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Knarfs Knewz / The stress of a bad economy is literally killing us
« on: March 13, 2018, 03:55:30 PM »
A new study found that the Great Recession correlated with upticks in blood glucose and blood pressure.

The Great Recession wiped out the real estate holdings and retirement accounts of untold Americans during the late 2000s — and, according to new research, the stress associated with the downturn may have also led to an uptick in endemic heart disease.

In a new paper, published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers at UCLA looked at the blood pressure and glucose of 4,600 U.S. adults during the years spanning 2000 and 2012. When the recession kicked in, the researchers found, both figures, which are also both major contributors to heart disease, spiked.

More striking still, the most dire increases were seen in the groups hit hardest by the recession: adults still in the labor force and older homeowners. It’s long been known that psychological stress can lead to a cross section of physical symptoms, but the UCLA research offers strong evidence that an economic crisis can have specific public health implications.

The link between the health of the economy and the health of the people who participate in it is longstanding and bidirectional: the poor or newly uninsured are less likely to seek out robust medical treatment, but the stress of a crashing economy can also cause ill health among previously healthy people.

When the USSR dissolved and the economy in Russia tanked, for instance, the life expectancy of men in Moscow fell by eight entire years in a phenomenon that experts termed a “mortality crisis.”

Knarfs Knewz / The New C.I.A. Deputy Chief’s Black-Site Past
« on: March 13, 2018, 03:51:11 PM »
From 2003 to 2005, Gina Haspel was a senior official overseeing a top-secret C.I.A. program that subjected dozens of suspected terrorists to savage interrogations, which included depriving them of sleep, squeezing them into coffins, and forcing water down their throats. In 2002, Haspel was among the C.I.A. officers present at the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah, an Al Qaeda suspect who was tortured so brutally that at one point he appeared to be dead.

On Thursday, the Trump Administration announced that Haspel would become the C.I.A.’s new deputy director.

It appears that the debate about torture in the President’s mind, if there ever was one, is over.

Haspel, a career C.I.A. employee, took part in another of the agency’s darkest moments: the destruction, in 2005, of video tapes of the interrogation of Zubaydah and a second suspect, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, at whose torture she was present, three years before.

Because Haspel’s new job is exempt from congressional confirmation, it’s doubtful she will ever have to publicly answer questions about her role in what amounts to America’s dirty war.

John Sifton, a senior official at Human Rights Watch, said the significance of Haspel’s appointment lies in the fact that she was intimately involved in the secret C.I.A. program known by its initials, R.D.I.—rendition, detention, and interrogation. Through the program, the C.I.A. not only tortured suspects but kidnapped them from various places around the globe and often delivered them to third-party countries that tortured them.

“You are putting a person in a leadership position who was centrally involved in an illegal program,” Sifton told me. President Barack Obama ordered the closure of the secret prisons, or black sites, in 2009.

A former government official, who spoke to me on condition of anonymity, said that the promotion of Haspel amounted to the C.I.A.’s revenge. “The agency is giving the finger to anyone who was ever critical of the program,” the former official said.

Some Democrats in the Senate, like Ron Wyden, of Oregon, have sent letters of protest. It’s noble of the senators to try, but I doubt they will have much effect.

Before President Trump took office, there had been some mystery about how he viewed torture. During the campaign, Trump said repeatedly that he believed—despite all evidence—that torture works. He boasted that he would bring back waterboarding, a hideous practice of nearly drowning captives. After the Second World War, the U.S. government executed Japanese soldiers for crimes including the waterboarding of American prisoners of war.

Then Trump’s choice for Secretary of Defense, James Mattis, told him that torture was ineffective, that with a couple of beers and a pack of cigarettes he could get much further with a suspect. For a time, Trump appeared to come around. But that was a few weeks ago. Trump is endorsing torture once again.

The debate over Haspel’s appointment this week is not the first time her past has come to haunt her. In 2013, John Brennan, then the director of Central Intelligence, named Haspel the acting head of the agency’s clandestine service, which carries out covert operations around the globe. But the job ultimately went to someone else, after Senator Dianne Feinstein, of California, then the senior Democrat on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, called Brennan to protest Haspel’s promotion because of her participation in the R.D.I. program.

In 2002, according to people I spoke to, Haspel was present at a C.I.A. black site in Thailand when Zubaydah and al-Nashiri were being tortured. It’s not clear whether she took part in the interrogations themselves. Abu Zubaydah’s interrogation, which is recounted in the Intelligence Committee’s landmark investigation, was particularly gruesome. According to the report, he was waterboarded eighty-three times; at one point, he became non-responsive, with water bubbling up from his lungs. Doctors had to revive him. During his confinement, Zubaydah lost sight in his left eye.

In 2003, Haspel became the chief of staff to Jose Rodriguez, then the director of the C.I.A.’s Counterterrorism Center. Later, when Rodriguez became the director of operations—that is, of covert operations—Haspel became his chief of staff. In 2005, Haspel was involved in the decision to destroy the videotapes of the interrogations of Zubaydah and al-Nashiri. The decision, which was made with no apparent outside consultation, enraged members of Congress, who are legally obliged to oversee the C.I.A.

Sifton, of Human Rights Watch, said the order to destroy the tapes was made by two people: Rodriguez and Hapsel.

When Obama took office, in 2009, he declared that he would not prosecute anyone involved in the C.I.A.’s interrogation programs, not even senior officers, among whom Haspel was one. At the time, Obama said he wanted to look forward and not back. But the past, as Obama well knows, never goes away. With the prospect of American torture looming again, I wonder if Obama regrets his decision. After all, people like Haspel, quite plausibly, could have gone to prison.

Resulting in what environmentalists called a "victory for everyone who breathes," a federal district court in California on Monday ruled that President Donald Trump's Environmental Protection Agency is violating the law by not implementing crucial smog protection guidelines mandated under the Clean Air Act.

According to Judge Haywood Stirling Gilliam Jr. of the federal District Court for the District of Northern California, EPA chief Scott Pruitt broke the law by not listing areas in the country that are failing to comply with air pollution standards -- a violation of "his nondiscretionary duty under" the federal law -- and gave him until April 30th to list those areas publicly.

While Pruitt submitted designations for areas in the country that were complying with smog guidelines, he has refused to list those areas which were failing to meet minimum standards -- a refusal which resulted in legal action by sixteen state attorneys general and a coalition of environmental groups.

As the San Francisco Chronicle reports:

    The lawsuits, filed against Pruitt and the EPA in December, said that areas suffering from ozone pollution and lacking the required designation include the Bay Area, Central Valley, Los Angeles and New York City area.

    One of the requirements triggered when an area does not meet the ozone standard is a mandate that new factories and power plants must have state-of-the-art pollution controls.

    California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in a statement, "The stakes are high. The smog-reducing requirements at issue will save hundreds of lives and prevent 230,000 asthma attacks among children.

    "We will closely monitor the EPA to make sure it complies with the court's order," Becerra said.

