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JK Rowling Casts Anti-Doxxing Spell Against Trans Activists In Furious Twitter Thread

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Category: blogSource: zerohedgeNov 25th, 2021

Live updates: GOP plans abortion strategy after Roe v. Wade leak

The campaign arm of the Senate GOP told Republicans to be "the compassionate, consensus-builder on abortion policy." Pro-choice demonstrators hold signs in front of the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC, on May 3, 2022.Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images The GOP is advising members on abortion communications after the SCOTUS leak, Axios reported. It called Democrats "extreme" and said Republicans should be the "compassionate, consensus-builder." Politico also said it is adding security measures after publishing the leaked draft opinion on Roe v. Wade. The GOP told lawmakers to portray themselves as 'the compassionate, consensus-builder' on abortion policy after SCOTUS leak, Axios reportsSenate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty ImagesA leaked GOP memo obtained by Axios told Republican lawmakers to portray themselves as the "compassionate consensus-builder" on abortion policy after the leak.The memo by the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), which is the campaign arm of the Senate GOP, said: "Be the compassionate, consensus-builder on abortion policy ... While people have many different views on abortion policy, Americans are compassionate people who want to welcome every new baby into the world."It also Republicans should "expose the Democrats for the extreme views they hold," claiming that "Joe Biden and the Democrats have extreme and radical views on abortion that are outside of the mainstream of most Americans," Axios reported.Read Full Story Phone location data from people who visited abortion clinics, including Planned Parenthood, is legally on sale for $160, Vice reportsThe outside of the Planned Parenthood Reproductive Health Services Center is seen in St. Louis, Missouri.Saul Loeb/Getty ImagesVice found that location data from Planned Parenthood branches can be legally sold.Vice paid a broker $160 for a dataset that included a week's worth of phone location data for 600 Planned Parenthoods in the US, including some that provide abortions.Data from such brokers is aggregated, which means individuals are not singled out, but it is possible to de-anonymize the data and idenfify people from the datasets.Read Full StoryPolitico told its employees to watch out for strangers trying to enter their office after it published the leaked SCOTUS draft, The Daily Beast reportsProtests erupt after a leaked opinion favors abortion bans.Getty ImagesPolitico told employees to watch out for strangers trying to enter their office after they published the leaked draft opinion, The Daily Beast reported.Politico's Chief Talent Officer Traci Schweikert said new security measures would be put in place after the report.The Daily Beast did not report the specifics of any new measures, but reported that Schweikert told staff to be aware of potential threats."Be aware of anyone accessing our elevators with you and the possibility of 'tailgating' to your floor," Schweikert said.The email also urged employees to delete private information from their social media accounts, The Daily Beast reported.Read Full Story  Women on TikTok say hookup culture will be 'decimated' if Roe V. Wade is overturnedThe landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade case provided the legal precedent that makes abortion legal in the US.TikTokSome women say they will deny casual sex if they do not have abortion rights after news broke that the Supreme Court is poised to overturn the landmark Roe V. Wade case. "In case you're a man who doesn't care about roe v wade just know that if abortion gets banned hookup culture will be absolutely decimated," TikTok user @moneymollusk wrote in a video, which has received more than 1.2 million views in a single day."What women would have mediocre sex with a drunk rando if he could potentially father their child," she continued, noting that the video is directed at "all the pro-life men who love Plan B."Read Full StoryReasoning behind leaked draft decision could lead to anti-feminist laws nationwide, says Rep. Jamie RaskinProtesters at a pro-choice rally outside the Supreme Court on November 1, 2021.AP Photo/Jacquelyn MartinMaryland Rep. Jamie Raskin said this week that if Roe v. Wade were to be overturned based on Justice Samuel Alito's reasoning, it might be an invitation for other laws to be overturned. Raskin was discussing the bombshell leak of the Supreme Court's draft majority opinion on Roe v. Wade during an interview with MSNBC host Rachel Maddow on Monday.Read Full StoryOverturning Roe v. Wade is 'not what a majority of Americans want,' says Elizabeth WarrenSen. Elizabeth Warren.Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty ImagesA video taken on Tuesday showed Sen. Elizabeth Warren fuming over a leaked Supreme Court opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito which appeared to show that the Supreme Court's conservative judges have lined up to overturn Roe v. Wade.The 1973 Supreme Court decision codified the right to an abortion into law, but the memo leaked by Politico on Monday showed that the court's five conservative judges all shared their opposition to the law in February.A furious Warren ripped into the lawmakers who approved the conservative judges while speaking with reporters on Tuesday, appearing shaken with anger as an aide helped escort her away from the courthouse.Read Full StoryAs Roe v. Wade faces being overturned, communities of color continue to fight for their rightsFor decades, women of color have been on the front line of the fight for abortion rights.Whitney Curtis/Getty ImagesAbortion advocates say that communities of color will bear the brunt of the overturning of the decades-long precedence of Roe v. Wade."We know this imminent ruling will have a dramatic impact on all people seeking to end a pregnancy and its consequences will reverberate nationwide," Lupe M. Rodríguez, the executive director at the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Justice, wrote in a statement to Insider.Read Full StorySupreme Court's leaked decision gives Democrats a fresh shot at the culture warsBoth pro- and anti-abortion demonstrators gathered in front of the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC, on May 3.Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty ImagesRepublicans planned to ride to electoral victory this fall on a wave of parental fears and dissatisfaction with schools, teachers' unions, and COVID restrictions.The Supreme Court was poised over the summer to weigh in on one of the most polarizing issues of all, overturning abortion rights. But now that an authentic draft of the conservative majority's opinion has been leaked ahead of schedule, it has accelerated concerns, and a decision to gut Roe v. Wade could supersede all other culture wars when Americans go to the polls in November.Democrats are counting on it.Read Full StorySchumer blasts McConnell for not discussing Supreme Court draft opinionSenate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer; Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.Alex Wong/Getty Images; Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty ImagesSenate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Tuesday ripped into Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell after the top Republican avoiding talking about his longtime push to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark ruling that granted women the constitutional right to an abortion nearly 50 years ago.McConnell earlier on Tuesday criticized the release of a draft opinion from the Supreme Court — an unprecedented leak related to a major abortion rights case that's still pending. The top Republican focused his outrage on the nature of the leak, and avoided speaking on the substance of the draft opinion, which would overturn Roe."It is utterly amazing that Mitch McConnell did not want to say he supports repealing Roe v. Wade," Schumer said during a press conference. "All he did was talk about the leaks."Read Full StoryRepublican senators won't say if they support rape and incest exceptions to abortion bansRepublican Sens. Rick Scott of Florida and Joni Ernst of IowaJim Lo Scalzo/Pool/AFP via Getty Images; Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty; Anna Moneymaker/GettyEvery Republican president since Ronald Reagan has stood behind anti-abortion views with exceptions in the cases of rape, incest, and protecting the life of the pregnant person.But some Senate Republicans refused to tell Insider whether they support such exceptions in the wake of the publication of a draft Supreme Court opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark ruling protecting abortion rights.Read Full StoryConservative media talking heads play defense on overturning Roe v. WadeSenate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.Drew Angerer/Getty ImagesThe conservative legal movement appears to be on the cusp of achieving a nearly 50-year dream of overturning Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision protecting abortion.But so far, conservative media appearances show the party and its most loyal pundits holding off on taking a victory lap.Read Full StoryDemocrats want to make Roe v. Wade the law of the landSenate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer discusses efforts to codify Roe v. Wade into law this past February.Win McNamee/Getty ImagesDemocrats have promised to vote on a bill that would protect abortion rights after a leaked draft showed the Supreme Court is poised to overturn Roe v. Wade. "Every American is going to see which side every senator stands on," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Tuesday on the steps of the US Capitol, adding that a vote would happen "soon" on the Women's Health Protection Act. Read Full StoryJustice Samuel Alito quoted Ruth Bader Ginsburg in leaked draft opinionUS Supreme Court Associate Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Samuel Alito, Jr. sit next to each other for a group portrait on November 30, 2018.Jim Young/ReutersAssociate Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito cited the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in his leaked draft opinion that would reverse landmark abortion rights. Ginsburg was a famously strong defender of women's rights during her 27-year tenure on the court before her death in 2020. "Roe...halted a political process that was moving in a reform direction and thereby, I believed, prolonged divisiveness and deferred stable settlement of the issue," Alito quoted Ginsburg on the third page of his 98-page opinion.Read Full StoryScrapping of Roe v. Wade would hurt women's personal and financial securityProtesters, demonstrators, and activists gather in front of the US Supreme Court as the justices hear arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health, a case about a Mississippi law that bans most abortions after 15 weeks, on December 01, 2021.Chip Somodevilla/Getty ImagesOver the last few years, women and trans Americans have seen their economic, physical, and personal security imperiled, and policy hasn't stepped up to address those challenges.A Supreme Court decision striking down Roe v. Wade would be yet another big setback, Insider's Juliana Kaplan and Joseph Zeballos-Roig write.Read Full StoryThe draft leak was Chief Justice John Roberts' worst 'nightmare'Chief Justice John Roberts ordered an investigation into the leak of a draft opinion.Andrew Harnik/AFP via Getty ImagesChief Justice John Roberts has a pattern of warning Supreme Court clerks and staff to maintain confidentiality in court dealings. Roberts would highlight to the clerks that leaking information could mean blows to their careers, clerks told Insider.Legal experts called the breach — which is almost unprecedented — "highly disturbing." Roberts has instructed the court marshal to start an investigation into the leak. He called it a "betrayal of the confidences of the court."Read Full StoryOklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt signs Texas-style bill that bans abortions around the six-week pregnancy mark—Governor Kevin Stitt (@GovStitt) May 3, 2022Stitt signed SB 1503 — a bill that mirrors the highly restrictive Texas abortion ban — on Tuesday saying he wants Oklahoma "to be the most pro-life state in the country."The "Oklahoma Heartbeat Act" would make it illegal for any pregnant individual to obtain an abortion passed the point when a heartbeat can be detected in the fetus. This typically occurs around the sixth week of pregnancy — though most people are unaware that they are pregnant at this point. The bill leaves out exceptions including rape or incest and only allows the procedure if the impregnated person's life is at risk.It also enables private citizens to sue others who induce or provide an abortion for up to $10,000, just like the Texas law. The bill immediately goes into effect since Stitt signed.Oklahoma lawmakers passed another abortion law in April forbidding medical professionals from performing the procedure except in medical emergencies — punishable by up to 10 years in prison and $100,000 in fines. This bill would go into effect in the summer unless courts stop it.Some companies are covering travel costs for employees seeking abortion in different statesSarah Goggans (C) holds her daughter Lilith Centola in front of the US Supreme Court as demonstrators gather in Washington, DC, on May 3, 2022.Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty ImagesSome US companies are taking steps in response to increasing restrictions on abortion access.  Amazon, Apple, and Citi, for example, are covering travel costs for employees seeking abortion in different states.At least half of US states are "certain or likely" to ban abortion if the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling is struck down, according to analysis by the Guttmacher Institute.Read Full StoryAOC calls Sen. Kyrsten Sinema 'an obstructionist' and rips on the Arizona lawmakerSen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz.; Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc/Getty Images; J. Scott Applewhite, File/Associated PressRep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called Sen. Kyrsten Sinema "an obstructionist" and slammed the Arizona lawmaker for refusing to support changes to the Senate filibuster to codify abortion protections."We could protect Roe tomorrow, but Sinema refuses to act on the filibuster. Until that changes she can take a seat talking about 'women's access to health care,'" Ocasio-Cortez said, calling for Sinema to be primaried. Read Full StoryRepublican Sen. Lisa Murkowski said her "confidence" in SCOTUS has been rockedRepublican Sen. Lisa Murkowski said her "confidence" in the Supreme Court has been rocked after the leaked draft opinion suggesting Roe v. Wade would be overturned. "Roe is still the law of the land. We don't know the direction that this decision may ultimately take, but if it goes in the direction that this leaked copy has indicated I will just tell you that it rocks my confidence in the court right now," she told reporters. Murkowski, who supports abortion rights, voted to approve Conservatives Neil Gorsuch and Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.Read Full StoryKamala Harris says the 'rights of all Americans are at risk' after leaked draft opinionVice President Kamala Harris and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff disembark from Air Force 2 at San Francisco International Airport on April 21, 2022 in California.Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty ImagesVice President Kamala Harris said in a statement that "the rights of all Americans are at risk" as the Supreme Court seems set to overturn Roe v. Wade. "If the right to privacy is weakened, every person could face a future in which the government can potentially interfere in the personal decisions you make about your life," Harris said.She added: "Republican legislators in states across the country are weaponizing the use of the law against women."Read Full StorySen. Elizabeth Warren rips Republicans for 'plotting' to get a conservative Supreme CourtU.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) speaks to pro-choice demonstrators outside of the U.S. Supreme Court Building on May 03, 2022 in Washington, DC.Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty ImagesSen. Elizabeth Warren slammed Republicans for "plotting" to get a conservative Supreme Court and overturn Roe v. Wade. "The Republicans have been working toward this day for decades," Warren told reporters Tuesday. "They have been out there plotting, carefully cultivating these Supreme Court justices so they could have a majority on the bench who would accomplish something that the majority of Americans do not want."She said she's "angry and upset and determined," after the leaked draft opinion appearing to signal the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling will be overturned. Read Full StorySen. Kyrsten Sinema stands by her support of the Senate filibusterSen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., speaks during a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on Feb. 1, 2022 in Washington.Al Drago/Bloomberg via AP, FileSen. Kyrsten Sinema is standing by her support of the Senate filibuster, busting Democrats' hopes of codifying Roe v. Wade into law.  "Protections in the Senate safeguarding against the erosion of women's access to health care have been used half-a-dozen times in the past ten years, and are more important now than ever," she said in a Tuesday statement.The filibuster requires most legislation to get a three-fifths majority to head to debate, meaning Democrats can't pass many policy items in an evenly divided Senate.  Read Full StoryRep. Cori Bush said she's 'broken up' by the Roe v. Wade draft opinionDemocratic Rep. Cori Bush — who previously revealed she got an abortion after being raped as a teen — said she was "broken up" after the leaked draft opinion suggesting the Supreme Court would overturn the constitutional right to abortion."I'm pretty broken up," the 45-year-old Missouri congresswoman told The New York Times in an interview on Tuesday.She added: "Whether you have an abortion, or whether you have the child, no one is on that table with you. No one is on that bed with you."Read Full StorySupreme Court confirms authenticity of leaked draft opinion gutting abortion rightsU.S. Supreme Court Police officers set up barricades on the sidewalk as pro-choice and anti-abortion activists demonstrate in front of the U.S. Supreme Court Building on May 03, 2022 in Washington, DC.Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty ImagesThe Supreme Court confirmed the authenticity of a leaked draft opinion that would overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling guaranteeing abortion rights."Although the document described in yesterday's reports is authentic, it does not represent a decision by the Court or the final position of any member on the issues in the case," the court said in a statement.Chief Justice John Roberts announced the court will investigate to find out who leaked the document.Read Full StorySusan Collins slams Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh after leaked draft opinionSusan CollinsGreg Nash-Pool/Getty ImagesRepublican Sen. Susan Collins slammed conservative Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh in the wake of the leaked draft opinion that would overturn the right to an abortion."If this leaked draft opinion is the final decision and this reporting is accurate, it would be completely inconsistent with what Justice Gorsuch and Justice Kavanaugh said in their hearings and in our meetings in my office," Collins said in a statement.Collins — who supports abortion rights — has previously defended her decision to vote for Gorsuch and Kavanaugh's Supreme Court confirmations. Read Full StoryMajority Leader Schumer says the Senate will vote on an abortion rights billSenate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer promised to hold a vote that would codify federal abortion rights into law."A vote on this legislation is not an abstract exercise. This is as urgent and real as it gets," Schumer said during a speech on the Senate floor. "We will vote to protect a woman's right to choose and every American is going to see on which side every American stands."Read Full StoryBiden says it's up to 'voters to elect pro-choice officials' after leaked SCOTUS draft opinionBiden at former Vice President Walter Mondale’s memorial service in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on May 1, 2022.Nicholas Kamm / AFP via Getty ImagesPresident Joe Biden urged voters to elect pro-choice lawmakers in the wake of a leaked draft opinion seemingly suggesting that the Supreme Court would overturn Roe v. Wade. Biden in a Tuesday statement said at a federal level, the country needs "more pro-choice Senators and a pro-choice majority in the House" so he can pass legislation to codify Roe v. Wade. "If the Court does overturn Roe, it will fall on our nation's elected officials at all levels of government to protect a woman's right to choose," the president added. "And it will fall on voters to elect pro-choice officials this November." Read Full StoryMcConnell lashes out at Democrats over reactions to Roe v. Wade leakSenate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) departs the US Capitol on April 27, 2022.STEFANI REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty ImagesSenate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell slammed Democrats over their reactions to the leaked draft opinion showing the Supreme Court is set to undo abortion rights. "By every indication, this was yet another escalation in the radical left's ongoing campaign to bully and intimidate federal judges and substitute mob rule for the rule of law," McConnell said in a statement.He also called the leak "an attack on the independence of the Supreme Court." Read Full StoryCalifornia Gov. Gavin Newsom proposes to build a statewide constitutional 'firewall' around abortion rightsCalifornia Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday proposed building a statewide constitutional "firewall" around abortion rights."California will build a firewall around this right in our state constitution," Newsom said in a joint statement with California's State Senate President Toni Atkins and State Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon.The statement said California lawmakers will propose a constitutional amendment to "enshrine the right to choose."Read Full StoryDemocrats plan to make abortion rights a huge midterm issueAbortion rights advocates and anti-abortion protesters demonstrate in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2021, in Washington, as the court hears arguments in a case from Mississippi, where a 2018 law would ban abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, well before viability.(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)Democrats plan to make abortion a main talking point ahead of the fall midterm elections if the Supreme Court overturns existing protections for women's reproductive rights.If the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling is overturned, pro-choice groups say outrage could help inspire people to vote. "The reality is abortion is absolutely going to be on the ballot in 2022, no ifs, ands, or buts about it," Kristin Ford, vice president of communications at NARAL Pro-Choice America, told Insider in March.Read Full StoryDemocrats are worried that same-sex marriage and civil rights could be targeted next after SCOTUS leakDemocratic lawmakers are concerned that same-sex marriage and civil rights could be undone next in the wake of a leaked draft opinion showing the Supreme Court is set to overturn abortion rights.The Supreme Court "isn't just coming for abortion - they're coming for the right to privacy Roe rests on, which includes gay marriage + civil rights," Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted on Monday.Legal scholar Laurence Tribe wrote on Twitter that next steps may include a "nationwide abortion ban, followed by a push to roll back rights to contraception, same-sex marriage, sexual privacy, and the full array of textually unenumerated rights long taken for granted." Read Full StorySCOTUS leaked draft opinion is unprecedented, but details about Court deliberations have been made public beforeCaroline McDonald, left, a student at Georgetown University, Lauren Morrissey, with Catholics for Choice, and Pamela Huber, of Washington, join a pro-choice rally outside the Supreme Court, Monday, Nov. 1, 2021, as arguments are set to begin about abortion by the court, on Capitol Hill in Washington.AP Photo/Jacquelyn MartinThe leaked draft opinion seemingly showing that the Supreme Court is poised to overturn Roe v. Wade is certainly unprecedented. An entire draft opinion has never been leaked like this before. But details about justices' deliberations have been made public before — for example a 1972 memo about Roe that was leaked to the Washington Post before it became public. Read Full StoryBiden has been reluctant to say the word 'abortion' throughout his termPresident Joe Biden has been reluctant to publicly say the word "abortion" since he took office in January 2021.According to CNN, he has never said the word "abortion" out loud and used it a few times in some written statements. During his presidential campaign, Biden promised to codify the landmark 1973 ruling in Roe v. Wade.Read Full StoryDemocrats want to 'codify Roe,' but it's unlikely to succeedSenate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer discusses efforts to codify Roe v. Wade into law this past February.Win McNamee/Getty ImagesIn the wake of the leaked draft Supreme Court opinion, Democrats have quickly organized to codify Roe v. Wade and make it a law.One thing stopping Democrats' efforts, however, is the Senate filibuster. Democrats are currently focusing on the Women's Health Protection Act as a way to protect women's' federal right to abortion. Read Full StoryA constitutional amendment protecting abortion rights is nearly impossible to get throughThe First Printing of the Final Text of the United States Constitution is on display during a press preview at Sotheby's on September 17, 2021 in New York City.Photo by Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty ImagesAmending the Constitution is extremely difficult and rare. An amendment protecting abortion rights is nearly impossible.Abortion rights amendments have previously been proposed by both supporters and opponents. In the 233-year-long lifespan of the Constitution, it has only been amended 27 times — most recently in 1992 — and would require massive support in Congress and among states.  Read Full StoryLegal experts are shocked the drafted decision leakedSeated from left: Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, John Roberts, Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor, Standing from left: Brett Kavanaugh, Elena Kagan, Neil Gorsuch and Amy Coney Barrett.Erin Schaff-Pool/Getty ImagesLegal experts have expressed shock at the fact that a draft opinion from the Supreme Court was leaked to Politico. "The fact that it leaked is, to me, the most surprising thing," Harvard Law School professor I. Glenn Cohen told Insider.Mark Kende, a law professor at Drake University, told Insider that it's "highly disturbing that the opinion was improperly leaked in an unprecedented way, presumably by someone at the Court."Read Full StoryTop Democrats slam SCOTUS justices for 'one of the worst' decisions in historySenate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Designate Nancy Pelosi.AP Photo/J. Scott ApplewhiteHouse Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer slammed the potential Supreme Court ruling as  "one of the worst and most damaging decisions in modern history."Their remarks came in response to a leaked draft opinion published by Politico that appears to show the Supreme Court is set to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade case. "If the report is accurate, the Supreme Court is poised to inflict the greatest restriction of rights in the past fifty years – not just on women but on all Americans," Pelosi and Schumer said in a joint statement. Read Full StoryProtesters in support of Roe v. Wade gathered outside Supreme CourtPro-choice and anti-abortion activist rally outside of the U.S. Supreme Court on May 02, 2022 in Washington, DC. In an initial draft majority opinion obtained by Politico, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito allegedly wrote that the cases Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood of Southeastern v. Casey should be overruled, which would end federal protection of abortion rights across the country.Kevin Dietsch/Getty ImagesHundreds of protestors gathered outside the Supreme Court in Washington, DC, late on Monday night after Politico published a leaked draft opinion suggesting that Roe v. Wade was poised to be overturned. "I got down here early, right, cause I got home from a long day kicked off shoes my shoes, opened Twitter, saw that Roe v. Wade was trending to be overturned, put my shoes back on, and came right back from east of the river," Rev. Wendy Hamilton, a Democratic congressional candidate from DC, told Insider. Read Full StoryLeaked draft opinion shows SCOTUS set to overturn Roe v. WadeThe U.S. Supreme Court building is seen at sunset in Washington on Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021.Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty ImagesA leaked draft opinion obtained by Politico appears to show that the Supreme Court is poised to overturn the 1973 landmark Roe v. Wade ruling that granted women the constitutional right to an abortion.Politico late Monday published the 98-page initial draft majority opinion, purportedly authored by Justice Samuel Alito who said Roe was "egregiously wrong from the start.""We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled," the draft opinion says, labeled as the "Opinion of the Court," according to the report.The decision — if finalized — would mark a momentous shift in constitutional rights. Over a dozen GOP states have laws that would immediately restrict abortion access if Roe v. Wade is overturned. Read Full StoryRead the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMay 4th, 2022

Live updates: Overturning Roe v Wade is "not what a majority of Americans want," says Sen. Elizabeth Warren

