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#MeToo
Sarsour Accused Of Enabling Sexual Assault | The Daily Caller
Mon, 18 Dec 2017 05:45
The inspiration behind the Women's March on DC, Linda Sarsour, has been accused of enabling the alleged sexual assault and harassment of a woman who worked for the feminist activist, according to the victim and two sources directly familiar with the matter.
Allegations of groping and unwanted touching were allegedly brought to Sarsour during her time as executive director of the Arab American Association. In response, Sarsour, a self-proclaimed champion of women, attacked the woman bringing the allegations, often threatening and body-shaming her, these sources alleged. The most serious allegations were dismissed, Asmi Fathelbab, the alleged victim told The Daily Caller, because the accused was a ''good Muslim'' who was ''always at the Mosque.''
''She oversaw an environment unsafe and abusive to women,'' said Fethelbab, a former employee at the Arab American Association. ''Women who put [Sarsour] on a pedestal for women's rights and empowerment deserve to know how she really treats us.''
Fathelbab is a 37-year-old New York native and was raised in a Muslim household. She was excited in 2009 to begin working at the Arab American Association of New York as a contractor. At the time, Sarsour was the executive director of the organization. Fathelbab worked for Sarsour for almost a year, according to employment documents reviewed and authenticated by TheDC.
Fathelbab claims the Arab American Association was an unsafe workplace where she was allegedly sexually assaulted, body-shamed and intimidated.
Oftentimes, Sarsour was directly involved, according to the ex-staffer's account.
Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Glamour
The problems began in early 2009 when a man named Majed Seif, who lived in the same building where the Arab American Association offices are located, allegedly began stalking Fathelbab.
''He would sneak up on me during times when no one was around, he would touch me, you could hear me scream at the top of my lungs,'' Asmi Fathelbab tells TheDC. ''He would pin me against the wall and rub his crotch on me.''
Asmi claims one of Majed's alleged favorite past times was sneaking up on her with a full erection.
WATCH '-- The Top 5 Media Personalities Canned For Sexual Misconduct:
''It was disgusting,'' she tells The Caller. ''I ran the youth program in the building and with that comes bending down and talking to small children. You have no idea what it was like to stand up and feel that behind you. I couldn't scream because I didn't want to scare the child in front of me. It left me shaking.''
The Daily Caller was provided with a link to Seif's Facebook page and confirmed his identity, location and employment.
Fathelbab says she went to leadership at the organization to report the sexual assault. She alleges she was dismissed by Sarsour outright. ''She called me a liar because 'Something like this didn't happen to women who looked like me,''' Asmi says. ''How dare I interrupt her TV news interview in the other room with my 'lies.'''
Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for The Foundation for Women
ANGELA WEISS/AFP/Getty Images
Asmi Fathelbab says Sarsour regularly body-shamed her and enabled Seif's sexual assault.
According to Fathelbab, Sarsour threatened legal and professional damage if she went public with the sexual assault claims.
''She told me he had the right to sue me for false claims,'' Asmi recalls, adding that the assaulter allegedly ''had the right to be anywhere in the building he wanted.''
Desperate after multiple dismissals by Sarsour, the distraught employee says she went to the president of the board of directors, Ahmed Jaber.
''Jaber told me my stalker was a 'God-fearing man' who was 'always at the Mosque,' so he wouldn't do something like that,'' Fathelbab claims. ''He wanted to make it loud and clear this guy was a good Muslim and I was a bad Muslim for ''complaining.''
A furious Sarsour allegedly raged against Fathelbab for continuing to report her sexual assault in the building. According to Fathelbab, her allegations would result in her getting written up for disciplinary action. She told TheDC she was once forced to talk to a detective from the community liaison division about the consequences of making false claims to the authorities.
ANGELA WEISS/AFP/Getty Images
After Fathelbab's contract was up, Sarsour allegedly threatened to keep her from working again in the city.
''She told me I'd never work in NYC ever again for as long as she lived,'' Asmi says. ''She's kept her word. She had me fired from other jobs when she found out where I worked. She has kept me from obtaining any sort of steady employment for almost a decade.''
Two people who knew Fathelbab during her time at the Arab American Association spoke with TheDC on condition of anonymity. Both collaborate her story, recalling that Asmi would return ''emotionally distressed and in a panic'' from work, often describing it as an ''unsafe'' work environment.
Another New York political operative, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, claims that Sarsour was ''militant against other women'' at the Association. This operative, who has worked for over 12 years with the Arab American Association, says they remember Asmi and witnessed her getting harassed in the building.
''They made it about her weight, saying she was not attractive enough to be harassed and then swept it under the rug,'' the source said. ''It was Linda Sarsour, Ahmad Jaber and Habib Joudeh who took care of it.'' Habib Joudeh is the vice president of the Arab American Association of New York.
The source even identified Fathelbab's alleged assaulter without prompting, ''Majed Seif, the man who lived in the building.''
The operative, who is a practicing Muslim in the community, says a toxic culture at the Arab American Association led to the environment of harassment.
''It's always going to be the woman's fault over there,'' she alleges. ''And Sarsour was there to protect the men. She's not for other women. The only women she's for is for herself.''
Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for The Foundation for Women
Another New York political insider, who has worked professionally with the Arab American Association for over a decade, says this is not the first time they have heard a complaint like this.
''Sarsour is only a feminist outwardly,'' the insider said on the condition of anonymity, due to the source's current political position. ''Her interactions toward women in that building were atrocious. She would protect the patriarchy and in return they would promote her.''
Fathelbab career has never recovered, however, after her nightmare at the the Arab American Association.
''Just wait until more people start to talk,'' she says. ''Sarsour is no champion of women. She is an abuser of them.''
TheDC has reached out to both Sarsour, the Women's March Organization, Majed Seifand the Arab American Association for comment multiple times over the last 48 hours. Our requests for comment have been met with silence. We will update the post with any new information as it comes.
Here is an annotated account of the sexual assault, provided to The Daily Caller by Asmi Fathelbab:
Linda Sarsour supervised my sexual assault
I cannot stand by any longer and watch everyone praise a woman that claims to be for women's rights and someone that fights for women when she herself allowed for abuse to occur to women.
The # METOO movement angered me because it gave me flashbacks to things that occurred while working for a non-profit in 2009.
In 2009, I was contracted under AmeriCorps to work for the nonprofit The Arab American Association of New York, in Brooklyn where Linda Sarsour was the acting director of the organization. The following occurred to me during that 12 month nightmare called a job.
I was stalked to and from work and inside the building. I complained to a supervisor that there was a strange man stalking me and was informed that he did not actually work there but lived upstairs above the office.
He would sneak up on me during times when no one was around and, depending on what floor I was on, you could hear me scream at the top of my lungs.
I would be thrown and pinned up against the wall by him.
He had a tendency of sneaking up behind me to touch me.
While this would go on, the acting director, Linda Sarsour, would tell me each time that I was over reacting, even threatened to fire me once when she heard me screaming from the second floor because this man came out of nowhere and touched me. According to Sarsour, something like that did not happen to someone that looked like ''me'' and no one would ever believe me if I ever told them what happened. How dare I interrupt her TV news interview in the other room with my lies.
I went to the president of the organization and was told my stalker was a God-fearing man who was always at the Mosque so he wouldn't do something like that and that I wasn't his type anyway, so I was just making things up because I wanted attention.
I was told this was a man that worked at the United Nations and it was made loud and clear that whatever I was saying to defame his name could be used against me when he wanted to sue me.
The stalking was worse. I was under an AmeriCorps contract and they had sent me a message asking how I liked my job and to rate how safe it was etc. I told them the truth. I told them I did not feel safe. I told them I did not want to be there anymore. I told them to find anywhere else to place me.
I received a call from the supervisor from Detroit where she asked me to tell her in detail what was happening and told me she'd take care of it.
I thought I was saved and everything would be OK until I received a call from her the next day calling me a liar, threatening to cancel my contract and write me up. At the same time, Linda Sarsour was informing me that she would make sure I would never work in New York City ever again for as long as she lived.
On top of that, later that afternoon I had a visit from a community liaison Detective from the NYPD. He came to my office locked the door and proceed to tell me he was there to arrest me for making a false statement regarding being stalked, sexually harassed and sexually assaulted.
I had to talk him out from arresting me that night and explain that I was the victim.
I didn't know what to do.
I've had several jobs that I was let go of since then when she had discovered that I was working there.
I've had several people tell me that I was unemployable because of what I did at that job. All I wanted was to feel safe and not worry some stalker was going to pin himself up against me so I would be fully aware that he was erect.
I wanted to be able to go home without the worries of him waiting to grab me in front of my house to rape me.
I've had several political jobs where Sarsour told the candidates that if they wanted to win the Muslim vote, they had to fire me and hire her instead because I was the most hated person within the Muslim community in all of NYC.
I haven't been able to obtain a steady job since 2009 because AmeriCorps decided I shouldn't be able to stay within the program because of the horrible write up I had obtained from my supervisors.
This is not the only story pertaining to Sarsour about what she does to women. This is one of many. I cannot stand by and watch women put her on a pedestal and not know the truth. Here is the truth: If you were in front of Linda Sarsour being sexually harassed, she wouldn't help you, she'd try to shut you up for complaining.
I know because it happened to me.
Women's March co-founder Linda Sarsour accused of enabling sexual assault, harassment in workplace | Fox News
Tue, 19 Dec 2017 22:21
Activist Linda Sarsour outside Trump Tower last June. (REUTERS/Lucas Jackson, File)
Linda Sarsour, the Pro-Palestinian activist who helped spearhead the Women's March in Washington earlier this year, allegedly enabled the sexual assault and harassment of a woman who worked for her, according to a report Sunday night.
Allegations of groping and unwanted touching were brought to the attention of Sarsour during her time as executive director of the Arab American Association, The Daily Caller reported.
Asmi Fathelbab told the website Sarsour attacked her for bringing the allegations, often threatening and body-shaming her, because the accused was a ''good Muslim'' who was ''always at the mosque,'' The Daily Caller reported.
''She oversaw an environment unsafe and abusive to women,'' Fathelbab, a former employee at the Arab American Association, told The Daily Caller. ''Women who put [Sarsour] on a pedestal for women's rights and empowerment deserve to know how she really treats us.''
Reps for Sarsour did not immediately respond to Fox News' request for comment.
Fathelbab told The Daily Caller that Sarsour threatened legal and professional damage if she went public with the sexual assault claims.
''She told me he had the right to sue me for false claims,'' Fathelbab said, adding that the assaulter allegedly ''had the right to be anywhere in the building he wanted.''
Fathelbab claimed her attacker would sneak up behind her during work and rub his crotch on her.
''It was disgusting,'' Fathelbab told The Daily Caller. ''I ran the youth program in the building and with that comes bending down and talking to small children. You have no idea what it was like to stand up and feel that behind you. I couldn't scream because I didn't want to scare the child in front of me. It left me shaking.''
Fathelbab said her allegations would result in her get written up for disciplinary action. She told The Daily Caller she was once forced to talk to a detective from the community liaison division about the consequences of making false claims to the authorities.
After her contract was finished at the Arab American Association, Fathelbab said she had trouble getting new jobs.
''She told me I'd never work in NYC ever again for as long as she lived,'' Fathelbab said. ''She's kept her word. She had me fired from other jobs when she found out where I worked. She has kept me from obtaining any sort of steady employment for almost a decade.''
Sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity to The Daily Caller corroborated Fathelbab's story.
''They made it about her weight, saying she was not attractive enough to be harassed and then swept it under the rug,'' one source said.
Betsy DeVos Reverses Obama-era Policy on Campus Sexual Assault Investigations - NYTimes.com
Wed, 20 Dec 2017 08:38
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Friday scrapped a key part of government policy on campus sexual assault, saying she was giving colleges more freedom to balance the rights of accused students with the need to crack down on serious misconduct.
The move, which involved rescinding two sets of guidelines several years old, was part of one of the fiercest battles in higher education today, over whether the Obama administration, in trying to get colleges to take sexual assault more seriously, had gone too far and created a system that treated the accused unfairly.
The most controversial portion of the Obama-era guidelines had demanded colleges use the lowest standard of proof, ''preponderance of the evidence,'' in deciding whether a student is responsible for sexual assault, a verdict that can lead to discipline and even expulsion. On Friday, the Education Department said colleges were free to abandon that standard and raise it to a higher standard known as ''clear and convincing evidence.''
In announcing the change, the latest in a widespread rollback of Obama-era rules by the Trump administration, the department issued a statement saying that the old rules ''lacked basic elements of fairness.''
The move had been long sought by advocates for accused students, most of whom are men, who had complained that campus judicial processes had become heavily biased in favor of female accusers.
''The campus justice system was and is broken,'' said Robert Shibley, the executive director of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. ''With the end of this destructive policy, we finally have the opportunity to get it right.''
Ms. DeVos plans to enact new rules after a public comment period that department officials said could take at least several months, and in the meantime, colleges may choose to maintain the lower standard of proof. She did not provide any hints about whether the final rules would force schools to adopt the higher standard.
Some states followed the lead of the Obama administration and passed laws requiring colleges to use the lower standard. But the move on Friday suggests Ms. DeVos wants colleges to consider making the change if they are legally able, raising the possibility that different colleges will begin to evaluate sexual assault complaints in different ways.
Janet Napolitano, the president of the University of California system and a Homeland Security secretary in the Obama administration, said in a statement that the department's announcement would ''in effect weaken sexual violence protections, prompt confusion among campuses about how best to respond to reports of sexual violence and sexual harassment, and unravel the progress that so many schools have made.'' (California is one of the states now requiring the lower standard.)
And Fatima Goss Graves, president of the National Women's Law Center, an advocacy group for women's rights, said Ms. DeVos's announcement would have a ''devastating'' impact on students and schools.
''It will discourage students from reporting assaults, create uncertainty for schools on how to follow the law and make campuses less safe,'' she said in a statement.
Since many cases come down to one student's word against another's, and do not rise to the level of a police investigation, the evidentiary standard has become the main battleground in the nationwide fight over sexual behavior on campus.
The ''preponderance'' rule means colleges must find a student responsible if it is more likely than not that the student conducted a sexual act without the partner's consent. A ''clear and convincing'' case means it is highly probable the misconduct occurred.
Even some liberal legal figures took issue with the Obama administration's approach, arguing that no student should be punished unless the school was more certain that a line had been crossed.
Dozens of disciplined students have sued their colleges, some of them successfully, claiming that their rights had been violated.
''The vast majority of campus sexual assault cases involve a lot of alcohol and no witnesses, so you essentially have two people who were probably drinking trying to recall events that may have happened weeks, months, or even years before,'' said Justin Dillon, a lawyer in Washington who has represented dozens of college men accused of sexual misconduct.
One of his clients sued the Education Department last year, saying he had been found responsible for sexual assault only because the University of Virginia, where he was a law student at the time, had switched to the lower standard. According to his lawsuit, the accuser said that she had been unable to consent to sex because of alcohol consumption, while he claimed the accuser did not even appear to be intoxicated, let alone incapacitated.
There are likely to be other immediate effects of Ms. DeVos's moves.
She eliminated a requirement that investigations be completed in 60 days, now suggesting that the time frame be ''reasonably prompt.'' The department will also allow mediation '-- sessions in which an accuser and accused hash out their differences '-- if both sides agree. Mediation was not permitted under the Obama administration guidelines, on the belief that women would feel pressure to participate.
Christina Hoff Sommers, a scholar with the conservative American Enterprise Institute who has written about sexual assault, applauded the administration's decision to permit mediations, saying that some victims were not necessarily seeking a full-blown investigation and a trial. ''I think it's misguided to depict the average undergraduate in terms of oppressor and oppressed,'' she said.
But Cari Simon, a Washington lawyer who represents sexual assault victims, said that colleges could use mediation to avoid addressing serious accusations. ''Mediation allows schools to sweep sexual violence under the rug, treating it as a misunderstanding between students,'' she said.
The Obama administration investigated hundreds of colleges based on student complaints that they had failed to adequately enforce sexual assault regulations. The Education Department had forced a number of colleges to change their procedures by threatening loss of federal funding.
Department officials, in a conference call with reporters on Friday, indicated that they might discontinue some of the 350 or so active investigations if those cases hinged on rules that have now been rescinded.
Those rules '-- delivered in a 2011 ''Dear Colleague'' letter sent to colleges by the Obama Administration that laid out how sexual assault complaints were to be handled, as well a 2014 follow-up '-- came in response to accounts of colleges failing to take complaints seriously, letting untrained employees botch investigations and meting out little discipline.
Since then, colleges have spent millions of dollars to hire and train investigators and counselors and to establish sexual assault prevention training for students. Those are likely to remain in place, and in a statement, Ms. DeVos said she expected colleges to not let their guard down. ''Schools must continue to confront these horrific crimes and behaviors head-on,'' she said. ''But the process must also be fair and impartial, giving everyone more confidence in its outcomes.''
Ms. DeVos had signaled her desire to revisit the rules by holding private meetings in July with students who said they had been unfairly punished, as well as others who said their accusations had been mishandled. This month, in a speech at George Mason University's law school, she sharply criticized the Obama administration's approach. ''Through intimidation and coercion, the failed system has clearly pushed schools to overreach,'' she said.
Natalie Weill, a recent graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, was among those on Friday expressing dismay about Ms. DeVos's move. She said that she had used the 2011 guidelines to convince the college that the student who attacked her should be expelled.
Without them, ''I would have been forced to drop out of school or risk the danger of encountering the offender,'' she said. ''DeVos's decision is a disaster for students, and there will be an outcry from engaged and enraged students on this attack on our civil rights.''
In a statement, a spokeswoman for the university, Meredith McGlone, said a Wisconsin student who commits sexual assault today would be no less likely to be expelled because of the changes. ''Our policies and procedures are not changing,'' she said.
But Patricia Hamill, a lawyer in Philadelphia, said that she was pleased with several aspects of the new guidance. She cited in particular the department's statements that it is a school's responsibility, not a student's, to gather evidence, and that the accused student must be informed in writing of the allegations before being asked to respond. Ms. Hamill said schools often did not give the accused much detail about the charges they were facing.
On Friday, the department cited a decision last year in a lawsuit Ms. Hamill brought against Brandeis University. Her client, a student, had been found responsible for sexual misconduct against his ex-boyfriend during their 21-month relationship.
In a decision allowing the case to proceed, Judge F. Dennis Saylor of the United States District Court in Boston noted that the school had used the ''preponderance'' standard for sex cases but ''clear and convincing'' for almost all other types of alleged misconduct.
Judge Saylor wrote that the ''lower standard may thus be seen, in context, as part of an effort to tilt the playing field against accused students.''
Correction: September 27, 2017
Because of an editing error, an article on Saturday about changes in the government's policies on campus sexual assault referred imprecisely to the background of an advocacy organization. While the organization, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, has received support from conservative donors, it describes itself as a nonpartisan organization that works on behalf of individuals holding a range of political viewpoints. The article also referred incorrectly to the participants in an investigation at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. While the victim had assistance from an academic adviser, she did not have a lawyer.
Paranoia grips Capitol Hill as harassment scandal spreads - POLITICO
Tue, 19 Dec 2017 00:08
The details change almost daily, but the rumor won't die: A credible news organization is preparing to unmask at least 20 lawmakers in both parties for sexual misconduct.
Speculation about this theoretical megastory is spreading like wildfire across Congress and beyond, a lurking bad-press boogeyman that's always described as on the verge of going public. And it's far from the only worry that's seeped into the collective psyche of Capitol Hill, where members and aides are now perpetually bracing for the next allegation to drop.
Story Continued Below
Washington is also gripped by uncertainty over whether the nationwide awakening to workplace misconduct might be manipulated into a political weapon. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) went to law enforcement after being targeted last week by a forged harassment complaint against him, and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) last month parried a false accusation of misconduct posted on Twitter.
Lawmakers and aides are consumed by one simple question: Who's next? That and, in this turbocharged news cycle of the Trump presidency, can actual misdeeds be distinguished from false smears?
''You want to have a welcome environment to report abuse '-- you don't want to deter victims,'' Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said in an interview. ''But you've got to have enough due process and scrutiny to make sure it's accurate.''
''I think this environment is pretty crazy right now,'' Graham added, and "what happened to Sen. Schumer is a concern to a lot of us.''
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Just this month, five members of Congress have been forced to resign or retire after being accused of sexual misconduct: Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) and Reps. John Conyers (D-Mich.), Ruben Kihuen (D-Nev.), Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) and Blake Farenthold (R-Texas).
Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) also called it quits after graphic text messages sent by him were posted online.
The raft of accusations and departures is prompting uncomfortable conversations all over the Capitol.
Aides in one Democrat's office were summoned recently to a meeting organized by a fellow staffer and asked whether they'd ever heard of an accusation against their boss, according to a source in the room. Other press secretaries have asked their bosses about any personal skeletons, wanting to unearth possible sexual land mines before they detonate in the media.
The pervasive apprehension that's taken hold risks adversely affecting some women's careers. One Republican aide told POLITICO that she is advising members not to be alone with any women '-- whether they're female staffers or female reporters.
''Members who have high-profile elections coming up or just are really out front on a particular issue are now feeling like they may be targets,'' said Kristin Nicholson, a veteran Democratic chief of staff who last month organized a letter signed by more than 1,500 former aides urging an overhaul of Congress' harassment policies.
''The idea that something like that [Schumer forgery] could potentially get through and cause some harm before it's discounted is causing some fear,'' Nicholson said.
Beyond the hoaxes targeting Schumer and Blumenthal, apparently legitimate misconduct claims have become tinged with suspicion about possible political motivations. A Twitter account linked to GOP political consultant Roger Stone, a frequent confidant of President Donald Trump, raised eyebrows last month by forecasting the first harassment allegation against Sen. Al Franken before it emerged.
Stone later denied any advance knowledge of the first in a series of stories that ultimately pushed Franken to resign. Two of the accusations came from self-described Democrats. Still, that hasn't stopped some supporters of the popular Minnesota Democrat from continuing to whisper about a broader conservative campaign to topple Franken.
The false sexual misconduct allegation that hit Blumenthal gained momentum on Twitter among some conservatives before The Daily Beast debunked it. Asked last week about the incident, Blumenthal said: "What most concerns me about that hoax and others like it is that it degrades the courageous and brave women and men who come forward to complain of sexual harassment and assault."
The attempted smearing of Schumer took the form of a forged court complaint shopped around to reporters working on sexual harassment stories. The false complaint was flagged on social media by pro-Trump figures before the New York Democrat's asked the Capitol Police to investigate.
Media outlets that received a copy of the forged Schumer complaint reported only on the attempted hoax, just as The Washington Post exposed a woman who leveled false sexual accusations against Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore last month at the behest of a conservative organization known as Project Veritas.
But lawmakers and aides have no guarantee, beyond media organizations' diligence, that false allegations won't slip through.
"Sadly, it looks like this may be something we have to look at" in preparing candidates for next year's elections, said Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), the head of Senate Democrats' campaign committee for next year's midterms. Van Hollen underscored, however, "We obviously need to hold people accountable where there are legitimate claims."
What no one on Capitol Hill knows for sure is where legitimacy begins and ends. Part of the reason that the rumor about 20 or more lawmakers being unmasked as sexual harassers has proved so durable is that, after the recent wave of resignations, it feels both shocking and believable.
The speculation about a harassment story started more than a month ago, even before Conyers became the first lawmaker connected to harassment allegations. Sometimes POLITICO is named as the media outlet behind the story, but CNN and The New York Times are occasionally called the central players in the speculation.
By last week, The Washington Post was the organization, and the number of members had grown more grandiose.
''I am hearing The Post has a list of 40-50, evenly split between the parties, that have had sexual harassment charges,'' one lobbyist texted POLITICO.
Since the speculation began, members and aides from both parties in recent weeks have buttonholed reporters to try to gauge what they're working on regarding sexual harassment '-- and, perhaps, to put their own minds at ease that no one is dogging them. In the past week alone, at least four lawmakers have asked POLITICO whether the bombshell story is real.
The atmosphere in Congress has reached the point that one Republican leadership staffer told POLITICO she worries that members might think the worst if they're called into Speaker Paul Ryan's office.
''It's this way not just in Congress, but in all kinds of industries: men thinking back on the kind of behaviors they didn't think about at the time but might be construed as harassment or inappropriate," said Nicholson, the veteran Democrat who now serves as director of the Government Affairs Institute at Georgetown University.
"It's hitting everyone, even people who are not bad actors, because you just have no idea."
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John Skipper resigns as ESPN president
Tue, 19 Dec 2017 02:15
John Skipper resigned as president of ESPN and co-chairman of the Disney Media Networks on Monday.
George Bodenheimer, ESPN's president from 1998 to 2011 and its executive chairman until May 2014, will take over as the acting chairman of the company for the next 90 days to help Disney chairman and chief executive officer Bob Iger find Skipper's replacement.
Joe Faraoni/ESPN Images"Today I have resigned from my duties as President of ESPN," Skipper said in a statement. "I have had a wonderful career at the Walt Disney Company and am grateful for the many opportunities and friendships. I owe a debt to many, but most profoundly Michael Lynton, George Bodenheimer and Bob Iger.
"I have struggled for many years with a substance addiction. I have decided that the most important thing I can do right now is to take care of my problem.
"I have disclosed that decision to the company, and we mutually agreed that it was appropriate that I resign. I will always appreciate the human understanding and warmth that Bob displayed here and always.
"I come to this public disclosure with embarrassment, trepidation and a feeling of having let others I care about down.
"As I deal with this issue and what it means to me and my family, I ask for appropriate privacy and a little understanding.
"To my colleagues at ESPN, it has been a privilege. I take great pride in your accomplishments and have complete confidence in your collective ability to continue ESPN's success."
Skipper, 61, joined ESPN in 1997 as senior vice president and general manager of ESPN The Magazine. He was named to his current job on Jan. 1, 2012.
"I join John Skipper's many friends and colleagues across the company in wishing him well during this challenging time," Iger said in a statement. "I respect his candor and support his decision to focus on his health and his family. With his departure, George Bodenheimer has agreed to serve as Acting Chair of ESPN for the next 90 days to provide interim leadership, help me identify and secure John's successor, and ensure a smooth transition. I am grateful for George's support and look forward to working with him again in this temporary role."
Bodenheimer, 59, was named president of ESPN on Nov. 19, 1998, and continued in the role through the end of 2011. He was then the company's executive chairman after Skipper took over as president of the company.
Bodenheimer issued a statement, saying: "I have great respect for John's leadership, and I applaud the courage he's demonstrating by addressing his challenge head on. The most important thing right now for John and his family is that he conquers his addiction, and the entire ESPN family is behind him.
"I've stayed in close contact with John, and I believe in the direction he's taking ESPN. He's assembled an outstanding leadership team -- many of whom I know very well -- and I am extremely confident we will work together effectively to move ESPN forward during this transition."
ESPN Chief John Skipper's Sudden Exit Comes at Crucial Juncture for Disney - WSJ
Tue, 19 Dec 2017 02:13
ESPN on Monday announced the surprise resignation of network President John Skipper over substance-abuse issues, creating uncertainty at a critical moment for the sports TV juggernaut and its majority-owner, Walt Disney Co.
George Bodenheimer, Mr. Skipper's predecessor as head of ESPN, will return to the company as acting chairman for three months while a search for a permanent successor is competed.
''I...
Former Christian school teacher, 29, arrested days after being caught in bed with teen boy by husband: cops | Fox News
Tue, 19 Dec 2017 11:09
Andrea Nicole Baber was booked Friday on charges including sodomy, rape and contributing to the sexual delinquency of a minor, authorities said. (Douglas County Sheriff's Office)
A former Oregon Christian school teacher was arrested after being accused of having an affair with a 15-year-old student that lasted for more than a year, authorities said Monday.
Andrea Nicole Baber, 29, was arrested at her home in Cottage Grove on Friday, the Register-Guard reported. The arrest came days after Baber's husband allegedly walked in on her and the teen in bed, according to the News-Review.
The student's father reported the relationship to police Dec. 12 after he and his wife received an anonymous email asking if they knew the boy and the Logos Christian Academy teacher were in a sexual relationship, authorities said.
The message was attached with photos of the teacher and the boy, according to the Register-Guard, citing an affidavit filed in Douglas County Circuit Court.
The teen told deputies that he and Baber had been in a relationship since 2017, when the boy was 15, according to the newspaper. Deputies said the teen provided him with alcohol and weed.
Baber was booked Friday at a Douglas County Jail on several charges, including sodomy, rape and contributing to the delinquency of a minor, according to the New York Post.
The sheriff's office said Baber no longer works at Logos Christian Academy. Her profile was still featured Monday, but was taken down as of Tuesday.
''Andrea has always felt called to work with youth and is very excited that God opened the door for her to be part of the Logos team,'' her biography said, according to the Post. ''She lives with her husband, dog and cat just south of Eugene.''
T.J. Miller Denies Sexual Assault Allegations '' Variety
Tue, 19 Dec 2017 22:06
BBC Orders 'Definitive' Documentary on Harvey Weinstein From Oscar-Winning ProducerAccording to the Daily Beast, the alleged assault occurred when they were all students at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and members of a comedy troupe called ReceSs. Miller was dating Gorney at the time, but when she went abroad, he began a relationship with the accuser that turned violent, says the report. The victim didn't go to the police, but did report the incident to the university's student court, which ''resolved'' the issue, according to the Daily Beast.
The Millers, who are now married, contend that these accusations are retribution for asking her to leave the comedy troupe.
Read the Millers' full statement below:
''We met this woman over a decade ago while studying together in college, she attempted to break us up back then by plotting for over a year before making contradictory claims and accusations. She attempted to discredit both of our voices and use us against one another by trying to portray Kate to be a continuous abuse victim of T.J. (further efforts to hurt the two of us). She was asked to leave our university comedy group because of worrisome and disturbing behavior, which angered her immensely, she then became fixated on our relationship, and began telling people around campus 'I'm going to destroy them' & 'I'm going to ruin him.'
''We are confident that a full consideration of accounts from and since that time will shed light and clarity on the true nature of not only this person's character, and also on the real facts of the matter. (See the e-mails referenced).
''We stand together in stating this is nothing more than an unfortunate resurgence of her lies designed to wreak havoc on two happily married people in the public eye.
''She began again to circulate rumors online once our relationship became public.
''Sadly she is now using the current climate to bandwagon and launch these false accusations again. It is unfortunate that she is choosing this route as it undermines the important movement to make women feel safe coming forward about legitimate claims against real known predators.
''We stand together and will not allow this person to take advantage of a serious movement toward gender equality by allowing her to use this moment to muddy the water with an unrelated personal agenda.
''We feel we all have an obligation now more than ever to prevent people from using reporters to spin lies into headlines, and focus instead on what is real.
''We both champion and continue to stand up for people everywhere who have truly suffered injustice seeking to have justice brought into their lives.''
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'Willing to Do Everything,' Mothers Defend Sons Accused of Sexual Assault - The New York Times
Wed, 20 Dec 2017 08:37
Sherry Warner Seefeld, right, meeting last month in a restaurant in Eagan, Minn., with other mothers of students who had been accused of campus sexual assault. Credit Tim Gruber for The New York Times Four women met late last month at a restaurant in a Twin Cities suburb, where they spoke for hours, so intently their waiter had trouble getting their drink orders.
Each had a son who had been accused at college of sexual assault. One was expelled and another suspended. The other two were cleared, yet one had contemplated suicide and the other was so crushed he had not returned to school.
The women had been meeting regularly to share notes and commiserate. Now, over red wine in a corner booth, they were finally savoring a victory.
A few days before, Betsy DeVos, the education secretary, had rescinded tough Obama-era guidelines on campus sexual assault, saying they violated principles of fairness, particularly for accused students like their own sons.
''What she is doing with this issue is spot on,'' one of the women, Sherry Warner Seefeld, said.
Few issues in education today are as intensely debated as the way colleges deal with sexual misconduct. Women's groups and victims' advocates have deplored Ms. DeVos's moves, saying they will allow colleges to wash their hands of the problem. But a growing corps of legal experts and defense lawyers have argued that the Obama rules created a culture in which accused students, most of them men, were presumed guilty.
And some of the most potent advocates for those men have been a group of women: their own mothers.
Some of the mothers met with Ms. DeVos in July to tell their stories, and Ms. DeVos alluded to them in a speech she gave last month. An advocacy group founded in 2013 by several mothers, Families Advocating for Campus Equality, or FACE, has grown to hundreds of families, who have exchanged tens of thousands of messages through their email list, said Cynthia Garrett, co-president of the group.
The mothers lobby Congress, testify on proposed legislation and policy, and track lawsuits filed by men who say they have been wrongly accused. A bill in the California Legislature that they testified against, which would have enshrined the Obama-era regulations into state law, passed both houses but was vetoed this month by Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, who said it was ''time to pause'' on the issue.
The group holds twice-yearly meetings, where parents and sons share personal experiences and listen to advice from psychologists and lawyers.
Away from the public eye, families have spent tens of thousands of dollars and dipped into retirement savings to hire lawyers and therapists for their sons. Some have pressured colleges to reconsider punishment or expunge disciplinary notations from transcripts, so that other colleges and employers cannot see them.
Ms. Seefeld said she hired a lawyer and even a public relations firm, and used her political connections as a teachers' union leader, to try to get the University of North Dakota to reverse her son's three-year banishment after a woman accused him of nonconsensual sex.
''I was willing to do everything and anything,'' Ms. Seefeld said. Her son Caleb Warner was ultimately cleared after the college took a second look at the case.
The mothers' resolve comes from their raw maternal instinct to protect their children. But several who agreed to interviews also said they did not doubt that their sons' accusers had felt hurt.
Their sons may not have been falsely accused, the mothers said, but they had been wrongly accused. They made a distinction.
One mother, Judith, said her son had been expelled after having sex with a student who said she had been too intoxicated to give consent.
''In my generation, what these girls are going through was never considered assault,'' Judith said. ''It was considered, 'I was stupid and I got embarrassed.'''
Ms. DeVos issued temporary guidance for colleges last month and will invite public comment while developing permanent regulations. Most significantly so far, she has lifted the requirement that colleges use the lowest standard of proof, ''preponderance of the evidence,'' in deciding whether to uphold a charge of sexual misconduct. Colleges are now free to demand more convincing evidence, a move that the mothers and other advocates for the accused had called for, saying that students should not be punished in cases where there is some doubt about the accusation.
The most active mothers said they stepped forward because they often had more time than their husbands, and because they made a strategic decision that they could be effective on the issue of sexual assault precisely because they are women and, as some described themselves, feminists. ''We recognized that power,'' Ms. Seefeld said.
Many women, however, feel exactly the opposite way.
A number of women's groups and victims' advocates have argued that a tougher standard of proof will discourage women from coming forward. They have not been shy about expressing their view of the mothers as ''rape deniers'' and misogynists who blame women for inviting male violence against them.
Jessica Davidson, a victim of campus sexual assault and the managing director of End Rape on Campus, said it appeared that the mothers had a strong emotional impact on Ms. DeVos, who separately met with victims, including Ms. Davidson.
''It is of course an immensely difficult thing to believe somebody you love could rape or harm another person,'' Ms. Davidson said.
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who met with several mothers in July, spoke in September at George Mason University in Virginia about campus sexual assault regulations. Credit Mike Theiler/Reuters But, she said of the mothers, ''I think it's the wrong thing for them to do to try and push back an entire movement.''
Of a dozen mothers who were interviewed, almost all asked to be identified by their first names only. They said they wanted to protect their sons from being publicly revealed as having been disciplined, or even accused, in a sexual assault case. The mothers obsessively type their sons' names into Google, and are relieved when their cases do not come up.
Some of the mothers remember the moment they learned their sons had been accused as vividly as other people remember hearing that planes had struck the World Trade Center.
Alison was pushing her cart down the aisle at a supermarket, looking at Tide detergent, when she got the call from her younger son. He had left home for college for the first time about seven weeks before.
''I think I have a problem,'' her son said. ''It's bad.''
She felt a flash of irritation.
''How many times have I told you, you need to keep it zippered,'' she said she told him.
Then the gravity of the situation sank in. ''I need to hire a lawyer,'' she thought.
A female student had told the university police that she had been sexually assaulted at an apartment near campus.
As Alison tells it, the woman had propositioned her son and consented to sex. She learned more about her 19-year-old son's intimate behavior than any mother would want to know, and found herself talking about it ''as if it were the grocery list,'' she recalled.
Officials at the university declined to comment on the case, citing student confidentiality rules.
According to university documents provided by Alison, her son was cleared. Additionally, a grand jury declined to indict him, she said. But, Alison contends, the investigation should never even have gotten that far, and the damage was already done.
Her son had become a pariah, dropped by his friends and called a rapist by women on campus. The semester after he was cleared he called home, sobbing, to say he could no longer take it and was dropping out, she said.
Five years later, at 24, he has not received a diploma and is trying to ease back into college life by taking courses online.
Alison and her son were among the delegation that met with Ms. DeVos in July. ''It was very solemn,'' Alison said. ''It was as if we all, everyone in the room, had attended the same funeral together.''
Judith, whose son was expelled, said that at first her son did not tell her about the complaint against him, thinking he could handle it alone. She found out when he was taken to a hospital, suicidal.
She described herself as a lifelong Democrat and feminist who went to college in the 1970s at the height of the sexual revolution and women's liberation movements. Her husband and their two sons were ''super respectful'' of women, she said.
''We don't really need to teach our sons not to rape,'' she said.
Four years after being kicked out of school, she said, her son is leading a ''double life,'' unable to confide in colleagues at work, and avoiding college classmates and his hometown.
Gloria Davidson, whose daughter, Jessica, runs End Rape on Campus, said that as the mother of a 21-year-old son, she could empathize with the mothers of accused students '-- to a point.
''Any mother is watching out for the children, that's what mothers do,'' Ms. Davidson said. ''But I think all mothers should get the facts and open their eyes to what could have happened or not.''
Few mothers have been as public and assertive as Ms. Seefeld. In 2010 her son, Mr. Warner, learned he had been accused of sexual assault by a fellow student at the University of North Dakota. Mr. Warner contended that the sex was consensual, but he was suspended and banned from campus for three years.
His mother leveraged the connections she had developed over years as a high school psychology and sociology teacher in Fargo, and as a union leader. She contacted the State Board of Higher Education and visited state legislators.
Hearing that the university was about to start a fund-raising drive, and thus would not want bad publicity, Ms. Seefeld said, she emailed its president about 9 p.m. one night. She wrote that she had hired a lawyer to look into suing the university, and a public relations firm to help her publicize her son's case, she said. ''Within 30 minutes I heard from the president,'' she said, and he told her the case would be reviewed.
A spokesman for the university declined to comment. But university documents provided by Ms. Seefeld show that the school did review the verdict, and nullified it because of a new development: The police said that they had found inconsistencies in the accuser's account and that some witnesses had contradicted it. They issued a warrant for her arrest on a charge of filing a false police report. (The woman left the state and has not been arrested. She did not respond to telephone messages.)
Realizing she was not alone, Ms. Seefeld helped found FACE, the advocacy group for accused students. She said the group does not want to attack women. But if the mothers do not defend their sons, she said, who will?
''I just thought it was so wrong, and I thought how could anybody let this stand,'' she said of her son's punishment. ''And pretty much the most significant weapon I had was the weapon of public opinion, so that was the weapon I was wielding the hardest.''
Alain Delaqu(C)ri¨re contributed research.
A version of this article appears in print on , on Page A12 of the New York edition with the headline: Mothers 'Willing to Do Everything,' Their Sons Accused of Sex Assault . Order Reprints | Today's Paper | Subscribe
Thanks Obama!
'We feel like our system was hijacked': DEA agents say a huge opioid case ended in a whimper - The Washington Post
Mon, 18 Dec 2017 00:55
From left: David Schiller, retired assistant special agent in charge of DEA's Denver field division, and McKesson CEO John H. Hammergren. (Photos by Mark Abramson for The Washington Post and David Maxwell/Bloomberg/Illustration by The Washington Post)
After two years of painstaking investigation, David Schiller and the rest of the Drug Enforcement Administration team he supervised were ready to move on the biggest opioid distribution case in U.S. history.
The team, based out of the DEA's Denver field division, had been examining the operations of the nation's largest drug company, McKesson Corp. By 2014, investigators said they could show that the company had failed to report suspicious orders involving millions of highly addictive painkillers sent to drugstores from Sacramento, Calif., to Lakeland, Fla. Some of those went to corrupt pharmacies that supplied drug rings.
The investigators were ready to come down hard on the fifth-largest public corporation in America, according to a joint investigation by The Washington Post and ''60 Minutes.''
The DEA team '-- nine field divisions working with 12 U.S. attorney's offices across 11 states '-- wanted to revoke registrations to distribute controlled substances at some of McKesson's 30 drug warehouses. Schiller and members of his team wanted to fine the company more than $1 billion. More than anything else, they wanted to bring the first-ever criminal case against a drug distribution company, maybe even walk an executive in handcuffs out of McKesson's towering San Francisco headquarters to send a message to the rest of the industry.
David Schiller said his team was demoralized when the case against McKesson was downgraded. (Mark Abramson/For The Washington Post) ''This is the best case we've ever had against a major distributor in the history of the Drug Enforcement Administration,'' said Schiller, who recently retired as assistant special agent in charge of DEA's Denver field division after a 30-year career with the agency. ''I said, 'How do we not go after the number one organization?' ''
But it didn't work out that way.
Instead, top attorneys at the DEA and the Justice Department struck a deal earlier this year with the corporation and its powerful lawyers, an agreement that was far more lenient than the field division wanted, according to interviews and internal government documents. Although the agents and investigators said they had plenty of evidence and wanted criminal charges, they were unable to convince the U.S. attorney in Denver that they had enough to bring a case.
Discussions about charges never became part of the negotiations between the government lawyers in Washington and the company.
''It was insulting,'' Schiller said. ''Morale has been broken because of it.''
The result illustrates the long-standing conflict between drug investigators, who have taken an aggressive approach to a prescription opioid epidemic that killed nearly 200,000 people between 2000 and 2016, and the government attorneys who handle those cases at the DEA and the Justice Department.
None of McKesson's warehouses would lose their DEA registrations. The company, a second-time offender, had promised in 2008 to be more diligent about the diversion of its pills to the street. It ultimately agreed to temporarily suspend controlled substance shipments at four distribution centers and pay a $150 million fine.
''Within the ranks, we feel like our system was hijacked,'' said Helen Kaupang, a DEA investigator and supervisor for 29 years who worked on the McKesson case in Denver before retiring in September.
While the fine set a record for drug distributors, it is only about $50 million more than the compensation last year for McKesson board chairman and chief executive John H. Hammergren, the nation's third-highest-paid chief executive. McKesson has 76,000 employees and revenue of almost $200 billion a year, about the same as ExxonMobil.
The Justice Department declined repeated requests for comment.
''The McKesson settlement was a groundbreaking conclusion to a successful multi-district investigation into the role of a distributor's failure to detect and report suspicious orders, many of which were tied to independent and small chain pharmacy customers ordering opioid medications,'' the DEA said in a statement. ''More importantly, McKesson accepted responsibility and accepted terms beyond the requirements of the [Controlled Substances Act].''
A senior agency official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the fine was a significant penalty, the company agreed to an independent monitor, and the case prompted McKesson and other distributors to be more diligent about reporting suspicious orders.
''We could have fined them out of existence, or indicted the company and put them out of business,'' the official said. ''I'd rather have one of the largest drug distributors be the poster child for detection and reporting of suspicious orders.''
At the time of the settlement, McKesson said it had instituted ''significant changes'' to its program designed to flag suspicious orders of narcotics. ''We continue to significantly enhance the procedures and safeguards across our distribution network to help curtail prescription drug diversion while ensuring patient access to needed medications,'' Hammergren said in a statement.
The company also has said that addressing the opioid problem requires the cooperation of everyone involved '-- doctors, pharmacists, distributors and manufacturers.
In a recent interview, Geoffrey E. Hobart, McKesson's lead attorney, said that the prospect of criminal charges or a $1 billion fine against the company were never raised by government lawyers during nearly three years of negotiations.
''While I am not privy to any of the government team discussions that may have taken place behind closed doors in this particular settlement, I can tell you that the DEA investigators, the U.S. attorney's offices and others would have had plenty of opportunity to raise their views during the process,'' said Hobart, a former federal prosecutor who is now a partner at Covington, one of the most influential law firms in Washington. ''While individual DEA investigators and agents are entitled to their opinions, their agency may ultimately take a different view.''
McKesson ''had multiple chances to correct their behavior,'' retired DEA program manager Jim Geldhof said. (Mark Abramson/For The Washington Post) ''If the lawyers for the government believed there was criminal conduct here, they would have told me about it,'' Hobart added. ''That would have increased the leverage they had, and that never happened.''
DEA investigators, agents and supervisors who worked on the McKesson case said the company paid little or no attention to the unusually large and frequent orders placed by pharmacies, some of them knowingly supplying drug rings.
Instead, the DEA officials said, the company raised its own self-imposed limits, known as thresholds, on orders from pharmacies and continued to ship increasing amounts of drugs in the face of numerous red flags.
''They had multiple chances to correct their behavior going back to the Internet pharmacy days. They promised everyone they were going to correct their behavior, and a year or two later, they were doing it again,'' said Jim Geldhof, a DEA program manager who worked on the McKesson case in Detroit before retiring in 2015 after a 43-year career. He is now advising law firms suing opioid manufacturers and distributors, including McKesson.
The DEA agents and investigators contend that lawyers stationed at the chief counsel's office in the agency's Division of Diversion Control were ''intimidated'' and retreated from the battle with McKesson and its legal team, which included a former top DEA official from that division.
Schiller said DEA lawyers would repeatedly ask: ''Why would you go after a Fortune 50 company that's going to cause all these problems with Ivy League attorneys, when we can go after other [DEA registration holders] that are much lower, that are going to put up no fight?
''And I said, 'That's exactly why you want to go after McKesson. They're the prize. They're the ones that are going to send a message to the thousands of mom-and-pops, to other big distributors, to the manufacturers, that this is no longer acceptable.' ''
''Within the ranks, we feel like our system was hijacked,'' said Helen Kaupang, who worked on the McKesson case. (Mark Abramson/For The Washington Post)
'The pills kept coming'
In 2008, McKesson paid a $13.25 million fine for failing to report hundreds of suspicious hydrocodone orders from Internet pharmacies '-- even after being warned by the DEA three years earlier that it was shipping excessive amounts of the drug commonly called Vicodin. The online pharmacies took orders from customers who had obtained bogus prescriptions, resulting in criminal prosecutions.
''By failing to report suspicious orders for controlled substances that it received from rogue Internet pharmacies, the McKesson Corporation fueled the explosive prescription drug abuse problem we have in this country,'' then-DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart said in a statement announcing the settlement.
As part of its agreement with the Justice Department, McKesson pledged to temporarily suspend distribution of narcotics from two of its 30 distribution centers and to improve its system for monitoring and reporting suspicious drug orders.
McKesson caught the attention of the DEA again in 2012, when state and local law enforcement began to investigate Platte Valley Pharmacy in Brighton, Colo., a suburb 25 miles northeast of Denver on the banks of the Platte River. The population was 38,000.
Pharmacist Jeffrey Clawson was selling as many as 2,000 pain pills per day.
With state and local law enforcement, the DEA's Denver field division began a criminal investigation into Clawson, making undercover buys and monitoring the size of his drug purchases.
Most of the drugs came from McKesson's warehouse in Aurora, northeast of Denver, records show. Under federal law, McKesson is required to notify the DEA about any orders of unusual size, frequency or pattern and hold off on shipping the drugs until those issues are resolved.
But McKesson filled 1.6 million orders from the Aurora warehouse and reported only 16 as suspicious between June 2008 and May 2013. None of the 16 involved Platte Valley, and the company reported them only after the DEA began its investigation.
''We would have a pharmacy in a small town out in Colorado, 200 miles from Denver, that is getting the same number of pills or perhaps exceeding a pharmacy that is located next to a medical center in the city of Denver,'' said Kaupang, the DEA investigator who worked on the Colorado case. ''There was no legitimate reason for that pharmacy in that little town in remote Colorado to be getting hundreds of thousands of pills over a several-year period. None. There was no justifiable reason.
''And yet, the pills kept coming.''
Clawson ordered so much oxycodone that he repeatedly bumped up against thresholds McKesson had set for his pharmacy. The company raised those limits and sent him more, DEA agents and investigators said.
''The company would raise thresholds so pharmacies could order more pills without setting off suspicious monitoring alarms inside the company,'' Kaupang said. ''Did they think we wouldn't look at them again? I don't know. But they almost acted that way.''
Hobart, McKesson's lawyer, denied that the company raised thresholds to avoid scrutiny.
Schiller and his DEA colleagues in Denver believed they had enough information, at a minimum, to bring an administrative complaint against McKesson that could result in stiff fines and the revocation of the Aurora distribution center's registration to handle controlled substances.
In December 2012, the DEA asked attorneys at headquarters to issue an ''immediate suspension order'' against McKesson, an enforcement tool reserved for the most serious threats to public health and safety, Schiller and Kaupang said.
But the immediate suspension order was never approved. Schiller said lawyers at DEA headquarters told him he needed more evidence that the drugs from the warehouse were posing an immediate danger to public health and safety.
''They said, 'You don't have enough evidence to prove it's an immediate danger,' but they created the lack of immediacy because they delayed the case for nearly a year,'' Schiller said. ''They were just looking for an excuse not to issue the order.''
The senior DEA official contended that the Denver field division did not submit documents supporting the request for the immediate suspension order until February 2013. Agency lawyers in headquarters did not believe the company's threat to the public could be considered ''immediate'' because too much time had passed, the official said.
The investigators tried again in March 2014, this time seeking an ''order to show cause'' that would bring McKesson to a hearing, where the DEA could argue for the need to halt drug shipments from Aurora before an administrative law judge.