Monday's ruling, said Mary Anne Hitt, director of Sierra Club's Beyond Coal campaign, "is a victory for everyone who breathes, and is clear evidence that Scott Pruitt's frequent attempts to delay and obstruct federal clean air safeguards is against the law. The severity of Pruitt's attempts are a matter of life and death. Delaying the implementation of these life saving smog standards puts the health of thousands of kids at risk."

Mike Pompeo is, of course, a climate science denier and opponent of the Paris climate deal.

President Donald Trump has officially fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and intends to nominate current CIA director Mike Pompeo in his place.

Tillerson was the former CEO of ExxonMobil, which for decades was the number one funder of climate science disinformation until they were surpassed by the Koch brothers starting in 2005. But before Pompeo became CIA Director in 2017, he had for six years been a GOP House member from Kansas — and “the #1 all time recipient of #KOCH Industries $$$,” as the nonprofit research group tweeted at the time.

In just four election cycles, 2010 through 2016, Pompeo received: $335,000 from Koch Industries employees (including $92,000 just from the Koch family); $69,000 from the Koch Industries PAC; $417,175 from Americans for Prosperity (which is the right-wing advocacy group founded by the Koch brothers); plus another $87,532 from “Other outside groups heavily funded by the Kochs.”

That’s over $900,000 to buy one Congressman. No surprise, then, that Pompeo, who was a Tea Party member, is also a major denier of climate science. Pompeo described President Obama’s effort to cut carbon pollution at home (through the Clean Power Plan) and abroad (through the Paris climate deal) as a “perverse fixation on achieving his economically harmful environmental agenda” and as “worshiping a radical environmental agenda.”

He called the Paris Climate Accord a “costly burden” in 2015, adding that “Congress must also do all in our power to fight against this damaging climate change proposal and pursue policies that support American energy, create new jobs, and power our economy.”

In reality, the Paris Climate Accord is hardly radical given that 200 nations unanimously agreed it is vital for preserving a livable climate. Indeed, it remains an incredible deal for America, since it would avert numerous catastrophic climate impacts on this country, while requiring us to merely continue reducing carbon dioxide emissions at the pace we have been in recent years.

During his confirmation hearings for CIA director, Pompeo dodged all questions about climate change, saying “Frankly, as the director of CIA, I would prefer today not to get into the details of the climate debate and science.”

But the State Department plays a direct and key role in climate change — not just in international climate negotiations, but also in international aid and development, including choices about which energy sources developing countries should choose — so, such non-answers given as by Pompeo previously should not fly this time around.

Knarfs Knewz / The Walls Are Closing In on Trump
« on: March 13, 2018, 03:41:10 PM »
Nunes’ ‘investigation’ has shown Washington at its worst. It’s been a pure exercise in protecting Trump, and a low point for the GOP’s reputation as the party of national security.

The Fox News and Trump media enterprise Monday launched into a spasm of complete ecstasy as the House Intelligence Committee declared its investigation of Russian interference in our elections and their contacts with and collaboration with the Trump campaign over, done, solved. In its alternate reality, it’s declaring the CASE CLOSED.

They might not want to get too far over their skis on this one because both the Senate and Bob Mueller are still taking this question seriously, as opposed to the clownish covering of Donald Trump’s ample ass by the Republicans on the House Intel Committee. Its chairman, Devin Nunes, and the committee itself are both hopelessly compromised. Nunes has done everything in his power to cover for the president, his staff, and their Russian contacts, and to elide Vladimir Putin’s stated intent and obvious actions.

When secret agent man Devin Nunes raced to the White House to break a phony story of illegal and inappropriate surveillance from a mysterious “whistleblower,” it turned out the super-secret intel he set his ass on fire to reveal came from… wait for it… the White House itself. Ezra Cohen-Watnick and Michael Ellis, both employees of the White House, provided Nunes with top-secret material outside the approved channels to push one of many of the White House’s endless variations on the “no collusion—no puppet, you’re the puppet” defense.

Nunes released a memo last month that tried and failed to bring the grown-ups’ investigations to a halt, and to change the facts of why Carter Page and Trump campaign officials came under the baleful glare of the FISA court. Spoiler: It wasn’t the intelligence community helping Hillary Clinton. It was Trump’s allies and family ass-deep in contacts, connections, communications, and coordination with Putin’s information-warfare operation. 

To imagine for even one moment that every intelligence agency in this nation is wrong and that Nunes, super-staffer Derek Harvey, and the other partisans are right about Putin and Trump is beyond ludicrous. Harvey, a refugee from the Trump National Security Council purge executed by H.R. McMaster and John Kelly, is now the lead agent in the coverup by Republican members of the House. Nunes, while claiming to have recused himself, has remained deeply involved at all times in the coverup.

House Intelligence is now officially an oxymoron. Nunes’ “investigation” has been an example of Washington at its worst, a pure exercise in protecting Donald Trump, and a low point for the Republican Party’s reputation as the party of national security. The committee refused to interview key players in the drama, failed to seek campaign, government, intelligence-community, and corporate records that would have led to places that Team Trump doesn’t want them to go. 

In fact, this White House has refused to even recognize Putin’s global special warfare operations against us exist, much less to take a stand against them. Trump continues to behave toward Putin like a preacher caught in a whorehouse; cowed, compliant, and terrified of his prospective blackmailer. Putin’s ongoing attempts to divide and influence the American political system aren’t speculation, imagination, or some Soros-driven conspiracy. His anti-American propaganda campaign is still in full swing, and the only upside is he’s not murdering people here quite yet, though if I were Paul Manafort I’d cut the deal and get into witness protection now.

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Two of the three families targeted by package bombs left on Austin doorsteps knew each other and were connected through local activism in the black community, a civic leader said Tuesday, but it was not clear how they might be tied to a third household where a package bomb also exploded.

Investigators have said the three explosions that killed two people and wounded two others could have been hate crimes since all the victims were black or Hispanic. But they also said they have not ruled out any possible motive.

Dixon Mason, a prominent dentist in east Austin, was grandfather of 19-year-old Draylen Mason, who was killed Monday after carrying a package left at his home into the kitchen and opening it. The elder Mason was friends with Fredie Dixon, stepfather of 39-year-old Anthony House, who died in a similar attack in another part of the city on March 6, said Nelson Linder, president of the Austin chapter of the NAACP.

“I don’t believe in coincidences,” Linder said, explaining that he was concerned by the fact that the families were acquainted.

Still unknown, though, is what connection — if any — the two families had to a third household where another package bomb exploded Monday, injuring a 75-year-old Hispanic woman.

Business records indicate that Dixon was a leader of Austin’s African American Cultural Heritage District, or “Six Square,” which the city defines as 6 square miles of east Austin that was originally created as the Negro District by the Austin City Council in 1928. He also was a longtime pastor at Wesley United Methodist Church, one of the city’s oldest historically black churches.

Dixon was quoted in by the Austin American-Statesman in 2015 lamenting how Austin’s population and prosperity were effectively creating economic segregation by raising the cost of living.

“Austin is quickly becoming a city of the privileged and the non-privileged,” Dixon told the newspaper. “Is that the kind of Austin we want?”

Linder said Austin’s minority community is on edge following the bombings.

“Given the fact these people are people of color, that definitely gets people’s attention,” he said. “And they feel vulnerable, and they should based on the nature of the incidents.”

