China Accuses NSA Of Hacking Into Government-Funded University

China Accuses NSA Of Hacking Into Government-Funded University Three months after US security agencies warned that Chinese-backed hackers had been targeting "major telecommunications companies and network service providers" for over two years, Chinese state media on Thursday accused the National Security Agency (NSA) of infiltrating a government-funded university and gaining access to 'China's telecommunications network,' CNBC reports. Citing an unnamed source, the Global Times accused the NSA of phishing - a hacking technique which uses malicious links or other methods to trick users into providing access credentials - to gain access to Northwestern Polytechnical University, where they allegedly stole "core technology data including key network equipment configuration, network management data, and core operational data," along with other files. The report goes on to claim that the NSA infiltrated Chinese telecom operators in an effort to "control the country's infrastructure." The Global Times, citing its unnamed source, reported that more details about the attack on Northwestern Polytechnical University will be released soon. For several years, China has accused the U.S. of cyberattacks but has not been specific. However, in the last few weeks, Beijing has been more vocal in attributing particular attacks to the U.S., in a ramping up of tensions between the two nations in the cyber sphere. -CNBC The alleged attack was discovered by China's National Computer Virus Emergency Response Center several weeks ago, which also accused the US of engaging in "tens of thousands" of cyberattacks on Chinese targets. Conversely, the US has accused China of massive hacking operations - with FBI Director Christopher Wray claiming in February that Beijing's cyberattacks have become "more brazen, more damaging, than ever before," in their attempts to steal US information and technology. In June, US security agencies warned that Chinese-backed hackers were targeting "major telecommunications companies and network service providers" since 2020. In a June 7 cybersecurity advisory, they urged those affected to take immediate remedial action. The advisory, coauthored by the National Security Agency (NSA), the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), said the hackers “continue to exploit publicly known vulnerabilities,” using tactics to bypass defenses and keeping themselves undetected. The agencies pointed out that the hackers allegedly utilized open-source tools, such as RouterSploit and RouterScan, and known software flaws in networking devices such as routers. “[T]hese devices are often overlooked by cyber defenders, who struggle to maintain and keep pace with routine software patching of Internet-facing services and endpoint devices,” noted the agencies. The agencies did not identify the victim companies in the advisory, but they included a list of the common vulnerabilities and exposures (CVEs) most frequently exploited by the Chinese regime’s hackers since 2020, together with vulnerability types and the major vendors—Cisco, Citrix, D-Link, Fortinet, and Netgear. They urged potential victims to shore up their networks by applying immediate patches, updating infrastructure, and disabling unnecessary ports and protocols. Tyler Durden Thu, 09/22/2022 - 21:20.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeSep 22nd, 2022

The Dystopian Vision Of The Health-Information Police

The Dystopian Vision Of The Health-Information Police Authored by Laura Powell via The Brownstone Institute, When Assemblymember Evan Low, the principal author of California Assembly Bill 2098, told the California Senate Committee that his bill was “really straightforward, very straightforward,” many of us in the gallery failed to restrain ourselves from expressing our incredulity.  He delivered this statement at the conclusion of a hearing that had lasted over an hour, during which it seemed no two Senators on the committee had the same idea of how the law would operate. Assemblymember Low had struggled to respond to questions from the committee and had often resorted to simply reading the text of the bill. That June 26 hearing presented the only time any legislators questioned the bill during its entire passage through the legislative process. Assembly Bill 2098 would empower the Medical Board of California to go after the licenses of physicians who disseminate “misinformation” or “disinformation” regarding Covid-19. The bill in its latest iteration defines misinformation as “false information that is contradicted by contemporary scientific consensus contrary to the standard of care.” The inscrutability of this definition lies at the core of the bill’s opponents concerns.  No clear scientific consensus exists with respect to this novel virus, and even if it did, it may be proven incorrect later. Without clear guidance regarding what would constitute “misinformation,” physicians can only guess if they risk losing their licenses for expressing their good-faith disagreements with positions of public health officials. Even if in practice, the Medical Board only applied the law to speech that the First Amendment does not protect, the law’s vagueness would render it unconstitutional, because it would tend to cause doctors to censor themselves. The million-dollar question remains unanswered: Who would be targeted by Assembly Bill 2098? On one hand, the California Medical Association, the bill’s sponsor, cites the example of doctors who call “into question public health efforts such as masking” as creating the need for this bill. Likewise, the taxpayer-funded lobbying group County Health Executives Association of California decries “a small minority of medical professionals” who have led some Californians to “reject public health measures such as masking and physical distancing.”  The analysis of the bill from the Senate committee, in discussing the need for this bill, cited the example of the state of Florida refusing to take action against the license of Florida Surgeon General for, among other things, “question[ing] the value of face masks in preventing the spread of the pandemic.” The idea that the effectiveness of masks in preventing the spread of Covid is part of the “contemporary scientific consensus” confirms physicians’ fears that they would risk discipline for questioning any edict from public health on Covid. On the other hand, when critics of Assembly Bill 2098 argue that questioning the effectiveness of masks falls well within the bounds of legitimate difference of opinions, proponents poo-poo their concerns about the law being applied in an overly broad way and insist that the law would only be used against truly “bad doctors.” But imbuing bureaucrats with power while trusting they will not exercise it would be incredibly foolish.  Some, such as Assemblymember Low, bill co-author Assemblymember Akilah Weber, and a representative of the California Medical Association, imply that this bill would only apply in cases of intentional harm. There is nothing in the letter of the law that limits the bill’s reach to situations where someone was harmed or where the information was disseminated knowing it was false. (Intentionally misleading would fall under the definition of “disinformation” as opposed to “misinformation.” An earlier draft of the bill mentioned harm to a patient as a factor for the Medical Board to consider.)  Members of the Medical Board of California itself have expressed confusion about how the law would be applied and withheld its support initially. MBC President Kristina Lawson, an attorney who has been a driving force behind this bill, claims to have clarity about how it would be applied but apparently is only willing to discuss the matter in private.  While most proponents say as little as possible regarding Assembly Bill 2098’s implications, one group is more vocal and less guarded in its statements. Two self-described “frontline” California doctors, Nick Sawyer and Taylor Nichols, formed No License for Disinformation (NLFD) in September 2021.  As its name suggests, the organization’s purpose is to promote policies that use the threat of medical license revocation to discourage doctors from spreading information it believes to be false. Sawyer has twice testified before legislative committees in favor of Assembly Bill 2098. NLFD’s prolific tweets and other public statements paint a dystopian picture that reflects opponents’ worst fears of the type of authoritarian regime proponents wish to impose.  NLFD pushes the idea that there is, as Sawyer described it his testimony before the Assembly committee on April 19, a “well-coordinated and well-funded network of doctors” who promote “anti-vaccine conspiracy theories, sow distrust in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the federal government, and ultimately the Covid-19 vaccines.”  At the outset, note the irony that NLFD frequently criticizes “conspiracy theorists” while promoting its own conspiracy theories. And NLFD not only wants to silence those who undermine faith in public health measures, but anyone who “sows distrust” in the government. Let that sink in. NLFD’s tweets elaborate on its conspiracy theories, which are, like most conspiracy theories, built on weak evidence that magnify tenuous connections. A recent tweet shared a long thread posted by one of its founders that purports to uncover a web of right-wing “disinformation” purveyors funded by oil money. It implicates, among others, anyone associated with the Great Barrington Declaration or Brownstone Institute and specifically names UCSF professor and doctor Vinay Prasad, journalist and author David Zweig, and Johns Hopkins epidemiologist Stefan Baral as part of this cabal.  An August 13, 2022 tweet promotes a Substack article, written by NLFD “Research Consultant” Allison Neitzel, which calls America’s Frontline Physicians, Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance, the authors of the Great Barrington Declaration, and The Unity Project the “Big 4” responsible for a “physician-led attack on public health.” NLFD has often identified these four as its primary targets, sometimes adding the American Association of Physicians and Surgeons and Urgency of Normal to its hit list. NLFD asserts, without any basis, that these groups work together.  Some of NLFD’s targets, such as the Urgency of Normal’s leadership, are mainstream physicians. NLFD dismisses them as ranging from “formerly well respected immunologists to outright frauds.” It links to a long thread from one of its founders that accuses Urgency of Normal of being part of a right-wing operation to promote an “anti-mask narrative.”  It complains that CNN gave Dr. Jeanne Noble, Associate Professor at UCSF, a platform. It retweeted a tweet calling for Dr. Lucy McBride to be reported to the medical board for opposing mask mandates in schools and responded with a link directing the public on how to do so. It dismissed every doctor who participated in a roundtable hosted by Florida Governor DeSantis, which included Dr. Tracy Høeg, as “Covid deniers” and “disinformation doctors” and warned that no one should accept medical advice from any of them. These attacks contradict any claim that NLFD claims only wants to silence doctors who peddle dangerously false medical advice rather than those who have good-faith disagreements with official Covid policy. The inclusion of the authors of the Great Barrington Declaration—Sunetra Gupta, Martin Kulldorff, and Jay Bhattacharya—at the top of NLFD’s hit list is puzzling. Not only does the declaration espouse a conventional viewpoint, none of the Great Barrington Declaration’s authors is a practicing physician and therefore law like Assembly Bill 2098 would not affect them.  NLFD has called out the Great Barrington Declaration around a dozen times and frequently targets Stanford professor Bhattacharya in particular (he earned a medical degree but does not practice medicine or hold a medical license). NLFD doesn’t just accuse Bhattacharya of being wrong, it accuses him of intentionally lying, calling him a “disinformation doctor” and a “prominent purveyor of Covid-19 disinformation,” accusing him of telling lies that have killed people (along with Vinay Prasad), and insinuating he should be reported for perjury. In addition to its direct attacks, NLFD has retweeted dozens of criticisms of Bhattacharya and seemed to delight in a journalist getting Twitter to temporarily suspend his account for a minor oversight. NLFD’s messaging has an unquestionably partisan slant, despite claiming to be nonpartisan. It has posted dozens of tweets critical of the Republican Party. Some of these criticisms do not clearly relate to the organization’s mission of combating misinformation.  For example, this August 8, 2022 thread attacks Republican lawmakers for opposing a drug pricing control provision in a bill. The same day, another tweet alleges that the GOP Doctors Caucus is allied with “Pharma Bro” Martin Shkreli. They attempt to tie this issue in with their mission by asserting that Republicans in general are “affiliated with licensed physicians” spreading Covid misinformation.  In another recent example, NLFD posted a clip from 2017 accusing Rand Paul of being in cahoots with Putin. It had previously suggested that Paul should be reported to the medical board for reasons it doesn’t identify. NLFD has even branched out to opine on political issues totally unrelated to the practice of medicine, encouraging the public to report “harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence” against school board members or staff to the FBI. NLFD has numerous posts elaborating on its idea of a right-wing, Republican-led conspiracy to spread disinformation. It uses the phrase “disinformation pipeline” to describe an alleged process by which Republicans in state legislatures deliberately harm public health by “institutionalizing disinformation” through, for example, passing laws that shield doctors from discipline for controversial Covid treatments. It claims that the overall Republican agenda is to “create fear/animosity/victimhood amongst supporters, whipping up anti-science/anti-government sentiment making them more likely to take up arms against the government.” It has asserted that “[a]ll COVID disinformation doctors are inextricably tied to Trump.”  Many of NLFD’s conspiracy theories are quite dark and disturbing. It recently retweeted a thread from its own Nick Sawyer, which argues that the United States is currently in the midst of a civil war, which goes unrecognized because it is an information war. Another recent tweet exhorts: “This is an information war, a battle for the truth, and [every] American is a soldier. Get up to speed and start fighting for evidence based reality. No one is going to do this for us.”  NLFD’s primary weapon in this imagined information war is censorship, but it also advocates for criminal prosecution for expressing the wrong ideas. It frequently encourages its followers to report physicians to their medical boards, even if they have no relationship with them. It also frequently calls on Twitter to deplatform accounts it feels say things that are untrue. But it goes even further, tagging the FBI and posting a link to the FBI tip line, asking its followers to report people for alleged misinformation.  It tags the United States Department of Justice’s Criminal Division in its tweets. It calls its targets a “threat to national security.” NLFD erroneously claims that under current California law, a physician can be criminally prosecuted for any untrue statement. NLFD wants to go far beyond having medical boards discipline licensed physicians—they want to see their enemies in jail. Against this backdrop of NLFD’s other public statements, it’s hard to imagine how Sawyer managed to sound sincere when he told the Senate committee: “This bill is not supposed to cause problems with physicians’ free speech around academic discussion. This bill will allow the medical board to discipline doctors who say things like the vaccines cause AIDS or that the vaccines are killing more patients than Covid, using manipulated data or that the vaccines are implanting microchips so the government can track you. I’m all for academic debate—in fact, we wouldn’t be where we are today without robust academic debate, but that’s not what this is about.” Make no mistake—Assembly Bill 2098 is not just about protecting patient safety. That is why one member of the Medical Board of California warned that the bill would be counterproductive to the Board’s mission. Assembly Bill 2098 was not the brainchild of Assemblymember Low or any other California lawmakers. It’s part of an effort to enact similar policies around the country, sparked in large part by a declaration from the Federation of State Medical Boards in July 2021.  California is often described as a bellwether: “As California goes, so goes the nation.” That saying rings especially true with respect to Assembly Bill 2098, given that this is a test case for a national movement and that Governor Gavin Newsom has obvious presidential aspirations.  The bill will become law on January 1 unless the governor vetoes by September 30, and even then, the Democrats who voted for the bill have sufficient numbers to override a veto. Then we will discover whether our high courts still uphold the principle of free speech or whether they will allow themselves to be co-opted by the soldiers fighting to be the arbiters of Truth. Tyler Durden Mon, 09/26/2022 - 22:20.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeSep 27th, 2022

How Salt Lake City is closing the digital divide, supporting entrepreneurship, and tackling climate change as it experiences fast growth

Salt Lake City has several initiatives to modernize the town. "Our traditional service models need to evolve," its chief innovation officer said. Kazi Awal/InsiderThe Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute.Courtesy of Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute Salt Lake City is growing rapidly. Now city officials are using innovations to control the impact. New initiatives include creating a digital-inclusion plan and combating climate change in the state. The University of Utah's Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute is also working to fund local projects.  This article is part of a series focused on American cities building a better tomorrow called "Advancing Cities." Since taking office in 2020, Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall has debuted several initiatives, including streamlining the city's business operations, creating a digital-inclusion blueprint, and starting to tackle the effects of climate change. Her goal is to create a "culture of innovation" in the city. "We're really leaning on the concept of change management," Nole Walkingshaw, the city's chief innovation officer, told Insider. "We're recognizing the elements that are required to change. We're clearly identifying our goals and objectives and building a plan around those." Salt Lake City and the state of Utah have been growing rapidly. Walkingshaw said innovation is needed to balance the impact of that growth and create equal opportunities for residents. "This transformation requires us to step up our ability to serve the community. Our traditional service models need to evolve," he said. Here's a look at the ways Salt Lake City is investing in innovation and digital transformation to meet the challenges of the future.Streamlining the city's financial systemSalt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall.George Frey/Getty ImagesLast year, the mayor created the Innovation Team, composed of four people led by Walkingshaw, to modernize Salt Lake City's financial, payroll, and human-resources systems and improve transparency into how the city operates financially.The team started by revamping the city's financial system, which had been in use since the early 1990s. Dozens of different software systems were also being used across city departments, which caused disorganization in how financial transactions were recorded. "It was a pain point," Walkingshaw said. The Innovation Team restructured the city's chart of accounts, which is a list of accounts for recording financial transactions, and implemented the software Workday to replace multiple programs and combine everything in one place. Upgrading the financial system will help Salt Lake City transition toward project-based accounting and budgeting, which Walkingshaw said is a priority. This approach will help city leaders better understand how much they're spending on programs, such as infrastructure or community services, and use data to allocate funding. "I'm excited to see what the outcome will be over time," Walkingshaw said.Collaborating on climate-change solutionsInside the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute.Courtesy of Lassonde Entrepreneur InstituteThe Utah Climate Action Network was founded in 2016 as a partnership between the city of Salt Lake City, the University of Utah, the business community, faith organizations, and nonprofits to collaborate on mitigating the effects of climate change. The network is facilitated by the nonprofit Utah Clean Energy, a nonprofit working to advance clean energy and climate solutions in the state. "Part of our job is to be the network leader and bring together folks who are working in climate-related disciplines," Josh Craft, the organization's government and corporate relations manager, told Insider. The Utah Climate Action Network ensures communities like Salt Lake City coordinate with cities and towns in Utah, along with nonprofits, businesses, and universities, to achieve their climate goals. It hosts quarterly meetings for groups working on climate initiatives, like increasing electric-vehicle usage and improving air quality, to discuss ideas and find ways to join forces. The network also holds Utah Climate Week, a series of events held annually around the state. The event brings together local governments, nonprofits, and other groups to discuss their climate projects. Climate Week is also an opportunity to connect with the public and share climate solutions, Craft said. "We've built trust and understanding of where you can go to get answers and start to address the challenges of climate change," Craft said. "The main value is bringing people together to build expertise around this very challenging, multidecade problem."Fostering entrepreneurshipA group of University of Utah students celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute.Courtesy of Lassonde Entrepreneur InstituteSalt Lake City ranks among the best cities to start a business. But that wasn't always the case. "Twenty years ago, we had a really nascent startup community in Utah," Troy D'Ambrosio, the executive director of the University of Utah's Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute, told Insider. "We had to start building the infrastructure." The institute, which is part of the university's David Eccles School of Business, celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2021 and is ranked as one of the top 10 entrepreneurship schools in the nation by US News and World Report. To support entrepreneurship and innovation, the institute offers programs to high-school students, undergraduates, and graduate students. Its Lassonde Studios is an on-campus residential community and innovation facility that provides resources, like laser cutters and 3D printers, to help students create and launch ideas. It also hosts the High School Utah Entrepreneur Challenge, where Utah high school students can win prize money and scholarships for their ideas.Since its founding, the institute has helped students launch more than 2,700 startups in many different sectors, including transportation, technology, and healthcare. It's also helped startups raise more than $700 million in funding.Expanding support for entrepreneurs outside UtahTroy D'Ambrosio, the executive director of the University of Utah's Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute.Courtesy of Lassonde Entrepreneur InstituteThe Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute is broadening its reach beyond its Salt Lake City campus. This fall, it launched Lassonde for Life, a new program for any University of Utah alumni looking to start or grow their business. The program is free and offered online, so alumni can participate from anywhere and learn about topics such as prototyping, market research, and e-commerce. It also pairs graduates of the university who are successful entrepreneurs with alumni who want to launch a startup. "It's a service to our alumni," D'Ambrosio said. "If at any point in your career you decide you want to explore being an entrepreneur, we can help you." The business school is also expanding its Master of Business Creation online in January 2023. The part-time program is open to students around the world who may not be able to move to Salt Lake City, D'Ambrosio said. Curricula will focus on helping participants launch startups, access funding, and receive coaching.Driving digital inclusion and equityThe outside of the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute.Courtesy of Lassonde Entrepreneur InstituteOne of the public-facing projects that the Innovation Team is working on is increasing digital equity and inclusion. Salt Lake City was recently named a 2022 Digital Inclusion Trailblazer by the National Digital Inclusion Alliance. Cities are judged on various criteria, including efforts to increase the affordability of home broadband services, funded digital-inclusion programming, and a digital-inclusion plan. Walkingshaw said digital inclusion is a "passion project" for the team and is central to community resilience and modernizing the city. Salt Lake City adopted a Digital Equity Policy in 2020 to increase access to affordable broadband internet and reliable devices. The city's City Connect initiative offers public WiFi hotspots in community centers and parks, and Walkingshaw said his team is working on a laptop donation program that will provide surplus city computers to residents receiving services from the city's youth and family programs and to community partners that work with vulnerable groups.Surveying residents about city prioritiesTwo people talking at the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute.Courtesy of Lassonde Entrepreneur InstituteTo learn about residents' needs and the issues they care most about, the Innovation Team conducts resident surveys every other year. The surveys ask people to share their opinions about city services, their neighborhoods, and the local job market. The next survey is in 2023. The team plans to put more focus on residents' ideas about how to  spend the city's budget, Walkingshaw said. This fall, the team will host budget panels to give residents a venue to discuss fire- and police-department funding and affordable housing, among other budget issues.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytSep 21st, 2022

Fraudsters used a fake-name generating website to steal $250 million meant for hungry children, Justice Department alleges

The US Department of Justice alleged that the $250 million fraud scheme in Minnesota was the largest uncovered during the COVID-19 pandemic. Children eat breakfast at the federally-funded Head Start Program school on September 20, 2012 in Woodbourne, New York.John Moore/Getty Images The DOJ charged 47 people with participating in a scheme to defraud the government. Prosecutors alleged the fraudsters used a fake-name-generating site to steal $250M meant for kids. Proceeds were used to buy property in Kenya and Turkey, the US claims. Using a website that generated fake names and exploiting relaxed oversight at the start of the pandemic, fraudsters in Minnesota stole roughly $250 million from a federal program meant to feed hungry children and used the proceeds to buy property in Kenya and Turkey, the US Department of Justice alleged Tuesday."This was a brazen scheme of staggering proportions," US Attorney Andrew M. Luger said in a statement announcing the indictments of 47 people on charges of conspiracy, wire fraud, money laundering, and bribery. If proven, the scheme would amount to the largest fraud uncovered since the advent of COVID-19.According to prosecutors, the accused exploited the federal Child Nutrition Program, which provides free or low-cost meals to impoverished children. Typically distributed at schools, during the pandemic the federal government permitted meals to be served at off-site locations, including restaurants.With the help of employees at a Minnesota nonprofit, Feeding Our Future, the Justice Department claimed, the accused conspirators submitted false invoices and rosters — listing fake names, generated by the website "," for children who did not exist — and pocketed money for meals that were never served. Feeding Our Future, in turn, collected $18 million in administrative fees for disbursing that money, according to the indictment.Launched by founder Aimee Bock in 2016, per her LinkedIn, Feeding Our Future rapidly expanded during the pandemic. In 2019, it dispersed $3.4 million in federal aid, according to prosecutors, rising to nearly $200 million in 2021.In addition to benefitting from administrative fees, prosecutors have accused Bock and employees at her organization of operating a "pay-to-play scheme," per an indictment obtained by The New York Times, "in which individuals seeking to operate fraudulent sites under the sponsorship of Feeding Our Future had to kick back a portion of their fraudulent proceeds."Those involved in the scheme, prosecutors claim, spent proceeds on travel, luxury vehicles, and property in Minnesota, Ohio, and Kentucky — as well as real estate in Turkey and Kenya.A search warrant, executed in January, accused Bock of accepting a $310,000 payment from one client, Sahan Journal reported. Bock, in turn, accused a former friend and business partner, without evidence, of hacking into her bank account and reporting the payment to law enforcement.Federal authorities, meanwhile, allege that Bock and her organization falsely claimed to be monitoring the fake distribution sites central to the scheme."Today's indictments describe an egregious plot to steal public funds meant to care for children in need in what amounts to the largest pandemic relief fraud scheme yet," FBI Director Christopher Wray said in a statement on Tuesday.Bock has proclaimed her innocence, telling The Times earlier this year following federal raids that it was "possible" fraud had taken place but that strong checks were in place. "And if they got one over on us," she said at the time, "I will hold them accountable. A lawyer for Bock did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A call to the number listed on the website for Feeding Our Future — which Bock said would "dissolve" following the federal raids earlier this year — was picked up by a person who identified themselves as "James." Asked for comment on the federal indictment, they instead offered an Insider reporter a "$100 rebate" and asked for their home address before hanging up the phone.Have a news tip? Email this reporter: cdavis@insider.comRead the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderSep 20th, 2022

It Was Politics That Drove "The Science"

