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Madison Cawthorn foes, who targeted him with a nude video, deny using homophobia to take him down

"We could give a rat's rear end about his sexuality. It was about the absolute hypocrisy," David Wheeler, a Democrat and the American Muckrakers PAC's co-founder told Insider. Rep. Madison Cawthorn, R-N.C.Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images American Muckrakers PAC posted a sexually explicit video of a nude Madison Cawthorn with another man. Some saw the video as an appeal to homophobia, but the cofounder said that's not true. "We could give a rat's rear end about his sexuality. It was about the absolute hypocrisy," the cofounder said. The group that posted a sexually explicit video of a nude Madison Cawthorn with another man in bed is denying it tried to evoke homophobia to oust the North Carolina member of Congress.Members of the American Muckrakers PAC, also known as FireMadison.com, sat on the recording for the better part of a week, taking time to consider whether they were being duped, whether any minors were in the video and whether they would break any North Carolina laws by posting it, its cofounder told Insider. Whether the video would spark a homophobic response wasn't part of their discussions, he said."It had nothing to do with his sexuality," David Wheeler, a Democrat and the PAC's co-founder told Insider. "We could give a rat's rear end about his sexuality. It was about the absolute hypocrisy of somebody that holds himself to be above everybody and then has somebody film him in a hotel room."Some people didn't take it that way.Clay Aiken, the former American Idol star and North Carolina Democrat, told BuzzFeed News that he was "pissed" about the viral video, which showed a naked Cawthorn in bed thrusting his pelvis at the other man's head. "The idea that anybody would gay-shame someone in order to try to embarrass him in that district and then call themselves a Democrat, I think is ridiculous," said Aiken, whose bid to become the first openly-LGBTQ member of Congress from the South ended with his primary loss on Tuesday.Fire Madison played a key role in exposing damaging information about Cawthorn, who lost his Republican primary in North Carolina to state Sen. Chuck Edwards on Tuesday. The group led by Wheeler and co-founder, retired Air Force Col. Moe Davis, who ran against Cawthorn in 2020, revealed Cawthorn's attempt to take a gun through the Asheville Regional Airport last year. They also filed a complaint accusing Cawthorn of violating US House ethics rules by allegedly providing free housing and gifts to a staff member.'We just couldn't sit on it'"Fire Madison made it clear that they would put anything out and they did," said Christopher Cooper, a political science professor at Western Carolina University. The video "definitely caused a lot of people to think … that they were gay-baiting and that they were playing on tropes of homophobia. Whether they did that or not, I think people can decide for themselves but it was definitely that accusation."A Cawthorn spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.Wheeler, a former state Senate candidate, and Davis both ran for office as Democrats and lost in 2020. Cawthorn defeated Davis in the general election by 12 percentage points, and Davis has since changed his registration to "unaffiliated," Wheeler said. The group counts some Republicans among its advisors.They have heard criticism of their decisions, Wheeler said, and they get "a little defensive" about it. He noted that they were both endorsed in their 2020 bids by Equality North Carolina, the country's oldest statewide LGBTQ rights organization, and they have "no track record of homophobia." "It's the antithesis of what we were trying to do," he said. "I don't know why people would see that versus the hypocrisy."Their April 27 ethics complaint highlighted a video of the Cawthorn staffer appearing to reach for Cawthorn's crotch from the backseat of a car. It also includes a Venmo history of suggestive messages between the two men."That's against House rules, to have a relationship with a member of the US House staff," Wheeler said. "That's all we were pointing out."Equality North Carolina declined to comment when Insider reached out.Cawthorn came under fire for claiming he was invited to orgies in Washington and he attacked "radical expressions of sexuality" in a House floor speech about gender issues. He was called out for hypocrisy after POLITICO published photos of him in women's lingerie. "He looks down on gay and lesbian folks and criticizes their lifestyle, criticizes who they are, criticize who they love," Wheeler said.Cawthorn called the lingerie photos "goofy vacation photos" from a cruise game. He responded to the nude video released by the PAC, saying "I was being crass with a friend, trying to be funny. We were acting foolish, and joking. That's it."Wheeler said he received the nude video from an anonymous source – a former supporter and donor of Cawthorn's – but he said he would never reveal the person's name.The video had been shopped around to "dozens" of media organizations and he hoped someone else would have posted it, he said."In the public interest, we just couldn't sit on it," he said. "We just felt that this video and his hypocrisy needed to be pointed out."Fire Madison's email host asked them to take it down, which they did. Wheeler said the ActBlue fundraising site removed the group from its website and he thinks the PAC may file a lawsuit.Rather than the video, Wheeler said their more effective hit against Cawthorn was the Asheville airport gun incident."I think that put us on the map" as a credible source, he said. With Cawthorn's primary behind them, the group is turning next to an attempt to oust Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert in her June 28 primary. Wheeler said they already have information against her dealing with financial matters, though he declined to provide more details.On Thursday, they launched fireboebert.com, seeking tips on information, pictures, videos, or documents on Boebert or her associates. The first tweet by @FireBoebert reads, "Hi @RepBoebert - Ask @RepCawthorn about us. We look forwarding to getting to know you."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMay 19th, 2022

Madison Cawthorn foes say they wanted to expose his "absolute hypocrisy" by releasing a sexually explicit video

"We could give a rat's rear end about his sexuality. It was about the absolute hypocrisy," David Wheeler, a Democrat and the American Muckrakers PAC's co-founder told Insider. Rep. Madison Cawthorn, R-N.C.Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images American Muckrakers PAC posted a sexually explicit video of a nude Madison Cawthorn with another man. Some saw the video as an appeal to homophobia, but the cofounder said that's not true. "We could give a rat's rear end about his sexuality. It was about the absolute hypocrisy," the cofounder said. To take down Republican Rep. Madison Cawthorn, the American Muckrakers PAC went where no one else would — posting a sexually explicit video of a nude Cawthorn with another man in bed.The video had been shopped around to multiple media organizations, David Wheeler, a Democrat and the PAC's co-founder told Insider. Wheeler said he hoped someone else would have posted it, "but it was clear that nobody was going to.""In the public interest, we just couldn't sit on it," he said. "We just felt that this video and his hypocrisy needed to be pointed out."The group, also known as FireMadison.com, played a key role in exposing damaging information about Cawthorn ahead of his North Carolina primary, which he lost to state Sen. Chuck Edwards on Tuesday.Led by Wheeler and co-founder, retired Air Force Col. Moe Davis, who ran against Cawthorn in 2020, the group revealed Cawthorn's attempt to take a gun through the Asheville Regional Airport last year. They also filed a complaint accusing Cawthorn of violating US House ethics rules by allegedly providing free housing and gifts to a staff member.Some thought exposing the video, which showed a naked Cawthorn in bed thrusting his pelvis at the other man's head, went too far.Clay Aiken, the former American Idol star and North Carolina Democrat, told BuzzFeed News that he was "pissed." "The idea that anybody would gay-shame someone in order to try to embarrass him in that district and then call themselves a Democrat, I think is ridiculous," said Aiken, whose bid to become the first openly-LGBTQ member of Congress from the South ended with his primary loss on Tuesday.What "Fire Madison" released "definitely caused a lot of people to think … that they were gay-baiting and that they were playing on tropes of homophobia," said Christopher Cooper, a political science professor at Western Carolina University.  "Whether they did that or not, I think people can decide for themselves but it was definitely that accusation."Wheeler said their decision to expose the video "had nothing to do" with Cawthorn's sexuality."We could give a rat's rear end about his sexuality," Wheeler said. "It was about the absolute hypocrisy of somebody that holds himself to be above everybody and then has somebody film him in a hotel room."A Cawthorn spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.Cawthorn came under fire for claiming he was invited to orgies in Washington and he attacked "radical expressions of sexuality" in a House floor speech about gender issues. He was called out for hypocrisy after POLITICO published photos of him in women's lingerie. "He looks down on gay and lesbian folks and criticizes their lifestyle, criticizes who they are, criticize who they love," Wheeler said.Cawthorn called the lingerie photos "goofy vacation photos" from a cruise game. He responded to the nude video released by the PAC, saying "I was being crass with a friend, trying to be funny. We were acting foolish, and joking. That's it.""That put us on the map"Wheeler, a former state Senate candidate, and Davis both ran for office as Democrats and lost in 2020. Cawthorn defeated Davis in the general election by 12 percentage points, and Davis has since changed his registration to "unaffiliated," Wheeler said. The group counts some Republicans among its advisors.Wheeler said he received the nude video from an anonymous source – a former supporter and donor of Cawthorn's – but he said he would never reveal the person's name.The PAC sat on the recording for the better part of a week, taking time to consider whether they were being duped, whether any minors were in the video and whether they would break any North Carolina laws by posting it.The PAC's email host ultimately asked them to take it down, which they did, Wheeler said, and the ActBlue fundraising site removed the group from its website. Wheeler thinks the PAC may file a lawsuit.They have heard criticism of their decisions, Wheeler said, and they get "a little defensive" about it. He noted that they were both endorsed in their 2020 bids by Equality North Carolina, the country's oldest statewide LGBTQ rights organization, and they have "no track record of homophobia." "It's the antithesis of what we were trying to do," he said. "I don't know why people would see that versus the hypocrisy."Their April 27 ethics complaint highlighted a video of the Cawthorn staffer appearing to reach for Cawthorn's crotch from the backseat of a car. It also includes a Venmo history of suggestive messages between the two men."That's against House rules, to have a relationship with a member of the US House staff," Wheeler said. "That's all we were pointing out."Equality North Carolina declined to comment when Insider reached out.Rather than the nude video, Wheeler said their more effective hit against Cawthorn was the Asheville airport gun incident."I think that put us on the map" as a credible source, he said. Next up: "Fire Boebert"With Cawthorn's primary behind them, the group is turning next to an attempt to oust Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert in her June 28 primary. Wheeler said they already have information against her dealing with financial matters, though he declined to provide more details.On Thursday, they launched fireboebert.com, seeking tips on information, pictures, videos, or documents on Boebert or her associates. The first tweet by @FireBoebert reads, "Hi @RepBoebert - Ask @RepCawthorn about us. We look forwarding to getting to know you."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMay 20th, 2022

Madison Cawthorn foes who published a damaging nude video launch campaign to "fire" Lauren Boebert

The first tweet by @FireBoebert says, "Hi @RepBoebert - Ask @RepCawthorn about us. We look forwarding to getting to know you." In this July 29, 2021, file photo, Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., speaks at a news conference held by members of the House Freedom Caucus on Capitol Hill in Washington.Andrew Harnik/AP The group that posted a viral nude video of Rep. Madison Cawthorn is now targeting Rep. Lauren Boebert. The American Muckrackers PAC has "interesting information" about Boebert financial matters, a co-founder told Insider. The group launched "FireBoebert.com" on Thursday. The group that posted a viral sexually explicit video of a nude Rep. Madison Cawthorn with another man in bed is now focusing on Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert for its next takedown, Insider has learned."I think we're gonna go after Lauren Boebert in Colorado in a similar way," David B. Wheeler, cofounder of the American Muckrakers PAC, told Insider on Wednesday. "I think we're gonna engage in that race pretty quickly."The group on Thursday launched a "fireboebert.com" website, seeking tips on information, pictures, videos, or documents on Boebert or her associates. The first tweet by @FireBoebert read, "Hi @RepBoebert - Ask @RepCawthorn about us. We look forwarding to getting to know you." Their logo: a Dumpster fire emblazoned with "FIRE BOEBERT."While Wheeler is a Democrat, his co-founder is unaffiliated, and the group counts some Republicans among its advisors. Wheeler told Insider on Wednesday he's already received "interesting information" about the Republican firebrand, whose primary against GOP state Sen. Don Coram is on June 28. The information is "certainly not as salacious as some of the Cawthorn stuff." It deals, instead, with financial matters, he said, declining to disclose more details.A spokesperson for Boebert did not immediately respond to a request for comment.Last year, the Associated Press reported that the freshman lawmaker failed to disclose her husband's income during her campaign, in violation of ethics and campaign finance laws. She revealed that her husband made nearly $1 million over 2019 and 2020 as a consultant for an energy firm. Former President Donald Trump endorsed Boebert in December as "a fearless leader, a defender of the America First Agenda, and a fighter against the Loser RINOs and Radical Democrats," shortly after she was rebuked for making Islamaphobic comments about Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota.Wheeler's PAC, also known as FireMadison.com, played a key role in exposing damaging information about Cawthorn, who lost his Republican primary in North Carolina to state Sen. Chuck Edwards on Tuesday. The group revealed Cawthorn's attempt to take a gun through the Asheville Regional Airport last year. It also filed a complaint accusing Cawthorn of violating US House ethics rules by allegedly providing free housing and gifts to a staff member.Cawthorn responded to the nude video released by the PAC, saying "I was being crass with a friend, trying to be funny. We were acting foolish, and joking. That's it."In Colorado, where Boebert is running for re-election, unaffiliated voters can participate in either the Republican or Democratic primary. Wheeler said he plans to focus on targeted messages through texting and social media at unaffiliated women."We helped fire Madison Cawthorn. Now it's Lauren Boebert's turn," the fireboebert.com webiste says.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMay 19th, 2022

Madison Cawthorn foes who targeted him with a damaging nude video say Lauren Boebert is next on their hit list

"I think we're gonna engage in that race pretty quickly," David Wheeler, of the American Muckrakers PAC, told Insider of the group's "Fire Boebert" plans. In this July 29, 2021, file photo, Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., speaks at a news conference held by members of the House Freedom Caucus on Capitol Hill in Washington.Andrew Harnik/AP The group that posted a viral nude video of Rep. Madison Cawthorn is targeting Rep. Lauren Boebert next. The American Muckrackers PAC has "interesting information" about Boebert, a co-founder told Insider. The information deals with financial matters, he said. The group that posted a viral sexually explicit video of a nude Rep. Madison Cawthorn with another man in bed is now focusing on Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert for its next takedown, Insider has learned."I think we're gonna go after Lauren Boebert in Colorado in a similar way," David B. Wheeler, cofounder of the American Muckrakers PAC, told Insider. "I think we're gonna engage in that race pretty quickly."While Wheeler is a Democrat, his co-founder is unaffiliated, and the group counts some Republicans among its advisors. Wheeler said he's received "interesting information" about the Republican firebrand, whose primary against GOP state Sen. Don Coram is on June 28. The information is "certainly not as salacious as some of the Cawthorn stuff." It deals, instead, with financial matters, he said, declining to disclose more details.A spokesperson for Boebert did not immediately respond to a request for comment.Last year, the Associated Press reported that the freshman lawmaker failed to disclose her husband's income during her campaign, in violation of ethics and campaign finance laws. She revealed that her husband made nearly $1 million over 2019 and 2020 as a consultant for an energy firm. Former President Donald Trump endorsed Boebert in December as "a fearless leader, a defender of the America First Agenda, and a fighter against the Loser RINOs and Radical Democrats," shortly after she was rebuked for making Islamaphobic comments about Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota.Wheeler's PAC, also known as FireMadison, played a key role in exposing damaging information about Cawthorn, who lost his Republican primary in North Carolina to Chuck Edwards on Tuesday. The group revealed Cawthorn's attempt to take a gun through the Asheville Regional Airport last year. It also filed a complaint accusing Cawthorn of violating US House ethics rules by allegedly providing free housing and gifts to a staff member.Cawthorn responded to the nude video released by the PAC, saying "I was being crass with a friend, trying to be funny. We were acting foolish, and joking. That's it."In Colorado, where Boebert is running for re-election, unaffiliated voters can participate in either the Republican or Democratic primary. Wheeler said he plans to focus on targeted messages through texting and social media at unaffiliated women."We have procured domain names and Twitter handles and we are in discussions with various groups in Colorado that collaborate," he said.Those names will be, "Fire Boebert," and he said the landing page will likely be up this week.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMay 18th, 2022

