AuthorTopic: Knarf's Knewz Channel  (Read 808949 times)

Offline Eddie

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Around 2012, something started going wrong in the lives of teens.

In just the five years between 2010 and 2015, the number of U.S. teens who felt useless and joyless – classic symptoms of depression – surged 33 percent in large national surveys. Teen suicide attempts increased 23 percent. Even more troubling, the number of 13- to 18-year-olds who committed suicide jumped 31 percent.

In a new paper published in Clinical Psychological Science, my colleagues and I found that the increases in depression, suicide attempts and suicide appeared among teens from every background – more privileged and less privileged, across all races and ethnicities and in every region of the country. All told, our analysis found that the generation of teens I call “iGen” – those born after 1995 – is much more likely to experience mental health issues than their millennial predecessors.

What happened so that so many more teens, in such a short period of time, would feel depressed, attempt suicide and commit suicide? After scouring several large surveys of teens for clues, I found that all of the possibilities traced back to a major change in teens’ lives: the sudden ascendance of the smartphone.
All signs point to the screen

Because the years between 2010 to 2015 were a period of steady economic growth and falling unemployment, it’s unlikely that economic malaise was a factor. Income inequality was (and still is) an issue, but it didn’t suddenly appear in the early 2010s: This gap between the rich and poor had been widening for decades. We found that the time teens spent on homework barely budged between 2010 and 2015, effectively ruling out academic pressure as a cause.

However, according to the Pew Research Center, smartphone ownership crossed the 50 percent threshold in late 2012 – right when teen depression and suicide began to increase. By 2015, 73 percent of teens had access to a smartphone.

Not only did smartphone use and depression increase in tandem, but time spent online was linked to mental health issues across two different data sets. We found that teens who spent five or more hours a day online were 71 percent more likely than those who spent only one hour a day to have at least one suicide risk factor (depression, thinking about suicide, making a suicide plan or attempting suicide). Overall, suicide risk factors rose significantly after two or more hours a day of time online.

Of course, it’s possible that instead of time online causing depression, depression causes more time online. But three other studies show that is unlikely (at least, when viewed through social media use).

Two followed people over time, with both studies finding that spending more time on social media led to unhappiness, while unhappiness did not lead to more social media use. A third randomly assigned participants to give up Facebook for a week versus continuing their usual use. Those who avoided Facebook reported feeling less depressed at the end of the week.

The argument that depression might cause people to spend more time online doesn’t also explain why depression increased so suddenly after 2012. Under that scenario, more teens became depressed for an unknown reason and then started buying smartphones, which doesn’t seem too logical.
What’s lost when we’re plugged in

Even if online time doesn’t directly harm mental health, it could still adversely affect it in indirect ways, especially if time online crowds out time for other activities.

For example, while conducting research for my book on iGen, I found that teens now spend much less time interacting with their friends in person. Interacting with people face to face is one of the deepest wellsprings of human happiness; without it, our moods start to suffer and depression often follows. Feeling socially isolated is also one of the major risk factors for suicide. We found that teens who spent more time than average online and less time than average with friends in person were the most likely to be depressed. Since 2012, that’s what has occurred en masse: Teens have spent less time on activities known to benefit mental health (in-person social interaction) and more time on activities that may harm it (time online).

Teens are also sleeping less, and teens who spend more time on their phones are more likely to not be getting enough sleep. Not sleeping enough is a major risk factor for depression, so if smartphones are causing less sleep, that alone could explain why depression and suicide increased so suddenly.

Depression and suicide have many causes: Genetic predisposition, family environments, bullying and trauma can all play a role. Some teens would experience mental health problems no matter what era they lived in.

But some vulnerable teens who would otherwise not have had mental health issues may have slipped into depression due to too much screen time, not enough face-to-face social interaction, inadequate sleep or a combination of all three.

It might be argued that it’s too soon to recommend less screen time, given that the research isn’t completely definitive. However, the downside to limiting screen time – say, to two hours a day or less – is minimal. In contrast, the downside to doing nothing – given the possible consequences of depression and suicide – seems, to me, quite high.

It’s not too early to think about limiting screen time; let’s hope it’s not too late.

https://theconversation.com/with-teen-mental-health-deteriorating-over-five-years-theres-a-likely-culprit-86996

I know. Let's make a consumer product that combines a smart phone with a handgun. We could call it the iGlock.





Already done. I just can't keep up anymore. 

(Okay, this one only LOOKS like a cellphone, but it's only one more small step to make it BE one too.)

http://www.thefirearmblog.com/blog/2016/03/11/ideal-conceal-380-cell-phone-handgun/
« Last Edit: November 22, 2017, 09:24:40 AM by Eddie »
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Offline Eddie

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The statue depicts Dominican brother St Martin de Porres.

An Adelaide Catholic school has covered up a statue of a religious icon after it created a stir on social media because of its apparently unintended suggestiveness.

The statue was recently installed at Blackfriars Priory School in Prospect and depicts a 16th century saint handing a bread loaf to a child's outstretched hand.

But, as numerous online commentators have pointed out, the effect is somewhat different.

In the past 12 years, at least two former Blackfriars teachers — Stephen John Stockdale-Hall and Ronald William Hopkins — have been jailed for sexually abusing students at the school.

Today, the school said the design of its new statue looked fine on paper but acknowledged it could be interpreted in a more sinister way.

"The two-dimensional concept plans for the statue were viewed and approved by the [school's] executive team in May but upon arrival the three-dimensional statue was deemed by the executive to be potentially suggestive," principal Simon Cobiac said in a statement.

"As a consequence, the statue was immediately covered and a local sculptor has been commissioned to redesign it."

Mr Cobiac said the embarrassing artwork was created in Vietnam by a sculptor who had done other work for the school.

"The sculpture is a famous depiction of the tireless work of St Martin de Porres, a Dominican brother, for the poor and downtrodden of the 16th century," he said.

    "The school apologises for any concerns and publicity generated by this matter and is taking action to substantially alter the statue."

Social media users were stunned no-one had spotted the inappropriate overtones.

"Did nobody look at the design first?" one person tweeted.