The FBI and other federal officials continue to assist in the investigation. Austin Police Chief Brian Manley told a news conference Tuesday, “We’re not saying terrorism or hate is in play, but we certainly have to consider that.”

Tina Sherrow, a retired agent for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, said the materials to build such bombs are commonly available at hardware stores or online, and that police have been mum on details because the perpetrators may be watching media coverage.

“I don’t look at it as terrorism, but it’s terrorism of a community for sure,” Sherrow said.

The package explosives were not delivered by the U.S. Postal Service or any private carrier but left overnight on doorsteps. Still, Manley urged Austin residents to call 911 if they receive any unwanted packages that look suspicious. Authorities responded to 250-plus calls about parcels without finding any that were explosives.

Investigators collecting evidence continued to come and go, and yellow police tape still marked off the sites of Monday’s two blasts, which occurred about 5 miles apart.

At the site of the March 2 bombing, there were no police, but the door to the red-brick house where the package exploded was still boarded up.

There was nothing obvious linking the three neighborhoods where the bombs exploded, other than all were east of Interstate 35, which divides the city. The east side has historically been more heavily minority and less wealthy than Austin’s west side, although that has changed as gentrification has raised home prices and rents everywhere.

The attacks occurred amid the South By Southwest music festival, which attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors to Austin each March. But the blasts happened far from the main events and concert venues.

 Kitty Hawk, the Silicon Valley startup backed by Page, said it is building and testing "all-electric vertical take-off and landing products" in New Zealand.

It released footage of one of those vehicles in flight, billing it as a cross between the Delorean from "Back to the Future" and "The Jetsons" hovercar.

 Dubbed "Cora," the vehicle can "take off like a helicopter and transition to flying like a plane," Kitty Hawk said in a statement on Monday.

Cora is also self-piloting, can fly faster than 150 kilometers per hour (93 miles per hour) and has a range of 100 kilometers (62 miles), according to the company.

"We are offering a pollution free, emissions free vehicle that flies independently," Fred Reid, head of Kitty Hawk operations in New Zealand, said in a video posted on the company's website.

 Kitty Hawk had previously tested another flying vehicle prototype called the "Flyer" last April. It looked less like a car than a jet ski with wings.

Several other companies, including Uber and Airbus, are also racing to commercialize flying taxis. The vehicles more often look like small planes than flying cars. Like Kitty Hawk's Cora, many rely on drone technology and vertical takeoff and landing, so they don't need a runway.

Airbus' (EADSY) flying car prototype -- the Vahana -- made its maiden flight in Oregon last month. Executives said they hope to have a marketable version of Vahana ready to sell in 2020.

Governor called Aug. 2017 blast at Dar Al-Farooq an act of terrorism.

Three Illinois men are charged with the Aug. 2017 bombing of a Bloomington Islamic center, the U.S. Attorney’s office said Tuesday.

“Although the investigation is ongoing, it is important that the public be made aware that these individuals have been apprehended and are charged federally with the bombing in Bloomington,” said Greg Brooker, U.S. Attorney for the District of Minnesota, said at a Tuesday evening news conference. “That bombing that took place last summer was a tragedy for all Minnesotans, and from the beginning, it has become a top priority for federal and local law enforcement and remains so today.”

Michael McWhorter, 29; Joe Morris, 22 and Michael Hari, 47, are charged with “using an explosive device to maliciously damage and destroy” the Dar Al Farooq Islamic Center in the predawn hours of Aug. 5, 2017, using a PVC pipe bomb, No one was hurt in the explosion, which heavily damaged the imam’s office, but about a dozen people were gathered in a room nearby for morning prayers. Morris and Hari made their initial appearance Tuesday on federal charges related to an attempted bombing in Champaign, Ill.

The three were charged after a confidential source alerted authorities that they were responsible for the bombing, according to the news release.

The FBI described the weapon used as an “improvised explosive device,” the remnants of which were flown to Virginia for expedited analysis at the bureau’s forensic lab.

Labeled as the FBI’s top investigative priority for its Minneapolis office, the bureau announced a $30,000 reward for more information in the weeks after the bombing as leads began to prove elusive.

It was not immediately clear Tuesday what led to a break in the case.

Gov. Mark Dayton quickly labeled the blast an act of terrorism as elected officials and other community leaders gathered to show support in the immediate aftermath of the attack. Last fall, mosque leaders released video of the explosion captured on cameras inside the center in hopes of generating tips that could lead to an arrest. But no known footage existed from outside the building because Dar Al-Farooq did not have security cameras in place outside at the time of the bombing.

Although no one was injured in the attack, imam Waleed Meneese’s office took a direct hit from the bomb. Its windows were smashed and its floor, ceiling and walls destroyed. Shrapnel also ripped through the furniture.

In January, more than 100 people visited the center for an open house celebration of renovation work done for free by the North Central States Regional Council of Carpenters. The carpenters union repaired the office using floor panels and electrical work donated by different companies.

The repairs inside and outside the office cost “thousands of dollars,” according to its executive director Mohamed Omar. The center had raised more than $98,000 through a GoFundMe campaign, with part of the funds going toward reconstruction.

Stay tuned to for more on this developing story.

Knarfs Knewz / Summation of comments by Eddie today -and my 2 cents
« on: March 13, 2018, 03:25:04 PM »
""His problems started in high school, when he started smoking marijuana," she says. Nicholas transferred to a high school for kids with substance misuse disorder, a facility where recovery from drug addiction and alcoholism was a part of the curriculum, with support group meetings and drug testing, she says.

So...was it pot? Or was it being busted for pot by his parents ?  Or was it the "tough love"  and being dumped into rehab and alterna-school.

I happened to know two very privileged kids who OD'ed and died.

 I'll always think that it was the push into AA and rehab and "special schools" that had as much to do with their eventual early deaths as it was pot, or even alcohol, which is always a factor but almost never mentioned. This is how rich parents deal with their kid's minor experimentation. They throw the big guns at it, which is stupid and doesn't work."

Increasingly these kids have very little to live for. Their future seems unnavigable. As the US slids further and further into into a third world country, the problems will be compounded. This article is telling us that. We are collapsing as a culture and society. 

"Who needs 130K when the tabloids are offering millions. "

THE WOMEN BRAVE ENOUGH  ( and with enough evidence) TO BRING DOWN THE POTUS!

"And now let the tearful confessions begin.

Articles like this one are just more fuel to pour on the #MeToo fire. All women have been raped. All men are serial rapists. Send all the men to be sex rehab, so that they can confess their sins and be forgiven. We must re-indoctrinate the entire male population. At once!"

I'd swear this comment was written by Charelston Heston"! :)

"And now, the gay sexual predators must be punished! Looks like they're a little late on this one."

If I place myself in the shoes of these young gifted musicians, and had a teacher that abused me, I know it would be HUGE problem for me to continue with my carrer. But for some, it is just political and social justice warriors trying to look good.

"Rape-arations! "

I think castration should be the punishment for rape.

"Brave new world.

They just have the grace and ability to change with the times.