But DEA attorneys declined to approve that request, as well. Schiller said he was told that he still needed more evidence '-- even after he said the team submitted eight boxes of documents to the attorneys.
''It still wasn't enough,'' Schiller said.
The senior DEA official said that settlement negotiations with McKesson had begun and the show-cause order would have interfered with the talks.
At the same time the administrative case against McKesson was languishing, the criminal case against Clawson was moving ahead.
A Colorado grand jury had indicted him in 2013 along with 14 others on drug trafficking charges. The indictment noted that McKesson was the main supplier of Platte Valley Pharmacy and said that the company had an obligation to report suspicious orders of narcotics to the DEA.
''From 2008-2011, the percentage increase for oxycodone 30 mg orders supplied by McKesson to Platte Valley Pharmacy was approximately 1,469%,'' the grand jury wrote.
Clawson was convicted on drug trafficking charges and is serving a 15-year sentence. McKesson was not charged in the indictment.
When the Drug Enforcement Administration went after McKesson, a Fortune 5 company, it was the biggest case they had ever brought against a drug distributor. But according to former DEA special agent in charge agent David Schiller, things quickly went downhill behind-the-scenes. (60 Minutes)
'The gloves came off'
As Schiller's team was examining the Aurora warehouse, he took steps to broaden the investigation beyond Colorado to determine whether McKesson was ignoring the agreement it had reached with the Justice Department in 2008 to tighten its procedures. Schiller and the Denver DEA division took the lead as eight divisions in other parts of the country began to collect information on McKesson's activity.
In all, the DEA would pursue administrative cases involving 12 McKesson distribution centers. A DEA memo outlined the investigative findings:
'—''Supplied controlled substances in support of criminal diversion activities.''
'—''Ignored blatant diversion.''
'—''Pattern of raising thresholds arbitrarily.''
'—''Failed to review orders for suspicious activity.''
'—''Ignored own procedures designed to prevent diversion.''
In addition to Aurora, investigators found that McKesson warehouses in Livonia, Mich., and Washington Court House, Ohio, were supplying pharmacies that sold to criminal drug rings, according to internal government documents obtained by The Post and ''60 Minutes.''
As they were working on the administrative cases, Schiller and Joseph T. Rannazzisi, who led the DEA's diversion office during part of the McKesson case, said investigators also were compiling information in preparation for a potential criminal case against the corporation for knowingly supplying the corrupt pharmacies.
In the summer of 2015, ''on two occasions, I was briefed by my staff, and talked to the Denver field division, and they believed they had more than enough to go after the corporation criminally,'' said Rannazzisi, who now works as a consultant to lawyers suing drug companies.
John F. Walsh, then the U.S. attorney in Denver, said he had discussions with Schiller and others about possible criminal charges against McKesson.
''We were not presented with a case that had adequate evidence,'' said Walsh, now a partner at WilmerHale, a global law firm.
Schiller said that his team had amassed ''more than enough'' evidence and presented it to Walsh.
''I said, 'We have everything we could possibly want on a silver platter,' '' Schiller said. ''We had corrupt pharmacies that were being supplied by McKesson, and they were turning a blind eye to everything that was going on.''
In a recent response to The Post, a McKesson spokeswoman said, ''We categorically deny any criminal intent or the violation of any criminal law in our handling of opioids, and in our discussions with the government, they never suggested otherwise.''
In October 2014, Schiller requested a meeting at DEA headquarters in Arlington, Va. On one side of the table were DEA Chief Counsel Wendy Goggin and Clifford Lee Reeves II, the associate chief counsel. On the other side sat Schiller and his agents and investigators.
The meeting started off on a cordial note as they began to review the facts of the case.
''And then the gloves came off,'' Schiller said. ''It was one of the most stressful conversations I've ever had in my life.''
Reeves declined to comment, and the DEA declined to make Goggin available for an interview.
''They were attacking the things we did, how we did it,'' Schiller recalled. ''Not one time did they say, 'All right, here's what else we need. It's been a great case. We know about the previous settlement.' That never came up. It was, 'We are going to settle.' ''
Former DEA investigator and supervisor Helen Kaupang describes the sudden pressure on the Drug Enforcement Administration to become "friendlier" with the drug industry. (60 Minutes)
'I have a bad feeling'
With a settlement looming, representatives of the nine DEA division offices descended on the agency's headquarters a month later, in November 2014, to make sure that their attorneys knew they wanted take a hard line against McKesson.
''It is clear that [McKesson] does not appreciate the gravity or extent of their violations,'' the group wrote in an internal document obtained by The Post and ''60 Minutes.''
They demanded four-year ''surrenders'' of McKesson's DEA registrations to distribute controlled substances in Washington Court House, Livonia and Aurora, as well as two-year surrenders in Methuen, Mass., and Lakeland, Fla.
The company balked. McKesson's lawyer, Hobart, called the proposed surrenders a ''dealbreaker,'' according to an internal Justice Department memo.
McKesson insisted that its registrations be ''suspended'' rather than ''surrendered,'' the memo said. A surrender would cost the company accreditations it needed for state regulatory boards, and McKesson would have to reapply for DEA registrations when the penalties expired. That would trigger a new round of inspections of company operations.
A suspension would allow each warehouse to keep its registration.
McKesson wanted something else as part of a settlement: A provision that would allow the Livonia and Washington Court House distribution centers to continue to send drugs to facilities that serve the federal prison system, Veterans Affairs and the Indian Health Service. McKesson holds a $31 billion federal contract to supply VA centers and other sites.
But some DEA officials wanted to take a hard line with the company because it had already been sanctioned for its behavior in 2008, documents show.
''Notwithstanding, their bad acts continued and escalated to a level of egregiousness not seen before,'' Imelda L. Paredes, a DEA official working on the case, wrote in a memo on March 30, 2015. ''They were neither rehabilitated nor deterred by the 2008 [agreement].''
She also noted that McKesson received an exception for VA in 2008. She said that allowing McKesson to continue to distribute narcotics was ''inconsistent with the public interest.''
''How then, can the Government say it is inconsistent with the public interest for McKesson to distribute to the general public; however, they are 'good enough' to serve veterans?''
McKesson and government officials argued that punishing the company would disrupt the flow of drugs and hurt veterans. But Paredes and other DEA officials said there would be no disruption if the contract was turned over to one of McKesson's competitors, Cardinal Health or AmerisourceBergen.
''Find other distributors,'' Paredes wrote.
The next day, Schiller wrote to Paredes, saying he had heard that the DEA and the Justice Department were on the verge of settling instead of taking the company to court.
''I have a bad feeling about this,'' he wrote to her on March 31, 2015.
Paredes replied that she was being overruled by lawyers in the DEA's legal office.
''I'm totally against settling, but how do we hold their feet to the fire if counsel refuses to litigate?'' Paredes wrote. ''Our attorneys have us over a barrel with their refusal to go to court.''
Paredes, who has left the DEA, declined to comment.
Schiller's fears were justified. The same day that Schiller wrote to Paredes, Arthur G. Wyatt, chief of the Justice Department's Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section, recommended in an internal document that McKesson's registrations should be suspended but not surrendered. It was a big win for the company. Wyatt said that the assistant U.S. attorneys working on the case believed that suspensions were ''satisfactory'' in light of the ''overall scope of the settlement.''
In September 2015, McKesson and the government reached a tentative settlement. McKesson's registrations would be suspended in Aurora for three years, in Washington Courthouse for two and in Livonia for two. The company would be barred from distributing for one year one type of narcotic, hydromorphone, from its Lakeland, Fla., warehouse.
There would be no criminal charges. No administrative case. No $1 billion fine.
The case took more than a year to come to a conclusion. In January, the Justice Department announced that it had finalized a deal with McKesson that included the $150 million fine and the four warehouse suspensions. The company also agreed to increase staffing and retain an independent monitor to assess its compliance.
Schiller said he and his team were left demoralized.
''It's on the front lines of everybody's dinner table conversation, kids, adults,'' he said. ''McKesson was at the forefront. But DEA wasn't going to go after them? We were going to settle. How do you settle? How do you say it's okay, just 'Here, write this check this time and '-- and close this place for a little bit, sign this piece of paper.' ''
In Washington, the House Energy and Commerce Committee has begun an investigation into how drug distributors, including McKesson, sent 780 million pills over six years into West Virginia '-- 433 doses for every man, woman and child in the state. Sen. Claire D. McCaskill (D-Mo.) has also launched an investigation into the role of drug distributors and manufacturers in the opioid epidemic.
Across the country, 41 state attorneys general have banded together to sue the opioid industry.
''One of the things we have to do is begin to hold the pharmaceutical companies accountable,'' said Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), whose state suffers from the second-highest drug overdose rate in the nation. ''Right now, when you see a fine for the McKesson company for a hundred-fifty million when they make a hundred million a week in profits, that isn't going do it.''
She noted that it was state attorneys general who had won a settlement against the tobacco industry for more than $200 billion in the 1990s.
''This in many ways reminds me of the situation with Big Tobacco,'' Hassan said. ''I think it's one of the reasons you see attorneys general around the country beginning to file lawsuits against the pharmaceutical industry, to hold them accountable for the cost of this terrible epidemic.''
Alice Crites contributed to this report.
Read more
The drug industry's triumph over the DEA
How drugs intended for patients ended up in the hands of illegal users
Drug industry hired dozens from DEA as crisis grew
The secret backstory of how Obama let Hezbollah off the hook
Mon, 18 Dec 2017 05:05
The secret backstory of how Obama let Hezbollah off the hookAn ambitious U.S. task force targeting Hezbollah's billion-dollar criminal enterprise ran headlong into the White House's desire for a nuclear deal with Iran.
By Josh Meyer
Illustrations by Daniel Zender
Part IA global threat emergesHow Hezbollah turned to trafficking cocaine and laundering money through used cars to finance its expansion.
I n its determination to secure a nuclear deal with Iran, the Obama administration derailed an ambitious law enforcement campaign targeting drug trafficking by the Iranian-backed terrorist group Hezbollah, even as it was funneling cocaine into the United States, according to a POLITICO investigation.
The campaign, dubbed Project Cassandra, was launched in 2008 after the Drug Enforcement Administration amassed evidence that Hezbollah had transformed itself from a Middle East-focused military and political organization into an international crime syndicate that some investigators believed was collecting $1 billion a year from drug and weapons trafficking, money laundering and other criminal activities.
Over the next eight years, agents working out of a top-secret DEA facility in Chantilly, Virginia, used wiretaps, undercover operations and informants to map Hezbollah's illicit networks, with the help of 30 U.S. and foreign security agencies.
They followed cocaine shipments, some from Latin America to West Africa and on to Europe and the Middle East, and others through Venezuela and Mexico to the United States. They tracked the river of dirty cash as it was laundered by, among other tactics, buying American used cars and shipping them to Africa. And with the help of some key cooperating witnesses, the agents traced the conspiracy, they believed, to the innermost circle of Hezbollah and its state sponsors in Iran.
They followed cocaine shipments, tracked a river of dirty cash, and traced what they believed to be the innermost circle of Hezbollah and its state sponsors in Iran.
But as Project Cassandra reached higher into the hierarchy of the conspiracy, Obama administration officials threw an increasingly insurmountable series of roadblocks in its way, according to interviews with dozens of participants who in many cases spoke for the first time about events shrouded in secrecy, and a review of government documents and court records. When Project Cassandra leaders sought approval for some significant investigations, prosecutions, arrests and financial sanctions, officials at the Justice and Treasury departments delayed, hindered or rejected their requests.
The Justice Department declined requests by Project Cassandra and other authorities to file criminal charges against major players such as Hezbollah's high-profile envoy to Iran, a Lebanese bank that allegedly laundered billions in alleged drug profits, and a central player in a U.S.-based cell of the Iranian paramilitary Quds force. And the State Department rejected requests to lure high-value targets to countries where they could be arrested.
''This was a policy decision, it was a systematic decision,'' said David Asher David Asher Veteran U.S. illicit finance expert sent from Pentagon to Project Cassandra to attack the alleged Hezbollah criminal enterprise. —, who helped establish and oversee Project Cassandra as a Defense Department illicit finance analyst. ''They serially ripped apart this entire effort that was very well supported and resourced, and it was done from the top down.''
The untold story of Project Cassandra illustrates the immense difficulty in mapping and countering illicit networks in an age where global terrorism, drug trafficking and organized crime have merged, but also the extent to which competing agendas among government agencies '-- and shifting priorities at the highest levels '-- can set back years of progress.
And while the pursuit may be shadowed in secrecy, from Latin American luxury hotels to car parks in Africa to the banks and battlefields of the Middle East, the impact is not: In this case, multi-ton loads of cocaine entering the United States, and hundreds of millions of dollars going to a U.S.-designated terrorist organization with vast reach.
Obama had entered office in 2009 promising to improve relations with Iran as part of a broader rapprochement with the Muslim world. On the campaign trail, he had asserted repeatedly that the Bush administration's policy of pressuring Iran to stop its illicit nuclear program wasn't working, and that he would reach out to Tehran to reduce tensions.
The man who would become Obama's top counterterrorism adviser and then CIA director, John Brennan John Brennan Obama's White House counterterrorism adviser, who became CIA director in 2013. —, went further. He recommended in a policy paper that ''the next president has the opportunity to set a new course for relations between the two countries'' through not only a direct dialogue, but ''greater assimilation of Hezbollah into Lebanon's political system.''
By May 2010, Brennan, then assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism, confirmed in a speech that the administration was looking for ways to build up ''moderate elements'' within Hezbollah.
''Hezbollah is a very interesting organization,'' Brennan told a Washington conference, saying it had evolved from ''purely a terrorist organization'' to a militia and, ultimately, a political party with representatives in the Lebanese Parliament and Cabinet, according to a Reuters report.
''There is certainly the elements of Hezbollah that are truly a concern to us what they're doing,'' Brennan said. ''And what we need to do is to find ways to diminish their influence within the organization and to try to build up the more moderate elements.''
In practice, the administration's willingness to envision a new role for Hezbollah in the Middle East, combined with its desire for a negotiated settlement to Iran's nuclear program, translated into a reluctance to move aggressively against the top Hezbollah operatives, according to Project Cassandra members and others.
Lebanese arms dealer Ali Fayad Ali Fayad (aka Fayyad). Ukraine-based arms merchant suspected of being a Hezbollah operative moving large amounts of weapons to Syria. — , a suspected top Hezbollah operative whom agents believed reported to Russian President Vladimir Putin as a key supplier of weapons to Syria and Iraq, was arrested in Prague in the spring of 2014. But for the nearly two years Fayad was in custody, top Obama administration officials declined to apply serious pressure on the Czech government to extradite him to the United States, even as Putin was lobbying aggressively against it.
Fayad, who had been indicted in U.S. courts on charges of planning the murders of U.S. government employees, attempting to provide material support to a terrorist organization and attempting to acquire, transfer and use anti-aircraft missiles, was ultimately sent to Beirut. He is now believed by U.S. officials to be back in business, and helping to arm militants in Syria and elsewhere with Russian heavy weapons.
Project Cassandra members say administration officials also blocked or undermined their efforts to go after other top Hezbollah operatives including one nicknamed the 'Ghost The Ghost One of the most mysterious alleged associates of Safieddine, secretly indicted by the U.S., linked to multi-ton U.S.-bound cocaine loads and weapons shipments to Middle East. —,'' allowing them to remain active despite being under sealed U.S. indictment for years. People familiar with his case say the Ghost has been one of the world's biggest cocaine traffickers, including to the U.S., as well as a major supplier of conventional and chemical weapons for use by Syrian President Bashar Assad against his people.
And when Project Cassandra agents and other investigators sought repeatedly to investigate and prosecute Abdallah Safieddine Abdallah Safieddine Hezbollah's longtime envoy to Iran who allegedly oversaw the group's ''Business Affairs Component'' involved in international drug trafficking. —, Hezbollah's longtime envoy to Iran, whom they considered the linchpin of Hezbollah's criminal network, the Justice Department refused, according to four former officials with direct knowledge of the cases.
The administration also rejected repeated efforts by Project Cassandra members to charge Hezbollah's military wing as an ongoing criminal enterprise under a federal Mafia-style racketeering statute, task force members say. And they allege that administration officials declined to designate Hezbollah a ''significant transnational criminal organization'' and blocked other strategic initiatives that would have given the task force additional legal tools, money and manpower to fight it.
Former Obama administration officials declined to comment on individual cases, but noted that the State Department condemned the Czech decision not to hand over Fayad. Several of them, speaking on condition of anonymity, said they were guided by broader policy objectives, including de-escalating the conflict with Iran, curbing its nuclear weapons program and freeing at least four American prisoners held by Tehran, and that some law enforcement efforts were undoubtedly constrained by those concerns.
But the former officials denied that they derailed any actions against Hezbollah or its Iranian allies for political reasons.
''There has been a consistent pattern of actions taken against Hezbollah, both through tough sanctions and law enforcement actions before and after the Iran deal,'' said Kevin Lewis, an Obama spokesman who worked at both the White House and Justice Department in the administration.
Lewis, speaking for the Obama administration, provided a list of eight arrests and prosecutions as proof. He made special note of a February 2016 operation in which European authorities arrested an undisclosed number of alleged members of a special Hezbollah business affairs unit that the DEA says oversees its drug trafficking and other criminal money-making enterprises.
Project Cassandra officials, however, noted that the European arrests occurred after the negotiations with Iran were over, and said the task force initiated the multinational partnerships on its own, after years of seeing their cases shot down by the Justice and State departments and other U.S. agencies.
The Justice Department, they pointed out, never filed corresponding U.S. criminal charges against the suspects arrested in Europe, including one prominent Lebanese businessman formally designated by the Treasury Department for using his ''direct ties to Hezbollah commercial and terrorist elements'' to launder bulk shipments of illicit cash for the organization throughout Asia, Europe and the Middle East.
A former senior national security official of the Obama administration, who played a role in the Iran nuclear negotiations, suggested that Project Cassandra members were merely speculating that their cases were being blocked for political reasons. Other factors, including a lack of evidence or concerns about interfering with intelligence operations could have been in play.
''What if the CIA or the Mossad had an intelligence operation ongoing inside Hezbollah and they were trying to pursue someone . . . against whom we had impeccable [intelligence] collection and the DEA is not going to know that?'' the official said. ''I get the feeling people who don't know what's going on in the broader universe are grasping at straws.''
The official added: ''The world is a lot more complicated than viewed through the narrow lens of drug trafficking. So you're not going to let CIA rule the roost, but you're also certainly not going to let DEA do it either. Your approach to anything as complicated as Hezbollah is going to have to involve the interagency [process], because the State Department has a piece of the pie, the intelligence community does, Treasury does, DOD does.''
Nonetheless, other sources independent of Project Cassandra confirmed many of the allegations in interviews with POLITICO, and in some cases, in public comments.
One Obama-era Treasury official, Katherine Bauer, in little-noticed written testimony presented last February to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, acknowledged that ''under the Obama administration '... these [Hezbollah-related] investigations were tamped down for fear of rocking the boat with Iran and jeopardizing the nuclear deal.''
As a result, some Hezbollah operatives were not pursued via arrests, indictments, or Treasury designations that would have blocked their access to U.S. financial markets, according to Bauer, a career Treasury official, who served briefly in its Office of Terrorist Financing as a senior policy adviser for Iran before leaving in late 2015. And other ''Hezbollah facilitators'' arrested in France, Colombia, Lithuania have not been extradited '-- or indicted '-- in the U.S., she wrote.
Bauer, in an interview, declined to elaborate on her testimony.
Asher David Asher Veteran U.S. illicit finance expert sent from Pentagon to Project Cassandra to attack the alleged Hezbollah criminal enterprise. —, for one, said Obama administration officials expressed concerns to him about alienating Tehran before, during and after the Iran nuclear deal negotiations. This was, he said, part of an effort to ''defang, defund and undermine the investigations that were involving Iran and Hezbollah,'' he said.
''The closer we got to the [Iran deal], the more these activities went away,'' Asher said. ''So much of the capability, whether it was special operations, whether it was law enforcement, whether it was [Treasury] designations '-- even the capacity, the personnel assigned to this mission '-- it was assiduously drained, almost to the last drop, by the end of the Obama administration.''
With much fanfare, Obama announced the final agreement on implementation of the Iran deal on Jan. 17, 2016, in which Tehran promised to shelve efforts to build a nuclear weapons program in exchange for being released from crippling international economic sanctions.
Within months, task force officials said, Project Cassandra was all but dead. Some of its most senior officials, including Jack Kelly John ''Jack'' Kelly DEA agent overseeing Hezbollah cases at Special Operations Division, who named task force Project Cassandra after clashes with other U.S. agencies about Hezbollah drug-terror links. —, the veteran DEA supervisory agent who created and led the task force, were transferred to other assignments. And Asher himself left the task force long before that, after the Defense Department said his contract would not be renewed.
As a result, the U.S. government lost insight into not only drug trafficking and other criminal activity worldwide, but also into Hezbollah's illicit conspiracies with top officials in the Iranian, Syrian, Venezuelan and Russian governments '-- all the way up to presidents Nicolas Maduro, Assad and Putin, according to former task force members and other current and former U.S. officials.
The derailment of Project Cassandra also has undermined U.S. efforts to determine how much cocaine from the various Hezbollah-affiliated networks is coming into the United States, especially from Venezuela, where dozens of top civilian and military officials have been under investigation for more than a decade. Recently, the Trump administration designated the country's vice president, a close ally of Hezbollah and of Lebanese-Syrian descent, as a global narcotics kingpin.
Meanwhile, Hezbollah '-- in league with Iran '-- continues to undermine U.S. interests in Iraq, Syria and throughout wide swaths of Latin America and Africa, including providing weapons and training to anti-American Shiite militias. And Safieddine, the Ghost and other associates continue to play central roles in the trafficking of drugs and weapons, current and former U.S. officials believe.
''They were a paramilitary organization with strategic importance in the Middle East, and we watched them become an international criminal conglomerate generating billions of dollars for the world's most dangerous activities, including chemical and nuclear weapons programs and armies that believe America is their sworn enemy,'' said Kelly, the supervisory DEA agent and lead coordinator of its Hezbollah cases.
''If they are violating U.S. statutes,'' he asked, ''why can't we bring them to justice?''
Kelly and Asher are among the officials involved in Project Cassandra who have been quietly contacted by the Trump administration and congressional Republicans, who said a special POLITICO report April 24 on Barack Obama's hidden Iran deal concessions raised urgent questions about the need to resurrect key law enforcement programs to counter Iran.
That won't be easy, according to former Project Cassandra members, even with President Donald Trump's recent vow to crack down on Iran and Hezbollah. They said they tried to keep the project on life support, in hopes that it would be revived by the next administration, but the loss of key personnel, budget cuts and dropped investigations are only a few of many challenges made worse by the passage of nearly a year since Trump took office.
''You can't let these things disintegrate,'' said Kelly. ''Sources evaporate. Who knows if we can find all of the people willing to testify?''
Derek Maltz Derek Maltz Senior DEA official who as head of Special Operations Division lobbied for support for Project Cassandra and its investigations. —, who oversaw Project Cassandra as the head of the DEA's Special Operations Division for nine years ending in July 2014, put it this way: ''Certainly there are targets that people feel that could have been indicted and weren't. There is certainly an argument to be made that if tomorrow all the agencies were ordered to come together and sit in a room and put all the evidence on the table against all these bad guys, that there could be a hell of a lot of indictments.''
But Maltz said the damage wrought by years of political interference will be hard to repair.
''There's no doubt in my mind now that the focus was this Iran deal and our initiative was kind of like a fly in the soup,'' Maltz said. ''We were the train that went off the tracks.''
Project Cassandra had its origins in a series of investigations launched in the years after the 9/11 attacks which all led, via their own twisted paths, to Hezbollah as a suspected global criminal enterprise.
Operation Titan Operation Titan A joint investigation with Colombian authorities into a global money-laundering and drug-trafficking alliance between Latin American traffickers and Lebanese operatives. —, in which the DEA worked with Colombian authorities to explore a global alliance between Lebanese money launderers and Colombian drug trafficking conglomerates, was one. Operation Perseus, targeting Venezuelan syndicates, was another. At the same time, DEA agents in West Africa were investigating the suspicious flow of thousands of used cars from U.S. dealerships to car parks in Benin.
Meanwhile, in Iraq, the U.S. military was probing the role of Iran in outfitting Shiite militias with high-tech improvised explosive devices known as Explosively Formed Penetrators, or EFPs, that had already killed hundreds of U.S. soldiers.
All of these paths eventually converged on Hezbollah.
This wasn't entirely a surprise, agents say. For decades, Hezbollah '-- in close cooperation with Iranian intelligence and Revolutionary Guard '-- had worked with supporters in Lebanese communities around the world to create a web of businesses that were long suspected of being fronts for black-market trading. Along the same routes that carried frozen chicken and consumer electronics, these businesses moved weapons, laundered money and even procured parts for Iran's illicit nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
As they pursued their investigations, the DEA agents found that Hezbollah was redoubling all of these efforts, working urgently to raise cash, and lots of it, to rebuild its south Lebanon stronghold after a 2006 war with Israel had reduced it to rubble.
Dating back to its inception in the early 1980s, Hezbollah, which translates to ''Party of God,'' had also engaged in ''narcoterrorism,'' collecting a tariff from drug dealers and other black-market suppliers who operated in territory it controlled in Lebanon and elsewhere. Now, based on the DEA's extensive network of informants, undercover operatives and wiretaps, it looked like Hezbollah had shifted tactics, and gotten directly involved in the global cocaine trade, according to interviews and documents, including a confidential DEA assessment.
''It was like they flipped a switch,'' Kelly told POLITICO. ''All of a sudden, they reversed the flow of all of the black-market activity they had been taxing for years, and took control of the operation.''
Operating like an organized crime family, Hezbollah operatives would identify businesses that might be profitable and useful as covers for cocaine trafficking and buy financial stakes in them, Kelly and others said. ''And if the business was successful and suited their current needs,'' Kelly said, ''they went from partial owners to majority owners to full partnership or takeover.''
Hezbollah even created a special financial unit that, translated into English, means ''Business Affairs Component,'' to oversee the sprawling criminal operation, and it was run by the world's most wanted terrorist after Osama bin Laden, a notoriously vicious Hezbollah military commander named Imad Mughniyeh Imad Mughniyeh A Hezbollah mastermind who oversaw its international operations and, the DEA says, its drug trafficking, as head of its military wing, the Islamic Jihad Organization. —, according to DEA interviews and documents.
Mughniyeh had for decades been the public face of terrorism for Americans, orchestrating the infamous attack that killed 241 U.S. Marines in 1983 in their barracks in Lebanon, and dozens more Americans in attacks on the U.S. Embassy in Beirut that year and an annex the year after. When President Ronald Reagan responded to the attacks by withdrawing peacekeeping troops from Lebanon, Hezbollah claimed a major victory and vaulted to the forefront of the Islamist resistance movement against the West.
Over the next 25 years, Iran's financial and military support for Hezbollah enabled it to amass an army with tens of thousands of foot soldiers, more heavy armaments than most nation-states and approximately 120,000 rockets and ballistic missiles that could strike Israel and U.S. interests in the region with devastating precision.
Hezbollah became an expert in soft power, as well. It provided food, medical care and other social services for starving refugees in war-torn Lebanon, winning credibility on the ground. It then evolved further into a powerful political party, casting itself as the defender of poor, mostly Shiite Lebanese against Christian and Sunni Muslim elites. But even as Hezbollah was moving into the mainstream of Lebanese politics, Mughniyeh was overseeing a secret expansion of its terrorist wing, the Islamic Jihad Organization. Working with Iranian intelligence agents, Islamic Jihad continued to attack Western, Israeli and Jewish targets around the world, and to conduct surveillance on others '-- including in the United States '-- in preparation for future attacks.
Hezbollah mostly left the United States alone, in what was clearly a strategic decision to avoid U.S. retaliation. But by 2008, the Bush administration came to believe that Islamic Jihad was the most dangerous terrorist organization in the world, capable of launching instantaneous attacks, possibly with chemical, biological or low-grade nuclear weapons, that would dwarf those on 9/11.
By funding terrorism and military operations through global drug trafficking and organized crime, Mughniyeh's business affairs unit within Islamic Jihad had become the embodiment of the kind of threat the United States was struggling to address in the post-9/11 world.
The DEA believed that it was the logical U.S. national security agency to lead the interagency effort to go after Mughniyeh's drug trafficking networks. But within the multipronged U.S. national security apparatus, this was both a questionable and problematic assertion.
Established by President Richard Nixon in 1973 to bring together the various anti-drug programs under the Department of Justice, the DEA was among the youngest of the U.S. national security agencies.
And while the DEA had quickly proven itself adept at working on the global stage '-- especially in partnerships with drug-infested countries desperate for U.S. help like Colombia '-- few people within the U.S. government thought of it as a legitimate counterterrorism force.
In the final years of the Bush administration, though, the DEA had won the support of top officials for taking down two major international arms dealers, a Syrian named Monzer al-Kassar and the Russian ''Lord of War,'' Viktor Bout Viktor Anatolyevich Bout Vladimir Putin's arms dealer, known as the "Lord of War." Convicted of conspiracy to sell millions of dollars worth of weapons to Colombian narcoterrorists. —. And thanks to supportive Republicans in Congress, it had become the beneficiary of a new federal law that empowered its globe-trotting cadre of assault-weapon-toting Special Operations agents.
The statute allowed DEA agents to operate virtually anywhere, without permission required from other U.S. agencies. All they needed to do was connect drug suspects to terrorism, and they could arrest them, haul them back to the United States and flip them in an effort to penetrate ''the highest levels of the world's most significant and notorious criminal organizations,'' as then-Special Operations chief Maltz Derek Maltz Senior DEA official who as head of Special Operations Division lobbied for support for Project Cassandra and its investigations. —told Congress in November 2011.
As they crunched the massive amounts of intel streaming into the DEA's Counter Narco-Terrorism Operations Center in Chantilly, Virginia, the agents on Operation Titan Operation Titan A joint investigation with Colombian authorities into a global money-laundering and drug-trafficking alliance between Latin American traffickers and Lebanese operatives. —, Perseus and the other cases began to connect the dots and map the contours of one overarching criminal enterprise.
Part IIFrom its headquarters in the Middle East, Hezbollah extends its criminal reach to Latin America, Africa and the United States.
O n Feb. 12, 2008, CIA and Israeli intelligence detonated a bomb in Mughniyeh Imad Mughniyeh A Hezbollah mastermind who oversaw its international operations and, the DEA says, its drug trafficking, as head of its military wing, the Islamic Jihad Organization. —'s car as he was leaving a celebration of the 29th anniversary of the Iranian revolution in Damascus, Syria. He was killed instantly. It was a major blow to Hezbollah, but soon after, wiretapped phone lines and other U.S. evidence showed that his criminal operation was busier than ever, and overseen by two trusted associates, according to interviews with former Project Cassandra officials and DEA documents.
One was financier Adham Tabaja Adham Tabaja Lebanese businessman, alleged co-leader of Hezbollah Business Affairs Component and key figure directly tying Hezbollah's commercial and terrorist activities. —. The other, the interviews and documents reveal, was Safieddine, the key link between Hezbollah '-- which was run by his cousin, Hassan Nasrallah and his own brother Hashem '-- and Iran, Hezbollah's state sponsor, which saw the group as its strategic ally in defending Shiite Muslims in the largely Sunni Muslim states that surrounded it.
Investigators were also homing in on several dozen key players underneath them who acted as ''superfacilitators'' for the various criminal operations benefitting Hezbollah, Iran and, at times, their allies in Iraq, Syria, Venezuela and Russia.
But it was Safieddine, a low-key, bespectacled man with a diplomatic bearing, who was their key point of connection from his base in Tehran, investigators believed.
The Colombia and Venezuela investigations linked him to numerous international drug smuggling and money laundering networks, and especially to one of the biggest the DEA had ever seen, led by Medellin-based Lebanese businessman Ayman Joumaa Ayman Saied Joumaa Accused drug kingpin and financier whose vast network allegedly smuggled tons of cocaine into the U.S. with Mexico's Zetas cartel and laundered money. —.
Joumaa Ayman Saied Joumaa Accused drug kingpin and financier whose vast network allegedly smuggled tons of cocaine into the U.S. with Mexico's Zetas cartel and laundered money. —'s network rang alarm bells in Washington when agents discovered he was working with Mexico's brutal Los Zetas cartel to move multi-ton loads of cocaine directly into the United States, and washing $200 million a month in criminal proceeds with the help of 300 or so used car dealerships. The network would funnel huge amounts of money to the dealerships to purchase used cars, which would then be shipped to Benin, on Africa's west coast.
Drugs from Colombia and
Venezuela shipped to U.S.
via Mexico
F reshly laundered money is
returned to U.S. to buy used cars
Pro-Hezbollah money
houses and banks,
Beirut
Used cars bought in U.S.,
shipped to West Africa
for resale
Used car proceeds
couriered to Lebanon
Drugs are sent from Colombia
and Venezuela to Europe via West Africa
Drugs from Colombia and
Venezuela shipped to U.S.
via Mexico
F reshly laundered money is
returned to U.S. to buy used cars
Pro-Hezbollah money
houses and banks,
Beirut
Used cars bought in U.S.,
shipped to West Africa
for resale
Used car proceeds
couriered to Lebanon
Drugs are sent from Colombia
and Venezuela to Europe via West Africa
Drugs from Colombia and
Venezuela shipped to U.S.
via Mexico
F reshly laundered money is
returned to U.S. to buy used cars
Pro-Hezbollah money
houses and banks,
Beirut
Used cars bought in U.S.,
shipped to West Africa
for resale
Used car proceeds
couriered to Lebanon
Drugs are sent from Colombia
and Venezuela to Europe via West Africa
Drugs from Colombia and
Venezuela shipped to U.S.
via Mexico
F reshly laundered money is
returned to U.S. to buy used cars
Pro-Hezbollah money
houses and banks,
Beirut
Used cars bought in U.S.,
shipped to West Africa
for resale
Used car proceeds
couriered to Lebanon
Drugs are sent from Colombia
and Venezuela to Europe
via West Africa
Drugs from Colombia
and Venezuela
shipped to U.S.
via Mexico
F reshly laundered money is
returned to U.S. to buy used cars
Pro-Hezbollah
money houses and
banks, Beirut
Used cars bought in U.S.,
shipped to West Africa
for resale
Used car proceeds
couriered to Lebanon
Drugs are sent from Colombia
and Venezuela to Europe
via West Africa
Pro-Hezbollah
money houses
and banks,
Beirut
Drugs from Colombia and Venezuela shipped to U.S. via Mexico
Drugs are sent from Colombia and Venezuela to West Africa
Used cars bought in U.S., shipped to West Africa for resale
Used car proceeds couriered to Lebanon
Freshly laundered money is returned to U.S. to buy used cars
Pro-Hezbollah
money houses
and banks,
Beirut
Drugs from Colombia and Venezuela shipped to U.S. via Mexico
Drugs are sent from Colombia and Venezuela to West Africa
Used cars bought in U.S., shipped to West Africa for resale
Used car proceeds couriered to Lebanon
Freshly laundered money is returned to U.S. to buy used cars
As the task force investigators intensified their focus on Safieddine, they were contacted out of the blue by Asher David Asher Veteran U.S. illicit finance expert sent from Pentagon to Project Cassandra to attack the alleged Hezbollah criminal enterprise. —, the Defense Department official, who was at Special Operations Command tracking the money used to provide ragtag Iraqi Shiite militias with sophisticated weapons for use against U.S. troops, including the new and lethal IED known as the ''Explosively Formed Penetrator.'' The armor-piercing charges were so powerful that they were ripping M1 Abrams tanks in half.
''Nobody had seen weapons like these,'' Asher told POLITICO. ''They could blow the side off a building.''
Asher's curiosity had been piqued by evidence linking the IED network to phone numbers intercepted in the Colombia investigation. Before long, he traced the unusual alliance to a number allegedly used by Safieddine in Iran.
''I had no clue who he was,'' Asher recalled. ''But this guy was sending money into Iraq, to kill American soldiers.''
''I had no clue who he was. But this guy was sending money into Iraq, to kill American soldiers.''
'-- David Asher on Abdallah Safieddine.Thanks to that chance connection, the Pentagon's then-head of counternarcotics, William Wechsler, lent Asher and a few other Defense Department experts in tracking illicit money to the DEA to see what they might find.
It was a fruitful partnership. Asher was accustomed to toiling in the financial shadows. During his 20-plus years of U.S. government work, his core expertise was in exposing money laundering and schemes to avoid financial sanctions by rogue nation states, terrorist groups, organized-crime cartels and weapons proliferation networks.
Usually, his work was strictly classified. For Project Cassandra, however, he got special dispensation from the Pentagon to build networks of unclassified information so it could be used in criminal prosecutions.
Asher and his team quickly integrated cutting-edge financial intelligence tools into the various DEA investigations. With the U.S. military's help, agents translated thousands of hours of intercepted phone conversations from Colombia in Arabic that no one had considered relevant until the Hezbollah links appeared.
When the translations were complete, investigators said, they painted a picture of Safieddine Abdallah Safieddine Hezbollah's longtime envoy to Iran who allegedly oversaw the group's ''Business Affairs Component'' involved in international drug trafficking. — as a human hub of a criminal enterprise with spokes emanating from Tehran outward into Latin America, Africa, Europe and the United States via hundreds of legitimate businesses and front companies.
Safieddine did not respond to requests for comment through various intermediaries including Hezbollah's media arm. A Hezbollah official, however, denied that the organization was involved in drug dealing.
''Sheik Nasrallah has confirmed lots of times that it is not permitted religiously for Hezbollah members to be trafficking drugs,'' the official said. ''It is something that is preventable, in that we in Islam have things like halal [permitted] and haram [prohibited]. For us, this is haram. So in no way is it possible to be done.''
The accusation that Hezbollah is involved in drug trafficking, the representative said, ''is part of the campaign to distort the image of Hezbollah as a resistance movement against the Israelis. Of course, it is possible to have Lebanese people involved in drugs, but it is not possible for them to be members of Hezbollah. This is absolutely not possible.''
Asked about Safieddine's role in the organization, the official said, ''We don't usually expose the roles everyone plays because it is a jihadi organization. So it is a little bit secret.''
Safieddine's cousin Nasrallah, the Hezbollah leader, has publicly rejected the idea that Hezbollah needs to raise money at all, through drugs or any other criminal activity, because Iran provides whatever funds it needs.
Safieddine himself, however, suggested otherwise in 2005, when he defiantly refuted the Bush administration's accusations that Iran and Syria supplied Hezbollah with weapons. Those countries provided ''political and moral'' support only, he told Agence France-Presse. ''We don't need to arm ourselves from Tehran. Why bring weapons from Iran via Syria when we can procure them anywhere in the world?''
''We don't need to arm ourselves from Tehran. Why bring weapons from Iran via Syria when we can procure them anywhere in the world?''
'-- Abdallah Safieddine to Agence France-Presse in 2005.Safieddine may have been right. Agents found evidence that weapons were flowing to Hezbollah from many channels, including networks that trafficked in both drugs and weapons. And using the same trafficking networks that hummed with drugs, cash and commercial products, agents concluded, Safieddine was overseeing Hezbollah efforts to help Iran procure parts and technology for its clandestine nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
''Hezbollah operates like the Gambino crime family on steroids, and he is its John Gotti,'' said Kelly, referring to the infamous ''Teflon Don'' crime boss who for decades eluded justice. ''Whatever Iran needs, Safieddine is in charge of getting it for them.''
''Hezbollah operates like the Gambino crime family on steroids, and he is its John Gotti.''
'-- Jack Kelly on Abdallah Safieddine.The Bush administration had made disrupting the networks through which Iran obtained parts for its weapons of mass destruction programs a top priority, with then-Deputy National Security Adviser Juan Zarate personally overseeing an interagency effort to map out the procurement channels. A former Justice Department prosecutor, Zarate understood the value of international law enforcement operations, and put DEA's Special Operations Division at the center of it.
But even then, other agencies were chafing at the DEA's role.
A Series of RoadblocksMuch of the early turbulence stemmed from an escalating turf battle between federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies over which ones had primacy in the global war on terrorism, especially over a so-called hybrid target like Hezbollah, which was both a criminal enterprise and a national security threat.
The ''cops'' from the FBI and DEA wanted to build criminal cases, throw Hezbollah operatives in prison and get them to turn on each other. That stoked resentment among the ''spooks'' at the CIA and National Security Agency, who for 25 years had gathered intelligence, sometimes through the painstaking process of having agents infiltrate Hezbollah, and then occasionally launching assassinations and cyberattacks to block imminent threats.
Further complicating the picture was the role of the State Department, which often wanted to quash both law-enforcement actions and covert operations due to the political backlash they created. Hezbollah, after all, was a leading political force in Lebanon and a provider of human services, with a sincere grass-roots following that wasn't necessarily aware of its unsavory actions. Nowhere was the tension between law enforcement and diplomacy more acute than in dealings with Hezbollah, which was fast becoming a key part of the Lebanese government.
Distrust among U.S. agencies exploded after two incidents brought the cops-spooks divide into clear relief.
In the waning days of the Bush administration, a DEA agent's cover was blown just as he was about to become a Colombian cartel's main cocaine supplier to the Middle East '-- and to Hezbollah operatives.
A year later, under Obama, the State Department blocked an FBI-led Joint Terrorism Task Force from luring a key eyewitness from Beirut to Philadelphia so he could be arrested and turned against Safieddine Abdallah Safieddine Hezbollah's longtime envoy to Iran who allegedly oversaw the group's ''Business Affairs Component'' involved in international drug trafficking. — and other Hezbollah operatives in a scheme to procure 1,200 Colt M4 military-grade assault rifles.
In both cases, law enforcement agents suspected that Middle East-based spies in the CIA had torpedoed their investigations to protect their politically sensitive and complicated relationship with Hezbollah.
But the tensions between those agencies and the DEA were no secret. Some current and former diplomats and CIA officers, speaking on condition of anonymity, portrayed DEA Special Operations agents as undisciplined and overly aggressive cowboys with little regard for the larger geopolitical picture. ''They'd come in hot to places like Beirut, want to slap handcuffs on people and disrupt operations we'd been cultivating for years,'' one former CIA case officer said.
''They'd come in hot to places like Beirut, want to slap handcuffs on people and disrupt operations we'd been cultivating for years.''
'-- Former CIA case officer on how the DEA operated.Kelly John ''Jack'' Kelly DEA agent overseeing Hezbollah cases at Special Operations Division, who named task force Project Cassandra after clashes with other U.S. agencies about Hezbollah drug-terror links. — and other agents embraced their swashbuckling reputation, claiming that more aggressive tactics were needed because the CIA had long turned a blind eye to Hezbollah's criminal networks, and even cultivated informants within them, in a misguided and myopic focus on preventing terrorist attacks.
The unyielding posture of Kelly, Asher David Asher Veteran U.S. illicit finance expert sent from Pentagon to Project Cassandra to attack the alleged Hezbollah criminal enterprise. — and their team also rankled some of their fellow law-enforcement agents within the FBI, the Justice Department and even the DEA itself. The more Kelly and Asher insisted that everyone else was missing the drug-crime-terror nexus, the more others accused them '-- and their team out at Chantilly '-- of inflating those connections to expand the task force's portfolio, get more funding and establish its importance.
After a few years of working together on the Hezbollah cases, Kelly and Asher had become a familiar sight in the never-ending circuit of meetings and briefings in what is known as the ''interagency process,'' a euphemism for the U.S. national security community's efforts to bring all elements of power to bear on a particular problem.
From outward appearances, the two made an unusual pair.
Kelly, now 51, was a streetwise agent from small-town New Jersey who cut his teeth investigating the Mafia and drug kingpins. He spent his infrequent downtime lifting weights, watching college football and chilling in cargo shorts.
Asher, 49, speaks fluent Japanese, earned his Ph.D. in international relations from Oxford University and has the pallor of a senior government official who has spent the past three decades in policy meetings, classified military war rooms and diplomatic summits.
Both were described by supporters and detractors alike as having a similarly formidable combination of investigative and analytical skills, and the self-confidence to match it. At times, and especially on Project Cassandra, their intensity worked to the detriment of their careers.
''It got to the point where a lot of people didn't want to have meetings with them,'' said one FBI terrorism task force supervisor who worked often with the two. ''They refused to accept no for an answer. And they were often given no for an answer. Even though they were usually right.''
Subject: SDFLs obstruction of a 960a indictment will have far reaching implications including threats to our National Security
I appreciate the tremendous support DEA management has given to Operation Titan. And I understand that its felt we have no options left. Let me clearly lay out what I think are the tremendous implications of what has occurred and then I will leave you guys alone .
Email recreation
An early flash point was Operation Titan Operation Titan A joint investigation with Colombian authorities into a global money-laundering and drug-trafficking alliance between Latin American traffickers and Lebanese operatives. —, the DEA initiative in Colombia. After its undercover agent was compromised, DEA and Colombian authorities scrambled to build cases against as many as 130 traffickers, including a Colombian cartel leader and a suspected Safieddine associate named Chekry Harb, nicknamed El Taliban.
For months afterward, the Justice Department rebuffed requests by task force agents, and some of its own prosecutors, to add narcoterrorism charges to the drug and money-laundering counts against Harb, several sources involved in the case said. Agents argued that they had evidence that would easily support the more serious charges. Moreover, Harb's prosecution was an essential building block in their larger plan for a sustained legal assault against Hezbollah's criminal network.
Its centerpiece would be a prosecution under the Racketeer Act RICO case The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act increases the severity of penalties for crimes committed in as part of organized crime. —, a powerful tool used by the Justice Department against sophisticated international conspiracies, including the Mafia, drug cartels and white-collar corporate crimes. A RICO case would give the task force the ability to tie many seemingly unconnected conspiracies together, and prosecute the alleged bosses overseeing them, like Safieddine, participants say.
It would also allow authorities to seize potentially billions in assets, they say, and to use the threat of far longer prison terms to wring more cooperation out of Harb and others already charged or convicted.
After the Justice Department's final refusal to bring narcoterrorism charges against Harb, Kelly sent an angry email to the DEA leadership warning that Justice's ''obstruction'' would have ''far reaching implications including threats to our National Security'' given Hezbollah's mushrooming criminal activity.
Of particular concern: A 25''year-old Lebanese man that Kelly described as the network's ''command and control element,'' according to the email.
The young man was not only in contact ''with Joumaa Ayman Saied Joumaa Accused drug kingpin and financier whose vast network allegedly smuggled tons of cocaine into the U.S. with Mexico's Zetas cartel and laundered money. — and some of the other top drug traffickers in the world'' but also ''leaders of a foreign [country's] black ops special forces; executive leadership of Hezbollah; and a representative of a company which is most likely facilitating the development of WMDs.''
''We should also not forget,'' he added, ''about the 100's of used car companies in the states '-- some of them owned by Islamic Extremists '-- which are part of this network.'' In interviews, former task force officials identified the young man as Safieddine Abdallah Safieddine Hezbollah's longtime envoy to Iran who allegedly oversaw the group's ''Business Affairs Component'' involved in international drug trafficking. —'s son, and said he acted as his father's liaison in Beirut.
All of that information was shared with other law enforcement and intelligence agencies '-- and the White House '-- via the DEA's Chantilly nerve center. But by early 2009, Obama's national security team batted down Project Cassandra's increasingly urgent warnings as being overly alarmist, counterproductive or untrue, or simply ignored them, according to Kelly, Asher, Maltz and other participants in and out of government.
By following the money, though, Asher had become convinced that the task force wasn't overhyping the threat posed by Hezbollah's criminal activities, it was significantly underestimating it. Because Hezbollah's drug trafficking was bankrolling its Islamic Jihad military wing and joint ventures with Iran, as Asher would later testify before Congress, it represented ''the largest material support scheme for terrorism operations'' the world had ever seen.
Foreign and resident bank deposits in Lebanese Central BankBoth resident and nonresident deposits grew despite war and global financial crisis, suggesting to investigators that drug proceeds were flooding the financial system.Resident depositsResident deposits
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Nonresident depositsNote: All values in Lebanese pound Source: Lebanon Central Bank As proof, Asher David Asher Veteran U.S. illicit finance expert sent from Pentagon to Project Cassandra to attack the alleged Hezbollah criminal enterprise. — would often bring PowerPoints to interagency drug and crime meetings, showing how cash reserves of U.S currency in Lebanon had doubled, to $16 billion, in just a few years, and how shiny new skyscrapers were popping up around Beirut, just like Miami, Panama City, Panama, and other cities awash in drug money.
Privately, Asher began to tell task force colleagues, the best way to take down the entire criminal enterprise '-- especially such a politically sensitive one as Hezbollah '-- was to go after its money, and the financial institutions assisting it. Their first target would be one of the world's fastest-growing banks, the Beirut-based Lebanese Canadian Bank and its $5 billion in assets.
Blocked Efforts, Missed OpportunitiesAsher knew how to successfully implode the financial underpinnings of an illicit, state-sponsored trafficking network because he'd already done it, just a few years earlier, as the Bush administration's point man on North Korea. In that case, he used the post-9/11 PATRIOT Act to cut off Pyongyang by going after Banco Delta Asia, a Macau-based bank that made illicit financial transactions on behalf of the North Korean regime.
In Beirut, Asher and his team worked with an Israeli intelligence operation to penetrate the Lebanese bank's inner workings and diagram its Byzantine money flows. They gathered evidence showing how Joumaa Ayman Saied Joumaa Accused drug kingpin and financier whose vast network allegedly smuggled tons of cocaine into the U.S. with Mexico's Zetas cartel and laundered money. —'s network alone was laundering $200 million per month in ''bulk proceeds of drug sales'' through the bank and various money exchange houses, according to Justice and Treasury department documents.
