1218: Eggsistential

Adam Curry & John C. Dvorak

2h 52m
February 20th, 2020
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Executive Producers: Sir Otaku, Duke of Northeast Texas and the Red River Valley, Earl Walkman of Ohio, Sir Matt of Northeast Ohio, Erik A Svendson, Bryce Nesseth

Associate Executive Producers: Justin Bosar, Tom Biard Kruikenstad, Sir Dirt Farmer, Sir Atomic Rod Adams, Baron of Florida, Sir Brian Warden, Fakeologist.com, Calin Nistor, Forbes Benning

Cover Artist: Darren O'Neill


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Bloomberg is a good test of the system and international standing. Money can’t by you love
Why Amazon paid no federal income tax
Wed, 19 Feb 2020 21:19
In 2018, Amazon paid $0 in U.S. federal income tax on more than $11 billion in profits before taxes. It also received a $129 million tax rebate from the federal government.
Amazon's low tax bill mainly stemmed from the Republican tax cuts of 2017, carryforward losses from years when the company was not profitable, tax credits for massive investments in R&D and stock-based employee compensation.
Jeff Bezos' company is not the only corporation getting money back from the federal government. For example, General Motors also reported a net federal income tax benefit in 2018. This also isn't exactly a brand-new trend. Companies as diverse as Southwest Airlines and Goldman Sachs have also reported similar benefits in certain years since 2008.
In a statement to CNBC, an Amazon spokesperson said, "Amazon pays all the taxes we are required to pay in the U.S. and every country where we operate, including paying $2.6 billion in corporate tax and reporting $3.4 billion in tax expense over the last three years." The statement also mentioned Amazon's investment and job creation in the United States.
This issue came front and center on a local and state level in New York during the saga of Amazon's HQ2 hunt '' with a groundswell of local opposition scuttling the deal.
All this begs the question: Does America have a corporate income tax problem?
Watch the video above for more on Amazon and America's corporate income tax rate.
See Also:
The rise of SpaceX and the future of Elon Musk's Mars dreamJeff Bezos has an ambitious vision for Amazon in 1999 interview
Observations from Jamie
He wasn’t wearing his normal hearing aids. He has little
ones for both ears but you can usually still see the wires.
When attacked, Bloomberg will eye roll. If he suppresses
the roll, he grips the podium.
NDA releases would be a big problem. Or at least 200
problems. Trump only had one stormy come forward.
Post debate- Bloomberg’s armed body guards were blatantly
Denmark Stop and Frisk
Bernie and the MSM
should know that under all Governments Right/Left in Denmark
for years
Stop, Question and empty your pockets areas can be called by
the Police at any time, and have been.
This is mainly done in cases of gang Warfare and/or terror
Notice how low the podiums are? Bloomberg might not have gotten a box but Warren and Bernie look slumped and Biden looks like he’s being propped up.
3 candidates who won’t even be alive in 2030
Debate Warren was balls to the wall
Debate Pete about Denmark American dream
Debate Bloomberg’s message: I can beat trump with my money and I’m a competent manager. Will bring back stability and order
We need our Bloomberg Bucks on the Podcast
Greg Abbott on Twitter: "https://t.co/auxpEmxAMf" / Twitter
Wed, 19 Feb 2020 21:02
KG @ twistoff202
2h Replying to
@GregAbbott_TX But let's keep this on the down low Governor! Too many Cali folks headed this way!
View conversation · Catholic Mom @ Catholic_Mom18
1h Replying to
@twistoff202 @GregAbbott_TX pic.twitter.com/75pVmRf71f View conversation · Kevin Tinney @ kevinetinney
1h Replying to
View conversation · Olivia Overturf @ DoubleO7akaTheC
59m Replying to
@kevinetinney @GregAbbott_TX You should be in church until at least 11:30. Duh.
View conversation · TheSailingFirefighter @ SailingFireman
1h Replying to
@GregAbbott_TX Where the heck is 1.77 gas?
View conversation · Shawn Collins @ shawncollins
1h Replying to
@SailingFireman @GregAbbott_TX I was just thinking the same thing - by me, it's barely below $2 for regular.
View conversation · Dr. Fkn Deplorable🏁 @ swhotmess
1h Replying to
@GregAbbott_TX Sure doesn't take much to make us happy. Good food, good friends, good guns... Less government interference.
#Texas View conversation · Chris Pino! @ chris_g_pino
2h Replying to
@GregAbbott_TX Governor, this is a boomer post
View conversation · Patty Simmons @ pattyannsimmons
1h Replying to
@chris_g_pino @GregAbbott_TX Boomers rule!!
View conversation · Bax daddy @ jdbaxter77
2h Replying to
@GregAbbott_TX Haha Greg that's a great meme! Maybe we could add '' I can smoke weed in Texas '' to it.
View conversation · Ash @ 15CharacterTag
1h Replying to
@jdbaxter77 @GregAbbott_TX will probably happen in a few years tbh. just a matter of time at this point
View conversation ·
Presidential Pardons and Commutations
White House Statements on Executive Grants of Clemency'... | The Last Refuge
Tue, 18 Feb 2020 15:16
The White House has released an outline of multiple persons who are receiving executive grants of clemency from President Trump.PARDONS: President Donald J. Trump signed Executive Grants of Clemency granting Full Pardons to the following individuals: Edward DeBartolo, Jr., Michael Milken, Ariel Friedler, Bernard Kerik, Paul Pogue, David Safavian, and Angela Stanton.
COMMUTATIONS: In addition, President Trump signed Executive Grants of Clemency granting commutations to Rod Blagojevich, Tynice Nichole Hall, Crystal Munoz, and Judith Negron.
'... Edward DeBartolo, Jr., is a successful businessman, real estate developer, and member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. During the 23 years that he owned the San Francisco 49ers, the team won an unprecedented 13 division titles and 5 Super Bowl Championships. In 1998, he was convicted for failing to report a felony regarding payment demanded for a riverboat casino license, and he was sentenced to 2 years' probation. Mr. DeBartolo did not allow his conviction to define his life. He remained a generous philanthropist and passionate supporter of numerous charitable causes, including charter schools like the Brooks DeBartolo Collegiate High School, and anti-gang violence initiatives.
His exceptional compassion and warmth define his character to this day. Mr. DeBartolo treated players and coaches as part of his family. Many prominent individuals from the National Football League have strongly advocated for this pardon, including Joe Montana, Jim Brown, Jerry Rice, Steve Young, Ronnie Lott, Charles Haley, Derrick Brooks, Fred Dean, Robert Kraft, Jerry Jones, and Roger Goodell. They have been joined in their support by other notable figures and organizations, including Pastor Darrell Scott, Kareem Lanier, Paul Anka, and the Urban Revitalization Coalition.
'... Michael Milken, one of America's greatest financiers, pioneered the use of high-yield bonds in corporate finance. His innovative work greatly expanded access to capital for emerging companies. By enabling smaller players to access the financing they needed to compete, Mr. Milken's efforts helped create entire industries, such as wireless communications and cable television, and transformed others, like home building. Mr. Milken's work also democratized corporate finance by providing women and minorities access to capital that would have been unavailable to them otherwise.
In 1989, at the height of his finance career, Mr. Milken was charged in an indictment alleging that some of his innovative financing mechanisms were in fact criminal schemes. The charges filed against Mr. Milken were truly novel. In fact, one of the lead prosecutors later admitted that Mr. Milken had been charged with numerous technical offenses and regulatory violations that had never before been charged as crimes.
Though he initially vowed to fight the charges, Mr. Milken ultimately pled guilty in exchange for prosecutors dropping criminal charges against his younger brother. As a result, Mr. Milken served 2 years in prison in the early 1990s. Since his release, Mr. Milken has dedicated his life to philanthropy, continuing charitable work that he began before his indictment. Over the years, Mr. Milken'--either personally or through foundations he created'--has provided hundreds of millions of dollars in critical funding to medical research, education, and disadvantaged children.
Mr. Milken's philanthropy has been particularly influential in the fight against prostate cancer and has been credited with saving many lives. This pardon has widespread and longstanding support, including from the following individuals: Dr. Miriam Adelson, Sheldon Adelson, David Bahnsen, Tom Barrack, Maria Bartiromo, Ron Burkle, Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao, William Ford, Josh Friedman, Rudy Guiliani, Josh Harris, Rabbi Marvin Hier, Ray Irani, Robert Kraft, Richard LeFrak, Randy Levine, Howard Lorber, Representative Kevin McCarthy, Larry Mizel, Arte Moreno, Rupert Murdoch, Sean Parker, John Paulson, Nelson Peltz, Steven Roth, David Rubenstein, Larry Ruvo, Marc Stern, Steven Tananbaum, Ted Virtue, Andrew von Eschenbach, Mark Weinberger, and Gary Winnick.
'... Ariel Friedler was a successful entrepreneur, and built a successful technology company that employed more than 150 people and served more than 41 million students, staff, employers, and government constituents worldwide. In 2014, while serving as President and Chief Executive Officer of the company, Mr. Friedler pled guilty to conspiracy to access a protected computer without authorization and served 2 months in prison.
As a result of this incident, he was forced to sell the company that he had dedicated his life to building. During the investigation, his time in prison, and after his release, Mr. Friedler expressed deep remorse for his actions. Since his release, Mr. Friedler has volunteered his time and expertise to promoting veterans issues and helping former prisoners reenter and rejoin society. In recognition of his rehabilitation, the State of Florida restored his license to practice law. Among those who support this grant of clemency are former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Rabbi Katz of the Aleph Institute.
'... Bernard Kerik courageously led the New York Police Department's heroic response to the horrific attacks of September 11, 2001, as Commissioner of the New York Police Department. He embodied the strength, courage, compassion, and spirit of the people of New York and this great Nation as he served alongside first responders at the World Trade Center in the aftermath of the attack. In 2010, Mr. Kerik was sentenced to 4 years' imprisonment for tax fraud and for making false statements. Since his conviction, he has focused on improving the lives of others, including as a passionate advocate for criminal justice and prisoner reentry reform. His 30 years of law enforcement service and tenure as Commissioner of the New York City Department of Correction have given him a unique understanding and perspective on criminal justice and prisoner reentry reform, and he remains an invaluable contributor to these endeavors.
Mr. Kerik is the recipient of countless awards for meritorious and heroic service, including a Presidential Commendation for Heroism from President Ronald Reagan. Among others, this pardon is supported by Rudy Giuliani, Judge Andrew Napolitano, Geraldo Rivera, Charlie Daniels, Chief Paul Cell, Judge Ray Reddin, Former Chief of the Passaic County Sheriff's Department John Comparetto, Representative Peter King, Christopher Ruddy, Chief and Mrs. Eddie Gallagher, and Sidney Powell.
'... Paul Pogue was the owner of a successful construction company and made significant charitable contributions every year. An audit by the Internal Revenue Service discovered that Mr. Pogue had underpaid his taxes over a 3-year period by approximately 10 percent. Immediately upon learning of the tax deficiency, Mr. Pogue paid restitution, interest, and penalties. To avoid the cost and burden of fighting the charges, which could have put at risk the jobs of the 150 people employed by his company, Mr. Pogue agreed to plead guilty and was sentenced to 3 years of probation.
Despite his conviction, Mr. Pogue never stopped his charitable work. For more than 30 years, he has provided significant humanitarian aid to countries around the world, including Africa, India, and Mexico, all while continuing to help his fellow Americans in times of need. Mr. Pogue is the founder of two non-profit organizations. One constructs churches, clinics, schools, and orphanages in developing countries. The other provides disaster relief to communities in need.
Following Hurricane Harvey, his charity provided critical support to Texans rebuilding their lives in the wake of the storm. In addition, Mr. Pogue's non-profit flies medical teams into disaster areas and flies people in need of medical treatment to doctors and hospitals. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, Mike Buster, Steve Dulin, Robert Morris, Jack Graham, and James Robison are among the many people who support this grant of clemency.
'... David Safavian has dedicated his life to criminal justice reform after serving nearly a year in prison. Mr. Safavian was convicted of making false statements and of obstructing an investigation into a trip he took while he was a senior government official. Having served time in prison and completed the process of rejoining society with a felony conviction, Mr. Safavian is uniquely positioned to identify problems with the criminal justice system and work to fix them. Mr. Safavian is a fierce advocate for policy changes that improve public safety, protect families and victims, and reduce recidivism, including the First Step Act, which provides prisoners with a second chance through rehabilitative programs, fair sentencing, and smart confinement. The District of Columbia restored his license to practice law, and his pardon is supported by several prominent individuals, including Van Jones, Matt Schlapp, Mercedes Schlapp, Doug Deason, Mark Holden, Topeka Sam, Dan Schneider, and Jessica Jackson.
'... Angela Stanton overcame a difficult childhood to become a champion for redemption and rehabilitation for all who strive for a better life. In 2007, she served a 6-month home confinement sentence for her role in a stolen vehicle ring. Today, Ms. Stanton is a national best-selling author, widely acclaimed television personality, and proponent of criminal justice reform. She works tirelessly to improve reentry outcomes for people returning to their communities upon release from prison, focusing on the critical role of families in the process. This pardon is supported by Alveda King.
'In light of the decisions these individuals have made following their convictions to work to improve their communities and our Nation, the President has determined that they are each deserving of full pardons.
'In addition, the President is commuting the sentences of four individuals who have paid their debts to society and have worked to improve their lives and the lives of others while incarcerated.
'...Rod Blagojevich was the Governor of Illinois from 2003 until 2009, when he was charged with, among other things, offering an appointment to the United States Senate in exchange for campaign contributions. He was convicted of those charges and sentenced to 14 years in prison. Although the Seventh Circuit reversed some of his convictions related to the Senate appointment, it did not alter his 14-year sentence. He has spent 8 years in prison.
People from across the political spectrum and from varied backgrounds have expressed support for shortening Mr. Blagojevich's sentence, including Senator Dick Durbin, Reverend Jesse Jackson, Sr., former Representative Bob Barr, Representatives Bobby Rush and Danny Davis, former Attorney General Eric Holder, and Bishop Byron Brazier. Additionally, more than a hundred of Mr. Blagojevich's fellow inmates have written letters in support of reducing his sentence. During his confinement, Mr. Blagojevich has demonstrated exemplary character, devoting himself to improving the lives of his fellow prisoners. He tutors and teaches GED classes, mentors prisoners regarding personal and professional development, and speaks to them about their civic duties. Notwithstanding his lengthy sentence, Mr. Blagojevich also counsels inmates to believe in the justice system and to use their time in prison for self-improvement. His message has been to ''keep faith, overcome fear, and never give up.''
'... Tynice Nichole Hall is a 36-year-old mother who has served nearly 14 years of an 18-year sentence for allowing her apartment to be used to distribute drugs. While in prison, Ms. Hall has completed a number of job-training programs and apprenticeships, as well as coursework towards a college degree. In addition, Ms. Hall has taught prison educational programs to other inmates. She has accepted responsibility for her past behavior and has worked hard to rehabilitate herself. Among those who support this grant of clemency are Clemency for All Non-Violent Drug Offenders Foundation, Alice Johnson, Dan Schneider, Matt Whitaker, Adam Brandon, Kevin Roberts, Brett Tolman, and John Hostettler.
'... Crystal Munoz has spent the past 12 years in prison as a result of a conviction for having played a small role in a marijuana smuggling ring. During this time, she has mentored people working to better their lives, volunteered with a hospice program, and demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to rehabilitation. The Texas A&M Criminal Defense Clinic, the Clemency for All Non-Violent Drug Offenders Foundation, Dan Schneider, Matt Whitaker, Adam Brandon, Kevin Roberts, Brett Tolman, John Hostettler, and Alice Johnson are among the many who support this grant of clemency.
'... Judith Negron is a 48-year-old wife and mother who was sentenced to 35 years in prison for her role as a minority-owner of a healthcare company engaged in a scheme to defraud the Federal Government. Ms. Negron has served 8 years of her sentence and has spent this time working to improve her life and the lives of her fellow inmates. Her prison warden and her counselor have written letters in support of clemency. According to her warden, Ms. Negron ''has always shown herself to be a model inmate who works extremely well with others and has established a good working relationship with staff and inmates.'' This grant of clemency is supported by the Clemency for All Non-Violent Drug Offenders Foundation, Dan Schneider, Matt Whitaker, Adam Brandon, Kevin Roberts, Brett Tolman, John Hostettler, and Alice Johnson, among others.
LBJ Brown and Root military money
NSB = National Security Bureaucracy
The Birth of the Administrative State: Where It Came From and What It Means for Limited Government | The Heritage Foundation
Tue, 18 Feb 2020 14:01
For those who hold the Constitution of the United States in high regard and who are concerned about the fate of its principles in our contemporary practice of government, the modern state ought to receive significant attention. The reason for this is that the ideas that gave rise to what is today called "the administrative state" are fundamentally at odds with those that gave rise to our Constitution. In fact, the original Progressive-Era architects of the administrative state understood this quite clearly, as they made advocacy of this new approach to government an important part of their direct, open, comprehensive attack on the American Constitution.
As a practical matter, the modern state comes out of Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal, which launched a large bureaucracy and empowered it with broad governing authority. Also, as a practical matter, the agencies comprising the bureaucracy reside within the executive branch of our national government, but their powers transcend the traditional boundaries of executive power to include both legislative and judicial functions, and these powers are often exercised in a manner that is largely independent of presidential control and altogether independent of political control.
But while the actual growth of the administrative state can be traced, for the most part, to the New Deal (and subsequent outgrowths of the New Deal like the Great Society), the New Deal merely served as the occasion for implementing the ideas of America's Progressives, who had come a generation earlier. It is the origins of the modern state--and the constitutional implications of that change--upon which we will focus our attention.
The consequences of adopting Progressive ideas as a foundation for a major piece of our contemporary government are profound, especially when one considers the impact of these ideas on the bedrock principles of our Constitution. It is best to begin with an illustration. Consider the plight of the C. T. Chenery Corporation in the early 1940s.
In 1935, Congress had enacted the Public Utility Holding Act, which required that public utility holding companies reorganize their corporate structures and that the recently created Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) oversee and approve the reorganization plans. The law did not name any specific standard that the SEC was to use in evaluating the plans, and the SEC itself did not set any particular rule to govern its decisions.
Thus, when the Federal Water Service Corporation was to be reorganized, its management group--the C. T. Chenery Corporation--had no way of knowing what it had to do in order to maintain its controlling interest in the company. When it became clear that the SEC would allow preferred stockholders to convert their shares of the old company into shares of the newly reorganized company, the Chenery Corporation went out and bought itself a large block of preferred stock on the open market. The reorganization plan approved by the SEC did, as expected, allow preferred stockholders to convert their shares; but the SEC explicitly excluded Chenery from making such a conversion, thus depriving Chenery of its ownership.
The reason for the SEC's exclusion of the Chenery Corporation was that the agency decided that it was impermissible for a management company to purchase stock during a reorganization. This was not a prohibition that was part of any law, rule, or regulation when the Chenery Corporation made the purchase. Nor was it a prohibition that applied to any company other than Chenery. Nor was it a prohibition that the SEC ever employed again in the future. It was, instead, a standard that the SEC invented on the spot and applied retroactively to this one company.
When the Chenery Corporation brought suit in federal court, protesting the obvious violation of the rule of law, the SEC countered that the courts should defer to the expertise of the agency and allow the agency to exercise its judgment on a case-by-case basis. The Supreme Court, in 1943, did not find such an argument compelling, reasoning that, "before transactions otherwise legal can be outlawed or denied their usual business consequences, they must fall under the ban of some standards of conduct prescribed by an agency of government"[1]--that the SEC must, in other words, act according to the rule of law.
But four years later, the SEC found the Court friendlier to its ad hoc decision making. Having kept the Chenery case in litigation during this time, the SEC persuaded the Court to change its mind, and in 1947, the Court concluded that any "rigid" requirement that agencies always act according to pre-established rules "would make the administrative process inflexible and incapable of dealing with many of the specialized problems which arise." To insist that agencies follow pre-existing rules in making their decision would be, the new Court claimed, "to exalt form over necessity."[2] The rule of law, in other words, would have to take a back seat to the social expediency provided by expert administration.
The Founding, the Progressive Era, and the Rule of Law
Arbitrary Government vs. the Rule of Law
The Chenery case is now commonly cited in administrative law courses as an example of the vast discretion granted to bureaucratic agencies when Congress delegates to them its legislative power. The case also serves as a good illustration of the kind of injustice the American Founders sought to avoid by instituting a Constitution structured around the separation of powers and grounded in the rule of law. The contrast here helps us see the principled differences between Progressive and Founding-era notions of what constitutes good government.
The Founders understood that there are two fundamental ways in which government can exercise its authority. The first is a system of arbitrary rule, where the government decides how to act on an ad hoc basis, leaving decisions up to the whim of whatever official or officials happen to be in charge; the second way is to implement a system grounded in the rule of law, where legal rules are made in advance and published, binding both government and citizens and allowing the latter to know exactly what they have to do or not to do in order to avoid the coercive authority of the former.
As Thomas G. West has explained, the Founders implemented a rule-of-law system partly out of reaction to schemes like those favored by Massachusetts Governor John Winthrop in the early years of Puritanism in the United States. Winthrop believed that governmental decision making ought to depend upon the goodness of the government official. Under such a plan, West explains,
where the prudence of the magistrate decides each case, no one could know for sure whether what he did would be permitted or forbidden, or what the penalty would be. Nothing except the good will of the magistrate keeps the government from acting according to whimsy or dictatorial willfulness.[3]
In the Chenery case, the company had no way of knowing what to do or not to do in order to maintain its ownership and was forced to rely on whatever ad hoc decision the administrators in the SEC felt like making. Against such a scenario, the advantages of the Founders' rule-of-law system are evident.
First, the rule of law facilitates government by the consent of the governed. Since rules are made in advance and apply to a broad array of cases that may arise in the future, the people have the opportunity to consent by way of the deliberation and votes of their elected representatives. In a situation where ad hoc decision making is used, a decision is made only once a particular case arises, thus providing no opportunity for the citizens to grant their consent.
Second, as West explains, the rule of law makes it much more difficult "for government to play favorites, to benefit its personal friends and harm its personal enemies." It is thus the best means of maintaining a government dedicated to the equal protection of its citizens' rights, which is the aim of all legitimate government, according to the American Declaration of Independence.[4]
Securing the Rule of Law: The Separation of Powers
In order to secure individual rights in a system based upon the rule of law, the Founders implemented a constitutional design centered on the separation of powers. Under the separation-of-powers system, the legitimate authority of government would be exercised by three co-equal departments, each making sure that the others remained within the confines of their proper constitutional places.[5] The fundamental aim of the separation of powers, which the American Founders developed from John Locke's Second Treatise of Government and, even more directly, from Montesquieu's Spirit of the Laws,[6] was to safeguard rights against the possibility of arbitrary government. Indeed, James Madison in Federalist 47, echoing Thomas Jefferson, redefined "tyranny" to mean the absence in government of the separation of powers.[7]
It is from this fundamental aim of separation of powers that we can discern three important tenets of American constitutionalism, although this is by no means an exhaustive list.
The first is the principle of non-delegation. If the separation of powers means anything at all, it means that one branch of government may not permit its powers to be exercised substantially by another branch.
[8]The second tenet is a corollary of the first: There may be no combination of functions or powers within a single branch. As Madison, quoting Jefferson in the passage from
Federalist 47 mentioned above, elaborates: "The accumulation of all powers legislative, executive and judiciary in the same hands...may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny."
[9] Under this second tenet of the separation of powers--a tenet vital to maintaining the rule of law--those making the law would also have to be subject to its being enforced upon them by an independent authority. Those involved in execution could not make up the law as they went along, but would instead have to enforce laws that had been previously established by a separate authority; and those on whom the law was enforced could have their cases judged by an authority entirely separate from that which had brought prosecution.
The third tenet of the separation of powers is the responsibility of administration to the republican executive. The government remains "wholly popular," in the words of
Federalist 14,
[10] because those who carry out the law (administrators, under the traditional meaning of the term) are directly answerable to the President, who is elected. The Constitution grants all of "the executive power" to the President and requires him to "take care that the laws be faithfully executed."
[11] Administration--as vigorous as some of the Founders surely envisioned it--was thereby placed wholly within a single branch of government, and a clear line of political accountability for administrators was established so that their exercise of power would take place only within the confines of the law.
[12]The Progressives' Rejection of the Separation of Powers
For the American pioneers of the administrative state--the Progressives of the late 19th and early 20th centuries--this older, limited understanding of government stood in the way of the policy aims they believed the state ought to pursue in a world that had undergone significant evolution since the time of the Founding. They believed that the role of government, contrary to the perceived ahistorical notion of Founding-era liberalism, ought to adjust continually to meet the new demands of new ages. As Woodrow Wilson wrote in The State, "Government does now whatever experience permits or the times demand."[13]
A carefully limited government may have been appropriate for the Founding era, when the primary concern was throwing off central government tyranny, but in order for government to handle the demands placed upon it by modern times, the Founding-era restrictions on its powers and organization would have to be eased and the scope of government expanded. This is why John Dewey criticized the Founders for believing that their notions about limited government transcended their own age; they "lacked," he explained, "historic sense and interest."[14] At the most fundamental level, therefore, the separation of powers was a deadly obstacle to the new liberalism, since it was an institutional system intended to keep the national government directed toward the relatively limited ends enumerated in the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.
Beyond this fundamental difference on the very purpose of government, the three tenets of the separation of powers mentioned above posed a particular problem for the Progressives' vision of national administration at the outset of the 20th century. The range of activities they wanted the government to regulate was far too broad for Congress to handle under the original vision of legislative power.
Instead, to varying degrees, the fathers of progressive liberalism envisioned a delegation of rulemaking, or regulatory, power from congressional lawmakers to an enlarged national administrative apparatus, which would be much more capable of managing the intricacies of a modern, complex economy because of its expertise and its ability to specialize. And because of the complexities involved with regulating a modern economy, it would be much more efficient for a single agency, with its expertise, to be made responsible within its area of competence for setting specific policies, investigating violations of those policies, and adjudicating disputes.
The fulfillment of progressive liberalism's administrative vision, therefore, required the evisceration of the non-delegation doctrine and the adoption of combination of functions as an operating principle for administrative agencies. Furthermore, the Progressives believed that administrative agencies would never be up to the mission they had in mind if those agencies remained subservient to national political institutions. Since modern regulation was to be based upon expertise--which was, its advocates argued, objective and politically neutral--administrators should be freed from political influence. Thus, the constitutional placement of administration within the executive and under the control of the President was a problem as the Progressives looked to insulate administrators not only from the chief executive, but from politics altogether.
It is the Progressives' desire to free bureaucratic agencies from the confines of politics and the law that allows us to trace the origins of the administrative state to their political thought. The idea of separating politics and administration--of grounding a significant portion of government not on the basis of popular consent but on expertise--was a fundamental aim of American Progressivism and explains the Progressives' fierce assault on the Founders' separation-of-powers constitutionalism. It was introduced into the United States by Progressive reformers who had themselves learned the principle from what was then the "cutting edge" theory of history and the state developed in 19th century Germany.
In this regard, no one was more important to the origins of the administrative state in America than Woodrow Wilson and Frank Goodnow. Wilson served as the 26th President of the United States and was a leading academic advocate of Progressive ideas long before his entry into politics. Much of his contribution to Progressive thought came in his work from the 1880s, when he was in the early stages of a prolific academic career that would see him in posts at Bryn Mawr College, Wesleyan University, and Princeton (of which he became president) prior to his entry into political life in 1910. Goodnow was the founding president of the American Political Science Association and a pioneer in the new field of administrative law who started to make his own contributions to the Progressive movement in the last decade of the 19th century.
Woodrow Wilson
Beyond Civil Service Reform: The Separation of Politics and Administration
The idea of shielding administration, at least to some degree, from political influence had been around in the United States for some time--at least since the reaction against the 19th century spoils system, in which many jobs in the federal bureaucracy were doled out on the basis of one's affiliation with the party currently in power as opposed to one's actual merit or skill.
The establishment of the Civil Service Commission through the Pendleton Act of 1883 marked a significant victory for opponents of the spoils system, but it took the Progressives, starting with Wilson and Goodnow, to take this rather narrow inclination against the influence of politics in administration and make it part of a thoughtful, comprehensive critique of American constitutionalism and part of a broader argument for political reform. While the opponents of the spoils system certainly wanted to shield administration from political cronyism, they did not offer a new theory of administration. The Progressives, by contrast, were concerned less with eradicating the evils of political cronyism than with creating a realm of neutral administrative discretion shielded from political influence.
Wilson introduced the concept of separating politics and administration--of treating administrative governance as an object of study entirely separate from politics--in a series of essays in the latter part of the 1880s.[15] Goodnow expanded upon this Wilsonian concept in the 1890s and eventually published a book in 1900 titled Politics and Administration.
The fundamental assumption behind the vast discretion that Progressives wanted to give to administration was a trust in or optimism about the selflessness, competence, and objectivity of administrators, and thus a belief that the separation-of-powers checks on government were no longer necessary or just. If the Framers of the Constitution had instituted the separation of powers out of fear of "the abuses of government"--fear that the permanent self-interestedness of human nature could make government "administered by men over men"[16] a threat to the natural rights of citizens--then the advocates of administrative discretion concluded that such fears, even if well-founded in the early days of the republic, no longer applied in the modern era. Thus, administration could be freed from the shackles placed upon it by the separation of powers in order to take on the new tasks that Progressives had in mind for the national state. This key assumption behind the separation of politics and administration is exemplified in Wilson's political thought.
The strong Progressive belief in the enlightenment and disinterestedness of administrators stands as an instructive contrast to the permanent self-interestedness that the Framers of the U.S. Constitution saw in human nature.[17] Just as this sobriety about the potential for tyranny led the Framers to circumscribe carefully the authority of the national government, the Progressives' passionate optimism fueled their call for maximum discretion for administrators.
This is not to suggest that the Framers denied discretionary power to the national government; no reader of Federalist 23--or many other papers of The Federalist, for that matter--could draw such a conclusion. Rather, they understood that such discretion had to be channeled through the forms and law of the Constitution in order to be safe for liberty. Thus, as Alexander Hamilton explained in Federalist 23 and elsewhere, the vigorous discretion that the national government must have is made safe by the "most vigilant and careful attention of the people."[18] For the people to exercise this kind of vigilance, the officers who exercise discretion must do so in a system of clear electoral accountability and within the confines of the rule of law.
It is precisely this kind of accountability to the realm of politics from which the Progressives, by contrast, wanted to free administrators. For the Progressives, there was something special about civil servants that somehow raised them above the ordinary self-interestedness of human nature. Such confidence came from a faith that the progressive power of history had elevated public servants to a level of objectivity. They would, supposedly, be able to disregard their own private or particular inclinations in order to dedicate themselves to the objective good. Because of this disinterestedness, restraints on their discretion were unnecessary.
Wilson subscribed thoroughly to this doctrine of historical progress, which he had learned from reading German state theorists like G. W. F. Hegel and Johann Bluntschli and from his own teachers like Richard T. Ely, who had received his education at German universities. Wilson came to believe that history had solved the problem of faction--that human nature was no longer a danger in democratic government. He wrote frequently of a "steady and unmistakable growth of nationality of sentiment," of a growing unity and objectivity in the American mind, and concluded that the power of the national government could be unfettered because one faction or part of the country was no longer a threat to the rights of another.[19]
Administration and the "Living Constitution"
With the threat of faction having receded as a result of historical progress, Wilson argued, a new understanding of the ends and scope of government was in order. This new understanding required an evolutionary understanding of the Constitution--one in which the ends and scope of government are determined by looking not to the pre-established law of the Constitution, but instead to the new demands placed upon government by contemporary historical circumstances.
In his New Freedom campaign for President in 1912, for instance, Wilson urged that the rigid, mechanical, "Newtonian" constitutionalism of the old liberalism be replaced by a "Darwinian" perspective, adjusting the Constitution as an organic entity to fit the ever-changing environment. Wilson also blamed separation-of-powers theory for what he believed to be the inflexibility of national government and its inability to handle the tasks required of it in the modern age:
The trouble with the theory is that government is not a machine, but a living thing. It falls, not under the theory of the universe, but under the theory of organic life. It is accountable to Darwin, not to Newton. It is modified by its environment, necessitated by its tasks, shaped to its functions by the sheer pressure of life. No living thing can have its organs offset against each other, as checks, and live.[20]
Wilson saw the separation of powers as a hindrance because efficiency was to be valued over anything else. As he claimed in 1885, efficiency had become the pre-eminent principle in government because history had brought us to an age where the administrative functions of government were most important: "The period of constitution-making is passed now. We have reached a new territory in which we need new guides, the vast territory of administration."[21]
Wilson's work on empowering administration with significant discretion to regulate national progress seems to have taken off immediately following his graduate education at Johns Hopkins University. It was at Hopkins where Wilson imbibed deeply in the administrative writings of German authors who belonged to the Hegelian tradition, especially Bluntschli, and where he learned from teachers like Ely, who had studied under Bluntschli at Heidelberg.
Wilson's first sustained work on administration came right at this time in an unpublished essay written in November 1885, titled "The Art of Governing." This work led to the writing, the following year, of Wilson's seminal essay, "The Study of Administration," where the case for separating politics and administration and for freeing administration from the confines of constitutional law is made explicitly for the first time in the United States. Wilson subsequently elaborated on this case in notes he prepared for an annual lectureship at Johns Hopkins from 1888 to 1897.
But even prior to entering graduate school, Wilson's views on administration had been taking shape, as evidenced by his 1882 essay "Government By Debate." It was in this essay that Wilson first suggested freeing administration from political influence because large parts of national administration were, he contended, apolitical and based on expertise. Administrative departments, Wilson wrote then, "should be organized in strict accordance with recognized business principles. The greater part of their affairs is altogether outside of politics."[22]
Wilson's thesis in his works on administration was that it was far better and more efficient for a professional class of experts, instead of a multiplicity of politicians with narrow, competing interests, to handle the complex business of the modern state. To the objection that entrusting administrators with such discretion might not comport with the Constitution's distribution of power, Wilson responded that administrative principles and constitutional principles were distinct and, thus, that constitutional limitations could not easily be applied to the exercise of administrative authority. The constitutional principle of checks and balances, for example, interfered with efficiency and should not be applied to the exercise of administrative power: "Give us administrative elasticity and discretion," he urged; "free us from the idea that checks and balances are to be carried down through all stages of organization."[23]
Relying heavily on European models of administrative power, Wilson laid out a vision for administrative discretion in 1891 that directly rejected the rule-of-law model:
The functions of government are in a very real sense independent of legislation, and even constitutions, because [they are] as old as government and inherent in its very nature. The bulk and complex minuteness of our positive law, which covers almost every case that can arise in Administration, obscures for us the fact that Administration cannot wait upon legislation, but must be given leave, or take it, to proceed without specific warrant in giving effect to the characteristic life of the State.[24]
Wilson well understood that this wide latitude for administrative action undermined the separation of powers, which he attacked and contrasted with what he called the "actual division of powers," where there are many "legislative and judicial acts of the administration."[25]
Enlightened Bureaucrats: Importing the European State
Wilson's argument for freeing administrators from close political control was grounded in the characteristic Progressive confidence in the expertness and objectivity of the administrative class. For years, Wilson had been urging special education for future administrators at elite universities. He argued that "an intelligent nation cannot be led or ruled save by thoroughly trained and completely-educated men. Only comprehensive information and entire mastery of principles and details can qualify for command." Wilson had faith in the power of expertise, of "special knowledge, and its importance to those who would lead."[26] He later referred to "the patriotism" and "the disinterested ambition" of the new administrative class.[27]
Wilson is thus a critical figure for the Progressive vision of administration, because he is largely responsible for applying Hegelian optimism about the objectivity of administrators to the American system. Wilson assumed, just as Hegel had in the Philosophy of Right, that a secure position in the bureaucracy, with tenure and good pay, would relieve the civil servant of his natural self-interestedness, thereby freeing him of his particularity and allowing him to focus solely on the objective good of society.[28]
Wilson's model for this conception of administrators, he freely acknowledged, was almost entirely foreign to American constitutionalism. Yet it was his own notion of the distinction between politics and administration, Wilson argued, that cleared the way for importing what was essentially a Prussian model of administration into the United States. Precisely because administration was to be insulated from politics and from the Constitution, an administrative system that had come from a monarchy could be brought to America without harming America's republican political institutions. As Wilson memorably put it in "The Study of Administration":
It is the distinction, already drawn, between administration and politics which makes the comparative method so safe in the field of administration. When we study the administrative systems of France and Germany, knowing that we are not in search of political principles, we need not care a peppercorn for the constitutional or political reasons which Frenchmen or Germans give for their practices when explaining them to us. If I see a murderous fellow sharpening a knife cleverly, I can borrow his way of sharpening the knife without borrowing his probable intention to commit murder with it; and so, if I see a monarchist dyed in the wool managing a public bureau well, I can learn his business methods without changing one of my republican spots.[29]
Or, as Wilson asked elsewhere in the "Study," "Why should we not use such parts of foreign contrivances as we want, if they be in any way serviceable? We are in no danger of using them in a foreign way. We borrowed rice, but we do not eat it with chopsticks."[30] And so Wilson knew that his vision for administration was a novelty in America. In fact, when he later taught administration in the 1890s, he said that there was only one author other than himself who understood administration as a separate discipline: Frank Goodnow.[31]
Frank Goodnow
When Wilson made this observation about Goodnow, he was referring to Goodnow's Comparative Administrative Law, published in 1893. That book certainly put Goodnow on the map, although his real contributions to the modern understanding of administration's place in the political order came primarily with the publication of Politics and Administration in 1900. Two other works--Social Reform and the Constitution (1911) and The American Conception of Liberty and Government (1916)--later helped to clarify Goodnow's Progressive agenda, especially for the courts, and to fill out his views on the fundamental purposes of civil government. Goodnow produced almost all of this work while a professor at Columbia University, where he had been brought by his mentor, John Burgess, to teach political science and law and where he became the first to teach administrative law in the United States. Prior to teaching at Columbia, Goodnow had spent a year studying in France and Germany; he would go on to finish his career at Johns Hopkins, where he served as president until his retirement in 1929.[32]
Although a student of Burgess, Goodnow was much more radical than Burgess in his Progressivism. Goodnow looked for ways that American national government could be modified to accommodate Progressive policy aims; this goal could best be accomplished, Goodnow believed, by freeing administration to manage the broad scope of affairs that Progressives believed needed government intervention.
Like Wilson, Goodnow argued that government needed to adjust its very purpose and organization to accommodate modern necessities;[33] and, like Wilson, he believed that history had made obsolete the Founders' dedication to protecting individual rights and their consequent design of a carefully limited form of national government. In Social Reform and the Constitution, Goodnow complained about the "reverence" for constitutional law, which he regarded as "superstitious" and an obstacle to genuine political and administrative reform.[34]
In Politics and Administration, Goodnow made clear that his push for administrative reform was not simply or even primarily aimed at correcting the corruption of the spoils system. Rather, administrative reform was, for Goodnow, instrumental to the end of achieving Progressive, big-government liberalism. Progressives had in mind a wide array of new activities in which they wanted national-government involvement; such involvement could not be achieved with the old system of placing administration under political direction:
Before we can hope that administrative officers can occupy a position reasonably permanent in character and reasonably free from political influence, we must recognize the existence of an administrative function whose discharge must be uninfluenced by political considerations. This England and Germany, and France though to a much less degree, have done. To this fact in large part is due the excellence of their administrative systems. Under such conditions the government may safely be intrusted with much work which, until the people of the United States attain to the same conception, cannot be intrusted to their governmental organs.[35]
Understanding administrative reform this way--as a means to securing the broader aims of Progressive liberalism--is what makes the work of Goodnow, and Wilson too, so much more significant to the development of modern American thought and politics than had been the case with the civil-service reformers.
Goodnow's Rejection of the Founding Principles
Goodnow and his fellow Progressives envisioned an almost entirely new purpose for the national government. Government itself, therefore, had to be viewed through an historical lens. The principles of the original Constitution, Goodnow reasoned, may have been appropriate for the Founding era, but now, "under present conditions[,] they are working harm rather than good."[36] The error that the Founders made was not in constructing government as they did, but rather in thinking that their particular construction and manner of conceiving politics would transcend their own age and would be appropriate for future ages as well. They did not realize the historical contingency of their principles.[37]
The modern situation, Goodnow argued, called for less focus on constitutional principle and law and much greater focus on empowering and perfecting administration. He even repeated, using almost the same words, Wilson's proclamation from 1885 that the nation had to move from constitutional to administrative questions. "The great problems of modern public law are almost exclusively administrative in character," wrote Goodnow. "While the age that has passed was one of constitutional, the present age is one of administrative reform."[38] In order to address the administrative questions that history was pressing upon the nation, Goodnow urged a focus not on the "formal" governing system (i.e., the rule of law under the Constitution), but on the "real" governing system, which becomes whatever is demanded by the necessities of the time.[39]
The focus of the Founders' constitutionalism on government's permanent duty to protect individual rights was an impediment to the marked expansion of governmental power that Progressives desired; thus, the ideas that animated the Founders' conception of government had to be discredited.
Goodnow understood the political theory of the Founding quite well. He knew that the notion that government's primary duty was to protect rights came from the theory of social compact--a theory which held that men are naturally endowed with rights prior to the formation of government and therefore consent to create government only insofar as it will protect their natural rights. The Founders' system of government, Goodnow acknowledged, "was permeated by the theories of social compact and natural right." He condemned these theories as "worse than useless," since they "retard development"[40]--in other words, their focus on individual liberty prevents the expansion of government. The separation-of-powers limits on government, Goodnow realized, came from the Founding-era concern for individual liberty: "It was the fear of political tyranny through which liberty might be lost which led to the adoption of the theories of checks and balances and of the separation of powers."[41]
Goodnow's critique of the Founders' political theory came from the perspective of historical contingency. Their understanding of rights and the role of government, he argued, was based upon pure "speculation," and "had no historical justification."[42] Here Goodnow employed the same critique as his fellow Hegelian Wilson, who had written in 1889 that the idea of social compact had "no historical foundation."[43] Instead of an understanding of rights grounded in nature, where the individual possesses them prior to the formation of government, Goodnow urged an understanding of rights that are granted by government itself. He remarked favorably upon European trends in understanding rights as contingent upon government:
The rights which [an individual] possesses are, it is believed, conferred upon him, not by his Creator, but rather by the society to which he belongs. What they are is to be determined by the legislative authority in view of the needs of that society. Social expediency, rather than natural right, is thus to determine the sphere of individual freedom of action.[44]
Goodnow found it necessary to critique the theory of natural rights because he knew it was the foundation for the requirement of government based upon consent and the rule of law. The principle of government by the consent of the governed was a problem for Goodnow and those who shared his vision of administrative power. Goodnow's vision required significant deference to expertise. The empowering of administrators, as he saw it, was justified not because the administrators had the consent of the people, but because they were experts in their fields.
This is why Goodnow wanted to improve administration not by making it more accountable to pre-existing rules made by the consent of the governed, but by making it less so. He observed and conceded that the doctrines of "sovereignty of the people and of popular participation in the operations of government" were an integral part of American political culture, and he therefore acknowledged that this aspect of the culture would be a difficult hurdle for his vision of administration to overcome. "Our governmental organization developed," he explained, "at a time when expert service could not be obtained, when the expert as we now understand him did not exist."[45]
Bureaucratic Rule over Politics
Since administrative experts were now available, Goodnow urged that they be employed and empowered with significant discretion to manage the new tasks that Progressives had in mind for the national government. He was well aware that insulating administration from the control of politics and law ran up against the traditional, constitutional role for administration, where administrators are subservient to the chief executive and their duty is confined to carrying out established laws. He explained that his conception of administration was novel, considering as it did the sphere of administration to lie outside the sphere of constitutional law; indeed, this new conception is exactly what Wilson had given Goodnow credit for in 1894. Emphasizing the distinction between the constitutional and administrative spheres, Goodnow remarked that the student of government "is too apt to confine himself to constitutional questions, perhaps not considering at all the administrative system."[46]
It is for this reason of considering administration as an object of study outside of the Constitution that Goodnow's landmark book on administrative law--Comparative Administrative Law--relies almost entirely upon an account of foreign administrative systems.[47] He knew, as Wilson did, that such a concept was a novelty in the American political tradition. Modern administrative law, therefore, would take it for granted that the political branches of government had to cede significant discretion to administrative agencies; the new body of law would be dedicated to establishing a framework for governing the extent and organization of this discretion.[48]
In making his case for freeing administration from political influence, Goodnow did not speak of a strict or rigid separation between politics and administration; indeed, he noted that the boundary between the two is difficult to define and that there would inevitably be overlap.[49] But this overlap seems to be in one direction only, in a manner that enlarges the orbit of administration; that is, Goodnow seemed to contemplate instances where administrative organs will exercise political functions but apparently did not contemplate instances of political organs engaging in administrative activity. He characterized the function of politics as "expressing" the will of the state, while the function of administration is to "execute" the will of the state; but he made clear that the overlap between politics and administration would come in the form of administrative agencies taking a share in "expressing" and well as "executing" state will:
No political organization, based on the general theory of a differentiation of governmental functions, has ever been established which assigns the functions of expressing the will of the state exclusively to any one of the organs for which it makes provision. Thus, the organ of government whose main function is the execution of the will of the state is often, and indeed usually, intrusted with the expression of that will in its details. These details, however, when expressed, must conform with the general principles laid down by the organ whose main duty is that of expression. That is, the authority called executive has, in almost all cases, considerable ordinance or legislative power.[50]
The notion that Goodnow might see administration as subordinate to politics--as confined only to executing previously expressed will or law[51]--is hereby called into question. Goodnow's statement essentially laid the foundation for the bureaucracy to act without the prior enactment of law by the legislature. He elaborated: "As a result, either of the provisions of the constitution or of the delegation of the power by the legislature, the chief executive or subordinate executive authorities may, through the issue of ordinances, express the will of the state as to details where it is inconvenient for the legislature to act."[52]
The key to trusting administrators with the kind of discretion that Goodnow envisioned was his profound faith in the expertness and objectivity of the administrative class, just as it had been for Wilson. Administrators could be freed from political control because they were "neutral." Their salary and tenure would take care of any self-interested inclinations that might corrupt their decision making, liberating them to focus solely on truth and the good of the public as a whole. As Goodnow explained:
[S]uch a force should be free from the influence of politics because of the fact that their mission is the exercise of foresight and discretion, the pursuit of truth, the gathering of information, the maintenance of a strictly impartial attitude toward the individuals with whom they have dealings, and the provision of the most efficient possible administrative organization.[53]
A natural objection here would be that freeing administrators from political control is a recipe for corruption--that it is precisely through the electoral connection of public officials that we "make their interest coincide with their duty," as Hamilton puts it in The Federalist.[54] But for Goodnow, it is just this connection to electoral politics that would make administrators corrupt, while the absence of accountability to the electorate somehow makes them pure. Politics, Goodnow explained, is "polluted" and full of "bias," whereas administration is all about the "truth."[55] Goodnow's confidence in the objectivity of administrators, like Wilson's, is a sign of his Hegelianism, and it shows that he accepted Hegel's premise that bureaucrats could be freed of their particularity and devote themselves wholly to the objective good of the state.[56]
Conclusion: The Legacy of Progressivism
The main tenets of the Progressive vision for administration, articulated by the likes of Wilson and Goodnow, have come to have a powerful influence in the administrative state by which America is governed today.[57] For a thorough understanding of this phenomenon, one would, of course, have to examine the translation of Progressive ideas into the actual reshaping of American government that took place during the New Deal of Franklin Roosevelt,[58] but even a brief glance at the primary features of the modern state shows important continuities between it and the main principles of Progressivism. In particular, the constitutional separation-of-powers structure that was designed to preserve individual rights and uphold the rule of law has been considerably weakened, and we can see the effects of Progressivism on the three key tenets of the separation of powers that were described at the outset of this essay.
As legal scholar Gary Lawson explains in a seminal essay on the topic, the Supreme Court ceased applying the non-delegation principle after 1935 and allowed to stand a whole body of statutes that enact the new vision of administrative power.[59] These statutes, to varying degrees, lay out Congress's broad policy aims in vague and undefined terms and delegate to administrative agencies the task of coming up with specific rules and regulations to give them real meaning. The executive agencies, in other words, are no longer confined to carrying out specific rules enacted by Congress, but are often left to themselves to determine the rules before seeing to their enforcement.
Lawson cites, for example, securities legislation giving the SEC the power to proscribe the use of "any manipulative or deceptive device or contrivance in contravention of such rules and regulations as the Commission may prescribe as necessary or appropriate in the public interest or for the protection of investors." The agency, on the basis of its expertise, and not Congress, on the basis of its electoral connection, is charged with determining the specific policy that best serves the "public interest." In another example, legislation on broadcast licenses directs that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) shall grant licenses "if public convenience, interest, or necessity will be served thereby."[60]
More recently, the Supreme Court under William Rehnquist made clear that there would be no revisiting the abandonment of non-delegation. In the case of Mistretta v. United States, the Court upheld the statute that delegated to the U.S. Sentencing Commission the power to set sentences (or sentencing guidelines) for most federal crimes. If any case were going to constitute grounds for non-delegation review, it would have been this one. Congress created the Sentencing Commission as, essentially, a temporary legislature with no purpose other than to establish criminal penalties and then to go out of existence.[61] But Mistretta simply served as confirmation that the federal courts were not going to bring the legitimacy of the administrative state into question by resurrecting the separation of powers.
The second tenet of separation of powers--the prohibition on combining functions--has fared no better in modern constitutional and administrative law. As Lawson explains, "the destruction of this principle of separation of powers is perhaps the crowning jewel of the modern administrative revolution. Administrative agencies routinely combine all three governmental functions in the same body, and even in the same people within that body." His example here is the Federal Trade Commission (FTC):
The Commission promulgates substantive rules of conduct. The Commission then considers whether to authorize investigations into whether the Commission's rules have been violated. If the Commission authorizes an investigation, the investigation is conducted by the Commission, which reports its findings to the Commission. If the Commission thinks that the Commission's findings warrant an enforcement action, the Commission issues a complaint. The Commission's complaint that a Commission rule has been violated is then prosecuted by the Commission and adjudicated by the Commission. The Commission adjudication can either take place before the full Commission or before a semi-autonomous administrative law judge. If the Commission chooses to adjudicate before an administrative law judge rather than before the Commission and the decision is adverse to the Commission, the Commission can appeal to the Commission.[62]
The FTC is a particularly apt example, since it was the "quasi legislative" and "quasi judicial" character of the FTC that was upheld in 1935, in the landmark Supreme Court case of Humphrey's Executor v. United States--the first time that the Court so clearly acknowledged that agencies technically within the executive branch could exercise substantially non-executive functions.[63]
Progressive liberalism has also succeeded, at least partly, in defeating the third tenet of the separation-of-powers framework by weakening the political accountability of administrators and shielding a large subset of agencies from most political controls. While the independence of "independent regulatory commissions" and other "neutral" agencies is not as clearly established as delegation and combination of functions, the federal courts have certainly recognized the power of Congress to create agencies that are presumably part of the executive (where else, constitutionally, could they be?) but are nonetheless shielded from direct presidential control. Normally, this shielding is accomplished by limiting the President's freedom to remove agency personnel. In Humphrey's Executor, for example, the Supreme Court overturned the President's removal of an FTC commissioner by reasoning that the Commission was more legislative and judicial than it was executive.[64] More recently, it upheld the Independent Counsel provisions of the Ethics in Government Act (the provisions were subsequently repealed), concluding that even an office as obviously executive in nature as a prosecutor could be shielded from presidential control.[65]
These rulings reflect the acceptance of a key tenet of the modern administrative state: that many areas of administration are based upon expertise and neutral principles and must therefore be freed from the influence of politics. That such a notion has become ingrained in the American political mindset was evidenced by the near universal outrage expressed over the Supreme Court's 2000 decision in FDA v. Brown and Williamson. In this surprising exception to its standard deference for agencies, the Court ruled that before the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) could promulgate and enforce regulations on tobacco, Congress first had to pass a law actually giving the agency the authority to do so.[66] The decision, which simply upheld the rule of law, was denounced because it would subject tobacco regulation to the control of the people's elected representatives in Congress, where tobacco-state legislators might derail it, instead of giving FDA scientists carte blanche to regulate in accord with their own expertise.
The acquiescence in the realms of law, politics, and culture to the concepts of delegation, combination of functions, and insulating administration from political control is explained by what legal scholars call the victory of "functionalism" over "formalism," or what political theorists might loosely translate as "pragmatism" over "originalism." Simply defined, a functionalist or pragmatic approach begins not with the forms of the Constitution, but with the necessities of the current age, thereby freeing government from the restraints of the Constitution so that the exigencies of today can be met. As one scholar argues, "Respect for 'framers' intent' is only workable in the context of the actual present, and may require some selectivity in just what it is we choose to respect."[67] This sentiment, elevating expedience and efficiency over the separation of powers, was expressed very clearly by Justice Blackmun in his opinion for the Court in Mistretta: "Our jurisprudence has been driven by a practical understanding that in our increasingly complex society, replete with ever changing and more technical problems, Congress simply cannot do its job absent an ability to delegate power under broad general directives."[68]
The rise of the administrative state that is such an integral feature of modern liberalism thus required the defeat of the separation of powers as a governing principle, at least as it was originally understood, and its replacement by a system that allows delegations of power, combination of functions, and the insulation of administration from the full measure of political and legal control.
Ronald J. Pestritto, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of Political Science at Hillsdale College, where he holds the Charles and Lucia Shipley Chair in the American Constitution. He is also a Senior Fellow of the Claremont Institute for the Study of Statesmanship and Political Philosophy and author ofWoodrow Wilson and the Roots of Modern Liberalism.Research conducted during the author's time as a Visiting Scholar at Bowling Green's Social Philosophy and Policy Center has been invaluable to his work on Progressivism and the administrative state, and he gratefully acknowledges the Center's support.
[1] Securities and Exchange Commission v. Chenery, 318 U.S. 80 (1943), at 92-93.
[2] Securities and Exchange Commission v. Chenery, 332 U.S. 194 (1947), at 202.
[3] Thomas G. West, "The Constitutionalism of the Founders vs. Modern Liberalism," Nexus: A Journal of Opinion, Vol. 6, No. 1 (Spring 2001), p. 79.
[4] Ibid., p. 80.
[5] See Publius, The Federalist, ed. Jacob E. Cooke (Middletown, Conn.: Wesleyan University Press, 1961), No. 51, pp. 347-349. All citations to The Federalist will cite the paper number, followed by page number in the Cooke edition.
[6] See John Locke, Second Treatise, chapter 12 ("Of the Legislative, Executive, and Federative Power of the Commonwealth"), and Montesquieu, Spirit of the Laws, Part 2, Book 11, Chapter 6 ("On the Constitution of England").
[7] Federalist No. 47, p. 324; Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, Query XIII: "The Constitution of the State, and Its Several Charters," paragraph 4.
[8] See Federalist No. 48, p. 332.
[9] Federalist No. 47, p. 324.
[10] Federalist No. 14, p. 84.
[11] U.S. Constitution, Article II, Sections 1, 3.
[12] One of the best explications of this principle is found in Justice Antonin Scalia's dissent in Morrison v. Olson, 487 U.S. 654 (1988), at 697-734.
[13] Woodrow Wilson, The State (Boston: D.C. Heath, 1889), p. 651. Emphasis in original.
[14] John Dewey, Liberalism and Social Action (New York: Capricorn Books, 1963), p. 32.
[15] For a more elaborate explication of Wilson's teaching on administration and the broader connection between his principles and modern liberalism, see R. J. Pestritto, Woodrow Wilson and the Roots of Modern Liberalism (Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield, 2005).
[16] Federalist No. 51, p. 349.
[17] See, for example, Federalist No. 6, where Publius addresses the Anti-Federalist and Enlightenment notion that human nature had improved and become less dangerous. He characterizes those holding such notions as "far gone in utopian speculations." Federalist No. 6, p. 28.
[18] Federalist No. 23, p. 150.
[19] Wilson, Congressional Government, 15th ed. (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1900 [orig. pub. 1885]), p. 42.
[20] Wilson, The New Freedom (New York: Doubleday, Page and Company, 1913), p. 47.
[21] Wilson, "The Art of Governing," November 15, 1885, in The Papers of Woodrow Wilson (hereafter cited as PWW), 69 vols., ed. Arthur S. Link (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1966-1993), Vol. 5, p. 52. Emphasis in original.
[22] Wilson, "Government By Debate," December 1882, in PWW, Vol. 2, p. 224.
[23] Wilson, "Notes for Lectures at the Johns Hopkins," January 26, 1891, in PWW, Vol. 7, p. 122.
[24] Wilson, "Notes for Lectures," in PWW, Vol. 7, p. 121. Emphasis added.
[25] Wilson, "Notes for Lectures," in PWW, Vol. 7, pp. 134-138.
[26] Wilson, "What Can Be Done for Constitutional Liberty," March 21, 1881, in PWW, Vol. 2, pp. 34-36.
[27] Wilson, "Notes for Lectures," in PWW, Vol. 7, p. 122.
[28] See G. W. F. Hegel, Philosophy of Right, trans. T. M. Knox (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1967), pp. 191-192.
[29] Wilson, "The Study of Administration," November 1886, in PWW, Vol. 5, p. 378. Emphasis in original.
[30] Ibid.
[31] Wilson, "Notes for Lectures," in PWW, Vol. 7, pp. 118-120. Wilson's mention of Goodnow came in an 1894 revision he made to these notes.
[32] Samuel C. Patterson, "Remembering Frank J. Goodnow," PS, Vol. 34, No. 4 (December 2001), pp. 875-881; Charles G. Haines and Marshall E. Dimock, "Introduction" to Essays on the Law and Practice of Governmental Administration: A Volume in Honor of Frank Johnson Goodnow, ed. Haines and Dimock (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1935), pp. vii-viii.
[33] Frank J. Goodnow, Social Reform and the Constitution (New York: Macmillan, 1911), p. 1.
[34] Ibid., pp. 9-10.
[35] Frank J. Goodnow, Politics and Administration (New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction, 2003 [orig. pub. 1900]), pp. 86-87.
[36] Goodnow, Social Reform and the Constitution, p. 2.
[37] Frank J. Goodnow, The American Conception of Liberty and Government (Providence, R.I.: Brown University Colver Lectures, 1916), p. 20.
[38] Frank J. Goodnow, Comparative Administrative Law, student edition (New York, Putnam, 1893), p. iv. See Wilson's similar statement in "The Art of Governing," in PWW, Vol. 5, p. 52, quoted above.
[39] Goodnow, Politics and Administration, pp. xxxi, 1-3.
[40] Goodnow, Social Reform and the Constitution, pp. 1, 3. See also The American Conception of Liberty and Government, p. 13, where Goodnow identified the main problem with the American conception of liberty and government as its foundation in nature.
[41] Goodnow, The American Conception of Liberty and Government, p. 11.
[42] Ibid., p. 9.
[43] Wilson, The State, p. 13.
[44] Goodnow, The American Conception of Liberty and Government, p. 11.
[45] Ibid., p. 45. See also p. 36.
[46] Goodnow, Politics and Administration, pp. 5-6.
[47] Goodnow, Comparative Administrative Law, p. v.
[48] Ibid., pp. 1, 10-11.
[49] See, for example, Goodnow, Politics and Administration, p. 16. For an account of this point, see Patterson, "Remembering Goodnow," p. 878.
[50] Goodnow, Politics and Administration, p. 15.
[51] For an example of Goodnow's making such a claim, see ibid., p. 24.
[52] Ibid., p. 17.
[53] Ibid., p. 85.
[54] Federalist No. 72, p. 488.
[55] Goodnow, Politics and Administration, p. 82.
[56] See note 25, above.
[57] When speaking of Wilson and Goodnow as founders of the administrative state, I do not suggest that we see in the modern administrative state the complete fulfillment of the ideas of these men. The primary features of administration today--delegation, combination of functions, limited presidential control--are grounded in the notion of separating administration from politics; but like most political phenomena, this separation does not go quite as far in practice as it did in theory. In spite of the dramatic push toward establishing significant administrative discretion over policymaking, it still matters very much, for example, what happens in Congress and the presidency. The point of this essay is, however, to explore the animating ideas behind the growth of the administrative state in the 20th century and to suggest the ways in which such ideas developed out of Progressive political theory. The principles of Wilson and Goodnow are, in this way, central to the very premise of the modern administrative state.
[58] For a more extensive discussion of the principles of Wilson and Goodnow and their adoption in the New Deal by Roosevelt's administrative architect, James Landis, see R. J. Pestritto, "The Progressive Origins of the Administrative State: Wilson, Goodnow, and Landis," Social Philosophy and Policy, Vol. 24, Issue 1 (January 2007), pp. 16-54.
[59] Gary Lawson, "The Rise and Rise of the Administrative State," Harvard Law Review, Vol. 107 (1994), p. 1240. He cites two cases as the last instances of the Court's applying the non-delegation doctrine: Schechter Poultry v. United States, 295 U.S. 495 (1935), and Panama Refining Co. v. Ryan, 293 U.S. 388 (1935).
[60] Lawson, "Rise and Rise," p. 1240. He cites here these sections of the U.S. Code: 15 U.S.C. Sec. 78j(b) and 47 U.S.C. Sec. 307(a).
[61] Mistretta v. United States, 488 U.S. 361 (1989).
[62] Lawson, "Rise and Rise," p. 1248.
[63] Humphrey's Executor v. United States, 295 U.S. 602 (1935). See also the more recent case of Withrow v. Larkin, 421 U.S. 35 (1975), which upholds and confirms the combination of functions in the administrative state.
[64] Humphrey's Executor v. United States. See also Nolan Clark, "The Headless Fourth Branch," in The Imperial Congress, ed. Gordon S. Jones and John A. Marini (New York: Pharos Books, 1988), pp. 268-292.
[65] Morrison v. Olson.
[66] FDA v. Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp., 529 U.S. 120 (2000). This is, strictly speaking, a statutory case as opposed to a non-delegation (i.e., constitutional law) case, and the Court does not, in its opinion, indicate any reversal of its long-established delegation jurisprudence. Rather, the significance of the case comes from the Court's refusal, in a high-profile controversy, to read into the law a deference to agency expertise that was not there in the first place.
[67] Peter L. Strauss, "Formal and Functional Approaches to Separation-of-Powers Questions: A Foolish Inconsistency?" Cornell Law Review, Vol. 72 (1987), p. 493. See also Strauss, "The Place of Agencies in Government: Separation of Powers and the Fourth Branch," Columbia Law Review, Vol. 84 (1984), pp. 573-669.
[68] Mistretta v. United States, 488 U.S. 361, at 372.
Why Wasn't Andrew McCabe Charged? by Andrew C. McCarthy
Sun, 16 Feb 2020 23:34
Andrew McCabe wasn't charged because he's a Democratic insider, the Justice Department is loaded with Democratic insiders, and Attorney General William Barr is Deep State all the way. Here's Andrew C. McCarthy's explanation, from nationalreview.com:
Andrew McCabe, while acting director of the FBI, testifies before a Senate committee on Capitol Hill, June 7, 2017. (Kevin Lamarque/
The proof that he willfully deceived investigators appears strong, but the Justice Department likely felt there were too many obstacles to convicting him.
T he Justice Department announced Friday that it is closing its investigation of Andrew McCabe, the FBI's former deputy director, over his false statements to investigators probing an unauthorized leak that McCabe had orchestrated. McCabe was fired in March 2018, shortly after a blistering Justice Department inspector general (IG) report concluded that he repeatedly and blatantly lied '-- or, as the Bureau lexicon puts it, ''lacked candor'' '-- when questioned, including under oath.
Why not indict McCabe on felony false-statements charges? That is the question being pressed by incensed Trump supporters. After all, the constitutional guarantee of equal justice under the law is supposed to mean that McCabe gets the same quality of justice afforded to the sad sacks pursued with unseemly zeal by McCabe's FBI and Robert Mueller's prosecutors. George Papadopoulos was convicted of making a trivial false statement about the date of a meeting. Roger Stone was convicted of obstruction long after the special counsel knew there was no Trump''Russia conspiracy, even though his meanderings did not impede the investigation in any meaningful way. And in the case of Michael Flynn's false-statements conviction, as McCabe himself acknowledged to the House Intelligence Committee, even the agents who interviewed him did not believe he intentionally misled them.
Continue reading'†'
Obama's Bag of Tricks
Thu, 20 Feb 2020 00:05
Throughout his campaign, Barack Obama has presented himself to be a new type of politician: transparent, clean, aboveboard, and above all, positive. His campaign would be an idealistic one: no tricks, just plain old-fashioned honesty. Of course, coming from Chicago with its big-city machine politics this would be quite impressive if it were true. Alas, it is not.As many are learning from David Freddoso's new book , The Case Against Barack Obama, the presumptive Democratic nominee was a practitioner of the dark arts himself -- and he has continued to rely upon tricks as tactics in his ground game.The tricks of the trade
Obama prides himself on his early efforts to expand the voting rolls. As head of Project Vote in Chicago he tried to expand the number of African-Americans on the voting rolls. He has worked well with ACORN - a controversial activist group that is focused on voter registration and mobilization efforts. He said he wanted to empower disenfranchised citizens. When he ran his own campaign for the Illinois Senate and faced a formidable list of primary opponents, he sent his emissaries to challenge hundreds of signatures on the nominating petitions of all four of his primary challengers. He even disputed signatures on the petition of his chief opponent Alice Palmer, whom it is said he promised to not run against if she ran in the primary. In the words of the Chicago Tribune, he first entered public office not by leveling the playing field, but by clearing it. One of the candidates he eliminated, long-shot contender Gha-is Askia, now says that Obama's petition challenges belied his image as a champion of the little guy and crusader for voter rights."Why say you're for a new tomorrow, then do old-style Chicago politics to remove legitimate candidates?" Askia said. "He talks about honor and democracy, but what honor is there in getting rid of every other candidate so you can run scot-free? Why not let the people decide?"
Redrawing the map
After becoming a state Senator, he quickly set his sights higher and ran for a House seat against Congressman Bobby Rush. He lost. What to do now?
He set to work to redraw the state electoral map to serve his political goals.
Critics disparage this type of practice as gerrymandering; but when it is done by politicians that are favored by commentators it is characterized as "redrawing the map". Ryan Lizza writes in the New Yorker of Obama's work with Democratic consultant John Corrigan to gerrymander a district to bolster Barack Obama.
Like every other Democratic legislator who entered the inner sanctum, Obama began working on his "ideal map." Corrigan remembers two things about the district that he and Obama drew. First, it retained Obama's Hyde Park base-he had managed to beat Rush in Hyde Park-then swooped upward along the lakefront and toward downtown. By the end of the final redistricting process, his new district bore little resemblance to his old one. Rather than jutting far to the west, like a long thin dagger, into a swath of poor black neighborhoods of bungalow homes, Obama's map now shot north, encompassing about half of the Loop, whose southern portion was beginning to be transformed by developers like Tony Rezko, and stretched far up Michigan Avenue and into the Gold Coast, covering much of the city's economic heart, its main retail thoroughfares, and its finest museums, parks, skyscrapers, and lakefront apartment buildings. African-Americans still were a majority, and the map contained some of the poorest sections of Chicago, but Obama's new district was wealthier, whiter, more Jewish, less blue-collar, and better educated. It also included one of the highest concentrations of Republicans in Chicago. "It was a radical change," Corrigan said. The new district was a natural fit for the candidate that Obama was in the process of becoming. "He saw that when we were doing fund-raisers in the Rush campaign his appeal to, quite frankly, young white professionals was dramatic." There is a political clich(C) that has become popular. Formerly, voters choose their politicians; now, politicians choose their voters and, in Obama's case, can choose to disenfranchise voters who support other candidates.
The senate race
When Barack Obama ran for the United States Senate only a few years ago he faced formidable rivals in the Democratic primary, people better known with longer and more established political pedigrees, or with ready access to campaign funds. Eventually, it became a two man race: Barack Obama and Blair Hull, a successful executive who had accumulated hundreds of millions of dollars and was investing chunks of it in his own race. Hull was in the lead as the primary season was ending when stories were leaked to the Chicago Tribune that he had a history of spousal abuse. These were true and he was forced out of the race. Barack Obama easily won the primary.
Who leaked the news about Hull? David Axelrod, Obama's campaign strategist, had actually interviewed with Blair Hull before signing up with Barack Obama and confronted him with the rumors of spousal abuse. His query was met with a ''glacial look'' and the answer ''there is no paper on that''. In other words, Axelrod knew about the problem of spousal abuse on the part of Blair Hull. Did he, or the Obama campaign, leak or promote the Hull scandal? The New York Times' Matt Bai wrote this about David Axelrod, Obama's campaign strategist, whom Bai describes as "part idealist, part hired muscle".
It is difficult to discuss Axelrod in certain circles in Chicago without the matter of the Blair Hull divorce papers coming up. As the 2004 Senate primary neared, it was clear that it was a contest between two people: the millionaire liberal, Hull, who was leading in the polls, and Obama, who had built an impressive grass-roots campaign. About a month before the vote, The Chicago Tribune revealed, near the bottom of a long profile of Hull, that during a divorce proceeding, Hull's second wife filed for an order of protection. In the following few days, the matter erupted into a full-fledged scandal that ended up destroying the Hull campaign and handing Obama an easy primary victory. The Tribune reporter who wrote the original piece later acknowledged in print that the Obama camp had "worked aggressively behind the scenes" to push the story. But there are those in Chicago who believe that Axelrod had an even more significant role - that he leaked the initial story. They note that before signing on with Obama, Axelrod interviewed with Hull. They also point out that Obama's TV ad campaign started at almost the same time. Axelrod swears up and down that "we had nothing to do with it" and that the campaign's television ad schedule was long planned. Axelrod worked for years at the Chicago Tribune and is a long-time political fixture in Chicago who presumably knows a great deal about movers and shakers in town. The reader is left to draw his own conclusions.
Obama went on to win the Democratic primary. A promising young politician Jack Ryan was his Republican challenger, but was forced to drop out when the Chicago papers compelled his divorce papers to be opened, revealing a sex scandal involving his former wife, actress Jeri Ryan. The Republican Party, in extremis, drafted Alan Keyes as their Republican challenger to Obama. The contest was a foregone conclusion. Barack Obama won.
On the presidential campaign trail
The campaign for the presidency has also been marked by the advent of new types of tricks.
In the liberal New Republic, Sean Wilentz noted that Barack Obama "played the race card and blamed Hillary Clinton" and portrayed a campaign that was eager to wield charges of racism against the Clintons -- and to do so unfairly in the opinion of Wilentz and many others (McCain tasted a bit of this poison a few weeks ago in the wake of Obama's claim that McCain was trying to scare people away from Obama because his face didn't look like the face of other Presidents portrayed on our dollar bills ).Indeed, whenever Barack Obama is scrutinized or questions charges of racism are routinely raised by his campaign. Critics are accused of being "smear artists" or failing to be intelligent enough understand the nuances behind Obama's elisions and obfuscations.
Barack Obama also appears to have intimidated superdelegates into supporting him. Superdelegates include members of Congress who need money to run their races. In an earlier article, "Barack Obama's Goldmine" , I speculated that Barack Obama might use the information he gained about voters and his ability to raise and deploy vast amounts of money to reward supporters and punish opponents. There were reasonable grounds to believe that such support was being "bought" by measuring the correlation between his donations to superdelegates and the level of support shown to him compared to Hillary Clinton. Roger Simon's article in Politico adds a new dimension to this type of tactic. The Obama campaign appears to have used their financial resources to coerce wavering delegates to support Obama by threatening to "primary" them. Gerrymandering (see above) has made positions safe for incumbents in general elections. What incumbents fear the most are primary challengers, which they can lose. Members of the Clinton campaign believe, Simon writes: that Obama operatives were calling members of Congress, all of whom were superdelegates, and threatening to find, fund and run primary opponents against them if they committed to Hillary. David Plouffe , Obama's campaign manager, told me his campaign did not do this, though Steve Hildebrand did say that superdelegates were reminded that some would see a racial dimension to overturning the decision of pledged delegates. "We definitely made that argument," Hildebrand said Threatening to fund Democratic challengers to incumbents and suggesting the "race card" might be played is not the new type of politics that Barack Obama has been espousing before his adoring crowds. However, as "Bittergate" showed, what voters see behind the teleprompter is not what you might see behind closed doors.
Recently, Barack Obama has tried to chill free speech by engaging in ''lawfare'': filing a complaint with the Justice Department to prevent the airing of a critical ad by the American Issues Project that highlights his ties to former Weatherman Bill Ayers . A Constitutional law professor trying to prevent the exercise of First Amendment rights or a Chicago-style politician using all the tools at his disposal to win?Any other tricks of the trade?
As Tom Lifson wrote, ''the new kind of politician is playing one of the oldest game in politics: handing out street money''. This refers to money handed out to ward leaders and other supporters to increase voter turnout and support. As Catherine Lucey writes in the Philadelphia Daily News, this behind the scenes-and nearly invisible- ploy represents exactly the kind of transactional politics Obama has run against''. Chicago-style politics by one of its smartest practitioners. As was his breaking of his promise to accept public financing of his campaign and his promise to engage in town hall meetings with John McCain. Once the primary was over, those promises-as were many others-were thrown under the bus. Will there come a time when voters will feel that Barack Obama is not the man we thought he was? There the tricks that Barack Obama crafted in Chicago can be played on national scale, with enough money and organization. And Barack Obama does not lack for either.
Ed Lasky is news editor of American Thinker.
Throughout his campaign, Barack Obama has presented himself to be a new type of politician: transparent, clean, aboveboard, and above all, positive. His campaign would be an idealistic one: no tricks, just plain old-fashioned honesty. Of course, coming from Chicago with its big-city machine politics this would be quite impressive if it were true. Alas, it is not.As many are learning from David Freddoso's new book , The Case Against Barack Obama, the presumptive Democratic nominee was a practitioner of the dark arts himself -- and he has continued to rely upon tricks as tactics in his ground game.The tricks of the trade
Obama prides himself on his early efforts to expand the voting rolls. As head of Project Vote in Chicago he tried to expand the number of African-Americans on the voting rolls. He has worked well with ACORN - a controversial activist group that is focused on voter registration and mobilization efforts. He said he wanted to empower disenfranchised citizens. When he ran his own campaign for the Illinois Senate and faced a formidable list of primary opponents, he sent his emissaries to challenge hundreds of signatures on the nominating petitions of all four of his primary challengers. He even disputed signatures on the petition of his chief opponent Alice Palmer, whom it is said he promised to not run against if she ran in the primary. In the words of the Chicago Tribune, he first entered public office not by leveling the playing field, but by clearing it. One of the candidates he eliminated, long-shot contender Gha-is Askia, now says that Obama's petition challenges belied his image as a champion of the little guy and crusader for voter rights."Why say you're for a new tomorrow, then do old-style Chicago politics to remove legitimate candidates?" Askia said. "He talks about honor and democracy, but what honor is there in getting rid of every other candidate so you can run scot-free? Why not let the people decide?"
Redrawing the map
After becoming a state Senator, he quickly set his sights higher and ran for a House seat against Congressman Bobby Rush. He lost. What to do now?
He set to work to redraw the state electoral map to serve his political goals.
Critics disparage this type of practice as gerrymandering; but when it is done by politicians that are favored by commentators it is characterized as "redrawing the map". Ryan Lizza writes in the New Yorker of Obama's work with Democratic consultant John Corrigan to gerrymander a district to bolster Barack Obama.
Like every other Democratic legislator who entered the inner sanctum, Obama began working on his "ideal map." Corrigan remembers two things about the district that he and Obama drew. First, it retained Obama's Hyde Park base-he had managed to beat Rush in Hyde Park-then swooped upward along the lakefront and toward downtown. By the end of the final redistricting process, his new district bore little resemblance to his old one. Rather than jutting far to the west, like a long thin dagger, into a swath of poor black neighborhoods of bungalow homes, Obama's map now shot north, encompassing about half of the Loop, whose southern portion was beginning to be transformed by developers like Tony Rezko, and stretched far up Michigan Avenue and into the Gold Coast, covering much of the city's economic heart, its main retail thoroughfares, and its finest museums, parks, skyscrapers, and lakefront apartment buildings. African-Americans still were a majority, and the map contained some of the poorest sections of Chicago, but Obama's new district was wealthier, whiter, more Jewish, less blue-collar, and better educated. It also included one of the highest concentrations of Republicans in Chicago. "It was a radical change," Corrigan said. The new district was a natural fit for the candidate that Obama was in the process of becoming. "He saw that when we were doing fund-raisers in the Rush campaign his appeal to, quite frankly, young white professionals was dramatic." There is a political clich(C) that has become popular. Formerly, voters choose their politicians; now, politicians choose their voters and, in Obama's case, can choose to disenfranchise voters who support other candidates.
The senate race
When Barack Obama ran for the United States Senate only a few years ago he faced formidable rivals in the Democratic primary, people better known with longer and more established political pedigrees, or with ready access to campaign funds. Eventually, it became a two man race: Barack Obama and Blair Hull, a successful executive who had accumulated hundreds of millions of dollars and was investing chunks of it in his own race. Hull was in the lead as the primary season was ending when stories were leaked to the Chicago Tribune that he had a history of spousal abuse. These were true and he was forced out of the race. Barack Obama easily won the primary.
Who leaked the news about Hull? David Axelrod, Obama's campaign strategist, had actually interviewed with Blair Hull before signing up with Barack Obama and confronted him with the rumors of spousal abuse. His query was met with a ''glacial look'' and the answer ''there is no paper on that''. In other words, Axelrod knew about the problem of spousal abuse on the part of Blair Hull. Did he, or the Obama campaign, leak or promote the Hull scandal? The New York Times' Matt Bai wrote this about David Axelrod, Obama's campaign strategist, whom Bai describes as "part idealist, part hired muscle".
It is difficult to discuss Axelrod in certain circles in Chicago without the matter of the Blair Hull divorce papers coming up. As the 2004 Senate primary neared, it was clear that it was a contest between two people: the millionaire liberal, Hull, who was leading in the polls, and Obama, who had built an impressive grass-roots campaign. About a month before the vote, The Chicago Tribune revealed, near the bottom of a long profile of Hull, that during a divorce proceeding, Hull's second wife filed for an order of protection. In the following few days, the matter erupted into a full-fledged scandal that ended up destroying the Hull campaign and handing Obama an easy primary victory. The Tribune reporter who wrote the original piece later acknowledged in print that the Obama camp had "worked aggressively behind the scenes" to push the story. But there are those in Chicago who believe that Axelrod had an even more significant role - that he leaked the initial story. They note that before signing on with Obama, Axelrod interviewed with Hull. They also point out that Obama's TV ad campaign started at almost the same time. Axelrod swears up and down that "we had nothing to do with it" and that the campaign's television ad schedule was long planned. Axelrod worked for years at the Chicago Tribune and is a long-time political fixture in Chicago who presumably knows a great deal about movers and shakers in town. The reader is left to draw his own conclusions.