The Bill Gurley Chronicles: Part 2

The Bill Gurley Chronicles: Part 2 By Alex of the Macro Ops Substack What if there was a way to distill all the knowledge that someone’s written over the last 25 years into one, easy-to-read document? And what if that person was a famous venture capital investor known for betting big on companies like Uber, Snapchat, Twitter, Discord, Dropbox, Instagram, and Zillow (to name a few)?  Well, that’s what I’ve done with Bill Gurley’s blog Above The Crowd.  Gurley is a legendary venture capital investor and partner at Benchmark Capital. His blog oozes valuable insights on VC investing, valuations, growth, and marketplace businesses.  This document is past two to the one-stop-shop summary of every blog post Gurley’s ever written, part 1 can be found here. February 2, 2004: The Rise Of Open-Standard Radio: Why 802.11 Is Under-Hyped (Link) Summary: WiFi will dominate wireless communications for the same reason Ethernet dominated networking and x86 dominated computing: high switching costs. This wide-scale adoption causes capital to flow into the standard as companies look to differentiate on top of the existing platform. In doing so, it further entrenches the “open-standard” incumbent.  Favorite Quote: “Open standards obtain a high “stickiness” factor with customers as a result of compatibility. Once customers invest in a standard, they are likely to purchase more and more supporting infrastructure. As their supporting infrastructure grows, their switching costs rise dramatically with respect to competitive alternate architectures. Customers are no longer tied simply to the core technology, but also to the numerous peripherals and applications on which they are now dependent. All of these things make challenging an accepted open standard a very difficult exercise.” March 24, 2004: All Things IP: The Future Of Communications In America (Link) Summary: South Korea and Japan are leading the world in broadband speed and connectivity. South Korea, for example, sports 80% broadband adoption. The US on the other hand, less than 50%. Different players battle for the future of US communication. Free services like Skype offer high-quality VoIP calls. But it’s the cable companies, with their mega-cable infrastructure, that lead the way. At the end of the day follow the money. Comcast went after Disney not because of distribution, but because of content. Favorite Quote: “Now, while voice should be free, that doesn’t mean that it will be free. The two conditions outlined above are nontrivial. First and foremost, it is not at all clear that we have enough competition in the U.S. broadband market. Innovations in the wireless market, particularly recent innovations around mesh architectures, have the opportunity to change this. As of right now, however, many users simply lack choice. Additionally, the many state municipalities around the country are eager to place their hands on VoIP. A poorly executed policy could in fact “increase” the long term pricing on voice services for all users (for example, would you really tax a free service?).” May 6, 2004: Entrepreneurialism And Protectionism Don’t Mix (Link)  Summary: Protectionism and entrepreneurialism don’t work together. One prides itself on open dissemination of ideas, talent and problems (entrepreneurialism). The other (protectionism) desires to keep what’s theirs and turn a blind eye to competition. There are seven reasons why these two ideologies don’t mix: it hurts the economy (comparative advantage), start-ups don’t receive government subsidies (that encourage protectionism), disincentivizes diversity, more start-ups start with a global presence, the hot markets are ex-US, it goes against our global open standards (WiFi, etc.) and its inconsistent with the entrepreneurial mindset.  Favorite Quote: “It is hard to imagine a successful entrepreneur arguing that he or she deserves a job over someone else that is equally skilled and willing to work for a lower wage. The entire spirit of entrepreneurialism is based on finding ways to do something better, faster, and cheaper. It is the whole nature of the game. If someone can do something better somewhere else, it simply means it’s time to innovate again – with intellect and technology, not politics.” October 19, 2004: The Revolutionary Business Of Multiplayer Gaming (Link)  Summary: Multiplayer gaming is an incredible business featuring five “Buffett-Like” business characteristics: recurring revenue (subscription pricing), competitive moats (switching costs), network effects/increasing returns, real competition with others and high brand engagement. Those that fail to realize the importance (and power) of the video game business model (40%+ operating margins) will miss a huge investment opportunity.  Favorite Quote: “Some skeptics argue that MMOG is still a “niche” business and that the same half-million users are migrating from Everquest to Ultima Online to City of Heroes. Under this theory, MMOGs will never be mass market and will never really “matter” in the $20 billion interactive entertainment business. However, with billion dollar businesses now dotting the NASDAQ, it becomes harder and harder to invoke such skepticism. And if new paradigms, architectures, and broadband speeds allow for titles that meet the needs of a wider demographic, ignoring MMOGs may be equivalent to ignoring the successor to television.” March 11, 2005: Believe It Or Not: Your State Leaders May Be Acting To Slow The Proliferation Of Broadband (Link) Summary: In 2005, rumors circulated that laws would pass eliminating a city’s right to offer telecommunications services to its citizens. Gurley suggested states should say “no way” to this offering, and opined six reasons why (straight from the post):  The primary reason for the proposition is to reduce or eliminate competition for incumbent telcos An oligopoly doesn’t make a marketplace Taking rights from municipalities will have negative overall impact on American innovation  Even if a city has no intention of deploying wireless services, it is still in that city’s best interest to retain the right to do so In 2005, isn’t it reasonable for a city to choose to offer broadband as a community service?  A founding American principle — localized government whenever possible Favorite Quote: “In what is ostensibly the cornerstone “democracy” on the planet, one would think that the citizens in each of America’s cities could simply “vote” on the services they believe make sense for their city to provide.  Running a wireless network in a city like Topeka, Kansas simply has no overriding impact on the state as a whole.  As Thomas Jefferson aptly wrote in a letter to William Jarvis in 1820, “I know of no safe depository of the ultimate powers of society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform them.”” March 21, 2005: The State Of Texas Refuses To Block Municipal Broadband (Link) Summary: Gurley’s post before this one did its job and Texas removed the harsh language around cities offering broadband access to its citizens. According to Gurley, the battle moved to Colorado.  Favorite Quote: “This proposed bill, in its original form, would prohibit a city from helping any new carrier whatsoever get started.  It’s a pure and blatant anti-competitive move.  It’s been modified slightly, but it is still one of the harshest proposals of any state, and once again created only to help the incumbent carriers by removing competition.  Consumers do not benefit from this language.” March 24, 2005: Texas Two Step – Backwards (Link) Summary: After celebrating the removal of restrictive broadband language three days prior, Texas reinserted the notion. What’s crazy is that the member who reinserted the language, Robert Puente, serves in a district where a large telco company has its headquarters. Hmm …  Favorite Quote: “It is shocking that these local reps really don’t care if broadband deployment in America continues to fall further and further behind the rest of the world.  Just shocking.” June 2, 2005: Texas Sets Key Precedent For Other States In Refusing To Ban Municipal Wireless (Link) Summary: It’s interesting that fixed broadband incumbents in Texas are so opposed to wireless broadband. The incumbents claim wireless is a weaker form of their product. But if it’s so weak, why do they want it banned from their state? Why won’t they let natural competition run its course? If it is indeed weak, there shouldn’t be a reason to impose sanctions and restrictions.  Favorite Quote: “The reason the pro-broadband movement was successful is because they organized, they gathered the real data on the success of municipal wireless deployments, and they were able to inform the citizens about this effort by the incumbents and their key legislators to use regulation to restrict competition.  They leveraged the Internet, blogs, and mailing lists, and made a huge difference.  The tech community also played a role with the AEA, the Broadband Coalition, and TechNet all speaking out against this effort to intentional slow technical progress.  These lessons and resources are now focusing on other states to ensure the Texas outcome.” July 12, 2005: DVD Glut (Link) Summary: Gurley saw the rise of TiVo and its effect on the DVD industry. Why would people pay for DVDs when they can record their favorite movies on TV and watch them whenever they want? There is no practical use for DVDs outside nostalgia and collection.  Favorite Quote: “Could it be that people are watching Shrek 2 on Tivo and saving that on Tivo for future viewing?  Could it be that other activities, such as Internet usage, is infringing on DVD time?” July 19, 2005: Do VCs Help In Building A Technology Platform? (Link) Summary: There are two important implications for venture capital’s lack of investment in Microsoft’s .NET platform. First, VCs are investing on the Open Platform. This is likely due to (what Gurley calls) “a more benign” platform. Such a platform allows for more creativity and application. Second, VCs aren’t investing in .NET applications because Microsoft’s simply going up the software vertical (owning each spot). There is a lack of opportunity within the existing .NET framework.  Favorite Quote: “Venture Capitalists look to the public markets for clues on where to go next.  There is no point in investing in technologies that don’t lead to liquidity events.  What the article stresses is that the majority of VC money these days is being spent on top of the Open Source platform rather than the Microsoft’s .Net platform.” July 22, 2005: Wifi Nation… (Link) Summary: This article gives us an excuse to talk about Innovator’s Dilemma. Clayton Christensen coined the term in his book with the same title. Wikipedia defines the term as, “the new entrant is deep into the S-curve and providing significant value to the new product. By the time the new product becomes interesting to the incumbent’s customers it is too late for the incumbent to react to the new product.” In short, WiFi is disrupting the incumbent broadband and their end consumers. Also, WiFi isn’t built for the incumbents. It’s built for the next generation.  Favorite Quote: “What you will see, and what many continue to deny, is that Metro-scale Wifi isn’t a theory, its a reality.  The networks are live.  They perform way better than EVDO or any cellular alternative. They are cheaper to deploy.  AND, there is huge momentum around more and more networks.” Years: 2006 – 2008 April 5, 2006: Why SOX Will Lead To The Demise Of U.S. Markets (Link) Summary: Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) killed the small and micro-cap public market spirit. Like most regulations, the creators of SOX thought their stipulations would preserve the growth of public markets. Instead it stunted growth. SOX is an expensive requirement for smaller public companies. The costs disincentivize companies from going public. In return, US capital markets offer less opportunities than global companions. Will this lead to more money flowing overseas? Favorite Quote: “Ironically, the two gentlemen that created SOX did it with the intention of “preserving” U.S. capital market leadership. Their fear was that people viewed our markets as too risky, and so they created SOX to ensure that investors would “trust” our markets.” April, 2006: As Wifi Grows, So Do The PR Attacks (Link) Summary: There will always be haters when new technology replaces old, resentful incumbents. Can you blame them? WiFi completely destroyed their business model. Of course they’re going to run sham campaigns. But that’s the beauty of the Innovator’s Dilemma. WiFi doesn’t care about fixed broadband and incumbents. It’s serving its new wave of customers who want something incumbents can’t offer. Look for this in other up-and-coming technologies.  Favorite Quote: “Better performance than EVDO at a much lower cost.  You won’t stop this with an AP article.  Are their issues?  Sure, but I drop 5 cell calls a day in Silicon Valley and that technology (cellular voice) is over 25 years old.”  April 27, 2006: MMOs (MMORPGs) Continue To Rock (Link) Summary: Gurley again emphasizes the importance of MMO video games — particularly out of Asia. In fact, he mentions that Nexon (Japanese gaming company) plans to file on the JSE. Gurley believes the JSE filing is directly correlated with Sarbanes Oxley (from the article above). Regardless, the real winners in the video game industry are coming from Asia. Winning games will be based on community and entertainment, rather than pure competition. It’s no wonder Fortnite is so popular today. Gurley gave us clues almost 20 years ago.  Favorite Quote: “Many of the rising stars of multi-player interactive entertainment are more social than interactive. They also target much broader demographics than gaming ever dreamed of hitting. Consider three sites targeted at younger children and teens that are all doing extremely well — NeoPets, HabboHotel, and GaiaOnline (Benchmark is an investor in HabboHotel).” June 19, 2008: Back To Blogging (Maybe)… (Link) Summary: Gurley returned from his writing break to mention a few of his favorite reading sources. Gurley notes that he reads each of these websites every morning:  TechCrunch GigaOm Marc Andressen’s Blog Favorite Quote: “The bottom line is I have been really busy. Busy with our investments here at Benchmark, and busy with three growing kids at home.  But in the end, I am quite fond of writing, and I have been inspired by some of the great writing of others.” June 30, 2008: Bleak VC Quarter? Why? (Link) Summary: June 2008 marked another dreary quarter for venture capital. Not one single VC-backed company went public. At first glance, this seems bad for venture capital. But looking deeper, it’s not venture capital that’s the issue. It’s the public market. Between regulations and SOX costs, small companies are opting to remain private at record numbers. As Gurley notes, fund managers want high growth and capital appreciation. But these small growth companies don’t want the issues of being a public company.  Favorite Quote: “This passionate desire to be public is completely gone in Silicon Valley. For reasons you could easily list – Sarbanes Oxley; 12b1 trading rules; shareholder litigation; option pricing scandals; personal liability on 10-Q filing signatures – it is simply not much fun being a public executive.” July 22, 2008: BAILOUT What? (Link) Summary: Fascinating how relevant this quote is for 2020. What we’ve seen from the US government during the COVID pandemic is a double-downed effort on its bailout precautions. Even going so far as to buy bond ETFs on the open market! Capitalism requires failure. It requires weak businesses to fall by the wayside in exchange for stronger competitors.  Favorite Quote: “Is our government really going to bail out equity investors in a failed business enterprise? I totally get keeping America afloat, but it is critical that failed businesses FAIL. They must FAIL. You can’t provide band-aids to equity failure. The whole system will come to a halt. Risk that pans out must result in failure. it is a crucial part of the system.” December 1, 2008: Benchmark Capital: Open For Business (Link) Summary: Gurley and the Benchmark team continued investing while the rest of their VC peers cowered in fear during the bowels of the Great Recession. Investing when others are fearful is not only a sign of a great VC firm, but any great company.  Favorite Quote: “I can’t speak for other firms, but make no mistake about…Benchmark Capital is wide open for business and we are eager to invest new capital behind great entrepreneurs.  Right now.  In this environment.  Today. You may wonder why I feel the need to make this pronouncement, and you may even consider this a stunt.  It is not.   We have made fourteen new investments this year, and are actively considering new investments each and every day.” December 5, 2008: Do VCs Help In Building A Technology Platform; Part 2 (Link) Summary: Microsoft offers three years of free software/service to startups. This is a clear signal that Microsoft understands the power of platforms and where companies choose to build their products. Otherwise, as Gurley notes, why offer it for free? This comes on the heels of three new cloud platform technologies entering the space: Facebook, Salesforce and Amazon AWS. VCs may not choose which platform wins, but they choose which platform gets capital. And to some, that’s the same thing.  Favorite Quote: “It obviously would be overstating it to suggest that VCs help “choose” the platform that wins. That said, it is a powerfully positive indicator if VCs show confidence in a new platform by shifting where they deploy their capital.” Years: 2009 – 2011 February 1, 2009: Google Stock Option Repricing: Get Over It (Link) Summary: Retail investors, bloggers, and financial pundits argued that Google’s Stock Options Repricing hurt the “common” shareholder. Gurley thinks stock options shouldn’t matter because common shareholders gave up their rights (more or less) when investing in Google shares. The fact is, Google’s founder and original shareholder shares carry 9/10ths voting power. That means minority (aka second-class citizen) shareholders get 1/10th. In other words, deal with it.  Favorite Quote: “So my reaction to anyone who owns Google stock and is sore over this decision — Get Over It.  You bought a stock where you gave up the ability to vote on such things, and if you don’t like it, sell the stock.  But you have no right to complain, as the rules were laid out from the beginning.” February 11, 2009: Picture Proof Of The Innovator’s Dilemma: SlideRocket (Link) Summary: With a team of 3 engineers and a fraction of Microsoft’s budget, SlideRocket created (arguably) a better version of PowerPoint. According to Gurley, SlideRocket is a perfect example of the Innovator’s Dilemma. PowerPoint took (probably) billions of dollars in R&D and thousands of engineers to create. SlideRocket did it with 4 orders of magnitude less resources.  Favorite Quote: “One subtlety of this is that it allows others to catch up and basically recreate the same thing for a fraction of the cost.   In SlideRocket’s case, it appears that a team of 3 engineers with primary work done by the founder, have recreated PowerPoint (leveraging Flex of course).”  February 18, 2009: Just Say No To A VC Bailout: A Green Government Venture Fund Is A Flawed Idea (Link) Summary: Some VC investors wanted a bailout from the government during the GFC. Gurley originally thought this was a far-cry from a lone complainer. Then he read an article by Thomas Friedman suggesting the same thing: a bailout for VC targeted at green-tech companies. According to Gurley, VC bailouts are flawed for six reasons: There are no lack of capital in VC VCs don’t deserve a bailout Those that need bailout are (likely) bad ideas Excess capital hurts markets Good companies don’t lack for capital Use customer subsidies instead of government-backed VC investment Favorite Quote: “Great ideas have never suffered from a lack of capital availability.  Bringing extra government dollars to the investment side will only ensure that marginal and sub-par companies get more funding dollars, which historically has had a perverse and negative effect on the overall market.” February 22, 2009: Just Say No To A VC Bailout – Part 2 (Link) Summary: Continuing the rant from the previous blog post, Gurley hits on three main criticisms with Friedman’s cry for a VC bailout. First, Friedman suggested that the US Treasury give the Top 20 VC firms up to $1B to “invest in the best VC ideas”. When you consider the 2% annual fee each year that VC’s take, you’re effectively giving these firms an additional $4B in partners’ fees. Finally, Gurley hammers home the idea that to win in green-tech you need to incentivize the customer on the demand side. Create a positive ROI proposition for the customer to use the product or service.  Favorite Quote: “The key is to create an ROI positive investment for the end customer through subsidies.  Ethanol isn’t falling to succeed because of a lack of capital — it’s a problem with customer ROI.  Invest through subsidies in making the market huge and ROI positive.  Capital alone will not solve the problem as the ethanol case proves.” February 27, 2009: Perfect Online Video Advertising Model: Choose Your Advertiser (Link) Summary: Gurley reveals his “perfect online video advertising model” in which consumers can choose their advertiser. It works like this. Before an online premium or VOD show starts, the content creators present the consumer with a list of 4-9 sponsors for the programming. Then, the consumer picks which sponsor they’d like to see when the inevitable ad runs during their program. The benefit to this is that content creators would know their customers’ interests to the tee, which would allow them to raise prices on advertising channels (read: higher revenue).  Favorite Quote: “Just because I am a male between 18-24 and watching “Lost” doesn’t mean I want an XBOX.  You are more likely to guess that i might want it, but you would be 10X better off if I chose XBOX as my sponsor at the start of the show.  Then you would KNOW I have an interest — no more guessing. Making predictions is always a dangerous game, but I am fairly certain that this will be the video ad model of the future.  It makes way too much sense not to work.” March 2, 2009: Looking For Work: Are You An Insurance Agent? (Link) Summary: One of Gurley’s investments had an unusual circumstance during the GFC: they had excess demand for work. LiveOps, a virtual SaaS call center on the cloud, leverages a network of work-from-home call center operators. At the time of writing, LiveOps had 20,000+ live call-center agents working from home assisting companies like Aegon, Colonial Penn, and American Idol.  Favorite Quote: “Their core technology is a SAAS “contact center in cloud.” Just like anyone’s call center, it is a four-9’s operation that is highly resilient. What’s different, and very unique, is that the agents on the other end don’t actually work for LiveOps – they work for themselves. So far, over 20,000 “crowd-sourced” agents are now working from home on behalf of LiveOps customers – companies like Aegon, Colonial Penn, etc. One really cool customer example is American Idol. For Idol Gives Back, AI’s charity campaign, over 4000 LiveOps agents handled over 200,000 calls in less than five hours. Only a crowd-sourced play could handle such a ramp.” March 9, 2009: How To Monetize A Social Network: MySpace And Facebook Should Follow TenCent (Link) Summary: Social networks had trouble monetizing their websites. MySpace and Facebook failed to generate revenue like Yahoo, which did $7B at the time of writing. The problem wasn’t growing the userbase (both sites had tremendous user growth). It was the dependence on advertising to generate the lion’s share of their revenues. Gurley compares MySpace and Facebook to Tencent (700.HK). The two primary drivers of revenue for Tencent are digital items and casual game packages and upgrades. These are significantly higher-margin businesses than advertising. At the end of the day, social networks are social status symbols. This means if you want to leverage your business, you need to provide users with ways to improve their social status. Favorite Quote: “If you removed the Chanel logo from them, and offered them for $50 cheaper, you could not sell a pair.  Not one.  Why?  People are buying an image that they want to project about themselves.  Without the logo, they fail to make that statement.  The same is true for watches, clothes, cars, sodas, beers, cell phones, and many more items.  People care greatly about how they are perceived and are willing to part with big bucks to achieve it.  Digital items are merely the same phenomenon online.” March 26, 2009: Note To Timothy Geithner: Do Startups & Venture Capitalists Really Need More Regulation? (Link) Summary: The US government levied Sarbanes-Oxley on all public companies after the whole Enron, WorldCom saga. The purpose? Protect investors from future frauds. While the efficacy of “Sarbox” remains in question, one thing doesn’t: the cost on small public companies. Sarbox costs ~$2-$3M to implement. This makes it nearly impossible for small companies to go public because the Sarbox costs eat away all potential operating profits. Overburdening small companies could restrict the pipeline of new public IPOs.  Favorite Quote: “And remember that the largest companies in America that were created in the last 35 years (MSFT, GOOG, AAPL, CSCO, INTC) were all small venture-backed companies at one point in time.  Do we really want to inappropriately restrain or throttle the future pipeline of such companies in America?” May 2, 2009: Swine Flu: Overreaction More Costly Than The Virus Itself? (Link) Summary: It’s amazing how relevant this blog post became during the COVID-19 pandemic. Gurley suggests that in some cases, overreacting to news (like swine flu) can have far worse consequences than the natural course of the virus itself. For example, Mexico’s economy teetering on the brink of insolvency as tourism represents a third of their economy. The argument for overreacting is that it prepares people for the worst-case scenario. Yet that decision has consequences. Consequences we can’t see, and might not see for a long time.  Favorite Quote: “Some people rationalize that this hysteria serves a noble purpose, in that it prepares us for the worse.  This, however, ignores the fact that there are tremendous real economic costs to overreaction, and that sometimes overreaction has far-reaching negative impacts which can be many times greater than that of the original problem.” May 8, 2009: Second Life: Second Most Played PC Title, #1 In Minutes/User (Link) Summary: Gurley’s investment in Linden Lab paid off big time in May 2009 when Linden’s hit game Second Life ranked as the #2 most-played PC title. The game trailed World of Warcraft in number of users, but ranked first in number of minutes played per user. Data like this further reiterates Gurley’s earlier claims that selling goods online (digital signs of social status) can make for a great business. It also shows people love distracting themselves from their everyday lives.  Favorite Quote: “The truth of the matter is that the company is quite large, it’s growing, it’s profitable,  it has hired a number of great people over this time frame, and as the data shows it’s kicking butt. Note that the data also shows SecondLife actually leads WOW in terms of minutes played per user.”   May 10, 2009: Bill Gurley’s Online Video Market Snapshot (Link) Summary: Gurley did an on Hollywood talk about the massive changes in the Online Video Market. The link has an 18-minute video where Gurley outlines five things that matter in the coming online video market battle:  Great content is super expensive Affiliate fees are a “huge fucking deal”  The Netflix Business model is widely misunderstood HBO and the NFL are incredibly well-positioned companies Wireless will not save the day  Favorite Quote: I didn’t have a favorite quote from this post as it was mainly a link to the video and slide deck. I highly recommend watching the video and scanning through the deck. It’s 18 minutes long but you can watch at 1.5-2x speed without issue.  Tyler Durden Sun, 06/19/2022 - 17:30.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeJun 19th, 2022