Over a dozen GOP-led states have laws that would immediately restrict abortion access if the Supreme Court throws out Roe v. Wade. Pro-choice demonstrators hold signs in front of the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC, on May 3, 2022.Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images A video shows Sen. Elizabeth Warren furious about the leaked memo regarding Roe v. Wade. "The Republicans have been working toward this day for decades," Warren said. If finalized, the ruling would throw out a woman's constitutional right to have an abortion. Reasoning behind leaked draft decision could lead to anti-feminist laws nationwide, says Rep. Jamie RaskinProtesters at a pro-choice rally outside the Supreme Court on November 1, 2021.AP Photo/Jacquelyn MartinMaryland Rep. Jamie Raskin said this week that if Roe v. Wade were to be overturned based on Justice Samuel Alito's reasoning, it might be an invitation for other laws to be overturned. Raskin was discussing the bombshell leak of the Supreme Court's draft majority opinion on Roe v. Wade during an interview with MSNBC host Rachel Maddow on Monday.Read Full StoryOverturning Roe v. Wade is 'not what a majority of Americans want,' says Elizabeth WarrenSen. Elizabeth Warren.Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty ImagesA video taken on Tuesday showed Sen. Elizabeth Warren fuming over a leaked Supreme Court opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito which appeared to show that the Supreme Court's conservative judges have lined up to overturn Roe v. Wade.The 1973 Supreme Court decision codified the right to an abortion into law, but the memo leaked by Politico on Monday showed that the court's five conservative judges all shared their opposition to the law in February.A furious Warren ripped into the lawmakers who approved the conservative judges while speaking with reporters on Tuesday, appearing shaken with anger as an aide helped escort her away from the courthouse.Read Full StoryAs Roe v. Wade faces being overturned, communities of color continue to fight for their rightsFor decades, women of color have been on the front line of the fight for abortion rights.Whitney Curtis/Getty ImagesAbortion advocates say that communities of color will bear the brunt of the overturning of the decades-long precedence of Roe v. Wade."We know this imminent ruling will have a dramatic impact on all people seeking to end a pregnancy and its consequences will reverberate nationwide," Lupe M. Rodríguez, the executive director at the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Justice, wrote in a statement to Insider.Read Full StorySupreme Court's leaked decision gives Democrats a fresh shot at the culture warsBoth pro- and anti-abortion demonstrators gathered in front of the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC, on May 3.Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty ImagesRepublicans planned to ride to electoral victory this fall on a wave of parental fears and dissatisfaction with schools, teachers' unions, and COVID restrictions.The Supreme Court was poised over the summer to weigh in on one of the most polarizing issues of all, overturning abortion rights. But now that an authentic draft of the conservative majority's opinion has been leaked ahead of schedule, it has accelerated concerns, and a decision to gut Roe v. Wade could supersede all other culture wars when Americans go to the polls in November.Democrats are counting on it.Read Full StorySchumer blasts McConnell for not discussing Supreme Court draft opinionSenate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer; Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.Alex Wong/Getty Images; Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty ImagesSenate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Tuesday ripped into Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell after the top Republican avoiding talking about his longtime push to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark ruling that granted women the constitutional right to an abortion nearly 50 years ago.McConnell earlier on Tuesday criticized the release of a draft opinion from the Supreme Court — an unprecedented leak related to a major abortion rights case that's still pending. The top Republican focused his outrage on the nature of the leak, and avoided speaking on the substance of the draft opinion, which would overturn Roe."It is utterly amazing that Mitch McConnell did not want to say he supports repealing Roe v. Wade," Schumer said during a press conference. "All he did was talk about the leaks."Read Full StoryRepublican senators won't say if they support rape and incest exceptions to abortion bansRepublican Sens. Rick Scott of Florida and Joni Ernst of IowaJim Lo Scalzo/Pool/AFP via Getty Images; Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty; Anna Moneymaker/GettyEvery Republican president since Ronald Reagan has stood behind anti-abortion views with exceptions in the cases of rape, incest, and protecting the life of the pregnant person.But some Senate Republicans refused to tell Insider whether they support such exceptions in the wake of the publication of a draft Supreme Court opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark ruling protecting abortion rights.Read Full StoryConservative media talking heads play defense on overturning Roe v. WadeSenate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.Drew Angerer/Getty ImagesThe conservative legal movement appears to be on the cusp of achieving a nearly 50-year dream of overturning Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision protecting abortion.But so far, conservative media appearances show the party and its most loyal pundits holding off on taking a victory lap.Read Full StoryDemocrats want to make Roe v. Wade the law of the landSenate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer discusses efforts to codify Roe v. Wade into law this past February.Win McNamee/Getty ImagesDemocrats have promised to vote on a bill that would protect abortion rights after a leaked draft showed the Supreme Court is poised to overturn Roe v. Wade. "Every American is going to see which side every senator stands on," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Tuesday on the steps of the US Capitol, adding that a vote would happen "soon" on the Women's Health Protection Act. Read Full StoryJustice Samuel Alito quoted Ruth Bader Ginsburg in leaked draft opinionUS Supreme Court Associate Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Samuel Alito, Jr. sit next to each other for a group portrait on November 30, 2018.Jim Young/ReutersAssociate Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito cited the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in his leaked draft opinion that would reverse landmark abortion rights. Ginsburg was a famously strong defender of women's rights during her 27-year tenure on the court before her death in 2020. "Roe...halted a political process that was moving in a reform direction and thereby, I believed, prolonged divisiveness and deferred stable settlement of the issue," Alito quoted Ginsburg on the third page of his 98-page opinion.Read Full StoryScrapping of Roe v. Wade would hurt women's personal and financial securityProtesters, demonstrators, and activists gather in front of the US Supreme Court as the justices hear arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health, a case about a Mississippi law that bans most abortions after 15 weeks, on December 01, 2021.Chip Somodevilla/Getty ImagesOver the last few years, women and trans Americans have seen their economic, physical, and personal security imperiled, and policy hasn't stepped up to address those challenges.A Supreme Court decision striking down Roe v. Wade would be yet another big setback, Insider's Juliana Kaplan and Joseph Zeballos-Roig write.Read Full StoryThe draft leak was Chief Justice John Roberts' worst 'nightmare'Chief Justice John Roberts ordered an investigation into the leak of a draft opinion.Andrew Harnik/AFP via Getty ImagesChief Justice John Roberts has a pattern of warning Supreme Court clerks and staff to maintain confidentiality in court dealings. Roberts would highlight to the clerks that leaking information could mean blows to their careers, clerks told Insider.Legal experts called the breach — which is almost unprecedented — "highly disturbing." Roberts has instructed the court marshal to start an investigation into the leak. He called it a "betrayal of the confidences of the court."Read Full StoryOklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt signs Texas-style bill that bans abortions around the six-week pregnancy mark—Governor Kevin Stitt (@GovStitt) May 3, 2022Stitt signed SB 1503 — a bill that mirrors the highly restrictive Texas abortion ban — on Tuesday saying he wants Oklahoma "to be the most pro-life state in the country."The "Oklahoma Heartbeat Act" would make it illegal for any pregnant individual to obtain an abortion passed the point when a heartbeat can be detected in the fetus. This typically occurs around the sixth week of pregnancy — though most people are unaware that they are pregnant at this point. The bill leaves out exceptions including rape or incest and only allows the procedure if the impregnated person's life is at risk.It also enables private citizens to sue others who induce or provide an abortion for up to $10,000, just like the Texas law. The bill immediately goes into effect since Stitt signed.Oklahoma lawmakers passed another abortion law in April forbidding medical professionals from performing the procedure except in medical emergencies — punishable by up to 10 years in prison and $100,000 in fines. This bill would go into effect in the summer unless courts stop it.Some companies are covering travel costs for employees seeking abortion in different statesSarah Goggans (C) holds her daughter Lilith Centola in front of the US Supreme Court as demonstrators gather in Washington, DC, on May 3, 2022.Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty ImagesSome US companies are taking steps in response to increasing restrictions on abortion access.  Amazon, Apple, and Citi, for example, are covering travel costs for employees seeking abortion in different states.At least half of US states are "certain or likely" to ban abortion if the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling is struck down, according to analysis by the Guttmacher Institute.Read Full StoryAOC calls Sen. Kyrsten Sinema 'an obstructionist' and rips on the Arizona lawmakerSen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz.; Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc/Getty Images; J. Scott Applewhite, File/Associated PressRep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called Sen. Kyrsten Sinema "an obstructionist" and slammed the Arizona lawmaker for refusing to support changes to the Senate filibuster to codify abortion protections."We could protect Roe tomorrow, but Sinema refuses to act on the filibuster. Until that changes she can take a seat talking about 'women's access to health care,'" Ocasio-Cortez said, calling for Sinema to be primaried. Read Full StoryRepublican Sen. Lisa Murkowski said her "confidence" in SCOTUS has been rockedRepublican Sen. Lisa Murkowski said her "confidence" in the Supreme Court has been rocked after the leaked draft opinion suggesting Roe v. Wade would be overturned. "Roe is still the law of the land. We don't know the direction that this decision may ultimately take, but if it goes in the direction that this leaked copy has indicated I will just tell you that it rocks my confidence in the court right now," she told reporters. Murkowski, who supports abortion rights, voted to approve Conservatives Neil Gorsuch and Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.Read Full StoryKamala Harris says the 'rights of all Americans are at risk' after leaked draft opinionVice President Kamala Harris and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff disembark from Air Force 2 at San Francisco International Airport on April 21, 2022 in California.Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty ImagesVice President Kamala Harris said in a statement that "the rights of all Americans are at risk" as the Supreme Court seems set to overturn Roe v. Wade. "If the right to privacy is weakened, every person could face a future in which the government can potentially interfere in the personal decisions you make about your life," Harris said.She added: "Republican legislators in states across the country are weaponizing the use of the law against women."Read Full StorySen. Elizabeth Warren rips Republicans for 'plotting' to get a conservative Supreme CourtU.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) speaks to pro-choice demonstrators outside of the U.S. Supreme Court Building on May 03, 2022 in Washington, DC.Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty ImagesSen. Elizabeth Warren slammed Republicans for "plotting" to get a conservative Supreme Court and overturn Roe v. Wade. "The Republicans have been working toward this day for decades," Warren told reporters Tuesday. "They have been out there plotting, carefully cultivating these Supreme Court justices so they could have a majority on the bench who would accomplish something that the majority of Americans do not want."She said she's "angry and upset and determined," after the leaked draft opinion appearing to signal the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling will be overturned. Read Full StorySen. Kyrsten Sinema stands by her support of the Senate filibusterSen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., speaks during a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on Feb. 1, 2022 in Washington.Al Drago/Bloomberg via AP, FileSen. Kyrsten Sinema is standing by her support of the Senate filibuster, busting Democrats' hopes of codifying Roe v. Wade into law.  "Protections in the Senate safeguarding against the erosion of women's access to health care have been used half-a-dozen times in the past ten years, and are more important now than ever," she said in a Tuesday statement.The filibuster requires most legislation to get a three-fifths majority to head to debate, meaning Democrats can't pass many policy items in an evenly divided Senate.  Read Full StoryRep. Cori Bush said she's 'broken up' by the Roe v. Wade draft opinionDemocratic Rep. Cori Bush — who previously revealed she got an abortion after being raped as a teen — said she was "broken up" after the leaked draft opinion suggesting the Supreme Court would overturn the constitutional right to abortion."I'm pretty broken up," the 45-year-old Missouri congresswoman told The New York Times in an interview on Tuesday.She added: "Whether you have an abortion, or whether you have the child, no one is on that table with you. No one is on that bed with you."Read Full StorySupreme Court confirms authenticity of leaked draft opinion gutting abortion rightsU.S. Supreme Court Police officers set up barricades on the sidewalk as pro-choice and anti-abortion activists demonstrate in front of the U.S. Supreme Court Building on May 03, 2022 in Washington, DC.Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty ImagesThe Supreme Court confirmed the authenticity of a leaked draft opinion that would overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling guaranteeing abortion rights."Although the document described in yesterday's reports is authentic, it does not represent a decision by the Court or the final position of any member on the issues in the case," the court said in a statement.Chief Justice John Roberts announced the court will investigate to find out who leaked the document.Read Full StorySusan Collins slams Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh after leaked draft opinionSusan CollinsGreg Nash-Pool/Getty ImagesRepublican Sen. Susan Collins slammed conservative Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh in the wake of the leaked draft opinion that would overturn the right to an abortion."If this leaked draft opinion is the final decision and this reporting is accurate, it would be completely inconsistent with what Justice Gorsuch and Justice Kavanaugh said in their hearings and in our meetings in my office," Collins said in a statement.Collins — who supports abortion rights — has previously defended her decision to vote for Gorsuch and Kavanaugh's Supreme Court confirmations. Read Full StoryMajority Leader Schumer says the Senate will vote on an abortion rights billSenate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer promised to hold a vote that would codify federal abortion rights into law."A vote on this legislation is not an abstract exercise. This is as urgent and real as it gets," Schumer said during a speech on the Senate floor. "We will vote to protect a woman's right to choose and every American is going to see on which side every American stands."Read Full StoryBiden says it's up to 'voters to elect pro-choice officials' after leaked SCOTUS draft opinionBiden at former Vice President Walter Mondale’s memorial service in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on May 1, 2022.Nicholas Kamm / AFP via Getty ImagesPresident Joe Biden urged voters to elect pro-choice lawmakers in the wake of a leaked draft opinion seemingly suggesting that the Supreme Court would overturn Roe v. Wade. Biden in a Tuesday statement said at a federal level, the country needs "more pro-choice Senators and a pro-choice majority in the House" so he can pass legislation to codify Roe v. Wade. "If the Court does overturn Roe, it will fall on our nation's elected officials at all levels of government to protect a woman's right to choose," the president added. "And it will fall on voters to elect pro-choice officials this November." Read Full StoryMcConnell lashes out at Democrats over reactions to Roe v. Wade leakSenate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) departs the US Capitol on April 27, 2022.STEFANI REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty ImagesSenate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell slammed Democrats over their reactions to the leaked draft opinion showing the Supreme Court is set to undo abortion rights. "By every indication, this was yet another escalation in the radical left's ongoing campaign to bully and intimidate federal judges and substitute mob rule for the rule of law," McConnell said in a statement.He also called the leak "an attack on the independence of the Supreme Court." Read Full StoryCalifornia Gov. Gavin Newsom proposes to build a statewide constitutional 'firewall' around abortion rightsCalifornia Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday proposed building a statewide constitutional "firewall" around abortion rights."California will build a firewall around this right in our state constitution," Newsom said in a joint statement with California's State Senate President Toni Atkins and State Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon.The statement said California lawmakers will propose a constitutional amendment to "enshrine the right to choose."Read Full StoryDemocrats plan to make abortion rights a huge midterm issueAbortion rights advocates and anti-abortion protesters demonstrate in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2021, in Washington, as the court hears arguments in a case from Mississippi, where a 2018 law would ban abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, well before viability.(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)Democrats plan to make abortion a main talking point ahead of the fall midterm elections if the Supreme Court overturns existing protections for women's reproductive rights.If the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling is overturned, pro-choice groups say outrage could help inspire people to vote. "The reality is abortion is absolutely going to be on the ballot in 2022, no ifs, ands, or buts about it," Kristin Ford, vice president of communications at NARAL Pro-Choice America, told Insider in March.Read Full StoryDemocrats are worried that same-sex marriage and civil rights could be targeted next after SCOTUS leakDemocratic lawmakers are concerned that same-sex marriage and civil rights could be undone next in the wake of a leaked draft opinion showing the Supreme Court is set to overturn abortion rights.The Supreme Court "isn't just coming for abortion - they're coming for the right to privacy Roe rests on, which includes gay marriage + civil rights," Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted on Monday.Legal scholar Laurence Tribe wrote on Twitter that next steps may include a "nationwide abortion ban, followed by a push to roll back rights to contraception, same-sex marriage, sexual privacy, and the full array of textually unenumerated rights long taken for granted." Read Full StorySCOTUS leaked draft opinion is unprecedented, but details about Court deliberations have been made public beforeCaroline McDonald, left, a student at Georgetown University, Lauren Morrissey, with Catholics for Choice, and Pamela Huber, of Washington, join a pro-choice rally outside the Supreme Court, Monday, Nov. 1, 2021, as arguments are set to begin about abortion by the court, on Capitol Hill in Washington.AP Photo/Jacquelyn MartinThe leaked draft opinion seemingly showing that the Supreme Court is poised to overturn Roe v. Wade is certainly unprecedented. An entire draft opinion has never been leaked like this before. But details about justices' deliberations have been made public before — for example a 1972 memo about Roe that was leaked to the Washington Post before it became public. Read Full StoryBiden has been reluctant to say the word 'abortion' throughout his termPresident Joe Biden has been reluctant to publicly say the word "abortion" since he took office in January 2021.According to CNN, he has never said the word "abortion" out loud and used it a few times in some written statements. During his presidential campaign, Biden promised to codify the landmark 1973 ruling in Roe v. Wade.Read Full StoryDemocrats want to 'codify Roe,' but it's unlikely to succeedSenate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer discusses efforts to codify Roe v. Wade into law this past February.Win McNamee/Getty ImagesIn the wake of the leaked draft Supreme Court opinion, Democrats have quickly organized to codify Roe v. Wade and make it a law.One thing stopping Democrats' efforts, however, is the Senate filibuster. Democrats are currently focusing on the Women's Health Protection Act as a way to protect women's' federal right to abortion. Read Full StoryA constitutional amendment protecting abortion rights is nearly impossible to get throughThe First Printing of the Final Text of the United States Constitution is on display during a press preview at Sotheby's on September 17, 2021 in New York City.Photo by Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty ImagesAmending the Constitution is extremely difficult and rare. An amendment protecting abortion rights is nearly impossible.Abortion rights amendments have previously been proposed by both supporters and opponents. In the 233-year-long lifespan of the Constitution, it has only been amended 27 times — most recently in 1992 — and would require massive support in Congress and among states.  Read Full StoryLegal experts are shocked the drafted decision leakedSeated from left: Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, John Roberts, Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor, Standing from left: Brett Kavanaugh, Elena Kagan, Neil Gorsuch and Amy Coney Barrett.Erin Schaff-Pool/Getty ImagesLegal experts have expressed shock at the fact that a draft opinion from the Supreme Court was leaked to Politico. "The fact that it leaked is, to me, the most surprising thing," Harvard Law School professor I. Glenn Cohen told Insider.Mark Kende, a law professor at Drake University, told Insider that it's "highly disturbing that the opinion was improperly leaked in an unprecedented way, presumably by someone at the Court."Read Full StoryTop Democrats slam SCOTUS justices for 'one of the worst' decisions in historySenate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Designate Nancy Pelosi.AP Photo/J. Scott ApplewhiteHouse Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer slammed the potential Supreme Court ruling as  "one of the worst and most damaging decisions in modern history."Their remarks came in response to a leaked draft opinion published by Politico that appears to show the Supreme Court is set to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade case. "If the report is accurate, the Supreme Court is poised to inflict the greatest restriction of rights in the past fifty years – not just on women but on all Americans," Pelosi and Schumer said in a joint statement. Read Full StoryProtesters in support of Roe v. Wade gathered outside Supreme CourtPro-choice and anti-abortion activist rally outside of the U.S. Supreme Court on May 02, 2022 in Washington, DC. In an initial draft majority opinion obtained by Politico, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito allegedly wrote that the cases Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood of Southeastern v. Casey should be overruled, which would end federal protection of abortion rights across the country.Kevin Dietsch/Getty ImagesHundreds of protestors gathered outside the Supreme Court in Washington, DC, late on Monday night after Politico published a leaked draft opinion suggesting that Roe v. Wade was poised to be overturned. "I got down here early, right, cause I got home from a long day kicked off shoes my shoes, opened Twitter, saw that Roe v. Wade was trending to be overturned, put my shoes back on, and came right back from east of the river," Rev. Wendy Hamilton, a Democratic congressional candidate from DC, told Insider. Read Full StoryLeaked draft opinion shows SCOTUS set to overturn Roe v. WadeThe U.S. Supreme Court building is seen at sunset in Washington on Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021.Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty ImagesA leaked draft opinion obtained by Politico appears to show that the Supreme Court is poised to overturn the 1973 landmark Roe v. Wade ruling that granted women the constitutional right to an abortion.Politico late Monday published the 98-page initial draft majority opinion, purportedly authored by Justice Samuel Alito who said Roe was "egregiously wrong from the start.""We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled," the draft opinion says, labeled as the "Opinion of the Court," according to the report.The decision — if finalized — would mark a momentous shift in constitutional rights. Over a dozen GOP states have laws that would immediately restrict abortion access if Roe v. Wade is overturned. Read Full StoryRead the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMay 4th, 2022

Twitter Employees Have Spent Years Trying to Make the Platform Safer. Elon Musk Could Undermine All That

Twitter employees told TIME that the billionaire's record bodes poorly for the company's anti-harassment efforts There’s an old joke among Twitter employees that being on the platform is like playing a huge online multiplayer game where every day there’s a different main character—meaning a person who’s critiqued, harassed, or otherwise shoved into the spotlight. According to the joke, you have just one goal in the game of Twitter: never become that main character yourself. One day in 2018, Twitter’s main character was Vernon Unsworth, a British diver who’d spent days assisting the rescue of a group of Thai boys trapped in a flooded cave. After billionaire Elon Musk offered a miniscule submarine to the rescue divers, Unsworth told the media that Musk’s idea was just a useless PR stunt. Musk then took to Twitter, where (in tweets that he later deleted) he baselessly accused the man of being a “pedo guy,” or pedophile. The tweets prompted hundreds of Musk fans to pile on to the diver with abusive, humiliating attacks. Musk subsequently apologized for the tweets in court, saying he did not mean for them to be taken literally. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] Illustration by Tim O’Brien for TIME The saga was an example of dogpiling: a phenomenon in which powerful Twitter users spur legions of their fans to harass someone else. For years, teams of Twitter employees have been working—albeit with limited successes—to reduce dogpiling and other common forms of abuse. On April 25, those Twitter employees learned that Musk, architect of the “pedo guy” saga, could become their new boss—after the board accepted a $44 billion dollar bid from the world’s richest man. In statement announcing that Twitter had agreed to let him purchase the social network, the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX spoke in grandiose terms familiar to anyone who follows his pronouncements on colonizing Mars or building electric vehicles: “Free speech is the bedrock of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated.” 🚀💫♥️ Yesss!!! ♥️💫🚀 pic.twitter.com/0T9HzUHuh6 — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 25, 2022 But many on the frontlines of the fight for democratic spaces online have questioned whether Musk’s ownership of Twitter would undermine, rather than bolster, democracy. To employees who had witnessed Musk’s own behavior on the platform, the billionaire’s words about freedom of speech rang hollow. With more than 85 million followers, Musk has used his influential account to not only direct insults at critics and share memes about going to the bathroom, but also, according to regulators, to make “false and misleading public statements” that boosted Tesla’s stock price and harmed investors. Some Twitter employees believe this record bodes especially poorly for the company’s anti-harassment efforts. “Multiple times, his followers have been the perpetrators of targeted harassment, and the use of his profile has encouraged dogpiling—which are the exact behaviors we’re trying to limit,” said an employee on Twitter’s platform health team, which works on making the site a safer online space for users. “Since Trump was banned, Musk has become Twitter’s power user number one,” the person said. The employee, who was not authorized to speak publicly, added that they feared a Musk acquisition would at the very least reduce user trust in Twitter’s anti-abuse efforts, and at worst could result in the work being deprioritized or canceled. Members of marginalized communities—who are disproportionately the victims of online threats and abuse—are among those most protected by Twitter’s current content moderation system. Activists from these communities share Twitter employees’ concerns that those protections could be rolled back. “If Elon Musk were to take over, the damage that would be done would spread from Twitter workers not being able to implement the things they need in order to keep the platform safe,” Jelani Drew-Davi, a campaign manager at the digital civil rights group Kairos, told TIME in the days leading up to the deal. As an example of Musk’s record on similar matters, Drew-Davi cited a lawsuit alleging a culture of rampant racist abuse toward Black workers in a Tesla factory in California. Since the explosion of social media usage more than a decade ago, researchers and technologists have forged an understanding of the ways that the design of social media sites has an impact on civic discourse and, ultimately, democratic processes. One of their key findings: sites that privilege free speech above all else tend to become spaces where civic discourse is drowned out by harassment, restricting participation to a privileged few. That finding has informed Twitter’s recent work. While the company does remove tweets and ban accounts of severe offenders, much of its current approach focuses on nudging users to be kinder. Before Musk’s bid, one of the platform’s stated priorities was facilitating “safe, inclusive, and authentic conversations.” It has also pledged to “minimize the distribution and reach of harmful or misleading information, especially when its intent is to disrupt a civic process or cause offline harm.” In cases where tweets are found to be bad for civic discourse but not illegal—like misinformation or insults—tweets can be removed from recommendation algorithms, meaning that Twitter doesn’t boost them into the feeds of users who do not follow their author directly, rather than deleted from the platform entirely. It is unclear whether these policies will continue under the ownership of Musk, who has railed against what he calls “shadow bans.” “In a way, [Musk’s] goals are aligned with ours in that we are certainly interested in protecting democracy,” says the Twitter employee on the health team. “But the idea of bringing more free speech to the platform exposes his naiveté with respect to the nuts and bolts. A lot of platforms [have been] founded on this free speech principle, but the reality is that either they become a cesspool that people don’t want to use, or they realize that there is actually the need for some level of moderation.” Business analysts point out that content moderation is good for profits, too. “Without vigorous content moderation, the platform Musk seeks to own would be swamped by spam, porn, anti-vaccination misinformation, QAnon conspiracies, and fraudulent campaigns to undermine the midterms and 2024 presidential election,” said Paul Barrett, deputy director of the NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights, in a statement. “That’s not a business that most social media users or advertisers would want to associate with.” Musk’s takeover deal wasn’t a straightforward tale. It took several twists and turns, as funding looked doubtful and Twitter’s board of directors seemed reticent, adopting a strategy known as a “poison pill” to ward off a takeover. Throughout, Musk cast his quest as flying in the face of intransigent Silicon Valley elites. His statements on free speech often align with Republican talking-points that conservatives are being unfairly censored by tech companies, and—in a move that could open the door for former President Donald Trump’s return to the platform—Musk has said that he would prefer “time-outs” for users who break the site’s rules, rather than permanent bans. (Twitter banned Trump permanently after Jan. 6, 2021, for incitement to violence during his attempt to undemocratically overturn the results of the 2020 election.) Read more: What Elon Musk’s Purchase of Twitter Could Mean for Donald Trump’s Account The debate over transparency on Twitter Alongside vague commitments including adding an edit button and getting rid of spam on the platform, Musk’s most substantial call has been for Twitter to be more transparent about its decision-making. He wants it to “open source” its algorithm, so users can find out when Twitter has stopped recommending their tweets to other users. “That action should be made apparent,” he said at an April 14 TED conference, “so there’s no behind the scenes manipulation, either algorithmically or manually.” But employees who work in the trenches of content moderation say that, while total transparency is a noble goal, informing users about which specific tweets are being “down-ranked” would in practice give bad actors helpful information about how to evade limits on spam, misinformation and hate speech. Indeed, Twitter is already among the most transparent of all social networks in terms of sharing how its algorithm works, as well as researching its own flaws and sharing the results publicly. That research suggests that in practice, more conservative views may have benefited most from the design of Twitter’s algorithm. Last October, Twitter released research showing that its algorithm was acting suspiciously: in the runup to the 2020 election in the U.S., rightwing partisan news sources received a greater boost from Twitter’s algorithm than moderate or left-leaning news sources. The research also found a similar effect for politicians in six out of the seven countries studied, including the U.S. It showed that Twitter’s algorithm recommended, to more users, posts by politicians from mainstream rightwing parties than those from centrist or leftwing parties. Six months on, that team is continuing its work looking at algorithmic bias, amid suggestions from some conservatives that such work means meddling with freedom of speech. Early indications suggest, according to Twitter, that the platform’s boosting of center-right politicians isn’t an intrinsic quality of its algorithm. Instead, researchers have found that amplification shifts over time in line with the topics people care about and changes in how users behave. The data is helping the researchers begin to arrive at an understanding of Twitter as a “sociotechnical system,” with definitions about what constitutes normal and abnormal levels of algorithmic amplification of political content. Such an understanding may one day allow the company to intervene when dangerous real-world events are unfolding. But doing so would be a political intervention necessarily based on Twitter’s values as a company. Overnight, those values appear to have changed from “facilitating healthy conversation” to Musk’s self-professed free speech “absolutism.” Read more: Why Elon Musk’s Plans to ‘Fix’ Twitter Will Be Harder to Implement Than He Thinks On Twitter, where discourse is limited at 280 characters per tweet, nuanced discussion of complex research and value judgments isn’t easy—and in the febrile climate, even Twitter’s own employees run the risk of becoming Twitter’s dreaded main character. Rumman Chowdhury, the leader of the team that carried out the algorithmic amplification research, suggested in a series of tweets that she was opposed to Musk buying the company, though she did not say that this was out of a fear that his takeover would spell an end to her work. Instead, her comments appeared to reference his capacity to weaponize Twitter mobs against critics. “Musk’s immediate chilling effect was something that bothered me significantly,” she wrote. “Twitter has a beautiful culture of hilarious constructive criticism, and I saw that go silent because of his minions attacking employees.” Soon enough, she muted her notifications on the thread, adding: “the trolls have descended.”.....»»

