Advertisements



Indian police are looking into the death of a Russian sausage magnate critical of Putin"s war in Ukraine, who died after an alcohol-fueled trip in the jungle

Pavel Antov's travel companion also died just 2 days prior, the latest in a line of wealthy Putin critics who mysteriously died since the war began. Russian President Vladimir Putin enters a hall at the State Kremlin Palace in Moscow, Russia, on November 29,2022.Contributor/Getty Images Indian authorities are investigating the mysterious death of a Russian lawmaker. Russian sausage magnate Pavel Antov died in India in late December and was a longtime Putin ally. In June, he spoke out against the war in Ukraine. Indian authorities are now investigating. Indian authorities have provided new details about a Putin-linked Russian lawmaker and sausage company owner who mysteriously fell to his death from an Indian hotel where his travel companion died just two days prior.According to The Wall Street Journal, Indian police have discovered new details about the pair of deaths in late December. Russian lawmaker Pavel Antov died in Rayagada, India, two days after his friend, Vladimir Bydanov.The pair had been traveling through the jungle and drinking heavily, sources told The Journal. But their deaths add to a growing list of executives and military officers linked to Putin who have died privately, and at times suspiciously, during the course of the war in Ukraine.Antov, who was a member of the ruling United Russia party, a sausage company owner, and the chairman of the agriculture and environment committee in Vladimir, Russia, had been critical of Putin ahead of his death in December. In June, the BBC reported that Antov shared a Whatsapp message criticizing the war in Ukraine, which he later deleted."It's extremely difficult to call all this anything but terror," the message said. He later backtracked on social media and offered his support for Putin.Months later, Antov and Bydanov traveled to India to visit jungle areas in the eastern Odisha state of the country, according to The Journal. Indian investigators told The Journal that the trip was marked by binge drinking, which began during their plane rides into the country and continued as they visited rural areas."If they don't stop drinking they're going to kill themselves," driver Natabar Mohanty said that he thought to himself during the trip, according to The Journal. So far, Indian investigators have said that there was no foul play.Bydanov, who shared a room with Antov, died of a heart attack on Antov's birthday. His body was cremated the next day and Antov was visibly affected by his friend's loss, The Journal reported.Two days after his friend's death, a hotel staff member saw Antov — who had stopped eating food and drinking water in his grief — punching the air and heading to the roof of the hotel.The staff member rushed to alert the lobby, The Journal reported. When hotel staff reached the roof, they saw Antov's lifeless body at the side of the three-story building.Indian investigators are working on recreating Antov's fall with a dummy fitted to his dimensions to figure out whether he threw himself, was pushed, or fell accidentally — and whether he was still alive at the time of his fall.The bodies of both men were cremated before their remains were sent back to Russia, according to The Journal. Manish Tewari, an Indian parliamentarian, questioned why the men were not buried, per The Journal.Though no foul play has been reported, the deaths come amid a hardening of relations between India and Russia.Antov is at least the 19th Russian executive who has mysteriously perished throughout the course of the war, according to The Journal. Russian energy oligarch Ravil Maganov, 67, died after falling from a hospital window in September. His company had released a statement expressing "deepest concerns" about the Ukraine war.During the same month, another Russian executive with ties to Putin mysteriously fell off of his boat to his death, and in October, a senior military official was found dead in what was officially ruled a "suicide," a cause of death that was deemed suspicious by people close to him.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJan 24th, 2023

Spooky Torts: The 2022 List Of Litigation Horrors

Spooky Torts: The 2022 List Of Litigation Horrors Authored by Jonathan Turley, Here is my annual list of Halloween torts and crimes. Halloween of course remains a holiday seemingly designed for personal injury lawyers around the world and this year’s additions show why. Halloween has everything for a torts-filled holiday: battery, trespass, defamation, nuisance, product liability and more. Particularly with the recent tragedy in South Korea, our annual listing is not intended to belittle the serious losses that can occur on this and other holidays. However, my students and I often discuss the remarkably wide range of torts that comes with All Hallow’s Eve. So, with no further ado, here is this year’s updated list of actual cases related to Halloween. In October 2021, Danielle Thomas, former exotic dancer known as “Pole Assassin” (and the girlfriend of Texas special teams coach Jeff Banks), found herself embroiled in a Halloween tort after the monkey previously used in her act bit a wandering child at the house of horror she created for Halloween. Thomas considers the monkey Gia to be her “emotional support animal.” Thomas goes all out for the holiday and converted her home into a house of horrors, including a maze. She said that the area with Gia was closed off and, as for petting, “no one is allowed to touch her!”  She publicly insisted “No one was viciously attack this a lie, a whole lie! She was not apart of any haunted house, the kid did not have permission to be on the other side of my property!” She even posted a walk-through video of the scene to show the steps that a child would have to take to get to the monkey. Don’t worry folks I got the #MonkeyGate video pic.twitter.com/TAy6leBqDS — Christian Sykes (@ctsykes13) November 2, 2021 She insists in the video that she knows all of the governing legal rules and shows the path in detail. It is not helpful on the defense side: it is not a long path and easy to see how a child might get lost. She later deleted her account (likely after her attorney regained consciousness). The case raises an array of torts including animal liability, licensee liability, negligence, and attractive nuisance claims. In 2022, we often added conversion to the usual torts where multiple versions of the new giant skeleton were stolen, including one particularly ham-handed effort in Austin, Texas caught on video tape: * * * In Berea, Ohio, the promoters of the 7 Floors of Hell haunted house at the Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds appreciate realism but one employee took it a bit too far. An actor brandished this real bowie knife as a prop while pretending to stab an 11-year-old boy’s foot. He then stabbed him. The accident occurred when the actor, 22, approached the boy and stabbed at the ground as a scare tactic. He got too close and accidentally cut through the child’s shoe, piercing a toe. The injury was not serious since the boy was treated at the scene and continued through the haunted house. The case raises an interesting question of “respondeat superior” for the negligent acts by employees in the course of employment. The question is what is in the scope of employment.  The question is often whether an employee was on a “detour” or “frolic.”  A detour can be outside of an employer’s policies or guidelines but will be the basis for liability as sufficiently related to the employment.  A frolic is a more serious deviation where the employee is acting in his own capacity or for his own interests. In this case, the actor was clearly within his scope of employment in trying to scare the visitors. However, he admitted that he bought the knife in his personal capacity and agreed it “was not a good idea” to use it at the haunted house, according to FOX 8. That still does not negate the negligence — both direct and vicarious liability. There was a failure to monitor employees and safeguard the scene. His negligence is also likely attributable to the employer. Finally, this would constitute battery as a reckless, though unintended, act. * * * In 2020, parents in Indiana were given a warning in a Facebook post that the Indiana State Police seized holiday edibles featuring packaging that resembles that of actual name brands — but with the word “medicated” printed on the wrapper along with cannabis symbols. The packaging makes it easy for homeowners to confuse packages and give out drugged candy.  Indeed, last year, two children were given THC-infused gummies while trick-or-treating, according to police in Waterford, Conn.. Such candies include the main active ingredient linked to the psychedelic effects of cannabis – the plant from which marijuana is derived. Even an accidental distribution of such infused candies would constitute child endangerment and be subject to both negligence and strict liability actions in torts. * * * I previously have written how the fear of razor blades in apples appears an urban legend. Well, give it enough time and someone will prove you wrong. That is the allegation of Waterbury, Connecticut police who say that Jason A. Racz, 37, put razor blades in candy bags of at least two trick-or-treaters. Racz’ razor defense may not be particularly convincing to the average juror. According to police, “Racz explained that the razor blades were accidentally spilled or put into the candy bowl he used to hand out candy from.” However, police noted that he “provided no explanation as to how the razor blades were handed out to the children along with the candy.” The charge was brought soon after Halloween in 2019. Racz is now charged with risk of injury to a minor, reckless endangerment and interfering with a police officer. He could also be charged with battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress, but it is not clear if any children were injured. *  *  * Steven Novak, an artist from Dallas, Texas, believes that Halloween should be a bit more than a traditional plastic pumpkin and a smiling ghost.  Police were called to his home in Texas over a possible murder. They found a dummy impaled on a chainsaw with fake blood; another dummy hanging from his roof; a wheelbarrow full of fake dismembered body parts and other gory scenes.  Neighbors called the display too traumatizing.  Police responded by taking pictures for their families. A tort action for intentional infliction of emotional distress is likely to fail. There must be not just outrageous conduct but conduct intended to cause severe emotional distress. Courts regularly exclude injuries associated with the exercise of free speech or artistic expression . . . even when accompanied by buckets of fake blood. *  *  * The Dorney Park and Wildwater Kingdom in Pennsylvania tells customers that, if they come to their Halloween Haunt, “Fear is waiting for you.” In 2019, a new case was filed by Shannon Sacco and her daughter over injuries sustained from “unreasonable scaring.” They are seeking $150,000. The Allentown Morning Call reported that “M.S.” went with friends to the amusement park and was immediately approached by costumed characters. She said that she told them that she did not want to be scared and backed away. A little further on into the park however a costumed employee allegedly ran up behind her and shouted loudly. The startled girl fell forward and suffered what were serious but unspecified injuries. She alleges ongoing medical issues and inability to return to fully functioning activities. The lawsuit also alleges that the park failed to inform Sacco or her daughter that they could buy a glow-in-the-dark “No Boo” necklace to ward off costumed employees. The obvious issue beyond the alleged negligence of the Park is the plaintiffs’ own conduct. Pennsylvania is a comparative negligence state so contributory negligence by the plaintiffs would not be a bar to recovery. See Pennsylvania General Assembly Statute §7102. However, it is a modified comparative negligence state so they must show that they are 50 percent or less at fault. If they are found 51 percent at fault, they are barred entirely from recovery. Even if they can recover, their damages are reduced by the percentage of their own fault in going to a park during a Halloween-themed event. *  *  * In 2019, there is a rare public petition to shutdown a haunted house that has been declared to be a “torture chamber.” The move to “shut down McKamey Manor” that has been signed by thousands who believe Russ McKamey, the owner of McKamey Manor, has made his house so scary that it constitutes torture, including an allegation of waterboarding of visitors. The haunted house requires participants to get a doctor’s note and sign a 40-page waiver before they enter. People are seeking the closure of the houses located in Summertown, Tennessee and Huntsville, Alabama. McKamey insists that it is just a “crazy haunted house” and stops well short of the legal-definition of torture. The question is whether consent vitiates any extreme frights or contacts. He is also clear in both the waiver and the website that the house is an “extreme haunted attraction” for legal adults who “must be in GREAT HEALTH to participate.” Not only do people enter with full knowledge but there is no charge. McKamey owns five dogs and only requires a bag of dog food for entry. Presumably the food is cursed. *  *  * An earlier case was recently made public from an accident on October 15, 2011 in San Diego. Scott Griffin and friends went to the Haunted Trail in San Diego. The ticket warns of “high-impact scares” along a mile path with actors brandishing weapons and scary items. Griffen, 44, and his friends went on the trail and were going out of what they thought was an exit. Suddenly an actor jumped out as part of what the attraction called “the Carrie effect” of a last minute scare. While Griffen said that he tried to back away, the actor followed him with a running chain saw. He fell backwards and injured his wrists. The 2013 lawsuit against the Haunted Hotel, Inc., in the Superior Court of California, County of San Diego, alleged negligence and assault. However, Superior Court Judge Katherine Bacal granted a motion to dismiss based on assumption of the risk. She noted that Griffin “was still within the scare experience that he purchased.” After all, “Who would want to go to a haunted house that is not scary?” Griffen then appealed and the attorney for the Haunted Hotel quoted Hunter S. Thompson: “Buy the ticket, take the ride.” Again, the court agreed. In upholding the lower court, Justice Gilbert Nares wrote, “Being chased within the physical confines of the Haunted Trail by a chain saw–carrying maniac is a fundamental part and inherent risk of this amusement. Griffin voluntarily paid money to experience it.” *  *  * In 2018, a case emerged in Madison, Tennessee from the Nashville Nightmare Haunted House.   James “Jay” Yochim and three of his pals went to the attraction composed of  four separate haunted houses, an escape room, carnival games and food vendors.  In the attraction, people are chased by characters with chainsaws and other weapons.  They were not surprised therefore when a man believed to be an employee in a Halloween costume handed Tawnya Greenfield a knife and told her to stab Yochim.  She did and thought it was all pretend until blood started to pour from Yochim’s arm. The knife was real and the man was heard apologizing “I didn’t know my knife was that sharp.” It is not clear how even stabbing with a dull knife would be considered safe. The attraction issued a statement: “As we have continued to review the information, we believe that an employee was involved in some way, and he has been placed on leave until we can determine his involvement. We are going over all of our safety protocols with all of our staff again, as the safety and security of all of our patrons is always our main concern. We have not been contacted by the police, but we will cooperate fully with any official investigation.” The next scary moment is likely to be in the form of a torts complaint.  Negligence against the company under respondeat superior is an obvious start. There is also a novel battery charge where he could claim that he was stabbed by trickery or deceit of a third person. There are also premises liability issues for invitees.  As for Greenfield, she claims to have lacked consent due to a misrepresentation.  She could be charged with negligence or a recklessness-based theory of battery, though that seems less likely.  Finally, there is an interesting possible claim of negligent infliction of emotional distress in being tricked or misled into stabbing an individual. *  *  * Last year, a 21-year-old man surnamed Cheung was killed by a moving coffin in a haunted house in Hong Kong’s Ocean Park.   The attraction is called “Buried Alive” and involves hopping into coffins for a downward slide into a dark and scary space. The ride promises to provide people with the “experience of being buried alive alone, before fighting their way out of their dark and eerie grave.” Cheung took a wrong turn and went backstage — only to be hit by one of the metal coffins.  The hit in the head killed Cheung who was found later in the haunted house. While there is no word of a tort lawsuit (and tort actions are rarer in Hong Kong), the case is typical of Halloween torts involving haunted houses.  The decor often emphasizes spooky and dark environs which both encourage terror and torts among the participants.  In this case, an obvious claim could be made that it is negligence to allow such easy access to the operational area of the coffin ride — particularly in a dark space.  As a business invitee, Cheung would have a strong case in the United States. *  *  * A previous addition to the Spooky torts was the odd case of Assistant Prosecutor Chris White. White clearly does not like spiders, even fake ones. That much was clear given his response to finding fake spiders scattered around the West Virginia office for Halloween. White pulled a gun and threatened to shoot the fake spiders, explaining that he is “deathly afraid of spiders.” It appears that his arachnophobia (fear of spiders) was not matched by a hoplophobia (fear of firearms). The other employees were reportedly shaken up and Logan County Prosecuting Attorney John Bennett later suspended White. Bennett said “He said they had spiders everyplace and he said he told them it wasn’t funny, and he couldn’t stand them, and he did indeed get a gun out. It had no clip in it, of course they wouldn’t know that, I wouldn’t either if I looked at it, to tell you the truth.” It is not clear how White thought threatening the decorative spiders would keep them at bay or whether he was trying to deter those who sought to deck out the office in a Halloween theme. He was not charged by his colleagues with a crime but was suspended for his conduct. This is not our first interaction with White. He was the prosecutor in the controversial (and in my view groundless) prosecution of Jared Marcum, who was arrested after wearing a NRA tee shirt to school. *  *  * Another new case from the last year involves a murder. Donnie Cochenour Jr., 27, got a seasonal break (at least temporarily) on detecting his alleged murder of Rebecca J. Cade, 31. Cade’s body was left hanging on a fence and was mistaken by neighbors as a Halloween decoration. The “decoration” was found by a man walking his dog and reported by construction workers. A large rock was found with blood on it nearby. Donnie Cochenour Jr., 27, was later arrested and ordered held on $2 million bond after he pleaded not guilty to murder. Cade apparently had known Cochenour since he was a child — a relationship going back 20 years. Cochenour reportedly admitted that they had a physical altercation in the field. Police found a blood trail that indicates that Cade was running from Cochenour and tried to climb the fence in an attempt to get away. She was found hanging from her sleeve and is believed to have died on the fence from blunt force trauma to the head and neck. Her body exhibited “defensive wounds.” When police arrested Cochenour, they found blood on is clothing. *  *  * In 2015, federal and state governments were cracking down on cosmetic contact lenses to give people spooky eyes. Owners and operators of 10 Southern California businesses were criminally charged in federal court with illegally selling cosmetic contact lenses without prescriptions. Some of the products that were purchased in connection with this investigation were contaminated with dangerous pathogens that can cause eye injury, blindness and loss of the eye. The products are likely to result in a slew of product liability actions. *  *  * Another 2015 case reflects that the scariest part of shopping for Halloween costumes or decorations may be the trip to the Party Store. Shanisha L. Saulsberry sued U.S. Toy Company, Inc. after she was injured shopping for Halloween costumes and a store rack fell on her. The jury awarded Saulsberry $7,216.00 for economic damages. She appealed the damages after evidence of her injuries were kept out of the trial by the court. However, the Missouri appellate court affirmed the ruling. *  *  * The case of Castiglione v. James F. Q., 115 A.D.3d 696, shows a classic Halloween tort. The lawsuit alleged that, on Halloween 2007, the defendant’s son threw an egg which hit the plaintiff’s daughter in the eye, causing her injuries. The plaintiff also brought criminal charges against the defendant’s son arising from this incident and the defendant’s son pleaded guilty to assault in the third degree (Penal Law § 120.00 [2]). However, at his deposition, the defendant’s son denied throwing the egg which allegedly struck the plaintiff’s daughter. Because of the age of the accused, the case turned on the youthful offender statute (CPL art 720) that provides special measures for persons found to be youthful offenders which provides “Except where specifically required or permitted by statute or upon specific authorization of the court, all official records and papers, whether on file with the court, a police agency or the division of criminal justice services, relating to a case involving a youth who has been adjudicated a youthful offender, are confidential and may not be made available to any person or public or private agency [with certain exceptions not relevant here]” (CPL 720.35 [2]). This covers both the physical documents constituting the official record and the information contained within those documents. Thus, in relation to the Halloween egging, the boy was protected from having to disclose information or answer questions regarding the facts underlying the adjudication *  *  * We discussed the perils of pranks and “jump frights,” particularly with people who do not necessarily consent. In the case of Christian Faith Benge, there appears to have been consent in visiting a haunted house. The sophomore from New Miami High School in Ohio died from a prior medical condition at the at Land of Illusion haunted house. She was halfway through the house with about 100 friends and family members when she collapsed. She had an enlarged heart four times its normal size. She also was born with congenital diaphragmatic hernia, which prevents the lungs from developing normally. This added stress to the heart. In such a case, consent and comparative negligence issues effectively bar recovery in most cases. It is a terrible loss of a wonderful young lady. However, some fatalities do not always come with liability and this appears such a case. Source: Journal News *  *  * As discussed earlier, In Franklin County, Tennessee, children may want to avoid the house of Dale Bryant Farris, 65, this Halloween . . . or houses near him. Bryant was arrested after shooting a 15-year-old boy who was with kids toilet-papering their principal’s front yard. Bryant came out of his house a couple of houses down from the home of Principal Ken Bishop and allegedly fired at least two blasts — one hitting a 15-year-old boy in the right foot, inner left knee, right palm, right thigh and right side of his torso above the waistline. Tennessee is a Castle Doctrine state and we have seen past cases like the notorious Tom Horn case in Texas where homeowners claimed the right to shoot intruders on the property of their neighbors. It is not clear if Bryant will argue that he was trying to stop intruders under the law, but it does not appear a good fit with the purpose or language of the law. Farris faces a charge of aggravated assault and another of reckless endangerment. He could also face civil liability from the boy’s family. This would include assault and battery. There is a privilege of both self-defense and defense of others. This privilege included reasonable mistaken self-defense or defense of others. This would not fit such a claim since he effectively pursued the boys by going to a neighbor’s property and there was no appearance of a threat or weapon since they were only armed with toilet paper. The good news is that Farris can now discard the need for a costume. He can go as himself at Halloween . . . as soon as he is out of jail. *  *  * As shown below, Halloween nooses have a bad record at parties. In 2012, a club called Pink Punters had a decorative noose that it had used for a number of years that allowed party goers to take pictures as a hanging victim on Halloween. Of course, you guessed it. A 25-year old man was found hanging from the noose in an accidental self-lynching at the nightclub in England. The case would appear easy to defend in light of the assumption of the risk and patent danger. The noose did not actually tighten around necks. Moreover, this is England where tort claims can be more challenging. In the United States, however, there would remain the question of a foreseeable accident in light of the fact that patrons are drinking heavily and drugs are often present at nightclubs. Since patrons are known to put their heads in the noose, the combination is intoxication and a noose is not a particularly good mix. *  *  * Grant v. Grant. A potential criminal and tort case comes to us from Pennsylvania where, at a family Halloween bonfire, Janet Grant spotted a skunk and told her son Thomas Grant to fetch a shotgun and shoot it. When he returned, Janet Grant shined a flashlight on the animal while her son shot it. It was only then that they discovered that Thomas Grant had just shot his eight-year-old cousin in her black and white Halloween costume. What is amazing is that authorities say that they are considering possible animal gaming charges. Fortunately, the little girl survived with a wound to the shoulder and abdomen. The police in Beaver County have not brought charges and alcohol does not appear to have been a factor. Putting aside the family connection (which presumably makes the likelihood of a lawsuit unlikely), there is a basis for both battery and negligence in such a wounding. With children in the area, the discharge of the firearm would seem pretty unreasonable even with the effort to illuminate “the animal.” Moreover, this would have to have been a pretty large skunk to be the size of an eight-year-old child. Just for the record, the average weight of a standard spotted skunk in that area is a little over 1 pound. The biggest skunk is a hog-nosed skunk that can reach up to 18 pounds. *  *  * We also have a potential duel case out of Aiken, South Carolina from one year ago. A 10-year-old Aiken trick-or-treater pulled a gun on a woman who joked that she wanted take his candy on Halloween. Police found that his brother, also ten, had his own weapon. The 28-year-old woman said that she merely joked with a group of 10 or so kids that she wanted their candy when the ten-year-old pulled out a 9 mm handgun and said “no you’re not.” While the magazine was not in the gun, he had a fully loaded magazine in his possession. His brother had the second gun. Both appear to have belonged to their grandfather. The children were released to their parents and surprisingly there is no mention of charges against the grandfather. While the guns appear to have been taken without his permission, it shows great negligence in the handling and storage of the guns. What would be interesting is a torts lawsuit by the woman for assault against the grandfather. The actions of third parties often cut off liability as a matter of proximate causation, though courts have held that you can be liable for creating circumstances where crimes or intentional torts are foreseeable. For example, a landlord was held liable in for crimes committed in his building in Kline v. 1500 Massachusetts Avenue. Here the grandfather’s negligence led to the use of the guns by these children. While a lawsuit is unlikely, it would certainly be an interesting — and not unwarranted — claim. *  *  * Tauton High School District The Massachusetts case of Smith v. Taunton High School involves a Halloween prank gone bad. A teacher at Taunton High School asked a 15-year-old student to answer a knock on the classroom door. The boy was startled when he came face to face with a man in a mask and carrying what appeared to be a running chainsaw. The student fell back, tripped and fractured a kneecap. His family is now suing though the state cap on such lawsuits is $100,000. Dussault said the family is preparing a lawsuit, but is exploring ways to avoid a trial and do better than the $100,000 cap when suing city employees. This could make for an interesting case, but would be better for the Plaintiffs as a bench versus a jury trial. Many jurors are likely to view this as simply an attempt at good fun by the teacher and an unforeseeable accident. Source: CBS *  *  * In Florida, a woman has sued for defamation, harassment and emotional distress after her neighbor set up decorations that included an insane asylum sign that pointed to her yard and a fake tombstone with an inscription she viewed as a reference to her single status. It read, “At 48 she had no mate no date/ It’s no debate she looks 88.” This could be a wonderful example of an opinion defense to defamation. As for emotional distress, I think the cause of the distress pre-dates Halloween. *  *  * Pieczonka v. Great America (2012) A family is suing Great America for a tort in 2011 at Great Falls. Father Marian Pieczonka alleged in his complaint that his young daughter Natalie was at the park in Gurnee, Illinois for the Halloween-themed Fright Fest when a park employee dressed in costume jumped out of a port-a-potty and shot her with a squirt gun. He then reported chased the screaming girl until she fell and suffered injuries involving scrapes and bruises. The lawsuit alleges negligence in encouraging employees to chase patrons given the tripping hazards. They are asking $30,000 in the one count complaint but could face assumption or comparative negligence questions, particularly in knowingly attending an event called “Fright Fest” where employees were known to jump out at patrons. *  *  * A lawsuit appears inevitable after a tragic accident in St. Louis where a 17-year-old girl is in a critical condition after she became tangled in a noose at a Halloween haunted house called Creepyworld. The girl was working as an actress at the attraction and was found unconscious. What is particularly chilling is that people appeared to have walked by her hanging in the house and thought she was a realistic prop. Notably, the attraction had people walk through to check on the well-being of actors and she was discovered but not for some time after the accident. She is in critical condition. Creepyworld employs 100 people and can expect a negligence lawsuit. *  *  * Rabindranath v. Wallace (2010) Peter Wallace, 24, was returning on a train with fellow Hiberinian soccer fans in England — many dressed in costumes (which the English call “fancy dress.”) One man was dressed as a sheep and Wallace thought it was funny to constantly flick his lighter near the cotton balls covering his body — until he burst into flames. Friends then made the matter worse by trying to douse the flames but throwing alcohol on the flaming man-sheep. Even worse, the victim Arjuna Rabindranath, 24, is an Aberdeen soccer fan. Rabindranath’s costume was composed of a white tracksuit and cotton wool. Outcome: Wallace is the heir to a large farm estate and agreed to pay damages to the victim, who experienced extensive burns. What is fascinating is the causation issue. Here, Wallace clearly caused the initial injury which was then made worse by the world’s most dim-witted rescue attempt in the use of alcohol to douse a fire. In the United States, the original tortfeasor is liable for such injuries caused by negligent rescues. Indeed, he is liable for injured rescuers. The rescuers can also be sued in most states. However, many areas of Europe have good Samaritan laws protecting such rescuers. Notably, Wallace had a previous football-related conviction which was dealt with by a fine. In this latest case, he agreed to pay 25,000 in compensation. The case is obviously similar to one of our prior Halloween winners below: Ferlito v. Johnson & Johnson *  *  * Perper v. Forum Novelties (2010) Sherri Perper, 56, of Queens, New York has filed a personal injury lawsuit due to defective shoes allegedly acquired from Forum Novelties. The shoes were over-sized clown shoes that she was wearing as part of her Halloween costume in 2008. She tripped and fell. She is reportedly claiming that the shoes were dangerous. While “open and obvious” is no longer an absolute defense in such products cases, such arguments may still be made to counter claims of defective products. In most jurisdictions, you must show that the product is more dangerous than the expectations of the ordinary consumer. It is hard to see how Perper could be surprised that it is a bit difficult to walk in over-sized shoes. Then there is the problem of assumption of the risk. *  *  * Dickson v. Hustonville Haunted House and Greg Walker (2009) Glenda Dickson, 51, broke four vertebrae in her back when she fell out of a second story window left open at the Hustonville Haunted House, owned by Greg Walker. Dickson was in a room called “The Crying Lady in the Bed” when one of the actors came up behind the group and started screaming. Everyone jumped in fright and Dickson jumped back through an open window that was covered with a sheet — a remarkably negligent act by the haunted house operator. She landed on a fire escape and then fell down some stairs. *  *  * Maryland v. Janik (2009) Sgt. Eric Janik, 37, went to a haunted house called the House of Screams with friends and when confronted by a character dressed as Leatherface with a chainsaw (sans the chain, of course), Janik pulled out his service weapon and pointed it at the man, who immediately dropped character, dropped the chainsaw, and ran like a bat out of Halloween Hell. Outcome: Janik is charged with assault and reckless endangerment for his actions. Charges pending. *  *  * Patrick v. South Carolina (2009) Quentin Patrick, 22, an ex-convict in Sumter, South Carolina shot and killed a trick-or-treater T.J. Darrisaw who came to his home on Halloween — spraying nearly 30 rounds with an assault rifle from inside his home after hearing a knock on the door. T.J.’s 9-year- old brother, Ahmadre Darrisaw, and their father, Freddie Grinnell, were injured but were released after being treated at a hospital. Patrick left his porch light on — a general signal for kids that the house was open for trick and treating. The boy’s mother and toddler sibling were in the car. Patrick emptied the AK-47 — shooting at least 29 times through his front door, walls and windows after hearing the knock. He said that he had been previously robbed. That may be so, but it is unclear what an ex-con was doing with a gun, let alone an AK-47. OUTCOME: Charges pending for murder. *  *  * Kentucky v. Watkins (2008) As a Halloween prank, restaurant manager Joe Watkins of the Chicken Ranch in Paris, Kentucky thought it was funny to lie in a pool of blood on the floor. After seeing Watkins on the floor, the woman went screaming from the restaurant to report the murder. Watkins said that the prank was for another employee and that he tried to call the woman back on her cell phone. OUTCOME: Under Kentucky law, a person can be charged with a false police report, even if he is not the one who filed it. The police charged Watkins for causing the woman to file the report — a highly questionable charge. *  *  * Mays v. Gretna Athletic Boosters␣95-717 (La.App. 5 Cir. 01/17/96) “Defendant operated a haunted house at Mel Ott Playground in Gretna to raise money for athletic programs. The haunted house was constructed of 2×4s and black visqueen. There were numerous cubbyholes where “scary” exhibits were displayed. One booster club member was stationed at the entrance and one at the exit. Approximately eighteen people participated in the haunted house by working the exhibits inside. Near and along the entrance of the haunted house was a bathroom building constructed of cinder blocks. Black visqueen covered this wall. Plaintiff and her daughter’s friend, about 10 years old, entered the haunted house on October 29, 1988. It was nighttime and was dark inside. Plaintiff testified someone jumped out and hollered, scaring the child into running. Plaintiff was also frightened and began to run. She ran directly into the visqueen-covered cinder block wall. There was no lighting in that part of the haunted house. Plaintiff hit the wall face first and began bleeding profusely from her nose. She testified two surgeries were required to repair her nose.” OUTCOME: In order to get the proper effect, haunted houses are dark and contain scary and/or shocking exhibits. Patrons in a Halloween haunted house are expected to be surprised, startled and scared by the exhibits but the operator does not have a duty to guard against patrons reacting in bizarre, frightened and unpredictable ways. Operators are duty bound to protect patrons only from unreasonably dangerous conditions, not from every conceivable danger. As found by the Trial Court, defendant met this duty by constructing the haunted house with rooms of adequate size and providing adequate personnel and supervision for patrons entering the house. Defendant’s duty did not extend to protecting plaintiff from running in a dark room into a wall. Our review of the entire record herein does not reveal manifest error committed by the Trial Court or that the Trial Court’s decision was clearly wrong. Plaintiff has not shown the haunted house was unreasonably dangerous or that defendant’s actions were unreasonable. Thus, the Trial Court judgment must be affirmed. *  *  * Powell v. Jacor Communications␣ UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SIXTH CIRCUIT 320 F.3d 599 (6th Cir.2003) “On October 15, 1999, Powell visited a Halloween season haunted house in Lexington, Kentucky that was owned and operated by Jacor. She was allegedly hit in the head with an unidentified object by a person she claims was dressed as a ghost. Powell was knocked unconscious and injured. She contends that she suffered a concussion and was put on bed rest and given medications by emergency-room physicians. Powell further claims that she now suffers from several neuropsychological disorders as a result of the incident.” OUTCOME: Reversed dismissal on the basis of tolling of statute of limitations. *  *  * Kansas City Light & Power Company v. Trimble␣ 315 Mo. 32; 285 S.W. 455 (1926) Excerpt: “A shapely pole to which, twenty-two feet from the ground is attached a non-insulated electric wire . . Upon a shapely pole were standard steps eighteen inches apart; about seventeen feet from the ground were telephone wires, and five feet above them was a non-insulated electric light wire. On Halloween, about nine o’clock, a bright fourteen-year-old boy and two companions met close to the pole, and some girls dressed as clowns came down the street. As they came near the boy, saying, “Who dares me to walk the wire?” began climbing the pole, using the steps, and ascended to the telephone cables, and thereupon his companions warned him about the live wire and told him to come down. He crawled upon the telephone cables to a distance of about ten feet from the pole, and when he reached that point a companion again warned him of the live wire over his head, and threatened to throw a rock at him and knock him off if he did not come down. Whereupon he turned about and crawled back to the pole, and there raised himself to a standing position, and then his foot slipped, and involuntarily he threw up his arm, his hand clutched the live wire, and he was shocked to death.” OUTCOME: Frankly, I am not sure why the pole was so “shapely” but the result was disappointing for the plaintiffs. Kansas City Light & Power Company v. Trimble: The court held that the appellate court extended the attractive nuisance doctrine beyond the court’s ruling decisions. The court held that appellate court’s opinion on the contributory negligence doctrine conflicted with the court’s ruling decisions. The court held that the administrator’s case should never have been submitted to the jury. The court quashed the appellate opinion. “To my mind it is inconceivable that a bright, intelligent boy, doing well in school, past fourteen years of age and living in the city, would not understand and appreciate the fact that it would be dangerous to come in contact with an electric wire, and that he was undertaking a dangerous feat in climbing up the pole; but even if it may be said that men might differ on that proposition, still in this case he was warned of the wire and of the danger on account of the wire and that, too, before he had reached a situation where there was any occasion or necessity of clutching the wire to avoid a fall. Not only was he twice warned but he was repeatedly told and urged to come down.” *  *  * Purtell v. Mason␣ 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 49064 (E.D. Ill. 2006) “The Purtells filed the present lawsuit against Defendant Village of Bloomingdale Police Officer Bruce Mason after he requested that they remove certain Halloween tombstone “decorations” from their property. Evidence presented at trial revealed that the Purtells placed the tombstones referring to their neighbors in their front yard facing the street. The tombstones specifically referred to their neighbors, who saw the language on the tombstones. For instance, the tombstone that referred to the Purtells’ neighbor James Garbarz stated: Here Lies Jimmy, The OlDe Towne IdioT MeAn As sin even withouT his Gin No LonGer Does He wear That sTupiD Old Grin . . . Oh no, noT where they’ve sent Him! The tombstone referring to the Purtells’ neighbor Betty Garbarz read: BeTTe wAsN’T ReADy, BuT here she Lies Ever since that night she DieD. 12 feet Deep in this trench . . . Still wasn’T Deep enough For that wenches Stench! In addition, the Purtells placed a Halloween tombstone in their yard concerning their neighbor Diane Lesner stating: Dyean was Known for Lying So She was fried. Now underneath these daises is where she goes crazy!! Moreover, the jury heard testimony that Diane Lesner, James Garbarz, and Betty Garbarz were upset because their names appeared on the tombstones. Betty Garbarz testified that she was so upset by the language on the tombstones that she contacted the Village of Bloomingdale Police Department. She further testified that she never had any doubt that the “Bette” tombstone referred to her. After seeing the tombstones, she stated that she was ashamed and humiliated, but did not talk to Jeffrey Purtell about them because she was afraid of him. Defense counsel also presented evidence that the neighbors thought the language on the tombstones constituted threats and that they were alarmed and disturbed by their names being on the tombstones. James Garbarz testified that he interpreted the “Jimmy” tombstone as a threat and told the police that he felt threatened by the tombstone. He also testified that he had concerns about his safety and what Jeffrey Purtell might do to him.” OUTCOME: The court denied the homeowners’ post-trial motion for judgment as a matter of law pursuant to and motion for a new trial. Viewing the evidence and all reasonable inferences in a light most favorable to Officer Mason, a rational jury could conclude that the language on the tombstones constituted threats, that the neighbors were afraid of Jeffrey Purtell, and that they feared for their safety. As such the Court will not disturb the jury’s conclusion that the tombstones constituted fighting words — “those which by their very utterance inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace.” *  *  * Goodwin v. Walmart 2001 Ark. App. LEXIS 78 “On October 12, 1993, Randall Goodwin went to a Wal-Mart store located on 6th Street in Fayetteville, Arkansas. He entered through the front door and walked toward the sporting goods department. In route, he turned down an aisle known as the seasonal aisle. At that time, it was stocked with items for Halloween. This aisle could be observed from the cash registers. Mr. Goodwin took only a few steps down the aisle when he allegedly stepped on a wig and fell, landing on his right hip. As a result of the fall, Mr. Goodwin suffered severe physical injury to his back, including a ruptured disk. Kelly Evans, an employee for appellee, was standing at the end of her check-out stand when Mr. Goodwin approached her and informed her that he had fallen on an item in the seasonal aisle. She stated that she “saw what he was talking about.” OUTCOME: Judgment affirmed because the pleadings, depositions, and related summary judgment evidence did not show that there was any genuine issue of material fact as appellant customer did not establish a plastic bag containing the Halloween wig which allegedly caused him to slip and fall was on the floor as the result of appellee’s negligence or it had been on the floor for such a period of time that appellee knew or should have known about it. *  *  * Eversole v. Wasson␣ 80 Ill. App. 3d 94 (Ill. 1980) Excerpt: “The following allegations of count I, directed against defendant Wasson, were incorporated in count II against the school district: (1) plaintiff was a student at Villa Grove High School which was controlled and administered by the defendant school district, (2) defendant Wasson was employed by the school district as a teacher at the high school, (3) on November 1, 1978, at approximately 12:30 p.m., Wasson was at the high school in his regular capacity as a teacher and plaintiff was attending a regularly scheduled class, (4) Wasson sought and received permission from another teacher to take plaintiff from that teacher’s class and talk to him in the hallway, (5) once in the hallway, Wasson accused plaintiff of being one of several students he believed had smashed Wasson’s Halloween pumpkin at Wasson’s home, (6) without provocation from plaintiff, Wasson berated plaintiff, called him vile names, and threatened him with physical violence while shaking his fist in plaintiff’s face which placed plaintiff in fear of bodily injury, (7) Wasson then struck plaintiff about the head and face with both an open hand and a closed fist and shook and shoved him violently, (8) as a result, plaintiff was bruised about the head, neck, and shoulders; experienced pain and suffering in his head, body, and limbs; and became emotionally distraught causing his school performance and participation to be adversely affected . . .” OUTCOME: The court affirmed that portion of the lower court’s order that dismissed the count against the school district and reversed that portion of the lower court’s order that entered a judgment in bar of action as to this count. The court remanded the case to the lower court with directions to allow the student to replead his count against the school district. *  *  * Holman v. Illinois 47 Ill. Ct. Cl. 372 (1995) “The Claimant was attending a Halloween party at the Illinois State Museum with her grandson on October 26, 1990. The party had been advertised locally in the newspaper and through flier advertisements. The advertisement requested that children be accompanied by an adult, to come in costume and to bring a flashlight. The museum had set up different display rooms to hand out candy to the children and give the appearance of a “haunted house.” The Claimant entered the Discovery Room with her grandson. Under normal conditions the room is arranged with tables and low-seated benches for children to use in the museum’s regular displays. These tables and benches had been moved into the upper-right-hand corner of the Discovery Room next to the wall. In the middle of the room, there was a “slime pot” display where the children received the Halloween treat. The overhead fluorescent lights were turned off; however, the track lights on the left side of the room were turned on and dim. The track lights on the right side of the room near the tables and benches were not lit. The room was dark enough that the children’s flashlights could be clearly seen. There were approximately 40-50 people in the room at the time of the accident. The Claimant entered the room with her grandson. They proceeded in the direction of the pot in the middle of the room to see what was going in the pot. Her grandson then ran around the pot to the right corner toward the wall. As the Claimant followed, she tripped over the corner of a bench stored in that section of the room. She fell, making contact with the left corner of the bench. She experienced great pain in her upper left arm. The staff helped her to her feet. Her father was called and she went to the emergency room. Claimant has testified that she did not see the low-seating bench because it was so dimly lit in the Discovery Room. The Claimant was treated at the emergency room, where she was diagnosed with a fracture of the proximal humeral head of her left arm as a result of the fall. Claimant returned home, but was unable to work for 12 to 13 weeks.” OUTCOME: “The Claimant has met her burden of proof. She has shown by a preponderance of the evidence that the State acted negligently in placing furnishings in a dimly-lit room where visitors could not know of their location. The State did not exercise its duty of reasonable care. For the foregoing reasons, the Claimant is granted an award of $20,000.” *  *  * Ferlito v. Johnson & Johnson 771 F. Supp. 196 “Plaintiffs Susan and Frank Ferlito, husband and wife, attended a Halloween party in 1984 dressed as Mary (Mrs. Ferlito) and her little lamb (Mr. Ferlito). Mrs. Ferlito had constructed a lamb costume for her husband by gluing cotton batting manufactured by defendant Johnson & Johnson Products (“JJP”) to a suit of long underwear. She had also used defendant’s product to fashion a headpiece, complete with ears. The costume covered Mr. Ferlito from his head to his ankles, except for his face and hands, which were blackened with Halloween paint. At the party Mr. Ferlito attempted to light his cigarette by using a butane lighter. The flame passed close to his left arm, and the cotton batting on his left sleeve ignited. Plaintiffs sued defendant for injuries they suffered from burns which covered approximately one-third of Mr. Ferlito’s body.” OUTCOME: Ferlito v. Johnson & Johnson: Plaintiffs repeatedly stated in their response brief that plaintiff Susan Ferlito testified that “she would never again use cotton batting to make a costume.” Plaintiffs’ Answer to Defendant JJP’s Motion for J.N.O.V., pp. 1, 3, 4, 5. However, a review of the trial transcript reveals that plaintiff Susan Ferlito never testified that she would never again use cotton batting to make a costume. More importantly, the transcript contains no statement by plaintiff Susan Ferlito that a flammability warning on defendant JJP’s product would have dissuaded her from using the cotton batting to construct the costume in the first place. At oral argument counsel for plaintiffs conceded that there was no testimony during the trial that either plaintiff Susan Ferlito or her husband, plaintiff Frank J. Ferlito, would  have acted any different if there had been a flammability warning on the product’s package. The absence of such testimony is fatal to plaintiffs’ case; for without it, plaintiffs have failed to prove proximate cause, one of the essential elements of their negligence claim. In addition, both plaintiffs testified that they knew that cotton batting burns when it is exposed to flame. Susan Ferlito testified that she knew at the time she purchased the cotton batting that it would burn if exposed to an open flame. Frank Ferlito testified that he knew at the time he appeared at the Halloween party that cotton batting would burn if exposed to an open flame. His additional testimony that he would not have intentionally put a flame to the cotton batting shows that he recognized the risk of injury of which he claims JJP should have warned. Because both plaintiffs were already aware of the danger, a warning by JJP would have been superfluous. Therefore, a reasonable jury could not have found that JJP’s failure to provide a warning was a proximate cause of plaintiffs’ injuries. The evidence in this case clearly demonstrated that neither the use to which plaintiffs put JJP’s product nor the injuries arising from that use were foreseeable. But in Trivino v. Jamesway Corporation, the following result: The mother purchased cosmetic puffs and pajamas from the retailer. The mother glued the puffs onto the pajamas to create a costume for her child. While wearing the costume, the child leaned over the electric stove. The costume caught on fire, injuring the child. Plaintiffs brought a personal injury action against the retailer. The retailer filed a third party complaint against the manufacturer of the puffs, and the puff manufacturer filed a fourth party complaint against the manufacturer of the fibers used in the puffs. The retailer filed a motion for partial summary judgment as to plaintiffs’ cause of action for failure to warn. The trial court granted the motion and dismissed the actions against the manufacturers. On appeal, the court modified the judgment, holding that the mother’s use of the puffs was not unforeseeable as a matter of law and was a question for the jury. The court held that because the puffs were not made of cotton, as thought by the mother, there were fact issues as to the puffs’ flammability and defendants’ duty to warn. The court held that there was no prejudice to the retailer in permitting plaintiffs to amend their bill of particulars. OUTCOME: The court modified the trial court’s judgment to grant plaintiffs’ motion to amend their bill of particulars, deny the retailer’s motion for summary judgment, and reinstate the third party actions against the manufacturers. Tyler Durden Mon, 10/31/2022 - 19:05.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeOct 31st, 2022