It Was Politics That Drove 'The Science' Authored by Steve Templeton via The Brownstone Institute, Republished from the author’s Substack The science doesn't drive health policy. The policy drives the science... Most academic scientists spend a lot of time writing grants that have very little chance of being funded. Because the funding environment is so competitive, many scientists feel pressure to emphasize the most positive, sensational results they can produce. Some academic scientists take this too far, by ignoring conflicting results or even fabricating data. Research fraud that goes unreported can upset decades of research, which happened recently in the field of Alzheimer’s research. What happens if you take away scientific competition? There is indeed a way to do this, and that’s by working in a government agency. Being a government scientist is not a bad deal for a lot of people. The pay is good, the job is secure, and the expectations aren’t high. Securing funding is pretty easy and completely backwards from academia—you often get the funding first and justify it with a “grant” later. The perceived impact of your publications doesn’t matter, any journal is sufficient. In the case of my position at CDC-NIOSH, mechanistic science wasn’t encouraged. Instead, there was a lot of emphasis on toxicology, which simply involves exposing an animal or tissue to a compound or microbe and determining if there is an adverse effect. If there was, taking further steps to determine why there was an adverse effect wasn’t necessary. It was a simple exposure, assess, report, rinse and repeat process. I wasn’t in my government post-doc position long before I realized that government work wasn’t my calling. It’s not that it wasn’t challenging, it was just challenging in the wrong way. Government scientists often spend more of their time fighting government bureaucracy than scientific problems. In such a red tape-clogged system, self-motivated people eventually get discouraged, while unmotivated people get to coast. There were many examples of bureaucratic dysfunction and waste. In one department, staff members came across a storage room filled with brand new boxes of obsolete computers that had never been opened. No one seemed to know how they got there. Similarly, it wasn’t a rare occurrence to encounter large stores of expensive reagents in a freezer or storage room that had expired without being opened. These examples were simply a function of shifting funding and priorities. Congress would periodically throw money at the agency so everyone could claim they were doing something about a highly visible health problem. If you didn’t spend it, it went away. In another instance, government officials decided they needed an online travel booking program for employees similar to Orbitz for Business. The result was underwhelming–millions of dollars and years later, there were still serious problems with it that resulted in travel delays. Everyone complained about having to use it. They could’ve just used Orbitz for Business, if only it had been allowed.  At one point, traveling to a foreign country to give a research seminar required giving notice one year in advance. This included the title of the talk. Who knows what they are going to talk about one year in advance? One of my favorite horror stories about government bureaucracy was about a CDC employee who got fired accidentally by an unnamed bureaucrat. He didn’t even realize he had been fired until one day his paycheck wasn’t deposited and his security badge stopped working. It took months to get him rehired. The great irony of that story is that it’s nearly impossible to fire someone intentionally. I’m not sure how anyone could do it accidentally. But apparently, it happened. At the CDC branch where I worked, we had a histology core run by a technician who didn’t like his job, and knew he couldn’t get fired. I would send tissue samples and they’d take months to get processed and stained. When I did get them back, there were some curious things about the slides I would notice. Some of the different samples would appear identical on the cut slides. The histology tech was just cutting the same block over and over to make slides and labeling them differently. When I brought up this behavior to my boss, it didn’t surprise him. He told me that the guy was bitter and intended to metaphorically give us all a big middle finger, and there was no way we could stop him. We ended up contracting the nearby university core to do the same work. Meanwhile, worthless histology tech continued to get paid for doing even less.  Once, a CDC pathologist tried to report him for “destruction of government property.” She was one of those self-motivated people who took her job seriously and could be relied upon by others, and at the same time was naïve enough to expect the same. What happened when she raised a stink about lazy histology tech guy? She was reprimanded and labeled a “troublemaker.” Probably because the bureaucrats recognized that her attempt at whistleblowing would just create work for them, and would not actually result in any meaningful change. Once I got reprimanded by my boss for a reason that I cannot clearly recall. Much like the honorable yet naive pathologist, I was calling BS on something and thus not endearing myself to the front office. Although I can’t recall much of the dressing down I received, one thing he said stuck with me: “You can’t change the system from outside the system,.” He meant it was pointless for someone in my lowly contract position to fight anything, it would do nothing and only hurt me and annoy everyone else. Later, I realized that something he didn’t mention was also true–it’s impossible to advance within the system by promising to change it. If you wanted to advance within the CDC or another government agency, you have to demonstrate your dedication to the status quo. That powerful incentive ensures the system is preserved, with perverse incentives fully intact. This dynamic was painfully obvious as I watched the government pandemic response unfold. At the beginning, when uncertainty was the greatest, many leaders seemed reasonable and cautioned against panic, because they knew there was a potential for severe collateral damage. Once more particulars about the virus were known, especially the steep age-stratified risk of severe disease, competing political interests emerged, and as a result messaging and decision-making became distorted.  In normal times, large bureaucratic health agencies driven by political interests do not directly affect the daily lives of most Americans. During a natural disaster, however, these agencies will continue to be driven by politics, not public health, because they are not capable of adapting to a crisis. That’s when the cracks begin to show, and everyone is affected. A prime example is the CDC’s flagship journal Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). According to the CDC, MMWR exists “…to report events of public health interest and importance to CDC’s major constituents—state and local health departments—and as quickly as possible”, and to distribute “… objective scientific information, albeit often preliminary, to the public at large”. The key word here is “objective”, which is apparently used unironically. Here are MMWR editors describing how they determine what content is suitable for publication: Several other differences [between the MMWR and medical journals] exist. A major one is that, unlike medical journals (with a few exceptions, i.e., certain special supplements such as this one), the content published in MMWR constitutes the official voice of its parent, CDC. One sign of this is the absence in MMWR of any official disclaimers. Although most articles that appear in MMWR are not “peer-reviewed” in the way that submissions to medical journals are, to ensure that the content of MMWR comports with CDC policy, every submission to MMWR undergoes a rigorous multilevel clearance process before publication. This includes review by the CDC Director or designate, top scientific directors at all CDC organizational levels, and an exacting review by MMWR editors. Articles submitted to MMWR from non-CDC authors undergo the same kind of review by subject-matter experts within CDC. By the time a report appears in MMWR, it reflects, or is consistent with, CDC policy. Did you catch all that? There is nothing “objective” about how the CDC determines what is published in their flagship journal. They choose to publish only results that support their policy, and are completely open about it. This is backwards from how health policy should be determined. Science should drive policy recommendations, yet at the CDC, the policy recommendations drive the science.  Once this fact is acknowledged, much of the more controversial “studies” published in MMWR begin to make complete sense. For example, many mask studies claiming significant universal or school masking efficacy published by the CDC (some that I have previously discussed) were poorly designed and executed and easily debunked by outside observers. That’s because the “rigorous multilevel clearance process” involved no concern with the actual methodology of those studies. There was simply a set of predetermined conclusions from CDC directors in search of supporting data. Nothing objective about it. Politically driven science at the CDC and other government health agencies was not limited to mask studies. Risks of severe or long COVID and benefits of COVID vaccines in children and healthy adults were also greatly exaggerated. Worst of all, basic tenets of immunology (e.g. infection-acquired immunity) were denied. Immunologists were expected to go along with it. Many did. Science is a perfect process complicated by flawed human practitioners. Wherever there are people, there will be politics, and wherever there are government health agencies, their political interests will trample any conflicting science. As with any big problem, the first step is admitting there is a problem. After accepting the fact that health agencies are political organizations, the next steps should explore ways to ensure bipartisan administration and remove perverse incentives. Separating research and policy arms of each agency, term limits for administrative positions, and approval of directors by Congress might be a good start.  Obviously, no meaningful change in government health agencies is going to happen without overcoming massive bureaucratic opposition. But a meaningful change is the only outcome we should accept, or we can expect more of the same when the next pandemic comes. Tyler Durden Thu, 09/15/2022 - 17:40.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytSep 15th, 2022

Anthony Fauci: From AIDS To COVID-19, A Pharma Love Story

Anthony Fauci: From AIDS To COVID-19, A Pharma Love Story Opinion authored by Lorenzo Puertas via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours), After forty-eight years of leading the U.S. government’s responses to infectious diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci recently announced his plans to retire at the end of the year. His story warrants a closer look for what it tells us about American politics, business, and health care. For decades before his recent fame, Fauci has been a medical researcher credited with important new understandings of the human immune response, particularly in HIV and AIDS. He also helped develop therapies for several previously fatal diseases, including a treatment of vasculitis which turned a 98 percent mortality rate into a 93 percent survival rate. For most of his career, he has been the world’s most-cited researcher on AIDS and infectious diseases. He has received many awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Ironically, Fauci has also presided over a decades-long decline in the overall health of American citizens. During his time in public health, a great number of chronic illnesses have become commonplace. Food allergies, autoimmune diseases, and cancer now affect more than half of American children. Autism, once rare, now affects 1 in 44 children. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci testifies during a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health, and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies hearing, on Capitol Hill in Washington on May 17, 2022. (Shawn Thew/Pool/AFP via Getty Images) A Lifetime in Public Health Anthony Fauci was born in Brooklyn in 1940, the son of a pharmacist. Pharmacy was the family business, and both his mother and sister worked in his father’s shop beneath their apartment. As a young man, Fauci studied medicine at Cornell University, graduating first in his class. After his residency in 1966, he took a research job at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and he has worked for the U.S. government ever since. In his five decades in public health, Fauci has advised every President since Ronald Reagan. Since 1984 he has been the head of the National Institute for Allergies and Infectious Disease (NIAID), one of 27 institutes within the NIH, given the mission of researching and preventing infectious, immunologic, and allergic diseases. For many Americans, Fauci has been the trusted face of the U.S. government response to the pandemic. It was his confident explanations, both to the public and to policymakers, which led to the use of lockdowns, business closures, masking, and vaccines as the response to the virus. His many critics see a different Anthony Fauci—a bureaucrat who seems to have made a career of putting politics and corporate profits above public health. “Dr. Fauci has shaped the American medical world,” said Mary Holland, President of Children’s Health Defense, in an interview with The Epoch Times. “He’s moved American health institutions, NIH in particular, to a very intertwined relationship with the pharmaceutical industry.” Holland’s nonprofit organization, chaired by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., has been a prominent critic of Dr. Fauci’s policies—particularly the mass vaccination of American citizens. Censorship and Control “Dr. Fauci and his NIAID have played a very dark role in COVID,” Holland said. “The level of propaganda we have lived through in the last two years is unprecedented in my lifetime. I lived in the Soviet Union after law school, fighting for human rights and working against government propaganda and censorship. And now we are living through that in the United States.” According to Holland, Fauci is the key player in the U.S. government’s efforts to control all information relating to the pandemic and the virus. “The documents are coming out that show that the government has been censoring us, suppressing factual information that relate to this virus and the pandemic.” Even criticism of Fauci has been censored, says Holland. “Robert Kennedy’s new book, ‘The Real Anthony Fauci’ has been suppressed at every turn,” she said. The 2021 book takes a hard look at Fauci’s career and his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. Kennedy has found it almost impossible to promote his book. “No major publication in the country would review the book,” said Holland. “The New York Times would not include it on their bestseller list, and he [Kennedy] was not invited on any major media platform, except for Tucker Carlson and The Epoch Times. The level of censorship has been astonishing.” Kennedy isn’t the only one censored. For two years, mainstream media outlets have ignored the scientists who have questioned Fauci’s views. These scientists have seen their ideas rejected (or later retracted) by medical journals, denounced by government officials, and censored by social media platforms. Fauci has been candid about his suppression of dissent. “Attacks on me, quite frankly, are attacks on science,” Fauci told CNBC in a June 2021 interview. In May, the attorneys general for Missouri and Louisiana filed a lawsuit against President Joe Biden and other White House officials, accusing them of violating the First Amendment by colluding with social media giants to suppress information about the pandemic. According to recently released court documents, the Biden administration worked so closely with social media that Facebook head Mark Zuckerberg gave Fauci his personal phone number when the crackdown on COVID-19 information began. But why this need for control? What information needed to be covered up? According to Holland, it’s the role that Fauci may have played in creating, and prolonging, this pandemic. The P4 laboratory (L) on the campus of the Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China, on May 27, 2020. (Hector Retamal/AFP via Getty Images) “By all appearances they have tried to cover up their role in funding lethal gain of function research in China,” said Holland. “They have also suppressed the use of lifesaving early treatments like ivermectin and hydroxycholoroquine, and they have suppressed valuable research into preventive measures that could have saved countless lives.” The result, says Holland and other critics, is a dark period in American history. Fauci’s Pandemic? Starting in early 2020, Americans faced unprecedented government intrusion in their lives. Business and school closures, lockdowns, mask mandates—and the man behind these government policies has been Anthony Fauci. In countless interviews and press conferences, Fauci positioned himself as the one true source of correct COVID-19 information and guidance. Emergency orders at the federal, state, and local levels were based on Fauci’s opinions. Fauci himself took credit for the policy of lockdowns, saying in October 2020, “I recommended to the president that we shut the country down. That was a very difficult decision because I knew it would have very serious economic consequences.” “Anthony Fauci is clearly at the very center of all things COVID,” Holland said. “And he has been in charge of controlling the information about the pandemic.” “From the very beginning, when many scientists were pointing to a lab origin for this virus,” said Holland, “Anthony Fauci put a stop to that important debate.” Despite the discovery of NIAID’s funding of gain-of-function research on coronaviruses at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, Fauci continues to say that the virus likely has a natural origin. A similar thing happened with scientific opposition to Fauci’s policies. The Great Barrington Declaration, written in October 2020 and signed by over 60,000 doctors and scientists, opposed lockdowns and advocated a new policy of protecting only the most vulnerable populations while allowing the rest to live freely and develop natural immunity. Fauci called the Declaration “ridiculous” and “very dangerous,” and led a campaign to attack the authors and signatories, instead of their ideas. “It has been remarkable,” Holland said, “to see one of the most influential figures in American life purposely suppressing truthful information—about a lab leak, about scientists who said there should be no lockdowns, about the value of masks and the risks of vaccines.” “In the COVID response we saw extraordinary corruption,” said Holland. “The origin of the virus was covered up. Important treatments were suppressed. And vaccines were authorized, and mandated, on inadequate science.” Ivermectin tablets packaged for human use. (Natasha Holt/The Epoch Times) Suppression of Cures One of the most astonishing aspects of Fauci’s leadership during the pandemic has been his strong opposition to any potential treatment. In two years, neither Fauci nor any U.S. government agency has published a single treatment protocol for COVID-19 patients. In contrast, China had a treatment protocol online by mid-March of 2020. The result of an organized collection of data from hundreds of hospitals treating thousands of patients, the Chinese protocol included simple solutions like saline nasal lavage and antiseptic mouthwash to reduce viral loads, and cheap drugs like zinc, Pepcid, chloroquine, and antibiotics. As of this writing, the United States still has no official treatment protocol. And no protocols have been proposed by any major American university or research hospital. Yet every American doctor who has tried to publish one has been quickly censored and ridiculed. Dr. Peter McCullough knows this firsthand. The author of the protocol that became the most downloaded medical paper of 2020, McCullough was among the first American doctors to develop, test, and publish a successful treatment protocol, resulting in an 85 percent reduction in hospitalizations and death among his patients. A medical doctor and author of over 600 peer-reviewed research articles, McCullough at first had no thought of developing his own treatment plan. But he soon became alarmed at the government’s failure to provide treatment advice to America’s doctors. By May 2020, McCullough began taking action. He quickly set up a network of doctors to share information about effective treatments—something Fauci never did. For his efforts, he found himself sued by Baylor University, had his Wikipedia page re-written to label him a source of “COVID misinformation”, and had his reputation attacked in print and online. All while major medical institutions did nothing to find a treatment. “They didn’t even try,” McCullough is quoted as saying in “The Real Anthony Fauci.” “Harvard, John Hopkins, Duke, you name it. There wasn’t an ounce of original research coming out of America to fight COVID—other than vaccines.” Across the country, Dr. Pierre Kory was fighting the same battle. The co-founder of the Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance (FLCCC), Kory and a team of doctors were quickly developing their own protocol and putting it online. Like McCullough, Kory had discovered the effectiveness of ivermectin, hydroxycholoroquine, and a number of other inexpensive and easily available drugs. Kory testified twice to the U.S. Senate explaining the success of his treatment protocol. He also submitted a formal paper to the NIH, which quickly dismissed the results as “insufficient data” lacking proper clinical trials. Another research paper explaining the protocol was retracted by the journal Frontiers in Pharmacology due to “unsupported claims”. “The efficacy of some of these drugs… is almost miraculous. We could have stopped the pandemic in its tracks in the Spring of 2020,” said Kory. “Yet Dr. Fauci refused to promote any of these interventions. It’s not just that he made no effort to find effective off-the-shelf cures—he aggressively suppressed them.” “You had Birx, Fauci, and Redfield doing press conferences every day,” Kory said in an interview. “And not one of them ever treated a COVID patient or worked in an emergency room or ICU. They knew nothing.” “Dr. Fauci’s suppression of early treatments,” said Kory, “will go down in history as having caused the death of half a million Americans.” But why would Anthony Fauci suppress effective treatments? Why attack doctors trying to find a solution? According to Robert Kennedy, it might be because safe and effective treatments for COVID-19 would make the new vaccines unnecessary. Successful treatments aren’t just a marketing challenge for the vaccine manufacturers—they’re a legal obstacle, too. Once a successful treatment for COVID-19 is established, it becomes much less likely that the FDA will grant Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to new vaccines and new drugs. Under federal law, there must be no approved alternative way of treating or preventing a disease before authorizing an EUA. The EUA under which the experimental vaccines were given to millions of Americans would never have been granted if COVID-19 was known to be an easily treatable disease. In “The Real Anthony Fauci”, Robert Kennedy writes, “His bizarre and inexplicable actions give credence to the suspicions held by many Americans that Dr. Fauci is working to prolong the epidemic in order to impose expensive patented drugs and vaccines on a captive population.” AIDS COVID-19 isn’t the first time that Anthony Fauci has been accused of using public policy to benefit big pharma corporations. Forty years ago, at the height of the AIDS crisis in America, many AIDS activists called Anthony Fauci a sellout to the drug companies. “You are responsible for all government funded AIDS treatment research,” said activist Larry Kramer in an open letter to Fauci in the San Francsico Examiner in 1988. “You are part of a government bureaucracy that values thriving pharmaceutical company entrepreneurism over the health of people with HIV.” Kramer’s criticism: instead of focusing on improving patients’ health, Fauci’s only answer to AIDS was the development of new drugs. “How long will it take you to start focusing on the immune system, how to boost it and how to prevent the opportunistic infections that are killing people with AIDS? Still, you give your blessing to clinical trials of highly profitable toxins…” “You are a pill-pushing pimp that cooperates with drug companies in forcing dangerous concoctions down the throats of a desperate community,” wrote Kramer. “AIDS drugs are not sold to help people, they are sold to make a profit.” White House Chief Medical Adviser on Covid-19 Dr. Anthony Fauci at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Md., on Feb. 11, 2021. (Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images) Conflicts of Interest Despite the criticism Fauci endured, the AIDS crisis produced the most important opportunity of his career: using NIAID to develop, and profit from, new drugs. His collaboration with pharmaceutical companies quickly grew into a billion-dollar business. The 1980 Bayh-Dole Act allowed NIAID and government scientists like Fauci to directly profit from drug development. Under the law, NIAID was now allowed to file patents on the new drugs that their research was creating, and then license those drug patents back to pharmaceutical companies. Individual government scientists could also put their names on patents and collect royalties. This created a new income stream for Anthony Fauci: royalties on the sales of all drugs developed through NIAID-funded research. Drug development very quickly became the focus of Fauci’s NIAID, and millions of dollars in royalties started to pour in. According to a 2006 investigation by the Associated Press, NIH and NIAID were concealing millions of dollars in royalties paid not just to the agencies, but to individual officials including Fauci, with little regard for the ethical and legal conflicts of interest. This information was not made public until the Associated Press obtained the information under the Freedom of Information Act. In early 2022,, a government watchdog nonprofit, reported over 22,0000 royalty payments totaling nearly $134 million in royalty payments from pharma companies to the NIH and directly to over 1,600 NIH scientists. These payments occurred between 2009 and 2014. Data from 2015 onward is not yet available. As a co-owner of drug and vaccine patents, Fauci himself receives royalty payments, including from the development of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. The amount of these payments has not been made public. It is perhaps no coincidence then, that the Biden administration’s COVID-19 plan, “The Path out of the Pandemic”, consists of only one strategy: more government vaccination mandates. “Think about it,” said Children’s Health Defense president Mary Holland. “NIAID is a joint venture partner with Moderna! How can the government be a joint venture partner with a for-profit corporation? And then set public policy to force the use of that product? The conflict of interest is astounding.” Experiments in New York Drug development for AIDS created a little-known episode in Fauci’s career. Starting in 1985, the NIAID provided funding for clinical drug trials on HIV-positive children, studies which included children in the New York foster care system. According to a 2009 report by the Vera Institute of Justice, 25 of the children involved in these experiments died, though there is no evidence that they died as a direct result of the experiments. “NIAID under Fauci exploited the most vulnerable in our society to develop new drugs,” said Holland. “These were poor children, without parents, many of whom were already very sick. Episodes like this, make one genuinely recall other medical atrocities in history, experiments conducted on vulnerable people without proper informed consent.” Experiments in Africa Experimentation on humans has been a key part of Fauci’s role in new drug and vaccine development, especially in Africa in the search for a solution to AIDS. Since the mid-1990s Fauci has been the chief promoter of the quest for an HIV vaccine. Under Fauci’s advice, every American president since Clinton has pledged billions of taxpayer dollars to this project—foreign aid diverted away from food and infrastructure to vaccine manufacturers and their research projects, in the name of eradicating AIDS in Africa. In early 2000, Fauci and Bill Gates formed a unique partnership to control this flow of money. By leveraging the research funding available through Fauci’s NIAID, Bill Gates’ celebrity philanthropy, the tragedy of AIDS, and the massive wealth of pharmaceutical companies, Fauci and Gates acquired tremendous influence over health policy around the world. This Fauci-Gates partnership is detailed in a 2008 report in the Journal of European Molecular Biology, provocatively titled “The Gates Foundation: How Sixty Billion Dollars and One Famous Person Can Affect Spending and Research Focus of Public Agencies”. As many human rights organizations have pointed out, Fauci and Gates have spent decades profiting from the use of Africans as test subjects for experimental drugs that often do great harm. And there still is no vaccine for HIV. Read more here... Tyler Durden Wed, 09/14/2022 - 20:20.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytSep 14th, 2022

The Twitter whistleblower testifies before the US Senate on Tuesday. Here"s what to expect.

Peiter Zatko is set to make his first public appearance since his whistleblower complaint detailed allegedly serious security flaws at Twitter. Ex Twitter security chief Peiter Zatko.Matt McClain/The Washington Post via Getty Images Twitter whistleblower Peiter Zatko will speak publicly for the first time since his complaint was made public. Lawmakers are expected to grill Zatko on claims that Twitter's flaws posed a risk to user privacy and national security. Interest in the testimony has grown after a judge ruled that Elon Musk can use Zatko's claims in his battle with Twitter. On Tuesday, Twitter's former head of security, Peiter Zatko, will speak publicly for the first time since his bombshell whistleblower complaint that may be key to determining the company's future. Zatko is set to testify in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee to answer questions about claims he made about Twitter's security failings. Zatko's complaint details Twitter's allegedly negligent security practices and says they pose a threat to user privacy and even national security. He also accuses Jack Dorsey of suffering from a "drastic loss of focus" in his final year as CEO, saying he was so disengaged that some senior employees allegedly speculated about whether he was sick. Zatko's complaint contains myriad information that may interest US lawmakers. He accuses the company's leadership of misleading government regulators about security flaws that could potentially pave the way for foreign spying, hacking, or disinformation campaigns, according to CNN.The complaint also alleges that Twitter's current CEO, Parag Agrawal, once suggested that the company bow to Russia's censorship and surveillance demands to grow its user base. The Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to question Zatko about all of these claims. "Mr. Zatko's allegations of widespread security failures and foreign state actor interference at Twitter raise serious concerns.  If these claims are accurate, they may show dangerous data privacy and security risks for Twitter users around the world. The Senate Judiciary Committee will investigate this issue further with a full Committee hearing this work period, and take further steps as needed to get to the bottom of these alarming allegations," Senators Chuck Grassley and Dick Durbin said in a joint statement last month. Twitter has denied Zatko's claims and has painted him as a disgruntled employee who was fired for "ineffective leadership and poor performance."Interest in Zatko's testimony has intensified after a judge ruled that Elon Musk can use claims from the whistleblower's complaint in his legal battle to terminate his deal to buy Twitter. The "hearing will be closely watched by the Street to better understand the details around security issues as well as the bot/fake account issue at the centerpiece of Musk's focus," Dan Ives, a technology analyst at Wedbush Securities, wrote in a recent note to clients.Intensifying the drama: Twitter shareholders are expected to approve Musk's $44 billion takeover deal in a shareholder vote on Tuesday, the same day as Zatko's testimony, The Wall Street Journal reported.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytSep 12th, 2022

The Politically Incorrect Guide To Economics

The Politically Incorrect Guide To Economics Authored by David Gordon via The Mises Institute, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Economics by Thomas J. DiLorenzo Regnery Publishing, 2022; xx + 242 pp. Like Ludwig von Mises and Murray Rothbard, Tom DiLorenzo is an economist with an extraordinary knowledge of history, and this shows to great advantage in his brilliant new book. In it, he stresses that economists who fail to grasp how the free market works often devise elaborate theories to show “market failures,” but when examined in the light of historical evidence, these theories fall to the ground. As a prime example of this, Paul Samuelson in his Economics, for decades the most influential university textbook, indicted the market for its failure to conform to the welfare ideal of “perfect competition.” Concerning this, DiLorenzo says: That never-to-be-realized-anywhere-on-earth state of perfect competition is one where all products in every industry are identical; they are produced by “many” business firms; everyone charges the same price; everyone has perfect information … and there is free or costless entry into every industry and every exit out of it. Several other equally unrealistic assumptions were added over the years, but these were always the main ones. This pipe dream became the new understanding of what constituted “competition,” at least among academic economists. (pp. 30–31) Supporters of this view used the perfect competition model to demand that large firms be broken up. Couldn’t “monopolists” engage in “predatory pricing” to secure their position against competitors? DiLorenzo finds no historical evidence that such a thing has ever taken place. In fact, to this day there is no record of any business achieving a monopoly through predatory pricing! There have nevertheless been hundreds of antitrust lawsuits based on this theory, most of them private lawsuits with one company suing a competitor for lowering its prices. Think about that: in the name of protecting the consumer, antitrust regulation allows businesses to sue to “protect” customers from their competitors’ lower prices. (p. 38) Unfortunately, perfect competition is far from the only case of an alleged “market failure.” Critics charge that “public goods,” goods that are both nonrival and nonexcludable, cannot be adequately supplied in the free market. As an example, a guided-missile defense system protects everyone within a territory, not just customers willing to pay for it; and, given the large numbers of consumers of this good, people could in a free market “free ride,” imagining that others would bear the burden. General awareness of this phenomenon will make everyone reluctant to pay, since even those who want the good would rather not pay for it. “Away with this flimsy theory!” says DiLorenzo: it too lacks historical support. Another problem with the theory of the “free-rider problem” is that there are examples all around us of private individuals and groups providing myriad types of goods and services that are “nonrival” and “nonexcludable.” Americans are probably the most charitable people in the world…. The very existence of the many privately funded charities proves that the free-rider problem is not nearly as severe a problem as students of economics are led to believe…. Especially at the state and local levels of government, it is hard to think of any service provided by governments that is not also provided by private businesses (or private nonprofit organizations), usually at a fraction of the cost and with higher quality and customer service to boot. (pp. 67–69) DiLorenzo finds a general pattern that underlies the failure of all the various attacks on the free market. In the free market, entrepreneurs have an incentive to satisfy consumers, as that is the path to profit. Government bureaucrats have no such incentive; to the contrary, they are free to seek “power and pelf,” as Murray Rothbard used to say. DiLorenzo puts this key insight in this way: Profits and losses are the measuring rods of how good a job a business is doing with regard to serving its customers. Growing profits mean that a better and better job is being done in that regard; losses mean the opposite. No one is forced to buy anything from anyone in a free market…. In government bureaucracies, failure is success. The worse the public schools get, the more money they get in next year’s budget. The longer government fails in the War on Poverty, the more money the poverty agencies get. The longer the failed wars that are never won go on, the more enriched is the Pentagon and the military-industrial establishment. And on and on. (pp. 121–23) If the free market is better than a centrally directed economy, we must in choosing proper policy beware that we have the genuine article, not a counterfeit. As an example, DiLorenzo first aptly brings out the fallacies of protectionism. “Chief among them is the ‘Buy American’ scam designed to make people believe that protectionism will somehow save American jobs. The truth is that protectionism may temporarily preserve some jobs in the protected industry, but always at the expense of destroying other American jobs elsewhere and plundering American consumers with higher prices” (p. 178). But, he says, international trade agreements like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) do not in fact promote free trade but subject it to government control. Just because politicians call something a “free trade agreement” doesn’t make it one. They always choose wonderful-sounding names for their legislation, which in reality is usually the work of scores of greedy plunder-seeking lobbyists. This was the case with NAFTA, which was some 2,400 pages of bureaucratic regulation and central planning of the trade between the United States, Canada, and Mexico and the rest of the world. It contained nine hundred pages of tariffs, the opposite of free trade. (pp. 181–82) As mentioned above, DiLorenzo has a wide knowledge of history, and this he puts to exemplary use in his discussion of the federal income tax, which, he aptly reminds us, the great Old Right author Frank Chodorov called “the root of all evil.” However much we hate to pay taxes, Chodorov’s phrase may seem exaggerated, but, DiLorenzo reminds us, he had a point. Americans were literally turned into slaves of the state, said Chodorov, for what the government was now saying to its citizens was: “Your earnings are not exclusively your own. We have a claim on them, and our claim precedes yours. We will allow you to keep some of it, because we recognize your need, but not your right … The amount of your earnings that you may retain for yourself is determined by the needs of the government, and you have nothing to say about it.” In other words, the income tax was the biggest attack on the principle of private property in American history. (p. 163) Relying on the great book of Felix Morley, Freedom and Federalism, which he calls “the best book ever written about American federalism” (p. 165), DiLorenzo says that the federal income tax bypassed the authority of the states over their citizens. Further, “it essentially turned most state governments into puppets of the ‘federal’ government once the federal government had enough funds with which to bribe or threaten the states to bend to its will by either granting or withholding ‘aid to the states’” (p. 165). Tom DiLorenzo’s masterful book brings out in unsurpassed fashion that the free market rests on mutually beneficial exchange. He quotes Adam Smith: “Whoever offers to another a bargain of any kind proposes to do this: Give me that which I want, and you shall have that which you want, is the meaning of every such offer; and it is this manner that we obtain from one another the far greater part of those good offices which we stand in need of” (p. 5). (Smith, by the way, here alludes to the Latin do ut des, “I give that you may give,” important in the Roman religion and civil law.). The book is, as David Stockman says, a worthy successor to Henry Hazlitt’s Economics in One Lesson. Tyler Durden Wed, 08/31/2022 - 14:25.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytAug 31st, 2022