Obama went on to win the Democratic primary. A promising young politician Jack Ryan was his Republican challenger, but was forced to drop out when the Chicago papers compelled his divorce papers to be opened, revealing a sex scandal involving his former wife, actress Jeri Ryan. The Republican Party, in extremis, drafted Alan Keyes as their Republican challenger to Obama. The contest was a foregone conclusion. Barack Obama won.
On the presidential campaign trail
The campaign for the presidency has also been marked by the advent of new types of tricks.
In the liberal New Republic, Sean Wilentz noted that Barack Obama "played the race card and blamed Hillary Clinton" and portrayed a campaign that was eager to wield charges of racism against the Clintons -- and to do so unfairly in the opinion of Wilentz and many others (McCain tasted a bit of this poison a few weeks ago in the wake of Obama's claim that McCain was trying to scare people away from Obama because his face didn't look like the face of other Presidents portrayed on our dollar bills ).Indeed, whenever Barack Obama is scrutinized or questions charges of racism are routinely raised by his campaign. Critics are accused of being "smear artists" or failing to be intelligent enough understand the nuances behind Obama's elisions and obfuscations.
Barack Obama also appears to have intimidated superdelegates into supporting him. Superdelegates include members of Congress who need money to run their races. In an earlier article, "Barack Obama's Goldmine" , I speculated that Barack Obama might use the information he gained about voters and his ability to raise and deploy vast amounts of money to reward supporters and punish opponents. There were reasonable grounds to believe that such support was being "bought" by measuring the correlation between his donations to superdelegates and the level of support shown to him compared to Hillary Clinton. Roger Simon's article in Politico adds a new dimension to this type of tactic. The Obama campaign appears to have used their financial resources to coerce wavering delegates to support Obama by threatening to "primary" them. Gerrymandering (see above) has made positions safe for incumbents in general elections. What incumbents fear the most are primary challengers, which they can lose. Members of the Clinton campaign believe, Simon writes: that Obama operatives were calling members of Congress, all of whom were superdelegates, and threatening to find, fund and run primary opponents against them if they committed to Hillary. David Plouffe , Obama's campaign manager, told me his campaign did not do this, though Steve Hildebrand did say that superdelegates were reminded that some would see a racial dimension to overturning the decision of pledged delegates. "We definitely made that argument," Hildebrand said Threatening to fund Democratic challengers to incumbents and suggesting the "race card" might be played is not the new type of politics that Barack Obama has been espousing before his adoring crowds. However, as "Bittergate" showed, what voters see behind the teleprompter is not what you might see behind closed doors.
Recently, Barack Obama has tried to chill free speech by engaging in ''lawfare'': filing a complaint with the Justice Department to prevent the airing of a critical ad by the American Issues Project that highlights his ties to former Weatherman Bill Ayers . A Constitutional law professor trying to prevent the exercise of First Amendment rights or a Chicago-style politician using all the tools at his disposal to win?Any other tricks of the trade?
As Tom Lifson wrote, ''the new kind of politician is playing one of the oldest game in politics: handing out street money''. This refers to money handed out to ward leaders and other supporters to increase voter turnout and support. As Catherine Lucey writes in the Philadelphia Daily News, this behind the scenes-and nearly invisible- ploy represents exactly the kind of transactional politics Obama has run against''. Chicago-style politics by one of its smartest practitioners. As was his breaking of his promise to accept public financing of his campaign and his promise to engage in town hall meetings with John McCain. Once the primary was over, those promises-as were many others-were thrown under the bus. Will there come a time when voters will feel that Barack Obama is not the man we thought he was? There the tricks that Barack Obama crafted in Chicago can be played on national scale, with enough money and organization. And Barack Obama does not lack for either.
Ed Lasky is news editor of American Thinker.
Blagojevich lawyers wanted to play J.B. Pritzker tape at trials - Chicago Sun-Times
Thu, 20 Feb 2020 00:28
Wiretapped conversations between current gubernatorial candidate J.B. Pritzker and Rod Blagojevich have provided plenty of ammunition for the billionaire Democrat's political rivals, but Blagojevich's lawyers thought the former governor came off pretty well on tape.
In fact, they had wanted to play Pritzker and Blagojevich chatting about the various options for the then-governor to appoint to the U.S. Senate seat that came open in 2008, when Barack Obama left the post to take office as president, said Sheldon Sorosky, who was part of Blagojevich's defense team for both the former governor's trials.
The tapes, first published by the Chicago Tribune last week, capture Pritzker on the phone with Blagojevich in late 2008, as the then-governor weighed options for Obama's seat. Blagojevich offered the slot to the billionaire, but Pritzker demurred, suggesting he would be more interested in the post of state treasurer if it were open. Pritzker also suggested to the governor that his prior campaign contributions might have made it look bad if Blagojevich were to tab him for any post.
''[The conversation] was absolutely legal,'' Sorosky said this week while walking the hallways of the Cook County Criminal Courthouse. ''That's why we wanted to play them.
''An argument could have been made that, if Blagojevich was interested in money, and he was interested in someone taking the Senate seat, why not Pritzker? He's a billionaire,'' he said. ''He had more money than anybody.''
U.S. District Judge James Zagel wouldn't allow the tapes of the Pritzker-Blagojevich conversations into evidence, Sorosky recalls, ruling that they had nothing to do with the charges that Blagojevich was shopping the seat for his personal financial gain.
After two trials, neither of which featured the Pritzker tapes, Blagojevich was convicted of wide-ranging political corruption, including trying to sell off the Senate seat for a campaign donation or a cushy job once he left office. The former governor is serving a 14-year sentence in federal prison in Colorado.
Sorosky noted that Pritzker never made the $50,000 contribution Blagojevich solicited during the wiretapped call. The lawyer wasn't sure that fact made for a compelling argument, but ''it might have had a little appeal to the jury.''
It certainly has appealed to Pritzker's rivals. His personal fortune'-- estimated at more than $3 billion '-- has made him a front-runner for the Democratic nomination, and since the story broke the state Republican party has sent out almost daily attacks based on the apparent backroom dealmaking.
On Tuesday, in an email blast to the press, GOP spokesman Steve Yaffe cited the wiretaps in a missive decrying Pritzker's looming endorsement by a labor group as another insider deal.
''After all, J.B. Pritzker is already on tape showing his corrupt colors,'' Yaffe wrote as the closing line to the press release.
Democratic contender Chris Kennedy also has hammered Pritzker over the cozy conversations with the convicted former governor, though the other primary candidates, including state Sen. Daniel Biss and Chicago Ald. Ameya Pawar (47th), have stayed largely above the fray.
Sorosky said he'd forgotten about the conversations until they started making headlines last week.
''I did not give out [the tapes],'' he said. ''I don't know if I still have them. I think we had to give them back to the government after the trial.''
Newly leaked secret phone recording reveals Rod Blagojevich's honest intentions: lawyer - Chicago Sun-Times
Thu, 20 Feb 2020 00:26
As is widely known, the main evidence used to convict former governor Rod Blagojevich, and send him away to prison for 14 years was his private conversations with his aides, wife and brother. The conversations were secretly recorded by the government in late 2008, over eight separate phone lines, including the governor's home phone and campaign office.
But only a tiny fraction of these tapes have ever been released despite the governor's repeated demand that the government ''release them all.''
There are literally hundreds of hours of Blagojevich tapes that the people of Illinois have never heard. When I first came onto the governor's case in 2011, I put all of these recordings onto my ipod and spent weeks listening. I can assure you that these tapes tell a very different story about the governor than the story told by the federal prosecutors.
At trial, the government played for the jury cherry-picked excerpts of its tapes '-- the ones that fit its narrative that the governor tried to sell the senate seat for personal gain and betrayed the people of Illinois. In response, Blagojevich argued that the deal he tried to make for the senate seat was for the benefit of the people of Illinois, not for himself.
Blagojevich argued that he tried to negotiate a deal to appoint Lisa Madigan to the Senate in exchange for Speaker Mike Madigan's cooperation in enacting the governor's legislative priorities, including an infrastructure bill and healthcare reform.
Government lawyers, however, convinced Judge James Zagel to exclude the tapes in which Blagojevich discussed the Madigan deal. Then, in closing argument, the lead prosecutor deceptively told the jury to ''go back and look at the calls and see how many times Lisa Madigan is actually mentioned '... and you're not going to find it.''
As the prosecutor well knew, the reason the jury couldn't find these tapes is because the court had excluded them, at the government's request.
After his trial, Blagojevich continued to demand release of all the tapes. If it was too late to change the mind of the trial jury, he argued, at least the people of Illinois should hear the truth about their governor. But government lawyers continued to oppose unsealing the tapes, citing ''privacy'' concerns. And the tapes have remained under lock and key.
Now a government lawyer or FBI agent apparently has leaked a sealed tape from the Blagojevich trial to assist the re-election campaign of Gov. Bruce Rauner. See https://chicago.suntimes.com/news/blagojevich-lawyers-wanted-to-play-j-b-pritzker-tape-at-trials/
Readers will note that this newly leaked tape illustrates exactly what Blagojevich tried to tell his jury '' that the primary aim of his deal-making was to make a deal with Madigan to get a ''capital bill'' (to pay for new and repaired infrastructure) and ''health care'' reform through Madigan's House. But the jury never heard this tape. Nor did it hear dozens of other similar taped conversations where Blagojevich worked towards a deal with Madigan.
I recently spoke with the former governor, and his response to this latest episode of selective leaking by the government of his private calls is both consistent and predictable: The government should ''release them all.''
''My position,'' says the governor, ''is sunlight.''
Len Goodman, a Chicago-based lawyer, began representing former Gov. Rod Blagojevich in December 2011. Goodman is also a member of the investor group that bought Sun-Times Media last year and sits on the company's board of directors.
Send letters to: letters@suntimes.com.
Rod Blagojevich commutation scenarios, Obama grants to silence him, Trump grants and gets Blagojevich to reveal Obama corruption, Blagojevich remains in prison and talks before silenced, Another mysterious death occurs | Obama Birthplace Controversy
Thu, 20 Feb 2020 00:16
Rod Blagojevich commutation scenarios, Obama grants to silence him, Trump grants and gets Blagojevich to reveal Obama corruption, Blagojevich remains in prison and talks before silenced, Another mysterious death occurs
Why did Patrick Fitzgerald and the US Justice Department wait until December 2008 to arrest Rod Blagojevich?'''...Citizen Wells
''I believe I'm more pristine on Rezko than him.'''...Rod Blagojevich
''Regardless of how this plays out, it benefits Obama. If there is no appeal or the appeal is denied, Blagojevich will be sequestered. If the appeal proceeds, it could drag out beyond impacting the 2012 election cycle. The intent is obvious.'''...Citizen Wells, July 19, 2011
I sincerely hope that Rod Blagojevich does not die of another ''mysterious death'' (as so many involved with the Clintons and Obama have) before he can reveal the details of Obama's involvement in Chicago and Illinois corruption.
There is much to tell.
We are left with these questions.
Will Obama grant Blagojevich the commutation he requested?
If not, will Trump grant the commutation with the stipulation that he rat on Obama?
If not, will Blagojevich squeal in prison?
From the AP December 25, 2016.
''One of the last chances for former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich to win early release from federal prison rests on a pending decision by the man whose Senate seat Blagojevich was convicted of trying to sell '' President Barack Obama.
Blagojevich, 60, is in the fourth year of a 14-year prison term. He recently submitted a request to have his sentence on wide-ranging corruption convictions commuted, the U.S. Department of Justice has confirmed.
Obama has rarely mentioned his fellow Chicago Democrat since Blagojevich's December 2008 arrest, a month after Obama won the presidency, so it's hard to gauge if he'd give Blagojevich's request for a reduced sentence serious thought.
A look at the commutation process and factors that could influence a decision:
A commutation is a reduction of a sentence, while pardons amount to forgiveness of a crime that also removes restrictions on rights to run for office and vote. In federal cases, only presidents have the power to reduce a sentence.
If Obama doesn't get around to deciding on Blagojevich's application before his last day in office, he would leave it for someone else with a tie to the ex-governor to decide: President-elect Donald Trump.
Blagojevich was on Trump's ''Celebrity Apprentice'' TV show in 2010. While Trump eventually ''fired'' Blagojevich as a contestant, he praised Blagojevich for how he fought his criminal case, telling him, ''You have a hell of a lot of guts.''
Among the factors Obama can consider is whether Blagojevich's punishment was disproportionate to the crime. His 14-year prison term was the longest for an Illinois politician for corruption and his lawyers argue it was too severe.''
''One connection between the politicians '' an uncomfortable one for Obama '' is that he and Blagojevich once shared the same fundraiser, Tony Rezko. Rezko was convicted in June 2008 of fraud, money laundering and bribery.''
Read more:
Do you believe that Obama was less guilty than Blagojevich?
Remember, only 2 percent of the wiretaps were released during the Blagojevich trials.
And they were damning for Obama.
From Citizen Wells August 2, 2015.
Blagojevich attorney Len Goodman is requesting that the full court review the appeal that was just ruled on by 3 judges.
How does this fit in with the deal that I am certain was struck with Obama et al?
To protect Obama and keep Blagojevich from talking.
U.S. Citizens
U.S. Justice Department,
Barack Hussein Obama
Evidentiary Proffer supporting charge of Collusion in protecting Obama during the course of investigating and prosecuting Tony Rezko and Rod Blagojevich.
Jan. '' Aug. 2003: Obama was Chairman of the IL Senate Health and Human Service Committee.Feb. 20, 2003: Senate Bill 1332 ''Illinois Health Facilities Planning Act'' filed. Reduced members of IL Health Planning and Facilities Board from 15 to 9.
(Rezko Trial March 13, 2008; 3:09 p.m.)
''Almanaseer was appointed to the planning board in 2003 on Rezko's recommendation. Prosecutors contend he became part of a five-member voting bloc on the board that followed Rezko's wishes. Almanaseer said board Chairman Thomas Beck tried to steer his voting.
''He said, 'If you just don't know which way to vote, vote the way Mr. Levine votes because that's the way Tony would want the vote to go,'' Almanaseer recalled, referring to Stuart Levine.''
Spring 2003 '' Nov 2003: (Rezko trial March 11, 2008; 10:58 a.m.)
''Jennifer Thomas, a former aide to Gov. Rod Blagojevich's patronage chief Joe Cini, continued on the stand Tuesday morning and gave a few more insights into those regular Monday morning meetings she and Cini held in 2003 with Antoin ''Tony'' Rezko at his office.''
''Thomas said Rezko floated the names of several people to sit on the Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board, which the government claims Rezko corrupted with the help of board member Stuart Levine. And Thomas said Rezko at one point made it clear that he wanted to see Levine reappointed to the panel, which was being overhauled by the governor in 2003.''May 21, 2003: Senate Bill 1332 passed by House and Senate.June 27, 2003: Blagojevich made this the effective date of Senate Bill 1332.June 2003: (Rezko trial March 10, 2008; 4:16 p.m.)
''Ziegelmueller asked Hayden about a 2003 e-mail exchange with Lichtenstein, then the governor's top lawyer, in which Wilhelm made recommendations for the Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board. The name of Barack Obama, the Democratic front-runner for the presidential nomination, also appears in the e-mail as a member of a strategic team reviewing hospital board matters with the governor's staff when he was a state senator. The hospital board was scheduled to be revamped in the summer of 2003. Obama was then chairman of the Senate Committee on Health & Human Services.''June 30, 2003: Obama gets the following donations.
$5000 Ali Ata was appointed as Director at IFA $6000 Alison Davis gets appointment on Investment Board $15,000 Dr. Michael Malek gets appointment on Hospital Facility Board $5000 Abdelhamid Chaib's wife gets appointment on Employee Security Board $10,000 Elie Maloof '' Rezko used him as one of several strawmen to donate funds to certain politicians. $1000 Phil Cacciatore (one of Auchi's Riverside Park Investors) gets seat on Board $1000 Velma Butler (one of Auchi's Riverside Park Investors) was recommended for Board $1000 Martello Pollack (Vegas Crystal Comm) received Iraqi Construction contracts $1000 Jack Carriglio gets appointed to Board $500 Anthony Abboud gets appointed to Board $3000 Michael Winter, who helped Rezko in funneling kickbacks through investment firm $1000 Talat Othman gets appointed to Board $1000 David Gustman, $1000 from Gustman's wife after he is appointed Board ChairmanLate 2003: Earliest documented awareness by FBI and Patrick Fitzgerald of corruption in Blagojevich admin. Pamela Meyer Davis agreed to secretly record conversations involving state health planning board with an FBI wire.Oct. 29, 2003: Blagojevich interest in presidency (Blagojevich criminal complaint pg 14).
''During the conversation, Cari and ROD BLAGOJEVICH discussed Cari's fundraising background and work as a national fundraiser. ROD BLAGOJEVICH discussed his interest in running for President of the United States.''Dec 17, 2003: Former Governor George Ryan indicted.
http://www.justice.gov/usao/iln/indict/2003/warner_ryan.pdfDec 31, 2003: (NY Times)
''Mr. Fitzgerald announced that he was prosecuting former Gov. George Ryan, a Republican, in a scandal that had been swirling around long before Mr. Fitzgerald got here and that many people thought would never touch the most powerful politicians in Illinois. But there Mr. Fitzgerald was, a week before Christmas, ticking off the details of a 91-page indictment against Mr. Ryan, seemingly from memory.
That, even Mr. Fitzgerald's former opponents in the courtroom say, is classic Fitzgerald: dogged, dispassionate and endlessly prepared.''2004 '' 2005: (February 10, 2008 Sun-Times)
''In the media, Obama always made it sound like he rarely saw Rezko, saying they met for breakfast or lunch once or twice a year. However, the FBI mole John Thomas helped investigators ''build a record of repeat visits to the old offices of Rezko and former business partner Daniel Mahru's Rezmar Corp., at 853 N. Elston, by Blagojevich and Obama during 2004 and 2005,''
During his March 14, 2008 interview, the Times told Obama, Thomas is an FBI mole and he ''recently told us that he saw you coming and going from Rezko's office a lot.''
''And three other sources told us that you and Rezko spoke on the phone daily.''''March '' May 2004: (Rezko trial exhibits)
FBI chart presented to the jury on April 28, 2008, shows 257 calls from Rezko's phones to Blagojevich's chief of staff, Lon Monk, between March 2004 and May 2004 alone.
April 3, 2004: (April 14, 2008; 12:57 p.m. Rezko trial transcripts)
''Stuart Levine, the prosecution's star witness, said he and Obama were at a party Rezko threw at his Wilmette mansion on April 3, 2004, for Nadhmi Auchi, a controversial Iraqi-born billionaire who Rezko was trying to get to invest in a South Loop real-estate development.
Auchi, now a citizen of the United Kingdom, has faced criminal charges in Europe. He also figured in the revocation of Rezko's bond early this year after attempting to wire him more than $3 million. Upon learning of that attempt, U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve declared Rezko a flight risk and ordered him held in a federal jail in the Loop.
The Rezko party in 2004 was designed to induce Auchi to pour money into the South Loop investment. Obama's presence at the party was not previously known. At the time, Obama was fresh off a surprise win in the Illinois Democratic primary for U.S. Senate and was riding a crest of national publicity.''April 8 '' May 21, 2004: (Rezko Trial March 12, 2008; 11:11 a.m.)
''FBI Special Agent Daniel Cain, the primary case agent on the investigation into Levine and Rezko, is on the stand now in testimony that is laying the foundation for entering the wiretaps into evidence.
Cain said the investigation, dubbed Operation Board Games by the federal agents, began in December 2003 and was prompted by information gleaned from an informant whom he did not identify. That witness, he said, took part in meetings with two other individuals who were in contact with Levine by phone at his home.
Cain said Levine had three phone lines in his North Shore home. Federal agents recorded conversations on those lines April 8-May 21, 2004. Those dates span the time when Levine, Rezko and others allegedly were working to rig the hospital board vote on a Mercy Health System hospital proposal for Crystal Lake and other kickback schemes prosecutors claim they were engaged in.''April 21, 2004: (Rezko Trial March 11, 2008; 5:27 p.m.)
''The former lawyer for a state board that regulates hospital expansions took the stand late in the afternoon and said she told Stuart Levine of her concern after an odd vote on the Mercy Hospital project that included Levine whispering to other board members before the project was approved.
His response was no less troubling, she said.
''He shrugged his shoulders and said, 'Sometimes you have to be a good soldier,''' said Anne Murphy, the former lawyer for the Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board.
Murphy said Levine's remark followed a vote that saw the plan for a new hospital in Crystal Lake squeak by with the minimum of five votes in favor on the nine-member board.
With eight members present at the April 2004 meeting, Murphy said the vote was stalled with three members voting ''yes,'' two voting ''no'' and two abstentions when Chairman Thomas Beck was called to give his vote.
Beck said, ''Where're we at?'' Murphy testified. He then went over to whisper with Levine off the record, she said. When that conversation ended, Murphy said, Levine got up and whispered to Imad Almanaseer.
Beck then voted yes, Murphy testified, and Almanaseer changed his vote to ''yes,'' giving the plan the necessary votes to pass.
''There was an audible, collective gasp across the room,'' Murphy recalled of the April 2004 meeting.
Prosecutors contend the five members who voted for the hospital were a Levine-led bloc that Rezko had placed on the board and controlled. The two were charged with arranging to accept a kickback from the builder who was going to build the Mercy project in Crystal Lake.
The entire board was new as of the summer of 2003, Murphy said. She said she had given the new members memos on ethics, including conflicts of interest.''
May 18, 2004: (March 21, 2008; 12:10 p.m. Rezko trial transcripts)
''Another government wiretap has been played with Antoin ''Tony'' Rezko's voice on it, and this one could prove damaging to his defense. On the tape, recorded May 18, 2004, Rezko can be heard giving orders to political fixer Stuart Levine about how he wanted to manipulate the vote of one of Levine's fellow members on the Illinois Health Facilities Planning board, Danalynn Rice.
June 7, 2004: Stuart Levine, member of the Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board, abruptly resigns. This is the first indication that the Blagojevich administration is under federal criminal investigation.
July 2, 2004: Stuart Levine resigns from the state Teachers' Retirement System board.July 27, 2004: Obama Democratic Convention Speech.May 9, 2005: Stuart Levine indicted on corruption charges. Federal subpoena issued to Tony Rezko.June 15, 2005: Obama purchases home next door to Rezko for $1.65 million, $300,000 less than the asking price.June 15, 2005: Rita Rezko, Tony's wife purchased plot next door for $625,000 asking price.Sept. 15, 2005: Joseph Cari, former lawyer for the state's teacher's pension board pleads guilty to extortion. A high ranking public official is described in court documents only as ''Public official A.''Oct. 25, 2005: The Chicago Tribune reports about a federal grand jury investigation into the alleged political hiring practices of the Blagojevich administration.Late 2005 early 2006: From the Kenneth J. Conner complaint against Mutual Bank filed Oct. 16, 2008. The lawsuit is still active.
''11. In late 2005 or early 2006, Conner performed an appraisal review of the Adams Appraisal (Exhibit C) per the directive of Richard Barth and James Murphy. Conner prepared a written Appraisal Review report (ARR) opining that the Adams Appraisal overvalued the Greenwood lot by a minimum of $ 125,000.00'"
''18. On October 23, 2007, eight days after Conner's October 15, 2007 email to Schlabach attached as Exhibit J, Mutual Bank terminated Conner's employment for pretextual reasons.''
Conner later told World Net daily when he initially was fired, that the bank and the Rezkos were engaged in ''fraud, bribes or kickbacks, use whatever term you want,'' to benefit the Obamas.
Soon after the Blagojevich arrest, Conner was interviewed by investigators from Fitzgerald's office.Jan. 2006: Rita Rezko sells the Obamas one-sixth of her lot for $104,500.Feb. 4, 2006: (Chicago Sun-Times)
''Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich has always been rumored to be interested in higher office. A single entry in a campaign-finance report he filed this week could add fuel to the speculation.
Blagojevich paid $7,500 in December to one of the top Democratic political strategists in Iowa, where contacts are important for anyone with presidential aspirations.''Feb. 19, 2006: Blagojevich began his 2006 re-election to IL Governor.Aug. 5, 2006: The Chicago Tribune reports that Stuart Levine is cooperating with the federal investigation of state government.Aug. 11-20 2006: Illinois State Fair. ''We've got a governor in Rod Blagojevich who has delivered consistently on behalf of the people of Illinois,'' Obama told the crowd.Oct. 11, 2006: Tony Rezko is indicted on federal charges he sought millions of dollars in kickbacks and campaign donations from firms seeking state business.
Oct. 22, 2006: Obama publicly states he is considering a run for the Presidency.Oct. 27, 2006: Stuart Levine pleads guilty in a scheme to squeeze millions of dollars from firms seeking state business. Court papers contain allegations that Rezko and Christopher Kelly were using their influence for corrupt purposes.Nov. 7, 2006 (Chicago SunTimes)
''The Rezko story broke last week, when Obama was wrapping up a national tour serving several purposes: promote his new book, The Audacity of Hope, raise money and stump for Democrats, and lay the groundwork for a possible 2008 White House bid.''Jan. 16, 2007: Obama announces his intention to run for president.
''I've navigated some fairly difficult territory in my political career and, you know, there are some folks in Springfield who are pretty wily.
And I've always been able to operate effectively, but also do so in a way that's consistent with my values and ethics. I make no claims of perfection, but I think that generally my judgment and my assessments of people have been pretty good and that's part of how I've stayed out of trouble in what can be a pretty hurly burly political environment. '..... I think that the way [voters should view the Rezko relationship] is that I made a mistake in not seeing the potential conflicts of interest or appearances of impropriety. But they should see somebody who was not engaged in any wrongdoing, who did not in any way betray the public trust, who has maintained consistently high ethical standards and who they can trust.''Feb 10, 2008: (Chicago Sun-Times)
''Sources said Thomas helped investigators build a record of repeat visits to the old offices of Rezko and former business partner Daniel Mahru's Rezmar Corp., at 853 N. Elston, by Blagojevich and Obama during 2004 and 2005.''March 6, 2008: Rezko trial begins.April 22, 2008: Ali Ata pleads guilty to obstruction of justice and agrees to cooperate.May 2, 2008: Illinois Senate narrowly defeated a measure aimed at giving voters a chance to recall Gov. Rod Blagojevich.June 4, 2008: Rezko convicted on 16 of 24 counts. Count 1 contains ties to Blagojevich and Obama.
The following conviction counts are related to Mercy Hospital and the rigging of the Planning Board.
1, 11, 12, 14, 15
A large portion of the testimony in the Rezko Trial was about the rigging of the Planning Board.Aug. 20, 2008: Rezko sentencing delayed.Oct. 9, 2008: Rezko sentencing delayed.Oct. 30, 2008: William Cellini indictedNov. 4, 2008: Washington Times report.
''A former Illinois real estate specialist says FBI agents have questioned him about a Chicago property that had been bought by convicted felon Tony Rezko's wife and later sold to the couple's next-door neighbor, Sen. Barack Obama.
The real estate specialist, Kenneth J. Conner, said bank officials replaced an appraisal review he prepared on the property and FBI agents were investigating in late 2007 whether the Rezko-Obama deal was proper.
''Agents and I talked about payoff, bribe, kickback for a long time, though it took them only a short number of minutes of talking with me while looking at the appraisal to acknowledge what they already seemed to know: The Rezko lot was grossly overvalued,'' Mr. Conner told The Washington Times Monday.
''Rezko paid the asking price on the same day Obama paid $300,000 less than the asking price to the same seller for his adjacent mansion,'' he said. ''This begs the question of payoff, bribe, kickback.''''
Dec. 7, 2008: Criminal complaint of Blagojevich. Nine individuals is important. Obama helped passed a bill to reduce the number from 15 to 9.
''b. Corruption of the Planning Board'' ''At the relevant time period, the Planning Board consisted of nine individuals.''
''Planning Board'' (IL Health Facilities Planning Board) is mentioned 31 times.
''Rezko'' is mentioned 170 times.
''Hospital'' in context of Mercy Hospital mentioned 8 times.Dec. 9, 2008: Blagojevich arrested
''Fitzgerald said, ''We make no allegations'' that Obama was aware of any alleged scheming by Blagojevich.''Jan. 9, 2009: IL House votes 114 to 1 to impeach Blagojevich.Jan 29, 2009: IL Senate removes Blagojevich from office.Feb 12, 2009: ''US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, who brought criminal fraud charges against former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, will stay on with the Obama administration, reports Pete Williams at NBC.''APRIL 2, 2009: Press release, Superceding Indictment. There is no mention of nine board members.
''Planning Board'' (IL Health Facilities Planning Board) is mentioned 7 times
''Rezko'' is mentioned 100 times.
http://www.justice.gov/usao/iln/pr/chicago/2009/pr0402_01a.pdfJuly 30, 2009: Patrick Fitzgerald, the top prosecutor in Illinois' Northern District, has been named interim chairman of the Attorney General's Advisory Committee of U.S. Attorneys (AGAC).Feb. 4, 2010: Second superceding indictment. There is no mention of nine board members.
''Planning Board'' (IL Health Facilities Planning Board) is mentioned 7 times
''Rezko'' is mentioned 87 times.
''Hospital'' in context of Mercy Hospital mentioned 1 time.
http://www.justice.gov/usao/iln/pr/chicago/2010/pr0204_02a.pdfApril 14, 2010: Evidentiary Proffer include 9 members statement.
''During the relevant time period, the Planning Board consisted of nine individuals.''
''Rezko was able to obtain significant influence over the affairs of the Planning Board by arranging for Blagojevich to appoint five of Rezko's associates and/or friends, including Levine, as members of the Planning Board in 2003.''
''Rezko'' is mentioned 288 times.
''Hospital'' in context of Mercy Hospital mentioned 18 times.April 22, 2010: Motion filed to subpoena Obama and redacted parts revealed.
''22. However, the defense has a good faith belief that Mr. Rezko, President Obama's former friend, fund-raiser, and neighbor told the FBI and
the United States Attorneys
a different story about President Obama. In a recent in camera proceeding, the government tendered a three paragraph letter indicating that Rezko ''has stated in interviews with the government that he engaged in election law violations by personally contributing a large sum of cash to the campaign of a public official who is not Rod Blagojevich. '... Further, the public official denies being aware of cash contributions to his campaign by Rezko or others and denies having conversations with Rezko related to cash contributions. '... Rezko has also stated in interviews with the government that he believed he transmitted a quid pro quo offer from a lobbyist to the public official, whereby the lobbyist would hold a fundraiser for the official in exchange for favorable official action, but that the public official rejected the offer. The public official denies any such conversation. In addition, Rezko has stated to the government that he and the public official had certain conversations about gaming legislation and administration, which the public official denies having had.''10
10 The defense has a good faith belief that this public official is Barack Obama.''
June 29, 2010: Judge Zagel said there was a word to describe witnesses like Rezko who damage whatever side calls them to testify.
''generally explains why they're not called.''
Aug. 17, 2010: Blagojevich convicted of 1 of 24 counts. Neither Rezko or Levine were called as witnesses. One juror held out from indicting on more counts. The trial was much shorter than predicted . Approx 2% of the wiretaps were presented.Jan. 6, 2011: Rezko sentencing delayed indefinitely.Jan. 28, 2011: Rezko sentencing set for October 21, 2011.Feb. 24, 2011: Counts 1,2,4 in the Blagojevich Indictment are dropped. This represents approx. half of the indictment and includes numerous corruption ties to Blagojevich and Obama.
The only reference left to ''Hospital'' in context of Mercy Hospital was in count one.March 9, 2011: Blagojevich files motion to be sentenced on one conviction charge.
More here:
Source: http://citizenwells.com/2016/12/28/rod-blagojevich-commutation-scenarios-obama-grants-to-silence-him-trump-grants-and-gets-blagojevich-to-reveal-obama-corruption-blagojevich-remains-in-prison-and-talks-before-silenced-another-myste/
Rezko Speaks: Imprisoned Illinois Fixer Calls Blagojevich Sentence 'Ridiculous' | Talking Points Memo
Thu, 20 Feb 2020 00:10
Tony Rezko, the corrupt former Illinois political fixer, finally broke his silence this week, dishing from prison about what he described as former Gov. Rod Blagojevich's role in schemes to hand out coveted seats in state government in exchange for mountains of campaign cash.
Serving a 10 ½ year bit in federal prison in central Illinois, Rezko refused to talk about his connections to President Barack Obama, but spoke freely about Blagojevich in what the Chicago Sun-Times newspaper on Wednesday called a ''wide-ranging telephone interview.'' ''We would have the discussions,'' Rezko told the newspaper. ''X, Y and Z made a $50,000 [contribution] and looking to be placed on a board, where should we place that person if that person specifically requested to be placed on board. Yeah. We had these discussions.''
In his prime, Rezko was a high roller and fundraiser in Illinois politics. Though he remained behind the scenes mostly, he managed to get near some of the state's biggest political stars, including Obama. In 2006, the Obamas bought a piece of land from Rezko's wife in a deal that would later become a campaign problem for the future president. Obama eventually tried to wash his hands of Rezko and gave the fixer's campaign donations to charity.
In the interview on Wednesday, Rezko focused mostly on Blagojevich, the flamboyant former Democratic governor who is now serving a 14-year sentence in federal prison in Colorado in part for trying to sell Obama's vacant Senate seat after the 2008 election.
''I think it's ridiculous for him to be given 14 years,'' Rezko told the newspaper. ''It's not about justice. You think that's justice?''
Blagojevich's lawyer defended the imprisoned governor against Rezko's latest allegations, telling the newspaper there was no evidence Blagojevich ever knew that seats on state boards were being sold for campaign donations.
Former Obama fundraiser Rezko gets 10-year sentence - Reuters
Wed, 19 Feb 2020 23:58
CHICAGO (Reuters) - A U.S. judge on Tuesday sentenced Antoin ''Tony'' Rezko, a former Chicago fundraiser for President Barack Obama, to 10-1/2 years in prison for corruption and extortion.
Antoin 'Tony' Rezko arrives at the Dirksen Federal Courthouse in Chicago May 12, 2008 for the closing arguments in his corruption trial. A U.S. judge on Tuesday sentenced Rezko, a former Chicago fundraiser for President Barack Obama, to 10-1/2 years in prison for corruption and extortion. REUTERS/John Gress
Rezko's conviction was among a slew of guilty pleas that led to the conviction in two trials of former Democratic Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich and several of his aides.
A Syrian immigrant who earned millions in the real estate and restaurant businesses, Rezko has been imprisoned since his 2008 conviction on 16 fraud and attempted bribery counts.
''Enough is enough. Corruption in Illinois has to stop,'' U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve in handing down sentence to the now-gaunt, 56-year-old Rezko.
Rezko became a minor campaign issue for Obama during the 2008 presidential race. The two had become close friends and Rezko had raised tens of thousands of dollars for the then-Illinois state senator's successful U.S. Senate and presidential campaigns.
At one point, the Republican National Committee referred to Rezko as Obama's ''money man''.
Rezko also advised Obama in the purchase of the future president's large home on the south side of Chicago. Rezko's wife purchased and then resold to the Obama family a side yard to the home they could not afford initially.
When Rezko was convicted, Obama said he was ''saddened'' and added, ''This isn't the Tony Rezko I knew.''
Because he has spent some 44 months in prison '-- some in solitary confinement awaiting a chance to testify that never came '-- Rezko has roughly 6 years, 10 months, left to serve. While in the Chicago federal prison for nine months, he was kept in solitary for his own protection because he was cooperating with the government,
The judge said she took into account the harsh prison conditions Rezko was put under, which has led to weight loss and a deterioration of his physical condition that she remarked on several times during the sentencing.
Judge St. Eve said she was sending a message that dishonesty in government does not pay, and that the endemic corruption in Illinois must stop. Blagojevich's Republican predecessor George Ryan was also imprisoned for corruption. Blagojevich will be sentenced on 18 corruption counts December 6, which included attempts to sell Obama's vacant Senate seat.
St. Eve said Rezko was a private citizen who wielded enormous power during Blagojevich's abbreviated two terms in office through campaign donations and favors, and he and other corrupt officials helped engineer a scheme that netted nearly $10 million in bribes.
The scheme involved state boards in charge of approving new hospitals and oversight of the Teachers' Retirement System, a multibillion-dollar pension fund. Rezko and his cohorts extorted bribes from companies seeking to invest the funds.
He still faces sentencing for fraud involving loans to a chain of struggling pizza restaurants he once owned.
Tony Rezko - Wikipedia Obama connections
Wed, 19 Feb 2020 23:52
Antoin "Tony" Rezko (born 1955) is an American businessman. He was a fundraiser for Illinois Democratic and Republican politicians. After becoming a major contributor to Rod Blagojevich's successful gubernatorial election, Rezko assisted Blagojevich in setting up the state's first Democratic administration in twenty years and as a result he was able to have business associates appointed onto several state boards. Rezko and several others were indicted on federal charges in October 2006 for using their connections on the state boards to demand kickbacks from businesses that wished to engage in dealings with the state. While the others pleaded guilty, Rezko pleaded not guilty and was tried. He was found guilty of 16 of the 24 charges filed against him and on November 23, 2011, he was sentenced to 10.5 years in prison.[1]
Early life and education Edit Tony Rezko was born in 1955 in Aleppo, Syria, to a prominent Syriac Catholic family.[2] After graduating from college there, Rezko moved to Chicago and earned an undergraduate and a master's degree in civil engineering from the Illinois Institute of Technology in the late 1970s. He joined an engineering company, designing nuclear power plants, then left to design roads for the state Transportation Department, making $21,590 in his first year there.[3][4]
Career Edit While he was an engineer, Rezko started buying vacant lots and developing single family residences. He also began investing in fast-food restaurants, including the first Subway in Chicago. Many properties were in lower-income African American neighborhoods[2][5] where he met Jabir Herbert (J.H.) Muhammad, former manager of heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali and son of the late Nation of Islam leader, Elijah Muhammad. Rezko was asked in 1983 to support the successful mayoral candidacy of African-American Harold Washington. J.H. Muhammad's company, Crucial Concessions, hired Rezko in 1984 and won a food contract on Lake Michigan beaches and in many South Side parks. Rezko put together endorsement deals for Ali, became the executive director of the Muhammad Ali Foundation, and traveled the world with Ali for five years.[2]
In 1997, Crucial Concessions opened two Panda Express Restaurants at O'Hare, under the city's minority set-aside program. It lost those franchises in 2005, on the grounds that J.H. Muhammad was merely a front man for Rezko, who had been appointed trustee of Elijah Muhammad's affairs in the early 1990s. In March 2008 Muhammad sued Rezko, alleging that he had been swindled out of his home and business interests.[4][5][6]
In January 1989, Rezko and attorney Daniel Mahru, CEO of a firm that leased ice makers to bars and hotels, founded a real-estate development and restaurant holding corporation called Rezmar Corporation. Between 1989 and 1998, Rezmar rehabilitated 30 buildings, a total of 1,025 apartments, spending more than $100 million from the city, state and federal governments and bank loans. Rezko and Mahru weren't responsible for any government or bank loans or the $50 million in federal tax credits they got to rehab the buildings. Rezmar put just $100 into each project and got a 1% stake as the general partner in charge of hiring the architect, contractor, and the company that would manage the buildings. They selected Chicago Property Management, also owned by Rezko and Mahru, to manage the buildings, including selecting the tenants and making repairs. Rezmar also got upfront development fees of at least $6.9 million in all. Under its deals with the Chicago Equity Fund, Rezmar promised to cover all operating losses in any building for seven years, but had no obligation after that, although the Federal Government could recover the tax credits that Rezmar sold from the holders if the projects did not survive for fifteen years or more.[4] By 1998 the company had a net worth of US$34 million[7] and it then turned to purchasing old factories and parcels of land in gentrifying areas of Chicago and turning them into upscale condominium complexes.[4][8] Rezko was named "Entrepreneur of the Decade" by the Arab-American Business and Professional Association.[9]
Rezko's investment in restaurant food chains had started with a chain of Panda Express Chinese restaurants. In 1998, Rezko opened his first chain of Papa John's Pizza restaurants in Chicago and by 2002, he had twenty-six stores in Chicago, at least fifteen in Wisconsin, and seven in Detroit, part of the financing for these stores was through GE Capital.[3] By 2001, Rezko began to fall behind on his franchise payments and loans and he transferred the franchises to several business associates. In 2006, during a lawsuit with Papa John's over his franchise fees, Rezko renamed his Papa John's restaurants to Papa Tony's.[9] Rezko also had a lien filed against his home after losing a civil lawsuit to GE Capital.[3]
As his business ventures began failing, Rezko entered into several partnership with Iraqi-born business executive Nadhmi Auchi, including a massive 2005 real estate development project on Chicago's South Loop whose value was pegged by an observer familiar with the deal at $130.5 million.[10] In 2008, Rezko was imprisoned for his failure to disclose a $3.5m loan from Auchi.
Legal troubles Edit Rezko was later convicted on 16 charges of corruption and fraud and was sentenced to serve 10 1/2 years in prison.
Public corruption charges Edit In October 2006, Rezko was indicted along with businessman Stuart Levine on charges of wire fraud, bribery, money laundering, and attempted extortion as a result of a federal investigation known as "Operation Board Games."[11][12] Levine was once a top Republican fund-raiser who had switched loyalty in recent years.[13] Rezko and Levine were charged with attempting to extort millions of dollars from businesses seeking to do business with the Illinois Teachers System Board and the Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board from 2002 to 2004. Levine pleaded guilty and agreed to testify against Rezko and others. While the charges carry a maximum sentence of life in prison, Levine expects to receive about a 5-1/2 year sentence in return for his testimony.[14] The case was prosecuted by Patrick Fitzgerald.
Rezko pleaded not guilty, and the trial related to his charges from Operation Board Games began on March 6, 2008.[15] He was jailed shortly before the trial began when he received a $3.5 million wire transfer from Lebanon. Rezko had told the court that he had no access to money from overseas. Ten weeks into the trial, on April 18, Judge Amy St. Eve released Rezko, after friends and relatives put up 30 properties valued at about $8.5 million to secure his bond. Prosecutors opposed the motion for release, saying that Rezko was a flight risk.[16] On May 6, both the prosecution and the defense rested their cases. Government prosecutors spent 8 weeks presenting their case. Rezko's lawyer, Joseph J. Duffy, chose not to present any witnesses, saying that he did not believe that the prosecution had proven the charges.[17] Prosecutors contended that they had shown Rezko's "corrupt use of his power and influence" to gain benefits for himself and his friends. Duffy argued that the prosecution had exaggerated Rezko's influence in state government, and attacked Levine's credibility as a witness.[18]
The case went to the jury on May 13 and after three weeks of deliberation, the jury found Rezko guilty of six counts of wire fraud, six counts of mail fraud, two counts of corrupt solicitation, and two counts of money laundering, but found him not guilty on three counts of wire and mail fraud, one count of attempted extortion, and four counts of corrupt solicitation.[19] According to CBS News the "high-profile federal trial provided an unusually detailed glimpse of the pay-to-play politics that has made Illinois infamous."[20]
While the jury was deliberating on the Board Games trial, an arrest warrant was issued in Las Vegas for passing bad checks in two casinos and failing to pay $450,000 in gambling debts that were accrued between March and July 2006.[21] Another casino had also filed a civil complaint for a total of $331,000 in 2006 and was given a judgment of default in 2007.[21]
Edit Rezko was indicted, along with a business associate, for wire fraud related to the alleged sale of his pizza business to a straw buyer at an inflated price in order to obtain millions of dollars in loans from GE Capital.[22] Rezko initially pleaded not guilty to these charges.[23] In 2011, Rezko would change his plea to guilty.[24] As part of a plea deal and his agreement to drop his appeal of his previous conviction, Rezko pleaded guilty to wire fraud and was given a 7 1/2 year sentence to run concurrently with the 10 1/2-year sentence he is presently serving for his previous conviction.[24]
Release from federal prison Edit In July 2015 Tony Rezko was released from federal prison to a halfway house in Chicago.[25]
Ties to politicians Edit Ties to Rod Blagojevich Edit Rezko's relationship with Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich and his family were at the root of the federal corruption case which led to Rezko's conviction.[3] Rezko donated $117,652 to Blagojevich's campaigns,[5] and is credited by the prosecutor in his trial with having delivered bundled contributions totalling almost $1.44 million.[26] Since 1997, Blagojevich's wife, Patricia, has made at least $38,000 acting as Rezko's real-estate agent on several of his company's property acquisitions. When Blagojevich won the Illinois gubernatorial election in 2002, Rezko assisted Blagojevich in setting up the state's first Democratic administration in twenty years.[3] Rezko recommended many of his business associates and their relatives for positions within state government, three of whom were appointed to the state board that oversees hospital projects. the state's development board was run by another former Rezko business associate. Rezko and Republican fundraiser Stuart Levine were charged in a 24-count federal indictment for allegedly using Rezko's influence with public officials to demand millions of dollars in kickbacks from companies that wanted to do business with the state.[3][5] Levine pleaded guilty and served as the chief witness against Rezko at trial. Levine and several other witnesses implicated Blagojevich in the schemes.[27][28]
The last indictment in Operation Board Games before Blagojevich himself was indicted was that of William F. Cellini who was indicted for conspiring with Rezko to shake down Chicago-based Capri Capital to get a substantial contribution to Blagojevich in exchange for allowing Capri to manage $220 million in the Teachers Retirement System. After Thomas Rosenberg of Capri threatened to tell authorities, the plan was abandoned.[29] Capri has substantial investments in the Watergate complex and King Abdullah Economic City.
Ties to Barack Obama Edit History Edit In 1990, after Barack Obama was elected president of the Harvard Law Review, He interviewed with Rezmar Corp. Rezko did not decide to hire him however exclaimed he'd have a great shot at politics. Obama instead took a job with the firm of Davis, Miner, Barnhill & Galland,[30] which primarily worked on civil rights cases. The firm also represented Rezmar and helped the company get more than $43 million in government funding. The firm's former senior partner, Allison S. Davis, later went into business with Rezko and, in 2003, was appointed to the Illinois State Board of Investment by Governor Blagojevich at Rezko's request.[7][31] On July 31, 1995, the first ever political contributions to Obama were $300 from a lawyer, a $5,000 loan from a car dealer, and $2,000 from two food companies owned by Rezko.[32] Starting in 2003, Rezko was one of the people on Obama's U.S. Senate campaign finance committee, which raised more than $14 million.[7] Rezko organized an early fundraiser for Obama that Chicago Tribune reporter David Mendell claims was instrumental in providing Obama with seed money for his U.S. Senate race.[2] Obama in 2007-2008 identified over $250,000 in campaign contributions to various Obama campaigns as coming from Rezko or close associates, and said that he donated almost two-thirds of that amount to nonprofit groups.[33][34]
Real estate dealings Edit In 2005 Obama purchased a new home in the Kenwood District of Chicago for $1.65 million (which was $300,000 below the asking price but represented the highest offer on the property) on the same day that Rezko's wife, Rita Rezko, purchased the adjoining empty lot from the same sellers for the full asking price.[35] Obama acknowledged bringing his interest in the property to Rezko's attention,[36] but denied any coordination of offers. According to Obama, while the properties had originally been a single property, the previous owners decided to sell the land as two separate lots, but made it a condition of the sales that they be closed on the same date. Obama also stated that the properties had been on the market for months, that his offer was the better of two bids, and that Ms. Rezko's bid was matched by another offer, also of $625,000, so that she could not have purchased the property for less.[37]
After it had been reported in 2006 that Rezko was under federal investigation for influence-peddling, Obama purchased a 10-foot-wide strip of Ms. Rezko's property for $104,500, $60,000 above the assessed value.[7][35] According to Chicago Sun-Times columnist, Mark Brown, "Rezko definitely did Obama a favor by selling him the 10-foot strip of land, making his own parcel less attractive for development."[38] Obama acknowledges that the exchange may have created the appearance of impropriety and stated "I consider this a mistake on my part and I regret it."[37]
On December 28, 2006, Mrs. Rezko sold the property to a company owned by her husband's former business attorney. That sale of $575,000, combined with the earlier $104,500 sale to the Obamas, amounted to a net profit of $54,500 over her original purchase, less $14,000 for a fence along the property line and other expenses.[39][40] In October 2007, the new owners put the still vacant land up for sale again, this time for $1.5 million.[41]
Obama's letters Edit In June 2007, the Sun-Times published a story about letters Obama had written in 1997 to city and state officials in support of a low-income senior citizen development project headed by Rezko and Davis. The project received more than $14 million in taxpayer funds, including $885,000 in development fees for Rezko and Davis. Of Obama's letters in support of the Cottage View Terrace apartments development, Obama spokesman Bill Burton said, "This wasn't done as a favor for anyone; it was done in the interests of the people in the community who have benefited from the project. I don't know that anyone specifically asked him to write this letter nine years ago. There was a consensus in the community about the positive impact the project would make and Obama supported it because it was going to help people in his district." Rezko's attorney responded that "Mr. Rezko never spoke with, nor sought a letter from, Senator Obama in connection with that project.[42]
In the South Carolina Democratic Party presidential debate on January 21, 2008, Senator Hillary Clinton said that Obama had been associated with Rezko, whom she referred to as a slum landlord.[43] The Los Angeles Times indicated that its own review showed Rezko played a deeper role in Obama's political and financial biography than Obama has acknowledged.[44] Within days of the debate, a photo of Rezko posing with Bill and Hillary Clinton surfaced. When asked about the photo, Hillary Clinton commented: "I probably have taken hundreds of thousands of pictures. I wouldn't know him if he walked in the door."[45]
Ties to other politicians Edit Rezko's first significant political act was hosting a fundraiser for Harold Washington during Washington's successful campaign to become Chicago's mayor.[5] He has since raised funds for many other politicians.[46] In addition to Blagojevich and Obama, prominent Democrats that Rezko or his company, Rezmar, have contributed money to, or fund-raised for, are Congressman Luis Gutierrez, a friend for over two decades,[47] Comptroller Dan Hynes, Attorney General Lisa Madigan, Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn, former Chicago Mayors Daley and Washington, and former Cook County Board President John Stroger.[3] Rezko has also raised money for Republicans, including former Illinois Governors Jim Edgar and George Ryan.[2] The late Rosemont, Illinois, Mayor Donald Stephens and Rezko co-chaired a multimillion-dollar fund-raiser for President George W. Bush in 2003.[4][46]
Rezko headed the 2002 campaign finance committee for Stroger. Stroger appointed Rezko's wife, Rita, to the Cook County Employee Appeals Board, which hears cases brought by fired or disciplined workers. The part-time post pays $37,000 a year.[2] A Rezko company had a contract to maintain pay telephones at the Cook County Jail under Stroger. The Chicago Sun-Times puts Rezko's contributions to Stroger at $148,300.[citation needed ]
References Edit ^ Chicago Sun-Times. 2012-01-22 https://web.archive.org/web/20111129212145/http://posttrib.suntimes.com/news/politics/9001435-418/tony-rezko-sentenced-to-10-12-years-in-kickback-scheme.html. Archived from the original on 2011-11-29. ^ a b c d e f Merriner, James L. "Mr. Inside Out". Chicago Magazine . Retrieved 2008-05-10 . ^ a b c d e f g Jackson, David; Chase, John (2006-10-12). "Rezko's life a story of pizza and politics". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on 2007-12-27 . Retrieved 2007-02-06 . ^ a b c d e Novak, Tim (2007-04-24). "Broken promises, broken homes". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on 2008-03-24 . Retrieved 2008-05-10 . ^ a b c d e McClelland, Edward (2008-02-01). "How close were Barack Obama and Tony Rezko?". Salon. Archived from the original on 2008-04-18 . Retrieved 2008-05-10 . ^ Drew, Christopher; McIntire, Mike (2007-06-14). "An Obama Patron and Friend Until an Indictment". The New York Times . Retrieved 2008-05-10 . ^ a b c d Novak, Tim (2007-04-23). "Obama and his Rezko ties". Chicago Sun-Times . Retrieved 2008-03-05 . ^ David Schaper (2008-03-06). "Q&A: The Tony Rezko Case" . Retrieved 2008-03-09 . ^ a b Ray Hanania (2005-06-08). "Arabs in Chicago discover political clout and controversy". Arab American Media Services. Archived from the original on 2008-09-15 . Retrieved 2008-01-31 . ^ Rezko sells Loop project for $131M ^ "Indictment - U.S. vs. Levine and Rezko" (PDF) . Chicago Business . Retrieved 2008-05-10 . ^ Marla Cichowski (2008-04-04). "Courtroom Wire: Notes From Tony Rezko's Corruption Trial". FOXNews . Retrieved 2008-04-06 . ^ "Chicago Business News--Stuart Levine Pleads Guilty". ^ Secter, Bob; Coen, Jeff (2008-03-19). "Levine weaves tawdry tale". Chicago Tribune . Retrieved 2008-05-10 . ^ "One Tony, three trials". Chicago Tribune. 2008-03-07. Archived from the original on 2008-12-14 . Retrieved 2008-05-10 . ^ Coen, Jeff (2008-04-20). "Rezko free on bail". Chicago Tribune . Retrieved 2008-05-10 . ^ Einhorn Catrin (2008-05-06). "Illinois: No Defense Witnesses for Rezko". The New York Times . Retrieved 2008-05-10 . ^ Corrupt mastermind or victim of frame-up? Chicago Tribune, May 13, 2008 ^ "Rezko found guilty on 16 counts". ABCNews. 2008-06-04 . Retrieved 2008-06-04 . ^ Parker, Mike (2008-06-04). "Jury Finds Tony Rezko Guilty On 16 Of 24 Charges". CBS 2. Archived from the original on 2008-06-05 . Retrieved 2008-06-04 . ^ a b Korecki, Natasha (2008-05-29). "Las Vegas judge issues arrest warrant for Tony Rezko over alleged gambling debts". Chicago Sun-Times . Retrieved 2008-06-11 . ^ Robinson, Mike (2006-10-11). "Blagojevich Adviser Indicted on Charges". The Washington Post . Retrieved 2007-03-17 . ^ St Clair, Stacy; Cohen, Jodi S (2008-06-08). "Rezko faces next trial: Date set in pizza case". Chicago Tribune . Retrieved 2008-06-11 . ^ a b "Tony Rezko Sentenced: Former Blagojevich Fundraiser Won't Serve More Time For New Conviction". Huffington Post. 2011-12-22. ^ "Onetime Obama donor Tony Rezko released to halfway house". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on 2015-07-09. ^ "FOB Chart 2" (PDF) . United States Department of Justice. 2008-03-07. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-06-25 . Retrieved 2008-05-10 . ^ Coen, Jeff; Secter, Bob (2008-03-20). "Name on Levine's lips at trial: Blagojevich". Chicago Tribune . Retrieved 2008-05-10 . ^ Secter, Bob; Coen, Jeff (2008-05-01). "Ali Ata testifies he paid Rezko, donated to Blagojevich". Chicago Tribune . Retrieved 2008-05-10 . ^ William F. Cellini, Sr., Indicted - fbi.gov - October 30, 2008 Archived March 20, 2009, at the Wayback Machine ^ now Miner, Barnhill & Galland. Morain, Dan (2008-04-06). "Obama's lawyer days: brief and not all civil rights". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 2008-04-10 . Retrieved 2008-05-10 . ^ Novak, Tim (2007-11-11). "How reform-minded City Hall critic became a cozy insider". Chicago Sun-Times . Retrieved 2008-05-10 . ^ Novak, Tim (2007-04-23). "Obama and his Rezko ties". Chicago Sun\Times . Retrieved 2008-05-10 . ^ Chris Fusco; David McKinney; Tim Novak; Abdon M. Pallasch (2008-03-16). "Obama explains Rezko relationship to Sun-Times". Chicago Sun-Times . Retrieved 2008-03-16 . ^ Drew, Christopher; McIntire, Mike (2007-06-14). "An Obama Patron and Friend Until an Indictment". The New York Times . Retrieved 2008-03-05 . ^ a b Ray Gibson; David Jackson (2006-11-01). "Rezko owns vacant lot next to Obama's home". Chicago Tribune . Retrieved 2008-03-04 . ^ "Asked who approached her about the house, Schwan [the seller's broker] told Salon, 'I honestly don't remember. Tony Rezko lived across the street, so he'd been interested in the lot.'"McClelland, Edward (2008-02-01). "How close were Barack Obama and Tony Rezko?". Salon.com. Archived from the original on 2008-04-18 . Retrieved 2008-05-10 . ^ a b McKinney, Dave; Fusco, Chris (2006-11-05). "Obama on Rezko deal: It was a mistake". Chicago Sun-Times . Retrieved 2008-05-10 . ^ Brown, Mark (2006-11-02). "Obama's dealings with Rezko buy a parcel of questions". Chicago Sun-Times . Retrieved 2008-05-10 . ^ The $54,500 figure is before any property tax and other expenses Ms. Rezko incurred during her ownership ^ Jackson, David; Ray Gibson (2007-02-24). "Rezko sells lot next to Obama". Chicago Tribune . Retrieved 2008-03-04 . ^ Novak, Tim (2007-10-10). "Lot next to Obama can be yours for $1.5M". Chicago Sun-Times . Retrieved 2008-03-04 . ^ Novak, Tim (2007-06-13). "Obama's letters for Rezko". Chicago Sun-Times . Retrieved 2008-05-10 . ^ Healy, Patrick; Zeleny, Jeff (2008-01-22). "Obama and Clinton Tangle at Debate". The New York Times . Retrieved 2008-05-10 . ^ Morain, Dan; Hamburger, Tom (2008-01-23). "Obama dogged by ties to donor". Los Angeles Times . Retrieved 2011-10-10 . ^ "Photo Surfaces Showing Sen. Clinton Posing With Chicago Landlord Rezko". FOXNews. 2008-01-25 . Retrieved 2008-05-10 . ^ a b Sneed, Michael (2006-10-12). "The Rezko scandal ..." Chicago Sun-Times . Retrieved 2008-03-05 . ^ Novak, Tim (2006-11-14). "Luis' deal with Rezko". Chicago Sun-Times . Retrieved 2010-03-15 . External links Edit The Tony Rezko Case complete coverage from the Chicago TribuneTony Rezko complete coverage from the Chicago Sun-TimesEric Zorn, RezkoWebliography The Chicago Tribune, February 7, 2008Antoin Rezko Indictment, United States Department of Justice, Oct 11 2006
David Axelrod (political consultant) - Wikipedia
Wed, 19 Feb 2020 13:11
For other persons with this name, see David Axelrod (disambiguation)David M. Axelrod (born February 22, 1955) is an American political consultant and analyst, best known for being the Chief Strategist for Barack Obama's presidential campaigns.
After Obama's election, Axelrod was appointed as Senior Advisor to the President.[1] He left the position in early 2011 and became the Senior Strategist for Obama's successful re-election campaign in 2012.[2][3]
Axelrod wrote for the Chicago Tribune, and joined CNN as Senior Political Commentator in 2015.[4] As of December 2019[update], Axelrod serves as the director of the non-partisan University of Chicago Institute of Politics.[5] His memoir is titled Believer: My Forty Years in Politics.[4][6]
Early life Edit Axelrod was born on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, New York City, and grew up in its Stuyvesant Town area.[7][8] He was raised in a liberal Jewish family[9][10] and had his bar mitzvah ceremony at the Brotherhood Synagogue in Manhattan.[11] His mother, Myril Bennett (n(C)e Davidson), was a journalist at PM, a liberal-leaning 1940s newspaper, and later an advertising executive at Young & Rubicam.[12] His father, Joseph Axelrod, was a psychologist and avid baseball fan, who migrated from Eastern Europe to the United States at the age of eleven.[13][14][15][16][17] He attended Public School 40 in Manhattan. Axelrod's parents separated when he was eight years old. Describing the appeal of politics, he told the Los Angeles Times, "I got into politics because I believe in idealism. Just to be a part of this effort that seems to be rekindling the kind of idealism that I knew when I was a kid, it's a great thing to do. So I find myself getting very emotional about it."[18] At thirteen years old, he was selling campaign buttons for Robert F. Kennedy. After graduating from New York's Stuyvesant High School[14] in 1972, Axelrod attended the University of Chicago, where he majored in political science.[19]
As an undergraduate, Axelrod wrote for the Hyde Park Herald, covering politics, and earned an internship at the Chicago Tribune. He lost his father to suicide in 1977, around the time of his graduation.[20] While at the University of Chicago he met his future wife, business student Susan Landau (daughter of research doctor Richard L. Landau),[21] and they married in 1979. In June 1981, their first child, a daughter, was diagnosed with epilepsy at seven months of age.[22]
Career Edit Prior to first Obama campaign Edit The Chicago Tribune hired Axelrod after his graduation from college. He worked there for eight years, covering national, state and local politics, becoming their youngest political writer in 1981. At 27, he became the City Hall Bureau Chief and a political columnist for the paper.[23] He left the Tribune and joined the campaign of U.S. Senator Paul Simon as communications director in 1984. Within weeks he was promoted to co-campaign manager.[24]
In 1985, Axelrod formed the political consultancy firm, Axelrod & Associates. In 1987 he worked on the successful reelection campaign of Harold Washington, Chicago's first black mayor, while spearheading Simon's campaign for the 1988 Democratic Presidential nomination. This established his experience in working with black politicians; he later became a key player in similar mayoral campaigns of black candidates, including Dennis Archer in Detroit, Michael R. White in Cleveland, Anthony A. Williams in Washington, D.C., Lee P. Brown in Houston, and John F. Street in Philadelphia.[20] Axelrod is a longtime strategist for the former Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley[25] and styles himself a "specialist in urban politics." The Economist notes he also specializes in "packaging black candidates for white voters".[25]
In January 1990, Axelrod was hired to be the media consultant for the all but official re-election campaign of Oregon Governor Neil Goldschmidt.[26] However, Goldschmidt announced in February that he would not seek re-election.[27] Axelrod was retained by the Liberal Party of Ontario to help Dalton McGuinty and his party in 2002 to be elected into government in the October 2003 election. Axelrod's effect on Ontario was heard through the winning Liberal appeal to "working families" and placing an emphasis on positive policy contrasts like canceling corporate tax breaks to fund education and health.[28]
In 2004, Axelrod worked for John Edwards' presidential campaign. He lost responsibility for making ads, but continued as the campaign's spokesman. Regarding Edwards' failed 2004 presidential campaign, Axelrod has commented, "I have a whole lot of respect for John, but at some point the candidate has to close the deal and'--I can't tell you why'--that never happened with John."[29][30]
Axelrod contributed an op-ed to the Chicago Tribune in defense of patronage after two top officials in the administration of longtime client Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley were arrested for what federal prosecutors described as "pervasive fraud" in City Hall hiring and promotions.[31][32] In 2006, he consulted for several campaigns, including the successful campaigns of Eliot Spitzer in New York's gubernatorial election and Deval Patrick in Massachusetts's gubernatorial election. Axelrod served in 2006 as the chief political adviser for Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chair U.S. Representative Rahm Emanuel for the U.S. House of Representatives elections, in which the Democrats gained 31 seats.
He was an Adjunct Professor of Communication Studies at Northwestern University, where, along with Professor Peter Miller, he taught an undergraduate class titled Campaign Strategy, analyzing political campaigns, and their strategies.[33] On June 14, 2009 he received an honorary "Doctor of Humane Letters" degree from DePaul University, speaking at the commencement exercises of the College of Communication and College of Computing and Digital Media.[34]
Barack Obama presidential campaign, 2008 Edit Axelrod first met Obama in 1992, when Bettylu Saltzman, a Chicago democrat, introduced the two of them after Obama had impressed her at a black voter registration drive that he ran. Obama consulted Axelrod before he delivered a 2002 anti-war speech,[35] and asked him to read drafts of his book The Audacity of Hope.[36]
Axelrod contemplated taking a break from politics during the 2008 presidential campaign, as five of the candidates'--Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, Chris Dodd and Tom Vilsack'--were past clients. Personal ties between Axelrod and Hillary Clinton made it difficult, as she had raised significant funds for epilepsy on behalf of a foundation co-founded by Axelrod's wife and mother, Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy (CURE). (Axelrod's daughter suffers from developmental disabilities associated with chronic epileptic seizures.) Axelrod's wife even said that a 1999 conference Clinton convened to find a cure for the condition was "one of the most important things anyone has done for epilepsy."[37] Axelrod ultimately decided to participate in the Obama campaign, and served as chief strategist and media advisor for Obama. He told The Washington Post, "I thought that if I could help Barack Obama get to Washington, then I would have accomplished something great in my life."[14]
Axelrod contributed to the initial announcement of Obama's campaign by creating a five-minute Internet video released January 16, 2007.[38][39] He continued to use "man on the street"-style biographical videos to create intimacy and authenticity in the political ads.
Axelrod talking to reporters in the "spin room" after the Cleveland
Democratic debate in February 2008
While the Clinton campaign chose a strategy that emphasized experience, Axelrod helped to craft the Obama campaign's main theme of "change." He was critical of the Clinton campaign's positioning, and said that "being the consummate Washington insider is not where you want to be in a year when people want change...[Clinton's] initial strategic positioning was wrong and kind of played into our hands."[40] The change message played a factor in Obama's victory in the Iowa caucuses. "Just over half of [Iowa's] Democratic caucus-goers said change was the No. 1 factor they were looking for in a candidate, and 51 percent of those voters chose Barack Obama," said CNN senior political analyst Bill Schneider. "That compares to only 19 percent of 'change' caucus-goers who preferred Clinton."[41] Axelrod also believed that the Clinton campaign underestimated the importance of the caucus states. "For all the talent and the money they had over there," says Axelrod, "they'--bewilderingly'--seemed to have little understanding for the caucuses and how important they would become."[41] In the 2008 primary season, Obama won a majority of the states that use the caucus format.
Axelrod is credited with implementing a strategy that encourages the participation of people, a lesson drawn partly from Howard Dean's 2004 presidential campaign as well as a personal goal of Barack Obama. Axelrod explained to Rolling Stone, "When we started this race, Barack told us that he wanted the campaign to be a vehicle for involving people and giving them a stake in the kind of organizing he believed in. According to Axelrod getting volunteers involved became the legacy of the campaign "[42] This includes drawing on "Web 2.0" technology and viral media to support a grassroots strategy. Obama's web platform allows supporters to blog, create their own personal page, and even phonebank from home. Axelrod's elaborate use of the Internet helped Obama to organize under-30 voters and build over 475,000 donors in 2007, most of whom were Internet donors contributing less than $100 each.[43] The Obama strategy stood in contrast to Hillary Clinton's campaign, which benefited from high name recognition, large donors and strong support among established Democratic leaders.
Politico described Axelrod as 'soft-spoken' and 'mild-mannered'[44] and it quoted one Obama aide in Chicago as saying, "Do you know how lucky we are that he is our Mark Penn?"[45] Democratic consultant and former colleague Dan Fee said of Axelrod, "He's a calming presence."[46] "He's not a screamer, like some of these guys," political advisor Bill Daley said of Axelrod in the Chicago Tribune. "He has a good sense of humor, so he's able to defuse things."[47] In June 2008, The New York Times described Axelrod as a "campaign guru" with an "appreciation for Chicago-style politics."[48]
Senior Advisor to the President, 2009''11 Edit On November 20, 2008, Obama named Axelrod as a senior advisor to his administration. His role included crafting policy and communicating the President's message in coordination with President Obama, the Obama Administration, speechwriters, and the White House communications team.[49][50]
The Foreclosure Scandal Edit When details of the 2010 United States foreclosure crisis were publicized in 2010, notably robo-signing, Axelrod was widely criticized for downplaying the magnitude of the crisis in his comments to the press,[51][52] telling the audience of CBS News' Face the Nation that the Obama administration's "hope is this moves rapidly and that this gets unwound very, very quickly" and that he's "not sure that a national moratorium" is called for since "there are in fact valid foreclosures that probably should go forward."[53] Notably, Axelrod made this statement after several banks had voluntarily suspended foreclosures and evictions in order to investigate improprieties.[54]
Barack Obama presidential campaign, 2012 Edit Axelrod left his White House senior advisor post on January 28, 2011. He was a top aide to Obama's 2012 re-election campaign.[2][3] Axelrod also stated that his job as Obama's chief campaign strategist in the 2012 campaign would be his final job as a political operative.[55]
After second Obama campaign Edit Axelrod in Chicago in 2016
In January 2013, Axelrod established a bipartisan Institute of Politics at the University of Chicago, where he serves as director.[56] On January 23, 2013, La Stampa reported that Axelrod was helping Italian prime minister Mario Monti with his election campaign and had flown to Italy to meet with Monti ten days earlier.[57] Monti's coalition went on to come fourth with 10.5% of the vote in the Italian general election, 2013. On February 19, 2013, Axelrod joined NBC News and MSNBC as a senior political analyst,[citation needed ] a position he held until September 2015 when he moved to CNN.
In 2014 Axelrod was appointed senior strategic adviser to the British Labour Party to assist party leader Ed Miliband in the run-up to the 2015 general election.[58]
He is the co-founder of AKPD Message and Media, along with Eric Sedler, and operated ASK Public Strategies, now called ASGK Public Strategies, which were sold in 2009. In Feb. 2015 Axelrod's book Believer: My Forty Years in Politics was published.[59][failed verification ]
In 2015, Axelrod began hosting a podcast titled The Axe Files, a series of in-depth discussions and interviews with various political figures.[60] In June of 2019[61] he started the podcast Hacks on Tap with co-host Mike Murphy, a show where the two discuss news and updates from the 2020 presidential campaign trail.[62] He also joined CNN as a senior political commentator in September, 2015.[63]
In 2018, Axelrod vocally opposed Democratic support for impeachment, arguing that if "we ''normalize'' impeachment as a political tool, it will be another hammer blow to our democracy".[64]
References Edit ^ Smith, Ben (November 19, 2008). "Ben Smith's Blog: Axelrod, and other senior staff". Politico . Retrieved August 11, 2013 . ^ a b MacCallum, Martha (February 2, 2011). "Axelrod Departs the White House, Prepares for New Mission to Re-Elect Obama". FoxNews.com . Retrieved August 22, 2011 . ^ a b Walsh, Ken (November 12, 2012). "The Election's Other Big Winner: David Axelrod". US News. ^ a b LoBianco, Tom (September 3, 2015). "Former Obama adviser Axelrod joining CNN". CNN Politics. ^ "Staff". University of Chicago Institute of Politics . Retrieved April 4, 2019 . ^ "Believer: My Forty Years in Politics". Penguin Random House . Retrieved April 4, 2019 . ^ Saul, Michael (June 22, 2008). "David Axelrod is a New York City boy who has Barack Obama's ear". Daily News. New York . Retrieved April 15, 2011 . "Perched atop a mailbox near his family's apartment in Stuyvesant Town, 5-year-old David Axelrod watched intently as a charismatic John F. Kennedy rallied New Yorkers for his presidential campaign in the fall of 1960. ^ Jonas, Ilaina; Gralla, Joan (October 22, 2009). "NY court rules against Stuyvesant Town owners". Reuters . Retrieved April 15, 2011 . ^ MacAskill, Ewen (May 22, 2008). "He can be cut-throat. He believes that if you're in a race, you beat the other side by almost any means necessary". The Guardian. Although Chicago is home, Axelrod, 53, was born in New York's Lower East Side, into a leftwing Jewish family, his mother a journalist and his father a psychologist. ^ Kampeas, Ron (June 3, 2015). "How Bibi Alienated All His Jewish Allies at the White House". The Jewish Daily Forward. ^ Rubin, Bonnie Miller (July 31, 2017). "How David Axelrod Stays True to His Jewish Roots". Haaretz. ^ "Myril Axelrod Bennett Obituary". News Times. Danbury, Connecticut. January 22, 2014 . Retrieved November 23, 2015 . ^ Instaread (March 5, 2015). Believer: My Forty Years in Politics by David Axelrod | A 15-minute Summary & Analysis: My Forty Years in Politics. Instaread Summaries. ^ a b c Kaiser, Robert G. (May 2, 2008). "The Player at Bat '' David Axelrod, the Man With Obama's Game Plan, Is Also the Candidate's No. 1 Fan". The Washington Post . Retrieved May 6, 2008 . ^ Haq, Husna (February 15, 2009). "A Newton mother's pride in Obama adviser David Axelrod '' The Boston Globe". Boston.com . Retrieved February 11, 2014 . ^ "The Agony and the Agony". Pqasb.pqarchiver.com. June 24, 2007 . Retrieved February 11, 2014 . ^ Bell, Debra (December 2, 2008). "10 Things You Didn't Know About David Axelrod". U.S. News & World Report . Retrieved November 23, 2015 . ^ La Ganga, Maria L. (February 15, 2008). "The man behind Obama's message". Los Angeles Times . Retrieved April 28, 2008 . ^ Greene, Melissa Fay (February 6, 2007). "Obama's Media Maven". The Nation. ^ a b Hayes, Christopher (February 6, 2007). "Obama's Media Maven". The Nation . Retrieved April 22, 2008 . ^ O'Donnell, Maureen (June 24, 2016). "U. of C. Dr. Richard L. Landau, in-law to David Axelrod, dead at 99". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on February 4, 2018 . Retrieved February 4, 2018 . ^ "I Must Save My Child". Parade Magazine. February 15, 2009 . Retrieved February 15, 2009 . ^ "Partners'--David Axelrod". AKPD Message and Media. Archived from the original on November 8, 2008 . Retrieved April 28, 2008 . ^ Reardon, Patrick T. (June 24, 2007). "The Agony and the Agony". Chicago Tribune . Retrieved April 4, 2008 . ^ a b "The Ax-man Cometh". The Economist U.S. edition. August 23, 2008. p. 28. ^ Box 203 of Goldschmidt's records is no longer an active page; Box 203 of Goldschmidt's records are here but not apparently easily searchable. ^ Jaquiss, Nigel (May 12, 2004). "The 30-Year Secret: A crime, a cover-up and the way it shaped Oregon". Willamette Week. ^ Benzie, Robert (January 14, 2008). "McGuinty and Obama share strategist". The Star. Toronto. ^ Montgomery, David (February 15, 2007). "Barack Obama's On-Point Message Man". Washington Post . Retrieved May 13, 2015 . ^ Wallace-Wells, Ben (April 1, 2007). "Obama's Narrator". The New York Times . Retrieved April 22, 2008 . ^ Axelrod, David (August 21, 2005). "A Well-oiled Machine; A system that works? Political debts contribute to better city services". Chicago Tribune. ^ Rhodes, Steve (January 7, 2010). "An Axelrod to Grind". Los Angeles Times. ^ "Senior Advisor David Axelrod". whitehouse.gov. White House. Archived from the original on January 22, 2009. ^ Commencement '09 [permanent dead link ] DePaul University Newsline Online, May 20, 2009 ^ Becker, Jo; Christopher Drew (May 11, 2008). "Obama's Pragmatic Politics, Forged on the South Side". The New York Times . Retrieved May 12, 2008 . ^ Scott, Janny (May 18, 2008). "Obama's Story, Written by Obama". The New York Times . Retrieved May 18, 2008 . ^ Wallace-Wells, Ben (March 30, 2007). "A star strategist offers Democrats a new vision". International Herald Tribune . Retrieved May 6, 2008 . ^ "Biography of Barack Obama" (Video from Barack Obama's exploratory committee) . YouTube. January 16, 2007. ^ Obama, Barack (January 16, 2007). "My Plans for 2008" (Obama's YouTube video announcement of that he would file papers on January 16, 2007 to form an exploratory committee) . Retrieved November 11, 2008 . ^ Tumulty, Karen (May 8, 2008). "The Five Mistakes Clinton Made". Time . Retrieved November 2, 2009 . ^ a b Crowley, Candy (January 4, 2008). "Obama wins Iowa as candidate for change". CNN . Retrieved May 8, 2008 . ^ Dickinson, Tim (March 20, 2008). "The Machinery of Hope". Rolling Stone . Retrieved April 28, 2008 . ^ Stirland, Sarah Lai (February 14, 2008). "The Tech of Obamamania: Online Phone Banks, Mass Texting and Blogs". Wired . Retrieved February 21, 2008 . ^ Simon, Roger (March 20, 2007). "The Democrats Turn Tough'--on Each Other". Politico.com . Retrieved May 8, 2008 . ^ Brown, Carrie Budoff (April 27, 2008). "Obama team remains unshaken and unstirred". Politico.com . Retrieved April 28, 2008 . ^ Fitzgerald, Thomas (December 30, 2007). "Helping hone Obama's pitch". Politico.com. Archived from the original on January 7, 2008 . Retrieved May 7, 2008 . ^ Reardon, Patrick T. (June 24, 2007). "The Agony and the Agony". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on December 25, 2007 . Retrieved May 7, 2008 . ^ Powell, Michael (June 4, 2008). "Calm in the Swirl of History". The New York Times. p. A1 . Retrieved September 5, 2015 . ^ "Obama 'to unveil economic team ' ". November 24, 2008 '' via bbc.co.uk. ^ "Axelrod to join Obama White House". ^ The Foreclosure Fraud Scandal Just Got Harder to Ignore:by Kevin Connor. JANUARY 7, 2011 f Public Accountability Initiative (Eyes on the Ties). https://news.littlesis.org/2011/01/07/the-foreclosure-fraud-scandal-just-got-harder-to-ignore/ ^ Moe Tkachik. 5 Things David Axelrod Must Have Missed About The Foreclosure Thing. Washington City Paper. OCT 11, 2010. https://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/news/blog/13135897/5-things-david-axelrod-must-have-missed-about-the-foreclosure-thing ^ Tom Cohen, CNN. Axelrod signals White House opposition to foreclosure moratorium. October 10, 2010 http://www.cnn.com/2010/POLITICS/10/10/white.house.foreclosures/index.html ^ Binyamin Appelbaum: A Foreclosure Tightrope for Democrats. New York Times, Oct. 11, 2010. ^ Libit, Daniel (September 2011). "David Axelrod's Last Campaign". Chicago magazine . Retrieved April 13, 2012 . ^ Johnson, Dirk (January 9, 2013). "David Axelrod on His Move to the University of Chicago". Chicago Magazine . Retrieved February 20, 2014 . ^ Molinari, Maurizio (January 23, 2013). "New Client For Obama Guru Axelrod: Italian PM Mario Monti, In Showdown With Berlusconi". La Stampa . Retrieved April 19, 2014 . ^ Wintour, Patrick (April 17, 2014). "Ed Miliband signs up top Obama adviser David Axelrod for UK election". theguardian.com . Retrieved April 17, 2014 . ^ Rifkin, Jesse. "David Axelrod Book Reveals Behind-The-Scenes Drama Of Obama Campaign And Presidency". Huffington Post. ^ "The Axe Files with David Axelrod". politics.uchicago.edu . Retrieved April 8, 2019 . ^ "Biden plays Hyde and go seek, Warren rising in Iowa". Hacks on Tap . Retrieved December 13, 2019 . ^ "About". Hacks on Tap . Retrieved December 13, 2019 . ^ "Former Obama adviser Axelrod joining CNN as senior political commentator". CNN . Retrieved September 3, 2015 . ^ Vazquez, Maegan. "Axelrod, Steyer spar over Dems' impeachment calls". CNN . Retrieved November 17, 2019 . External links Edit AKPD MediaASGK Public StrategiesAppearances on C-SPANDavid Axelrod on Charlie Rose"David Axelrod collected news and commentary". The New York Times. Works by or about David Axelrod in libraries (WorldCat catalog)The Agony and The Agony, Patrick T. Reardon, Chicago Tribune, June 24, 2007Profile: David Axelrod, Ned Temko, The Guardian, July 27, 2008Long by Obama's Side, an Adviser Fills a Role That Exceeds His Title, Jeff Zeleny, The New York Times, October 26, 2008President's Political Protector Is Ever Close at Hand, Jeff Zeleny, The New York Times, March 8, 2009The Axe Files, Axelrod's podcast.