Live updates: Pennsylvania"s GOP Senate primary is going down to the wire

Senate seats in contention, Rep. Madison Cawthorn loses in North Carolina and a GOP face-off in Pennsylvania to run for US Senate. North Carolina GOP Rep. Madison Cawthorn lost his seat in a primary on Tuesday.Saul Loeb - Pool/Getty ImagesWelcome to the Insider live blog for the May 17 primaries.Key Senate and House races remain too close to callFormer President Donald Trump poses for photos with David McCormick at the Trump National Golf Club Bedminster clubhouse in Bedminster, N.J. Mehmet Oz speaks at a town hall-style event at the Newtown Athletic Club in Newtown, Pa.AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster and AP Photo/Marc LevySeveral races are still neck-and-neck as of Wednesday morning, including the high-profile Republican Pennsylvania Senate contest, where just 0.19 percentage points separate Dr. Mehmet Oz from David McCormick with thousands of absentee ballots left to be counted. Meanwhile in the House, progressive candidates are potentially on the verge of scoring two big wins, with Jamie McLeod-Skinner on track to knock out centrist Rep. Kurt Schrader in Oregon's 5th District and progressive Summer Lee leading her main rival Steve Irwin by 446 votes in the open race for the Pittsburgh-based 12th Congressional District.  -Grace Panetta Pennsylvania remains unsettled as election night draws to a closeGREENSBURG, PA - Pennsylvania Republican U.S. Senate candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz joins former President Donald Trump onstage during a rally.Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty ImagesDr. Mehmet Oz and Dave McCormick remain in neck-and-neck contention for the GOP nomination for Senate in Pennsylvania with less than half a percentage point separating the two frontrunners by late Tuesday night, meaning the race may not be called until Wednesday. More votes are still left to be counted in counties were Oz has been performing well, and a ballot printing error in Lancaster County that will require workers to manually recreate and re-scan 16,000 absentee ballots over the next few days will also potentially slow down the counting if the race remains this close. -Grace Panetta Lamb reportedly concedes Pennsylvania Senate primaryConor Lamb.Brendan McDermid/ReutersRep. Conor Lamb has conceded Pennsylvania's Democratic Senate primary, Politico's Holly Otterbein reports.Lt. Gov. John Fetterman is projected to win the contest, per Decision Desk HQ. As of 11 p.m. Eastern Time, Fetterman was running ahead of Lamb by more than 32 percentage points.We still don't know who the Republican nominee is and may not find that out tonight. Either way, the general election could decide which party will control the Senate. — By Brent D. GriffithsPolls close, wrapping up an evening of primariesIdaho Gov. Brad Little.Darin Oswald/Idaho Statesman/Tribune News Service via Getty ImagesPolls are closed everywhere in the country, wrapping up an evening of primaries in states all over the US. The final results will come in Idaho, which just closed its last polls, and Oregon, which votes entirely by mail. The final race that will determine former President Donald Trump's status as kingmaker in the Republican party is in Idaho. There, Incumbent Gov. Brad Little is facing a primary challenge from his own Lieutenant Governor Janice McGeachin, whom Trump endorsed. Oregon has an open primary for governor after the current governor, Democrat Kate Brown, is term limited out. US House seats are also up for grabs, with tensions growing between centrist and progressive Democrats in the House. Follow along to see the results of the races for gubernatorial nominations and congressional seats in Oregon, and for the governor's race in Idaho. - Kimberly Leonard Meet the man who just took down Rep. Madison CawthornChuck Edwards, a North Carolina state senator, defeated freshman GOP Rep. Madison Cawthorn on Tuesday.Camila DeChalus/InsiderTake a look at this Insider profile of state Sen. Chuck Edwards, the Republican who just unseated Rep. Madison Cawthorn in North Carolina's 11th Congressional District.Senior Reporter Camila DeChalus traveled to Hendersonville and spoke with the state senator in May to learn more about the rising star in North Carolina. She found the antithesis of Cawthorn in Edwards: a candidate lacking his rival's hyperbolic bravado and a scant social media presence.When DeChalus asked about Cawthorn's plethora of recent controversies, Edwards told her that "it's obvious that he [Cawthorn] got caught up in political stardom and turned his back on the people in these mountains."He said that his "qualms with Madison Cawthorn are based on his performance and his poor attendance record in Congress."— By Madison HallBiden lauds Fetterman's Pennsylvania Senate nominationPresident Joe Biden hadn't said anything about the Pennsylvania Senate race — until John Fetterman won the Democratic nomination.AP Photo/Carolyn KasterPresident Joe Biden finally has something to say about Pennsylvania's Democratic Senate race.Lt. Gov. John Fetterman is projected to be the Democratic Party's nominee in what will be one of the nation's closest watched Senate races, Decision Desk HQ projects.Unlike his predecessor, Biden loathes to weigh in on contested party primaries. It didn't help matters that the Delawarian president who never forgets his Scranton roots encountered a race with three big names in Pennsylvania politics: Fetterman, Rep. Conor Lamb, and state-Sen. Malcolm Kenyatta.Lamb and Kenyatta were close Biden allies. Biden bestowed one of his highest compliments on Lamb, saying that the young former Marine reminded him of his son Beau Biden when Lamb's 2018 special election attracted national attention. While Kenyatta was a key Biden surrogate and was among a group of rising stars that spoke during the 2020 Democratic National Convention's keynote address."Democrats are united around John, who is a strong nominee, will run a tough race, and can win in November," Biden said in a statement.— By Brent D. GriffithsA legislative leader and TikTok star is headed to Congress from KentuckyMorgan McGarvey, Kentucky's state Senate minority leader, is a TikTok star.Timothy D. Easley/AP PhotoKentucky's state Senate minority leader Morgan McGarvey, who won the Democratic primary to succeed retiring Rep. John Yarmuth in the safely Democratic, Louisville-based 3rd Congressional District, will also bring some TikTok starpower to Congress. McGarvey and his colleague, Sen. Reginald Thomas, currently boast nearly 130,000 followers on the @kysenatedems account. That's where the two use TikTok trends to document their daily lives in the state legislature and the woes of being in the superminority, including a video of Thomas doing the "Rick & Morty" trend in front of the state Senate chamber that eaned 5.7 million views.McGarvey is likely to also be in the minority in Congress, but at least he can give his colleagues some TikTok pointers. -Grace Panetta Rep. Madison Cawthorn losesRep. Madison Cawthorn, R-N.C.House Television via APControversial GOP Rep. Madison Cawthorn is projected to lose his re-election campaign in the face of fierce opposition from his fellow North Carolina Republicans.State-Sen. Chuck Edwards is projected to win the race, per Decision Desk HQ. Sen. Thom Tillis endorsed Edwards, a sign of just how much fellow elected Republicans rebelled against Cawthorn.Cawthorn courted controversy even before his election. But the 26-year-old finally hit a nerve on Capitol Hill when he suggested on a podcast that there were illicit sex and drug-filled parties in Washington. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said publicly that Cawthorn had lost his trust. Tillis came off the sidelines and pushed hard for Edwards' campaign. And the rest is now history.— Brent D. GriffithsNorth Carolina GOP Senate candidate Ted Budd and Donald Trump.Chris Seward/AP PhotoFormer President Donald Trump's endorsement of Republican Rep. Ted Budd was likely crucial in helping the two-term lawmaker clinch the GOP nomination for US Senate on Tuesday, despite a crowded field of contenders. But Budd too has been decidedly Trumpian in the types of legislation he has introduced while in Congress. In April, for example, he introduced the Build the Wall Now Act to have the federal government continue constructing the border wall between the US and Mexico that was started under Trump and that President Joe Biden paused by executive order. Budd also introduced the Justice for Victims of Sanctuary Cities Act of 2021, which would allow people to sue cities if someone unauthorized to be living in the US committed a crime against them. While in office, Trump targeted sanctuary cities that are often led by Democrats and that sheltered migrants against federal crackdowns on illegal immigration. On education, Budd introduced a bill to recreate Trump's 1776 Commission, which was disbanded under Biden. Members of the conservative commission had created a 45-page document that aimed to promote a "patriotic education," and was intended as a rebuttal to the New York Times' 1619 Project. Budd's Freedom from Regulations Act, introduced in 2021, echoed a Trump-era executive order that called for trashing two regulations every time the administration created a new one. — Kimberly LeonardClay Aiken on track to lose, Decision Desk HQ projectsAmerican Idol star Clay Aiken is headed for defeat in his race for a US House seat in North Carolina.Vince Bucci/Getty ImagesClay Aiken is currently running third in the race for the Democratic nomination for North Carolina's 4th Congressional District. State-Sen. Valerie Foushee is already projected to have won the nomination. Long-time incumbent Rep. David Price, a Democrat, previously announced his retirement after over 30 years in Congress.Aiken won his party's 2014 nomination but later lost the general election to then-Rep. Renee Ellmers. The 2003 American Idol runner-up decided to give it another go this cycle.Since American Idol, Aiken launched a private foundation and starred on Broadway in the Monty Python-inspired "Spamalot."Daily Kos Elections joked on Twitter that now it can no longer be said that Aiken finishes second in everything. Outside of elections, Aiken finished as the runner-up on 2012's edition of the Celebrity Apprentice when it was still hosted by then-future President Donald Trump.— Brent D. GriffithsDoug Mastriano, a Pennsylvania state senator, is the Republican nominee for governor.Carolyn Kaster/AP PhotoDoug Mastriano is the winner of the Republican primary in the Pennsylvania gubernatorial race, according to DDHQ and Insider.— Madison HallFetterman's turn in the Insider spotlightJohn Fetterman on the Senate campaign trial in May 2022.Keith Srakocic/AP PhotoCheck out this Insider profile of John Fetterman, the Democratic nominee for the US Senate from Pennsylvania. In November 2020, Insider's Charles Davis interviewed Fetterman about his journey from being largely apolitical, to being elected mayor of Braddock, Pennsylvania, in 2005, to being branded a rising Democratic star.Fetterman told Insider that he doesn't think that Democrats can't reach Trump voters. "If we're going to reverse the fortunes of not only our party but, most importantly, communities and regions, [we need to be] reinvesting and acknowledging that these places deserve to be championed," Fetterman said."There's certainly unreachable people," he said. "I think it's people reacting to a level of authenticity or rawness. You're not going to convince me that Pennsylvania changed radically from Barack Obama to Donald Trump."— Sarah GrayMehmet Oz: Not in it for the moneyMehmet Oz would earn $174,000 if he becomes a US senator.Matt Rourke/APIf Donald Trump endorsee Mehmet Oz win's tonight's US Senate primary in Pennsylvania, then defeats the Democratic nominee in November, he'll earn a standard congressional salary, which today stands at $174,000.Not bad, no, but it's peanuts compared to what he's been making in the private sector — or perhaps pistachios, given that Oz scored a cool $125,000 for a one-day speech to the American Pistachio Growers Association in March 2020, according a federal financial disclosure Oz submitted to the Senate in April.For hosting quiz show Jeopardy! during a two-week stint in late March and early April 2021, Oz earned $268,701, records show.And that's all before you consider his former day job: Oz reported earning more than $7 million from "income derived from ownership interest in Oz Media LLL through Oz Property Holdings." He also received a $2 million salary for hosting the "Dr. Oz Show."Oz is also an active stock trader, reporting sizeable investments in companies such as Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, defense contractor Northrop Grumman, and drugmaker Johnson & Johnson, among several dozen others. — Dave LevinthalFetterman wins Pennsylvania Democratic senator nominationJohn Fetterman, left, is the Democratic nominee for the Pennsylvania US Senate seat.Keith Srakocic/AP PhotoJohn Fetterman is the winner of the Democratic primary race for Pennsylvania's US Senate seat. That's the call from Insider and DDHQ. Fetterman, currently the state's lieutenant governor, defeated Rep. Conor Lamb, Malcolm Kenyatta, and Alexandria Khalil. Fetterman is currently recovering from a recent stroke and announced on Tuesday that he had received a pacemaker implant.A pricey house race to watch near Pittsburgh: PA-12Sen. Bernie Sanders endorsed Pennsylvania state Rep. Summer Lee in her bid to win the nomination for the state's 12th congressional district.Rebecca Droke/AP PhotoWith the retirement of GOP Rep. Fred Keller, this district outside of Pittsburgh in the Susquehanna Valley is a potential pickup opportunity for Democrats.It's also a race that was looking pretty stale until the past few weeks. The frontrunner, state Rep. Summer Lee, has endorsements from Emily's List and Justice Democrats. Sen. Bernie Sanders recently stumped for her and she seemed to have everything going in her favor until a ton of money started pouring into the race. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee, most commonly referred to as AIPAC, has been funding ads through a new Super PAC called the United Democracy Project for Lee's opponent, Steve Irwin. Lee would be the latest in a new generation of Democrats in Washington with positions further to the left than most of the caucus, as well as more critical views of Israel. Should Irwin pull out a victory, his surge couldn't have been hurt by the AIPAC ad spree, but Lee remains the favorite. The Republican primary has been more quiet, with Michael Doyle — unrelated to retiring Rep. Mike Doyle — running unopposed.— Jake LahutPennsylvania's US Senate race is stupid expensivePennsylvania Republican Senate Candidate Mehmet OzAlexi Rosenfeld/Getty ImagesThe government of Erie, Pennsylvania, population 94,831, forecasts that it'll bring in about $95.7 million worth of revenue during 2022.Pennsylvania's US Senate race, meanwhile, is on pace to bring in twice that — maybe even more — en route to competing for the crown of the year's most expensive political race.As of April 27, the race had already attracted more than $68.3 million in contributions, according to federal records compiled by nonpartisan research organization OpenSecrets.There are two overriding reasons for this. First, both the Republican and Democratic primaries are highly competitive. They feature multiple candidates — David McCormick, Mehmet Oz and Kathy Barnette on the right, John Fetterman and Conor Lamb on the left. More candidates + more competition = more, more, more money.Second, McCormick and Oz are extremely wealthy. Both have pumped millions of dollars of their personal money into the race, with Oz alone accounting for more than $12 million, according to Federal Election Commission records. McCormick, at $11 million, isn't far behind.Tonight's winners will then have nearly six months to slug each other ahead of November's general election. National party committees and super PACs, which may raise and spend unlimited amounts of money, will almost assuredly supplement the candidates' own fundraising efforts with tens of millions of more dollars.— Dave LevinthalPolls in Pennsylvania closed at 8 p.m. ET.InsiderFollow along to see the results for the Republican and Democratic  candidates for governor, the US Senate, House from the Keystone State.Madison Cawthorn's cryptic crypto play may have violated the STOCK ActMadison Cawthorn, Republican nominee for North Carolina's 11th Congressional District, speaks during the largely virtual 2020 Republican National Convention broadcast from Washington, on August 26, 2020.2020 Republican National Convention/Handout via ReutersRep. Madison Cawthorn has plenty of problems — ones involving guns, money, cocaine orgies, and a nude video, to name four.One that's flying a bit below the radar, but still serious: he may have violated a federal conflicts-of-interest law by not publicly reporting his stated purchase in a cryptocurrency named for an anti-Joe Biden slogan.Per federal law, Cawthorn had 45-days to formally disclose details about his crypto play. But as of this evening, Cawthorn had done no such thing, and his campaign and congressional office have not responded to Insider's questions as to why.Failure to properly report such financial transactions can result in a fine administered by Congress, or in extreme cases, a referral to the Department of Justice.— Dave LevinthalTed Budd wins GOP Primary for open Senate seatFormer President Donald Trump endorsed Rep. Ted Budd of North Carolina in the 2022 North Carolina Senate race.AP Photo/Chris SewardRepublican Ted Budd will face off against Democrat Cheri Beasley for a crucial open US Senate seat in North Carolina, Insider and Decision Desk HQ project. Budd is a Republican congressman who was endorsed by President Donald Trump, and easily cleared a field of GOP opponents. Beasley, the former chief justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court, is hoping to flip control of the seat currently held by retiring GOP Sen. Richard Burr.Mayoral MayhemCharlotte, NCShutterstockA Republican hasn't been the mayor of Louisville, Kentucky, for more than 50 years. Four Republican candidates are hoping to change that, including Bill Dieruf, the current mayor of Jeffersontown, a nearby suburb. The current mayor of Lexington, Kentucky's second-largest city, Linda Gorton, is running for reelection. Gorton's opponents recently chided her at a public forum over housing costs and crime rates. She countered by noting that she rose to the occasion when challenges surfaced in Lexington during her time in office, particularly during the pandemic.In Charlotte, North Carolina, Democratic Mayor Vi Alexander Lyles is vying for another term in office. Lyles became the first Black mayor in Charlotte history in 2017 after unseating the incumbent mayor. She's facing off against three other Democratic candidates tonight.You can check out and follow the three mayoral primaries here.—Madison HallJohn Fetterman gets pacemakerIn this Sept. 21, 2018 photo, former Braddock, Pa., Mayor John Fetterman speaks at a campaign rally for Pennsylvania candidates in PhiladelphiaAP Photo/Matt RourkePennsylvania Lt. Governor John Fetterman "just completed a successful procedure to implant a pacemaker with a defibrillator," his communications director, Joe Calvello, said in a statement Tuesday evening. "The procedure began at 3:15 pm, John was released at 5:56 pm, and he has been given the all-clear that it was successful. He is resting at the hospital and recovering well. John continues to improve every day, and he is still on track for a full recovery."Fetterman, who is running for the US Senate in Pennsylvania in tonight's Democratic primary, suffered a stroke last week.— Dave LevinthalResults just beginning to trickle in in KentuckyHouse Budget Committee Chairman John Yarmuth, D-Ky., talks with reporters after meeting with the House Democratic Caucus and Biden administration officials to discuss progress on an infrastructure bill, at the Capitol in Washington.J. Scott Applewhite/APPolls closed in Kentucky at 6 p.m. Eastern Time, and the results are beginning to come in. See results for the Senate, House and state legislative primaries here, and results for the mayoral elections in Louisville and Lexington here.The most notable primary race of the night is the Democratic primary in Kentucky's Third District to replace retiring Democratic Rep. John YarmuthA slew of Democratic candidates are seeking the nomination for the mayor's office in Louisville to replace term-limited outgoing Mayor Greg Fischer. Incumbent Mayor Linda Gorton is also seeking reelection to the mayor's office in Lexington, Kentucky in a nonpartisan primary. Democrats love Republican primaries — for fundraisingDemocratic Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, DCCC Chair, at a press conference on Capitol HillBill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty ImagesThe Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is rarely immune to hyperbole or breathlessness. So it should perhaps come as little surprise how much the party's campaign arm for US House races is leveraging today's Republican Senate primary in Pennsylvania to raise cash for itself."Trump has already helped make J.D. Vance the Republican nominee in the critical Ohio Senate race. Now, he's scheming to do the same with Dr. Oz in the ultimate swing state of Pennsylvania … please understand: If Trump is able to pack Congress with his top loyalists, it could pave the way for his return to the White House," the DCCC wrote supporters.It continues: "And at this dire moment, you have two options: OPTION 1: Ignore our urgent pleas, delete this email, and watch while Trump destroys our House Majority and Democratic Trifecta with his dangerous followers. OPTION 2: Step up with a powerful grassroots gift before midnight to stop Trump's power-hungry schemes and protect our Democratic House."  — Dave LevinthalTight gubernatorial primary races in the Beaver State- Former Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek, who is running for governor, poses for photos in Columbia Park in Portland, Ore., on Feb. 18, 2022. Oregon's primary elections are Tuesday, May 17, 2022.AP Photo/Sara Cline, fileDemocratic Gov. Kate Brown is finishing up her second term in office and cannot run again. After 35 straight years of having a Democrat as governor, Republicans in Oregon are hoping this is their year to regain executive power, but must figure out their nominee from a slate of 19 candidates led by former state Rep. Christine Drazan and businessman Bob Tiernan. With Brown term-limited, she leaves behind a wide-open Democratic field with 15 candidates. Two notable leaders on the Democratic ticket include Oregon Treasurer Tobias Read and former House Speaker Tina Kotek.The list of Democratic primary contenders used to be longer — former New York Times columnist Nick Kristof left his job to explore running for office in October 2021. Oregon's Supreme Court ultimately ruled in February that he couldn't be on the ballot, citing his failure to meet the three-year residency requirement to qualify.— Madison HallEmbattled Rep. Madison Cawthorn fights for a second term after a slew of scandalsU.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn, R-N.C., waves to the crowd after he spoke before former President Donald Trump takes the stage at a rally on April 9, 2022, in Selma, NC.Chris Seward/APCawthorn catapulted into rising star status in the GOP when he was elected to Congress from North Carolina's 11th District in 2020 at age 25. But a series of ethics troubles, and explosive comments have infuriated his GOP colleagues and spurred some to openly root for his ouster, as Michael Kruse recently dug into for Politico Magazine. Our Camila DeChalus reported from Hendersonville earlier this month on Cawthorn's leading primary challenger, state Sen. Chuck Edwards, voters' mixed feelings about Cawthorn's scandals, and the former volunteers who have buyer's remorse. A split field of seven primary challengers could help Cawthorn squeak by to reelection, but he could head to a July 26 runoff if no one gets about 30% of the vote. — Grace PanettaWould you pay $1 million out-of-pocket for a US Senate seat?McCormick received more than $70 million in discretionary awards connected to a Bridgewater Associates plan.Divorce agreement between David McCormick and Amy RichardsonAs C. Ryan Barber and Adam Wren reported earlier this year, divorce documents obtained by Insider indicate that Republican US Senate candidate David McCormick could face such a situation — if he's first able to survive his Pennsylvania primary battle against Mehmet Oz and Kathy Barnette.As Barber and Wren wrote: "McCormick's divorce agreement includes a clause stipulating that he would pay his ex-wife $1 million if he voluntarily left his lucrative position at Bridgewater Associates for the 'public domain.' The agreement between McCormick and his ex-wife, Amy Richardson, defined 'public domain' as employment in 'any government entity' and required him to pay the seven-figure sum in a pair of $500,000 installments in the first two years of any full-time public sector job.Once the frontrunner, McCormick has slipped in the polls of late and could conceivably finish third. Former President Donald Trump has endorsed Oz, the longtime television show host, while Barnette has surged as a MAGA-friendly alternative to both Oz and McCormick. — Dave LevinthalOz, Barnette, and McCormick jockey in a close race in PennsylvaniaPennsylvania Republican Senate candidate Kathy Barnette speaks during a campaign rally at The Fuge in Warminster, Pennsylvania.Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty ImagesWe went to Pennsylvania earlier this month and found a lot of Trump voters who were pretty unhappy with Dr. Mehmet Oz as the former president's endorsement. Kathy Barnette has had an impressive surge late in the race, but the conservative author's background is now the subject of considerable scrutiny and has some Republicans worried she'd get beat by the Democrats should she make it to the November general election. No doubt, a victory for Barnette would be a big shock. But she's been within striking distance in all the latest polls. The candidate hoping to get a bump from undecideds is former hedge fund CEO David McCormick, who has picked up endorsements from the likes of Sen. Ted Cruz and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.– Jake LahutRead the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMay 18th, 2022

Live updates: Rep. Madison Cawthorn dramatically loses seat as Pennsylvania and North Carolina ballots are counted