2022 Greatest Hits: The Most Popular Articles Of The Past Year And A Look Ahead

2022 Greatest Hits: The Most Popular Articles Of The Past Year And A Look Ahead One year ago, when looking at the 20 most popular stories of 2021, we said that the year would be a very tough act to follow as "the sheer breadth of narratives, stories, surprises, plot twists and unexpected developments" made 2021 the most memorable year yet in our brief history, and that it would be an extremely tough act to follow. And yet despite the exceedingly high bar for 2022, not only did the year not disappoint but between the constant news barrage, the regime shifts, narrative volatility, market rollercoasters, oh and the world being on the verge of a nuclear Armageddon for much of the year, the past year was the most action, excitement, and news (including fake news)-packed yet. Where does one even start? While covid - which was the story of 2020 - finally faded away from the front page and the constant barrage of fearmongering coverage (with recent revelations courtesy of Elon Musk's "Twitter Files" showing just how extensively said newsflow was crafted, orchestrated and -y es - censored by the government, while a sudden U-turn by China in its Covid Zero policy prompting a top Chinese research to admit that the "fatality rate from the omicron variant of the virus is in line with the flu"), and the story of 2021 was the scourge of soaring inflation (which contrary to macrotourist predictions that it would prove "transitory" just kept rising, and rising, and rising, until it hit levels not seen since the Volcker galloping inflation days of the 1980s)... ... then the big market story of 2022 was the coordinated central bank crusade to put the inflation genie back into the bottle and to contain soaring prices (which were no longer transitory, especially after Putin launched his "special military operation" in Ukraine which we will discuss shortly)... ... even if it meant crushing the housing market... ... sparking a global recession, or as Goldman calls it a "broad-based but necessary slowdown in global growth"... ... and leaving millions out of work (the BLS still pretends hundreds of thousands of workers are being added to payrolls even though as we all know - as does the Philadelphia Fed - that is a lie, and the real employment number has not changed since March)... ... not to mention triggering the worst bear market in both stocks and bonds since the global financial crisis. Yes, less than a year after the S&P hit a record just above 4800 in January of this year, both global stock and bond markets have cratered, and in a profound shock to an entire generation of "traders" who have never lived through a hiking cycle and rising inflation, for the first time since 2008 no central banks are riding to the market's rescue. Meanwhile, with a drop of more than 20% in 2022 translating into a record $18 trillion wipeout, the MSCI All-Country World Index is on track for its worst performance since the 2008 crisis, amid the Fed's relentless rate hiking campaign. Add bond market losses - because in 2022 everything was sold - and you get a staggering $36 trillion in value vaporized, which in absolute terms is nearly double the damage from the Lehman failure and the global financial crisis. None of this should come as a surprise: the staggering liquidity injections that started in 2020, continued throughout 2021 and extended into the first half of 2022 before gently reversing as QT finally returned; the final tally is that after $3 trillion in emergency liquidity injections in the immediate aftermath of the pandemic to "stabilize the world", the Fed injected another $2 trillion in the subsequent period, most of which in 2021, a year where economists were "puzzled" why inflation was soaring (this, of course, excludes the tens of trillions of monetary stimulus injected by other central banks as well as the boundless fiscal stimulus that was greenlighted with the launch of helicopter money). And then, when a modest $500 billion in Fed balance sheet liquidity was withdrawn... everything crashed. This reminds us of something we said two years ago: "it's almost as if the world's richest asset owners requested the covid pandemic." Well, last year we got confirmation for this rhetorical statement, when we calculated that in the 18 months after the covid pandemic hit, the richest 1% of US society saw their net worth increase by over $30 trillion, which in turn officially made the US into a banana republic where the middle 60% of US households by income - a measure economists use as a definition of the middle class - saw their combined assets drop from 26.7% to 26.6% of national wealth, the lowest in Federal Reserve data, while for the first time the super rich had a bigger share, at 27%. Yes, for the first time ever, the 1% owned more wealth than the entire US middle class, a definition traditionally reserve for kleptocracies and despotic African banana republics. But as the Fed finally ended QE and started draining its balance sheet in 2022, the party ended with a thud, and this tremendous wealth accumulation by the top 1% went into reverse: indeed, just the 500 richest billionaires saw their fortunes collapse by $1.4 trillion with names such as Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Masa Son and Larry Page and Sergey Brin all losing more than a third (in some cases much more) of their net worth. This also reminds us of something else we said a year ago: "this continued can-kicking by the establishment - all of which was made possible by the covid pandemic and lockdowns which served as an all too convenient scapegoat for the unprecedented response that served to propel risk assets (and fiat alternatives such as gold and bitcoin) to all time highs - has come with a price... and an increasingly higher price in fact. As even Bank of America CIO Michael Hartnett admits, Fed's response to the the pandemic "worsened inequality" as the value of financial assets - Wall Street -  relative to economy - Main Street - hit all-time high of 6.3x." In other words, for all its faults, 2022 was a year in which inequality finally reversed - if only a little - and as Michael Hartnett said in one of his final Flow Shows, "Main St finally outperformed Wall St significantly in 2022" as the value of financial assets relative to the economy slumped from 6.3x to 5.4x. Sadly, we doubt that this will cheer anyone up - be it workers - who have seen their real, inflation-adjusted earnings decline for a record 20 consecutive months (or virtually all of Joe BIden's presidency)... ... or investors who have seen crushing losses across all industries, with the exception of the one sector we have been pounding-the-table-on bullish on since the summer of 2020: energy (with our favorite stock, Exxon, blowing away the competition with its nearly triple digit return YTD). There is some good news for jittery bulls looking ahead at 2023: statistics show that two consecutive down years are rare for major equity markets — the S&P 500 index has fallen for two straight years on just four occasions since 1928, and they usually marked market crashes or social cataclysms -  the Great Depression, World War II, the 1970s oil crisis and the bursting of the dot-com bubble. The scary thing though, is that when they do occur, drops in the second year tend to be deeper than in the first. And with Joe Biden at the helm, betting on a second great depression may be prudent. Even if that sounds hyperbolic, when it comes to markets the big question for 2023 is simple: have markets bottomed or is there much more room to fall, in other words, are we facing a hard or soft landing. And speaking of Joe Biden at the helm, another glaring risk factor for 2023 is - of course- nuclear war. Because while the great inflation fight and Biden bear market were the defining features of 2022 from an economic and capital markets standpoint, the biggest event in terms of geopolitical and social importance was the war between Russia and Ukraine. While one could write - pardon the pun - the modern day equivalent of "war and peace" on the causes behind the war in Ukraine, for the sake of brevity we will merely note that a conflict that had been simmering for years if not decades... ... finally got its proverbial spark in February when - encouraged by NATO to join the military alliance in an act that Russia had repeatedly warned would be casus belli against Ukraine - Putin ordered a "special military operation" against Ukraine, sending Russian troops to invade the country because, as he subsequently explained, "if Russia did not do this now, it itself would be invaded by neighboring NATO countries a few years later." And speaking of what else Putin said in the lead up to the Ukraine war, the following snapshots reveal much of the Russian leader's thinking about the biggest geopolitical conflict since World War II. And while the geopolitical implications of the war are staggering and long-reaching, the single most important consequence to the world, and especially Europe, is the threat of persistent energy shortages over the coming years as Russian energy output has been sanctioned and curtailed for the foreseeable future... ... in the process sending energy prices in Europe and elsewhere soaring, and pushing inflation sharply higher. Which is especially ironic, because the same central banks we showed above that are hiking rates like crazy in hopes of containing inflation are doing precisely nothing to address the elephant in the room, namely that inflation is not demand-driven (which the Fed can control by adjusting the price of money) but entirely on the supply-side. And since the Fed can't print oil or gas, all that central banks are doing is executing Vladimir Putin's indirect bidding and pushing the world into a global recession if not all out depression as they hope to crush enough energy demand to lower prices in a world where energy supply is also much lower. What they forget is that this will lead to tens of millions of unemployed people, and while that is not a major issue yet, something tells us that the coming mass layoffs - both in the US and around the globe - and not just in tech but across all industries, will be the story of 2023. One final thing worth mentioning in the context of the Ukraine war is what it means strategically for the future of the world, and here we would argue that some of the best analysis belong to former NY Fed repo guru, Zoltan Pozsar whose periodic dispatches throughout 2022 (all of which are available to professional subscribers), and whose year-end report on the fate of Bretton Woods III, the petrodollar, the petroyuan and petrogold, are all must-read for anyone who hopes to be ahead of the curve in today's rapidly changing world. Away from Inflation and the Ukraine war, the next most important topic in the past year, were the revelations from the Twitter Files, exposed by the social medial company's new owner, Elon Musk, who paid $44 billion so that the world can finally see first hand just how little free speech there really is in the so-called land of the free and the home of the First Amendment, and how countless three-lettered, deep-state alphabet agencies - and the military-industrial complex - will do anything and everything to control both the official discourse and the unofficial narrative to keep their preferred puppets in the White House, and keep those they disapprove of - censored and/or locked up, both literally and metaphorically... or simply designate them "conspiracy theorists." None other than Matt Taibbi wrote the best summary of what the Twitter Files revealed, namely America's stealthy conversion into a crypto-fascist state where some unelected government bureaucrat tells corporations what to do: This last week saw the FBI describe Lee Fang, Michael Shellenberger and me as “conspiracy theorists” whose “sole aim” is to discredit the agency. That statement will look ironic soon, as we spent much of this week learning about other agencies and organizations that can now also be discredited thanks to these files. A group of us spent the last weeks reading thousands of documents. For me a lot of that time was spent learning how Twitter functioned, specifically its relationships with government. How weird is modern-day America? Not long ago, CIA veterans tell me, the information above the “tearline” of a U.S. government intelligence cable would include the station of origin and any other CIA offices copied on the report. I spent much of today looking at exactly similar documents, seemingly written by the same people, except the “offices” copied at the top of their reports weren’t other agency stations, but Twitter’s Silicon Valley colleagues: Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, LinkedIn, even Wikipedia. It turns out these are the new principal intelligence outposts of the American empire. A subplot is these companies seem not to have had much choice in being made key parts of a global surveillance and information control apparatus, although evidence suggests their Quislingian executives were mostly all thrilled to be absorbed. Details on those “Other Government Agencies” soon, probably tomorrow. One happy-ish thought at month’s end: Sometime in the last decade, many people — I was one — began to feel robbed of their sense of normalcy by something we couldn’t define. Increasingly glued to our phones, we saw that the version of the world that was spat out at us from them seemed distorted. The public’s reactions to various news events seemed off-kilter, being either way too intense, not intense enough, or simply unbelievable. You’d read that seemingly everyone in the world was in agreement that a certain thing was true, except it seemed ridiculous to you, which put you in an awkward place with friends, family, others. Should you say something? Are you the crazy one? I can’t have been the only person to have struggled psychologically during this time. This is why these Twitter files have been such a balm. This is the reality they stole from us! It’s repulsive, horrifying, and dystopian, a gruesome history of a world run by anti-people, but I’ll take it any day over the vile and insulting facsimile of truth they’ve been selling. Personally, once I saw that these lurid files could be used as a road map back to something like reality — I wasn’t sure until this week — I relaxed for the first time in probably seven or eight years. Well said Matt, and we say this as one of the first media outlets that was dubbed "conspiracy theorists" by the authorities, long before everyone else joined the club. Oh yes, we've been there: we were suspended for half a year on Twitter for telling the truth about Covid, and then we lost most of our advertisers after the Atlantic Council's weaponized "fact-checkers" put us on every ad agency's black list while anonymous CIA sources at the AP slandered us for being "Kremlin puppets" - which reminds us: for those with the means, desire and willingness to support us, please do so by becoming a premium member: we are now almost entirely reader-funded so your financial assistance will be instrumental to ensure our continued survival into 2023 and beyond. The bottom line, at least for us, is that the past three years have been a stark lesson in how quickly an ad-funded business can disintegrate in this world which resembles the dystopia of 1984 more and more each day, and we have since taken measures. Two years ago, we launched a paid version of our website, which is entirely ad and moderation free, and offers readers a variety of premium content. It wasn't our intention to make this transformation but unfortunately we know which way the wind is blowing and it is only a matter of time before the gatekeepers of online ad spending block us for good. As such, if we are to have any hope in continuing it will come directly from you, our readers. We will keep the free website running for as long as possible, but we are certain that it is only a matter of time before the hammer falls as the censorship bandwagon rolls out much more aggressively in the coming year. Meanwhile, for all those lamenting the relentless coverage of politics in a financial blog, why finance appears to have taken a secondary role, and why the political "narrative" has taken a dominant role for financial analysts, the past three years showed conclusively why that is the case: in a world where markets gyrated, and "rotated" from value stocks to growth and vice versa, purely on speculation of how big the next stimulus out of Washington will be, now that any future big stimulus plans are off the table until at least 2024 thanks to a divided Congress, and the Fed is still planning on hiking until it finally crushing inflation, we would like to remind readers of one of our favorite charts: every financial crisis is the result of Fed tightening, and something always breaks. Which brings us to the simplest forecast about the coming year: 2023 will be the year when something finally breaks. As for more nuanced predictions about the future, as the past three years so vividly showed, when it comes to actual surprises and all true "black swans", it won't be what anyone had expected. And so while many themes, both in the political and financial realm, did get some accelerated closure, dramatic changes in 2022 persisted and new sources of global shocks emerged, and will continue to manifest themselves in often violent and unexpected ways - from the ongoing record polarization in the US political arena, to "populist" upheavals around the developed world, to the gradual transition to a global Universal Basic (i.e., socialized) Income regime, to China deciding that the US is finally weak enough and the time has come to invade Taiwan. As always, we thank all of our readers for making this website - which has never seen one dollar of outside funding (and despite amusing recurring allegations, has certainly never seen a ruble from either Putin or the KGB either, sorry CIA) and has never spent one dollar on marketing - a small (or not so small) part of your daily routine. Which also brings us to another critical topic: that of fake news, and something we - and others who do not comply with the established narrative - have been accused of. While we find the narrative of fake news laughable, after all every single article in this website is backed by facts and links to outside sources, it is clearly a dangerous development, and a very slippery slope that the entire developed world is pushing for what is, when stripped of fancy jargon, internet censorship under the guise of protecting the average person from "dangerous, fake information." It's also why we are preparing for the next onslaught against independent thought and why we had no choice but to roll out a premium version of this website. In addition to the other themes noted above, we expect the crackdown on free speech to only accelerate in the coming year - Elon Musk's Twitter Files revelations notwithstanding, especially as the following list of Top 20 articles for 2022 reveals, many of the most popular articles in the past year were precisely those which the conventional media would not touch with a ten foot pole, both out of fear of repercussions and because the MSM has now become a PR agency for either a political party or some unelected, deep state bureaucrat, which in turn allowed the alternative media to continue to flourish in an information vacuum (in less than a decade, Elon Musk's $44 billion purchase of Twitter will seem like one of the century's biggest bargains) and take significant market share from the established outlets by covering topics which established media outlets refuse to do, in the process earning itself the derogatory "fake news" condemnation. We are grateful that our readers - who hit a new record high in 2022 - have realized that it is incumbent upon them to decide what is, and isn't "fake news." * * * And so, before we get into the details of what has now become an annual tradition for the last day of the year, those who wish to jog down memory lane, can refresh our most popular articles for every year during our no longer that brief, almost 14-year existence, starting with 2009 and continuing with 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021. So without further ado, here are the articles that you, our readers, found to be the most engaging, interesting and popular based on the number of hits, during the past year. In 20th spot with just over 510,000 views, was one of the seminal market strategy reports of 2022 by the man who has become the most prescient and accurate voice on Wall Street, former NY Fed repo guru Zoltan Pozsar, whose periodic pieces previewing the post-war world - one where Bretton Woods III makes a stunning comeback, where the petrodollar dies, and is replaced by the Petroyuan - have become must-read staple fare for Wall Street professionals. In "Wall Street Stunned By Zoltan Pozsar's Latest Prediction Of What Comes Next", Zoltan offered his first post-Ukraine war glimpse of the coming "Bretton Woods III" world, "a new monetary order centered around commodity-based currencies in the East that will likely weaken the Eurodollar system and also contribute to inflationary forces in the West." Subsequent events, including the growing proximity of Russia, China and various other non-G7 nations, coupled with stubborn inflation, have gone a long way to proving Zoltan's thesis. The only thing that's missing is the overhaul of the world reserve currency. In 19th spot, some 526,000 learned that amid the relentless crackdown against free speech by a regime which Elon Musk's Twitter Files have definitively revealed is borderline fascist (as in real fascism, not that clownish farce which antifa thugs pretend to crusade against) Zero Hedge was among the first websites to be targeted by the CIA when that deep state mouthpiece, the Associated Press, said that "intelligence officials accused a conservative financial news website [Zero Hedge] with a significant American readership of amplifying Kremlin propaganda." As we explained in "Now We've Done It: We Pissed Off The CIA" - the 19th most viewed article of 2022 - we have done no such thing but as the AP also revealed, the real motive behind the hit piece is that "Zero Hedge has been sharply critical of Biden and posted stories about allegations of wrongdoing by his son Hunter." Of course, only a few weeks later we would learn that reports of wrongdoing by "his son Hunter" as unveiled in the infamously censored laptop story fiasco, were indeed accurate (despite dozens of "former intel officials" saying it is Russian disinfo) but since only "Kremlin propaganda" sites dare to attack Joe Biden while the MSM keeps deathly silent, nobody in the so-called "free press" bothered to mention it. Incidentally, since the CIA did a full background check on us and republishing some pro-Russian blogs was the best they could find, we are confident that  On the other hand, since being designated a pro-Russian operation meant that we have been blacklisted by most advertisers, we are increasingly reliant on you, dear readers (and not Vladimir Putin) for support, and we would be extremely grateful to everyone who can sign up for our premium product to support us into 2023 and onward. In 18th spot, and suitably right below our little tete-a-tete with the CIA, was the disclosure of a huge trove of corruption Hunter Biden's "laptop from hell." In April, with over 568,000 page views, readers learned that "450GB Of 'Deleted' Hunter Biden Laptop Material To Be Released Within Weeks." The ultimate result was the long overdue confirmation by the mainstream press (NYT and WaPo) that the Biden notebook was indeed real (again, despite dozens of "former intel officials" saying it is Russian disinfo) but since the state-corporatist apparatus had already achieved its goal, and suppressed and censored the original NYPost reporting just ahead of the 2020 presidential election and Biden had been elected president, few cared (just a few months later, thanks to Elon Musk and the Twitter files would we learn just how deep the censorship hole went, and that it involved not only the US government, the Democratic Party, the FBI, but also the biggest tech and media companies, all working together to censor anything that they found politically unpalatable). Yes, 2022 was also a midterm year, and with more than 617,000 views, was our snapshot of what happened on Nov 8 when in a carbon copy of 2020 it initially seemed like Republicans would sweep Congress as we described in the 17th most popular article of 2022, "Election Night Results: FL "Catastrophic" For Dems, Vance Takes OH, Fetterman Tops Oz"... but it was not meant to be and as the mail-in votes crawled in days and weeks later, the GOP lead not only fizzled (despite a jarring loss among Florida Hispanics), but in the end Democrats kept the Senate. Ultimately the result was anticlimatic, and with Congress divided for the next two years, governance will be secondary to what the Fed will do, which in our humble view, will be the big story of 2023. For all the political, market and central bank trials and tribulations of 2022, one could make the argument that the biggest story of the past year was Elon Musk's whimsical takeover of twitter, which started off amicably enough as laid out in the 16th most popular article of 2022 (with more than 627,000 page views) "Buffett Says "Musk Is Winning...It's America" As TWTR Board Ponders Poison Pill", then turned ugly and hostile, transitioned into a case of buyer's remorse with Musk suing to back out of the deal only to find out he can't, and culminated with the release of the shocking Twitter Files, Musk's stunning expose of the dirt and secrets of how the world's most popular news outlet had effectively become a subsidiary not only of the Democratic party but also of the FBI, CIA and various other deep state alphabet agencies, validating once again countless "conspiracy theories" and confirming once and for all that any outlet that still dares to oppose the official party line is the biggest enemy of the deep state. And speaking of the deep state, we had a glaring reminder in September why one should be very careful when crossing the US secret police FBI when pro-Trump celeb pillow entrepreneur Mike Lindell was intercepted by the Feds during a hunting trip and had his cell phone seized as described in "FBI Tracks Down Mike Lindell On Hunting Trip, Surrounds His Car And Seizes Cell Phone". That this happened to one of the most vocal critics of the 2020 election just two months before the midterms, was surely a coincidence, as over 625,000 readers obviously concluded. 2022 was not a good year for markets, and certainly wasn't good for retail investors whose torrid gains from the meme stock mania of 2021 melted down almost as fast as the Fed hiked rates (very fast). But not everyone was a loser, and one story stood out: that of 20-year-old student Jake Freeman (who together with his uncle) bought up a substantial, 6.2% stake in soon-to-be-broke retailer Bed Bath and Beyond, and piggybacking on the antics of one Ryan Cohen, quietly cashed out after making a massive $110 million by piggybacking on one of the most vicious short/gamma squeezes in recent history. The "Surreal Story Of A 20-Year-Old Student Who Acquired 6% Of Bed Bath & Beyond, And Made $110 Million In 3 Weeks" was the 14th most read article of 2022. The 13th most read story of 2022 with over 668,000 reads was the bizarre interlude involving superstar-trader and outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's husband, Paul, and his bizarre attack by a "right wing" progressive as described in "Paul Pelosi Undergoing Brain Surgery Following 'Brutal' Attack; Suspect Identified." While authorities have struggled to craft a narrative that the attacker, nudist transient David Depape of Berkeley, was a pro-Trumper and the attack was politically motivated, the evidence has indicated that he suffered from serious mental illness and drug addiction and lacked any coherent political ideology; some have even claimed that there was a sexual relationship between him and Pelosi, a theory that could be easily disproven if only the police would release the bodycam footage from the moment of the arrest. Unfortunately, San Fran PD has vowed to keep it confidential. Depape's trial is set to be 2023's business, so expect more fireworks. 2022 was also a year in which Europeans realized how brutally expensive electricity can be when the biggest commodity, nat gas and oil supplier to Europe, Russia, is suddenly cut off. And judging by the 668,500 people who read "How In The Name Of God": Shocked Europeans Post Astronomical Energy Bills As 'Terrifying Winter' Approaches" and made it into the 12th most popular article of the year, the staggering number were also news to our audience: indeed, the fact that Geraldine Dolan, who owns the Poppyfields cafe in Athlone, Ireland, and was charged nearly €10,000 for just over two months of energy usage, was shocking to everyone. To be sure, there were countless other such stories out of Europe and with the Russia-Ukraine war unlikely to end any time soon, Europe's commodity hyperinflation will only continue. Adding insult to injury, Europe is on a fast track to a brutal recession, but the ECB remains stuck in tightening mode, perhaps because it somehow believes that higher rates will ease energy supplies. Alas that won't happen and instead the big question for 2023 will be whether Europe is merely hit with a recession or if instead the ECB's actions escalates the local malaise into a full-blown depression. Earlier we said that one of the most prophetic voices on Wall Street in 2022 (and prior) was that of Zoltan Pozsar, who laid out his theory of a Bretton Woods III regime in the days immediately following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Well, just one month later we saw the first tentative steps toward just such a paradigm shift when in April the Russian central bank offered to buy gold from domestic commercial banks at a fixed price of 5000 rubles per gram; by doing so the Bank of Russia both linked the ruble to gold and, since gold trades in US dollars, set a floor price for the ruble in terms of the US dollar. We described this in "A Paradigm Shift Western Media Hasn't Grasped Yet" - Russian Ruble Relaunched, Linked To Gold & Commodities", an article red 670,000 times making it the 11th most popular of the year. This concept of "petrogold" was also the subject of extensive discussion by Pozsar who dedicated one of his most recent widely-read notes to the topic; if indeed we are witnessing the transition to a Bretton Woods 3 regime, 2023 will see a lot of fireworks in the monetary system as the dollar's reserve status is challenged by eastern commodity producers. The 10th most popular article of 2022, with 686K views was a reminder of just how much "the settled science" can change: as described in "You Murderous Hypocrites": Outrage Ensues After The Atlantic Suggests 'Amnesty' For Pandemic Authoritarians, many were shocked when after pushing for economy-crushing lockdowns, seeking to block children from going to school (and stunting their development), and even calling for the incarceration or worse of mask, vaccine and booster holdouts, the liberal left - realizing that it was completely wrong about everything to do with covid, a virus with a 99% survival rate - suddenly and politely was hoping to "declare a pandemic amnesty." Brown Professor Emily Oster - a huge lockdown proponent, who now pleads from mercy from the once-shunned - wrote "we need to forgive one another for what we did and said when we were in the dark about COVID. Let’s acknowledge that we made complicated choices in the face of deep uncertainty, and then try to work together to build back and move forward." The response from those who lost their small business, wealth, or worse, a family member (who died alone or from complications from the experimental gene therapy known as "vaccines" and "boosters") was clear and unanimous; as for those seeking preemptive pardons from the coming tribunals, their plea was clear: “We didn't know! We were just following orders."  And from one covid post we segue into another, only this time the focus is not on the disease but rather the consequences of mandatory vaccines: over 730K readers were shocked in February when a former finance professional discovered a surge in "excess mortality", or unexplained deaths among otherwise healthy young adults, yet not linked directly to covid (thus leaving vaccines as the possible cause of death), as we showed in "Long Funeral Homes, Short Life Insurers? Ex-Blackrock Fund Manager Discovers Disturbing Trends In Mortality." This wasn't the first time we had heart of a surge in excess mortality: a month earlier it was the CEO of insurance company OneAmerica to observe that the death rate for those aged 18-64 had soared by 40% over pre-pandemic levels (this was another post that received a lot of clicks). While the science is clearly not settled here - on either covid or the vaccines - the emerging trend is ominous: at this rate the excess deaths associated with covid (and its vaccines) will soon surpass the deaths directly linked to covid. And anyone who dares to bring this up will be branded a racist, a white supremacists, or a fascist, or all three. One of the defining features of 2022 was the record surge in the price of food. And while much of this inflation could be attributed to the trillions in helicopter money injected over the past three years, as well as the snarled supply chains due to the war in Ukraine, a mystery emerged when one after another US food processing plant mysteriously burned down. And with almost 800,000 page views, a majority of our readers wanted to know why "Another US Food Processing Plant Erupts In Flames", making it the 8th most read post of the year. While so far no crime has been alleged, the fact that over 100 "accidental fires" (as listed here) have taken place across America's food facilities since the start of 2021, impairing the US supply chain, remains one of the biggest mysteries of the year. While some will argue that runaway inflation was the event of 2022, we will counter that the defining moment was the war between Ukraine and Russia, which broke out in February after what the Kremlin said was a long-running NATO attempt to corner Russia (by pushing Ukraine to seek membership in the military alliance), forcing it to either launch an invasion now, or wait several years and be invaded by all the neighboring NATO countries. Still, many were shocked when Putin ultimately gave the order to launch the "special military operations", as most had Russia to merely posture. But it was not meant to be and nearly 840K readers followed the world-changing events on February 2 when "Putin Orders "Special Military Operation" In Ukraine's Breakaway Regions." The war continues to this day with no prospects of peace or even a ceasefire. And from one geopolitical hotspot we go to another, namely China and Taiwan, which many expect will be the next major military theater at some time in the near future when Beijing finally invades the "Republic of China" and officially brings it back into the fold. Thing here got extra hot in early August when Democrat Nancy Pelosi decided to make an unexpected trip to the semiconductor-heavy island, sparking an unprecedented diplomatic escalation, with many speculating that China could simply fire at Nancy's unsanctioned airplane. In the end, however, as nearly 950,000 found out, the situation fizzled as "China Summoned US Ambassador Overnight, Says Washington "Must Pay The Price"." Since then Pelosi's political career has officially ended, and while China has not yet invaded Taiwan, it is only a matter of time before it does. While Covid may have been a 2021 story, that was also the year when nobody was allowed to talk about the Chinese pandemic. Things changed in 2022 when liberal censorship finally crashed under its own weight, and long overdue discussions of Covid became mainstream. nowhere more so than on Twitter where Elon Musk fired all those responsible for silencing the debate over the past three years, and of course, the show of the always outspoken Joe Rogan, where mRNA inventor Robert Malone, gave a fascinating interview to Joe Rogan which aired on New Year's Eve 2022 and which took the world by storm in the first days of the new year. It certainly made over 908,000 readers click on "COVID, Ivermectin, And 'Mass Formation Psychosis': Dr. Robert Malone Gives Blistering Interview To Joe Rogan." The doctor, who had been suspended by both LInkedIn and Twitter, for the crime of promoting "vaccine hesitancy" argued that if the risks of vaccines are not discussed, informed consent is not possible. As Malone concluded "Informed consent is not only not happening, it's being actively blocked." Luckily, now that Elon Musk has made it possible to discuss covid - and so much more - on twitter without fears of immediate suspension, there is again hope that not only is informed consent once again possible, but that the wheels of true justice are starting to steamroll liberal censorship. A tragic and bizarre interlude took place in early July when "Former Japanese PM Abe Shot Dead During Speech, "Frustrated" Assassin Arrested", a shocking development which captured the attention of some 927,000 readers.  While some expected the assassination to be a Archduke Ferdinand moment, coming at a time of soaring inflation around the globe and potentially catalyzing grassroots anger at the ruling class, the episode remained isolated as it did not have political motives and instead the killer, Yamagami, said that he killed the former PM in relation to a grudge he held against the Unification Church, to which Abe and his family had political ties, over his mother's bankruptcy in 2002. That's the good news. The bad news is that with the fabric of society close to tearing across most developed nations, it is only a matter of time before we do get a real Archduke 2.0 moment. Just days after Rogan's interview with Malone (see above), another covid-linked "surprise" emerged when Projected Veritas leaked military documents hidden on a classified system showing how EcoHealth Alliance approached DARPA in March 2018, seeking funding to conduct illegal gain of function research of bat borne coronaviruses. But while US infatuation with creating viral bioweapons is hardly new (instead it merely outsourced it to biolabs in China), one of the discoveries revealed in "Ivermectin 'Works Throughout All Phases' Of COVID According To Leaked Military Documents" - the third most popular post of 2022 with 929K page views, is that the infamous "horse paste" Ivermectin was defined by Darpa as a "curative" which works throughout all phases of the illness because it both inhibits viral replication and modulates the immune response. Of course, had that been made public, it would have prevented Pfizer and Moderna from making tens of billions in revenue from selling mRNA-based therapies (not vaccines) whose potentially deadly side effects we are only now learning about (as the 9th most popular post of 2022 noted above confirms). The fake news apparatus was busy spinning in overtime this past year (and every other year), and not only when it comes to covid, inflation, unemployment, the recession, but also - or rather especially - the Ukraine fog of propaganda war. A striking example was the explosion of both pipelines connecting Russia to Europe, Nord Stream I and II, which quickly escalated into a fingerpointing exercise of accusations, with Europe blaming Putin for blowing up the pipelines (even though said pipelines exclusively benefit the Kremlin which spent billions building them in the recent past), while the Kremlin said it was the US' fault. This we learned in "EU Chief Calls Nord Stream Attack "Sabotage", Warns Of "Strongest Possible Response", which was also the 2nd most read article of the year with just over 1,050,000 page views. In the end, there was no "response" at all. Why? Because as it emerged just two months later in that most deep state of outlets, the Washington Post, "Evidence In Nord Stream Sabotage Doesn't Point To Russia." In other words, it points to the US, just as professor Jeffrey Sachs dared to suggest on Bloomberg, leading to shock and awe at the pro-Biden media outlet. The lesson here, inasmuch as there is one, is that the perpetrators of every false flag operation always emerge - it may take time, but the outcome is inevitable, and "shockingly", the culprit almost always is one particular nation... Finally, the most read article of 2022 with nearly 1.1 million page views, was "White House Says Russian Forces 20 Miles Outside Ukraine's Capital." It cemented that as least as far as ZH readers were concerned, the biggest event of the year was the war in Ukraine, an event which has set in motion forces which will redefine the layout of the world over the next century (and, if Zoltan Pozsar is right, will lead to the demise of the US dollar as a reserve currency and culminate with China surpassing the US as the world's biggest superpower). Incidentally, while Russian forces may have been 20 miles outside of Kiev, they were repelled and even though the war could have ended nearly a year ago and the world would have returned to some semblance of normalcy, it was not meant to be, and the war still goes on with little hope that it will end any time soon. And with all that behind us, and as we wave goodbye to another bizarre, exciting, surreal year, what lies in store for 2023, and the next decade? We don't know: as frequent and not so frequent readers are aware, we do not pretend to be able to predict the future and we don't try, despite repeat baseless allegations that we constantly predict the collapse of civilization: we leave the predicting to the "smartest people in the room" who year after year have been consistently wrong about everything, and never more so than in 2022 (when the entire world realized just how clueless the Fed had been when it called the most crushing and persistent inflation in two generations "transitory"), which destroyed the reputation of central banks, of economists, of conventional media and the professional "polling" and "strategist" class forever, not to mention all those "scientists" who made a mockery of both the scientific method and the "expert class" with their catastrophically bungled response to the covid pandemic. We merely observe, find what is unexpected, entertaining, amusing, surprising or grotesque in an increasingly bizarre, sad, and increasingly crazy world, and then just write about it. We do know, however, that with central banks now desperate to contain inflation and undo 13 years of central bank mistakes - after all it is the trillions and trillions in monetary stimulus, the helicopter money, the MMT, and the endless deficit funding by central banks that made the current runaway inflation possible, the current attempt to do something impossible and stuff 13 years of toothpaste back into the tube, will be a catastrophic failure. We are confident, however, that in the end it will be the very final backstoppers of the status quo regime, the central banking emperors of the New Normal, who will eventually be revealed as fully naked. When that happens and what happens after is anyone's guess. But, as we have promised - and delivered - every year for the past 14, we will be there to document every aspect of it. Finally, and as always, we wish all our readers the best of luck in 2023, with much success in trading and every other avenue of life. We bid farewell to 2022 with our traditional and unwavering year-end promise: Zero Hedge will be there each and every day - usually with a cynical smile (and with the CIA clearly on our ass now) - helping readers expose, unravel and comprehend the fallacy, fiction, fraud and farce that defines every aspect of our increasingly broken economic, political and financial system. Tyler Durden Sat, 12/31/2022 - 11:05.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytDec 31st, 2022

