991: Milkshake Duck

Adam Curry & John C. Dvorak

2h 55m
December 17th, 2017
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Executive Producers: Sir Fing, Nils Bonacker, D.Vo, Grand Duke Sir Dwayne Melancon, Sir Sean, Earl of Federal Reserve District 7, Paul Patrick Wicking, Michael Harrington

Associate Executive Producers: Archduke Nussbaum, Karen Samuel, Sir Zog of Elwood, Dame Nurse Kaytlyn of The Flat Earth, Sir Foxbat the Crypto Knight, Sir Patrick Knight of the So Cal Hills, Oleg Naikine

Cover Artist: Nick the Rat


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Human Foot Washed Ashore In Canada Is 13th Found Since 2007 | HuffPost
Sun, 17 Dec 2017 13:45
CRIME 12/15/2017 06:33 pm ET
The human foot with part of a leg still attached that washed ashore in British Columbia last week is reportedly the 13th disembodied foot to wash up on the province's coastline in the last decade.
Mike Johns, 56, was walking his dog along the Jordan River beach, roughly 70 miles southwest of Vancouver, when he made the grisly discovery.
''It's just a freak thing that it happened to be here,'' he told The New York Times.
The coroner's office is examining the remains, the Vancouver Sun reports.
''Our early analysis suggests these are human remains and we will do further investigation and testing to help to determine identification in the coming weeks,'' said spokesman Andy Watson.
Of the other 12 feet that have been found along the B.C. coast since 2007, 10 have been identified as belonging to people who died by accident or suicide. Another belonged to a missing man whose boat capsized more than two decades ago, according to the Vancouver Sun.
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Human Foot Washed Ashore In Canada Is 13th Found Since 2007
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Sat, 16 Dec 2017 03:18
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FLOODGATES OPEN: Congress 'To Be Rocked' In Next 72 Hours; Over A Dozen Resignations Coming, Says Reporter | Daily Wire
Sat, 16 Dec 2017 07:29
An investigative reporter with The Daily Caller News Foundation (DCNF) announced on Friday that Congress' human resources scandal is about to break wide-open and predicted that over a dozen members of the House of Representatives will resign.
DCNF reporter Luke Rosiak tweeted on Friday: ''Congress' human resources scandal is just getting started. I anticipate we will see the resignation of more than a dozen House members over harassment and secret settlements, and soon.''
Rosiak followed that tweet with another, writing: ''Mark my words, the House is going to be rocked in the coming 72 hours. Tick Tock.''
Last week Rosiak broke the story that Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY) had made a settlement with a former congressional aide that he fired after she reported being sexually assaulted at the business of a major campaign donor.
The first congressmen to go down in the post-Weinstein era of sexual misconduct was Michigan Democrat Rep. John Conyers, who eventually resigned after accusations against him snowballed.
Other notable politicians on Capitol Hill caught up in sexual misconduct cases:
Democrat Rep. Alcee L. Hastings (FL) '-- The Treasury paid $220,000 to settle allegations against him made by a former congressional staffer that claimed he ''touched her, made unwanted sexual advances, and threatened her job.''Republican Rep. Blake Farenthold (TX) '-- The congressmen announced on Thursday that he was "retiring" after former staffers accused him of making "sexually graphic jokes" and berating his aides. He previously settled a sexual harassment claim made by an employee in 2014.Democrat Rep. Ruben Kihuen (NV) '-- Multiple women have accused the Pelosi-backed congressman of sexual harassment.Democrat Sen. Al Franken (MN) '-- Franken announced that he would resign last week after multiple women accused him of sexual assault. Franken has still not resigned despite his promise to do so.Republican Rep. Trent Franks (AZ) '-- Resigned after he reportedly made women uncomfortable by asking them to be a surrogate mother.
Exclusive: Prominent lawyer sought donor cash for two Trump accusers | TheHill
Sat, 16 Dec 2017 07:48
A well-known women's rights lawyer sought to arrange compensation from donors and tabloid media outlets for women who made or considered making sexual misconduct allegations against Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpHouse Democrat slams Donald Trump Jr. for 'serious case of amnesia' after testimonySkier Lindsey Vonn: I don't want to represent Trump at OlympicsPoll: 4 in 10 Republicans think senior Trump advisers had improper dealings with RussiaMORE during the final months of the 2016 presidential race, according to documents and interviews.
California lawyer Lisa Bloom's efforts included offering to sell alleged victims' stories to TV outlets in return for a commission for herself, arranging a donor to pay off one Trump accuser's mortgage and attempting to secure a six-figure payment for another woman who ultimately declined to come forward after being offered as much as $750,000, the clients told The Hill.
The women's accounts were chronicled in contemporaneous contractual documents, emails and text messages reviewed by The Hill, including an exchange of texts between one woman and Bloom that suggested political action committees supporting Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonGrassley blasts Democrats over unwillingness to probe ClintonGOP lawmakers cite new allegations of political bias in FBITop intel Dem: Trump Jr. refused to answer questions about Trump Tower discussions with fatherMORE were contacted during the effort.
Bloom, who has assisted dozens of women in prominent harassment cases and also defended film executive Harvey Weinstein earlier this year, represented four women considering making accusations against Trump last year. Two went public, and two declined.In a statement to The Hill, Bloom acknowledged she engaged in discussions to secure donations for women who made or considered making accusations against Trump before last year's election.
''Donors reached out to my firm directly to help some of the women I represented,'' said Bloom, whose clients have also included accusers of Bill Cosby and Bill O'Reilly.
Bloom said her goal in securing money was not to pressure the women to come forward, but rather to help them relocate or arrange security if they felt unsafe during the waning days of a vitriolic election. She declined to identify any of the donors.
And while she noted she represented sexual harassment victims for free or at reduced rates, she also acknowledged a standard part of her contracts required women to pay her commissions as high as 33 percent if she sold their stories to media outlets.
''Our standard pro bono agreement for legal services provides that if a media entity offers to compensate a client for sharing his or her story we receive a percentage of those fees. This rarely happens. But, on occasion, a case generates media interest and sometimes (not always) a client may receive an appearance fee,'' she said.
''As a private law firm we have significant payroll, rent, taxes, insurance and other expenses every week, so an arrangement where we might receive some compensation to defray our costs seems reasonable to us and is agreed to by our clients,'' Bloom added.
Bloom told The Hill she had no contact with Clinton or her campaign, but declined to address any contacts with super PACs that supported the Democratic presidential nominee.
Josh Schwerin, the communications director for Priorities USA Action, the largest pro-Clinton super PAC, told The Hill that the group had no relationship with Bloom and had no discussions with her about supporting Trump accusers.
One Bloom client who received financial help from Bloom was New York City makeup artist Jill Harth.
The former beauty contestant manager filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Trump in 1997 and then withdrew it under pressure. The news media discovered the litigation during the election, and Harth's name became public in the summer of 2016. She asked Bloom to represent her in the fall after hearing Trump describe her allegations against him as false, and became a vocal critic of Trump.
''I consider myself lucky to have had Lisa Bloom by my side after my old lawsuit resurfaced. She advised me with great competence and compassion,'' Harth told The Hill.
Harth said she did not originally ask Bloom for money, even though her cosmetics business suffered from the notoriety of the campaign stories about her.
But later, Bloom arranged a small payment from the licensing of some photos to the news media, and then set up a GoFundMe.com account to raise money for Harth in October 2016. ''Jill put herself out there, facing off with Donald Trump. Let's show her some love,'' the online fundraising appeal set up by Bloom's husband declared.
The effort raised a little over $2,300.
Bloom then arranged for a donor to make a larger contribution to help Harth pay off the mortgage on her Queens apartment in New York City. The amount was under $30,000, according to a source directly familiar with Harth's situation. Public records show Harth's mortgage was recorded as extinguished on Dec. 19, 2016.
Harth said the payments did not affect the merits of her allegations. She alleges that during a January 1993 meeting at Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate, the future president pushed her up against a wall and groped her, trying to get his hands up her dress.
''Nothing that you've said to me about my mortgage or the Go Fund Me that was created to help me out financially affects the facts or the veracity of my 1997 federal complaint against Donald J. Trump for sexual harassment and assault,'' she told The Hill.
''Having to retell my experiences of Donald Trump's harassment is the hardest thing I've ever had to do.''
Trump has steadfastly denied assaulting or harassing women, even after a videotape surfaced in September 2016 in which he can be heard boasting that famous men like him can grab women by the genitalia without consequence. Trump has dismissed the tape as "locker room talk."
Harth is currently writing a memoir about her whole experience, but without Bloom's help.
Bloom acknowledged arranging financial help for Harth, who she said had lost income because of the publicity surrounding her allegations.
''She endured a tidal wave of hate for it. It was very painful for her. And as a New York City makeup artist, Jill lost jobs after she came out publicly against Donald Trump. I believed that people wanted to donate to help her, so we set up the GoFundMe account,'' she told The Hill.
The Hill does not identify the names of victims of sexual assault or harassment unless they go public on their own, like Harth.
But one woman who did not go public with allegations agreed to share her documents and talk to The Hill about her interactions with Bloom if The Hill honored its commitment to maintain her anonymity.
Both that woman and Harth, who were friends, stressed that Bloom never asked them to make any statements or allegations except what they believed to be true.
Their texts and emails indicate Bloom held a strong dislike of Trump though. Bloom is the daughter of Gloria Allred, another prominent attorney who is representing a number of women who have made accusations of sexual misconduct against Trump.
In an email to the unnamed woman, Bloom said that her story was ''further evidence of what a sick predator this man is,'' referring to Trump.
Documents also show Bloom's efforts to get alleged victims of sexual assault or harassment to come out against Trump intensified as Election Day 2016 approached.
When Harth, for instance, informed Bloom she had just made a Facebook post urging other women to come forward about Trump in October 2016, the lawyer texted back: ''Wow Jill that would be amazing. 27 days until the election.''
And when a potential client abruptly backed out of a pre-election news conference in which she was supposed to allege she was sexually assaulted at age 13, Bloom turned her attention to another woman.
That woman, Harth's friend, went back and forth for weeks with Bloom in 2016 about going public with an allegation of an unsolicited advance by Trump on the 1991s beauty contest circuit.
''Give us a clear sense of what you need and we will see if it we can get it,'' Bloom texted the woman a week before Election Day.
''I'm scared Lisa. I can't relocate. I don't like taking other people's money,'' the woman wrote to Bloom.
''Ok let's not do this then,'' Bloom responded. ''We are just about out of time anyway.''
The woman then texted back demanding to know why there was a deadline. ''What does time have to do with this? Time to bury Trump??? You want my story to bury trump for what? Personal gain? See that 's why I have trust issues!!''
The woman told The Hill in an interview that Bloom initially approached her in early October through Harth. She said she considered coming forward with her account of an unsolicited advance by Trump solely to support her friend Harth, and not because she had any consternation with Trump, who ended the advance when she asked him to stop, she said.
The woman said Bloom initially offered a $10,000 donation to the woman's favorite church, an account backed up by text messages the two exchanged.
''Please keep the donation offer confidential except to your pastor,'' Bloom wrote the woman on Oct. 14, 2016.
When Bloom found out the woman was still a supporter of Trump and associated with lawyers, friends and associates of the future president, she texted a request that jarred the woman.
''When you have a chance I suggest you delete the August 2015 Facebook post about supporting Trump,'' Bloom texted. ''Otherwise the reporter will ask you how you could support him after what he did to you. Your call but it will make your life easier.''
The woman declined. ''I hate to say it, but i still rather have trump in office than hillary,'' the woman texted back. Bloom answered, ''Ok I respect that. Then don't change anything.''
Eventually the two decided the woman's continued support of Trump was a benefit to her narrative if she went public with her accusations, the messages show. ''I love your point about being a Trump supporter too,'' Bloom texted on Oct. 14, 2016.
The text messages show the woman made escalating requests for more money.
By early November, the woman said, Bloom's offers of money from donors had grown to $50,000 to be paid personally to her, and then even higher.
''Another donor has reached out to me offering relocation/security for any woman coming forward. I'm trying to reach him,'' Bloom texted the woman on Nov. 3, 2016. Later she added, ''Call me I have good news.''
The woman responded that she wasn't impressed with the new offer of $100,000 given that she had a young daughter. ''Hey after thinking about all this, I need more than $100,000.00. College money would be nice'' for her daughter. ''Plus relocation fees, as we discussed.''
The figured jumped to $200,000 in a series of phone calls with Bloom that week, according to the woman. The support was promised to be tax-free and also included changing her identity and relocating, according to documents and interviews.
Bloom told The Hill that the woman asked for money as high as $2 million in the conversations, an amount that was a nonstarter, but the lawyer confirmed she tried to arrange donations to the woman in the low six figures.
''She asked to be compensated, citing concerns for her safety and security and over time, increased her request for financial compensation to $2 million, which we told her was a non-starter,'' Bloom told The Hill. ''We did relay her security concerns to donors, but none were willing to offer more than a number in the low six figures, which they felt was more appropriate to address her security and relocation expenses.''
The woman said that when she initially talked to Bloom she simply wanted to support Harth and had no interest in being portrayed as an accuser or receiving money. But when Bloom's mention of potential compensation became more frequent, the woman said she tried to draw out the lawyer to see how high the offer might reach and who might be behind the money.
Just a few days before the election, the woman indicated she was ready to go public with her story, then landed in the hospital and fell out of contact with Bloom.
The lawyer repeatedly texted one of the woman's friends on Nov. 4, 2016, but the friend declined to put the woman on the phone, instead sending a picture of the client in a hospital bed.
Bloom persisted, writing in a series of texts to the friend that she needed to talk to her hospitalized client because it could have ''a significant impact on her life'' and a ''big impact on her daughter'' if she did not proceed with her public statement as she had planned.
''She is in no condition for visitors,'' the friend texted Bloom back.
''If you care about her you need to leave her be until she is feeling better,'' the friend added in another text.
Bloom hopped on a plane from California to come see the woman on the East Coast, according to the text messages and interviews.
The next day, the woman finally reconnected with Bloom and informed her she would not move forward with making her allegations public. Bloom reacted in a string of text messages after getting the news.
''I am confused because you sent me so many nice texts Wednesday night after my other client wasted so much of my time and canceled the press conference,'' Bloom texted on Nov. 5, 2016. ''That meant a lot to me. Thursday you said you wanted to do this if you could be protected/relocated. I begged you not to jerk me around after what I had just gone through.''
A little later, she added another text. ''You have treated me very poorly. I have treated you with great respect as much as humanly possible. I have not made a dime off your case and I have devoted a great deal of time. It doesn't matter. I could have done so much for you. But you can't stick to your word even when you swear you will.''
After the woman was released from the hospital, she agreed to meet Bloom at a hotel on Nov. 6 , just two days before Trump unexpectedly defeated Clinton.
The woman told The Hill in an interview that at the hotel encounter, Bloom increased the offer of donations to $750,000 but still she declined to take the money.
The woman texted Bloom that day saying she didn't mean to let her lawyer down.
''You didn't let me down,'' Bloom texted back. ''You came and spoke to me and made the decision that's right for you. That's all I wanted.''
Bloom confirmed to The Hill that she flew to Virginia to meet with the woman after she had changed her mind several times about whether to go public with her accusations against Trump.
''We invited her to meet with us at the hotel restaurant and she accepted. Ultimately, after another heartfelt discussion, she decided that she did not want to come forward, and we respected her decision,'' Bloom told The Hill.
Bloom said the donor money was never intended ''to entice women to come forward against their will.''
''Nothing can be further from the truth. Some clients asked for small photo licensing fees while others wanted more to protect their security,'' she said.
Bloom declined to identify the name of any donors who would have provided money for women making accusations against Trump.
Harth and the woman who decided not to go public said they never were given any names of donors.
But Bloom told the woman who declined to come forward that she had reached out to political action committees supporting Clinton's campaign.
''It's my understanding that there is some Clinton Super Pack [sic] that could help out if we did move forward,'' the woman wrote Bloom on Oct. 11, 2016. ''If we help the Clinton campaign they in turn could help or compensate us?''
Bloom wrote back, ''Let's please do a call. I have already reached out to Clinton Super PACs and they are not paying. I can get you paid for some interviews however.''
The woman who ultimately declined to come forward with Bloom told The Hill that she stayed silent for an entire year afterward because she did not want to call attention to her family.
She said she supported Trump in 2016, and that he she held no resentment about the early 1991s advance because Trump stopped it as soon as she asked him.
She said she remains friends with many people associated with the president to this day, including one of his best personal friends and a lawyer who works for one of the firms representing Trump.
The woman said, however, no one associated with the Trump White House or the president forced her to come forward or made any offers to induce her to talk to The Hill. She said she agreed to do so only after she became disgusted to learn this past October that Bloom had agreed to work in defense of Weinstein.
''I couldn't understand how she could say she was for people like me and then represent someone like him. And then all the money stuff I knew about. I just became frustrated,'' she said.
Bloom dropped her representation of Weinstein as the accusations piled up against him, telling Buzzfeed that it had been a ''colossal mistake.''
Nearly from the beginning, Bloom made clear to the woman she would have to pay her law firm a commission on any fees the attorney arranged from media outlets willing to pay for the woman's story, according to a copy of a contract as well as a text message sent to the woman.
''Outlets with which I have good relationships that may pay for your first on camera interview, revealing your name and face: Inside Edition, Dr. Phil, LawNewz.com,'' Bloom texted the woman just weeks before Election Day. ''My best estimate of what I could get for you would be $10-15,000 (less our 1/3 attorney fee)."
''If you are interested I would recommend Inside Edition or Dr. Phil as they are much bigger. Dr. Phil is doing a show on Trump accusers next Tuesday in LA and would fly you here and put you up in a nice hotel, and pay for your meals as well, with your daughter if you like,'' Bloom's text added. ''Media moves very quickly so you need to decide and then once confirmed, you need to stick to it.''
Representatives of "Inside Edition" and "Dr. Phil" said they did not pay any Trump accusers for appearances last year.
Bloom's firm sent the woman a ''media-related services'' contract to represent her for ''speaking out against Donald Trump'' that laid out business terms for selling a story in the most direct terms.
''You will compensate the Firm thirty-three percent (33%) of the total fee that you collect, whether the media deal or licensing fees is for print, Internet, radio, television, film or any other medium,'' Bloom's proposed contract, dated Oct. 10, 2016, read. The woman said she signed the contract.
When Bloom found out in early November that the woman and the friend had discussions with CBS News about doing an interview on their own, the lawyer texted back: ''CBS does not pay for stories.''
A little later Bloom sent another text suggesting the arrangements she was making could be impacted by the unauthorized media contacts. ''You and your friends should not be shopping the story it will come back to bite you,'' Bloom texted. ''And this whole thing we have worked so hard to make happen will go away.''
New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art explains why it refuses to take down "Th(C)r¨se Dreaming" by Balthus '-- Quartzy
Sun, 17 Dec 2017 12:39
American art lovers have their knickers in a twist with one painting hanging at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art. Th(C)r¨se Dreaming by the Polish-French painter Balthus (Balthasar Klossowski de Rola) depicts 11-year-old Th(C)r¨se Blanchard sitting carelessly, lost in deep thought. The oil painting has been exhibited in various museums around the world'--from London to Tokyo'--without causing a big stir. It was donated to the Met in 1998 and now hangs in its modern and contemporary art gallery.
At a time when the US is besieged by an almost daily update of famous sexual aggressors and the people behind the #MeToo movement were named TIME Person of the Year, Balthus's painting stirred one outraged viewer to petition the country's largest public art institution to remove the painting. ''I was shocked to see a painting that depicts a young girl in a sexually suggestive pose,'' wrote Mia Merrill in her online petition. ''It is disturbing that the Met would proudly display such an image'...The Met is, perhaps unintentionally, supporting voyeurism and the objectification of children.''
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Th(C)r¨se Dreaming (1938), BalthusMerrill, who heads the HR department at a finance start-up, suggested that Th(C)r¨se Dreaming be replaced by a work created by a female artists in the same genre. She later published an update saying that she would settle for an explicit warning written on the wall text.
Despite pressure from social media and 10,500 signatures backing Merill, the Met is keeping Balthus on the wall. In a press statement emailed to Quartz, the Met's chief communications officer Ken Weine defends their curatorial decision:
The Metropolitan Museum of Art's mission is to'...collect, study, conserve, and present significant works of art across all times and cultures in order to connect people to creativity, knowledge, and ideas. Moments such as this provide an opportunity for conversation, and visual art is one of the most significant means we have for reflecting on both the past and the present, and encouraging the continuing evolution of existing culture through informed discussion and respect for creative expression.
Weine's statement is a timely reminder of the museum's purpose in daily life. There's something that's gone awry with how many Americans ''consume'' museums. With more institutions catering to the multi-tasking, social media-savvy generation, going to a museum today has become a drive-by excursion. How often do we catch ourselves spending more time with the wall text than actually looking at the art? It's heartening that Merrill was so bothered by Balthus's painting to take action against it. Presenting difficult and provocative ideas is part of a museum's purpose.
In some eyes, Balthus's canvas is simply a picture of freedom, of that precious age before crippling self-consciousness takes hold of a young woman. ''She is at home in her youth. She has the countenance of someone who knows other things are coming, eventually,'' Jen George writes in the Paris Review last year. ''When asked about the provocative poses of preadolescent girls in his work, Balthus said, ''It is how they (young girls) sit.''
Asking museums to post disclaimers on the wall can drown viewers in information and contextual caveats. Too much information robs us of the opportunity to have strong ideas about a work of art, like Merrill did.
Major media players start commission for sexual misconduct
Sat, 16 Dec 2017 13:45
Bloomberg | Getty Images
Anita Hill
Hollywood executives and other major players in entertainment have established a commission to be chaired by Anita Hill that intends to combat sexual misconduct and inequality across the industry.
A statement Friday announced the founding of the Commission on Sexual Harassment and Advancing Equality in the Workplace.
The group grew out of a meeting called by "Star Wars" producer Kathleen Kennedy and several other prominent women in the industry.
The chief executives of nearly every major Hollywood studio, TV network and record label attended the meeting and agreed to found and fund the group.
Kennedy says the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and entertainers' unions have also signed on.
The group chose as its chair Hill, who brought the concept of sexual harassment to national consciousness in 1991 when she testified during the Supreme Court confirmation hearings of Clarence Thomas.
The Race to Erase Kevin Spacey - NYTimes.com
Sat, 16 Dec 2017 13:49
''This was too damn good to pass up,'' Christopher Plummer, right, said of Ridley Scott asking him to take on a role previously completed by Kevin Spacey in ''All the Money in the World.'' Credit Tom Jamieson for The New York Times LOS ANGELES '-- The sun was setting on Nov. 7, when Christopher Plummer arrived at the Four Seasons Hotel in Manhattan for a secret, hastily arranged meeting.
He had intended to be resting in Connecticut after a whirlwind month. But Ridley Scott had flown in from London with an urgent plea: Would Mr. Plummer help expunge the disgraced Kevin Spacey from Mr. Scott's latest film, one set for theatrical release by Sony in just six weeks?
It would mean refilming 22 scenes in ''All the Money in the World,'' about the 1973 kidnapping of John Paul Getty III and his grandfather's refusal to pay a $17 million ransom. ''I admire you very much, but I still have to read the script,'' Mr. Plummer, 88, recalled telling Mr. Scott, 80, as they met in the Terrace Boardroom on the hotel's 11th floor.
By the next morning, Mr. Plummer had agreed to replace Mr. Spacey as Grandpa Getty.
Mr. Plummer in the role. Being nearer in age to the character, he was able to forgo the kind of facial disguise that Mr. Spacey had donned. Credit Giles Keyte/Sony Kevin Spacey as J. Paul Getty, a transformation that required facial prosthetics and heavy makeup. Credit Sony, via Associated Press ''At my age, which is enormous, you get worried that your memory won't hold up,'' Mr. Plummer said. ''But this was too damn good to pass up.''
And so began a race to pull off something never before attempted in Hollywood: revisiting a finished movie, reassembling major members of the cast, refilming crucial scenes, re-editing many sequences, retooling the marketing campaign '-- and doing it all at the last possible minute. Mr. Scott and others worked 18-hour days as they rushed to finish in nine days what would typically have taken at least a month.
''You can sit there and let something kill you, or you can take action,'' Mr. Scott said in his no-nonsense way. ''I took action.''
Mr. Scott and others worked 18-hour days on the film as they rushed to finish in nine days what would typically have taken at least a month. Credit Tom Jamieson for The New York Times Over the last three months, sexual harassment scandals have impacted nearly every corner of Hollywood. As men like Mr. Spacey, Harvey Weinstein and Louis C.K. have been accused of vile behavior, entertainment companies have mostly responded by shelving or delaying movies and TV shows associated with them. In wake of the allegations against Mr. Spacey '-- he apologized for one incident and has not responded to other claims '-- Netflix halted production on ''House of Cards'' and abandoned ''Gore,'' a completed film starring Mr. Spacey as Gore Vidal.
Release plans were canceled for Louis C.K.'s film ''I Love You, Daddy'' after women told The New York Times that he masturbated in front of them. He later confirmed the accounts and has been trying to buy back the film's rights. Fighting to stay afloat in the aftermath of sexual harassment and rape allegations against Mr. Weinstein, the Weinstein Company was forced to sell distribution rights to ''Paddington 2,'' delay a period film called ''The Current War'' and watch as television networks terminated contracts for planned series. Through a spokeswoman, Mr. Weinstein has repeatedly denied ''any allegations of nonconsensual sex.''
But ''All the Money in the World'' presented unique challenges. A trailer was already on heavy rotation in theaters. Awards prognosticators (nudged along by Sony publicists) had also been touting Mr. Spacey's performance as Oscar worthy.
Sony and Imperative Entertainment, which produced and financed ''All the Money in the World,'' held a series of emergency meetings starting on Oct. 30, a day after Mr. Spacey apologized for making unwanted sexual advances toward the actor Anthony Rapp in 1986, when Mr. Rapp was 14. As more men came forward with similar allegations, outrage poured onto the internet, with some people vowing to organize a boycott of ''All the Money in the World.'' At that point, the movie's scheduled premiere was two weeks away.
Hitting the pause button was the obvious move. But Thomas E. Rothman, Sony's movie chief, said he was adamant that pushing back the release would tarnish the film even more. There was no better release window for a sophisticated drama than the Christmas holiday, the biggest ticket-selling period of the year. And they needed to stay ahead of a mini-series about the kidnapping in the works at FX.
It was decided that ''All the Money in the World,'' which also stars Michelle Williams as the kidnapped boy's desperate mother and Mark Wahlberg as a Getty family fixer, would arrive on Dec. 22 as planned. (Sony eventually settled on Dec. 25.) ''I didn't think there was any solution,'' Mr. Rothman said. ''We would have to muddle through the best we could.''
Michelle Williams and Mark Wahlberg agreed to work through Thanksgiving to refilm scenes with Mr. Plummer. Credit Sony Sony marketers scrambled to shift gears. The studio had been leaning heavily on Mr. Spacey's performance to generate interest for the film. The trailer climaxed with images of him as the elderly Getty, a transformation that required facial prosthetics and heavy makeup. But suddenly the studio's messaging to entertainment journalists switched '-- Mr. Spacey's role was only supporting, the real stars were Ms. Williams and Mr. Wahlberg. Sony also rushed to distribute new posters in theaters, replacing ones that played up Mr. Spacey's character.
A few days later, two of the film's producers, Dan Friedkin and Bradley Thomas, unexpectedly arrived at Mr. Rothman's office. They told him they were determined not to let the wrongdoings of one person damage a film that had been worked on by more than 800 people. And they floated an audacious idea that they had privately discussed with Mr. Scott: What about replacing Mr. Spacey with another actor? Mr. Plummer, perhaps.
''That would theoretically be fantastic,'' Mr. Rothman said he responded. ''But I have supervised 450 movies over the course of my career. And what you are saying is impossible. There is not enough time.''
The producers conceded that reworking the movie was risky. Even if executed perfectly, the plan would cost roughly $10 million, raising the total production budget to more than $50 million '-- a huge amount for a period drama aimed at older adults, especially considering that most of Hollywood has long left that market for dead.
But impossible? Not with the experienced and indefatigable Mr. Scott in the director's chair, Mr. Friedkin maintained. ''Twenty years from now, I want to be able to pull this film off the shelf and be proud of it,'' Mr. Friedkin said.
This is where the story of ''All the Money in the World'' becomes about, as Mr. Rothman colorfully put it, ''two octogenarians kicking absolute ass.''
With Sony's blessing, Mr. Scott sprang to action, convincing Mr. Plummer to take on the challenge. (Why Mr. Plummer? Mr. Scott had considered him during the initial casting process but went with Mr. Spacey for reasons that included scheduling.) The director said he did not tell Mr. Spacey that he was being replaced because Mr. Spacey had never contacted him to discuss the misconduct allegations.
''A phone call would have been nice,'' Mr. Scott said. ''At first I was disappointed. Then I was mad.'' (He added that nothing in Mr. Spacey's contract prohibited his replacement; he got paid.) Representatives for Mr. Spacey did not respond to requests for comment.
Mr. Scott, who called the assertions about Mr. Spacey's behavior ''shocking,'' also managed to bring back Mr. Wahlberg and Ms. Williams, both of whom agreed to work through Thanksgiving due to the severe time constraint. Production on ''All the Money in the World'' resumed on Nov. 20 in London, with the cast and reassembled crew moving to Rome a few days later.
The actual kidnapping had taken place in Italy. Operatives in the 'Ndrangheta crime syndicate held the teenage Getty hostage for five months, even chaining him to a stake in a cave. At one point, the kidnappers cut off Getty's ear and mailed it to a Rome newspaper. He was ultimately released for a payment of roughly $3 million.
''It's almost a grand documentary, a blow-by-blow look at how and why a family '-- one blessed with so much wealth '-- disintegrates into tragedy,'' Mr. Scott said.
Since the original scenes had all been filmed on location, no sets needed to be reconstructed, saving a lot of time. Also making the situation more manageable: Mr. Plummer was nearer in age to the character, making it possible to forgo the kind of facial disguise that Mr. Spacey had donned.
In a surprise, Mr. Plummer's performance was nominated for a Golden Globe after voters saw a not-quite-finished version of the film. Credit Tom Jamieson for The New York Times ''There was no digital trickery required, either, contrary to the speculation,'' Mr. Scott said. ''A little bit of good-morning makeup and some front lighting and he was ready to go. It was quite simple.''
Mr. Plummer said that memorizing lines at lightning speed also turned out to be relatively easy. ''Thank God for my training in the theater,'' he said, adding that he soon forgot that he was replacing another actor. ''Very quickly I put that completely out of my mind,'' he said. (Mr. Plummer declined to comment about Mr. Spacey. ''I'm not going to discuss him, because everything I have said so far has been misinterpreted,'' he said. In November, Vanity Fair quoted Mr. Plummer as saying he felt ''awfully sad'' for Mr. Spacey.)
Long hours may have been their biggest challenge.
For nine days, Mr. Scott arrived at filming locations by 6:30 a.m. to eat a quick breakfast and finalize planned shooting angles with his longtime cinematographer, Dariusz Wolski. (Together, they have made six movies, including ''The Martian,'' which was nominated for best picture at the 2016 Academy Awards.) Filming usually continued straight through lunch. As sequences were shot '-- Mr. Scott typically does very few takes '-- footage was digitally shipped to the film's editor, Claire Simpson, who would start stitching it together. In the evening, Mr. Scott would make adjustments.
''I'm kind of like a funny battery that never wears out,'' he said.
Despite their efforts, ''All the Money in the World'' faces an uphill battle at the box office.
Multiplexes will be chockablock with competing movies, including ''Downsizing,'' a social satire starring Matt Damon; ''The Greatest Showman,'' an original musical starring Hugh Jackman as P.T. Barnum; and ''Star Wars: The Last Jedi.'' Sony lost crucial weeks of marketing time as it waited for footage of Mr. Plummer to splice into a new trailer.
Of course, the publicity generated by Mr. Scott's race to scrub Mr. Spacey from the movie may prove helpful. The effort has been cheered online in some of the same forums where boycotts were brewing. ''Mr. Scott is an inspiration!'' wrote one commenter on EW.com.
And it is possible that Mr. Plummer, an Oscar winner for ''Beginners'' in 2012, turned in a performance that eclipsed the one given by Mr. Spacey. In a surprise, Golden Globe voters, who saw a not-quite-finished version of ''All the Money in the World'' last week, nominated Mr. Plummer for best supporting actor and gave nods to Mr. Scott for his directing and Ms. Williams for best actress.
''I think it's a fantastic change,'' Mr. Scott said. ''Kevin's performance was colder. Christopher has enormous charm '-- a twinkle and a smile '-- that makes this coldly logical character feel even more dangerous.''
Will the original version of ''All the Money in the World'' ever be released, perhaps on DVD, so that viewers can judge for themselves?
Mr. Scott let out a huff. ''I doubt it,'' he said.
Matt Damon Thinks We Need to "Correct" the "Culture of Outrage" Over Sexual Harassment | SPIN
Sat, 16 Dec 2017 13:52
Matt Damon, a white man who stars in movies, sat down for an extended interview with critic Peter Travers to promote the upcoming film Downsizing. Travers asked the actor about Hollywood's ongoing reckoning with sexual harassment, and Damon responded that while he appreciates the moment, he thinks people should chill out just a bit.
''I think we're in this watershed moment. I think it's great. I think it's wonderful that women are feeling empowered to tell their stories, and it's totally necessary,'' Damon said. ''I do believe that there's a spectrum of behavior, right? And we're going to have to figure'--you know, there's a difference between, you know, patting someone on the butt and rape or child molestation, right?''
Damon pointed to Al Franken, the Minnesota senator who recently resigned after several women claimed he groped and kissed them without their permission. The We Bought A Zoo star said he would've preferred a Senate Ethics Committee investigation into the allegations, and expressed concern that people are ''so energized'' for ''retribution'' that they're conflating different types of harassment.
''We live in this culture of outrage and injury,'' Damon said. ''You know, that we're going to have to correct enough to kind of go, 'Wait a minute. None of us came here perfect.'''
Unprompted, the nerd from Good Will Hunting expressed sympathy for Louis C.K:
The Louis C.K. thing, I don't know all the details. I don't do deep dives on this, but I did see his statement, which kind of, which [was] arresting to me. When he came out and said, ''I did this. I did these things. These women are all telling the truth.'' And I just remember thinking, ''Well, that's the sign of somebody who'--well, we can work with that.'' '... I don't know Louis C.K.. I've never met him. I'm a fan of his, but I don't imagine he's going to do those things again. You know what I mean? I imagine the price that he's paid at this point is so beyond anything that he'--I just think that we have to kind of start delineating between what these behaviors are.
Damon, who allegedly helped kill a story in 2004 about disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein's alleged sexual misconduct in Italy, also denied any knowledge of Weinstein's history of sexual harassment:
I knew I wouldn't want him married to anyone close to me. But that was the extent of what we knew, you know? And that wasn't a surprise to anybody. So when you hear Harvey this, Harvey that'--I mean, look at the guy. Of course he's a womanizer. '... I mean, I don't hang out with him.
You can watch the interview here. Dude sounds nervous.
How Wall Street Silences Women
Sat, 16 Dec 2017 21:24
Among the business sectors largely absent from the current deluge of sexual harassment revelations is the financial services industry, a behemoth that employs 3.2 million people in the United States and is infamous for abuse and discrimination targeting women.
New data suggests that, along with Hollywood, the media, and the restaurant industry, finance might deserve a new turn under the hot lights. A new report from the Government Accountability Office finds that women have made no progress increasing their ranks in management in the financial industry since 2007, with women in New York, home to Wall Street's power center, faring worst in the country.
Experts in workplace discrimination say that poor pay and promotion practices often are found in the same workplaces where harassment is prevalent. And if Wall Street women are staying quiet, they say, it is not because the industry has reformed itself.
''Many of them are subject to arbitration agreements,'' said Nancy Erika Smith, the New Jersey employment lawyer who represented former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson in her sexual harassment lawsuit against chair Roger Ailes. Indeed, Wall Street has been a pioneer in the use of closed-door arbitration, using the secret proceedings for decades to keep embarrassing disputes out of the public eye while protecting its predatory rainmakers.
Further silencing women is that ''Wall Street has really perfected blackballing women,'' Smith said.
The GAO report, released on Friday, said that women in finance make up only 29 percent of senior jobs at banks, trusts, insurance, and securities firms. Among white women, the senior ranks were down nearly a percentage point, while minority women saw a 0.3 percentage point increase in the time period studied, 2007 to 2015.
Among the four finance sectors the GAO examined at the request of Sen. Sherrod Brown and Reps. Maxine Waters and Al Green, women at securities firms fared worst in terms of being hired for management positions. Only the insurance industry saw an increase.
''The conditions that might erect barriers to advancement would be among the same kinds of conditions that could promote higher risk of harassment,'' said Joseph Sellers, a Washington, D.C. employment lawyer who has represented women in class-action lawsuits against Walmart and Sterling Jewelers. Sellers said that with its ethos of raunchy humor and other ''shared values'' among men at the top, Wall Street is an unusually tough place for women looking to get ahead.
In the 1991s, major Wall Street firms took embarrassing public relation blows when groups of women at Smith Barney, Merrill Lynch, and other firms banded together to bring class-action lawsuits that laid bare a culture that was demeaning and sometimes dangerous. At a branch office of Smith Barney, where a basement party spot had been dubbed ''The Boom-Boom Room,'' birthday gifts to colleagues included visits from strippers.
Boston-based Fidelity Investments briefly brought finance into the conversation in October when it fired two top men '-- one for harassment, the other for inappropriate sexual comments. But that did not trigger a spate of women in finance to go public with harassment allegations, which comes as no surprise to Vanderbilt Law School professor Joni Hersch, who has done research that suggests that industries with a culture of harassment like finance in effect offer a ''hazard pay'' premium to their employees.
''The problem with these industries is that the prize is so big at the top,'' she says. ''If you successfully compete and advance, the payoff is huge, and that keeps people motivated to keep putting out effort and not complain about the working conditions.''
The bias against women is even at work when it comes to punishment for wrongdoing. In March, three finance professors published a research paper that said rule-breaking female financial advisers were punished more severely than their male peers and were less likely to get new jobs once they were fired. Male advisers, in the meantime, engaged in three times more misconduct than females, the professors said.
The GAO report looked at three tiers of managers. Women in the low- and mid-levels of management declined slightly from 48.2 percent to 47.8 percent between 2007 and 2015, while senior women dropped from 30 percent to 29.3 percent. Addressing the possibility that women might not be getting ahead in finance because of gaps in education, the report pointed out that between 2011 and 2015, women earned 58 percent of bachelor's degrees, 60 percent of master's degrees, and 45 percent of MBAs.
In the wake of the lawsuits of the 1991s, the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, the lobbying group for Wall Street, launched a biannual survey to begin tracking progress for women and minorities. By 2007, the portion of women in the industry had fallen to 42 percent, from 43.5 percent in 1999, SIFMA found, and ''women are being hired at rates below their current representation at almost every job level.'' Women's ranks fell further, to 36 percent, in 2011. We don't know whether those numbers have sunk even further. A SIFMA spokesperson once told me that she would share the 2016 report when it was published. After sending several requests, she told me the results would only available to the brokerage firms that participated in the survey.
When SIFMA held its annual meeting in Washington in October, among the sessions open to attendees was ''Championing Diversity & Inclusion,'' a panel to consider ''strategic solutions'' to bringing change to the C-suite. Three attendees at the session told me that neither the Harvey Weinstein scandal nor the Fidelity firings '' a story in the previous day's Wall Street Journal '' came up in the 70-minute discussion.
There had been high hopes that the scandalous Wall Street gender cases of the 1991s would change the industry's culture and give women a new confidence that they could speak out about discrimination in the workplace. But 20 years after that lawsuit, when I contacted some of the most vocal female litigants of the Boom-Boom Room era to discuss the state of things for women, several declined to be interviewed for a reason I hadn't anticipated: Despite their initial gutsy stands, by 2016 they were afraid that speaking publicly would imperil their jobs.
This article was reported in partnership with The Investigative Fund at The Nation Institute.
Top photo: The ''Fearless Girl'' defiantly looks up at the iconic Wall Street ''Charging Bull'' sculpture in New York on March 29, 2017.
Dennis Hastert - Wikipedia
Sat, 16 Dec 2017 21:19
Dennis Hastert 51st Speaker of the United States House of RepresentativesIn office January 6, 1999 '' January 3, 2007
Preceded by Newt GingrichSucceeded by Nancy PelosiHouse Republican Chief Deputy WhipIn office January 3, 1995 '' January 3, 1999
LeaderNewt GingrichPreceded by Bob WalkerSucceeded by Roy BluntMember of the U.S. House of Representatives from Illinois's 14th district
In office January 3, 1987 '' November 26, 2007
Preceded by John GrotbergSucceeded by Bill FosterPersonal detailsBornJohn Dennis Hastert (1942-01-02 ) January 2, 1942 (age 75)
Aurora, Illinois, U.S.
Political partyRepublicanSpouse(s)Jean KahlEducationNorth Central CollegeWheaton College, Illinois(BA)
Northern Illinois University(MS)
SignatureJohn Dennis Hastert (; born January 2, 1942) is a former American congressman who served as the 51st Speaker of the United States House of Representatives from 1999 to 2007, representing Illinois's 14th congressional district from 1987 to 2007. He is the longest-servingRepublican Speaker of the House in history, and is the highest-ranking politician in U.S. history to have gone to prison.[1]
Hastert grew up in rural Illinois. He graduated from Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois, with a degree in economics in 1964 and obtained an education degree from Northern Illinois University three years later. From 1965 to 1981, Hastert was a high school teacher and coach. He lost a 1980 bid for the Illinois House of Representatives, but tried again and won a seat in 1981. He was first elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1986, and re-elected every subsequent election until he retired in 2007. Hastert rose through the Republican ranks in the House, becoming chief deputy whip and eventually Speaker in 1999. As Speaker of the House, Hastert supported the George W. Bush administration's foreign and domestic policies. After Democrats took control of the House in 2007 following the 2006 election, Hastert chose not to seek the position of minority leader, resigned his House seat, and became a lobbyist at the firm of Dickstein Shapiro.
In May 2015, Hastert was indicted on federal charges of structuring bank withdrawals to evade bank reporting requirements and making false statements to federal investigators.[2][3] Federal prosecutors said that the money was to compensate for and conceal deliberately unspecified misconduct by Hastert against an unnamed individual years earlier.[4][5][6][7][8] Soon afterward, public accusations emerged that Hastert had sexually abused three male students (including the aforementioned unnamed individual) when he was a teacher more than three decades earlier.[9][10][11][12][13][14]
In October 2015, Hastert entered into a plea agreement with prosecutors. Under the agreement, Hastert pleaded guilty to the "structuring" charge (a felony), and the charge of making false statements was dropped.[15] In court submissions on sentencing considerations filed in April 2016, federal prosecutors made allegations of sexual misconduct against Hastert, saying that he had molested at least four boys as young as 14 while he worked as a high school wrestling coach decades earlier.[16] At the sentencing hearing later that month, Hastert admitted that he had sexually abused boys whom he coached.[17] The judge in the case referred to Hastert as a "serial child molester" and imposed a sentence of fifteen months in prison, two years' supervised release, and a $250,000 fine.[18][1] He entered the Federal Medical Center prison in Rochester, Minnesota in 2016 and was released the following year, after 13 months in prison.[19]
Early life [ edit] Hastert was born on January 2, 1942, in Aurora, Illinois, the eldest of three sons of Naomi (n(C)e Nussle) and Jack Hastert.[20][21] Hastert is of Luxembourgeois and Norwegian descent on his father's side, and of German descent on his mother's.[22]
Hastert grew up in a rural Illinois farming community. His middle-class family owned a farm supply business and a family farm; Hastert bagged and hauled feed and performed farm chores.[21][23] As a young man, Hastert also worked shifts in the family's Plainfield restaurant, The Clock Tower, where he was a fry cook.[21][24] Hastert became a born-again Christian as a teenager, during his sophomore year of high school.[21][25] Hastert attended Oswego High School, where he was a star wrestler and football player.[21][23]
Hastert briefly attended North Central College, but later transferred to Wheaton College, a Christian liberal arts college.[23] Jim Parnalee, Hastert's roommate at North Central who transferred with him to Wheaton, was a Marine Corps Reserve member who in 1965 became the school's first student to be killed in Vietnam. Hastert continued to visit Parnalee's family each year in Michigan.[23][25] Because of a wrestling injury, Hastert never served in the military. In 1964, Hastert graduated from Wheaton with a B.A. in economics.[21][23][26] In 1967, he received his M.S. in philosophy of education from Northern Illinois University (NIU).[21][26] In his first year of graduate school, Hastert spent three months in Japan as part of the People to People Student Ambassador Program.[27] One of Hastert's fellow group members was Tony Podesta (then the president of the Young Democrats at University of Illinois at Chicago Circle).[27]
Teaching career [ edit] Hastert was employed by Yorkville Community Unit School District 115 for sixteen years, from 1965 to 1981.[28] Hastert began working there, at age 23, while still attending NIU.[21] Throughout that time, Hastert worked as a teacher at Yorkville High School (teaching government, history, economics, and sociology), where he also served as a football and wrestling coach.[21][29] Hastert led the school's wrestling team to the 1976 state title and was later named Illinois Coach of the Year.[21] According to federal prosecutors, during the time that he coached wrestling, Hastert sexually abused at least four of his students.[30]
Hastert was a Boy Scout volunteer with Explorer Post 540 of Yorkville for 17 years, during his time as a schoolteacher and coach.[31] Hastert reportedly traveled with the Explorers on trips to the Grand Canyon, the Bahamas, Minnesota, and the Green River in Utah.[11][31]
In 1973 Hastert married a fellow teacher at the high school, Jean Kahl, with whom he had two sons.[23]
Illinois House of Representatives [ edit] Hastert considered applying to become an assistant principal at the school, but then decided to enter politics, although at the time "he knew nothing about politics."[21] Hastert approached Phyllis Oldenburg, a Republican operative in Kendall County, seeking advice on running for a seat in the Illinois Legislature.[21]
Hastert lost a 1980 Republican primary for the Illinois House of Representatives, but showed a talent for campaigning, and after the election, volunteered for an influential state senator, John E. Grotberg.[21] In the summer of 1981, however, State Representative Al Schoeberiein had become terminally ill, and Republican party bosses selected Hastert as the successor over two major rivals, West Chicago lawyer Tom Johnson and Mayor Richard Verbic of Elgin.[23][25] The first round of balloting resulted in a tie, but Hastert was chosen after Grotberg interceded on Hastert's behalf.[23]
Hastert served three terms in the state House.[25] He served on the Appropriations Committee.[23] According to a 1999 Chicago Tribune profile, in the state House "Hastert quickly staked out a place on the far right of the political spectrum, once earning a place on the 'Moral Majority Honor Roll.' Yet, he also displayed yeoman-like work habits and an ability to put aside partisanship."[25] He gained a reputation as a dealmaker and party leader known for "asking his colleagues to write their spending requests on a notepad so he could carry them into negotiating sessions" and holding early-morning pre-meetings to organize talking points.[23] One of his first moves in the House was to help block passage of the Equal Rights Amendment; the state House Speaker George Ryan appointed Hastert to a committee that worked to prevent the ERA from coming to the House floor.[25] In the state House, Hastert opposed bills barring discrimination against gays; supported (unsuccessfully) proposals to raise the driving age to 18; and voted for a mandatory seat belt law, although he later voted to repeal it.[25]
In 1986, at the urging of GovernorJames R. Thompson, Hastert developed a plan to deregulate Illinois utility companies.[25] Under the plan developed by Hastert and Republican staffers, property and gross-receipts taxes that utilities paid would be eliminated and replaced with a "state service tax" that service-industry businesses (ranging from insurers to funeral homes) would pay.[25] Critics of the plan said that it was too favorable to utility companies, and the proposal was not adopted.[25]
U.S. House of Representatives [ edit] Meanwhile, Hastert's political mentor Grotberg had been elected to Congress as the representative from Illinois's 14th district, but fell ill with cancer in 1986, and was unable to run for a second term.[21][23] Hastert was nominated to replace him; in the general election in November 1986, he defeated Democratic candidate Mary Lou Kearns, the Kane Countycoroner, in a relatively close race.[21][23]David Axelrod was Kearns' strategist in the race; years later, Axelrod attributed Hastert's victory in the race in part to "a sleazy, 11th-hour mailer sullying the morality of his opponent."[32]
Hastert was then reelected in his Fox Valley-centered district several times, by wider margins, aided by his role in redistricting following the 1991 Census.[23]
Following the House banking scandal, which broke in 1992, it was revealed that Hastert had bounced 44 checks during the period under investigation.[25][33] A Justice Department special counsel said there was no reason to believe Hastert had committed any crime in overdrawing his accounts.[33]
As a prot(C)g(C) of House Minority LeaderRobert H. Michel, Hastert rose through the Republican ranks in the House, and in 1995 (after the Republicans gained control of the House and Newt Gingrich became Speaker), Hastert became chief deputy whip.[23] Michel appointed Hastert to the Republicans' health care task force,[25] where Hastert became a "prominent voice" in helping defeat the Clinton health care plan of 1993.[34][35]
Hastert developed a close relationship with Tom DeLay, the House majority whip, and was widely seen as DeLay's deputy.[23] Hastert and DeLay first worked together in 1989, on Edward Madigan's unsuccessful race against Gingrich for minority whip. Hastert later managed DeLay's successful campaign to become whip.[23] In September 1998, the two added an extra $250,000 to the Defense Department appropriations bill for "pharmacokinetics research" which paid for an Army experiment with nicotine chewing gum manufactured by the Amurol Confections Company in Yorkville, in Hastert's district.[23][36] On the House floor, Democratic Representative Peter DeFazio criticized the insertion of the provision; Hastert defended it.[36] Hastert played "good cop" to DeLay's "bad cop."[37][38]
On the eve of his elevation to Speaker, Hastert was described as "deeply conservative at heart" and a "hide-bound, rock-ribbed Illinois conservative" by the Associated Press.[39] The AP reported: "He is an evangelical Christian who opposes abortion and advocates lower taxes, a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution and the death penalty. And he spearheaded the GOP's highly partisan fight against using sampling techniques to take the next census. Such groups as the National Right to Life Committee, the Christian Coalition, the Chamber of Commerce and the National Rifle Association all gave his voting record perfect scores of 100. The American Conservative Union gave him an 88. Meanwhile, the liberal Americans for Democratic Action, the American Civil Liberties Union and labor organizations such as the AFL-CIO and the Teamsters each gave Hastert zero points. The League of Conservation Voters rated him a 13."[39]
Hastert criticized the Clinton administration's plans to conduct the 2000 Census using sampling techniques.[23] Hastert was a supporter of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and in 1993 voted to approve the trade pact.[40] He was a gun rights supporter who voted against the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act and Federal Assault Weapons Ban.[25]
Hastert was the "House Republicans' leader on anti-narcotics efforts" and was a strong supporter of the War on Drugs.[23][41] In this role, he led a "crusade against federal money for needle-exchange programs and criticized the Clinton administration for what he believed was insufficient funding for drug interdiction efforts.[39][23][41]
In redistricting following the 2000 Census, Hastert brokered a deal with Democratic Representative William Lipinski, also from Illinois, that "protected the reelection prospects of almost every Illinois incumbent."[42] The deal easily passed the divided Illinois Legislature.[42]
Committee assignments and House positions [ edit] Hastert served on the following House committees and in the following House positions. (This list does not include subcommittee assignments or positions within the Republican Conference).