Senate seats in contention, Rep. Madison Cawthorn loses in North Carolina and a GOP face-off in Pennsylvania to run for US Senate. North Carolina GOP Rep. Madison Cawthorn lost his seat in a primary on Tuesday.Saul Loeb - Pool/Getty ImagesWelcome to the Insider live blog for the May 17 primaries.Polls close, wrapping up an evening of primariesIdaho Gov. Brad Little.Darin Oswald/Idaho Statesman/Tribune News Service via Getty ImagesPolls are closed everywhere in the country, wrapping up an evening of primaries in states all over the US. The final results will come in Idaho, which just closed its last polls, and Oregon, which votes entirely by mail. The final race that will determine former President Donald Trump's status as kingmaker in the Republican party is in Idaho. There, Incumbent Gov. Brad Little is facing a primary challenge from his own Lieutenant Governor Janice McGeachin, whom Trump endorsed. Oregon has an open primary for governor after the current governor, Democrat Kate Brown, is term limited out. US House seats are also up for grabs, with tensions growing between centrist and progressive Democrats in the House. Follow along to see the results of the races for gubernatorial nominations and congressional seats in Oregon, and for the governor's race in Idaho. - Kimberly Leonard Meet the man who just took down Rep. Madison CawthornChuck Edwards, a North Carolina state senator, defeated freshman GOP Rep. Madison Cawthorn on Tuesday.Camila DeChalus/InsiderTake a look at this Insider profile of state Sen. Chuck Edwards, the Republican who just unseated Rep. Madison Cawthorn in North Carolina's 11th Congressional District.Senior Reporter Camila DeChalus traveled to Hendersonville and spoke with the state senator in May to learn more about the rising star in North Carolina. She found the antithesis of Cawthorn in Edwards: a candidate lacking his rival's hyperbolic bravado and a scant social media presence.When DeChalus asked about Cawthorn's plethora of recent controversies, Edwards told her that "it's obvious that he [Cawthorn] got caught up in political stardom and turned his back on the people in these mountains."He said that his "qualms with Madison Cawthorn are based on his performance and his poor attendance record in Congress."— By Madison HallBiden lauds Fetterman's Pennsylvania Senate nominationPresident Joe Biden hadn't said anything about the Pennsylvania Senate race — until John Fetterman won the Democratic nomination.AP Photo/Carolyn KasterPresident Joe Biden finally has something to say about Pennsylvania's Democratic Senate race.Lt. Gov. John Fetterman is projected to be the Democratic Party's nominee in what will be one of the nation's closest watched Senate races, Decision Desk HQ projects.Unlike his predecessor, Biden loathes to weigh in on contested party primaries. It didn't help matters that the Delawarian president who never forgets his Scranton roots encountered a race with three big names in Pennsylvania politics: Fetterman, Rep. Conor Lamb, and state-Sen. Malcolm Kenyatta.Lamb and Kenyatta were close Biden allies. Biden bestowed one of his highest compliments on Lamb, saying that the young former Marine reminded him of his son Beau Biden when Lamb's 2018 special election attracted national attention. While Kenyatta was a key Biden surrogate and was among a group of rising stars that spoke during the 2020 Democratic National Convention's keynote address."Democrats are united around John, who is a strong nominee, will run a tough race, and can win in November," Biden said in a statement.— By Brent D. GriffithsA legislative leader and TikTok star is headed to Congress from KentuckyMorgan McGarvey, Kentucky's state Senate minority leader, is a TikTok star.Timothy D. Easley/AP PhotoKentucky's state Senate minority leader Morgan McGarvey, who won the Democratic primary to succeed retiring Rep. John Yarmuth in the safely Democratic, Louisville-based 3rd Congressional District, will also bring some TikTok starpower to Congress. McGarvey and his colleague, Sen. Reginald Thomas, currently boast nearly 130,000 followers on the @kysenatedems account. That's where the two use TikTok trends to document their daily lives in the state legislature and the woes of being in the superminority, including a video of Thomas doing the "Rick & Morty" trend in front of the state Senate chamber that eaned 5.7 million views.McGarvey is likely to also be in the minority in Congress, but at least he can give his colleagues some TikTok pointers. -Grace Panetta Rep. Madison Cawthorn losesRep. Madison Cawthorn, R-N.C.House Television via APControversial GOP Rep. Madison Cawthorn is projected to lose his re-election campaign in the face of fierce opposition from his fellow North Carolina Republicans.State-Sen. Chuck Edwards is projected to win the race, per Decision Desk HQ. Sen. Thom Tillis endorsed Edwards, a sign of just how much fellow elected Republicans rebelled against Cawthorn.Cawthorn courted controversy even before his election. But the 26-year-old finally hit a nerve on Capitol Hill when he suggested on a podcast that there were illicit sex and drug-filled parties in Washington. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said publicly that Cawthorn had lost his trust. Tillis came off the sidelines and pushed hard for Edwards' campaign. And the rest is now history.— Brent D. GriffithsNorth Carolina GOP Senate candidate Ted Budd and Donald Trump.Chris Seward/AP PhotoFormer President Donald Trump's endorsement of Republican Rep. Ted Budd was likely crucial in helping the two-term lawmaker clinch the GOP nomination for US Senate on Tuesday, despite a crowded field of contenders. But Budd too has been decidedly Trumpian in the types of legislation he has introduced while in Congress. In April, for example, he introduced the Build the Wall Now Act to have the federal government continue constructing the border wall between the US and Mexico that was started under Trump and that President Joe Biden paused by executive order. Budd also introduced the Justice for Victims of Sanctuary Cities Act of 2021, which would allow people to sue cities if someone unauthorized to be living in the US committed a crime against them. While in office, Trump targeted sanctuary cities that are often led by Democrats and that sheltered migrants against federal crackdowns on illegal immigration. On education, Budd introduced a bill to recreate Trump's 1776 Commission, which was disbanded under Biden. Members of the conservative commission had created a 45-page document that aimed to promote a "patriotic education," and was intended as a rebuttal to the New York Times' 1619 Project. Budd's Freedom from Regulations Act, introduced in 2021, echoed a Trump-era executive order that called for trashing two regulations every time the administration created a new one. — Kimberly LeonardClay Aiken on track to lose, Decision Desk HQ projectsAmerican Idol star Clay Aiken is headed for defeat in his race for a US House seat in North Carolina.Vince Bucci/Getty ImagesClay Aiken is currently running third in the race for the Democratic nomination for North Carolina's 4th Congressional District. State-Sen. Valerie Foushee is already projected to have won the nomination. Long-time incumbent Rep. David Price, a Democrat, previously announced his retirement after over 30 years in Congress.Aiken won his party's 2014 nomination but later lost the general election to then-Rep. Renee Ellmers. The 2003 American Idol runner-up decided to give it another go this cycle.Since American Idol, Aiken launched a private foundation and starred on Broadway in the Monty Python-inspired "Spamalot."Daily Kos Elections joked on Twitter that now it can no longer be said that Aiken finishes second in everything. Outside of elections, Aiken finished as the runner-up on 2012's edition of the Celebrity Apprentice when it was still hosted by then-future President Donald Trump.— Brent D. GriffithsDoug Mastriano, a Pennsylvania state senator, is the Republican nominee for governor.Carolyn Kaster/AP PhotoDoug Mastriano is the winner of the Republican primary in the Pennsylvania gubernatorial race, according to DDHQ and Insider.— Madison HallFetterman's turn in the Insider spotlightJohn Fetterman on the Senate campaign trial in May 2022.Keith Srakocic/AP PhotoCheck out this Insider profile of John Fetterman, the Democratic nominee for the US Senate from Pennsylvania. In November 2020, Insider's Charles Davis interviewed Fetterman about his journey from being largely apolitical, to being elected mayor of Braddock, Pennsylvania, in 2005, to being branded a rising Democratic star.Fetterman told Insider that he doesn't think that Democrats can't reach Trump voters. "If we're going to reverse the fortunes of not only our party but, most importantly, communities and regions, [we need to be] reinvesting and acknowledging that these places deserve to be championed," Fetterman said."There's certainly unreachable people," he said. "I think it's people reacting to a level of authenticity or rawness. You're not going to convince me that Pennsylvania changed radically from Barack Obama to Donald Trump."— Sarah GrayMehmet Oz: Not in it for the moneyMehmet Oz would earn $174,000 if he becomes a US senator.Matt Rourke/APIf Donald Trump endorsee Mehmet Oz win's tonight's US Senate primary in Pennsylvania, then defeats the Democratic nominee in November, he'll earn a standard congressional salary, which today stands at $174,000.Not bad, no, but it's peanuts compared to what he's been making in the private sector — or perhaps pistachios, given that Oz scored a cool $125,000 for a one-day speech to the American Pistachio Growers Association in March 2020, according a federal financial disclosure Oz submitted to the Senate in April.For hosting quiz show Jeopardy! during a two-week stint in late March and early April 2021, Oz earned $268,701, records show.And that's all before you consider his former day job: Oz reported earning more than $7 million from "income derived from ownership interest in Oz Media LLL through Oz Property Holdings." He also received a $2 million salary for hosting the "Dr. Oz Show."Oz is also an active stock trader, reporting sizeable investments in companies such as Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, defense contractor Northrop Grumman, and drugmaker Johnson & Johnson, among several dozen others. — Dave LevinthalFetterman wins Pennsylvania Democratic senator nominationJohn Fetterman, left, is the Democratic nominee for the Pennsylvania US Senate seat.Keith Srakocic/AP PhotoJohn Fetterman is the winner of the Democratic primary race for Pennsylvania's US Senate seat. That's the call from Insider and DDHQ. Fetterman, currently the state's lieutenant governor, defeated Rep. Conor Lamb, Malcolm Kenyatta, and Alexandria Khalil. Fetterman is currently recovering from a recent stroke and announced on Tuesday that he had received a pacemaker implant.A pricey house race to watch near Pittsburgh: PA-12Sen. Bernie Sanders endorsed Pennsylvania state Rep. Summer Lee in her bid to win the nomination for the state's 12th congressional district.Rebecca Droke/AP PhotoWith the retirement of GOP Rep. Fred Keller, this district outside of Pittsburgh in the Susquehanna Valley is a potential pickup opportunity for Democrats.It's also a race that was looking pretty stale until the past few weeks. The frontrunner, state Rep. Summer Lee, has endorsements from Emily's List and Justice Democrats. Sen. Bernie Sanders recently stumped for her and she seemed to have everything going in her favor until a ton of money started pouring into the race. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee, most commonly referred to as AIPAC, has been funding ads through a new Super PAC called the United Democracy Project for Lee's opponent, Steve Irwin. Lee would be the latest in a new generation of Democrats in Washington with positions further to the left than most of the caucus, as well as more critical views of Israel. Should Irwin pull out a victory, his surge couldn't have been hurt by the AIPAC ad spree, but Lee remains the favorite. The Republican primary has been more quiet, with Michael Doyle — unrelated to retiring Rep. Mike Doyle — running unopposed.— Jake LahutPennsylvania's US Senate race is stupid expensivePennsylvania Republican Senate Candidate Mehmet OzAlexi Rosenfeld/Getty ImagesThe government of Erie, Pennsylvania, population 94,831, forecasts that it'll bring in about $95.7 million worth of revenue during 2022.Pennsylvania's US Senate race, meanwhile, is on pace to bring in twice that — maybe even more — en route to competing for the crown of the year's most expensive political race.As of April 27, the race had already attracted more than $68.3 million in contributions, according to federal records compiled by nonpartisan research organization OpenSecrets.There are two overriding reasons for this. First, both the Republican and Democratic primaries are highly competitive. They feature multiple candidates — David McCormick, Mehmet Oz and Kathy Barnette on the right, John Fetterman and Conor Lamb on the left. More candidates + more competition = more, more, more money.Second, McCormick and Oz are extremely wealthy. Both have pumped millions of dollars of their personal money into the race, with Oz alone accounting for more than $12 million, according to Federal Election Commission records. McCormick, at $11 million, isn't far behind.Tonight's winners will then have nearly six months to slug each other ahead of November's general election. National party committees and super PACs, which may raise and spend unlimited amounts of money, will almost assuredly supplement the candidates' own fundraising efforts with tens of millions of more dollars.— Dave LevinthalPolls in Pennsylvania closed at 8 p.m. ET.InsiderFollow along to see the results for the Republican and Democratic  candidates for governor, the US Senate, House from the Keystone State.Madison Cawthorn's cryptic crypto play may have violated the STOCK ActMadison Cawthorn, Republican nominee for North Carolina's 11th Congressional District, speaks during the largely virtual 2020 Republican National Convention broadcast from Washington, on August 26, 2020.2020 Republican National Convention/Handout via ReutersRep. Madison Cawthorn has plenty of problems — ones involving guns, money, cocaine orgies, and a nude video, to name four.One that's flying a bit below the radar, but still serious: he may have violated a federal conflicts-of-interest law by not publicly reporting his stated purchase in a cryptocurrency named for an anti-Joe Biden slogan.Per federal law, Cawthorn had 45-days to formally disclose details about his crypto play. But as of this evening, Cawthorn had done no such thing, and his campaign and congressional office have not responded to Insider's questions as to why.Failure to properly report such financial transactions can result in a fine administered by Congress, or in extreme cases, a referral to the Department of Justice.— Dave LevinthalTed Budd wins GOP Primary for open Senate seatFormer President Donald Trump endorsed Rep. Ted Budd of North Carolina in the 2022 North Carolina Senate race.AP Photo/Chris SewardRepublican Ted Budd will face off against Democrat Cheri Beasley for a crucial open US Senate seat in North Carolina, Insider and Decision Desk HQ project. Budd is a Republican congressman who was endorsed by President Donald Trump, and easily cleared a field of GOP opponents. Beasley, the former chief justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court, is hoping to flip control of the seat currently held by retiring GOP Sen. Richard Burr.Mayoral MayhemCharlotte, NCShutterstockA Republican hasn't been the mayor of Louisville, Kentucky, for more than 50 years. Four Republican candidates are hoping to change that, including Bill Dieruf, the current mayor of Jeffersontown, a nearby suburb. The current mayor of Lexington, Kentucky's second-largest city, Linda Gorton, is running for reelection. Gorton's opponents recently chided her at a public forum over housing costs and crime rates. She countered by noting that she rose to the occasion when challenges surfaced in Lexington during her time in office, particularly during the pandemic.In Charlotte, North Carolina, Democratic Mayor Vi Alexander Lyles is vying for another term in office. Lyles became the first Black mayor in Charlotte history in 2017 after unseating the incumbent mayor. She's facing off against three other Democratic candidates tonight.You can check out and follow the three mayoral primaries here.—Madison HallJohn Fetterman gets pacemakerIn this Sept. 21, 2018 photo, former Braddock, Pa., Mayor John Fetterman speaks at a campaign rally for Pennsylvania candidates in PhiladelphiaAP Photo/Matt RourkePennsylvania Lt. Governor John Fetterman "just completed a successful procedure to implant a pacemaker with a defibrillator," his communications director, Joe Calvello, said in a statement Tuesday evening. "The procedure began at 3:15 pm, John was released at 5:56 pm, and he has been given the all-clear that it was successful. He is resting at the hospital and recovering well. John continues to improve every day, and he is still on track for a full recovery."Fetterman, who is running for the US Senate in Pennsylvania in tonight's Democratic primary, suffered a stroke last week.— Dave LevinthalResults just beginning to trickle in in KentuckyHouse Budget Committee Chairman John Yarmuth, D-Ky., talks with reporters after meeting with the House Democratic Caucus and Biden administration officials to discuss progress on an infrastructure bill, at the Capitol in Washington.J. Scott Applewhite/APPolls closed in Kentucky at 6 p.m. Eastern Time, and the results are beginning to come in. See results for the Senate, House and state legislative primaries here, and results for the mayoral elections in Louisville and Lexington here.The most notable primary race of the night is the Democratic primary in Kentucky's Third District to replace retiring Democratic Rep. John YarmuthA slew of Democratic candidates are seeking the nomination for the mayor's office in Louisville to replace term-limited outgoing Mayor Greg Fischer. Incumbent Mayor Linda Gorton is also seeking reelection to the mayor's office in Lexington, Kentucky in a nonpartisan primary. Democrats love Republican primaries — for fundraisingDemocratic Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, DCCC Chair, at a press conference on Capitol HillBill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty ImagesThe Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is rarely immune to hyperbole or breathlessness. So it should perhaps come as little surprise how much the party's campaign arm for US House races is leveraging today's Republican Senate primary in Pennsylvania to raise cash for itself."Trump has already helped make J.D. Vance the Republican nominee in the critical Ohio Senate race. Now, he's scheming to do the same with Dr. Oz in the ultimate swing state of Pennsylvania … please understand: If Trump is able to pack Congress with his top loyalists, it could pave the way for his return to the White House," the DCCC wrote supporters.It continues: "And at this dire moment, you have two options: OPTION 1: Ignore our urgent pleas, delete this email, and watch while Trump destroys our House Majority and Democratic Trifecta with his dangerous followers. OPTION 2: Step up with a powerful grassroots gift before midnight to stop Trump's power-hungry schemes and protect our Democratic House."  — Dave LevinthalTight gubernatorial primary races in the Beaver State- Former Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek, who is running for governor, poses for photos in Columbia Park in Portland, Ore., on Feb. 18, 2022. Oregon's primary elections are Tuesday, May 17, 2022.AP Photo/Sara Cline, fileDemocratic Gov. Kate Brown is finishing up her second term in office and cannot run again. After 35 straight years of having a Democrat as governor, Republicans in Oregon are hoping this is their year to regain executive power, but must figure out their nominee from a slate of 19 candidates led by former state Rep. Christine Drazan and businessman Bob Tiernan. With Brown term-limited, she leaves behind a wide-open Democratic field with 15 candidates. Two notable leaders on the Democratic ticket include Oregon Treasurer Tobias Read and former House Speaker Tina Kotek.The list of Democratic primary contenders used to be longer — former New York Times columnist Nick Kristof left his job to explore running for office in October 2021. Oregon's Supreme Court ultimately ruled in February that he couldn't be on the ballot, citing his failure to meet the three-year residency requirement to qualify.— Madison HallEmbattled Rep. Madison Cawthorn fights for a second term after a slew of scandalsU.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn, R-N.C., waves to the crowd after he spoke before former President Donald Trump takes the stage at a rally on April 9, 2022, in Selma, NC.Chris Seward/APCawthorn catapulted into rising star status in the GOP when he was elected to Congress from North Carolina's 11th District in 2020 at age 25. But a series of ethics troubles, and explosive comments have infuriated his GOP colleagues and spurred some to openly root for his ouster, as Michael Kruse recently dug into for Politico Magazine. Our Camila DeChalus reported from Hendersonville earlier this month on Cawthorn's leading primary challenger, state Sen. Chuck Edwards, voters' mixed feelings about Cawthorn's scandals, and the former volunteers who have buyer's remorse. A split field of seven primary challengers could help Cawthorn squeak by to reelection, but he could head to a July 26 runoff if no one gets about 30% of the vote. — Grace PanettaWould you pay $1 million out-of-pocket for a US Senate seat?McCormick received more than $70 million in discretionary awards connected to a Bridgewater Associates plan.Divorce agreement between David McCormick and Amy RichardsonAs C. Ryan Barber and Adam Wren reported earlier this year, divorce documents obtained by Insider indicate that Republican US Senate candidate David McCormick could face such a situation — if he's first able to survive his Pennsylvania primary battle against Mehmet Oz and Kathy Barnette.As Barber and Wren wrote: "McCormick's divorce agreement includes a clause stipulating that he would pay his ex-wife $1 million if he voluntarily left his lucrative position at Bridgewater Associates for the 'public domain.' The agreement between McCormick and his ex-wife, Amy Richardson, defined 'public domain' as employment in 'any government entity' and required him to pay the seven-figure sum in a pair of $500,000 installments in the first two years of any full-time public sector job.Once the frontrunner, McCormick has slipped in the polls of late and could conceivably finish third. Former President Donald Trump has endorsed Oz, the longtime television show host, while Barnette has surged as a MAGA-friendly alternative to both Oz and McCormick. — Dave LevinthalOz, Barnette, and McCormick jockey in a close race in PennsylvaniaPennsylvania Republican Senate candidate Kathy Barnette speaks during a campaign rally at The Fuge in Warminster, Pennsylvania.Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty ImagesWe went to Pennsylvania earlier this month and found a lot of Trump voters who were pretty unhappy with Dr. Mehmet Oz as the former president's endorsement. Kathy Barnette has had an impressive surge late in the race, but the conservative author's background is now the subject of considerable scrutiny and has some Republicans worried she'd get beat by the Democrats should she make it to the November general election. No doubt, a victory for Barnette would be a big shock. But she's been within striking distance in all the latest polls. The candidate hoping to get a bump from undecideds is former hedge fund CEO David McCormick, who has picked up endorsements from the likes of Sen. Ted Cruz and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.– Jake LahutRead the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMay 17th, 2022

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

"Al Qaeda Is On Our Side": How Obama/Biden Team Empowered Terrorist Networks In Syria