My friend’s story proves men can change. Now educators are working with young boys to help them escape gender roles at an early age

I have a friend – let’s call him Dave, though that’s not his name – who is active in his church, a loving and supportive husband, and a hilarious dinner companion. He’s also a former rapist.

He confessed this to me in fits and starts, over dinners and phone calls and late-night drinks, after we’d known each other a couple of years.

His story matches much of the research my work relies on, but it still forced me to re-evaluate some of my core assumptions about rapists and about the role of men in ending rape.

Dave’s former MO is familiar to anyone who thinks about sexual violence for a living. He picked victims he knew. He got them alone, encouraged them to have conversations that made them feel vulnerable, and pressed a lot of alcohol on them. And then, when they were too drunk to consent, he “had sex” with them. (That’s how he thought about it at the time, though today he will tell you straight up it was rape.)

The research is very clear: most rapists know they don’t have consent, and they rape an average of six times each. Before Dave told me his story, I thought that meant that most rapists were essentially sociopaths. I worried for a long time that Dave, too, must be a sociopath. But I’ve done a lot of thinking and searching on that idea, and I just don’t think he is. I think he’s a guy who grew up with some very toxic ideas about what it means to be a man.

While Dave’s violence is inexcusable, his story also gives me some hope. It shows that men can change. Even men who’ve already done terrible things.

Better models of masculinity are everywhere, if you know where to look.

When I polled my friends about where they find examples of the kind of masculinities they want to see more of in the world, the crowdsourced list was dazzling in its diversity and included the musician Frank Ocean (for his “openness and vulnerability around sexuality”); the basketball star Steph Curry caring for his daughter at post-game press conferences; all of Barack Obama’s interactions with children; queer men of various stripes subverting the very definitions of manhood; and an array of fictional men of film and TV, including Bob from Bob’s Burgers and modern superheroes like the Flash and Midnighter.

American men may be enjoying more emotional vulnerability in their superhero stories, but they also elected the living embodiment of toxic masculinity as president. Trump has spent his life defining his manliness in opposition to the women he dominates and degrades. He has been accused of sexual assault by over a dozen women, including his first wife, Ivana. The men he’s installed into power share his attitudes.

And when these men talk about making America great again, one of the things they’re yearning for is the re-establishment of “traditional” gender values in which men are dominant, women are subservient, and anyone who questions whether that’s really the natural order of things is punished.

My friend Dave grew up in a household steeped in those very values. It was only in learning that there are other, better ways to “be a man” that he became the friend I know him as today.

That’s not to say that we should let guys who’ve already offended of the hook in order to tempt them into the light. If you hurt someone, whether or not you mean to, you should face consequences. In fact, consequences can sometimes help facilitate learning.

“I think one of the reasons my behavior went unchecked for so long is that I didn’t suffer any consequences,” recalls Dave. It wasn’t until he lost a friendship he valued that he had to think about his behavior in a new light.

Whatever he knows now, he still hurt those women, and if any of them decided to hold him accountable for that, I’d support them. So would Dave, for that matter.

He has hardly become a full-time feminist crusader, but he does small things that make a big difference. He refuses to laugh at rape jokes or slut-shaming or anything that reduces women to commodities, and he goes out of his way to explain to other men why these things aren’t funny.

He doesn’t vote for candidates who want to control women’s access to abortion or birth control.

He’s raising his daughter to know that her body is her own.

These are, of course, small victories, less “revolution” and more “baby steps toward basic human decency”.

The difficulties in divorcing masculinity from misogyny aren’t confined to the tricky business of rape prevention.

Hostile sexism – the kind that involves calling women degrading names, rape and rape threats – is the kind that’s most often linked to toxic masculinity. But it’s not the only kind of masculinity that relies on the dehumanization of women. After all, if men were just hostile to women all of the time, why would any of us enter into relationships with them?

Instead, hostile sexism plays Mr Hyde to benevolent sexism’s Dr Jekyll, the two of them teaming up to keep women subservient to men’s needs. Benevolent sexism says that real men protect “good women”, who are morally superior angels living on uncomfortably narrow pedestals. It’s a kinder, gentler way to force three-dimensional women into two-dimensional boxes and strip us of our humanity.

We have to get a lot more deliberate if we want to transform masculinity into a healthy identity that doesn’t rely on the subjugation of women. It would be a whole lot easier if we started at the beginning, teaching boys that being strong includes being able to embrace their own vulnerable emotions and that girls aren’t teacups or trophies or aliens from Venus but fellow human beings who are pretty dang interesting.

Karen BK Chan, a sex and emotional literacy educator, speaks compellingly of the need to teach boys resiliency in the face of sexual rejection. “How might we empathize with a young guy who is balancing masculinity pressures and the desire to show and receive love?” she encourages us to ask. “How can we help him experience bearable rejection instead of unbearable failure?”

Across the country, dozens of programs work with high school and college-age boys to help them rethink what it means to be a man. These programs need to start younger. We need to shift from an intervention mindset – trying to shift young men’s conceptions of masculinity after they’ve already been formed – to a prevention mindset in which we help boys develop healthier ideas about gender to start with.

Research suggests middle school could be an ideal time to inoculate boys against toxic masculinity. Middle school boys’ ability to resist traditional masculine norms is relatively strong, but weakens when they get to high school.

Maine Boys to Men (MBTM), a program that has long worked with high school boys, is developing a curriculum for middle school boys that teaches them to see and sidestep the rigid gender roles they’re already growing into. That’s only part of its shift from being strictly a training program for high school students to becoming a multifaceted program working to transform masculinity at the community level.

In some ways, this shift is the result of the executive director Matthew Theodores’ very productive midlife crisis. Until 2012, he was general manager for marketing and strategy at a division of Microsoft. Unfulfilled, he started looking for not-for-profit organizations to connect with and stumbled into a board position at Boys to Men.

Since he had three boys of his own, then ages six, eight, and eleven, it’s no surprise the work quickly got under his skin, or that he saw the potential impact of working with younger boys.

MBTM adapted its high school curriculum for a middle school audience and tested it during the 2015-2016 academic year, reaching just over 500 boys in southern Maine. It tuned it up accordingly, adding more periods of physical activity and centering emotional literacy as the heart of the program, and wound up with a four-hour curriculum. The program is usually delivered one hour at a time over the course of four weeks at participating schools.

The course begins with the “gender box” exercise that’s a hallmark of all MBTM programs. The idea is simple: the group leader draws a big box on the chalkboard, and the boys brainstorm stereotypes of masculinity. All of those go inside the box. Then they discuss what happens if a guy tries to behave in a way that’s not described in the box. Those punishments and threats hover around the outside of the box. The completed visual serves as a jumping off point to discuss how confining traditional masculinity can be and how harmful to both boys and girls, both men and women.

Once they are primed to move beyond the gender box, the course gets the boys up and moving through a series of exercises in which they have to decide what they think about topics related to sexism and violence and debate their opinions with peers. Empathy is the glue that holds together all of the ideas in the course.

As an adult woman, my presence would have inhibited the boys in the middle school program. But MBTM let me check out day two of a two-day program for high school students. The high school programs differ from their middle school work in more than age grouping – the high school group is mixed gender, with a hand-selected bunch of students the school has identified as being leaders or showing leadership potential across a range of social circles, teams, and interests. The idea is to use these teens as a schoolwide vaccine, each inoculating those in their particular spheres of influence.