How Obama won his Senate seat
Wed, 19 Feb 2020 13:10
Mitt Romney presents one enormous problem for Barack Obama's campaign: No divorce records.
Mitt Romney presents one enormous problem for Barack Obama's campaign: No divorce records. That's why the media are so hot to get their hands on Romney's tax records for the past 25 years. They need something to ''pick through, distort and lie about'' '-- as the Republican candidate says.
Obama's usual campaign method, used in 100 percent of his races, has been to pry into the private records of his opponents.
Democrats aren't going to find any personal dirt on the clean-cut Mormon, so they need complicated tax filings going back decades in order to create the illusion of scandal out of boring financial records.
Romney has already released his 2010 tax return and is about to release his 2011 return. After all the huffing and puffing by the media demanding those returns, the follow-up story vanished remarkably quickly when the only thing the return showed was that Romney pays millions of dollars in taxes and gives a lot of money to charity.
Let's take a romp down memory lane and review the typical Obama campaign strategy. Obama became a U.S. senator only by virtue of David Axelrod's former employer, the Chicago Tribune, ripping open the sealed divorce records of Obama's two principal opponents.
One month before the 2004 Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate, Obama was down in the polls, about to lose to Blair Hull, a multimillionaire securities trader. But then the Chicago Tribune leaked the claim that Hull's second ex-wife, Brenda Sexton, had sought an order of protection against him during their 1998 divorce proceedings.
Those records were under seal, but as The New York Times noted: ''The Tribune reporter who wrote the original piece later acknowledged in print that the Obama camp had 'worked aggressively behind the scenes' to push the story.'' Many people said Axelrod had ''an even more significant role '-- that he leaked the initial story.''
Both Hull and his ex-wife opposed releasing their sealed divorce records, but they finally relented in response to the media's hysteria '-- 18 days before the primary. Hull was forced to spend four minutes of a debate detailing the abuse allegation in his divorce papers, explaining that his ex-wife ''kicked me in the leg and I hit her shin to try to get her to not continue to kick me.''
After having held a substantial lead just a month before the primary, Hull's campaign collapsed with the chatter about his divorce. Obama sailed to the front of the pack and won the primary. Hull finished third with 10 percent of the vote.
As luck would have it, Obama's opponent in the general election had also been divorced! Jack Ryan was tall, handsome, Catholic '-- and shared a name with one of Harrison Ford's most popular onscreen characters! He went to Dartmouth, Harvard Law and Harvard Business School, made hundreds of millions of dollars as a partner at Goldman Sachs, and then, in his early 40s, left investment banking to teach at an inner city school on the South Side of Chicago.
Ryan would have walloped Obama in the Senate race. But at the request of '-- again '-- the Chicago Tribune, California Judge Robert Schnider unsealed the custody papers in Ryan's divorce five years earlier from Hollywood starlet Jeri Lynn Ryan, the bombshell Borg on ''Star Trek: Voyager.''
Jack Ryan had released his tax records. He had released his divorce records. But both he and his ex-wife sought to keep the custody records under seal to protect their son.
Amid the 400 pages of filings from the custody case, Jack Ryan claimed that his wife had had an affair, and she counterclaimed with the allegation that he had taken her to ''sex clubs'' in Paris, New York and New Orleans, which drove her to fall in love with another man.
(Republicans: If you plan a career in public office, please avoid marrying a wacko.)
Ryan had vehemently denied her allegations at the time, but it didn't matter. The sex club allegations aired on ''Entertainment Tonight,'' ''NBC Nightly News,'' ABC's ''Good Morning America,'' ''The Tonight Show With Jay Leno,'' and NBC's ''Today'' show. CNN covered the story like it was the first moon landing.
(Interestingly, international papers also were ablaze with the story '-- the same newspapers that were supposed to be so bored with American sexual mores during Bill Clinton's sex scandal.)
Four days after Judge Schnider unsealed the custody records, Ryan dropped out of the race for the horror of (allegedly) propositioning his own wife and then taking ''no'' for an answer.
Alan Keyes stepped in as a last-minute Republican candidate.
And that's how Obama became a U.S. senator. He destroyed both his Democratic primary opponent and his Republican general election opponent with salacious allegations about their personal lives taken from ''sealed'' court records.
Obama's team delved into Sarah Palin's marriage and spread rumors of John McCain's alleged affair in 2008 and they smeared Herman Cain in 2011 with hazy sexual harassment allegations all emanating from David Axelrod's pals in Chicago.
It's almost like a serial killer's signature. Unsealed personal records have been released to the press. Obama must be running for office!
So you can see what a pickle the Obama campaign is in having to run against a Dudley Do-Right, non-drinking, non-smoking, God-fearing, happily married Mormon.
They've got to get their hands on thousands of pages of Romney's tax filings so that the media can '-- as Romney says '-- lie about them. It will be interesting to see if Obama can pick the lock of the famously guarded IRS.
Roland Burris: Ex-Senator Who Briefly Filled Obama Seat Still Nursing Wounds
Wed, 19 Feb 2020 13:08
When Roland Burris is reached by phone at his Chicago law office earlier this week, he is proofreading copies of his memoir. He gives the working title'--''What is your reaction to that? Does it grab you?'''--but asks that it not be printed, since he hasn't copywritten it. His agent is still shopping the book around, and Burris is hoping for some kind of advance.
The thrust of the memoir is his journey from Centralia, Illinois, to his controversial appointment by Gov. Rod Blagojevich to the Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama'--the seat no one wanted after Blagojevich was caught by federal agents trying to sell it to the highest bidder.
Burris, an understated and often overlooked Illinois pol, had been lobbying for the seat hard after Obama was elected president and preparing to give it up, but when Burris accepted the governor's appointment, he became a national laughingstock, mocked for everything from the mausoleum he had built for himself for after his death to the names of his children (Roland II and Rolanda), even his penchant for referring to himself in the third person. The Senate initially refused to seat him, and federal investigators looked into whether he had tried to buy off Blagojevich.
And so the last part of Burris's memoir is devoted to clearing his name in the whole sordid affair and settling a few scores with those he blames most for his predicament'--mainly, as he says, ''your colleagues in the media.''
The memoir describes his ''mentality in terms of my having the audacity to take the appointment and then the media in their minds treated it as heresy and attacked me as if I had committed some kind of crime. You know: 'Burris lied to get seated, Burris changed his story, Burris tried to raise funds for the governor.' Those are the headlines in the Sun-Times and the Tribune.''
Repeatedly in two 30-minute phone conversations, Burris quotes the names, dates, authors, and headlines of stories he found to be unfair from his time in Washington. And, he notes, even though he was exonerated in Blagojevich's scheme, one would be hard-pressed to find any stories about that.
''It has become the norm in this media mentality, and it is ruining people's lives. Under our judicial system, you are innocent until proven guilty. Yet you are guilty until proven innocent in the press, and then when you are innocent, there is no reporting. So where do you go to get your reputation back? Is there as much ink about how 'Burris Hasn't Done Anything Wrong' as there was when 'Burris Changed His Story,' 'Burris Tried to Raise Funds for the Governor'?
In the years since he left the Senate, Burris has mostly kept a low profile, running his law practice and occasionally appearing at political events in Chicago's black community. He recently started teaching a class called the Roland Burris School of Politics, in which he teaches aspiring pols how to win elections and how the American political system works. The class meets in the evenings for three days at a time, and costs 50 bucks a session. A Chicago Tribune columnist sent an undercover reporter to attend and wrote a mocking write-up, which Burris quoted freely, presumably from memory, on the phone.
He isn't as toxic in Illinois as he is elsewhere. Back home, he is still remembered as the first statewide black elected official, and in a state where four of the last seven governors have gone to prison, accepting a tainted Senate appointment is a relatively minor infraction.
''This is Chicago, and this is Illinois,'' said political consultant Thom Serafin. ''This kind of thing goes on here all the time.''
And so the former attorney general continues what he, with characteristic grandiosity, calls ''my crusade'''--holding a runaway news media to account.
''The media has to change its ways. Even when I was in the Senate, I went after The New York Times, others. I said, 'Who polices you?' They said, 'Well, we police ourselves.' And what do I have to fight back with?
''They don't do any background work anymore. It's all 'gotcha!' It's about trying to sell newspapers, and make news, and they are ruining people's lives with this instant reporting of information. And you've got all these blogs and other social media, and you can say anything about anybody, and the professional media take that and use that. I mean, this has gotten out of hand. And the only profession that is not checked is you all. Every profession has to have a clearance where you go before a board. Lawyers can get sued for malpractice. Doctors! There is nothing in the media under this First Amendment issue called freedom of the press that has just been abused by individuals, because they try to create news rather than reporting news and try to outdo the other in competition to try to stay alive and sell themselves. And there has never been a major story about how Roland Burris hasn't done anything.''
Burris has warm words for a few of the people he served with in the Senate during his less-than-two-year appointment. Orrin Hatch had a good sense of humor, and Harry Reid ''took care of me,'' even though the Senate majority leader once called the appointment ''unacceptable.''
Burris recalls that there were a few Democrats who called on him to resign when it was revealed that he too was caught on wiretaps talking to the governor's brother about getting the appointment. He was saved, he said, ''by some of my black colleagues who had to jump on all of those white Democrats who called for my resignation. The black Democrats had to call and say back off'--Burris hasn't done anything.''
He still has at his home the two golden gavels he received for spending more than 200 hours presiding over the Senate, a yeoman's job given to freshman lawmakers, and the Senate chair that his staff bought him as a gift. He still has warm thoughts toward Blagojevich, whom he acknowledges would never have appointed Burris to the seat if he weren't going to jail.
''The governor just talked too much. That was his problem. He was not very professional in the way he communicated.''
There were some drawbacks to being one of the 100 most powerful people in the country, Burris acknowledged. The commute, for one (not like in Illinois, he noted, when he got to fly to Springfield on state aircraft) and the fact that ''there was no per diem. Financially, it was not very rewarding for me at all. You are on your own for expenses. And getting out of O'Hare on commercial airlines.''
Still, he adds, ''if there is another vacancy, I would love to go there for a short time again. If something happens to one of our senators, and the governor wants to appoint me, I would love to go back.''
Rod Blagojevich scandal and Trump's commutation of his sentence, explained - Vox
Wed, 19 Feb 2020 11:35
President Donald Trump commuted the remainder of the sentence of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) on corruption charges, he announced Tuesday '-- meaning Blagojevich, who has been in prison for nearly eight years, will be freed.
Blagojevich was convicted of fraud and conspiracy charges related to his attempts to essentially sell the Senate seat Barack Obama left open when he won the presidential election in 2008. Blagojevich was also convicted of trying to extort a children's hospital CEO and a racetrack executive for campaign contributions in exchange for policy changes, and of making false statements to the FBI.
It may seem odd that Trump helped out a corrupt Democrat. But Blagojevich had one major thing going for him: After his ouster from the governorship but before his trials, he appeared as a contestant on the Trump-hosted reality show The Celebrity Apprentice.
Since then, Trump has mused several times that Blagojevich got too harsh a sentence, often giving flat-out false descriptions of the case and the evidence against him. For instance, Trump said last August that Blagojevich has ''been in jail for seven years over a phone call where nothing happens '-- over a phone call which he shouldn't have said what he said, but it was braggadocio you would say.''
This is not at all what happened. Prosecutors laid out wiretap evidence and witness testimony that, in many conversations spanning over a month, Blagojevich had schemed about what he could get in return for naming particular people to the Senate seat.
Among the possibilities he dangled were financial benefits for himself and his family '-- highly paid nonprofit gigs that he imagined Obama could arrange for him, or corporate board seats for his wife. Plus, he was convicted of other corruption offenses having nothing to do with the Senate seat. (You will note that Trump reprised that same basic ''it was just one phone call'' argument in his own defense, also misleadingly, during impeachment proceedings.)
But Trump has enjoyed using his pardon (and in this case, commutation) power to forgive somewhat notorious, politically controversial individuals: former Maricopa County, Arizona, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, conservative writer and documentarian Dinesh D'Souza, and former Bush White House aide Scooter Libby. And indeed, alongside the commutation for Blagojevich, Trump announced he was granting clemency to former New York City Police Commissioner Bernie Kerik and ''junk bond king'' Michael Milken.
And these latest moves are playing out amid controversy over the impending sentencings for Trump allies Michael Flynn and Roger Stone. So they could well serve another purpose '-- further normalizing the granting of pardons and commutations to Trump's friends, so Trump can eventually reward his associates who have run afoul of the law but remained ''loyal'' to him.
Because if you give clemency to the corrupt Democratic governor who tried to sell Obama's Senate seat, who won't you give clemency to?
What was the Rod Blagojevich scandal?After Blagojevich served as a Chicago-based prosecutor, state legislator, and Congress member, his political career peaked when he was elected governor of Illinois in 2002 and then won a second term in 2006. But he was quickly overshadowed by another Democratic rising star from his state, Barack Obama, who won a Senate seat in 2004 and then the presidency in 2008.
That latter win meant that Obama would have to resign his Senate seat '-- and that Gov. Blagojevich would get to appoint his replacement. Media reports claimed that Obama wanted his adviser Valerie Jarrett to get the spot.
But Blagojevich had other ideas. The Senate seat, he told an adviser, ''is a fucking valuable thing, you just don't give it away for nothing.'' In another conversation, he elaborated: ''I've got this thing and it's fucking golden and, uh, uh, I'm just not giving it up for fuckin' nothing.'' He also complained that his consultants were telling him to ''suck it up'' and give this ''motherfucker'' '-- Obama '-- ''his senator.'' He added: ''For nothing? Fuck him.'' (All of these conversations were wiretapped by the FBI.)
So what did Blagojevich want in return for naming Jarrett to the seat? He mused about several ideas:
A presidential appointment for him, preferably health and human services secretaryObama could get him named the head of a private foundation (though it had to be for a large salary)Obama could get ''Warren Buffett types'' to give millions in funding to a new nonprofit that Blagojevich would then run (with a substantial salary)Paid corporate board positions for his wifeBlagojevich had his advisers get in touch with Obama's to try to convey this information to them. But he didn't hear back anything encouraging. He then turned to supporters of then-Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., who wanted Jackson to get the Senate seat '-- asking them for $1.5 million in ''fundraising'' in exchange for the appointment (and since Blagojevich had already decided not to run for a third term, prosecutors argued he wanted the money for his personal use). He even mused about naming himself to fill the vacancy.
But on December 5, the scheme came to a halt when the Chicago Tribune reported that Blagojevich had been recorded as part of a criminal investigation. Blagojevich was arrested days later and charged with various offenses related to trying to sell the Senate seat as well as other alleged incidents of corruption (it turns out this incident was representative of how Blagojevich tended to do business generally).
The news caused a national sensation '-- in part because of the scandal was close to the newly elected president and in part because those Blagojevich wiretap quotes above were so over the top. Blagojevich refused calls from Obama and others for his resignation and named former Illinois Attorney General Roland Burris to the Senate vacancy. But shortly afterward, in January 2009, the state legislature impeached Blagojevich and removed him from office.
Then Blagojevich went on The Celebrity ApprenticeLater that year, while awaiting trial, the former governor made what could prove to be one of the most important decisions of his life: He became a contestant on Donald Trump's reality TV show, The Celebrity Apprentice.
Blagojevich made it four weeks but stumbled in a challenge to design a Harry Potter 3D experience for Universal Studios. His team's display called the famed school for witchcraft and wizardry ''Hogwards'' rather than ''Hogwarts'' and referred to ''classes'' rather than ''houses.''
''Your Harry Potter facts were not accurate!'' Trump thundered. ''Who did the research?''
''I wrote a lot of the text,'' Blagojevich admitted. ''I was the one who said 'houses' and 'classes' interchangeably, because I was trying to be more explicit, so people can get a concept of it. But it's Slithering (sic) and it's Hufflepuff and it's Ravencloth (sic)...'' Anyway, he was fired, but the point is he got to spend some quality time with the future president.
What Blagojevich ended up convicted forIn 2010, Blagojevich had what turned out to be his first trial. There, he was convicted on one count of making false statements to the FBI (he had told them he didn't keep track of who gave him campaign donations), but the jury couldn't reach a verdict on 23 other counts. (A juror told the New York Times that some jurors concluded Blagojevich had just been ''doing a lot of talking.'')
But the deadlocked jury meant prosecutors had the opportunity to try Blagojevich again. They did so in 2011 '-- and this time, they got their man. Blagojevich was convicted on 17 counts. Most of these were wire fraud and conspiracy charges related to Obama's Senate seat. But let's not forget the other corruption incidents he was convicted of:
The hospital shakedown: After lobbyists for Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago asked Blagojevich to increase the reimbursement rate for Medicaid payments, Blagojevich communicated to them that he'd do so in exchange for a ''campaign contribution'' of $50,000.The racetrack executive shakedown: After the Illinois legislature passed an extension for a program designed to help out racetracks by taxing casinos, Blagojevich delayed signing it to try to get $100,000 in ''campaign'' contributions from a racetrack executive. He communicated that he wouldn't sign the bill before he got the donations.Eventually, Blagojevich got five of these counts thrown out on appeal, due to a technicality related to jury instructions. An appellate panel concluded that it would not, in fact, have been illegal for Blagojevich to try to trade the Senate appointment for a Cabinet appointment for himself, since both are ''public acts.'' Now, Blagojevich had also sought various financial and private benefits (the nonprofits posts for him and board seats for his wife), and the appellate judges agreed there was ''sufficient'' evidence to convict him for that reason. But the jury had been told that they could convict him even if only the Cabinet allegation was proven.
This was hardly a resounding vindication for Blagojevich, since the judges also called the ''evidence'' of his guilt ''overwhelming,'' pointing out that much of it was ''from Blagojevich's own mouth.'' And in the end, it didn't change his sentence, which turned out to be a hefty 14 years.
This is the latest in Trump's series of political pardons or commutationsOrdinarily, Blagojevich would have little hope of a pardon or commutation '-- his offense seems absurdly corrupt, and what president would want to be seen as waving away his crimes?
But then he got extraordinarily lucky when his old reality TV host Donald Trump became president. Trump doesn't seem particularly disturbed by corruption, when it's practiced by his friends or allies, at least. And, even more importantly, Trump seems to have discovered that ... he kind of likes pardoning people. There have been three main precursors to the kind of commuted sentence Blagojevich would represent.
1) Joe Arpaio: The former sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, Arpaio was a favorite of the anti-immigrant right for ''cracking down'' on unauthorized immigrants (as well as for stunts like making his inmates wear pink underwear). But the Justice Department (under President Obama) found he had been rampantly racially profiling Latinos, so the courts tried to get him to rein in his practices. He refused and was charged with criminal contempt of court, lost reelection, and was convicted.
But in August 2017, before Arpaio was even sentenced, Trump pardoned him, in the first pardon of his presidency. The Arpaio pardon served Trump's policy aims because he was trying to encourage officials to ''get tough'' on unauthorized immigrants across the country. Trump was also rewarding a political ally who had endorsed him early in his campaign. And he spun it as mercy '-- as helping a then-85-year-old man avoid prison.
2) Scooter Libby: Trump's next big political pardon was for I. Lewis ''Scooter'' Libby, who was a top aide to Vice President Dick Cheney during George W. Bush's administration. Libby had become embroiled in the investigation over the leak of CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity and was convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice for lying about his contacts with journalists over the matter. President Bush commuted Libby's 30-month prison sentence in 2007, so he never served any time. But Bush notably refused to grant him a full pardon, despite frequent appeals from Cheney.
Trump then decided to grant Libby that full pardon in April 2018. Though Libby had many friends in the conservative movement who long pushed for the move, the pardon was mainly symbolic, since his sentence was already commuted. But many speculated about just what symbolism Trump intended, in the midst of the Mueller investigation. Was he sending a message that aides who remained loyal to him would also be rewarded '-- even if they lied to the FBI?
3) Dinesh D'Souza: Next came Trump's pardon for D'Souza, the longtime (and controversial) conservative author and commentator. In 2012, D'Souza had told two people to donate $10,000 each to an old friend's Senate campaign and promised to pay them back the money himself. This, however, was illegal, and D'Souza eventually pleaded guilty to violating campaign finance law for it.
But D'Souza argued he only pleaded guilty to avert more serious charges and portrayed himself as targeted by Obama's supposedly corrupt Justice Department for political reasons. That is the exact narrative Trump wanted to promote '-- and so he pardoned D'Souza in May 2018.
The Blagojevich commutation happened after a delay '-- and as all eyes are turning toward Roger Stone and Michael FlynnJust after the D'Souza pardon nearly two years ago, Trump told reporters that ''there's another one I'm thinking about, Rod Blagojevich.''
Indeed, Blagojevich's supporters (most notably his wife Patti) have fashioned several arguments designed to appeal to Trump personally in a campaign that has included a formal clemency petition as well as appeals during Fox News appearances.
The most accurate point Trump has made is simply that Blagojevich has been in prison for a long time. He has: nearly eight years. However, Trump also claimed he got an 18-year sentence, which is wrong; it was 14 years.
Most notably, Blagojevich's supporters have argued that Blagojevich was a victim of a corrupt and political FBI ''deep state,'' exaggerating ordinary political behavior into crimes '-- with the implication being that he's just like Trump.
This argument seems to have resonated with Trump '-- he said last August that Blagojevich had been ''treated unbelievably unfairly'' by ''the Comey gang.''
Now, former FBI Director James Comey was not even in the federal government for the time spanning Blagojevich's 2008 arrest to his 2011 conviction. (The FBI director at the time was Robert Mueller.) But Trump is probably referring to Patrick Fitzgerald, the Northern Illinois US attorney who prosecuted Blagojevich as well as Scooter Libby. Fitzgerald is a close friend of Comey's, and now that he's back in private practice, he's Comey's lawyer.
Trump also has been repeating a false description of the Blagojevich case, claiming he was only charged for what he said on one phone call that could have been just talk. In fact, the charges related to a month's worth of discussions and three separate corruption-related incidents. It is true that no money ended up changing hands, but that certainly wasn't for lack of trying on Blagojevich's part.
Trump brought up commuting Blagojevich's sentence unprompted multiple times over the past two years, making clear he wanted to do it. But each time he did so, he faced pushback, as Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun-Times reported. Republican members of Congress in Illinois were understandably appalled by the idea, and even most White House staff seemed to think it was a bad look. So, for a while, Trump was hesitant to go through with it.
But it seems obvious why the idea was so consistently tempting. Trump wants to normalize corrupt behavior from himself and his allies, he wants to set precedents that pardoning corrupt friends of the president is okay, and he wants to further cement the narrative that any FBI corruption investigations that touch on his allies are ''deep state'' frame-ups.
That's particularly relevant to three of his close allies who faced charges in the Mueller investigation: Paul Manafort, Michael Flynn, and Roger Stone.
About a year ago, Manafort was sentenced to a combined seven-and-a-half years for tax fraud, bank fraud, conspiracy, and witness tampering. But so far, Trump has done nothing to ameliorate his former campaign chair's sentence '-- he remains behind bars, where he has been for nearly two years now (he was jailed before his trials for violating his conditions of release).
Then there was former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his conversations with the Russian ambassador. Flynn agreed to cooperate with the government, but eventually reneged on the deal and is now seeking to have his guilty plea thrown out. His sentencing was originally scheduled for this month but it has been delayed.
Finally, there's longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone, who was convicted for obstruction, false statements, and witness tampering. Stone is due to be sentenced this Thursday, and Attorney General Bill Barr controversially intervened to water down prosecutors' sentencing recommendation for him (spurring all four prosecutors to quit the case).
So if Trump gives Blagojevich clemency and the political system yawns (or briefly protests and then moves on to the next thing), it could be less of a stretch for him to pardon Manafort, Flynn, or Stone later.
And there's one other likely reason the idea appeals to him so much. He probably looks at Rod Blagojevich '-- wiretapped by the FBI discussing all sorts of corrupt ideas and then convicted and sent to prison '-- and thinks, There but for the grace of God go I.
Criminal Defense: I Think Blagojevich May Be Getting Screwed, Somewhat
Wed, 19 Feb 2020 11:28
Never want to kick a man when he's down, but there is something hysterical about a politician calling a press conference to announce that the system under which he is being prosecuted is unfair.Now Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich is not complaining about the criminal justice system (yet), he's complaining, loudly, about the administrative rules governing his impeachment. He wants the legislature to change the procedural rules so that he can call as witnesses everyone except Jesus, Moses, and Britney Spears (I think). He is doing the classic "I'm going to drag everyone who ever spoke to me into this and embarrass as many people as I can until either the system apologizes to me or I have a nervous breakdown."So I read the rules.Blago says he can't challenge the evidence.Rule 8(b) The House Prosecutor or the Governor or his counsel may object to the admission or exclusion of evidence. Any objection must be addressed to the Chief Justice. No objection, however, may be made against all or any part of the House impeachment record filed by the House Prosecutor with the Secretary.Now I don't know if he's right about this, because I don't understand what this rule means. Who wrote these?Blago also says he can't subpoena the witnesses he wants to appear. I think he's right. Look at this crap:Rule 15(f) "It is never in order to request a subpoena for the testimony of any person or for the production of documents or other materials from that person if the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois has indicated that the person's testimony, or inquiry into the subject matter of that person's testimony, could compromise the U.S. Attorney's criminal investigation of Rod R. Blagojevich, as exemplified by, but not limited to, exhibits 10, 24, and 30 of the House impeachment record, unless the U.S. Attorney subsequently indicates otherwise.So the U.S. Attorney has to bless Blago's right to call a witness? No question that requires the impeachment be stayed pending the outcome of the criminal trial. What fascinates me is that these rules were drafted specifically for the Blago impeachment trial. Read them. These are not rules of procedure for impeachment, these are rules governing the impeachment of Blago.The problem is that Blago has no friends, and now, no lawyers. His criminal lawyer resigned because he can't control Blago and his big mouth.Blago's biggest problem? His message gets lost in the messenger.Brian Tannebaum is a criminal defense lawyer in Miami, Florida practicing in state and federal court. Read his free ebook The Truth About Hiring A Criminal Defense Lawyer. To learn more about Brian and his firm, Tannebaum Weiss, please visit www.tannebaumweiss.coma2a_linkname="criminal defense";a2a_linkurl="http://www.criminaldefenseblog.blogspot.com"; Post to Twitter
'This f--king Obama' -- Rod Blagojevich's resentment, on tape
Wed, 19 Feb 2020 11:26
| June 01, 2017 02:58 PM
In this March 15, 2012 file photo, former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich waves as he departs his Chicago home for Littleton, Colo., to begin his 14-year prison sentence on corruption charges. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, File) Charles Rex Arbogast
R emember Rod Blagojevich '-- the former Democratic governor of Illinois, now a federal prisoner on corruption charges and a musician behind bars? He's in the news again today after the Chicago Tribune unearthed a recording of wiretapped conversations between him and J.B. Pritzker, a businessman and one of the current Democratic candidates for governor.
Among the topics in the conversations, which occurred in late 2008: Blagojevich's deep resentment for Democratic Sen. Barack Obama, who had just been elected president. Blagojevich felt Obama had attached his name to measures in Illinois that Blagojevich wanted more credit for.
"This fucking Obama ran on my record, okay?" Blagojevich says in one of the conversations. "He said he brought healthcare to kids. You know what I'm saying? He voted for it [as a state senator]. You know, he's talking about a capital bill and spending on healthcare for working families."
Pritzker had initiated the discussions with Blagojevich to talk about the possibility that state Treasurer Alexei Giannoulias might be appointed to a post in the impending Obama administration. It never did end up happening (Giannoulias would later run for Senate in 2010 and lose), but if it had, Pritzker was interested in being appointed to replace him as treasurer. Blagojevich reacted favorably to the idea, calling it "interesting." Pritzker said he did not really want to be appointed to Obama's soon-to-be-vacant Senate seat, but that it "makes political sense for both of us" to make him treasurer.
Pritzker also suggested in one conversation that perhaps Blagojevich should appoint Valerie Jarrett to Obama's Senate seat, but only if he thought he'd get a presidential appointment for it '-- an unlikely scenario, given the federal investigation that was already consuming Blagojevich and making headlines at that point. Blagojevich's downfall ultimately came from his desire to trade the vacant Senate seat for something valuable to himself.
In one of the recorded conversations excerpted by the Tribune, Pritzker expressed concern that his political contributions to Blagojevich might become an issue if Blagojevich were to appoint him. The governor was not worried at all.
"Total non-issue," said Blagojevich, who deftly segued into a request for political contributions. "First of all, you give money to everyone, like [Attorney General] Lisa Madigan, okay?" he said. "Which, incidentally, if you can do for me what you did for her before the end of the year, can you think about that?"
Pritzker said he couldn't do it while potential appointments were pending, but added, "but I hear you."
Blagojevich went on to suggest that Pritzker could also raise money from him among his connections in the business community. "If we go in that direction, though, if that does happen, I mean, there's some other people that can help us that you know. If you feel skittish about that, which I believe you shouldn't ..."
"Yeah, I don't think we should even talk about that, but I understand what you're saying," Pritzker said.
Blagojevich was also pretty confident that the corruption case against him would not amount to anything. "It'll just fade away," he said. In fact, he would be impeached by a unanimous vote of the state legislature in less than two months' time, and sentenced to 13 years in prison in December 2011.
The recording contains a few other fun nuggets. At one point, in discussing the potential benefits of appointing Pritzker as treasurer, Blagojevich mentioned that he could play up the candidate's connection to the banking industry. Pritzker discouraged this, because Superior Bank had failed under the stewardship of his sister, Penny.
"She was chairman of the bank," Pritzker explained in mentioning its collapse. "It had subprime loans. I mean, bad stuff."
Penny Pritzker was subsequently appointed Secretary of Commerce by President Obama.
"Superior Bank turned out to be an inferior bank," Blagojevich quipped.
Green New Deal
Climate Change Peak Humans
Do you think there's too many people on earth?
Do you believe Climate change is man made?
Do nothing -> Problem will solve itself!
Baltimore County hasn't recycled glass in 7 years, officials confirm - Baltimore Sun
Wed, 19 Feb 2020 23:02
Baltimore County officials revealed this week that the county has not recycled glass materials for about seven years, though they are strongly urging residents to continue placing the items in their recycling bins.
The revelation was first circulated Friday on the Facebook page The Towson Flyer, shocking some residents who demanded answers about why the county has continued to collect glass for recycling. Glass bottles and jars of all colors were listed as acceptable materials on the county website's recycling collection page Saturday morning.
Steve Lafferty, county sustainability officer, said it's true the county has not recycled the material since 2013, the year it also opened a $23 million single-stream recycling facility in Cockeysville. Lafferty was hired to the newly created sustainability position in September 2019.
This problem of recyclable glass being thrown out was ''inherited'' from a previous administration, according to Sean Naron, spokesman for County Executive Johnny Olszewski.
Over the years, the county's Department of Public Works encountered technical and financial limitations that meant it could no longer recycle glass at county municipal facilities.
''There are numerous issues with glass recycling, including increased presence of shredded paper in recycling streams which contaminates materials and is difficult to separate from broken glass fragments, in addition to other limitations on providing quality material," Naron said in a statement.
''It has become harder and harder to find a market" for glass recycling, Lafferty said.
The county is in preliminary discussions with an independent vendor about recycling glass materials, Naron said.
In the meantime, county officials have been reluctant to tell residents not to recycle their glass for fear of derailing a good habit.
''It's unfortunate that we can't tell people we have a better solution right now,'' Lafferty said. ''We know it's an important issue.''
Glass items considered not acceptable for recycling include drinking glasses, windows, light bulbs, mirrors and crystal, the county website states.
How many curbside recycling programs have been cut? | Waste Dive
Wed, 19 Feb 2020 23:01
The past few years have brought sweeping changes to U.S. recycling programs, with the fallout from international policy decisions and a fluctuating market still ongoing.
That reality has fed a narrative that recycling is in peril. Multiple municipalities have limited their curbside programs and some local officials have argued anywhere between hundreds to thousands of communities have opted to ditch recycling. But data shows the situation may be more complicated '-- and nuanced '-- than coverage has indicated.
While more than 70 municipalities have canceled their curbside programs (read full list below) some have resumed them following public outcry and new solutions. And while recycling is undoubtedly changing in all 50 states and territories, some industry figures argue the shifts are growing pains that will eventually help the sector in the long term.
Inflated numbersIn 2017, Waste Dive began tracking the aftermath of China's scrap import policies and their effects on local communities. We contacted every state environmental agency at least twice to gauge impacts (most recently in summer 2019) and closely monitored local news reports on program changes and price increases. Additionally, we noted expanded education efforts, new contract structures and other solutions.
As of publication, we found around 60 municipalities had completely suspended or canceled their curbside programs. That number is well below some of the statistics local officials have cited. When officials in Mississippi's largest city, Jackson, announced a halt to curbside recycling in August, they asserted the city was "one of more than 300 cities" forced to suspend their services.
Local officials in another area went even farther. When Douglas, Wyoming informed residents the city would be suspending recycling services due to economic factors, City Administrator Jonathan Teichert pointed to a staggering statistic.
"It's a nationwide problem. There's been over 3,000 municipalities that have had to suspend '-- and many of them are larger cities," Teichert said, according to local media reports. He did not clarify if that number included drop-off services along with curbside.
Neither Teichert nor Jackson Public Works Director Robert Miller responded to requests for comment from Waste Dive seeking a source for their numbers. But Waste Dive's findings track with those of The Recycling Partnership, one of the only organizations regularly documenting curbside cancellations. T he Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA)'‹ concurred '' estimating the total is in the 50 to 60 range '' as did the the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries.
Potential solutions SWANA and other groups, including the National Waste and Recycling Association, say they have struggled with misinformation about the challenges facing recycling, including inflated cancellation numbers. But alarm over recycling has also generated an outpouring of interest at the federal level, with backing from the industry, that could lead to policy changes in the future.
In the meantime, some communities have already backtracked on their decisions to cancel curbside programs. Deerfield Beach in Florida restarted service with a new processing fee last year, for example, while Oregon's Hood River County resumed recycling in many areas this summer after raising rates and cutting mixed plastics. Other situations are more complex. In Maine, several communities canceled while they await the opening of a Fiberight facility, which allows for commingling of recyclables and waste.
That doesn't mean recycling isn't in flux. Major metropolitan areas such as Phoenix, Arizona are still considering potential service cuts and rate hikes. But the situation is an intricate one that is prompting innovation and forward-looking action plans, even as municipalities face very real struggles concerning cost and feasibility.
Waste Dive will continue to update this list of curbside program cancellation, suspensions and restorations in the months ahead. This does not include drop-off programs or partial cuts.
If you know of any necessary updates to this list, please contact us at [email protected]
Local Government State Resumed? Enterprise Alabama N Sierra Vista Arizona N Surprise Arizona N Casa Grande Arizona N Thatcher Arizona N Safford Arizona N Globe Arizona N Page Arizona N Akron Colorado N Deerfield Beach Florida Y Deltona Florida N Sunrise Florida N Okaloosa County Florida Y Santa Rosa County Florida In progress Clarkston Georgia N Tybee Island Georgia N Grinnell Iowa N Olney Illinois N Posen Illinois N El Dorado Kansas N Madison County Kentucky N Warren County Kentucky N Winchester Kentucky N Tompkinsville Kentucky N Plymouth Massachusetts Y (Subscription only) Gouldsboro Maine N Dedham Maine Y (Fiberight) Holden Maine Y (Fiberight) Eddington Maine Y (Fiberight) Bradley Maine Y (Fiberight) Orrington Maine Y (Fiberight) Presque Isle Maine Y Kennebunkport Maine N Winter Harbor Maine N Westland Michigan N Frenchtown Township Michigan N Perryville Missouri N Trenton Missouri N Scott City Missouri N Wardsville Missouri N Taos Missouri N St. Martins Missouri N Russellville Missouri N Warrenton Missouri N Hooksett New Hampshire N Franklin New Hampshire N Bow New Hampshire Y Newfields New Hampshire N Jackson Mississippi N Bosque Farms New Mexico N Silver City New Mexico N Fort Edward New York N Craven County North Carolina Y Lincolnton North Carolina Y Pinebluff North Carolina Y China Grove North Carolina N Trinity North Carolina N Shelby North Carolina N Oregon Ohio N Milton-Freewater Oregon N Youngsville Pennsylvania N Pine Ridge South Carolina N Harris County Municipal Utility District 119 Texas N Beaumont Texas N Abingdon Virginia N Broadway Virginia N Elkton Virginia N Dayton Virginia N Harrisonburg Virginia N Timberville Virginia N Mount Crawford Virginia N College Place Washington N
Wuhan Flu
China stealing TP JCD Mom
Millennial fears
Adam and Jon,
If you read this on the show, please refer to me as
PharmBoy. On Sundays show you were discussing how millennials are being more
susceptible to the media about the virus. As a pharmacist I am on the forefront
of this. I have given more flu shots these past few weeks to younger customers
than all of flu season. Even children. Surgical masks are on shortage, or back
order right now. Elderberry is flying off the shelves. I’m selling more tamiflu
than I have all season. All of this is happening late in the season. We stopped
pushing flu shots at the end of of the year. People have stated they are
wanting the shot for the virus, even when I tell them that it won’t protect
them from the virus. Anyway. I just thought I’d give y’all an update on the
Kung Flu here in the states and how the media is effecting the sheeple.
Current douchebag, will change hopefully soon! Soon to be
Sir PharmBoy, Dark Knight of the 2 foot ledge.
Tokyo Marathon organisers limit event to elite athletes over coronavirus | CGTN Africa
Thu, 20 Feb 2020 06:02
TOKYO, JAPAN - MARCH 03 : Runners are seen in front of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government as they compete during the Tokyo Marathon 2019 in Tokyo, Japan on March 3, 2019. (Photo by David MAREUIL/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images) FILE PHOTO: Runners are seen in front of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government as they compete during the Tokyo Marathon 2019 in Tokyo, Japan on March 3, 2019. (Photo by David MAREUIL/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)Organisers of the Tokyo Marathon on Monday announced that the race scheduled to be held on March 1 will be open only to elite athletes following the confirmation of cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in Japan last week.
An elderly woman in Kanagawa is the only person to have been killed by the virus in Japan so far.
''We have been preparing for the Tokyo Marathon 2020 (Sunday, March 1) while implementing preventive safety measures, however, now that case of COVID-19 has been confirmed within Tokyo, we cannot continue to launch the event within the scale we originally anticipated and we regret to inform you the following: The Tokyo Marathon 2020 will be held only for the marathon elites and the wheelchair elites,'' the statement read in part.
More than 38,000 people, mostly non-professional athletes, were expected to take part in the race but now it is estimated that just over 200 elite athletes and wheelchair athletes will be able to compete in the event.
Organisers said that people who had registered to run would be allowed to defer their entry until 2021. However, it added that the runners will have to pay again and will not get their money back from this year's race.
Runners from China, who had registered to race, were informed that they could defer their entry until 2021 without any penalty.
The news raises fresh doubts over the Olympic Games, set for July 24, going ahead in Japan. Last week, the head of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) inspection team John Coates said that there was no case for any contingency plans or cancelling the Games or moving the Games.
The Tokyo Marathon, one of the biggest races in the world, is the latest sporting event to be affected by the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. The Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai, the World Indoor Championships in Nanjing and the Hong Kong and Singapore Sevens have all been postponed.
Prada says puts off fashion show in Japan due to coronavirus
Tue, 18 Feb 2020 09:59
A man wearing a protective face mask walks on a street, as the country is hit by an outbreak of the novel coronavirus, in Beijing's central business district, China February 18, 2020. REUTERS/Tingshu Wang
MILAN (Reuters) - Italian fashion house Prada has put off a show in Japan in May due to the coronavirus outbreak in China, it said on Tuesday.
''Due to the current uncertainty related to the spread of the novel coronavirus, the Prada Resort fashion show originally scheduled for May 21 in Japan will be postponed,'' the company said in an emailed statement.
It added the decision had been taken as a precautionary measure as well as ''an act of responsibility and respect'' for all those working on and planning to attend the show.
''Japan remains one of Prada's strategic markets and relevant events will be scheduled in the country at a more appropriate moment,'' it said.
Reporting by Silvia Aloisi; Editing by Alex Richardson
China Is the Real Sick Man of Asia - WSJ
Thu, 20 Feb 2020 06:00
The mighty Chinese juggernaut has been humbled this week, apparently by a species-hopping bat virus. While Chinese authorities struggle to control the epidemic and restart their economy, a world that has grown accustomed to contemplating China's inexorable rise was reminded that nothing, not even Beijing's power, can be taken for granted.
We do not know how dangerous the new coronavirus will be. There are signs that Chinese authorities are still trying to conceal the true scale of the problem, but at this point the virus appears to be more contagious but considerably less deadly than the pathogens behind diseases such as Ebola or SARS'--though some experts say SARS and coronavirus are about equally contagious.
China's initial response to the crisis was less than impressive. The Wuhan government was secretive and self-serving; national authorities responded vigorously but, it currently appears, ineffectively. China's cities and factories are shutting down; the virus continues to spread. We can hope that authorities succeed in containing the epidemic and treating its victims, but the performance to date has shaken confidence in the Chinese Communist Party at home and abroad. Complaints in Beijing about the U.S. refusing entry to noncitizens who recently spent time in China cannot hide the reality that the decisions that allowed the epidemic to spread as far and as fast as it did were all made in Wuhan and Beijing.
The likeliest economic consequence of the coronavirus epidemic, forecasters expect, will be a short and sharp fall in Chinese economic growth rates during the first quarter, recovering as the disease fades. The most important longer-term outcome would appear to be a strengthening of a trend for global companies to ''de-Sinicize'' their supply chains. Add the continuing public health worries to the threat of new trade wars, and supply-chain diversification begins to look prudent.
Events like the coronavirus epidemic, and its predecessors'--such as SARS, Ebola and MERS'--test our systems and force us to think about the unthinkable. If there were a disease as deadly as Ebola and as fast-spreading as coronavirus, how should the U.S. respond? What national and international systems need to be in place to minimize the chance of catastrophe on this scale?
Epidemics also lead us to think about geopolitical and economic hypotheticals. We have seen financial markets shudder and commodity prices fall in the face of what hopefully will be a short-lived disturbance in China's economic growth. What would happen if'--perhaps in response to an epidemic, but more likely following a massive financial collapse'--China's economy were to suffer a long period of even slower growth? What would be the impact of such developments on China's political stability, on its attitude toward the rest of the world, and to the global balance of power?
China's financial markets are probably more dangerous in the long run than China's wildlife markets. Given the accumulated costs of decades of state-driven lending, massive malfeasance by local officials in cahoots with local banks, a towering property bubble, and vast industrial overcapacity, China is as ripe as a country can be for a massive economic correction. Even a small initial shock could lead to a massive bonfire of the vanities as all the false values, inflated expectations and misallocated assets implode. If that comes, it is far from clear that China's regulators and decision makers have the technical skills or the political authority to minimize the damage'--especially since that would involve enormous losses to the wealth of the politically connected.
We cannot know when or even if a catastrophe of this scale will take place, but students of geopolitics and international affairs'--not to mention business leaders and investors'--need to bear in mind that China's power, impressive as it is, remains brittle. A deadlier virus or a financial-market contagion could transform China's economic and political outlook at any time.
Many now fear the coronavirus will become a global pandemic. The consequences of a Chinese economic meltdown would travel with the same sweeping inexorability. Commodity prices around the world would slump, supply chains would break down, and few financial institutions anywhere could escape the knock-on consequences. Recovery in China and elsewhere could be slow, and the social and political effects could be dramatic.
If Beijing's geopolitical footprint shrank as a result, the global consequences might also be surprising. Some would expect a return of unipolarity if the only possible great-power rival to the U.S. were to withdraw from the game. Yet in the world of American politics, isolation rather than engagement might surge to the fore. If the China challenge fades, many Americans are likely to assume that the U.S. can safely reduce its global commitments.
So far, the 21st century has been an age of black swans. From 9/11 to President Trump's election and Brexit, low-probability, high-impact events have reshaped the world order. That age isn't over, and of the black swans still to arrive, the coronavirus epidemic is unlikely to be the last to materialize in China.
China Expels 3 Wall Street Journal Reporters as Media Relations Sour - The New York Times
Thu, 20 Feb 2020 05:58
Beijing said it had revoked their credentials over a headline the newspaper published in its opinion pages.
''The Chinese people do not welcome media that publish racist statements and smear China with malicious attacks,'' said a government spokesman, Geng Shuang, shown on television last year. Credit... Lam Yik Fei for The New York Times HONG KONG '-- China said on Wednesday that it would expel three Wall Street Journal reporters working in mainland China, a significant escalation of Beijing's pressure on the foreign news media.
At a daily news briefing, a spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the reporters' credentials would be revoked in retaliation for a headline on an essay that ran in The Journal's editorial pages this month. The headline read: ''China Is the Real Sick Man of Asia.''
Chinese officials have ''demanded that The Wall Street Journal recognize the seriousness of the error, openly and formally apologize, and investigate and punish those responsible, while retaining the need to take further measures against the newspaper,'' Geng Shuang, the ministry spokesman, said in a transcript provided by the Chinese government.
''The Chinese people do not welcome media that publish racist statements and smear China with malicious attacks,'' he added.
The expulsions are the first involving a foreign correspondent since 1998, according to the Foreign Correspondents' Club of China, which called the simultaneous revocation of three press credentials ''an unprecedented form of retaliation.''
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo condemned China's decision, saying in a statement: ''Mature, responsible countries understand that a free press reports facts and expresses opinions.''
The Journal identified the reporters as Josh Chin, its deputy bureau chief in Beijing and an American citizen; Chao Deng, also an American; and Philip Wen, an Australian citizen. The reporters were ordered to leave the country within five days, The Journal said.
William Lewis, chief executive of Dow Jones and publisher of the paper, said in a statement that he was ''deeply disappointed'' in China's decision and requested that the visas for the three journalists be reinstated.
''Our opinion pages regularly publish articles with opinions that people disagree '-- or agree '-- with, and it was not our intention to cause offense with the headline on the piece,'' Mr. Lewis said. ''However, this has clearly caused upset and concern amongst the Chinese people, which we regret.''
Matt Murray, the editor of The Journal, described the action as ''harsh and unprecedented'' in an email to the paper's newsroom.
''The Wall Street Journal news department has maintained a robust staff in China for 40 years and a deep commitment to covering one of the most important stories of our era,'' Mr. Murray wrote in the email. ''We will support our journalists and their work and safety. And we will continue in the coming days to push for this action to be reversed.''
Just months ago, Chinese officials failed to renew the visa of another Journal reporter, Chun Han Wong, from mainland China. Officials did not provide a reason for what amounted to his expulsion, but he had co-written an article about a cousin of China's top leader, Xi Jinping, and an investigation by the Australian authorities into accusations that the cousin was involved in a scandal involving money laundering, immigration favors and organized crime. The other author of that article was Mr. Wen.
Beijing's decision to punish The Journal coincided with a move this week by American officials in Washington to treat five government-controlled Chinese news organizations '-- Xinhua, CGTN, China Radio, China Daily and People's Daily '-- as foreign government functionaries, subject to similar rules for diplomats stationed in the United States.
In response, China accused Washington of ''ideological prejudice and Cold War zero-sum game mentality,'' and emphasized the important role that media played in ''facilitating communication and understanding between people of different countries.''
Yet under Mr. Xi's leadership, the country has taken an increasingly hard stance with both foreign and domestic news media, punishing foreign reporters by refusing to renew their visas.
Foreign correspondents are not allowed to work in China without credentials, which in turn are required for a residence visa that is typically valid for one year. In recent years, officials have taken to shortening the length of these visas to six months or less for some journalists, apparently in retaliation for reports by the individuals or their news organizations.
Beijing's combative stance with the media has come into sharper focus in recent months as it tried to control the coverage of antigovernment protests in Hong Kong. In recent weeks, China has also cracked down on reporting about the coronavirus outbreak, in some cases stipulating that medical professionals must stop speaking to the reporters.
''The action taken against the Journal correspondents is an extreme and obvious attempt by the Chinese authorities to intimidate foreign news organizations,'' the Foreign Correspondents' Club said in an emailed statement on Wednesday.
It was unclear whether the Journal reporters named on Wednesday would be able to comply with Beijing's order to leave the country this week. Ms. Deng is reporting in Wuhan, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak and the site of a lockdown that makes it nearly impossible for most people to leave.
Other Chinese cities have strict quarantines for those who have recently been to Wuhan. If Ms. Deng returned to Beijing, for example, she would be subject to a 14-day quarantine there.
Like other media organizations, including The New York Times, The Journal runs its news and editorial departments as separate operations, meaning none of the newspaper's reporters in China would have had any involvement with the essay, including the writing of the ''Sick Man'' headline.
Also like many other foreign media organizations, The Wall Street Journal is banned online in China, meaning most Chinese readers could not see it directly. The headline was highlighted by China's state-controlled media.
The opinion piece was written by Walter Russell Mead, a professor at Bard College and a scholar at the Hudson Institute. It criticized China's initial response to the coronavirus outbreak as well as the state of the country's financial markets. (Mr. Mead declined to comment.)
The expression ''sick man of Asia'' was a derogatory characterization of China's weaknesses in the late 1800s and early 1900s, when it was torn by internal divisions and exploited by foreign powers.
Top editors held two meetings with newsroom staff to discuss the headline and the potential impact on The Journal's China operations, according to three people with knowledge of the events that preceded the ouster of the journalists. The headline was widely considered offensive within the newsroom, these people said, and was even coming up when members of the staff went out in the field to interview sources.
In one meeting last week, one of the people said, reporters expressed their anger over the headline to Mr. Murray, the editor. He agreed that the headline was bad, this person said, and agreed to talk to Paul Gigot, who runs The Journal's editorial page. However, Mr. Murray cautioned that his hands were tied because of the traditional separation between the news and editorial sides of The Journal.
Mr. Lewis, the Dow Jones chief executive, participated in a more recent meeting. Newsroom employees again pushed to get top editors to change the headline.
The Chinese government has publicly complained about the piece several times since it was published on Feb. 3. At a Foreign Ministry news conference last week, a spokeswoman said the article ''belittled our efforts to fight against the epidemic,'' was ''racially discriminatory and sensational'' and hurt the feelings of the country's people.
The Communist Party-run Global Times also touched on Beijing's displeasure in an article in its Chinese version on Monday. The article said The Journal wrote a letter to the Chinese authorities last week emphasizing the editorial independence of the paper's opinion section.
China typically uses language about the hurt feelings of its citizens when it is chastising and punishing foreign companies for not bending to Beijing's will. Over the past year, companies like Coach, Versace and the National Basketball Association have come under similar fire.
While the Foreign Ministry formally oversees foreign journalists, accreditation decisions appear to involve other arms of government, including security and propaganda agencies, and the decision to expel the reporters was unlikely to have been made solely by the ministry.
Eileen Murphy, a spokeswoman for The Times, said it objected to China's expulsion of journalists.
''Now more than ever, it's critically important that independent news organizations are able to report freely from China,'' she said.
Marc Tracy contributed reporting from New York, and Edward Wong from Washington.
Coronavirus Worsens U.S.-China Ties and Bolsters Hawks in Washington - The New York Times
Thu, 20 Feb 2020 05:55
But if hard-liners in the U.S. administration were hoping for a united, anti-China message from Washington, that goal has been undermined by President Trump.
Even Tiananmen Gate in Beijing was nearly deserted last month, as China grappled with its response to the coronavirus. Credit... Mark Schiefelbein/Associated Press BEIJING '-- Tariffs and the trade war. Espionage and Huawei. Hong Kong, Taiwan and the South China Sea.
Now a spiraling epidemic has become the latest and potentially most divisive issue driving apart the United States and China. For the fiercest critics of China within the Trump administration, the global panic over the coronavirus has provided a new opening to denounce the rule of the Chinese Communist Party, which they say cannot be trusted to disclose what it knows or properly manage the outbreak.
But if the hard-liners were hoping for a united, anti-China message coming from Washington, that goal has been undermined by their own leader. President Trump has publicly commended President Xi Jinping's handling of the crisis and even called for greater commercial ties, including the sale of jet engines to China.
''Look,'' Mr. Trump said on Tuesday, ''I know this: President Xi loves the people of China, he loves his country, and he's doing a very good job with a very, very tough situation.''
It has become a staple of the Trump administration: sending mixed messages that reflect a good-cop-bad-cop tactic, a real internal disagreement over policy or simply the caprice of the president. But overall, the most hawkish voices on China have managed to dominate the conversation, lashing out at Beijing as it reels from one challenge after another '-- a trade war with Washington, protests in Hong Kong and now the struggle to contain the coronavirus.
Mr. Trump's conciliatory comments this week might be an effort to defuse tensions and keep the U.S. economy and stock market humming as he faces re-election. That approach is backed by a pro-trade faction led by Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin that advocates close ties between the world's two largest economies.
Whether it is because of the assertiveness of the hard-liners, the ambiguities fueled by the competing messages or Beijing's policies, the relationship between the United States and China has become so strained and unpredictable that even the need for a united effort to address a global health crisis has not overcome the suspicions that have increasingly taken root on both sides.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the administration's most vocal China critic, on Tuesday took the country to task for a failure to be open and transparent when the coronavirus hit, saying, ''It took us too long to get the medical experts into country. We wish that could have happened more quickly.''
The China hawks say privately that they see the virus weakening the party's legitimacy and further separating the two countries.
''You are starting to walk back a couple of decades of diplomatic relations,'' said Carl Minzner, a professor of Chinese law and politics at Fordham University. The growing friction, he said, ''has its own immutable logic that is dragging both countries backward.''
New flash points emerge by the day. On Wednesday, China announced that it was expelling three Wall Street Journal reporters in what it said was retaliation for a headline on an opinion essay. The expulsions occurred a day after the U.S. State Department announced that it would treat China's main state news media organizations operating in the United States as arms of the Chinese government. All three reporters had worked on topics deemed sensitive by Chinese officials.
Updated Feb. 10, 2020
What is a Coronavirus? It is a novel virus named for the crown-like spikes that protrude from its surface. The coronavirus can infect both animals and people, and can cause a range of respiratory illnesses from the common cold to more dangerous conditions like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS. How contagious is the virus? According to preliminary research, it seems moderately infectious, similar to SARS, and is possibly transmitted through the air. Scientists have estimated that each infected person could spread it to somewhere between 1.5 and 3.5 people without effective containment measures. Where has the virus spread? The virus originated in Wuhan, China, and has sickened tens of thousands of people in China and at least two dozen other countries. How worried should I be? While the virus is a serious public health concern, the risk to most people outside China remains very low, and seasonal flu is a more immediate threat. Who is working to contain the virus? World Health Organization officials have praised China's aggressive response to the virus by closing transportation, schools and markets. This week, a team of experts from the W.H.O. arrived in Beijing to offer assistance. What if I'm traveling? The United States and Australia are temporarily denying entry to noncitizens who recently traveled to China and several airlines have canceled flights. How do I keep myself and others safe? Washing your hands frequently is the most important thing you can do, along with staying at home when you're sick. The coronavirus epidemic has coincided with recent aggressive moves by Washington that have left many officials in China fuming over what they view as an effort to weaken the Communist Party's leadership.
Those have included criminal cases filed against Chinese military personnel over the 2017 hacking of Equifax, and accusations that Chinese agencies appeared involved in efforts to get hold of research at Harvard University and Boston University.
The United States has also leveled accusations of racketeering against Huawei, the telecommunications company whose equipment, officials in Washington have repeatedly warned, could be used by the Chinese government for eavesdropping efforts on a global scale.
The Trump administration's most hawkish officials have seized on the coronavirus epidemic to bolster their arguments that the United States needs to make a more fundamental break with China.
Mr. Trump's trade adviser, Peter Navarro, said it was ''a wake up call'' to avoid relying on Chinese production of medicines and other medical supplies. The commerce secretary, Wilbur Ross, said the public health crisis could even lure back manufacturing jobs to the United States.
Allies of the administration in Congress, and even some officials speaking privately, have repeated the fringe theory '-- dismissed by scientists '-- that Chinese laboratories, not a wholesale food market in Wuhan, might have been the true source of the epidemic and that it started earlier than Beijing has said.
The officials assert that China at a minimum had obfuscated the fact that the epidemic began sooner than acknowledged and was then covered up.
In China, officials see such statements and actions as evidence of mounting anti-Chinese sentiment, even racism. They also accused the United States of stoking international panic when it withdrew diplomats from a consulate in Wuhan and evacuated its citizens.
Although other countries have since followed suit, China's foreign ministry accused Washington of setting a bad example.
''It is a political decision in the final analysis,'' said Jia Qingguo, an associate dean at Peking University's School of International Relations.
''It's time for international cooperation,'' he said, ''but these people just try to sow hatred, to try to split people up for their own political purposes.''
There have been a few signs of cooperation during the crisis. The U.S. State Department said it had delivered 18 tons of donated medical supplies to China and announced that it was prepared to give $100 million to China and other nations. And Beijing, for its part, has not fully unleashed anti-American vitriol.
''Unlike with the Hong Kong protests or trade war, the Chinese government has not blamed the United States for the ongoing crisis, and has even cracked down on online commentary calling the virus a U.S.-made biological weapon,'' said Jessica Chen Weiss, a professor of government at Cornell University.
From the start, the Trump administration has been divided between a pro-trade faction that favors strong business relations with China and a national security faction that promotes the idea of ''decoupling'' the two economies.
Despite starting a damaging trade war with China, Mr. Trump has tended to side with the pro-trade faction led by Mr. Mnuchin.
Senior officials advocating aggressive policies regularly criticize the trade proponents in private. They blame Mr. Mnuchin, a former Goldman Sachs executive, for blocking efforts to impose sanctions on Chinese officials for the mass detentions of Muslims. They also say pro-business officials are too eager to allow American companies to sell components to Chinese enterprises, especially in the high-tech sector.
Since the two nations reached a truce to the trade war in December, China hawks in the Trump administration have seen an opening to push through tougher actions and policies, ones that were criticized earlier by Mr. Mnuchin and his allies for potentially jeopardizing the trade talks.
Mr. Pompeo has delivered scathing remarks about the dangers posed by China. He told the National Governors Association on Feb. 8 that China was seeking to exert overt and covert influence from state capitals all the way down to community school boards.
He followed that with another speech at the Munich Security Conference this past weekend, declaring that ''the West is winning.'' On trips this month to Europe, Central Asia and Africa, Mr. Pompeo has told governments to beware of China.
His Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, retorted in Munich that the West should ''eschew the subconscious belief in the superiority of its civilizations and abandon its prejudices and anxieties regarding China.''
The actions and rhetoric coming during the coronavirus epidemic have made the sting even sharper in China.
Chinese officials bristled when the State Department raised its travel alert for China to the highest level '-- ''do not travel.''
Meanwhile, American officials fumed over China's unwillingness to allow in teams of international health experts, doctors and scientists.
In early January, the United States pressed Chinese officials to allow into Wuhan experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. China ignored the request.
Mr. Trump himself pressed the issue in a phone call with Mr. Xi on Feb. 6, administration officials said. Only last Friday did the Chinese government relent and allow two American experts to join an international team.
Administration officials say China continues to hide significant facts about the epidemic, its origins and its scale. One official said it was important to get American experts to the outbreak's epicenter to collect reliable data on things like transmission and morbidity rates.
There are already signs that the mutual recriminations could profoundly affect international cooperation '-- from trade to security to scientific research '-- as well as popular opinion in both countries.
''The level of trust in the relationship is now cratering,'' said Jude Blanchette, the Freeman Chair in China Studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.
''Issues like global pandemics and other issues that fundamentally impact the security of both countries,'' he said, ''are going to be very difficult to work through given the levels of distrust and disharmony on both sides.''
Steven Lee Myers reported from Beijing, and Edward Wong from Washington. Claire Fu contributed research from Beijing.
EU: UK might have to return ELGIN MARBLES to get trade deal | Daily Mail Online
Tue, 18 Feb 2020 11:03
The EU today suggested the Elgin Marbles will be the price of a trade deal - as Michel Barnier dismissed the UK's call for a Canada-style agreement.
The bloc's post-Brexit negotiating mandate is being extended to include a demand to 'address issues relating to the return or restitution of unlawfully removed cultural objects to their countries of origin'.
The ask is believed to have been added at the request of Greece, Italy and Cyprus - and indicates that Brussels intends to play hardball.
Meanwhile, Mr Barnier told reporters in the Belgian capital that the UK's position was 'not like Canada', after Boris Johnson signalled he wants the same terms as the north American country.
Mr Barnier swiped at the 'polemic' coming out of Britain, saying: 'We have proposed a trade agreement with a country that has a very particular and unique close geographical proximity not like Canada, not like South Korea and not like Japan. Very particular.'
The tough stance set the stage for a huge battle when negotiations get under way formally next month.
Greek diplomats told Bloomberg the clause on 'cultural objects' was to do with smuggling of artefacts, but another other official suggested it was a reference to the ancient Greek statues in the British Museum, which were taken from the Parthenon in Athens at the start of the 19th century.
Michel Barnier (pictured with Sadiq Khan in Brussels today) told reporters in the Belgian capital that the UK's position was 'not like Canada'
The Elgin Marbles are a collection of classical Greek marble sculptures, inscriptions and architectural members that were mostly created by Phidias and his assistants
Boris Johnson (pictured) signalled he wants the same trade terms with the EU as Canada
Mr Johnson is already facing the threat that Spain will try to use the negotiations to reopen questions over Gibraltar.
Many Parthenon sculptures have been housed in the British Museum since 1816 after they were bought by the government from Lord Elgin.
Greece has long campaigned for their repatriation, and some UK politicians including Jeremy Corbyn have backed returning them.
But the government insists they were purchased legitimately and have been painstakingly preserved in the UK.
There have been warnings that giving back the artefacts would trigger requests from dozens of other countries for the repatriation of artworks in British museums.
The sculptures used to be on the Parthenon at the top of the Acropolis in Athens.
A LONG-RUNNING HISTORICAL DISPUTE: WHAT ARE THE ELGIN MARBLES? The Elgin Marbles are a collection of classical Greek marble sculptures, inscriptions and architectural members that were mostly created by Phidias and his assistants.
The 7th Earl of Elgin, Thomas Bruce, removed the Parthenon Marble pieces from the Acropolis in Athens while serving as the British ambassador to the Ottoman Empire from 1799 to 1803.
In 1801, the Earl claimed to have obtained a permit from the Ottoman authorities to remove pieces from the Parthenon.
As the Acropolis was still an Ottoman military fort, Elgin required permission to enter the site.
His agents subsequently removed half of the surviving sculptures, as well as architectural members and sculpture from the Propylaea and Erechtheum.
The excavation and removal was completed in 1812 at a personal cost of around £70,000.
The sculptures were shipped to Britain, but in Greece, the Scots aristocrat was accused of looting and vandalism.
They were bought by the British Government in 1816 and placed in the British Museum. They still stand on view in the purpose-built Duveen Gallery.
Greece has sought their return from the British Museum through the years, to no avail.
The authenticity of Elgin's permit to remove the sculptures from the Parthenon has been widely disputed, especially as the original document has been lost. Many claim it was not legal.
However, others argue that since the Ottomans had controlled Athens since 1460, their claims to the artefacts were legal and recognisable.
They were removed by Elgin between 1799 and 1810 after he received permission from the Ottoman empire, which ruled Greece at the time.
Elgin claimed he was worried about damage being done to the marbles, but their removal was criticised at the time by figures including Lord Byron.
According to a House of Commons briefing paper from 2017, the UK government's position is that 'issues relating to the ownership and management of the Parthenon sculptures are matters for the trustees of the British Museum'.
Last night Mr Johnson's Brexit negotiator David Frost said the UK would rather walk away from talks than accept anything that interfered with 'the fundamentals of what it means to be an independent country'.
The EU is insisting that there can be no 'divergence' from its rules and regulations in areas including financial services and agriculture.
But Mr Frost used a speech Brussels to warn that the hardline position against this already espoused by the Prime Minister was not just posturing.
He made clear the UK wanted a Canada-style trade deal.
But he added that the UK is 'ready for an 'Australia-style' arrangement, with no comprehensive trade deal, if those terms are not granted.
He pointed out that if the UK and EU roles were reversed and the EU was forced to follow Westminster laws 'democratic consent would snap '' dramatically and finally'.
Mr Frost told students and academics at the Universit(C) libre de Bruxelles: 'We bring to the negotiations not some clever tactical positioning but the fundamentals of what it means to be an independent country.
'It is central to our vision that we must have the ability to set laws that suit us '' to claim the right that every other non-EU country in the world has.
'So to think that we might accept EU supervision on so called level playing field issues simply fails to see the point of what we are doing.
'It isn't a simple negotiating position which might move under pressure '' it is the point of the whole project.
'That's also why we will not extend the transition beyond the end of this year. At that point we recover our political and economic independence in full '' why would we want to postpone it?
'In short, we only want what other independent countries have.'
Frost described how he started his early career in the EU hub Brussels as a euro-enthusiast but soon became disillusioned with the bloc's institutions.
He added that it was perfectly possible to be both an economic competitor and political partner with the EU in the future.
He said the UK was 'not asking for anything special', just a normal trade agreement that the EU has with other countries around the world.
His defiant speech came after French foreign minister Jean-Yves le Drian predicted a bruising battle on a post-Brexit deal.
David Frost said the UK would rather walk away from talks than accept anything that interfered with 'the fundamentals of what it means to be an independent country'
Speaking at the annual Munich Security Conference, he made clear that Brussels will defend its interests when negotiations begin next month.
'I think that on trade issues and the mechanism for future relations, which we are going to start on, we are going to rip each other apart,' he said.
'But that is part of negotiations, everyone will defend their own interests.'
Mr le Drian, a close ally of president Emmanuel Macron, is the latest senior EU figure to warn that the negotiations will be difficult.
European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen and Mr Barnier have both cast doubt on Boris Johnson's aim to reach a comprehensive agreement by the end of the year when the Brexit transition period runs out.
The EU has repeatedly warned Britain cannot expect to enjoy continued 'high-quality' market access if it insists on diverging from EU social and environmental standards.
There is expected to be a particularly tough fight over fishing rights, with the EU insisting continued access to UK waters must form part of any agreement.
The bloc's chief negotiator Michel Barnier has said the EU's top priorities are fishing, security and maintaining fair trading conditions for European companies. A fishing boat is pictured above in the English channel
Elgin Marbles - Wikipedia
Tue, 18 Feb 2020 11:03
Collection of Classical Greek marble sculptures from the Athenian Acropolis
The Parthenon Marbles (Greek: Î'Î>>υÏÏά ÏÎυ Παρθενώνα) also known as the Elgin Marbles (),[1] are a collection of Classical Greek marble sculptures made under the supervision of the architect and sculptor Phidias and his assistants. They were originally part of the temple of the Parthenon and other buildings on the Acropolis of Athens.[2][3]
From 1801 to 1812, agents of Thomas Bruce, 7th Earl of Elgin removed about half of the surviving sculptures of the Parthenon, as well as sculptures from the Propylaea and Erechtheum.[4] The Marbles were transported by sea to Britain. Elgin later claimed to have obtained in 1801 an official decree (a firman)[5] from the Sublime Porte, the central government of the Ottoman Empire which were then the rulers of Greece. This firman has not been found in the Ottoman archives despite its wealth of documents from the same period[6] and its veracity is disputed.[7] The half not removed by Elgin is now displayed in the Acropolis Museum, aligned in orientation and within sight of the Parthenon, with the position of the missing elements clearly marked and space left should they be returned to Athens.[8]
In Britain, the acquisition of the collection was supported by some,[9] while some others, such as Lord Byron, likened the Earl's actions to vandalism or looting.[10][11][12][13][14][15][16] Following a public debate in Parliament[17] and its subsequent exoneration of Elgin, he sold the Marbles to the British government in 1816. They were then passed to the British Museum,[18] where they are now on display in the purpose-built Duveen Gallery.
After gaining its independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1832, the newly-founded Greek state began a series of projects to restore its monuments and retrieve looted art. It has expressed its disapproval of Elgin's removal of the Marbles from the Acropolis and the Parthenon,[19] which is regarded as one of the world's greatest cultural monuments.[20] International efforts to repatriate the Marbles to Greece were intensified in the 1980s by then Greek Minister of Culture Melina Mercouri, and there are now many organisations actively campaigning for the Marbles' return, several united as part of the International Association for the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures. The Greek government itself continues to urge the return of the marbles to Athens so as to be unified with the remaining marbles and for the complete Parthenon frieze sequence to be restored, through diplomatic, political and legal means.[21]
In 2014, UNESCO offered to mediate between Greece and the United Kingdom to resolve the dispute, although this was later turned down by the British Museum on the basis that UNESCO works with government bodies, not trustees of museums.[22][23][24]
Background [ edit ] Built in the ancient era, the Parthenon was extensively damaged during the Great Turkish War (1683''1699) against the Republic of Venice. The defending Turks fortified the Acropolis and used the Parthenon as a gunpowder magazine. On 26 September 1687, a Venetian artillery round, fired from the Hill of Philopappus, blew up the magazine, and the building was partly destroyed.[25] The explosion blew out the building's central portion and caused the cella's walls to crumble into rubble.[26] Three of the four walls collapsed, or nearly so, and about three-fifths of the sculptures from the frieze fell.[27] About three hundred people were killed in the explosion, which showered marble fragments over a significant area.[28] For the next century and a half, portions of the remaining structure were scavenged for building material and looted of any remaining objects of value.[29]
Acquisition [ edit ] Metope from the Elgin marbles depicting a
Centaur and a
Lapith fighting
In November 1798 the Earl of Elgin was appointed as "Ambassador Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary of His Britannic Majesty to the Sublime Porte of Selim III, Sultan of Turkey" (Greece was then part of the Ottoman Empire). Before his departure to take up the post he had approached officials of the British government to inquire if they would be interested in employing artists to take casts and drawings of the sculptured portions of the Parthenon. According to Lord Elgin, "the answer of the Government ... was entirely negative."[9]
Lord Elgin decided to carry out the work himself, and employed artists to take casts and drawings under the supervision of the Neapolitan court painter, Giovani Lusieri.[9] According to a Turkish local, marble sculptures that fell were being burned to obtain lime for building.[9] Although his original intention was only to document the sculptures, in 1801 Lord Elgin began to remove material from the Parthenon and its surrounding structures[30] under the supervision of Lusieri. Pieces were also removed from the Erechtheion, the Propylaia, and the Temple of Athena Nike, all inside the Acropolis.
The excavation and removal was completed in 1812 at a personal cost to Elgin of around £70,000.[31] Elgin intended to use the marbles to decorate Broomhall House, his private home near Dunfermline in Scotland,[32] but a costly divorce suit forced him to sell them to settle his debts.[33] Elgin sold the Parthenon Marbles to the British government for less than it cost him to procure them, declining higher offers from other potential buyers, including Napoleon.[30]
Description [ edit ] The Parthenon Marbles acquired by Elgin include some 21 figures from the statuary from the east and west pediments, 15 of an original 92 metope panels depicting battles between the Lapiths and the Centaurs, as well as 75 meters of the Parthenon Frieze which decorated the horizontal course set above the interior architrave of the temple. As such, they represent more than half of what now remains of the surviving sculptural decoration of the Parthenon.
Elgin's acquisitions also included objects from other buildings on the Athenian Acropolis: a Caryatid from Erechtheum; four slabs from the parapet frieze of the Temple of Athena Nike; and a number of other architectural fragments of the Parthenon, Propylaia, Erechtheum, the Temple of Athene Nike, and the Treasury of Atreus.