The night the Lord of the Skies got away

In 1985, US agents had a chance to stop Mexico's top drug lord. Years later, evidence from that night proved valuable in a way no one could predict. Reuters; John Moore/Getty Images; Rachel Mendelson/InsiderOne night in 1985, US agents may have had a chance to stop the rise of Mexico's most powerful drug lord — a chance they quickly gave up without knowing it. But the evidence gathered that night would prove valuable in a way no one could predict. If he'd blinked he might have missed them.The pair of cars were parked window to window, just off the side of Highway 67, nine miles north of the tiny border town of Presidio, Texas. As David Ramirez cruised by in his dun-colored U.S. Border Patrol sedan, the night sky outside the range of headlights was so pitch-black that he could have been forgiven for not spotting the vehicles.    Ramirez guessed that something was up. Slowing the cruiser, he banged a quick U-turn and headed back. "They were on the side of the road, at that time of night, in that area, which was known for drug trafficking," Ramirez recalled. "And there wasn't any other traffic. We were out there in a patrol vehicle and we saw maybe two other vehicles in a three-hour time span."It was May 1985, and Ramirez had only been with the Border Patrol for two and a half years. But at a posting as remote as southwest Texas, where only a handful of agents were stationed at the time, that qualified him to train the new guy. So, in the passenger seat sat his partner for the evening, a trainee agent learning the ropes as they cruised along this ribbon of pebbles, dust, and potholes masquerading as a state highway.As Ramirez maneuvered his patrol car, two pairs of headlights came on, two engines rumbled to life, and two cars peeled out. A late-model pickup truck went first, and, following closely behind, a big-body, white Mercury Grand Marquis. They were headed south, toward Presidio, and toward Mexico.Ramirez spun the cruiser around once again and sped off in pursuit, flashing his red-and-blues to signal the drivers to stop. The two vehicles ignored him.The Mercury wasn't going that fast, 60, maybe 70 miles-per-hour, but it acted as a sort of rearguard, allowing the driver of the pickup truck to put more and more distance between himself and the Border Patrol agents giving chase. This went on for a while, five minutes maybe. Finally, with the pickup truck out of sight, the driver of the Mercury eased to the side of the road and crunched to a stop. Ramirez knew it was a feint designed to let the other driver — and whatever cargo he might be carrying — get away. But he also knew that at the end of that road, just before the international port of entry, was a Border Patrol station. He radioed ahead for agents to be on the lookout, and turned his focus to the Mercury.Carefully opening his door, Ramirez climbed out of the cruiser, unclasped the snap on his holster, and drew his .38-caliber service revolver, holding it at a downward angle. It had been dark for hours, but in these parts even after midnight  in late spring can be mind-bendingly hot. The thermostat hovered around 95 degrees and the night air hung heavy like a blanket. As Ramirez approached the Mercury from the driver-side door, his heart rate quickened. The ambient sounds of the desert night, the buzz of insects and snuffling of wild javelinas, receded into the background. His training — and his survival instinct — kicked in to guide him. The trainee, armed with a shotgun, mirrored the more experienced agent and sidled toward the car from the passenger side. Speaking in Spanish through the rolled down window, the driver had an easy-does-it, friendly manner. With the trainee standing back, Ramirez holstered his revolver and requested the suspect's documents. The driver obliged.One was a border-crossing card, issued by the Immigration and Naturalization Service, that allowed Mexicans living close to the border to cross back and forth for errands and jobs.The other document identified the driver as an agent of the Federal Security Directorate, or DFS, a powerful — and phantasmagorically corrupt — branch of Mexico's federal law enforcement. For Ramirez, this didn't prove the man was a cop. The DFS was notorious for its connections to drug traffickers, and its agents were known to hand out fake badges to the smugglers they worked with. But he couldn't be sure the man wasn't a cop.Ramirez asked the man if he had any weapons, and the driver said no, no guns. But peering into the Marquis, Ramirez could see a box of ammo sitting on the passenger seat, clear as day. He asked again. No weapons? You sure about that?David Ramirez (r); John Moore/Getty Images; Rachel Mendelson/InsiderThe driver made no attempt to keep the lie going and admitted that, sure, he had a small gun in the trunk. On Ramirez' orders, the driver opened the door and walked around to the rear to pop the trunk. The "small gun" turned out to be a loaded AR-15 assault rifle.Ramirez eyed the driver more closely now. He stood about six feet tall, trim and lanky, and dressed like a well-heeled cowboy, with nice boots and well-fitting clothes. Despite everything, he seemed relaxed. Ramirez gave the driver a careful patdown and, finding no other weapons on him, escorted him back to the Border Patrol cruiser and directed him into the back seat, locking him in there but deciding not to place him in handcuffs, given the DFS badge."In any law enforcement, I would say there's a certain courtesy you give to [other] law enforcement," Ramirez told me. "As a young agent, I didn't really know how to deal with it. I was naive."The trainee took the keys to the Mercury and started back to the station at the Presidio-Ojinaga border. Ramirez followed. In the backseat, the driver sat – quiet, calm, no fuss.The man's name, according to his INS card and DFS badge, was Amado Carrillo Fuentes.The Lord of the Skies Within a decade of that traffic stop, Amado would be the most significant drug trafficker in Mexico. His knack for using airplanes to smuggle huge quantities of drugs earned him the nickname "el señor de los cielos," the Lord of the Skies, and, to this day, he is easily the most prolific and most powerful drug lord the country has ever seen. His would be a household name in Mexico and a curse on the lips of U.S. federal agents tasked with fighting the narcotics trade. Another two decades after that, he would feature prominently as the absurdly white-washed protagonist of the Netflix series Narcos: Mexico. But on the night David Ramirez encountered him on that desolate stretch of Highway 67, Amado was just one trafficker among many. Not a nobody, certainly, but his photo wouldn't yet be on any police bulletin boards, nor his name in any newspapers.Amado was then 28 years old, and for years he had found a comfortable niche for himself in the growing drug empire run by his uncle — a fearsome brute named Ernesto "Don Neto" Fonseca — Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo, and Rafael Caro Quintero. Like nearly all major drug traffickers of the era — including Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán Loera, who was born around the same time as Amado — they all hailed from the northwestern state of Sinaloa. But they ran their operation out of the city of Guadalajara, and became known as the Guadalajara cartel. As the demand for cocaine began to surge in the late 1970s and exploded in the early 1980s, most cocaine headed to the U.S. from Colombia, across the Caribbean, and into Florida. But as the DEA and the Coast Guard cracked down on that route, the Colombians needed a new way of getting drugs north The syndicate that Don Neto, Félix Gallardo, and Caro Quintero operated, which previously focused on heroin and marijuana and was well positioned to offer an alternative route to their new friends in Colombia, was busy forging contacts with Colombian cocaine suppliers. Within a few years, the Mexican traffickers had become an integral link in the chain that saw cocaine travel by air from its roots high in the Andes to labs in the jungles of Colombia to local smugglers in Mexico, and finally to an eager customer base in the United States. Using the staggering infusion of cash that came along with their new specialty in moving cocaine, the Guadalajara network was able to bring most of the major drug traffickers in Mexico under a unified protection racket negotiated by Félix Gallardo and overseen by the DFS and other federal police agencies.Amado, who was quickly gaining a reputation for being cool-headed and having a talent for forging political connections, played a key role in this transformation of the drug game, coordinating cargo planes, loaded down with hundreds — and later thousands — of kilos of coke, to clandestine air strips in northern Mexico.An act of supreme recklessnessEverything changed, however, just a few months before Amado was stopped in southwest Texas. In February 1985, a group of gunmen snatched a young DEA agent named Enrique "Kiki" Camarena off the streets of Guadalajara, tortured and murdered him along with a pilot who'd worked with the DEA, and dumped their bodies on a distant ranch. Amado Carrillo Fuentes (c). Henry Romero/Reuters; Rachel Mendelson/InsiderThe brutal kidnapping, torture, and murder of a U.S. federal agent was an act of supreme recklessness and the consequences were sweeping. By April, Don Neto and Caro Quintero were in prison, Félix Gallardo was in hiding, and the network they had carefully built and paid a fortune to protect was in disarray, cracking under the pressure of a vengeful United States, and the obligatory, if belated, efforts of Mexican cops. (Just this month, on July 15, Caro Quintero was arrested in Mexico in a joint U.S.-Mexican operation. In 2013, while serving a 40-year sentence for the murders, a Mexican court had ordered Caro Quintero released. U.S. officials immediately sought to re-arrest him, adding him to the FBI's Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list, but Caro Quintero went into hiding. During the operation on July 15, 14 marines died when their Black Hawk helicopter crashed outside the city of Los Mochis. A few days after the re-capture of Caro Quintero, in a seemingly unrelated move, Félix Gallardo officially trademarked his own name, apparently for a fashion brand.)Mid-level traffickers who were lucky or savvy enough to escape the dragnet exploited a sudden power vacuum and set up territorial fiefdoms, negotiating new protection pacts with corrupt officials and continuing to traffic all the cocaine, heroin, and marijuana that North Americans could sniff, shoot up?, or smoke.Amado was one of those survivors, but he couldn't stay in Guadalajara. So he headed to Ojinaga, just across the border from Presidio, Texas, where he joined forces with a rough-and-tumble smuggler named Pablo Acosta. The Wild West At the northern extreme of the Chihuahuan Desert and the southwest extreme of Texas, Presidio sits just east of Ojinaga — rather than the proverbial "north of the border," as the Rio Grande runs south there. Located just to the south and east lies Big Bend National Park, and with its canyons, culverts, and deep ravines scored into the earth over millennia, the landscape is such a godsend to smugglers of all kinds that it could almost seem as if it was created for that express purpose.   For as long as the border has divided Presidio and Ojinaga, this remote land has been a causeway for smugglers looking to take advantage of prohibition in the U.S. — first of alcohol, later of marijuana and heroin, and finally cocaine — and of Mexico's booming black market for illegally imported commercial goods that resulted from the country's high tariffs.David Ramirez, a native of of El Paso, arrived in Presidio in 1982, shortly after joining the Border Patrol. He could almost count his fellow agents on two hands, and together they were tasked with patrolling not only the port of entry, with its wooden, two lane bridge crossing the river, but also the vast desert landscape stretching out on either side. (It was still many years before the Border Patrol would morph into the veritable army that polices the border today, with its drones, seismic motion sensors, and agents more numerous than the armies of more than a dozen small nations.) "We often had no radio comms, and all of Big Bend [National Park] to deal with," Ramirez recalled. "It was like the Wild West."Ramirez and his fellow agents may have had the might of the U.S. government at their backs, but down in Presidio, with the drug trade in overdrive, they were tilting at windmills.It wasn't like they could rely much on the Mexican authorities across the border either. The dirty and not so well-kept secret of the drug trade in Mexico is that it is inextricably tied to and controlled by extra-official protection rackets run by corrupt members of the country's business, political, and judicial elite. Just like every other lucrative smuggling corridor along the border, Ojinaga was controlled by a local boss. For much of the 1970s, that person had been Manuel Carrasco; when he eventually ran afoul of too many people he fled town and with time — and after a few shootouts — control passed to an up-and-coming trafficker named Pablo Acosta. 'He's their guy'According to the journalist Terrence Poppa, who chronicled the rise and fall of Acosta in his 1991 book "Drug Lord," Acosta came to power in Ojinaga in the late 1970s or early 1980s, and by 1982 he was either directly involved with, or charging a tax on, all illegal merchandise flowing across the border.Acosta, like Amado, was treated to a sympathetic portrayal in Narcos: Mexico. The actor Gerardo Taraceno plays Acosta up as a sentimental, old-school cowboy — reckless and violent at times, sure, but living by a code of honor and harboring a sentimental streak to boot. This flies in the face of all available evidence. Poppa — and a number of sources I spoke with who either investigated Acosta or did business with him — said that the real-life Acosta was a brutal thug, quick to mete out violence and shocking cruelty against anyone he saw as a threat. He shot men down in the street in broad daylight, subjected people to brutal torture, and was said to have once strapped a rival to the back of his pickup truck and dragged him to his bloody, horrible death. And as the years wore on, Acosta grew ever more erratic, thanks in part to his growing number of enemies and also to his fondness for basuco, a crude cocaine paste that he sprinkled into cigarettes and smoked around the clock.He was, in other words, the polar opposite of Amado. Little is known of Amado and Acosta's working relationship, one the young face of the drug trade to come and the other the proud, battle-scarred avatar of what came before. Amado was there not to do Acosta's bidding but to look after the interests of his uncle's syndicate in Guadalajara, which was increasingly coordinating shipments of cocaine on behalf of the Colombians and moving it through Ojinaga. David Ramirez (r); Rachel Mendelson/InsiderOne player who had the opportunity — or misfortune — to see that dynamic up close was Don Henry Ford, Jr, a former drug trafficker working in the region in the '70s and '80s."Amado Carrillo was never working for Pablo Acosta, not for one fucking day," Ford told me. "He represents the big guys down there, the cartel, he's their guy."When Pablo Acosta was finally gunned down in a raid by Mexican police in the tiny village of his birth in 1987, rumors immediately proliferated that Amado had paid a corrupt police commander $1 million to take him out. Unrepentant cowboyIf Ramirez that night in 1985 saw the amiable, confident face that Amado showed when being detained, Don Henry Ford Jr., two years prior, saw something closer to the real Amado — the careful balance of friendly and ruthless with which Amado gained the trust of business partners and government benefactors, while rooting out potential traitors and rivals.Ford grew up on a Texas ranch a few hundred miles north of the border, but as his family's business started to fail in the late 1970s he began to drift down to Mexico, making trips back and forth across the border in search of easy money and unlimited weed."You may consider one side Mexico and one the U.S., but it ain't either. It's the border," Ford told me recently when I reached him by phone. "People in Presidio and Ojinaga have more in common with each other than with anyone in Washington or Mexico City."By the time I talked to him, Ford had been out of the drug game for decades. The beginning of the end had come in 1986 when he was arrested in Texas but then managed to escape and spend a year or so as an honest-to-god fugitive outlaw, laying low in a tiny communal ejido south of the border, guarding multi-ton shipments of Colombian weed in a cave with just a rifle by his side. In 1987, he was caught while moving about a hundred pounds of weed in southern Texas and ended up serving seven years of a 15-year sentence before being released on good behavior — after which he spent another few years under tight restrictions, pissing in a cup for his parole officer as many as three times a week. As much as he hated giving up those years to prison and parole, Ford knows how lucky he was: less than a year after his second arrest, in 1988, the US eliminated parole for federal offenses and introduced mandatory minimums for large-scale drug trafficking. If he'd been busted any later, he could have spent the rest of his life behind bars, as did many drug traffickers — particularly Black and Brown people — sentenced amid the drastic ramping up of the U.S. war on drugs.He put that life behind him — raised kids, raised cattle, and even put aside some land and a business to pass on to his children. But he still has the spark of an outlaw in his voice. Even his email address, which includes the words "unrepentant cowboy," makes clear that he remains resolutely nonconformist. The south Texas ranch where Ford spends his days is so remote that his cell phone barely gets a signal. When we spoke, his voice crackled out of earshot every time he moved in the wrong direction or when he sat down.Ford had a rather haphazard start as a drug trafficker, running into some greedy cops on his first trip to Mexico who were happy to relieve him of his seed money and send him packing. But before long he found a knack for the business, and developed a lucrative operation trading with a loose network of marijuana growers and wholesalers, trafficking hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of dollars in weed at a time.He did most of his business in the state of Coahuila, east of Acosta's territory in Chihuahua, where he could work without having to deal with Acosta, who he knew by reputation to be a fickle and violent man. Years later, Ford would find that out firsthand, when he was attacked by men he believes to have been working for Acosta, and interrogated at length by a man he believes to be Acosta himself. He believes it to have been Acosta because he was blindfolded, and Ford is not one to say things he's not 100% sure of. (I had to take Ford's word on this incident, as there's no record of it aside from Ford's memory of the experience, and Acosta is not around to confirm it.)But before his near-death encounter with Acosta, it was in Coahuila, in the home of his main connect, a guy named Oscar, that he first met Amado around 1983.Their first meeting was just in passing; Amado was one of several cowboy-looking guys milling about during a visit to the home of his partner, where Ford was visiting on one of his many trips south to score wholesale loads of weed. Amado was dressed, like the rest of the guys, in wide-cut polyester pants and the boots popular with Mexican cowboys with a high, slanted Spanish riding heel."He didn't look like anybody extraordinary at all, he looked like Oscar was giving him some work on the farm," Ford told me. "He wasn't wearing a bunch of gold jewelry and shit that would give away the sense of being wealthy. His boots were worn."For most of his career, Ford had stuck to marijuana. And even in the early years of the cocaine boom he said he could see the effect that the introduction of cocaine was having on the business of smuggling. Guys he had known to be sworn pacifists motivated by peace and love as much as money, began carrying weapons, acting all jittery."All of a sudden it was like Miami Vice," he recalled. But he wasn't so altruistic as to turn down good business, and it soon became clear to him that the real money was in cocaine. He wanted in. So he made some inquiries and was told the person to talk to was Amado — that quiet guy in cowboy boots he'd met once a while back.The meeting happened sometime in 1983, just Ford, his cousin, his partner Oscar, and Amado in a motel room in the city of Torreon, in the southern reaches of Coahuila. It started off well enough — like many meetings between drug traffickers, it was mostly a chance to size each other up. Amado brought with him some of the product he had on hand, and for a few hours, the wirey Texan and the Sinaloan trafficker hung out, drank, sniffed cocaine, and chatted pleasantly. Just as Ramirez would observe later, Ford recalled Amado as a smooth customer, calm and collected but friendly. Even a few drinks and a few lines deep, Amado kept his wits about him."He did a lot more listening than he did talking," Ford said.Ford liked that, and he told Amado that he didn't have any interest in working with a hothead like Acosta."I told him 'If you're like that, I don't wanna do business with you,'" Ford said. "I'm interested in fuckin' moving some drugs and making some money."Ford and Amado didn't make a deal that night, but Ford said they agreed to "something tentative." When it was time for Amado to go, but he left the remaining coke as a gift, more where that came from, and Ford and his cousin set about enjoying it.Rachel Mendelson/InsiderA few hours later, as they were trying to sleep off their coke jitters, there came a series of thunderous knocks on the door, bam-bam-bam, and chaos descended on them. A team of heavily armed men rushed into the hotel room. They wore no uniforms, but they moved with such trained precision that Ford immediately took them for cops of some sort. Over the next few hours, he said, they questioned the pair relentlessly."This motherfucker did this to see if I was a cop," Ford said. "He didn't trust us, and decided he was gonna find out who we were."He never saw Amado again.200 miles from El PasoTwo years or so after Ford met him in Torreon, Amado sat patiently in the Border Patrol station in Presidio with agent David Ramirez. The other driver, the one Amado had slowed down to let escape, had made it to the point of entry. His car was clean and, after showing his ID — along with a DFS badge like Amado's — the agents who spoke to him had nothing to charge him with, and let him cruise back into Mexico. (In an interview, Ramirez told me ruefully that he had written the man's name down in his notebook but later lost it, and the question of the man's identity piques his curiosity to this day.)As for Amado, Ramirez may not have caught him trafficking drugs in flagrante, nor had he proven any collusion with the driver of the pickup truck. But there was the AR-15 he'd found in the trunk. For a nonresident of the United States, it was a serious crime to be in possession of a loaded assault rifle. If charges were brought, it could have earned him a few solid years in a federal prison. No one knew it then, but that could have put a serious crimp in Amado's upward trajectory. But that wasn't the purview of the Border Patrol. If they were going to hold Amado, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms — 200 miles away in El Paso — would have to get involved. If they agreed, someone would have to come in from El Paso, a four-hour drive away, bring Amado back, and then take him to magistrate court in Pecos, another two-hour drive from El PasoRamirez made the call, and waited. In the meantime, in case Amado would be charged, Ramirez fingerprinted the suspect, and took a couple mugshots.By now it was around three in the morning. Amado had been pretty quiet as they drove into Presidio, but sitting in the Border Patrol station, he started to open up a bit more, chatting with Ramirez, even boasting a bit as they made small talk to kill time."The guy, once again, had not a worry in the world," Ramirez said. "Real easy guy, and you know it was strange, he offered a lot of info, like that his uncle was Don Neto and that Caro Quintero was his partner."It might seem strange that an experienced heavy in the drug trade would brag about his connections to a well-known trafficker like Don Neto and the notorious killer of a federal agent like Caro Quintero, but the code of silence only applies to the saps at the bottom of the totem pole, or to the civilians ensnared in the web of violence, corruption, and extortion that funnels money up to the bosses. For the guys making the real money, the relationship with law enforcement is a lot more fluid, with a lot more give and take. Perhaps Amado saw an opportunity to cultivate a contact, pocket a card that he could play at a later date. Or maybe he just knew that no ATF agents were getting their asses out of bed at three in the morning and driving all the way to Presidio and back to book him. Much more likely was that he'd be back in Mexico by sun-up no matter what he said to Ramirez.An hour passed, and then Ramirez got word from the Bureau that they weren't going to bother with this one. Coming all that distance to Presidio, it was too much trouble. So he let Amado go. Ramirez held on to the box of ammo, but Amado drove back into Mexico a free man with the illegal AR-15 in his trunk.'You can't live in what-ifs'Looking back to that night in Presidio in 1985, It's hard to fathom how it was possible that agents of the federal government had one of the top drug traffickers in Mexico in their custody and didn't even know it. But according to Ramirez, that was par for the course back then. "At that time, in that area, there was no intelligence collection. It was very primitive," he said. "We were patrol, we weren't really trained for intelligence gathering. Unfortunately that was the attitude back then."Ramirez doesn't pester himself much wondering how things might have gone if the ATF had bothered to haul Amado in. "He coulda done some time, sure," Ramirez replied when I pushed the point. "But you can't live in what-ifs."After that night in 1985, Ramirez would see Amado from time to time around town on the other side of the border. Ramirez would mostly avert his gaze so as not to make eye contact with the man whose night he'd ruined. He saw him at the border crossing too, and from the way Amado carried himself there, Ramirez said he could tell Amado had pull among Mexican officials."He was a charismatic kinda guy," Ramirez recalled. "He made friends with the inspectors there on the U.S. side, the Customs inspectors and the immigration inspectors, invited them to his ranch and they would go over and come back and tell about the cookouts and the time they had." One of the inspectors even invited Ramirez to the party. Ramirez politely declined.Whatever scrutiny caused him to flee Guadalajara did not appear to have followed Amado to Ojinaga, according to Ramirez. "He wasn't hiding! I mean he was out in the open," Ramirez said with some bemusement.In the years that followed, Amado continued to plot his deliberate, careful rise to power. That evening he spent with Ramirez would go down as his only known brush with US authorities — or at least the only one in which he was a suspected criminal rather than a guy asking Customs inspectors over for lunch. Alongside other major traffickers of his generation, like "El Chapo" in Sinaloa and Sonora and the Arellano-Félix brothers in Tijuana, Amado expertly navigated every power vacuum that presented itself — or triggered power vacuums himself. By the late 1980s Amado had moved his base of operations to Ciudad Juárez, the sprawling metropolis that sits across the river from El Paso, where the multiple ports of entry allow a far greater amount of train, truck, and car traffic — and contraband — than Ojinaga ever could. It was there that Amado truly came into his own, controlling organized crime in the city so tightly that normal, everyday street crime became a rarity, lest criminals incur the wrath of the henchmen tasked with keeping things quiet and orderly. David Ramirez had left Presidio as well, transferring to his hometown of El Paso, where he began doing undercover work investigating trafficking networks alongside Mexican cops. He saw firsthand the control that Amado exercised in the city.He even saw Amado once. Ramirez was in Juárez, eating breakfast with some Mexican colleagues, including a federal police commander, when who walks in but Amado, surrounded by a swarm of burly, heavily armed guards. Amado made a beeline for their table and greeted the commander warmly as Ramirez studied his food and preyed that he wouldn't be recognized. "I thought 'oh shoot, this is the guy I arrested!'" Ramirez recalled. "Everybody says they're looking for him, and he's right there!" Once again, though, Ramirez's hands were tied: no matter how much the U.S. might want its hands on Amado, he was out of reach in Mexico, where his massive web of bribes and political connections made him largely untouchable. Still, even if Ramirez's actions did nothing to stop Amado's rise to power, it wasn't all for naught.The Lord of the Skies is deadOn July 3, 1997, Amado Carrillo Fuentes entered Hospital Ángeles Santa Mónica in the ritzy Mexico City neighborhood of Polanco. Amado had had a rough time of it recently, and it would have shown, his voracious cocaine habit and relentless workload taking their toll on his face and his increasingly heavy frame. The hospital was under heavy security, with an entire wing shut down for the guest of honor's privacy. Reuters; Rachel Mendelson/InsiderAmado was by now the undisputed public face of the drug trade in Mexico, with mansions all over the country and countless men doing his bidding. Being the boss is great for a guy like Amado, but not if everyone knows it. In Juárez he and his henchmen had worked hard to keep his name out of the papers, intimidating and threatening journalists and even discouraging singers from composing narcocorridos, the norteño ballads penned in honor of prominent drug traffickers that form an important role in the folk history of organized crime in Mexico. But when you amass power and wealth like Amado had, you can only remain in the shadows for so long. Things had really taken a turn for Amado that February, when one of his most important guardian angels — General Jesús Héctor Gutierrez Rebollo, Mexico's drug czar  — was arrested and publicly accused of collaboration with Amado. Just a few months earlier, Guttierrez Rebollo had been feted in Washington, described by his American counterpart as "a guy of absolute, unquestioned integrity." So it was with a deeply embarrassed vengeance that the attention of both governments now trained itself on Amado.Amado knew as well as anyone that a drug lord's days are numbered as soon as he becomes a liability to the government. By multiple accounts, Amado started looking for an exit almost immediately. He bought property in Chile, moved money abroad, and was even rumored to have approached contacts in the government to offer a massive bribe in exchange for his freedom to retire in anonymity.On July 3, he checked in under a fake name at the hospital in Polanco to undergo plastic surgery to alter his features. (Or, it was rumored later, for a bit of liposuction. It may have been both.)He was never seen alive again.The next day, July 4, about two miles away from the hospital in the similarly posh Lomas Altas neighborhood, Fourth of July festivities were underway at the fortress-like mansion that was home to the U.S. Ambassador to Mexico. Diplomats and dignitaries, bureaucrats and spooks were spread out across the lawn, mingling with their spouses. Among the revelers were a handful of agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration, who, as Amado might have suspected, had been racing to pin down Amado before he could vanish.Their day off came to a sudden end when one of the DEA agents got a call. According to his source, Amado had succumbed to an overdose on the operating table and the body was headed for burial in his home state of Sinaloa.The call kicked off a furious race by U.S. and Mexican officials alike desperate to confirm the drug lord's death. Rumors were swirling that it was all a lie, that Amado couldn't possibly be dead, and to quiet this talk Mexican officials would a few days later take the extraordinary step of laying out Amado's body — puffy by now; his skin a ghastly grey-green — for a viewing at a government building in Mexico City, inviting journalists to show his corpse to the world.Meanwhile, a young intelligence officer for the DEA named Larry Villalobos was racking his brains to think of a way to confirm that the body was Amado's.Then it hit him: the fingerprints. Villalobos had worked for a while as a fingerprint technician with the FBI before joining the DEA, and, prior to his posting in Mexico City, he had been stationed at the DEA field office in El Paso, where he'd helped build a dossier on Amado. As part of his research, he had learned of Amado's brief detention by Border Patrol agent David Ramirez back in 1985, and he knew Ramirez had taken Amado's mugshot and fingerprints. Villalobos made some calls, and it wasn't long before Ramirez found himself awoken by the ring of his telephone. Amado may not have been worth getting out of bed for when Ramirez called the ATF back in 1985, but he sure was now.."They called me about 3 or 4 o'clock in the morning, wanting to know if I still had his prints," Ramirez recalled rather matter-of-factly. "So I dug 'em up and I sent 'em to him."In Mexico City, Villalobos received a fax of the prints and headed to the morgue to compare them with those belonging to the corpse.They were a match.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJul 22nd, 2022