In one exercise, students were asked to respond physically to a series of scenarios by walking toward one side of the room or the other to indicate where on the spectrum of “healthy” to “abusive” the relationship being described sounded to them.

The most contentious scenario involved a girl, Lindsay, and her prom date Ben. The two have left an after party when Ben turns off on to a strange side street and stops the car. Lindsay pretends to sleep. He kisses her neck, gropes her breast. She pushes his hand away; he gropes her some more.

The three students who take a stand in Ben’s defense are all girls: “She didn’t say no.”

One boy says: “It’s not on her to say something. She has indicated that she does not want this to continue.”

A facilitator ends the stalemate, announcing that what Ben did is sexual assault, in no uncertain terms. The girls remain unconvinced. It’s a stark reminder that toxic masculinities aren’t just perpetuated by men.

After completing the program, the students will be assigned an adviser and encouraged to help their fellow students step out of their gender boxes.

It’s all part of a focus on making a community project of shifting gender norms that everyone can take part in. To that end, MBTM is also expanding its adult offerings, including a boot camp for new dads that offers practical parenting prep along with some exercises to help the dads think about how they want gender to play out in their relationship with their co-parent, their parenting style, and the values they pass on to their kids.

Though the high school program has proved effective through years of evaluation, it’s too soon to say what impact the new offerings will have. But the signs are encouraging.

Feedback from the middle school boys is almost universally positive, with most of them saying they’re going to change the way they talk to people or adjust their judgments about how others do gender. “Kids have come up after we’re done,” facilitator Sam Eley tells me, “and said, ‘Man, I’m really not going to try and be in a box!’”

The staff at MBTM hopes that the project will transform the kind of measurement they can do on the effectiveness of their interventions, by following the students as they grow into high schoolers and beyond. That kind of longitudinal data on transforming masculinities is nearly nonexistent and could light a way forward for many other programs to follow.

And not a moment too soon, because the boys are already being influenced by our fragile masculinist-in-chief.

Restorative justice has been put forward in the US as a new, and in some cases, better approach to dealing with sexual violence

Something had snapped inside Gretchen Casey. Maybe it was the way the doctor propped himself up on the side of the exam table, letting his legs swing nonchalantly over the edge. Maybe it was the casual tone he struck when he said: “So I heard you had a rough night.”

But whatever the reason, Casey had come to a decision. This man was not going to touch her.

What had happened was not just a “rough night”. A rough night was stepping out to find your car had been towed, or that your friend had thrown up in the back seat. It was not waking up in the dead of the night to be threatened at knifepoint. It was not the experience of being blindfolded and raped in your apartment, all the while praying not to die.

The last thing Casey wanted now was to be probed and swabbed by some clueless doctor. So she refused to undergo a rape exam. “And I made that decision in a split second. Who did that hurt? It hurt me.”

Looking back on that moment, Casey, doesn’t blame the doctor for her decision. She had been reluctant to report her rape in the first place, afraid that the man would come back and kill her if she did.

But now she recognizes the fears and pressures she faced while reporting her rape as one reason why there need to be alternatives to the criminal justice system. She is exploring one such approach by using a practice called restorative justice to help other sexual assault survivors.

In the wake of the #MeToo movement, restorative justice has been put forward in the US as a new, and in some cases, better approach to dealing with sexual violence – one that puts the victim’s needs first. The concept has received high profile support in recent months, most notably from the American actors Ashley Judd and Laura Dern.

Restorative justice encompasses a variety of actions designed to repair the harm a crime has caused. Sometimes, that means bringing the accuser and the accused together in a dialogue, to discuss the impact of a crime and settle on a plan to make amends.

These dialogues aren’t about debating facts or sifting through evidence. Rather, the wrongdoer has to admit to his or her actions in order to participate.

But as Casey has seen first-hand, the process doesn’t come without risks. “It’s got to be understood that this is not a solution to every case. It is not. But I think it should be an option.”

Before the attack, Casey, then a 23-year-old urban planning student at the University of Florida, knew little about criminal justice.

But afterwards, Casey was flung headlong into a world of prosecutors and defense attorneys, prisons and plea deals. It would ultimately lead her to pursue a career overseeing victim services at the state attorney’s office in Gainesville, Florida.

Her first time in a prosecutor’s office, though, was filled with anxiety. “I’m overwhelmed. I can’t do this,” she remembers thinking. “I don’t want to be here.”

Overcome with nerves, she was sobbing before her testimony even started. “It was so humiliating to have to recount, ‘OK, so what did he say to you?’” Casey, 57, recalled, getting flushed at the thought of it.

At the time, Casey was unaccustomed to swearing, so she had no choice but to spell out the insults: “C-U-N ...”

The whole experience left Casey feeling hurt, even a bit angry. She arrived at the same conclusion she had at the hospital: that she would never, ever talk about her rape again. “My life is going forward,” she thought. “I am not getting stuck on that day.”
‘They wanted to restore their view of themselves as a good person’

Mary Koss, a leading research psychologist in the field of sexual violence, was studying the rape recovery process when she came across restorative justice. She observed a link between the self-blame that led to post-traumatic stress and the “adversarial” courtroom tactics survivors were subject to.

For all the pressures of the legal system, Koss believes its results are meager. One study found that in English-speaking countries such as the US and the UK, only 12.5% of sexual assault reports result in a conviction. Statistics like that left Koss wondering: “Are we just going to turn these people away and say we have no justice for you?”

To find answers, she led the first peer-reviewed, quantitative evaluation of restorative justice, focused on adult sexual assault.

Arizona prosecutors referred 22 cases to Koss’s program, all of which involved misdemeanor or felony sexual assaults. The offenders, Koss said, were motivated to participate because “they wanted to restore their view of themselves as a good person”.

But before the process could begin, both the offenders and the people they harmed had to meet individually with a case manager. It was a chance to manage expectations, as well as establish some basic rules: any bickering, victim-blaming or swearing would be grounds for terminating the conference.

Each victim-offender meeting was tightly choreographed, right down to who arrived first in the parking lot. Victim impact statements were written in advance, and stand-ins were available to read them, in case the process was too emotional or the victim didn’t want to be there.

Offenders, meanwhile, were instructed not to apologize right off the bat. “We said, ‘No, you have to earn the right to do the right thing,’” Koss explained. Each offender left the conference with a plan to make amends, plus a year’s worth of supervision, to make sure they followed through.

All told, participants reported high rates of satisfaction with the process. But Koss points out that restorative justice is no substitute for post-traumatic stress treatment.

“Restorative justice is justice, not therapy,” she said. “I’m not making claims that it made people better.”

Still, Koss noted that a few survivors were so relieved that they laughed during the proceedings. “One of the prosecutors said to me, ‘Do you know, I have never in my entire career seen a rape victim laugh until now?’”
Why had he done it? ‘There was no one else to ask but him’

That sense of relief was something Gretchen Casey desperately craved, even 23 years after the night of her assault. No matter how determined she was to put the whole incident behind her, questions still dogged her: Had he been watching me? How did he know where I lived? And why would he do this to me?