Fauci, Other US Officials Served In Lawsuit Over Alleged Collusion To Suppress Free Speech

Fauci, Other US Officials Served In Lawsuit Over Alleged Collusion To Suppress Free Speech Authored by Zachary Stieber via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours), White House chief medical adviser Anthony Fauci, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, and other top Biden administration officials have been served with discovery requests after a federal judge ordered the administration to comply with discovery requests stemming from a lawsuit alleging government collusion with Big Tech. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks in Washington on May 11, 2022. (Alex Wong/Getty Images) The lawsuit accuses government officials of working with Twitter and other major social media networks to suppress truthful information on multiple topics, including COVID-19. One example outlined is how Fauci, the longtime head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, held a secret meeting with scientists who soon after tried to discredit the theory that the virus that causes COVID-19 came from a Chinese laboratory. At the same time, Fauci, who has repeatedly cast doubt on the so-called lab leak theory and whose agency funded research at the lab in Wuhan, was exchanging messages with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on how COVID-19 information on social media was handled. Fauci was told in the request to identify every worker in his agency who has or is communicating with a social media platform regarding content modulation and/or misinformation, to identify all such communications he had, and to identify all meetings he had on the matter with social media platforms. He was also asked to provide all communications with Zuckerberg from Jan. 1, 2020, to the present, and all communications with platforms related to the Great Barrington Declaration, the COVID-19 strategy authored by Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, Martin Kulldorff, and Dr. Sunetra Gupta that Fauci and his former boss, Dr. Francis Collins, criticized publicly and in private. Discovery requests were also sent to White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre; former Disinformation Governance Board chief Nina Jankowicz; Jen Easterly, director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency; and agencies like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Homeland Security. Subpoenas Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt and Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, the plaintiffs in the suit, also served subpoenas to Meta, Facebook’s parent company; YouTube; Twitter; Instagram; and LinkedIn. The subpoena compels the platforms to provide documents before Aug. 17, including all communications with Jankowicz and other federal officials. The documents reference how Jen Psaki, Jean-Pierre’s predecessor, told a briefing in July 2021 that officials are “in regular touch with these social media platforms” and that “we’re flagging problematic posts for Facebook that spread disinformation.” “We will fight to get to the bottom of this alleged collusion and expose the suppression of freedom of speech by social media giants at the behest of top-ranking government officials,” Schmitt, a Republican, said in a statement. Tyler Durden Thu, 07/21/2022 - 23:55.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytJul 22nd, 2022

Democrats" Second Amendment "Syndrome" Plan: Plotting The Next Big Fight Over Gun Rights

Democrats' Second Amendment 'Syndrome' Plan: Plotting The Next Big Fight Over Gun Rights Authored by Jonathan Turley, Below is my column in the Hill on the next round of litigation over the Second Amendment. New York and other states quickly moved to exploit the concurrence of Justice Brett Kavanaugh (who was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts) that state officials believe contains a loophole for greater gun limitations based not on the weapons but the places where they can be taken. Here is the column: In the movie “The Incredibles,” the villainous character “Syndrome” reveals a plan to make everyone a superhero. Syndrome’s motive is hardly altruistic: He hated superheroes and “with everyone super, no one will be.” Democratic leaders seem to be planning their own Syndrome plan for the Second Amendment — to make everywhere a special or “sensitive place” so that few places outside the home are protected by the constitutional right. The recent decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen was one of the most significant victories for the Second Amendment in the history of the Supreme Court. It was the latest defeat for the State of New York, which — having supplied a series of dubious state laws that have served to expand individual protections under the Constitution — has been the greatest gift to gun owners since the invention of the revolver. Right on cue, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) promised Syndrome-style legislation within an hour of the release of the Bruen decision. To make matters worse, Hochul went on television to say in a mocking tone that they would just come up with a long list of sensitive places. Hochul and others are relying on a concurrence in Bruen by Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts. Kavanaugh reaffirmed the language in the 2008 decision in Heller v. District of Columbia that the Second Amendment was “neither a regulatory straightjacket nor a regulatory blank check.” States and the federal government could still adopt some restrictions on firearms. He specifically noted that the list of “sensitive places” referenced in the earlier case was not “exhaustive.” Kavanaugh’s limiting language was immediately taken as a license to bar guns by redefining places where they might be carried. New York’s Concealed Carry Improvement Act passed 43-20 and has elements that are ripe for constitutional challenge. However, it was the list that was so striking; indeed, it is hard to come up with a place that would not be declared special or sensitive. The list would seem to cover most areas outside of the home, including government buildings; any location providing health, behavioral health or chemical dependence care or services; any place of worship or religious observation; libraries; public playgrounds; public parks; zoos; the location of any state-funded or -licensed programs; educational institutions both in elementary and higher education; any vehicle used for public transportation; all public transit including airports and bus terminals; bars and restaurants; entertainment, gaming and sporting events and venues; polling places; any public sidewalk or public area restricted for a special event, and protests or rallies. That includes simply passing through Times Square. Montgomery County, Maryland, officials have proposed to bar the legal right to carry firearms “in or within 100 yards of a place of public assembly.” Other states like California are moving to bar permitted gun owners from carrying guns into any school grounds, college and university campuses, government and judicial buildings, medical facilities, public transit, public parks, playgrounds, public demonstrations and any place where alcohol is sold. These states believe they have an ally in Roberts. The chief justice has been criticized in the past for embracing rights while creating avenues for their circumvention. The most obvious example is his opinion in National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, finding that the individual mandate of ObamaCare violated federalism but then saying that it did not matter if it is simply called a tax (which no party had done). These states are now hoping Roberts and Kavanaugh will do the same thing with gun rights in staunchly defending the individual right to carry a gun unless states simply define a wide array of places as “gun-free.” It is not the gun but the place that’s driving the exclusion. The problem is that Hochul and others may have been too open in gaming the opinion. Roberts is the ultimate incrementalist and institutionalist. As shown in his sole concurrence in the abortion decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health, he is not afraid to stand alone in seeking a moderate compromise. However, he is not someone who relishes being treated as a chump. Simply listing most of Manhattan as a “sensitive place” will again push the constitutional envelope. It will force the court to again limit the authority of the states to shoulder the burden of balancing the individual right to gun ownership against the need to protect these places from the exercise of that right. In answering that question, the court is likely to ask how statistically lawful gun permit owners have caused or materially increased the public safety risk in these areas. Studies have generally not shown a clear relationship between restrictive gun permit laws and a significant decrease in gun violence. There is a clear majority on the court to give states and cities the power to impose reasonable background checks and gun limits for sensitive places. However, these states may again overplay their hand with excessive listings like the one in New York. Indeed, in Gov. Hochul’s case, she is playing poker with the cards facing outward. When you say that you are going play these justices, you would be wise to heed Syndrome’s other advice: “You can’t count on anyone, especially your heroes.” Tyler Durden Mon, 07/18/2022 - 21:15.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeJul 19th, 2022

How Federal Student-Loans Create College-Rankings Scandals

How Federal Student-Loans Create College-Rankings Scandals Authored by Preston Cooper via RealClear Education (emphasis ours), A whistleblower lawsuit filed last month alleges that Rutgers University’s business school artificially boosted its rankings by using a temp agency to hire MBA graduates and place them into “sham positions at the university itself,” according to, which first reported the news. Though shocking, the scandal is the natural result of the incentives the federal government has set up for schools through uncapped student loan subsidies for graduate programs. Photo: Ekrulila Rutgers has denied the charges. But the allegations are credible when considering the source: the lawsuit was filed by Deidre White, the human resources manager at Rutgers’ business school. Days later, a separate class-action lawsuit was filed by one of Rutgers’ MBA students. Last year Rutgers was ranked first among public business schools in the northeast by Bloomberg Businessweek. One wonders how many students, hoping for a degree that would boost their employability, may have been deceived by that rosy statistic. The scandal follows similar incidents at other universities. The University of Southern California withdrew from the U.S. News & World Report graduate education school rankings due to “inaccuracies” in its reported data stretching back for years. And earlier this year, the dean of Temple University’s business school was sentenced to more than a year in prison for submitting false data to U.S. News. Why would university officials risk prison time to manipulate their rankings? The answer is that graduate degrees—especially master’s degrees—are increasingly becoming a cash cow for universities. Though federal loans to dependent undergraduate students are capped at $31,000, loans to graduate students are effectively unlimited. Many schools have vastly expanded their graduate school offerings to soak up this stream of cash. The number of master’s degrees conferred annually has risen 41% since 2006, when unlimited loans for graduate students were introduced. Over the past decade, universities have added more than 9,000 new master’s degree programs. The master’s-degree bonanza shows no sign of tapering off. While the number of students pursuing higher education has dropped 6% overall since the beginning of the pandemic, enrollment in master’s degree programs has moved in the opposite direction, surging by nearly 6%. Predictably, this has led to a surge in graduate student debt. In 2019-20, 43% of all federal student loans issued were for graduate education, up from 33% at the beginning of the decade. Rutgers itself gets over half of its federal student loan funding from graduate programs. For many prominent universities, undergraduate education is old news—graduate programs are where the real money is. Unfortunately, much of this federal largesse finances programs of questionable financial value. According to my estimates of return on investment, 40% of master’s degrees do not provide their students with an increase in earnings large enough to justify their costs. Among MBAs and other business-related master’s degrees, the share of nonperforming programs rises to 62%. Perhaps that reality is a reason that so many graduate schools feel the need to fudge rankings data. Many graduate borrowers will strain under the weight of debt that the federal government so freely gave out. But taxpayers will pick up a large share of the burden as well. Most graduate borrowers are eligible for income-based repayment programs which limit their monthly payments and grant loan cancelations after a set period of time. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that more than half of graduate loans issued in 2022 and repaid on income-based plans will eventually be discharged. The student loan payment pause has also transferred many of the costs of graduate school from borrowers to taxpayers. The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget estimates that the average master’s degree holder has already received over $13,000 of effective loan forgiveness through canceled interest payments and excess inflation during the pause. These factors, plus the possibility of additional loan forgiveness in the future, allow universities to hint that students might not have to pay the full cost of their education—and makes it easier to sell them on expensive master’s degrees. The Education Department has the tools to put a stop to this racket. A regulation known as borrower defense to repayment allows students defrauded by their institutions to have their federal student loans canceled; the institution must make taxpayers whole in the event of a successful loan discharge. Initially developed by the Obama administration, the rule was aimed at for-profit colleges, but there’s no reason it couldn’t be used against a public flagship university like Rutgers. If the Education Department forced a school with provably falsified rankings data to pay off the loans of defrauded students, it would send a firm signal that this sort of behavior will not be tolerated. But borrower defense to repayment isn’t enough. There are plenty of federally funded master’s degree programs where institutions are not guilty of fraud, but outcomes are abysmal nonetheless. Therefore, it is also necessary for Congress to remove the incentive for universities to market bad master’s degrees in the first place: their unlimited federal funding. The prevalence of master’s degrees that offer little to no return on investment can be chalked up to uncapped federal student loans, which are handed out in an undiscriminating fashion, and the repayment regime that forces taxpayers to pick up the tab for unpaid loans. Universities push low-quality master’s degrees to capture the federal dollars, while students are willing to borrow thanks to the federal government’s implicit stamp of approval. End federal loans for graduate school, and most low-quality master’s degrees will vanish. Private lenders would be able to meet demand for the financing of quality graduate degrees, such as medicine. Reliable financial returns for these degrees mean that private lenders will jump at the chance to lend to medical students attending reputable institutions, but will be far more hesitant to pony up $180,000 for a master’s degree in film. A thriving private market for graduate student loans existed before Congress uncapped federal loans in 2006. There is no need for a federal graduate loan program when the private sector can adequately fill the role. The brewing scandal at Rutgers is a sign that many universities will do anything for a piece of the federal government’s unlimited graduate loan offerings. By ending federal loan subsidies for graduate programs, Congress can fix the bad incentives that led to this mess, protect students from low-quality master’s degrees, and save taxpayers a heap of money along the way. Preston Cooper is a research fellow in higher education at the Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity. Tyler Durden Tue, 05/10/2022 - 20:05.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytMay 10th, 2022

Protecting Retirement Savings from Volatile Crypto Digital Investments

Did you hear? You may be able to allocate some of your 401(k) retirement savings to bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Case in point, retirement juggernaut Fidelity. Fidelity launched a plan in April 2022 that could let workers invest up to 20% of their 401(k) contributions directly in bitcoins — directly from the account’s main menu. […] Did you hear? You may be able to allocate some of your 401(k) retirement savings to bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Case in point, retirement juggernaut Fidelity. Fidelity launched a plan in April 2022 that could let workers invest up to 20% of their 401(k) contributions directly in bitcoins — directly from the account’s main menu. Fidelity says it is the first in the industry to allow such investments without a separate brokerage account. And one employer has already agreed to offer the service later this year. if (typeof jQuery == 'undefined') { document.write(''); } .first{clear:both;margin-left:0}.one-third{width:31.034482758621%;float:left;margin-left:3.448275862069%}.two-thirds{width:65.51724137931%;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element input{border:0;border-radius:0;padding:8px}form.ebook-styles .af-element{width:220px;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer{width:115px;float:left;margin-left: 6px;}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer input.submit{width:115px;padding:10px 6px 8px;text-transform:uppercase;border-radius:0;border:0;font-size:15px}form.ebook-styles input.submit{width:115px}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy{width:100%;font-size:12px;margin:10px auto 0}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy p{font-size:11px;margin-bottom:0}form.ebook-styles .af-body input.text{height:40px;padding:2px 10px !important} form.ebook-styles .error, form.ebook-styles #error { color:#d00; } form.ebook-styles .formfields h1, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-logo, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-footer { display: none; } form.ebook-styles .formfields { font-size: 12px; } form.ebook-styles .formfields p { margin: 4px 0; } Get The Full Henry Singleton Series in PDF Get the entire 4-part series on Henry Singleton in PDF. Save it to your desktop, read it on your tablet, or email to your colleagues (function($) {window.fnames = new Array(); window.ftypes = new Array();fnames[0]='EMAIL';ftypes[0]='email';}(jQuery));var $mcj = jQuery.noConflict(true); Q1 2022 hedge fund letters, conferences and more Previously, if you wanted to invest in crypto for your retirement, you would have to turn to options like a Bitcoin IRA. Basically, it’s a self-directed IRA, but you invest in cryptocurrency instead of mutual funds. You could also use crypto to sponsor a 401(k) through the partnership between ForUsAll and Coinbase. A self-employed person can set up their own retirement plan via a solo 401(k) or SEP IRA, which can include bitcoin investments. But, the plunge that Fidelity is taking could be a game-changer. And, to be fair, it’s easy to see why. Crypto for Retirement is Becoming More Popular Last year, as the market surpassed $3 trillion in value, many cryptocurrencies soared, enticing a growing number of retirees to invest in cryptocurrencies. In addition, a survey published by Capitalize revealed that 20% of American employees nearing retirement are presently investing in the form of digital assets. “On the other hand, a more sizable 63% of Generation X and Baby Boomers feel that investing in digital assets such as crypto, among others, could result in major losses,” explains Pierre Raymond in a previous Due article. However, the situation is somewhat different for younger workers than those in these two groups. “The same survey indicates that around 56% of Gen Z workers already include some form of crypto in their retirement strategy, while 54% of Millennials are doing the same,” adds Pierre. However, older workers are less optimistic about digital coins and crypto. The Pros and Cons of Investing in Crypto for Retirement Why are younger investors all in on crypto for their retirement? Well, there’s potential for higher returns. It can also help protect your retirement balance through diversification. In addition, by investing in a tax-advantaged account, like a Roth IRA or traditional IRA, you don’t have to worry about taxes if the securities and money remain in the account. However, crypto is still a gamble. So, here are some ways to protect your retirement savings from volatile crypto digital investments. On the flip side, there are some valid concerns regarding crypto, particularly regarding your retirement. For example, the following concerns have forced the Department of Labor to issue a compliance assistance release for plan fiduciaries focused on 401(k) plan investments in cryptocurrencies. Valuation concerns. Cryptocurrencies are valued differently by financial experts. Due to cryptocurrencies not being subjected to the same reporting and data integrity requirements as traditional investment products, these concerns are compounded. Inflating crypto-currencies prices with false information allows scammers to sell their own holdings to make a profit before the value of the currency drops. Prices can change quickly and dramatically. In the past, cryptocurrency prices have fluctuated dramatically. Obstacles to making informed decisions. Plan participants with little appreciation of the risks involved can easily invest in these investments with expectations of high returns. For example, when 401(k) plan fiduciaries offer cryptocurrency options, they indicate to plan participants knowledgeable investment experts have approved them. Unfortunately, this is not necessarily true, and unfortunately, this can cause significant losses for plan participants. Evolving regulatory landscape. Legal rules and regulations are rapidly changing. Protecting Retirement Savings from Volatile Crypto Digital Investments The good news? It’s still possible to jump on board the crypto bandwagon without jeopardizing your retirement savings. Don’t invest more than you can afford to lose. Cryptos are extremely volatile investments, something that can’t be overemphasized. Be prepared to see their value rise or fall extremely dramatically. What’s more, they’ve often fluctuated by double-digit percentages within just a few hours. Past performance, unlike stable investments, isn’t always indicative of future results when it comes to risky investments. And cryptos are no exception. Here’s the bottom line; don’t lose more than you can afford to lose. Do your research. Not surprisingly, cryptocurrency exchanges have been the target of damaging hacking attacks and scams. As such, it’s advisable to choose an exchange that has strong security features and low fees, and easy use. Also, find out what users are saying about the exchange before deciding to transact. The whitepaper of the crypto should also be read. This document, which is standard for every new currency, allows you to understand the cryptocurrency’s use cases and its scalability, and future plans. In addition to your own research, you might benefit from joining a cryptocurrency forum online. Finally, researching a crypto’s reputation and track record may also yield useful information. Keep your crypto portfolio diversified. In general, it doesn’t make sense to put all your eggs in one basket when it comes to risky investments — or your retirement portfolio as well. In the case of cryptocurrency investment, it’s especially vital to diversify your crypto portfolio in the following ways, according to Paulina Likos over at U.S. News; Buy cryptocurrencies with different use cases. Investing in cryptocurrency with varying uses can help diversify your crypto holdings. As a means of exchange, cryptocurrencies are used for goods and services transactions, but that’s not all they do. In addition to being a store of value, Bitcoin can be used in preserving and growing wealth since investors have seen outsized returns from it. However, Ethereum, the second-largest crypto network, allows digital programs to be created with its smart contracts. In addition to stablecoins, crypto investors can also invest in underlying assets such as fiat currency. For example, the crypto market is less volatile due to stablecoins such as Tether (USDT) and USD Coin (USDC). Invest in different cryptocurrency blockchains. Cryptocurrencies function due to blockchain technology. On the other hand, Blockchain platforms have much more functionality, and they are in high demand in virtually every sector because of the solutions they can generate. The Ethereum blockchain is the most popular due to its ease of use, the ability to execute agreements without a third party, and the ability to build dApps on its platform. Cardano (ADA), which aims to be scalable, secure, and efficient, is a competing blockchain. Blockchain service provider EOS (EOS) offers smart contracts, cloud storage, and decentralized applications. Diversify by market capitalization. Bitcoin may occupy the majority of the crypto market share, but there are a number of altcoins worth considering that have different market caps. For example, the market cap of one crypto might mean it’s more stable and has more robust fundamentals, but the market cap of another crypto might mean it’s growing fast. Diversify crypto projects by location. You can experience a wider variety of innovations by crypto businesses if you select cryptocurrency projects from countries worldwide. However, keep your distance from crypto projects in places where crypto is banned or restricted. Instead, focus on innovation areas, such as El Salvador and Portugal. Invest in different industries. Different industries offer cryptocurrency opportunities. In particular, the financial sector has been a significant adopter of crypto. Using a peer-to-peer blockchain network, DeFi allows people to conduct digital transactions without being governed by a third party such as a bank. A growing number of users are trading virtual assets in a global market using crypto in the world of video games at the same time. Branch out to different asset classes. Investing in digital assets is part of several asset classes, giving investors even more diversification options. Asset classes most commonly include cryptos used as a store of value or a medium of exchange, like Bitcoin and Ether (ETH), the native cryptocurrency of the Ethereum network. Another type of asset is utility tokens, which grant access to a platform for specific products. Among utility, tokens are Basic Attention Token (BAT), Golem Token (GLM), and Filecoin (FIL). Another class of digital investments is non-fungible tokens, or NFTs. Diversify by risk level. When you build a crypto portfolio, it might be a good idea to allocate more to the cryptos that have been around the longest, like Bitcoin and Ether. Then, for portfolio risk management, stablecoins could be added. After that, you might add a smaller percentage of riskier emerging crypto projects with various applications. Buy puts to protect your assets. Puts can be bought speculatively or to protect existing positions or portfolios. “Once you buy puts, profits get generated when the cryptocurrencies value drops in value relative to another,” explains Marius Bogdan Dinu for Crypto Adventure. “Puts offer the buyer the right to sell his cryptocurrencies at a specific price and a particular date.” For instance, let’s assume you bought a put option for $10 on BTC/USDT with a strike price below market (BTC = $200) of $180 for 28 days, and the price fell to $120 at the expiration date. By then, you’ll have generated a profit of $50 (or $60 to $100), almost five times what you paid. “Puts have one significant advantage; losses are limited, and the most you can lose is the premium you paid for the put,” he adds. It is important to note that not everyone has the perfect strike price or expiration date,” Bogdan states. Setting a strike price for crypto should always consider your risk tolerance and your bias towards the market. When the strike price locks in a minimum value of assets in your portfolio, you will achieve dependable portfolio protection at a fixed cost. Dollar-cost averaging can lower your risk. Instead of investing a large sum in cryptocurrency all at once, break your investment down into smaller amounts. For those unfamiliar with this, it’s called dollar-cost averaging. And, it’s possible to invest smaller sums automatically at regular intervals on many crypto exchanges. Using dollar-cost averaging will lower your exposure to market swings and eliminate the need to constantly judge the market’s mood. Additionally, it reduces the temptation to make emotional investments. Maintain liquidity. The dollar-cost averaging approach is great, but there’s no harm in accumulating some extra dry powder (or dry money), ready to scoop up assets at a steep discount if the market crashes. However, you’ll need liquidity to do this. To put it another way, you can’t jump on market opportunities if all your money is invested in investments. A typical investment strategy is to lock up money to earn a return. Users of vaulted crypto deposits get a yield on their deposits while maintaining liquidity. While some platforms require lockups for interest earners, Vauld offers users the option of not locking up their earnings. HODLing and long-term thinking. There is some truth to the statement “there is no loss until you sell.” Unrealized losses only occur once you sell your assets for less than the price you paid for them when the value has gone down since you bought them, explains the Coinbase team. Since its inception, Bitcoin has shown a consistent upward trend. Price falls are likely to bounce back due to economic drivers such as scarcity, even if caused by a temporary correction or a longer bear market. In the future, many people believe that cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin will continue to rise in price due to this limited availability. Positive price movement can be considered temporary if your investing timeframe is longer than weeks or months (years rather than weeks or months). Bitcoin has proven to be the most successful asset in the last decade, as it has been held for long periods of time. In countries like the United States, holding cryptocurrency for a longer period of time may also be tax beneficial, they add. It may be more advantageous to hold for a year or longer than sell immediately. Get crypto insurance. I’m sure you know that the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, an independent agency of the federal government, insures up to $250,000 per person and per bank. This includes all checking, savings, money market deposit, and certificate of deposit accounts. Unfortunately, at the moment, cryptocurrency is not covered — but the FDIC is considering it. In short, there’s no federal protection for cryptocurrency. That means you’re on your own. But, there may be a solution through insurance. First, let’s address the elephant in the room. Private insurance does exist for crypto like Bitcoin. However, at present, private crypto-insurance is not generally available to consumers; instead mainly purchased by exchanges and crypto-wallets. This policy covers crime and theft, custodial insurance coverage, and commercial insurance. The good news? There’s at least one exception. With its Crypto Shield product, Breach Insurance offers crypto investors a regulated insurance product. The company has licenses and regulations in 10 states, including Massachusetts, California, and New York. Purchase of a policy is restricted to residents of the states listed. But, the company is expected to expand into more states. At present, Breach Insurance covers 20 kinds of coins within exchanges such as Coinbase, CoinList, Gemini, or BinanceUS. Breach Insurance does not cover those in third-party wallets. Whether your crypto is stored cold or hot, the policy will cover hacks and exploitations of exchange wallets. Your deductible can range from 5%, 10%, or 15% of the policy amount. Coverage ranges from $2,000 to $1 million. Consider alternatives. A token purchase is the simplest way to get started with cryptocurrencies. But, there are ways to explore the crypto world without risking considerable swings in your investment, such as; Invest in crypto companies. Crypto companies are commonly listed on public exchanges. Instead of buying the coin itself, you can buy shares of Coinbase Global or PayPal Holdings, which benefit from the business proceeds from their crypto-related operations. Furthermore, you can purchase shares of companies that manufacture cryptographic hardware, like Nvidia and AMD. Buy cryptocurrency ETFs or derivatives. You can invest in crypto with exchange-traded funds (ETFs). Stocks, commodities, and bonds make up an ETF, and in the case of crypto, they follow an index or sector. For some crypto products, options and futures are available, but these advanced types of investment vehicles also come with risks. Find a job in the crypto industry. Companies like LinkedIn, Indeed, and Monster list thousands of crypto job openings. A boom in blockchain jobs is happening whether you come from a finance background or a software engineering background. You can also find blockchain jobs on Cryptocurrency Jobs. It’s ultimately up to you whether or not to jump into the crypto waters, but keep in mind that it’s not the only place you can invest. Likewise, cryptocurrencies aren’t the only digital assets to consider, as NFTs are also digital assets. Finally, make sure that if you decide to dive into digital currencies, you have a good wallet to store them. Frequently Asked Questions About Adding Crypto to Your Retirement Portfolio How can I fold crypto into my retirement plan? Self-directed IRAs and solo 401(k) plans are the most convenient ways to purchase crypto in retirement accounts. Bitcoin IRA, BitIRA, iTrust Capital, and IRA Financial, among others, offer crypto-backed IRAs. Nevertheless, retirement account giant Fidelity has made it possible for workers to put up to 20% of their 401(k) savings in bitcoin, all from the account’s main investment menu. Regardless of the exact plan you chose, the self-trading area of the platform allows you to trade digital assets inside your self-directed retirement account once your account is funded. Another option is to invest directly in digital currencies on a crypto exchange, such as IRA Financial. With the help of a U.S.-based exchange, investors can purchase all the significant cryptocurrencies directly with their retirement funds. The account holder’s responsibility is to control 100% of the account, and they can trade whenever they desire. What coins should I choose? For the most part, cryptocurrency experts prefer established coins like Bitcoin and Ethereum to upstarts. Coin selection is correlated with the level of risk an investor is willing to take. Bitcoin and Ethereum are the two biggest cryptos with the least risk. However, they are still subject to price fluctuations. For example, the value of bitcoin dropped from $65,000 in late 2021 and early 2022 to $31,000 within just a few months. In May 2022, it was trading at around $39,000. In addition, smaller, less established cryptocurrencies may have a higher level of volatility. How much money should I invest? According to a Yale study from 2019, between 4% and 6% of a portfolio should be allocated to cryptocurrency. The study included all cryptos, including bitcoin, XRP, and ether specifically. Financial advisors, CFPs, and other money experts increasingly recommend a crypto asset allocation of 1% to 5%. Some investors, however, may be able to allocate up to 10% of their risky investments to cryptocurrencies, and possibly even more for young investors. Ultimately, this depends on your age, level of wealth, and level of risk tolerance. What’s more, the allocation of crypto needs to remain in alignment with investment objectives. If I make money on crypto trades, do I have to pay taxes? Short answer, yes. Whether they are purchased, sold, or exchanged, Cryptocurrencies need to be declared to the IRS. Crypto investments are generally treated like other investments, including stocks and bonds, depending on your particular circumstances. If you didn’t sell or exchange your crypto for another type, you do not need to report it on your tax return. You also do not need to report buying or holding crypto. However, as with stocks and bonds, you’ll need to report any gains or losses you realize if you sell or exchange cryptos. What are the risks of investing in crypto? Investors in cryptos should be aware that there is almost no protection for them. Moreover, this digital currency is a concern due to its volatile and hype-driven nature. Specifically, there are valuation concerns, and prices can dramatically change quickly. Crypto scams should also be on your radar. Pump and dump schemes are often used to scam people into buying a specific token, resulting in its value rising. As a result, scammers sell out, dropping everyone’s price. Furthermore, criminal activity, including theft and hacking, is a possibility. Millions of dollars have been lost due to cyberattacks in cryptocurrency’s short history. As of now, you’re on your own based on the US government’s policy. Unlike bank accounts, crypto does not have deposit protection at this time. However, following President Biden’s March executive order, which directed agencies to examine digital assets for risks and benefits, this may begin to change. Article by John Rampton, Due About the Author John Rampton is an entrepreneur and connector. When he was 23 years old while attending the University of Utah he was hurt in a construction accident. His leg was snapped in half. He was told by 13 doctors he would never walk again. Over the next 12 months he had several surgeries, stem cell injections and learned how to walk again. During this time he studied and mastered how to make money work for you, not against you. He has since taught thousands through books, courses and written over 5000 articles online about finance, entrepreneurship and productivity. He has been recognized as the Top Online Influencers in the World by Entrepreneur Magazine, Finance Expert by Time and Annuity Expert by Nasdaq. He is the Founder and CEO of Due. Updated on May 9, 2022, 3:56 pm (function() { var sc = document.createElement("script"); sc.type = "text/javascript"; sc.async = true;sc.src = "//"; sc.charset = "utf-8";var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(sc, s); }()); window._F20 = window._F20 || []; _F20.push({container: 'F20WidgetContainer', placement: '', count: 3}); _F20.push({finish: true});.....»»