Category: topSource: timeApr 26th, 2022

Brandon Smith: Leftists Are Angry About The Florida Anti-Grooming Law Because They Want Your Children

Brandon Smith: Leftists Are Angry About The Florida Anti-Grooming Law Because They Want Your Children Authored by Brandon Smith via Alt-Market.us, Why would someone be enraged by a law that prevents teachers from exposing children to sexual indoctrination and demands parents are kept in the loop on classroom lessons? It’s obvious; they’re mad because they like the idea of grooming kids and they don’t want the process interfered with in any way. First, however, I think we need to understand what grooming really is, and it’s not only about sex. One of the most pervasive cancers within our society today is social justice based communism. In every way the ideology is predicated on lies and disinformation, but this deceit is merely a tool to achieve an end goal – The reeducation or brainwashing of future generations into the leftist fold. Leftists often talk about notions of “community,” but community is a voluntary structure. When they say they want “community” what they really mean is that they want collectivism, and collectivism is by definition NOT voluntary but forced through violence or coercion or propaganda. To these ends, leftists seem to have gravitated like sharks into the public school system, specifically to prey on the easiest targets in the ocean; your children. I’ve recently heard the argument that the Florida bill should not be called an Anti-Grooming bill because “not all gay people are groomers.” I don’t think anyone made that claim anyway. What we are saying, though, is that all SJWs are indeed groomers and this is the root problem. They have been doing this in subtle ways for many years, but in the past 5 years their methods have become rather careless and obscene. The grooming of children in today’s public schools is not only relegated to sexualization, it also involves ideological molding and cultism. When leftists refer to Florida Bill 1557 they call it the “Don’t Say Gay Bill,” but this has nothing to do with the basic notion of homosexuality, this is about the political weaponization of homosexuality and transexuality (among other things). This is about using sexual orientation to propagandize children and create new little soldiers for communist social justice. Just as I have said many times in the past when it comes to pop culture and movies, the existence of gay people or “diversity” is not the problem, it’s the communism that’s the problem. We don’t want your communism infecting our entertainment and we certainly don’t want it around our children. Set aside the fact that there is no science whatsoever to support the concepts of gender fluidity that are usually addressed in these lessons. Some Florida teachers and SJWs are up in arms this week as Governor Ron DeSantis signs the dreaded 1557 bill into law. The claim? That this bill is somehow a violation of their free speech rights. Watch the news report below for an example: First, I think this needs to be said – Public school teachers are not important. I’m sure there are many good ones out there and this is not an attack on them. What I am saying is, the glorification and worship of teachers is out of place in our society and completely overblown. At some point along the line leftists in particular decided that teachers are the emissaries of moral order and equity and their jobs should be treated as sacrosanct. This is nonsense. Teachers are mere employees of the district they work in, that is all. Parents pay the taxes that pay their salaries. The parents are the employers, the parents are the boss and what they say goes. Teachers need to understand this; the parents own you, so get used to the idea. You are not special. Furthermore, the views expressed in the interview with the gay Florida teacher above showcase some unhinged misconceptions and assumptions. First, the new law does not say that a teacher is not allowed to mention they are gay, but frankly, NO teacher should be discussing their private lives with their students anyway. At no point in my childhood did I ever hear a teacher talk about their home lives or who they were sleeping with; this is a new trend within the past decade. Not long ago teachers specifically avoided such idiocy in order to prevent rumors from circulating through the school halls about them. And yes, we did have at least one gay teacher, and he never discussed it in the classroom, ever. His job was not under threat for doing so, he was just a professional. This kind of professionalism is not acceptable to leftists because they view the classroom as more than just a place of academia, they view it as a place for engineering conformity, as well as a personal therapy bubble for themselves. I can’t count how many videos I have seen in the past few years of teachers “coming out” to their students in a desperate play for attention and applause. The narcissism inherent in this behavior is stunning. Teachers have turned theirs classrooms into environmental extensions of their own mental deformities and insecurities and now lay these problems in the hands students. The invasion of trans and gender fluid rhetoric, along with critical race theory, is at times about the ego of the teacher, but it is also at times a game meant to inspire submission in the group. When a teacher walks into a classroom and starts bloviating about their sexual identity and pronouns looking for approval from the children, how often are those children allowed to disagree with the concepts? When they do disagree, how often do these teachers use their position of authority to hound these students into silence or submission? How often do teachers inspire mob mentality in other students and encourage them to go on the attack against any kids who don’t conform? This is a major threat to the psychological health and development of children. Florida leftists are complaining that they must now walk on eggshells in terms of what they say in the classroom, but they have never had a problem making students walk on eggshells when it comes to what they are allowed to disagree with in the classroom. The interesting thing about all this is the SJW response to being called out, or being caught. Even after years of bragging about how they are indoctrinating children in their classes all over social media, they will inevitably claim that laws like those implemented in the Florida bill are pointless because the agenda “doesn’t exist.” That’s right, all that excited blabbering on twitter and Tiktok about luring kids into gender bending and the religion of pronouns, and suddenly conservatives are just “overreacting” or “paranoid?” In countries like Canada, LGBT indoctrination is the norm in some schools and has been for several years, yet we are supposed to believe that there is no plan to do the same in the US? LGBT activists have declared in the past that they are “coming for our children.” The typical M.O. of leftist activists is to openly admit their agenda and then when they get blowback they didn’t expect they claim it was all “satire.” You remember this little gem of a video? Leftists say this is all little more than a joke, but their actions say otherwise. Monty Python is satire. Blazing Saddles is satire. The above video is definitely not satire. Leftists in our modern era have no understanding of satire so the argument rings pretty hollow. They do understand gaslighting though, and when all else fails SJWs exploit this common fallback. It’s in their nature to lie while doubling down. At bottom, if there is no need for the Florida law to exist because there is no indoctrination going on in classrooms, then these teachers have nothing to worry about and should not be complaining. Why complain if there is no agenda? It is here that I think we need to address a bigger issue which SJWs often screech about, and that’s the idea of “Gatekeeping.” I’m going to say it right here and now: GATEKEEPING IS GOOD. It always has been and it always will be. The idea that we must be accepting of everyone all the time is foolish and insane. Some people are not compatible with truth or with reason, and they need to be kept away from vulnerable institutions such as schools and away from innocent children that make up the lifeblood of our future. The conservative argument has always been that not all change is good, and not all change is progress. Some changes are regressive rather than progressive. Some changes are simply designed to do harm, and some people are simply evil. Discrimination in some respects is absolutely necessary in order for our core values and principles to survive. There are times when discrimination is necessary for our very nation and culture to survive. Leftists always turn to the old standby argument when they are faced with the prospect that the culture at large does not want them around; they cry that “We live in a democracy” and inclusion is somehow a prerequisite. In other words, if you go against them you are going against your own values of freedom. This is nonsense. We are not a democracy, of course, we are a democratic republic and there is a big difference, but that is a discussion for another article. According to the non-aggression principle, freedom does not apply to the people that are trying to destroy it. Leftists do not get to target freedom for destruction and then cry victim and proclaim their love of freedom when people get in their way. Gatekeeping is good because certain pillars of our society need to be kept inoculated against the destructive methods of the political left. These people do not belong here. They do not deserve freedom, and they do not deserve to live among people that actually love freedom. The debate on anti-grooming is really a debate on the necessity of gatekeeping. Leftists support it when they think they are in control and they attack it when they think it’s going to be used against them. I can’t imagine any area of our culture more vital to protect than our children; and this is where gatekeeping must be employed with full force and without mercy. Florida is doing it right, let’s hope the rest of the country follows their example. *  *  * If you would like to support the work that Alt-Market does while also receiving content on advanced tactics for defeating the globalist agenda, subscribe to our exclusive newsletter The Wild Bunch Dispatch.  Learn more about it HERE. Tyler Durden Wed, 03/30/2022 - 23:40.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytMar 31st, 2022

Brandon Smith: Trans Women Are Men And Pretending Otherwise Is Cultural Insanity

Brandon Smith: Trans Women Are Men And Pretending Otherwise Is Cultural Insanity Authored by Brandon Smith via Alt-Market.us, Let’s get a few points out of the way before anything else is said: There is ZERO scientific evidence to support the notion of gender self identification. There is ZERO scientific evidence to support the claim that gender is merely a social construct. There is more evidence that biology determines gender behaviors and manhood and womanhood are inborn psychological constructs. The vast majority of people develop gender associations directly in line with their biology. Men act like men, women act like women, and these behaviors have been established as biological fact from the beginning of recorded history. Men and women are biologically different in many respects, even down to how our brains function. Biological sex and gender related behavior are based mostly in nature, not mostly in environment. However, the gender identity religion has deemed these concepts a form of bigotry. The situation has become so unhinged that leftists are now referring to real women as “bleeders” or “people who menstruate,” as if this is the only biological difference between them and trans women. Regardless of how one is positioned on the topic, if you are honest you have to admit that transgenderism today is a political issue, not a scientific issue. In the past few years we have seen government funded and globalist foundation funded scientists politicized by the gender issue. But, again, they have zero evidence to support their claims that gender is changeable and malleable. Interestingly, they now argue both sides: That gender is purely a social construct, and that gender is biologically linked and hardwired. The two ideas are mutually exclusive, but hey, we’re living in clown world now, so we should just shut up and enjoy the ride… Are there people out there who feel as though their mental acclimation is not the same as their biological acclimation? Yes, there are exceptions to the rule. In most legitimate cases these people suffer from a mental illness called “gender dysphoria.” It’s a relatively harmless psychological problem (except that it tends to cause depression and suicidal tendencies for the trans person); these people are not a threat to me or to you and their existence in our society is not really our concern, unless, that is, they make it our concern. For some reason, the authoritarian political left has elevated the transsexual issue to the very top of their oppression Olympics. It’s hard to say why, but they have taken a “group” which represents around 0.4% of the population and determined that they are the pinnacle of the victim totem pole and that the rest of the world needs to walk on egg shells whenever dealing with them. But let’s look at this situation objectively for a moment, shall we? The trans community is considered a designated “oppressed minority,” but it’s one that any person can join for any reason. It’s not really a minority group so much as a club, and clubs can become trendy when they are marketed effectively. I don’t have to actually have gender dysphoria to join this club, all I have to do is CLAIM that I identify as trans and, suddenly, I am now part of an oppressed class. The problem is, trans people are not oppressed, at least not in the west. What the political left deems “oppression” is rather confused and convoluted. In their terminology, oppressing them means not letting them do whatever the hell they please regardless of how destructive their intent. You are victimizing them by not letting them victimize you. Let’s expand on that in trans terms: If a man claims he is a woman and is trans, that person now has the social power to demand that the rest of us identify him as a woman and use the pronouns he prefers. In other words, if tomorrow I claim I am trans (even though it’s not true) I then have the right to control your speech. And yes, it is absolutely as simple as that according to leftists. A vivid example of this control dynamic is the reaction to the recently passed Florida Anti-Grooming Bill, which SJWs and the media dishonestly labeled the “Don’t Say Gay Bill.” Here we have a law based in logic and reason which victimizes no one, turned into a circus under accusations of bigotry and discrimination. What does the bill do? It prevents public school teachers from exposing children as young as Kindergarten to discussions on sexuality and gender identity, and requires that they talk to parents about their child’s exposure to any such lessons. In other words, Florida is telling teachers they’re not allowed to propagandize children with their cultist nonsense and groom them into the SJW/trans fold. Public school teachers are paid by the state and the taxes that parents pay to the state. The teachers work for the parents; the parents are the boss. But leftists don’t see it that way. They say it’s about free speech, and at bottom they they aren’t school employees, they are evangelists for the social justice cause. They are widely against religious ideas being taught in schools, unless it’s their own religion. The truth is they are zealots. They believe their ideology supersedes all other concerns and that they have the right to mold your children into that ideology without your approval because they believe you are too ignorant to understand the “greater good” that is being done. The anti-grooming bill was designed to protect young children from sexual indoctrination, and leftists are furious about it. They claim ownership of your children, and the trans agenda is a big part of the molding process that leftist teachers say they have a right to pursue. As you can imagine, the temptation for narcissistic and sociopathic miscreants to jump on the trans bandwagon is immense. All they have to do to gain control over the people around them is to join a gender identity group? All they have to do to get special treatment and privileges is proclaim they are discriminated against? For people without conscience this is an exciting new world where their narcissism is applauded and protected. If people don’t comply, they are “oppressing” the trans individual and are now automatically bigots. Frankly, I will never refer to a trans person according to their preferred pronouns. Why? Because this is a lie. They are not what they claim to be. Their internal fantasies are irrelevant to the facts, and their feelings do not matter where the truth is concerned. There is no such thing as “their truth,” there is only THE TRUTH. If the issue at hand is gender dysphoria, then we must approach it like any other mental illness. When dealing with a schizophrenic that believes he is Napoleon or Elvis Presley, we don’t demand that the whole of society agrees with him and enables his fantasies and makes laws protecting the validity of his delusions, right? We ignore his fantasies; we don’t adapt our entire culture to his whims. Why are we doing this with trans activists? Much of what the political left does involves making their problems into your problems, and it’s mostly about control, not equality. They claim they are victims, and therefore they believe they have the right to determine what is oppression and what is bigotry. I ask, who made them the virtue police and how are they actually qualified? Most of these people are so stunted and biased they hardly measure up to the high standards that would be required to pass such objective judgments. Leftists aren’t the most virtuous, they are the most unstable, and yet they are being positioned as the arbiters of our morality. I focus on trans women specifically in this article because while there are women who pretend they are men, these women generally aren’t trying to invade men’s spaces and take them over. There is something rather predatory and malicious about the trans woman aspect of this movement. Most of the world is probably now familiar with the bizarre case of Lia Thomas (aka William Thomas), a biological man cosplaying as a woman so that he can compete in the women’s NCAA swimming championships and destroy all the other real women competitors. Leftists argue that keeping Lia Thomas and those like him out of women’s competitions would be oppressive, but is it really? Is acknowledging scientific fact “bigotry?” The most glaring catalyst for the whole scenario is feminism. It’s ironic that feminists have misrepresented the male-to-female social dynamic for so long that regular women actually began to believe the leftist world view, and now it’s coming back to bite them on the ass. For decades, feminists have been arguing that women and men are equal in every possible way, including in physicality. This delusion has become dangerously pervasive, not just in Hollywood but in the real world. We have even had the US military recently attempting to integrate women into frontline combat and ranger battalion roles, to the point that they had to rig the standards in the women’s favor just so they could pass the grueling tests. Other more honest experiments, such as those conducted by the US Marines into mixed gender units, show that this is a terrible idea. Not only are mixed units distracted by sexual concern, but male/female units perform poorly in almost every area of training compared to all male units. Today, the trans athlete issue is proving beyond a doubt that men are physically superior to women. There is no debate. Even Lia Thomas, a man ranked in the 400s in male swimming, has dominated women’s swimming easily. The examples are becoming widespread, from women’s weightlifting to women’s MMA fighting and women’s track and field. If you want to crush the competition in women’s sports, all you have to be is a man. If women want to save their sports, they are going to have to admit that the feminists were wrong and that men are physically superior. And, this is probably one of the primary reasons why very few women in sports have spoken up. They have been conditioned for so long to notions of equity, they can’t handle the truth of biological reality. The other reason is that if they do speak up they face the prospect of becoming social pariahs and being ostracize. Of course, the majority of Americans think cancel culture is garbage, but the political left controls the corporate environment including Big Tech and most of government; they can make it appear as if they are the majority when they are not. Even if they were the majority that does not mean they are not crazy. It is pure madness to deny facts that are right in front of your face just to achieve political ends, but leftists have been doing this for some time now. There are trans people that are not on board with the leftist agenda. Bruce Jenner (aka Caitlyn Jenner) has been surprisingly outspoken against woke propaganda. Blair White is another example of an anti-leftist trans figure willing to speak out. The liberty movement and conservatives have widely embraced them even though leftists claim we “hate” trans people and want to see them erased. The fact is that most of us don’t care what people do in their private lives. But, when you weaponize and politicize your sexual proclivities and declare that we owe you something, that’s when we’re going to have a problem. Ultimately, the trans community is so minuscule it begs the question – Why are these people relevant in the grand scheme of things? Because leftists see an opportunity to use them as tools for social derailment? Why are leftists so obsessed with the idea of indoctrinating children into the trans fold? Why are they so interested in undermining biological fact? What is it with leftists and their need to turn the world upside down? Many of them know, deep down, that the ideologies they preach are not based in truth. They know that they lie, and some of them are openly proud when their lies prove effective. They are clearly not interested in enlightenment, they are only interested in winning. But what does it mean for the political left to “win.” Well, in Marxist/communist terms, winning means destroying everything and tearing the target society down to nothing. And if that’s what winning is to them, I’m more than happy to act as a gatekeeper that shuts them down and keeps them out as much as possible. Gatekeeping in this case is good. It’s sad that real people with real gender dysphoria are caught in the middle of this battle for the stability of our society. They should no be used as pawns in the culture war. But then again, perhaps it’s time for more of them to speak up if they are not in support of the woke agenda. I think this farce has gone on long enough, don’t you? As insane as leftists are, maybe we are more insane for letting the patients run the asylum. *  *  * If you would like to support the work that Alt-Market does while also receiving content on advanced tactics for defeating the globalist agenda, subscribe to our exclusive newsletter The Wild Bunch Dispatch.  Learn more about it HERE. Tyler Durden Fri, 03/25/2022 - 23:40.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytMar 26th, 2022