'Al Qaeda Is On Our Side': How Obama/Biden Team Empowered Terrorist Networks In Syria Authored by Aaron Maté via RealClear Investigations, Hours after the Feb. 3 U.S. military raid in northern Syria that left the leader of ISIS and multiple family members dead, President Biden delivered a triumphant White House address.  The late-night Special Forces operation in Syria's Idlib province, Biden proclaimed, was a "testament to America’s reach and capability to take out terrorist threats no matter where they hide around the world." Unmentioned by the president, and virtually all media accounts of the assassination, was the critical role that top members of his administration played during the Obama years in creating the Al Qaeda-controlled hideout where ISIS head Abu Ibrahim al-Qurayshi, as well as his slain predecessor, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, found their final refuge. In waging a multi-billion dollar covert war in support of the insurgency against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, top Obama officials who now serve under Biden made it American policy to enable and arm terrorist groups that attracted jihadi fighters from across the globe. This regime change campaign, undertaken one decade after Al Qaeda attacked the U.S. on 9/11, helped a sworn U.S. enemy establish the Idlib safe haven that it still controls today.  A concise articulation came from Jake Sullivan to his then-State Department boss Hillary Clinton in a February 2012 email: "AQ [Al Qaeda] is on our side in Syria."  Sullivan, the current national security adviser, is one of many officials who oversaw the Syria proxy war under Obama to now occupy a senior post under Biden. This group includes Secretary of State Antony Blinken, climate envoy John Kerry, USAID Administrator Samantha Power, Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, NSC Middle East coordinator Brett McGurk, and State Department Counselor Derek Chollet.  Their efforts to remake the Middle East via regime change, not just in Syria but earlier in Libya, led to the deaths of Americans – including Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other U.S. officials in Benghazi in 2012; the slaughter of countless civilians; the creation of millions of refugees; and ultimately, Russia's entry into the Syrian battlefield.  Contacted through their current U.S. government agencies, none of the Obama-Biden principals offered comment on their policy of supporting an Al Qaeda-dominated insurgency in Syria. The Obama-Biden team's record in Syria resonates today as many of its members handle the unfolding crisis in Ukraine. As in Syria, the U.S. is flooding a chaotic war zone with weapons in a dangerous proxy conflict with Russia, with long-term ramifications that are impossible to foresee. "I deeply worry that what’s going to happen next is that we will see Ukraine turn into Syria," Democratic Senator Chris Coons told CBS News on April 17. Based on declassified documents, news reports, and scattered admissions of U.S. officials, this overlooked history of how the Obama-Biden team's effort to oust the Assad regime – in concert with allies including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey – details the series of discrete decisions that ultimately led the U.S. to empower terror networks bent on its destruction.  Seizing Momentum – and Munitions – From Libya to Pursue Regime Change in Syria Fresh off the ouster of Libya's Gaddafi in 2011, the Obama administration trained its sights on Syria's Assad. (c-span) The road to Al Qaeda's control of the Syrian province of Idlib actually started hundreds of miles across the Mediterranean in Libya. In March 2011, after heavy lobbying from senior officials including Secretary Hillary Clinton, President Obama authorized a bombing campaign in support of the jihadist insurgency fighting the government of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. Backed by NATO firepower, the rebels toppled Gaddafi and gruesomely murdered him in October.  Buoyed by their quick success in Libya, the Obama administration set their sights on Damascus, by then a top regime change target in Washington. According to former NATO commander Wesley Clark, the Assad regime – a key ally of U.S. foes Iran, Hezbollah, and Russia – was marked for overthrow alongside Iraq in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. A leaked 2006 U.S. Embassy in Damascus cable assessed that Assad's "vulnerabilities" included "the potential threat to the regime from the increasing presence of transiting Islamist extremists," and detailed how the U.S. could "improve the likelihood of such opportunities arising." The outbreak of the Syrian insurgency in March 2011, coupled with the fall of Gaddafi, offered the U.S. a historic opportunity to exploit Syria's vulnerabilities. While the Arab Spring sparked peaceful Syrian protests against the ruling Ba'ath party's cronyism and repression, it also triggered a largely Sunni, rural-based revolt that took a sectarian and violent turn. The U.S. and its allies, namely Qatar and Turkey, capitalized by tapping the massive arsenal of the newly ousted Libyan government. "During the immediate aftermath of, and following the uncertainty caused by, the downfall of the [Gaddafi] regime in October 2011," the Defense Intelligence Agency reported the following year, "…weapons from the former Libya military stockpiles located in Benghazi, Libya were shipped from the port of Benghazi, Libya, to the ports of Banias and the Port of Borj Islam, Syria." The redacted DIA document, obtained by the group Judicial Watch, does not specify whether the U.S. was directly involved in these shipments. But it contains significant clues. With remarkable specificity, it detailed the size and contents of one such shipment in August 2012: 500 sniper rifles, 100 rocket-propelled grenade launchers with 300 rounds, and 400 howitzer missiles. Most tellingly, the document noted that the weapons shipments were halted "in early September 2012." This was a clear reference to the killing by militants that month of four Americans – Ambassador Christopher Stevens, another State Department official, and two CIA contractors – in Benghazi, the port city where the weapons to Syria were coming from. The Benghazi annex "was at its heart a CIA operation," U.S. officials told the Wall Street Journal. At least two dozen CIA employees worked in Benghazi under diplomatic cover. Although top intelligence officials obscured the Benghazi operation in sworn testimony before the House Intelligence Committee, a Senate investigation eventually confirmed a direct CIA role in the movement of weapons from Libya to Syria. A classified version of a 2014 Senate report, not publicly released, documented an agreement between President Obama and Turkey to funnel weapons from Libya to insurgents in Syria. The operation, established in early 2012, was run by then-CIA Director David Petraeus. "The [Benghazi] consulate’s only mission was to provide cover for the moving of arms" to Syria, a former U.S. intelligence official told journalist Seymour Hersh in the London Review of Books. "It had no real political role." The Death of a U.S. Ambassador Ambassador Stevens allegedly facilitated arms transfers from the Benghazi compound where he died. AP  Under diplomatic cover, Stevens appears to have been a significant figure in the CIA program. More than one year before he became ambassador in June 2012, Stevens was appointed the U.S. liaison to the Libyan opposition. In this role, he worked with the Al Qaeda-tied Libyan Islamic Fighting Group and its leader, Abdelhakim Belhadj, a warlord who fought alongside Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan. After Gaddafi's ouster, Belhadj was named head of the Tripoli Military Council, which controlled security in the country's capital. Belhadj's portfolio was not limited to post-coup Libya. In November 2011, the Al Qaeda ally traveled to Turkey to meet with leaders of the Free Syrian Army, the CIA-backed opposition military coalition. Belhadj's trip came as part of the new Libyan government's effort to provide "money and weapons to the growing insurgency against Bashar al-Assad," the London Telegraph reported at the time. On September 14, 2012 – just three days after Stevens and his American colleagues were killed – the London Times revealed that a Libyan vessel "carrying the largest consignment of weapons for Syria since the uprising began," had recently docked in the Turkish port of Iskenderun. Once unloaded, "most of its cargo is making its way to rebels on the front lines." The known details of Stevens' last hours on September 11 suggest that shipping weapons was at the top of his agenda.  Although based in Tripoli and facing violent threats, he nonetheless made the dangerous trek to Benghazi around the fraught anniversary of 9/11. According to a 2016 report from the House Intelligence Committee, one of Stevens' last scheduled meetings was with the head of al-Marfa Shipping and Maritime Services Company, a Libyan firm involved in ferrying weapons to Syria. His final meeting of the day was with Consul General Ali Sait Akin of Turkey, where the weapons were shipped. Fox News later reported that "Stevens was in Benghazi to negotiate a weapons transfer." With the Libyan channel shut down by Stevens' murder, the U.S. and its allies turned to other sources. One was Croatia, where Saudi Arabia financed a major weapons purchase in late 2012 that was arranged by the CIA. The CIA's use of the Saudi kingdom's vast coffers continued an arrangement from prior covert proxy wars, including the arming of the mujahideen in Afghanistan and of the Contras in Nicaragua. Although the Obama administration claimed that the weapons funneled to Syria were intended for "moderate rebels," they ultimately ended up in the hands of a jihadi-dominated insurgency. Just one month after the Benghazi attack, the New York Times reported that "hard-line Islamic jihadists," including groups "with ties or affiliations with Al Qaeda," have received "the lion’s share of the arms shipped to the Syrian opposition." Covertly Arming An Al Qaeda-Dominated Insurgency The Obama administration did not need media accounts to learn that jihadists dominated the Syrian insurgency on the receiving end of a CIA supply chain. One month before the Benghazi attack, Pentagon intelligence analysts gave the White House a blunt appraisal. An August 2012 Defense Intelligence Agency report, disseminated widely among U.S. officials, noted that "Salafi[s], the Muslim Brotherhood, and AQI [Al Qaeda in Iraq] are the major forces driving the insurgency." Al Qaeda, the report stressed, "supported the Syrian opposition from the beginning." Their aim was to create a "Salafist principality in eastern Syria" – an early warning of the ISIS caliphate that would be established two years later. General Michael Flynn, who headed the DIA at the time, later recalled that his staff "got enormous pushback" from the Obama White House. "I felt that they did not want to hear the truth," Flynn said. In 2015, one year after Flynn was forced out, dozens of Pentagon intelligence analysts signed on to a complaint alleging that top Pentagon intelligence officials were "cooking the books" to paint a rosier picture of the jihadi presence in Syria. (The Pentagon later cleared CENTCOM commanders of wrongdoing.) The Free Syrian Army (FSA), the main CIA-backed insurgent force, also informed Obama officials of the jihadi dominance in their ranks. "From the reports we get from the doctors," FSA officials told the State Department in November 2012, "most of the injured and dead FSA are Jabhat al-Nusra, due to their courage and [the fact they are] always at the front line." Jabhat al-Nusra (Al-Nusra Front) is Al Qaeda's franchise in Syria. It emerged as a splinter group of Al Qaeda in Iraq after a falling out between AQI leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and his then-deputy, Mohammed al-Jolani. In 2013, Baghdadi relaunched his organization under the name of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Jolani led his Syria-based Al Qaeda faction under the black flag of al-Nusra. "[W]hile rarely acknowledged explicitly in public," Charles Lister, a Gulf state-funded analyst in close contact with Syrian insurgent groups wrote in March 2015, "the vast majority of the Syrian insurgency has coordinated closely with Al-Qaeda since mid-2012 – and to great effect on the battlefield."  As one Free Syrian Army leader told the New York Times: "No FSA faction in the north can operate without al-Nusra’s approval." According to David McCloskey, a former CIA analyst who covered Syria in the war's early years, U.S. officials knew that "al-Qaeda affiliated groups and Salafi jihadist groups were the primary engine of the insurgency." This, McCloskey says, was "a tremendously problematic aspect of the conflict." In his memoir, senior Obama aide Ben Rhodes acknowledged that al-Nusra "was probably the strongest fighting force within the opposition." It was also clear, he wrote, that U.S.-backed insurgent groups were "fighting side by side with al-Nusra." For this reason, Rhodes recalled, he argued against the State Department's December 2012 designation of al-Nusra as a foreign terrorist organization. This move "would alienate the same people we want to help." (Asked about wanting to help an Al Qaeda-dominated insurgency, Rhodes did not respond). In fact, designating al-Nusra as a terror organization allowed the Obama administration to publicly claim that it opposed Al Qaeda's Syria branch while continuing to covertly arm the insurgency that it dominated. Three months after adding al-Nusra to the terrorism list, the U.S. and its allies "dramatically stepped up weapons supplies to Syrian rebels" to help "rebels to try and seize Damascus," the Associated Press reported in March 2013. 'There Was No Moderate Middle' Harvard 2014: Biden goes off-script, revealing the truth of U.S. support for jihadists in Syria. Despite being privately aware of Nusra's dominance, Obama administration officials continued to publicly insist that the U.S. was only supporting Syria's "moderate opposition," as then-Deputy National Security Adviser Antony Blinken described it in September 2014. But speaking to a Harvard audience days later, then-Vice President Biden blurted out the concealed reality. In the Syrian insurgency, "there was no moderate middle," Biden admitted. Instead, U.S. "allies" in Syria "poured hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of tons of weapons into anyone who would fight against Assad." Those weapons were supplied, Biden said, to "al-Nusra, and Al-Qaeda and the extremist elements of jihadis coming from other parts of the world." Biden quickly apologized for his comments, which appeared to fit the classic definition of the Kinsley gaffe: a politician inadvertently telling the truth. Biden's only error was omitting his administration's critical role in helping its allies arm the jihadis. Rather than shut down a CIA program that was aiding the Al Qaeda-dominated insurgency, Obama expanded it. In April 2013, the president signed an order that amended the CIA's covert war, codenamed Timber Sycamore, to allow direct U.S. arming and training. After tapping Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Qatar to fund its arms pipeline for insurgents inside Syria, Obama's order allowed the CIA to directly furnish U.S.-made weapons. Just as with the regime change campaign in Libya, a key architect of this operation was Hillary Clinton. Obama's upgraded proxy war in Syria proved to be "one of the costliest covert action programs in the history of the C.I.A.," the New York Times reported in 2017. Documents leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed a budget of nearly $1 billion per year, or around $1 of every $15 in CIA spending. The CIA armed and trained nearly 10,000 insurgents, spending "roughly $100,000 per year for every anti-Assad rebel who has gone through the program," U.S. officials told the Washington Post in 2015. Two years later, one U.S. official estimated that CIA-funded militias "may have killed or wounded 100,000 Syrian soldiers and their allies over the past four years." But these militias were not just killing pro-Syrian government forces. As the New York Times reported in April 2017, US-backed insurgents carried out "sectarian mass murder." One such act of mass murder came in August 2013, when the U.S.-backed Free Syrian Army joined an al-Nusra and ISIS offensive on Alawite areas of Latakia. A Human Rights Investigation found that the insurgents engaged in "the systematic killing of entire families," slaughtering a documented 190 civilians, including 57 women, 18 children, and 14 elderly men. In a video from the field, former Syrian army general Salim Idriss, head of the U.S.-backed Supreme Military Council (SMC), bragged that "we are cooperating to a great extent in this operation." The Latakia massacres came four months after the U.S. ambassador to Syria, Robert Ford, hailed Idriss and his fighters as "the moderate and responsible elements of the armed opposition." The role of Idriss's forces in the slaughter did not cancel the administration's endorsement. In October, the Washington Post revealed that the "CIA is expanding a clandestine effort … aimed at shoring up the fighting power of units aligned with the Supreme Military Council, an umbrella organization led by [Idriss] that is the main recipient of U.S. support." Officially, the upgraded CIA program barred direct support to al-Nusra or its allies in Syria. But once U.S. weapons arrived in Syria, the Obama administration recognized that it had no way of controlling their use – an apparent motive for waging the program covertly. "We needed plausible deniability in case the arms got into the hands of al-Nusra," a former senior administration official told the New York Times in 2013. One area where U.S. arms got into al-Nusra's hands was the northwestern Syrian province of Idlib. Al Qaeda leaders would ultimately control and – though the group disputes it – provide ISIS leaders sanctuary there.   'Al-Qaeda's Largest Safe Haven Since 9/11' Al-Nusra helped capture the Syrian province of Idlib in 2015 with de facto U.S. support. Al-Nusra Front social media account via AP, File In May 2015, an array of insurgent groups, dubbed the Jaish al-Fatah ("Army of Conquest") coalition, captured Idlib province from the Syrian government. The fight was led by al-Nusra, and showcased what Charles Lister, the D.C.-based analyst with contacts to insurgents in Syria, dubbed "a far improved level of coordination" between rival militants, including the U.S.-backed FSA and multiple "jihadist factions." For Lister, the conquest of Idlib also revealed that the U.S. and its allies "changed their tune regarding coordination with Islamists." Citing multiple battlefield commanders, Lister reported that "the U.S.-led operations room in southern Turkey," which coordinated support to U.S.-backed insurgent groups, "was instrumental in facilitating their involvement in the operation" led by al-Nusra. While the insurgents' U.S.-led command had previously opposed "any direct coordination" with jihadist groups, the Idlib offensive "demonstrated something different," Lister concluded: To capture the province, U.S. officials "specifically encouraged a closer cooperation with Islamists commanding frontline operations." The U.S.-approved battlefield cooperation in Idlib allowed al-Nusra fighters to directly benefit from U.S. weapons. Despite occasional flare-ups between them, al-Nusra was able to use U.S.-backed insurgent groups "as force multipliers," the Institute for the Study of War, a prominent D.C. think tank, observed when the battle began. Insurgent military gains, Foreign Policy reported in April 2015, were achieved "thanks in large part to suicide bombers and American anti-tank TOW missiles." The jihadist-led victory in Idlib quickly subjected its residents to sectarian terror. In June 2015, al-Nusra fighters massacred at least 20 members of the Druze faith. Hundreds of villagers spared in the attack were forced to convert to Sunni Islam. Facing the same threats, nearly all of Idlib's remaining 1,200 Christians fled the province, leaving a Christian population that reportedly totals just three people today. In a 2017 post-mortem on the Obama administration's covert war in Syria, the New York Times described the insurgents' conquest of Idlib as among the CIA program's "periods of success." This was certainly the case for Al Qaeda. "Idlib Province," Brett McGurk, the anti-ISIS envoy under Obama and Trump, and now Biden's top White House official for the Middle East, said in 2017, "is the largest Al Qaeda safe haven since 9/11." U.S. Allows ISIS Takeover ISIS got a backdoor assist from Washington in the takeover of its first Syrian stronghold in Raqqa. AP Photo/Militant Website Al Qaeda is not the only sectarian death squad that managed to establish a safe haven in the chaos of the Syria proxy war. Starting in 2013, al-Nusra's sister-turned-rival group, ISIS, seized considerable territory of its own. As with Al Qaeda, ISIS' land-grab in Syria received a significant backdoor assist from Washington. Before Al Qaeda captured Idlib, the first ISIS stronghold in Syria, Raqqa, grew out of a similar alliance between U.S.-backed "moderate rebels" and jihadis. After this coalition seized the city from the Syrian government in March 2013, ISIS took full control in November. When ISIS declared its caliphate in parts of Syria and Iraq in June 2014, the U.S. launched an air campaign against the group's strongholds. But the Obama administration's anti-ISIS offensive contained a significant exception. In key areas where ISIS’s advance could threaten the Assad regime, the U.S. watched it happen. In April 2015, just as al-Nusra was conquering Idlib, ISIS seized major parts of the Yarmouk refugee camp on the outskirts of Damascus, marking what the New York Times called the group's "greatest inroads yet" into the Syrian capital. In the ancient city of Palmyra, the U.S. allowed an outright ISIS takeover. "[A]s Islamic State closed in on Palmyra, the U.S.-led aerial coalition that has been pummeling Islamic State in Syria for the past 18 months took no action to prevent the extremists’ advance toward the historic town – which, until then, had remained in the hands of the sorely overstretched Syrian security forces," the Los Angeles Times reported in March 2016. In a leaked conversation with Syrian opposition activists months later, then-Secretary of State John Kerry explained the U.S. rationale for letting ISIS advance. "Daesh [ISIS] was threatening the possibility of going to Damascus and so forth," Kerry explained. "And we know that this was growing. We were watching. We saw that Daesh was growing in strength, and we thought Assad was threatened. We thought, however, we could probably manage, that Assad would then negotiate" his way out of power. In short, the U.S. was leveraging ISIS's growth to impose regime change on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The U.S. strategy of "watching" ISIS's advance in Syria, Kerry also admitted, directly caused Russia's 2015 entry into the conflict. The threat of an ISIS takeover, Kerry said, is "why Russia went in. Because they didn’t want a Daesh government." Russia's military intervention in Syria prevented the ISIS government in Damascus that Kerry and fellow Obama administration principals had been willing to risk. Pulverizing Russian airstrikes also dealt a fatal blow to the Al Qaeda-dominated insurgency that the Obama team had spent billions of dollars to support. From U.S. Enemy to 'Asset' in Syria With U.S.-backed fighters vanquished and one of their main champions, Hillary Clinton, defeated in the November 2016 election, the CIA operation in Syria met what the New York Times called a "sudden death." After criticizing the proxy war in Syria on the campaign trail, President Trump shut down the Timber Sycamore program for good in July 2017. "It turns out it’s – a lot of al-Qaeda we’re giving these weapons to," Trump told the Wall Street Journal that month. With the exit of the Obama-Biden team, the U.S. was no longer fighting on Al Qaeda's side. But that did not mean that the U.S. was prepared to confront the enemy that it had helped install in Idlib. While Trump put an end to the CIA proxy war, his efforts to further extricate the U.S. from Syria by withdrawing troops were thwarted by senior officials who shared the preceding administration's regime change goals. "When President Trump said 'I want everybody out of Syria,' the top brass at Pentagon and State had aneurysms," Christopher Miller, the Acting Secretary of Defense during Trump's last months in office, recalls. Jim Jeffrey, Trump's envoy for Syria, admitted to deceiving the president in order to keep in place "a lot more than" the 200 U.S. troops that Trump had reluctantly agreed to. "We were always playing shell games to not make clear to our leadership how many troops we had there," Jeffrey told Defense One. Those "shell games" have put U.S. soldiers in harm's way, including four servicemembers recently wounded in a rocket attack on their base in northeastern Syria. While thwarting a full U.S. troop withdrawal, Jeffrey and other senior officials have also preserved the U.S. government's tacit alliance with Idlib's Al-Qaeda rulers. Officially, al-Nusra remains on the U.S. terrorism list. Despite several name changes, the State Department has dismissed its rebranding efforts as a "vehicle to advance its position in the Syrian uprising and to further its own goals as an al-Qa’ida affiliate." But in practice, as Jeffrey explained last year, the U.S. has treated Al-Nusra as "an asset" to U.S. strategy in Syria. "They are the least bad option of the various options on Idlib, and Idlib is one of the most important places in Syria, which is one of the most important places right now in the Middle East," he said. Jeffrey also revealed that he had communicated with al-Nusra leader Mohammed al-Jolani via "indirect channels." Jeffrey's comments underscore a profound shift in the U.S. government's Middle East strategy as a result of the Syria proxy war: The Syrian branch of Al Qaeda, the terror group that attacked the U.S. on 9/11, and which then became the target of a global war on terror aimed at destroying it, is no longer seen by powerful officials in Washington as an enemy, but an "asset." Since retaking office under Biden, the Obama veterans who targeted Syria with one of the most expensive covert wars in history have deprioritized the war-torn nation. While pledging to maintain crippling sanctions and keep U.S. troops at multiple bases, as well as announcing sporadic airstrikes, the White House has otherwise said little publicly about its Syria policy. The U.S. military raid that ended ISIS leader al-Qurayshi’s life in February prompted the only Syria-focused speech of Biden's presidency. While Biden trumpeted the lethal operation, the fact that it occurred in Idlib underscores a contradiction that his administration has yet to address. By taking out an ISIS leader in Al Qaeda's Syria stronghold, the president and his top officials are now confronting threats from a terror safe haven that they helped create. Tyler Durden Thu, 04/21/2022 - 21:40.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeApr 21st, 2022

On the Tesla production line: Dozens of former employees say they faced catcalls, groping, slurs, and harassment on the job

Forty-six lawsuits allege employees were targeted, harassed, and in some cases physically assaulted based on their gender and race. Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images; iStock; Rebecca Zisser/Insider In 46 lawsuits, former and current employees allege they were targeted and harassed based on gender and race. Tesla has pushed back and filed to move the majority of the cases to private arbitration. Seven experts told Insider the number of lawsuits should be a cause for concern for the carmaker. Alisa Blickman said her coworkers rated women, took photos of a female colleague's back-side, and made comments like, "I'd like to bend her over and spread her cheeks." Alex Corella said his colleagues called him "homophobic slurs" and joked that he performed oral sex on his supervisor. Terrance Dobbins said workers told him he worked at the "KFC and watermelon patch." They also made "sexually and racially offensive statements," including jokes about "pegging," he said.And Jessica Brooks said "catcalls" and groping got so bad on the job that she started stacking boxes around her workstation "to discourage men from coming and whistling at and ogling her."These are just a handful of accounts from more than 40 lawsuits filed against Tesla by former and current employees in the past five years alleging the company fosters a sexist and racist work culture. Tesla is currently attempting to push three of the cases, and many others, into private arbitration. Dobbins' case was moved into arbitration in September. Tesla founder Elon Musk built the electric-car maker as part of his utopian vision for the future. The company's cars save lives, Musk has said, and he's set out to revolutionize manufacturing, describing an "alien dreadnought" dream factory, where all parts of the carmaking process are automated. But for now, Tesla must rely on its army of workers, some of whom say these futuristic dreams are stifled in a "Jim Crow Era," "frat house" environment that allows discrimination to fester.Together, the lawsuits paint a picture of a workplace where slurs, groping, and threats were commonplace, and where the human-resources department regularly failed to address workers' concerns. In some cases, employees who turned to management for help said they were reprimanded or terminated, according to the lawsuits."After almost three years of experiencing all the harassment, it robs your sense of security — it almost dehumanizes you," Jessica Barraza, who filed a lawsuit against Tesla in November saying she was sexually harassed on a "near-daily" basis, told The Washington Post. (Insider attempted to contact all of the former employees cited in this story, and they either declined to comment or did not respond.) Tesla has filed to push the case into private arbitration.Musk did not respond to requests for comment. "Tesla believes that the appropriate place to respond is before the tribunal that will hear the actual facts and evidence, not in the press," Tesla said in a statement to Insider, declining to comment on individual cases.In the vast majority of the lawsuits, the carmaker has fought back and pushed for private arbitration. At least three cases have been dismissed and three more have been settled in court. Most others have been moved to private arbitration or are pending a hearing on Tesla's motion to compel arbitration. Meanwhile, Tesla said in October that it is actively working to "ensure that every employee feels that they can bring their whole self to work."While Tesla has largely been successful in deflecting the lawsuits and preventing settlement details from being publicized over the past five years, there are signs of cracks in its armor. The company lost two high-profile discrimination cases — one in court and one in private arbitration — last year, and it's now facing government scrutiny.An aerial view of the Tesla factory in Fremont, California.Justin Sullivan/Getty ImagesA flurry of lawsuits at FremontTesla's sprawling 5.3-million-square-foot factory in Fremont, California, is the company's largest manufacturing hub, where it produces hundreds of thousands of electric cars each year that sell for $46,990 to over $130,000. More than 10,000 employees work at the plant and face ambitious production targets as Tesla pushes to scale production by roughly 50% a year.In 2021, the Fremont factory cranked out 8,550 cars per week — more vehicles than any other automotive production plant in North America, according to a report from Bloomberg. Tesla is planning to ramp up production in the coming year with new factories, and the Fremont hub is designed to serve as the model for its future plants.As Tesla's output and workforce have grown, so have the number of lawsuits it faces from its workers. More sexual-harassment and racial-discrimination lawsuits appear to have been filed against Tesla in 2021 than any year since it was founded 18 years ago, according to an Insider review of 46 lawsuits against Tesla, over 60% of which involve the factory. In many of these cases, women and people of color said they faced racist and sexist behavior. Seven legal and labor experts told Insider that the sheer number of lawsuits against Tesla should be a cause for concern for the carmaker. "It's an astounding number for a factory with 10,000 workers," said Lisa Bloom, a California lawyer who has advised high-profile clients including Harvey Weinstein and taken on cases against Donald Trump, Bill O'Reilly, and Jeffrey Epstein. Bloom also told Insider she's had conversations with a Tesla customer considering legal action against the company. "Most people who are victims of verbal or physical abuse are hesitant to come forward," she said. "These kinds of lawsuits point to a deeper endemic problem and are likely the tip of the iceberg."Deborah Gordon, a Detroit lawyer who has worked on sexual-harassment lawsuits against companies in the United Auto Workers union, told Insider that automotive factories typically face up to a handful of sexual harassment and racial-discrimination cases per year. In an analysis of seven automotive manufacturing plants in the US that have similar workforce populations and production levels to Tesla's Fremont factory — including Toyota's facility in Georgetown, Kentucky (9,000 workers), BMW's in Spartanburg, South Carolina (11,000 workers), Nissan's in Smyrna, Tennessee (7,000 workers), Ford's in Kansas City, Missouri (7,000 workers), Hyundai's in Montgomery Alabama (3,000 workers), Stellantis' in Sterling Heights, Michigan (6,800 workers), and General Motors' in Spring Hill, Tennessee (3,200 workers) — Insider found a range of zero to 10 racial discrimination and sexual harassment cases filed against each facility across county, state, and federal courts over the past five years. Like Tesla, all six companies require employees to sign mandatory arbitration clauses, which could keep cases out of public view.Tesla pushed back on Bloom's characterization of the number as "astounding" in a statement to Insider, saying competitors have been "sued for discrimination many more times than Tesla over the last five years.""The claim that Tesla faces an unusual volume of suits is inaccurate and misleading," the spokesperson said."Your attempt to analyze at the plant level is not a fair comparison, given that the Fremont factory is not only the largest auto assembly plant in the nation, but also has the largest US workforce," Tesla added. "Comparing assembly plants with only a few thousand workers in states such as Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee to Tesla's Fremont factory – located in a jurisdiction with one of the highest rates of litigation – does not make sense. Based on these differences alone, a fair review of publicly available data does not support the assertions of your experts," Tesla added.A GM spokesperson told Insider in a statement that Tesla's comment on competitors' case numbers is also "inaccurate and misleading" and that "GM has zero tolerance for workplace harassment and discrimination in any form."A Toyota spokesperson told Insider, "not a single employee has filed a lawsuit alleging sexual harassment or racial/gender discrimination" at the company's largest US facility in Georgetown, Kentucky over the past five years. A Stellantis spokesperson said, "There is absolutely no truth to Tesla's comments about the Sterling Heights Assembly Plant or any other plant within Stellantis' manufacturing footprint." Ford, BMW, Nissan, and Hyundai did not respond to a request for comment on the number of racial discrimination and sexual harassment lawsuits that have been filed against them. While GM, Ford, and Stellantis are unionized in the US, Tesla's workforce is not, and Musk himself has had scathing words for UAW and unions in general — a factor Gordon said could be contributing to the worker complaints."The UAW is very active in addressing these types of issues," Gordon said. "They simply do not tolerate it. Verbal harassment is fairly common in a factory setting, but a union adds a layer of protection for workers. It allows grievances to be heard and readily addressed."Men represent 79% of Tesla's total workforce and 83% of leadership, the carmaker said in a 2020 report. Vicki Schultz, a labor expert at Yale Law School, told Insider that a lack of diversity in a company's workforce is a major "risk factor" for sexual harassment."The dominant group will use sexual or racial harassment to show others that they don't belong," Schultz said.Tesla has said it is a "majority-minority" company. People of color make up about 60% of the company's total workforce, according to Tesla's latest diversity report. But while Black workers make up 10% of the US workforce, they hold only 4% of roles at the director level or higher. Tesla has not provided specific demographics for the Fremont factory.Some supervisors harassed workers, lawsuits sayMichala Curran said that during her first week at Tesla, her supervisor told her to "shake her ass," become an exotic dancer, and tried to slap her backside."I just felt scared not knowing who to run to," Curran, a former production associate in the paint department, told The Washington Post. "Knowing there's nothing but males around me — not knowing if they might have the same mind-set of the supervisor."Curran is one of 24 women who have sued Tesla in the past five years alleging that they were sexually harassed, groped, or physically assaulted, and in some cases denied pay raises and promotions. Most of the plaintiffs formerly worked at the Fremont factory. Over two dozen former employees' lawsuits said their supervisors harassed them. Tesla has filed a motion to compel Curran's case into private arbitration and the decision is pending a court hearing in May. The remaining 23 cases have been moved to private arbitration or are pending a hearing on Tesla's motion to compel arbitration.Some workers' lawsuits described supervisors' behavior as threatening. Kristin Ortiz, a sales representative, said her supervisor would stalk her, invite her to change clothes in front of him, call her "the eye candy of the store" and on one occasion "kissed her on the cheek," according to a lawsuit. Erica Cloud said in a separate suit that her manager's behavior caused her to "fear for her safety," as he would "hug and massage her" and refer to his penis, saying he is "big down there." Cloud reported the behavior to HR and within several months was no longer required to work with the manager, according to her suit. Another former employee, Dominique Keeton, alleged in a lawsuit that her direct supervisor sent her text messages saying that he wanted to be "intimate" with her and "regularly used racial slurs and white-power language to degrade, belittle, ridicule, and dehumanize her." Ortiz, Cloud, and Keeton's cases have been moved into private arbitration.Over a dozen employees' lawsuits said their supervisors threatened their employment, and in seven cases fired them, after they rejected sexual advances or reported racist and sexist behavior to the company.A Tesla Model 3 is assembled at the Fremont, California, factory.Mason Trinca/The Washington PostBlickman, an assembly-line worker, said in a suit that her supervisor threatened to send her to "one of the least desirable working areas" when she was not responsive to his "sexual advances," which included "daily" back rubs and statements like, "I hear you don't like to scream loud enough."Under federal and state civil-rights laws, employers are required to take reasonable steps to prevent workplace harassment. If a company has no way for employees to report harassment or does nothing to stop the harassment once it's reported, for example, it can be held liable in court. It's also illegal for a company to fire an employee just because they reported being harassed.Tesla HR ignored complaints, some workers saidSome Tesla workers said they tried to turn to the company's HR department for help but were ignored or reprimanded. Eden Mederos said in a lawsuit that Tesla workers at her service station in California often joked the company's HR function was nonexistent. She said she struggled to find contact information for the department after experiencing what she called "near-daily" harassment from coworkers, including her supervisor. After she reported it, the company held a meeting where she said the supervisor called her a "liar" and an HR rep called her accusations "aggressive," according to her suit. Mederos' attorney, David Lowe, told Insider the case has been moved to another county court and he anticipates Tesla will push for the case to be moved to private arbitration.Of 46 lawsuits Insider reviewed, plaintiffs in 13 cases said that verbal, written, or emailed reports sent to HR resulted in either no action or minimal follow-up. Twenty-two former employees said they were fired after reaching out to HR.DeWitt Lambert's attorney, Lawrence Organ, told Insider that Lambert presented HR with a video in which another worker called him the N-word 22 times and detailed how he would "chop up parts of his body." Lambert said he faced retaliation after reporting the incident and that HR "failed to investigate and reprimand the harassers." The same video also failed to convince a private arbitrator, who said a case could not be made against Tesla for allowing employees to use the N-word when Lambert used it himself, Organ told Insider."I feel like everything was taken away from me," Lambert told The New York Times. "I got everything snatched from up under me since I complained about it."Tesla's legal counsel argued that Lambert's filing involved "misplaced claims of employment discrimination, harassment, and retaliation" and that the dispute should be settled in arbitration, where it was ultimately dismissed.A February lawsuit and three-year investigation into Tesla's HR practices by a California civil-rights regulator found that the company's human-resources department was "under-staffed and inadequately trained" with the ratio of HR workers to personnel 1-to-740. For comparison, the Society of Human Resources Management, the profession's leading member association, estimates that companies in the US average over two HR employees per every 100 full-time workers. Tesla has said it is working to improve training for its employees."We recently rolled out an additional training program that reinforces Tesla's requirement that all employees must treat each other with respect and reminds employees about the numerous ways they can report concerns, including anonymously," Tesla said on its website.Some former employees said Tesla HR personnel were hostile toward them. Malaisha Bivens said in a lawsuit that she met with an unidentified person she assumed was an HR representative after she reported that a fellow employee touched her inappropriately. This person "threatened" her in a "harsh tone," and said "she would be fired if she was lying about the incident," according to Bivens' lawsuit. HR did not follow up about an investigation into her complaint, her lawsuit said. The case has been moved to private arbitration.Another former employee, Kaylen Barker, said in a lawsuit that Tesla human resources asked her to sign a statement saying she was "insubordinate" after she reported that a coworker referred to her using the N-word and a sexist insult while also calling her "stupid" and "dumb" before throwing a "hot tool" at her. Tesla has yet to submit a response to the case."At a big company the expectation is that the HR department has a significant responsibility to ensure the law is not being broken," Gordon said. "Based on my experience, HR departments are not completely neutral, but usually at major companies they make a concerted effort to make sure rules are followed."Tesla's HR team appeared to take action against harassers in a small fraction of the lawsuits reviewed by Insider. Only four cases cited instances in which alleged harassers faced repercussions, including termination and being reassigned to another department, after physical altercations, according to the complaints.The CEO set the tone, some workers say Musk is known for his hands-on approach in guiding Tesla. In 2018, the CEO said he would sleep on the factory floor and work over 120 hours a week.Musk's leadership style led several workers who filed lawsuits to believe that he knew about what they called a "hostile work environment" at the Fremont factory."We've had multiple witnesses that can speak to Musk's presence at the factory, at least during the time of Lambert and Diaz's cases," said Organ, who represents several former workers in cases against Tesla. "It would be very hard to believe that he doesn't know about the behavior at the factory, and yet it doesn't seem like there's been a clear message from Musk that this conduct is not tolerated."Of the cases Organ has worked on, one has been dismissed, one is ongoing, and two have won against Tesla — one in court and the other in private arbitration.Four claimants said they contacted Musk directly about their complaints, while two more alleged his behavior on Twitter indirectly contributed toward their harassment.Tesla CEO Elon Musk in Delaware.Matt Rourke/AP PhotoMarcus Vaughn, a former employee, said he was one of multiple Black employees who contacted Musk regarding "repeated instances of race-based harassment" in 2017. Vaughn and more than 100 other former Tesla workers who are Black sued the company in a class action. In response, Musk sent an email to Fremont factory workers addressing harassment at Tesla, according to Vaughn's suit."Part of not being a huge jerk is considering how someone might feel who is part of [a] historically less represented group," Musk wrote in the email, according to the suit. "Sometimes these things happen unintentionally, in which case you should apologize. In fairness, if someone is a jerk to you, but sincerely apologizes, it is important to be thick-skinned and accept that apology."The class action suit was dismissed in 2021. The automaker's counsel successfully argued "that the court should deny class certification because Tesla policy and practice is that Tesla employees are bound by the Tesla arbitration agreement."Vaughn's case is ongoing in Alameda County Court. Tesla has repeatedly pushed to move the case into private arbitration and has said the suit "fails to state facts sufficient to constitute a cause of action against" Tesla. Organ claims Vaughn never signed the carmaker's mandatory arbitration agreement and the continued motions to compel arbitration are an "effort to stall."Musk is also known for his active online presence, in particular his Twitter persona — which ranks among the most-followed accounts on the site. The Tesla CEO's tweets frequently spawn headlines and in some cases scrutiny from financial regulators. Two female Tesla ex-employees pointed to instances in which they said Musk's behavior on Twitter contributed indirectly to their harassment, including recent tweets from the CEO in which he made a joke about creating a college with the acronym "TITS," and dubbed his Tesla car models "S3XY." Opening 'the floodgates'Tesla's mandatory-arbitration clause, which requires most employees to bring their claims in private arbitration instead of public court, makes it difficult to know the details of all allegations against the company. In September, Bloomberg reported that almost 90 employment-related private arbitration complaints had been filed against Tesla since 2016. The company won 11 of those cases and lost only one. Most were settled, withdrawn, or dismissed, according to Bloomberg. Melvin Berry, a former employee, is the only known person to win a discrimination case against Tesla in arbitration. He secured a $1 million settlement in August after a private arbitrator determined the company failed to stop Berry's supervisors from calling him the N-word. The carmaker denied the allegations in Berry's case, saying Tesla "is absolutely against any form of discrimination, harassment, or unfair treatment of any kind." Tesla has not appealed the case.Then, in October, a San Francisco federal jury ruled that Tesla must pay over $137 million in punitive damages to a former Tesla contractor, Owen Diaz. Diaz said his supervisor helped create a hostile work environment for Black workers by distributing racist sketches at work.The company is in the process of challenging the verdict, saying the award "bears no relationship to the actual evidence at trial." Helen Rella, a New York labor lawyer, told Insider a successful lawsuit, especially a landmark case like Diaz's, could "open the floodgates" — an issue that Tesla board members have expressed concern over in the past."Just because there is more than one complaint against a company it does not necessarily indicate that the complaints are justified, but it certainly provides the opportunity for more workers to come forward," Rella said. "Once a lawyer has one employee who's willing to sue, it's much easier to find more."Tesla also alluded to this, telling Insider that many of the lawsuits "have been brought by a handful of plaintiffs' lawyers who actively solicit Tesla workers in an effort to enrich themselves, and then often plant the same sensationalized, unadjudicated allegations to get yet more clients for self-enrichment."Organ told Insider meanwhile that over 950 former and current Tesla employees have reached out to him with racial-discrimination claims against the carmaker.Meanwhile, Tesla faces another looming legal battle.In February, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing sued the company over allegations of systemic racial discrimination and harassment at its Fremont factory. The civil-rights agency said it had received "hundreds of complaints from workers."Tesla called the lawsuit an attack against "the last remaining automobile manufacturer in California," and said that it "always disciplined and terminated employees who engage in misconduct, including those who use racial slurs or harass others in different ways.""Tesla's brand, purportedly highlighting a socially conscious future, masks the reality of a company that profits from an army of production workers, many of whom are people of color, working under egregious conditions," California said in its complaint. "Even after years of complaints, Tesla has continued to deflect and evade responsibility."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMar 23rd, 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