The Tucker Carlson origin story

Tucker Carlson's journey from prep school provocateur to Fox News flamethrower, according to his friends and former classmates. Tucker Carlson during a CNN National Town Meeting on coverage of the White House sex scandal, on January 28, 1998.Richard Ellis/Getty Images Tucker Carlson is remembered as a provocateur and gleeful contrarian by those who knew him in his early days. His bohemian artist mother abandoned her young family and cut Tucker and his brother out of her will. At a Rhode Island prep school and at Trinity College, classmates remember him as a skilled debater who could both amuse and infuriate his audiences. On Oct. 29, 1984, New York police killed an elderly Black woman named Eleanor Bumpurs in her own home. Bumpers, who lived in a public housing complex in the Bronx, had fallen four months behind on her rent. When officials from the city housing authority tried to evict her, she refused, and they called the police. Five officers responded by storming into her apartment. Bumpurs, who had a history of mental illness, grabbed a butcher knife as two officers pushed her against a wall with their plastic shields and a metal pole. A third officer fired two shots from his 12-gauge shotgun, striking Bumpurs in her hand and chest.Eleanor Bumpurs' death dominated the city's news for two months and led the NYPD to revise its guidelines for responding to emotionally disturbed individuals.At St. George's prep school, some 175 miles away in Rhode Island, the incident deeply haunted Richard Wayner. He was one of the school's few Black students and had grown up in a residential tower not far from where Bumpurs had lived. He earned straight As and was so admired that in 1984 his peers elected him senior prefect, the prep equivalent of student body president, making him the first Black class leader in the school's 125-year history. Harvard soon beckoned.Wayner was frustrated with how the St. George's community seemed to ignore the conversations about racial justice that were happening outside the cloistered confines of Aquidneck Island. It bothered Wayne that almost no one at St. George's seemed to know anything about Bumpurs' killing. "You had your crew, you put your head down, and you tried to get through three or four years of prep school with your psyche intact," Wayner said of those days.As senior prefect, one of the duties was to deliver an address each week at the mandatory Sunday chapel service. One Sunday, perched from the chapel podium, Wayner described the shooting as a sea of white faces stared back at him. He concluded with the words: "Does anyone think that woman deserved to die?"Near the front of the chapel, a single hand went up for a few brief seconds. It was Tucker Carlson.Eleanor Bumpurs was shot and killed by the New York Police Department on October 29, 1984APThen a sophomore, Tucker had a reputation as a gleeful contrarian – an indefatigable debater and verbal jouster who, according to some, could also be a bit of a jerk. "Tucker was just sort of fearless," said Ian Toll, a St. George's alumnus who would go on to be a military historian. "Whether it was a legitimate shooting may have been a point of debate but the fact was that Tucker was an underclassmen and the culture was to defer to the seniors." Wayner himself never saw Tucker's hand go up, and the two kept in touch over the years. (Note on style: Tucker Carlson and the members of his family are referred to here by their first names to avoid confusion.)  Four decades later, glimmers of that prep school provocateur appear on Tucker's Prime Time show on Fox, which garners an average of between 3 to 4 million viewers a night. His furrowed visage and spoiling-for-a-fight demeanor are all too familiar to those who have known him for decades. In the words of Roger Stone, a Republican political operative, frequent guest, and longtime friend of Tucker's: "Tucker Carlson is the single most influential conservative journalist in America… It is his courage and his willingness to talk about issues that no one else is willing to cover that has led to this development."Tucker's name has even been floated as a possible Republican presidential candidate in 2024. "I mean, I guess if, like, I was the last person on earth, I could do it. But, I mean, it seems pretty unlikely that I would be that guy." he said on the "Ruthless" podcast in June, dismissing this possibility.Tucker's four decades in Washington, and his transition from conservative magazine writer to right-wing television pundit, have been well documented. But less well known are his early years and how they shaped him: his bohemian artist mother, who abandoned her young family and cut Tucker and his brother out of her will; the Rhode Island prep school where he met his future spouse; and his formation into a contrarian debater who could both amuse and infuriate his audience with his attention-getting tactics.Tucker declined to participate in an interview with Insider, saying in a statement. "Your level of interest in the boring details of my life is creepy as hell, and also pathetic," he wrote. "You owe it to yourself and the country to do something useful with your talents. Please reassess."California roots Tucker Carlson's West Coast roots burrow as deep as a giant redwood. He was born in San Francisco in May 1969 as the excesses of the Sixties peaked and the conservative backlash to the counterculture and the Civil Rights movement started to take shape. Tucker's mother, Lisa McNear Lombardi, born in San Francisco in 1945, came from one of the state's storied frontier families. Lisa's mother, Mary Nickel James, was a cattle baron heiress. Her great-great-grandfather had owned 3 million acres of ranchland, making him among the largest landowners west of the Mississippi. Her father Oliver Lombardi was an insurance broker and descendant of Italian-speaking Swiss immigrants. Lisa enrolled at UC Berkeley, where she majored in architecture. She met Richard Carlson, a San Francisco TV journalist from a considerably less prosperous background, while still in college. Lisa and Richard eloped in Reno, Nevada in 1967. The couple didn't notify Lisa's mother, who was traveling in Europe with her new husband at the time. "Family members have been unable to locate them to reveal the nuptials," a gossip item published in the San Francisco Examiner dished.Tucker arrived two years later. A second son, Buckley, was born two years after that. As Richard's career began to flourish, the family moved first to Los Angeles and then, in 1975, to La Jolla, a moneyed, beach-front enclave about 12 miles north of San Diego. When Lisa and Richard divorced a year later, in 1976, Richard got full custody of their sons, then 6 and 4. According to three of Tucker's childhood classmates, Lisa disappeared from her sons' lives. They don't recall Tucker talking about her, or seeing her at school events. Marc Sterne, Tucker's boarding school roommate who went on to be executive producer of the Tony Kornheiser Show, says the two didn't talk much about Tucker's relationship with his mother and he got the impression that Tucker and Richard were exceptionally close. When Sterne's own parents split up that year, he said Tucker was supportive and understanding. Lisa spent the next two decades as an artist – moving first to Los Angeles, where she befriended the painter David Hockney, and later split her time between France and South Carolina with her husband, British painter Michael Vaughan. In 1979, Richard Carlson married Patricia Swanson, heiress to the Swanson frozen foods empire that perfected the frozen Salisbury steak for hassle-free dinners. She soon legally adopted Tucker and Buckley.  When Lisa died in 2011, her estate was initially divided equally between Tucker, his brother Buckley, and Vaughan. But in 2013, Vaughan's daughter from another marriage found a one-page handwritten document in Lisa's art studio in France that left her assets to her surviving husband with an addendum that stated, "I leave my sons Tucker Swanson McNear Carlson and Buckley Swanson Peck Carlson one dollar each." A protracted battle over Lombardi's estate involving Vaughan and the Carlson brothers wound up in probate court. The Carlsons asserted the will was forged but a forensic witness determined that Lisa had written the note. The case eventually went to the California Appellate Court, which allowed the Carlson brothers to keep their shares in 2019."Lisa was basically sort of a hippie and a free spirit," said one attorney who  represented the Vaughan family and recalled having conversations about the case. "She was very liberal and she did not agree with Tucker's politics. But she stuck the will in the book, everyone forgot about it, and then she passed away."In a 2017 interview with The New Yorker, Tucker described the dissolution of his family as a "totally bizarre situation — which I never talk about, because it was actually not really part of my life at all." Several pieces of art produced by Tucker's mother, Lisa Lombardi, and her then-partner Mo Mcdermott in the home of a California collector.Ted Soqui for InsiderLisa When Lisa left her husband and two young sons, she was escaping suburban family life in favor of the more bohemian existence as an artist. One of Tucker and Buckley's former teachers said their mother's absence "left some sour grapes." "I felt they sided with the father," Rusty Rushton, a former St. George's English teacher said. After the divorce, Lisa returned to Los Angeles and tried to break into the city's thriving contemporary art scene. She befriended Mo McDermott, an LA-based British sculptor, model, and longtime assistant to David Hockney, one of the most influential artists of the 20th century. A few years before he met Lisa, the scene was captured in Jack Hazan's 1974 groundbreaking documentary "A Bigger Splash," which followed Hockney and his coterie of gay male friends idly lounging around the pool in his Hollywood Hills home."When love goes wrong, there's more than two people who suffer," said McDermott, playing a slightly exaggerated version of himself, in a voiceover in the documentary.Lisa and McDermott became a couple and Lisa won admission into Hockney's entourage. Hockney lived a far more reclusive lifestyle than his pop art compatriot Andy Warhol but some four dozen or so artists, photographers, and writers regularly passed through his properties."She was more like a hippie, arty kind of person. I couldn't ever imagine her being a mother," said Joan Quinn, the then-West Coast editor of Andy Warhol's Interview Magazine, who knew Lisa during those years and still owns several of her works. "She was very nervous all the time… She was ill-content."The pair were often seen at Hockney's Hollywood Hills home and at Friday night gallery openings on La Cienega Boulevard. They collaborated on playful, large-scale wood sculptures of animals, vegetables, and trees. A handful of their pieces could be seen around Hockney's hillside ranch."Hockney had me over to meet them. He wanted a gallery to handle their work," said Molly Barnes, who owns a gallery in West Hollywood and gave the pair shows in 1983 and 1984. "They were brilliant and David loved Mo. He thought they were the best artists around.""She was quiet and intellectual and somewhat withdrawn," Barnes said. "She had come from a lot of money and that reflected on her personality. She wasn't a snob in any way but she had the manners of a private school girl and someone who was fighting the establishment."A sculpture by Tucker's mother, Lisa Lombardi, and her then-partner Mo Mcdermott in the home of a California collector.Ted Soqui for InsiderNone of them recall Lisa discussing her two sons. McDermott died in 1988. After his death, Hockney discovered that McDermott had been stealing drawings from him and selling them. Hockney said the betrayal helped bring on a heart attack. "I believe I had a broken heart," Hockney told The Guardian in 1995. (Hockney did not answer multiple inquiries about Lisa or McDermott.)In 1987, Lisa met Vaughan, one of Hockney's peers in the British art scene known as the "Bradford Mafia." They married in February 1989 and for years afterward they lived in homes in the Pyrenees of southwest France and South Carolina's Sea Islands.Lisa continued to make art, primarily oversized, wooden sculptures of everyday household items like peeled lemons and dice, but she exhibited her work infrequently. She died of cancer in 2011, at which point Carlson was a decade into his media career and a regular contributor on Fox News. Richard In contrast to Lisa's privileged upbringing, Richard's childhood was full of loss. Richard's mother was a 15-year-old high school girl who had starved herself during her pregnancy, and he was born with a condition called rickets. Six weeks later, his mother left him at an orphanage in Boston called The Home for Little Wanderers. Richard's father, who was 18, tried to convince her to kidnap the infant and marry him, but she refused. He shot and killed himself two blocks from her home.A Massachusetts couple fostered Richard for two years until he was adopted by a wool broker and his wife, which he described in a 2009 reflection for the Washington Post. His adoptive parents died when he was still a teenager and Richard was sent to the Naval Academy Preparatory School. He later enlisted in the Marines and enrolled in an ROTC program at the University of Mississippi to pay for college.In 1962, Richard developed an itch for journalism while working as a cop in Ocean City, Maryland at the age of 21, and the future NBC political correspondent Catherine Mackin, helped him get a copy boy job at the Los Angeles Times. Richard moved to San Francisco three years later and his career blossomed. He started producing television news features with his friend, Lance Brisson, the son of actress Rosalind Russell. They filmed migrant farm workers in the Imperial Valley living in cardboard abodes in 110 degree weather, traipsed the Sierra Nevada mountains to visit a hermit, and covered the Zodiac Killer and Bay Area riots (during one demonstration in 1966, they sent television feeds from their car where they trapped for four hours  and a crowd roughed up Brisson, which required four stitches under his left eye). Another time, they rented a helicopter in search of a Soviet trawler but they had to jump into the Pacific Ocean when the chopper ran low on fuel near the shore and crashed.In 1969, Richard and Brisson co-wrote an article for Look Magazine that claimed San Francisco Mayor Joseph Alioto had mafia ties. Alioto sued the magazine's owner for libel and won a $350,000 judgment when a judge determined the article's allegations were made with "actual malice" and "reckless disregard for whether they were true or not." (Richard was not a defendant in the case and has stood by his story. Brisson declined an interview.)Richard moved back to Los Angeles to join KABC's investigative team two years later. One series of stories that delved into a three-wheeled sports car called the Dale and the fraudulent marketing practices of its founder, Geraldine Elizabeth Carmichael, won a Peabody award in 1975. The series also outed Carmichael as a transgender woman. (Richard's role in Carmichael's downfall was explored in the HBO documentary "The Lady and the Dale.") Soon after arriving as an anchor for KFMB-TV, San Diego's CBS affiliate, Richard ran a story revealing that tennis pro Renee Richards, who had just won a tournament at the La Jolla Tennis Club, was a transgender woman."I said, 'You can't do this. I am a private person,'" Richards, who years later would advise Caitlyn Jenner about her transition, urged the television journalist to drop his story, according to a 2015 interview. "His reply? 'Dr. Richards, you were a private person until you won that tournament yesterday.'" By the time he left the anchor chair in 1977 to take a public relations job with San Diego Savings and Loan, Richard had soured on journalism. "I have seen a lot of arrogance and hypocrisy in the press and I don't like it," he told San Diego Magazine in 1977. "Television news is insipid, sophomoric, and superficial… There are so many things I think are important and interesting but the media can be counted on to do handstands on that kind of scandal and sexual sensation."Years later, Richard said that he never tried to encourage his eldest son in politics or journalism, but that Tucker had a clear interest in both from an early age. "I never thought he was going to be a reporter or a writer. I never encouraged him to do that," Richard told CSPAN of his eldest son in 2006. "I actually attempted not to encourage him politically, either. I decided those are the things that should be left up to them."A LaJolla, California post card.Found Image Holdings/Corbis via Getty ImagesA La Jolla childhoodAfter the divorce, Richard and his boys stayed in La Jolla in a house overlooking the La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club. Friends of Tucker's would later say that the trauma of their mother's absence brought the three of them closer together.  "They both really admired their dad. He was a great source of wisdom. He's one of the great raconteurs you'll ever meet. They loved that glow that came from him," said Sterne, Tucker's boarding school roommate. "They both looked up to him, it was clear from my eyes."In an essay included in his book "The Long Slide: Thirty Years in American Journalism," Tucker described Richard as a kind parent who imbued family outings with a deeper message.One of Tucker's earliest memories, he writes, was from just after the divorce, when Tucker was seven and Buckley was five: the brothers gripping the edge of a luggage rack on the roof of his family's 1976 Ford Country Squire station wagon, while their father gunned the engine down a dirt road."I've sometimes wondered what car surfing was meant to teach us," Tucker wrote. "Was he trying to instill in us a proper sense of fatalism, the acknowledgement that there is only so much in life you can control? Or was it a lesson about the importance of risk?... Unless you're willing to ride the roof of a speeding station wagon, in other words, you're probably not going to leave your mark on the world."More often, the boys were left unsupervised and found their own trouble. Tucker once took a supermarket shopping cart and raced it down a hill in front of their house with Buckley in its basket. The cart tipped over, leaving Buckley with a bloody nose. He also recalled building makeshift hand grenades with hydrochloric acid and aluminum foil – using a recipe from their father's copy of "The Anarchist Cookbook"  and tossing them onto a nearby golf course."No one I know had a father like mine," Tucker wrote. "My father was funnier and more outrageous, more creative  and less willing to conform, than anyone I knew or have known since. My brother and I had the best time growing up."Richard sent Tucker to La Jolla Country Day, an upscale, largely white private school with a reputation as one of the best in Southern California, for elementary and middle school. In his book, "Ship of Fools: How a Selfish Ruling Class Is Bringing America to the Brink of Revolution," Tucker described his first grade teacher Marianna Raymond as "a living parody of earth-mother liberalism" who "wore long Indian-print skirts," and sobbed at her desk over the world's unfairness. "As a conservative, I had contempt for the whiny mawkishness of liberals. Stop blubbering and teach us to read. That was my position," he wrote. "Mrs. Raymond never did teach us; my father had to hire a tutor to get me through phonics.""I beg to differ," Raymond countered in an interview, saying that she was also Tucker's tutor during the summer after first grade and was even hired again. "I'm a great teacher. I'm sure he liked me." For her part, she remembered Tucker as a fair-haired tot who was "very sweet" and "very polite." (When The Washington Post reached out her her, she said Carlson's characterization had been "shocking.")  Friends from La Jolla remember that Tucker loved swimming the mile-and-a-half distance between La Jolla Shores Park and La Jolla Cove, jumping off cliffs that jut out into the Pacific Ocean, riffing on the drums, and playing Atari and BB gun games at the mall with his friends. "He was a happy kid. We were young, so we used to go to the beach. We did normal kid stuff," said Richard Borkum, a friend who is now a San Diego-based attorney. When they weren't at the beach or the mall, Borkum and another friend, Javier Susteata, would hang out at the Carlson home listening to The Who, AC/DC, and other classic rock bands. Borkum said the adults at the Carlson household largely left them alone. "I'm Jewish and Javier was Mexican and I'm not sure they were too happy we were going to their house," Borkum said.Another friend, Warren Barrett, remembers jamming with Tucker and going snow camping at Big Bear and snorkeling off Catalina Island with him in middle school."Tucker and I literally ate lunch together every day for two years," Barrett said. "He was completely the opposite of now. He was a cool southern California surfer kid. He was the nicest guy, played drums, and had a bunch of friends. And then something must have happened in his life that turned him into this evil diabolical shithead he is today."LaJolla is a upscale beach community outside of San Diego. Carlson and his family moved their in 1975.Slim Aarons/Hulton Archive/Getty ImagesSan Diego's next mayorRichard, meanwhile, was exploring a second career in public service. By 1980, he had risen to vice president of a bank headed by Gordon Luce, a California Republican power broker and former Reagan cabinet official. The following year, Richard's public profile got a boost when he tangled with another veteran television journalist, CBS's Mike Wallace. The 60 Minutes star had interviewed Richard for a story about low-income Californians who faced foreclosures from the bank after borrowing money to buy air conditioners without realizing they put their homes up for collateral. Richard had his own film crew tape the interview, and caught Wallace saying that people who had been defrauded were "probably too busy eating their watermelon and tacos." The remark made national headlines and Wallace was forced to apologize.Pete Wilson, the U.S. Senator and former San Diego mayor, encouraged Richard to run for office. In 1984, Richard entered the race to challenge San Diego Mayor Roger Hedgecock's re-election. "He was a very well-regarded guy," Hedgecock told Insider. "He had an almost Walter Cronkite-like appearance, but because he was in local news he was all about not offending anybody. He didn't have particularly strong views. He was nice looking, articulate, and made good appearances, but what he had to say was not particularly memorable other than he wanted me out of office."Sometimes Tucker tagged along for campaign events. "He would always show up in a sport coat, slacks and a bowtie and I thought that's really nice clothing for someone who is a kid," Hedgecock remembers. He was a very polite young man who didn't say much."Five days before voters went to the polls, Hedgecock went on trial for 15 counts of conspiracy and perjury, an issue that Richard highlighted in his television campaign ads. Richard still lost to Hedgecock 58 to 42 percent despite pouring nearly $800,000 into the race and outspending Hedgecock two to one. (Hedgecock was found guilty of violating campaign finance laws and resigned from office in 1985 but his convictions were overturned on appeal five years later.)People are seen near a beach in La Jolla, California, on April 15, 2020.Gregory Bull/AP PhotoPrep school In the fall of 1983, a teenaged Tucker traded one idyllic beachfront community for another.At 14, Tucker moved across the country to Middletown, Rhode Island, to attend St. George's School. (Buckley would follow him two years later.) The 125-year-old boarding school sits atop a hill overlooking the majestic Atlantic Ocean, and is on the other side of Aquidneck Island where Richard Carlson went to naval school. The private school was known as a repository for children of wealthy East Coast families who were not as academically inclined as those who attended Exeter or Andover. Its campus had dorms named after titans of industry, verdant athletic fields, and a white-sand beach.Senators Claiborne Pell and Prescott Bush graduated, as did Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, and poet Ogden Nash. Tucker's class included "Modern Family" actor Julie Bowen; Dede Gardner, the two-time Oscar-winning producer of "12 Years a Slave" and "Moonlight"; and former DC Entertainment president Diane Nelson. Billy Bush – "Extra" host, and cousin to George W. Bush – was three years behind him.Tuition at St. George's cost $13,000 per year in the 1980s (it's now up to $67,000 for boarding school students) and student schedules were tightly regimented with breakfast, classes, athletics, dinner, and study hall encompassing each day. Students were required to take religion classes, and attend chapel twice a week. Faculty and staff would canvass the dorms on Thursdays and Sundays to ensure no one skipped the Episcopal service. Tucker impressed his new chums as an hyper-articulate merrymaker who frequently challenged upperclassmen who enforced dorm rules and the school's liberal faculty members."He was kind of a California surfer kid. He was funny, very intelligent, and genuinely well-liked," said Bryce Traister, who was one year ahead of Tucker and is now a professor at the University of British Columbia. "There were people who didn't like Tucker because they thought he was a bullshitter but he was very charming. He was a rascal and a fast-talker, as full of shit as he is today."Back then Tucker was an iconoclast more in the mold of Ferris Bueller than preppy neocon Alex P. Keaton, even if his wardrobe resembled the "Family Ties" star. Students were required to wear jackets, ties, and khakis, although most came to class disheveled. Tucker wore well-tailored coats and chinos, pairing his outfit with a ribbon-banded watch and colorful bowtie which would later become his signature. "He was always a very sharp dresser. He had a great rack of ties. He always knew how to tie a bowtie but he didn't exclusively wear a bowtie," said Sterne, Tucker's freshman year roommate. "He always had great clothes. It was a lot of Brooks Brothers." Their crew crew held court in each others' dorm rooms at Auchincloss, the freshman hall, kicking around a Hacky Sack and playing soccer, talking about Adolph Huxley, George Orwell, and Hemingway, and dancing to Tom Petty, the Grateful Dead, and U2 on the campus lawn. Televisions weren't allowed so students listened to their Sony Walkman swapping cassette recordings of live concerts. Tucker introduced several bands to his friends."He loved classic rock and he was and still is a big fan of Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead," said Sterne, who saw a Dead show with Tucker at RFK Stadium in 1986.Sometimes the clique got slices at Aquidneck Pizza and played arcade games in town, hung out in history instructor William Schenck's office, and smoked pot and Marlborough Red cigarettes on a porch in the main building's common room that faced the ocean, according to multiple sources. When the school administrators banned smoking indoors the following year so they congregated behind the dumpster behind the dining hall. Vodka (often the brand Popov) mixed with Kool-Aid was the drink of choice and students stockpiled bottles under their beds.Tucker was an enthusiastic drinker, half a dozen classmates recall. In his book, "The Long Slide," Tucker credits Hunter S. Thompson's "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" for enticing him to try drugs in 10th grade, The experience gave him "double vision and a headache." By the time he got to college, Tucker writes, "I switched to beer."By the late 1990s Tucker stopped smoking. He eventually cut alcohol too in 2002 after drinking so much while covering George W. Bush in New Hampshire during the 2000 primary that he accidentally got on the wrong plane, according to a friend.Most of Tucker's fellow students remember him best as a skilled speaker."He was always eager to take the less palatable side of the argument and argue that side," said Mahlon Stewart, who attended prep school and college with Tucker and is now a geriatric specialist at Columbia University. "Back then it was comedic. I thought it was an act.""His confidence was just amazing. He could just put out some positions and be willing to argue anything no matter how outlandish," Keller Kimbrough, a former classmate who's now a professor at the University of Colorado. "We were talking about politics and religion one time Tucker pulled this card out of his wallet and said, 'Well actually I'm an ordained minister, I'm an authority on the subject.' This was a stunt. He could literally play the religion card." "When he got the job at Fox I just thought 'Wow that's perfect for him, that's exactly what he can do.'"Their dorm room discourses were never serious. Tucker would pick a side in a debate between whether the color red or blue were better, and the crowd would erupt whenever he made a good point, friends said.  "Even at age 15 he was verbally dexterous and a great debater," Ian Toll said. "His conservative politics was fully formed even back then. He believed in strong defense and minimal government."His teachers saw a pupil who was primed for law school."Language and speaking came naturally to him. He took pleasure in it," said Rusty Rushton, Tucker's former English teacher. Tucker's politics, though, "seemed fluid to me," Rushton said. "I don't think of him as a deeply ensconced ideologue."He ditched soccer after sophomore year to act in a school theater production of Ayn Rand's courtroom thriller "Night of January 16th" (Julie Bowen starred as the prosecuting attorney. Tucker played a juror). But Tucker found his voice in competitive debate when he eventually joined the school's debate club. The team traveled to other private school campuses to compete against schools like Andover, Exeter, and Roxbury Latin in tournaments."He won some debate and basically did a victory lap afterward and got in the face of all the faculty there," one alum from a rival school who debated against Tucker said. "After defeating the student team, he started challenging the faculty, and said, 'Do any of you want to take me on? Are any of you capable of debating me?'"SusieIn the fall of Tucker's sophomore year, a new headmaster arrived at St. George's, Rev. George Andrews II. Andrews' daughter, Susie – who Tucker would eventually marry – was in Tucker's class. According to school tradition, a rotating group of underclassmen was charged with serving their classmates dinner and, one night in late September, Tucker and Susie had the shift at the same time. "They were sitting at a table at the far end of Queen Hall just leaning in, talking to each other," Sterne recalled. "You could see the sparks flying, which was cool."Susie floated between the school's friend groups easily. When she was seen mingling with Tucker, some questioned what she saw in him."People were saying, 'Come on Susie, why are you dating Tucker?' He's such a loser slacker and she was so sweet," Traister said. The pair started dating at the age of 15 and quickly became inseparable. Tucker gained notoriety on campus for repeatedly sneaking into Susie's room on the second floor of Memorial Schoolhouse, the school's stately administrative office that housed the headmaster's quarters. He had less time for his dumpster buddies now that the couple hung out on the campus lawn, attended chapel and an interdenominational campus ministry organization called FOCUS. His senior yearbook included a photo of Tucker squinting in concern to a classmate, with the caption "What do you mean you told Susie?While Susie was universally liked within the St. George's community, her father was polarizing.Andrews led the school during a turbulent period – it was later revealed – when its choirmaster Franklin Coleman was accused of abusing or having inappropriate conduct with at least 10 male students, according to an independent investigation by the law firm Foley Hoag in 2016. (Two attorneys representing several victims said 40 alumni contacted them with credible accounts of molestation and rape accusations at the hands of St. George's employees between 1974 and 2004 after a 2015 school-issued report detailed 26 accounts of abuse in the 1970s and 1980s. (Coleman was never criminally charged and he has not responded to Insider's attempts to reach him.) Over his eight-year tenure as school music director, from 1980 to 1988, Coleman invited groups of boys to his apartment for private parties. Sometimes he shared alcohol and pot with some of them, gave them back and neck rubs, showed pornographic videos, traveled with them on choral trips and stayed in their hotel rooms, and appeared nude around some of them, the report found. Several of Tucker's classmates and former faculty said they had no reason to believe he would have been aware of the accusations. "There were rumors circulating wildly that Coleman was bad news. The idea was he would cultivate relationships with young men," Ian Toll, a St. George's alum, said. "Anyone who was there at that time would have likely been aware of those rumors."Andrews told Foley Hoag investigators he was not aware of any complaints about Coleman until May 1988 (by then, Tucker had finished his freshman year in college) when school psychiatrist Peter Kosseff wrote a report detailing a firsthand account of misconduct. But Andrews acknowledged to investigators the school could have been aware of "prior questionable conduct" before then, the report said. Andrews fired Coleman in May 1988 after the school confronted Coleman with allegations of misconduct and he did not deny them. According to the investigation, Andrews told students Coleman resigned due to "emotional stress" and that he had the "highest regard and respect for him." On the advice of a school attorney, Andrews did not report the music teacher to child protective services. He also knew that his faculty dean wrote Coleman a letter of recommendation for a job at another school, according to investigators. Andrews left the school a few weeks after Coleman departed. By September 1989, he was named headmaster at St. Andrew's School in Boca Raton, Florida which he led for 18 years. (Andrews declined to speak about Tucker or his tenure at either school.) St. George's, meanwhile, reached an undisclosed settlement with up to 30 abuse survivors in 2016. Coleman found work as a choir director at Tampa Preparatory School in Tampa Bay, Florida before he retired in 2008. Tucker Carlson attended St. George’s School, a boarding school starting at age 14.Dina Rudick/The Boston Globe via Getty ImagesTrinity In the fall of 1987, Tucker enrolled at Trinity College in Hartford, CT, where Rev. Andrews had also attended.Nearly two-thirds of Trinity's student body back then originated from private schools and many came from wealthy backgrounds. Tuition in 1987 cost $11,700 plus an additional $3,720 for room and board—around $27,839 in today's dollars."When the Gulf War broke out" in 1990, one Trinity alum who knew Tucker recalled, "there was a big plywood sign in front of the student center that read, 'Blood for Oil,' and someone else threw a bucket of paint on it."The posh campus was situated in the middle of Hartford, Connecticut, the state's capital and one of its poorest cities. Discussions about race and inequality were sometimes at the forefront of campus politics, but many students avoided engaging in them entirely."There were issues about whether black students should only date other black students, that kind of thing," said Kathleen Werthman, a classmate of Tucker's who now works at a Florida nonprofit for people with disabilities. "My sophomore year, for new students, they had a speaker talking about racism, and one of the students said, 'I never met a black student, how are you supposed to talk to them?' And the idea that only white people can be racist was challenged too."Susie was at Vanderbilt in Nashville, Tennessee. His brother remained in Rhode Island and other prep school friends had fanned out across the East Coast. Tucker moved into a four-bedroom dormitory overlooking the main quad. One suitemate, Neil Patel, was an economics major from Massachusetts who played intramural softball. (They would co-found the Daily Caller together two decades years later.) Other roommates played on the varsity soccer team and they formed a tight-knit group."I remember being struck by him. He was the same way he is now," said Rev. Billy Cerveny, a college friend of Tucker's who's now a pastor at Redbird Nashville. "He was a force of nature. He had a sense of presence and gravitas. You might get into an argument with him, but you end up loving the guy."Tucker often went out of his way to amuse his friends. Once during the spring semester, several activists set up a podium and microphone beneath his dorm window to protest the CIA's on-campus recruitment visits. The demonstration was open-mic so Tucker went up to the stage and told the crowd of about 15 people, "I think you're all a bunch of greasy chicken fuckers.""I think people laughed. He did," Cerveny said. "There was always a small collection of people any time there was an issue who tried to stir the pot in that way. Some people were dismissive and other people loved it, thinking 'Oh we're getting a fight here.'"As a sophomore, Tucker and his friends moved into a dingy three-story house on Crescent Street on the edge of the campus. He ditched his tailored jackets, khakis, and bowties for oversized Levi jeans, t-shirts, and untucked oxford shirts. Tucker commandeered a low-ceilinged room above the front porch with so many windows he had to hang up tapestries to keep out the sun. The tiny alcove had barely enough space for an eight-foot futon and several bookshelves Tucker built himself stacked with books he collected. Friends remember Tucker receiving an 8-by-10 manilla envelope that his father sent through the mail once or twice a month containing dozens of articles from newspapers and magazines.One of Tucker's friends, Cerveny, remembered stopping by Richard's home in Washington, D.C. and finding evidence of his hobbies, including the world's second largest collection of walking sticks."His house was filled with rare canes he collected from all over the world," Cerveny said. "The hallways had really amazing rows of canes hung on hooks that were specially made to mount these things on the house. One used to be a functional shotgun, another one was made out of a giraffe. His dad would pull out newspaper clippings of WWII Navy aircraft carriers. It changed the way I thought about a lot of things. I had never seen anything like that. Who collects canes?"During sophomore year, Tucker's friends decided to rush Delta Phi, a well-to-do fraternity also known as St. Elmo's. The Greek scene had a large presence on campus — about 20 percent of men joined them even though Trinity was a liberal arts school — and St. Elmo's had a reputation as freewheeling scamps. Once a year, a St. Elmo's brother would ride his motorcycle naked through the campus cafeteria. (Faculty voted in 1992 to abolish Greek life saying they were sexist and racist, and school administrators instead forced fraternities to become co-ed.)But Tucker refused to come aboard. Some classmates thought it was because he didn't want to be hazed."Tucker was not a joiner like that," Mahlon Stewart said. "He wouldn't have set himself up for whatever humiliation would have been involved. He would not have put up with that." But Cerveny, who pledged the fraternity, said it was a matter of faith."I remember explicitly him saying 'Look, I want to focus on what my faith is about and I thought this would be a big distraction,'" Cerveny said. "But he was very much in the mix with us. When we moved to a fraternity house [on Broad Street], we asked him to live with us."Tucker occasionally dropped in on his friends' fraternity events and occasionally brought Susie when she visited or Buckley when he drifted into town. Other times they hung out at Baker's Cafe on New Britain Avenue. Mostly Tucker stayed in his room."He was basically a hermit. It wasn't like he was going to a ton of parties" one Trinity St. Elmo's brother said. "He was not a part of the organizational effort of throwing big parties, or encouraging me to join the fraternity." Susie, who didn't drink or smoke, was a moderating influence. "Tucker and Susie had their moral compass pointing north even back then," Sterne said. "Tucker's faith was not something he was focused on in his early years but when he met Susie and he became close to her family, that started to blossom and grow in him. Now it's a huge part of his life."By the time his crew moved to another house on Broad Street, they each acquired vintage motorcycles and tinkered with them in their garage. Tucker owned a 1968 flathead Harley Davidson that barely ran and relied on a red Jeep 4X4 to transport friends around town (the Volkswagen van he had freshman year blew up). He smoked Camel unfiltered cigarettes, sipped bourbon, and occasionally brewed beer in the basement, including a batch he named "Coal Porter," according to GQ.When he wasn't reading outside of his courses or tinkering with his carburetor, Tucker took classes in the humanities and ultimately majored in history. Tucker dabbled in other fields including Russian history, Jewish history, Women's Studies, and Religious Studies, sitting in the back of lecture halls with his friends. Ron Kiener, who taught an introductory level course in Judaism, recalled Tucker performing "poorly" but earning a credit. "He did not get a stellar grade from me," Kiener said. "Based on what he says now he surely didn't get very much out of my courses."But Leslie Desmangles, who led courses in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Myth, Rite, and Sacrament, said Tucker was engaged and likely did just enough to pass his courses even if he wasn't very studious or vocal in class discussions."He was interested in understanding the nature of religious belief and studying different cultures and religions but I'm not sure if he had an interest in diversity," Desmangles said. "He was genuinely interested in ritual since a lot of the Episcopal church is highly ritualistic."Tucker's fascination with religion extended to his extracurricular activities too. He and several friends joined Christian Fellowship, a Bible study group that met weekly and helped the school chaplain lead Sunday services. Some members even volunteered with ConnPIRG, a student advocacy group on hunger and environmental issues, and traveled to Washington D.C. to protest the Gulf War. But Tucker steered clear of campus activism. He spent his free time reading and seeing Blues Traveler, Widespread Panic, and Sting perform when they came through Connecticut. Sometimes he skipped school to follow his favorite band, the Grateful Dead, on tour.He took an interest in Central American politics too. At the end of freshman year, Tucker and Patel traveled to Nicaragua. "We did not have a place to stay or any set plans," Tucker told the Trinity Tripod, his college paper, in March 1990. "It was very spontaneous. We are both extremely political and we felt that getting to know the country and some of its citizens would give us a better perspective on the situation." In February 1990, Tucker returned with three friends to Managua for 10 days to observe Nicaragua's elections. The National Opposition Union's Violetta Chamoro, which was backed by the U.S. government, defeated the leftist Sandinista National Liberation Front Daniel Ortega who had been in power since 1979. A month later Tucker and his classmate Jennifer Barr, who was separately in Nicaragua to observe elections and distribute medical supplies to the Sandinistas, shared their perspectives about their visits to a small crowd at the Faculty Club for the school's Latin America Week. Tucker thought press coverage of the election was too left-leaning and criticized the media for skewing a conservative victory, according to Barr."I don't think it was necessarily true," Barr said. "He was dismissive [about my views]. I did get a sense that he believed in what he was saying, and it was very different from my experience and my understanding of the race."Tucker's stance on U.S. politics at the time was less didactic. As the 1992 presidential election loomed his senior year, Tucker touted the independent candidacy of Ross Perot, a Texas business magnate, to his friends although it did not appear that Tucker was an ardent supporter."Tucker would go on and on about how Ross Perot was the answer to this or that, as a joke, and every one would participate" one St. Elmo's brother said. "He liked the way Ross Perot was basically throwing a wrench into the system. He wasn't a serious Ross Perot proponent. He was cheering on somebody who was screwing up the system."In Tucker's college yearbook, below his tousle-haired, bowtie wearing thumbnail photo, was a list of his extra-curricular activities: "History; Christian Fellowship 1 2 3 4, Jesse Helms Foundation, Dan White Society." Neither of the latter two – named, respectively, after the ultra-conservative North Carolina Senator, and a San Francisco supervisor who assassinated Harvey Milk in 1978 – ever existed. Tucker admired Helms for being a "bull in the china shop" of Congress, one classmate said. Some friends believed Tucker slipped in the off-color references as a lark."It's like a joke you and a friend would put in a series of anagrams that only you and two friends would remember and no one else would," the St. Elmo's friend said. "It's so niche that only someone like Tucker is thinking things like that or would even know the name of the person who killed Harvey Milk. He paid attention to things like that."Others claimed Tucker was the victim of a prank."It would not at all surprise me if one of the other guys in the [fraternity] house filled it in for him, and not just an inside joke, but pegging him with something that he got grief for," another close friend said. Protesters rally against Fox News outside the Fox News headquarters at the News Corporation building, March 13, 2019 in New York City.Drew Angerer/Getty ImagesAn outsider among insidersBy the spring of 1991, Tucker's academic performance had caught up with him. He had accumulated a 1.9 grade point average and may have finished with a 2.1 GPA, according to one faculty member who viewed a copy of his transcript. Tucker would eventually graduate from Trinity a year late. Falling behind was not uncommon. About 80 percent of Trinity students completed their degrees in four years, according to Trinity College records. (A Trinity spokeswoman would not comment on Tucker's transcript due to FERPA laws, which protect student privacy.Tucker's post-collegiate plans fell through too. Tucker applied to the CIA that spring. The spy agency passed."He mentioned that he had applied and they rejected him because of his drug use," another college friend said, while declining to be named. "He was too honest on his application. I also probably should say I don't know whether he was telling the truth or not." Once the school year was over, Tucker and Neil Patel hit the road on a cross-country motorcycle ride. After that: Washington DC.  Tucker's family left Southern California for Georgetown after President Reagan named his father head of Voice of America. In June 1991, President George H.W. Bush appointed Richard ambassador to the Seychelles and the Carlson family upgraded to a nicer house in Georgetown with a pool in the basement. That summer, with Tucker's father and stepmother often out of town, the Carlson household was the center of Tucker's social lives, the place they retired to after a night drinking at Georgetown college dive bars like Charing Cross and Third Edition, and pubs like Martin's Tavern and The Tombs, immortalized in St. Elmo's Fire. In August, Tucker and Susie got married in St. George's chapel and held a reception at the Clambake Club of Newport, overlooking the Narragansett Bay. Back in Washington, Tucker's prep school, college, and his father's Washington-based networks began to mesh. Tucker took a $14,000-a-year job as an assistant editor and fact checker of Policy Review, a quarterly journal published at the time by the Heritage Foundation, the nation's leading conservative think tank. For the next three decades, Tucker thrived in the Beltway: He joined The Weekly Standard and wrote for several magazines before appearing on cable news networks as a right-of-center analyst and host at CNN, PBS, and MSNBC. His father embarked on a third career as a television executive where he ran the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and his brother became a political operative and a pollster. By the time Tucker reached the core of the conservative media sphere, a slot on Fox News's primetime opinion lineup, he shed friends from his youth who couldn't grapple with the hard-right turn he veered once he became the face of the network.One friend was not surprised with Tucker's act. In the spring of 2016, during the heat of Donald Trump's presidential campaign against Hilary Clinton and a few months before "Tucker Carlson Tonight" premiered on Fox, Tucker had lunch with his old prep school classmate Richard Wayner who made the speech about Eleanor Bumpurs all those years ago. Wayner believed Tucker's gesture from his pew was never serious. "As a 9th or 10th grader in a chapel full of people in a conversation, he was trying to get attention," Wayner said.The two stayed in touch over the years and Tucker at one point suggested he write a handful of pieces for the Daily Caller, the conservative news and opinion site that Tucker co-founded and ran in the 2010s. As they settled into their table at a Midtown Manhattan steakhouse, the two chatted about Wayner's experience on the board of St. George's (which Susie was about to join) and their respective careers. Tucker was floating around at Fox, and Wayner, now an investor and former Goldman Sachs investment banker, said the conversation drifted toward salaries."He was asking, 'How much do you make on Wall Street' and was like, 'Wow, Wall Street guys make a lot.'" Wayner said. When they left the restaurant and headed back toward the Fox News headquarters, several people recognized Tucker on the street even though he had jettisoned his trademark bowtie years ago. Wayner saw Tucker making the pragmatic decision to follow a business model that has made his conservative media counterparts a lot of money."I don't think he has a mission. I don't think he has a plan," Wayner said. "Where he is right now is about as great as whatever he thought he could be.""Tucker knows better. He does. He can get some attention, money, or both." he added. "To me, that's a shame. Because he knows better." Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMay 5th, 2022