In the aftermath of the attack, Casey remembers jolting awake each morning around 3am, gripped with an unshakeable need to check the doors and windows and make sure everything was bolted shut.

And then there was that nagging need to understand why the assault happened in the first place. “The prosecutor couldn’t answer that question. The detective couldn’t answer that question. They didn’t think to ask those questions,” Casey said. “So there was no one else to ask but him.”

He, of course, was the man who had broken into Casey’s apartment that summer night in 1984, one stop on a string of sexual assaults that would land him back in prison, where he remains to this day.

For her own safety, Casey makes a point of never using the man’s name publicly. Given that she still lives in the same town and goes by the same name, Casey doesn’t want to risk drawing his attention.

But back in 2006, Casey resolved to meet him face-to-face, just as she had read about in her restorative justice literature.

John Howard, Casey’s then husband – and her boyfriend at the time of the assault – supported her decision but harbored concerns. “I thought definitely it could go very badly,” he said. And he wasn’t alone. Casey said her contact at the Florida department of corrections also cautioned against the meeting.

But Casey pushed forward with her plans. This would finally be her chance to explain to her rapist the impact of his crimes – something she had never done in a courtroom.

At least, that was the idea. Casey says three days after he agreed to the meeting, her rapist called it off.

“I was devastated all over again,” Casey said. “I felt like, once again, he was in control.”

The risk of re-traumatization is one reason why Michael Dolce, a Florida lawyer who represents sex crime survivors, remains skeptical of restorative justice.

“I think restorative justice reflects, in the context of sex crimes, a complete misunderstanding of what sex crime victims go through,” he said. “And I think it provides a very dangerous ‘out’ for sex criminals that leaves others at enormous risk.”

A survivor of sexual abuse himself, Dolce says he’s spent nearly $300,000 on his own recovery – but restorative justice is not an option he’d consider personally.

“To be perfectly blunt, I don’t want to be reconciled with somebody who has the pathology of resorting to a sex crime as a way to exert power and control, which is what sex crimes are about – first, last and always,” he said.

Given that the majority of offenders know their victims beforehand, Dolce worries that survivors might be vulnerable to emotional manipulation and feel forced to forgive.

“It basically says to a survivor that you need to accept a process that is going to restore this perpetrator to the point of reconciliation with the community. Where they’re here as if we’re back to normal,” Dolce said. “When inside, I know for the sex crime victim, they’re not back to normal. It’s never normal for them.”
Grassroots approaches stir tension

Gretchen Casey wasn’t personally ready to give up on the restorative justice system just yet – even though she had experienced its pitfalls.

She was still grappling with the emotional aftershocks of her victim-offender dialogue falling through when a friend handed her a slender paperback: How to Write a Movie in 21 Days. It proved to be just the inspiration she needed.

Casey decided if she couldn’t have the restorative dialogue she wanted, she would script one. “I got to write every question I would have asked. And I got to figure out what I wanted him to say to me,” she said. “And who was in charge of everything that happened? I was.”

But she didn’t stop there. Another friend encouraged her to take her screenplay to a local film-maker, James Babanikos, who was eager to tackle the project.

The resulting film, Somewhere Beyond, premiered in 2009, and when it did, Babanikos noticed a change come over Casey: “I could almost feel her sigh of relief at this chapter of her life finally being over.”

Casey, meanwhile, felt she had finally achieved success. “I got my meeting vicariously through surrogates, you could say. But I got my meeting,” she said.

Other survivors have also been forced to improvise when formal restorative justice processes were not available. Some have confronted their abusers on their own, or in the company of untrained facilitators.

These improvised approaches have spurred tensions, according to David Karp, director of the Project on Restorative Justice at Skidmore College.

While some practitioners embrace grassroots efforts, others want to professionalize restorative justice to ensure its safety, Karp said. “But that might limit access for people who might not otherwise have the privilege to get the training.”

Karp notes that interest in restorative justice has risen in recent years, but its growth is hampered by misperceptions – namely that restorative justice and mediation, which requires no acknowledgement of wrongdoing, are one and the same.

Still, Karp believes an increasing acceptance of mediation has opened the door for restorative justice to be embraced too. Recently, the Trump administration rolled back Obama-era guidance restricting the use of mediation to address campus sexual assault.

But at the same time, federal funding for research “has kind of dried up”, he said. “Maybe because this is still new and controversial.”

Mary Koss, who worked with Karp on a recent research proposal, suspects a different motive.

“We have a tough-on-crime mentality here, as is well known in the world,” she said. “Restorative justice is viewed as soft because it does not involve incarceration. And therefore it is resisted by a certain portion of the public, and currently by our justice department.”
‘We need to be able to demonstrate that repair is possible’

But Gretchen Casey is optimistic that interest in restorative justice will continue to swell, particularly as the #MeToo dialogue shifts from raising awareness to finding solutions.

Late last fall, she decided to apply restorative practices to the sexual assault cases she encounters as the director of outreach and advocacy at the River Phoenix Center for Peacebuilding, a Gainesville-based not-for-profit group.

One of her first leads came early this year, when a colleague connected her to a thirtysomething named Nick.

Nearly a decade ago, Nick – who asked that his full name be withheld – was convicted of sexual assault, after a fellow college student accused him of forced digital penetration.

When Casey first sat down with Nick, she found a man looking to shed light on events that remain muddled in his memory – “someone,” as she put it, “who is trying to put the pieces of their life back together again”.

As Nick tells it, the night of the assault went by in flashes, brought on by an alcoholic haze. He had already downed two pitchers at a friend’s birthday dinner – “I was pretty much drinking my supper” – before he spotted a woman he knew at a nearby bar.

She was under the legal drinking age, and Nick, being slightly older, bought her a shot. They went back to the dorms together.

“I very much do recall like, being intimate and making advancements toward sex and touching, and then there being a rebuff,” Nick said. Later, after some cuddling on a beanbag chair, Nick claims he blacked out entirely.

The next morning, he woke up alone in his own bed, surrounded by feces, with no recollection of how the night ended. It was only later that he would hear the allegations against him.

“It was just like the floor fell out,” he said. He ultimately spent nearly three years in prison.

But looking back, Nick wonders if that was the fate his victim intended for him. He thinks she might have been trying to initiate a kind of restorative dialogue with him – a dialogue that instead went horribly awry.

A few months after the assault, she had shown up at Nick’s workplace, hoping to talk. But Nick, afraid of violating his restraining order, suggested meeting at the public defender’s office instead.

Once they arrived, however, the lawyer there was determined to keep them apart. Nick claims the lawyer went so far as to berate the victim for stirring up trouble.

As he left, Nick spotted the victim balled up on the sidewalk, crying. It was only later, during his plea hearing, that Nick heard she had been questioning whether to proceed with the case against him. (Due to the sensitive nature of the restorative justice process, the Guardian could not reach out to the victim ahead of publication.)

Nick doesn’t deny that a restorative justice dialogue could help him personally: after a nearly decade on the sex offender registry, he’ll soon be able to petition for review of his status.