Satirist Ben Pobjie said he was "just glad Blackfriars school noticed how suggestive the statue was before they turned the water feature on".

The school recently made headlines because of a hoax letter by one of its students distributed to thousands of others claiming the Year 12 biology exam would have to be re-sat.

http://mobile.abc.net.au/news/2017-11-22/statue-of-saint-and-child-creates-stir/9180724

Satirist Ben Pobjie said he was "just glad Blackfriars school noticed how suggestive the statue was before they turned the water feature on".

Made me blow coffee out my nose.
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Offline Eddie

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Re: FCC announces vote to destroy net neutrality next month
« Reply #9197 on: November 22, 2017, 09:39:20 AM »
The Federal Communications Commission will vote to put an end to its net neutrality rules next month, commission chairman Ajit Pai said today. The proposal will reverse the Title II classification of internet providers, which allows the agency to put strict limits on their behavior, and replace it with the old “information service” classification, which a federal court has ruled is less comprehensive, weakening any protections that might replace those currently in force.

That is, if the agency even wanted to replace them: it sounds like this proposal will leave the internet without any sort of net neutrality protections. The full text of the order — a final revision of the the proposal that received 22 million comments over the summer — will be released tomorrow. For now, we only have a summary from Pai.

“Under my proposal, the federal government will stop micromanaging the internet,” Pai said in a statement emailed to reporters. “Instead, the FCC would simply require internet service providers to be transparent about their practices so that consumers can buy the service plan that’s best for them and entrepreneurs and other small businesses can have the technical information they need to innovate.”

The FCC’s goal is to set up the Federal Trade Commission to handle all anti-competitive disputes, and the idea is that if ISPs violate their stated policies, the FTC will be able to take action.

This is a puzzling plan and one that the FCC has to be well aware will not offer any legitimate consumer protections. Companies’ terms of service and related policies aren’t meant to protect consumers, they’re meant to protect companies — and they can change at a moment’s notice. While it’s entirely possible that a company could violate its own policies and get in trouble with the FTC, a company could also just promise open internet protections until it doesn’t feel like following them any more, rewrite its policies, and then implement new and potentially discriminatory practices.

And while this all might work out if American consumers had several internet providers to choose from at home, so that they could switch away from a bad provider and over to one that values an open internet, that’s far from the case. Less than a quarter of the country has two or more home internet providers that offer basic broadband speeds — so if you don’t like what your provider is doing, you’re stuck.
"“[This proposal] throttles access, stalls opportunity, and censors content.”"

Republicans have argued that the FTC is the expert agency on anti-competitive practices and ought to be in charge here, but that obfuscates what’s really happening. The FTC is a single agency tasked with protecting consumers across a wide range of industries — it simply doesn’t have the focus of the FCC to narrow in on just internet providers. Nor does the FTC have the ability to proactively set tough rules. The FTC can only establish guidelines, which gives internet providers a lot more leeway to experiment with practices that work to their own advantage.

In reality, the FCC is trying and will likely succeed in giving internet providers the leeway to try whatever policies they want over their own networks. Pai’s argument has been that by giving internet providers this flexibility, they’ll be able to make money in new ways, which they could then pour back into building out their network. The theory is that they could then bring service to areas that wouldn’t be profitable enough to reach today. Since the agency wants to get more and more Americans connected, that could be considered a win — though the service may look different than what we receive today in some very important ways.

Net neutrality supporters are already fearing the worst based on what Pai has announced. Democratic FCC commissioner Mignon Clyburn said the rules (or lack thereof) “would dismantle net neutrality as we know it by giving the green light to our nation’s largest broadband providers to engage in anti-consumer practices, including blocking, slowing down traffic, and paid prioritization of online applications and services.” And fellow Democratic commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel described the same fears, saying this proposal “hands broadband providers the power to decide what voices to amplify, which sites we can visit, what connections we can make, and what communities we create. It throttles access, stalls opportunity, and censors content.”

The Internet Association, a trade group that represents web 40-some web companies including Google and Facebook, pointed to lack of ISP options as a critical flaw in the plan. “Consumers have little choice in their ISP,” the organization said, “and service providers should not be allowed to use this gatekeeper position at the point of connection to discriminate against websites and apps.” And ACLU policy analyst Jay Stanley issued a similar warning, saying, “Gutting net neutrality will have a devastating effect on free speech online. Without it, gateway corporations like Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T will have too much power to mess with the free flow of information.”

The rules go up for a vote next month, on December 14th, when they’re almost certain to pass. The FCC is majority Republican right now, and Republicans have been calling for the end of net neutrality ever since the policy was first put in place. There’s also no reason for Pai to put the measure up for a vote unless he knows it’s going to pass.

After the vote, it’ll take a month or so before the new policies appear in the Federal Register and go into place, overwriting the only net neutrality rules. That doesn’t mean everything will be all over, though: there’s certain to be a court battle — or two, or three — to follow. Net neutrality advocates will take the commission to court, likely claiming that it failed to find enough evidence to warrant overturning a decision made just two years earlier. Advocates may also say the commission ignored process, having made up its mind from the start and ignoring millions of comments from the American public in support of net neutrality.

Supporters of net neutrality have long argued that the rules are necessary to protect consumers’ from price gouging and protect small companies from anti-competitive behavior. Paid fast lanes could allow wealthy companies to pay for better service, giving them an edge over upstarts (say, YouTube vs. a brand new streaming service). A lack of discrimination rules could let internet providers like Comcast and AT&T advantage their own content — like NBC and HBO — over others’, by making it stream faster or not count toward data caps. And an absence of no blocking rules means that internet providers could stop apps that compete with their own from reaching consumers.

https://www.theverge.com/2017/11/21/16680290/fcc-end-net-neutrality-vote-announced

Since Trump was elected, it's "Money Talks and Bullshit Walks".

No more environmental protections, no more level playing field on the internet. Everything is for sale. 
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Offline knarf

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Resort to open Friday after historic snowfall
« Reply #9198 on: November 22, 2017, 02:50:14 PM »

Jackson Hole Mountain Resort groomers carve a traverse under a heavy layer of new snow. The resort will open a few lifts Friday, and the gondolas and two more lifts are scheduled to open Saturday.