To Spy On A Trump Aide, The FBI Pursued A Dossier Rumor The Press Shot Down As "Bulls**t"

To Spy On A Trump Aide, The FBI Pursued A Dossier Rumor The Press Shot Down As 'Bulls**t' Authored by Paul Sperry via RealClear Investigations, The FBI decision to spy on a former Trump campaign adviser hinged on an unsubstantiated rumor from a Clinton campaign-paid dossier that the Washington Post's Moscow sources had quickly shot down as “bullshit” and “impossible,” according to emails disclosed last week to a D.C. court hearing the criminal case of a Clinton lawyer accused of lying to the FBI. AP Though the FBI presumably had access to better sources than the newspaper, agents did little to verify the rumor that Trump foreign policy adviser Carter Page had secretly met with sanctioned Kremlin officials in Moscow. Instead, the bureau pounced on the dossier report the day it received it, immediately plugging the rumor into an application under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to wiretap Page as a suspected Russian agent. The allegation, peddled to both the press and FBI in the summer of 2016 by Fusion GPS, an opposition research firm hired by Hillary Clinton’s campaign to dig up dirt on Trump during the presidential race, proved to be the linchpin in winning approval for the 2016 warrant, which was renewed three times in 2017 – even though the FBI learned there were serious holes in the story and had failed to independently corroborate it. The revelations of early media skepticism about the Trump-Russia narrative before journalists embraced it are included in a 62-page batch of emails between Fusion and prominent Beltway reporters released by Special Counsel John Durham, who is scouring the FBI’s investigation of the Trump campaign for evidence of abuse and criminal wrongdoing. The documents suggest that some journalists, as keen as they were to report dirt on Trump, were nevertheless more cautious than FBI investigators about embracing hearsay information served up by Clinton agents. (The FBI declined comment.) The new material also offers a look at the lengths to which those working on Clinton’s behalf went in order to seed the government with unverified rumors about Trump and Russia that amounted to a disinformation campaign. Among those targeted were powerful Democratic members of Congress, including House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, who proved to be a willing collaborator. Trump as 'Manchurian Candidate' The story of high-level Kremlin meetings didn’t ring true with some in the press, who checked with sources in Moscow and pushed back on Fusion GPS. But journalists’ interest in the story remained high during the campaign. In an interview, Page said he was flooded with calls during the summer of 2016 from Washington journalists, including veteran reporters from the Washington Post, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. He said Fusion had misled them into believing they were working on the story of their lifetimes – that a real-life “Manchurian candidate,” or Russian sleeper agent, was running for president. “Each news outlet kept calling me,” he said. “One by one.” Page said he strenuously denied the accusations. “It was B.S.,” he said. “I tried to warn them.” Peter Fritsch and Glenn Simpson of Fusion GPS: Journalists were skeptical, at least for a time. YouTube/NBC News As eager as journalists may have been to make Trump appear to be a Kremlin operative, some were skeptical about what Fusion was telling them about Page. Among those were now former Wall Street Journal foreign affairs correspondent Jay Solomon, who used “Manchurian candidate” in a July 2016 email exchange with Fusion, expressing his doubt. “Everyone wants shit on this,” insisted Fusion co-founder Peter Fritsch, a former Journal reporter himself, in an attempt to coax his old colleague Solomon into covering the story. Fritsch then outlined the rumors Fusion had just received from Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence officer his firm had hired to help tie Trump to Russia as part of its contract with the Clinton campaign. Those rumors, contained in a series of memos known as the Steele dossier, were shared with the FBI, including “Intelligence Report 94” dated July 19, 2016. It claimed that during a July 2016 trip to Moscow, Page attended a "secret meeting" with Putin crony Igor Sechin to discuss lifting Ukraine-related sanctions against Russia. The dossier also alleged that Page met with Kremlin official Igor Divyekin to share compromising information about Clinton with the Trump campaign. An 'Easy Scoop,' Said GPS “The easy scoop waiting for confirmation: that dude carter page met with igor sechin when he went to moscow earlier this month,” Fritsch stated in a July 26, 2016, email pitching the story to Solomon. "sechin discussed energy deals and possible lifting of sanctions on himself et al. he also met with a senior kremlin official called divyekin, who told page they have good kompromat on hillary and offered to help. he also warned page they have good kompromat on the donald.” (“Kompromat” is compromising information typically used in blackmail.) Added Fritsch, referring in part to the mass leak of Democratic emails by WikiLeaks before the 2016 Democratic National Convention in late July: “needless to say, a senior trump advisor meeting with a former kgb official close to putin, who is on a treasury sanctions list, days before the republican convention and a big russian-backed wikileak would be huge news.” Indeed it would be – if it were true. “Thanks for this,” Solomon said. “Will run down.” But later that day, Solomon reported back that “Page is neither confirming nor denying,” so Fritsch suggested he “call adam schiff or difi,” referring to the then-ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee. It is not clear what information Fritsch expected the two Democrats to provide. (Schiff would later read the same raw dossier rumors about Page into the congressional record during a public hearing about Trump’s alleged Russian ties.) Three days later, Fusion's attempts to plant their rumor in influential media outlets hit more resistance. Another Journal alumnus, Tom Hamburger, said he was “getting kick back” while trying to confirm the rumor for the Washington Post, where he worked on the paper’s national desk. “That Page met with Sechin or Ivanov. 'Its [sic] bullshit. Impossible,’ said one of our Moscow sources,” Hamburger reported back to Fusion co-founder Glenn Simpson, who also previously worked for the Journal. (The rumor included Sergei Ivanov, a top Putin aide.) The Post’s Moscow bureau chief at the time was David Filipov. Hamburger added that another reporter he knew “doesn’t like this story” and was passing on it. “No worries, I don’t expect lots of people to believe it,” Simpson replied. “It is, indeed, hard to believe.” As Fusion was pushing the rumors to reporters that July, its subcontractor Steele was pushing them to FBI agents, who received copies of his dossier earlier in the month. Steele also briefed a top Justice Department official, Bruce Ohr, on the Carter Page rumors on July 30 during a breakfast at the Mayflower Hotel in D.C., and asked Ohr to relay them to FBI brass. The next day, the FBI officially opened its Crossfire Hurricane investigation targeting Trump advisers – though the bureau says this decision was based on a tip it had received from an Australian diplomat. For his part, Hamburger still pursued the story, asking for documents on Page later that month; and Fusion recycled the false rumor in an internal report, separate from the Steele dossier, which it emailed to Hamburger and another Post reporter in September.  The report, which Fritsch claimed that “one of our [research] associates wrote,” went beyond even the dossier. It asserted that Page’s July 8 speech at the New Economic School in Moscow (where President Obama had also once spoken) was “concocted to give Page a public explanation for his trip to Moscow, which sources say included secret meetings with top Kremlin officials, where the American presidential campaign and U.S. sanctions against Russia were both discussed.” Fritsch did not say who the Fusion “sources” were. But around the same time, he and Simpson brought Steele to Washington to brief journalists from the Post, the New York Times, CNN, and Yahoo News on Page in a private room at the Tabard Inn, a hotel-bar long a favorite of Washington scribes. Fusion had finally found a media outlet to take the bait it had been chumming out to reporters for months. After meeting with Steele for about an hour, Yahoo News’ Michael Isikoff ran with the rumors in a September 23 online article, which the FBI then used to corroborate the dossier in its initial October 2016 FISA application, even though the supposed corroboration was redundant: Steele and his dossier were Isikoff’s source for the story. (Isikoff, who did not respond to requests for comment, would later write in a 2018 book he co-authored, “Russian Roulette,” that the rumors about Page were just “pillow talk.”) The Clinton campaign jumped on what it called Isikoff’s “bombshell report" and heavily promoted it on social media. Clinton campaign official Glen Caplin issued a statement republishing the Yahoo piece in full and proclaiming: "It's chilling to learn that U.S. intelligence officials are conducting a probe into suspected meetings between Trump's foreign policy adviser Carter Page and members of Putin's inner circle while in Moscow … [T]his report suggests Page met with a sanctioned top Russian official to discuss the possibility of ending U.S. sanctions against Russia under a Trump presidency – an action that could directly enrich both Trump and Page while undermining American interests.” Added Caplin: "This is serious business and voters deserve the facts before election day." But the media never reported the real facts behind the story – that it was all based on Clinton campaign opposition research – which allowed the rumors to survive without any real scrutiny for years. The Washington Post eventually stopped paying attention to the red flags surrounding the dossier. The newspaper seized on other rumors Fusion fed reporters from the Clinton-paid document. Hamburger, for one, later bit on a tip that the source for the most explosive allegations in the dossier was a Trump supporter with Kremlin ties. He reported in 2017 that Sergei Millian was behind the claim that Russian President Vladimir Putin had compromising sex tapes of Trump and that he and Trump were engaged in a “well-developed conspiracy” to steal the 2016 election. However, the Post had to retract his stories after Special Counsel John Durham last year disclosed that Millian was fabricated as a source. The prosecutor indicted Steele’s “primary subsource,” Igor Danchenko, for lying to the FBI when he told agents that Millian was a source for the dossier. Millian had nothing to do with the dossier, as RCI reported. Danchenko, who awaits trial, apparently made it all up. Hamburger did not respond to repeated requests for comment. 'Pushed It Over' the Line Carter Page, who is suing the former corporate parent of Yahoo News for defamation, suggested anti-Trump bias blinded the media to glaring problems with the dossier. But even more alarming, he said, is how FBI leaders, whose text messages reveal that they shared the media’s hatred for Trump, were even more reckless in gunning for him. Page said it’s outrageous that, at least initially, the press seemed to have “higher ethical standards” than FBI headquarters. On Sept. 19, 2016, the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane team formally received Steele’s dossier Report 94 alleging Page’s secret Kremlin meetings, according to Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz, who detailed the FBI’s handling of the rumors in a 2019 report. That same day, the team began discussions with department lawyers "to consider Steele's reporting as part of a FISA application targeting Carter Page.” In an email to attorneys, FBI Supervisory Intelligence Analyst Brian Auten forwarded an excerpt from Steele's report and asked, "Does this put us at least *that* much closer to a full FISA on [Carter Page]?” The FBI agent handling the case said the rumors from Steele "supplied missing information in terms of what Page may have been doing during his July 2016 visit to Moscow." The attorneys thought it was a "close call" when they first discussed a FISA targeting Page in early August, Horowitz relayed in his report, but the Steele reporting in September "pushed it over" the line in terms of establishing probable cause.  In the run-up to the FBI securing approval for the FISA request in late October 2016, the bureau tasked an undercover informant, Stefan Halper, to question Page about the alleged meetings with Kremlin officials. Halper struck out. In a conversation Halper recorded surreptitiously, Page not only denied huddling with Sechin and Divyekin but said he had never even heard of Divyekin. The FBI decided not to include these inconvenient facts in its FISA warrant application, an omission the Justice Department’s inspector general found striking. "The application did not contain these denials even though the application relied upon the allegations in Report 94 that Page had secret meetings with both Sechin and Divyekin,” the Horowitz report noted. It wasn’t the only exculpatory evidence the FBI left out of its FISA applications. It also omitted information it possessed showing that Page, who had once worked in Moscow as a Merrill Lynch investment banker, had earlier assisted the FBI in catching a Russian spy, as RealClearInvestigations first reported. The former Navy lieutenant also previously helped the CIA monitor Russia, something an FBI attorney deliberately hid from the FISA court. (The lawyer, Kevin Clinesmith, was recently convicted of charges related to his doctoring of a government email documenting Page’s role as a CIA source.) In early 2017, as the FBI was preparing to reapply for wiretaps on Page, Steele's primary subsource Danchenko told Auten and other FBI officials that he had made it clear to Steele that he had only heard a rumor that such clandestine meetings might take place but not that they actually occurred as Steele wrote in his dossier. The FBI nonetheless omitted from subsequent FISA renewal applications the revelation of Danchenko backing away from the critical piece of information supporting probable cause and admitting it was merely hearsay. In the end, “The FBI was unable to determine whether a meeting between Sechin and Page took place,” Horowitz wrote in his report. Page said it’s “chilling” that the nation’s most powerful police force could act so cavalierly, disregarding basic investigative procedures like verifying tips and rumors before obtaining wiretaps on a U.S. citizen. Worse, he said, is how the FBI misled the secret FISA court. In a 2020 review of the applications, the powerful court determined that at least two of the surveillance warrants were invalid and therefore illegal. Page is now suing both the FBI and Justice Department for $75 million for violating his constitutional rights. Tyler Durden Wed, 05/04/2022 - 21:40.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeMay 4th, 2022

Tyre Nichols" death has reignited the debate around police brutality. Here are 5 proven ways to reduce it - and 2 strategies that don"t work.