Reddit Allows Hate Speech to Flourish in Its Global Forums, Moderators Say

Reddit moderators around the world say that racism, xenophobia, homophobia, sexism, misinformation and personal threats are running rampant on the site When Reddit moderator asantos3 clicked on a thread inside the group r/Portugueses in December and found it full of racist comments, he wasn’t exactly surprised. The group is often home to nationalist and nativist rhetoric, and in this instance, users here were responding angrily to a new law that allowed increased freedom of movement between Portuguese-speaking countries including African nations like Mozambique and Angola. “Wonderful, more stupid Blacks to rob me in the street,” read one comment in Portuguese, which received 19 likes. “This Africanization of Portugal can only lead the country to a third-world backwardness,” read another. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] So, asantos3, who moderates the much larger and more mainstream group r/Portugal, quickly sent a report to Reddit staffers with a link to the thread. Within minutes, he received an automated response: “After investigating, we’ve found that the reported content doesn’t violate Reddit’s Content Policy.” The response was disappointing but predictable for asantos3, who has served as a volunteer content moderator for six years. As part of his duties, he deletes comments that contain racism, homophobia, sexism and other policy violations, and sends reports to Reddit about hate speech coming from smaller satellite groups like r/Portugeses. Asantos3 spoke on the condition that he would be identified only by his Reddit handle. He says his duties have led to him being doxxed—with personal details including his Instagram and LinkedIn profiles posted online— and threatened. And asantos3 says that the company itself has repeatedly ignored reports of harassment from him and other moderators. “We mostly stopped reporting stuff, because we don’t have feedback,” he says. “We have no idea if they read our reports, or if there are even Portuguese-speaking people in the company.” Reddit’s problem is a global one, say current and former moderators. Indian subreddits like r/chodi and r/DesiMeta include Islamophobic posts and calls for the genocide of Muslims. In subreddits about China like r/sino and r/genzedong, users attack Uyghurs and promote violence against them. And members of r/Portugueses regularly traffic in anti-Black, anti-Roma and anti-immigrant sentiment. READ MORE: The Subreddit /r/Collapse Has Become the Doomscrolling Capital of the Internet. Can Its Users Break Free? “Anything outside the anglosphere is pretty much ignored, to be honest,” 11th Dimension, a former moderator of r/Portugal who stepped down from his role due to burnout, says. “It’s hard to convey to the company what’s racist and what’s not when the admins are so far from the details and the cultural differences.” TIME spoke to 19 Reddit moderators around the world who shared similar stories and concerns about the San-Francisco-based company’s reluctance to control hate-speech in its non-English language forums. Nearly all of the moderators agreed to speak on the condition that their real names would not be published because they say they have received death threats and other attacks online for their work. This all-volunteer corps of moderators, of which there are at least tens of thousands, is only growing in importance for the company. Reddit announced in December that it intends to make an initial public offering of stock in 2022. The company was recently valued at $10 billion, is one of the 25 most visited websites in the world according to multiple trackers and has made its international expansion a key aspect of its post-IPO growth strategy. But some of its most devoted users—its unpaid moderators—argue that while the company aims to be the “front page of the internet,” it has not invested in the infrastructure to combat vile content that is rife on many of its non-English language pages. Reddit has acknowledged that its expansion to international markets makes policing its platform more difficult, and some moderators said the company has taken steps in recent months to correct the longstanding problems. “When we begin to open in non-English speaking countries, moderation does get more complex,” a Reddit spokesperson said in a statement to TIME. “We are investing now to build and hire for non-English capabilities and add support for more languages.” READ MORE: Facebook Let an Islamophobic Conspiracy Theory Flourish in India Despite Employees’ Warnings These problems are not unique to Reddit. Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have each struggled to contain hate speech and misinformation as they pushed into new markets around the world. Facebook groups and posts, for example, have been linked to real-world violence in India, the Philippines, Myanmar and other countries even as the platform spends billions of dollars a year on safety and security. This year, other Silicon Valley companies will be watching closely as Reddit embarks on a precarious balancing act: to gain legitimacy and generate revenue while retaining its freewheeling, decentralized structure. Can the company preserve free speech while protecting its users? And will its model of running a lean operation with few paid staffers allow it to adapt to the responsibilities of hosting growing, diverse communities around the world? More from TIME Many moderators and analysts are skeptical. “Reddit has very little incentive to do anything about problems [in subreddits] because they see them as a self-governing problem,” Adrienne Massanari, an associate professor at American University who has been studying Reddit for years and wrote a book on its communities, says. “They’re creating a very successful business model in pushing work to moderators and users, who have to be exposed to horrific stuff.” Using dog whistles to get around the rules Zach Gibson—Getty ImagesReddit Inc. co-founder and CEO Steve Huffman looks on during a hearing with the House Communications and Technology and House Commerce Subcommittees on Oct. 16, 2019 in Washington, DC. The hearing investigated measures to foster a healthier internet and protect consumers. Reddit, founded in 2005, is essentially a messaging board, but it could be compared to a high school extracurriculars fair. The site comprises hundreds of self-contained forums arranged by varied interests, from sports to makeup to art to pets. While many of these subreddits are innocuous, it’s no secret that Reddit has long been a haven for unseemly behavior. Reddit CEO, Steve Huffman, even explicitly stated in 2018 that racism was not against Reddit’s rules, elaborating that “on Reddit there will be people with beliefs different from your own, sometimes extremely so.” However, over the two years—following intense criticism rained down on the company over its hate speech and harassment policies, including in the wake of the murder of George Floyd—the company backed away from its original hands-off ethos and has been hard at work to clean up its communities and clamp down on noxious, racist behavior. Toxic communities like r/The_Donald have been banned; AI-powered tools aimed at curbing hate speech and abuse have been rolled out; backchannels between moderators and company employees have been established. READ MORE: Reddit Places a ‘Quarantine’ on The_Donald, Its Largest Community of Trump Supporters But many non-English moderators say that cleanup has not extended to the pages they monitor. R/India is one of the largest national subreddits, with 693,000 members. There, users will typically find a fairly tame mix of news links, memes and local photos. That’s partly down to the hard work of unpaid moderators to remove Islamophic content. A group of five r/India moderators, speaking to TIME over a Zoom call, say they can spend several hours a day actively responding to queries, removing hate speech and banning rogue accounts. (Old moderators approve the applications of new ones; the primary draws of the gig, according to moderators, are community-building and the ability to help shape a discourse.) One moderator for r/India has served in his role since 2011, when there was a more laissez-faire approach. Moderators soon realized that a hands-off moderation style “wasn’t working because it allowed the worst people to dominate the conversations,” he says. “There would be lots of people just saying things like ‘Muslims need to die.’” When moderators began to block these users, some would simply return with a new account and taunt them, creating an endless game of whack-a-mole. Moderators say they saw other users instead start or join offshoot groups that allowed more controversial posts. The largest of those r/India offshoots currently is r/Chodi, which was created in 2019 and has 90,000 members who create hundreds of posts a day. R/Chodi—which translates as a crude slang in Hindi—contains ample examples of far-right Hindu nationalism that often spills over into hate speech and sectarian bigotry. Dozens of posts a week denigrate Islam, often depicting Muslims as ignorant, violent or incestuous. “Poorer, dumber, breeding like rats. They’ve got it all,” one post says about Muslims in India, which is still online. “India needs to eliminate them before they rise up,” read another, which has since been deleted. (R/Chodi’s increased popularity has coincided with a steep rise in religious hate crimes in India.) As r/Chodi has faced criticism from communities like r/AgainstHateSpeech, the group’s own moderators have made efforts to halt the most overt examples of hate speech, including creating a list of banned words. But r/Chodi posters have simply turned to code words and increasingly slippery rhetoric, to get around the moderators and Reddit’s AI-driven natural language processing techniques, according to r/India moderators. Muslims are referred to using coded language such as “Abduls,” “Mull@s,” “K2as,” or, derisively, “Peace loving” people. Christians are referred to as “Xtians”; while Pakistan is called “Porkistan.” Reddit said in a statement that automation and machine learning “help moderators remove 99% of reported hateful content.” But, studies have shown that AI is far less powerful when working outside the language it was designed in. The moderators who spoke with TIME say they have tried to flag these alternative slurs to the Reddit administrators, paid employees who are largely based in the U.S., but have been mostly ignored. “I have tried to report these comments 20 or 30 times, easily,” a second r/India moderator says. “I’ve tried to collate these slurs and send them the translations, but it was never even replied to.” In a statement responding to the moderator’s claim, Reddit wrote that “harassment, bullying, and threats of violence or content that promotes hate based on identity or vulnerability” are prohibited on the platform and that they “review and work with communities that may engage in such behavior, including the subreddit in question.” Extremists around the world use code words in a way similar to the users of r/Chodi. The user DubTeeDub—who moderates r/AgainstHateSubreddits and wrote a widely shared open letter last year excoriating racism on the platform and demanding change—says that Reddit’s administrators have failed to keep up with racists’ constantly evolving dog whistles, such as Neo-Nazis putting Jewish names in triple parentheses to signal their identity. “It’s very clearly a white supremacist symbol, but the admins will just say, ‘that seems fine to me,’ and they’ll ignore it,” DubTeeDub, says. But the moderators of r/India feel that Reddit is not only allowing hate speech to spread on r/Chodi and other similar groups, but actively pushing users toward the group. They have found posts from r/Chodi within r/India itself, algorithmically suggested as “posts you may like” and giving the subreddit a veneer of tacit official approval. “These are very hateful subs, and we don’t want our subscribers going there,” a second r/India moderator says. “They can discover them on their own, but that should not be happening from inside our sub.” Reddit’s volunteer moderators face threats The fraught interplay between r/India and r/Chodi is emblematic of cat-and-mouse games playing out in subreddits in other parts of the world, especially as far-right political groups amass power in many countries and gain legions of followers. In Portugal, r/Portugueses (6,900 members) is filled with anti-Roma and anti-Semitic rhetoric, homophobia, and racist depictions of Africans. “How is it possible for someone to want to see a place like this full of Africans, Brazilians, Indians and I don’t know what else?” posted one commenter alongside an idyllic illustration of a Portuguese town. A screenshot from the Reddit community r/Portugueses, which often includes anti-Black, anti-Roma and anti-immigrant sentiment. “How is it possible for someone to want to see a place like this full of Africans, Brazilians, Indians, and I don’t know what else?,” the caption reads in Portuguese. Concerned moderators have attempted to report these posts and, in turn, become targets of abuse. One of the most common tactics is for zealous users to band together and report moderators for invented reasons in an effort to get them suspended or banned by unsuspecting admins. DubTeeDub says these types of tactics have led to his suspension at least seven times. But the attacks often turn much more personal and vicious, as trolls dig up moderators’ personal information. Asantos3, the r/Portugal moderator, says he’s been stalked across LinkedIn and Instagram. One user offered Bitcoin to anyone who could find out his address. “It’s so weird, but some of these actions are so common that we kind of ignore them now,” he says. In Brazil, a São Paulo-based student and r/Brasil moderator who gave his name as Tet said he was threatened and doxxed when he and other moderators tried to crack down on the hate speech on r/Brasilivre (176,000 members), on which users post transphobia, anti-Black racism and homophobic slurs. “Stay smart because we’re watching you. Don’t think I’m the only one,” wrote one commenter in Portuguese. “I will find each one of you and kill you slowly.” Another user posted Tet’s address and personal Facebook account, writing, “Just let the hate flow and f— with them… bring trouble to their lives.” Neither of those posters have active accounts anymore, and Tet has since stopped moderating the subreddit partly due to burnout. Perhaps it’s not surprising that there’s a high level of fatigue among moderators, who are often forced to see the worst aspects of Reddit on a daily basis. One r/India moderator tells TIME that women are especially vulnerable to harassment. “I know female mods are regularly hounded, targeted, not given space: it’s not a place to identify as a woman,” he says. How Reddit can move forward Many other social media platforms are struggling to balance free speech ideals with the aggressive spread of hate speech and misinformation on their platforms. This fall, documents released by the whistleblower Frances Haugen showed that Facebook deprioritized efforts to curtail misinformation. In July, Black soccer players for England’s national team received torrents of racist abuse on Facebook and Twitter following the Euro 2021 Championship final, provoking British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to demand “the urgent need for action” from social media companies. In India, Facebook allowed Hindu extremists to operate openly on its platform for months, despite being banned by the platform. Facebook, in response to criticism, has pledged to bolster its safety team and resources: it has 40,000 employees working on safety and security alone. Reddit, similarly, is pledging to ramp up its efforts, although its team is skeletal in comparison. Over the last year, the company has expanded its workforce from 700 to 1,300. A Reddit spokesperson said that the company opened offices in Canada, the U.K., Australia and Germany, and would “continue to expand to other countries” in an effort to get closer to their global communities. Reddit created a Mod Council to receive feedback from moderators last year. It is also testing a new feature to give users more advanced blocking capabilities to limit the mobilizing power of extremists, harassers and bigots. In October 2021, the company posted a statement laying out statistics about its efforts toward “internationalizing safety,” and wrote, “The data largely shows that our content moderation is scaling and that international communities show healthy levels of reporting and moderation.” Many Reddit moderators feel the site’s system of using volunteer moderators is less healthy than the company suggests. “There are a lot of people who just move on,” Jonathan Deans, a Scotland-based moderator of r/worldnews, says. “They’re like, ‘I’m sick of doing this. We just remove hateful comments all day, and what do we get out of it? Not really anything.” Massanari, the American University professor, argues that Reddit’s problems will continue to worsen without a concerted internal effort. “Reddit’s defense has been, ‘If you ignore these spaces, they’ll go away,’” she says. “But the scholars and experts who have researched extremism and hate speech for years have clearly said that the more you allow that stuff to continue, you get more and more extreme versions of it.” “We take safety extremely seriously and are committed to continuously enhancing our policies and processes to ensure the safety of users and moderators on our platform,” Reddit said in a statement. “We are seeing some improvements in the prevalence of hateful content as a result of our efforts, and we will continue to invest in our safety capabilities as well as moderator tools and resources.” Ellen Pao, the former interim chief executive of Reddit and current CEO of Project Include, agrees that the company’s unpaid moderation model has severe limits. When she led the company in between 2014 and 2015, Pao made it a priority to take down revenge porn and unauthorized nude photos and to ban toxic communities like the fat-shaming community r/fatpeoplehate, which spurred a huge backlash from many of Reddit’s most active users. Pao says that Silicon Valley has historically sidelined efforts like these in favor of their bottom lines. “You have these platforms that were founded by white men, who do not experience the same levels of toxicity, harassment and harm themselves, so they don’t see or understand these problems and let them fester,” she says. “It’s something they’ve been able to ignore for a long time.” Pao says that hiring more people whose jobs involve confronting these issues is the first step. “If you really care about your users, and if you really want to prevent harassment and harm, then why wouldn’t you take on those roles yourself?” she says. Back in Portugal, the moderator asantos3 is still spending his free time trying to clean up Portuguese-language subreddits. After receiving the automated message about the racist thread, he sent a frustrated note with more details to the Reddit’s staff administrators. This time, an admin wrote back—a rare occurrence in itself. But the note only reinforced the gap between him and the company: “I think some things may be getting lost in the translations here but am happy to take another look,” the admin wrote. “It would also help if you were able to explain a bit more directly how the linked article promotes hate.” Asantos3 responded with some details, and reported a few more comments in the thread, which asserted that the influx of Portuguese-speaking Africans would lead to “population replacement and genocide,” “kidnap and rape,” and “violent possessive monkey rage.” But he received the same automated brush-off and never heard back from a human. The whole thread, as of publication, is still online. “I’m feeling frustrated,” he said. “I guess it doesn’t matter at all.”.....»»