Category: blogSource: valuewalkMay 9th, 2022

"Quite Frankly Explosive": Wuhan Lab Allowed To Destroy "Secret Files" Under Its Partnership With US National Lab

"Quite Frankly Explosive": Wuhan Lab Allowed To Destroy 'Secret Files' Under Its Partnership With US National Lab Authored by Eva Fu via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours), The Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) has the right to make a partnering U.S. lab wipe all data arising from their collaborative work, a legal document reveals. An aerial view shows the P4 laboratory at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan in China's central Hubei Province on April 17, 2020. (HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP via Getty Images) A memorandum of understanding (MOU) of cooperation, signed between the Wuhan lab and the Galveston National Laboratory at the University of Texas Medical Branch, makes it obligatory for each of the two labs to delete “secret files” or materials upon the request of the other party. “The party is entitled to ask the other to destroy and/or return the secret files, materials, and equipment without any backups,” states the MOU obtained by U.S. Right to Know, a nonprofit investigative research group focused on public health, through a freedom of information request. The MOU focused on promoting research and training cooperation between the two labs. It was signed in 2017 and stays in effect through this October. But the confidentiality terms would remain binding even after the agreement’s five-year-duration expires, the agreement states. The document goes on to broadly define what materials are to be treated as “confidential,” opening the door to potentially all documents and data from any collaboration being subject to a deletion request. “All cooperation and exchange documents, details and materials shall be treated as confidential info by the parties,” the MOU states. The WIV has been at the center of the controversy due to growing speculation that the virus that causes COVID-19, which has now killed millions around the globe, may have leaked from the facility. The lab has denied these allegations but Beijing has blocked international investigators to data and records from the facility thus preventing any meaningful probe into the hypothesis. WIV and the the Galveston National Laboratory formally declared their partnership the following year to “streamline future scientific and operational collaborations on dangerous pathogens,” according to a joint announcement in the journal Science. Experts said the MOU terms about data removal raise alarm bells and can potentially constitute a breach of the law. “The clause is quite frankly explosive,” Reuben Guttman, a partner at Guttman, Buschner & Brooks PLLC who focuses on ensuring the integrity of government programs, told Right to Know. “Anytime I see a public entity, I would be very concerned about destroying records.” “You can’t just willy nilly say, ‘well, you know, the Chinese can tell us when to destroy a document.’ It doesn’t work like that,” he added. “There has to be a whole protocol.” Christopher Smith, a spokesperson for University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB), told the Right to Know that the lab was “built by the National Institutes of Health to help combat global health threats.” “As a government-funded entity, UTMB is required to comply with applicable public information law obligations, including the preservation of all documentation of its research and findings.” The Epoch Times has contacted the UTMB and the lab. The P4 laboratory of Wuhan Institute of Virology is seen behind a fence during the visit by the World Health Organization (WHO) team tasked with investigating the origins of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Wuhan, Hubei province, China, on Feb. 3, 2021. (Thomas Peter/Reuters) Under Scrutiny The Galveston National Laboratory is one of two federally-funded university-based highest-level biosecurity labs in the United States. It began collaborating with the WIV in 2013, a cooperation that entails training WIV scientists and conducting joint research programs. The then-Galveston lab director James Le Duc, who retired last year, made multiple trips over the years to WIV. The Galveston lab was also among the first in the world to receive samples of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly three weeks after Le Duc urged his Chinese counterparts to share the material. The revelations contained in the 2017 MOU appear to contradict claims from WIV scientists that they would never scrub critical research information. Chinese virologist Shi Zhengli, who heads the Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases at the WIV, had characterized allegations that her lab would delete such data as “baseless and appalling.” “Even if we gave them all the records, they would still say we have hidden something or we have destroyed the evidence,” she said in a February interview with MIT Technology Review. Chinese virologist Shi Zhengli is seen inside the P4 laboratory in Wuhan, China, on Feb. 23, 2017. (Johannes Eisele/AFP via Getty Images) In September 2019, months before several of its researchers allegedly fell ill with COVID-like symptoms, the facility took its main database of virus samples offline. The Wuhan lab’s safety standards have also attracted scrutiny since the pandemic broke out from the city. Footage from 2017 showed that some researchers from the facility were feeding a bat while wearing only surgical gloves, and at least one researcher wore only a pair of regular glasses and a surgical mask when out collecting bat samples. In April 2020, the Department of Education launched a probe into Galveston National Laboratory’s ties with the Wuhan lab. The Epoch Times has contacted the department for comment. That same month, Le Duc had asked Shi to review a draft briefing he prepared for the university and the Congressional staff investigating the issue. “Please review carefully and make any changes that you would like. I want this to be as accurate as possible and I certainly do not want to misrepresent any of your valuable contributions,” he wrote in an email to Shi that Right to Know obtained. Shi one day earlier declined to talk with Le Duc over the phone “[d]ue to the complicated situation,” but insisted that the virus “is not a leaky [sic] from our lab or any other labs.” Smith, UTMB’s director of media relations, had told the investigative group that “the information Dr. Le Duc wanted Dr. Shi to review was a description of her research on coronaviruses as he understood it.” In corresponding with others, Le Duc nonetheless acknowledged that he considered a lab accident a possible source of the pandemic. “It is certainly possible that a lab accident was the source of the epidemic and I also agree that we can’t trust the Chinese government,” he wrote on April 10, 2020, according to another email obtained by the group. Tyler Durden Thu, 04/21/2022 - 16:20.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytApr 21st, 2022

They Left Guatemala for Opportunities in the United States. Now They Want to Help Others Stay

'The money all goes back to the U.S. eventually. None of it stays here to develop the local economy. So none of the people want to stay either.' Letty Barán has an uneasy feeling when she gazes at the hills of Quetzaltenango. All around this southwestern highland region of Guatemala, which is the starting point for many of the more than 1,000 Guatemalans who leave the country every day for the U.S., elaborate houses are popping up. Three-story homes with neoclassical facades and French windows tower over their cinder-block neighbors. Dubbed “remittance architecture,” the structures are built with money sent home by migrants. And to Barán, who left the town of El Palmar in Quetzaltenango for the U.S. in 1990 and regularly returns to visit, the houses are a symbol of the trap in which Guatemala is caught. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] “When I look at them, I think, first, how great that someone has been able to build their dream house. But then, how sad,” says Barán, 50. The houses that look so much like investments actually eat cash. Built by remittances, many sit on uneven ground in areas at risk of landslides, or in places disconnected from sewers and roads. Often, the grand homes remain empty, as migrants opt to stay in the U.S. and their families prefer the comfort of their neighborhoods. Read More: The Migration Journey to the U.S. Continues Despite Complicated Border Policy In a country that is losing tens of thousands of its citizens to migration every year, 9 in 10 residents leave because of a lack of economic opportunity. Every year, the estimated 3 million Guatemalans in the U.S. send vast amounts of money home to try to improve life for their families. In 2021, buoyed by the Biden Administration’s stimulus package, remittances to Guatemala reached a record $15.3 billion—making up 17.8% of the nation’s entire economy (compared with 9.2% in 2011). But every year, the remittances, along with tens of millions of dollars in U.S. aid, fail to improve the situation at home. And the flow of people northward gets stronger. The swell of migrants has stirred endless noisy debate in the U.S. But their money moves silently, largely ignored in policy and rhetoric alike. The residents of El Palmar say changing that is key to breaking the cycle of migration. In late 2018, Barán and her son Danny, who stayed in Guatemala, joined around 30 others in setting up the country’s first migrant co-op: organizing via WhatsApp and Zoom, the members, split between people in El Palmar and their relatives in the U.S., pool a portion of their remittances together. They offer loans to members who have less cash, and share knowledge about starting businesses and building homes, enabling all of the members to launch projects that grow both members’ wealth and the local economy. “The co-ops are building a culture of savings and credit between migrants and their families, and creating a new source of leadership on development,” says Rodulfo Santizo, founder of Prima-veral Inc., a U.S.-based nonprofit helping migrants to set up remittance co-ops. Daniele Volpe for TIMEBarán’s stepsister Amelia Ixcoy (not pictured) runs a bakery supported by the El Palmar cooperative The idea borrows from collective remittance programs by Mexican migrants in the late 20th century. If it succeeds, the project could not only change the lives of every person in El Palmar, but also start to transform Guatemala’s economy—and its relationship with the U.S. The co-op holds around 500,000 quetzales—around $65,000—and has so far invested in 10 of its members’ new businesses, including carpentry shops, bakeries, and bookstores. The aim is to eventually enlist all 29,000 of El Palmar’s residents and their relatives, to funnel as much of the money earned in the U.S. as possible into making the town a better place to live. Read More: Title 42 is Ending in May, But These Migrants Can’t Wait That Long El Palmar’s co-op is part of a growing movement to turn Guatemala’s unprecedented flow of remittances into lasting change for the country. Two other southern towns have set up co-ops, and 13 more are in the process of doing so, according to Primaveral Inc. MayaPlus, a Guatemalan mobile-banking app launched in 2021, is reducing the fees migrants pay to send remittances to banks and giving them greater control over their funds. Such efforts are building on financial-education programs that foreign aid groups began running in Guatemala in 2016, aimed at helping remittance recipients formalize and invest their money. The goal of these efforts is simple, says Danny, who used money sent back by his mother to start a successful grocery store in Quetzaltenango: “We want to improve things, to create work for everyone, so people don’t have to leave.” Willy Barreno knows the forces that drive Guatemalans north, and he also knows how hard it is to return. Barreno returned to Guatemala from the U.S. in 2010, with 14 years of experience cooking in successful restaurants from New Mexico to Chicago. Back in Quetzaltenango, he opened his own restaurant, La Red, serving Mexican dishes infused with Guatemalan flavors and ingredients. He dreamed of using produce from local farmers and employing many other returned migrants. But today La Red is hanging by a thread. Barreno says he relies on donations from friends and family to keep it open week to week. “This is the worst failure of my life,” he tells TIME over a Zoom call, shaking his head. Barreno says businesses like his have struggled to compete with the major U.S. chains, like Taco Bell, McDonald’s, and Domino’s, that have proliferated in his city since he left in 1996. And he says the government has failed to support the growth of Guatemalan businesses, focusing instead on attracting foreign companies, like Walmart. Most things in Quetzaltenango come from the U.S.: the clothes in its many thrift stores, the electronics in its markets, the old cars on its streets, the money in people’s pockets. Daniele Volpe for TIMEChef Willy Barreno (center) in the kitchen of his restaurant La Red. “Remittances are like rain,” Barreno says. “Right now it’s raining a lot, but the rain comes from the sea—the U.S.—and the money all goes back there eventually. None of it stays here to develop the local economy. So none of the people want to stay either.” The economics are stark. The average monthly minimum wage in Guatemala is around $420, compared with almost $2,600 before tax in California. Pandemic–related business closures have made even those who were relatively well-off consider migrating, says Rosario Martinez, a researcher at the Guatemala City chapter of the Latin American Social Sciences Institute. “For a long time it was mostly poorer women from rural areas with little education who would go to work in cleaning,” she says. “Now we’re seeing professionals, people with midlevel studies or even university degrees, that because of the pandemic lost their jobs. We’re losing our youth.” Read More: Why Are So Many Migrants Leaving Guatemala? A Crisis in the Coffee Industry But only one-fifth of Guatemalan migrants to the U.S. intend to move there permanently, according to a 2018 survey by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB); that’s compared with half of Salvadorans and one third of Hondurans. Most Guatemalans, migration experts say, plan to spend only a few years earning money to pay for their children’s education or help their parents build a house, and then return to a new and better life. Barán, who worked as a hotel maid in Washington, D.C., during her early years in the U.S., sent her mother money for a “small, humble” house and to invest in local businesses, which Danny now runs. Barán now lives with her other three children in Arlington, Va., and works mostly as a notary. She’s not sure if she’ll return, but if she did, she could have a comfortable life. It doesn’t always work out that way. “I’ve heard so many painful stories from friends who return home after years and get the shock of their lives when they find their family has spent everything,” Barán says. A 2020 study by the U.N. Economic Commission for Latin America- and the Caribbean, based on surveys in a southern Guatemalan region, found that 57.1% of remittances go toward daily consumption, with 8.2% spent on building or renting homes, and only 5.4% invested or saved. The money spent on consumption is hardly wasted: remittances make up almost half of household income for those who receive them, according to the IDB, crucial for covering the cost of food, clothes, and other necessities. But a lack of financial education can reduce the returns that migrants and their families make on their remittances, says Rut Urizar, financial-education coordinator at the Inter-American Dialogue, a think tank. Ill-fated remittance architecture is a key example, Urizar says, because saving money to build a home is often the first goal for migrants arriving in the U.S. But some recipients lack experience handling large sums. One young mother whom the Dialogue consulted with in Huehuetenango cried after burning through around $13,000 sent by her husband in a year. “She was looking after her 3-year-old daughter, and the daughter had an iPhone. And she said it’s the second phone, because the girl broke the first one,” Urizar says. Since 2016, the Dialogue, working with partners including Cities Alliance, a U.N.-funded coalition on urban poverty; the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation; and the U.S. Agency for International Development, has established financial-education programs in more than 30 Guatemalan towns where migration to the U.S. is common. Locals are trained as financial educators, and set up stalls inside bank branches where people go to deposit their remittances or collect wages. In 2020, the programs were responsible for formalizing $2.4 million worth of savings, and opening 3,000 financial products. They also help participants reach mortgage advisers—who will assess the value of their land—and access small-business coaches. This kind of financial education works because it speaks to people in their language, says Jorge Mario de León, who has been consulting since 2016 out of a branch of Micoope, a savings and credit union, in Salcajá, Quetzaltenango. Sometimes that’s literal: the multilingual team offers sessions in Spanish and in local Indigenous languages like Mam and K’iche’. But educators also use their cultural knowledge of their communities to connect and drive their message home. De León has helped people set up businesses and build homes. He also says he has persuaded some not to migrate, drawing on his own experiences with a people trafficker 22 years ago. “When I went to the U.S., it cost 35,000 quetzales [roughly $4,500]. Now it costs three times that,” he says. “So I say to people, is it worth investing that much in the journey? Why don’t you invest it in a business here? I was lost in the mountains for a month. I had to drink water from a puddle to survive. Don’t do it.” Discussing the importance of migration and remittances to the Guatemalan economy puts the national government in an awkward position. President Alejandro Giammattei has vowed to crack down on people smugglers and reduce the exodus, in line with U.S. goals. But at the same time, as the Guatemalan daily Prensa Libre has noted, remittances are a crucial “escape valve” for millions in a country where more than half of families live in poverty. Much of Guatemala’s rapid economic growth over the past decade is due to more citizens going to the U.S. and sending money home. “We’re talking about billions of dollars coming into the economy that the government is just kind of gifted every year,” Kathryn Klaas, then an associate at the Dialogue’s Migration, Remittances, and Development Program, told TIME in 2021. “That means that the urgency of creating sources of income that are enough for people to live on in Guatemala—which means formalizing the economy, creating a living wage for people, having regulations—that’s one agenda point that the government doesn’t have to deal with.” Daniele Volpe for TIMENeighbors of Cajolá come here to receive the remittances from their relatives who live in the United States, on April 8. The government has so far been slow to establish formal programs designed to capitalize on remittances. Its current $200 million plan to reduce undocumented migration, though heavily focused on helping to generate new businesses and jobs for people in high-migration regions, doesn’t mention the money flowing into those areas from abroad and the role it could play. Local development experts are doubtful that the plan will be more successful than previous efforts. But officials may be waking up to remittances’ potential. Guatemala is undergoing a rapid period of urbanization, projected to take the proportion of people living in cities from 54% now—among the lowest in Latin America—to around 65% in 2030, according to U.N. estimates. At an event organized by the Dialogue in July, Guatemala’s vice minister for housing said helping citizens manage the money from remittances to build good, well-ordered neighborhoods would be key to the nation’s development. The ministry plans to work with Guatemalan consulates to make sure migrants are using their money on “supervised projects, with some support [from the state] so they don’t end up being structurally unsound,” he said. Many want more from the government, though, says Quique Godoy, a radio host and economist who discusses remittances once a week on his show on Guatemala’s Radio Infinita. He argues that officials should follow the example of Mexico’s government, which in the 1990s established so-called three-for-one programs: organized groups of migrants in the U.S. would fund projects in their neighborhoods back home, and for every dollar they spent, national, regional, and municipal governments would each put in $1, turbocharging the local development the migrants were leading. “We have to give incentives for migrants, so that instead of giving their money to people for consumption, they decide that they give part of it to a community investment project,” Godoy says. Ideally, Guatemala would start a four-for-one program, supported by local businesses and banks, Godoy says. “Because that will create more consumption in the long run, which benefits business.” But for now the migrants themselves are leading the way, says Primaveral’s Santizo. He wants to see all 340 of Guatemala’s municipalities set up credit co-ops. “We have [aid agencies] expressing interest in working with us,” he says, “but if they don’t, then we the migrants will do it ourselves. We’ll do our own development.” —With reporting by Eloise Barry/London.....»»

Category: topSource: timeApr 14th, 2022

The Demographics Of Financial Doom

The Demographics Of Financial Doom Authored by Charles Hugh Smith via OfTwoMinds blog, Whether we admit it or not, collapse is the default "solution." That destiny has already written by demographics. The saying "demographics is destiny" encapsulates the reality that demographics--rising or falling trends of births and deaths--energize or constrain economies and societies regardless of other conditions. Demographics are long-term trends, but the trends can change relatively rapidly while policies remain fixed in the distant past. This disconnect between demographic reality and policies has momentous future consequences. An appropriate analogy is the meteor wiping out the dinosaurs; in the case of demographics, this equates to the complete financial collapse of the retirement and healthcare systems. As this article below mentions, extrapolating the high birth rates and falling death rates of the 1960s led to predictions of global famine. As death rates declined and women's educational and economics prospects brightened, birth rates fell, a trend that now encompasses most of the world. As a result of the Green Revolution (hybrid seeds and hydrocarbon-based fertilizers), the Earth supports more than twice as many humans as were alive in the 1960s (3.5 billion then, 7.9 billion now). Now the problem is a shrinking working-age population that will be unable to support the financial and healthcare promises made to the retired generations. Birth rates in developed nations have fallen below replacement rates, which means populations are shrinking and populations are aging rapidly, i.e. the average age of the populace is rising.. One side effect discussed in this article is the decline of the cohort of young males and the rise in the average age reduces the likelihood of conflict: Children of Men' is really happening--Why Russia can’t afford to spare its young soldiers anymore. I remember reading similar research in the mid-1970s that identified a strong correlation between the relative size of the cohort of young males and the likelihood of war. If the cohort was above a specific percentage of the total population, war was likely. One example was Germany in the 1930, which had a large cohort of young males under the age of 25. This may partially explain the increasing reliance on economic war (sanctions) and cyberwarfare--nations no longer have large enough cohorts of young males to field armies where high casualties are a reality. What the article mentions in passing--the demographic impact of social values and political power--is worth exploring. In broad brush, several trends are visible in many nations and cultures. One is that having children has gone from being an economic necessity or benefit to a tremendous financial liability in the developed world. A Danish friend once commented that only wealthy families could afford to have three children now in Northern European countries. The same can be said of the U.S. and many other countries, once we consider the higher demands now placed on parents. Where in the good old days of previous generations, parents were deemed adequate if they provided a roof over the kids' heads, basic meals and clothing. Education was left up to the public schools, and public college was low-cost, should the child want to continue their education. (The University of Hawaii tuition was $89 and student fees were $27, for a grand total of $117 per semester from 1971 to 1975, $780 in today's dollars. I was able to support myself, pay all my university expenses and carry a full class load on a part-time job--in one of the two most expensive cities in the nation, Honolulu.) In a fully globalized "winner take most" economy, parents with aspirations for a top 20% career and lifestyle for their children have a much more demanding burden. Parents seeking to give their children a leg up must provide costly enrichment lessons and juggle complicated schedules of after-school classes. Prestigious universities now expect more than mere academic excellence; applicants must show evidence of leadership, civic engagement, etc., and even public universities are outrageously expensive. Another trend is the cultural bias of favoring the elderly in terms of government support. As workers increasingly lived long enough to actually retire, social and political values supported government funded pensions and healthcare for retirees. In the high birth rates 1940, 50s and 60s, governments greatly increased benefits for the elderly / retired, as everyone assumed there would always be 4 or 5 workers for every retiree. Relatively few people lived to age 80 or older. The steady decline in birth rates and the steady increase in longevity have dropped that ratio to less than 2 workers for every retiree. In the US, there are 127 million fulltime workers and 69 million Social Security beneficiaries (including disabled). That is less than 2 fulltime workers for every beneficiary. In a recession, Boomers will continue retiring en masse while the workforce will shrink. A ratio of 1.5 workers to every beneficiary isn't that far away. Is there any doubt this ratio is unsustainable financially? No. These two trends are a double-whammy on those young adults having children: the costs of raising kids is much higher, the expectations are much higher while the government support is heavily weighted to the elderly populace, which is exploding as people now live into their 80s and 90s. (My Mom is 93, my Mom-in-law who we care for here at home is 91, our neighbor's Mom is 99, and so on.) We have elderly friends who retired from federal government jobs at age 55 after 30 years of service and have collected 40 years of retirement. Is this financially sustainable? No. The actuarial foundations of Social Security and Medicare were based on 4 or 5 workers per beneficiary and average lifespans around 70. Retirees were expected to collect benefits for 5 to 7 years, not 25 to 30 years. These systems are fundamentally unsustainable at current retirement ages (55 for many government workers, 62 for "early retirement" Social Security and 67 for full benefits and Medicare at 65), current longevity trends and less than 2 workers per retiree. The only way to reverse these demographic trends would be for government support for retirees taking a back seat to government support of children and young parents, greatly reducing the financial burden of having children. The only way an economy can support a massive population of elderly is if there are enough young workers entering the workforce to keep the society and economy functioning. Forward-looking populations would realize supporting parents and children is the only way to support future retirees. But humans aren't very forward-looking; we want all the good stuff now. So the elderly support politicians who promise their benefits are sacrosanct and untouchable--except to increase them. Almost all elderly people vote while a much lower percentage of young people vote. So the government continues supporting the elderly even as the population of elderly explodes and the means to provide this support are in free-fall. Retirement ages have barely budged, increasing a mere two years in 40 years from 65 to 67, while lifespans have greatly advanced and the worker-retiree ratio has collapsed. Open-ended healthcare expenses are an invitation for profiteering, fraud and unnecessary or even harmful medications and procedures. By some estimates, 40% of the $1.5 trillion dollars spent on Medicare and Medicaid annually is paper-shuffling, fraud and needless medications and procedures. A third trend is female workers wanting a fulfilling career and children, too. With childcare costing $25,000 or more annually, one parent may essentially be working just to pay the childcare costs for two children. A fourth trend is relying on high birth rate immigrants to substitute for native-born workers is no longer viable, as birth rates have plummeted in nations that provide immigrants. As the saying has it, something's gotta give. Doing nothing will lead to the collapse of the programs benefiting the elderly while the birth rate continues declining. All these values and programs assumed high birth rates, high worker-retiree ratios and modest costs for raising children were forever. They weren't. Now we need a new set of values that reduce or eliminate the financial burdens on parents raising children. It would be nice if we could afford to pay for everything we want but printing money to do so just collapses the entire system. Personally, I would raise all retirement ages to match the rise in lifespans, limit Social Security benefits to those with no other pension or retirement income, limit publicly funded extraordinary healthcare measures for people over the average lifespan, tax revenues rather than labor, and pay all childcare and after-school programs expenses currently paid by parents, plus a modest sum per child that can only be spent on after-school enrichment classes and programs. That seems common-sense to me, but I'm open to other permutations of hard choices. Hard choices lead to better outcomes than collapse, but few have any stomach for hard choices. Politicians who make hard choices that require sacrifices of powerful lobbies and voting blocks lose elections. The fantasy that we can "print our way out of any problem" is strong because it's so convenient and apparently so successful--at first. Whether we admit it or not, collapse is the default "solution." That destiny has already written by demographics. *  *  * My new book is now available at a 10% discount this month: Global Crisis, National Renewal: A (Revolutionary) Grand Strategy for the United States (Kindle $8.95, print $20). If you found value in this content, please join me in seeking solutions by becoming a $1/month patron of my work via Tyler Durden Fri, 04/08/2022 - 17:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeApr 8th, 2022