2021 Greatest Hits: The Most Popular Articles Of The Past Year And A Look Ahead

2021 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 2020, we said that the year would be a very tough act to follow as there "could not have been more regime shifts, volatility moments, and memes than 2020." And yet despite the exceedingly high bar for 2021, the year did not disappoint and proved to be a successful contender, and if judging by the sheer breadth of narratives, stories, surprises, plot twists and unexpected developments, 2021 was even more memorable and event-filled than 2020. Where does one start? While covid was the story of 2020, the pandemic that emerged out of a (Fauci-funded) genetic lab team in Wuhan, China dominated newsflow, politics and capital markets for the second year in a row. And while the biggest plot twist of 2020 was Biden's victory over Trump in the presidential election (it took the pandemic lockdowns and mail-in ballots to hand the outcome to Biden), largely thanks to Covid, Biden failed to hold to his biggest presidential promise of defeating covid, and not only did he admit in late 2021 that there is "no Federal solution" to covid waving a white flag of surrender less than a year into his presidency, but following the recent emergence of the Xi, pardon Omicron variant, the number of covid cases in the US has just shattered all records. The silver lining is not only that deaths and hospitalizations have failed to follow the number of cases, but that the scaremongering narrative itself is starting to melt in response to growing grassroots discontent with vaccine after vaccine and booster after booster, which by now it is clear, do nothing to contain the pandemic. And now that it is clear that omicron is about as mild as a moderate case of the flu, the hope has finally emerged that this latest strain will finally kill off the pandemic as it becomes the dominant, rapidly-spreading variant, leading to worldwide herd immunity thanks to the immune system's natural response. Yes, it may mean billions less in revenue for Pfizer and Moderna, but it will be a colossal victory for the entire world. The second biggest story of 2021 was undoubtedly the scourge of soaring inflation, which contrary to macrotourist predictions that it would prove "transitory", refused to do so and kept rising, and rising, and rising, until it hit levels not seen since the Volcker galloping inflation days of the 1980s. The only difference of course is that back then, the Fed Funds rate hit 20%. Now it is at 0%, and any attempts to hike aggressively will lead to a horrific market crash, something the Fed knows very well. Whether this was due to supply-chain blockages and a lack of goods and services pushing prices higher, or due to massive stimulus pushing demand for goods - and also prices - higher, or simply the result of a record injection of central bank liquidity into the system, is irrelevant but what does matter is that it got so bad that even Biden, facing a mauling for his Democratic party in next year's midterm elections, freaked out about soaring prices and pushed hard to lower the price of gasoline, ordering releases from the US Strategic Petroleum Reserve and vowing to punish energy companies that dare to make a profit, while ordering Powell to contain the surge in prices even if means the market is hit. Unfortunately for Biden, the market will be hit even as inflation still remain red hot for much of the coming year. And speaking of markets, while 2022 may be a year when the piper finally gets paid, 2021 was yet another blockbuster year for risk assets, largely on the back of the continued global response to the 2020 covid pandemic, when as we wrote last year, we saw "the official arrival of global Helicopter Money, tens of trillions in fiscal and monetary stimulus, an overhaul of the global economy punctuated by an unprecedented explosion in world debt, an Orwellian crackdown on civil liberties by governments everywhere, and ultimately set the scene for what even the World Economic Forum called simply "The Great Reset." Yes, the staggering liquidity injections that started in 2020, continued throughout 2021 and 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 almost $2 trillion in the subsequent period, of which $1.5 trillion 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 (i.e., MMT) in 2020. It's also why with inflation running red hot and real rates the lowest they have ever been, everyone was forced to rush into the "safety" of stocks (or stonks as they came to be known among GenZ), and why after last year's torrid stock market returns, the S&P rose another 27% in 2021 and up a staggering 114% from the March 2020 lows, in the process trouncing all previous mega-rallies (including those in 1929, 1938, 1974 and 2009)... ... making this the third consecutive year of double-digit returns. This reminds us of something we said last year: "it's almost as if the world's richest asset owners requested the covid pandemic." A year later, we got confirmation for this rhetorical statement, when we calculated that in the 18 months since the covid pandemic, the richest 1% of US society have seen their net worth increase by over $30 trillion. As a result, the US is now officially 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 as of June, the lowest in Federal Reserve data, while for the first time the super rich had a bigger share, at 27%. Yes, the 1% now own more wealth than the entire US middle class, a definition traditionally reserve for kleptocracies and despotic African banana republics. It wasn't just the rich, however: politicians the world over would benefit from the transition from QE to outright helicopter money and MMT which made the over monetization of deficits widely accepted in the blink of an eye. The common theme here is simple: no matter what happens, capital markets can never again be allowed to drop, regardless of the cost or how much more debt has to be incurred. Indeed, as we look back at the news barrage over the past year, and past decade for that matter, the one thing that becomes especially clear amid the constant din of markets, of politics, of social upheaval and geopolitical strife - and now pandemics -  in fact a world that is so flooded with constant conflicting newsflow and changing storylines that many now say it has become virtually impossible to even try to predict the future, is that despite the people's desire for change, for something original and untried, the world's established forces will not allow it and will fight to preserve the broken status quo at any price - even global coordinated shutdowns - which is perhaps why it always boils down to one thing - capital markets, that bedrock of Western capitalism and the "modern way of life", where control, even if it means central planning the likes of which have not been seen since the days of the USSR, and an upward trajectory must be preserved at all costs, as the alternative is a global, socio-economic collapse. And since it is the daily gyrations of stocks that sway popular moods the interplay between capital markets and politics has never been more profound or more consequential. The more powerful message here is the implicit realization and admission by politicians, not just Trump who had a penchant of tweeting about the S&P every time it rose, but also his peers on both sides of the aisle, that the stock market is now seen as the consummate barometer of one's political achievements and approval. Which is also why capital markets are now, more than ever, a political tool whose purpose is no longer to distribute capital efficiently and discount the future, but to manipulate voter sentiments far more efficiently than any fake Russian election interference attempt ever could. Which brings us back to 2021 and the past decade, which was best summarized by a recent Bill Blain article who said that "the last 10-years has been a story of massive central banking distortion to address the 2008 crisis. Now central banks face the consequences and are trapped. The distortion can’t go uncorrected indefinitely." He is right: the distortion will eventually collapse especially if the Fed follows through with its attempt rate hikes some time in mid-2020, but so far the establishment and the "top 1%" have been successful - perhaps the correct word is lucky - in preserving the value of risk assets: on the back of the Fed's firehose of liquidity the S&P500 returned an impressive 27% in 2021, following a 15.5% return in 2020 and 28.50% in 2019. It did so by staging the greatest rally off all time from the March lows, surpassing all of the 4 greatest rallies off the lows of the past century (1929,1938, 1974, and 2009). Yet 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. And while the Fed was the dynamo that has propelled markets higher ever since the Lehman collapse, last year certainly had its share of breakout moments. Here is a sampling. Gamestop and the emergence of meme stonks and the daytrading apes: In January markets were hypnotized by the massive trading volumes, rolling short squeezes and surging share prices of unremarkable established companies such as consoles retailer GameStop and cinema chain AMC and various other micro and midcap names. What began as a discussion on untapped value at GameStop on Reddit months earlier by Keith Gill, better known as Roaring Kitty, morphed into a hedge fund-orchestrated, crowdsourced effort to squeeze out the short position held by a hedge fund, Melvin Capital. The momentum flooded through the retail market, where daytraders shunned stocks and bought massive out of the money calls, sparking rampant "gamma squeezes" in the process forcing some brokers to curb trading. Robinhood, a popular broker for day traders and Citadel's most lucrative "subsidiary", required a cash injection to withstand the demands placed on it by its clearing house. The company IPOed later in the year only to see its shares collapse as it emerged its business model was disappointing hollow absent constant retail euphoria. Ultimately, the market received a crash course in the power of retail investors on a mission. Ultimately, "retail favorite" stocks ended the year on a subdued note as the trading frenzy from earlier in the year petered out, but despite underperforming the S&P500, retail traders still outperformed hedge funds by more than 100%. Failed seven-year Treasury auction:  Whereas auctions of seven-year US government debt generally spark interest only among specialists, on on February 25 2021, one such typically boring event sparked shockwaves across financial markets, as the weakest demand on record hit prices across the whole spectrum of Treasury bonds. The five-, seven- and 10-year notes all fell sharply in price. Researchers at the Federal Reserve called it a “flash event”; we called it a "catastrophic, tailing" auction, the closest thing the US has had to a failed Trasury auction. The flare-up, as the FT put it, reflects one of the most pressing investor concerns of the year: inflation. At the time, fund managers were just starting to realize that consumer price rises were back with a vengeance — a huge threat to the bond market which still remembers the dire days of the Volcker Fed when inflation was about as high as it is today but the 30Y was trading around 15%. The February auaction also illustrated that the world’s most important market was far less liquid and not as structurally robust as investors had hoped. It was an extreme example of a long-running issue: since the financial crisis the traditional providers of liquidity, a group of 24 Wall Street banks, have pulled back because of higher costs associated with post-2008 capital requirements, while leaving liquidity provision to the Fed. Those banks, in their reduced role, as well as the hedge funds and high-frequency traders that have stepped into their place, have tended to withdraw in moments of market volatility. Needless to say, with the Fed now tapering its record QE, we expect many more such "flash" episodes in the bond market in the year ahead. The arch ego of Archegos: In March 2021 several banks received a brutal reminder that some of family offices, which manage some $6 trillion in wealth of successful billionaires and entrepreneurs and which have minimal reporting requirements, take risks that would make the most serrated hedge fund manager wince, when Bill Hwang’s Archegos Capital Management imploded in spectacular style. As we learned in late March when several high-flying stocks suddenly collapsed, Hwang - a former protege of fabled hedge fund group Tiger Management - had built up a vast pile of leverage using opaque Total Return Swaps with a handful of banks to boost bets on a small number of stocks (the same banks were quite happy to help despite Hwang’s having been barred from US markets in 2013 over allegations of an insider-trading scheme, as he paid generously for the privilege of borrowing the banks' balance sheet). When one of Archegos more recent bets, ViacomCBS, suddenly tumbled it set off a liquidation cascade that left banks including Credit Suisse and Nomura with billions of dollars in losses. Conveniently, as the FT noted, the damage was contained to the banks rather than leaking across financial markets, but the episode sparked a rethink among banks over how to treat these clients and how much leverage to extend. The second coming of cryptos: After hitting an all time high in late 2017 and subsequently slumping into a "crypto winter", cryptocurrencies enjoyed a huge rebound in early 2021 which sent their prices soaring amid fears of galloping inflation (as shown below, and contrary to some financial speculation, the crypto space has traditionally been a hedge either to too much liquidity or a hedge to too much inflation). As a result, Bitcoin rose to a series of new record highs that culminated at just below $62,000, nearly three times higher than their previous all time high. But the smooth ride came to a halt in May when China’s crackdown on the cryptocurrency and its production, or “mining”, sparked the first serious crash of 2021. The price of bitcoin then collapsed as much as 30% on May 19, hitting a low of $30,000 amid a liquidation of levered positions in chaotic trading conditions following a warning from Chinese authorities of tighter curbs ahead. A public acceptance by Tesla chief and crypto cheerleader Elon Musk of the industry’s environmental impact added to the declines. However, as with all previous crypto crashes, this one too proved transitory, and prices resumed their upward trajectory in late September when investors started to price in the launch of futures-based bitcoin exchange traded funds in the US. The launch of these contracts subsequently pushed bitcoin to a new all-time high in early November before prices stumbled again in early December, this time due to a rise in institutional ownership when an overall drop in the market dragged down cryptos as well. That demonstrated the growing linkage between Wall Street and cryptocurrencies, due to the growing sway of large investors in digital markets. China's common prosperity crash: China’s education and tech sectors were one of the perennial Wall Street darlings. Companies such as New Oriental, TAL Education as well as Alibaba and Didi had come to be worth billions of dollars after highly publicized US stock market flotations. So when Beijing effectively outlawed swaths of the country’s for-profit education industry in July 2021, followed by draconian anti-trust regulations on the country's fintech names (where Xi Jinping also meant to teach the country's billionaire class a lesson who is truly in charge), the short-term market impact was brutal. Beijing’s initial measures emerged as part of a wider effort to make education more affordable as part of president Xi Jinping’s drive for "common prosperity" but that quickly raised questions over whether growth prospects across corporate China are countered by the capacity of the government to overhaul entire business models overnight. Sure enough, volatility stemming from the education sector was soon overshadowed by another set of government reforms related to common prosperity, a crackdown on leverage across the real estate sector where the biggest casualty was Evergrande, the world’s most indebted developer. The company, whose boss was not long ago China's 2nd richest man, was engulfed by a liquidity crisis in the summer that eventually resulted in a default in early December. Still, as the FT notes, China continues to draw in huge amounts of foreign capital, pushing the Chinese yuan to end 2021 at the strongest level since May 2018, a major hurdle to China's attempts to kickstart its slowing economy, and surely a precursor to even more monetary easing. Natgas hyperinflation: Natural gas supplanted crude oil as the world’s most important commodity in October and December as prices exploded to unprecedented levels and the world scrambled for scarce supplies amid the developed world's catastrophic transition to "green" energy. The crunch was particularly acute in Europe, which has become increasingly reliant on imports. Futures linked to TTF, the region’s wholesale gas price, hit a record €137 per megawatt hour in early October, rising more than 75%. In Asia, spot liquefied natural gas prices briefly passed the equivalent of more than $320 a barrel of oil in October. (At the time, Brent crude was trading at $80). A number of factors contributed, including rising demand as pandemic restrictions eased, supply disruptions in the LNG market and weather-induced shortfalls in renewable energy. In Europe, this was aggravated by plunging export volumes from Gazprom, Russia’s state-backed monopoly pipeline supplier, amid a bitter political fight over the launch of the Nordstream 2 pipeline. And with delays to the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Germany, analysts say the European gas market - where storage is only 66% full - a cold snap or supply disruption away from another price spike Turkey's (latest) currency crisis:  As the FT's Jonathan Wheatley writes, Recep Tayyip Erdogan was once a source of strength for the Turkish lira, and in his first five years in power from 2003, the currency rallied from TL1.6 per US dollar to near parity at TL1.2. But those days are long gone, as Erdogan's bizarre fascination with unorthodox economics, namely the theory that lower rates lead to lower inflation also known as "Erdoganomics", has sparked a historic collapse in the: having traded at about TL7 to the dollar in February, it has since fallen beyond TL17, making it the worst performing currency of 2021. The lira’s defining moment in 2021 came on November 18 when the central bank, in spite of soaring inflation, cut its policy rate for the third time since September, at Erdogan’s behest (any central banker in Turkey who disagrees with "Erdoganomics" is promptly fired and replaced with an ideological puppet). The lira recovered some of its losses in late December when Erdogan came up with the "brilliant" idea of erecting the infamous "doom loop" which ties Turkey's balance sheet to its currency. It has worked for now (the lira surged from TL18 against the dollar to TL12, but this particular band aid solution will only last so long). The lira’s problems are not only Erdogan’s doing. A strengthening dollar, rising oil prices, the relentless covid pandemic and weak growth in developing economies have been bad for other emerging market currencies, too, but as long as Erdogan is in charge, shorting the lira remains the best trade entering 2022. While these, and many more, stories provided a diversion from the boring existence of centrally-planned markets, we are confident that the trends observed in recent years will continue: coming years will be marked by even bigger government (because only more government can "fix" problems created by government), higher stock prices and dollar debasement (because only more Fed intervention can "fix" the problems created by the Fed), and a policy flip from monetary and QE to fiscal & MMT, all of which will keep inflation at scorching levels, much to the persistent confusion of economists everywhere. Of course, we said much of this last year as well, but while we got most trends right, we were wrong about one thing: we were confident that China's aggressive roll out of the digital yuan would be a bang - or as we put it "it is very likely that while 2020 was an insane year, it may prove to be just an appetizer to the shockwaves that will be unleashed in 2021 when we see the first stage of the most historic overhaul of the fiat payment system in history" - however it turned out to be a whimper. A big reason for that was that the initial reception of the "revolutionary" currency was nothing short of disastrous, with Chinese admitting they were "not at all excited" about the prospect of yet one more surveillance mechanism for Beijing, because that's really what digital currencies are: a way for central banks everywhere to micromanage and scrutinize every single transaction, allowing the powers that be to demonetize any one person - or whole groups - with the flick of a switch. Then again, while digital money may not have made its triumphant arrival in 2021, we are confident that the launch date has merely been pushed back to 2022 when the rollout of the next monetary revolution is expected to begin in earnest. Here we should again note one thing: in a world undergoing historic transformations, any free press must be throttled and controlled, and over the past year we have seen unprecedented efforts by legacy media and its corporate owners, as well as the new "social media" overlords do everything in their power to stifle independent thought. For us it had been especially "personal" on more than one occasions. Last January, Twitter suspended our account because we dared to challenge the conventional narrative about the source of the Wuhan virus. It was only six months later that Twitter apologized, and set us free, admitting it had made a mistake. Yet barely had twitter readmitted us, when something even more unprecedented happened: for the first time ever (to our knowledge) Google - the world's largest online ad provider and monopoly - demonetized our website not because of any complaints about our writing but because of the contents of our comment section. It then held us hostage until we agreed to implement some prerequisite screening and moderation of the comments section. Google's action was followed by the likes of PayPal, Amazon, and many other financial and ad platforms, who rushed to demonetize and suspend us simply because they disagreed with what we had to say. This was 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. One year ago, for the first time in our 13 year history, 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 again. 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. That said, whether the story of 2022, and the next decade for that matter, is one of helicopter or digital money, of (hyper)inflation or deflation: what is key, and what we learned in the past decade, is that the status quo will throw anything at the problem to kick the can, it will certainly not let any crisis go to waste... even the deadliest pandemic in over a century. And while many already knew that, the events of 2021 made it clear to a fault that not even a modest market correction can be tolerated going forward. After all, if central banks aim to punish all selling, then the logical outcome is to buy everything, and investors, traders and speculators did just that armed with the clearest backstop guarantee from the Fed, which in the deapths of the covid crash crossed the Rubicon when it formally nationalized the bond market as it started buying both investment grade bonds and junk bond ETFs in the open market. As such it is no longer even a debatable issue if the Fed will buy stocks after the next crash - the only question is when. 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 year showed vividly 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, the narrative over Biden's trillions proved to be one of the biggest market moving events for much of the year. And with the Biden stimulus plan off the table for now, the Fed will find it very difficult to tighten financial conditions, especially if it does so just as the economy is slowing. Here we like to remind readers of one of our favorite charts: every financial crisis is the result of Fed tightening. As for predictions about the future, as the past two 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 courtesy of China's covid pandemic, dramatic changes in 2021 persisted, 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's ongoing fight with preserving stability in its gargantuan financial system which is now two and a half times the size of the US. 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 the KGB either, although now that the entire Russian hysteria episode is over, those allegations have finally quieted down), 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 accelerate in the coming year when key midterm elections will be held, especially as the following list of Top 20 articles for 2021 reveals, many of the most popular articles in the past year were precisely those which the conventional media would not touch out of fear of repercussions, which in turn allowed the alternative media to continue to flourish in an orchestrated information vacuum and take significant market share from the established outlets by covering topics which the public relations arm of established media outlets refused 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 2021 - have realized 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 11-year existence, starting with 2009 and continuing with 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020. 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 600,000 reads, was an article that touched on one of the most defining features of the market: the reflation theme the sparked a massive rally at the start of the year courtesy of the surprise outcome in the Georgia Senate race, where Democrats ended up wining both seats up for grabs, effectively giving the Dems a majority in both the House and the Senate, where despite the even, 50-seat split, Kamala Harris would cast the winning tie-breaker vote to pursue a historic fiscal stimulus. And sure enough, as we described in "Bitcoin Surges To Record High, Stocks & Bonds Battered As Dems Look Set To Take Both Georgia Senate Seats", with trillions in "stimmies" flooding both the economy and the market, not only did retail traders enjoy unprecedented returns when trading meme "stonks" and forcing short squeezes that crippled numerous hedge funds, but expectations of sharply higher inflation also helped push bitcoin and the entire crypto sector to new all time highs, which in turn legitimized the product across institutional investors and helped it reach a market cap north of $3 trillion.  In 19th spot, over 613,000 readers were thrilled to read at the start of September that "Biden Unveils Most Severe COVID Actions Yet: Mandates Vax For All Federal Workers, Contractors, & Large Private Companies." Of course, just a few weeks later much of Biden's mandate would be struck down in courts, where it is now headed to a decision by SCOTUS, while the constantly shifting "scientific" goal posts mean that just a few months later the latest set of CDC regulations have seen regulators and officials reverse the constant drone of fearmongering and are now even seeking to cut back on the duration of quarantine and other lockdown measures amid a public mood that is growing increasingly hostile to the government response. One of the defining political events of 2021 was the so-called "Jan 6 Insurrection", which the for America's conservatives was blown wildly out of proportion yet which the leftist media and Democrats in Congress have been periodically trying to push to the front pages in hopes of distracting from the growing list of failures of the Obama admin. Yet as we asked back in January, "Why Was Founder Of Far-Left BLM Group Filming Inside Capitol As Police Shot Protester?" No less than 614,000 readers found this question worthy of a response. Since then many more questions have emerged surrounding this event, many of which focus on what role the FBI had in organizing and encouraging this event, including the use of various informants and instigators. For now, a response will have to wait at least until the mid-term elections of 2022 when Republicans are expected to sweep one if not both chambers. Linked to the above, the 17th most read article of 2021 with 617,000 views, was an article we published on the very same day, which detailed that "Armed Protesters Begin To Arrive At State Capitols Around The Nation." At the end of the day, it was much ado about nothing and all protests concluded peacefully and without incident: perhaps the FBI was simply spread too thin? 2021 was a year defined by various waves of the covid pandemic which hammered poor Americans forced to hunker down at home and missing on pay, and crippled countless small mom and pop businesses. And yet, it was also a bonanza for a handful of pharma companies such as Pfizer and Moderna which made billions from the sale of "vaccines" which we now know do little if anything to halt the spread of the virus, and are instead now being pitched as palliatives, preventing a far worse clinical outcome. The same pharma companies also benefited from an unconditional indemnity, which surely would come in useful when the full side-effects of their mRNA-based therapies became apparent. One such condition to emerge was myocarditis among a subset of the vaxxed. And while the vaccines continue to be broadly rolled out across most developed nations, one place that said enough was Sweden. As over 620,000 readers found out in "Sweden Suspends Moderna Shot Indefinitely After Vaxxed Patients Develop Crippling Heart Condition", not every country was willing to use its citizens as experimental guniea pigs. This was enough to make the article the 16th most read on these pages, but perhaps in light of the (lack of) debate over the pros and cons of the covid vaccines, this should have been the most read article this year? Moving on to the 15th most popular article, 628,000 readers were shocked to learn that "Chase Bank Cancels General Mike Flynn's Credit Cards." The action, which was taken by the largest US bank due to "reputational risk" echoed a broad push by tech giants to deplatform and silence dissenting voices by literally freezing them out of the financial system. In the end, following widespread blowback from millions of Americans, JPMorgan reversed, and reactivated Flynn's cards saying the action was made in error, but unfortunately this is just one example of how those in power can lock out any dissenters with the flick of a switch. And while democrats cheer such deplatforming today, the political winds are fickle, and we doubt they will be as excited once they find themselves on the receiving end of such actions. And speaking of censorship and media blackouts, few terms sparked greater response from those in power than the term Ivermectin. Viewed by millions as a cheap, effective alternative to offerings from the pharmaceutical complex, social networks did everything in their power to silence any mention of a drug which the Journal of Antibiotics said in 2017 was an "enigmatic multifaceted ‘wonder’ drug which continues to surprise and exceed expectations." Nowhere was this more obvious than in the discussion of how widespread use of Ivermectin beat Covid in India, the topic of the 14th most popular article of 2021 "India's Ivermectin Blackout" which was read by over 653,000 readers. Unfortunately, while vaccines continue to fail upward and now some countries are now pushing with a 4th, 5th and even 6th vaccine, Ivermectin remains a dirty word. There was more covid coverage in the 13th most popular article of 2021, "Surprise Surprise - Fauci Lied Again": Rand Paul Reacts To Wuhan Bombshell" which was viewed no less than 725,000 times. Paul's reaction came following a report which revealed that Anthony Fauci's NIAID and its parent, the NIH, funded Gain-of-Function research in Wuhan, China, strongly hinting that the emergence of covid was the result of illicit US funding. Not that long ago, Fauci had called Paul a 'liar' for accusing him of funding the risky research, in which viruses are genetically modified or otherwise altered to make them more transmissible to humans. And while we could say that Paul got the last laugh, Fauci still remains Biden's top covid advisor, which may explain why one year after Biden vowed he would shut down the pandemic, the number of new cases just hit a new all time high. One hope we have for 2022 is that people will finally open their eyes... 2021 was not just about covid - soaring prices and relentless inflation were one of the most poignant topics. It got so bad that Biden's approval rating - and that of Democrats in general - tumbled toward the end of the year, putting their mid-term ambitions in jeopardy, as the public mood soured dramatically in response to the explosion in prices. And while one can debate whether it was due to supply-issues, such as the collapse in trans-pacific supply chains and the chronic lack of labor to grow the US infrastructure, or due to roaring demand sparked by trillions in fiscal stimulus, but when the "Big Short" Michael Burry warned that hyperinflation is coming, the people listened, and with over 731,000 reads, the 12th most popular article of 2021 was "Michael Burry Warns Weimar Hyperinflation Is Coming."  Of course, Burry did not say anything we haven't warned about for the past 12 years, but at least he got the people's attention, and even mainstream names such as Twitter founder Jack Dorsey agreed with him, predicting that bitcoin will be what is left after the dollar has collapsed. While hyperinflation may will be the endgame, the question remains: when. For the 11th most read article of 2021, we go back to a topic touched upon moments ago when we addressed the full-blown media campaign seeking to discredit Ivermectin, in this case via the D-grade liberal tabloid Rolling Stone (whose modern incarnation is sadly a pale shadow of the legend that house Hunter S. Thompson's unforgettable dispatches) which published the very definition of fake news when it called Ivermectin a "horse dewormer" and claimed that, according to a hospital employee, people were overdosing on it. Just a few hours later, the article was retracted as we explained in "Rolling Stone Issues 'Update' After Horse Dewormer Hit-Piece Debunked" and over 812,000 readers found out that pretty much everything had been a fabrication. But of course, by then it was too late, and the reputation of Ivermectin as a potential covid cure had been further tarnished, much to the relief of the pharma giants who had a carte blanche to sell their experimental wares. The 10th most popular article of 2021 brings us to another issue that had split America down the middle, namely the story surrounding Kyle Rittenhouse and the full-blown media campaign that declared the teenager guilty, even when eventually proven innocent. Just days before the dramatic acquittal, we learned that "FBI Sat On Bombshell Footage From Kyle Rittenhouse Shooting", which was read by over 822,000 readers. It was unfortunate to learn that once again the scandal-plagued FBI stood at the center of yet another attempt at mass misinformation, and we can only hope that one day this "deep state" agency will be overhauled from its core, or better yet, shut down completely. As for Kyle, he will have the last laugh: according to unconfirmed rumors, his numerous legal settlements with various media outlets will be in the tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars.  And from the great US social schism, we again go back to Covid for the 9th most popular article of 2021, which described the terrifying details of one of the most draconian responses to covid in the entire world: that of Australia. Over 900,000 readers were stunned to read that the "Australian Army Begins Transferring COVID-Positive Cases, Contacts To Quarantine Camps." Alas, the latest surge in Australian cases to nosebleed, record highs merely confirms that this unprecedented government lockdown - including masks and vaccines - is nothing more than an exercise in how far government can treat its population as a herd of sheep without provoking a violent response.  The 8th most popular article of 2021 looks at the market insanity of early 2021 when, at the end of January, we saw some of the most-shorted, "meme" stocks explode higher as the Reddit daytrading horde fixed their sights on a handful of hedge funds and spent billions in stimmies in an attempt to force unprecedented ramps. That was the case with "GME Soars 75% After-Hours, Erases Losses After Liquidity-Constrained Robinhood Lifts Trading Ban", which profiled the daytrading craze that gave an entire generation the feeling that it too could win in these manipulated capital markets. Then again, judging by the waning retail interest, it is possible that the excitement of the daytrading army is fading as rapidly as it first emerged, and that absent more "stimmies" markets will remain the playground of the rich and central banks. Kyle Rittenhouse may soon be a very rich man after the ordeal he went through, but the media's mission of further polarizing US society succeeded, and millions of Americans will never accept that the teenager was innocent. It's also why with just over 1 million reads, the 7th most read article on Zero Hedge this year was that "Portland Rittenhouse Protest Escalates Into Riot." Luckily, this is not a mid-term election year and there were no moneyed interests seeking to prolong this particular riot, unlike what happened in the summer of 2020... and what we are very much afraid will again happen next year when very critical elections are on deck.  With just over 1.03 million views, the 6th most popular post focused on a viral Twitter thread on Friday from Dr Robert Laone, which laid out a disturbing trend; the most-vaccinated countries in the world are experiencing  a surge in COVID-19 cases, while the least-vaccinated countries were not. As we originally discussed in ""This Is Worrying Me Quite A Bit": mRNA Vaccine Inventor Shares Viral Thread Showing COVID Surge In Most-Vaxxed Countries", this trend has only accelerated in recent weeks with the emergence of the Omicron strain. Unfortunately, instead of engaging in a constructive discussion to see why the science keeps failing again and again, Twitter's response was chilling: with just days left in 2021, it suspended the account of Dr. Malone, one of the inventors of mRNA technology. Which brings to mind something Aaron Rogers said: "If science can't be questioned it's not science anymore it's propaganda & that's the truth." In a year that was marked a flurry of domestic fiascoes by the Biden administration, it is easy to forget that the aged president was also responsible for the biggest US foreign policy disaster since Vietnam, when the botched evacuation of Afghanistan made the US laughing stock of the world after 12 US servicemembers were killed. So it's probably not surprising that over 1.1 million readers were stunned to watch what happened next, which we profiled in the 5th most popular post of 2021, where in response to the Afghan trajedy, "Biden Delivers Surreal Press Conference, Vows To Hunt Down Isis, Blames Trump." One person watching the Biden presser was Xi Jinping, who may have once harbored doubts about reclaiming Taiwan but certainly does not any more. The 4th most popular article of 2021 again has to do with with covid, and specifically the increasingly bizarre clinical response to the disease. As we detailed in "Something Really Strange Is Happening At Hospitals All Over America" while emergency rooms were overflowing, it certainly wasn't from covid cases. Even more curiously, one of the primary ailments leading to an onslaught on ERs across the nation was heart-related issues, whether arrhytmia, cardiac incidents or general heart conditions. We hope that one day there will be a candid discussion on this topic, but until then it remains one of the topics seen as taboo by the mainstream media and the deplatforming overlords, so we'll just leave it at that. We previously discussed the anti-Ivermectin narrative that dominated the mainstream press throughout 2021 and the 3rd most popular article of the year may hold clues as to why: in late September, pharma giant Pfizer and one of the two companies to peddle an mRNA based vaccine, announced that it's launching an accelerated Phase 2/3 trial for a COVID prophylactic pill designed to ward off COVID in those may have come in contact with the disease. And, as we described in "Pfizer Launches Final Study For COVID Drug That's Suspiciously Similar To 'Horse Paste'," 1.75 million readers learned that Pfizer's drug shared at least one mechanism of action as Ivermectin - an anti-parasitic used in humans for decades, which functions as a protease inhibitor against Covid-19, which researchers speculate "could be the biophysical basis behind its antiviral efficiency." Surely, this too was just another huge coincidence. In the second most popular article of 2021, almost 2 million readers discovered (to their "shock") that Fauci and the rest of Biden's COVID advisors were proven wrong about "the science" of COVID vaccines yet again. After telling Americans that vaccines offer better protection than natural infection, a new study out of Israel suggested the opposite is true: natural infection offers a much better shield against the delta variant than vaccines, something we profiled in "This Ends The Debate' - Israeli Study Shows Natural Immunity 13x More Effective Than Vaccines At Stopping Delta." We were right about one thing: anyone who dared to suggest that natural immunity was indeed more effective than vaccines was promptly canceled and censored, and all debate almost instantly ended. Since then we have had tens of millions of "breakout" cases where vaccinated people catch covid again, while any discussion why those with natural immunity do much better remains under lock and key. It may come as a surprise to many that the most read article of 2021 was not about covid, or Biden, or inflation, or China, or even the extremely polarized US congress (and/or society), but was about one of the most long-suffering topics on these pages: precious metals and their prices. Yes, back in February the retail mania briefly targeted silver and as millions of reddit daytraders piled in in hopes of squeezing the precious metal higher, the price of silver surged higher only to tumble just as quickly as it has risen as the seller(s) once again proved more powerful than the buyers. We described this in "Silver Futures Soar 8%, Rise Above $29 As Reddit Hordes Pile In", an article which some 2.4 million gold and silver bugs read with hope, only to see their favorite precious metals slump for much of the rest of the year. And yes, the fact that both gold and silver ended the year sharply lower than where they started even though inflation hit the highest level in 40 years, remains one of the great mysteries of 2021. With all that behind us, and as we wave goodbye to another bizarre, exciting, surreal year, what lies in store for 2022, 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 endless 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 2021 (even the Fed admitted it is clueless when Powell said it was time to retire the term "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 the "expertise class" with their 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 after a record $30 trillion in stimulus was conjured out of thin air by the world's central banks and politicians in the past two years, the attempt to reverse this monetary and fiscal firehose in a world addicted to trillions in newly created liquidity now that central banks are freaking out after finally getting ot the inflation they were hoping to create for so long, will end in tears. 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 13, we will be there to document every aspect of it. Finally, and as always, we wish all our readers the best of luck in 2022, with much success in trading and every other avenue of life. We bid farewell to 2021 with our traditional and unwavering year-end promise: Zero Hedge will be there each and every day - usually with a cynical smile - helping readers expose, unravel and comprehend the fallacy, fiction, fraud and farce that defines every aspect of our increasingly broken system. Tyler Durden Sun, 01/02/2022 - 03:44.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytJan 2nd, 2022