But ultimately, Nick hopes a restorative justice conference can help him achieve his “life mission”: He wants to work in education and show others that “your circumstances as a victim or a perpetrator” do not have to “define or limit your life”.

That message resonates with Casey, who struggles with labels like “survivor” and “rape victim”. In a funny way, Casey says she sees herself in Nick’s shoes. She remembers wanting a restorative justice meeting too, not knowing if one would happen.

Eventually, Casey hopes to reach out to the woman Nick sexually assaulted, to see if she’d like to participate in a restorative dialogue. But for now, Nick and Casey are starting slow, meeting once a week to talk through the experiences that changed their lives so many years ago.

Recently, at one of their meet-ups, Casey asked Nick a question: are there any acts too extreme for redemption?

“He only paused for a few seconds,” Casey remembers, sitting pensively on her couch, a pair of tortoise-shell glasses perched on her nose. “And he said: ‘I think that is the opportunity where redeemable behavior occurs.’”

The memory makes her smile. “I really haven’t been able to let that go,” she said. “It’s in some of the most extreme and egregious acts of violence that we need to be able to demonstrate that repair is possible.”

Letter from actor’s lawyer offers return of $130,000 fee and asks that no action be taken to prevent the airing of an interview on CNN

Stephanie Clifford, who uses the stage name Stormy Daniels, on 9 March 2018 in Pompano Beach, Florida.

Stormy Daniels has offered to give back a $130,000 fee paid to her by Donald Trump’s personal lawyer in return for her silence about her alleged affair with the future US president.

A letter from the pornographic actor’s lawyer Michael Avenatti to Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, on Monday offered to pay the $130,000 (£93,000) into an account of the president’s choosing by Friday.

It gives Trump until noon ET on Tuesday 13 March to accept the offer.

The letter asks that no action be taken to prevent the airing of an interview that the actor – real name Stephanie Clifford – recently recorded with the CNN journalist Anderson Cooper for the CBS news program 60 Minutes, for which Cooper is a regular contributor.

Trump has denied Clifford’s allegations of having had a lengthy affair with him in 2006, the year after he married Melania Trump.

“Ms Clifford wants to be able to tell her story directly to the American people and say what happened with the president, as well as his efforts to silence her,” Avenatti told the Guardian on Monday.

“She wants the people to decide who is shooting straight with them and who is being less than forthcoming. One of the fundamental premises that America was founded on was the right to free speech and that’s very important to her,” he said.

Cohen, a longtime Trump lawyer, has admitted paying Clifford $130,000 in 2016. In February, the celebrity magazine In Touch published a 5,000-word interview detailing Clifford’s story.

In a series of twists and turns last week, the White House press secretary, Sarah Sanders, was the first to acknowledge from the administration’s side that there had been any contact between Trump and Clifford, claiming that he had won a case “in arbitration” against the actor.

Then on Wednesday night, the New York Times obtained a copy of a temporary restraining order issued by a private arbitrator in Los Angeles on 27 February precluding one Peggy Peterson from disclosing “confidential information” as defined in an earlier secret agreement.

Peggy Peterson is a pseudonym for Stephanie Clifford, according to a separate lawsuit brought by Clifford days later, while Trump, for the purposes of his legal dealings with Clifford, “was referred to by the alias ‘David Dennison’ or ‘DD’”.

Cohen had used a shell company, Essential Consultants LLC, to wire the $130,000 to Clifford.

The New York Times broke the story on Monday of Clifford’s offer to pay back the 2016 fee of $130,000 paid to her by Cohen.

As well as a TV interview with Cooper, the letter also says that if Clifford’s offer to return the fee is accepted, she would then be permitted to: “(a) speak openly and freely about her prior relationship with the President and the attempts to silence her and (b) use and publish any text messages, photos and/or videos relating to the President that she may have in her possession, all without fear of retribution and/or legal liability for damages.”

Cohen admitted last Friday that he had used a line of credit based on the value of his own home to gather the $130,000 to pay Daniels, and had used his email account associated with the Trump Organization – the president’s business empire – to communicate about the payment. He says he paid Clifford in a personal capacity. There is no proof that Trump knew about or approved the payment.

Knarfs Knewz / Millennials Hit Hard by Opioids
« on: March 13, 2018, 03:43:49 AM »
The death rate continues to rise sharply among young adults.

Between 2015 and 2016, the death rate for people ages 25 to 34 rose by more than 10 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

To some people seeking their next high, the fact their drug of choice is potentially fatal isn't a deterrent; it could be an attraction, Samuels says. "Millennials feel that they can live forever. They have no concept of dying because they are young," he says. "When I was a kid using heroin, I never thought I would ever die. In fact when there was a brand of heroin on the street that was killing people, we wanted that brand because it meant it was really, really good. Our rationale was, 'Well, the person who overdosed and died just didn’t know what they were doing.' And that's what [some] millennials think today."

Samuels, 65, grew up in New York state and was using drugs and alcohol regularly by the time he was 14. He started using heroin at age 16 and three years later was arrested for possession of cocaine and heroin. A judge gave him the choice of going to a treatment center or prison for four years, and he chose rehabilitation. Samuels kept drinking and using drugs for more than a decade after his first stint in rehab, and finally stopped for good after his father died suddenly of a heart attack in 1984. He eventually started a treatment center and has remained sober.

Helping people struggling with addiction get better is immensely rewarding, Samuels says. But most people with substance abuse disorder never get treatment, research shows. In 2016, an estimated 21 million people age 12 or older in the U.S. needed substance misuse treatment, but only 2.1 million people got it, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. That represents about 11 percent of those who needed treatment. These figures include people who needed treatment for drugs other than opioids as well as people who needed help for misuses of alcohol. The survey also found that 93 percent of young adults ages 18 to 25 who needed substance misuse treatment did not get it.

Many people, including large numbers of millennials, simply don't have access to substance abuse treatment because they don’t have health insurance, says Edward "Eddie" Haaz, a certified addictions specialist and licensed counselor in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. He's also a board member with the Livengrin Foundation, a nonprofit substance abuse treatment center in Bensalem, Pennsylvania.

Treatment for substance misuse can be pricey. Haaz notes. Stays in rehab centers typically range from a few thousand dollars per month to more than tens of thousands of dollars for every 30 days. A stay at a "meat and potatoes" facility without "steam rooms, massage therapists or culinary experts" will cost a minimum of about $450 a day, Haaz says. Some high-end programs charge $50,000 to $75,000 a month. "Unless a person is gainfully employed in a job with health benefits, the access to treatment is challenging at best," Haaz says.

Of course, there's no guarantee that treatment will work for everyone, as Clare Amoruso of Cabin John, Maryland, would attest. Amoruso is a member of Surviving Our Ultimate Loss, or SOUL, a support group for mothers who have lost a child to an opiate overdose. In December, 2016, her son, Nicholas, died of a heroin overdose at age 37.

"His problems started in high school, when he started smoking marijuana," she says. Nicholas transferred to a high school for kids with substance misuse disorder, a facility where recovery from drug addiction and alcoholism was a part of the curriculum, with support group meetings and drug testing, she says. Nicholas regularly attended support group meetings and stopped using drugs for a couple of years. But by the time he graduated with honors with a degree in finance from the University of Maryland, he'd stopped going to meetings and had resumed using marijuana, and at about age 27 started using heroin.