Tyre Nichols died after he was beaten by police at a traffic stop. Campaign Zero has previously revealed research-backed ways to curb such violence. Business InsiderProtesters rally as Philadelphia Police officers and Pennsylvania National Guard soldiers look on, June 1, 2020.AP Photo/Matt Slocum Tyre Nichols, 29, died after he was beaten by police at a traffic stop January 7. Campaign Zero, a police-reform initiative, suggested six ways to reduce police violence. Research has shown that the use of body cams and implicit-bias training don't work. Tyre Nichols' death has brought the debate around police violence back to the fore. Nichols, 29, was beaten by police and sent to the hospital in critical condition after a traffic stop January 7. Three days later, he died.Five fired police officers —  Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Justin Smith, and Desmond Mills Jr. — have been charged with his murder. It is the latest example of police killings of people of color which includes ex-Minneapolis policeman Derek Chauvin's murdering George Floyd on May 25, 2020, Louisville police officers shooting Breonna Taylor in her home on March 13, 2020.According to the Mapping Police Violence database, officer killed 1,123 Americans in 2022. Black people were 2.9 time more likely to be killed by police than white people.Several years ago, the police-reform initiative Campaign Zero weighed in with research-backed ways to curb police violence. Most, of which buck traditional thinking."Everything you've probably heard is a lie. Specifically, the most discussed 'solutions' to police violence have no evidence of effectiveness," Samuel Sinyangwe, a data scientist and the co-founder of a Campaign Zero tweeted in October, 2019.He added: "For example, body cams don't reduce police violence."Here are five proven, data-based changes that could make a difference, and two approaches that don't seem to work, according to Campaign Zero.An immense crowd of protesters occupies Fulton Street as protesters flooded the streets of Crown Heights in Brooklyn in 2020 to demonstrate against police brutality in the wake of George Floyd's death.Erik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty Images1. Eliminate language in police union contracts that limit officer accountabilityUnion contracts and police bills of rights have formalized policies that limit police accountability, per Campaign Zero. These contracts erect at least one barrier to proper oversight of law enforcement officers' misconduct.Such provisions include the disqualification of certain complaints from being investigated or resulting in discipline. They also place restrictions on officer interrogations, provide options for officers to appeal for reinstatement, and give officer access to privileged information during investigations.As of 2020, 40 cities and three states gave officers paid leave while they're under investigation. 43 cities and four states erased officers' misconduct records after a period of time, sometimes within as little as two years of an incident.A Washington Post investigation found that of the 1,881 US police officers who were fired for misconduct between 2006 and 2017, 451 of them won their jobs back after an appeal.In many of those cases, arbitrators overruled police chiefs on the terminations — not because there were doubts about whether the officers had engaged in misconduct, but because police departments made bureaucratic errors while disciplining officers, such as missing deadlines.Protesters gather in Minneapolis on June 1, 2020, at a memorial for George Floyd where he died after being restrained by police officers.AP Photo/John MinchilloExperts have recommended that police departments reform their processes for disciplinary appeals to ensure that officers who engage in misconduct are held fully accountable. That might entail eliminating arbitrators from the process and instead leaving the decision to democratically elected officials, such as city councils.2. Track complaints about officers' use of forceMost complaints against officers aren't public, making them hard to track.A 2019 study found that police officers who are partnered with officers who garner complaints about excessive force are more likely to receive such complaints themselves in the future.Researchers examined more than 8,600 Chicago police officers named in multiple complaints between 2005 and 2017. The analysis found that the more officers with histories of excessive force were in a group, the higher the risk that other officers in that group would develop similar track records.According to Andrew Papachristos, one of the study's co-authors, this link could help predict potential bad behavior by officers and give departments better information about when and how to intervene before violent incidents occur.Police prepare to disperse a group of protesters in Richmond, Virginia, on May 31, 2020.AP Photo/Steve HelberInstituting a means of tracking complaints against officers, and making that data public, could provide further oversight.Legislation that prohibits officers who are terminated for serious misconduct from being rehired could also make a difference.3. Use more non-police organizations to respond to emergency callsAccording to a 2015 report from the Treatment Advocacy Center, a nonprofit, at least one in every four people killed by police has a serious mental illness.Not all officers who respond to an emergency call involving a person with mental illness are trained in crisis management, which may result in mismanaging the situation that ends in police violence.Programs like Cahoots, which stands for Crisis Assistance Helping Out On The Street, in Eugene, Oregon, can work to alleviate those situations by responding to those calls in lieu of or alongside police officers.A program in Denver that sent mental-health professionals to answer 911 calls about substance abuse and nonviolent emergencies reduced low-level crimes by 34%, a 2022 study found. Leveraging crisis workers and mental health providers to respond to incidents involving substance abuse, mental health crises, and homelessness, for example, could work to minimize violence.In this April 23, 2020 photo, FDNY paramedic Alex Tull prepares to begin his shift outside EMS station 26, the "Tinhouse", in the Bronx borough of New York City.John Minchillo/AP4. Demilitarization is imperativeA common theme at protest scenes across the country has been police officers' use of military-grade equipment against unarmed civilians.That's largely thanks to a Pentagon program known as 1033, which allows the military to send surplus military equipment to police and sheriff's departments. The program has resulted in local law enforcement agencies being outfitted with armored vehicles, bayonets, and even grenade launchers.But research has shown that receiving more military equipment makes police departments more likely to use it. According to a 2017 study, researchers found that just having the equipment "leads to a culture of militarization" within police departments, causing them to "rely more on violence to solve problems."Former President Barack Obama limited in the program in 2015 and barred certain types of equipment from being sent to police departments.President Donald Trump reversed the action in 2017, and as of 2022 Democratic senators were urging President Joe Biden to rein it in again.Reinstating limits around which type of gear can and should be sold to local law enforcement agencies could help reduce police-inflicted violence and death.Vehicles for the District of Columbia National Guard are seen outside the D.C. Armory, June 1, 2020, in Washington DC.Jacquelyn Martin/AP5. More restrictive laws governing use of force"Use of force," according to the international association of chiefs of police, is the "amount of effort required by police to compel compliance by an unwilling subject."That could encompass everything from using a chokehold, mace, or Taser. Police departments that have more restrictive policies around what use-of-force methods are allowed are much less likely to kill people.After cities like Chicago and Los Angeles adopted more restrictive policies in 2017 and 2019, respectively, the number of police shootings dropped.Campaign Zero suggests departments ban chokeholds, and utilize deadly force as a last resort only after officers have tried and failed to use de-escalation — the strategic slowing down of an incident that allows officers more time, distance, and space to peacefully resolve conflict.These changes, along with requiring departments to report and publish online data on all uses of force, could reduce police violence.Hundreds of protesters took to the streets in San Francisco, California, to demonstrate against police brutality on May 31, 2020.Rob Price/Business Insider2 methods that don't work: implicit-bias trainings and body camerasImplicit-bias trainings have become one of the most popular reforms that police and sheriff's departments have implemented in recent years. The idea is that training officers to be more aware of their subconscious biases about class, gender, and race will help reduce conflicts with marginalized communities.Yet experts have grown skeptical over whether this training works. For one, there are few consistent standards and assessments for the trainings, and therefore it's difficult to track exactly how effective they are, The Atlantic reported.Instead, police-reform advocates have pushed for departments to prioritize de-escalation training, rather than implicit-bias training. Body cameras are another method that haven't been proven effective when it comes to excessive force instances.Though police departments across the country have adopted body cameras for officers — often in response to public pressure for transparency — studies have shown mixed results as to whether they actually reduce excessive-force incidents, and whether they lead to police being disciplined or prosecuted for misconduct.A review of 70 empirical studies on body-worn cameras found that they did not have statistically significant or consistent effects in reducing police use of force.Two motor officers, pose with Digital Ally First Vu HD body worn cameras on their chests outside the police department in Colorado Springs April 21, 2015.ReutersFurthermore, the footage appears to more frequently be used against citizens, not police officers. Research has shown that 93% of prosecutors' offices have used body cameras mostly in cases against citizens, not against police.Though it's unlikely that police departments will be giving up their use of body cameras anytime soon, organizations such as Campaign Zero have advocated for police departments to enforce stricter policies to prevent the cameras from being used to surveil marginalized communities.This article was updated to include the news of the killing of Tyre Nichols. Aylin Woodward contributed to the previous version of this article, originally published on June 3, 2020.  Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nyt1 hr. 37 min. ago

A 6th Memphis police officer was taken off the force over Tyre Nichols" death. But he"ll still be paid while his role is investigated.

Memphis Police Department Officer Preston Hemphill was "relieved of duty," a spokesman for the department confirmed on Monday. A portrait of Tyre Nichols is displayed at a memorial service for him on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2023 in Memphis, Tenn. Nichols was killed during a traffic stop with Memphis Police on Jan. 7.Adrian Sainz/AP Photo Officer Preston Hemphill has been placed on paid leave in connection to the fatal arrest of Tyre Nichols.  He is the sixth Memphis police officer to be taken off the force following Nichols' death.  Nichols died three days after a group of officers brutally beat him during a traffic stop on January 7.  An officer involved in the arrest of Tyre Nichols — a Black man who was severely beaten by police in Memphis, Tennessee, and later died — has been "relieved of duty," authorities said on Monday. Officer Preston Hemphill is now on paid administrative leave "pending the outcome of the investigation," a spokesman for the Memphis Police Department told Insider. Hemphill joined the Memphis Police Department in 2018. It was not immediately clear what role Hemphill played in the arrest of Nichols. Authorities say 29-year-old Nichols was brutally beaten by five now-fired Memphis Police Department police officers during a traffic stop for "reckless driving" on January 7.Nichols, a father, was hospitalized in critical condition and died three days later.The five other police officers — Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Justin Smith, and Desmond Mills Jr. — were fired and indicted last week on murder and other charges in connection to Nichols' death. Two firefighters who treated Nichols after the beating were also relieved from duty and the city said its actively reviewing if any additional charges will be filed against the firefighters. On Friday, officials released video of Nichols' arrest, which shows him being tased, pepper sprayed, and punched multiple times. Once in handcuffs, Nichols was observed slumping to the ground after the brutal beating. The officers involved in Nichols' arrest were members of the MPD's SCORPION unit, a specialized unit formed in 2021 to fight violent street crime. On Saturday, in the wake of protests against Nichols' death, the unit was disbanded. Prominent civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who is representing the family, said a private autopsy showed Nichols "suffered extensive bleeding caused by a severe beating, and that his observed injuries are consistent with what the family and attorneys witnessed on the video of his fatal encounter with police on January 7, 2023."Nichols' death has sparked outrage in Memphis and across the country. The city braced for violent demonstration after the release of the video of the arrest on Friday, but the protests remained largely peaceful. Protests in other cities also remained overwhelmingly peaceful. In New York and Los Angeles — where police stood guard in riot gear — there were some clashes.In New York, an NYPD cruiser windshield was smashed. The NYPD told Insider that police arrested three people at a protest near Union Square.In Los Angeles, protesters tore down a police barricade. A man reportedly tossed a lit firework at a police car.But the scenes were nothing like those after the murder of George Floyd in police custody, which set off protests that at times escalated into looting and arson.The Memphis Police Department said Sunday its cops hadn't arrested a single demonstrator.President Joe Biden released a statement on Nichols' death on Thursday, calling it "a painful reminder that we must do more to ensure that our criminal justice system lives up to the promise of fair and impartial justice, equal treatment, and dignity for all.""Public trust is the foundation of public safety and there are still too many places in America today where the bonds of trust are frayed or broken," Biden said in the statement. "We also cannot ignore the fact that fatal encounters with law enforcement have disparately impacted Black and Brown people."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: worldSource: nyt3 hr. 53 min. ago

The Memphis Police Department"s original report on Tyre Nichols death is full of discrepancies and outright omissions, newly released bodycam footage shows

The Memphis Police Department's original statement described the Tyre Nichols stop as a "confrontation." Bodycams showed the 5-on-1 struggle. The image from video released on Jan. 27, 2023, by the City of Memphis, shows police officers talking after a brutal attack on Tyre Nichols by five Memphis police officers on Jan. 7, 2023, in Memphis, Tenn. Nichols died on Jan. 10. The five officers have since been fired and charged with second-degree murder and other offenses.City of Memphis via AP On January 8, Memphis Police released a statement about a "confrontation" with a reckless driver. Tyre Nichols died of injuries from a "use-of-force incident" that occurred during the traffic stop. New bodycam video shows officers beating Nichols, which is omitted in the police version of events. On January 8, the Memphis Police Department released a statement describing a "confrontation" with an alleged reckless driver, later identified as Tyre Nichols. But bodycam footage of the incident, released Friday, revealed a different story of the brutal beating that left the 29-year-old dead."On January 7, 2023, at approximately 8:30pm, officers in the area of Raines Road and Ross Road attempted to make a traffic stop for reckless driving," The original Memphis Police Department statement read. "As officers approached the driver of the vehicle, a confrontation occurred, and the suspect fled the scene on foot."—Memphis Police Dept (@MEM_PoliceDept) January 8, 2023 The statement continued: "Officers pursued the suspect and again attempted to take the suspect into custody. While attempting to take the suspect into custody, another confrontation occurred; however, the suspect was ultimately apprehended. Afterward, the suspect complained of shortness of breath, at which time an ambulance was called to the scene. The suspect was transported to St. Francis Hospital in critical condition."Memphis Chief of Police Cerelyn Davis said on Thursday that the officers had no proof to pull Nichols over, and has called the video "heinous, reckless, and inhumane." "We've looked at cameras, we've looked at body-worn cameras, and even if something occurred prior to the stop, we've been unable to substantiate that at this time," Davis told CNN. "We have not been able to substantiate the reckless driving." Bodycam footage released by the City of Memphis on Friday revealed that the "confrontation" was actually a 5-against-1 takedown of Nichols that his lawyers described as officers beating the man like a "human pinata" while he cried out for his mother. Nichols died three days after the stop. Less than three weeks after the initial incident, five of the officers involved in the incident were charged with second-degree murder. Two Shelby County sheriff's deputies have also been placed on leave pending an investigation into their conduct, according to a statement from the Sheriff's Department released Friday.The Shelby Sheriff's Department did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment. The Memphis Police Department and Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, which is handling the investigation into the incident, did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment. Prior to the video's release, the Memphis police chief described the stop as "heinous" and "inhumane."The videos, released in four parts showing perspectives from different officers' bodycams, do not show any reckless driving on Nichols' part and begin with a tense scene of officers ordering him from the car.In one video, an officer can be heard ordering Nichols to "get the fuck out of the fucking car." After Nichols responds that he "didn't do anything," the officer pulls him out of the car and throws him to the ground."I'm gonna tase your ass," the officer can be heard saying.Nichols stands up and struggles with the officer before the officer deploys his Taser and misses Nichols. He then runs away.Another officer can be heard saying, "I hope they stomp his ass."In another bodycam video, Nichols can be seen repeatedly being stomped on and punched by officers as he cries out for his mother. Later in the footage, Nichols' cries become less coherent, his speech slurs, and he struggles to stand up. The Memphis Police Department's original statement makes no mention of the officer conduct that caused Nichols to be transported to the hospital, though a January 10 Tennessee Bureau of Investigation statement said he "succumbed to his injuries." —Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (@TBInvestigation) January 10, 2023 Legal experts told Insider the footage reveals a "breakdown" in police protocol and described the incident as "excessive.""There's no reason why five officers need to reduce themselves to closed-fist punching in order to subdue a suspect who does not appear to be violent in return, but at the very worst can be said to not be compliant with their orders," Joshua Ritter, a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney, former prosecutor, and partner with El Dabe Ritter Trial Lawyers, told Insider of the footage.Nationwide, anti-police-brutality protests have gathered steam as people react to the bodycam footage, prompting comparisons to the 2020 video of George Floyd's death, when officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on his neck for several minutes as Floyd cried that he couldn't breathe. Chauvin was sentenced to 22.5 years in prison for Floyd's murder.Instead of circulating the bodycam footage of Nichols' death, which experts say can do more harm than good, many activists are spreading videos of him skateboarding to remember him as someone who "lived in joy."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytJan 28th, 2023

A defense attorney for one of the Memphis cops charged with fatally beating Tyre Nichols said "no one" "intended" for him to die. Nichols" family isn"t buying that argument.

Antonio Romanucci, a lawyer for Tyre Nichols' family, said the officers' actions were "designed to harm" and called the murder charge "appropriate." Memphis police officers Demetrius Haley, Tadarrius Dean, Justin Smith, Emmitt Martin., and Desmond Mills Jr. are now facing murder charges.Memphis Police Department An attorney for one of the cops charged in Tyre Nichols' death said nobody "intended" for him to die.  But a lawyer for the victim's family told Insider the officer's actions were "designed to harm." Prosecutors say Nichols was brutally beaten by police in Memphis, Tennessee, earlier this month. A defense attorney for one of the five fired Memphis, Tennessee, police officers charged in the beating death of Tyre Nichols said the cops never "intended" for the young Black motorist to die.But a lawyer for Nichols' family said the officers' "actions were designed to kill." William Massey, an attorney for Emmitt Martin III told reporters on Thursday shortly after Martin and four other Memphis Police Department officers were indicted on second-degree murder charges that, "no one out there that night intended for Tyre Nichols to die. No one. No one.""I would just imagine police officers have a very difficult and dangerous job, and sometimes a thankless job. And it's probably one of their worst fears that something like this would happen on their watch," Massey said. But attorneys for Nichols' family, who have already viewed the police body-camera video, said it shows the five Black officers beating Nichols like a "human pinata" for three straight minutes.Nichols family lawyer Antonio Romanucci has said Nichols was "defenseless the entire time" and told Insider on Friday ahead of the video footage's release that "When you see the video, and you see the fact that they were taking free punches and free kicks at somebody who was restrained, they knew that their actions were designed to harm.""Whether or not they knew they were going to kill him, that's not the law," said Romanucci.According to Tennessee law, second-degree murder is defined in part as "a knowing killing of another."Attorney Blake Ballin, who is representing Desmond Mills Jr. in the case, said his client was "devastated" by the charges and "to be accused of something like this hurts him on another level.""He could not be more upset about this entire situation, again, somebody who has dedicated his life to protecting society, to protecting the community to be accused of being involved in the death of another is devastating to him," Ballin said. The defense lawyers said they have not yet seen police body-camera footage of Nichols' arrest, which is set to be released to the public on Friday evening.Authorities allege 29-year-old Nichols was severely beaten by Martin, Mills, Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, and Justin Smith during a traffic stop on January 7.Nichols, a father, was hospitalized in critical condition and died three days later. "Their actions were designed to harm, and [Nichols] died as a result of those actions that they took, which caused his injuries," Romanucci told Insider. "That's why second-degree murder is appropriate."Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn Davis has called the incident "heinous, reckless and inhumane," while Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Director David Rausch said he was "sickened" by what the "appalling" footage shows. Mills' attorney cautioned the public to "reserve judgment" once the footage is released. "Know that there is always more to the story," Ballin said, adding, "We will do our own investigation, we will gather information from the state that's not available to the public and when it's time to defend our clients, our side of things will come out."Ballin described his client Mills as "a gentle, respectful father" and "a family man.""He has put on a strong facade, but I know underneath it all this is causing his family a lot of anxiety and a lot of pain, not only for his own situation but for what this kind of accusation, this kind of incident is doing to our city," said Ballin. Defense lawyers for Martin and Mills said they each intend to plead not guilty in the case. All five former officers who have been charged posted their bonds of either $350,000 or $250,000 and were released from jail as of Friday afternoon, records show.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytJan 27th, 2023

RowVaughn Wells begs parents not to show kids video of her son Tyre Nichols being beaten by Memphis police

Attorney Ben Crump says the video shows Tyre Nichols calling out for his mother, RowVaughn Wells: "I mean he's screaming for her." RowVaughn Wells, mother of Tyre Nichols, who died after being beaten by Memphis police officers, calls out his name during a press conference.AP Photo/Gerald Herbert Tyre Nichols' mom pleaded with parents not to let kids see body-cam footage of her son's beating.  Nichols died in the hospital after an incident with five officers, who are now charged with murder. His mom said Friday that she hasn't seen the video but heard it's "very horrific, very horrific."  The mother of Tyre Nichols pleaded on Friday for parents not to let their children watch the "horrific" police body- camera footage showing the fatal beating of her son in Memphis, Tennessee.RowVaughn Wells said she has not viewed the video — which will be released to the public later Friday by Memphis officials — "But what I've heard is very horrific, very horrific and any of you who have children please don't let them see it.""No mother, no mother, no mother should go through what I am going through right now to lose their child to the violent way that I lost my child," Wells told a crowd gathered at the city's Mt. Olive Cathedral Christian Methodist Episcopal Church.Prosecutors say 29-year-old Nichols, who was Black, was severely beaten by five now-fired Memphis Police Department officers during a traffic stop on January 7. Nichols, a father, was hospitalized in critical condition and died three days later.Attorneys for the Nichols family who have seen the body camera video said it shows five Black officers beating Nichols like a "human pinata" for three straight minutes. A portrait of Tyre Nichols is displayed at a memorial service for him on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2023 in Memphis, Tenn. Nichols was killed during a traffic stop with Memphis Police on Jan. 7.Adrian Sainz/AP PhotoMemphis Police Chief Cerelyn Davis has called the incident "heinous, reckless and inhumane," while Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Director David Rausch said he was "sickened" by the "appalling" footage. Civil rights lawyer Ben Crump, who is representing the family, said Friday as he spoke alongside Wells that the footage shows Nichols "calling out" for his mother three times. "His last words on this Earth — 'Mom! Mom! Mom!' I mean he's screaming for her," Crump said. Wells added, "For a mother to know that a child was calling for them in their need, do you know how I feel right now because I wasn't there for my son?"Former officers Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Justin Smith, and Desmond Mills Jr. were indicted on Thursday on murder and other charges in connection to Nichols' death. Jail records show that all five officers have posted their bonds and were released as of Friday afternoon. Meanwhile, the Nichols' family urged the public for "peaceful" protests ahead of the release of the body camera footage.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytJan 27th, 2023

The timeline of Tyre Nichols" death, from being stopped by Memphis cops to officers being charged with his murder

Tyre Nichols died after a confrontation with Memphis police, sparking multiple investigations. Body cam video is due to be released on Friday. A portrait of Tyre Nichols on displayed at a memorial service for him on January 17, 2023 in Memphis, Tennessee.Adrian Sainz/AP Photo Tyre Nichols died after being brutally beaten by five Memphis police officers, city officials have said. The five police officers involved in the beating have been charged with second-degree murder. Here is a timeline of events as they unfolded. Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old Black man, died three days after he was stopped at a traffic stop and beaten by Memphis police officers.The Memphis Police Department have so far released few details about the incident, but were expected to release video footage of the arrest on Friday evening. Multiple officials warned that the footage is shocking and disturbing, and will likely lead to public protests.Five officers have been charged with Nichols' murder, and have since been released from jail on bond.Here's a timeline of the events, and what we know so far:January 7, around 8:30 p.m: Nichols is stopped, arrested, and beatenMemphis police officers tried to stop Nichols for "reckless driving" near the intersection between Raines Road and Ross Road, according to the department.A confrontation occurred as officers approached his vehicle and Nichols ran away, police said.There was another confrontation when officer tried to arrest him, according to the police.Nichols then said he was experiencing shortness of breath, and an ambulance was called, with Nichols brought to a hospital in "critical condition," according to the police statement.January 10: Nichols diesThe Tennessee Bureau of Investigation announced that Nichols had "succumbed to his injuries." It gave no official cause of death.Tyre Nichols, who died in a hospital on January 10, three days after sustaining injuries during his arrest by Memphis police officers, is seen in this undated picture obtained from social media.Facebook/Deandre Nichols/via REUTERSJanuary 15: Police announce first investigationsThe Memphis Police Department announced that it was starting its own administrative investigation, and said that the Tennessee Bureau of Investigations and the Shelby County District Attorney's Office were also starting an independent investigation into the use of force by Memphis police officers.January 18: DOJ and FBI announce another investigationKevin G. Ritz, the United States Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee, announced that the the United States Attorney's Office, working with the FBI and Department of Justice, has opened a civil rights investigation.January 20: Memphis Police says five officers firedMemphis police officers Demetrius Haley, Tadarrius Dean, Justin Smith, Emmitt Martin, and Desmond Mills Jr. are facing murder charges.Memphis Police DepartmentMemphis police said in a statement that five officers were fired, and that its investigation found the five men "violated multiple department policies, including excessive use of force, duty to intervene, and duty to render aid."It named the officers as Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr., and Justin Smith.January 23: Attorneys say beating lasted three minutes, with bodycam footage showing Nichols being used as a "human pinata"After Nichols' family and their lawyers viewed the body cam footage from his arrest, attorney Antonio Romanucci said that officers beat Nichols for three minutes.Rodney Wells, Nichols' stepfather, said that "no father, mother should have to witness what I saw today."Wells added that the footage showed Nichols repeatedly calling out for his mother, according to The Washington Post.Romanucci also said that Nichols was "defenseless the entire time.""He was a human pinata for those police officers," he said. "It was unadulterated, unabashed, non-stop beating of this young boy for three minutes."Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn Davis said the footage would be made public at an "appropriate time," when it would not interfere with investigations. Jan. 24: Family autopsy shows he suffered "extensive bleeding"Family attorneys Crump and Romanucci told Insider that their legal team had conducted an independent autopsy of Nichols' body."We can state that preliminary findings indicate Tyre suffered extensive bleeding caused by a severe beating, and that his observed injuries are consistent with what the family and attorneys witnessed on the video of his fatal encounter with police on January 7, 2023," they said.RowVaughn Wells, the mother of Tyre Nichols, cries as she is comforted by Tyre's stepfather Rodney Wells.Gerald Herbert/AP PhotoJanuary 25: Police chief calls the incident "heinous, reckless, and inhumane"Memphis Police Chief Cerelyn Davis condemned the incident, while pledging that her department would cooperate with all investigations.She said that she expects the release of the body cam footage to spark outrage and protests."This incident was heinous, reckless, and inhumane, and in the vein of transparency when the video is released in the coming days, you will see this for yourselves," she said in a statement released late on Wednesday."I expect you to feel what the Nichols family feels, I expect you to feel outrage in the disregard of basic human rights, as our police offers have taken an oath to do the opposite of what transpired on the video."January 26: Fired Memphis police officers charged with murderThe Tennessee Bureau of Investigation announced that the five officers would be charged with second-degree murder, aggravated assault, aggravated kidnapping with bodily injury, aggravated kidnapping in possession of a deadly weapon, official misconduct, and official oppression. All five were booked into jail, then quickly released after posting bond, according to Fox13Memphis.January 26: Biden says Nichols' death shows the justice system needs workPresident Joe Biden posted a message on Twitter saying he and First Lady Jill Biden "extend our hearts to the family of Tyre Nichols – they deserve a swift, full, and transparent investigation.""Tyre's death is a painful reminder that we must do more to ensure that our justice system lives up to the promise of fairness and dignity for all," Biden said.January 27: Police say they can't substantiate reckless driving claimDavis, the police chief, told CNN her department has not been able to substantiate allegations from the five officers that Nichols was driving recklessly, which was the purported cause of the traffic stop. Davis said investigators have pored over cameras at the scene of the traffic stop, as well as officers' body-worn cameras, and haven't found anything proving reckless driving."We've taken a pretty extensive look to determine what the probable cause was, and we have not been able to substantiate that," Davis said. "It doesn't mean that something didn't happen, but there's no proof."January 27: US cities brace for protests ahead of footage releaseMemphis and other major cities across the US were bracing for protests ahead of the scheduled release of the footage on Friday evening.Authorities in New York City; Washington, DC; San Francisco; and Atlanta all confirmed they had been anticipating protests and preparing their police departments.At a press conference on Friday, members of Nichols' family urged protesters to remain peaceful. Nichols' stepfather, Rodney Wells, told reporters he was "very satisfied" with the swift consequences for the five officers involved, which included second-degree murder charges."More importantly, we want peace, we do not want an uproar," he said. January 27: Memphis officials announce an investigation into the SCORPION Unit the 5 officers were serving onPolice Chief Cerelyn Davis announced a review of the Street Crimes Operation to Restore Peace in Our Neighborhoods unit, which was first launched in late 2021. All five officers involved in Nichols' beating were assigned to the unit.The SCORPION unit is a specialized force comprising roughly 50 officers patrolling known hotspots for crime throughout the city, often focusing on seizing weapons and investigating gangs. In its first three months, the unit made over 300 arrests and seized 95 weapons, according to local NBC affiliate WMC.Attorneys representing Nichols' family criticized the SCORPION Unit on Friday, calling for its dissolution. Civil rights attorney Ben Crump said he has since learned of several excessive force allegations against SCORPION Unit officers, including a man who said one of the officers threatened him at gunpoint just days before the Nichols beating."We are asking chief Davis to disband the SCORPION Unit, effective immediately," Nicholas family attorney Antonio Romanucci said Friday. "The intent of the SCORPION Unit has now been corrupted. It cannot be brought back to center with any sense of morality and dignity."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytJan 27th, 2023

Rodney King"s daughter calls Tyre Nichols" police beating death "sickening" 32 years after her father"s assault

Decades after Rodney King's police beating was recorded, his daughter says the only difference is footage of Tyre Nichols' encounter is less grainy. A portrait of Tyre Nichols is displayed at a memorial service for him on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2023 in Memphis, Tenn. Nichols was killed during a traffic stop with Memphis Police on Jan. 7.Adrian Sainz/AP Photo Rodney King's daughter is sickened by beating of Tyre Nichols in Memphis. Nearly 32 years after her fathers' beating, she can't comprehend how police brutality continues. Lora King says the race of the 5 officers involved in Nichols' beating is irrelevant.  When Lora King — Rodney King's oldest daughter — first came across news of the police killing of Tyre Nichols in Memphis, she was so sickened she had to take a break from reading.Now 38, King was only 7 in March 1991 when her father was kicked, stunned, and punched by four white Los Angeles Police officers in the San Fernando Valley.The beating — which her dad survived — was caught on video. It was one of the earliest cases in which a civilian's recording of police brutality led to protests. "It's very, very sickening. This is nothing you can explain to children," King told Insider on Wednesday, a day after Nichols' autopsy report was released. Tyre Nichols, 29, was sent to the hospital in critical condition after a January 7 traffic stop and died three days later. On Monday, law enforcement officials allowed Nichols' family and their lawyers to privately view body-camera footage of Nichols' arrest.After seeing the footage, which is has not yet been released to the public, attorney Antonio Romanucci said at a Wednesday press conference that Nichols was "defenseless the entire time" while the five police officers, all of whom were also Black, beat him just 80 yards from his home.Civil rights attorney Ben Crump said Nichols was shocked, pepper sprayed, and restrained during the encounter. In a statement Tuesday, Crump said an autopsy commissioned by the Nichols family shows he "suffered extensive bleeding caused by a severe beating, and that his observed injuries are consistent with what the family and attorneys witnessed on the video of his fatal encounter with police on January 7, 2023."The Memphis Police Department said last week that it had fired the five officers — Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Justin Smith, and Desmond Mills Jr. — after an administrative investigation into Nichols' death. Two firefighters who were on scene were also relieved from duty, Reuters reported.In the wake of the killing, attorneys for the Nichols family compared his beating to that of King's. Lora King, who is the executive director of the Rodney King Foundation, told Insider she doesn't understand why it would take five officers to restrain Nichols, who was only 150 pounds. "I just can't wrap my head around it," she said. "People like him and my father shouldn't be crying out for their life."King called it "unfortunate" that the officers involved in Tyre's death were Black but said that, "Even if they were green, it doesn't matter."There is no justification for killing another person during a police encounter, she said: "I would say that if they were white, I would say that if they were Asian, if the police were any other nationality."Rodney KingAP Images"Hashtags and clearer videos"Lora King said she wishes that 32 years after her father's infamous beating the world would have progressed beyond unjustified police killings of Black men.There are many social issues King is passionate about — such as homelessness — but society can't fully address them because police brutality remains a problem all these years later, she said."I was 7 years old when my father was beaten and it's definitely affected my whole entire life," she said. "The only difference between now and then is hashtags and clearer videos." King has a 16-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son.Her daughter, who has researched and written school papers about her grandfather, only knew him as the "foodie" who would come over and do arts and crafts with her before he died in 2012.When she saw his death covered on Oprah, that changed. As for her 3-year-old, he's still too young to understand the concept of police brutality, and King gets anxious thinking about having to one day explain it — and his family's legacy — to him. More worrisome, though, is the thought that he may experience police brutality first-hand, she said. "It's sad that my dad has to be the poster boy for this entire movement," she said, but she's glad his beating wasn't in vein. "It's sad that another family has to go through this forever," she said. "When you think of a legacy of a person, in my dad's case, a big part of him was murdered that day."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJan 25th, 2023

20 lottery winners who lost it all — as millions vie for Mega Millions" second-largest jackpot