Florida Judge Orders Vandal To Write 25 Pages Of LGBT Fiction

Florida Judge Orders Vandal To Write 25 Pages Of LGBT Fiction Authored by Brian McGlinchey via Stark Realities, In a jaw-dropping example of government imposing woke mythology on an individual citizen, a Florida judge recently ordered a man who defaced an LGBT mural to write a 25-page essay centered on a thoroughly false premise—that the 2016 massacre at the gay Pulse nightclub in Orlando deliberately targeted the LGBT community. Though that baseless narrative is still embraced by opportunistic activists, pandering politicians, lazy journalists and those they’ve misled, it’s been well-established since 2018 that self-described “Islamic soldier” Omar Mateen chose the club at random and that he viewed his attack purely as retaliation for civilian casualties caused by US military interventions in the Middle East. Coming a day after the chilling announcement that the Department of Homeland Security has established a “Disinformation Governance Board,” the judge’s use of coerced false speech as a form of rehabilitation added a bizarre twist to what had already been an Orwellian week in America. It’s safe to say Florida circuit judge Scott Suskauer has no idea he’s compelling false speech by 20-year-old Alexander Jerich, who pleaded guilty to criminal mischief and reckless driving after using his truck to do a burnout on a Pride flag-themed mural spanning an intersection in Delray Beach. Video of Jerich’s Burnout Was Posted to Social Media Like countless others, Suskauer has likely been misled by relentless repetition of the false Pulse narrative across both traditional and social media. Whatever his good intentions, Suskauer’s directive puts Jerich in an awkward position. His assignment is due June 8—the same day Suskauer will hand down his final sentence. Though Jerich has already paid $2,000 to repair the mural, the president of the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council urged Suskauer to imprison Jerich for a year. Prosecutors are seeking a 30-day jail sentence and five years of probation. Jerich is thus under intense pressure to express ideas about the Pulse attack that match the judge’s profoundly flawed understanding of it. (Jerich’s attorney, Robert Pasch, did not respond to a request for comment.) In addition to instructing Jerich to research the 49 people killed in the Pulse attack, Suskauer said, “I want your own brief summary of why people are so hateful and why people lash out against the gay community.” Even double-spaced, 25 pages equates to a very hefty 7,000 words or so—all centered on the false premise that Omar Mateen killed those 49 people because they were part of the LGBT community. Pulse Nightclub Chosen at Last Minute Omar Mateen’s attack on Pulse was undeniably horrific, and stands behind the 2017 Las Vegas massacre as the second-deadliest mass shooting in US history. However, while it was a tragedy for Orlando’s LGBT community, Mateen didn’t target that community. Indeed, this wasn’t a hate crime of any sort; it was a terrorist attack on a nightclub chosen at random and without knowledge of its gay clientele. How it started for 20yo Palm Beach County Trump supporter Alexander Jerich... 1/3 pic.twitter.com/dvgnf8bcMz — SFDB (@sfdb) June 17, 2021 That’s been abundantly clear since the 2018 federal trial against Mateen’s wife, Noor Salman. Charged with providing material support to a terrorist organization, she was found not guilty on all counts after prosecutors failed to prove she knew what her husband was planning. Some good did come from the trial: It exposed a wealth of details about the attack—details that starkly contradict the perception that Pulse was targeted because of its gay clientele. As it turns out, Pulse wasn’t Mateen’s first or even second target. He’d initially intended to attack the Disney Springs retail, dining and entertainment complex, but was apparently deterred by the security there. Tellingly, as he looked for a new target, he searched the internet for “downtown Orlando nightclubs;” he didn’t include any LGBT terms in his searches. He first started driving toward an Orlando nightclub called EVE before settling on Pulse only about 30 minutes before attacking. In Salman’s trial, prosecutors acknowledged the complete lack of evidence that Mateen knew Pulse was a gay nightclub. Indeed, Mateen seemed confused by what he found at Pulse: According to a security guard at the club, before opening fire, Mateen asked where all the women were. Mateen’s murderous stay at Pulse spanned approximately three hours. Over that time, not a single witness heard him say anything about homosexuals or Western culture. The 17-page transcript of Mateen’s conversations with 911 operators and police negotiators that night is particularly illuminating. Mateen said nothing about gay people or the nightclub. Rather, he proclaimed his allegiance to the Islamic State (ISIS), repeatedly condemned US airstrikes in the Middle East and portrayed his rampage as an act of retaliation: “What’s going on is that I feel the pain of the people getting killed in Syria and Iraq and all over the Muslim (unidentified word).” “They need to stop the U.S. airstrikes. You have to tell the U.S. government to stop bombing. They are killing too many children, they are killing too many women, okay?” “You have to tell America to stop bombing Syria and Iraq. They are killing a lot of innocent people. What am I to do here when my people are getting killed over there? You get what I’m saying?” “Even though it's not fucking airstrikes, it's fucking strikes here, okay?” “You see, now you feel, now you feel how it is.” “My homeboy Tamerlan Tsarnaev did his thing on the Boston Marathon…okay, so now it's my turn, okay?” “The airstrike that killed Abu Wahid (the “military emir” of ISIS in Iraq’s Anbar province) a few weeks ago…that's what triggered it, okay?” Image: AP Mateen’s social media posts tell the same story—he rails against U.S. military actions in the Middle East and says nothing at all about gay people. Shortly before his attack, he wrote, “You kill innocent women and children by doing U.S. airstrikes…now taste the Islamic State vengeance.” Significantly, the Pulse attack is nowhere to be found in the 2016 report on hate crimes published by the Florida attorney general’s office. Finally, those journalists who’ve most closely studied the case overwhelmingly reject the anti-LGBT theory of the attack, including those at liberal outlets like Huffington Post (Everyone Got the Pulse Massacre Story Completely Wrong), Vox (New Evidence Shows Pulse Nightclub Shooting Wasn’t About Anti-LGBTQ Hate) and NBC (What Really Happened That Night at Pulse). In the face of all that, proponents of the anti-LGBT theory of the Pulse attack can only cling to the baseless assumption that Mateen concealed his true motivation. However, as Glenn Greenwald wrote in his comprehensive dismantling of the Pulse mythology, “That never made sense: The whole point of terrorism is to publicize, not conceal, the grievances driving the violence.” In a culture where perceived victimhood is now a source of political power and leverage, the Pulse mythology is too valuable for many to surrender. However, whatever benefit that accrues to the LGBT community from the counterfeit characterization of the event has a cost that goes beyond stoking excessive fear among and on behalf of LGBT people. Chief among those costs: Falsely proclaiming the Pulse massacre an act of anti-gay bias buries the truth that it was a terrorist attack perpetrated on random Americans and precipitated by U.S. interventionism abroad. Of course, hiding the horrific domestic consequences of America’s regime change addiction serves the interest of the government, which helps explains why the FBI fought to keep Mateen’s phone call transcript—and his explanation of his actual motivation—under wraps. After all, whether it’s Pulse, 9/11 or other attacks, the less Americans realize terrorism on U.S. soil is a bloody byproduct of an interventionist foreign policy, the better for the national security establishment and defense contractors that champion and benefit from it. For everyday Americans, however, the false narrative about the Pulse terrorist attack helps perpetuate the policies that led to it—and, in so doing, increases the likelihood that such horrors will continue to be visited upon random American innocents again and again. Stark Realities undermines official narratives, demolishes conventional wisdom and exposes fundamental myths across the political spectrum. Read more and subscribe at starkrealities.substack.com Tyler Durden Sat, 05/14/2022 - 18:30.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytMay 14th, 2022

Big Bottle: Breaking Down The Baby Formula Nightmare

Big Bottle: Breaking Down The Baby Formula Nightmare Authored by Matt Stoller via BIG, Big Bottle and the Baby Formula Apocalypse As anyone with an infant knows, there is a major crisis in the feeding of America’s babies right now, because parents in some areas can’t get baby formula. A few months ago, a major producer of formula - Abbott Labs - shut down its main production facilities in Sturgis, Michigan, which had been contaminated with the bacteria Cronobacter sakazakii, killing two babies and injuring two others. Abbott provides 43% of the baby formula in the United States, under the brand names Similac, Alimentum and EleCare, so removing this amount of supply from the market is the short-term cause of the problem. (Abbott and Mead Johnson produce 80% of the formula in the U.S., and if you add in Nestle, that gets to 98% of the market.) The problem is not, however, that there isn’t enough formula, so much as the consolidated distribution system creates a lot of shortages in specific states. First, it’s hard to convey what a nightmare this situation is for parents, especially those whose children require special kinds of formula because of gastrointestinal issues or food allergies. “The shortage has led us to decide to put a feeding tube in our child,” said one parent, who simply could not get the specialized formula her daughter needs. Baby formula is not just food, but the primary or sole nutrition for a vulnerable person in a stage of life in which very specific nutritional requirements are necessary for growth. Baby formula was created during the 19th century as we developed modern food preservation techniques. Before this remarkable innovation, baby starvation was common if a mother couldn’t breastfeed her infant (which happens a lot). The invention of industrialized formula was one of those creations we take for granted, but like antibiotics and other medical and scientific advances, it was one that fundamentally changed parenthood and the family. This shortage is showing just how reliant we are on industrialized formula. The causal factor behind the crisis is poor regulation and a consolidated and brittle supply chain. Imports from Europe are often prohibited, even if there were excess productive capacity elsewhere. I spent a bit of time calling around to people who work in formula, and the industry is basically on a war footing. Everyone is panicking, because the situation is, in short, a nightmare. I’m going to try and lay out the situation, and explain the market structure. There are two basic mechanisms that have created a concentrated and brittle market. The first is that regulators are tough on newcomers, but soft on incumbents. And the second is that the Federal government buys more than half of the baby formula in the market, and under the guise of competitive bidding, it in fact hands out monopoly licenses for individual states. That makes it impossible to get newcomers of any scale into the market, along with the more resiliency that such competition brings. It also makes it hard to address shortages in one state with extra formula from elsewhere. But first, let’s start by following the money. Financial Returns or Your Baby’s Life The simplest way to understand why there’s a shortage is to look at the incentives for the CEO of Abbott Labs. Here’s a Reuters report coming out of the company’s investor call in April, after the factory shutdown was underway. Keep in mind, the executives on this call are the people responsible for managing this vital resource, and here’s how seriously they took the problem. “Abbott called the recall a "short-term hindrance" and said it was working closely with the regulator and has begun implementing corrective actions and enhancements to the facility. Abbott shares rose 2.4% to $122.90 in morning trade as some analysts said the comments during the conference call allayed worries over the recall. Despite the recall and supply chain issues, Abbott beat quarterly profit and revenue estimates in the first quarter.” Not a single Wall Street analyst asked about the recall. Why? In some ways, it’s because it doesn’t matter that much to the bottom line. Abbott Labs is a diversified medical devices and health care company, and its nutritional segment is a relatively small part part of its business. But also, if you need baby formula, which is highly regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, and distributed by a monopoly-friendly system run by the Department of Agriculture, where else are you gonna go? And that’s the problem. Baby formula is a shared monopoly, and we are at the mercy of Abbott Labs, Read Johnson, and Nestle. And their execs know it. So how does this shared monopoly work? Let’s start with the regulators. The Failed Priesthood at the FDA Entering the baby formula market is a difficult process, and takes years of work. For instance, Bobbie, which makes European-style formula with a contract manufacturer, is the first firm to come into the market in five years. Bobbie is also a direct to consumer niche firm, so it doesn’t have the scale to address the market dislocation at hand. It was a rough road getting started; the firm faced a recall and a shut down purely for manufacturing in Germany, and it had to go through millions of dollars of capital and a steep learning curve to get its product accepted by the FDA. The reason for regulatory hurdles seems good, on the surface. Manufacturing formula is very specific, it’s not like a snack bar, it fits in somewhere between medication and food in the regulatory spectrum. Congress put extremely detailed instructions in the Infant Formula Act of 1980. To get a product approved, an entrant needs protein efficiency studies, thousands of quality tests from raw ingredients to the end product, nutritional tests to make sure it is suitable for infants, and approvals for new suppliers. There are specialized forms of formula for babies with different conditions. Naturally, starting a new formula firm takes a massive amount of time, patience, and capital. And that’s if you just want to make a product and can even find a contract manufacturer to produce it for you. There is just one contract manufacturer of baby formula in the U.S. - Perrigo Nutritionals, and it requires a large initial order volume, which adds a hurdle to new potential firms. What about new factories? Earlier this year, a nutrition company ByHeart became just the fourth infant formula brand to have its own factory, something no one else had done in fifteen years. Certifying a factory for infant formula, like making a new product, is difficult and expensive. Is this expense necessary? Not entirely. The institutional risk tolerance of the FDA is extraordinarily low. FDA officials see themselves as an elite priesthood, pursuing excellence merely by dint of being at the FDA. From this perspective, there is zero incentive to let new players into the baby formula market when, in their view, there are already excellent quality companies serving the market, such as Abbott Labs, Mead Johnson, and Nestle. It’s true that baby formula is overpriced in the U.S., costing about twice as much as it does throughout much of Europe. But to an FDA official, price is incidental. The thinking goes, who wants to be the official that accidentally lets a reckless entrepreneur poison a bunch of babies, just so that there’s some competition in a market that is already delivering good products? When there is no problem at hand, there is no reason to allow innovation in the industry, or additional capacity. The problem, of course, is that the FDA is harsh to newcomers, but deferential to incumbents. According to Healthy Babies Bright Futures, baby formula made by the big guys in the U.S. is full of dangerous brain-altering heavy metals. HBBF tested thirteen different baby formulas, and every single one had “detectable levels of arsenic, cadmium, lead and/or mercury,” which are all considered to be neurotoxic, interfering with brain development and “causing permanent IQ reductions in children.” Moreover, FDA inspections of Abbott plants are obviously a disaster. Abbott had old and dirty equipment making formula, falsified records, deceived regulators, had bad product tracing, and did not fix problems after discovery. FDA inspectors noticed problems with the plant in September, but ignored them. Then, a whistleblower told the FDA of these problems in October, but regulators didn’t even bother to interview him/her until December. Moe Tkacik, in a viral Twitter thread, persuasively laid out parallels to the Boeing/FAA disaster. So, the origin of the baby formula pocalypse was Abbott management's refusal to repair dilapidated and failure-prone drying machines turning the plant into proverbial petri dishes for cronobacter, because... They needed that $5.73 billion for stock buybacks, obvs pic.twitter.com/GBmn3n4SWn — moe tkacik (@moetkacik) May 11, 2022 So that’s the regulatory problem. Then there’s the market structure, which creates a lumpy distribution system when there’s a shortage. Rebates and Scams The biggest buyer of infant formula in the U.S. is WIC, or the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, which is run by the Department of Agriculture. Roughly half of women get formula from WIC. Rather than food stamps, which is a set amount of cash that can be used for most products, most states only allow women to buy formula from one company, though each company offers a bunch of different brands. To save money, the government requires states to hold auctions to get the lowest price for formula. The problem is, state agencies use a complex rebating system to give the contract for the entire state to one manufacturer, and that contract can only be changed once every four years. Here’s the USDA explaining the program. Typically, WIC State agencies obtain substantial discounts in the form of rebates from infant formula manufacturers for each can of formula purchased through the program. In exchange for rebates, a manufacturer is given the exclusive right to provide its product to WIC participants in the State. These sole-source contracts are awarded on the basis of competitive bids. The brand of formula provided by WIC varies by State depending on which manufacturer holds the contract for that State. This rebate system distorts the entire market in a state, because it’s just not worth having alternative formulas on a retail shelf if half of the buyers simply cannot purchase those formulas. As a result, the market tips to the WIC supplier, and that supplier raises prices on non-WIC recipients, and does so by between 26-35%. Here’s what happened to the baby formula market in California when the WIC contract changed hands. This whole scheme, done under the guise of welfare, is essentially a transfer of wealth from the middle class to the poor, done by enriching the baby formula cartel. The monopoly friendly program design was peddled by the anti-poverty group the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, which is both on the center-left of the political spectrum and aligned with Wall Street. This brings us back to the shortage. According to Truthout, Abbott is the monopoly provider of formula for 34 states, seven Indian tribal organizations, four territories and Washington, D.C. So that’s where we’d expect the shortages to be focused. Because of the design of the program, it’s not particularly easy to move different kinds of formula to WIC recipients. And that, perhaps more than any actual national shortage, is the problem. Here’s the Wall Street Journal today. “The FDA said overall the nation’s infant formula manufacturers are making enough to meet demand even w/out Abbott’s main factory online. The industry sold more formula in April than it did the month before the recall, the FDA said." The White House echoed these claims, asserting that “more infant formula has been produced in the last four weeks than in the four weeks preceding the recall.” There’s a well-known black market in formula, which speaks to the dysfunction of the distribution system. The shortages are concentrated in certain areas even if nationally there might be enough to get by. According to Heather Bottemiller Evich, there are just “6 states that had baby formula out-of-stock rates higher than 50 percent: Iowa, South Dakota, and North Dakota were 50-51%. Missouri was 52%. Texas was 53% and Tennessee was 54%.” But nationally, it’s not so bad. However, not all data sets suggest outages this high. @iriworldwide, which pulls information directly from retailers, found that the average in-stock rate is currently about 79% across the U.S. — far below the pre-pandemic norms of 95%, but not critically low. — Helena Bottemiller Evich (@hbottemiller) May 11, 2022 In some ways, the problem is that there’s baby formula, but it’s not in the right place (though the Sturgis factory was a monopoly producer of lots of specialized formulas, so the actual shortage itself is a huge problem). The simplest solution here is to get aggressive and capable leadership around logistics, and then move the formula where it needs to go. We’ll have to open up imports temporarily, and move supply around the country while allowing WIC recipients to buy non-contract brands. I suspect at some point the Biden administration will get their hands on the situation, and fix it. There will be Congressional hearings, and Abbott’s CEO will get yelled at. Longer-term, I hope there will be consequences. First, we need to explore forcing Abbott to break off its nutritional division from the rest of the firm, since it’s fairly obvious that there’s little corporate focus on making sure the baby formula division is run well. Conglomerates are usually inefficient. Second, Congress should really restructure the WIC program so that the auctions don’t create monopolies, and lumpy distribution patterns that induce regional shortages. Finally, the FDA needs wholesale reform, since this kind of crisis seems to happen a lot. I mean, the relationship between the FDA and Abbott Labs was also behind the rapid Covid testing scandal, where FDA official Tim Stenzel - who had worked at Abbott - then approved Abbott as one of two firms to make those tests, and blocked all other entrants. That’s why rapid Covid tests were both in shortage and much more expensive in the U.S. than they are in Europe. The FDA needs to be broken up so that its drugs and food divisions are separate, and it needs to take its mandate seriously for a resilient supply chain. In some ways, this baby formula crisis is the same problem as United having passenger David Dao being beaten up in 2017 and removed from the plane, to public horror and Congressional rage. United’s stock went up after the incident. Or it’s like nurses wearing garbage bags at the beginning of the pandemic because of our dependence on China, and the sad reality that policymakers in the last two years have refused to stop sourcing from China. Hopefully, these kinds of failures, and the public rage, are laying the groundwork for wholesale reform of our government. At every level of policymaking, we have a systemic bias against people who focus on making things, in favor of well-branded monopolists and cloistered regulators who are obsessed with fanciness instead of actual critical thinking. And that’s no way to run a democracy. Tyler Durden Fri, 05/13/2022 - 16:20.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytMay 13th, 2022

A Republican Senate candidate endorsed by Peter Thiel is campaigning on a pledge to vote only for judges who oppose the SCOTUS ruling establishing the right to birth control

Blake Masters pledged to vote for judges who believe Griswold v. Connecticut, Roe v. Wade, and Planned Parenthood v. Casey were wrongly decided. Anti-abortion supporters chant towards a group of pro-choice activists (not pictured) during 'March For Life' rally.Wiktor Szymanowicz/Future Publishing via Getty Images Blake Masters, an Arizona GOP candidate for Senate, is running on an anti-abortion platform.  His campaign site says he will only vote for judges who believe Griswold v. Connecticut was wrongly decided.  The Griswold decision overturned a state ban on birth control, protecting the right to use contraceptives.  Blake Masters, a GOP Senate candidate running on an anti-abortion platform in Arizona, is also taking aim at the case that established the right to access birth control on his campaign website."I am 100% pro-life. Roe v. Wade was a horrible decision. It was wrong the day it was decided in 1973, it's wrong today, and it must be reversed. But the fight doesn't stop there," Master's campaign website reads. It goes on to pledge the candidate will "vote only for federal judges who understand that Roe and Griswold and Casey were wrongly decided, and that there is no constitutional right to abortion."Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey established and protected the right to an abortion in 1973 and 1992, respectively. But the Griswold case, decided in 1965, overturned a statewide ban on birth control and protected citizen's rights to privacy against state restrictions on contraceptives. Masters identifies himself as a Catholic father of three on his campaign site. The Catholic Church has had an official ban on any "artificial" birth control methods, including condoms and diaphragms, since 1930. Since birth control pills were invented in 1960, the church has maintained its stance that the medication should only be used for non-contraceptive reasons. "I don't support a state law or federal law that would ban or restrict contraception — period," Masters said in a statement emailed to Insider. "And Griswold was wrongly decided. Both are true."In a Twitter thread criticizing reporting that pointed out his conflicting campaign positions, Masters stated that his problem with the Griswold case was that the Supreme Court justices "wholesale made up a constitutional right to achieve a political outcome." The Senate hopeful boasts an endorsement by conservative billionaire Peter Thiel on his campaign site and is aiming to secure an endorsement by former President Donald Trump. Trump phoned in to support Masters during a campaign event, criticizing his opposition, but has not officially endorsed Masters.Masters, a venture capitalist, previously served as the president of the Thiel Foundation and was chosen by Thiel in 2016 to serve on then President-elect Trump's transition team as he took office. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytMay 8th, 2022

A Republican Senate candidate endorsed by Peter Thiel is campaigning on an apparent anti-birth control platform

Blake Masters pledged to vote for judges who believe Griswold v. Connecticut, Roe v. Wade, and Planned Parenthood v. Casey were wrongly decided. Anti-abortion supporters chant towards a group of pro-choice activists (not pictured) during 'March For Life' rally.Wiktor Szymanowicz/Future Publishing via Getty Images Blake Masters, an Arizona GOP candidate for Senate, is running on an anti-abortion platform.  His campaign site says he will only vote for judges who believe Griswold v. Connecticut was wrongly decided.  The Griswold decision overturned a state ban on birth control, protecting the right to use contraceptives.  Blake Masters, a GOP Senate candidate running on an anti-abortion platform in Arizona, is also taking aim at laws protecting the right to use birth control on his campaign website. "I am 100% pro-life. Roe v. Wade was a horrible decision. It was wrong the day it was decided in 1973, it's wrong today, and it must be reversed. But the fight doesn't stop there," Master's campaign website reads. It goes on to pledge the candidate will "vote only for federal judges who understand that Roe and Griswold and Casey were wrongly decided, and that there is no constitutional right to abortion."Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey established and protected the right to an abortion in 1973 and 1992, respectively. But the Griswold case, decided in 1965, overturned a statewide ban on birth control and protected citizen's rights to privacy against state restrictions on contraceptives. Masters identifies himself as a Catholic father of three on his campaign site. The Catholic Church has had an official ban on any "artificial" birth control methods, including condoms and diaphragms, since 1930. Since birth control pills were invented in 1960, the church has maintained its stance that the medication should only be used for non-contraceptive reasons. "I don't support a state law or federal law that would ban or restrict contraception — period," Masters said in a statement emailed to Insider. "And Griswold was wrongly decided. Both are true."In a Twitter thread criticizing reporting that pointed out his conflicting campaign positions, Masters stated that his problem with the Griswold case was that the Supreme Court justices "wholesale made up a constitutional right to achieve a political outcome." The Senate hopeful boasts an endorsement by conservative billionaire Peter Thiel on his campaign site and is aiming to secure an endorsement by former President Donald Trump. Trump phoned in to support Masters during a campaign event, criticizing his opposition, but has not officially endorsed Masters.Masters, a venture capitalist, previously served as the president of the Thiel Foundation and was chosen by Thiel in 2016 to serve on then President-elect Trump's transition team as he took office. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytMay 7th, 2022

The First Amendment Option: An Easy Way For Musk To Restore Free Speech On Twitter

The First Amendment Option: An Easy Way For Musk To Restore Free Speech On Twitter Authored by Jonathan Turley, Below is my column in the Hill on one way for Elon Musk to re-introduce free speech values on his newly acquired social media platform. Pro-censorship advocates like former President Barack Obama may have given Musk a roadmap for restoring free speech on Twitter. Here is the column: For free speech advocates, Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter could prove the most impactful event since Twitter’s founding in 2006. The question, however, is how Musk can accomplish his lofty goal of restoring free speech values to social media. He first would have to untie the Gordian knot of censorship in a company now synonymous with speech control. The answer may be simpler than most people think. Indeed, anti-free-speech figures in the country may have given Musk the very roadmap he’s looking for: the First Amendment. The purchase of Twitter alone will have immediate and transformative changes for free speech. The control over speech on social media required a unified front. Free speech is like water, it tends to find a way out. With social media, there was no way out because of the unified front of companies like Google, Apple and Facebook. Facebook is actually running commercials trying to convince people to embrace their own censorship. This message was reinforced by Democratic leaders like President Biden, who demanded that these companies expand censorship and curtail access to harmful viewpoints. Now this market has one major competitor selling a free speech product. The fear is that Musk might be proven right and that Twitter could become larger and more profitable by allowing more free speech. Facebook has not had much success in convincing customers to embrace censorship, but it may find shareholders wondering why the Facebook board (like the Twitter board) is undermining its own product as a communications company committed to limited speech. Another immediate change could be the forced exodus of a line of ardent censors from the company, with Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal (hopefully) at the head of line. Agrawal is one of the most anti-free-speech figures in Big Tech. After taking over as CEO, Agrawal quickly made clear that he wanted to steer the company beyond free speech and that the issue is not who can speak but “who can be heard.” However, once such figures are removed from Twitter, the question is how to re-establish a culture of free speech. The answer may be in the very distinction used by Democratic politicians and pundits to justify corporate censorship. For years, anti-free-speech figures have dismissed free speech objections to social media censorship by stressing that the First Amendment applies only to the government, not private companies. The distinction was always a dishonest effort to evade the implications of speech controls, whether implemented by the government or corporations. The First Amendment was never the exclusive definition of free speech. Free speech is viewed by many of us as a human right; the First Amendment only deals with one source for limiting it. Free speech can be undermined by private corporations as well as government agencies. This threat is even greater when politicians openly use corporations to achieve indirectly what they cannot achieve directly. Corporations clearly have free speech rights. Ironically, Democrats have long opposed such rights for companies, but they embrace such rights when it comes to censorship. The Democratic Party embraced corporate governance of free speech once these companies aligned themselves with their political agenda. Starbucks and every other company have every right to pursue a woke agenda. Social media companies, however, sell communications, not coffee. They should be in the business of free speech. Democrats have continued to treat the First Amendment as synonymous with free speech, as a way to justify greater censorship. Just last week, former President Barack Obama spoke at Stanford to flog this false line. Obama started by declaring himself, against every indication to the contrary, to be “pretty close to a First Amendment absolutist.” He then called for the censorship of anything that he considered “disinformation,” including “lies, conspiracy theories, junk science, quackery, racist tracts and misogynist screeds.” He was able to do that by emphasizing that “The First Amendment is a check on the power of the state. It doesn’t apply to private companies like Facebook or Twitter.” Well, what if it did? The Constitution does not impose the same standard on Twitter — but Musk could. He could order a new Twitter team to err on the side of free speech while utilizing First Amendment standards to maximize protections on the platform. In other words, if the government could not censor a tweet, Twitter would not do so. The key to such an approach is not to treat Twitter as akin to “government speech,” a category where the government has allowed major speech controls. Rather, tweets are very much as Musk has described them: akin to speech in “the digital town square.” If the government could not stop someone from speaking in a public forum like a town square, Twitter should not do so through private means. The value to tying private speech to First Amendment jurisprudence is that there is a steady array of cases illuminating this standard and its applications. Such a rule would admittedly allow a large array of offensive and objectionable speech — just as the First Amendment does in a public square. That is the price of free speech. This is, admittedly, not a perfect fit. Twitter needs to protect itself from civil liability in the form of trademark, copyright and other violations in the use of its platforms. Moreover, most sites (including my own blog) delete racist and offensive terms. That can be done through standard moderation systems or, preferably, optional filters for users to adopt on Twitter. There are also standard rules against doxxing as well as personal threats or privacy violations. Social media companies long had these limitations before plunging headlong into the type of content-based speech regulations made infamous by Twitter. Musk can use the baseline of the First Amendment with these limited augmentations to re-create the type of relatively open forums that once characterized the internet. I have long admitted to being a type of “internet originalist” who prefers precisely the digital town square concept embraced by Musk. Adopting the First Amendment standards would create a foundation for free speech that can be tweaked to accommodate narrow, well-defined limitations. The greatest challenge is not the restoration of free speech but the retention of such a site. Notably, figures like Hillary Clinton have suddenly turned from advocating corporate censorship to calling for good old-fashioned state censorship. Last week, Clinton called on the European Union to pass the Digital Services Act (DSA), a massive censorship measure that has received preliminary approval. Coming after Musk’s bid for Twitter, Clinton and others now want to use European countries to offer the same circumvention of the First Amendment. Rather than use a corporate surrogate, they would use an alternative state surrogate to force Twitter to censor content or face stiff penalties in Europe. Musk will have to fight that battle when it comes. In the interim, he can rally the public, as he did Twitter shareholders, to the cause of free speech. [ZH: Always willing to help, Elon Musk himself explained where he stands...] pic.twitter.com/Q9OjlJhi7f — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 28, 2022 Tyler Durden Thu, 04/28/2022 - 16:35.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytApr 28th, 2022

"Libs Of TikTok" WaPo-Dox Backfires After Account Gains 500,000 New Followers In One Week