Speaker of the House [ edit] Hastert presiding over the House of Representatives during the 109th Congress.Election [ edit] In the aftermath of the 1998 midterm elections, where the GOP lost five House seats and failed to make a net gain of seats in the Senate, House Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia stood down for the speakership and declined to take his seat for an 11th term. In mid-December, Representative Robert L. Livingston of Louisiana'--the former chairman of the House Appropriations Committee and the Speaker-designate'--stated in a dramatic surprise announcement on the House floor that he would not become Speaker, following widely publicized revelations of his extramarital affairs.[34][54][55]
Although he reportedly had no warning of Livingston's decision to step aside, Hastert "began lobbying on the House floor within moments" of Livingston's announcement, and by the afternoon of that day had secured the public backing of the House Republican leadership, including Gingrich, DeLay (who was "viewed as too partisan to step into the role of Speaker") and Dick Armey (who was "viewed as too weak" and was damaged by party infighting).[34][55] On that day, Hastert was endorsed by about a hundred Republican representatives, ranging from conservatives such as Steve Largent to moderates such as Mike Castle, for the speakership.[55] Representative Christopher Cox of California, viewed as a potential rival, decided by evening not to challenge Hastert for the speakership.[55] Hastert became known as "the Accidental Speaker."[56][57]
Tenure and controversies [ edit] In accepting the position, Hastert broke the tradition that the new speaker delivers his first address from the speaker's chair, instead delivering his seventeen-minute acceptance speech from the floor.[58] Hastert adopted a conciliatory tone and pledged to work for bipartisanship, saying that: "Solutions to problems cannot be found in a pool of bitterness."[58][59]
Nevertheless, in November 2004, Hastert instituted what became known as the Hastert Rule (or "majority of the majority" rule), which was an informal, self-imposed political practice of allowing the House to vote on only those bills that were supported by the majority of its Republican members. The practice received criticism as an unduly partisan measure both at the time it was adopted and in the subsequent years.[60][61] The same year, the Hastert aide who coined the phrase also stated that the stricture was not workable.[62] In any case, a number of bills subsequently passed the House without the support of a majority of the majority party in the House, as shown by a list compiled by The New York Times.[63] In 2013, after leaving office, Hastert disowned the policy, saying that "there is no Hastert Rule" and that the "rule" was more of a principle that the majority party should follow its own policies.[64]
Congressional expert Norm Ornstein writes that Hastert "blew up" the House's "regular order," which is "a mix of rules and norms that allows debate, deliberation, and amendments in committees and on the House floor, that incorporates and does not shut out the minority (even if it still loses most of the time), that takes bills that pass both houses to a conference committee to reconcile differences, [and] that allows time for members and staff to read, digest, and analyze bills."[65] Ornstein commented that "no speaker did more to relegate the regular order to the sidelines than Hastert. ... The House is a very partisan institution, with rules structured to give even tiny majorities enormous leverage. But Hastert took those realities to a new and more tribalized, partisan plane."[65] Despite this shift, Hastert was widely seen as "affable" and low-key; he did not seek the limelight, "become a regular on Sunday talk shows or anything close to a household word or figure," or "openly exhibit the kind of snarling or mean partisan demeanor that made Tom DeLay such a mark of hatred for Democrats."[65]
Although by tradition, Hastert was the leader of the House Republicans, he adopted a much lower profile in the media than conventional wisdom would suggest for a Speaker. This led to accusations that he was only a figurehead for DeLay.[66] In 2005, DeLay was indicted by a Texas grand jury on charges of campaign-finance violations. DeLay stepped down as majority leader and was replaced in that post by Roy Blunt; DeLay resigned from Congress the following year.[67][68]
Throughout his term, Hastert was a strong supporter of the George W. Bush administration's foreign and domestic policies. Hastert was described as a Bush loyalist who worked closely with the White House to shepherd the president's agenda through Congress,[21][69] The two frequently praised each other, expressed mutual respect, and had a close working relationship, even during the controversy over Representative Mark Foley, Republican of Florida.[70][71] Hastert even provided Dick Cheney office space inside the House in the United States Capitol.[72] In 2003, Hastert and Bush met privately at the White House about twice a month to discuss congressional developments.[71]
Earmarks'--line-item projects inserted into appropriations bills at the request of individual members, and often referred to as "pork-barrel" spending'--"exploded under [Hastert's] leadership," growing from $12 billion in 1999 (at the beginning of Hastert's term) to an all-time high of $29 billion in 2006 (Hastert's last year as speaker).[56] Hastert himself made earmarks a personal trademark; from 1999 to May 2005, Hastert obtained $24 million in federal earmarked grant funds to groups and institutions in Aurora, Illinois, Hastert's birthplace and his district's largest city.[73]
106th Congress [ edit] In March 1999, soon after Hastert's elevation to the speakership, the Washington Post, in a front-page story, reported that Hastert "has begun offering industry lobbyists the kind of deal they like: private audiences where, for a price, they can voice their views on what kind of agenda the 106th Congress should pursue."[74] Hastert's style and extensive fundraising led Common Cause to critique the "pay-to-play system" in Congress.[74]
Hastert was known as a frequent critic of Bill Clinton, and immediately upon assuming the speakership, he "played a lead role" in the impeachment of the president.[5] Nevertheless, Hastert and the Clinton administration did work together on several initiatives, including the New Markets Tax Credit program and Plan Colombia.[34]
In 2000, Hastert announced he would support an Armenian Genocide resolution. Analysts noted that at the time there was a tight congressional race in California, in which the large Armenian community might be important in favor of the Republican incumbent. The resolution, vehemently opposed by Turkey, had passed the Human Rights Subcommittee of the House and the International Relations Committee but Hastert, although first supporting it, withdrew the resolution on the eve of the full House vote. He explained this by saying that he had received a letter from Bill Clinton asking him to withdraw it, because it would harm U.S. interests.[75] Even though there is no evidence that a payment was made, an official at the Turkish Consulate is said to have claimed in one recording, that was translated by Sibel Edmonds, that the price for Hastert to withdraw the Armenian Genocide resolution would have been at least $500,000.[76][77]
107th Congress [ edit] "Hastert and the senior Republican leadership in the House were able to maintain party discipline to a great degree," which allowed them to regularly enact legislation, despite a narrow majority (less than twelve seats) in the 106th and 107th Congresses.[78] Hastert was a strong supporter of the Iraq War Resolution and the ensuing 2003 invasion of Iraq and the Iraq War. Hastert stated in the House in October 2002 that he believed there was "a direct connection between Iraq and al-Qaeda" and that the U.S. should "do all that we can to disarm Saddam Hussein's regime before they provide al-Qaeda with weapons of mass destruction."[79] In a February 2003 interview with the Chicago Tribune, Hastert "launched into a lengthy and passionate denunciation" of France's resistance to the Iraq war and stated that he wanted to go "nose-to-nose" with the country.[80] In 2006, Hastert visited Iraq at Bush's request and supported a supplemental Iraq War spending bill.[81]
As Speaker, Hastert shepherded the USA Patriot Act in October 2001 to passage in the House on a 357-66 vote.[82] In a 2011 interview, Hastert claimed credit for its passage over the misgivings of many members.[82] Fourteen years later, federal prosecutors used the Patriot Act's expansion of currency transaction reporting requirements to indict Hastert on federal charges.[82]
As speaker, Hastert also oversaw the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, a major education bill; the Bush tax cuts in 2001 and 2003 legislation; and the Homeland Security Act of 2002, which reorganized the government and created the Department of Homeland Security.[78] Although Hastert was successful in implementing Bush policy priorities, during his tenure the House also "regularly passed conservative bills only to have them blocked in the more moderate Senate."[78] One such bill was an energy bill, backed by the Bush administration, which would have authorized drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge; this provision was killed in the Senate.[78]
Hastert opposed the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (McCain-Feingold), the landmark campaign finance reform law.[39] In 2001, during the debate on the bill, Hastert criticized Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona, saying that McCain had "bullied" House Republicans by sending them letters in support of his campaign-finance reform proposals.[83] Hastert called the legislation "the worst thing that ever happened to Congress"[84] and expressed the view that there were "constitutional flaws" in the legislation.[85] Supporters of campaign-finance reform circumvented Hastert by means of a discharge petition, a seldom-used procedural mechanism in which a measure may be brought to a floor vote (over the objections of the speaker) if an absolute majority of Representatives sign a petition in support of doing so.[56] The discharge petition was not successfully used again[86] until 2015.[87]
108th Congress [ edit] In 2004, Hastert again feuded with McCain amid conflict between the House and the Senate over the 2005 budget.[88] After "McCain gave a speech excoriating both political parties for refusing to sacrifice their tax cutting and spending agendas in wartime," Hastert publicly questioned McCain's "credentials as a Republican and suggested that the decorated Vietnam War veteran did not understand the meaning of sacrifice."[88]
Hastert was key to the passage in November 2003 of key Medicare legislation which created Medicare Part D, a prescription-drug benefit.[89] Hastert's push to pass the legislation'--culminating in a three-hour House vote in which the Speaker, "an imposing former wrestling coach, was literally leaning on recalcitrant lawmakers to win their support"'--raised the Speaker's profile and contributed to a shift of his image from amiable and low-key to more forceful.[89] The extension of the vote for hours and the arm-twisting of members brought condemnation of Hastert from Democrats, with House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer saying: "They are corrupting the practices of the House."[89] The bill passed on a narrow vote of 220 to 215.[90]
In 2004, Hoyer called upon Hastert to initiate a House Ethics Committee investigation into statements by Representative Nick Smith, a Republican of Michigan, who stated that groups and lawmakers had offered support for his son's campaign for Congress in exchange for Smith's support of the Medicare bill.[90] In October 2004, the House Ethics Committee admonished DeLay for pressuring Smith on the Medicare prescription-drug bill, but stated that DeLay did not break the law or House ethics rules.[91] Hastert issued a statement supporting DeLay, but the admonishment was viewed as harming DeLay's chances of succeeded Hastert as Speaker.[91]
109th Congress [ edit] On October 27, 2005, Hastert became the first Speaker to author a blog.[92] On "Speaker's Journal" on his official House website, Hastert wrote in his first post: "This is Denny Hastert and welcome to my blog. This is new to me. I can't say I'm much of a techie. I guess you could say my office is teaching the old guy new tricks. But I'm excited. This is the future. And it is a new way for us to get our message out."[93]
On June 1, 2006, Hastert became the longest-serving Republican Speaker of the House in history, surpassing the record previously held by fellow Illinoisan Joseph Gurney Cannon, who held the post from November 1903 to March 1911.[94][95]
In 2005, following the Hurricane Katrina disaster, Hastert told an Illinois newspaper that "It looks like a lot of that place [referring to New Orleans] could be bulldozed" and stated that spending billions of dollars to rebuild the devastated city "doesn't make sense to me."[96] The remarks enraged GovernorKathleen Blanco of Louisiana, who stated that Hastert's comments were "absolutely unthinkable for a leader in his position" and demanded an immediate apology.[96] Former President Bill Clinton, responding to the remarks, stated that had they been in the same place when the remarks were made, "I'm afraid I would have assaulted him."[96] After the remarks caused a furor, Hastert issued a statement saying he was not "advocating that the city be abandoned or relocated" and later issued another statement saying that "Our prayers and sympathies continue to be with the victims of Hurricane Katrina."[96] Hastert was also criticized for being absent from the Capitol during the approval of a $10.5 billion Katrina relief plan; Hastert was in Indiana attending a colleague's fundraiser and an antique car auction. Hastert later said that he donated the proceeds from one of the antique cars he sold at the auction to hurricane-relief efforts.[96]
Ethics [ edit] When the United States House Committee on Ethics recommended a series of reprimands against Majority Leader Tom DeLay, Hastert fired committee Chairman Joel Hefley, (R-CO), as well as committee members Kenny Hulshof, (R-MO) and Steve LaTourette, (R-OH).[65] After DeLay's associates were indicted, Hastert enacted a new rule allowing DeLay to keep the majority leadership even if himself indicted.[65]
A September 2005 article in Vanity Fair revealed that during her work, former FBI translator Sibel Edmonds had heard Turkish wiretap targets boast of covert relations with Hastert. The article states, "the targets reportedly discussed giving Hastert tens of thousands of dollars in surreptitious payments in exchange for political favors and information."[76] A spokesman for Hastert later denied the claims, relating them to the Jennifer Aniston-Brad Pitt breakup.[97] Following his congressional career, Hastert received a $35,000 per month contract lobbying on behalf of Turkey.[98]
In a December 2006, the House Ethics Committee determined that Hastert and other congressional leaders were "willfully ignorant" in responding to early warnings of the Mark Foley congressional page scandal, but did not violate any House rules.[99][100] In a committee statement, Kirk Fordham, who was Foley's chief of staff until 2005, said that he had alerted Scott B. Palmer, Hastert's chief of staff, to Foley's inappropriate advances toward congressional pages in 2002 or 2003, asking congressional leadership to intervene.[100] Then-House Majority Leader John Boehner and National Republican Congressional Committee chair Thomas M. Reynolds stated that they told Hastert about Foley's conduct in spring 2005.[100] A Hastert spokesman stated that "what Kirk Fordham said did not happen."[100] Hastert also stated that he could not recall conversations with Boehner and Reynolds, and that he did not learn of Foley's conduct until late September 2006, when the affair became public.[100]
In 2006, Hastert became embroiled in controversy over his championing of a $207 million earmark (inserted in the 2005 omnibus highway bill) for the Prairie Parkway, a proposed expressway running through his district.[101][102][103] The Sunlight Foundation accused Hastert of failing to disclose that the construction of the highway would benefit a land investment that Hastert and his wife made in nearby land in 2004 and 2005. Hastert took an unusually active role advancing the bill, even though it was opposed by a majority of area residents and by the Illinois Department of Transportation.[104] When the speaker became frustrated by negotiations with White House staff, Hastert began working on the bill directly with President Bush.[104] After passage the President even traveled to Hastert's district for the law's signing ceremony.[104]
Four months later Hastert sold the land for a 500% profit.[104] Hastert's net worth went from $300,000 to at least $6.2 million.[104] Hastert received five-eighths of the proceeds of the sale of the land, turning a $1.8 million profit in under two years.[102][103][105] Hastert's ownership interest in the tract was not a public record because the land was held by a blindland trust, Little Rock Trust No. 225.[101] There were three partners in the trust: Hastert, Thomas Klatt, and Dallas Ingemunson. However, public documents only named Ingemunson, who was the Kendall County Republican Party chairman and Hastert's personal attorney and longtime friend.[101][105] Hastert denied any wrongdoing.[102] In October 2006, Norman Ornstein and Scott Lilly wrote that the Prairie Parkway affair was "worse than FoleyGate" and called for Hastert's resignation.[104]
In 2012, after Hastert had departed from Congress, the highway project was killed after federal regulators retracted the 2008 approval of an environmental impact statement for the project and agreed to an Illinois Department of Transportation request to redirect the funds for other projects.[106] Environmentalists, who opposed the project, celebrated its cancellation.[106]
In 2006, Hastert (along with then-minority leader Nancy Pelosi) criticized a FBI search of Representative William J. Jefferson's Capitol Hill office in connection with a corruption investigation. Hastert issued a lengthy statement saying that the raid violated the separation of powers, and later complained directly to President George W. Bush about the matter.[107][108]
Departure from Congress [ edit] Before the 2006 election, Hastert expressed his intent to seek reelection as Speaker if the Republicans maintained control of the House. Hastert was reelected for an eleventh term to his seat in the House with nearly 60 percent of the vote, but that year the Republicans lost control of both the Senate and the House to the Democrats following a wave of voter discontent with the Iraq War, the Federal response to Hurricane Katrina, and a series of scandals among congressional Republicans.[109] The day after the November election, Hastert announced he would not seek to become minority leader when the 110th Congress convened in January 2007.[110] Later that month, John Boehner of Ohio defeated Mike Pence of Indiana in a 168-27 vote of the House Republican Conference election to become minority leader for the 110th Congress.[111] The House Democratic Caucus unanimously selected House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to be Speaker (succeeding Hastert) for the 110th Congress.[111]
In October 2007, following months of rumors that Hastert would not serve out his term, the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call reported that Hastert had decided to resign from the House before the end of the year, triggering a special election.[112]
On November 15, 2007, Hastert delivered a farewell speech on the House floor, emphasizing the need for civility in politics; Hastert's speech was followed by remarks from Pelosi praising Hastert's service.[113][114] Finally, on November 26, 2007, Hastert submitted his resignation, effective at 10:59 p.m. Central Time that day, to GovernorRod Blagojevich of Illinois.[115]
Financial disclosure documents indicate that Hastert made a fortune from land deals during his time in Congress.[101] Hastert entered Congress in 1987 with a net worth of no more than $270,000.[28] At the time, his most valuable asset was an 104-acre farm in southern Illinois (which his wife had inherited), worth between $50,000 and $100,000.[101] When Hastert left Congress twenty years later, he reported a significantly increased net worth, variously reported as between $4 million and $17 million[28] and between $3.1 million and $11.3 million.[101] Much of this increase in net worth was the result of various real-estate investments during Hastert's time in Congress (including the controversial land deal several miles from the proposed Prairie Parkway site).[101] At the time Hastert left Congress, much of his net worth remained tied up in real-estate holdings.[28]
State Senator Chris Lauzen, Geneva mayor Kevin Burns, and dairy businessman Jim Oberweis all entered the campaign for the Republican nomination to succeed Hastert.[116] In December 2007, Hastert endorsed Oberweis in the primary, and Burns withdrew from the race.[116] In the February 2008 primary election, Oberweis was elected as the Republican nominee, and Fermilab scientist Bill Foster was elected as the Democratic nominee. In the special election in March 2008 to fill the rest of Hastert's unexpired term, Foster defeated Oberweis.[117] In a rematch in the November 2008 elections for a full two-year term, Foster again defeated Oberweis.[118]
Post-congressional career [ edit] Lobbyist and consultant [ edit] In May 2008, six months after resigning from Congress, the Washington, D.C.-based law firm and lobbying firmDickstein Shapiro announced that Hastert was joining the firm as a senior adviser.[119] Hastert waited until the legally required "cooling-off period" had passed in order to actually become a registered lobbyist.[119] Over the next several years, Hastert earned millions of dollars lobbying his former congressional colleagues on a range of issues, mostly involving congressional appropriations.[120]
According to Foreign Agents Registration Act filings, Hastert represented foreign governments, including the government of Luxembourg and government of Turkey.[119] During parts of 2009, Hastert also lobbied on behalf of Oak Brook, Illinois-based real estate developer CenterPoint Properties, lobbying for the placement of a major Army Reserve transportation facility.[119][120] Hastert also represented Lorillard Tobacco Co., which paid Dickstein Shapiro almost $8 million from 2011 to 2014 to lobby on behalf of candy-flavored tobacco and electronic cigarettes; Hastert "was the most prominent member of the lobbying team" on these efforts.[120] In 2013 and 2014, Hastert lobbied on climate change issues on behalf of Peabody Energy, the world's largest private-sector coal company; in 2015, Hastert "switched sides" and lobbied for Fuels America, the ethanol industry group.[120] In the second half of 2011, Hastert monitored legislation on GPS on behalf of LightSquared, which paid Dickstein Shapiro $200,000 for lobbying services.[120]
Hastert also lobbied on behalf of FirstLine Transportation Security, Inc. (which sought congressional review of Transportation Security Administration procurement);[120] Naperville, Illinois-based lighting technology company PolyBrite International;[119] the American College of Rheumatology (on annual labor and health spending bill);[120] the San Diego, California-based for-profit education company Bridgepoint Education;[119]REX American Resources Corp.;[121]The ServiceMaster Co.;[121] and the Secure ID Coalition.[28]
In 2014, Hastert's firm Dickstein Shapiro and the lobbying firm of former House majority leader-turned lobbyist Dick Gephardt split a $1.4 million annual lobbying contract with the government of Turkey.[122] In April 2013, Hastert and Gephardt traveled with eight members of Congress to Turkey, with all expenses paid by the Turkish government.[122][123] While members of Congress are generally prohibited from corporate-funded travel abroad with lobbyists (a rule enacted after the Abramoff scandal), the law permits lobbyists to plan and attend trips overseas if paid for by foreign countries.[122] Hastert defended the trip, saying that he had "meticulously" followed the rules and that the involvement of himself and Gephardt "allowed those members of Congress who were there to have a fuller experience."[122] A National Journal investigation highlighted the trip as an example of loopholes creating a situation in which "lobbyists who can't legally buy a lawmaker a sandwich can still escort members on trips all around the world."[123]
In March 2015, Hastert along with his associate (accompanied by several lobbyist associates, including former Representative William D. Delahunt of Massachusetts) took advantage of his privilege as a former lawmaker to be present in the Senate Reception Room near the Senate chamber, "lingering" and "bantering with senators and other passersby" during a vote on whether to retain the fuel standard mandating the blending of ethanol and other alternative fuels with gasoline, as advocated by Hastert's client Fuels America (the ethanol industry trade group).[124] Hastert and Delahunt were criticized by watchdog groups who "questioned whether Hastert was violating" these rules,[125] but "allies of Hastert and Delahunt said they made a point of not lobbying lawmakers in the Senate Reception Room, but that they and members of their team used the lobby area as a temporary base, where they could greet lawmakers while they were holding meetings in private rooms."[124]
The day the 2015 indictment was unsealed, Hastert resigned his lobbyist position at Dickstein Shapiro, and his biography was removed from the firm's website.[126][127][128]
In addition to his lobbyist job, Hastert established his own consultancy, Hastert & Associates.[121] In 2008, Hastert also joined the board of directors of Chicago-based futures exchange company CME Group Inc. (which had been formed from the merger of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and Chicago Board of Trade), where he earned more than US$ 205,000 in total compensation in 2014.[129][130] On May 29, 2015, following his indictment, Hastert resigned from the board, effective immediately.[130]
Publicly funded post-speakership office [ edit] A controversy arose in 2009 regarding Hastert's receipt of federal funds while a lobbyist.[131][132] Under a 1975 federal law, Hastert, as a former House Speaker, was entitled to a public allowance (about $40,000 a month) for a five-year period to allow him to maintain an office.[131] Hastert accepted the funds, which went toward office space in far-west suburban Yorkville, Illinois; salaries for three staffers (secretary Lisa Post and administrative assistants Bryan Harbin and Tom Jarman, each paid an annual salary of more than $100,000 over 2½ years); lease payments on a 2008 GMC Yukonsport utility vehicle; a satellite TV subscription; office equipment; and legal fees.[121][131][132] Jarman later left the office, and Harbin's salary was cut substantially.[121] Hastert's government-funded office closed in late 2012, at the end of the maximum five years for which public funds were provided.[121] The total amount of public funds spent on Hastert's post-speakership office was nearly $1.9 million (not including federal benefits such as health care to which the employees were entitled), of which the majority (about $1.45 million) went toward staff salaries.[121]
The federally funded benefits were legally required to be completely separate from Hastert's simultaneous lobbying activities for Dickstein Shapiro.[131][132] The arrangement was criticized as "really concerning" by Steve Ellis, vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense, because the exact nature of the two roles was not transparent. A Hastert spokesman stated that the two offices were completely separate.[131][132] In 2012, however, a Chicago Tribune investigation found that "a secretary in the ex-speaker's government office used email to coordinate some of his private business meetings and travel, and conducted research on one proposed venture" and that "a suburban Chicago businessman who was involved in the business ventures with Hastert said he met with Hastert at least three times in the government office to discuss the projects."[133] Hastert denied that he had engaged in any improper conduct.[133]
Civil lawsuit against Hastert alleging personal use of publicly funded office [ edit] In 2013, Hastert's former business partner J. David John filed a lawsuit in the federal district court for the Northern District of Illinois, alleging that Hastert misappropriated federal funds for his post-speakership office in Yorkville for personal use, including private lobbying and business projects.[134][135] This suit was filed under the qui tam provision of the False Claims Act (FCA), an anti-fraud statute that allows a private party to pursue a case on behalf of the federal government.[134][135][136] In the suit, John asserts that he told the FBI in 2011 that "he had knowledge that Hastert was using federally funded offices, staff, office supplies and vehicles for personal business ventures."[134] John, a businessman from the Chicago suburb of Burr Ridge, Illinois,[133][136] also said that he traveled with Hastert and collaborated with him on "a planned Grand Prix racetrack in Southern California and sports events to be organized in the Middle East" as well as other projects.[134] Hastert denies any wrongdoing.[135] The allegations about the use of the former speakers' officer first drew the attention of federal investigators in 2013, leading to the federal indictment in 2015.[137]
Hastert was initially represented in the civil case by his son, attorney Ethan Hastert, and then by Christian Poland, a Bryan Cave partner in Chicago.[138] U.S. District Judge Charles Kocoras twice dismissed the suit, but allowed John's attorneys to redraft the complaint.[135][136] In July 2015, Kocoras reinstated the suit, finding that John's second amended complaint was sufficient to allow the suit to go forward and proceed to discovery.[134] John claimed in court filings to have had at least three conversations with an FBI agent about Hastert's use of the post-speakership office.[139] In September 2015, Hastert's attorneys issued subpoenas for records of conversations between John and FBI agents.[139] John's attorneys moved to quash the subpoenas, arguing that they were overly broad and sought information "unrelated to the present case or Hastert."[139] In October 2015, Judge Kocoras said that he would review the records in camera (privately) before deciding what information should be turned over, saying: "This case has more than its share of sensitivity and unusual aspects."[139]
In April 2017, Judge Kocoras dismissed the suit, finding that John did not qualify as a "whistleblower" under the FCA.[140] John's attorney said that an appeal was possible.[140] The dismissal "did not turn on whether Hastert actually misused the speaker's office, but rather whether John met a prerequisite for [a False Claims Act] suit: that he brought the allegations to the government's attention before anyone else and before they were made public."[141] Kocoras held that John had falsely claims that he had told the FBI about possible misuse of federal resources by Hastert.[141]
Other activities [ edit] After retiring from Congress, Hastert made occasional public appearances on political programs.[5] He also made some endorsements of political candidates; in the 2012 Republican presidential primaries, he endorsed Mitt Romney instead of his predecessor as Speaker, Newt Gingrich.[142]
Child sexual abuse and hush-money scheme [ edit] Sexual abuse allegations emerge [ edit] On May 29, 2015, after Hastert had been indicted for illicitly "structuring" financial transactions (see below), two people briefed on the evidence from the case stated that "Individual A"'--the man to whom Hastert was making payments'--had been sexually abused by Hastert during Hastert's time as a teacher and coach at Yorkville High School, and that Hastert had paid $1.7 million out of the total $3.5 million in promised payment.[11] On the same day, the Los Angeles Times reported that investigators had spoken with a second former student (not the person who was receiving payments from Hastert), who made similar allegations that corroborated what the first student said.[12] He admitted to sexual abuse during sentencing on unrelated crimes.[18][143]
On June 5, 2015, ABC News' Good Morning America aired an interview with Jolene Reinboldt Burdge, the sister of Steve Reinboldt, who was the student equipment manager of the wrestling team at Yorkville High School when Hastert was the wrestling coach.[10][144][145]
Hastert also ran an Explorers group of which Steve Reinboldt was a member, and led the group on a diving trip to the Bahamas.[10] In the interview, Burdge stated that in 1979 (eight years after Reinboldt's high school graduation in 1971), her brother had told her that he had been sexually abused by Hastert throughout his four years of high school.[10] Burdge said that she was "stunned" by this news and that her brother said that he had never told anyone before, because he did not think he would be believed.[10] A message from Hastert appears in Steve Reinboldt's 1970 high school yearbook.[10] In the interview, Burdge said that she believes the abuse stopped when her brother moved away after graduation. Jolene said that Hastert "damaged Steve I think more than any of us will ever know."[10]
Reinboldt died of an AIDS-related illness in 1995.[10] Hastert attended his viewing, which angered Burdge; she said:
I was just there just trying to bite my tongue thinking that blood was coming out because I was just ... So after he had gone through the line I followed him out into the parking lot of the funeral home. I said, 'I want to know why you did what you did to my brother.' And he just stood there and stared at me. He didn't say, 'What are you talking about?' you know, [or], 'What? I don't know what you're talking about.' He just stood there and stared at me.
Then I just continued to say, 'I want you to know your secret didn't die in there with my brother. And I want you to remember that I'm out here and that I know.' And again, he just stood there and he did not say a word.[10]
Hastert then got in his car and left. Burdge said Hastert's lack of a response 'said everything.'[10]
Following Reinboldt's death, around the time that the Mark Foley scandal broke in 2006, Burdge unsuccessfully attempted to bring the charges against Hastert to light; she contacted ABC News and the Associated Press on an off-the-record basis, and also contacted some advocacy groups.[10][144] ABC News and the AP could not corroborate Jolene's allegation at the time, and Hastert denied the accusation to ABC News at the time, so the claim was not published.[10][144][146]
ABC News reported that "for years, Jolene watched helplessly as Hastert basked in fame and power, seated to the left of the president for years in the early 2000s for the nationally-televised State of the Union address."[10] Several days before the indictment was unsealed, Burdge was interviewed by FBI agents who asked her about her brother and informed her Hastert was about to be indicted on federal charges.[10] Neither Reinboldt nor Burdge are "Individual A" named in the indictment, but Burdge believes that "Individual A" is familiar with what happened with her brother.[10] The statements by Burdge "marked the first time that a person has been publicly identified as a possible victim of Mr. Hastert."[9]
Reactions [ edit] The emergence of the sexual abuse allegations against Hastert brought renewed attention to the 2006 Mark Foley scandal, and the criticism of Hastert that he failed to take appropriate action in that case.[147][148]
In the wake of the sexual abuse allegations, journalists noted that Hastert was a supporter of measures which sought to enhance punishments for child sexual abuse, such as the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act and the Child Abuse Prevention and Enforcement Act of 2000.[149][150] In 2003, Hastert publicly called for legislation to "put repeat child molesters into jail for the rest of their lives."[150]
Hastert resigned his lobbyist position at the law and lobbying firm Dickstein Shapiro the day the indictment was unsealed.[126][127][128] His biography was quickly removed from the firm's website and the firm purged all mentions of him from its previously posted press releases.[125] Hastert's resignation left the firm "reeling," according to a report in Politico.[125] Following the Hastert indictment, Dickstein Shapiro's biggest domestic client, Fuels America, terminated its lobbying contract with the firm.[125]
On May 29, 2015, Yorkville Community Unit School District 115 released a statement reading: "The District was first made aware of any concerns regarding Mr. Hastert when the federal indictment was released on May 28, 2015. Yorkville Community Unit School District #115 has no knowledge of Mr. Hastert's alleged misconduct, nor has any individual contacted the District to report any such misconduct. If requested to do so, the District plans to cooperate fully with the U.S. Attorney's investigation into this matter."[151] James Harnett, who was superintendent of the school district for five of the years that Hastert taught there, told the Chicago Tribune that he was not aware of any complaints of misconduct brought against Hastert at the time.[31]
On May 29, 2015, Senator Mark Kirk, Republican of Illinois, who served in the House throughout Hastert's tenure as speaker, released a statement reading: "Anyone who knows Denny is shocked and confused by the recent news. The former speaker should be afforded, like any other American, his day in court to address these very serious accusations. This is a very troubling development that we must learn more about, but I am thinking of his family during this difficult time."[31] On June 4, 2015, Kirk announced that he would donate to charity a $10,000 contribution made to Kirk's 2010 Senate campaign by Hastert's Keep our Mission PAC.[152] Kirk's announcement was made following the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC)'s call upon the senator to "return or donate Denny Hastert's money immediately."[153] The DSCC also called upon Republican Senators John Boozman of Arkansas and Roy Blunt of Missouri (who received $11,000 and $5,000, respectively, from Hastert's PAC in recent years) to return or donate the funds.[152]
On May 30, 2015, Illinois's other senator, Dick Durbin, a Democrat, stated: "It seems so out of character for Denny. I just never could imagine that he'd be involved in anything like this ... We had our political differences, as you might expect, but I respected him as a colleague in the Illinois delegation and as Speaker."[154]
On May 29, 2015, White House Press SecretaryJosh Earnest stated in response to a reporter's question that "there is nobody here" at the White House "who derives any pleasure from reading about the former Speaker's legal troubles at this point."[155][156] On the same day, House Speaker John Boehner, Republican of Ohio, issued a statement saying: "The Denny I served with worked hard on behalf of his constituents and the country. I'm shocked and saddened to learn of these reports."[11][157]
On June 2, 2015, current Federal Housing Finance Agency director and former U.S. Representative Mel Watt, Democrat of North Carolina, released a statement saying: "Over 15 years ago I heard an unseemly rumor from someone who, contrary to what has been reported, was not an intermediary or advocate for the alleged victim's family. It would not be the first nor last time that I, as a Member of Congress, would hear rumors or innuendoes about colleagues. I had no direct knowledge of any abuse by former Speaker Hastert and, therefore, took no action."[158]
The Hastert scandal was named by MSNBC as "top political sex scandals of 2015,"[159] by the Associated Press as one of "top 10 Illinois stories of 2015,"[160] and by ABC News as one of the "biggest moments on Capitol Hill in 2015."[161] Hastert's sentencing was also named by the Associated Press as one of "top 10 Illinois stories of 2016."[162]
Investigation and prosecution [ edit] Federal investigation into hush-money scheme [ edit] According to a 2017 interview with the two special agents leading the investigations '-- one from the FBI and the other from the IRS Criminal Investigation Division '-- "Hastert had been on the FBI's radar as early as November 2012 '-- even before the FBI and IRS began investigating the suspicious cash withdrawals that were Hastert's downfall."[137] The inquiry was first prompted by allegations that Hastert had used his taxpayer-funded Office of the Former Speaker to further his private business ventures, something that Hastert was never charged with.[137] In 2013, the FBI and IRS began investigating Hastert's cash withdrawals, and in early 2015 they had learned about the "hush money" agreement between "Individual A" and Hastert.[137] In a December 8, 2014 interview, Hastert lied to the federal agents about the purpose of the withdrawals, leading to his federal prosecution.[137]
Indictment [ edit] On May 28, 2015, a seven-page indictment of Hastert by a federal grand jury was unsealed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in Chicago.[2][3][163][164]
The indictment charged Hastert with unlawfully structuring the withdrawal of $952,000 in cash in order to evade the requirement that banks report cash transactions over US$ 10,000 (Title 31, United States Code, Section 5324(a)(3)), and making false statements to the FBI about the purpose of his withdrawals (Title 18, United States Code, Section 1001(a)(2)). The indictment alleges that Hastert agreed to make payments of $3.5 million to an unnamed subject (identified in the indictment only as an "Individual A" from Yorkville, Illinois, who was known to Hastert for "most of Individual A's life"). The indictment states that the payments were to "compensate for and conceal [Hastert's] prior misconduct." Yorkville is the town where Hastert was a high school teacher for 16 years.[3][163][165] Federal authorities began investigating his withdrawals in 2013.[166] In late 2014, after being questioned about the withdrawals, Hastert said that he did not trust banks; shortly afterward, Hastert changed his story, saying that he "was the victim of extortion by Individual A for false molestation accusations."[18]
The indictment itself did not specify the exact nature of the "past misconduct" referred to.[28] The U.S. Attorney's Office limited details in the indictment of Hastert, in part because of a request from Hastert's attorneys.[167][168][169]
In June 2015, The New York Times reported that Hastert had approached a business associate, J. David John, in 2010, to look for a financial adviser to come up with an annuity plan that would "generate a substantial cash payout each year."[170] This request was the same year that prosecutors say he agreed to start paying hush money to the person he allegedly committed misconduct against.[171] John told the New York Times that "I did not think much about it at the time, but looking back at it, it does seem strange. He just said he needed to generate some cash."[170]
On May 29, Hastert was released on his own recognizance on a preliminary bail of $4,500 set by a magistrate judge.[130][168]
Arraignment and pretrial proceedings [ edit] The case was assigned to U.S. District Judge Thomas M. Durkin.[28] Hastert was scheduled to be arraigned on June 4, 2015.[172] The arraignment was then postponed to June 9.[173] In between the unsealing of the indictment and the arraignment, Hastert made no public appearances and did not release any public statement.[174][175] However, on May 29, 2015, CBS Chicago reported that Hastert had privately told close friends that "I am a victim, too" and that he was sorry they had to go through the ordeal.[176]
The criminal defense attorney Barry William Levine, a partner at Hastert's former firm of Dickstein Shapiro, appeared as Hastert's lawyer on a notice of arraignment filed with the U.S. district court.[177] However, Levine did not enter an appearance on Hastert's behalf.[125][177] Hastert subsequently hired attorney Thomas C. Green to provide his legal defense. Green entered an appearance with the court on June 8, the day before the arraignment.[7] Green is a white-collar criminal defense lawyer and senior counsel at the Washington, D.C. office of the law firm Sidley Austin.[178][179] Green has represented clients in several national controversies, including several government officials in the Whitewater scandal, Richard V. Secord in the Iran-Contra scandal, and Robert Mardian in the Watergate scandal.[178][179]
The prosecutors assigned to the case were originally Assistant United States Attorneys Steven Block and Carrie Hamilton.[180] Hamilton left the U.S. Attorney's Office in July 2015 after being appointed as a judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County; Diane MacArthur replaced Hamilton on the Hastert prosecution team.[180]
The arraignment was held on June 9, 2015. The arraignment generated a degree of media interest at the Illinois federal courthouse not seen since the proceedings against Illinois governors Rod Blagojevich and George Ryan on corruption charges.[181][182] The Chicago Tribune reported: "Hastert's entrance and exit from the courthouse touched off a wild scene as federal Homeland Security agents escorted Hastert and his attorneys to and from a waiting vehicle amid a crush of television news crews and photographers."[183]
On that day, before the hearing, prosecutors filed a bail report and supplementary document under seal. (Such reports are often filed under seal because they include financial information about a defendant and sometimes unreleased details relating to the investigation).[7] Before the arraignment, Hastert arrived at The Loop offices of Sidley Austin, his attorney's law firm, and at the courthouse met with the pretrial services office.[7][8]
At the twenty-minute arraignment hearing at the Dirksen federal courthouse before Durkin, Hastert entered a plea of not guilty.[7][8][184] Durkin set a $4,500 unsecured bond as well as various other conditions of pretrial release, and Hastert surrendered his passport.[185]
Much of the arraignment was spent on Durkin's disclosure of his connections with Hastert. Durkin contributed $500 in 2002 and $1000 in 2004 to the Hastert for Congress campaign; the contributions were made while Durkin was a partner at the law firm Mayer Brown, before he was appointed to the federal bench in 2012,[186] and Hastert's son Ethan is a partner at Mayer Brown.[186] At the arraignment, Durkin stated he had never met Hastert and that "I have no doubt I can be impartial in this matter," but also said that "I am not naive enough to think that a reasonable person would not question my impartiality" and gave the parties time to decide whether to object and thus trigger the reassignment of the case to a different judge.[184][185][187] On June 11, federal prosecutors and Hastert's lawyers filed notices waiving any objection to Durkin presiding over the case.[188][189]
In separate court filings on June 11, ABC News' chief investigative correspondent Brian Ross and NBC Nightly News reporter Gabe Gutierrez were cited for violating Dirksen U.S. Courthouse general orders during the arraignment for attempting to interview Hastert in an unauthorized area in the lobby. (Court rules allow interviews only in a roped-off "media bullpen" area).[183][190] In court filings posted on June 30, Chief U.S. District Judge Ruben Castillo dismissed the contempt filings after accepting apologies offered by their attorneys on their behalf.[191]
On June 12, federal prosecutors, with the agreement of Hastert's attorneys, filed a motion for a protective order, seeking to bar the public disclosure of the identity of "Individual A" and other sensitive information.[192] The motion states that "the discovery to be provided by the government in this case includes sensitive information, the unrestricted dissemination of which could adversely affect law enforcement interests and the privacy interests of third parties."[192] The proposed order would direct the parties to file under seal any such sensitive information.[192]
On June 15, Hastert canceled a scheduled appearance at an Illinois Broadcasters Association event.[193]
On June 16, Judge Durkin granted the motion for a protective order,[194][195] but did not yet sign an order.[196]
At a status hearing on June 18 (which Hastert did not attend), Hastert's attorney Green stated that "Something has to be done to stop these leaks. They're unconscionable, and they have to stop."[196] Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Block told Durkin that prosecutors were also troubled by the leaks and that the government is "doing everything we can" to stop them.[196] At the same status conference, Durkin told the attorneys that he plans to modify the protective order to make it less restrictive.[196] Rather than having all material that might be considered sensitive filed under seal, Durkin said that he might grant a motion directing lawyers to file a motion requesting that the material be filed under seal first.[196] If Durkin granted such a motion, the attorneys would file both a complete copy under seal and a redacted copy that would be publicly available.[196]
At a status hearing on July 14 (which Hastert again did not attend), the parties updated the court on preparations for trial.[197] At the hearing, Green again condemned leaks, stating in court: "The indictment has effectively been amended by leaks from the government. It is now an 800-pound gorilla in this case. It has been injected in this case I think impermissibly. (The question is) whether I wrestle with that gorilla or I don't wrestle with that gorilla."[198] Green also said that the defense would file a motion to dismiss the indictment, possibly under seal.[198] Judge Durkin "cautioned that even if he allows part or all of the motion to be hidden from the public, his ruling would be public and likely would disclose sealed portions of the motion."[198] At the same hearing, the prosecution said that they expected a trial to last about two weeks.[198]
Hastert shut down his "Keep Our Mission" leadership PAC at the end of June 2015 and transferred $10,000 (the vast majority of the PAC's remaining funds) to a new legal defense fund, the J. Dennis Hastert Defense Trust.[199][200] A Federal Elections Commission report lists the defense fund's address as a Sunapee, New Hampshire property owned by Republican donor and ex-Gerald Ford White House staffer James Rooney.[199]
Guilty plea [ edit] On September 11, 2015, Judge Durkin granted a joint motion by the government and by Hastert to extend the deadline for filing pretrial motions for two weeks, "giving the two sides more time for discussions they have been engaged in."[201] On September 22, the parties filed another joint motion requesting another two-week extension (from September 28 to October 13); the motion said that the parties were discussing issues that Hastert "may raise in pretrial motions" but provided no details.[202] At a hearing on September 28, Hastert's attorneys and the government confirmed that they were discussing a possible plea agreement. Judge Durkin said that if no plea agreement was reached, he wanted the case to go to trial in March or April 2016.[203] Pretrial motions were due on October 13, but none were filed, indicating that Hastert and the government "were nearing a plea deal."[164]
On October 15, 2015, it was announced at a court hearing that Hastert and federal prosecutors had reached a plea agreement.[164] On October 28, 2015, under the plea agreement, Hastert appeared in court (the only time Hastert appeared personally in court after the arraignment) and pleaded guilty to the felony "structuring" charge,[15][204] and the charge of "making false statements" (lying to the FBI) was dismissed.[205]
Hastert said in court: "I didn't want them [bank officials] to know how I intended to spend the money. I withdrew the money in less than $10,000 increments."[204] Possible sentences within a preliminary Federal Sentencing Guidelines calculation ranged from probation to six months in prison.[15][206][207]
The plea agreement allowed Hastert "to avoid a potentially long and embarrassing trial" and was thought to enable him to "keep secret information that he has hidden for years."[15][164][204]
Admission of sexual abuse and sentencing proceedings [ edit] Soon after pleading guilty, Hastert suffered a stroke, and was hospitalized from November 2015 to January 15, 2016.[207] Hastert remained free on bail pending sentencing.[205]
Sentencing was originally set for February 29, 2016.[204] However, in late January 2016, Hastert's attorneys asked the court to delay sentencing due to Hastert's ongoing health problems,[207] and Judge Durkin postponed sentencing until April 8, 2016.[208] In March 2016, Judge Durkin ordered the appointment of a medical expert to review Hastert's health in preparation for sentencing.[209] Later in March 2016, Judge Durkin postponed the sentencing hearing (over the objection of Hastert's attorneys) to April 27 so that a man who alleged sexual abuse by Hastert (identified as "Individual D" in court) could testify at the sentencing.[210]
In early April 2016, the parties filed submissions in court ahead of sentencing.[16] The maximum sentence for the offense was five years in prison and a $250,000 fine,[127] although the Federal Sentencing Guidelines range was from probation to six months.[15][206] Hastert asked for probation.[18][16] Hastert released a statement through his counsel saying: "Mr. Hastert acknowledges that as a young man, he committed transgressions for which he is profoundly sorry. He earnestly apologizes to his former students, family, friends, previous constituents and all others affected by the harm his actions have caused."[16][211] Hastert did not provide details.[16][211]
Hastert also filed under seal a response to the government's presentence investigation report.[16] In the prosecution's filing ahead of sentencing, federal prosecutors made allegations of sexual misconduct against Hastert (the first time they had done so publicly), saying that he had molested at least four boys as young as 14 (including Steve Reinboldt and others) while he worked as a high school wrestling coach decades earlier.[16] In a 26-page filing, prosecutors detailed "specific, graphic incidents" of sexual acts.[16][212] Prosecutors asked for a six-month sentence, as called for under federal sentencing guidelines.[16] Prosecutors also requested the court to order Hastert to undergo a sex offender evaluation and comply with any recommended treatment.[16] While Hastert's health problems had the possibility to help him avoid prison,[213] prosecutors noted in their court filing that he could receive medical treatment while incarcerated, if necessary.[16]
Sixty letters asking for leniency for Hastert were submitted to the court ahead of sentencing, but nineteen of these letters were withdrawn after Judge Durkin said that he would not consider any letters that were not made public.[214] Of the forty-one letters that were made public, several were from current or former members of Congress: John T. Doolittle, David Dreier, Thomas W. Ewing, and Porter Goss (who also is a former CIA director).[215] The Chicago Tribune noted that DeLay and Doolittle had "have had legal troubles of their own" stemming from the Abramoff scandal, although DeLay's conviction in that scandal was later overturned and Doolittle was never charged.[214] Other supporters of Hastert who wrote letters on his behalf included his family members; former Illinois Attorney GeneralTyrone C. Fahner; "local leaders, board members, police officers and others from his home base in rural Kendall County"; and "several members of Illinois' wrestling community."[214]
At the sentencing hearing on April 27, 2016, the government presented two witnesses. Jolene Burdge, the sister of Stephen Reinboldt, read a letter that her brother had written shortly before his death in 1995. Addressing Hastert, Burdge stated that she wanted to "hold you accountable for sexually abusing my brother. I knew your secret, and you couldn't bribe or intimidate your way out. ... You think you can deny your abuse of Steve because he can no longer speak for himself -- that's why I'm here."[17]
The second witness was Scott Cross ("Individual D") who publicly identified himself for the first time. Cross gave emotional testimony, telling the court that Hastert, whom he had trusted, had abused him and caused him to experience "intense pain, shame and guilt."[18][17][216] Cross's oldest brother is longtime Illinois House of Representatives Republican leader Tom Cross, a political prot(C)g(C) of Hastert's.[17][216]
Addressing the court, Hastert'--who had arrived at court in a wheelchair'--read from a written statement, apologizing for having "mistreated athletes."[17] After being pressed by the judge, Hastert admitted to sexually abusing boys whom he coached, saying that he had molested "Individual B" and did not remember some of the others.[17] Hastert said he did not remember abusing Cross, "but I accept his statement."[17] Hastert stated "what I did was wrong and I regret it ... I took advantage of them."[17] Hastert also acknowledged that he had misled the FBI.[17] Judge Durkin referred to Hastert as a "serial child molester" and imposed a sentence of fifteen months in prison, two years' supervised release, including sex-offender treatment, and a $250,000 fine.[18][1] Hastert is "one of the highest-ranking politicians in American history to be sentenced to prison."[1]
Hastert cannot be prosecuted for sexual abuse because the statute of limitations has expired for his conduct decades earlier.[217]
Reactions to Hastert case [ edit] Following the sentence, the Chicago Tribune editorial board praised "the bravery of the victims and their families who confronted the man who was once second in line to be president" and wrote of the sentence: "The enduring impact is that the truth has been revealed. And for as long as the name Dennis Hastert is recalled, the man once respected as a leader will be known as a criminal, a scoundrel, a child molester."[218] The Washington Post editorial board hailed the sentence, writing that Hastert's victims "should not have had to struggle with what Mr. Hastert did to them all the while they watched him rise in stature and power."[219] The Post called for extending statutes of limitations in sex-abuse cases to give victims more time to come forward and prosecutors more time to pursue perpetrators.[219]New York Times columnist Frank Bruni wrote that Hastert's case underscored the danger that comes with the "quickness and frequency with which so many of us equate displays of religious devotion with actual rectitude," noting that Hastert's public displays of Christian faith during his time in office were "a factor in his colleagues' assessments of him as safe, uncontroversial."[220] Bruni also critiqued the testimonials that prominent Republicans submitted on Hastert's behalf before sentencing, saying that these "affirm the degree to which pacts rather than principle govern partisan politics today."[220]
Jacob Sullum of Reason magazine opined that the financial "structuring" offense of which Hastert was convicted "should not be a crime ...even if it occasionally provides the means for punishing actual criminals who would otherwise escape justice."[221]Conor Friedersdorf of The Atlantic expressed similar views, writing: "The alarming aspect of this case is the fact that an American is ultimately being prosecuted for the crime of evading federal government surveillance."[222]
The Hastert scandal was one motivation for the advance of legislation in the Illinois General Assembly to eliminate the statute of limitations for all felony child abuse and sexual assault offenses.[223] The measure unanimously passed the state Senate in March 2017.[224]
Civil lawsuits against Hastert [ edit] "Individual A" / "James Brown" lawsuit [ edit] In April 2016, "Individual A" commenced an action against Hastert for breach of contract in Illinois state court, in Kendall County. "Individual A" (suing under pseudonym "James Brown") seeks to collect the remaining $1.8 million in "hush money" allegedly promised to him by Hastert.[225][226] In the complaint, "Individual A" alleges that he was molested at age 14 by Hastert and that he confronted Hastert after having a conversation in 2008 with another person who said they had been abused by Hastert.[225] Individual A alleges that he suffered panic attacks and other problems for years as a result of the abuse.[225]
Hastert moved to dismiss the case, arguing that the statute of limitations had expired.[226] Hastert also counterclaimed for return of the hush money, alleging that "Individual A" violated a verbal agreement with him by disclosing the sexual abuse to federal authorities.[226][227] In November 2016, the court denied Hastert's motion to dismiss.[228] In March 2017, the attorney for "Individual A" suggested that the case would likely be resolved by an out-of-court settlement.[229]