Everything You Need To Know About A Charitable Gift Annuity

I was pleasantly surprised to learn that my alma mater offers a charitable gift annuity. Why did this grab my attention? Well, like any other type of annuity, I would exchange cash or securities for a fixed lifetime income. Here’s where things diverge. Instead of working with an insurance company, this payment would go to […] I was pleasantly surprised to learn that my alma mater offers a charitable gift annuity. Why did this grab my attention? Well, like any other type of annuity, I would exchange cash or securities for a fixed lifetime income. Here’s where things diverge. Instead of working with an insurance company, this payment would go to my university. And, whatever remains will go to my alma mater. if (typeof jQuery == 'undefined') { document.write(''); } .first{clear:both;margin-left:0}.one-third{width:31.034482758621%;float:left;margin-left:3.448275862069%}.two-thirds{width:65.51724137931%;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element input{border:0;border-radius:0;padding:8px}form.ebook-styles .af-element{width:220px;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer{width:115px;float:left;margin-left: 6px;}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer input.submit{width:115px;padding:10px 6px 8px;text-transform:uppercase;border-radius:0;border:0;font-size:15px}form.ebook-styles input.submit{width:115px}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy{width:100%;font-size:12px;margin:10px auto 0}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy p{font-size:11px;margin-bottom:0}form.ebook-styles .af-body input.text{height:40px;padding:2px 10px !important} form.ebook-styles .error, form.ebook-styles #error { color:#d00; } form.ebook-styles .formfields h1, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-logo, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-footer { display: none; } form.ebook-styles .formfields { font-size: 12px; } form.ebook-styles .formfields p { margin: 4px 0; } Get The Full Warren Buffett Series in PDF Get the entire 10-part series on Warren Buffett in PDF. Save it to your desktop, read it on your tablet, or email to your colleagues (function($) {window.fnames = new Array(); window.ftypes = new Array();fnames[0]='EMAIL';ftypes[0]='email';}(jQuery));var $mcj = jQuery.noConflict(true); Q4 2021 hedge fund letters, conferences and more In short, this could be a way for me to not only supplement my retirement income but also give something back. While appealing, however, a charitable gift annuity isn’t for everyone. So, before you make such a commitment, here’s everything you need to know about a charitable gift annuity. What Is a Charitable Gift Annuity? Charitable gift annuities are contracts between you and nonprofit organizations, mainly colleges and universities. By doing so, you can make a large donation to your favorite charity, while also receiving fixed payments for the rest of your life. This type of annuity may be funded with cash, stocks, mutual funds, bonds, or any other marketable investment like real estate. As a result, the donor may be able to deduct a portion of their donation from their taxes. The contract can be amended to include one more beneficiary or annuitant. That person will receive lifetime payments along with you. After you die, their payments will continue until the beneficiary dies. Thousands of universities and nonprofit organizations raise money through annuities. Although specific details of the contracts will vary by entity. Furthermore, while gift annuity payments are supported by nonprofit institutions in good faith, no government agency insures them. Most charities require an initial donation of at least $10,000 to $25,000 in order to fund these annuities. Most charities require recipients to be at least 65 years old before payments begin. However, my alma mater recommends that you’re at least 60 years of age at the time of the gift. A planned giving plan such as this may be advantageous if you would like to make philanthropic contributions during your retirement years. Organizations Using Charitable Gift Annuities Charitable, educational, and religious organizations are all 501(c)(3) organizations that can use CGAs. Although not all nonprofits accept CGAs, many of them do. According to the Internal Revenue Service, 501(c)(3) organizations are “charitable, religious, educational, scientific, literary, testing for public safety, fostering national or international amateur sports competition, and preventing cruelty to children or animals.” Under the same definition, private shareholders cannot be the primary beneficiaries of 501(c)(3) organizations. Other groups known for offering charitable gift annuities include: Colleges and universities Community foundations Nonprofits Religious groups National health organizations Environmental groups Arts and social service organizations Arts and social service organizations Hundreds of organizations offering gift annuities can be found on the American Council on Gift Annuities (ACGA) website, which oversees the use of CGAs. According to the ACGA, there are at least 4,000 organizations that offer charitable gift annuities. Charity organizations are required to send CGA annuitants IRS Form 1099R and declare which contributions (cash or property) are taxable, nontaxable, or capital gains. How a Charitable Gift Annuity Works A charitable gift annuity works much like any other kind of annuity. The annuitant pays one lump sum and receives regular payments, usually quarterly, in exchange. The payments stop upon their death, and all remaining assets are turned over to the annuity writer. With a charitable gift annuity, however, the balance is retained by the charity or nonprofit as a gift. This is the main difference between a CGA and other annuities where the remaining balances are turned over to the insurance or annuity company you bought the annuity from. It is possible to fund a charitable gift annuity with cash, securities, or any other asset. The initial investment may be as little as $5,000. Although, in most cases, this would be much larger in the $10,000 to $25,000 range. Most colleges and universities offer this kind of gift plan, as do most nonprofits. The number of payments will vary depending on a number of factors, starting with the annuitant’s age. It is common for monthly payments to increase (and decrease) with the age of the annuitant. In addition to the assets donated, the annuity payments are backed by the charity’s assets, not just the contributions. It is common for actuarial calculations used to determine payout amounts to provide for a residual amount for the charity to receive after the beneficiary dies. What’s more, it’s guaranteed that the payment rate in your contract will not fluctuate or adjust with inflation. And, your charitable donation will be deductible partially as a tax expense the year following the donation. Charitable Gift Annuity Rates Charitable gift annuities are frequently offered by nonprofits that use rates set by the American Council on Gift Annuities (ACGA). The annuity rates are intended for you to receive an enticing payment stream while also providing a gift to your favorite charity. Choosing when to start making payments is up to you. In other words, you can receive payments immediately or at a later date. And, again, the size of your payments will vary depending on your age. Annuitants who are older typically receive higher payments. For a single-donor annuity, the American Council on Gift Annuities suggests the following payout rates based on age: 60 – 3.9% 65 – 4.2% 70 – 4.7% 75 – 5.4% 80 – 6.5% 85 – 7.6% 90 – 8.6% An example would be if you established a $100,000 gift annuity at the age of 70. If so, you would receive $4,700 annually. You should also be aware that the joint gift annuity payment rate is lower than the single gift annuity payment rate. In addition to your age, the other beneficiary’s age is also considered. Suppose you’re 70 years old and your spouse is 65 years old, then the payout rate is 4 percent. If your spouse is 60 and you are 70, your payout rate is 3.7 percent. Still struggling, here is our annuities for dummies guide. Benefits of Charitable Gift Annuities for Donors A charitable gift annuity offers many benefits to donors, such as; The income from annuities is guaranteed until the donor dies. It is possible for donors to support a philanthropic cause and profit at the same time. There are many types of assets that can be donated, including cash, securities, and personal property Donations to charitable organizations have a number of tax advantages. Contributions are eligible for tax credits that lower income taxes in the year of the donation. Because they are considered a return on the original principal, portions of each gift annuity payment are also tax-free. The tax liability on gifts of appreciated securities and personal property is reduced or eliminated. Charitable Gift Annuities for Charities Charities also benefit from charitable gift annuities in the following ways; CGAs entice hesitant donors to donate by providing something in return for their donation. Long-term relationships with donors are fostered by gift annuities. Donations to charities are flexible. Firstly, they can use the donation immediately or invest in the donation. Secondly, they use the earnings to make annuity payments. Instead of the insurance company receiving the balance of the annuity after the annuitant dies, the charity receives the balance when the donor passes away. Potential Drawbacks of Charitable Gift Annuities Having a small income for the rest of your life means you can give money to charity and you get a steady income. On the downside, however, charitable gift annuities are not inflation-protected. Getting inflation-adjusted payments is often possible with a regular annuity by paying extra or receiving smaller payments at first. As such, you will get a lot less money from a $100 or $1,000 annuity check in 20 or 30 years if you receive payments for 20 or 30 years. Annuities vary in size depending on your age at the time of setting up the contract. So, you will receive smaller payments if you are young, and therefore likely to collect more. Nevertheless, the payments will be larger for older folks who are more likely to pass away sooner. Similarly, if a couple wishes to make a charitable donation, the charity must wait to receive the remainder of the gift until both spouses have passed away. Some other drawbacks of CTAs include; An annuity is created by irrevocably parting with donated funds. Payments from an annuity are subject to income tax. Because the primary purpose is for nonprofit support, payments could be lower than with a non-charitable annuity. Unless you set up multiple annuities, you cannot support several charities at the same time. Tax Deductions from Charitable Gift Annuities It is necessary to itemize your federal tax return in order to qualify for a charitable annuity tax break. If you don’t, your deduction won’t be available. Please note that only a portion of the gift is deductible. What’s more, a tax deduction for transferring money to charity usually ranges from 25 to 55 percent, according to Kiplinger. Taking your contribution amount and subtracting the present value of the lifetime payments you expect to receive, you can calculate your tax deduction. Based on life expectancy tables and annual earnings assumed by the IRS, the present value of your payments is calculated. How Are Charitable Gift Annuity Payments Taxed? In spite of the initial tax deduction, your lifetime payments will still be subject to tax. Donating cash can give you the opportunity to return a portion of your principal tax-free each year. Otherwise, ordinary income tax will apply. Typically, you avoid a large portion of the capital gains liability if you are donating appreciated securities, like real estate or stocks. However, they must be spread out the remainder over your lifetime. Since long-term capital gains are typically taxed less than ordinary income, this is advantageous. With that in mind, always learn more about the taxation of gift annuity payments from a financial advisor or representative of the designated charity. Regulations for Charitable Annuities Most states have passed laws that govern charitable gift annuities. As such, both the charity that offers them and the donor must comply with the laws of their respective states. If the charity receives a charitable gift annuity contribution, for example, some of the assets can be immediately spent down. Nevertheless, it must ensure that it maintains an adequate reserve to meet its obligations to provide annuity payments and state regulations that specifically govern them. The American Council on Gift Annuities provides gift annuity rates to charities that write charitable gift annuities. These institutions, in turn, follow these general guidelines and regulations. So, let’s say an annuitant lives only as long as their target life expectancy. An annuity regulation stipulates that the “residuum” remaining after the payments are made (the “remainder”) is at least 50% of the initial gift amount. Using the tentative gift annuity contract rate, it determines if the residual gift to charity is at least 20% of the funds transferred. Using standardized rates deters charities from competing with one another and ensures that a significant portion of the transfer goes to charities. However, some organizations determine their own rates based on their previous investment experience, charitable residuum goals, and state requirements for investment/reserves. Frequently Asked Questions About Charitable Gift Annuities 1. What is a gift annuity agreement? This type of gift annuity agreement is not a trust. But rather a long-term contract between a nonprofit organization and a single individual or couple (annuitant(s)). All payments will be determined by the terms of this contract, including the amount, timing, and rate. If you are interested in supporting a nonprofit that offers charitable gift annuities, the fundraising or planned giving departments may be able to provide information about which rates are offered. A fundraising department or a planned giving department is normally the point of contact as well. An annuity agreement with a single organization can only support that one organization, so a charitable gift annuity can’t support multiple organizations at the same time. 2. Who establishes gift annuities? Retirement donors who buy gift annuities tend to want to increase their cash flow, secure payments that won’t change and reduce their tax burden. These are some circumstances when gift annuities might make sense; The payments you need to make should not be affected by interest rates or stock prices, and they should not be outlived. You would like to increase your cash flow from a CD or other fixed-income investment at a low-interest rate. Rather than having probate proceedings delay payments to a loved one, you would rather ensure they are made in an efficient and tax-effective manner. You own appreciated mutual fund or stock shares, feel tempted to sell some of them and reinvest the money to earn more income, but do not want to pay capital gains tax. 3. Can donors or charities sell gift annuities? Sometimes, charities can sell the CGAs they receive. The remainder of an annuity is usually given to charities after a donor passes away. The individual payments may not suffice in certain instances, such as a building project. A charity may decide to sell payments from a CGA if they need a lump sum paid immediately, rather than small payments over time. Annuitants cannot sell their rights to future payments from charitable gift annuities without the charity’s approval. Due to the fact that both parties must agree, and the sale can alter the tax benefit, such transactions are infrequent. 4. How many annuitants may receive payments on a gift annuity? There can be a single gift annuity or one that is based on two lives, such as a couple. For two beneficiaries, the annuity rate is always lower than for one. 5. Is a charitable gift annuity right for you? As with everything, charitable gift annuities have their own benefits and risks. If your charity is small or not yet well established, for instance, their ability to make future income payments may be in doubt. The charity must pay claims inclusive of all assets, not just reserve account assets, in order to receive future income payments. If you want an immediate tax deduction in addition to a lifetime income source, a charitable gift annuity may be a better choice. In addition, it may be a good option if you would like to reduce capital gains tax and make a substantial donation to a charity at the same time. Make sure you consult a financial professional before making any decisions. Article by John Rampton, Due About the Author John Rampton is an entrepreneur and connector. When he was 23 years old while attending the University of Utah he was hurt in a construction accident. His leg was snapped in half. He was told by 13 doctors he would never walk again. Over the next 12 months he had several surgeries, stem cell injections and learned how to walk again. During this time he studied and mastered how to make money work for you, not against you. He has since taught thousands through books, courses and written over 5000 articles online about finance, entrepreneurship and productivity. He has been recognized as the Top Online Influencers in the World by Entrepreneur Magazine, Finance Expert by Time and Annuity Expert by Nasdaq. He is the Founder and CEO of Due. 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Category: blogSource: valuewalkMar 30th, 2022

How China turned a Tiananmen Square memorial into one of the most sought-after sculptures in the world

The "Pillar of Shame" was meant to spread all around the world. It didn't — until now, thanks to its removal in Hong Kong. Danish sculptor Jens Galschiøt (right) with a Pillar of Shame.Mikkel Møller for Insider Last December, Hong Kong removed the Pillar of Shame, a memorial to the Tiananmen Square massacre. The removal only increased the monument's fame – and brought a flood of requests for replicas.  Creator Jens Galschiøt gave up his copyright to the sculpture, enabling 3D printers to make copies. HONG KONG – In the 1990s, a Danish sculptor launched an audacious project to pepper the earth with copies of a grotesque sculpture that depicted human bodies wreathed together in pain. The monument, known as the "Pillar of Shame," is constructed out of bronze, copper or concrete and stands atop a square plinth. It rises about 8 meters, or 26 feet, in all. Its creator, Jens Galschiøt, envisioned it as a "Nobel Prize of Injustice" and vowed to place replicas of the pillar all over the world to mark acts of genocide and murder. For a time, Galschiøt's effort was something of a success. He installed a copy of the pillar in Hong Kong in 1997 to commemorate the Tiananmen Square massacre, in which Chinese troops killed hundreds if not thousands of peaceful pro-democracy protesters. He landed a second copy in Mexico in 1999 to commemorate the slaughter of Indigenous people and a third in Brazil in 2000 to honor landless peasants killed by military police. But then the project stalled. For over two decades, it seemed no one was interested in getting a Pillar of Shame — that is, until now.These days, the 67-year-old sculptor is so inundated with requests for copies of his signature artwork that he needs a full-time apprentice just to manage the endless stream of emails and phone calls. He's being sought out for art exhibitions, speeches, interviews, and new Pillar of Shame installations around the world. At Galschiøt's foundry, about two hours outside of Copenhagen, Denmark, his team is working overtime to cast replicas of various sizes. He has also invited artists everywhere to help meet the demand for replicas by using 3D-printing technologies and a free blueprint of the sculpture."The Pillar of Shame in miniature.Mikkel Møller for InsiderThe spark that led to an explosion of interest in Galschiøt's project came in October, when Hong Kong University  ordered that the Pillar of Shame be removed from its longtime home on the school's campus — part of a larger effort to erase any public commemoration of the Tiananmen Square massacre.The sculpture's removal, carried out in the dead of night two days before Christmas, accomplished its goal of eliminating the controversial monument from public view. But it also unleashed something unexpected: China and Hong Kong authorities gave Galschiøt's struggling art project the sort of publicity that no amount of money and PR firms could buy. Galschiøt's Pillar of Shame was suddenly being discussed in The Washington Post and The New York Times and in outlets in Thailand, Iceland, Brazil, Turkey, Nigeria, Norway, Ireland, Germany, and Indonesia, to name just a few."They have made a big mistake," Galschiøt said in an interview. "Now, instead of one, they're getting hundreds of Pillars of Shame."A group of former US government officials is working to erect a full-size replica in front of the Chinese Embassy in Washington, DC. In Norway, there's a request to display a replica near the Nobel Peace Center in Oslo. In Taiwan, a pro-democracy group plans to unveil a 3D-printed model by June 4 to mark the 33rd anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre. An artists collective is planning to organize a worldwide tour with Galschiøt's pillar to raise awareness of Hong Kong's struggle for democracy.Makerwiz 3D-printing studio in Richmond Hill, Ontario. Source: Makerwiz.Galschiøt is also making smaller, 8.5-foot replicas in copper that he aims to hoist on top of plinths with plates dedicated to Tiananmen victims and Hong Kong's pro-democracy movement, installing them at universities. For everyone else — volunteers at his workshop and ordinary people who are inspired by Galschiøt's vision, or perhaps his tenacity — he has finished a batch of 60 bronze copies that are about a foot tall. He's working on another 40. "There's a lot of people who ask for a copy of that sculpture now," Galschiøt said.The nascent efforts are a cautionary tale of what happens when regimes try to censor art. "The rulers, tyrants know the power of art. That's why artists, poets, and musicians are the first ones they persecute and even kill," said Rose Tang, a Tiananmen survivor and artist. But, as one 3D printer who recently replicated Galschiøt's sculpture put it, "ideas can never be suppressed." Galschiøt's Pillar of Shame is finally an idea whose time has come. Except, rather than commemorating atrocities in spots across the globe, the monument now seems poised to become synonymous with one event above all others: the Tiananmen Square massacre and China's efforts to erase it from memory. A witness For more than two decades, anyone who visited the western edge of Hong Kong University's winding Pok Fu Lam campus would inevitably bump into Galschiøt's Pillar of Shame. It was situated off a major campus walkway, boxed inside a narrow atrium next to a popular student canteen. (Disclosure: The author teaches at Hong Kong University's journalism program.) As you looked up from your meal, your eyes would fall upon the Eiffel Tower-like heap of some 50 twisted bodies screaming in pain. Many of the faces looked like cadavers that had already breathed their last while others appeared to be in the act of dying; a man clutching a baby looked as if he was running away from some danger. Layers of thick orange paint flowed from the top down, turning yellow and peeling in places, giving the whole mass the hellish appearance of a pile of burning human flesh. The inscription "THE TIANANMEN MASSACRE" was etched in thick, blood-red letters on one side of the square base, above the date June 4, 1989. Directly to the left was another inscription that read, "the old cannot kill the young forever."Students gather around Galschiøt's Pillar of Shame sculpture in Hong Kong on October 12, 2021.Cezary Podkul for InsiderFor students who came to study here from mainland China, the pillar might be their first introduction to the Tiananmen massacre. On one side of the pillar's base, a plaque provided "A Brief History of the 1989 Beijing Pro-Democracy Movement." It recounted how the death of pro-reform Communist Party leader Hu Yaobang in April 1989 sparked mass demonstrations in favor of democratic reforms. Beijing's Tiananmen Square became a central gathering spot for students who waged a hunger strike to try to prompt a dialogue with Communist Party leaders. The government refused, declared martial law, and ultimately sent in military convoys to clear the square. On June 3 and 4, 1989, "several thousand soldiers forced their way via various routes into Beijing City, using guns and bullets to shoot unarmed citizens and students. Tanks were deployed to recover the Square," the plaque read. An official death toll was never confirmed. A 1990 report on the massacre by Amnesty International noted that Chinese authorities tallied some 200 civilian casualties, while Amnesty itself concluded that at least 1,000 people had been killed. Another more recent estimate based on a diplomatic cable declassified in 2017 pinned the number of civilian casualties at more than 10,000.Whatever the ultimate toll, there was no doubt in Rose Tang's mind that it had been a bloody day. Rose Tang in Tiananmen Square on May 21, 1989. At the time, she was a 20-year-old freshman in college.Rose Tang/HandoutTang was a freshman studying English at what was then known as the Beijing Second Foreign Languages Institute. She ditched classes in the spring of 1989 to join her classmates in Tiananmen Square to chant pro-democracy slogans, even though, she now says, she had very little idea of what democracy even meant. Her memoir of the events of June 4 describes bullets whizzing overhead, a stampede trampling over dead bodies, and the deafening noise of tanks moving in and crushing tents set up in the square. But there's one detail of the aftermath that helps explain why Galschiøt's sculpture found a loyal following in Hong Kong, which was a British colony until 1997. When Tang revisited Tiananmen Square some seven months after the massacre, she found no trace of what had happened there that day. There were no signs of blood stains or bullet holes from June 4, 1989, let alone any memorial. She walked around, trying to find proof to back up her memories. There were only a few armed soldiers patrolling the square as water trucks sprinkled water on the ground. "All I could see was the clean wet concrete ground glittering in street lights," she recalled in her memoir.Tang turned to a life of art and activism to help her cope with the events of that day. She has written poetry and music inspired by June 4, 1989, and toured with a band that performed songs that student protesters sang at Tiananmen Square. "Making music and using music to heal and mobilize people is my way of carrying on the true legacy of Tiananmen. Art is power. Performance is protest," she said.Tang eschewed making sculptures, though. "I just personally found it really hard to convey the experience of Tiananmen through visual art," she said. She admires Galschiøt for trying. Rose Tang at a Tiananmen Square massacre memorial in New York City on June 4, 2020.Thirdblade PhotographyBut something about Galschiøt's sculpture always puzzled Tang. On close inspection, the figures assembled on Galschiøt's pillar appeared to span the races. One could be excused for wondering whether this was all a mistake: A white man from Denmark created a sculpture to commemorate the killings of Chinese civilians, and he filled it with people from all over the world?'My Inner Beast'The international nature of the sculpture was precisely what Galschiøt had in mind when he began to sketch out the vision for his Pillar of Shame in the early 1990s. Galschiøt had turned to making sculptures in the 1980s after a career as a blacksmith at a Danish shipyard and a rebellious youth filled with drugs, travel, and a desire to distance himself from his father's communist sympathies. After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, he grew hopeful for a more egalitarian future but was soon dismayed by Serbian militias' mass rape of Muslim women in Bosnia and other atrocities. He became convinced that civilization is only a thin veneer that can crumble at any time and unleash an inner barbarism laid bare in such episodes. In 1993 he installed concrete sculptures of a pig dressed in a gentleman's overcoat in 20 cities across Europe. Titled "My Inner Beast," the project aimed to call attention to Europeans' mistreatment of ethnic minorities. The sculptures proved an unwelcome sight to governments that never asked for them. Most were torn down, and only a few remain standing today. Galschiøt's middle son, Kasper Galschiøt Markus, recalled eating "significantly more porridge" in the months that followed since Galschiøt nearly went broke paying for the project out of pocket. But profit wasn't the goal. The reaction to the sculpture became part of the story the art sought to tell, summarized by the motto, "It is not the foreigners but our reaction to the foreigners that threatens our civilization." Galschiøt preparing a Pillar of Shame replica.Mikkel Møller for InsiderGalschiøt began to make small models of the Pillar of Shame that same year. As the idea took shape, he assembled 7 tons of clay to create the casting mold for the sculpture.He included faces of people that represented a wide variety of races and ethnicities, hoping to create a universal symbol. Once he finished his prototype in 1996, he went looking for contacts who could help him install it in various places around the world. The Tiananmen Square massacre quickly came to mind, but he knew it would be impossible to install a pillar in Beijing. 'They made a good fight for freedom'Hong Kong offered the tantalizing possibility of a work-around. After years of negotiations, the UK was due to hand control of Hong Kong back to China on July 1, 1997.  If Galschiøt could get the pillar to Hong Kong while the city was still in British hands, China would take the sculpture with it. "At that time, we had good reason to believe that this statue would not be allowed to enter after the transition," Albert Ho, who helped Galschiøt get the pillar to Hong Kong, recalled in a later interview.Ho was a leader of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, a group founded in 1989 just before the massacre. One of the alliance's signature projects was an annual candlelight vigil commemorating Tiananmen victims. Galschiøt reached out to see whether the group would help him install a replica of the sculpture and soon he had a partner: On May 2, 1997, he packed up a copy of the pillar in a shipping container and sent it off to Hong Kong. The sculpture arrived at a Hong Kong container terminal nine days before the alliance's annual candlelight vigil in the city's sprawling Victoria Park. The alliance displayed it prominently at the June 4 vigil, which happened to coincide with Galschiøt's birthday. Afterward, the pillar was loaded onto a truck headed for Hong Kong University, where student leaders hoped to install it near their student union. Tang joined part of the march to campus, walking alongside Galschiøt. Galschiøt grew concerned as scuffles broke out between students and security guards who wouldn't let the truck through to campus. Security guards eventually relented, and the sculpture was dropped off as onlookers applauded, according to Associated Press archival footage from the night. "They made a good fight for freedom," Galschiøt told an AP reporter at the time.The pillar made the rounds to several schools around the city before the Hong Kong University student union voted in 1998 to permanently host it on its campus. Galschiøt, meanwhile, wrote a manifesto for his artwork. "My name is Jens Galschiøt. I'm a Danish artist born 1954. My new art happening the Pillar of Shame has just been launched, as the sculpture was displayed 4th June '97 in Hong Kong," began the lengthy December 1997 missive, which predicted that "over the next ten years the happening will spread over the Planet." Galschiøt listed Auschwitz, the site of the infamous Nazi death camp, and Rwanda, where a 1994 genocide had just killed an estimated 800,000 people, as two possible candidates for Pillars of Shame.Galschiøt outside his studio in Denmark.Mikkel Møller for InsiderSoon he managed to install a "Columna de la infamia" in Mexico to commemorate the 1997 killings of 45 Indigenous people in Chiapas state and a "Coluna da infâmia" in Brazil to mark the 1996 murder of 19 landless Brazilian peasants. Both sculptures made brief appearances near parliament buildings in their respective countries, elevating their visibility in Mexico and Brazil. In 1999 he outlined a grand vision to install a pillar in Berlin atop a platform covered with bronze plates notched with 10 million lines representing the victims of Nazi-era persecution (the project was too costly, and he gave up on it in late 2002). In 2012, he traveled to Iraq to explore the possibility of placing a pillar there to commemorate the victims of Saddam Hussein's mass murders of Iraqi Kurds in the 1980s (installing a sculpture in a war zone was too dangerous, though Galschiøt hopes to try again someday).Galschiøt openly mused that Hong Kong's Pillar of Shame might someday move to Beijing if political circumstances allowed it. But he acknowledged that it might just as well be removed or destroyed: "The Pillar of Shame will be a test of the validity of the new authorities' guarantees for human rights and freedom of expression in Hong Kong," he wrote in a post on his website.'The old cannot kill the young forever'Galschiøt was right about the possibility of his sculpture being removed from Hong Kong.The early signs of trouble came in April 2008, when Galschiøt flew to the city only to be denied entry. He was there to paint the pillar orange as part of a campaign to raise awareness of China's alleged human-rights abuses ahead of the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing. In Galschiøt's absence, members of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China carried out the paint job. News reports at the time described the ordeal as a test of the freedoms China had granted to Hong Kong when it took over.Hong Kongers would experience many more such tests in the years that followed. In 2014, protests erupted when China insisted on vetting any candidates for the territory's chief executive before allowing the post to be elected directly by the people. The tense 79-day standoff with pro-democracy protesters became known as the Umbrella Movement after demonstrators used umbrellas to shield themselves from the pepper spray police used to try to disperse them. The sense of togetherness and community among the protesters felt like a repeat of the 1989 Tiananmen Square movement to Tang, who flew from the US to Hong Kong to camp out with the protesters and speak up for their cause. Even larger protests shook the city in 2019 after Hong Kong leaders proposed amending the territory's extradition laws to allow criminal suspects to be sent to mainland China to stand trial. The protests grew into a broader movement against Beijing's encroachments on the freedoms guaranteed to Hong Kong under the terms of its handover from the UK. Meanwhile, Beijing readied a national-security law that would give China broad authority to stamp out dissent in Hong Kong. Even before the law took effect, in June 2020, authorities had already taken aim at Hong Kong's long tradition of commemorating the Tiananmen victims. They refused to let the alliance organize its annual June 4 vigil in 2020, citing COVID-19 restrictions. Thousands showed up anyway. In 2021, Hong Kong blocked the June 4 vigil again and put up a massive police presence to deter Hong Kongers from defying the ban. The same month, the alliance's museum commemorating the massacre was forced to shut down. Police raided the museum in September and confiscated its exhibits just a day after arresting the alliance's leaders under the guise of the national-security law. The alliance disbanded on September 25, and days later reports surfaced that the digital version of its Tiananmen Square massacre museum had been blocked in Hong Kong.  By early October, the pillar's time had come. Galschiøt wasn't formally notified that the Pillar of Shame would be removed. Mayer Brown, an American law firm representing Hong Kong University, sent a letter demanding its removal to the liquidators of the alliance (the alliance didn't actually own the sculpture; Galschiøt had always retained ownership). The October 7 letter gave the now-defunct pro-democracy group six days to remove the sculpture from the university, a publicly funded institution, or consider the pillar abandoned property that would be dealt with "at such time and in such manner" as the university saw fit. Galschiøt tried to intervene but said he couldn't get a reply to his lawyer's pleas to let him come to Hong Kong to retrieve the artwork.The sudden deadline was sandwiched between two typhoons that pummeled Hong Kong with heavy rains and winds. As the storms moved through the city, the October 13 removal deadline held firm. Hong Kongers flocked to the sculpture to bid their farewells to what many saw as one of the last vestiges of freedom of expression in the Chinese territory. "Say goodbye to freedom," one man said as he snapped a photo of the sculpture one day before the deadline. Steps away, a father took a selfie in front of the pillar with his 9-year-old daughter. Afterward, the little girl grabbed her father's phone and snapped some photos of it herself. On their way out, he pointed to the inscription "the old cannot kill the young forever" as she looked on attentively. Shortly after, it started to rain again. But the crowds kept coming.A father introduces his daughter to Galschiøt's Pillar of Shame sculpture in Hong Kong on October 12, 2021.Cezary Podkul for InsiderThe university hit a snag when Mayer Brown bowed out of the legal matter amid public outrage that an American law firm would be helping Chinese authorities stifle freedom of expression in Hong Kong. (Mayer Brown's decision prompted a former Hong Kong chief executive to call for a China-wide boycott of the law firm. Spokespeople for Mayer Brown did not respond to comment requests.) Several weeks followed when the sculpture's fate stood in a strange state of limbo; it wasn't clear when exactly it would disappear, but there was no doubt the end was near. An artists' collective known as Lady Liberty Hong Kong made use of the delay to take detailed photos of the pillar and create a three-dimensional model that could be used as a basis for 3D printing. Galschiøt, meanwhile, dusted off old molds that he had used to create smaller replicas of the Pillar of Shame in the 1990s so that he would be ready if his sculpture were removed. The limbo ended on December 22. Galschiøt had just told the workers in his workshop in Odense, Denmark, to go home early and enjoy the holiday when he got a call from a reporter seeking comment on the sculpture's removal.  The energy drained from his body; he looked like a parent who had just learned about the loss of his child, recalled his apprentice, Lauge Jakobsen. Social media lit up with footage of workers fencing off the area around the pillar so no one would witness its removal. Reporters still managed to document parts of the ordeal, which ended with a human-like fragment of the sculpture being loaded into a shipping container by a group of workers in hard hats resembling pallbearers at a funeral.The former site of the Pillar of Shame at Hong Kong University as seen the day after the monument was removed.Cezary Podkul for Insider As Galschiøt watched from a distance, all he could do was decry the university's actions. He issued a statement calling the sculpture's removal an unreasonable act of "self-immolation against private property in Hong Kong." Hong Kong University said in a statement that "no party has ever obtained any approval from the university to display the statue on campus," and the statue would be placed in storage pending legal advice on what to do with it. Galschiøt said the university has now responded to his lawyer, and he is sorting out the details of how to return the sculpture from Hong Kong. A spokeswoman for the university did not provide further details. 'Jens' biggest supporter has been the Chinese government'The sculpture's dramatic removal gave Galschiøt the kind of worldwide attention he had long hoped to bring to his international art project. "Suddenly, all the world's eyes were turned on this Pillar of Shame," recalled Jakobsen, his apprentice. "From 7 a.m. to 3 a.m. at night the phone was calling all the time, and our email was looking like a celebrity's fan email because every 10 seconds there were coming new emails."Jakobsen switched from working in Galschiøt's workshop to assisting him in the office as he juggled media requests and inquiries about how to acquire a Pillar of Shame. "Jens' biggest supporter last year has been the Chinese government," Jakobsen said during a phone interview. Galschiøt could be heard laughing beside him.Jessica Chiu was one of those requesters. The native Hong Konger, who's 32 and lives in Norway, first learned about Tiananmen Square from her high school math teacher, who would abandon his usual lesson every June and instead teach about the massacre. Later, as a student at Hong Kong University, Chiu would occasionally pass by Galschiøt's sculpture. Chiu leads a Norwegian nonprofit focused on supporting human rights in Hong Kong. The group had been interested in exhibiting Galschiøt's pillar in Norway since 2020; its removal in Hong Kong reinforced those plans. "It makes us more motivated to do it, and it just makes the impact bigger," Chiu said. Her nonprofit has already applied for permits to display the sculpture at two locations in Oslo, including a plaza near the Nobel Peace Center.Galschiøt at his gallery in Odense, Denmark.Mikkel Møller for InsiderA similar effort is taking shape to bring a copy of the pillar in the US. The most provocative spot under consideration includes a park directly across from the Chinese Embassy in Washington DC. A group of former US government officials, outraged by Mayer Brown's involvement, is spearheading the initiative, which is still in its initial planning stages, according to a person familiar with the effort. Getting a 2-ton sculpture cast and transported abroad — let alone securing a spot for it — is no easy feat, so it's unclear how many of such installations will ultimately succeed. Galschiøt estimated that making the sculpture in a full-size bronze cast costs about $800,000. To make it more affordable and easier to handle, he has started making the smaller, 8.5-foot replicas in copper using an old mold he created in the 1990s. He hopes to distribute the smaller pillars to universities around the world (and requests that schools interested in a copy contact him). He scored his first win in Budapest, Hungary, on March 2, when one of the copper replicas was installed on the site of a future Budapest campus of Fudan University. Hungary lawmakers had voted in 2021 to donate four plots of land toward the planned campus of the Shanghai-based university, which ranks as one of China's most elite schools. The move sparked criticism of Chinese influence-buying and prompted Budapest's mayor to rename streets near the proposed site after various alleged human-rights abuses committed by China. Galschiøt traveled to Budapest to personally dedicate his "a szégyen oszlopa" (Hungarian for "Pillar of Shame") near the corner of Free Hong Kong Road and Uyghur Martyrs Road.Galschiøt applies paint to a pillar, which will soon be shipped aboard.Mikkel Møller for InsiderThe use of the artwork to make political statements about China's alleged human-rights abuses could get easier thanks to the rise of 3D printing. Lady Liberty Hong Kong's three-dimensional model of the sculpture has enabled anyone with access to a 3D printer to create a copy of the sculpture without bothering with the cost and logistics of transporting it from Denmark. To make the process even more hassle-free, Galschiøt surrendered his copyright to the sculpture, writing in an open letter on Christmas Day that anyone is free to 3D print or mass-produce replicas of the pillar as long as profits go to benefit pro-democracy causes in China and Hong Kong.  A 2-foot-tall replica created using Lady Liberty's model recently showed up at a Hong Kong pro-democracy rally in Manchester, England. An even bigger version — 10 feet or taller — is set to be 3D-printed in Taiwan in time for the June 4 anniversary of the massacre. The New School for Democracy Association Taiwan, a pro-democracy group, is spearheading that effort, which is in the planning and fundraising stages, according to the project's manager.Lady Liberty itself is hoping to organize an international art tour with Galschiøt that would feature the pillar as well as the group's own signature artwork,  a symbol of the 2019 protest movement in Hong Kong known as Lady Liberty Hong Kong. The 3.5-meter-tall, crowdfunded sculpture of a woman wearing a helmet, goggles, and a respirator made the rounds to various sites across Hong Kong in 2019, including a famous summit known as Lion Rock, before being vandalized and thrown off the cliff (most likely by pro-government activists). Lady Liberty is preparing to sell small replicas of the Pillar of Shame to help fund the art tour, which would also invite other artists to participate, a spokesperson said.Galschiøt's team with a copy of the Pillar of Shame.Mikkel Møller for InsiderTang is raising her hand for the effort. She said she'd like to reunite her Tiananmen band and perform under Galschiøt's Pillar of Shame if a replica makes its way for a tour in the US. In Canada, a scrappy group of expatriate Hong Kongers created a supply chain that allows them to 3D print and ship copies of the pillar anywhere in the world. Their website,, sells a variety of Hong Kong-themed merchandise — including 3D prints of Lady Liberty Hong Kong — to fund pro-democracy causes. Proceeds from the 3D-printed pillar replicas are earmarked for organizations that help young Hong Kong refugees resettle in Canada and seek asylum, said Eric Li, who cofounded one of the groups and helped launch the merchandise website. Many of the refugees are youths who faced persecution for their pro-democracy activities, Li said. Some are depressed and feel guilty, even suicidal, for having left Hong Kong behind, he said. Others are traumatized after their violent clashes with police. "They feel they betrayed their friends because they ran away from the action," said Li, who helps arrange counseling for the youths as part of his work for one of the groups that will receive proceeds from the pillars'  sales. Art 'without interruption'There isn't much action left when it comes to protests in Hong Kong. The Beijing-imposed national-security law has succeeded in ending the mass demonstrations that gripped the city in 2019. You might find an occasional pro-democracy slogan or poster here or there, but any public artwork the government could deem subversive to Beijing is likely to quickly vanish from public view. A day after Galschiøt's pillar disappeared in December, two other Tiananmen-themed monuments were removed by universities in Hong Kong. The "Goddess of Democracy," an imitation of a sculpture created by Tiananmen Square protesters in 1989, was hauled away from the Chinese University of Hong Kong on December 24. A relief depicting the Tiananmen Square massacre was removed from the campus of Lingnan University the same day. Both artworks were created by Chen Weiming, an exiled Chinese sculptor who lives in California. Chen is now trying to repatriate the monuments from the universities and is planning to house them at a Tiananmen Square museum that he hopes to build at his sculpture park in Yermo, California. "In America, I can do anything I want to do. In China, I can't do it," Chen said.In late January, Hong Kong University covered up the last public tribute to Tiananmen victims on its campus — a hand-painted slogan on a bridge outside a dormitory. It read, "The souls of the martyrs shall forever linger despite the cold-blooded massacre. The spark of democracy shall forever glow for the demise of evil." Every year, students would touch up the paint on the 32-year-old inscription and wash the Pillar of Shame.The former site of the Pillar of Shame at Hong Kong University has been replaced with an outdoor seating area.Cezary Podkul for InsiderThe former site of the pillar is now a seating area with movable plastic furniture atop wooden planks. The area stood empty on a recent Monday evening as the clean, wet planks glittered in overhead lights. With the usual churn of a university, it won't take more than a few years for future generations of students to sit in the area without any idea of what stood here previously, or why. But nearby, another sculpture remains intact. It's a commemoration of Dr. Sun Yat-sen, widely regarded as the father of modern China, who sits calmly in a chair surrounded by a placid fishpond topped with water lilies. Sun is a rare figure in recent Chinese history, revered on both sides of the Taiwan Strait for helping to end feudal imperial monarchy in China and briefly serving as the first president of the Republic of China in 1912. Even as Hong Kong stamps out dissent, posters honoring him as a "great outlaw" invite visitors to a museum of Sun's life and legacy. The university installed Sun's statue in 2003 so students could follow his historic footprint, according to a dedication issued at the time. A sculpture of Sun Yat-sen, the father of modern China, adorns a lily pond on the Hong Kong University campus.Cezary Podkul for InsiderIt is impossible to know what Sun might say about the removal of the Pillar of Shame and other artworks in Hong Kong if he were alive today. But a speech that he gave nearly 100 years ago on Hong Kong University's campus gives a clue. In his remarks, Sun called Hong Kong and the university his "intellectual birthplace" and explained why he got his revolutionary ideas there: "Hong Kong impressed me a great deal, because there was orderly calm and because there was artistic work being done without interruption."Cezary Podkul is an award-winning investigative reporter who has written for ProPublica, The Wall Street Journal and Reuters. He teaches at Hong Kong University's Journalism and Media Studies Centre.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMar 18th, 2022