Legality of the removal from Athens [ edit ] The Acropolis was at that time an Ottoman military fort, so Elgin required special permission to enter the site, the Parthenon, and the surrounding buildings. He stated that he had obtained a firman from the Sultan which allowed his artists to access the site, but he was unable to produce the original documentation. However, Elgin presented a document claimed to be an English translation of an Italian copy made at the time. This document is now kept in the British Museum.[34] Its authenticity has been questioned, as it lacked the formalities characterising edicts from the sultan. Vassilis Demetriades, Professor of Turkish Studies at the University of Crete, has argued that "any expert in Ottoman diplomatic language can easily ascertain that the original of the document which has survived was not a firman".[7] The document was recorded in an appendix of an 1816 parliamentary committee report. 'The committee permission' had convened to examine a request by Elgin asking the British government to purchase the Marbles. The report said that the document[35] in the appendix was an accurate translation, in English, of an Ottoman firman dated July 1801. In Elgin's view it amounted to an Ottoman authorisation to remove the marbles. The committee was told that the original document was given to Ottoman officials in Athens in 1801. Researchers have so far failed to locate it despite the fact that firmans, being official decrees by the Sultan, were meticulously recorded as a matter of procedure, and that the Ottoman archives in Istanbul still hold a number of similar documents dating from the same period.[6]
The parliamentary record shows that the Italian copy of the firman was not presented to the committee by Elgin himself but by one of his associates, the clergyman Rev. Philip Hunt. Hunt, who at the time resided in Bedford, was the last witness to appear before the committee and stated that he had in his possession an Italian translation of the Ottoman original. He went on to explain that he had not brought the document, because, upon leaving Bedford, he was not aware that he was to testify as a witness. The English document in the parliamentary report was filed by Hunt, but the committee was not presented with the Italian translation in Hunt's possession. William St. Clair, a contemporary biographer of Lord Elgin, said he possessed Hunt's Italian document and "vouches for the accuracy of the English translation". The committee report states on page 69 "(Signed with a signet.) Seged Abdullah Kaimacan" - however, the document presented to the committee was "an English translation of this purported translation into Italian of the original firman",[36] and had neither signet nor signature on it, a fact corroborated by St. Clair.[37] The 1967 study by British historian William St. Clair, Lord Elgin and the Marbles, stated the sultan did not allow the removal of statues and reliefs from the Parthenon. The study judged a clause authorizing the British to take stones ''with old inscriptions and figures'' probably meant items in the excavations the site, not the art decorating the temples.[38]
The document allowed Elgin and his team to erect scaffolding so as to make drawings and mouldings in chalk or gypsum, as well as to measure the remains of the ruined buildings and excavate the foundations which may have become covered in the [ghiaja (meaning gravel, debris)]; and "...that when they wish to take away [qualche (meaning 'some' or 'a few')] pieces of stone with old inscriptions or figures thereon, that no opposition be made thereto". The interpretation of these lines has been questioned even by non-restitutionalists,[39][40] particularly the word qualche, which in modern language should be translated as a few but can also mean any. According to non-restitutionalists, further evidence that the removal of the sculptures by Elgin was approved by the Ottoman authorities is shown by a second firman which was required for the shipping of the marbles from Piraeus.[41]
Many have questioned the legality of Elgin's actions, including the legitimacy of the documentation purportedly authorising them. A study by Professor David Rudenstine of the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law concluded that the premise that Elgin obtained legal title to the marbles, which he then transferred to the British government, "is certainly not established and may well be false".[42] Rudenstine's argumentation is partly based on a translation discrepancy he noticed between the surviving Italian document and the English text submitted by Hunt to the parliamentary committee. The text from the committee report reads "We therefore have written this Letter to you, and expedited it by Mr. Philip Hunt, an English Gentleman, Secretary of the aforesaid Ambassador" but according to the St. Clair Italian document the actual wording is "We therefore have written this letter to you and expedited it by N.N.". In Rudenstine's view, this substitution of "Mr. Philip Hunt" with the initials "N.N." can hardly be a simple mistake. He further argues that the document was presented after the committee's insistence that some form of Ottoman written authorisation for the removal of the marbles be provided, a fact known to Hunt by the time he testified. Thus, according to Rudenstine, "Hunt put himself in a position in which he could simultaneously vouch for the authenticity of the document and explain why he alone had a copy of it fifteen years after he surrendered the original to Ottoman officials in Athens". On two earlier occasions, Elgin stated that the Ottomans gave him written permissions more than once, but that he had "retained none of them." Hunt testified on March 13, and one of the questions asked was "Did you ever see any of the written permissions which were granted [to Lord Elgin] for removing the Marbles from the Temple of Minerva?" to which Hunt answered "yes", adding that he possessed an Italian translation of the original firman. Nonetheless, he did not explain why he had retained the translation for 15 years, whereas Elgin, who had testified two weeks earlier, knew nothing about the existence of any such document.[37]
English travel writer Edward Daniel Clarke, an eyewitness, wrote that the Dizdar, the Ottoman fortress commander on the scene, attempted to stop the removal of the metopes but was bribed to allow it to continue.[43] In contrast, John Merryman, Sweitzer Professor of Law at Stanford Law School and also Professor of Art at Stanford University, putting aside the discrepancy presented by Rudenstine, argues that since the Ottomans had controlled Athens since 1460, their claims to the artefacts were legal and recognisable. Sultan Selim III was grateful to the British for repelling Napoleonic expansion, and unlike his ancestor Mehmet II, the Parthenon marbles had no sentimental value to him.[30] Further, that written permission exists in the form of the firman, which is the most formal kind of permission available from that government, and that Elgin had further permission to export the marbles, legalises his (and therefore the British Museum's) claim to the Marbles.[41] He does note, though, that the clause concerning the extent of Ottoman authorisation to remove the marbles "is at best ambiguous", adding that the document "provides slender authority for the massive removals from the Parthenon ... The reference to 'taking away any pieces of stone' seems incidental, intended to apply to objects found while excavating. That was certainly the interpretation privately placed on the firman by several of the Elgin party, including Lady Elgin. Publicly, however, a different attitude was taken, and the work of dismantling the sculptures on the Parthenon and packing them for shipment to England began in earnest. In the process, Elgin's party damaged the structure, leaving the Parthenon not only denuded of its sculptures but further ruined by the process of removal. It is certainly arguable that Elgin exceeded the authority granted in the firman in both respects".[44]
The issue of firmans of this nature, along with universally required bribes, was not unusual at this time: In 1801 for example, Edward Clarke and his assistant John Marten Cripps, obtained an authorisation from the governor of Athens for the removal of a statue of the goddess Demeter which was at Eleusis, with the intervention of Italian artist Giovanni Battista Lusieri who was Lord Elgin's assistant at the time.[45] Prior to Clarke, the statue had been discovered in 1676 by the traveller George Wheler, and since then several ambassadors had submitted unsuccessful applications for its removal,[46][47] but Clarke had been the one to remove the statue by force,[48] after bribing the waiwode of Athens and obtaining a firman,[46] despite the objections and a riot,[48][49] of the local population who unofficially, and against the traditions of the iconoclastic Church, worshiped the statue as the uncanonised Saint Demetra (Greek: ΑÎ"ία Î--ήμηÏρα).[48] The people would adorn the statue with garlands,[48] and believed that the goddess was able to bring fertility to their fields and that the removal of the statue would cause that benefit to disappear.[46][48][50][51] Clarke also removed other marbles from Greece such as a statue of Pan, a figure of Eros, a comic mask, various reliefs and funerary steles, amongst others. Clarke donated these to the University of Cambridge and subsequently in 1803 the statue of Demeter was displayed at the university library. The collection was later moved to the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge where it formed one of the two main collections of the institution.[46]
[ edit ] A portrait depicting the Elgin Marbles in a temporary Elgin Room at the
British Museum surrounded by museum staff, a trustee and visitors, 1819
When the marbles were shipped to England, they were "an instant success among many"[9] who admired the sculptures and supported their arrival, but both the sculptures and Elgin also received criticism from detractors. Lord Elgin began negotiations for the sale of the collection to the British Museum in 1811, but negotiations failed despite the support of British artists[9] after the government showed little interest. Many Britons opposed purchase of the statues because they were in bad condition and therefore did not display the "ideal beauty" found in other sculpture collections.[9] The following years marked an increased interest in classical Greece, and in June 1816, after parliamentary hearings, the House of Commons offered £35,000 in exchange for the sculptures. Even at the time the acquisition inspired much debate, although it was supported by "many persuasive calls" for the purchase.[9]
Lord Byron strongly objected to the removal of the marbles from Greece, denouncing Elgin as a vandal.[10] His point of view about the removal of the Marbles from Athens is also mentioned in his narrative poem Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, published in 1812, which itself was largely inspired by Byron's travels around the Mediterranean and the Aegean Sea between 1809 and 1811:[52]
Dull is the eye that will not weep to seeThy walls defaced, thy mouldering shrines removedBy British hands, which it had best behovedTo guard those relics ne'er to be restored.Curst be the hour when from their isle they roved,And once again thy hapless bosom gored,And snatch'd thy shrinking gods to northern climes abhorred!Byron was not the only one to protest against the removal at the time:
"The Honourable Lord has taken advantage of the most unjustifiable means and has committed the most flagrant pillages. It was, it seems, fatal that a representative of our country loot those objects that the Turks and other barbarians had considered sacred," said Sir John Newport.[53]Edward Daniel Clarke witnessed the removal of the metopes and called the action a "spoliation", writing that "thus the form of the temple has sustained a greater injury than it had already experienced from the Venetian artillery," and that "neither was there a workman employed in the undertaking ... who did not express his concern that such havoc should be deemed necessary, after moulds and casts had been already made of all the sculpture which it was designed to remove."[43] When Sir Francis Ronalds visited Athens and Giovanni Battista Lusieri in 1820, he wrote that "If Lord Elgin had possessed real taste in lieu of a covetous spirit he would have done just the reverse of what he has, he would have removed the rubbish and left the antiquities."[54][55]
A parliamentary committee investigating the situation concluded that the monuments were best given "asylum" under a "free government" such as the British one.[9] In 1810, Elgin published a defence of his actions,[4] but the subject remained controversial.[citation needed ] John Keats viewed them in 1817 when they were exhibited in the British Museum, hence his famous sonnet about the marbles titled "On Seeing the Elgin Marbles". Notable supporters of Elgin included the painter Benjamin Robert Haydon.[9]
A public debate in Parliament followed Elgin's publication, and Parliament again exonerated Elgin's actions. Parliament decided to purchase the marbles for the "British nation" in 1816 by a vote of 82''30 for £35,000.[10] They were deposited in the British Museum, where they were displayed in the Elgin Saloon (constructed in 1832), until the Duveen Gallery was completed in 1939. Crowds packed the British Museum to view the sculptures, setting attendance records for the museum.[9] William Wordsworth viewed the marbles at the museum and commented favourably on their aesthetics.[56]
Damage [ edit ] Morosini [ edit ] Prior damage to the marbles was sustained during successive wars, and it was during such conflicts that the Parthenon and its artwork sustained, by far, the most extensive damage. In particular, an explosion ignited by Venetian gun and cannon-fire bombardment in 1687, whilst the Parthenon was used as a munitions store during the Ottoman rule, destroyed or damaged many pieces of Parthenon art, including some of that later taken by Lord Elgin.[57] It was this explosion that sent the marble roof, most of the cella walls, 14 columns from the north and south peristyles, and carved metopes and frieze blocks flying and crashing to the ground, destroying much of the artwork. Further damage to the Parthenon's artwork occurred when the Venetian general Francesco Morosini looted the site of its larger sculptures. The tackle he was using to remove the sculptures proved to be faulty and snapped, dropping an over-life-sized sculpture of Poseidon and the horses of Athena's chariot from the west pediment on to the rock of the Acropolis 40 feet (12 m) below.[58]
War of Independence [ edit ] The Erechtheion was used as a munitions store by the Ottomans during the Greek War of Independence[59] (1821''1833) which ended the 355-year Ottoman rule of Athens. The Acropolis was besieged twice during the war, first by the Greeks in 1821''22 and then by the Ottoman forces in 1826''27. During the first siege the besieged Ottoman forces attempted to melt the lead in the columns to cast bullets, even prompting the Greeks to offer their own bullets to the Ottomans in order to minimize damage.[60]
Elgin [ edit ] Elgin consulted with Italian sculptor Antonio Canova in 1803 about how best to restore the marbles. Canova was considered by some to be the world's best sculptural restorer of the time; Elgin wrote that Canova declined to work on the marbles for fear of damaging them further.[9]
To facilitate transport by Elgin, the columns' capitals and many metopes and frieze slabs were either hacked off the main structure or sawn and sliced into smaller sections, causing irreparable damage to the Parthenon itself.[61][62] One shipload of marbles on board the British brig Mentor [63] was caught in a storm off Cape Matapan in southern Greece and sank near Kythera, but was salvaged at the Earl's personal expense;[64] it took two years to bring them to the surface.
British Museum [ edit ] Tools used for the cleaning of the Elgin marbles.
[65]The artefacts held in London suffered from 19th-century pollution which persisted until the mid-20th century and have suffered irreparable damage by previous cleaning methods employed by British Museum staff.[66]
As early as 1838, scientist Michael Faraday was asked to provide a solution to the problem of the deteriorating surface of the marbles. The outcome is described in the following excerpt from the letter he sent to Henry Milman, a commissioner for the National Gallery.[67][68]
The marbles generally were very dirty ... from a deposit of dust and soot. ... I found the body of the marble beneath the surface white. ... The application of water, applied by a sponge or soft cloth, removed the coarsest dirt. ... The use of fine, gritty powder, with the water and rubbing, though it more quickly removed the upper dirt, left much embedded in the cellular surface of the marble. I then applied alkalies, both carbonated and caustic; these quickened the loosening of the surface dirt ... but they fell far short of restoring the marble surface to its proper hue and state of cleanliness. I finally used dilute nitric acid, and even this failed. ... The examination has made me despair of the possibility of presenting the marbles in the British Museum in that state of purity and whiteness which they originally possessed.
A further effort to clean the marbles ensued in 1858. Richard Westmacott, who was appointed superintendent of the "moving and cleaning the sculptures" in 1857, in a letter approved by the British Museum Standing Committee on 13 March 1858 concluded[69]
I think it my duty to say that some of the works are much damaged by ignorant or careless moulding '' with oil and lard '' and by restorations in wax and resin. These mistakes have caused discolouration. I shall endeavour to remedy this without, however, having recourse to any composition that can injure the surface of the marble.
Yet another effort to clean the marbles occurred in 1937''38. This time the incentive was provided by the construction of a new Gallery to house the collection. The Pentelic marble mined from Mount Pentelicus north of Athens, from which the sculptures are made, naturally acquires a tan colour similar to honey when exposed to air; this colouring is often known as the marble's "patina"[70] but Lord Duveen, who financed the whole undertaking, acting under the misconception that the marbles were originally white[71] probably arranged for the team of masons working in the project to remove discolouration from some of the sculptures. The tools used were seven scrapers, one chisel and a piece of carborundum stone. They are now deposited in the British Museum's Department of Preservation.[71][72] The cleaning process scraped away some of the detailed tone of many carvings.[73] According to Harold Plenderleith, the surface removed in some places may have been as much as one-tenth of an inch (2.5 mm).[71]
The British Museum has responded with the statement that "mistakes were made at that time."[74] On another occasion it was said that "the damage had been exaggerated for political reasons" and that "the Greeks were guilty of excessive cleaning of the marbles before they were brought to Britain."[72] During the international symposium on the cleaning of the marbles, organised by the British Museum in 1999, curator Ian Jenkins, deputy keeper of Greek and Roman antiquities, remarked that "The British Museum is not infallible, it is not the Pope. Its history has been a series of good intentions marred by the occasional cock-up, and the 1930s cleaning was such a cock-up". Nonetheless, he claimed that the prime cause for the damage inflicted upon the marbles was the 2000-year-long weathering on the Acropolis.[75]
American archeologist Dorothy King, in a newspaper article, wrote that techniques similar to the ones used in 1937''38 were applied by Greeks as well in more recent decades than the British, and maintained that Italians still find them acceptable.[30] The British Museum said that a similar cleaning of the Temple of Hephaestus in the Athenian Agora was carried out by the conservation team of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens[76] in 1953 using steel chisels and brass wire.[64] According to the Greek ministry of Culture, the cleaning was carefully limited to surface salt crusts.[75] The 1953 American report concluded that the techniques applied were aimed at removing the black deposit formed by rain-water and "brought out the high technical quality of the carving" revealing at the same time "a few surviving particles of colour".[76]
Documents released by the British Museum under the Freedom of Information Act revealed that a series of minor accidents, thefts and acts of vandalism by visitors have inflicted further damage to the sculptures.[77] This includes an incident in 1961 when two schoolboys knocked off a part of a centaur's leg. In June 1981, a west pediment figure was slightly chipped by a falling glass skylight, and in 1966 four shallow lines were scratched on the back of one of the figures by vandals. In 1970 letters were scratched on to the upper right thigh of another figure. Four years later, the dowel hole in a centaur's hoof was damaged by thieves trying to extract pieces of lead.[77]
Section of a frieze from the Elgin Marbles
Athens [ edit ] Air pollution and acid rain have damaged the marble and stonework.[78] The last remaining slabs from the western section of the Parthenon frieze were removed from the monument in 1993 for fear of further damage.[79] They have now been transported to the New Acropolis Museum.[78]
Until cleaning of the remaining marbles was completed in 2005,[80] black crusts and coatings were present on the marble surface.[81] The laser technique applied on the 14 slabs that Elgin did not remove revealed a surprising array of original details, such as the original chisel marks and the veins on the horses' bellies. Similar features in the British Museum collection have been scraped and scrubbed with chisels to make the marbles look white.[82][83] Between January 20 and the end of March 2008, 4200 items (sculptures, inscriptions small terracotta objects), including some 80 artefacts dismantled from the monuments in recent years, were removed from the old museum on the Acropolis to the new Parthenon Museum.[84][85] Natural disasters have also affected the Parthenon. In 1981, an earthquake caused damage to the east fa§ade.[86]
Since 1975, Greece has been restoring the Acropolis. This restoration has included replacing the thousands of rusting iron clamps and supports that had previously been used, with non-corrosive titanium rods;[87] removing surviving artwork from the building into storage and subsequently into a new museum built specifically for the display of the Parthenon art; and replacing the artwork with high-quality replicas. This process has come under fire from some groups as some buildings have been completely dismantled, including the dismantling of the Temple of Athena Nike and for the unsightly nature of the site due to the necessary cranes and scaffolding.[87] But the hope is to restore the site to some of its former glory, which may take another 20 years and 70 million euros, though the prospect of the Acropolis being "able to withstand the most extreme weather conditions '' earthquakes" is "little consolation to the tourists visiting the Acropolis" according to The Guardian.[87] Under continuous international pressure, Directors of the British Museum have not ruled out agreeing to what they call a "temporary" loan to the new museum, but state that it would be under the condition of Greece acknowledging the British Museum's claims to ownership.[53]
The Parthenon. The treatment of the first drum filling from the fifth column of the south colonnade (1993).
The Parthenon. Shaping a column-capital filling from the pronaos with the use of a pointing device (2001)
Relocation debate [ edit ] Rationale for returning to Athens [ edit ] Those arguing for the Marbles' return claim legal, moral and artistic grounds. Their arguments include:
The main stated aim of the Greek campaign is to reunite the Parthenon sculptures around the world in order to restore "organic elements" which "at present remain without cohesion, homogeneity and historicity of the monument to which they belong" and allow visitors to better appreciate them as a whole;[88][89][90]Presenting all the extant Parthenon Marbles in their original historical and cultural environment would permit their "fuller understanding and interpretation";[89][91]Precedents have been set with the return of fragments of the monument by Sweden,[92] the University of Heidelberg, Germany,[93] the Getty Museum in Los Angeles[93] and the Vatican;[94]The marbles may have been obtained illegally and hence should be returned to their rightful owner;[95]Returning the Parthenon sculptures (Greece is requesting only the return of sculptures from this particular building) would not set a precedent for other restitution claims because of the distinctively "universal value" of the Parthenon;[96]Safekeeping of the marbles would be ensured at the New Acropolis Museum, situated to the south of the Acropolis hill. It was built to hold the Parthenon sculpture in natural sunlight that characterises the Athenian climate, arranged in the same way as they would have been on the Parthenon. The museum's facilities have been equipped with state-of-the-art technology for the protection and preservation of exhibits;[97]The friezes are part of a single work of art, thus it was unintended that fragments of this piece be scattered across different locations;Casts of the marbles would be just as able to demonstrate the cultural influences which Greek sculptures have had upon European art as would the original marbles, whereas the context with which the marbles belong cannot be replicated within the British Museum;A poll suggested that more British people (37%) supported the marbles' restoration to Greece than opposed it (23%).[98]In a 2018 interview to the Athens newspaper Ta Nea, British Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn did not rule out returning the Marbles to Greece, stating, "As with anything stolen or taken from occupied or colonial possession'--including artefacts looted from other countries in the past'--we should be engaged in constructive talks with the Greek government about returning the sculptures."[99]
Rationale for retaining in London [ edit ] A range of different arguments have been presented by scholars,[53] British political leaders and British Museum spokespersons over the years in defence of retention of the Elgin Marbles by the British Museum. The main points include:
the assertion that fulfilling all restitution claims would empty most of the world's great museums '' this has also caused concerns among other European and American museums, with one potential target being the famous bust of Nefertiti in Berlin's Neues Museum; in addition, portions of Parthenon marbles are kept by many other European museums.[30] Advocates of the British Museum's position also point out that the Marbles in Britain receive about 6 million visitors per year as opposed to 1.5 million visitors to the Acropolis Museum. The removal of the Marbles to Greece would therefore, they argue, significantly reduce the number of people who have the opportunity to visit the Marbles.[100] The English Romantic poet John Keats, and the French sculptor Auguste Rodin, are notable examples of visitors to the Elgin Marbles after their removal to England who subsequently produced famous work inspired by them.[101][102]the assertion that Modern Greeks have "no claim to the stones because you could see from their physiognomy that they were not descended from the men who had carved them," a quote attributed to Auberon Waugh[103]. In nineteenth century Western Europe, Greeks of the Classical period were widely imagined to have been light skinned and blond.[104] This view has been overturned by modern genetic research and is now widely understood as having racist underpinnings.[104]the assertion that Greece could mount no court case, because Elgin claims to have been granted permission by what was then Greece's ruling government and a legal principle of limitation would apply, i.e., the ability to pursue claims expires after a period of time prescribed by law;[53]The last was tested in the English High Court in May 2005 in relation to Nazi-looted Old Master artworks held at the British Museum, which the Museum's Trustees wished to return to the family of the original owner; the Court found that due to the British Museum Act 1963 these works could not be returned without further legislation. The judge, Mr Justice Morritt, found that the Act, which protects the collections for posterity, could not be overridden by a "moral obligation" to return works, even if they are believed to have been plundered.[105][106] It has been argued, however, that the case was not directly relevant to the Elgin Marbles, as it was about a transfer of ownership, and not the loan of artefacts for public exhibition overseas, which is provided for in the 1963 Act.[107]
Another argument for keeping the Elgin Marbles within the UK has been made by J. H. Merryman, Sweitzer Professor of Law at Stanford University and co-operating professor in the Stanford Art Department. He has argued that the Marbles are now established as a significant element of Britain's own cultural history, as "the Elgin Marbles have been in England since 1821 and in that time have become a part of the British cultural heritage."[108]He has also argued that if the Parthenon were actually being restored, there would be a moral argument for returning the Marbles to the temple whence they came, and thus restoring its integrity. The Guardian has written that many among those who support repatriation imply that the marbles would be displayed in their original position on the Parthenon.[30] However, the Greek plan is to transfer them from a museum in London to one in Athens. These arguments are perhaps complicated a little by the completion of the new Acropolis Museum in 2009, where the half not removed by Elgin is now displayed, aligned in orientation and within sight of the Parthenon, with the position of the missing elements clearly marked and space left should they be returned to Athens.[8]
The Trustees of the British Museum make the following statement on the Museum website in response to arguments for the relocation of the Elgin Marbles to the Acropolis Museum: "The Acropolis Museum allows the Parthenon sculptures that are in Athens to be appreciated against the backdrop of ancient Greek and Athenian history. This display does not alter the Trustees' view that the sculptures are part of everyone's shared heritage and transcend cultural boundaries. The Trustees remain convinced that the current division allows different and complementary stories to be told about the surviving sculptures, highlighting their significance for world culture and affirming the universal legacy of ancient Greece."[109][110]
Public perception of the issue [ edit ] Popular support for restitution [ edit ] Outside Greece a campaign for the Return of the Marbles began in 1981 with the formation of the International Organising Committee - Australia - for the Restitution of the Parthenon Marbles, and in 1983 with the formation of the British Committee for the Reunification of the Parthenon Marbles. International organisations such as UNESCO and the International Association for the Reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures, as well as campaign groups such as, Marbles Reunited, and stars of Hollywood, such as George Clooney and Matt Damon, as well as Human Rights activists, lawyers, and the people of the arts, voiced their strong support for the return of the Elgin Marbles to Greece.
American actor George Clooney voiced his support for the return by the United Kingdom and reunification of the Parthenon Marbles in Greece, during his promotional campaign for his 2014 film The Monuments Men which retells the story of Allied efforts to save important masterpieces of art and other culturally important items before their destruction by Hitler and the Nazis during World War II. His remarks regarding the Marbles reignited the debate in the United Kingdom about their return to their home country. Public polls were also carried out by newspapers in response to Clooney's stance on this matter.
An internet campaign site,[111] in part sponsored by Metaxa, aims to consolidate support for the return of the Elgin Marbles to the New Acropolis Museum in Athens.
Noted public intellectual Christopher Hitchens had, at numerous times, argued for their repatriation.[112]
In BBC TV Series QI (S12E07XL), host Stephen Fry provided his support for the return of the Elgin Marbles while recounting the story of the Greeks giving lead shot to their Ottoman Empire enemies, as the Ottomans were running out of ammunition, in order to prevent damage to the Acropolis. Fry had previously written a blog post along much the same lines in December 2011 entitled "A Modest Proposal", signing off with "It's time we lost our marbles".[113]
Opinion polls [ edit ] A YouGov poll in 2014 suggested that more British people (37%) supported the marbles' restoration to Greece than opposed it (23%).[98]
In older polls, Ipsos MORI asked in 1998, "If there were a referendum on whether or not the Elgin Marbles should be returned to Greece, how would you vote?" This returned these values from the British general adult population:[114]
40% in favour of returning the marbles to Greece15% in favour of keeping them at the British Museum18% would not vote27% had no opinionAnother opinion poll in 2002 (again carried out by MORI) showed similar results, with 40% of the British public in favour of returning the marbles to Greece, 16% in favour of keeping them within Britain and the remainder either having no opinion or would not vote.[115] When asked how they would vote if a number of conditions were met (including, but not limited to, a long-term loan whereby the British maintained ownership and joint control over maintenance) the number responding in favour of return increased to 56% and those in favour of keeping them dropped to 7%.
Both MORI poll results have been characterised by proponents of the return of the Marbles to Greece as representing a groundswell of public opinion supporting return, since the proportion explicitly supporting return to Greece significantly exceeds the number who are explicitly in favour of keeping the Marbles at the British Museum.[114][116]
Other displaced Parthenon art [ edit ] Sculpture of Dionysos from the Parthenon's East Pediment
[117]The remainder of the surviving sculptures that are not in museums or storerooms in Athens are held in museums in various locations across Europe. The British Museum also holds additional fragments from the Parthenon sculptures acquired from various collections that have no connection with Lord Elgin.
The collection held in the British Museum includes the following material from the Acropolis:
Parthenon: 247 ft (75 m) of the original 524 ft (160 m) frieze15 of the 92 metopes17 pedimental figures, including a figure of a river-god, possibly the river Ilissos;[118]various pieces of architectureErechtheion: a Caryatid, a column and other architectural membersPropylaia: Architectural membersTemple of Athena Nike: 4 slabs of the frieze and architectural membersBritish Museum loan [ edit ] The British Museum lent the figure of a river-god, possibly the river Ilissos,to the State Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg to celebrate its 250thanniversary.[119] It was on display there from Saturday 6 December 2014 until Sunday 18 January 2015.This was the first time the British Museum had lent part of its Elgin Marbles collection and it caused considerablecontroversy.[120]
See also [ edit ] Imperial Spoils: The Curious Case of the Elgin MarblesGreece''United Kingdom relationsFrancesco MorosiniPersepolis Administrative ArchivesUniversity of Chicago Persian antiquities crisisKoh-i-NoorPalermo FragmentReferences [ edit ] ^ Wells, John C. (2008). Longman Pronunciation Dictionary (3rd ed.). Longman. ISBN 978-1-4058-8118-0. ^ "What are the 'Elgin Marbles'?". britishmuseum.org. Archived from the original on 20 April 2009 . Retrieved 12 May 2009 . ^ "Elgin Marbles '' Greek sculpture". Encyclop...dia Britannica . Retrieved 18 June 2018 . ^ a b Encyclop...dia Britannica, Elgin Marbles, 2008, O.Ed. ^ Great Britain. Parliament. House of Commons. Select Committee on the Earl of Elgin's Collection of Sculptured Marbles. (1816). Report from the Select Committee of the House of Commons on the Earl of Elgin's collection of sculptured marbles. London: Printed for J. Murray, by W. Bulmer and Co. ^ a b David Rudenstein (29 May 2000). "Did Elgin Cheat at Marbles?". Nation. 270 (21): 30. Yet no researcher has ever located this Ottoman document and when l was in Instanbul I searched in vain for it or any copy of it, or any reference to it in other sorts of documents or a description of its substantive terms in any related official papers. Although a document of some sort may have existed, it seems to have vanished into thin air, despite the fact the Ottoman archives contain an enormous number of similar documents from the period. ^ a b Professor Vassilis Demetriades. "WAS THE REMOVAL OF THE MARBLES ILLEGAL?". newmentor.net. ^ a b "The Frieze | Acropolis Museum". www.theacropolismuseum.gr. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Casey, Christopher (30 October 2008). " " Grecian Grandeurs and the Rude Wasting of Old Time": Britain, the Elgin Marbles, and Post-Revolutionary Hellenism". Foundations. Volume III, Number 1. Archived from the original on 13 May 2009 . Retrieved 25 June 2009 . ^ a b c Encyclop...dia Britannica, The Acropolis, p.6/20, 2008, O.Ed. ^ Linda Theodorou; Dana Facaros (2003). Greece (Cadogan Country Guides). Cadogan Guides. p. 55. ISBN 1-86011-898-4. ^ Dyson, Stephen L. (2004). Eugenie Sellers Strong: portrait of an archaeologist. London: Duckworth. ISBN 0-7156-3219-1. ^ Mark Ellingham, Tim Salmon, Marc Dubin, Natania Jansz, John Fisher, Greece: The Rough Guide, Rough Guides, 1992,ISBN 1-85828-020-6, p.39 ^ Chester Charlton McCown, The Ladder of Progress in Palestine: A Story of Archaeological Adventure, Harper & Bros., 1943, p.2 ^ Graham Huggan, Stephan Klasen, Perspectives on Endangerment, Georg Olms Verlag, 2005, ISBN 3-487-13022-X, p.159 ^ Jenifer Neils (5 September 2005). The Parthenon: From Antiquity to the Present. Cambridge University Press. p. 1. ISBN 978-0-521-82093-6. Its iconic status was certainly helped by Lord Elgin's looting of the marbles... ^ "Great Britain. Parliament. House of Commons. Select Committee on the Earl of Elgin's Collection of Sculptured Marbles, Printed for J. Murray, by W. Bulmer and Co., 1816". Google ebook. ^ "The Parthenon Sculptures: The position of the Trustees of the British Museum". British Museum. ^ "The Background of the Removal". Greek Ministry of Culture. ^ "Acropolis, Athens". UNESCO. ^ "Greece wants Parthenon Marbles back, Tsipras tells May". 26 June 2018 . Retrieved 25 December 2018 '' via www.reuters.com. ^ "UNESCO Letter to British Government for the return of Parthenon's Marbles". UNESCO. Archived from the original on 19 October 2014 . Retrieved 19 October 2014 . ^ "UK has not written back to UNESCO Letter" (PDF) . UNESCO. ^ "Elgin Marbles: UK declines mediation over Parthenon sculptures". BBC News . Retrieved 9 April 2015 . ^ Theodor E. Mommsen, The Venetians in Athens and the Destruction of the Parthenon in 1687, American Journal of Archaeology, Vol. 45, No. 4 (October '' December 1941), pp. 544''556 ^ Fichner-Rathus, Lois (2012). Understanding Art (10 ed.). Cengage Learning. p. 305. ISBN 978-1-111-83695-5. ^ Chatziaslani, Kornilia. "Morosini in Athens". Archaeology of the City of Athens . Retrieved 14 August 2012 . ^ Tomkinson, John L. "Venetian Athens: Venetian Interlude (1684''1689)". Anagnosis Books . Retrieved 14 August 2012 . ^ Grafton, Anthony; Glenn W. Most; Salvatore Settis (2010). The Classical Tradition. Harvard University Press. p. 693. ISBN 978-0-674-03572-0. ^ a b c d e f King, Dorothy (21 July 2004). "Elgin Marbles: fact or fiction?". The Guardian. London . Retrieved 25 June 2009 . ^ Encyclop...dia Britannica Online"Elgin Marbles". Encyclop...dia Britannica . Retrieved 18 April 2011 . ^ Mitgang, Herbert (19 August 1989). "Books of The Times; Refueling the Elgin Marbles Debate" . Retrieved 25 December 2018 '' via NYTimes.com. ^ As reported by John E. Simmons in: Museums: A History, chapter 7, Rowman & Littlefield, 07.07.2016 - 326 pages ^ St Clair, William: Lord Elgin and the Marbles. Oxford University Press, US, 3 edition (1998) ^ "firman". newmentor.net. ^ Gibbon, Kate Fitz (2005). Who Owns the Past?: Cultural Policy, Cultural Property, and the Law. Rutgers University Press. p. 115. ^ a b Rudenstine, David. "Did Elgin cheat the Marbles?". The Nation. ^ "How the Parthenon Lost Its Marbles". 28 March 2017 . Retrieved 24 April 2017 . ^ Merryman, John Henry (1985). "Thinking about the Elgin Marbles". Michigan Law Review. 83 (8): 1898''1899. doi:10.2307/1288954. JSTOR 1288954. ^ English translation of the firman "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 10 May 2015 . Retrieved 2014-12-07 . CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) ^ a b Merryman, John Henry (2006). "Whither the Elgin Marbles?". Imperialism, Art And Restitution. New York: Cambridge University Press. ^ Rudenstine, David (1999). "The Legality of Elgin's Taking: A Review Essay of Four Books on the Parthenon Marbles". International Journal of Cultural Property. 8 (1): 356''376. ^ a b Edward Daniel Clarke (1818). Travels in various Countries of Europe, Asia and Africa Part the Second Greece Egypt and the Holy Land Section the Second Fourth Edition Volume the Sixth. London: T. Cadell. p. 223ff. ^ James A. R. Nafziger; Robert Kirkwood Paterson; Alison Dundes Renteln (2010). Cultural Law: International, Comparative, and Indigenous. Cambridge University Press. p. 397. ISBN 978-0-521-86550-0. ^ Brian Fagan (2006). From Stonehenge to Samarkand: An Anthology of Archaeological Travel Writing. Oxford University Press. p. 54. ISBN 978-0-19-516091-8. Clarke and Cripps greatly admired the statue, which weighed over 2 tons (1.8 tonnes) and decided to take it to England. They were lucky to obtain a firman from the governor of Athens with the help of the gifted Italian artist Giovanni Lusieri, who was at the time working for Lord Elgin. ^ a b c d Wroth, Warwick William (1887). "Clarke, Edward Daniel" . In Stephen, Leslie (ed.). Dictionary of National Biography. 10. London: Smith, Elder & Co. p. 422. His chief prize was obtained at Eleusis, whence he succeeded in carrying off the colossal Greek statue (of the fourth or third ...) supposed by Clarke to be ' Ceres ' (Demeter) herself, but now generally called a ' Kistophoros '... statue and with Clarke's other Greek marbles, was wrecked near Beachy Head, not far from the home of Mr. Cripps, whose ... ^ Nigel Spivey (2013). Greek Sculpture. Cambridge University Press. p. 92. ISBN 978-1-107-06704-2. ^ a b c d e John Cuthbert Lawson (2012). Modern Greek Folklore and Ancient Greek Religion: A Study in Survivals. Cambridge University Press. pp. 79''80. ISBN 978-1-107-67703-6. Further, in open defiance of an iconoclastic Church, they retained an old statue of Demeter, and merely prefixing the title 'saint ' to the ... Then, in 1801, two Englishmen, named Clarke and Cripps, armed by the Turkish authorities with a license to plunder, perpetrated an act ... and in spite of a riot among the peasants of Eleusis removed by force the venerable marble; and that which was the visible form of ... ^ Patrick Leigh Fermor (1984). Mani: Travels in the Southern Peloponnese. Penguin Books. p. 180. ISBN 978-0-14-011511-6. uncanonical 'St. Demetra', was Eleusis, the former home of her most sacred rites in the Eleusinian mysteries. ... for prosperous harvests until two Englishmen called Clark and Cripps, armed with a document from the local pasha, carried her off from the heart of the outraged and rioting peasantry, in 1801. ... ^ "Edward Daniel Clarke (1769''1822)". The Fitzwilliam Museum. Archived from the original on 2 March 2014. ^ Adolf Theodor F. Michaelis (1882). Ancient marbles in Great Britain, tr. by C.A.M. Fennell. p. 244. Clarke who in company with J. M. Cripps (also of Jesus College, Cambridge), was lucky enough (AD 1801) to get possession of this colossus in spite of the objections of the people of Eleusis, and to ship it with great trouble. ^ "The story of the Elgin Marbles". International Herald Tribune. 14 July 2004. Archived from the original on 25 October 2011 . Retrieved 25 June 2009 . ^ a b c d "Romancing the Stones". Newsweek . Retrieved 25 June 2009 . ^ Ronalds, B.F. (2016). Sir Francis Ronalds: Father of the Electric Telegraph. London: Imperial College Press. p. 60. ISBN 978-1-78326-917-4. ^ "Sir Francis Ronalds' Travel Journal: Athens". Sir Francis Ronalds and his Family . Retrieved 22 February 2018 . ^ William Wordsworth (1884). The Poetical Works of William Wordsworth. W. Paterson. p. 22. ^ "Stanford Archaeopedia". Archived from the original on 14 March 2008. ^ "The Parthenon". cambridge.org. ^ "History". Archived from the original on 3 February 2009. ^ Hitchens Christopher, The Elgin Marbles: Should They Be Returned to Greece?, 1998, p.viii, ISBN 1-85984-220-8 ^ "Greek Government's Memorandum" (PDF) . Greek Ministry of Culture. ^ Where Gods Yearn for Long-Lost Treasures Archived 16 October 2015 at the Wayback Machine, The New York Times ^ "The Wreck of the Mentor on the Coast of the Island of Kythera and the Operation to Retrieve, Salvage, and Transport the Parthenon Sculptures to London (1802-1805)". Arts Books, Athens. ^ a b "The Parthenon Sculptures". British Museum. ^ Oddy, Andrew, Andrew Oddy The Conservation of Marble Sculptures in the British Museum before 1975 Archived 2 April 2016 at the Wayback Machine, 47(3). ^ Oddy, Andrew, "The Conservation of Marble Sculptures in the British Museum before 1975", in Studies in Conservation, vol. 47, no. 3, (2002), pp. 145''146, Quote: "However, for a short time in the late 1930s copper scrapers were used to remove areas of discolouration from the surface of the Elgin Marbles. New information is presented about this lamentable episode." ^ Oddy, Andrew, "The Conservation of Marble Sculptures in the British Museum before 1975", in Studies in Conservation, vol. 47, no. 3, (2002), p. 146 ^ Jenkins, I., '"Sir, they are scrubbing the Elgin Marbles!" '' some controversial cleanings of the Parthenon Sculptures', Minerva 10(6) (1999) 43''45. ^ Oddy, Andrew, "The Conservation of Marble Sculptures in the British Museum before 1975", in Studies in Conservation, vol. 47, no. 3, (2002), p. 148 ^ Gardner, Ernest Arthur: A Handbook of Greek Sculpture. Published 1896 Macmillan; [1] [permanent dead link ] ^ a b c Oddy, Andrew, "The Conservation of Marble Sculptures in the British Museum before 1975", in Studies in Conservation, vol. 47, no. 3, (2002), p. 149 ^ a b "Museum admits 'scandal' of Elgin Marbles". BBC News Online. 1 December 1999 . Retrieved 3 January 2010 . ^ Paterakis AB. [Untitled]. Studies in Conservation 46(1): 79-80, 2001 [2] ^ mistakes were made at that time Archived 5 June 2008 at the Wayback Machine, The Guardian. ^ a b Kennedy, Maev (1 December 1999). "Mutual attacks mar Elgin Marbles debate". The Guardian. London . Retrieved 29 December 2008 . ^ a b J. M. Cook and John Boardman, "Archaeology in Greece, 1953", The Journal of Hellenic Studies, Vol. 74, (1954), p. 147 ^ a b Hastings, Chris. Revealed: how rowdy schoolboys knocked a leg off one of the Elgin Marbles Archived 7 April 2016 at the Wayback Machine, The Daily Telegraph, 15 May 2005. Retrieved 6 March 2010. ^ a b "The Parthenon Marbles '' Past And Future, Contemporary Review". Contemporary Review. 2001. ^ National Documentation Centre '' Ministry of Culture Archived 5 September 2009 at the Wayback Machine, see History of the Frieze ^ "Springer Proceedings in Physics". United States Geological Survey. 7 November 2005 . Retrieved 20 January 2009 . [dead link ] ^ "Preserving And Protecting Monuments". Springer Berlin Heidelberg. 14 August 2007. Archived from the original on 18 June 2009 . Retrieved 25 June 2009 . ^ Meryle Secrest (1 November 2005). Duveen: A Life in Art. University of Chicago Press. p. 376. ISBN 978-0-226-74415-5. They scraped and scrubbed and polished. They used steel wool, carborundum, hammers and copper chisels. ... But, in 1938, the kinds of tools used to clean the Elgin Marbles were routinely employed. ... The more pleased Duveen became as the workmen banged and scraped away, the more worried officials at the British Museum became. ^ "The Parthenon Marbles (or Elgin Marbles) Restoration to Athens, Greece '' Elgin Marbles Dispute Takes New Twist". Parthenonuk.com. 3 December 2004. Archived from the original on 26 July 2011 . Retrieved 20 January 2009 . ^ "Outdoor transfer of artefacts from the old to the new acropolis museum" . Retrieved 29 December 2008 . [permanent dead link ] ^ "News". New Acropolis Museum . Retrieved 29 December 2008 . ^ "The Parthenon at Athens". www.goddess-athena.org . Retrieved 29 December 2008 . ^ a b c Smith, Helena. Repair of Acropolis started in 1975 - now it needs 20 more years and £47m Archived 17 August 2009 at the Wayback Machine, The Guardian, 10 June 2005. Retrieved 6 March 2010. ^ "Hellenic Ministry of Culture, Special Issues". Archived from the original on 17 October 2007. ^ a b Nicoletta Divari-Valakou, (Director of the Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities of Athens), "Revisiting the Parthenon: National Heritage in the Age of Globalism" in Mille Gabriel & Jens Dahl, (eds.) Utimut : past heritage '' future partnerships, discussions on repatriation in the 21st Century, Copenhagen : International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs and Greenland National Museum & Archives, (2008) ^ "European Parliament Resolution for the return of the Elgin Marbles". Greek Ministry of Culture. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. ^ "Debate of the Elgin Marbles" (PDF) . University of Sydney. ^ Brabant, Malcolm (10 November 2006). "Swede gives back Acropolis marble". BBC News Online . Retrieved 3 January 2010 . ^ a b "Greece reclaims Parthenon sculpture from Germany". CBC News. 5 September 2006. Archived from the original on 27 May 2007. ^ "TA NEA On-line". Tanea.gr. Archived from the original on 4 October 2018 . Retrieved 20 January 2009 . ^ "Parthenon Fragments Won't Go Back Home". Elginism. 1 April 2007. Archived from the original on 15 June 2009 . Retrieved 20 January 2009 . ^ Nicoletta Divari-Valakou, (Director of the Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities of Athens), "Revisiting the Parthenon: National Heritage in the Age of Globalism" in Mille Gabriel & Jens Dahl, (eds.) Utimut : past heritage '' future partnerships, discussions on repatriation in the 21st Century, Copenhagen : International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs and Greenland National Museum & Archives, (2008) passim; (see also Conference summary [permanent dead link ] ) ^ "Bernard Tschumi Architects". arcspace.com. Archived from the original on 28 September 2007. ^ a b "British people tend to want Elgin marbles returned". Yougov.co.uk. 18 October 2014 . Retrieved 24 June 2018 . ^ "Corbyn vows to return Elgin Marbles to Greece if he becomes prime minister". The Independent. ^ Trend, Nick. "Why returning the Elgin Marbles would be madness". The Telegraph . Retrieved 25 December 2018 . ^ "Opinion: The Elgin Marbles should remain in the UK '' and the British Museum's new exhibition proves it". The Independent. 7 May 2018 . Retrieved 25 December 2018 . ^ Foundation, Poetry (25 December 2018). "On Seeing the Elgin Marbles by John Keats". Poetry Foundation . Retrieved 25 December 2018 . ^ "Daniel Hannan: On the Elgin Marbles, as on everything else, Corbyn's assumption is that Britain Is Always In The Wrong". Conservative Home. ^ a b Dream Nation: Enlightenment, Colonization, and the Institution of Modern Greece, Stathis Gourgouris p.142-143 ^ Ruling tightens grip on Parthenon marbles Archived 3 January 2012 at the Wayback Machine, The Guardian, 27 May 2005. Retrieved 5 March 2010. ^ Her Majesty's Attorney General v The Trustees of the British Museum, [2005] EWHC (Ch) 1089 ^ "Article on the relevance of the Feldmann paintings judgment to the Elgin Marbles". Archived from the original on 7 March 2012 . Retrieved 4 January 2019 . ^ "Merryman paper" (PDF) . Archived from the original (PDF) on 22 April 2018 . Retrieved 20 August 2018 . ^ "The Parthenon Sculptures". British Museum. Archived from the original on 5 May 2012. ^ "The Parthenon Sculptures: The Trustees position". British Museum. Archived from the original on 22 November 2019. ^ "Bring Them Back" . Retrieved 17 April 2010 . ^ "The Lovely Stones" . Retrieved 15 August 2016 . ^ "A Modest Proposal" . Retrieved 27 November 2014 . ^ a b "Public and MPs would return the Elgin Marbles!". ipsos-mori.com. Archived from the original on 26 January 2013. ^ "Return Of The Parthenon Marbles". Ipsos MORI. Archived from the original on 9 April 2014 . Retrieved 18 June 2012 . ^ "Opinion poll: Majority of Britons favor return of Parthenon Marbles". stosacucine.pk. Archived from the original on 15 June 2009 . Retrieved 2009-01-20 . ^ "Sculpture from the Parthenon's East Pediment". Smarthistory at Khan Academy. Archived from the original on 4 March 2013 . Retrieved 18 March 2013 . ^ "Figure of a river-god from the west pediment of the Parthenon". britishmuseum.org . Retrieved 8 December 2014 . ^ "Loan to the State Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg". britishmuseum.org. Archived from the original on 31 December 2014 . Retrieved 8 December 2014 . ^ "Greek Statue Travels Again, but Not to Greece". www.nytimes.com . Retrieved 8 December 2014 . Further reading [ edit ] Beard, Mary (2010). The Parthenon (2nd ed.). Profile Books. ISBN 978-1-84668-349-7. Fehlmann, Marc (June 2007). "Casts and Connoisseurs: the early reception of the Elgin Marbles". Apollo: 44''51. Archived from the original on 6 May 2012. Greenfield, Jeanette (2007). The Return of Cultural Treasures (3rd ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-80216-1. Hitchens, Christopher (1987). Imperial Spoils: The Curious Case of the Elgin Marbles. London: Chatto and Windus. ISBN 978-0-8090-4189-3. (with essays by Robert Browning and Graham Binns)Jenkins, Ian (1994). The Parthenon Frieze. London: British Museum Press. ISBN 978-0-7141-2200-7. Jenkins, Tiffany (2016). Keeping Their Marbles: how the treasures of the past ended up in museums '' and why they should stay there. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-965759-9. King, Dorothy (2006). The Elgin Marbles. London: Hutchinson. ISBN 978-0-09-180013-0. Queyrel, Fran§ois (2008). Le Parth(C)non, Un monument dans l'Histoire. Paris: Bartillat. ISBN 978-2-84100-435-5. Archived from the original on 29 September 2008. St Clair, William (1998). Lord Elgin and the Marbles (4th ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-288053-5. External links [ edit ] Parthenon at CurlieAcropolis MuseumThe Parthenon FriezeThe British Museum Parthenon pagesAn interpretation of the meaning of the MarblesLocation of the parts of the Parthenon around the worldGreek pupils demand return of Elgin Marbles BBCPros and cons of restitution [ edit ] The Restitution of the Parthenon MarblesAcropolis of Athens '' One monument, one heritageBritish Committee for the Reunification of the Parthenon Marbles' siteMarbles Reunited: Friends of the British Committee for the Reunification of the Parthenon MarblesThe International Association for the Reunification of the Parthenon SculpturesThe International Organising Committee, Australia '' For The Restitution Of The Parthenon MarblesElginism '' Collection of news articles relating to the Elgin MarblesA guide to the case for the restitution of the Parthenon MarblesEight Reasons: Why the Parthenon Sculptures must be returned to GreeceGillen Wood, "The strange case of Lord Elgin's nose": the cultural context of the early 19th century debate over the marbles, the politics & the aesthetics, imperialism and hellenismInformation about arguments for the marbles to be returned to GreeceMarbles with an Attitude '' a different approach to the cause of reuniting the Parthenon MarblesAn argument for keeping the marbles at the British MuseumTwo memorandums submitted to the UK Parliamentary Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport in 2000.Virtual Representation of The Parthenon Frieze Coordinates: 51°31'²09'"N 0°07'²42'"W >> / >> 51.5192°N 0.1283°W >> / 51.5192; -0.1283
'Hell of a job' to secure deal: Verhofstadt blasts BoJo's Brexit negotiator treating UK & EU as being 'on two different planets' '-- RT UK News
Tue, 18 Feb 2020 11:23
EU chief Brexit co-ordinator Guy Verhofstadt has warned it would be a ''hell of a job'' to secure a successful outcome in negotiations with the UK, hammering his counterparts for their approach to future relationship discussions.
During a joint press conference with London Mayor Sadiq Khan in Brussels on Tuesday, Verhofstadt appeared to take a swipe at recent comments made by David Frost '' the UK's chief Brexit negotiator.
In a speech in the Belgian capital on Monday, Frost had insisted that Britain would not sign up to aligning with EU rules, regulations or any supervisory role with the European Court of Justice.
Also on rt.com 'This guy is a joke': Sadiq Khan triggers Twitter after saying 'heartbroken' Londoners should be able to keep EU citizenship The hardline tone taken by Frost ostensibly riled Verhofstadt, who was adamant that the UK and EU do not diverge too heavily because in reality their markets were close ''physically, geographically.'' He warned that if the UK continues with this approach in the post-Brexit negotiations, then it would be a ''hell of a job'' to reach a successful outcome by the end-of-December deadline.
It's not a good thing that we continue to discuss the future relationship as if the UK and Europe are living on two different planets.
Brussels is pushing for ''dynamic alignment'' on state aid and competition rules, as well as non-regression on environmental, social and workers' standards, but the UK is so far resisting such demands, preferring a Canada-style agreement.
The EU's current agreement with Canada is called the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). The deal does away with most taxes on imports, but tariffs remain on poultry/eggs and meat. There is no dynamic alignment on standards, only ''cooperation'' between the two countries.
Also on rt.com France gets tough with UK, demands BoJo sign up to EU rules in return for Brexit trade deal '' reports Think your friends would be interested? Share this story!
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War on Weed
Buzzkill: Many Public Marijuana Companies Have Just Several Months Worth Of Cash Left
Sun, 16 Feb 2020 23:18
While the idea of marijuana companies has certainly been a hot topic in the public market space - especially since Tilray's epic short squeeze in late 2018 - companies in the sector have been silently burning through their war chests of cash, leaving many just months away from being completely out of cash altogether.
Large Canadian pot producers have a median of just 6.5 months of cash left, according to Bloomberg. This compares to 14.4 months for most U.S. multi-state operators. For operators in both countries, the clock is ticking for them to raise capital and likely cut costs.
Names like Aurora Cannabis are going to have to address the problem sooner, rather than later. The company has the worst cash position of Canadian producers with just 2.3 months of liquidity remaining. Tilray isn't far behind, with just 3.7 months of liquidity.
Aurora announced this week that it was going to be cutting 500 jobs as part of a major cost cutting effort. It also announced that its CEO would be stepping down. Regardless of the changes internally, the reality of the situation is that the company is still going to be in dire need of cash soon.
Another option for cannabis companies that don't want to go to the market and raise cash is to merge or find a partner in the future. Investors may be more likely to deploy capital to marijuana names under better circumstances than traditional equity raises or bond issues. And there has undoubtedly been an appetite for mergers and acquisitions in the space, with names like Altria taking a $1.8 billion stake in Cronos Group in 2019.
Hershel Gerson, chief executive officer of Ello Capital, said: ''I think people are looking for quality management teams that can effectuate a turnaround and have experience operating in a tighter environment than some of these early C-level teams.''
''There's a switch going on related to the management teams that is potentially going to benefit the industry going forward,'' he concluded.
The clock is officially ticking and we'll check back in several months to see just how beneficial these changes really are...
CHAOS in NYC: Crime Soars, Man Arrested 139 Times Thanks Dems, 'Squeegee Men' Return to Midtown | Sean Hannity
Mon, 17 Feb 2020 13:04
A series of new policies including the widely-panned Bail Reform law has caused a spike in crime across New York City since January 1st, with residents seeing 'Squeegee Men' in Times Square for the first time in decades.
''The panhandling window-washers, who became the face of former Mayor Rudy Giuliani's quality-of-life crackdown in the 1990s, were back peddling their spotty services in Manhattan over the weekend,'' reports the New York Post.
Squeegee men are menacing motorists across New York City once more http://t.co/Xl8tffPdVs
'-- New York Post (@nypost) August 9, 2014
Squeegee men, scourge of the '90s, are back in New York City https://t.co/thlblW3umD via @nypmetro
'-- Blue Lives Matter (@RetiredNYCPD) February 17, 2020
''A trio of the in-your-face glass swabbers were spotted plying their trade on 40th Street and Ninth Avenue on Sunday '-- figures from the annals of New York City history that some folks weren't in the mood for,'' adds the Post.
Across town, a man arrested 139 times publicly thanked Democrats and the new bail guidelines for his life of crime.
''Bail reform, it's lit!'' yelled the suspect. ''It's the Democrats! The Democrats know me and the Republicans fear me. You can't touch me! I can't be stopped!''
Read the full report at Fox News.
Cricket burgers a surprise hit in NYC
Thu, 20 Feb 2020 06:57
Normally, bugs in a restaurant kitchen generate calls to the Health Department. But at Antojeria la Popular, a regional Mexican restaurant in Soho, six-legged critters get growing crowds of customers to whip out their cellphones and take pictures of dinner. They want Instagram shots that show them enjoying New York's burgeoning food craze: the Grass-Whopper, a burger-style treat made with pan-fried crickets.
''It's ridiculous,'' gushes the restaurant's director of operations, Marco Shalma. ''People are coming from everywhere to try it!''
When the creepy-sounding sandwich was introduced last week, the restaurant sold about 20 a day, according to Shalma. Now, he says, as many as 100 per day are moving from the kitchen to some of New York's more adventurous palates.
The Grass-Whopper, which is actually made with crickets, is gaining unexpected popularity.''I'm surprised,'' he says. ''People come here specifically to try the burger. We've definitely been busier since it was introduced.''
But Shalma shouldn't be too surprised by what he calls ''people's willingness to get out of their comfort zones.'' No fewer than two bug-centric cookbooks came out this year '-- including one that promises ''40 ways to cook crickets, grasshoppers, ants, water bugs, spiders, centipedes and their kin'' '-- and more are on the way in 2014.
The Grass-Whopper is the brainchild of Mexico City artist Pedro Reyes, a friend of Antojeria la Popular owner Regina Galvanduque.
''I wanted to create something that would make eating insects mainstream,'' says Reyes.
He first served them at a lunch for an international conference at the Queens Museum last month, as a way of showing his vision of food for the future. The nearly 200 attendees '-- an international crowd of artists, filmmakers, university professors and housewives '-- ate up the buggy sliders.
''We served 500 burgers,'' Reyes says. ''All were well-received and eaten.''
Paralegal Jason Ackerman (right), with pal Michael Gindes, is a fan of the bug on a bun. Just don't make him eat a Quarter Pounder or a Whopper. Gabi PorterJason Ackerman, 28, also loved the Grass-Whopper when he dined at Antojeria la Popular one night this week. A paralegal from Long Island, he's tried everything from giraffe to scorpion '-- just don't ask him to eat a Burger King Whopper.
''I don't touch [fast food],'' he says, looking aghast. ''It's poison.''
Ironically, the goal of the Grass-Whopper is to mimic fast food '-- hence the catchy name, which makes it sound as though it's made with grasshoppers, not crickets, though Galvanduque says they're somewhat interchangeable.
''We're just substituting for the beef patty,'' says Galvanduque. ''Everybody has a veggie burger and a turkey burger. Why not a grasshopper burger?''
But, she adds, coming up with the perfect formulation was no easy task. The crickets, which are sourced dead and somewhat dried from a distributor of Mexican food, get fried up in a skillet and topped with soft, white Chihuahua cheese. That helps bind the insects into a patty. Initially, they tried using beans for this purpose, but those tended to ''overwhelm the smoky flavor [of the crickets],'' Galvanduque says.
The patty is then topped with lettuce, tomato and onion, in a nod to traditional American burgers. A squirt of chipotle mayonnaise finishes it off.
''That brings out the Mexican flavor,'' says Galvanduque. ''Plus, [the sauce] contrasts the texture and the crunch, makes it smoother and really works well with crickets.''
The crispy fried Mexican crickets used in the newly popular Grass-Whopper impart a smoky flavor. Gabi PorterShe says that ''in Mexico, crickets are our caviar,'' but some north-of-the-border types don't exactly see these backyard chirpers as gourmet fare.
Tiana Barksdale, 21, who lives in Brooklyn and works in marketing, looked a little sick as she nibbled on a Grass-Whopper earlier this week.
''It has a gritty texture,'' she says. ''I felt legs.''
But it seems Grass-Whoppers have legs not just literally '-- but also figuratively.
Barksdale's sentiments notwithstanding, the burgers are such a hit that Antojeria la Popular plans to keep them on the menu permanently '-- not just for a few months, as originally planned.
Meanwhile, Reyes will be taking them on the road. In February, at the Zona Maco art fair in Mexico, he'll sell them from a grasshopper-shaped cart. Galvanduque hopes to eventually bring the cart to New York and unleash it at street fairs and Food Channel events. But for now, she and Shalma are continually being blown away by the bug burger's reception at the restaurant.
''People want to share the experience,'' Shalma says. ''I had one guy order a platter and then order a second one for the table next to his. Suddenly, all eyes and all conversation were on that table. It turns into a little bit of a dare, and everybody wants to be part of it.''
What's the Grass-Whopper really like? Our restaurant critic breaks it down.
UCLA Won't Use Facial Recognition On Campus Due To Backlash | Digital Trends
Thu, 20 Feb 2020 06:51
UCLA was going to be the first university in the U.S. to use facial recognition, but backlash against the idea has caused the school to reverse course.
Michael Black, UCLA's administrative vice chancellor, wrote a letter to the digital rights group Fight for the Future on Wednesday, February 18, announcing the school's decision to back out of using facial recognition. The school was considering using the technology for restricted areas on campus to identify people with a ''campus exclusion order.''
According to Fight for the Future's post, most of the students at UCLA were against implementing facial-recognition software on their campus and openly spoke against enforcing the technology. UCLA would have been the first college campus to implement such software.
''Facial recognition has no place on college campuses,'' said Evan Greer, deputy director of Fight for the Future. ''Let this be a warning to other schools: if you think you can get away with experimenting on your students and employees with this invasive technology, you're wrong. We won't stop organizing until facial recognition is banned on every campus.''
GettyWhile facial-recognition software is commonplace technology for unlocking our phones or adding fun filters to our faces, many argue that using facial-recognition technology in public places poses a severe threat to our privacy and civil liberties.
In October, Fight for the Future called for a complete ban on facial-recognition surveillance software, specifically for government use. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) also sued the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and the FBI in October for failure to reveal how facial-recognition software is used.
The city of San Francisco banned the use of facial recognition by city agencies, like police departments, in May 2019. The ban was seen as a proactive move to encourage other cities to limit the use of facial recognition in public places.
While UCLA has said no to facial recognition, there are still other colleges across the country that are considering using the technology. Fight for the Future's website says that prominent schools such as Duke University, George Washington University, Princeton, and Yale have either not committed to saying they won't use the technology, or have implied that they will use it.
Fight for the Future argues that facial recognition on college campuses is problematic and is prone to racial and gender bias. The organization said that the technology is more likely to misidentify people of color, more specifically, women of color.
College students around the country are planning a national day of action on March 2 to draw awareness to the possible dangers of facial recognition.
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Fidelity customers freaked out Wednesday when a tech glitch caused their 401k balances to drop to 0 - MarketWatch
Wed, 19 Feb 2020 21:05
By Alessandra Malito
Published: Feb 19, 2020 3:41 pm ET
'Could you imagine if you went to bed last night with $1 million in your Fidelity accounts and woke up this morning to $0?' Fidelity Investments customers were experiencing ''intermittent technical issues'' on Wednesday.
Some Fidelity Investments customers were in for a nightmare scenario on Wednesday: when they logged into their online portals, they saw they had no balance '-- or, in some cases, no account at all.
The Boston-based financial services company is fielding complaints on Twitter from users who say they can't see their retirement accounts, or their other investment or checking accounts. The problem appears to have started in the morning, though the company was still responding to Twitter users as of 3 p.m. EST.
The company said some clients were experiencing intermittent technical issues and that they have now been resolved. There was also a service alert on the site. ''We are experiencing website difficulties,'' it said. ''Try logging back in, and if the problem persists, please try again later. We apologize for any inconvenience.''
Fidelity has 30 million individual investors, 29.6 million brokerage accounts and $7.8 trillion in total customer assets, as of Sept. 30, 2019, according to the company. It manages more than $1.5 trillion in retirement assets.
Last week Fidelity reported that its retirement accounts, on average, performed well in the fourth quarter. The plan sponsor said more employers are automatically enrolling their employees in retirement accounts, and automatically escalating their contributions yearly, too. Average 401(k), 403(b) and individual retirement account balances increased in the last quarter, as well.
More from MarketWatch See original version of this story
Going to the Spa
Celebrities that have Lyme disease and their experience - Insider
Mon, 17 Feb 2020 09:17
Lyme disease, the bacterial tick-borne illness that often comes with a host of vague, mysterious symptoms which makes it difficult to properly diagnose.Avril Lavigne went public with her Lyme battle in 2015 and is now an advocate for those with the illness.Justin Bieber recently spoke about his struggles with Lyme disease.Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.In recent years, the medical spotlight has increasingly been shining on Lyme disease, the bacterial tick-borne illness that often comes with a host of vague, mysterious symptoms.
The widespread illness is often considered the "great imitator" because its symptoms typically mimic other health conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, multiple sclerosis, and others.
Getting a proper Lyme disease diagnosis remains challenging because testing is often inconclusive, potentially leaving those impacted to suffer for weeks, months, or years before being correctly treated.
Although treatments do exist, there is no cure.
Here are 15 celebrities who have spoken out about their experiences with Lyme disease, helping to shed light on this mysterious tick-borne illness.
Justin Bieber recently spoke about his struggles with Lyme disease.
Justin Bieber said it's been a "rough couple of years." Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images On Wednesday, the singer wrote on Instagram that it has been a "rough couple of years" battling the disease.
Justin Bieber explained that, for a long time, people speculated that he was "on meth," but failed to realize that he'd actually recently been diagnosed with Lyme disease.
He said that he'd also been struggling with "a serious case of chronic mono which affected my skin, brain function, energy, and overall health."
The musician wrote that he would talk more about his battle with Lyme in his upcoming YouTube documentary series called "Justin Bieber: Seasons."
His wife, Hailey Bieber, also posted on Twitter that she doesn't want people to downplay the severity of this disease.
"For those who are trying to downplay the severity of Lyme disease," she wrote. "Please do your research and listen to the stories of people who have suffered with it for years. Making fun of and belittling a disease you don't understand is never the way, all it takes is educating yourself."
Avril Lavigne went public with her Lyme battle in 2015 and is now an advocate for those with the illness.
She said the disease made her feel achy. Neilson Barnard/Getty Images Lavigne opened up about her struggle with Lyme disease in a June 2015 interview with "Good Morning America," revealing that she'd been bedridden in October 2014.
She called that the "worst time" in her life after seeing specialists and doctors who misdiagnosed her with chronic fatigue syndrome and depression.
In October 2018, the "Complicated" singer told Billboard she felt unwell during her 2014 tour. She recalled thinking, "I'm achy, I'm fatigued, I cannot get the f--- out of bed '-- what the f--- is wrong with me?" as her symptoms progressively got worse.
During one of her darkest days battling with side effects of the disease, Lavigne said she wrote her 2018 song "Head Above Water," telling Billboard, "I had accepted that I was dying ... And literally under my breath, I was like, 'God, help me keep my head above the water.'"
Lavigne has also started the Avril Lavigne Foundation, which aims to bring awareness to those dealing with Lyme and other serious illnesses and disabilities.
She told "GMA" viewers that might be suffering that "there is hope. Lyme disease does exist and you can get better."
Ben Stiller also had trouble getting an accurate diagnosis.
He said he's symptom-free now. Getty/Matt Winkelmeyer In 2011, Stiller told The Hollywood Reporter about his Lyme disease saying, "I got it in Nantucket, Massachusetts, a couple of years ago. My knee became inflamed and they couldn't figure out what it was, then they found out it was Lyme."
He says he's now symptom-free but notes that Lyme will never leave his system.
Shania Twain has said her battle with Lyme has impacted her career.
She said she was bitten by a tick in Virginia. Gerardo Mora/Getty Images Shania Twain dominated the pop and country charts in the 1990s and early 2000s, but by 2004, she'd contracted Lyme disease, which she attributes to issues with her vocal cords.
In 2017, she told Canadian news outlet CBC that she was bitten by a tick when on tour in Norfolk, Virginia. She said she saw a tick fall of her and she immediately began to see troubling Lyme disease symptoms pop up.
"I was on tour, so I almost fell off the stage every night. I was very, very dizzy and didn't know what was going on. It's just one of those things you don't suspect," she added.
It took Twain years to figure out that she had dysphonia, a neurological disorder of the vocal cords in which muscles can spasm and impact speech, which she attributes to the Lyme bacteria.
She now warns others about the disease.
"[Lyme] is very dangerous because you have a very short window to catch it and then treat it and then even when you treat it, you could still very well be left with effects, which is what happened to me," Twain told CBC. "It's a debilitating disease and extremely dangerous. You can't play around with it, so you've got to check yourself for ticks."
In 2017, she prepared for a musical comeback and began advocating on behalf of fellow individuals with Lyme disease, telling E! News it's "such a silent evil thing."
Kelly Osbourne went undiagnosed for nearly a decade.
She said she likely got the disease in 2004. AP The former reality star has been open about her addiction to prescription drugs, but in her 2017 book "There Is No F*cking Secret: Letters From a Badass Bitch," Osbourne reveals she'd unknowingly been battling Lyme disease for years, too.
She explained that her mom, Sharon, purchased her dad, Ozzy, a reindeer sanctuary for their home in England for his 56th birthday in 2004. She said shortly after she was bitten by a tick, which Ozzy burned off of her.
For years after, she experienced "traveling pain," ranging from stomach aches to a sore throat.
Osbourne revealed that doctors simply kept giving her prescriptions even though she suspected she was battling Lyme. An alternative medicine specialist finally tested her and after her positive diagnosis, she flew to Germany for stem cell treatment.
Osbourne wrote that she was initially afraid to speak publicly about Lyme disease because "it seems like the trendy disease to have right now, and I'm tired of seeing sad celebrities play the victim on the cover of weekly mags," but that she now acts as her own health advocate.
Ally Hilfiger battled the disease for decades and chronicled her journey in a memoir.
She wrote a book about her experience. Neilson Barnard/Getty Images Osbourne is not the only reality star to deal with Lyme disease '-- the former "Rich Girls" star went misdiagnosed for a long time after being bit by a tick at 7 years old in 1992.
In her book "Bite Me: How Lyme Disease Stole My Childhood, Made Me Crazy, and Almost Killed Me," Hilfiger chronicles her battle with the invisible illness and the all-too-visible symptoms that followed.
In 2016, she told Health magazine, "I remember getting bit by a tick and my parents sent it off to the labs. And we got inconclusive tests back."
For 10 years, she says she multiple doctors gave her a variety of diagnoses from fibromyalgia to rheumatoid arthritis.
The emotional battle is just as hard as the physical one, according to the fashion designer.
"One of the biggest issues I think a lot of Lyme sufferers have is that some days you can have good days. And other days you can feel really feel horribly and not be able to get out of bed," she told Health. "And sometimes you start to doubt whether or not you're really feeling what your feeling, if that makes any sense. And you feel disbelieved."
These days, she's doing much better, telling the magazine that finally receiving the correct diagnosis felt like she "won the lottery."
In 2014, Debbie Gibson revealed she'd been privately battling the illness.
She said she began experiencing symptoms in 2013. Getty/Rodin Eckenroth After fans expressed their concern about her appearance in social media photos, Debbie Gibson took to her blog in April 2014 to give an update on her health, revealing that she'd begun experiencing symptoms in early 2013.
She said she first felt anxiety and sensitivity to certain foods.
Then, she said she began feeling unique pain and muscle fatigue she'd never had before. She added, "I got tested for everything under the sun, though it did not occur to me, or my West Coast doctors, to test for Lyme. It is typically an East Coast thing."
Gibson began losing weight and experiencing symptoms of depression, adding, "I could barely walk. I started feeling numbness and tingling in my hands and feet, which is very disconcerting for a pianist and dancer, to say the least. Night sweats, chills, fever, nerve tremors, nightmares, and migraine headaches were at a fever pitch without a minute of relief."
After a long journey to find the correct diagnosis, the "I Love You" singer was able to begin treatment. But, she is still aware that she has to take care of herself and her health.
She joined the cast of "Dancing with the Stars" in 2017, telling People magazine, "I can't be cavalier with my body. I can't just push myself without thinking what happens next. [Lyme Disease] can affect my stamina," she said. "I've always been in tune with my body. But the last few years have helped me learn where I can push my limits. I'm going to choose to think of that as an advantage."
Alec Baldwin opened up about his years-long battle with Lyme in 2017.
At one point, he thought the disease was going to kill him. David Buchan/Getty Images During a 2011 interview with The New York Times, the "Saturday Night Live" actor mentioned that he had chronic Lyme disease.
Alec Baldwin didn't mention his diagnosis again until 2017 when he spoke onstage at an event benefiting the Bay Area Lyme Foundation.
According to People magazine, he told the crowd he'd been bitten by a tick 17 years prior and was bitten again a few years later.
"I got the classic Lyme disease (symptoms) for each successive summer, for five years, every August, like [these] black lung, flu-like symptoms, sweating to death in my bed," he said.
"The first time was the worst of all," he recalled. "And I really thought, 'This is it, I'm not going to live.' ... I was lying in bed saying, 'I'm going to die of Lyme disease,' in my bed.'"
Now, he says he and his wife, Hilaria, remain vigilant about checking their dogs and children for ticks.
Jamie-Lynn Sigler battled Lyme disease before learning she also suffered from multiple sclerosis.
She's now an advocate for those with chronic illness. Getty/Jon Kopaloff When Jamie-Lynn Sigler was 19 years old and starring on HBO's hit "The Sopranos," she learned she had Lyme disease.
Shortly after, in 2016, she told People magazine, "I was diagnosed with MS (multiple sclerosis) when I was 20 years old. It was a shock, it was surprising."
"I had been diagnosed with Lyme disease the year before, so to get the diagnosis was confusing, and also strange because I didn't feel sick. I didn't feel that anything was wrong."
She'd taken antibiotics, a standard course of treatment for early-stage Lyme, "and things had started to go away," she shared.
Sigler now advocates on behalf of those with chronic illnesses.
Daryl Hall was diagnosed with Lyme disease in 2004 and has opened up about his experiences.
He was diagnosed with multiple tick-borne diseases. Getty/ Eugene Gologursky In 2005, the duo Hall and Oates canceled a tour, revealing that Daryl Hall had been diagnosed with Lyme disease.
In 2011, he opened up about his experiences, explaining how he contracted the disease and his journey to health.
"I got it the way everybody gets it," he said. "I've lived in the country for many, many years ... it's a hotbed of deer and other wildlife animals. I'd been bitten over the years so many times and I think it finally reached a critical mass and I crashed and burned about five years ago."
He experienced a wide range of ailments, from allergies and fever-like symptoms to aches, pains, and tremors. After being tested, he learned he had "six or seven tick-borne diseases."
Hall started to research on his own and saw a Lyme literate doctor who helped treat him.
He advises individuals with constantly changing symptoms "to get tested for Lyme disease because the symptoms mimic so many other things."
Thal­a Mottola began feeling ill during her first pregnancy in 2007 and became unable to care for her newborn daughter.
She said the disease caused her a lot of pain. Getty/Dimitrios Kambouris Thal­a Mottola spent most of the 1990s and early 2000s dominating the Latin music charts, but in 2007, at the end of her first pregnancy with her daughter, Sabrina, the "No Me Acuerdo" singer began feeling unwell.
By the time she gave birth, she was unknowingly dealing with a full-blown case of Lyme disease.
In her 2011 memoir "Growing Stronger," she explained that doctors tried to convince her she was suffering from postpartum depression, writing, "I continued to feel like I had been run over by a truck that had dragged me for a thousand miles, along with a steamroller that had crushed every last bone in my body. I literally thought I was dying."
When she found the energy to research online, she started seeing Lyme specialists, eventually undergoing two years of "heavy treatments."
Fortunately, her treatment seems to have helped with some symptoms as she is back to releasing albums and touring around the world.
Kris Kristofferson experienced several misdiagnoses before being treated for Lyme.
He was diagnosed just before his 80th birthday. Getty/Rick Diamond In 2016, the music legend and his wife revealed in a Rolling Stone interview that he'd been diagnosed with Lyme disease just shy of his 80th birthday.
His wife, Lisa, told the magazine she believed he'd been bitten by a tick while filming the 2006 movie "Disappearances" in Vermont.
"He was taking all these medications for things he doesn't have, and they all have side effects," she shared, talking about medications he was taking for depression and Alzheimer's disease.
After three weeks of Lyme disease treatment, Lisa noted that "All of a sudden he was back," adding that he still struggles some days but "some days he's perfectly normal and it's easy to forget that he is even battling anything."
Kathleen Hanna battled Lyme disease for over a decade before being properly diagnosed.
She said sometimes her symptoms were debilitating. Getty/Dia Dipasupil Kathleen Hanna stepped away from her band, Le Tigre, in 2005, citing personal health issues as the reason for her hiatus.
But what she didn't know then was that she was struggling with chronic Lyme disease'-- the musician finally received her diagnosis in late 2010.
She experienced debilitating symptoms over the course of several years that made her unable to move or speak at times and she began to heal after two years of "intensive therapy," according to The New York Times.
After multiple misdiagnoses '-- from multiple sclerosis to lupus and panic attacks '-- she saw a 2008 documentary called "Under Our Skin" about the unspoken Lyme epidemic and realized that a tick bite she got in 2005 could still be causing her health problems, even though she'd been treated with a standard course of antibiotics for Lyme disease at the time.
In 2013, Hanna returned to the public eye and in 2016 she formed a new band, Julie Ruin.
Yolanda Hadid is one of the most outspoken celebrity voices spreading awareness of the disease.
She's been a public advocate for those with Lyme. Getty/Rob Kim Yolanda Hadid was a cast member on "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" in 2012, but viewers didn't know that behind the scenes she was struggling with symptoms of chronic Lyme disease.
She was finally diagnosed in 2015 and began publicly advocating for those with Lyme while trying to regain her own health, noting that she suffered from debilitating neurological and physical symptoms.
She has traveled around the world in search of a cure and she's chronicled some of the recovery process on the Bravo reality series.
Eventually, she left the show, choosing to focus on her recovery and advocating on behalf of others also struggling.
She also penned a memoir called "Believe Me: My Battle with the Invisible Disability of Lyme Disease."
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Trump Stuns Grieving Britons: Meet the Suspect in Your Son's Death - The New York Times
Wed, 19 Feb 2020 10:07
At the White House, the parents of Harry Dunn were told that the woman they want to hold accountable for his death in a car crash was in an adjoining room.
Video The parents of Harry Dunn, 19, who was killed in a car crash in England in August, rejected an offer from President Trump to meet a suspect in their son's death. Credit Credit... T.J. Kirkpatrick for The New York Times WASHINGTON '-- President Trump said on Wednesday that he had tried unsuccessfully to arrange a White House meeting between the parents of a teenager killed in an August crash in Britain and the American driver involved in the crash.
The parents, Charlotte Charles and Tim Dunn, met with Mr. Trump in the Oval Office Tuesday evening but balked when he said that Anne Sacoolas, the wife of an American diplomat whom British police are seeking for her involvement in the crash, was in a nearby room and wanted to meet with them.
''I offered to bring the person in question in,'' the president told reporters at the White House on Wednesday. ''They weren't ready for it. But I did offer.''
The attempted intervention added another painful twist to a case that has enraged Britons in the weeks since Ms. Sacoolas, 42, claimed diplomatic immunity and left the country in the days after the crash that killed Harry Dunn, 19. Since then, British and American officials have said that Ms. Sacoolas's claim to immunity is no longer relevant since she has returned home.
Shortly after her 15-minute meeting with the president, Ms. Charles said Mr. Trump proposed that she and her husband meet with Ms. Sacoolas, but Mr. Dunn said that the meeting felt ''rushed'' and that it would not have gone well.
''The bombshell was dropped not soon after we walked in the room,'' Ms. Charles told reporters. ''We would still love to meet with her, but it has to be on our terms and on U.K. soil.''
Ms. Charles added that Ms. Sacoolas ''needs to come back and face the justice system.''
In talking to reporters on Wednesday, Mr. Trump said he had arranged the meeting at the request of Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain.
''He asked me if I'd do that, and I did it,'' Mr. Trump said.
But an official in Mr. Johnson's office, speaking on the condition of anonymity to describe a private conversation, denied that the prime minister had suggested that Mr. Trump arrange the meeting in the way it was eventually formatted. The president brought up Ms. Sacoolas when the two leaders spoke last week, but no plans were completed.
''The prime minister asked the president to do all he could to help resolve this tragic issue,'' a spokeswoman for Mr. Johnson said in a statement ''The president agreed to work on trying to find a way forward.''
The end result was not what either side had envisioned.
Ms. Sacoolas was said to be ''devastated by this tragic incident,'' according to a statement made on her behalf by her lawyer, Amy Jeffress. ''No loss compares to the death of a child and Anne extends her deepest sympathy to Harry Dunn's family,'' the statement said.
A person familiar with what transpired said Ms. Sacoolas had wanted to meet privately with the family, but was directed to come to the White House to participate in Mr. Trump's plan.
Image Charlotte Charles, the mother of Harry Dunn, with her husband, Bruce Charles, center, and Harry's father, Tim Dunn, right, in Washington on Tuesday. Credit... Manuel Balce Ceneta/Associated Press Mark Stephens, a lawyer for the Dunn family, called the president's surprise offer of a meeting ''a gargantuan miscalculation,'' and suggested that the meeting had been orchestrated for the benefit of the news media.
Mr. Stephens told reporters that the meeting was attended by ''the head of U.S. spying, '' and later clarified in a phone interview on Wednesday that he was referring to Robert C. O'Brien, the president's national security adviser.
''This O'Brien had effectively curated the idea that there would be a confrontation between the Dunns and Mrs. Sacoolas and that the press would film it,'' Mr. Stephens said.
White House officials denied the claim that the meeting had been arranged with the idea that the news media would capture it, and reiterated that the British prime minister had helped hatch the plan.
''The president met with members of the Dunn family to personally offer his condolences for the loss of their son,'' Mr. Trump's press secretary, Stephanie Grisham, said in a statement. ''His intent was to do all he could to comfort the victims of a tragic accident. This was at the request of Prime Minister Boris Johnson.''
Apart from expressing anguish at the family's loss through her lawyer, Ms. Sacoolas has not spoken out publicly about the crash, which occurred on Aug. 27 in Brackley, a town in Northamptonshire about 60 miles northwest of London near a Royal Air Force base that hosts a United States Air Force communication station.
The Northamptonshire police said it believed that Ms. Sacoolas had been driving on the wrong side of the road when her vehicle collided with a motorcycle ridden by Harry Dunn.
After the accident, the authorities said, Ms. Sacoolas told officers that she had no plans to travel abroad. But she abruptly left Britain, claiming diplomatic immunity and setting off an international uproar. On Sept. 5, Britain made a formal request for a waiver of diplomatic immunity to the United States Embassy in London. It was declined eight days later.
Despite being caught off guard by the president's suggestion for an unplanned meeting with Ms. Sacoolas, Harry Dunn's parents appeared grateful for Mr. Trump's interest in the case.
Ms. Charles said that the president was ''very gracious'' and ''very welcoming,'' and that though he did not suggest that Ms. Sacoolas would return to Britain, he said he would now ''push to look at this from a different angle.''
''I think he generally will look to try and resolve this in a way to help us,'' Mr. Dunn told reporters.
Last week, Mr. Trump described the death as ''a terrible accident,'' adding that it was ''a very, very complex issue because we're talking about diplomatic immunity.''
He also expressed understanding for Ms. Sacoolas, suggesting that he himself had driven on the wrong side of the road in Britain. On Wednesday, the president again expressed his sympathy for Ms. Sacoolas, whom he said had been confused by British driving laws.
''I believe it was going down the wrong way because that happens in Europe,'' Mr. Trump told reporters. ''The roads are opposite. And she said that's what happened. That happens to a lot of people, by the way.''
The president said that he had a ''beautiful'' meeting with the ''desperately sad'' parents, but that his involvement in the matter was through.
''Now they say they only want to meet if they're in the U.K.,'' he said. ''And that'll be up to them.''
Katie Rogers reported from Washington, and Iliana Magra from London. Adam Goldman contributed reporting.
Tesla cars tricked into accelerating up to 85 MPH in a 35 MPH zone using just a strip of tape | Daily Mail Online
Thu, 20 Feb 2020 06:49
A Tesla vehicle has been tricked into spontaneously accelerating over the speed limit with just a simply strip of tape.
Researchers at McAfee placed a two-inch long piece of electrical tape horizontally across the middle of the '3' on a 35 mph speed limit sign, causing the car's camera system to misread it as 85 mph.
When the 2016 Tesla Model X drove toward the altered sign in cruise control it automatically accelerated to 50 mph before being stopped by the driver '' the same occurred in a 2016 Model S.
The findings come just a month after Tesla found itself under investigation after 127 complaints were sent to the National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) claiming certain models experienced 'sudden unintended acceleration'.
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Researchers at McAfee placed a two-inch long piece of electrical tape horizontally across the middle of the '3' on a 35 mph (left) speed limit sign, causing the car's camera system to misread it as 85 mph (right)
The flaw is said to have caused 110 crashes and 52 injuries, with many drivers stating the incident occurred when they attempted to park in a garage or at a curb.
However, Tesla has noted that 'the car accelerates if, and only if, the driver told it to do so, and it slows or stops when the driver applies the brake'.
Although McAfee's experiment was done by human interference, it does highlight a weakness of machine learning systems used in automated driving.
'By making a tiny sticker-based modification to our speed limit sign, we were able to cause a targeted misclassification of the MobilEye camera on a Tesla and use it to cause the vehicle to autonomously speed up to 85 mph when reading a 35 mph sign,' McAfee shared on its website.
'For safety reasons, the video demonstration shows the speed start to spike and TACC accelerate on its way to 85, but given our test conditions, we apply the brakes well before it reaches target speed.'
'It is worth noting that this is seemingly only possible on the first implementation of TACC when the driver double taps the lever, engaging TACC.'
'If the misclassification is successful, the autopilot engages 100% of the time'.