'Libs Of TikTok' WaPo-Dox Backfires After Account Gains 500,000 New Followers In One Week Libs of TikTok - a Twitter account which aggregates videos posted on TikTok by deranged leftists - has gained over 500,000 new followers in the week since the Washington Post published a hit-piece against the owner of the account. As part of the smear campaign, WaPo 'journalist' Taylor Lorenz doxxed the woman who runs it - while innocent people who share the same name as the account owner were harassed for days. The account first made national headlines on April 14 after Twitter suspended it for 12 hours, citing "hateful conduct." That alone caused a jump in followers from 602,000 followers that Tuesday, to 630,000 by Saturday. 48 hours later, WaPo put out their hit piece - accusing Libs of TikTok of "spreading anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment." Lorenz notably posted information on the account owner's Real Estate license, which revealed personal information. WaPo subsequently removed the link with no explanation. And of course, Lorenz's snarky hit-piece completely backfired, as the account has gained over 500,000 new followers since it was published. via socialblade.com The jump in followers was also undoubtedly fueled in part by appearances by the account owner on Fox News' "Tucker Carlson Tonight" to discuss the intimidation campaign. In short, Twitter and Taylor Lorenz have nearly doubled Libs of TikTok's reach in their attempts to smear the conservative account ahead of midterms. Of course, it should also be noted that Twitter has seemingly "unshackled" conservative accounts over the last 72 hours following the news that Elon Musk was acquiring the social media giant. To wit, Libs of TikTok saw a jump of 110,000 followers on Wednesday. While I’m awesome and totally deserving of 87,000 new followers a day it seems that someone took the shackles off my account. Wonder if they’re burning the evidence before new mgmt comes in? pic.twitter.com/9Mso48qyNP — Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) April 26, 2022 Meanwhile, Journalist Tim Pool paid for a billboard in Times Square calling Lorenz and the Post out for the doxxing. Thanks to @TimCast, a billboard is up in Times Square exposing what The Washington Post did to @LibsOfTikTok. pic.twitter.com/y7MwrqGGZd — Tucker Carlson (@TuckerCarlson) April 28, 2022 In the meantime, Libs of TikTok will continue to send videos like this into the stratosphere: People on TikTok (an app targeting youth) continue to promote puberty blockers for kids saying they are harmless. Giving a child puberty blockers is child abuse. pic.twitter.com/fo7Jmbg9KF — Libs of TikTok (@libsoftiktok) April 28, 2022 Tyler Durden Thu, 04/28/2022 - 15:00.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytApr 28th, 2022

‘We’re Back.’ Far-Right Groups Celebrate Elon Musk’s Twitter Takeover

While much of the online world reacted with surprise and skepticism when news broke of Elon Musk’s stunning $44 billion acquisition of Twitter on Monday, some corners of the Internet broke out in jubilation. “Today is a massive cause for celebration!” one user posted on the messaging app Telegram. That user, a conspiracist who goes… While much of the online world reacted with surprise and skepticism when news broke of Elon Musk’s stunning $44 billion acquisition of Twitter on Monday, some corners of the Internet broke out in jubilation. “Today is a massive cause for celebration!” one user posted on the messaging app Telegram. That user, a conspiracist who goes by BioClandestine, was suspended from Twitter in February after sparking a viral conspiracy about the U.S. funding the development of bioweapons in Ukraine, which went on to be amplified by the Kremlin. All of that was about to change, he told his followers: “Moving forward, when massive stories like the Hunter Biden laptop and US biolabs arise, Twitter will allow the information to flow freely, instead of labeling these inconvenient truths as ‘Russian disinformation.’” [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] It’s still unclear what major changes, if any, Musk will ultimately implement at Twitter. But that hasn’t stopped a wide range of far-right influencers, conspiracists, and popular purveyors of disinformation and extremist ideologies from celebrating the takeover by the self-proclaimed “free speech absolutist” as a way to return to the platform. Read More: What Elon Musk Really Believes The eccentric tech billionaire is being hailed as an unlikely hero by far-right groups, from the Proud Boys to white nationalist activists and conspiracists—many of whom have been banned from Twitter. “We (Patriots) have a lot of unfinished business left to settle on Twitter,” an influencer named “Qtah” wrote on Telegram, which was echoed by QAnon figure Ron Watkins. “LETS F-CKING GOOO,” posted white nationalist commentator Nick Fuentes, who was banned from Twitter last year. “We’re back.” The deal is not set to close for another three to six months, but Musk has made no secret of his disdain for some of Twitter’s moderation policies. He has indicated that he envisions a more hands-off approach to make the platform a haven for unfettered expression, only removing content if it’s required by law. “If it’s a gray area, let the tweet exist,” Musk said in a TED Talk last week, echoing his previous statements that he thinks the company’s efforts to moderate legal but problematic, controversial, or offensive content have gone too far. Republicans and conservative groups have criticized these policies for censoring their voices and viewpoints. (Research from Twitter shows that rightwing partisan news sources have received a greater boost from Twitter’s algorithm than moderate or left-leaning news sources in the past.) But former employees, analysts, and experts have warned that efforts to roll back Twitter’s recent policies could lead to an uptick in disinformation, extremist content, harassment, and hate speech that the company has tried to crack down on for years. These stricter rules were developed slowly over the past decade as social media companies learned how bad actors could manipulate their platforms. In some countries, leaders have used Twitter to harass and silence critics, manipulate public opinion, and incite ethnic and religious violence. “Musk’s takeover does represent a really chaotic and uncertain moment, and in those kinds of chaotic moments it’s the forces that are most organized and most passionate that usually get their way,” says Emerson Brooking, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab. “And right now that is the far-right, right now that is hateful voices which were excluded from Twitter previously.” After many prominent far-right influencers, white nationalists, conspiracists, and grifters peddling political and health disinformation were banned from Twitter in recent years, legions of their followers swore off the platform and decamped to alternative ones. But Musk’s takeover seems to have convinced some of these users that they will be able to return to the app—and once again reach a wider audience. Read More: How Far-Right Personalities and Conspiracy Theorists Are Cashing in on the Pandemic Online Alternative social media platforms like Gab, GETTR, Parler and Donald Trump’s TRUTH social attract users of similar mindsets and make it more difficult to grow mass audiences by engaging with their detractors. (“Truth Social (terrible name) exists because Twitter censored free speech,” Musk tweeted on Wednesday.) Twitter has proven to be uniquely powerful when it comes to skewing the information ecosystem, says Alicia Wanless, director of the Partnership for Countering Influence Operations at the Carnegie Endowment for Peace in Washington. “It’s very telling that there is a body of users who are celebrating being able to come back, who likely are finding that they can’t reach or grow their audiences on those smaller platforms,” she says. “You’ll find more like-minded people” on apps like Gab, Wanless adds, “but you’re not necessarily hitting the mainstream.” These users recognize Twitter’s influence. “Twitter must be acquired and censorship halted on there to begin a slow-burn red-pilling process,” one user wrote on a popular QAnon forum, using the term for converting people to far-right beliefs. “Think a bit…How is trans agenda infiltrating every classroom so quickly?” another person wrote. “Twitter is the vehicle of narrative shaping.” Another agreed: “Right, Twitter can literally steer world events and more importantly the public’s perception of the meaning of world events.” America’s Frontline Doctors, a right-wing political group that has built a loyal following in anti-vaccine circles by spreading health disinformation and selling access to alternative Covid-19 cures, posted several articles about the Musk deal, including one encouraging people to use the #ThanksElon hashtag. “Twitter is free, and we the Truckers are ready to take over and prepare a massive campaign with the help of Elon Musk,” read a message on a popular “Truckers for Freedom” Telegram account that was originally started for anti-vaccine protests and has since become a catch-all for conspiracies and disinformation about COVID-19, elections, and the war in Ukraine. Despite the exultation from many of these groups, and warnings from experts and employees, Musk has yet to detail how or whether he intends to roll back Twitter’s moderation policies. But until he does, these groups have made it clear they see his deal as a victory. “Elon Musk buying Twitter,” one rightwing Telegram account said, “feels like the digital Berlin Wall coming down.”.....»»

Category: topSource: timeApr 27th, 2022

For The Narrative-Creators, The Play Is You... And You Are Not Real

For The Narrative-Creators, The Play Is You... And You Are Not Real Authored by 'Mr.Smith' via PeakProsperity.com, Shakespeare’s famously gory “Titus Andronicus” is replete with violence, including fourteen deaths. Yet it continues to be performed, and audiences continue to sign up for a frisson of fear and pity, because this is not real. After the play, the actors get up, wash off the fake blood, and join the playwrights and directors for drinks or dinner. If, like me, you’ve been wondering about why things are the way they are in today’s world, and how this relates, this is my explanation: For the actors, writers and directors who create real world narratives, the play is you. And you are not real. Actors and Reality Much has been made of the jarring dissonance between the heroic stand of the president and the people of Ukraine and the facile signaling of the Social Justice crowd. Feel free to pick your favorite exemplar, from the merely stupid banning of Russian cats and renaming of White Russian cocktails to the more sinister cancelling of Russian performers, or the horrific threats and vandalism to places serving Russian food. There’s no shortage of content here. And, as we’ll get to shortly, that’s the point. Ukraine’s policy goals do not map fully to those of the United States (think Azov Battalion, for starters), and we can and should carefully consider our response with that awareness. But this does not change Ukrainian heroism. Zelensky wants planes, a no-fly zone, and he would no doubt love NATO boots on the ground. Prudence may dictate we provide him none of these, but it is worth noting that any of us in his circumstances would likely be asking for the same things. Any of us who stayed during the onslaught, that is. Clearly, Putin’s bet from the beginning included Zelensky on the first plane out to serve as the leader of the Ukrainian government in (comfortable) exile, after which the dismemberment of that nation would rapidly become a fait accompli. Zelensky was having none of it. He stayed, and continues to stay, at great personal risk to himself and his family. He is, unquestionably, a hero. It is the contrast between these two extremes (the banning of Russian-themed menus et al vs. Zelensky’s stand) that provides ample opportunity to reflect on the idea that many Americans are just not serious people. Unsurprisingly, their response to events in Ukraine has been to simply cut and paste from the outrage-of-the-week playbook: change profile picture, use a hashtag, find some people to cancel, and congratulate oneself on how virtuous one is. In the real world, rational people are tempted to say, “None of this ‘support’ matters”. It’s just empty signaling. So why is it happening, why has it become so pervasive, and how should we contend with it? Examination of a few high-salience topics can shed some light. Consider this first in the context of Covid and the by now well-known case of the Lab Leak Theory. Peter Daszak of the Eco-Health Alliance was the prime mover behind the infamous Lancet Letter branding any lab leak speculation uninformed conspiracy. This makes perfect sense when considering his incentives. Daszak (and Fauci, and others) had something to lose here. Perhaps a lot to lose. U.S. funding of Gain of Function research in Chinese labs resulting in a global pandemic is, to put it mildly, not a very good look and could be costly both financially and criminally. Explaining is not excusing. But while we can wish for better, observing actors respond to their incentives is nothing if not proof that the world works in an orderly way. Indeed, the conservative position that we are and should be a nation of laws, norms, and standards implicitly concedes the point that our better angels are not always ascendant. If some people had enormously large reasons to attempt a coverup of something, it’s hardly controversial that some would choose to do so. And that’s where those laws, norms, and standards come in. In an environment with many disinterested actors, those entities without skin in the game would easily out-produce the relatively small number of individuals invested in a particular narrative. In that environment, the idea that zoonotic transmission and escape from a biolab in the same city where researchers were known to be working on bat viruses were both very real possibilities would be obvious. But that is not at all how it went down. Instead, the idea that it might be prudent to investigate what role the lab in Wuhan may have played in the pandemic became roughly equivalent to arguing Flat Earth Theory. What the hell was going on here? Did everyone in the American media landscape owe Daszak a favor? Did Fauci have a secret cache of compromising emails and photos to dangle J. Edgar Hoover style over the heads of troublesome journalists? Why on earth would hundreds or thousands in the media run cover for these guys and for the Chinese government to the extent of making claims that mere investigation of the possibility of a lab leak was racist? More puzzling still is the idea that there is nothing about either potential source of the pandemic that presupposes an explicitly liberal or conservative position. Indeed, one could easily flip the script and imagine a campaign urging people to “follow the science” rather than resorting to xenophobic tropes about savages in wet markets. Until, that is, Donald Trump and other conservatives brought it up, which was like Christmas came early for Daszak and his co-conspirators. For the progressive left, the endorsement of anything by President Trump was more than sufficient cause to oppose it, and thus the wheels began to turn. None of this should be surprising to anyone who’s been paying attention. At its heart, this is an expression of the luxury of operating without consequences. The luxury of not having to think operationally. To be clear, what I am saying is that Daszak and his cronies were able to leverage a system in which those with the loudest megaphones literally did not and do not care where and how Covid originated. For them, it just doesn’t matter. The pandemic is just background noise. That may seem like a strong statement. So, why and in what sense did they not care? Gain Not Trust In a recent episode of Bari Weiss’ podcast Honestly, journalist and academic Yuval Levin articulated a theory of the change from institutions-as-formational to institutions-as-platforms. In his view, institutions of all types formerly served to develop the individuals inside them. If for example, you worked at the New York Times as a young journalist, you would be shaped by the ethos of that institution, informed by the repository of values developed over time within that structure. According to Levin, this has been replaced by the notion of institution-as-platform, the idea is that these structures exist as a launching pad for one’s personal brand. Understood from this perspective, the great Lab Leak crackdown suddenly makes a great deal of sense. One of the baseline branding positions operating was “not-Trump.” I am completely persuaded that if Trump had spoken out in favor of the wet market theory, we’d all have been loudly advised to “follow the science” in precisely the opposite direction. It is also worth noting that these personal brands are rivalrous goods. Having a “take,” even the right one, is necessary, but not sufficient. Your take must outcompete the other signals in the marketplace in order to claim disproportionate attention. And this explains why the Lab Leak Theory had to be, “conspiracist,” “anti-science,” and eventually, of course, “racist.” The more extreme the position is, the more effective it is in gaining audience-capture. And this is not part of the story; it’s the entire story. There is effectively nothing behind the curtain. Because of these powerful incentives, what has happened without us realizing it is the creation of a public dialogue between a small, privileged elite that is fixed on in-group signaling and status-capture. The policy concerns or post-pandemic reforms that should differentially apply depending upon the origin of the disease diminish in importance to the extent that they functionally do not matter at all. And people impacted by those decisions by extension do not matter either. They are extras and scenery. The Damaging Script This goes a long way toward explaining the persistence of the otherwise bewildering advocacy that has permeated American life. Democratic New York Mayor Eric Adams noted that the Defund the Police crowd “are a lot of young white affluent people.” Of course they are. Poll after poll reveals that those who live in high-crime neighborhoods want more police, not less. Like any other sane person, those citizens also want their police officers to be professional and not corrupt, but “I want my police officers to fight crime and be professional” is just not an exciting take. From this perspective, insanity like Defund the Police isn’t surprising, but rather inevitable. It is the position pushed to its logical extreme. And that is why arguing with this group is useless. If you wonder why the obvious fact that increased crime disproportionally affects black and brown people remains unpersuasive to them, the reason is maybe scarier than you think. It is not that they are stupid; it is that they just don’t care, and they never will. They are completely unconcerned about the consequences of implementing this policy in the real world. And to take it a step further, they don’t even care about the policy itself. The proclamation and the signaling is the whole story. In a fundamental sense, any person killed or otherwise victimized by increased crime is just not real. Extras and scenery. Nothing to see here. Perhaps nothing is more indicative of this trend than the increasingly unhinged claims emerging from the trans-activist community, as LGB became LGBT and now for some is properly expressed as LGBTQQIP2SAA, in order to be “inclusive” to intersex, pansexual, asexual, and two-spirit people. For an outsider, it can all seem like satire. How could anyone engage in these abbreviation acrobatics unironically? It is no surprise that all of this has continued to expand since the 2015 Obergefell ruling which legalized gay marriage. Effectively, the war was over, and the gay community won. Resoundingly. Despite that, it is instructive to note here that there’s no incentive to just take the W, as the kids say, and move on. Satisfaction, and even victory, simply does not move the needle. Outrage is the play when competing for eyeballs and clicks, and thus we have incomprehensible acronyms, death threats to J.K. Rowling, of all people, for having the temerity to state flatly that men and women are different, and an epidemic of medical intervention involving children is something for which future societies will likely judge us very harshly, with good reason. For outsiders, the criticism seems insane. That is because, once again, we are not the audience. What we are seeing is a process of in-group jousting for status, where increasingly bizarre formulations become predictable and indeed necessary to gain attention. “I disagree with J.K. Rowling” is hardly a winning message, especially compared with “J.K. Rowling threatens my right to exist!” Thus, once again, appeals to reason, biology, or even compassion for a generation of children we are harming irrevocably do not and will not work. No one affected by these positions exists in any meaningful way because, again, they are not real. By far the best example of this phenomenon is Black Lives Matter, a marketing triumph that proved beyond all doubt that these tactics can work, work well, and most importantly, be monetized. The familiar script is here, but no one has ever executed it better, as activists turned their rallying cry into a movement indistinguishable from religion. No nuance or difference of opinion was tolerated. Even to remain silent was proof of apostacy. The net result? More than $60 million, most of which remains unaccounted for, and a series of high-end real estate purchases by the activists behind the whole thing. No policy achievements of any kind, because of course those were never the point from the beginning, as was obvious to anyone paying attention. Inside BLM co-founder Patrisse Khan-Cullors’ million-dollar real estate buying binge. Photo source: New York Post An attempt at real policy change involves engaging stakeholders, broadening your base, creating consensus, and finding ways to deliver wins for various groups in your coalition. Which to be fair, is a lot of work. It’s much easier to simply use any police shooting of a black citizen, regardless of the circumstances, as a fundraiser. Does anyone seriously believe BLM grifters wanted fewer police shootings? On the contrary, I promise you they wanted more, because each shooting represented an economic event. As in the examples above, BLM created an extremely effective in-group dialogue that served to funnel money into their pockets without any requirement to pursue or achieve any tangible outcomes. And the downstream impacts have been significant, as reduced public trust in law enforcement and plummeting morale among officers have contributed to a dramatic increase in crime which, again, disproportionately affects minority communities. The response to this from BLM? Condemn the black reporter who exposed their murky finances and questionable real estate transactions as racist, smear the black Harvard economist as a sexual predator, and suggest that even the financial reporting required of non-profits is, you guessed it, racist. It’s not that hard to parse this: BLM activists are not friends or allies of black communities whatsoever. Instead, we come back to the same point: everyone outside of the in-group are just extras and scenery. Including those for whom they purport to advocate. None of them are real. Luxury Beliefs Rob Henderson calls all of this a symptom of “Luxury Beliefs.” According to Henderson, these are “ideas and opinions that confer status on the rich at very little cost while taking a toll on the lower class.” What we have is a catechism, a portfolio of dogma that operates as a signaling mechanism among the elite. And so, in addition to “Follow the Science” on Covid, “Trans Women are Real Women”, and “Black Lives Matter”, we have a host of other statements expressed as moral imperatives, including things like “Healthy at Any Size”, “All Family Structures are Equal”, “Open Borders”, etc. All of this can be considered an unexpected and unwelcome consequence of our own success. The complex, exquisitely-tuned supply chains that funnel us goods and services have become so remarkably effective they are essentially invisible. Elites don’t have to worry about how things get done, how X leads to Y, or how thing A gets to place B. It just happens. Magically. Invisibly. How the sausage is made is a question for smaller minds. In my view, Henderson gets one thing wrong about his theory. Luxury Beliefs are not in fact, the provenance of the rich, but rather of the educational elite, some of whom are also rich in the bargain. Journalists, other media members, academics, and activists typically have little to no experience in actual business and even less incentive to ever gain any. The effortless flow of goods and services they experience allows them the freedom from having to think operationally or consequentially. Over the past two years, COVID revealed and supercharged the insular status of these elites. If you talk to business owners, no matter how wealthy they may be, who vitally need to think operationally and consequentially every day, you find considerably less support for these elitist notions. All of this is bad enough when locked in some academic ivory tower, but as we’ve seen, this has escaped into the American Wild with terrifying effect. Crime, inflation, record border crossings, education, and more. Pick your topic, as the list goes on and on. The Final Act Which brings us back to Ukraine as the setting for the ridiculous virtue signaling and posturing by these same luxury elites. It is jarring when juxtaposed against actual tanks and soldiers, but it is just more of the same. I stated earlier that these are not serious people, but that is not entirely accurate. They are extremely serious, just not about anything other than their own internal conversations. Which then brings us back to “Titus Andronicus” and the reason behind the reason. These people will not change, and they will not be persuaded by your arguments, your statistics, and your facts. Because the people who make any of the things elites consume and the people elites purport to stand up for are all equally irrelevant. Performance is the point. The performance is the whole thing, and the actors, playwrights and directors aren’t taking suggestions from you, the extras and the scenery. Which leads us to the final act: maybe it’s time to think about shutting down the whole play. Tyler Durden Mon, 04/25/2022 - 05:00.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytApr 25th, 2022

The UK"s first transgender MP is from Boris Johnson"s own party, but his government wants to "ostracise trans people," say campaigners

Activists and academics tell Insider that having the first trans MP isn't enough to make the changes the LGBTQ community needs in the UK. Boris Johnson (L) and a march for transgender rights in Westminster, London (R).Photo by Steve Reigate - Pool/Getty Images, Wiktor Szymanowicz/Future Publishing via Getty Images The UK saw its first transgender MP come out on March 30.  The historic moment could change attitudes toward trans people, but activists and academics were doubtful.  The day after Jamie Wallis came out, the government U-turned on a promise to ban conversion therapy for trans people.  Close to 3 am on March 30, the Conservative MP Jamie Wallis wrote an emotive statement on his life with gender dysphoria, and he came out as transgender. Wallis explained that some recent, horrific traumas — including being blackmailed over his gender identity and raped— had recently prompted him to share his true self with the world. Boris Johnson opened Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons on Wednesday, saying: "The whole house stands with you, and we will give you the support you need to live freely, as yourself."—Jamie Wallis MP (@JamieWallisMP) March 30, 2022 Wallis' coming out, a significant moment in British social history, could have been an opportunity to change UK attitudes to transgender rights, but activists and academics told Insider they were not hopeful that this would be possible in a country led by Prime Minister Johnson.Indeed, the day after Wallis came out, and on the International Transgender Day of Visibility, the government U-turned on its manifesto commitment to ban conversion therapy for trans and non-binary people. The LGBT Foundation described it as an "appalling decision."Lui Asquith, the Director of Legal and Policy at Mermaids, a UK charity working to support transgender children and teenagers, told Insider: "It's an extraordinary moment and explicit in what's happening. We're working essentially with an anti-gender government. In my opinion, this is a very dark day for LGBT politics."A Conservative MP in Boris Johnson's government told Insider that the prime minister's position was to "ostracise trans people." —LGBT Foundation (@LGBTfdn) April 1, 2022 Cleo Madeleine, Communications Officer at transgender charity Gendered Intelligence, said the UK's first trans MP would not be a "turning point for the government without seeing concrete action from the government."She said its relationship with gender was expressed in "a 48-hour news cycle in which we have Boris Johnson cracking jokes about trans people at a dinner party, a trans MP coming out, and then a leaked document showing rollbacks of conversion therapy legislation." British Prime Minister Boris Johnson reacts during a PMQs session at the House of CommonsUK Parliament/Jessica Taylor/Handout via REUTERSArthur Webber, a transgender activist, freelance journalist, and former council candidate for the Labour party told Insider that he's not optimistic about Wallis' coming out changing political attitudes toward trans rights.The solidarity for the trans community and any outward support for Wallis will last "a couple of days," said Webber.He is "concerned for Jamie's mental health, just knowing exactly what some of these politicians are like, and how some of them are quite likely going to throw him under the bus at some point for the sake of a vox pop."  A study by LGBTQ rights charity Stonewall found that almost half of trans people have considered suicide.Part of what is so damaging to trans people's mental health, Stonewall says, is the rate at which they are "outed" when their identity is revealed without their consent. In writing his coming-out statement on Twitter, Wallis revealed someone had blackmailed him, told his father about his gender dysphoria, and demanded £50,000 for their silence. Finn Mackay, a senior sociology lecturer at the University of the West of England, said that Johnson's government had fanned the flames of this culture war, making for a challenging environment for LGBTQ people in the UK."Their government has helped this scrutinizing focus on trans people, who are just trying to get on with their lives," said Mackay.While there is much pessimism about the direction of the government's trans narrative, Mackay said there were also identifiable political allies. "I want to take the opportunity to thank them and thank their advocacy because it's hard at the moment, but they're there."Is the UK headed for a US-style 'culture war'?The Houses of ParliamentRichard Baker/In Pictures/GettyThe UK has been embroiled in a febrile discourse over trans rights for years — with its parliament being no exception. On International Women's Day, a debate on March 8 in the House of Commons was, at times, hijacked from a discussion on women who have lost their lives to femicide, and women in Ukraine at particular risk from war, into a graphic conversation on gender, genitalia, and identity.Sir Bernard Jenkins, a senior Conservative MP, chose to highlight rapes committed by men "presenting themselves as women."Speaking in the House of Commons on March 23, Prime Minister Johnson said, "We must recognize when people want to make a transition in their lives that they should be treated with the maximum possible generosity and respect," adding "when it comes to distinguishing between man and woman, the basic facts of biology remain overwhelmingly important."—Mikey Smith (@mikeysmith) March 19, 2022 The Conservatives, lagging in the polls, are looking for ways to recapture the lead from the left-leaning Labour party, led by Sir Keir Starmer. Targeting gender-critical issues, identity debates, and woke-ism is a way to fire up the party's base. "Is the UK headed for a US-style 'culture war?' asked King's College London's Policy Institute, researching the phenomenon. Hours before Wallis came out, Conservative MPs gathered for a dinner in central London. Johnson, known for his wordplay and joke-telling,  spoke at the event. "Good evening, ladies and gentleman, or as Keir Starmer would put it, people assigned female or male at birth," he quipped. Wallis was listening in the room, say reports.  Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytApr 3rd, 2022

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

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

Category: dealsSource: nytMar 11th, 2022

Insiders say RAINN, the nation"s foremost organization for victims of sexual assault, is in crisis over allegations of racism and sexism