Sperry: Ukraine Worked With Democrats Against Trump In 2016 To Stop Putin -- And It Backfired Badly

Sperry: Ukraine Worked With Democrats Against Trump In 2016 To Stop Putin -- And It Backfired Badly Authored by Paul Sperry via RealClearInvestigations, Six years ago, before Russia’s full-scale invasion of their country, the Ukrainians bet that a Hillary Clinton presidency would offer better protection from Russian President Vladimir Putin, even though he had invaded Crimea during the Obama-Biden administration, whose Russian policies Clinton vowed to continue. Working with both the Obama administration and the Clinton campaign, Ukrainian government officials intervened in the 2016 race to help Clinton and hurt  Donald Trump in a sweeping and systematic foreign influence operation that's been largely ignored by the press. The improper, if not illegal, operation was run chiefly out of the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington, where officials worked hand-in-glove with a Ukrainian-American activist and Clinton campaign operative to attack the Trump campaign. The Obama White House was also deeply involved in an effort to groom their own favored leader in Ukraine and then work with his government to dig up dirt on – and even investigate -- their political rival. Ukrainian and Democratic operatives also huddled with American journalists to spread damaging information on Trump and his advisers – including allegations of illicit Russian-tied payments that, though later proved false, forced the resignation of his campaign manager Paul Manafort. The embassy actually weighed a plan to get Congress to investigate Manafort and Trump and stage hearings in the run-up to the election. As it worked behind the scenes to undermine Trump, Ukraine also tried to kneecap him publicly. Ukraine's ambassador took the extraordinary step of attacking Trump in an Op-Ed article published in The Hill, an influential U.S. Capitol newspaper, while other top Ukrainian officials slammed the GOP candidate on social media. Ukraine's ambassador to the U.S. attacked Trump in an Op-Ed weeks before the 2016 election. At first glance, it was a bad bet as Trump upset Clinton. But by the end of his first year in office, Trump had supplied Ukrainians what the Obama administration refused to give them: tank-busting Javelin missiles and other lethal weapons to defend themselves against Russian incursions. Putin never invaded on Trump's watch. Instead, he launched an all-out invasion during another Democratic administration – one now led by President Biden, Barack Obama's former Vice President, whose Secretary of State last year alarmed Putin by testifying, “We support Ukraine's membership in NATO.” Biden boasted he’d go “toe to toe” with Putin, but that didn't happen as the autocrat amassed tanks along Ukraine’s border in response to the NATO overtures. The Ukrainian mischief is part of Special Counsel John Durham’s broader inquiry – now a full-blown criminal investigation with grand jury indictments – into efforts to falsely target Trump as a Kremlin conspirator in 2016 and beyond. Sources say Durham has interviewed several Ukrainians, but it’s not likely the public will find out exactly what he's learned about the extent of Ukraine’s meddling in the election until he releases his final report, which sources say could be several months away. In the meantime, a comprehensive account of documented Ukrainian collusion – including efforts to assist the FBI in its 2016 probe of Manafort – is pieced together here for the first time. It draws from an archive of previously unreported records generated from a secret Federal Election Commission investigation of the Democratic National Committee that includes never-before-reviewed sworn affidavits, depositions, contracts, emails, text messages, legal findings and other documents from the case. RealClearInvestigations also examined diplomatic call transcripts, White House visitor logs, lobbying disclosure forms, congressional reports and closed-door congressional testimony, as well as information revealed by Ukrainian and Democratic officials in social media postings, podcasts and books. 2014: Prelude to Collusion U.S. envoys Victoria Nuland and Geoffrey Pyatt helped bring to power Ukraine's Petro Poroshenko, right. (AP) The coordination between Ukrainian and Democratic officials can be traced back at least to January 2014. It was then when top Obama diplomats – many of whom now hold top posts in the Biden administration – began engineering regime change in Kiev, eventually installing a Ukrainian leader they could control. On Jan. 27, U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt phoned Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland at her home in Washington to discuss picking opposition leaders to check the power of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, whom they believed was too cozy with Putin. “We’ve got to do something to make it stick together,” Pyatt said of a planned coalition government, adding that they needed “somebody with an international personality to come out here and help to midwife this thing.” Nuland responded that Biden’s security adviser Jake Sullivan had just told her that the vice president – who was acting as Obama’s point man in Ukraine – would give his blessing to the deal. “Biden’s willing,” she said. But they agreed they had to “move fast” and bypass the European Union. “Fuck the EU,” Nuland told the ambassador, according to a leaked transcript of their call. Hunter Biden: His father helped engineer the rise of an amenable Ukrainian leader who would later fire a prosecutor investigating the son.   Nuland’s role in the political maneuvering was not limited to phone calls. She traveled to Kiev and helped organize street demonstrations against Yanukovych, even handing out sandwiches to protesters. In effect, Obama officials greased a revolution. Within months, Yanukovych was exiled and replaced by Petro Poroshenko, who would later do Biden’s bidding – including firing a prosecutor investigating his son Hunter. Poroshenko would also later support Clinton's White House bid after Biden decided not to run, citing the death of his older son Beau. The U.S. meddling resulted in the installation of an anti-Putin government next door to Russia. A furious Putin viewed the interference as an attempted coup and soon marched into Crimea. Nuland is now Biden’s undersecretary of state and Sullivan serves as his national security adviser. Whispering in their ear at the time was a fiery pro-Ukraine activist and old Clinton hand, Alexandra “Ali” Chalupa. A daughter of Ukrainian immigrants, Chalupa informally advised the State Department and White House in early 2014. She organized multiple meetings between Ukraine experts and the National Security Council to push for Yanukovych’s ouster and economic sanctions against Putin. In the NSC briefings, Chalupa also agitated against longtime attorney-lobbyist Manafort, who at the time was an American consultant for Yanukovych's Party of Regions, which she viewed as a cat’s paw of Putin. She warned that Manafort worked for Putin’s interests and posed a national security threat. At the same time, Chalupa worked closely with then-Vice President Biden’s team, setting up conference calls with his staff and Ukrainians. Another influential adviser at the time was former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele, who provided Nuland with written reports on the Ukrainian crisis and Russia that echoed Chalupa’s warnings. Nuland treated them as classified intelligence, and between the spring of 2014 and early 2016, she received some 120 reports on Ukraine and Russia from Steele. 2015: The Move Against Manafort Commences Paul Manafort: Targeted by Chalupa over work for the ousted Ukrainian president and ties to Trump. (AP) In April 2015, the DNC hired Chalupa as a $5,000-a-month consultant, according to a copy of her contract, which ran through the 2016 election cycle. (Years earlier, Chalupa had worked full-time for the DNC as part of the senior leadership team advising Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.) After Trump threw his hat in the ring in June 2015, Chalupa grew concerned that Manafort was or would be involved with his campaign since Manafort had known Trump for decades and lived in Trump Tower. She expressed her concerns to top DNC officials and “the DNC asked me to do a hit on Trump,” according to a transcript of a 2019 interview on her sister’s podcast. (Andrea Chalupa, who describes herself as a journalist, boasted in a November 2016 tweet: “My sister led Trump/Russia research at DNC.”) Chalupa began encouraging journalists both in America and Ukraine to dig into Manafort’s dealings in Ukraine and expose his alleged Russian connections. She fed unsubstantiated rumors, tips and leads to the Washington Post and New York Times, as well as CNN, speaking to reporters on background so a DNC operative wouldn’t be sourced. “I spent many, many hours working with reporters on background, directing them to contacts and sources, and giving them information,” Chalupa said. But no reporter worked closer with her than Yahoo News correspondent Michael Isikoff. He even accompanied her to the Ukrainian Embassy, where they brainstormed attacks on Manafort and Trump, according to FEC case files. Chalupa was also sounding alarm bells in the White House. In November 2015, for example, she set up a White House meeting between a Ukrainian delegation including Ukraine Ambassador Valeriy Chaly and NSC advisers – among them Eric Ciaramella, a young CIA analyst on loan to the White House who later would play a significant role as anonymous "whistleblower" in Trump’s first impeachment. In addition to Putin’s aggression, the group discussed the alleged security threat from Manafort. Chalupa was back in the White House in December. All told, she would visit the Obama White House at least 27 times, Secret Service logs show, including attending at least one event with the president in 2016. Eric Ciaramella (middle right) across from Ukrainians in a June 2015 meeting at the White House, flanked by Biden security adviser Michael Carpenter and Ciaramella's NSC colleague Liz Zentos. ( January 2016: High-Level Meetings With Ukrainians in the White House On Jan. 12, 2016 – almost a month before the first GOP primary – Chalupa told top DNC official Lindsey Reynolds she was seeing strong indications that Putin was trying to steal the 2016 election for Trump. Emails also show that she promised to lead an effort to expose Manafort – whom Trump would not officially hire as his campaign chairman until May – and link him and Trump to the Russian government. That same day, Chalupa visited the White House. A week later, Obama officials gathered with Ukrainian officials traveling from Kiev in the White House for a series of senior-level meetings to, among other things, discuss reviving a long-closed investigation into payments to American consultants working for the Party of Regions, according to Senate documents. The FBI had investigated Manafort in 2014 but no charges resulted. One of the attendees, Ukrainian Embassy political officer Andrii Telizhenko, recalled Justice Department officials asking investigators with Ukraine’s National Anti-Corruption Bureau, or NABU, if they could help find fresh evidence of party payments to such U.S. figures. (Three years later, Democrats would impeach Trump for allegedly asking Ukraine to dig up dirt on a political rival, Joe Biden.) The Obama administration’s enforcement agencies leaned on their Ukrainian counterparts to investigate Manafort, shifting resources from an investigation of a corrupt Ukrainian energy oligarch who paid Biden’s son hundreds of thousands of dollars through his gas company, Burisma. “Obama’s NSC hosted Ukrainian officials and told them to stop investigating Hunter Biden and start investigating Paul Manafort,” said a former senior NSC official who has seen notes and emails generated from the meetings and spoke on the condition of anonymity. Suddenly, the FBI reopened its Manafort investigation. “In January 2016, the FBI initiated a money laundering and tax evasion investigation of Manafort predicated on his activities as a political consultant to members of the Ukrainian government and Ukrainian politicians,” according to a report by the Justice Department’s watchdog. The White House summit with Ukrainian officials ran for three days, ending on Jan. 21, according to a copy of the agenda stamped with the Justice Department logo. It was organized and hosted by Ciaramella and his colleague Liz Zentos from the NSC. Other U.S. officials included Justice prosecutors and FBI agents, as well as State Department diplomats. The Ukrainian delegation included Artem Sytnyk, the head of NABU, and other Ukrainian prosecutors. Ciaramella was a CIA detailee to the White House occupying the NSC’s Ukraine desk in 2015 and 2016. In that role, Ciaramella met face-to-face with top Ukrainian officials and provided policy advice to Biden through the then-vice president's security adviser Michael Carpenter. He also worked with Nuland and Chalupa.Ciaramella was carried over to the Trump White House. As RealClearInvestigations first reported, he would later anonymously blow the whistle on Trump asking Ukraine’s new president, Volodymyr Zelensky, to help “get to the bottom of” Ukrainian meddling in the 2016 election, a phone call that triggered Trump’s first impeachment by a Democrat-controlled House. Ciaramella’s former NSC colleague Alexander Vindman leaked the call to him. Vindman, a Ukrainian-American, is also aligned with Chalupa. (Vindman is now back in the news for his demands that the United States provide more active military support to Ukraine and his insistence that Trump shares great blame for the war.) As Manafort drew closer to Trump, Obama officials zeroed in, and the FBI reopened a closed 2014 probe. (Justice Department Office of the Inspector General) February 2016: Obama White House-Ukraine Coordination Intensifies On Feb. 2, two weeks after the White House meetings, Secret Service logs reveal that Ciaramella met in the White House with officials from the U.S. Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, known as FinCEN, which would later provide the FBI highly sensitive bank records on Manafort. (In addition, a senior FinCEN adviser illegally leaked thousands of the confidential Manafort records to the media.) On Feb. 9, less than a month after the White House summit, Telizhenko, who worked for the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, met with Zentos of the NSC at a Cosi sandwich shop in Washington, according to emails obtained by the Senate. It's not known what they discussed. In addition, on Feb. 23, the two emailed about setting up another meeting the following day. “OK if I bring my colleague Eric, who works on Ukraine with me?” Zentos asked Telizhenko, apparently referring to Ciaramella. In the emails, they discussed the U.S. primary elections, among other things. NSC's Zentos and Ukraine's Telizhenko would meet and correspond numerous times during 2016. (HSGAC-Finance Committee Hunter Biden Report) Telizhenko would later testify that Ambassador Chaly had ordered him then to “start an investigation [into the Trump campaign] within the embassy just on my own to find out with my contacts if there’s any Russian connection that we can report back.” He suspects the Ambassador delivered that report to Chalupa and the DNC. Chalupa visited the White House on Feb. 22, entrance records show, just days before the second meeting Telizhenko had planned with Zentos. March 2016: Chalupa Engineers Manafort Messaging Assault With Ukrainians After Manafort was named Trump campaign chair, the campaign against him went into overdrive. New York Times On March 3, Zentos and Telizhenko planned to meet again, this time at a Washington bar called The Exchange. According to their email, Zentos wrote, “I’ll see if my colleague Eric is up for joining.” The pair also met the next day at Swing’s coffee house in Washington. After the meeting, Telizhenko emailed Zentos seeking a meeting with senior Obama NSC official Charlie Kupchan, an old Clinton hand who was Ciaramella’s boss on the Russia/Ukraine desk. Kupchan is an outspoken critic of Trump who has made remarks suggesting what countries “can do to stop him” and “protect the international institutions we’ve built .” Zentos and Telizhenko also met on March 10, patronizing the Cosi coffee shop again. On March 24, 2016, four days before the Trump campaign announced that it had hired Manafort, Chalupa met at the Ukrainian Embassy with Ambassador Chaly and his political counselor Oksana Shulyar, where they shared their concerns about Manafort, according to Politico. When news broke on March 28 that Manafort was joining the Trump campaign, Chalupa could hardly contain herself. “This is huge,” she texted senior DNC officials. “This is everything to take out Trump.” She immediately began circulating anti-Manafort memos, warning the DNC of the “threat” he posed of Russian influence. The next day, March 29, she briefed the DNC communications team about Manafort. They, in turn, hatched a plan to reach out to the Ukrainian Embassy to get President Porochenko to make an on-camera denouncement of Manafort and feed the footage to ABC News, where former Clinton aide George Stephanopoulos works as a top anchor. On March 30, Chalupa fired off an email to Shulyar, her contact at the Ukrainian Embassy: "There is a very good chance that President Poroshenko may receive a question from the press during his visit about the recent New York Times article saying that Donald Trump hired Paul Manafort as an adviser to his campaign and whether President Poroshenko is concerned about this considering Trump is the likely Republican nominee and given Paul Manafort’s meddling in Ukraine over the past couple of decades,” Chalupa wrote. "It is important President Poroshenko is prepared to address this question should it come up. In a manner that exposes Paul Manafort for the problems he continues to cause Ukraine." Within minutes of sending the email, Chalupa wrote the DNC’s communications director Luis Miranda, “The ambassador has the messaging.” Then she reached out to a friend in Congress, Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur of Ohio, about holding hearings to paint Manafort as a pro-Kremlin villain. April 2016: Chalupa Solicits Ukrainian Dirt on Trump, His Campaign, and Manafort Though accounts differ, Chalupa discussed Trump dirt with Ukrainian representatives. Federal Election Commission American presidential campaigns aren't supposed to work with foreign governments to dig up dirt on their political opponents. Geneva Convention rules bar diplomats from becoming entangled in their host country’s political affairs, particularly elections. There are also federal laws banning foreign nationals from engaging in operations to influence or interfere with U.S. political and electoral processes. In 2018, Special Counsel Robert Mueller indicted 13 Russian nationals on charges of conspiring to defraud the U.S. government for that purpose. But just weeks after Manafort was hired by the Trump campaign, the Ukrainian Embassy appeared to be working with the Clinton campaign to torpedo him and the campaign. Emails reveal that Chalupa and Shulyar, a top aide to Ambassador Chaly, agreed to meet for coffee on April 7, 2016, at Kafe Leopold, a restaurant near the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington. (Chalupa had paid a visit to the White House just three days earlier.) One of the purposes of the meeting, according to FEC case files, was to discuss Manafort and the danger he allegedly posed. They were joined at the café by Telizhenko, who said he was working on a “big story” on Manafort and Trump with the Wall Street Journal. In a sworn 2019 deposition taken by the FEC, Telizhenko alleged that Chalupa solicited “dirt” on Trump, Manafort, and the Trump campaign during the meeting. Telizhenko also testified that Chalupa told him that her goal was “basically [to] use this information and have a committee hearing under Marcy Kaptur, congresswoman from Ohio, in Congress in September and take him off the elections." Telizhenko later approached Ambassador Chaly about the DNC representative's overtures and he responded: “Yes. And I know that this is happening. You should work with her." After speaking with Chaly, Telizhenko claims that he went back to Shulyar who instructed him to help Chalupa. “I went to Oksana and said, ‘Like what are we doing?’” he testified. " And she told me, ‘You have to work with Chalupa. And any information you have, you give it to me, I’ll give it to her, then we’ll pass it on later to anybody else we are coordinating with.’” Less than a week later, on April 13, Telizhenko met again with White House official Zentos, email records reveal. Telizhenko said he resigned the next month because of concerns regarding his embassy’s work with Chalupa and the Clinton team. In her sworn account of the meeting, Chalupa acknowledged discussing Manafort and the “national security problem” he allegedly presented, but denied asking the embassy for help researching him. She allowed that she “could have mentioned the congressional investigation … that I had talked to Marcy Kaptur,” but maintained she couldn't recall trying to enlist the embassy in the effort. Shulyar, however, clearly recalls that Chalupa sought the embassy’s help warning the public about Manafort – including pitching stories to the press and lobbying Congress, according to a 2020 written statement to the FEC. An “idea floated by Alexandra Chalupa was that we approach a co-chair of the Congressional Ukraine Caucus to initiate a congressional hearing on Paul Manafort,” Shulyar said, though she denied the embassy acted on the idea. Around the same time, two Ukrainian lawmakers – Olga Bielkova and Pavlo Rizanenko – visited the U.S. and met with journalists, as well as a former State Department official with close ties to Sen. John McCain – David Kramer of the McCain Institute. Kramer would later leak the entire Steele dossier to the media. The meeting was arranged by major Clinton Foundation donor Victor Pinchuk, a Ukrainian oligarch who lobbied Clinton when she was Obama’s secretary of state. Bielkova was also connected to the Clinton Foundation, having once managed a Clinton Global Initiative program for Ukrainian college students. While Clinton was at Foggy Bottom from 2009 to 2013, Ukrainians gave more money – at least $10 million, including more than $8 million from Pinchuk – to the Clinton Foundation than any other nationality including Saudi Arabians. Pinchuk's donation was a down payment on an astounding $29 million pledge. On April 12, 2016, Bielkova also attended a meeting with Ciaramella and his NSC colleague Zentos, head of the Eastern Europe desk, according to lobbying disclosure records. In late April, Chalupa helped organize a Ukrainian-American protest against Manafort in his Connecticut hometown. Activists shouted for Trump to fire Manafort, whom they called “Putin’s Trojan Horse,” while holding signs that read: “Shame on Putin, Shame on Manafort, Shame on Trump” and “Putin, Hands Off the U.S. Election.” Chalupa also organized social media campaigns against Manafort and Trump, including one that encouraged activists to share the Twitter hashtags: “#TrumpPutin” and "#Treasonous Trump." Also that month, Chalupa reached out to Yahoo News reporter Isikoff to pitch a hit piece on Manafort. She connected him with a delegation of Ukrainian journalists visiting D.C. Isikoff would later be used by Steele to spread falsehoods from his dossier. May-June 2016: Manafort Dirt Spreads In a May 3 email, Chalupa alerted DNC communications director Luis Miranda and DNC opposition research director Lauren Dillion that there was “a lot more [dirt on Manafort] coming down the pipe[sic].” Chalupa told them the dirt has “a big Trump component” and would “hit in the next few weeks.” It’s not clear if she was referring to the notorious "black ledger” smear against Manafort, who was promoted to campaign chairman on May 19, but a story about it was brewing at the time. On May 30, Nellie Ohr, an opposition researcher for the Clinton-retained firm Fusion GPS, emailed her husband, Bruce Ohr, a top official at the Justice Department who would become a prime disseminator of the Steele dossier within the government, and two federal prosecutors to alert them to an article indicating NABU had suddenly discovered documents allegedly showing Manafort receiving illicit payments. Amid the flurry of anti-Manafort activity, Zentos met again with Telizhenko on May 4, records show. And Chalupa visited the White House for a meeting on May 13. Chalupa paid another visit to the White House on June 14, Secret Service logs show. On June 17, Ciaramella held a White House meeting with Nuland and Pyatt of the State Department to discuss undisclosed Ukrainian matters. In late June, the FBI signed an evidence-sharing agreement with NABU, less than two months before the Ukrainian anti-corruption agency released what it claimed was explosive new evidence on Manafort. July 2016: Ukrainian Officials Attack Trump Publicly Chalupa continued to pow-wow with the Ukrainian Embassy and got so cozy with officials there that they offered her a position, which she declined, as an “embedded consultant” in the country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. That same month, high-ranking Ukrainian officials openly insulted Trump on social media in an unusual departure from normal diplomacy. For instance, Ukraine Minister of Internal Affairs Arsen Avakov tweeted that Trump was a “clown” who was “an even bigger danger to the U.S. than terrorism.” In another July post, he called Trump “dangerous for Ukraine.” And on Facebook, Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk warned that Trump had “challenged the very values of the free world." (After Trump upset Clinton, Avakov and other officials tried to delete their statements from their social network accounts, saying that they had been wrong and had rushed to conclusions.) “It was clear that they were supporting Hillary Clinton’s candidacy,” Ukrainian lawmaker Andriy Artemenko told Politico. “They did everything from organizing meetings with the Clinton team to publicly supporting her to criticizing Trump." While attending the Democratic convention in Philadelphia, Chalupa spread the scurrilous rumor that Manafort was the mastermind behind the alleged Russian hacking of the DNC and that he “stole" her and other Democrats’ emails. She later told her sister’s podcast that she had reported her conspiracy theory to the FBI, eventually sitting down and meeting with agents in September to spin her tale of supposed espionage (the Senate has asked the FBI for copies of her interview summaries, known as FD-302s). Chalupa also prepared a report for the FBI, as well as members of Congress, detailing her Russiagate conspiracy theories, which Mueller later found no evidence to support. In addition, Chalupa helped spread a false narrative that Trump removed a reference to providing arms to Kiev from the Republican platform at the party's convention earlier that month. Internal platform committee documents show the Ukraine plank could not have been weakened as claimed, because the “lethal” weapons language had never been part of the GOP platform. The final language actually strengthened the platform by pledging direct assistance not just to the country of Ukraine, but to its military in its struggle against Russian-backed forces. August-September 2016: The Phony Manafort Ledger Leaks  A page released by Ukrainian authorities from the fake Manafort ledger. New York Times/NABU In another attempt to influence the 2016 election, Ukrainian lawmaker Serhiy Leshchenko leaked to the U.S. media what he claimed was evidence of a secret handwritten ledger showing Manafort had received millions in cash from Yanukovych’s party under the table. He claimed that 22 pages of the alleged ledger, which contained line items written by hand, had mysteriously appeared in his parliament mailbox earlier that year. Leshchenko would not identify the sender. A fuller copy of the same document showed up later on the doorstep of a Ukrainian intelligence official who passed it to NABU, which shared it with FBI agents stationed in Kiev. Leshchenko and NABU officials held press conferences declaring the document was “proof" of Manafort corruption and demanding he be “interrogated.” The Clinton campaign seized on the story. In an Aug. 14 statement, campaign manager Robby Mook stated: “We have learned of more troubling connections between Donald Trump's team and pro-Kremlin elements in Ukraine.” He demanded Trump "disclose campaign chair Paul Manafort's and all other campaign employees' and advisers' ties to Russian or pro-Kremlin entities." But there was a big hole in the story. Though Manafort was a consultant to Yanukovych's party, he was paid by wire, not in cash, casting serious doubt on the ledger’s authenticity. Another problem: the ledger was alleged to have been kept at party headquarters, but rioters had destroyed the building in a 2014 fire. Leshchenko admitted that he had a political agenda. He told The Financial Times at the time that he went public with the ledger because “a Trump presidency would change the pro-Ukrainian agenda in American foreign policy.” He added that most of Ukraine’s politicians are “on Hillary Clinton’s side." Leshchenko also happened to be "a source for Fusion GPS,” as Nellie Ohr confirmed under questioning during a 2019 closed-door House hearing, according to a declassified transcript. Fusion was a paid agent of the Clinton campaign, which gave the private opposition-research firm more than $1 million to gin up connections between Trump and Russia. Fusion hired Steele to compile a series of “intelligence” memos known as the dossier. As a former MI6 operative, Steele gave the allegations a sheen of credibility. FBI counterintelligence veteran Mark Wauck said the dossier and the black ledger both appear to have originated with Fusion GPS, which laundered it through foreigners who hated Trump – Steele and Leshchenko. "The ledger and the dossier are both Fusion hit jobs,” Wauck said. “The two items shared a common origin: the Hillary campaign’s oppo research shop." In an August 2016 memo written for Fusion GPS, “The Demise of Trump’s Campaign Manager Paul Manafort,” Steele claimed he had corroborated Leshchenko’s charges through his anonymous Kremlin sources, who turned out to be nothing more than beer buddies of his primary source collector, Igor Danchenko, a Russian immigrant with a string of arrests in the U.S. for public intoxication, as RealClearInvestigations first reported. Danchenko had worked for the Brookings Institution, a Democratic think tank in Washington that Durham has subpoenaed in connection to its own role in Russiagate. Danchenko was indicted last year by Special Counsel Durham for lying about his sources, including one he completely made up, as RCI reported. “YANUKOVYCH had confided in PUTIN that he did authorize and order substantial kick-back payments to MANAFORT as alleged,” Steele claimed in the unsubstantiated report, citing “a well-placed Russian figure” with knowledge of a "meeting between PUTIN and YANUKOVYCH” allegedly “held in secret” on Aug. 15. As a paid informant, Steele had long reported to the FBI about alleged corruption involving Yanukovych. The FBI used his Clinton-funded dossier as a basis to obtain warrants to spy on former Trump adviser Carter Page, including the false claim that Page acted as an intermediary between Russian leadership and Manafort in a “well-developed conspiracy of cooperation” that included sidelining Russian intervention in Ukraine as a campaign issue. Steele also falsely claimed that Page had helped draft the RNC platform statement to be more sympathetic to Russia’s interests by eliminating language about providing weapons to Ukraine, according to a report by the Department of Justice's watchdog. In fact, Page was not involved in the GOP platform. The misinformation came from Danchenko’s fictional source. Fusion co-founder Glenn Simpson worked closely with the New York Times on the Manafort ledger story. In his book, “Crime in Progress,” Simpson boasts of introducing Leshchenko to the Times as a source, who ended up providing the paper some of the dubious ledger records. On Aug. 19, Manafort stepped down from the Trump campaign the day after the Times reported what it had been fed by the anti-Trump operatives. In effect, Ukrainian government officials tried to help Clinton and undermine Trump by disseminating documents implicating a top Trump aide in corruption and telling the American media they were investigating the matter. In 2018, a Ukrainian court ruled that Leshchenko and NABU’s Sytnyk illegally interfered in the 2016 U.S. election by publicizing the black ledger. Among the evidence was a recording of Sytnyk saying the agency released the ledger to help Clinton’s campaign – “I helped her,” Sytnyk is recorded boasting. But the damage was done. The Ukrainians, along with Chalupa and the Clinton camp, achieved their goal of undermining the Trump campaign by prompting Manafort’s ouster though they never proved he was colluding with the Russians. Neither did Special Counsel Mueller. In fact, Mueller did not use the ledger to prosecute Manafort after a key witness for the prosecution told him it was fabricated. “Mueller ended up dropping it like a hot potato,” Wauck said.  Ukraine’s neutrality in the election was also called into further question that September, when Porochenko met with Clinton during a stop in New York. He never met with Trump, who appeared to get the cold shoulder from the Ukrainian leader. In statements following Trump’s surprise victory over Clinton in November, Ukraine’s embassy has denied interfering in the election and insisted that Chalupa was acting on her own. Epilogue After Trump won the election in spite of her efforts to sabotage him, Chalupa predicted: “Under President Trump, the Kremlin could likely invade U.S. allies in Europe without U.S. opposition.” Not only did Russia not invade Europe “under Trump,” it didn’t even invade Ukraine. Rather, the invasion came under Biden, whose campaign Chalupa supported. Yet she continues to blame Trump. Recent tweets show a still-obsessed Chalupa has not dialed back her extremist views about Trump or Manafort, whom she believes should be prosecuted for “treason." In a Feb. 28 post on Twitter, for example, Chalupa claimed that Putin installed “a puppet regime in the U.S. with the help of Paul Manafort.” The previous day, she tweeted, “We had a Putin installed Trump presidency.” A day before that, she wrote: “Now would be a good time to release the Putin-Trump treason calls.” And on Feb. 25, Chalupa tweeted another wild conspiracy theory: "It’s important to note that Putin’s imperial aspirations are of a global criminal empire, as we saw when he installed Donald J. Trump president and tried to turn the U.S. into a Russian satellite state." Tyler Durden Fri, 03/11/2022 - 19:00.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytMar 11th, 2022