When the 2016 Tesla Model X drove toward the altered sign in cruise control it automatically accelerated to 50 mph before being stopped by the driver '' the same occurred in a 2016 Model S
McAfee noted that it shared its discovery with Tesla and MobilEye EyeQ3, the company that provides the Tesla 2016 models with their camera systems, last year.
However, MIT Tech Review said Tesla did not respond to a request for comment on the research.
The firm did say it would not be fixing the issues uncovered by the McAfee researchers.
And MobilEye EyeQ3 dismissed the research altogether.
A representative told MIT Tech Review that the altered sign could have easily been misread by a human and said the cameras in those specific Tesla models are not designed for fully autonomous driving.
The team used a Model X in one part of the experiment
McAfee noted that it shared its discovery with Tesla and MobilEye EyeQ3, the company that provides the Tesla 2016 models with their camera systems, last year. However, MIT Tech Review said Tesla did not respond to a request for comment on the research
McAfee noted that MobilEye camera systems are used in more than 40 million vehicles today.
McAfee added a two-inch strip of electrical tape to a 35 mph traffic sign to elongate the '3'.
'Even to a trained eye, this hardly looks suspicious or malicious, and many who saw it didn't realize the sign had been altered at all,' McAfee wrote.
They also showed a Model S will also misread an altered sign
'This tiny piece of sticker was all it took to make the MobilEye camera's top prediction for the sign to be 85 mph.'
The demonstration video shows the Tesla driving towards the altered sign and the speed-o-meter instantly starts accelerating until the driver hits the breaks at 50 mph.
Tesla has come under fire before for its technology accelerating over the speed limit, which has caused accidents and even deaths.
The National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) has received numerous complaints about the faulty technology and is now investigating the firm.
Tesla has come under fire before for its technology accelerating over the speed limit, which has caused accidents and even deaths. The National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) has received numerous complaints about the faulty technology and is now investigating the firm. Pictured is an incident in 2018 in Mountain View, California where a Tesla electric SUV crashed into a barrier after it suddenly accelerated
Three years ago, news spread of a brand-new Tesla Model X SUV when it suddenly accelerated at 'maximum speed' by itself, jumped a curb and slammed into the side of a shopping mall. The owner of the Model X said the vehicle was only five days old and his wife, who was behind the wheel at the time of the incident, had not activated any self-driving features at the time of the crash.
In one complaint, a driver said a 2015 Tesla Model S 85D in California was closed and locked when he claimed 'a few moments later the vehicle started accelerating forward towards the street and crashed into a parked car'.
A Tesla driver in Avondale, Pennsylvania, was pulling into a parking spot at an elementary school when the vehicle accelerated on its own, the complaint said adding: 'It went over a curb and into a chain link fence.'
Another complaint said a Tesla driver in Andover, Massachusetts was approaching her garage door 'when the car suddenly lurched forward: and 'went through the garage door destroying two garage doors'.
The Tesla stopped when it hit the garage's concrete wall.
The flaw is said to have caused 110 crashes and 52 injuries, with many drivers stating the incident occurred when they attempted to park in a garage or at a curb. Others claimed the sudden acceleration happened while in traffic or when using driver assistance systems
In October, the agency said it was reviewing whether Tesla should have recalled 2,000 of its electric cars in May instead of issuing a software upgrade to fix a potential defect that could have resulted in battery fires in Model S and Model X vehicles from the 2012-2019 model years.
Three years ago, news spread of a brand-new Tesla Model X SUV when it suddenly accelerated at 'maximum speed' by itself, jumped a curb and slammed into the side of a shopping mall.
The owner of the Model X, Puzant Ozbag, said the vehicle was only five days old and his wife, who was behind the wheel at the time of the incident, had not activated any self-driving features at the time of the crash.
Although not listed as an incident in the petition, a Tesla Model X crashed on Highway 1010 in Mountain View back in March 2018 that left one dead.
Walter Huang was traveling down the road when his vehicle suddenly accelerated a few seconds before the crash while driving in autopilot.
HOW DO SELF-DRIVING CARS 'SEE'?Self-driving cars often use a combination of normal two-dimensional cameras and depth-sensing 'LiDAR' units to recognise the world around them.
However, others make use of visible light cameras that capture imagery of the roads and streets.
They are trained with a wealth of information and vast databases of hundreds of thousands of clips which are processed using artificial intelligence to accurately identify people, signs and hazards.
In LiDAR (light detection and ranging) scanning - which is used by Waymo - one or more lasers send out short pulses, which bounce back when they hit an obstacle.
These sensors constantly scan the surrounding areas looking for information, acting as the 'eyes' of the car.
While the units supply depth information, their low resolution makes it hard to detect small, faraway objects without help from a normal camera linked to it in real time.
In November last year Apple revealed details of its driverless car system that uses lasers to detect pedestrians and cyclists from a distance.
The Apple researchers said they were able to get 'highly encouraging results' in spotting pedestrians and cyclists with just LiDAR data.
They also wrote they were able to beat other approaches for detecting three-dimensional objects that use only LiDAR.
Other self-driving cars generally rely on a combination of cameras, sensors and lasers.
An example is Volvo's self driving cars that rely on around 28 cameras, sensors and lasers.
A network of computers process information, which together with GPS, generates a real-time map of moving and stationary objects in the environment.
Twelve ultrasonic sensors around the car are used to identify objects close to the vehicle and support autonomous drive at low speeds.
A wave radar and camera placed on the windscreen reads traffic signs and the road's curvature and can detect objects on the road such as other road users.
Four radars behind the front and rear bumpers also locate objects.
Two long-range radars on the bumper are used to detect fast-moving vehicles approaching from far behind, which is useful on motorways.
Four cameras - two on the wing mirrors, one on the grille and one on the rear bumper - monitor objects in close proximity to the vehicle and lane markings.
Puff Bar Disposable Device | Over 20 Flavors | Free Shipping
Thu, 20 Feb 2020 06:25
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Puff Bar Vape: Flavored JUUL copycat's origins are "cloudier than most"
Thu, 20 Feb 2020 06:22
In his YouTube video, vape reviewer ''thechasesmokes'' sits encircled by friends in a bedroom.
He holds up a white Priority Mail envelope and dumps out 20 brightly colored flash-drive shaped vapes on the floor. He picks one up, reading aloud flavors for the camera: Cafe Latte, Lychee Ice, Watermelon, Strawberry ... the list goes on.
''This is like the new JUUL,'' the YouTuber says, holding up a Cafe Latte pen and taking a hit. Soon after, he moves on to try the ''most popular demanded flavor,'' a bright yellow ''Banana Ice.''
''This reminds me of the little banana candies you get in the mall,'' he says. ''Try this shit.''
A few years ago, this would have been a pretty standard scene '-- a typical vape ''sesh'' wherein a reviewer tries out dozens of flavors of an e-cigarette and posts their opinions online. But at this period in vaping's short history, it comes as something of a shock. Flavored vape pens in the style of JUUL were supposed to be a thing of the past, as the last 18 months have proved to be a legal reckoning for e-cigarettes.
In 2018, scientists began to realize just how popular vaping was with teens, as record numbers picked up the habit. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) 2019 numbers estimate that 27.5 percent of high schoolers had used an e-cigarette in the past 30 days.
The situation came to a head in July 2019, when a vaping-related illness called EVALI (E-cigarette or Vaping Product Use-Associated Lung Injury) emerged. EVALI has sickened 2,758 people as of February 4. The median age of those people is 24 years old. The illness was connected to THC vapes sold illegally through Instagram, Twitter, and elsewhere, but it created widespread pushback against all vape products.
Puff Bar disposable vapes, bought in New York City.Inverse
Due to their popularity with teenagers, flavored vapes fell directly into regulator's crosshairs. On February 6, the Trump administration's partial ban on selling flavored vape products went into effect. Pod-based vape companies, like JUUL, are now banned from selling any flavored pods, aside from menthol and tobacco.
The fall of JUUL coincides with the rise of something else: the disposable e-cigarette, and one company has risen above the rest, albeit under hazy legal circumstances. That company is Puff Bar, which sells vapes that come in bright, candy-colored boxes topped with a fluffy cloud logo '' the same company that made the Cafe Latte-flavored vape held up in the YouTube video. The video had over 130,000 views, but the user has since removed it.
Puff Bar's origins are ''cloudier than most,'' says Mark Anton, the executive director of the Smoke-Free Alternatives Trade Association (SFATA), a national, pro-vaping advocacy group. He tells Inverse that he has heard of Puff Bar, but the company has made no contact with the trade group.
Inverse contacted vapor trade groups, people working in the vape industry, social media accounts claiming to represent Puff Bar, academics studying the products, labs, and law firms that all have ties to Puff Bar online.
They offered a similar response: Despite the popularity, no one knows who, exactly, is behind Puff Bar. Those who claim to represent the company are unwilling to provide clarification about how the company emerged from obscurity.
Puff Bar capitalizes on the factors that made JUUL so appealing '' the discreet design and flavors '' but operates unbound by the same regulations and public scrutiny that brought JUUL down.
The rise of Puff Bar Puff Bars look like JUUL's devices, but they advertise an even more diverse array of flavors than JUUL ever did, including ''Blue Razz'' and an ''OMG'' flavor. Its newest product is ''Puff Krush,'' which is a plastic sleeve that fits on top of the vape and infuses it with extra flavoring that ''takes your vape experience to a whole new level,'' according to the company's website.
Puff Bars exist in a ''loophole'' in the FDA's flavor ban, according to a New York Times story on the popularity of Puff Bar among teens. Nationwide, the interest in the products is clear. Google searches for Puff Bar, Puff Bar near me, and Puff Bar flavors have risen consistently since late 2019.
Google trends search data for "Puff Bar" have risen consistently since the end of 2019.
Phillip Clapp is a toxicologist at the University of North Carolina who has studied e-cigarettes since 2016. Increasing numbers of students in his vaping surveys report using brands like Bidi Sticks and Puff Bar, Clapp says. They are so popular that he went to a vape shop near campus and purchased them himself to test in his lab.
''It was this sudden shift,'' Clapp tells Inverse. ''Everybody was using JUUL, and now everybody is using something that isn't a JUUL.''
"Everybody was using JUUL, and now everybody is using something that isn't a JUUL.''Puff Bar exists, but it's not a legal alternative to JUUL's flavored pods, says Cristine Delnevo, the director of the Center for Tobacco Studies at Rutgers University. In January 2020, Delnevo authored a letter in the journal Tobacco Control that describes the rise of disposable e-cigarettes.
After August 8, 2016, the FDA required that all new e-cigarette manufacturers receive premarket approval before they sell their products. Existing manufacturers have a deadline of May 12, 2020 to file their products with the FDA.
''When we saw these products, we went on the FDA site to see which products had been given market authorization. We could not find any of these disposable 'pod mods' listed there,'' Delnevo tells Inverse.
''Without the marketing authorization, these products are on the market illegally,'' she says.
Puff Bar's shady origins are indicative of a new trend on the fringes of the e-cigarette industry: small companies that pop up, discretely sell their products, and vaporize when they finally fall under the FDA's gaze, Delnevo says.
''There is this kind of whack-a-mole game where you have these small companies that pop up and they try to maximize their sale for as long as possible,'' she says.
''The FDA needs to come after these manufacturers. Whether it's someone running a business out of their parent's basement or it's a bigger company, they need to be held accountable.''
FDA spokesperson Stephanie Caccomo declined to comment on the agency's efforts to remove Puff Bar products from the market:
''As a matter of policy, we do not comment on compliance strategy or discuss any potential or ongoing compliance matters,'' she tells Inverse via email.
A "huge advantage" Andrew Imecs is a vape reviewer based in Canada who runs the YouTube channel Fumb Duck. In December 2019, he made a Puff Bar video that got over 55,000 views. The look and feel of a Puff Bar is ''practically identical'' to JUUL, except for the bright colors, Imecs tells Inverse. But they tend to sell for about $10 or less, whereas a JUUL (sans pods) sells for about $15.
But it is the flavors that make them so tantalizing.
''The Puff Bars have a selection of flavors that seem to be irresistible,'' Imecs says.
''Flavors like Watermelon, Lychee Ice, Peach Ice, Cucumber, and even Coffee! This is where the Puff Bar has a huge advantage in the market.''
Imecs' intuition about flavors is backed by epidemiological research '-- that flavors are appealing, especially to teens.
One 2019 survey published in the journal Public Health Reports found that teens are three times more likely to use a fruit-flavored e-liquid than an adult. They are almost four times more likely to prefer a candy-flavored e-liquid. In a sample of about 3,000 vapers gathered from the 2015-2016 Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health study, another 2019 paper found that adults were 21 times more likely to report using a tobacco-flavored product compared to other flavors.
With both the design of JUUL and limitless flavor options, Puff Bar isn't only reminiscent of JUUL, it is also on its way to surpassing it in terms of demand, says Brendan Chen, an employee at a vape shop on the East Coast.
During the summer of 2019, Chen started to notice Puff Bar products ''blowing up'' at vape shops, convenience stores, gas stations, hookah bars, and Kratom bars in his area. It is clear Chen is a dedicated vaper. He's active on vaping subreddits. He won't sell anything he hasn't tested himself.
''The demand is astronomically high. I haven't seen anything like this since JUUL,'' Chen tells Inverse. ''Even when JUUL was pulling their flavors off the shelves, that demand seems low compared to the demand for Puff Bars right now.''
The demand for JUUL was noteworthy in itself. Between 2016 and 2018, ''JUULing'' became synonymous with vaping. Some estimates suggest that JUUL held as much as 40 percent of the market for e-cigarettes in 2017. In 2018, the company continued to grow as sales skyrocketed by 783 percent.
But that popularity also made JUUL notorious. The company's leaders testified before Congress in July 2019; they had to answer for accumulating evidence that they intentionally targeted teens with their marketing and flavorful pods. CEO Kevin Burns stepped down in September 2019, amid the controversy.
Puff Bar's popularity is built on some of the same attributes that JUUL's was. While the FDA has targeted flavors (former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb called them the ''core of the epidemic''), Puff Bar expanded the flavor repertoire to include flavors you might find in a bulk candy bar (Banana Ice?). Though Puff Bar isn't running Nickelodeon or Cartoon network ads (as a Massachusetts lawsuit against JUUL alleges), Puff Bar's flavorful products still hold undeniable appeal to teens.
Clapp also suggests that it is the flavors and the pre-packaging that keep people coming back to Puff Bar. While hardcore vapers might mix their own flavors, the younger, experimental users in Clapp's study aren't so dedicated to the habit where they might cultivate a DIY vape juice hobby.
''I ask the subjects that come in, 'If there was a ban where they eliminated these disposable devices, what would you do? Would you mix your own?'''
''And they're like, 'No, we'd just stop,''' he says.
Puff Bar disposable e-cigarettes.Inverse
As tempting as the comparisons between Puff Bar and JUUL are, there are big differences in the products and the organizations that produce them.
If you crack open a JUUL, you will find that the e-juice is housed in a pod. That juice is heated by the JUUL's rechargeable insides, where it's then vaporized. Crack open a Puff Bar, as YouTubers, redditors, and Inverse have done, and you will find a piece of cotton that houses the vape liquid. When the cotton runs dry, you are supposed to dispose of the device.
As part of the reporting for this story, Inverse purchased four Puff Bar products from a convenience store in New York City, including the OMG flavor (orange, mango and guava-flavored), Blue Razz, Lychee Ice, and Lush Ice. We cracked open the OMG flavor and found the same thing: a low-powered battery and cotton soaked in a tropical-flavored e-liquid.
That cotton holds the flavored e-juice in lieu of a pod. That allows Puff Bar to avoid the flavor ban, which very specifically targets pod-based systems like JUUL. (But it still doesn't make them legal.)
The products strike Chen as cheaply made. (Delnevo echoes that sentiment.) The cotton in the middle of the device is an antiquated design that should set off alarm bells, Chen says.
''Most disposables I've seen are not built like this. It brought me down this rabbit hole that I knew I could decipher because of what I knew about the industry,'' Chen says.
The interior of a Puff Bar e-cigarette.
The Puff Bars themselves offer up their secrets to anyone armed with a screwdriver and some needle nose pliers, but the actual company behind the products has proved far harder to crack open.
Chen has come closer than most, and in a post on the r/juul subreddit, he shared the results of his deep dive into the Puff Bar supply chain.
''Puff bars are possibly one of the worst-designed products from 2019 with some of the shadiest owners and production I have ever seen,'' he writes.
Reals and fakesIt is not hard to find Puff Bars online. You can buy them on wholesale vape websites, or through at least five different accounts claiming to represent them on Instagram.
The most popular account, @puffbarofficial, has 9,538 followers as of writing and first started posting on May 29, 2019. The user behind that account did not respond to an interview request from Inverse. The second most popular account, @officialpuffbar, has 5,189 followers and provided Inverse with an email address after responding to a DM message. The account started posting on December 22, 2019. The user did not answer questions over email.
There are two major websites that claim to sell Puff Bars: puffbar.com and puffsalt.com. Several sources say that puffsalt.com was the site representing the ''real'' manufacturer of these products.
A phone call to a number listed on puffbar.com was answered, but the respondent declined to answer questions over the phone. Followup emails were not answered. Puffsalt.com does not list a phone number but has not responded to repeated email requests for interview.
Tracking down the real source of Puff Bar products is a saga. Because of this, people get Puff Bars from different places: vape shops, convenience stores, or eBay. This diverse sourcing means that, even if a product comes with Puff Bar branding, you are never quite sure what you are going to get inside that box.
"I am not sure who or what company manufactures or distributes them."''Every single subject is telling me that the devices are highly variable. Sometimes they leak, sometimes they last a long time, and other times, the battery is dead within a few hours,'' Clapp says.
''There seems to be a lot of variability inherent to this disposable market,'' he says.
The variability between Puff Bar products is a constant point of discussion, particularly on Reddit. Some describe flavors that smell like paint; others mention leaking or inconsistent flavors. This inconsistency and lack of guidance from Puff Bar's leadership have led to a narrative online; there are ''real'' puff bar products and then there are ''fake'' puff bar products. The ''fakes'' take the blame for leaking vapes and errant flavors.
In an effort to distinguish the reals from the ''fakes,'' consumers have turned to subreddits like r/JUUL, r/electronic_cigarettes, r/vaping, and now the fledgling r/Puffbar (formed in October 2019).
Redditor u/cwc951 is the moderator of the r/Puffbar. They don't represent Puff Bar, nor do they know who is behind the company, the user tells Inverse. But they do try to open up discussion about the products for people seeking guidance.
''In my opinion, JUUL is a far more reputable brand than Puff Bar because [JUUL] is very clear who owns it and where it comes from,'' the redditor says via DM.
''I honestly recommend people come over to the subreddit r/Puffbar because there are many people who use these devices on a daily basis, and most of them are more than happy to discuss the product and answer any questions people may have.''
But even those familiar with the brand are often fooled, including Imecs.
''A lot of third-party sites and distributors sell the product, and I am not sure who or what company manufactures or distributes them. There are a variety of knockoffs for the Puff Bar, as I have received Puff Bars that have different labels on them,'' Imecs says.
''I have bought about four Puff Bars in the last month, and it is extremely hard to tell if they are legitimate or not,'' he says.
Redditor u/cwc951 explains that Puff Bar's manufacturer changes the design of the packages ''constantly.'' The only way to tell if a product is legitimate is to check a security code that comes on every Puff Bar box by plugging it into puffsalt.com's verification system.
Of the four Puff Bar products that Inverse purchased, three were registered on puffsalt.com. One, a Lychee Ice flavor with a slightly different packaging style, did not appear.
A verification system lends an air of legitimacy. However, it is possible to buy Puff Bar boxes ''with security codes'' on DHGate.com, a wholesale website '-- though that's no guarantee that the codes will check out.
That said, a verification system is easy to create, Chen says.
''I have looked into the website itself, and the serial number system itself is nothing special. It's what we call a JSON file. It's pre-generated numbers that they apply to the serial stickers. I was actually able to guess and come up with a few numbers within a few minutes,'' he says.
The verification system only proves that the Puff Bars have been registered with someone capable of creating those codes. Right now, there are a number of people on the hunt for that person given Puff Bar's explosive popularity.
An unexpected spotlightPuff Bar does have a paper trail. It begins at the US Patent and Trademark office, with a trademark filed in July 2019. The Puff Bar logo is registered to a company called Cool Clouds Distribution.
Richard Hepner, the attorney of record for that trademark listing, tells Inverse that he was hired to assist with trademarking by Puff Bar. He also says he has been busy fielding calls from reporters looking for any trace of Puff Bar's elusive leadership.
Cool Clouds Distribution is a registered company in California, but that is where the trail ends. A Google Maps view of the address registered with Cool Clouds Distribution, captured in March 2019, reveals an empty storefront in Los Angeles.
316 East 4th street in Los Angeles, the street address filed with the Puff Bar trademark.
Using a phone number provided by Chen, Inverse called Cool Cloud Distribution. The call went unanswered. An attempt to contact a ''senior account manager'' for Cool Clouds Distribution on LinkedIn also went unanswered.
There is one person who claims to represent Puff Bar in several Reddit posts. On Reddit, the user goes by u/vaper786.
In a January 2020 post titled ''ATTENTION: There is one Puff Bar and many fakes," the user claimed to operate puffsalt.com. They also claimed that Puff Bar products are undergoing testing at a ''US compliant lab in China" and Avomeen, a Michigan-based lab that tests nicotine products. (Avomeen did not respond to Inverse's attempts to verify that they test Puff Bar's products. We will update this story if we hear back.)
Redditor u/vaper786 is an adamant defender of Puff Bar on Reddit and the most reachable representative. The user tells Inverse via Reddit DM that they are not the founder or owner, but rather a friend.
On Reddit, the user's posts suggest they ''have the exclusive Puff Bar'' and are pursuing premarket approval with the FDA. But in later posts, the user also claims they are ''laying low'' because they emerged post-2016, the year the FDA froze the market for e-cigarettes.
Redditor u/vaper786 declined to answer questions regarding when the company was founded, whether they intend to file for premarket approval with the FDA, or indicate who they actually are.
Rather, u/vaper786 paints a picture of a small company that quickly and unexpectedly spiraled out of control. Popularity of the products, press inquiries, and sales brought an additional level of scrutiny on the company that the user maintains they were never prepared for, nor intended. They maintain that most products out there are fake, and that the company is not as big as it appears.
But Puff Bar's popularity and appeal is ''irresistible,'' to use Imecs' words. And that irresistibility may be just the thing that pushes the company into the spotlight.
"We own the factories."Puff Bar's boxes spell out where the products are actually made, even if we don't know who the leadership is. The boxes clearly read ''Designed in the U.S.A., Made in China.''
In itself, Chinese manufacturing is not a stain on Puff Bar's products. In fact, the Chinese manufacturers are about the only public-facing part of the company's operation. Some manufacturers also maintain presences on Instagram. On sites like Alibaba, a quick search reveals a minimum order of 50 Puff Bars works out to a unit price of less than $2 per e-cigarette, which can be shipped from factories in Shenzhen to the US.
As for the variation in products that have led to the ''real'' versus ''fake''' debate, Chen speculates there might simply be different factories contracted by Puff Bar's leadership to meet the ''ridiculous'' demand of the product.
''That leads to the issue of inconsistencies within each variant product from each facility,'' Chen says.
In that sense, he believes that there is no ''real'' or ''fake'' Puff Bar products. While one person owns the trademark, there appears to be no single facility where these products are consistently overseen, but rather, a number of different facilities.
Redditor u/vaper786 disputes this, stating that ''we own the factories'' and [are] the only authentic product." The user maintains that the authentic Puff Bar products (meaning they're sold by the groups that own the trademark) were tested for safety. But now, the fakes greatly outnumber the real ones, the user says.
Taken together, the intricacies of Puff Bar's supply chain do not matter that much. Rather, they point toward a model that other small, disposable e-cigarette companies might follow, Delnevo says.
You create a company, secure your trademark, contract out your supply, and begin to rake in the cash.
''At the end, presumably, the FDA comes in and says these need to go,'' she says. ''And the company is like, 'oops, my bad,' but in the meantime, they've done all these sales.''
Clapp agrees that Puff Bar is demonstrative of a new problem in the regulatory world of e-cigarettes.
''At least with JUUL, there was a company and a headquarters, and they'd been around long enough to have a name and CEO,'' he says.
''These companies are surging to the forefront and, really, none of us know anything about them.''
A rare moment of unityScientists who study vaping and members of the vape industry don't often agree. But when it comes to Puff Bar, Delnevo and Anton share common ground. They would both like the FDA to remove these products as quickly as possible.
Chen agrees. He says that Puff Bar products put legal vape manufacturers '-- which intend to file for approval by the FDA's May 12, 2020 deadline '-- at a disadvantage. They have to bear the costs associated with ensuring that a product is safe. They have to steer clear of flavors unless they are in tank-based systems.
''It does make it hard to compete because these people will flood the market. We don't produce anything like this ourselves,'' Chen says.
Mark Anton has no plans to speak out against Puff Bar. But his organization's stance is that it is the FDA's responsibility to remove these products provided they weren't on the market before August 8, 2016.
''If the product was not on the market, they have a responsibility to make sure that product is taken off the market,'' he says.
But FDA intervention may not be necessary. Puff Bar's astronomical rise has also spelled their demise '-- at least according to u/vaper_786. After several days of correspondence, the user provided Inverse with the following statement:
"Unfortunately I am unable to speak any more. The company has closed up shop and does not want any media coverage."A few hours later, the u/vaper786 responded to a post on Reddit claiming they would ''provide lab reports next week'' regarding what ingredients are used in Puff Bar products. As of publishing, those lab reports have not been released on the thread.
If the saga of Puff Bar's shadowy ownership and meteoric rise say anything, it is that legally nebulous vape manufacturers are nothing if not nimble. Puff Bar may be disappearing '-- but then again, they may not be.
Even if Puff Bar vanishes, it may not be long before something else takes their place.
Coronavirus Update: Diamond Princess Passengers Leave Ship As Expert Slams Quarantine : Goats and Soda : NPR
Thu, 20 Feb 2020 06:06
Australians Clare Hedger and her mother are now free from a two-week quarantine on the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Yokohama, Japan. Health officials in Japan are being sharply criticized for their handling of the coronavirus quarantine on the ship. Clare Hedger/via Reuters hide caption
toggle caption Clare Hedger/via Reuters Australians Clare Hedger and her mother are now free from a two-week quarantine on the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Yokohama, Japan. Health officials in Japan are being sharply criticized for their handling of the coronavirus quarantine on the ship.
Clare Hedger/via Reuters Updated at 4 p.m. ET
Roughly 600 passengers left the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Yokohama, Japan, on Wednesday, as a controversial shipwide coronavirus quarantine finally began to wind down.
All of those passengers had been tested for the COVID-19 disease by the Japanese health ministry, according to cruise operator Princess Cruises. As they left, they were met in the terminal by the cruise line's president, Jan Swartz.
Several hundred other passengers who aren't taking repatriation flights to their home countries are expected to leave the ship on Thursday.
The quarantine has been heavily criticized for failing to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 among passengers and crew. Even as hundreds of people disembarked, Japanese officials announced 79 more confirmed cases aboard the ship. And in at least one case, a family was informed of a positive test result just hours before they were scheduled to disembark.
A total of 621 people from the cruise ship have now been confirmed to have the newly identified coronavirus '-- or about 20% of the 3,011 people who had been tested as of Wednesday.
Japanese expert criticizes cruise ship protocols
Some of the sharpest criticism of Japan's handling of the stricken cruise ship came from Kentaro Iwata, an infectious disease specialist at Kobe University who posted a video about his visit to the Diamond Princess on Tuesday.
After getting a look around the ship's interior, Iwata said, it "turned out that the cruise ship was completely inadequate in terms of the infection control."
"There was no distinction between the green zone, which is free of infection, and the red zone, which is potentially contaminated by virus," he added.
Iwata's comments quickly drew attention in Japan. In response to questions about red and green zones on the ship, Health Minister Katsunobu Kato insisted that sections of the ship have been "properly managed," The Japan Times reports. It adds that another government official said the crew had taken "thorough measures" to stop infections from spreading.
In the YouTube video, Iwata called the ship's environment "completely chaotic," saying that "people could come and go" regardless of whether they were wearing personal protective equipment such as gloves, face masks and other gear. He added that one medical officer had seemingly given up protecting herself and others, believing she was likely already infected.
"I dealt with lots of infections '-- more than 20 years," Iwata said. "I was in Africa dealing with the Ebola outbreak. I was in other countries dealing with the cholera outbreak. I was in China in 2003 to deal with SARS."
In those outbreaks, Iwata said, "I never had fear of getting infections myself ... because I know how to protect myself and how to protect others."
"But inside Princess Diamond, I was so scared," he added. "I was so scared of getting COVID-19 because there was no way to tell where the virus is."
Criticizing a lack of carefulness on the ship, Iwata said there was also no clear leadership role by medical experts.
"There was no single professional infection control person inside the ship, and there was nobody in charge of infection prevention as a professional. The bureaucrats were in charge of everything," he said.
When he raised those concerns with a senior officer of Japan's health ministry, Iwata added, the official was "very unhappy" with his suggestions for improving protections on the ship.
In his video, Iwata also noted that Japan, unlike the U.S. and other countries, does not have an agency with the specific task of combating disease and infections, such as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and similar agencies in other countries.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the health minister told a news conference late Wednesday that Iwata had violated the terms under which he boarded the Diamond Princess and had been ordered to leave.
Passengers face new quarantines and restrictions
Roughly 3,700 passengers and crew were aboard the Diamond Princess when it pulled into the Yokohama terminal south of Tokyo.
People who have tested positive for the virus have been taken off the ship and sent to local hospitals '-- and their traveling partners and close contacts put under a fresh 14-day quarantine order.
Those passengers who have been declared free of the virus and are leaving the ship for the first time in two weeks face a confusing array of circumstances. Many will be forced to undergo a 14-day quarantine upon their return home '-- reflecting a lack of trust in the effectiveness of the ship's quarantine. Others can remain in Japan under their own recognizance but are still barred from returning home for two weeks.
The family of passenger Aun Na Tan of Australia was hit with an eleventh-hour setback when her daughter, Kaitlyn, tested positive for COVID-19. They got the news after stacking their luggage near the front door, awaiting their turn to leave the ship.
"It wasn't a pretty sight for me and Kaitlyn," Tan wrote, describing the impact of the bad news. "The boys were calmer. We have bounced back now."
The good news, she added, is that her daughter hasn't developed symptoms of the respiratory illness. And Tan said she and her husband and son planned to stay with her daughter.
"We decided not to be separated," Tan said on Instagram. "They are trying to find a hospital which will take all 4 of us."
The embassies of Canada, Australia and Hong Kong are arranging for their citizens to travel home via charter flights this week, Princess Cruises said Wednesday. All of those governments and the U.S. are requiring a second quarantine, the cruise line says.
The U.S. government brought more than 300 American passengers back stateside on chartered repatriation flights early this week. Those passengers are now quarantined at military bases in California and Texas '-- and 14 of them who tested positive for COVID-19 are in hospitals.
Americans who stayed aboard are on temporary no-fly list
Some 61 U.S. citizens were not flown home and remained on board the Diamond Princess. The Department of Homeland Security has temporarily put those Americans on a federal no-fly list to bar them from traveling to the U.S., the CDC says.
"This action has been taken because you are reasonably suspected of having had an exposure to novel coronavirus (COVID-19) while onboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship," the CDC said in a letter to the passengers.
Anyone who tries to subvert the travel ban by flying first to Mexico or Canada "will be stopped by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials," the CDC adds.
Unstoppable Domains Announces Unstoppable Blockchain Browser to Open the Internet | Business Wire
Wed, 19 Feb 2020 23:32
SAN FRANCISCO--(BUSINESS WIRE )--Unstoppable Domains, a company building blockchain domain names, is announcing the launch of the Unstoppable Blockchain Browser to enable easy access to the decentralized web. Typing in a .crypto domain and viewing a decentralized website works just like typing in a .com. Users can also participate in making a website more decentralized. With the click of a button, visitors store and share websites to a p2p network that no one person or company controls.
Unstoppable Domains CEO Matthew Gould explained, ''We believe that a decentralized web is critical for protecting free speech around the world. The Unstoppable Blockchain Browser is the first browser that makes visiting decentralized websites as easy as a traditional .com website. All browsers should embrace the decentralized web.''
Domain and hosting companies are frequently used to shut down unpopular political speech around the world. In Catalonia, Spain, the .cat registry, which was being used by pro-independence websites, was raided by Spanish police right before a vote.
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Pence swears in Grenell as ambassador to Germany | TheHill
Wed, 19 Feb 2020 23:10
Richard Grenell, the new U.S. ambassador to Germany, was officially sworn in Thursday by Vice President Pence.
Pence praised Grenell for his experience, calling him "uniquely qualified" for the post.
"With Ambassador Grenell leading our diplomatic mission to Germany, we're going to confront shared challenges, seek our shared opportunities and build a shared future with our allies and friends in Germany," Pence said.
Grenell was joined at the ceremony by his family and his longtime partner, Matt Lashey, who held the Bible while Pence read the oath of office.
Grenell previously served as the U.S. spokesman to the United Nations during the George W. Bush administration.
The Senate confirmed Grenell last week in a 56-42 vote, one day before German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited the White House.
His nomination as ambassador to Germany became a point of tension in recent weeks, as President Trump Donald John TrumpFed saw risks to US economy fading before coronavirus spread quickened Pro-Trump super PAC hits Biden with new Spanish-language ad in Nevada Britain announces immigration policy barring unskilled migrants MORE blamed Democrats in the Senate for blocking the nomination.
Trump first nominated Grenell in September, but had to renominate him in January after the Senate failed to confirm him by the end of 2017.
Grenell on Thursday praised Trump and his negotiation skills and expressed support for the president's agenda.
"[Trump] is a man who's totally focused on the American people, and I promise as part of the administration, to keep my focus on the American people and to make sure that I represent you well," Grenell said.
President Trump and Merkel have not always seen eye to eye on policy issues since Trump took office.
Trump has gone against the German chancellor in his decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accord and in his threats to pull out of the Iran nuclear agreement.
During his campaign, Trump once referred to Merkel as the person who "is ruining Germany."
The View on Twitter: "Rep. @AOC to @TheView co-hosts: ''Our entire political system revolves frankly around rich men, and rich men are not the center of my universe. Working families are.'' https://t.co/cVclFZQmjA https://t.co/tZfyAbWzfE" / Twitter
Wed, 19 Feb 2020 15:29
toni @ tonivinylbr
4h Replying to
@TheView @AOC The employer takes ALL THE RISK and the employee works IF the building burns down the WORKER walks away and gets another job! The Employer pays for the cleanup, to rebuild! SOCIALISM-at it's best. God Bless Capitalism because we are FREE TO CHOOSE !
View conversation ·
Inside the shady private equity firm run by Kerry and Biden's kids
Wed, 19 Feb 2020 14:11
'Secret Empires' by Peter Schweizer''My frustration,'' writes Peter Schweizer in his new book, ''Secret Empires: How the American Political Class Hides Corruption and Enriches Family and Friends,'' ''is not that the solid reporting on Trump has been too tough, but that the reporting on the Obama administration has been way too soft or in some cases nonexistent.'' The author of the 2016 sensation ''Clinton Cash'' says Trump and his children didn't invent the blurring of government and business, and details a number of ethical violations on both sides of the political aisle. One example: the little-noticed private equity firm run by the sons of Democrats Joe Biden and John Kerry, as detailed in this exclusive first excerpt.
Joe Biden and John Kerry have been pillars of the Washington establishment for more than 30 years. Biden is one of the most popular politicians in our nation's capital.
His demeanor, sense of humor, and even his friendly gaffes have allowed him to form close relationships with both Democrats and Republicans. His public image is built around his ''Lunch Bucket Joe'' persona. As he reminds the American people on regular occasions, he has little wealth to show for his career, despite having reached the vice presidency.
One of his closest political allies in Washington is former senator and former Secretary of State John Kerry. ''Lunch Bucket Joe'' he ain't; Kerry is more patrician than earthy. But the two men became close while serving for several decades together in the US Senate. The two ''often talked on matters of foreign policy,'' says Jules Witcover in his Biden biography.
So their sons going into business together in June 2009 was not exactly a bolt out of the blue.
But with whom their sons cut lucrative deals while the elder two were steering the ship of state is more of a surprise.
What Hunter Biden, the son of America's vice president, and Christopher Heinz, the stepson of the chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations (later to be secretary of state), were creating was an international private equity firm. It was anchored by the Heinz family alternative investment fund, Rosemont Capital. The new firm would be populated by political loyalists and positioned to strike profitable deals overseas with foreign governments and officials with whom the US government was negotiating.
Hunter Biden, Vice President Joe Biden's youngest son, had gone through a series of jobs since graduating from Yale Law School in 1996, including the hedge-fund business.
By the summer of 2009, the 39-year-old Hunter joined forces with the son of another powerful figure in American politics, Chris Heinz. Senator John Heinz of Pennsylvania had tragically died in a 1991 airplane crash when Chris was 18. Chris, his brothers, and his mother inherited a large chunk of the family's vast ketchup fortune, including a network of investment funds and a Pennsylvania estate, among other properties. In May 1995, his mother, Teresa, married Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts. That same year, Chris graduated from Yale, and then went on to get his MBA from Harvard Business School.
Hunter Biden (left) with father Joe Biden following the inauguration ceremony of President Barack Obama, Jan. 20, 2009. REUTERSJoining them in the Rosemont venture was Devon Archer, a longtime Heinz and Kerry friend.
The three friends established a series of related LLCs. The trunk of the tree was Rosemont Capital, the alternative investment fund of the Heinz Family Office. Rosemont Farm is the name of the Heinz family's 90-acre estate outside Fox Chapel, Pennsylvania.
The small fund grew quickly. According to an email revealed as part of a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation, Rosemont described themselves as ''a $2.4 billion private equity firm co-owned by Hunter Biden and Chris Heinz,'' with Devon Archer as ''Managing Partner.''
The partners attached several branches to the Rosemont Capital trunk, including Rosemont Seneca Partners, LLC, Rosemont Seneca Technology Partners, and Rosemont Realty.
Of the various deals in which these Rosemont entities were involved, one of the largest and most troubling concerns was Rosemont Seneca Partners.
Rather than set up shop in New York City, the financial capital of the world, Rosemont Seneca leased space in Washington, DC. They occupied an all-brick building on Wisconsin Avenue, the main thoroughfare of exclusive Georgetown. Their offices would be less than a mile from John and Teresa Kerry's 23-room Georgetown mansion, and just two miles from both Joe Biden's office in the White House and his residence at the Naval Observatory.
In short, the Chinese government was literally funding a business that it co-owned along with the sons of two of America's most powerful decision makers.
Over the next seven years, as both Joe Biden and John Kerry negotiated sensitive and high-stakes deals with foreign governments, Rosemont entities secured a series of exclusive deals often with those same foreign governments.
Some of the deals they secured may remain hidden. These Rosemont entities are, after all, within a private equity firm and as such are not required to report or disclose their financial dealings publicly.
Some of their transactions are nevertheless traceable by investigating world capital markets. A troubling pattern emerges from this research, showing how profitable deals were struck with foreign governments on the heels of crucial diplomatic missions carried out by their powerful fathers. Often those foreign entities gained favorable policy actions from the United States government just as the sons were securing favorable financial deals from those same entities.
Nowhere is that more true than in their commercial dealings with Chinese government-backed enterprises.
Rosemont Seneca joined forces in doing business in China with another politically connected consultancy called the Thornton Group. The Massachusetts-based firm is headed by James Bulger, the nephew of the notorious mob hitman James ''Whitey'' Bulger. Whitey was the leader of the Winter Hill Gang, part of the South Boston mafia. Under indictment for 19 murders, he disappeared. He was later arrested, tried, and convicted.
James Bulger's father, Whitey's younger brother, Billy Bulger, serves on the board of directors of the Thornton Group. He was the longtime leader of the Massachusetts state Senate and, with their long overlap by state and by party, a political ally of Massachusetts Senator John Kerry.
Less than a year after opening Rosemont Seneca's doors, Hunter Biden and Devon Archer were in China, having secured access at the highest levels. Thornton Group's account of the meeting on their Chinese-language website was telling: Chinese executives ''extended their warm welcome'' to the ''Thornton Group, with its US partner Rosemont Seneca chairman Hunter Biden (second son of the now Vice President Joe Biden).''
The purpose of the meetings was to ''explore the possibility of commercial cooperation and opportunity.'' Curiously, details about the meeting do not appear on their English-language website.
Also, according to the Thornton Group, the three Americans met with the largest and most powerful government fund leaders in China '-- even though Rosemont was both new and small.
The timing of this meeting was also curious. It occurred just hours before Hunter Biden's father, the vice president, met with Chinese President Hu in Washington as part of the Nuclear Security Summit.
Chris Heinz (left) with John Kerry at a campaign fundraiser, April 16, 2004. Dennis Van TineThere was a second known meeting with many of the same Chinese financial titans in Taiwan in May 2011. For a small firm like Rosemont Seneca with no track record, it was an impressive level of access to China's largest financial players. And it was just two weeks after Joe Biden had opened up the US-China strategic dialogue with Chinese officials in Washington.
On one of the first days of December 2013, Hunter Biden was jetting across the Pacific Ocean aboard Air Force Two with his father and daughter Finnegan. The vice president was heading to Asia on an extended official trip. Tensions in the region were on the rise.
The American delegation was visiting Japan, China, and South Korea. But it was the visit to China that had the most potential to generate conflict and controversy. The Obama administration had instituted the ''Asia Pivot'' in its international strategy, shifting attention away from Europe and toward Asia, where China was flexing its muscles.
For Hunter Biden, the trip coincided with a major deal that Rosemont Seneca was striking with the state-owned Bank of China. From his perspective, the timing couldn't have been better.
Vice President Biden, Hunter Biden and Finnegan arrived to a red carpet and a delegation of Chinese officials. Greeted by Chinese children carrying flowers, the delegation was then whisked to a meeting with Vice President Li Yuanchao and talks with President Xi Jinping.
Hunter and Finnegan Biden joined the vice president for tea with US Ambassador Gary Locke at the Liu Xian Guan Teahouse in the Dongcheng District in Beijing. Where Hunter Biden spent the rest of his time on the trip remains largely a mystery. There are actually more reports of his daughter Finnegan's activities than his.
What was not reported was the deal that Hunter was securing. Rosemont Seneca Partners had been negotiating an exclusive deal with Chinese officials, which they signed approximately 10 days after Hunter visited China with his father. The most powerful financial institution in China, the government's Bank of China, was setting up a joint venture with Rosemont Seneca.
Often those foreign entities gained favorable policy actions from the United States government just as the sons were securing favorable financial deals from those same entities.
The Bank of China is an enormously powerful financial institution. But the Bank of China is very different from the Bank of America. The Bank of China is government-owned, which means that its role as a bank blurs into its role as a tool of the government. The Bank of China provides capital for ''China's economic statecraft,'' as scholar James Reilly puts it. Bank loans and deals often occur within the context of a government goal.
Rosemont Seneca and the Bank of China created a $1 billion investment fund called Bohai Harvest RST (BHR), a name that reflected who was involved. Bohai (or Bo Hai), the innermost gulf of the Yellow Sea, was a reference to the Chinese stake in the company. The ''RS'' referred to Rosemont Seneca. The ''T'' was Thornton.
The fund enjoyed an unusual and special status in China. BHR touted its ''unique Sino-US shareholding structure'' and ''the global resources and network'' that allowed it to secure investment ''opportunities.'' Funds were backed by the Chinese government.
In short, the Chinese government was literally funding a business that it co-owned along with the sons of two of America's most powerful decision makers.
The partnership between American princelings and the Chinese government was just a beginning. The actual investment deals that this partnership made were even more problematic. Many of them would have serious national security implications for the United States.
In 2015, BHR joined forces with the automotive subsidiary of the Chinese state-owned military aviation contractor Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) to buy American ''dual-use'' parts manufacturer Henniges.
AVIC is a major military contractor in China. It operates ''under the direct control of the State Council'' and produces a wide array of fighter and bomber aircraft, transports, and drones '-- primarily designed to compete with the United States.
The company also has a long history of stealing Western technology and applying it to military systems. The year before BHR joined with AVIC, the Wall Street Journal reported that the aviation company had stolen technologies related to the US F-35 stealth fighter and incorporated them in their own stealth fighter, the J-31. AVIC has also been accused of stealing US drone systems and using them to produce their own.
In September 2015, when AVIC bought 51 percent of American precision-parts manufacturer Henniges, the other 49 percent was purchased by the Biden-and-Kerry-linked BHR.
Henniges is recognized as a world leader in anti-vibration technologies in the automotive industry and for its precise, state-of-the-art manufacturing capabilities. Anti-vibration technologies are considered ''dual-use'' because they can have a military application, according to both the State Department and Department of Commerce.
The technology is also on the restricted Commerce Control List used by the federal government to limit the exports of certain technologies. For that reason, the Henniges deal would require the approval of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), which reviews sensitive business transactions that may have a national security implication.
According to BHR internal documents, the Henniges deal included ''arduous and often-times challenging negotiations.'' The CFIUS review in 2015 included representatives from numerous government agencies including John Kerry's State Department.
The deal was approved in 2015.
Excerpted with permission from ''Secret Empires: How the American Political Class Hides Corruption and Enriches Family and Friends,'' by Peter Schweizer, published by Harper Collins. The book goes on sale March 20.
John Legend Joins Vox Media's Board of Directors (Exclusive)
Wed, 19 Feb 2020 11:46
Musician John Legend is joining the board of directors at Vox Media.
Legend will serve as an independent director alongside former Yahoo executive Susan Decker and Wasserman CEO Casey Wasserman. "He embodies many of our company values, whether it's creativity, being a strong entrepreneur or having a shared sense of ambition and focus on quality work," Vox Media chairman and CEO Jim Bankoff says of Legend.
Legend brings a deep knowledge of the entertainment industry, which could prove valuable for the publisher as it invests in video and audio storytelling through Vox Media Studios, which has produced TV shows including Netflix docuseries Explained and Apple TV+ anthology series Little America. That business, says Bankoff, "involves working with top-tier talent and understanding what drives talent and [how to establish] the best possible environment for creativity and creative people. We were looking for a board member who really understood those dynamics and who brought that perspective, as well."
In addition to his entertainment career, for which he is an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony winner, Legend's credentials include a degree from the University of Pennsylvania, experience at Boston Consulting Group and nonprofit work focused on education and the criminal justice system. He also serves on the board of directors for Harlem Village Academies and Management Leadership Tomorrow and on the advisory board for the University of Pennsylvania Law School's The Quattrone Center for the Fair Administration of Justice and Teach for All.
"I'm excited to join Vox Media's board," Legend said in a statement. "Vox Media is an innovative company creating content that shapes the conversation about so many of the most important things happening in the world. I've been a fan of so much of their work over the years. I'm excited to learn more from the talented board and contribute whatever I can to influence the future of this growing company."
Vox Media, which had 106 million unique visitors in December per Comscore, already is in business with Legend's wife, Chrissy Teigen, whose Suit & Thai Productions is producing a slate of original food programming for Hulu with Vox Media Studios and David Chang's Majordomo Media. "We're lucky to be working with them both," Bankoff says, adding that Vox Media considers them separate and independent relationships.
In addition to its independent directors, Vox Media's 8-person board includes directors who represent the company's investors. The company has raised more than $300 million from investors including NBCUniversal, General Atlantic and Accel. Pam Wasserstein also joined the board after Vox Media acquired New York magazine in 2019.
Death of Harry Dunn - Wikipedia
Wed, 19 Feb 2020 10:12
Fatal road traffic collision resulting in UK/US diplomatic controversy
Harry Dunn was a 19 year old British man who died following a road traffic collision, on 27 August 2019. He was riding his motorcycle near Croughton, Northamptonshire in the United Kingdom, near the exit to RAF Croughton, when it collided with a car travelling in the opposite direction. The car, a Volvo XC90, was said to have been driven by Anne Sacoolas, a CIA operative and the wife of a US government employee working at the United States Air Force listening station at RAF Croughton. Sacoolas admitted that she had been driving the car on the wrong side of the road, and the police said that, based on CCTV footage, they also believed that was the case. Dunn was pronounced dead at the Major Trauma Centre of John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford.
The collision became the centre of a diplomatic incident after the United States government advised, then helped Sacoolas to flee the country while claiming diplomatic immunity. On 20 December 2019 the Crown Prosecution Service said that Sacoolas was to be charged with causing death by dangerous driving.
Collision [ edit ] Harry Dunn lived in Charlton, near Banbury.[1] On the evening of 27 August 2019 he died in hospital after a collision with a vehicle while riding his motorcycle on the B4031 road about 400 yards (400 m) from the exit from RAF Croughton. The car was said to have been driven by Anne Sacoolas, the wife of a US government employee working at the United States Air Force listening station at RAF Croughton.[2] Police said they believed the car, a Volvo XC90, had been driven on the wrong side of the road from the base exit,[2] which Sacoolas later admitted.[3][4][5][6][7] Sacoolas had a previous driving infraction in Virginia in 2006 for "failing to pay full time and attention".[8][9] The BBC reported that the Sacoolas family had only been in the UK for three weeks.[10]
Call handlers for the emergency telephone call categorised Dunn's injuries as category 2, requiring ambulance attention within 40 minutes; the ambulance arrived 43 minutes after the collision. The chief executive of East Midlands Ambulance Service later said that because of a shortage of ambulance crews, the categorisation did not make a difference, because the nearest doctor was far away. Dunn was pronounced dead at the Major Trauma Centre of John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford.[11][12] The funeral of Harry Dunn took place on 17 September[13] followed by cremation at an Oxfordshire crematorium.[14]
Investigation [ edit ] An investigation into the collision led by Nick Adderley, the chief constable of Northamptonshire Police, determined, from CCTV records, that a car had been travelling on the wrong side of the road.[15] Sacoolas had cooperated with police at the scene of the crash and was breathalysed. She was interviewed the next day at home and the police said she had cooperated with them. She had said she was driving on the wrong side of the road when she collided with Dunn.[3][4][16][17] Diplomatic immunity was mentioned during the interview, and Northamptonshire Police applied for an immunity waiver later that day. On 16 September 2019, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) informed the police that the waiver had been declined and that Sacoolas had left the UK on a US Air Force aircraft.[18]
On 22 October Adderley confirmed that the suspect was to be interviewed under caution in the United States, at her own request, explaining: "A file of evidence has been handed to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) but... that file is incomplete - you can't complete the file until you have an account from the suspect."[19] On 31 October, police confirmed they had interviewed the suspect and passed the information to the CPS.[20]
On 31 October Northamptonshire Police interviewed Anne Sacoolas in the US.[21] Dunn's mother told Sky News that the family felt they were "no further forward" and were still "left in limbo"; she also criticised the decision to fly British police to the US.[22] On 1 November the police submitted a file to the CPS, who would evaluate it for a charging decision.[23]
Diplomatic issues [ edit ] The collision became the subject of a diplomatic dispute when Sacoolas left the country shortly after the incident and the US embassy said she had diplomatic immunity as the wife of a US agent working in the UK.[2][10][8][24] The Washington Examiner reported that Jonathan Sacoolas did not work for the National Security Agency, and that the Sacoolas family lived in Northern Virginia in the area of the Central Intelligence Agency Langley headquarters.[25]
Dunn's parents were advised by two leading specialist lawyers on diplomatic immunity, Mark Stephens and Geoffrey Robertson. They advised that Anne Sacoolas was not entitled to diplomatic immunity, as her husband was not listed as a diplomat. Furthermore, they contended, diplomatic immunity no longer applied upon Sacoolas's return to her home country; therefore, it would be possible to take civil action in the US courts. The Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, also stated that diplomatic immunity no longer applied.[26][27] Dunn's parents, in order to get justice for their son, decided to travel to the US to "fight for change" and seek the return of Sacoolas to the UK.[28]
A photograph, taken at a 10 October press conference, showed President Donald Trump's briefing notes. If asked, the US line on the notes indicated that Anne Sacoolas would not return to the UK, despite the previous intervention of Raab and the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, including a call to the president.[29] In response, Dunn's mother said that the position of the US was, "beyond any realm of human thinking", adding "I'm just disgusted. I don't see the point in Boris Johnson talking to President Trump, or President Trump even taking a call from Boris Johnson. If he'd already made his decision that if it were to be asked and if it were to be raised, the answer was already going to be no."[29]
When Dunn's parents visited the White House on 15 October 2019 to meet with "a senior official," they were to hear President Trump tell them that Sacoolas was waiting "in the next room" to meet them, an option they and their lawyer rejected as being too soon, and something that should take place on British soil.[30][31] Trump called his meeting with the Dunn family "beautiful in a certain way." He also said driving on the wrong side "happens to a lot of people" because they "go to Europe and the roads are opposite."[32] It was later alleged that President Trump had intended to pay the family compensation, but they refused it: The Dunn family's spokesman reported that the White House meeting ended with the president saying the secretary of the treasury, Steven Mnuchin, was "standing by ready to write a cheque", adding: "It was almost as if he let it slip out. When he said: 'We've got the driver [Sacoolas] here', he basically meant we're all going to have a big hug and a kiss and I'll get my treasury guy to write a cheque. That's how it was. On the day it just didn't register with me, but the more I think about those words, the more shocking it is.''[33]
Responses by parents and others [ edit ] On 15 October the Dunn family announced their intention to start a judicial review action into the advice given by the FCO to Northamptonshire Police regarding the diplomatic immunity of Anne Sacoolas.[13]
On 18 October Dunn's parents said that they expected UK police to charge Sacoolas in connection with their son's death.[34] On the same day it was reported that the UK government had asked Northamptonshire Police to delay informing Dunn's family that the woman involved in the crash had left the country. Dominic Raab stated that the FCO had asked the force to withhold the information "for a day or two".[35] The Dunn family became aware that Anne Sacoolas had left the UK one week later, on 23 September.[13]
A review of the diplomatic immunity arrangements at RAF Croughton has been commissioned.[36]
On 1 November the case was discussed by Nigel Farage with President Trump, by telephone, on his LBC evening talk-show. Trump said that Sacoolas had a "compelling story to tell" when he met her at the White House. Asked if there were circumstances where Sacoolas could return to the UK to face charges, Trump said: "Well, I would have to see what the final facts are... And, I'll take a look at the final facts. She's represented by a lawyer."[37][38]
On 21 November Dunn's parents expressed their disgust with Raab, who had defended the government's decision to seek legal costs from them.[who? ] The Foreign and Commonwealth Office said there was not "any reasonably arguable ground of legal challenge" in a legal case Dunn's parents were bringing against them.[39] On 25 November Dunn's father, together with a group of more than 50 others, were, for fire safety reasons, prevented by staff from entering a hustings attended by Raab in East Molesey Methodist Church.[40]
On 25 November Dunn's parents submitted a judicial review of the Foreign Secretary's actions over the extension of diplomatic immunity to intelligence staff and families at RAF Croughton. They stated that UK-US "secret treaties" have been disclosed but the documents do not cover immunity for family members. A FCO spokesman commented "As the Foreign Secretary set out in Parliament, the individual involved had diplomatic immunity whilst in the country under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations."[41]
On 30 November it was reported that Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby had written to the US ambassador in London early in October, asking that the extradition of Anne Sacoolas should not be blocked, but had at the time not received a reply.[42]
In December 2019 Dunn's parents announced they were to file a civil lawsuit in Virginia, where Sacoolas lived, in the hope of compelling her to return to England, turn herself in and face charges. The family's lawyer planned to rely on English common law dating back to 1774, which states that, even though the offence may have been committed in one country, the accused can face charge in another.[43]
On 4 January 2020 groups of protesters, holding signs saying "Justice 4 Harry", gathered outside RAF Croughton. In a strongly-worded statement released by the family, they vowed not to stop demonstrating until "common sense prevails and the US government agrees not to abuse their power again".[44]
Charges [ edit ] On 20 December 2019, the Crown Prosecution Service announced that Sacoolas was to be charged with causing death by dangerous driving and that it was starting extradition proceedings against her. Sacoolas's lawyer said: "Anne will not return voluntarily to the UK to face a potential jail sentence for what was a terrible but unintentional accident", adding that "the potential 14-year sentence was "not proportionate".[45][46]
On 22 December 2019 Dunn's family met with the Home Secretary, Priti Patel, and their MP, Andrea Leadsom, at their home. Their family spokesman said they were now "incredibly reassured this whole saga will be dealt with under the rule of law".[47][48]
On 10 January 2020, the Home Office formally requested the extradition of Sacoolas to face charges in the United Kingdom.[49] The US State Department's initial response was "The use of an extradition treaty to attempt to return the spouse of a former diplomat by force would establish an extraordinarily troubling precedent" and that the request was "highly inappropriate".[50] On 23 January US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo formally rejected the request for extradition. The family spokesman said they had taken the news "in our stride". The Home Office said the decision appeared "to be a denial of justice". Andrea Leadsom, was planning to meet the US ambassador, Woody Johnson, in London on 24 January to discuss the case.[51]
Later developments [ edit ] On 18 January 2020 Northamptonshire Chief Constable Nick Adderley requested an urgent meeting with the commander of the military base after footage emerged of another vehicle on the wrong side of the road near RAF Croughton.[52][53] Officers gave details of a separate crash, in October, in which a police vehicle had been struck by a car being driven on the wrong side of the road.[54]
On 9 February 2020, the Mail on Sunday disclosed that Sacoolas was previously involved in espionage with the US CIA.[55] Following the disclosure, which was subsequently confirmed by Sky News, and widely reported by other news outlets, Dunn's mother expressed her family's suspicions that the British government were not fully sharing their knowledge of Sacoolas's past role with them.[55][56] The Times speculated that the UK's prime minister would come under more pressure to meet the Dunn family.[55] The Times also suggested that the disclosure could lead to allegations that the US were giving Sacoolas special protection because of her past activities with the CIA.[55] The New York Post reported that Jeremy Hunt had said that the disclosure might explain why the US had declined to authorise Sacoolas's extradition.[56] The family spokesman called for a public inquiry into the matter.[56]
See also [ edit ] Special RelationshipLeft- and right-hand trafficYangju highway incidentDeath of Teo PeterRaymond Allen Davis incidentReferences [ edit ] ^ Dimmer, Sam (2 September 2019). "Tributes to 'bubbly and outgoing' Banbury teenager who died in Croughton crash". LeicesterLive . Retrieved 14 October 2019 . ^ a b c Wintour, Patrick (8 October 2019). "Harry Dunn death: Foreign Office doubt Anne Sacoolas will return to UK". The Guardian. ^ a b "U.S. refuses to extradite Anne Sacoolas, diplomat's wife charged with killing a British teen Harry Dunn - The Washington Post". ^ a b Board, Post Editorial (January 25, 2020). "Trump should waive diplomatic immunity for Anne Sacoolas". ^ Badshah, Nadeem (November 30, 2019). "Archbishop of Canterbury demands wife of US diplomat be extradited to UK" '' via www.theguardian.com. ^ Davies, Gareth; Johnson, Jamie; Hardy, Jack (October 22, 2019). "Police chief in charge of Harry Dunn car crash case says he would not do anything differently as he admits his officers missed two opportunities to arrest diplomat's wife" '' via www.telegraph.co.uk. ^ "Trump's 'bombshell' offer to family of teen killed in car crash: Diplomat's wife is in next room". NBC News. ^ a b "Parents of British teen killed in crash involving U.S. diplomat's wife demand answers". CBS. 8 October 2019 . Retrieved 10 October 2019 . ^ Pearce, Tim (9 October 2019). "Anger as wife of American 'spy' flees Britain after killing youth in traffic accident". Washington Examiner . Retrieved 22 October 2019 . ^ a b "PM's plea to US to rethink immunity over Harry Dunn fatal crash". BBC News. 7 October 2019 . Retrieved 9 October 2019 . ^ Wintour, Patrick (6 November 2019). "Harry Dunn death: ambulance delay 'left teenager untreated on road for 43 minutes ' ". The Guardian . Retrieved 11 November 2019 . ^ "Harry Dunn crash: Teenager's parents raise ambulance 'concerns ' ". BBC News. 6 November 2019 . Retrieved 11 November 2019 . ^ a b c Gareth Davies; Jamie Johnson; Jack Hardy (22 October 2019). "Police chief in charge of Harry Dunn car crash case says he would not do anything differently as he said his officers missed two opportunities to arrest diplomat's wife". Daily Telegraph . Retrieved 23 October 2019 . ^ Busby, Mattha (December 3, 2019). "Harry Dunn death: a timeline of key events" '' via www.theguardian.com. ^ "Harry Dunn crash: US diplomat's wife 'devastated' by death". BBC News. 13 October 2019 . Retrieved 13 October 2019 . ^ "Harry Dunn crash death: US diplomat's wife Anne Sacoolas 'admits driving on wrong side of road ' ". uk.news.yahoo.com. ^ [https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/10/22/anne-sacoolas-harry-dunn-british-detectives-sent-us/ ^ Busby, Mattha (22 October 2019). "Harry Dunn death: UK police to interview Anne Sacoolas under caution". The Guardian . Retrieved 22 October 2019 . ^ "Harry Dunn crash: Police to interview suspect under caution in US". BBC News. 22 October 2019 . Retrieved 22 October 2019 . ^ "Harry Dunn crash suspect interviewed by police". BBC News. 31 October 2019 . Retrieved 31 October 2019 . ^ "Harry Dunn death: Crash suspect Anne Sacoolas interviewed in US". BBC News. 31 October 2019 . Retrieved 31 October 2019 . ^ Mee, Emily (31 October 2019). "Harry Dunn: UK police interview suspect Anne Sacoolas in US over teenager's death". Sky News . Retrieved 1 November 2019 . ^ Wintour, Patrick (1 November 2019). "Harry Dunn death: police submit file to CPS after interviewing Anne Sacoolas". The Guardian . Retrieved 1 November 2019 . ^ Catherine, Philp (8 October 2019). "Diplomat's wife Anne Sacoolas has a poor driving record in US". The Times . Retrieved 10 October 2019 . ^ Susan Katz Keating (11 October 2019). " ' He doesn't work for us:' NSA disavows husband of American spy in UK traffic death". Washington Examiner . Retrieved 13 October 2019 . ^ Walker, Amy (13 October 2019). "Diplomatic immunity no longer applies to Anne Sacoolas, says Foreign Office". The Guardian . Retrieved 14 October 2019 . ^ Wintour, Patrick (13 October 2019). "Harry Dunn's parents to meet Anne Sacoolas as immunity row continues". The Guardian . Retrieved 14 October 2019 . ^ "Harry Dunn's parents to 'fight for change ' ". BBC News. 7 October 2019 . Retrieved 19 October 2019 . ^ a b "Harry Dunn crash: Donald Trump notes say US suspect "will not return to UK " ". BBC News. 10 October 2019 . Retrieved 11 October 2019 . ^ Hassan, Jennifer (16 October 2019). "Trump stuns Harry Dunn's parents, says woman in crash that killed their son is nearby and able to meet". The Washington Post. Harry Dunn's parents, who were visiting the U.S., had no idea they were to meet President Trump, much less the woman who after the incident in Britain claimed diplomatic immunity and returned to the U.S. ^ Magra, Iliana (16 October 2019). "Trump Meets Grieving Britons, and Springs a Surprise". The New York Times. At the White House, the parents of Harry Dunn were told that the woman they want to hold accountable for his death in a car crash was in an adjoining room. ^ Wamsley, Laurel (16 October 2019). "Family 'Ambushed' By Trump Suggestion To Meet With Woman Who Caused Fatal Crash". NPR News. ^ "Harry Dunn parents say they rejected Trump offer of cheque". November 7, 2019 '' via www.theguardian.com. ^ "Dunn crash death suspect 'expected to be charged ' ". BBC News. 18 October 2019. ^ "Government admits hiding information from Harry Dunn's family". The Independent. 18 October 2019. ^ "Diplomatic immunity review launched after Harry Dunn case". The Guardian. Press Association. 21 October 2019 . Retrieved 23 October 2019 . ^ "Trump: Harry Dunn crash death suspect had compelling story to tell". Evening Standard. November 1, 2019. ^ "EXCLUSIVE: President Trump On Harry Dunn's Death". LBC. ^ "Dunn's family 'disgusted' with Raab over costs". November 21, 2019 '' via www.bbc.co.uk. ^ "Raab heckled as Dunn family left out of hustings". November 26, 2019 '' via www.bbc.co.uk. ^ "Harry Dunn's family starts legal action against Foreign Office". The Guardian. Press Association. 26 November 2019 . Retrieved 1 December 2019 . ^ Badshah, Nadeem (30 November 2019). "Archbishop of Canterbury demands wife of US diplomat be extradited to UK". The Guardian . Retrieved 1 December 2019 . ^ "Parents of U.K. teen killed in car crash to file lawsuit in Virginia against American woman". CBS News. 12 December 2019 . Retrieved 2019-12-20 . ^ "Harry Dunn protesters blockade US base demanding diplomat's wife returns to UK". January 4, 2020. ^ "US woman to be charged over Harry Dunn crash death". BBC News. 2019-12-20 . Retrieved 2019-12-20 . ^ Davies, Guy (20 December 2019). "Anne Sacoolas, wife of US diplomat, charged with dangerous driving in death of Harry Dunn". ABC News . Retrieved 2019-12-20 . ^ "Harry Dunn's father meets home secretary". December 22, 2019 '' via www.bbc.co.uk. ^ editor, Patrick Wintour Diplomatic (December 22, 2019). "Harry Dunn's family 'reassured' after meeting with Priti Patel" '' via www.theguardian.com. CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link) ^ Austin, Henry; Li, David K. (10 January 2020). "U.K. formally asks for extradition of U.S. diplomat's wife involved in deadly crash". NBC News . Retrieved 10 January 2020 . ^ "Harry Dunn: Anne Sacoolas extradition bid inappropriate, says US". BBC News. 11 January 2020 . Retrieved 11 January 2020 . ^ "US rejects Harry Dunn death extradition request". January 24, 2020 '' via www.bbc.co.uk. ^ "Harry Dunn: police demand urgent meeting with military base commander". The Guardian. 18 January 2020. ^ " ' Diplomatic cars' seen on wrong side of road near Harry Dunn RAF base". Sky News. 18 January 2020. ^ "New footage shows car driving on wrong side of road near US base where Harry Dunn was killed". Independent. 18 January 2020. ^ a b c d Kennedy, Dominic (9 February 2020). "Harry Dunn family angry that Raab 'hid driver's CIA past ' ". The Times. ^ a b c Brown, Lee (9 February 2020). "Anne Sacoolas, claiming diplomatic immunity in UK teen's death, was reportedly ex-CIA spy". New York Post.
Rudy Giuliani keeps appearing on Fox News '-- despite network's own warnings about "disinformation" | Salon.com
Wed, 19 Feb 2020 10:04
Fox News keeps inviting Rudy Giuliani on despite an internal report warning that President Donald Trump's personal attorney spreads "disinformation" on the conservative network.
A 162-page document produced by the network's research division known as the "Brain Room" alerting producers that Giuliani had a "high susceptibility to disinformation," but he has appeared at least four times on Fox News since the document was publicized, reported The Daily Beast.
Reporter John Solomon, whom the document blasted for playing an "indispensable role" in the Trump-Giuliani scheme against Ukraine, has appeared twice on the Fox Business Network since the report was revealed.
The Fox News briefing accused Giuliani of amplifying disinformation pushed by former Ukrainain prosecutor Yuriy Lutsenko and indicted oligarch Dmytro Firtash, and the document noted Giuliani's indicted associates Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman appeared to have financial ties to Firtash.
The research team urged caution in booking Giuliani and Solomon, along with pro-Trump lawyers Joe diGenova and Victoria Toensing, but that hasn't stopped them from appearing on air.
Just days after Trump was acquitted in his impeachment trial, Giuliani appeared host Jesse Watters' weekend Fox News show to announce that he had three witnesses who were ready to testify against Joe Biden's son.
Giuliani also told Watters in that Feb. 8 appearance that he had evidence that would "totally vindicate" Trump, and claimed to have "smoking gun" evidence against Hunter Biden to justify a Senate investigation.
The president's personal attorney appeared the following morning on Maria Bartiromo's program to push similar claims, along with the declaration that a so-called black ledger involving Paul Manafort's foreign dealings was, according to Giuliani, a "forgery."
"The amount of crimes the Democrats committed in Ukraine are astounding," Giuliani shouted at Bartiromo, while waving a sheet of paper. "If there were a document about you or me like this. I think we'd be in jail by now."
Solomon also claimed, in his Feb. 7 appearance on Lou Dobbs' Fox Business show, the Manafort ledger was a "fabrication," which he and Giuliani have done for months to undermine the Russia probe.
Giuliani appeared twice more last week on Fox News, where he continued to claim "smoking gun" evidence to bust the Bidens and exonerate Manafort.
A Fox News executive told The Daily Beast that the research division produced the report in the course of its normal duties, and justified the ongoing appearances by individuals named in the document.
"The research division of FOX News produces a briefing book for all major stories, which serves as a standing collection of extensive data on major topics for internal use by all those in editorial functions. The Ukraine briefing book is nothing more than a comprehensive chronological account of what every person involved in the Ukraine controversy was doing at any identifiable point in time, including tracking media appearances of major players who appeared on FOX News and in many other outlets," said Mitch Kweit, senior vice president of the Brain Room, in a statement. "The 200-page document has thousands of data points and the vast majority have no relation to FOX News'--instead it's now being taken out of context and politicized to damage the network."
Journal retracts hotly contested paper on vaping and heart attacks '' Retraction Watch
Wed, 19 Feb 2020 09:04
via WikimediaThe Journal of the American Heart Association (JAHA) today retracted a paper it published last year claiming that vaping was linked to heart attacks.
The paper, by Dharma Bhatta and Stanton Glantz of the University of California, San Francisco, has faced a barrage of criticism since its publication last June '-- and Glantz's claims, in a blog post, that the study was ''More evidence that e-cigs cause heart attacks.''
Brad Rodu, a professor at the University of Louisville who comments frequently on vaping, asked the journal to retract the study shortly after it was published. The study, he said, had failed to account for which happened first '-- heart attacks or vaping. The contretemps was the subject of a July 2019 story by USA Today:
However, when Rodu obtained the federal data, he found the majority of the 38 patients in the study who had heart attacks had them before they started vaping '-- by an average of 10 years earlier. In his letter to the editors, Rodu called Glantz's findings ''false and invalid.''
JAHA published a correction to the article's supplemental material in November:
The authors had not properly obtained permission from the Inter'university Consortium for Political and Social Research, the organization that manages the PATH restricted use dataset, to publish 8 numbers that represented the detailed event breakdowns listing number of MIs among e'cigarette users in Table S6 of their article. In order to come into compliance with the Restricted Use Data Agreement and Data Security Plan to which the authors and their institution, the University of California San Francisco agreed, they have replaced Table S6 with a version that does not include the offending numbers. Removing these details does not affect the text or conclusions of the paper.
The authors regret the error.
In today's retraction notice, the journal writes:
After becoming aware that the study in the above'referenced article did not fully account for certain information in the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health [PATH] Wave 1 survey, the editors of Journal of the American Heart Association reviewed the peer review process.
During peer review, the reviewers identified the important question of whether the myocardial infarctions occurred before or after the respondents initiated e'cigarette use, and requested that the authors use additional data in the PATH codebook (age of first MI and age of first e'cigarettes use) to address this concern. While the authors did provide some additional analysis, the reviewers and editors did not confirm that the authors had both understood and complied with the request prior to acceptance of the article for publication.
Post publication, the editors requested Dr. Bhatta et al conduct the analysis based on when specific respondents started using e'cigarettes, which required ongoing access to the restricted use dataset from the PATH Wave 1 survey.1 The authors agreed to comply with the editors' request. The deadline set by the editors for completion of the revised analysis was not met because the authors are currently unable to access the PATH database. Given these issues, the editors are concerned that the study conclusion is unreliable.
The editors hereby retract the article from publication in Journal of the American Heart Association.
The paper has been cited seven times, according to Clarivate Analytics' Web of Science.
Glantz stands by paper
Glantz, one of the world's leading researchers on tobacco control, tells Retraction Watch that:
The University of Michigan has cut off all of UCSF's access. UCSF has been working to try and get access restored for months.
He said he was preparing a blog post on the matter and that:
We stand behind the paper as published.
In October 2018, we reported at STAT that UCSF had agreed to pay a former postdoc $150,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit involving Glantz. In the settlement, Glantz and UCSF ''deny and dispute'' the allegations by the former postdoc.
Like Retraction Watch? You can make a tax-deductible contribution to support our work, follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, add us to your RSS reader, or subscribe to our daily digest. If you find a retraction that's not in our database, you can let us know here. For comments or feedback, email us at team@retractionwatch.com.
John Kelly defends Vindman: 'He did exactly what we teach them to do' - POLITICO
Wed, 19 Feb 2020 01:34
The remarks from Kelly, a retired Marine Corps general, come after Vindman was removed Friday from his role as the top Ukraine specialist on the NSC and escorted from the White House grounds. Vindman's twin brother Yevgeny, who served as a senior lawyer on the NSC, was also forced from his post.
Their dismissals were widely viewed among Democratic lawmakers and administration critics as an act of political retaliation after Vindman informed White House attorney John Eisenberg of Trump's conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and proceeded to cooperate with the House impeachment investigation.
Kelly, who served as Trump's most senior aide from July 2017 until early last year, said Vindman's decision to escalate his concerns about the call were in line with the protocol of the armed forces.
''We teach them, Don't follow an illegal order. And if you're ever given one, you'll raise it to whoever gives it to you that this is an illegal order, and then tell your boss,'' Kelly said Wednesday of Vindman's flagging of the call, during which Trump pressured Zelensky to open foreign probes into his domestic political rivals.
Kelly also appeared to affirm that he believed Trump did indeed condition hundreds of millions of dollars in vital military aid to Ukraine on Zelensky's agreement to assist in the investigations of former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter.
''Through the Obama administration up until that phone call, the policy of the U.S. was militarily to support Ukraine in their defensive fight against '.... the Russians,'' Kelly said. ''And so, when the president said that continued support would be based on X, that essentially changed. And that's what that guy [Vindman] was most interested in.''
Trump swatted at Kelly on Twitter later Thursday for weighing in on Vindman, declaring that his former chief of staff ''has a military and legal obligation'' to keep silent about administration affairs.
''When I terminated John Kelly, which I couldn't do fast enough, he knew full well that he was way over his head. Being Chief of Staff just wasn't for him,'' the president wrote. ''He came in with a bang, went out with a whimper, but like so many X's, he misses the action & just can't keep his mouth shut, which he actually has a military and legal obligation to do.''
Trump went on to write that Kelly's ''incredible wife, Karen, who I have a lot of respect for, once pulled me aside & said strongly that 'John respects you greatly. When we are no longer here, he will only speak well of you.' Wrong!''
White House officials in recent days have sought to deflect backlash from the Vindmans' ousters, with counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway asserting Monday that the brothers were not fired.
Conway told Fox News that the Vindmans remain ''employed today,'' but did not explain why Alexander's detail to the NSC ended on Friday when it was previously slated to finish in July.
''They are working at the Army, where they were. They were detailed to the NSC. This is typical,'' she said. ''I've had detailees on my small staff. This is very typical in a White House to have a detailee for a temporary period of time who then returns to what their full-time job is.''
National security adviser Robert O'Brien also insisted Tuesday that the Vindmans were ''absolutely'' not retaliated against, and instead suggested that their removals were intended to foil alleged efforts to undermine the president.
''We're not a country where a bunch of lieutenant colonels can get together and decide what the policy is of the United States,'' O'Brien said during an event at the Atlantic Council think tank. ''We are not a banana republic.''
But Trump claimed Saturday that Vindman was ''OUT'' because he was ''very insubordinate,'' reported ''incorrectly'' the contents of the July call with Zelensky, and ''was given a horrendous report by his superior.''
The president said Tuesday that the military will likely explore disciplinary action against Vindman, telling reporters in the White House that ''they're going to certainly, I would imagine, take a look at that.''
Kelly's comments Wednesday regarding Vindman mark his most forceful repudiation yet of Trump's conduct during the Ukraine scandal, which resulted in his impeachment by the House in December and acquittal in a Senate trial earlier this month.
The former chief of staff expressed disagreement in his Wednesday night remarks with Trump over a variety of other topics, touching on North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Russian President Vladimir Putin, the administration's proposed border wall, and rhetoric related to migrants and the media during a 75-minute speech and question-and-answer session.
Kelly was also critical of Trump's intervention in November in the cases of Navy SEAL Chief Eddie Gallagher and two more service members implicated in war crimes '-- an episode which resulted in former Navy Secretary Richard Spencer being pushed out of the administration.
''The idea that the commander-in-chief intervened there, in my opinion, was exactly the wrong thing to do,'' Kelly said of the Gallagher case. ''Had I been there, I think I could have prevented it.''
Kelly has not hesitated to break with the official White House line since departing the administration in January 2019. Two weeks ago, he said, ''I believe John Bolton,'' the former national security adviser who recounted in excerpts of a forthcoming memoir that Trump pursued a quid pro quo with Ukraine, according to news accounts of the book.
White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham likened Kelly to Bolton in an interview Thursday, implying that both former officials were seeking to hinder the president's reelection prospects.
''It's interesting that he's starting to poke his head out and speak a little bit more, just like John Bolton, as we're getting close to an election,'' Grisham told Fox News, adding that her experiences with Kelly in the White House ran counter to his statements Wednesday.
''I was disappointed, obviously. Especially, I saw some of the comments that he made, and I was in the room with him when he actually backed the president on many of the things that he's now saying, you know, weren't great,'' Grisham said. ''Talking about the media, especially. I have heard John Kelly say some things about the media, so I thought it was a little disingenuous.''
Austin Businesses Sound Alarm over Homelessness Hitting 'Boiling Point'
Wed, 19 Feb 2020 00:55
The homelessness problem is getting out of hand and increasing the risk of danger, a steakhouse owner in Austin, Texas, said recently.
''Our biggest thing is this isn't safe for anybody, and that includes the homeless population,'' Vince Young Steakhouse's Executive Chef Phillip Brown told KXAN.
On Twitter Wednesday, Brown shared photos he took of a large cardboard box behind his restaurant where people had set up camp:
@MayorAdler @austintexasgov This is not where people should be camping '' this is the alleyway of our business. Not only is this VERY unsafe for our guests, patrons and staff, this is not a safe space to camp out! Something must change! @ToddAndDonKLBJ pic.twitter.com/ezg6DvWTtL
'-- VinceYoungSteakhouse (@vysteakhouse) February 13, 2020
While there are now more police in the area, Brown said, ''They can't be everywhere all the time.''