22 current and former staffers said that RAINN, which has deep ties to Hollywood and corporate America, is facing an internal reckoning. Scott Berkowitz, RAINN's co-founder and CEO, began his career in politics, advising former Sen. Gary Hart's 1984 presidential campaign at just 14 years old.RAINN; Kris Connor/Getty Images; Alyssa Powell/Insider22 current and former staffers say the organization favored by Hollywood and corporate America is in crisis. 'How can RAINN be helping survivors externally, when they're traumatizing survivors and their own employees internally?'April Cisneros says the first time she was sexually assaulted at her private Christian college was in 2015, while she was playing piano in the school's conservatory. A music tutor came into the small practice room and began to touch her. The second time, one year later, she remembers waking up in a hotel room near campus after drinks with classmates. One man was forcing his hand into her pants while another ejaculated on top of her. The incidents were devastating, and further compounded by a conservative religious community that lacked empathy for her pain or a framework to understand it. "Maybe it's demons attached to you that attracted this fate," she recalls one pastor telling her. Others placed the blame on her, wondering if she set the right boundaries with men. While studying abroad at Oxford University in 2016, in an effort to get far away from what she suffered back home, Cisneros attempted to take her own life.Soon after, she Googled for help, and the website for the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network, or RAINN, flashed across her computer screen. RAINN, which was founded in 1994 as a nonprofit, bills itself as the nation's largest anti-sexual-violence organization, operating a 24-hour hotline for victims and pushing for state and federal policies to punish sex offenders and support survivors. It has deep ties to corporate America and Hollywood, partnering with Google and TikTok and media like "I May Destroy You" and "Promising Young Woman," both of which center on sexual assault. (Insider itself utilizes RAINN's hotline; our publishing system automatically appends a referral link to RAINN at the bottom of every story about sexual assault.) In 2019, it reported nearly $16 million in revenue. It says its programs have helped 3.8 million people, and 301,455 people called its hotlines last year.The organization was a beacon in a difficult time, and Cisneros soon threw herself into supporting it. She cycled 1,500 miles across the country for a fundraising drive; later, after the Trump administration rolled back Title IX protections for campus-sexual-assault victims, she decided to get involved more directly. April Cisneros biked across the US to raise money for RAINN.April Cisneros"I was so angry," Cisneros told Insider. "I just remember thinking, 'Well, why don't I just, like, go try to be a part of the solution?'" She began working for RAINN in 2018 as a communications associate.But she soon discovered that it looked very different from the inside. Instead of the supportive, inclusive victims' advocacy organization that offered her hope in the depths of her depression, Cisneros found herself in a demoralizing workplace overrun by what she described as racism and sexism. She recalled that during the filming of a video about survivors' stories, her boss asked a participant to smile while recounting a sexual assault. "If you don't," Cisneros remembered her boss saying, "it'll look like you have a bitch face."Cisneros is among 22 current and former RAINN staffers who spoke to Insider and described a roiling crisis over race and gender in the over-200-person-strong nonprofit. These people described a culture in which a routine training was beset by racist caricaturing, executives ignored employees' requests for change, and people who were deemed political risks — including sexual-assault survivors — were silenced. According to these accounts, in one instance, a supervisor badgered an employee during the time she took off to recover from an abortion. In another, an Asian staffer was replaced on a project with a white man after their boss deemed him a better fit because of his race and gender. One staffer sent a resignation letter, obtained by Insider, in which she bemoaned "toxic managerial behavioral patterns" and worried that "young employees like myself, many of them survivors themselves, are currently being treated like their rights at work do not matter, like their comfort and security and health at work doesn't matter, like the skills they bring to work are worthless."RAINN declined to make its founder and president, Scott Berkowitz, available for an interview. In a statement, the group said it had made great strides in diversifying its workplace and addressing the concerns of its employees of color. It accused the current and former staffers who came forward to Insider of providing "incomplete, misleading, and defamatory" information about "a handful of long-outdated and disproven allegations.""RAINN is proud of the work our committed staff do, day in and day out, to support survivors of sexual violence," the statement read. "As an organization, we owe it to our committed staff to provide a work environment where they feel safe, appreciated, and heard … Over the last several years, like most organizations, RAINN has worked to expand and implement comprehensive Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion policies and goals. We regularly update staff on our progress toward achieving those goals, and solicit feedback on potential areas of improvement. While there is always room to build on our efforts, we are continually working to foster an open dialogue between employees and leadership to ensure ideas and concerns can be heard and addressed."RAINN hired Clare Locke LLP, a boutique libel law firm that has gained a reputation for representing clients facing #MeToo allegations, including Matt Lauer and the former CBS News executive Jeffrey Fager, to respond to Insider's inquiries. During Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation hearing, the firm's cofounder Libby Locke came to his defense, writing: "No wonder Judge Kavanaugh is angry. Any man falsely accused of sexual assault would be."When Insider asked RAINN whether Clare Locke's work was consistent with the organization's mission and values, the firm's partner Thomas Clare emailed a statement attributed to RAINN: "Given your questions contained outright lies about RAINN and our staff, and publication of those claims is potentially defamatory, we hired defamation counsel. We recognize we have a right to legal representation, and our attorneys have helped us disprove your ridiculous and libelous allegations."Some RAINN employees fear that the corporate dysfunction has poisoned the work of the largest sexual-violence organization in the country, which they continue to view as crucial, despite their own experiences. "How can RAINN be helping survivors externally when they're traumatizing survivors and their own employees internally?" Cisneros said.How RAINN became Hollywood and corporate America's go-to partner Through savvy marketing and hard work, RAINN has become to sexual assault what Planned Parenthood is to reproductive health: the premier, full-service resource for people struggling with a crisis and the ultimate destination for donations to help people who have been victimized.The global embrace of the #MeToo movement, and the contemporary focus on the depth and pervasiveness of sexual assault, has further aided RAINN's ascension. Companies in crisis often turn to the organization to telegraph their commitment to social responsibility. After dozens of women sued Lyft, claiming they were assaulted by its drivers, the company worked with RAINN to roll out extensive safety initiatives and contributed $1.5 million to its coffers.Hollywood has also embraced the organization. RAINN was cofounded by the Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Tori Amos, who promoted the organization's hotline at her concerts and sat on its advisory board. In 2018, Timotheé Chalamet pledged his earnings from Woody Allen's "A Rainy Day in New York" to groups including RAINN, as did Ben Affleck from productions affiliated with Harvey Weinstein. Christina Ricci, a star of Showtime's breakout hit "Yellowjackets," has served as an official spokesperson since 2007, and the platinum-selling pop artist Taylor Swift has donated to the organization, something it publicized from its social-media accounts.—RAINN (@RAINN) April 8, 2021 But Berkowitz has largely stayed out of the public eye. He began his career as a political wunderkind, advising Sen. Gary Hart's 1984 presidential campaign at just 14 years old. A profile in his grandparents' hometown newspaper in Pennsylvania said he was personally responsible for collecting $100,000 in donations for Hart — a feat achieved in between classes at American University, where he was already a sophomore. After graduation, Berkowitz continued to work in and around politics. His experience in the field, he said in a 2019 interview with RAINN, taught him about the "extent of the problem" of sexual violence in the United States and the opportunity to fill this "service gap.""I knew next to nothing about the issue," Berkowitz said. "It just seemed like a good idea." Christina Ricci has been a RAINN spokeswoman since 2007.Michael Kovac/WireImage/Getty ImagesEarly on, Berkowitz ran the day-to-day operations, and his early fundraising prowess served him well. After a series of sexual assaults at the infamous Woodstock '99 festival, promoters and record labels did damage control by giving RAINN 1% of the proceeds from the festival's CD and video releases. "In raw self-interest, the money and attention that would come from it would allow RAINN to promote the hotline better, provide more counseling, print more brochures," Berkowitz told the Village Voice. RAINN's budget swelled in tandem with its brand. Total revenue rocketed from more than $1.2 million in 2009 to nearly $16 million in 2019. Berkowitz's compensation grew from $168,000 to over $481,000 over the same period. Even though RAINN's tax returns list Berkowitz as its president and indicate that he was paid nearly a half a million dollars in the year ending in May 2020, RAINN says that he is not in fact an employee and does not receive a salary. Instead, for reasons that RAINN did not explain, he is paid through A&I Publishing, a company solely owned by Berkowitz that contracts with RAINN. "Scott Berkowitz is paid solely as an independent contractor through A&I Publishing and does not receive any salary or benefits," it said. "He has never received any employee compensation from RAINN."RAINN's tax records tell a slightly different story. The group has reported paying a total of $561,500 in consulting fees for "strategic and financial oversight" to A&I Publishing from 2001 to 2006, during which time Berkowitz drew no salary from RAINN. Since 2007, though, RAINN has reported directly paying Berkowitz a total of $3,529,000. (RAINN says he "is recused from all board consideration of his compensation.")Over the same period, RAINN also began reporting payments to A&I to service $288,000 in debt that it owed the consultancy at 5% interest. RAINN's tax records don't reflect that the organization ever received any cash from A&I; instead, the loan is described in its 2006 tax return as "issuance of debt for prior year services." RAINN says the loan, which has been repaid, stems from "deferred payment for fees" that RAINN owed A&I "for a number of years."'How does an organization like RAINN make such an egregious mistake?'With the Woodstock '99 deal, Berkowitz struck on a highly successful strategy — corporate penance — and he would often return to it. But he also looked to the public sector for funding opportunities.One of RAINN's largest sources of revenue — $2 million a year — is its contract to run the Department of Defense's Safe Helpline, which offers confidential, anonymous counseling to members of the military who have been affected by sexual violence. Multiple staffers who spoke with Insider said Berkowitz was exceedingly sensitive about maintaining the contract. They said that he had gone to great lengths to stay in the Department of Defense's good graces and that they believe RAINN has at times been overly deferential to its interests. Michael Wiedenhoeft-Wilder in February 2022.Evan Jenkins for InsiderMichael Wiedenhoeft-Wilder, a former flight attendant and roller-rink operator who previously served in the Navy as a medic, said that in 1982, just months after he enlisted, a Navy physician raped him. The doctor, who outranked Wiedenhoeft-Wilder, threatened him with prison time if he came forward. Wiedenhoeft-Wilder said it was the first of multiple sexual assaults he suffered, all of which resulted in a diagnosis of complex post-traumatic stress disorder.Wiedenhoeft-Wilder stayed silent about the assault for nearly 30 years. He became depressed and experienced paranoid suspicions that the government was spying on him, ready to silence him if he ever told the truth about his assault.But decades of therapy empowered Wiedenhoeft-Wilder to eventually come forward. He discovered the Safe Helpline, which then led him to RAINN's Speakers Bureau, a roster of more than 4,000 volunteer survivors who share their stories with the media, student groups, and other organizations. When Wiedenhoeft-Wilder signed up with the bureau, his story was selected for publication on RAINN's website. In October 2019, he worked with April Cisneros, who helped manage the Speakers Bureau, to prepare the story.But the story was abruptly killed. Cisneros said Berkowitz decided to pull Wiedenhoeft-Wilder's account once he realized that it involved an officer assaulting an enlisted man."Once we actually wrote up his story, Scott was like, 'No, we're not even getting into this,'" Cisneros told Insider, adding that Berkowitz refused to send the story to the Department of Defense for review, as it routinely did with accounts of military sexual assault. Cisneros said Berkowitz told members of the communications team that promoting the testimony of a man who had been assaulted by one of his superiors could harm the military's reputation and upset the Department of Defense. Cisneros told Insider she believed that Berkowitz did not want to risk losing the government's funding.Wiedenhoeft-Wilder was shocked. He had spent time with Cisneros revisiting the details of an assault that haunted him for 30 years, all for nothing."I've spent the last several days trying to deal with the devastating news that the article about my military sexual trauma being canceled for someone else," he told Cisneros in an email on October 31 that Insider reviewed. "How does an organization like RAINN make such an egregious mistake? Do you have any idea how this mistake has affected me? It's absolutely devastating. Just one more failure for me.""I feel victimized all over again," he wrote. "What did I ever do to you people to deserve this!"Cisneros, worried about Wiedenhoeft-Wilder's mental health, forwarded the exchange to Berkowitz and Keeli Sorensen, then the vice president of victim services, she said. "Maybe you just tell him you made a mistake," Cisneros recalled Sorensen telling her. She felt Sorensen's suggestion was, in effect, to "[fall] on my sword for RAINN."Cisneros told Insider that she told Wiedenhoeft-Wilder a lie about a scheduling conflict and blamed the mix-up entirely on herself. Wiedenhoeft-Wilder didn't believe her. "I know she wasn't telling me the truth," he told Insider. "I knew it wasn't her fault. It was a really weird, very strange thing to do to someone."Cisneros was heartbroken. She felt that she'd betrayed Wiedenhoeft-Wilder's trust and was distressed because she felt an anti-sexual-violence organization had asked her to deceive a rape victim. "What's so sad is people treat him like he's so paranoid about being silenced by the military, but that paranoia is at least … legitimate," Cisneros said. "And it happened again at RAINN."Sorensen denied having any involvement in the incident and said she was "not authorized in any way to instruct Ms. Cisneros in this matter," adding that Berkowitz had "total authority" with respect to the publication of Wiedenhoeft-Wilder's story. She said she did not know why Berkowitz pulled the testimony."I had no part in the matter," Sorensen said, "but it's my recollection, based on my conversation with Ms. Cisneros, that she had promised Mr. Wiedenhoeft-Wilder that she would publish their story before having secured final approval from Mr. Berkowitz."RAINN also said that if Cisneros had promised Wiedenhoeft-Wilder a spot on its website, it had "no knowledge of that and she was not authorized to make that commitment."Cisneros disputed that. She said that she provided Berkowitz with details of Wiedenhoeft-Wilder's story before reaching out and that he approved. "Scott gave me the greenlight to move ahead with the process if [Wiedenhoeft-Wilder] expressed interest," Cisneros said."We have no recollection as to why this survivor's story did not run in the fall of 2019," RAINN said, adding that some isolated quotes from Wiedenhoeft-Wilder's interview — stripped of their military context — were shared on RAINN's social-media accounts. The statement pointed to other stories from survivors of sexual assault in the military that RAINN had published; none of those featured scenarios in which an attacker outranked their victim.Evan Jenkins for Insider"We are not aware of the Department of Defense expressing concern over RAINN's coverage of military survivors," RAINN said, "nor is it standard practice for RAINN to consult with [the department] regarding the material and resources it publishes unless they directly mention Safe Helpline. RAINN frequently publishes the stories of military survivors and will continue to do so as it works to carry out the organization's mission to eradicate sexual violence from every corner of society."Anxiety around RAINN's relationship with the Department of Defense came up again in 2019. Six former staffers said one RAINN employee felt compelled to frantically retract public comments she had made in support of Black trans victims of violence amid the Trump administration's efforts to expel trans people from the military. The woman suddenly and mysteriously departed the organization on the day her remarks were published.(The woman's identity is known to Insider, which is not naming her because doing so may expose her to professional harm. The woman declined to comment for the record.) On March 7, 2019, to mark International Women's Day, the employee was one of "8 everyday women" featured by The Lily, a women-focused website published by The Washington Post. The Lily post listed the woman's age, background, position at RAINN, and responses to a questionnaire about her favorite fast-food chains and movies. But she came to fear that her seemingly uncontroversial answer to one question could become a professional liability.InsiderThe answer came a few months after the Trump-era transgender military ban went into effect, reanimating debates over trans rights. Two sources told Insider that the woman told them that RAINN's leadership expressed alarm over her contribution to the article and was frustrated that the woman had spoken to the media without getting consent from leadership.One source told Insider that Jodi Omear, then RAINN's vice president of communications, said minutes after reading the article that it was "too controversial" and that she worried it "could jeopardize our contract with the Department of Defense." The source said Omear escalated the article to Berkowitz and the human-resources director, Claudia Kolmer, because she was confident they would feel the same.Omear told Insider that because the former staffer had been under her supervision, it would be "inappropriate" to comment on her exit from the organization.On the day the questionnaire was published, the woman called the reporter at The Lily who'd conducted the interview and asked her to remove the reference to RAINN, as well as her comments about trans people, according to four sources familiar with the situation. The writer agreed. Insider viewed an original version of the interview that contained the employee's affiliation and comments about trans rights; the version currently published online does not.Two former employees said the woman was escorted out of the office by human resources the day the story was published. RAINN said that "it is standard practice that an employee separating from the organization is accompanied by a RAINN human resources representative when leaving the premises in order to collect their office keys, security fob and other credentials," adding that it "reached a separation agreement" with the woman a week after the story was published.One staffer who sat near her described the woman as a "fabulous" employee who was heavily invested in the projects they were set to work on together."It was one of the reasons why it was so shocking," the staffer said. "Like, where'd she go?"In its statement, RAINN claimed that the woman's remarks were an unauthorized attempt to speak on behalf of the Pentagon. "[The RAINN staffer] spoke with a Washington Post reporter on-the-record, on behalf of RAINN and the Department of Defense Safe Helpline, which she was not authorized to do," the statement said. "Contractually RAINN is barred from speaking on behalf of the Department of Defense or Safe Helpline." The Lily billed the interview as an opportunity to "step inside the lives of 8 everyday women." Aside from identifying her employer and job description — a format applied to other women featured in the post — the woman's interview did not touch on RAINN or the Department of Defense. Instead, she answered questions about her favorite body part and what she would change about her upbringing if she could.Still, RAINN said, the woman broke the rules: "The issue at hand centered around a clear violation of RAINN policy. RAINN supports all transgender survivors and has worked to remove the barriers to reporting sexual violence in LGBTQ communities, and to elevate the stories of transgender survivors, particularly for transgender persons of color for whom sexual violence is all too prevalent."Asked why, if that were the case, the woman would ask The Lily specifically to remove her comments about trans victims, RAINN said it was "unaware of any evidence indicating [the woman] was pressured to retract or remove" the comments. "RAINN is always mindful of honoring its contractual obligations not to speak on behalf of the DoD and the Safe Helpline," it said. "The fact someone commented on other subject matter or issues was irrelevant."A white male staffer was deemed a better fitJackii Wang joined RAINN's public-policy team in 2019, hopeful that she could use her experience working in national congressional offices to advance legislation that would help sexual-assault survivors. But she said her boss, RAINN's vice president of public policy, Camille Cooper, instead saddled her with administrative responsibilities like writing greeting cards. Wang said Cooper regularly discounted her ideas and "berated" her when they disagreed on issues the younger staffer considered minor. It became "psychologically terrifying," Wang said. Wang didn't immediately view that as discriminatory — multiple staffers said many of Cooper's employees complained of similar treatment. But during a performance review in December 2019, Wang said, Cooper attempted to explain her perception of Wang as defiant by rattling off stereotypes that Wang felt were "very targeted towards my Asian identity.""Camille asked me questions like, you know, 'Is your family very strict?' 'Do they expect perfectionism from you?' ... 'What was your childhood like?' Do I have problems with authority because of my family background?" Wang told Insider. What started as an implication became explicit, Wang said, when Cooper announced she would pull Wang off a lobbying assignment.Jackii WangDaniel Diasgranados for InsiderAt the time, RAINN was working on a Florida bill that would close a loophole in the state's statute of limitations for teen survivors. Cooper called Wang and another staffer into her office and told the two women she had decided to send a white male colleague in Wang's place, Wang said. Wang asked why."And she was like, 'Well, you know, because he's a white male,'" Wang recalled.Wang was mortified. While she had experience working with Florida legislators, her male colleague wasn't even registered to lobby in the state. Wang and the other staffer said Cooper argued that he would connect better with white conservatives in the state."He can talk about baseball. He can really, like, connect with these men," Cooper said, according to Wang and the other staffer present. "And these men really hate women.""Her reasoning for picking a white man over me for the project is that he'll be received better," Wang said. "But if that's the logic that she's following, then, like, I guess I shouldn't work anywhere because white men are received better everywhere."Neither Cooper nor the man responded to requests for comment.Wang said she reported the incident to Kolmer, the human-resources director, and Berkowitz in March 2020, along with a detailed recounting of other complaints about Cooper's leadership. But Wang said Kolmer never took serious action. When Wang quit that June, she sent Berkowitz a blistering resignation letter. "As you know, she has harassed and bullied every single person on our team, including an intern, and has blatantly discriminated against me," Wang wrote.Berkowitz thanked Wang for her time and for informing him, and asked Kolmer to discuss the issues Wang raised. Cooper continues to serve as a vice president, the face of RAINN's policy arm.RAINN said that Wang was too junior a staffer to lead a statewide lobbying effort and called her claims of discrimination "false and defamatory.""RAINN took Wang's allegations seriously and investigated the matter thoroughly," the statement said. "Ultimately it was determined that the basis of Wang's claims of discrimination were unfounded."RAINN did not deny Wang's claim that Cooper told her a white man would connect better with conservative legislators.Cooper wasn't the only executive to receive complaints. One current staffer and one former staffer described a meeting in which Jessica Leslie, the vice president of victim services, defended Berkowitz's unwillingness to address the concerns of staffers of color."You have to understand where he's coming from," they remember Leslie saying. "I mean, he's a white man, and you're all people of color — like, he's really nervous around you."One of the staffers was furious. "We just wanted to have a conversation. We're not about to berate the man," she told Insider. "This is not true," RAINN said. Its statement said that at a Safe Helpline shift managers meeting, a group of managers asked Leslie if Berkowitz would meet with them. When Leslie asked them to craft an agenda first, RAINN said, the shift managers asked Leslie if Berkowitz wanted an agenda because he was "uncomfortable talking to women of color." "The shift managers created this narrative," RAINN said, "not Leslie."Through an attorney, Leslie said she agreed with RAINN's responses and called the allegations against her "demonstrably baseless."A racist training, a pay disparity, and an email uprisingStaffers of color told Insider that they were often underpaid compared with their white counterparts; one, a nonwhite Latina woman who asked to remain anonymous, said she made $35,000 a year and lived in public housing to keep her head above water. After she quit for a higher-paying opportunity, RAINN filled her job with a white staffer who earned roughly $20,000 more, Cisneros said, adding that the white staffer disclosed her salary. (Three additional sources with knowledge of her salary corroborated Cisneros' account.) RAINN said the salary discrepancy was a result of both the role being "restructured" to include "significantly more responsibility" and the fact that the white staffer had an advanced degree.Four current and former RAINN staffers recalled that after RAINN's white office manager left for a new job, her replacement, a Black woman named Valinshia Walker, was asked to perform janitorial tasks that were not in her predecessor's job description — including scrubbing floors on her hands and knees, washing dishes, and disinfecting conference rooms. "Let me be very clear: [Walker's predecessor] never washed dishes from the sink. Ever," one former staffer said. "Val? You would come in, and Ms. Walker was cleaning the conference room. Like, wiping down all the tables. Spraying down the chairs. Doing the kitchen, she's washing dishes from the sink … You would see her walking around with the mask on and gloves because she literally cleaned. Like a cleaning lady."Walker declined to comment for the record. "The beliefs of your sources are simply not true," RAINN said, adding that Walker was hired as the "office coordinator," which had a different set of responsibilities than the "office manager" she replaced. "Maintaining a clean office has always fallen under the responsibilities of the HR and admin staff as a whole, this includes the office manager and office coordinator," the statement said. "We are not aware of any instances where Walker was asked to handle cleaning responsibilities beyond those that were part of the office coordinator's regular duties."Staffers also recalled what became a notorious and hamfisted mandatory sexual-harassment training in early 2020 led by an outside employment attorney hired by RAINN. According to more than a dozen employees, the attorney used a series of racist stereotypes to illustrate examples during the training."So let's just say, you know, there's Nicki [Minaj] and Cardi B are employees, and they're at their desks, and they start twerking," Cisneros recalled the lawyer saying. "Is that inappropriate workplace behavior?"At one point, Cisneros said, the lawyer proposed a hypothetical scenario in which a Latino-coded man — participants recalled his name was "Jorgé" or "José"—  kissed a coworker. The lawyer asked if the behavior could be appropriate "because this is Latino culture." "Your information regarding this training is inaccurate," RAINN said. "The examples in this legal training were all past legal cases using fictitious names." It added that staff concerns "were immediately addressed and the training was subsequently modified based on their feedback."Sarcia Adkins, a shift manager for the Department of Defense Safe Helpline who attended the training, was furious. She wrote an email to multiple executives, including Sorensen, Kolmer, and Berkowitz, on March 5 demanding action from the organization. "I wanted to get up and walk out at various points and it was one of the more traumatic experiences I've had at RAINN as a woman of color," she wrote. Kolmer acknowledged her complaints and promised to meet with Adkins alongside Berkowitz and Sorensen to discuss changes to the training and her issues with the nonprofit's culture.Adkins said that Kolmer didn't follow up that March but that Sorensen did reach out to schedule a one-on-one meeting. RAINN said Adkins agreed to meet Sorensen but "did not show up, without notification or explanation," and "did not follow up after she skipped the meeting." Several months later, after a former colleague intervened, Adkins did meet with Berkowitz and Sorensen. Adkins told Insider she was underwhelmed. "They pick what they want you to talk about," she said.The dysfunction came to a head during the summer of 2020, after the murder of George Floyd sparked a series of bitter internal conversations about RAINN's track record on race. In June 2020, Berkowitz sent an email with the subject line "A Note to the RAINN Family" to the entire staff. In it, he acknowledged the unrest and pledged to support the company's Black staffers.Sarcia Adkins replied to the email with a list of demands and copied the entire organization. She asked for mandatory cultural-competency training and a commitment to hiring Black employees for leadership positions. (RAINN says that 43% of its top seven staffers are people of color.) Adkins — who has been with RAINN since 2014 — asked Berkowitz why he hadn't reached out following the deaths of Freddie Gray, Sandra Bland, Philando Castile, and dozens of other victims of police violence."RAINN has never been a place [that] acknowledges or uplifts their black staff, not just people of color, and the injustices we face in the world and within the structure of RAINN," Adkins wrote.Following the police killing of George Floyd in 2020, Scott Berkowitz sent an email to staffers acknowledging the resulting unrest and pledging to support the company's Black staffers. But employees at RAINN began responding en masse, including one person who asked why a similar message was not sent after other police killings of Black people.Provided to InsiderIn 2021, in response to the outrage over the George Floyd email, the organization began internally releasing draft proposals on diversity, equity, and inclusion with goals the organization planned to achieve or had already accomplished. The laundry list of objectives, which Insider reviewed, included a plan to "develop new relationships to ensure a diverse pool of internal and external candidates for all open positions" and "collect more data to identify the causes of turnover."But people working in the organization say little has been achieved, or even attempted."Hiring practices are not getting better," said a current RAINN staffer, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation. "There's been no management training. Turnover is horrendous." In its statement, RAINN recounted the diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts it began implementing in 2021, including "expanded recruiting," "revised exit interviews," and "researched training on DEI-related issues.""The summer of 2020 sparked important cultural conversations in companies and organizations across the United States, RAINN among them," the statement said. "As we've seen nationwide, there is more work to be done. Over the past two years, RAINN worked with experts and garnered input from staff to develop and implement Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion policies and goals … Changes implemented to date include increasing diversity within senior management to better reflect our staff diversity and the people we serve, implementing an anonymous third-party ethics hotline where employees can voice concerns without fear of reprisal, offering expanded professional development and internal promotion opportunities, and increasing health and mental health benefits for employees, the four top priorities identified by staff."As evidence of its success in addressing the concerns of its employees of color, RAINN provided Insider an email that Aniyah Carter, a staffer on the Department of Defense Safe Helpline, wrote to the vice president of communications, Heather Drevna, in June 2020. Carter, who is Black, had been one of the most outspoken staffers demanding change at RAINN after Berkowitz's George Floyd email fiasco. When Drevna sent a follow-up email to staff announcing an employee survey and more personal and sick days, Carter replied with a note of thanks."I just want to personally thank you and the senior team for this," she wrote. "It's one thing to listen to and hear us. It's another thing to take action. I am proud of the responses of my colleagues and I am grateful for the swift action from leadership. It is my sincere hope that we continue to make a necessary shift in the right direction. Please let me know if there is any way I can be of assistance."Scott Berkowitz at the "Tina The Tina Turner Musical" Cocktail Reception, co-hosted by Anna Wintour in support of RAINN, on January 31, 2020.Tiffany Sage/BFA/ReutersWhen Insider asked Carter about the email, she said any movement in the right direction quickly stalled."They sent an email and that was it," Carter told Insider. "So my 'sincere hope' was crushed. It's so insulting for me. When this first happened and you were optimistic and gave us the benefit of the doubt, you say it here," she said, mocking RAINN's use of her email. "And it's like, OK, but two years later here we still are. And I've mentioned how I'm frustrated, but you're going to take words from two years ago feeling optimistic about the future and spin it as if that applies to today? Seriously? That was very upsetting because it makes me feel like this is more about optics than, like, how your staff really feels."'OK, well, who's gonna do the press clips?'When April Cisneros arrived at RAINN, she began working for Jodi Omear. Cisneros said she quickly ran up against Omear's domineering management style, which often seemed dismissive of and belittling to other women. Besides the "bitch face" comment, Cisneros said, Omear joked about how office dress codes could reduce the risk of sexual assault by preventing people from wearing provacative outfits. "I understand we're not supposed to blame the victim," Cisneros recalled Omear saying, "but, like, what do you expect to happen if you're in a dimly lit room and people of the opposite sex [are] wearing pants with holes in them?" Omear did not deny making either comment but told Insider that when training people who lacked experience with on-camera work, she directed them to "over-exaggerate facial expressions." She also said she "advocated for casual professional attire across the organization."Cisneros' low point at RAINN occurred in January 2019, when she unexpectedly became pregnant. She decided to take a sick day to visit a doctor. She told Insider she informed Omear the day before and outlined when her unfinished work would be completed.Omear became angry, Cisneros said, demanding to know why she didn't give more notice and insisting on further details. Omear called Cisneros at 9 p.m. demanding answers. Cisneros broke down and told her boss about the surprise pregnancy. According to Cisneros, Omear replied, "OK, well, who's gonna do the press clips?"The next day, as Cisneros met with her doctor, her phone buzzed with calls and texts from Omear. Between the stress of an unplanned pregnancy and Omear's incessant check-ins, Cisneros said, she "started bawling" under the stress.  A day later, Cisneros received a prescription for a two-day medical abortion. She requested an extra day off to recover, but Omear continued to pester her, texting and calling Cisneros for updates on RAINN's monthly marketing report. Cisneros said she finished the report from home while waiting for the bleeding to die down. (A RAINN staffer who was familiar with the incident corroborated Cisneros' version of events.)Omear told Insider that it would be "inappropriate" to comment on Cisneros specifically and did not directly answer a series of questions about Cisneros' allegations. "In general, when working with communications staff, especially in a fast-paced environment on such an important issue, it is/was important to ensure that other team members were able to cover assignments to meet any potential deadlines and organizational needs," she said in an emailed statement.RAINN said that it "was not aware of this incident happening in real time" and that it "supports employees taking time off and does not support managers encroaching on sick time."Omear's conduct was the final straw for Cisneros, and she wrote to human resources to complain. Cisneros said Claudia Kolmer told her in a meeting that the conflict "was a big misunderstanding" and that she should have come clean about her pregnancy sooner. (RAINN said that Kolmer told Cisneros that different managers have different preferences about how they should be notified of sick time and that "Cisneros was never asked to share sensitive personal or medical information.")Dissatisfied, Cisneros unloaded on Omear to Kolmer, accusing her boss of making inappropriate complaints about the loud breathing of a colleague who used a wheelchair and the habit of another colleague, who was blind, of walking into Omear's office by mistake, Cisneros said. (Another former RAINN employee corroborated the complaints to Insider.) Cisneros also said she told Kolmer that Omear made lewd remarks about the attractiveness of a sexual-assault victim set to make a public-service announcement. Omear denied making the lewd comments. She also denied complaining about disabled colleagues but said that she did recall "thanking one of my staff for helping" a blind colleague "when she couldn't find her way around the office."Cisneros rallied the entire RAINN communications department to put together a detailed list of other allegations of inappropriate behavior by Omear, which she collected in a memo for Kolmer and Berkowitz.Omear left RAINN that July, ostensibly to launch her own communications consulting firm. But Cisneros said Berkowitz told her that he had pushed Omear out in response to Cisneros' efforts. "We want you to know we're letting her spin her own story," Cisneros said Berkowitz told her. "But this is a direct result of the conversation you all have with us."The experience nonetheless angered staffers. Cisneros left RAINN the next year.Another colleague, Martha Durkee-Neuman, wrote a scathing resignation letter shortly after Omear announced her exit, addressing it to Omear, Berkowitz, and Kolmer."Jodi leaving of her own accord with no accountability is not justice," Durkee-Neuman wrote, according to a copy of the letter obtained by Insider. "It is not justice for the countless people that she has fired or driven from RAINN. It is not justice to pretend that nothing has happened, that staff were not forced to go to HR over and over and over until something was finally done." "I do not believe any of this work of justice or restoration will happen at RAINN, so unfortunately, this is no longer the right organization for me," she added."After the communications team raised concerns [about Omear] with Claudia Kolmer," RAINN said, "RAINN worked swiftly and diligently to investigate the staff's complaints. RAINN took appropriate action to address the findings of that investigation and Omear separated with RAINN shortly thereafter."Martha Durkee-Neuman's resignation letter.Martha Durkee-Neuman'What is left?' On November 19, 2021, Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted of charges related to the shooting deaths of two people at a civil-rights rally in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Some time later, Leslie, then the interim vice president of RAINN's victim-services department, addressed the organization's Black staffers. "I am deeply saddened by the pain and violence that has continued to plague our Black neighbors and communities," she wrote. "I want to recognize how this may be affecting you, as you navigate your day and the work you do at RAINN." She then touted the racial diversity of the victim-services department.Nearly 18 months had passed since the organization sent around its email about the death of George Floyd. Despite various promises and initiatives, in the eyes of many staffers, little had changed. But here it was again, another email promising to listen to staffers of color. Employees were enraged.Aniyah Carter, the Safe Helpline worker whose email RAINN provided to Insider, reminded her boss that nearly two weeks had passed since the verdict. "By now, we have already had to check in with ourselves so that we can continue our day-to-day lives," she wrote. "And while the opportunity to check in with managers is still absolutely available (and encouraged), the reminder to do so would have been more beneficial if it occurred when this took place." Carter also highlighted the gap she saw between leadership's stated commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion and its on-the-ground support of its employees of color, a sentiment echoed by other staffers who spoke to Insider.Daniel Diasgranados for InsiderFor Cisneros, the repeated failure of the organization to address the concerns of its staff speaks to something darker, and she is worried about how the culture at RAINN is affecting its ability to help abuse survivors."If church can't help, if school can't help, if the police can't help, if the hospital can't help, if my family can't help, my friends can't help — and now this nonprofit that is specifically saying that it's here to help people like me can't help?" she said."Like, what is left?"Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderFeb 25th, 2022