Over the years, Nicholas did stints at five or six rehab facilities, but he couldn't stay away from drugs. In 2016, Nicholas moved in with his parents after he had back surgery and took a leave of absence from his job. One morning about two weeks before Christmas his mom found his body. "I think the cravings were just overpowering," Amoruso says.


CEU's international student body, as well as the Hungarian public, have protested in support of the university

The Central European University, a Hungarian-American school that has been under fire from Hungary's right-wing government, plans to open a satellite campus in Vienna, Austria.

"The memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Vienna, which will be presented to our Board of Trustees at the end of this week, is an initial step towards expanding our university's operations," said a statement from CEU.

The university is accredited in the United States and Hungary and issues diplomas valid in both countries. It was founded in 1991 and is funded by George Soros, an American billionaire originally from Hungary known for his support of liberal causes.

The Hungarian government, headed by Prime Minister Viktor Orban, says the university is in violation of a 2017 amendment to the country's education law - often called "Lex CEU" - that requires universities to offer classes in every country in which they're accredited.

The Hungarian accreditation board re-accredited CEU's Hungarian operations in February, causing many to mistakenly believe the university would continue operations in Budapest.

Also, CEU quietly began offering classes on the Bard University campus in New York State in early 2018, which some thought would fulfill the government's requirements.

A Hungarian government spokesperson told Al Jazeera there was still no agreement in place that would allow for CEU to continue operations in Hungary.
Targeted campaigns

Opponents of the law said it specifically targeted CEU, which is known for its support of refugees, the Roma minority, and the European Union.

Refugees and the Roma minority decry what they say are discriminatory policies from the Orban government, which has ruled Hungary since 2010.

Soros has also been the target of government-funded campaigns that say he wants to settle millions of refugees and "Middle Easterners" in Hungary to change the country's demographics.

"The MOU provides the opportunity, but the CEU community will make decisions together on what university activities are appropriate for our third campus, and determine the timing," the statement said.

It remains unclear whether the university will be welcomed by Austria's government, which is headed by a centre-right party in a coalition with the far-right Freedom Party.

The Freedom Party takes a hardline stance against immigration and is considered a Euro-sceptic group. The Freedom Party controls the ministries of foreign affairs, interior and defence.

However, the city of Vienna says CEU is more than welcome.

"For Vienna as a university city, cooperation with the CEU offers the opportunity of the century," Vienna's Mayor Michael Haupl said.

Knarfs Knewz / President Trump halts Broadcom takeover of Qualcomm
« on: March 13, 2018, 03:32:20 AM »
U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday blocked microchip maker Broadcom Ltd’s(AVGO.O) proposed takeover of Qualcomm Inc(QCOM.O) on national security grounds, ending what would have been the technology industry’s biggest deal ever amid concerns that it would give China the upper hand in mobile communications.

The presidential order reflected a calculation that the United States’ lead in creating technology and setting standards for the next generation of mobile cell phone communications would be lost to China if Singapore-based Broadcom took over San Diego-based Qualcomm, according to a White House official.

Qualcomm has emerged as one of the biggest competitors to China’s Huawei Technologies Co [HWT.UL] in the sector, making Qualcomm a prized asset.

Qualcomm had earlier rebuffed Broadcom’s $117 billion bid, which was under investigation by the U.S. Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), a multi-agency panel led by the Treasury Department that reviews the national security implications of acquisitions of U.S. corporations by foreign companies.

In a letter on March 5, CFIUS said it was investigating whether Broadcom would starve Qualcomm of research dollars that would allow it to compete and also cited the risk of Broadcom’s relationship with“third party foreign entities.”

While it did not identify those entities, the letter repeatedly described Qualcomm as the leading company in so-called 5G technology development and standard setting.

“A shift to Chinese dominance in 5G would have substantial negative national security consequences for the United States,” CFIUS said.“While the United States remains dominant in the standards-setting space currently, China would likely compete robustly to fill any void left by Qualcomm as a result of this hostile takeover.”

A White House official on Monday confirmed that the national security concerns related to the risks of Broadcom’s relationship with third party foreign entities.

A source familiar with CFIUS’ thinking had said that, if the deal was completed, the U.S. military was concerned that within 10 years,“there would essentially be a dominant player in all of these technologies and that’s essentially Huawei, and then the American carriers would have no choice. They would just have to buy Huawei (equipment).”

Huawei has been forging closer commercial ties with big telecom operators across Europe and Asia, putting it in prime position to lead the global race for 5G networks despite U.S. concerns.

Huawei has a dominant position in China, which is set to become the world’s biggest 5G market by far, and has also made inroads in the rest of world to compete with rivals such as Ericsson (ERICb.ST) and Nokia (NOKIA.HE) in several lucrative markets, including countries that are longstanding U.S. allies.

Qualcomm is also a major player in 5G, estimated to have 15 percent of 5G-essential patents in the world, compared with 11 percent for Nokia and 10 percent for all of China, according to a Jefferies report citing LexInnova research. Many smartphone makers are counting on Qualcomm to deliver its 5G chipset on time in late 2018 to roll out their 5G phones in 2019.

Shares of Broadcom rose less than 1.0 percent to $264.10 in after-hours trade while Qualcomm fell 4.3 percent to $60.14.

Broadcom said it was reviewing the presidential order.“Broadcom strongly disagrees that its proposed acquisition of Qualcomm raises any national security concerns,” it said in a statement in response to the decision.

Qualcomm, which had delayed its annual shareholder meeting during the CFIUS review, set the new date for March 23.

The move by Trump to kill the deal comes only months after the U.S. president himself stood next to Broadcom Chief Executive Hock Tan at the White House, announcing the company’s decision to move its headquarters to the United States and calling it“one of the really great, great companies.”

This is the fifth time a U.S. president has blocked a deal based on CFIUS objections and the second deal Trump has stopped since assuming office slightly over a year ago.

“The proposed takeover of Qualcomm by the Purchaser (Broadcom) is prohibited, and any substantially equivalent merger, acquisition, or takeover, whether effected directly or indirectly, is also prohibited,” the presidential order released on Monday said.

The order cited“credible evidence” that led Trump to believe that Broadcom’s taking control of Qualcomm“might take action that threatens to impair the national security of the United States.”

Broadcom had struggled to complete its proposed deal to buy Qualcomm, which had cited several concerns including the price offered and potential antitrust hurdles.

The presidential decision to block the deal cannot be appealed. However, it is not clear what rules Broadcom would have to follow if it goes ahead with announced plans to move its headquarters to the United States.

Companies may challenge CFIUS’s jurisdiction in court but may not challenge the inter-agency panel’s national security findings, a CFIUS expert said.

If Broadcom decides to press on with its effort to buy Qualcomm, it would be wise to drop the matter for now while the company quietly wraps up its move to the United States, a second CFIUS expert said. Once the move is done, Broadcom could argue that CFIUS does not have jurisdiction, the second expert said.

Both spoke privately to protect business relationships.

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