On January 25, Austin police arrested a homeless woman who reportedly confessed to stabbing five women in the famous Sixth Street area of the city, according to Breitbart News.
Austin police Chief Brian Manley said when an officer approached one of the women, she was ''lying on the ground in a pool of blood.''
''The witnesses described seeing the suspect, after passing their group take a swing, hitting at the victim, hitting the victim and the victim falling to the ground,'' he stated.
For Brown, problems regarding the homeless issue escalated a year and a half ago when an alleged homeless man began knocking tables over on the restaurant's patio, then hit him in the head.
At the hospital, the chef received 13 stitches.
However, Mayor Steve Adler told KXAN Monday that Austin is one of the safest big cities in America and said people should not automatically link the homeless to violent crimes.
''We have a challenge. We're attacking it, not hiding it,'' he commented.
In November, Craig Staley, co-owner of Royal Blue Grocery, said the homeless population grew somewhat empowered after the city council voted to weaken ordinances regarding panhandling, lying on sidewalks, and camping in certain public areas.
Staley noted that his employees were being confronted more often and shoplifting had also increased.
''When we first opened our store last decade, if you had trouble with someone that was homeless, you'd say, 'You can't sit there,' and they'd say, 'Okay, sorry.' And now it's, 'Screw you.' They changed the world downtown in about three weeks,'' he said.
Brown knows the problems will not be fixed overnight but explained that he has become weary of dealing with them on such a frequent basis.
''We just want some support and feel that we are being cared about, that our opinion does matter,'' he concluded.
I'd like to thank my family, my agent, my manager, and of course the Podcast Academy >> Nieman Journalism Lab
Tue, 18 Feb 2020 12:57
Feb. 18, 2020, 12:40 p.m.
What does ''legitimacy'' mean in an open industry? Plus: Is there really still a difference between podcasting and radio? A London station is trying to find out.
Welcome to Hot Pod, a newsletter about podcasts. This is issue 246, dated February 18, 2020.
The Podcast Academy. Last Friday, a group of podcast publishers and related operatives announced the formation of something called The Podcast Academy '-- not to be mistaken with what appears to be a semi-amateur Australian resource for podcasters of the same name '-- which they described as a nonprofit organization dedicated to ''elevating awareness and excitement for podcasts as a major media category and advancing knowledge and relationships in and around the business.''
Its activities will involve things like holding webinars, organizing networking events, and publishing white papers, but its flagship endeavor seems to be an awards program called called the Golden Mics. (Between ''Golden Mic'' and the use of the word ''academy,'' the whole nomenclature strikes me as a little derivative and cringe-worthy, which perhaps doesn't bode well for the endgame effort of ''elevating excitement.'' Then again, ''Hot Pod.'')
The newly formed body, which will be driven by membership, pitches itself as for both industry professionals and independent podcasters, however you define those terms. Its founding members include executives from Wondery, Stitcher, NPR, PRX, Tenderfoot TV, Spotify, and Sony Music, along with Criminal's Lauren Spohrer, Spoke Media's Alia Tavakolian, UTA's Oren Rosenbaum, and Rekha Murthy, a former PRX exec turned independent operator. From what I can glean from how the idea originally came across my plate (not to mention the framing in the Bloomberg report), Wondery's Hernan Lopez seems to be leading the charge on this.
As the Variety writeup highlights, a number of major podcast publishers haven't declared allegiance to the Podcast Academy, at least just yet. That list includes iHeartMedia (which, by the way, operates its own competing podcast awards), The New York Times, Entercom (which owns Cadence13 and Pineapple Street), Westwood One, and Luminary. The academy will start accepting applications for membership later in the spring.
The response to the announcement seems to have been broadly accommodating; a handful of independent podcast sources have explicitly cited the involvement of PRX, still an indie darling in certain circles, as a reason to be somewhat optimistic. But there are nonetheless pockets of skepticism, much of it rooted, understandably, in a familiar anxiety: that the academy and its awards system may end up creating structural advantages for its members (in particular, the employers of the people who make up its governing body) to the zero-sum detriment of everyone else.
It's a fascinating parallel to broader platform monopoly worries. These concerns about the academy appear to be an expression of an elemental fear: that power in podcasting '-- historically valued for its decentralized nature where any creator could ostensibly build a following and a business without having to negotiate with gatekeepers '-- would be consolidated in the hands of a relative few by virtue of this academy. In other words, there exists some theoretical concern that the Podcast Academy represents the formation of a true gatekeeper.
(Of course, one could argue that Apple, with its informal status as the ecosystem's impartial steward, has long been podcasting's historical gatekeeper. Such a perspective is now challenged, as the recent competitive overtures by Spotify suggest a shift away from this status quo. In any case, Apple hasn't exactly operated as a true gatekeeper, acting instead as a kind of distant God: life-giving, but ultimately passive in the overt shaping of things.)
All these things put together represents another episode in an on-going tension that has come to define podcasting's recent history: on the one hand, you have an ecosystem that, on average, would like to accelerate the growth of its stature, fortunes, and reputation in broader culture, but on the other hand, you also have an ecosystem that, in some corners, is worried about a consolidation of power to achieve those ends, whether it's through the spendy machinations of Spotify'... or the formation of a formal trade body like the Podcast Academy.
Let me say that the body's stated goal of ''elevating awareness and excitement for podcasts'' is by itself a tall task. Beyond the simple base function of brand marketing, we're essentially talking about the academy being in the business of manufacturing cultural currency, relevance, and prestige. A sense of ''cool,'' even. Now I'm no reliable source in matters of cool '-- my vehicle of choice is a nondescript minivan, for practical reasons '-- but even I know that cultivating it is laughably hard and complicated.
Beyond that, the Podcast Academy also faces an even bigger and more specific challenge: It has to develop some sense of legitimacy as a body that speaks for both so-called industry professionals and independent podcasters. Justly or not, those two things have mostly been held in opposition to each other, a condition exacerbated by the ever-changing nature of the latter by virtue of its low barriers to entry.
Building legitimacy is perhaps more straightforward in communities that already have substantial gatekeeping. Forgive the radical oversimplification, but: When it comes to something like film or music, where the industrial story largely revolves around the formation of professional associations (typically grounded in seeking control of the high-cost infrastructures of production and distribution, realities that aren't true for podcasting) and the subsequent clustering of power among a relative few who control those infrastructures, ''legitimacy'' is more clearly defined, because it's eminently clear who holds control over the forces that shape the industry, and therefore its narrative.
Who ''legitimately'' gets to represent podcasting is less clear. Looking for an industry-shaping force? We're at a moment where the podcast ecosystem's underlying power dynamics have never been more fluid or contested '-- Spotify vs. Apple, how podcast advertising is understood and sold, and so on. Sure, any individual actor can step forward and attempt to claim legitimacy, but such attempts will likely be rendered inert fairly quickly. One example would be iHeartMedia's own attempt at podcast awards, now in their second year. They've raised eyebrows not only because we're talking about an awards system where the facilitator is also a competitor '-- thus evoking questions over the robustness, integrity, and trustworthiness of its process '-- but also because we're about a company that has yet to establish strong association with the core identity of podcasting in the broader culture.
Perhaps we'll eventually arrive at a place where podcast industry-shaping power is ultimately held by only a few, in which case all this blather about representational legitimacy will be rendered moot. Until then, the task for the Podcast Academy would be to establish legitimacy by assembling a meaningful coalition, one that adequately unites enough kingdoms between ''industry professionals'' and ''independent podcasters'' under a shared system of recognition.
There is, of course, a way to approach this task cynically '-- don't really bother to be fully representative of the podcast universe as a whole; try to build the buzziest possible coalition out of a willing few; cultivate an system where the holdouts will ultimately see more benefits from participating than from standing outside in the cold. History is written by the victors, after all.
But the involvement of PRX '-- which has historically advocated to preserve the open nature of podcasting '-- suggests that such a strategy isn't in the cards. But they'll still have to contend with the conundrum inherent to representing independent podcasters: How can a discrete few speak for the theoretically infinite?
That's a question the Podcast Academy will probably have to really grapple with if it wants to go anywhere at all. Whether it's through continuous and consistent provision of meaningful community support '-- the webinars, networking events, white papers, and so on '-- or through a system of awards and recognition that actually feels fair to all parties, the academy must make the case that it matters to podcasting before it can make the case that podcasting matters to everyone else.
On the airwaves [by Caroline Crampton]. For as long as there have been podcasts, people have tried to put them on the radio. In 2005, CBS Radio transformed San Francisco's KYCY into ''K-You Radio,'' which broadcast podcast episodes around the clock until it was shuttered two years later. Since 2008, PRX has produced PRX Remix, a rotation of podcast and podcast-like content that airs on public radio stations around the country '-- 24/7 for three of them. iHeartRadio launched its own all-podcast station in Pennsylvania just last year. The CBC, BBC, RNZ, RTE and other broadcasters all have radio shows that play a selection of podcasts, often interspersed with interviews with podcasters.
This month, another example arrived with the launch of Podcast Radio, a new digital station based in London. It can be picked up by DAB+ digital radios in London and Surrey, or via its website or apps. The station operates on a schedule (unlike PRX Remix, for instance, which prizes serendipity above appointment listening); from what I've seen of the selection so far, the shows being featured are mostly from the U.K. and almost universally small, independent productions without affiliation to professional audio outfits.
I spotted a few very active posts about this new venture popping up in podcaster communities throughout 2019, and wondered: Now that a podcast can be recognized for a Pulitzer Prize '-- among many other honors '-- do we still need to keep up the idea that there's something qualitatively different between radio and podcasting?
I reached out to Gerry Edwards, founder and CEO of Podcast Radio, to find out more. His desire to do it, he said when we spoke on the phone late last week, came from his own frustrated podcasting experiences. He used to host a comedy show with a friend and was shocked at how their access to professional radio facilities and background in broadcasting didn't translate into podcasting success.
''We had all the ease of access, we had content coming out of our ears,'' he told me. ''And still we were like, wow, people have to spend so much to be seen amongst all the other podcasts'...We were in the U.K. comedy Top 10 for about four days, then we disappeared, and no one ever heard of our podcast again.''
Edwards had previously been involved in starting two other radio stations and felt using one as a vehicle for podcast discovery was worth a shot. It took just over a year to research all of the complexities of the venture, from the legal status of republishing podcast content to ensuring compliance with U.K. broadcast regulations. (Radio stations are subject to Ofcom's code; podcasts aren't.)
''We had loads of difficult conversations in the first six months,'' Edwards said. ''Effectively, we're doing two things: We're both creating a 24-hour speech radio station, and we're marketing people's podcasts.''
I think the substance of one of those difficult conversations was revealed on the BBC's Media Show last week, when Steve Ackerman, managing director at the large independent production house Somethin' Else (which just announced a partnership with Sony), revealed that he'd declined the opportunity to put his company's podcasts on the station since there was no money on offer for the rights.
And that's the perplexing thing about Podcast Radio. Edwards isn't paying any podcasters for the right to rebroadcast their episodes; the thinking is that those featured are accepting ''exposure'' for their show and an as-yet unmeasurable boost in listenership as recompense. Baked in host-read sponsorship spots are permitted to remain, but anything that was being dynamically inserted isn't broadcast. Expletives must be bleeped for Ofcom reasons, which means extra work for some podcasters, too.
Again, Edwards sees his station as a mechanism for podcast discovery, especially among radio-only listeners yet to try podcasts. He explained the lack of payments to podcasters by pointing out that at the moment, the whole thing operates at a loss. ''We don't charge them and we don't pay them, because it actually costs us money to be a radio station at this stage. We've got all the fees and all the carriage costs.''
To maintain the station's status as a ''sampler'' for potential listeners, Edwards takes only a few episodes from each show. ''That's not our model'...You own the rights. We just showcase them and invite people to go and find your full series.'' There are links for each show featured on the station's website, as well as callouts by presenters, but it's unclear how many casual radio listeners will go searching for them '-- or, indeed, how such conversions could be measured.
Edwards didn't seem too sure exactly how the station will ever make money. For now, he's put his own cash on the line, and he has an investor in the form of ''one local guy who loves radio from the '60s and '70s who I talked to last February.'' During our conversation, the prospect of the station running branded content came up, as did the idea of bigger publishers eventually paying for a broadcast slot, although both are hypothetical at the moment, and Edwards is keen to keep Podcast Radio focused on independent creators.
It's really easy to be pessimistic about this venture '-- the financial model seems a bit vague, and the ''content for exposure'' transaction has always raised an eyebrow. But in a way, what Edwards is doing does at least feel somewhat respectful to podcasting's low-barriers origins '-- when major broadcasters still often treat even the most highly regarded podcasts as some kind of poor relation.
Edwards does seem to have founded Podcast Radio out of an affinity for the form, as practiced by hobbyists, obsessives, and friends shooting the shit around a mic. Even with all my reservations around audience capture, conversion measurement, a viable business model, and most importantly, creator payments, I'm curious to see where this thing will go.
An alternative to podcast financing. I was tempted to kick this story off with a platitude along the lines of: ''Starting something is the hardest part.'' Then I thought better of it, because that's not strictly true. Keeping something going can be much harder, as in the case of a conversation, relationship, or even this newsletter, because with starting something, you at least get the energy-sparking juice of novelty. Hell, you could even apply that argument to this very section: 76 words in and I'm barely keeping the energy up.
But wait! Don't go, because I think this is a really interesting one, especially if you like stories about financing for creative projects. The peg here involves the fine folks over at Multitude, the Brooklyn-based podcast collective and production studio that we've written about a couple of times now.
To recap: Multitude is an independent outfit built around a handful of warm-hearted shows, mostly but not always of the relaxed conversational variety. Here's how they sum themselves up:
Our mission is to create shows about the subjects we love, from mythology to basketball to Dungeons & Dragons, and build incredible communities around them'--all supported by our community of MultiCrew members. We also help our clients produce, edit, market, and monetize great podcasts, and rent our NYC studio at affordable rates.
Learn more about our podcasts: a celebration of all things basketball for fans and newcomers alike; a sound-rich audio drama governed by the rules of Dungeons & Dragons; a grown man's first tour through a beloved children's book series; a drink-and-chat history lesson; and a passionate re-watch of an obscure queer TV show. We are all about enthusiasm, nuance, and thoughtful examination of the stuff we love.
They've consistently piqued our interest for the shrewdness of their operation; since launching in 2017, Multitude has nimbly pushed to diversify its revenue beyond the classic ad-support model, including a spirited adoption of direct support, primarily via Patreon and Memberful, and a tertiary business renting out studio space.
We can now add one more notch to the interesting-ness of their financial life: The Multitude crew are now among the earliest patrons of Patreon Capital, a new alternative financing service by the membership platform. The service provides cash advances to creators in exchange for a slightly greater sum of their future income generated on Patreon.
It's a relatively speedy financing option, one that could come in handy if you need a quick burst of funds to finance a new project requiring higher-than-usual upstart capital. Which is precisely what Multitude needed.
The crew had been developing a somewhat experimental audio sitcom series called Next Stop. Because they were planning to build that series as a SAG-AFTRA production '-- and thus, needing to pay SAG-AFTRA rates '-- they were faced with requiring more upfront money than usual to get things off the ground.
As a smaller business, the issue was an acute expression of their on-going resource managing reality. ''We were running into this problem where we have a ton of great ideas, but because we're a small business, we constantly have to decide between putting money towards paying our people and getting more equipment versus saving it up for a bigger project,'' said Amanda McLoughlin, Multitude's CEO. So, instead of struggling with that balancing act and waiting for a longer period of time to save up the funds, they turned to Patreon Capital when the opportunity came up.
Patreon provided the team with a cash advance of around $75,000 to cover the production budget for the series, with the expectation for Multitude to pay back a slightly greater sum from Next Stop's Patreon earnings over the next two years. (Neither party disclosed the exact figure that Multitude needed to funnel back.) As a matter of risk mitigation, the Patreon revenues of another Multitude show, Join the Party, will be taken as collateral if Next Stop isn't able to generate enough return to fully pay Patreon back after the two-year period.
About a dozen of these Patreon Capital cash advances have been given out so far, and Patreon hopes to expand the program to cover more creators in the year to come. And as the collateral stipulation in the Next Stop arrangement suggests, Patreon will generally be focused on creators who already have a track record in developing solid followings on its platform. ''This arrangement is directly tied to the fact that we have successful podcasts making money on Patreon, and that we've already invested in the Patreon system to pay this stuff back,'' said Eric Silver, Multitude's head of creative.
I'm told Patreon Capital is generally modeled after Shopify Capital; the Canadian e-commerce platform originally rolled out its version of the service in 2016, but it appears to have really vaulted forward in prominence over the past year. According to its latest earnings report, Shopify Capital cash advances were up to $115.9 million last quarter, a 61 percent increase from the same period the previous year. Stripe, the online payments processing giant, has also launched its own ''flexible financing'' service for businesses using its platform, called Stripe Capital, last September.
Patreon Capital, then, is an adaptation of those services for the creative class, whose members are increasingly being made to understand themselves as business entities '-- meaning they increasingly require the kinds of services that contribute to the support of conventional businesses. And given its history and positioning as a creator support platform, Patreon believes it's in a better position than banks to provide creators with the business support they need.
''After all, Patreon has access to all the data about a creator's earnings history, what they offer as benefits, how much they engage with their patrons'...everything needed to forecast their earnings and retention, without a creator even needing to submit an application,'' said Carlos Cabrera, the company's VP of finance. ''This would be essentially impossible for a bank to replicate.''
Patreon Capital is part of Patreon's broader efforts to build a more sustainable future for itself. Around this time last year, Patreon's CEO Jack Conte told CNBC that it needed to ''build new businesses and new services and new revenue lines in order to build a sustainable business,'' saying its core membership platform product '-- which at that time practiced a one-size-fits-all pricing tier that paid out 90 percent to creators '-- was likely to eventually become unsustainable. The company has since switched to a three-tier pricing offering and changed payment processing fees.
That context might be useful to know if you find yourself in Multitude's position and are interested in taking advantage of Patreon Capital. This service is an undoubtedly useful one, and it has the capacity to help substantially more creators manage the risk of standing up new projects '-- but these things don't exist in a vacuum, you know?
Next Stop is due to roll out in April, and I'm told that Multitude plans to publish a blog post breaking down the full budget for that production, so look out for that.
Photo illustration based on 2016 photo by Dorith Mous/A.M.P.A.S.
Trump blasts proposed restrictions on selling U.S. jet parts to China
Tue, 18 Feb 2020 12:53
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday blasted proposals that could restrict U.S. companies' ability to supply jet engines and other components to China's aviation industry and said he had instructed his administration to prevent such moves.
FILE PHOTO: Chinese Vice Premier Liu He and U.S. President Donald Trump sign "phase one" of the U.S.-China trade agreement during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., January 15, 2020. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo
The president's intervention illustrated, at least in this case, his desire to prioritize economic benefits over potential competitive pitfalls and national security concerns.
And it contrasts with his administration's treatment of China's telecoms industry; U.S. companies are prevented from trading with Huawei Technologies, the world's largest telecommunications equipment maker, for national security reasons.
But in a series of tweets on Tuesday, Trump said national security should not be used as an ''excuse'' to make it difficult for foreign countries to buy U.S. products.
''The United States cannot, & will not, become such a difficult place to deal with in terms of foreign countries buying our product, including for the always used National Security excuse, that our companies will be forced to leave in order to remain competitive,'' Trump wrote on Twitter.
''As an example, I want China to buy our jet engines, the best in the World,'' he added.
Trump did not identify the restrictions. The White House declined to comment.
The United States and China, the world's two largest economies, have a complicated and competitive relationship. Trump signed a first-phase trade deal with China earlier this year after a long trade war in which the two sides levied significant tariffs on each others' products. Many of those tariffs are still in place.
Trump's series of tweets on Tuesday was an apparent reference to reports over the weekend that the U.S. government is considering whether to block General Electric Co (GE.N ) from continuing to supply engines for a new Chinese passenger jet.
Washington is also eyeing limits on other components for Chinese commercial aircraft such as flight control systems made by Honeywell International Inc (HON.N ).
Central to the possible crackdown on the sale of U.S. parts to China's aircraft industry is whether shipments could fuel the rise of a serious competitor to U.S.-based Boeing Co (BA.N ) or boost China's military capabilities.
The Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) said it welcomed Trump's comments.
''We applaud President Trump's tweets supporting U.S. companies being able to sell products to China and opposing proposed regulations that would unduly curtail that ability,'' said John Neuffer, the group's president, in a statement. ''As we have discussed with the administration, sales of non-sensitive, commercial products to China drive semiconductor research and innovation, which is critical to America's economic strength and national security.''
Additional reporting by Tim Ahmann; Editing by Tom Brown
Pine64 February Update: Post CNY and FOSDEM Status Report
Tue, 18 Feb 2020 12:47
Nemo Mobile and Ubuntu Touch on the PinePhone at FOSDEM 2020
A lot has happened in the past month. PinePhones have finally begun arriving in the hands of their owners, we had a great showing at FOSDEM, and new hardware was announced. If you haven't yet read my post about our trip to FOSDEM and the new devices, then I encourage you to do so. Behind the scenes, much work is currently being poured into consolidating and evolving current projects as well as exploring new ones. There are some really exciting months ahead of us!
In the meantime, we have plenty to discuss.
Here is this month's TL:DR
Want to write something for the blog? '' contact meProduction is at a standstill; hard to estimate how things unfoldCNY shipping backlog of SBCs & PineTime; HardROCK64 & SOEdge release datesExpect production / order delay for Pinebook Pro, PinePhone and PineTabPinebook Pro NVMe adapter fix; new adapter manufactured Pinebook Pro OS choice is growing rapidly; custom keyboard firmwarePinebook-to-pro upgrade kit delayed (again)PinePhone software status '' 4 key areas discussedPinePhone FCC/CE certification & hardware changes for production unitsPineTab is coming; factory under lockdown, no insight how far along production isWrite something for the blogI'd like to quickly remind everyone that this blog is open to everyone to publish on. If you are working on something exciting and wish to share it with the community then get in touch with me '' I'll set up an account for you. As an enticement I'll add that this blog gets a lot of traffic, so it is a great way for get exposure for whatever you're working on. It also provides you with an opportunity to receive detailed feedback on your work or even get people to join your efforts.
Housekeeping Part 1: 2019-nCov Pandemic There were a couple of things I initially wanted to discuss in this section, but the situation warrants me to focus on the most important topic. And so the main topic on the housekeeping agenda relates to the outbreak of the 2019-nCov Coronavirus and the impact it has on the Guangdong province as well as Hong Kong. For those who do not know, PINE64 devices are produced in the city of Shenzhen located in the Guangdong province, and all equipment with batteries '' such as the Pinebook Pro or PinePhone '' ships out from Hong Kong.
As some of you may already know from my post on the forums, earlier this month Guangdong issued a restrictive order prohibiting work from resuming until February 10th. While, in theory, companies are now allowed to resume business, in practice everything remains at a complete standstill. In other words, our operations and those of our partners as well as factories have not resumed as of today. For a variety of reasons, there is also a limit to how much work our staff can do at the moment.
Factories producing the PinePhone, PineTab and Pinebook Pro remain closed because they need to undergo a long and complicated procedure that will allow them to resume operation. However, due to the huge volume of such government sanctioned procedures required province-wide, it may yet some time before people can even enter the factory. It's worth pointing out that this issue can also be felt up the entire supply chain '' manufacturers of components are also affected by this, and shortages are expected.
Sadly, this isn't the entire extent of the problem; as I've already mentioned, all devices which contain batteries ship from Hong Kong. Earlier this month Hong Kong closed many key crossings to the region from mainland China, including the one which we rely on, and now there is a 2-week long quarantine for anyone arriving from mainland China to Hong Kong. This means that our shipping staff can't reach the Hong Kong warehouse.
So, then, what does all this mean in practice? It means that we cannot produce anything this month and, even if we could, there is no way for us to ship any devices with batteries. I will refrain from speculating as to when things will return to normal. Expect shipping dates to slip considerably. I have a suspicion that the extent of this disturbance will be felt across the entire electronics industry for the rest of the year.
I will keep you updated the best I can in the previously linked thread; the moment I know something I'll make sure to create a new post and update the original entry.
Housekeeping Part 2: Chinese New Year Shipping Backlog We're currently catching up on the Chinese New Year shipping backlog. While we're unable to produce more devices at this time, we can ship existing single board computers as well as the PineTime dev kit from mainland China. Despite the shipping team being severely crippled by current circumstances and the resulting lack of available staff, I expect parcels to keep on steadily going out throughout next week. As I understand it, the process of clearing out the backlog has already begun a few days ago and should be completed shortly. If you've ordered a PINE64 single board computer or PineTime dev kit after January 20th then your order should be en route shortly.
As for the production and availability of the HardROCK64 and SOEdge AI module announced at this year's FOSDEM '' we already accounted for the disruption caused by the pandemic. We also purposefully provided approximate availability dates as it is literally impossible to predict how the situation will unfold. Regardless, the tentative availability dates of April/May 2020 are unaltered at this time.
There is plenty of good news, but let us start with the bad. The bad news is that we need to postpone the production of the RK3399 upgrade kit for the original Pinebook once again. Don't worry, we're not shelving it, we're just prioritizing other things '' such as the newly announced HardROCK64 and SOEdge '' due to the limited manufacturing capacity (caused by the aforementioned pandemic in China). Having already postponed the release of the upgrade kit thrice now, I rather not promise something for a fourth time. Instead I'll say: it's in the works, and as soon as I know something with a high degree of certainty I'll make sure to let you all know.
On to better news. We now have a solution to the original NVMe adapter problems, where the adapter with an NVMe SSD would not fit properly in the laptop chassis. The solution was surprisingly simple, but required us to manufacture a custom holder for the SSD. I apologize for not keeping you up-to-date on the status of this solution; I didn't post anything on the subject because I had no insight into the process. If you have the original NVMe adapter for the Pinebook Pro, please send an email to [email protected] with the following in the subject field:
Subject: New PBP NVMe adapter holder [original order number]
We have now also created a new optional NVMe adapter that will ship with all future Pinebook Pro orders. The new adapter is a little longer, but has a lower profile, and is perfectly aligned with the mounting holes inside the Pinebook Pro chassis. I am told that it has been fitted with a variety of popular NVMe SSDs and no issues were encountered.
New NVMe PCIe adapter top / old NVMe PCIe adapter bottom
The other piece of good news is that the past 30 days have seen many OS releases. We now also have a choice to run Kali Linux, Gentoo, OpenSUSE, Fedora, NetBSD and postmarketOS (Alpine Linux) on the Pinebook Pro. Most of these OSes have been added to the Pinebook Pro Software Releases subsection on our Wiki. I highly suspect that the coming days will see yet more software releases for the Pinebook Pro, including other *BSD systems. This is obviously good and welcome news, since broad support for the Pinebook Pro means more people interested in the project. Personally, I have been running Manjaro with KDE desktop in the recent weeks and the experience has been nothing short of great. If you're considering running Manjaro KDE edition, I suggest you enable OpenGL desktop acceleration via the Panfrost FOSS GPU driver, it makes the installation fly. This can be achieved using this script.
Growing Pinebook Pro OS List
Lastly, I'd like to give a huge shoutout to Jack Humbert for his work on the Pinebook Pro's keyboard firmware. Jack made it possible to create your own custom keymaps for the keyboard, significantly enhancing the potential functionality of the laptop. Just as an example, one user has created and shared theirs ANSI Dvorak layout that supposedly can be used without any problems. It is always exciting to see community members embrace and improve upon implementations which we have given considerable thought to. If you have any questions regarding the process of creating your own custom keymap then I redirect you to the dedicated forum thread discussing the custom firmware implementation.
Before I move onto the next section let me quickly address the elephant in the room; many of you are asking when the next production-run of the Pinebook Pro will commence. We initially intended for new Pinebook Pros to be produced this month, with pre-orders opening now(ish). As I already explained in the housekeeping section, this will not happen. I can only offer you my guess at this point '' and that is that the next pre-order window will open mid-March.
Many Brave Heart edition PinePhones, with the exception of those slated for Germany, have already reached their destination. So far the reception from end-users has been very positive, which admittedly makes me rather thrilled. I'd also like to thank those of you who post previews, reviews, quick-looks, etc. online; every single written or recorded piece of content that I've seen insofar has rightfully included a mention that the PinePhone is a work-in-progress. This is important since, as I see it, the most important aspect of the project currently is showcasing progress while accurately depicting the current state of the software options.
Speaking of PinePhone software options and development status, there is so much information to cover that it would require an entire separate post. Not to mention that I am not the most competent person to cover the subject of software development in the first place. So, instead, what I will do in this section is highlight some of the vital developments of the past couple of weeks.
I want to address 4 main topics: 1) battery life; 2) voice calls; 3) camera implementation; 4) performance. Let's go down the list one-by-one. There are many things pertaining to battery life that are currently being ironed out. On the one hand, a fair bit of work on the AXP803 power management controller and kernel behaviour. I only understand the latter, so I'll comment on that. Marius from UBports has started experimenting with having the kernel downclock the core frequency, drop the CPU voltage and turn off 3 cores when the phone's display is off (in its idle state). This early experimentation has resulted in a stand-by time of approximately 12hrs, which is rather impressive for a first battery-preserving attempt. This will only get better with time, as it becomes paired with more advanced power management. Another developer, Megi, has also managed to dramatically lower the WiFi module's power consumption, which can buy users as much as another hour of runtime during active use.
Picture showing battery drain over ~11 hrs on the PinePhone running Ubuntu Touch
Megi has also demoed voice calls and camera implementation in the past few weeks. While voice calls already work, they also require manual audio routing (for those interested, here are the details). Getting voice calls functional with the individual OSes is being worked on, of course, but there is no telling when the functionality will be available. It could be soon or in a few weeks or months. The story is very similar for both the front and back camera. We have seen a successful demo of the cameras being used from the userspace, but this functionality remains to be implemented into the existing OSes. Out of the two highly desirable features, it is my understanding that voice calls will be easier to implement within a short-to-medium amount of time.
Phone call from Arch Linux on PinePhone ~ Megi
Camera Test application on the PinePhone ~ Megi
Last on the PinePhone software agenda is the subject of performance. To be precise, the end-user experience of using the phone '' the responsiveness of the UI. This is one area where you can expect a lot of changes from one week to another. As an example, KDE Neon from early February suffered from poor performance, making it borderline unusable. Less than two weeks later, the newest KDE Neon OS image is one of the fastest out there (despite it being highly unstable). Similarly, Ubuntu Touch suffers from a significant amount of slow-down in the main UI. This is caused, funny enough, by the wallpaper; replace the wallpaper (for the one with puppies as an example) and watch the performance significantly improve. Such performance issues are very much expected at this point in time, but I expect that their root causes will be found and ironed out relatively soon.
Many users have asked why there is little to no dev dialogue in the #PinePhone chat. For those who don't know, the #PinePhone channel is very active. There are ~2400 users in Discord, ~100 (concurrent) users in IRC, ~800 users in Telegram and ~500 users in Matrix. This makes for an environment where it's very difficult to hold a frequently complex and technical conversation. Development-related chat is very much ongoing, but it's mostly taking place elsewhere. This does not mean, however, that you can't ask devs questions or engage with them '' they are still in the main channel if you need them.
postmarketOS with Phosh performing rather well in newest OS image ~ Alexmitter
The last bit of information related to the PinePhone I wish to discuss before proceeding to the next section concerns consumer-grade PinePhone changes and CE/ FCC certification. We expect to have the certifications in place later this month, which means that all future PinePhones will ship as certified devices. This is good news, since some places such as Germany require this type of certification on consumer products. As for changes to the hardware, there is a list of errata on the Wiki. To be clear, most of these issues are imperfect hardware implementations rather than major problems. We'll work though as many of these errata for the final phone as possible while striving to maintain complete software compatibility with Braveheart phones.
Similarly to the Pinebook Pro, we initially intended to start the production of the phones this month. As I've already explained in previous sections, it is much more likely that production will first begin in March. On the positive side, we have some super exciting things in stock for the PinePhone which we will be sharing with you shortly; we trust that this will more than make up for the pandemic-related manufacturing delays.
PineTabThis section of the update will be rather short since not much has changed since last month. Production of the PineTab early adopter units started prior to Chinese New Year, but due to the factory currently being locked-down and staff unable to access it, we do not know how far along the production process got in January. If we can resume PineTab manufacturing next month alongside the PinePhone and Pinebook Pro, then pre-orders may go live in March. I'll make sure to amend this post with an edit once we know the state of production.
The good news is that we have now internally narrowed down OS choice for this early batch to two OSes. We're in talks with the projects in question to determine which of the two will be the most viable for the first PineTab batch. I expect that we should be announcing what we agreed on next month, so if you're interested in the PineTab now is probably the right time to subscribe to this blog. At any rate, there are now two good options for us to choose from with sufficient software maturity that early adopters have something to start with when they receive their unit.
This wraps it up for this month's community update. I hope to be back with better news next month. In the meantime, we have some important and exciting things coming in the next couple of weeks, so make sure to subscribe to the blog and stay tuned for the upcoming announcements!
Meet the U.S. Attorney
Tue, 18 Feb 2020 12:42
Richard P. Donoghue Richard P. Donoghue is the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York. As U.S. Attorney, Mr. Donoghue is the chief federal law enforcement officer for a district comprising Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island in New York City, and Nassau and Suffolk Counties on Long Island. The district serves over eight million residents through its Criminal Division, with approximately 115 Assistant U.S. Attorneys, and its Civil Division, with approximately 60 U.S.Attorneys. The Criminal Division's main office in Brooklyn has practice area sections including General Crimes, International Narcotics & Money Laundering, Organized Crime & Gangs, National Security & Cybercrime, Business & Securities Fraud, Public Integrity and Civil Rights. The Long Island Criminal Division office in Central Islip is responsible for investigating and prosecuting the full range of federal crimes. The Civil Division, with a main office in Brooklyn and a branch office in Central Islip, is responsible for a wide range of affirmative and defensive litigation, including asset forfeiture, civil rights, environmental enforcement, programs fraud, financial litigation and Civil RICO. An Appeals Division supervises appellate work for the Brooklyn and Long Island Criminal Divisions.
From 2000 to 2011, Mr. Donoghue served as an AUSA in the Eastern District of New York, where he held positions including Chief of the Criminal Division and Chief of the Long Island Criminal Division. As an AUSA, he investigated and prosecuted a wide array of cases, including MS-13 racketeering cases and other violent crime, white collar crime, public integrity offenses and drug trafficking. While at the Office, Mr. Donoghue received the New York City Bar Association's Henry L. Stimson Medal in 2007 (awarded annually to outstanding AUSAs), and the Eastern District Association's 2009 Charles E. Rose Award (awarded annually to outstanding AUSAs).
From 1993 to 2000, Mr. Donoghue served on active duty in the U.S. Army JAG Corps, where he held positions including Military Magistrate Judge, Prosecutor, Defense Counsel and Contract Litigator. From 1993 through 1995, he served as a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne Division.
Most recently, Mr. Donoghue held the position of Chief Litigation Counsel for a major technology corporation, where he oversaw its litigation matters worldwide.
Mr. Donoghue received his B.A., cum laude, from Hofstra University and his J.D. from St. John's University School of Law.
Catherine Herridge on Twitter: "READ: DOJ letter to house judiciary lays out road map for handling Ukraine matters. NEW: adds US Attorney for ''coordination of investigations'' #DOJ #Ukraine https://t.co/Ume8gqNJUC" / Twitter
Tue, 18 Feb 2020 12:41
Cheese Crackers @ Why45huh
54m Replying to
@CBS_Herridge I can't read that small print Can I get a summary?
View conversation · Teresa Ganim @ henleyurban
47m Replying to
@Why45huh @CBS_Herridge Barr told Jerry to F off he has a system to protect the integrity of his investigations so matters of prosecution related to Ukraine won't be contaminated. Hence a designated person not affliated with those cases to take in Ukraine info from the public. He hasn't talked to Rudy.
View conversation · Ernie Bilco @ ErnieBilco1
40m Replying to
View conversation · Shannon Davis'­'­'­ @ shannondd76
27m Replying to
@ErnieBilco1 @CBS_Herridge @BobFutureView AMEN!!!!! MILITARY TRIBUNALS in tv were everyone can see all the evidence, no games , just facts!!!
View conversation · Newborns for Trump @ 1776_DoOrDie
56m Replying to
@CBS_Herridge Democrats thinking of a new scandal
pic.twitter.com/ioxBVrLw4d View conversation · Philip Morrill @ PHMorrill
50m Replying to
@CBS_Herridge You da best showing "journalists" how it is done.
View conversation · LateDecemberBackin63 @ LBackin63
23m Replying to
@CBS_Herridge And they say Russia is our biggest enemy - We need to look at DC first
View conversation · ðŸ--´ Pouncer @ PouncerUSA
45m Replying to
@CBS_Herridge @TheLastRefuge2 and
5 others Ok, Citizen Reporters, do your thang. Who's Richard Donoghue of EDNY and Scott Brady of WDPA? cc:
@TheLastRefuge2 @themarketswork @JohnWHuber @The_War_Economy @Shem_Infinite @dbongino pic.twitter.com/cTSMFWqXGe View conversation · Gone In The Wind @ mytimeisuphere
40m Replying to
@CBS_Herridge months later, barr declines to prosecute since they're democrats and muh optics
View conversation ·
Go gay, fade away
Tue, 18 Feb 2020 12:29
The Boy Scouts of America put a new spin on "go woke, go broke" in filing for bankruptcy:The Boy Scouts of America has filed for bankruptcy protection. Facing mounting legal costs from defending itself against lawsuits alleging sexual abuse of boys, the venerable nonprofit sought Chapter 11 protection in a court filing early Tuesday.A spokesman for the Boy Scouts of America said in a statement that the filing had "two key objectives: equitably compensate victims who were harmed during their time in Scouting and continue carrying out its mission for years to come. The BSA intends to use the Chapter 11 process to create a Victims Compensation Trust that would provide equitable compensation to victims."The Boy Scouts said that only the national organization had filed for Chapter 11 and that local councils that provide programming and other services are financially independent.It's  impossible to feel any sympathy for these suicidal organizations. Once you allow infiltration, cooption is only a matter of time. The remarkable thing is that they still managed to permit this infiltration despite the language of the very Boy Scout's oath.On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; to help other people at all times; to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight. Of course, as we've seen, mere words are insufficient to keep out the inverters, who simply redefine strong to mean weak, awake to mean asleep, and straight to mean gay. This is yet another lesson in why one must always sink the ships.Labels: decline and fall, SJW
State capitalism versus the virus-INSIDE Korea JoongAng Daily
Tue, 18 Feb 2020 12:24
+ A State capitalism versus the virus Feb 18,2020 Children wear improvised face protection made from water bottles in order to protect against the coronavirus at the airport arrival terminal in Guangzhou, Guangdong Province, in China on Feb. 1. [EPA/YONHAP]Kim Dong-ho The author is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo. China has expanded at a staggering pace after liberalization. It reached a milestone in 2010 by edging out Japan as No. 2 in GDP. China is projected to pass the United States by 2040. Its role as the global manufacturing base may not be a sole drive behind its stunning rise. Chinese experts point to a growth by state capitalism as the primary engine. In an interview with the Nikkei, Graham Allison, the founding dean of the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and famous for the theory of the Thucydides Trap '-- an inevitable conflict between existing and emerging powers '-- observed, ''If a more directed system [like China's] facilitates things happening, that would end up leading to better [economic] performance'' than democratic countries like the United States in today's world. These days, competitiveness hinges on the employment of artificial intelligence and big data. As Prof. Allison's argument suggests, state-led capitalism that places national interests first could have an edge over free economy that prioritizes privacy. State capitalism puts the country before freedom. Although it enables market principles, state planning '-- and control '-- regulates the market. Invisible hands are behind all Chinese corporate names including Huawei and Alibaba. The New York Times said that founders of tech titans like Alibaba, Tencent and Baidu have resigned or reduced their managing role amid pressure from the government as Beijing does not tolerate hereditary succession of wealth. The Financial Times reported that China's Communist Party was also controlling the ''One Belt, One Road'' initiative '-- an ambitious infrastructure development project to build a new Silk Road on land and at sea. China-style planned capitalism has so far been extremely successful. Since opening was adopted by Deng Xiaoping in 1978, China has been on a roll. It became the world's factory and last year passed the $10,000 milestone in per capita income. Its per capita GDP over the last 20 years ballooned by 10 times from $1,000 in 2000, shortly before it joined the World Trade Organization (WTO). A country is considered ''high-income'' by the World Bank when per capita GDP exceeds $12,375. The turnaround for a country with the biggest share of poor people in the world with its colossal population of 1.4 billion is more or less a miracle. China aspires to prevail over the United States to become No. 1. New York Times columnist David Leonhardt shared an interesting insight. He believed that China has made stunning progress in geopolitical terms because its rival '-- the United States '-- has retreated. China plans the future in terms of decades, which can be divided into its ambitious five-year economic development plans. China leapfrogged over the last decade, whereas the United States economy has been moving slowly. Wealth and life expectancy have stagnated for much of the population in America, feeding angry national mood and political divisions. The United States has been neglectful in key investments in education, science and infrastructure in the period, said Leonhardt. China's state-led capitalism gained further traction in the age of the fourth industrial revolution. It needed not fret over resistance from traditional players and promoted new innovations. Tech names like Alibaba, Tencent and ByteDance transformed into global companies after e-commerce and big data became game-changers in the corporate world. The United States is trying to contain China, but cannot find ways to effectively keep it at bay in a technology power struggle. The two states finally reached a first-stage trade deal, but Washington was unable to stop Beijing's subsidization of its corporations and its technology theft. Korean battery makers and Hyundai Motor have been doing poorly in China because of the government's favoritism towards local industry. The New York Times reported that 20 percent of foreign enterprises doing business in China had been pressured to transfer technology in return for market access. Such practices are a violation of the WTO rules and won't be tolerated by the United States, said Choi Byung-il, a professor of economics at Ewha Womans University. U.S. multinationals, including Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon, also have been struggling in the tilted playing field of China. Despite their global power, they cannot match Alipay or WeChat Pay, as finance, shopping, medical services and public administrative services '-- not to mention housing transactions '-- are all possible on China's platforms. China also has been eager in fintech and blockchain to promote the ascension of the Chinese yuan through the digital platform. It believes it can replace the U.S. dollar hegemony through fintech. State-led capitalism benefits in the big data-based industrial age. Joseph Nye, a professor of political science at the John F. Kennedy School, is doubtful about China replacing the United States in global dominance, as it cannot, he says, match the U.S. military power and its influence in trade, financial system and alliance. But his view mostly went ignored. The cynicism, however, gained strength due to the Black Swan of the new coronavirus. The novel virus outbreak from Wuhan, Hubei Province, exposed the limitations of state-led capitalism. The flaws of Chinese totalitarianism gushed forth through the fast spread of epidemic. The New York Times argued that the powerful and effective fa§ade of the Communist Party has been exposed in the coronavirus outbreak. ''We gave up our rights in exchange for stability and prosperity,'' an angry netizen wrote on the social media site Weibo. ''Where will our long-lasting political apathy lead up to?'' The post was shared over 7,000 times and liked 27,000 times before it was deleted by state censors. The strong can break easily. Chinese President Xi Jinping has granted himself emperor-like power to usher the country towards the ''China dream'' of becoming a superpower. The wealth under state capitalism, however, has been showing signs of vulnerability. According to the Peterson Institute of International Economics, liquidity strains in the private sector have worsened. In 2013, 35 percent of bank credit went to state enterprises and 57 percent to private companies. By 2016, the share turned 83 percent for state-backed companies and 11 percent for private businesses. As bank funding was mostly funneled into the public sector, defaults and bankruptcies in the private sector have multiplied. The South China Morning Post cited a poll by Zhaopin.com, a Chinese job website, in which 34.6 percent said they became substantially indebted last year, up 12.7 percent from a year ago. According to the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States, China has the world's highest Gini coefficient, a measurement of inequality. The institute found the gap stemmed from structural problems with China's political system. State capitalism has been effective in fueling growth in the economy, but worsened inequality because of its inefficient distribution. The downside of China's state capitalism has been exposed. JoongAng Ilbo, Feb. 17, Page 26
Soros Asked Obama to Investigate Somebody? | Frontpage Mag
Tue, 18 Feb 2020 11:41
Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz says he has the proof.
''But let me just ask you,'' said Breitbart News editor Joel Pollack. ''You said that George Soros asked Barack Obama to have his Justice Department investigate somebody?''
''We're '-- that's going to come out in a lawsuit in the near future,'' responded Alan Dershowitz. ''Yeah.''
''Wow, well, we look forward to hearing more about that new. . .''
''That's not unusual,'' Dershowitz said. ''People whisper to presidents all the time. Presidents whisper to [the] Justice Department all the time. It's very common. It's wrong, whoever does it, but it's common, and we shouldn't think that it's unique to any particular president. I have in my possession the actual 302 form [an FBI record of an interview], which documents this issue, and it will, at the right time, come out. But I'm not free to disclose it now because it's a case that's not yet been filed.''
That exchange appeared on Breitbart on Sunday and on Monday was quickly picked up by Lifezette, WND and other independent sites, with one headlining the story ''DershowitzBlows Up Washington.'' The Fox News story appeared about 5 p.m. Monday, but at this writing CNN, MSNBC and the rest of the establishment media have yet to weigh in.
By the end of the day, the target of the Soros-inspired investigation remained unknown. On the other hand, that was hardly the only intrigue surrounding George Soros, described by Pollack as a ''billionaire left-wing financier.'' As Matthew Vadum noted in the 2016 Frontpage article ''Arrest George Soros,'' there's a bit more to the man.
''Soros, the billionaire speculator, is the preeminent funder of the activist Left in America,'' Vadum explained, ''which means he is the Number One funder of the domestic terrorism that is part and parcel of the Left.'' Soros calls America ''the main obstacle to a stable and just world order'' and says European-style socialism ''is exactly what we need.'' Soros also funds ''open-borders groups in order to corrode the nation's culture and change its electorate.''
If this ''radical ringleader'' wants the president of the United States to investigate someone, that is a matter of some concern. In similar style, Soros invites inquiries such as John Solomon's ''US Embassy pressed Ukraine to drop probe of George Soros group during 2016 election,'' in The Hill last March.
According to Solomon, the Obama administration pressured the Ukrainian government to back off its investigation of both the U.S. aid and anti-corruption groups such as AntAC. As it turned out, the group Ukrainian law enforcement was probing ''was co-funded by the Obama administration and liberal mega-donor George Soros.'' And it was collaborating with the FBI agents investigating then-Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort.
As Ukrainian officials told Solomon, the message to Ukraine's prosecutors was clear: ''Don't target AntAC in the middle of an America presidential election in which Soros was backing Hillary Clinton to succeed another Soros favorite, Barack Obama.'' After the Obama DOJ launched the Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative, ''the State Department, Justice Department and FBI outsourced some of its work in Ukraine to groups funded by Soros.''
On the other hand, consider ''The George Soros Conspiracy Theory at the Heart of the Ukraine Scandal,'' by Dan Spinelli of the leftist Mother Jones. Soros here emerges a ''liberal billionaire'' and ''a favorite bogeyman on the right due to his support for progressive causes at home and political reforms abroad.'' What ''turbocharged'' Donald Trump's interest in Ukraine was ''specifically, the work of John Solomon'' who ''authored a series disputed articles about Joe Biden's activities in Ukraine and Soros' interactions with Obama administration officials.''
As for conspiracy theories, Spinelli says Solomon is a ''longtime client'' of Joseph DiGenova's law firm. No word about the person Soros wanted the Obama DOJ to investigate, and why. Puzzled observers might wonder if POTUS 44 could stand some investigation his own self.
As the late Barry Rubin noted in Silent Revolution: How the Left Rose to Political Power and Cultural Dominance, on Obama's watch tens of millions of Americans were ''turned into anti-Americans.'' The goal was ''to convince Americans the exact opposite of what their experience proved: that the country had fundamentally failed and the old leftist solutions were the answer.'' On the other hand, says Rubin, ''not a single serious investigation was conducted about Obama's earlier life.''
In Rising Star: The Making of Barack Obama, official biographer David Garrow, a Pulitzer Prize winner, says the president's defining Dreams from My Father is a novel and the author a composite character. And after some 800 pages Garrow cites a reporter that the president's story isn't exactly true. The novel was something that the former Barry Soetoro and David Axelrod put together, to avoid the ''politically radioactive'' Communist Frank Marshall Davis, who gets a lot of ink in the Dreams account.
Since Garrow left the key at the back door, we know the truth about the composite character president. We also know that the composite character and George Soros have a similar destructive vision for America. We don't know the identity of the person Soros wanted the Obama DOJ to investigate, and why. When Alan Dershowitz gets around to filing his lawsuit, that revelation really could blow up Washington.
Bipartisan group of three senators meeting with Ukrainian president
Tue, 18 Feb 2020 11:38
| February 12, 2020 04:53 PM
T hree senators are planning to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky a week after President Trump was acquitted in the Senate of accusations that he unethically pressured Zelensky into political investigations.
Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut, a Democrat, and Republican Sens. John Barrasso of Wyoming and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin will meet with Zelensky during a trip to Ukraine on Friday, according to Politico.
The lawmakers said in a statement that it is critical for the United States to maintain close ties with Kyiv and that the meeting would help bolster the bilateral relationship.
''The U.S.-Ukraine relationship is as important now as ever. The future of Ukraine matters to the United States, and we must make sure Ukraine knows that we view them as a strategic ally,'' the senators said. ''This is why we're going to Kyiv as a bipartisan delegation to reinforce our support with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.''
Zelensky, a former television comedian, assumed office last May after defeating incumbent President Petro Poroshenko by running on an anti-corruption platform.
Last week, the Senate voted 52-48 to acquit the president on a charge of abuse of power and 53-47 to acquit the president on a charge of obstruction of Congress. Democrats in the House alleged that Trump wrongly pressured Zelensky to investigate his political rival Joe Biden.
Why did Trump just pardon a former owner of the 49ers? In part because he wants to win Ohio. - The Washington Post
Tue, 18 Feb 2020 11:27
When my family moved to Howland, Ohio, when I was a freshman in high school, I quickly learned that while the region in northeastern Ohio was formally Cleveland Browns territory, there was a big, loud San Francisco 49ers subculture. The reason for this was twofold. In part, it was a function of how good the Niners were at the time. In larger part, though, it was a function of the team's owner: Edward DeBartolo Jr.
Howland is a bit east of the city of Warren which is itself due northwest of the much larger city of Youngstown. In Youngstown, the DeBartolos weren't quite royalty, but they weren't quite not. I knew the name DeBartolo within weeks of moving to the area. They were a family that had risen to national prominence from an area that was more often the subject of mopey songs or depressing news articles about the American economy. Youngstown was a big loser in the economy of the 1970s and 1980s '-- but could also boast of being the home to the family that owned a team that kept winning the Super Bowl.
Antiheroes were something of a trend in the region at the time. The local congressman at the time was Jim Traficant (D), whose career was mottled by allegations and evidence of ties to organized crime (including when he was sheriff). But he was beloved by voters for his eccentricities and his eagerness to fight for the region's working class. There were rumors about the DeBartolos, too, probably not a surprise given the region's history with the Mafia. The family represented success and served as a curiosity.
Ed DeBartolo Jr. did eventually face criminal charges after being solicited for a bribe by the governor of Louisiana and failing to report it. He agreed in 1998 to serve two years' probation and pay $1 million in fines. He transferred ownership of the 49ers to his sister Denise DeBartolo York in 2000.
On Tuesday, President Trump granted DeBartolo a full pardon. In the abstract, it's an odd decision, focused on someone whose infraction was fairly minor and resolved two decades ago. It may be a function in part of the 49ers' reemergence as a force in the NFL. But it may also be a way to send a signal to a critical part of an important state.
In the 2016 election, Mahoning County, where Youngstown is located, narrowly voted for Hillary Clinton over Trump, though Trump benefited from a 25-point swing in his favor. Trumbull County, where Warren and Howland are located, voted Republican for the first time since 1972. Trump won Ohio by eight points, but polling last year had him trailing some potential Democratic opponents. Locking down Mahoning County, 2 percent of the state's population, doesn't hurt Trump's chances.
There are other reasons for Trump to have been sympathetic to DeBartolo, including that the Youngstown native supported of Trump's presidency. But someone, somewhere, no doubt kept Trump apprised of DeBartolo's popularity in a region central to American presidential politics.
''It's a family-oriented community, so even people that had no reason to cheer for the 49ers, they would because of my family,'' current 49ers CEO Jed York '-- nephew of DeBartolo '-- said last year about the Youngstown area. ''Everybody sort of looks at the 49ers as their second team, or some people, their first team. So it's cool to have that family feel, back then in the '80s and '90s and even today, seeing the excitement the 49ers bring to the community.''
It's a sense the team fosters. The Niners held practice sessions at Youngstown State University last year, and the players participated in community events, as well.
Youngstown is, as York said, a 49ers town. It is a 49ers town because of the DeBartolos. And, days after heading to Daytona to woo NASCAR fans, Trump on Tuesday tied himself more closely to that family.
Report: Senate Democrats Held Secret Meeting With Iran Foreign Minister To Undermine Trump Policy '' NewsWars
Tue, 18 Feb 2020 11:21
Senate Democrat Chris Murphy reportedly met with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif during the Munich Security Conference last week, according to The Federalist.
If true, such a meeting by the Connecticut senator would not only violate the Logan Act, but represents a clear hypocrisy of considering Democrats spent three years trying to impeach President Trump for ''colluding'' with Russia, which turned out to be entirely false.
From The Federalist:
Such a meeting would mean Murphy had done the type of secret coordination with foreign leaders to potentially undermine the U.S. government that he accused Trump officials of doing as they prepared for Trump's administration. In February 2017, Murphy demanded investigations of National Security Advisor Mike Flynn because he had a phone call with his counterpart-to-be in Russia.
''Any effort to undermine our nation's foreign policy '' even during a transition period '' may be illegal and must be taken seriously,'' Murphy said in 2017 after anonymous leaks of Flynn's phone call with Russian ambassador Sergey Kisylak were published. He also strongly criticized the open letter some Republican senators sent Iranian leaders during the Obama administration's campaign for a nuclear agreement.
Murphy failed to mention that he defended Secretary of State John Kerry for conducting the same kind of secret meetings with Iran in 2018.
Trump slammed Kerry after he admitted to conducting ''three or four'' secret meetings with Iran in 2019 to undermine his new policy of withdrawing from the 2015 Iran Nuclear deal.
Saudi Arabia and others in OPEC will more than make up the Oil Flow difference in our now Full Sanctions on Iranian Oil. Iran is being given VERY BAD advice by @JohnKerry and people who helped him lead the U.S. into the very bad Iran Nuclear Deal. Big violation of Logan Act?
'-- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 22, 2019
Trump goes on offense '-- filing suit against Cummings and Democrats who want to continue investigating Trump and hinting that John Kerry violated the Logan Act by working with Iran. And, mainstream media idol, Bob Woodward, desperately tries to distance himself from Russiagate
Mike Bloomberg: Trojan Horse For Clintonista Revival
Tue, 18 Feb 2020 10:29
It's been obvious to me since he declared that Mike Bloomberg is not a serious candidate for the Democratic nomination. He is everything the Democratic base doesn't want '-- white, billionaire, oligarch, Wall St. 0.000001%'er.
Oh, and until just a couple of years ago, he was a Republican. Billionaires like Bloomberg change parties to where ever they see their money will go the farthest.
Right now, that is the quickly fracturing Democrats, who are staring at a revolt to Bernie Sanders that doesn't sit with Wall St. at all.
It's also obvious that Bloomberg is animated by personal animus towards Donald Trump that I suspect is as much about Mike's ego as it is his desire to protect Wall St. from having any of its dirty laundry aired during a Trump 2nd term.
Because with the failure to convict Trump in the Senate those that were behind that coup attempt are now uniquely exposed to his retribution. And that trail of tears for all involved leads right back up to Hillary Clinton's poisoned garden of a 2016 presidential bid.
With the Democratic presidential field a uniquely inept mix of the hopeless and insane Bloomberg using saturation advertising to buy himself wins in delegate-rich red states with weak Democratic parties like North Carolina, Florida and Texas is a good strategy, if he was interested in winning.
But he's not. He's running to clear the field for Hillary.
Because the fight over these early states are as much about splitting the delegate count as possible, to strip Bernie Sanders of his chance at the nomination. Hillary is still angry at Bernie for challenging her in 2016.
She still wants another chance to fulfill her life's ambition and if she can screw over all the men that she feels denied her that then it will be all the sweeter when it happens.
Because, honestly, Bloomberg isn't interested in being president anymore than I am. He's 78. He's not campaigning. What he's doing is a pantomime of a campaign covering for a very sophisticated form of campaign finance evasion.
And he's doing it to figure out what is necessary for a 'centrist' Democratic candidate to say (and where) to steal electoral college votes from Donald Trump in November.
Bloomberg is spending this money today knowing that a targeted campaign which can figure out how to undermine Trump where he is strong can shift the map enough to sneak out a victory.
So Mike will spend more than $1 billion as an in-kind contribution to the DNC in the form of campaign advertising to get this done.
Because, let's get serious here for a second. None of the candidates, including Bernie Sanders, has a hope in hell of beating Trump this fall. Any mistakes Trump's made dwarf the basic message that he believes in the U.S. in a way that is genuine, even that vision of America is flawed.
The wizards at the DNC know this. Impeachment was their last real hope. That's why it was rushed through and so shoddily done, they didn't have anything substantive. And all it did was cement Trump's base to him more thoroughly than it was before.
Their best shot is running a moderate who can out-Trump Trump on the issues and raise a ton of money along the way for 2024 while retaining some control over the party proper.
The intention is to hoover up delegates, confound the map and throw up roadblocks to Bernie. This paves the way for Hillary's emergence at a brokered convention to hand her the rematch she, Wall St. and the DNC want.
The messaging has already begun. Drudge 'broke' the story the other day about Bloomberg being open to Hillary as his running mate. Oh please! It's the other way around.
And I've been running that story since October. Tulsi Gabbard unmasked Hillary's manipulating events no-to-subtlety.
It's clear the DNC want Hillary and another beta-male, Pete Buttigieg, as her running mate.
So, less than 48 hours after Drudge 'breaks' this story, video of Bloomberg just happens to show up and go viral showing him saying disparaging things about farmers and metalworkers.
To top it off, he wants to save healthcare by letting old people die.
We all know Mike hates poor people. He's a geezer auditioning for the top job in the U.S. who hates old people. He's a thorough authoritarian and corporatist whose disdain for the plebiscite is palpable.
Nothing says U.S. Presidential material like the blatant disregard for human suffering. On second thought, maybe Mike is the perfect candidate?
All of this was known before, so why these things now?
These videos and quotes are out there to undermine him, casting him in the role of the out-of-touch oligarch.
This is designed to outrage the Deplorables. It's designed to put a cap on Mike's likability. It gives Hillary a wedge to drive in and say, ''No, Mike you can be MY running mate!''
Mike Bloomberg: billionaire, entrepreneur, media mogul, three-time Mayor of New York, bond vigilante'... beta-cuck.
So thoroughly Hillary.
This way, he can have his turn as the front-runner, rising far enough on his money to earn some delegates and ensure a brokered convention. Then hand them to Hillary as a gracious peace offering.
This is about manufacturing Hillary as the unity candidate of a failing Democratic Party while sidelining Bernie in the process. That's the game plan folks.
It's not tough, honestly.
If it wasn't all so painfully obvious it would almost be clever. But it's not because these people simply don't understand why no one likes them.
Because they suck.
Bloomberg, Hillary, Biden, Warren, Buttigieg, Booker, Harris and the rest of the crazies, including Bernie, they all suck. Bernie may be honest that he's a Commie, but that's what makes him un-electable, if a little more likable.
And for 2020, the DNC would rather roll the dice with two-time loser Hillary, ensuring a candidate acceptable to Wall St. wins, than put Bernie up as the nominee.
Because no matter what happens the Democrats become the Commie and Crazy-Cat Lady party with Bernie as the nominee. And that creates a clear delineation between them and the Republicans.
But, that's the worst possible result. Because, the most important thing to Bloomberg, Hillary and those they represent is that the illusion of choice between globalist dirtbags remains in place. This is the true face of Democracy in the U.S.
That's the key to understanding the game he and Hillary are playing.
And once you see that for what it is there's no unseeing it.
If Bernie sees it clearly, then he will take his Bros, extend his hand to Gabbard and run an independent campaign to split the Blue Wall and destroy these people for real.
If he doesn't then he's the same feckless schmuck I pegged him to be in 2016.
Either way, this is now Hillary's nomination and Bloomberg is the latest goat on its way to her altar.
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New Hampshire: How Buttigieg swiped a delegate exactly how we predicted he would -- Puppet Masters -- Sott.net
Tue, 18 Feb 2020 10:04
The mainstream media, predictably, has taken the focus off of Sanders following his narrow victory in New Hampshire to focus on the relative position of the candidates that came in second, third, and fourth.
This takes the spotlight off of the election rigging that happened in the granite state exactly where and how The Mockingbird predicted it would happen on Monday February 10th in this article where
we examined the obvious and long standing security flaws in tabulation equipment.Those flaws would allow a malicious outside attacker or a partisan insider to change the numbers at the county tabulation level. The trick to changing numbers is to do so in a way that does not put the result too far outside of the margin of error of the exit polls. Prior polling can be somewhat ignored as they are often biased and unless the answer is the difference between leprechauns and unicorns the results will not arouse too much suspicion. That is what someone hoped to do on behalf of Pete Buttigieg. A closer look reveals their failure to conceal their graft.
According to the AP reporting of the published numbers at the time of this writing (9am EST Wednesday February 12th) Sanders got 71759 votes or 25.7% of the total with 87% of the precincts reporting. Buttigieg got 68141 votes or 24.7%. Both were awarded 9 delegates, which is a number we will return to later.
Breaking this result down by county leaves a much different set of results. New Hampshire has 10 counties. 7 of those counties tabulate votes the old fashioned way with human beings counting paper ballots in public. 3 of those counties (Carroll, Rockingham and Merrimack) use the previously highlighted AccuVote OS scanner -tabulator machines. Both rural and more urban counties are represented in both groups. The percentages between the two candidates should hold within one to two points. They differ wildly.
In counties where the AccuVote machines were used, Buttigieg received 27495 votes or 34.99%. This percentage differs from the state wide number 10.27%. That is a very large statistical anomaly. In the 7 counties where the votes were tabulated by hand, Buttigieg received 40,646 votes or 23.7%. This is a 1% difference of his final percentage.
Had the percentages held across categories, Buttigieg would have gotten 8868 fewer votes. This would have changed his overall percentage to 21.2%. Speculation only enters these calculations when we ask ourselves where the stolen votes came from. If all or at least the statistically relevant amounts came from the #1 and #3 finishers, Sanders and Klobuchar in equal amounts, the results would be Sanders at 27.44%, Klobuchar at 21.5%, and Buttigieg at 21.2%. This does not seem like much of a change but it alters both the national outcome in delegates to convention (remember those?) and the narrative.
The narrative is altered by Buttigieg coming in second rather than third. The delegate count would move from 9 for Sanders, 9 for Buttigieg and 6 for Klobuchar to 10 for Sanders, 8 for Buttigieg and 8 for Klobuchar. It changes a clear hands down victory and a neck and neck race for second into a near tie in the popular vote and an actual tie in delegates.
Adding the delegate numbers in both scenarios to the numbers from the also obviously rigged Iowa debacle, and you have to different stories again both in appearance and material effect. Under the official cooked numbers, Buttigieg has 22 (or 23 if you count the "undecided" in Iowa), Sanders has 21, Warren has 8, Klobuchar has 7, and Joe Biden is sniffing the hair of 6 delegates. Keeping Iowa's offense to mathematics and democracy in place and using the probable actual outcome of New Hampshire, Sanders has 22, Buttigieg has 21 (or 22 if you count the Iowa undecided), Warren and Klobuchar are tied at 8 and Joe Biden still has only six friends, two human participation trophies for each of the times he has tried and failed to be president. Using real math and not erased votes in Iowa and Sanders becomes the clear and away frontrunner and Buttigieg second while Warren and Klobuchar are in a cage match for third.
Delegates matter more in this primary season than others as the long term strategy of the DNC is to prevent Sanders of having a plurality of convention votes on the first ballot. Thus the nomination will be forced to a second ballot, where candidates can swap and trade delegates and super-delegates can weigh in for the DNC's chosen non-Sanders appointee.
The polite term for this in most places is minority rule. It is clear in two out of two contests that there has been election fraud in favor of Buttigieg and against Sanders. This is not democracy by any definition of the word.
Soros calls for Zuckerberg and Sandberg to leave Facebook - BBC News
Tue, 18 Feb 2020 10:01
Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Mark Zuckerberg is in Europe this week meeting various EC executives such as Vera Jourova, vice-president for values and transparency Billionaire financier George Soros has written to the Financial Times, calling for Facebook bosses Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg to leave Facebook.
He argued the social media platform's refusal to remove political ads was "helping to get Donald Trump re-elected".
The letter comes as Mr Zuckerberg heads to Europe to call for light-touch government regulation.
His proposals have received a lukewarm response from European lawmakers.
Mr Zuckerberg wants regulation of harmful content on internet platforms to be different from existing rules governing the media and telecoms firms.
In response, European industry commissioner Thierry Breton said it was not "for us to adapt to this company, it's for this company to adapt to us".
'Obfuscating the facts' Image copyright Reuters Image caption George Soros has been a vocal critic of Facebook In his short letter to the FT, Democratic party donor George Soros writes: "Mr Zuckerberg appears to be engaged in some kind of mutual assistance arrangement with Donald Trump that will help him to get re-elected.
"Facebook does not need to wait for government regulations to stop accepting any political advertising in 2020 until after the elections on 4 November.
"I repeat my proposal, Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg should be removed from control of Facebook."
He added that while he supports government regulation of social media platforms, he thinks Mr Zuckerberg is "obfuscating the facts" in his arguments for greater government control of the internet.
Mr Soros has been a vocal critic of Facebook and, in November 2018, the social network admitted it had hired a PR firm to run a smear campaign against him.
The firm Definers was hired to investigate the financier's links to the Freedom from Facebook campaign, which was seeking the firm's break-up.
Ms Sandberg initially denied knowledge of the hiring but later clarified that she had been told about the company but had forgotten its name.
Facebook v ECMark Zuckerberg is in Europe this week for meetings with various commissioners.
Ahead of these, he told delegates at the Munich Security conference that government regulation should fall "somewhere between" how existing media is regulated and rules governing telecom firms.
The social media platform also issued a document on content regulation this week, which lays out guidelines about how regulation around online content could work.
The four challenges it identifies are:
how can content regulation reduce harmful speech while preserving free expression?how should regulation enhance the accountability of internet platforms?should regulation require internet firms to meet certain performance targets?should regulation define which harmful content should be prohibited on internet platforms?Margrethe Vestager, the European Commission's executive vice president for digital affairs, also met Mark Zuckerberg.
She is due to unveil plans for how the EU will compete with the US and China on artificial intelligence technology later this week.
Chanel and Prada postpone shows in Asia owing to coronavirus
Tue, 18 Feb 2020 09:59
PARIS/MILAN (Reuters) - Chanel and Prada said on Tuesday they have postponed fashion shows due to be held in Asia in May over concerns linked to the coronavirus outbreak.
Chanel said in a statement that following the guidance of Chinese authorities it had decided to postpone its Beijing replica of a catwalk display held in Paris last December ''to a later and more appropriate moment.''
Chanel was monitoring the situation closely, it said, adding: ''At the foremost are the health and well-being of its teams and clients''. No new date was given for the event.
The show was a presentation of its so-called ''Metiers d'art collection'', a showcase of its most intricate craftwork and handstitched outfits.
The Paris event had featured a set designed by film director Sofia Coppola, inspired by the apartment where founder Coco Chanel had lived in the early 1900s.
Chanel, one of the world's biggest luxury brands by sales alongside LVMH's (LVMH.PA ) Louis Vuitton, did not disclose any financial details for the show.
Prada said in a separate statement it had put off its Prada Resort fashion show in Japan, originally scheduled for May 21.
The Hong Kong-listed group said the decision had been taken as a precautionary measure as well as ''an act of responsibility and respect'' for all those working on and planning to attend the show.
''Japan remains one of Prada's strategic markets and relevant events will be scheduled in the country at a more appropriate moment,'' it said.
Volunteers in protective suits disinfect a factory with sanitizing equipment, as the country is hit by an outbreak of the novel coronavirus, in Huzhou, Zhejiang province, China February 18, 2020. China Daily via REUTERS Asia, and China in particular, are an important and lucrative market for major fashion companies including Chanel, Prada, LVMH (LVMH.PA ), Kering (PRTP.PA ) and Burberry (BRBY.L ).
Luxury goods companies are already facing a sales hit from the coronavirus outbreak as they shutter shops in China and shelve advertising campaigns in the world's second-largest economy. Chinese shoppers account for a third of the luxury goods industry's clientele.
Gucci and other luxury labels owned by France's Kering last week said they expected smaller crowds at their catwalk shows this month, with Chinese buyers and influencers set to miss the major marketing fixture.
Reporting by Sarah White, Dominique Vidalon and Silvia Aloisi; Editing by Alex Richardson and Mike Harrison
Nevada Officials Worry Caucus Results May Be Delayed '' Stacy Abrams Wants VP Position'.... | The Last Refuge
Tue, 18 Feb 2020 09:52
Nevada Democrat Club officials are warning voters the results from the caucus may be delayed due to ''technology glitches'' in the planned use of ''custom Google calculator'' that will be deployed to calculate the results.
Yeah, nothing suspicious about Big Tech working with Big Club party bosses, at all. Move along, move along'... Trust them Bernie, it'll all be fair and stuff, swear.
(Via The Hill) The party announced Thursday that it planned to use a custom Google calculator accessed through a ''secure Google web form,'' which will be uploaded to 2,000 newly purchased iPads to help tabulate votes, and that precinct leaders would also track votes via paper backup sheets.
['...] With early voting set to begin Saturday and run through Tuesday, and the official Caucus Day to follow on Feb. 22, the Nevada Democratic Party has had a short amount of time to turn around a new vote counting system. (read more)
Meanwhile 'The Reconciler' has resurfaced today during an appearance on The View. In a transparently planned appearance message Ms. Stacey Abrams says: ''of course, I would be honored to run for vice president with the nominee.''
''As a woman of color, especially a black woman '-- this is an unusual position to be in for someone to be considered possibly the next vice president. And it would be doing a disservice to every woman of color, every woman of ambition, every child who wants to think beyond their known space for me to say no. Or to pretend, 'Oh no, I don't want it.' Of course, I want it. Of course, I want to serve America. Of course, I want to be a patriot and do this work, and so I say yes.'' (Video link)
This is one of the unusual aspects to the 2020 Democrat presidential campaign, the VP nominee is more predictable than the top of the ticket.
You might remember the quiet discussions between Club reps for Joe Biden and Stacey Abrams last year. That was back when the DNC Club was considering Biden as the best hope to block the AOC-Bernie movement. Since then Joe has collapsed and is now unlikely to go further than South Carolina. [Biden will lose Nevada and SC].
If the Club is successful in blocking Bernie; which at this point is increasingly unlikely; and if the Club can find a way to get a non-Bernie candidate into lead position; then Abrams is absolutely guaranteed to be the VP candidate regardless of who the non-Bernie top of the ticket might be.
Abrams is the VP nominee for a NOT BERNIE candidate. However, if Bernie wins the nomination then the likelihood of Abrams as a VP nominee slightly drops.
If Bloomberg (or other) is the nominee Abrams is 100% guaranteed to be the VP. The plan would be to use Abrams to heal the fracture created by the Club blocking Bernie Sanders from the nomination.
However, if Bernie winds the nomination Abrams as VP drops to around 80% likelihood. In the Club's logic '' in the Sanders atop the ticket scenario '' Abrams is used to offset Bernie's radical nature and generate a 'movement' vote for the identity crowd.
We keep watching'...
The Washington Post (CIA) is Very Worried About The Big Russia Lie Being Exposed'.... | The Last Refuge
Tue, 18 Feb 2020 09:48
The media PR firm for the FBI and DOJ objectives is the New York Times. The media PR firm for the State Department is CNN. The media PR firm for the CIA is The Washington Post. This pattern has existed for several years.
The Washington Post is very concerned about a growing possibility the investigation into the origin of intelligence community work may expose the fraudulent nature of the entire 'Russian Election Interference Collusion-Conspiracy' narrative. Very concerned.
The WaPo/CIA express concern by stating that President Trump is attempting to ''rewrite history''; disingenuously skipping the part where Trump isn't attempting anything. For more than three years President Trump has simply pointed out the obvious. It is is the media and the intelligence apparatus that set up a fictitious narrative for political needs.
WASHINGTON POST '' ['...] As his reelection campaign intensifies, Trump is using the powers of his office to manipulate the facts and settle the score. Advisers say the president is determined to protect his associates ensnared in the expansive Russia investigation, punish the prosecutors and investigators he believes betrayed him, and convince the public that the probe was exactly as he sees it: an illegal witch hunt.
['...] Last week alone, Trump called the Russia investigation ''tainted,'' ''dirty,'' ''rotten,'' ''illegal,'' ''phony,'' a ''disgrace,'' a ''shakedown,'' a ''scam,'' ''a fixed hoax'' and ''the biggest political crime in American History, by far.''
He argued that the probe into Russian election interference was based on false pretenses, despite a recent report from the Justice Department's inspector general stating the opposite even as it criticized the FBI's surveillance of a former Trump campaign aide. And he claimed, again without evidence, that Mueller, a former FBI director regarded for his precision with facts, lied to Congress '-- which happens to be one of the charges Stone was convicted of by a jury last November. (read more)
The Washington Post/CIA are very worried about where John Durham's investigation is going. Simultaneously they are worried about President Trump being proven right (he was); and by extension the entirety of the media narrative around Russia will be shown as a political effort by the U.S. intelligence apparatus (it was). This is the real motive for their current defensive narrative.
CTH has previously outlined how the December 29th, 2016, Joint Analysis Report (JAR) on Russia Cyber Activity was a quickly compiled bunch of nonsense about Russian hacking; assembled in the aftermath of the November election to undermine the incoming administration.
The JAR was followed a week later by the January 7th, 2017, Intelligence Community Assessment. The ICA took the ridiculous construct of the JAR and then overlaid a political narrative that Russia was trying to help Donald Trump. In its most essential form the ICA was the justification for ''Spygate'' ie. Crossfire Hurricane and all of the preceding intelligence surveillance upon the Trump campaign. Intel ass-covering on steroids.
The ICA was the brain-trust of John Brennan, James Clapper and James Comey. While the majority of content was from the CIA, some of the content within the ICA was written by FBI Agent Peter Strzok who held a unique ''insurance policy'' interest in how the report could be utilized in 2017. NSA Director Mike Rogers would not sign up to the ''high confidence'' claims, likely because he saw through the political motives of the report.
(JUNE 2019 '' New York Times) ['...] Mr. Barr wants to know more about the C.I.A. sources who helped inform its understanding of the details of the Russian interference campaign, an official has said. He also wants to better understand the intelligence that flowed from the C.I.A. to the F.B.I. in the summer of 2016.
During the final weeks of the Obama administration, the intelligence community released a declassified assessment that concluded that Mr. Putin ordered an influence campaign that ''aspired to help'' Mr. Trump's electoral chances by damaging Mrs. Clinton's. The C.I.A. and the F.B.I. reported they had high confidence in the conclusion. The National Security Agency, which conducts electronic surveillance, had a moderate degree of confidence. (read more)
Questioning the construct of the ICA is a smart direction to take for a Durham review or investigation. By looking at the intelligence community work-product, Durham could cut through a lot of the chatter and get to the heart of the intelligence motives.
Apparently, if media reports are to be believed, John Durham is looking into just this aspect: Was the ICA document a politically engineered report stemming from within a corrupt intelligence network?
The importance of that question is rather large. All of the downstream claims about Russian activity, including the Russian indictments promoted by Rosenstein and the Mueller team, are centered around origination claims of illicit Russian activity outlined in the ICA.
If the ICA is a false political document'.... then guess what?
Yep, the entire narrative from the JAR and ICA is part of a big fraud. [Which it is]
(Read ICA via pdf)
When you understand this operation, you understand exactly why actors within the DOJ, FBI and Intelligence Community needed to throw a bag over Julian Assange.
Assange would have exposed a complicit conspiracy between corrupt U.S. intelligence actors and a host of political interests who created a fraudulent Russia-collusion conspiracy with the central component of Russia ''hacking'' the DNC.
If Assange were not controlled he might show he received the DNC emails from a leaker, and not from a hack, the central component of the Russia interference narrative would collapse. The DOJ decision to target Assange protected multiple U.S. agencies and Robert Mueller.
As soon as Robert Mueller was going to release his Russia report, the EDVA shut down Assange with the DOJ indictment; in a similar way the same DOJ shut down James Wolfe with a weak plea agreement.
What took place then, and where we are now, is all connected to the original decisions by corrupt government officials.
Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham Appears on Sean Hannity to Discuss His FISA Hearing Witness List'... | The Last Refuge
Tue, 18 Feb 2020 09:47
arsumbris says: 'you're sufficiently distracted by something else'
Isn't it what you are doing here?
You are distracting us from this.
You are distracting us from this.
'If you're wondering how Deripaska came to know Davis & Co., the answer lies in Russia's next-door neighbor Ukraine.
Putin's Ukrainian proxies were also in trouble. Shortly after the Orange Revolution, a murder investigation was launched against the country's richest oligarch, Rinat Akhmetov, Yanukovich's main backer. Akhmetov fled the country. In exile in Monaco, he turned to Davis's business partner, Paul Manafort''the second name in the lobbying firm Davis Manafort. An old GOP hand, Manafort, like Davis, had played a key role in Dole's failed 1996 presidential run and had worked for dictators like Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines and Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire. Akhmetov initially hired Manafort to improve the image of his beleaguered conglomerate, SCM, but soon Manafort's role shifted to helping Yanukovich.
Publicly McCain and his campaign chief's lobbying firm were on opposite sides. In 2005 McCain had nominated Orange Revolution hero Yushchenko for the Nobel Prize, and that spring he'd honored Yushchenko in the headquarters of the International Republican Institute, whose board McCain has chaired since 1993. But behind the scenes the former head of IRI's Moscow office, Philip Griffin, was recruited by Manafort to work on Yanukovich's campaign against Yushchenko. Davis Manafort's work was considered so detrimental to US interests that a National Security Council official called McCain's office to complain, according to the New York Times. The McCain campaign denies receiving the NSC complaint.'
You are distracting us from this.
'Biden has had a long and public career. If he were an ardent advocate for Ukraine, it would be clear for all to see. But he has not been.