After historic early season snowfall, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort is pushing up its opening day.

On Friday, skiers and snowboarders will be able to access the Teton, Apres Vous and Teewinot lifts a day earlier than scheduled. The Bridger and Sweetwater gondolas, and Casper and Marmot lifts, are scheduled to open the following day.

Resort spokeswoman Anna Cole said the early push came to fruition because of the work of the resort’s operations staff and cooperation from Mother Nature.

“The tools were all in place to open up,” she said. “It’s the conditions that allowed it to happen.”

Weather station data available via the Bridger-Teton Avalanche Center reported 53 inches of snow in Rendezvous Bowl, 45 inches at the Raymer plot and 36 inches at midmountain. Over 100 inches of snow have fallen in the upper elevations, with a storm front moving in Monday night expected to drop up to 11 inches at the higher elevations.

Resort business development director Bill Lewkowitz said the amount of snow on the upper mountain is incredible.

“I did comparisons looking at other resorts, and no one has snow like us,” he said. “For the most part in the U.S., we’ve been very, very lucky.”

Cole said that in her tenure at the resort, which spans almost a decade, this is the second-largest amount of terrain that is planned to be skiable on opening weekend.

The early opening announcement also came with news of the resort being ranked the No. 1 ski resort in North America by Forbes Magazine for the seventh year in a row.

In addition to the skiing during opening weekend, other resort offerings are also available. The Aerial Tram will be spinning for scenic rides from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday and Saturday; Cafe 6,311 and the General Store will be open Friday; and Casper Restaurant and Off-Piste will open Saturday. Hoback Sports, Teton Village Sports and Jackson Hole Sports plan to have holiday gear specials and rentals.

There is no date set for the tram to open for skiing, but Cole said to expect more terrain to open by next week. And while there may be record-breaking early season snow, early season conditions do exist, she said.

http://www.jhnewsandguide.com/sports/features/resort-to-open-friday-after-historic-snowfall/article_32bc2551-3b13-5896-bc13-4ce077018296.html
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Offline knarf

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Type of alcohol determines whether you become merry or maudlin – study
« Reply #9199 on: November 22, 2017, 02:55:42 PM »
Spirits are associated with confidence and red wine is linked to relaxation – and researchers hope findings will help people consider alcohol’s emotional effects

While indulging in booze can inspire cheerful merrymaking in some, for others it can lead to a tearful journey to the bottom of the glass. Now researchers say the emotions people feel when drinking could be linked to their tipple of choice.

An international survey has revealed that spirits are often associated with feelings of energy, confidence and sexiness – but on the flip-side anger and tearfulness – while red wine is the drink most commonly linked to relaxation, but also tiredness.

While the researchers say the reasons for the links are likely to be complex, they hope the study will urge individuals to think carefully about the alcohol they consume.
Drink and be merry: why alcohol makes us feel good, then doesn’t
Read more

“From a public health perspective a lot of the time we have focused on issues around cancer, heart disease and liver disease – but an important aspect is the balance of emotional outcomes that people are getting from alcohol,” said Mark Bellis, co-author of the research from Public Health Wales NHS Trust.

The study, published in the journal BMJ Open, is based on an anonymous online questionnaire that was completed by individuals aged between 18 and 34 who had drunk alcohol in the previous year. Part of an international survey on alcohol and drug use, the questions probed the type of alcohol drunk and associated emotions, and were asked in 11 different languages, with participants taking part from 21 countries around the world.

The results, based on answers from almost 30,000 participants who had reported consuming both red and white wine as well as beer and spirits in the past year, reveal that certain types of alcoholic drink appear to be linked to particular emotions.

Almost 53% of participants said drinking red wine made them feel relaxed – an emotion that was also linked to beer by nearly 50% of participants, and white wine by nearly 33%. By contrast, spirits were linked to feelings of confidence by just over 59% of participants, energy by more than 58% and sexiness by just over 42%.

However, spirits were also more likely to be linked to negative feelings including tearfulness, with almost 48% of participants linking such tipples to feeling ill and nearly 30% to aggression. Meanwhile, more than 60% of participants said they linked red wine to feeling tired. White wine was the tipple least often linked to tearfulness, with only 10% saying they associated it with becoming weepy.

“By and large spirits are having a stronger relationship in pretty well all of the outcomes – apart from those associated with red wine, around relaxation and tiredness,” said Bellis.

Further analysis, taking into account age and other factors, revealed that women were generally more likely to report feeling the various emotions on drinking alcohol, with men more likely to report feelings of aggression.

The proportion of participants reporting the various emotions, both positive and negative, generally increased with overall heaviness of drinking. Further differences were found for the various drinks when participants’ age, educational background and sex were considered.

Drinking was found more likely to be linked to feelings of relaxation and tiredness when done at home; confidence, sexiness, energy – and feeling ill or aggressive – were more likely when out.

However, the study had limitations, not least that it drew on a self-selecting group of participants, meaning it might have appealed to those more likely to take drugs and drink. It also did not take into account how much participants drank on any one occasion or whether they mixed drinks, and relied on participants thinking back to how they felt at the time.

What’s more, it is not clear whether the alcohol itself triggered the emotions, or whether the social situation also played a role, while the concentration of the alcohol, presence of other ingredients, and people’s expectations of the drinks could also be important factors.

Matt Field, professor of psychology at the University of Liverpool who was not involved in the research, said that the study was valuable, and agreed with the authors that it would be interesting to explore whether they way in which different drinks are advertised might affect the emotions people link to them.

But, he said, it was far from clear that spirits were more likely than other alcoholic drinks to make people aggressive.

“Because it is a cross-sectional snapshot there are a lot of things that might explain it,” he said. “It could be that people who are more prone to aggression after alcohol might favour spirits for reasons that we don’t know.”

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/nov/22/type-of-alcohol-determines-whether-you-become-merry-or-maudlin-study
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Offline knarf

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What a Disgrace
« Reply #9200 on: November 22, 2017, 03:03:42 PM »
This week might have been the low point in an administration full of them.