"Richard Doe" lawsuit [ edit] In May 2016, a second man filed a lawsuit against Hastert. In his complaint, the man alleges that Hastert sexually assaulting him in the bathroom of a community building in Yorkville in the summer of either 1973 or 1974, when the man was nine or ten years old and in the fourth grade. The complaint gives details of the alleged violent assault'--and the man's threats if he reported what occurred'--and says that the boy only recognized Hastert as the assailant after Hastert appeared at Yorkville Grade School in gym class.[230][231] A Kendall County granted the man's motion to proceed anonymously as plaintiff under the "Richard Doe" pseudonym.[230] In the complaint, the man stated that when he was 20 or 21 years old, he comprehended what had occurred and reported the crime to the Kendall County State's Attorney's Office, but that then-state's attorney Dallas C. Ingemunson "threatened to charge him with a crime and accused him of slandering Hastert's name."[230] Ingemunson denies this allegation, calling it "bogus."[230] In May 2016, "Richard Doe" filed a report with the Kendall County Sheriff's Office, but the state's attorney's office determined that the statute of limitations barred a complaint against anyone."[230]NBC Chicago obtained a redacted version of the Sheriff's Office police report.[231]
In November 2017, this lawsuit was dismissed due to the expiration of the statute of limitations years earlier.[232][233]
Imprisonment and life post-sentencing [ edit] Prison [ edit] Hastert did not appeal his conviction or sentence.[234] Shortly after being sentenced, Hastert paid the $250,000 fine[235] and was ordered to report to prison on June 22, 2016.[236] On that date, Hastert reported to the Federal Medical Center, Rochester in Minnesota to begin his prison term.[237]
In July 2017, after serving about 13 months of a 15-month sentence, Hastert was released from federal prison and returned to Chicago under "residential re-entry management" supervision.[19][238]
Effect on pensions [ edit] Soon after sentencing, the Illinois Teachers' Retirement System announced that Hastert would forfeit future teachers' pension benefits, effective immediately, due to a state law depriving pension benefits from educators who are convicted of felonies relating to their employment.[239] Hastert is challenging the System's decision to terminate his pension (which amounted to about $16,000 a year) on the ground that the specific federal crimes of which he was convicted was not directly related to his time as a teacher.[240]
Hastert's pension for his service in the Illinois General Assembly '-- about $28,000 a year[240] '-- was originally unaffected.[239] However, in October 2016, the General Assembly Retirement System board of trustees unanimously voted to suspend Hastert's pension,[240] and in April 2017 the board voted, 5-2, to terminate the pension.[241] The decision came after an earlier recommendation from the state attorney general's office that the board reduce Hastert's pension to $9,000 per year.[242] Board member Michael J. Zalewski voted to terminate the pension, while State Representative David Harris voted against termination, saying that he preferred reducing the pension instead, as recommended by the state Attorney General's Office.[243]
Notwithstanding his conviction, Hastert continues to receive his congressional pension,[244] which amounts to about $73,000 a year.[240]
Electoral history [ edit] U.S. House of Representatives: Illinois's 14th district [ edit] 1986 election[245]J. Dennis Hastert (R), 77,288 votes (52%)Mary Lou Kearns (D), 70,293 votes (48%)1988 election[246]J. Dennis Hastert (R) (inc.), 161,146 votes (74%)Stephen Youhanaie (D), 57,482 votes (26%)1991 election[247]J. Dennis Hastert (R) (inc.), 112,383 votes (67%)Donald Westphal (D), 55,592 votes (33%)1992 election[248]J. Dennis Hastert (R) (inc.), 155,271 votes (67%)Jonathan Abram Reich (D), 75,294 votes (33%)Write-in, 59 votes (0%)1994 election[249]J. Dennis Hastert (R) (inc.), 110,204 votes (76%)Steve Denari (D), 33,891 votes (26%)1996 election[250]J. Dennis Hastert (R) (inc.), 134,432 votes (64%)Doug Mains (D), 74,322 (36%)1998 election[251]J. Dennis Hastert (R) (inc.), 117,304 votes (70%)Robert A. Cozzi, Jr. (D), 50,844 votes (30%)2000 election[252]J. Dennis Hastert (R) (inc.), 188,597 votes (74%)Vern Deljohnson (D), 66,309 votes (26%)Write-in, 3 votes (0%)2002 election[253]J. Dennis Hastert (R) (inc.), 135,198 votes (74%)Lawrence J. Quick (D), 47,165 votes (26%)2004 election[254]J. Dennis Hastert (R) (inc.), 191,618 votes (69%)Ruben Zamora (D), 87,590 votes (31%)2006 election[255]J. Dennis Hastert (R) (inc.), 117,870 votes (60%)Jonathan "John" Laesch (D), 79,274 votes (40%)In December 1999, Northern Illinois University conferred an honoraryLL.D. degree upon Hastert.[257] In November 2015, following Hastert's guilty plea, an NIU spokesman said that "Hastert's fall from grace is so recent that university officials have not discussed taking back the honor."[258] The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests called for NIU to rescind Hastert's honorary degree after he pleaded guilty,[259] and the DeKalb Daily Chronicle did the same following Hastert's sentencing.[260] In May 2016, NIU's board of trustees unanimously voted to revoke Hastert's honorary degree.[261]
In 2002, Lewis University conferred an honorary degree upon Hastert. In 2015, following his conviction, the university said that it was "reviewing the status of the honorary degree."[258]
The National Wrestling Hall of Fame awarded Hastert its Order of Merit in 1995 and named Hastert to its "Hall of Outstanding Americans" in 2000.[262][263][264] In May 2016, a few days after Hastert was sentenced to prison, the Hall of Fame (following a review[262]) revoked all of Hastert's honors, the first time the organization has ever done so.[265]
The Three Fires Council of the Boy Scouts of America has honored Hastert with its distinguished service award.[31][263]
In March 2001, PresidentValdas Adamkus of Lithuania presented Hastert with the Grand Cross of the Order of the Lithuanian Grand Duke Gediminas.[26][266] In 2004, Hastert was presented the Order of the Oak Crown, Grand Cross by the grand duke of Luxembourg.[26]
In 2007, the J. Dennis Hastert Center for Economics, Government and Public Policy was founded at Wheaton College, the former Speaker's alma mater.[267] Hastert resigned from the board of advisers of the center on May 29, 2015, after the indictment against him was released.[268] On May 31, 2015, the college announced that it was removing his name from the center, renaming it the Wheaton College Center for Economics, Government, and Public Policy.[269]
In 2009, Hastert's official portrait was unveiled and placed in the Speaker's Lobby adjacent to the House chamber, alongside portraits of other past House speakers. The 5' by 3½' portrait, executed by Westchester County, New York artist Laurel Stern Boeck, cost $35,000 in taxpayer funds.[256][263] On June 4, 2015, SNAP, an organization of victims of child sexual abuse, called upon House Speaker Boehner to remove the portrait of Hastert from the Capitol.[263][270] It was not until November 2015, however, the week after Hastert's guilty plea in his criminal case, that the portrait was removed from the Speaker's Lobby on orders of the new speaker, Paul Ryan.[271]
In May 2009, Hastert accepted the Grand Cross of the Order of San Carlos from lvaro Uribe, the president of Colombia.[26][272]
In May 2010, Hastert accepted the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun from Akihito, emperor of Japan.[20][273]
In 2012, a plaque funded by private donors, "bearing Hastert's likeness and a list of his accomplishments," was placed in the historic Kendall County Courthouse in downtown Yorkville.[263] The plaque was taken down in 2015, following Hastert's conviction.[274]
In early May 2015 (before the indictment was released), a proposal in the Illinois Legislature to spend $500,000 to commission and install a statue of Hastert in the Illinois State Capitol was withdrawn at Hastert's request. Hastert called the measure's sponsor (Michael Madigan, the speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives) and stated that "he appreciated the recognition and honor" but asked that it be deferred given the "fiscal condition" of the state.[275][276]
In 2015, following the unsealing of the indictment against Hastert the previous month, the Denny Hastert Yorkville Invitational, a popular wrestling tournaments in Illinois,[277] was renamed the Fighting Foxes Invitational.[278]
Health issues [ edit] Hastert suffers from type 2 diabetes and requires daily insulin injections.[279][20][280] Because of his condition, he sometimes walked with protective coverings on his feet to avoid foot problems.[5]
Hastert has received treatment for kidney stones at least three times. In 2005, he underwent minor surgery at Bethesda Naval Hospital to remove kidney stones.[280] In 2006, Hastert was hospitalized for cellulitis (a type of bacterial skin infection).[281]
In November 2015, the week after entering a guilty plea in federal court, Hastert suffered a stroke and was hospitalized until January 15, 2016.[207] According to his attorney, Hastert was additionally treated for sepsis and a blood infection, and underwent two back operations.[206][213] At a court hearing in February 2016, Hastert's attorney said that Hastert "nearly died" from the blood infection.[208]
Family and personal life [ edit] Hastert has been married to Jean Hastert (n(C)e Kahl) since 1973.[20] They have two children, Ethan and Joshua.[20] Hastert's older son, Joshua, was a lobbyist for the firm PodestaMattoon,[282] representing clients ranging from Amgen, a biotech company, to Lockheed Martin, a defense contractor. This provoked criticism from Congress Watch: "There definitely should be restrictions [on family members registering as lobbyists] ... This is family members cashing in on connections ... [and it] is an ideal opportunity for special interest groups to exploit family relationships for personal gain." Joshua rejoined that he does not lobby House Republican leaders.[283]
Hastert's son Ethan ran in 2010 as a Republican for his father's old congressional seat (Illinois' 14th congressional district), but was defeated in the primary by Illinois State Senator Randy Hultgren.[284] Hultgren received 55 percent of the vote, while Hastert received 45 percent.[284] In 2011, Ethan won a seat on the village board of Elburn, Illinois.[285] Ethan left the Elburn village board in 2014 because he and his family moved to nearby Campton Hills.[286] Ethan is a partner at the Chicago office of the law firm Mayer Brown.[5][287]
Hastert's hobbies include carving and painting duck decoys, and collecting and restoring vintage cars.[21][25][288][289]
A dark green 1942 Lincoln Zephyr from Hastert's personal collection (with "42 SPKR" Illinois license plates) is in the collection of the Volo Auto Museum in Volo, Illinois. The museum purchased the car in 2007. It has been on display at the Belvidere Oasis of the Illinois Tollway since May 2015.[290] In June 2015, following the allegations against Hastert, the museum announced that the car would be removed from display.[291]
Though he was chauffeured when he became speaker, Hastert used to drive vehicles with "CONG14" and "USHR14" vanity plates (references to Illinois's 14th congressional district) and a "CDWHIP2" vanity plate (referring to his position as chief deputy whip).[25]
See also [ edit] References [ edit] ^ abcd Associated Press, The Latest: Dennis Hastert Sentenced to 15 Months in Prison (April 27, 2016). ^ ab United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, Federal Grand Jury Indictment (February 2014), Federal Grand Jury Indictment(PDF) ^ abc Term, Michael (May 28, 2015). "Ex-US Speaker Hastert indicted on bank-related charges". Yahoo News. Retrieved May 28, 2015 . ^ "Ex-House Speaker Hastert charged with evading currency rules and lying to FBI". Chicago Tribune. Chicago. May 28, 2015. Retrieved 2015-05-28 . ^ abcde Jon Seidel, Lynn Sweet & Natasha Korecki, Feds charge former House Speaker Dennis Hastert paid hush money, tried to cover it up, Chicago Sun-Times (May 28, 2015). ^ "Hastert charged with lying to FBI". Chicago Daily Herald. Chicago. May 28, 2015. Retrieved 2015-06-02 . ^ abcde Jason Meisner & Steve Schmadeke, Dennis Hastert pleads not guilty to lying to FBI about hush money, Chicago Tribune. ^ abc Monica Davey, Dennis Hastert Pleads Not Guilty in Chicago Court, The New York Times (June 9, 2015). ^ ab Christine Hauser, Woman Says Dennis Hastert Abused Her Brother in High School, The New York Times (June 5, 2015). ^ abcdefghijklmno Brian Ross, Rhonda Schwartz & John Capell, Exclusive: Alleged Dennis Hastert Sex Abuse Victim Is Named By Family, ABC News, Good Morning America. ^ abcd Shear, Michael D.; Schmidt, Michael S. (May 29, 2015). "Hastert Case Is Said to Be Linked to Decades-Old Sexual Abuse". The New York Times. Retrieved May 29, 2015 . ^ ab Richard A. Serrano & Timothy M. Phelps, A second person accused Hastert of sexual abuse, official says, Los Angeles Times (May 29, 2015). ^ Amy R. Connolly & Doug G. Ware, FBI says three possible sex assault victims in Hastert case, report says, UPI (June 5, 2015). ^ Josh Gerstein, Hastert's Attorneys Complain About Sex-Related Leaks, Politico (June 18, 2015). ^ abcde Monica Davey & Mitch Smith, Dennis Hastert, Ex-Speaker of House, Pleads Guilty, The New York Times (October 28, 2015). ^ abcdefghijk Monica Davey & Mitch Smith, Hastert Molested at Least Four Boys, Prosecutors Say, New York Times (April 8, 2016). ^ abcdefghi Jason Meisner, Jeff Coen & Christy Gutowski, Dennis Hastert, former U.S. House speaker, sentenced to 15 months in prison, Chicago Tribune (April 27, 2016). ^ abcdef Davey, Monica; Bosman, Julie; Smith, Mitch (April 28, 2016). "Dennis Hastert Is Sentenced to 15 Months, and Apologizes for Sex Abuse". The New York Times. p. A1. Retrieved April 27, 2016 . ^ ab Aamer Madhani, Ex-Speaker Dennis Hastert released from federal prison, USA Today (July 18, 2017). ^ abcde Fast Facts: Dennis Hastert, CNN Library (last updated May 28, 2015). ^ abcdefghijklmnopq Lisa Smith, Hastert returns to his humble beginnings after historic career, Daily Herald (February 21, 2008). ^ Hastert, Dennis (2004). Speaker : lessons from forty years in coaching and politics. Regnery. pp. 13''14. ISBN 9780895261267. OCLC 55765706. ^ abcdefghijklmnopqrst Ceci Connolly & Juliet Eilperin, Hastert Steps Up to Leading Role, The Washington Post (January 5, 1999). ^ Ceci Connolly, Plain-Talking Hastert Poised to Be Speaker, The Washington Post (December 21, 1998), Page A1. ^ abcdefghijklmno Bob Kemper, House Speaker Dennis Hastert Can Win Friends, But Can He Influence People?, Chicago Tribune (April 11, 1999). ^ abcde Official biography from Dickstein Shapiro (this profile was removed from the firm's website after Hastert resigned following the announcement of the indictment, but the Internet Archive preserved a copy of the profile as it appeared on March 25, 2015). ^ ab Hastert, p. 214. ^ abcdefg Mike DeBonis, Paul Kane & Mark Berman, Former House speaker Dennis Hastert indicted over alleged secret payments, The Washington Post (May 29, 2015). ^ Carlos Lozada, What Dennis Hastert's memoir reveals about his years as a high school teacher and coach, The Washington Post (May 29, 2015). ^ Emma Bowman, Prosecutors Say Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert Abused At Least 4, NPR (April 9, 2015). ^ abcde Angie Leventis Lourgos, Christy Gutowski & Steve Lord, Ex-Yorkville school chief recalls no misconduct complaints against Hastert, Chicago Tribune (May 29, 2015). ^ David Axelrod, Dennis Hastert's morality play, CNN (March 1, 2016). ^ ab U.S. Clears Rep. Hastert In House Banking Scandal, Chicago Tribune (September 15, 1992). ^ abcd Joe Picard, Hastert recalls his time in the backroom. The Hill (May 20, 2014). ^ Jonathan Allen, Dennis Hastert has a history of keeping secrets (May 29, 2015). ^ ab Mike Dorning & Michael Kilian, Hastert Sticks Gum Money Into The Budget's Fine Print, Chicago Tribune (October 14, 1998). ^ How Congress Works, 5th ed. (Congressional Quarterly Press: 2013), p. 25 ("DeLay was often seen as the 'bad cop' to Hastert's "good cop"). ^ Susan Welch, John Gruhl, John Comer, & Susan Rigdon, Understanding American Government, Alternate Edition (12th ed. 2010), p. 281 ("Hastert became a much more forceful leader, playing velvet-covered mallet to DeLay's hammer in what some saw as a good cop-bad cop ploy."). ^ abcd Jennifer Loven, Hastert moderate-mannered but deeply conservative, Associated Press (December 23, 1998). ^ Michael Arndt & Elaine S. Povich, Nafta Backers Closing In: For Lobbyists, Dash To Deadline, Chicago Tribune (November 17, 1993). ^ ab Michael Kilian, Hastert Goes To Front Lines In Drug War, Chicago Tribune (April 28, 1996). ^ ab Barbara Palmer & Dennis Simon, Breaking the Political Glass Ceiling: Women and Congressional Elections (2d ed. 2008), p. 229. ^ House Committee Assignments, 100th Congress, CQ Almanac 1987. ^ Dennis Hastert: Committees: 100th Congress (1987-1988), C-SPAN. ^ Official Alphabetical List of Members with Committee Assignments for the 101st Congress ^ Official Alphabetical List of Members with Committee Assignments for the 102nd Congress ^ Official Alphabetical List of Members with Committee Assignments for the 103rd Congress ^ Official Alphabetical List of Members with Committee Assignments for the 104th Congress ^ Official Alphabetical List of Members with Committee Assignments for the 105th Congress ^ Official Alphabetical List of Members with Committee Assignments for the 106th Congress ^ Official Alphabetical List of Members with Committee Assignments for the 107th Congress ^ Official Alphabetical List of Members with Committee Assignments for the 108th Congress ^ Official Alphabetical List of Members with Committee Assignments for the 109th Congress ^ Katharine Q. Seelye, Impeachment: The Fallout: Livingston Urges Clinton to Follow Suit, The New York Times (December 20, 1998). ^ abcd Eric Pianin, Livingston Quits as Speaker-Designate, The Washington Post (December 20, 1998), Page A1. ^ abc Michael Dorning, "Dennis Hastert: The Accidental Speaker" in Triumphs and Tragedies of the Modern Congress: Case Studies in Legislative Leadership, (Center for the Study of the Presidency & Congress, 2014; eds. Maxmillian Angerholzer III, James Kitfield, Christopher P. Lu & Norman Ornstein), p. 65-68. ^ Katherine Skiba, Hastert, the accidental House speaker, faces own scandal after noted career, Chicago Tribune (June 4, 2015). ^ ab The 106th Congress: Remarks to Congress by Dennis Hastert in His First Day as Speaker of the House (January 7, 1999), transcribed by the Federal News Service and reprinted by The New York Times. ^ Katharine Q. Seelye, Hastert Is Sworn In as 51st Speaker and Puts Forth a Conciliatory Tone, The New York Times (January 7, 1999). ^ Babington, Charles (November 27, 2004). "Hastert Launches a Partisan Policy". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 1, 2010 . ^ Timothy Noah, The absurdity of the Hastert Rule, MSNBC (September 27, 2013). ^ Molly Ball, Even the Aide Who Coined the Hastert Rule Says the Hastert Rule Isn't Working, Atlantic (July 21, 2013). ^ House Votes Violating the "Hastert Rule"Archived April 17, 2013, at the Wayback Machine., The New York Times. ^ Alex Seitz-Wald, Dennis Hastert: 'There Is No Hastert Rule': The former House Speaker disowns his eponymous rule, National Journal (October 3, 2013). ^ abcde Norm Ornstein, This Isn't Dennis Hastert's First Scandal, The Atlantic (June 3, 2015). ^ Grunwald, Michael; VandeHei, Jim (October 16, 2006). "Hastert's Team Mentality to Be Tested as Foley Scandal Unfolds". The Washington Post. Retrieved November 15, 2012 . ^ DeLay indicted, steps down as majority leader: House leader calls charges 'sham'; Blunt picked as replacement, CNN (September 29, 2005). ^ Jonathan Weisman & Chris Cillizza, DeLay to Resign From Congress, The Washington Post (April 4, 2006). ^ Carl Hulse, Hastert to Tackle Economy in Stages, The New York Times (January 26, 2003). ^ Mark Silva & Rick Pearson, Bush backs Hastert: President 'proud' to stand with speaker during visit, Chicago Tribune (October 13, 2006). ^ ab Ethan Wallison, Hastert and Bush: Respect Fuels Relationship, Roll Call (September 22, 2003). ^ Hulse, Carl (3 May 2016). "Now, Dennis Hastert Seems an Architect of Congressional Dysfunction". The New York Times. pp. A14. Retrieved 4 May 2016 . ^ Dan Morgan, Hastert Directs Millions to Birthplace, The Washington Post (May 29, 2005). ^ ab Juliet Eilperin, Hastert Drawing Crowds of Lobbyists, The Washington Post (March 10, 1999), A1. ^ Crowley, Michael (22 July 2007). "Final Resolution". The New Republic. Retrieved 4 May 2016 . ^ ab David Rose, An Inconvenient Patriot. Vanity Fair (September 2005). ^ Did Speaker Hastert Accept Turkish Bribes to Deny Armenian Genocide and Approve Weapons Sales?. Democracy Now. August 10, 2005. ^ abcd Tom Lansford, 9/11 and the Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq: A Chronology and Reference Guide (ABC-CLIO, 2011). ^ Thomas R. Mockaitis, The Iraq War: A Documentary and Reference Guide (Greenwood, 2012), p. 69. ^ Mike Dorning & Jill Zuckman, Hastert blisters France on Iraq war resistance, Chicago Tribune (February 27, 2003). ^ House Speaker Dennis Hastert visits Iraq, UPI (June 4, 2006). ^ abc Daniel Marans, Patriot Act That Dennis Hastert Passed Led To His Indictment, The Huffington Post (May 28, 2015). ^ Brigitte Greenberg, Republicans 'bullied' by McCain, Hastert says: Speaker claims letters pitching finance bill were intimidating, Associated Press (July 1, 2001). ^ Jill Lawrence, Former House Leaders Say the Current Group Has It Rough, National Journal (September 23, 2013). ^ Senate to vote on McCain-Feingold measure Monday, CNN (March 29, 2001). ^ Mark Strand, Discharging Their Duties, Congressional Institute (March 7, 2008). ^ Paul Singer, Nathan Bomey & Paul Davidson, House uses rare procedure to revive Export-Import bank, USA Today (October 26, 2015). ^ ab Jonathan Weisman & Mike Allen, House Speaker Criticizes McCain: Budget Flap Leads Hastert to Question Senator's GOP Bona Fides, The Washington Post (May 20, 2004). ^ abc Carl Hulse, Fight to Pass Medicare Measure Raised House Speaker's Profile, The New York Times (December 6, 2003). ^ ab Carl Hulse, Inquiry Sought in House Vote on Drug Plan for Medicare, The New York Times (February 2, 2004). ^ ab William Neikirk, Panel chides DeLay over influence use; GOP still backs majority leader, Chicago Tribune (October 8, 2004). ^ "Speaker of the House". Archived from the original on February 20, 2006. Retrieved September 8, 2017 . ^ "Speaker of the House: Speaker's Journal: Welcome to My Blog". Archived from the original on February 16, 2006. Retrieved September 8, 2017 . ^ Associated Press, Hastert is longest-serving GOP speaker (June 1, 2006). ^ Editorial: Hastert and History, Chicago Tribune (June 1, 2006). ^ abcde Hastert Tries Damage Control After Remarks Hit a Nerve, The Washington Post (September 3, 2005). ^ 33:02 to 33:25. Kill the Messenger. SBS Australia, 2007. Documentary. ^ "Hastert contracted to lobby for Turkey". TheHill. ^ Willfully ignorant", Chicago Tribune (December 12, 2006). ^ abcde Panel blasts Hastert in Foley scandal, USA Today (December 8, 2006). ^ abcdefg Matea Gold & Anu Narayanswamy, How Dennis Hastert made a fortune in land deals, The Washington Post (May 29, 2015). ^ abc Melissa McNamara, Speaker Hastert's Land Deal Questioned, CBS/Associated Press (June 22, 2006). ^ ab Paul Merrion, Group claims Hastert benefited from highway bill, Crain's Chicago Business (June 14, 2006). ^ abcdef Norman Ornstein & Scott Lilly, Worse than FoleyGate, New Republic (October 13, 2006) (reprinted by the Center for American Progress). ^ ab James Kimberly & Andrew Zajac, From the archives: How Hastert benefited from real estate sale, Chicago Tribune (June 18, 2006). ^ ab Hastert's Prairie Parkway suffers two likely fatal blows, Crain's Chicago Business (August 23, 2012). ^ Bruce Alpert, Dennis Hastert, who faces federal indictment, criticized 2006 raid of William Jefferson's office, New Orleans Times-Picayune (July 14, 2015). ^ Dan Eggen & Allan Lengel, Officials Defend Raid on Lawmaker's Office, The Washington Post (May 24, 2006). ^ Carl Hulse, On Wave of Voter Unrest, Democrats Take Control of House, The New York Times (November 8, 2006). ^ Hastert says he won't run for minority leader, NBC News (November 9, 2006). ^ ab Andrew Taylor, GOP Chooses Boehner as Minority Leader, Associated Press (November 17, 2006). ^ Lauren W. Whittington & Matthew Murray, Hastert Likely to Announce Resignation, Roll Call (October 17, 2007). ^ Speaker Hastert Farewell: Outgoing House Speaker Dennis Hastert gave a farewell speech, followed by a speech praising his work by incoming Speaker Nancy Pelosi, C-SPAN. ^ Christi Parsons & Rick Pearson, Hastert farewell urges civility: Departing Illinois Republican laments 'bitterness' in capital, Chicago Tribune (November 16, 2007). ^ Associated Press, Hastert Submits Official Resignation Letter (November 26, 2007). ^ ab James Kimberly, Hastert backs Oberweis, Burns drops out, Chicago Tribune (December 14, 2007). ^ Democrats Pick Up Hastert's Seat, CBS News/The Politico (March 8, 2008). ^ Alexander Burns, Top 10 political upsets of 2008, Politico, December 29, 2008. ^ abcdef Katherine Skiba, Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert's private ventures, Chicago Tribune (February 17, 2010). ^ abcdefg Jonathan Weisman, After Speakership, Hastert Amassed His Millions Lobbying Former Colleagues, The New York Times (May 30, 2015). ^ abcdefg Katherine Skiba, Final tab on Hastert's post-Congress office: $1.9 million, Chicago Tribune (March 22, 2013). ^ abcd Shane Goldmacher, Dennis Hastert Defends Turkey Trip as 'Exclusively Within the Rules', National Journal (January 16, 2015). ^ ab Shane Goldmacher, How Lobbyists Still Fly Through Loopholes: Even after the Abramoff reforms, companies and countries looking to sway Congress find ways to ply lawmakers with fancy overseas trips, National Journal (January 10, 2013). ^ ab Alan K. Ota, Hastert Delivers Personal Pitch for Ethanol, Roll Call (March 25, 2015). ^ abcde Tarini Parti & Anna Palmer, Dennis Hastert's lobbying firm reeling after indictment, Politico (June 4, 2015). ^ ab Megan R. Wilson, Hastert resigns lobbying position after indictment, The Hill (May 28, 2015). ^ abc Monica Daveymay, U.S. Accuses Ex-House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert of Paying to Hide 'Misconduct', The New York Times (May 28, 2015). ^ ab Karey van Hall & Nirvi Shah, Even as feds closed in, Dennis Hastert took on new lobbying clients, Politico (May 28, 2015). ^ Tarini, Parti. "How Dennis Hastert made his millions". Politico. Archived from the original on June 1, 2015. Retrieved June 2, 2015 . ^ abc Andrew Grossman & Ben Kesling, Bail Set for Indicted Former House of Representatives Speaker Dennis Hastert, The Wall Street Journal (May 29, 2015). ^ abcde Christopher Flavelle, Perks for Former Speaker, Despite Lobbying Job, ProPublica (December 21, 2009). ^ abcd Jake Sherman & John Bresnahan, Former speaker gets pricey perksArchived May 29, 2015, at the Wayback Machine., Politico (December 21, 2009). ^ abc Katherine Skiba & Todd Lighty, Hastert used government office for private business, Chicago Tribune (November 14, 2012). ^ abcde Josh Gerstein, Hastert faces double trouble as lawsuit proceeds, Politico (July 23, 2015). ^ abcd Josh Gerstein, Dennis Hastert charges cast light on 2013 lawsuit: Was this what tipped off the feds?, Politico (May 31, 2015). ^ abc Jonathan Bilyk, Judge tosses lawsuit accusing former U.S. House Speaker of improperly using taxpayer-funded office, Cook County Record (September 25, 2014). ^ abcde Jon Seidel, Feds: How we made case against ex-House Speaker Dennis Hastert, Chicago Sun-Times (April 7, 2017). ^ Katelyn Polantz, Dennis Hastert's Son, a Lawyer, Replaced In Representing Father, National Law Journal (September 8, 2015). ^ abcd Jason Meisner, Judge to review records in businessman's lawsuit against ex-Speaker Hastert, Chicago Tribune (October 22, 2015). ^ ab Attorney: Appeal possible after judge tosses Hastert suit, Associated Press (April 7, 2017). ^ ab Josh Gerstein, Judge hits Hastert fraud accuser with sanctions, Politico (October 19, 2017). ^ Kerry Lester, Why Hastert backs Romney over Gingrich, Daily Herald (February 13, 2012). ^ Meisner, Jason; Coen, Jeff; Gutowski, Christy (April 27, 2016). "Dennis Hastert called 'serial child molester' by judge, gets 15 months in prison". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved April 27, 2016 . ^ abc Erik Wemple, AP: Jolene Burdge in 2006 provided 'no information' useful for Hastert story, The Washington Post (June 5, 2015). ^ Nora Kelly, One Week After Dennis Hastert's Indictment, an Alleged Victim's Sister Has Come ForwardArchived June 9, 2015, at the Wayback Machine., National Journal (June 5, 2015). ^ Alexandra Jaffe, Sister names victim of alleged Dennis Hastert abuse, CNN (June 5, 2015): "ABC News said it didn't run with the reporting because it lacked corroborating evidence." ^ Katherine Skiba, Dennis Hastert's indictment resurrects Foley scandal, Chicago Tribune (June 5, 2015). ^ Josh Marshall, Hastert and the Foley Scandal, Talking Points Memo (May 29, 2015). ^ Hastert's past comments contrast with misconduct allegationsArchived April 24, 2016, at the Wayback Machine., Associated Press (April 14, 2016). ^ ab Ted Gregory, Lawmaker Hastert urged life sentences for repeat child molesters, Chicago Tribune (April 14, 2016). ^ Stefano Esposito & Becky Schlikerman, Yorkville community can't comprehend allegations against HastertArchived June 2, 2015, at the Wayback Machine., Chicago Sun-Times (May 29, 2015). ^ ab Mark Hensch, Vulnerable GOP senator donates Hastert cash to charity, The Hill (June 4, 2015). ^ Lynn Sweet, Sen. Kirk sending $10,000 Hastert donation to Waukegan charityArchived June 5, 2015, at the Wayback Machine., Chicago Sun-Times (June 4, 2015). ^ Durbin "Stunned" By Hastert Indictment, CBS St. Louis/KMOX (May 30, 2015). ^ Press Briefing by the Press Secretary Josh Earnest, White House Office of the Press Secretary (May 29, 2015). ^ Jordan Fabian, White House: Nobody here derives pleasure from Hastert indictmentArchived June 2, 2015, at the Wayback Machine., The Hill (May 29, 2015). ^ Boehner Statement on Former Speaker Dennis Hastert (press release) (May 29, 2015). ^ Sam Stein, Fellow Congressman Was Told About Dennis Hastert Abuses, The Huffington Post (June 2, 2015). ^ Khorri Atkinson, The top political sex scandals of 2015, MSNBC (December 31, 2015). ^ Budget battle, leadership scandals top 2015 Illinois stories, Associated Press (December 30, 2015). ^ Ali Weinberg, Biggest Moments on Capitol Hill in 2015, ABC News (December 30, 2015). ^ Cubs, Chicago violence, budget AP's top Illinois stories for 2016, Associated Press (December 28, 2016). ^ ab Tom LoBianco, Former speaker indicted for cover up, CNN (May 28, 2015). Retrieved May 28, 2015. ^ abcd Julie Bosman, Dennis Hastert Reaches Plea Deal in Bank Withdrawals Case, The New York Times (October 15, 2015). ^ "Ex-Speaker Hastert charged with lying to FBI about hush money withdrawals". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved May 29, 2015 . ^ "Latest on Dennis Hastert: He spent 16 years teaching". Associated Press. May 28, 2015. Retrieved May 28, 2015 . [permanent dead link ] ^ John Stanton, Andrew Kaczynsk & Evan McMorris-Santoro, Sources: U.S. Attorney agreed to withhold details of Hastert's alleged "misconduct" in indictment, BuzzFeed News (May 28, 2015). ^ ab Ben Kamisar, Hastert posts $4,500 bail, The Hill (May 29, 2015). ^ Chris Cillizza, What we know (and what we don't) about the Denny Hastert indictment, The Washington Post (May 29, 2015). ^ ab Lipton, Eric (June 6, 2015). "Dennis Hastert Rushed to Make Money as Payouts Grew". The New York Times. Retrieved June 9, 2015 . ^ "Dennis Hastert's moneymaking efforts under scrutiny". Chicago Tribune. June 8, 2015. Retrieved June 9, 2015 . ^ Jason Meisner, Hastert to be arraigned Thursday in federal court in Chicago, Chicago Tribune (June 1, 2014). ^ Jason Meisner, Arraignment of Dennis Hastert delayed until June 9, Chicago Tribune (June 2, 2015). ^ Mike DeBonis, Sari Horwitz & Jerry Markon, Mystery surrounds Hastert case '-- including his whereabouts, The Washington Post (June 1, 2015). ^ Jake Sherman & John Bresnahan, Hastert lies low as allegations against him intensify, Politico (May 29, 2015). ^ Jay Levine, Dennis Hastert To Friends: I Am A Victim, Too, CBS Chicago (May 29, 2015). ^ ab Matthew Mosk, Veteran Washington DC Defense Attorney Stands In for Dennis Hastert, ABC News (June 3, 2015). ^ ab Thomas C. Green, Senior Counsel, Sidley Austin LLP. ^ ab "Who has Dennis Hastert hired to defend him?". CBS News. Retrieved June 8, 2015 . ^ ab Josh Gerstein, Hastert gets 'Orange Is the New Black' prosecutor, Politico (August 21, 2015). ^ Jason Meisner, Hastert hires Washington attorney as Chicago court braces for media crush, Chicago Tribune (June 8, 2015). ^ Jason Meisner, Dennis Hastert out of hiding, arrives at court for arraignment, Chicago Tribune (June 9, 2015). ^ ab Jason Meisner, 2 TV reporters cited for violating rules during Hastert's arraignment, Chicago Tribune (July 12, 2015). ^ ab Mike DeBonis, Hastert pleads not guilty to 2 counts of fraud charges in hush-money scandal, The Washington Post (June 9, 2015). ^ ab Associated Press, The Latest on Hastert: Ex-Speaker Faces Federal Judge (June 9, 2015). ^ ab Josh Gerstein, Hastert judge also donated to his campaigns, Politico (June 1, 2015). ^ Justin Glawe, Dennis Hastert Starts His New Life of Shame, Daily Beast (July 9, 2015). ^ Mike DeBonis, Judge who donated to Hastert campaigns will continue to hear hush-money case, The Washington Post (June 11, 2015). ^ Josh Gerstein, Denny Hastert judge will stay on case, Politico (June 11, 2015). ^ Associated Press, 2 reporters cited for breaking rules at Hastert arraignment (June 12, 2015). ^ Associated Press, Contempt Filings Dropped Against Reporters Covering Hastert, (July 30, 2015). ^ abc Jason Meisner, Feds seek order to protect sensitive details in Dennis Hastert charges, Chicago Tribune (June 12, 2015). ^ Robert Feder, Hastert cancels on Illinois broadcasters convention, RobertFeder.com (June 15, 2015). ^ Illinois: Hastert Evidence is Shielded, The New York Times (June 17, 2014). ^ Jason Meisner, Judge approves protective order in Dennis Hastert criminal case, Chicago Tribune (June 17, 2014). ^ abcdef Sara Burnett, Lawyer: Leaks in Hastert case 'unconscionable', Associated Press (June 18, 2015). ^ Jon Seidel, Hastert attorneys shed light on strategy, gear up for trialArchived July 15, 2015, at the Wayback Machine. (July 14, 2015). ^ abcd Steve Schmadeke, Hastert lawyer plans to seek to dismiss indictments, rails against "leaks from the government", Chicago Tribune (July 14, 2015). ^ ab Josh Gerstein & Kenneth P. Vogel, New defense fund set up for Dennis Hastert, Politico (July 31, 2015). ^ Brooks Hays, Dennis Hastert closes PAC, starts legal defense fund, UPI (August 1, 2015). ^ Jason Meisner, Prosecutors, Hastert's lawyers ask for delay in filing pretrial motions, Chicago Tribune (September 11, 2015). ^ Michael Tarm, Hastert Asks Court for Another Extension to File Motions, Associated Press (September 22, 2015). ^ Mitch Smith, Court Hearing in Dennis Hastert Case Reveals Possible Plea Deal, The New York Times (September 28, 2015). ^ abcd Jason Meisner & Jeff Coen, Dennis Hastert pleads guilty to felony charge, Chicago Tribune (October 28, 2015). ^ ab Mary Wisniewski & Fiona Ortiz, Ex-U.S. House Speaker Hastert pleads guilty in hush-money case, Reuters (October 28, 2015). ^ abc Monica Davey, Dennis Hastert, Former Speaker, Hospitalized Since Having Stroke (December 17, 2015). ^ abcd Associated Press, Dennis Hastert's Lawyers Ask for a Sentencing Delay (January 23, 2016). ^ ab Jason Meisner, Dennis Hastert nearly died, lawyer says; judge postpones sentencing, Chicago Tribune (January 28, 2016). ^ Jason Meisner, Federal judge orders medical expert review Dennis Hastert's health, Chicago Tribune (March 16, 2016). ^ Matt Zapotosky, Another man alleges he was abused by Dennis Hastert, Washington Post (March 23, 2016). ^ ab Mitch Smith, J. Dennis Hastert Is Sorry for Past 'Transgressions,' Lawyer Says, New York Times (April 9, 2016). ^ James Hill, Lee Ferran & Brian Ross, Disturbing Details of Hastert's Alleged Sex Abuse Revealed, ABC News (April 8, 2016). ^ ab Jason Meisner, Dennis Hastert in hospital after stroke; health woes may affect sentencing, Chicago Tribune (December 18, 2015). ^ abc Jason Meisner, More than 40 letters in support of Hastert made public before sentencing, Chicago Tribune (April 22, 2016). ^ Michael Tarm, Ex-Congressmen Send Letters Asking for Leniency for Hastert, Associated Press (April 22, 2106). ^ ab Christy Gutowski, Alleged Hastert victim Individual D is brother of Hastert political ally Tom Cross, Chicago Tribune (April 27, 2016). ^ Eric Zorn, Why the statute of limitations protects Hastert, Chicago Tribune (April 12, 2016). ^ Editorial, Dennis Hastert: Child Molester, Chicago Tribune (April 27, 2016). ^ ab Dennis Hastert's betrayal of trust, Washington Post (April 30, 2016). ^ ab Frank Bruni, The Many Faces of Dennis Hastert, New York Times (April 30, 2016). ^ Jacob Sullum, 'Serial Child Molester' Dennis Hastert Gets 15 Months for Something That Shouldn't Be Illegal, Reason (May 2, 2016). ^ Conor Friedersdorf, Why Is It a Crime to Evade Government Scrutiny?: Prosecutors may suspect Dennis Hastert of serious misconduct, but charging him with trying to avoid surveillance risks criminalizing harmless behavior, The Atlantic (June 2, 2015). ^ Eric Bradach, Lawmakers eliminating time-frame protection for child sex offenders, Columbia Chronicle (March 30, 2017). ^ Removing Statute of Limitations on Child Sex Crimes in Illinois, WRSP (March 30, 2017). ^ abc Stephanie Gosk, Alan Cohen & Tracy Connor, Dennis Hastert's Accuser Sues Him for $1.8 Million, NBC News (April 25, 2016). ^ abc Christy Gutowski, From behind bars, Hastert fights victim's lawsuit, Chicago Tribune (July 26, 2016). ^ Dennis Hastert Countersues Assault Victim to Pay Back Hush Money, Associated Press (January 19, 2017). ^ Jon Seidel & Andy Grimm, Judge denies motion to dismiss lawsuit by Hastert victim, Chicago Sun-Times (November 8, 2016). ^ Chuck Goudie, Ross Weidner & Christine Tressel, Dennis Hastert's sex abuse case may not go to trial, attorney says, WLS (March 8, 2017). ^ abcde Hannah Leone, Judge grants anonymity in new sex assault suit against Dennis Hastert, Aurora Beacon-News (May 30, 2017). ^ ab Phil Rogers, For Me, There's No Justice': Latest Alleged Hastert Victim Told Police, NBC Chicago (May 30, 2017). ^ Christy Gutowski, Judge dismisses one of two lawsuits against Dennis Hastert, Chicago Tribune (November 20, 2017). ^ Mitch Dudek, Kendall County judge dismisses sex abuse suit against Dennis Hastert, Sun-Times (November 20, 2017). ^ Dennis Hastert will not appeal conviction, 15-month prison sentence, Associated Press (May 13, 2016). ^ James Hill & Lee Ferran, Former Speaker Dennis Hastert Pays $250K Fine Linked to Sex Abuse, ABC News (May 13, 2016). ^ Jason Meisner, Dennis Hastert to report to prison by June 22 to serve 15-month sentence, Chicago Tribune (May 19, 2016). ^ Christy Gutowski, Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert reports to prison, Chicago Tribune (June 22, 2016). ^ Christy Gutowski, Dennis Hastert returns to Illinois to complete sentence, Chicago Tribune (July 18, 2017). ^ ab Sarah Freishtat, Dennis Hastert's educator pension revoked, General Assembly pension unchanged, Aurora Beacon-News (April 28, 2016). ^ abcd Kerry Lester, Hastert fighting to get his teacher pension back, Daily Herald (November 21, 2016). ^ Aamer Madhani, Ex-House speaker Dennis Hastert stripped of Illinois pension, USA Today (April 26, 2017). ^ Hastert's state lawmaker pension terminated, Associated Press (April 26, 2017). ^ Dennis Hastert's state lawmaker pension halted, Associated Press (April 26, 2017). ^ Bridget Bowman, Despite Hush-Money Plea, Hastert Keeps Pension, Roll Call (November 5, 2015). ^ Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 4, 1986 ^ Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 8, 1988 ^ Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 6, 1991 ^ Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 3, 1992 ^ Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 8, 1994 ^ Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 5, 1996 ^ Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 3, 1998 ^ Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 7, 2000 ^ Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 5, 2002 ^ Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 2, 2004 ^ Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 7, 2006 ^ ab Collections Search: John Dennis Hastert, United States House of Representatives History, Art & Archives. ^ Honorary Degrees RecipientsArchived June 17, 2015, at the Wayback Machine., Division of Academic Affairs, Northern Illinois University. ^ ab Will Dennis Hastert keep his honorary NIU doctorate?, Daily Chronicle (November 3, 2015). ^ Organization asks NIU to revoke Hastert's honorary degree, WLS-TV (November 12, 2015) ^ Our View: Strip Hastert of honorary NIU degree, DeKalb Daily Chronicle (April 28, 2016). ^ NIU Trustees Unanimously Rescind Dennis Hastert's Honorary Degree, WNIJ (May 20, 2016). ^ ab Nick Martin, Dennis Hastert could be stripped of Wrestling Hall of Fame honors, Washington Post (April 28, 2016). ^ abcde Katherine Skiba, Amid allegations, some consider removing Dennis Hastert's presence, Chicago Tribune (June 12, 2015). ^ Editorial: Erasing Denny Hastert, Chicago Tribune (June 1, 2015). ^ Hastert first-ever punished by wrestling Hall of Fame, CBS News/Associated Press (May 2, 2016). ^ Baltic Report: April 11, 2001, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty/Radio Liberty. ^ Associated Press, Timeline of the Career of Ex-US House Speaker Dennis Hastert, The New York Times (May 28, 2015). ^ Reuters, 'It was sex': Dennis Hastert paid man to hide past misconduct, LA Times reports (May 29, 2015). ^ "Wheaton College takes 'Hastert' out of center's name in wake of charges". Chicago Tribune. May 31, 2015. Retrieved May 31, 2015 . ^ Tracy Connor, Dennis Hastert Case: Abuse Group Wants Congressional Portrait Removed, NBC News (June 4, 2015). ^ Deirdre Walsh, Paul Ryan removes portrait of former House Speaker Dennis Hastert, CNN (November 2, 2015). ^ President Uribe gives the San Carlos medal to former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Embassy of Colombia to the United States (May 27, 2009). ^ Remarks by Ambassador Fujisaki at the Reception to Celebrate the Conferment of the Order of the Rising Sun, Embassy of Japan in the United States (June 30, 2010). ^ Hastert's legacy 'a black eye': Officials begin removing reminders of former speaker of the House, Kane County Chronicle (November 9, 2015). ^ Monique Garcia, Hastert statue shelved at Illinois Capitol, Chicago Tribune (May 28, 2015). ^ Jordyn Phelps, Dennis Hastert Nixed Statue in His Honor, ABC News (May 29, 2015). ^ Steve Lord, Denny Hastert Yorkville wrestling tournament may get new name, Aurora Beacon-News (June 2, 2015). ^ Matt Schury, Hastert's legacy 'a black eye': Officials begin removing reminders of former speaker of the House, Kane County Chronicle (November 9, 2015). ^ Chuck Goudie, [1], ABC 7 (April 6, 2016). ^ ab Rudolph Bush, Hastert has minor surgery, Chicago Tribune (April 7, 2005). ^ Associated Press, House Speaker hospitalized for skin infection: Hastert expected to get treatment through the weekend (July 13, 2006). ^ Webpage of PodestaMatton for Josh Hastert. Retrieved October 2, 2006 Archived September 7, 2006, at the Wayback Machine. ^ Michael Kranish, Family ties spark concern in lobby debate; Watchdogs want Congress to act, Boston Globe (January 28, 2006). ^ ab James Fuller, Hastert's son loses race to Hultgren, Daily Herald (February 2, 2010). ^ "Son of former U.S. House Speaker Hastert wins village board race". The State Journal-Register. Associated Press. 2011-04-06. ^ Al Lagattolla, Hastert leaving Elburn Village Board, Kane County Chronicle (October 21, 2014). ^ Ethan A. Hastert Profile, Mayer Brown. ^ Monica Daveyman, Yorkville, Where Hastert Taught, Is Shaken by Charges for 'Denny', The New York Times (May 30, 2015). ^ Robert Costa & Paul Kane, Hastert's post-Congress life one of political withdrawal and chasing cash, The Washington Post (May 30, 2015). ^ Jon Seidel, Volo Auto Museum plans to keep Hastert car on display at toll oasisArchived June 9, 2015, at the Wayback Machine., Chicago Sun-Times (June 8, 2015). ^ Frank S. Abderholden, Auto museum to remove Dennis Hastert car from tollway display, Lake County News-Sun (June 10, 2015). Bibliography [ edit] External links [ edit]
Judge Bans Dennis Hastert From Unsupervised Interaction With Children '' Disobedient Media
Sat, 16 Dec 2017 21:18
The Associated Press writes that a federal Judge in Chicago has ordered that former House Speaker Dennis Hastert must never be left alone with anyone under 18 unless another adult is present who is aware of his conviction in a ''hush-money case that revealed he had sexually abused several high school students.''
The AP went on to note that any adult who Hastert may ask to be present around minors must first be approved by a probation officer and the individual providing treatment to Hastert, according to the Judge's order. The former House Speaker was also banned from possession of pornography and the use of sex lines.
NBC recounted the Judge's statement, which read in part: ''[Hastert] shall not possess or have under his/her control any pornographic, sexually oriented, or sexually stimulating materials, including visual, auditory, telephonic, or electronic media, computer programs, or services'... You shall not have contact with any person under the age of 18, except in the presence of a responsible adult who is aware of the nature of his/her background and current offense, and who has been approved by the probation officer and treatment provider.''
Hastert was one of a number of individuals named by Greg Bucceroni in Disobedient Media's recent coverage of a child sex trafficking network based on the East Coast that was active in the 1970's and 1980's, according to government documents.
Bucceroni told Disobedient Media about a specific incident in which Hastert was present among child sex traffickers and abusers at an after-party which took place after a fundraising event for Ronald Reagan. Bucceroni stated: ''Eddy Savitz gave me $40, for Denny. That was the interaction with Denny, who was Dennis Hastert. He was mingling with known adult sex traffickers, inside this after-party in Washington DC.'' Bucceroni also told Disobedient Media that Dennis Hastert was 'hanging out with Eddy Savitz and Lawrence King.'
The latest news regarding added restriction of Hastert's contact with children followed Disobedient Media's recent report on Greg Bucceroni's testimony that included allegations regarding Hastert and other prominent figures. Bucceroni's allegations are especially relevant amidst the ongoing fallout from the Harvey Weinstein scandal, which also suggests that sexual abuse by powerful individuals is an unfortunately long-term and bipartisan issue.
Bucceroni has made numerous press appearances since initially coming forward in 2011 and spoke to independent journalist HA Goodman about his experiences of abuse since Disobedient Media's report was published. During his conversation with Goodman, Bucceroni discussed abuses including Hastert's alleged presence at events where child sex trafficking occurred.
Dennis Hastert was characterized as a serial child molester by Judge Thomas M. Durkin of Federal District Court. Hastert was eventually convicted of attempting to ''illegally structuring bank transactions in an effort to cover up his sexual abuse of young members of a wrestling team,'' according to the New York Times. Hastert was sentenced to only 15 months in prison, but served just 13 months.
RT noted that Hastert Hastert was the longest-serving Republican House speaker, having occupied the position from 1999-2007 before he was jailed in 2016 after his conviction of trying to cover up a $3.5 million pay-off to one of five boys he molested when he was a high school teacher in Illinois. The Washington Post related that the indictment against Hastert indicated he had paid $1.7 million from 2010 to 2014 to one of his victims.
Despite the conviction and his public admission of sexually abusing children, a surprising number of prominent figures petitioned for leniency during Hastert's sentencing process. Disobedient Media previously noted that these calls for a lessened sentence on behalf of a ''serial child molester'' fueled concerns regarding tolerance of sexual abuse within government bodies.
The issue of sexual abuse by powerful men has come into particular public focus of late in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, which has led to the downfall of individuals ranging from Kevin Spacey to Bryan Singer.
According to the Associated Press, U.S. District Judge Thomas M. Durkin did not explicitly state the reasoning behind the latest provision regarding Hastert's interaction with minors. The news raises important questions as to why such stipulations were not put into place sooner.
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Al Franken for president? - CNN - CNN.comwww.cnn.com/2017/06/02/opinions/al-franken-for-president-zelizer/index.htmlJun 2, 2017 - Al Franken insists he is not going to run for president in 2020, but he might want to reconsider. Democrats are already starting to consider who their next crop of candidates might be following the devastating results in November. There is buzz that former Vice President Joe Biden, who just formed a PAC to ... Can Anyone Beat Donald Trump in 2020? Al Franken Could Be a ...www.newsweek.com/franken-trump-2020-election-655143Aug 25, 2017 - He may be good enough, smart enough and possibly popular enough to run for president in 2020, but U.S. Senator Al Franken (D-Minn.) may need to be prodded to challenge Donald Trump and fight off other Democrats for the country's highest political office, according to associates who spoke to The Hill. Al Franken, Roy Moore Allegations Could Reshape 2020 Race | Timetime.com 'º Politics 'º 2020 ElectionNov 17, 2017 - How Sexual Misconduct Scandals Are Already Reshaping the 2020 Democratic Primary. Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) listens during a Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism on Capitol Hill, October 31, 2017 in Washington, DC. ... When Democrats began debating who should face ... The 43 people who might run against Trump in 2020 | TheHillthehill.com/homenews/.../332156-the-43-people-who-might-run-against-trump-in-20...May 8, 2017 - The 2020 presidential election could feature the most crowded Democratic primary in decades, with scores of Democrats rumored as potential contenders. ... Franken, 65, emerged as a tough critic during the confirmation hearings for Trump's Cabinet picks. In an interview, he said he's not running, noting ... Al Franken 2020? Media pundits think the Minnesota senator is the ...https://www.aol.com/article/news/2017/02/08/al-franken-2020...is.../21709778/Feb 8, 2017 - Al Franken. On Monday, the Washington Post published a blog post titled "Why Al Franken makes a weird amount of sense as a 2020 presidential candidate," positing that the former Saturday Night Live cast member may be the candidate best-suited to parlay Trump's barbs. Slideshow preview image. Who will run in 2020? Democrats could have big field - Business Insiderwww.businessinsider.com/who-will-run-in-2020-democrats-field-2017-5May 14, 2017 - Here are some of the Democratic candidates who could run '-- or have a strong base of supporters who want them to run '-- for president in 2020. ... Al Franken. Minnesota Sen. Al Franken. Al FrankenChip Somodevilla/Getty Images. Franken, the former SNL writer and performer-turned-senator, has been ... Al Franken: I'd serve as Hillary Clinton's VP - POLITICOhttps://www.politico.com/story/2016/06/al-franken-clinton-vice-president-224769Jun 24, 2016 - If Hillary Clinton came to me and said, 'Al, I really need you to be my vice president, to run with me,' I would say yes,'' Franken said. Al Franken is not running for president in 2020 - News - The AV Clubhttps://news.avclub.com/al-franken-is-not-running-for-president-in-2020-1798262264May 24, 2017 - Unfortunately, the Democrats will have to find someone other than Al Franken, because he really does not want the job. ... Al Franken is not running for president in 2020 ... Joe Lieberman came very close to being the first Jewish vice president - and was Franken's running mate in his book Why Not Me? The 7 Signs That Someone Might Be Running For President In 2020 ...https://fivethirtyeight.com/.../the-7-signs-that-someone-might-be-running-for-preside...May 8, 2017 - So to get a sense of who might be preparing to might run in 2020, FiveThirtyEight looked at some of the things that the 22 men and women who ran in 2015 .... Al Franken. The former Saturday Night Live star was included in polls done by both Public Policy Polling and Rasmussen Reports, was profiled by ... Searches related to al franken 2020 vp
Nevada Democrat, facing ethics probe, won't seek re-election
Sun, 17 Dec 2017 13:20
Chip Somodevilla | Getty Images
Ruben Kihuen
First-term Democratic Congressman Ruben Kihuen of Nevada is denying allegations of sexual harassment but says he won't seek re-election.
Kihuen's announcement Saturday follows the House Ethics Committee statement Friday that it had opened an investigation into allegations that he sexually harassed a former campaign aide and a lobbyist.
Kihuen says he denies all the allegations and that he's committed to fully cooperating with the committee.
A former campaign aide said Kihuen propositioned her despite her repeated rejections during his 2016 campaign. A lobbyist told the Nevada Independent that he touched her thighs and buttocks and made unwanted sexual advances while he was a state senator.
Kihuen is among a growing number of lawmakers whose careers have faced uncertainty or ended altogether because of allegations of sexual misconduct.
Playwright alleges misconduct by Hoffman when she was 16
Sun, 17 Dec 2017 13:50
ROME (AP) '-- A playwright who says Dustin Hoffman exposed himself to her and had her massage his feet in a hotel room when she was 16 said Friday that she spent years in guilty silence and took pains to not dress suggestively in professional contexts because she assumed the incident was her fault.
Playwright Cori Thomas was a classmate of Hoffman's daughter in 1980 when she says she met the actor, who invited her to his New York hotel room to wait for her mother after dinner with the teenagers. After his daughter left, Hoffman went to take a shower, Thomas said in an interview with The Associated Press.
"I was just sitting there waiting for my parents. He came out of the bathroom and had a towel around him and that was the first, 'Hmm, that is kind of weird,'" Thomas, now 53, said. "And then he dropped the towel, and I think I just like....I had never seen a naked man. I had never kissed a man."
Entertainment trade outlet Variety first reported Thomas' account in a story published Thursday that included another woman's allegation that Hoffman pushed his hand down her pants in a recording studio while working on the 1987 movie "Ishtar."
The publicist and attorney for the 80-year-old Oscar winner did not return email messages seeking comment Thursday.
Actress Anna Graham Hunter also has alleged that Hoffman groped her and made inappropriate comments when she was a 17-year-old intern on the set of the 1985 TV movie "Death of a Salesman."
Hoffman said in an earlier statement that the incident "is not reflective of who I am."
During an interview with the AP in Rome, where she had attended an event for Italian and American playwrights, Thomas described her shock and confusion in the hotel room with "a pretty huge star" who she thought of at the moment "as my friend's dad."
She said that after dropping his towel, Hoffman put on a robe and asked her to massage his feet.
"I didn't know what to do. I acted my age. I was 16. I thought, 'Eewww, yuck,'" Thomas said. "I didn't know what to do really. He made a call to someone and he said, 'Oh I have the most beautiful girl massaging my feet. How old are you?' and I said 16, and he said 'She is 16.' So he knew my age."
The uncomfortable encounter continued after the call with Hoffman repeatedly asking if she wanted to see him naked again, Thomas said.
"I was in a state of shock, not knowing what to do," she said. "He kept saying, 'You know I am naked. You know I am naked. If you look, you will see I am naked.'"
"I didn't want to be rude. I was trying to be polite. This was so weird and wrong. ... There was a part of me worried about what might happen," she continued.
After her mother finally picked her up, Thomas said she did not tell her about what had happened but was quiet enough to make her mother suspicious.
"She kept asking, 'What happened, is everything OK?' I kept saying 'I am fine.' I was afraid of making a fuss. I didn't want to embarrass my friend. I didn't want to embarrass myself. I didn't want to tell her," Thomas said. "I just kept thinking it was my fault."
Thomas said it would be years before she would talk about the experience and that she just tried to push it aside. The effect on her lingered, though, she said.
"Especially because I thought it was an isolated incident, I took more guilt and blame onto myself. I think I have always behaved in a way not to act suggestive," Thomas said. "In the professional world, I try to be very refined and not in any way look seductive or seem as if I am trying to be."
Thomas said she decided to come forward publicly to support Hunter and counter attacks on the actress's credibility.
"He is 80 years old. I don't think anything is going to change with him," she said. "I do think that he should know that he did something wrong and it is not OK with me that he did something wrong. People also need to know that it is not OK to do these things."
The Variety report included the account of Melissa Kester, who said Hoffman pushed his hand down her pants while he was recording music for "Ishtar" and happened behind a partition while others, including Kester's boyfriend, were nearby.
The report came a week after Hoffman was pointedly questioned about his treatment of women at a panel hosted by late-night host John Oliver. Hoffman appeared blindsided by Oliver's questioning. He said Hunter's accusation was 40 years old and maintained that he did nothing wrong.
The Dodd Report
From Atomic Rod Adams:
Referring to the latest newsletter:
Same foundations that have funded globalism have funded a
deep and long lasting effort to scare people about nuclear energy and slow its
Nuclear energy doesn’t “steal their stuff,” but it makes
it far less valuable by increasing the overall supply.
Adam, you have often pointed out how advertising loses
value when there is an unlimited supply of venues on which to post it. The same
idea holds true with energy fuels – if there really is an unlimited supply of
fuel, why would anyone pay $100 or even $50 per barrel for oil? Why would
anyone fund a $700 billion defense budget if we could produce all of the energy
we need right here in the U.S.
Think about it.
Rod Adams
United States House Select Committee to Investigate Tax-Exempt Foundations and Comparable Organizations - Wikipedia
Sat, 16 Dec 2017 18:50
This article is about the 1952-1954 investigation into non-profits. For the 80s and 90s report on the People's Republic of China's covert operations within the United States, see Cox Report.The Select Committee to Investigate Tax-Exempt Foundations and Comparable Organizations was an investigative committee of the United States House of Representatives between 1952 and 1954.[1] The committee was originally created by House Resolution 561 during the 82nd Congress. The committee investigated the use of funds by tax-exempt organizations (non-profit organizations) to see if they were being used to support communism.[2][3] The committee was alternatively known as the Cox Committee and the Reece Committee after its two chairmen, Edward E. Cox and B. Carroll Reece.
History [ edit] In April 1952, the Select Committee to Investigate Tax-Exempt Foundations and Comparable Organizations (or just the Cox Committee Investigation), led by Edward E. Cox, of the House of Representatives began an investigation of the "educational and philanthropic foundations and other comparable organizations which are exempt from federal taxes to determine whether they were using their resources for the purposes for which they were established, and especially to determine which such foundations and organizations are using their resources for un-American activities and subversive activities or for purposes not in the interest or tradition of the United States."
In the fall of 1952 all foundations with assets of $10 million or more received a questionnaire covering virtually every aspect of their operations. The foundations cooperated willingly. In the committee's final report, submitted to Congress in January 1953, endorsed the loyalty of the foundations. "So far as we can ascertain, there is little basis for the belief expressed in some quarters that foundation funds are being diverted from their intended use," the report said.[4]
Unhappy with the Cox Committee's conclusions, Rep. Reece pushed for a continuation of its work. In April 1954, the House authorized the Reece Committee. Unlike its predecessor, which limited its attention to generalities, the Reece Committee mounted a comprehensive inquiry into both the motives for establishing foundations and their influence on public life. The investigative inquiry was headed by Norman Dodd, a former banker.[4]
Members [ edit] Edward "Eugene" Cox of Georgia served as chairman of the committee until his death on December 24, 1952. Wayne Hays of Ohio served as acting chairman after Chairman Cox's death.[5]
Dodd report [ edit] The final report was submitted by Norman Dodd, and because of its provocative nature, the committee became subject to attack. He began by listing criticisms of the Cox Committee, and then moved on to content.