In fact, he has consistently sided with Ukraine's arch-nemesis, Russia. Biden was the vice president in an administration that pushed for a ''reset'' with Russia and oversaw Russia's entry into the WTO. Biden even advocated for a Biden-Putin Commission to bolster ties.'
You are distracting us from this
'In effect, Russia's activity in Ukraine is a reinvention of 'active measures', a form of political warfare pioneered by the Soviet Union. The strategy for these active measures is closely linked to a concept known as 'reflexive control', a Soviet top-secret technique to manipulate an opponent into making decisions leading to their own defeat. For this, the Kremlin conducted painstaking research into the intricacies of Ukrainian daily life to understand the Ukrainian world view and identify vulnerabilities that could be exploited. Then, using media, front groups, provocateurs and paid rallies, it created a virtual reality designed to compel Ukraine into making decisions serving Russian objectives.'
The coup plotters were trying to take down Trump to prevent revelations that the most powerful people in Washington and Moscow were bringing down Ukraine after FSB/GRU and CIA/State Dept (infiltrated by KGB/FSB) hijacked a revolution.
At this point, the Swamp has EVERY reason to fear us Americans.
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Trump raises possibility of suing those involved in prosecuting Roger Stone - The Washington Post
Tue, 18 Feb 2020 09:39
President Trump on Tuesday raised the possibility of suing those involved in prosecuting the Roger Stone case after sharing the opinion of a Fox News commentator who said it is ''pretty obvious'' that Stone, Trump's longtime political confidant, should get a new trial.
Trump's morning tweets marked his latest efforts to intervene in the case of Stone, who faces sentencing this week on charges of witness tampering and lying to Congress.
Defense lawyers for Stone demanded a new trial Friday, one day after Trump suggested that the forewoman in the federal case had ''significant bias.''
Trump was referring to Tomeka Hart, a former president of the Memphis City Schools Board of Commissioners and an unsuccessful Democratic candidate for Congress. Hart has identified herself as the forewoman of the jury in a Facebook post, saying she ''can't keep quiet any longer'' in the wake of a Justice Department move to reduce its sentencing recommendation for Stone from the seven to nine years recommended by front-line prosecutors.
Roger Stone asks for new trial in sealed motion, one day after Trump accused jury forewoman of bias
In his tweets on Tuesday, Trump quoted at length Andrew Napolitano, a former New Jersey Superior Court judge and Fox News commentator, who argued that Stone should receive a trial based on ''the unambiguous & self outed bias of the foreperson of the jury.''
''Pretty obvious he should (get a new trial),'' Trump quoted Napolitano as saying. ''I think almost any judge in the Country would order a new trial, I'm not so sure about Judge Jackson, I don't know.''
Napolitano was referring to U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who is presiding over Stone's case and who has drawn Trump's ire on Twitter for her treatment of another ally of his, Paul Manafort, his former campaign chairman.
In his latest tweets '-- which began about an hour after Napolitano appeared on ''Fox & Friends'' '-- Trump also derided prosecutors in the Stone case as ''Mueller prosecutors,'' a reference to those who worked for special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, who investigated possible coordination between Trump's campaign and Russian in the 2016 presidential election.
Trump called that investigation ''fraudulent,'' adding: ''If I wasn't President, I'd be suing everyone all over the place. BUT MAYBE I STILL WILL.''
All four career prosecutors handling the case against Stone withdrew from the legal proceedings last week '-- and one quit his job entirely '-- after the Justice Department signaled it planned to undercut their sentencing recommendation. Two of those prosecutors had worked for Mueller.
Asked about Trump's talk of lawsuits, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said Tuesday that ''the president's obviously frustrated.''
''For three years he has been under attack in one way or the other, and the Mueller report is another example of that,'' Grisham said during an appearance on ''Fox & Friends,'' during which she also alluded to the Stone case. ''I mean the foreperson of a jury was somebody who was very vocal about not liking President Trump or his supporters. '... That's scary stuff.''
Stone has been a friend and adviser to Trump since the 1980s and was a key figure in his 2016 campaign, working to discover damaging information on Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton.
A jury convicted Stone in November on charges of witness tampering and lying to Congress about his efforts to gather damaging information about Clinton. His was the last conviction secured by Mueller as part of his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Stone's defense has asked for a sentence of probation, citing his age, 67, and lack of criminal history.
Barr pushes back against Trump's criticism of Justice Dept., says tweets 'make it impossible for me to do my job'
The handling of the Stone case has roiled the Justice Department.
More than 2,000 former department employees signed a public letter over the weekend urging Attorney General William P. Barr to resign over his handling of the case and exhorted current department employees to report any unethical conduct. At Barr's urging, the Justice Department filed an updated sentencing memo suggesting that Stone should receive less prison time.
During her Fox News appearance, Grisham downplayed the significance of the letter from former Justice Department employees.
''Look, all across government, the president has been saying, and I think it's been proven time and again, there are obstructionists all across this government who are working against the president,'' Grisham said.
Grisham also dismissed a question about whether Barr might step down.
''That is not something I'm aware of, absolutely not,'' she said.
In a television interview last week, Barr pushed back against Trump's continuing tweets about the Justice Department, saying that they ''make it impossible for me to do my job.''
The Justice Department declined to comment Tuesday on Trump's latest tweets.
Spencer S. Hsu, Devlin Barrett and Matt Zapotosky contributed to this report.
Kenan Thompson to host White House correspondents dinner | TheHill
Tue, 18 Feb 2020 09:37
The White House Correspondents' Association announced Tuesday that comedian Kenan Thompson would host its 2020 dinner.
Thompson, a ''Saturday Night Live'' star, has performed in 17 seasons of the late-night comedy show and is its longest-tenured cast member. Thompson received his first Emmy Award for his work on the program in 2018.
The 2020 correspondents' dinner, which will be held on April 25, will also feature entertainment from Hasan Minhaj, who hosts Netflix's ''Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj,'' for which he won a Peabody award in 2019. Minhaj also served as the entertainer at the correspondents' dinner in 2017, when he worked as a comedy correspondent on ''The Daily Show.''
''Kenan and Hasan are two of the most engaged and engaging entertainers in America. I'm thrilled they'll help us celebrate the role of a free press in our democracy,'' White House Correspondents' Association President Jonathan Karl said in a statement Tuesday.
''We're looking forward to a lively evening honoring the most important political journalism of the past year,'' Karl said.
The White House correspondents' dinner has typically featured a comedian as its host, but broke that tradition last year when the organizers selected historian and author Ron Chernow as the entertainer to lead the evening.
Traditionally, the annual dinner has brought together journalists and administration officials with the president and vice president attending. But that has shifted in recent years, with President Trump Donald John TrumpRussian sanctions will boomerang States, cities rethink tax incentives after Amazon HQ2 backlash A Presidents Day perspective on the nature of a free press MORE skipping the dinner each year during his tenure in the White House.
Last year, Trump, who has long feuded with the news media, also ordered administration officials not to attend the correspondents' dinner.
It's unclear whether Trump will reverse and attend the 2020 dinner, or whether he plans to again order a boycott by officials working in his administration.
The Paywalled Garden: iOS is Adware - Steve Streza
Tue, 18 Feb 2020 09:35
Over the years, Apple has built up a portfolio of services and add-ons that you pay for. Starting with AppleCare extended warranties and iCloud data subscriptions, they expanded to Apple Music a few years ago, only to dramatically ramp up their offerings last year with TV+, News+, Arcade, and Card. Their services business, taken as a whole, is quickly becoming massive; Apple reported $12.7 billion in Q1 2020 alone, nearly a sixth of its already gigantic quarterly revenue.
All that money comes from the wallets of 480 million subscribers, and their goal is to grow that number to 600 million this year. But to do that, Apple has resorted to insidious tactics to get those people: ads. Lots and lots of ads, on devices that you pay for. iOS 13 has an abundance of ads from Apple marketing Apple services, from the moment you set it up and all throughout the experience. These ads cannot be hidden through the iOS content blocker extension system. Some can be dismissed or hidden, but most cannot, and are purposefully designed into core apps like Music and the App Store. There's a term to describe software that has lots of unremovable ads: adware, which what iOS has sadly become.
If you don't subscribe to these services, you'll be forced to look at these ads constantly, either in the apps you use or the push notifications they have turned on by default. The pervasiveness of ads in iOS is a topic largely unexplored, perhaps due to these services having a lot of adoption among the early adopter crowd that tends to discuss Apple and their design. This isn't a value call on the services themselves, but a look at how aggressively Apple pushes you to pay for them, and how that growth-hack-style design comes at the expense of the user experience. In this post, I'll break down all of the places in iOS that I've found that have Apple-manufactured ads. You can replicate these results yourself by doing a factory reset of an iPhone (backup first!), installing iOS 13, and signing up for a new iCloud account.
When you open the Music app for the first time, it shows you an empty library and a bit saying that you can get music from the iTunes Store. So you head over to the search tab (ignoring the ''Search By Lyrics'' ad for Apple Music), and search for an artist, and find that your library is empty, but that Apple Music search tab sure is full of lots of exciting stuff. You navigate down to the song you want to listen to, and you get greeted with a fullscreen popup ad for Apple Music, one which went out of its way to disable support for iOS 13's new swipe-to-dismiss gesture.
Leaving search, there are three other tabs at the bottom: For You, Browse, and Radio. The ''For You'' tab is a sneaky ad, offering to help you find new music based on your tastes. Tapping the big red button takes you to a signup screen for Apple Music. Nowhere on this screen was it stated to be a subscription feature.
Under Browse, you find a whole selection of songs, artists, playlists, and other general curated music selections. Tapping into basically anything will take you to a fullscreen Apple Music ad.
In Radio, we finally have something we can tap that doesn't trigger an Apple Music ad! Beats 1 can be played seemingly without subscribing to Apple Music, and some of the older interviews are playable. I say ''some'', because while tapping on that interview of A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie will play, tapping on the entry for A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie under the ''In Case You Missed It'' section will bring up another fullscreen ad.
As a bonus, it stops whatever you're playing, as the audio player switches to the track you selected before the server tells it that it can't be played without a subscription. I think this is a bug more than malice, but it highlights how the app is designed for the subscriber, not the person who doesn't want Apple Music.
So Browse and For Now are entirely Apple Music ads. Radio has some free content but that largely exists to pull people into Apple Music, and Search will happily pull you in to Apple Music if you tap the button. Almost this entire app serves to be an ad for Apple Music. There is a setting in the Settings app to hide Apple Music (next to an ad for Apple Music, of course), but that only does so much.
The Browse and For Now tabs are hidden, and some of the Apple Music-exclusive stuff in Radio is hidden. But every radio station except for Beats 1 is still present, all which trigger an Apple Music ad. After you quit and restart the Music app, the search bar changes the ''Apple Music'' search results to ''Radio'', but the autocomplete largely populates from Apple Music, and some of the search results can return playlists that take you to Apple Music. It helps, but ads are still there to be stumbled into.
If you subscribe and then cancel, Apple sends invasive push notifications asking you to re-susbscribe. These are on by default without a permission request. This is, of course, against the rules they lay out for other developers.
Push Notifications must not be required for the app to function, and should not be used for advertising, promotions, or direct marketing purposes or to send sensitive personal or confidential information.
The TV app opens with Apple's standard summary screen, leading with an ad talking about Apple TV+. The home screen is chock full of TV+ ads and ads for shows on TV+. If you have existing iTunes Store shows, or streaming apps like Netflix or Crunchyroll setup, you might see shows you're watching under the ''Up Next'' section. But no matter what you have, the Apple TV+ ads are huge and inescapable. Again, the TV app's notifications is enabled by default with no permission request.
Another app that has its notifications turned on by default, this is how many people will interact with this service. Tapping notifications doesn't take you to a web browser, but directly into the News app. If you open a story on one of Apple's partners like the Wall Street Journal, the screen it takes you often has a large banner ad at the top of the screen for the Apple News+ service. This seems to be intermittent, but it cannot be dismissed, hidden, or disabled.
If you look through the News app itself, you will see a plethora of stories in the Today feed. Some of these will trigger the same ad shown above; there is no indication on the feed itself. Some will actually have a full paywall in front of them preventing access without signing up; these do have a tiny Apple News+ logo beneath them, but it's far enough below that it almost looks like it belongs to the next section.
And of course, in the dead center of the tab bar, is the News+ tab. Leading off with a large ad at the top of the feed, it lists stories and publications similar to the Today feed. Most of these stories are paywalled, but not all, so people may end up going there and hunting for stories they can read. This tab cannot be hidden, ever.
After you set up your iPhone, you get a home screen with at least one badged icon, on Wallet. Opening this takes you to a giant ad that's nearly half the screen for Apple Card. Fortunately it is dismissable. But every time you try to add a credit/debit card to Apple Pay, you are asked if you want to sign up for Apple Card instead.
The first three tabs of the App Store app are Apps, Games, and Today. These tabs don't have much in the way of ads, aside from some Apple Arcade games that might appear in Games and Today. However, Apple Arcade gets an entire tab all to itself, which has a huge in-feed ad for the service, and of course a whole pile of games advertising it. Compared to other games and apps, Apple Arcade games get more prominent visual treatment, larger videos, and bigger download buttons. This tab, like News+, cannot be turned off.
And of course, almost anything you search for in the App Store has a large ad at the top of your search results. This isn't an ad for an Apple-run service, but it is a way they make money by extorting developers and showing you the wrong thing. If you search for a specific app, you will often not see that app in the first slot, unless the developer has paid for the privilege.
Apple wants to grow their services business with drastic increases year-over-year. This means they are going to aggressively push more services into more places (including deeper into macOS and tvOS, which are also slowly having adware trickled into them). Apple TV+, News+, Arcade, and Card are all new this year, and are already strongly advertised in iOS. Apple Music has existed for a few years, and its level of advertising in the app is pervasive. As time goes on, these ads are going to get worse, not better.
Of course, Apple has a right to tell users about their services, and try to convince you to subscribe to them. And you might disagree with my assessment that some of these are ads at all. Individually, most of these instances aren't insidious by themselves. But when you look at them together, they paint a picture of how Apple is making the user experience provably worse to boost growth at all costs.
This issue is not going to get better. Apple is going to expand its services, both breadth and depth, and the adware problem is only going to get worse, unless people call out Apple for what they're doing. And yet, this issue is rarely talked about, likely because many of the people who cover Apple inevitably subscribe to some or all of these services. Gadgets like smart TVs and ebook readers are frequently criticized for their annoying, invasive advertisements despite their (often large) upfront price. It's time for the tech community to recognize that Apple is no longer designing their products for a great experience, but as upsells to get you into the paywalled garden.
Trump rejects Obama taking credit for strong economy | TheHill
Tue, 18 Feb 2020 08:35
President Trump Donald John TrumpRussian sanctions will boomerang States, cities rethink tax incentives after Amazon HQ2 backlash A Presidents Day perspective on the nature of a free press MORE on Monday accused former President Obama of "trying to take credit" for the strong economy.
The president tweeted in response to Obama's commemorating the 11th anniversary of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, ''paving the way for more than a decade of economic growth and the longest streak of job creation in American history.''
Eleven years ago today, near the bottom of the worst recession in generations, I signed the Recovery Act, paving the way for more than a decade of economic growth and the longest streak of job creation in American history. pic.twitter.com/BmdXrxUAUf
'-- Barack Obama Barack Hussein ObamaA Presidents Day perspective on the nature of a free press Juan Williams: Don't count Biden out Candidates in Obama's orbit fail to capitalize on personal ties MORE (@BarackObama) February 17, 2020 ''He had the WEAKEST recovery since the Great Depression, despite Zero Fed Rate & MASSIVE quantitative easing. NOW, best jobs numbers ever,'' Trump responded. ''Had to rebuild our military, which was totally depleted. Fed Rate UP, taxes and regulations WAY DOWN."
....ever. Had to rebuild our military, which was totally depleted. Fed Rate UP, taxes and regulations WAY DOWN. If Dems won in 2016, the USA would be in big economic (Depression?) & military trouble right now. THE BEST IS YET TO COME. KEEP AMERICA GREAT!
'-- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 17, 2020 The Trump campaign also criticized Obama's tweet, saying in a statement to The Hill that the economy is recovering because of Trump's efforts, not Obama's.
''Obama and Biden orchestrated the worst economic recovery in modern history,'' Trump campaign national press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said in the statement. ''By contrast, though, deregulating, lowering taxes, and supporting free-market policies, President Trump has created the hottest economy on record.''
McEnany added that ''it's no wonder Democrats seek to take credit for the Trump economy after eight years of betraying blue-collar workers and inflicting pain upon the middle class as Americans everywhere suffered.''
Democrats have repeatedly said that Trump simply inherited a strong economy that was repaired by the Obama administration after the downturn that began in late 2007.
Obama and his supporters have praised the $787 billion Recovery Act, passed 14 months after the beginning of the worst recession in American history, for stabilizing the economy.
The unemployment rate fell under Obama's administration after reaching a high of 10 percent in October 2009. It has continued to fall under Trump, reaching its lowest point in the past 50 years.
'--Updated at 8:40 p.m.
Is Africa ready for COVID-19? - The Washington Post
Tue, 18 Feb 2020 08:21
The number of cases of covid-19 '-- the newly named coronavirus '-- has topped 70,000 globally, with over 1,800 deaths. The World Health Organization declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern on Jan. 30, citing the lack of scientific knowledge about the new virus, as well as the need to increase preparation in ''vulnerable countries and regions.''
As of mid-February, 29 countries have reported cases, including Egypt '-- with the first confirmed case on the African continent. Trade and migration between Africa and China, as well as the presence of roughly 1 million Chinese nationals on the continent, mean it is possible that other covid-19 cases will appear.
How will Africa respond? My research in five African countries on the politics of health sheds light on how trust, power and the actions of African governments and communities could shape a future response to the virus.
Trust matters for public health
Studies on race and health in the United States and global immunization campaigns indicate that trust is an all-important element. Without trust, people tend not to heed health information or follow treatment advice. Distrust of public health institutions meant people avoided health-care centers during West Africa's 2014-2016 Ebola outbreak, for instance.
Corruption within public services deepens people's suspicions of government health actions, and it undermines health-care access. When new diseases such as Ebola in West Africa or covid-19 emerge, a lack of scientific knowledge or patient personal experience also can undermine confidence in health-care institutions.
As my research in Ghana shows, patients may question medical approaches to health issues with ''unseen'' causes such as mental health disorders. A lack of confidence in public health services is one reason people with chronic conditions such as mental health disorders delay seeking care.
Trust can depend on who delivers the health message
Surveys show that people in Africa tend to place greater confidence in traditional or religious leaders than government officials. This pattern could present a challenge with covid-19, if distrust leads citizens to discount public health authorities.
Experience suggests that the potential for the virus to spread will be much higher if community leaders are not part of the public health response. In the West Africa Ebola outbreak, cases began to decline when religious leaders and village chiefs started to educate people about social distancing and bringing the sick to Ebola treatment units.
Trust in outside organizations also matters
In Africa, where donors provide sizable amounts of health funding and the WHO plays a significant role in providing technical assistance and support, trust in these organizations can affect health responses. Trust relates to past actions '-- and many African health officials may be somewhat circumspect about the WHO's capacity, given its perceived foot-dragging on the Ebola outbreak in 2014.
After that outbreak, donors called for pandemic preparedness. They devised multiple programs like the World Bank's Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility. Yet their limited financial commitments to these programs undermined trust among health experts and policymakers. The bank's delayed release of financing for the 2019 Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo brought criticisms. Some African politicians question whether the global health security agenda is most concerned with protecting people in high-income countries from diseases that originate abroad.
Years of donor-promoted market-based reforms that cut public health budgets and capped salaries '-- as well as a focus on disease-specific programs like those for AIDS '-- have meant less funding for primary health care. The resulting staff shortages, facility overcrowding, medication shortages and poor patient care in most African public health systems exacerbate people's unwillingness to rely on available medical services.
African leaders and citizens prioritize conditions such as malaria, tuberculosis, child health and AIDS in policymaking and budget allocations. Politicians must decide how to use limited resources, and they tend to respond to diseases that affect many '-- and are relatively easy to treat. This enables them to claim credit, which may increase overall trust in government.
Spending money on a possible future outbreak, in contrast, has little political payoff. As one official told me, ''After all, such an outbreak may never occur.'' The focus on short-term political benefits also limits treatment for diabetes, hypertension and mental health disorders that affect millions across the continent but receive limited attention or resources.
Governments are under pressure to be vigilant
If an outbreak occurs and governments are not prepared, however, there will be political backlash. Surveys across 32 countries indicate that health, education and employment are African citizens' top priorities.
Africans want their governments to be responsive to their needs. In addition, African leaders have to consider how donors might react if they are slow to respond to pandemics. In Tanzania in 2019, the WHO reported a possible Ebola case in the country, which the government denied. When Tanzania refused to share patient laboratory results, the United States and the WHO issued strong criticisms.
This example illustrates how power undergirds global health. Through resources, the United States and the WHO exert the power in helping African countries be prepared for covid-19. But power also affects how we see health issues and whose expertise we value. As my colleagues and I argue, power means that issues with nascent scientific knowledge, limited advocacy and no strong government backer '-- such as mental health '-- gain little attention. Similar forms of invisible power '-- evident in negative portrayals of Africa in the global media and Western societies '-- promote the idea that African countries are not up to the task of covid-19. Global collaboration rooted in African knowledge can challenge such views.
As Emma-Louise Anderson and I find in our research on AIDS programs in Zambia and Malawi, even when constrained by aid dependence or diplomacy, African health professionals have considerable capacity to shape health programs in locally relevant ways. For the coronavirus, African health authorities have tested and reported possible cases to the WHO. The Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, created after the West African Ebola outbreak, is emerging as a regional leader with the interest and capacity for cooperative responses to outbreaks. And its efforts to build national public health institutions benefit public health beyond disease outbreaks.
As global institutions prepare for what inevitably may be more covid-19 cases in Africa, recognizing the ability of African community groups and governments to act will be key to a successful '-- and collaborative '-- response.
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Amy S. Patterson is professor of politics at University of the South and author of ''Africa in Global Health Governance: Domestic Politics and International Structures'' (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2018). She studies community mobilization, citizenship and health policy priorities, with a focus on Africa.
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Faculty can't ban suspected coronavirus students at University of Florida | Fox Business
Tue, 18 Feb 2020 08:16
The University of Florida has advised faculty members that they cannot exclude students over coronavirus fears, according to a Friday report from The Gainesville Sun. There have been no cases of the deadly virus at the university, however, at least one professor had reportedly tried to shut out students with flu-like symptoms like coughing.
The Gainesville-based campus is home to more than 6,000 international students, only a small fraction of which are from China '' the country where the current outbreak originated.
An official statement was issued to the deans and department chairs of the University of Florida via email on behalf of the school's provost Joseph Glover, which was obtained by the Fresh Take Florida news service.
"We are aware that some instructors have asked students who are showing visible cold- or flu-like symptoms to leave class and return with a letter from the Student Health Care Center confirming that they do not have coronavirus," the statement began. "Please remind your instructors that no cases of coronavirus have been reported at UF or elsewhere in Alachua County and that this area has not been identified as an area of public health concern by the CDC."
The statement continued, "While instructors are encouraged to care for their students and their health, please inform your instructors that they are not to excuse a student from class to confirm they are free of the coronavirus."
Accompanying the statement was a link to an updated report by the university's health center director that confirmed there are no active coronavirus cases on the campus.
Churchill Roberts, a grievance chair for the university's United Faculty of Florida told The Gainesville Sun he did not agree with the actions of his colleagues.
"If an instructor suspects that somebody has a contagious disease, they should immediately report that to the department chair, and the chair should report that to the dean," he said in reference to the incident.
The university's spokesman Steve Orlando echoed the same sentiments.
"That's not how we handle cases here, and there are more appropriate ways to do that," he said. "We're hopeful that will be the end of it."
Prior to the announcement from the provost's office, the university required a 14-day quarantine for faculty, staff and volunteers who had recently traveled to China. Only four individuals were found to have visited China over January's winter break, though the university confirmed none of them had traveled through Wuhan '' the city at the center of the outbreak.
Faculty members were told that they would have to be cleared by the university's health services before they could resume their position. However, the campus-wide quarantine was ended on Sunday.
The university also said it was monitoring the health of students who had family members that recently arrived from China before the coronavirus quarantine.
Other campus activities have been impacted by the illness's global spread and subsequent fears. The University of Florida's Chinese Student Association postponed its Feb. 3 spring festival to Feb. 23 since several members had traveled to China over the break. All study abroad programs university-related travel for employees to China have been suspended until further notice.
There are over 73,300 confirmed coronavirus cases in China at the time of publication, according to the World Health Organization's live tracker. The death toll related to the illness has climbed up to 1,873.
Confessions of an Equity-Industry Propagandist - Quillette
Tue, 18 Feb 2020 08:14
My artistic skills are nil, but my lettering is solid. So when I doodled a cartoon hand around an erect cartoon penis, it was the word inside the dick I was most proud of: DIVERSITY.
As team members ran through their collective to-do list'--tear down the patriarchy, tear down capitalism, tear down oppression'--they shared their favorite Viennese hotels, yoga retreats and keto-friendly recipes (#OMG #SOGOOD). This was the nature of the quarterly meetings. I smiled through the video feed, nodding, adding little curlies to my diversity dick off-screen while jotting down a secret affirmation to myself:
Do NOT let them add you in WhatsApp.
I was their writer. The doodles were a cry for help. I'd hit the wall.
Having worked in advertising agencies for more than 20 years, it's always been my job to write in a way that sells. Products, services, brands. But over the last decade, I've found myself in the pay of a series of wokepreneurs.
Thanks to word-of-mouth, I unwittingly specialized as the equity industry ballooned. I polished one social-justice enterprise'--consultants who train organizations to ''embrace the change'''--until it shone. Then I was hired by another, and another, to the point where I was in demand.
''I had my doubts about hiring her,'' said one client, explaining my presence as he introduced me to his group. ''I mean, why would I want some white woman as our voice, even if nobody sees her?''
Because I'm one of the most experienced writers in the country doing this work'...? I thought to myself. But I said nothing. I was doodling a dick.
As with old-timey mobsters promising protection to mom-and-pop corner stores, the presentations, websites and proposals I created for equity consultants wrapped a threat inside a promise:
Your organization perpetrates privilege. We can help you correct that.Your organization perpetrates white supremacy. We can help you correct that.Your organization perpetrates the further marginalization of marginalized peoples, and we can help you correct that.Is anything in the list above making you uncomfortable? That's you, protecting your perpetration. Take note of your resistance. Do you want to be a part of the story of a better world, or do you want to be left behind?It's a shakedown, and some of the biggest and most prestigious organizations in the world are signing up. The people who do this work are kind and intelligent people. So are the people who buy it. But that almost makes it worse. It's all about the money, a circle jerk just as corrupt, disingenuous and ego-riddled as the capitalist and institutional behemoths getting hustled. Except no corporation or government'--in the West, anyway'--perches atop its hoard while also claiming absolute moral authority and demonizing anyone who questions it.
In college, we used to watch The Smurfs, and take a swig whenever we heard 'smurf' used as verb, noun or adjective. I'd have gotten drunk just as smurfin' fast if I'd hauled on a bottle every time an equity consultant used the word 'folks' (spelled with an x for inclusivity) to enforce yet another radical over-correction and have it feel less threatening. Other popular favorites: ''Do better'' (as a critique of others' insufficiently activist outlook), ''Be in the circle'' (an affectation of Indigenous rituals), ''Shift the power,'' ''Stay in relationship to the work,'' and the archvillain: ''whiteness.''
In the past few years, the phenomenon has escalated dramatically. I began to pull further and further away from what had started to feel like a soft-edged cult complete with chants, conspiracies and near-complete homogeneity of speech. Every client echoed the last, parroting rightspeak.
Trying to sort out the increasing conflict within, I looked up the word profiteer and found everything I'd ever muttered to myself, reeling as I woke up from woke. Speculator; exploiter; charlatan. Were they the propagandists'--the con artists, panderers, demagogues'--or was I?
I made it slick. I made it plausible. It was my job to turn a regressive sow's ear into a progressive silk purse.
I've had clients from around the globe. I have been the behind-the-scenes voice for everything from energy and telecoms to non-profits feeding the hungry. But when it came to writing for the wokepreneurs, I felt like an atheist hired to write sermons for a fundamentalist church. It's one thing to write ad copy urging people to drink Pepsi instead of Coke. That's benign. But I was being paid to mangle language, gaslight the public, and undo the fabric of things I believe in'--free speech, open discourse, and the toxicity of narcissism as a cultural north star. That's malignant.
That I somehow wound up specializing in the cash cow of social justice is a bewildering fluke. How did I wind up here, I wondered? How did they?
''We are not in the world we want yet,'' one client told me, disapproving of a ''problematic'' turnout to an equity training event they had staged. We were in a majority-white, majority-rural state'--to her, an inevitable harbor of systemic racism. Of the 200 people in the room, only four were black. Two others might have been Indigenous. One attendee spoke with an accent that seemed faintly Middle Eastern. There were a few Asians in the mix, but their presence didn't add to this client's particular narrative. They just never came up. I'd already clocked all the ones they'd want me to showcase, knowing what my marching orders would be.
''You know what I'm going to ask, right?'' my client whispered. ''Please make this room look diverse, or else we can't use it.''
Most attendees, despite being overwhelmingly white, seemed energetic and eager to participate in the training. But that was not enough. I passed the instruction to the photographer to shadow the ''desirable'' people of color, only some of whom were smiling and engaged. The photographer lurked obediently in their periphery. The others were bored and expressionless, which makes sense: Like me, they were regular people doing their jobs. Someone had made them come to equity training. They did not exist to be diversity models. And there we were, salivating over their presumed oppression like some sort of delicacy.
Professional ''change-makers'' are so fixated on virtue signaling, the simple act of choosing an idea, interview, feature story, photo, or retweet is a minefield. For another client, I pitched that we highlight the work of a woman who does event facilitation on environmental issues. ''Hmmm,'' said the client, who happened to be white. ''I dunno. She's just'... way too white.''
No one in our entire state could possibly be more correctly oriented than this environmentalist. She wears vegan shoes and stands in the cold for reparations. Venting, I described her to my partner (the recipient of all my eye-rolling GIFs) as: No way that woman doesn't do a land acknowledgement before she burps. But her deeply earnest commitment to fighting injustice was undeserving of credit because she has long blonde hair.
It should be noted that this environmentalist also happens to be a sweet, congenial and wholly spirit-forward human who, to this day, is unaware that a nod of recognition for her lifelong efforts had been pre-emptively dissolved by the stomach acid of her own tribe.
For wokepreneurs, the more boxes ticked, the better'--even when it's fake. One client, a political candidate who'd recently moved to a rural area, bussed in a carload of hijab-wearing women from the closest city so the small town would look ''less white,'' and to lend urgency to her insistence that its citizens be ''more race-aware.'' The candidate was not successful in her bid to win the county's seat, losing the election by a wide margin. Her campaign had profoundly misread and scolded the very people she had hoped to represent.
The movement'--progressivism, equity, wokeness'--protects itself from examination by pointing at anyone who does not uncritically accede to its doctrines as evidence of the problem it claims to be solving. As a former progressive, this makes me angry. I first hit peak-intersectionalism thanks to the revelations of my young lesbian niece, including gender ideology's effect on her socialization and mental health. After years of witnessing the movement from the inside, I began seeking nuance, as I should have done from the start.
I haven't been able to say any of this publicly, which is why I've written this piece under a pseudonym. If I spoke out about any of this, I'd jeopardize my career. So I am quietly and selectively withdrawing my talent. I am a conscientious objector.
Writing is deeply personal work, even when it's for corporations. Most of my clients are genuinely innovative teams making great experiences and products. I shape and conceive the story, which comes to define their brand. It is my job to persuade. And I can no longer work for people who believe and teach that immutable characteristics make people either magically wise and deserving of regard, or irrevocably suspect and deserving of scorn. And that optics matter more than merit, character or good intentions.
It's almost impossible for anyone to feel valued from inside the equity hustle, or to trust its means or its ends. White people'--especially straight ''cis'' men'--are required to perform contrition, self-censorship and self-deprecation. Everyone else is tokenized and graded according to their intersectional score first, and the value of their contribution second. It should make all of us step back, skeptical. But it doesn't. Not when this much money is up for grabs.
I haven't just quit the Left. I've quit the wokepreneurs. I love what I do too much to spend client meetings doodling contemptuous dicks. And so I won't be cashing any more checks signed by the real-life likes of Titania McGrath.
Give me anything else to write about.
Flossing: It's over-rated.Cigarettes: They make you sexy, you know.Fracking: Lighting the water from your kitchen faucet on fire is neat.
Anything but social justice.
Janet Mackay is the pen name of a business writer.
Reaching Peak Progressivism '' American Greatness
Tue, 18 Feb 2020 07:51
In 2020 we have finally hit peak progressivism. The adjective ''peak'''--apex or summit'-- is often used to describe something that has reached its maximum extent but thereafter will insidiously decline'--like supposed U.S. domestic oil production in 2000 when more oil was purportedly taken out of, rather than still in the ground. While the idea of peak oil in the days before fracking and horizontal drilling proved vastly premature, we likely are witnessing something like ''peak progressivism'' today.
By that I mean the hard-left takeover of the Democratic Party and the accompanying progressive agenda now have reached an extreme'--beyond which will only result in the steady erosion of radical ideology altogether.
The French Revolution hit ''peak'' coerced egalitarianism with the Jacobin takeover and so-called Reign of Terror. After all, when you begin guillotining fellow travelers on charges they are counterrevolutionaries and begin worshiping a new atheist secular power ''Reason,'' institutionalized as Robespierre's ''Cult of the Supreme Being,'' you have mostly reached the limits of political radicalism and are into the territory of the nihilistic, if not the maniacal and absurd'--with a rendezvous with Napoleon on the horizon.
From 2009 through 2016, Barack Obama recalibrated the Democratic Party's liberalism into progressive radicalism. He opened the border and all but dismantled existing immigration law. Sanctuary cities sprang up with impunity. Executive orders bypassed the Congress. The Iran Deal ignored the Senate's treaty-making responsibilities. Obama sought to nationalize healthcare. The concept of ''diversity'' replaced affirmative action, by redefining racial oppression as distinct from historical grievance and economic disparity and instead lumping together 30 percent of the population as nonwhite, and thus antithetical to the new buzz construct of ''white privilege.'' Fast and Furious, the surveillance of the Associated Press reporters, Benghazi, the weaponization of the IRS, and the use of CIA, FBI, and DOJ to seed the spurious Steele dossier were all written off as proof of the ''most scandal free'' administration in memory.
But today Obamaism has been figuratively guillotined by the New Jacobins. It is found guilty of crimes of insufficient revolutionary zeal, as well as compromises with the U.S. Constitution and capitalism.
Once considered a crank socialist, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is now leads in many Democratic primary polls. Arriving with him at this moment in our politics is peak progressivism.
First-term socialists'--House representatives such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and her fellow ''squad'' members, inspired by Sanders'--now set the new Democratic agenda. And it is one that is more radical than anything seen in modern American history and largely unsustainable: calls to level a wealth tax and new top income-tax rates of 70-90 percent, to abolish the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service, all student debt, an enforceable southern border, the internal combustion engine, and most Second Amendment rights, and to enact multi-trillion dollar new entitlements as outlined in the Green New Deal, Medicare for All, free college, free healthcare for illegal aliens, and reparations.
Identity politics so rules the rhetoric of the new progressive party that all of its'--exclusively white'--primary finalists vie to be most vocal in the ritual damning of their own country (that has ironically ensured their own influence, power, success and wealth) as inherently ''racist.''
Universities Lead the Way In the Revolution Eating ItselfOutside of the political sphere, peak progressivism had reinvented the university, rejecting Martin Luther King, Jr's vision of racial integration and assimilation, by demanding racially obsessed dorms, safe spaces, and applications.
There is hardly a First Amendment on campuses anymore. Speakers with unpopular views are shouted down with impunity by student activists. ''Trigger warnings'' seek to censor required texts. The mere accusation of sexual harassment on campus is synonymous with the suspension of the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Amendments. Skepticism over abortion, ''climate change,'' or identity politics can cancel out a faculty career.
It is hard to imagine where universities go after peak progressivism, since it would be the pure nihilism of abolishing grades, admissions standards, and student fees.
Peak progressivism calls for the abolition of the constitutionally mandated Electoral College. Radicals now fault past failed schemes to pack the federal and Supreme Court with left-wing justices only because they failed, and thus advance ways to make court-packing work in the present. The bolder among them wants to reconfigure the U.S. Senate into a proportionally representational house or abolish it altogether. All that would be left after that would be the formal abolition of the U.S. Constitution itself.
Primary candidates compete with one another to water down voting laws, variously demanding that 16-year-olds, felons, and illegal aliens should be given the franchise. Gay marriage, which Obama opposed in 2008 and later promoted after reelection, is now pass(C). The new civil rights cause celebre is transgenderism, an ancient syndrome known in the past under a variety of clinical definitions that affects less than half of one percent of the population. Who, after these peak progressive ideas, would be left as ineligible to vote'--12-year-olds, those on death row, the rest of the earth's population?
All moderate Democratic presidential candidates long ago dropped out. Those who have not, such as Joe Biden and Michael Bloomberg, are in virtual reeducation camps, as they promise to progressive rivals and the media to renounce most of their past positions, effusively apologizing for prior incorrect thinking and failure to become sufficiently ''woke.''
The Cycles of Cultish ExtremismThere are certain historical characteristics of the current peak progressivism that are typical of past cycles of cultish extremism.
Iconoclasm'--the destruction of statues and icons deemed reactionary'--is typical.
So is Trotskyization, the renaming of buildings, streets, and institutions on the theory that current correct ideology makes past iconic figures no longer deserving of recognition and thus erased from history.
Puritanism is also typical, as correct speech extends to thoughts and behavior. Peak progressivism now includes Victorian prudery. Flattery, traditional flirting, and praise of physical beauty are proof of counter-revolutionary barbarism and toxic masculinity. The Internet allows instant cancel culture searches of one's entire past thoughts, conduct, and expression in efforts to erase impure personas.
Tribal factionalism is a final symptom that peak ideology is already degenerating into chaos. In the Democratic primary, candidates could agree that white privilege and whiteness were toxic but no one quite could define whether black, Latino, Asian, gay, female upper-middle class, or wealthy candidates were the most victimized by America and thus the most deserving of reparatory considerations.
The much-discussed ''intersectionality'' is a construct, a myth. The history of ideological extremism is instead a war of all factions against one another.
We see just that in the peak progressive primaries. Michael Bloomberg is deemed a racist and sexist. But then so is Joe Biden. Bernie Sanders supposedly hires racists and sexists and won't honor minimum wage laws. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) thinks Bernie is condescending to women and minorities. Pete Buttigieg thinks he is the victim of Joe Biden's subtle anti-gay political adds, and feels, but does not articulate, that the black community is inherent anti-homosexual. The race to tag others as victimizers and selves as victimized is endless.
Radicals also vie to make rivals look counter-revolutionary, as they advance ever more incoherent and unhinged schemes without a clue that they are losing not just moderate support but even liberal followers. The more Warren feels she must become the purest peak progressive on the debate stage and the most radical in the U.S. Senate, the more her former supporters feel she is either a conniving opportunist or nuts or both.
Impossible Demands, Even of Their OwnPeak progressives cannot possibly live up to their rhetoric fantasies and so suffer from rank hypocrisies. Redistributionists like Warren and Sanders either fly on private jets or choose non-egalitarian first-class commercial. Hollywood stars who mouth crazy Oscar and Grammy ceremony platitudes vie with each other to wear multi-thousand-dollar clothes, live in mansions, and own yachts'--as they drive down ratings to historic lows.
Not long ago, progressive pundits on CNN and MSNBC declared the current indicted lawyer Michael Avenatti presidential material for his fabrications and lies that were used to smear Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Where does a network go after that?
Racial quota advocates demand proportional representations and cry out about disparate impact but soon discover that they have no plans or desire to appoint candidates of color to be included on the Democrat debate stage (or to reserve slots for Asian-American basketball forwards, or to ensure blacks make up only 12 percent of the coveted billets of the U.S. Postal Service.) Peak progressives never imagine that they, too, can become prisoners of their ridiculous ideologies.
Peak progressives also live in cocoons. They have no inkling how their ever more radical talk alienates the public. How odd to see Mike Bloomberg repudiate many of his mayoral policies that once were popular with even liberal New Yorkers. (Or is Bloomberg's Machiavellian team leaking past politically incorrect statements about crime and the housing collapse to show that in comparison with his current rivals' professed lunacies that he once sounded pragmatic and sane?)
To prove he is not a racist, Joe Biden sounds like an incendiary radical, only further turning off his once-sizable moderate block of supporters. As Democratic candidates careen ever farther to the left, their crowds shrink, and Donald Trump's rallies expand.
Peak progressivism even scares the diehard NeverTrump right, which fears imploding by voting for a whacked-out Bernie Sanders as the only alternative to the hated Trump.
Peak progressivism eventually either recedes, or, to remain viable, entails violence, as in the Russian, Chinese, or Cuban revolutions. The odd thing is not that Sanders supporter James Hodkinson tried to mow down some of the Republican House leadership, or a recent left-wing activist sought to run over Trump supporters with his van, or that Hollywood stars still compete with each other in imagining the most fitting rhetorical torture or killing of the president of the United States'--bombing, incineration, beheading, stabbing, shooting, beating'--but that progressive voices rarely complain about such extremist rhetoric or actions. Impeachment 1.0 in January 2017 looks tame in comparison to 2.0 in February 2020, which in turn will seem a sell-out compared to 3.0 in 2021.
George McGovern ensured a Nixon landslide, Jimmy Carter hastened the Reagan Revolution'--and the eventual return of the old Democrats under Bill Clinton.
The frightening visions of the new peak progressives will ensure the reelection of Donald Trump, as well as either the likely end of themselves'--or else a collective dystopian nightmare.
Ofcom response to Government announcement on online harms regulation - Ofcom
Tue, 18 Feb 2020 07:47
12 February 2020
Jonathan Oxley, interim Chief Executive: ''We share the Government's ambition to keep people safe online and welcome that it is minded to appoint Ofcom as the online harms regulator.
''We will work with the Government to help ensure that regulation provides effective protection for people online and, if appointed, will consider what voluntary steps can be taken in advance of legislation.''
Coronavirus: Armed robbers steal hundreds of toilet rolls in Hong Kong - BBC News
Tue, 18 Feb 2020 07:31
Image copyright AFP Image caption Not all of the toilet paper was stolen, some of it was left behind by the robbers Armed robbers in Hong Kong made off with hundreds of toilet rolls worth more than HKD1,000 ($130; £98).
Toilet rolls are currently in short supply in Hong Kong due to shortages caused by panic-buying during the coronavirus outbreak.
Knife wielding men robbed a delivery man outside a supermarket in the Mong Kok district, police said.
Police have arrested two men and recovered some of the stolen loo rolls, local media reports said.
The armed robbery took place in Mong Kok, a district of Hong Kong with a history of "triad" crime gangs, early on Monday.
According to local reports, the robbers had threatened a delivery worker who had unloaded rolls of toilet paper outside Wellcome Supermarket.
An Apple Daily report said that 600 toilet paper rolls, valued at around HKD1,695 ($218; £167), had been stolen.
Stores across the city have seen supplies massively depleted with long queues when new stock arrives.
Despite government assurances that supplies remain unaffected by the virus outbreak, residents have been stocking up on toilet paper.
Other household products have also seen panic-buying including rice, pasta and cleaning items.
Face masks and hand sanitisers are almost impossible to get as people try to protect themselves from the coronavirus, which has already claimed more than 1,700 lives.
Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media caption Inside the US laboratory developing a coronavirus vaccine"A delivery man was threatened by three knife-wielding men who took toilet paper worth more than HK$1,000 ($130)," a police spokesman said.
Authorities blame false online rumours for the panic buying and say supplies of food and household goods remain stable.
There has also been some panic-buying of toilet rolls, hand sanitisers and face masks in Singapore, which has 75 confirmed coronavirus cases.
Peter Dutton says 250 have been charged with arson. But the data tells a different story - Fact Check - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
Tue, 18 Feb 2020 07:27
RMIT ABC Fact Check economics and finance editor
Josh Gordon and Christina Arampatzi
Updated February 18, 2020 09:56:05
Peter Dutton, a former policeman whose Home Affairs portfolio includes the federal police, recently acknowledged that Australia was experiencing hotter weather and longer summers.
But in a February 5 interview with ABC TV presenter Patricia Karvelas, he posed the question: did the bushfires start in some regions because of climate change?
"No, it didn't," he said. "It started because somebody lit a match. I mean there are 250 people as I understand it, or more, that have been charged with arson. That's not climate change."
Fact Check has already looked at the question of whether arson is primarily to blame for the bushfire crisis, following a flurry of claims made on social media and by some politicians that most of the fires this summer had been deliberately lit by an "unprecedented" number of arsonists.
Bushfire arson is not an insignificant problem. But in the context of the current bushfire crisis, there is simply no evidence that arson was overwhelmingly responsible, or even moderately responsible.
On the contrary, in Victoria, emergency services personnel have been at pains to point out that lightning strikes caused the big fires '-- in East Gippsland and the north-east.
Likewise, in NSW, emergency services personnel have pointed to dry lightning storms as the cause of most of the big fires.
Nor is there any evidence to indicate bushfire arson has increased to "unprecedented" levels, as some in the Morrison Government have suggested.
What does the data show? At present, official data only exists for the year to September 2019.
In Victoria, the number of intentionally caused bushfire offences peaked in 2016 but fell to a level well below the 10-year average over the year to September.
Data provided to Fact Check by the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research tells a similar story. The number of people facing police action for bushfires that were deliberately lit was below the 10-year average in 2019, having peaked in 2014.
Moreover, as Fact Check previously pointed out, so-called "natural fires" '-- generally started by lightning strikes '-- are likely to be much larger and more remote than fires caused by arsonists, which tend to be started in closer proximity to urban areas.
David Bowman, a leading bushfire expert who is also a professor of environmental change biology at the University of Tasmania, told Fact Check recently that many of the big fires in the current crisis were known to have been caused by lightning strikes, having originated in remote areas after storms.
"We know there are lightning storms that have caused these fires," Professor Bowman said.
"One of the signatures of arson is that arson [occurs] in proximity to people. Many of these fires have been burning in remote and inaccessible areas, so there is a significant lightning component."
Where does the 250 figure come from?But what about Mr Dutton's specific claim in relation to the current crisis that "250 people '... or more" have been charged with arson?
Mr Dutton was less than precise with his wording. He did not specify the months he was referring to, nor whether he was talking about "bushfire" arson, or arson more broadly.
Fact Check contacted Mr Dutton's office seeking clarification and a source for the data he was referring to. His office said he had nothing to add.
Given the context for his comments, it is reasonable to assume he was referring to bushfire arson in relation to the current 2019-20 crisis.
As previously pointed out by Fact Check, comparing data on bushfire arson can be problematic. Different jurisdictions and government agencies take different approaches when recording and defining arson as a crime.
As the report of the 2009 Black Saturday Royal Commission pointed out: "Some jurisdictions adopt a broad definition, deeming all suspicious fires to be arson; others might limit the term to those fires for which there is a prima facie, or even a proven, case of arson."
Keeping this in mind, this is what we know:
NSW: 55 people faced "legal action" over alleged deliberately-lit bushfires between August 1, 2019, and January 24, 2020. It is important to bear in mind that "legal action" is not necessarily the same as being "charged" '-- as Mr Dutton expressed it. According to NSW Police, the legal action ranges in seriousness from the issuing of a "caution" to the laying of a criminal charge. We don't know how many of the 55 were specifically charged for deliberately lighting a fire. Victoria: A Victoria Police spokeswoman said: "There is currently no intelligence to indicate that the fires in East Gippsland and the North East have been caused by arson or any other suspicious behaviour." She said there had been a number of arrests in relation to arson for scrub fires during the current bushfire season, although these were not related to the bushfires that consumed parts of East Gippsland and the north-east.Queensland: From September 10, 2019 to the present, 109 people have been "dealt with" by police for offences relating to recklessly and/or deliberately setting bushfires. Of these, 36 were adults and 73 were juveniles. Importantly, the figures provided by Queensland Police do not distinguish between "recklessly" and "deliberately" starting a fire. Further, according to Queensland Police, in a large number of cases the fires were started by school-age children, whether "recklessly" or "deliberately".South Australia: Since September 1, 2019, 12 people have been charged with causing a bushfire. Again, the figures do not distinguish between those bushfires that were "intentionally" or "recklessly" started. This would be determined by the courts, under South Australian legislation.Western Australia: 10 people have been charged with offences linked to bushfire arson since December 1, 2019. A Western Australia Police spokeswoman noted that "the majority of fires where a large amount of bushland was burnt [were] caused by lightning".Tasmania: Between August 1, 2019 and February 6, 2020, there were three charges and three youth cautions for "unlawfully setting fire to vegetation". A spokeswoman for Tasmania Police said this offence most closely aligned with "bushfire arson" in Tasmania.ACT: No charges have been laid for bushfire arson for the current fire season. According to the Australian Federal Police, there has been one charge for lighting fire on a total fire ban day, with a further two incidents being investigated.NT: Since the middle of last year, six people have been charged with causing a bushfire, either with "intent" or "recklessly".Difficult to be definitiveWhat can we conclude from all of this? Because of the varying methods used to record the data by law enforcement agencies, and the different legal definitions that apply across the states and territories, it is difficult to be definitive.
As the Black Saturday Royal Commission report put it, "arson" involves the "requisite intention" to cause damage or have no regard for the damage that might result from a fire.
However, Queensland, South Australia and the Northern Territory do not for the purposes of data collection, distinguish between "deliberately" lit fires '-- generally a prerequisite for arson '-- and "recklessly" causing one, for example by ignoring a total fire ban.
Taking all of this into consideration, the figures suggest that no more than 195 people have been either charged with deliberately or recklessly starting a fire.
More than half the total (109) comes from Queensland, where there is no distinction between recklessly and deliberately lighting a fire. A significant number (55), are from NSW, where the figures include people who have not been charged but are facing less serious consequences such as being "cautioned".
An examination of the public record and statements by law enforcement agencies does not support Mr Dutton's claim that 250 people have been charged with arson during the current bushfire season.
And as experts have noted, attempting to "criminalise" the crisis misses a bigger point.
Regardless of how bushfires are started, hotter, drier conditions are exacerbating their impact.
This is where climate change comes in.
First posted February 18, 2020 08:56:25
Assad pledges to continue onslaught that has displaced 900,000 | News | Al Jazeera
Tue, 18 Feb 2020 07:21
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has pledged to continue an onslaught on the country's last major rebel stronghold, saying the war was not yet over but a "complete victory" was in sight.
The fierce Russian-backed government offensive has displaced 900,000 people in the northwestern region since the start of December, the United Nations said on Monday, warning that the "horrifying" crisis was forcing those fleeing to sleep outside in freezing temperatures and had resulted in babies dying of cold as camps are full.
More:'Breaking point': Babies dying in the freezing cold amid Idlib pushWhat is happening in Idlib?Three scenarios for the battle for Idlib But in a rare address carried on state television on Monday, al-Assad congratulated his forces for recent gains that led to them consolidating control over Aleppo province and pledging to press ahead with a military campaign in Idlib province.
"This liberation does not mean the end of war and it does not mean the end of the schemes nor the end of terrorism or the surrender of enemies and it doesn't mean our enemies will surrender," he said.
"But it means that we rubbed their noses in the dirt as a prelude for complete victory and ahead of their defeat sooner or later.
"We should not rest, but continue to prepare for coming battles, and therefore, the battle of liberating the Aleppo countryside and Idlib will continue."
The offensive has disrupted the fragile cooperation between Turkey and Russia, which back opposing sides in the conflict but have collaborated towards what they say is a political solution to the nearly nine-year war.
Ankara, which supports several Syrian rebel groups in the northwest, has been outraged since Syrian attacks in Idlib province killed 13 Turkish troops in two weeks. It has called on Moscow to stop the attacks, warning it would use military power to drive back Syrian forces unless they withdraw by the end of the month.
Turkey has, so far, sent thousands of troops and hundreds of convoys of military equipment to reinforce its observation posts in Idlib, established under a 2018 de-escalation agreement with Russia.
In his address, al-Assad also alluded to Ankara's warning, saying the offensive will go ahead despite "empty voices that are coming from the north".
Al Jazeera's Hashem Ahelbarra, reporting from the Turkey-Syria border, said al-Assad appeared to want "to tell his own people that this [offensive] is something that might take longer than expected.
"Particularly if Turkey continues its involvement and there is no deal between Turkey and Russia about implementing a ceasefire," Ahelbarra added.
Humanitarian crisis Rami Khouri, a professor of journalism at the American University of Beirut, said it is not clear what al-Assad's defiant message means for Syria's relationship with Turkey.
Khouri said that Turkey was unlikely to engage in conventional warfare with Syria because it would threaten its own ties with Russia.
"The Turkish-Russian relationship is way more important than the Turkish-Syrian government [relationship," he said.
Separately, Mark Lowcock, the UN head of humanitarian affairs and emergency relief, warned on Monday that the violence in the northwest was "indiscriminate".
"Health facilities, schools, residential areas, mosques and markets have been hit. Schools are suspended, many health facilities have closed. There is a serious risk of disease outbreaks. Basic infrastructure is falling apart," he said in a statement.
"We are now receiving reports that settlements for displaced people are being hit, resulting in deaths, injuries and further displacement."
He said a massive relief operation under way from the Turkish border has been "overwhelmed. The equipment and facilities being used by aid workers are being damaged. Humanitarian workers themselves are being displaced and killed."
Head of hospital dies in coronavirus epicenter; global economic impact spreads
Tue, 18 Feb 2020 07:15
Slideshow by photo servicesBEIJING/SHANGHAI, Feb 18 (Reuters) - The head of a leading hospital in China's central city of Wuhan, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, died of the disease on Tuesday as Apple Inc warned its sales would suffer because of the epidemic, casting a chill on global stock markets.
Chinese state television said Liu Zhiming, the director of Wuhan Wuchang Hospital, died at 10:30 a.m, the seventh health worker to fall victim. The hospital was designated to solely treat virus-infected patients.
The number of new coronavirus cases in mainland China fell below 2,000 for the first time since January but the virus remains far from contained.
The total death toll in China has climbed to 1,868, the National Health Commission said. There were 1,886 new confirmed infections, for a total of 72,436.
China's lockdown of cities and tough curbs on travel and movement have limited the spread of the virus outside the epicenter, but at great cost to the economy and global business. More than two dozen trade fairs and industry conferences have been postponed because of travel curbs and concerns about the spread of the virus, potentially disrupting deals worth billions of dollars.
Apple became the latest company to warn of trouble, saying it would not meet its guidance for March-quarter revenue because of slower iPhone production and weaker demand in China. Asian shares fell and Wall Street was poised to retreat from record highs on Tuesday after the news.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in said the economy was in an emergency situation and required stimulus as the epidemic had disrupted demand for South Korean goods.
Singapore announced a $4.5-billion financial package to help contain the outbreak in the city-state and weather its economic impact.
In Hong Kong, leader Carrie Lam said the government would increase handouts to tackle the outbreak to HK$28 billion ($3.60 billion) from HK$25 billion, as it strives to ease the impact on the Chinese-ruled city's protest-battered economy.
Singapore Airlines Ltd said it would temporarily cut flights in the three months to May, as the epidemic hits demand for services touching and transiting the key travel hub.
As global businesses sought to limit exposure to the virus, health authorities around the world searched for medical weapons.
The president of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China, Joerg Wuttke, said the world's pharmacies may face a shortage of antibiotics and other drugs if the outbreak cannot be resolved soon, and accused Beijing of making supply-chain problems worse.
Japan announced plans to use HIV drugs to combat the virus as a growing number of cases posed an increasing threat to the world's third-largest economy, as well as public health. With 520, Japan has the most cases outside China.
With Japan's economy contracting, raising the risk of a recession, the spread of the virus has prompted Tokyo to put limits on public crowds while some companies are telling employees to work from home.
The number of new daily infections in mainland China had not been below 2,000 since Jan. 30, while the daily death toll had not fallen below 100 since Feb. 11.
Outside China, there are 827 cases in 26 countries and regions and five deaths, according to a Reuters count based on official statements.
Chinese authorities say the stabilization in the number of new cases is a sign that measures they have taken to halt the spread of the disease are having an effect.
Video by AFPGlobal health authorities had to keep on guard against a wider outbreak, said Jimmy Whitworth, a professor of international public health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
"We can hope that the reports of falling numbers of new cases in China do show that the epidemic has peaked in Hubei province, but it is still too early to be sure," he said, referring to the central province where the outbreak began.
World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Chinese data "appear to show a decline in new cases" but any apparent trend "must be interpreted very cautiously."
(Reporting by Ryan Woo in Beijing and Samuel Shen in Shanghai; Additional reporting by Lusha Zhang, Gabriel Crossley and Se Young Lee in Beijing; Writing by Raju Gopalakrishnan; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)
China virus threatens global antibiotics supply: European business group - Reuters
Tue, 18 Feb 2020 07:11
BEIJING (Reuters) - The world could face a shortage of antibiotics if the pharmaceutical industry's supply problems posed by the coronavirus outbreak in China cannot soon be resolved, the head of a European business group in China warned on Tuesday.
EU Chamber of Commerce President Joerg Wuttke told a roundtable in Beijing that the synchronization of supplies in China was being hampered by the outbreak, also highlighting problems in the car industry, while inventories were surging.
He also noted that companies were running out of packaging material and faced challenges with regulatory uncertainties.
Reporting by Gabriel Crossley; Editing by Edmund Klamann and Kim Coghill
Boy Scouts of America files bankruptcy in wake of abuse lawsuits - Reuters
Tue, 18 Feb 2020 07:06
FILE PHOTO: The Boy Scouts of America signage is pictured at its headquarters in Irving, Texas, February 5, 2013. REUTERS/Tim Sharp/File Photo
(Reuters) - The Boy Scouts of America, one of the largest youth organizations in the United States, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection as it faces legal challenges defending itself against lawsuits alleging sexual abuse.
The organization said on Tuesday the bankruptcy aims to compensate victims who were harmed during their time in scouting and that it will create a ''victims compensation trust'' to execute the process.
Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Tom Hogue
Famed biologist Richard Dawkins sparks Twitter row with 'eugenics would work for humans' argument '-- RT World News
Tue, 18 Feb 2020 06:59
Outspoken atheist Professor Richard Dawkins is no stranger to controversy. But a tweet arguing that eugenics '' the kind of selective breeding advocated by the Nazis '' would ''work for humans'' has landed the biologist in hot water.
''It's one thing to deplore eugenics on ideological, political, moral grounds. It's quite another to conclude that it wouldn't work in practice,'' the professor and author of 'The God Delusion' tweeted on Sunday. ''Of course it would. It works for cows, horses, pigs, dogs & roses. Why on earth wouldn't it work for humans? Facts ignore ideology.''
It's one thing to deplore eugenics on ideological, political, moral grounds. It's quite another to conclude that it wouldn't work in practice. Of course it would. It works for cows, horses, pigs, dogs & roses. Why on earth wouldn't it work for humans? Facts ignore ideology.
'-- Richard Dawkins (@RichardDawkins) February 16, 2020The modern eugenics movement was popularized in the United States in the early 20th century and taken to terrifying extremes by Nazi Germany '' which sterilized, institutionalized, and mass murdered the mentally ill, homosexuals, Jews, and all those it deemed 'degenerates'.
Though Dawkins didn't endorse eugenics, he was savaged by commenters for even suggesting that it might 'work'.
Dawkins, wrote Harvard Chaplain Greg Epstein, is giving ''every manner of passive and active bigot an opening to 'consider' persecution on steroids.'' New York Times columnist Charles Blow called Dawkins's ''eugenics crap'' ''dangerous,'' and said that its practice in the US had led to the forced sterilizations of black women in the South.
So unacceptable for Richard Dawkins to tweet about eugenics without clearly condemning it. Dawkins is *supposedly* one of our exemplars of humanism & science outreach. Yet today he's given every manner of passive and active bigot an opening to "consider" persecution on steroids. https://t.co/jycoxZQJFP
'-- Greg Epstein (@gregmepstein) February 16, 2020This eugenics crap is so dangerous. In the US it lead to forced sterilizations of women in the South '-- sometimes against their wills, often without their knowledge '-- that became so common that they came to be referred to as ''Mississippi appendectomies.'' https://t.co/TKFQGFc0dL
'-- Charles M. Blow (@CharlesMBlow) February 16, 2020You absolute pin-headed simpleton. It doesn't work in practice because too many of the goals turn out to be arbitrary fantasies, and too many of those fantasies are the pet projects of abusive bigots who fuck up any civilization they get their hands on. Are you new here? Christ.
'-- Scott Lynch (@scottlynch78) February 16, 2020Others pointed out that selective breeding, especially in animals, often leads to deformities and genetic defects. Dawkins's ''science on eugenics is bad,'' tweeted doctor and anti-Trump pundit Eugene Gu. ''We turned magnificent wolves into pure breed dogs with severe genetic defects causing joint and heart problems and cancer.''
While Richard Dawkins is a noted biologist, his science on eugenics is bad. We turned magnificent wolves into pure breed dogs with severe genetic defects causing joint and heart problems and cancer. In fact, many Cavalier spaniels develop mitral valve and neurological disorders.
'-- Eugene Gu, MD (@eugenegu) February 16, 2020Also like, we have selectively bred dogs whose eyeballs can roll out of their heads when sneezing and have trouble even breathing. Horses with fatal digestive issues that spontaneously go blind. Pigs that overheat and die. Selective breeding is not a stellar success story.
'-- Rani "Laura Palmer Eldritch" Baker (@destroyed4com4t) February 16, 2020Still, there were some who supported the professor. ''Every single law that makes it easier for one group of people to have children while adding friction for another group of people is eugenics,'' one commenter tweeted. ''Increased taxation is eugenics. UBI is eugenics. Welfare is eugenics. It's as if nobody can think.''
I get what Richard Dawkins is saying. Nuclear bombs work'--doesn't mean we should use them. Torture can work'--doesn't mean we should do it. Rape can achieve pregnancy'--but it's abhorrent. You can denounce things without denying that they *work*. Fine.BUT WHY ON TWITTER, RICHARD?? https://t.co/WhPLWiASnb
'-- Ali A. Rizvi (@aliamjadrizvi) February 16, 2020With the controversy raging, Dawkins followed up his tweet with an explanation.
''For those determined to miss the point, I deplore the idea of a eugenic policy,'' he wrote. ''I simply said deploring it doesn't mean it wouldn't work. Just as we breed cows to yield more milk, we could breed humans to run faster or jump higher. But heaven forbid that we should do it.''
However, Dawkins has kicked the hornets' nest with his comments on eugenics before. In 2014, the scientist started another Twitter row when he stated that it would be ''immoral'' not to abort a baby with Down's syndrome. Four years later he slammed Pope Francis for comparing the abortion of babies with birth defects to ''what the Nazis did to purify the race.''
Dawkins claimed that selective abortion ''is not about eugenics, [but] the avoidance of human suffering.''
Also on rt.com 'Tedious old racist': Richard Dawkins under fire for dismissing 'aggressive' Muslim prayer Rising to prominence with his 1976 book 'The Selfish Gene,' Dawkins became one of the foremost researchers pushing the gene-centered view of evolution. This view maintains that evolution occurs through the survival of particular genes, rather than the organism as a whole. This work also introduced the concept of the 'meme.'
In later years he became better known as an outspoken atheist, with his 2006 book 'The God Delusion' selling more than three million copies and provoking a flurry of debate in academia and media.
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Bloomberg's Business Nanny - WSJ
Tue, 18 Feb 2020 06:52
BlackRock CEO Larry Fink recently made a splash by threatening to vote against corporate managers who don't disclose an array of non-financial information as directed by the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board. But what is SASB, and where is this all going?
Michael Bloomberg founded SASB in 2011 as a shadow regulator for his policy agenda. SASB claims to be modelled on the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB), a nonprofit with the imprimatur of the Securities and Exchange Commission that regulates how corporations account for and disclose financial information.
SASB's nine-member standards board issues guidelines for what kinds of sustainability information corporations should report to investors. Yet while financial accounting is more or less uniform for all businesses, SASB standards vary across 77 industries. Tracking the minutia will provide a lifetime job guarantee for corporate auditors.
Consumer banks have to disclose how many ''no-cost retail checking accounts'' they provide ''to previously unbanked or underbanked customers.'' Investment houses must document loans that incorporate ''environmental, social and governance'' factors. Casinos have to report the share of employees who work where smoking is allowed.
SASB requires businesses in most high-paying industries to disclose workforce diversity. ''Hiring foreign nationals to compensate for shortages in local talent can create risks related to perceived social implications,'' SASB says. That's interesting because Mr. Bloomberg's private media company, Bloomberg LP, reports 17% of its U.S. workers are foreign nationals while 10% are black or Latino. Under SASB this means Bloomberg needs to ''improve employee engagement and work-life balance'' to recruit more minorities and women.
Some standards would require a wild goose chase, literally. Restaurants must report their share of cage-free eggs and pork produced without gestation crates. Why not grass-fed beef and hormone-free chicken'--or vegan meals, as the outfit Vegan Finance suggested in a public comment posted on SASB's website?
SASB Chair Jeffrey Hales tells us that SASB standards are based on real-world evidence and academic research on what information is ''financially material'' to investment decisions. He says a shift in social ''values can have a financial impact on a company,'' and SASB says its definition of financial materiality is based on securities law.
But the SEC and FASB have adopted the Supreme Court precedent that information is financially material only if there is ''a substantial likelihood that a reasonable investor would attach importance in determining whether to buy or sell the securities registered.'' In other words, information that would influence whether an investor buys or sells a stock.
FASB recently explained that ''materiality judgments can properly be made only by those that understand the reporting entity's pertinent facts and circumstances. Whenever an authoritative body imposes materiality rules or standards, it is substituting generalized collective judgments for specific individual judgments, and there is no reason to suppose that the collective judgments always are superior.''
SASB disagrees. It sets standards after consulting ''advisory groups'' comprised of businesses, investors, academics and other so-called ''stakeholders'''--like Vegan Finance. Some businesses support SASB's socially conscience goals. More than 100 companies including liberal punching bags like Philip Morris, Wells Fargo and Kinder Morgan say they follow SASB, though adherence is selective.
BlackRock says it doesn't follow SASB's requirement to disclose the liquidity of open-end mutual funds because the SEC has concluded doing so ''may pose a significant risk of confusing and misleading investors.'' Bloomberg LP, believe it or not, won't disclose data breaches or ''countries where core products or services are subject to government-required monitoring, blocking, content filtering, or censoring.'' Did someone say China?
This may explain why many companies say SASB's standards are laborious and irrelevant. The Association of American Railroads noted in a comment on SASB's website that industry-specific reporting requirements ''would be redundant, burdensome, unnecessary, and potentially confusing because it may lead to overemphasis on immaterial matters.'' As JPMorgan pointed out, ''issues that are material to one company may be slightly different for another, even within the same industry.'' Some companies might have to disclose proprietary information.
***All of this is supposedly voluntary, at least for now. But as Mr. Fink's orders to CEOs show, the goal is to shame and bully businesses to comply with SASB's social and political agenda. It's the business version of Mr. Bloomberg's Big Gulp soda ban while mayor of New York City.
SASB's ultimate goal is for the SEC to adopt its standards. SASB CEO Janine Guillot told us that the SEC should cite ''SASB as useful guidance for corporations to meet existing obligations'' to disclose financially material information. Businesses may soon need to start counting their cage-free eggs.
Battling Coronavirus, China Signals Delay of Its Top Party Gathering - The New York Times
Tue, 18 Feb 2020 06:18
The likely postponement of the most important spectacle on China's political calendar reflects the Communist Party's growing anxiety over the epidemic.
Raising China's national flag on the near-empty streets of Tianjin. Credit... Yuyang Liu for The New York Times Published Feb. 17, 2020Updated Feb. 18, 2020, 7:13 a.m. ET
The epidemic, which has killed at least 1,770 people in China and severely hindered the country's economy, has damaged the party's credibility and quickly become one of the most serious threats to its rule in decades.
China's leader, Xi Jinping, is scrambling to contain the virus, putting in place Mao-style social control measures across broad swaths of the country. But the government, worried that a sudden economic slump could undermine its grip on power, is also working to get vital industries back on track and reopen factories.
The annual meeting of the party-dominated congress is a cherished political tradition in which the party proudly showcases its governance model. It takes place in the imposing Great Hall of the People in Beijing, where Mr. Xi and other leaders, alongside nearly 3,000 delegates, lay out their agenda, issue the annual budget and pass major legislation.
The likely postponement of this year's meeting suggests that the coronavirus crisis is far from over. Even in 2003, when China was battling the SARS epidemic, the congress went ahead as usual.
''It's a fairly extreme move,'' said Jane Duckett, the director of the Scottish Center for China Research at the University of Glasgow. ''They certainly seem to be very, very worried.''
Updated Feb. 10, 2020
What is a Coronavirus? It is a novel virus named for the crown-like spikes that protrude from its surface. The coronavirus can infect both animals and people, and can cause a range of respiratory illnesses from the common cold to more dangerous conditions like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS. How contagious is the virus? According to preliminary research, it seems moderately infectious, similar to SARS, and is possibly transmitted through the air. Scientists have estimated that each infected person could spread it to somewhere between 1.5 and 3.5 people without effective containment measures. Where has the virus spread? The virus originated in Wuhan, China, and has sickened tens of thousands of people in China and at least two dozen other countries. How worried should I be? While the virus is a serious public health concern, the risk to most people outside China remains very low, and seasonal flu is a more immediate threat. Who is working to contain the virus? World Health Organization officials have praised China's aggressive response to the virus by closing transportation, schools and markets. This week, a team of experts from the W.H.O. arrived in Beijing to offer assistance. What if I'm traveling? The United States and Australia are temporarily denying entry to noncitizens who recently traveled to China and several airlines have canceled flights. How do I keep myself and others safe? Washing your hands frequently is the most important thing you can do, along with staying at home when you're sick. The committee that oversees the congress said it would vote next Monday on whether to delay the gathering. Xinhua, the official Chinese news agency, quoted a committee spokesman as saying that ''to ensure that attention is entirely focused on preventing and controlling the epidemic, it is considered necessary to appropriately postpone'' the congress.
Yet Ms. Duckett said it would be hard for Mr. Xi to win back trust. ''When you're in charge of everything and when things go wrong, you're responsible,'' she said.
On Monday, the government sought to reassure the public that it was making progress in containing the outbreak. Officials reported that the daily count of new coronavirus cases was 2,048 '-- a three-week low. Over all, the virus has sickened more than 70,000 people in China and several hundred in other countries.
Public health experts said the dip in new infections was probably a result of the government's decision to impose travel restrictions in many cities, including Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak.
''The measures taken have been extraordinary, and we are seeing the effects,'' said Raina MacIntyre, a senior biosecurity researcher at the University of New South Wales in Australia.
But experts caution that the epidemic is probably more severe than Chinese officials have described, noting that the government has a history of underreporting cases '-- whether inadvertently, intentionally or both.
China has been wary of allowing international experts to assist in the crisis. It has ignored offers of help from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States, for example. And it did not allow an outside team of experts affiliated with the World Health Organization to visit until this week.
The W.H.O. group began field inspections on Monday, according to China's state-run news media.
But in a sign of Beijing's efforts to control information about the epidemic, the experts will not visit Hubei Province, which is home to Wuhan and where the vast majority of deaths have occurred. They will be permitted to travel only to Beijing and the provinces of Sichuan and Guangdong, according to Chinese news media reports.
Chinese officials are working to persuade the public that the government is taking swift action. Much of the country remains in lockdown, with hundreds of millions of people facing hard limits on going outdoors.
On Monday, the legislature also signaled that it would consider new measures to regulate the trade and consumption of wildlife, which has been identified as a probable source of the outbreak.
The details of any proposed changes are not yet clear, but the goal is to end ''the pernicious habit of eating wildlife,'' according to a statement posted by the Standing Committee of the congress on Monday. Mr. Xi has also called for limiting the trade.
Although the exact origin of the coronavirus is still under investigation, health officials and scientists say it spread outward from a wholesale market in Wuhan where vendors sold live wild animals from crowded stalls stacked in close quarters with meats and vegetables.
The challenge for Mr. Xi and party leaders is to show the public that they are responding to the anger and working effectively to contain the virus and prevent any future outbreaks, analysts said.
''There is a recognition that the central government and the top leadership needs to be seen as doing something more proactive than simply pinning the blame on Hubei and Wuhan governments,'' said Steve Tsang, the director of the China Institute at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. ''They want to show that the party is in charge, that people have been held to account, and now the central government is taking over.''
Steven Lee Myers and Sui-Lee Wee contributed reporting.
Tokyo Marathon canceled for 38,000 runners over COVID-19 fears | The Japan Times
Mon, 17 Feb 2020 20:03
As Japan ramps up its response to the coronavirus outbreak, one of the largest sporting events in the nation will be curtailed, with participation in the Tokyo Marathon limited to elite runners and wheelchair competitors, organizers said Monday.
Thousands of runners will no longer be able to participate in the event next month due to growing fears over a domestic outbreak of COVID-19.
The decision to eliminate general participation in the largest marathon in Asia emerged amid growing debate surrounding Tokyo's preparations to host the 2020 Olympic Games in July despite the ongoing viral outbreak.
The Tokyo Marathon, which is slated for March 1, follows a roughly 42-km route that starts at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government building in Shinjuku and finishes at Tokyo Station.
Thirty-eight-thousand runners were set to run in the Tokyo Marathon this year. Participation will be drastically reduced by barring general participants to prevent further spread of the virus. Roughly 200 elite runners will participate in the marathon, which doubles as a qualifying race for the 2020 Games.
Marathon organizers had formed a panel of medical experts in January to devise safety measures as well as ways to prevent further spreading of the novel coronavirus.
On Friday, organizers asked Chinese residents to defer entry to this year's marathon due to concern of the virus, which is thought to have originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan. Runners were told they would automatically qualify for next year's marathon if they complied.
Deferred entry was offered to more than 1,800 runners of various nationalities based in China, where, as of Monday, the coronavirus has caused nearly 1,800 deaths and infected more than 70,000 individuals.
The outbreak has led to the cancelation or relocation of sporting events around the world. In January, the International Olympic Committee relocated the Tokyo 2020 Olympic boxing qualifying tournament for the Asian and Oceanic region, which was originally scheduled to take place Feb. 3-14, to the Jordanian capital of Amman.
Olympic women's soccer qualifying slated for Feb. 3-9 was moved from Wuhan, the city at the epicenter of the outbreak, to Australia, while Asian Champions League games involving Chinese clubs, including several scheduled to take place in Japan, have been pushed back to April and May.
Formula One's Shanghai Grand Prix, originally scheduled for Apr. 19, has also been postponed.
Despite growing concerns that the novel coronavirus might impact the 2020 Olympics, organizers insist the game will go on.
After saying he was ''seriously worried'' the virus could dampen hype for the 2020 Games earlier this month, Yoshiro Muto, president of the Tokyo Organising Committee, backtracked and said cancelation or postponement was out of the question.
The 2020 Olympics, which will commence on July 24 with an opening ceremony, will play host to more than 11,000 athletes from over 200 nations.
Link Between Russia and 2016 Election May Be Seth Rich Murder, Republican Lobbyist Tells Robert Mueller
Mon, 17 Feb 2020 18:24
Robert S. Mueller III just celebrated his 73rd birthday, but don't expect him to take a vacation. Not only is the special counsel investigating potential collusion between Russia and the presidential campaign of Donald Trump, he is also reportedly looking into potential obstruction of justice by Trump in the firing of FBI Director James Comey, as well as the tangled finances of the Trump family. Mueller's impaneling of a grand jury in Washington, D.C., last week suggests he is moving rapidly on all these fronts.
But now a Republican lawyer and lobbyist wants Mueller to add another matter to his docket: the 2016 murder of Seth Rich, a 27-year-old employee of the Democratic National Committee. Rich was shot twice in the back as he walked home late at night from a bar in the Washington neighborhood of Bloomingdale. None of his possessions were taken, which has made some skeptical of official claims that the killing'--which remains unsolved'--was a robbery gone awry. Among those skeptics is Fox News host Sean Hannity, who has hinted Rich may have been killed by Democratic operatives for leaking DNC emails that cast the Democratic establishment, which heavily favored Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders in the presidential primary, in an unflattering light.
"We've ruled out that this a street crime," says Jack Burkman, the Republican operative who is urging Mueller to use his newly impaneled grand jury to investigate the Rich murder. In his letter to the special counsel, which was sent on Tuesday, Burkman argues that Rich's murder "may be the 'missing link' that connects otherwise incongruent events relating to Russia collusion in the 2016 presidential election." Burkman says in the letter that he is "willing to testify under oath" and "will share what we know" about the Rich murder.
And what does he know, exactly? Burkman says that in January, a former U.S. intelligence agent who'd worked in the Middle East "heard from credible sources" that Rich, who was working on voter outreach for the DNC, discovered evidence of Russian hacking. Burkman also says that about a month ago, a source at the DNC told him that in the early summer of 2016, Rich met with Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Kremlin-affiliated lawyer whom Donald Trump Jr. hosted at Trump Tower on June 9 of that year. Burkman believes that Rich angrily "presented her with a lot of emails" that were subsequently published by WikiLeaks on July 22, just days before Rich was murdered.
"We have other leads," Burkman tells Newsweek, declining to elaborate. He is, however, "fairly certain there's a Russia connection." He could say little more than that, not even if Rich'--depicted by some as a disenchanted Sanders supporter upset by the DNC's staunch pro-Clinton stance'--was collaborating with Russian agents or attempting to thwart them. "I am not entirely sure if Seth was a good guy or a bad guy," Burkman says, without explaining what nefarious intentions the young man might have had.
At the same time, Burkman casts himself as nothing more than a seeker of truth, in seeming defiance of critics who call him an attention-seeking conspiracy theorist. "My only goal is to find the killer of Seth Rich," he says. Burkman claims he has no political motivations of his own, and that, as a self-described "conservative Republican," he has little desire to absolve Russia of potential involvement in the Rich killing. And he is very much convinced that some such involvement did take place.
"I think this it's high time the special counsel take a look at the Seth Rich murder," Burkman says.
Department of Justice spokesman Joshua Stueve, who handles press inquiries for Mueller, would not comment on Burkman's letter or even confirm that the office of the special counsel had received his request. A lawyer for the Rich family, Joseph Ingrisano, did not answer a request for comment. Burkman held a press conference with Rich's parents on November 21, 2016, vowing to solve the case. But as that solution appeared to increasingly involve the Russians, the Rich family backed away from Burkman.