 I don’t know why, but this week seems to have been the low point of what is not yet a full year of having the Pennywise of rodeo clowns in the highest office in the land. For reasons we’ll try to enumerate in a moment, this week has brought into sharp relief the consequences of the Russia-ratfcked, utterly racialized, hock-a-loogie decision that 63 million of our dimmer fellow citizens made to hand the presidency over to Donald Trump because they’d been fed indigestible fried crud by their favorite radio and television stars for the past three decades. When I hear Jeff Flake moaning that he doesn’t want the Republican Party to become “the party of Donald Trump and Roy Moore,” I am compelled to point out that the Republican Party has been the party of Donald Trump and Roy Moore for 30 years. It’s just been waiting for Donald Trump and Roy Moore to come along. It is to laugh, and then it is to weep.

The obvious nadir came on Tuesday, when the president* stopped on the way to his helicopter to essentially argue that it is better to put an accused child molester into the Senate than it is to elect a Democrat. From The New York Times:

    “We don’t need a liberal person in there, a Democrat, Jones,” Mr. Trump said. “I’ve looked at his record. It’s terrible on crime. It’s terrible on the border. It’s terrible on the military.” The president suggested that the passage of time, and the fact that Mr. Moore’s accusers did not come forward earlier, should call into question the accusations. And he noted that Mr. Moore has been elected repeatedly by voters in Alabama. “I do have to say, 40 years is a long time,” Mr. Trump said as he left for a five-day Thanksgiving vacation at his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Fla. “He’s run eight races, and this has never come up. So 40 years is a long time.”

What a sewer this man is.

Of course, there is his ridiculous ongoing Twitter feud with Lavar Ball, a feud that scraped the bottom of the barrel on Wednesday with the president tweeting “IT WAS ME!” at the elder Ball, who is quite a piece of work in his own right. It is safe to speculate that this little exercise in petulance and rage is at least in part an attempt to deflect attention from the fact that Robert Mueller’s footsteps are ringing louder and louder in the corridors of the White House. But still, a president* of the United States calling the father of a basketball player “a poor man’s Don King”?

What a festering landfill this man is.

Then, I came across this little tidbit in The Hill, which, for me, anyway, sent this week into depths beyond which no light can pierce.

    Mark Leach, who manages the Shenandoah stores for Delaware North, said NPS and park managers had no role in the wine purchase decisions. He said they simply encourage him to buy local products. The Trump winery is located about 30 miles from Shenandoah. “Primarily, we try to buy from Virginia,” he said. “They ask that we carry regional products as much as possible.” Leach said he hasn’t bought Trump wine since the summer. “We sold it throughout much of 2016 and we did a purchase of the rose back in May or June, primarily because the distributor we purchase from had some,” Leach said. NPS spokesman Jeremy Barnum stressed that it was Delaware North that decided to sell the wine, not the park.

Yes, I’m sure that the name on the label absolutely had nothing to do with the decision by Delaware North to peddle the president*’s brand at a gift shop on land that belongs to all of us. There is a virulent and very contagious strain of corruption that infected every part of the public sphere when this president* was inaugurated.

What a reeking, lifeless wasteland this man is.

Not that it matters. The Republican Party will live with him just as it will live with the concept of Senator Roy Moore (R-Food Court) if it has to do so. The Republican Party is the corrupt vehicle of corrupt interests and has been for so long that the party and the interests are no longer distinguishable from each other. A whopping percentage of Americans are opposed to the tax plan that the Senate is about to pass. On Wednesday, Senator Lisa Murkowski, briefly an independent voice against the shredding of the Affordable Care Act, announced that she would support a tax plan that did away with the individual mandate, which effectively would shred the Affordable Care Act. She’s also very high on drilling for oil in ANWR. The only real problem that the Republicans have with the president* is that his corruption is too obvious, too garish. It scares the donor class. It makes the good crystal rattle.

    The only real problem that the Republicans have with the president* is that his corruption is too obvious, too garish.

Never in my lifetime have the politics of the country seemed so removed from the people of the country. Never in my lifetime have the people of the country seemed so removed from its politics. Never in my lifetime have political decisions seemed so removed from their consequences. An election driven by fear and hate and abandoned wrath has produced dangerous chasms into which the entire system may one day fall, and nobody appears to have any idea what to do about it. Adam Serwer’s brilliant piece in The Atlantic is as good an explanation as any about what happened last November, and what may happen as a result.

    It was not just Trump’s supporters who were in denial about what they were voting for, but Americans across the political spectrum, who, as had been the case with those who had backed David Duke, searched desperately for any alternative explanation—outsourcing, anti-Washington anger, economic anxiety—to the one staring them in the face. The frequent post-election media expeditions to Trump country to see whether the fever has broken, or whether Trump’s most ardent supporters have changed their minds, are a direct outgrowth of this mistake. These supporters will not change their minds, because this is what they always wanted: a president who embodies the rage they feel toward those they hate and fear, while reassuring them that that rage is nothing to be ashamed of.

You cannot run a democracy on that basis. You perhaps cannot even run a nation, at least not one that doesn't devolve steadily into savagery. These were not unavoidable choices. We made them in the clear light of day. What a poisoned country we have left ourselves.

http://www.esquire.com/news-politics/politics/a13859971/trump-lavar-ball/
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Offline knarf

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Web of secret money hides one mega-donor funding conservative court
« Reply #9201 on: November 22, 2017, 03:07:09 PM »
WASHINGTON

When a small nonprofit called the Judicial Crisis Network poured millions into a campaign to stop the Senate from confirming Barack Obama’s Supreme Court pick last year, and then spent millions more supporting President Donald Trump’s choice for the same seat, political observers assumed conservatives from around the country were showering the group with donations.

Not so.

Newly obtained tax documents show that JCN’s money came almost entirely from yet another secretive nonprofit, the Wellspring Committee, which flooded JCN with nearly $23.5 million in 2016.

Most of Wellspring’s funds, in turn, came from a single mysterious donor who gave the organization almost $28.5 million — nearly 90 percent of its $32.2 million in revenues.