In the Dodd report to the Reece Committee on Foundations, he gave a definition of the word "subversive", saying that the term referred to "Any action having as its purpose the alteration of either the principle or the form of the United States Government by other than constitutional means." He then argued that the Ford Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, and Carnegie Endowment were using funds excessively on projects at Columbia, Harvard, Chicago University and the University of California, in order to enable oligarchical collectivism. He stated, "The purported deterioration in scholarship and in the techniques of teaching which, lately, has attracted the attention of the American public, has apparently been caused primarily by a premature effort to reduce our meager knowledge of social phenomena to the level of an applied science." He stated that his research staff had discovered that in "1933-1936, a change took place which was so drastic as to constitute a "revolution". They also indicated conclusively that the responsibility for the economic welfare of the American people had been transferred heavily to the Executive Branch of the Federal Government; that a corresponding change in education had taken place from an impetus outside of the local community, and that this "revolution" had occurred without violence and with the full consent of an overwhelming majority of the electorate." He stated that this revolution "could not have occurred peacefully, or with the consent of the majority, unless education in the United States had been prepared in advance to endorse it ."[6]
Final report [ edit] Although the promotion of internationalism and moral relativism by foundations concerned the committee, it saw their concentrated power as the more central threat. Even if benign, this power posed a threat to democratic government. The Reece Committee's report, submitted in the midst of the ultimately successful efforts to censure Senator Joseph McCarthy, failed to attract much attention. McCarthy's fall led to a discrediting of all efforts that ' smacked of redbaiting '.[4]
The report conceded that, with several exceptions "such as the Institute of Pacific Relations, foundations have not directly supported organizations which, in turn, operated to support communism." However, the report did conclude that
Some of the larger foundations have directly supported 'subversion' in the true meaning of that term--namely, the process of undermining some of our vitally protective concepts and principles. They have actively supported attacks upon our social and governmental system and financed the promotion of socialism and collectivist ideas.
The report had also proposed changes in law: a "rule against perpetuities" to limit the lives of non-institutional foundations, 10''25 years, a denial of tax exemption to a foundation holding more than 5%-10% of any business' capital or securities, and a ban on using foundation funds to support "socialism, collectivism or any other form of society or government which is at variance with the basic principles of ours" (existing law prohibited its use only for support of communism and fascism).
This final report was made up by the majority in the committee, three Republicans: Representatives B. Carroll Reece of Tennessee, chairman, Jesse P. Wolcott of Michigan and Angier L. Goodwin of Massachusetts. However, the two Democrats on the committee did not sign the final report and were extremely critical of it.[2]
Criticisms [ edit] Opponents criticized the Committee as "investigating free thought".[3]
The Republican Angier Goodwin added a note below his signature: "In signing this report, I do so with strong reservations and dissent from many of its findings and conclusions and with the understanding that I may file a supplementary statement to follow". In his supplementary statement he disagreed with the main points of the Reece Report and agreed with the diametrically opposite conclusions of the Cox Committee of which he had been a member.[7]
The committee's two Democrats, Wayne L. Hays and Gracie Pfost, refused to sign the final report. The Hays-Pfost minority report charged that the foundations "have been indicted and convicted under procedures which can only be characterized as barbaric." The minority accused Chairman Reece and the committee staff of a "deep-seated antagonism toward foundations" which might "well be characterized as pathological."
According to the minority report: The majority and committee staff were guilty of "an evil disregard of fundamental American guarantees." Anti-foundation witnesses were heard in full and their testimony published but the hearings were concluded as soon as pro-foundation witnesses began to present their case. Reece said the foundations would be permitted to file statements and thereby get "a fair opportunity to put their best foot forward at the same time that they escaped the embarrassment of cross-examination." The committee staff, however, apparently "deliberately ignored" the statements in preparing the report. Judging by a pro-foundation witness allowed to testify, Dr. Pendleton Herring, Social Science Research Council president whose testimony was cut off "midway," public testimony "was far from embarrassing" and was "the one certain way that [those] accused by the staff...could destroy the deadly inferences, innuendoes and charges." By contrast, the committee gave 3 days to the testimony of San Francisco attorney Aaron Sargent, whose political and economic thinking could be judged by his charge that the U.S. "income tax was part of a plot by Fabian Socialists operating from England to pave the way for socialism in this country." New York attorney Rene A. Wormser, who headed the staff, had proposed that "the inquiry be made without public hearings" or "the testimony of interested persons" and instead that the staff "devote its time to independent study and inquiry."[2]
References [ edit] ^ Walter Stubbs (1985), Congressional Committees, 1789-1982: A Checklist, Greenwood Press, p. 133 ^ abc http://www.2facts.com.wylproxy.minlib.net/Archive/temp/76987temp1954020050.asp?DBType=News World News Digest: Foundations Probe: Reece Unit vs. Foundations; Other Developments (subscription required) ^ ab https://www.jstor.org/pss/1978168 ^ abc J. Steven Ott, ed. (2000). The Nonprofit Sector: An Overview. University of Utah: Westview Press. pp. 114''115. ISBN 0-8133-6785-9. ^ U.S. House of Representatives (1953). Hearings Before the Select Committee on Tax-Exempt Foundations and Comparable Organizations. Hearings, 82nd Congress. 97. Government Printing Office. ^ "Dodd Report to the Reece Committee on Foundations (1954)". ^ Dwight Macdonald, "Profiles: Ford Foundation I", New Yorker, 26 November 1955, p94
Corporatism - Wikipedia
Sat, 16 Dec 2017 18:50
This article is about the general social theory. For business influence in politics, see Corporatocracy. For the process of reorganizing institutions on a corporate or business basis, see Corporatization.Corporatism, also known as corporativism,[1] is the sociopolitical organization of a society by major interest groups, known as corporate groups (as well as syndicates, or guilds) such as agricultural, business, ethnic, labour, military, patronage, or scientific affiliations, on the basis of their common interests.[2] It is theoretically based on the interpretation of a community as an organic body.[3] The term corporatism is based on the Latin root word corpus (plural corpora) meaning "body"[4] or, in the case of Fascist Italy, on the word corporazione (derived from the aforementioned Latin word, with the meaning of "embodiment", "association"), the Italian name for what was known in Germanic Europe as a Medieval guild.
In 1881, Pope Leo XIII commissioned theologians and social thinkers to study corporatism and provide a definition for it. In 1884 in Freiburg, the commission declared that corporatism was a "system of social organization that has at its base the grouping of men according to the community of their natural interests and social functions, and as true and proper organs of the state they direct and coordinate labor and capital in matters of common interest".[5]
Corporatism is related to the sociological concept of structural functionalism.[6] Corporate social interaction is common within kinship groups such as families, clans and ethnicities.[7] In addition to humans, certain animal species like penguins exhibit strong corporate social organization.[8][9] Corporatist types of community and social interaction are common to many ideologies, including absolutism, capitalism, conservatism, fascism, liberalism, progressivism, reactionism.[10]
Corporatism may also refer to economic tripartism involving negotiations between business, labour, and state interest groups to establish economic policy.[11] This is sometimes also referred to as neo-corporatism and is associated with social democracy.[12][clarification needed ]
Common types [ edit] Kinship corporatism [ edit] Kinship-based corporatism emphasizing clan, ethnic, and family identification has been a common phenomenon in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Confucian societies based upon families and clans in East Asia and Southeast Asia have been considered types of corporatism. China has strong elements of clan corporatism in its society involving legal norms concerning family relations.[13]Islamic societies often feature strong clans which form the basis for a community-based corporatist society.[7]
Corporatism in the Roman Catholic Church [ edit] During the Middle Ages, the Catholic Church sponsored the creation of various institutions including brotherhoods, monasteries, religious orders, and military associations, especially during the Crusades to sponsor association between these groups. In Italy, various function-based groups and institutions were created, including universities, guilds for artisans and craftspeople, and other professional associations.[14] The creation of the guild system is a particularly important aspect of the history of corporatism because it involved the allocation of power to regulate trade and prices to guilds, which is an important aspect of corporatist economic models of economic management and class collaboration.[14]
Corporatism's popularity increased in the late 19th century, and a corporatist internationale was formed in 1890, followed by the publishing of Rerum novarum by the Catholic Church that for the first time declared the Church's blessing to trade unions and recommended for organized labour to be recognized by politicians.[15] Many corporatist unions in Europe were endorsed by the Catholic Church to challenge the anarchist, Marxist and other radical unions, with the corporatist unions being fairly conservative in comparison to their radical rivals.[16] Some Catholic corporatist states include Austria under the leadership of Federal Chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss, and Ecuador under the leadership of Garcia Moreno. In response to the Roman Catholic corporatism of the 1890s, Protestant corporatism was developed, especially in Germany, the Netherlands, and Scandinavia.[17] However, Protestant corporatism has been much less successful in obtaining assistance from governments than its Roman Catholic counterpart.[18]
Biology [ edit] In social psychology and biology, researchers have found the presence of corporate group social organization amongst animal species.[8] Research has shown that penguins are known to reside in densely populated corporate breeding colonies.[8]
Politics and political economy [ edit] Communitarian corporatism [ edit] Ancient Greece developed early concepts of corporatism. Plato developed the concept of a totalitarian and communitarian corporatist system of natural-based classes and natural social hierarchies that would be organized based on function, such that groups would cooperate to achieve social harmony by emphasizing collective interests while rejecting individual interests.[6]
Aristotle in Politics also described society as being divided along natural classes and functional purposes that were priests, rulers, slaves, and warriors.[19] Ancient Rome adopted Greek concepts of corporatism into their own version of corporatism but also added the concept of political representation on the basis of function that divided representatives into military, professional, and religious groups and created institutions for each group known as colegios[19] (Latin: collegia ). See Collegium (ancient Rome).
Absolutist corporatism [ edit] Absolute monarchies during the late Middle Ages gradually subordinated corporatist systems and corporate groups to the authority of centralized and absolutist governments, resulting in corporatism being used to enforce social hierarchy.[20]
After the French Revolution, the existing absolutist corporatist system was abolished due to its endorsement of social hierarchy and special "corporate privilege" for the Roman Catholic Church. The new French government considered corporatism's emphasis on group rights as inconsistent with the government's promotion of individual rights. Subsequently corporatist systems and corporate privilege throughout Europe were abolished in response to the French Revolution.[20] From 1789 to the 1850s, most supporters of corporatism were reactionaries.[5] A number of reactionary corporatists favoured corporatism in order to end liberal capitalism and restore the feudal system.[21]
Progressive corporatism [ edit] From the 1850s onward progressive corporatism developed in response to classical liberalism and Marxism.[5] These corporatists supported providing group rights to members of the middle classes and working classes in order to secure cooperation among the classes. This was in opposition to the Marxist conception of class conflict. By the 1870s and 1880s, corporatism experienced a revival in Europe with the creation of workers' unions that were committed to negotiations with employers.[5]
Ferdinand T¶nnies in his work Gemeinschaft und Gesellschaft ("Community and Society") of 1887 began a major revival of corporatist philosophy associated with the development of Neo-medievalism and increased promotion of guild socialism, and causing major changes of theoretical sociology. T¶nnies claims that organic communities based upon clans, communes, families, and professional groups are disrupted by the mechanical society of economic classes imposed by capitalism.[22] The National Socialists used T¶nnies' theory to promote their notion of Volksgemeinschaft ("people's community").[23] However T¶nnies opposed Nazism and joined the Social Democratic Party of Germany in 1932 to oppose fascism in Germany and was deprived of his honorary professorship by Adolf Hitler in 1933.[24]
Corporate solidarism [ edit] Sociologist ‰mile Durkheim advocated a form of corporatism termed "solidarism" that advocated creating an organicsocial solidarity of society through functional representation.[25] Solidarism was based upon Durkheim's view that the dynamic of human society as a collective is distinct from that of an individual, in that society is what places upon individuals their cultural and social attributes.[26]
Durkheim claimed that in the economy, solidarism would alter the division of labour by changing it from the mechanical solidarity to organic solidarity. Durkheim claimed that the existing industrial capitalist division of labour caused "juridical and moral anomie" which had no norms or agreed procedures to resolve conflicts resulting in chronic confrontation between employers and trade unions.[25] Durkheim believed that this anomie caused social dislocation and claimed that by this "[i]t is the law of the strongest which rules, and there is inevitably a chronic state of war, latent or acute".[25] As a result, Durkheim claimed it is a moral obligation of the members of society to end this situation by creating a moral organic solidarity based upon professions as organized into a single public institution.[27]
Liberal corporatism [ edit] The idea of liberal corporatism has also been attributed to English liberal philosopher John Stuart Mill who discussed corporatist-like economic associations as needing to "predominate" in society to create equality for labourers and give them influence with management by economic democracy.[28] Unlike some other types of corporatism, liberal corporatism does not reject capitalism or individualism, but believes that the capitalist companies are social institutions that should require their managers to do more than maximize net income, by recognizing the needs of their employees.[29]
This liberal corporatist ethic is similar to Taylorism but endorses democratization of capitalist companies. Liberal corporatists believe that inclusion of all members in the election of management in effect reconciles "ethics and efficiency, freedom and order, liberty and rationality".[29] Liberal corporatism began to gain disciples in the United States during the late 19th century.[5]
Liberal corporatism was an influential component of the Progressivism in the United States that has been referred to as "interest group liberalism".[30] In the United States, economic corporatism involving capital-labour cooperation was influential in the New Deal economic program of the United States in the 1930s as well as in Keynesianism and even Fordism.[21]
Fascist corporatism [ edit] Fascism's theory of economic corporatism involved management of sectors of the economy by government- or privately- controlled organizations (corporations). Each trade union or employer corporation would, theoretically, represent its professional concerns, especially by negotiation of labour contracts and the like. It was theorized that this method could result in harmony amongst social classes.[31] However, authors have noted that historically de facto economic corporatism was also used to reduce opposition and reward political loyalty.[32]
In Italy from 1922 until 1943, corporatism became influential amongst Italian nationalists led by Benito Mussolini. The Charter of Carnaro gained much popularity as the prototype of a "corporative state", having displayed much within its tenets as a guild system combining the concepts of autonomy and authority in a special synthesis.[33]Alfredo Rocco spoke of a corporative state and declared corporatist ideology in detail. Rocco would later become a member of the Italian Fascist regime Fascismo.[34]
Italian Fascism involved a corporatist political system in which the economy was collectively managed by employers, workers and state officials by formal mechanisms at the national level.[35] This non-elected form of state officializing of every interest into the state was professed to reduce the marginalization of singular interests (as would allegedly happen by the unilateral end condition inherent in the democratic voting process). Corporatism would instead better recognize or "incorporate" every divergent interest into the state organically, according to its supporters, thus being the inspiration for their use of the term totalitarian, perceivable to them as not meaning a coercive system but described distinctly as without coercion in the 1932 Doctrine of Fascism as thus:
When brought within the orbit of the State, Fascism recognizes the real needs which gave rise to socialism and trade unionism, giving them due weight in the guild or corporative system in which divergent interests are coordinated and harmonized in the unity of the State.[36]
[The state] is not simply a mechanism which limits the sphere of the supposed liberties of the individual... Neither has the Fascist conception of authority anything in common with that of a police ridden State... Far from crushing the individual, the Fascist State multiplies his energies, just as in a regiment a soldier is not diminished but multiplied by the number of his fellow soldiers.[36]
A popular slogan of the Italian Fascists under Mussolini was, "Tutto nello Stato, niente al di fuori dello Stato, nulla contro lo Stato" ("everything for the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state").
This prospect of Italian fascist corporatism claimed to be the direct heir of Georges Sorel's revolutionary syndicalism, such that each interest was to form as its own entity with separate organizing parameters according to their own standards, only however within the corporative model of Italian fascism each was supposed to be incorporated through the auspices and organizing ability of a statist construct. This was by their reasoning the only possible way to achieve such a function, i.e., when resolved in the capability of an indissoluble state. Much of the corporatist influence upon Italian Fascism was partly due to the Fascists' attempts to gain endorsement by the Roman Catholic Church that itself sponsored corporatism.[37]
However fascism's corporatism was a top-down model of state control over the economy while the Roman Catholic Church's corporatism favoured a bottom-up corporatism, whereby groups such as families and professional groups would voluntarily work together.[37][38] The fascist state corporatism (of Roman Catholic Italy) influenced the governments and economies of a not only other Roman Catholic-majority countries, such as the governments of Engelbert Dollfuss in Austria and Ant"nio de Oliveira Salazar in Portugal, but also Konstantin P¤ts and Kārlis Ulmanis in non-Catholic Estonia and Latvia. Fascists in non-Catholic countries also supported Italian Fascist corporatism, including Oswald Mosley of the British Union of Fascists who commended corporatism and said that "it means a nation organized as the human body, with each organ performing its individual function but working in harmony with the whole".[39] Mosley also considered corporatism as an attack on laissez-faire economics and "international finance".[39]
The corporatist state Salazar established in Portugal was not associated with Mussolini'--quite the opposite; he banished the fascist party in Portugal and distanced himself from all of Europe's fascist regimes. Portugal during Salazar's reign was considered "Catholic Corporatism". Portugal remained neutral throughout World War II. Salazar also had a strong dislike of Marxism and Liberalism.
In 1933, Salazar stated, "Our Dictatorship clearly resembles a fascist dictatorship in the reinforcement of authority, in the war declared against certain principles of democracy, in its accentuated nationalist character, in its preoccupation of social order. However, it differs from it in its process of renovation. The fascist dictatorship tends towards a pagan Caesarism, towards a state that knows no limits of a legal or moral order, which marches towards its goal without meeting complications or obstacles. The Portuguese New State, on the contrary, cannot avoid, not think of avoiding, certain limits of a moral order which it may consider indispensable to maintain in its favour of its reforming action".[40]
Neo-corporatism [ edit] During the post-World War II reconstruction period in Europe, corporatism was favoured by Christian democrats (often under the influence of Catholic social teaching), national conservatives, and social democrats in opposition to liberal capitalism. This type of corporatism became unfashionable but revived again in the 1960s and 1970s as "neo-corporatism" in response to the new economic threat of recession-inflation.
Neo-corporatism favoured economic tripartism which involved strong labour unions, employers' unions, and governments that cooperated as "social partners" to negotiate and manage a national economy.[21]Social corporatist systems instituted in Europe after World War II include the ordoliberal system of the social market economy in Germany, the social partnership in Ireland, the polder model in the Netherlands (although arguably the polder model already was present at the end of the First World War, it was not until after WW II that a social service system gained foothold there), the concertation system in Italy, the Rhine model in Switzerland and the Benelux countries, and the Nordic model in Scandinavia.
Attempts in the United States to create neo-corporatist capital-labor arrangements were unsuccessfully advocated by Gary Hart and Michael Dukakis in the 1980s. Robert Reich as U.S. Secretary of Labor during the Clinton administration promoted neo-corporatist reforms.[41]
Chinese corporatism [ edit] Chinese corporatism, as described by Jonathan Unger and Anita Chan in their essay China, Corporatism, and the East Asian Model:[42]
"at the national level the state recognizes one and only one organization (say, a national labour union, a business association, a farmers' association) as the sole representative of the sectoral interests of the individuals, enterprises or institutions that comprise that organization's assigned constituency. The state determines which organizations will be recognized as legitimate and forms an unequal partnership of sorts with such organizations. The associations sometimes even get channelled into the policy-making processes and often help implement state policy on the government's behalf."
By establishing itself as the arbiter of legitimacy and assigning responsibility for a particular constituency with one sole organization, the state limits the number of players with which it must negotiate its policies and co-opts their leadership into policing their own members. This arrangement is not limited to economic organizations such as business groups and social organizations.
The use of corporatism as a framework to understand the central state's behaviour in China has been criticized by authors such as Bruce Gilley and William Hurst.[43][44] Other scholars such as Jennifer Hsu and Reza Hasmath have argued the framework is still useful for analyzing China's local state behaviour and its engagement with social actors.[45][46][47]
Russian corporatism [ edit] On October 9, 2007, an article signed by Viktor Cherkesov, head of the Russian Drug Enforcement Administration, was published in Kommersant, where he used the term "corporativist state" in a positive way to describe the evolution of Russia. He claimed that the administration officials detained on criminal charges earlier that month are the exception rather than the rule and that the only development scenario for Russia that is both realistic enough and relatively favorable is to continue evolution into a corporativist state ruled by security service officials.[48]
Here is some background. In December 2005, Andrei Illarionov, former economic adviser to Vladimir Putin, claimed that Russia had become a corporativist state.
"The process of this state evolving into a new corporativist (sic) model reached its completion in 2005. ... The strengthening of the corporativist state model and setting up favorable conditions for quasi-state monopolies by the state itself hurt the economy. ... Cabinet members or key Presidential Staff executives chairing corporation boards or serving on those boards are the order of the day in Russia. In what Western country'--except in the corporativist state that lasted for 20 years in Italy'--is such a phenomenon possible? Which, actually, proves that the term 'corporativist' properly applies to Russia today."[49]
All political powers and most important economic assets in the country are controlled by former state security officials ("siloviks"), according to some researchers.[50] The takeover of Russian state and economic assets has been allegedly accomplished by a clique of Putin's close associates and friends[51] who gradually became a leading group of Russian oligarchs and who "seized control over the financial, media and administrative resources of the Russian state"[52] and restricted democratic freedoms and human rights[50]
Illarionov described the present situation in Russia as a new socio-political order, "distinct from any seen in our country before". In this model, members of the Corporation of Intelligence Service Collaborators [Russian abbreviation KSSS] took over the entire body of state power, follow an omerta-like behavior code, and "are given instruments conferring power over others '' membership ''perks'', such as the right to carry and use weapons". According to Illarionov, this "Corporation has seized key government agencies '' the Tax Service, Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Parliament, and the government-controlled mass media '' which are now used to advance the interests of KSSS members. Through these agencies, every significant resource of the country '' security/intelligence, political, economic, informational and financial '' is being monopolized in the hands of Corporation members"[53]
Analyst Andrei Piontkovsky also considers the present situation as "the highest and culminating stage of bandit capitalism in Russia''.[54] He believes that "Russia is not corrupt. Corruption is what happens in all countries when businessmen offer officials large bribes for favors. Today's Russia is unique. The businessmen, the politicians, and the bureaucrats are the same people."[55]
See also [ edit] ^ Waite, Duncan. In press. ''Imperial Hubris: The Dark Heart of Leadership.'' Journal of School Leadership; Waite, Duncan, Turan, Selhattin & Ni±o, Juan Manuel. (2013). ''Schools for Capitalism, Corporativism, and Corruption: Examples from Turkey and the US.'' In Ira Bogotch & Carolyn Shields (eds.), International Handbook of Social (In)Justice and Educational Leadership (pp. 619-642). Dordercht, The Netherlands: Springer; Waite, Duncan & Waite, Susan F. (2010). ''Corporatism and its Corruption of Democracy and Education.'' Journal of Education and Humanities, 1(2), 86-106 ^ . Wiarda, Howard J (1996). Corporatism and Comparative Politics: The Other Great Ism. 0765633671: M.E. Sharpe. pp. 22''23. ISBN 0765633671. ^ Wiarda, Howard J., pp. 27. ^ Clarke, Paul A. B; Foweraker, Joe. Encyclopedia of democratic thought. London, UK; New York, USA: Routledge, 2001. Pp. 113 ^ abcde Wiarda, Howard J., pp. 35. ^ ab Adler, Franklin Hugh.Italian Industrialists from Liberalism to Fascism: The Political Development of the Industrial Bourgeoisie, 1906''34. Pp. 349 ^ ab Wiarda, Howard J., pp. 10. ^ abc Murchison, Carl Allanmore; Allee, Warder Clyde. A handbook of social psychology, Volume 1. 1967. Pp. 150. ^ Conwy Lloyd Morgan, Conwy Lloyd. Animal Behaviour. Bibliolife, LLC, 2009. Pp. 14. ^ Wiarda, Howard J., pp. 31-38, 44, 111, 124, 140. ^ Hans Slomp. European politics into the twenty-first century: integration and division. Westport, Connecticut, USA: Praeger Publishers, 2000. Pp. 81 ^ Social Democratic Corporatism and Economic Growth, by Hicks, Alexander. 1988. The Journal of Politics, vol. 50, no. 3, pp. 677-704. 1988. ^ Bao-Er. China's Neo-traditional Rights of the Child. Blaxland, Australia: Lulu.com, 2006. Pp. 19. ^ ab Wiarda, Howard J., pp. 31. ^ Wiarda, Howard J., pp. 37. ^ Wiarda, Howard J., pp. 38. ^ Wiarda, Howard J., pp. 39. ^ Wiarda, Howard J., pp. 41. ^ ab Wiarda, Howard J., pp. 29. ^ ab Wiarda, Howard J., pp. 33. ^ abc R. J. Barry Jones. Routledge Encyclopedia of International Political Economy: Entries A-F. Taylor & Frances, 2001. Pp. 243. ^ Peter F. Klar(C)n, Thomas J. Bossert. Promise of development: theories of change in Latin America. Boulder, Colorado, USA: Westview Press, 1986. Pp. 221. ^ Francis Ludwig Carsten, Hermann Graml. The German resistance to Hitler. Berkeley and Los Angeles, California, USA: University of California Press. Pp. 93 ^ Ferdinand T¶nnies, Jos(C) Harris. Community and civil society. Cambridge University Press, 2001 (first edition in 1887 as Gemeinschaft und Gesellschaft). Pp. xxxii-xxxiii. ^ abc Antony Black, pp. 226. ^ Antony Black, pp. 223. ^ Antony Black, pp. 226, 228. ^ Gregg, Samuel. The commercial society: foundations and challenges in a global age. Lanham,USA; Plymouth, UK: Lexington Books, 2007. Pp. 109 ^ ab Waring, Stephen P. Taylorism Transformed: Scientific Management Theory Since 1945. University of North Carolina Press, 1994. Pp. 193. ^ Wiarda, Howard J., pp. 134. ^ Mark Mazower, Dark Continent: Europe's 20th Century p. 29 ISBN 0-679-43809-2 ^ "Fascism." Encyclop...dia Britannica. Encyclop...dia Britannica Online. Encyclop...dia Britannica, 2010. Web. 15 April 2010 [1]. ^ Parlato, Giuseppe (2000). La sinistra fascista (in Italian). Bologna: Il Mulino. p. 88. ^ Payne, Stanley G. 1996. A History of Fascism, 1914''1945. [2] Routledge. Pp. 64 [3]ISBN 1-85728-595-6. ^ The Routledge Companion to Fascism and the Far Right (2002) by Peter Jonathan Davies and Derek Lynch, Routledge (UK), ISBN 0-415-21494-7 p.143. ^ ab Mussolini '' The Doctrine of Fascism ^ ab Morgan, Philip. Fascism in Europe, 1919''1945. Routledge, 2003. P. 170. ^ Lewis, Paul H. Authoritarian regimes in Latin America: dictators, despots, and tyrants. Lanham, Maryland, USA: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc, 2006. Pp. 131. "Fascism differed from Catholic corporatism by assigning the state the role of final arbiter, in the event that employer and labor syndicates failed to agree." ^ ab Robert Eccleshall, Vincent Geoghegan, Richard Jay, Michael Kenny, Iain Mackenzie, Rick Wilford. Political Ideologies: An Introduction. 2nd ed. Routledge, 1994. P. 208. ^ Studies: An Irish Quarterly Review Vol. 92, No. 368, Winter, 2003 ^ Waring, Stephen P. Taylorism Transformed: Scientific Management Theory Since 1945. University of North Carolina Press, 1994. Pp. 194. ^ "China¼ŒCorporatism¼Œand the East Asian Model". By Jonathan Unger and Anita Chan, 1994. ^ Bruce Gilley (2011) "Paradigms of Chinese Politics: Kicking Society Back Out", Journal of Contemporary China 20(70). ^ William Hurst (2007) "The City as the Focus: The Analysis of Contemporary Chinese Urban Politics', China Information 20(30). ^ Jennifer Hsu and Reza Hasmath (2014) ''The Local Corporatist State and NGO Relations in China'', Journal of Contemporary China 23(87). ^ Jennifer Hsu and Reza Hasmath (2013) The Chinese Corporatist State: Adaptation, Survival and Resistance. New York: Routledge. ^ Reza Hasmath and Jennifer Hsu (2009) China in an Era of Transition: Understanding Contemporary State and Society Actors. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. ^ Cherkesov, Viktor. Ð'еÐ>>ьзя доÐустить, чтобы воины ÐÑевÑатиÐ>>ись в тоÑÐ"овцев. Kommersant #184 (3760), October 9, 2007. English translationArchived 2007-10-25 at the Wayback Machine. and CommentsArchived 2007-10-17 at the Wayback Machine. by Grigory Pasko ^ "Q&A: Putin's Critical Adviser". By Yuri Zarakhovich. December 31, 2005. Time magazine. ^ ab The Chekist Takeover of the Russian State, Anderson, Julie (2006), International Journal of Intelligence and Counter-Intelligence, 19:2, 237 - 288. ^ The Essence of Putinism: The Strengthening of the Privatized State by Dmitri Glinski Vassiliev, Center for Strategic and International Studies, November 2000 ^ What is 'Putinism'?, by Andranik Migranyan, Russia in Global affairs, 13 April 2004 ^ Andrei Illarionov: Approaching Zimbabwe (Russian)Partial English translationArchived 2007-07-05 at the Wayback Machine. ^ Putinism: highest stage of robber capitalism, by Andrei Piontkovsky, The Russia Journal, February 7''13, 2000. The title is an allusion to work "Imperialism as the last and culminating stage of capitalism" by Vladimir Lenin ^ Review of Andrei's Pionkovsky's Another Look Into Putin's Soul by the Honorable Rodric Braithwaite, Hoover Institute References [ edit] Further reading [ edit] Acocella, N. and Di Bartolomeo, G. [2007], 'Is corporatism feasible?', in: 'Metroeconomica', 58(2): 340-59.Jones, R. J. Barry. Routledge Encyclopedia of International Political Economy: Entries A-F. Taylor & Frances, 2001. ISBN 978-0-415-14532-9.Taha Parla and Andrew Davison, Corporatist Ideology in Kemalist Turkey Progress or Order?, 2004, Syracuse University Press, ISBN 0-8156-3054-9On Italian corporatism [ edit] On fascist corporatism and its ramifications [ edit] Baker, David, The political economy of fascism: Myth or reality, or myth and reality?, '"New Political Economy'", Volume 11, Issue 2 June 2006, pages 227''250.Marra, Realino, Aspetti dell'esperienza corporativa nel periodo fascista, "Annali della Facolt di Giurisprudenza di Genova", XXIV-1.2, 1991''92, pages 366''79.There is an essay on "The Doctrine of Fascism" credited to Benito Mussolini that appeared in the 1932 edition of the Enciclopedia Italiana, and excerpts can be read at Doctrine of Fascism. There are also links there to the complete text.My rise and fall, Volumes 1''2 '' two autobiographies of Mussolini, editors Richard Washburn Child, Max Ascoli, Richard Lamb, Da Capo Press, 1998The 1928 autobiography of Benito Mussolini. Online.My Autobiography. Book by Benito Mussolini; Charles Scribner's Sons, 1928. ISBN 978-0-486-44777-3.On neo-corporatism [ edit] Katzenstein, Peter. Small States in World Markets: industrial policy in Europe. Ithaca, 1985. Cornell University Press. ISBN 978-0-8014-9326-3.Olson, Mancur. The Logic of Collective Action: Public Goods and the Theory of Groups. [4] 1965, 1971. Harvard University Press. ISBN 978-0-674-53751-4.Schmitter, P. C. and Lehmbruch, G. (eds.). Trends toward Corporatist Intermediation. London, 1979. ISBN 978-0-8039-9837-7.Rodrigues, Lucia Lima. "Corporatism, liberalism and the accounting profession in Portugal since 1755." Journal of Accounting Historians, June 2003.External links [ edit] Look up corporatism in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.EncyclopediasArticlesProfessor Thayer Watkins, The economic system of corporatism, San Jose State University, Department of EconomicsChip Berlet, "Mussolini on the Corporate State", 2005, Political Research Associates;"Economic Fascism" by Thomas J. DiLorenzo, The Freeman, Vol. 44, No. 6, June 1994, Foundation for Economic Education; Irvington-on-Hudson, New York, USA.
The FBI Scandal Hiding in Plain Sight - Bloomberg
Fri, 15 Dec 2017 06:26
Remember the last time Republicans said the FBI was pro-Clinton? That was just before Democrats said James Comey and his FBI were anti-Clinton.
If you're looking for a Justice Department scandal regarding Robert Mueller's investigation into Russia's influence of the 2016 election, it's hiding in plain sight. Look no further than the government's release of the private texts between Peter Strzok and Lisa Page.
Both Strzok, an FBI counter-intelligence agent, and Page, an FBI lawyer, were involved in the 2016 investigation into Hillary Clinton's private email server, and were both briefly on Mueller's team investigating Russia's influence of the 2016 election. In the texts from 2015 and 2016, they complained about the Republican presidential nominee's intelligence and demeanor (including in unprintable terms). In July, those private texts came to the attention of the Justice Department's inspector general. The FBI reassigned Strzok to human resources, while Page left the special counsel's probe.
The inspector general's investigation is ongoing. Perhaps more evidence will emerge that the privately held opinions of two investigators contributed to then-FBI director James Comey's decision in July 2016 not to charge Clinton with a crime. (That was when the Republicans said the FBI was pro-Clinton. Before Comey called the finality of that inquiry into question just days before the 2016 election and the Democrats said the FBI was anti-Clinton.) Until charges are pressed and evidence is considered, however, Page and Strzok are owed some due process.
They aren't getting it. This week, the Justice Department not only disclosed to Congress their private texts during an ongoing investigation, but then briefed their private texts to the media. This last point was first reported Wednesday by Natasha Bertrand of Business Insider. I was also able to confirm it.
When I asked Ian Prior, a Justice Department spokesman, about the due process rights of Strzok and Page, he said: "The Department ensures that its release of information from the Department to members of Congress or to the media is consistent with law, including the Privacy Act." He went on to say that the information the Department provided to Congress in response to requests for the information was not subject "withholding exceptions," that lawyers for Congress and relevant parties were informed of this beforehand and that "career officials determined that the text messages could be released under both ethical and legal standards."
If that is the case, then the Justice Department is in need of reform. Let's start with an obvious point. Publication of someone's private texts -- even if they are conducted on government phones -- is an astonishing breach of privacy. How many of us say or write things intended for one person that we would not say in a public forum? Also consider how a snippet of one's conversation in private can be taken out of context to misconstrue its meaning.
It's not relevant whether the investigators held private political opinions. We should assume that all federal employees do. FBI officers and lawyers are American citizens with the same free speech rights as the rest of us.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein acknowledged this on Wednesday before the House Judiciary Committee. He said: ''We recognize we have employees with political opinions. It's our responsibility to make sure those opinions do not influence their actions."
Former assistant U.S. attorney Andrew McCarthy, a withering critic of the investigation into Trump, told me that he had problems with the way this case has been handled. "I think it's wrong that their texts have been massively released to the public,'' he said. ''I do think they should have been vetted so that only stuff that was relevant to whether there was bias in Mueller's investigation was sent to Congress. Congress is entitled to look at that, just as Mueller was entitled to look at that. But in an investigation, the public usually doesn't have a right to know about this until charges are brought."
McCarthy's point is well taken. It's hard to know what to make of all of this until all of the facts come in. The most damning text to emerge from the batch was where Strzok wrote to Page: "I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy's office '-- that there's no way he gets elected '-- but I'm afraid we can't take that risk. It's like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you're 40.'' In this text, "Andy" is deputy FBI director, Andrew McCabe.
That doesn't look great. It's also inconclusive. It's something the Justice Department's inspector general should be running down. It's also something that would be appropriate for oversight committees in Congress to examine. What is this "insurance plan? Is this a reference to the FBI's investigation, which started a few weeks earlier, into the Trump campaign's possible collusion with Russian efforts to influence the election? From that text alone, it's impossible to know.
What is possible to know in this case is that officials more senior than Strzok and Page did appear to exercise influence on the Clinton email probe. There was the instruction from President Barack Obama's attorney general, Loretta Lynch, to former FBI director James Comey, for example, to refer to his investigation as a "matter." There was also Obama's own statement to the media before that "matter" was closed, saying that none of the material on Clinton's private server amounted to a serious breach of classified information.
Finally there are bits and pieces of what we know about Strzok himself. U.S. intelligence officials that I talked to about him tell me he is an outstanding counter-intelligence officer who worked well with both the Obama and Trump administrations. What's more, Strzok was one of the FBI agents who interviewed Michael Flynn, Trump's former national security adviser, about his phone calls to the Russian ambassador in January. Multiple news outlets reported that the FBI officials who interviewed Flynn did not conclude he had deliberately lied,
even though this month Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI in that interview. If Strzok had allowed his anti-Trump bias to influence his work, why wouldn't he report that Flynn had intentionally deceived him?
That is another good question for the oversight committees and the Justice Department's inspector general. All of this is to say that we should reserve judgment about Strzok and Page.
The Justice Department's decision to instead release private communications is reminiscent of the weeks before the 2016 election, when FBI officials leaked their own complaints about how the investigation into the Clinton Foundation was stymied -- when documents involving former attorney general Eric Holder's handling of former President Bill Clinton's pardon of Marc Rich were mysteriously tweeted out from a long-dormant FBI account. Back then, the same Republicans who now accuse the FBI of trying to destroy Trump were cheering the bureau's last-minute intervention in the election on his behalf.
This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.
To contact the author of this story:
Eli Lake at elake1@bloomberg.net
To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Philip Gray at philipgray@bloomberg.net
Deep State
Peter Stzroks=Andrew McCabe
Peter Strzok (pronounced stroke) Strokes his Peter. That, my friends, is a fake name. Like Petraeus and "betray us" only this time its much more blatant.
"Strzok" is gibberish and is two letters away from "stroke." By replacing the "E" with a "Z", the DO"J" fools millions of people with a fake name that, one might say, is just "two: E,Z" (too easy) to fool you with. All under the guise of "national security" as per https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smith–Mundt_Act
McCabe and "Strzok" have the EXACT same counter-intelligence backgrounds. They gave the same "dog and pony" interviews to clinton mills and abedin which were unprecedented. Who gives suspects of the same investigation the SAME non-taped interview? A clintonite put-up maybe? Strzok is starting to sound like McCabe.
They both deliberately used fake intelligence to sabotage a sitting president by providing "intel" from chris steele for a FISA warrant. Or at leat, we're "suspicious" of it. So is congress.
They were both on the mueller witch hunt. They both are "next in line" counter intelligence agents They were both recently demoted
Strzok changed Hillary's report from "grossly negligent" (the statute) to "extremely careless." Those are synonymous. Which begs the question why change it? Is counter-intelligence a euphemism for espionage in the DO"J"? Yes.
Strzok was sending thousands of texts (exchanging intelligence) with "Lisa Page," FBI lawyer part of Mueller's team. Lisa Page (Lease a Page (lease a dossier?)) gets intel from Mueller investigation, then texts "Strzok" (McCabe) who gets FISA warrant, then the intel from FISA surveillance goes back to Mueller.
But "Strzok" will never respond to the congressional subpoenas because he doesn't exist. It's Mccabe. It's definitely McCabe on paper. If you were attempting espionage via the DOJ, why would you give house oversight the opportunity to subpoena you? You wouldn't.
If you were the FBI you would make up a fake name with a wink (I Stroke my Peter EZ) and attach McCabe's credentials to corroborate the bias narrative. Then, since no one has ever heard of him, you release a stock photo of someone in a tie with an american flag to the mockingbird media. And say "this is him."
That way, if youre a co-conspiritor in espionage (McCabe) you can discredit the russia investigation and therefore stop Flynn's (house/military/mossad intel) testimony by leaking a political bias. At the same time, you throw off congressional subpoenas with the fake name and picture all over the "news."
Otherwise you get caught before you impeach Trump.
If you get caught committing espionage (with FusionGPS) and you killed people in the process, you are an ENEMY COMBATANT OF THE STATE and will be treated as such by the military and military intel. Like pence and flynn. Betsy DeVos's brother knows where MANY bodies are buried.. That's why you sabotage flynns testimony.
4000+ sealed indictments across country.. Mueller would never publicly indict himself and his friends unless he was forced to.. Until then it's "sealed" from view He'd rather impeach trump for "obstruction" of "justice."
TL;DR Strzok is a fake name. It's the FBI (McCabe) hiding from congressional oversight and sabotaging Flynn's testimony against them. Otherwise they get caught for espionage. If Trump can prove the DOJ was paid to conspire against him, then that opens a can of hellfire for the clintonites.
Trump helped take down bigger money than the Clintons in his ally Prince Salman's power struggle against Al Waleed bin Talal. Don't you think he'd return the favor? Or was the takedown part of the favor?.. No more clinton slush fund funnel from SA.. No more money means the rats turn on eachother.
Former CIA Director Admits ''Thoughtful'' Intelligence Operation Against Candidate Trump, Now Regrets'... | The Last Refuge
Tue, 12 Dec 2017 05:01
In an otherwise well-buried interview between former interim CIA Director Mike Morell, (the temp director following Petraeus ouster used during initial Benghazi cover), there's an admission by Morell about the politicized Deep State Intelligence leadership targeting candidate Donald Trump.
What this interview tells CTH is that the Intelligence Community, writ large, is on the precipice of massive institutional change -perhaps high level firings of remaining mid level operators and management- and those who participated in the historic politicization are now attempting to shape an explanation.
[Via Politico] QUESTION: Was that a mistake?
Mike Morell: So, I don't think it was a mistake. I think there were downsides to it that I didn't think about at the time. I was concerned about what is the impact it would have on the agency, right? Very concerned about that, thought that through. But I don't think I fully thought through the implications.
And one of the ways I've thought about that, Susan, is'--okay, how did Donald Trump see this? Right? And from'--it's very important'--one of the things we do as intelligence analysts is make sure that our guy'--the president'--understands the other guy. Right?
So, let's put ourselves here in Donald Trump's shoes. So, what does he see? Right? He sees a former director of CIA and a former director of NSA, Mike Hayden, who I have the greatest respect for, criticizing him and his policies. Right? And he could rightfully have said, ''Huh, what's going on with these intelligence guys?'' Right?
Beyond all else what Morell is doing here is an admission. Mike Morell is admitting to the politicization of the intelligence community.
Morell is also admitting that every concern expressed by candidate, president-elect and President Trump was -and is- correct. However, Morell is simultaneously trying to explain, justify and excuse it; as well as cover his ass.
['...] And then he sees a former acting director and deputy director of CIA criticizing him and endorsing his opponent. And then he gets his first intelligence briefing, after becoming the Republican nominee, and within 24 to 48 hours, there are leaks out of that that are critical of him and his then-national security advisor, Mike Flynn.
And so, this stuff starts to build, right? And he must have said to himself, ''What is it with these intelligence guys? Are they political?'' The current director at the time, John Brennan, during the campaign occasionally would push back on things that Donald Trump had said.
So, when Trump talked about the Iran nuclear deal being the worst deal in the history of American diplomacy, and he was going to tear it up on the first day'--John Brennan came out publicly and said, ''That would be an act of folly.'' So, he sees current sitting director pushing back on him. Right?
Then he becomes president, and he's supposed to be getting a daily brief from the moment he becomes the president-elect. Right? And he doesn't. And within a few days, there's leaks about how he's not taking his briefing. So, he must have thought'--right?'--that, ''Who are these guys? Are these guys out to get me? Is this a political organization? Can I think about them as a political organization when I become president?''
So, I think there was a significant downside to those of us who became political in that moment. So, if I could have thought of that, would I have ended up in a different place? I don't know. But it's something I didn't think about. (read more)
The entire interview with Mike Morell is an exercise in ass-covering as the larger institutional Intelligence Community (IC) begins to see what's coming into focus on the horizon. James Clapper and John Brennan previously tried this approach.
It is not coincidental the origin of all 'vast-Russian-conspiracy' stories seem to start with a discussion of intelligence gathering beginning in July of 2016. The GOP convention to nominate Donald Trump was July 18-21st of 2016.
Surrounding the nomination that stunned the geo-political world almost every foreign government was trying to figure out who and what Donald J Trump was all about; and more specifically: how would his run for the presidency impact their specific interests.
WASHINGTON NYT '-- American spies collected information last summer revealing that senior Russian intelligence and political officials were discussing how to exert influence over Donald J. Trump through his advisers, according to three current and former American officials familiar with the intelligence.
[Paragraph #5] The information collected last summer was considered credible enough for intelligence agencies to pass to the F.B.I., which during that period opened a counterintelligence investigation that is continuing. It is unclear, however, whether Russian officials actually tried to directly influence Mr. Manafort and Mr. Flynn. Both have denied any collusion with the Russian government on the campaign to disrupt the election. (link)
The New York Times should win a Pulitzer for undermining their own 'Russian Conspiracy' headline narrative within the fifth paragraph. [It's a current trend] I digress.
Obviously Russia would be asking these questions along with China, France, England, the larger EU and every nation in every continent. It would be silly to claim otherwise.
Ergo a diplomatic mission by Russian governmental officials surrounding the GOP convention to understand the Trump orbit is no different than a Chinese, European or Arab-Asian effort for the same reason.
However, what the international interest did necessarily initiate was a bunch of foreign officials making contact with anyone and everyone who would be associated with Trump-world regardless of concentric circle distance from the epicenter.
That intellectually honest understanding highlights how the origin of the July 2016 raw intelligence gathering began so easily. The CIA monitoring chatter amid foreign diplomats, their customary job, turns into raw data provided to the FBI which in turn becomes FISA warrants to explore the U.S. contacts on the other side of that chatter.
The FISA warrants turn into intelligence reports and that begins the entire process now known as ''unmasking'' etc. Nothing within this process so far is even in question. This is the accurate backdrop for the origin of intelligence reports used as political weapons. CIA Director John Brennan testified to this exact process before congress.
However, what is not reported by any media outline is John Brennan, understanding the potential legal risk looming on the horizon, also completely backed toward the exit and threw FBI Director James Comey in front of the rapidly approaching sunlight.
Former CIA Director John Brennan gave very specific testimony to congress where he noted he provided the raw intelligence to FBI Director Comey '' FULLSTOP.
Where ''fullstop'' directly and immediately indicates Brennan's throwing the responsibility for all that came next upon FBI Director James Comey. John Brennan did the 'outta-here-like-a-fat-kid-playing-dodge-ball routine' with great specificity:
''Again, in consultation with the White House, I PERSONALLY briefed the full details of our understanding of Russian attempts to interfere in the election to congressional leadership; specifically: Senators Harry Reid, Mitch McConnell, Dianne Feinstein and Richard Burr; and to representatives Paul Ryan, Nancy Pelosi, Devin Nunes and Adam Schiff between 11th August and 6th September [2016], I provided the same briefing to each of the gang of eight members.''
''Given the highly sensitive nature of what was an active counter-intelligence case [that means the FBI], involving an ongoing Russian effort, to interfere in our presidential election, the full details of what we knew at the time were shared only with those members of congress; each of whom was accompanied by one senior staff member.'''... (link)
Shorter version: don't try pinning this Russian investigation, FISA warrants and the illegal leaks, on me; I just provided the raw intelligence.
It is important to emphasize here the possibly illegal ''unmasking'', and the certainly illegal ''leaking'', were all based on intelligence reports generated from raw intelligence, and not the raw intelligence itself. It was the FBI (Comey) and ODNI (Clapper) generating the intel reports, including the Presidents' Daily Briefing (PDB).
The CIA provided raw intel, and the NSA generated the raw monitoring intelligence from the characters identified by the CIA and approved by FBI FISA warrant submissions.
It would be EXPLOSIVE if it turned out the October 2016 FISA warrant was gained by deception, misleading/manipulated information, or fraud as a result of the Russian Dossier; and exponentially more explosive if the dossier was -in part- organized by the wife of an investigative member of the DOJ who was applying for the FISA warrant; the same warrant that led to the wiretapping and surveillance of the Trump campaign and General Flynn, and was authorized by FISA Court Judge Contreras '' who was, until recently, the judge in Flynn's case.
The FBI were running the counter-intelligence operation and generating the actual reports that were eventually shared with the White House, Susan Rice and the Dept of Justice. Those reports, and interpretations of the report content, were eventually leaked to the media.
During the time James Comey's FBI was generating the intelligence reports, Comey admitted he intentionally never informed congressional oversight: ''because of the sensitivity of the matter''.
John Brennan effectively (and intentionally) took himself out of the picture from the perspective of the illegal acts within the entire process. James Clapper while rubbing his face and scratching his head had taken the same route earlier.
That leaves James Comey.
How will 'ber-political James Comey play his hand?
The answer to that question explains why Comey changed his mind on testifying to congress before talking to newly appointed special counsel Robert Mueller.
Former FBI Director James Comey is not stupid and is intensely political. Comey understands the legal risks he is facing within the faux ''Russian conspiracy story'' and the ''subsequent leaking'' of his political FBI reports.
James Clapper (DNI) and John Brennan (CIA) have essentially left Comey holding the bag of nothing-burgers while standing on the hot coals of possibly: A) illegal leaking; and B.) unethical unmasking; and C.) illegal use of investigative resources for political objectives '' All three stemming from activity within his FBI counter-intelligence investigation.
If the entire fiasco blows up, does Comey anticipate the Trump DOJ taking legal action against him? If yes, can Comey leverage/mold the nothing-burgers into plausible claims of investigative interference by President Trump in order to generate a get-out-of-jail card for himself?'.... Now we understand the current narrative status.
Beside the media, who will help Comey in that regard?
Decisions'... decisions'....
Miles Beyond Sketchy '' Wife of Demoted DOJ Official Worked For Fusion GPS on Russian Dossier Against Trump'....
Tue, 12 Dec 2017 05:03
Things are beyond brutally obvious in this entire 'muh Russian conspiracy' narrative. Last week it was revealed DOJ Assoc. Deputy Attorney General Bruce G Ohrwas demoted because he had working relationships with dossier author Christopher Steele and Fusion GPS, and did not reveal his October 2016 contacts with current officials.
Today, the ongoing saga gets more sketchy as it is revealed Bruce G Ohr's wife, Nellie H. Ohr, actually worked for Fusion GPS and likely helped guide/script the Russian Dossier.
JAMES ROSEN'' A senior Justice Department official demoted last week for concealing his meetings with the men behind the anti-Trump ''dossier'' had even closer ties to Fusion GPS, the firm responsible for the incendiary document, than have been disclosed, Fox News has confirmed: The official's wife worked for Fusion GPS during the 2016 election.
Contacted by Fox News, investigators for the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) confirmed that Nellie H. Ohr, wife of the demoted official, Bruce G. Ohr, worked for the opposition research firm last year. The precise nature of Mrs. Ohr's duties '' including whether she worked on the dossier '' remains unclear but a review of her published works available online reveals Mrs. Ohr has written extensively on Russia-related subjects. HPSCI staff confirmed to Fox News that she was paid by Fusion GPS through the summer and fall of 2016.
Fusion GPS has attracted scrutiny because Republican lawmakers have spent the better part of this year investigating whether the dossier, which was funded by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee, served as the basis for the Justice Department and the FBI to obtain FISA surveillance last year on a Trump campaign adviser named Carter Page.
''The House Intelligence Committee,'' Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., told Fox News in a statement on Monday, ''is looking into all facets of the connections between the Department of Justice and Fusion GPS, including Mr. Ohr.''
Until Dec. 6, when Fox News began making inquiries about him, Bruce Ohr held two titles at DOJ. He was, and remains, director of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force; but his other job was far more senior. Mr. Ohr held the rank of associate deputy attorney general, a post that gave him an office four doors down from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
The day before Fox News reported that Mr. Ohr held his secret meetings last year with the founder of Fusion GPS, Glenn Simpson, and with Christopher Steele, the former British spy who compiled the dossier, the Justice Department stripped Ohr of his deputy title and ousted him from his fourth floor office at the building that DOJ insiders call ''Main Justice.'' (read more)
In October 2016, the month where a FISA Judge granted the warrant for wiretapping and surveillance, the FBI (via Agent Strzok), and DOJ (via Deputy AG Bruce Ohr), were both in contact with Russian Dossier author Christopher Steele and Fusion GPS.
Nellie H. Ohr is working for Fusion GPS with expertise in Russian affairs at the time.
October 2016 is EXACTLY when The Obama administration submits a new, narrow request to the FISA court, now focused on a computer server in Trump Tower suspected of links to Russian banks. As Andrew McCarthy pointed out months ago: ''No evidence is found '-- but the wiretaps continue, ostensibly for national security reasons. The Obama administration is now monitoring an opposing presidential campaign using the high-tech surveillance powers of the federal intelligence services.'' (link)
Are you seeing how the dots connect?
June/July 2016 a FISA request is denied. This is simultaneous to FBI agent Strzok initial contact with Christopher Steele and the preliminary draft of the dossier.
October 2016 a FISA request approved. This is simultaneous to agent Strzok and Assoc. Deputy AG Bruce G Ohr in contact with Christopher Steele and the full dossier.
It would be EXPLOSIVE if it turned out the October 2016 FISA warrant was gained by deception, misleading/manipulated information, or fraud as a result of the Russian Dossier; and exponentially more explosive if the dossier was -in part- organized by the wife of an investigative member of the DOJ who was applying for the FISA warrant; the same warrant that led to the wiretapping and surveillance of the Trump campaign and General Flynn, and was authorized by FISA Court Judge Contreras '' who was, until recently, the judge in Flynn's case.
Glenn Simpson's Fusion GPS used Jeffrey Epstein in Donald Trump smear campaign - Washington Times
Tue, 12 Dec 2017 18:10
Fusion GPS, the opposition research firm whose Democrat-financed Russia dossier fueled an FBI investigation into Donald Trump, pitched other stories about the Republican presidential candidate to Washington reporters, including an attempt to tie him to a convicted pedophile who was once buddies with former President Bill Clinton.
Journalist sources told The Washington Times that Fusion founder Glenn Simpson pushed the idea of a close relationship between Mr. Trump and Jeffrey Epstein, who pleaded guilty in 2008 to soliciting sex from an underage girl.
The Trump-Epstein link appears purely social, far short of Mr. Clinton's 20-plus plane rides on Epstein's ''Lolita Express'' private jet around the globe in the early 2000s.
SEE ALSO: Democrats desperate to prove debunked Russian dossier's sex charge against Trump
Ken Silverstein, the reporter who ultimately wrote an Epstein-Trump report, confirmed to The Times that Fusion had sourced the story. Mr. Silverstein, founder and editor of WashingtonBabylon.com who wrote the story for Vice.com, defended Mr. Simpson as a solid source of information that must first be confirmed.
For years, Fusion GPS has been an influential hidden hand in Washington, with entree into the city's most powerful news bureaus.
Behind the scenes, the private intelligence firm run by former Wall Street Journal reporters was particularly active last year working to defeat Mr. Trump. Fusion leader Mr. Simpson, who railed against sleazy opposition research as a reporter, harbored a strong desire to bring down the builder of hotels with, well, opposition research.
Fusion representatives met with New York Times reporters during the Democratic National Convention in July 2016.