"We don't believe there's any involvement of any of the different conspiracy theories. We've made that clear multiple times," a Rich family member told DCist back in March. Burkman, for his part, acknowledges that his relationship with the Rich family "has gone cool."
Suggestions that Rich's killing was somehow related to the Trump campaign or to Russia's anti-Clinton efforts have generally been dismissed as conspiracy theories. A recent report by Burkman's own Profiling Project, which is staffed by graduate students in forensic psychology at the George Washington University, concluded that a "hired killer or serial murderer" was most likely responsible. The report rates the likelihood of Russian participation as "not likely."
There are other complications. A lawsuit filed last week by private investigator Rod Wheeler claims that Fox News, working in concert with the White House, concocted a narrative that placed Rich at the center of the DNC email leaks in order to take attention away from the Russian-collusion investigation. Burkman references the Wheeler lawsuit in his letter to Mueller, suggesting that possible collusion between Fox News and the White House should be further grounds for the special counsel to investigate the matter.
Burkman would not say whether he has discussed his own work on the Rich murder with anyone at the White House. Nor does he believe that Wheeler's seemingly damning accusations in any way imperil his own inquiry.
"I know nothing about whether Wheeler's allegations are true," he says. "That is just not what I am working on."
As far as Burkman is concerned, that a writer for FoxNews.com may have invented a story about Rich doesn't render every other theory about his murder a fiction.
"We can't have unsolved murders like this," Burkman says.
There were 64 other unsolved murders in Washington, D.C., in 2016. Except for Rich, nearly all those killed were African-American males. Because their deaths do not figure into presidential politics, they have largely been forgotten.
Het is vandaag 17 januari'... 2004 (audio) '' RadioVisie
Mon, 17 Feb 2020 18:06
Iedere ochtend '' bij het krieken van dag '' neemt RadioVisie u mee naar een ver verleden. We recycleren dag op dag een radioprogramma van lang geleden. Nostalgie, retro en de sfeer van toen. Een klein duwtje om u op gang te trekken en de komende uren makkelijker door te komen'... Meer originele opnames van toen, vindt u op het RadioVisie-deel van Mixcloud.
Live vanuit Irak en in Nederland: 'Curry & the Crew'
In de periode 2003-2005 vervulden ruim elfhonderd Nederlandse militairen een missie in Zuid Irak. Dat deden ze niet alleen, ook andere landen hadden daar mensen beschikbaar voor gesteld. Het doel, na jaren van onrust en oorlog in dit gebied, was om het land weer stabiel te maken. Waar nodig werden er ook politie-agenten opgeleid.
Om de Nederlandse militairen een hart onder de riem te steken ging in februari 2004 'Operation Iraqi Sunrise'. Dj Adam Curry van Radio Veronica besloot om naar Irak te gaan en de militairen op te zoeken in hun Camp Smithy, om er elke ochtend, live voor Radio Veronica het programma 'Ook goeiemorgen' te presenteren. Dat deed hij niet alleen maar met een heel team.
'Curry & the Crew' bestond uit de medepresentatoren Alexander Stevens en Michiel Veenstra, plus nieuwslezer Arend Langenberg. Behalve dat de uitzending rechtstreeks te beluisteren was in Nederland via de FM, kon er ook live in Irak via de FM afgestemd worden. Adam had voor de gelegenheid een FM-zender meegenomen en gebruikte die om de live stream van Veronica door te geven.
Daardoor kon er niet alleen op 'Camp Smithy' door de militairen worden geluisterd, maar ook in de omgeving. Toen na een week 'Curry & the crew' vertrokken waren, bleef de zender in Irak achter, zodat de militairen op Veronica konden blijven afstemmen. In de lente van 2005 was de missie afgelopen en kreeg Adam de zender terug.
Op 17 februari ging voor het eerst 'Operation Iraqi Sunrise' van 'Curry & the Crew', de lucht in. Behalve muziek en het nieuws vanuit Irak, live met Arend Langenberg, waren er ook veel verhalen over het kamp, deden Nederlandse militairen de groeten aan hun familie en vertelden Adam en zijn collega's over hun ervaringen in Irak. ° 0p 17 februari 2004 publiceerde dagblad 'Trouw' een interview met Adam Curry over zijn bezoek aan Irak. Hier klikken om te lezen. (TvH) '' Foto bovenaan: Adam Curry in Irak (nimh-beeldbank.defensie.nl)
Aantal keer gelezen: 95
Meer over Veronica
Closed Ham Radio Peripheral Reveals Its Windows Secrets
Mon, 17 Feb 2020 11:22
Welcome to Reddit's own amateur (ham) radio club. If you are wondering what Amateur Radio is about, it's basically a two way radio service where licensed operators throughout the world experiment and communicate with each other on frequencies reserved for license holders.All topics relating to the hobby are welcome here, from purchasing and building equipment, to operating techniques and activities, and everything in between.
Regarding NPR Berlin : NPR
Mon, 17 Feb 2020 11:19
NPR Berlin was an FM radio station that served the English-speaking community in Berlin, Germany, for more than a decade. Programming included the newsmagazines Morning Edition and All Things Considered along with other news and entertainment programs. "Life in Berlin" was a locally-produced series on the vibrant arts and cultural scene in Berlin.
In 2017, a new licensee, KCRW Berlin, began broadcasting on the frequency that formerly carried NPR Berlin. The service is affiliated with KCRW, a public radio station serving Southern California.
Unloved by Trump, NPR Carries On - The New York Times
Mon, 17 Feb 2020 10:59
Donations to the public broadcaster went up sharply after the president said it was ''a very good question'' to ask why it still existed.
The Washington headquarters of National Public Radio. The White House budget proposal would eliminate its federal funding by 2023. Credit... Saul Loeb/Agence France-Presse '-- Getty Images Published Feb. 16, 2020Updated Feb. 17, 2020, 12:31 a.m. ET
First President Trump questioned the existence of National Public Radio in a tweet. Then, as part of the annual budget request released last Monday, he recommended slashing federal funding to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the body that distributes taxpayer dollars to NPR and other public media outlets, to $0 by 2023.
Past budget proposals from Mr. Trump have apparently had little influence over the amounts that public media has received from the government. For the 2020 fiscal year, the White House recommended $30 million for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Congress, which has traditionally shown support for public media, ultimately decided on $465 million.
Although Congress controls how much federal money goes to public broadcasters, NPR is not taking the potential threat lightly. About 1 percent of its budget comes from federal money, but Mike Riksen, an NPR vice president, said the funding was ''essential'' to public radio.
''Elimination of federal funding would result in fewer programs, less journalism '-- especially local journalism '-- and, eventually, the loss of public radio stations, particularly in rural and economically distressed communities,'' Mr. Riksen said. ''We are fully engaged with policymakers to ensure a complete understanding of federal funding and its importance to our stations and the public media system.''
The White House budgeted $30 million for public broadcasting in 2021. For 2022 '-- the last year of federal funding for public media, if the president got his way '-- Mr. Trump proposed $28 million.
Despite the lack of support from the administration, Paul G. Haaga Jr., a longtime Republican donor who is the chairman of NPR's board of directors, said he believed public media was not in danger.
He recalled conversations that he'd had with Republican lawmakers soon after he joined the board. ''They'd leaned over and say, 'Don't tell anybody in the caucus, but I love NPR and couldn't live without it,''' Mr. Haaga said. ''And I'd lean over and say, 'Don't tell anybody, but everybody in the caucus tells me that, too.'''
Nevertheless, NPR has been under scrutiny lately after tensions arose between Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the journalist Mary Louise Kelly.
Ms. Kelly, an anchor of the NPR news show ''All Things Considered,'' said Mr. Pompeo had used foul language during a tense exchange on Jan. 24 after she pressed him on the administration's Ukraine policy as part of a taped interview.
Two days after the encounter, Mark Levin, the conservative host of a syndicated radio program and a Fox News show, asked on Twitter, ''Why does NPR still exist?'' He described the outlet as a ''Democrat Party propaganda operation.''
Mr. Trump retweeted Mr. Levin's post, adding a comment of his own: ''A very good question!''
That same day, the State Department barred the NPR correspondent Michele Kelemen from traveling as a member of the press pool on a government airplane with Mr. Pompeo. Ms. Kelemen, who has covered the State Department for nearly two decades, was set to travel with Mr. Pompeo to Europe and Central Asia.
The State Department Correspondents' Association, lawmakers and commentators spoke out in support of NPR afterward. A Fox News host, Steve Hilton, referred to Mr. Pompeo as a ''baby'' and a ''bully.''
Donations to many NPR affiliates spiked in the days after the president's tweet and the clash with the State Department, according to an NPR spokeswoman. Direct contributions to Southern California Public Radio increased 250 percent, said Rob Risko, the director of membership.
Donations to the public station KMUW in Wichita, Kan. '-- a city in the congressional district once represented by Mr. Pompeo '-- rose 90 percent, the general manager, Debra Fraser, said. Pledges came in from 12 states.
KMUW, a station with 25 employees, would survive if federal funding disappeared, Ms. Fraser said. ''The problem is the rural stations,'' she added. ''They can't make that up.''
NPR started in 1970, three years after President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Public Broadcasting Act. President Richard M. Nixon became the first of many Republican leaders who tried to cut funding to public media when he vetoed a bill to fund the Corporation for Public Broadcasting in 1972.
In 1984, President Ronald Reagan vetoed a bill that authorized spending increases for public broadcasting. In the 1990s, Speaker Newt Gingrich championed a movement to ''zero-out'' federal funding for public media, and President George W. Bush recommended cuts to the corporation's budget each year he was in office, only to be overridden by Congress.
The bulk of NPR's funding comes from corporate sponsors and fees it receives from affiliate radio stations.
Congress approves the Corporation for Public Broadcasting's annual budget two years in advance '-- meaning the budget for 2020 was approved in 2018. While the White House can request a reduction of that money in its annual proposal, the lead time affords public broadcasting some protection, said Bill Davis, the president emeritus at Southern California Public Radio.
''That forward funding does provide a modicum of a heat shield, if you will, from this kind of political dust-up,'' he said.
Mr. Davis added that it would be ''catastrophic'' for small NPR stations if federal funding for public media shrank to zero.
NPR affiliates are often the main sources of news in rural areas, said Mr. Haaga, the board chairman. He added that public media, despite the criticism from some Republicans that it has a liberal bias, should be seen as a good thing for conservatives.
''As I tell my Republican friends, our ideas are better than the Democrats' ideas, so we benefit disproportionately from an informed public,'' Mr. Haaga said. ''Sometimes people chuckle over that. But then they realize it's true.''
Jaclyn Peiser contributed research.
UK Govt. Approves Net Censorship - Free Speech Dies - Liberty Nation
Mon, 17 Feb 2020 07:58
Please respect our republishing guidelines - Click HereThe United Kingdom has become the first Western nation to move ahead with large-scale censorship of the internet, effectively creating regulation that will limit freedom on the last frontier of digital liberty. In a move that has the nation reeling, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has unveiled rules that will punish internet companies with fines, and even imprisonment, if they fail to protect users from ''harmful and illegal content.''
Boris Johnson
Couched in language that suggests this is being done to protect children from pedophiles and vulnerable people from cyberbullying, the proposals will place a massive burden on small companies. Further, they will ultimately make it impossible for those not of the pervasive politically correct ideology to produce and share content.
Quis Custodiet Ipsos CustodesThe new guardian of the internet will be the Office of Communications (known as Ofcom), a government-approved body that already regulates television, radio, broadcasting, and even the postal service. This group has been accused on many occasions of ''acting as the moral arbiter'' for the nation, and perhaps unsurprisingly, tends towards a very left-leaning position.
Speaking to Order-Order.com, Matthew Lesh, the head of research at The Adam Smith Institute, warned:
''Make no mistake: free speech is under threat. The Government is proposing the most censorious online speech regime in the Western world. We must not be fooled by platitudes about freedom of expression. The inevitably woke bureaucrats in Ofcom will be deciding what sort of speech is and is not allowed across much of the internet. They will have extraordinary discretion to decide who to target and what is harmful.
This is a recipe for disaster for anyone that thinks differently to the Notting Hill set '-- any correct but unpopular opinions will not just come under attack from the Twitterati, but the law itself.''
Ofcom has a new boss in place to go along with the new powers: Dame Melanie Dawes. Dawes has been a career civil servant for her entire working life and was most recently the Civil Service Gender and Diversity Champion from 2015 to 2019.
The RulesAmong the sweeping and censorious powers awarded to Ofcom are:
The ability to create guidelines that instruct content-hosting companies (YouTube, Facebook, etc.) on how to manage online censorship of ''user-generated content.''Create rules for content that is ''not illegal but has the potential to cause harm.''To have the remit for deciding, writing up, and adapting rules on how internet regulation works.Not only is the government mandating an outside body to orchestrate the regulation of the internet, but they are also handing over the power to decide exactly what should be censored. Boris Johnson, formerly considered the darling of liberty for his backing of Brexit, appears to have handed over control of who may speak and what may be said online to an organization that prides itself on its ability to clamp down on speech it considers fringe.
The nation's newspapers are owned by a small group of people and companies. Many of the major television and radio stations are under charter with the U.K. government. Book publishing companies are too afraid to publish a single word that goes against the progressive orthodoxy. The ability to congregate and hold rallies is tightly controlled by government bodies. And now, the last realm of freedom, the last place in which like-minded souls can exchange ideas, learn, and express themselves to their fullest is about to fall under the Orwellian control of an agency that will not even be accountable to the government itself.
The Ministry of Truth is here.
Read more from Mark Angelides.
Blow To Bitcoin As 'Significant' U.S. Crypto Crackdown Suddenly Revealed
Mon, 17 Feb 2020 07:52
The U.S. bitcoin and cryptocurrency community has had a rough week'--and its future is looking bleak.
This week, Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin warned "significant" new bitcoin and cryptocurrency regulations are on their way, Minneapolis Federal Reserve president Neel Kashkari branded cryptocurrencies "a giant garbage dumpster," and the Department of Justice called bitcoin mixing "a crime."
However, the news has failed to much move the bitcoin price, which remains up almost 50% since the beginning of the year.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told the Senate Finance Committee that the Financial Crimes ... [+] Enforcement Network (FinCEN) is preparing to unveil new regulations around bitcoin and cryptocurrencies.
Getty ImagesMnuchin, who last year echoed U.S. president Donald Trump's criticism of bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, told the Senate Finance Committee the U.S. Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) is preparing "significant new requirements" around cryptocurrencies and we'll "be seeing a lot of work coming out very quickly."
"We want to make sure that technology moves forward but, on the other hand, we want to make sure that cryptocurrencies aren't used for the equivalent of old Swiss secret number bank accounts," Mnuchin said, adding FinCEN and the Treasury Department more broadly are "spending a lot of time on this."
Last year, Mnuchin warned that bitcoin will not be widely used in ten years time and that it could be considered a U.S. national security risk.
Meanwhile, adding to the assault on bitcoin and cryptocurrencies coming out of the U.S. this week, Minneapolis Fed president Neel Kashkari said cryptocurrencies lack the basic characteristics of any stable currency.
"The reason that the dollar has value is because the U.S. government has a legal monopoly on producing the dollar," said Kashkari, speaking at a Montana event after being asked whether he would want his 1-year-old daughter to be gifted a Treasury bond or a bitcoin for her next birthday.
"In the virtual-currency and cryptocurrency world, there are thousands of these garbage coins out there. Literally, people have been fleeced for tens of billions of dollars, and finally the SEC is getting involved in cracking down on this."
The bitcoin price has climbed since the beginning of the year but remains far from its 2019 highs of ... [+] around $14,000 per bitcoin.
CoinbaseElsewhere, Department of Justice prosecutors this week branded bitcoin mixing software, designed to mask the origin of bitcoin transactions, "money laundering."
In the indictment of Larry Harmon, who was this week arrested for his alleged involvement in a money-laundering conspiracy worth more than $300 million, the Department of Justice referred to Harmon's Helix software as a "money transmitting and money laundering business."
The bitcoin and cryptocurrency regulatory landscape in the U.S. has long been found stifling by the nascent crypto industry'--with some choosing to more favourable regions such as Switzerland.
"Everyone in the know is already well aware of Europe's clear guidance on crypto custody, exchange licensing, rules for issuance of payment, utility and security tokens," said blockchain pioneer and managing director of Yeoman's Capital David Johnston, adding, "European rules are very clear at this point."
Social media giant Facebook, which last year revealed it will launch its own cryptocurrency, libra, in 2020, opted to base its independent governing Libra Association in Switzerland.
Nevada Democrats look to Silicon Valley to prevent Iowa-like meltdown | Salon.com
Mon, 17 Feb 2020 07:02
As four days of early voting begin in Nevada's 2020 Democratic Party presidential caucuses on Saturday, February 15, the big question is will there be breakdowns in the reporting and counting of votes that echo Iowa's chaotic 2020 caucus earlier this month.
That question is not speculation as Nevada State Democratic Party (NSDP) officials dropped their plans to use the same precinct reporting app and backend tabulation system that failed in Iowa. The NSDP has been scrambling since to find a substitute for what were the same uses in Iowa, but with additional elements unique to Nevada's caucuses.
Unlike Iowa, Nevada plans to offer early voting at 80 sites across the state. In addition to processing voter registration, party registration and ranked-choice voting at those early voting sites, the NSDP must securely store those early votes, and then send the local results to nearly 2,000 caucus chairs to begin the February 22 statewide contest.
The NSDP has been updating presidential campaigns with details on how they will do all this in recent days, as well as producing new training materials for volunteers who will run the early voting sites and chair the caucuses. The new system's hub will be using party-owned iPads pre-loaded with registration and tabulation templates created by Google forms, according to various news reports.
In a remarkable development, it appears that Google is stepping in to prevent Nevada from experiencing the same vote reporting and counting problems as seen in Iowa '-- even as the NSDP is saying that it will also scan (and count) all of the paper ballots. The NSDP hasn't released any details on the paper-based scanning process. Instead, it has told the campaigns and the press about its plans to use Apple and Google's digital tools.
Two systems '-- one paper, one online
The Democratic National Committee has required caucus states to have a paper trail of all votes. In Iowa and Nevada, participants are to fill out and sign presidential preference cards. Party-run caucuses are not secret ballots. Caucus chairs collect these cards and also fill out a results summary sheet that they and campaign representatives must all sign.
But it appears that the primary way that the NSDP will be reporting and tallying votes is not by examining these paper records, but by using the party-provided iPads and Google forms. In short, there will be two evidence trails created'--one paper, one digital. Iowa had a similar system, but it did not expect to have to fall back on the paper to tally its results.
Google's eleventh-hour entry into the Nevada caucus is potentially very significant. It appears that the NSDP will use Google forms as a key input for voter registration and also for the recording, counting and reporting of precinct totals and compiling the statewide results. This is in addition to whatever paper records are created.
During the February 11 New Hampshire primary, Voting Booth's reporter had the good fortune to talk to Michael Glover, a PhD engineer and software writer who had worked at Google and was familiar with Google forms' strengths and weaknesses. He was working with officials in Durham, New Hampshire, and running real-time audits of the same-day voter registration records and ballots cast there. Durham is where the largest University of New Hampshire campus is located and is an epicenter of the state's student voting.
"If I were to design the ideal system, I'd have it based entirely on paper," he said. "You get a ballot. You mark it. You have these registration forms'--they're all paper. And you maintain custody of the paper'... You can feed thousands of ballots into a scanner. You can count everything. You can manually verify the counts against various segments."
"If they design a system that does everything based on paper with these various acceleration mechanisms, then it is brilliant," Glover continued. "But if they are actually representing the fundamental information, not on paper but electronically, I get really scared, because there are all kinds of ways to hack it'--even Google forms."
Glover explained that using Google forms creates a very simple interface for people to use'--launched by a URL or website link '-- and then puts all of their information into what is essentially a giant spreadsheet. This is the same way that central vote-counting systems work, producing one document filled with rows of precincts and columns of voted choices.
Glover explained the steps Nevada party officials were likely to take using Google forms.
"You create a form. You've got box, box, box. And a box might be a name or your registration information. It might be a Democrat or Republican, or a number [ranking the candidate]," he said. "You can send that form to all of the data entry people [running early voting sites or caucuses]. It pops up as a form on your computer. And you go, 'select, select, select, click, submit,' and that will appear as a row on a [backend] spreadsheet. That's what [using] Google forms does for you. And this form that popped up originally, as well as the spreadsheet, are both represented by URLs."
Using the system could be a smart solution, Glover said, but there were security risks'--especially if someone who wanted to meddle found the URLs. (In Iowa, Trump backers learned the call-in number to the state party's hotline and intentionally started calling in to thwart the speed of the reporting of precinct results after its digital reporting system failed.)
"If you have that URL, and they didn't set all the permissions right, conceivably you could throw new data into the spreadsheet, delete data from the spreadsheet or generate false submit buttons. That's my fear," Glover said. "If a URL gets loose, and the permissions get out, people can start pouring data in there. Or just create a lot of havoc'--enough to just disrupt the process '-- which, if you were an attacker, would be a victory."
When asked about potential competition for bandwidth, Glover said that Google forms used "relatively few bits" and said that Wi-Fi was a better platform for transmitting data than cell phones. (Voting security experts contacted by Voting Booth cringed when told the early voting and precinct totals could be sent on the same pathway as cell phones.)
While the data going into Google forms can be disrupted, Glover said that the way that information is constantly updated in the cloud means that the spreadsheet's entries could be reverse-engineered to see when something bad may have occurred.
"You end up with a spreadsheet in the cloud," he said. "The wonderful thing about a Google spreadsheet is anytime you do it [enter data], it will record the history, so you can walk backward and see each of the entry events. So it's auditable."
What else can go wrong?
There have been plenty of reports by national media organizations that have highlighted potential worries about difficulties that users of Nevada's substitute system might face.
Those worries range from frustrations or mishaps that come from unfamiliar software, to deeper systemic issues such as whether there will be competition for Wi-Fi at caucus sites (which was an issue in Iowa as many voters were on devices using Wi-Fi), to whether there will be adequate security protections surrounding access to the counting system's backend.
There are other complicating factors that have nothing to do with the NSDP's efforts to retool its caucus voting system at the eleventh hour.
This week, the Nevada Secretary of State's office '-- which said after Iowa's debacle that it would have "no role whatsoever" in the Democratic Party caucuses, as they are party-run contests '-- announced its statewide voter database, which the NSDP will use to preload its iPads, contained party affiliation errors. Voters were listed in the wrong party.
A likely consequence of those glitches would be a potentially longer check-in time at the early voting and caucus sites. At worst, Nevadans would have to re-register as a voter and declare their affiliation as a Democrat before being able to participate. (This issue was seen in Iowa, which didn't take too long to sort out at the entrance to caucus sites.)
But the biggest concerns are not problems that individual voters might face, but problems that could scale and impede many precincts from reporting and the party from producing statewide totals. The NSDP and Democratic National Committee have been working very hard behind the scenes to make sure what occurred in Iowa doesn't repeat'--including bringing DNC staff in from Washington to assist the Nevada state party.
The four days of early voting start on Saturday, February 15, and run through Tuesday, February 18. Depending on what unfolds in early voting, it is possible that there will be more changes to NSDP's process and technology before its statewide caucus on February 22.
Nevada Democrats to use scannable ballot for early voting, iPad with Google Forms for check in
Mon, 17 Feb 2020 07:02
A Washoe County Democratic Party button as seen at a rally at the University of Nevada, Reno on Thurs. Oct. 25, 2018. (David Calvert/The Nevada Independent)
Nevada Democrats will replace their app-based early voting process for the caucus with a scannable paper ballot, the first concrete details to emerge about the new process the party is designing in the wake of Iowa's problem-plagued contest last week.
Under the new system, early voters will fill out paper ballots that will be scanned at the end of each day, like a Scantron, at designated processing hubs monitored by the state party. Those paper ballots will be linked to voters' unique secretary of state ID numbers '-- which will ensure their votes will flow to their home precinct to be counted alongside their neighbors' on Caucus Day '-- through use of a check-in form, via Google Forms, as well as a paper back-up voter card.
The Nevada State Democratic Party released the new details to the presidential campaigns Monday evening in a memo, which the party later provided to The Nevada Independent . The party's executive director Alana Mounce and caucus director Shelby Wiltz also joined calls with individual campaigns to discuss the memo.
Aides to top presidential campaigns in the state had been frustrated for several days over the lack of details from the party on what the new caucus process would look like after the party scrapped its plans to rely on two apps a week ago. The apps had been developed by the political technology company, Shadow Inc., which was responsible for designing the app that contributed to the Iowa debacle.
Starting Saturday, voters will be able to show up to more than 80 locations, including community centers, colleges and labor halls, over a four-day period to cast their ballots early. Upon arrival, voters will check-in with volunteers using a PDF voter roll pre-loaded onto party-purchased iPads that will be provided to early vote site leaders.
Each iPad will have only the voter roll corresponding to the county in which the early voting site is located '-- since early votes must be cast in the same county where the voter is registered '-- downloaded to the ''Books'' app.
From there, early voters will be given a voter card '-- filled out by a volunteer on site '-- that will include their first name, last name, secretary of state ID number and voter PIN. The PINs will be pre-generated and affixed to the card via a sticker, and a corresponding sticker will also be placed on their paper ballot.
Voters who need to register or update their registrations will be able to do so on site. Their voter cards will also include their address with the city and zip code in lieu of a secretary of state ID number.
Early voters will also be asked to enter the information on their voter card into a Google Form on a party iPad, with the goal of helping the party streamline the process of connecting the ballot with each individual's unique secretary of state ID. The Google Form will also be used to track voters in near-real time and to verify that no one has attempted to vote twice. (According to the memo, paper sign-in sheets will also be available as a backup.)
An icon on the iPad will launch the Google Form, which will be accessed through a URL. According to the party, there are a series of security mechanisms in place to ensure that the URL is only accessed by the appropriate individuals.
When it comes time to vote, Democrats will select their presidential preferences by completing the paper ballot, which will each have their own designated ballot number. When they are done, they will return both their ballot and their voter card to a designated ballot box monitored by a party volunteer.
At the end of each day, ballot boxes will be transported to processing hubs monitored by the state party to be scanned and securely stored. According to the memo, a clear chain of custody outlined on the ballot box will be documented, from the time that it leaves the Nevada State Democratic Party's headquarters to the time it is dropped off at the hub.
The party plans to update the campaigns on who has voted early, but no early vote presidential preferences will be shared until the individual precinct caucuses on Caucus Day.
No further details have been announced about the ''tool'' or ''calculator'' the party plans to pre-load onto its party-purchased iPads to allow precinct chairs to flow the early vote data into the Caucus Day process. Mounce, in the memo, said that the party ''will continue to keep everyone updated as we have further information to share.''
Comment Policy (updated 10/4/19): Please keep your comments civil. We reserve the right to delete comments or ban users who engage in personal attacks, use an excess of profanity, make verifiably false statements or are otherwise nasty.
$40b investment up for grabs in Iran petchem industry
Sun, 16 Feb 2020 23:28
SHANA '' Iranian Minister of Petroleum Bijan Zangeneh said there were opportunities to invest by up to 40 billion dollars in the country's petrochemical industry.
Addressing a conference on financing petroleum projects on Saturday, the official said the country expected to launch petrochemical projects valued at a total of $30b by the next 5 years, adding $10 to $12 billion in sideline projects had been defined in the sector.
He said the projects 'financiers were able to bankroll them but it would be better if the finances could be procured from small capital in the society.
Zangeneh said none of the projects devised to be built in Iran by 2024 were behind the schedule, adding plans for nearly $12b of petrochemical projects had been finalized in the country but their development had not begun yet.
The official further said that with $20b of investment petro-refining projects would also be completed in the country, adding all the investment would be carried out by private companies in the petrochemical and petro-refining projects, and only a small part of the projects would be financed by semi-state companies.
Censored Tweet: Trump Promises Stone Freedom, Says He Will Never Leave Office (alive) '' Veterans Today | Military Foreign Affairs Policy Journal for Clandestine Services
Sun, 16 Feb 2020 23:27
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Topless protesters storm stage as Bernie Sanders campaigns in Nevada - New York Daily News
Sun, 16 Feb 2020 23:25
New York Daily News |
Feb 16, 2020 | 4:15 PM
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders is hugged by his wife, Jane, left, as he waits for protesters who interrupted his remarks are removed from the stage during his campaign event in Carson City, Nev., Sunday, Feb. 16, 2020. (Rich Pedroncelli/AP)
A group of protesters blew their tops '-- literally '-- as Sen. Bernie Sanders was campaigning in Carson City, Nev., on Sunday.
The Democratic presidential hopeful had just finished introducing his wife Jane O'Meara Sanders as ''the next First Lady'' when a woman walked up to the mic and started rambling about subsidies for the dairy industry, video posted to social media showed.
''Bernie, I'm your biggest supporter and I'm here to ask you to stop propping up the dairy industry and to stop propping up animal agriculture. I believe in you,'' she exclaimed before the sound was cut.
Two topless kindred spirits hopped onstage to join her. They poured milk on themselves and preened around the podium for just a few moments before security took the protesters away.
The crowd shouted ''Bernie!'' while some members screamed obscenities at the women.
The presidential candidate seemed to take the interruption in stride, quipping, ''This is Nevada, there's always a little bit of excitement at no extra cost.''
Mayor de Blasio, who had introduced Sanders minutes earlier, appeared to be confused by the incident. He was seen on video averting his gaze from the stage and walking away as the scene unfolded.
Hizzoner endorsed Sanders last week, following the Vermont senator's strong showings in the Iowa and New Hampshire primaries.
Battling a sore throat, de Blasio preached, ''There's only one candidate, brothers and sisters. I feel this in my heart.
''There's only one candidate who can bring together an entire coalition of working people of all races and ethnicities, every part of this country."
Sunday wasn't the first time nudity was spotted at a Sanders rally.
In 2016, two women were arrested for disrobing to reveal the phrase ''Feel the Bern'' written on their bodies outside a rally in Los Angeles, according to the L.A. Times.
Latest Politics
Masked men pose as women on dating apps, then rob victims, Maryland police warn | FOX 5 DC
Sun, 16 Feb 2020 23:24
articleFILE: The "Tinder" app logo is seen amongst other dating apps on a mobile phone screen. ( Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images )
GREENBELT, Md. - Greenbelt police are warning the public of masked men who pose as women on dating apps, then rob their victims in real life.
Police said Sunday that they have received "several reports" of armed robberies in the area through the scheme.
They say the victims are usually "physically assaulted" before the robbers take their wallets, car keys and cell phones. The robbers are armed and wear masks, police said.
Police tell Fox 5 the majority of the robberies have occurred near apartments in the 6200 block of Springhill Court in Greenbelt.
Police in Greenbelt are now urging the public "to refrain" from meeting strangers through dating apps.
Anyone with information on the crimes is asked to call Greenbelt police at (301) 474-7200.
Adds Top Clinton Advisor to Campaign...
Sun, 16 Feb 2020 23:23
February 16, 2020 | 3:58pm
Amid reports that Mike Bloomberg could team up with Hillary Clinton by making her his running mate '' powerful Clinton ally Capricia Marshall is joining the former New York City mayor's presidential campaign, Page Six can exclusively reveal.
After the news broke on Saturday that internal polling found that a Bloomberg-Clinton ticket ''would be a formidable force'' to try to take down President Trump, Bloomberg tweeted, ''I would not be where I am today without the talented women around me. I've depended on their leadership, their advice and their contributions.''
Now Page Six can reveal that Bloomberg has tapped DC-based Marshall '' who was President Bill Clinton's White House social secretary from 1997 to 2001. Under the Obama administration, she served as chief of protocol of the United States '-- a sensitive diplomatic position bearing the rank of ambassador '-- from 2009 to 2013.
Prior to that, Marshall was a special assistant to Hillary when she was First Lady in 1993. In 2006, Marshall worked on then-Senator Hillary Clinton's re-election and then joined her presidential campaign in 2008. In her role as senior advisor, she led surrogate speakers and helped co-ordinate women's outreach. She also appears throughout the new Hulu docuseries about Hillary.
It was not immediately clear what position Marshall would take on the Bloomberg campaign, which now boasts more than 2,100 staffers. But a Democratic source told Page Six, ''Capricia Marshall is one of the very top people in Hillary's immediate inner circle, she is far more than a campaign person, far more than a political aide, and is a very respected insider in the Obama circle.
''Bloomberg has to network into the Democratic establishment in a more serious way, Capricia can help build a greater knowledge and awareness about Mike because she has personal relationships through Hillary with African American leaders, hispanic leaders and female activists.
''Capricia is very connected to the Democratic political orbit and will give Bloomberg a stronger link to the Dem establishment, and therefore more credibility. She will help convince them Mike is not a quasi-Republican after he heavily backed GOP candidates in the past.
''She will help Mike reach out to women and the African American community, which remains unsatisfied with his apology over his stop-and-frisk policy as New York City mayor.
''Hiring Capricia is a very smart move. She's a big deal.''
A spokesperson for the Bloomberg campaign didn't get back to us. Marshall could not be immediately reached.
How to Patent an Idea for Invention
Sun, 16 Feb 2020 23:09
You've designed something exceptional, an idea that could change the world for the better (or at least part of it) and you've come to the most important part '' you want to make it officially yours and patent it. You're full of sketches and drawings. And sure that your product could be commercially exploited, you could successfully self-employ and soon develop the right production over time. However, you also don't want it to come into someone else's hands and for someone else to shamelessly get rich based on your anguish and hours of work.
So, whenever we have a great idea for innovation in any field, the same questions arise: How to do it? How to patent a product? How to know if it's already registered? In this article, we will explain the basic notions you should know to protect your ideas and make that dream come true.
Source:pinterestWhat should you know about this?A patent is a title that recognizes the right to exclusively exploit an invention, preventing others from manufacturing, selling or using it without the owner's consent. In return, what is legally protected is made available to the public for general knowledge?
In this sense, we need to understand that they're the only valid means to prove ownership of an idea or concept of industrial application. These are property titles and as such allow the inventor to conduct negotiations based on the total or partial session of the exploitation rights of the idea. In order to achieve this, your innovation needs to meet three requirements:
To be totally new in the world.To be inventive (not based on any obviousness).Not to be abstract: to have an industrial application and be able to be carried out.Legally protecting an idea entails undergoing a legal procedure regulated by strict and generally immovable deadlines, as they recall from the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO). That's why it's more than advisable to hire a lawyer or an industrial property consultant with experience in these areas. From the PTO they also recommend studying the application procedure in detail and requesting it in a strategic way, at the time and for the reasons that best suit their exploitation plans.
Source:discoverbigfish.comDecide what and how we want to protectThe first thing we have to do is define well what we want to protect, with what image and under what brand or name. Also, to make sure that there's really nothing like that in the world.
Then, we'll present our application at the PTO, accompanied by other documents such as the applicant's data, a description of the idea with their respective plans, novelty claims (according to the PTO, the most important aspect) and a summary of everything.
Clarify the ownership from the beginningIt's our responsibility or the responsibility of the team we work with (as well as the institutions involved in the development), to define this. It needs to be known who is going to be the holders since it can be registered by several people.
When the person or institutions involved in a development don't clarify this situation from the beginning, the confusion generated might legally complicate later, and even stop the protection process. So, always think about this.
Think about documentationThe documentation needed to apply for a patent may seem simple at first glance. A descriptive memory's simply required where it's all explained. Claims where the desired protection is specifically established, drawings, a request with the information of the owner and the inventors'... The problem is that poor writing of the report or claims strongly affects the protection granted.
An example of bad writing: one that defines the invention too concretely so that a third party with a small modification no longer infringes it. The problem's even greater when one reads the law and discovers that the initially submitted documentation can't be easily corrected without losing the application date. Given the difficulty of the subject and the importance of good protection for the business, there are professionals in drafting and processing. These professionals are industrial property agents or patent agents. It's also possible to hire a company like Invent Help whose representatives will be more than happy to shape your ideas with you and help you go through the process.
Presentation and pre-examinationWhen all the documentation is there, a presentation date or priority date is granted to the application. After that, a form examination will be carried out to verify that the papers are okay. From there we have a whole year to submit protection applications in other countries if we see that our idea can have commercial success outside of our state. At some point in it we'll receive a search report of possible ideas similar to ours. The PTO, after reviewing the formal requirements required, will conduct an international search. Its aim is detecting the most similar examples of ideas that may affect the novelty, inventive activity and industrial application of the thing we want to patent. Made by an experienced examiner, this report usually includes a patentability opinion that will eventually be forwarded to the patent applicant.
Grant of the patentSource:androidauthority.comIn the end, the PTO issues an application receipt '' the document that establishes the starting point of the rights. From the date of application, the invention can already be disclosed without risk to affect the process. In practice, once the patent is filed, the person or company that has developed the invention begins to present the invention to potential customers, suppliers or investors. If the examiners decide to grant it, upon payment of all fees, the decision is published in the Official Bulletin of Industrial Property, and the legal protection will be effective from the same day of the date of publication.
And about other countries'...These, like the other industrial property registers, are territorial in nature and therefore only offer protection in those countries where they're registered. The law establishes a period of 12 months, expandable to 30 months, from the date of application of the first patent to apply for the same thing in other countries. If the applicant doesn't take advantage of this period, he can no longer request protection for the same invention in other countries.
We hope that this guide and steps helped you become even more motivated to show your best to the world and make something that will change it. Don't hesitate anymore '' now you have all you need to do it '' make it happen!
KBR (company) - Wikipedia
Sun, 16 Feb 2020 19:31
KBR, Inc. (formerly Kellogg Brown & Root) is an American engineering, procurement, and construction company, formerly a subsidiary of Halliburton. After Halliburton acquired Dresser Industries in 1998, Dresser's engineering subsidiary, the M. W. Kellogg Co., was merged with Halliburton's construction subsidiary, Brown & Root, to form Kellogg Brown & Root. KBR and its predecessors have received many contracts with the U.S. military including during World War II, the Vietnam War, and the Iraq War. Democratic Congressman Lyndon B. Johnson, later President of the United States, was instrumental in providing government contracts for Brown & Root, in exchange for the company funding his campaigns and otherwise providing money to him.
The company's corporate offices are in the KBR Tower in Downtown Houston.[2]
History Edit 500 Jefferson, also a part of Cullen Center, has additional KBR offices
[2]M. W. Kellogg Edit In 1901 Morris Woodruff Kellogg founded The M. W. Kellogg Company in New York City. The company was incorporated in 1905 and its headquarters was moved to Jersey City, New Jersey. Initially Kellogg's main business was power plant construction and fabrication of power plant components, but the development of hammer forge welding techniques helped ready the company to move into refining as the petroleum industry developed. Kellogg was announced the number one construction company for years 1993 to 1995. This is mainly due to their work in the Dulles Greenway.
Kellogg's entry into process engineering initially focused on the Fleming cracking process, but in the 1920s Kellogg partnered with The Texas Company (Texaco) and Standard Oil of Indiana to purchase the Cross thermal cracking process. Kellogg set up one of the first petroleum laboratories in the country in 1926 to commercialize and then license the technology. This led to Kellogg building some 130 units in the United States and abroad.
In the 1930s and 1940s, Kellogg worked with leading refiners on various technologies. For the war effort, these developments led to the construction of six hydroreformer units, twenty fluid catalytic cracking units, and the only complete refinery built during World War II. Even bigger than the refining work was K-25, the gaseous diffusion plant at Oak Ridge, Tennessee, developed by Kellogg subsidiary the Kellex Corporation, built as part of the Manhattan Project. This period also included the development of the Benedict''Webb''Rubin (BWR) equation of state which has since become an industry mainstay and provided the basis for Kellogg's lead in cryogenics.
The 1950s Kellogg technology expanded into steam pyrolysis, Orthoflow fluid catalytic cracking, phenol-from-cumene and coal-to-synthetic fuels technologies and the 1960s saw the growth in helium recovery, ethylene, and the development of Kellogg's ammonia process. Kellogg maintained New York offices at 225 Broadway in the Transportation Building until 1956 when it moved to 711 Third Avenue in Midtown.[3]
In 1970, Kellogg moved from New York City to Houston, Texas, and in 1975, they completed the move by relocating the research and development lab. The 1970s saw Kellogg become the first American contractor to receive contracts from the People's Republic of China. Kellogg's international work expanded with the major ammonia complexes in China, Indonesia, and Mexico as well as LNG liquefaction plant in Algeria and two receiving terminals in the United States, the world's largest LPG plant in Kuwait and four fluid catalytic cracking units in Mexico. The 1980s saw continuation of global activity in LNG and ethylene with millisecond furnaces starting up in the United States.
Kellogg underwent numerous acquisitions and name changes through until 1987, when it was acquired by Dresser Industries, a provider of integrated services and project management for the oil and gas industry.[4] Ten years later, Halliburton acquired Dresser, and combined Kellogg with Brown & Root to create a new, larger subsidiary '' Kellogg Brown & Root (KBR).[5]
Brown & Root Edit Brown & Root was founded in Texas in 1919 by Herman Brown and Daniel Root, with money provided by Root (Brown's brother in law).[6] Root soon died and Herman Brown's younger brother, George R. Brown, joined the company in 1922 (according to Robert A. Caro's The Path to Power). The company began its operations by building roads in Texas.
One of its first large-scale projects, according to the book Cadillac Desert, was building a dam on the Texas Colorado River near Austin during the Depression years. For assistance in federal payments, the company turned to the local Congressman, Lyndon B. Johnson. Brown & Root was the principal source of campaign funds after Johnson's initial run for Congress in 1937, in return for persuading the Bureau of Reclamation to change its rules against paying for a dam on land the federal government did not own, a decision that had to go all the way to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. After other very profitable construction projects for the federal government, Brown & Root gave massive sums of cash for Johnson's first run for the U.S. Senate in 1941.[7]
During World War II, Brown & Root built the Naval Air Station Corpus Christi and its subsidiary Brown Shipbuilding produced a series of warships for the U.S. government. In 1947 Brown & Root built one of the world's first offshore oil platforms.[6]
Brown & Root continued to pour money into Lyndon Johnson's career, not just making massive contributions to Johnson's campaign funds but also making (and causing their subcontractors and others beholden to them to make) unusually large political contributions to enable Johnson to manipulate and influence other members of the House and Senate to obtain further huge contracts and other benefits (such as continuing the oil depletion allowance and the pricing of natural gas) for Johnson's friends in business. According to Tracy Kidder's book Mountains Beyond Mountains, Brown & Root was a contractor in the P(C)ligre Dam project. The project was designed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and financed by the Export-Import Bank of the United States.
Halliburton years Edit Following the death of Herman Brown, Halliburton Energy Services acquired Brown & Root in December 1962.[6] According to Dan Briody, who wrote a book on the subject, the company became part of a consortium called RMK-BRJ that built about 85 percent of the infrastructure needed by the U.S. Armed Forces during the Vietnam War. In 1967, the Government Accounting Office alleged that Brown & Root had been unaccountable with public funds and allowed materials to be stolen.[8][9] Donald Rumsfeld expressed concern that their contracts were not adequately audited.[8][9] At this time, protesters derided Brown & Root as a symbol of war profiteering,[10] dubbing the company "Burn & Loot".[10][11][9]
In 1989 Halliburton acquired another major engineering and construction contractor, C. F. Braun Inc., of Alhambra California, and merged it into Brown & Root.[12] From 1995 to 2002, Halliburton KBR was awarded at least $2.5 billion to construct and run military bases, some in secret locations, as part of the U.S. Army's Logistics Civil Augmentation Program (LOGCAP).[13]
In September 2005, under a competitive bid contract it won in July 2005 to provide debris removal and other emergency work associated with natural disasters, KBR started assessment of the cleanup and reconstruction of Gulf Coast Marine and Navy facilities damaged in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The facilities include: Naval Station Pascagoula, Naval Station Gulfport, the John C. Stennis Space Center in Mississippi, two smaller U.S. Navy facilities in New Orleans, Louisiana, and others in the Gulf Coast region.[14]
Formation of KBR, Inc. Edit Halliburton announced on April 5, 2007, that it had separated from KBR, which had been its contracting, engineering, and construction unit as a part of the company for 44 years.[15] The move was prefaced by a statement registered with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission on April 15, 2006, stating that Halliburton planned to sell up to 20 percent of its KBR stock on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). On November 16, 2006, KBR shares were offered for the public in an Initial Public Offering with shares priced at $17. The shares closed up more than 22 percent to $20.75 a share on the first trading day.[16]
On May 7, 2008, the company announced that it would acquire Birmingham, Alabama-based engineering and construction firm BE&K for $550 million. BE&K plans to remain headquartered in Birmingham.[17]
The company announced on November 7, 2017, that KBRwyle (KBR's global government services business) secured a contract to provide astronaut medical support services for the European Space Agency's European Astronaut Center Space Medicine Office in Cologne, Germany.[18]
Planned office facility Edit In 2008 the firm announced that a new office facility would appear at the intersection of the Grand Parkway and Interstate 10 in unincorporated western Harris County, Texas, between Houston and Katy.[19] The new complex would have been in close proximity to the Energy Corridor area of Houston.[20] KBR planned to continue to have a corporate presence in Downtown Houston.[21] In December KBR said that it would not continue with the plans due to a weakened economy.[22]
In January 2010 KBR announced plans to extend its lease and expand its presence in Downtown Houston. The downtown expansion will replace the Harris County plans. The new total of KBR leased space in downtown will be just over 1,200,000 square feet (110,000 m2) at completion.[23]
Expansion Edit In February 2018 KBR acquired Stinger Ghaffarian Technologies, a provider of technological solutions as well as mission operations in the aerospace sector, for $355 million.[24]
Operations Edit KBR's activities include engineering work at the Sadara Chemical Facility in Saudi Arabia, the world's largest chemical complex ever built in a single phase.[25] Through its government service provider, KBRwyle, the company is heavily involved in mission support for several space agencies, including NASA, providing training and care for American astronauts.[26]
Kosovo Edit In 1996, Brown & Root was awarded a contract to support U.S. and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) troops as part of the SFOR operation in the Balkan region. This contract was extended to also include KFOR operations in Kosovo starting in 1999. Camp Bondsteel in Ferizaj, Kosovo, was constructed by the 94th Engineer Construction Battalion together with the private Kellogg Brown & Root (KBR) under the direction of the Army Corps of Engineers.[27]
Afghanistan Edit KBR was awarded a $100 million contract in 2002 to build a new U.S. embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, from the U.S. State Department. KBR has also been awarded 15 Logistics Civil Augmentation Program (LOGCAP) task orders worth more than $216 million for work under Operation Enduring Freedom, the military name for operations in Afghanistan. These include establishing base camps at Kandahar and Bagram Air Base and training foreign troops from the Republic of Georgia.[28]
Cuba Edit KBR has also been actively involved in the development of works in Cuba. Most notably sections of the U.S. Naval base in Guantanamo, completed in 2006. Camp 6, the newest facility built for detainees at Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, is designed after a maximum-security penitentiary in the U.S.[29]
Iraq Edit In the 2000s, KBR employed more American private contractors and holds a larger contract with the U.S. government than does any other firm in Iraq. The company's roughly 14,000 U.S. employees in Iraq provide logistical support to the U.S. military.[30] Some U.S. Marines revived the Vietnam-era nickname 'Burn & Loot' as a name for the company during the Iraq War.[31]
In November 2012, a dozen Oregon National Guard soldiers sued KBR for knowingly exposing them to hexavalent chromium, and were awarded more than $85 million; the soldiers were providing security to civilian workers at the Qarmat Ali water facility in 2003.[32]
In January 2019, a case brought against KBR by hundreds of veterans, who claimed the company's practice of burning trash near barracks had sickened them, was refused by the supreme court, which let stand a lower court's ruling against the veterans.[33]
Lobbying Edit KBR engages 3rd party lobbyists to represent the company in jurisdiction where they have business interests. For example, in South Australia, KBR is represented by lobbying firm MCM Strategic Communications.[34]
Controversy Edit Political connections and corruption Edit Following the end of the first Gulf War, the Pentagon, led by then Defense Secretary Dick Cheney, paid Halliburton subsidiary Brown & Root Services over $8.5 million to study the use of private military forces with American soldiers in combat zones.[13]
Some controversy arose in February 1999 when KBR was awarded a substantial contract to provide emergency support to US military operations in the Balkans,[35] despite DynCorp having been awarded a contract, known as LOGCAP II, in 1994 to provide emergency support in exactly these sort of circumstances.[36]
RIO, or Restore Iraqi Oil, was awarded to KBR without competition when the United States Department of Defense determined that KBR was "the only contractor that could satisfy the requirement for immediate execution of the plan".[37]
There is also controversy about the Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA) report on billing methods for meals in which the auditors allegedly knew about, but disregarded, the Army requirement that directed KBR to have varying amounts of meals prepared at certain locations without respect to how many people used the service. Although KBR paid for the food, the DCAA did not believe they should be able to charge the DoD for meals prepared but not served.[38]
In June 2008, Charles M. Smith, the senior civilian Defense Department official overseeing the government's multibillion-dollar contract with KBR during the early stages of the war in Iraq said he was forced out of his job in 2004 for refusing to approve $1 billion in questionable charges by KBR. Smith refused to approve the payments because Army auditors determined that KBR lacked credible records to support more than $1 billion in spending. Smith stated, "They had a gigantic amount of costs they couldn't justify." He said that following this action he was suddenly dismissed and according to one New York Times source "his successors '-- after taking the unusual step of hiring an outside contractor to consider KBR's claims '-- approved most of the payments he had tried to block."[39]
In May 2010, it was reported that KBR was selected for a no-bid contract worth as much as $568 million through 2011 for military support services in Iraq.[40]
Shell companies in Cayman Islands Edit In March 2008, The Boston Globe reported that KBR had avoided paying hundreds of millions of dollars in federal Medicare and Social Security taxes by hiring workers through shell companies based in the tax haven of the Cayman Islands. More than 21,000 people working for KBR in Iraq '' including about 10,500 Americans '' are listed as employees of two companies, Service Employees International Inc., and Overseas Administrative Services, which exist on the island only in computer files in an office. KBR admitted that the companies were set up "in order to allow us to reduce certain tax obligations of the company and its employees". But KBR does claim the workers as its own with regards to the legal immunity extended to employers working in Iraq.[41]
Bribing Nigerian officials Edit On February 6, 2009, the Justice Department announced KBR had been charged with paying "tens of millions of dollars" in bribes to Nigerian officials in order to win government contracts, in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). A 22-page document filed in a Houston federal court alleged massive bribes in connection with the construction of a natural gas plant on Bonny Island requiring $7.5bn USD. KBR officials had no comment.[42] KBR pleaded guilty and was ordered to pay $402m USD in criminal fines, nearly all of which was covered by Halliburton. KBR and Halliburton also paid $177m USD in disgorgement of profits to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) due a civil complaint filed by the SEC relating to the FCPA charges.[43]
Former CEO Albert Jackson Stanley, who ran KBR when it was a subsidiary to Halliburton, was sentenced to 30 months in prison via plea agreement.[44][45]
Waxman allegations Edit The Army's actions came under fire from California Congressman Henry Waxman, who, along with Michigan Congressman John Dingell, asked the General Accounting Office to investigate whether the U.S. Agency for International Development and The Pentagon were circumventing government contracting procedures and favoring companies with ties to the Bush administration. They also accused KBR of inflating prices for importing gasoline into Iraq.[46] In June 2003, the Army announced that it would replace KBR's oil-infrastructure contract with two public-bid contracts worth a maximum total of $1 billion, to be awarded in October. However, the Army announced in October it would expand the contract ceiling to $2 billion and the solicitation period to December. As of October 16, 2003, KBR had performed nearly $1.6 billion worth of work. In the meantime, KBR has subcontracted with two companies to work on the project: Boots & Coots, an oil field emergency response firm that Halliburton works in partnership with (CEO Jerry L. Winchester was a former Halliburton manager) and Wild Well Control. Both firms are based in Texas.[47]
Professional negligence Edit KBR's maintenance work in Iraq has been criticized after reports of soldiers electrocuted from faulty wiring.[48] Specifically, KBR has been charged by the Army for improper installation of electrical units in bathrooms throughout U.S. bases. CNN reported that an Army Special Forces soldier, Staff Sergeant Ryan Maseth, died by electrocution in his shower stall on January 2, 2008. Army documents showed that KBR inspected the building and found serious electrical problems a full 11 months before his death. KBR noted "several safety issues concerning the improper grounding of electrical devices". But KBR's contract did not cover "fixing potential hazards;" It covered repairing items only after they broke down.[49] Maseth's family has sued KBR.[50] In January 2009, the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command investigator assigned to the case recommended that Maseth's official cause of death should be changed from "accidental" to "negligent homicide". KBR supervisors were blamed for failing to ensure electrical and plumbing work were performed by qualified employees, and for failure to inspect the work.[51] In late January 2009, the Defense Contract Management Agency handed down a "Level III Corrective Action Request" to KBR. This is disseminated after a contractor is found being in a state of "serious noncompliance", and is one step from suspending or terminating a contract.[51] Currently in 2011, KBR is defending the lawsuit by claiming that Iraqi, not American, law should apply in determining a verdict.[52] Despite these issues, KBR was awarded a $35 million contract for major electrical work in 2009.[53]
Employee safety Edit As of June 9, 2008, 81 American and foreign KBR employees and subcontractors have been killed, and more than 380 have been wounded by hostile action while performing services under the company's government contracts in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait. Family members of injured or killed employees have sued the company in relation to the 2004 Iraq KBR convoy ambush.[54]
Sexual assault and abuse allegations Edit Jamie Leigh Jones testified at a Congressional hearing that she had been gang-raped by as many as seven coworkers in Iraq in 2005 when she was an employee of KBR, and then falsely imprisoned in a shipping container for 24 hours without food or drink.[55][56] KBR was a subsidiary of Halliburton at the time. Jones and her lawyers said that 38 women have contacted her reporting similar experiences while working as contractors in Iraq, Kuwait, and other countries. On September 15, 2009, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Jones, in a 2''1 ruling, and found that her alleged injuries were not, in fact, in any way related to her employment and thus, not covered by the contract.[56] On July 8, 2011, a jury in the Southern District of Texas federal court in Houston found against Jones and cleared KBR of any wrongdoing.[57]
Jamie Leigh Jones's case led Senator Al Franken to propose an amendment to the defense appropriations bill, which was passed in October 2009, to allow employees of firms with government contracts access to the courts.[58] Jones's case received an unfavorable verdict and her alleged fabrication caused a subsequent media scandal.[59]
Mary Beth Kineston, an Ohio truck driver, alleged she was sexually harassed and groped by several KBR employees, and was later fired after reporting to the company the threats and harassment endured by female employees.[60]
Jo Frederiksen, another female employee, filed a lawsuit against the company for allegedly being "inappropriately touched, stalked, intimidated and verbally harassed" during her time with the firm in 2003. According to Frederiksen, after she complained to the firm she was moved to an even more hostile location while some of her abusers were promoted. The lawsuit claimed "women are second-rate citizens provided for the pleasure of men" at the firm. Frederiksen also alleged a lack of oversight to "rampant illicit criminal behavior" related to prostitution and human trafficking by other KBR employees.[61]
Human trafficking lawsuit Edit On August 28, 2008, defense contractor KBR, Inc. and a Jordanian subcontractor were accused of human trafficking in a federal lawsuit filed in Los Angeles.[62] The suit alleged that 13 Nepali men were recruited by Daoud & Partners to work in hotels and restaurants in Jordan, but upon arrival all 13 men had their passports seized by the contractor and were sent to Iraq to work on the Al Asad Airbase. Twelve of the employees were abducted when their unprotected convoy was attacked by a group calling itself the Army of Ansar al-Sunna, while en route to the base. Shortly thereafter, a video was released of one of the men being beheaded and the other 11 shot. The remaining employee, Buddi Prasad Gurung, claims to have been held against his will for 15 months, during which time he was forced to work at the base.[63][64] Reuters quoted attorney Matthew Handley as saying, "It doesn't appear that any of them knew they were going to Iraq." KBR made no public comment on the lawsuit, but released a statement which stated in part that it, "in no way condones or tolerates unethical or illegal behavior".[65]
"Burn pits" lawsuits Edit More than 20 federal lawsuits naming KBR and seeking class-action status were filed in late 2008 and 2009 over the practice of operating "burn pits" at U.S. bases in both Iraq and Afghanistan and thus exposing soldiers to smoke containing dioxin, asbestos, and other harmful substances. The pits are said to include "every type of waste imaginable", with items such as "tires, lithium batteries, Styrofoam, paper, wood, rubber, petroleum-oil-lubricating products, metals, hydraulic fluids, munitions boxes, medical waste, biohazard materials (including human corpses), medical supplies (including those used during smallpox inoculations), paints, solvents, asbestos insulation, items containing pesticides, polyvinyl chloride pipes, animal carcasses, dangerous chemicals, and hundreds of thousands of plastic water bottles". A company statement responding to the allegations said that "at the sites where KBR provides burn pit services, the company does so ... in accordance with the relevant provisions" of its contracts as well as "operational guidelines approved by the Army".[66]
Late payment Edit In the UK in April 2019, Kellogg Brown & Root was suspended from the UK Government's Prompt Payment Code for failing to pay suppliers on time.[67]
See also Edit Top 100 Contractors of the U.S. federal governmentReferences Edit ^ "U.S. SEC Form 10-K: KBR, Inc". United States Securities and Exchange Commission. February 23, 2018 . Retrieved September 9, 2018 . ^ a b Eriksen, Helen. "Will KBR ditch its Houston headquarters for Katy suburbia?" Houston Chronicle. April 30, 2008. Retrieved on January 13, 2009. ^ Multhaup, Robert H.; Eschenbrenner, Gunther P. (1996). Technology's Harvest: Feeding a Growing World Population Hardcover. Gulf Publishing. ISBN 978-0884158677. ^ "Dresser to Buy M. W. Kellogg". The New York Times. Reuters. November 28, 1987. ^ "Halliburton, Dresser merge" CNN Money, February 26, 1998 ^ a b c "Brown & Root helped pave way for Houston's growth". Houston Chronicle . Retrieved January 26, 2018 . ^ Noonan, John Thomas (1987). Bribes. University of California Press. pp. 561''562. ISBN 978-0520061545. ^ a b Miller, T.C. (2007). Blood Money: Wasted Billions, Lost Lives, and Corporate Greed in Iraq. Little, Brown. p. 72. ISBN 978-0-316-03081-6 . Retrieved May 11, 2017 . ^ a b c Carafano, J.J. (2008). Private Sector, Public Wars: Contractors in Combat-- Afghanistan, Iraq, and Future Conflicts. Changing face of war. Praeger Security International. p. 27. ISBN 978-0-275-99478-5 . Retrieved May 11, 2017 . ^ a b Appy, C.G. (2016). American Reckoning: The Vietnam War and Our National Identity. Penguin Publishing Group. p. 111. ISBN 978-0-14-312834-2 . Retrieved May 11, 2017 . ^ Axelrod, A. (2013). Mercenaries: A Guide to Private Armies and Private Military Companies. SAGE Publications. p. 457. ISBN 978-1-4833-6466-7 . Retrieved May 11, 2017 . ^ "Halliburton Deal". The New York Times. Reuters. June 17, 1989. ^ a b Yeoman, Barry (May''June 2003). "Soldiers of Good Fortune". Mother Jones . Retrieved May 8, 2007 . ^ "Audit Faults KBR's Repairs of Hurricane Damage". The Washington Post. June 18, 2008 . Retrieved July 10, 2015 . ^ Clanton, Brett. "KBR is officially out on its own". Houston Chronicle, April 5, 2007. ^ Kennett, Jim. "Halliburton's KBR Jumps 22% in First Day of Trading". Bloomberg. November 16, 2006. Retrieved on January 13, 2009. ^ Cooper, Lauren B. (May 7, 2008). "Houston company to buy Birmingham's BE&K". Birmingham Business Journal . Retrieved May 7, 2008 . ^ "KBR, Inc. (KBR) Secures Astronaut Medical Services Contract from European Space Agency". StreetInsider.com . Retrieved November 7, 2017 . ^ Dawson, Jennifer. "KBR plans HQ campus". Houston Business Journal. Friday April 4, 2008. Retrieved on January 13, 2009. ^ Sarnoff, Nancy. "KBR says it's moving to Energy Corridor / Getting close to customers among reasons to leave downtown". Houston Chronicle. May 3, 2008. Business 1. Retrieved on January 13, 2009. ^ "KBR Announces Plan for West Houston Campus Location" Archived January 2, 2010, at the Wayback Machine. KBR. May 2, 2008. ^ Sarnoff, Nancy. "Economic crunch undercuts real estate projects". Houston Chronicle. January 3, 2009. Retrieved on January 21, 2009. ^ "KBR Announces Plans to Expand Downtown Houston Headquarters" (Press release). KBR. January 27, 2010. ^ "KBR to acquire NASA contractor SGT". Space News. February 26, 2018 . Retrieved January 12, 2019 . ^ "KBR receives award for its integral role on Sadara Chemical Project". Arab News. July 10, 2015 . Retrieved January 12, 2019 . ^ "Human Health and Performance". UTMB . Retrieved January 12, 2019 . ^ "Controlling Contract Costs in the Balkans". Army Logistician. November 2005 . Retrieved July 10, 2015 . ^ "LOGCAP 4: Billions of Dollars Awarded for Army Logistics Support". Defense Industry Daily. August 3, 2011 . Retrieved July 10, 2015 . ^ "Gitmo Photos". U.S. Department of Defense. April 5, 2006. ^ "Private contractors outnumber U.S. troops in Iraq" Los Angeles Times July 4, 2007. ^ Engel, R. (2012). War Journal: My Five Years in Iraq. Simon & Schuster. p. 106. ISBN 978-1-4165-6326-6 . Retrieved May 11, 2017 . ^ "Defense contractor ordered to pay millions to National Guard soldiers". CNN. November 3, 2012 . Retrieved November 3, 2012 . ^ Lawrence, Quill (January 16, 2019). "Veterans Claiming Illness From Burn Pits Lose Court Fight". NPR . Retrieved January 16, 2019 . ^ "South Australian Register of Lobbyists '' MCM Strategic Communications" (PDF) . May 27, 2016. Archived from the original (PDF) on April 13, 2018 . Retrieved May 11, 2018 . ^ Defenselink News "Contracts Awarded", February 19, 1999. ^ Bailey Grasso, Valerie (March 18, 2005). "Iraq: Frequently Asked Questions About Contracting" (PDF) . Archived from the original (PDF) on December 27, 2005 . Retrieved November 10, 2017 . ^ USACE "USACE Information sheet on RIO" Archived August 28, 2006, at the Wayback Machine. ^ "Statement by Alfred V. Neffgen, Chief Operating Officer, KBR Government Operations, Americas Region, before the Committee on Government Reform, United States House of Representatives" (PDF) . July 22, 2004. Archived from the original (PDF) on July 10, 2007. ^ James Risen (June 17, 2008). "Army Overseer Tells of Ouster Over KBR Stir". The New York Times. p. A1. ^ KBR to Get No-Bid Army Work as U.S. Alleges Kickbacks, Business Week, May 6, 2010 ^ Farah Stockman, "Top Iraq contractor skirts U.S. taxes offshore: Shell companies in Cayman Islands allow KBR to avoid Medicare, Social Security deductions", The Boston Globe, 2008-03-06. ^ KBR charged with bribing Nigerian officials for contracts. CNN, 2009-02-07. ^ "Kellogg Brown & Root LLC Pleads Guilty to Foreign Bribery Charges and Agrees to Pay $402 Million Criminal Fine" (Press release). Department of Justice. February 11, 2009. ^ September 3, 2008 Albert Jackson Stanley Plea Agreement, USDC, Southern District of Texas, Houston Division. ^ SEC Charges Former CEO of Kellogg, Brown & Root, Inc. with Foreign Bribery, 2008-09-03. ^ "Industry Experts Call Halliburton Gasoline Prices "Highway Robbery " ". Committee on Oversight and Government Reform :: United States House of Representatives. October 15, 2003. Archived from the original on December 27, 2006. ^ "KBR Implements Plan for Extinguishing Oil Well Fires in Iraq" (Press release). Halliburton. March 24, 2003. Archived from the original on April 5, 2008. ^ Risen, James (May 4, 2008). "Despite Alert, Flawed Wiring Still Kills G.I.'s". The New York Times . Retrieved May 7, 2008 . ^ "Green Beret electrocuted in shower on Iraq base '' CNN.com". CNN. May 28, 2008 . Retrieved May 7, 2010 . ^ "Iraq electrocutions show U.S. failed to provide for troops". Standard-Speaker. Hazleton, Pennsylvania. August 7, 2008. Archived from the original on April 16, 2009. ^ a b Scott Bronstein; Abbie Boudreau (January 22, 2009). "Investigator: Soldier's electrocution 'negligent homicide ' ". CNN. ^ "KBR Tries to Convince Judge to Use Iraqi Law in Shower Death of Green Beret". AllGov. February 9, 2011. ^ Hefling, Kimberly. "KBR Wins Contract Despite Criminal Probe of Deaths". Associated Press via ABC News, 2009-02-07. ^ "KBR Iraq cases involve casualties among contractors" Archived November 25, 2009, at the Wayback Machine Houston Chronicle, January 31, 2009. ^ James Risen (February 13, 2008). "Limbo for U.S. Women Reporting Iraq Assaults". The New York Times. p. A1. ^ a b Amanda Terkel (September 16, 2009). "Court rules that KBR employee's gang rape wasn't a personal injury 'arising in the workplace ' ". ThinkProgress. ^ Richard Dunham (July 9, 2011). "Jamie Leigh Jones loses rape case against former Halliburton subsidiary KBR". Chron.com. ^ Chris McGreal (October 15, 2009). "Rape case to force US defence firms into the open". The Guardian. ^ Stephanie Mencimer (November 2013). "The War of Rape". Washington Monthly. ^ Risen, James (February 13, 2008). "Limbo for U.S. Women Reporting Iraq Assaults". The New York Times. ^ Chris Vogel (July 14, 2009). "Come For The Nation-Building, Stay For The Brothels". HoustonPress. ^ "Nepalese man sues KBR on human trafficking charges". AFP. August 27, 2008. Archived from the original on August 31, 2008. ^ "Families of 12 Slain in Iraq File Lawsuit". The New York Times. Reuters. August 28, 2008. ^ Simpson, Cam (2018). The Girl from Kathmandu, Twelve Dead Men and a Woman's Quest for Justice. Harper Collins Publishers. ISBN 978-0062449719. ^ "Nepalese Sue U.S. Company over Iraq". BBC. August 28, 2008. ^ Wood, E. Thomas (November 8, 2009). "Soldiers claim war zone contractors exposed them to toxins". NashvillePost.com. ^ Morby, Aaron (April 29, 2019). "Industry giants shamed over late payment". Construction Enquirer . Retrieved April 29, 2019 . External links Edit Official website CalPERS urged to divest from KBRKellogg Brown & Root (Archive)Brown & Root (Archive)Ms. Sparky.com (a website that has info about the various KBR controversies and lawsuits against it.)Business data for KBR, Inc.:
Trump's soft touch with China's Xi over coronavirus worries advisers - The Washington Post
Sun, 16 Feb 2020 16:06
''I had a long talk with President Xi '-- for the people in this room '-- two nights ago, and he feels very confident. He feels very confident. And he feels that, again, as I mentioned, by April or during the month of April, the heat, generally speaking, kills this kind of virus,'' Trump told the nation's governors last week. ''So that would be a good thing. But we're in great shape in our country.''
But U.S. and international health experts have for weeks expressed concerns that China has not been fully transparent about the breadth of the outbreak and that it cracked down on doctors who tried to sound the alarm in December. Officials still do not have the information they have repeatedly asked for from China, which some officials have argued warrants a tougher line from the United States.
Trump has repeatedly told advisers pushing for a harder line against China could backfire because Xi controls the government ''totally'' and will not work with the United States if they say anything negative about the country, said one of these senior administration officials, who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the private talks.
The biggest questions about the new coronavirus and what we know so far
So far, the United States has only 15 confirmed cases, though officials have warned they expect to see more. On Sunday, Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told The Washington Post that forty four Americans who were traveling on the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan have been infected.
Trump has remained uncharacteristically restrained in his public comments about the epidemic, which has infected more than 69,000 people, the vast majority of whom are in China. Trump's praise toward Xi has irked some advisers, who believe the compliments are unwarranted as the U.S. is still working to get a team of experts access to data and Chinese sites to study the virus, aid in the response and secure all the needed information.
The U.S. has been working closely with the World Health Organization and engaged in other diplomatic efforts to get its experts into China. Several U.S. experts are now in Beijing, three senior administration officials said, but officials are still working to ensure those experts get access to the data and sites they need. And the CDC still does not have the information it wants, administration officials said.
Although the United States has so far effectively contained the virus, some senior administration officials said there have been tensions within the administration over what information the president should receive, his posture toward China and what message to send to the American public. And several officials said there has been too much focus on evacuating Americans overseas '-- and too little on what to do if the epidemic spreads within the United States, given the continued growth of the virus.
Trump named a coronavirus task force last month that is led by Health and Human Services secretary Alex Azar and composed of top officials from the CDC, National Institutes of Health, the State Department, Department of Homeland Security and the White House. It came after a Jan. 27 meeting in Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney's office, where some officials argued that the administration was not taking the threat seriously enough.
For weeks, the administration's message was that the threat to the American public remained low and the virus was not spreading within communities '-- but warned that could change. Some advisers recently pushed for a more balanced message because they now expect there to be wider spread in the community as more cases have been reported in countries outside China, according to three officials, and the administration has since adjusted its message to reflect that.
When it became clear late last month that the epidemic was far more serious and widespread than previously known, several major international and U.S. air carriers suspended flights to China for weeks. China has also halted work at several factories across the country as it works to contain the virus, impacting some international companies' ability to conduct business, including Hyundai.
The United States subsequently escalated its response, barring most non-U. S. citizens who recently visited China from visiting the United States and mandating federal quarantines for any Americans who had visited China's Hubei province, the epicenter of the outbreak, within the last 14 days.
The market fell as the outbreak grew. On Jan. 31, the same day several airlines suspended flights and the U.S. announced its escalated response, the Dow Jones industrial average dropped 600 points, or 2 percent. Trump grew concerned that any stronger action by his administration would hurt the economy, and has told advisers he does not want the administration to do or say anything that would further spook the markets.
He remains worried that any large-scale outbreak could hurt his reelection bid. Four senior administration officials, including Fauci, a member of the task force, insisted that U.S. actions have been driven entirely by public health considerations and a desire to contain the outbreak.
''President Trump's top priority is the health and welfare of the American people,'' White House spokesman Judd Deere said in a statement. ''The president has received regular updates, including from experts within the federal government on infectious diseases.''
He added: ''Secretary Azar is leading this whole-of-government approach in close coordination with the National Security Council, and is working around the clock to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus.''
As demand spikes for medical equipment, this Texas manufacturer is caught in coronavirus's supply chain panic
HHS officials have told Trump that the number of infections could go down in the spring when it gets warmer because most coronaviruses and upper respiratory infections '-- including the flu '-- level off as the weather warms.
The coronavirus spreading through China and in about two dozen other countries, however, has never been seen before and little is known about how it behaves or whether it will eventually mutate. The idea that it will taper off in the spring is ''mainly an educated guess,'' according to one senior White House official. In Singapore, for instance, it is above 80 degrees and humid but there are still more than 50 cases of the virus. CDC officials are now warning the president and others in the administration that cases could grow, administration officials said.
''In fairness to the president, someone told him something that has a basis in reality. '... There is some validity in saying respiratory viruses like flu and coronavirus are seasonal,'' Fauci said. ''The only thing is when you're dealing with a pandemic-type virus that is brand new, there's no way of knowing what's going to happen when the weather gets warm.''
Some of Trump's own advisers have contradicted his friendly posture toward China in public. Larry Kudlow, the National Economic Council director, said this week the U.S. was ''disappointed'' in China's response and called on Beijing to be more transparent. Other officials, including Joseph Grogan, the head of the domestic policy council, has told others that China cannot be trusted at all. Peter Navarro, one of the president's top trade advisers, has repeatedly pushed for a stronger tone.
Trump's public statements about the virus and China's handling of it are a stark contrast to his response as a private citizen during the 2014 Ebola outbreak, in which he panned the Obama administration's response and called for the United States to shut its borders and not allow doctors who had been treating patients in Africa to come back to the United States for treatment.
Some officials have complained that Trump's comments about the virus emanate from his briefings with Azar, who they say has been overly controlling in the response and has told other doctors not to get too far into the details of the virus and the outbreak with Trump. Azar is disliked by many in the White House, four administration officials say.
Fauci, however, said Azar has brought medical professionals with him to nearly every briefing and insisted they be part of Oval Office meetings.
Azar ''always defers to the scientists. That's the reason why whenever we're in the Situation room and the president would like some briefing, Alex always takes me and (CDC director) Bob Redfield in with him,'' Fauci said. ''He always wants us to give the straight scientific information to the president.''
Azar has also wanted to be the one to announce major updates about the administration's response to the virus, several officials said. On Thursday, he briefed the Senate Finance Committee that the CDC would use public health labs in five cities that normally test for influenza to also test for coronavirus, taking state health officials by surprise. One senior administration official said it was part of an effort to execute ''radical transparency'' with Congress and the public, noting that officials are doing their best to communicate clearly and effectively in a fast-moving situation.
It was not the first time state officials have been caught off guard by the administration's actions. After the administration announced late last month it would quarantine travelers who had been in the hard-hit Hubei province within the last 14 days, federal and state officials were struggling with how to carry out the travel restrictions and where to quarantine passengers because they said the order came with no advance notice and little planning.
Two administration officials said the Trump administration was also struggling with the logistics, including last-minute planning for when planes landed with patients and potential patients. ''Doing the best we can,'' one official involved in the response said.
Some officials said the response has become smoother and better coordinated in recent weeks, with daily task-force calls.
''Our public health system's the best in the world, and it's working,'' Azar said Friday. ''That system is what identified the 15 cases that we have.''
Russia's Proposed New Pipeline Threatens U.S. National Security Interests - Lawfare
Sun, 16 Feb 2020 15:11
Since 2014, Russia and Ukraine have been locked in a conflict in Donbas that has killed thousands. Despite the fighting, the two countries have been able to maintain an economic relationship centered around one industry: energy. A new Russian energy project threatens to undermine that relationship and impact U.S. energy interests in Europe.
The new project, Nord Stream 2, will enable Russia to provide natural gas to Germany directly instead of going through Ukraine. This has stark consequences for Ukraine: What little leverage Ukraine holds over Russia comes largely from the fact that Russia has to export most of its natural gas through Ukraine in order to reach Europe. If Russia can bypass Ukraine, the pipeline would make that leverage obsolete.
But this project impacts not only Ukraine but also the United States. Some observers in the U.S. see the pipeline as a way for Russia to subtly spread its influence in Europe by deepening European dependence on Russia for natural gas. Analysts fear this will make it more difficult for the U.S. to recruit European support in holding Russia accountable for its transgressions. In response, the U.S. has enacted sanctions to try to slow down the Nord Stream 2. Despite the sanctions, Russia is nonetheless aiming to continue the pipeline project.
Russia-Ukraine Energy Relationship
European, Russian and Ukrainian natural gas interests are deeply interconnected. About half of Russia's European natural gas exports pass through Ukraine, and 30 percent of the natural gas in Europe comes from Russia. On Russia's end, 90 percent of its natural gas exports go to Europe. At the same time, Ukraine is largely dependent on Russia for its natural gas'--60 percent of which comes from Russia.
As Ukraine was struggling to achieve financial independence in the 1990s, Russia supplied it with large amounts of natural gas. The gesture was not merely altruistic: The relationship benefited Russia because it needed a natural gas pipeline to go through Ukraine to access Europe. This relationship remained largely stable until 2006 when Russia and Ukraine had a dispute over the price of natural gas, which led Russia to reduce its flow of gas through Ukraine. However, the two countries ultimately reached a resolution just after the spat began.
In 2009, Russia and Ukraine again began having conflicts over gas prices. As a result, Russia shut off its gas flow to Ukraine, and this time the conflict lasted for three weeks. Though Russia and Ukraine resolved the dispute, it prompted both nations to look for ways to lessen their dependence on each other. Russia established gas deals with Germany in 2006 and Turkey in 2007. These deals allowed gas to go to Europe without going through Ukraine. The construction of the pipeline with Germany was completed in 2011, and the pipeline with Turkey was finished in January of this year. Over the next decade, Ukraine began getting more natural gas from Hungary, Poland and Slovakia.
Throughout 2019, Russia and Ukraine had been trying to renegotiate their energy contract but were unable to reach an agreement. Russia wanted to extend the relationship for only one year, but Ukraine wanted to extend the deal for as much as 10 years. Ultimately, Russia and Ukraine agreed in December 2019 on a five-year extension to their natural gas deal.
Nord Stream 2
The past tension between Russia and Ukraine led Russia to develop a natural gas relationship with Germany, which formally began in 2005 when the two countries signed an agreement to create two pipelines that went through the Baltic Sea. This arrangement cut out Ukraine completely. The project was initially known as the Northern European Gas Pipeline but later became known as Nord Stream AG. The two pipelines were finished in 2011 and 2012.
By 2015, Nord Stream AG had proved successful and was providing Germany with 10 billion tons of natural gas, which was also exported to the rest of Europe. As a result, Germany and Russia signed an agreement in June 2015 to construct two additional pipelines that would provide 55 billion tons of natural gas to Germany by the end of 2019. The project became known as Nord Stream 2. The Nord Stream 2 pipelines would supply more than one-tenth of Europe's natural gas demand and would be 760 miles long, with the two pipelines running parallel to each other. The project would begin at the Russian port of Ust-Luga near St. Petersburg and then go through the Baltic Sea' '--through waters near Finland, Sweden and Denmark' '--and end in Greifswald, Germany.
By 2017, many EU members, such as Sweden and Lithuania, were concerned that Russia might use Nord Stream 2 to exert influence over Europe by increasing European reliance on Russia for natural gas. Nord Stream 2 skeptics also feared it could take away Ukraine's economic leverage that the country had used to push back against past instances of Russian aggression. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who had in the past advocated for EU sanctions against Russia over its transgressions, pushed back on these concerns and rejected the need for universal support from the EU for Nord Stream 2, arguing that Nord Stream 2 ''is an economic project and I don't think we need an extra mandate for it.''
In 2017, Poland and about a dozen other countries tried to get the European Commission to block Nord Stream 2. Despite the countries' protestations, the European Commission said it had no legal basis to block Nord Stream 2 because the pipeline is offshore and thus not under EU jurisdiction. Interestingly, the European Commission did not issue a formal declaration on the matter but instead merely sent a statement directly to the Danish government because the proposed route would go through Denmark's continental shelf, which is an area under Danish sovereignty 350 nautical miles off the country's coast. If the pi