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene made transphobic comments in conversation with conspiracy theorist Alex Jones

A March 2021 study found that transgender people are four times more likely to experience violence than cisgender people. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga.Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene called for physical violence against transgender people on Sunday. Greene appeared on an InfoWars episode with far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones. A study found that transgender people are four times more likely to experience violent discrimination than cisgender people. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene doubled down on previous anti-LGBTQ comments during an appearance on the right-wing conspiracy network InfoWars with far-right radio host and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones.According to Media Matters For America, the conservative radio host brought up a report by KTLA in which some parents were furious that some of the counselors who identify as non-binary but are biologically male slept in the same cabin as some fifth-grade girls, which Greene said she thought was "straight evil.""Well, first off, my husband would've beat him into the ground, and then he'd be in jail," she said. "But this is exactly how we need to stand up against this stuff."The Republican congresswoman's remarks come after 2021 was marked the deadliest year on record for trans people, particularly Black trans women. According to a March 2021 study by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law, transgender people are four times more likely to experience violence than cisgender people."The media has rightly given attention to the 2020 increase in murders of transgender women of color," Andrew Flores, an affiliated scholar at the Williams Institute, said in a statement. "Our study shows that both transgender women and men are also highly vulnerable to non-fatal physical and material victimization."The Republican lawmaker went on to call transgender people a "perversion" that is "grooming children to believe things that are lies and that are completely wrong."Representatives for Greene did not immediately return Insider's request for comment.Greene's comments on InfoWars weren't her first public transphobic display. In February 2021, she hung a sign declaring binary gender outside of the office of another lawmaker, Rep. Marie Newman, who has a transgender daughter, in response to Newman's support of the civil rights protections for members of the LGBTQ community.The sign read, "There are TWO genders: MALE & FEMALE," as well as the phrase, "Trust The Science!" in quotation marks."Our neighbor, @RepMarieNewman, wants to pass the so-called "Equality" Act to destroy women's rights and religious freedoms," Greene wrote in a tweet of her hanging up the sign. "Thought we'd put up ours so she can look at it every time she opens her door."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderFeb 24th, 2022

The Age Of Intolerance: Cancel Culture"s War On Free Speech

The Age Of Intolerance: Cancel Culture's War On Free Speech Authored by John W. Whitehead & Nisha Whitehead via The Rutherford Institute, “Political correctness is fascism pretending to be manners.” - George Carlin Cancel culture - political correctness amped up on steroids, the self-righteousness of a narcissistic age, and a mass-marketed pseudo-morality that is little more than fascism disguised as tolerance - has shifted us into an Age of Intolerance, policed by techno-censors, social media bullies, and government watchdogs. Everything is now fair game for censorship if it can be construed as hateful, hurtful, bigoted or offensive provided that it runs counter to the established viewpoint. In this way, the most controversial issues of our day—race, religion, sex, sexuality, politics, science, health, government corruption, police brutality, etc.—have become battlegrounds for those who claim to believe in freedom of speech but only when it favors the views and positions they support. “Free speech for me but not for thee” is how my good friend and free speech purist Nat Hentoff used to sum up this double standard. This tendency to censor, silence, delete, label as “hateful,” and demonize viewpoints that run counter to the cultural elite is being embraced with a near-fanatical zealotry by a cult-like establishment that values conformity and group-think over individuality. For instance, are you skeptical about the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccines? Do you have concerns about the outcome of the 2020 presidential election? Do you subscribe to religious beliefs that shape your views on sexuality, marriage and gender? Do you, deliberately or inadvertently, engage in misgendering (identifying a person’s gender incorrectly) or deadnaming (using the wrong pronouns or birth name for a transgender person)? Say yes to any of those questions and then dare to voice those views in anything louder than a whisper and you might find yourself suspended on Twitter, shut out of Facebook, and banned across various social media platforms. This authoritarian intolerance masquerading as tolerance, civility and love (what comedian George Carlin referred to as “fascism pretending to be manners”) is the end result of a politically correct culture that has become radicalized, institutionalized and tyrannical. In the past few years, for example, prominent social media voices have been censored, silenced and made to disappear from Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram for voicing ideas that were deemed politically incorrect, hateful, dangerous or conspiratorial. Most recently, Twitter suspended conservative podcaster Matt Walsh for violating its hate speech policy by sharing his views about transgendered individuals. “The greatest female Jeopardy champion of all time is a man. The top female college swimmer is a man. The first female four star admiral in the Public Health Service is a man. Men have dominated female high school track and the female MMA circuit. The patriarchy wins in the end,” Walsh tweeted on Dec. 30, 2021. J.K. Rowling, author of the popular Harry Potter series, has found herself denounced as transphobic and widely shunned for daring to criticize efforts by transgender activists to erode the legal definition of sex and replace it with gender. Rowling’s essay explaining her views is a powerful, articulate, well-researched piece that not only stresses the importance of free speech and women’s rights while denouncing efforts by trans activists to demonize those who subscribe to “wrongthink,” but also recognizes that while the struggle over gender dysmorphia is real, concerns about safeguarding natal women and girls from abuse are also legitimate. Ironically enough, Rowling’s shunning included literal book burning. Yet as Ray Bradbury once warned, “There is more than one way to burn a book. And the world is full of people running about with lit matches.” Indeed, the First Amendment is going up in flames before our eyes, but those first sparks were lit long ago and have been fed by intolerance all along the political spectrum. Consider some of the kinds of speech being targeted for censorship or outright elimination. Offensive, politically incorrect and “unsafe” speech: Political correctness has resulted in the chilling of free speech and a growing hostility to those who exercise their rights to speak freely. Where this has become painfully evident is on college campuses, which have become hotbeds of student-led censorship, trigger warnings, microaggressions, and “red light” speech policies targeting anything that might cause someone to feel uncomfortable, unsafe or offended. Bullying, intimidating speech: Warning that “school bullies become tomorrow’s hate crimes defendants,” the Justice Department has led the way in urging schools to curtail bullying, going so far as to classify “teasing” as a form of “bullying,” and “rude” or “hurtful” “text messages” as “cyberbullying.” Hateful speech: Hate speech—speech that attacks a person or group on the basis of attributes such as gender, ethnic origin, religion, race, disability, or sexual orientation—is the primary candidate for online censorship. Corporate internet giants Google, Twitter and Facebook continue to re-define what kinds of speech will be permitted online and what will be deleted. Dangerous, anti-government speech: As part of its ongoing war on “extremism,” the government has partnered with the tech industry to counter online “propaganda” by terrorists hoping to recruit support or plan attacks. In this way, anyone who criticizes the government online can be considered an extremist and will have their content reported to government agencies for further investigation or deleted. In fact, the Justice Department is planning to form a new domestic terrorism unit to ferret out individuals “who seek to commit violent criminal acts in furtherance of domestic social or political goals.” What this will mean is more surveillance, more pre-crime programs, and more targeting of individuals whose speech may qualify as “dangerous.” The upshot of all of this editing, parsing, banning and silencing is the emergence of a new language, what George Orwell referred to as Newspeak, which places the power to control language in the hands of the totalitarian state. Under such a system, language becomes a weapon to change the way people think by changing the words they use. The end result is mind control and a sleepwalking populace. In totalitarian regimes—a.k.a. police states—where conformity and compliance are enforced at the end of a loaded gun, the government dictates what words can and cannot be used. In countries where the police state hides behind a benevolent mask and disguises itself as tolerance, the citizens censor themselves, policing their words and thoughts to conform to the dictates of the mass mind lest they find themselves ostracized or placed under surveillance. Even when the motives behind this rigidly calibrated reorientation of societal language appear well-intentioned—discouraging racism, condemning violence, denouncing discrimination and hatred—inevitably, the end result is the same: intolerance, indoctrination and infantilism. The social shunning favored by activists and corporations borrows heavily from the mind control tactics used by authoritarian cults as a means of controlling its members. As Dr. Steven Hassan writes in Psychology Today: “By ordering members to be cut off, they can no longer participate. Information and sharing of thoughts, feelings, and experiences are stifled. Thought-stopping and use of loaded terms keep a person constrained into a black-and-white, all-or-nothing world. This controls members through fear and guilt.” This mind control can take many forms, but the end result is an enslaved, compliant populace incapable of challenging tyranny. As Rod Serling, creator of The Twilight Zone, once observed, “We’re developing a new citizenry, one that will be very selective about cereals and automobiles, but won’t be able to think.” The problem as I see it is that we’ve allowed ourselves to be persuaded that we need someone else to think and speak for us. And we’ve bought into the idea that we need the government and its corporate partners to shield us from that which is ugly or upsetting or mean. The result is a society in which we’ve stopped debating among ourselves, stopped thinking for ourselves, and stopped believing that we can fix our own problems and resolve our own differences. In short, we have reduced ourselves to a largely silent, passive, polarized populace incapable of working through our own problems and reliant on the government to protect us from our fears. As Nat Hentoff, that inveterate champion of the First Amendment, once observed, “The quintessential difference between a free nation, as we profess to be, and a totalitarian state, is that here everyone, including a foe of democracy, has the right to speak his mind.” What this means is opening the door to more speech not less, even if that speech is offensive to some. Understanding that freedom for those in the unpopular minority constitutes the ultimate tolerance in a free society, James Madison, the author of the Bill of Rights, fought for a First Amendment that protected the “minority” against the majority, ensuring that even in the face of overwhelming pressure, a minority of one—even one who espouses distasteful viewpoints—would still have the right to speak freely, pray freely, assemble freely, challenge the government freely, and broadcast his views in the press freely. We haven’t done ourselves—or the nation—any favors by becoming so fearfully polite, careful to avoid offense, and largely unwilling to be labeled intolerant, hateful or closed-minded that we’ve eliminated words, phrases and symbols from public discourse. We have allowed our fears—fear for our safety, fear of each other, fear of being labeled racist or hateful or prejudiced, etc.—to trump our freedom of speech and muzzle us far more effectively than any government edict could. Ultimately the war on free speech—and that’s exactly what it is: a war being waged by Americans against other Americans—is a war that is driven by fear. By bottling up dissent, we have created a pressure cooker of stifled misery and discontent that is now bubbling over and fomenting even more hate, distrust and paranoia among portions of the populace. By muzzling free speech, we are contributing to a growing underclass of Americans who are being told that they can’t take part in American public life unless they “fit in.” The First Amendment is a steam valve. It allows people to speak their minds, air their grievances and contribute to a larger dialogue that hopefully results in a more just world. When there is no steam valve to release the pressure, frustration builds, anger grows, and people become more volatile and desperate to force a conversation. Be warned: whatever we tolerate now—whatever we turn a blind eye to—whatever we rationalize when it is inflicted on others will eventually come back to imprison us, one and all. Eventually, “we the people” will be the ones in the crosshairs. At some point or another, depending on how the government and its corporate allies define what constitutes “hate” or “extremism, “we the people” might all be considered guilty of some thought crime or other. When that time comes, there may be no one left to speak out or speak up in our defense. After all, it’s a slippery slope from censoring so-called illegitimate ideas to silencing truth. Eventually, as George Orwell predicted, telling the truth will become a revolutionary act. We are on a fast-moving trajectory. In other words, whatever powers you allow the government and its corporate operatives to claim now, for the sake of the greater good or because you like or trust those in charge, will eventually be abused and used against you by tyrants of your own making. This is the tyranny of the majority against the minority marching in lockstep with technofascism. If Americans don’t vociferously defend the right of a minority of one to subscribe to, let alone voice, ideas and opinions that may be offensive, hateful, intolerant or merely different, then we’re going to soon find that we have no rights whatsoever (to speak, assemble, agree, disagree, protest, opt in, opt out, or forge our own paths as individuals). No matter what our numbers might be, no matter what our views might be, no matter what party we might belong to, it will not be long before “we the people” constitute a powerless minority in the eyes of a power-fueled fascist state driven to maintain its power at all costs. We are almost at that point now. Free speech is no longer free. On paper—at least according to the U.S. Constitution—we are technically free to speak. In reality, however, we are only as free to speak as a government official—or corporate entities such as Facebook, Google or YouTube—may allow. The steady, pervasive censorship creep that is being inflicted on us by corporate tech giants with the blessing of the powers-that-be threatens to bring about a restructuring of reality straight out of Orwell’s 1984, where the Ministry of Truth polices speech and ensures that facts conform to whatever version of reality the government propagandists embrace. Orwell intended 1984 as a warning. Instead, as I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People and in its fictional counterpart The Erik Blair Diaries, it is being used as a dystopian instruction manual for socially engineering a populace that is compliant, conformist and obedient to Big Brother. The police state could not ask for a better citizenry than one that carries out its own censorship, spying and policing. Tyler Durden Wed, 01/12/2022 - 23:40.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeJan 13th, 2022

Google Manipulates Results As "Mass Formation Psychosis" Searches Explode Due To Collapsing COVID Narrative

Google Manipulates Results As "Mass Formation Psychosis' Searches Explode Due To Collapsing COVID Narrative Authored by Matt Agorist via TheFreeThoughtProject.com, Those paying attention to the current situation regarding the establishment’s control on the narrative around Covid-19, have watched as anyone — including esteemed experts in the field — are censored into oblivion for attempting to put forth information that challenges the status quo. For the first time in recent American history, merely talking about alternative treatments for a disease is met with mass censorship by big tech. This is diametrically opposed to actual “science” and the opposite direction in which a free society should be moving. One of the people who has been censored the most is Robert W Malone MD, MS who is one of the inventors of mRNA & DNA vaccines. Dr. Malone has been outspoken about the way the establishment system is handling, or rather mishandling, the covid crisis. His Twitter account had grown to over a half million followers last week before the platform decided that his alternative views on the pandemic were a danger to the narrative. So they banned him. Instead of standing up for the free exchange of ideas by experts — which is how science works  — the left cheered for Malone’s censorship, calling him a kook while celebrating the tools of tyrants. Before Donald Trump came into office and caused mass hysteria over Russia, the left used to stand for freedom of speech. However, the flamboyant tyrant in the White House quickly eroded their respect for rights. Then, in 2020, Covid-19 arrived and the censorship campaign switched into overdrive. The left — armed with their militant “fact checkers” whose opinions are wielded like swords against anyone who challenges the official narrative — became the regime of authoritarian information controllers. After all, if you challenge their messiahs like Dr. Fauci, you challenge science itself — facts be damned. So what happened? Why did the left go from championing free speech for years — even supporting the speech of neo-nazis — to rabidly demanding the silencing of those who attempt to challenge team doom? Dr. Malone and others have a theory, and it’s called mass formation psychosis. “When you have a society that has become decoupled from each other and has free-floating anxiety in a sense that things don’t make sense, we can’t understand it, and then their attention gets focused by a leader or series of events on one small point just like hypnosis, they literally become hypnotized and can be led anywhere,” explained Malone on a recent interview with Joe Rogan. Malone then described how “leaders” can exploit this situation: “And one of the aspects of that phenomenon is that the people that they identify as their leaders, the ones typically that come in and say you have this pain and I can solve it for you. I and I alone. Then they will follow that person. It doesn’t matter whether they lied to them or whatever. The data is irrelevant.” On Joe Rogan, Dr Robert Malone suggests we are living through a mass formation psychosis. He explains how and why this could happen, and its effects. He draws analogy to 1920s/30s Germany “they had a highly intelligent, highly educated population, and they went barking mad” pic.twitter.com/wZpfMsyEZZ — Mythinformed MKE (@MythinformedMKE) January 1, 2022 After Dr. Malone explained this concept of mass formation, developed by Dr. Mattias Desmet, professor of clinical psychology at Ghent University in Belgium, internet searches for “mass formation psychosis” began to exponentially increase. It appeared that Google, at one point, even attempted to skew the returned results, and it appears it is still happening. Dr Malone broke the algorithm and now Google is struggling to manually edit the results when you search for mass formation psychosis. Try it. Never seen this before. pic.twitter.com/kBKBGjM8bB — Jack Posobiec (@JackPosobiec) January 1, 2022 Now, when you search for the phrase on Google, it returns articles by mainstream media outlets, like Forbes who took to making fun of Malone for even daring to suggest that this was the case. Apparently, large swaths of people calling for the unvaccinated to be put into camps, denied healthcare, and even killed, is not psychosis. It’s normal. It’s normal to completely dismiss the massive amounts of data in front of us, and instead opt for a fear-driven narrative that has caused suffering of epic proportions in populations whose risk of complications from covid are almost non-existent. If you search for the term on DuckDuckGo, however, Dr. Malone’s article from last month comes up. Bing, unlike Google, did not manipulate Malone’s article out of the search results either.  Though Google is hiding it and Forbes is downplaying it, mass formation psychosis is a plausible explanation for what is going on right now in Western society. According to Desmet, there are four basic conditions which need to be met for a society to be vulnerable to mass hypnosis. And we are meeting all of them. The first condition is a lack of social bonding. Over the last five years, Americans have been torn in half by the Trump phenomenon and when covid arrived it pushed people into isolation that much further. As fearful individuals pine away in their homes with no social interaction, their lack of community has fallen to a depressing level. The second condition for mass psychosis is a lack of meaning or purpose in one’s life. Desmet cites a Gallup poll done with people in 142 countries in which 63% of respondents admitted to being so disengaged at work that they were sleepwalking through their day, putting time but not passion into their work. What’s more, a recent poll of young people in the UK revealed that 89 percent of those aged 16-29, “believe that their lives have no meaning or purpose.” Free floating anxiety is the third condition for mass psychosis and one need only look at the millions of prescriptions for anti-anxiety/depression medications in the country to realize that it is rife throughout the west. As Desmet points out, if people feel socially isolated and that their life has no meaning, their anxiety isn’t connected to a mental representation. This free-floating anxiety then creates deep psychological discontent. Finally, the fourth condition needed for mass psychosis is prevalent levels of frustration and aggression. A quick stroll down Twitter lane and the amount of overt societal aggression becomes exceedingly clear. It has even manifested countless times in real life as pro-maskers attack anti-maskers and vice versa. The term “covid Karen” exists for a reason. One can reasonably argue that all four of these condition are easily met currently, which is fomenting a mob psychology. And as Desmet reminds us, this psychological phenomenon explains why so many have bought into a clearly illogical and unscientific narrative, and why they are willing to participate in the prescribed strategy like quadruple masking — “even if it’s utterly absurd,” Desmet says. “The reason they buy into the narrative is because it leads to this new social bond,” he explains. “Science, logic and correctness have nothing to do with it.” Sound familiar? How many times have people continued to cite the “experts” whose narratives have been proven false over and over again. How many times have wee seen people blindly follow these known liars simply because these liars offer them solidarity in their mutual psychosis. Even the FDA has fallen into this formation as they push vaccinations for 5-11 year old children despite no clear emergency for children. In spite of the lack of emergency, because these new community bonds have formed and team doom is under mass hypnosis, millions of parents eagerly await to inject their children with a vaccine that hasn’t even been approved for them. What, besides mass psychosis could explain the mainstream media scoffing at the 400,000 adverse reaction events from the covid vaccine reported to VAERS in the last year? How is it that these reported events, including 20,000 deaths posted to the system are written off as immediately unreliable — despite all previous data showing that it is likely a vast undercount? How is it that mainstream media and their supporters in team doom can justify myocarditis in children as some preservation of the greater good, without falling victim to mass psychosis? Without mass psychosis, why are people so willing to surrender their freedoms, submit to vaccine passports, and welcome a totalitarian police state with open arms? This behavior is not “normal.” Those under mass psychosis have simply formed a bond so strong that actual facts no longer matter — for they are now the virtuous ones. Anyone who doesn’t constantly virtue signal to the collective is an enemy. Through fact checkers, social media, and big tech control, this collective focusses their rage and hatred on those who have not fallen victim to the spell. Those not under the spell are evil, need to be locked up, arrested, and are deemed domestic terrorists by the collective. Critical thought, logic, and reason rest in their graves as mass psychosis maintains its grip on millions of fearful, anxious, and aggressive loners who have found their place in the virtuous and caring aggregate horde. While this outlook may seem bleak, the good news is that we can fight this mass psychosis by continuing to counter the narrative which is driving it, thereby shaking others out of their hypnosis by repeatedly exposing them to actual reality. What’s more, it means these horrific things that many people are saying online, like the unvaccinated should be excluded from society or locked up, isn’t necessarily coming from a place of evil, but it’s more of a psychological process their minds are doing to help them survive their false reality. *  *  * Click here to join The Free Thought Project resistance Tyler Durden Tue, 01/04/2022 - 18:05.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeJan 4th, 2022