Ironically, it appears The Times was the first to out Fusion on Jan. 11 as the source of the scandalous dossier that BuzzFeed posted the previous day. BuzzFeed did the posting without identifying Fusion or dossier writer Christopher Steele, a former British spy.
''The New York Times, I know they work with Fusion,'' said Mr. Silverstein, an investigative reporter who skewers the left and right. ''Fusion works with a lot of big media organizations. That would give them influence in Washington.''
''I have worked with them,'' he said. ''I have gotten tips from them and stories from them. And every time I do, I go out and re-report '... because I assume it is for a client and it is not 100 percent accurate. And I've never gotten anything from them that was 100 percent accurate. Not because they were slanting or lying or twisting. Every time I've gotten something from them, 'This is a report. You've got to check it out.' I have a great relationship with those guys.''
During summer 2016, Fusion's juicy tidbits enticed a number of elite journalists to heed Mr. Simpson's call to meet Mr. Steele in person.
By then, Fusion had amassed a deep database on Mr. Trump, his contacts, his holdings and his deals.
''Fusion has filed a ton of [Freedom of Information Act] requests on Trump, especially in New York,'' said the journalist source who asked not to be named and has had contact with the firm.
A Washington Times inquiry found that Mr. Simpson and crew were dishing out other supposed dirt on Mr. Trump and friends not contained in the 35-page dossier. Some of those tips have proved to be as shaky as Mr. Steele's election collusion charges.
Besides the Jeffrey Epstein dump, Fusion pushed the story that a special email server existed between Trump Tower and Moscow's Alfa bank, the journalist source said. The report has failed to catch on. Internet sleuths traced the IP address to a marketing spam server located outside Philadelphia.
Pre-dossier, readers rarely had seen Fusion's hand in sourcing stories even though it may have instigated and framed scores of them over the years.
Fusion unmasked
Today, Fusion's cover has been blown. It feels the sting of unwanted publicity in both the liberal and conservative press and intense scrutiny from Republicans on Capitol Hill. Senate and House committees demanded that Fusion produce representatives for hours of closed-door testimony.
Devin Nunes, California Republican and chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, signed subpoenas forcing Fusion to disclose who pays it and whom it pays. His probe unmasked the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic Party as dossier financiers.
Why such intense intrusion into a secretive opposition research firm?
The unmasking agent was Fusion's own product: Mr. Steele's dossier. It has proved to be so unfounded on its core collusion charges yet so influential in prompting investigations of the president that Republicans demanded to know its roots.
Those roots are: After Democrats paid Fusion through a middleman law firm, Mr. Simpson in June 2016 hired Mr. Steele with Clinton campaign cash. Mr. Steele in turn handed out money to unidentified Kremlin operatives who sullied Mr. Trump and associates.
As Mr. Steele churned out dossier chapters during the summer campaign, Mr. Simpson peddled them to Washington's mightiest journalists.
Mr. Steele wrote in July, the month he briefed the FBI and it began its probe, of an ''extensive conspiracy between Trump's campaign team and the Kremlin.''
After the BuzzFeed posting, The New York Times outed the dossier duo of Fusion and Mr. Steele.
Democrats began to cite the dossier's unconfirmed Trump charges at hearings and on TV.
As the charges remained unconfirmed into the spring, Republicans started focusing attention on a firm whose livelihood relies on a cloak of confidentiality.
Republicans, including Mr. Nunes and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa have been conducting investigations into how the dossier influenced the FBI to start one of the most important criminal investigations in U.S. history.
As Fusion fends off pursuers and gets ensnared in libel lawsuits against Mr. Steele and BuzzFeed, its costs are mounting.
Three Russian businessmen-bankers are suing Fusion for libel, creating a second legal front. Fusion is paying at least two law firms to fend off Mr. Nunes' incursion in U.S. District Court.
''They're under the weather because of their legal bills,'' the journalist source said.
Part of Fusion's defense is that it enjoys First Amendment rights just like its founders' days at The Wall Street Journal.
Fusion jealously guards the list of its journalistic recipients and, in turn, is treated as a confidential source to the point that there are rarely Simpson fingerprints on its investigative products.
But the dossier's disclosure broke the code of silence. In one of three libel lawsuits, Mr. Steele has been forced to explain how he and Fusion worked together.
In a court filing in London, he named names: In Washington in September, Mr. Steele met with The New York Times, The Washington Post, Yahoo News, The New Yorker and CNN '-- a who's who of America's liberal media establishment.
The next month, Mr. Steele said, he delivered a second briefing to The New York Times, The Washington Post and Yahoo News.
Before Mr. Steele's D.C. visit, Fusion turned to old colleagues at The Wall Street Journal. In July, a reporter contacted Carter Page, a Trump campaign volunteer. Mr. Steele had spun a web of deceit and lawbreaking by Mr. Page on a trip he took to Moscow to deliver a public speech at a university.
The call blindsided Mr. Page, a New York energy investor who had no idea a dossier time bomb lay ready to destroy his life. The call also showed that Fusion can summon the top of Washington's journalism food chain to run down its tips.
The Wall Street Journal did not run a story at that time. Mr. Page, who lived in Moscow in the 2000s and knows scores of Russians, said the dossier sections on him are fabrications.
Mr. Steele said he warned journalists that they must confirm his intelligence before reporting. Mr. Steele ''understood that the information provided might be used for the purpose of further research, but would not be published or attributed,'' his attorneys said.
Two journalists did write stories.
Yahoo News' Michael Isikoff wrote of the charges against Mr. Page, attributing them not to the dossier but to a Western intelligence source. The story blazed across the internet and became red meat for Clinton campaign surrogates.
Mr. Page has filed a libel lawsuit against Yahoo News.
On Oct. 31, 2016, a second dossier story appeared, this one by David Corn in the left-leaning magazine Mother Jones. He is also a co-author with Mr. Isikoff of ''Hubris,'' a book on the Iraq War that is critical of former President George W. Bush.
Mr. Corn conducted perhaps the only published interview with Mr. Steele during the election campaign, though he hid the ex-spy's identity as a ''former senior intelligence officer.'' The story refers to Fusion but not by name.
Mr. Steele's quotes conveyed an energized source as he bragged about his ability to get the FBI to accept his memos beginning in early July and then starting an investigation into the Trump campaign.
The FBI has refused to publicly answer dossier questions. The Mother Jones story is among the best-known evidence that the bureau began investigating the Trump campaign based on a Democratic Party-financed scandal sheet that remains unconfirmed.
In January 2016, as candidate Trump scrambled to stitch together a presidential campaign against 16 Republican opponents, Vice.com ran a story on his ties to Epstein, the billionaire sex offender who owns a Caribbean island called Little St. James.
Reporters have confirmed Mr. Clinton's visits to the island aboard Epstein's ''Lolita Expres,'' based on court records.
Mr. Trump's ties to the fellow Florida billionaire appear to be more social '-- some dinner parties, two plane trips, and hanging out at Mr. Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida.
A woman filed a lawsuit saying Mr. Trump raped her when she was a teenage acquaintance of Epstein's. ''Jane Doe'' dropped her lawsuit a few days before the election. Mr. Trump's people vigorously denied the whole scenario.
Mr. Silverstein, who wrote the Vice.Com story, was asked by The Washington Times if Fusion pushed the Epstein-Trump story.
''Since you asked, yes, they helped me with that,'' Mr. Silverstein said. ''But as you can see, I could not make a strong case for Trump being super close to Epstein, so they could hardly have been thrilled with that story. [In my humble opinion], that was the best story written about Trump's ties to Epstein, but I failed to nail him. Trump's ties were mild compared to Bill Clinton's.
''I said Fusion could not have been happy with the Epstein story,'' he added. ''What I mean is that I never proved a really sleazy connection, so frankly I was disappointed too, I thought there was more (and still wonder). But Fusion never pressured me to write anything untrue, and they never told me anything about ties between DT and JE that was false. That's important. Their work has been solid if not 100 percent accurate in their reports, just as I periodically make mistakes. I have never seen malice or anything less than the best effort to be accurate.''
The fact-checking system also applies to the dossier.
''I don't think anyone really nailed them because I don't think they did anything wrong,'' Mr. Silverstein said. ''I think they were chasing money like all these firms do. Maybe they were chasing too hard. But I haven't seen them breaking the law. '... The reporters have to vet it and verify it. '... A private intelligence firm working for a private client, you can't assume you are getting something that is 100 percent accurate.''
Mr. Silverstein takes delight in taking the left and right to task.
In a Dec. 8 story in WashingtonBablyon.com, he wrote of the latest CNN goof: ''Well, well, well. A central 'fact' of the whole Russia-Trump collusion story turns out to be fake news. The original 'fact' was reported by CNN, President Donald Trump's favorite Fake News Network, so Trump is going to be popping corks on champagne bottles this weekend. Nice job, CNN!''
Romney and VanderSloot
Until the dossier's splash, Fusion's secrecy tradecraft was nearly watertight. Its sparse web home page is mostly white space around a two-paragraph mission statement and an ''info'' email address.
But a few leaks have happened, such as its investigations '-- some would say hit jobs '-- of big donors to Republican Mitt Romney in his 2012 bid to unseat President Obama.
The Obama campaign listed eight megadonors as bad people. One of them, Idaho businessman Frank VanderSloot, donated $1 million to a pro-Romney PAC.
The Wall Street Journal editorial page reported during the election that someone was rummaging through Mr. VanderSloot's divorce files. The paper traced the operative to Fusion GPS. Mr. Simpson defended the dirt-gathering on grounds that Mr. VanderSloot's wife contributed to a campaign against same-sex marriage.
Then there is Fusion's own Russia connection. While Fusion is exposing supposed collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, its operatives have been working for Russians to dishonor Bill Browder, a prominent opponent of President Vladimir Putin.
The web of connections is complex: Russian money is funding Fusion to destroy the reputation of Mr. Browder, a U.S.-British banker, for his work to persuade Congress to enact the 2012 Magnitsky Act. The act is a sanctions law against Moscow, and the Putin regime wants it repealed. Mr. Browder told the Senate Judiciary Committee that Fusion received Russian money via the law firm BakerHostetler to launch ''a smear campaign against me.''
In another case, Fusion allowed Planned Parenthood to identify it as the firm that analyzed hours of secret video taken by the pro-life group Center for Medical Progress. The group said it captured Planned Parenthood leaders talking about selling fetal body parts.
Fusion issued a report saying the videos were not accurate. The pro-life group's own analysis showed no manipulation.
The irony in all this is that Mr. Simpson once condemned smutty opposition research as a scourge on the body politic.
He co-wrote a 1996 book, ''Dirty Little Secrets: The Persistence of Corruption in American Politics,'' with celebrity University of Virginia politics professor Larry J. Sabato.
''Most opposition researchers claim to pay attention mostly to legislative votes and floor statements to see if their opponent's words jibe with his or her record,'' Mr. Simpson and Mr. Sabato said in quotes unearthed by RealClear Investigations. ''Without question, many abide strictly by this unwritten code. Yet many of their brethren also examine highly personal information, with the result that issues often surface that are only marginally related, or even completely unrelated, to the office being contested.''
In an interview with C-SPAN's Brian Lamb, Mr. Simpson bemoaned the use of ''push polls'' to spread unfounded rumors about candidates.
The ''highly personal information'' Mr. Simpson condemned 21 years ago certainly can be found in the salacious Trump dossier or his promotion of a Trump-Epstein alliance.
Mr. Simpson and Fusion did not reply to messages.
In a sense, the dossier was a failure in that Mr. Simpson could not persuade a large number of reporters to spread its smut during the election campaign. The dossier's 35 pages ultimately subjected Fusion to an unwanted limelight, a congressional investigation and steep legal fees.
In January, The New York Times described the failure to confirm the dossier's charges before Nov. 8.
''Fusion GPS and Mr. Steele shared the memos first with their clients, and later with the FBI and multiple journalists at The New York Times and elsewhere. '... Many reporters from multiple news organizations tried to verify the claims in the memos but were unsuccessful.''
But in another sense, the dossier '-- with all its unproven and far-fetched tales '-- has been a political success for Trump haters.
It influenced the FBI to launch a counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign that has grown into a full-blown special counsel inquiry with nearly 20 prosecutors and scores of FBI agents.
The dossier created thousands of social media devotees who are convinced its felony charges against the president and his aides are true.
Back in London, Mr. Steele can take pleasure in a special counsel investigation that could dog the Trump White House, the president, and current and former aides for months, maybe years.
Wife of DOJ Deputy Was Fusion GPS Employee, CIA Research Aid, and Applied for HAM Radio License Month After Contracting MI6 Agent Christopher Steele'... | The Last Refuge
Tue, 12 Dec 2017 17:36
Department of Justice Assoc. Deputy Attorney General Bruce G Ohrwas demoted because he had working relationships with dossier author Christopher Steele and Fusion GPS; and -more importantly or perhaps 'conveniently'- according to James Rosen, Bruce Ohr did not reveal his October 2016 contacts with MI6 agent Steele or Glenn Simpson (Fusion-GPS) to DOJ leadership. (LINK)
(L-R) Nellie H. Ohr (Fusion GPS) and Bruce G Ohr (DOJ)
However, the ongoing Dossier story gets far more intriguing as it is now discovered that Bruce G Ohr's wife, Nellie H. Ohr, actually worked for Fusion GPS and likely helped guide/script the Russian Dossier. (Link)
Contacted by Fox News, investigators for the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) confirmed that Nellie H. Ohr, wife of the demoted official, Bruce G. Ohr, worked for the opposition research firm last year. The precise nature of Mrs. Ohr's duties '' including whether she worked on the dossier '' remains unclear but a review of her published works available online reveals Mrs. Ohr has written extensively on Russia-related subjects. HPSCI staff confirmed to Fox News that she was paid by Fusion GPS through the summer and fall of 2016.
But wait, it doesn't stop there'... Mrs. Nellie Ohr was not only a Fusion GPS contracted employee, but she was also part of the CIA's Open Source Works, in Washington DC (link)
Both Mr. and Mrs Ohr worked on a collaborative group project surrounding International Organized Crime. (pdf here) Page #30 Screen Shot Below
But wait, it gets even better.
A month after Hillary Clinton hired Fusion GPS (April 2016) to sub-contract retired British MI6 agent Christopher Steele to write the opposition research report ''the Trump Russia Dossier'', Fusion GPS employee Nellie Ohr applied for a HAM radio license (May 23rd 2016); a communication tool that would allow Nellie Ohr and Christopher Steele the ability to communicate outside the normal risk of communication intercepts.
Keeping in mind, both Bruce and Nellie Ohr's subject matter skill-set within the DOJ would provide them with a comprehensive understanding of how to network and communicate with international actors outside the traditional risk of communication intercepts. In short, Mrs. Nelli Ohr would know that using HAM radio frequencies would be a way to avoid the risk of U.S. intelligence intercepts on her communications.
The Clinton Campaign hired Fusion GPS in April 2016. Fusion GPS then sub-contracted retired British Intel MI6 agent Christopher Steele to write the Russian Dossier. A month later, May 23rd 2016, Fusion GPS employee Nellie Ohr gets HAM radio license.
So are we to believe it's COINCIDENTAL? All of a sudden, a 60(ish)-year-old woman decides to use a HAM radio the month after contracting with Christopher Steele for a Russian opposition research dossier on Donald Trump?
The more plausible scenario is MI6 Agent Christopher Steele and Mrs. Nellie Ohr knew any communication with foreign sources/actors could be easily monitored; and this need for communication was, most likely, going to lead to an organized operation where an FBI counterintelligence operation would exist -per Agent Peter Strzok- and, due to the subject matter being constructed, confidential communication would be required.
One way to ensure secure communications with parties external to the U.S. would be the use of HAM radio operations. You simply establish the frequency to use, and the time of the conversation, and presto. That's it. ''Red-Dog-One to Red-Dog-Two, come in?'' etc.
Fortunately, this FCC license application now becomes evidence of an intent to subvert traditional communications intercepts'... which, when combined with the other growing trails of evidence showing Fusion GPS schemes around the manufacturing of the Dossier, gets more interesting.
Mrs. Nellie Ohr, a Fusion GPS contracted employee, gets HAM radio license May 2016.
Following along the timeline:
In June/July 2016 an initial DOJ FISA request is denied. This is simultaneous to FBI agent Strzok direct contact with Christopher Steele and the preliminary draft of the Russian dossier.
Then in August 2016, Christopher Steele goes to Sir Andrew Wood to ask him to act as a go-between to reach Senator John McCain. [Trying to give his dossier credibility]
Meanwhile throughout July, August and Sept 2016 Fusion GPS is paying journalists (NYT, ABC, NBC, Washington Post and Mother Jones, etc.) to listen to Christopher Steele and simultaneously shopping the dossier to them.
Soon thereafter, October 2016 '' The Obama administration, through FBI Agent Peter Strzok and DOJ Deputy Bruce Ohr, submits a new, more narrow application to the FISA court, now focused on a computer server in Trump Tower suspected of links to Russian banks. The second FISA application is accepted and a surveillance warrant is granted.
Note the date of this tweet:
Simultaneously in October 2016 '' Through the media in the past week we discover '' Associate DOJ Deputy AG Bruce G Ohr, Nellie's husband, is in direct contact with Christopher Steele, and the full dossier, along with secret meetings with Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson.
Again, Timeline Recap:
'...April '16 Clinton hires Fusion GPS
'...April '16 Fusion GPS hires Christopher Steele
'...May '16 Nellie Ohr gets HAM radio license.
'...June/July '16 FBI Agent Strzok meets w/ Steele
'...June '16 DOJ FISA request denied.
'...July '16 FBI counterintelligence operation begins
'...Oct. '16 Peter Strzok and Bruce Ohr meet w/ Christopher Steele
'...Oct. '16 FISA request granted.
Last week U.S. District Court Judge Rudolph Contreras, the judge that appears to have granted Oct '16 FISA request, is mysteriously recused *AFTER* accepting Mike Flynn plea in the first hearing.
No explanation is given for the recusal or why Judge Contreras waited until after the initial plea hearing.
It would be EXPLOSIVE if it turned out the October 2016 FISA warrant was gained by deception, misleading/manipulated information, or fraud as a result of the Russian Dossier; and exponentially more explosive if the dossier was -in part- organized by the wife of an investigative member of the DOJ who was applying for the FISA warrant; the same warrant that led to the wiretapping and surveillance of the Trump campaign and General Flynn, and was authorized by FISA Court Judge Contreras.
Representative Jim Jordan establishes ''The Predicate'':
Representative Jim Jordan is ''convinced the Steele Dossier was the underlying evidence for the October 2016 FISA warrant''. Part II:
CTH absolutely concurs with Jim Jordan's outline and subsequent belief. All evidence points in only one direction. No evidence goes in any other direction.
The Steele dossier is a product aided by Nellie Ohr that underpinned the FISA application. The FISA application was a product constructed by FBI agent Strzok and DOJ Deputy Bruce Ohr under the authority granted to them by senior FBI and DOJ leadership.
Remember, as Director Chris Wray stated this past week, the FBI Director would be personally responsible for signing off on the October 2016 FISA application. In October 2016 that FBI Director was James Comey.
Twitter Thread for those who share via Twitter is also HERE.
ULS License Archive - Amateur License - KM4UDZ - Ohr, Nellie H
Tue, 12 Dec 2017 17:33
ULS License Archive Amateur License - KM4UDZ - Ohr, Nellie H
New Search Printable Page Reference Copy Call SignKM4UDZ Radio ServiceHA - AmateurStatusActive Auth TypeRegular VersionCurrent DatesGrant05/23/2016 Expiration05/23/2026 Effective05/23/2016 Cancellation Last Action05/23/2016 Licensee InformationFRN0025607250 TypeIndividual Licensee IDL02028239SGIN000Licensee NameOhr, Nellie H6435 Tucker Ave
Mc Lean, VA 22101
Amateur DataOperator ClassTechnician Prev. Op. Class GroupD Prev. Call Sign Eligibility Code Trustee/Custodian (for Non-Individuals Only)Name Call Sign Basic QualificationsHas the applicant or any party to this application, or any party directly or indirectly controlling the applicant, ever been convicted of a felony by any state or federal court?
Fusion GPS dossier cabal was using spy tradecraft to evade leaving electronic footprints for NSA surveillance
Thu, 14 Dec 2017 12:12
I suspect that we are in the process of uncovering the worst political scandal in American history, in which the most fearsome tool of federal government spying was turned against the Trump campaign. A cabal manipulated events behind the scenes to subvert the legal safeguards that are supposed to prevent such an abuse.
The National Security Agency (NSA) picks up and records almost all electronic communications, thereby effectively wiretapping telephone conversations, email, and practically everything else we send out electronically. When a FISA court permits "unmasking" of American citizens, that universal wiretapping capability can be used to spy on their conversations. It now appears that an elaborate plot was crafted to generate phony accusations of dirty ties to Russia that would be used to get a FISA court warrant to "unmask" members of the Trump campaign, and thereby enable spying on that campaign. We do not know how many members of that campaign were "unmasked" (i.e., spied on), but there are suggestions that the list ended up quite long.
Bit by bit, evidence is leaking out connecting the members of that cabal at senior levels of the Department of Justice and the FBI with shadowy operatives in the private sector.
Merely keeping track of everyone so far compromised is a challenge that casual news-consumers will not bother with with the necessary focus. The rest of us '' those who care deeply about preserving the Republic bequeathed to us by the Founders '' can catch up by reading Victor Davis Hanson's up-to-date account of the web of backdoor relationships in the Mueller probe.
The latest revelation, uncovered by James Rosen of Fox News and largely ignored elsewhere in the media, is particularly damning.
A senior Justice Department official demoted last week for concealing his meetings with the men behind the anti-Trump "dossier" had even closer ties to Fusion GPS, the firm responsible for the incendiary document, than have been disclosed, Fox News has confirmed: The official's wife worked for Fusion GPS during the 2016 election.
Contacted by Fox News, investigators for the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) confirmed that Nellie H. Ohr, wife of the demoted official, Bruce G. Ohr, worked for the opposition research firm last year. The precise nature of Mrs. Ohr's duties '' including whether she worked on the dossier '' remains unclear but a review of her published works available online reveals Mrs. Ohr has written extensively on Russia-related subjects. HPSCI staff confirmed to Fox News that she was paid by Fusion GPS through the summer and fall of 2016.
Mrs. and Mr. Ohr.
The words "conspiracy theory" frequently are used to denounce those who see covert organized activity, so the task of gaining media attention and public understanding is all the more challenging, especially given the level of ridicule that is certain to be launched by the rest of the media seeking to protect the legacy of the Obama administration and prevent a triumph for supporters of Trump.
Drawing lines and boxes on a chart is all well and good, and necessary to untangle the hidden ties that have been uncovered among the players in this cabal. But to really get the public to focus, we need vivid symbols that have resonance, that show evil intent. Richard Nixon knew this when he seized upon a detail uncovered in the Alger Hiss communist conspiracy in the upper ranks of the State Department '' an investigation that launched his political career into national prominence.
Nixon dramatized and publicized the name "Pumpkin Papers" for secret State Department documents and
... rolls of 35 mm film [that] were found wrapped in waxed paper inside a hollowed-out pumpkin on Whittaker Chambers's Maryland farm. In response to a HUAC subpoena, Chambers on the evening of December 2, 1948 dramatically led two HUAC investigators to the patch, where the film had been placed by Chambers only the previous day.
The catchy, alliterative trademark of "the Pumpkin Papers" became the handle by which the entire conspiracy could be understood by the broader public. They stood as proof that something nefarious was underway, something that caused people to hide from discovery.
Chambers was a repentant conspirator who turned over state's evidence. So far, no member of the cabal has been turned, but with leak investigations underway and felony charges possible, we may yet see a cooperating witness or witnesses. Former FBI and DOJ folks don't tend to do very well among members of the prison population, after all.
What we do have now is a fact, a resonant symbol, that catches the attention of casual news consumers '' something that obviously indicates secrecy was necessary to cover up nefarious activities.
I leave it to Sundance and Conservative Treehouse, those incredible sleuths of publicly available information, to present the stunning little detail so compelling that even the fertile mind of spy novelist John Le Carr(C) could not top it.
Mrs. Nellie Ohr was not only a Fusion GPS contracted employee, but she was also part of the CIA's Open Source Works, in Washington DC (link)
Both Mr. and Mrs Ohr worked on a collaborative group project surrounding International Organized Crime. (pdf here) Page #30 Screen Shot Below
But wait, it gets even better.
A month after Hillary Clinton hired Fusion GPS (April 2016) to sub-contract retired British MI6 agent Christopher Steele to write the opposition research report "the Trump Russia Dossier", Fusion GPS employee Nellie Ohr applied for a HAM radio license (May 23rd 2016); a communication tool that would allow Nellie Ohr and Christopher Steele the ability to communicate outside the normal risk of communication intercepts.
Keeping in mind, both Bruce and Nellie Ohr's subject matter skill-set within the DOJ would provide them with a comprehensive understanding of how to network and communicate with international actors outside the traditional risk of communication intercepts. In short, Mrs. Nelli Ohr would know that using HAM radio frequencies would be a way to avoid the risk of U.S. intelligence intercepts on her communications.
The Clinton Campaign hired Fusion GPS in April 2016. Fusion GPS then sub-contracted retired British Intel MI6 agent Christopher Steele to write the Russian Dossier. A month later, May 23rd 2016, Fusion GPS employee Nellie Ohr gets HAM radio license.
So are we to believe it's COINCIDENTAL? All of a sudden, a 60(ish)-year-old woman decides to use a HAM radio the month after contracting with Christopher Steele for a Russian opposition research dossier on Donald Trump?
So this shadowy spook who has been spying most recently on international organized crime syndicates, and who is helping use the NSA surveillance capabilities against the Trump campaign, resorts to an obsolete technology dating from a century ago to communicate and not be captured by the very surveillance system they are subverting.
That is evidence of intent. Unless Mrs. Ohr can point to a history of fascination with ham radio '' maybe she built a Heathkit rig in the 1960s or '70s? '' this resort to radio looks like tradecraft '' the stuff of spies.
The ham radio license could be the pumpkin papers of our time. I want pictures of her broadcast facility.
I suspect that we are in the process of uncovering the worst political scandal in American history, in which the most fearsome tool of federal government spying was turned against the Trump campaign. A cabal manipulated events behind the scenes to subvert the legal safeguards that are supposed to prevent such an abuse.
The National Security Agency (NSA) picks up and records almost all electronic communications, thereby effectively wiretapping telephone conversations, email, and practically everything else we send out electronically. When a FISA court permits "unmasking" of American citizens, that universal wiretapping capability can be used to spy on their conversations. It now appears that an elaborate plot was crafted to generate phony accusations of dirty ties to Russia that would be used to get a FISA court warrant to "unmask" members of the Trump campaign, and thereby enable spying on that campaign. We do not know how many members of that campaign were "unmasked" (i.e., spied on), but there are suggestions that the list ended up quite long.
Bit by bit, evidence is leaking out connecting the members of that cabal at senior levels of the Department of Justice and the FBI with shadowy operatives in the private sector.
Merely keeping track of everyone so far compromised is a challenge that casual news-consumers will not bother with with the necessary focus. The rest of us '' those who care deeply about preserving the Republic bequeathed to us by the Founders '' can catch up by reading Victor Davis Hanson's up-to-date account of the web of backdoor relationships in the Mueller probe.
The latest revelation, uncovered by James Rosen of Fox News and largely ignored elsewhere in the media, is particularly damning.
A senior Justice Department official demoted last week for concealing his meetings with the men behind the anti-Trump "dossier" had even closer ties to Fusion GPS, the firm responsible for the incendiary document, than have been disclosed, Fox News has confirmed: The official's wife worked for Fusion GPS during the 2016 election.
Contacted by Fox News, investigators for the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) confirmed that Nellie H. Ohr, wife of the demoted official, Bruce G. Ohr, worked for the opposition research firm last year. The precise nature of Mrs. Ohr's duties '' including whether she worked on the dossier '' remains unclear but a review of her published works available online reveals Mrs. Ohr has written extensively on Russia-related subjects. HPSCI staff confirmed to Fox News that she was paid by Fusion GPS through the summer and fall of 2016.
Mrs. and Mr. Ohr.
The words "conspiracy theory" frequently are used to denounce those who see covert organized activity, so the task of gaining media attention and public understanding is all the more challenging, especially given the level of ridicule that is certain to be launched by the rest of the media seeking to protect the legacy of the Obama administration and prevent a triumph for supporters of Trump.
Drawing lines and boxes on a chart is all well and good, and necessary to untangle the hidden ties that have been uncovered among the players in this cabal. But to really get the public to focus, we need vivid symbols that have resonance, that show evil intent. Richard Nixon knew this when he seized upon a detail uncovered in the Alger Hiss communist conspiracy in the upper ranks of the State Department '' an investigation that launched his political career into national prominence.
Nixon dramatized and publicized the name "Pumpkin Papers" for secret State Department documents and
... rolls of 35 mm film [that] were found wrapped in waxed paper inside a hollowed-out pumpkin on Whittaker Chambers's Maryland farm. In response to a HUAC subpoena, Chambers on the evening of December 2, 1948 dramatically led two HUAC investigators to the patch, where the film had been placed by Chambers only the previous day.
The catchy, alliterative trademark of "the Pumpkin Papers" became the handle by which the entire conspiracy could be understood by the broader public. They stood as proof that something nefarious was underway, something that caused people to hide from discovery.
Chambers was a repentant conspirator who turned over state's evidence. So far, no member of the cabal has been turned, but with leak investigations underway and felony charges possible, we may yet see a cooperating witness or witnesses. Former FBI and DOJ folks don't tend to do very well among members of the prison population, after all.
What we do have now is a fact, a resonant symbol, that catches the attention of casual news consumers '' something that obviously indicates secrecy was necessary to cover up nefarious activities.
I leave it to Sundance and Conservative Treehouse, those incredible sleuths of publicly available information, to present the stunning little detail so compelling that even the fertile mind of spy novelist John Le Carr(C) could not top it.
Mrs. Nellie Ohr was not only a Fusion GPS contracted employee, but she was also part of the CIA's Open Source Works, in Washington DC (link)
Both Mr. and Mrs Ohr worked on a collaborative group project surrounding International Organized Crime. (pdf here) Page #30 Screen Shot Below
But wait, it gets even better.
A month after Hillary Clinton hired Fusion GPS (April 2016) to sub-contract retired British MI6 agent Christopher Steele to write the opposition research report "the Trump Russia Dossier", Fusion GPS employee Nellie Ohr applied for a HAM radio license (May 23rd 2016); a communication tool that would allow Nellie Ohr and Christopher Steele the ability to communicate outside the normal risk of communication intercepts.
Keeping in mind, both Bruce and Nellie Ohr's subject matter skill-set within the DOJ would provide them with a comprehensive understanding of how to network and communicate with international actors outside the traditional risk of communication intercepts. In short, Mrs. Nelli Ohr would know that using HAM radio frequencies would be a way to avoid the risk of U.S. intelligence intercepts on her communications.
The Clinton Campaign hired Fusion GPS in April 2016. Fusion GPS then sub-contracted retired British Intel MI6 agent Christopher Steele to write the Russian Dossier. A month later, May 23rd 2016, Fusion GPS employee Nellie Ohr gets HAM radio license.
So are we to believe it's COINCIDENTAL? All of a sudden, a 60(ish)-year-old woman decides to use a HAM radio the month after contracting with Christopher Steele for a Russian opposition research dossier on Donald Trump?
So this shadowy spook who has been spying most recently on international organized crime syndicates, and who is helping use the NSA surveillance capabilities against the Trump campaign, resorts to an obsolete technology dating from a century ago to communicate and not be captured by the very surveillance system they are subverting.
That is evidence of intent. Unless Mrs. Ohr can point to a history of fascination with ham radio '' maybe she built a Heathkit rig in the 1960s or '70s? '' this resort to radio looks like tradecraft '' the stuff of spies.
The ham radio license could be the pumpkin papers of our time. I want pictures of her broadcast facility.
Evidence points to Bitcoin being an NSA-engineered psyop to roll out one-world digital currency '' NaturalNews.com
Sat, 16 Dec 2017 07:50
Natural News is about to begin releasing lab test results for off-the-shelf food, supplement and pet food products, covering heavy metals, nutritive minerals, pesticides and herbicides. These details will be released exclusively to Natural News email newsletter subscribers (FREE) and will NOT be publicly posted on the website. To be alerted, join our free email newsletter now, and watch for lab test results in the weeks ahead.
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$19,000: Bitcoin Hits New All Time High After Burst Of Asian Buying; Bigger Than Wells, Wal-Mart
Sat, 16 Dec 2017 21:51
Having traded in a relatively narrow - for bitcoin - range of $16,500-$17,500 over the past week, the world's most popular cryptocurrency jumped to new all time highs following the latest (unexplained) burst of buying out of Asia, with another Saturday surge in volumes emerging out of Japan and Korea.
Bitcoin is now up over $1,200, or 7%, in the past 24 hours, last trading at a new all time high of $19,000 on the coinbase exchange.
As a result of the latest push higher, the market cap of bitcoin is now over $318 Billion; to fund the bitcoin spree, Ethereum, Litcoin and various other cryptos have seen some modest liquidation, and have not enjoyed Bitcoin's latest dramatic ascent.
As of Saturday morning, the total crypto space market cap surpassed half a trillion, and was above $560 billion at last check.
Following Saturday's surge, Bitcoin's YTD return is approaching 20x, while ethereum remains the best performing major crypto, up more than 70-fold YTD.
Also, for those keeping track, Bitcoin's market cap is now greater than Bank of America at $302 billion, as well as Wells Fargo ($295BN), Wal-Mart ($288BN), and Visa ($257BN). It is rapidly approaching Exxon at $352BN, but the real target is JPMorgan, whose $368BN market cap is now less than $50BN away.
While bitcoin has added more 30% to its value in the past week, trading has been slightly calmer than the wild price swings the market has seen in recent weeks, with volatility lower since the launch of bitcoin futures from Cboe Global Markets on Sunday. Market-watchers said bitcoin's price was being lifted by the launch of rival CME Group's bitcoin futures contracts on Sunday.
''The hope (is) that futures signal the unlocking of institutional money into the digital arena and (that there will be) a rapid demand increase and ratification of the technology and its principles,'' said Charles Hayter, founder of industry website Cryptocompare.
Still, outside of the crypto market, worries continue to grow about the amount of money piling into the space with the most vocal critics being those who have so far missed the entire move. Chief among them is A study by Anglia Ruskin University, Trinity College Dublin and Dublin City University released on Friday said bitcoin could pose a threat to the financial stability of traditional currencies and markets, something which Janet Yellen denied earlier this week.
''Our evidence finds that the price of Bitcoin has been artificially inflated by speculative investment, putting it in a bubble,'' said Larisa Yarovaya, one of the report's authors and a lecturer at Anglia Ruskin University. ''Although bitcoin is not regulated by governments, it could still have a knock-on effect on traditional markets due to the interconnectedness of cryptocurrency markets with other financial assets.''
Well, of course bitcoin is a bubble: as we first showed last week, it's now officially the biggest bubble in history, surpassing the "Tulip Mania" of the 17th century:
The problem is that everything else is also a bubble. And as Stanely Druckenmiller said last week, until the "everything bubble" bursts, bitcoin is safe. The problem is that if and when the "everything bubble" does burst, it would most likely result in war as trillions in artificial "wealth effect" are wiped out; in this context what happens to bitcoin would be irrelevant.
Meanwhile, for those who missed it, last week Deutsche Bank laid out who it believes is behind the relentless and dramatic surge in bitcoin:
An 11 December Nikkei report stated that 40% of cryptocurrency trading in Oct-Nov was yen-denominated. Japanese traders have reportedly come to account for nearly half of cryptocurrency trading since China started to shut down cryptocurrency exchanges, and this is said to be widely known among industry insiders (various estimates exist). Japanese men in their 30s and 40s who are engaged in leveraged FX trading (or who used to trade but have stopped) are driving the cryptocurrency market.
So is "Mr. Watanabe' proving more powerful than all the world's central and commercial banks, and most of the world's establishment economists, all soo desperate to shut down the "bitcoin bubble" to preserve faith in fiat currencies and traditional equity investments? Juding by the now daily record highs in the cryptocurrency, the answer - for now - is a resounding yes, which is clearly a benefit for all those who are still long the crypto such as these guy...
Global Warming Caused By Bitcoin
Sat, 16 Dec 2017 21:55
Previously, global warming was caused by Yo-Yo's.
23 Jan 1933 '' YO-YO BANNED IN SYRIA '' Trove
Shut Up Slave!
CDC gets list of forbidden words: fetus, transgender, diversity - The Washington Post
Sat, 16 Dec 2017 13:51
The Trump administration is prohibiting officials at the nation's top public health agency from using a list of seven words or phrases '-- including ''fetus'' and ''transgender'' '-- in any official documents being prepared for next year's budget.
Policy analysts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta were told of the list of forbidden words at a meeting Thursday with senior CDC officials who oversee the budget, according to an analyst who took part in the 90-minute briefing. The forbidden words are ''vulnerable,'' ''entitlement,'' ''diversity,'' ''transgender,'' ''fetus,'' ''evidence-based'' and ''science-based.''
In some instances, the analysts were given alternative phrases. Instead of ''science-based'' or ­''evidence-based,'' the suggested phrase is ''CDC bases its recommendations on science in consideration with community standards and wishes,'' the person said. In other cases, no replacement words were immediately offered.
The question of how to address such issues as sexual orientation, gender identity and abortion rights '-- all of which received significant visibility under the Obama administration '-- has surfaced repeatedly in federal agencies since President Trump took office. Several key departments '-- including Health and Human Services, which oversees the CDC, as well as Justice, Education, and Housing and Urban Development '-- have changed some federal policies and how they collect government information about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans.
In March, for example, HHS dropped questions about sexual orientation and gender identity in two surveys of elderly people.
President Trump's nominee to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, Alex Azar, laid out his vision for the focus of the department on Nov. 29: lowering drug prices, providing affordable, available and tailored health-care plans, reforming Medicare and tackling the opioid epidemic. (Reuters)
HHS has also removed information about LGBT Americans from its website. The department's Administration for Children and Families, for example, archived a page that outlined federal services that are available for LGBT people and their families, including how they can adopt and receive help if they are the victims of sex trafficking.
At the CDC, the meeting about the banned words was led by Alison Kelly, a senior leader in the agency's Office of Financial Services, according to the CDC analyst, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to speak publicly. Kelly did not say why the words are being banned, according to the analyst, and told the group that she was merely relaying the information.
Other CDC officials confirmed the existence of a list of forbidden words.It's likely that other parts of HHS are operating under the same guidelines regarding the use of these words, the analyst said.
At the CDC, several offices have responsibility for work that uses some of these words. The National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention is working on ways to prevent HIV among transgender people and reduce health disparities. The CDC's work on birth defects caused by the Zika virus includes research on the developing fetus.
The ban is related to the budget and supporting materials that are to be given to the CDC's partners and to Congress, the analyst said. The president's budget for 2019 is expected to be released in early February. The budget blueprint is generally shaped to reflect an administration's priorities.
Federal agencies are sending in their budget proposals to the Office of Management and Budget, which has authority about what is included.
Neither an OMB spokesman nor a CDC spokeswoman responded to requests for comment Friday.
[This is how the Trump administration has shifted course on civil rights]
The longtime CDC analyst, whose job includes writing descriptions of the CDC's work for the administration's annual spending blueprint, could not recall a previous time when words were banned from budget documents because they were considered controversial.
The reaction of people in the meeting was ''incredulous,'' the analyst said. ''It was very much, 'Are you serious? Are you kidding?''‰''
''In my experience, we've never had any pushback from an ideological standpoint,'' the analyst said.
News of the ban on certain words hasn't yet spread to the broader group of scientists at the CDC, but it's likely to provoke a backlash, the analyst said. ''Our subject matter experts will not lay down quietly '-- this hasn't trickled down to them yet.''
The CDC has a budget of about $7'‰billion and more than 12,000 employees working across the nation and around the globe on everything from food and water safety, to heart disease and cancer, to infectious disease outbreak prevention. Much of the CDC's work has strong bipartisan support.
Kelly told the analysts that ''certain words'' in the CDC's budget drafts were being sent back to the agency for correction. Three words that had been flagged in these drafts were ''vulnerable,'' ''entitlement'' and ''diversity.'' Kelly told the group the ban on the other words had been conveyed verbally.
Frankrijk verbiedt mobiele telefoon op scholen
Sat, 16 Dec 2017 21:40
Franse scholieren mogen vanaf volgend schooljaar niet langer mobiele telefoons gebruiken op school. Dat heeft minister van Onderwijs Jean-Michel Blanquer bekendgemaakt, schrijft The Local.
Met het nieuwe verbod zijn de telefoons ook verbannen tijdens de pauzes en tussenuren.
(Tekst uit artikel: NU.nl)
Het is in Frankrijk al langer niet toegestaan om een telefoon in de klas te gebruiken. Met het nieuwe verbod zijn de telefoons ook verbannen tijdens de pauzes en tussenuren.
Niet spelen
''Kinderen spelen inmiddels niet meer in de pauzes'', aldus Blanquer. ''Ze zitten alleen maar op hun smartphones te kijken. Dat is vanuit onderwijsperspectief een probleem.''
Het nieuwe verbod wordt volgens de minister in september 2018 ingevoerd. Er wordt op het moment gewerkt aan de uitvoering van het initiatief. ''Telefoons zullen soms nog nodig zijn voor noodgevallen of specifieke leermomenten'', aldus de minister.
Blanquer zei eerder afsluitbare kastjes te overwegen, waarin leerlingen hun telefoons kunnen bewaren. Hij noemt telefoongebruik op school ''een kwestie van publieke gezondheid''.
Het telefoonverbod was (C)(C)n van de verkiezingsbeloften van president Emmanuel Macron.
Zie: https://www.nu.nl/mobiel/5043977/frankrijk-verbiedt-mobiele-telefoons-scholen.html
In het artikel van The Local wordt kort ingegaan op de gezondheidsveiligheid:
- For the education minister the issue of mobile phones and tablets is a matter of "public health".
-"It's important that children under the age of seven are not in front of these screens," he added.
Voor het artikel van The Local "France to ban mobile phones in schools" zie:
France to ban mobile phones in schools
France's education minister announced on Sunday that mobile phones will be banned from schools in France.
Jean-Michel Blanquer confirmed that the ban, which the government had been mulling for some time, will be implemented in September 2018.
Phones are already banned in the classrooms in France but from September next year, pupils will be barred from taking them out at breaks, lunch times and between lessons.
"These days the children don't play at break time anymore, they are just all in front of their smartphones and from an educational point of view that's a problem," said Blanquer.
But it is not clear how the ban would work. There are suggestions that schools will have to provide lockers where pupils can keep the phones. Teachers also fear they will be asked to search pupils to make sure no one is flouting the ban.
"We are currently working on this [ban] and it could work in various ways," said Blanquer. "Phones may be needed for teaching purposes or in cases of emergency so mobile phones will have to be locked away."
For the education minister the issue of mobile phones and tablets is a matter of "public health".
"It's important that children under the age of seven are not in front of these screens," he added.
The minister also sees the move as a way of cutting down on cyber-bullying.
The ban would be imposed for primary schools and middle schools called "colleges" for pupils aged 11 to 15, but phones would be allowed in Lycee high schools.
French president Emmanuel Macron, a 39-year-old centrist, put banishing mobile phones from all primary and secondary schools in his manifesto ahead of his election victory in May.
Experts and trade unions have pointed out that using mobile phones in class is already outlawed in France, even though research shows that many pupils confess to having broken the rules.
Some teachers view phones as a source of a distraction and indiscipline which can be used for cyberbullying at school, while others believe they can be harnessed for educational purposes -- under strict control.
One of the biggest groups representing parents of French school children, known as Peep, said previously it was sceptical that a ban could be implemented.
"We don't think it's possible at the moment," said the head of Peep, Gerard Pommier.
"Imagine a secondary school with 600 pupils. Are they going to put all their phones in a box? How do you store them? And give them back at the end?"
In an interview with Express magazine earlier this year, Blanquer suggested that pupils might be asked to deposit their phones in secure boxes when arriving at school or for classes.
"At our cabinet meetings, we drop our phones in lockers before sitting down together. It seems to me that this should be possible for any human group, including classes," he said.
Hate Trumps Love
Don's Dentures
From your dental knight…
First impressions after looking closely at Trump’s smile
is no to a full denture. He probably has
a partial most likely to fill in the upper left area. He could also be wearing something on the
lower but the slurs in speech are usually associated with an upper plate or
partial getting loose.
If we want to be really crackpot it was a transitional
partial in place after the implant containing tracking device, microphone and
cyanide capsule were placed.
Merry Christmas
Gregory Birch DDS
Colleges Offer 'Therapy Llamas' to Coddle Special Snowflake Students - DANGEROUS
Wed, 13 Dec 2017 23:12
Posted on December 12, 2017
Several colleges, including UC Berkeley, are offering llamas as a form of stress reduction on campus for students unable to cope with their finals.
The effort to coddle students with cute animals follows other childish trends involving coloring books, ball pits, and rice krispies treats.
UC Berkeley, the University of South Florida, and Radford University are among several colleges to bring the pack animals onto campus to help students deal with the stress of completing their finals.
Campus Reform reports that students at the University of South Florida welcomed the wooly animals during a ''Paws & Relax'' event sponsored by the school's Center for Student Well-Being, which is described as a ''collaborative effort of six health and wellness departments on campus.''
The center's website says the event happens every semester, when they bring dogs and other furry animals to the campus to help students dealing with stress.
Students who visited the animals shared their messages of gratitude to the llamas on social media, while those who did not have the chance to do so said they were upset that they couldn't see the animals.
Many others expressed skepticism over the event.
At the University of California, Berkeley, the school's Twitter account announced the visitation of the llamas, which they claim helped ''ease #finals drama.''
''Pet a llama at @UCBerkeley's Memorial Glade, here until 4 [email protected]_Union,'' the official account tweeted.
However, not everyone at the liberal college was receptive to the endeavor. In the college's student newspaper, the Daily Californian, a student writer posed the question: ''Do animals help reduce stress? The llamas may not save your GPA.''
The article argues that ''de-stress'' events involving ''therapy dogs'' and other furry creatures may not actually yield a positive effect on stressed-out students. It cites Yale doctoral candidate Molly Crossman's 2015 study, ''Effects of Interactions With Animals on Human Psychological Distress,'' which showed the limited efficacy of stress reduction from the activity.
Other students, as noted by Campus Reform, told the student newspaper that the event did nothing to help them.
''The bottom line is that I think there's too much attention on animals,'' said student Daniel Shepard, a campus senior and business administration major ''People are paying attention to the animals to the point that they're ignoring humans.''
''The only positive effect is that it did give me something to giggle about afterward,'' he said.
Following graduation, there aren't going to be any llamas for the students to hug when real life comes knocking.
Source: DANGEROUS, Fox News, Campus Reform, the Daily Californian.
Photograph courtesy of Getty Images.
BREAKING: Canada won't fund student summer jobs unless employers support abortion | News | LifeSite
Sat, 16 Dec 2017 07:25
The new pro-abortion criteria for employers to receive Canada summer jobs grants.
OTTAWA, December 14, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) '' The Liberal government of Justin Trudeau will ban any employer from receiving summer job grants for students if the employer doesn't first sign an ''attestation'' that they agree with abortion and transgender "rights."
The new criteria were sent to all MPs and will be made public when the Canada Summer Jobs Program officially opens December 19, 2017.
URGENT: Tell Justin Trudeau you oppose this attack on freedom of conscience. Sign the petition! Click here.
In order to receive federal Canada job grants, employers must attest that:
both the job and the organization's core mandate respect individual human rights in Canada, including the values underlying the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms as well as other rights. These include reproductive rights and the right to be free from discrimination on the basis of sex, religion, race, national or ethnic origin, colour, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity or expression. Conservative MP Brad Trost was first to publicly raise the alarm in a twitter and Facebook video in which he denounces the Liberals for discrimination.
''In practical terms, this means you have to be with the Liberal Party position on abortion, gay marriage, transgendered rights, all sorts of legislation in the House of Commons, otherwise you will be an ineligible employer for this program,'' Trost said.
''That's wrong, that's discrimination.''
Canadians ''are allowed to have different political beliefs than the government of the day and they shouldn't have their funding be cut off because they disagree with the government,'' he added.
''The second problem with this is it automatically excludes all faith-based organizations that are traditional on their values of human life and sexual morality. That includes millions and millions of Canadians,'' Trost said.
The Liberal move has also been denounced by Campaign Life Coalition, which has launched a petition.
Jack Fonseca, senior political strategist for Campaign Life Coalition, excoriated the Trudeau Liberals for their blatant anti-Christian bias.
''This is a jaw-dropping act of discrimination against faith-based employers and non-profits. Although the Trudeau Liberals have signaled many times they have special contempt for Christians, this new policy requires a massive negative reaction from all faith-based communities in Canada '' Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, etc,'' he told LifeSiteNews.
''More and more, Justin Trudeau is transforming the Liberal Party into a hate group against Christians. Just recently, the Liberals were scared off from his plan of eliminating the law that protected Church worship services from disruption. Now this. It's abundantly clear the Trudeau Liberals hate Christians,'' he added.
Non-profit groups, small businesses, and public sector employers can apply for funding through Canada Summer Jobs program to create jobs for students from 15 to 30 years of age.
Formerly, it was up to individual MPs to assess and approve funding applications from groups in their ridings.
But Trudeau Liberals already decreed last year no Liberal MP could approve Canada Summer Job funding for pro-life groups. Moreover, Liberal Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour Patty Hajdu said at the time through spokesman Matt Pascuzzo that she would change the program to make sure no pro-life group would be approved in the future.
''We have been unequivocal in our support for a woman's fundamental right to choose,'' Pascuzzo said then.
Alliance for Life Ontario and the Canadian Center for Bioethical Reform were among pro-life groups cut off from Canada Student Job funding in 2017.
Pro-family leaders have warned Christians will face increasing economic and political pressure to conform to the pro-abortion, pro-homosexual ideology, including the possibility of having to sign on to a declaration supporting human ''rights,'' such as abortion and homosexuality.
Fonseca echoed this.
''This is no minor tweak to a federal program. This is a ground-breaking first step on the inevitable path to raw totalitarianism and open persecution with the sanction of the state,'' he told LifeSiteNews.
''Once the government implements this unconstitutional, anti-Christian policy, the next thing will be that the private sector will take it as permission to do the same thing,'' Fonseca warned. ''Perhaps first with supplier contracts. But eventually, private sector employees will be required to sign such a declaration which essentially, is a way of getting Christians to disavow their beliefs.''
URGENT: Tell Justin Trudeau you oppose this attack on freedom of conscience. Sign the petition!
Well-Being Concepts | HRQOL | CDC
Sun, 17 Dec 2017 13:01
1. Diener E, Seligman ME. Beyond money. Toward an economy of well-being. Psychological Science in the Public Interest 2004;5(1):1''31.
2. Diener E. Assessing well-being: the collected works of Ed Diener. New York: Springer; 2009.
3. Diener E, Scollon CN, Lucas RE. The evolving concept of subjective well-being: the multifaceted nature of happiness. In: E Diener (ed.) Assessing well-being: the collected works of Ed Diener. New York: Springer; 2009:67''100.
4. Frey BS, Stutzer A. Happiness and economics. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press; 2002.
5. Diener E, Lucas R, Schimmack U, and Helliwell J. Well-Being for public policy. New York: Oxford University Press; 2009.
6. Dunn HL. High level wellness. R.W. Beatty, Ltd: Arlington; 1973.
7. Kahneman D. Objective happiness. In: D Kahneman, E Diener, and N Schwartz (eds.) Well-being: the foundations of hedonic psychology. New York: Russell Sage Foundation; 1999:3''25.
8. Lyubomirsky S, King L, Diener E. The benefits of frequent positive affect: does happiness lead to success? Psychol Bull 2005;131(6):803''855.
9. Pressman SD, Cohen S. Does positive affect influence health? Psychol Bull 2005;131:925''971.
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WHO | Mental health: a state of well-being
Sun, 17 Dec 2017 13:00
Updated August 2014
Mental health is defined as a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.
WHO/P. Virot
The positive dimension of mental health is stressed in WHO's definition of health as contained in its constitution: "Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity."
This fact file highlights the important aspects of mental health and disorders. The images include pictures drawn by children who participated in the WHO Global School Contest of Mental Health in 2001.
Related links
Well-being | Definition of Well-being by Merriam-Webster
Sun, 17 Dec 2017 12:59
noun well-be·ing \ Ëwel-ËbÄ'-iŋ \
Definition of well-being for Students
Princeton latest Ivy League school to host BDSM tutorials - The College Fix
Sun, 17 Dec 2017 14:04
Several top-tier universities host student clubs, workshops dedicated to kinky sex
Princeton University has become the latest Ivy League institution to host a club for students who seek to explore sexual desires that delve into bondage, domination, sadism and masochism, underscoring a larger trend found at many top-tier universities.
The student-led club, Princeton Plays, launched earlier this month after Princeton's student government voted to officially recognize it. It joins Harvard's ''Munch,'' Columbia's ''Conversio Virium'' and Cornell's ''Crunch'' clubs as active student BDSM groups in the Ivy League.
Several ''Sex Week'' campus events at various high-profile colleges over the years have also included workshops on the sexual subculture, which can include ropes, whips, blindfolds, flogging, master-servant role play and much more.
For example, the University of Chicago's annual sex week observance typically includes a BDSM workshop. In 2014, a presentation there dubbed ''Taste of Kink'' gave students an opportunity to explore ''sensations that can be generated by floggers, rope, electricity and more.'' Likewise, in 2016, the university hosted a ''sexual pain'' workshop and BDSM tutorials. And earlier this year it hosted ''Intro to rope bondage.''
Also earlier this year, at the University of Michigan, an ''Ins and Outs of Kink'' workshop included ''introductory kink and BDSM concepts.'' Workshops on BDSM at that university date back to at least 2014.
''Kinky Trojans'' is the name of a BDSM club at the University of Southern California. Late last month, it hosted a meeting on ''kinky toys of all kinds: impact, bondage, a bit of edge play, you name it,'' according to its Facebook page.
Meanwhile, BDSM at the Ivy Leagues is in full swing.
In 2015, Harvard University hosted a workshop as part of its sex week titled ''Work Hard, Fuck Hard: The Guide to BDSM in the College Dorm Room.'' And just last month Harvard hosted a workshop called ''Unleashed: Kink 101'' as part of its sex week events.
Also last month at Columbia, its ''Conversio Virium'' student members were offered a ''hands-on rope bondage'' workshop, according to its website.
Cornell's ''Crunch'' club meets Tuesdays, according to its website.