Social Justice Slams Into Europe, Part 2: In Scotland, They"ll Take the Woke Road

Social Justice Slams Into Europe, Part 2: In Scotland, They'll Take the Woke Road Authored by Richard Bernstein, submitted by RealClearInvestigations, Read Part 1 here... The online class on gender, feminism, and the law was underway when Lisa Keogh, a 29-year-old student and mother of two, introduced a note of unwoke contention into the discussion. “We were talking about equal rights for women, and I said I don't believe a trans woman is really a woman,” said Keogh, then attending Abertay University Law School here. “I said that my definition of a woman is someone with a vagina.” Keogh, disagreeing with another point of view expressed in the same meeting, also voiced the apparently retrograde opinion that not all men are rapists. Lisa Keogh, law student who endured investigation: “I said that my definition of a woman is someone with a vagina.” In response, some students accused Keogh of “making offensive comments and behaving in a disrespectful manner during class discussion.” Abertay undertook a formal investigation, claiming, as a university spokesman told the media, that the school was “legally obliged to investigate all complaints.”  After two months and two sessions before the investigating committee, Keogh was exonerated. Still, her supporters say her ordeal took its toll — and sent a chilling message to other students about the risk of expressing opinions that contradict the tenets of the campus radical left. “The process is the punishment,” Stuart Waiton, a sociology and criminology lecturer at Abertay, told me over lunch in Dundee. Keogh has filed suit against the university for the stress, anxiety, and the loss of sleep while also claiming the process has hurt her chances of getting a job. “I'm quite a controversial figure,” Keogh said. “Somebody in a law firm told me, 'We can't even be seen publicly agreeing with what you said.’ A friend told me, 'There's no point in you even looking for work in Dundee.'” Instead, Keogh said, she's considering going elsewhere in Scotland where, she hopes, her notoriety won't follow her. Scotland illustrates how American-style “wokeness,” complete with its identity-politics, victim-culture assumptions and lexicon, has seeped across the Atlantic to Europe. While the U.S. media has given broad coverage to the rise of far-right anti-immigrant parties in countries like France, Germany, Hungary and Poland, it has paid less attention to the emergence of a mirror-image phenomenon on the left, which demands an orthodoxy of opinion and punishes dissenting ideas, like those expressed by Keogh.  But wokeness is a hot topic in Europe. As in Scotland, its flare-ups and the arguments about it take place mostly in elite circles, the universities, and the press. It usually surfaces in incidents, sometimes so small and geographically scattered as to seem isolated and unimportant. Nevertheless, they have a cumulative effect. They show the contagious, globalized power of a rising leftist ideology whose adherents are convinced of their own assumptions – chiefly the supposedly pervasive evils of white-dominated societies, the vulnerability of minority groups disadvantaged by the structures of oppressive power, and on the need to protect those groups from insult and slight, even unintended. And taxpayers are underwriting it. Earlier this year, the European Commission, the main administrative body of the 27-member European Union, created a Gender Equality Strategy aimed at “eliminating the inequalities between the sexes and the socio-economic intersectionality of inequality throughout research and innovation.” The effort is to be funded by a program called Horizon Europe with a budget of more than $100 billion for 2021-2027. “Sexual equality and openness to the question of inclusion are our priorities,” a Horizon mission statement says.  To further that mission, Horizon Europe requires that any governmental or private entity applying for a grant present as part of the application a “Gender Equality Plan” that, among other things, shows the hiring of “equality officers” to help “tackle unconscious gender bias among staff, leaders and decision makers.” “Don't think that woke ideology is a delirium limited to certain American universities,” the right-of-center French magazine Causeur wrote of these requirements, noting the deployment of a vocabulary that seems to come straight from the gender and sexuality studies departments of U.S. academe. In Europe, the magazine continued, these assumptions are based on an “imaginary sexism, ideological submission, and coercion in the academic world.” Each country seems to have its woke eruptions, and in many places they have prompted spirited counterreactions. In Germany over the course of this year, some 600 people, mostly university professors, have become members of a Scientific Freedom Network, the stated purpose of which is “to help victims of cancel culture” — that phrase “cancel culture” having entered the German vocabulary in its original English form. “More and more academics feel they are restricted in the research questions they can address without feeling any fear of being professionally sidelined,” Sandra Kostner, a specialist on migration at the Schwãbisch Gmünd University of Education who founded the group earlier this year, told me in a Zoom conversation. “I wrote an article two years ago expressing the idea that something is going wrong at German universities,” she continued. “Within a day or so I got about 800 emails agreeing with me, but in many cases, the last sentence was 'This is just between the two of us.' There were university presidents and vice presidents saying, 'Please don't tell anybody what I've told you.'” Some of the incidents cited by members of the new group seem almost trivial when taken individually, but reflect a widespread and growing trend. For instance, a report on the Freedom Network describes an incident in Cologne when a professor asked a dark-skinned student and German citizen where she was from. The student took the question as an insult, stemming from “institutional racism,” and complained about it both to the local government and on social media, where she got 50,000 responses. Commenting on the incident, Kostner pointed out that up until a decade or so ago, teachers were encouraged “to ask the questions about one's origins because it was a sign of politeness, signaling interest.” But now, under the pressure of the new victim-culture ideology, such questions are seen “as a denial of belonging, even as a sign of racism.” Behind this shift, the report on the incident noted, is the view of the West as first and foremost having “a history of colonialism, racism, misogyny, and white domination,” all of which has, until the new awakening came along, been “obscured by Eurocentrism and patriarchal rule.” A 2021 survey of a thousand academics carried out by the Allensbach Institute, a leading German social research organization, found that 40% of respondents feel restricted by formal or informal political correctness rules, mostly due to gender guidelines. This compares to 32% two years ago. More than half of respondents in the arts and social sciences said they feel restricted in the topics they can research, compared to 35% two years ago. “Only representatives of certain groups are allowed to talk about certain topics,” the German journalist Thomas Thiel wrote in the daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, “and the value of a statement is based on the origin of a speaker, not on the plausibility of the argument.” As the complaint about Lisa Keogh and the subsequent investigation shows, no corner of Europe is immune from these kinds of incidents, seemingly isolated and yet illustrating the spread and influence of a rising victim-culture ideology.  Earlier this year in Edinburgh, the government-funded James Gillespie High School made national headlines when it dropped the American classics “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “Of Mice and Men” from its reading lists, saying that “Mockingbird” was flawed because of its “white savior” theme (a white lawyer defends a falsely accused black man) and that John Steinbeck’s novel was flawed because none of the main characters were people of color. British newspapers quoted Allan Crosbie, the English Department head at James Gillespie, telling a school meeting, “Those novels are dated and problematical in terms of decolonizing the curriculum.” Replacing the books removed from reading lists, Crosbie said, would be “The Hate U Give” by the American writer Angie Thomas, which tells the story of an unarmed black teenager shot dead by a white policeman. (An email sent to James Gillespie High School asking for an interview went unanswered.)  St. Stephen’s University, one of the oldest and most prestigious in the United Kingdom, now requires matriculating students to pass a test in “sustainability, diversity, consent, and good academic practice.” The test asks, for example, whether a student agrees or disagrees with the statement, “Acknowledging your personal guilt is a useful starting point in overcoming unconscious bias.” The embrace of such ideas might seem strange in a nation like Scotland with its homogeneous population — 96% white; only 4% African, Caribbean, Asian, or mixed — and its Scottish Enlightenment heritage. The stomping ground of classical “Great Books” figures like David Hume and Adam Smith wouldn't seem to present fertile ground for critical race theory or Black Lives Matter. In contrast with the U.S. – or European countries with long colonial pasts such as France, Belgium, Spain and the United Kingdom — Scotland has no history of domestic slavery and very little of the kind of racial tensions or racial obsessions that are central to American history. Yet Scottish “wokeness” exemplifies the broad appeal of a globalized demand that the West in general engage in an apologetic self-examination, one predicated on the idea of some previously unacknowledged fault lying at the heart of Western civilization, and only at the heart of Western civilization. “Nothing is more Western,” the French essayist and novelist Pascal Bruckner has written on this phenomenon, “than hatred of the West.” The spread of “woke” ideas in this sense also demonstrates a negative power of the American example and its globalization. America, in this view, being the most powerful Western country, is therefore the one with the gravest intrinsic fault. “When Black Lives Matter happened in America, it was almost as if the incident that incited it happened here, Stuart Waiton, the Abertay lecturer, told me. “It wasn't a British policeman who killed a black man. The killing didn't happen here. And yet, everyone became a participant in BLM. People formed racial awareness groups. There were massive demonstrations. If it's happening in America, it will probably happen in Scotland as well.” Pyramid themes: types of racism according to a government body advising Scotland's public schools Consider Education Scotland, a governmental entity that provides advice to the country's centralized public school system and has in recent times created and promoted a program aimed at “decolonizing the curriculum” through “anti-racist education.” A booklet titled “Promoting and Developing Race Equality and Anti-Racism Education” describes “race” as “a concept that tried to justify exploitation, domination, and violence against people who were deemed non-white” and “made it easier for Britain to downplay the brutality of slavery and colonization.” But if there's mention of British colonialism as a kind of original sin, the program is certainly heavily influenced by similar “diversity and inclusion” programs formulated in the United States.  Another booklet posted on the Education Scotland website, titled “Anti-Racist Praxis,” is written by Titilayo Farukuoye, who, according to the booklet's introduction, “aspires to dismantle oppressive structures and to transcend race and gender constructs.” It lays out a full anti-racist program, with, for example, instructions to teachers on how to handle “white fragility.” “Teachers will,” the booklet says: Define white fragility Identify white fragility Practice overcoming white fragility Practice how to centre the person who has experienced harm. But perhaps the greatest acrimony arising out of a “woke” ideology, illustrated by the case of Lisa Keogh, has another powerful American echo. It has to do with trans rights, and the battle over gender definition, much of it spurred by leglislation being considered by the Scottish parliament that would reform the UK's Gender Recognition Act of 2004, which enabled people throughout Great Britain to legally change their gender.  The reform would make the process much easier, essentially by what's called “self-identification,” enabling people to change their gender without the need for a medical diagnosis. Worried that men could simply declare themselves to be women and thereby gain access to such women's spaces as girls’ sports teams, bathrooms, and shelters, some people, including some leading Scottish feminists, either outright opposed the change or at least urged a discussion of it. The reaction from the transgender lobby has been swift and harsh. An example is an ongoing incident that started three years ago when Ann Henderson, only the second woman in 170 years to be elected rector of the University of Edinburgh, another of Scotland's renowned institutions of higher learning, retweeted a message from a feminist group that opposes the move to allow people to identify their own gender. Harassment for what she called “repeated, unfounded accusations” continued for her entire three-year term; it was led by student groups, against which, Henderson says, she got very little support from the university. Ann Henderson, university rector: Harassed for years for retweeting a message from a feminist group that opposes Scotland's move to allow people to identify their own gender. The acrimony over trans rights has a political dimension in Scotland, where the majority group in the Scottish parliament, the Scottish National Party, has avidly supported the proposed reform, to the point of excluding party members who expressed doubts. The most widely known such case involves Joan McAlpine, a former member of the parliament with impeccable feminist credentials. But because of her dissenting ideas about trans self-identification, McAlpine was placed so far down on the SNP's election list that she was effectively removed from office. Among her offenses was her opposition to adding a “non-binary” option to the British census form, on the grounds that it would weaken protections for women. Earlier this year, she was uninvited from a meeting on climate change because, as the organizers of the meeting put it, “We do not believe her views on transgender rights align with our views on equality.” “It's been incredibly toxic,” Mandy Rhodes, the editor of Holyrood, a biweekly publication focused on Scottish politics, told me at a meeting in her office in Edinburgh. “I've been a campaigning journalist my whole career, over three decades, always focused on equality and social justice issues, but I find myself in the ridiculous position of being accused of being anti-trans and siding with the right-wing press when all I've really done is understand that human rights can conflict with each other and we always need to question and explore the consequences, however unintended, of that." Recently, a senior police officer in Scotland caused a stir when he said that the police could record a suspected rapist as a woman in cases involving “a person born male but who identifies as female and does not have a gender recognition certificate.” “This would potentially mean that a woman who has been raped would have to address her alleged assailant as ‘she,’” Rhodes said. “In Scots law, rape can only be committed by someone with a penis, and so the absurdity and potential harms to women victims of sexual assault have been exposed by this line of discussion, where proponents of self-identification for trans people basically have to defend the rights of rapists against the rights of women who have been raped.” Some critics of Scottish wokeness in general identify it as part of a broad cultural shift toward what they call a therapeutic society, as opposed to a society of individual agency, with a strong emphasis on the idea that vulnerable groups need state protection. A couple of years ago, the courts required the government to scrap a planned program by which every child in Scotland under 18 years of age would be assigned a “named person” who would have responsibility for that child's welfare, which its critics construed as an effort to take authority out of the hands of parents and give it to the government. “More and more we feel like we're living in a one-party regime ruled over by a bunch of managers and where what's been decided is now in process and you have to comply with it,” Penny Lewis, a lecturer in the Department of Architecture and Urban Planning at the University of Dundee, told me. “It's not people in jackboots marching down the street,” she continued.  “It's all wrapped up in this ideology of caring.”  According to Lewis and others who share her views, the Scottish government, led by the SNP, sees itself as a kind of world leader in bringing about a kind of therapeutic state. “The SNP barely existed before the referendum on independence,” she said, referring to the 2014 vote that defeated a move for Scottish independence from Great Britain. “A lot of them actually have very limited political experience, so it's easier for them to take these supposedly virtuous ideas off the shelf, than it is to figure out what to do in a country that's got serious problems.” “The new authoritarianism isn't about authorities imposing their will, but protecting supposedly vulnerable groups,” Waiton said.  And if there are no truly vulnerable groups desperately in need of state protection, it's necessary to invent them.  “We've moved from people as a social subject to people as the vulnerable subject,” Waiton said, “and if you think people are vulnerable, then they have to be protected.” Tyler Durden Sat, 01/22/2022 - 07:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeJan 22nd, 2022