Much of the freshly laundered cash, the records show, was then wired to about 300 U.S. used-car dealers to buy and ship thousands of vehicles to West Africa.
Task force agents also documented how Safieddine was a financial liaison providing Hezbollah '-- and, of potentially huge significance, Iran '-- with VIP services at the bank, including precious access to the international financial system in violation of U.S. sanctions, according to those records.
By then, the task force was working closely with federal prosecutors in a new Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit out of the Justice Department's Southern District of New York. The Manhattan prosecutors agreed to file criminal charges against the bank and two senior officials that they hoped to turn into cooperating witnesses against Hezbollah and Safieddine, several participants said.
Federal authorities filed a civil action against the bank in February 2011 and later seized $102 million, ultimately forcing it to shut down and sell its assets without admitting wrongdoing. But the Justice Department never filed the criminal charges, and also stymied investigations into other financial institutions and individuals that task force agents targeted as part of the planned RICO RICO case The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act increases the severity of penalties for crimes committed in as part of organized crime. — case, they say.
The Obama White House said privately that it feared a broader assault on Lebanese financial institutions would destabilize the country. But without the threat of prison time, complicit bank officials clammed up. And without pressure on the many other financial institutions in Lebanon and the region, Hezbollah simply moved its banking business elsewhere.
Soon afterward, Kelly said, he ran into one of the unit's top prosecutors and asked if there was ''something going on with the White House that explains why we can't get a criminal filing.''
''You don't know the half of it,'' the prosecutor replied, according to Kelly. ''Right now, we have 50 FBI agents not doing anything because they know their Iran cases aren't going anywhere,'' including investigations around the U.S. into allegedly complicit used-car dealers.
''Right now, we have 50 FBI agents not doing anything because they know their Iran cases aren't going anywhere''
'-- Jack Kelly on what a Justice Department official told him about the chilling effect of Obama's rapprochement with Iran.Justice Department officials involved, including then-U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara and other prosecutors, declined requests to discuss the bank case or others involving Hezbollah.
That October, Asher helped uncover a plot by two Iranian agents and a Texas-based Iranian-American to hire Mexican cartel gunmen to assassinate Saudi Arabia's U.S. ambassador in a crowded Washington cafe. A month later, prosecutors indicted Joumaa, accusing him of working with Mexico's Zetas cartel and Colombian and Venezuelan suppliers to smuggle 85 tons of cocaine into the U.S., and laundering $850 million in drug proceeds.
Task force agents hoped those cases would win them the political support needed to attack the Hezbollah criminal network and its patrons in Tehran. Instead, the opposite appeared to be happening.
DEA officials weren't included in the Justice and FBI news conference on the assassination plot, and claim it was because the Obama White House wanted to downplay the drug-terror connection. And Joumaa's indictment didn't mention Hezbollah once, despite DEA evidence of his connections to the group dating back to 1997.
By the end of 2012, senior officials at the Justice Department's National Security and Criminal divisions, and at the State Department and National Security Council, had shut down, derailed or delayed numerous other Hezbollah-related cases with little or no explanation, according to Asher, Kelly, Maltz and other current and former participating officials.
Agents discovered ''an entire Quds force network'' in the U.S., laundering money, moving drugs and illegally smuggling Bell helicopters, night-vision goggles and other items for Iran, Asher said.
''We crashed to indict'' the elite Iranian unit, and while some operatives were eventually prosecuted, other critically important indictments ''were rejected despite the fact that we had excellent evidence and testifying witnesses,'' said Asher, who helped lead the investigation.
In Philadelphia, the FBI-led task force had spent two years bolstering its case claiming that Safieddine had overseen an effort to purchase 1,200 military-grade assault rifles bound for Lebanon, with the help of Kelly and the special narcoterrorism prosecutors in New York.
Now, they had two key eyewitnesses. One would identify Safieddine Abdallah Safieddine Hezbollah's longtime envoy to Iran who allegedly oversaw the group's ''Business Affairs Component'' involved in international drug trafficking. — as the Hezbollah official sitting behind a smoked-glass barricade who approved the assault weapons deal. And an agent and prosecutor had flown to a remote Asian hotel and spent four days persuading another eyewitness to testify about Safieddine's role in an even bigger weapons and drugs conspiracy, multiple former law enforcement officials confirmed to POLITICO.
Convinced they had a strong case, the New York prosecutors sent a formal prosecution request to senior Justice Department lawyers in Washington, as required in such high-profile cases. The Justice Department rejected it, and the FBI and DEA agents were never told why, those former officials said.
Justice Department officials declined to comment on the case.
Kelly had been searching for an appropriate DEA code name to give to collaborating agencies so they could access and contribute to task force investigative files. He found it while reading the Erik Larson book ''In the Garden of Beasts,'' in which the former U.S. ambassador to Germany named his U.S. speaking tour about the growing Nazi menace after the famous mythological figure whose warnings about the future were unheeded.
Now the project had its name: Cassandra.
Internal DEA insignia for Project Cassandra.
Standing Down on HezbollahAfter Obama won reelection in November 2012, the administration's pushback on Hezbollah drug cases became more overt, and now seemed to be emanating directly from the White House, according to task force members, some former U.S. officials and other observers.
One reason, they said, was Obama's choice of a new national security team. The appointment of John Kerry as secretary of state was widely viewed as a sign of a redoubled effort to engage with Iran. Obama's appointment of Brennan '-- the public supporter of cultivating Hezbollah moderates '-- as CIA director, and the president's choice of the Justice Department's top national security lawyer, Lisa Monaco Lisa Monaco Lisa Monaco replaced John Brennan as the White House counterterrorism and homeland security adviser. —, as Brennan's replacement as White House counterterrorism and homeland security adviser, put two more strong proponents of diplomatic engagement with Iran in key positions.
Another factor was the victory of reformist candidate Hassan Rouhani as president of Iran that summer, which pushed the talks over a possible nuclear deal into high gear.
The administration's eagerness for an Iran deal was broadcast through so many channels, task force members say, that political appointees and career officials at key agencies like Justice, State and the National Security Council felt unspoken pressure to view the task force's efforts with skepticism. One former senior Justice Department official confirmed to POLITICO that some adverse decisions might have been influenced by an informal multi-agency Iran working group that ''assessed the potential impact'' of criminal investigations and prosecutions on the nuclear negotiations.
Monaco was a particularly influential roadblock at the intersection of law enforcement and politics, in part due to her sense of caution, her close relationship with Obama and her frequent contact with her former colleagues at the Justice Department's National Security Division, according to several task force members and other current and former officials familiar with its efforts.
Some Obama officials warned that further crackdowns against Hezbollah would destabilize Lebanon. Others warned that such actions would alienate Iran at a critical early stage of the serious Iran deal talks. And some officials, including Monaco Lisa Monaco Lisa Monaco replaced John Brennan as the White House counterterrorism and homeland security adviser. —, said the administration was concerned about retaliatory terrorist or military actions by Hezbollah, task force members said.
''That was the established policy of the Obama administration internally,'' one former senior Obama national security official said, in describing the reluctance to go after Hezbollah for fear of reprisal. He said he criticized it at the time as being misguided and hypocritical.
''We're obviously doing those actions against al Qaeda and ISIS all the time,'' the Obama official said. ''I thought it was bad policy [to refrain from such actions on Hezbollah] that limited the range of options we had,'' including criminal prosecutions.
Monaco declined repeated requests for comment, including detailed questions sent by email and text, though a former White House subordinate of hers rejected the task force members' description of her motives and actions.
The White House was driven by a broader set of concerns than the fate of the nuclear talks, the former White House official said, including the fear of reprisals by Hezbollah against the United States and Israel, and the need to maintain peace and stability in the Middle East.
Brennan also told POLITICO he was not commenting on any aspect of his CIA tenure. His former associates, however, said that he remained committed to preventing Hezbollah from committing terrorist acts, and that his decisions were based on an overall concern for U.S. security.
For their part, task force agents said they tried to work around the obstacles presented by the Justice and State Departments and the White House. Often, they chose to build relatively simple drug and weapons cases against suspects rather than the ambitious narcoterrorism prosecutions that required the approval of senior Justice Department lawyers, interviews and records show.
At the same time, though, they redoubled efforts to build a RICO RICO case The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act increases the severity of penalties for crimes committed in as part of organized crime. — case and gain Justice Department support for it.
Their ace in the hole, Kelly and Asher said they told Justice officials, wasn't some dramatic drug bust, but thousands of individual financial transactions, each of which constituted an overt criminal act under RICO. Much of this evidence grew out of the Lebanese Canadian Bank investigation, including details of how an army of couriers for years had been transporting billions of dollars in dirty U.S. cash from West African car dealerships to friendly banks in Beirut.
The couriers would begin their journeys at a four-star hotel in Lome, Togo, lugging suitcases stuffed with as much as $2 million each, Kelly said. And the task force was on the tail of every one of them, he said, thanks to an enterprising DEA agent who had found a way to get all of their cellphone numbers. ''They had no idea what we were doing,'' Kelly said. ''But that alone gave us all the slam-dunk evidence we needed'' for a RICO case against everyone involved in the conspiracy, including Hezbollah.
The couriers were lugging suitcases stuffed with as much as $2 million each, and the task force was on the tail of every one of them.
Such on-the-ground spadework, combined with its worldwide network of court-approved communications intercepts, gave Project Cassandra agents virtual omniscience over some aspects of the Hezbollah criminal network.
And from their perch in Chantilly, they watched with growing alarm as Hezbollah accelerated its global expansion that the drug money helped finance.
Both Hezbollah and Iran continued to build up their military arsenals and move thousands of soldiers and weapons into Syria. Aided by the U.S. military withdrawal from Iraq, Iran, with the help of Hezbollah, consolidated its control and influence over wide swaths of the war-ravaged country.
Iran and Hezbollah began making similar moves into Yemen and other Sunni-controlled countries. And their networks in Africa trafficked not just in drugs, weapons and used cars but diamonds, commercial merchandise and even human slaves, according to interviews with former Project Cassandra members and Treasury Department documents. Hezbollah and the Quds force also were moving into China and other new markets.
But Project Cassandra's agents were most alarmed, by far, by the havoc Hezbollah and Iran were wreaking in Latin America.
A Threat in America's BackyardIn the years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, when Washington's focus was elsewhere, Hezbollah and Iran cultivated alliances with governments along the ''cocaine corridor'' from the tip of South America to Mexico, to turn them against the United States.
The strategy worked in Bolivia, Ecuador and Venezuela, which evicted the DEA, shuttering strategic bases and partnerships that had been a bulwark in the U.S. counternarcotics campaign.
In Venezuela, President Hugo Chavez was personally working with then-Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and Hezbollah on drug trafficking and other activities aimed at undermining U.S. influence in the region, according to interviews and documents.
Former Venezuelan president
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Within a few years, Venezuelan cocaine exports skyrocketed from 50 tons a year to 250, much of it bound for American cities, United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime statistics show.
And beginning in 2007, DEA agents watched as a commercial jetliner from Venezuela's state-run Conviasa airline flew from Caracas to Tehran via Damascus, Syria, every week with a cargo-hold full of drugs and cash. They nicknamed it ''Aeroterror,'' they said, because the return flight often carried weapons and was packed with Hezbollah and Iranian operatives whom the Venezuelan government would provide with fake identities and travel documents on their arrival.
From there, the operatives spread throughout the subcontinent and set up shop in the many recently opened Iranian consulates, businesses and mosques, former Project Cassandra agents said.
But when the Obama administration had opportunities to secure the extradition of two of the biggest players in that conspiracy, it failed to press hard enough to get them extradited to the United States, where they would face charges, task force officials told POLITICO.
One was Syrian-born Venezuelan businessman Walid Makled, alias the ''king of kingpins,'' who was arrested in Colombia in 2010 on charges of shipping 10 tons of cocaine a month to the United States. While in custody, Makled claimed to have 40 Venezuelan generals on his payroll and evidence implicating dozens of top Venezuelan officials in drug trafficking and other crimes. He pleaded to be sent to New York as a protected, cooperating witness, but Colombia '-- a staunch U.S. ally '-- extradited him to Venezuela instead.
The other, retired Venezuelan general and former chief of intelligence Hugo Carvajal, was arrested in Aruba on U.S. drug charges. Carvajal ''was the main man between Venezuela and Iran, the Quds force, Hezbollah and the cocaine trafficking,'' Kelly said. ''If we had gotten our hands on either of them, we could have taken down the entire network.''
"If we had gotten our hands on either of them, we could have taken down the entire network."
'-- Kelly on the extradition of a top Venezuelan official and a drug kingpin.Instead, Venezuela was now the primary pipeline for U.S.-bound cocaine, thanks in part to the DEA's success in neighboring Colombia. It had also become a strategically invaluable staging area for Hezbollah and Iran in the United States' backyard, including camps they established to train Shiite militias.
And at the center of much of that activity was the Ghost The Ghost One of the most mysterious alleged associates of Safieddine, secretly indicted by the U.S., linked to multi-ton U.S.-bound cocaine loads and weapons shipments to Middle East. —, another suspected Safieddine associate so elusive that no photos of him were said to exist.
Project Cassandra agents came to regard the Ghost as perhaps the most important on-the-ground operator in the conspiracy because of his suspected role in moving drugs, money and munitions, including multi-ton loads of cocaine, into the United States, and WMD components to the Middle East, according to two former senior U.S. officials.
Now, he and Joumaa Ayman Saied Joumaa Accused drug kingpin and financier whose vast network allegedly smuggled tons of cocaine into the U.S. with Mexico's Zetas cartel and laundered money. — were living in Beirut, and Project Cassandra agents were so familiar with their routines that they knew at which cafe the two men gathered every morning to drink espresso and ''discuss drug trafficking, money laundering and weapons,'' one of the two former officials said.
The Ghost was also in business with another suspected Safieddine associate, Ali Fayad Ali Fayad (aka Fayyad). Ukraine-based arms merchant suspected of being a Hezbollah operative moving large amounts of weapons to Syria. —, who had long been instrumental in providing weapons to Shiite militias in Iraq, including through the deadly IED network that had killed so many U.S. troops, the former officials believed.
Now, they had information that Fayad, a joint Lebanese and Ukrainian citizen, and the Ghost were involved in moving conventional and chemical weapons into Syria for Hezbollah, Iran and Russia to help President Assad crush the insurgency against his regime. Adding to the mystery: Fayad served as a Ukrainian defense ministry adviser, worked for the state-owned arms exporter Ukrspecexport and appeared to have taken Bout Viktor Anatolyevich Bout Vladimir Putin's arms dealer, known as the "Lord of War." Convicted of conspiracy to sell millions of dollars worth of weapons to Colombian narcoterrorists. —'s place as Putin's go-to arms merchant, the former officials said.
So when Fayad's name surfaced in a DEA investigation in West Africa as a senior Hezbollah weapons trafficker, agents scrambled to create a sting operation, with undercover operatives posing as Colombian narcoterrorists plotting to shoot down American government helicopters.
Fayad was happy to offer his expert advice, and after agreeing to provide them with 20 Russian-made shoulder-fired Igla surface-to-air missiles, 400 rocket-propelled grenades and various firearms and rocket launchers for $8.3 million, he was arrested by Czech authorities on a U.S. warrant in April 2014, U.S. court records show.
The Fayad sting '-- and his unprecedented value as a potential cooperating witness '-- was just one of many reasons Project Cassandra members had good cause, finally, for optimism.
Part IIIAs negotiations for the Iran nuclear deal intensify, the administration pushes back against Project Cassandra.
M ore than a year into Obama's second term, many national security officials still disagreed with Kelly John ''Jack'' Kelly DEA agent overseeing Hezbollah cases at Special Operations Division, who named task force Project Cassandra after clashes with other U.S. agencies about Hezbollah drug-terror links. — and Asher about whether Hezbollah fully controlled a global criminal network, especially in drug trafficking and distribution, or merely profited from crimes by its supporters within the global Lebanese diaspora. But Project Cassandra's years of relentless investigation had produced a wealth of evidence about Hezbollah's global operations, a clear window into how its hierarchy worked and some significant sanctions by the Treasury Department.
A confidential DEA assessment from that period concluded that Hezbollah's business affairs entity ''has leveraged relationships with corrupt foreign government officials and transnational criminal actors '... creating a network that can be utilized to move metric ton quantities of cocaine, launder drug proceeds on a global scale, and procure weapons and precursors for explosives.''
Hezbollah's network moved "metric ton quantities of cocaine [to] launder drug proceeds on a global scale, and procure weapons and ... explosives."
Excerpt of a Confidential DEA assessmentHezbollah ''has at its disposal one of the most capable networks of actors coalescing elements of transnational organized crime with terrorism in the world,'' the assessment concluded.
Some top U.S. military officials shared those concerns, including the four-star generals heading U.S. Special Operations and Southern commands, who warned Congress that Hezbollah's criminal operations and growing beachhead in Latin America posed an urgent threat to U.S. security, according to transcripts of the hearings.
In early 2014, Kelly and other task force members briefed Attorney General Eric Holder, who was so alarmed by the findings that he insisted Obama and his entire national security team get the same briefing as they formulated the administration's Iran strategy.
So task force leaders welcomed the opportunity to attend a May 2014 summit meeting of Obama national security officials at Special Operations Command headquarters in Tampa, Florida. Task force leaders hoped to convince the administration of the threat posed by Hezbollah's networks, and of the need for other agencies to work with DEA in targeting the growing nexus of drugs, crime and terror.
The summit, and several weeks of interagency prep that preceded it, however, prompted even more pushback from some top national security officials. Monaco Lisa Monaco Lisa Monaco replaced John Brennan as the White House counterterrorism and homeland security adviser. —, Obama's counterterrorism adviser, expressed concerns about using RICO laws against top Hezbollah leaders and about the possibility of reprisals, according to several people familiar with the summit.
They said senior Obama administration officials appeared to be alarmed by how far Project Cassandra's investigations had reached into the leadership of Hezbollah and Iran, and wary of the possible political repercussions.
As a result, task force members claim, Project Cassandra was increasingly viewed as a threat to the administration's efforts to secure a nuclear deal, and the top-secret prisoner swap that was about to be negotiated.
Monaco's former subordinate, speaking under on condition of anonymity, said the White House did not attempt to curb DEA-led efforts against Hezbollah because of the Iran deal. But the subordinate said the White House felt a need to balance the drug agency's interests with those of other agencies who often disagreed with it.
Nonetheless, after the meeting in Tampa, the administration made it clear that it would not support a RICO case, even though Asher David Asher Veteran U.S. illicit finance expert sent from Pentagon to Project Cassandra to attack the alleged Hezbollah criminal enterprise. — and others say they'd spent years gathering evidence for it, the task force members said.
In addition, the briefings for top White House and Justice Department officials that had been requested by Holder never materialized, task force agents said. (Holder did not respond to requests for comment.) Also, a top intelligence official blocked the inclusion of Project Cassandra's memo on the Hezbollah drug threat from being included in Obama's daily threat briefing, they said. And Kelly, Asher and other agents said they stopped getting invitations to interagency meetings, including those of a top Obama transnational crime working group.
That may have been because Obama officials dropped Hezbollah from the formal list of groups targeted by a special White House initiative into transnational organized crime, which in turn effectively eliminated DEA's broad authority to investigate it overseas, task force members said.
''The funny thing is Tampa was supposed to settle how everyone would have a seat at the table and what the national strategy is going to be, and how clearly law enforcement has role,'' Jack Riley Jack Riley Top DEA special agent who helped run the drug agency during the Obama administration's tenure. —, who was the DEA's chief of operations at the time, told POLITICO. ''And the opposite happened. We walked away with nothing.''
Willfully blind to the threatAfter the Tampa meeting, Project Cassandra leaders pushed '' unsuccessfully, they said '' for greater support from the Obama administration in extraditing Fayad from the Czech Republic to New York for prosecution, and in locating and arresting the many high-value targets who went underground after hearing news of his arrest.
They also struck out repeatedly, they said, in obtaining the administration's approval for offering multimillion-dollar ''rewards for justice'' bounties of a type commonly issued for indicted kingpins like Joumaa, and for the administration to unseal the secret indictments of others, like the Ghost The Ghost One of the most mysterious alleged associates of Safieddine, secretly indicted by the U.S., linked to multi-ton U.S.-bound cocaine loads and weapons shipments to Middle East. —, to improve the chances of catching them.
And task force officials pushed the Obama team, also unsuccessfully, to use U.S. aid money and weapons sales as leverage to push Lebanon into adopting an extradition treaty and handing over all of the indicted Hezbollah suspects living openly in the country, they said.
''There were ways of getting these guys if they'd let us,'' Kelly said.
Frustrated, he wrote another of his emails to DEA leaders in July 2014, asking for help.
The email stated that the used-car money-laundering scheme was flourishing in the United States and Africa. The number of vehicles being shipped to Benin had more than doubled from December 2011 to 2014, he wrote, with one dealership alone receiving more than $4 million.
And despite the DEA's creation of a multi-agency ''Iran-Hezbollah Super Facilitator Initiative'' in 2013, Kelly said, only the Department of Homeland Security's Customs and Border Patrol was sharing information and resources.
''The FBI and other parts of the USG [U.S. government] provide a little or no assistance during our investigations,'' Kelly wrote in the email. ''The USG lack of action on this issue has allowed [Hezbollah] to become one of the biggest transnational organized crime groups in the world.''
Around this time, people outside Project Cassandra began noting that senior administration officials were increasingly suspicious of it.
Subject: Email subject unknown
'... The USG lack of action on this issue has allowed Hizballah to become one of the
biggest Transnational Organized Crime groups in the world. As we have shown in our investigations the Super Facilitator network uses this criminal activity to provide massive support to the Iranian Hizballah Threat Network and other terror groups helping fuel conflict in some of the most sensitive regions in the world.
See below string of emails for an example of how long DOJ has been under-performing on this issue to the detriment of national security...
Email recreation
Douglas Farah, a transnational crime analyst, said he tried to raise the Project Cassandra investigations with Obama officials in order to corroborate his own on-the-ground research, without success. ''When it looked like the [nuclear] agreement might actually happen, it became clear that there was no interest in dealing with anything about Iran or Hezbollah on the ground that it may be negative, that it might scare off the Iranians,'' said Farah.
Asher, meanwhile, said he and others began hearing ''from multiple people involved in the Iran discussions that this Hezbollah stuff was definitely getting in the way of a successful negotiation,'' he said. One Obama national security official even said so explicitly in the same State Department meeting in which he boasted about how the administration was bringing together a broad coalition in the Middle East, including Hezbollah, to fight the Islamic State terrorist group, Asher recalled.
Indeed, the United States was seeking Iran's help in taking on the Islamic State. As the nuclear deal negotiations were intensifying ahead of a November 2014 diplomatic deadline, Obama himself secretly wrote to Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, to say the two countries had a mutual interest in fighting Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Kerry, who was overseeing the negotiations, rejected suggestions that the nuclear deal was linked to other issues affecting the U.S-Iranian relationship.
''The nuclear negotiations are on their own,'' he told reporters. ''They're standing separate from anything else. And no discussion has ever taken place about linking one thing to another.''
''The nuclear negotiations are on their own. They're standing separate from anything else.''
'-- Secretary of State John Kerry to reporters.But even some former CIA officials said the negotiations were affecting their dealings in the Middle East and those of the DEA.
DEA operations in the Middle East were shut down repeatedly due to political sensitivities, especially in Lebanon, according to one former CIA officer working in the region. He said pressure from the White House also prompted the CIA to declare ''a moratorium'' on covert operations against Hezbollah in Lebanon, too, for a time, after the administration received complaints from Iranian negotiators.
''During the negotiations, early on, they [the Iranians] said listen, we need you to lay off Hezbollah, to tamp down the pressure on them, and the Obama administration acquiesced to that request,'' the former CIA officer told POLITICO. ''It was a strategic decision to show good faith toward the Iranians in terms of reaching an agreement.''
The Obama team ''really, really, really wanted the deal,'' the former officer said.
The Obama team ''really, really, really wanted the deal.''
'-- Former CIA officer on how intelligence operations were also impacted by negotiations with Iran.As a result, ''We were making concessions that had never been made before, which is outrageous to anyone in the agency,'' the former intelligence officer said, adding that the orders from Washington especially infuriated CIA officers in the field who knew that Hezbollah ''was still doing assassinations and other terrorist activities.''
That allegation was contested vehemently by the former senior Obama national security official who played a role in the Iran nuclear negotiations. ''That the Iranians would ask for a favor in this realm and that we would acquiesce is ludicrous,'' he said.
Nonetheless, feeling that he had few options left, Asher went public with his concerns at a congressional hearing in May 2015 saying, ''the Department of Justice should seek to indict and prosecute'' Hezbollah's Islamic Jihad Organization as an international conspiracy using the RICO RICO case The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act increases the severity of penalties for crimes committed in as part of organized crime. — statute. That was the only way, he testified, for U.S. officials to ''defeat narcoterrorism financing, including that running right through the heart of the American financial system,'' as Hezbollah was doing with the used-cars scheme.
The nuclear deal was signed in July 2015, and formally implemented on Jan. 17, 2016. A week later, almost two years after his arrest, Czech officials finally released Fayad to Lebanon in exchange for five Czech citizens that Hezbollah operatives had kidnapped as bargaining chips.
Unlike in the case of Bout Viktor Anatolyevich Bout Vladimir Putin's arms dealer, known as the "Lord of War." Convicted of conspiracy to sell millions of dollars worth of weapons to Colombian narcoterrorists. —, the former arms trafficker for Putin, neither Obama nor other senior White House officials made personal pleas for the extradition of Fayad, task force officials said. Afterward, the U.S. Embassy in the Czech Republic issued a statement saying, ''We are dismayed by the Czech government's decision.''
For the task force, Fayad's release was one of the biggest blows yet. Some agents told POLITICO that Fayad's relationships with Hezbollah, Latin American drug cartels and the governments of Iran, Syria and Russia made him a critically important witness in any RICO prosecution and in virtually all of their ongoing investigations.
''He is one of the very few people who could describe for us the workings of the operation at the highest levels,'' Kelly said. ''And the administration didn't lift a finger to get him back here.''
One senior Obama administration official familiar with the case said it would be a stretch to link the Fayad case to the Iran deal, even if the administration didn't lobby aggressively enough to have Fayad extradited to the United States.
''I guess it's possible that they [the White House] didn't want to try hard because of the Iran deal but I don't have memories of it,'' said the former official. ''Clearly there were things that the Obama administration did to keep the negotiations alive, prudent negotiating tactics to keep the Iranians at the table. But to be fair, there was a lot of shit we did during the Iran deal negotiations that pissed the Iranians off.''
Afterward, Czech President Milos Zeman told local media he had freed Fayad Ali Fayad (aka Fayyad). Ukraine-based arms merchant suspected of being a Hezbollah operative moving large amounts of weapons to Syria. — at the personal request of Putin, a close ally of both the Czech Republic and Iran, who had lobbied hard for his release in a series of phone calls like the ones Project Cassandra officials were hoping Obama would make.
A week later, European authorities, working with the DEA and U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, arrested an undisclosed number of Hezbollah-related suspects in France and neighboring countries on charges of using drug trafficking money to procure weapons for use in Syria.
In announcing the arrests, the DEA and the Justice Department disclosed for the first time the existence of Project Cassandra, as well as its target, the drug-and weapons-trafficking unit known as Hezbollah's Business Affairs Component. In a news release, DEA also said the business entity ''currently operates under the control of Abdallah Safieddine'' and Tabaja Adham Tabaja Lebanese businessman, alleged co-leader of Hezbollah Business Affairs Component and key figure directly tying Hezbollah's commercial and terrorist activities. —.
Jack Riley Jack Riley Top DEA special agent who helped run the drug agency during the Obama administration's tenure. —, the DEA's acting deputy administrator, said in the news release that Hezbollah's criminal operations ''provide a revenue and weapons stream for an international terrorist organization responsible for devastating terror attacks around the world.''
Riley described the operation as ''ongoing,'' saying ''DEA and our partners will continue to dismantle networks who exploit the nexus between drugs and terror using all available law enforcement mechanisms.''
But Kelly and some other agents had already come to believe that the arrests would be a last hurrah for the task force, as it was crumbling under pressure from U.S. officials eager to keep the newly implemented Iran deal intact. That's why Project Cassandra members insisted on including Safieddine Abdallah Safieddine Hezbollah's longtime envoy to Iran who allegedly oversaw the group's ''Business Affairs Component'' involved in international drug trafficking. —'s name in the media releases. They wanted it in the public record, in case they had no further opportunity to expose the massive conspiracy they believed he had been overseeing.
A last hurrahThe news release caused a stir. The CIA was furious that Project Cassandra went public with details of Hezbollah's business operations. And the French government called off a joint news conference planned to announce the arrests. Kelly John ''Jack'' Kelly DEA agent overseeing Hezbollah cases at Special Operations Division, who named task force Project Cassandra after clashes with other U.S. agencies about Hezbollah drug-terror links. —, who was already in Paris awaiting the news conference, said European authorities told him the French didn't want to offend Iran, which just 11 days after the nuclear deal implementation had agreed to buy 118 French Airbus aircraft worth about $25 billion.
Two weeks later, after firing off another angry email or two, Kelly said he was told by his superiors that he was being transferred against his wishes to a gang unit at DEA headquarters. He retired months later on the first day he was eligible.
Several other key agents and analysts also transferred out on their own accord, in some cases in order to receive promotions, or after being told by DEA leaders that they had been at the Special Operations Division for too long, according to Kelly, Asher, Maltz and others.
Meanwhile, the administration was resisting demands that it produce a long-overdue intelligence assessment that Congress had requested as a way of finally resolving the interagency dispute over Hezbollah's role in drug trafficking and organized crime.
It wasn't just a bureaucratic exercise. More than a year earlier, Congress '' concerned that the administration was whitewashing the threat posed by Hezbollah '' passed the Hizballah International Financing Prevention Act. That measure required the White House to lay out in writing its plans for designating Hezbollah a ''significant transnational criminal organization.''
The White House delegated responsibility for the report to the office of the director of National Intelligence, prompting immediate accusations by the task force and its allies that the administration was stacking the deck against such a determination, and against Project Cassandra, given the intelligence community's doubts about the DEA's conclusions about Hezbollah's drug-running.
''Given the group's ever-lengthening criminal rap sheet around the world, designating it as a TCO [Transnational Criminal Organization] has become an open-and-shut case,'' Matthew Levitt Matthew Levitt Former top Treasury financial intelligence official, FBI analyst whose book on Hezbollah and its global activities sounded early alarms about its drug trafficking. —, a former senior Treasury official, said of Hezbollah in an April 2016 policy paper for a Washington think tank.
Agents from Project Cassandra and other law enforcement agencies ''investigate criminal activities as a matter of course and are therefore best positioned to judge whether a group has engaged in transnational organized crime,'' wrote Levitt, who is also a former FBI analyst and author of a respected book on Hezbollah. ''Intelligence agencies are at a disadvantage in this regard, so the DNI's forthcoming report should reflect the repeated findings of law enforcement, criminal courts, and Treasury designations.''
As expected, the administration's final report, which remains classified, significantly downplayed Hezbollah's operational links to drug trafficking, which in turn further marginalized the DEA's role in fighting it, according to a former Justice Department official and others familiar with the report.
Once the Obama administration left office, in January 2017, the logjam of task force cases appeared to break, and several task force members said it wasn't a coincidence.
An alleged top Hezbollah financier, Kassim Tajideen Kassim Tajideen An alleged top financier for Hezbollah, whose global business empire allegedly acted as a key source of funds for its global terror network. —, was arrested in Morocco '-- seven years after Treasury officials blacklisted him as a sponsor of terror '-- and flown to Washington to stand trial. Asher said task force agents had kept his case under wraps, hoping for a better outcome in whatever administration succeeded Obama's.
The Trump administration also designated Venezuelan Vice President Tareck Aissami Tareck El Aissami Venezuelan vice president involved in alleged decade-long drugs, weapons and fake passport conspiracy between Caracas government, Hezbollah and Iran. — as a global narcotics kingpin, almost a decade after DEA agents became convinced he was Hezbollah's point man within the Chavez, and then Maduro, regimes.
Ironically, many senior career intelligence officials now freely acknowledge that the task force was right all along about Hezbollah's operational involvement in drug trafficking. ''It dates back many years,'' said one senior Directorate of National Intelligence official.
Meanwhile, Hezbollah '-- in league with Iran, Russia and the Assad regime '-- has all but overwhelmed the opposition groups in Syria, including those backed by the United States. Hezbollah continues to help train Shiite militants in other hotspots and to undermine U.S. efforts in Iraq, according to U.S. officials. It also continues its expansion in Latin America and, DEA officials said, its role in trafficking cocaine and other drugs into the United States. And it is believed to be the biggest trafficker of the powerful stimulant drug Captagon that is being used by fighters in Syria on all sides.
Progress has been made on other investigations and prosecutions, current and former officials said. But after an initial flurry of interest in resurrecting Project Cassandra, the Trump administration has been silent on the matter. In all of the Trump administration's public condemnations of Hezbollah and Iran, the subject of drug trafficking hasn't come up.
In West Africa, satellite imagery has documented that the Hezbollah used-car money-laundering operation is bigger than ever, Asher told lawmakers in recent testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Hezbollah's used-car money-laundering operation in West Africa
Satellite images show the growth of used cars in lots close to Port of Cotonou in Benin.
Hezbollah used-car money-laundering operation in West Africa
Satellite images show the growth of used cars in lots close to Port of Cotonou in Benin.
Hezbollah's used-car money-laundering operation in West Africa
Satellite images show the growth of used cars in lots close to Port of Cotonou in Benin.
Hezbollah's used-car money-laundering operation in West Africa
Satellite images show the growth of used cars in lots close to Port of Cotonou in Benin.
Hezbollah's used-car money-laundering
operation in West Africa
Satellite images show the growth of used cars
in lots close to Port of Cotonou in Benin.
Hezbollah's used-car money-laundering operation in West Africa
Satellite images show the growth of used cars in lots close to Port of Cotonou in Benin.
Source: Google Earth And Hezbollah continues to scout potential U.S. targets for attack if it decides Washington has crossed some red line against it or Iran. On June 1, federal authorities arrested two alleged Hezbollah operatives who were conducting ''pre-operational surveillance'' on possible targets for attack, including the FBI headquarters in New York and the U.S. and Israeli embassies in Panama.
''They are a global threat, particularly if the Trump relationships turn sour'' with Iran, Syria and Russia, said Magnus Ranstorp, one of the world's foremost Hezbollah experts.
The June arrests ''bring into sharp focus that the Iranians are making contingency plans for when the U.S. turns up the heat on Iran,'' said Ranstorp, research director of the Center for Asymmetric Threat Studies at the Swedish National Defence College, who is in frequent contact with U.S. intelligence officials. ''If they think it requires some military or terrorist response, they have been casing targets in the U.S. since the late 1990s.''
Ranstorp said U.S. intelligence officials believe that Hezbollah's U.S.-based surveillance is far more extensive than has been publicly disclosed, and that they are particularly concerned about the battle-hardened operatives who have spent years on the ground in Syria.
Maltz Derek Maltz Senior DEA official who as head of Special Operations Division lobbied for support for Project Cassandra and its investigations. —, the longtime head of DEA Special Operations, who retired two months after the Tampa summit in 2014, has lobbied since then for better interagency cooperation on Hezbollah, to tackle both the terrorist threat and the criminal enterprise that underwrites it.
Turf battles, especially the institutional conflict between law enforcement and intelligence agencies, contributed to the demise of Project Cassandra, Maltz said. But many Project Cassandra agents insist the main reason was a political choice to prioritize the Iranian nuclear agreement over efforts to crack down on Hezbollah.
''They will believe until death that we were shut down because of the Iran deal,'' Maltz said. ''My gut feeling? My instinct as a guy doing this for 28 years is that it certainly contributed to why we got pushed aside and picked apart. There is no doubt in my mind.''
Design and development by Tyler Fisher, Jeremy C.F. Lin, Janet Michaud and Lily Mihalik. Photos of world leaders via Getty.
The Dodd Report
Lines of Credit: Ropes of Bondage
Tue, 19 Dec 2017 03:20
PREFACE
INTRODUCTION
CHAPTER ONE: COMMUNISM: AN ANTI-CHRISTIAN CONSPIRACY
Winston Churchill identifies the conspiracy
Adam Weishaupt and the Bavarian Illuminati
Rousseau, Voltaire and anti-Christian doctrine
Whittaker Chambers reveals age of conspiracy
CHAPTER TWO: THE FRENCH REVOLUTION OF 1789
Conspiracy and created grievances
Warning about Jacobins in America
Yale President Timothy Dwight in 1798 warns of Illuminati-inspired chaos and terror
Grand Orient Lodge member warns of fanatical universal revolution
Influence of Feuerbach and Hegel on Marx
CHAPTER THREE: THE SPECTRE THAT STILL HAUNTS EUROPE
Marx, Engels, and the Communist Manifesto
Marx's hatred of God and man
Hallmark of all communists
Marx a sick and disturbed man
Marx plans for many revolutions
The graduated income tax a Marxist must
CHAPTER FOUR: BANKERS AND BOXCARS
Lenin and Trotsky and the plot to destroy Christian civilization
Kuhn-Loeb bankers finance communist revolution
Why a second revolution in Russia in 1917
The ultimate motives of communists and their financiers
Lenin and the demonic dictatorship
CHAPTER FIVE: COMPULSION FOR COMMUNISM
Armand Hammer½his Odessa roots
Julius Hammer and his compulsion for communism
Lenin meets Hammer
Julius Hammer chairs extremist Socialist Party
Sen. Metzenbaum opposes a Christian America
Patrick Buchanan and the war for the soul
CHAPTER SIX: WORLD COMMUNISM & THE MONEY CONNECTION
American J. H. Rubin helps establish Soviet Government
Otto Kahn, Jacob Schiff, Felix Warburg, financiers of communist revolution
Percy Rockefeller and the communist revolution
League for Industrial Democracy and Otto Kahn
Mrs. Otto Kahn receives red carpet in Moscow
Woodrow Wilson's assist to Leon Trotsky
A director of the New York Federal Reserve Bank finances The Bolsheviks
David Rockefeller, the Chase Manhattan Bank and the Bolsheviks
Amtorg and USTEC
CHAPTER SEVEN: GLOBALIST INTRIGUES OF THE ELITIST COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS
Sen. Fulbright supports a ruling "Elite"
Walter Lippman on the need to manipulate pubic opinion
Col. E M. House, the League of Nations and the origins of the Council on Foreign Relations
Carnegie Endowment, Rockefeller Foundation & CFR make US foreign policy
Otto Kahn, Paul Warburg, Allen Dulles, CFR directors
Rockefeller family and foundations fund CFR
CFR begins to manipulate U.S. State Dept 1939
Alger Hiss and Wilson's son-in-law
FDR told of Hiss's activities as a Soviet spy
First Secretary General of U.N.½a Soviet agent
U.N. charter favors Soviet Union
U.N. and the Rockefellers
Hiss trial reveals powerful friends
Some past and present cabinet officials with CFR credentials
CHAPTER EIGHT: TRANSMISSION BELTS FOR COMMUNIST PROPAGANDA
Congressional committee investigates foundation funding of communism
Moscow uses some U.S. foundations as transmission-belts for communist line
Communists use music to influence youth
Rockefeller money funds communists
CHAPTER NINE: A DIABOLICAL CONSPIRACY
Alger Hiss and the Carnegie Endowment
Evidence of a diabolical conspiracy
Ford Foundation money used against Congress
Capitalist money used to destroy capitalism
CHAPTER TEN: FOUNDATION-FUNDED NON-BLOODY REVOLUTION
Trustees of a "peace" foundation want war
Foundation plans to alter American ethos
Foundation trustees want to control educational curricula
Non-bloody U.S. Revolution: 1933-36
Consequences of Wilson-House failed mission
FDR, Alger Hiss, and significance of U.N.
CHAPTER ELEVEN: AN ADMISSION OF CONSPIRACY AND A DEATH THREAT FOR SILENCE
Foundation president admits conspiracy
Plans to merge U.S. and USSR
White House and OSS involvement
The most powerful organization in America
The death threat
Sam Rayburn uses Wayne Hays in cover-up
CHAPTER TWELVE: LINES OF CREDIT: ROPES OF BONDAGE
Lenin's NEP foreshadows Gorbachev's perestroika
Lenin's NEP sets stage for Stalin's mass murders
U.S. companies joint ventures with Soviets
U.S.-USSR Trade and Economic Council (USTEC)
USTEC's Soviet members are KGB agents
USTEC's U.S. defense corporate members are Soviet espionage targets
FBI refers to USTEC as suspected spy apparatus
CIA data on Soviet forgeries
Chase Manhattan chief source of funds for Soviet Amtorg
Americans build Soviet war machine
CONCLUSION
PREFACELINES OF CREDIT: ROPES OF BONDAGE is about the financiers, their fellow conspirators and the plot to destroy Western Christian civilization. It was written for the concerned American½not for the skeptic.
In likelihood, the skeptic will, without ever having read it, dismiss this½with a roll of the eyes and wave of the hand while at the same time declaring it to he outrageous fiction½just another attempt to promote the "conspiracy theory of history."
Quite honestly, I did not write LINES OF CREDIT: ROPES OF BONDAGE with a hope or intention of convincing those "doubting Thomases" who, unlike the Apostle Thomas who finally believed, will continue to deny the existence of the conspiracy in spite of overwhelming and conclusive evidence to the contrary. Actually these skeptics are important to the conspirators; they are the "useful idiots" so cherished by Lenin.
Primarily, this work was written for anyone who suspects that there is much more to modern European and American history than can be learned from the standard and approved history textbooks. This work is written for the Godfearing citizen who finds it difficult to believe that our country fought two world wars and spilled the blood of our sons supposedly to make the world free for all mankind, when in actuality we made it possible for two bloodiest empires in history to enslave over a fourth of the world's people in godless communism.
In this work we have tried to answer some obvious questions. why, who, where, what, when. Why is there a conspiracy? Who are some of the conspirators? Where does the funding come from? What is the motivation? When did it all begin? In such a brief work, we don't pretend to present all of the answers or name all of the conspirators or their naive "useful idiots.'
The late Congressman Carroll Reece (R-TN) chaired a congressional committee which investigated the spending patterns of some major tax-exempt foundations and concluded that there was evidence of a "diabolical conspiracy" to enslave America. The assertion that this conspiracy is a plot to overthrow Western Christian civilization is borne out by the evidence.
This work is nothing more or less, than a primer about the players and payers in the plot. Hopefully, the reader will be provided with an understanding of certain international events which otherwise would be inexplicable.
In this case, although the truth may or may not set us free, it can help us understand why we are gradually losing our freedoms and being eased into a one-world socialist federation/government where Christianity is considered a superstition for the under-educated.
During the darkest days of World War II, the very survival of Britain was at stake when Prime Minister Winston Churchill rallied the nation against an implacable foe. His famous "V" for victory signal was recognized around the world and became symbolic of a people unwilling to surrender to an evil oppressor. Twenty years earlier, Churchill had warned of an even greater threat; but his words went unheeded.
In a 1920 magazine article, Winston Churchill spoke of "this world-wide conspiracy for the overthrow of civilization and for the reconstruction of society." Tragically, for the entire human race in general and Western Christian civilization in particular, Churchill's caveat was heard by too few, and understood by fewer still.
Churchill's World War II ally, Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) either failed or refused to understand that a communist conspiracy threatened the West, including America; his chief foreign policy advisor for the crucial Yalta Summit with Joe Stalin had already been identified as a Soviet agent. When told by fellow Democrat Martin Dies that some of his most sensitive appointments were communists, FDR angrily retorted, "Several of the best friends I have are communists."
The French writer George Sand once wrote that "universal revolution" was the goal of the conspirators who had reached the "point of fanaticism." Certainly Karl Marx's fanaticism had reached the level of madness when he declared "I hate all the gods."
If communism is anything, it is madness. It is a fatally flawed system which denies the existence of God, the dignity of man and the freedom of the marketplace. To the communist leader, the end always justifies the means, which was amply demonstrated by Deng Tsiao-ping in Peking's Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989, when over 2,500 peaceful demonstrators, many of whom were students asleep in tents, were systematically slaughtered. Some were machine-gunned; others were crushed by tanks. Some of the medical personnel tending the injured were shot in the back.
Deng's mentor, Mao Tse-tung, believed and taught as have all communist leaders that "political power grows out of the barrel of a gun. So, the Tiananmen Square massacre, like the Gorbachev-sanctioned massacre of Georgians in April of '89, should have surprised no one. Communists were acting predictably like communists.
What is surprising however, is that for almost a century, wealthy capitalists have financed the communist conspiracy both here and abroad. Historian George Knupffer's suspicion that this alliance smelled "of treason and collusion between alleged opponents," was subsequently confirmed when a U.S. Communist Party official bragged to his comrades, "We are using capitalist money to destroy capitalism."
This treatise deals with the atheistic conspiracy and its strange appeal to Western capitalists, international bankers, and certain influential U.S. leaders who have made continuing efforts to substitute humanism for Christianity and a socialist economy for the free marketplace, thereby changing life in America "so as to make possible a merger with the Soviet Union."
Chapter OneCOMMUNISM: AN ANTI-CHRISTIAN CONSPIRACY
IN 1920, as Lenin and his band of Bolsheviks were brutally solidifying their stranglehold on the Russian peasants, Winston Churchill wrote, "From the days of Spartacus-Weishaupt to those of Karl Marx, down to Trotsky (Russia), Bela Kun (Hungary), Rosa Luxemburg (Germany) and Emma Goldman (USA), this world-wide conspiracy for the overthrow of civilization and for the reconstruction of society on the basis of arrested development, of envious malevolence, and impossible equality, has been steadily growing. It played . . . a definitely recognizable part in the tragedy of the French Revolution. It has been the mainspring of every subversive movement, during the Nineteenth Century; and now, at last, this band of extraordinary personalities from the underworld of the great cities of Europe and America have gripped the Russian people by the hair of their heads and have become practically the undisputed masters of that enormous empire." (ILLUSTRATED SUNDAY HERALD, February 8, 1920.)
Many students of atheistic communism are under the impression that Marx started the movement about the time he wrote the Communist Manifesto in 1848, when actually, the fires of communist revolution had already been smoldering in Europe for at least seventy-five years. Significantly Churchill charged that this subversive conspiracy "played a definitely recognizable part in the tragedy of the French Revolution."
However, Churchill gives first place among communist revolutionaries not to Marx, but to "Spartacus-Weishaupt."
Wieshaupt, born in Germany in 1748, received his early training from the Jesuits and although inspired by their organizational ability, nevertheless developed an intense hatred for their religious order. "He turned with eagerness to the subversive teaching of the French philosophers [Rousseau and Voltaire] and the anti-Christian doctrines of the Manicheans," wrote British historian Nesta Webster (WORLD REVOLUTION). Wieshaupt was greatly influenced by Voltaire who was described by J. Cretineau-Joly as "the most perfect incarnation of satan that the world has ever seen."
In Ingoldstadt, on May 1, 1776, Adam Weishaupt adopted the alias "Spartacus" when he organized the Bavarian Illuminati, a secret revolutionary society which later was headquartered in Munich.
Weishaupt, like Rousseau, held that civilization was a mistake. And like Voltaire, he believed that man should return to raw nature, love of God, love of country and love of family must give way to an intense hatred of Christ and a vague concept of love for a universal happy family always, of course, under the watchful eyes and forceful direction of the elitist Illuminati. Weishaupt predicted that mankind, in this natural state unhindered by Christianity, patriotism and love of one's family, would reach "its highest perfection" and ultimately develop "the capacity for governing itself."
Publicly, Marx made similar predictions that after a perfect state of atheistic communism was reached, government would wither away. However, in private, Weishaupt and his ideological descendants Marx and Lenin, expressed the belief that the average man was too stupid to govern himself and that a self-appointed inner-circle or Illuminati would secretly rule.
Until Bavarian police discovered Illumnist documents on the person of a dead courier, Weishaupt had operated secretly so as not to alert the authorities. His inner-circle adepts infiltrated and manipulated other European secret societies in order to avoid discovery, build power, influence minds and convert sympathizers. They took aliases like "Spartacus"; they used misleading language or doubletalk; they denied the existence of the Illuminati when questioned by governments; they lied when it served their purposes; and like modern-day communists, they used any means, no matter how brutal, immoral, or illegal, to achieve their ends the absolute destruction of Christian civilization, and the creation of a BRAVE NEW WORLD in an atheistic new age where, in the name of humanism, illumined man would perfect and worship himself.
The late Whittaker Chambers after his long agonizing search for truth, finally realized that man's ultimate happiness could be found only in Christianity, not in communism. He wrote that the humanistic-communist conspiracy 'is not new. It is, in fact, man's second oldest faith. Its promise was whispered in the first days of the Creation under the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil: 'Ye shall be as Gods.'
Chapter TwoTHE FRENCH REVOLUTION OF 1789
FREQUENTLY, the French Revolution of 1789 is compared to the 1776 American war for independence. It has even been suggested that the French were inspired to action by the American example. Nothing could be further from reality: the God-fearing American colonialists wanted to free their land from foreign government; the French Revolution, on the other hand, was the conscious result of a godless conspiratorial plotting and of created grievances.
"To whatever agency we attribute it, however, the mechanism of the French Revolution distinguishes it from all previous revolutions . . . But in the French Revolution we see for the first time that plan in operation which has been carried on right up to the present moment½the systematic attempt to create grievances in order to exploit them," wrote Nesta Webster (WORLD REVOLUTION).
Adam Weishaupt's revolutionary and atheistic Illuminati had spread its tenacles throughout Europe after he and his secret society were banned in Bavaria. Weishaupt spent several years in Paris where the Illuminati, the Jacobins and members of Grand Orient Lodge, inspired by the writings of Rousseau and Voltaire, plotted the French Revolution.