The newest Ivy League BDSM group, Princeton Plays, aims to ''provide a safe space for students interested in non-traditional relationships'' and ''to promote values of sexual inclusivity and affirm that all types of safe and consensual activity between individuals is valid,'' according to The Daily Princetonian, which reported on its launch earlier this month.
The Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Student has also recognized the group, which hopes to meet twice a month, The Princetonianreported. With that, the group will now have access to some funding from the student government and may reserve university rooms for their meetings.
The College Fix contacted the Princeton Undergraduate Student Government and Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Student via email to determine if the group would use university facilities for their BDSM activities. Neither replied to the emails.
Members of Princeton Plays said in The Princetonian that the group ''hopes to provide a safe space for students interested in non-traditional relationships '... to promote values of sexual inclusivity and affirm that all types of safe and consensual activity between individuals is valid.''
In an interview an anonymous member discussed how the group started: ''Through conversation, we kinda realized that we wanted a space for this on campus, more than what was out here, which was nothing.''
The College Fix contacted Ivy Truong, who reported on the new club for The Princetonian, to see if she could convince members from Princeton Plays to comment on the group's intentions. Truong replied that the group declined to offer comment to The Fix.
MORE: University of Michigan Teaches Students How To Be Kinky, Engage in BDSM
MORE: Harvard Sex Week: 13,000 condoms, 1,200 bottles of lube, and 'BDSM in the dorm' lesson
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About the Author
Coy Westbrook is a junior agricultural leadership and development major at Texas A&M University. In addition to The College Fix, Coy is a fiscal policy contributor for The Millennial Review. He is heavily involved in the Texas A&M Student Government Association and the Alpha Gamma Rho Fraternity.
Christmas Market Attack Survivors Feel Abandoned - SPIEGEL ONLINE
Fri, 15 Dec 2017 18:55
December 15, 2017 05:47 PM It's all supposed to come to an end on Dec. 19, the day they meet on Breitscheidplatz square, next to the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church in Berlin. They will travel to the city from Israel, from the United States and from closer by in the German state of Brandenburg and. They will kneel at the gouge in the ground that continues through the stairs of the church. The names of the 12 deceased have been placed on the steps. Surviving family members will sink a few ounces of liquid gold into the ground in order to complete the memorial commissioned by the city government, finally closing a wound.
If only things were that easy.
A year has passed since the terrorist attack on the Christmas market at Berlin's Breitscheidplatz and the memorial ceremony has been scheduled to mark the end of a year of mourning. But the weight of that attack and what has come since cannot simply be neatly relegated to the past. Twelve people died on the night of the crime and close to a hundred people were injured and some of the victims are still in clinics today. And few have been able to overcome their loss -- either to their personal health or the loss of a family member. Most wounds are far from being healed.
But when you meet with the victims' relatives, many are quick to report about something very different that happened after the attack. They speak of their disappointment, of a government that failed in their eyes. They decry a state that failed to prevent a terrorist from perpetrating an attack right in the middle of Berlin. And then abandoned them. They say it's a wound that will never be healed.
Their stories are horrific.
Family members spent days wandering around Berlin before they obtained any certainty that their children, parents or siblings were living or not. They say that nobody answered hotlines, that lists of victims were managed chaotically, that the authorities were overwhelmed and that officials were insensitive.
They say that there was no central point of contact they could turn to. Nor was there anyone who could help victims and surviving family members apply for compensation or hardship assistance.
Even as newspapers published photos and reports on the perpetrator, there were few stories about the victims. They seemed to have been forgotten.
There was no official state event to commemorate the dead like there had been in France. In Italy, the country's president was present when the body of an Italian national killed in the terrorist attack arrived in the country, while in Poland, the country's president also kneeled in front of the coffin of the Polish truck driver who had been killed in the Berlin terrorist strike. In Germany, though, the chancellor didn't even send a letter of condolence. Instead of visits or recognition, surviving family members were quick to receive bills for forensics examinations -- 51 euros (60 dollars) to be paid within 30 days. Otherwise, they would be turned over to debt collectors.
Month after month, surviving family members learned of ever-greater failures and cover-up efforts on the part of the investigating authorities. They also learned that the perpetrator had around a dozen assumed identities, that he had been a drug dealer, that he had committed fraud and that he had been able to prepare a terrorist attack under the officials' noses. And that afterward, law enforcement officials apparently doctored the files to cover up their failures in the run-up to the attack.
Over time, disappointment turned into anger.
On the eve of the one-year anniversary, DER SPIEGEL interviewed survivors and witnesses of the Breitscheidplatz terrorist attack. Magazine reporters also reviewed thousands of pages of internal documents and interviewed victim liaisons from the German federal government and from the city-state of Berlin.
The image that emerges is a shameful one: On Dec. 19, 2016, Islamic State terror reached Germany. But it struck a country incapable of mourning the victims or taking care of their survivors. Even though the risk of terrorism had been increasing for years, officials seemed astoundingly unprepared for the attack when it finally arrived.
The anger of those affected by the attack is apparent in an open letter from the surviving family members of all 12 of the victims sent to German Chancellor Angela Merkel. In it, they write that the chancellor did not rise to the level of her office in dealing with the attacks. "It is our firm expectation of you, Madame Chancellor, that the German government help our families comprehensively and unbureaucratically." The attack on Breitscheidplatz, they write, "is also the tragic consequence of political inactivity on the part of your government."
It was 6:53 p.m. on Dec. 19 when Lukasz Urban, 37, slipped a DVD into his laptop in the sleeping cabin of the semi-truck he had been driving. He had wanted to leave Berlin much earlier, but ThyssenKrupp told him they were unable to unload the steel beams his truck was carrying. He would have to spend the night in his truck in the Berlin industrial park.
That afternoon, Urban had called his wife and chatted about Christmas. He had also picked up a beer at a supermarket and eaten a doner kebab. Now it was time to watch the romantic comedy "Don Jon" before going to bed, but suddenly someone was standing at the window. As Urban leaned forward and drew open the curtain, perpetrator Anis Amri shot him in the head. Then Amri started up the truck.
Four kilometers to the south, people were crowded between the stands at the Christmas market at Breitscheidplatz, with only five days left to go until Christmas Eve. Visitors ate and drank, met up with co-workers, bought Christmas decorations, nutcrackers and candles.
At 8:02 p.m., the terrorist drove the truck past the intersection around the corner at the Bahnhof Zoo train station and then into Breitscheidplatz, where he grazed the side of a waffle stand, ran people over as they stood at tables in front of a mulled wine stand and then plowed through the tent in front of a sausage stand. He then turned the truck to the left in front of the memorial church, running over a beverage stand, breaking through a fence and running over more people in the street. The truck came to a stop after 80 meters.
On Dec. 19, the following people died in the attack:
Dorit Krebs, 53, who had just started working at a nearby bank.
Sebastian Berlin, 32, an industrial mechanic at transmission-maker ZF in the city of Brandenburg an der Havel, who had come to celebrate a test he had just passed.
Angelika Kl¶sters, a 65-year-old from the city of Neuss near D¼sseldorf who had been given a trip to Berlin as a gift from her son.
Dalia Elyakim, a 66-year-old tourist from Israel who had wanted to drink a mulled wine with her husband after dinner.
Anna Bagratuni, 44, and her husband Georgiy, 44, of Kiev, both employees of a Berlin software company.
Peter V¶lker, 73, who had who had come to meet with his partner from the United States and a professor of religious music in front of the church.
Fabrizia Di Lorenzo, 31, and Nada Cizmar, 34, an Italian woman and a Czech woman, who had been celebrating the holidays with a group of colleagues from the logistics firm 4flow.
Klaus Jacob, 65, who had gone to the Christmas market because he and his girlfriend had been unable to get tickets to the theater.
Christoph Herrlich, 40, a lawyer and start-up founder, who just managed to push a girlfriend out of the way of the onrushing truck, saving her as his own life was taken.
Rami Elyakim was still in a coma when his wife was buried. He had to undergo several hours of surgery to his shoulder, hips and both legs. Shortly before the new year, he awoke from his coma and asked his children, "Where's Dalia?" He had lost all memory of events from the evening except for gazing at the church's tower, which had been heavily damaged in World War II and kept in that state as a memorial to the violence.
Close to a year after the attack, Elyakim was standing on the outskirts of the town of Herzlia near Tel Aviv at his wife's grave. The couple had been married for 40 years, and there had only been a few days during that time that they had not spent together. He says he worked hard his entire life building refrigerators for restaurants. Now he spends most of his time at home on the sofa. "I had a good life," he says, "but now I have nothing."
Elyakim comes from a country where the threat of terrorism exists every day. Everyone in Israel is at risk of being affected by violence and people are prepared for it. But the thought that he might encounter terrorism in Germany had never crossed his mind. He considered the country to be one of the safest in the world. But now, the Elyakims find themselves wondering exactly what steps the German authorities are taking to protect people.
The family is in touch with relatives of other victims through a WhatsApp group where they share links to stories about the failures of investigators. They don't understand everything in the stories from Germany, but they find what they do understand to be incomprehensible. An Islamist who had been free to wander around with 14 assumed identities? "Something like that wouldn't even be possible in Israel," Elyakim says. "They would have put him jail or, at the very least, monitored his every step." He refuses to utter the perpetrator's name.
Elyakim says he thinks Germany needs to become more like Israel when it comes to defending itself against terrorism. He says the security agencies should be strengthened, that bollards should be placed on street corners and that people entering Germany should be screened more carefully. And that the government needs to take more responsibility for the victims.
He says that a representative of the German government promised him at his hospital bed that he would be taken care of. But so far, he and his children have received very little support -- at least not enough to live in dignity, he believes.
Elyakim has since been recognized by the Israeli government as a victim of terrorism. The Israeli parliament, the Knesset, even changed the law on his behalf. Previously, assistance had only been given to victims of terrorist attacks abroad if Israelis or Jews had been targeted. Elyakim says he's very grateful to the Israeli government for its help, but that he also believes it is the Germans who should be assisting him.
There's a thick binder on the table at the home of Sigrid and Hans-Georg Rheinsberg, and two others are lying on the floor. The binders contain all the newspaper clippings they have collected since the death of their daughter, Dorit Krebs.
Their anger grows with each new sheet of paper they read.
"Someone should have been there for us from the beginning -- for all of us," says Sigrid. Her husband adds, "Nothing came -- no letter, nothing."
Sigrid says that the "government also shares responsibility. It wasn't the perpetrator, but it did share responsibility."
She adds that Merkel had taken refugees in under her arm but, when it came to the victims of the terrorist attack, she did nothing.
"That's perhaps a bit strong. But Ms. Merkel treated us badly."
"Totally ignored us," her husband says.
The Rheinsbergs live in the Havelland region, west of the German capital. But their granddaughter, who moved into the home of her deceased mother near Berlin, is more open about the family's outrage. She requested that her name not be revealed.
She says that her experiences in the days immediately following the attack still upset her today. She first found out the next morning that her mother had been at the Christmas market. When she called the police hotline, she was told that she shouldn't worry, that her mother had only been injured and was in the hospital. When she arrived at the hospital in question, the daughter was told that no patient with that name had been admitted.
She then attempted to get more information at a police station, where she also filed a missing persons report. She drove from hospital to hospital, asking if her mother might be there, but she didn't get any concrete information. At the hotline, she says the person sounded annoyed: You're calling about Ms. Krebs again?
Then, the Berlin Office of Criminal Investigation got in touch with her, requesting that she bring in an item for DNA comparison. She brought along a toothbrush. She didn't have any certainty until three days after the terrorist attack. When she later inquired about her mother's personal belongings, a blood-smeared bag was simply pressed into her hands.
"Everything just kept getting pushed back and forth, and nobody knew what the other was doing, and in many places, there was simply a lack of humaneness," she says.
Berlin police have addressed the mistakes made after the attack in an internal report. It states that the care provided to the victims and their families had been "insufficient." It also states that people tried contacting many places to find out about their loved ones but were provided with "no information whatsoever." Due to incompatibilities between IT systems, hospitals had to fax the names of the injured to the police, where officials in turn entered the data by hand into their system.
Bothered by the way she had been treated, Dorit Krebs' daughter wrote an email to German Federal Interior Minister Thomas de Maizi¨re one month after the attack. She wrote that the state had failed and that the families had been poorly treated by the government. De Maizi¨re answered in February and promised improvement.
On Feb. 20, 2017, Kurt Beck's mobile phone rang. Beck had been participating in a conference about Africa in Kenya as the chairman of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, an organization strongly aligned with the center-left Social Democratic Party, which Beck once led. The call came from German Justice Minister Heiko Maas, who asked Beck if he could imagine becoming the government's special commissioner for the victims and families left behind by the deaths in the Breitscheidplatz attack. "I'll have to think it over a bit," Beck said. He called back an hour later and agreed.
Beck is 68 years old and he has already had a number of roles in his life: head of the SPD party, a state governor, but in the months after that call he also learned a lot of new things -- including about himself. In March, three months after the attack, he wrote to the victims' families and also to everyone who had been injured in the attack. He also met with almost all of them.
Beck is sitting in a sparse office inside the Justice Ministry; darkness has already fallen outside. Beck tries to be particularly matter-of-fact when discussing his role, saying he faced a "package of tasks" when he began and referring to deaths as casualties." He says he knew the position would be emotionally taxing and that some of the meetings he had had distressed him to the point that he had to walk around his home twice at night before he could even manage to sit down. On many nights, he still had trouble sleeping.
There are many surviving family members who describe their meetings with Beck as having been positive -- finally, they say, a representative of the government had done something. In February, then-German President Joachim Gauck had invited victims' families to his office to lend them an ear and they were also pleased by that. But the families involved say they were aware there wasn't much he could do for them.
Beck helped them by applying pressure on the authorities and ensuring that their various requests were processed quickly or by helping them to find the right person to talk to. For one young woman who had lost both of her parents in the attack, he helped find a donor who could jump in and help her with the costs of her university studies.
But surviving family members and victims also say that Beck started his job too late and that months had already passed by the time he contacted them. They say that the lost time lost could no longer be made up. Some of this resentment will remain, and Beck is fully aware of this. The report he plans to release as the government's commissioner for victims on the anniversary of the attack will include a number of government failures -- things that, in his view, need to be changed in the future in order to improve the way victims of terrorist attacks are treated. He also conducted research abroad in other countries that have been the targets of terrorist attacks, including Spain, France and Belgium, to see what lessons could be applied to Germany.
One of the things Beck is calling for is the creation of a prominent commissioner for victims at the government level who would step in after terrorist attacks and other "events that inflict great damage," with a permanent office located inside the Justice Ministry. He also wants to set up an online portal that would inform families about where they can find information and where and how they can apply for assistance. And he is calling for ways of identifying the dead that will be less burdensome to families. In his report, Beck writes that such measures would make a lot of things easier for families.
The only problem is that this will all come too late for the families whose loved ones were lost or injured in the Breitscheidplatz terrorist attack.
Dec. 19, 2016, left behind a riddle for Hartmut H¼sges. When the semi-truck came to a stop that night, H¼sges and his husband Sascha remained unscathed. H¼sgen's husband said at the time, "Look after the dog and I will see if there is any way I can help." He returned a short time later ashen-faced. Something, perhaps a piece of a Christmas market stand, must have fallen on his head. The doctors at a local hospital diagnosed him with serious brain hemorrhaging. Sascha was put into an induced coma and underwent surgery.
He has spent nearly a year in hospitals and rehabilitation clinics since then and hasn't returned home. Nor has he been able to speak a word since that day and he has also been unable to move on his own. H¼sges has no idea what is going on inside his partner's head because Sascha is only able to blink his eyes and move his left hand a bit. The rest of his body is paralyzed.
"His life has been wrecked," says H¼sges.
H¼sges is 61 years old and works as a senior official in the German Finance Ministry, where he is responsible for the country's annual tax forecast. He's not the kind of person who protests over things just to make himself feel a little better. Once he went to a meeting with other victims, but he never went again because the evening had been too emotional for him. He's not fond of crying.
H¼sges says he quickly came to understand it was unlikely his husband would ever return to his old self and that he would likely require care for the rest of his life. H¼sges has already begun preparing for the future.
He purchased a home, which he plans to move into with his husband at some point. It's a rambler, which is important because Sascha will no longer be able to climb any stairs, and it is now being remodeled to make it handicap-accessible. H¼sges also bought a car that has been equipped for wheelchair transport and he plans to hire nurses to provide care for his husband.
H¼sges estimates this will all cost around 750,000 euros - most of which will never be reimbursed.
Many of the victims' families have stories to tell pertaining to money. There are different sources of funding available to victims in Germany, but the families say that weeks passed before they had a good overview of them. The German parliament's research service was tasked with drafting an overview in the spring and the ensuing document it produced had over 27 pages.
After the attack, it was even unclear initially who was responsible for compensation -- the government, under its victims' compensation law, or a fund maintained by private car insurance companies. The law says that the state is not responsible for damages "caused by an attacker through the use of a motor vehicle." It was only through a hectically arranged order that both funds could be accessed -- a decision that was helpful to the victims and their families, but also extremely complicated given that one fund is managed by the state of Berlin and the other by the German Insurance Association. There are also so-called hardship payments for the victims of criminal terrorist acts administered by the Federal Office of Justice in Bonn. A different application has to be completed for each different fund.
Many of those affected described the quest for reimbursement as a degrading process in which they felt a bit like beggars -- at least initially. Sometimes they had to wait weeks for an answer, cover the costs themselves, borrow money or take out a loan.
So far, around 2 million euros has been paid out to 132 victims and surviving family members, an average of 15,000 euros per person. These sums will likely increase significantly in the coming months. Eighteen of the surviving victims were recently granted social security payments. Nonetheless, it's still worth drawing a comparison: The government has promised 40 million euros to cover damages caused by the riots surrounding the G-20 summit in Hamburg.
H¼sges, the official from the Finance Ministry, isn't officially counted as a victim because he remained uninjured. He says that for him it's not about money. He claims he doesn't, as is normal in the United States, want to receive millions of dollars in damages. "There can be no compensation for Sascha's life anyway," he says. "One-hundred million can't make a difference there." H¼sges only wants to have the costs reimbursed that he wouldn't have accrued had it not been for the terrorist attack.
He looked up the pertinent sections of the federal budget. The pot of money dedicated to such damages, he says, has been pathetically endowed. "The federal department that is responsible could have stocked it up from one day to the next," H¼sges argues.
Kurt Beck will also recommend in his report that compensation for terror victims should be increased considerably. He believes the 10,000 euros generally paid to surviving relatives is too low, and that payments to those who are injured could also be higher. But he can only make a recommendation-- the actual decision must be made by politicians.
H¼sges says he had always looked forward to his future, but now it's something he views with concern. He continues to carry the burden of two lives. He still wears his wedding ring on the ring finger on his left hand, and that of his husband on his right one.
When one asks the people affected by the Breitscheidplatz attack if they experienced anything positive amid their suffering, if there are quiet heroes, they name people that nobody knows. Clerks in government offices who truly make an effort. People who helped them, police officers, paramedics, employees of the Weisser Ring, an organization that assists crime victims, and first responders. They often mention Pelsin Bars.
The doctor from Turkey was on Breitscheidplatz with friends the evening of the attack when she suddenly saw people running toward her. Bars rushed in the other direction -- toward the injured. She is only 28 years old, but in eastern Turkey she had already had to treat the victims of a bomb attack. She says that might have been why she didn't panic, and instead calmly and carefully cared for the injured -- first the serious cases, then the less serious ones. She did this for two hours, perhaps three. "For me, people like her are the hidden heroes of this day," says one of the people affected by the attack.
Bars said she had only been doing her job. A few days ago, she received her German license to practice medicine. She can now also work as a doctor here, and her first choice is Berlin.
On a Monday in November, everything looks like it always did -- the stalls, the tower of the Memorial Church that was destroyed in the war, the lights. Breitscheidplatz is surrounded by traffic like an island is by the sea. Of course, not everything looks as it always did, and, after a few seconds, one notices the concrete bollards, the police officers and the camera teams asking the people drinking mulled wine why they are there and if they are afraid. It's the first day since the reopening this year of the Christmas market at Breitscheidplatz.
Ren(C) K¶chel says he set out in totally normal fashion that morning, expecting only to need a bit more time than usual. For over 20 years, K¶chel has worked at Christmas markets across Germany. On Dec. 19 of last year, he was standing in front of a stall that was completely destroyed by the attacker's truck. His right foot was shattered, his left leg broken, he had bruises on his entire body and a traumatic brain injury.
Since then, he has had difficulty walking. For one year, he couldn't work. The construction of the stalls on Breitscheidplatz this year were his first job.
K¶chel says he's the kind of person who doesn't spend a lot of time thinking about things that can't be changed. He says he is simply who he is, and that he needs to look forward.
Only one thing occupies him.
He recalls seeing Angela Merkel standing, in 2015, after the attack in Paris, among statesmen. In Germany, she was only seen mourning once after the attack: during a remembrance service in the Memorial Church, barely 22 hours after the terrorist struck. At that point, though, K¶chel says, he and most of the victims were still in the hospital. Many victims were fighting for their lives, and many people didn't know yet if their relatives were among the dead. The memorial service, some of the people affected say, wasn't for the victims.
For one year, they have been waiting for Merkel to express her sympathy personally. The relatives of the 12 victims write in their letter that that "is, of course, self-evident."
It appears that message has been registered by the government. In response to a query, a government spokesman said that the chancellor "wishes that the people affected not be left alone in their situation and to express her sympathy." Merkel then visited the Christmas market earlier this week and she also plans to attend the opening of a memorial dedicated to the memory of the victims of the attack on Breitscheidplatz on Dec. 19. And, last week, relatives of the victims received a letter from the Chancellery for the first time. Merkel is to meet with the survivors and surviving relatives the day before the memorial opening. In the invitation, Merkel says she wants to speak about "how they and their family are now doing today."
Reuters: Finnish Presidential Candidate Would Take Nation Out of EU, Tighten Immigration Rules
Fri, 15 Dec 2017 06:31
Reuters reports:
Finland will leave the European Union and position itself as the Switzerland of the north to protect its independence if Laura Huhtasaari, the presidential candidate of the eurosceptic Finns Party has her way.
She also told Reuters in an interview she wants to tighten immigration rules.
Huhtasaari '-- dubbed ''Finland's Marine Le Pen'' after France's National Front leader '-- is a long-shot. But she believes she has a real chance in the January election as her party has taken a fresh start following its removal from the coalition government in June.
''The rise in Europe of parties that are critical towards the EU and immigration is due to bad, unjust politics,'' she said. ''The role for Finland in the euro zone is the role of a loser and payer'...
''I do not want Finland to become a province of EU, Finns must stand up for Finland's interests.''
Read more at Business Insider
Jean-Claude Juncker calls for EU army | World news | The Guardian
Sun, 17 Dec 2017 14:03
Jean-Claude Juncker, the former prime minister of Luxembourg, told a German newspaper that having an army would solve the problem of the EU's foreign policy not being taken seriously. Photograph: Frederick Florin/AFP/Getty Images
The European Union needs its own army to help address the problem that it is not ''taken entirely seriously'' as an international force, the president of the European commission has said.
Jean-Claude Juncker said such a move would help the EU to persuade Russia that it was serious about defending its values in the face of the threat posed by Moscow.
However, his proposal was immediately rejected by the British government, which said that there was ''no prospect'' of the UK agreeing to the creation of an EU army.
''You would not create a European army to use it immediately,'' Juncker told the Welt am Sonntag newspaper in Germany in an interview published on Sunday.
''But a common army among the Europeans would convey to Russia that we are serious about defending the values of the European Union.''
Juncker, who has been a longstanding advocate of an EU army, said getting member states to combine militarily would make spending more efficient and would encourage further European integration.
''Such an army would help us design a common foreign and security policy,'' the former prime minister of Luxembourg said.
''Europe's image has suffered dramatically and also in terms of foreign policy, we don't seem to be taken entirely seriously.''
Juncker also said he did not want a new force to challenge the role of Nato. In Germany some political figures expressed support for Juncker's idea, but in Britain the government insisted that the idea was unacceptable.
A UK government spokesman said: ''Our position is crystal clear that defence is a national '' not an EU '' responsibility and that there is no prospect of that position changing and no prospect of a European army.''
In the past David Cameron, the British prime minister, has blocked moves to create EU-controlled military forces saying that, although defence cooperation between member states is desirable, ''it isn't right for the European Union to have capabilities, armies, air forces and all the rest of it''.
Geoffrey Van Orden, a Conservative MEP and a party spokesman on defence and security, said: ''This relentless drive towards a European army must stop. For Eurocrats every crisis is seen as an opportunity to further the EU's centralising objectives.
''However the EU's defence ambitions are detrimental to our national interest, to Nato, and to the close alliances that Britain has with many countries outside the EU '' not least the United States, Gulf allies, and many Commonwealth countries.''
Van Orden also accused Juncker of living in a ''fantasy world''. ''If our nations faced a serious security threat, who would we want to rely on '' Nato or the EU? The question answers itself,'' he said.
Labour said that it did not support a standing European army, navy or air force and that Nato was and should remain the cornerstone of Europe's collective defence.
A Lib Dem spokesman said: ''Having an EU army is not our position. We have never called for one.''
Mike Hookem, a defence spokesman for Ukip, said Juncker's comments vindicated warnings that his party had been giving about the direction of EU policy for years. He pointed out that when Ukip's leader, Nigel Farage, warned about the EU wanting its own army in his debate with Nick Clegg last year, the Lib Dem deputy prime minister dismissed this as a ''dangerous fantasy''.
Hookem went on: ''Ukip [has] been ridiculed for years and branded scaremongers for suggesting that the UK's traditional parties were slowly relinquishing control of our defence and moving toward a European army. However, yet again, Ukip's predictions have been proved correct.''
''A European army would be a tragedy for the UK. We have all seen the utter mess the EU has made of the eurozone economy, so how can we even think of trusting them with this island's defence.''
He also claimed that having British soldiers serve as part of an EU army would leave Britain unable to defend Gibraltar from the Spanish or the Falkland Islands from the Argentinians. And it could see British troops dragged into military action in eastern Ukraine, he claimed.
Hookem said that Ukip, unlike the other parties, was firmly committed to spending 2% of GDP on defence and returning the armed forces to the size they were before the 2010 defence cuts.
But in Germany, Ursula von der Leyen, the defence minister, said in a statement that ''our future as Europeans will one day be a European army'', although she added ''not in the short term''. She said such a move would ''strengthen Europe's security'' and ''strengthen a European pillar in the transatlantic alliance''.
Norbert R¶ttgen, head of the German parliament's foreign policy committee, said having an EU army was ''a European vision whose time has come''.
A report by the Royal United Services Institute (Rusi), published on Monday, has warned that thousands more soldiers, sailors and airmen will face the axe in the next parliament regardless of which party wins the general election.
Rusi said it was inevitable that Britain's defence spending would drop below the Nato target of 2% of GDP in the face of continuing austerity cuts and warned that up to 30,000 service personnel could go '' with the army likely to bear the heaviest cuts '' leaving the armed forces with a combined strength of just 115,000 by the end of the decade.
Even if defence spending is given the same level of protection being promised to health and schools, it said the forces are still likely to shed 15,000 personnel during the next parliament.
Spontaneous Human Combustion
A Man Burst Into Flames on a London Street and Police Still Don't Know Why
Fri, 15 Dec 2017 22:53
London police are appealing for witnesses to a man who died after bursting into flames in front of onlookers on a street in North London.
John Nolan, a 70-year-old unmarried former construction worker, was engulfed in flames on a street in North London on September 17. Paramedics were called to attend a man on fire, local newspaper Ham and High reported.
Nolan suffered severe burns and was airlifted to a hospital. He died in a specialist burns units in Essex the next day, when his life-support machine was turned off. A postmortem examination determined that Nolan's death was due to severe burns.
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John Nolan mysteriously caught fire while taking a stroll in London on September 17. He later died in the hospital from severe burns. Supplied by Mary Caffery
There were no accelerants found on his body, and there have been no leads as to the reason Nolan caught fire, according to the Ham and High.
Nolan's sister Mary Caffery, a retired NHS hospital PA, said he went outside the house he lived in with his brother Jimmy ''to go for a walk.'' It was during that walk that the incident occured.
''He was a frail, elderly man with a walking stick. He had no enemies, so we aren't sure [what could have happened],'' she told Newsweek. ''I am surprised by the tragedy. The police are examining his clothes now, but currently they are no closer to solving anything. Everything is still up in the air.''
Today the police issued a fresh appeal, saying Nolan's death was still being treated as unexplained. They have urged any witnesses who could shed light on this mysterious incident to come forward.
Speaking to the Ham and High, PC Damien Ait-Amer, who is investigating the death, said, ''We have spoken with a number of witnesses who saw Mr Nolan ablaze, but we have yet to establish how the fire started.
''Mr Nolan was a well-liked member of the community and none of our enquiries so far have indicated that he had been involved in a dispute of any sort. Nor does any account given by witnesses suggest that he had been in contact with another person at the time of the fire.''
Police shoot knifeman at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport | Daily Mail Online
Fri, 15 Dec 2017 18:54
This is the dramatic moment police shot a man at an Dutch airport after he threatened people with a knife.
Footage shows four armed officers running through Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport towards a Starbucks Coffee outlet as shots are fired.
One of the military policemen takes up a position behind a pillar as he moves in on the suspect.
The building was evacuated after the police shooting and separate footage shows medics rushing out of the building with a stretcher.
Police patrol Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport after a man wielding a knife was shot by military police
According to sources, these images show the knifeman being wheeled out of the airport on a stretcher after he was shot
This is the dramatic moment police shot the man after he threatened people
The terminal was evacuated after the police shooting and separate footage shows medics rushing out of the building with a stretcher (pictured)
Separate footage also showed medics wheeling someone out of the terminal on a stretcher
Police were seen swarming towards a Starbucks coffee outlet before shots were fired. Pictures show how the scene of the shooting has been cordoned off
The circumstances surrounding the shooting are not yet clear and police have not revealed whether the incident was terror related. There were no reports of other injuries.
'The man threatened with a knife and the military police shot him,' spokesman Stan Verberkt said. 'He was injured and has been taken into custody.'
No details of his condition were released.
Schiphol Plaza, which houses shops, bars and restaurants, was evacuated but not the parts of the airport behind the check-in area and security checks, airport spokeswoman Roos van der Ven said.
In a tweet, the Marechaussee police service says the 'situation is safe' and the suspect has been detained and removed from the scene.
Schiphol Plaza, which houses shops, bars and restaurants, was evacuated but not the parts of the airport behind the check-in area and security checks, airport spokeswoman Roos van der Ven said. Police are pictured patrolling an area outside Starbucks where the drama unfolded
Police were seen sprinting through the terminal as gunshots were fired in the terminal today
Emergency crews descended on the scene after the knifeman was shot by Dutch police
The man was arrested after being shot by police marksmen at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport.
Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport was evacuated this afternoon after police shot a man who was threatening people with a knife. Social media pictures show police in the terminal
The circumstances surrounding the shooting are not yet clear and police have not revealed whether the incident was terror related
An airport spokeswoman says the airport's main plaza was and remains evacuated after military police shot the man with a knife.
It was not immediately clear what effect the security situation was having on flight departures and arrivals.
Schiphol airport is one of Europe's top five busiest air hubs, handling a record 63.6 million passengers in 2016, up from 58 million in 2015.
Opened in 1916 as a military airport, Schiphol became the country's primary airport in 1949, lying just about nine kilometres (five miles) southwest of the Dutch capital, Amsterdam.
It serves as the second main hub for Air France-KLM, and also hosts many budget airlines such as Transavia and EasyJet.
It comes with Europe still on high alert after a wave of terror attacks across the continent over the last two years.
But the Netherlands has so far been spared from the slew of atrocities which have rocked its closest neighbours.
However, amid a number of scares in recent months, and reports that people linked to some of the attacks may have crossed briefly into the country, concerned top Dutch security and intelligence officials have been keeping a wary eye on events.
Net Neutrality
Net Neutrality '' The End Of Google's Biggest Subsidy
Sat, 16 Dec 2017 21:35
Authored by Tom Luongo,
Net Neutrality is gone. Good riddance.
Lost in all of the theoretical debate about how evil ISPs will create a have/have-not divide in Internet access, is the reality that it already exists along with massive subsidies to the biggest bandwidth pigs on the planet '' Facebook, Google, Twitter, Netflix and the porn industry.
Under Net Neutrality these platforms flourished along with the rise of the mobile internet, which is now arguably more important than the 'desktop' one in your home and office.
Google and Apple control the on-ramps to the mobile web in a way that Net Neutrality proponents can only dream the bandwidth providers like Comcast and AT&T could.
Because, in truth, they can't. Consumers are ultimately the ones who decide how much bandwidth costs, not the ISPs. We decide how much we can afford these creature comforts like streaming Netflix while riding the bus or doing self-indulgent Instagram videos of our standing in line at the movies (if that's even a thing anymore).
Non-Neutrality Pricing Net Neutrality took pricing of bandwidth out of the hands of consumers. It handed the profits from it to Google, Facebook and all the crappy advertisers spamming video ads, malware, scams, and the like everywhere.
By mandating 'equal access' and equal fee structures the advertisers behind Google and Facebook would spend their budgets without much thought or care. Google and Facebook ad revenue soared under Net Neutrality because advertisers' needs are not aligned with Google's bottom line, but with consumers'.
And, because of that, the price paid to deliver the ad, i.e. Google's cost of goods sold (COGS), thanks to Net Neutrality, was held artificially low. And Google, Facebook and the Porn Industry pocketed the difference.
They grew uncontrollably. In the case of Google and Facebook, uncontrollably powerful.
That difference was never passed onto the ISP who could then, in turn, pass it on to the consumer.
All thanks to Net Neutrality.
Undercapitalized GrowthWith the rise of the mobile web bandwidth should have been getting cheaper and easier to acquire at a much faster rate than it has. But, it couldn't because of Net Neutrality. It kept rates of return on new bandwidth projects and new technology suppressed.
Money the ISP's should have been spending laying more fiber, putting up more cell towers, building better radios went to Google to fritter away on endless projects that never see the light of day.
The ISP's actually suffered under Net Neutrality and so did the consumers.
And therefore, Net Neutrality guaranteed that the infrastructure for new high-speed bandwidth would grow at the slowest possible rate, still governed by the maximum the consumer was willing to pay for bandwidth, rather than what the consumer actually demanded.
And, once obtained that power was then used to punish anyone who held different opinions from the leadership in Silicon Valley.
Think it through, Net Neutrality not only subsidized intrusive advertising, phishing scams and on-demand porn but also the very censorship these powerful companies now feel is their sacred duty to enforce because the government is now controlled by the bad guys.
Getting rid of Net Neutrality will put the costs of delivering all of this worthless content back onto the people serving it. YouTube will become more expensive for Google and all of the other content delivery networks. Facebook video will eat into its bottom line.
The ISP's can and should throttle them until they 'pay their fair share,' which they plainly have not been.
The Net effect of Net Neutrality is that your ISP may charge you more in the short run for Netflix or Hulu. Or, more appropriately, Netflix and Hulu will have to charge you more and we'll find out what the real cost of delivering 4k streaming content to your iPhone actually costs.
But, those costs will then go to the ISP's such that they can respond to demand for more bandwidth. Will they try and overcharge us? Of course. AT&T is just as bad as Google and/or Facebook.
But, we have the right to say no. To stop using the services the way Net Neutrality encouraged us to through mispricing of service. If the ISP's want more customers then they'll have to bring wire out to the hinterlands.
Inflated Costs, Poor ServiceNet Neutrality proponents kept telling us this was the way to help keep the internet available to the poor and the rural. Nonsense. It kept the internet from expanding properly into the hinterlands.
I live just over the county line in rural North Florida. To the south is a town with cable and DSL. Between cable franchise monopolies retarding expansion across county lines and Net Neutrality keeping margins thin, my home was 10 years behind everyone else getting decent bandwidth to keep up with the needs of the modern Internet.
Bandwidth needs artificially inflated, I might add, by the misaligned cost structure engendered by Net Neutrality in the first place.
It took forever for my phone provider to upgrade the bandwidth across the county line. I begged them for a second line for internet service, they wouldn't even talk to me. Why? The return on that new line wasn't high enough for them.
If Google was passing some of the profits from Adwords onto the ISPs I'd have multiple choices for high-speed internet versus just one DSL provider.
As always, whenever the political left tries to protect the poor they wind up making things worse for them.
The Ways ForwardThe news is good for a variety of reasons. With Net Neutrality gone a major barrier to entry for content delivery networks is gone.
Blockchain companies are building systems which cut the middle man out completely, allowing content creators to be directly tipped for their work versus being supported by advertising no one watches, wants or is swayed by.
Services like Steemit and the distributed application already built and to be built on it point the way to social media cost models which are sustainable and align the incentives properly between producers of content and consumers.
Steem internalizes the bandwidth costs of using the network and pays itself a part of its token reward pool to cover those costs. So, all that's left is content producer and their fans. Advertisers are simply not needed to maintain the network.
Net Neutrality was a trojan horse designed to replicate the old shout-based advertising model of the golden age of print and TV advertising. It was a way to control the megaphone and promote a particular point of view.
Look no further than the main proponents of it. George Soros and the Ford Foundation are two of the biggest lobbyists for Net Neutrality. Only the political left and its Marxian fantasies of evil middle men creating monopolies fell for the lies, as they were supposed to.
The rest of us were like, ''Really? This is not a problem.'' And it wasn't until you looked under the hood and realized all they stood to gain by it.
Now, with Net Neutrality gone the underlying problem can be addressed; franchise monopolies of cable and phone companies in geographic areas. These laws are still in effect. They still hang like a spectre over the entire industry. Like Net Neutrality, these laws concentrate capital into the hands of the few providers big enough to keep out the competition.
So, instead of championing the end of franchise monopolies, which county governments love because they get a sizable cut of the revenue to fund non-essential programs, the Left made things worse by championing Net Neutrality.
That also needs to end. Even if you believe that franchise monopolies were, at one point, necessary. They are not now. IP-based communication is now fundamentally different than copper wire for discrete services like phone and cable. Let people run all the copper and fiber they want. There's plenty of room in the conduit running under our sidewalks and streets.
Let a thousand flowers bloom, as the great Lew Rockwell once told me.
Then and only then will the Internet be free.
The Big Con: The Truth Behind Net Neutrality and Why the Sky Is Not Falling
Sat, 16 Dec 2017 21:37
Via The Daily Bell
December 14th marked the end of the internet. At least, that is what the media, social networks'... and lobbyists would have you believe.
Net neutrality has dominated the media cycle lately.
But why? Why would the repeal of a rather freshly formed regulation garner all this attention, and anger?
Taking a step towards a freer marketplace should be celebrated. Right?
But to hear internet activists and the millions taking to social media complain, this step is a death blow to the internet.
Now, without the government protecting us from ISPs, we will be forced into paying for subpar services. We will be forced to deal with ISPs throttling our connections while watching small internet based businesses slowly bleed out of existence.
Except, we won't be forced to do any of those things. That's not what last week's repeal was about.
Americans will not be forced to purchase services they don't want. Instead, an Obama era regulation which attempted to police businesses was repealed, paving the way for the free market to run its course.
So why the outcry?
People misunderstand net neutrality and what it actually did. As usual, the mainstream media worked in a concerted effort to push a narrative while banking on decent people's emotional reactions. They pushed a story with the full intention of manufacturing a specific response. Nothing new there.
That response was anger directed at the FCC's decision to scale back a set of regulations. That response included threats against the Commissioner and a bomb threat against the FCC .
But that curated anger did nothing in terms of fixing the real problem facing our ability to connect to the world around us. And this is a problem that extends much further than cat memes and the trolling online.
An attempt to clear the smoke while ignoring the fire'...
The net neutrality regulations were typical restrictions . They were an attempt for the US government to control various aspects of the telecom industry.
Net neutrality made the internet regulated like a public utility. You know, like ''the water company'' and ''the electric company''. It's no wonder the few choices we have seem all too often like, ''the internet company.''
Now, telecommunications companies have more freedom to offer different services at different prices. And yes, this includes the possibility that they throttle internet to certain sites and users.
Net neutrality was the government's response to an actual problem. As usual, their response ignored the problem completely.
The problem wasn't the way in which ISPs conducted business. The problem was the consolidation of power among ISPs. They influence legislation and regulation so that the government protects ISPs from competition.
How did ISPs gain that ability? Through politicians' favorite personal path to riches, lobbying.
In fact, the FCC Chairman who presided over the implementation of net neutrality was Tom Wheeler. He was a lobbyist for the telcom industry who raised about a million dollars for Obama during the 2008 and 2012 elections. Obama nominated him in 2013.
Lobbying, as it exists today, is nothing more than glorified bribery. Those with money cozy up to those with influence and engage in quid pro quo deals. From those deals, businesses and industries purchase the ability to sway laws.
Wouldn't you know, Obama was golf buddies with Comcast CEO Brian L. Roberts. Comcast owns NBC and MSNBC. These mainstream media outlets protest net neutralityby claiming it will give their parent company too much power. Hmm'...
The power the telecom industry gained through lobbying was used to build small scale monopolies across the entire country.
They purchased influence which created laws that prevented individuals from creating private networks. They prohibited local governments from breaking up regional monopolies. They even allowed telecom representatives to author a North Carolina bill without politicians . This became apparent when politicians turned to telecom lawyers to explain their bill because they didn't understand it themselves!
The telecom industry has lobbied 21 states to enact legislation aimed at reducing competition within the industry . Not every piece of legislation outright banned competition within the market. But they all created a legal maze that effectively shut out new businesses. If you don't have an army of lawyers, forget about competing in the industry.
This led to the creation of regional monopolies across the country, creating a problem net neutrality did nothing to solve.
FCC Repeal is Rare Move Against Lobbyists'...
Lobbyists wine, dine, and buy politician's influence. They sway laws in their favor.
So where is the outcry to stop this legal form of bribery? Why are social media activists not taking to Instagram to post memes about the stifling effects lobbying has on healthy competition within a market? Where are the celebrities tweeting about how lobbying diminishes the ability of the individual to shape policy?
When we allow the government to dictate how a business can be run, lobbyists for the biggest businesses inevitably have their way. Regulation they claim will prevent monopolies always creates them.
So perhaps instead of trying to fight for the government's ability to regulate private industries, people should focus on setting their sights on the bigger problem.
In the meantime you have to admit that the phrase: ''Hold your politicians accountable for accepting large scale bribery while selling away our country to the powerful few and destroying a competitive marketplace,'' is not quite as catchy as: ''Save the Net.''
Fentanyl considered for execution cocktail by two US states | New Scientist
Thu, 14 Dec 2017 11:33
Joe Amon/The Denver Post via Getty
TWO US states are considering using the synthetic painkiller fentanyl as part of the cocktail of drugs used to execute prisoners on death row.
Many pharmaceutical firms have stopped supplying prisons with the drugs used in lethal injections. Nevada and Nebraska are both proposing to add fentanyl to the mix to get around this, as it is much easier to access.
The opioid drug is used clinically to treat severe pain, such as that of advanced cancer. It works in the same way as heroin, but is 50 to 100 times more potent '' making it very easy to accidentally take a fatal dose. The drug has been blamed for tens of thousands of opioid overdose deaths in the US in recent years.
But it hasn't been used in executions before, and critics warn that fentanyl-assisted executions are essentially an experiment. The first execution could happen in Nevada as soon as
Trafficking of pills used by suicide bombers soars in Sahel - BBC News
Tue, 12 Dec 2017 18:56
Image copyright AFP Image caption Boko Haram has carried out a wave of bombings in Nigeria The UN has warned of a rise in trafficking of the synthetic opioid tramadol across West Africa, as one official revealed it is being found in the pockets of suicide bombers.
Seizures of the drug have skyrocketed since 2013, from 300kg (660lb) to more than three tonnes a year, the UN's Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said.
In September, three million pills in UN-logoed boxes were found in Niger.
The opioid is known to be popular with Islamist militants Boko Haram.
The pills - which can be legally prescribed as painkillers - are thought to be used to calm the would-be attackers, with the Guardian previously reporting the terrorist group stuff it into dates which they then feed to children before sending them to their deaths.
Some 600,000 pills bound for the group were seized on the Nigeria-Cameroon border in August.
Pierre Lapaque, the UNODC's West and Central Africa representative, warned the situation could not be allowed to "get any further out of control", as it continues to undermine global security.
"Tramadol is regularly found in the pockets of suspects arrested for terrorism in the Sahel, or who have committed suicidal attack," Mr Lapaque said.
"This raises the question of who provides the tablets to fighters from Boko Haram and al-Qaeda, including young boys and girls, preparing to commit suicide bombings."
The UNODC says the abuse of the drug - usually smuggled from Asia through the Gulf by criminal gangs - is escalating into a major health crisis in the Sahel, particularly in northern Mali and Niger, with sub-Saharan Africa's young population potentially providing traffickers with an even larger market.
One woman in northern Mali told the agency she regularly saw children little older than 10 walking around "after taking or being given pills in their tea in order to help reduce their feeling of hunger".
People taking the drug illegally are thought use a dose up to five times higher than usual medical prescriptions, the UNODC added.
Nevada and Nebraska executioners are turning to fentanyl - NBC News
Thu, 14 Dec 2017 11:33
Scott Dozier appears in court on Sept. 11, 2017, at the Regional Justice Center in Las Vegas. George Romero / KSNV
''Everything happens for a reason,'' Sandoval wrote in a letter to the paper.
The combination of drugs that Nevada hopes to use on Dozier, who was convicted of killing and dismembering a drug associate in 2002, does not include potassium chloride.
''If the first two drugs don't work as planned, or if they are administered incorrectly, which has already happened in so many cases '... you would be awake and conscious, desperate to breathe and terrified but unable to move at all,'' Dr. Mark Heath, an assistant professor of anesthesiology at Columbia University, told
The Washington Post.''It would be an agonizing way to die," he said, "but the people witnessing wouldn't know anything had gone wrong because you wouldn't be able to move.''
Tax Bill
What's In The Final Republican Tax Bill: Goldman Explains
Sat, 16 Dec 2017 21:40
While we published both the full text(1,097 pages) and the "explanatory" statement (only 570 pages) released by the House-Senate conference committee on the final Republican Tax Bill, also known as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), we are confident not many readers - or anyone else for that matter - will read the full text.
So, as we previewded yesterday, here again is the Cliff Notes version of what the GOP agreed on late on Friday, and which will be voted early to mid-next week by both the House and the Senate:
CORPORATE TAX RATE: Cuts corporate income tax rate to 21 percent from 35 percent, beginning Jan. 1, 2018.PASS-THROUGHS: Creates a 20 percent deduction for the first $315,000 of qualified business income for joint filers of pass-through businesses such as partnerships and sole proprietorships. For income above that threshold, the legislation phases in limits that produce an effective marginal tax rate of no more than 29.6 percent.CORPORATE MINIMUM TAX: Repeals the 20 percent federal corporate alternative minimum tax, which was set up to ensure that profitable corporations pay at least some tax.TERRITORIAL SYSTEM: Exempts U.S. corporations from U.S. taxes on most of their future foreign profits, ending the present worldwide system of taxing profits of all U.S.-based businesses, no matter where the profits are earned.REPATRIATION: Sets a one-time mandatory tax of 8 percent for illiquid assets and 15.5 percent for cash and cash equivalents on $2.6 trillion in U.S. business profits currently held overseas. That foreign cash pile was created by a rule that allowed foreign profits to be tax-deferred if they were not brought into the United States, or repatriated, a tax rule that would be rendered obsolete by the territorial system.CAPITAL EXPENSING: Allows businesses to immediately write off, or expense, the full value of equipment for five years, then gradually eliminates 100 percent expensing over a three-year period beginning in year six.CLEAN ENERGY: Leaves in place tax credits for producing electricity from wind, biomass, geothermal, solar, municipal waste and hydropower.CARRIED INTEREST: Largely leaves in place the ''carried interest'' loophole that benefits private equity fund managers and some hedge fund managers, despite pledges by Republicans including Trump to close it. These financiers can now claim a lower capital gains rate on much of their income from investments held more than a year. The new legislation would extend that holding period to three years, putting the loophole out of reach for some fund managers, but preserving its availability for many.INDIVIDUAL
BRACKETS: Sets seven tax brackets: For married couples filing jointly, 10 percent up to $19,050; 12 percent up to $77,400; 22 percent up to $165,000; 24 percent up to $315,000; 32 percent up to $400,000; 35 percent up to $600,000; and 37 percent over $600,000. For unmarried individuals and married couples filing separately, 10 percent up to $9,525; 12 percent up to $38,700; 22 percent up to $82,500; 24 percent up to $157,500; 32 percent up to $200,000; 35 percent up to $500,000; and 37 percent over $500,000. These brackets expire after 2025.STANDARD DEDUCTION: Gives taxpayers a tax break without having to claim itemized deductions. For eight years beginning in 2018, the standard deduction increases to $12,700 from $6,350 for individuals and to $24,000 from $12,000 for married couples under the legislation.CHILD TAX CREDIT: Doubles the child tax credit to $2,000 per dependent child under the age of 17, with a refundable portion of $1,400. The refundable portion allows families to lower their tax bills to zero and receive a refund for the remaining value.PERSONAL EXEMPTION: Ends $4,050 individual personal exemption.INHERITANCES: Increases the exemption for estate and gift taxes to $10 million from $5 million per person and indexes the new exemption level for inflation after 2011. That means even fewer Americans would pay the estate tax, but it would stay on the books.MORTGAGES: For residences bought from Jan. 1, 2018, through Dec. 25, 2025, caps the deduction for mortgage interest at $750,000 in home loan value. After Dec. 31, 2025, the cap will revert to $1 million in loan value. Suspends the deduction for interest on home equity loans.OBAMACARE MANDATE: Repeals a federal fine imposed on Americans under Obamacare for not obtaining health insurance coverage.* * *
Naturally, without context the above bullets mean little, so here is a quick walkrhough from Goldman's chief political economist, Alec Philips, who writes that in the latest good news for the economy, the tax cuts in the final bill are larger in 2018 and 2019 than the Senate-passed version, though most of this is due to pulling forward the effective date for the 21% corporate tax rate to 2018 rather than 2019. Offsetting this, however, is that a preliminary read of the bill leads Goldman to believe that the effect on growth from the tax bill will not be substantially different than the minimal 0.3% boost in 2018 and 2019 the bank previously estimated.
In other words, for all the talk - and Treasury promises - of a sharp economic rebound, and the tax plan paying for itself, Goldman is quite skeptical; so much so in fact that it barely see a material increase in GDP forecasts relative to baseline; to wit: "compared to policy as it stands today, the tax cut would equal 0.75% of GDP in 2018 and 1% of GDP in 2019. This is 0.6% of GDP greater in 2018 and 0.2% greater in 2019 than our assumption based on the Senate-passed bill. However, since most of the difference relates to the corporate tax cut taking effect in 2018 rather than 2019 as under the Senate bill, our preliminary take is that the growth effect should not be substantially different than the roughly 0.3% of GDP boost in 2018 and 2019 we previously estimated."
Below are the main points from Goldman:
The tax cuts would be somewhat more front-loaded than Senate-passed plan and our own estimates. The revenue estimates of the conference agreement released by the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) suggest that, on a calendar year basis, the tax cut will be equal to 1% of GDP in 2018 and 1.3% of GDP in 2019 compared to a ''current law'' baseline that assumes several tax incentives expire on schedule (left panel of Exhibit 1). However, compared to policy as it stands today, the tax cut would equal 0.75% of GDP in 2018 and 1% of GDP in 2019. This is 0.6% of GDP greater in 2018 and 0.2% greater in 2019 than our assumption based on the Senate-passed bill. However, since most of the difference relates to the corporate tax cut taking effect in 2018 rather than 2019 as under the Senate bill, our preliminary take is that the growth effect should not be substantially different than the roughly 0.3% of GDP boost in 2018 and 2019 we previously estimated.
The corporate tax rate would be reduced to 21% starting in 2018. This increases the aggregate size of the tax in 2018 but does not create an incentive for businesses to pull forward capex and other deductible expenses as had appeared likely if the tax cut had taken effect with a delay starting in 2019 . The corporate alternative minimum tax would be repealed, as expected.The limitation on business interest deductibility represents a compromise between the House and Senate. For the next four years, through 2021, businesses (corporations as well as passthroughs) may deduct interest up to 30% of earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA). Starting in 2022, this limit would become more restrictive, at 30% of earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT).The restriction on net operating losses (NOLs) became incrementally more restrictive than prior versions. Under the final agreement, NOLs could not be carried back, as expected, and while they could still be carried forward, they could be used to offset only 80% of a company's income , rather than the 90% previously proposed.The international corporate provisions largely resemble the Senate's provisions, as had appeared likely. The final bill includes a modified version of the Senate's Base Erosion and Anti-Avoidance Tax (BEAT) as well as a modified version of the tax on global intangible low-tax income (GILTI). The minimum tax rate on such income would be set at an effective minimum tax of 13.125%. The agreement also imposes a slightly higher tax rate on accumulated untaxed foreign earnings (''deemed repatriation'') than the House or Senate bills; the final version would tax earnings held in liquid investments at 15.5%, other untaxed foreign earnings at 8%. Future foreign earnings (whether repatriated or not) would not be taxed by the US unless they are subject to the GILTI tax.On the individual side, the top marginal rate declines to 37%, as opposed to 38.5% under the Senate bill and 39.6% in the House bill. Additionally, it allows state and local tax deductibility '' including property as well as income '' up to $10k. The final agreement allows mortgage interest deductibility with mortgage principal capped at $750k (existing loans will be grandfathered), but it disallows home equity debt-related interest. The individual AMT remains in the conference agreement, but with increased exemption amounts and phaseout thresholds.Pass-through provisions are similar to the Senate version, but the deduction rate is lowered to 20% (from 23%) of eligible income. Taxpayers with income over a threshold of $315k (down from $500k) face additional restrictions. This further deters high-income taxpayers from using the deduction for wage income. Qualified REIT dividends, cooperative dividends, and publicly traded partnership income is eligible for the 20% deduction.We expect the House to vote on the plan Tuesday, Dec. 19, and the Senate to vote on Wednesday, Dec. 20. With public announcements from Sens. Corker (R-TN) and Rubio (R-FL) that they plan to vote for the bill, the probability of passage looks very high. That said, Sens. McCain (R-AZ) and Cochran (R-MS) have missed votes recently due to health issues and there has not yet been any formal announcements from Sens. Collins (R-ME), Flake (R-AZ), or McCain (R-AZ) on how they plan to vote. While there is still some uncertainty, all of these senators look more likely than not to support the final bill. The bill needs 50 senators to vote for the bill, assuming Vice President Pence breaks the tie, meaning that the bill can pass as long as no more than 2 of the 52 Senate Republicans votes against the bill or is absent. Prediction markets now put the odds of enactment before year end at around 90%.* * *
Finally, a tangent from the WSJ, on the repatriated cash provision. Citing analyst calculations, the newspaper writes that while Republican lawmakers say their tax overhaul would spur companies to hire more employees and build factories in the U.S, one key provision, which could free up hundreds of billions of dollars for companies to spend, probably would benefit shareholders.