Like JCN, Wellspring — at one time tied to the donor network spearheaded by conservative industrialists Charles and David Koch — is a nonprofit that is supposed to be dedicated to social welfare functions and doesn’t have to disclose the names of its benefactors. Since the 2010 Citizens United Supreme Court decision loosened certain constraints on political spending, these and other 501(c)(4) groups have become increasingly politically active while providing anonymity to their donors. Often one group, like Wellspring, will act as a conduit, giving most of its funds to other, similar groups with political agendas.

"It sounds like Wellspring Committee acted as a dark money conduit to provide an extra layer of secrecy to whomever was bankrolling the Judicial Crisis Network ads," Brendan Fischer of the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center in Washington said in an email interview. "This has the effect of layering secrecy on top of secrecy, and almost entirely insulating donors from any form of public accountability."

But, Fischer added, "Even though the public doesn’t know who is really behind the tens of millions spent, there is nothing stopping these secret donors from making their identities known to the beneficiaries of that spending."

Illinois Policy Action was another organization that benefited from Wellspring’s grants in 2016, receiving $2.5 million; it’s the lobbying arm of the Illinois Policy Institute, a conservative Chicago think tank in Chicago that has ties to the state’s billionaire governor, Republican Bruce Rauner, according to the Chicago Tribune. In 2016, the institute released a documentary critical of Rauner’s political opponent, Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan, a Democrat.

The American Future Fund, another former Koch “dark money” nonprofit, pulled in $2 million from Wellspring last year. It spent more than $12.7 million in 2016 federal elections without disclosing its donors.

Early in the Republican presidential primaries, AFF appeared to be supporting Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) through attacks on his GOP opponents, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Donald Trump.

When the group ran ads highlighting lawsuits against Trump University, the Republican frontrunner tweeted “Phony Rubio commercial. I could have settled, but won't out of principle!” Trump did eventually settle the lawsuit for $25 million after becoming president.

Wellspring also paid out $750,000 to a firm called BH Group LLC, not as a grant but for “public relations” services.

The corporation is nearly untraceable beyond an address for a “virtual office” in Arlington, Va. A representative of the company that manages the space, Regus, said that the BH Group has no physical presence and that all its mail is forwarded to another address. The representative would not provide a forwarding address or any names of individuals affiliated with BH Group “for security reasons.”

BH Group LLC’s only other appearance in the public record? On the list of Trump inaugural donors: It gave $1 million to help pay for the festivities. Virginia incorporation records show the LLC wasn’t formed until the end of August 2016. That means Wellspring’s payment to it was made between then and the end of the year — right around when the Trump inaugural committee was doing the bulk of its fundraising.

As for the Judicial Crisis Network, when Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch was sworn in last April, the group’s chief counsel was there, snapping pictures in the White House Rose Garden.

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/crime/article185832013.html
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Offline knarf

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Net neutrality supporters plan nationwide protests on December 7
« Reply #9202 on: November 22, 2017, 03:09:43 PM »
One site has enabled 180,000 calls to Congress in a single day.


 Net neutrality supporters march past the FCC headquarters before a commission meeting on May 15, 2014

The Obama administration's network neutrality rules are in danger, and the activists who helped get those regulations enacted aren't giving up without a fight. They're planning a series of protests nationwide to pressure the Federal Communications Commission to reject Chairman Ajit Pai's plan to roll back network neutrality protections.

The protests will be held outside Verizon stores on December 7, a week before an expected December 14 vote on Pai's proposal. They chose Verizon because Verizon has been a leading opponent of the net neutrality rules and because Pai worked as Verizon's associate general counsel from 2001 to 2003.

"The company has been spending millions on lobbying and lawsuits to kill net neutrality so they can gouge us all for more money," the protest organizers write. "We’re calling on our lawmakers to do their job overseeing the FCC and speak out against Ajit Pai’s plan to gut Title II net neutrality protections."

Reddit has emerged as a hub for protests in support of network neutrality. On Tuesday evening, almost every article on Reddit's home page focused on the net neutrality debate, with many pointing to the Battle for the Net activist site that is organizing calls to their members of Congress. As we write this on Wednesday morning, more than 180,000 people had made calls through the site today alone.

https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2017/11/net-neutrality-supporters-plan-nationwide-protests-on-december-7/
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Offline knarf

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It's Your Civic Duty to Ruin Thanksgiving by Bringing Up Trump
« Reply #9203 on: November 22, 2017, 03:13:37 PM »
This Turkey Day, consider making life HELL for a few of your relatives.

It’s late-November 2017, and you know what that means: Every man you’ve ever seen on TV for any reason has just been unmasked as a woman-hating sewer ghoul. Also, it’s time to ruin your Trump-supporting family’s Thanksgiving—for America!

Thanksgiving is a celebration of community and gratitude, where we reconvene in our nostalgia-drenched hometowns and perform time-honored traditions such as almost sleeping with your high school crush and going around the table to say what you’re most thankful for and where you were on 9/11. Last year’s Thanksgiving was a difficult time for most Americans—roughly 65.8 million of us. The election was still a fresh wound. Trump had begun assembling his Dr. Caligari cabinet of White House monsters, each one a direct fuck-you to some beloved ideal. There was the EPA chief who doesn’t believe in climate change, the labor secretary who opposed minimum wage increases, the flagrantly Islamophobic National Security Adviser who might just be a foreign agent, and at the helm of it all, a man who speaks almost exclusively in racist dog whistles and “locker room talk.” Thanksgiving was a cathartic vent sesh for liberals with like-minded families, and a painful twist of the knife for those without.

I was lucky, kind of. Both my family and my wife’s family were Hillary supporters. But we spent Thanksgiving 2016 at my parents’ house in Asheville, North Carolina—a city which, despite its Portlandia-esque sensibilities, was nestled in deep red territory. Walking around downtown, I saw more sentient MAGA hats in a few hours than I had in three long post-election weeks in New York. Right away, my dad informed me that some Trump supporter friends would be joining our Thanksgiving dinner. He assured me he’d politely asked them not to talk politics, and encouraged me to follow suit. I spent Thanksgiving dinner trying to guess which guests were the ones who voted for Trump, like the most embarrassing Agatha Christie mystery of all time. This armistice dinner went surprisingly smoothly, thanks to the politics ban and enough whiskey to ride out a prohibition crisis. It helped that these people were not my family. Whatever qualms I had with them outside of this holodeck simulation of a normal dinner would never come to a head, since we had no reason to be in regular contact. Also, Trump had not actually taken office yet.