At Charlestown, S.C. on May 9,1798, the Rev. Jedediah Morse preached this remarkable sermon on the Illuminati: "Practically all of the civil and ecclesiastical establishments of Europe have already been shaken to their foundations by this terrible organization; the French Revolution itself is doubtless to be traced to its machinations . . . The Jacobins are nothing more nor less than the open manifestation of the hidden system of the Illuminati. The order has its branches established and its emissaries at work in America. The affiliated Jacobin societies in America have doubtless had as the object of their establishment the propagation of the principles of the illuminated mother club in France."
Morse's warning of the secret conspiracy was not an isolated incident. No less a personage than the president of Yale University, the Rev. Timothy Dwight, in July 1798 spoke to New Raven churchgoers of his deep concern about the influence of the Illuminati and the outrages of the French Revolution, "no impious sentiment of action against God has been spared; no malignant hostility against Christ and his religion has been unattempted. Justice, truth, kindness, piety, and moral obligation universally have been not merely trodden underfoot . . . but ridiculed, spurned, and insulted . . . Is it that we may see the Bible cast into a bonfire, the vessels of the sacramental supper borne by an ass in public procession, and our children either wheedled or terrified, uniting in the mob, chanting mockeries against God and hailing to the sounds of the 'ca ira' the ruin of their religion and the loss of their souls? Shall our sons become the disciples of Voltaire and . . . our daughters the concubines of the Illuminati?"
The blasphemies against God, the desecration of churches, the massacre of clergy, the rape of nuns, the beheading of innocent persons solely because of their class, the pillaging of private property, the burning of libraries, and the destruction of the Christian monarchy½all of these violent cruelties first took place on a grand scale during the French Revolution and the subsequent "Reign of Terror." Robespierre, revolutionary leader and disciple of Weishaupt and Rousseau, introduced the tactic of class warfare during the French Revolution.
The French Revolution set the pattern for future communist revolutions and it bequeathed its godlessness to Karl Marx who, by 1838, at the age of 20 had become an atheist. In 1843 he moved to Paris where he immersed himself in a study of the French communists and their revolution against Christian civilization. On the subject of the French revolutionaries, George Sand, member of the French Grand Orient lodge, wrote, "It [the conspiracy] was maturing in the minds of believers to the point of fanaticism, in the form of a dream of universal revolution . . ."
Karl Marx was just such a fanatic. Inspired by the materialism of Ludwig Feuerbach and the dialectics of G. F. W. Hegel, Marx and his collaborator Friedrich Engels developed the "science" of communism (i.e. Marxism) which would inspire revolutionary fanatics of the future.
Chapter ThreeTHE SPECTRE THAT STILL HAUNTS EUROPE
IN 1848 Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels wrote the Manifesto of the Communist Party which began, "A spectre is haunting Europe½the spectre of Communism. All the powers of Europe have entered into a holy alliance to exorcise this spectre; Pope and Czar, Metternich and Guizot . . . Communism is already acknowledged by all European powers to be itself a Power. It is high time that communists should openly, in the face of the whole world, publish their views, their aims, their tendencies, and meet this nursery tale of the Spectre of Communism with a manifesto.
Karl Marx, who co-authored the Communist Manifesto which changed the course of history, was a man inspired and motivated not by love but by an intense all-consuming hatred of God and his fellow man.
The cause and development of this fanatical, even maniacal hatred, was in part rooted in his childhood.
Born May 5, 1818, in the Rhenish town of Trier, Marx lived until 1883. According to Sidney Hook in THE AMBIGUOUS LEGACY, "On both sides of his family he was descended from a long line of Jewish rabbis. For social reasons, Marx's father became converted to protestantism and his son grew up without any consciousness of himself as being Jewish . . . Marx attended briefly the University of Bonn and then the University of Berlin where he developed strong intellectual interests in law, philology, and theology. Upon the completion of his doctorate, he was made editor of the Rheinische Zeitung, which was shortly suppressed because of its advanced liberal views."
Dr. Agnes Murphy in her book AN EVIL TREE presents a different perspective of Marx. She asserts that Marx reacted irrationally to his father's conversion from Judaism to Christianity. "As the intelligent and temperamental Karl grew older, he . . . felt keenly the hypocrisy he had to assume. He began to hate both Jew and non-Jew. This experience was probably the first contribution to the reservoir of hate which he was to build in his soul as he grew from youth to manhood to old age."
Herschel Marx wrote letters to his son Karl in which he expressed his deep gloom and terrifying fear about his son's future because of young Marx's excessive egotism and total lack of love for his parents. By the time he was 20, Karl had decided that there was nothing in the universe except that which could be weighed and measured. Therefore, he had no soul to save and no God to interfere with his liberty. He had become a hate-filled atheist declaring, "I hate all the gods."
This is the contradictory hallmark of communists: as avowed atheists, they deny the existence of God and yet they emphatically declare their hatred of God. According to the late J. Edgar Hoover, Marx "called for war against religion, a war that was to become the cornerstone of communist philosophy."
On June 12, 1843 Marx married his hometown sweetheart Jenny von Westphalen, the daughter of a prominent and successful government official in Trier. In spite of having a loving wife and growing family, Marx, refused to work regularly for a living. Hook wrote that the wealthy Engels not only collaborated with Marx in the development of the theory of communism but also "relieved the burden of crushing poverty on Marx's family. Exiled from Paris, Marx went to Brussels where he joined the Communist League and on the eve of the Revolution of 1848 wrote the Communist Manifesto. He took a lively part in helping to organize [that] Revolution . . . in Western Europe, [and] was banished from Brussels, arrested, tried and freed in Germany, and compelled to leave France again. He finally found political asylum in London, where he spent the rest of his life."
Despite handouts from Engels and occasional fees for articles for the NEW YORK TRIBUNE, Marx lived in squalor, was often sick, and suffered from boils and rheumatism. Jenny's health failed and her seventh child was stillborn. When another child, Franziska, died in infancy, there was not enough money for a funeral and so a neighbor gave them a pittance for a small coffin. Often, Jenny kept their remaining children alive by feeding them nothing more than bread and potatoes. Ironically, Marx, whose Manifesto called for the abolition of all inheritance, was hoping for the quick death of Jenny's uncle so they would inherit his money.
"But Marx was stubborn," wrote Hoover. In spite of the tremendous suffering and deprivations to which he subjected Jenny and his children, his thoughts and concerns, his writings and work, were always about revolution and communism.
According to a 1960 U.S. Congressional report on the history of communism, after the revolution of 1848, Marx "began to prepare systematically the ground for further revolutionary upheavals."
In their Manifesto, Marx and Engels enumerated the goals for a successful communist revolution. The following are four of their specific proposals with the author's comments in parentheses:
"A heavy progressive or graduated income tax"; (a graduated income tax was first passed into U.S. law in 1913 and during the Presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt, it became heavily graduated. Ronald Reagan reduced the extreme graduation of the tax levels, although the principle of the graduated tax remains.)
"Abolition of all rights of inheritance"; (a heavy inheritance tax partially accomplishes this goal)
"Centralization of credit in the hands of the state, by means of a national bank with state capital and an exclusive monopoly"; (Federal Reserve Bank)
"Free education for all children in public schools." (no comment necessary)
When Karl Marx was finally expelled from Prussia, he penned this arrogant farewell message: "We are ruthless. We ask no quarter from you, the officials. When our turn comes, we will not hide our terrorism."
Every Soviet communist leader from Lenin to the current secretary general has openly proclaimed strict adherence to Marxism. And ruthless they all have been½for a communist totalitarian regime cannot exist otherwise.
Chapter FourBANKERS AND BOXCARS
REVOLUTIONS don't just happen. They aren't spontaneous and they certainly aren't cheap. Karl Marx, one of the principal players in the centuries-old plot to overthrow Christian civilization, was in large part financed by fellow conspirator Friedrich Engels who benefitted from his wealthy and industrious father.
Similarly, Lev Bronstein and Vladimir Ilyich Ulianov½better known by their aliases Trotsky and Lenin½who developed the actual principles of the Communist Party, were financed in their atheistic revolutionary activities by some very wealthy foreign bankers.
In his book THE STRUGGLE FOR WORLD POWER, Russian historian George Knupffer concluded, "the main point was that this revolution was supported first and foremost by certain circles to whom national boundaries were a matter of no importance and who thought and acted internationally at all times."
Other historical writers support Knupffer's conclusion. Former Canadian naval officer and intelligence expert Commander William G. Carr, in his book PAWNS IN THE GAME, reveals, "In the summer of 1917 . . . it was finally decided that Kuhn-Loeb of New York should place $50,000,000 to the credit of Lenin and Trotsky in the bank of Sweden. Both British and American intelligence officers reported these facts to their respective governments in 1917."
The book WATERS PLOWING EASTWARD by the Parisian L. Fry (a.k.a. Paquita de Shishinaraff) reveals that Jacob Schiff, a senior partner in the New York-based international banking house of Kuhn-Loeb and Co, "had long been interested in the revolutionary movement in Russia and had transferred large sums to support it through his bank as far back as 1905."
According to Knupffer, the revolution "was heavily subsidized during the decades preceding it, and more especially during the First World War. Most of the money came from two sources: New York and Berlin. This may seem somewhat strange to the uninitiated, as in the last period of the war, Germany and America were enemies . . . Nevertheless, the truth is simple: In New York the money was given by such as the banking firm of Kuhn, Loeb & Co. whose directors included Mr. J. Schiff and Mr. Warburg, founder of the Federal Reserve System. While in Berlin the financing of the revolution was handled by the German Imperial Staff working in conjunction with a German banker [Max Warburg] who was a brother to the New York Warburg . . ." Apologists for Schiff, Warburg, and the Kuhn-Loeb banking house, say that the Jewish bankers gave tens of millions of dollars to fund the communist revolution to gain equality for Russian Jews; but this rationale disregards that Kerensky obtained equality for Jews without Lenin and without declaring war on Christianity.
When anarchy in Russia reached a boiling point in early 1917, Tsar Nicholas abdicated and the centuries old Romanov dynasty collapsed in March of that year. Guaranteeing the imperial family safe passage to exile in England, socialist Kerensky and his Menshevik party took control of the provisional government of Russia whereupon he passed laws creating total equality for Jews. In his epic work, THE RUSSIAN REVOLUTION, William Henry Chamberlin explains that on April 2, 1917, the Kerensky government abolished "all legal limitations on the rights of Russian citizens, based on faith or nationality. This decree primarily benefited the Jews.
Kerensky had no intention of having the Christian monarch assassinated nor did he express plans to close and destroy the churches or to outlaw Christian worship.
World War I was raging and Lenin was in neutral Switzerland unable to travel to Russia to take part in the revolution. According to Chamberlin, "Vladimir Ilyitch Lenin, the man who was to impose on the Russian Revolution its final form, was still pacing the streets of dull, respectable, middle-class Zurich, conjuring up one scheme after another for crossing the inhospitable battle-fronts that separated him from his native country, which he instinctively realized, was ripe as never before for social upheaval on the grand scale."
The Tsar was out; Kerensky was in; and Jews had total equality. However, Jacob Schiff was not satisfied. He and his Kuhn-Loeb bank made tens of millions of dollars available to Lenin and Trotsky and the German Imperial general-staff made available a train of sealed boxcars to assure safe passage for Lenin and his aides through the war zones.
Arriving at the now famous Finland Station in Petrograd on the night of April 16th, Lenin proclaimed to his fellow Bolsheviks, 'The Russian Revolution which you have carried out has laid the foundation for a new epoch. Long live the worldwide socialist revolution!" With this battlecry, Lenin boldly announced the ultimate goal of the Marxists '' the establishment of world-wide atheistic communism. In November, Lenin led the second Russian revolution of 1917, this tie against the popular Kerensky and his Mensheviks. The Tsar and his family were imprisoned and forbidden to go into exile, and then, in 1918, were brutally assassinated by the Bolsheviks. Thus began the bloodiest chapter in modem history and the establishment of a "government" whose leaders had vowed to destroy property rights and Christianity while enslaving the world's people in barbaric bondage. They had created what they called the "dictatorship of the proletariat" when in fact they had created a demonic dictatorship which had no use for the Christian virtues of faith, hope and charity.
The irony is that while Lenin and Trotsky were establishing their violently anti-Christian government in Russia with the financial backing of some New York bankers, revolutionaries in New York were establishing an American communist party with the financial backing of Dr. Julius Hammer, a wealthy New York City pharmaceutical manufacturer from Odessa, Russia.
A strange and mysterious pattern had been established whereby certain wealthy capitalists½bankers, industrialists, philanthropists '' funded communist revolutionary activities and their ensuing atheistic communist governments. Tragically, this pattern, described by Knupffer as smelling "of treason and collusion between alleged opponents," remains in use even today.
Chapter FiveCOMPULSION FOR COMMUNISM
DR. ARMAND HAMMER, chairman of Occidental Petroleum and headline-grabbing friend of present and past Soviet leaders, is well known to Americans. Like his communist friends in the Soviet Union, he frequently indulges in exaggeration when describing his successes in life½real or imagined. When it comes to selling himself, his own aggressiveness knows few equals. This unparalleled brashness, this penchant for aiding communists, this aggressive deal- making, all these characteristics seem to be inherited directly from his father Julius Hammer who was born in Russia in 1873 and brought to America the following year by his adoptive parents, Jacob and Victoria Hammer who, according to author Joseph Finder, in RED CARPET, were a Russian-Jewish family from Odessa, merchants in this port city legendary for its aggressive Jewish traders."
The Hammers settled at first in Bradford Connecticut, stronghold at that time of the socialist movement in America. Julius worked in a foundry and joined the Socialist Labor Party. After the Hammers moved to New York City, young Julius aggressively pursued a pharmaceutical career. He started as a druggist's apprentice and quickly advanced to registered pharmacist. He next became a drugstore owner, and then established a drugstore chain. Finally, he began manufacturing pharmaceuticals. During this time, he also studied medicine and obtained his M.D. at Columbia University.
America, the "land of opportunity" had rewarded another immigrant; at an early age, Julius had become a wealthy capitalist. But in spite of the numerous benefits which had accrued to Hammer as a result of the free enterprise system, he still joined the Socialist Labor Party in New York. It was there that he met and later married a fellow Socialist Party member named Rose. In 1898, they had a son whom they named Armand. Julius told fellow socialist Bertram Wolfe that Arm and had been named after the party insignia½a worker's ARM holding a HAMMER.
However, Julius Hammer's dedication to socialism and communism was far more than just symbolic. Naming his son after the socialistic communist insignia was simply an indication of his undiluted commitment to worldwide communist revolution and Hammer's aggressive nature '' his Odessa heritage½was as apparent in the revolutionary cause as it was in the business world. At the same time that Julius was funding New York-based Soviet agent Ludwig Martens and fellow communists in America, he was also supporting V. I. Lenin and the Bolsheviks abroad.
Julius Hammer first met Lenin at the 1907 International Socialist Congress in Stuttgart, Germany. Ten years later, when the Bolshevik revolution was about to collapse because the French and English blockades of Soviet ports were preventing supplies ftom reaching Lenin's revolutionaries, Hammer illegally circumvented the blockades and sent the needed materials½on credit!
Then in 1919, in New York City, he was made chairman of the radically extremist Greater New York Left-Wing Section of the Socialist Party of the U.S. and donated the building to be used for party headquarters. This group advocated immediate revolution in America modeled after Lenin's Bolshevik revolution.
Finder examined Hammer's motivations and concluded, "Julius's party was controlled and made up largely of Russian Jews like himself. It seems curious that these ardent revolutionaries were, by and large, not oppressed workers but men of means. One explanation for this apparent paradox has been offered by Harvard sociologist Nathan Glazer: 'Despite the relatively good economic position of Jews, their rapid rise to middle-class status produced certain strains½a sense of discrimination, a feeling of oppression and exploitation, if not its reality.' Many of the Russian Jews in the party, who had been hounded from Russia by the czar's anti-Semitic pogroms, looked to the Russian Revolution which had to a large extent been accomplished by Jews '' as a triumph of a new, just world order."
Finder, no anti-Semite, does not excuse Hammer's treasonous actions, quite the contrary, he has gone to great lengths to document and expose Hammer. But the author of RED CARPET has overlooked the very important point that Lenin's Bolshevik revolution overthrew Kerensky's provisional government which had already given equality to the Jews. The "feeling of oppression" as Nathan Glazer described Jewish motivations, was hardly reason for Julius to actively support a communist revolution in America for in America, the Jews enjoyed equality and freedom as never before in modem history.
Objectively, the serious student of history can only conclude that Julius Hammer must have had other reasons to justify the seeming contradiction: a wealthy capitalist supporting atheistic communism. According to Finder, one of Hammer's reasons was greed. "Julius profited handsomely from the accession of the Bolsheviks to power; his political convictions had material as well as psychological rewards."
Historian George Knupffer, however, believes that this type of behavior smells of "treason and collusion." Perhaps, a clue to Hammer's reason for supporting communism can be found in a November 6, 1986 speech given by U.S. Senator Howard Metzenbaum (D-OH) to a Jewish audience at the Wise Center in Cincinnati, Ohio. In a November 13 issue of the AMERICAN ISRAELITE, editor Phyllis Singer writes, "'We must see to it' says Sen. Howard Metzenbaum, 'that we will not permit the religious right to take over this country . . . Do not let the forces of evil take over to make this a Christian America."' Coincidentally, Metzenbaum is a multimillionaire who is reported to have belonged to several communist-front organizations in the past.
This irrational belief that committed Christians are the "forces of evil," is also the cornerstone of the communist philosophy which Julius Hammer helped to install in Russia and tried to establish in the United States. The ultimate goal of the communist conspiracy is to destroy Christianity. Noted columnist and former presidential speech writer, Pat Buchanan put it succinctly in his book RIGHT FROM THE START, "The war between West and East is not between the economic systems of capitalism and Marxism; it is a religious war for control of the soul and destiny of mankind, the outcome of which cannot be arbitrated or negotiated."
Chapter SixWORLD COMMUNISM AND THE MONEY CONNECTION
In 1921, banker Jacob H. Rubin, president of Rubin Brothers located at West 34th Street in New York City, admitted with remarkable candor to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, "I had been with the American Red Cross people at Odessa. I was there when the Red Army took possession of Odessa. At that time I was favorably inclined toward the Soviet government, because I was a socialist and had been a member of that party for 20 years. I must admit that to a certain extent I helped to form the Soviet government of Odessa . . . Rubin had a close working association with the New York based Provident Loan Society. In WALL STREET AND THE BOLSHEVIK REVOLUTION, Antony C. Sutton explains that Provident's trustees included persons "having [a] connection with the Bolshevik Revolution: P. [Percy] A. Rockefeller, Mortimer L. Schiff, and James Speyer."
Percy Rockefeller was one of the directors of the American International Corporation, as was Otto H. Kahn. Kahn and Mortimer Schiff, together with Jacob Schiff and Felix Warburg, were managing partners of Kuhn, Loeb & Company. A State Department document (Decimal File 861.00/5339) dated November 13, 1918 names the following as persons engaged in supporting the Bolshevik revolution: Jacob Schiff, Felix Warburg, Otto H. Kahn, Mortimer L. Schiff, and Jerome J. Hanauer. Kuhn, Loeb and Company, itself, was also named in the document. In the 1970s, Jacob Schiff's son readily admitted to syndicated columnist Cholly Knickerhoker that his father had given a large sum of money to help finance the Bolshevik revolution.
On December 30, 1924, the financial titan and capitalist extraordinaire Otto Kahn, in a speech to the radically left-wing League for Industrial Democracy, offered the socialist revolutionaries a friendly hand and shared goals. "What you radicals and we who hold opposing views differ about is not so much the end as the means, not so much what should be brought about as how it should, and can, be brought about . . ." The Rev. Denis Fahey, in THE RULERS OF RUSSIA, wrote about the continuing political love affair between capitalist Otto Kahn and the anti- capitalist Soviet government and revealed that during Stalin's reign, long after the 1917 revolution, Otto Kahn enjoyed a relationship with the Soviet empire which should have raised questions as to where his loyalties lay. FIGARO, the highly regarded Parisian magazine, reported in April 1932 that in June of the previous year, Mrs. Otto Kahn visited the USSR, "where she was oflicially received by the Soviet government, which gave in her honor a grand diplomatic dinner and several brilliant receptions . . . The Red Army lined the roads at the present of arms . . . It was the least that the head of the 'proletarian dictatorship' could do in order to honour the wife of one of their sovereigns."
Kahn, Schiff and Warburg were recognized not only as financial giants of their day, but also as three of the wealthiest and most powerful men in America. In addition, they were known to be close to "Colonel" Edward M. House, Woodrow Wilson's confidant and alter ego. House who espoused communist sentiments for America's future, used Wilson's presidency as a launching pad for the League of Nations and a socialist world government. In WOODROW WILSON: DISCIPLE OF REVOLUTION, Jennings C. Wise revealed that Wilson willingly played his part in the conspiracy, "Historians must never forget that Woodrow Wilson, despite the efforts of the British police, made it possible for [the Russian revolutionary] Leon Trotsky to enter Russia with an American passport."
There were other wealthy Americans in addition to the Kahns, Warburgs, Rockefellers, and Schiffs who were actively supporting the Bolshevik revolution. One of the more arrogant promoters of the atheistic revolt in Russia was William B. Thompson who served on the board of the powerful Federal Reserve Bank of New York (coincidentally, Paul Warburg, Felix's brother was the first [vice] chairman of the Federal Reserve System). While Thompson was leading a Red Cross Mission to Russia which he had funded heavily, the WASHINGTON POST of Feb. 2, 1918 reported that he had "made a personal contribution of $1,000,000 to the Bolsheviki for the purpose of spreading their doctrine in Germany and Austria." The POST continued, "He believes that the Bolsheviki constitute the greatest power against Pro-Germanism in Russia and their [Marxist] propaganda has been undermining the militarist regimes of the General Empires. Mr. Thompson deprecates American criticism of the Bosheviki. He believes they have been misrepresented and has made financial contribution to the cause in the belief that it will be money well spent for the future of Russia as well as for the Allied cause." Thompson's actions raise the serious question of why an American citizen, an influential director of the powerful Federal Reserve Bank of New York, would donate 1 million dollars (roughly equivalent to 20 million today) to communist revolutionaries in order to promote a world-wide revolutionary movement whose goal is the destruction of Western Christian civilization. The question is all the more serious if Antony Sutton is correct when he states, "Without the financial and, more important, the diplomatic propaganda assistance given to Trotsky and Lenin by Thompson, Robins and their New York associates, the Bolsheviks may well have withered away and Russia evolved into a socialist constitutional society."
Biographer Herman Hagedorn in THE MAGNATE, WILLIAM BOYCE THOMPSON AND HIS TIMES, reproduced a photo of a December 8, 1917 telegram from J.P. Morgan in New York addressed to W. B. Thompson, care of American Red Cross Hotel Europe, Petrograd. The Morgan cable said, "Your cable received, We have paid National City Bank one million dollars as instructed½Morgan." By this time the Bolsheviks had nationalized all Russian banks½foreign and domestic with one exception '' the National City Bank (NCB) branch in Petrograd. In 1917, Percy and William Rockefeller were members of NCB's board of directors½it was part of the Rockefeller family's financial empire. The Chase Manhattan Bank, formerly the Chase National Bank, and is still part of the Rockefeller family empire½David Rockefeller is the retired chairman of the Chase. In RED CARPET, Joseph Finder wrote, "Chase National Bank was the Soviet government's leading lender almost from the time of the Revolution. During the twenties, it financed Soviet imports of American cotton. When AMTORG [the Soviet trade and a front in the U.S.] was established in 1924, Chase agreed to handle its promissory notes and letters of credit in order to aid the import from Russia of our, timber and precious metals, and in 1926, Chase advanced the Soviet government revolving credit of thirty million dollars."
Amtorg was, in a limited sense, the Soviet predecessor to USTEC, (US- USSR Trade and Economic Council) established in 1972 as a vehicle for Western capitalists and bankers to prop up the ever-failing socialist stem of the Soviet Union.
In a February 29, 1984 speech to the Senate, Senator Jesse Helms (NC) sounded an alarm when he warned "over the years, loans and credits to the Soviet Union by Western bankers as well as by Western governments, have served to build the Soviet war machine and to keep the peoples and nations contained within the Soviet borders and in Soviet satellites in slavery."
The record of an on-going conspiracy has been thoroughly and repeatedly documented. The world revolutionary movement has been and is being funded by amoral capitalists and bankers½men at the highest levels of U.S. finance and government.
Chapter SevenGLOBALIST INTRIGUES OF THE ELITIST COUNCIL OF FOREIGN RELATIONS
ANY LIBERALS½whether pink or red½whether closet socialists or militant communists frequently suffer from a blind ideological weakness which author Dan Smoot called a "deistic complex"; and it matters not whether they are self-proclaimed atheists or agnostics posing as Christians. In their firm conviction that they, and they only, know what is best for the masses, they act out a deep desire to play God.
"The case for government by elites is irrefutable . . . government by the People is possible but highly improbable" pontificated J. William Fulbright, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, at a 1963 symposium sponsored by the left-wing Fund for the Republic, one of the many ultra-liberal projects of the Ford Foundation. The symposium was titled, "THE ELITE AND THE ELECTORATE½IS GOVERNMENT BY THE PEOPLE POSSIBLE?" To support his contention, Fulbright relied heavily upon the words of Walter Lippman, well-known columnist and not-so-well- known founding member of the far left socialist League for Industrial Democracy, 'The people have acquired power which they are incapable of exercising, and the governments they elect have lost powers which they must recover if they are to govern." Lippman complained that, because of public opinion, America had mishandled the peace process after World War I by refusing to enter the League of Nations, that vehicle for global government which had been piously promoted by "Colonel" Edward Mandell House. According to the "elite," public opinion must be altered to assure that, after a second world war, America would readily accept the one-world concept. Closet socialist Lippmann, as a member of the media, was prepared to facilitate that change.
Lippman was not just a media elitist; he was also a director of the Council on Foreign Relations the internationalist organization envisioned by House. After the rejection of the League of Nations by the Senate, the undaunted "Colonel" had gathered together his most dedicated young intellectual followers at a dinner meeting in May of 1919 at the magnificent Majestic Hotel in Paris whereupon they agreed to form an organization to study and influence international affairs. Subsequently, the group, which had among its American members Christian A. Herter and the Dulles brothers, Allen and John Foster, organized the Council on Foreign Relations which was incorporated in 1921.
Author, historian, former Harvard faculty member and ex-FBI official Dan Smoot describes the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) as the centerpiece of an invisible government. "I am convinced" wrote Smoot in THE INVISIBLE GOVERNMENT, that "the objective of this invisible government is to convert America into a socialist state and then make it a unit in a one-world socialist system."
A one-world socialist system was exactly what "Colonel" House had wanted; he even wrote a blueprint for its enactment in the political romance, PHILIP DRU: ADMINISTRATOR, which he published anonymously in 1912. In the book House rewrote the U.S. Constitution and incorporated many of Marx and Engels' ideas for a socialist dictatorship.
Over the years, the CFR came to play an increasingly greater role in guiding America's foreign policy towards a liberal and internationalist bias. The Reece Committee, a congressional committee investigating the funding of left-wing activities by tax exempt foundations, concluded in the early '50s, that the Council on Foreign Relations "is another organization dealing with internationalism which has substantial financial support of both the Carnegie Endowment and the Rockefeller Foundation . . . The Council on Foreign Relations came to be in essence an agency of the United States government, no doubt carrying its internationalist bias with it . . . its productions are not objective but are directed overwhelmingly at promoting the globalism concept . . . There can be no doubt that much of the thinking in the State Department and much of the background of direction of its policies came from the personnel of the Carnegie Endowment and the Council on Foreign Relations."
Coincidentally, one of the founding directors of the Council on Foreign Relations was the legendary financier, Otto Kahn, who, as a managing partner of the Kuhn, Loeb investment house had contributed heavily to the Bolshevik revolution. Kahn served as a CFR director from 1921 until 1934.
Another of the CFR's original directors was Paul M. Warburg, the first chairman of the Federal Reserve System and brother of another Kuhn, Loeb partner Felix Warburg.
Allen W. Dulles, who had been one of the "young intellectuals" at "Colonel" House's 1919 Paris planning dinner, became a CFR director in 1927 and served continuously until 1969. During the 1950's, he was Director of the CIA under President Eisenhower while his brother, John Foster Dulles, another of House's "young intellectuals," was Secretary of State. The "iron curtain" of Soviet-controlled Eastern Europe was never challenged under the so-called "cold war" policy of John Foster Dulles. This containment policy allowed the 1956 freedom movement in Hungary to bleed to death and guaranteed the sanctity of Soviet hegemony over iron curtain countries½a continuation of the policy established by FDR.
By 1927, the Rockefeller family, via its various foundations, had begun to pour money into the CFR; and in 1929, largely with Rockefeller money, the CFR bought its present headquarters, the Harold Pratt House at 58 East 68th Street, New York City. Following Rockefeller's lead, the Carnegie and Ford foundations soon funneled large sums of money into the CFR.
Shortly after World War II exploded in 1939, the Council visited the U.S. State Department to offer its assistance and an agreement was reached whereby, according to the Reece Committee, "the Council would do research and make recommendations for the State Department, without formal assignment or responsibility." These State Department papers, prepared by the CFR became known as the "War and Peace Studies . . . financed by the Rockefeller Foundation . . ."
By 1942, the State Department's newly created Divisions of Special Research was dominated by Council members. Even the director Leo Pasvolsky was a member of the CFR. But it was another Council member, Alger Hiss, who significantly advanced the cause of the liberal elitists in the tradition of "Colonel" House. Educated at Johns Hopkins University and Harvard Law School, Hiss, a protege of Felix Frankfurter, started on his government career in the early 1930s and in 1936, was personally invited by Assistant Secretary of State Francis B. Sayre, President Wilson's son-in-law, to come to the State Department as Sayre's assistant. By this time, wrote Dr. Emanuel M. Josephson in ROCKEFELLER INTERNATIONALIST, "Hiss was deeply involved in espionage." By 1939, when he became State's assistant adviser on political relations, ex-communist Whittaker Chambers, as editor of TIME magazine, told Adolph A. Berle, Assistant Secretary of State for security, that Hiss was a communist spy. Berle, who was also a personal adviser to the President, told Roosevelt who responded by telling Berle, in effect, to go jump in the lake.
As assistant secretary of the State Department, Hiss became a special adviser to President Roosevelt at the disastrous Yalta summit where the dying president gave in to all of Stalin's demands.
By 1945, Hiss's superiors at the State Department had been completely briefed on his communist activities; but he was chosen to be Secretary General of the United Nations Conference on International Organization at San Francisco, nonetheless. With assistance from two Soviet representatives, Hiss prepared the United Nations Charter and gave the Soviet Union three votes in the General Assembly and America only one vote. Alger Hiss had finally instituted "Colonel" House's grand design, and America was at last involved in a one-world socialist government organization.
Hiss had been accompanied to the San Francisco conference by Nelson Rockefeller, and, as they had done for the Council on Foreign Relations, the Rockefellers donated the land for the United Nations building in New York.
Elitists move, as through a revolving-door, from liberal establishment universities to government to the CFR to foundations and back again, and so CFR member Hiss was appropriately rewarded with the presidency of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
All was proceeding according to plan for the CFR elitists, when unexpectedly Alger Hiss was indicted and tried for perjury. Hiss had denied knowing Whittaker Chambers who had accused him of being a Soviet espionage agent. His first trial ended in a hung jury when CFR friends and supporters including John Foster Dulles, Secretary of State Dean Acheson, and Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter testified as character witnesses. However, at his second trial, when the case against him was conclusively air-tight, Hiss was abandoned by his supporters, was found guilty and sent to prison.
The conviction of one-of-its-own was no more than a brief unacknowledged embarrassment for the Council on Foreign Relations which continued to supply succeeding administrations with secretaries of state, secretaries of defense, national security advisers, CIA directors, and even Vice-Presidents and a President. A few examples will suffice:
John Foster Dulles½secretary of state for Eisenhower;
Dean Rusk½secretary of state for Kennedy and Johnson;
* Henry Kissinger½secretary of state for Nixon;
Nelson Rockefeller½vice president for Ford;
* Cyrus Vance½secretary of state for Carter;
* Zbigniew Brezezinski½national security adviser for Carter;
* George P. Shultz½secretary of state for Reagan;
* Brent Scowcroft national security advisor for Bush;
* Richard B. Cheney secretary of defense for Bush;
* President George Bush was himself a director of the Council from 1977-79.
(* past or present officer/director of the CFR.)
The Council on Foreign Relations of "Colonel" Edward M. House has more than adequately fulfilled its commitment to study and influence international affairs!
Chapter EightTRANSMISSION BELTS FOR COMMUNIST PROPAGANDA
IN THE LATE 1940s and early 1950s after the successful prosecution of Soviet spies Julius and Ethel Rosenberg who stole U.S. atomic bomb secrets for the USSR, and Soviet espionage agent Alger Hiss who was foreign policy "advisor" to President Franklin D. Roosevelt and later the president of the huge tax-exempt Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, there was a realization that the government needed to discover and then interdict the funding sources of the Soviet agents and communist operations in America.
Hence, twice in the early 1950s, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to establish a "special" or "select" committee to conduct a complete investigation of tax-exempt educational and philanthropic foundations and comparable organizations to determine if any of these foundations and organizations were misusing their funds "for un- American and subversive activities; for political purposes; propaganda or attempts to influence legislation."
Established in 1952 by a Democrat controlled House of Representatives, the first of these two committees was chaired by Representative Eugene E. Cox, (D-GA) and was popularly referred to as the Cox Committee.
In 1953, the Republican-controlled House established a "Special Committee to Investigate Tax-Exempt Foundations and Comparable Organizations" or "Reece Committee" named after its chairman Carroll B. Reece (R-TN).
The Cox Committee heard testimony from a number of knowledgable witnesses, including Fordham University faculty member Louis F. Budenz. Budenz, who, in addition to having been editor of the U.S. Communist Party's official paper the DAILY WORKER, had been a member of the party's ruling national committee for nine years until his break in 1945. He informed the House Committee that the Communist Party (CPUSA) had two specific objectives regarding foundations. "One, to obtain grants for Communists or those favorable to the Communist line on those matters which the Communists wished advanced . . . and then, secondly, to prevent if possible, critics of the Communist movement from getting grants." American communists were under direct orders from Moscow to make foundations and other organizations "transmission belts for the Communist line."
A CPUSA subcommittee on foundations supervised communist efforts in this regard, and targeted key foundations for penetration. Budenz named some of the target foundations, "They were the Carnegie, Rockefeller, and Guggenheim Foundations. Based on his own experience as a party official, Budenz gave the Committee specific examples of successful communist penetration and manipulation of foundations.
Testifying under oath, Budenz named individuals who as communists had become trustee members, or key officials or had received grants from a number of tax-exempt foundations. Some of these communist activists were in key teaching positions at prestigious colleges or universities. Some had received foundation grants to influence, from a radical communist viewpoint, civil-rights issues and others received large tax- exempt grants to "develop new forms of music." The recipients of foundation largess were well-placed to mold the impressionable young minds of the leaders of America's next generation.
A few of the Communist Party members named by Budenz were: Dr. Mary Van Kleek of the Rusell Sage Foundation and Smith College; Frederick Vanderbilt Field, millionaire head of his own tax-exempt American People's Fund; Doxie Wilkerson, board member of the General Education Board, a major Rockefeller philanthropy; Louise Bransten, a trustee of the Rosenberg Foundation; and Walter Gelhorn, recipient of a substantial grant from the Rockefeller Foundation for work on civil liberties studies at Cornell University. Gelhorn later denied that he was a member of the CPUSA but under cross examination reluctantly admitted to being a member of the National Lawyers Guild, cited by Congress as the legal arm of the CPUSA.
The Rockefeller Foundation also dispensed a large grant for the purpose of developing "new forms of music" to Hans Eisler, who, according to Budenz, was head of the Red International Music Bureau."of Moscow and had the specific commission in America "to direct the penetration of the musical world, composers, critics, and the like, for the Communist Party This information was given to Budenz by CPUSA cultural official Alexander Trachtenberg who smugly stated, "We are using capitalist money to destroy capitalism."
Those few examples indicate just how successful the Communist Party U.S.A. has been at using some of America's wealthiest and most respected tax-exempt foundations in order to finance Soviet espionage, promote communist propaganda, influence legislation and reshape young minds in America.
Since the premature and abrupt demise of the Reece Committee in 1954, and even though suspicions are that the situation remains much the same, there has been no congressional investigation of foundations to determine whether or not billions of tax-exempt dollars are being used in violation of the public trust and to finance subversive communist activities.
In January 1986, suggesting that the need for such a committee is even greater today than it was in the early '50s, Senator Jesse Helms, (R- NC) called for a new independent congressional committee with the full power of subpoena, to update the work of the Cox and Reece Committees. Unfortunately though, with just a few of the largest foundations controlling billions of dollars and dispensing hundreds of millions of those dollars annually to pet liberal projects, it is unlikely that the left-wing controlled Congress will challenge their tax-exempt status.
Chapter NineA DIABOLICAL CONSPIRACY?
Due to the unexpected death of Chairman Cox on December 24, 1952, the Cox Committee was in operation for only eight months; but it discovered enough evidence to convince the Republicans to establish a similar House investigative committee under their leadership in July of 1953.
The final report of the Cox Committee stated, "The committee is satisfied that as long as 20 years ago, Moscow decided upon a program of infiltrating cultural and educational groups and organizations in this country, including the foundations. The American Communist Party, following the program laid down in Moscow, went so far as to create a . . . Cultural Commission which gave specific attention to foundations."
Convinced that infiltration had occurred, the Cox committee continued, there remains the ugly unalterable fact that Alger Hiss became the president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace."
The information gathered by the Cox Committee led Representative Carroll Reece (R-TN), chairman of the 1953-4 investigating committee, to state: "No one seems to know the number of tax-exempt foundations. There are probably 300,000 . . . In the past, they have made a magnificent contribution to our national life. In the past, the majority have justified these tax exemptions, even though the probable cost to the taxpayers runs into the billions."
"Certainly the Congress has a right and a duty to inquire into the purposes and conduct of institutions to which the taxpayers have made such great sacrifices.
"In any event, the Congress should concern itself with certain weaknesses and dangers which have arisen in a minority of these.
"Some of these activities and some of these institutions support efforts to overthrow our Government and to undermine our American way of life.
"These activities urgently require investigation. Here lies the story of how communism and socialism are financed in the United States, where they get their money. It is the story of who pays the bill.
"There is evidence to show there is a diabolical conspiracy back of all this. Its aim is the furtherance of socialism in the United States.
"Communism is only a brand name for socialism, and the Communist state represents itself to be only the true form of socialism.
"The facts will show that, as usual, it is the ordinary taxpaying citizen who foots most of the bill, not the Communists and the Socialist, who know only how to spend money, not how to earn it.
"The method by which this is done seems fantastic to reasonable men, for these Communists and Socialists seize control of fortunes left behind by capitalists when they die, and turn these fortunes around to finance the destruction of capitalism."
Congressman Reece revealed that in the early '50s, the Ford Foundation made a grant of $15 million (the equivalent of $60-$70 million in today's dollars) to "investigate from a critical point of view" those Congressional Committees which were investigating Soviet and other communist operations in the United States. Little wonder Reece called it a "diabolical conspiracy!" The existence of a foundation-funded conspiracy was well-documented but a conspiracy of silence would keep the American people from realizing the seriousness of the threat.
By the late seventies, even the liberal Henry Ford II finally resigned in disgust from the board of the multi-billion dollar Ford Foundation. He charged that the foundation½the nation's largest '' funded by his family, was paying for projects which were aimed at overthrowing the very free-enterprise system, which created the wealth that supported the foundation.
In the boastful words of Communist party official Alexander Trachtenberg, "We are using capitalist money to destroy capitalism."
Chapter TenFOUNDATION-FUNDED NON-BLOODY REVOLUTION
COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN B. Carroll Reecewarned fellow congressmen of a "diabolical conspiracy," that a certain few foundations were financing the Socialist and Communist overthrow of the United States."The Reece Committee learned that the Rockefeller Foundation and Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, were, with tax-exempt dollars, funding leftist propaganda operations, aimed at changing America through the brain, not the battlefield. Patriotism, national sovereignty, individual responsibility, and Christian beliefs were belittled while the concepts of a one world government, socialism, collectivism and humanism were deemed essential for peace in the modern age.
A clandestine and successful non-bloody revolution had been masterminded by some of America's most powerful and devious men '' men who did not want to be exposed by a congressional investigating committee.
The man chosen by Reece to be the committee's research director was Norman Dodd, Yale graduate, intellectual and N.Y. investment banker. During this writer's frequent visits to Dodd's retirement home in Keene, Virginia, he repeatedly spoke of his conviction that justice demanded that those foundations "should be compelled to spend a like amount of dollars to undo the damage they have done to America."
Dodd sent committee questionnaires to numerous foundations, and as a result of one such request, Joseph E. Johnson, president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace invited Dodd to send a committee staffer to Carnegie's headquarters in New York City to examine the minutes of the meetings of the Endowment's trustees. These minutes had long since been stored away in a warehouse and obviously Johnson, who was a close friend of former Carnegie President and Soviet spy Alger Hiss, had no idea what was in them.
The minutes revealed that in 1910, the Carnegie trustees asked themselves this question: "Is there any way known to man more effective than war, to so alter the life of an entire people?"
For a year the trustees sought an effective "peaceful" method to "alter the life of an entire people"; but ultimately, they concluded that war was the most effective way to change people.
Consequently, the trustees of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace next asked themselves: "How do we involve the United States in a war?"
And they answered, "We must control the diplomatic machinery of the United States," by first gaining "control of the State Department."
Norman Dodd said that the trustees' minutes reinforced what the Reece Committee had uncovered elsewhere about the Carnegie Endowment, that "it had already become a powerful policy-making force inside the State Department."
During those early years of the Carnegie Endowment, war clouds were already forming over Europe and the opportunity for the enactment of their plan was drawing near.
History proved that World War I did indeed have an enormous impact on the American people. For the first time in our history, large numbers of wives and mothers had to leave the home to work in war factories, thus effectively eroding woman's historic role as the "heart" of the family. The sanctity of the family itself was placed in jeopardy. Life in America was so thoroughly changed that, according to Norman Dodd, "the trustees had the brashness to congratulate themselves on the wisdom and validity of their original decision." They sent a confidential message to President Wilson, insisting that the war not be ended too quickly. Carnegie trustee Cleveland H. Dodge, one of Wilson's financial supporters, had direct access to the President, as did Elihu Root, Endowment president from 1910 to 1925.
After the War, the Carnegie Endowment trustees reasoned that if they could get control of
educationin the United States, they would be able to prevent a return to the way of life as it had been prior to the war; and they recruited the Rockefeller Foundation to assist in such a monumental task. According to Dodd, "They divided the task in parts, giving to the Rockefeller Foundation the responsibility of altering education as it pertains to domestic subjects, but Carnegie retained the task of altering our education in foreign affairs and about international relations." The foundations decided that the most effective method of achieving this goal would be by altering American History, so they awarded grants, fellowships and scholarships to those professors and historians who would rewrite American history and promote one-worldism, humanism and socialism. By the early '30s, the well-laid plans of the foundation trustees had reached fruition, and a Reece Committee staff report concluded:(1) that there had indeed been a non-bloody revolution in America between 1933 and 1936;
(2) that a certain few foundations had funded efforts to change the beliefs of the American people through education and propaganda; and
(3) that these revolutionary changes had been accepted without resistance.
To demonstrate how thoroughly American opinion had been changed according to the plan of the foundations, we cite the following historical example: At the end of World War I, Woodrow Wilson and his shadowy alter-ego "Colonel" Edward M. House tried to sell the U.S. Senate and the American people on the idea of the League of Nations. This was, of course, the first concerted international effort towards a one world government.
Wilson and House failed in their mission; but a generation later, after another great war and much re-education via college International Relations Clubs, international studies educational grants and the like, the Senate and the people readily accepted membership in the United Nations.
Roosevelt's foreign policy advisor Alger Hiss helped write the U.N. Charter in which the Soviet Union was given three votes in the General Assembly and the United States only one; and then, before his perjury conviction for lying about his Soviet espionage activities, he went on to become president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
Chairman Reece expressed justifiable rage when he described what was happening as a "diabolical conspiracy." The conspirators had left little to chance.
Chapter ElevenAN ADMISSION OF CONSPIRACY AND A DEATH THREAT FOR SILENCE
THOSE CONGRESSIONAL INVESTIGATIONS of the early '50s into tax-exempt foundations were mandated by the House of Representatives in a resolution stating, "The Committee is authorized and directed to conduct a full and complete investigation . . . to determine which of such foundations and organizations are using their resources for un-American and subversive activities; for political purposes; propaganda, or attempts to influence legislation."
The tax-exempt status granted to foundations by the Congress of the United States is a special and powerful privilege subsidized by the American taxpayer. Therefore, Congress has not only the authority but also the obligation to investigate how tax-exempt funds are spent.
The Ford Foundation, largest of all the foundations, balked when it received a preliminary questionnaire from the Reece Committee. H. Rowan Gaither, president of the multi-billion dollar foundation, summoned committee research director Dodd to foundation offices in New York City.
At the meeting, Gaither asked, "Mr. Dodd we invited you to come here because we thought that perhaps, off the record, you would be kind enough to tell us why the Congress is interested in the operations of foundations such as ours?"
Gaither answered his own rhetorical question with a startling admission: "Mr. Dodd, all of us here at the policy making level of the foundation have at one time or another served in the 0SS [the Office of Strategic Services, the forerunner of the CIA) or the European Economic Administration. During those times and without exception we operated under directives from the White House. We are continuing to be guided by just such directives . . . The substance of the directives under which we operate is that we shall use our grant making power to so alter life in the United States that we can he comfortably merged with the Soviet Union."
Stunned, Dodd finally replied, "Why don't you tell the American people what you just told me and you could save the taxpayers thousands of dollars set aside for this investigation?" Gaither responded, "Mr. Dodd, we wouldn't think of doing that."
In public, of course, Gaither never admitted what he had revealed in private. However, on numerous public occasions, Norman Dodd repeated what Gaither had said, and was neither sued by Gaither nor challenged by the Ford Foundation.
Within days of the Reece Committee's announcement of the purpose of the investigation and the identity of the organizations to be questioned, Norman Dodd was invited to dine privately at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington with Herman Edelsberg who was the Washington representative of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) of B'nai B'rith. Edelsberg told Dodd that the ADL was one of the most powerful organizations in America '' becoming more powerful each year½and that the only thing it feared was bad publicity. Obviously, then, the ADL was not pleased about being investigated by the committee and had sent Edelsberg to find out who on the committee had decided to question the ADL. When he learned that it had been Dodd's decision, not the chairman's, Edelsberg asked, "How do we dispose of you?"
Dodd was undeterred by the threat however, because he had been forewarned by Chrysler Corporation's finance committee chairman B. E. Hutchinson who, though he supported the Reece Committee inquiry, was well aware of the dangers involved and had warned Dodd, "If you proceed with the investigation as you have outlined, you will be killed." Perhaps the threat was not carried out against Dodd because far subtler methods had been developed to end the investigation. The Reece Committee was sabotaged from within by a Democrat committee member, the liberal Wayne Hays of Ohio. On one occasion, Hays sarcastically interrupted a friendly witness, Aaron Sargent, 246 times during 185 minutes of testimony. Many of Hayes questions were totally irrelevant, childish and sarcastic, designed to waste the witness's time and bring the hearings to a halt. Hays admitted to the committee's staff that Sam Rayburn, the most powerful Democrat in the House of Representatives, had assigned him to the committee for one purpose, "to break-up the investigation," and he intended to do just that. Hays told committee counsel Rene Wormser that the White House had been in touch with him and asked Hays if "he would cooperate to kill the committee."
The success of the conspiracy to silence the investigation and to thwart corrective legislation so as to preserve its power-base is self- evident.
Chapter TwelveLINES OF CREDIT: ROPES OF BONDAGE
AFTER THE DEATH of Konstantin Chernenko in March of 1985, Mikahil Gorbachev won a monumental power struggle in the Kremlin and emerged as leader of the Soviet Union. Almost immediately, the crafty new secretary general of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union began to institute what appeared to be radical changes known as 'glasnost' (openess) and 'perestroika' (restructuring) in an attempt to salvage the rapidly crumbling communist system. His role model was V.1. Lenin, who in a 1921 effort to save the system, had instituted his New Economic Policy (NEP) which allowed limited free market privileges to farmers. Without the subsequent infusions of Westem credit, plus construction and corporate know-how, the communist dictatorship might well have collapsed within its first decade. Lenin referred to the NEP when he uttered his famous phrase, "two steps forward, one step back."
Western credit and commodities, lured to the Soviet empire by the temporary openness and appearance of reform in Lenin's NEP, enabled him and his successor Joseph Stalin to tighten the ropes of bondage around the necks of the Soviet people. In the 1920s American newspapers wrote about U.S. companies and entrepreneurs who built everything from tractor plants to pencil factories in Russia with financing arranged by U.S. banks and trade details prepared by the pro-Soviet American International Corporation (AIC). Those many American bankers and businessmen who rescued the communist system from certain collapse in the 1920s helped to create Lenin's legacy: Stalin's reign of terror, that appalling period in the 1930s when between 300,000 to 500,000 persons a month were brutally "eliminated" in one purge after another. "Most of the private beneficiaries of Lenin's New Economic Policy became, ten years later, liquidated Kulaks [free farmers) under Joseph Stalin," writes Dr. Warren H. Carroll in his epic work 70 YEARS OF THE COMMUNIST REVOLUTION.