The provision changes the tax rules on the profits that U.S.-based companies make overseas. Under current law, companies must pay a 35% tax on the earnings if they bring them to the U.S., though they can get credit for overseas taxes. To avoid the bill, companies have left $1.9 trillion abroad, according to Moody's Investors Service. The GOP plan would eliminate the tax on ex-U.S. profits going forward, while requiring companies pay a levy on earnings currently offshore at a much-reduced rate.
Based on analyses of past programs to repatriate overseas corporate earnings, Wall Street analysts and tax experts expect companies would use the money for purposes such as buying back shares and mergers. Instead of adding jobs, they say, companies might cut them if they use their cash to buy rivals and then take out costs.
''There will be increased share repurchases, but limited impact on building new plants, real investment activity and employment,'' said Dhammika Dharmapala, a University of Chicago law professor who has studied what U.S. companies have done with repatriated cash.
What this means is that when Trump said this morning that:
''Shareholders will get the cash'' from repatriation, said Kimberly Clausing, a Reed College economics professor and an expert in international tax policy.
Executives at U.S.-based companies have complained for years that the country's tax code makes it hard for them to compete with foreign rivals whose overseas earnings aren't taxed by their home countries and who in some instances pay lower tax rates on their domestic profits.
And now that the tax will be drastically smaller, instead of issuing domestic debt to fund buybacks, management teams will simply repatriate offshore cash in order to boost their stock price, augment their equity-linked comp and generally make the rich even richer. Some more details:
''We expect technology issuers will use repatriated off shore cash largely for shareholder returns,'' Fitch Ratings said in a recent research note.
Credit Suisse analyst Vamil Divan said he expects the drug companies he follows to use repatriated cash for share buybacks and acquisitions. ''I think we're going to see the consolidation in the industry we've been waiting for,'' Dr. Divan said.
Analysts predict Pfizer Inc., would use repatriated money to do a big deal. The company has about $22 billion in cash overseas, and Chief Financial Officer Frank D'Amelio has said its priorities for using any money brought to the U.S. following tax changes ''are dividends, share buybacks, investing in the business and M&A.''
As for the rest of the economy, Goldman said it best: "we do not believe the effect on growth from the tax bill will be substantial. "
The Los Angeles fire that destroyed Bel-Air homes began at a homeless camp, officials say
Wed, 13 Dec 2017 23:12
Post Nation
By Marwa Eltagouri
December 12, 2017 at 10:53 PM
Flames climb along a steep canyon wall and threaten homes as the Skirball Fire swept through the Bel-Air district of Los Angeles on Dec. 6. Fire officials said Tuesday that the blaze was started by a cooking fire at a homeless encampment. (Reed Saxon/AP)The blaze that destroyed six homes and damaged a dozen more last week in the Bel-Air neighborhood of Los Angeles '-- one of the country's most affluent communities '-- was sparked by a cooking fire at a homeless encampment, fire officials said Tuesday.
Homeless people for several years have lived in a small canyon east of the 405 freeway near Sepulveda Boulevard in Bel-Air, said Peter Sanders, a spokesman for the Los Angeles Fire Department. Arson investigators visited the encampment the morning of Dec. 6 and found evidence that people had been cooking and sleeping in the brush area, but did not find anyone at the encampment. Much of it was destroyed by the fire.
Fire officials said that before the fire, they were unaware of the encampment's existence and had not answered any calls in that location.
The fire, dubbed the Skirball Fire, is among blazes that have ravaged Southern California for more than a week, fanned by high-speed winds and dry conditions. The damage caused by the Skirball Fire was small compared with the Thomas Fire, which remains the largest active wildfire, having burned through nearly 150,000 acres and taking with it more than 500 buildings and at least one life as of Sunday. Officials over the weekend began lifting evacuation orders in Ventura, leaving them to deal with the aftermath of the historic fire. Residents in Carpinteria and Santa Barbara were still under threat Sunday as the fire raged.
Firefighters inside a destroyed home in Bel-Air. (John Cetrino/European Pressphoto Agency/REX/Shutterstock/)After it broke early Wednesday, the Skirball Fire blackened chaparral-covered hillsides along the freeway and shut down part of the 405 during that morning's rush hour. It destroyed more than 400 acres in Bel-Air and damaged homes on Moraga Drive, Casiano Road and Linda Flora Drive, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The fire tore through the hills over UCLA, where classes were canceled, according to the L.A. Times. Faculty and staff living off-campus were urged to stay away and the university, along with more than 800 Department of Water and Power customers, lost power.
It forced the Getty Center to close, though officials said the flames did not immediately endanger the museum's art, according to the L.A. Times. And about a hundred nuns at a nursing home in the fire's path were evacuated and taken into the homes of maintenance workers, nurses, administrators and drivers.
The fire also led Los Angeles Lakers player Brook Lopez to use a car service to evacuate his cat from his Bel-Air home, according to the L.A. Times.
By Tuesday, the fire was 85 percent contained, with 69 firefighters still working to fully extinguish it. As of Tuesday afternoon, the Thomas Fire was 25 percent contained, while the other fires were either mostly contained or fully extinguished.
The investigators examining the homeless encampment ruled out arson as a cause of the fire based on where the flames ignited and what was left there. Sanders said there are no suspects in connection to the fire.
About 55,000 homeless people were living in Los Angeles County in 2017 '-- about 13,000 people more than in 2016, according to the Associated Press. Most homeless people there are considered unsheltered, meaning tens of thousands of people can't access shelters and are forced to sleep in streets or parks. In New York City, just 5 percent of homeless people are considered unsheltered because of a system that gets people into shelters immediately.
About 90 percent of wildfires in the United States are caused by humans. Some result from campfires left unattended or negligently discarded cigarettes, according to the National Park Service. The other 10 percent of fires are caused by lightening or lava.
Read more:
Apocalyptic images show the devastation caused by raging Southern California fires
California fires rage into second week as massive blazes are 'expected to spread'
Marwa Eltagouri is a general assignment reporter for The Washington Post. She previously worked as a reporter for the Chicago Tribune, where she covered crime, immigration and neighborhood change. Contact her at marwa.eltagouri@washpost.com.
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Los Angeles Wants To Put Its Shelter Animals On An All-Vegan Diet | Daily Wire
Thu, 14 Dec 2017 10:55
A group of activists, led by electronic music star-turned-professional environmentalist Moby, are trying to convince the Los Angeles City Board of Animal Services Commissioners to turn all of their shelter dogs vegan, replacing their regular dog kibble '-- which contains turkey, chicken, and lamb '-- with a "plant-based" formula.
The idea is the brainchild of Commissioner Roger Wolfson, who claims that he's "researched" vegan diets for animals and that restricting dogs and cats to consuming only plant-based material "eliminates" certain behavioral and digestive issues. He also claims that the city of Los Angeles, in order to be truly considered progressive, needs to rethink the ""the ethics of feeding animals to animals," The Washington Post reports.
''If we adopt this, it's one more thing that proves to the world that Los Angeles really is the progressive capital,'' Moby testified at a recent meeting of the Board of Animal Services.
''We have to embrace the fact that the raising and killing of animals for food purposes must only be done if we have absolutely no other choice,'' Wolfson added. ''This is about the long-term survival of every man, woman and child in this room, and all of the people in our lives.''
Lisa Bloom, the notorious "feminist" attorney who disappeared from the public eye after defending alleged serial rapist Harvey Weinstein, and reportedly suggesting that Weinstein smear his accusers in the media to delegitimize their stories, is also a supporter of the measure.
According to PetMD, and veterinarians consulted for the Post's article, the idea of feeding dogs only plants is less "progressive" and more "harmful and insane." Although some privately owned dogs can thrive on vegan diets, Dr. Jeremy Prupas said in his report to the commission that shelter dogs are often injured, undernourished and have special needs, and require their food to contain enough protein, calcium and other vitamins and minerals to help them heal and thrive.
PetMD is more blunt, claiming that it is "inappropriate" to feed a pet a diet that ultimately forces them "to eat something that it isn't designed to handle." Dogs and cats can't manufacture some of their own nutrients like humans can. Denying them meat can lead to everything from cardiomyopathy to fatty liver disease.
But it's more important to people like Moby that L.A. be "progressive" than that homeless shelter dogs be given proper nutrition, apparently.
Thankfully, the Los Angeles shelters have other issues to contend with, specifically the cost of food that would make moving to an all-vegan shelter difficult. But "pro-vegan voices" are reportedly prevailing at shelter commission meetings, so perhaps it might be time to adopt some sweet animals from L.A. shelters before they're all forced to go meatless.
Security robots are being used to ward off San Francisco's homeless population | TechCrunch
Thu, 14 Dec 2017 11:01
Is it worse if a robot instead of a human is used to deter the homeless from setting up camp outside places of business?
One such bot cop recently took over the outside of the San Francisco SPCA, an animal advocacy and pet adoption clinic in the city's Mission district, to deter homeless people from hanging out there '-- causing some people to get very upset.
Silicon Valley game developer and Congressional candidate Brianna Wu tweeted yesterday her dismay at the move, saying, ''I'm sorry for being so frank but this absolutely disgusts me as someone that experienced homelessness.''
The homelessness issue in S.F. is thorny and complicated. One could get whiplash at seeing the excess of wealth and privilege juxtaposed with the dire circumstances just steps outside Twitter headquarters on Market Street.
However, the city's homeless are also associated with higher rates of crime, violence and sometimes episodes of psychosis, leading to safety issues that many feel San Francisco has not had an adequate handle on.
The S.F. SPCA rolled out the use of a robot unit dubbed K9 from security startup Knightscope a month ago, citing these same safety concerns.
''Over the summer our shelter was broken into twice. The inside was vandalized and property and cash donations were stolen,'' S.F. SPCA spokesperson Krista Maloney told TechCrunch. ''Furthermore, many staff members and volunteers have filed complaints about damage to cars and harassment they experienced in our parking lot when leaving work after dark. We currently employ security guards, but we have a large campus and they can only be in one area at a time.
The K9 units are also cheaper than humans. One robot costs $6 an hour to use vs. paying a security guard the average $16 an hour.
''Unfortunately, in the last year we've been forced to spend a significant amount of money to ensure the security and safety of the people on our campus as well as the animals in our care,'' Maloney said.
And, according to both the S.F. SPCA and Knightscope, crime dropped after deploying the bot.
However, the K9 unit was patrolling several areas around the shop, including the sidewalk where humans walk, drawing the ire of pedestrians and advocacy group Walk SF, which previously introduced a bill to ban food delivery robots throughout the city.
''We're seeing more types of robots on sidewalks and want to see the city getting ahead of this,'' said Cathy DeLuca, Walk SF policy and program director, who also mentioned S.F. district 7 supervisor Norman Yee would be introducing legislation around sidewalk use permits for robots in the beginning of 2018.
Last week the city ordered the S.F. SPCA to stop using these security robots altogether or face a fine of $1,000 per day for operating in a public right of way without a permit.
The S.F. SPCA says it has since removed the robot and is working through a permitting process. It has already seen ''two acts of vandalism'' since the robot's removal.
But putting permits and public use of sidewalks aside, it seems the robot could do more than just discourage homeless camps. It could keep an eye on the surrounding area and report crimes, yes, but it could also possibly be used to alert police and social workers to areas where homelessness seems to have increased or look for anyone who may be facing violence or a psychotic episode and in need of intervention.
The Knightscope bots are equipped with four cameras able to read more than 300 license plates per minute. They can move about and keep tabs on an area, noting anyone on a list of those who shouldn't be there.
Already the S.F. SPCA said it has experienced a drop in crime when using the bot cop. The same might be said if it had increased the use of human security guards but humans, as mentioned above, cost more. They also can't monitor 24/7 or immediately upload what they see to the cloud.
Further, robots aren't going away. While it isn't clear what solution San Francisco's city council will come up with to handle the increase of these types of bots on our sidewalks in the future, it's inevitable we're going to see more of them.
It's an age-old human vs. machine argument. But machines usually win.
3 Belts No Roads
One dead after Austrian gas hub explosion
Tue, 12 Dec 2017 13:45
Getty Images | TOMAS HULIK | AFP
Austria's main gas pipeline hub at Baumgarten, Eastern Vienna, where an explosion rocked the site on Tuesday 12 December.
An explosion at Austria's main gas hub Tuesday has left one person dead and several injured, according to a report.
Gas Connect Austria, which operates the Baumgarten site on the Austrian border with Slovakia, said that the cause of the blast was not yet known.
According to Reuters, deliveries to Italy might be most affected. Shortly after the news, Italy's wholesale gas price rose 87 percent to 44.50 euros per megawatt hour.
Italian industry minister Carlo Calenda warned of a "serious" energy supply problem and said the country would need to declare a state of emergency.
However SNAM, an Italian natural gas infrastructure company, said supplies to the country were currently guaranteed by storage levels and Russian gas imports could resume as early as today.
Following the blast, the Austrian Press Agency (APA) is reporting one person dead and 18 injured. The APA also said the plant was now shut down and the fire contained.
On Twitter, Austrian police reported that the explosion's origin was "technical". The force later added that the fire was under control and that emergency services were tending to the injured.
Russia's Gazprom, which feeds gas to the hub for delivery around Europe, said it had been forced to reroute supplies to customers.
British gas prices also affected by a U.K. pipeline outage, lifted to their highest level since 2013.
Baku-Tbilisi-Kars Railway to Become Central Asia's Gateway to Europe
Mon, 11 Dec 2017 16:18
By Fuad Shahbazov
December 7, 2017, the CACI Analyst
On October 30, 2017, Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev, along with Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Georgia's Prime-minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili, Kazakhstan's Prime Minister Bakytzhan Sagintayev, and Uzbekistan's Prime Minister Abdulla Aripov attended the opening ceremony of the long-delayed Baku-Tbilisi-Kars (BTK) railway. ''The opening of the railway is of historic and strategic significance,'' Aliyev said at the ceremony in the Caspian port city of Alat, south of Baku, to mark the departure of the first trains. In fact, the opening of the new railway provides an alternative route to existing rail services carrying goods from Asia to Europe.
BACKGROUND: The BTK railway, totaling 826 kilometers in length, is intended to complete a transport corridor linking Azerbaijan to Turkey (and thereby linking Central Asia and China to Europe) by rail. The railway is constructed on the basis of a Georgian-Azerbaijani-Turkish intergovernmental agreement. At the initial stage, it will have a capacity of one million passengers and 6.5 million tons of cargo per year, projected to reach 17 million tons of cargo per year by 2023. Starting in Baku, the trains will stop in Tbilisi, pass through gauge-changing facilities in Akhalkalaki, and terminate in north-east Turkey.
Given the importance of the BTK project, most Central Asian countries including Kazakhstan, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan have expressed an interest in becoming connected to BTK, which is the shortest route linking the landlocked region with Europe. Kazakhstan, for example, appears eager to join the route to its strategic Khorgos Gateway on the border with China. The initiators of the project forecast the development of a new railway junction between Central Asia and Europe, after Kazakhstan's Aktau port and Turkmenistan's Turkmenbashi are connected to the BTK route. The region's connection with Europe through the Caspian Sea would indeed provide a shorter route for transportation of local goods. Besides stimulating local manufacturing operations, the BTK route will also provide the countries it passes through with additional new sources of revenue, such as transit fees.
IMPLICATIONS: The Central Asian region, confined by its geography, seeks economic diversification through promoting various ambitious projects such as the China-led One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative. In general, the regional states see the BTK route as a logical continuation of the multi-billion dollar OBOR project, which intends to link the region with Europe.
The BTK rail line physically connects the central portions of Eurasia, the singular landmass stretching from China's east coast to Europe's west coast, containing 70 percent of the world's population, 75 percent of its energy resources, and 70 percent of its GDP. The overland journey between China and Europe via the BTK rail line will take around 15 days, which is more than twice as fast as sea transport at less than half the price of air travel. Trains can depart from a variety of cities in China, cross into Kazakhstan at the Khorgos Gateway, be easily transported by ferry across the Caspian Sea to the New Port of Baku, and then be loaded directly onto the BTK and head on to Europe '-- and vice versa in the opposite direction.
In this context, analysts in Kazakhstan have raised the possibility of reviving the Trans-Caspian Transportation Corridor. However, this project requires significant increases in trade turnover and Chinese exports to European markets. These options were discussed during recent the EXPO-2017 held in Astana. On November 5, 2017, the first train cargo carrying 600 tons of wheat from Kazakhstan arrived in the Turkish port of Mersin via the BTK route. The train completed the 1258-km journey from Kars to Mersin in about 30 hours. The first successful transit of goods was received with optimism in Kazakhstan regarding the future benefits of the BTK railway. According to Beybit Isayev, Kazakhstan's ambassador to Azerbaijan, the BTK railway project is in Kazakhstan's perspective the most valuable part of the transportation corridors from China through the Central Asian region and the Caspian basin, opening new prospects for delivering Kazakh goods to European markets.
Uzbekistan is eager to join the BTK route for the same reasons. The first high-level consultations regarding Uzbekistan's participation in the BTK project were held in Tashkent on October 17, 2016, during a meeting between Azerbaijan's Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov and his Uzbek counterpart Abdulaziz Kamilov. On March 18 this year, a trilateral meeting of Azerbaijan's, Georgia's, and Uzbekistan's railway departments was organized in Tashkent. Uzbekistan is known for its multi-sphere export, including coal and cotton, which has attracted foreign investments and gradually improved the production level. Increased trade turnover through this railway will increase Uzbekistan's GDP, enabling the country to facilitate and diversify its export of cotton and other agricultural products to the world markets.
The South Korean Black and Caspian Sea Export Company has expressed a willingness to invest in transit projects that pass through Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. The company intends to export Polypropylene and Polyethylene from these countries. The BTK railway is seemingly the most relevant option for the company to deliver goods to Europe via Turkey. According to the company's director Lee Dong, the Georgia-based Caucasus-Trans Express Company will be its logistical partner.
Turkmenistan also eyes the possibility of connecting to the BTK railway project, as indicated during President Gurbanguly Berdimuhammedov's recent visit to Baku. Possessing substantial natural resources deposits, including enormous hydrocarbon reserves, Turkmenistan also seeks alternative routes to Europe. In Baku, Berdimuhammedov emphasized the importance of improving transport connections between the South Caucasus and Central Asia, which would ease mutual trade operations of all these countries. In this regard, the BTK railway may serve as a suitable platform, which will provide access for Turkmen goods to European markets.
Unlike Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan's and Turkmenistan's participation in the BTK project nevertheless remains problematic due to limitations in existing infrastructure. Their participation in the BTK project depends on the successful launch of the Navoi '' Turkmenbashi railway route, which will connect to the BTK railway, as well as Baku's Alat International Seaport, and further increase the effectiveness of rail links between Azerbaijan and Central Asia. It remains a precondition for the westward export of Uzbek, Turkmen and Afghan goods via the BTK railway. Early talks regarding the Navoi '' Turkmenbashi transport corridor were held in Ashgabat in 2012, when Uzbekistan's former President Islam Karimov visited Turkmenistan.
CONCLUSIONS: The Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway project is set to reinvigorate regional economic growth, and to serve as a suitable gateway to Europe for the landlocked Central Asian countries. Hence, beyond its economic value, the BTK will improve connectivity across Eurasia. With its geographic location, Central Asia has the potential to become the core of all main transport projects that pass through this region. Undoubtedly, the Central Asian countries' participation in the BTK railway project will be beneficial not only for regional but also for European actors.
AUTHOR'S BIO: Fuad Shahbazov is an Expert-Advisor of the Foreign Policy Analysis Department of the Centre for Strategic Studies under the President of Republic of Azerbaijan.
Image source: By Giorgi Balakhadze CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons accessed on 12.07. 2017
The $10 Trillion Investment Plan To Integrate The Eurasian Supercontinent | Zero Hedge
Sun, 10 Dec 2017 21:47
Authored by Federico Pieraccini of Strategic Culture
The Chinese Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), by lending out money using an alternative currency to the dollar, opens up huge spaces for investment and the strategic transformation of the region.
The overland integration of the BRI, led by China and Russia, aims to create different transit routes for goods as well as different areas of economic development along the new Chinese Silk Road. A great opportunity is thereby opened up for Chinese banks and for private investors interested in creating infrastructure or developing potential industrial poles in the countries involved in this grand Chinese initiative.
Hong Qi, president of China Minsheng Bank, recently said during an economic forum held in Beijing regarding investments in the BRI that there is potentially about $10 trillion worth of investments in infrastructure in the countries that make up the BRI, such as in railways, urban development, logistics and cross-border e-commerce.
At this point, more than $10 billion has already been committed in investments, thanks to companies already present in over thirty countries and regions along the BRI, with the ongoing intention of financing these loans through China's public and private sectors. According to data from the China Banking Regulatory Commission, a total of nine Chinese banks are involved in the financing of projects, with 62 branches having been opened in 26 countries. A further $10 billion could come from European countries as a result of investments stemming from the China-CEEC forum.
Despite a delay in investment, and especially in the development of such projects, analysts believe that the BRI is the ideal ground for making regional cooperation agreements based on trust and win-win prospects for future integration of the region. Thus, not only are public and private banks involved in investments but the Asian Investment Infrastructure Bank (AIIB) and the Silk Road Fund are also part of the financial package that should lay the foundation for the accelerated development of the Chinese BRI. Confirming a new approach to the development of the BRI, Chinese investors during the first ten months of 2017 proposed projects totalling $11 billion in the 53 countries involved.
The effort is mainly focused on the development of railway networks, hospitals, and power plants. Such basic infrastructure will lay the groundwork for further development in countries involved in the BRI that otherwise have little capacity to invest in such projects themselves. According to Zhang Zansheng, an accredited researcher at the China Center for International Economic Exchanges, the first marker is set for 2020, the year that "further tangible progress" should be made in the development of the BRI, mainly referring to railway links between different Asian regions and the Mediterranean. Reflecting how things are already changing, dozens of trains leave monthly from European countries to reach China, the latest being one from Italy, leaving from the province of Pavia, a few kilometers from Milan.
Robin Xing, Chief China Economist for Morgan Stanley, echoed many analysts in predicting that 2018 and 2019 will be the two key years where tangible implementation of the Belt and Road Initiative will start to become apparent. These projects and investments will increase global trade with the countries involved in the BRI, which could see a 10% increase in their exports to China over the next 10 years, the practical results of the investments in ports, railways and industrial centers.
The People's Republic of China continues to treat investments and risks with a pragmatic and realistic attitude. Accordingly, the main investors in the BRI comprise state-controlled industries and banks, which allows for sufficient control by the central authority in the event of major problems. With investments amounting to at least $60 billion per year, involving more than 1,676 projects, and representing about 0.5% of Chinese nominal GDP, for the moment Beijing wants to have full control over the whole project, a strategic interest that is perfectly understandable.
The BRI is generating many innovations, including a possible new sea route through the Arctic. Although the project is yet to be fully developed, China is beginning to invest in cooperation projects with Russia to exploit this new route. The Russian Federation is the only country to have nuclear-powered icebreakers. Beijing intends to follow its Russian partner in this project in order to pave the way for its freight containers. Cost savings in terms of transport from China to Europe would be in the region of 30-40%. The Northeast Passage can only be crossed during about four months of the year, due to thick ice and unfavorable weather conditions that otherwise exist. Experts forecast that this route will be increasingly free of ice in coming years, and therefore will become more passable. Given the enormous shipping times to be saved, China and Russia have already started cooperating in order to be ready to develop and exploit this new and strategic route.
Considering the great importance of shipping routes, the ability to reach the Mediterranean is of fundamental importance. As things stand now, China is hampered by several strategic vulnerabilities, such as the Strait of Malacca or the passage through the Suez Canal, two choke points that are susceptible to a naval blockade by the US in the unlikely event of war between these major powers. This is not to mention the Panama Canal, which guarantees transit from the Pacific to the Atlantic, and Gibraltar, which controls access to the Mediterranean Sea. Certainly with an Arctic route, passage would be much faster, as well as be free from the possibility of blockade.
At the moment, the land route to Europe represents a viable solution, but one that also brings with it continuous challenges and several possibilities. One involves transporting goods from the north through the countries of the Eurasian Economic Union. The second involves going through the south, with a passage through Turkey to arrive either at the Greek port of Piraeus or in Venice. Some sort of competition is bound to occur in the future within the European Union, with countries jostling to become the main transit hub between Europe and China. The link between China and the European Union represents a critical issue for the BRI, with a traffic of goods in the order of tens, if not hundreds, of billions of dollars. At the moment, all the parties involved are aware of a much wider problem for the BRI. Freight trains from Europe to China are often empty, without major exports to the People's Republic of China, a problem that makes overland transport routes unprofitable. In this regard, the European Union must accelerate its economic recovery by aiming to exploit new trade routes that offer benefits for all countries involved. As usual, obstacles lie ahead, especially in the geopolitical arena, with the BRI representing a strategic challenge to American hegemony in Asia and Europe.
With this in mind, there is a need to move away from the dollar when it comes to loans and investments made to finance BRI infrastructure projects. This does not prevent the development of new projects for the time being. But China and other countries involved should pay more attention to this vulnerability that hangs over the whole project. Beijing should therefore accelerate use of an alternative currency in this grand project.
The economic power of the United States depends on the continued need for the rest of the world to have dollars available. This Chinese project aims to integrate countries such that Washington is denied it hegemony over Asia, Europe and the Middle East. For such reasons, it is fundamental that Beijing arms itself with every weapon available in its arsenal to defend itself from the sabotage that Washington will inevitably visit on the project. Avoiding a currency that the United States controls would be a good starting point.
The China-Russia-Canada-America Train / Tunnel Link?
Tue, 12 Dec 2017 18:48
One of the great American sagas was the pioneering and building of railroads to connect the country from the east coast to the west coast, with branched lines covering points north and south. The population and industry of America blossomed in those regions touched by King Rail, and the many junction points along the lines.
A similar story took place in Russia at about the same time along the vast trans-Siberia line and its many branches between Vladivostok to St. Petersburg. Today the story is repeating with the One Belt, One road effort to interconnect Eurasia that I wrote about last week.
Today, we are chugging along blithely through what can only be called politically schizophrenic times. The loud accusatory bluster and proxy threats we use are serving us as well as shooting ourselves in the foot. With all the conflicting noise, it has become hard to see into the economic crystal ball, and the once cherished dreams for unencumbered trade between nations. Hope and visions for future opportunities may be among the first casualties, and one I want to touch on through this story.
It is about a project that has risen several times, and been quashed for political rather than economic reasons. It is the rail link connecting Alaska and Russia through the Bering Strait. It would be a globally defining infrastructure investment, probably much more productive than any overseas bases, QE, sanctioning or other uses of the taxpayer's largesse. Simply put, this project would be an economic generator allowing for the creation of directly productive employment and expanding development opportunities throughout several countries.
On maps, the Bering Strait is used as a convenient place to 'split' the world. Some maps show Alaska and Russia's Chukchi Peninsula as if they were distant to each other. In reality, they are only separated by 51 miles with islands in-between. Currently, with advanced engineering, similar projects have already been done, and while challenging, it is fully within our competence to achieve. The map divide also manages to include the International Date Line cutting through the center of the strait where the Russian side is 21 hours ahead of the Alaskan side. Because of this, the islands are sometimes called Tomorrow Island (Big Diomede) and Yesterday Island (Little Diomede) yet they are only about 2.5 kilometers apart.
The Bering Strait became known to the western world in 1648 when Russian explorer Semyon Dezhnev reached the strait and reported on the local peoples and conditions. In 1728, Virus Bering, a Danish navigator, took a Russian expedition to the strait. This expedition gave names to both the strait and the Diomede Islands '' named in honor of the Russian Orthodox St. Diomede.
The entire area, originally claimed by Russia (with competing claims by Britain and Spain), was largely ignored politically for a further century while the region got on with business. Then In 1867, during the post-US Civil War era, US President Andrew Johnson's Secretary of State, William Seward, negotiated a US$7.2 million deal with the Russian Empire to buy Alaska. During World War II, the Bering Strait became a crucial artery for goods traveling by sea and air over Alaska from the United States to the Soviet Union.
At the beginning of friendly relations between Gorbachev and Reagan, it seemed that the Bering Strait might be a concrete symbol of common economic interests between the United States and Russia. It was then that the Bering Strait bridge/tunnel was first proposed as a link, reuniting Asia and the Americas. This, after thousands of years of separation since the ice age that allowed chilly but unhindered movement of people and mammoths between the continents. This refreshing cordiality was welcome as the ''cold war'' was supposedly settled '' yesterday's news. There were expectations by all to finally have a ''peace dividend'' to allow investing in projects for a positive economic future, like the land-bridge/tunnel.
As it turns out, the ever-increasing accusatory rhetoric tweeting between nations has re-invented yet another ice age with increasingly accusatory petulance and undiplomatically frosty cold war-ish attitudes from the US towards Russia and increasingly towards China.
Not too long ago, the Chinese reviewed the idea of the Bering Strait as a land bridge to be incorporated into the One Belt, One Road initiative. They propose to build a high-speed rail line connecting China to the United States via Russia and Canada. As recently as May 2016 the rail expert Wang Mengshu, of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, spoke of plans to build a high-speed rail line nicknamed the China-Russia-Canada-America line which Russia had also been thinking about and working on for years.
China needs and buys coal. China's purchase of Alaskan coal would offset construction costs and that itself could quite possibly pay for the entire railroad and the Strait tunnel, not to mention boosting job creation in both Alaska and Canada. From a Canadian perspective, China could conceivably import up to 3 million barrels of oil per day from Alberta, Canada, which by itself is enough to justify building the rail connection. It has been estimated that a high-speed rail project from Beijing or Moscow to Washington DC would cost at least $2 trillion. The Bering Strait tunnel, which is the keystone that will allow such routes, would cost approximately $35 billion, a small fraction of the total. The returns would be both large and long-term for all the nations involved '' it is a world-changing project with global reach.
The collateral damage of this ''cold war'' attitude is the loss of opportunity for the United States, Canada, Mexico and perhaps even Central America to upgrade and join their rail-freight networks, becoming part of the ongoing Eurasian land link boom. The real economic benefits are apparent to each participating sovereign nation. After all, Russia, China, and a host of countries throughout Eurasia have already agreed and are proceeding quickly to integrate and build advanced land trade routes to include Europe, the Middle East and Africa. It really is high time to re-evaluate, look in the mirror and have a reality check on who is the source of the problems restricting progress, and who offers solutions.
# roads No Belt-Blast at Austrian Import Hub Chokes European Natural Gas Supply - WSJ
Thu, 14 Dec 2017 11:52
An explosion Tuesday at Austria's largest import hub for natural gas left one dead, a state of emergency in Italy and the highest gas prices in 3 years in the U.K. just as the cold winter months set in.
Local police blamed the explosion at the Baumgarten an der March site on a technical defect at the gas artery some 50 kilometers (30 miles) from the capital Vienna. Despite a complete shutdown of the hub, which is critical to Italy's supply, and a fire that scorched 2.5 acres of land, there was no immediate environmental impact...
EU states are planning underwater pipeline with Israel
Mon, 11 Dec 2017 14:21
The Great Oil Swindle
Sat, 16 Dec 2017 21:27
... is leading us to destruction.
When it comes to the story we're being told about America's rosy oil prospects, we're being swindled.
At its core, the swindle is this: The shale industry's oil production forecasts are vastly overstated.
Swindle: Noun - A fraudulent scheme or action.
And the swindle is not just affecting the US. It's badly distorted everything from current geopolitics to future oil forecasts.
The false conclusions the world is drawing as a result of the self-deception and outright lies we're being told is putting our future prosperity in major jeopardy. Policy makers and ordinary citizens alike have been misled, and everyone -- everyone -- is unprepared for the inevitable and massive coming oil price shock.
An Oil Price Spike Would Burst The 'Everything Bubble'Our thesis at Peak Prosperity is that the world's equity and bond markets are enormous financial bubbles in search of a pin. Sadly, history shows there's nothing quite as sharp and terminal to these sorts of bubbles as a rapid spike in the price of oil.
And we see a huge price spike on the way.
As a reminder, bubbles exist when asset prices rise beyond what incomes can sustain. Greece is a prime recent example. In 2008 when the price of oil spiked to $147/bbl, Greece could no longer afford imported oil. But oil is a necessity so it was bought anyway, their national balances of payments were stressed to the point that they were exposed as insolvent and then their debt bubble promptly and predictably popped. The rest is history. Greece is now a nation of ruins and their economy might as well be displayed alongside the Acropolis.
What happened to Greece will happen to any and every financially marginal oil-importing nation. As a reminder, the US still remains a net oil importer (more on that below).
Well, if you thought that world debt levels were dizzyingly high back at the beginning of the Great Recession in 2008, then you might want a fainting couch nearby before looking at this next chart:
Global debt is a full $68 trillion higher in 2017 than it was in 2007(!). In terms of global GDP that represents a whopping increase of ~50% (from 276% to 327%).
At approximately 96 million barrels per day of oil consumption, each $10 rise in the price of oil per barrel means that oil consumers have to redirect an additional $960 million dollars each day(!) away from such things as profits, discretionary spending, and debt payments. Instead, that money is sent to the oil producers.
So a future price shock that tacks on an addition $50/bbl to the current price (bringing the total price of oil back over $100/bbl) would translate into $4,800 million ($4.8 billion) per day. That's some $1.7 trillion per year of ''redirected spending'' that used to go to some other purposes but will now go to oil producers and oil producing nations.
Without belaboring the details, at the margin plenty of economically viable companies, countries and individuals would suddenly become 'unviable' and go bankrupt. Their debt and equity holders, employees, and communities that service these companies, will be wiped out.
This is why I love quoting Jim Puplava's observation that the price of oil is the new Fed Funds rate. It has more ability to determine the future of the economy than interest rates.
For example, if you want to bring credit growth into a screeching halt, just jack up the price of oil. That's exactly what happened in 2008.
And it can -- and very predictably will -- happen again.
For reasons I'll explain shortly (in Part 2), I project the next major upwards-surprise oil price spike to arrive somewhere between the second half of 2018 and 2020.
The Middle East Is Now A Lot More VolatileNow, if there's a war in the Middle East that accelerates my timetable. Higher prices would arrive within weeks of the outbreak of hostilities, especially if they impact shipping traffic through the all-critical Strait of Hormuz.
As a quick reminder, roughly one third of all exported oil in the world passes through the Strait of Hormuz:
It's a critical bottleneck. Even one missile flying towards one oil tanker will halt all oil shipments for quite some time.
Maritime insurers do not cover acts of war (see Rule 58) and the ship owners themselves will quickly stop shipments if it worried about taking massive losses on sunk tankers.
All of which means that the very first missile lobbed towards a vessel there will quickly result in no ships at all transiting the Strait.
I raise this risk again here, as I did in my report on the recent concerning developments in Saudi Arabia, to remind everyone that an outbreak of war in the Middle East will prick the world's global set of financial bubbles (stocks, bonds, real estate, fine art, etc) via a very sharp oil price spike.
Oil EconomicsTo get to the heart of the swindle being perpetrated, we only need understand a very simply equation describing the oil business. Money is spent drilling a hole in the ground, and then money is earned based on how much oil comes up out of that hole.
Money in, money out.
(Of course, there's a lot of complexity involved in oil drilling and I don't mean to diminish the incredible talents of the many gifted people who coax our energy out of the ground. But the high-level financial math isn't that hard to grasp.)
We can understand the oil industry's financial math using just three variables: C, P and A.
C - the cost of drilling the well and then producing the oil.P '' the price of oil when we sell itA '' the amount of oil that comes out of the well. The formula for profits is simply the (price of oil) times (the amount) minus (costs). (P * A) '' C = profits
For example, let's say that we spent $10 million drilling a well when oil commands a market price of $100 a barrel the entire time we're selling it. The 'break-even' for that well -- i.e., when the money we spent was finally returned in full -- would be when C = (P * A).
So break-even would be 100,000 barrels in this example. 100,000 bbls * $100/bbl = $10 million.
If instead our well ultimately produced 200,000 barrels, we'd have a lot of profits. And of course, if we drilled a well that only produced 50,000 barrels, we'd lose money.
Now here's where the swindle happens:
The cost to drill and operate the well (C)? That's known with fine precision.
The amount of oil that will come out of that well, or A? That, too, is calculable and known.
But the price of oil (P) a driller receives for the oil it produces? Well, because that's an unknown it represents the major risk in the business. There's just no way to predict the future price of oil. So, what to do about this?
Well, one way to fix the price variable is to ask a different question than "how much will we make?" and instead ask "at what price of oil will our well break-even?" This is a firm, calculable number and it brings us to the heart of the swindle.
How Much Oil Do Shale Wells Really Produce?If you've been following the US shale industry over the past few years, you're likely quite perplexed.
On one hand, the shale oil producers sport negative free cash flows in every year of operation. They are cash burning machines.
But on the other hand, their reported break-even prices have been falling dramatically, and are often reported to be well below the current retail price of oil. Meaning they should be nicely profitable.
Which is it?
How is it possible to both produce above your break-even price point and be losing money hand over fist?
Well, one way is if the reported break-even prices aren't correct. Let's recall our simple formula for the break-even: C = (P * A).
When break-even prices are being reported in the media, what the companies are really doing is answering to this question: At what average price of oil will this well, once fully exhausted, have fully paid itself back?
It works like this. Suppose we knew a well costs $7 million to drill and operate over its lifetime, and we wanted to know what the breakeven price was. Well, that all depends on something called the EUR.
The total amount of oil that's projected to come out of a well over its lifetime (variable A in our equation) is called the Estimated Ultimate Recovery, or EUR.
The following table shows that the reported break-even might be anywhere from $70 to $9 if the EUR varied from a lifetime output of 100,000 barrels to 800,000 barrels:
So, clearly the EUR is a very important number. And not just for reported break-even costs to investors. Those EUR estimates form the basis for our expectations of how much oil is going to be produced from not only a given well, but from an entire shale basin, because the EUR's are baked into the production models.
In fact, they are the single most important number so getting them right, or close to right, is not just important, but absolutely critical.
Now let's use that knowledge to read a recent article I came across in a prominent oil and gas journal. The entire article is centered on the Bakken play in North Dakota. In both tone and conclusions, it's exactly similar to articles we might read about the other large shale plays like the Eagleford and Permian basins.
The average well cost for drilling and completing a well in 2016 is estimated at around US$6.8 million, with the potential for additional reductions by year-end.
Based on the current well cost estimates, the average wellhead breakeven price is expected to average US$40 per bbl for 2016, about a 20% reduction from the 2015 level.
This is a big achievement for shale companies operating in the Bakken;operators have managed to increase the average well performance while reducing well costs.
Before we move onto the supporting charts from the article (below), let's just note what we've read. The average break even is now just $40 per barrel, a whopping 20% reduction from 2016 (which also saw a huge reported reduction from 2015).
If you stopped reading there you'd probably think, ''Cool! We're figuring out better and faster ways to drill and unlock tons more oil. I guess all of those projections of a US shale production bonanza for many decades to come are confirmed by this news.''
The first chart offered in this article supports that contention very nicely. In it, we see that the break-even price has plummeted every year since 2013; going down from $70 to just $40. That's amazing!
But a sharp eye would also notice that the drilling costs have not fallen nearly so much. They've only fallen around 17% per well while the break-even cost has collapsed by 42%.
What accounts for the difference? You already know, don't you'...it's the EUR, the total amount of oil expected to come out of each well.
Here's the supporting chart from the article:
Holey smokes! The EUR has climbed from 400,000 barrels to 700,000 barrels. That's an increase of 75%!!
That one feature alone accounts for nearly all of the reported drop in the break-even case. Again, the casual reader would be forgiving for thinking, Cool! That confirms what I've been reading about all the amazing technological breakthroughs in horizontal drilling and fracking. We've got this!
Which brings us to'...
The Great Oil SwindleOur commitment at Peak Prosperity is to find the data and let that tell us the story.
Fortunately, huge amounts of publicly available data exist on the production profiles of oil wells, right down to the monthly production values of each well. Gigantic data sets exist containing the results for thousands and thousands of wells, carefully sorted by vintage (year started) and precise location.
Even more fortunately, there are a few analysts out there that carefully download that data and then present it to the world so we can form our own conclusions.
But much of that data is ignored or removed to make shale producers look healthier than they actually are. Here's a chart from the above article which has rather unhelpfully cherry picked the production data it used to make its point, But even with that attempt of duplicty, the chart still reveals the fraud:
The chart shows cumulative production over time. It paints a story saying that for each vintage year more oil seems to be flowing out of the ground. 2013 is the lowest, 2014 is better, and finally 2016 seems to be on track for the best year ever.
Why is this data unhelpfully presented? Because it stops at 18 months for each vintage even though we have many more years of data. These wells are principally depleted in 36 months, so why not show each vintage for 36 or more months, where possible? Is it because that might undermine the impression being conveyed, possibly?
Before we show that is indeed the case, just use your eyeballs and mentally carry those curves out. You can see them flattening even within the first 18 months. The EUR and the cumulative production become the same number at the end of a well's life (at ~30 years, or 360 months). Can you mentally project any of those (asymptotic, flattening) curves ever reaching to 400,000 barrels on the y-axis? How about to 500,000? Could you make the case for 700,000?
To my eye, those puppies are flattening out. Even if I give them a generously long time, I can see them getting to maybe 300,000 to 350,000 -- tops.
Fortunately, we have more data to definitively address that question.
The first comes to us from Art Berman, who shows that when you allow the data from each vintage to run, you'll notice something quite obvious and very serious: faster initial rates of production cause faster rates of decline later on:
While this chart is showing monthly production rather than cumulative production (stay with me on this'...I know it takes some mental effort) it's not hard to appreciate that a faster initial rate of production will add to the amount of oil coming out of a well while a steeper decline rate later will subtract from that value.
In other words, all of the fancy new technology and drilling techniques seems to only have accelerated the initial rate at which oil comes out of the ground, not the total amount!
Next, let's again look at the cumulative production values, this time by vintage, or year. This data comes from the excellent website ShaleProfile.com run by Enno Peters who has done all that heavy lifting of the data and then gone the extra mile to make it easily graphed. Kudos Enno!
Shale wells deplete non-linearly. There's some complexity there but it's not too inaccurate for the layman to think that they deplete exponentially. Close enough to get you there.
Accordingly, when the daily and cumulative output of those wells are plotted on a log chart, the resulting decline "curves" become straight lines. To figure out how much oil is going to eventually come out of those wells over their lives, or the EUR, it is not too terribly inaccurate to simply extend a straight line through the data and see where it points.
When that's done for the Bakken wells we get this next chart:
Every single oil well is plotted for every year between 2010 and 2015, broken into vintages of a quarter of a year each. That is, every well brought into production within a three-month window is lumped together and given a different color line.
First, the blue dotted line that I've extended on the chart suggests that the most stellar vintage is on track to produce an EUR of roughly 300,000 barrels, give or take. The worst vintage might be expected to produce just 120,000 barrels.
To get to even 400,000 barrels (far less than the claimed 700,000 in the above article!) a very pronounced shift in the very best vintage would have to magically take place. No such 'line shift' has ever been seen in any of this data by myself and I've looked through a lot of it.
Remember, this is what is currently being widely reported for the Bakken right now:
There's an enormous discrepancy between the above chart and the data we've got in hand and I've no good explanation for the difference except that they must come from different sources. My preferred data comes from the well head, but other's take theirs from company presentations.
Why does any of this matter at all?
Because the inputs to a great many energy reports and if the actual data is correct, then every assumption about the future prospects of the US as an oil producer are wildly, dangerously wrong.
For example, if the EURs are half what is being assumed, which seems likely, then every future oriented analysis depending on them will be overstating things by 100%. A 2x error seems pretty significant to me.
For those who like their data, you could also read Art Berman who has done a similar (and far more sophisticated) analysis of the Permian basin and come to precisely the same conclusions (also deriving EURs roughly half of what's being claimed).
Or this analysis of the Eagleford basin which derived an EUR of 250,000:
This study derives typical production curves of tight oil wells based on monthly production data from multiple horizontal Eagle Ford shale oil wells. Well properties initial production (IP) rate and production decline rate were documented, and estimated ultimate recovery (EUR) was calculated using two empirical production decline curve models, the hyperbolic and the stretched exponential function.
IP = 500 bbl/day, D = 0.3 and b = 1 resulting in an EUR of 250 kbbl with a 30-year well lifetime, however, with the recognition that this extrapolation is uncertain.
Each of these analyses are pointing to EUR's that are in the range of 250,000 to 350,000 barrels and across every shale basin.
The Danger Of This DeceitThe summary is we have lots and lots of actual data and supporting studies all pointing to the idea that the amount of oil that will come out of these shale wells is half or less what's being popularly reported.
In Part 2: The Massive Coming Oil Shock, we connect the remaining dots that show an oil price spike caused by an oil supply shortage is inevitable at this point, likely within the next 2 years. Thought $5 a gallon gas was bad back in 2008? You're really going to hate gas $10 a gallon (yes, it could get that ugly).
An oil price of this magnitude will smash many a budget. Families on the edge will not be able to afford the gas to get to their jobs, nor the commensurate rise in price of all the other goods and services they depend on to live (as oil is an input cost in nearly everything). Millions of households will be financially wrecked many communities will become largely unlivable as they lose their anchor employers.
Add the popping of the financial markets on top of things, and we've got a true crisis greater than anything we've lived through so far.
Click here to read Part 2 of this report (free executive summary, enrollment required for full access)
War on Guns
Fact check: Have firearm homicides and suicides dropped since Port Arthur as a result of John Howard's reforms? - Fact Check - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
Wed, 13 Dec 2017 23:14
Updated April 29, 2016 09:47:34
The claimCrowds are expected to gather on April 28, 2016, to mark the 20th anniversary of the Port Arthur massacre.
A service will be held at the historical penal colony site to remember the 35 people killed and others injured by Martin Bryant using a semi-automatic rifle in 1996.
The tragedy prompted extensive reforms to gun regulations by federal, state and territory governments.
In an interview on American television network CBS on March 13, 2016, the prime minister who drove the reforms, John Howard, said: "It is incontestable that gun-related homicides have fallen quite significantly in Australia, incontestable."
Asked to respond to critics who say changes in gun deaths are not a result of his reforms, Mr Howard said there has been a "74 per cent fall in the gun-related suicide rates, isn't that evidence?"
Have gun-related homicides fallen significantly since Mr Howard's reforms, with gun-related suicide rates dropping by 74 per cent? And is that evidence of the effect of the reforms? ABC Fact Check investigates.
The verdictMr Howard's claim is not cut and dried.
Data from the Australian Institute of Criminology shows the rate of homicide victims dying from a gunshot wound has dropped since the reforms came into force, but not consistently in every year.
ABS data indicates the rate of assault by firearm causing death has also declined since the reforms, but not in every year.
Data from the ABS also indicates the rate of suicide by firearm fell by 67 per cent from 2.1 deaths per 100,000 of the population in 1996 to 0.7 deaths in 2014.
However, experts consulted by Fact Check said the impact of Mr Howard's reforms on those declines is debatable.
Some research argues the reforms did not significantly influence firearm homicide rates or already falling rates of firearm suicide.
Other research argues the reforms accelerated the rates of decline, with one study suggesting firearm suicides dropped by 74 per cent from the 1991-95 average following the buyback scheme.
While it is accurate for Mr Howard to assert that gun-related homicides and suicides have dropped since his reforms were implemented, there is more to it.
Studies on the impacts of his reforms have come to varied conclusions and experts contacted by Fact Check said other factors would have influenced the drops, even though the reforms are likely to form part of the story.
The National Firearms AgreementIn response to the Port Arthur massacre in 1996, the Howard government brokered a National Firearms Agreement with the states and territories.
A 2012 report by the Australian Institute of Criminology report summarised the reforms:
The agreement resulted in restricted legal possession of automatic and semi-automatic firearms and further restricted the legal importation of non-military centrefire self-loading firearms to those with a maximum magazine capacity of five rounds. The agreement further committed all states and territories to a firearms registration scheme and licensing of persons in order to legally possess and use firearms. Previously, only handguns needed to be registered; obligations around long-arm registration varied between jurisdictions. In addition was the introduction of laws that were designed to minimise the legal acquisition of firearms by unsuitable persons.
The agreement was implemented by the states and territories in stages in the years after 1996, including a 12-month national amnesty and buyback scheme allowing gun owners to sell newly banned firearms to the federal government.
The federal legislation relating to Commonwealth funding for the reforms came into force on September 4, 1996.
Federal, state and territory governments began a review of the reforms in 2015.
Data sourcesAn Australian Institute of Criminology report on sources of homicide data said "there are three main data collection systems that produce largely independent sets of statistics on homicide" in Australia.
They are: the National Homicide Monitoring Program (NHMP) managed by the institute, and the Causes of Death and Recorded Crime collections managed by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).
The NHMP uses data derived from police offence reports and data is recorded on a financial year basis.
Data in the Causes of Death collection is recorded on a calendar year basis and compiled from information on death certificates, provided to the ABS by state and territory registrars of births, deaths and marriages.
This collection also includes data on suicides by firearm.
The ABS Recorded Crime collection uses data from police offence reports, recorded on a calendar year basis.
Relevant figures from this collection are not publicly available.
Suzanna Fay-Ramirez, a criminologist in the School of Social Science at the University of Queensland, said that would not affect the assessment of Mr Howard's claim, as the relevant data from police reports would be reflected in data from the NHMP.
She added that the Causes of Death collection is "the most comprehensive" source of data on suicides by firearm.
Samantha Bricknell, research manager, violence and exploitation, at the Australian Institute of Criminology, said: "The Causes of Death data and the NHMP data should be sufficient."
Rick Sarre, a professor of law and criminal justice at the University of South Australia, had a similar view.
National Homicide Monitoring Program dataThe most recent NHMP report, published in 2015, said the term "homicide" refers to a person killed unlawfully, resulting in a charge of murder or manslaughter, with the exception of most driver-related fatalities.
The Australian Institute of Criminology provided Fact Check with NHMP data on homicide victims whose cause of death was a gunshot wound for each financial year from 1989-90 to 2011-12.
Fact Check has graphed the data below.
The graph shows the rate was falling until 1992-93, when it increased to 0.56 deaths per 100,000 of the population from 0.43 deaths in 1991-92.
The figure dropped to 0.38 deaths in 1993-94 and rose to 0.50 deaths the following year.
It peaked at 0.61 deaths in 1995-96 - the financial year of the Port Arthur massacre and the year before the reforms began.
The rate has fallen since then, but not consistently in every year.
ABS homicide dataThe explanatory notes for the ABS Causes of Death collection said deaths recorded as "assault" are, in other words, murder or manslaughter.
The ABS provided Fact Check with data derived from this collection on the rates of assault by firearm causing death in each year from 1991 to 2014.
The graph shows the rate was steady at 0.5 deaths per 100,000 of the population in 1991 and 1992, rising to 0.6 deaths in 1992.
The figure dropped to 0.4 deaths in 1993 and remained constant until 1996 - the year the reforms began - when it peaked at 0.6 deaths.
The rate fell to 0.4 deaths in 1997 and 0.3 deaths in 1998, remaining constant until 2000.
It dropped to 0.2 deaths in 2001, remaining constant in 2002, then rising to 0.3 deaths in 2003.
The rate fell to 0.1 deaths in 2004 and has remained fairly steady at 0.1 or 0.2 deaths per 100,000 of the population in every year since.
ABS suicide dataThe ABS provided Fact Check with data derived from the Causes of Death Collection on the rate of suicides by firearm in each year from 1991 to 2014.
Fact Check has graphed the data below.
The graph shows the rate was declining fairly steadily from 1991 until 1996 '-- the year Mr Howard's reforms came into force.
The rate dropped more sharply until 1998, before increasing slightly in 1999, dropping slightly in 2000 and rising by a similar scale in 2001.
The figure fell at a fairly steady rate until 2005 and then increased slightly in 2006.
The rate has been fairly steady since 2006, despite a slight lull in 2011.
The data indicates the rate fell by 67 per cent from 2.1 deaths per 100,000 of the population in 1996 to 0.7 deaths in 2014.
Cause and effectExperts contacted by Fact Check said the impact of Mr Howard's reforms on the decline in firearm homicides and suicides is subject to debate.
Professor Sarre said: "It is incontestable that gun-related homicides and suicides have fallen since 1996, what is contestable is how much you can attribute that to [the reforms]."
Dr Fay-Ramirez said: "What we determine as significant and not significant is probably the part that's more up for debate, rather than the actual declines in and of themselves."
Dr Bricknell said: "There is a debate and the different analyses that have been done have demonstrated that either there was a significant decrease post reforms or there wasn't."
A spokesman for Mr Howard referred Fact Check via email to two studies in support of his claim.
The first was a study by Simon Chapman, an emeritus professor in the School of Public Health at the University of Sydney, Philip Alpers, an associate professor in the same school and university, Kingsley Agho, a senior lecturer in biostatistics in the School of Science and Health at Western Sydney University, and Mike Jones, associate dean (research) in the Faculty of Human Sciences and deputy head of the Psychology Department at Macquarie University.
The study, published in the peer-reviewed journal Injury Prevention in 2006 and republished in the same journal in 2015, examined whether the 1996 gun law reforms were associated with changes in rates of firearm homicides and suicides.
"The rates per 100,000 of total firearm deaths, firearm homicides and firearm suicides all at least doubled their existing rates of decline after the revised gun laws," the study said.
The authors concluded that the 1996 gun law reforms were followed by "accelerated declines in firearms deaths, particularly suicides".
The second was a 2010 study by Christine Neill, an associate professor of economics at Wilfrid Laurier University in Canada, and Andrew Leigh, then a professor of economics at the Australian National University and now federal Labor's Shadow Assistant Treasurer.
The study, published in the peer-reviewed journal The American Law and Economics Review in 2010, tested whether the reduced stock of firearms resulting from the buyback affected firearm homicide and suicide rates.
It said the reduction in firearm suicides following the buyback "represents a 74 per cent decline from the 1991-95 average".
The authors found "the buyback led to a drop in the firearm suicide rates of almost 80 per cent" and "the estimated effect on firearm homicides is of similar magnitude, but is less precise".
Contradictory researchDr Bricknell co-authored a study with Frederic Lemieux, a professor in the Department of Sociology at the George Washington University in the US, and Tim Prenzler, a professor of criminology and justice at the University of the Sunshine Coast, published in 2015 in the peer-reviewed Journal of Criminological Research, Policy and Practice.
The study discussed the debate over the impacts of Mr Howard's reforms on firearm homicides and suicides.
