secretly controlled by Airbus. Yousef was officially the majority stakeholder at Avinco. In January 2007, 19.4 million euros flowed from Eolia to Yousef, around 16 million of which he then transferred to Malana.
The investigative platform Mediapart got in touch with Malana back in 2017. The Lebanese company is run by a Frenchman who was involved in the corruption affair surrounding the French oil company Elf Aquitaine. The man claims that he is merely a wealth manager for his family. He admits to having conducted business with Yousef, but he denies any ties to Airbus.
At the very least, it's clear that contact between Airbus and Yousef was not broken off. Minutes of multiple meetings in 2014 show as much. Airbus manager Olivier Brun, who is currently under investigation in France, as well as Yousef's trustee Alexander Breuer, were apparently in attendance.
The participants came up with new plans, the minutes show. Airbus could potentially require "some services" of Yousef's in connection with Kuwait. Or Yousef could become active elsewhere in the Middle East, where there were a few "difficult countries," according to the minutes. The agent's special skills were apparently needed. To that end, Yousef was in touch with "Jean-Pierre." The person in question is presumably the former Airbus manager and head of the SMO, Jean-Pierre Talamoni.
That means that the circle of executives who were part of the suspicious network may have been dangerously close to the Airbus board of executives -- and to Tom Enders.
Two SMO managers, including Olivier Brun, told Mediapart that Yousef had not been used as an intermediary since around 2008. Other people who were involved did not respond to requests for comment.
In 2016, Ender restructured the infamous SMO division, likely putting an end to the specter of consultants like Yousef. It won't be clear until the end of the year whether he was too late to save himself from the toxic effect of the scandal. That's when observers expect investigations to be wrapped up and charges to be filed -- or for a deal to be negotiated that allows Enders to save face.
Irish villagers complain Viagra plant fumes have men and dogs walking around with 'hard-ons' | The Irish Post
Fri, 29 Mar 2019 20:05
RESIDENTS of a tiny Irish village where Viagra is manufactured have complained that fumes from a nearby factory have been giving them a hard time.
Pharmaceutical firm Pfizer have produced the erectile dysfunction drug in Ringaskiddy, Co. Cork for the last two decades.
Villagers claim that Ringaskiddy's proximity to the plant and its ''love fumes'' has been giving local men '' and even their canine friends '' enormous sexual powers.
Barmaid Debbie O'Grady told the Sunday Times: ''One whiff and you're stiff. We've been getting the love fumes for years now for free.''
Ms O'Grady's mother, Sadie, said that living in Ringaskiddy is a blessing for men who suffer ''problems in that department'', adding that there is ''something in the air''.
The widow added: ''I'm a flirtatious woman, a lot of us are. You just have to have a spark, that's all. There's a lovely man waiting down the road for me''.
Pfizer said in a statement that the stiff whiff was nothing more than an ''amusing'' myth, but there were no hard feelings.
''Our manufacturing processes have always been highly sophisticated as well as highly regulated,'' they said.
Nevertheless, residents remain scared stiff that something more sinister is going on.
Psychiatric nurse Fiona Toomey, who recently returned to the village after five years in America, said that local dogs ''walk around in a state of sexual excitement''.
''I think that Viagra must have got into the water supply,'' she said.
''I'm convinced that's what happened at the very beginning before they were so closely regulated.''
Ammended December 14 at 1.23pm- widower to widow
Jordan Sather on Twitter: "In case anyone was wondering why there is so much hysteria around measles and mumps right now... A main reason is probably because Merck's MMR vaccines batch is about to expire. They need to sell 'em. You can't make this s
Fri, 29 Mar 2019 19:37
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