In 1975, Alexander Solzhenitsyn beseeched the West not to save '' once again½the communist government and its failed economic system; but his plea has gone unnoticed or unheeded by many in the West, who, like lemmings racing suicidally to the sea, seek to sell to the Soviets, on credit, the rope with which they intend to hang the free world.
To students of history, it is inconceivable that Gorbachev's "perestroika," which could more accurately be described as NEP, has seduced so many in the West; and yet American newspapers are once again touting the advent of Soviet reform and reporting on the great new business ventures to be found in the Soviet Union. THE WALL STREET JOURNAL of March 30, 1989 proclaimed "SOVIETS, 6 U.S. FIRMS REACH TRADE ACCORD" and then described the ambitious agreement for joint US-USSR trade and economic ventures in the Soviet Union. The JOURNAL article named Chevron, Archer-Daniels-Midland (ADM), Eastman Kodak, RJR Nabisco, and Johnson & Johnson as the corporations poised to invest up to 10 billion dollars in the USSR.
Chevron, according to the WALL STREET JOURNAL, "is one of the keys to the consortium's success. Sources say it is working with the Soviet Oil Ministry to find possible sites for joint oil and gas exploration and development." The products from Chevron's ventures are potentially the biggest producer of desperately needed hard currency for the Soviet Union.
It is expected that lines of credit for the Soviet joint ventures will be arranged in the West by the sixth U.S. participant in the venture, the Mercator Corporation, the merchant bank whose president, James H. Giffen, is a member of the shadowy Council on Foreign Relations and past co-chairman of the secretive and controversial US-USSR Trade and Economic Council (USTEC).
USTEC was founded in 1973 to promote trade with the Soviet Union and on the surface appears to be a giant U.S-Soviet chamber of commerce '' a friendly facilitator of business½with an equal number of U.S. and Soviet officials. In reality, though, America's corporate members are private companies and the Soviet members are government agencies, a situation which, in 1987, prompted ranking minority member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Jesse Helms (R-NC) to try to raise the ominous veil of secrecy surrounding USTEC's U.S. membership list.
The senator's concern that USTEC was being used as a vehicle for the transfer of advanced U.S technology and hard currency credits to the Soviet Union was based on some alarming facts:
The CIA had confirmed that Yevgeniy Petrovich Pitovranov, then chairman of the Soviet chamber of commerce and a member of USTEC's executive committee, was a lieutenant general (ret) of the KGB;
* KGB staff officers fill about half of the senior management slots in the chamber's Moscow apparatus which supplies operatives for USTEC;
* Soviet trade members of USTEC who often are KGB or GRU intelligence spies can travel freely in the U.S. and gain access to U.S. technology plants and research facilities without the usual security limitations which restrict the travel of Soviet embassy and consulate employees;
* An internal FBI memo refers to USMC as a "targeted hostile intelligence" as well as a "suspected espionage apparatus";
* The CIA has evidence that the Soviets have forged end-user documents to hide the fact that their use of U.S. technology will be for military purposes rather than for civilian uses as "officially" claimed;
* According to the CIA, a number of USTEC's U.S. corporate members which have defense contracts, such as General Electric, Tenneco, IBM, Rockwell International, General Motors, DuPont, Xerox, and FMC, have, on numerous occasions, been the direct object of repeated Soviet intelligence gathering;
* President Reagan's secretary of commerce C. William Verity, Jr., had tried several years earlier, when he was co-chairman of USTEC, to have the U.S. government remove or reduce its technology-protective trade barriers against the USSR;
* At the annual USTEC's director's meeting of 1986, Council on Foreign Relations member and former undersecretary of commerce Bruce Smart stated enthusiastically, "Complete factories can be exported to the Soviet Union totally comparable to new factories built in the U.S. with all the most modern equipment including process controls".
A legitimate ethical conflict-of-interest exists: does a U.S. defense contractor which has received hundreds of millions½even billions '' of dollars from the government for research and development of advanced defense technology have the right to be a member of any organization which is used by the enemy as an intelligence gathering operation? It was similar U.S.-Soviet commerce which helped the Red armed forces massacre one million Afghans. In 1979, the Soviet military swept down a U.S. built highway to Kabul in modern military trucks built in "the giant Khama River truck plant at Naberzhnye Chelnny financed by David Rockefeller and a groups of Wall Street banks, technology courtesy of Mack trucks," writes Dr. John Coleman in his article "High Tech Treason" for the August '88 issue of World Economic Review.
Two years before the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, at the 1977 annual meeting of USTEC directors, David Rockefeller, who had been a director of USTEC since its inception and was chairman of the CFR for 15 years, praised Chase Manhattan Bank for its 50 years of financial assistance to the Soviet government as well as to Amtorg Trading Corp (a Soviet espionage front in earlier years), "During World War II, Chase became Amtorg Trading Corp's principal U.S. bank."
The efforts of the Rockefellers, the Giffens and others of their ilk who have substituted internationalism for patriotism and greed for compassion and who are working to consolidate the U.S. and the USSR into a giant cartel with loans and credits to the Soviet Union supplied by Western bankers and governments have, in the words of Jesse Helms, "served to build the Soviet war machine and to keep the people and nations contained within the Soviet borders and in Soviet satellites in slavery."
When, for the sake of greed, trade becomes treason and compromise becomes collusion, lines of credit form ropes of bondage.
ConclusionTHE LATE Dr. Bella V. Dodd had been an active member of the Communist Party, U.S.A., (CPUSA) since her college days in New York City and by the mid-'40s had become a member of the party's inner circle leadership. However, by 1950, after discovering the total deceitfulness of all things communist, she left the party and embraced Christianity.
Dr. Dodd revealed that during the worst days of World War II, the Kremlin told the leadership of the CPUSA that if they were unable to contact Moscow, they could obtain emergency orders directly from any one of three wealthy and powerful Americans living in the towers of a famous mid-town Manhattan hotel. She never publicly revealed the names of those men. However, in response to the inevitable question, "Who is the hidden power, the real leader, behind the entire world-wide communist conspiracy?" she stated, "If the final authority for the atheistic communist conspiracy could be unmasked, it would be Satan."
Bella Dodd had seen the conflict from both sides and she painstakingly explained that the ultimate objective of the Satanic conspiracy, of which communism was but one part, was the destruction of Christianity.
There seems to be no end to the struggle. However, in America's continuing fight against communism's ideological soulmates, socialism and humanism, we can surely take heart and be encouraged by the words of George Washington, written during those dark days of June, 1776, "If it be the will of God that America should be independent of Great Britain, and that this be the season for it, even I and these unhopeful men around may not be thought unworthy instruments in His hands . . . In this persuasion I resolve to go on, contented to save my country, or die in the last ditch."
ABOUT THE AUTHORROBERT HENRY GOLDSBOROUGH became alerted to the dangers of communism when in 1955, after his cum laude graduation from college, he took an intensive course on the strategy and tactics of communism from Louis Budenz. Budenz had been a U.S. Communist Party boss and editor of its official paper until he renounced communism and became a Christian.
Later, as a staff investigator for the House Committee on Un-American Activities, Mr. Goldsborough had the rare opportunity to study the habits and habitats, to investigate the strategy and tactics, and to see first hand that destructive breed the communist½in action. As a congressional investigator, one of his tasks was to prepare committee hearings thus witnessing events which are rarely, if ever, reported by the media.
The author resigned from the House Committee to become assistant editor of the highly respected intelligence report, INFORM. With agents in both hemispheres, INFORM gathered sensitive data on international revolutionary activity which often went undetected by government intelligence agencies.
At the request of Richard Arens, who as chief counsel for the Joint House-Senate Committee on Immigration, had drafted the McCarran-Walter Act, Mr. Goldsborough organized the American Committee on Immigration Policies to support and promote the security provisions of the McCarran-Walter Act. Although working in support of the law-of-the-land, he was subjected to undercover pressures from the highest levels of the Johnson administration to stop the work.
In 1975, Mr. Goldsborough developed a close personal friendship with Norman Dodd, former research director of the special congressional committee ordered to investigate tax-exempt funding of communism and socialism. He regularly visited Mr. Dodd at his home recording Dodd's experiences during the investigations of the Rockefeller, Ford, and Carnegie foundations.
Dodd's expertise was of particular interest, because in 1964, Mr. Goldsborough had written the best seller½MORE DEADLY THAN THE BOMB! which exposed foundation funding of communist and socialist activities.
For over 30 years, the author has lectured nationally to over 1,000 audiences½in person and over radio and TV. His speeches expose the dangers of illegal immigration, the strategy and tactics and goals of communism, the real meaning of detente, Fabian socialism and the power of such shadowy groups as the CFR.
In 1977, Mr. Goldsborough co-founded the editorial service and news letter WASHINGTON DATELINE. During the 12 years of continuous publication, he has written over 500 columns on world affairs, and vital current events. His clear, concise and logical analysis of issues has been widely praised by knowledgeable persons such as Senator Jesse Helms who wrote, "No column available to conservatives is more succinct, accurate and timely than WASHINGTON DATELINE," and President Ronald Reagan who wrote, "Thanks to you, we have begun our historic journey toward national renewal."
Mr. Goldsborough and his wife live in Baltimore, Maryland where they were both born and raised. Married for over 27 years, they have five children and one grandchild. lines.htm
http://www.biblebelievers.org.au/
United States-Russia Program: Improving Research and Educational Activities in Higher Education
Tue, 19 Dec 2017 02:56
United States-Russia Program: Improving Research and Educational Activities in Higher Education
Program Office:International and Foreign Language Education Service
CFDA Number: 84.116S
Program Type: Discretionary/Competitive Grants
Also Known As: U.S.-Russia Program
Program DescriptionProvides grants that demonstrate partnerships between Russian and American institutions of higher education that contribute to the development and promotion of educational opportunities between the two nations, particularly in the areas of mutual foreign language learning and the cooperative study in all subject areas.
Types of ProjectsThe U.S. Department of Education and the Russian Ministry of Education and Science will support collaborative projects comprised of partnerships of Russian and American universities and colleges.
Please click on this link to view the Google Map showing the 15 U.S.-Russia Program grants awarded between FY 2007 and FY 2010. The map includes pins for all U.S. and Russian-lead institutions.
Additional InformationThe U.S.-Russia Program is administered cooperatively by the U.S. Department of Education and the Russian Ministry of Education and Science. The U.S.-Russia Program emanates from an historic agreement signed by the U.S. Secretary of Education and the Russian Federation Minister of Education and Science on May 31, 2006. The Memorandum of Understanding between the two countries aims to promote understanding between the peoples of the Russian Federation and the United States.
Shut Up Slave!
The Twitter Rules
Mon, 18 Dec 2017 04:41
We believe that everyone should have the power to create and share ideas and information instantly, without barriers. In order to protect the experience and safety of people who use Twitter, there are some limitations on the type of content and behavior that we allow. These limitations are set forth in the Twitter Rules below.
The Twitter Rules (along with all incorporated policies), Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service collectively make up the "Twitter User Agreement" that governs a user's access to and use of Twitter's services.
All individuals accessing or using Twitter's services must adhere to the policies set forth in the Twitter Rules. Failure to do so may result in Twitter taking one or more of the following enforcement actions:
requiring you to delete prohibited content before you can again create new posts and interact with other Twitter users;temporarily limiting your ability to create posts or interact with other Twitter users;asking you to verify account ownership with a phone number or email address; orpermanently suspending your account(s).If you attempt to evade a permanent suspension by creating new accounts, we will suspend your new accounts.
Please note that we may need to change these Rules from time to time and reserve the right to do so. The most current version is always available at: https://twitter.com/rules.
The policies set forth in these Twitter Rules govern organic content on our platform. To learn more about the rules which govern ads and promoted content, please review our Ads policies.
Content Boundaries and Use of TwitterIntellectual property
Trademark: We reserve the right to suspend accounts or take other appropriate action when someone's brand or trademark, including business name and/or logo, is used in a manner that may mislead or confuse others about your brand affiliation. Read more about our trademark policy and how to report a violation.
Copyright: We will respond to clear and complete notices of alleged copyright infringement. Our copyright procedures are set forth in our Terms of Service. Read more about our copyright policy.
Graphic violence and adult content
We consider graphic violence to be any form of gory media related to death, serious injury, violence, or surgical procedures. We consider adult content to be any media that is pornographic and/or may be intended to cause sexual arousal. Learn more about our media policy.
Twitter allows some forms of graphic violence and/or adult content in Tweets marked as containing sensitive media. However, you may not use such content in your profile or header images. Additionally, Twitter may sometimes require you to remove excessively graphic violence out of respect for the deceased and their families if we receive a request from their family or an authorized representative. Learn more about how to make such a request, and how to mark your media as sensitive.
Unlawful use
You may not use our service for any unlawful purposes or in furtherance of illegal activities. By using Twitter, you agree to comply with all applicable laws governing your online conduct and content.
Trends
At times, we may prevent certain content from trending. This includes content that violates the Twitter Rules, as well as content that may attempt to manipulate trends. Read more about what we allow and do not allow to trend.
Misuse of Twitter badges
You may not use badges, including but not limited to the ''promoted'' or ''verified'' Twitter badges, unless provided by Twitter. Accounts using unauthorized badges as part of their profile photos, header photos, display names, or in any way that falsely implies affiliation with Twitter or authorization from Twitter to display these badges, may be suspended.
Misuse of usernames
Selling usernames: You may not buy or sell Twitter usernames.
Username squatting: You may not engage in username squatting. Some of the factors we take into consideration when determining whether conduct is username squatting include:
the number of accounts created;the creation of accounts for the purpose of preventing others from using those account names;the creation of accounts for the purpose of selling those accounts; andthe use of third-party content feeds to update and maintain accounts under the names of those third parties.Please note that Twitter may also remove accounts that are inactive for more than six months. Learn more about username squatting.
Abusive BehaviorWe believe in freedom of expression and open dialogue, but that means little as an underlying philosophy if voices are silenced because people are afraid to speak up. In order to ensure that people feel safe expressing diverse opinions and beliefs, we prohibit behavior that crosses the line into abuse, including behavior that harasses, intimidates, or uses fear to silence another user's voice.
Context matters when evaluating for abusive behavior and determining appropriate enforcement actions. Factors we may take into consideration include, but are not limited to whether:
the behavior is targeted at an individual or group of people;the report has been filed by the target of the abuse or a bystander;the behavior is newsworthy and in the legitimate public interest.Violence and physical harm
Violence: You may not make specific threats of violence or wish for the serious physical harm, death, or disease of an individual or group of people. This includes, but is not limited to, threatening or promoting terrorism. You also may not affiliate with organizations that '-- whether by their own statements or activity both on and off the platform '-- use or promote violence against civilians to further their causes. We will begin enforcing this rule around affiliation with such organizations on December 18, 2017.
Suicide or self-harm: You may not promote or encourage suicide or self-harm. When we receive reports that a person is threatening suicide or self-harm, we may take a number of steps to assist them, such as reaching out to that person and providing resources such as contact information for our mental health partners.
Child sexual exploitation: You may not promote child sexual exploitation. Learn more about our zero-tolerance child sexual exploitation policy.
Abuse and hateful conduct
Abuse: You may not engage in the targeted harassment of someone, or incite other people to do so. We consider abusive behavior an attempt to harass, intimidate, or silence someone else's voice.
Unwanted sexual advances: You may not direct abuse at someone by sending unwanted sexual content, objectifying them in a sexually explicit manner, or otherwise engaging in sexual misconduct.
Hateful conduct: You may not promote violence against, threaten, or harass other people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or serious disease. Read more about our hateful conduct policy.
Hateful imagery and display names: You may not use hateful images or symbols in your profile image or profile header. You also may not use your username, display name, or profile bio to engage in abusive behavior, such as targeted harassment or expressing hate towards a person, group, or protected category. We will begin enforcing this rule on December 18, 2017.
Private information and intimate media
Private information: You may not publish or post other people's private information without their express authorization and permission. Definitions of private information may vary depending on local laws. Read more about our private information policy.
Intimate media: You may not post or share intimate photos or videos of someone that were produced or distributed without their consent. Read more about intimate media on Twitter.
Threats to expose / hack: You may not threaten to expose someone's private information or intimate media. You also may not threaten to hack or break into someone's digital information.
Impersonation
You may not impersonate individuals, groups, or organizations in a manner that is intended to or does mislead, confuse, or deceive others. While you may maintain parody, fan, commentary, or newsfeed accounts, you may not do so if the intent of the account is to engage in spamming or abusive behavior. Read more about our impersonation policy.
Spam and SecurityWe strive to protect people on Twitter from technical abuse and spam.
To promote a stable and secure environment on Twitter, you may not do, or attempt to do, any of the following while accessing or using Twitter:
Access, tamper with, or use non-public areas of Twitter, Twitter's computer systems, or the technical delivery systems of Twitter's providers (except as expressly permitted by the Twitter Bug Bounty program).Probe, scan, or test the vulnerability of any system or network, or breach or circumvent any security or authentication measures (except as expressly permitted by the Twitter Bug Bounty program).Access or search, or attempt to access or search, Twitter by any means (automated or otherwise) other than through our currently available, published interfaces that are provided by Twitter (and only pursuant to the applicable terms and conditions), unless you have been specifically allowed to do so in a separate agreement with Twitter. Note that crawling Twitter is permissible if done in accordance with the provisions of the robots.txt file; however, scraping Twitter without our prior consent is expressly prohibited.Forge any TCP/IP packet header or any part of the header information in any email or posting, or in any way use Twitter to send altered, deceptive, or false source-identifying information.Interfere with or disrupt the access of any user, host or network, including, without limitation, sending a virus, overloading, flooding, spamming, mail-bombing Twitter's services, or by scripting the creation of content in such a manner as to interfere with or create an undue burden on Twitter.Any accounts engaging in the following activities may be temporarily locked or subject to permanent suspension:
Malware/Phishing: You may not publish or link to malicious content intended to damage or disrupt another person's browser or computer or to compromise a person's privacy. Spam: You may not use Twitter's services for the purpose of spamming anyone. Spam is generally defined on Twitter as bulk or aggressive activity that attempts to manipulate or disrupt Twitter or the experience of users on Twitter to drive traffic or attention to unrelated accounts, products, services, or initiatives. Some of the factors that we take into account when determining what conduct is considered to be spamming include:if you have followed and/or unfollowed a large number of of accounts in a short time period, particularly by automated means (aggressive following or follower churn);if your Tweets or Direct Messages consist mainly of links shared without commentary;if a large number of people have blocked you in response to high volumes of untargeted, unsolicited, or duplicative content or engagements from your account;if a large number of spam complaints have been filed against you;if you post duplicative or substantially similar content, replies, or mentions over multiple accounts or multiple duplicate updates on one account, or create duplicate or substantially similar accounts;if you post multiple updates to a trending or popular topic with an intent to subvert or manipulate the topic to drive traffic or attention to unrelated accounts, products, services, or initiatives;if you send large numbers of unsolicited replies or mentions;if you add users to lists in a bulk or aggressive manner;if you are randomly or aggressively engaging with Tweets (e.g., likes, Retweets, etc.) or users (e.g., following, adding to lists or Moments, etc.) to drive traffic or attention to unrelated accounts, products, services, or initiatives;if you repeatedly post other people's account information as your own (e.g., bio, Tweets, profile URL, etc.);if you post misleading, deceptive, or malicious links (e.g., affiliate links, links to malware/clickjacking pages, etc.);if you create fake accounts, account interactions, or impressions;if you sell, purchase, or attempt to artificially inflate account interactions (such as followers, Retweets, likes, etc.); andif you use or promote third-party services or apps that claim to get you more followers, Retweets, or likes (such as follower trains, sites promising "more followers fast", or any other site that offers to automatically add followers or engagements to your account or Tweets).Please see our support articles on following rules and best practices and automation rules and best practices for more detailed information about how the Rules apply to those particular account behaviors. Accounts created to replace suspended accounts may be permanently suspended.
Content VisibilityAccounts under investigation or which have been detected as sharing content in violation of these Rules may have their account or Tweet visibility limited in various parts of Twitter, including search. To learn more about situations in which content may be restricted on Twitter, please see our support article on search rules and restrictions.
Twitter starts enforcing new policies on violence, abuse, and hateful conduct - The Verge
Tue, 19 Dec 2017 09:32
Twitter says it will now begin enforcing the new rules it announced last month to combat abuse and hateful conduct, including threats of violence and physical harm. The new rules expand policies to abusive or threatening content in usernames and profiles, and to accounts affiliated with hate groups both on and off platform.
Twitter has struggled with violent, offensive, or hateful content, even granting verification badges before removing them from prominent white nationalists as hate speech and abuse have proliferated on the platform. Twitter has also been criticized for the seemingly arbitrary way it enforces its rules and has previously said it plans to do a better job of responding to users' reports of abuse.
Under Twitter's policies, specific threats of violence, death, or disease to an individual or a group of people was already considered a violation. The new rules will apply to accounts including those that affiliate themselves with organizations that ''use or promote violence against civilians to further their causes.'' Twitter says it will require tweets that glorify violence or the perpetrators of a violent act to be removed, and will permanently suspend accounts that repeatedly violate this rule.
There is one notable exception: the policy changes don't apply to military or government entities. That would seemingly give President Trump carte blanche to continue his threats against ''the little rocket man,'' and to continue promoting violent xenophobic videos favored by far-right extremists, even when they've been disproven as fake news.
Twitter will also permanently suspend accounts where profile information includes violent threats and racist or sexist tropes, that incite fear, or reduce people to less than human terms. It's also classifying hateful imagery like logos, symbols, or images that are used to promote hostility against others based on race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or ethnicity as ''sensitive media.'' Twitter says if these images appear in the header or profile images, it will require account owners to remove them.
''In our efforts to be more aggressive here, we may make some mistakes and are working on a robust appeals process,'' Twitter said in a statement. ''We'll evaluate and iterate on these changes in the coming days and weeks, and will keep you posted on progress along the way.'' Twitter is also planning to develop internal tools to identify violating accounts to supplement user reports. The enforcement of these rules will be a welcome step given how rampant offensive content can be on the platform, but the test will be whether or not Twitter will enforce them consistently.
New Facebook algorithm update attempts to quell ''engagement bait'' posts | Ars Technica
Tue, 19 Dec 2017 11:16
Facebook news feeds can get pretty cluttered, especially with clickbait posts fishing for as many likes, shares, and comments as possible. But it appears that enough users have complained to Facebook about these posts that the social media platform will start cracking down on what it is calling "engagement bait." In a Facebook blog post, the company explains it will demote engagement bait posts and pages starting this week.
The company defines engagement bait posts as any that encourage interaction to "artificially boost engagement" and glean more reach on the site'--posts that say, "Like this post if you're an Aries or Love this if you're a Leo," and other spam-like messages. Facebook has reviewed and categorized thousands of posts like this so it could update its news feed algorithm to identify engagement bait posts and demote them on your news feed.
The hope is that with the new demotion policies, spam posts won't be shown as often on your news feed, and those that post engagement bait will stop doing so. Facebook is also implementing stricter policies for pages that "systematically and repeatedly use engagement bait to artificially gain reach." These rules will roll out over the next few weeks, so publishers should keep them in mind as they create new posts. Pages that consistently use engagement bait tactics will see the reach on those posts decline as these new rules are put into effect.
Facebook explains that it doesn't view all posts that ask for interaction as engagement bait: for example, posts that show a missing child report or ask for donations to a cause won't be targeted by the new demotion policy. Facebook considers those interactions as "authentic engagement" and claims its machine-learning model is smart enough to skip them while targeting spam posts that may use similar engagement tactics.
This will likely be a welcome change for most users who loathe scrolling through news feeds littered with engagement bait posts. Facebook has come down on other types of content before, including links to sites with terrible Web experiences, in efforts to clean up news feeds. However, Facebook doesn't share any metrics surrounding spam content, so it will be difficult to assess how effective this new program is in the long run.
NA-Tech News
Geekbench developer links iPhone performance issues to battery age and iOS updates | 9to5Mac
Tue, 19 Dec 2017 11:12
[Update: Developer Guilherme Rambo has discovered the software system, powerd (short for power daemon), that Apple put in place in iOS 10.2.1. powerd controls CPU/GPU speed and power. It also responds to thermal pressure and helps iPhones from catching fire.
Since powerd was first released in 10.2.1, this looks to be separate from the Low Power Mode feature and directly related to the performance and battery age issues.]
Last week we reported on the news that a new battery could solve performance issues with older iPhone models like the 6s. Today, Geekbench founder, John Poole, published an article describing his findings after diving deeper into the relationship between iPhone performance and battery age.
AirPodsThe Reddit thread that gained a lot of traction with comments from almost 1,000 users included some insightful ideas about what could be happening.
Many people might remember that iPhone 6S battery fiasco, which for many, was fixed with iOS 10.2.1, and that seemed to be the end of it. Apparently, the way it did this is by dynamically changing the maximum clock speed relative to the voltage that the battery is outputting, so that your phone can't draw too much power and shut down.
While Apple at first thought the battery issues were limited, it later released an update for the widespread problem.
Apple said that more users were affected than it initially thought, and said a fix was coming in the form of a software update. The company eventually released iOS 10.2.1 and touted that shutdowns were reduced by 80 percent on iPhone 6s devices and by 70 percent on iPhone 6 devices.
While many individuals used Geekbench to test out their own devices, founder John Poole set out to do his own in-depth testing to look into the relationship between iPhone performance and battery age.
To answer these questions I've plotted the kernel density of Geekbench 4 single-core scores for the iPhone 6s and the iPhone 7 running different versions of iOS. Scores obtained in low-power mode are not included in the distribution.
As can be seen in the results above, Poole notes that the issues become pronounced moving from 10.2.0 to 10.2.1 to 11.2.0.
When it came to the iPhone 7, the issue didn't appear to be present, until the test with iOS 11.2.
Poole concludes that the performance issues will increase over time and are caused by both battery age and changes to iOS.
First, it appears the problem is widespread, and will only get worse as phones (and their batteries) continue to age. See, for example, the difference between the distribution of iPhone 6s scores between 10.2.1 and 11.2.0.
Second, the problem is due, in part, to a change in iOS. The difference between 10.2.0 and 10.2.1 is too abrupt to be just a function of battery condition. I believe (as do others) that Apple introduced a change to limit performance when battery condition decreases past a certain point.
Poole believes that Apple added a software adjustment for iPhone 7 with iOS 11.2, similar to what it did to correct the iPhone 6s shutdown issues with 10.2.1. He goes on to share Apple may have created a misleading ''third state'' of slower iPhone performance without any notification that could convince users to upgrade their devices earlier than planned.
If the performance drop is due to the ''sudden shutdown'' fix, users will experience reduced performance without notification. Users expect either full performance, or reduced performance with a notification that their phone is in low-power mode. This fix creates a third, unexpected state. While this state is created to mask a deficiency in battery power, users may believe that the slow down is due to CPU performance, instead of battery performance, which is triggering an Apple introduced CPU slow-down. This fix will also cause users to think, ''my phone is slow so I should replace it'' not, ''my phone is slow so I should replace its battery''. This will likely feed into the ''planned obsolecense'' narritive.
Read Geekbench founder, John Poole's full article here.
Check out 9to5Mac on YouTube for more Apple news:
Tax Bill
Collins decries coverage of her tax bill support as 'unbelievably sexist' - POLITICO
Wed, 20 Dec 2017 08:34
Sen. Susan Collins, a key swing vote on the tax package, accused reporters of ignoring her influence over the final legislation and unfairly criticizing her efforts to pass a pair of Obamacare stabilization bills. | Jacquelyn Martin/AP
The Maine Republican decried the media coverage as premature and unfair.
By ADAM CANCRYN
12/19/2017 05:15 PM EST
Sen. Susan Collins on Tuesday blasted coverage of her support for the GOP tax bill as ''extremely discouraging'' and ''unbelievably sexist."
The Maine Republican, a key swing vote on the tax package, accused reporters of ignoring her influence over the final legislation and unfairly criticizing her efforts to pass a pair of Obamacare stabilization bills.
Story Continued Below
''I believe that the coverage has been unbelievably sexist, and I cannot believe that the press would have treated another senator with 20 years of experience as they have treated me,'' she told reporters in the Capitol. ''They've ignored everything that I've gotten and written story after story about how I'm duped. How am I duped when all your amendments get accepted?''
Collins, whom Obamacare supporters earlier this year hailed as a hero for blocking GOP repeal legislation, has faced intense criticism from those same voices for supporting the repeal of the law's individual mandate as part of the tax bill.
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She's also been criticized for conditioning her support for the Senate's tax bill on passage of a pair of bills aimed at stabilizing Obamacare markets. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has pledged to her they will pass '-- but House Republicans have balked at any "bailout" for insurers. That prompted speculation that her demands won't be met, as it's still not certain that the House will accept the insurance measures in a year-end spending bill.
But Collins, who has maintained throughout the tax debate that GOP leaders will follow through on their pledge, decried the media coverage as premature and unfair. She pointed out that she's already secured a series of changes to the tax bill itself, including the preservation of the deduction for large medical expenses, a capped state and local tax deduction, and hospitals' access to tax-exempt private activity bonds.
''The list goes on and on,'' Collins said. ''[Ohio Sen.] Rob Portman would tell you that I've had more impact than anybody who was not a conferee.''
Collins also singled out a report that she said included a line about how she ''didn't cry'' during a recent meeting with protesters, many of whom suffer from grave medical conditions. That line was later removed after Collins complained, but not before the story posted online.
''I can't imagine a reporter writing that about a male senator meeting with the same group, and, in fact, I have proof because they met with [Arizona Sen.] Jeff Flake,'' she said. ''So it's been extremely discouraging to see the press coverage on this given the significant impact that I've had on this bill.''
Collins said the reaction to her support for the tax overhaul has been mixed.
''We've had a lot of protesters, including those that have staked out my home on Sunday mornings,'' Collins said. ''But we've also had a great deal of support, from small business," for example.
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Armageddon
Cities face growing crisis as RVs become homes of last resort '' East Bay Times
Mon, 18 Dec 2017 04:37
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Robert Ramirez lives in an old RV, parked curbside in an industrial section of San Jose.
He knows one day soon he'll get that knock on his door. Police will politely ask him to relocate. Neither party will be happy, Ramirez said, but he'll agree to move along.
It's happened before, and he expects it will happen again '-- no matter how hard he tries to be a good neighbor and keep his vehicle and sidewalk clean. The 54-year-old lives on public assistance and collecting recyclables. ''I have to do whatever I have to do,'' he said.
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Bay Area cities are coming to realize what Ramirez already knows '-- parking tickets won't solve the problem of finding a place to live. From Oakland to San Jose, officials are struggling to cope with a growing influx of RV dwellers seeking a safe, permanent place for the only homes they can afford.
''We've never seen it like this,'' said Tom Myers, executive director of Community Services Agency of Mountain View, where the city averages more than three complaints a day about RV communities. ''We have to be prepared that this will be the new normal for us. It's a crisis.''
The Bay Area, which has some of the highest median incomes in the nation, has seen its homeless population grow. The number of residents in Alameda County lacking permanent shelter jumped nearly 40 percent since 2015, with 5,600 people now considered homeless, according to a federal census this year. Santa Clara County saw a 13 percent increase. While many RV residents don't consider themselves homeless, they are often included in overall homeless counts.
RVs are seen parked on South 7th Street in San Jose on Dec. 5, 2017. Government officials and homeless advocates have seen an increase in the number of working poor residents living in RVs on public streets. (Dai Sugano/Bay Area News Group) Bay Area cities have for years generally taken a laissez-faire attitude toward RV encampments, often responding only to neighborhood complaints. But as housing prices and rents rise '-- the median cost of a two-bedroom apartment is now about $2,500 in San Jose and $2,200 in Oakland '-- more residents are being pushed into alternative forms of housing.
As a result, local officials across the region are starting to conduct more aggressive parking enforcement and outreach to address housing for the working poor.
In Mountain View, officials say the increase in residents living in RVs and vehicles has led to a corresponding jump in complaints to the city. Neighbors report RVs parked near homes, and litter and garbage around trailers. In the last fiscal year, Mountain View police received 1,250 complaints about RVs and inhabited vehicles, a city spokeswoman said.
Myers said Mountain View has funded a staff member at the Community Services Agency to deal specifically with residents living in cars. Families sheltered in RVs have different needs than the traditional homeless population, including finding money to pay for vehicle repairs, he said.
''You're not just towing a vehicle,'' Myers said, ''you're towing somone's home.''
In Palo Alto, police this summer enforced 72-hour parking restrictions along El Camino Real next to Stanford University, where they estimated about 40 vehicles were parked.
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But Palo Alto spokeswoman Claudia Keith acknowledged that simply moving the RVs doesn't solve the underlying problem: a lack of affordable housing. ''It's not just a city problem. It's regional,'' Keith said.
Alicia Garcia, associate director of the nonprofit Project WeHOPE serving homeless clients in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties, said the agency has seen a four-fold increase in clients living in RVs.
The RV communities have popped up everywhere, she said, from abandoned department store parking lots in Oakland to the streets around high-tech campuses in Silicon Valley.
An RV is seen parked on South 7th Street in San Jose on Dec. 5, 2017. Government officials and homeless advocates have seen an increase in the number of working poor residents living in RVs on public streets. (Dai Sugano/Bay Area News Group) Most RV residents work, including some with high-paying tech jobs who have chosen to downsize, she said. Others are working poor, priced out of Bay Area apartments. Many can't afford the rent at RV or mobile home parks, which often have long waiting lists for a space.
''People who live in RVs don't consider themselves homeless,'' Garcia said. ''Rent is too expensive. They look at living in an RV as a viable option.''
Leaders of WeHope, which is based in East Palo Alto, have met with city leaders to come up with a solution to the problem, she said. Several churches have volunteered to allow the mobile homes in their parking lots, according to Garcia, but city leaders are still searching for new guidelines to address the encampments.
Last month, the city ordered about a dozen RVs to move before a rainstorm from Weeks Street, a low-lying road prone to flooding. City officials said some of the RVs had been dumping raw sewage into the street and storm sewers, creating a health risk for residents.
Community leaders acknowledge that writing parking tickets will not help the RV community find more stable housing. Santa Barbara began a different approach more than a decade ago with a safe parking program for RVs.
Recently, said Cassie Roach, coordinator for the New Beginnings Safe Parking Program in Santa Barbara, the nonprofit has consulted with several Bay Area city officials and faith leaders.
New Beginnings has contracts for about 130 spaces in 23 parking lots in churches, private businesses and government facilities. RV residents apply for a free parking permit, and can stay as long as they wish. The nonprofit provides basic security and liability insurance coverage for lot owners, Roach said. It also helps residents find social services and support agencies to help establish long-term housing.
As in Silicon Valley, most of Santa Barbara's RV dwellers have jobs but were forced out of homes and apartments by high housing prices. ''By and large,'' Roach said, ''these are just average individuals who have fallen on hard circumstances.''
Along South 7th St. in San Jose, near the San Jose State football stadium, a small community of RVs and campers have formed a makeshift neighborhood. The street had ample parking and sits across from a mobile home park and a large, family-owned RV repair shop, Leale's.
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Leale's operations manager Babette Shelton said they sometimes offer the RV owners odd jobs in the shop, which services luxury motor coaches and buses. The RV residents also call or walk in, looking for advice or parts to fix their vehicles, she said.
''We've seen it really boom in the last few years,'' Shelton said. ''These are human beings, looking for help.''
RV resident Robert Ramirez, 54, spends an evening inside his RV on Dec. 5, 2017. Ramirez supports himself by collecting recyclable materials and also gets government assistance. He wishes he could park his trailer in a RV park for more stability in his life but he can't afford it. (Dai Sugano/Bay Area News Group) San Jose is researching new RV safe parking guidelines to present to the City Council next year, said Ray Bramson, acting deputy director of the San Jose Housing Department. But for now, city officials periodically roll through the street to enforce parking restrictions.
RV residents along 7th Street said police have been polite and helpful, but they ultimately force the campers to move. Ramirez has already moved his camper, with the help of friends who have a car. He would definitely join a waiting list for affordable housing.
He figures he could afford $300 a month, but he would have to spend more time collecting cans, bottles and scrap metal to make that rent.
DPRK
U.S. Accuses North Korea of Mounting WannaCry Cyberattack - The New York Times
Tue, 19 Dec 2017 11:07
But the decision to name the North also stands in stark contrast to how Mr. Trump has dealt with evidence that Russian hackers, under orders from President Vladimir V. Putin, organized the attack on the Democratic National Committee and the information warfare campaign that was meant to influence the 2016 election. Mr. Trump has often dismissed the intelligence finding that Russia was behind the hacking, declaring last month, ''Putin said he did not do what they said he did.''
It is the same intelligence agencies '-- and some of the government's same experts '-- that built the case against North Korea, according to members of the intelligence community who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the investigation.
But the third, and perhaps most delicate, element of the WannaCry attack revolves around a fact that Mr. Bossert did not address in his op-ed: The North exploited vulnerabilities in software developed by the division of the National Security Agency that builds the United States' cyberweapons. The code pulled off networks and computers compromised by WannaCry appears to have its roots in what the agency formerly called theTailored Access Operationsdivision, which devised online breaches.
Once it was clear the code had been stolen, the National Security Agency rushed to contain the damage, asking Microsoft to build a ''patch'' in its operating systems to prevent the attacks. But the agency has never talked about the group that stole the computer code, called the Shadow Brokers, which many officials believe is operating on behalf of the Russian government. But Mr. Bossert and his deputy, Rob Joyce, who formerly ran the Tailored Access Operations, have argued that it is the perpetrator of the attacks, not the United States government, that must take all of the responsibility for the damage it has wreaked.
''The consequences and repercussions of WannaCry were beyond economic,'' Mr. Bossert wrote. ''The malicious software hit computers in the U.K.'s health care sector particularly hard, compromising systems that perform critical work. These disruptions put lives at risk.''
The assertion by the White House came only hours after Mr. Trump published his new national security strategy, which calls for pushing back on states that sponsor cyberactivity. And even some alumni of the Obama administration now agree that they often underreacted to a range of digital threats, including Iran's 2012 attacks on American banks, the hacking at Sony and the effort by Russia to intervene in the election. Until now, North Korea's cyberstrikes have prompted almost no punishment.
Mr. Bossert seems determined to change that, and he wrote about elements of a new digital strategy that suggests that the Trump administration will be more aggressive in alerting manufacturers to flaws found in their software. But he has been vague about what kind of actions might be taken against those who initiate cyberattacks.
Robert Hannigan, the former director of Britain's Government Communications Headquarters, said last month that in the realm of digital breaches, North Korea had benefited from being underestimated.
''Because they are such a mix of the weird and absurd and medieval and highly sophisticated, people didn't take it seriously,'' he said. ''How can such an isolated, backward country have this capability? Well, how can such an isolated backward country have this nuclear ability?''
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A version of this article appears in print on December 19, 2017, on Page A18 of the New York edition with the headline: U.S. Accuses North Korea of Cyberattack on British Health System.
Continue reading the main story
Net Neutrality
ISPs won't promise to treat all traffic equally after net neutrality - The Verge
Tue, 19 Dec 2017 09:40
The FCC voted to put an end to net neutrality, giving internet providers free rein to deliver service at their own discretion. There's really only one condition here: internet providers will have to disclose their policies regarding ''network management practices, performance, and commercial terms.'' So if ISPs want to block websites, throttle your connection, or charge certain websites more, they'll have to admit it.
We're still too far out to know exactly what disclosures all the big ISPs are going to make '-- the rules (or lack thereof) don't actually go into effect for another few months '-- but many internet providers have been making statements throughout the year about their stance on net neutrality, which ought to give some idea of where they'll land.
We reached out to 10 big or notable ISPs to see what their stances are on three core tenets of net neutrality: no blocking, no throttling, and no paid prioritization. Not all of them answered, and the answers we did get are complicated.
Internet providers have been forced to behave '-- and they use that as proof nothing will change
Many ISPs say they support some or all of these core rules, but there's a big caveat there: for six of the past seven years, there have been net neutrality rules in place at the FCC. That means all of the companies we checked with have had to abide by the no blocking, no throttling, and no paid prioritization rules. It means that they can say, and be mostly correct in saying, that they've long followed those rules. But it is, on some level, because they've had to.
What actually matters is which policies ISPs say they'll keep in the future, and few are making commitments about that. In fact, all of the companies we contacted (with the exception of Google) have supported the FCC's plan to remove the current net neutrality rules. And one has to ask: if ISPs really plan to voluntarily follow those rules in the future, then why did they want to see them overturned? It's clear that there must be some restrictions that we'll ultimately see ISPs start to break.
In particular, none of the ISPs we contacted will make a commitment '-- or even a comment '-- on paid fast lanes and prioritization. And this is really where we expect to see problems: ISPs likely won't go out and block large swaths of the web, but they may start to give subtle advantages to their own content and the content of their partners, slowly shaping who wins and loses online.
With that in mind, here's what we know about some of the biggest internet providers' plans for a world without net neutrality
ComcastComcast has an extremely brief page on its website dedicated to net neutrality, where the company makes three statements. The only important one is this: ''We do not block, slow down, or discriminate against lawful content.'' It's a present-tense statement '-- not a promise '-- and has to be true because the current FCC rules require it.
In an email to The Verge, Comcast's government communications SVP, Sena Fitzmaurice, said that the company's business practices have ''enshrined'' these stances around lawful content. I asked if these commitments were guaranteed into the future, but didn't receive a response.
Notably, Comcast doesn't say much about paid prioritization either. It actually used to, but Comcast removed a line from its open internet site back in April saying that it doesn't prioritize internet traffic or create paid fast lanes, suggesting it isn't willing to make that part of its platform. The company has repeatedly reiterated that it does not offer paid fast lanes and currently has ''no plans to do so,'' but it hasn't said that it never will.
Comcast also doesn't have a public stance on zero-rating, something that'll be increasingly important as the company puts data caps on its subscribers. Those data caps are high enough right now that it's doubtful many subscribers will hit them, but that's likely to change in the future as 4K video eats up more and more bandwidth.
Takeaway: Comcast says it currently doesn't block, throttle content, or offer paid fast lanes, but hasn't committed to not doing so in the future.
Disclosure: Comcast is an investor in Vox Media, The Verge's parent company.
AT&TAT&T actually makes some fairly specific commitments on net neutrality principles. On its network management page, the company says it ''does not favor certain websites or internet applications'' by blocking or throttling, except for security purposes.
More importantly, AT&T's SVP of external and legislative affairs, Bob Quinn, wrote in a blog post that these policies are here to stay. ''[These commitments] represent a guarantee to our customers that we will provide service in an open and transparent way,'' Quinn wrote. ''They have been, and will continue to be, enforceable commitments. We will not remove that language and we will continue to update any changes we make to our network management practices.''
So that's actually pretty good as far as ISP commitments go. But it does leave out two things:
The first is zero-rating. AT&T actually explicitly says elsewhere that it thinks zero-rating is a good thing. The company's EVP of regulatory and state external affairs, Joan Marsh, calls it ''unambiguously beneficial to consumers.'' AT&T already runs a zero-rating program, called Sponsored Data, and it's obviously not going to stop.
The other question is around paid prioritization. Does AT&T's no throttling commitment mean it won't create fast and slow lanes? Probably not. While paid fast lanes effectively throttle whoever doesn't pay, ISPs draw a distinction between the two practices. Which means that, like Comcast, paid prioritization remain a possibility, even if it's not something AT&T is doing today. We've reached out on this point for clarification but haven't heard back.
Takeaway: AT&T has committed to not blocking or throttling websites in the future. However, its stance around fast lanes is unclear.
VerizonLike Comcast, Verizon has a website dedicated to explaining its stance on net neutrality principles. Unlike Comcast, it's quite wordy '-- though it doesn't actually say all that much.
Verizon seems to say it's committed to not blocking legal content, though it does so in a roundabout way, writing that customers ''can access and use the legal content, applications, and services of your choice, regardless of their source.'' Verizon spokesperson Rich Young says that even after the rules are lifted, ''our internet customers will continue to be able to go where they want and do what they want online.''
As for throttling, zero-rating, and paid prioritization, Verizon doesn't have an answer. Verizon already offers zero-rated services (it runs a program with the obnoxious name ''FreeBee Data 360,'' which Verizon's own Go90 service takes advantage of), so that one's answered. That practice is likely to continue, if not expand to cover other Verizon content.
When it comes to throttling and paid prioritization, Verizon's net neutrality page actually seems to hint that fast lanes could happen. Verizon says it plans to ''innovate and create new services'' and that when it does so, it'll ''disclose to you the characteristics, capabilities, and terms of our various service offerings.'' We've reached out to Verizon for clarification.
Takeaway: Verizon indicates that, at least in the immediate future, it will not block legal content. As for throttling and fast lanes, the company has no stance, and even seems to be excited to use the absence of rules to its advantage.
T-MobileT-Mobile is extremely vague on its commitments and declined to elaborate on them in emails to The Verge. The company's existing network management page says that it ''does not block lawful traffic based on content or subject,'' which, again, is a legal requirement at this point in time. T-Mobile also published a statement yesterday saying, ''we always have and will support an open internet,'' though it doesn't define what that means.
That's really all we have. And T-Mobile is well-known for providing zero-rated services, which can advantage some apps over others. Binge On, for instance, lets customers stream some video services for free, but not others. While it covers a wide range of services, it doesn't cover everything, meaning that some apps and sites necessarily have an advantage.
Takeaway: T-Mobile makes no commitments to not throttle content or offer paid fast lanes and is unclear on its commitment to not blocking sites and services. It's already involved in programs that advantage some services over others.
SprintSprint is fairly vague in its stance as well. Its website says that Sprint ''does not block sites based on content or subject, unless the internet address hosts unlawful content or is blocked as part of an opted-in customer service.'' So that generally seems to be a stance against blocking lawful content, with an exception for, say, parental controls. Though, again, this is legally required right now.
Aside from that, Sprint doesn't comment on throttling, zero-rating, or paid prioritization. And in an email to The Verge, a Sprint spokesperson seemed to indicate that the company would take advantage of these changes, saying the absence of net neutrality rules ''appears to allow Sprint to manage our network and differentiate our products.'' That differentiation, presumably, being through services that couldn't be offered before because they violated net neutrality.
When asked to clarify, a spokesperson said, ''It would be a big leap to hypothesize that means limited or zero-rated plans.''
Takeaway: Sprint makes no commitments on net neutrality, but suggests it doesn't have plans to offer a service that would block sites.
Charter (Spectrum)Charter, which recently bought Time Warner Cable and became the United States' second largest cable provider, says it has ''no plans'' to change its current practices. That's not a commitment, but it is a sign that some basic policies should continue.
In an email to The Verge, a Charter spokesperson pointed to a recent statement saying that the company has ''a longstanding commitment to an open internet.'' Charter also says it doesn't ''block, throttle, or interfere with the lawful activities of our customers'' or impose data caps or charge customers based on data usage. Those final items aren't legal requirements, and the lack of data caps does mean that Charter can't offer zero-rated services.
The company doesn't say anything about paid prioritization, however. And Charter didn't respond to a follow-up question on whether these are permanent positions.
Takeaway: Charter doesn't make any guarantees, but the company indicates that it's currently committed to not blocking or throttling customers.
CoxCox says that the FCC's vote won't change its commitments to net neutrality, which include not blocking or throttling customers. ''Cox has always been committed to providing an open Internet experience for our customers, and reversing the classification of Internet services will not change our commitment,'' a spokesperson said in an email to The Verge.
The company declined to elaborate beyond that comment. So Cox doesn't have any stance on paid prioritization or zero-rating, which the company can implement because it employs data caps.
Takeaway: Cox says it won't block or throttle content, even without net neutrality. It won't make commitments on zero-rating or paid fast lanes.
Altice USA (Optimum and Suddenlink)Altice, the parent company of Optimum and Suddenlink (as well as a number of foreign ISPs and internet companies), has next to no details available on its website. But in a comment emailed to The Verge, an Altice USA spokesperson said the company does ''not block, throttle, or unfairly discriminate against lawful content and [is] committed to ongoing transparency with our customers on those policies.''
The statement seems to be saying that, while Altice doesn't currently do these things, it'll keep customers updated if its blocking and throttling policies change. That said, Altice also says it's ''committed to delivering ... a superior broadband experience'' and that ''an open internet is critical'' to providing that. It's kind of roundabout, but it seems to indicate a general, if not all that specific, plan to stick to these policies.
Altice doesn't mention anything about zero-rating or paid prioritization, though. And while Optimum doesn't employ data caps, Suddenlink does, which could allow Altice to consider zero-rated services.
Takeaway: Altice doesn't currently block or throttle and suggests it will keep those policies, though without an explicit commitment. The company doesn't comment on prioritizing one service over another.
Google Fi and Google FiberYou'd think Google's two ISPs would be among the more progressive, but they're actually among the quietest of the group. Neither Fi nor Fiber has a particularly detailed explanation on its website, and after multiple requests for comment, we only received one brief statement from a Google Fiber spokesperson, saying ''The net neutrality order doesn't change anything at Google Fiber '-- we don't put any limitations on how you access or use the internet aside from the terms of service.'' This does not say much.
On their websites, both Fi and Fiber indicate that they don't block legal content. Fi writes that it is ''committed to providing an excellent user experience that supports any lawful product, service, or application.'' Fiber says it ''does not prevent or impede the use of any other product or service'' so long as it doesn't violate the company's terms of service. Fiber goes slightly further than Fi, also adding that it ''does not favor or inhibit any applications or classes of applications,'' aside from some basic network management.
While Google's two internet providers don't make clear net neutrality commitments, Google is the only company on this list not opposed to net neutrality (although it didn't feel all that strongly about Title II). On a website earlier this year, the company wrote that allowing companies to block, throttle, and prioritize content would ''threaten the innovation that makes the internet awesome.''
But none of those are commitments. And we were unable to even get a statement clarifying the existing positions at Google Fi.
Takeaway: Google doesn't make any promises regarding throttling and paid prioritization. However, it is the only company to state that it believes paid prioritization would be harmful.