It said one side of the debate, including the studies Mr Howard's spokesman referred to, argues the rates of decrease in firearm homicides and suicides '-- "particularly suicides" '-- were "more pronounced" after the reforms than before.
On the other side, it referred to studies concluding that "there was little evidence that firearm reforms (including the gun buyback) produced any significant effect on firearm homicide or firearm suicide," largely written by Samara McPhedran, a senior research fellow in the violence research and prevention program at Griffith University and chair of the International Coalition for Women in Shooting and Hunting, and Jeanine Baker, research co-ordinator at the International Coalition for Women in Shooting and Hunting.
Dr Bricknell and her colleagues said the research on both sides of the debate had limitations, including "the small number of incidents (particularly homicide), the variable nature of the data, the absence of control groups and the consequent, apparent 'fragility' of some/all of the tests applied".
Some of the authors of the studies under review acknowledged that "at best, associations might be inferred from these data, even if specific effects cannot be agreed upon," they said.
One of the studies reviewed, written by Dr McPhedran and Dr Baker, was published by the peer-reviewed British Journal of Criminology in 2006.
It concluded that "the only category of sudden death that may have been influenced by the introduction of the NFA was firearm suicide", adding that "societal factors could also have influenced observed changes".
"It is probable that other factors affecting suicide, such as increased funding for suicide prevention programmes in various jurisdictions, would have contributed to the social factors that influence suicide by all methods, given that such programs focus on general intervention techniques rather than specific suicide methods," the study said.
"Homicide patterns (firearm and non-firearm) were not influenced by the NFA, the conclusion being that the gun buyback and restrictive legislative changes had no influence on firearm homicide in Australia."
A more recent study by the same authors, published in the peer-reviewed journal Health Policy in 2008, examined whether the rate of decline in national suicide trends differed for males and females.
"Given that declines in non-firearm suicide occurred post-1996, it is unclear whether the accelerated rate of decline in firearm suicide after the introduction of strict legislation can be attributed to legal reform. It is possible that the accelerated rate of decline was simply in keeping with the more general patterns of decline that began to emerge in the late 1991s," the study said.
Dr McPhedran authored a systematic review of five studies '-- including the two referred to Fact Check by Mr Howard's spokesman '-- to examine the impacts of legislative reform on firearm homicide in Australia.
The review, published by the peer-reviewed journal Aggression and Violent Behaviour in 2016, said none of the studies examined "found evidence for a statistically significant impact of Australia's 1996 legislative changes on firearm homicide rates".
The review also highlighted "the general absence of studies which undertake detailed consideration of whether specific elements of legislative change '-- rather than legislative change overall '-- may have had effects that were not apparent from the overall firearm homicide trends".
What the experts sayDr Fay-Ramirez said: "These studies perhaps have different results, not because of data quality or difference, but because of the approach they take to understanding the crime drop".
"The Neill and Leigh paper has focused on the effect of the gun buyback on gun-related deaths and they did indeed find some unexpected effects. However, gun reform is much more than just the buyback scheme. It is also the constant effort of enforcement by state firearms registries over a sustained period of time '-- something very difficult to measure and account for in studies like these," she said.
"Very little academic research has focused on the more intricate and complex nature of gun law compliance and enforcement."
She said increases in social support or government investment in social welfare are common factors that help depress crime rates and could be linked to the drop in firearm homicides and suicides.
"In light of the broader societal factors that may be influencing the crime rate, Australia's gun reforms are likely part of the reason we have seen a sustained decrease," she said.
"Even where there are debates on the effect of Australia's gun reform, generally speaking almost all of them that I've seen accept that there has been at least some minimal benefit of that gun reform."
Professor Sarre said suggesting Mr Howard's reforms "caused" the declines is "a very difficult assertion to make", but "you can make a broad assertion to say we're better off in terms of gun suicides and gun homicides".
"Whether you can say we're 20 per cent better off, 80 per cent better off, is subject to debate... But the bottom line is, if [the reforms] had the effect of reducing the number of guns that are available to Australians, it is strongly correlated with the gun homicide and suicide deaths on the wane."
He said the reforms were "a strongly and highly influential contributing factor", but other factors would have come into play, such as "the way in which we treat guns - we don't revere guns".
Dr Bricknell, who could only speak to the homicide claim, said Mr Howard is "not incorrect" as "we have had a significant decrease in firearm homicides since the reforms".
"Whether that decrease is so significantly different to the drop prior to [the reforms] is debatable and is still yet to be resolved because we've had all these different analyses done that have come up with quite different responses," she said.
If you or anyone you know needs help, call Lifeline on 13 11 14.
SourcesJohn Howard, Sunday Morning, CBS, March 13, 2016Australian Institute of Criminology, Firearm trafficking and serious organised crime gangs, June 2012Australian Institute of Criminology, Australian homicide rates: A comparison of three data sources, July 2003Australian Institute of Criminology, Homicide in Australia: 2010-11 to 2011-12: National Homicide Monitoring Program report, 2015ABS, Causes of Death Australia, Explanatory notes, 2014S Chapman, P Alpers, K Agho and M Jones, Australia's 1996 gun law reforms: Faster falls in firearm deaths, firearm suicides, and a decade without mass shootings, Injury Prevention, November 6, 2006Andrew Leigh and Christine Neill, Do gun buybacks save lives? Evidence from panel data, American Law and Economics Review, August 20, 2010Samantha Bricknell, Frederic Lemieux and Tim Prenzler, Mass shootings in Australia and the United States, 1981-2013, Journal of Criminological Research, Policy and Practice, May 26, 2015Jeanine Baker and Samara McPhedran, Did the Australian firearms legislation of 1996 make a difference? British Journal of Criminology, October 18, 2006Jeanine Baker and Samara McPhedran, Recent Australian suicide trends for males and females at the national level: Has the rate of decline differed? Health Policy, 2008Topics:law-crime-and-justice, crime, suicide, murder-and-manslaughter, howard-john-winston, australia
First posted April 28, 2016 06:50:52
War on Cash
A New Stealth Attack in EU's ''War on Cash''
Mon, 11 Dec 2017 17:35
The EU's Orwellian-dubbed Civil Liberties and Economic Affairs committee has approved tough new rules on cash that travelers might bring into or take out of the bloc. It's also broadened the definition of cash to include precious stones and metals and prepaid credit cards.For the moment the new definition does not include Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, for one simple reason: ''customs authorities lack the resources to monitor them.''
Most importantly, the draft law will enable authorities to impound ''cash'' below the traditional '‚¬10,000 threshold, if criminal activity is suspected. The new rules would repeal the First Cash Control Regulation (CCR) from 2005, which requires individuals to declare sums over '‚¬10,000 when leaving or entering the EU.
The draft law still needs to be approved by the European Parliament. Then the legislation needs to be negotiated with EU governments. If the law is passed, anyone acting suspiciously carrying any amount of cash, whether in notes, precious stones, precious metals or prepaid credit cards, could face having their ''money'' impounded.
''Large sums of cash, be it banknotes or gold bullion, are often used for criminal activities such as money laundering or terrorist financing,'' said Mady Delvaux, the Committee's co-rapporteur. ''With this legislation, we give our authorities the tools they need to improve their fight against those crimes.''
It could be argued that any legislation aimed at disrupting criminal financial networks is, de facto, a welcome move, but that would ignore the fact that many forms of modern-day tax evasion, avoidance and money laundering are conducted without cash through shell corporations located across multiple jurisdictions, including Luxembourg.
But the EU's anti-cash measures are not aimed at the giant corporations and well-heeled individuals and families, including those that, thanks to their armies of professional lawyers and accountants, get to exploit the loopholes built into the system to stash their wealth far from the prying eyes of European tax authorities. No, the measures are aimed at average Joes and ordinary Janes, and the main objective is to further dampen their ability or willingness to use or carry cash.
This has long been a cherished goal of the EU, which began 2017 by announcing its intention to ''explore the relevance of potential upper limits to cash payments,'' with a view to implementing cross-regional measures in 2018. Any attempt by the European Commission to set a mandatory continent-wide limit is likely to be met with fierce resistance '-- at least in countries where cash is still revered, like Germany and Austria. Others are already so far down the path toward a cashless society that they'll barely notice the difference.
Besides fighting crime and tax evasion, there are myriad other reasons why the EU and the ECB, along with banks, fin tech firms, credit card companies, national governments and UN agencies, want to pull the plug on physical currency:
Cash has no middleman. One party pays the other party in mutually accepted currency and not a single intermediary (i.e. bank, fin tech firm or credit card company) gets to wet its beak.Increased technocratic control. In a world where every transaction must be electronic (i.e. traceable) and where biometric authentication systems have become the norm, the power of banks, corporations, tech firms, and governments over people's every-day lives would be virtually unlimited.The death of financial privacy. Fyodor Dostoyevsky wrote in 19th century-Russia that ''money is coined freedom.'' Today, it is one of the last remaining things that gives people a small semblance of privacy, anonymity, and personal freedom in their increasingly controlled and surveyed lives. However, according to the European Commission's own rulings, privacy and anonymity do not constitute ''fundamental'' human rights.Cash sets a limit on central banks' monetary experimentation. During this age of out-of-control financial repression, as long as cash exists, there's no way of preventing depositors from doing the logical thing '' i.e. yanking their money out of the bank and parking it where the erosive effects of NIRP can't reach it. If cash were abolished, just about any fiscal or monetary policy would be enforceable, at least in the short run.At the same time, the EU hopes to pass a law that will effectively render the act of carrying reasonably large sums of cash '-- say, anything above '‚¬1,000 '-- across borders enough to get it confiscated. The writing is on the wall, and it's written in bright, bold letters. By Don Quijones.
War on Cash bogs down, despite best efforts of government, banks, and credit card companies. Read'... Spain's Third Biggest Bank Just Made it Harder to Get Cash
Cross-border cash movements: tightening up anti-terror and crime checks | News | European Parliament
Mon, 11 Dec 2017 17:36
Tougher checks on cash entering or leaving the EU were backed by the Civil Liberties and Economic Affairs committees on Monday.
The new rules repeal the First Cash Control Regulation (CCR) from 2005, which requires individuals to declare sums over '‚¬10,000 when leaving or entering the EU. MEPs want to close loopholes exploited by criminals, such as divergent penalties in different member states, travelling with sums just below the declaration threshold or using means of transferring value that are not covered by current rules.
To prevent the proceeds of crime from re-entering the economy or money being used to finance illegal activities, MEPs agreed to:
widen the definition of ''cash'' to include gold, precious stones and metals, as well as anonymous prepaid electronic cash cards,
enable the authorities to impound cash below the '‚¬10,000 threshold temporarily, if criminal activity is suspected, and
make it mandatory to disclose ''unaccompanied'' cash sent by cargo.
MEPs also asked the EU Commission to draft legislation to bring about a convergence of cash control penalties in the member states and study the possibility of establishing a Union Financial Intelligence Unit by 2019.
The draft law was adopted Monday evening by 55 votes to 3, with 4 abstentions.
Mady Delvaux (S&D, LU), co-rapporteur, said: ''Large sums of cash, be it banknotes or gold bullion, are often used for criminal activities such as money laundering or terrorist financing. With this legislation, we give our authorities the tools they need to improve their fight against those crimes. The central point is their fast access to all the information they need for their investigations. We therefore ask their systems for data exchange to be interconnected and we repeat our call for an EU Financial Intelligence Unit.''
Co-rapporteur Juan Fernando L"pez Aguilar (S&D, ES) said: ''We have tried to strike the right balance between this instrument, which aims to strengthen, on the basis of internal market, the control of the cross-border cash passing through the external borders of the European Union, and protecting legitimate interests. So, making it proportional."
Next steps
The text still needs to be approved by the Parliament as a whole, before MEPs can start negotiating the legislation with EU governments.
Quick Facts
Currently, approximately 100,000 cash control declarations are made per year, which amounts to '‚¬60 to '‚¬70 billion. However, during the same period, about 11,000 infringements are detected, amounting to '‚¬300 million.
Member states report that ISIS terrorists frequently transport cash amounts below the '‚¬10.000 threshold (around '‚¬7.000) to avoid detection.
Despite the high risk posed by virtual currencies, such as Bitcoin, these are not included in the definition of ''cash''. This is because customs authorities lack the resources to monitor them.
War on Weed
From Bad Chad
I sent old man Christian a care package from
Lavender Blossoms. This was the CBD-only version. Unfortunately, this totally
backfired. He's been out to Colorado about 3 times in 6 years to visit us
(mostly to see Gage) and after trying the CBD/THC salve we picked up at the
dispensary here he was already planning another trip back. The Reefer Madness
was upon him! His own flesh and blood hasn't been enough to ditch the hellish
Wisco Winter and break out to 300 days of annual sunshine here with us, but
after the first taste of the sweet sweet kind bud he's ready to drive 16hrs
through the most miserable section of highway on planet earth.
Until now. That fucking Lavender Blossoms goo I
sent him apparently works just-as-well or better than whatever he got here.
He's staying put in the frozen wastelands. Thanks for ruining Christmas,
Lavender Blossoms!
Seriously though, a great endorsement for a
product that instantly relieves the pain acquired over a lifetime of abuse. If
it works for Old Man Christian, it will probably fix anyone. Who knows? Maybe
it will regrow a finger he lost in an industrial accident at the mill.
Merry Christmas! Send me your mailing address and
I'll put you in for a Christian Family Post-Christmas Card.
Deaths of Canada billionaire Barry Sherman and wife 'suspicious' - BBC News
Sat, 16 Dec 2017 08:08
Image copyright Reuters Image caption Honey and Barry Sherman were renowned for their charity fundraising A Canadian billionaire and his wife have been found dead at their home in Toronto in circumstances that police described as "suspicious".
The bodies of Barry Sherman and his wife Honey were found in the basement by an estate agent, reports said.
Mr Sherman was the founder and chairman of pharmaceutical giant Apotex, which sells generic medicines around the world.
He was one of Canada's richest men and a prominent philanthropist.
Police gave few details and did not confirm the identities of the deceased. However, they were named locally by friends and by officials who reacted with shock at the news.
"I am beyond words right now," Ontario's Health Minister Eric Hoskins said on Twitter.
"My dear friends Barry and Honey Sherman have been found dead. Wonderful human beings, incredible philanthropists, great leaders in health care."
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted his condolences to the couple's family and friends.
Image copyright Reuters Image caption The bodies, covered in blankets, were removed from the house in north-east Toronto Image copyright Reuters Image caption The house was on sale for C$7m ($5.4m; £4m) A police spokesman said emergency services were called to the house just before noon on Friday.
"The circumstances of their death appear suspicious and we are treating it that way," said Constable David Hopkinson.
Detectives said later that there were no signs of forced entry at the house.
The couple had recently put their luxury home up for sale and their bodies were found by an estate agent who was at the property to prepare it for an open-house viewing, the Toronto Globe and Mail reported, citing a family member.
Apotex said in a statement: "All of us at Apotex are deeply shocked and saddened by this news and our thoughts and prayers are with the family at this time."
The couple had four children.
Mr Sherman founded Apotex Inc in 1974 and the firm says it is now the seventh biggest drug maker in the world.
Forbes magazine puts Mr Sherman's personal net worth at $3.2bn (£2.4bn).
Out There
The Pentagon's Secret Search for UFOs - POLITICO Magazine
Sun, 17 Dec 2017 13:14
The Pentagon, at the direction of Congress, a decade ago quietly set up a multi-million dollar program to investigate what are popularly known as unidentified flying objects'--UFOs.
The ''unidentified aerial phenomena'' claimed to have been seen by pilots and other military personnel appeared vastly more advanced than those in American or foreign arsenals. In some cases they maneuvered so unusually and so fast that they seemed to defy the laws of physics, according to multiple sources directly involved in or briefed on the effort and a review of unclassified Defense Department and congressional documents.
Story Continued Below
The Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Program, whose existence was not classified but operated with the knowledge of an extremely limited number of officials, was the brainchild of then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada), who first secured the appropriation to begin the program in 2009 with the support of the late Senators Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) and Republican Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), two World War II veterans who were similarly concerned about the potential national security implications, the sources involved in the effort said. The origins of the program, the existence of which the Pentagon confirmed on Friday, are being revealed publicly for the first time by POLITICO and the New York Times in nearly simultaneous reports on Saturday.
One possible theory behind the unexplained incidents, according to a former congressional staffer who described the motivations behind the program, was that a foreign power'--perhaps the Chinese or the Russians'--had developed next-generation technologies that could threaten the United States.
''Was this China or Russia trying to do something or has some propulsion system we are not familiar with?'' said a former staffer who spoke with POLITICO on condition of anonymity.
The revelation of the program could give a credibility boost to UFO theorists, who have long pointed to public accounts by military pilots and others describing phenomena that defy obvious explanation, and could fuel demands for increased transparency about the scope and findings of the Pentagon effort, which focused some of its inquiries into sci-fi sounding concepts like "wormholes" and "warp drives." The program also drafted a series of what the office referred to as "queried unverified event under evaluation," QUEU reports, in which pilots and other personnel who had reported encounters were interviewed about their experiences.
Reid initiated the program, which ultimately spent more than $20 million, through an earmark after he was persuaded in part by aerospace titan and hotel chain founder Bob Bigelow, a friend and fellow Nevadan who owns Bigelow Aerospace, a space technology company and government contractor. Bigelow, whose company received some of the research contracts, was also a regular contributor to Reid's re-election campaigns, campaign finance records show, at least $10,000 between 1998 and 2008. Bigelow has spoken openly in recent years about his views that extraterrestrial visitors frequently travel to Earth. He also purchased the Skinwalker Ranch in Utah, the subject of intense interest among believers in UFOs. Reid and Bigelow did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
Then Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev) initiated the program through an earmark after he was persuaded in part by aerospace titan and hotel chain founder Bob Bigelow, | Alex Wong/Getty Images
According to a Pentagon official, the AATIP program was ended ''in the 2012 timeframe,'' but it has recently attracted attention because of the resignation in early October of Luis Elizondo, the career intelligence officer who ran the initiative. In his resignation letter, addressed to Secretary of Defense James Mattis, Elizondo said the efforts of his program were not being taken sufficiently seriously. The Pentagon official could not confirm Mattis had actually seen the letter.
"We tried to work within the system," Elizondo told POLITICO in a recent interview. "We were trying to take the voodoo out of voodoo science."
He described scores of unexplained sightings by Navy pilots and other observers of aircraft with capabilities far beyond what is currently considered aerodynamically possible. The sightings, Elizondo told POLITICO, were often reported in the vicinity of nuclear facilities, either ships at sea or power plants. "We had never seen anything like it."
But, in his view military leadership did not appear alarmed by the potential threat. "If a Russian 'Bear' bomber comes in near California, it is all over the news," he said. "These are coming in the skies over our facilities. Nothing but crickets."
Shortly after his resignation, Elizondo was listed as one of the key players in a for-profit company called To The Stars Academy of Arts and Sciences, co-founded by Tom DeLonge, an entertainment mogul and former guitarist and vocalist for the rock band Blink-182. An April 2016 profile of DeLonge in ''Rolling Stone'' magazine described his fascination with theories about extraterrestrial space travel as an ''obsession.''
In a video advertising the company, DeLonge describes To The Stars as a ''public benefit corporation'' that has ''mobilized a team of the most experienced, connected and passionately curious minds from the U.S. intelligence community, including the CIA, Department of Defense, who have been operating under the shadows of top-secrecy for decades.''
The founders say they believe ''there is sufficient credible evidence of UAP [unidentified aerial phenomenon] that proves exotic technologies exist that could revolutionize the human experience.''
The goal of the academy's researchers, it says on its website, is ''to use their expertise and credibility to bring transformative science and engineering out of the shadows and collaborate with global citizens to apply that knowledge in a way that benefits humanity,'' adding ''without government restrictions.''
Also helping drive the effort is Chris Mellon, a former Democratic staff director for the Senate Intelligence Committee and former deputy assistant secretary of defense for intelligence. Other members of the company include a former high-level CIA official and the former director of advanced systems at Lockheed Martin's super-secret Skunk Works facility in California.
''I think we're all frustrated by the fact that our government and science neglects some of the most interesting and provocative and potentially important issues out there,'' Mellon says in the video.
POLITICO learned of the Pentagon program earlier this fall, shortly after Mellon and his colleagues rolled out their new private effort, which is now seeking investors with a minimum purchase of $200 in common stock shares. Its website claims 2,142 investors, who have purchased slightly more than $2 million worth of shares.
At a recent press conference for To The Stars in Las Vegas, Mellon described one of the sightings reported by U.S. Navy pilots: "It is white, oblong, some 40 feet long and perhaps 12 feet thick'...The pilots are astonished to see the object suddenly reorient itself toward the approaching F/A-18. In a series of discreet tumbling maneuvers that seem to defy the laws of physics. The object takes a position directly behind the approaching F/A-18. The pilots capture gun camera footage and infrared imagery of the object. They are outmatched by a technology they've never seen."
''They did not exhibit overt hostility,'' Elizondo, listed as director of global security and special programs for To The Stars, explained in a recent published interview of the series of reported encounters. ''But something unexplained is always assumed to be a potential threat until we are certain it isn't. On the bright side, I believe we are closer than ever before in our understanding of how it operates.''
The Pentagon's AATIP program marked a 21st century effort to replicate some of the decades of inconclusive research undertaken by the Pentagon in 1950s and 1960s to try to explain thousands of reported sightings of unidentified flying objects, or UFOs by military and civilian pilots and average citizens'--particularly an effort known as Project Bluebook that ran from 1947 to 1969 and still a focus of intense interest for UFO researchers.
The more recent effort, which was established inside the Defense Intelligence Agency, compiled ''reams of paperwork,'' but little else, the former staffer said.
Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White confirmed to POLITICO that the program existed and was run by Elizondo. But she could not say how long he was in charge of it and declined to answer detailed questions about the office or its work, citing concerns about the closely held nature of the program.
''The Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Program ended in the 2012 timeframe,'' White said. ''It was determined that there were other, higher priority issues that merited funding and it was in the best interest of the DoD to make a change.''
White added: ''The DoD takes seriously all threats and potential threats to our people, our assets, and our mission and takes action whenever credible information is developed.''
But some who were aware of the effort in its earliest days were uncomfortable with the aims of the program, unnerved by the implication that the incidents involved aircraft that were not made by humans.
''I thought it was a little bizarre at the time,'' recalled a former senior intelligence official who knew about Reid's role first-hand. He asked those in the know: ''Tell me what this is, and what we are doing and what is going on and that we aren't doing something that is nonsense here.''
''I was concerned the money was being funneled through is to somebody else who was an associate of Harry Reid's,'' added the former official, who asked not to be identified. ''The whole circle was kind of a bizarre piece.''
Reid enlisted the support of Inouye, then chairman of the powerful Appropriations Committee, as well as Stevens, who two sources involved in the effort were told had related to Reid that as a pilot he had personally witnessed similar unexplained aerial phenomenon.
There was also interest among some analysts at the DIA who were concerned that the Russians or Chinese might have developed some more advanced systems. Reid's views on the subject were also shaped by a book about the Skinwalker Ranch, co-authored by his acquaintance George Knapp, the former congressional staffer said.
''When this was brought to Senator Reid he said, 'There is enough here and I am obligated if this is a national security issue to invest some money in this,''' he explained. ''Stevens and Inouye agreed with this.''
''I still remember coming back from that meeting and thinking of the implications of what Reid said,'' the former senior official said. ''I remember being concerned about this. I wanted to make sure it was supervised and we were using the appropriation to do actual research on real threats to the United States.
He said he was assured that the research being done was valid. ''It was not a rogue individual out of control.''
The former staffer said that eventually, however, even Reid agreed it was not worth continuing.
''After a while the consensus was we really couldn't find anything of substance,'' he recalled. ''They produced reams of paperwork. After all of that there was really nothing there that we could find. It all pretty much dissolved from that reason alone'--and the interest level was losing steam. We only did it a couple years.''
''There was really nothing there that we could justify using taxpayer money,'' he added. ''We let it die a slow death. It was well spent money in the beginning.''
Theodoric Meyer and Gabriel DeBenedetti contributed reporting.
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VIDEO - Canada's Top Olympic Women's Gymnastics Coach Arrested On Sexual Assault Charges! - YouTube
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VIDEO - Bitcoin may now be the biggest financial bubble of all time
Sun, 17 Dec 2017 14:24
Bitcoin is now sizing up to be what could be the biggest market bubble of all time.
According to Birinyi Associates, bitcoin now looks to be bigger than any of the 10 other market bubbles it studied including the the tech bubble, beanie babies, the Dow in 1929 and the silver bubble of the late 1970s.
Bitcoin was trading at about $16,235 Thursday morning, rising from $1,000 at the start of the year, and $11,000 at the beginning of last week.
Just last week, bitcoin was the third largest of the 10 events Birinyi studied. It was third behind an 18th-century French financing scheme around the development of the Mississippi Valley, known as the Mississippi bubble, and the one-day 31 percent surge in Qualcomm in December 1999. According to Birinyi Associates, it was a Wall Street analyst's call for a $1,000 target that set Qualcomm shares on fire.
The cryptocurrency market goes beyond bitcoin, but none has appealed to the broader, general public in quite the same way.
Wall Street has been late in catching up to the individual investors and cryptocurrency traders who expect bitcoin to keep surging. Three exchanges have rushed to launch bitcoin products. Futures started trading Sunday on the Cboe, with a separate contract expected to launch at the CME this weekend. Nasdaq also plans to offer futures next year.
VIDEO - Nomiki GOES OFF At DNC Unity Reform Meeting - YouTube
Sun, 17 Dec 2017 13:57
VIDEO - Hard Questions: Is Spending Time on Social Media Bad for Us? | Facebook Newsroom
Sun, 17 Dec 2017 12:56
By David Ginsberg, Director of Research, and Moira Burke, Research Scientist at Facebook
With people spending more time on social media, many rightly wonder whether that time is good for us. Do people connect in meaningful ways online? Or are they simply consuming trivial updates and polarizing memes at the expense of time with loved ones?
These are critical questions for Silicon Valley '-- and for both of us. Moira is a social psychologist who has studied the impact of the internet on people's lives for more than a decade, and I lead the research team for the Facebook app. As parents, each of us worries about our kids' screen time and what ''connection'' will mean in 15 years. We also worry about spending too much time on our phones when we should be paying attention to our families. One of the ways we combat our inner struggles is with research '-- reviewing what others have found, conducting our own, and asking questions when we need to learn more.
A lot of smart people are looking at different aspects of this important issue. Psychologist Sherry Turkle asserts that mobile phones redefine modern relationships, making us ''alone together.'' In her generational analyses of teens, psychologist Jean Twenge notes an increase in teen depression corresponding with technology use. Both offer compelling research.
But it's not the whole story. Sociologist Claude Fischer argues that claims that technology drives us apart are largely supported by anecdotes and ignore the benefits. Sociologist Keith Hampton's study of public spaces suggests that people spend more time in public now '-- and that cell phones in public are more often used by people passing time on their own, rather than ignoring friends in person.
We want Facebook to be a place for meaningful interactions with your friends and family '-- enhancing your relationships offline, not detracting from them. After all, that's what Facebook has always been about. This is important as we know that a person's health and happiness relies heavily on the strength of their relationships.
In this post, we want to give you some insights into how the research team at Facebook works with our product teams to incorporate well-being principles, and review some of the top scientific research on well-being and social media that informs our work. Of course, this isn't just a Facebook issue '-- it's an internet issue '-- so we collaborate with leading experts and publish in the top peer-reviewed journals. We work with scientists like Robert Kraut at Carnegie Mellon; Sonja Lyubomirsky at UC Riverside; Dacher Keltner, Emiliana Simon-Thomas, and Matt Killingsworth from the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, and have partnered closely with mental health clinicians and organizations like Save.org and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
What Do Academics Say? Is Social Media Good or Bad for Well-Being?
According to the research, it really comes down to how you use the technology. For example, on social media, you can passively scroll through posts, much like watching TV, or actively interact with friends '-- messaging and commenting on each other's posts. Just like in person, interacting with people you care about can be beneficial, while simply watching others from the sidelines may make you feel worse.
The bad: In general, when people spend a lot of time passively consuming information '-- reading but not interacting with people '-- they report feeling worse afterward. In one experiment, University of Michigan students randomly assigned to read Facebook for 10 minutes were in a worse mood at the end of the day than students assigned to post or talk to friends on Facebook. A study from UC San Diego and Yale found that people who clicked on about four times as many links as the average person, or who liked twice as many posts, reported worse mental health than average in a survey. Though the causes aren't clear, researchers hypothesize that reading about others online might lead to negative social comparison '-- and perhaps even more so than offline, since people's posts are often more curated and flattering. Another theory is that the internet takes people away from social engagement in person.
The good: On the other hand, actively interacting with people '-- especially sharing messages, posts and comments with close friends and reminiscing about past interactions '-- is linked to improvements in well-being. This ability to connect with relatives, classmates, and colleagues is what drew many of us to Facebook in the first place, and it's no surprise that staying in touch with these friends and loved ones brings us joy and strengthens our sense of community.
A study we conducted with Robert Kraut at Carnegie Mellon University found that people who sent or received more messages, comments and Timeline posts reported improvements in social support, depression and loneliness. The positive effects were even stronger when people talked with their close friends online. Simply broadcasting status updates wasn't enough; people had to interact one-on-one with others in their network. Other peer-reviewed longitudinal research and experiments have found similar positive benefits between well-being and active engagement on Facebook.
In an experiment at Cornell, stressed college students randomly assigned to scroll through their own Facebook profiles for five minutes experienced boosts in self-affirmation compared to students who looked at a stranger's Facebook profile. The researchers believe self-affirmation comes from reminiscing on past meaningful interactions '-- seeing photos they had been tagged in and comments their friends had left '-- as well as reflecting on one's own past posts, where a person chooses how to present themselves to the world.
In a follow-up study, the Cornell researchers put other students under stress by giving them negative feedback on a test and then gave them a choice of websites to visit afterward, including Facebook, YouTube, online music and online video games. They found that stressed students were twice as likely to choose Facebook to make themselves feel better as compared with students who hadn't been put under stress.
In sum, our research and other academic literature suggests that it's about how you use social media that matters when it comes to your well-being.
So what are we doing about it?
We're working to make Facebook more about social interaction and less about spending time. As our CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently said, ''We want the time people spend on Facebook to encourage meaningful social interactions.'' Facebook has always been about bringing people together '-- from the early days when we started reminding people about their friends' birthdays, to showing people their memories with friends using the feature we call ''On This Day.'' We're also a place for people to come together in times of need, from fundraisers for disaster relief to groups where people can find an organ donor. We're always working to expand these communities and find new ways to have a positive impact on people's lives.
We employ social psychologists, social scientists and sociologists, and we collaborate with top scholars to better understand well-being and work to make Facebook a place that contributes in a positive way. Here are a few things we've worked on recently to help support people's well-being.
News Feed quality: We've made several changes to News Feed to provide more opportunities for meaningful interactions and reduce passive consumption of low-quality content '-- even if it decreases some of our engagement metrics in the short term. We demote things like clickbait headlines and false news, even though people often click on those links at a high rate. We optimize ranking so posts from the friends you care about most are more likely to appear at the top of your feed because that's what people tell us in surveys that they want to see. Similarly, our ranking promotes posts that are personally informative. We also recently redesigned the comments feature to foster better conversations.
Snooze: People often tell us they want more say over what they see in News Feed. Today, we launched Snooze, which gives people the option to hide a person, Page or group for 30 days, without having to permanently unfollow or unfriend them. This will give people more control over their feed and hopefully make their experience more positive.
Take a Break: Millions of people break up on Facebook each week, changing their relationship status from ''in a relationship'' to ''single.'' Research on peoples' experiences after breakups suggests that offline and online contact, including seeing an ex-partner's activities, can make emotional recovery more difficult. To help make this experience easier, we built a tool called Take a Break, which gives people more centralized control over when they see their ex on Facebook, what their ex can see, and who can see their past posts.
Suicide prevention tools: Research shows that social support can help prevent suicide. Facebook is in a unique position to connect people in distress with resources that can help. We work with people and organizations around the world to develop support options for people posting about suicide on Facebook, including reaching out to a friend, contacting help lines and reading tips about things they can do in that moment. We recently released suicide prevention support on Facebook Live and introduced artificial intelligence to detect suicidal posts even before they are reported. We also connect people more broadly with mental health resources, including support groups on Facebook.
What About Related Areas Like Digital Distraction and the Impact of Technology on Kids?
We know that people are concerned about how technology affects our attention spans and relationships, as well as how it affects children in the long run. We agree these are critically important questions, and we all have a lot more to learn.
That's why we recently pledged $1 million toward research to better understand the relationship between media technologies, youth development and well-being. We're teaming up with experts in the field to look at the impact of mobile technology and social media on kids and teens, as well as how to better support them as they transition through different stages of life.
We're also making investments to better understand digital distraction and the factors that can pull people away from important face-to-face interactions. Is multitasking hurting our personal relationships? How about our ability to focus? Next year we'll host a summit with academics and other industry leaders to tackle these issues together.
We don't have all the answers, but given the prominent role social media now plays in many people's lives, we want to help elevate the conversation. In the years ahead we'll be doing more to dig into these questions, share our findings and improve our products. At the end of the day, we're committed to bringing people together and supporting well-being through meaningful interactions on Facebook.
VIDEO - The Late Show with Stephen Colbert Video - What Do Dennis Rodman And Kim Jong-Un Talk About? - CBS.com
Sat, 16 Dec 2017 21:54
What Do Dennis Rodman And Kim Jong-Un Talk About?
Air Date: 12/13/17
The unofficial ambassador to North Korea Dennis Rodman shares the nature of his conversations with the Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un.
VIDEO - Ex-FBI Assistant Director: Strzok Fabricated Information And "Belongs In Leavenworth"
Sat, 16 Dec 2017 21:35
Former FBI Assistant Director James Kallstrom called disgraced FBI agent Peter Strzok a "total moron" who belongs in Leavenworth federal prison, during a TV appearance on Thursday.
James Kallstrom
Kallstrom, a former Marine captain and Vietnam veteran, told FBN host Liz MacDonald that if an FBI agent wanted to stop someone from becoming President, "I think he can do what [Strzok] tried to do," adding "He can fabricate things, he can make stuff up, he can lie, he can be a total moron."
"You know, he belongs in Leavenworth this guy, in my personal view."
Kallstrom's comments come after two weeks of stunning revelations about the FBI's top brass actively engaging in an effort to help then-candidate Hillary Clinton by "decriminalizing" her actions in the email case, while pursuing a case against then-candidate Donald Trump - using a discredited 34-page 'Trump-Russia' dossier to launch an investigation, according to several GOP members of Congress.
When a subset of 10,000 text messages sent between Peter Strzok - lead investigator in the Trump-Russia case, and his FBI-Attorney mistress Lisa Page emerged, GOP lawmakers honed in on a specific exchange in which Strzok references an "insurance policy" in the "unlikely event" Trump was elected President.
Now, it appears, that "insurance policy" may have been the entire Russia investigation, cooked up using the Trump-Russia dossier provided by DNC-Clinton funded opposition research firm, Fusion GPS. Fusion has been linked to several attempts to undermine Trump - including hiring Nellie Ohr - the CIA wife of DOJ official Bruce Ohr, who was demoted for obfuscating his meetings with Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson.
Last week, Kallstrom said he believes there is a "Fifth Column conspiracy" within the FBI designed to "destroy President Donald Trump" - and the agency may have committed a "serious felony" in doing so. In an interview last Sunday with radio host John Catsimatidis on 970 AM in New York, Kallstrom said:
''Ninety-nine percent of the people in the FBI are doing a fantastic job... It's a small cabal of people running the FBI, the James Comey sycophants.''
''I'm coming more and more to the conclusion that this is a conspiratorial cabal among the fifth column to basically take away the presidency of the United States,'' Kallstrom said, adding ''This whole thing with Russia is just a farce. If we find out that that phony [Russian dossier] was brought to the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in the form of an affidavit for a judge's authority, and if we find out that the people signing that affidavit in the bureau knew that that was phony information, that is a serious serious felony.''
Listen here:
VIDEO - Jimmy Kimmel on Net Neutrality - YouTube
Sat, 16 Dec 2017 20:50
VIDEO - Attorney Lisa Bloom sought to line up paydays for women accusing Trump of sexual misconduct: report | Fox News
Sat, 16 Dec 2017 17:26
Legal powerhouse Lisa Bloom tried to line up big paydays for women who were willing to accuse President Trump of sexual misconduct during the final months of last year's election, according to an explosive report.
The Hill reported Friday that Bloom worked with campaign donors and tabloid media outlets to arrange compensation for the alleged victims and a commission for herself, offering to sell their stories. In one case, Bloom reportedly arranged for a donor to pay off one Trump accuser's mortgage and attempted to score a six-figure payment for another woman. The former ultimately declined to come forward after being offered $750,000, the clients told The Hill.
''I consider myself lucky to have had Lisa Bloom by my side after my old lawsuit resurfaced."
- Jill Harth, accused President Trump of groping her The Hill cited contract documents, emails and text messages it obtained -- including an exchange of texts between one woman and Bloom that referred to pro-Hillary Clinton political action committees.
Bloom, who is the daughter of famous attorney Gloria Allred and, like her mother, specializes in representing women in sexual harassment cases, worked for four women who were considering accusing Trump. Two went public, and two declined.
Bloom did not immediately respond to requests for comment from Fox News.
In a statement to The Hill, Bloom acknowledged trying to get her clients paid, but said the payments were to help the women stay safe, and in some cases relocate.
''Donors reached out to my firm directly to help some of the women I represented,'' Bloom said.
Bloom, who has also represented accused sexual harasser Harvey Weinstein, in addition to women who've accusing Bill Cosby and Bill O'Reilly, acknowledged her standard terms require clients to pay her commissions, which may be as high as 33 percent if she sells their stories to media outlets.
Bloom told The Hill she had no contact with Clinton or her campaign.
The Hill spoke to makeup artist Jill Harth, who filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Trump in 1997, accusing him of pushing her up against a wall at his Mar-a-Lago estate and groping her. Although she withdrew the suit, nearly 20 years later, the litigation resurfaced during the presidential campaign and Harth was thrust into the spotlight. She asked Bloom to represent her after Trump denied her accusations.
''I consider myself lucky to have had Lisa Bloom by my side after my old lawsuit resurfaced. She advised me with great competence and compassion,'' Harth told The Hill.
Bloom arranged payment from the licensing of some photos Harth had to the news media, and then helped set up a GoFundMe.com account to raise money for Harth, The Hill reported.
''Jill put herself out there, facing off with Donald Trump,'' Bloom's husband wrote in a fund-raising appeal, according to The Hill. ''Let's show her some love''
The effort raised a little over $2,300, according to The Hill.
Bloom also reportedly arranged for a Clinton donor to help Harth pay off the mortgage on her Queens apartment. The amount was less than $30,000, according to a source directly familiar with Harth's situation. Public records show Harth's mortgage was recorded as extinguished on Dec. 19, 2016, public records show.
Trump denies assaulting or harassing women, although an ''Access Hollywood'' tape surfaced during the campaign in which he boasted he could grab women by their privates and get away with it. Trump dismissed the comments as ''locker room talk.''
Click for more at The Hill
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VIDEO - Pipeline bottlenecks push Canadian oil price to deepest discount in 4 years - Business - CBC News
Sat, 16 Dec 2017 07:24
The price gap between the price of Canada's oil benchmark versus its U.S. equivalent, West Texas Intermediate, has widened to its biggest difference in almost four years, with Canadian crude now selling at a $25 discount.
The heavy oil coming out of Alberta's oilsands is known Western Canada Select. It usually trades at a discount to the better known U.S. benchmark, West Texas Intermediate, in part because it is more difficult to process.
But this week, the gap expanded to more than $25 US a barrel, due to transport bottlenecks on pipelines and by rail.
Most Canadian oil is shipped down to refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast to be refined into usable products like gasoline, diesel and jet fuel. That means Canadian producers have to compete with U.S. shale oil companies, who also sell to those same refineries and don't have nearly the same level of transportation headaches to deal with.
TransCanada's Keystone pipeline was shut for several weeks after a spill last month, and rival Enbridge said this week it plans to ration its capacity on a key oil pipeline between Edmonton and Wisconsin by one fifth this month.
At the same time, shipments of crude by rail are inching higher, but are still lower than they were several years ago.
The transportation bottlenecks are putting the squeeze on Canadian oil. "We have a lot of oil in the oilsands," said Conor Bill, managing director of Mount Auburn Capital Corp., "and the problem is there aren't a lot of ways to get that crude out of the area where it's produced."
The supply imbalance is especially vexing considering the price of WTI has been on a run lately, ever since an OPEC deal last month to maintain production cuts. The WTI price is up by 33 per cent since June, and a barrel of U.S. oil was changing hands at $56.81 on Wednesday.
Contrast that with a barrel of Western Canada Select, which can be had for just $31.72 US on Wednesday. That's a gap of $25 a barrel '-- the widest seen since 2013, before the price of oil collapsed.
"Producers with access to international markets are earning higher receipts," said Shane Thomson, a foreign exchange trader with Cambridge Global Solutions. "The Canadian economy is not seeing the full benefit of the increase in global prices."
Instead of higher prices, Canadian producers are having to cut their prices to get their product to market. "You need to cut the price in order to incur the costs to ship it out of there," Bill told the CBC's On The Money on Tuesday.
The price gap could stick around a while longer, since transportation issues show no signs of easing any time soon.
"It will continue," Bill said.
VIDEO - Russia & China will engineer bitcoin apocalypse, Saxo Bank predicts >> Alex Jones' Infowars: There's a war on for your mind!
Sat, 16 Dec 2017 07:19
Moscow and Beijing are going to crack down on bitcoin, resulting in the cryptocurrency's collapse next year, predicts Saxo Bank. The bank is famous for its 'outrageous' predictions published each December.
Saxo predicts that in 2018, bitcoin will surge to $60,000 with a market capitalization exceeding $1 trillion. After that, Russia and China will join together to attack it.
''The rise of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies has been one of the most spectacular phenomena of financial markets in recent years. Bitcoin will continue to rise '' and rise high '' during most of 2018, but Russia and China will together engineer a crash,'' the Danish bank predicts.
After that, bitcoin will collapse to $1,000 by 2019, according to Saxo.
At the end of 2016, the bank made a correct prediction about the rise of bitcoin. It forecast that the price of cryptocurrency would triple from the $700 level seen last year.
However, Saxo failed to predict the magnitude of the bitcoin mania, which resulted in a 1,900 percent rally to the record high of $19,000.
China has already cracked down on bitcoin by banning initial coin offerings (ICOs). Chinese regulators also prohibited bitcoin exchanges in September after Beijing suspected cryptocurrency trading was used for moving money out of the country. China has lost 90 percent of all bitcoin trade. The cryptocurrency tumbled on the news, but has quickly recovered and has continued growing.
In Russia, bitcoin and other digital money are not regulated at all. The Russian government has been ordered by President Vladimir Putin to regulate cryptocurrencies by July next year.
The Russian Finance Ministry insists that creation of bitcoin and other digital money should be illegal, because their mining has similarities to financial pyramids, which are forbidden in Russia. However, buying cryptocurrencies would not be punishable by law, the ministry promised.
VIDEO - Talkspace | Online Therapy | Counseling Online | Marriage Counseling
Sat, 16 Dec 2017 03:07
She makes me think, in the best way possible, and is guiding me to more self-awareness and happiness. Talkspace has already been a life-changing experience for me. Lindsay | January 4, 2016 I love that I can write my issues as they come up, instead of waiting for an appointment and trying to remember what the issue was. Kyla | April 2, 2016 I owe the recent improvement in my personal relationships to my therapist. My therapist has been has been one of the most supportive individuals that I have ever met. Matt | November 28, 2016
Kansas Dem drops out of race after sexual harassment allegation | The Kansas City Star
Fri, 15 Dec 2017 22:02
Andrea Ramsey, a Democratic candidate for Congress, will drop out of the race after the Kansas City Star asked her about accusations in a 2005 lawsuit that she sexually harassed and retaliated against a male subordinate who said he had rejected her advances.
Multiple sources with knowledge of the case told The Star that the man reached a settlement with LabOne, the company where Ramsey was executive vice president of human resources. Court documents show that the man, Gary Funkhouser, and LabOne agreed to dismiss the case permanently after mediation in 2006.
Ramsey, a 56-year-old retired business executive from Leawood, was one of the Democratic candidates vying to challenge Republican Rep. Kevin Yoder in 2018 in Kansas' 3rd District.
She was running with the endorsement of Emily's List, a liberal women's group that has raised more than a half-million dollars to help female candidates who support abortion rights.
Ramsey will drop out on Friday, her campaign said.
''In its rush to claim the high ground in our roiling national conversation about harassment, the Democratic Party has implemented a zero tolerance standard,'' Ramsey said in a statement Friday. ''For me, that means a vindictive, terminated employee's false allegations are enough for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) to decide not to support our promising campaign. We are in a national moment where rough justice stands in place of careful analysis, nuance and due process.''
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which has not endorsed anyone in the race, said in a statement that members and candidates must all be held to the highest standard.
''If anyone is guilty of sexual harassment or sexual assault, that person should not hold public office,'' said committee spokeswoman Meredith Kelly.
Emily's List said in a statement on Friday that the group supported Ramsey's decision to drop out of the race and wished her well.
Ramsey was not a party to the lawsuit or the settlement, although she's referred to throughout the complaint as Andrea Thomas, her name before she married her husband in late 2006. She denied the allegations to the Star in two interviews over the last two weeks and said the lawsuit is surfacing now for political purposes.
Ramsey repeatedly said that she was not aware of any settlement in the case, but said that if she had been a party to the case she would have opposed settling.
''Had those allegations, those false allegations, been brought against me directly instead of the company I would have fought to exonerate my name. I never would've settled,'' Ramsey said in an interview on Thursday. ''And I would have sued the disgruntled, vindictive employee for defamation.''
Individual supervisors are not named as defendants in federal sexual harassment or discrimination lawsuits because they are not considered employers under Title VII, the law that protects employees from discrimination, harassment and retaliation for color, race, sex and national origin.
The lawsuit has been circulating in Kansas political circles as the first-time candidate runs for Congress amid a wave of sexual misconduct allegations that have rocked the political, entertainment and journalism industries.
The national Democratic Party is targeting Kansas' 3rd District as part of its push to reclaim control of the House. Yoder is one of 23 GOP representatives seeking re-election in districts where Democrat Hillary Clinton won more votes than Republican Donald Trump.
The allegations against Ramsey were outlined in a lawsuit filed by Funkhouser against LabOne and in a complaint to the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Reached by phone, Funkhouser would not discuss the case.
''All I can say is the matter has been resolved,'' he said.
In the EEOC complaint, which alleged sex discrimination and retaliation by LabOne, Funkhouser accused Ramsey of subjecting him to ''unwelcome and inappropriate sexual comments and innuendos'' beginning in September 2004, when he was a LabOne human resources manager.
In late March 2005, Ramsey made sexual advances toward him on a business trip, Funkhouser alleged in the complaint.
''After I told her I was not interested in having a sexual relationship with her, she stopped talking to me,'' he wrote. ''In the office she completely ignored me and avoided having any contact with me.''
Ramsey even moved him out of his office into a cubicle far from her office, Funkhouser wrote.
Before he rejected her advances, Ramsey ''repeatedly told me she heard great things from others about my performance,'' Funkhouser wrote. ''After I rejected her, she told me she now was hearing bad things about my performance and on June 13, 2005, terminated my employment.''
The EEOC closed its file on Funkhouser's charges of discrimination and retaliation in October 2005, noting that an investigation was unable to conclude whether any statutes had been violated. The document did not certify that LabOne was in compliance with employment law, however, and informed Funkhouser that he had a right to sue the company.
Funkhouser then sued LabOne in federal court.
LabOne denied the allegations and said Funkhouser's termination was ''non-discriminatory and non-retaliatory.''
Ramsey told The Star she made the decision to eliminate Funkhouser's job in conjunction with LabOne management.
''It became clear to me that he wasn't managing his subordinates adequately,'' she said. ''... He didn't have open lines of communication with his subordinates and furthermore there was this additional layer of management.''
She also said in a second interview that she has no memory of the business trip, noting that 12 years had passed.
The lawsuit was still pending in April 2006 when Ramsey retired from LabOne. At the time, LabOne was being acquired by Quest Diagnostics, a company Ramsey had worked for until 2004. She told the Star she had no interest in working for such a large company again, and she wanted to spend more time with her children, who were 8 and 10 at the time.
Later that month, Ramsey took a part-time job as senior counsel for Black & Veatch, an international engineering firm based in Overland Park.
In July 2006, LabOne and Funkhouser agreed to dismiss the case without the possibility of bringing it again.
Quest Diagnostics declined to comment on behalf of LabOne, saying its policy is not to comment on litigation.
Shirley Gaufin, who was head of HR at Black & Veatch from 2002 to 2011, described Ramsey as an exceptional colleague. ''All I heard was praise,'' said Gaufin, who has donated to Ramsey's campaign.
Ramsey left Black & Veatch in October 2012 after six years as the company's employment attorney.
She served as board chair at the nonprofit Turner House Children's Clinic in Wyandotte County from 2015 until she stepped down in May to launch her congressional campaign.
VIDEO - Kansas Dem drops out of race after sexual harassment allegation | The Kansas City Star
Fri, 15 Dec 2017 22:02
Andrea Ramsey, a Democratic candidate for Congress, will drop out of the race after the Kansas City Star asked her about accusations in a 2005 lawsuit that she sexually harassed and retaliated against a male subordinate who said he had rejected her advances.
Multiple sources with knowledge of the case told The Star that the man reached a settlement with LabOne, the company where Ramsey was executive vice president of human resources. Court documents show that the man, Gary Funkhouser, and LabOne agreed to dismiss the case permanently after mediation in 2006.
Ramsey, a 56-year-old retired business executive from Leawood, was one of the Democratic candidates vying to challenge Republican Rep. Kevin Yoder in 2018 in Kansas' 3rd District.
She was running with the endorsement of Emily's List, a liberal women's group that has raised more than a half-million dollars to help female candidates who support abortion rights.
Ramsey will drop out on Friday, her campaign said.
''In its rush to claim the high ground in our roiling national conversation about harassment, the Democratic Party has implemented a zero tolerance standard,'' Ramsey said in a statement Friday. ''For me, that means a vindictive, terminated employee's false allegations are enough for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) to decide not to support our promising campaign. We are in a national moment where rough justice stands in place of careful analysis, nuance and due process.''
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which has not endorsed anyone in the race, said in a statement that members and candidates must all be held to the highest standard.
''If anyone is guilty of sexual harassment or sexual assault, that person should not hold public office,'' said committee spokeswoman Meredith Kelly.
Emily's List said in a statement on Friday that the group supported Ramsey's decision to drop out of the race and wished her well.
Ramsey was not a party to the lawsuit or the settlement, although she's referred to throughout the complaint as Andrea Thomas, her name before she married her husband in late 2006. She denied the allegations to the Star in two interviews over the last two weeks and said the lawsuit is surfacing now for political purposes.
Ramsey repeatedly said that she was not aware of any settlement in the case, but said that if she had been a party to the case she would have opposed settling.
''Had those allegations, those false allegations, been brought against me directly instead of the company I would have fought to exonerate my name. I never would've settled,'' Ramsey said in an interview on Thursday. ''And I would have sued the disgruntled, vindictive employee for defamation.''
Individual supervisors are not named as defendants in federal sexual harassment or discrimination lawsuits because they are not considered employers under Title VII, the law that protects employees from discrimination, harassment and retaliation for color, race, sex and national origin.
The lawsuit has been circulating in Kansas political circles as the first-time candidate runs for Congress amid a wave of sexual misconduct allegations that have rocked the political, entertainment and journalism industries.
The national Democratic Party is targeting Kansas' 3rd District as part of its push to reclaim control of the House. Yoder is one of 23 GOP representatives seeking re-election in districts where Democrat Hillary Clinton won more votes than Republican Donald Trump.
The allegations against Ramsey were outlined in a lawsuit filed by Funkhouser against LabOne and in a complaint to the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Reached by phone, Funkhouser would not discuss the case.
''All I can say is the matter has been resolved,'' he said.
In the EEOC complaint, which alleged sex discrimination and retaliation by LabOne, Funkhouser accused Ramsey of subjecting him to ''unwelcome and inappropriate sexual comments and innuendos'' beginning in September 2004, when he was a LabOne human resources manager.
In late March 2005, Ramsey made sexual advances toward him on a business trip, Funkhouser alleged in the complaint.
''After I told her I was not interested in having a sexual relationship with her, she stopped talking to me,'' he wrote. ''In the office she completely ignored me and avoided having any contact with me.''
Ramsey even moved him out of his office into a cubicle far from her office, Funkhouser wrote.
Before he rejected her advances, Ramsey ''repeatedly told me she heard great things from others about my performance,'' Funkhouser wrote. ''After I rejected her, she told me she now was hearing bad things about my performance and on June 13, 2005, terminated my employment.''
The EEOC closed its file on Funkhouser's charges of discrimination and retaliation in October 2005, noting that an investigation was unable to conclude whether any statutes had been violated. The document did not certify that LabOne was in compliance with employment law, however, and informed Funkhouser that he had a right to sue the company.
Funkhouser then sued LabOne in federal court.
LabOne denied the allegations and said Funkhouser's termination was ''non-discriminatory and non-retaliatory.''
Ramsey told The Star she made the decision to eliminate Funkhouser's job in conjunction with LabOne management.
''It became clear to me that he wasn't managing his subordinates adequately,'' she said. ''... He didn't have open lines of communication with his subordinates and furthermore there was this additional layer of management.''
She also said in a second interview that she has no memory of the business trip, noting that 12 years had passed.
The lawsuit was still pending in April 2006 when Ramsey retired from LabOne. At the time, LabOne was being acquired by Quest Diagnostics, a company Ramsey had worked for until 2004. She told the Star she had no interest in working for such a large company again, and she wanted to spend more time with her children, who were 8 and 10 at the time.
Later that month, Ramsey took a part-time job as senior counsel for Black & Veatch, an international engineering firm based in Overland Park.
In July 2006, LabOne and Funkhouser agreed to dismiss the case without the possibility of bringing it again.
Quest Diagnostics declined to comment on behalf of LabOne, saying its policy is not to comment on litigation.
Shirley Gaufin, who was head of HR at Black & Veatch from 2002 to 2011, described Ramsey as an exceptional colleague. ''All I heard was praise,'' said Gaufin, who has donated to Ramsey's campaign.
Ramsey left Black & Veatch in October 2012 after six years as the company's employment attorney.
She served as board chair at the nonprofit Turner House Children's Clinic in Wyandotte County from 2015 until she stepped down in May to launch her congressional campaign.
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