Last year, Trump supporters could still make a case for impending change. Perhaps Donald would go through a molting phase, shedding his most intolerant and unstable parts like clumps of dead lizard skin. Instead, if anything, his reptilian hide got doused in nuclear waste and he has since Godzilla’d all over America’s purple mountain majesties. Anyone hoping for peace last Thanksgiving was rewarded with constant chaos, “very fine” Nazis marching in the streets, and a flame war with North Korea unfolding entirely over Twitter, which may or may not end in Armageddon.

This year, if you’re headed home to a household that still thinks a sex-offending game show host in rapid cognitive decline was the best choice for a president, it is your civic duty to filibuster Thanksgiving.

Trump has spent the entire year performing one long, clumsy touchdown dance atop the wreckage of America’s former norms and values. He turned the presidency into a haberdashery. He made nepotism a core hiring strategy. He attacked a civil rights leader during Martin Luther King Day. He politicized a Boy Scout jamboree. Any parents still riding the Trump Train at this point have thereby signaled that nothing is sacred. It is time to follow their example. They can’t stand idly by while President Deals tramples every other American tradition and yet somehow expect that Thanksgiving will be normal too. If every other moment of this year is going to be drastically out of whack, nobody should get to pretend that everything is normal for one meal just because that’s what the pilgrims would have done.

Here are a few suggestions for how to ruin Thanksgiving, arranged by ascending order of righteous fury:

Don’t show up. For some parents, your absence will speak louder than any sodden arguments over the density of pumpkin pie. If you can’t even look them in the eye, they’ll know you mean business. Besides, Friendsgiving rules.

Show up and be kind of an asshole. No hugs; only stiff, formal handshakes. During the football game, talk about police brutality nonstop. Take any opportunity to emphasize just how much Bruce Springsteen and the entire E Street band loathes Trump. Come out as an aspiring professional DJ.

Scorched Earth. Not even a handshake; just stare, disgustedly, at their outstretched arms. Build a wall out of mashed potatoes. During the football game, order 10 Papa John’s pizzas—the official foodstuff of the alt right—and use them as pie charts to demonstrate who benefits most from the GOP tax plan. Refuse to be alone in a room with your mom, citing the Mike Pence rule. Call your parents by a Donald Trump nickname of your choosing—perhaps Little Rocket Mom or Liddle’ Dad. Insist on setting a place for Robert Mueller, the way Jews do for Elijah on Passover. Wear a coal miner hat for solidarity. Punch a cornucopia right in the mouth.

Of course, this is about more than just spite—as satisfying as spite can be in these trying times. This is about potentially chipping away at the ~35 percent of un-budging Trump supporters. Sure, some of them are fully on board with every inexplicable decision, but others may be swayable. They are Fox News devotees who have simply internalized the message that all negative news about Trump is fake news. They know the president is unpopular, but they think his unpopularity is the strict province of haters and losers. It might be different when it’s their own child—who probably isn’t an Antifa supersoldier and who definitely doesn’t have loser genes—weighing in with cold hard facts. Having a son or daughter loathe everything you’ve become is easier long distance; it’s another thing when that kid is staring turkey-carving daggers at you from across the table.

If your family is unmoved after a ruined Thanksgiving, though, that’s fine too. After all, next year’s Thanksgiving falls just after the 2018 midterms, and if your true believer parents still feel the way they do now, you might ruin their holiday in another way.

https://www.gq.com/story/the-case-for-ruining-thanksgiving
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Offline knarf

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 Russian President Vladimir Putin says that all major Russian companies, both state-owned and private, must be ready for a rapid transition to war-time operations, adding that the capability is crucial to national security.

According to the Kremlin press service, the Russian president made the statement on Wednesday at a conference with senior defense ministry officials and top managers of major defense companies.

“I would like to note that the ability of any economy to rapidly increase the output of defense products and services when it is needed is one of the most important conditions of the nation’s military security. All strategic and… large enterprises must be ready for this,” Putin stated.

The Russian leader added that he and senior defense officials already discussed the issue in 2015 and 2016, and asked those attending the meeting to report which problems of the previous years had been dealt with and which had not.

The conference concerned the results of the Zapad 2017 military exercises held by the Russian and Belarusian military forces in September. Russia sent around 3,000 troops to neighboring Belarus, where they trained at six locations, along with 7,000 soldiers and officers from the host nation. Russia accepted Belarusian troops at three of its own military sites.

Fewer than 13,000 troops took part in the exercise in total, according to figures from the defense ministries of Russia and Belarus. Around 70 aircraft, 680 armored vehicles, including 250 tanks, 200 artillery guns, and 10 warships, were deployed by the two nations.

https://www.rt.com/politics/410646-putin-orders-all-russian-companies/
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Offline knarf

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Activist Pete Bethune stabbed in Brazil
« Reply #9205 on: November 22, 2017, 03:27:02 PM »
Conservationist Pete Bethune has been stabbed in the chest after being attacked by two men in Santander, Brazil.



Mr Bethune, the captain of Earthrace Conservation and former Sea Shepherd captain, is in a stable condition and has been discharged from hospital.

Larisa Kellett, director of operations for the initiative, said he had been trying to hire a boat in the local seaside town in the morning, local time, when he was approached by two men.

She said the men initially tried to slit his throat with a "long rusty knife".

They then lunged at him again and stabbed him in the chest, she said. He also suffered lacerations to other parts of his body.

"Life is so cheap in those places. He said earlier that it felt like someone was watching him but it could have been a random robbery," Ms Kellett said.

"Nurses told him that they thought his ribs stopped his lung from being punctured.

Ms Kellett said he was robbed of his cellphone, but he managed a getaway on a motorbike to his hotel in Macapa where he patched himself up.

He then took himself to Macapa Hospital where his wound was cleaned to prevent and infection, and was stitched up before being discharged.