Want To Guarantee Net Neutrality? Join Peer-To-Peer, Community-Run Int
Wed, 20 Dec 2017 08:43
In a typical week, NYC Mesh''a community-owned internet network in New York City''might get five requests from people who want to join. In the wake of the FCC's decision to roll back net neutrality rules, it started getting dozens of requests a day.
Without net neutrality protections, big telecom companies can choose to slow down or block certain sites. If you want to watch Netflix, for example, Comcast could decide to charge you more to access it. A community-run ''mesh'' network, by contrast, takes back control from corporations: Everyone on the network can agree to keep all content open. When a system is fully running, the people who use it can cancel their contract with a traditional internet service provider and stop paying any monthly bills.
[Photo: NYC Mesh]In Manhattan, NYC Mesh put a large antenna on top of a building connected directly to the internet through fiber optic cable. This ''supernode,'' supported by a network of point-to-point routers that volunteers install on rooftops and windows in the area, provides a fast connection for users in most of downtown. A second supernode is in place in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Bushwick, and two more are planned.
''I think with around 30 or 40 supernodes we could cover the whole city,'' says Brian Hall, a volunteer working on the project. ''It's going to take us a while, but that's our plan.''
It's something of a return to how the internet originally worked. ''One thing that inspires me is that the original idea of the internet was a network of networks,'' Hall says. ''Different organizations like universities or the Defense Department would form their own network, and then they would join them together, and that is how the internet formed. We're just getting back to the idea. We formed a network, and we join our network with other networks, and get rid of the ISP layer that we don't really need.''
[Photo: NYC Mesh]Building this type of network can be challenging, and the existing efforts in the U.S. are small. Some projects, like a network attempted in Hoboken, New Jersey after Hurricane Sandy, never took off. In many cases, it's difficult to get access to the best locations for supernodes. ''The people who own masts up on hills or who own tall buildings have become accustomed to the fact that they can charge large monthly rental costs to big ISPs,'' says Marc Juul, one of the co-creators of the People's Open Network, a Bay Area-based mesh network in the early stages in Oakland.
Unlike big telecom companies, which rely solely on a small number of these expensive relay points, a mesh network can route internet from house to house. Having a dense network of participants can keep the bandwidth high and makes the network resilient. But building a comprehensive network is also difficult. ''One of the problems in starting a mesh network is bootstrapping''how you get a mesh network from nothing to actually existing,'' says Juul. ''Every time someone comes and wants to be on the mesh, in the beginning, they're very likely going to be very far away from anyone else on the mesh.''
[Photo: NYC Mesh]To start, those who want to be a part of People's Open Network can buy a cheap, off-the-shelf dual-band router that the group has programmed with open-source mesh software. Once plugged in, it works as both a wireless hotspot and a router. If it's in range of another router on the mesh network, it automatically connects. But until the network is big enough, people are using the routers differently''continuing to pay a traditional internet service provider, and sharing a little of their bandwidth with others in range. If a volunteer wants to take the next step, they can install an ''extender'' node on their roof or in a window, pointed at another node in the network.
[Photo: NYC Mesh]All of this requires volunteers to install the equipment, which is another challenge. People's Open Network wants to avoid charging for installation like a traditional ISP, because it doesn't want to establish a traditional customer service relationship where customers are passive and uninformed. ''What we're trying to do is something horizontal, where everyone is part of the internet,'' says Juul. ''Everyone is a node on the internet that makes it possible for the internet to exist. We're really trying not to get into that state of mind where people are thinking that the internet is delivered to them by someone else.''
It's becoming easier as the hardware improves; some new equipment that will be on the market in early 2018 is smaller and simple to mount with a zip tie. People's Open Network also runs workshops that teach anyone how to install a node. In 2018, the group will likely run a Kickstarter campaign to launch nodes in a large number of homes at once.
It's feasible, they say, for community-run networks like these to eventually replace traditional ISPs. If a community can get cheap internet from a Tier 1 provider''in the Bay Area, the group is working with a company called Hurricane Electric that has a global network and low rates''and because the hardware is getting cheaper, then ''you can serve a lot of people for almost no money . . . the bandwidth cost goes toward zero if enough people share it,'' he says.
In some locations, including large parts of Spain, this type of network is already operational. The Spanish Guifi network has more than 30,000 active nodes. If it can succeed in the U.S., mesh networks could help avoid the problems that come with traditional internet service providers; participants can sign agreements to uphold net neutrality. People's Open Network others are working on a network commons license that the group plans to adopt next year.
The mesh could also eventually replace cell service providers, using hardware built to a new LTE standard that allows anyone to create their own cellular base stations (without the expensive licenses that were previously necessary). ''That would really expand what the mesh could be used for,'' Juul says.
About the authorAdele Peters is a staff writer at Fast Company who focuses on solutions to some of the world's largest problems, from climate change to homelessness. Previously, she worked with GOOD, BioLite, and the Sustainable Products and Solutions program at UC Berkeley.
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BTC
The S curve of adoption LOL
Bitcoin.com co-founder: Sell all your bitcoins, it's "useless" - Business Insider Nordic
Tue, 19 Dec 2017 09:14
Bitcoin is ''as good as useless'' and has no future as a tradeable currency says Emil Oldenburg, the co-founder and CTO of bitcoin.com, one of the world's largest bitcoin websites.
Oldenburg has sold his bitcoins and believes others will do the same when they realize how illiquid the market is.
He says bitcoin's drawbacks are high fees and transaction lead times - a heated topic of discussion in the community today - and resistance to change from people running the old bitcoin network.
Oldenburg believes there's a brighter future for Bitcoin Cash, a spinoff currency of bitcoin that is now being actively promoted by bitcoin.com.
Bitcoin.com is one of the world's largest bitcoin sites, having grown its profile this year thanks to the remarkable price surge of the cryptocurrency. But its cofounder and CTO, Emil Oldenburg, a Swedish native, is extremely skeptical when it comes to bitcoin's future.
''I would say an investment in bitcoin is right now the riskiest investment you can make. There's an extremely high risk,'' he says in an interview with Swedish tech site Breakit.
Although Oldenburg is far from the first to criticize the cryptocurrency's viability as an investment asset, his position as an industry insider does stand out '' even as he migrates to its spinoff, bitcoin cash (BCH).
''I have in fact sold all my bitcoins recently and switched to bitcoin cash,'' he says, referring to the currency that split from bitcoin in August and recently overtook Ethereum as the world's second-largest cryptocurrency. Bitcoin Cash has also gained the strong support of Oldenburg's co-founder, Roger Ver.
Oldenburg's big problem with bitcoin is high transaction costs and lead times. Indeed, by some counts, bitcoin transaction fees are doubling every three months, and it now takes on average 4,5 hours to confirm a bitcoin transaction. Ars Technica reported that fees reached $26 per trade recently.
"When people realize how bitcoin works, they will start to sell'' While buying, selling or trading bitcoin is not an issue today, Oldenburg says, problems surface when bitcoin transactions are recorded on the blockchain, the digital ledger that records each transaction.
There's only a limited amount of transactions per second you can make in the bitcoin network, which in part depends on the ''block size'' of the memory that store the transactions on the blockchain. This bottleneck makes for a highly risky and illiquid cryptocurrency, Oldenburg says, adding that "t he old bitcoin network is as good as unusable.''
The reason why bitcoin holders haven't understood these risks, according to Oldenburg, is because most have so far only bought the cryptocurrency '' but never sold or traded with them.
''As soon as people realize that this is how it works, they will start to sell,'' he says to Breakit.
Read More: Bitcoin's illiquidity is going to be a huge problem when the bubble bursts As the chart below shows, t he lead times and fees associated with bitcoin transactions seem only to be increasing as new investors crowd the market in chase of quick returns.
Even though these "up to 12-hour transaction lead times" (when moving bitcoin to and from exchanges) could be adressed, Oldenburg sees no signs of change, because the currency is purportedly being run by the ''old" bitcoin network, the members of which he calls "fanatical bitcoin talibans".
''[They] want things this way. They see bitcoin as a digital gold and a technical experiment, as opposed to something you can actually use.''
"Bitcoin Cash is the future"In a move that could be considered ironic, Oldenburg says bitcoin.com is distancing itself from bitcoin (BCT) and has even stopped developing services around it '' to mostly focus on bitcoin cash (BCH).
''It only costs $0,012 [BI Nordic: 10 Swedish ''¶re'', the centesimal subdivision of krona] to send a [Bitcoin Cash transaction] and there are no lead times. The only drawback is that you need larger hard drives, but that's not a problem for most people,'' Oldenburg says to Breakit.
Oldenburg says the bigger "block size" limit of Bitcoin Cash, currently at 8Mb '' as opposed to bitcoin's 1Mb '' leads to lower transaction fees and a safer, more liquid investment.
All in all, he doesn't believe bitcoin will be the currency for everyday use the world has been hoping for.
''Not as long as the network is run by this group of people [in the old bitcoin network]. The solutions will be found in bitcoin cash, that's where I see a future.''
Based out of Tokyo but registered on S:t Kitts, bitcoin.com has tens of millions of unique monthly visitors, according to Similarweb, a web analytics site.
Bitcoin.com '' not to be confused with the non-revenue making bitcoin.org '' was founded in 2015 by bitcoin investor Roger Ver, and provides a range of services related to bitcoins, including a bitcoin casino, news services and its so called bitcoin ''mining pool'' '' the site's biggest single source of revenue '' where it forges new units of the cryptocurrency to be released for trading .
That said, the company has a heavy vested interest in the cryptocurrency markets, with Roger Ver taking an open stance for the new Bitcoin Cash and against "Bitcoin Core" (i.e., BCT) for reasons similar to Oldenburg's.
Oldenburg doesn't want to talk about bitcoin.com revenues or to what extent they depend on trades in BCH versus BCT, but he reveals to Breakit the company makes ''an awful lot of money".
As do its employees. Seeing that bitcoin.com pays its employees' salaries in bitcoin, many have struck gold on this year's price surge, Oldenburg says.
''All my salary in the past three years has been paid in bitcoin,'' he says.
*Correction, December 19: This article has been amended to reflect the fact that Roger Ver, the co-founder of bitcoin.com, is also an open proponent of Bitcoin Cash (BCH).
STORIES
Judge Declares Mistrial In Conspiracy Case Against Bundys : The Two-Way : NPR
Thu, 21 Dec 2017 16:12
Judge Declares Mistrial In Conspiracy Case Against Bundys : The Two-Way : NPRJudge Declares Mistrial In Conspiracy Case Against Bundys : The Two-WayJudge Gloria Navarro found that prosecutors willfully withheld evidence that could have helped the defendants, who were charged in the 2014 armed standoff over cattle grazing fees in Nevada.
Charlottesville, Va., Police Chief Retiring, As Fallout From 'Unite The Right' Rally | WBUR News
Thu, 21 Dec 2017 16:02
Charlottesville Police Chief Alfred Thomas listens earlier this month as an independent report on violence at a white supremacy rally is read at a news conference. Thomas announced his retirement Monday.Alfred Thomas, the Charlottesville, Va., police chief who faced an onslaught of national criticism over his department's handling of deadly violence at a white nationalist rally in August, announced his retirement Monday.
In a statement, Thomas wrote, "I will be forever grateful for having had the opportunity to protect and serve a community I love so dearly."
City officials said Thomas' departure would take effect immediately. They provided no explanation for the abrupt move by the law enforcement veteran.
But Thomas had been under intense scrutiny for several months following the "Unite the Right" rally '-- a demonstration by a coalition of white nationalist, white supremacist and other so-called alt-right groups from across the country '-- that ended in violence and the death of 32-year-old Heather Heyer. She was struck by a car while counterprotesting.
The bloody hit-and-run was captured on video and broadcast on news outlets for weeks.
An independent report issued earlier this month was sharply critical of Thomas' leadership. The 220-page document found law enforcement and city officials made several significant mistakes on the day of the rally and in preceding months. It called Thomas' response to the escalating chaos "slow-footed."
The report also said Thomas deleted text messages that were relevant to the independent investigation in the aftermath and created a climate wherein officers were made to feel fearful of retaliation for speaking with investigators. Thomas' attorney has denied the claims.
Although he did not respond to any of the specific findings, Thomas released a statement saying, "My hope now is that, as we move forward ... we can learn from the productive elements of this report, work together to address our shortcomings and recommit ourselves to serving the public in a way that gives our citizens the utmost confidence in their safety and wellbeing."
Thomas, who was appointed to lead the police department in April 2016, will be succeeded in the interim by Deputy Chief Gary Pleasants.
The city will begin its search for a new chief immediately.
Copyright NPR 2017.
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Al Franken shouldn't even think about 'unresigning'--Commentary
Thu, 21 Dec 2017 15:54
If Franken stays, that strategy loses a great deal of potency. People like Manchin may say they're only demanding different punishments for different levels of alleged misconduct. But it will come off as partisan hypocrisy and circle-the-wagons tactics.
2. All indications point to the fact that this harassment scandal hanging over Capitol Hill is just beginning. Remember, we just found out last month that there are still more than 260 documented cases since 1997 of sexual harassment and misconduct by members of Congress and their staffers. These are just the cases that included $17 million in cash settlements paid for by the taxpayers.
Right now, the names of the accused in those settlements remain sealed. But the chances of those settlements remaining secret are fraying by the day. Members of both parties have recently introduced bills to unseal those deals, and they could be leaked at any time.
Several reports say the tension is rising on Capitol Hill as some expect 30 to 50 members of Congress to be forced out just in the coming months when more misconduct cases are revealed.
If any Democrat thinks he or she can just ride out this wave and the worst is over, they're wrong. Someone like Senator Franken, who already promised to resign, seems like the least likely candidate to weather the storm.
3. Minnesota Governor Mike Dayton has already appointed his current lieutenant governor Tina Smith to replace Franken. Does Franken really want to hang on and literally deny a woman her opportunity to take a promised leadership role?
As they say in politics, that's bad optics on top of bad optics.
All of the above reasons are a perfect recipe for political suicide. Right now, the Democrats have big leads in all the major generic ballot polls for the 2018 midterm elections. Issues like President Trump's unpopularity and dislike for the tax reform bill are putting the wind at the Democrats' backs.
But the sexual harassment backlash story is shaping up to be an even bigger story in 2018 and could easily distract the voters from the Democrats' current advantages.
With that in mind, the question for the Democrats isn't whether they should encourage Franken to stick around but why they aren't pushing him to resign sooner.
Commentary by Jake Novak, CNBC.com senior columnist. Follow him on Twitter@jakejakeny.
For more insight from CNBC contributors, follow @CNBCopinion on Twitter.
Ford Shifts Grant Making to Focus Entirely on Inequality - The Chronicle of Philanthropy
Thu, 21 Dec 2017 14:29
The fight against inequality will take center stage at the Ford Foundation under a sweeping overhaul announced today by the nation's second biggest philanthropy.
Not only will Ford direct all of its money and influence to curbing financial, racial, gender, and other inequities, but it will give lots more money in a way grantees have been clamoring for: It hopes to double the total it gives in the form of unrestricted grants for operating support. The doubling of general operating support to 40 percent of the foundation's grant-making budget, projected to be in excess of $1 billion over five years, will enable Ford to create what its president, Darren Walker, calls a "social-justice infrastructure" reminiscent of the support it provided nonprofits during the civil-rights era.
"By giving a set of institutions core support or seed capital, we helped initiate and support entire movements," he said. "We contributed to an entire generation of social-justice leaders around the world."
Now, he says, Ford hopes that providing support without strings attached will help make organizations more "durable" and allow them more leeway in designing their own programs.
"We're going to move away from bending our grantees to fit into our boxes and do a better job of listening and learning," he said.
Technology and the ArtsFord joins a growing number of foundations pouring more money into programs that fight inequality. But its plans to look at every grant to ask how it reduces inequality is a more stringent approach than other foundations have taken. That said, the foundation is taking a broad interpretation of inequality '-- looking not just at wealth, race, ethnicity, and gender but also access to technology and the arts.
The changes announced today mark the first substantial revisions introduced by Mr. Walker, who became president of the foundation in 2013.
The new approach is a significant rejection of an approach undertaken in 2006 by Mr. Walker's predecessor, Luis Ubi±as.
Under that plan, the foundation's grant making supported eight causes: human rights, freedom of expression, democratic and accountable government, economic opportunity, education, sustainable development, sexuality and reproductive health, and social justice.
Now Ford will place a high priority on alleviating what it sees as the key causes of inequality, including broken political systems, discrimination, dwindling support for schools and other public institutions, and a belief that the free market alone can cure social ills.
The foundation will support programs that promote open government, push for more equitable distribution of wealth, strengthen education and opportunities for young people, showcase free expression, and work toward justice based on race, ethnicity, and gender.
Mr. Walker said the foundation will gradually "transition" to end its support for groups that don't work on issues related directly to inequality. But he stressed that many of the causes Ford has long supported will still be in the mix.
For instance, he said, though it doesn't fund scientific research on climate change and isn't likely to in the future, it will continue to support charities working on sustainability. In 2014, the foundation made $23.8 million in grants designed to strengthen local communities' control over their natural resources and to mitigate climate change among the rural poor. Future grantees, Mr. Walker suggested, will need to show they protect people who are disproportionately hurt by global warming.
And Ford, which started Lincoln Center in 1958 with $25 million in grants, won't abandon its support of the arts, according to Mr. Walker. But to catch the grant maker's attention, artists, filmmakers, and choreographers will need to focus on social justice and challenge "dominant narratives" that perpetuate inequality.
Support for OverheadWhile Ford's increased attention to inequality will probably attract the most notice in the public-policy world, Ford's signal that it will spend lots more on helping groups pay their operating costs will probably spark the most conversation among nonprofits.
Mr. Walker says he came to the conclusion that more general operating support was crucial after the foundation asked grantees and others to provide feedback on what they most needed. The comments he got from some 2,000 people who responded to his annual letter last September led him to believe that the foundation was "project-supporting nonprofits to death" without providing essential basic support to pay the rent, develop technology, and increase the number of staff members needed to carry out ambitious social-change efforts.
"I learned that people, especially nonprofit leaders, feel that foundations aren't investing in building their institutions, building their capacity, and making them more durable and fortified," he says. "That was a consistent theme."
Ford's pledge to increase general operating support would place it head and shoulders above some of its foundation peers, according to 2012 Foundation Center data on 809 foundations that the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy analyzed. In 2012, foundations gave, on average, 21 percent of their support in the form of unrestricted grants, according to the committee's analysis. In the three years that ended in 2006, an average of only 14 percent went to general support.
Aaron Dorfman, the committee's executive director and a supporter of unrestricted giving, says that when foundations make their grants too prescriptive, nonprofits are often locked into delivering services that can become outmoded or ineffective.
"Change is messy and unpredictable," he says. "There is a correlation between funding big societal movements and general operating support. General operating support is the way to make it happen."
Back to Ford's RootsWhen Ford last overhauled its overall strategy six years ago, the nonprofit world took an intense interest because the foundation is so big that its changes cause ripples throughout philanthropy, says Rick McGahey, a professor at the New School for Social Research, who served as director of impact assessment at Ford under Mr. Ubi±as.
Mr. McGahey says it's no surprise that Ford would want to retune its approach. Mr. Walker, he noted, spent the first several months on the job traveling the world to learn firsthand from program officers and grantees. The foundation president also hired several hand-picked leaders, including Hilary Pennington, formerly of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Xavier de Souza Briggs, former associate director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Obama, and they played a key role in shaping the new approach.
Under Mr. Ubi±as, Ford moved away from its role as a social-justice grant maker that supported civil-rights organizations for the long run into a more business-minded foundation that demanded performance from its grantees, said Stanley Katz, director of the Princeton University Center for Arts and Cultural Policy Studies
"He wanted to refashion Ford as a modern strategic organization," Mr. Katz said. "It failed."
In an interview before the changes at Ford were announced, Mr. Katz said that Mr. Walker has steered Ford back to its traditional role of supporting broad social-change movements that can take years or even decades to bear fruit.
He is skeptical of the ability of a foundation, even one as large as Ford, which controls $12.1 billion in assets, to make a big dent in fighting inequality. But he said the foundation under Mr. Walker has taken the lead on specific problems, such as the "Grand Bargain," in which 10 foundations ponied up $370 million (including Ford's initial $125 contribution) to help the City of Detroit emerge from bankruptcy.
"That's not bite-sized, but it's taking on the problem at a level a foundation can address," Mr. Katz said.
Joining Other Grant MakersFord isn't alone in staking out huge goals and focusing on ending the causes of social problems.
In recent years, several of the nation's largest foundations have pushed for systemic changes to accomplish their missions, notes Richard Marker, a grant-making adviser. As an example, he points to the Gates foundation's quest to eradicate malaria. The foundation supports a wide range of medical research, aimed at both prevention and cures. It also throws its support behind efforts to keep malaria on the agenda of policy makers in individual countries and at multinational organizations.
With $43.5 billion in assets, Gates dwarfs Ford. But Ford is still far bigger than other philanthropies: The third wealthiest is the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, with assets topping $10.3 billion.
"Their size empowers them to say: 'These problems are solvable,''‰" Mr. Marker says.
Mr. Walker acknowledges the size of the task ahead. But he stressed that the foundation is committed to building a movement to fight inequality whose impact will be seen over the long haul. The new strategy is just a starting point, he said. In the coming months, he expects to refine the foundation's approach.
"It certainly could seem like we're boiling the ocean," he says. "But we're going to have a very focused and strategic set of interventions around which we will hold ourselves accountable. We have enough humility to know the Ford Foundation isn't going to reverse inequality by ourselves. We hope we can contribute to slowing the trend."
Learn more:Read Mr. Walker's letter to grantees.
CompuServe Forums, RIP | Ars Technica
Thu, 21 Dec 2017 14:20
Enlarge/ CompuServe brought millions of Americans "online" for the first time'--before AOL and the Internet stomped it down. Now AOL is killing off CompuServe's venerable forums.In the 1980s and early 1990s, before America Online CDs clogged America's mailboxes and the word "Internet" had yet to be spoken by nearly anyone outside the tech world, CompuServe was the Internet for most people. Even as the Internet rose into more general awareness in 1994, CompuServe'--aka CompuServe Information Service'--was still how a significant majority of people in the US got "online." But AOL's move to a monthly subscription model instead of metered dial-up time in 1996 (plus something called the World Wide Web) was a death blow to CompuServe's dial-up business. WorldCom bought CompuServe's networks, and the information service ended up in the hands of AOL in 1998.
Yet somehow, CompuServe's Forums, the venerable discussion platform of the dial-up era, have lived on'--until now. As AOL and Yahoo become Oath, a Verizon Company, the last vestiges of CompuServe are finally being extinguished, Fast Company's Harry McCracken (one of the last CompuServe forum users on Earth) reports.
In an e-mail message, the CompuServe team at AOL announced that CompuServe Forums'--a somehow still-living archive of online discussions that largely predates even some of the cruftiest of Usenet groups'--would be removed on December 15. "For more than two decades, the CompuServe Forums paved the way for a wide variety of topics," the e-mail stated, "and we appreciate all of the participation and comments you have provided over the years."
CompuServe's usury rates of as much as $30 per hour to connect in the early 1980s kept me away from the service in my early computing days'--I preferred to dial into BBS systems, even when the long-distance bills came close to the gradually declining cost of CompuServe connectivity. I periodically would cave in and get an account to transfer some files, then cancel out when my trial usage credit ran out. The forums were sources of nuggets of knowledge, but generally those nuggets would require digging through massive amounts of know-nothing replies (and spending up precious dial-up time) to find.
But newspapers around the country believed with all their might that CompuServe would be the answer to making online news work. And even after I had moved to an actual Internet e-mail account at my own domain name, many of my friends and family were only reachable through their pre-generated octal numeric user IDs (7xxxx,xxx@compuserve.com).
Don't worry, CompuServe forum fans: you can always go to Google Groups.
Not fake news: 'Whatever' tops annoying word list, literally
Thu, 21 Dec 2017 14:19
Not fake news: 'Whatever' tops annoying word list, literallyDec. 18, 2017
POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. (AP) '-- The shoulder-shrugging reply "whatever" continues to annoy Americans more than other words or phrases, but "fake news" is coming on strong.
The annual Marist College poll of most annoying words and phrases found "whatever" topping the list for the ninth straight year. It was the pick of one third of poll respondents, who were given five choices.
The recent addition "fake news" was slightly ahead of "no offense, but" for second place, 23 percent to 20 percent. About one in 10 found "literally" to be most grating, as did a similar number for "you know what I mean."
The telephone survey of 1,074 adults conducted Nov. 6-9 has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
EU triggers unprecedented proceedings against Poland, sanctions could follow '-- RT World News
Thu, 21 Dec 2017 14:18
The European Union has triggered Article 7 against Poland, a procedure that could result in sanctions targeting Warsaw. The EU says Poland has violated democratic values with proposed judiciary reform.
The European Union's executive body triggered Article 7 of the EU treaty, branded the ''nuclear option,'' against Poland on Wednesday. It has been triggered for the first time since the foundation of the bloc.
The unprecedented measure was taken amid two-year tensions between the EU and Poland over the latter's judicial reforms. The bloc is concerned over ''a serious breach of the rule of law'' in the country, saying the reforms resulted in ''the absence of judicial independence.''
Read more
"It is up to Poland to identify its own model for its justice system, but it should do so in a way that respects the rule of law," it said in a statement.
Brussels gave Warsaw three months to address EU concerns, promising to reconsider the decision if Polish authorities ''implement the recommended actions.''
The first vice-president of the European Commission said that Warsaw had left it ''no choice,'' adding that the bloc still hopes to engage in ''a more fruitful dialogue.''
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said that the country is ''as devoted to the rule of law as the rest of the EU,'' and called on the EU partners for open and honest dialogue.
''I believe that Poland's sovereignty and the idea of United Europe can be reconciled,'' Morawiecki tweeted.
Polish Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro told Polish state news agency PAP that he is puzzled over the ''politically motivated'' decision, stressing Warsaw strictly adheres to EU laws.
The first step towards stripping Poland of its voting rights comes amid an ongoing dispute between Brussels and Warsaw. The EU says 13 reforms adopted by Poland in the space of two years have affected ''the entire structure of the justice system'' and enabled the executive and legislative branches ''to politically interfere'' with the judicial one.
Read more
Earlier this year, protests erupted over the efforts to change the judiciary system. Opposition parties, rights groups, judges' lobbies, the Council of Europe, the EU Commission, and European countries including Germany and France also said the proposed changes would erode judicial independence by bringing the courts under the direct control of the government.
Poland and the EU have also clashed over migration, as Warsaw has refused to accept migrants as part of a quota system devised during the European refugee crisis. Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo said in November that the decision has resulted in her country being seen as "a country free of terrorism."
Member states need unity to implement the sanctions, which have already been opposed by Hungary, who promised to veto any such move. Budapest has its own dispute with Brussels over migrant issues, with its PM Viktor Orban being one of the most vocal critics of mandatory migrant quotas. He has warned that quotas would result in ''tens of millions'' of migrants flocking to Europe.
On Wednesday, following the Article 7 announecment, the spokeswoman for the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party said that the EU's actions could be related to Warsaw's opposition to accepting Muslim refugees, according to Reuters.
Big Brother is watching? New Facebook facial recognition spots you even if you're not tagged '-- RT World News
Thu, 21 Dec 2017 14:09
Published time: 19 Dec, 2017 20:02 Edited time: 20 Dec, 2017 07:34
The world's largest social network has just rolled out a new feature of its facial recognition technology that will notify users when someone has uploaded a photo of them even if they haven't been tagged in it on Facebook.
The new feature sprang into action Tuesday. Facebook says it will ''help people better manage their identity'' on the platform ''using face recognition.'' Though not all of the network's over 2 billion users will be able to avail of the new feature as those in the European Union and Canada are excluded due to privacy laws which prohibit Facebook's use of facial recognition.
Under EU law, personal data can only be gathered legally under strict conditions, for a legitimate purpose. Furthermore, ''persons or organisations which collect and manage your personal information must protect it from misuse and must respect certain rights of the data owners which are guaranteed by EU law.''
Once Facebook identifies an image it thinks your face is in, it will send a notification to a new Photo Review feature, much like the Timeline Review feature when someone tags you in a post.
Read more
Within the review section, users can then choose to tag themselves, send a message to the person who uploaded the photo, report the image for breaking the site's rules or let Facebook know if the photo isn't of them.
''These new features help you find photos that you're not tagged in and help you detect when others might be attempting to use your image as their profile picture,'' Joaquin Quinonero Candela, Facebook's Director of Applied Machine Learning wrote.
Users can opt out of this new feature as Candela explains: ''If your tag suggestions setting is currently set to ''none,'' then your default face recognition setting will be set to ''off'' and will remain that way until you decide to change it.'' However if it is not, the user will have to opt-out.
This all sounds rosy, with Facebook just being the nice guy and allowing you better control over content about you but posted by others, but of course, it benefits the company too. More notifications equals more activity which in turn results in more ad impressions, the same can be said in relation to tagging.
More Allegations Made Against 'On Point' Host Ashbrook And WBUR | WBUR News
Thu, 21 Dec 2017 14:07
Tom Ashbrook in studio (WBUR file photo)More men and women have come forward to describe allegations against On Point radio host Tom Ashbrook and WBUR managers who they say failed to stop Ashbrook's alleged bullying.
There are now at least 23 current and former WBUR employees who've alleged verbal abuse, intimidation and/or unwanted touching by Ashbrook. That number includes the 11 accusers who filed a collection of testimonials early this month, triggering an investigation. In the 11 days since that investigation was launched and Ashbrook was placed on leave, 12 more current or former On Point and WBUR employees have spoken to a WBUR reporter. Some of those employees plan to report those complaints to investigators.
The complaints span the 16-year history of the show, although most are more recent. They come from 14 women and nine men. Fifteen say they went to managers, asking for help. Ten of the 23 say they left On Point mainly because of a hostile, demeaning work environment. Nine say they reported the alleged abuse to more than one manager. It's unclear what actions managers took prior to placing Ashbrook on leave, but most producers interviewed for this story say they felt abandoned or sacrificed by management. We agreed not to use their names because they fear retaliation or harm to their future employment.
The new allegations include women and men who say Ashbrook called them into the radio studio, told them they were ''worthless,'' and described their work using profanity. One remembers Ashbrook crushing the script she'd given him into a ball and throwing it at her. A male producer says Ashbrook would reminisce about a woman at a bar in Asia who could perform sex tricks with darts. A female producer says she remembers Ashbrook looking through the glass that separates the studio and control room, and muting his microphone to complain about a guest the producer had booked who was not in the studio. She says Ashbrook referred to the guest using an expletive and a highly offensive term for female genitalia. The producer says she stopped working for the show shortly thereafter.
"These allegations include new suggestions that are simply untrue," Ashbrook said in an emailed statement, after reviewing the complaints reported here. "Yes, I could be a tough boss, and yes we sometimes had editorial discussions that included sensitive topics. But these new allegations suggest behavior that is totally contrary to the way I try to live my life every day and treat those around me."
Producers say they would sometimes leave work in tears, feeling demeaned or, as one said, like they had been ''chewed up and spat out.'' They say they'd get calls or emails from Ashbrook after hours with more details about their ''bulls---'' efforts. Some incoming producers say they were warned about Ashbrook. An instructional document given to producers, and shared with a WBUR reporter, explains how to avoid triggering an outburst. Some producers also said they were coached: Never interrupt Ashbrook, never challenge him, and only answer ''yes,'' ''no'' or ''I'll check on that.''
Anger about Ashbrook's alleged behavior is also directed at managers who, employees say, didn't take meaningful action. Producers say one manager often told them, ''you shouldn't have set him off,'' or ''next time don't talk back.'' They say other managers urged producers to stand up to Ashbrook, saying the managers couldn't do anything because ''that's just Tom.'' Several producers say they were told ''you were warned about Tom'' or that ''some people can handle Tom, others can't.'' Two former producers say a manager implied Ashbrook's behavior was tough, maybe offensive, but not unacceptable. Four former producers say managers implied that their jobs could be at risk if they kept complaining.
WBUR General Manager Charlie Kravetz responded to a request for comment with a statement. It says that Boston University (BU), which owns WBUR, has launched a two-pronged investigation.
"I believe the swift response to these allegations speaks for itself and the seriousness with which the university and WBUR management takes these and all concerns brought to our attention," said Kravetz, who became general manager in 2011. "We must let these allegations proceed unhindered by any interference. Once the investigations are complete we will determine how to proceed."
Two male former producers who worked with Ashbrook in his earlier years on the show say he was a demanding but fair boss.
John Wihbey, who was a producer at On Point from 2007 to 2010, says he never saw behavior he'd call bullying.
"He was a tough boss, but held everyone to an equal standard, at least in my years there," Wihbey said. "I learned a tremendous amount."
Chris O'Connor says his three years at On Point, from 2001 to 2003, were "the most valuable work experience I ever had." He said that's because, in part, of Ashbrook's formidable presence.
"If demanding perfection is bullying, or telling someone that they screwed up in a very harsh way is bullying, then I did witness bullying in the workplace, because Tom definitely did not accept mistakes," O'Connor said. "The idea was, don't make that mistake again and if you continue to make that mistake you should look for a different job. To me that makes sense. I didn't necessarily like it but I understood."
O'Connor says he's surprised and saddened to hear others call On Point a toxic workplace.
"The allegations just seem misleading," O'Connor says. "Tom's fair; he's decent."
Neither O'Connor nor Wihbey remembers Ashbrook engaging in any sexual harassment or sexual misconduct.
In the past few years, women say they've brushed off alleged comments from Ashbrook like ''you're one hot mama'' or ''I like the way you fill that dress.'' A woman who worked occasionally with Ashbrook recently described the time she says he put a hand on her thigh, just below the hem of her skirt, and left it there while she tensed up. Several female producers say they came to dread deep shoulder and neck rubs from Ashbrook that would follow a blistering critique of their work. Producers interviewed for this story say only women received this unwanted touching.
In BU's two-pronged investigation, the sexual harassment allegations will be reviewed by the international law firm Holland & Knight. The workplace culture complaints will be assessed by the higher education management firm Longpoint Consulting.
It's not clear if all those who reported concerns about Ashbrook for this story will participate in the investigations. Some say they worry the process won't be completely independent of the station or BU. Others question the scope of the investigations and whether all managers involved will be held to account.
BU says it won't have any further comment while the investigations are underway. There's no indication of when they will conclude.
"I hope everyone will respect this process, which will allow me to respond more fully," said Ashbrook in his emailed statement. "This is a chastening ordeal, but I remain very proud of the wonderful work so many fine colleagues have done alongside me in the public interest."
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Super-MAGA-Winning for Christmas: U.S. Companies Announce Massive Employee Financial Benefits With Trump Tax Bill Passing'...
Thu, 21 Dec 2017 13:13
Nancy Pelosi and the Democrat party said the Trump Tax Reform bill was going to end up killing people. Perhaps if she was counting all the people injuring themselves while jumping for joy, she might be accurate.
Immediately following the passage of the Tax Cut Bill, U.S. companies are announcing their plans to increase the pay, benefits and bonuses of U.S. workers. This is almost too much winning'.... but we can take it'.... Super-MAGA-Winning:
(AT&T Story HERE)
Oh, but it doesn't stop with AT&T.
(Wells Fargo Story HERE)
(Fifth Third Bancorp Story HERE)
These are real, tangible and immediate financial results above-and-beyond the results within the tax cut bill.
Progressives will try to deny this reality; but this is what happens when the free market is allowed to control it's own wealth distribution. These are examples of those horrible corporations, as described by democrats, passing along tax savings directly to the people within the corporation.
'...''and we will win, and you will win, and we will keep on winning, and eventually you will say we can't take all of this winning, '...please Mr. Trump '...and I will say, NO, we will win, and we will keep on winning.'''...~ President Donald J Trump
And we haven't even gotten to the good stuff yet.
Remember, U.S. consumer spending represents two-thirds of GDP. These announcements today are only the beginning of how much additional money American workers will be finding in their paychecks.
Now do you see how MAGAnomics builds upon itself exponentially?
'...''Hold on to your economic britches peeps '' throw dem ju-ju bones out the windows '' grab hold of the young-un's, squeeze em tight and introduce them to 'capitalism unchained'. We are in uncharted MAGA territory now. Q4 will be well beyond 3.2%3.8% 3.9% 4.0%'... Well Beyond.'''...
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Rapper 'Eminem' Freaks Out Because Trump Keeps Ignoring Him
Thu, 21 Dec 2017 13:09
Eminem is still angry that President Donald Trump has not reacted to a viral rap video he produced earlier this month ranting and raving about the evils of the Trump administration.
''[Trump] makes my blood boil,'' Eminem said in a wide-ranging interview Monday about politics and race. ''I can't even watch the news anymore because it makes me too stressed out. All jokes aside, all punch lines aside, I'm trying to get a message out there about him.''
Eminem, whose newly released album discusses the US in the age of Trump, also argued that he has a litany of lines prepared if the president ever does respond to the 45-year-old rapper's tweets.
''I'm not going to give any away now, but I've got lines ready if he says something about me,'' Eminem said, adding that he gets ''flustered'' and stressed out whenever Trump's name gets brought up in conversation or in the media.
''At what point do you '-- a working-class citizen, someone who's trying to make s'-- better for you and your family '-- think this guy who's never known struggle his entire fucking life, who avoided the military because of bone spurs, who says he's a billionaire, is really looking out for you? He's got people brainwashed,'' Eminem said.
TRENDING:LiAngelo Ball Tells Truth About The Day He Said 'Thank You' To President
Eminem has repeatedly tried to get Trump to react to the rapper's five-minute freestyle rap at the 2017 BET Hip Hop Awards in October.
In a Dec. 7 interview with Elton John, for instance, Eminem continued his criticism of the president.
''We have a president who does not care about everybody in our country; he is not the president for all of us, he is the president for some of us,'' he said. ''He knows what he's doing.''
Eminem also said during a radio interview in November that he was disappointed Trump hadn't responded to his video.
''I feel like he's not paying attention to me '... I was kind of waiting for him to say something, and for some reason, he didn't say anything,'' he claimed.
Twitter users reacted to Eminem's comments.
Eminem apologized to Kim, attacked Trump and racism, addressed police killings, told the world what it feels like to be black, and tried to bring America together with an album! Say what y'all want, but he's #LEGENDARY! #REVIVAL
'-- Silverback (@Mavunga) December 15, 2017
Would have been stocking stuffers for my adult kids. He lost fifty million fans by attacking Trump.
'-- flossygo (@Flossygo) December 15, 2017
RELATED:Right After Trump's Tax Bill Passes, Actor Stephen Baldwin Drops Bombshell On His Brother Alec
Still crying that Trump didn't respond to him, Eminem's new album is getting panned.
When performers have to rely on virtue signaling over talent to maintain relevancy, their careers are pretty much finished.https://t.co/7xxKa8Ks7e
'-- Paul Joseph Watson (@PrisonPlanet) December 15, 2017
Reporters to Trump: Any thoughts on Eminem??
Trump: I like the blue ones. #NobodyCares
'-- Ms.Stevie Renee 👊 (@StevieRenee3) December 19, 2017
A version of the article appeared on The Daily Caller News Foundation website.
Snowden, privacy groups oppose new surveillance bill - CNET
Thu, 21 Dec 2017 13:08
Privacy-minded organizations scrambled Wednesday to marshal opposition to a bill introduced in the House of Representatives on Tuesday that would extend and expand US government surveillance powers.
Former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden joined the American Civil Liberties Union in an ask me anything, or AMA, discussion on Reddit to rally opponents to an amendment to the newest effort at updating 1978's Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The act lets the NSA snoop on foreign targets without a search warrant, but the ACLU, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Open Technology Institute say it goes too far by making it easier to sweep up information on US citizens as well.
"This bill would make current law measurably worse and open up new avenues for government overreach," ACLU lawyer Neema Singh said. "Instead of preventing the government from warrantlessly searching [FISA-related] databases for information about American citizens and residents, the bill could be interpreted as codifying this illegal practice."
It appeared the bill's opponents got their way at least for a time on Wednesday, as a result of different Republican Party priorities, according to The Washington Post.
Edward Snowden appeared via video at SXSW 2014
James Martin/CNET The fight against the surveillance bill embodies digital-era challenges for society. Data is more abundant than ever, but it's also more personal than ever and easier to search and process. The trick is to give intelligence agencies the power to spot terrorist plots without large-scale prying into everyone's Facebook posts, emails, text messages, photos and videos.
"If you get swept up in the dragnet and your comms somehow end up as results on an analyst's query, at that point, the NSA and FBI start considering your private records under a new legal status, calling them 'incidentally collected,'" Snowden said. "These 'incidentally collected' communications of Americans can then be kept and searched at any time, without a warrant."
A report accompanying the bill, though, says it "strikes the appropriate balance between privacy and national security." It "makes critical improvements to privacy and civil liberties while resulting in no negative operational impact to United States' surveillance authorities," the House Intelligence Committee report said.
In Congress, the bill's opponents have some support, including libertarian-leaning Sen. Rand Paul, a Republican from Kentucky, who said on Twitter, "I will actively oppose and filibuster any long-term extension of warrantless searches of American citizens," and Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, who responded, "I'll be right there with you."
The FISA surveillance provision expires at the end of the year, and Congress has been working for months on how to extend it. If the four-year extension in the latest bill fails, short-term extensions also are possible.
Snowden rose to prominence after leaking NSA files to media outlets, which published a series of stories about the US government's surveillance practices. He's living in Russia under temporary asylum and is wanted by the US government under the Espionage Act.
He's been a polarizing figure. Snowden has been called a traitor, and the House Intelligence Committee said in a 2016 report, "Snowden caused tremendous damage to national security."
Some are willing to see him in a different light. One Redditor asked Snowden if he'd run for president if he were pardoned with full immunity.
"I'm an engineer, not a politician, but of course I'd be glad to come home," Snowden responded. "I'd fight to fix the place, not to tear it down."
CNET's Terry Collins contributed to this report.
Special Reports: CNET's in-depth features in one place.
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Bitcoin Cash Trading Halted on Coinbase as Insider Trading Probe Begins
Thu, 21 Dec 2017 13:00
CryptoCurrency exchange Coinbase has stated that they are investigating possible insider trading on the release of Bitcoin cash on their trading platforms. This probe follows the large outcry on social media where people are crying foul that a huge price jump just hours before the new release was caused by insider trading by Coinbase employees.
Bitcoin Cash (BCC) is a fork of the popular Bitcoin cryptocurrency, where everyone who held Bitcoin at the time of the fork received an equal amount of Bitcoin Cash. When the fork occurred on August 1st, Bitcoin Cash was valued at approximately $300 USD. As time went on, it gradually picked up value to the point it was ranging between $1,400 - $1,800 USD through November and December.
Historic Price of Bitcoin Cash (Source: https://coinmarketcap.com)Suddenly, on December 18th, you can see a sudden increase in value where it jumped up in price to over $3,000 just hours before Coinbase announced that it was adding support for BCC. While cryptocurrencies are known to heavily fluctuate, when you see a large upswing like this it is typically caused by either a pump-and-dump scheme or by good news being released about the coin. These concerns were further compounded after Bitcoin Cash jumped to $9,500 on the Coinbase's GDAX trading platform after it went live, which prompted Coinbase to halt Bitcoin Cash trading.
Due to this large upswing right before a big news release, and its subsequent 206% increase on GDAX, many people are crying foul and stating that Coinbase employees used this information to perform insider trading. Coinbase's CEO Brian Armstrong is not taking these concerns lightly.
In a blog post, Armstrong states that Coinbase will performing an investigation into the use of confidential information by their employees:
I take the confidentiality of material non-public information very seriously as CEO. Given the price increase in the hours leading up the announcement, we will be conducting an investigation into this matter. If we find evidence of any employee or contractor violating our policies '-- directly or indirectly '-- I will not hesitate to terminate the employee immediately and take appropriate legal action.
As cryptocurrency trading is unregulated, attacks against cryptocoin wallets intensify, and issues like this occur, it is for these reasons that many economists strongly advise against investing heavily in cryptocurrency. With the amount of money being made, though, its doubtful people will listen.
WikiLeaks lawyer's office stormed by hooded raiders in 'attempted robbery' '-- RT World News
Thu, 21 Dec 2017 12:58
Published time: 20 Dec, 2017 11:18 Edited time: 21 Dec, 2017 12:27
Three hooded raiders broke into the office of WikiLeaks lawyer Baltasar Garzon in Madrid, covering security cameras with tape in what police described as a ''very professional'' operation.
The break-in took place at dawn on Monday, and police are treating it as an ''attempted robbery,'' El Pais reports.
The thieves didn't take any money and police are waiting for technicians to confirm whether any files were taken or copied from Garzon's computer. Police are analyzing the security cameras at the entrance to the office.
"They have not taken what they have been looking for," Garzon told El Periodico. He confirmed to Ser his clients' security ''has not been affected,'' and that the people ''acted very quickly.''
El Diario reports an employee of the firm told police the individuals did attempt to copy information stored on their servers, but that they were unsuccessful. All they took from the office was a Christmas ham.
Assange and WikiLeaks tweeted about the break-in, with WikiLeaks tying it to the CIA's pursuit of the two. CIA Director Mike Pompeo has made a number of threatening statements about the whistleblowing organization and described it as a ''hostile intelligence service,'' while Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in April that Assange's arrest is ''a priority,'' and that the Justice Department had started to ''step up'' its efforts to seek jail time for those involved with the whistleblowing organization.
''As CIA threats against WikiLeaks heat up, at least three masked men dressed in black have broken into WikiLeaks' chief counsel Baltasar Garzon's legal office,'' WikiLeaks wrote.
Garzon heads Assange's legal defense, working on his case to avoid extradition to Sweden and preparing for the charges US authorities are said to have prepared against him.
He is known for investigating public officials and those suspected of genocide and war crimes, including Chile's former ruler Augusto Pinochet, and opened an investigation into crimes committed during the Spanish Civil War and under General Francisco Franco's dictatorship.
Garzon was prevented from working as a judge in Spain in 2012 after he was found guilty of illegally wiretapping the money-laundering Gurtel network. His supporters and human rights organizations said the case against him was a ''threat to human rights.''
Facebook dumps Disputed flags on fake news for context - CNET
Thu, 21 Dec 2017 12:53
Facebook is making some modifications to how it combats fake news for its users.
The social networking giant said late Wednesday it would dispense with the Disputed Flag, a tool introduced a year ago to make it easier for Facebook users to identify hoax articles on their News Feeds. The company found that the image of the red Disputed Flag may have conveyed the wrong message to users, leading to inaccurate news reports being shared more often.
"Academic research on correcting misinformation has shown that putting a strong image, like a red flag, next to an article may actually entrench deeply held beliefs -- the opposite effect to what we intended," Tessa Lyons, a Facebook product manager, said in a statement.
Instead, Facebook is turning to a key component of meaningful journalism: context. Replacing the red flags will be a "Related Articles" section that presents reports from other news outlets that allow users to immediately fact-check stories that appear in their feed. The feature has been around since 2013, but Facebook began testing a new version in April, working with third-party fact-checking groups to vet stories.
The change comes as Facebook, Google and others face a barrage of criticism for letting sham articles circulate by way of their sites. During the 2016 US presidential election, a number of bogus articles made the rounds, including made-up stories like President Barack Obama banning the playing of the national anthem at US sporting events, and an FBI agent tied to the Hillary Clinton email scandal being found dead.
Some critics say the spread of stories like that on Facebook tipped the election , a charge Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg initially called "a pretty crazy idea." Facebook has since made it easier to report possible hoaxes, add warnings before you share a disputed article and downplay questionable stories in your news feed.
Also announced Wednesday is a Facebook initiative aiming to better understand how people decide whether information is accurate based on the news sources they depend on.
"This will not directly impact News Feed in the near term," Lyons said. "However, it may help us better measure our success in improving the quality of information on Facebook over time."
More on Facebook's fact-checking efforts in the video below:
CNET Magazine: Check out a sample of the stories in CNET's newsstand edition.
Logging Out: Welcome to the crossroads of online life and the afterlife.
Wells Fargo to increase minimum wage to 15
Thu, 21 Dec 2017 12:52
9003 ·
Happy tax cuts day!!!!
5321 ·
EXCITING NEWS! Those 2800 government emails the FBI found on Weiner laptop will be released next week (Dec. 29th!). JUDICIAL WATCH JUGGERNAUT/BEAST unstoppable!
2723 ·
BREAKING: 'It just mowed everybody down': Pedestrians hit by SUV in Melbourne CBD, Australia
3403 ·
Look at this cucked POS former nominee for DOD Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs. He bombed his hearing by saying 'owning an AR-15 is insane!' So what does he do now? Bitch and moan on WaPo....Good Riddance, cuck. YOU'RE FIRED!
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Democrats Offer 'License Plate Readers' in Exchange for Huge DREAM Amnesty - Breitbart
2044 ·
Late Night Crew: Happy Tax Cut Day! ðŸ''ðŸ LADIES NIGHT EDITION ðŸðŸ''
11.8k ·
COMCAST joins the party - Announces $1,000 bonus for employees and invest $50 billion in U.S. market
3704 ·
🚨 🚨 🚨BREAKING: Congress to Investigate 'Potentially Criminal' Obama Scheme to Protect Hezbollah Drug and Human Trafficking Rings 🚨 🚨 🚨
5084 ·
I live in venezuela, Ask me anything.
8076 ·
Wells Fargo raises hourly minimum wage to $15, also to donate $400 million in 2018!
Israeli Politicians Demand Obama Forfeit Nobe | The Daily Caller
Thu, 21 Dec 2017 12:46
A damning report released Sunday by Politico chronicles how the Obama administration undid years of investigations into the terrorist organization Hezbollah in order to appease Iran and pave the way for the Iran deal.
The report alleges that the Obama administration let terrorists walk free and halted law enforcement efforts against Hezbollah to help cement the former president's foreign policy achievement.