The Mega Millions jackpot soared to $1.35 million this week. But for some past lottery winners, life became worse after snagging the win. A lottery ticket vending machine offers Mega Millions tickets for sale on January 09, 2023 in Chicago, Illinois.Scott Olson/Getty Images While it may be tempting, buying a lottery ticket is almost certainly not worth it. And even if it does pan out, winning the lottery does not solve all of life's problems. History has countless examples of winners whose lives took a turn for the worse after hitting the jackpot. The Mega Millions jackpot grew to an estimated $1.35 billion — the second largest in history — after no winner claimed the prize in Tuesday night's drawing. But for some previous lottery winners, snagging the jackpot didn't change their lives for the better.YouTube/ABCLara and Roger Griffiths bought their dream home … and then life fell apart.The Daily MailBefore they won a $2.76 million lottery jackpot in 2005, Lara and Roger Griffiths, of England, reportedly never argued.Then they won and bought a million-dollar barn-converted house and a Porsche, not to mention luxurious trips to Dubai, Monaco, and New York City.Media stories say their fortune ended in 2010 when a freak fire gutted their house, which was underinsured, forcing them to shell out for repairs and seven months of temporary accommodations.Shortly after, there were claims that Roger drove away in the Porsche after Lara confronted him over emails suggesting that he was interested in another woman. That ended their 14-year marriage.Bud Post lost $16.2 million within a nightmarish year — and his own brother allegedly put out a hit on him.seksan Mongkhonkhamsao/Getty ImagesWilliam "Bud" Post won $16.2 million in the Pennsylvania lottery in 1988, but he was $1 million in debt within a year."I wish it never happened," Post said. "It was totally a nightmare."A former girlfriend successfully sued him for a third of his winnings, and his brother was arrested for allegedly hiring a hit man to kill him in the hopes he'd inherit a share of the winnings.After sinking money into family businesses, Post sank into debt and spent time in jail for firing a gun over the head of a bill collector."I was much happier when I was broke," he said, according to The Washington Post.Bud lived quietly on $450 a month and food stamps until his death in 2006.Martyn and Kay Tott won a $5 million jackpot, but lost the ticket.REUTERS/Mike SegarMartyn Tott, 33, and his 24-year-old wife Kay, from the UK, missed out on a $5 million lottery fortune after losing their ticket.A seven-week investigation by Camelot Group, the company that runs the UK's national lottery, convinced officials their claim to the winning ticket was legitimate. But since there is a 30-day time limit on reporting lost tickets, the company was not required to pay up, and the jackpot became the largest unclaimed amount since the lottery began in 1994."Thinking you're going to have all that money is really liberating. Having it taken away has the opposite effect," Kay Tott told The Daily Mail. "It drains the life from you and puts a terrible strain on your marriage. It was the cruelest torture imaginable."Sharon Tirabassi won $10 million, but eventually returned to her old life.IBN/screenshotIn 2004, Sharon Tirabassi, a single mother who had been on welfare, cashed a check from the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. for more than $10 million Canadian dollars.She spent her winnings on a "big house, fancy cars, designer clothes, lavish parties, exotic trips, handouts to family, loans to friends," and in less than a decade she was back "riding the bus, working part-time, and living in a rented house.""All of that other stuff was fun in the beginning, now it's like, back to life," she told The Hamilton Spectator.Luckily, Tirabassi put some of her windfall in trusts for her six children, who would be able to claim the money when they turned 26.Evelyn Adams gambled it all away in Atlantic City.Atlantic City's boardwalk, featuring the Bally's casino.Photo by Getty ImagesAgainst all odds, Adams won the lottery twice, once in 1985 and again in 1986.The New Jersey native won $5.4 million, but AskMen.com reports that she gambled it away in Atlantic City.Adams also told The New York Times in 1993 that the publicity she received led to a bombardment of requests for financial assistance."I was known," she said, "and I couldn't go anywhere without being recognized."Tonda Lynn Dickerson was forced to pay gift tax.General view outside of Waffle House on March 26, 2020 in Phoenix, Arizona.Christian Petersen/Getty ImagesTonda Lynn Dickerson, a former Waffle House waitress, got served a big plate of karma when she reportedly refused to split her winnings with colleagues and was forced to pay the taxman $1,119,347.90.How did it happen? Dickerson placed her winnings in a corporation and granted her family 51% of the stock, qualifying her for the tax.Gerald Muswagon ended up feeling sorry for partying.Hisham Ibrahim/Getty ImagesIn 1998, Gerald Muswagon won the $10 million Super 7 jackpot in Canada.But he couldn't handle the instant fame that came with winning the grand prize, according to Canada's Globe and Mail."He bought several new vehicles for himself and friends, purchased a house that turned into a nightly 'party pad' and often celebrated his new lifestyle with copious amounts of drugs and alcohol," The Globe and Mail reported. "In a single day, he bought eight big-screen televisions for friends."Muswagon also poured money into a logging business that failed because of low sales.He was eventually forced to take a job doing heavy lifting on a friend's farm just to make ends meet, according to The Globe and Mail. According to media reports, Muswagon hanged himself in his parents' garage in 2005.Suzanne Mullins couldn't dig herself out of debt.Bank officer calculates loansSeksan Mongkhonkhamsao/Getty ImagesSuzanne Mullins won $4.2 million in the Virginia lotto in 1993.She split the yearly payments three ways with her husband and daughter, leaving Mullins with about $47,000 a year. She quickly found herself in debt — her lawyer said she shelled out $1 million for her uninsured son-in-law's medical bills."It's been a hard road," Mullins' lawyer Michael Hart told the Associated Press in 2004. "It's not been jet plane trips to the Bahamas."She used future payouts to take out a $200,000 loan with a company that served a specific market — lottery winners who need their money faster.Mullins later switched to a lump-sum payout, but never paid back the debt. The loan company filed suit and won a $154,000 settlement that was all but worthless. Mullins had no assets.Americo Lopes quit his job, lied about winning, and then got sued.AP Images Construction worker Americo Lopes won the New Jersey lottery, quit his job, and lied about it, claiming that he needed foot surgery, according to reports from The New York Times.After coming clean to a former coworker, he and a few others ganged up on Lopes for not splitting the winnings as promised. In a fraud suit, the coworkers claimed they had all pitched in for the winning ticket.The court ordered Lopes to split the prize.Ibi Roncaioli was murdered by her husband after she squandered her winnings.Tim Boyle/Getty ImagesOntario resident Ibi Roncaioli walked away with $5 million in a 1991 Lotto/649 drawing, but she didn't tell her husband how she decided to spend it.When Joseph Roncaioli, a gynecologist, found out Ibi gave $2 million of her fortune to a secret child she'd had with another man, he poisoned her with painkillers, according to reports from the Toronto Star.He was convicted on manslaughter charges and reportedly asked Ibi's family to help foot the bill for her funeral.Michael Carroll lived in the fast lane and blew it all.Screenshot/YouTubeMichael Carroll was just 19 when he won Britain's £9.7 million ($15 million) jackpot in 2002, the Daily Mail reports.But according to media reports from the time, an alleged penchant for crack, parties, prostitutes, and cars put him back at square one in five years.Last we heard, the former garbageman was hoping to get his old job back.Andrew Jackson Whittaker Jr. was undone by robberies and a casino lawsuit.Screenshot/YouTubeIn 2002, West Virginia building contractor Andrew Jackson Whittaker Jr. walked away with $114 million, after taxes, on a $315 million multistate Powerball draw.That was just about his last stroke of good fortune.Thieves ran off with $545,000 that Whittaker had stashed in his car in 2003. And he lost $200,000 the same way a year later. He was also sued by Caesar's Atlantic City, which said Whittaker had bounced $1.5 million in checks.Within four years, his fortune was reportedly gone.Billy Bob Harrell Jr. had his prayers answered, but his luck ran out after he couldn't say no.Mary Meisenzahl/InsiderA Pentecostal preacher working as a stock boy at Home Depot got his prayers answered when he hit the $31 million Texas jackpot in 1997.At first life was good, with Billy Bob reportedly quitting his job, traveling to Hawaii, and buying a ranch, six other homes, and new cars. He donated 480 turkeys to the poor, according to Time.But like many others who win the lottery, he just couldn't say no when people asked for a handout. He also ran into financial trouble with a company that gave lottery winners lump sums in exchange for their annual checks, but it left him with far less than what he'd won.Media reports from the time say he eventually divorced and died by suicide. Shortly before his death, he told a financial adviser that "winning the lottery is the worst thing that ever happened to me."Willie Hurt's addiction did him in.A drug addict, not Hurt, lights an improvised crack pipe.YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP via Getty ImagesIn 1989, Willie won a $3.1 million jackpot in the Michigan Lottery.Two years later, Hurt was divorced, lost custody of his children, and was charged with attempted murder — and according to media reports, picked up a crack-cocaine addiction.Stories from the time say the habit sucked away his entire fortune.Denise Rossi didn't disclose the jackpot in her divorce filing.Reuters/Mark Blinch When Denise Rossi won $1.3 million in the California lotto, she kept the news to herself and abruptly demanded a divorce from her husband Thomas without a word, according to The Los Angeles Times.Thomas was shocked but agreed to divorce her anyway. During the proceedings, Denise continued to keep her good fortune a secret.Two years later, Thomas intercepted a letter at his new Los Angeles home revealing the truth.He sued Denise for not disclosing her winnings in the divorce, and the judge awarded Thomas every cent.Even Denise's lawyer admitted to People that Denise could have kept half her winnings if she had been honest with her then husband. "Her failure to disclose was a fraud," the lawyer said.Meanwhile, Thomas Rossi is enjoying his $48,000-a-year payouts."If it wasn't for the lotto, Denise and I would probably still be together. Things worked out for the best," he said.Janite Lee spent it all on charity and political donations.A Patriotic skimmer hat sits full of bundles of $100 billsGetty ImagesAfter winning an $18 million lottery jackpot in 1993, Janite Lee saw her winnings gone within a decade.The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Lee, a wigmaker from South Korea, blew it on charity.A reading room was named after her at Washington University's law school, and she was a major donor for the Democratic Party.But her giving hand, coupled with a little gambling and a lot of credit-card debt, reportedly did her in. She filed for bankruptcy in 2001.Luke Pittard wound up flipping burgers at McDonald's.Daniel Goodman / Business InsiderWelsh-born Luke Pittard won a £1.3 million jackpot ($1.9 million) in 2006, but spent almost all of it on a trip to the Canary Islands, a wedding, and a house.A year and a half later, Pittard was forced to return to his job at McDonald's."They all think I'm a bit mad but I tell them there's more to life than money," Pittard told the Telegraph in 2008. "I loved working at McDonald's before I became a millionaire and I'm really enjoying being back there again."Rhoda and Alex Toth both landed in court for tax evasion.Wikimedia CommonsAlex and Rhoda Toth hit the $13 million jackpot in Florida in 1990. Within 15 years, they were destitute.According to the Tampa Bay Times, the couple spent heavily on a three-month trip to Las Vegas, which included stays in a $1,000-a-night penthouse suite at the Mirage. Back home, they bought 10 acres of land.The two were eventually accused of tax evasion by the IRS after it was discovered they filed for bankruptcy protections and falsely reported gambling losses. At the time of their indictment, they were said to owe the IRS $2.5 million.Alex died before his case went to trial; Rhoda served two years in prison.Vivian Nicholson was a clotheshorse who couldn't stop shopping.Vivian Nicholson is not pictured.Spencer Platt / Getty ImagesDaily Mail UK reports that Vivian Nicholson got a taste of the good life when her husband Keith won a fortune — £152,300 — in Britain's football pools in 1961.She famously promised the media she would "spend, spend, spend" following the windfall — and she kept her word.The couple blew much of Keith's winnings on haute couture, sports cars, and a new home, their extravagant lifestyle becoming the stuff of headlines. When Keith died in 1965, Vivian was hit with a huge tax bill and declared bankruptcy.She struggled with alcohol and depression before her death in 2011 — two years after a West End musical celebrated her life in the play "Spend, Spend, Spend."Teen mom Callie Rogers was too young to spend her money wisely.iStockCallie Rogers was just 16 when she won £1.9 million (about $3 million) in the UK's lottery in 2003, and she was too young to know how to manage her money or where it would lead her, according to Gawker.After briefly vowing to manage her winnings responsibly, Rogers made quick work of her fortune. She reportedly spent millions on vacations, clothing, cars, breast implants, and (according to British tabloid The Sun) more than $300,000 on cocaine.She also reportedly spent more than a quarter of a million dollars on a bungalow and house for her mother.Rogers eventually became a mom of three, and has said on the record she's teaching them to be careful with money."I'm glad they'll grow up knowing the value of money," she told The Sun."I was too young to win the lottery. It nearly broke me, but thankfully, I'm now stronger than ever."Editor's Note: This is an updated version of an story including reporting from Pamela Engel, Mandi Woodruff, and Michael B. Kelley.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJan 11th, 2023

An Age Of Decay

An Age Of Decay Authored by Chris Buskirk via AmGreatness.com, This essay is adapted from "America and the Art of the Possible: Restoring National Vitality in an Age of Decay," by Chris Buskirk (Encounter, 192 pages, $28.99) The fact that American living standards have broadly stagnated, and for some segments of the population have declined, should be cause for real concern to the ruling class... America ran out of frontier when we hit the Pacific Ocean. And that changed things. Alaska and Hawaii were too far away to figure in most people’s aspirations, so for decades, it was the West Coast states and especially California that represented dreams and possibilities in the national imagination. The American dream reached its apotheosis in California. After World War II, the state became our collective tomorrow. But today, it looks more like a future that the rest of the country should avoid—a place where a few coastal enclaves have grown fabulously wealthy while everyone else falls further and further behind. After World War II, California led the way on every front. The population was growing quickly as people moved to the state in search of opportunity and young families had children. The economy was vibrant and diverse. Southern California benefited from the presence of defense contractors. San Diego was a Navy town, and demobilized GIs returning from the Pacific Front decided to stay and put down roots. Between 1950 and 1960, the population of the Los Angeles metropolitan area swelled from 4,046,000 to 6,530,000. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory was inaugurated in the 1930s by researchers at the California Institute of Technology. One of the founders, Jack Parsons, became a prominent member of an occult sect in the late 1940s based in Pasadena that practiced “Thelemic Magick” in ceremonies called the “Babalon Working.” L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology (1950), was an associate of Parsons and rented rooms in his home. The counterculture, or rather, countercultures, had deep roots in the state. Youth culture was born in California, arising out of a combination of rapid growth, the Baby Boom, the general absence of extended families, plentiful sunshine, the car culture, and the space afforded by newly built suburbs where teenagers could be relatively free from adult supervision. Tom Wolfe memorably described this era in his 1963 essay “The Kandy-Colored Tangerine Flake Streamline, Baby.” The student protest movement began in California too. In 1960, hundreds of protesters, many from the University of California at Berkeley, sought to disrupt a hearing of the House Un-American Activities Committee at the San Francisco City Hall. The police turned fire hoses on the crowd and arrested over thirty students. The Baby Boomers may have inherited the protest movement, but they didn’t create it. Its founders were part of the Silent Generation. Clark Kerr, the president of the UC system who earned a reputation for giving student protesters what they wanted, was from the Greatest Generation. Something in California, and in America, had already changed. California was a sea of ferment during the 1960s—a turbulent brew of contrasting trends, as Tom O’Neill described it:  The state was the epicenter of the summer of love, but it had also seen the ascent of Reagan and Nixon. It had seen the Watts riots, the birth of the antiwar movement, and the Altamont concert disaster, the Free Speech movement and the Hells Angels. Here, defense contractors, Cold Warriors, and nascent tech companies lived just down the road from hippie communes, love-ins, and surf shops. Hollywood was the entertainment capital of the world, producing a vision of peace and prosperity that it sold to interior America—and to the world as the beau ideal of the American experiment. It was a prosperous life centered around the nuclear family living in a single-family home in the burgeoning suburbs. Doris Day became America’s sweetheart through a series of romantic comedies, but the turbulence in her own life foreshadowed America’s turn from vitality to decay. She was married three times, and her first husband either embezzled or mismanaged her substantial fortune. Her son, Terry Melcher, was closely associated with Charles Manson and the Family, along with Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys—avatars of the California lifestyle that epitomized the American dream.  The Manson Family spent the summer of 1968 living and partying with Wilson in his Malibu mansion. The Cielo Drive home in the Hollywood Hills where Sharon Tate and four others were murdered in August 1969 had been Melcher’s home and the site of parties that Manson attended. The connections between Doris Day’s son, the Beach Boys, and the Manson Family have a darkly prophetic valence in retrospect. They were young, good-looking, and carefree. But behind the clean-cut image of wholesome American youth was a desperate decadence fueled by titanic drug abuse, sexual outrages that were absurd even by the standards of Hollywood in the 60s, and self-destructiveness clothed in the language of pseudo-spirituality. The California culture of the 1960s now looks like a fin-de-siècle blow-off top. The promise, fulfillment, and destruction of the American dream appears distilled in the Golden State, like an epic tragedy played out against a sunny landscape where the frontier ended. Around 1970, America entered into an age of decay, and California was in the vanguard.   H. Abernathy/ClassicStock/Getty Images Up, Up, and Away The expectation of constant progress is deeply ingrained in our understanding of the world, and of America in particular. Some metrics do generally keep rising: gross domestic product mostly goes up, and so does the stock market. According to those barometers, things must be headed mostly in the right direction. Sure there are temporary setbacks—the economy has recessions, the stock market has corrections—but the long-term trajectory is upward. Are those metrics telling us that the country is growing more prosperous? Are they signals, or noise? There is much that GDP and the stock market don’t tell us about, such as public and private debt levels, wage trends, and wealth concentration. In fact, during a half-century in which reported GDP grew consistently and the stock market reached the stratosphere, real wages have crept up very slowly, and living standards have flatlined or even declined for the middle and working classes. Many Americans have a feeling that things aren’t going in the right direction or that the country has lost its societal health and vigor, but aren’t sure how to describe or measure the problem. We need broader metrics of national prosperity and vitality, including measures of noneconomic values like family stability or social trust. There are many different criteria for national vitality. First, is the country guarded against foreign aggression and at peace with itself? Are people secure in their homes, free from government harassment, and safe from violent crime? Is prosperity broadly shared? Can the average person get a good job, buy a house, and support a family without doing anything extraordinary? Are families growing? Are people generally healthy, and is life span increasing or at least not decreasing? Is social trust high? Do people have a sense of unity in a common destiny and purpose? Is there a high capacity for collective action? Are people happy? We can sort quantifiable metrics of vitality into three main categories: social, economic, and political. There is a spiritual element too, which for my purposes falls under the social category. The social factors that can readily be measured include things like age at first marriage (an indicator of optimism about the future), median adult stature (is it rising or declining?), life expectancy, and prevalence of disease. Economic measures include real wage trends, wealth concentration, and social mobility. Political metrics relate to polarization and acts of political violence.  Many of these tend to move together over long periods of time. It’s easy to look at an individual metric and miss the forest for the trees, not seeing how it’s one manifestation of a larger problem in a dynamic system. Solutions proposed to deal with one concern may cause unexpected new problems in another part of the system. It’s a society-wide game of whack-a-mole. What’s needed is a more comprehensive understanding of structural trends and what lies behind them. From the founding period in America until about 1830, those factors were generally improving. Life expectancy and median height were increasing, both indicating a society that was mostly at peace and had plentiful food. Real wages roughly tripled during this period as labor supply growth was slow. There was some political violence. But for decades after independence, the country was largely at peace and citizens were secure in their homes. There was an overarching sense of shared purpose in building a new nation.  Those indicators of vitality are no longer trending upward. Let’s start with life expectancy. There is a general impression that up until the last century, people died very young. There’s an element of truth to this: we are now less susceptible to death from infectious disease, especially in early childhood, than were our ancestors before the 20th century. Childhood mortality rates were appalling in the past, but burying a young child is now a rare tragedy. This is a very real form of progress, resulting from more reliable food supplies as a result of improvements in agriculture, better sanitation in cities, and medical advances, particularly the antibiotics and certain vaccines introduced in the first half of the 20th century. A period of rapid progress was then followed by a long period of slow, expensive improvement at the margins. When you factor out childhood mortality, life spans have not grown by much in the past century or two. A study in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine says that in mid-Victorian England, life expectancy at age five was 75 for men and 73 for women. In 2016, according to the Social Security Administration, the American male life expectancy at age five was 71.53 (which means living to age 76.53). Once you’ve made it to five years, your life expectancy is not much different from your great-grandfather’s. Moreover, Pliny tells us that Cicero’s wife, Terentia, lived to 103. Eleanor of Aquitaine, queen of both France and England at different times in the 12th century, died a week shy of her 82nd birthday. A study of 298 famous men born before 100 B.C. who were not murdered, killed in battle, or died by suicide found that their average age at death was 71. More striking is that people who live completely outside of modern civilization without Western medicine today have life expectancies roughly comparable to our own. Daniel Lieberman, a biological anthropologist at Harvard, notes that “foragers who survive the precarious first few years of infancy are most likely to live to be 68 to 78 years old.”  In some ways, they are healthier in old age than the average American, with lower incidences of inflammatory diseases like diabetes and atherosclerosis. It should be no surprise that an active life spent outside in the sun, eating wild game and foraged plants, produces good health. Recent research shows that not only are we not living longer, we are less healthy and less mobile during the last decades of our lives than our great-grandfathers were. This points to a decline in overall health. We have new drugs to treat Type I diabetes, but there is more Type I diabetes than in the past. We have new treatments for cancer, but there is more cancer. Something has gone very wrong. What’s more, between 2014 and 2017, median American life expectancy declined every year. In 2017 it was 78.6 years, then it decreased again between 2018 and 2020 to 76.87. The figure for 2020 includes COVID deaths, of course, but the trend was already heading downward for several years, mostly from deaths of despair: diseases associated with chronic alcoholism, drug overdoses, and suicide. The reasons for the increase in deaths of despair are complex, but a major contributing factor is economic: people without good prospects over an extended period of time are more prone to self-destructive behavior. This decline is in contrast to the experience of peer countries. In addition to life expectancy, other upward trends have stalled or reversed in the past few decades. Family formation has slowed. The total fertility rate has dropped to well below replacement level. Real wages have stagnated. Debt levels have soared. Social mobility has stalled and income inequality has grown. Material conditions for most people have improved little except in narrow parts of life such as entertainment. Spencer Platt/Getty Images Trends, Aggregate, and Individuals  The last several decades have been a story of losing ground for much of middle America, away from a handful of wealthy cities on the coasts. The optimistic story that’s been told is that both income and wealth have been rising. That’s true in the aggregate, but when those numbers are broken down the picture is one of a rising gap between a small group of winners and a larger group of losers. Real wages have remained essentially flat over the past 50 years, and the growth in national wealth has been heavily concentrated at the top. The chart below represents the share of national income that went to the top 10 percent of earners in the United States. In 1970 it was 33.3 percent; in 2019 the figure was 45.4 percent. Disparities in wealth have become more closely tied to educational attainment. Between 1989 and 2019, household wealth grew the most for those with the highest level of education. For households with a graduate degree, the increase was 31 percent; with a college degree, it was 17 percent; with a high school degree, about 4 percent. Meanwhile, household wealth declined by a precipitous 60 percent for high school dropouts, including those with a GED. In 1989, households with a college degree had 2.74 times the wealth of those with only a high school diploma; in 2012 it was 3.08 times as much. In 1989, households with a graduate degree had 4.85 times the wealth of the high school group; in 2019, it was 6.12 times as much. The gap between the graduate degree group and the college group increased by 12 percent. The high school group’s wealth grew about 4 percent from 1989 to 2019, the college group’s wealth grew about 17 percent, and the wealth of the graduate degree group increased 31 percent. The gaps between the groups are growing in real dollars. It’s true that people have some control over the level of education they attain, but college has become costlier, and it’s fundamentally unnecessary for many jobs, so the growing wealth disparity by education is a worrying trend. Wealth is relative: if your wealth grew by 4 percent while that of another group increased by 17 percent, then you are poorer. What’s more crucial, however, is purchasing power. If the costs of middle-class staples like healthcare, housing, and college tuition are climbing sharply while wages stagnate, then living standards will decline. More problematic than growing wealth disparity in itself is diminishing economic mobility. A big part of the American story from the beginning has been that children tend to end up better off than their parents were. By most measures, that hasn’t been true for decades. The chart below compares the birth cohorts of 1940 and 1980 in terms of earning more than parents did. The horizontal axis indicates the relative income level of the parents. Among the older generation, over 90 percent earned more than their parents, except for those whose parents were at the very high end of the income scale. Among the younger generation, the percentages were much lower, and also more variable. For those whose parents had a median income, only about 40 percent would do better. In this analysis, low growth and high inequality both suppress mobility. Over time, declining economic mobility becomes an intergenerational problem, as younger people fall behind the preceding generation in wealth accumulation. The graph below illustrates the proportion of the national wealth held by successive generations at the same stage of life, with the horizontal axis indicating the median age for the group. Baby Boomers (birth years 1946–1964) owned a much larger percentage of the national wealth than the two succeeding generations at every point. At a median age of 45, for example, the Boomers owned approximately 40 percent of the national wealth. At the same median age, Generation X (1965–1980) owned about 15 percent. The Boomer generation was 15–18 percent larger than Gen X and it had 2.67 times as much of the national wealth. The Millennial generation (1981–1996) is bigger than Gen X though a little smaller than the Boomers, and it has owned about half of what Gen X did at the same median age. Those are some measurable indicators of the nation’s vitality, and they tell us that something is going wrong. A key reason for stagnant wages, declining mobility, and growing disparities of wealth is that economic growth overall has been sluggish since around 1970. And the main reason for slower growth is that the long-term growth in productivity that created so much wealth for America and the world over the prior two centuries slowed down. Wealth and the New Frontier There are other ways to increase the overall national wealth. One is by acquiring new resources, which has been done in various ways: through territorial conquest, or the incorporation of unsettled frontier lands, or the discovery of valuable resources already in a nation’s territory, such as petroleum reserves in recent history. Getting an advantageous trade agreement can also be a way of increasing resources.  Through much of American history, the frontier was a great source of new wealth. The vast supply of mostly free land, along with the other resources it held, was not just an economic boon; it also shaped American culture and politics in ways that were distinct from the long-settled countries of Europe where the frontier had been closed for centuries and all the land was owned space.  But there can be a downside to becoming overly dependent on any one resource. Aside from gaining new resources, real economic growth comes from either population growth or productivity growth. Population growth can add to the national wealth, but it can also put strain on supplies of essential resources. What elevates living standards broadly is productivity growth, making more out of available resources. A farmer who tills his fields with a steel plough pulled by a horse can cultivate more land than a farmer doing it by hand. It allows him to produce more food that can be consumed by a bigger family, or the surplus can be sold or traded for other goods. A farmer driving a plough with an engine and reaping with a mechanical combine can produce even more.  But productivity growth is driven by innovation. In the example above, there is a progression from farming by hand with a simple tool, to the use of metal tools and animal power, to the use of complicated machinery, each of which greatly increases the amount of food produced per farmer. This illustrates the basic truth that technology is a means of reducing scarcity and generating surpluses of essential goods, so labor and resources can be put toward other purposes, and the whole population will be better off. Total factor productivity (TFP) refers to economic output relative to the size of all primary inputs, namely labor and capital. Over time, a nation’s economic output tends to grow faster than its labor force and capital stock. This might owe to better labor skills or capital management, but it is primarily the result of new technology. In economics, productivity growth is used as a proxy for the application of innovation. If productivity is rising, it is understood to mean that applied science is working to reduce scarcity. The countries that lead in technological innovation naturally reap the benefits first and most broadly, and therefore have the highest living standards. Developing countries eventually get the technology too, and then enjoy the benefits in what is called catch-up growth. For example, China first began its national electrification program in the 1950s, when electricity was nearly ubiquitous in the United States. The project took a few decades to complete, and China saw rapid growth as wide access to electric power increased productivity. The United States still leads the way in innovation—though now with more competition than at any time since World War II. But the development of productivity-enhancing new technologies has been slower over the past few decades than in any comparable span of time since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in the early 18th century. The obvious advances in a few specific areas, particularly digital technology, are exceptions that prove the rule. The social technologies of recent years facilitate consumption rather than production.As a result, growth in total factor productivity has been slow for a long time. According to a report from Rabobank, “TFP growth deteriorated from an average annual growth of 1.1% over the period 1969–2010 to 0.4% in 2010 to 2018.”  In The Great Stagnation, Tyler Cowen suggested that the conventional productivity measures may be misleading. For example, he noted that productivity growth through 2000–2004 averaged 3.8 percent, a very high figure and an outlier relative to most of the last half-century. Surely some of that growth was real owing to the growth of the internet at the time, but it also coincided with robust growth in the financial sector, which ended very badly in 2008.  “What we measured as value creation actually may have been value destruction, namely too many homes and too much financial innovation of the wrong kind.” Then, productivity shot up by over 5 percent in 2009–2010, but Cohen found that it was mostly the result of firms firing the least productive people. That may have been good business, but it’s not the same as productivity rising because innovation is reducing scarcity and thus leading to better living standards. Over the long term, when productivity growth slows or stalls, overall economic growth is sluggish. Median real wage growth is slow. For most people, living standards don’t just stagnate but decline. Spencer Platt/Getty Images You Owe Me Money As productivity growth has slowed, the economy has become more financialized, which means that resources are increasingly channeled into means of extracting wealth from the productive economy instead of producing goods and services. Peter Thiel said that a simple way to understand financialization is that it represents the increasing influence of companies whose main business or source of value is producing little pieces of paper that essentially say, you owe me money. Wall Street and the companies that make up the financial sector have never been larger or more powerful. Since the early 1970s, financial firms’ share of all corporate earnings has roughly doubled to nearly 25 percent. As a share of real GDP, it grew from 13–15 percent in the early 1970s to nearly 22 percent in 2020.  The profits of financial firms have grown faster than their share of the economy over the past half-century. The examples are everywhere. Many companies that were built to produce real-world, nondigital goods and services have become stealth finance companies, too. General Electric, the manufacturing giant founded by Thomas Edison, transformed itself into a black box of finance businesses, dragging itself down as a result. The total market value of major airlines like American, United, and Delta is less than the value of their loyalty programs, in which people get miles by flying and by spending with airline-branded credit cards. In 2020, American Airlines’ loyalty program was valued at $18–$30 billion while the market capitalization of the entire company was $14 billion. This suggests that the actual airline business—flying people from one place to another—is valuable only insofar as it gets people to participate in a loyalty program. The main result of financialization is best explained by the “Cantillon effect,” which means that money creation, over a long period of time, redistributes wealth upward to the already rich. This effect was first described in the 18th century by Richard Cantillon after he observed the results of introducing a paper money system. He noted that the first people to receive the new money saw their incomes rise, while the last to receive it saw a decline in their purchasing power because of consumer price inflation. The first to receive newly created money are banks and other financial institutions. They are called “Cantillon insiders,” a term coined by Nick Szabo, and they get the most benefit. But all owners of assets—including stocks, real estate, even a home—are enriched to some extent by the Cantillon effect. Those who own a lot of assets benefit the most, and financial assets tend to increase in value faster than other types, but all gain value. This is a version of the Matthew Principle, taken from Jesus’ Parable of the Sower: to those who have, more will be given. The more assets you own, the faster your wealth will increase. Meanwhile, the people without assets fall behind as asset prices rise faster than incomes. Inflation hawks have long worried that America’s decades-long policy of running large government deficits combined with easy money from the Fed will lead to runaway inflation that beggars average Americans. This was seen clearly in 2022 after the massive increase in dollars created by the Fed in 2020 and 2021.  Even so, they’ve mostly been looking for inflation in the wrong place. It’s true that the prices of many raw materials, such as lumber and corn, have soared recently, followed by much more broad-based inflation in everything from food to rent, but inflation in the form of asset price bubbles has been with us for much longer. Those bubbles pop and prices drop, but the next bubble raises them even higher. Asset price inflation benefits asset owners, but not the people with few or no assets, like young people just starting out and finding themselves unable to afford to buy a home. The Cantillon effect has been one of the main vectors of increased wealth concentration over the last 40 years. One way that the large banks use their insider status is by getting short-term loans from the Federal Reserve and lending the money back to the government by buying longer-term treasuries at a slightly higher interest rate and locking in a profit.  Their position in the economy essentially guarantees them profits, and their size and political influence protect them from losses. We’ve seen the pattern of private profits and public losses clearly in the savings and loan crisis of the 1980s, and in the financial crisis of 2008. Banks and speculators made a lot of money in the years leading up to the crisis, and when the losses on their bad loans came due, they got bailouts. Moral Hazard The Cantillon economy creates moral hazard in that large companies, especially financial institutions, can privatize profits and socialize losses. Insiders, and shareholders more broadly, can reap massive gains when the bets they make with the company’s capital pay off. When the bets go bad, the company gets bailed out. Alan Krueger, the chief economist at theTreasury Department in the Obama Administration, explained years later why banks and not homeowners were rescued from the fallout of the mortgage crisis: “It would have been extremely unfair, and created problems down the road to bail out homeowners who were irresponsible and took on homes they couldn’t afford.” Krueger glossed over the fact that the banks had used predatory and deceptive practices to initiate risky loans, and when they lost hundreds of billions of dollars—or trillions by some estimates—they were bailed out while homeowners were kicked out. That callous indifference alienates and radicalizes the forgotten men and women who have been losing ground. Most people know about the big bailouts in 2008, but the system that joins private profit with socialized losses regularly creates incentives for sloppiness and corruption. The greed sometimes takes ridiculous forms. But once that culture takes over, it poisons everything it touches. Starting in 2002, for example, Wells Fargo began a scam in which it paid employees to open more than 3.5 million unauthorized checking accounts, savings accounts, and credit cards for retail customers. By exaggerating growth in the number of active retail accounts, the bank could give investors a false picture of the health of its retail business. It also charged those customers monthly service fees, which contributed to the bottom line and bolstered the numbers in quarterly earnings reports to Wall Street. Bigger profits led to higher stock prices, enriching senior executives whose compensation packages included large options grants.  John Stumpf, the company’s CEO from 2007 to 2016, was forced to resign and disgorge around $40 million in repayments to Wells Fargo and fines to the federal government. Bloomberg estimates that he retained more than $100 million. Wells Fargo paid a $3 billion fine, which amounted to less than two months’ profit, as the bank’s annual profits averaged around $19.7 billion from 2017 to 2019. And this was for a scam that lasted nearly 15 years. What is perhaps most absurd and despicable about this scheme is that Wells Fargo was conducting it during and even after the credit bubble, when the bank received billions of dollars in bailouts from the government. The alliance between the largest corporations and the state leads to corrupt and abusive practices. This is one of the second-order effects of the Cantillon economy. Another effect is that managers respond to short-term financial incentives in a way that undermines the long-term vitality of their own company. An excessive focus on quarterly earnings is sometimes referred to as short-termism. Senior managers, especially at the C-suite level of public companies, are largely compensated with stock options, so they have a strong incentive to see the stock rise. In principle, a rising stock price should reflect a healthy, growing, profitable company. But managers figured out how to game the system: with the Fed keeping long-term rates low, corporations can borrow money at a much lower rate than the expected return in the stock market. Many companies have taken on long-term debt to finance stock repurchases, which helps inflate the stock price. This practice is one reason that corporate debt has soared since 1980. The Cantillon effect distorts resource allocation, incentivizing rent-seeking in the financial industry and rewarding nonfinancial companies for becoming stealth financial firms. Profits are quicker and easier in finance than in other industries. As a result, many smart, ambitious people go to Wall Street instead of trying to invent useful products or seeking a new source of abundant power—endeavors that don’t have as much assurance of a payoff. How different might America be if the incentives were structured to reward the people who put their brain power and energy into those sorts of projects rather than into quantitative trading algorithms and financial derivatives of home mortgages. While the financial industry does well, the manufacturing sector lags. Because of COVID-19, Americans discovered that the United States has very limited capacity to make the personal protective equipment that was in such urgent demand in 2020. We do not manufacture any of the most widely prescribed antibiotics, or drugs for heart disease or diabetes, nor any of the chemical precursors required to make them. A close look at other vital industries reveals the same penury. The rare earth minerals necessary for batteries and electronic screens mostly come from China because we have intentionally shuttered domestic sources or failed to develop them. We’re dependent on Taiwan for the computer chips that go into everything from phones to cars to appliances, and broken supply chains in 2021 led to widespread shortages. The list of necessities we import because we have exported our manufacturing base goes on. Financialization of the economy amplifies the resource curse that has come with dollar supremacy. Richard Cantillon described a similar effect when he observed what happened to Spain and Portugal when they acquired large amounts of silver and gold from the New World. The new wealth raised prices, but it went largely into purchasing imported goods, which ruined the manufactures of the state and led to general impoverishment. In America today, a fiat currency that serves as the world’s reserve is the resource curse that erodes the manufacturing base while the financial sector flourishes. Since the dollar’s value was formally dissociated from gold in 1976, it now rests on American economic prosperity, political stability, and military supremacy. If these advantages diminish relative to competitors, so will the value of the dollar. Dollar supremacy has also encouraged a debt-based economy. Federal debt as a share of GDP has risen from around 38 percent in 1970 to nearly 140 percent in 2020. Corporate debt has had peaks and troughs over those decades, but each new peak is higher than the last. In the 1970s, total nonfinancial corporate debt in the United States ranged between 30 and 35 percent of GDP. It peaked at about 43 percent in 1990, then at 45 percent with the dot-com bubble in 2001, then at slightly higher with the housing bubble in 2008, and now it’s approximately 47 percent. As asset prices have climbed faster than wages, consumer debt has soared from 43.2 percent of GDP in 1970 to over 75 percent in 2020.  Student loan debt has soared even faster in recent years: in 2003, it totaled $240 billion—basically a rounding error—but by 2020, the sum had ballooned to six times as large, at $1.68 trillion, which amounts to around 8 percent of GDP. Increases in aggregate debt throughout society are a predictable result of the Cantillon effect in a financialized economy. The Rise of the Two-Income Family The Cantillon effect generates big gains for those closest to the money spigot, and especially those at the top of the financial industry, while the people furthest away fall behind. Average families find it more difficult to buy a home and maintain a middle-class life. In 90 percent of U.S. counties today, the median-priced single-family home is unaffordable on the median wage. One of the ways that families try to make ends meet is with the promiscuous use of credit. It’s one of the reasons that personal and household debt levels have risen across the board. People borrow money to cover the gap between expectations and reality, hoping that economic growth will soon pull them out of debt. But for many, it’s a trap they can never escape. Another way that families have tried to keep up is by adding a second income. In 2018, over 60 percent of families were two-income households, up from about 30 percent in 1970. This change is not a result of a simple desire to do wage work outside the home or of “increased opportunities,” as we are often told. The reason is that it now takes two incomes to support the needs of a middle-class family, whereas 50 years ago, it required only one. As more people entered the labor market, the value of labor declined, setting up a vicious cycle in which a second income came to be more necessary. China’s entry into the World Trade Organization in 2001 put more downward pressure on the value of labor. When people laud the fact that we have so many more two-income families—generally meaning more women working outside the home—as evidence that there are so many great opportunities, what they’re really doing is retconning something usually done out of economic necessity. Needing twice as much labor to get the same result is the opposite of what happens when productivity growth is robust. It also means that the raising of children is increasingly outsourced. That’s not an improvement. Another response to stagnant wages is to delay family formation and have fewer children. In 1960, the median age of a first marriage was about 20.5 years. In 2010, it was approximately 27, and in 2020 it was an all-time high of over 29.18  At the same time, the total fertility rate of American women was dropping: from 3.65 in 1960 down to 2.1, a little below replacement level, in the early 1970s. Currently, it hovers around 1.8. Some people may look on this approvingly, worried as they are about overpopulation and the impact of humans on the environment. But when people choose to have few or no children, it is usually not a political choice. That doesn’t mean it is simply a “revealed preference,” a lower desire for a family and children, rather than a reflection of personal challenges or how people view their prospects for the future. Surely it’s no coincidence that the shrinking of families has happened at the same time that real wages have stagnated or grown very slowly, while the costs of housing, health care, and higher education have soared. The fact that American living standards have broadly stagnated, and for some segments of the population have declined, should be cause for real concern to the ruling class. Americans expect economic mobility and a chance for prosperity. Without it, many will believe that the government has failed to deliver on its promises. The Chinese Communist Party is regarded as legitimate by the Chinese people because it has presided over a large, broad, multigenerational rise in living standards. If stagnation or decline in the United States is not addressed effectively, it will threaten the legitimacy of the governing institutions.  But instead of meeting the challenge head-on, America’s political and business leaders have pursued policies and strategies that exacerbate the problem. Woke policies in academia, government, and big business have created a stultifying environment that is openly hostile to heterodox views. Witness the response to views on COVID that contradicted official opinion. And all this happens against a backdrop of destructive fiscal and monetary policies. Low growth and low mobility tend to increase political instability when the legitimacy of the political order is predicated upon opportunity and egalitarianism. One source of national unity has been the understanding that every individual has an equal right to pursue happiness, that a dignified life is well within reach of the average person, and that the possibility of rising higher is open to all. When too many people feel they cannot rise, and when even the basics of a middle-class life are difficult to secure, disappointment can breed a sense of injustice that leads to social and political conflict. At first, that conflict acts as a drag on what American society can accomplish. Left unchecked, it will consume energy and resources that could otherwise be put into more productive activities. Thwarted personal aspirations are often channeled into politics and zero-sum factional conflict. The rise of identity politics represents a redirection of the frustrations born of broken dreams. But identity politics further divides us into hostile camps. We’ve already seen increased social unrest lately, and more is likely to follow. High levels of social and political conflict are dangerous for a country that hopes to maintain a popular form of government. Not so long ago, we could find unity in civic rituals and were encouraged to be proud of our country. Now our history is denigrated in schools and by other sensemaking institutions, leading to cultural dysphoria, social atomization, and alienation. In exchange, you can choose your pronouns, which doesn’t seem like such a great trade. Just as important as regaining broad-based material prosperity and rising standards of living—perhaps more important—is unifying the nation around a common understanding of who we Americans are and why we’re here. Tyler Durden Sat, 01/07/2023 - 23:30.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeJan 8th, 2023