Category: topSource: timeJan 13th, 2022

Disinfo Vs. Democracy

Disinfo Vs. Democracy Authored by Nadine Strossen via TabletMag.com, Using accusations of ‘disinformation’ to suppress scientific criticism, steer media coverage, and silence political opponents is not part of the operating system of a free society... First Amendment principles permit the government to punish false speech when it directly and immediately causes specific and serious harm. But unlike defamation, fraud, perjury, and other examples of punishable false speech, the term “disinformation” (or “misinformation”) has no specific legal meaning. “Disinformation” is widely used to designate false or misleading speech that cannot constitutionally be punished precisely because its potential harms are indirect and speculative—what the U.S. Supreme Court has called “an undifferentiated fear or apprehension” of negative consequences. To be sure, even though the harmful potential of disinformation is more inchoate than that of false speech that is constitutionally punishable, the potential for harm is still real. The many current advocates of restricting disinformation stress that it can cause serious harm, including to individual and public health, and even to democratic self-government itself. Yet expanding government power to punish such expression would also cause harm that is at least as serious—including to the very same values of health and democratic governance. The negative impact of censoring disinformation comes from its inherent vagueness and subjectivity. The authorities tasked with censorship invariably enforce this malleable concept in ways that reinforce dominant political and societal interest groups, and disadvantage minority groups and perspectives. This predictable dynamic is illustrated by recent experience in a number of other countries, from Russia to South Africa, and also in the United States before the Supreme Court enforced strict limits on punishing false speech. While the relevant legal analysis focuses on government censorship of disinformation, many of the same concerns also apply to censorship implemented by dominant technology firms. Although these private sector entities are usually not constrained by the First Amendment, their enormous power and influence over public discourse means that their restrictions on disinformation have adverse consequences similar to government restrictions. Moreover, in recent months, mounting evidence suggests that the dominant platforms’ content restrictions on disinformation (and other controversial speech) may have been sufficiently induced by or coordinated with government officials that we should seriously consider treating such restrictions as tantamount to government action and hence subject to First Amendment limits. Arguments for restricting disinformation consistently focus on the harm that such speech can potentially cause, without analyzing other issues that should be considered before concluding that censorship is justified. First, it is important to underscore the important fact noted above: The harmful potential of disinformation—unlike constitutionally punishable forms of false speech—is indirect and speculative. While the old nursery rhyme is wrong in declaring that “words will never hurt me,” it is equally untrue that “words will always hurt me.” The impact of speech on a single human mind, let alone an entire community or society, results from the complex interplay of multiple factors, and hence cannot be confidently predicted, or even clearly assessed after the fact. For example, what has been the net impact of disinformation about the 2020 election? Surely disinformation spurred some negative outcomes, including motivating participants in the events of Jan. 6. Just as plausibly, though, disinformation about the election spurred some positive outcomes too, including increased efforts to promote healthy skepticism, media literacy, fact-checking, and other measures that would remain necessary even if disinformation were censored. Because we can never completely eliminate the supply of disinformation, the most effective response is to curb the demand for it. Even if we made the purely hypothetical assumption that certain disinformation has a significant negative impact on balance, it still would not follow that government should restrict it. Logically, one could justify restrictions only by analyzing three additional questions: (1) Does the restriction materially reduce either the prevalence of such speech or its potential adverse impact? (2) Does the restriction have any adverse consequences (including unintended ones), such as increasing the prevalence or potential adverse impact of the targeted speech, or suppressing other speech that even censorship advocates agree should be protected? (3) Are there other steps we could pursue to reduce the prevalence or potential adverse impact of the targeted speech that would be at least as effective, but would not entail as many adverse consequences? This additional line of questioning makes common sense. We might well be willing to give up some free speech rights for the sake of advancing some other important goal—such as, in the case of disinformation, preserving our democratic form of government. But we shouldn’t be willing to forfeit free speech if the sacrifice does not actually have the desired impact, or worse yet, if it actually makes the problem worse—in this case, by undermining democracy. Indeed, government punishment of disinformation is fundamentally antithetical to democracy. As the Supreme Court declared in United States v. Alvarez (2012), which struck down a federal law criminalizing certain false statements, “Our constitutional tradition stands against the idea that we need Oceania’s Ministry of Truth.” As current debates illustrate, one person’s cherished truth is another’s despised “fake news.” Speech that critics seek to suppress as disinformation almost never consists of objectively verifiable facts alone, but also involves subjective matters of interpretation and analysis. After all, speakers who intentionally or recklessly utter false statements of fact that directly cause specific harm may constitutionally be punished under existing laws, such as those that ban fraud, defamation, and perjury. In contrast, our legal system scrupulously avoids punishing statements that go beyond straightforward facts and incorporate matters of interpretation or opinion. As the Supreme Court declared in Gertz v. Robert Welch, Inc. (1974): '’Under the First Amendment there is no such thing as a false idea. However pernicious an opinion may seem, we depend for its correction not on the conscience of judges and juries but on the competition of other ideas.” While some may bristle at the notion that government is prohibited from silencing “false ideas,” surely the alternative is far worse. If government were permitted to determine which ideas should be deemed “false” and hence punishable, any ideas that depart from prevailing orthodoxy—including those critiquing government policy—would be jeopardized. Such a course could not be more inimical to the most fundamental precepts that undergird our democratic republic. As the Supreme Court eloquently declared in its landmark 1943 decision in West Virginia Board of Education v. Barnette: “If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion ...” Until the Supreme Court reined in the concept of defamation in its groundbreaking 1964 ruling in New York Times v. Sullivan, Southern officials systematically persecuted civil rights leaders and organizations, as well as the national media that covered them, for even slight misstatements of fact. Those officials pursued multiple defamation lawsuits with the specific goal of imposing ruinously large damages judgments in order to stifle both the civil rights activists themselves and the national media that disseminated information about their efforts across the country. Without that national audience, and the resulting political and financial support for the civil rights movement, it likely would have foundered; that was precisely the point of the libel lawsuit strategy. In a nutshell, the pre-Sullivan libel laws, which gave government undue discretion to punish disinformation, were unsurprisingly weaponized against the government’s critics. To this day, advocates for racial justice, including supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement, have seen their own speech assailed—and even suppressed on social media—as disinformation. For instance, a May 25, 2021, National Public Radio story quoted Mike Gonzalez, a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation, as stating: “I feel that Black Lives Matter is one of the greatest sources of disinformation ... They have manipulated the good nature of many people.” The story also quoted Gonzales, Rudolph Giuliani, and other BLM critics charging that the movement falsely portrays itself as a racial justice group, whereas its actual goal is “to advance a Marxist agenda.” While the NPR story quoted critics charging BLM with purveying disinformation, it also quoted BLM leaders who returned the very same charge, complaining that the disinformation accusations themselves constituted disinformation. The unavoidable problems with censoring disinformation have predictably plagued recent laws, including those touted as restricting pandemic-related disinformation in order to protect public health. As the Economist reported in February 2021, “Censorious governments are abusing ‘fake news’ laws,” invoking the pandemic as “an excuse to gag reporters” and to silence critics of pandemic-era policies. In February 2020, Amnesty International noted that Singapore’s 2019 law against “online falsehoods and manipulation” was “repeatedly used to target critics and political opponents.” The Singaporean government could not deny this, but instead claimed that the law’s consistent enforcement against opposition party members was a “coincidence.” To the contrary, these patterns necessarily result from restrictions on such a vague, broad category of speech, even in democratic regimes. That is why the American Civil Liberties Union brought a 2020 lawsuit challenging disinformation laws that the government of Puerto Rico had recently passed for the asserted purpose of protecting public health and safety. One such law makes it a crime to share “false information” about the government’s post-pandemic emergency and curfew orders with the intent to cause “confusion, panic, or public hysteria.” Shortly after the law went into effect, the Puerto Rican government charged a prominent clergyman with allegedly disseminating false information on WhatsApp about a rumored executive order to close all businesses. In fact, only a short time later, the governor did issue such an order. Even beyond the speech that disinformation laws directly stifle, these laws also suppress incalculable amounts of important expression, including information about the pandemic that could literally be a matter of life or death. That’s because the laws deter scientists and other experts from providing information to journalists, and journalists are in turn deterred from conveying information to the public, for fear of transgressing—or being charged with transgressing—the laws’ blurry boundaries. The ACLU’s complaint in the Puerto Rico case was filed on behalf of two prominent investigative journalists, who explained that “developing stories on matters of immense public concern are often complex, contentious, and murky,” and thus “inadvertent inaccuracies are inevitable even in the most thoroughly vetted reporting.” Throughout the pandemic, we have witnessed constantly evolving and shifting views among expert individuals and agencies, as they steadily gather and analyze additional data. Yesterday’s life-endangering “disinformation” can and has become today’s life-protecting gospel. Recall, to cite only the most obvious example, the CDC’s changing edicts about mask-wearing. Inherently subjective disinformation restrictions can easily be wielded for ulterior purposes, including to promote partisan interests. Consider, for instance, recent evidence that the Biden administration has been pressuring social media companies to restrict content that purportedly purveys disinformation about COVID, in light of allegations that the actual concerns may well involve politics at least as much as public health. Republican members of Congress have claimed that platforms have restricted “conservative” posts on issues related to the pandemic in response to pressure from administration officials, even though the posts contained no factual misrepresentations and simply conveyed perspectives with which the administration disagreed. Whether or not these claims are factually correct, it is true that the concept of disinformation is so open-ended that it could be deployed against particular communications for partisan reasons. The inevitable manipulability of restrictions on disinformation is well illustrated by YouTube’s recent removal of a video for violating its “medical misinformation policy.” The video, which had been posted by New York Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, was of an August 2021 news conference in which she announced a lawsuit challenging New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s “vaccine passport” as an invasion of privacy and an unreasonable mandate on small businesses. Although Malliotakis supports vaccination, she believes that the mandate constitutes government overreach—a position that the Supreme Court might well end up sharing. After Malliotakis appealed YouTube’s removal, the company said that it was “taking another look” and ultimately reinstated the video, thus underscoring the inherent elasticity of the misinformation concept. Whether or not YouTube actually had a good-faith health reason for its initial removal of the video, the fact remains that the vague policy can easily be invoked as a pretext, masking other motives. All the more reason, then, to be suspicious of even sincere attempts by public and private authorities to prevent the harm that disinformation can cause. Recall that Southern officials based their libel lawsuits against activists and journalists during the civil rights movement on the dissemination of inaccurate information. What we learned in that era is that disinformation is unavoidable in any vigorous discussion of fast-breaking public issues, and that making it punishable by law can only inhibit democratic debate. It’s time we relearn that lesson. Tyler Durden Sat, 10/02/2021 - 22:30.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytOct 3rd, 2021

Police video shows alleged Proud Boys being pepper-sprayed after yelling slurs and trying to force their way into a drag event in California

People inside the drag event in Woodland, California, used pepper spray to stop a group of agitators, alleged to be Proud Boys, from entering a bar. A screen-grab from footage of a police officer's body-worn camera, before a group of suspected Proud Boys were pepper-sprayed for disrupting a Woodland, California drag show.Woodland Police Department A group of suspected far-right Proud Boys attempted to disrupt a drag event in Woodland, California.  Videos show the agitators being pepper-sprayed as they tried to force their way into the bar. It is the latest LGBTQ event to be targeted in recent weeks. A group of suspected  far-right Proud Boys was pepper-sprayed after they yelled slurs and tried to force their way into a drag show in Woodland, California, on Thursday night.The Woodland Police Department released footage from an officer's body-worn camera that shows the men trying to storm Mojo's Lounge & Bar before being pepper-sprayed by someone inside. (Video of the incident begins at the 2:03 mark). Multiple media reports suggested they were suspected members of the Proud Boys, but authorities have not confirmed or denied this. Several men can be seen wearing hats, sunglasses, and balaclavas.The Woodland Police Department said in a statement on Facebook that the agitators were "making derogatory comments about the event and the LGBTQIA+ community."No arrests have been made yet, but authorities said they continue investigating.In videos posted on social media of the incident, the men can be heard shouting obscenities and accusing those at the bar of preying on children. In one video, the agitators yell: "How many kids are in there? How many fucking children do you have in there?" In another, a man uses a megaphone to call for those in the bar to be arrested for pedophilia.The comments are in line with a right-wing disinformation campaign to associate gay and transgender people with predatory behavior and pedophilia, which has led to drag shows and LGBTQ events becoming a target of right-wing groups like the Proud Boys.A counter-protester wearing the yellow and black colors and insignia of the Proud Boys outside the National Rifle Association annual meeting in Houston, Texas on May 28, 2022.Patrick T. Fallon/Getty ImagesIn recent weeks, alleged members of the Proud Boys stormed a drag queen story time event at a San Lorenzo library, as well as in Nevada. Last month, 31 extremist Patriot Front group members were arrested outside an Idaho Pride event.Posts threatening violence at the Woodland drag queen happy hour began circulating on social media after the far-right Twitter account Libs of TikTok, which has 1.3 million followers, shared a flier advertising the event in June, according to The Sacramento Bee. NorCal Resist, a grassroots activism group that monitors activity from far-right groups on encrypted messaging services like Telegram, posted a warning on social media that members of the Proud Boys planned to disrupt the event, the paper said.The bar decided to cancel the event hours before it was due to start on Thursday, citing safety concerns.However, it was still full of patrons who had come to celebrate the last day of Pride month, with some drag queens performing an impromptu show, the bar owner told The Sacramento Bee."Everyone was taking pictures with the drag queens and just having a great night," Christy Hayes, the bar owner, told the paper."Everyone was so excited because tensions were high. Everyone was worried that the Proud Boys, the disrupters, or whatever they want to call themselves would show up.""All we can hope from this is that maybe we can identify one or two of them to add to the list because their aggression is only going to get worse," Hayes said. "And eventually, someone is going to get seriously injured."New Zealand has designated the Proud Boys and The Base as terrorist organizations. "These are white supremacist terrorist groups, and we don't believe, and I don't think New Zealanders believe that any New Zealander should be enabling and supporting them," Police Minister Chris Hipkins said at a news conference on Thursday during which the designations were announced, VOA News reported. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsider18 hr. 35 min. ago

Separatist fighter reportedly told his wife Russian troops are war criminals, used a slur to call them morons

In a purported phone call between a Russian-backed separatist and his wife, the fighter describes chaos and war crimes among Russian soldiers. Russian soldiers walks along a street in Mariupol on April 12, 2022.Photo by ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP via Getty Images) A Russian-backed separatist fighter reportedly trashed Putin's troops in a call with his wife.  Ukraine's military intelligence released on Thursday what it said was a phone call between the two.  Russian troops have been accused of war crimes and other atrocities since the war's early days. A Russian-backed separatist fighter reportedly told his wife that President Vladimir Putin's troops are war criminals and used a slur for disabled people to call them imbeciles. Ukraine's military intelligence uploaded a video to YouTube on Thursday of what it alleged was a phone conversation between a soldier from the Moscow-backed, self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic and his wife. During the phone call, the soldier describes disorganization and chaos among the Russian soldiers, using a slur to call Putin's forces morons and comparing soldier infighting to mutinies during World War I."Like during the war on Potemkin, in the night, they had support come in to help them, and they started firing on themselves, Russians firing on Russians, destroying themselves," he said. The separatist also purportedly blasts Russian military generals for not understanding the situation on the ground."In short, they fucked us for everything," the fighter reportedly said.The separatist fighter also complained that Russian forces weren't allowing them to rotate off the front lines. "I just want them to get us out of here," he said, adding that he thinks the Russians aren't allowing soldiers off the front lines because they're afraid they'll desert and never return."Nobody is going home, because they won't fucking come back," he said. "And mostly, they are right, because even the guy from the 33rd regiment said, 'This is a one-way ticket, I will leave and not come back.'"Ukrainian officials and Western states have accused Russian troops of committing war crimes and other atrocities against civilians since the war's early days. Throughout the four-month-long conflict, civilians, journalists, and officials have documented and reported instances where Russian troops have directly targeted Ukrainian civilians with their brutality.Among the horrors are summary executions and raping of civilians, as well as the indiscriminate bombing of residential areas and hospitals. Ukraine and the West have vowed to prosecute any alleged war crimes.  The soldier's wife is heard in the phone call saying, "the rapes and everything happened there in Ukraine was done by the Russians," but explains that some people say the Russians aren't capable of such a thing. "They are capable of anything," the soldier replied. Translations by Nikita Angarski.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJul 1st, 2022

A separatist fighter reportedly told his wife that Russian troops are war criminals and used a slur to call them morons

In a purported phone call between a Russian-backed separatist and his wife, the fighter describes chaos and war crimes among Russian soldiers. Russian soldiers walks along a street in Mariupol on April 12, 2022.Photo by ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP via Getty Images) A Russian-backed separatist fighter reportedly trashed Putin's troops in a call with his wife.  Ukraine's military intelligence released on Thursday what it said was a phone call between the two.  Russian troops have been accused of war crimes and other atrocities since the war's early days. A Russian-backed separatist fighter reportedly told his wife that President Vladimir Putin's troops are war criminals and used a slur for disabled people to call them imbeciles. Ukraine's military intelligence uploaded a video to YouTube on Thursday of what it alleged was a phone conversation between a soldier from the Moscow-backed and self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic and his wife. During the phone call, the soldier describes disorganization and chaos among the Russian soldiers, using a slur to call Putin's forces morons and comparing soldier infighting to those who mutinied during World War I. "Like during the war on Potemkin, in the night, they had support come in to help them, and they started firing on themselves, Russians firing on Russians, destroying themselves," he says. The separatist also purportedly blasts Russian military generals for not understanding the situation on the ground."In short, they fucked us for everything," the fighter reportedly says.The separatist fighter also complains that Russian forces aren't allowing them to rotate off the front lines. "I just want them to get us out of here," he said, adding that he thinks the Russians aren't allowing soldiers off the front lines because they're afraid they'll desert and never return."Nobody is going home, because they won't fucking come back," he said. "And mostly, they are right, because even the guy from the 33rd regiment said, 'this is a one-way ticket, I will leave and not come back.' "Russian troops have been accused by Ukrainian officials and Western states of committing war crimes and other atrocities against civilians since the war's early days. Throughout the four-month-long conflict, civilians, journalists, and officials have documented and reported instances where Russian troops have directly targeted Ukrainian civilians with their brutality.Among the horrors are summary executions and raping of civilians, as well as the indiscriminate bombing of residential areas and hospitals. Ukraine and the West have vowed to prosecute any alleged war crimes.  The soldier's wife is heard in the phone call saying, "the rapes and everything happened there in Ukraine was done by the Russians," but explains that some people say the Russians aren't capable of such a thing. "They are capable of anything," the soldier replies. Translations by Nikita Angarski.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJul 1st, 2022

3 Broadcast Radio & TV Stocks to Watch in a Prospering Industry

Radio and television broadcast companies, Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD), Fox Corporation (FOXA), and Gray Television (GTN) are benefiting from higher content consumption and increased digital viewing despite intensifying competition for ad dollars. The Zacks Broadcast Radio and Television industry has been benefiting from rising demand for streaming content amid an increasing rate of cord-cutting. Industry participants like Warner Bros. Discovery WBD, Fox Corporation FOXA and Gray Television GTN are benefiting from a huge spike in digital content consumption. Diversified content offerings, which are original, regional, short and suitable for small screens (smartphones and tablets), improved Internet speed and penetration, and technological advancement are benefiting the industry participants. As monetization and revenues in terms of ad-spend continue to be subdued, profit protection and cash management with greater technology integration have gained strategic significance and are expected to aid these companies in driving the top line in the near term.Industry DescriptionThe Zacks Broadcast Radio and Television industry comprises companies offering entertainment, sports, news, non-fiction and musical content over television, radio and digital media platforms. These companies majorly derive revenues from the sale of television and radio programs, advertising slots as well as subscriptions. Notably, these industry players are increasing their spending on research and development as well as sales & marketing in order to stay afloat in an era of technological advancements with increased demand for VR and Internet Radio among audiences. The industry is likely to remain focused on sustenance at current levels along with a renewed emphasis on flexibility, which would accelerate the move to a variable cost model and reduce fixed costs.4 Broadcast Radio and Television Industry Trends to Watch Out ForShift in Consumer Preference a Key Catalyst: To adapt to the changes in the industry, companies are coming up with varied content for over-the-top (OTT) services in addition to linear TV. Additionally, they are adding OTT services to their content portfolios. The availability of streaming services on a wide range of platforms is helping such services easily reach a global audience. It is also helping them to expand their international user base, which in turn, attracts advertisers to their platforms, thereby boosting ad revenues. Moreover, the use of services to help advertisers measure their ROI and enhance their use cases is expected to benefit advertisers and industry participants. Also, major leagues and events such as NFL, NHL, Olympics, European Games, EPL and elections attract significant ad dollars. The recent resumption of live sports events after delays and cancellations over the past year is expected to boost advertiser demand.Increased Digital Viewing Aids Content Demand: Many industry participants who are either launching their own OTT services or acquiring other OTT services are banking on user insights to deliver the right content. Increased digital viewing is making consumer data easily available to companies, thereby allowing them to apply AI and machine-learning techniques to create/procure targeted content. The move not only boosts user engagement but also lets industry participants raise the prices of their services at an appropriate time without the fear of losing subscribers.Coronavirus Hurts Production and Ad Demand: Industry participants are bearing the brunt of coronavirus-induced macroeconomic woes. Advertising is a major source of revenues for this industry, which has been badly hit by the coronavirus. Recovering yet low ad demand and reduced spending are expected to hurt the top line in the near term. Moreover, the industry players are facing stiff competition from tech and social media companies for ad dollars. This has been a major impediment to growth.Low-Priced Skinny Bundles Hurt Revenues: Increase in cord-cutting has forced industry participants to offer “skinny bundles.” These services, which are available through the Internet, often contain fewer channels than a traditional subscription and therefore are cheaper. The move is in line with changing consumer viewing dynamics as growth in Internet penetration and advancements in mobile, video and wireless technologies have boosted small-screen viewing. The alternative services are expected to keep users glued to their platforms, thereby increasing the need to produce more content. However, the low-priced skinny bundles are likely to dampen top-line growth.Zacks Industry Rank Indicates Bright ProspectsThe Zacks Broadcast Radio and Television industry is housed within the broader Zacks Consumer Discretionary sector. It carries a Zacks Industry Rank #92, which places it in the top 37% of more than 250 Zacks industries.The group’s Zacks Industry Rank, which is basically the average of the Zacks Rank of all the member stocks, indicates encouraging near-term prospects. Our research shows that the top 50% of the Zacks-ranked industries outperforms the bottom 50% by a factor of more than 2 to 1.The industry’s position in the top 50% of the Zacks-ranked industries is a result of a positive earnings outlook for the constituent companies in aggregate. Looking at the aggregate earnings estimate revisions, it appears that analysts are optimistic on this group’s earnings growth potential.Before we present a few stocks that you may want to consider for your portfolio, let’s take a look at the industry’s recent stock-market performance and valuation picture.Industry Lags Sector and S&P 500The Zacks Broadcast Radio and Television industry has underperformed the broader Zacks Consumer Discretionary sector and the S&P 500 Index over the past year.The industry has declined 57.8% over this period compared with the S&P 500’s decline of 12.8% and the broader sector’s decline of 42.4%.One Year Price PerformanceIndustry's Current ValuationOn the basis of trailing 12-month EV/EBITDA (Enterprise Value/ Earnings before Interest Tax Depreciation and Amortization), which is a commonly used multiple for valuing Broadcast Radio and Television stocks, the industry is currently trading at 16.52X versus the S&P 500’s 12.19X and the sector’s 9.17X.Over the past five years, the industry has traded as high as 41.9X and as low as 16.13X, recording a median of 30.23X, as the chart below shows.EV/EBITDA Ratio (TTM)3 Broadcast Radio and Television Stocks to WatchGray Television: Headquartered in Atlanta, GA, this Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) company’s local stations are quite popular among political ad buyers. Notably, post the Raycom acquisition, Gray reached almost 36% of the U.S. population in 113 markets, operating more than 150 Big Four affiliated stations. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here. In the first quarter of 2022, the company’s core advertising revenues increased 40% year over year and retransmission consent revenues increased 59% year over year. The company has also been witnessing a big surge in political advertising revenues, which increased 189% year over year in the first quarter.The Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2022 earnings has remained steady at $5.27 per share over the past 60 days. Grey Television’s shares are down 16.2% year to date.Price and Consensus: GTNFox: This New York-based company is riding on the growing demand for live programming. The robust adoption of Fox News and Fox Business Network (FBN) is expected to drive the user base in the near term. This Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) company generates a major portion of advertising revenues from live programming, which is relatively immune to the rapidly intensifying competition from subscription-based video-on-demand services.Moreover, recovering ad spending in the local advertising market, affected by the coronavirus outbreak, is a major positive for Fox. Also, increasing affiliate-fee revenues are expected to drive Fox’s top line.The Zacks Consensus Estimate for Fox’s fiscal 2022 earnings has declined 0.7% to $2.81 per share over the past 60 days. The stock is down 12.9% year to date. Price and Consensus: FOXAWarner Bros. Discovery: This Zacks Rank #3 company’s expanding direct-to-consumer offerings are driving top-line growth.Expanding sports coverage based on partnerships with the likes of PGA TOUR, Tiger Woods and Olympics is a major growth driver for Discovery. Further, recovery in advertising spending, primarily in the international markets, is a major positive.Markedly, the stock has declined 43% year to date. Notably, the Zacks Consensus Estimate for its 2022 earnings has remained steady at $1.51 per share over the past 30 days.Price and Consensus: DISCA Zacks Names "Single Best Pick to Double" From thousands of stocks, 5 Zacks experts each have chosen their favorite to skyrocket +100% or more in months to come. From those 5, Director of Research Sheraz Mian hand-picks one to have the most explosive upside of all. It’s a little-known chemical company that’s up 65% over last year, yet still dirt cheap. With unrelenting demand, soaring 2022 earnings estimates, and $1.5 billion for repurchasing shares, retail investors could jump in at any time. This company could rival or surpass other recent Zacks’ Stocks Set to Double like Boston Beer Company which shot up +143.0% in little more than 9 months and NVIDIA which boomed +175.9% in one year.Free: See Our Top Stock and 4 Runners Up >>Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report Warner Bros. Discovery, Inc. (WBD): Free Stock Analysis Report Fox Corporation (FOXA): Free Stock Analysis Report Gray Television, Inc. (GTN): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksJul 1st, 2022