Durham Vs Horowitz: Tension Over Truth & Consequences Grips FBI"s Trump-Russia Reckoning

Durham Vs Horowitz: Tension Over Truth & Consequences Grips FBI's Trump-Russia Reckoning Authored by Aaron Maté via, As he documents the role of Hillary Clinton’s campaign in generating false allegations of Trump-Russia collusion, Special Counsel John Durham has also previewed a challenge to the FBI’s claims about how and why its counterintelligence investigation of the Trump campaign began. At stake is the completeness of the official reckoning within the U.S. government over the Russiagate scandal – and whether there will be an accounting commensurate with the offense: the abuse of the nation's highest law enforcement and intelligence powers to damage an opposition presidential candidate turned president, at the behest of his opponent from the governing party he defeated. Trump-Russia Special Counsel John Durham has made plain his dissent from the findings of ... ... DoJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz, who concluded the FBI's Crossfire Hurricane was properly "predicated." The drama is playing out against the clashing approaches of the two Justice Department officials tasked with scrutinizing the Russia probe's origins and unearthing any misconduct: Durham, the Sphinx-like prosecutor with a reputation for toughness whose work continues; and Michael Horowitz, the Department of Justice inspector general, whose December 2019 report faulted the FBI's handling of the Russia probe but nonetheless concluded that it was launched in good faith. The bureau's defenders point to Horowitz's report to argue that the FBI’s Trump-Russia conspiracy investigation, codenamed Crossfire Hurricane, is untainted despite its extensive use of the discredited Clinton-funded Steele dossier. Though highly critical of the bureau's use of Christopher Steele's reports, Horowitz concluded that they “played no role in the Crossfire Hurricane opening," which he said had met the department's “low threshold” for opening an investigation. But Durham has made plain his dissent. In response to Horowitz's report, the special counsel announced that his office had "advised the Inspector General that we do not agree with some of the report’s conclusions as to predication and how the FBI case was opened." Durham stressed that, unlike Horowitz, his "investigation is not limited to developing information from within component parts of the Justice Department" and has instead obtained "information from other persons and entities, both in the U.S. and outside of the U.S." Durham’s office has not described the specific basis for its disagreement. But the Crossfire Hurricane advocates’ defense has a big problem: copious countervailing evidence in the public record – including in Horowitz's own report. A considerable paper trail points to Steele’s political opposition research playing a greater role in the probe than the FBI has acknowledged: Numerous officials received Steele's allegations – some meeting with the ex-British intelligence officer himself – and discussed sending them up the FBI chain weeks before July 31, 2016, the Horowitz-endorsed date when the bureau claims it opened the Russia-Trump “collusion” investigation. These encounters call into question the FBI’s claim that Steele played no role in triggering Crossfire Hurricane and that its team only received the dossier weeks after their colleagues, on Sept. 19. The FBI’s own records belie its claims that it decided to launch the Russia probe not because of the dossier, but instead on a vague tip recounting a London barroom conversation with a low-level Trump campaign volunteer, George Papadopoulos. Australian diplomat Alexander Downer’s tip, recorded in bureau records, was that Papadopoulos had merely "suggested" that Russia had made an unspecified "suggestion" of Russian help – a thin basis upon which to investigate an entire presidential campaign. Upon officially opening Crossfire Hurricane on July 31, FBI officials immediately took investigative steps that mirrored the claims in the Steele dossier even though they were supposedly unaware of it. In August, the FBI team opened probes of Trump campaign figures Carter Page, Michael Flynn, and Paul Manafort – all of whom are mentioned in the dossier – based on predicates that are just as flimsy as the Downer-Papadopoulos pretext. The FBI’s claim that Steele played no role in sparking the Trump-Russia probe is further called into question by top bureau officials’ previous false claims about the investigation, including Steele's role. They not only lied to the public and Congress, but to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. Above, the Horowitz report, which FBI apologists have seized upon because of its dubious headline finding that dossier compiler Christopher Steele "played no role" in sparking the Trump-Russia probe. U.S. Department of Justice 'Definitely of Interest to the Counterintelligence Folks' Durham's November indictment of Igor Danchenko, Steele's main source, was the final nail in the coffin for the Clinton-funded dossier. But to sympathetic media amplifiers of the FBI's Trump-Russia probe, its origins were unscathed. Horowitz's report, wrote Mother Jones reporter (and early Steele media contact) David Corn, "concluded that the FBI investigation of Trump-Russia contacts had been legitimately launched" thereby proving that "there was no hoax." In an article attempting to demonstrate "Why the Discredited Dossier Does Not Undercut the Russia Investigation," Charlie Savage of the New York Times said Horowitz's report "established" that Steele's allegations did not reach the Crossfire Hurricane team until Sept. 19, 2016, meaning that "they did not yet know about the dossier" when they launched the probe on July 31. But if the Crossfire Hurricane team really did not learn of Steele until Sept. 19, then those leading the Russiagate probe were among the few high-ranking officials in Washington intelligence circles unaware of the dossier. The first known Steele-FBI contact about the dossier came on July 5, more than three weeks before the Trump-Russia probe officially launched. Days before, Steele – working for the Clinton campaign via the Washington-based opposition research firm Fusion GPS – contacted Michael Gaeta, the senior FBI agent he had worked with on other matters. Gaeta was then serving in Rome as a legal attaché. Working for the Clinton campaign via Fusion GPS, opposition researcher Christopher Steele ... ... briefed the FBI's Michael Gaeta months before the bureau says it received Steele's dossier. Steele, Gaeta recalled in congressional testimony, informed him that “I have some really interesting information you need to see … immediately.” Gaeta jumped at the chance: “I said, all right, I will be up there tomorrow,” and immediately caught a flight to London. At Steele’s office on that early-summer day, the former British spy briefed his eager FBI handler on the Trump-Russia conspiracy theories he had generated and handed over a copy of his first “intelligence report.” Steele’s allegations did not stay in London, as Gaeta quickly shared them with FBI colleagues. “I couldn’t just sweep it under the rug, couldn’t discount it just on its face,” he told Congress, adding that Steele “was an established source.” On July 12, Gaeta told a colleague in the FBI’s New York field office, the then-assistant special agent in charge, about Steele’s allegations. According to Horowitz -- the IG who concluded that Steele “played no role in the Crossfire Hurricane opening” – this agent then informed his superior about the Steele allegations “the same day.” The Steele material, Horowitz’s team was told, was seen by these FBI officials as "something that needs to be handled immediately" and "definitely of interest to the Counterintelligence folks." On July 28, at his FBI colleague’s request, Michael Gaeta passed along copies of the two reports he had received from Steele. As Horowitz later found, the first one (dated June 20, 2016) provided by Steele to Gaeta, would later become “one of four of Steele’s reports that the FBI relied upon to support” its surveillance applications for Carter Page. Steele’s conspiracy theories quickly made their way up the FBI chain. According to the inspector general’s report, Gaeta heard from a colleague that high-level officials were already “aware of the reports’ existence,” including at the “Executive Assistant Director (EAD) level” at FBI headquarters in Washington. This occurred, Gaeta told Congress, “on maybe the 1st of August, right around then,” or “either the 31st of July.” “I was told by the [assistant special agent in charge] at a very high level, he goes at the EAD level at headquarters they have the reports,” Gaeta said. According to the IG report, Gaeta emailed an FBI supervisor on July 28 to report that Steele had told him that contents of two of his reports “may already be circulating at a ‘high level’ in Washington, D.C.” Gaeta also discussed the Steele dossier claims with the legal attaché overseeing his work at the U.S. Embassy in Rome. The unidentified government lawyer told the inspector general that he signed off on Gaeta’s discussions with the New York field office, and also recalled having the “expectation” that "Steele’s reporting" would be provided "to the Counterintelligence Division (CD) at FBI Headquarters within a matter of days.” Victoria Nuland: Received information directly from Steele “in the middle of July.”  Bruce Ohr: Made contact with Steele right before the former British spy’s meeting with Gaeta on July 5, and then shortly after. Before making the trip to see Steele in London, Gaeta also received the approval of Victoria Nuland, a senior Obama administration State Department official who now serves under President Biden. By her own telling, Nuland’s office then received information directly from Steele “in the middle of July.” Steele, Nuland recalled in a 2018 interview, “passed two to four pages of short points of what he was finding, and our immediate reaction to that was, this is not in our purview. This needs to go to the FBI.” Yet another senior U.S. government official also shared Steele’s information with the FBI. It helped that he had a personal connection: Then-senior Justice Department official Bruce Ohr, whose wife Nellie worked alongside Steele at Fusion GPS, first made contact with Steele right before the former British spy’s meeting with Gaeta on July 5, and then shortly after. This led to a July 30 breakfast between the Ohrs and Steele at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C. – one day before Crossfire Hurricane began. At this sit-down, Ohr recalled to Congress, Steele claimed that he had evidence that Russian intelligence “had Donald Trump over a barrel.” According to Ohr, “I wanted to provide the information he [Steele] had given me to the FBI.” He immediately reached out to Andrew McCabe, the then-deputy director of the FBI. “I went to his office to provide the information, and Lisa Page was there,” Ohr recalled, referring to the FBI attorney who exchanged anti-Trump text messages with Strzok while both worked on the Trump-Russia probe. “So I provided the information to them.” When exactly this pivotal meeting occurred has never been resolved, and all involved have a fuzzy recollection. The transcript of Ohr’s August 2018 House testimony shows him responding “Yes” to a question placing his meeting with McCabe and Page on July 30 – the same day he met Steele, and one day before the Trump-Russia probe officially began. Yet earlier in the deposition, Ohr guessed that he in fact met with McCabe and Page “in August.” When he spoke to the DOJ inspector general, Ohr “did not recall exactly when he contacted McCabe.” Despite that testimony, Horowitz instead relied on an entry in Ohr’s calendar to determine the meeting did not take place until Oct. 18. McCabe, who was forced to resign from the department for lying about his contacts with the media, said he believes the meeting occurred in “fall 2016” and “did not remember Ohr calling him to set up the meeting or how it came to be scheduled.” George Papadopoulos: Crossfire Hurricane's "predicate" was vague, even exculpatory. “Suggested … Some Kind of Suggestion” According to the official narrative, while top-ranking FBI officials shared and discussed the Steele dossier with everyone but Crossfire Hurricane team members, the counterintelligence division decided to investigate the Trump’s campaign’s potential ties to Russia on July 31 based on an unrelated tip from Alexander Downer, the Australian diplomat. At a London bar in May, campaign volunteer George Papadopoulos reportedly told Downer that Russia had offered to help the Trump campaign by anonymously releasing information damaging to Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Although there was no evidence that the Trump campaign had pursued, received, or used this undefined material, FBI officials deemed this rumor sufficient grounds to investigate the campaign for potential involvement in Russia’s alleged theft of DNC emails published by Wikileaks. Peter Strzok of the FBI wrote that Papadopoulos somehow "had advance knowledge" about Russian hacking ...  ... but bureau records show that Australian diplomat Alexander Downer's tip about the junior Trump aide contained no such mention. “In other words,” Peter Strzok, the senior FBI counterintelligence agent who opened the Trump-Russia probe, wrote in his memoir, “Papadopoulos had somehow learned about the hacking operation before the public did and had advance knowledge of the Russian plan to use that information to hurt Clinton’s campaign. Even the FBI hadn’t known about it at that time.” But when the Australian tip that reached the FBI in July 2016 was finally disclosed to the public in December 2019, Papadopoulos’ supposed “advance knowledge” about Russia’s alleged “hacking operation” turned out to be non-existent. The FBI’s tip from Downer contained no mention of the DNC hacking, a Russian interference campaign, or even the stolen emails handed to WikiLeaks. Nor did they even have any trace to suggest that a Russian intermediary had made an overture. Instead, according to the FBI Electronic Communication (EC) that opened the Trump-Russia probe, the FBI only heard that Papadopoulos, in his conversation with Downer, "suggested" that “the Trump team had received some kind of suggestion from Russia” (emphasis added) that it could “assist” the Trump campaign “with the anonymous release of information during the campaign that would be damaging to Mrs. Clinton (and President Obama).” The FBI document acknowledged that the nature of the “suggestion” was “unclear” and that the possible Russian help could entail “material acquired publicly” – in other words, not emails hacked from the DNC, which, as Horowitz noted, were “not mentioned in the EC.” The FBI also acknowledged that it had no evidence concerning the Trump camp’s receptivity to the “suggested… suggestion”: It was “unclear how Mr. Trump’s team reacted to the offer,” the EC stated, and that Russia could act “with or without Mr. Trump’s cooperation.” Although Papadopoulos’ October 2017 guilty plea with the Mueller team suggested that he had told Downer about “thousands of emails” obtained by Russia, Downer later stated that the Trump campaign volunteer had made no mention of any stolen emails, and fact “didn’t say what it was” that Russia had on offer. In other words, what Strzok wrote in his own book was untrue. Joseph Mifsud: When it opened its probe, the FBI did not even know that that the purported “suggestion” to Papadopoulos came from this Maltese academic. Because Downer’s tip was so thin, the FBI’s predicate was not only vague or even exculpatory, but also contained no indication that the “some kind of suggestion” actually came from the Russian government, or a Russian national, or anyone for that matter. When it opened the probe, the FBI did not even know that that the purported “suggestion” to Papadopoulos came from his conversation with Joseph Mifsud, a Maltese academic. For his part, Mifsud has denied making any “suggestion” of Russian help to Papadopoulos at all. To accept that the FBI’s decision to open the Trump-Russia investigation was well-founded, one has to stipulate that the nation’s premier law enforcement agency decided to investigate a presidential campaign, and then a president, based on a low-level volunteer having “suggested”, during a barroom chat, “some kind of suggestion from Russia” that contained no mention of the alleged Russian hacking or stolen emails that the Trump campaign was supposedly conspiring over. One would also have to accept that the bureau was not influenced by the far more detailed claims of direct Trump-Russia connections – an alleged conspiracy that would form the heart of the investigation – advanced in the widely-circulating Steele dossier. Their mugs weren't in post offices, but the FBI targeted them. And it was the Steele dossier that named them, not the bureau's supposedly probe-originating witness, George Papadopoulos. 'An Insufficient Basis' for the Probe’s Supposed Predicate Adding to the questions surrounding the FBI’s basis for opening a Trump-Russia counterintelligence probe is that, upon doing so, the Crossfire Hurricane team didn’t bother to contact the campaign volunteer whose vague “suggestion” supposedly triggered it. Instead, the FBI expanded the probe to multiple other figures in the Trump orbit. Although no intelligence connected them to Downer's vague tip, all three shared the distinction of being named as Russia conspirators or assets in the Steele dossier. Rather than just focusing on Papadopoulos – who was never wiretapped and not even interviewed until January of 2017 – the FBI quickly opened parallel probes of campaign volunteer Carter Page, campaign adviser Gen. Michael Flynn, and then-Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort. According to Horowitz, Strzok described “the initial investigative objective of Crossfire Hurricane” as an effort “to determine which individuals associated with the Trump campaign may have been in a position to have received the alleged offer of assistance from Russia” (emphasis added) that Papadopoulos had “suggested.” The FBI identified Page, Flynn, and Manafort as additional investigative targets, the IG found, not based on any new intelligence but because they had “ties to Russia or a history of travel to Russia.” They relied on a rarely used law – the Foreign Agents Registration Act, which requires Americans representing foreign governments to disclose these relationships – as the basis for their inquiries.  “Lacking any evidence — and admitting such in their own opening document — the team, nevertheless, proceeded to simply speculate who ‘may have’ accepted the Russian offer and subsequently opened up full investigations on four Americans,” Kevin Brock, the former FBI assistant director for intelligence and principal deputy director of the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), opined in Congressional testimony in 2020. “This is unconscionable and a direct abuse of FBI authorities.” When it comes to Papadopoulos, the FBI "initially considered seeking FISA surveillance of Papadopoulos" but quickly determined that it had "an insufficient basis" to do so,  Horowitz found. But if the FBI felt that it had "an insufficient basis" to spy on Papadopoulos, how could the FBI deem him to be a sufficient basis for investigating and spying on members of the campaign that he worked for? Igor Danchenko, dossier fabulist: The FBI was deceptive about him, and much more. On Steele, a Pattern of FBI 'Factual Misstatements and Omissions' Although Horowitz took the FBI at its word that Steele played no role in triggering Crossfire Hurricane, he did so after documenting multiple instances of FBI lies – including about Steele's role in the probe. When the FBI used the Steele dossier to seek surveillance warrants on Trump campaign volunteer Carter Page, the bureau made 17 "factual misstatements and omissions" to the FISA court, Inspector General Horowitz found in his December 2019 report. These abuses included embellishing Steele's established reliability as an FBI source; omitting information that undermined the credibility of Steele's main source, Igor Danchenko, and the fanciful claims he told Steele about prostitutes and billion dollar bribes; concealing that Steele was a source for a Yahoo News article that the FBI also cited as source material; omitting that both Page and Papadopoulos had made exonerating statements to FBI informants; and, most notably, omitting that the Clinton campaign was paying for Steele's services. The FISA court concurred with Horowitz, invalidating two of the four Page surveillance warrants on the basis of the FBI's "material misstatements." When the FBI briefed the Senate Intelligence Committee on its use of the Steele dossier in 2018, it told similar falsehoods while presenting the Clinton contractor as credible. According to the FBI's prepared talking points, the Senate was erroneously told that Steele's main source Danchenko "did not cite any significant concerns with the way his reporting was characterized in the dossier." Danchenko, the FBI additionally claimed, also "maintains trusted relationships with individuals who are capable of reporting on the material he collected for Steele." The FBI also said that its discussions with Danchenko "confirm that the dossier was not fabricated by Steele." But the FBI concealed – just as it did with the FISA court – that Danchenko had in fact told its agents that corroboration for the dossier's claim was "zero"; that he "has no idea" where claims sourced to him came from; and that the Russia-Trump rumors he passed along to Steele came from "word of mouth and hearsay" and "conversation that [he] had with friends over beers" that should be taken with "a grain of salt." When the FBI's deceptive reliance on Steele was brought to light in a memo from then-House intelligence chairman Rep. Devin Nunes in early 2018, the FBI fought to prevent its release. Moreover, the FBI resorted to more deception: In an explosive Jan. 31 statement aimed at thwarting the Nunes memo's release, the FBI claimed that it had "grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy." The FBI's tactic failed, and the memo was released two days later. When the first of the FBI's Carter Page warrants was declassified in July 2018, it showed that the only material omissions of fact were made by the FBI. The FBI told the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court  that it "believes that [Russia’s] efforts are being coordinated with Page and perhaps other individuals associated with" the Trump campaign. Its source for this belief was Steele, whom it described as "Source #1" and "credible" – all while omitting that the Clinton campaign was footing the bill. In addition, unidentified intelligence and law enforcement officials went out of their way to bolster Steele's image via anonymous leaks to credulous news outlets. "U.S. investigators corroborate some aspects of the Russia dossier," a CNN headline proclaimed in February 2017, weeks after the dossier’s publication. The FBI is "continuing to chase down stuff from the dossier, and, at its core, a lot of it is bearing out," an unidentified "intelligence official" told The New Yorker later that month. The FBI's faith in Steele extended to sharing classified information with him. According to Horowitz, at an October 2016 meeting in Rome, FBI agents gave Steele a “general overview” of Crossfire Hurricane, including its then-secret probes of Manafort, Page, Flynn, and Papadopoulos. The FBI was so eager to enlist Steele that it offered to pay him $15,000 “just for attending” the Rome meeting and a “significantly” greater amount if he could collect more information. This early FBI enthusiasm for Steele – and lengthy record of lying about it -- is hard to square with the bureau’s subsequent claims that he only played a minor role. Durham's Dissent Could Become a Political Flashpoint Despite uncovering FBI deceptions, Horowitz acknowledged that he was relying largely on the word of the officials he was investigating. "We did not find information in FBI or Department ECs [Electronic Communications], emails, or other documents, or through witness testimony, indicating that any information other than the [Friendly Foreign Government] information" – Australia's tip from Downer -- "was relied upon to predicate the opening of the Crossfire Hurricane investigation," his report states. As his dissenting statement made clear, Durham is not limited to one department nor to its employees' voluntary testimony. Durham's grand juries have already yielded indictments of two Clinton campaign-tied operatives for deceptive attempts to influence the FBI's Trump-Russia probe. That Horowitz has already uncovered so many inconsistencies in the FBI's account – and that Durham has gone out of his way to question the FBI predication that Horowitz accepted – suggests that the Steele dossier and the Alfa Bank "secret hotline" story are far from the only fraudulent Trump-Russia activity in Durham's sights. If Durham does unearth additional evidence that the FBI did not launch the Trump-Russia probe in the way that it claims, then that would be yet another devastating revelation for a bureau that has already been caught relying on Clinton-funded disinformation and lying about it. Given how hard the FBI and Democratic Party allies have fought to shield this conduct from scrutiny, Durham's probe could become a major political flashpoint as his probe reaches its final months and hones in on its final targets. Tyler Durden Fri, 01/21/2022 - 20:20.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeJan 21st, 2022

The DOJ has its work cut out after charging 11 Capitol riot defendants with seditious conspiracy, "the closest crime we have to treason"

The DOJ's critics "have to be quieted today," said one ex-prosecutor. "Seditious conspiracy is about as serious as it gets." Surveillance footage shows David Moerschel (red arrow) walking towards the eastern facade of the Capitol at 2:27 pm on January 6.Department of Justice The DOJ's Capitol riot probe took a big step forward when 11 people were charged with seditious conspiracy. One legal expert said the charge represents "the closest crime we have to treason." There are few historical examples of seditious conspiracy convictions, and the DOJ has an uphill battle. The Justice Department on Thursday silenced critics who accused it of being too lenient in the Capitol riot investigation when it charged the leader of the far-right extremist group Oath Keepers and ten others with seditious conspiracy.It's the most significant charge yet in the department's sprawling investigation into the deadly Capitol siege on January 6, 2021 that resulted in the deaths of at least seven people.The 48-page indictment alleges that the defendants planned the Capitol siege in advance and accuses them of attempting to use force to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power. In bringing seditious conspiracy charges, experts said, the Justice Department confirmed that it sees at least some elements of the Capitol riot as a coup attempt.The federal seditious conspiracy statute makes it a crime for two or more people to conspire to overthrow, put down, or destroy by force the United States government. It's also a crime to use force to prevent, hinder, or delay the execution of any law of the United States.Barbara McQuade, the former US attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, told Insider that it's a "very serious charge and is rarely used."In charging Oath Keepers leader Elmer Stewart Rhodes and ten others with seditious conspiracy, the Justice Department is acknowledging that the January 6 riot "was a threat to our democracy, not a simple protest that got out of hand," McQuade added.Asha Rangappa, a director of admissions at Yale University's Jackson Institute for Global Affairs, noted that seditious conspiracy is "the closest crime we have to treason."Harry Litman, a longtime former federal prosecutor, also pointed out that the charges fly in the face of those who have criticized the Justice Department for showing too much leniency toward those involved in the failed insurrection."Those who say DOJ hasn't delivered on the most serious charges have to be quieted today," Litman wrote after the charges were unsealed. "Seditious conspiracy is about as serious as it gets."The seditious conspiracy indictment alleged that Rhodes and other co-defendants conspired to "oppose by force the lawful transfer of presidential power."It went on to say that core members of the Oath Keepers not only forced their way into the Capitol but also extensively planned for the siege beforehand, communicating on encrypted messaging apps from December 2020 onward, keeping a "quick reaction force" on standby at a Virginia hotel, and in some cases bringing weapons to Washington, DC, on January 6.Neama Rahmani, a former federal prosecutor, told Insider that a seditious conspiracy indictment "requires an agreement to overthrow the United States government or to prevent the execution of United States law by force, and one overt act in furtherance of the conspiracy."In this case, he added, the US Capitol was breached, which would "easily satisfy" the overt act element.Rhodes, for his part, repeatedly said during interviews with the right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones that he and others were prepared to take extraordinary measures to keep then-President Donald Trump in power.Shortly after the November 2020 election, for instance, he said on Jones' Infowars show that he had armed men stationed outside Washington, DC, who were "prepared to go in if the president calls us up."And on January 20, 2021, two weeks after the failed insurrection and on the day Joe Biden was sworn into office, Rhodes again appeared on Jones' show and urged "local militias" to "get together" and fight the "illegitimate" Biden administration.The DOJ has its work cut out for itThat said, there have been relatively few federal cases involving the Civil War-era charge in US history, and the Justice Department has an uphill battle to fight in making the case against Rhodes and his co-defendants.The last time federal prosecutors secured a seditious conspiracy conviction was in 1995, when Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman, known as the "blind Sheikh," and nine others were found guilty in connection to their plan to blow up a bridge and two tunnels between New York and New Jersey, the United Nations headquarters, and the FBI's headquarters.Four decades earlier, four Puerto Rican activists and more than a dozen others were convicted of seditious conspiracy after they stormed the US Capitol in 1954 and opened fire on the floor of the House of Representatives, the Associated Press reported.The Justice Department also brought seditious conspiracy charges in a 2010 case in which nine members of a Michigan militia were accused of planning to kill a member of local law enforcement and attack law enforcement officers who would gather for the funeral. According to the AP, a judge ordered acquittals on the seditious conspiracy charges because he didn't believe prosecutors had proven that the defendants explicitly planned for a rebellion.McQuade told Insider that although there are few seditious conspiracy cases in US history that resulted in convictions, "the evidence here looks strong."She noted that the encrypted communications between Rhodes and others which appear to show them planning ahead for the Capitol riot "will make for devastating evidence."The next question, legal scholars said, is whether any of the defendants will strike cooperation deals, and who else may have been involved."The question that I have moving forward from this indictment is just how high does this conspiracy go?" Joyce Vance, a former federal prosecutor and a professor at the University of Alabama School of Law, told MSNBC after Thursday's charges were revealed. McQuade echoed that, saying, "Were any Trump advisors working with the Oath Keepers to plan the attack? Who funded their travel and equipment? With a potential 20-year sentence for seditious conspiracy, DOJ now has leverage to see if they can obtain evidence from these defendants against others higher up in the chain."Rhodes' plea hearing is set to take place Friday afternoon, where he's expected to plead not guilty. He has said he never entered the US Capitol on January 6, and his lawyer, Jon Moseley, told a local CBS affiliate that his client was arrested as part of a political fishing expedition by Democrats."I don't think any of these charges can be proven at trial," Moseley told CBS 11.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJan 14th, 2022