January 6: A Day That Will Live In Alchemy

January 6: A Day That Will Live In Alchemy Authored by Julie Kelly via AmGreatness.com, A few weeks before Christmas, federal authorities arrested a Washington state couple for their participation in the Capitol protest on January 6, 2021. The FBI investigated Scott and Holly Christensen for more than 14 months; agents interrogated coworkers, scoured social media accounts, reviewed hours of security video from inside the Capitol building and body cam footage from law enforcement, and issued a search warrant to confirm the couple’s whereabouts that day.  “According to records obtained through legal process served on AT&T, cellphones associated with [the Christensens] were identified as having utilized a cell site consistent with providing service to a geographic area that included the interior of the United States Capitol building, on January 6, 2021, from 2:43 EST to 3:51 EST. AT&T records confirm that both devices belong to Scott CHRISTENSEN of Puyallup, Washington,” an unidentified agent on the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force wrote in a November 2022 criminal complaint. So, what exactly did these alleged “domestic terrorists” do? They entered the Capitol through open doors as police officers stood by. Carrying no weapons, the couple took photos inside the Rotunda and wandered through some hallways; surveillance video shows Holly Christensen talking to a Capitol police officer. At another point, Scott Christensen chatted with a D.C. Metro police officer, a conversation captured on a body-worn camera. Police led the pair toward an exit door about 45 minutes later without arresting them. For that uneventful jaunt through a public building that posed a threat to no one, the Christensens will now be destroyed by the Department of Justice, the federal court system, and the news media. Although both were charged with nonviolent misdemeanors—the same four offenses that represent the overwhelming majority of charges—journalists dishonestly portrayed the couple as traitors to their country. “Washington state couple to face Jan. 6 insurrection charges,” an Associated Press headline blared on December 12. Which, of course, is music to the ears of the Biden regime. Two years after the events of January 6, the Justice Department is preparing to accelerate its retaliatory, destructive manhunt for Trump supporters. More than 950 people have been arrested and charged so far, a figure expected to at least double by the time the dust settles. Last year, U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Matthew Graves, the Biden appointee handling every January 6 case, hinted the total number of defendants could reach 2,000. The newly-appointed head of the FBI’s Washington, D.C. field office warned this week the agency’s work on January 6 cases will continue for “months and years to come.” Attorney General Merrick Garland released a statement to commemorate the second anniversary of the “attack on the Capitol” with a similar sentiment. “Our work is far from over,” Garland said, boasting how the prosecution “continues to move forward at an unprecedented speed and scale.” And why shouldn’t it? After all, 18 GOP senators voted to pass the $1.7 trillion omnibus bill last month, which included a $3.5 billion raise for the Justice Department, millions of which will be spent on hiring more government lawyers to prosecute January 6 cases. The FBI won a $570 million boost, bringing the bureau’s total annual budget to more than $11 billion. Nothing like feeding the wolves eating your herd. Joe Biden continues to fixate on January 6 in an attempt to brand Trump supporters, or any American who does not blindly embrace the Dear Leader, as “insurrectionists” and “terrorists” endangering the safety of the country. To honor the second anniversary of January 6, Biden will make remarks and hand out Presidential Citizens Medals to individuals who gave televised performances before the January 6 select committee. The family of Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick will receive a posthumous medal for “[losing] his life protecting our representatives.” Biden, who has difficulty telling the truth about the circumstances of his own son’s death, shamelessly perpetuates the falsehood that Sicknick and several other police officers died as a result of January 6. (In his statement, Garland claimed five police officers died.) Of course, January 6 propagandists have to lie about what happened to justify comparisons to Pearl Harbor, the Oklahoma City bombing, and 9/11. Their hope is to rally support around the new war on terror, one taking direct aim at Americans on the Right. If Trump supporters are truly America’s version of ISIS, as the regime and the news media insist, then no amount of funding is too much and no criminal prosecution is too excessive to defeat the sworn enemy. Any dissent is unpatriotic. It’s a feat of political sorcery—fueled by lies, cover-ups, and careerism, not entirely unlike the first war on terror—to transform an unruly, four-hour protest into an act of domestic terror. American families such as the Christensens are merely collateral damage along the way. Tyler Durden Fri, 01/06/2023 - 16:20.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytJan 6th, 2023

Another Putin critic dies after falling out a window

Pavel Antov died Sunday after falling from a hotel window in India, making him the second critic of President Vladimir Putin to die this way in 2022. Russian President Vladimir Putin.Contributor/Getty Images A second critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin has died this year after falling from a window. Pavel Antov, 65, died Sunday at a hotel in India just days after celebrating his 65th birthday. A June WhatsApp message linked to Antov's account was seen as critical of Putin's war in Ukraine. A second critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin died Sunday after falling out of a window, the Russian media outlet TASS reported.According to reports, Pavel Antov fell from a hotel window in Rayagada, India, just days after celebrating his 65th birthday. He was visiting the state of Odisha in eastern India.Antov was the chair of the committee on agrarian policy, nature management, and ecology of the Legislative Assembly of the Vladimir Region and was well-known in the area, according to TASS. "Our colleague, a successful entrepreneur, philanthropist Pavel Antov passed away," Vyacheslav Kartukhin, the vice speaker of the regional parliament, said on his Telegram channel, TASS reported. "On behalf of the deputies of the United Russia faction, I express my deep condolences to relatives and friends."The speaker of the legislative assembly, Vladimir Kiselyov, called Antov's death a "difficult and irreparable loss" in a statement on the website of the regional parliament, TASS reported.Antov was a known critic of Putin, the BBC reported. The BBC reported that a since deleted June WhatsApp message linked to Antov's account — and shared after a Russian missile strike in Kyiv, Ukraine, killed a man and left his wife and 7-year-old daughter wounded — was seen as critical of Putin's war in Ukraine. "It's extremely difficult to call all this anything but terror," the WhatsApp message said.Antov quickly deflected on social media, insisting he was a supporter of the war and Putin, adding that the message came from a war critic with whom he did not agree and it was all a misunderstanding, the BBC reported. He is the second Putin critic to die after falling from a window this year. In September, the Russian energy oligarch Ravil Maganov, 67, died after falling from a hospital window, Insider reported at the time.The 67-year-old oil tycoon died after his oil company, Lukoil, released a statement expressing "deepest concerns" about the war in Ukraine.  A Russian traveling with Antov died Friday at the same hotel in India, The BBC reported. The BBC reported Vivekanand Sharma, the Odisha police superintendent, said the man, Vladimir Budanov, died of a stroke. Sharma added that Antov "was depressed after his death and he too died."Alexei Idamkin, the Russian consul in Kolkata, told TASS that police did not see a "criminal element in these tragic events," The BBC reported. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderDec 27th, 2022

Another Putin critic dies after falling out of a window

Pavel Antov died Sunday after falling from a hotel window in India, making him the second critic of President Vladimir Putin to die this way in 2022. Russian President Vladimir Putin.Contributor/Getty Images A second Vladimir Putin critic has died this year after falling from a window.  Pavel Antov, 65, died Sunday at a hotel in India just days after celebrating his 65th birthday. A June WhatsApp message linked to Antov's account was seen as critical of Putin's war in Ukraine.  A second critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin died Sunday after falling out of a window, the Russian media outlet TASS reported.According to reports, Pavel Antov fell from a hotel window in Rayagada, India, just days after celebrating his 65th birthday. He was visiting the state of Odisha in eastern India.Antov was the chair of the committee on agrarian policy, nature management, and ecology of the Legislative Assembly of the Vladimir Region and was well-known in the area, according to TASS. "Our colleague, a successful entrepreneur, philanthropist Pavel Antov passed away," Vyacheslav Kartukhin, the vice speaker of the regional parliament, said on his Telegram channel, TASS reported. "On behalf of the deputies of the United Russia faction, I express my deep condolences to relatives and friends."The speaker of the legislative assembly, Vladimir Kiselyov, called Antov's death a "difficult and irreparable loss" in a statement on the website of the regional parliament, TASS reported.Antov was a known critic of Putin, the BBC reported. The BBC reported that a since deleted June WhatsApp message linked to Antov's account — and shared after a Russian missile strike in Kyiv, Ukraine, killed a man and left his wife and 7-year-old daughter wounded — was seen as critical of Putin's war in Ukraine. "It's extremely difficult to call all this anything but terror," the WhatsApp message said.Antov quickly deflected on social media, insisting he was a supporter of the war and Putin, adding that the message came from a war critic with whom he did not agree and it was all a misunderstanding, the BBC reported. He is the second Putin critic to die after falling from a window this year. In September, the Russian energy oligarch Ravil Maganov, 67, died after falling from a hospital window, Insider reported at the time.The 67-year-old oil tycoon died after his oil company, Lukoil, released a statement expressing "deepest concerns" about the war in Ukraine.  A Russian traveling with Antov died Friday at the same hotel in India, The BBC reported. The BBC reported Vivekanand Sharma, the Odisha police superintendent, said the man, Vladimir Budanov, died of a stroke. Sharma added that Antov "was depressed after his death and he too died."Alexei Idamkin, the Russian consul in Kolkata, told TASS that police did not see a "criminal element in these tragic events," The BBC reported. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderDec 27th, 2022

Here’s a list of Putin critics who"ve ended up dead

People who criticise Putin have, in a number of cases, ended up dead. Vladimir Putin stands with a gun at a shooting gallery of the new GRU military intelligence headquarters building as he visits it in Moscow November 8, 2006.Reuters Individuals linked to Putin's government have died in violent or mysterious circumstances. Putin, a former lieutenant colonel of the KGB and ex-head of the FSB, has been suspected of assassinating critics.  Here's a list of people who have been critical of Putin and the Russian president is suspected of assassinating:  Pavel AntovRussian tycoon reportedly fell from a hotel window in Rayagada, India, on December 25 days after his 65th birthday. The politician and millionaire criticized Putin's war with Ukraine following a missile attack in Kyiv earlier this year on WhatsApp but quickly deleted the message and claimed that someone else wrote it, the BBC reported."Our colleague, a successful entrepreneur, philanthropist Pavel Antov passed away," Vice Speaker of the Regional Parliament Vyacheslav Kartukhin said on his Telegram channel, Russian media outlet TASS reported. "On behalf of the deputies of the United Russia faction, I express my deep condolences to relatives and friends."Mikhail LesinRussian press minister Mikhail Lesin was found dead of "blunt force trauma to the head" in a Washington, DC, hotel room in November 2015.Lesin, who founded the English-language television network Russia Today (RT),  was considering making a deal with the FBI to protect himself from corruption charges before his death, per The The Daily Beast.For years, Lesin had been at the heart of political life in Russia and would have known a lot about the inner workings of the rich and powerful.Alexander LitvinenkoAlexander Litvinenko.via The TelegraphAlexander Litvinenko was a former KGB agent who died three weeks after drinking a cup of tea at a London hotel that had been laced with deadly polonium-210.A British inquiry found that Litvinenko was poisoned by FSB agents Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitry Kovtun, who were acting on orders that had "probably approved by Mr Patrushev and also by President Putin."Litvinenko was very critical of Putin, accusing him of, among other things, blowing up an apartment block and ordering the murder of journalist Anna Politkovskaya.Anna PolitkovskayaAnna Politkovskaya was a Russian journalist who was critical of Putin. In her book "Putin's Russia," she accused Putin of turning his country into a police state. She was murdered by contract killers who shot her at point blank range in the lift outside her flat.Five men were convicted of her murder, but the judge found that it was a contract killing, with $150,000 paid by "a person unknown."A picture of slain journalist Anna Politkovskaya is shown during a candlelight vigil in front of the Russian Embassy.Mark Wilson/Getty ImagesNatalia EstemirovaNatalia Estemirova was a journalist who sometimes worked with Politkovskaya.She specialised in uncovering human-rights abuses carried out by the Russian state in Chechnya.She was abducted from outside her home and later found in nearby woodland with gunshot wounds to her head. No one has been convicted of her murder.Stanislav Markelov and Anastasia BaburovaHuman-rights lawyer Stanislav Markelov represented Politkovskaya and other journalists who had been critical of Putin.He was shot by a masked gunman near the Kremlin. Journalist Anastasia Baburova, who was walking with him, was also shot when she tried to help him.Boris Nemtsov speaks at a news conference on "Corruption and Abuse in Sochi Olympics."Alex Wong/Getty ImagesBoris NemtsovBoris Nemtsov was a former deputy prime minister of Russia under Boris Yeltsin who went on to become a big critic of Putin — accusing him of being in the pay of oligarchs.He was shot four times in the back just yards from the Kremlin as he walked home from a restaurant. Despite Putin taking "personal control" of the investigation into Nemtsov's murder, the killer has not been found.Boris BerezovskyBoris Berezovsky was a Russian oligarch who fled to Britain after he fell out with Putin. During his exile he threatened to bring down Putin by force. He was found dead at his Berkshire home in March 2013 in an apparent suicide, although an inquest into his death recorded an open verdict.Berezovsky was found dead inside a locked bathroom with a ligature around his neck. The coroner couldn't explain how he had died.The British police had on several occasions investigated alleged assassination attempts against him.Boris Berezovsky wears a mask showing the face of Russia's President Vladimir Putin, as he leaves Bow Street Magistrates Court.Graeme Robertson/Getty ImagesPaul KlebnikovPaul Klebnikov was the chief editor of the Russian edition of Forbes. He had written about corruption and dug into the lives of wealthy Russians.He was killed in a drive-by shooting in an apparent contract killing.Sergei YushenkovSergei Yushenkov was a Russian politician who was attempting to prove the Russian state was behind the bombing of an apartment block.He was killed in an assassination by a single shot to the chest just hours after his political organisation, Liberal Russia, had been recognised by the Justice Ministry as a party.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderDec 27th, 2022

Another Putin critic died after falling out of a window

Pavel Antov died after falling from a hotel window in India Sunday, making him the second Vladimir Putin critic to die this way in 2022. Russian President Vladimir Putin arrives to the welcoming ceremony in Yerevan, Armenia, on November 23, 2022.Contributor/Getty Images A second Vladimir Putin critic has died after falling from a hotel window.  Pavel Antov, 65, died Sunday in India just days after celebrating his 65th birthday. A June WhatsApp message linked to Antov's account was seen as critical of Putin's war in Ukraine.  A second critic of Vladimir Putin died Sunday after reportedly falling out of a window, Russian media outlet TASS reported.According to reports, Pavel Antov fell from a hotel window in Rayagada, India, just days after celebrating his 65th birthday. He was visiting the state of Odisha in eastern India.Antov was the chairman of the Committee on Agrarian Policy, Nature Management and Ecology of the Legislative Assembly of the Vladimir Region and was well known in the region, according to TASS. "Our colleague, a successful entrepreneur, philanthropist Pavel Antov passed away," Vice Speaker of the Regional Parliament Vyacheslav Kartukhin said on his Telegram channel, TASS reported. "On behalf of the deputies of the United Russia faction, I express my deep condolences to relatives and friends."The speaker of the legislative assembly, Vladimir Kiselyov, called Antov's death a "difficult and irreparable loss" in a statement on the website of the regional parliament, TASS reported.Antov was a known critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, the BBC reported. The BBC reported that a since-deleted June WhatsApp message linked to Antov's account — and shared after a Russian missile strike in Kyiv that killed a man and left his wife and seven-year-old daughter wounded — was seen as critical of Putin's war in Ukraine. "It's extremely difficult to call all this anything but terror," the WhatsApp message said. Antov quickly deflected on social media, insisting he was a supporter of the war and Putin, adding that the message came from a war critic with whom he does not agree and it was all a misunderstanding, the BBC reported. Antov is the second Putin critic to die after falling from a window. In September, Russian energy oligarch Ravil Maganov, 67, died after falling from a hospital window, Insider reported at the time.The 67-year-old oil tycoon died after his oil company, Lukoil, released a statement expressing "deepest concerns" about President Vladimir Putin's war in Ukraine.  Another Russian traveling with Antov also reportedly died at the hotel in India on Friday, according to The BBC. The BBC reported Odisha police Superintendent Vivekananda Sharma said Budanov died of a stroke. Sharma added that Antov "was depressed after his death and he too died."Alexei Idamkin, The Russian consul in Kolkata, told the TASS that police did not see a "criminal element in these tragic events," The BBC reported. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderDec 27th, 2022

Will The Fallout From "Qatargate" Splatter The European Commission?

Will The Fallout From "Qatargate" Splatter The European Commission? Authored by Nick Corbishley via NakedCapitalism.com, As the Qatargate scandal widens, questions are being asked as to whether its reverberations will reach the Commission, the EU’s executive branch. Recent revelations suggest the EU’s Chief Diplomat Josep Borrell could be implicated. Since erupting last weekend with police raids on MEPs’ homes and offices in the European parliament, the Qatargate scandal has done nothing but mushroom. What began as a criminal probe into current and former MEPs and parliamentary assistants implicated in a bribery ring aimed at burnishing the public image of the current World Cup host has widened significantly — not only in terms of the number of people involved but also the number of organizations and third countries, which now also include Morocco. As the scandal grows, both the Parliament and the European Commission are locked in a frantic damage control mission. European Parliament president Roberta Metsola on Thursday (15 December) pledged to unveil a “wide-ranging reform package” in January, which will include  measures to bolster whistleblower protections, a ban on all unofficial parliamentary friendship groups (groups of MEPs discussing relations with non-EU countries) and a review of enforcement of code of conduct rules for MEPs.  Read More Fallout Spreads For the moment almost all of the focus is understandably on the European Parliament, but questions are beginning to be asked as to whether the fallout will spread to the EU’s executive branch, the European Commission. Asked whether he is worried about such an outcome, Didier Reynders, the EU Commissioner for justice, told Politico that it is “all the time a possibility”. Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen, herself no stranger to corruption allegations, both in her native Germany and in Brussels, said the following in a Monday morning press conference: The allegations against the VP of Parliament [Eva Kaili] are of the most concern, very serious. It’s a question of confidence of our people in our institutions, it needs highest standards. I proposed the creation of an independent ethnics body that covers all EU institutions (in March).[1] For us it is very critical to have not only strong rules, but the same rules covering all the EU institutions, and not to allow for any exemptions. Von der Leyen added that the Commission is looking at its own transparency register for all logged meetings between staff and Qatari officials. That is not as comforting as it may sound given the flagrant disregard for transparency and accountability her Commission has shown in its acquisition of billions of COVID-19 vaccines. What’s more, as the non-profit research and campaign group Corporate Europe Observatory notes, the Commission’s 2014 transparency reforms apply only to the top 250 most senior officials in the Commission. Many lower level officials from among the 30,000+ Commission staff regularly meet with lobbyists but they are not included within the rules. EU’s Biggest Corruption Scandal in Years Von der Leyen also refused to answer questions about the European Vice President Margaritis Schinas’ connections with Qatar, provoking umbrage from the Brussels press corps. Margaritis, also from Greece, represented the EU at the opening ceremony of the World Cup, and has been heavily criticized for lavishing praise on the “improving” labor conditions in Qatar, where at least 6,500 migrants workers from India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan died between 2011, the year the World Cup was awarded to the country, and 2020. Politico describes Qatargate as the biggest corruption scandal to hit the EU in years, though it faces a run for its money from the blossoming scandal over the Commission’s deeply opaque dealings with Pfizer and other vaccine makers, which is now the subject of an investigation by the European Public Prosecutor’s Office. The EU’s ombudsman Emily O’Reilly branded the Commission’s refusal to disclose the text messages between von der Leyen and Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla as “maladministration.” In contrast to Qatargate, that scandal has been studiously ignored by Europe’s legacy media despite the staggering sums of money involved (tens of billions of dollars to date to buy up to 1.8 billion COVID-19 vaccines), the number of people affected (anyone who pays taxes in the EU and felt compelled by the EU’s vaccine passport rules to take a medical product they didn’t want) and the seniority of those implicated, including Von der Leyen herself and Albert Bourla, CEO of Pfizer, one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies. Von der Leyen herself has come under fire for concealing and/or deleting records of her conversations with Bourla prior to the Commission’s purchase of up to 1.8 billion vaccines. As for Bourla, he has twice refused to give testimony to a European Parliament special committee on the matter. Borrell in the Mix? For his part, the EU’s high representative for foreign affairs and security policy Josep Borrell described Qatargate “very, very worrisome.” But he was also at pains to emphasize that no one in the European Commission’s diplomatic service, which he heads, is under investigation: “There is nothing and no one being referred to neither from the External Action Service nor from the delegations.” But that may change in the coming days or weeks. Former European Parliament Vice President Eva Kaili, who is at the center of the bribery allegations, denies receiving the €1.5 million of cash found at her home and in her father’s possession [2] and claims she was acting exclusively on orders from above. According to Kaili’s lawyer, Michalis Dimitrakopoulos, those orders came directly from EU Parliament President Roberta Metsola and Borrell. From Euractiv: In an interview with Greek MEGA TV channel, Dimitrakopoulos said Kaili has nothing to do with bribery from Qatar. “What the public opinion needs to know is that Qatar did not need to bribe Ms Kaili because she went to Qatar as a representative of the European Parliament, the speeches, the interviews she gave were after the agreement and order of the President Roberta Metsola,” Dimitrakopoulos said. He added that documents prove this and explained that Kaili did not take any initiative or have an agenda. “Ms Metsola sent her to Qatar, what she was going to say had Ms Metsola’s approval […] Ms Metsola had also sent EU official Mr Roberto Bendini with her to watch all of Ms Kaili’s meetings”, he explained. “I am telling you the words of Ms Kaili, she was carrying out a plan that had started in 2019, High Representative Josep Borrell and Ylva Johansson [Commissioner for Home Affairs] had decided at the Commission level, to cooperate with Qatar, Kuwait and Oman,” the lawyer added. For the moment, these are just leaked allegations made by the lawyer of a suspect in a very serious corruption investigation, and should be treated as such. But one thing that is clear is that Borrell, as Europe’s chief diplomat, played a leading role in forging closer ties with Qatar. MEPs now suspect Qatar’s palm-greasing may have unduly influenced negotiations on the highly lucrative EU-Qatar aviation agreement. Signed last year, the deal granted Qatar Airlines unlimited access to the EU’s vast market of 450 million people while giving European airlines access to Qatar’s somewhat smaller market of 2.9 million people. The first deal of its kind ever to be signed by the Commission, it was heavily criticised by major EU airlines and unions, but defended by the EU, which claimed it would provide “opportunities for both sides.” An EU spokesperson said on Wednesday the agreement was reached with “full transparency.” In the end, Europe’s desperate hunger for energy sources, which was already readily apparent even by the summer of 2021, probably played a much larger part in securing the deal than a few greased palms. On his first visit to the country as EU’s chief diplomat, in September 2021, Borrell praised Qatar as a “reliable energy partner”, which in these times, he said, is “especially important.” He also announced EU plans to build a fully fledged diplomatic mission in Doha this year, which was inaugurated in September. As previously mentioned, Morocco is also implicated in this ever-widening scandal. According to Spanish journalist Ignacio Cembrero, it is the country’s foreign intelligence services, the DGED, that has been bribing MEPs, presumably to frustrate any resolutions in favor of Western Sahara, the resource-rich former Spanish colony it invaded and occupied in 1975. Morocco has also been accused this year of using Pegasus spyware to target the mobile phones of around 200 Spanish government officials, including the Prime Minister Pedro Sanchéz and then Defense Minister Margarita Robles. Regular readers may recall that over the last year the North African country has garnered increasing support for its “autonomy” plan for Western Sahara among big hitters in the EU including Germany, the Netherlands and Spain. The plan would essentially involve formalizing Morocco’s permanent occupation of the resource-rich region and has already received the blessing of both Israel and the US. Another Toothless Ethics Body For the moment, it is far from clear just how far this burgeoning scandal will reach. One thing that is clear is that the reputational damage will be large and lasting. The European Union’s ability to lecture the misbehaving governments of Member States and third-party countries on how to govern will be further diminished. As Hungary’s Victor Orban said in a video uploaded to his Facebook page, “It is time that we drain the swamp here in Brussels.” And he is right. EU institutions need to get their house in order once and for all, and fast. And that is unlikely to happen. The EU ombudsman Emily O’Reilly said this week that Von der Leyen’s proposed plan for a new ethics body is likely to end up as “something with no teeth, something that will possibly sit there passively, wait for complaints to come in.” What the body really needs, O’Reilly said, is investigatory and sanctions powers. But that might actually threaten to derail the gravy train Brussels has become. And the problem is not just illegal cash payments stuffed away in paper bags and briefcases; it is the vast lobbying apparatus that has built up in Brussels, which is now the second largest lobbying capital in the world after Washington. As in Washington, lobbying reaches into just about every aspect of governance. In its 2015 report, CEO reported that lobbyists representing businesses and trade associations made up 75% of all high-level Commission lobby meetings and more than 80% in certain areas such as financial regulation or the internal market. The inevitable result, as in Washington, is that policies are made almost exclusively in the service of vested corporate interests. Sometimes corporate lobbies even draft the EU’s legislation. This is the business model of modern governance. Lastly, if Borrell is indeed caught up in this burgeoning scandal and, by some miracle, loses his job, it would be no great loss to the EU’s 450 million citizens. He is the least diplomatic of diplomats. Just about every time he speaks, whether on the wonders of European colonialism or the vast untamed jungle that lies beyond Europe’s borders, damage is inflicted on the EU’s relations with some other part of the world. Since long before the Ukraine conflict he has played a leading role in escalating tensions with Russia, the EU’s biggest neighbor and energy supplier. He is also no stranger to scandal, having been convicted, in 2018, of insider trading in Spain. That resulted in him being placed on the Spanish market regulator’s blacklist. The ensuing scandal triggered calls for his resignation as Spain’s then-Foreign Minister. But he resisted those calls and in 2020 was bumped up to the European Commission, as so often happens with scandal-tarnished domestic politicians in the EU. Tyler Durden Sun, 12/18/2022 - 08:10.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytDec 18th, 2022