According to the report, the Obama administration's backing off on the terrorist organization directly contributed to its growth and enrichment through money laundering and drug trade. It also made Hezbollah much more powerful and dangerous in the region.
Politicians in Israel, a country directly affected by Hezbollah's terror, have lashed out at Barack Obama over the report. Some have even called for him to return his Nobel Peace Prize. Here are some statements from prominent Israeli politicians, according to the Jerusalem Post:
''Obama must return his Nobel Peace Prize. Israel warned repeatedly that there can be no connection between the nuclear deal and anti-terror activity, certainly against Hezbollah'...We also warned of this specifically, because of the proven link between Hezbollah and Iran.''
'-- Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid
''Up until the Obama Administration, every American President fought terrorism uncompromisingly'...I am convinced that the Trump Administration will not turn from that tradition and the outrageous and mistaken policy that was revealed this week will not be repeated.''
'-- Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi
''It was clear that the government was willing to do anything to reach an agreement, including ignoring Iranian terror that took the lives of hundreds of Americans and Israelis and hundreds of thousands of Syrians. This expos(C)e and others that may be published in the future must strengthen our resolve'...[to] change this dangerous agreement.''
'-- Former Israeli ambassador to the US Michael Oren
''Does anyone still doubt why Obama was bad for Israel and how Trump is better for us?''
'-- Communications Minister Ayoob Kara
The Frankenflake Factor
Thu, 21 Dec 2017 12:14
I surrender to my desires to molest more womenAs another Lame Cherry exclusive in matter anti matter.
The power of this blog by God's Grace is just beyond description when Al Franken exits the building after he had been dug in. See Al went bunker and the sapper pulled the chord yesterday and within a few hours Al Franken was waving the white flag.
And all it took was posting that Al Franken sold out democrats and cut a deal with Donald Trump, via John Kelly to keep Trump from being impeached, and how Al Franken was the sex disease of the democratic party.
Al though is the gift which keeps on giving as the Frankenflakes were raging on Twitter on Manu Raju's page.
Angela Kiger' @angela_kiger 7h 7 hours ago
this is crap. tired of playing nice and above the board with these effing R's.OK, I suppose the point in this being lost is out of the 8 women who accused Al Franken of molesting them, 6 were bonafied democrats, one voted GOP and Demo, and LeeAnn Tweeden simply is a Patriot. So how these efffing Republicans were involved in Al molesting women, when it was DEMOCRATIC WOMEN IN THE SENATE WHO DEMANDED FRANKEN RESIGN, that is a mystery, but is a revelation on how Franken voters mind's work.
Then again some Frankenflakes got it right, but were sort of like Al Franken treats women.
Vinnie Moran' @VinnMo 7h 7 hours ago
F*cking Kirsten Gillibrand.Then there was this from the much hated Mike Cernovich.
Don't worry Pat I'm not resigning until the New Years Fondling PartySee Mrs. Mike must be some prophetess as she said people hate her husband, but the thing is I was wondering why Mike Cernovich has been holding out that he is the messiah.
Doug Free' @wdfree 7h 7 hours ago
Jesus H Christ I hate that guy.This though is the replacement that UFO head Mark Dayton chose, a New Mexican carpetbagger who was pumping Prudhoe Bay global warming oil onto the world and migrate to Minnesota to oversee the butchering of babies in North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota.
I won't be like Al Franken in molesting your childrenas my job is to kill your childrenSmith moved to Minnesota in the 1980s for a job at General Mills in marketing. She later started her own marketing firm, and served as a Vice President of Planned Parenthood of Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota
I was just thinking it was Planned Parenthood which illegally electioneered the race which Baby Butcher Stephanie Herseth Sandlin stole, and this Tina the Carpetbagger was probably the skirt who coordinated it. But then what is election tampering when Tina has these kinds of stats.
Dead Babies in South Dakota 601
Dead Babies in North Dakota 1182
Dead Babies in Minnesota 9904
I mean hell's bells, Al Franken just molested women. This Tina Smith rips women's wombs wide open to the sounds of screaming children. Al Franken is small potatoes compared to Tina Smith as Tina Smith in 4 years murdered 45,000 children in 3 states. Al was averaging only on adultery per year in that time.
Minnesotans have done themselves Minnesota Nice proud. They hid a Jew who stole a senate seat, covered up for a Jew who was molesting women, and then replaced the Jew with a baby butcher who is her own interstate holocaust chamber.
Minnesota has not any fears though, except from Mark Dayton's Muslim rape cock and Sodomite rapists, because Al Franken will never set foot in Minnesota again. Franken will stay in DC, he will be rewarded with a salaried job, probably from that pervert David Pizzagate Brock, and cocktail in New York and DC, just as other liberals never return to their hick states as they are above all of that.
As Al Franken will hold pattern, he has already embarked upon casting himself as the poster victim of #MeToo, where he will rant and rage about being furious, about regretting his resigning for the good of the party, and you can bet money that Al Franken has a Cunt List of his enemies and he is going to make these women's lives hell in very creative ways.
In the end, Hillary Clinton just got her political fangs pulled, as Franken was her attack dog, and it was Michelle Obama who pulled them, as this has been about control of who inherits the Birther Obama wind for 2020 AD in the year of our Lord. Obama Inc does not want Hillary Clinton as the nominee for 2020. They have chosen Gillibrand and Harris, for a coastal ticket of New York and California, as this is all about the Pussy Grab and the sexual assault of women.
Oh you thought this sex stuff was about perverts like Harvey Weinstein? No this is about making a psychic tear in America, of the female victim, and the only way to heal this schism, like voting for Obama to prove you were not a racist, is to vote for a pair of vaginas to prove you are not a Pussy Grab.
Gee no one has informed any of you of this, but after you read this, you are going to start seeing the always experts speaking of the reality of 2020 in the assaulted women against the assaulting President.
And you thought nasty Ashley Judd was just a fluke. My babies this was all planned out and you have been manipulated to reacting at every post.
Once again another Lame Cherry exclusive in matter anti matter.
Something to consider..........
Al Franken, crooked Minnesota courts, crooked George W. Bush, crooked corporate Obama, stole a Senate seat for Nazi control of Congress in a Senate majority for rationed death. That was 10 years ago Al Franken stole a seat from the legitimate Jewish politician Norm Coleman to overthrow America. 10 years and the tides of battle turn and the stolen seat is now vacated as that which was sown has been repaid.
agtG
Apple's iPhones slowed to tackle ageing batteries
Thu, 21 Dec 2017 12:04
Image copyright Getty Images Apple has confirmed the suspicions of many iPhone owners by revealing it does deliberately slow down some models of the iPhone as they age.
Many customers have long suspected that Apple slows down older iPhones to encourage people to upgrade.
The company has now said it does slow down some models as they age, but only because the phones' battery performance diminishes over time.
Apple said it wanted to "prolong the life" of customers' devices.
The practice was confirmed after a customer shared performance tests on Reddit, suggesting their iPhone 6S had slowed down considerably as it had aged but had suddenly sped up again after the battery had been replaced.
"I used my brother's iPhone 6 Plus, and his was faster than mine? This is when I knew something was wrong," wrote TeckFire.
Technology website Geekbench then analysed several iPhones running different versions of the iOS operating system and found some of them did indeed appear to have been deliberately slowed down.
What was Apple's response?Apple has now confirmed that it made changes to iOS to manage ageing lithium-ion batteries in some devices, since the batteries' performance diminishes over time.
"Lithium-ion batteries become less capable of supplying peak current demands when in cold conditions, [when they] have a low battery charge or as they age over time, which can result in the device unexpectedly shutting down to protect its electronic components," the company said.
"Last year, we released a feature for iPhone 6, iPhone 6s and iPhone SE to smooth out the instantaneous peaks only when needed to prevent the device from unexpectedly shutting down during these conditions.
"We've now extended that feature to iPhone 7 with iOS 11.2, and plan to add support for other products in the future.
"Our goal is to deliver the best experience for customers."
Why do lithium-ion batteries degrade?Lithium batteries degrade over time because of what happens during the charging and discharging cycle.
During both those events, lithium ions migrate through the material forming the battery.
Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Lithium-ion batteries degrade with use Studies using electron microscopes have shown that each time the ions do this they make tiny changes to the physical structure of that electrolyte.
The effect is like "rust creeping unevenly across steel", according to one scientist who has studied the phenomenon.
The changes effectively erode the material so it can hold less of a charge and can hamper its ability to provide a steady power supply.
Higher voltages make the erosion happen more quickly, as do higher temperatures.
Should Apple have told customers?"By choosing to implement this quietly, it appears more nefarious than it really is. That doesn't engender trust," wrote developer and blogger Nick Heer.
"Apple has long been very good about managing expectations'... this is an instance where they blew it. Needlessly, I think."
Replacing an old battery in one of the affected models should return the phone to its former speed. Doing so costs £79 in the UK and $79 (£59) in the US.
"They should be more transparent about it," said Chris Green from the tech consultancy Bright Bee.
"You're taking away performance that somebody has paid for. If you're going to slow down the phone over time, you should explain why it is happening, so people understand it is ultimately for their benefit.
"But I do see where they're coming from. By slowing the phone, it does help mitigate the problem of the diminishing battery."
LIONESS of the LEFT being THROWN under the bus. SAD!
Thu, 21 Dec 2017 12:03
CLOSEAmber Tamblyn is not pleased with her friend Rose McGowan's decision to speak out against Hollywood actresses who plan to wear black to the Golden Globes in protest of sexual harassment Time
Meryl Streep attends "The Post" Washington, DC premiere on December 14, 2017. (Photo: Paul Morigi, WireImage)
As the Harvey Weinstein scandal continues to reverberate around Hollywood, Rose McGowan remains a vocal name, interviewing several accusers, and with anti-Meryl Streep posters showing up in Los Angeles following a recent Twitter diatribe against the actress.
More developments as they happen:
#SheKnew posters of Meryl Streep posted in L.A.
On Wednesday, CBS Los Angeles shared footage of posters showing a photo of Meryl Streep with Harvey Weinstein, emblazoned with the text #SheKnew, near the SAG-AFTRA building in L.A. The posters also showed up in several other places around the city, and appear to have been installed before sunrise Wednesday morning.
The posters follow McGowan's tweets this weekend calling out Streep for her professional relationship with Weinstein, and imply the Oscar-winner actress knew about Weinstein's alleged predatory behavior.
In a tweet that appears to have been taken down, McGowan wrote that "actresses, like Meryl Streep, who happily worked for The Pig Monster, are wearing black @GoldenGlobes in a silent protest. YOUR SILENCE is THE problem. You'll accept a fake award breathlessly & affect no real change. I despise your hypocrisy. Maybe you should all wear Marchesa."
The clash originated over speculation that actresses, including Streep, plan to wear black gowns to the upcoming Golden Globes on Jan. 7 to protest sexual harassment of women.
Streep responded in a letter sent to USA TODAY by her rep, Leslee Dart, writing, ''It hurt to be attacked by Rose McGowan in banner headlines this weekend, but I want to let her know I did not know about Weinstein's crimes, not in the 90s when he attacked her, or through subsequent decades when he proceeded to attack others."
More:Meryl Streep writes to Rose McGowan: 'It hurt to be attacked'
More:Amber Tamblyn: 'I do not support' Rose McGowan's Meryl Streep-bashing
McGowan interviews accusers for The Cut
NBC's Stephanie Gosk presented highlights from a roundtable about harassment, organized by New York Magazine and moderated by McGowan on Wednesday's Today show.
''My beef is really with all the people that are complicit,'' McGowan said.
The roundtable included accusers of President Trump, Harvey Weinstein, Louis C.K. and John Hockenberry.
''It's tough being called a liar,'' said Jessica Leeds, who has accused the president of groping her. ''It's very difficult to stand up and say, 'This is what happened,' and have an administration saying I'm lying.''
Similarly, comedian Rebecca Corry, who says C.K. asked her to watch him masturbate, said she's faced severe backlash since coming forward. ''I'm getting death threats, and I'm getting ripped apart,'' she said. ''I'm getting all this free hate every single day.''
Weinstein accuser Dominique Huett (Hewitt) added that she found strength in the accusers that came before her. ''I had a tremendous amount of self-blame until those women came forward and were published,'' she said. ''Then I kind of felt like wow, things are shifting. I can share this experience.''
Ex-Weinstein assistant seeks to change gag laws
In a Tuesday interview with the BBC, former Weinstein assistant Zelda Perkins says she broke the non-disclosure agreement she signed in hopes Great Britain will reform its gag laws.
Perkins, one of the 80 plus women to publicly accuse Weinstein of sexual misconduct, was one of two London-based Miramax assistants from the 1990s who received settlements written about in The New York Times' Oct. 5 bombshell story.
"I understand that non-disclosure agreements have a place in society for both sides, but it's really important that legislation is changed around how these agreements are regulated," she told BBC Newsnight. ''You cannot have a legal document that protects a criminal '-- this isn't someone who sold you a dodgy car."
In her original October interview with The Financial Times, Perkins claimed Weinstein began harassing her the very first time they were alone together in his room at the Savoy Hotel, where he stayed while in London on business.
Like many other accusers, Perkins said Weinstein would ask for massages or request that she be present while he bathed. But unlike other women who say he harassed or assaulted them once or twice, "this was his behavior on every occasion I was alone with him."
She said she finally quit after Weinstein tried to rape her co-worker during a trip to the Venice Film Festival. But Perkins says she soon realized a financial settlement was her only recourse.
"Once I realized this was my only (weapon) for preventing Harvey's behavior, to create an agreement that was as difficult for him as it was going to be for me," she explained. "He had to attend therapy for his behavior. I don't know if he attended therapy or not. I was not allowed to speak to a therapist without them signing a confidentiality agreement. I was not allowed to speak to my accountant with regard to the money (£125,000) that I received."
Perkins continued, saying it was hard to know what counted as violating the agreement because she was forbidden to own a copy of it. Asked why this was, she told the BBC, "It's a smoking gun."
On balance, Perkins was circumspect, saying, "You can't change the Harvey Weinsteins of the world. There are always going to be people who follow the darker side of their character. But if there rules and laws that we have to protect ourselves enable that, then there's no point in having them."
''Mr. Weinstein categorically denies engaging in any non-consensual conduct or alleged threatening behavior,'' his U.K.-based lawyer, Paul Tweed, told USA TODAY in a statement relayed by his American representatives.
Read or Share this story: https://usat.ly/2BNxJYs
Facebag getting sued for AGE-ism (Agism?)
Thu, 21 Dec 2017 12:02
CLOSE97 cents...that's all it took for Russia to buy three ads on Facebook with the intent of influencing the Brexit vote. Buzz60
The Facebook logo is displayed on an iPad. (Photo: Matt Rourke, AP)
SAN FRANCISCO '-- Amazon, T-Mobile and hundreds of companies and employment agencies are being sued for age discrimination for placing recruiting ads on Facebook that target younger workers.
The lawsuit filed Wednesday in San Francisco federal court by the Communications Workers of America labor union and its members is seeking class action status to represent Facebook users 40 or older who may have been denied the chance to learn about open job positions.
For example, lawyers for the plaintiffs say T-Mobile used Facebook ads to recruit applicants for retail stores and other positions, stating in its ads it wanted to reach people ages 18 to 38. T-Mobile declined comment.
Amazon also placed employment ads for warehouse and other jobs that restricted who could see them such as people ''ages 18-54,'' ''ages 18 to 50,'' ''ages 28 to 55,'' and ''ages 22 to 40," according to the lawsuit. In an emailed statement, Amazon said it does not comment on pending litigation, but said after a recent audit of recruiting ads on Facebook, it discovered "some had targeting that was inconsistent with our approach of searching for any candidate over the age of 18." "We have corrected those ads," the company said.
The lawsuit also alleges that Facebook itself placed ads to recruit job applicants to work at Facebook, using the same age filters to exclude older workers. Facebook declined to comment on the suit.
The lawsuit landed the same day that the New York Times and ProPublica published a joint investigation raising fairness concerns over job ads aimed at younger age groups on Facebook, Google and LinkedIn.
Facebook defended the practice. "Simply showing certain job ads to different age groups on services like Facebook or Google may not in itself be discriminatory '-- just as it can be OK to run employment ads in magazines and on TV shows targeted at younger or older people. What matters is that marketing is broadly based and inclusive, not simply focused on a particular age group," Rob Goldman, Facebook vice president of ads, said in a statement posted to its website.
More:Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg says ads targeting 'Jew haters' failed users, pledges reform
More:Russia exploited race divisions on Facebook. More black staffers, diversity could have have helped.
More:Russians used Facebook the way other advertisers do: By tapping into its data-mining machine
More:Facebook political ads are coming out of the shadows '-- why you should care
ProPublica says it discovered the practice while reviewing data it compiled from readers for a project on political ads on Facebook. Many of the ads explained why that user was seeing the ad, including their age.
Facebook has become an increasingly popular place to recruit job applicants. A 2016 study by the Society for Human Resource Management found that 66% of employers who recruit on social media use Facebook.
The vast amounts of data Facebook has collected on its users allows advertisers to precisely target them. That targeting was used by Russia to influence the 2016 election. It also got Facebook in hot water when ProPublica discovered it could be used to target ads in offensive ways, such as to "jew haters."
Some advertisers told ProPublica that targeting specific age groups on Facebook is similar to advertising in Teen Vogue or AARP magazine. However, ProPublica pointed out, anyone can flip through the pages of those publications, but people who are in excluded age groups will never see these ads on Facebook.
ProPublica also bought job ads on Google and LinkedIn that excluded audiences older than 40. Google told the news organization it does not prevent advertisers from displaying ads based on a user's age. LinkedIn changed its system to prevent that kind of targeting in employment ads after being contacted by ProPublica.
Among the companies that placed the recruitment ads are Amazon, Goldman Sachs, AT&T and Verizon.
Amazon told ProPublica that it would stop targeting employment ads by age. Goldman Sachs spokesman Andrew Williams said: "We welcome and actively recruit applicants of all ages. For some of our social media ads, we look to get the content to the people most likely to be interested, but do not exclude anyone from our recruiting activity."
AT&T says it buys ads on different platforms to appeal to "every segment of the population." Verizon did not respond to repeated requests for comment, according to ProPublica.
Read or Share this story: https://usat.ly/2BQlwT0
Sen. Tim Scott Fires Back: Not Trump's Prop
Thu, 21 Dec 2017 12:02
Sen. Tim Scott, the only black Republican in the Senate, had a prominent position behind President Donald Trump at Wednesday's White House ceremony celebrating the passage of the GOP tax plan. But he fired back at a political blogger who claimed he was there as a "prop."
Andy Ostroy, who lists being a HuffPo contributor on his Twitter bio, as well as being "Blocked by Donald, Don Jr, Ivanka, Eric," tweeted that Scott appeared to be a "manipulated prop."
Not so, Scott responded, saying he was likely given such a high-profile location "because I helped write the bill for the past year, have multiple provisions included, got multiple Senators on board over the last week and have worked on tax reform my entire time in Congress."
Ostroy doubled down, saying the bill hurt minorities, the poor and middle class '-- ending with some invectives against the president that were of the type that likely ended him up on several Trump family blocked lists.
Scott had other thoughts on how minorities and lower-income families will fare under the plan, saying at the White House, "This is not about Washington. It's not about the left. It's not about the right. It's about single parent moms who are looking to be hopeful during 2018."
Ostroy later apologized for the tweet, saying he could have made his point a better way.
(C) 2017 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
Pentagon tells Bush: climate change will destroy us | Environment | The Guardian
Thu, 21 Dec 2017 11:58
Climate change over the next 20 years could result in a global catastrophe costing millions of lives in wars and natural disasters..
A secret report, suppressed by US defence chiefs and obtained by The Observer, warns that major European cities will be sunk beneath rising seas as Britain is plunged into a 'Siberian' climate by 2020. Nuclear conflict, mega-droughts, famine and widespread rioting will erupt across the world.
The document predicts that abrupt climate change could bring the planet to the edge of anarchy as countries develop a nuclear threat to defend and secure dwindling food, water and energy supplies. The threat to global stability vastly eclipses that of terrorism, say the few experts privy to its contents.
'Disruption and conflict will be endemic features of life,' concludes the Pentagon analysis. 'Once again, warfare would define human life.'
The findings will prove humiliating to the Bush administration, which has repeatedly denied that climate change even exists. Experts said that they will also make unsettling reading for a President who has insisted national defence is a priority.
The report was commissioned by influential Pentagon defence adviser Andrew Marshall, who has held considerable sway on US military thinking over the past three decades. He was the man behind a sweeping recent review aimed at transforming the American military under Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
Climate change 'should be elevated beyond a scientific debate to a US national security concern', say the authors, Peter Schwartz, CIA consultant and former head of planning at Royal Dutch/Shell Group, and Doug Randall of the California-based Global Business Network.
An imminent scenario of catastrophic climate change is 'plausible and would challenge United States national security in ways that should be considered immediately', they conclude. As early as next year widespread flooding by a rise in sea levels will create major upheaval for millions.
Last week the Bush administration came under heavy fire from a large body of respected scientists who claimed that it cherry-picked science to suit its policy agenda and suppressed studies that it did not like. Jeremy Symons, a former whistleblower at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), said that suppression of the report for four months was a further example of the White House trying to bury the threat of climate change.
Senior climatologists, however, believe that their verdicts could prove the catalyst in forcing Bush to accept climate change as a real and happening phenomenon. They also hope it will convince the United States to sign up to global treaties to reduce the rate of climatic change.
A group of eminent UK scientists recently visited the White House to voice their fears over global warming, part of an intensifying drive to get the US to treat the issue seriously. Sources have told The Observer that American officials appeared extremely sensitive about the issue when faced with complaints that America's public stance appeared increasingly out of touch.
One even alleged that the White House had written to complain about some of the comments attributed to Professor Sir David King, Tony Blair's chief scientific adviser, after he branded the President's position on the issue as indefensible.
Among those scientists present at the White House talks were Professor John Schellnhuber, former chief environmental adviser to the German government and head of the UK's leading group of climate scientists at the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research. He said that the Pentagon's internal fears should prove the 'tipping point' in persuading Bush to accept climatic change.
Sir John Houghton, former chief executive of the Meteorological Office - and the first senior figure to liken the threat of climate change to that of terrorism - said: 'If the Pentagon is sending out that sort of message, then this is an important document indeed.'
Bob Watson, chief scientist for the World Bank and former chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, added that the Pentagon's dire warnings could no longer be ignored.
'Can Bush ignore the Pentagon? It's going be hard to blow off this sort of document. Its hugely embarrassing. After all, Bush's single highest priority is national defence. The Pentagon is no wacko, liberal group, generally speaking it is conservative. If climate change is a threat to national security and the economy, then he has to act. There are two groups the Bush Administration tend to listen to, the oil lobby and the Pentagon,' added Watson.
'You've got a President who says global warming is a hoax, and across the Potomac river you've got a Pentagon preparing for climate wars. It's pretty scary when Bush starts to ignore his own government on this issue,' said Rob Gueterbock of Greenpeace.
Already, according to Randall and Schwartz, the planet is carrying a higher population than it can sustain. By 2020 'catastrophic' shortages of water and energy supply will become increasingly harder to overcome, plunging the planet into war. They warn that 8,200 years ago climatic conditions brought widespread crop failure, famine, disease and mass migration of populations that could soon be repeated.
Randall told The Observer that the potential ramifications of rapid climate change would create global chaos. 'This is depressing stuff,' he said. 'It is a national security threat that is unique because there is no enemy to point your guns at and we have no control over the threat.'
Randall added that it was already possibly too late to prevent a disaster happening. 'We don't know exactly where we are in the process. It could start tomorrow and we would not know for another five years,' he said.
'The consequences for some nations of the climate change are unbelievable. It seems obvious that cutting the use of fossil fuels would be worthwhile.'
So dramatic are the report's scenarios, Watson said, that they may prove vital in the US elections. Democratic frontrunner John Kerry is known to accept climate change as a real problem. Scientists disillusioned with Bush's stance are threatening to make sure Kerry uses the Pentagon report in his campaign.
The fact that Marshall is behind its scathing findings will aid Kerry's cause. Marshall, 82, is a Pentagon legend who heads a secretive think-tank dedicated to weighing risks to national security called the Office of Net Assessment. Dubbed 'Yoda' by Pentagon insiders who respect his vast experience, he is credited with being behind the Department of Defence's push on ballistic-missile defence.
Symons, who left the EPA in protest at political interference, said that the suppression of the report was a further instance of the White House trying to bury evidence of climate change. 'It is yet another example of why this government should stop burying its head in the sand on this issue.'
Symons said the Bush administration's close links to high-powered energy and oil companies was vital in understanding why climate change was received sceptically in the Oval Office. 'This administration is ignoring the evidence in order to placate a handful of large energy and oil companies,' he added.
Project BEST '' About
Thu, 21 Dec 2017 02:57
Project BEST '' AboutAbout''What is a scientist after all? It is a curious man looking through a keyhole, the keyhole of nature, trying to know what's going on''
Jacques Yves Cousteau
Our PurposeProject BEST (Building Excitement for Science and Technology) is an organization dedicated to providing students with education, enrichment, and a joy for learning and understanding the exciting science and technological advances happening around us. This is achieved through interactive programs, workshops, chapters and a unique entrepreneurship aspect that fosters an interest in innovation. Based on the three pillars of Knowledge, Discovery, and Experience, Project BEST creates and drives curiosity in students everywhere.
Our MethodWhen Project BEST was first started in December of 2011, it was built upon three pillars that truly represent what we are trying to achieve. We boiled it down to just three words. Three words that reflect our desire and goal to revolutionize the world and introduce students to a whole new dimension of critical thinking. These three simple, yet powerful words will define us for years to come and showcase what we hope to change. These three words are:
Knowledge, Discovery and Experience.
The TeamWe are a group of students who attend or graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJHSST). Fortunately, we are privileged and have access to a STEM education that ranks highest in the country and resources to spur our research. Using those privileges and the skills that we acquire in our daily life, we set out to help under-privileged middle schools discover what a career in STEM is like and how fun it can truly be.
Our PartnersOur partners are the structural fibers of our organization, and without their help and contribution, we would not be nearly as far as we currently are. We are always grateful for their support!
Here at Project BEST, we take partnerships very seriously, and do our best to maintain a healthy relationship. Our partners range from supporters, to organizations that want to host Project BEST events, chapter locations, and a whole range in between.
If you're representing an organization, and want to partner with us, WE WOULD LOVE TO KNOW! Contact us about a partnership, and we'll get back to you as soon as we can!
CDC Did Not Ban Words - Yuval Levin | National Review
Wed, 20 Dec 2017 21:52
On Friday, the Washington Post published a story that began:
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 official documents being prepared for next year's budget.
The story goes on to complicate this claim a little bit, noting, for instance, some distinctions between terms that were supposedly flagged as prohibited in draft budget documents and others regarding which a prohibition ''had been conveyed verbally'' in a meeting among career officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But the basic claim of the story is that HHS is telling its employees they're not allowed to use seven words or terms'--''vulnerable,'' ''entitlement,'' ''diversity,'' ''transgender,'' ''fetus,'' ''evidence-based'' and ''science-based.''
Naturally, this assertion has caused a big stir, setting loose everything from charges of censorship to worries that the CDC won't be able to help victims of terrible diseases if they can't communicate openly about their work. I was pretty startled by the story myself, and it sent me reaching out to a number of officials at HHS and its sub-agencies for an explanation. These conversations have left me persuaded that the impression created by the Post's story is not accurate.
What seems to have happened here involves two sets of circumstances. First, the budget office at HHS sent the various divisions of the department a style guide to use in their budget-proposal language and ''congressional justification'' documents for the coming year. That style guide, which sets out a standard style for everything from capitalization of the titles of key offices to some commonly disputed points of grammar and punctuation, also sets out some words to be avoided. These, I am told, are avoided because they are frequently misused or regularly overused in departmental documents (make of that what you will) and they include three terms on the Post's list: ''vulnerable,'' ''diversity,'' and ''entitlement.'' The style guide does not prohibit the use of these terms, but it says they should be used only when alternatives (which it proposes in some cases) cannot be.
I don't remember there being a style guide for budget documents when I worked at HHS and at the White House in the Bush years, but one person I spoke with suggested there was one and that the Obama administration also used a style guide. Either way, many organizations in and out of government do the same, of course, as indeed the Washington Post does. No one denied, however, that these three terms were added to the budget-proposal style guide in this administration.
Did it make sense to suggest avoiding these terms? ''Entitlement'' really isn't a term that should be used in congressional-justification documents (where ''mandatory'' is the technical, if actually less correct, term of art). The common practice of substituting the term ''vulnerable'' for ''poor'' has a long history of annoying some Republicans on Capitol Hill, and presumably that accounts for the instruction to avoid it in congressional-justification documents'--although this has come up more often in the work of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services than in that of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In public health, after all, ''vulnerable'' has a distinct definition, and there are some CDC programs that couldn't really avoid using the term in justifying their budget requests (like the Social Vulnerability Index). Presumably the guidance wasn't intended for them. Your guess is as good as mine (and probably similar to mine) as to why HHS career officials might have thought ''diversity'' was not a good word to use with congressional Republicans. But these three are ''avoid when possible'' terms in a style guide specifically intended for budget documents. They're not words that are banned in the department.
Second, these three terms to avoid apparently came up in the course of a meeting among career officials at the CDC late last week about preparing next year's congressional-justification documents. That discussion then led to a conversation in the meeting about other terms that might be best avoided. (To be very clear: I did not speak with anyone who was present at that meeting, though I did speak with people who later spoke with the career CDC person who was in charge of the meeting and briefed the other career people there.) This meeting did not involve any political appointees, and apparently the conversation about terms beyond ''diversity,'' ''entitlements,'' and ''vulnerable'' was not about terms that anyone in the department had said should be avoided but about terms that it might be wise to avoid so as not to raise red flags among Republicans in Congress.
In other words, what happened regarding these other terms (''transgender,'' ''fetus,'' ''evidence-based,'' and ''science-based'') was not that retrograde Republicans ordered career CDC officials not to use these terms but that career CDC officials assumed retrograde Republicans would be triggered by such words and, in an effort to avoid having such Republicans cut their budgets, reasoned they might be best avoided. With regard to ''evidence-based'' and ''science-based'' in particular, I gather the reasoning was simpler than that, and that the group thought these terms are so overused in the CDC budget documents they were discussing as to become nearly meaningless and that their use should be limited to where it actually made a point.
This suggests two significant caveats to the Post story and the firestorm that has followed it. First, the question of these terms (both those in the style guide and those that came up in last week's CDC meeting) relates only to a distinct subset of budget documents and not to the general work of the CDC or other agencies. No one is saying people can't use these terms at HHS, though some people clearly think they shouldn't be used in budget requests sent to Congress. And second, the most peculiar and alarming of the reported prohibitions on terms were not prohibitions at all and did not come from higher-ups in the department but emerged in the course of an internal conversation at CDC about how to avoid setting off congressional Republicans and so how to maximize the agency's chances of getting its budget-request approved.
If all of that is correct (and I can only report what I gather from the HHS officials I've spoken with) it does make for an interesting story. But it's not nearly as interesting as the Washington Post made it seem, and it doesn't point to quite the same lessons either. In fact, it probably tells us more about the attitudes and assumptions of the career officials in various HHS offices than about the political appointees of the administration they are now supposed to be working for.
How Syria's White Helmets became victims of an online propaganda machine | World news | The Guardian
Wed, 20 Dec 2017 21:43
T he Syrian volunteer rescue workers known as the White Helmets have become the target of an extraordinary disinformation campaign that positions them as an al-Qaida-linked terrorist organisation.
The Guardian has uncovered how this counter-narrative is propagated online by a network of anti-imperialist activists, conspiracy theorists and trolls with the support of the Russian government (which provides military support to the Syrian regime).
The White Helmets, officially known as the Syria Civil Defence, is a humanitarian organisation made up of 3,400 volunteers '' former teachers, engineers, tailors and firefighters '' who rush to pull people from the rubble when bombs rain down on Syrian civilians. They've been credited with saving thousands of civilians during the country's continuing civil war.
They have also exposed, through first-hand video footage, war crimes including a chemical attack in April. Their work was the subject of an Oscar-winning Netflix documentary and the recipient of two Nobel peace prize nominations.
Despite this positive international recognition, there's a counter-narrative pushed by a vocal network of individuals who write for alternative news sites countering the ''MSM agenda''. Their views align with the positions of Syria and Russia and attract an enormous online audience, amplified by high-profile alt-right personalities, appearances on Russian state TV and an army of Twitter bots.
The way the Russian propaganda machine has targeted the White Helmets is a neat case study in the prevailing information wars. It exposes just how rumours, conspiracy theories and half-truths bubble to the top of YouTube, Google and Twitter search algorithms.
''This is the heart of Russian propaganda. In the old days they would try and portray the Soviet Union as a model society. Now it's about confusing every issue with so many narratives that people can't recognise the truth when they see it,'' said David Patrikarakos, author of War in 140 Characters: How Social Media is Reshaping Conflict in the 21st Century.
The first page of results for 'White Helmets' on YouTube shows how the conspiracy theories bubble to the top of search engines. Photograph: YouTubeHybrid warfareThe campaign to discredit the White Helmets started at the same time as Russia staged a military intervention in Syria in September 2015, supporting President Bashar al-Assad's army with airstrikes bombarding opposition-held areas. Almost immediately, Russian state media such as RT and Sputnik started falsely claiming that Isis was the only target and throwing doubt on the bombings of infrastructure and civilian sites.
The same propaganda machine scooped up fringe anti-American activists, bloggers and researchers who believe the White Helmets are terrorists, giving them a platform on state TV and amplifying their articles through social media.
There is no evidence to suggest that these activists and bloggers are knowingly spreading disinformation, although the stories are often thinly sourced.
Scott Lucas, professor of international politics at the University of Birmingham, describes the overall campaign as ''agitation propaganda'' but said that some of its participants don't realise they are being used as pawns.
''The most effective propaganda is when you find someone who believes it then give them support '' you don't create them from scratch,'' he added.
Why the White Helmets?The White Helmets play two roles within Syria. The first is their rescue work: providing an ambulance service, fire service and search and rescue in conflict areas where infrastructure has been decimated.
The second role is the documentation of what is taking place within the country via handheld and helmet cameras.
''This is the thing that has annoyed not just the Assad regime and Russian authorities but a lot of the propagandists who work in their orbit,'' said Amnesty International's Kristyan Benedict, a crisis response manager who specialises in Syria.
Their footage has helped organisations like Amnesty and the Syria Justice and Accountability Center corroborate testimony they receive from people in Syria via phone, Skype and WhatsApp. It allows them to check the aftermath of airstrikes to see whether civilians were targeted and whether there was any military presence or checkpoints.
''That's really been damaging to the war narrative of Syria and Russia,'' said Benedict.
Raed al-Saleh, head of the White Helmets. Photograph: Bernd von Jutrczenka/AFP/Getty ImagesIt was the White Helmets' footage that documented the chemical attack in Khan Sheikhoun in April, which killed at least 83 people, a third of them children. UN war crimes investigators later concluded the attack was carried out by the Syrian regime against its own people. Russian state media and a network of supportive alternative news sites continue to cast doubt on investigators' findings, describing it as ''illogical'' and ''deliberately staged'' by militants. The alt-right site Infowars repeated the conspiracy theory, describing the attack as staged by the White Helmets, who were described as an ''al-Qaida affiliated group funded by George Soros''. The White Helmets have never received funding from George Soros or any of his foundations.
Some of the most vocal sceptics of the UN's investigation include the blogger Vanessa Beeley, the daughter of a former British diplomat who visited Syria for the first time in July 2016; a University of Sydney senior lecturer, Timothy Anderson, who described the April chemical attack as a ''hoax''; and Eva Bartlett, a Canadian writer and activist who said the White Helmets staged rescues using recycled victims '' a claim that's been debunked by Snopes and Channel 4 News.
''They are basically excusing the inexcusable,'' said Lucas.
''They have a range of websites that will publish whatever nonsense and Russia Today will have them on TV,'' he added.
The Russian strategy has been very successful at shaping the online conversation about the White Helmets. By gaming the social media algorithms with a flood of content, boosted by bots, sock puppet accounts and a network of agitators, propagandists are able to create a ''manufactured consensus'' that gives legitimacy to fringe views. Even Russia's official channels, such as its UK embassy Twitter accounts, post memes discrediting the organisation.
''If you scroll through tweets about the White Helmets, pretty much every other conversation is equating them with Isis, calling them terrorists. It looks like they are the bad guys,'' said Sam Woolley, who studies computational propaganda at the University of Oxford.
''It's all part of an effort to delegitimise western efforts to stabilise Syria,'' he said.
His colleague Samantha Bradshaw adds: ''The more confusion there is, the easier it is to manipulate people.''
The research that shows the linkThe Guardian spoke to several researchers studying the spread of disinformation and propaganda online who have found evidence of a targeted Russian influence campaign against the White Helmets.
Fil Menczer, a computer science professor at Indiana University, has developed a tool called Hoaxy to chart the spread of misinformation online. Searching for ''White Helmets'' reveals a handful of sources generated hundreds of stories about the organisation. ''It's like a factory,'' he said.
The same handful of people are quoted as ''experts'' in articles that are repackaged and interlinked to create a body of content whose conspiracy claims gain a semblance of legitimacy.
The analytics firm Graphika has spent years analysing a range of Russian disinformation campaigns including those around the Macron leaks and the Russian doping scandal. In research commissioned by the human rights group the Syria Campaign, it found that the patterns in the online network of the 14,000 Twitter users talking about the White Helmets looked ''very similar'' and included many known pro-Kremlin troll accounts, some of which were closed down as part of the investigation into Russian interference in the US election. Other accounts appeared to generate more than 150 tweets per day (more than 70 is seen by scholars studying bots as suspicious).
A Graphika map of the online conversation about the White Helmets. Photograph: GraphikaGraphika also found evidence of coordination of timing and messaging around significant events in the news cycle relating to the White Helmets.
Separately, both Graphika and Menczer's Hoaxy tool identify Beeley, the British blogger, as among the most influential disseminators of content about the White Helmets.
Their findings also correlate with work done by Kate Starbird from the University of Washington in Seattle, who asserts that Beeley and the alternative news site 21st Century Wire have dominated the Twitter conversation about White Helmets over the last few months, along with Sputnik and RT.com.
Beeley frequently criticises the White Helmets in her role as editor of the website 21st Century Wire, set up by Patrick Henningsen, who is also an editor at Infowars.com.
In 2016, Beeley had a two-hour meeting with Assad in Damascus as part of a US Peace Council delegation, which she described on Facebook as her ''proudest moment''. She was also invited to Moscow to report on the ''dirty war in Syria''; there, she met senior Russian officials including the deputy foreign minister, Mikhail Bogdanov, and Maria Zakharova, director of information and press at Russia's foreign ministry.
The mannequin challengeTo understand the propaganda machine in action, you only have to look at what happened when the White Helmets posted their version of the mannequin challenge, a viral internet video trend where people would film themselves frozen mid-action. The rescue group filmed themselves in a staged rescue and shared the video on social media with the hashtag #MannequinChallenge.
The video, posted in November 2016 by the Revolutionary Forces of Syria Media Office, was immediately stripped of its context and reshared as evidence that the organisation uses ''crisis actors'' in staged rescues designed to make the Russian and Syrian armies look bad.
One Twitter user, retweeted hundreds of times, stated: ''Unbelievable! Must watch video showing White Helmets fakery.''
RT reported on the incident, including some of the tweets, and cited Beeley as an independent researcher asserting that the video fuelled suspicion around the ''already questionable credibility'' of the organisation. The following day Beeley wrote a story on 21st Century Wire in which she argued that the video caused ''widespread doubt, even among diehard supporters, as to the veracity of their much edited slick video reports''.
The White Helmets later issued an apology, saying they had hoped the viral video would create a connection between the horror or Syria and the outside world, but acknowledged it was an ''error of judgement''..
''It was a stupid thing to do,'' said Eliot Higgins, founder of the investigative reporting collective Bellingcat, ''but it was then completely misused by people who have an agenda.''
A year on and the White Helmets' mannequin challenge video is still widely circulated as evidence that they stage rescues.
There have, however, been isolated rogue actors within the White Helmets who are used to discredit the entire group. One former White Helmet was fired after he was filmed assisting armed militants in disposing of the mutilated corpses of pro-Assad fighters, and others have been photographed with guns despite marketing themselves as unarmed. There is also footage of White Helmets taking a body away from an execution carried out by rebel militants, which critics claim shows they are ''assisting'' executions.
''These are isolated incidents at the volunteer level '' there has never been any kind of incident involving anyone in the leadership,'' added Saleh, the White Helmets leader, looking down at his phone as he received a breaking news notification about a British politician resigning over sexual harassment allegations. ''No one is saying that the government of the UK is a predatory organisation just because of this one incident.''
Meanwhile, Beeley's influence continues. In April 2017, she gave a talk at a conference alongside ministers in Assad's cabinet (who spoke via video conference) titled ''White Helmets: Fact or Fantasy?'' Her briefing paper and slides on the topic were then submitted to the UN security council and UN general assembly by the Russian government as ''evidence'' against the White Helmets.
The White Helmets have been credited with saving thousands of lives. Photograph: Depo Photo/Rex/Shutterstock''These leaked documents offer cast-iron proof that the Russian government is doing what it can to elevate Vanessa Beeley as a key player in its propaganda campaign,'' said James Sadri, executive director of the Syria Campaign. ''A blogger for a 9/11 truther website who only visited Syria for the first time last year should not be taken seriously as an impartial expert on the conflict.''
The Guardian contacted Beeley several times asking for comment and she declined to respond to specific queries, saying that the questions put to her were ''a disgrace'' containing ''no relevant facts and are reminiscent of a McCarthyite interrogation''.
The Guardian also contacted Eva Bartlett, who said she had ''no interest in participating in your quite evidently already-decided 'story' (an odd term for a journalist to use for an article)''.
Shortly after the requests for comment, Beeley appeared on a 40-minute-long YouTube programme in which she discussed the emailed requests for comment and criticised the Guardian's coverage of Syria, alleging ''faux reporting'' based on footage provided by ''al-Qaida affiliates'' the White Helmets. Beeley said that the ''majority consensus'' was that the White Helmets were a fraudulent terrorist organisation.
Elsevier: Article Locator
Wed, 20 Dec 2017 13:26
Sexual victimization perpetrated by women: Federal data reveal surprising prevalenceAggression and Violent Behavior, Volume 34, Issue null, Pages 302-311
Lara Stemple, Andrew Flores, Ilan H Meyer
You can get the full-text article here... ...if you are:
How Often Do Women Rape Men? - The Atlantic
Wed, 20 Dec 2017 13:20
Two years ago, Lara Stemple, Director of UCLA's Health and Human Rights Law Project, came upon a statistic that surprised her: In incidents of sexual violence reported to the National Crime Victimization Survey, 38 percent of victims were men''''a figure much higher than in prior surveys. Intrigued, she began to investigate: Was sexual violence against men more common than previously thought?
The inquiry was a timely one. For years, the FBI definition of rape was gendered, requiring ''carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will.'' But a recent redefinition focused instead on forced penetration with no mention of gender. Meanwhile, other data-gatherers had started to track a new category of sexual violence that the Centers for Disease Control call ''being forced to penetrate.'' And still others were keeping better track of sexual violence in prisons.
Taken together, the new data challenged widely held beliefs.
In ''When Men Are Raped,'' the journalist Hanna Rosin summarized the peer-reviewed results that Stemple published with co-author Ilan Meyer in the American Journal of Public Health. ''For some kinds of victimization, men and women have roughly equal experiences,'' Rosin wrote. ''Stemple is a longtime feminist who fully understands that men have historically used sexual violence to subjugate women and that in most countries they still do. As she sees it, feminism has fought long and hard to fight rape myths'--that if a woman gets raped it's somehow her fault, that she welcomed it in some way. But the same conversation needs to happen for men.''
Read Follow-Up NotesThis awareness-raising need not come at the expense of women victimized by sexual violence, Stemple emphasized to Rosin, because ''compassion is not a finite resource.'' She also began to wonder, if men were victims of sexual violence far more often than was previously known by researchers, who were the perpetrators? Other men? Women? In what proportions? Under what circumstances?
A new investigation was born.
* * *
Today, the fruits of that research were published in another peer-reviewed paper, ''Sexual Victimization Perpetrated by Women: Federal Data Reveal Surprising Prevalence.'' Co-authored with Andrew Flores and Ilan Meyer, it appears in Aggression and Violent Behavior. Once again, federal survey data challenged conventional wisdom.
''These surveys have reached many tens of thousands of people, and each has shown internally consistent results over time,'' the authors note. ''We therefore believe that this article provides more definitive estimates about the prevalence of female sexual perpetration than has been provided in the literature to date. Taken as a whole, the reports we examine document surprisingly significant prevalence of female-perpetrated sexual victimization, mostly against men and occasionally against women.''
Those conclusions are grounded in striking numbers.
The authors first present what they learned from the The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, an ongoing, nationally representative survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that measures both lifetime victimization and victimization within the 12 months prior to questioning. Only the 2010 report provides data on the perpetrator's sex. It found that over their lifetime, women were vastly more likely to experience abuse perpetrated by men, as were male victims who were penetrated without their consent. ''But among men reporting other forms of sexual victimization, 68.6% reported female perpetrators,'' the paper reports, while among men reporting being made to penetrate, ''the form of nonconsensual sex that men are much more likely to experience in their lifetime ... 79.2% of victimized men reported female perpetrators.''
Next they turn to the National Crime Victimization Survey, conducted by the Bureau of Justice Statistics. This survey focuses on violent crime. After pooling and analyzing the data gathered in the years 2010 through 2013, the authors found female perpetrators acting without male co-perpetrators were reported in 28 percent of rape or sexual assault incidents involving male victims and 4.1 percent of incidents with female victims. Female perpetrator were reported in 34.7 percent of incidents with male victims and 4.2 percent of incidents with female victims.
To study nonconsensual sex among the incarcerated, the authors draw on data collected by the Bureau of Justice Statistics under the Prison Rape Elimination Act. (Their paper focuses on surveys of previously incarcerated inmates in state prisons; Stemple told me that the patterns they related are similar to data collected from those held in a broad range of prisons and jails.) Noting the high prevalence of ''sexual victimization committed by female staff members and female inmates,'' the authors report that women are ''much more likely to be abused'' by other women inmates than by male staff.
They add that ''for women prisoners and girls in detention, staff perpetrators are overwhelmingly male, and for men and boys the staff perpetrators are overwhelmingly female.'' Women are disproportionately represented among all staff abusers because men and boys are so disproportionately incarcerated overall.
Among adults who reported sexual contact with prison staff, including some contact that prisoners call ''willing'' but that is often coercive and always illegal, 80 percent reported only female perpetrators. Among juveniles, the same figure is 89.3 percent. Queer men and women were two to three times more likely to report abuse. ''The disproportionate abuse by female staff members does not occur because women are more often staffing facilities,'' the authors write. ''Men outnumber women by a ratio of three to one in positions requiring direct contact with inmates.''
Then there's the finding that surprised me most:
...while it is often assumed that inmate-on-inmate sexual assault comprises men victimizing men, the survey found that women state prisoners were more than three times as likely to experience sexual victimization perpetrated by women inmates (13.7 percent) than were men to be victimized by other male inmates (4.2 percent) (Beck et al., 2013).
The authors also note a 2011 survey of 302 male college students. It found that 51.2 percent reported ''at least one sexual victimization experience since age 16.''
About half of the victims reported a female perpetrator.
As well, ''a 2014 study of 284 men and boys in college and high school found that 43 percent reported being sexually coerced, with the majority of coercive incidents resulting in unwanted sexual intercourse. Of them, 95 percent reported only female perpetrators. The authors defined sexual coercion broadly, including verbal pressure such as nagging and begging, which, the authors acknowledge, increases prevalence dramatically.''
And ''a 2012 study using data from the U. S. Census Bureau's nationally representative National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions found in a sample of 43,000 adults little difference in the sex of self-reported sexual perpetrators. Of those who affirmed that they had 'ever forced someone to have sex with you against their will,' 43.6 percent were female and 56.4 percent were male.''
Finally, there is reason to fear that abuse by female perpetrators is under-reported:
Tellingly, researchers have found that victims who experience childhood sexual abuse at the hands of both women and men are more reluctant to disclose the victimization perpetrated by women (Sgroi & Sargent, 1993). Indeed the discomfort of reporting child sexual victimization by a female perpetrator can be so acute that a victim may instead inaccurately report that his or her abuser was male (Longdon, 1993).
Male victims may experience pressure to interpret sexual victimization by women in a way more consistent with masculinity ideals, such as the idea that men should relish any available opportunity for sex (Davies & Rogers, 2006). Or, sexual victimization might be reframed as a form of sexual initiation or a rite of passage, to make it seem benign. In some cases, male victims are portrayed as responsible for the abuse. Particularly as male victims move from childhood to adolescence, they are ascribed more blame for encounters with adult women.
And according to the paper, when female abusers are reported, they are less likely to be investigated, arrested, or punished compared to male perpetrators, who are regarded as more harmful.
* * *
The authors completed their research and writeup long before multiple sexual assault allegations roiled the 2016 presidential race. Even so, they were sensitive to the possibility that ''a focus on female perpetration might be skeptically viewed as an attempt to upend a women's rights agenda focused on male-perpetrated sexual victimization.'' As they see it, ''attention to female perpetration is consistent with feminist approaches that take into account power relations, intersectional analyses, and the imperative to question gender-based stereotypes.''
Stereotypes about women ''include the notion that women are nurturing, submissive helpmates to men,'' they write. ''The idea that women can be sexually manipulative, dominant, and even violent runs counter to these stereotypes. Yet studies have documented female-perpetrated acts that span a wide spectrum of sexual abuse.''