Ms Kellet said he was "laying low in a motel room" until the Earthrace team could get him on flights back to New Zealand.

Local police are investigating the incident.

Mr Bethune has been working with the Earthrace team in the Amazon for several months on conservation issues, such as illegal logging and the illegal pet trade.

https://www.radionz.co.nz/news/world/344485/activist-pete-bethune-stabbed-in-brazil
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Offline Eddie

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Re: It's Your Civic Duty to Ruin Thanksgiving by Bringing Up Trump
« Reply #9206 on: November 22, 2017, 03:33:17 PM »
This Turkey Day, consider making life HELL for a few of your relatives.

It’s late-November 2017, and you know what that means: Every man you’ve ever seen on TV for any reason has just been unmasked as a woman-hating sewer ghoul. Also, it’s time to ruin your Trump-supporting family’s Thanksgiving—for America!

Thanksgiving is a celebration of community and gratitude, where we reconvene in our nostalgia-drenched hometowns and perform time-honored traditions such as almost sleeping with your high school crush and going around the table to say what you’re most thankful for and where you were on 9/11. Last year’s Thanksgiving was a difficult time for most Americans—roughly 65.8 million of us. The election was still a fresh wound. Trump had begun assembling his Dr. Caligari cabinet of White House monsters, each one a direct fuck-you to some beloved ideal. There was the EPA chief who doesn’t believe in climate change, the labor secretary who opposed minimum wage increases, the flagrantly Islamophobic National Security Adviser who might just be a foreign agent, and at the helm of it all, a man who speaks almost exclusively in racist dog whistles and “locker room talk.” Thanksgiving was a cathartic vent sesh for liberals with like-minded families, and a painful twist of the knife for those without.

I was lucky, kind of. Both my family and my wife’s family were Hillary supporters. But we spent Thanksgiving 2016 at my parents’ house in Asheville, North Carolina—a city which, despite its Portlandia-esque sensibilities, was nestled in deep red territory. Walking around downtown, I saw more sentient MAGA hats in a few hours than I had in three long post-election weeks in New York. Right away, my dad informed me that some Trump supporter friends would be joining our Thanksgiving dinner. He assured me he’d politely asked them not to talk politics, and encouraged me to follow suit. I spent Thanksgiving dinner trying to guess which guests were the ones who voted for Trump, like the most embarrassing Agatha Christie mystery of all time. This armistice dinner went surprisingly smoothly, thanks to the politics ban and enough whiskey to ride out a prohibition crisis. It helped that these people were not my family. Whatever qualms I had with them outside of this holodeck simulation of a normal dinner would never come to a head, since we had no reason to be in regular contact. Also, Trump had not actually taken office yet.

Last year, Trump supporters could still make a case for impending change. Perhaps Donald would go through a molting phase, shedding his most intolerant and unstable parts like clumps of dead lizard skin. Instead, if anything, his reptilian hide got doused in nuclear waste and he has since Godzilla’d all over America’s purple mountain majesties. Anyone hoping for peace last Thanksgiving was rewarded with constant chaos, “very fine” Nazis marching in the streets, and a flame war with North Korea unfolding entirely over Twitter, which may or may not end in Armageddon.

This year, if you’re headed home to a household that still thinks a sex-offending game show host in rapid cognitive decline was the best choice for a president, it is your civic duty to filibuster Thanksgiving.

Trump has spent the entire year performing one long, clumsy touchdown dance atop the wreckage of America’s former norms and values. He turned the presidency into a haberdashery. He made nepotism a core hiring strategy. He attacked a civil rights leader during Martin Luther King Day. He politicized a Boy Scout jamboree. Any parents still riding the Trump Train at this point have thereby signaled that nothing is sacred. It is time to follow their example. They can’t stand idly by while President Deals tramples every other American tradition and yet somehow expect that Thanksgiving will be normal too. If every other moment of this year is going to be drastically out of whack, nobody should get to pretend that everything is normal for one meal just because that’s what the pilgrims would have done.

Here are a few suggestions for how to ruin Thanksgiving, arranged by ascending order of righteous fury:

Don’t show up. For some parents, your absence will speak louder than any sodden arguments over the density of pumpkin pie. If you can’t even look them in the eye, they’ll know you mean business. Besides, Friendsgiving rules.

Show up and be kind of an asshole. No hugs; only stiff, formal handshakes. During the football game, talk about police brutality nonstop. Take any opportunity to emphasize just how much Bruce Springsteen and the entire E Street band loathes Trump. Come out as an aspiring professional DJ.

Scorched Earth. Not even a handshake; just stare, disgustedly, at their outstretched arms. Build a wall out of mashed potatoes. During the football game, order 10 Papa John’s pizzas—the official foodstuff of the alt right—and use them as pie charts to demonstrate who benefits most from the GOP tax plan. Refuse to be alone in a room with your mom, citing the Mike Pence rule. Call your parents by a Donald Trump nickname of your choosing—perhaps Little Rocket Mom or Liddle’ Dad. Insist on setting a place for Robert Mueller, the way Jews do for Elijah on Passover. Wear a coal miner hat for solidarity. Punch a cornucopia right in the mouth.

Of course, this is about more than just spite—as satisfying as spite can be in these trying times. This is about potentially chipping away at the ~35 percent of un-budging Trump supporters. Sure, some of them are fully on board with every inexplicable decision, but others may be swayable. They are Fox News devotees who have simply internalized the message that all negative news about Trump is fake news. They know the president is unpopular, but they think his unpopularity is the strict province of haters and losers. It might be different when it’s their own child—who probably isn’t an Antifa supersoldier and who definitely doesn’t have loser genes—weighing in with cold hard facts. Having a son or daughter loathe everything you’ve become is easier long distance; it’s another thing when that kid is staring turkey-carving daggers at you from across the table.

If your family is unmoved after a ruined Thanksgiving, though, that’s fine too. After all, next year’s Thanksgiving falls just after the 2018 midterms, and if your true believer parents still feel the way they do now, you might ruin their holiday in another way.

https://www.gq.com/story/the-case-for-ruining-thanksgiving

No Trump lovers at all in my family, as far as I know. I wouldn't be surprised to hear some serious Trump bashing around the TG table this year anyway.  Hard not to. Everything he's done and said is either stupid, warlike, or  damaging to the environment.