With a new carrier and rumors of more bases, a vision of China"s global presence is getting clearer

Beijing is increasingly looking for facilities to support an overseas presence, and the US is worried about how China will use its growing influence. China's third aircraft carrier, Fujian, is launched at a ceremony in Shanghai, June 17, 2022.Li Gang/Xinhua via AP China unveiled its newest and most advanced aircraft carrier on June 17. As China's navy grows, Beijing is looking for facilities to support an overseas presence. That search for outposts has US worried about how China plans to use its growing influence. China's launch of its new aircraft carrier on June 17 is the latest milestone in the Chinese navy's rapid expansion and modernization, and it comes on the heels of new developments in China's pursuit of foreign bases.The Chinese military's growth and Beijing's increasing interest in an overseas presence illustrate China's growing power and influence and have stoked US warnings about Beijing intentions in the Pacific and around the world.The carrier, Fujian, is the third China has added in the past decade but the first completely designed and built domestically. Fujian is also the first to have a flat deck and electromagnetically powered catapults, like those on the US newest aircraft carrier, allowing it to launch aircraft with heavier payloads and more fuel and to do so more quickly.While not as advanced as the US's 11 nuclear-powered carriers, the conventionally powered Fujian shows China's navy has pierced the top-tier of fleets by capabilities and size, with roughly 350 warships to the US Navy's 296.A satellite image of China's Type 003 aircraft carrier under construction at a shipyard northeast of Shanghai, May 21, 2022.Planet Labs PBC via APIn the years ahead, the design of China's carriers and the limited experience of their crews will likely keep them in the Western Pacific, where Beijing is focused on Taiwan and its disputes in the East and South China Seas, but Chinese warships already have a global presence.Chinese surface ships have operated "for extended periods well beyond the Western Pacific for years now," Thomas Shugart, an expert on naval warfare at the Center for a New American Security, told Insider.Beijing recently sent its 41st escort task force to the Gulf of Aden, where its has done regular anti-piracy patrols since 2008. Those task forces "consist of 3-4 ships and are usually gone for 3 to 4 months, spending most of that time at sea," Shugart said. Chinese naval task forces have also circumnavigated the globe and sailed to Europe and through the Aleutian Islands."China has made clear that one of its biggest national security priorities over the long-term is to be able to maintain the security of its overseas interests, as well as the security of its global sea lines of communication," Shugart said.Without more overseas air and naval bases than China currently has, those carriers "will be necessary to achieve the required level of sea control to achieve these goals, especially in the face of a potential adversary like the US Navy," Shugart said, but reports over the past two years indicate that Beijing is seeking that additional basing.'They went in big'Chinese troops at the opening ceremony for China's military base in Djibouti, August 1, 2017.STR/AFP via Getty ImagesAs China's reach expands, it is seeking "a more robust" overseas basing and logistical network to allow its military "to project and sustain military power at greater distances," the US Defense Department said in its latest report on China's military.China's only current overseas base was opened in the East African country of Djibouti in 2017. China calls it a logistical support facility and it is near waters where its ships have been conducting anti-piracy patrols.China's Djibouti base is also near a major US facility and US officials are wary of Chinese activity there. Gen. Stephen Townsend, the head of US Africa Command, told lawmakers in 2021 that China had expanded the base "by adding a significant pier that can even support their aircraft carriers in the future."Opening the Djibouti base was "a huge departure from their strategy, [which] formerly had been no military basing abroad," Lyle Goldstein, an expert on the Chinese military at Defense Priorities, told Insider in a December interview."Not only did they go into Djibouti, but they went in big," Goldstein said. "It's a substantial facility. It's not just symbolic."China has focused on the Indian Ocean, seeking investments in ports and other facilities related to maritime commercial activity.Chinese sailors wave while approaching Iran's southeastern port city of Chahbahar, December 27, 2019West Asia News Agency via REUTERSChina receives 40% of its fossil fuels from the Middle East. "As a result of that, they are interested in pursuing close, deep, and economic relationships with nations that adjoin the Strait of Hormuz and the [Persian] Gulf itself so that they can protect that long-term investment," Gen. Kenneth McKenzie told lawmakers this spring."I believe ultimately that will move from economic to a military component," added McKenzie, who was then the head of US Central Command.In early 2021, US intelligence officials reportedly learned that China was secretly building what could have been a military facility in the United Arab Emirates, prompting US efforts to halt the work. In late 2021, US official were again alarmed by intelligence indicating China was pursuing a naval base in Equatorial Guinea. The US again sought to thwart the project, dispatching senior officials to the West African country.While China has focused on economic and diplomatic engagement in Africa, it has "to a lesser degree" worked in the "military domain," Townsend told lawmakers this spring. "Their military investments are playing out in Africa. They have their one overseas base there, and they are working hard to develop other overseas bases there."A base on Africa's Atlantic coast would "put them several thousand miles closer to the US homeland," Townsend said at the time.Cambodian navy personnel at Ream naval base during a government-led media tour, July 26, 2019.TANG CHHIN SOTHY/AFP via Getty ImagesUS officials have also been concerned by years of work at the Ream naval base in Cambodia, where China is funding new construction, including the demolition of US-funded buildings. China and Cambodia broke ground on the base this month, days after a Chinese official told The Washington Post that "a portion of the base" will be used by China's military.Both countries deny that Ream will be for China's exclusive use, but experts say it could support a rotational presence and allow China to project power into the Indian Ocean in a way it couldn't before due to its proximity to passages into the Indian Ocean. The official also told The Post that the Chinese section of the base would host a ground station for China's BeiDou navigation satellite system, which could aid China's efforts to support its military operations and monitor other militaries.In its report on China's military, the US Defense Department said that a global network of military logistics network and military facilities "could both interfere with US military operations and support offensive operations against the United States" as China's "global military objectives evolve."US Air Force Gen. Jacqueline Van Ovost, the head of US Transportation Command, told lawmakers this spring that her command monitors China's "ability to project power around the globe, because that is our operating area.""I am monitoring their investments into ports, and their impact of these investments on our ability to maneuver around the world, their ability to disrupt and degrade our ability to project and sustain a force into the Pacific," Van Ovost said.'What's not fair is also not smart'A Chinese navy ship delivers relief supplies to the South Pacific island of Tonga, February 15, 2022.Yin Zheng/Xinhua via Getty ImagesChina's apparent interest in foreign military facilities comes amid a decades-long expansion of China's overseas interests, chiefly in the Pacific but increasingly throughout the world. An interest in overseas bases is in fitting with those expanding interests, Goldstein told Insider in December."I've had Chinese strategists say to my face, 'We are seeking additional bases. We have that one base in Djibouti and we want more,' and it makes sense," Goldstein said. "China has global interests and they want to have a global Navy."Goldstein noted that China doesn't appear to seek the globe-spanning basing network that the US has had for decades and that Beijing so far has been "cautious" in its use of force. Other experts say the US should keep China's expansion and its implications for the US in perspective."We have a much larger military presence in Southeast Asia than China, and even in recent years we have still engaged in military cooperation with Cambodia," Van Jackson, an international-relations professor at Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand, said on a recent podcast.Smaller countries should be expected to balance between two larger powers, Jackson said, pointing to Thailand and Singapore. "It's not fair to smaller nations to securitize the China part of their hedging strategies, and in Asia, it happens to be that what's not fair is also not smart and not strategic," Jackson said.US Navy destroyer USS Mustin in Singapore alongside Indian, South Korean, and Chinese navy ships, May 20, 2015.US Navy/MCS Seaman David FlewellynOther experts argue that countering China everywhere is beyond the US's means and that Washington should narrow its focus."It's a question of really prioritizing which are the countries and places that have significant strategic importance to the United States, such that if there were a Chinese military facility there we'd be in trouble," one analyst of China's foreign policy, speaking anonymously because of professional commitments, told Insider this spring.US military commanders and other officials say that the US remains the most sought-after partner for many countries and emphasize the need to strengthen those ties in the face of China's expanding influence.Van Ovost, the head of TRANSCOM, said her command was pursuing a whole-of-government effort to "thicken our relationship with allies and partners around the world" and make them more "robust" against threats from China.Townsend told lawmakers this spring that the US is still "the partner of choice, and our equipment and our training is second to none," though the payoff of that engagement "can sometimes take a long time to unfold.""We do not have to compete with China everywhere. We have to be selective about where we compete with China, and I think we are being successful in that targeted competition," Townsend said.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJun 30th, 2022

SNAP Launches Snapchat+ Subscription Service for $3.99/Month

SNAP launches Snapchat+ subscription services to boost plummeting revenue growth. Snap Inc. SNAP is rolling out a $3.99/month subscription plan for Snapchat, the photo messaging app, which unlocks exclusive and pre-release features. It’s called Snapchat+.The Plus plan includes pre-release, experimental and exclusive features, such as pinning your close friend as a BFF (best friend forever) and customizing the app’s icon.The new subscription plan will be launched in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, with more countries to be added soon.Although Snapchat reported strong results in the first quarter, the company issued a weak revenue outlook for the second quarter due to the negative impact of the war in Ukraine.For Snap, Snapchat+ is a major step away from the revenue model dependent mostly on advertising. This is because macroeconomic conditions like supply chain disruptions, labor shortages and inflation are impacting advertising revenues.This Zacks Rank #4 (Sell) company’s shares have fallen 72.7% in the year-to-date period compared with the Zacks Internet-Software industry’s decline of 53.3% and the Zacks Computer and Technology sector’s decrease of 32.3% in the said time frame.Snap Inc. Price and Consensus Snap Inc. price-consensus-chart | Snap Inc. QuoteIntroducing Features to Boost User EngagementSnap has been gaining momentum and user engagement among the youth, which have been helping it expand its subscriber base of over 332 million. The company is focused on introducing several features to retain existing users and attract new ones to its platform.Snap has added a number of features, including the Tab feature on Friends and Discover to make its Snapchat platform more attractive to users and advertisers.Recently, Snapchat announced the launch of an accelerator program for Black creators, which will see Snap provide ongoing financial support, training and more to 25 emerging stars over the next year.The program is part of Snap’s 523 initiative, which provides support to small content companies and creators from underrepresented groups. Snapchat also has its Yellow program targeted toward entrepreneurs, who are building businesses, brands, and products that can contribute to human progress, and in combination, the company now has a range of initiatives designed to help those from less privileged backgrounds gain traction and build a career via the app.Earlier this year, Snap rolled out a feature that enabled users to share Alphabet GOOGL owned, YouTube video links via the Snapchat Camera platform.With the integration of this feature, Snapchatters can directly access the video within the Alphabet’s YouTube app or any other mobile browser, with just a tap on the YouTube stickers available on the Snapchat app.Meta Platforms’ META Instagram is also testing the same subscription plans but for creators only as of now. Instagram expects that with subscriptions, creators will be able to develop deeper connections with their most engaged followers and grow their recurring monthly income by giving subscribers access to exclusive content and benefits.Last year, Twitter TWTR announced the Blue subscription that offers ad-free access to other websites for $2.99 a month.You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here. Zacks Names "Single Best Pick to Double" From thousands of stocks, 5 Zacks experts each have chosen their favorite to skyrocket +100% or more in months to come. From those 5, Director of Research Sheraz Mian hand-picks one to have the most explosive upside of all. It’s a little-known chemical company that’s up 65% over last year, yet still dirt cheap. With unrelenting demand, soaring 2022 earnings estimates, and $1.5 billion for repurchasing shares, retail investors could jump in at any time. This company could rival or surpass other recent Zacks’ Stocks Set to Double like Boston Beer Company which shot up +143.0% in little more than 9 months and NVIDIA which boomed +175.9% in one year.Free: See Our Top Stock and 4 Runners Up >>Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report Twitter, Inc. (TWTR): Free Stock Analysis Report Alphabet Inc. (GOOGL): Free Stock Analysis Report Snap Inc. (SNAP): Free Stock Analysis Report Meta Platforms, Inc. (META): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksJun 30th, 2022

More and more people are using deepfakes to apply for remote tech jobs, FBI says

The FBI said people seem to target remote tech roles that would grant them access to companies' sensitive data. The FBI said on Tuesday that more people were using deepfake videos during job interviews. In this image, a person views a deepfake video on January 25, 2019, manipulated with artificial intelligence to potentially deceive viewers.Alexandra Robinson/AFP via Getty Images People are using deepfake technology to pose as someone else in job interviews, the FBI said. They seem to focus on IT roles that would grant them access to sensitive data, the agency said. Anti-deepfake technologies are still not foolproof, but there are simple ways to detect deepfakes. More and more people are using deepfake technology to pose as someone else in interviews for remote jobs, the FBI said on Tuesday.In its public announcement, the FBI said it has received an uptick in complaints about people superimposing videos, images, or audio recordings of another person onto themselves during live job interviews. The complaints were tied to remote tech roles that would have granted successful candidates access to sensitive data, including "customer PII (Personally Identifiable Information), financial data, corporate IT databases and/or proprietary information," the agency said.Deepfake videos could be used for entertaining purposes, but they could also be extremely harmful. In March, Meta said it removed a deepfake video that claimed to show Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy demanding Ukrainian forces to lay down their arms amid Russia's invasion.Equally concerning is the harm that private individuals could face from being targeted by deepfakes, as in the cases highlighted by the FBI on Tuesday. "The use of the technology to harass or harm private individuals who do not command public attention and cannot command resources necessary to refute falsehoods should be concerning," the Department of Home Security warned in a 2019 report about deepfake technology. Fraudulent applicants for tech jobs are nothing new. In a November 2020 LinkedIn post, one recruiter wrote that some candidates hire external help to assist them during the interviews in real time, and that the trend seems to have gotten worse during the pandemic. In May, recruiters found that North Korean scammers were posing as American job interviewees for crypto and Web3 startups.What's new in the FBI's Tuesday announcement is the use of AI-powered deepfake technology to help people get hired. The FBI did not say how many incidents it has recorded.Anti-deepfake technologies are far from perfectIn 2020, the number of known online deepfake videos reached 145,227, nine times more than a year earlier, according to a 2020 report by Sentinel, an Estonian threat-intelligence agency.Technologies and processes that weed out deepfake videos are far from foolproof. A report from Sensity, a threat-intelligence company based in Amsterdam, found that 86% of the time, anti-deepfake technologies accepted deepfakes videos as real.However, there are some telltale signs of deepfakes, including abnormal blinking, an unnaturally soft focus around skin or hair, and unusual lighting.In its announcement, the FBI also offered a tip for spotting voice deepfake technology. "In these interviews, the actions and lip movement of the person seen interviewed on-camera do not completely coordinate with the audio of the person speaking. At times, actions such as coughing, sneezing, or other auditory actions are not aligned with what is presented visually," the agency wrote.The FBI said people or companies who have identified deepfake attempts should report it the cases to its complaint website.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJun 29th, 2022

Here are all the people who sought preemptive pardons from Donald Trump after the Capitol riot, per January 6 committee witnesses

The January 6 House panel has said that at least nine people close to Trump requested preemptive pardons following the Capitol attack. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., joined from left by Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, and Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., speaks at a news conference on Dec. 7, 2021.J. Scott Applewhite/AP At least nine people close to Donald Trump reportedly requested preemptive pardons following Jan. 6. Former Trump aides named six GOP lawmakers while testifying before the Jan. 6 panel this month. A former aide also said Mark Meadows and Rudy Giuliani asked the then-president for pardons. At least six Republican members of Congress requested preemptive pardons from former President Donald Trump in the wake of the Capitol insurrection, according to testimony from former Trump aides last Thursday.The House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, riot has hosted six public hearings so far revealing their findings, which also included public damning testimony from former staffers in the Trump administration.GOP Reps. Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene were among the six GOP lawmakers also asked Trump to pardon them for their efforts in trying to overturn the 2020 election.During a surprise hearing on Tuesday, June 28, Cassidy Hutchinson, a former White House aide, also testified that former Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani and former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows were among those who asked the former president for a preemptive pardon after the pro-Trump mob descended upon the Capitol on January 6, 2021.Hutchinson also previously testified that former Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio had discussed pardons with the White House but never asked for one.On Sunday, Jordan responded to his mention during the hearing, accusing the January 6 House panel of "misrepresenting" a video clip of him saying "the ultimate date of significance is Jan. 6 in a presidential election in determining the winner.""This committee, I think the country understands, is purely partisan," Jordan said. "And they're frankly not paying much attention to what's being said."Here are all of the people who sought a pardon from Trump following the Capitol riot, per testimony: Former White House Chief of Staff Mark MeadowsFormer White House chief of staff Mark Meadows.AP Photo/Andrew HarnikHutchinson, who served as a top aide to then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows at the time of the insurrection, testified on Tuesday that her former boss asked the president for a preemptive pardon in the wake of the Capitol siege.Rudy GiulianiFormer New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.Spencer Platt/Getty ImagesIn the surprise public hearing on Tuesday, Hutchinson also alleged that Giuliani asked Trump for a pardon over the January 6 attack. Media outlets previously reported that Giuliani had also requested a preemptive pardon ahead of the siege in December 2020 related to a criminal probe into whether the former New York City mayor violated foreign lobbying laws through his business dealings in Ukraine.Giuliani did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment. Rep. Andy Biggs of ArizonaRep. Andy Biggs.US House of RepresentativesFormer White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson testified in a previous video deposition that Republican Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona was among six GOP lawmakers who requested a pardon from Trump for any connection to the January 6 Capitol attack. The select committee in May requested that Biggs testify about any communications he'd had with Trump, Trump administration officials, and Stop the Steal rally organizers regarding efforts to overturn the 2020 election results. The lawmaker refused to cooperate with the probe and accused the committee of engaging in a "baseless witch hunt."Following Hutchinson's public allegation that he sought a presidential pardon for January 6, Biggs denied the accusation in a Twitter statement and said the former aide was "mistaken" in her testimony. He accused the panel of "deceptively" editing Hutchinson's words to "make it appear as if I personally asked her" for the pardon.Rep. Mo Brooks of AlabamaRep. Mo Brooks of Alabama.AP Photo/Vasha HuntIn the days following the insurrection, Republican Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama requested a blanket pardon not only for himself, but for all 146 GOP members of Congress who objected to the certification of President Joe Biden's 2020 win, per the January 6 committee.In an email to Molly Michaels, Trump's former White House executive assistant, Brooks asked for "all purpose pardons" for the lawmakers. The January 6 panel earlier this month shared an image of the email with a subject line reading "Pardons."In the correspondence, Brooks specifically said he was writing on behalf of Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz, as well.In a statement to Insider last week, Brooks confirmed the legitimacy of the email and said he had made the request because there was "concern" that Democrats would prosecute and jail Republicans following January 6."Fortunately, with time passage, more rational forces took over and no one was persecuted for performing their lawful duties, which means a pardon was unnecessary after all," he said.Rep. Matt Gaetz of FloridaRepublican Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida at the White House on May 8, 2020.Anna Moneymaker-Pool/Getty ImagesFormer Trump aides also named Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida as one of the lawmakers who sought a preemptive pardon related to the Capitol siege and efforts to challenge the 2020 presidential election.Former White House lawyer Eric Herschmann said Gaetz's pardon request covered "from the beginning of time up until today, for any and all things," asking for a pardon similar to the one received by President Richard Nixon following the Watergate scandal. Former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson also testified that Gaetz's requests for a pardon dated back as early as December 2020 — weeks before a mob of Trump supporters laid siege to the US Capitol. Following the aides' testimony, Gaetz did not deny having asked for a pardon. Instead, he attacked the select committee as "an unconstitutional political sideshow" in a Twitter statement.Rep. Louie Gohmert of TexasU.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, listens during a news conference at the Capitol Building on December 07, 2021 in Washington, DC.Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty ImagesAfter former Trump aides testified last Thursday that Gohmert sought a pardon from Trump, the Texas lawmaker denied doing so and accused the January 6 committee of spreading "propaganda.""I have never sought a pardon for myself and anybody who says otherwise is a liar and possibly a lot worse," Gohmert tweeted last Friday.Ahead of the Capitol riot in January 2021, GOP Rep. Louie Gohmert attempted to overturn the 2020 election by filing a suit maintaining that former Vice President Mike Pence, not US voters, had the power to decide the presidency.Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of GeorgiaRep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Republican from GeorgiaTom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty ImagesCassidy Hutchinson, the former White House aide, testified that she heard that Greene had asked for a pardon from the White House Counsel's Office following the Capitol riot.In response, Greene tweeted a clip of Hutchinson's testimony, writing "Saying 'I heard' means you don't know.""Spreading gossip and lies is exactly what the January 6th Witch Hunt Committee is all about," she wrote in the tweet.Greene, a staunch Trump ally, has been vocal about disputed claims of voter fraud in the 2020 election, though in July 2021 she was among those who rejected the conspiracy theory that Trump will be reinstated as president in August.Rep. Scott Perry of PennsylvaniaRepublican Rep. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania outside the Capitol on December 3, 2020.Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call/Getty ImagesGOP Rep. Liz Cheney, who serves on the January 6 House panel, said during a hearing that Perry had requested a pardon for his role in seeking to overturn the 2020 presidential election.Perry, along with several other Republican lawmakers, has refused to testify before the committee.According to the January 6 committee, the Pennsylvania Republican played a significant role in the then-president's efforts to stay in power by introducing Trump to sympathetic DOJ official Jeffrey Clark and pushing then-Chief of Staff Mark Meadows to set in motion a plan to keep Trump in power. In response, to the allegation, Perry tweeted: "The notion that I ever sought a Presidential pardon for myself or other Members of Congress is an absolute, shameless, and soulless lie."Lawyer John EastmanJohn Eastman testifies before the House Ways and Means Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, June 4, 2013.Charles Dharapak/APConservative lawyer John Eastman, who pushed a plan to overturn the 2020 election results, asked Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani to put him on a pardon list following the insurrection, the House Select Committee revealed earlier this month."I've decided I should be on the pardon list, if that is still in the works," Eastman wrote in an email to Giuliani. The committee read the email out loud during a June 16 hearing. When Eastman was deposed by the committee, he ultimately pleaded the Fifth Amendment 100 times, the panel said. Eastman did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJun 28th, 2022