They argue that female perpetration is downplayed among professionals in mental health, social work, public health, and law, with harmful results for male and female victims, in part due to these ''stereotypical understandings of women as sexually harmless,'' even as ongoing ''heterosexism can render lesbian and bisexual victims of female-perpetrated sexual victimization invisible to professionals.''
To date, no existing clinical studies examine large numbers of female sexual perpetrators. As a result, we understand less than we might of a category of sexual perpetrator that, while not the most common, will still victimize many thousands each year.
The authors conclude that in a better world, those charged with responding to sexual victimization would be both gender inclusive, addressing ''all victims and perpetrators, regardless of sex,'' and gender sensitive, understanding how prevailing norms ''influence women and men in disproportionate or different ways.''
Do you have a personal experience relevant to this piece? Please send to hello@theatlantic.com. (We may publish it, anonymously, in Notes. Update: Our reader series begins here.)
The Senate's Russia Investigation Is Now Looking Into Jill Stein
Wed, 20 Dec 2017 12:49
The top congressional committee investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election has set its sights on the Green Party and its nominee, Jill Stein.
Dennis Trainor Jr., who worked for the Stein campaign from January to August of 2015, says Stein contacted him on Friday saying the Senate Intelligence Committee had requested that the campaign comply with a document search.
Trainor, who served as the campaign's communications director and acting manager during that time, told BuzzFeed News that he was informed of the committee's request because during his time on the campaign, his personal cell phone was ''a primary point of contact'' for those looking to reach Stein or the campaign. That included producers from RT News, the Russian state-funded media company that booked Stein for several appearances, Trainor said.
''Then I was told by Jill just to wait for further instructions,'' Trainor said, adding that he was told the campaign would contact him in the next week with details, presumably from the Senate Intelligence Committee, of how to execute the document search, including precise search terms. That has not happened yet, Trainor said.
Trainor, who has worked on and off for Stein since formally leaving the campaign in 2015, said he is inclined to cooperate with the committee's request but wants to first seek legal counsel. He said he believes Stein plans to post the documents on her own website ''in an effort to show complete transparency and kind of wage her own war against ... what I imagine she thinks is an overblown investigation into collusion.''
Stein, herself, confirmed the Intelligence Committee's request in a tweeted statement just after midnight on Tuesday in which she said she "is cooperating by sharing all communications relevant to the committee's mission" and would "release a more comprehensive statement about the investigation in the near future."
Stein also addressed her presence at a 2015 dinner hosted by RT in Moscow, in which she sat at the same table as Russian President Vladimir Putin and Michael Flynn, who served as President Donald Trump's first White House national security adviser until he was ousted just 24 days into the job. Flynn recently pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with the Russian ambassador and agreed to cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller, who is conducting a criminal investigation into potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
"Our campaign has observed the highest standards of transparency and integrity in our interactions with foreign nationals as well as Americans," Stein's statement said. "Our communications with Russian individuals regarding an invitation to speak on international relations at the RT 10th anniversary media conference will confirm what we stated publicly at that time and since: that we did not accept any payment or even reimbursement for the trip, and that we made the trip with the goal of reaching an international audience and Russian officials with a message of Middle East peace, diplomacy, and cooperation against the urgent threat of climate change, consistent with long-standing Green principles and policies."
Stein said the Green Party supports "legitimate inquiry into any illegal activity in our elections" but warned against "the politicization, sensationalism and collapse of journalistic standards that has plagued media coverage of the investigation."
When asked Monday what the committee was looking for from the Stein campaign, North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr, the committee's chairman, responded, "collusion with the Russians."
Both Burr and Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, the vice chair of the committee, on Tuesday referenced Stein's presence at the 2015 dinner hosted by RT. While cautioning that the committee doesn't ''confirm or deny any witnesses," Warner said, "I will point out that Ms. Stein was at that somewhat infamous dinner with Gen. Flynn and Vladimir Putin, and also has been a long term defender of Mr. Assange and Wikileaks which clearly was involved in dumping some disparaging information."
Asked what the committee was looking into with regards to Stein, Burr also mentioned the Moscow dinner. "We should look at Mike Flynn and not look at her?" Burr told BuzzFeed News. "She became the candidate. She was the one that actually initiated a recount campaign. Where'd that money come from? Millions of dollars."
"We want to look to see if there's any Russian connections to anything that happened in any campaigns," Burr added. "That's what we were chartered to do."
Trainor said he expects the Senate Intelligence Committee will want to know more about the dinner, but that he wasn't employed by the campaign at that time and therefore wouldn't have any documents related to the event.
Burr said that the committee is "just starting" its work investigating two campaigns in addition to that of Trump, but did not elaborate on Monday. On Tuesday, Burr again declined to elaborate, but suggested that the committee was focused on those that participated in the general election, not the presidential primaries. When asked if Sen. Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign was one of the two, Burr said: "Bernie Sanders wasn't in the general election."
Later Tuesday, Burr suggested to BuzzFeed News that the two campaigns were those of Stein and Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, but declined to confirm outright that the second was Clinton's and expressed disbelief at the notion that his comments had caused any confusion.
When asked directly if the campaigns were those of Stein and Clinton, Burr asked, "Is that that hard to connect?" He then added: "How many were there? How many general election [campaigns] were there?"
When reminded of the campaign of Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson, Burr said, "Oh God, ok. I can tell you, it wasn't Gary Johnson."
It's unclear whether Burr was referring this week to a new, broader line of inquiry as it might relate to Clinton, or the committee's previous work. He declined to expound on the details of the committee's potential interest in the Clinton campaign.
Burr said the intent of the committee's investigation from the beginning has been "to look at the possible connections of any campaign and Russians. Now maybe everybody interpreted that to limit it to the Trump administration. That was never the intent."
Both the Senate and House Intelligence committees have in recent months looked into elements of the Clinton campaign as it investigates the funding of an unverified dossier compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele, which was first published by BuzzFeed News in January after security officials had briefed President Barack Obama and then-president-elect Donald Trump about it.
Republicans on the House Intelligence committee have taken a greater interest in probing a Clinton connection to the dossier. Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta and former Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz have appeared before both committees, with CNN reporting that both denied having knowledge of the Clinton campaign funding the dossier, which was reportedly first funded by a Republican opponent of Trump.
Stein has not previously been a major focus during the Russia investigations on Capitol Hill, but her name has surfaced occasionally. The Senate Judiciary mentioned her in a letter to Donald Trump Jr. in July, requesting copies of ''all communications to, from, or copied'' to the president's son that related to Stein and a long list of other, more prominent figures in the investigations.
Trainor said he would be surprised if Stein ever communicated with Trump Jr., who participated in an interview with the Senate Intelligence Committee behind closed doors for more than nine hours last Wednesday. ''Don Jr. has been incredibly cooperative with the committee,'' Burr said the following day.
Trainor said he believes the committee is primarily interested in Stein's appearances on RT, ''vilifying anyone who's ever appeared on or talked with anyone on the RT network.''
A January assessment from the Intelligence Community on Russian election meddling called RT a ''propaganda outlet.'' And the Justice Department recently ordered RT to register as an agent of the Russian government.
Trainor, who said he has made appearances on RT himself, contests that characterization. ''There's a lot of smoke around RT and not a lot of fire,'' he said. Trainor also believes the Intelligence Community assessment refers to his own documentary about Occupy Wall Street, though not by name, in a section about RT's alleged attempts to ''fuel discontent'' in the US '-- something he called a ''body blow.'' He said the documentary, American Autumn, fits the description of the film cited in the assessment and was airing on RT at the time.
The Senate Intelligence Committee's investigation is now entering the homestretch, with its leaders hoping to wrap up interviews with witnesses early in the new year and release a report before the primaries for the 2018 midterm elections begin.
Model Lauren Wasser says she will lose second leg to TSS | Daily Mail Online
Wed, 20 Dec 2017 09:43
The model who lost her leg to toxic shock syndrome revealed that she is 'inevitably' going to lose the other and is speaking out to warn women of the dangers of this infection.
Lauren Wasser, 29, contracted toxic shock syndrome (TSS) in 2012 after using a super-plus tampon while on her period.
Though tampon boxes warn not to leave it in for more than eight hours, Wasser said that she had been frequently changing her tampon while experiencing symptoms of the infection.
What started as flu-like symptoms left her suffering a massive heart attack and on life support as gangrene began to consume both of her legs, which led to a below-the-knee amputation of her right leg and toe amputations on her left foot.
Now as another amputation looms, the Los Angeles-based model is determined to warn women and young girls about the potential risks associated with tampons through promoting legislation for transparency in feminine hygiene products.
Lauren Wasser, 29, had her right leg and toes from her left foot amputated in 2012 after she nearly died from toxic shock syndrome from a tampon
She is pictured in the hospital where she had a 107 degree fever, suffered a massive heart attack and gangrene consumed her feet leading to her leg and toe amputation
The Los Angeles-based model, who is pictured walking during the 2016 New York Fashion Week, has become an advocate to raise awareness about the dangers of tampons
Wasser said that the remaining injuries in her left foot could mean another surgery to amputate her left leg.
'My left foot has an open ulcer, no heel, and no toes,' she wrote in an op-ED featured in InStyle. 'I'm in daily excruciating pain.'
Her body has produced calcium which caused the bones to grow on her foot as her brain's way of telling the missing toes to grow back.
She has needed surgery to shave down the bone because it became too unbearable to walk.
Wasser also cannot wet her foot due to the open ulcer - something that is difficult for the California-born model.
'In a few months, I'm inevitably going to have my other leg amputated. There's nothing I can do about it. But what I can do is help make sure that this doesn't happen to others,' she said.
The model is now an advocate by pushing legislation urging the National Institutes of Health to help test feminine hygiene products to determine they are safe.
Wasser is advocating for a bill called the Robin Danielson Act, named after a woman who died from TSS in 1988, which requires feminine hygiene product companies to disclose exactly what is in their products and what the long-term health effects are.
The bill has been rejected 10 times.
She has spoken publicly about her condition and given a TED Talk to share her story.
The model revealed that her remaining left leg will 'inevitably' need to be amputated because the bones continue to grow where her toes used to be
Even after her amputation, Wasser's modeling career flourished as seen in an ad for Nordstom wearing her gold prosthetic leg
The model was 24 when she fell ill after using a tampon.
She was found in her apartment 10 minutes from death, face down, unconscious on her bedroom floor covered in feces and vomit, after her mother called police for a wellness check when she had not heard from her for a while.
While in the hospital her fever reached 107 degrees, she suffered a heart attack and her organs began to fail before she was put into a medically induced coma.
WHAT IS TOXIC SHOCK SYNDROME? Toxic shock syndrome is a highly dangerous bacterial infection - but it can be misdiagnosed because the symptoms are similar to other illnesses and because it is so rare.
It occurs when usually harmless Staphylococcus aureus or Streptococcus bacteria, which live on the skin, invade the bloodstream and produce dangerous toxins.
Symptoms usually begin with a sudden high fever, with a temperature above 38.9C/102F.
Within a few hours a sufferer will develop flu-like symptoms including headache, muscle aches, a sore throat and cough.
Nausea and vomiting, diarrhoea, feeling faint, dizziness and confusion are also symptoms.
Women are most at risk of getting toxic shock syndrome during menstruation and particularly if they are using tampons, have recently given birth, or are using an internal barrier contraceptive such as a diaphragm.
While tampon boxes advise to change them between four to eight hours, it is common for women to forget and leave them in overnight.
An infectious disease doctor ordered to check if Wasser had a tampon in and after a test was done, she was diagnosed with TSS.
However, the damage was done to her legs from gangrene and doctors needed to amputate. She now uses gold prosthetic leg.
Toxic shock syndrome is a rare and life threatening bacterial infection.
It is commonly misdiagnosed because the symptoms resemble other more common illnesses.
The infection occurs when usually harmless Staphylococcus aureus or Streptococcus bacteria, which live on the skin, invade the bloodstream and produce dangerous toxins.
Symptoms include a high fever, low blood pressure, vomiting, confusion and seizures.
It most commonly occurs in women using tampons.
Tampon boxes come with a warning of the deadly infection after leaving it in for more than eight hours, though Wasser said she changed them regularly.
Each year toxic shock syndrome affects about one in 100,000 women.
The disease made headlines in the late 1970s and early 1980s after the deaths of several young women who were using a brand of super-absorbent tampon that was later removed from the market.
However, TSS has not impeded Wasser's modeling career.
She has landed jobs modeling Nordstrom's holiday shoe collection and Kenneth Cole's Courageous Class campaign.
Swedish government wants to criminalize paying for sex abroad - The Local
Wed, 20 Dec 2017 09:30
Justice Minister Morgan Johansson, who signed the proposal. Photo: Emil Langvad / TT
Twenty years ago, Sweden became the first country in the world to criminalize paying for sex, and now it wants to pave the way in making it illegal to pay for sex abroad, with a law proposal the government presented on Thursday.The proposed law would see Swedish residents punished for buying sexual services abroad, even if this was done in countries where the practice is legal.
"Buying sexual services is unacceptable, regardless of whether it's done in Sweden or abroad," the proposal, by Justice Minister Morgan Johansson, says. It notes that studies have shown that most Swedish citizens and residents who purchase sex do so in another country.
This is already illegal under Swedish law, however Swedish courts are not able to issue punishments on paying for sex in countries where it is legal, and that's what the government wants to change.
In order for Swedish citizens to be sentenced in Sweden for crimes committed abroad, it is usually essential that the offence is illegal in both countries (dual criminality). However, there are exceptions to this, such as for crimes including forced marriage, human trafficking, and sex crimes against children.
The proposal also calls for the toughening of penalties for those who exploit children through purchasing sexual acts, so that the minimum penalty be changed from a fine to a prison sentence.
Numerous women's and human's rights organizations have supported the proposal.
"We are immensely gladdened to see that Sweden may now be about to insist that its men have no more right to pay to abuse women on foreign soil than on their own," said Rachel Moran, founder of SPACE International, an international organization that supports survivors of prostitution, in a statement.
The government suggested that the law come into force on July 1st, 2018, but in order for that to happen it needs approval from at least some of the other parties in Sweden's parliament.
Swedish PM backs new 'sexual consent' law - The Local
Wed, 20 Dec 2017 09:28
Deputy Prime Minister Isabella L¶vin, Prime Minister Stefan L¶fven and Minister of Justice and Home Affairs Morgan Johansson, Photo: Kicki Nilsson/TT/11380
Swedish politicians have agreed to back a sexual consent law that will enable more rape and sexual assault cases to be prosecuted.If a person has not agreed in words or by their clear actions that they are willing to engage in sexual activity, then forcing or coercing them into a sexual act will be illegal. The hope is that this sends a clear message to society that any non-consensual sexual contact or activity is against the law and therefore liable to prosecution.
Under current Swedish law, the Swedish term for "rape" covers a multitude of sexual offences that may or may not have occured under threat or violent circumstances. Under the new sexual consent law, due to be legislated during 2018, perpetrators may be prosecuted even without the presence of violence or the threat of violence.
As the Swedish Prime Minister Stefan L¶fven said in a press conference, "It should be obvious. Sex should be voluntary. If it is not voluntary, then it is illegal." "If you are unsure, then refrain!"
In light of the last few months' #MeToo movement against sexual assault and harassment, the goverment has been working on ways to legislate more effectively against sexual assault and rape. The new sexual consent law is one of several initiatives that aim to put "the victim's interests in the first place" L¶fven noted.
READ ALSO: All of The Local's articles on the #MeToo movement in Sweden
Past critics have claimed that the new law will not result in more court sentences, but the government and L¶fven stress that it is also designed to change societal norms:
"We want to change society's attitudes and values".
As part of their agenda the government is also planning a series of related legislation, including improved victim support services, legislation against sexual exploitation and human trafficking, making sex purchases abroad illegal, and higher prison sentences for offenders. There is a 10-year plan in place to combat men's violence against women, and plans to introduce electronic tagging of domestic abusers.
READ ALSO: Swedish government wants to criminalize paying for sex abroad
The new legislation will put even higher demand on the police force, so the Swedish government is allocating an additional two billion kronor towards the Swedish police forces in 2018, with 7.1 billion kronor promised for the total period 2018-2020.
Swedish PM backs new law meaning sex without clearly worded or demonstrated consent is rape | The Independent
Wed, 20 Dec 2017 09:26
The Swedish Prime Minister has backed calls for a sexual consent law which will mean more rape and sexual assault cases can be prosecuted.
Under the proposed law, if a person has not agreed in words or clearly demonstrated they want to engage in sexual activity, then forcing or coercing them into a sexual act will be illegal.
Current Swedish law means what is classed as ''rape'' covers a multitude of sexual offences but it has to be proven it occurred because of threats or violence.
The proposed changes, which are likely to be legislated for next year, will mean sexual acts will be deemed rape whenever consent was not given regardless of whether there is any evidence of threats or violence.
Speaking a press conference announcing the change, Prime Minister Stefan L¶fven said: ''It should be obvious. Sex should be voluntary. If it is not voluntary, then it is illegal.
''If you are unsure, then refrain!''
The new sexual consent law is partially a response to the #metoo movement which gathered momentum after allegations emerged that Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein had used his position to sexually harass, assault and rape dozens of women over the past 30 years.
The claims led to a wave of allegations against other powerful men in other industries and spread across the world, including to Sweden.
The proposed law is one of several initiatives designed to put ''the victim's interests first'', Mr L¶fven said.
Critics of the law have said it will not lead to more convictions, but Mr L¶fven said it was also about ''changing society's attitudes and values'', The Local reported.
In addition to the sexual consent law, the government is also planning other legislation which will improved victim support service, fight sexual exploitation and human trafficking, make buying sex abroad illegal and increase prison sentences for offenders.
There is also a 10-year plan in place to fight men's violence against women and a plan to introduce electronic tagging of convicted domestic abusers.
Reuse content
Yapian Youbit cryptocurrency exchange files bankruptcy
Wed, 20 Dec 2017 09:24
Yapian, a company that owns the Youbit exchange in South Korea, filed for bankruptcy Tuesday after a hack that resulted in the loss of 17 percent of its cryptocurrency, according to a statement on its website.
(News of the hack was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.)
The exchange was used to purchase and sell cryptocurrencies including bitcoin and ethereum.
A translated statement posted by the company on its website said customers will be able to withdraw 75 percent of assets held there until the bankruptcy process is complete.
After a hack in April, the company said, it did its "best to improve the security, recruitment and system maintenance."
South Korea's Internet and Security Agency blamed the earlier attack on cyberspies working for North Korea, according to the BBC.
Final Tax Bill Could End Up Costing $2.2 Trillion | Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget
Wed, 20 Dec 2017 09:06
The final conference committee agreement of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) would cost $1.46 trillion under conventional scoring and over $1 trillion on a dynamic basis over ten years, leading debt to rise to between 95 percent and 98 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 2027 (compared to 91 percent under current law). However, the bill also includes a number of expirations and long-delayed tax hikes meant to reduce the official cost of the bill. These expirations and delays hide $570 billion to $725 billion of potential further costs, which could ultimately increase the cost of the bill to $2.0 trillion to$2.2 trillion (before interest) on a conventional basis or roughly $1.5 trillion to $1.7 trillion on a dynamic basis over a decade. As a result, debt would rise to between 98 percent and 100 percent of GDP by 2027.
Ignoring the expirations in this bill is particularly disingenuous given the claim that using a ''current policy baseline'' reduces the bill's costs. The (flawed) idea is that the bill should be compared to a current policy baseline that counts expired and expiring provisions as if they are continued permanently. (For more on this, see Current Policy Gimmick Would Add Half-Trillion to Debt). Using such a construct does not make sense if cost of continuing future expirations contained in the bill are not included in the initial cost estimate. Policymakers are effectively claiming $450 billion of current policy savings while ignoring over $700 billion of current policy costs.
This latest estimate updates our tally of the gimmicks from a previous version of the bill. The changes made in conference include both tax increases and decreases that mostly offset each other, with a net increase in the ten-year cost of $9 billion (compared to the Senate bill). With these changes, the bill now has a total cost of $1.46 trillion, or roughly $1.77 trillion with interest. While there is no new dynamic score of the bill, assuming it continues to produce very roughly $400 billion of dynamic feedback would reduce that cost to about $1.05 trillion, or roughly $1.30 trillion with interest.
However, this cost does not account for as much as $725 billion of potential gimmicks that the conferenced bill contains.
In the earlier version passed by the Senate, we identified $585 billion of arbitrary sunsets and sunrises of certain provisions. Most significantly, nearly all of the individual income tax provisions would have expired after 2025. Additionally, the expensing provisions ("bonus depreciation") began to phase down starting in 2022, and a number of new tax increases appeared in 2026. Some provisions were set to expire even earlier, such as an expanded deduction for medical expenses and provisions for craft beer and paid leave '' clearly setting the stage for future extensions.
The conferenced bill adds to the Senate bill's gimmicks, which we explain here. Most significantly, it advances the start date of the bill's requirement for research expenses to be amortized, which nearly doubles the ten-year savings of the provision. Additionally, the bill tightens its limits on the business interest deduction four years in the future '' a future tax hike that may not be allowed to ever occur. Other changes are smaller and move in both directions.
Adding these gimmicks to the cost of the bill would increase the total cost to $2.0 trillion to $2.2 trillion. Though the dynamic effect of making the bill permanent is unknown, we estimate a permanent bill would produce roughly $450 billion of feedback,* leading to a dynamic cost of roughly $1.6 trillion to $1.7 trillion. With interest, these costs would rise to $2.4 trillion to $2.5 trillion, or $1.9 trillion to $2 trillion with dynamic effects included, over a decade.
True Cost of Conference BillPolicyTen-Year CostTCJA as reported by the conference committee $1.46 trillion Sunsetting individual tax provisions after 2025$315 billionAmortizing Research & Experimentation (R&E) expenses after 2021$120 billionPhasing out full expensing after 2022$0 to 80 billion' Making business interest deduction more strict after 2021$0 to $75 billion' Making foreign tax provisions more strict after 2025$50 billionSunsetting more generous medical expense deduction after 2018$45 billionSunsetting credit for employers who offer paid leave after 2019$30 billionSunsetting craft beverage tax reforms$10 billionConventional "Real" Cost $2.0-$2.2 trillion Potential Dynamic Feedback Effects-$450 billion*Dynamic "Real Cost" $1.6-$1.7 trillion True Cost with Interest$2.4-2.5 trillionTrue Cost with Interest and Dynamic Effects$1.9-2.0 trillionSource: CRFB calculations based on Joint Committee on Taxation.
' High end of the cost assumes these late-stage tax increases are not allowed to take effect.
As is, the bill would cause debt to increase from 77 percent of GDP this year to 95 percent or 98 percent of GDP by 2027, depending on whether dynamic effects are included, as compared to 91 percent projected under current law. If expiring provisions are extended and late-stage tax hikes avoided, debt could reach as high as 98 percent or 100 percent of GDP by 2027. In other words, the national debt could exceed the size of the economy.
*JCT estimated the Finance Committee-passed tax bill would generate $407 billion of dynamic feedback, and we believe the conference bill would generate a similar amount. Making the legislation permanent could produce more or less dynamic feedback. On the one hand, permanent individual reforms will improve labor force incentives in 2026 and 2027 and will improve investment incentives for ''pass-through'' businesses throughout the budget window. On the other hand, higher debt might increase interest rates and slow growth. Continued expensing beyond 2022 would increase investment late in the decade but might actually reduce investment early in the decade. On net, we believe the result of these and other factors would be more growth and dynamic feedback over ten years but less (and possibly negative) growth over the long run. As a simplifying assumption, we assume the feedback in 2025 continues through 2027 and thus generates $450 billion of net feedback. Actual numbers could differ.
Frightening ways Trump's America mirrors Hitler's Germany - Salon.com
Wed, 20 Dec 2017 09:00
''Pastor Niemoller spoke for the thousands and thousands of men like me when he spoke (too modestly of himself) and said that, when the Nazis attacked the Communists, he was a little uneasy, but, after all, he was not a Communist, and so he did nothing: and then they attacked the Socialists, and he was a little uneasier, but, still, he was not a Socialist, and he did nothing; and then the schools, the press, the Jews, and so on, and he was always uneasier, but still he did nothing. And then they attacked the Church, and he was a Churchman, and he did something '' but then it was too late.'' '...
''You see, one doesn't see exactly where or how to move. Believe me, this is true. Each act, each occasion, is worse than the last, but only a little worse. You wait for the next and the next.
''You wait for the one great shocking occasion, thinking that others, when such a shock comes, will join with you in resisting somehow. You don't want to act, or even to talk, alone; you don't want to 'go out of your way to make trouble.' Why not? '' Well, you are not in the habit of doing it. And it is not just fear, fear of standing alone, that restrains you; it is also genuine uncertainty.
''Uncertainty is a very important factor, and, instead of decreasing as time goes on, it grows.
''Outside, in the streets, in the general community, everyone is happy. One hears no protest, and certainly sees none. You know, in France or Italy there will be slogans against the government painted on walls and fences; in Germany, outside the great cities, perhaps, there is not even this.
''In the university community, in your own community, you speak privately to your colleagues, some of whom certainly feel as you do; but what do they say? They say, 'It's not so bad' or 'You're seeing things' or 'You're an alarmist.'
''And you are an alarmist. You are saying that this must lead to this, and you can't prove it. These are the beginnings, yes; but how do you know for sure when you don't know the end, and how do you know, or even surmise, the end?
''On the one hand, your enemies, the law, the regime, the Party, intimidate you. On the other, your colleagues pooh-pooh you as pessimistic or even neurotic. . . .
"But the one great shocking occasion, when tens or hundreds or thousands will join with you, never comes.
''That's the difficulty. If the last and worst act of the whole regime had come immediately after the first and the smallest, thousands, yes, millions would have been sufficiently shocked '' if, let us say, the gassing of the Jews in '43 had come immediately after the 'German Firm' stickers on the windows of non-Jewish shops in '33.
''But of course this isn't the way it happens. In between come all the hundreds of little steps, some of them imperceptible, each of them preparing you not to be shocked by the next. Step C is not so much worse than Step B, and, if you did not make a stand at Step B, why should you at Step C? And so on to Step D.
''And one day, too late, your principles, if you were ever sensible of them, all rush in upon you. The burden of self-deception has grown too heavy, and some minor incident, in my case my little boy, hardly more than a baby, saying 'Jew swine,' collapses it all at once, and you see that everything, everything, has changed and changed completely under your nose.
''The world you live in '' your nation, your people '' is not the world you were in at all. The forms are all there, all untouched, all reassuring, the houses, the shops, the jobs, the mealtimes, the visits, the concerts, the cinema, the holidays.
''But the spirit, which you never noticed because you made the lifelong mistake of identifying it with the forms, is changed.
''Now you live in a world of hate and fear, and the people who hate and fear do not even know it themselves; when everyone is transformed, no one is transformed. Now you live in a system which rules without responsibility even to God.''
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VIDEO - Right Before Christmas, New Book Depicts Santa Claus As A Gay Black Man
Thu, 21 Dec 2017 13:11
The author of a new children's Christmas book is facing some backlash for the controversial subject matter '-- specifically his re-invention of Santa Claus.
Daniel Kibblesmith, who also writes for CBS' ''The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,'' portrayed St. Nicholas as a gay, black man living with his white husband, David, at the North Pole.
In an interview with CNN, Kibblesmith and the book's illustrator, A.P. Quach, explained the motivation behind the book.
''It was sort of inspired by the annual tradition we have in this country of pretending that there's a giant war on Christmas and that traditional Christmas is under attack,'' the author said.
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A number of factors aided in the development of the book, but he said the general narrative emerged from a story in the news ahead of Christmas 2016.
''Among other things, we were reading all of the news about the Mall of America hiring a black Santa Claus last year,'' he said. ''And me and my now-wife made a joke on Twitter that if we had a child, they would only know about black Santa Claus.''
He added that they would explain any white Santas they encountered in malls or other public places by telling the child ''that's his husband.''
The joke soon transformed into an actual book, he noted, when Quach injected herself into the Twitter conversation and the two began working on ''Santa's Husband.''
''New Day'' host Victor Blackwell called the book a ''fresh new twist'' on the traditional Christmas character and went on to read an excerpt.
''Like any married couple, they have their disagreements, but they always manage to kiss and make up '-- usually over a plate of milk and cookies,'' he read.
The unorthodox tale received some support on social media and from a number of traditional outlets. The Chicago Tribune's Rex Huppke, for example, wrote that it was ''as true and humble a Christmas tale as any Santa enthusiast could want.''
Several conservative pundits, however, saw it as inappropriate for children and an affront to traditional values.
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''I don't mean to curdle your egg nog, but the storybook was written for children as young as four-years-old,'' wrote Fox News commentator Todd Starnes.
As Red State reported, Kibblesmith responded to the criticism '-- some of which has come from within the gay community '-- that his book was written with an ideological objective in mind.
''Well, I think that's a legitimate criticism,'' he said. ''I mean, I'm literally on the news anchor scene now, but, you know, that's just the world that we come from. I'm a political satire writer. So when, you know, I have the opportunity to write a book, these are the things that I care about and that I'm interested in.''
His ultimate goal, he said, was to ''put a net positive into the world and contribute to a vacuum of representation.'' He also expressed gratitude for the fact that ''the response has been so overwhelmingly positive so far.''
VIDEO - Streep, Hanks and Spielberg discuss political drama, The Post.
Thu, 21 Dec 2017 13:01
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VIDEO - Murdoch Pooh-Poohs Sex Scandals, Gets Slammed
Thu, 21 Dec 2017 12:54
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Source: 30dB.com '' Rupert%20Murdoch
But Rupert Murdoch, chairman and CEO of Fox News (among his other titles), has chosen to downplay the severity of what has happened at his network. When Sky News asked him about a slew of sexual harassment allegations against Fox employees, Murdoch said it was all nonsense and the accusations involved isolated incidents. Former Fox political commentator Tamara Holder quickly blasted Murdoch on CNN, calling the 86-year-old mogul either ''a liar, or delusional'' and contending that the company has allowed a culture of sexual misconduct to prosper. ''I'm stuck here talking about this because there are people like Rupert Murdoch who continue to deny that we were abused and our careers were destroyed and our lives were destroyed,'' Holder said on the media show Reliable Sources. ''This is not political, this is people's lives.'' Although Fox has pushed back saying that Murdoch meant it was nonsense that harassment allegations had hurt business, Social is equally disgusted, giving him 87 percent negatives. No word if Disney, which just cut a $52.4 billion deal to buy much of 21st Century Fox, has an opinion about Murdoch's comments. ''Hugo Guzman
Republished from 30dB
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VIDEO - Savannah Guthrie to Paul Ryan: 'Are you living in a fantasy world?' | TheHill
Thu, 21 Dec 2017 12:51
Savannah Guthrie asked Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanMcConnell names Senate GOP tax confereesHouse Republican: 'I worry about both sides' of the aisle on DACAOvernight Health Care: 3.6M signed up for ObamaCare in first month | Ryan pledges 'entitlement reform' next year | Dems push for more money to fight opioidsMORE (R-Wis.) during an interview on NBC's "Today" early Wednesday if he was ''living in a fantasy world'' to think that the GOP tax bill will help workers.
Guthrie quoted former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I), who said in an op-ed earlier this month that such an argument is ''pure fantasy.''
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''CEOs aren't waiting on a tax cut to 'jump-start the economy''--a favorite phrase of politicians who have never run a company'--or to hand out raises,'' Bloomberg said. ''It's pure fantasy to think that the tax bill will lead to significantly higher wages and growth.''''I'll ask you plainly: Are you living in a fantasy world?'' Guthrie asked Ryan.
Ryan pushed back, citing a survey from the National Association of Business Manufacturers.
''Surveys would show the vast majority of businesses are going to do just what we say, reinvest in their workers, reinvest in their factories, pay people more money, higher wages,'' he said.
The Senate passed the final version of the tax bill early Wednesday morning. It overhauls the tax code and cuts corporate tax rates, but Democrats and critics say the plan will primarily benefit the wealthy and corporations.
The GOP has argued that by cutting taxes for corporations, businesses will reinvest their savings in their workers by raising wages.
The House will vote on the bill for a second time on Wednesday, after the Senate ruled that two provisions in the bill did not comply with budget rules.
VIDEO - Seth Meyers suggests more words for Trump administration to ban | TheHill
Thu, 21 Dec 2017 12:46
Late-night comedian Seth Meyers jokingly revealed words the Trump administration would like to ban in the wake of reports that the administration blocked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from using certain words in official documents.
"From now on coal will be referred to as patriot rocks, McDonald's Happy Meals will be called 'big boy food,' neo-Nazis will be called 'fun-time torch boys,' the Civil War will be referred to as the 'war of good people on both sides,' 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 will be referred to as 'prisoner number 92753,' " Meyers said on his show "Late Night with Seth Meyers."
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Meyers's comments come days after The Washington Post first reported that top CDC officials had sent around a list of "forbidden" words and phrases, which included ''evidence-based," "science-based," "vulnerable,'' ''entitlement,'' ''diversity,'' ''transgender'' and ''fetus.''
CDC officials have pushed back on the report, saying there are no bans and that the report was a result of a misunderstanding during a budgeting meeting.
''I understand that confusion arose from a staff-level discussion at a routine meeting about how to present CDC's budget,'' CDC Director Brenda Fitzgerald said in a statement Monday. ''It was never intended as overall guidance for how we describe and conduct CDC's work.''
However, the report has continued to fuel outrage among Democrats.
Sen. Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayDemocrats turn on Al FrankenVA slashes program that helps homeless veterans obtain housing: reportThe Hill's 12:30 ReportMORE (D-Wash.) and Rep. Frank Pallone Jr.Frank Joseph PalloneOvernight Energy: Watchdog probes Pruitt speech to mining group | EPA chief promises to let climate scientists present their work | Volkswagen manager gets 7 years for emissions cheatingThe nearly 60 Dems who voted for impeachmentEPA watchdog to investigate Pruitt meeting with industry groupMORE (D-N.J.) on Monday sent a letter to acting HHS Secretary Eric Hargan saying the reported policy ''sends a clear message that the Trump Administration is yet again prioritizing ideology over science.''
VIDEO - Adam, John, Seriously. Just finished listening to this episode. Andreas Antonopolous is a bitcoin John the Baptist and the way he can keep his cool and stay level headed in this supersonic dumpster fire is superheroic. Listen and learn : inthemorn
Thu, 21 Dec 2017 12:16
published on 2017-12-17T16:12:05Z ##On Todays Episode of Let's Talk Bitcoin, Andreas Antonopoulos rejoins Stephanie Murphy, Jonathan Mohan and Adam B. Levine to dissect the cryptocurrency bubble. Later, the discussion turns to troubled Venezuela's bi-polar approach to Bitcoin Mining while launching it's own Altcoin. And what is Crypto-Fiat anyways? This episode of Let's Talk Bitcoin! was sponsored by EasyDNS.com and edited by Matthew Zipkin. This episode featured music by Jared Rubens & the New Time. Any questions or comments? email adam@letstalkbitcoin.com Album Art modified from an original created by By Alan from oralMent, adanaC (Everything is fine) [CC BY 2.0](http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), via Wikimedia Commons Have a good one!
GenrePodcastDownload Let's Talk Bitcoin! #350 - Such Great HeightsLicense: cc-by-nc
VIDEO - Nikki Haley: The US is 'taking names' on Jerusalem resolution - CNNPolitics
Thu, 21 Dec 2017 12:07
"At the UN, we're constantly asked to do more and give more -- in the past we have. So, when we make a decision, at the will of the American people, about where to locate OUR embassy, we don't expect those we've helped to target us," Haley wrote on Facebook and Twitter on Tuesday evening. "On Thursday, there will be a vote at the UN criticizing our choice. And yes, the US will be taking names."President Donald Trump backed his ambassador's tough talk at a Cabinet meeting in Washington on Wednesday. "We're watching those votes," the President said. "Let them vote against us, we'll save a lot. We don't care. But this isn't like it used to be where they could vote against you and then you pay them hundreds of millions of dollars and nobody knows what they're doing."
Trump indicated that he and Haley had agreed on her message beforehand. "Nikki, that was the right message that you and I agreed to be sent yesterday," he said. "People that live here, our great citizens that love this country -- they're tired of this country being taken advantage of and we're not going to be taken advantage of any longer."
On Monday, the US exercised its veto power at the UN to sink a Security Council resolution critical of the White House's unilateral move to recognize the city as Israel's capital. Haley cast the veto, blocking the resolution introduced by Egypt, despite the 14 other members of the Security Council voting in favor."What we witnessed here today in the Security Council is an insult. It won't be forgotten. It's one more example of the United Nations doing more harm than good in addressing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict," Haley said in remarks following her veto.The Palestinians are now moving the resolution before the UN's General Assembly, where the US cannot unilaterally avoid censure. It is scheduled for a vote on Thursday.
In addition to her admonition on social media, Haley also sent a letter to fellow nations warning them of the potential impact of their vote.
"As you consider your vote, I want you to know that the President and U.S. take this vote personally." she wrote. "The President will be watching this vote carefully and has requested I report back on those countries who voted against us."
President Donald Trump announced in early December that the US would recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and would move its embassy there. The controversial move upended decades of foreign policy precedent and inflamed protests across the region.CNN's Kevin Liptak, Oren Liebermann, Elise Labott, and Jeremy Diamond contributed to this report.
VIDEO - Donald Trump denouncer Alec Baldwin will vote to re-elect president after he sees his tax cut, brother Stephen predicts | Fox News
Thu, 21 Dec 2017 12:06
Stephen Baldwin predicts brother Alec Baldwin will be voting for Trump for reelection after he get his "new tax cut." (Reuters)
It's shaping up to be another interesting Christmas for the Baldwin family.
Stephen Baldwin is predicting that older brother Alec Baldwin -- impersonator and vocal critic of Donald Trump -- will be voting to reelect the president.
Stephen, an avid Trump supporter, told Hollywood Reporter he believes his brother will be voting for Trump after the actor receives ''this new tax cut'' from the GOP tax bill that is expected to pass on Wednesday.
''I'm calling it now: With the amount of money Alec is going to make with this new tax cut, I bet he votes for Trump for re-election. Just saying!'' the 51-year-old actor said.
But Stephen may just have to text Alec, 59, his prediction, because he also revealed he hasn't spoken to his brother, infamous for his impersonation of the president on ''Saturday Night Live,'' since the surprise 2016 results came in.
''I can't get into it. I haven't spoken to [Alec] since the election. That's the truth,'' Stephen said when asked about his brother's Trump impression. ''That is by his choice. We grew up in a dumb-jock, competitive, 'Friday Night Lights' kind of environment.''
Stephen said he is ''absolutely'' still a supporter of Trump because they are the ''same kind of guy.'' He added that he isn't worried about being a vocal supporter of the president when most people in Hollywood criticize Trump.
''I'm a Baldwin brother, and that sends fear into anyone's heart, instantly,'' he said.
Katherine Lam is a breaking and trending news digital producer for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter at @bykatherinelam
VIDEO - Key ally forced to resign in a blow to UK's May | Reuters.com
Thu, 21 Dec 2017 11:57
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VIDEO - After Abuse Settlement, Former Fox News Contributor Left 'Without A Job And Without Any Income' | Here & Now
Wed, 20 Dec 2017 13:17
December 19, 2017 Updated Dec 19, 2017 3:38 PM
This Aug. 1, 2017, photo shows the 21st Century Fox sign outside of the News Corporation headquarters building in New York. (Richard Drew/AP)Editor's Note: This segment discusses sexual assault and sexual harrassment, and contains audio that some listeners may find disturbing or offensive.
Tamara Holder was a Fox News contributor in 2015 when she won a multimillion-dollar sexual harassment settlement with 21st Century Fox, which owns Fox News. Though the deal included a nondisclosure agreement, she says recent comments by Fox owner Rupert Murdoch nullify that contract, allowing her to break her silence about the case and the consequences for her life and career.
Here & Now's Robin Young speaks with Holder (@TamaraHolder).
Interview Highlights On her reaction to Murdoch's comments
"Honestly, I was speechless. My mind just, it was like an electric shock had gone through my brain. The audacity of this man to say something like this. He and his company ruined lives. Ruined them. There have been days for the past 2 1/2 years that I haven't wanted to go on anymore, and that's because of him and his company and what the people within it did to me."
On the conditions and consequences of the settlement
"I had been with Fox for seven years, and they paid me well. So '-- I just want to point out the settlement amount. I've heard from people, 'Well yeah, you got $2.5 million.' OK well I just ask everybody, take away paying your attorney one-third of that. Take away giving the government half of that. So the idea that because I was paid any amount of money, and now I'm whole, is preposterous, because now I'm left without a job and without any income.
"My agreement first of all was not, 'you were harmed, therefore we're going to pay you.' It is, 'you were harmed, therefore we're going to pay you, and you can't ever talk about us or the incident again.' That's not what I wanted money for. In fact, I didn't want money. There were times that I, during this whole experience, that I just wanted to sue Fox for one penny. ... The lawyers wouldn't take my case.
"I said, No. 1, I only wanted to sue Fox out of principle for one cent, and No. 2, I didn't even want to name the man who did this to me in the lawsuit because it wasn't about him. What lawyer's going to take a case for one penny? And they thought, you know maybe, I was lying."
"The idea that because I was paid any amount of money, and now I'm whole, is preposterous, because now I'm left without a job and without any income."
Tamara HolderOn the nature of the incident
"I had something criminal happen to me. I had a man pull out his penis in his office and shove my head on it. I went into his office to talk about opportunities to work. This was my first time in his office. I had no history with him. We met in the cafeteria and had coffee and discussed opportunities. I started to write for Fox News Latino about sports. So it is important for people to understand '-- and sexual harassment is a serious thing, and I feel bad for people who are also just harassed at work. But for me it was something criminal. I begged my attorney to allow me to go to the police, and she said, 'After we get the money, you can go,' because she wanted to take her money and run. So my adviser told me not to go. And No. 2, my background is in criminal defense and pardons. I know this man has family and has children, and as criminal and as awful as this was I thought, 'I can do this on my own. I'll be OK. I'm going to do all of the work to rehabilitate myself. And I don't want this guy to go to prison.' "
On what she would like to see happen
"I'm not complaining about even what happened to me, sexual harassment. Women are always OK. What we fought for was a right to vote and a right to work. And all we want to do is work. You can spend your time flirting with us and making stupid jokes and even grabbing us. Obviously it's wrong. I'm not condoning that. But my point is that we have put up with this since the beginning of time, and we show up, and all I wanted to do was go to work. Salma Hayek, her article in The New York Times, her op-ed about Harvey Weinstein, isn't about what he did to her. It's that he affected her ability to make a movie. I showed up to work that day because I wanted to work. I walked into his office because I wanted to work. And I went back to my desk after he did this to me because I wanted to work.
"As we're firing Roger Ailes and Bill O'Reilly and Matt Lauer and Russell Simmons '-- these are men that we are putting on the front page, and we're talking about their names. The women behind these men are sitting at home today. And the emails that I have received are just stunning and heartbreaking. Hospitals, railroads, corporate America, union jobs, teachers, other women in TV, other women in radio '-- we don't care about bringing men down. We care about keeping our jobs."
This segment aired on December 19, 2017.
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VIDEO - Clapper: Russia treating Trump like an asset - CNN Video
Tue, 19 Dec 2017 22:23
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Putin","videoCMSUrl":"/video/data/3.0/video/politics/2017/07/07/trump-putin-g20-meeting-video.cnn/index.xml","videoId":"politics/2017/07/07/trump-putin-g20-meeting-video.cnn","videoUrl":"/videos/politics/2017/07/07/trump-putin-g20-meeting-video.cnn/video/playlists/presidents-donald-trump-and-vladimir-putin/"},{"descriptionPlainText":"Russian President Vladimir Putin states that US-Russian relations are worse under the administration of President Donald Trump. CNN's Matthew Chance reports.","imageUrl":"//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/161208125115-putin-large-169.jpg","title":"Putin: US-Russia ties worse under Trump","videoCMSUrl":"/video/data/3.0/video/politics/2017/04/12/putin-trump-russia-us-relations-worse.cnn/index.xml","videoId":"politics/2017/04/12/putin-trump-russia-us-relations-worse.cnn","videoUrl":"/videos/politics/2017/04/12/putin-trump-russia-us-relations-worse.cnn/video/playlists/presidents-donald-trump-and-vladimir-putin/"},{"descriptionPlainText":"President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet after Trump included harsh rhetoric toward Russia in a speech and Putin criticized US policy in a German newspaper. 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VIDEO - Older Adults' Forgetfulness Tied To Faulty Brain Rhythms In Sleep : Shots - Health News : NPR
Tue, 19 Dec 2017 11:14
Older Adults' Forgetfulness Tied To Faulty Brain Rhythms In Sleep : Shots - Health News : NPROlder Adults' Forgetfulness Tied To Faulty Brain Rhythms In Sleep : Shots - Health NewsAs people get older, brain waves that occur during deep sleep become less synchronized. This appears to disrupt a system that saves new memories.
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VIDEO - Franken urged to reverse his resignation - POLITICO
Tue, 19 Dec 2017 09:41
At least four senators are urging Al Franken to reconsider resigning, including two who issued statements calling for the resignation two weeks ago and said they now feel remorse over what they feel was a rush to judgment.
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), who urged Franken not to step down to begin with '-- at least not before he went through an Ethics Committee investigation '-- said the Minnesota senator was railroaded by fellow Democrats.
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''What they did to Al was atrocious, the Democrats,'' said West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin in an interview for POLITICO's Off Message podcast to post on Tuesday. Subscribe here.
Franken's unusual timeline '-- in his departure announcement he said he'd go ''in the coming weeks,'' without setting a date '-- has fed the fleeting hopes that there's still time to reverse course. However, Tina Smith, Minnesota's Democratic lieutenant governor, was named last week as his appointed successor.
People familiar with Franken's plans said he has not changed his mind and intends to formally resign in early January. He praised the selection of Smith and has begun working with her on the transition.
Manchin was among the few Democrats who did not call for Franken's resignation. The West Virginia senator stressed that he believes it would be appropriate for Franken to step down if the allegations are proved true.
Manchin ripped into the members who issued statements insisting that Franken resign '-- only to gather on the Senate floor the next day to watch him announce he was doing just that.
''The most hypocritical thing I've ever seen done to a human being '-- and then have enough guts to sit on the floor, watch him give his speech and go over and hug him? That's hypocrisy at the highest level I've ever seen in my life. Made me sick,'' Manchin said.
He added, ''Here's a man, that all he said [was], 'Take me through the Ethics Committee. I will live by whatever decision and I will walk away thinking about this opportunity I've had while I was here. But you find out if I'm a predator.'''
Manchin said he hopes Franken reverses his decision, but even more that the senators who led the charge against him reconsider and call for the two-term senator to stay until the ethics process is complete.
''I hope they have enough guts ... and enough conscience and enough heart to say, 'Al, we made a mistake asking prematurely for you to leave.'''
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), who issued a statement calling for Franken's resignation, has since told him privately that he regrets doing so, according to two people familiar with the conversation. Leahy declined to comment.
''I think we acted prematurely, before we had all the facts,'' said a third senator who has also called for the resignation, and has since expressed regret directly to Franken. ''In retrospect, I think we acted too fast.'' The senator asked not to be named because of the political sensitivity of the issue among Democrats.
Two of the senators who issued resignation calls told POLITICO they felt rushed to weigh in, as they were focused on hearings and other meetings and pressure on Franken mounted. In retrospect they said they signed off on statements without the appropriate care and thought.
The feeling is not pervasive throughout the conference. Aides to several Democratic senators who called for Franken to step down, despite their conflicted feelings about doing so, said they remain comfortable with the move.
That includes Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand. The New York Democrat helped lead the charge against Franken the day that POLITICO published the account of a former Democratic congressional aide who said the former comedian tried to forcibly kiss her after the taping of a radio show in 2006.
Gillibrand has said that sending a clear message of zero tolerance is important, and that she was worried that the Ethics Committee process was being used as a shield.
''She has said, 'He was entitled to a process, but he was not entitled to my silence,''' said one person who has spoken to Gillibrand about the decision.
Franken's office declined to comment. The senator has been spending time with his colleagues as he comes to terms with leaving. He made a surprise appearance last Tuesday night at the Bible study group of Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.). Franken had never attended before but joined at the urging of a colleague who suggested it might help him.
Lankford continues to believe and say that he thinks Franken should have gone through the Ethics Committee process. A spokesman for Lankford declined to comment but pointed to the senator's previous comments urging that the ethics process proceed.
The feeling that Franken should reconsider has gained some steam outside of the Senate, too, among Democratic donors and others, including a former Republican governor of Minnesota, Arne Carlson.
''I and many other people '-- and specifically feminists '-- feel that it's not too late, that he should not resign, and that the rush to sweep him out was ill-conceived, and we think that he has been supportive of women and women's issues,'' said Emily Jane Goodman, a retired New York state Supreme Court judge who's helped start a Feminists for Franken group on Facebook. ''Although we do deplore any kind of gender-based misconduct, we think at the same time he is entitled to a fair hearing.''
The group directly counters Gillibrand's statement that there should be no gradations made in assessing problematic sexual conduct: ''We believe it is crucial to make distinctions and to respond proportionally,'' the group's mission statement reads.
Manchin said he still holds out hope people will come around and call for Franken to go through the ethics process.
''That's the human and decent thing to do. If they have any decency in them, they'd do that,'' Manchin said in the podcast interview. ''Every one of them that signed for him to go out '--including Chuck Schumer '-- should do that.''
The minority leader, who has a close personal relationship with Franken and struggled with his decision to call for the resignation, isn't changing his mind.
''Schumer and the vast majority of the caucus like Sen. Franken and will miss him,'' said a Senate Democratic leadership aide, ''but did what they felt was best and stand by it."
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