Trump is the poster boy for accelerating collapse. Quick, loot the Treasury before the last bit of blood is sucked from the taxpayers' veins.
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Offline Surly1

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Re: It's Your Civic Duty to Ruin Thanksgiving by Bringing Up Trump
« Reply #9207 on: November 22, 2017, 04:35:31 PM »
Trump is the poster boy for accelerating collapse. Quick, loot the Treasury before the last bit of blood is sucked from the taxpayers' veins.

Great article.

Eddie, exactly so.Look at the events, the effort and the timing, and it makes me thing we're getting close.
"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

Offline Surly1

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Re: Mnangagwa to be sworn in as president on Friday
« Reply #9208 on: November 22, 2017, 05:07:49 PM »

Mnangagwa is due in Harare later on Wednesday

Former Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa will be sworn in as president on Friday, according to Zimbabwe's state broadcaster.

//
Shortly after being sacked, the former vice president fled the country claiming that he and his family had been threatened by Mugabe.

The former president's wife, Grace Mugabe, called Mnangagwa a "coup plotter" and a "coward" in a speech shortly after his sacking.

That incident was also said to have ruffled feathers within Zimbabwe's ruling establishment.

Mnangagwa, like Mugabe, is a veteran of the struggle for independence from Britain. He is considered by the military to be an appropriate replacement for the former president, who at 93 was Africa's oldest leader.

Grace Mugabe's ambitions for the presidency were fiercely opposed by the armed forces, who warned that they would not allow someone who had not fought in the independence war to take helm of the country.

Despite their relationship taking a sharp turn in recent months, Mnangagwa and Mugabe had once been strong allies, even sharing a cell during their imprisonment.

Mnangagwa had been a member of Mugabe's cabinet since the country's independence and vice president since 2014.

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/11/mnangagwa-sworn-president-friday-171122093626988.html

Oh, good. Wouldn't want to interrupt the flow of platinum and diamonds out of Zimbabwe into South Africa (and hence to New York and London and Tel Aviv).

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. Thought of you when I read about "the Crocodile."
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Offline Eddie

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Re: Web of secret money hides one mega-donor funding conservative court
« Reply #9209 on: November 22, 2017, 09:27:08 PM »
WASHINGTON

When a small nonprofit called the Judicial Crisis Network poured millions into a campaign to stop the Senate from confirming Barack Obama’s Supreme Court pick last year, and then spent millions more supporting President Donald Trump’s choice for the same seat, political observers assumed conservatives from around the country were showering the group with donations.

Not so.

Newly obtained tax documents show that JCN’s money came almost entirely from yet another secretive nonprofit, the Wellspring Committee, which flooded JCN with nearly $23.5 million in 2016.

Most of Wellspring’s funds, in turn, came from a single mysterious donor who gave the organization almost $28.5 million — nearly 90 percent of its $32.2 million in revenues.

Like JCN, Wellspring — at one time tied to the donor network spearheaded by conservative industrialists Charles and David Koch — is a nonprofit that is supposed to be dedicated to social welfare functions and doesn’t have to disclose the names of its benefactors. Since the 2010 Citizens United Supreme Court decision loosened certain constraints on political spending, these and other 501(c)(4) groups have become increasingly politically active while providing anonymity to their donors. Often one group, like Wellspring, will act as a conduit, giving most of its funds to other, similar groups with political agendas.

"It sounds like Wellspring Committee acted as a dark money conduit to provide an extra layer of secrecy to whomever was bankrolling the Judicial Crisis Network ads," Brendan Fischer of the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center in Washington said in an email interview. "This has the effect of layering secrecy on top of secrecy, and almost entirely insulating donors from any form of public accountability."

But, Fischer added, "Even though the public doesn’t know who is really behind the tens of millions spent, there is nothing stopping these secret donors from making their identities known to the beneficiaries of that spending."

Illinois Policy Action was another organization that benefited from Wellspring’s grants in 2016, receiving $2.5 million; it’s the lobbying arm of the Illinois Policy Institute, a conservative Chicago think tank in Chicago that has ties to the state’s billionaire governor, Republican Bruce Rauner, according to the Chicago Tribune. In 2016, the institute released a documentary critical of Rauner’s political opponent, Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan, a Democrat.

The American Future Fund, another former Koch “dark money” nonprofit, pulled in $2 million from Wellspring last year. It spent more than $12.7 million in 2016 federal elections without disclosing its donors.

Early in the Republican presidential primaries, AFF appeared to be supporting Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) through attacks on his GOP opponents, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Donald Trump.

When the group ran ads highlighting lawsuits against Trump University, the Republican frontrunner tweeted “Phony Rubio commercial. I could have settled, but won't out of principle!” Trump did eventually settle the lawsuit for $25 million after becoming president.

Wellspring also paid out $750,000 to a firm called BH Group LLC, not as a grant but for “public relations” services.

The corporation is nearly untraceable beyond an address for a “virtual office” in Arlington, Va. A representative of the company that manages the space, Regus, said that the BH Group has no physical presence and that all its mail is forwarded to another address. The representative would not provide a forwarding address or any names of individuals affiliated with BH Group “for security reasons.”

BH Group LLC’s only other appearance in the public record? On the list of Trump inaugural donors: It gave $1 million to help pay for the festivities. Virginia incorporation records show the LLC wasn’t formed until the end of August 2016. That means Wellspring’s payment to it was made between then and the end of the year — right around when the Trump inaugural committee was doing the bulk of its fundraising.

As for the Judicial Crisis Network, when Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch was sworn in last April, the group’s chief counsel was there, snapping pictures in the White House Rose Garden.

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/crime/article185832013.html

This is troubling. If it isn't the Kochs it's a Robert Mercer or somebody like Tim Dunn from Midland, Texas. They're all the same. And it isn't good that their big money is what's shaping morals and politics these days. And this isn't just the usual looting. It's shaping the high court for a generation.
« Last Edit: November 22, 2017, 09:29:57 PM by Eddie »
What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well.